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EVERYONE: Pokemon: Diamonds of the Colorful Skies

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(rated E10+ for fantasy violence and frightening images)

Prologue: The Rainbow Caravan Sets Out


It is a story long told in Cielore...long ago, Cielore was oppressed by an evil wizard, who had a dragon familiar to hold the people under his iron fist. Heartbroken by the misery and despair she saw across the land, the Diamond Princess Diancie searched across the land for a hero that could defeat the wizard and his dragon, and lead the land into a new age of peace and plenty. She found the hero in a small village, and granted him a magical sword that would protect him from the wizard's evil magic. After a very long journey, he confronted the wizard and his dragon not far from the royal capital of Illumis, and defeated both wizard and dragon with his magical blade, and Diancie's sacred diamonds, which he had gathered on his journey.

Many years have passed since then, and Cielore is in a new age of peace. While the tale of the hero, the wizard, and the dragon is now just a bedtime story, or a minstrel's tale, there is one reminder of the hero's journey that we undertake today--the Gathering of the Diamonds. Once a year, many different caravans follow the hero's long journey, stopping to gather diamonds where they can--either hard won from ruins, or as thanks for a deed of valor. While many set out to gather the sacred diamonds that appear in the land each year, only a rare few make it all the way to Illumis. Those that do make it there are welcomed as heroes, and receive medallions of valor from Her Majesty Queen Diantha.

No one knows for sure how millions of colorful diamonds suddenly appear in the land each year in the spring, but it is agreed that when they do appear, it is time for the caravans to embark on the Gathering of Diamonds. Many see it as a coming of age journey, so every person in the land is encouraged to make the journey at least once in their lives.

It is not just those of us that live in Cielore that make the journey--many come from far and wide to learn about the Gathering of the Diamonds, see all that our home has to offer, and follow the hero's route in their own way--either through a caravan of their own, riding with a caravan, a single Ponyta or Rapidash, or on foot.

This year marks my turn to follow the hero's long road to Illumis in a caravan--but I get to do this alongside some of my best friends.

What follows is our journey along the hero's road for ourselves. Little did we know, we would encounter and defeat an evil wizard of our own along the way, and arrive in Illumis as heroes...


The people of Cielore knew very well when spring was in the air--thousands upon millions of colorful diamonds suddenly appeared all across the land, and just as many caravans from all over the world came to seek them. It wasn't just the native Cielorians that searched for the diamonds--Wakunese refugees that now considered Cielore their adopted home, and travelers from Sabia, Galaria, and elsewhere all came to experience the grand diamond hunt for themselves, in remembrance of a great hero.

Among the many caravans setting out for the long annual journey to seek diamonds and reach the royal capital of Illumis was a blonde haired girl in an elegant red plaid runeblade's costume. "Here you are, Serena..." a blond haired man in majestic robes smiled as he led Serena, Ash, Misty, and Brock outside, where a majestic wagon with a team of six Ponytas waited outside. "When I informed Her Majesty that you came of age this year, she asked me to give you this as a gift for your first Gathering of the Diamonds."

"It's beautiful!" Serena smiled before hugging her father. "Thank you...I hope to make it to Illumis, and thank Her Majesty personally."

"You're in good hands with Ash, Misty, and Brock at your side." Serena's mother agreed as she watched Ash arrive with his supplies to begin packing the wagon for the long journey ahead.

[Your sword, milady.] Serena's Braixen smiled as she offered her master an elegant sheath with gold decorations, with a well loved and well cared for rapier inside.

"You may want to take your signaling horn--just in case--and your mandolin for the road." Serena's mother suggested as Misty and Brock arrived with their supplies.

Serena accepted her rapier from the smiling fox Pokemon, set it by her left leg, then hurried back inside the house. "Be right back!" she assured Ash, who was bringing out his own one handed sword, a flute case, and some bedrolls and blankets. He smiled as a familiar yellow mouse Pokemon with a thunderbolt shaped tail peeked from a pocket of his regal red costume, then continued loading supplies for the long journey ahead.

"So, who's going to drive the caravan?" Misty asked, brushing a wisp of orange hair from her face as a breeze ruffled her blue traveler's garb.

"I'll drive, and you guys can walk with the wagon." Serena replied as she arrived with a few instrument cases to put in the wagon. "Brock can lead the way, as he is a master archer, and knows the land well."

"I would be honored to serve as your scout." Brock smiled as he deposited some of his own supplies in the wagon, then retrieved a familiar and well loved bow with leaf designs and emerald inlaywork. "It would be wise to put the signaling horn somewhere where you can find it if you spot my preferred warning shot--a Flare Arrow." he suggested as he slung the quiver filled with matching green fletched arrows on his back, just as another gust of wind lightly ruffled his own green traveler's garb.

"Good idea..." Serena agreed before climbing up inside the wagon and arranging some of the items inside to allow passengers to be comfortable. After putting her mandolin and her friends' instruments inside a nest made of spare blankets, she next nudged the case with the signaling horn near the driver's seat, in case she spotted a warning shot.

Once happy with how the food, supplies, and belongings were laid out in the wagon, she noticed a large bag in the pile of Misty's belongings. "What's this for?"

"Collecting soap to trade." Misty explained. "In a lot of inns, it is tradition you will leave a bar of soap behind to replace what you used up during your stay. In some places, soap can be traded for food and supplies, or given as a gift to thank someone."

"Yes--always stop and get some soap in every spa town and soap making town you pass through." Serena's father agreed. "Soap is always a good idea to send home, too."

"Point noted." Serena smiled as she and her Braixen Krystal climbed in the driver's seat. "Well, we're off!"

"Be safe, Serena..." Serena's mother hugged her as best she could from the ground.

"Yes--Arceus' protection be with you all." Serena's father smiled.

Serena smiled back at her beaming family. "Well, we're off! I'll try to send letters as often as I can."

With that, she flicked the reins, spurring the Ponytas to elegantly trot towards the road leading out of town...
 
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Episode 1: The Tower of the Hundred Pools


For a while, the caravan's journey was uneventful--the group was awake by seven each morning, and on the road by eight. They would take a break at noon to stop for lunch and allow the Ponytas to rest, then be on the road again about an hour later. They would then travel until sunset, then camp for the night. Serena's Braixen Krystal would stand guard over the camp at night, allowing Serena and the others to sleep.

But Brock was the happiest to see a town coming into view as they emerged from a tree-lined road. "We're coming up on the town of Centbassin--so named for its famous hundred pools, and Galifeu Tower. Sometimes, Lord Bourcier will have a diamond waiting for seekers at the top of Galifeu Tower, but most times, it's just the first welcome point of civilization on the journey after being on the road for a few days,"

"Don't worry--if there is a diamond here, it is not in the waters of any of the pools." Serena assured Ash and Misty. "Dad says that they stopped doing that a long time ago, after many seekers drowned trying to reach diamonds."

"Good--we're not even prepared to go swimming, anyway." Misty was just as relieved as the caravan made its way into the town.

The lord of the town, an auburn haired young man, smiled as the wagon approached the town's entrance. "Good day, seekers--there are no diamonds in the pools for you to find this year, but you are welcome to rest, and see what our town has to offer."

"Merci, milord." Serena replied as she guided the Ponytas towards a building decorated with flowers and ivy, its moon and stars sign signaling it was the inn.

"I am so glad to get off my feet for a bit!" Misty smiled as the inn's stablemaster and some of his apprentices came to tend to the Ponytas.

"First rule of the journey--always tip the stablemaster and any apprentices." Ash began as he gave the stablemaster a small bag of coins. "This is to thank them for caring for the Ponytas, and potentially cover expenses for more serious medical issues."

"Arceus willing we won't have to worry about that." Serena mused as she led the way inside the inn.

"Good day, seekers--it's ten gold pieces per night if you wish to stay." the innkeeper smiled. "Take a moment to look around, and see the hundred pools and the tower while you're here."

"I think we will, good lady..." Serena replied as she set down forty gold pieces as payment for herself and her companions...

---------

Later that evening, the group gathered in the common room to relax and have dinner. "What did Lord Bourcier mean when he said 'there are no diamonds in the pools for you to find this year'?" Misty wondered as she settled in at the table with Serena and the boys.

"Then if there is a diamond here--or multiple diamonds--they are probably in Galifeu Tower." Brock replied as he looked out at the tower dominating the town's skyline, with a tiny gold Combusken statue on its highest spire. "I talked to some other caravanners where you guys were out refreshing our supplies, and they were more than happy to tell me about Galifeu Tower."

He paused to get a sip of his sparkling Oran spritz, then went on "The tower may have look tall from here, but in actuality, there are only 10 floors. This means that at any one time, there are ten diamonds to claim. Right now, only three of the ten diamonds for this year have been claimed--and caravanners can choose which floor to challenge."

"I hope that whichever of the remaining floors we challenge, we don't end up with a puzzle so hard that we end up leaving diamondless..." Ash mused.

Serena felt a warm glow coming from her bag, and quickly dug out her Traveler's Scroll. "My beloved, well done on reaching your first destination." she read the magically forming words on the scroll. "While Galifeu Tower's puzzles can be challenging, they are not impossible--Lord Bourcier wants seekers to find the diamonds. The tower caretakers change the puzzles every year, so working with other caravanners will only get you so far."

Inspired, she asked the scroll "Have you met the caretakers of the tower? Have they ever told you what some of the puzzles are?"

After a few tense moments, her father's reply started to form. "They have revealed to me one of this year's puzzles--the one on the fourth floor, which has not yet been claimed."

"Really? What is the puzzle?" Ash asked, excited over a good brainteaser.

"When you enter the fourth floor, the floor's main room doesn't look any different from any of the other rooms in the tower." Serena read her father's reply from the scroll. "The only clue that something is amiss can be seen in a large mirror in the room. On one of the tables in the mirror's reflection is a flute on top of some sheet music, but in the actual room, the sheet music is present on the table, but no flute! Your challenge, then, is to have the real room match the mirror's reflection. Succeed, and a diamond is yours. Alas, I cannot tell you exactly where in the room the flute is hidden, as that would ruin the challenge of the puzzle. I will be able to offer you hints once you have arrived in the tower, and you four have begun your challenge."

