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COMPLETE: Live From the Fireside: Season 15 (Week 400: The Lucky Warrior)

Nov 8, 2005
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Brock and the gang are back for a fifteenth season!

Week 374: The Fairies' Garden

(real tale: Fairies and Thistles)

The Fireside's auditorium rings with applause as Brock arrives onstage to kick off the show's fifteenth season. Some had speculated that on a momentous occasion, Brock would possibly mix in some fan favorites as well as the new tales.

Brock, meanwhile, waited for the applause to quiet before beginning his tale for the week. "Once upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant and his wife. They had everything they could ever want, but they had one burning desire--to have a child. Sometimes they would travel into the village, where they would see the common people working hard to earn a living. But the merchant and his wife envied these people because they all had children."

Intrigued murmurs fill the room at this. "One day the merchant decided that it was time he and his wife had a child of their own." Brock explains. "So one day, he visited one of the poorest peasants. He offered to pay the poor man a good day's wages every day, in exchange for his youngest daughter, Irina."

Angry chatter races down the rows at this, but Brock is not done setting the terrifying scene. "It goes without saying that the peasant simply closed the door in the merchant's face. Within days, false rumors had spread through the town about the peasant and his wife. No one in the village would give them work or speak to them, and the teachers refused to teach their children."

He then intones "Some time later, the merchant visited the peasant again. He warned him that if he did not turn Irina over to him, he would poison the town's well."

Gasps fill the air at the shocking turn of events. "Not wanting to risk the chance of innocent people dying, the peasant and his wife sent Irina to live with the merchant, albeit with heavy hearts." Brock sighed as he settled in a chair, took his guitar, and started a sad melody. "The merchant and his wife showered Irina with gifts, but she was always sad. She missed her mother and father, and she cried herself to sleep each night. The merchant and his wife were certain that over time they would win Irina's love, and so they continued to shower her with gifts. But Irina already had far better treasures--love, trust, and family."

Murmurs of agreement go up from the front row. "A few years passed, but Irina's sorrow did not fade." Brock continues as his song turns mystical. "She was happy only when she was outside among the Pokemon and trees and flowers. When Irina passed through the woods, the Pokemon ran toward her as if she was a long lost friend. The Pachirisus ate out of her hands, the Sawsbucks walked by her side, and every tree seemed to bow down as she walked by."

Giggles go up at Brock's song reference. "One afternoon, Irina walked through a field of flowers." Brock goes on. "Suddenly a tiny winged figure emerged out of one of the flower cups and began to dance in the air before her. Irina recognized the tiny being as a fairy--the guardians of nature, and protectors of children, and children at heart."

He starts a jig as he continues "Irina danced all afternoon, until long after the moon had risen. She was, for the first time in years, happy again."

When Brock finishes the song, he continues "The next morning she woke up smiling, but she was very tired after all the dancing. Still, she slipped away to dance again with the fairies, and the next morning she was more tired still."

He intones "After a while the merchant figured something was up, so he followed Irina at a distance when she went to play that afternoon. He hid behind a bush and watched as Irina danced with the fairies, and when he saw this amazing sight, he had a brilliant idea. He would try to catch the fairies and sell them for a pretty penny."

He assures the antsy audience as he changes instruments. "So he reached into a flower, and prepared to snatch a fairy. But when he did, the flower turned into a prickly thistle and poked his skin."

Laughter goes up at the harp chord signifying the poke. "He turned to another, and this one too turned into a thistle. Soon he was surrounded by thistles, and they tore and scratched and scraped at his skin." Brock continues as he continues playing high chords to signify the thistles' pokes. "Irina took that opportunity to run, and never looked back until she had reached her real home."

He smiles. "Needless to say, the greedy merchant and his wife were never seen again.

He concludes. "Irina was joyfully welcomed home, and she told her family how the fairies had rescued her. She hoped that wherever a lonely child lived, the fairies would appear to grant them happiness--if only for a little while."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Brock sets the harp aside and gets up to take a bow...
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Week 375: The Boy Who Brought Music

(real tale: Stealing the Drum)

"Long ago, a boy--whose name is not known to us-- was hunting in the jungle when the ground beneath his feet began to shudder, and he heard a haunting sound from far away." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "The boy stopped in his tracks. The sound caused his heart to throb and filled his mind so completely that he could think of nothing else. He had to find the source of that sound."

Intrigued murmurs fill the auditorium at this. "So he ran through thick brush, climbing over vines, crossing streams, and crawling when the bushes were too thick to walk through." Brock goes on. "The sound grew louder and louder, but our hero hid behind a tree. As he peered into a clearing, he saw a beautiful and powerful Pyroar conducting a literal band of Pokemon. As the Pyroar patiently kept time with a stick for a baton,, the sound of drums, guitars, harps, flutes, fiddles, horns, shakers, and all kinds of other instruments seemed to swirl into the sky."

"Wow"s fill the air as the Firelights strike up a festive melody for effect. But they begin clapping along as Brock jumps in for a guitar solo. "The rhythm surrounded our hero, and he felt as if he was flying towards heaven itself." Brock explains as the music quiets for a moment, save for the progression he is playing. "When he turned his head, he saw that he was not the only one who loved the music. Every single Pokemon in the jungle was dancing!"

He picks up the progression as he describes the wondrous scene. "The Talonflame perched on the Simipour's shoulder as the Simipour bounced up and down. The Gogoat and Heatmor twisted in circles while the Hippopotas swayed around the Donphans. Liepards and Sawsbucks, Deerlings and Stantlers, Chatots and Braviaries leaped and whirled and swooped in time to the song."

Brock waits for the applause to die down before continuing "Our hero held his breath and gripped the tree. He knew he did not belong with the Pokemon, and if he showed himself, they would likely attack him. Still, his feet were tapping and he longed to sing along. He wanted nothing more than to dance and sing."

He plays an ominous chord. "When the sun began to set, our hero figured the Pyroar would end the song. But the band of Pokemon played on, and the other Pokemon danced on. As darkness fell, the boy knew he had to go home, and so he went back the way he had come. He couldn't wait to tell the villagers of his discovery."

He continues "The moment he reached the edge of his village, the people hurried to meet him. The boy had been away for a long time, and even his mother had feared the worst. Our hero told the people what he had seen and heard. But while there were some that believed him, many more were unsure about the boy's claims."

Fearful murmurs fill the room. "But the boy's mother was very wise. She told the boy they would ask the village elder what to do--as the leader of the village, the elder had the last word." Brock explained. "As they walked to the elder's house many people began to follow them. Everyone wondered if the elder would believe the boy or not."

He continues over an interlude "The elder listened as the boy told his story. After thinking the matter over, he told the boy..."

"What you claim is indeed amazing...if it is true." he explains in a mimic of Kiawe for the elder. "But I will give you a chance to prove your claim. If you can bring back one of the instruments the Pokemon were playing, we will know if you speak the truth."

As himself, he continues "The villagers agreed that this was a fair decision, and agreed the boy depart the next morning."

He plays another interlude as he continues. "When the sun rose, the boy hurried back to the clearing where he had watched the Pokemon dance, and once again he was amazed at the sight. He began to think if he could only take one of the instruments, the elder and the people would believe him.

Murmurs fill the room, but Brock assures the audience "Luckily, the Pokemon band was taking a break. Before the Pyroar knew what was happening, our hero grabbed one of the spare lutes and hurried away."

Some applause goes up at this. "He ran as fast as he could, never looking back, never stopping even to catch his breath. When he reached the village, he showed the lute to the people.

"This is one of the Pokemon's instruments! The source of the magical sound!" he calls in a mimic of Ash for the boy, gesturing to his own guitar for effect.

As himself, Brock continues over a jig "With that, he began to play the mystical lute as he had seen the Pokemon do. Even though he had never taken a music lesson before, he somehow knew how to play the lute--every strum, every chord, and every note. Soon the people's feet were tapping. The people could not help themselves. Every single person in the village began to dance."

He concludes As long as the boy played that lute, the people danced. The people eagerly made their own instruments just like the Pokemon. They understood that the boy had told the truth all along. From that day forward, the people of the world learned about the power of music, and made their own instruments to spread the joy music created."

"Aw"s fill the air as Brock and the Firelights take a bow...
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Week 376: The Greedy Gatekeeper

(real tale: The Fisherman and the Gatekeeper)

"Once upon a time, the king of a far away land arranged a banquet to celebrate the birth of his first child." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "He invited kings, queens, nobles , and heroes from all over the world to attend. For weeks before the celebration, the king's attendants hurried about, preparing for the lavish event. They swept and dusted and polished every corner of the castle, gathered fresh flowers from the gardens, and decked the halls with ornaments and ribbons."

He interjects "But most importantly, they cooked. They made salads with sesame seeds and shredded cabbage and carrots, rice noodles and fritters, tapioca and semolina cake, everything but the main course, the fish. The fish had to be the freshest fish imaginable, caught the very day of the feast."

"Mm"s waft down the rows of the theater at this. "Everything was ready the morning of the banquet, but as the cook called to the fishermen, a storm suddenly blew up." Brock intones. "The wind howled, trees shook, and the waves battered the shore. The fishermen, their boats lined up along the shore, shook their heads. No one was going out in that kind of weather."

He goes on "When the cook gave the king the bad news, he nearly wept. He wanted to impress his visitors, but now what could he do? There would be no feast, after all -- at least not one he could be proud of."

He assures the jittery audience "About then, the gatekeeper appeared before the king, and informed his lord that a fisherman wanted to see him. When the fisherman was shown into the throne room, his net was brimming with the finest Magikarp and Goldeen."

"How did you manage to catch these?" he gasps as the king

"I heard of your dilemma," he explains in a younger version of himself for the fisherman. "So I went to sea to catch these."

"You risked your life to bring me these!"

"But here I am, safe and sound."

As himself, he continues. "The king asked the cook to take the fish to the kitchen. He then told the brave fisherman that as a reward for risking his life for his lord, he could have anything he wanted."

He grins. "Imagine the king's shock when the fisherman told him he wanted a hundred lashes--a punishment typically reserved for lying to the king or a judge."

Gasps and confused chatter fill the air. "The king was just as shocked as you guys, and assured the fisherman that he had done nothing to deserve a hundred lashes." Brock goes on. "But no, the fisherman was serious. So rather than lash him, the servant simply tapped him on the back with the whip handle. When they got to 50 taps, the fisherman asked to see the gatekeeper."

Confused murmurs go up at the turn of events. "The king was confused like you guys, but the fisherman explained that he had to share his reward with the gatekeeper." Brock explains. He told the king that when he had arrived at the palace with his catch, the gatekeeper had not allowed him in until he swore that he would share any reward with him, 50-50."

He assures the crowd "The king was furious to learn of his gatekeeper's greed. He ordered his servant to bring the gatekeeper, and he received a full hundred lashes at full power. He was then stripped of his post and banished from the kingdom, never to return again on pain of death."

Brock assures the audience as he concludes. "As for the fisherman, he was allowed to sit with the king at the head of the table. The banquet was a grand success, and all the guests agreed that they had never tasted such delicious fish before."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Brock takes a bow...
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Week 377: The Princess and the Woodcutter

(real tale: The Princess and the Woodcutter)

"Once upon a time, in a fantasy land far from here, there lived a woodcutter named Henry who worked for the king." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "The king's daughter, Princess Catherine, was a beautiful girl with rosy cheeks and a spirit like Henry's -- happy, lively and kind. Every day she helped Henry carry the wood, and she listened to his stories of wise and clever elves, brave heroes, proud dwarves, and helpful fairies."

Excited whispers fill the room as Brock continues "As the years passed, Princess Catherine fell in love with Henry. But in those days, a princess marrying a commoner was only seen in a bedtime story. Such a thing happening in real life just wasn't done."

The whispers turn angry at this. "Still, Princess Catherine wished she was in the forest, longing to see the elves and fairies her beloved told her about." Brock continues. "When her ladies-in-waiting fussed over her, Princess Catherine would send them away. She would then hurry to the forest, where the air smelled like sunshine. The court would tell her that her hands would grow rough, or a splinter would get stuck in her fingers. But Princess Catherine didn't care--the forest was a mystical and wondrous place, and she wanted to see it all."

He continues "When Princess Catherine came of age, many a suitor came to win her hand. They all saw the splinters, and snickered among themselves about her rough hands and tanned skin. Of course, none of these princes loved Princess Catherine. They loved her riches more, and their fathers wished for their sons to own all the land that came to anyone who married her."

