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EVERYONE: The Shimmering Companion (vignettes, sidestories, and extras to the main theater-verse)

Episode 41: Chambers and Charizards Live Onstage


"Nestled between massive boulders, a small, oblong pool glimmers brightly despite the gray clouds above." Brock reads over some peaceful ambiance playing over the theater's sound system. The Niji Troupe had a week off, so Brock had commandeered the theater for a session of Chambers and Charizards. "The walls of the pool are of light-colored stone, enhancing the blue tint of the water, and several small streams of bubbles filter up from the sandy bottom."

"Pretty!" Liko smiles over the picture of the pool on the screen behind Brock.

"The entrance to the temple is somewhere below the water." Brock explains to the group. "So there's several ways you can go about this--you can drain the water and go in naturally, You can cast Magical Breathing on someone to get the door open..."

"I can go down there without Magical Breathing!" Misty interjects. "Since water is the Blue Dragon's innate element, they don't need magical breathing or air crystals to survive underwater!"

"That would save my magic power..." Dawn agrees.

The group huddles to debate their options, before Misty reports to Brock what she wishes to do. "I'm gonna dive in there and open the door--it'll only take a minute, so have Magical Breathing or some air crystals ready!"

Dawn uses CalcNav to estimate the MP cost of Magical Breathing against using some of the many air crystals the group has acquired from their impromptu campaign thus far. "Magical Breathing on everyone would use up a lot of my magic--and I'll likely need that to heal and support you guys against the cultists and their crystbeast god."

"We don't have to fight the crystbeast, do we?" May asks as she adjusts her elegant minstrel's hat that she is wearing in lieu of a costume.

"You guys are way too low level to face the crystbeast right now." Brock assures May. "You still have to reclaim the Crystals of Earth, Fire, and Wind before you can stand a chance at a crystbeast. Fighting said crystbeast is the ultimate goal, but let's focus on the Crystal of Water first."

He then tells Misty "Take ten--your innate water arts grant you magical breathing, so finding and opening the way into the temple is no trouble at all."

"Good thing we all had air crystals in our inventory." May smiles as she writes on her character sheet that her character is wearing an air crystal to breathe underwater.

"You won't have to wear them that long, so they'll have plenty of charge left." Brock agrees as he sets up some watery temple ambiance, signaling the group is inside the temple...

---------

"The walls of the corridor widen, expanding into a larger chamber. Amazingly, the cavern is filled from one end to the other with spires and slabs of beautiful ice-blue crystals, some as clear as glass, others richly opaque." Brock narrates some time later over his temple ambiance. "Light from an unknown source floods the area, tinted blue by the crystal growths and refracted and reflected by the many facets and panes. Your own images are reflected as well, distorted and multiplied in a bizarre array of geometric images."

He adds some images of water cultists to the scene. "There are about six water cultists in here. While that may seem like a lot, remember all the crystals in here can both help you and harm you, so keep the crystals in mind if you are using magical attacks--because casting your spell the wrong way may send it back on you!"

"Point duly noted." Ash muses. "Can arrows ricohet off the crystals?"

"Normal ranger's arrows can't, but magical arrows like what you have can." Brock explained. "These are water cultists, so they are weak to Thunder and Earth attacks, and Ice does double damage if you freeze them."

Inspired, Liko takes the first shot. "Alea performs the Dance of Snow!"

Brock adds some ambiance of a blizzard over the battle music to simulate Liko's attack. "Your dance conjures a huge blizzard--and the crystals send the snow whirling everywhere, freezing any evil in its path.

Roy gasps, amazed that Liko managed to freeze all the cultists solid with one attack. "Did you get a nat 20 or something?" he asks his companion.

"Nah--I was only softening them up for the other ice users." Liko assures Roy, showing him that she rolled a 14 to Brock's 5.

Roy nods, then tells Brock "Rokuto uses Ice Fist!"

Brock nods, then makes Roy's roll. "Your icy punch shatters a frozen cultist into a million shards. Your Suicune training in town has served you well."

"Arthien sings the Song of Ice!" May reports before singing Furiya, shuru shamato...

"Another whorl of ice comes whirling through the room, shattering the remaining frozen cultists." Brock smiled before cuing the victory music. "Nicely done, everyone! There's all kinds of crystal gear here, as well as a seeing crystal and plenty of gold."

"I'll take the seeing crystal." Dawn volunteers.

"Are all the encounters gonna be this easy?" Roy asks as he updates his character's weapon with crystal knuckles.

"I wouldn't get too cocky." Brock warns Roy. "If you want a challenge, I will be more than happy to create one!"

"Believe me when I say that this is no mere threat--Brock can make some challenging encounters when he wants to." Ash cautions, shuddering at a memory of an adventure the group almost failed when Gary requested a challenging encounter.

"Okay, let's move on then." Roy replies. "Gotta save our power for the water cult chief!"

"A wise choice." Brock agrees as he moves the tokens representing the group to the temple's next encounter...
 
Episode 42: The Heroic Tanooki


The audience of children in the Kagayou's main theater watched as Dawn, now in a fluffy brown and gold costume that evoked Buneary, made her way on the stage feigning shivering. "Brr...it is so cold...I can only imagine how the humans suffer with no way to keep them warm." she mused.

She looked out at a mountain in the distance on the digital set. "If only I could travel to Fire Crackling Mountain, where the great phoenix god Suzaku sleeps. Maybe if I tell him how all the world is shivering from the cold, he will allow me to take some of his holy fire."

"Are you sure, Mito-san?" May--now in a colorful costume that evoked Beautifly--asked as she joined Dawn onstage. "The way to Fire Crackling Mountain is long, and full of trials..."

"I understand, Kichou-san--but I can't sit idly by and wait for a hero to make that journey while the world suffers from the cold." Dawn protested. "What if it freezes solid, and there is no one left to make the journey?"

"Well, if you truly wish to go, you will at least need a guide to show you the way to the mountain peak." May replied. "And I know of no better guide than a tanooki!"

"A tanooki?" Dawn was interested. "Don't they play pranks on every creature they meet?"

"Not all of them!" May assured Dawn "There are some who are noble, and use their clever wiles to help those in need. Besides, tanooki have connections to the divine world, and would happily intercede for her before Suzaku."

Dawn nodded as the orchestra started a hopeful interlude. "I have decided! I will travel to Greenleaf Forest, and ask one of the tanooki there to guide me to Fire Crackling Mountain, and awaken Suzaku!"

"Good luck, Mito-san!" May called as Dawn departed offstage. "We will all be asking the Legendaries for your victory!"

The orchestra's song picked up as a spotlight appeared on the narrator in her nook. "And so, Mito traveled to Greenleaf Forest. But when she met a tanooki there, she learned that the way to Fire Crackling Mountain would be longer than she first thought. But this gave her all the more resolve to travel to the mountain, awaken Suzaku, and bring warmth and light to the world..."

Awed chatter filled the theater as Dawn arrived on a beautiful green forest set. "By Arceus...Greenleaf Forest does not suffer from the cold!"

She smiled at the audience. "But that is because the tanooki's magic protects the forest, so it will look beautiful no matter how hot the summer gets, or how cold the winter gets."

She thought for a moment. "But how do I meet a tanooki? Do I just call for one, or find where one lives? Given they are masters of illusory magic, it makes sense they hide their dwellings from unworthy eyes--so everything in this forest may not be all that it appears to be."

A recording of a Mightyena growl punctuated a fearful sting from the orchestra. "I know that that growling is real...Mightyenas!"

As she hurried offstage and the lights went down, the narrator explained over the music and the sounds of the chase "Mito ran as fast as she could through the forest underbrush, but the Mightyena pack was not far behind her. But just as Mito feared her journey to Fire Crackling Mountain would end before it even started, an unlikely hero came to her aid..."

The lights came up on Dawn cornered at the edge of a clearing by three animatronic Mightyenas, spurring "Oh no"s and fearful murmurs to race through the theater. "Is this the end?" Dawn asked as a spotlight appeared on her. "Is my journey over before it ever started?"

With that, she screamed with all her strength "Someone! Anyone! Help meeeeeeeee!!!!"

"Mori magi magiiro! Triple Dancing Leaf Arrow!" Brock's voice called from offstage, leaving Dawn to watch in amazement as three ornate green arrows that resembled emerald studded tree branches came flying on the stage, easily hitting hidden targets in each of the animatronic Mightyenas, making them disappear in a whorl of green leaves and light.

Once the relieved applause died down, Dawn asked "Is it okay if I see who rescued me? So I can properly thank them?"

"I did, Miss Buneary." At this, Brock-now wearing an elegant green, pale green, pale yellow, and brown outfit that evoked a tanooki, complete with a Zizagoon-like tail peeking from under a leaf print cloak and a tanooki ear headband-appeared in a whorl of leaves. "I am Hayato--one of the many tanooki guardians of this sacred forest."

