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EVERYONE: Ten Nights of Martial Tales

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(Rated E10+ for fantasy violence)


Prologue: Travelers Gather at the Starry Night Inn

Snow swirled on the mountain road that led to Cold Blade Town and the nearby Wisdom Lake. The locals said that if one was lucky, the Guardian of Wisdom Uxie would answer your deepest questions. But to two travelers on the road, a supposed lake guardian Pokemon was the last thing on their minds as they battled the howling wind and swirling snow. It didn't help that the snowy sky was beginning to darken--and snowy mountain roads were no place to be at night.

"Why couldn't Wisdom Lake be somewhere warm?" a girl complained as she tried wrapping her dull gold cloak around her in a heroic effort to stay warm, only for a gust of wind to blow it free.

"This is how most sages and wise ones are--they want to be in the most remotest places to they can pursue enlightenment in peace." a black haired boy assured his companion as he too did his best to keep himself and the yellow mouse creature in his coat pocket warm. "But I can assure you our journey to Cold Blade Town and Wisdom Lake will be worth it!"

"The Snow Festival and the Temple of the High Titan had better be amazing..." the girl muttered.

She smiled when she saw the sloped roof of a building with warm lights in the window as the wind and swirling snow died down for a moment. "An inn! Finally we can get a hot meal and a bed for at least one night!"

"Most honest innkeepers will only make you pay for one night if the weather strands travelers at an inn." the boy explained as he approached a signpost covered in snow. "But some travelers do pay for the extra nights as a courtesy."

After wiping the snow from the signpost and holding his own lamp close to it, the boy smiled at what it said. "Starry Night Inn, this way."

He smiled at his companion. "Just a little bit farther, and we'll be out of the cold."

The girl nodded. "Let's go, before the wind and snow pick up again!"

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The inn didn't look too much different from any other inn in Waku, and judging from the number of people present, the girl and her companion were not the only ones on their way to Cold Blade Town for the Snow Festival. A young man in an ornate green and gold cloak that the girl assumed to be a storyteller was weaving a folktale to some captivated children, his harp melding with his powerful and gentle voice to create a world of fantasy. She couldn't make out too much of the tale, but judging from how the storyteller gave each character a unique voice, he was very gifted at his craft.

"Welcome--It's ten sen per night if you wish to stay." the innkeeper smiled as she met the girl and her companion at the front desk.

She smiled as she recognized the boy and the mouse creature. "Ah, Satoshi the Ruby Phoenix! I presume you and Serena are on your way to the Snow Festival?"

"We are, good lady...or we would be if this snowstorm hadn't blown up." Serena replied as she set her ten sen payment on the counter.

The innkeeper smiled as she accepted Serena's and Satoshi's payments. "Well, don't feel like you have to pay for the extra nights if the weather ends up making Cold Blade Pass impassible for a few days. Just this initial twenty for you both is fine."

"Thank you, good lady." Serena replied before following the innkeeper and her companion down the hall to their room...

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Later that evening, Serena returned to the common room to find Satoshi visiting with the storyteller from before. Some Raikou stripe and willow leaf designs on the storyteller's cloak reminded her that the storyteller was a friend. Oh, Takeshi-kun! He will brave any condition to perform for a festival, so it make sense he be here, on his way to the Snow Festival himself!

She glanced around the common room for a moment. But where the Emerald Raikou is, the Sapphire Dragon is not far behind...so where is Kasumi-san?

A familiar red haired warrior in an ornate blue, white and silver outfit arriving with tea made her smile. There she is...the Sapphire Dragon Kasumi!

She also recognized a familiar black haired girl in miko garb quietly meditating in a corner. Well! Hikari-san is here too! Maybe it's Arceus will that I be here with so many friends!

Her first thought was to approach Hikari and say hello, but reconsidered. It's very rude to interrupt a miko during her prayers and meditations. So I will wait until her evening prayers are complete before I say hello.

With that, she stepped out from the hallway entrance and joined Satoshi, Kasumi, and Takeshi in the room. "Forgive the intrusion! Is there room for more?"

"Of course." Takeshi made a space for Serena to sit and have tea and dinner. "I have already found Hikari here, but I will allow her to finish her evening prayers before she joins us. The only one of our group of friends I have not yet found is the lady Haruka, the Jade Beautifly."

"We do know her troupe is on its way to Cold Blade Town to perform for the festival...along with these two." Kasumi explained before motioning for a black haired girl in a teal outfit and her companion, a maroon haired boy, to come closer. "These two are Liko and Roy, two travelers from far away Paldea who have come to attempt to establish trade and diplomatic relations with the new emperor, now that His Majesty has reopened Waku to foreign visitors."

"Nice to meet you." Serena replied. "I fled to Kalusienne to escape Nobunaga, and have only recently returned...and not long after, His Majesty the king successfully formed a partnership with Emperor Divine Dragon."

"Encouraged by that success, Queen Sagita sent us here to explore this land, and meet with the Emperor ourselves, in hopes we too can partner with Waku for trade and diplomatic relations." Liko replied.

"Although we have never seen snow like this before..." Roy admitted. "You'd have to go into the northern mountains of Paldea to see snow at this scale."

"It is snowy all across Waku in the winter, but the north is especially snowy." Hikari explained as she joined the group. "I have found the lady Haruka and informed her that all of you and some guests are present."

"Forgive the intrusion!" a brown haired girl in a colorful costume smiled as she joined the group. "So these two are the travelers from Paldea Hikari-san was telling me about..."

---------

"Since we are probably not going anywhere for at least a few days...why don't we tell stories to pass the time?" Hikari suggested.

"Better yet, why not have a little contest?" Takeshi suggested. "Whoever can tell the most exciting story of martial heroes--or something in that style--over ten days, or whenever the snow lets up, will receive a prize of a thousand sen."

"Martial heroes?" Liko asked, intrigued.

"Basically a genre of stories about wandering heroes that are skilled in martial arts." Serena explained "You could say it is similar to tales like "The Three Musketeers", or the heroes of the zarzuelas."

"So instead of swords, they fight with their bare hands?" Roy asked, intrigued.

"Not always--there are often plenty of swords to be found in martial tales." Satoshi replied. "Some of them feature characters that use things you wouldn't believe could be weapons, and some characters that cast magic, just like in Europan tales."

"Unless Takeshi-san wishes to start the telling, I can start the telling so our guests have an idea of what a martial hero story is like." Kasumi offered.

"All right...Kasumi-san will start, then I will take my turn, then we will continue around the circle in an eastward direction, coming back around to Kasumi-san again." Takeshi explained. "We will try to have each person tell at least one tale each night, but if you cannot think of anything when your turn comes, you have the right and the choice to defer or pass your turn. If you defer your turn, we will come back to you if time and morale permits."

"Your proposed rules are fair, Sir Takeshi." Liko smiled. "May the best teller win!"
 
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Kasumi's First Tale: The Tale of the Seven Colored Prism (part 1)

"Now...when you are ready, Kasumi-san." Takeshi began.

Kasumi nodded, then introduced her tale. "I will begin the telling with the tale of two companions, and their quest to find a wondrous treasure before it fell into evil hands."

With that, she began. "In a place far away from here, legends were told of a mystical crystal that shone in seven colors. No one knew for sure how the crystal arrived in the mortal realm, but it was generally agreed it was a gift from the gods, with its divine power only given to the worthy. But as no noble warrior had sought it before, even the Emperor's brightest scholars did not know what it was capable of. It was this unknown that spurred those that followed evil paths to try and find the crystal, called the Seven Colored Prism..."

---------

In the Wakunese fantasy world, a young man in a colorful outfit listens as a messenger speaks. "The people's fears and worries soon reached the imperial ears of the Emperor." Kasumi narrates as a worried look forms on the black haired man's face. "Like his people, the Emperor was worried about what would happen if the Seven Colored Prism fell into evil hands."

The scene fades to a herald telling a crowd of people something. "The Emperor had it proclaimed that if anyone did find the Seven Colored Prism, that they were to bring it to the capital, where it would be kept in the imperial treasury." Kasumi narrates as the proclamation is posted all across the Waku-like world of her story. "The finder would also receive a handsome reward, as well."

The scene pauses as Liko asks "So who finally found the Seven Colored Prism?"

"I'm getting to that." Kasumi assures Liko before the scene unpauses to show various martial heroes and warlords setting off down roads. "Many tried to locate the Seven Colored Prism, but all heroes that tried returned empty handed." The heroes come trudging back some time later before the scene fades to a flower dotted path somewhere in the story's world.

A brown haired girl in an ornate green outfit with flower designs appears on the path some moments later. "My tale concerns a heroine known as Spring Dragon. She was renowned across the martial world for her skill at the twinblades, particularly the Diamond Wave Dance."