More angry whispers waft down the rows. "One day, Princess Catherine told Henry about the many princes, and how she didn't like any of them." Brock explains. "But Henry was equally shocked when Princess Catherine told him she loved him more than anyone!"

He assumes a thoughtful pose. "Henry thought long and hard about this. How could he marry a princess? This was a common scenario in a bedtime story, but in real life, it just wasn't done."

He assures the audience "He was snapped from his thoughts when he saw the king and queen on a walk through the forest, deep in conversation. So he decided to listen in. He heard the queen complain about how every suitor had a flaw she didn't like. The king agreed, saying he wished for a kind and sensible man to marry his daughter. The queen then proposed a test--she would disguise herself as a beggar, and whoever treated her well would marry Princess Catherine; regardless of his social status. The king thought this was a great idea, and Henry did too--maybe those bedtime stories of yore could come true!"

The audience listens as Brock continues "About then, one of the suitors came passing that way--his name is not important. He was a proud young man, and was always boasting of one thing or another. When he saw the disguised queen, Henry watched as he kicked her and slapped her, calling her all kinds of nasty names that are not worth repeating here."

He quickly assures the audience "Henry tended to the queen's wounds, and assured her Catherine would not suffer from someone being so boastful and cruel."

Murmurs of agreement well up from the front rows. "The next day, another suitor came that way--his name is not important either." Brock continues. "This suitor seemed to always be happy, but this was because he loved things more than the real treasures of love, faith, and trust. When he saw the disguised queen, he walked right past her, not even sparing her a piece of lint. Henry saw this, and assured the queen that outward appearances were not the only thing that mattered--real treasures came from the heart."

Affirmative chatter goes up as Brock goes on "On the third day, another suitor came--this suitor enjoyed fine food a bit too much, so he was very fat. Not surprisingly, he refused to give the disguised queen even one bite of the food he ate. Henry was repulsed by the fat and greedy prince--he vowed Princess Catherine would go to someone that would not overindulge, and share what he had with the less fortunate."

Once back at center stage, Brock continues "Some days passed like this, and Henry saw all the flaws Princess Catherine told him about with his own eyes. Finally, he worked up the courage to approach the disguised queen. He gave her some fresh bread and some wild Berries."

He smiles "The queen revealed herself to Henry, and thanked him for his kind words and kind heart. She told him he was sensible and kind--exactly the kind of person Catherine would marry!"

Some applause goes up at this. "The king and the royal court were shocked that a humble woodcutter had passed the queen's test." Brock continues. "As Princess Catherine looked on, the queen explained that she had seen that titles were deceiving, and the real measure of a person's worth was the heart."

He concludes "And so it was that Princess Catherine and Henry were married; and they lived happily ever after."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Brock takes a bow...
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Week 378a: The Cursed Necklace, part 1)

(real tale: The Necklace of the Princess Fiorimonde)

Some "Oh"s fill the air as Ash and Misty join Brock on the stage. "We're gonna do something a little different this week..." Brock explains. "This tale is an original story one of my young storyteller mentorees came up with."

"And just in time for Halloween, too." Ash grins.

"So the words are my mentoree's, but how we perform it is our own." Brock cautions.

With that, the boys hurry off, leaving Misty alone onstage. "Once there lived a king, who had a beautiful daughter named Kiara." Misty begins. "She was so beautiful that everyone thought she had a good heart to match."

She intones "But not every princess is nice."

Intrigued and fearful murmurs fill the air as Misty explains "She knew all manner of evil spells, which she had learned from a warlock--a boy witch. This warlock--we'll call him Alatar--lived in a house on the side of a lonely mountain. No one but Princess Kiara knew he lived there. But at night, when everyone else was asleep, Princess Kiara would visit him, and train in the arts of darkness. It was Alatar's black magic that had made Princess Kiara so beautiful. In return, Princess Kiara helped him with bringing terror and misery on the land."

She grins "It helped the king didn't have a clue what was going on."

Nervous giggles waft down the rows at this. "And so the years passed." Misty continues. "One year, the king began to think about who he wanted his daughter to marry."

The lights reveal the boys at stage left, pantomiming a conversation. "He summoned his council and said..."

"We have no son to follow after me. Let us search for a suitable prince to marry Kiara, and he will ascend to the throne after me." Brock explains as the king.

The spotlight blinks off, leaving Misty alone again. "All the advisors agreed this was a great idea. So heralds went to all the neighboring kingdoms, telling them that Princess Kiara was of age to marry. But when Princess Kiara heard this, she wept with rage. She knew well that if she had a husband, he would find out her secret sooner or later."

The lights go down to simulate nighttime. "That night, once sure everyone in the palace was fast asleep, Princess Kiara opened her window." Misty continues. "She whispered some evil words into the night, summoning a Honchkrow for her to ride."

A Honchkrow call from the mighttime sounds in the background punctuate Misty's point. "The Honchkrow flew over the tops of the trees until it came to the mountain where Alatar lived." Misty continues."She knocked at the door..."

Giggles go up as Misty knocks 'shave and a haircut, two bits' on the stage floor for effect.

"Why do you come tonight? It is not yet the full moon." Brock asks from offstage.

"Something is wrong, Alatar. I am in trouble, and need your help." Misty replies in character as Princess Kiara.

As herself, Misty continues "The door opened, allowing Princess Kiara inside. Alatar was also present, in his majestic blue, purple, and silver robes."

"Ooh"s and "ah"s go up as Brock appears in the costume Misty described. "Princess Kiara told Alatar everything, hiding nothing from him." Ash picks up the narration as Misty and Brock pantomime a conversation for a moment.

The lights shift over to Misty and Brock "This is troubling, indeed." Brock muses as Alatar. "You must deal with each prince, king, and hero as he comes. Would you like them to become Growlithes, to come at your beck and call? Or maybe birds, to sing of your beauty? Or will you turn them all into beads, to string into a necklace beyond compare?"

"The necklace sounds like a great idea. Little will the courtiers know where my new jewels come from." Misty smiles deviously as Princess Kiara.

"But this is an untested spell, and a dangerous one." Brock cautions as Alatar. "Unless you are very careful, you yourself may become a bead and hang on the string with the others. You will remain there until someone cuts the string, and take you off."

"I promise to be careful." Misty assures Brock as Princess Kiara. "Tell me what to do, and I will have great princes and kings to adorn me, and all their greatness will not help them."

"So Alatar conjured a long gold chain." Ash narrates as Brock snaps, creating a similar chain. "The ends were joined together, but no one could see the clasps, and no matter how hard you pulled, it would not break. It fit over Kiara's head with room to spare."

"While this hangs here you are safe enough. but if you wrap your fingers around the string you too will meet the fate of your lovers, and hang upon it yourself." Brock warns in character as he puts the chain around Misty's neck. "As for those who would marry you, all you have to do is make them wrap their fingers around the chain. They will become crystal beads, and there they will remain, until it is cut and they drop off."

The lights go down as Ash concludes "Princess Kiara thanked Alatar, and they visited until it was nearly dawn. The Honchkrow flew her home in moments; and no one was the wiser."

Misty joins Ash onstage. "So just how effective was this evil spell?"

"We will tell you more next week." Brock finishes as he returns in his normal clothes.

The crowd applauds as the three friends bow together. "That warlock costume was neat!" Ash smiles as they go backstage.

"Thank the costume department." Brock replies. "They're busy making some costumes for you too, so you can play all the princes, kings, and heroes Kiara caught next time."

"I'm looking forward to playing the hero that finally outwits her!" Ash smiles as the group returns to their dressing rooms...
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Week 378b: The Cursed Necklace, part 2)

(real tale: The Necklace of the Princess Fiorimonde)

"The next day, Princess Kiara told her father the king that she was willing to wed." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "This pleased the king. He told Princess Kiara that a young king named Patrick was coming from another land to be her husband. Patrick ruled over a vast country, and the court had many good things to say about him."

"Oh"s fill the air as Ash arrives in a red, gold, and white royal outfit. "Great preparations were made for King Patrick's arrival." Brock explains. "When he arrived, all the courtiers agreed he would be a fine husband."

Giggles goes up as Ash feigns shock over Misty arriving. "King Patrick was awestruck at how beautiful Princess Kiara was." Brock continues. "For a while, the royal visit went well. A great feast was held the night before the wedding. Princess Kiara looked lovelier than ever in a beautiful red gown. But she wore no jewelry of any kind, save for the shining gold chain."

Intrigued murmurs fill the room at this. "When the feast was over, Princess Kiara excused herself, and walked into the royal garden. King Patrick followed her, and stood beside her, looking at her and marveling at her beauty."

"Tomorrow, Kiara, you will be my Queen, and share all I have. What gift would you like me to give you on our wedding day?" Ash asks in the role of King Patrick.

"I would like a necklace made of the finest gold and jewels, to fit around this chain." Misty explains, gesturing to the prop chain.

"Why do you wear that chain? Nothing is on it." Ash asks

"No, there is no chain like this in the world!" Misty exclaims. "It is light as a feather, but stronger than diamond and mythril. Try to break it, and you will see."

The lights go down, hiding Ash hurrying offstage to change and the prop crew leaving a bead. "King Patrick tried to pull the chain, and soon vanished. A beautiful emerald appeared on the chain." Brock intones from a spotlight at stage left.

Ash returns in his normal clothes as the lights come up on Misty admiring the bead. "Princess Kiara gazed down at it with a sneer. Only she knew the truth about King Patrick's fate." he explains.

"The castle was in a panic when King Patrick was reported missing." Brock continues. " They searched the castle from top to bottom, but their guest had vanished without a trace. Not even the king knew what had really happened. He appealed far and wide for King Patrick to be found safe, but no news of his whereabouts came."

"Now, one of Princess Kiara's maids was a girl named Yolanda." Ash explains as Serena joins him onstage in a regal gown. "She was a bright-faced girl with lovely brown eyes, but she paled in comparison to her mistress. She feared Princess Kiara, and suspected her dealings in evil magic, but didn't know for sure."

Serena pantomimes assisting Misty as Brock narrates "As Princess Kiara was getting ready for bed that night, she noticed the gold chain, and the emerald on it. As she combed Princess Kiara's hair she saw how she held the emerald in her fingers. 'This does not bode well.' she mused to herself. But she realized that this was the proof she needed of Kiara's evil ambitions."

Ash picks up the story again as the girls exit. "The next morning, the wedding was called off, and efforts focused on finding King Patrick. But Yolanda swore she saw King Patrick's shocked face in the emerald. She knew the king would not believe her, so she kept quiet until she found someone who would believe her."

The girls rejoin Ash and Brock onstage in their normal clothes. "So how many more kings, princes, and heroes would the cursed chain claim?" Serena asks.

"And who would be the one to stop Princess Kiara's ambitions?" Misty adds.

"We will tell you more next week!" Ash finishes the sentence.

The crowd applauds as the group bows together...
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Week 378c: The Cursed Necklace, part 3)

(real tale: The Necklace of the Princess Fiorimonde)

The crowd murmurs as Brock, Ash, Misty, and Serena arrive onstage. "Several weeks passed like this." Serena explains. "Envoys were sent all over the world to bid any who would come and be Princess Kiara's husband. And come they did. Kings, princes, and heroes came from all over. But many found it strange that every would be bridegroom would somehow disappear during the night."

"The old king was frightened, and would have given up all hope of finding a husband for Princess Kiara." Brock adds. "But she persisted, so suitor after suitor continued to come."

"Before long, it was known far and wide that whoever came to ask for the hand of Princess Kiara vanished." Misty continues. "The courtiers were afraid, and rumors spread. Only Yolanda noticed how the beads appeared on the golden thread, and how there was always room for one more."

"Now, in a far off land lived a young prince named Jared." Ash picks up the story. "His best friend was named William, or Will for short. The two of them were loyal and kind to each other, and they would even die for each other if they had to."

"Aw"s go up at this. "One day, Prince Jared saw a portrait of Princess Kiara in the royal gallery." Misty takes over the narration. "He decided he would go to her father's court, despite Will's misgivings."

"Have you not heard the rumors, milord? Many have gone to marry her, but they all vanish without a trace." Ash tells Brock in character as Will.

"Rumor or not, I will wed her and return here, and bring my bride with me." Brock replies in character as Prince Jared.

"So he set out for Princess Kiara's homeland, and Will went with him with a heavy heart." Misty continues. When they reached the court, the king welcomed them as he had all the others. But now Kiara had grown so bold, that she didn't even try to conceal her feelings."

"Princess Kiara's ladies informed her that a new suitor had come. She was in the garden, lying on the marble edge of a fountain, feeding the Goldeens who swam in the water." Brock narrates.