"I-I'm Mito...thank you, Hayato-san, for saving my life." Dawn stammered with a nervous bow. "I was hoping to find a tanooki village, and ask for a guide to Fire Crackling Mountain."

"Noble as your goal of awakening Suzaku is, Miss Buneary, it will be no easy task." Brock cautioned. "But if Arceus is moving you to awaken the Great Phoenix, then let me be your guide to the mountain."

"Th-thank you!" Dawn replied in nervous excitement. "But what must we do to reach the mountain?"

"Many that attempt the journey to Fire Crackling Mountain often get lost along the way, even with someone to guide them..." Brock explained. "So we must first pay a visit to the divine Delphox, Kitsune. As envoy to the Great Arceus, she knows all that happens in the world, and knows of the suffering outside this place. She will grant you a magical map to Fire Crackling Mountain, and tell you of all the trials you will face along the way..."
 
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Episode 43: Phoenix Attempts to Write a Play


In Ash's room, Ash settled before his PC and opened the word processor. "Okay...so I told Rona I wanted to try writing a play." he explained as the others arrived in the room. "Problem is, I have no idea what I want it to be about."

"We all know you like grand adventures filled with action, martial arts, and color..." Misty suggested. "So start there--use the document you have open as your idea file."

"Good idea!" Ash quickly typed 'Play Inspiration Ideas' at the top of his open document, then saved it as 'MyIdeaFile.doc'. After configuring the autosave to save every 30 minutes, he addressed his companions. "Any idea you have is fair game--titles, plots from other media I could adapt into the Tawame form, fairy tales and folklore from elsewhere that could fit in ancient Waku--anything goes! Once I have enough ideas, or I find one I like, I'll start writing."

"How about a phoenix-born hero helps find the kidnapped relative of a noble person?" Brock suggested. "It can be a son, a daughter, a grandson or granddaughter, or a different kind of relative entirely..."

"Kidnapped daughters are way overdone in the Tawame canon, so a kidnapped son would make a nice subversion." Ash smiled as he wrote "Kidnapped son of a noble (Brock)" in his document.

"I can't think of too many plays with kidnapped sons..." Misty agreed. "Good idea to credit who made the suggestion, or the source for the idea."

"It's also helps keep who suggested what organized." Ash agreed before asking the group "Who's next for a suggestion?"

"'The Valiant Phoenix'?" Misty suggested. "It could be about a young hero giving an evil sect a beatdown--one of your favorite plot types."

Ash smiled. "I can definitely fall back on a favorite plot if I really can't think of anything." He let that hang as he wrote "The Valiant Phoenix--young hero gives evil sect/other rogue a beatdown (Misty)" on the next line.

"You can also try the variant of the young man who is taught a rare and powerful martial art or three from a kind master, then goes out and gives the main evil sect that's oppressing the martial world a beatdown." Serena suggested.

"That too..." Ash agreed as he wrote "young hero is taught a powerful martial art from a kind master, then saves the martial world (Serena)". "I will never get tired of that plot type, either."

"Remember that tropes and plot types themselves are not bad--it's how you write them that makes them good or bad." May reminded Ash. "This plots have been used over and over again for a reason--but you're also free to subvert them too."

"You could try transferring a Mentaverde and Colorada story into Waku!" Roy suggested. "I have tons of Mentaverde and Colorada comics you could study, and Liko could donate a few too."

"I like that!" Ash smiled before saving his idea document, then opening another document to hold his brainstorming as his companions looked on. "They're already the stars of hundreds of zarzuelas in Paldea, so there's nothing stopping me from putting counterparts of them in Waku..."

He headed his new document as "Mentaverde and Colorada in Waku Ideas" then headed the first section as "Things to Keep in Mind When Writing These Characters." "Okay...what should I keep in mind when writing characters like Mentaverde and Colorada?"

"Remember that both the Mera and Rubi counterparts have to be girls." Roy explained. "Whether or not you want them in Meowscarada and Delphox inspired costumes or not is your choice."

"Okay...do they have a recurring nemesis, or a bad guy they fight more often than any other?" Ash asked as he wrote "Two main characters MUST be girls (Serena=Colorada counterpart?)" in his document.

"There's a number of recurring foes, but the most famous of them is Barón Pérez." Liko explained as she brought in a particular issue of 'The Tales of Mentaverde and Colorada' with one particular story bookmarked. "He's been portrayed onstage as much as he is on the page and on screen--with 'The Terrible Pérez' being the most famous zarzuela starring him."

She referred to the bookmarked comic. "I bookmarked the story 'El Diamante de Los Ángeles' for you because I think it might work in ancient Waku."

Ash smiled as he accepted the comic. "My Paldean is not very good yet, so can you give me the too long, didn't read translation of the plot?"

"Basically, Barón Pérez tries to recover a stolen gem--the diamond in the title--for himself, but things get complicated for Mentaverde and Colorada when several of Barón Pérez's cronies and some other rogues want the diamond too." Liko explained.

"So can Mentaverde and Colorada keep the gem out of evil hands, and get it back to the rightful owners?" Roy concluded.

"I can translate Paldean, so I'll be happy to scanalate the story into English for Ash to refer back to as he is working." Brock offered.

"Sure!" Liko smiled as she gave Brock the comic.

"How does scanalation work?" Roy was curious. "Lots of Wakunese manga are scanalated into Paldean all the time, and I've always wondered how that process works."

"Well, luckily for your comics, there are now dedicated PC programs to scanalate comics without tearing them apart." Brock explained. "For a long time, you had to literally tear manga books apart to translate the pages. Today, all you have to do is scan each page into the PC, type in your translation in the appropriate language, and then print out the scanalated pages."

"Oh, so that's how they do it..." Roy smiled.

"We'll help check over your translation with the original after you copy in the pages for translation." Liko offered as she led Roy and Brock to another room.

Ash smiled as he watched Brock, Liko and Roy depart. "Having the story translated will be helpful--since I know I want to include some lines from the original story in the play..."

Serena just smiled. "I can't wait to perform the Colorada counterpart, so our next question is deciding who would play the Mentaverde counterpart..."
 
Episode 44: Reading Through Beautiful Harmony

The readthrough room hummed with activity as the Niji Troupe convened to read through their latest play. "I was just trying for any role at all during the auditions!" Serena admitted as she and Ash found a seat at the long and specious table. "I didn't expect the two of us to be playing the leads, even though we are the troupe's yuushi and eiyuna!"

"Me neither!" Ash agreed. "I was positive Misty and Brock were gonna get the leads!"

"We did put in a heroic effort into trying for Yumana and Chikaru..." Misty assured Ash as she and Brock arrived in the room. "But we're both happy with what roles we got, and think you two will do just fine as the leads--as you have done many times before."

"After looking through the script last night, Makoto's a nice balance between the softspoken characters I typically play, and the more energetic character I see you play." Brock added. "Don't get me wrong, I would still like to broaden my horizons and play some more energetic roles. Makoto's just a nice step in that direction."

"You can do energetic characters well when it counts!" May agreed as she and Dawn arrived, with Liko and Roy not far behind. "So I'd love to see you play some more energetic Raikou-born!"

"Yeah--I like your joyous and musical type of comedy." Roy agreed. "What's your secret to creating those hilarious anime song parodies?"

"There really is no big secret--listen to the original song, and use the circumstances of the scene the parody will be in to inform the lyrics." Brock explained to Roy. "Don't be afraid to call back to earlier events, or foreshadow upcoming events in the play's story."

He thumbed a few pages in his script to look for one of Roy's character's songs. "If you want to try writing your own anime opening or ending parody, I have a challenge for you--set Ginji's song explaining the prophecy of the seal in Act 1 to the tune of any anime opening, insert song, or ending you like. Which language you get the tune from doesn't matter--Paldean version, Wakunese version or another language entirely will be fine, so long is it conveys Ginji's proud and confident personality."

"Challenge accepted!" Roy smiled. "Once I'm done, I'll commandeer the piano in the music room and play it for you--and maybe Rona too!"

"Play what for me?" Rona asked as she arrived in the room.

"I challenged Roy to try his hand at writing his own anime song parody like I sometimes do for my musician characters." Brock explained. "If you like it, could we maybe work it into the play?"

"Well--which of Ginji's songs would this replace?" Rona wondered.

"The song in Act 1 where I give Ash and Serena the too long, didn't read version about how to open the seal--and the era of peace and plenty that will happen when it is opened." Roy explained.

A smile formed on Rona's face. "Okay--if you can come up with a good parody, and music for the orchestra, we'll put the results of your challenge into the play. Bear in mind that we won't have electric guitars, harmonicas, or anything like that available, so that should help narrow down your choice of song."

She turned business-like again. "For now, let's get settled in and go over the play scene by scene."