"An interesting challenge!" Brock smiled, intrigued by Lucien's message. "Your father is a wise man, Serena. I trust he will be there to guide us through the scroll every step of the way."

Serena nodded. "He has been all across this land many a time, so I'm sure he has seen every challenge a seekers' caravan faces along the way to the capital."

After leaving the dishes and empty glasses for the cook staff to collect, she retrieved her beloved mandolin. "For tonight, though, let's celebrate our first stop on our long journey with some music!"

"Yeah!" Ash agreed as he retrieved a well loved silver flute.

Before long, the ensemble of a flute, a fiddle, a lute, and mandolin playing the tune "The Goblin Reel" with a Wakunese flavor rang over the city streets and into the starry sky...
 
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Episode 2: Finding the Hidden Music


The next morning, Ash, Misty, and Brock arrived at Galifeu Tower to claim one of the diamonds from one of its rooms. "When you enter the fourth floor, the floor's main room doesn't look any different from any of the other rooms in the tower." Serena read her father's reply describing the fourth floor's puzzle from the scroll, which was still present from the night before. "The only clue that something is amiss can be seen in a large mirror in the room. On one of the tables in the mirror's reflection is a flute on top of some sheet music, but in the actual room, the sheet music is present on the table, but no flute! Your challenge, then, is to have the real room match the mirror's reflection. Succeed, and a diamond is yours."

"Wonder why that one message from last night still remains on the scroll, even though all the other messages from your dad faded away." Ash wondered as Serena carefully put the scroll away.

"Maybe Dad wanted us to remember his advice should we choose to challenge the fourth floor of he tower." Serena replied. Luckily, they were the next ones to go inside the tower.

"Has the diamond on the fourth floor been claimed yet?" Misty asked one of the tower guards as the approached.

"Not yet--it's still ripe for the taking." the guard replied. "Is that the floor you want to challenge?"

Misty nodded yes. "All right--go on inside, and good luck!" the guard smiled before signalling to his fellow guards to open the tower gate...

---------

Once inside the tower's fourth floor, Serena found the room just as her father said--mirror, missing flute, and all. "Pere, we're here." she discretely whispered to the Traveler's Scroll.

"Are you sure asking for your dad's help is a good idea?" Brock wasn't so sure. 'The caretakers of the tower might find that cheating..."

He balked when he saw a reply addressed to him forming on the scroll. "At ease, noble Takeshi. Seekers are allowed to ask for hints in puzzle rooms like this as often as they like without penalty, short of actually revealing the answer."

"Well that's one way we know it's Lucien talking to us through the scroll." Misty smiled. "Only Lucien, Grace, Serena, and a few other trusted people know our true Wakunese names."

Ash nodded in agreement. "While it's unlikely that Nobunaga would have spies on foreign shores, not all look favorably on our being here. That was one reason why we took Europan names."

He turned business like again. "But let us focus on the task at hand...having the real room match the mirror's reflection."

Now where would I put an instrument if I was not playing it? Serena thought as she dug through the room and its many items.

"Krystal, can you try and sense the missing flute?" she asked.

[Sure!] Krystal yipped in reply, then focused her power.

A warm glow got Serena's attention as Krystal used her psychic power to scan the room. "Good idea enlisting Krystal's help." Lucien's words assured Serena. "I will tell you that the missing flute has not left this room, or the tower. It is somewhere in the room, but not somewhere easily seen."

Brock, meanwhile, threw open a cabinet that was usually used for storing instruments. Let's see here...the silver concert flute played in Europa and its territories is typically stored in a long and skinny case. But I don't see any case like this in here.

[You're close...the flute case is in this room somewhere!] Krystal reported, confirming Lucien's message. [Look for a long and skinny case!]

Misty, meanwhile, was carefully taking out instrument cases from another cabinet until she spotted a long and skinny case in a corner. "Everyone! I found it!"

[Let's see what happens when we put it on top of the sheet music.] Krystal smiled as Serena hurried to accept the flute case from Misty.

No sooner had Serena set the flute case on the table and opened it to reveal the pieces of the instrument inside, the mirror swung open like a door. Inside this new room was the reward--a glittering white diamond. "Congratulations, all!" came Lucien's next message. "Every diamond you find on your journey has a name. This one is named Brilliant White."

"Well done, everyone..." Serena smiled as she took the diamond. "We're done here."

She contemplated getting back on the road as the group made their way back down to the tower's foyer. They could also stay in the area for another night, then leave town in the morning. The only way to know for sure was to ask her companions.

"Do you guys want to continue on? Or should we rest tonight, and be on our way in the morning?" she asked.

Brock noticed the sun setting as the group emerged from the tower. "That puzzle took longer than I thought to solve..."

"Let's return to the inn for tonight." Misty agreed.

"Yeah...the inn is not far from the tower." Ash agreed. "I'm aware that that some caravans travel through the night, but that has the risk of bandits, monsters, and rogue Pokemon."

"All right...we'll continue on in the morning." Serena smiled before leading the way back to the inn, and their waiting wagon...
 
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(the real tale)

Episode 3: The Red and the Gold Lotuses


Some days later, the caravan arrived in another town. "Well! I see Sir Lucien's daughter has finally embarked on the Gathering for herself." the local lord smiled as he met the group and the caravan. "Welcome to Deuxfleurs--named for the two sacred lotus flowers your father planted here."

"Pere has told me the story many times..." Serena smiled.

"But here is something I have pondered for a while..." the lord went on. "We all know that the golden lotus is you, Lady Serena...but some years later, Sir Lucien planted the red lotus. So who could the red lotus represent?"

Serena smiled as Ash stepped forward and knelt before the black haired lord in respect. "This is Ash, Lord Gaudin--one of my dearest friends, and who represents the red lotus. Pere and Mere welcomed him, Misty, and Brock with open arms after they fled their native land of Waku."

"A pleasure to meet you, milord..." Ash replied. "Lucien planted the red lotus to join the gold lotus here in hopes our bond would last a lifetime, and beyond."

"I see...their sacred light, and your sacred bond, has protected our town for ten years now..." Lord Gaudin smiled. "If you would like to see them, the Wakunese garden where the pond is is nearby the town square, near the inn and the marketplace."

He glanced at Misty and Brock. "All of Cielore awaits the day when Waku is liberated, and all can visit again."

"We hope we can return as well, milord." Misty replied. "But for now, we hope to see all our adopted home has to offer."

Once the caravan had been waved through, even Brock couldn't help but smile. "It's beautiful that your dad honored the bond you and Ash share..."

"Lord Gaudin is one of Dad's closest friends." Serena explained. "They've known each other since they were young."

"They may have to rename this place Quatrefleurs if we make it to Illumis." Misty smiled as the caravan arrived at the inn. "That is, if your dad knows how to procure blue and green lotuses."

"They are somewhat rare in nature, but he could conjure some if he wanted." Serena explained. "I may send him a letter asking him to do that if we make it to Illumis, and the royal palace."

"Well, for now, I'd like to rest a bit, then go see the two lotuses." Brock smiled as the group went inside the inn...

---------

Later that evening, the group arrived in the Wakunese garden. While the street lights by the paths gave the garden a burst of color in the night, none of the group was prepared for the sparkling waters of the lotus pond. Among the many lotus flowers floating in the pond were two glowing lotuses in the center--one red, and one gold. Both flowers gave off a comforting glow in the moonlight, lending the garden and the town a sense of peace, strength, and hope.

After a few tense moments, Brock noted "It is said that the lotus symbolizes purity, strength, resilience, and new life. When Lucien planted these two flowers, I'm sure he hoped that your bond with Ash would weather any challenge that came your way--just as the lotus blooms from the depths of the earth to find the sun."

"I wonder what tales the Wakunese tell about the lotus flower..." Serena mused as she watched the red lotus and the gold lotus float along the pond's gentle waves.

Brock thought for a moment, then started the first lotus themed tale that came to mind. "Long ago in Waku, a poor old blind man had just one blessing, and this was his daughter--we will call her Hikari, which means 'light'. She was gentle and generous, a treasure who brightened her father's dark life."

He motioned for Ash, Misty, and Serena to gather around him in a meadow near the pond. Once he saw that everyone was comfortable, Brock continued his story. "One day, the man was wandering in the woods on a familiar path when he lost his footing, and fell into a water hole."

"Oh no!" Serena gasped. "Was he able to get out?"

"Well, he struggled to climb out, but he could not, and certain he would drown, he gave way to despair." Brock replied. Suddenly a voice said to him..."

In a gentle deep voice he intoned "If you will promise to give 300 bushels of rice to the temple as an offering to Lord Arceus, you will be rewarded with your life, and the gift of sight."

As himself, he explained "The man had long dreamed of seeing Hikari's face, and he wished to see the mountains, streams and forests all across Waku. So he quickly said, 'I promise,' and a moment later he felt strong arms pulling him from the water. He was certain it was Arceus who had saved him. He blinked, awaiting the return of his sight, but this did not happen. Then he realized with terror what he had done. He could never afford to buy even one barrel of rice. He had offered a vow he could never keep, and he deserved whatever punishment came his way, or so he thought."

"So what did he do?" Ash wondered as he invited his faithful Pikachu to listen to the unfolding performance.

"He stumbled his way home and wept as he told Hikari of his terrible mistake." Brock replied.

"Don't worry, father, I will get you the rice for your offering." Misty jumped in the role of Hikari.

"The next morning, before her father woke up, Hikari hurried to the market and approached the wealthiest merchant she could find." Brock narrated.

"I am here to offer myself to the Dragon King Seiryu," Misty explains as Hikari, "and in return you must give 300 bushels of rice to the temple in my father's name."

"The merchant was beyond overjoyed at this." Brock explained. "For many years the Great Blue Dragon of the East, Seiryu, had demanded the merchants give him a wife, but the merchants refused to sacrifice their daughters. And so Seiryu, in his fury, sent storms that churned up the sea and sank the merchants' ships. The merchants had offered a reward to anyone willing to sacrifice a daughter to Seiryu. And here stood just the girl -- only a poor girl, but beautiful, all the same.

Ash noticed Serena's blank look at Brock's description of Seiryu and the merchants' plight. "I'll tell you more about the Four Guardian Gods, and how they are portrayed in Wakunese lore, later."