"Bid him come to me, for I will not meet any suitors, neither will I put on grand attire for them." Misty muses Princess Kiara. "Let him come and find me as I am, since all find it so easy to come and go."

"So her ladies told Prince Jared that Princess Kiara waited for him near the fountain." Serena narrates. "She did not get up to meet him, but his heart leaped for joy, for he had never seen such a beautiful woman before. But the marvelous many-colored necklace was what caught his eye."

"A thousand welcomes to you, Sir Jared." Misty smiles at an imagined person in character as Princess Kiara. "Have you thought well of what you would do, since so many princes who have seen me have fled, rather than marry me?"

"Will followed his master at a distance, but he was terrified for his master's fate, and what was soon to come." Brock intones from a spotlight.

"So how did Will figure out what was really going on?" Ash asks the crowd.

"And how did Princess Kiara get her just desserts?" Misty agrees.

"We will tell you more next week!" Serena grins.

The crowd applauds as the group takes a bow...
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Week 378d: The Cursed Necklace, part 4)

(real tale: The Necklace of the Princess Fiorimonde)

"Prince Jared asked that Will leave him and Princess Kiara for a little while." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "Will reluctantly agreed, and he walked away fearing the worst for his master."

The lights come up on Ash, now in an elegant royal blue, gold and silver costume, meeting Serena, now in a gold gown, at stage left. "He met Yolanda in the royal garden." Misty picks up the narration. "She stood beneath a Leppa Berry tree harvesting the Berries. He would have passed her, but she stopped him, and said..."

"Have you come with the new prince? Do you love your master?"Serena asks Ash in character is Yolanda.

"Better than anyone else in the world." Ash deapans as Will, to some laughter. "Why do you ask?"

"Where is he now?" Serena asks. The two of them continue the conversation as their respective characters:

"He sits by the fountain with the lady Kiara."

"Then, I hope you have said your goodbyes. I fear you will never see him again."

"Why not?"

"My name is Yolanda, and I am one of Princess Kiara's ladies. Your master is the eleventh lover who has come to marry her. All the others have disappeared, and only I know where they are."

"Where are they? Why have you not told anyone of their location?"

"Because I fear my mistress. She is a sorceress, and she wears the brave kings and princes in the form of jewels, strung on a chain around her neck. Each one forms the bead of a necklace which she wears, both day and night. Ten kings, princes, and heroes now hang on that chain, and I fear your master will soon be number eleven."

"If this is true, I will not rest until Kiara is slain!"

"Keep in mind that she is a sorceress. Arceus knows what sorts of spell or charms she has protecting her. I wish I could show you the necklace, so you may see I speak the truth. But it is always around her neck, so it is impossible."

"Take me to her room tonight, and let me see it then."

"All right. But you must be very quiet, for if she wakes up, it will be the end of us both."

The lights go down, then come up dimmer to simulate nighttime. "That night, Will and Yolanda met in the great hall." Brock narrates. "Yolanda told Will that Princess Kiara was fast asleep."

"Let us go, and I will show you the necklace." Serena tells Ash as he joins her onstage. "How she transforms them into beads, I don't know."

"If I am successful at ridding the land of this evil princess, what will you promise me for a reward?" Ash asks.

"What would you like?" Serena wonders.

"I would like to have you as my bride, to love and cherish forever." Ash replies, to some "aw"s.

"I too wish to take you as my lover." Serena smiles. "But we must not speak or think of this until our mission is complete."

The lights blink over to Brock as the lights go down. "So was the two lovers' mission successful?" he asks.

"And how did Princess Kiara get her just desserts?" Misty adds.

Ash and Serena return in their normal clothes. "We will tell you the exciting conclusion next week!" Ash grins.

Applause fills the auditorium as the four friends take a bow...
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Week 378e: The Cursed Necklace, part 5)

(real tale: The Necklace of the Princess Fiorimonde)

The lights dim as Ash, Misty, Brock, and Serena arrive onstage, Serena carrying a prop lantern. "That night, they went up to the princess's room." Serena picks up the story. "Yolanda held a small lantern, which gave only a dim light." She gestures to the prop lantern for emphasis.

"There, in her grand bed, lay Princess Kiara." Brock picks up the story. "They could make out her form by the lantern's light. Will had second thoughts about what Yolanda said at first, but decided to trust her."

"As they approached the bed, Will almost forgot to look at the glittering beads around her throat. But Yolanda pulled him by the arm." Misty narrates as Ash and Serena act out what she is describing.

"Do not look at her, since her beauty has cost many lives already. I want you to look at what remains of those who fell for her charms." Serena whispers to Ash.

"She pointed with her finger to each bead in turn, naming each king or prince trapped in the stone." Brock narrates as Serena does this with a prop necklace that is designed to break apart on cue.

"Your master is trapped in this emerald on the end." Serena explains as Yolana, pointing out a green bead at the end. "You will never see him again until the spell is broken."

"What is the cord made of?"Ash asks as Will.

"The finest gold," Serena replies in character.

Brock interjects "They did not expect Princess Kiara to wake up!"

Gasps go up at this, but Brock explains as the lights go down "In the ensuing scuffle, the warlock's warning came true. No sooner had Princess Kiara wrapped her hand around the chain did the beads clatter to the floor. The colored beads became all the missing kings and princes. A single black stone remained on the chain."

The group reunites onstage as the lights brighten to simulate morning. "When Prince Jared and the other kings and princes asked what had happened, Will told them everything." Misty narrates before showing the audience the chain, which now has a single black bead on it. "He showed them the black stone, and told them it was Princess Kiara. The doom she had prepared for so many others had come upon herself!"

"Oh"s go up as Misty continues "The next morning, Will and Yolanda led the procession into the throne room. Will led the way, with the necklace on the tip of his sword. Yolanda followed him, and then the other kings and princes. At that moment, the king and his council were busy with the day to day affairs of the kingdom."

"What is the meaning of this?" Brock asks as the king as Ash and the girls arrive in the scene.

"Your majesty, your daughter Kiara knew the ways of dark magic." Ash explains as Will. "She imprisoned all those that came to seek her hand in the form of beads."

Ash and Serena pantomime talking as Brock listens in feigned fear. "The king listened in horror as Will and Yolanda told him everything." Misty narrates. "One by one, the trapped kings and princes came forward to confirm the tale was true. They all denounced Princess Kiara and her wicked wiles, and how they fell for her deception. The king and all the courtiers sat there frozen in terror, unable to speak out of fear and shame."

She continues "When the tale of terror had ended, the king said with a deep sigh..."

"We owe you deep amends, everyone! What punishment do you wish us to prepare for our wicked daughter?" Brock asks as the king.

"Give her no other punishment than the doom that has come upon herself." Ash replies as Will.

"Will then showed the king the black bead that remained on the chain." Serena narrates as Ash does this.

"Here she is, the black bead that remains on the chain." Ash explains in character. "Make sure that no one removes it. Hang the chain where all the people can see it and the one black bead. Then they will know the fate of those that would walk the path of a sorcerer or sorceress."

"They lifted the golden chain with great care and hung it up in a prominent place in the royal city. " Serena continues. "There the one black bead glittered and gleamed in the sunlight. All who saw it knew that it was the wicked Princess Kiara, who had met a fitting fate. From that time on, no one in the kingdom dared dabble in evil magic, lest they meet the same fate. Minstrels told cautionary tales of the evil princess trapped within the black bead."

"All the kings and princes thanked Will and Yolanda for their courage. They received many fine gifts, and each went to his own land." Misty adds

"Will, and Yolanda, meanwhile, were married in a grand wedding." Ash interjects.

"They returned with Prince Jared to his homeland." Brock concludes the long tale. "And all lived happily ever after."

"Aw"s and applause fill the room as the group takes a bow together...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 379: Jack's Treasures

(real tale: Jack and his Magic Aids)

"There was once a poor widow who had a son named Jack." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "Her husband had left her money when he died, but it had long since dried up. It didn't help that Jack wasn't that smart, although his father had said that someday he would do great deeds."

He continues "Now, the woman lived on a large farm rented from a greedy landlord who lived in town. The rent had to be paid once a year, and when rent day was drawing near, she found she had no money to give the landlord. She had several fine Miltanks, so she thought she would sell one and get money to pay the rent."

Giggles of anticipation fill the air at this. "One morning she sent Jack off to town with the finest Miltank she had." Brock went on. "As Jack drove the Miltank along, he passed a house standing in the forest near the road. A man sitting on the steps asked him where he was headed. Jack explained he was off to town to sell the Miltank."

He goes on "The man offered Jack three magical items in exchange for the Miltank. The first was a dish of food that never ran out. The second was a magical rope that wouldn't break, and would choke those with impure hearts..."

He then shows the audience a familiar silver tin whistle with a black mouthpiece. "The third was a magical whistle that made all that heard it dance."

Excited whispers fill the room as Brock pockets the whistle and continues the tale. "The woman was angry at first, but Jack explained he had received gifts much better than money in town. He told his mother that if she trusted him, they would never have to worry about food or money again. The woman agreed to trust her son--maybe he had some sense after all."

He intones "The next day was the rent day, and before long, the landlord and his servant came to the widow's house. When they entered the house, the widow hid in a closet, for she did not want to meet the cruel landlord without the rent. But Jack met them and bade them sit down. Then he offered them food after their long trip, and placed before them the dish of plenty. They ate and ate, and the food kept coming, but they could not stop."

The audience giggles at the comical scene Brock is describing. "By the time they were almost bursting with food, they pleaded with Jack that they had had enough. Jack replied that he would take the dish away if they would give the farm to his mother. He explained that they had paid them more rent than the farm was worth. Finally the landlord, fearing he would burst, agreed. Jack removed the food, and the landlord returned to his town, leaving the farm to Jack and his mother."

Applause goes up at this. "Jack soon left his home and his mother, and went forth into the world. He took along the dish of plenty, the punishing belt and the dancing flute." Brock explains, gesturing to the tin whistle in a pocket. "He traveled a long way, and came to a town where a great man lived who had a beautiful daughter--we'll call her Teresa."

More applause goes up in approval of the name. "Teresa had many suitors, but she said that she would marry the one who could make her laugh three times." Brock explains. "Jack decided to attempt the trial, and went to the man's house. He was a plain fellow, and Teresa looked on him with bemusement, but she consented to let him take the trial."

He explains "First Jack produced the dish of plenty, and offered it to Teresa. She ate her fill, but more food appeared faster than she could eat. She found this funny, and laughed as more and more food appeared."

Giggles ripple down the front rows as Brock continues "As soon as Jack had taken away the dish of plenty, some of the man's servants rushed upon him. Teresa was not going to marry a common man, so help them Arceus. But he threw down the punishing belt, and they were all fit to be tied. Teresa found this hilarious, and laughed all the while."

Brock retrieves the whistle as he waits for the laughter to quiet. "No sooner were the servants set free, did they rush at Jack again to punish him. But he began to play the dancing flute, and Teresa and all the servants started dancing."

The crowd claps along as Brock plays a set of tunes for effect. "Teresa was enthralled by the music, and she laughed even more as she kept on dancing." he explains as he pockets the whistle again. "Teresa's father was stunned when he heard of Jack's cleverness. He gave his blessings for the marriage. Even though Jack came from humble origins, he still had a kind heart. What he lacked in book-smarts, he more than made up for in street smarts."

He concludes "And so it was he lived happy ever afterwards with his bride Teresa, because of the dish of plenty, the punishing belt, and the dancing flute."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Brock takes a bow...
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@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 380: The Promise of the Three Sons

(real tale: The Son's Oath)

"There was once an old man who had three sons and a daughter--their names are not important to us." Brock began as he arrived on the stage. "When the time came for the old man to join Arceus in heaven, he summoned his sons, and had them make a promise. They promised to give their sister to the first one who asked for her hand, no ifs, ands, or buts."

Intrigued murmurs waft through the rows as Brock continues "When some time had passed, an old man came to the house, and asked for the sister's hand in marriage. The two elder brothers refused at first. But the youngest son reminded them of the promise they made. So they gave her in marriage to the old man."

He goes on "After some time, the elder brother went to visit his sister. When he got there, it was a large house, worthy of a well to do person. The sister was beyond happy when she saw her brother. When he asked her how she was doing, she replied that she was doing very well, thank you."

Giggles waft through the room at this. "The old man arrived about then, and was very pleased when he saw his wife’s brother." Brock continues, quieting the giggles.

"Welcome, good sir--let us celebrate your visit." he smiles in a gentle older voice for the old man. "But before we do anything, will you please bring some grass for my Ponyta? Be sure not to cut it right and left, only where the Ponyta shows you."