The readthrough room became a flurry of fluttering pages and excited chatter as Rona took her seat at the head of the table, facing all the cast members that had speaking roles. "Now then...'The Seal of Beautiful Harmony' is a beautiful tale of friendship, bonds and perseverance that has endured in the Tawame canon for a very long time. The show tells the story of Yumana, a wandering hero who is disheartened by all the strife she finds in the martial world. One day, she finds a prophecy of hope--whoever can find and then open the titular seal will bring an era of peace and plenty to the martial world. After rallying her companion Chikaru..."

"My role!" Ash smiled.

Rona smiled, then continued reading over the play's basic plot. "...the two of them set off for a town, in hopes of finding a lead as to where the seal is, and how to open it. As they search, they befriend Ginji, a warrior that is searching for his missing partner, Sora."

"My role!" Roy grinned.

"Ginji tells our heroes, in song, that the seal is itself sealed by the eight elements of the world--earth, fire, wind, water, snow, thunder, the cosmos, and light--and undoing the seal is a challenge in itself." Rona went on. The three of them agree to travel together. Along they way they meet others also hoping for the seal to be opened--and those who would stop at nothing to prevent the seal from being opened. Through it all, the group forges an unshakeable bond that makes evil tremble, and ultimately succeed at opening the seal."

"Bummer that you can't pick a song that features a harmonica..." Ash muttered to Roy as he read over the first scene of Act 1. "I would've loved to play mine for your song parody..."

"Oh well--we've got a bunch of Western and Wakunese instruments in the orchestra, so I'll keep looking for a song we can use." Roy assured Ash.

"Is there anyone with questions about the first scene of Act 1, or anything they don't understand about their role?" Rona asked, snapping Roy and Ash to attention.

"Is Sora just sitting there in a prison cell, or is she seeking a way to get out, or help Ginji somehow?" Liko asked. "I don't think it's fair for Sora to just be waiting for Ginji..."

"Remember that Sora's song in the prison cell is at its heart a song of strength and resolve." Rona assured Liko. "While she misses Ginji, this gives her all the more resolve to find a way out of her prison, or otherwise help him. So while it starts out slow and sad, it turns hopeful, culminating in a powerful show of courage."

"I see..." Liko mused as she made a few notes in the scene in question later in Act 1...
 
Episode 45: The Braviary's Golden Heart


"Liko!" Serena called as she found Liko about to enter her room backstage to change into her training garb. "Before you change into your training garb for acting practice, the prop crew said that they had something for you..."

"Really?" Liko asked, intrigued. "Let me get into my training garb, then we'll go there together, then meet the others for today's acting practice."

Serena nodded. "That's fair--I'll stand guard so you can change in peace."

---------

Once Liko emerged from her room in a familiar deep cyan leotard and white tights, and a familiar green heart necklace around her neck, she followed Serena down the hall leading out of the actor's quarters, through the common area, and down another hallway leading to the massive prop storage area. "There you are, Liko...." the chief prop coordinator smiled as Serena and Liko arrived. "We've noticed that you never perform without your lucky heart necklace--and the writers have managed to work that into several plays, even if you're not playing the lead."

She motioned for a crew member to bring her a large silvery case. "...so some of the jewelrymakers on the crew decided to make you a matching set in different colors, so it will match whatever costume you wear."

Liko gasped in amazement when she saw the many different colors of heart necklaces that matched the bright green heart she currently wore, as well as a space for the original bright green heart. "Wow! They're all beautiful! Thank you!"

After accepting the case full of necklaces from Serena, she began "Let me go drop these off in my room, then I'll be right there."

---------

Roy balked when Liko arrived in the acting practice room some time later, this time with a heart necklace that matched her leotard. "Whoa, Liko, you've got a different heart necklace on today! What happened to your main one?"

"It's still in my room, alongside a lot more of them in a number of different colors." Liko assured her friend and co-star. "The prop crew was nice enough to make me a huge set of them, so I would always have a lucky heart that matched my costume. So for today, I picked the deep cyan heart that matched my training garb."

"That's a clever idea--the crew knows that lucky heart is special to you." Roy smiled as the others began arriving. "I can't wait to see which heart you'll pick to go with your costume for this play..."

About then, the excited chatter quieted as Rona arrived in the room. "Okay, everyone...does anyone have any questions about Act 1 so far, or anything they don't understand about their role?"

"What does it mean when Azure Rain tells Dutiful Snow that her heart 'shines like the snow at the peak of the Silver Mountain' in the middle of Scene 2?" Misty asked. "Is that just a flowery metaphor, or is it foreshadowing something later in the play?"

"This time, it's just a metaphor, comparing Dutiful Snow's noble heart to glittering snow beneath moonlight." Rona explained. "Since the play is set in what would be today Johto, Mt. Silver was used, as that was the place the original audience would've been familiar with."

"Would it be more effective if I just said 'glittering snow in the moonlight, or something similar?" Misty asked. Or do I have to include the Mt. Silver bit? We do perform for an international audience, so the Mt. Silver metaphor might get lost on them..."

"That is a fair point--I will send back the script with your concern." Rona assured Misty. "As beautiful as some of the language in these plays are, some of the figures of speech would be lost on foreign audiences, so I will try to be more aware of that in the future."

"While we try to include as much background info as we can in the program, we don't want so many footnotes that it makes the program a novel." Ash agreed, to some giggles.

"Yes, that is true..." Rona smiled. "Any other questions before we jump into today's practice?"

When no one said anything, Rona went on. "First of all, I want to commend you guys on working on memorizing your lines quickly. We will have a few more practices in here, then go out to the stage to start blocking once we have the revised scripts. For today, let's go over Scene 4 of Act 1, where Dutiful Snow and Ancient Thunder learn about the song that drives the story from the other daeva."

"Scene 4..." Roy mused before thumbing a few pages in his script. "Scene 4...scene 4...ah ha! Here we are."

"Now then...Liko, would you start from the beginning of this scene?" Rona asked.

Liko nodded, and motioned for Roy to follow her into the center of the room where Serena was standing. "Light-san, I come to you with a question..."

"What is your question?" Serena asked, gently motioning for Liko to sit in a chair in the center of the room.

"Thunder-san and I were doing some research as to how to end the turmoil in the mortal realm, and we found something about 'a beautiful golden song'." Liko explained. "Have you found any such prophecies or oracles in your research before?"

Serena nodded. "Those who, guided by the Rainbow Wing, arrive at the Seven Colored Mountain and sing a beautiful golden song, shall awaken Ho'oh, and bring peace to the world. However, finding the pieces of such a song will not be easy, and filled with many a trial, even for a god..."

"But where would we even begin to find the pieces of a song?" Roy protested. "That's Rose-san's department!"

"If you two will wait there a moment, I will find Grand Rose and ask his help in this matter." Serena assured Liko and Roy before stepping outside the stage area for a moment.

She returned with Brock some moments later. "Light-san told me everything..." Brock began as he arrived in the stage area. "If you recall that Ho'oh is the rainbow Pokemon, you are not seeking out pieces of a song as much as seven unique songs, united into a single melody..."
 
Episode 46: Braviary's and Mightyena's First Livestream

"Okay...every once in a while we might do a Q and A livestream to drum up publicity for an upcoming play." Ash explained as he led Liko and Roy inside the livestream studio, where Dawn was organizing the desk with the massive PC that would allow the four actors to interact with the chat. "We're not limited to talking about the play we're promoting, though--we talk about plays we've done in the past, plays we'd like to do in the future, what it's like behind the scenes, and what we like to do offstage--just to name a few topics."

"And whenever Ash is involved with a stream, there will probably be at least one impromptu bansi solo over the course of the stream." Dawn agreed as her co-stars got settled at the desk.

"Mods have green screennames, okay!" Roy smiled as he saw a stream of bright green screennames enter the chat.

"If someone specifically wants to ask you a question, they will tag you--otherwise, a question is free for anyone to answer." Dawn explained.

"Hi, all--thx for coming to our promo stream for 'The Nine Dances of the Celestial Phoenix'." Rona's white text announced. "@RubyPhoenix is here, @PearlDeerling is here, and for the first time ever, our two newest stars, @AmethystBraviary and @GarnetMightyena, are here!"

"Hola!" Liko waved to the camera.

"Hi!" Roy grinned for the camera, making a wave of greeting emojis fill the chat.

"If this is your first time joining us, the question and request rules are over on the right--our mod team will review every question you ask before our stars see them." Rona's next message went on. "If you have a question for me, tag @GreatRainbow1."

"@GarnetMightyena--how does it feel acting alongside legends like @RubyPhoenix?" came a question.

"Amazing!" Roy typed. "@RubyPhoenix is a never ending fountain of knowledge, and not afraid to do some crazy things! I can only hope to be brave enough to try what he does someday!"

Ash just smiled, flattered by the complement. "Keep honing and practicing your skills, and you'll get there one day."

"@RubyPhoenix--was it hard doing a lot of dancing for the play?" someone asked.