"The merchant happily accepted Hikari's offer, and after his men had carried her to sea, the merchant sent rice to the temple." Brock went on. "It was only then the man learned of his daughter's fate, and still his sight did not return. Now, with nothing to offer him joy, he sank into deep and boundless despair."

"The poor man..." Serena couldn't help wiping away a tear of sympathy for the blind man in Brock's tale.

"Meanwhile, as Hikari sank deeper and deeper below the surface of the sea, she expected to drown." Brock went on. "But to her amazement, she realized she could breathe, and before long she saw the fabulous underwater palace of Seiryu, and met both Seiryu's daughter Toyotama, and Seiryu himself.

"I'll also explain who Toyotama is..." Ash assured Serena.

"Like all who saw Hikari, Seiryu was instantly enchanted, and as time passed, he became a kind and loving husband." Brock went on. "But Hikari often dreamed of her father, and whenever she thought of his heartbreak, she wept and gazed up toward the surface of the deep, deep sea."

He assured Serena "Now, Seiryu loved Hikari very much, and her unhappiness made his noble dragon heart break too."

"My beloved," he began in a gentle deep voice for Seiryu. "I must set you free to return to the land so that you can once more see your father. But no one will ever believe that you are still alive, and so I will disguise you."

As himself, Brock continued "With that he whispered some magical words, and turned her into a beautiful golden lotus flower that drifted away from the palace. That day a fisherman came upon a magnificent flower floating upon the sea, and he decided such a treasure must be given to the Emperor."

"The Emperor is what the Wakunese call their king." Ash explained. "The female counterpart is the Empress." Serena nodded to show she understood.

"The Emperor loved the beautiful gold flower." Brock went on. "He carried it to the pond near his room, and there he often sat for hours, simply gazing with wonder at it."

"And then?" Serena wondered, curious to know if Hikari would see her father again.

"One night the Emperor could not sleep, so he went for a walk in the imperial gardens." Brock went on. "As he approached the pond he saw a lovely girl standing near the water. When the Emperor asked the girl who she was, Hikari revealed herself, and told the Emperor her story. The Emperor realized that he loved not only the beauty of the flower, but the deeper beauty of this young woman."

"Aw..." Serena smiled.

"The Emperor confessed his love to Hikari, and Hikari responded in kind." Brock smiled. "But she did have one request for the wedding--she wanted every person who was blind in Waku present.

He went on "The day of the imperial wedding came, and Hikari waited breathlessly as each person arrived. Each time she saw a man who was blind, her heart fluttered. But each time she was disappointed."

A smile formed on Serena's face as Brock went on "Just as Hikari was about to give up hope, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned, and there stood her father, dressed in rags, more sorrowful than any man she had ever seen. As soon as she recognized him, she threw herself in his arms. At that moment, the man's eyes were opened. For the first time ever, he saw his beloved daughter's face, and his joy knew no bounds.

He concluded "The next day, several of the merchants' ships returned to port, and all the sailors remarked on the gentle waves of the eastern sea--for Seiryu had sent his own blessings on the new Empress.

"Aw..." Serena smiled as the others applauded. "That was a sweet tale..."

She looked back at the gold lotus floating in the pond. Pere wanted me to be kind, brave, and faithful, like Hikari was, and so he planted this golden lotus as an embodiment of his wish...Pere, no matter where our road on the Gathering takes us, I will carry the strength and the resolve of the lotus with me!
 
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Episode 4: The White Hill and the Brave Lady


"We've got a little ways to go before we reach Eaubondance..." Brock mused as the caravan made its way up a tree lined hill a few days later.

He noticed Misty's dreamy eyed look. "I know, you're excited about starting the world's biggest soap haul in a spa town, but we have a few more days before we get there. So can you keep your excitement in check for a little bit longer?"

"I'll do my best..." Misty replied. "I mainly want to see the wide array of soap on offer across all the land's spa towns and soap-making towns. That, and present a few of the best bars--what we don't use up or trade ourselves--to Her Majesty as a gift."

"Soap is always an acceptable gift anywhere in the land." Ash assured Misty. "Especially when this land is famed for it!"

"Moving on..." Brock mused as the group and their wagon emerged from the forest to a scenic overlook, allowing travelers a majestic view of the flower filled valley, and the white peaks of the mountains far off in the distance. "This is Whiteview Hill...so named because one can see Mt. Frostview from the hill."

"Which one's Mt. Frostview?" Ash wondered.

"Mt. Frostview is that one right..." Serena pointed out a mountain that rose higher than the others. "...there."

Ash nodded as he looked out on the beautiful mountains and valleys. "If I had an inkling of artistic ability, I'd be painting this view!"

"Then we'd be here all day, unless you painted very fast." Misty sighed, secretly thanking Arceus that all Ash knew how to draw was stick figures.

"Let's move on for now..." Brock suggested. "Otherwise, we may not find a safe place to camp by sunset."

"Yeah...and we have a while before we reach another town." Serena agreed as she flicked the reins, spurring the group's Ponytas to continue down the large hill...

---------

The sun was beginning to set when Misty noticed a path leading to a large cave. "Is that what I think it is?"

Ash also recognized the cave. "That's Lady's Cave, all right! Although...I wonder who the lady was that the cave was named for?"

"If you believe the local legends in this area, the cave was named for Rebecca Barrande, better known as La Goupeline." Brock explained. "It is said that she hid here while escaping the Galarians during a war long ago. She also used the cave as a hideout during her exploits bringing corrupt lords to justice."

"Remind me what La Goupeline means, again?" Ash asked as Serena guided the caravan down inside the large cave.

"Silly! La Goupeline simply means 'the lady Delphox'." Serena giggled as Misty and Brock worked to set up a campsite. "Which makes sense, as Rebecca was a very clever and strong lady!"

"You really should work on practicing your Cielorian more often..." Misty reminded Ash as she brought over the group's bedrolls and Brock's camp kit...

---------

"Okay...Combusken is roasting, so while we wait for dinner to be ready, I suppose I can tell you all a tale or two of La Goupeline's exploits..." Brock explained as he tended the group's campfire, which gave the cave a welcoming orange-gold glow. "In order to understand this tale, you have to remember that Cielore wasn't ruled by a kind ruler like Queen Diantha at the time La Goupeline lived...the whole reason that the First Galarian War started in the first place was because of the king's cruelty. But La Goupeline's adventures mainly took place some years before the First Galarian War. You can argue that the war was Galaria's way of saying 'enough is enough', because the king at the time not only mistreated the Cielorian people, but foreigners too..."

---------

In a Cielore of the past, a brown haired lord watches as an innocent family is led away by royal soldiers. "Whatever the king wanted, the king got--and he had many lords willing to carry out his orders." Brock narrates via voiceover. "These lords were also given free reign to follow their own ambitions, so many in Europa wondered who was really in charge of Cielore--the king, or the lords?" He lets that hang as the family is thrown in the castle dungeon, followed by the brown haired lord overseeing the construction of yet another grand manor where there once was a humble farmhouse.

"So where does La Goupeline factor into this?" Ash interrupts via voiceover, pausing the tragic scene for a moment.

"I'm getting to that." Brock assures Ash as a sword triumphantly cuts the scene of the lord taking over the commoner's land in half, revealing a girl with wavy brown hair in a jade green and gold outfit. "Rebecca, meanwhile, was angered that the lords were taking people's property for themselves, ad mistreating those that tried to object to the king's harsh laws and high taxes." Brock continues as the brown haired girl rescues another family from their burning house, much to the shock of another lord. "Because she was very cunning and clever, the people nicknamed her La Goupeline--the lady Delphox." The family thanks La Goupeline as the scene swirls to the present...


---------

"While a lot of La Goupeline's stories have some basis in history, as time has passed, the line between fiction and fact blurred." Brock explained as he took the now roasted Combusken off the spit to cool. "But regardless of whether or not they are true or not, all of them are worth telling."

"I'm interested in learning more about the adventure that Sabian caravanner--Liko, was it?--told us about back at the inn." Ash requested.

Once sure a post of vegetables was roasting over the fire, Brock began his tale of adventure. "One of La Goupeline's recurring foes in her stories is the lord Tristan Belgarde." he explained. "So one day, he got the idea to try and start a war between Cielore and Sabia..."
 
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Episode 5: The First Town of Abundant Purity


"We're close to the town of Eaubondance--so named because of the hot springs, and the many soap shops that sprung up to take advantage of the local water's purity." Brock explained. "So if you want to stock up on soap for trading and personal use, this is the place to do it."

"Say no more!" Misty smiled, holding a bag depicting some Squirtles playing in soap bubbles for Serena and the boys to see. "I'll get us so many, we'll have to open our own soap shop!"

"Just don't spend every coin we have..." Serena sighed as Misty hurried off in the direction of the town...

---------

"Since Misty is occupied buying out every single soap shop in town, shall we go take a look at the other thing this place is famous for?" Brock asked, making a grand gesture to a grand spa not far from the inn.

He noticed Serena's hesitant look. "Relax, spas and baths have very strict rules about observateurs in the ladies' baths--and men and boys are only allowed in there if they are family, close friends, or a designated bodyguard the lady has chosen herself. So if it makes you feel comfortable knowing I'm there to defend your honor from an observateur, I will personally stand guard by the entryway while you bathe."

The concerned look on Serena's face softened. "Okay...if Ash doesn't mind bathing alone, I would feel much safer knowing someone's there to protect my privacy and honor."

"It's fine--and if Brock does need help protecting you from an unsavory type, I'll be there to help." Ash assured Serena, patting the elegant sword sheathed by his right leg for emphasis.

"Okay..." Serena smiled. "Let's go see if the springs are as relaxing as people say...I could use a relaxing bath after sitting in the wagon's driver seat for so long."

---------

"So? How was it?" Brock asked as he met Ash and Serena in the spa lobby some time later.

"Warm and relaxing..." Serena raved as she carefully combed out her still wet hair.

"I almost feel like going to the inn and taking a nap..." Ash agreed as the group departed the spa.

"Oh..." Serena dug around in her pockets for a pale green pearl she had stashed away in her pocket. "While I was relaxing in the water, I found this pearl floating near my position in the pool. I asked the attendant if it belonged to anyone, and she said I could keep it--pearls do turn up in spa pools often during the time of the Gathering."