The girl smiles as a black haired girl in a red, orange and gold Beautifly inspired outfit meets her on the road. "Where Spring Dragon was, her companion Autumn Beautifly was not far behind." The two girls embrace each other, then continue down the road together. "While Spring Dragon had many friends and allies across the martial world, Autumn Beautifly was the closest and most loyal of them all. Like many in Waku, she had heard all the rumors and talk about the Seven Colored Prism, and wanted to know what her friend thought about the matter." Autumn Beautifly asks Spring Dragon the question, and Spring Dragon gives her answer as Kasumi narrates. "Spring Dragon replied that she was just as worried as everyone else about what would happen if the Seven Colored Prism fell into evil hands, but with no leads to go on, there was no chance they could find it--and every lead was worth exploring, no matter how outlandish it seemed. Autumn Beautifly suggested that the two of them pay a visit to Sage Dreaming Lotus, who lived in the Grove of Golden Blooms. If Sage Dreaming Lotus didn't know where the Seven Colored Prism was, Autumn Beautifly said, no one did."

"I'm sure the Grove of Golden Blooms looked beautiful!" Roy comments via voiceover as Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly continue down the road, which becomes a map of Waku, with their route a dotted line.

"Oh it was...it was named that name because of the many chrysanthemums and other golden flowers that bloomed there all through the year." Kasumi explains via voiceover as the scene fades to a beautiful flower grove, where Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly meet a light brown haired girl wearing a lotus inspired purple costume and a flower wreath on her head to match on the pathway leading to a humble Wakunese house decorated in flowers. "The sage met our heroines on the path leading to her humble home. There, over some tea and cakes, Spring Dragon asked the question all in Waku wondered--where was the Seven Color Prism?"

"Now I'm interested--where was this wonderful prism?" Takeshi asks via voiceover as Sage Dreaming Lotus ponders what Spring Beautifly has asked.

The sage gives her answer as Kasumi narrates "Sage Dreaming Lotus told our heroines that the Seven Color Prism lay scattered across the land in fragments--a prudent noble master had shattered it into seven pieces, then hid them in seven well guarded locations to deter the evil and the unworthy. She went on to tell them that the way to reassemble the Seven Color Prism would be a long and dangerous journey--but there was many more that would help them. Not being one to back down from a challenge, Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly agreed to undertake the quest."

Sage Dreaming Lotus smiles as Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly cheer. "Pleased at our heroines' courage, the sage revealed that the red shard was hidden inside Cheri Blossom Peak--a mountain not far from the grove." Kasumi narrates. With that, Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly depart the sage's house as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"And so, Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly departed the grove with the sage's blessings." Kasumi concluded some time later. "Little did they know that their journey would take them across Waku and beyond."

She looked at Takeshi as the others applauded. "Um, what happens if I can't finish a tale in one sitting?"

"You do not have to tell a tale all at once." Takeshi assured Kasumi and the others. "Just find a place to feasibly end a part of your tale, and you may resume where you left off when the circle comes back around to you."

"That's fair." Kasumi replied as she watched Takeshi retrieve his harp, and play a relaxed melody to compose his thoughts...
 
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Takeshi's Prologue: Introducing the Eight Spirits


"Now then..." Takeshi began as he played an expectant chord. "Before I begin my tale for tonight, a taste of Wakunese culture for our Paldean guests, so they understand the tale I am about to tell. Some of the most iconic characters in Wakunese folklore are the Eight Spirits--eight legendary martial artists so powerful, that many believed them to be gods."

"Wow!" Roy gasped.

"While no one knows for sure if they were based on real people or not, there are a few common elements to their stories and their personalities as characters." Takeshi explained before playing a long flowing chord to signal the transition from the real world to fantasy...

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"The leader of the Eight Spirits was Ruby Phoenix, the Spirit of Joy and Inspiration." Takeshi narrates as a young man that resembles an older Satoshi in a magnificent red and gold costume poses in front of flames. "He was said to be as good with a flute as he was with a sword, and his heart burned with the holy fire of courage." The young man plays a heroic phrase on an ornate flute before fading away.

"Next was Sapphire Dragon, the Spirit of Wisdom and Balance." Takeshi continues as a young woman in an ornate blue, cyan, and silver outfit with water-like designs that resembles Kasumi appears. "As a dragon-born, she knew that there was a time to attack, a time to defend, a time to charge forward with all your strength, and a time to retreat to fight another day. Many that saw her fight said that it resembled a dance, with a blade in each hand." The woman strikes a heroic pose with twinblades before a waterfall-like backdrop.

"TWO swords???" Liko gasps as the image of the woman and the waterfall fades away.

"Wouldn't all that firepower leave you vulnerable without a shield?" Roy asks.

"Not necessarily." Takeshi assures Liko and Roy as the woman and the waterfall backdrop reappear for a moment. "Twinblade users learn to defend with their blades as much as attack. That, and many twinblade styles emphasize agility, so they do have some measure of defense." The woman and the waterfall fade away over a harp chord.

With that, he continues narrating. "The third Spirit, and Sapphire Dragon's closest confidant, was Emerald Raikou, the Spirit of Strength and Courage." A young man in a beautiful green, pale green, and gold outfit that resembles Takeshi poses against a forest background. "He was very much the scholar of the group, well versed in fine arts and martial arts alike." The man plays a relaxed melody on a harp similar to Takeshi's for a moment. "But when he had to fight, he fought with the fury of a Raikou, whether with a blade or a bow." The man aims an ornate emerald decorated bow at a demon as this. "Those that saw his skill with a bow said he had never missed a shot." The man fires his shot at this, easily defeating the demon before the scene fades away.

"The fourth Spirit, and one of Ruby Phoenix's dearest friends, was Golden Delphox, the Spirit of Magical Cleverness." Takeshi continues as a young woman in a beautiful yellow and orange costume that resembles Serena strikes with a shiny golden ribbon before posing bravely against a shining gold background. "Wise as much as she was playful, she knew many different ways to turn the most well thought out plans on their heads. Battle to her was almost like a game, and she usually had something witty to say to her foe before striking them down with her ribbon of light." He lets that hang as the woman smiles, then strikes a foe in black, sending them flying.

"The fifth Spirit was Jade Beautifly, the Spirit of Happiness and Abundance." At this, a young lady wearing a beautiful pale green, lavender, and gold costume that resembles Haruka twirls beautifully before a backdrop of a field. "Never without a smile, she was a skilled dancer, delighting many with her performances." Takeshi explains. At this, a crowd appears in the field, cheering and clapping as the woman performs a beautiful dance with a fan. "But her dance was deadly to the forces of evil!" Just then, the woman spots a sneering warlord, and runs to deliver a colorful attack with her fan before the scene fades away.

"The sixth Spirit, and Jade Beautifly's closest companion, was Pearl Deerling, the Spirit of the Faithful Messenger." At this, a young woman in a ornate purple, blue, and silver outfit who resembles Hikari appears against the backdrop of a moonlit road. "Ever vigilant against evil, she knew well how to deal with the spirit realm as much as the physical realm." Takeshi explains. "Her strategies were proven to work no matter where the battle was taking place." The woman knocks away two black armored figures, then casts a holy spell to banish an evil spirit before the scene fades away.

"The seventh Spirit was Amethyst Braviary, the Spirit of Natural Wisdom." Takeshi narrates as a young woman in a purple outfit with gold trim and a flowery sash who resembles Liko jumps into view behind the backdrop of a forest. "She knew well every plant and creature in the realm--which ones were safe to eat, and which ones were best for medicine. But her mixtures could harm as well as help--particularly with enchanting her own weapon--enchanted rings that returned to her after striking their targets." With that, the woman heaves a burning ring at a gaggle of evil spirits, sending them flying before she catches the burning ring.

"Finally, the eighth spirit was Garnet Mightyena, the Spirit of the Divine Guardian." Takeshi narrates as a young man in a deep red, orange, and gold outfit that resembles Roy strikes a battle pose. "If the Deerling gave divine wisdom, the Mightyena was a divine warrior, ever ready to pass divine judgement against evil!" At this, the boy delivers a flurry of punches, sending some warriors in black flying. "But the Mightyena has a gentler side too. If someone was lost and alone, meeting Garnet Mightyena on the road was an auspicious sign indeed!"
---------
As the scene returns to the group, Takeshi intones "Having said all of this, I can now properly begin my tale..."
 
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Takeshi's First Tale: The Jeweled Palm of Crystal Mountain (part 1)

"All across Waku, the general community of martial artists is a world unto itself." Takeshi explains to his audience. "It has many names across several different lands, so for simplicity's sake, this is what I mean when I refer to 'the martial world'."

With that, he plays a long chord to signal the transition from the real world to fantasy once again...