"In a way, it was--learning nine distinct routines was hard work." Ash typed back. "But each one of the dances is fitting of the elemental it's for--#9 is the Rainbow Dance, the union of all the other elemental dances. But I'm not giving away the play's ending!"

"@AmethystBraviary--what's the significance of the heart necklaces you wear in every show?" came the next question.

"It's my lucky heart necklace--the original was a green heart mi mama gave to me." Liko typed before showing the camera the familiar green crystal heart necklace she wore. "The prop crew was nice enough to give me a full set in the other colors, so I always have one that matches the costume I have for that show."

"On the few times Liko hasn't worn the lucky heart, something always goes wrong." Roy agreed. "So everyone considers it one of our good luck charms."

"I like to think that it's a sign of our bond together." Dawn smiled.

"@PearlDeerling--do u have a fav char besides the one u play?" someone asked.

Dawn nodded. "Besides my character, @GoldenDelphox does it again with the comedy, and @EmeraldRaikou steals the show with his music." she typed, bemused that the tags of her co-stars were colorized in the chat even though Serena and Brock were not present to answer the tags.

"Where ARE Serena and Brock at, anyway?" Roy wondered.

"They are out putting up posters in town." Dawn replied. "They'll be doing a stream of their own with Misty and May later tonight."

"@RubyPhoenix--got a special ::flute emoji:: for the play?" someone asked.

Ash nodded, before showing the camera a sparkling bansi with a rainbow phoenix design and rainbow tassels. "Here it is...if you have headphones, you may want to turn down the volume."

"Good idea--one of those could easily blow out a mic!" Liko smiled as Ash pulled away from the desk so he could safely play the colorful flute without damaging ears or mics.

After thinking a moment for a suitable demo tune, Ash opted to play a heroic phrase down the F major scale. "bravo!' someone commented.

"@RubyPhoenix--are those in one key, or can you play in any key?" someone asked.

"Traditionally, they were diatonic--only able to play in one, two, maybe three keys at a time." Ash explained. "Modern bansis are often chromatic--able to play in every key. That said, diatonic ones are still made and available. Most of mine are chromatic, but I have some diatonic ones as backup instruments just in case something happens to my main chromatic."

"That's a good idea..." Liko smiled. "This way, you never have to worry about not having an instrument."

"@GarnetMightyena--how hard are unarmed fights compared to using weapons?" someone asked.

"In many ways, unarmed fights are harder than fights with weapons, because you have to be up close to do any damage." Roy explains. "While all the punches and kicks don't actually impact, it's sound and reaction that sells the power of the hit."

He smiled. "I wouldn't mind learning to do armed fights, though--I do have a little sword experience from our days at Naranja."

"Be warned--Western sword fighting and Wakunese sword fighting are VERY different." Dawn cautioned. "But if you ever need a teacher of swordplay, Ash is the perfect teacher!"

"@PearlDeerling--what actually happens during a rehearsal for one of your shows?" someone asked.

After copying the user's screenname and turning it into a tag, Dawn typed "can you be a lil more specific? This will help me give a good answer to your question."

"@PearlDeerling--ok what is rehearsing the acting like?" the user clarified. "How different is it from school acting or Western acting?"

"Depending on the play, we will start practicing the acting in a dedicated practice room, and then move out to the stage to start blocking once we at least get the bulk of Act 1 down, then practice the rest of the acting on the stage." Dawn typed. "For some plays, we may practice all the acting on the stage..."
 
Episode 47: Braviary's First Try at a Play


"Let's surprise everyone by writing a play for them!" Liko suggested as she settled before a PC, with her Sprigatito Fern bounding into a cat Pokemon bed by the desk moments later.

"Great idea--I can help you write it." Roy offered. "And keep Fern away from the keyboard..."

"First, what am I gonna name this play?" Liko mused.

"We can always try transferring a Paldean story to a Wakunese setting..." Roy suggested before thinking for a moment. "How about 'The Dragon's Treasure?' That may work in a Wakunese setting..."

"Yeah!" Liko agreed before finishing her title page, then creating a cast list on the next page. "We can change Pascal to something to do with spring..." she began as she began listing characters from her memory of the story.

"Haru is Wakunese for 'spring'--a fairly common name for both boys and girls." Roy suggested as he scrolled through a Wakunese name database on his Rotom Phone. Like Brock always says--if a character is important to a story, give them a name."

"I'll look through your database of Wakunese names later, but we'll call our hero Haru for now." Liko assured Roy as she typed. "The original story is set up like someone telling the story....so there's always room for Brock to narrate." She let that hang as she added 'The Narrator' to her cast list.

"Don't worry about music just yet--just focus on writing the lines and any cues for acts, songs, solos, and fights." Roy smiled. "The writers and the others will always be happy to give you feedback, so just write for now--doesn't have to be perfect yet."

"I'm only keeping Pascal's quest to kill the dragon--the quest to get there will be the bulk of the story." Liko explained, still typing all the while.

"Keep in mind that Wakunese dragons are usually good guys." Roy reminded Liko. "Most Wakunese dragon slaying tales say that the slain dragon forgot its divine calling, and so received its judgement by being slain. It's very rare for them to be evil to start with."

"The most famous of these fallen dragons is Orochi, who you may remember from 'Okami'." a familiar voice interjected.

Liko turned to look to see Brock framed in the writing room doorway. "Oh, Brock, hi! I wanted to try my hand at writing a play for everyone, if you want to take a look at what I have so far..."

"Let's see here..." Brock mused as he pulled up a chair to look at the PC screen, pausing to pet Fern as Liko scrolled her script back to the beginning. "Hero's name is Haru, okay..."

"That's his tentative name, anyway..." Liko admitted. "His original Paldan name is Pascal, which has connotations of Easter, so I figured a name meaning 'spring' would acknowledge that."

"Who said your dragon slayer had to be a boy?" Brock smiled. "You can just as easily make it a girl, too."

"Sakura is probably the easiest name if you wanna try that route, but lemme see what other names I can find..." Roy agreed as he scrolled through his Wakunese name database again. "Haruki for a boy...Haruna for a girl..."

"Haruki can mean 'spring tree'." Brock suggested before asking Roy "Does your database include alternate character readings?"

"Yeah--some of my favorites have hundreds of different monji readings." Roy smiled as he looked for more names."

"When naming your characters, the name's meaning or their martial title is important to the audience--it tells them a little about what the character is like, and sometimes tells them the character's role in the story." Brock explained. "So to name some possible meanings for your suggestion of Haruna for a girl--Haruna can mean 'spring moon' or 'sun and moon'."

"Nice!" Roy smiled as he tapped the heart to save 'Haruna' to his list of favorite girl names. "I'll have to look through all its meanings later!"

Brock smiled when he saw 'The Narrator' on Liko's cast list. "If you haven't written in any vina solos for me yet, don't worry--we can look through the music library for ideas later. Don't be afraid to pick solos I haven't learned yet--I appreciate learning new solos."

"Since I don't know the names of any vina pieces, I'm just writing in what emotions and moods the song should evoke for now." Liko admitted as she wrote in a note for a solo in a scene.

"That's a good idea!" Roy smiled. "Do you make up what you play as you talk on the fly, or are those rehearsed pieces too?" he asked Brock.

"I depends on the tone of the play's story--sometimes I improvise a melody, and sometimes I use a well known piece that would fit the mood." Brock explained. "The vina's job is to add character to what I am saying, and set the mood for the scene."

"What's the difference between la arpa wakunesa, la arpa galariano, and la arpa paldeana?" Liko wondered as she finished typing a scene, curious.

"How they are strung, and how they are played." Brock explained as he remembered a familiar instrument case he had brought in the room. "On most European harps, most players just use their fingernails, although fingerpicks are not entirely unheard of. On the vina, fingerpicks are a must--they both create the vina's distinct sound, and protect the strings from the gunk that's naturally on your hands. So nail polish is a no go with a vina, unless it's protective clear nail polish, or a solid color."

"I can see why you'd want protective polish..." Liko smiled as Brock opened the case to reveal a familiar well loved emerald studded vina with ivy decoration. "It's beautiful!"

"I keep my protective clear polish in a pocket with my fingerpick box." Brock explained as he showed Liko a small bottle labeled "Aya Protective Clear Polish". "So if it looks like I'm getting a manicure in the makeup room on opening night, it's not so I can try the latest hit Memogram nail polish designs." he grinned, making Liko, Roy, and Fern laugh in agreement...
 
Episode 48: Announcing the High Black Raikou


The Kagayou's main theater buzzed with activity as the Niji Troupe gathered for the announcement of a new play. After a few weeks off to rest from their previous show, word had gotten out that the announcement of a new show was imminent. Even as the many actors and crew settled in, whispers raced down the rows about what they thought the new play would be.

"So? What play do you think we're doing next?" Roy smiled as he flew into one of the empty seats, with Liko not far behind them.