"It makes sense--many spa towns are built over natural hot springs, so it's not unheard of for pearls to form deep beneath the earth, then rise to the surface." Brock explained. "Maybe this pearl was one of those."

"Pearls that naturally come up to the surface often aren't named, like most of the ones we find on this journey." Ash remembered as the group strolled down a street. "So if you could name that one, what would you name it?"

Serena thought for a moment. "Since I found it while relaxing in a warm spring, I'll name it Quiet Moment."

"A fitting name--spas and baths are typically quiet places, save for the flowing water that creates the baths, quiet conversation, and the coming and goings of customers." Brock smiled. "So we can add this one to our collection?"

"We'll do that when we return to the inn." Serena replied, before stopping to admire a massive boiling cauldron in one of the many soap factories in the town. Soap making is a fairly lengthy process--I salute those that tend the cauldrons, cut and mill the bars, and design the wrappers. In my eyes, those that design the wrappers have the hardest job. A wrapper should look nice, be consistent with that maker's brand, and be able to fit the bar it is wrapping--so you have to be careful not to get it too big or too small...

She sighed, more out of happiness than frustration. "Shall we go back and see if Misty bought every soap bar in the town?"

"Look at it this way--all the soap makers in the city would be happy to serve an enthusiastic customer like her." Brock assured Serena. "Besides--we can always earn more money by taking a few jobs at an adventurer's guild."

"Yeah--even just your routine Mightyena hunt or bandit capturing job could easily fund Misty's soap love!" Ash agreed as he led the way back to the inn...

---------

"Oh my..." Ash gasped when Misty returned to the inn with a variety of soap bars later that evening.

"Relax--we still have plenty of money left..." Misty assured Serena as she took stock of the soap she had acquired by which brand she had gotten them from. "Arteau--honey almond, rose, sweet Nomel, and mint...Curalait--Cheri and milk, Oran and milk...Baie-en-Vie, Razz Berry, Figy Berry...Dorecin, rose, lime, lavender, and Oran...BainColore...rouge, which is Rawst Berry, jaune, which is Nomel, vert, which is mint..."

"At the rate she's counting them, she has enough for every person in the land to have at least one bar of soap for a year..." Brock sighed.

"Just humor her...this land is famous for its soapmaking, and we will be visiting a lot of spa towns and soap making towns along the way." Serena replied, watching Misty document her haul all the while...
 
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Episode 6: The Promise of the Phoenix

(the real tale)

"We're coming up on the city of Andin..." Brock explained. "It is most famously where the great thinker known as the Dreamer--or Le Rêveur, in Cielorian--made his home."

"If memory serves, he built a grand shrine to Arceus there, as a gift to the town." Serena remembered. "The Dreamer strongly believed that every person, regardless of their station in life, could overcome humble beginnings, and do something great. In addition to his philosophical writings, he wrote on many other topics, and translated many folktales from other lands into Cielorian for the first time."

A thought occurred to her as the caravan rounded a bend in the road. "It is not unheard of for caravanners to stop at the Dreamer's Shrine on their way to Illumis, so I see no harm in asking Arceus for a safe journey there."

---------

"Wow...." Ash gasped as the group arrived in the shrine some time later.

Serena noticed Ash's awe over the painting of a phoenix near the main altar. "The Dreamer deeply revered Moltres. He saw Moltres as a symbol of transformation, rebirth, and growing stronger. So it's no surprise he translated both common versions of Moltres folktales into Cielorian for the first time."

"I happen to know one common version..." Brock offered as he located his lute and started tuning. "Want to hear it?"

"Yeah!" Ash replied.

'Let's go outside, to the square." Misty suggested. "That way, you can perform all you wish without worrying about breaking a piece of history."

---------

Once everyone was settled near the majestic Moltres fountain in the town square, Brock began his performance. "In a certain far-away kingdom, there lived a king that was well loved and well liked among his people. He had three sons--the eldest was named Dimitri, the second was named Aleron, and the youngest was named Brian." he explained over a relaxed melody from the lute.

Then he paused, as if he remembered something. "Now, the king had a walled garden, so rich and beautiful that in nowhere in the world was there a more splendid one. Many rare trees grew in it whose Berries were precious jewels, and the rarest of all was an Leppa tree whose Leppa Berries were of pure crystal, and this the king loved best of all."

Brock's voice quieted the amazed chatter as more of the townsfolk hurried to listen. "One day, he saw that one of the crystal Leppa Berries was missing. He placed guards at all the gates of the garden; but in spite of this, one more crystal Leppa Berry was gone every morning. Eventually he posted guards all around the garden to keep watch, and the guard reported to him that every night there came flying into the garden a bird that shone like Ho'oh, whose feathers were a fiery red and gold and its eyes like crystal, which perched on the Leppa tree, picked a crystal Leppa Berry, and flew away."

After setting his lute aside, Brock got up and walked around the square for a moment, talking all the while. "The king, recognizing that the thief was the Herald of Fire, Moltres, was greatly angered, and calling to him his two eldest sons, said..."

"My dear children, I have thought long and hard about which of you will inherit my kingdom and reign after me. Whoever can catch the flaming bird Moltres, and brings her to me alive, I will give half the kingdom, and he will rule after me when I have joined Arceus in heaven." he explained to an imagined person as the king.

As himself, Brock continued "The two sons, upon hearing this command, rejoiced, and both of them vowed to bring their father Moltres alive. Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron then flipped a coin to see who would go first, and the coin's favor fell to the eldest, Prince Dimitri."

He went on "That evening, he went into the garden to keep watch. He sat down under the Leppa tree and watched carefully for the first part of the night, but when midnight came, he fell asleep."

Giggles rippled through the air as Brock played a few bars of a lullaby to represent Prince Dimitri falling asleep. "In the morning, the king summoned him and said..."

"Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asked as the king.

"No, father; I did not see her." he sighed in a younger version of himself for Prince Dimitri.

As himself, Brock continued "The king, however, went to the garden and counted the Leppa Berries, and saw that yet another had been stolen."

He played a quiet interlude, then continued "The next evening Prince Aleron went into the garden to keep watch. He too fell asleep at midnight, and the next morning when his father summoned him, he, like his brother, answered..."

"I watched all night, but Moltres did not enter your garden." he explained in a mimic of a proud boy for Prince Aleron.

He intoned as himself "But when the king counted them, he saw that another crystal Leppa Berry was missing."

Nervous giggles went up at this. "On the third evening his youngest son, Brian, asked permission to keep watch in the garden, but his father initially refused." Brock explained.

"How can you succeed where your brothers failed?" he asked as the king.

He assured the crowd as himself "But Brian continued to plead until the king relented."

The lights dimmed to represent night again. "So Brian took his place in the garden, and sat down to watch under the miracle tree." Brock narrated. "He watched for an hour, then two hours, and then three hours. When midnight came, sleep almost overcame him, but he had positioned his sword to poke him just hard enough to wake him beforehand."

The growing crowd listened as Brock went on "At midnight, the garden glowed with the light of many fires, and Moltres came flying on her fiery wings to land on the lowest branch of the Leppa Berry tree. Brian quietly approached, and as she was about to pick a crystal Leppa Berry, he managed to grab her tail. Moltres, being much stronger than a human, tore herself loose and flew away, leaving in his hand a single long feather. Brian wrapped this in a handkerchief, lay down, and went to sleep. In the morning the king summoned him and said..."

"Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asks as the king.

As himself, Brock continued "Brian unrolled the handkerchief, and the feather shone so much, it turned the dark throne room to day. The king could not get enough of it--when it was brought into a darkened room it gleamed as if a million lights had been lit. He put it into his royal treasury as one of his many treasures, and posted many guards in the garden hoping to capture Moltres, but she came no more. The king, greatly desiring Moltres, sent for his two eldest sons, and said..."

"You, my sons, failed even to see the thief of my Leppa Berries, but your brother Brian, has at least brought me one of her feathers. Go forth, with my blessing, and ride in search of her, and the one who brings her to me alive will receive half of my kingdom." he told an imagined person as the king.

He continued as himself over an adventurous interlude "Dimitri and Aleron, jealous of their younger brother Brian, rejoiced that their father did not bid him to go, and mounting their swift horses, rode away in search of Moltres. They rode for three days--exactly how far, I don't know--but eventually they came to a plain where the road split into three paths. A great stone stood at the fork, with this message carved on it..."

He then played a tense D minor chord. "Who rides forward will know both hunger and cold. Who rides to the right will live, though his steed will die. Who rides to the left will die, though his steed will live."

As himself, he continued over a quiet interlude "They were unsure what to do, since none of the three roads bode well, and turning into a forest, made camp, where they rested."

Intrigued murmurs went up from the crowd. "When days had passed and they did not return, Brian asked his father to give him his blessing and permission to search for Moltres." Brock continued. "The king refused to let him go at first..."

"My dear son, I fear the Mightyenas will devour you. You are still young, and not used to a long journey. If I die and you too are gone, who will remain to keep order in my kingdom? Rebellion may arise and there will be none to quell it, or an enemy may cross our borders and there will be none to command our troops. So please, do not leave me!" he pleaded as the king.

As himself, Brock then assured the crowd "In spite of all this, however, Brian would not stop pleading, and eventually his father relented. He got his father's blessing, chose a fine Ponyta, and rode away to Arceus knew where."

Ash couldn't resist clapping along to the song that symbolized Brian traveling. "Three days he rode, till he came to the plain with the fork." Brock went on. "He read the words carved on the great stone that stood there. He thought, "I shouldn't take the left road, for on that road I will die. Nor should I take the middle road of hunger and cold. I will take the right-hand road, where I will keep my life, even though my poor Ponyta will perish." So he rode to the right.

He sighed--good people and Pokemon dying were some of his least favorite parts to tell. "He rode for one day, then two days, and then three days, enough that the poor Ponyta died of exhaustion."

"Poor Ponyta..." Serena commented over the sniffling crowd.

"On the morning of the fourth day, as he walked through a forest, he saw a Lucario fainting from hunger." Brock narrated over a mysterious motif. "Remembering his fallen Ponyta, he gave the Lucario some of its meat, so it too would not perish."

"You are a brave lad, Brian, and my heart aches for you." he told an imagined person in an older female voice with a slight lilt for the Lucario. "I may have eaten your Ponyta out of survival, but as you did a good deed for me, now I will do something good for you in return. Climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me to Moltres, who stole my father's crystal Leppa Berries." he requested in a mimic of Ash as Prince Brian.