---------

"In Waku especially, the way of the warrior is revered, and so the number of dojos--schools specifically designed for training in martial arts--numbered like sand by the sea." Takeshi explains via voiceover as hundreds, and then thousands of dojos begin popping up on a map of Waku. "In addition to the dojos, rare, valuable, and powerful manuals awaited a worthy warrior to find them. So when word got out that one of these manuals had been spotted in the wild, every warrior--noble, neutral, and evil alike--set out to find it." We see crowds of heroes streaming out of various dojos to illustrate Takeshi's point.

The scene fades to a beautiful green garden dotted in colorful flowers. "Our story begins in the Verdant Jade Grove--a sacred location that served as the Eight Spirits' base when they were not out traveling." Takeshi explains as Golden Delphox emerges onto a pathway to meet a Fletchling, which is carrying a message in its beak. "On this particular morning, Golden Delphox was on her way to tend the flowers in the Spring Bloom Garden --one of many enchanted gardens in the sacred grove--when a messenger Fletchling came to her." Golden Delphox carefully takes the message from the Fletchling and reads it over, a concerned look forming on her face all the while. "It turned out that a rare and valuable art had been located after it had been long believed to be lost--the legendary Jeweled Palm of the Crystal Mountain School. The Crystal Mountain School was a noble school had been wiped out by evil sects long before, and its teachings and treasures scattered to the wind. Finding one of these lost teachings meant that the school could be reborn--and the wielder of these lost arts could become an unstoppable force in the martial world--for good or for ill."

Golden Delphox sets the message down and thinks a moment. "Golden Delphox knew she had to inform the other Spirits that a lost art had been found--and they, as guardians of the world, needed to keep the manual containing the teachings of the Jeweled Palm out of evil hands."

"Must've been one powerful art..." Roy comments as in the story's world, the Eight Spirits pack supplies and their weapons and possessions for a potential long journey.

"Luckily, a noble school had found the lost Jeweled Palm Manual, and alerted the Spirits." Takeshi explained. "Our heroes were to take the lost manual to the peak of Crystal Mountain, and bury it deep within the old dojo's innermost sanctum--but not before mastering the art for themselves if they wished. This way, the art would not fall into evil hands, and only a worthy person with a noble heart could revive the school."

The scene fades to a beautiful water themed dojo, where the Eight Spirits meet a man in an elegant blue, cyan, and silver robe. "The Divine Mist Sect had found the Jeweled Palm Manual, and entrusted it to Sapphire Dragon for its final trip to its old home." Sapphire Dragon accepts a book with a rainbow cover from the dojo master, and places it in her bag for safekeeping. "With the manual safe in their possession, the next question was how to reach Crystal Mountain quickly, and without alerting any evil sects to the treasure they carried."

The Eight Spirits huddle for a moment as Takeshi narrates "After some discussion, the Spirits agreed to travel to Spring Dawn Town--once there, they could plan their route safely. Spring Dawn Town was a crossroads of knowledge, so many noble and noble neutral sects converged there to discuss ideas, thoughts, and theories without fear." In the story's world, Jade Beautifly points out a town on the map on the Waku that never was. The other Spirits nod in agreement before we zoom inside the map, the Spirits' route represented as a dotted line. "After an uneventful journey to town, the Spirits arrived in an inn very much like where we are." Takeshi narrates as Ruby Phoenix pays the innkeeper later that evening. "They planned their route in their room, away from any evil that could potentially be lurking in the common area."

The map of the Waku that never was appears again, with Spring Dawn Town and Crystal Mountain's sanctum clearly marked. "From Spring Dawn Town, the Spirits agreed to follow the Cheri Blossom Road until they came to Summer Mist Cliff." Takeshi explains, a dotted line showing the hypothetical route on the map as he speaks. "Going north through Summer Mist Cave and then eastward was the safer option, as the Way of the Infernal Dragon and the Way of the Savage Pyroar were two of the more notorious schools known to roam the area east of the cliff."

"I will say that going through a cave is a clever way of throwing evil off your trail." Hikari comments.

"From there, the group would travel uphill through Sunrise Pass and onward to Skyward Summit." Takeshi went on. "They would descend into Breeze Valley before going uphill again to Crystal Mountain via the Azure Sky Road." The completed map shines before returning to the Eight Spirits again. "Of course, that route would be filled with towns and other points of interest along the way." Takeshi cautions as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"...But no journey is ever without trouble, and little did the Eight Spirits know that their powers would be needed once more on the way to Crystal Mountain." Takeshi concluded. "And I will end my tale there for now."

Applause fills the inn at the conclusion of the tale's first part. "You've set up an interesting story, Sir Takeshi." Liko smiles. "I can't wait to hear what happens next!"
 
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Satoshi's First Tale: The Adventures of the Masked Phoenix (part 1)


"Okay, Satoshi-san, I believe it is your turn to tell." Takeshi smiled.

Satoshi nodded, then addressed Liko and Roy. "I'm sure that you've heard many a tale of mysterious heroes that right wrongs and triumph over evil in your homeland, right?"

"Yeah!" Liko and Roy replied at almost the same time.

Satoshi nodded. "It turns out that Waku has its share of such heroes itself. While the reason they have to hide their true identity varies from hero to hero, their goal is the same--to preserve peace and the rule of law in Waku, and its martial world."

He want on "The tale I want to tell you is actually a selection of episodes of a heroine known as the Masked Phoenix--so named for her great skill in phoenix martial arts. Some believed she was divine, as no matter what corrupt nobles and other evildoers attempted to do to her, the fire of Moltres in her heart protected her--so not even a lethal blow would kill her..."

He lets that hang as he takes his flute and plays a mysterious melody to signal the crossing from the real world into the world of fantasy...

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In the world of the story, a deep brown haired girl in an ornate red and gold outfit flees a burning dojo under cover of night. "The Masked Phoenix was actually a young lady named Riho--which can mean 'gallant phoenix' in Wakunese." Satoshi narrates as the girl races through a forest. "She had dedicated herself to studying the way of Moltres, but when the evil Wicked Rose School attacked her dojo one night, she was forced to flee."

When the girl reaches the safety of a clearing, she screams to the stars "Know this, Wicked Roses! As a phoenix brings judgement on demons, I will track you all down, and avenge my fallen friends and master!"

"That's awful..." Liko comments as the girl goes to work making something resembling a camp that can be quickly packed up if needed.

"Poor Riho..." Roy agrees as the tense night scene gives way to a sunny day with a flute flourish.

"Luckily, the Wicked Roses did not have a clue where Riho was, so she was able to spend the night in relative safety." Satoshi assures his companions. "But she was also well aware that she and any other survivors were now wanted people--and Master Black Rose and the other Wicked Roses would stop at nothing to find her, and deliver her the same horrible fate that had fallen on her master and many others in her sect."

We join Riho as she puts the finishing touches on an ornate red, orange, and gold phoenix mask. "In order to avoid detection by the Wicked Rose School, their allies, and other evildoers, Riho made herself a beautiful phoenix mask--the kind you would likely find at festivals, or the theater stage."

Riho smiles as she admires her completed mask. "There...it is done. No more am I Riho...Riho is gone, like many in my sect. Those that would do evil will tremble at my new identity--the Masked Phoenix. Riho will only return to a fellow survivor like me, or someone I deeply trust."

With that, she giggles as she puts on the mask, and ties it on so that she will not become unmasked in the heat of battle.

The scene fades to a map of a Waku that never was, with the Masked Phoenix's route represented as a red dotted line. "The Masked Phoenix did not have very far to go to find someone to rescue...the residents of Silver Wind Town were being oppressed by three bandits with the strength of fifty men." Satoshi explains. "These notorious bandits--Golden Raikou, Crimson Entei, and Azure Suicune--were robbing the people of Silver Wind Town out of house and home with their outrageous tributes. If something was not done, the people of the town would starve."

The scene fades to The Masked Phoenix meeting with the town's elder. "Who are you, young heroine? Why must you hide your face?" the elder asks, confused.

"I hide my face because like so many others, I am on the run from evil." the Masked Phoenix explains. "I will only unmask myself to those I feel I can trust."

The elder nods to show he understands. "May Arceus judge me if I or any of my people betray you--if you can help us with our own trouble, I will allow you to use the town as your new home."

The Masked Phoenix nods. "Very well...what is it that troubles you?"

"Our town is slowly being robbed blind by three notorious bandits with god-like strength--Golden Raikou, Crimson Entei, and Azure Suicune." the elder explains. "I have appealed to the Emperor and his men for help, but these three can even best a regiment of the imperial army! Who am I to think that they could overpower the Emperor's full army, and jointly rule this land with an iron fist?"

"Peace, good sir. I believe I can drive these rogues away." the Masked Phoenix assures the elder. "I have defeated much worse foes than these, so the Beasts that oppress you would be no match for the holy flame of the phoenix!"