As himself, he continues "The eldest brother promised to do this, and went off. As he went towards the fields, he came to a silver bridge. When he saw the bridge, he dismounted, and pulled off a silver piece."

"Ooh"s go up at this. "When he got to the fields, he cut the grass right and left. Once back at the house, he put the Ponyta in the stable, placed the grass before her, and went off into the house. When he arrived, the old man asked him whether the Ponyta was eating the grass. the eldest brother said yes, but the old man went to see for himself. When he got there, the Ponyta had not touched it. The old man knew the eldest brother had not done as he had been told. He sent the eldest brother away hungry."

Some angry murmurs go up, but Brock quiets the chatter. "After some time, the middle brother went to visit his sister. But he too, disobeyed the old man, and was sent away hungry. After some time, the youngest brother, too, went to visit his sister. When his sister spotted him, she told him to do as he was told. The youngest brother agreed to this. When his sister’s husband came home, he, too, was well pleased with the youngest brother. The youngest brother got the same request."

He continues "When he arrived at the bridge, he marveled at its beauty, but noticed two pieces missing. When he got to the middle, he saw water bubbling in a huge cauldron under the bridge. When he looked closer, he saw skulls boiling in it, and Honchkrows pecking them from above."

"Ew"s fill the air at this. "Next he came to a village, where he noticed everything was sad and sorrowful. A man told him that hail pelted them every hour, and the people had nothing to give." Brock continues. "Then he found two Tepigs on the road battling. He tried to break it up, but to no avail."

More intrigued murmurs fill the room as Brock continues. "Then he came to another village, and heard singing and happiness everywhere. A woman told him every hour gave plenty, so no one was ever in need of anything. Finally, the Ponyta carried him to a very beautiful meadow, and pawed at the grass. The youngest brother cut some of the grass and returned back to the house. When he got to the house, he led the Ponyta into the stable, laid the grass before her, and the Ponyta ate her fill. When his sister’s husband saw that he had satisfied the Ponyta, he was well pleased."

Relieved whispers go up as Brock explains "At dinner, the youngest brother told the old man of all the strange things he had seen on his errand. The old man told him the meanings of what he had seen. The silver bridge had two pieces missing because his brothers had stolen them, and been judged for their greed. The huge cauldron of skulls and the Honchkrows, symbolized the eternal torments they suffered. The suffering village were people that had lost all hope, even of finding the light again. The battling Tepigs were two brothers that did not get along. The joyful village were those that understood that true wealth did not come from power and money; but from the heart. The meadow represented the holy realm, where Arceus and the Legendaries watched over the world."

"Oh"s go up at this. "The youngest son was awed at his host's wisdom." Brock explains. "He now understood why his brothers had been punished and he rewarded."

He concludes "They enjoyed each other’s company for three weeks in all. The youngest son was given many fine gifts, because he had honored the promise he had made."

"Aw"s and applause go up as Brock takes a bow...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 381: Arceus and the Innkeeper

(real tale: The Lord of the Cranes)

"One day, Arceus decided to visit the world he had created." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "He wanted to see if people were remembering to be kind and generous. So he disguised himself as a poor man, and flew through the clouds, faster than any Braviary, until he came to a city in the east. While he walked along the city streets, Arceus met a beggar, and created a fine cloak of many colors--he had an idea."

"Peace--let me give you this fine cloak to keep you warm." he offers in character as a young man to an imagined person at stage right.

"Oh, no, sir! I am unworthy of such beautiful clothes!" he protests in a breathier young man voice for the beggar. "Why do you offer such a beautiful thing to a beggar?”

As himself, Brock continues "Pleased at the beggar's humility, Arceus revealed himself to him."

"I have come down from heaven to test the people--because you have shown a kind and humble heart; I know you will use this gift well." he explains as Arceus.

As himself, Brock continues "The beggar gratefully accepted the cloak, thanking Arceus all the while. Arceus gave the beggar his blessing and went on his way. Day after day, Arceus traveled through the streets of the beautiful city. Many wealthy people passed by, but no one seemed to notice him. Not a single person gave him much of anything, save for only a few pennies at a time."

Angry whispers waft down the rows at this. "One evening Arceus arrived, tired and hungry, at a small inn." Brock goes on. "The innkeeper welcomed him, and asked him..."

“What can I do for you, sir?" he asks in a mimic of Flint for the innkeeper.

“Could you give me a little something to eat and drink? I have traveled far, and don't have much to pay with." he explains as Arceus.

As himself, he goes on "The innkeeper assured Arceus that he would still get a hot meal and a bed, regardless of how much money he had. Needless to say, Arceus' heart was as full as his stomach when he left the inn the next morning."

"Aw"s go up as Brock goes on "On the following evening, Arceus stood again at the inn’s door. He was welcomed, and treated just as kindly as the night before. From then on, Arceus came every day to that inn, where he was always welcome. Many months passed, and before long, Arceus and the innkeeper were close friends."

He explains "One day, Arceus said to the innkeeper..."

“I am deeply in your debt. You have done so much for me, so let me find a way to repay you.” he begins as Arceus.

“But you do not need to repay me! What I have given to you, I’ve given out of the goodness of my heart. It makes me happy when I can help someone.” he protests as the innkeeper, to some laughter.

“Nonetheless, I would like to repay you. I may not have much money, but I can give you something much better than that.” he assures the imagined person as Arceus.

He continues as himself "With that, Arceus found a paint brush, and used it to paint a mural depicting a summertime scene on the wall of the inn. No detail was left out--Arceus included a starry night sky, flowers in the fields, the people dancing for the summer festival, and more. The innkeeper was amazed when he saw the mural--the detail was so exquisite, the scene looked as if it would come alive at any moment. Arceus just smiled, and sang..."

He pauses to sing Seios, higarima laisido... as Arceus. "As the innkeeper watched in awe, the mural came alive. He saw children playing and laughing in the fields, travelers walking beneath the starry sky, and the festivities of the summer festival in the town." Brock continues as himself.

“I made this so your guests would be happy. Cherish it, and never have it washed away or painted over." he instructs as Arceus.

As himself, Brock acknowledges a presence backstage before continuing "At this point, the innkeeper was curious as to who his guest was. But before he could ask the question, Arceus had left."

Excited chatter goes up at this. "Soon everyone in the city was talking about the living mural at that inn. " Brock continues. "More and more people came every day to marvel at the beautiful and festive scene. Before long, the innkeeper was one of the richest men in the city, but he continued providing for anyone in need, as he had always done."

He intones "One day Arceus returned. The innkeeper hurried to greet him, sat him at the best table, and brought him a delicious meal."

“Please tell me who you are.” he requests as the inkeeper.

As himself, Brock continues. "Arceus said nothing. Instead, he took a bansi from his bag, and played a melody that was so tender and beautiful it brought tears to the guest's eyes."

The audience listens in amazement and excitement as a bansi playing such a song is heard from backstage. “That was a melody from heaven--thank you for allowing me to hear it." Brock smiles in character as the innkeeper. "You have made me a rich and happy man. How can I ever repay you?”

“Teach others to be as kind and generous to all people, just as you have been to me. That is my only wish." he replies as Arceus.

He interjects as himself "With that, Arceus played another song."

The audience wonders who is playing as the bansi plays another beautiful melody from offstage. "As the innkeeper looked on in awe, Arceus waved farewell, and returned to heaven in a flash of light." Brock continues, quieting the chatter.

He concludes "The innkeeper realized who the unusual traveler really was. Deeply humbled, he returned to his inn. For the rest of his life, he tried to fulfill Arceus' wish—telling all who would listen of his miraculous encounter with Arceus, and urging them to share with the less fortunate."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air, but the applause intensifies as Ash joins Brock onstage, his bansi in hand. The crowd roars as both boys take a bow together...
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@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 382: The Light Fairy's Gogoats

(real tale: The Goats with the Golden Fleece)

"Once upon a time, a carriage drawn by three shining Gogoats rode past a field." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "Suddenly, the Gogoats escaped the carriage. and dashed into the field where three field hands--their names are not important to us--reached out and captured them."

He adds "The men began to stroke their shining white fleece, amazed by its luster."

"Thank you for catching my Gogoats. They're magical." he explains in a mimic of Serena for an unknown female character

"Magical, you say?" he asks in a mimic of Ash for one of the hands.

Brock next reveals who the female character is, in character. "My name is Lucia, and I'm a fey of the light. As thanks for capturing them, I offer them to you as gifts. Take care you watch over them. If they escape, they'll dash back to the fey realm, and you'll never find them again."

"Thank you. We'll take good care of them." he smiles as one of the hands.

As himself, Brock continues "The three of them hurried home with their Gogoats, and sheared the shining white fleece. As they had imagined, the fleece sold for more money than they had ever dreamed of having. One of the hands quit his job. The second did too. But the third kept working--he warned that they shouldn't be greedy."

More intrigued murmurs fill the room as Brock continues "They branded the Gogoats with a black mark between their golden horns. If they ever did run away, they would recognize them. Two of the hands also tied ropes around their Gogoats' horns and hired people to look after them. But the third hand kept his Gogoat close and took him everywhere he went. When they sold more fleece, the two other hands moved into a great palace, where they dressed in fine clothes, ate fine food, and referred to themselves as nobility."

He explains "The third hand also made a great deal of money. He built himself a lovely house, but he still took his Gogoat everywhere. Before long, his Gogoat was so tame that he needed no rope. He followed his master everywhere and came to him when called."

Some in the audience jump as Brock whistles for effect. "One day, the humble man decided to wind his Gogoat's shining white fleece into yarn." Brock explains, pantomiming what is going on as he narrates the process. "He placed the fleece upon his Gogoat's horn, pulled it across his head and began to twist. Suddenly the Gogoat jerked his neck, and the thread tightened and stretched."

He interjects "The humble man understood he had more than a Pokemon; he had a partner."

"Aw"s go up at this. "When he had pulled the fleece into yarn, he wound the yarn around the Gogoat's horn." Brock goes on. "As if he had always done this, the Gogoat began to sway his head from side to side, helping his master to create balls of shining white yarn. Those balls of yarn fetched even more money in the market than the fleece, but Leo thought he was rich enough, so he began to give his money away to the less fortunate, and anyone that was down on their luck. While the other hands spent their days taking long baths and meandering through the fields they had once worked, Leo just kept doing the work he had always done."

He intones "Then one autumn morning, the unthinkable happened--the Gogoats ran away."

Gasps go up at this. "Hearing this news, the two rich men raced to the barn. When they saw their Gogoats dashing into the woods, they gave chase. Before long, they were deep in the woods, at the borders of the fey realm. In the distance was Lucia's castle."

"I knew you would come for your Gogoats." he muses as Lucia. "They joined us earlier, but as I warned you, you'll never find them."

"But, we've marked them--how can this be?" he gasps as one of the rich men, to some laughter.

"Ah, but all my Gogoats bathe in the stream nearby, and the magical stream washes away every mark." he explains as Lucia.

As himself, Brock goes on "The two began to search the barn, looking at this Gogoat and that Gogoat. But just as Lucia said, no marking was on any of them. The two of them returned to the mortal realm without their Gogoats, where they once again had to work to earn a living."

He assures the antsy crowd "Meanwhile, the humble man made his way to Lucia's castle. When he told her his Gogoat was missing, she beckoned him to search the barn, and search he did. He stared into each Gogoat's eyes, hopeful he would find the sparkle in his companion's eye. But that sparkle was nowhere to be found."

Worried whispers waft down the front rows, but Brock assures the audience "Heartbroken, the man asked Lucia if he could take a lock from each Gogoat to remember his lost companion. "Lucia agreed, so the humble man clipped one small lock from every Gogoat. When he had a handful of yarn, he tied it to a barn post to twist it into thread, and as he pulled and twisted, out of a stall stepped one Gogoat. It hurried forward, bent his head and slipped his horn into the thread, where he began to pull."

He smiles "Leo immediately recognized his companion, and gave him a big hug."

More "aw"s go up as Brock concludes "Lucia was touched by the man's love, kindness, and humility, and allowed him to take back the Gogoat. So of the three, only the humble man lived happily ever after."

The "aw"s become applause as Brock takes a bow...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 383: The Deva's Daughter)

(real tale: The Immortal's Daughter)

"Long ago, somewhere in Kanto whose name is lost to us, there was once an island, and on top of a mountain on this island lived a deva--a divine being that reports to Arceus and the Legendaries-- and his daughter, Eilís." Brock begins from a spotlight at center stage. "Because the river was wide and there were no bridges or ferries, the island and the mountain were completely inaccessible to people. The two people who lived there neither saw nor sought any other human company."