Misty smiled. "No matter how many times Brock mimics you, Ash, that never gets old."

"I'm still amazed he learned my voice after only hearing me once..." Ash replied before turning his attention back to the square, and Brock's unfolding performance.

"With that, the Lucario sped away, running faster than any mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated, playing a "running" motif on his lute all the while. "At midnight, he stopped at a stone wall."

"Climb over this wall. On the other side is a garden, and in the garden is an iron railing, and behind the railing three cages are hung, one of gold, one of silver, and one of crystal." he explained in character as the Lucario. "In the gold cage is a Murkrow, in the silver one is a Fletchling, and in the crystal cage is Moltres. Open the door of the crystal cage, carefully take out Moltres, and put her in your bag. But whatever you do, do not take the crystal cage; If you do, great misfortune will follow."

"Brian climbed the wall, entered the iron railing, and found the three cages as the Lucario had said. Brock narrated as himself. "He took out Moltres and carefully placed her in his bag. However, one of the bag's straps caught on the crystal cage, making a clear ringing that resounded through the garden." He plays a harmonic D note for effect. "This woke the guards, and they captured Brian. In the morning they brought him before their king, the King of Fire."

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" he asked in a regal voice for the King of Fire. "Whose son are you, and what is your name?"

"I am Prince Brian of the hill kingdom." he replied in character. "Your Moltres entered my father's garden by night and stole many crystal Leppa Berries from his favorite tree. My father the king sent me to find and bring him the thief."

"How will I know that you speak the truth?" he asked as the King of Fire again. "Had you asked me first, I would have given you Moltres with all the honor due her. But instead you act as a thief without honor. However, I am a just king, and I will forgive you if you will do me a favor. Across twenty lands lies the Kingdom of the Mist. If you will ride to him and win for me from him the Legendary shining steed Epona, which his father promised me, I will give Moltres to you, and forget this ever happened."

As himself, Brock continued over a sad melody. "Brian left the Kingdom of Fire in tears. He found the Lucario and told him everything."

He assured the audience as the Lucario "Cry not, Brian. How was I to know an accident would occur? But as you have confessed the wrong you have done and wish to set things right again, climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me across twenty countries to the Kingdom of the Mist, where the Legendary steed Epona is." he requested in character as Prince Brian.

"And so the Lucario ran, fifty times faster than a mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated as he played the "running" motif again. "Whether it was a long way or a short way, I don't know, but around midnight they came to the palace of the King of the Mist, and stopped beside the royal stables, which were all built of marble."

"The stablemen are all fast asleep, and you may take Epona." he explained as the Lucario. "Be careful not to touch the golden bridle that hangs beside her. If you do, something terrible will happen."

As himself, Brock continued "Brian opened the door of the stables and there he saw Epona, whose shining fire and blue flames lit the entire stable. But as he was leading her out his lead rope accidentally brushed against the bridle, and it too rang with a single clear note."

He played another harmonic D note. "This noise, of course, startled Epona..."

The audience roared with laughter as Misty decided to use her fiddle to create a sound effect of a Ponyta whinny. "The racket awakened the guards, who captured Brian." Brock continued once the laughter died down. "In the morning they led him before the King of the Mist."

"You are too good a young man to be a Ponyta thief." he began, using a gentler voice for the King of the Mist. "Tell me where you come from, who is your father, and what is your name."

"I come from the kingdom on the hill." he explained as Prince Brian. "I am that king's son, and my name is Brian. The King of Fire gave me the task of bringing him Epona, which your father promised him and which is his by right."

"Had you told me you came on the Fire King's behalf in the first place, I would have given you Epona with all due honor, and you would not have needed to take her from me by thievery." he replied as the King of the Mist. "However, Brian, I will forgive you and forget this whole affair if you will do something for me. Ride over thirty lands to the Kingdom of Light, whose princess is known as Marla, the star of the sea, and bring her to me as my bride. I have loved her for a long time with all my heart, and yet cannot win her. Do this and I will forgive you and give you Epona."

As himself, he narrated over a sad interlude. "Brian left the Mist Palace crying many tears, and told the Lucario all that had happened."

"Dry your tears--I know you did not intend for this to happen, but it did, and so we must make things right again." he assured the audience as the Lucario. "Now, climb on my back and tell me where you wish to go."

"Take me across thirty lands to the princess who is named Marla." he requested in character as Prince Brian again.

"I hope he listens this time..." Serena grumbled over the lute's interlude.

"The Lucario began running, a hundred times faster than any Rapidash, and faster than one can tell in a tale, until he came to the Kingdom of Light." Brock continued over his "running" motif. "He stopped at a golden railing surrounding a lovely garden."

"Go back along the road we came, and wait for me in the open field under the sycamore tree." he instructed as the Lucario.

"So Brian did as he was told." he narrated as himself. "Toward evening, when the sun was low and its rays were no longer hot, the king's daughter, Marla, went into the garden to walk with her ladies." he narrated over a quiet interlude. "When she approached, the Lucario met them in the garden and told Marla all manner of wonderful things about the suitor that was his master. After discussing the matter with her ladies, Marla agreed to come with the Lucario. He led her to the open field, to the green oak tree where Brian was waiting, and introduced her to him. Marla had been unnerved, but she found no reason to fear the young man before her."

"Climb aboard, both of you." he instructed as the Lucario.

"Brian climbed on the Lucario's back, with Marla holding onto him, and Lucario ran faster than fifty Rapidashes, across thirty countries, back to the Kingdom of the Mist." Brock continued over a traveling motif. "As he kept looking back to be sure Princess Marla was holding onto him securely, Prince Brian began to love her with all his heart, and Princess Marla loved him in return, so that when the Lucario came to the Kingdom of the Mist, Brian began to cry."

"What's the matter, milord?" he asked as the Lucario.

"How can I not cry when I myself have begun to love Princess Marla, yet now I must give her up to the King of the Mist for Epona?" he sighed as Prince Brian.

"I have taken you this far, Brian, and I will not give up on you now." he smiled as the Lucario. "Listen closely. When we approach the palace, I will transform myself into an exact copy of Princess Marla, and you are to lead me to the King of the Mist and receive Epona in return. Once you have Epona, mount her and ride far away. I will catch up with you momentarily."

"With that, the Lucario cast a spell of transformation..." Brock narrated as himself.

The town square gasped in awe as Brock sang in character Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul..., then continued "...and transformed into an exact copy of Princess Marla; so alike that not even an archsage's eye could tell them apart. After instructing the real Marla to wait for him outside the walls, Brian led the Lucario into the palace to the King of the Mist. The king, thinking he had won the treasure he had so long desired as his wife, was very joyful, and gladly gave Brian Epona and his freedom. Once Brian had Epona, he rode outside the walls to the real Princess Marla, had her mount behind him on the saddle and set out across twenty countries back to the Kingdom of Fire."

After playing a traveling interlude, he went on "It was not long before the Lucario, now in his true form, caught up to them."

"Climb aboard, Brian, and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructed as the Lucario.

"So Brian mounted the Lucario, and Princess Marla rode on Epona, and they went on together to the Kingdom of Fire." Brock continued as himself over his interlude. "Whether the way was a long one or a short one, I don't know, but eventually they approached the Fire Palace. Then Brian, getting down from the Lucario's back, said..."

"If you can transform into Princess Marla, could you maybe transform into Epona too? She is a fine steed, and I shudder to know what the King of Fire has in store for her." he explained as Prince Brian.

"So the Lucario cast another spell of transformation..." he narrated as himself for a moment. before singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... as the Lucario again.

"...and transformed into an exact copy of Epona; so alike even a trained archsage could not tell them apart." he smiled as himself. "After leaving Princess Marla on the green with the real Epona, Brian mounted the disguised Lucario and rode to the palace gate. Once Moltres was in his care, they started off for home, and the Lucario caught up to them some moments later."

"Climb on my back and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructs as the Lucario again.

"So Brian mounted the Lucario and Princess Marla rode Epona, and eventually they came to the forest where Brian and the Lucario had met." Brock narrated as himself as his "traveling" interlude slowed down.

"Here we will part for now, but I'm sure we will meet again." he assured the audience as the Lucario.

"Aw.." Serena smiled.

The crowd agreed, and more "Aw"s went up as Brock continued "Brian got down from the Lucario's back, said a tearful farewell to his friend, and the Lucario leaped into a thicket and disappeared. Brian mounted Epona, Marla climbed on behind him, and she held in her hands the golden cage that housed Moltres, and they set off for the royal city. They rode three days, until they came to the plain with the three way fork and the great stone. Being very tired, the party decided to rest for a while. Brian tied Epona to the stone, and lying lovingly side by side on the soft grass, they went to sleep."

He intoned over an ominous chord "Brian did not, however, expect his jealous brothers to ambush him, throw him into a deep pit, and take his treasures as he slept."

"WHAAAAAATTTT?" the crowd gasped.

"The king rejoiced greatly to see them. He gave Prince Dimitri half of his kingdom, and held a festival which lasted a whole month. At the end of the month Prince Aleron was to wed Princess Marla." Brock explained as the chatter quieted.

His song turned hopeful as he assured the crowd "As for Brian, he spent two days in the deep pit, calling fruitlessly for help all the while. On the third day, the Lucario happened to pass that way. He knew immediately that the voice coming from the pit was that of Prince Brian. After levitating Brian onto safe ground and looking him over for any injury, the Lucario told Brian..."

"Listen closely--your brothers ambushed you as you slept, threw you in that pit to die, and took away with them Princess Marla, Epona, and Moltres." he explains as the Lucario. "Hurry and climb on my back, for your brother Prince Aleron is to wed your beloved Marla today."

Brock next started another "running" interlude. "Brian hurried aboard, and the Lucario began running, swifter than a hundred Rapidashes, toward the royal palace. Whether the way was long or short, I don't know, but he soon came to the city, and there at the gate the Lucario stopped."

"We must part for now, but I am forever your ally, and will come to you if you need my help." he assured us as the Lucario.