The elder smiles. "You are a very brave young lady for singlehandedly taking on such powerful opponents. If you need supplies or information, we will do what we can to help you."

"But I am not so bold as to charge into battle with no plan or strategy--a good warrior knows their enemy, and knows them well." the Masked Phoenix replies. "Instead of battling these Beasts all at once, I will lure them away from their hideout, and challenge them one on one."

"You would likely have the best luck challenging Azure Suicune first." the elder explains. "As a fire being, Moltres should be wary of any water elemental arts, but her snow elemental skills should do no harm to you. It may be wise to have some thunder elemental support--just in case."

"A wise idea, good sir. I will ask around the noble dojos of the area, and see if any of their thunder elemental warriors would be willing to help me." the Masked Phoenix replies as the scene swirls back to the present...


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"...and so, the Masked Phoenix set out to find a thunder elemental partner for the battle ahead." Satoshi concluded some time later. "Little did she know, that defeating these notorious bandits would earn her a valuable clue about the Wicked Rose School."

Applause fills the inn as Satoshi finishes the first part of his first story. "That was actually exciting!" Liko raves as she applauds. "I can't wait to know what happens next!"

Takeshi notices that Liko is next to tell. "I am interested in what sorts of martial tales they tell in far away Paldea..."

Liko smiles. "Then allow me to share such a story from the Paldean theater..."
 
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Liko's First Tale: The Goldeen Knights


"Now then...while this tale is intended as a children's story at home, it has also been adapted to the Paldean stage, with many different versions just in Paldea alone." Liko explained. "Hear now the tale of the Goldeen Knights..."

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In the story's world, a man arrives and talks with an older man in majestic robes somewhere in a Paldea that never was. "There was once a fisherman who longed very much to have children." Liko narrates via voiceover. "So he went to the town sage, and the sage told him to catch a Goldeen, have him and his wife eat one half, and then bury the other piece of meat." We see the sage talking to the man for a moment before the scene fades to the man burying a cooked Goldeen fllet. "So the fisherman did as he was told, and thought nothing of it."

The scene fades to the man balking at a woman gently carrying two babies. "Imagine his surprise when he found his wife had given birth to two children, a boy and a girl!"

"I'm sure he was surprised!" Kasumi comments.

"On top of that, their Arcanine had two Growlithes..." Liko narrates as the man balks at an Arcanine tending to two Growlithes. "...their Rapidash had two Ponytas..." The man balks again at seeing twin Ponytas in the stables. ...and two red maple trees sprouted--one on each end of the front walk." the two trees appear with a ping in the scene of the man's house. "The children were named Rio and Maya, in remembrance of the waters the Goldeen had come from."

"Beautiful names..." Hikari comments as the scene fades to the house's front walk, where the two children are about to depart on a journey.

"The years went by, and Rio and Maya eventually came of age." Liko narrates. "They both longed to go out into the world, but their mother assured them that Rio would try his luck first, and if fortune be unkind to him, Maya would go."

"That's fair..." Satoshi comments as the scene cuts to Rio packing.

"So Rio took his Growlithe, his Ponyta, and the harp Maya had made for him, and told her that so long as the red maple trees were still red, he was alive and well." Liko narrates as Rio tells Maya this. "But if either of them wilted, he needed her help. If one of them had especially bright red leaves, that meant he had found fortune, and she was to come join him."

The scene pauses as Takeshi asks. "A harp? Like what I have?"

"Not quite--most Paldean harps have a bit of a triangle shape, and are typically set up in a room, but the portable designs resemble a circle or a wave." Liko explains before the scene resumes, revealing Rio on the road.

"Rio traveled a long way, until he came to a far away land." Liko continues as Rio asks a sage something, and the sage answers his question. "He asked the local sage about the castle, and the sage told him that the king was seeking a husband for the princess--we'll call her Celeste. Each would be suitor had to pass three trials--if he completed them, he would have Princess Celeste's hand in marriage. If he failed, he would be banished, never to return. But Rio decided to try anyway."

"This is getting interesting...then what happened?" Haruka asks as the scene fades to Rio arriving in a castle courtyard.

"The next day, Rio traveled to the castle courtyard, and started playing his harp for the servants and the ladies." Liko narrates as Rio prepares to play on a circle shaped Paldean style harp.

Inspired, Takeshi decides to play a dreamy tune on his own harp for effect. "Even Princess Celeste heard the song, and told her father about the minstrel in the courtyard." Liko narrates as we see a golden brown haired princess excitedly tell a man in royal robes something.

The scene fades to Rio bowing before the king. "The king summoned Rio before him and asked what Rio was doing there." Liko continues as Rio tells the king something. "When told that Rio sought Princess Celeste's hand in marriage, the king gave Rio his first challenge--cut a certain thick log in one stroke of a blade."

"I know a katana could easily do that, but could a Paldean sword do it?" Kasumi wonders.

In the story's world, Rio balks at the king's request. "Rio was so distraught, he didn't even feel like picking up the harp that night." Liko narrates.

The scene fades to a royal chamber later that night, where Princess Celeste arrives to comfort Rio, who is thinking hard about something. "Even Princess Celeste was concerned, and asked Rio what was wrong, as she had grown fond of him. When Rio told her what the matter was, Princess Celeste just smiled and urged Rio to play for her, and she would have an answer for him in the morning." At this, Princess Celeste gently nudges Rio's harp to him, and invites him to play.

Takeshi plays a song evoking a starry night as the starry sky in the story's world turns to a sunny morning. "The next morning, Princess Celeste told Rio she had studied much about magic and fighting, to name a few things." Liko narrates as Princess Celeste does this, then lays her hand on Rio's sword, making it glow blue. "She laid a hand on Rio's blade, making it glow blue with a spell of strength."

We see Rio easily cutting the log in the next scene. "Needless to say, Rio had no problem cutting the log!" Liko comments.

Rio balks at the king's next request. "The king then told Rio to take his Rapidash and ride for three miles with a chalice filled with water. If even a drop was spilled, the king would have his head. Rio was troubled again, so much so that he didn't even pick up the harp that night." Liko narrates.

The scene fades to Princess Celeste with Rio again that evening. "Princess Celeste grew concerned, and asked Rio what was wrong. When Rio told her his dilemma, she urged him to play for her, and she would have an answer in the morning." Liko narrates.

Takeshi plays a relaxed song to simulate the passage of time in the story's world. "The next morning, before Rio left, Princess Celeste laid a hand on the chalice and sang Rou iitsa ron selga vichii..." Liko narrates, singing herself for the gibberish spell.

"What did the spell do?" Hikari is intrigued.

"The water instantly froze to ice, thereby fulfilling the king's challenge." Liko narrates as this happens. "But the third challenge was the hardest of all--face Princess Celeste herself in a non-lethal duel in the royal arena."

She quickly interjects as Rio thinks about his third challenge "Rio was a fine swordsman in his own right, and his sword still had the strength spell on it, but he figured Princess Celeste was years ahead of him in skill."

The scene fades to the royal chamber, where Rio and Princess Celeste are talking again. "That night, Princess Celeste assured Rio that she would tell him how to defeat her in the morning if he just played the harp for her that night." Liko narrates as Princess Celeste nudges Rio's harp to him.

Takeshi plays a romantic song to simulate the passage of time--a signal that Rio and Princess Celeste are falling in love. "The next day, Princess Celeste told him that at one point during the duel, she would throw out a sapphire." Liko narrates as Princess Celeste meets Rio and tells him this. "If he cut it, she would know to hold back and let him win--as she was so skilled, it would look very much like she lost naturally."

The scene fades to Rio and Princess Celeste battling as the whole kingdom watches. "The duel commenced, and Rio did very well matching Princess Celeste step for step. In fact, for many hours, the duel was too close to call!" Liko narrates.

In the story's world, Princess Celeste heaves a sapphire into the sky. "At last, Princess Celeste threw out the sapphire, and Rio cut it to seal his victory." Liko explains as Rio does this, to the crowd's cheers. "The king didn't know that Princess Celeste had let Rio win, as it looked for all intents and purposes that Princess Celeste had lost naturally." Rio and Princess Celeste shake hands in respect at this.

The scene fades to wedding bells ringing in a beautiful Paldean shrine, and Groom Rio and Bride Celeste emerge to thousands of well wishers. "Rio and Princess Celeste were soon married, and even Maya came to join in the festivities when she saw the right maple tree glow bright red." Liko concludes. We see Maya in festive garb throwing rice onto her brother as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"They all lived happily for many years, and went on many more adventures together." Liko concludes. "But that is another story for another day!"

She smiles at Takeshi. "Thank you for providing music for my tale."

"My pleasure." Takeshi replies as he checks the tuning on some of the strings in the high octave.

"Aw..." Kasumi smiles as the group applauds. "That was a sweet tale..."