"It would be interesting to give a Paldean zarzuela a Wakunese twist..." Liko smiled as she took a seat next to her friend. "I'd even write that play, if Rona would let me."

"I wouldn't mind doing 'Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix' again..." Misty suggested as she found a seat in the row. "If only for nostalgia reasons."

She explained to Liko "That particular play is sometimes called 'Tawame's answer to 'The Three Musketeers' because of the many similarities to that story in the plot."

"When DID we last do 'Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix'?" Brock wondered as he found a vacant seat by Misty. "No matter how many times we perform that play, I will never tire of playing Eichi Kitora."

"The scene where Eichi and Karu duel is one of my favorites." Misty remembered. "Not to mention that Serena steals the show as Kitsuki..."

"Kitsuki may be one of my favorite roles, but I'm hoping we do 'The Revered Temple of the Guardians' next..." Serena smiled as she arrived with Ash not far behind. "That way, there's a part for all of us..."

"There's lots of plays that have parts for all of us..." Misty admitted. "But I'm not the one picking the plays--Rona does a good job at picking plays that we all enjoy performing, even if there are a few misfires."

Just then, the excited chatter quieted as Rona arrived on the stage before the curtain, just as May and Dawn hurried to find a seat in the row. "All right...first of all, thank you all for making 'The Legend of the Rainbow Sword' a success!"

Cheers filled the theater at this. "So now that you all have had some time to rest and relax, our next play may be new to a lot of you, but for those of you that have performed it before, this will bring back fond memories."

The theater fell silent as the Niji Troupe waited to hear what the next play they would perform would be. "I am pleased to announce that our next play will be 'Subduing the High Black Raikou'!" Rona announced.

Thunderous cheers filled the theater at the new play's name. "If you are interested in auditioning, signups for auditions will open up later this afternoon." Rona explained. "Once auditions are over, the parts will be posted three to five days after that, with the readthrough a few days after that..."

"Doesn't sound like any play we've done before..." Ash mused as Rona continued giving instructions and information.

"We can always look up the plot and be thinking about what roles we want..." Misty agreed. "But as the troupe's stars, we're definitely signing up for an audition--even if we end up only playing a bit part."

Crowd chatter got her attention."Looks like everyone's leaving--now's our chance to research this new play, and be thinking about what roles we want before we sign up for auditions."

---------

Later, in Misty's room, Misty pulled up the play's synopsis on a PC for the group to see. "Okay...evil Raikou-born, heroic Raikou-born goes after said not-so-good Raikou-born with help from dragonborn companion...this has Brock and me all over it!"

"Any time you and Brock are the leads is a media worthy event!" Ash smiled.

"You've got a big part to play too, Mr. Phoenix..." Misty smiled, showing that the phoenix-born character had a large amount of lines to say, flute solos, songs, and fights. "Three guesses as to which role you're trying out for, and the first two don't count!"

Ash nodded. "Already signed up to try out for White Phoenix..."

"Golden Mightyena locked in for my audition!" Roy agreed. "Liko's already in there, trying out for Amber Braviary. Looked pretty confident when she went in, so I think she'll get it."

"I'm going in for Scarlet Deerling once Liko's done with her audition." Dawn replied. "It's a fairly big part, but I think I can do it!"

"What's your secret to memorizing all those lines, in case I ever get a shot at the lead?" Roy asked Brock. "You make those big roles seem like cake!"

"A lot of Tawame plays have been recorded as radio theater, and many of them for free downloads, something like an audiobook." Brock explained. "So what I do is download the play we're doing to my PokeNav, and listen to it while I have the script open in my scriptreader, OnBook. Before I listen to it, I tell it to highlight all my spoken lines in the script, plus the lines before mine. Then after listening to the whole play a few times, I enable karaoke mode--where it mutes your lines in the audio so you can say them, and go through all my lines scene by scene in chunks. If I mess up, I go back and try the line again until I can say it without looking at the digital script or the paper ones Rona gives us. If I have a chunk of lines in a scene, I practice the whole dialogue like this. I keep doing this until I have my lines memorized. Best of all, OnBook is a free download with no annoying ads or 'premium' unlocks."

"Nice!" Roy smiled. "I may have to give it a whirl if I end up getting Golden Mightyena!"

Just then Liko arrived in the room. "How'd it go?" Roy asked.

"I think I did pretty well..." Liko replied. "But no matter what roles we get, let's all do our best to make all the plays we do ones to remember!" Everyone cheered in agreement...
 
Episode 49: The Amethyst Heroine


Excited whispers fill the Kagayou's main auditorium as Brock appears in his nook at stage right, vina in hand. "Meanwhile, Varun traveled on and on, following the ruby trail of blood, till he came to the outskirts of a forest. Many beaten paths in it led to a great city. He sat down to rest at the foot of a wide-spreading tree, and was gazing up at the towers and pinnacles of the town, rising towards the sky, when he had a feeling that someone was coming."

With that, he starts a relaxed melody as the lights come up on Ash--in an ornate red, orange, and gold prince's robe, resting under a prop tree. See the summer's light... Liko sings as she arrives onstage.
Round with rays so bright...
Fading out of sight...
Melting into night...

Hold me unto you,
No one but you
No one but you
Hold me unto you
No one but you
No one but you...

All the world is dear...
when my love is near...
Oh to linger here...
Far from all I fear...

Hold me unto you,
No one but you
No one but you
Hold me unto you
No one but you
No one but you...


The orchestra joins in with the vina as Liko continues her song. Love is like sailing by moonlight
Reading the stars, navigating by night
I know tomorrow I'll be closer to you
You are the one that I want
No one but you...

See the morning light
round with rays so bright
waking from the night
brilliant is the sight

Hold me unto you
No one but you
No one but you
Hold me unto you
No one but you
No one but you....


Light applause fills the air at the song's end. "Her eyes were deep blue, and her beauty reminded Varun of his mother, whom he was beginning to fear he would never see again." Brock explains from his nook as he sets the harp aside. "When the young girl was close to him, he startled her by asking..."

"Can you tell me what the name of this city is?" Ash asks Liko as he gets up from under the tree.

"Of course, I can, for I live there." Liko replies "It is called Vandapur, and it belongs to my father. He is a wizard that and does not welcome strangers. Now, tell me who you are and where you come from."

Ash and Liko pantomime a conversation as Brock narrates "Varun told the girl about himself, and why he was wandering so far from home. The girl, whose name was Jaya, listened attentively; and when he got to the part about shooting the Swanna, and how he had followed the bleeding bird in the hope of getting back his father's jeweled arrow, she began to tremble."

"Alas! That was my father." Liko cries as a blue tinged spotlight blinks back to her, giving her ornate green, blue, and purple costume a shimmer like the northern lights. "He can take any form he chooses. He returned home yesterday, and I drew the arrow from his wound and dressed the wound myself. He gave me the jeweled arrow to keep, and I would like to keep it. As for you, the sooner you get out of here the better; for my father never forgives, and he is so powerful that you would have no chance of escape if he knew you were here."

The orchestra starts a sad melody as Ash contemplates what Liko has said. "But I already love you, and I will move heaven and earth to make you my first bride." he vows as the song turns hopeful.

"And I love you in kind--Father can do his worst!" Liko replies.

An idea comes to Liko "I will give you back your arrow, and you must hurry out of our land before my father discovers you are here."

"No! Now that I have seen you, I can never leave you. Can you not learn to love me and be my bride?" Ash pleads.

"Aw"s fill the air as Ash and Liko embrace, holding each other close for a few moments over a romantic theme from the orchestra. "Listen, and I will tell you what we must do." Liko explains. "My father is a wizard, but I am his daughter, and I inherit some of his powers. If you will promise to do exactly as I tell you, I think I may be able to save you, and perhaps even become your bride. I am the youngest of a large family. I will go and tell him that a great and mighty prince has come to our land to ask for an audience with him. Then I will tell him that I have seen you, fallen in love with you, and want to marry you. He will then want to see you, even if he refuses to let me be your bride. If you really love me, you will find a way to win his blessing; but hide until I have prepared the way for you." She lets that hand as the lights go down.

"Jaya then led Varun far away into the depths of the forest, and showed him a large tree." Brock narrates as Liko makes a grand gesture before a prop hollow tree and Ash. "The wide-spreading branches touched the ground, completely hiding the trunk. There was an opening in the foliage, large enough for a person to pass through. Steps cut in the inside of the trunk led down to a wide space underground; and there Jaya told her sweetheart to wait till she came back."

"Before I go, I will tell you my own password, which will save you from death if you should be discovered." Liko tells Ash as he prepares to enter the hollow. "It is 'Sakura'; and everyone you say it to, will understand that you are under my protection."

The orchestra starts an ominous theme as Ash enters the hollow and the lights go down. "When Jaya reached the castle she found her father in a bad mood." Brock narrates as Liko meets a male actor in a majestic black robe with colored streaks on the colorful set of an exotic palace. "When she had dressed the wound very carefully, she prepared a small meal for her father sitting with him while he ate it. All this pleased him, and he was much happier when she said to him..."