Intrigued murmurs go up at this. "Now, one day Eilís went to wash clothes by the riverbank." Brock continues. "While doing her chores, she suddenly noticed a young man standing on the far shore, staring at her. The young man had nice enough features, and Eilís couldn't help blushing at all the attention she was receiving. She quickly finished doing her laundry, bundled the clothes up, and left."

Giggles go up at this. "The next day Eilís returned to the same spot to do some more washing." Brock went on. "Once again, she spotted the same young man looking at her, and once again she finished washing in a huff and hurried home. On the third day, Eilís went back to the same riverbank, this time to wash a roll of silk. There, across the river, was once again the same young man, staring at her. Curiosity had now gotten the better of her, so she decided to find out what he was doing over there."

"Why do you stand on the riverbank every day?" he asks in a mimic of Serena for Eilís.

"I would like the great immortal who is rumored to live on your island to accept me as a student, good lady." he replies in a mimic Ash for his hero. He then proceeds to perform both ends of the conversation:

"Then why don't you just come over? Standing around and gawking at me won't help you!"

"Well, I would, but there seems to be a mighty river between us. How am I supposed to cross it without a boat or bridge?"

As himself, he interjects "Eilís took the roll in her two hands and unraveled it, allowing it to unwind all the way across the river until it stopped at the young man's feet. It now formed a sturdy, safe bridge."

Applause goes up at this. "The young man could not believe his eyes." Brock went on. "Without waiting to thank Eilís, he walked across the silk bridge to the island. When the two young people came face to face with each other at close range, they both blushed and remained silent for a few minutes."

He then performs the conversation between the boy and Eilís:

"What's your name? Where do you live?"

"My name is Eilís, and I am the daughter of the one you seek. Who are you?"

"My name is Brian. I come from farther south."

"My father and I live in a house of glazed tile on the mountain. Go up the path and you will find him there."

As himself, Brock continues. "Brian located the house of glazed tile and respectfully approached the deva, who was sitting outside the house, meditating. He told the deva of his desire to be accepted as a student. The deva decided to test Brian's abilities.

"Tomorrow morning, go to the ridge and gather two bundles of reeds." he instructs in a gentle male voice for the deva. "Carry the bundles on the pole near here."

He narrates as himself "The next morning Eilís encountered Brian. Once sure her father was out of earshot, she asked him..."

He performs another conversation:"

What does my father want you to do?"

"Nothing special. He just wants me to take the pole to gather two bundles of reeds."

"Take care! When you take the pole, make sure you grab it by the third joint from the top or bottom. If you fail to do this, it will turn into an Arbok and bite you to death in a flash. After you have gathered the reeds into bundles, take the pole and poke each bundle through its center until the bamboo pole goes out the other side. If you don't do this, both bundles will turn into hungry Raikous which will devour you on the spot!"

As himself, he continues "Brian took note of Eilís's warning and went on his way. He went to the other side of the house, where he found the bamboo pole. He then picked it up by holding it at the third joint. He went to the mountain ridge and collected reeds, which he next divided into two bundles. He then promptly pierced the center of each bundle until the pole exited the other side, all the while mindful to handle the pole at its third joint. Having accomplished this task, he returned to the house of glazed tile and presented the bundles to the deva, who was surprised, but didn't say anything other than a quiet thank you."

More murmurs go up as Brock continues "The next day the deva had a different task."

"Here is one pound of sesame seeds. Go up the mountain and plant each seed before noon!" he instructs as the deva.

As himself Brock continues "So Brian went to a broad spot near the mountaintop and proceeded to plant each seed. He finished way before noon, but now he was famished. He saw one seed remaining in the seed basket and ate it. He took his hoe, shouldered it and went back down the mountain to the deva's house. On his way down, he heard someone calling him--Eilís!"

Some cheers go up as Brock performs another conversation:

"What did my father have you do today?"

"Nothing but plant sesame seeds."

"Well, he will next ask you to gather up each and every one and return all of them to him."

"I just finished planting all of them! How am I supposed to bring each one back?"

"Don't worry. I'll help you."

He narrates as himself "They both went up to the spot where the seeds lay buried. Eilís took Brian's hat and lay it on the ground. Standing over the hat, she sang the following..."

He sings as Eilís Gatrandis favel, secret, edena....
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

Cheers go up when the song ends. "Brian peered inside his hat and sure enough, the previously planted seeds were in a neat pile. His first thought was to jump for joy, but then he remembered something." Brock narrates before performing another conversation:

"These aren't all the seeds. One is missing."

"How could one be missing?"

"I was hungry and ate one."

"Worry not--I have an idea."

As himself, he continues "Eilís picked up a Durant, placed it in a scarf in her hand, and gently wrapped the Durant up in the scarf. Then she sang...

He sings as Eilís again Imultaos, ame no, hao bakezo..., making his Mega Ring glow in response.

He continues "She then produced a sesame seed from the scarf and added it to the others. The two of them then returned to the deva's house."

Brock next role plays the conversation between Brian and the deva:

"Have all the seeds been planted?"

"Yes, milord--all of them were planted before noon."

"Well then, I now want you to retrieve each one of them!"

As himself, Brock continues "Brian then opened up his fist, displaying the original number of sesame seeds. The deva was dumbfounded but tried not to show it."

More awed chatter wafts down the rows as Brock continues "On the third day, the deva told Brian..."

"Today you are to go to the forest. I will hide there, and you must find me." he instructs as the deva.

He narrates as himself "After breakfast, Brian was on his way to the forest when he met Eilís."

He role plays another conversation between Brian and Eilís:

"What is your task today?"

"I have to find your father within the forest."

"Do you know how to find him?"

"All I know is your father is very crafty. How do you think I should go about it?"

"This is what you must do. Go from the east side of the forest toward the west. In the first row of trees, find the thirteenth inch of the thirteenth tree from the eastern side. Near that point will be an insect hole. My father will be in that hole."

"And then?"

"Cover the hole with your thumb so that he can't escape. Then, he will have to grant your every request."

As himself, ne narrates "Brian hurried down to the forest, and all happened as Eilís had said. When he caught the deva in the form of a Caterpie, he told him..."

"First, allow me to take Eilís as my wife." he requests as Brian. "Second, in the next three years, you are to teach me all your magical and martial arts. Third, you are not to interfere with me or to harm me or Eilís is any way, shape, or form."

He deadpans as himself. "The deva had no choice but to agree."

Giggles go up as Brock concludes "From that day on, the deva taught Brian all his divine arts in three years. Not long after, Brian and Eilís were wed, and all lived happily ever after."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Brock takes a bow...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 384: The Brave Fiddler

(real tale: Tanjin the Fiddler)

"In a land far away, there lived a man who had a daughter named Hinata." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "One day, he called Hinata to him and said to her..."

"My daughter, it is time that you left our humble village, went out into the world, and sought your fortune." he tells an imagined person in a mimic of Flint for the father.

As himself he continues "So Hinata left the village early the next morning to seek her fortune. A year passed, then a second, and a third--Hinata was away for four years in all. When she returned to the village after four years, her father met her and asked..."

"So, tell me what trade you have learned, Hinata." he asks Misty in character as she joins Brock onstage, a familiar fiddle in hand.

"Father, I have learned to play the fiddle." Misty replies as Hinata, playing a few notes on her own instrument for effect.

"Hinata's father scoffed at his daughter and scolded Hinata, saying..." Brock narrates.

"Most people I know have skills like forging weapons, growing crops, or taming Pokemon! What good will playing the fiddle be?" he snaps as the father.

"But Father, all who hear my music are happy!"Misty counters as Hinata.

"But Hinata's father would have none of his daughter's protests, and sent her away to learn a trade he felt was proper.

A sad guitar interlude begins as Brock appears in a spotlight as stage right, playing the song. "So Hinata gathered her fiddle and her belongings, and walked until she came to the seashore not far from his village. She settled down on top of a rock with a sigh, took up her fiddle, and played this song to the waves..."

With that, Misty plays "My Lagan Love" for effect.

"Suddenly, a young man clad in white and pale blue appeared from the water." Brock continues. "He said to Hinata..."

"Please don't be afraid--I am Kaitou, the envoy to the Prince of the Sea, Manaphy." he tells Misty in character as a young man. "Manaphy has heard your lament to the waves, and bids you to come to his palace."

As himself, Brock continues "Hinata was speechless, but gathered her belongings, took Kaitou's hand, and followed him deep beneath the sea. They came to a palace made of coral and crystal, and Kaitou lead Hinata into the throne room, where every sort of sea Pokemon gathered. Manaphy arrived not long after with grand fanfare, and took his seat on a throne made of pearl. Kaitou said to him..."

"Great Prince, this is the one that you heard playing the fiddle to the waves a moment ago." he explains as Kaitou.

He interjects as himself "Manaphy nodded in approval, and said to Hinata..."

"I welcome you to the Kingdom of the Sea, young one...perhaps you could play another melody for everyone here?" he asks in a mimic of Ash for Manaphy.

"Sure!"Misty smiles.

Brock narrates "Manaphy summoned a few of the royal drummers, and they provided a beat for Hinata to play reels by. All the Pokemon were enthralled by Hinata's skill, and Manaphy requested that Hinata stay for three days. Hinata honored Manaphy's request, and spent three days playing all kinds of dances and airs for the undersea court."

The audience enthusiastically claps along as Misty and Brock play a set for effect. "When the three days were up, the undersea court was saddened that Hinata had to leave." Brock went on. "Manaphy saw that Kaitou had fallen in love with Hinata, and wished to live on the surface with her. So he promised Hinata..."

"As thanks for sharing your music with us, you are welcome to return here any time you wish." he smiles as Manaphy. "If you are ever in trouble, return to the shore and play a tune to the waves, and I will come help with whatever troubles you."

He continues as himself "So Hinata returned to the surface with Kaitou. They found a village by the shore and settled there. They were married not long after. Hinata made lots of money playing tunes and telling stories for anyone who needed entertainment. Sometimes, Kaitou would sing along with his beloved's fiddle and aid her in telling stories. All who heard Hinata forgot about their troubles for a little while."

He plays an ominous chord. "Now, one day, the king of the land was out hunting in a nearby forest, and managed to catch two Pidgey. He commanded his envoy to go into the nearby villages and towns and find someone to cook their quarry. The envoy came to Hinata's house. Since Hinata was out playing for a dance, Kaitou was there tending the house. He agreed to cook for the envoy, and prepared the Pidgey in the manner the king liked it most. The envoy was enamored by Kaitou, and how handsome he was, and admired him the whole time he was cooking. When the Pidgey meat was ready, the envoy thanked Kaitou and returned to the royal camp. Surprisingly, the king could not finish his share of the meat, and neither could the rest of his hunting party. The king summoned the envoy and asked him..."

"How is it that neither I nor my hunting party have been able to finish this Pidgey meat?"he asks in a regal male voice for the king.

He interjects as himself "The envoy told the king about Hinata and her husband Kaitou. So the envoy returned later that night, and told Hinata the king wished to see her. Kaitou sensed something wasn't right, and told Hinata..."

"The king wishes for me to become one of his court, but I have a way to outsmart him." he tells Misty as Kaitou. "Tell him he is not to have me unless he can find you hiding within the village twice. If he fails, he is to give you a thousand Rapidashes."

As himself, he xontinues "The next day, Hinata went with Kaitou to the royal camp, and everything happened as Kaitou had said. The king demanded Hinata turn Kaitou over to him. But Hinata told the king..."

"You may have Kaitou on one condition." Misty tells an imagined person as Hinata. "You must try to find me within the village twice. If you win, he is yours, but if you lose, you are to give me a thousand Rapidashes."

"The king accepted Hinata's challenge, and Hinata returned to the village with Kaitou." Brock continues. "Once home, Kaitou transformed Hinata into a ladle."

Giggles chord up as Brock plays a harmonic chord to represent the transformation. "He then began preparing soup, using the transformed ladle to stir even as the king's men searched the village from top to bottom."

He smiles. "Needless to say, they didn't find Hinata anywhere!"

More laughter goes up at this. "The king sighed and called..." Brock narrates.

"All right, Hinata--I cannot find you...but now it is my turn to issue a challenge--if you cannot find me, Kaitou is mine!" he challenges as the king.

As himself, Brock narrates "Kaitou turned Hinata back to her true form, and said to her..."

"The king will ask the royal wizard to transform him into something out of the ordinary, so keep your eyes open!" he cautions as Kaitou.