"Yes, that was interesting!" Haruka agrees. "Now that you have told me a tale from the Paldean theater, let me share a tale from the Wakunese stage..."
 
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Haruka's First Tale: The Twin Beautiflies of Sakura Mountain (part 1)


"In order to understand this story, you have to remember that not all heroes of the martial world take titles of powerful Pokemon, or of weapons and powerful items." Haruka explains to the others. "Sometimes the greatest heroes of all are hidden behind a beautiful sounding name, and the fiercest warriors have a peaceful Pokemon or lovely concept as their title."

"That makes sense--the martial world is as colorful as it is filled with many a warrior." Takeshi agrees.

"As is the case in many tales of heroes of martial arts, my tale begins with turmoil in the martial world..." Haruka begins as the scene swirls into fantasy...

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In the story's world, people flee with their families and what belongings they can carry as warriors in garb that evokes Murkrows set fire to a village. "The Shadow Murkrow Sect was causing terror across the martial world, breaking any and every law they could, and often burning entire towns to the ground." Haruka narrates via voiceover as one of the black clad warriors sets fire to another house, forcing the family inside to flee.

"So where was the Emperor in all this?" Hikari wonders as the scene changes to the imperial palace in the Waku-like world, where the Emperor sighs in frustration as a minister delivers the report of the attack.

"The local magistrates and the imperial army did their best to restore order after the Shadow Murkrows attacked, but just when they tried to pick up the pieces of one attack, three more villages would be attacked--and sometimes in the same day." Haruka narrates as the Emperor listens patiently to the minister's report. "The Emperor and the Empress knew well of their people's suffering, but they were also well aware of how strong the Shadow Murkrows were--and they feared the Shadow Murkrows would wipe out the entire imperial army if given the chance.

Just then, an idea occurs to the Emperor. "As the Emperor listened to the report on the latest attack, he remembered an old prophecy of hope the imperial oracle had foretold..." Haruka narrates.

As soon as the minister departs, the Emperor snaps, sending a messenger to find someone. A lady in a beautiful star pattern costume arrives some moments later. "Upon the day the sky is colored brightly, a victory shall mark the toppling of leaders that have forgotten the noble way of heaven, and lead our land into an age of peace and plenty." Haruka narrates, filling in the oracle's voice.

The Emperor asks the oracle a question as Haruka narrates "The Emperor asked the oracle if she knew what kind of victory would fulfill the prophecy. The oracle replied that in her latest vision, she saw two Beautiflies fly down from the far away Sakura Mountain, and strike down a Honchkrow." The oracle tells the Emperor this, which makes him smile with approval. "Although he didn't understand the meaning of the oracle's vision in the moment, the Emperor trusted her wisdom, and that the oracle's vision would reveal its meaning in due time."

The scene shifts from the imperial capital to a beautiful town filled with Cheri blossoms, with a majestic pink mountain in the distance. "What the Emperor did not know was that the two Beautiflies in the oracle's vision were not two literal Beautiflies, but two sisters who made their keep as actresses, like me." Haruka narrates as we see an auburn haired girl in a red warrior's costume saying something on a stage, making a gathered crowd laugh at the humorous line. "Their titles were Scarlet Beautifly, and Violet Beautifly." Haruka explains as a black haired girl with a purple streak in her hair wearing a similar looking purple costume arrives onstage, apparently in the role of the hero's companion. "Even though they were good actors on the stage, they were equally capable warriors off of it, as well." The gathered crowd applauds as the two sisters give the triumphant final line of Act 1, prompting the orchestra to play an exciting interlude as the stage ninjas work to get the set ready for Act 2.

The scene fades to the two sisters--now in everyday Wakunese clothes--studying the town notice board a day or two later, where they see an order from the Emperor. "One day, on a day their troupe was not performing, the two sisters saw an order from the Emperor--anyone that could bring the Shadow Murkrows to justice would be handsomely rewarded." Haruka narrates as Scarlet Beautifly tells her sister something. Violet Beautifly nods in agreement before the two sisters depart. "Our heroines had heard every rumor about the Shadow Murkrows, and how many a village and town had been burned. Their hometown was large enough to host a branch of the imperial library, so the sisters agreed to start there in learning about the Shadow Murkrow Sect. What books couldn't tell them, they could ask the Sage of Sakura Mountain about."

We fade to the sisters reading over various books, manuals, and scrolls in the town library some time later. "The trip to the town library proved fruitful--the imperial watchlist of rogue sects and schools had plenty of information about the Shadow Murkrows." Haruka narrates before Violet Beautifly spots something intriguing in a book, and invites her sister to see a certain paragraph. "As she looked through the various accounts of attacks the Shadow Murkrows had committed, Violet Beautifly noticed that all the attacks followed a pattern--in every village and town that was attacked, a dojo of a noble sect was present--dojos of neutral sects and fellow evil sects were left alone." Haruka narrates as Violet Beautifly tells her sister this. Scarlet Beautifly nods, and tells her sister something as Haruka continues "Scarlet Beautifly agreed that a noble sect likely had something the Shadow Murkrows wanted--but she didn't know what they were seeking. That was a question for the Sage of Sakura Mountain to answer. The sisters agreed to visit the sage the next morning." The sisters link pinkies as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"...but little did the sisters know that they would be going on an adventure worthy of ten plays, and fulfill the oracle's prophecy." Haruka concludes the first part of her tale. "I will end my tale there for now."

Hikari leads the applause. "No matter how many times you tell a tale based on a play, Haruka-san, they are as thrilling as actually seeing it unfold onstage!"

She turns business-like again. "For my first tale of the evening, I want to tell an episode from the travels of the warrior-miko Kanade..."
 
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Hikari's First Tale: Kanade and the River Demon


"You all know that Kanade was one of the most famous mikos and heroines to serve the Great Lord Arceus." Hikari begins her first tale, acknowledging some new arrivals in the common room with a nod.

Many in the crowd nod in agreement as she goes on "But the one thing that pained her the most was the pain, suffering, and death which humankind was apparently doomed to endure. It didn't matter who you were--the greatest sage with great virtue and millions of teachings, a righteous or an evil person, or even a mere child--everyone suffered from one thing or another."

She quickly assures the antsy crowd "But this was why Kanade and millions of other priests and mikos devoted themselves to Arceus--to at least ease the suffering of the world, if not end it outright."

Some quiet applause goes up in agreement. "Now, Kanade's devotion to Arceus was so great, he commanded two divine spirits to travel with her and help her battle against evil spirits." Hikari explains. "A water dragon named Mizuchi, and a phoenix named Fushi...."

---------

In the world of Hikari's story, we see glimpses of a miko that resembles Hikari, a blue dragon gijinka, and a male phoenix gijinka on various adventures as we see their route on a fantastic map. "So one day, Kanade took it upon herself to travel across what is now Kanto, driving out monsters and helping people with their troubles on the way." Hikari narrates over the scenes of adventures and the dotted line representing the route her characters are traveling. "With MIzuchi and Fushi by her side, they endured many weeks of traveling over high mountains, deep valleys, and boiling hot deserts, to name a few places."

The map fades to a scene of Kanade, Mizuchi, and Fushi approaching a large river. "They arrived one evening on the shores of a great river, just as the sun was setting." Hikari narrates.

Kanade looks out at the fading sunlight on the majestic river. "Such a huge river...there is water as far as I can see." she muses.

Mizuchi looks around the shore. "I don't see a boat, or a raft, or any other way to cross it, unless you want to swim!"

"Well, I have wings, so I could fly across!" Fushi grins, much to Mizuchi's annoyance.

"The bigger question is where we are going to spend the night--there is no sign of any civilization anywhere." Kanade calms the spirits.

Just then, Fushi snaps to attention at a festive melody in the distance. "Hear that?"

"Music!" Mizuchi cries. "Where there's music, there has to be a festival, or a theater troupe, or something else fun!"

"They followed the festive melody to a village nestled on the hillside, and a small temple standing on the edge of the river." Hikari narrates as Kanade and her companions arrive at a large house. "They made their way to the elder's house, which was larger than all the other houses in the village. The elder came out to meet them, and welcomed Kanade and her companions like old friends." At this, an old man in a beautiful outfit emerges from the house, and escorts Kanade and her companions inside. "When Kanade asked whether they could stay for the night, he assured them that there was plenty of room for them in the house, and that he gladly welcomed them to stay for as long as they needed. He also invited them to enjoy the grand meal he had prepared for the festival that night."

The scene fades to Kanade, Fushi, Mizuchi, and the elder visiting over what remains of a large meal. "After they had finished their dinner, Kanade talked to the elder for a while. While she was very pleased with his courtesy and with the great hospitality he had shown them, she noticed that he looked very glum, and wondered if something was weighing on his heart." Hikari explains via voiceover.