"I must tell you that I too have had an adventure." Liko tells the male actor. "As I was gathering herbs in the forest, I met a man I had never seen before, a tall handsome young fellow looking like a prince, who told me he was seeking the castle of a great wizard he had heard of. Who could that wizard have been but you, father? He entreated me to ask you to grant him an audience."

"And what did you answer?" the male actor asks Liko

"I told him I would seek you and ask you to receive him. For I have seen the only man I will ever marry; and if you forbid me to do so, I will even die for him, for I cannot live without him." Liko replies.

Liko and her co-star continue their conversation as their audience of kids and teachers looks on:

"Send for the man immediately."

"I cannot send, for no one knows where he is now; nor will I bring him until you promise that no evil will befall him."

"He will keep his head on his shoulders, and leave the castle alive; but that is all I will say."

"That is not enough. Promise me that not a hair of his head will be harmed, and I will treat him as an honored guest."

"At last, the wizard Aguni promised, thinking to himself that he would find some way of getting rid of Varun if he did not fancy him for a son-in-law." Brock intones from his nook. "The words she wanted to hear were hardly out of her father's mouth before Jaya sped away, as if on the wings of the wind, full of hope that all would be well. She found her sweetheart awaiting her, and quickly explained the situation."

Liko meets Ash by the hollow tree some moments later. "Do not say anything about me to my father at first, but only talk about him and all you have heard of him. If only you could get him to like you and want to keep you with him, it would help us very much. Then you could pretend that you must go back to your own land; and rather than allow you to do so, he will be anxious for us to be married and to live here with him."

Ash nods in agreement as he and Liko exit the forest scene. "Varun loved Jaya so much that he was ready to obey her in everything." Brock narrates from his nook. "So he went with her to the castle. On every side he saw signs of the strength and power of the wizard. Each gate was guarded by tall soldiers in shining armor. They saluted Jaya but scowled fiercely at him. He knew full well that if he had tried to pass alone, they would have prevented him from getting into the castle. At last the two came to the great hall, where the great wizard was pacing the floor, angry at being kept waiting."

"Oohs" go up over the orchestra's ominous interlude, and the male actor's sneer at seeing Ash. "The moment he set eyes on the prince he knew he was the man who had shot the jeweled arrow at him when he had taken the form of a Swanna, and he decided to take revenge." Brock intones from his nook. He was too cunning to let Varun guess that he knew him, and pretended to be very glad to see him."

"You seem to me the very man, young, handsome and quite able to give my darling daughter all she needs." the male actor tells Ash. "I only make one condition: you must promise that you will never disobey my commands, but do whatever I tell you without a moment's hesitation."

"Only give me your daughter and I will serve you in any way you wish." Ash vows.

"That's settled, then!" the male actor smiles.

As a parade of extras escorts Ash offstage to a festive song, Liko finds Ash and tells him "Be on your guard--expect a message from me!"

The scene fades to an ornate guest room somewhere in the palace, where an extra playing a messenger meets Ash. "Forgive the intrusion, milord, but this letter came for you..."

Ash recognizes the Braviary shaped seal on the prop letter. "Thank you, good sir--I will call if this message requires a reply."

Once the messenger departs, Ash opens the prop letter and reads the imagined message on it to the audience over a ominous theme tinged with hope. "My beloved, my father is plotting against you. I have eleven sisters all exactly like me, all wearing dresses and necklaces which are exact copies of each other, so that few can tell me from the others, Soon you will be summoned to the great hall, and we will all be together there. My father will bid you choose your bride from among us; and if you make a mistake all will be over for us. But I will wear my necklace around my arm instead of around my neck, and this way you will know your true love. Remember to obey no future command without hearing from me, for only I can outwit my terrible father. Love, Jaya..."

With Ash folds up the prop letter and puts it away as the lights go down...
 
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Episode 50: Press Start For a Day Off


The colorful lights and bright retro wave music interwoven with classic 80's songs provided a layer of ambiance in the Rainbow Starcadia--most of the soundtrack in the massive facility were the hundreds of arcade machines and classic consoles, all of them lovingly restored and cared for by a dedicated staff.

In one corner of the neon fueled facility, Ash kept his eye trained on a white ball on one cabinet's screen, trying all the while to maneuver it into the last clump of silver blocks he needs to clear the stage. Come on, laser capsule... he silently pleaded.

"Ash still stuck on Arkanoid?" Brock asked as he arrived to observe Ash's tense game session.

"Yeah, already on the last life and we're still on stage one." Misty reported as Ash fruitlessly tried to get the last pieces.

Ash sighed when he met the GAME OVER screen some moments later. "You think you can do any better, Misty?" he asked as he entered his initials on the high score screen.

"Don't know if it would be much of a competition if you're playing like that." Misty sighed as "AGK 10550" is immortalized on the high score list. "But I'll give it a go anyway, just for you."

But despite Misty's best efforts, she did no better, and "MCW 12860" was immortalized on the list.

"You want to try, Brock?" Ash asked, aware of Liko immersed in a game of Tetris, and Roy focused on a fighting game near where they were. May and Dawn were having a 2 player dance-off on a Dancing Star machine, and Serena was focused on defending her first place position in a racing game.

"Sure...this is a little different than the Super NES version I'm used to playing, though." With that, Brock took his position before the Arkanoid machine.

Misty's eyes widened as Brock all but breezed through twenty stages. "Wow!"

"He's GOOD!" Ash agreed as people hurried to watch Brock play.

Before long, Brock stood by the machine, beaming as "BDH 682250" was displayed in the top score spot. "That's how it's done, folks." he grinned as the crowd applauded.

"Think you can do any better with 'Sakura Fighters'?" Roy asked as his cabinet returned to the title screen from the continue countdown. "I usually end up hitting the wall against Ryumon..."

"Depends, who's your main?" Brock asked as Roy led him to the cabinet decorated with Cheri blossoms and samurai warriors. "Every character in 'Sakura Fighters' is viable to finish the story mode, so ignore all those so called tier lists. Competitive play, that's another story."

"Yeah--I'm only trying to finish the campaign." Roy replied. "I can usually get pretty far with Raiki, but Ryumon always beats me!"

"Ryumon is the first real wake up call boss in the campaign--about a fourth of the way through the story." Brock explained. "While yes, you do have a type advantage using a Thunder elemental character against a Water elemental boss, a lot of his moveset is Snow elemental--so you may want to try a Fire elemental character like Asahi--Ash's main."

"Oh, the phoenix guy?" Roy smiled as he highlighted a young man in a red, gold, and orange costume that evoked Moltres on the massive roster of characters. "Sure, I'll give him a try--will play with him in training mode a bit before I try him in the campaign."

"Let me know how it goes!" Ash called over from the Q*bert machine, where he hopped on a disc to send Coily falling off the stage. "I wonder how the machine makes the crash noise..."

"It's actually a pinball flipper in the cabinet that makes the crash noise when you lure Coily off the stage." Brock explained.

"I always wondered how the machine did that..." Misty agreed before telling Brock "I'm gonna see what cabinets are open--we'll meet up back at the snack bar later."

She found Liko at the Tetris machine some time later. "How goes the game?"

"This is a little different than the Game Boy version I remember..." Liko mused as she focused on the falling blocks on her screen. "I've only been able to reach Level 4 so far..."

"Still, that's pretty good for one attempt." Misty assured Liko. "If you get hungry or thirsty, there's a snack bar near this area." She pointed out the blinking 1-up mushroom and green letters that spelled "1-up Treats" "You can get snacks, drinks or small meals, like hot dogs, burgers, Combusken tenders, and on Fridays, you can get pizza!"

"Pizza sounds wonderful!" Liko smiled as she entered "LCM" on the high score list, then hopped down to the floor from the stool. "Are there other specials for the other days of the week?"

"There sure are!" an employee assured Liko as she updated the menu with the daily special. "Today's special is the Super Sonic Chili Dog--bring your appetite for this one!"

Roy happened to notice the snack bar's daily special had updated. "Looks amazing! I'll take one!" he called as he hurried to make his order.

"I could use some food after all that dancing..." Dawn agreed as she and May arrived at a table near where Misty was admiring the neon light show providing ambiance.

"Best day off ever!" Serena proclaimed as she too hurried to get in line for the snack bar.

Misty mentally debated getting some food for herself, but the more she stared at the 80's influenced pictures of the menu, the hungrier she felt. "Okay...I guess I'll get a bite to eat before we get back in the game." she admitted before getting in line...
 
Episode 51: Jade Dragon and Golden Raikou Take the Stage


"Ready to go?" Brock smiled as he emerged from the dressing room in an elegant orange, yellow and gold costume with black trim.