He continues as himself "Hinata went out and looked all over the village--but soon found a tree standing by the well. Before she could cut it down, it was revealed to be the transformed king. This game of hide and seek continued for another day. The king asked to try and find Hinata again. But Kaitou transformed Hinata into a Venonat. Hinata went and hid under the king's crown while the king's men searched the village from top to bottom. Then the king asked Hinata to find him again, and asked his royal wizard to transform him. But Kaitou had told Hinata that the king had transformed into a Growlithe among Mareeps, and Hinata found the king easily."

He intones "But the king was not quite ready to give Hinata a thousand Rapidashes. He challenged Hinata to a Ponyta race--whoever had a mount that could run three days in three hours, won. Hinata told this to Kaitou, and he assured her..."

"Let us return to the sea and ask the Prince what to do."he tells Misty as Kaitou.

He narrates as himself "So Hinata and Kaitou returned to the spot where they had met some months before, and Hinata played this song to the waves..."

Misty plays the introduction of "You Raise Me Up" for effect. "Manaphy appeared in a swirl of mist and pearls, and listened for Hinata's or Kaitou's request." Brock narrates when Misty finishes the song.

"Great prince, I would like a Kingdra to ride against the king." Misty requests as Hinata.

"I will give you a Kingdra to ride, but to get them to come to the surface, play reels until the sun sets." Brock explains as Manaphy.

He narrates as himself "Hinata played all day, and as the sun set, a Kingdra surfaced for her."

The crowd cheers and claps along as Misty and Brock play another set for effect. "The two of them rode the Kingdra home. It was a very smooth ride, since the Kingdra was hovering above the ground." Brock explains. "The king's men laughed at Hinata when she arrived aboard the Kingdra the next day. But Hinata easily defeated the king with the Kingdra's swiftness."

He intones "But the king had one more challenge for Hinata--to make the sea boil and to enter it without being harmed. Kaitou suggested they visit Manaphy again, and so Hinata and Kaitou returned to the sea, and Hinata played another song to the waves as the Kingdra returned..."

Misty plays a few measures of "The Water is Wide". for effect. "Manaphy appeared in the waves, and Hinata told him..." Brock narrates.

"I would like the ability to make the sea boil and to enter it without being burned." Misty requests as Hinata/

"Moltres will be passing this way soon." Brock explains as Manaphy. "Lift your hands when she passes over the water, and she will give you an aura of fire that makes water boil. It also protects those that have it from any sort of heat, including boiling water. Only you and Kaitou will know the aura is there, and it will last until the sun sets tomorrow."

As himself, Brock continues "Hinata heard Moltres cry in the distance, and lifted her hands. No sooner had Moltres passed over the sea, did an aura of red light surround her. Only she and Kaitou could see it, just as Manaphy had said."

Awed chatter goes up as Brock goes on "The next day, she stunned the king and his men by making the sea water boil, and then entered it without being burned. The king had no idea that Arata had a protective aura, and ordered his men to follow him into the boiling sea."

"Needless to say, the king and his men were never seen again!" Misty interjects, to some laughter.

Brock smiles as he concludes "From that day on, Hinata and Kaitou lived a very happy life together, never forgetting Manaphy's promise to aid them in times of need."

"Aw"s and applause fill the air as Misty and Brock take a bow...
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@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 385: Hikari and Epona

(real tale: The Wonderful Treasure Horse)

"In a far away valley, an old hunter lived alone in a secluded glade with his beautiful daughter, Hikari." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "Besides his very modest house, the old hunter owned the divine Ponyta Epona, and a magic comb."

The quiver of arrows on Brock's back gets the crowd excited. "Now, the hunter realized he didn't have much time left." Brock explains, quieting the chatter. "He let people know that he wanted to see Hikari married while he was alive. Whoever could guess Hikari's name in three guesses would have her as a bride. Word got out, and before long, a young archer named Takuya came to the area. He and Hikari already loved each other, so all he had to do was pass this test to earn her father's blessing. So as he traveled along the road, Takuya repeated his beloved's name again and again so he would not forget it."

He intones "Takuya did not know that a Gengar lurked in the shadows, and he too had heard the name. He raced ahead to the old hunter's home. By the time Takuya got there, the Gengar had already guessed Hikari's name. Although Takuya was disappointed, he decided to watch over his beloved from the forest. This way, he could rescue Hikari if the chance presented itself."

Worried chatter fills the auditorium at this. "Before Hikari was to move away with her new husband, the old hunter gave her Epona and the magic comb." Brock continues.

"Epona and the magic pearl comb will help you with any problem you may face. Always keep them with you." he instructs in a gentle older male voice for the hunter.

As himself, Brock continues "Later that day, Hikari left home and headed for the Ghostly Valley, where the Gengar lived. On the road, Epona told Hikari..."

"Be on your guard, Hikari. Your husband is not a man, but a vicious Gengar." he warns in a mimic of Misty for Epona.

He interjects as himself "Hikari was horrified at this, and asked Epona to tell her more."

"Listen closely." he instructs as Epona. "In the Gengar's house live his five sons. Although they eat and eat, they are never full. They will approach you for food. Tell them that you will cook me for them, but first you must have their father light a big fire. Then, holding the comb, follow me into the fire. But fear not--we will both rise with the smoke and escape out the chimney."

As himself, he narrates "As soon as Hikari arrived at the Gengar's house, everything happened as Epona said. When she saw the five Gastlys wailing for food, she told them..."

"Tell your father to build a fire, and I will let you taste divine flesh." he smiles in a mimic of May for Hikari.

He continues as himself "The Gengar built the fire, and then he and his five sons stepped back to watch Hikari cook Epona. They did not understand that Epona was a god-Pokemon. Hikari took the pearl comb, and followed Epona. Both of them floated up and away with the smoke into the sky."

Cheers go up at this. "Epona carried Hikari to a clearing in a forest, where Takuya was hunting Buneary." Brock narrates.

"I know you love Takuya, and he loves you in kind. You two deserve to be happy together." he smiles as Epona.

He continues as himself "Hikari told Takuya about the Gengar, and, together, the three fled even farther away. Takuya and Hikari were married not long after this. In time they had two children, a boy and a girl--their names are not important to us."

"Aw"s go up at this. "Three years passed before the Gengar finally figured out where Hikari and her family were." Brock intones. "He bided his time until a day when Takuya was away on a week-long hunting trip. Hikari saw the Gengar creeping in the shadows and grabbed her mother's pearl comb. She invoked the Swanna Song in an attempt to save her and her children..."

He then sings as Hikari Gatrandis favel, secret, edena...
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

Applause goes up at the song's end "The comb glowed with holy magic, and the house transformed into a huge wooden lodge supported by eight mighty pillars." Brock continues as himself. "Needless to say, Hikari and the children wasted no time in getting up on the roof!"

Laughter goes up as Brock retrieves a grass blade from a pocket and begins shaping it into a grasswhistle. "Frustrated, the Gengar aimed Shadow Ball after Shadow Ball at one of the wooden pillars." Brock continues. "Next, Hikari picked a blade of grass, shaped it into a whistle, and played the following..."

Excited chatter goes up from the children in the audience as Brock plays Epona's Song on his own grasswhistle. "Epona heard the song from afar and knew the danger Hikari and her children were in. She went and asked the holy Delphox Kitsune for help. Kitsune rallied as many strong and powerful Pokemon she could find to help."

He sets the grasswhistle aside as he continues "By now, the Gengar had already destroyed one of the pillars, and a second one was about to fall. He was still firing Shadow Balls, but he was getting exhausted. When the Gengar finally had to rest, Raikou arrived, and healed all the damage the Gengar had done."

Laughter fills the room as the crowd imagines the Gengar's reaction. "The Gengar was beside himself with anger when he saw he had to start over." Brock grins. "But no matter how hard he tried, one of Kitsune's team would heal all the damage, and he would have to start again."

He retrieves a familiar bow as he continues "He was about to start over for a fifth time when Epona, carrying Takuya, arrived. Kitsune caught the Gengar off guard by firing a volley of Mystical Fire, creating five flaming targets on the Gengar's body."

"Wow"s and awed chatter fill the air as a wood Gengar with five glowing targets on it appears at stage left. "Shoot an arrow at each of the places Kitsune has marked with her holy fire. Make sure to aim the last one at its heart!" he calls as Epona."

As Brock prepares his first shot, he narrates as himself "So Takuya fired five arrows at each of the fiery targets..."

The crowd watches in awe as Brock proceeds to fire at each of the targets, each one hitting close to or on the bullseye.

When the last arrow hits its mark, the wooden Pokemon falls over, to cheers. "...and the last one hit where the Gengar's heart would be, if a Ghost Pokemon had a heart." Brock smiles as he gestures to the "dead" Gengar.

He puts away his gear as he concludes "Needless to say, Hikari, her family, and that realm were not bothered by monsters, ghosts, or evil spirits again!"

The crowd roars with applause as Brock takes a bow...
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@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 386: Buying Something

(real tale: Ow and Ouch)

"A young landowner in a place far from here once found a very special Fletchling in his garden." Brock begins as he arrives on the stage. "Every time the Fletchling sang, pieces of gold would rain down from the sky. When the man saw this, he caught it and put it into a special cage inside his house. He used the gold to buy more and more land and to hire servants to work for him."

He interjects "Now, it sometimes happens that some wealthy people learn to live well and use their money for good. But it also happens that wealth makes people greedy and makes them want more. This man was an example of the greedy type. The more he had, the more he wanted. He even looked for ways to cheat his servants out of their hard earned wages. When their wages were due he told them to go to the market and bring him back something, or else."

Nervous giggles go up as the audience wonders what "or else" is. "No one knew what 'something' was, so they brought back all kinds of things." Brock continues. "But no matter what they brought back, the rich man did not pay them. They grew poorer while he grew richer."

He smiles, and assures the angry audience "Finally a very clever boy came to work for the rich miser. When the wages were due the master told him to go to the market and buy something."

"If I bring you back something, will you pay me my wages and give me your magical Fletchling?" he asks in a mimic of Ash for the boy.

As himself, Brock continues "The rich man agreed to this. He knew the boy could not bring him back something, because he had never specified what 'something' was. When the boy returned, he would punish him and stop all his servants from ever asking for their wages!"

Angry whispers and giggles of anticipation fill the auditorium as the children in the audience speculate how the miser will receive justice. "The boy ran all the way to town." Brock continues, quieting the chatter. There he bought two gourds. He hollowed them both out and put a Combee into one and a Beedrill in the other. Then he hurried back to his master."

"Master, I have brought you something." he announces as the boy, offering a pantomime object to an imagined person.

He interjects as himself "The boy held out the two gourds. All the servants stood watching to see what would happen."

"All I see are two common garden gourds. Are you ready to receive your punishment for failing to give me what I asked you to bring me?" he asks in a mimic of James for the man.

"Put your finger inside and see if you still question what I brought you." he grins as the boy.

As himself, he continues "The rich man stuck a finger inside one of the gourds. He was about to scold the boy when something stung him hard!"

The audience roars with laughter as Brock feigns such an injury. "See? That gourd had something in it." he replies as Ash, to more laughter.

As himself, Brock continues "All the servants smiled. They knew the boy had given the master what he had asked for. The master gave the boy and all the servants their rightful wages. He also gave the boy the magical Fletchling. The rich man learned his lesson. He had enough money to live well for the rest of his life. He also learned to use his money to do good deeds."

Then something occurs to him. "What happened to the boy and the magic Fletchling, you ask? That is another story for another day!"

The audience laughs and applauds as Brock takes a bow...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 387: Haku, the Swanna Maiden

(real tale: The Swan Maiden)

"With it being the fifteenth season, I thought we would mix in some old favorite stories alongside the new ones." Brock explains as Misty, Ash, and Serena come out with him onstage. "So to start, this week our tale is about a brave Swanna-maiden, and how she helps her beloved escape a witch."

As Misty retreats to the backstage area to prepare to assist Ash, Brock begins his tale for the week. "Once there was a king who had a Aspear tree which bore exactly twenty four shining Aspear Berries--no more, no less. Every day he went into the garden and counted them to see that none of them were missing. But, one morning, he found that an Aspear Berry had been taken during the night, and he was troubled, for the Aspear tree was as dear to him as the Leppa Berry of his eye."

He explains "Now, the king had three sons, and so he called the eldest prince--whose name is not important--to him. He told him if he could watch the Aspear tree that night, and find the thief who stole the Aspear Berry, he would have half of his father's kingdom now, and the whole of it when he had joined Arceus in heaven."