"May I ask why the people gather here tonight? I know of no festival falling on this date, so I thought I would ask why you were celebrating." Kanade asks.

"We are not celebrating anything," the elder sighs. "It was really a funeral service for two of my grandchildren, who, though they are not yet dead, will be called to the heavens before too long."

"But how can such a ceremony be performed over people who are still alive?" Kanade asks.

"You must know that this region is under the control of a cruel demon." the elder explains. "Every year, he demands two children, a boy and a girl, to eat. Many attempts have been made to resist this horrific demand, but they have only resulted in increased suffering to those who have dared to oppose him. Because of this, the woeful cycle continues, and many a heart is broken at the loss of those dearest to them."

"But is there any way to know when this terrible sacrifice is going to be demanded?" Kanade asks, a note of concern in her voice.

"The demon appears in the chosen house a few days before, and demands to have the victims ready on a specified date." the elder replies. "Only the day before yesterday, this summons came to us to have our children ready by tomorrow morning at dawn. That is why we had a feast today, and performed the funeral rites for the dead, so that their spirits may not be held under the control of this merciless demon, but delivered to the Great Lord's care in heaven."

"But what is the demon like?" Kanade asks.

"No one knows for sure what he is like," the elder cautions. "He has no form that one can see. His presence is known by a strong gust of wind which fills the place with a peculiar smell, and with an influence so subtle that you feel yourself within the grip of a powerful force, and instinctively bow as though you were in the presence of a being who could destroy you in a moment if it wanted to."

"One more question, good sir..." Kanade asks. "Where did this demon come from, and how that he has grown so strong enough to defy even heaven itself, with the Great Lord Arceus and all the Legendaries that watch over us all?"

"This demon was filled with evil intentions and fiendish instincts from the very beginning." the elder replies. "He took the first opportunity he could to escape to the earth, and took up residence in the grottoes and caverns that lie deep down beneath the waters of the river. Other spirits almost as evil as him have also reside there, and they combine their forces to bring calamity and disaster upon the people of this region."

The tense scene pauses as Liko asks via voiceover "So, how could such a demon be defeated?"

"Now, Kanade cherished all living things, but she grew very angry when she thought of how many innocent children had been sacrificed to appease the depraved demon." Hikari narrates as Kanade angrily grimaces. "Fushi and Mizuchi were just as mad, and they began to discuss how to save the elder's grandchildren, and at the same time slay the demon so no one would ever have to sacrifice a child again."

"Everyone, huddle!" Mizuchi calls. "We're going to save the elder's grandchildren! This way, no one will cry at losing a son or a daughter anymore!"

"All right, how do you plan to do this?" Kanade asks.

"Let me play the boy, and Mizuchi play the girl, and together we will fight the demon and kill him, and so deliver the people from his dreadful tyranny." Fushi suggests.

Mizuchi motions to the elder. "Bring the children here so that we may see them, and make our plans so perfect that the demon won't know what hit him."

"The elder agreed, and brought in the boy and the girl--both of them about seven or eight years old." Hikari narrates as this happens. "Fushi first laid a hand on the boy, and sang..."

Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... Satoshi fills in the song.

"Fushi transformed into an exact duplicate of the boy in a flash of light." Hikari narrates as a red flash reveals Fushi as an exact copy of the boy. "Then, Mizuchi laid a hand on the girl, and sang..."

As Mizuchi, Kasumi sings Karuto, iichiida shou...

"Kanade instructed the elder to take the real children and hide them in the remotest and most inaccessible room in the house, lest someone see them or the demon discover their plot." Hikari narrates as Kanade does this.

"And then?" Roy asks via voiceover as the night sky in the story's world starts to brighten.

"Just as the eastern sky showed the first light of dawn, two platforms were brought up to the door to carry the two children away." Hikari intones via voiceover as this happens. "A few frightened neighbors peered through the gloom to catch a last glimpse of the children, but not one of them had the slightest clue that the boy and girl were really a dragon and phoenix who were about to wage a fierce battle with the demon in order to deliver them from the curse they lived under."

More excited chatter fills the common room at the impending battle. "No sooner had the children been left at the temple, where a small torch served as the only light, and the doors had been closed with a thud, did the priests rush away, fearing for their lives." Hikari goes on as this happens in the story's world. "Some moments later, a hideous, gigantic form emerged from an inner room and crept towards the children. The demon was surprised, however, to find that the children did not exhibit any signs of alarm, as had all the other children that had been sacrificed, but seemed to be calmly awaiting his approach. There was no sign of fear about them, and they did not cry in terror; but looked on him with a courageous glance as he advanced."

The demon gasps as Fushi and Mizuki reveal their true forms--Fushi is armed with a shining red, orange and gold sword, and Mizuchi is armed with a pair of blue, silver and white twin swords. "Imagine the demon's surprise when he saw the two children become their true forms--a phoenix and a dragon!" Hikari narrates. Though the demon knew his judgement was close, he drew a black, jagged sword and charged at Fushi and Mizuchi!"

Fushi and Mizuchi brace themselves for battle as the demon does this. "Fushi and Mizuchi were more then ready for battle, and with their magic fully charged and with hearts made strong by the power of the Great Lord, they awaited the demon's attack."

"HAAAH!!!!" Fushi cries as he leads the charge to battle!

A dust cloud tinged with shadow energy, fire, water, and snow rolls around the room for a few moments. "Must've been one fierce battle!" Haruka comments via voiceover.

"Oh, it was...but in the end, Fushi and Mizuchi emerged victorious!" Hikari narrates as the dust cloud clears to reveal Fushi and Mizuchi standing over the battered and beaten swirly eyed demon.

"You can imagine the celebration when Fushi and Mizuchi returned to tell Kanade about their victory." Hikari continues as Fushi and Mizuchi return to Kanade, to cheers from the townsfolk. "Kanade was hailed as a hero, and Fushi and Mizuchi were showered with praise for what they had done as the village held its first real celebration in what had seemed like years." We see Kanade, Fushi, and Mizuchi being cheered as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"But when the party was over, Kanade, Fushi, and Mizuchi thanked the villagers again, and continued on their journey--but what happened next is another story for another day!" Hikari concludes.

The crowd roars as Hikari takes a bow for her audience...
 
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Serena's First Tale: The Mystic Song of the Light God (part 1)


"Okay..." Serena begins as the applause for Hikari's tale quiets. "For my first tale, I want to tell you a Kalosian story that I have re-imagined for a Wakunese audience. The original tale is called 'The Prince's Spellsong', but in my version, he is a mystic powerful enough to be called a god."

Awed murmurs fill the common room as the scene swirls into the world of fantasy....

---------

"Once there lived an emperor and empress of a far away land who had a daughter they loved very much." Serena begins via voiceover as we look in on a beautiful Wakunese castle, where a black haired girl is meeting guests of an ornately dressed man and an ornately dressed woman with similar features. She was so deeply loved that she was named Hikari, which means "light". Her parents loved her so much, they would rather lose everything they owned than see Hikari-hime unhappy.

The scene fades to the imperial tailors presenting Hikari with a beautiful green and gold robe. "Every day, the empress gave Hikari-hime a fine robe, a colorful kimono, or something equally valuable." Serena explains as we next see some servants offering Hikari a menu with ancient Wakunese text. "When she was hungry she had the choicest meats and vegetables, and bowls full of all manner of sweet fruits and other treats." Hikari informs the imperial cook of her choice for her first course.

The scene shows throngs of ancient Wakunese people clamboring to see Hikari, and her giving them a smile, a polite nod, or a greeting as she continues down a road. "Hikari-hime was well loved and well liked in all the land, and everybody said she was the happiest princess in the world."

An ominous vina chord and shuddering bansi note heralds the appearance of an old woman in predominantly blace Wakunese robes. "Now, in this land's court was a very rich old lady whose name was Ichiwaka-jou, for she saw herself an empress." Serena intones via voiceover. "She was infamous for her hair trigger temper, and her hair, now icy white, had once been tinged red like fire, and she had piercing green eyes that many said could see into your soul!"

The bansi blasts a loud scream-like note, but Serena is not done yet describing her story's villain. "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."

"Oh, gross!" Satoshi comments via voiceover as we see Ichiwaka-jou stomping around a palace in frustration.

"She could not bear to hear everyone saying how pretty and how charming Hikari-hime was." Serena continues via voiceover. "If anyone happened to mention the charming princess, she would loudly proclaim that she had more beauty in her pinky finger than Hikari-hime had in her whole body."

"I'm kinda glad Ichiwaka-jou lives only in your imagination, Serena-san..." Kasumi comments as we see a "Time Passes" card, which reveals the Wakunese castle draped in mourning banners.