Ash swallowed hard as Brock continued "Brian got down, and after bidding the Lucario a tearful farewell, entered the city and went immediately to the palace, where Prince Aleron was even then being wed to Princess Marla. He entered the splendid foyer and came to the banquet hall, and as soon as Princess Marla saw him, she got up from the table and kissed him on the cheek."

"Aw"s went up as the audience pictured the romantic scene in their minds. "This is my beloved, Brian, who rightfully deserves to wed me, and not this wicked one who sits with me at the table!" he called in a young female voice for Princess Marla.

"The king was confused, and asked Princess Marla to tell him more." Brock explained as himself. "Princess Marla told him everything--how Brian had won her, Epona and Moltres, and how his two elder brothers had ambushed him as he slept and thrown him in a deep pit to die."

He started a victorious song as he went on "When he heard the truth, the king flew into a great rage. He ordered that Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron be thrown into the dungeon, and Brian, that same day, was wed to the lovely Marla. The king proclaimed a great festival, which lasted until there was no one hungry or thirsty in the kingdom. There were games, competitions, and performances of every stripe, and the kingdom rang with the minstrel's songs in honor of Prince Brian and Marla."

He concluded "When the festivities finally ended, Prince Dimitri was made a servant and Prince Aleron a stable boy, but Brian lived always with his beloved Marla in such harmony and love that neither of them could bear to be without the other even for a week. He went on many more adventures with his friend the Lucario as well, but that is another story for another day!"

The square roared with applause as Brock took a bow, but Serena's applause was the loudest. Bravo! I'm sure The Dreamer would've been proud of that performance!
 
@Greninjaman

The map of this fantasy Kalos is built on a LOT more of real France--so the group has plenty of places to see. They will actually be visiting the major XY locations out of order, (I have all the way up to Cyllage City's real life location written out, which is quite a lot!)
 
Episode 7: The Road to the Mountain

(the real tale)

"We're coming up on the town of Hautneige...." Brock began as the caravan made its way up a steep hill. "Luckily, the road doesn't require travelers or caravans to climb any mountains. We DO, however, need to be aware of snow on the roads. Lord Beaumont should let us know if it is safe to continue or not."

"Now I remember why many caravans take routes around the mountains..." Ash muttered. "It still snows up there even in spring. If you're particularly unlucky, your journey to Illumis may even be delayed..."

"Peace, Ash--we're not going to be stranded in the mountains forever." Serena assured her companion. "If it is snowing when we get there, at least Hautneige has a large inn, so we'll have somewhere to stay if needed."

"That, and Brock has his stories to keep us entertained if we do get delayed." Misty agreed. "Arceus willing we won't be delayed for too long..."

As the group rounded a bend in the road, Ash saw his faithful Pikachu gasp in surprise as a snowflake landed on his nose. "Oh, great...snow..."

"We're almost to town!" Serena called as more snowflakes started falling. "Hopefully we can reach shelter before a blizzard rolls in!"

---------

"Good day, caravanners--and Sir Lucien's daughter, no less!" a deep brown haired man in an elegant coat et the group. "I apologize for the fickle weather--the snow may render certain routes impassible for a few days..."

"We'll make the best of it, Lord Beaumont." Serena assured the man. "Is there any room in the inn?"

"Of course--you're actually the first caravan to arrive here today." Lord Beaumont replied. "I'll send word to the innkeeper that you'll only need to pay for one night, in case the weather makes it impossible to travel tomorrow."

"Thank you, milord." Brock replied before motioning for Serena to guide the Ponytas through the stone streets rapidly filling with snow...

---------

"I know, it's frustrating to be delayed by weather..." Misty assured Ash as the group settled into the inn's common room for a hot meal. "But look at it this way--better to be delayed for a few days than be stranded in the howling wind and snow, and never make it to Illumis at all."

"The stories I could tell about caravans that met an icy fate because they tried to venture into the mountains in the winter and spring..." Brock agreed.

"If I wanna hear any story, can it at least be a happy one?" Ash requested, now in a better mood.

"I suppose I could practice some of the Cielorian tales Serena's taught me..." Brock suggested. "That should help pass the time."

After thinking for a moment, he started the first tale to come to mind. "There was once a king and queen who had three of the most beautiful children in the world. They loved all the children well, one no better than the others; but the youngest, who was a girl, was always kept locked away in a high tower. She was allowed to see no one but her attendants, and her family, who went every day to visit her."

"But why should such a kind lady be locked away?" Ash wondered. "What crime did she commit?"

"No one knew why she was locked away, save for the king and queen." Brock replied. Even her brothers--their names are not important--did not know, and they often grieved to think that their sister Rose--or as they affectionately called her, Rosie--would be a prisoner forever."

He grinned, signaling the twist in his tale. "The truth was this: when Rosie was born, a light fairy had appeared to her parents and had warned them that some time the princess would bring a great misfortune upon her brothers, as punishment for their pride and greed. Because of her, they would be cast into a dungeon and, perhaps even die. These misfortunes would happen when Princess Rosie was of age to be married."

He went on "The royal parents were greatly troubled at this, and they immediately ordered a high tower to be built, and placed Princess Rosie inside. Every luxury was hers; the most beautiful clothes and jewels, and the most delicious food. Her furniture was of gold and was carved in strange and wonderful designs, and the hangings were all woven of gold and silver thread and richly embroidered. As I said before, no one ever came to the tower, or saw her, except her family and her ladies."

"Poor Rosie..." Misty sighed.

"The royal parents intended to tell their sons the reason for this imprisonment when Rosie turned eighteen." Brock explained "Her brothers would then understand that it was not through any cruelty that their sister was kept prisoner, but to protect their own lives, and give them a chance to turn from their wicked ways."

He sighed--good and noble people dying were always some of his least favorite parts to tell. "Unfortunately, just before Rosie’s eighteenth birthday, the king and queen both died from a terrible disease. It happened so quickly, they could not reveal the truth before Arceus called them home. Once the funeral rites were completed, the keys of the tower were given to the elder prince, and one of his first acts was to release Rosie from the tower."

He went on "Princess Rosie was delighted to be able to finally see what the world outside of her tower was like. Everything was a wonder to her—the trees, the grass, the flowers and fountains. She wished to know the names of everything. At one spot in the gardens, a phoenix sat sunning itself."

“What is that beautiful flaming bird called?” Serena jumped in the role of Princess Rosie.

“That, my sister, is a phoenix--the legendary flaming bird of courage and hope.” Ash jumped in the role of the prince.

“A phoenix!” Serena gasped in feigned surprise, to the delight of the other inn guests listening. “Never in my life did I dream that such a beautiful being existed. I'm sure that in all the world there can be nothing else that is quite so beautiful. My brothers, if you love me, find the Phoenix King and bring him here, for he, and he alone, shall be my husband.”

Applause went up at the impromptu performance. "The princes loved their sister so dearly, that they could refuse nothing that she asked of them." Brock narrated. "They immediately got ready, and went forth into the world in search of the land of the phoenixes. Before they left, they asked for a portrait of their sister to be painted. They were sure that if the king of the land of phoenixes knew how beautiful Rosie was, he would never be contented until he had her for his queen..."
 
Interlude: The Warmth of the Light God


The visitors in the inn applauded as Brock concluded his tale some time later. "Thank you..." Brock replied before thinking of a new tale to tell. "Ash, Misty, Serena--want to help assist in this next long tale?"

"Sure!" Serena replied as she hurried to receive her instructions for the performance...

---------

"Once there lived a king and queen who had a daughter they loved very much." Brock began. "She was so graceful, pretty, and clever that she was even named Grace. Her mother and father loved her so much, they would rather lose everything they owned than see Princess Grace unhappy."

He went on "Every day, the queen gave Princess Grace a lovely new dress of gold, or satin, or velvet, or something equally valuable. When she was hungry she had the choicest meats, cheeses, and vegetables, and bowls full of all manner of candies. Princess Grace was well loved and well liked in all the kingdom, and everybody said she was the happiest princess in the world."

He intoned "Now, in this land's court was a very rich old duchess whose name was Amara. She was infamous for her hair trigger temper, and her hair, now icy white, had once been red as fire, and she had piercing green eyes that many said could see into your soul!"

Shudders filled the common room, but Brock was not done describing the villain of his story. "Her face was as broad as a full moon, and her mouth was so large that everybody who met her would have been afraid they were going to be eaten alive by sickly yellow teeth. She could not bear to hear everyone saying how pretty and how charming Grace was. If anyone happened to mention the charming princess, she would loudly proclaim that she had more beauty in her pinky than Princess Grace had in her whole body."

He sighed."The years went by, until one day, to the great grief of the kingdom, the queen caught a horrible disease and died, despite the healer's best efforts. The king became so depressed that he locked himself up in his palace and didn't come out for a year. The royal healers, fearing that he too would get sick, told him to go out and have some fun. So a hunting party was assembled, but as it was very hot that day, the king soon got tired, and decided to rest at a castle they were passing by."

Then he remembers something. "The king didn't know that this particular castle happened to be Duchess Amara's castle. When she heard that the king was coming, she went out to meet him, and told him that the cellar was the coolest place in the whole castle. So down they went together, and the king saw about two hundred great casks ranged side by side, asked if it was only for herself that she had this immense store of wine. Duchess Amara said that the massive amount of wine was for herself alone, but she would be happy to let the king have some of it. So after the king told Amara what kind of wine he wanted, he was stunned when gems game from the barrel instead of wine. Gold came out of a second barrel, and silver from a third. Duchess Amara insisted she didn't have a clue as to how all the riches got there, but the king didn't buy her story one bit. Duchess Amara finally came clean, and said they were all filled with gold, silver, and jewels, and offered to marry the king right then. The king agreed, under the condition that Duchess Amara would have entire control of Princess Grace to do as she pleased with her."

Gasps filled the common room at the turn of events. "Understandably, Princess Grace was horrified at the news of her father marrying Duchess Amara, but reluctantly got ready to go visit Duchess Amara's castle." Brock explained. "When she told her maid what the matter was, her maid told her not to let the Duchess see how much she disliked her. At first, Princess Grace would not promise, but her maid showed her so many good reasons for it that in the end she agreed to at least tolerate her stepmother."