"As I'll ever be." Misty replied as she accepted a pair of twinblades from the fight crew that matched her ornate green, blue, and gold costume that evoked flowing water. "Everyone's been looking forward to 'The Flight to Jade Mountain' ever since it was first announced--no matter how many times the two of us play these characters, they never get old."

Brock nodded as he accepted a glittering gold, yellow and orange bow with matching gold-orange fletched arrows. "Let's show any newcomers in the audience why Jade Dragon and Golden Raikou are some of our best known roles." He let that hang as he slung the bow and the quiver of arrows on his back.

Misty couldn't help but smile when she heard a familiar bansi play a heroic riff on the F major scale. "Yes, Ash, we'd never forget you--where Jade Dragon and Golden Raikou are, Scarlet Phoenix is not far behind." she mused, admiring Ash's red, orange and gold warrior costume that evoked flames.

"Granted, he doesn't technically debut until book 3, but how the writers put him in the stage versions of book 1 and book 2 made it feel like he's meant to be in those tales all along." Ash smiled as he put the well loved flute with phoenix designs away long enough to receive a familiar one handed sword from the fight crew.

"Thank you..." Serena acknowledged a costume crew member with a nod as she carefully slipped on a pair of lavender tinged Delphox ears to complete her purple, blue, and silver costume. "Where Scarlet Phoenix is, Violet Delphox is not far behind!" she giggled, making Ash chuckle in agreement.

"Don't they have their own spin off book series?" May asked as a costume crew member carefully attached a pair of glittering white crystal Beautifly wings to the back of her silvery costume.

"Yes! After both Scarlet Phoenix and Violet Delphox debuted in book 3, fans loved them so much, they got their own series in addition to helping Jade Dragon and Golden Raikou out in the main series." Brock replied, admiring both the tiny rainbows May's costume was projecting into the wings and Dawn's beautiful green and gold outfit with pink accents. "Are those Cheri blossoms?" he asked.

Dawn nodded. "Liko's idea--she felt it would look nice with Cheri blossom designs, considering my character's role in the story."

She looked over to see Roy getting a pair of knuckles to match his elegant sunset inspired costume, while Liko, wearing an elegant silver, green, and purple costume with her green crystal heart necklace to match. "There's Liko and Roy...everyone's here."

Just then, Brock saw the lights in the huge theater flash the five minute warning as the last few people found their seats. "Five minutes--it's cheer time."

"Let's do this!" Roy agreed as the group put their hands together in a pile,

After a few tense seconds, the group unleashed their traditional good luck cheer. "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-ga-YOU!!!"

---------

"...but on one stormy night, Jade Dragon's and Golden Raikou's quiet evening at home was interrupted by a pair of travelers--and their request would set another grand adventure into motion..." the narrator concluded over the last notes of the play's overture.

The lights came up on a set of an ornate ancient Wakunese house, complete with a lighting effect of "rain" projected on the stage floor. Brock was already present on the stage, pretending to sweep the kitchen area of the set ."After a long day of helping the townsfolk with their troubles, it's good to come home to a warm pot of tea..." Misty began as she arrived onstage with a familiar blue-green prop teapot.

"That it is..." Brock agreed as he looked over his imagined work. "At least the kitchen is clean in case we have any guests this evening." he mused as he put the prop broom away. "But to my knowledge, we're not expecting anyone this late."

"Unless a miko happens to stop here, or someone was unlucky enough to be caught in this storm." Misty agreed as she led Brock into the living room area of the set, revealing tea utensils already in place on a small table and a familiar vina with gold inlaywork on one of the walls. "But let it never be said that Jade Dragon and Golden Raikou turned away a traveler in need."

A knock from offstage got her attention. "Speak of Darkrai..."

"Go ahead and get the tea ready--I'll see to it that if that was a guest, that they are welcomed and made comfortable for the night." Brock assured Misty before departing to the entry area of the set, allowing Misty to feign preparing tea for a few moments.

After a few moments, Brock returned with Liko and Roy not far behind. "These two are Silver Braviary and Amber Mightyena." he explained as Liko and Roy made themselves comfortable on the ornate rug in the living room area of the set "Amber Mightyena believes that your home clan on Jade Mountain can protect Silver Braviary from the Dark Earth Sect."

"Why would you need to travel to Jade Mountain in weather like this?" Misty asked Liko as she gave her a prop teacup filled with citrus tea infused with honey.

Liko took a sip of her tea, then told Misty. "I believe the Water Dragon clan would be able to help me find out the truth about my Jade Heart Pendant..."

"See, Silver Braviary inherited her pendant as a final gift from her mother, before she joined Arceus in heaven after a long illness." Roy explained over a gentle interlude from the orchestra. "Her last request was for Silver Braviary to travel to the Jade Mountain, where the Water Dragons would reveal its secrets to her. I don't know what powers are in that simple jade heart, but it has all the evil sects on alert, and I don't know if my Golden Thunder Fist will be enough to protect her on the long journey to the mountain..."
 
Episode 52: Plays, Places, and People


"It is a question often asked by villains in many a martial arts novel or drama, and on the Tawame stage--what harm is there in awakening the spirits? But as the villains of the Kagayou's latest play find out, you don't want to mess with the legendary Eight Spirits! I'm Fern Kendall, and this is 'Places and People'." a black haired DJ began before the show's theme song started.

After the theme song played for a few minutes, Fern spoke again. "Hello, and welcome to 'Places and People'--I'm your host, Fern Kendall. This week, we join Kagayou stars Misty, Brock, and Serena to get a sneak peek of the Niji Troupe's newest play, appropriately called 'What Harm Is There in Awakening the Spirits?'."

"The short answer? Plenty, if you have an evil heart." Misty grinned, making Fern and some of the crew laugh in agreement.

"That's the too long, didn't read answer." Brock agreed as he fine tuned a familiar black acoustic-electric guitar in the group's half of the studio. "If you want the much longer answer, come see the show!"

Even Fern smiled at Brock's reply. "At any rate, can you guys give a 'too long, didn't read' overview of the play's plot?"

"Basically, a greedy landowner with connections to some evil sects wants a lady's family fields, because he believes there's a jade mine there." Misty explained. "However, said greedy landowner and his evil sect cronies don't expect the Eight Spirits to intervene and save the day!"

"It goes without saying that everyone is fighting fit and ready?" Fern smiled.

Serena nodded. "Without giving too much away, May and Brock have some highlights, but Liko and Roy have some shining moments too."

"Liko actually has a beautiful number promising the lady that the Eight Spirits will do everything they can to save her family and their land." Brock explained. "It's called 'A Promise From My Heart'--which references the lucky heart necklace she always wears when she is rehearsing and performing." He let that hang as he played a few measures of the song in question.

"That is a beautiful melody..." Fern smiled before addressing Serena. "What role does Golden Delphox play in the story without giving too much away?"

"Like Amethyst Braviary, Golden Delphox uses her comic ability to encourage the lady, keep morale high, and dispatch bad guys with a smile." Serena replied. "There were actually some good jokes in the script this time--but I couldn't resist adding in some of my own jokes!"

"That pun on 'jaded' had us all laughing during rehearsal." Misty agreed as she savored a memory. "But this is why your comedy works--you never let a gag wear out its welcome. Audiences do like when you take a gag to its logical extreme, though."

"Granted, I don't stretch the pun on 'jaded' out that far, but I do have a few iterations on the same joke throughout the show." Serena assured Misty. "So the joke only comes out when it's needed most!"

"Even though your partner isn't here, is it safe to assume that Ash will fly at some point doing the show?" Fern asked Serena.

Serena nodded. "He does perform the fireball during the show, but that would spoil the ending. Like every time he does the Sonic or the Fireball, he practices it until he can make the jump perfectly every time."

"The move gets its name because Ash kinda resembles Sonic the Zoroark charging up for a spin dash as he rockets down to a trampoline and then up to a high cliff or a tower." Brock explained over some heroic chords. "The Fireball is the phoenix born variant, since all the reds, oranges, and golds in a lot of his phoenix costumes have it appear Ash is made from literal fire."

"He is in safety gear, has a catch tether, and an army of spotters watching him in the background and in the air--even though the audience doesn't usually see them." Misty continued. "So if something does go wrong, the catch tether will catch him and hold him in place, then a spotter will rescue him and get him to safety."

"Once the catch tether deploys, you're not going anywhere." Serena explained. "You can roll into a comfortable position, but you're not falling--and they work no matter how high up you are."

"I take it that is the voice of experience?" Fern asked, to chuckles from Misty and Brock.

"I've fallen off more beams and poles than I care to admit..." Serena replied. "Thank Arceus for the catch tether!"

"I can attest that they work myself." Brock began over some uneasy chords. "For one particular play, the climax involves my character jumping across a chasm to reach the villain. Even though the chasm onstage is not as deep as the villain says it is in play, I put on a catch tether just in case, as I always do if I have to do stunts like this. But for some reason, I misjudge how much of a running start I need to make it across, and the catch tether thankfully deploys before I can fall into the middle of the pit. So I just call to the spotters 'Thank you, catch tether!'"--so they know I'm okay, and can safely hoist me out onto solid ground again. The good news is, I managed to get the jump right opening night."