"The years went by, until one day, to the great grief of the realm, the empress caught a horrible disease and died, despite the healer's best efforts." Serena sighs as we watch the funeral rites in the imperial temple for a moment before fading to the emperor in his chambers. "The emperor became so depressed that he locked himself up in his room and didn't come out for a year." Serena explains as we see another "Time Passes" card. "The royal healers, fearing that he too would get sick, told him to go out and have some fun."

The scene fades to an imperial hunting party riding through a Wakunese forest. "So a hunting party was assembled, but as it was very hot that day, the emperor soon got tired, and decided to rest at a castle they were passing by." At this, the emperor wipes his brow before spotting another Wakunese castle.

Serena interjects "The emperor didn't know that this particular castle happened to be Ichiwaka-jou's castle."

"Boo"s fill the air as Ichiwaka-jou meets the emperor at the castle's gate. "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." Serena narrates as Ichiwaka-jou leads the emperor down to the cellar. "So down they went together, and the emperor 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. Ichiwaka-jou replied that the massive amount of wine was for herself alone, but she would be happy to let the emperor have some of it."

In the story's world, the emperor points out one of the casks. "So after the king told Ichiwaka-jou what kind of wine he wanted, he was stunned when gems came from the barrel instead of wine." Serena narrates as the emperor balks at a rain of jewels coming out of the barrel. "Gold came out of a second barrel, and silver from a third."

Ichiwaka-jou protests as Serena narrates. "Ichiwaka-jou insisted she didn't have a clue as to how all the riches got there, but the emperor didn't buy her story one bit. Ichiwaka-jou finally came clean, and said they were all filled with gold, silver, and jewels, and offered to marry the king right then."

Surprised gasps go up at the turn of events, but the emperor in the story's world nods yes to Ichiwaka-jou's proposal. "The king agreed, under the condition that Ichiwaka-jou could do as she pleased with Hikari-hime." Serena intones.

"I have a bad feeling about this..." Even Takeshi worries as we see Hikari-hime balk at the news.

"Understandably, Hikari-hime was horrified at the news of her father marrying Ichiwaka-jou, but reluctantly got ready to go visit Ichiwaka-jou's castle." Serena narrates as Hikari-hime asks her maid something. "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, Hikari-hime 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."

The scene fades to Hikari in a forest. "While Hikari-hime 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." Serena narrates as Hikari does this, but starting to cry after a few tense seconds. "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 young man in a golden robe standing before her."

Hikari balks as she sees the young man, which resembles Takeshi. "When Charissa looked at him, he said to her..." Serena narrates.

"Hime-sama, the emperor awaits you." Takeshi fills in the young man's dialogue.

"How long have you been in my father's service?" Serena fills in Hikari's dialogue The two continue as their respective characters:

"I am not in the service of the emperor, hime-sama, but in yours."

"In mine? Then how is it that I have never seen you before?"

"Ah, hime-sama! I have never before dared to present myself to you, but now the emperor'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 Yuuji, of whose exploits 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."

"Yuuji! The one known as the Light God in the martial world? 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 lady any more."

With that, Yuuji and Hikari hurry back to the palace as the scene swirls back to the present...


---------

"...So they went back to the palace together." Serena concludes. "But Hikari's trials were only beginning!"

Applause fills the common room as Roy thinks of a tale to finish the circle's first rotation...
 
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Roy's First Tale: The Three Ladies (part 1)


"I'll wind up this first rotation with a tale I learned while I was in Paldea, after I fled Nobunaga and he closed up Waku." Roy explained. "I'll do my best to tell it in such a way you guys understand, okay?"

"That's fine--all that we ask is that you make the effort to try." Takeshi assures Roy.

"Okay then...I call this 'The Three Ladies'." Roy begins as we enter fantasyland once again...

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"There was once an emperor somewhere in the world that had three beautiful daughters, who were so beautiful that many people said they were goddesses." Roy narrates via voiceover as we see a crowd of people with heart eyes as three girls--one in fire print Wakunese robes, one with snow print robes, and one with lightning print robes, come out to greet the crowd. "The emperor thought that they wouldn't marry just anyone, but someone that did some great deed of valor."

The emperor snaps, summoning an array of workers, who huddle as they and the emperor discuss something. "So he called together every carpenter, mason, and other workers in the land. and made them build a huge castle, so high that it seemed to reach up to heaven." Roy narrates as the castle he described appears on a hill with a ping. "Next, he called the imperial mystics and made them enchant it so that no one could even see the princesses without the emperor's okay." At this, a circle of mystics make the castle disappear.

"Just to be sure nobody could get in, the mystics conjured the three Beasts to guard the door." Roy narrates as the mystics conjure Raikou, Entei, and Suicune before the invisible door.

The scene fades to a herald making an announcement to a crowd. "The emperor sent heralds far and wide to proclaim that anyone who could make their way into the castle would have one of his daughters in marriage." Roy narrates as many a hero from across the fantastic Pokeworld set out. "Many were the heroes who came to try their luck. But whoever didn't run away from the Beasts first, came back empty handed. Sure enough, the heroes come trudging back as the scene fades to the imperial throne room, where three boys bow before the emperor in respect.

"Among all these heroes came three brothers from Paldea." Roy narrates via voiceover. "Though they didn't have much property, they were of noble birth, with noble hearts to match. As soon as they heard about the three princesses in the invisible tower, they decided to try their luck too."

As the camera pans across the scene of the boys, two X's appear over the eldest brother and the middle brother. "The names of the eldest and the middle brother are not important to this story, but we'll call the youngest one Diego." Roy explains as an O appears around the youngest brother.

The eldest brother says something to the emperor as Roy narrates "They told the emperor why they had come, and the emperor promised that he would give them anything they needed for the challenge.

The scene pauses as Roy explains "Now, normally in a story like this, the two elder brothers would fail spectacularly at the task, do something horrible to the youngest brother that succeeded, only to have the youngest brother eventually triumph in the end. But I'm gonna take a slightly different approach to the tale--what if the three brothers were all noble, inside of the little one getting all the glory?"

"Great idea!" Liko suggests as the scene resumes.

"Diego may have been young, but he was very wise for his age." Roy explains as the youngest brother tells the emperor something. "He told the emperor that all they wanted was a wagon and two Tauros to pull it, enough supplies for at least a week, a very, VERY long rope, some equally long nails, and a powerful hammer. The two elder brothers were initially confused by Diego's request, but Diego assured his brothers that he had a plan."

The scene fades to the three brothers arriving at the hill with their wagon pulled by two black Tauros and all their supplies. "After a day or two of uneventful travel, they came to the hill where the castle stood." Roy narrates. "The two elder brothers were confused as to how they were gonna get inside--it was ten times as high as they thought; it had neither door nor window, nor the smallest gap of any kind in the massive walls. But Diego assured his brothers that if they did everything that he said to do, they would succeed in the challenge, and come home with a worthy bride for each of them."

The scene fades to the three brothers working to build a makeshift elevator-like device. "They built a makeshift pulley that would take about two people to the top of the castle." Roy explains as the middle brother asks Diego something, only for Diego to nod and explain something to the eldest brother. "They agreed that they would take turns braving the castle's dangers, with the eldest brother going first. He took a piece of glass with him, to signal with in case something went wrong, he needed help, or he had successfully rescued one of the princesses. We see the eldest brother being hoisted to the top of the castle as the scene fades back to the present...


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"So what dangers awaited the eldest brother in the enchanted castle? I will tell you more on my next turn!" Roy smiles as the crowd applauds...
 
Kasumi's First Tale: The Tale of the Seven Colored Prism (part 2)


After taking a moment to stretch, the storytelling continued as the inn's cook staff began to serve dinner for the night. "All right, Kasumi-san...you may continue your tale when you are ready." Takeshi began.

Kasumi nodded, then resumed her story. "Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly departed the sage's house in high spirits. But the way to Cheri Blossom Peak, while short, was not an easy one..."

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In the story's world, Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly arrive in a town somewhere, where they are welcomed joyfully by the townsfolk. "They came to a town not far from the peak, where they were told that a warlord was imposing harsh taxes, leaving the most basic of necessities unaffordable." Kasumi narrates as the town's elder tells Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly this. "If something was not done, many of the townsfolk would starve."

"That's awful!" Liko gasps via voiceover as Spring Dragon tells the elder something.

"While it was--and still is--a common occurrence for less than noble warlords to do this, Spring Dragon learned that the warlord--who does not deserve to be named--was taking advantage of local lore to make the people suffer." Kasumi narrates. "Like many places in this world, the people believed that there were tengu--bird-like goblins with distinctive long noses--that lived in the mountains. The great majority of them were friendly guardians of mountains, or didn't wish to interact with humans at all. But a few did wish to harm humans--and it was lore about these tengu the warlord was taking advantage of to harm the people. He claimed that the high taxes were for defending the town from the tengu--but the people knew that the tengu only bothered them if they were bothered first. This was why the people of the village were very careful not to venture into the mountains on certain dates, out of respect for the tengu. Cheri Blossom Peak itself had some resident tengu, but they were friendly ones, and looked after the towns surrounding the peak."