He smiled--it was time for his hero to appear! "While Grace was waiting on her father to be ready, she went through the garden into a little clearing in the forest, where she sat down upon a mossy bank and began to think about her situation. It wasn't long before she began to cry, and she cried, and cried, and forgot all about going back to the palace, until she suddenly saw a handsome page standing before her. He was dressed in green, and the cap which he held in his hand was adorned with white plumes. When Grace looked at him he went down on one knee, and said to her..."

He next knelt on one knee before Serena, in the role of his hero. "Princess, the king awaits you."

"How long have you been one of the king's pages?" Serena gasped in character as Princess Grace.

"I am not in the service of the king, madam, but in yours." Brock replied.

"In mine? Then how is it that I have never seen you before?" Serena asked, to some giggles.

"Ah, Princess! I have never before dared to present myself to you, but now the king's marriage threatens you with so many dangers that I have resolved to tell you now how much I love you already, and I trust that in time I may win your regard. I am Prince Tristan, of whose riches you may have heard, and whose magic powers will, I hope, be of use to you in all your difficulties, if you will permit me to accompany you under this disguise." Brock explained.

"Tristan! Is it really you? I have so often heard of you and wished to see you. If you will indeed be my friend, I will not be afraid of that wicked old duchess any more." Serena smiled, to some "aw"s.

Brock resumed narrating again. "So they went back to the palace together, and there Grace found a beautiful Shiny Rapidash which Tristan had brought for her to ride. As it was very spirited he led it by the bridle. This enabled him to turn and look at the Princess often. When the Rapidash which the Duchess was to ride appeared beside Grace's, it looked no better than an old cart Ponyta, and its flames were mere embers. As to their trappings, there was simply no comparison between them, as the princess's saddle and bridle were one glittering mass of diamonds. The king had so many other things to think of that he did not notice this, but all his courtiers were entirely taken up with admiring the princess and her charming page in green, who was more handsome and distinguished-looking than all the rest of the court put together."

"Wow"s went up at this. "When they met Duchess Amara, she was seated in an open carriage trying in vain to look dignified." Brock continued, to some laughter as many in the room picture the sad and yet comical image of what Duchess Amara and her carriage looked like. "The king and the princess saluted her, and her Rapidash was brought forward for her to mount. But when she saw the Shiny Rapidash, she was steamed!"

More laughter filled the room as the guests pictured Duchess Amara angry. "The king commanded Grace to dismount and to beg the Duchess to honor her by mounting her Rapidash. Princess Grace reluctantly complied, and the duchess, without even so much as a thank you, scrambled up upon the beautiful Rapidash, where she sat looking like a bundle of clothes, and eight officers had to hold her up for fear she would fall off." Brock continued, to more giggles. "So the king ordered the page to come and lead the queen's Rapidash. Tristan and the princess looked at one another, but said nothing, as he did as the king commanded, and the procession started in great pomp. The duchess was greatly elated, and as she sat there in state would not have wished to change places even with Princess Grace. But at the moment when it was least expected the beautiful Rapidash began to plunge and rear and kick, and finally ran away at such a pace that it was impossible to stop it. At first, Duchess Amara clung to the saddle for dear life, but she was very soon thrown off and fell in a heap among the stones and thorns, and there they found her, shaken up, but very angry, and collected what was left of her as if she had been a broken glass."

The common room exploded in laughter at the comical scene. "As she recovered in bed, she began to scold and rage, and declared that the whole affair was Grace's fault, that she had contrived it on purpose to try and get rid of her, and that if the king would not have her punished, she would go back to her castle and enjoy her riches by herself." Brock intoned, calming the laughter. "At this, the king was frightened, for he did not at all want to lose all those barrels of gold and jewels. So to appease the duchess, he told her she could punish Grace in any way she saw fit."

"Oh no"s and gasps filled the room at the turn of events. "Princess Grace was grabbed by four waiting women, who looked so tall and strong and cruel that the she shuddered at the sight of them, and still more when she saw them arming themselves with great bundles of rods. She heard the duchess call out to them from her bed to beat her without mercy." Brock intoned. Princess Grace pleaded to Arceus that Tristan would come to rescue her. Suddenly, seconds before the first lash was to be delivered, she heard a familiar voice sing..."

He then sings in character as Tristan Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

He then assures the antsy crowd "Princess Grace discovered, to her great relief, that the rods had changed to bundles of Beautifly wings, and though the duchess's women went on till they were so tired that they could no longer raise their arms, she was not hurt at all. However, the duchess thought she must be black and blue after such a beating; so Princess Grace, when she was released, pretended to be in pain, and went away into her own room, where she told her maid all that had happened. She was more than relieved to see Tristan beside her. She thanked him profusely for helping her."

"Aw"s went up at the heartwarming scene. "They talked and laughed late into the night, but Tristan advised her to fake sick for a few days, and after promising to come to her aid whenever she needed him, he disappeared as suddenly as he had come..."
 
Episode 8: The Legend of the Aurora Cave


"I am SO glad to be back on the road!" Ash smiled as the group got back on the road out of Hautneige ten days later.

"Me too..." Serena agreed. "By Day 8, I was worried Brock would run out of stories to tell."

"What I told is not even a fraction of Cielorian folktales I have read and practiced." Brock assured the group. "Assuming we visit a few libraries on our journey, or Serena has some books of tales I have not read yet, I could learn even more."

He turned his attention back to his map. "But back to the matter at hand...now that we are finally out of Hautneige, our next stop is Bigrotte--so named for the many gem mines in the caves around the town, which locals and visitors are encouraged to mine from."

"While you were busy weaving tales of adventures and romance in the inn--and when we were not asked to assist--I learned a few true tales and some fantastic tales of the mines and caves of Bigrotte." Misty explained. "One of which concerns a particular cave known as the Aurora Cave, because the lights of millions of crystals makes it appear like the northern lights seen in the coldest lands of the north.

"I'm sure that must be beautiful to see!" Ash gasped, his eyes turning to stars as the thought of seeing the supposed lights of a million crystals.

"There are also many tales of heroes meeting the Legendary aurora beast Suicune, or meeting the Herald of Ice Articuno, or slaying some dragon or monster in the caves." Misty went on. "Lucky for us, we don't have to worry about monsters or dragons in the caves anymore."

"Dad always said that most dragons keep to themselves--and they won't bother you if you don't bother them first." Serena agreed. "So hostile dragons as in bedtime stories are fairly rare nowadays..."

"Arceus willing we don't run into too many of those." Ash smiled back. "Although if we do, I'm pretty sure my blade could at the very least wound it!"

"Here's hoping we don't have to test your claim." Misty mused as the caravan rounded a bend in the road...

---------

"We still have at least another day before we reach Bigrotte, so we can camp here for the night." Brock assured the others as he led the caravan into a cave overlooking a field and the road.

"At least we won't run the risk of anything jumping us in the safety of a cave." Misty mused as the group unloaded their camp gear from the wagon.

Once Brock had started a fire, he motioned to Misty. "Since I've told a lot these last few days, now I invite you to tell us all a tale"

"Okay then...here's a tale I picked up while we were stranded in that blizzard..." Misty explained. "It appears to be a version of the tale 'Brian and Epona', with the twist being that the main character is a girl, but believed to be a boy."

With that, she began "In a land far away from here, there lived a king who had nine daughters. Since he was angry at having no son to succeed him, he swore that he would kill the queen if their next child was not a boy."

"But that's no reason for anyone to die!" Ash gasped in horror.

Misty's assuring smile calmed him down. "Time came and went, and a tenth girl was born." she continued. "They named her Decima, as she was actually the tenth daughter. Then the queen and faithful nurse decided to hide Decima's true gender. So they announced to the king that Arceus had finally granted him a son, which they had named Decio--since he was the tenth child. The king rejoiced, singing praises to Arceus, and thanking Him for giving him a son, and an heir to the kingdom."

She went on "The years passed, and no one had any clue that Decio was actually Decima. Only the queen, the nurse, the court wizard, and a few other very trusted lord and ladies knew the truth. Eventually, Decima came of age. It was the custom in that land for all young men that had come of age to either join the royal knights, or set out on a journey to bring glory to the kingdom."

"What did the queen do?" Brock asked, intrigued

"She was so scared about the secret getting out, she locked herself in her room and cried." Misty explained. "Decima heard the sobs coing from inside, and asked to come in. When she asked her mother the queen what the matter was, her mother told her the truth--she was not Decio, as people believed, but Decima, the tenth daughter. She explained that she had presented her as male to save both her life and Decima's."

She then assured the antsy boys "But Decima was very wise as well as loving. She assured her mother that she would go to her father the king and request to go on the journey of glory instead..."
 
Episode 9: The Colorful Stage of Crystal


As the group's caravan arrived in Bigrotte a few days later, Serena gasped in excitement over a poster on a lamppost. "Oh, Arceus! The Brilliante Troupe is here for Bigrotte's annual Diamond Festival!"

"I seem to remember their performance of 'The Faithful Fair One' a few years ago--and they were gracious enough to come perform in Croquis' little theater." Brock remembered as Serena guided the caravan past the colorfully decorated houses on the town's main street to the inn.

"You are in luck, caravanners--I still have some rooms left." the innkeeper assured Serena. "But in honor of the festival, I have waived the usual fee for caravanners."

"Thank you, good sir..." Serena replied as she gave the innkeeper a bag of coins. "Please take some coins anyway to cover the upkeep of our wagon and to care for the Ponytas."

"Very well, good lady..." the innleeper replied as he accepted the coins. "We'll take care of your wagon and your Ponytas while you enjoy the festival--if you hurry, the Brilliante Troupe will be performing soon in the town square!"

---------

"And now, ladies and gentlemen! The Brilliante Troupe now presents the tale of 'The Faithful Son!" the troupe's impresario announced as Serena, Ash, Misty, and Brock found a seat at the western edge of the town square, where a colorful stage had been set up.

The audience applauded as the troupe's narrator arrived on the stage. "There was once a poor woman, a widow, who lived alone with her son Pascal." he began. "She loved him dearly and she had good reason to do so, for no one had ever seen a more charming child. Although he was just seven years old, he watched the house while his mother spun and sewed, and then left home to sell her work and buy food for the two of them. He swept and washed the floor, he cooked, he dug and cultivated the garden, and when all this was done, he would mend his clothes or his mother's shoes and make stools and tables—whatever needed doing, he did it, and he did it well."