Some of the children giggle as they picture the look on the eldest prince's face. "You can imagine how the eldest prince was ecstatic at this." Brock smiles. "He told his father he would watch the tree, and if the thief came, he would not get away so easily."

Once sure Serena is in position in the wings, Brock goes on "Well, that night he sat down beside the tree, with his bow across his knees, to watch for the thief. He waited for several hours with no thief to be had. But around midnight, there came the most beautiful song he had ever heard..."

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Serena sings from offstage, her voice echoing into the auditorium.
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

"...and before he knew what was going on, he was asleep." Brock continues when the song ends. "When he woke up the next morning, another Aspear Berry was gone, and he knew no more about it than his father."

Nervous giggles go up at this. "The next night the middle son--his name is not important either--set out to watch the Aspear tree." Brock continues. "But he fared no better than his big brother. The song came at midnight..."

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Serena sings again.
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

"...and before long, he too was snoring." Brock smiles. "When the morning came another Aspear Berry was gone, and he had no more to tell about it than his brother."

As Ash arrives onstage with a bow and some arrows, he continues "The third night it was the youngest son's--whose name was Kaitou--turn to keep watch. He was more clever than the others, for he had thought to make some homemade earplugs beforehand."

"Oh"s fill the air as Brock continues. "Around midnight, when the song came, he didn't hear a single note of it, and so stayed awake. After the last note had died, he took out his earplugs, so he could listen for the thief."

Some rattling backstage gets Ash's attention as Brock continues "Just then, there was a loud clapping and rattling, and a white Swanna flew overhead and landed in the Aspear tree above him. It began picking at one of the Aspear Berries, and Prince Kaitou raised his bow to shoot at it."

The audience collectively holds their breath as Ash aims a shot at Serena, never mind that the prop arrow will not hurt her at all. "But when he nocked an arrow, it was not a Swanna he saw up in the Aspear tree, but the prettiest girl that he had ever seen." Brock narrates.

"Don't shoot me, king's son! Don't shoot me!" Serena pleads in character.

"But Prince Kaitou had no thought of shooting her, for he had never seen such a beautiful maiden before." Brock narrates as Ash stands down.

"Very well, I will not shoot, but, if I spare your life, will you promise to be my sweetheart and marry me?" Ash asks as Prince Kaitou.

"That may be as may be." Serena smiles before revealing her character's name. "My name is Haku--I am a prisoner of an evil witch. She lives on the glass hill that lies beyond the seven mountains, the seven valleys, and the seven rivers; do you have the courage to go that far?"

"Oh, yes--I have the power, the wisdom, and the courage for all that and more." Ash smiles, to some applause.

"That is good." Serena replies.

"With that, she jumped down from the Aspear tree to the ground." Brock continues. "Then she became a Swanna again, and bade Prince Kaitou to climb on her back."

He waits as Ash and Serena hold hands. "When he had done as she had told him, she flew away, bearing him with her."

Ash and Serena charge onstage to mimic the flight. "What do you see, king's son?" Serena asks when they reach center stage.

"I see the sky above me and the earth below me, but nothing else." Ash replies.

They run around the stage again. "What do you see now, king's son?" Serena asks when they return to center stage.

"I see the sky above me and the earth below me, but nothing else." Ash replies a second time.

They run another lap before Serena asks again "What do you see now, king's son?"

Ash looks off into the distance, as if he sees something. "I see the sky above me and the earth below me, and over there is a glass hill, and on the hill is a house that shines like Ho'oh."

"That is where the witch lives." Serena explains. "Listen closely--when she asks you what it is that you came for, ask her to give you the one who draws the water and builds the fire. That one is me."

"When they had come to the top of the glass hill, Prince Kaitou stepped down to the ground, and the Swanna flew over the roof." Brock continues. "He knocked at the door..."

Ash knocks on the stage floor for effect, to some laughter. "...and the old witch herself came and opened it."

Misty steps in the scene at stage right as the witch. "What do you want here?" she asks in a slightly raspy version of herself--her favorite 'witch' voice.

"I want the one who draws the water and builds the fire." Ash replies as Prince Kaitou.

Misty winces in character at this. "Very well, you may have what you want if you can clean my stables tomorrow before sunset. If you fail in the undertaking, you will be torn to pieces."

The audience gasps at this, but Brock assures them "Prince Kaitou was not one to be scared away with threats. So the next morning the old witch came and took him to the stables. There stood more than a hundred head of Tauros, and the stable had not been cleaned for at least ten years."

"Ew"s fill the air as Ash pantomimes cleaning. "Prince Kaitou set to work as best as he could, but he might as well have tried to empty out the ocean with a bucket." Brock continues. "At noon Haku came to the stable."

"When one is tired, one should rest for a while." Serena suggests as she joins Ash in the scene.

"The prince was relieved at the chance for a break, and he fell fast asleep under a tree." Brock continues as Ash sprawls on the stage floor, "asleep".

He wakes up at the audience's giggles. "When he woke up, Haku was gone, the sun was setting, and the stable was as clean as a whistle." Brock goes on. "Suddenly, he heard the witch coming, so he began clearing away a straw here and a speck there, just as though he was just finishing the work."

Misty walks in on Ash doing this. "You had help, didn't you?" she demands as the witch.

"That may be, and that may not be, but you yourself did not help; so now may I have the one who builds the fire and draws the water?" Ash requests as Prince Kaitou.

"No--there is more to be done before you can have what you ask for." Misty replies as the witch. "If you can thatch the roof of the stable with feathers, no two feathers being the same color, and can do it in one day, then you will have your sweetheart and welcome. But if you fail, your bones will be ground as fine as malt in the mill."

Brock continues "So at dawn, he woke up and went into the fields with his bow; but if there were birds to be shot, it was very few of them that he saw; for at noon he had only shot two, and they were both the same color."

Serena arrives in the scene to see Ash studying two prop Taillow feathers. "One should not walk all day with no rest." she suggests.

"Prince Kaitou thought this a good idea, and fell asleep right there in the field." Brock narrates as Ash sprawls on the floor to sleep again.

He wakes up when the audience giggles again. "When he woke up, the sun was setting, and his work was done. He heard the witch coming, so he jumped to the roof of the stable and began laying a feather here and a feather there, looking for all the world as if he was just finishing his task." Brock continues.

"You had help, didn't you?" Misty demands as the witch as she walks in the scene, where Ash is doing what Brock described.

"That may be, and that may not be. All the same, it was none of your doing. So now may I have the one who draws the water and builds the fire?" Ash requests as Prince Kaitou.

"No--there is still another task to do before that." Misty replies as the witch. "Over there is a fir tree; on the tree is a Murkrow's nest, and in the nest are three eggs. If you can carry that nest here in one day, without breaking or leaving an egg behind, you will have what you ask for."

Brock continues "The next morning at dawn, he started off to find the fir tree."

He adds as an aside "You really couldn't miss it--it was more than a hundred feet high, and as smooth as glass from root to tip."

"Wow"s waft through the crowd at this. "As for climbing it, he might as well have tried to climb a moonbeam, for in spite of all his trying he did nothing but slip and slide." Brock continues. "Around noon, Haku arrived like always."

"Here, let me help you." Serena offers as she watches Ash attempt to climb a pantomime tree.

"She let down the braids of her deep brown hair, so that it hung down all around her and on the ground, and then she began singing to the wind." Brock narrates as Serena does this to a prop hair extension attached to her natural hair.

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Serena sings again.
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

As if in response to the song, the air conditioner kicks on, making excited whispers waft through the crowd. "When the last note died, the wind began to blow, caught Haku's hair, carried it to the top of the fir tree, and tied it to the branches." Brock narrates. "Then Prince Kaitou climbed the hair like a rope, easily reaching the nest. He gathered the eggs, and then he came back down. Then the wind came again and loosened Haku's from the branches, and she tied it back up as it was before."

Once Serena discretely removes the hair extension, she tells Ash "Listen closely--when the old witch asks you for the three Murkrow's eggs, tell her that they belong to the one who found them. She will not be able to take them from you, and they are worth something, trust me."

"At sunset the old witch came, and there sat Prince Kaitou at the foot of the fir tree." Brock continues.

"Have you gathered the Murkrow's eggs?" Misty asks as she enters the scene as the witch.

"Yes, here they are in my handkerchief." Ash proudly shows Misty a prop bundle. "Now may I have the one who draws the water and builds the fire?"

"Yes, you may have her; only give me my Murkrow's eggs." Misty replies.

"No. The Murkrow's eggs are none of yours, for they belong to the one who gathered them." Ash retorts.

"When the old witch found that she was not going to get her Murkrow's eggs that way, she tried sweet talking him, and convinced Prince Kaitou to stay for dinner." Brock intones. "So she brought Prince Kaitou into the house, and left him while she went to put the pot on the fire, and to sharpen the bread knife. While Prince Kaitou sat waiting for the witch, there came a knock at the door..."

Serena knocks on the stage floor for effect, startling Ash. "...and who should it be but Haku." Brock smiles as Serena enters to some applause.

"Come, and bring the three eggs with you, for the knife that the old witch is sharpening is for you, and so is the great pot on the fire, for she means to pick your bones in the morning." Serena warns Ash, motioning for him to follow her.

"She led Prince Kaitou down into the kitchen; there they made a figure out of honey and barley-meal, so that it was all soft and sticky; then Haku dressed the figure in her own clothes and set it in the chimney corner by the fire." Brock narrates as Ash and Serena pantomime doing this to a gelatin dummy. "After that was done, she became a Swanna again, and, taking Prince Kaitou on her back, she flew away, over hill and over dale."

As Ash and Serena hurry off, Brock continues "As for the old witch, she sat on the stone doorstep, sharpening her knife. After a while, she came in, and, look as she might, there was no prince to be had. When she stormed in the kitchen, There sat the woman of honey and barley-meal beside the fire, dressed in Haku's clothes, and the old woman thought that it was Haku."

"Where is your sweetheart?" Misty asks the gelatin dummy as the witch.

Awkward giggles go up when the dummy does not reply. "Fine, I will see whether or not I can make you talk."

Brock continues "She raised her hand and slapped the figure..."

Some in the audience jump as Brock bangs two wood slats together to mimic the slap. "...and the blow was so hard, her hand stuck to the honey and barley-meal." he continues as he sets the slats aside.

He adds as an aside "For all I know, she is stuck there to this day."

Relieved laughter goes up as Brock goes on "As for Haku and Prince Kaitou, they flew over the seven mountains, the seven valleys, and the seven rivers, until they came to Prince Kaitou's homeland again. Haku landed in a great wide field, and there she told Prince Kaitou to sing to one of the Murkrow eggs, which had transformed into jewels. The prince did as she bade him..."

Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... Ash fills in the spellsong, making his Mega Ring glow in response.

"...and what should he find but the most beautiful palace, made of pure gold and silver. It was so big, it covered as much ground as seven large barns." Brock explains. "Then Haku told him to sing to another egg, and he did as she said..."

Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo... Ash sings again, making Brock's Mega Ring glow in response.

"...and what should appear but such great herds of Miltanks and Mareep that they covered the meadow for miles." Brock continues. "Then Haku told him to sing to the third egg...

Karuto, iichiida shou... Ash sings again.

"...and there appeared in a flash of light scores and scores of servants all dressed in gold-and-silver livery." Brock narrates. "That morning, when the king looked out of his bedroom window, there stood the splendid castle of silver and gold. Then he called all of his people together, and they rode over to see what it meant. On the way they met such herds of Mareep and Miltanks that the king had never seen before; and when he came to the fine castle, there were two rows of servants dressed in clothes of silver and gold, ready to meet him. But when he came to the door of the castle, there stood Prince Kaitou himself."

Applause fills the air at this. "There was joy and rejoicing, I'll tell you that much!" Brock adds as an aside. "Only the two elder brothers looked down in the dumps, for since their little brother had found the thief who stole the shining Aspears, their father's kingdom was not for them. But Prince Kaitou soon set their minds at ease on the matter, for he had more than enough of his own."

He concludes "And so it was that Prince Kaitou and Haku were married. The wedding was a grand affair, with music of fiddles, drums, flutes, harps, and all kinds of other instruments, and plenty to eat and to drink. The festivities lasted for several months, and it is still fondly remembered in that land today."

The crowd roars as the group takes a bow...
@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 388: Fourth Time's the Charm

(real tale: Four Times the Charm)

"Oh"s fill the auditorium as Brock appears in a spotlight. "I have a small role to play in this old favorite, so I'll let Serena lead in narrate the story this time." he explains as he retreats offstage, allowing Serena to take his place in the spotlight.