"I'm sure they didn't take too kindly to a warlord using their legend to harm the people." Satoshi comments via voiceover as the scene cuts to Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly in a shrine.

"Autumn Beautifly asked the town miko if it was a favorable day to visit the tengu that looked after the town." Kasumi narrates as Autumn Beautifly asks the miko this. "Fortunately, it was a good day to visit the tengu who looked after Cheri Blossom Peak--I will call him Matori. Like many humans, he had food he liked and disliked--and Matori's favorite food was Pecha Berries."

The scene fades to Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly making their way to a mountain cave, where a large tengu in majestic robes is peacefully meditating by the entrance. "So our heroines made their way up the peak, and after offering some Pecha Berries, Spring Dragon told Matori what was going on in the town." Kasumi narrates via voiceover as Spring Dragon talks to the beautiful tengu. "It turned out that Matori was well aware of the people's suffering--and if they helped him pass judgement on the warlord, he would allow them to take the red shard of the Seven Colored Prism as a reward." She lets this hang as Matori tells Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly this.

In Matori's cave, the girls listen as Matori goes over his plan. "Matori invited our heroines into his cave, and explained to them that as good as their sword skills were, they would have no chance against a skilled warlord." Kasumi narrates. "So it was better to attack using arrows, or magic. While Autumn Beautifly had some bow skills, Spring Dragon did not. So Matori first taught Spring Dragon how to use archery, for those times when melee combat was not possible."

The scene shifts to Spring Dragon firing a green fletched arrow from a training bow, where it lands near the bullseye of a makeshift target. "Spring Dragon proved a diligent student." Kasumi narrates as Matori smiles in approval at Spring Dragon's shot, then tells her something before sending her arrow back to her in a gust of wind. "Before long, she could match her companion in skill." Just then, Autumn Beautifly arrives on the overlook, just in time to see Spring Dragon hit the target's bullseye! Matori applauds happily, then reminds Spring Dragon of proper technique before inviting Autumn Beautifly to the archery range. "Of course, Matori trained Autumn Beautifly too--until they were both as good with a bow as they were with their blades." Kasumi narrates as Autumn Beautifly fires a shot that lands on the bullseye."

The scene fades to Matori's cave a few days later, where Matori presents a pair of enchanted bows with matching arrows to Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly. "As a reward for their diligent training, Matori gave our heroines each a magical bow." Kasumi narrates. "The day for Matori's planned judgement had come, so with the girls in tow, Matori used his wind magic to warp the three of them to the castle where the warlord lived. Matori chants something an nonsense Wakunese, creating a shining wind gust before he, Spring Dragon, and Autumn Beautifly disappear!

The girls and their tengu ally materialize before the castle some seconds later. "Upon arrival at the castle, Matori instructed the girls to find any noble members of the family, plus all the food and wealth the warlord had hoarded, and bring them out, so they wouldn't be harmed by the massive earthquake that Matori was about to create." Kasumi narrates. "So once all the noble members of the warlord's family were safe, and all the food and wealth the warlord had horded in Matori's cave for safekeeping, Matori unleashed a mighty punch to the ground, making the castle crumble into dust."

"So something like my World Shaking Fist, but much stronger..." Takeshi muses as Matori punches the ground, making the massive castle crumble.

"Something like that..." Kasumi agrees as the townsfolk cheer as Matori and the girls bring back the stolen food and wealth. "The people were elated that their guardian had heard them, and thanked our heroines for their help." We see the townsfolk thanking the girls as the scene fades back to the present...


---------

"Spring Dragon and Autumn Beautifly thanked Matori for the archery training, but the tengu had one last clue for our heroines--where the orange shard of the Seven Colored Prism was." Kasumi concluded. "To find it, they would need the help of the Noble Raikou, Gekigami...but what they did up in the heavens, I will tell you on my next turn."
 
Y'know, I think this might be my favorite of your works so far. I don't know how to explain it very well, but the story and characters are all really creative and unique, and I can't wait to see more :)
 
@Catz

Takeshi's First Tale: The Jeweled Palm of Crystal Mountain (part 2)


"Our heroes departed Spring Dawn Town in high spirits the next morning." Takeshi began as he played a relaxed melody to compose his thoughts. "Their first stop on the Cheri Blossom Road was the Waterfall Valley--so named because of the many waterfalls and rivers that flowed from the nearby mountains..."

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In the story's world, Amethyst Braviary consults a map as the Eight Spirits stop to camp by a road covered in falling Cheri blossoms. "Amethyst Braviary knew much of the world, and explained to the others that the valley, its rivers, and its lakes, were home to the mizusei--spirits of water that resembled beautiful ladies. They typically wore robes that flowed like water, and sang beautiful songs to the accompaniment of the vina, the moji, or the kanegen."

The scene pauses as Liko asks "What is the moji and the kanegen?"

"The moji is a Wakunese lute that is a distant ancestor to the Western guitar." Serena explained. "Likewise, the kanegen is an instrument that shares many similarities to the Western mandolin."

The scene resumes as Takeshi continues. "For the most part, the mizusei were seen as the guardian goddesses of the many rivers and lakes. But there were some that told tales of people that met an unfortunate fate thanks to the mizusei's song. It was for this reason that Amethyst Braviary cautioned the other spirits to treat any mizusei they encountered with the highest respect."

Just then, Golden Delphox is snapped to attention by a beautiful song. "According to the people of the valley, one could tell a mizusei was close by if you heard a hauntingly beautiful voice--and that for better or worse, if a mizusei told you to do something in its song, you had to do it, like it or not." Takeshi explains as a black haired lady in a flowing blue, gold, and white robe that resembles water appears on the water of a lake, near where the Spirits are camped.

He next started playing a flowing melody that evoked water. "As the Spirits listened intently to the mizusei that had appeared to them, she told them the following in her holy song...

With that, he sings Hail, Eight Spirits of heaven!
Heed the people's cry for aid!
A warlord here has forgotten his orders
As he seeks a precious jade!

So blinded by his folly,
And to fund his foolish quest.
He has taxed the people out of houses and home,
And their workers know no rest!

The Eight Spirits huddle for a moment. "After deciding that Sapphire Dragon would speak on their behalf, the Eight Spirits asked the mizusei about the treasure the greedy warlord sought." Takeshi narrates as in the story's world, Sapphire Dragon asks the lady something. "But she only sang this in reply..."

He sings as the mizusei again Alas, I have no more to tell you,
You would do well to learn more in town...
For this warlord has his sights on the capital,
His goal, an imperial crown!"

The mizusei disappears in a cloud of mist as Takeshi continues as himself. "Luckily, the town of Funado--a fishing town--was near the lake. "When the Eight Spirits arrived in the town, it was as the mizusei said--the prices of the most basic of goods were outrageous..." Amethyst Braviary balks at the price tag on a bag of rice to emphasize Takeshi's point. "...and so many of the people were going hungry. Even the fishermen of the town were getting very little money for their catches, because so much of their earnings went towards taxes."

The scene fades to the Eight Spirits talking with the town's mayor. "The mayor of Funado told Ruby Phoenix that the warlord that oppressed him was named Sadanaka. He had arrived in the area in search of a divine jade necklace known as the Angel Tempest. If invoked, the Angel Tempest could create holy tornadoes. But Sadanaka plotted to abuse this holy power--his plan was to go town to town, and absorb them under his banner. If any opposed him, they would be blown off the map by whirlwind!"

"So, had Sadanaka found this treasure yet?" Roy worries via voiceover as Garnet Mightyena says something to the mayor in the story's world.

"Luckily, Sadanaka and his men had not found the Angel Tempest yet." Takeshi replies. "This was because it was well hidden in a temple high atop one of the mountains that ringed Waterfall Valley. If climbing the mountain wasn't hard enough, the temple was well guarded by all manner of guardians and traps."

Emerald Raikou asks the mayor something as Takeshi continues. "Emerald Raikou remembered the mizusei's song--and his heart sank when he imagined the very real possibility that Sadanaka could proclaim himself Emperor, and rule all of Waku with an iron fist. So he asked the mayor what he knew about where the Angel Tempest was hidden."

The mayor says something to Emerald Raikou in reply. "The mayor explained that the Angel Tempest lay in the Temple of the Angel atop Bright Wing Mountain, on the western edge of the valley--and not far from where they had entered the valley." He lets that hang as the scene swirls back to the present...


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"...but when it came to the dangers meant to deter the unworthy, the mayor told the Eight Spirits to talk to the local miko before descending into the temple." Takeshi concluded. "But what these dangers were, and how the Eight Spirits planned to overcome them, I will tell you on my next turn."
 
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