Intrigued murmurs went up at this. "The house was very warm and inviting, but no one ever came to visit." the narrator explained. "Not far from the house stood a lofty mountain so high that no one had ever reached the peak. On top of that, it was surrounded by a rushing river, high walls and insurmountable cliffs."

Awed "wow"s and whistles wafted through the town square as the audience pictured the mountain. "The mother and her little boy lived happily for quite some time, but one day, the poor mother got very sick." the narrator intoned. "No doctor was willing to travel that far out in the country, and it didn't help that they had no money to pay for a house call. Poor Pascal had no idea to cure her. He brought her fresh water, he stayed by her side all hours of the day and through the night and ate his meager meal at the foot of her bed. When she slept he looked at her sadly and cried."

"Aw"s filled the air and Ash brushed away a tear as the narrator went on "The terrible disease worsened from day to day until the poor woman was almost dying. She could not speak nor swallow, and she no longer knew her son, who was sobbing on his knees near her bed. In his despair, Pascal nearly screamed out a song said to invoke magical powers and summon the fey in the bedtime stories his mother had always told him..."

Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... a male voice sang.

"Pascal had hardly pronounced these words, when a window opened, and a fairy of light, dressed in a shiny gold costume, flew in and said to him..." the narrator continued.

"What do you wish of me, little one?" a brown haired actress--wearing the exact outfit the narrator described--asked as she arrived in a nook at stage left, where a young auburn haired actor in the role of Pascal was on his knees in feigned desperation.

"Madam," the actor playing Pascal pleaded, throwing himself on his knees and clasping his hands, "If you are indeed a fairy of light, save my poor mother, who is about to die and leave me here all alone."

"The light fairy--whose name was Lumina, looked at Pascal with a smile, and then, without saying a word, she approached the poor woman, examined her, whispered some words in the fey tongue..." The narrator waited as the actress playing Lumina whispered some gibberish before an imagined bed. "and said..."

"It is beyond my ability, little one, to cure your mother." the actress playing Lumina told her costar with a sigh. "Her life depends on you alone. But if you have the courage to undertake the perilous journey, I will show you the way."

"Tell me! I will do anything, even move heaven and earth, to save the life of my dear mother." the actor playing Pascal pleaded.

"You must go and seek the water of life, which flows from the top of the mountain that you see from your window." the actress playing Lumina instructed. "When you have obtained this holy water, have your mother drink a little, and she will be healed."

"I will go, right now!" the actor playing Pascal enthusiastically replied, and started off stage left before a thought occurred to him. "But who will take care of my mother while I am away? What if she dies before I return?"

"Do not worry, little one." the actress playing Lumina assured her costar. "If you go to seek the water of life, your mother will need nothing before your return; she will remain exactly as she is now. But you must brave many dangers and endure many things before you gather the water of life. Great courage and great perseverance are necessary on your part."

"I fear nothing--my courage and perseverance will not fail!" the actor playing Pascal boldly declared, to some cheers. "Tell me how I shall know the water among all the other streams which cover the top of the mountain."

"When you reach the summit, the Great Lord Arceus will be waiting for you." the actress playing Lumina replied. "Inform him that I have sent you and he will give you a vial of the water of life."

"Pascal thanked Lumina heartily, bid a tearful farewell to his mother, put some bread in his pocket, and set out early the next morning." the narrator continued as the lights returned to him. "Lumina smiled at the brave boy who had vowed to climb a mountain so dangerous that none of those who had attempted it had ever reached the peak."

The orchestra started an interlude, and the actor playing Pascal paced around stage left as the narrator went on "Pascal marched towards the mountain which he found much more distant than it had appeared to him. Instead of arriving in thirty minutes as he had expected, he walked the whole day without reaching its base...."
 
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Episode 10: The Rescue Scene in the Streets


"It shouldn't be too much farther to the city of Argenreve..." Brock assured the group as the caravan rounded a bend in the road. "So named because it is a historic town with a thriving theater scene--adventure plays in the street are not uncommon, usually featuring the recurring villain Baron Rodin, or the character's female counterpart, Lady Rodine."

"More plays?" Ash smiled, memories of 'Pascal's Quest' dancing in his head. "If the play we saw back in Bigrotte was good, I can only imagine what an impromptu show in the street might look like!"

"A lot of Cielorian plays would probably be well received in Waku, with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and honor." Misty agreed before noticing the way into town was blocked off by a mystical barricade, so passing traffic would not disturb the show in progress. "It seems we've arrived while a performance of the iconic Cielorian story 'The Three Musketeers' was in progress..."

The four companions watched as on a majestic stage overlooking the large crowd, an actor in a majestic green musketeer's costume arrived on the stage, bow in hand. "Well, well, well--if it isn't my two favorite rogues of the Black Moon Guild..." he began as he approached the bandit actors. "Drop the lady's arm."

"But--!" one of the bandit actors started.

"NOW!!!" the green musketeer actor yelled, making the four companions jump and spurring the two bandit actors to flee offstage.

Applause went up from the townsfolk as the green musketeer actor looked the girl over. "Are you all right, milady?" he asked.

"I'm fine..." the girl replied as she brushed off dust from the simple lavender dress she wore. "Thank you for rescuing me, Sir Eliwood."

The green musketeer actor smiled. "You're most welcome, milady. It is a musketeer's duty to protect the innocent, after all."

"But where are Rowan of the Red Flame and Brenna of the Blue Water?" the girl asked. "It is very rare to see the Three Jewels of Kalos separated..."

"In some versions of 'The Three Musketeers', the three heroes are sometimes called 'The Three Jewels of Kalos'." Serena explained as a male actor in a red musketeer costume and an actress in a blue musketeer costume arrived onstage.

"We came as soon as we heard the Black Moons were causing trouble again, but it appears you've chased them off..." the blue musketeer actress explained.

The red musketeer actor approached the girl. "If I may ask, milady, what brings you here to Illumis?"

"I am Diana Fontaine...Nathan's daughter." the girl replied as she handed the red musketeer actor a prop letter.

The red musketeer actor carefully opened the prop letter and read the imagined text on the paper inside. "Well! This is the writing of Nathan Fontaine, the Golden Light! He did speak highly of you every time he came to court..."

"Lumiere looks beautiful at your side, Lady Diana." Misty agreed. "If you like, we can escort you to the castle."

"Please do--I'd rather not meet any more bandits!" the girl playing Diana stammered.

Laughter rippled through the city square as the orchestra started a quiet introduction. "Oh, this version is a musical!" Brock smiled as the green musketeer actor sang a beautiful melody:

This small seed of hope is in bloom...
And it reaches out towards the stars...
From a little spark from deep within the heart
Someone's love has brought you here.

We will not back down, we will not give up
We will protect you--come and take my hand!
We will fight for you, we would die for you,
As your name is known through the land.

Her Grace, she longs for you!
She would welcome you as her own
And once again, the bonds of the stars
They will bring a miracle!


Excited cheers filled the air at the orchestra's triumphant swell. "And so, Diana was escorted to Castle Lumiere for her long awaited audience with the queen." the narrator went on as the song ended. "As she waited to be admitted to the throne room, and formally made a musketeer recruit, Constance--the court wizard, appeared to take a liking to Diana..."
 
Episode 11: Meeting Dad on the Route of Magic


Serena smiled as the caravan made its way down the road, more from where they were going next than the enchanting performances that they had seen in their previous stops a few days before. "I hope we see Dad in Granmagie..."

"Granmagie is already famous for its huge magical academy, and its grand theater." Ash agreed as Serena guided the wagon to a shady clearing near the road so the Ponytas could rest.

"We all know your dad is an expert teacher, magical researcher, and speaker when he is not at court." Misty mused as she climbed out of the wagon to stretch. "I wonder if he is hosting a lecture at the academy anytime soon?"

A warm feeling near Serena spurred her to dig out the Traveler's Scroll, where glowing characters were forming. "My beloved, I cordially invite you and your companions to come to my latest lecture. I will be speaking about how Wakunese magic works, its similarities and differences to Europan magic, and magic in Wakunese life. While intended for those students taking Magic of the World this term, it is open to the public, and free of charge."

She addressed the scroll. "Where can we find you after we board the Ponytas in the inn?"

The scroll began forming another message. "I will be watching for you in the academy square--you can tell me all about your adventures so far! (and maybe review my notes, so I am giving the most accurate information as I can?)

Brock smiled at the scroll's final requests. "I'd be happy to look over your speech before you go onstage."

"We'll be there soon." Serena assured the scroll before rolling it back up and putting it away. "Are we ready to get back on the road?"

The Ponytas whinnied in reply. "I'd say the Ponytas are ready to go." Misty smiled as she gently hitched the Ponytas to the wagon again.

"Then let's go!" Ash called before scrambling back inside the wagon, allowing Misty a turn walking with the wagon...

---------

That afternoon, Serena took a moment to look around the bustling city, and the various colored robes of the academy students coming and going from the massive market near the magic academy. "That's Arcana Market, all right! Whether you need a magical quill to write notes or spells, or rare and valuable ingredients for alchemy class, Arcana Market has everything a mage might need--or want!"

Her smile turned to joy when she spotted a familiar blond haired man in an elegant gold, red, purple and green robe waving at her from the academy square. "Dad!"

"Serena! Ma dorée!" Lucien smiled as he hurried to embrace Serena.

After father and daughter had shared a long and loving hug, Lucien asked "I trust you have had a safe journey so far?"

Serena nodded. "I made good on your promise to Lord Gaudin to introduce Ash to him while we were in Deuxfleurs...we got to see the Wakunese garden and the lotuses you planted, and Brock told a beautiful Wakunese story of a faithful daughter..."

---------

In the backstage area of the academy's lecture hall, Brock carefully looked over Lucien's speech, and research notes. "Nothing inaccurate as far as I can see, and respectfully presented, too."

Lucien heaved a sigh of relief as he accepted the speech and his notes. "Thank Arceus..."

"Good luck!" Serena smiled as she watched her father confidently stroll onto the stage.

"Thank you..." Lucien smiled as the applause quieted. "If you ask someone to picture what they think of when you think of the magic of Waku, what is first to come to mind? Do they picture a brave miko, or priestess, banishing a demon with a divine charm? Do they picture a high summoner, calling on the very Legendary Pokemon themselves to judge evil?..."
 
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