Once sure Brock is safely backstage, Serena begins the story."Once upon a time, in a castle on the banks of a river, there lived a rich man. He was fabulously wealthy, but his heart was far from the beautiful fabric and rings he wore. He was an angry, spiteful man, who didn't even bother to lift a finger to help anyone in need."

"Sad to say, one day the man--who does not deserve to be named--fell in love with Annika, the daughter of a poor peasant, and he decided he would marry her." Misty continues. "Because he was so wealthy and powerful, he always found a way to get whatever he wanted--and woe betide anyone that said no to him!"

The children present swallow hard at this. "When he married Annika, he took her to live in his castle, and from that moment on, he was consumed with jealousy. To keep her to himself, he never let her see another soul." Brock intones. "He allowed no one to enter the castle, and he let his wife go out only when he was with her. The months passed, and Annika grew more and more unhappy with her plight. It seemed that nothing would save her."

After waiting for her friends to retrieve their instruments, Serena picks up the story. "One day, three minstrels--two boys and a girl--came to the castle. They had been all over the world, and had grown very close. Not even the end of the world could sour their cheerful natures."

"Hello, friend!" Ash smiles with a little bow, as if the rich man is there.

"We've come to play for you, but we would welcome some refreshment, please." Misty requests.

"Amazingly, the rich man let the minstrels into his home, for he did not worry that Annika would be attracted to any of the boys." Serena continues. "Still, when they had finished eating, he sent them away, without even giving them a chance to play a note. The three minstrels set off down the road. When they had left, the man went to town on business."

She smiles to assure the audience that all will be well. "Annika waited until her husband was out of sight, then she opened her window and called to the minstrels--who sat daydreaming upon the riverbank.

"Please come back," she calls as Annika. "I would love to hear some music today."

As herself, she continues "The minstrels, feeling sorry for the poor lady, returned to the castle. She offered them some fresh water, and they began to play and sing."

Ash, Misty, and Brock proceed to play a set for effect. "After playing several sets, they stopped to take a break, when suddenly, they all heard footsteps approaching the back door." Serena intones. "Annika led the three minstrels upstairs to a room where, luckily for her, had three closets inside. "After instructing the minstrels to hide, she went downstairs and greeted her husband."

"Have you come to spy on us?" she smiles cutely as Annika, to the audience's delight. "Well, as usual I'm alone."

She intones as herself "The man wasn't so sure, and began to search this way and that, but Annika steered him away from the room with the three closets. After he had searched for a while, he again set off for town."

She smiles. "Now, Annika was pretty strong for a lady, but she was still dismayed when she returned to the closets to find that the minstrels had fallen asleep -- so deep a sleep, in fact, that she couldn't wake them up. Now what would she do? She had to find some way to get rid of them before her husband returned."

The audience gasps, but Serena has other ideas. "After getting the minstrels' instruments outside, she looked out the window and saw a boy passing by, which gave her an idea. After instructing him to lead the minstrels to safety, she tied the bedsheets together, lifted them on her shoulders, and climbed down, where the boy would reunite the minstrel with their instruments, then lead them down the road to safety."

She continues "As the boy was walking back to the castle, he saw the man returning from his journey to town. He knew the man well, and all the bad things he did, so he led him into a deep forest instead of to the castle. The rich man was so lost in thought, he didn't realize he was being led right past his own castle."

Giggles fill the air as Serena continues "Annika knew her plan had worked, and she paid the boy handsomely. Then she locked the castle door behind her and returned to her father's home."

Then she remembers something. "Everyone always wondered what had become of the rich man, but as far as I know, no one has ever missed him!"

Laughter and applause fill the room as the group takes a bow...
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In celebration of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield being announced this week, here's another old favorite that features a sword.

@Chimchar98; @Tophat Dragoneye; @Soulmaster;

Week 389: The Hero's Sword

(real tale: The Good Sword)

"There was a man who had a son, who lived with him." Brock begins as he arrives onstage. "The man was a hunter, but as the years went by and he grew older, he got weaker and weaker, and eventually had to tell his son--we'll call him Greg--that soon he would no longer be able to hunt for him, and it would not be long before Arceus called him to the heavens. Greg tried to comfort him, and assured him he would recover; but his father said no, if his time to die was really close, he had nothing to leave him. What money they had would be just enough for his own funeral. Yet he had one thing of value to pass on to his son. It was only a sword, and badly rusty at that, but it would cut down any foe that dared harm its wielder."

"Aw"s go up as Brock continues. "Before long the father joined Arceus in the heavens, and Greg had to sell what he left in order to bury him. All that he kept of his inheritance was the rusty sword. Now he had to find work to do, and this was not easy, since he had never learned a trade, and at best could only herd Mareep. So he went to the village, and had to content himself with work as a shepherd. His master sent him out with the Mareep, and warned him to keep away from three particular meadows, which belonged to three mountain trolls. They lived on a hill known as "Troll's Mount," and if one of his Mareep were to wander to their meadow, the mountain troll would come, and not only carry off the Mareep, but their shepherd as well."

He adds as an aside "But Greg knew the master only said that to scare him."

Nervous giggles waft across the auditorium as Brock continues "The new shepherd promised to take good care of the Mareep, and so he did; for he never lost a single one, and his master was very pleased with him. The one day, he happened to think of his sword, and figured it might able to help him should he run into the mountain troll. So one day, he intentionally let the Mareep stray into one of the forbidden meadows, and the mountain troll, raging and roaring, rushed up to him, and asked who had allowed him to let his sheep graze in that meadow. Greg replied that he had allowed himself to do it, and when the mountain troll threatened to carry him off with his Mareep, he attacked him and slew him with his sword."

Some light applause goes up at this. "Now the first meadow was his; but not long after the Mareep felt like visiting the second meadow, and Greg let them go. The second mountain troll rushed up to him in a towering rage, and Greg slew him, too. The same thing happened with the third meadow too, and Greg came home with his Mareep, singing all the while." Brock continues.

With that, he makes a few laps around the stage, the audience clapping along as he sings "The Hearthome Pilgrim".

Once back in his usual place at center stage, Brock continues "Then he got the idea to see "Troll's Mount," and there he found three Ponytas, a normal one, one whose mane shone bright yellow, and a Shiny one, and the Legendary Beasts, Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, as well. Each Ponyta had a saddle, and a full suit of armor as well, and they, too, were red, blue and yellow. Besides, there was food for the Ponytas, and food for the Beasts, and gold and silver out the wazoo. Greg was understandably ecstatic with all the splendor that he had discovered, and went home singing."

With that, he makes a few more laps around the stage, this time singing the jig "Ash's Welcome to Pewter".

When the song ends and Brock is back in his place, he intones "Then his master had one of the hands tell Greg that although he was very happy with him, he wished he would stop singing. Greg was puzzled--what was wrong with singing? At first, the farmhand did not want to tell him the true reason, and said that he should stop because his master said so. But Greg kept bugging the farmhand to tell him why he was not supposed to sing, and the farmhand relented, after having Greg swear to Arceus he would not tell anyone else."

Piqued murmurs fill the air. "The farmhand told Greg that great sorrow reigned throughout the land, because the king had been forced to give each his three daughters to three trolls. The trolls would be arriving to take them very soon, and the king had promised a third of the kingdom to anyone who could save one of them, and if the hero were male, the hand of the princess he saved as well." Brock explains, quieting the chatter. "It was for that reason Greg was not to sing in town, although out in the fields it was okay."

He pauses for a beat, then continues "Greg could not stop thinking about the story of the poor princesses, and it occurred to him that perhaps he might be able to save them. He could leave his Mareeps behind with a clear conscience, since now he had nothing to fear from the mountain trolls, and the next day, he went to town to find out what was being said about the calamity that was due. He learned on which day the oldest princess--we'll call her Robin--would be led out to the troll while he was out. When he got home, he put on his red armor, mounted the normal Ponyta, and with Entei at his side, rode out to the place where the troll was to receive Princess Robin. She arrived in a coach, and the coachman scrambled up a tree for fear of the troll. At the exact second the red knight came riding up, a three-headed troll rose out of the sea. The knight rode up to him, easily cut off all three of his heads with his rusty sword, took the ruby it dropped as it died, and rode off again."

Some in the audience start to applaud, but Brock interjects "Now, the coachman was feeling greedy, so after he climbed down from his tree, he threatened to kill Princess Robin unless she promised to say that he was the one that saved her. She readily complied, he gathered up the heads, and they returned home. Eight days later, the middle princess--we'll call her Livia--was driven out, and the same thing happened. The coachman sought safety in a tree, and a blue knight came riding up on a Shiny Ponyta with Suicune at his side. Then out of the sea rose a monster with six heads. The knight cut off the heads, took the sapphire it dropped when it died, and rode off again. This coachman also threatened Princess Livia, and demanded she say he was the one that saved her."

Angry murmurs waft through the crowd as Brock continues "Eight days later, the youngest princess--we'll call her Alyssa--was driven out to be handed over to her troll, and again the same thing happened. The coachman climbed a tree, and a yellow knight appeared on a Ponyta with a yellow mane, with Raikou at his side. The troll rose out of the sea and he had nine heads: but the knight cut them all off, and took the topaz it dropped when it died. When Princess Alyssa saw that he had saved her, she took off her topaz pendant and tried to throw it around his neck; but it fell on his head. He just gathered it up and wound it in his hair, then put his helmet over it so that no one could see it. Then he rode away. This coachman acted just as the others had. and compelled Princess Alyssa to say that he had saved her."

The beach is quiet as the audience contemplates how the greedy coachmen will get their just deserts. "You can imagine that there was much rejoicing in the castle, and all three princesses were to be married on the same day." Brock finally breaks the uneasy silence a few moments later. "By now, Greg had had his fill of Mareep herding, and told his master goodbye, who did not like to let him go, since he did so well. But there was nothing he could do; his shepherd wanted to go, and so they said their goodbyes and off he went. He traveled to another town, and took a room in the inn for the night, where he heard rumors about the splendor with which the coming triple wedding was to be celebrated. The barkeep mentioned how pleasant it would be to have a chance to taste a bit of the fine bread that was baked in the castle."

Excited whispers waft down the rows. "Greg wasted no time, and sent Entei to get some bread. Entei ran to the castle and scratched at one door after another. The people opened their doors for him, and in this way he reached the room where the bread lay. He grabbed a loaf of bread, and the king said that they were to let him keep it--there was no sense in refusing a Legendary--so he came safely home with it. Then the barkeep talked about how pleasant it would be to sample the freshly roasted meat that came from the royal kitchens. Greg sent his Suicune to get some meat, and Suicune ran to the castle, sniffed about for the kitchen, grabbed an entire roast and ran off with it, and the king gave the order to let him go--the Legendary Pokemon must not be refused what they wanted."

Murmurs of agreement waft through the auditorium. "When the barkeep saw the roast, he wanted to have wine as well, and Greg sent Raikou to get some." Brock explains. "Raikou actually found the wine cellar, took a bottle of the best wine, and ran into the room where all the princesses and their husbands-to-be were seated. When Princess Alyssa saw Raikou, she clapped her hands, and said that his master had saved her. Her betrothed grew angry, and said that up until now, she had always said that he had saved her, and what did she mean by saying what she did? But she insisted that the Raikou's master had saved her. So the king sent out men to follow Raikou, in order to discover his master and bring him to the castle. Raikou ran as fast as he could, so that the men could barely keep up. Yet they reached the tavern, puffing and groaning, and told Greg that he was to come to the castle. When he got there he asked whether the Beasts had done something in the castle that called for punishment, He himself wondered what in the heck he had done."

Fearful murmurs go up at this, but Brock assures the crowd "The king said nothing, but motioned for Greg to come into the great hall. Greg excused himself, and said that he was not used to meeting royalty. But he could not help himself, for the king insisted that he enter. So he went into the great hall, and no sooner had Princess Alyssa seen him did she say that he was the one that saved her. When her betrothed grew angry, and the others would not believe it, she asked him if he had her topaz pendant. So he drew it from his hair, and all saw that it was the princess's own. But her betrothed spoke of the nine heads which he had. At this, Greg produced the topaz the nine headed troll had dropped and all recognized that he had saved the three princesses."

He concludes "The three deceivers were put to death right then, and the true hero received Princess Alyssa's hand and the third part of the kingdom, and the rest of the kingdom when he succeeded to the throne. He had a long and prosperous reign, and went on many more adventures with the Beasts--but that is another story for another day!"

Cheers and applause fill the air as Brock takes a bow...
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