"As the saying goes, bad dress rehearsal, good opening night." Fern agreed before addressing Misty. "While we're on the subject of rehearsals, what is it like when you rehearse a play like this?"

"It is a lot more work than your average school play or Western musical." Misty replied. "Depending on what role you are playing, and what that role has to do in the play, you may have as much as five or six different training sessions in one day...
 
Episode 53: Song of the Sacred Phoenix

Backstage, Ash watched from the wings as May, as Princess Golden Beautifly, angrily refused Black Ghost's ultimatum to marry him or die in a song of fury. "This is definitely a different side of May..." Brock admitted. "Although she tends to play sweet and softspoken characters, she is a little bit like you--and not afraid to show off her heroic side when it counts."

Ash nodded in agreement. "She's doing great not letting her real life emotions take over while singing the song--unlike how I broke down in tears while rehearsing my big number in Act 2..."

---------

...Now if my voice should reach you, and my song should touch your heart,
I hope it heals all of your grief and pain... Ash sang from a piece of sheet music as Rona played accompaniment on a well loved red-brown piano in a private rehearsal room.

Then if you hear Him calling you to go and do the same,
Go forth, and heal the world through your song!

He suddenly felt tears welling up in his eyes, but did his best to fight them back and power through the two final choruses. When you're in despair, and the rain falls,
I will... This was as far as he got before breaking down in tears.

"What's the matter, Ash?" Rona asked as she stopped playing, concerned about the tears streaming down her lead actor's face.

Ash composed himself. "Sorry...this song is so beautiful, I couldn't help but shed a few real tears."

Rona just smiled. "That's the kind of tears the Tawame theater is known for--not tears of drama and despair, but tears over something so beautiful, so amazing, so inspiring, that even the actors can't help but cry a little."

She offered Ash a Kleenex box. "Do you think you can continue, or should we work on a different song?"

"I think I can continue." Ash replied as he wiped the tears from his eyes, then retrieved his sheet music. "Where should we start?"

"Let's try the song's final choruses again." Rona began as she played an expectant F chord. "Remember, this is the big power moment of the song, so make it good."

With that, she played the few measures leading up to the final choruses to give Ash an introduction. When you're in despair, and the rain falls,
I will sing, and summon forth the sun! Ash sang, this time with more confidence.
I will sing of dreams, and what could be
I'll be right here by your side,
Singing a song of hope, ah...

When the sun rises, and lights the world,
That is when all our dreams come true!
I'll be by your side, protecting you
I will sing a song for you,
A song to touch your heart!

Rona smiled as she played the song's ending. "Very good! Can you maintain that kind of power when you have the orchestra backing you?"

"I think so...although...can you have one of the stage ninjas have a box of Kleenex ready opening night...just in case?" Ash asked.

"I'll see what I can do." Rona replied. "Now, are we ready to try the whole thing with the piano before we go back to the stage and block the song?"

"Yeah...let's take it from the top." Ash smiled, flipping his sheet music back to the start of the song...


---------

...thankfully, the second time around I was able to make it through the song without crying." Ash concluded his story some time later. "And so far, I haven't broken down with the orchestra and you guys on the stage."

Brock heard a dramatic sting on the stage, signalling that May's character was about to "transform" into a Beautifly and flee the palace. "Well, remember that your big number is pivotal to Act 2--Sacred Phoenix is also processing Princess Golden Beautifly's predicament, plus he is assuring her that he stands ready to help her on the quest to find and free her parents."

Ash nodded. "Okay...see you in a few minutes." With that, he turned and watched as May defiantly sang, with smoke and light hiding the trapdoor taking her below the stage:

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


When the rumbling, smoke and light faded some moments later, the orchestra played a triumphant flourish as a beautiful gold Beautifly puppet appeared where May was standing seconds before! The audience's cheers were just as enthusiastic as the puppet's three performers made it "fly" elegantly offstage, leaving the actor playing Black Ghost and the extras playing soldiers to gawk in amazement...

---------

"Princess Golden Beautifly flew as fast as she could away from the palace." the narrator explained as the Beautifly puppet "flew" across the darkened stage. "She eventually came to a plain in the east of the realm, where her beloved waited for her."

The lights came up on Ash on the set of a plain, with a few trees and "rain" in the background. The puppet's arrival made him balk in amazement as it "disappeared" in a plume of gold smoke and light, revealing May in her glittering gold costume again. "Your Grace...are you all right?" he asked as he led May to a rock.

"I am well, but I can't say likewise to my father and mother..." May sighed. "Black Ghost has taken them prisoner, and proclaimed himself Emperor! But I will never bow before, or marry, someone like him!"

"Do you know where Black Ghost's men have taken the true Emperor and Empress?" Ash asked.

"All I know is that they are hidden somewhere in the realm, in places well guarded with monsters and traps." May replied. "But that means I have no idea where to begin looking for them!"

She sighed. "What do we do now? We can't go back to the palace...and I will not let Black Ghost destroy this beautiful realm, and oppress the people!"

With that, she covered her face with her hands in feigned frustration as the orchestra played the introduction to Ash's song. Let us take the time to grieve, let the tears begin to fall,
Down upon the earth like rain, until it becomes the sea...
Ash sang as he walked across the stage, stopping at the rock May was sitting on.

He then looked at May. One day we will look back, and reflect upon this day.
We'll remember that we loved, then we'll let that love run free!

Let our love shine on, through the mist of many years,
Deep inside my heart, is the hope that's roamed everywhere!


He then looked out at the audience. When you're in despair, and the rain falls,
I will sing, and summon forth the sun!
As if on cue, the "rain" dissipated, and the set's "sky" became a colorful sunrise!

I will sing of dreams, and what could be
I'll be right here by your side,
Singing a song of hope...


Ash next set down next to May, spurring her to look at him in feigned sadness. On those nights without a moon, and you're waiting all alone,
You can come and stay with me, I won't even ask you why.

Beautifly, awake! It's the miracle of life!
The circle of life, it goes on...and it will endure!

When the sun rises, and lights the world,
That is when all our dreams come true!
I'll be by your side, protecting you
I will sing a song for you,
A song to touch your heart!


A smile formed on May's face as Ash started the song's bridge. Now if my voice should reach you, and my song should touch your heart,
I hope it heals all of your grief and pain.
Then if you hear Him calling you to go and do the same,
Go forth, and heal the world through your song!


Ash looked out on the audience again, and unleashed the final two choruses. When you're in despair, and the rain falls,
I will sing, and summon forth the sun!
I will sing of dreams, and what could be
I'll be right here by your side,
Singing a song of hope, ah...

When the sun rises, and lights the world,
That is when all our dreams come true!
I'll be by your side, protecting you
I will sing a song for you,
A song to touch your heart!


As the song ended, the audience roared with applause as the lights went down. But for Ash, a sense of relief filled his heart as a stage ninja discretely brought him a Kleenex box. I did it, Rona--I saved my tears for the end! he thought as he wiped a few tears from his eyes, then composed himself for the play's next scene...
 
Episode 54: Eight Spirits Surpass a Dark Ambition


Excited chatter filled the air as the group convened in an acting practice room to rehearse a few key scenes of the play "Surpassing a Strong Ambition". "All right..." Rona began as she arrived in the large and spacious room. "Before we rehearse with the full troupe onstage, let's go over a few key scenes with the Eight Spirits for today."

"Right!" the group chorused.

Rona motioned for the group to huddle around her. "If everyone would turn to scene 3 in Act 1, please?"

Some ruffling filled the air as the group turned to the scene in question in their scripts. "Now...at this point in the play, the group doesn't know Taki and Oichi have fled, but they do know that Nobunaga has invaded Nijimachi looking for them--this sets up for later in the scene, when Taki and Oichi do arrive in the valley."

"I take it we're not doing the Taki and Oichi part today?" Roy wondered. "I didn't see Anya or Noelle come in with us..."

"Noelle told me earlier that they'll be here as soon as they finish fight training in the dojo." Dawn assured Roy. "So we'll probably go over the part where Taki and Oichi arrive in the Verdant Jade Valley."

"I'm sure Noelle's experience playing Princess Yumi helped her get the role of Oichi." Brock smiled. "I'm excited to see how her bow skill has improved since we last performed 'Princess Yumi Subdues the Demon'..."

"For the moment, let's go over the first part of the scene, where the Eight Spirits reflect on what happened in the previous scene." Rona explained. "For context, Scene 2 is Nobunaga's attack on the town of Nijimachi in the dead of night. In all the chaos, Taki and Oichi manage to successfully flee, in hopes of alerting the Eight Spirits that Nobunaga is on the move--and they need their help to potentially stave off a war."

She motioned to May. "So May, if you would start right after the end of the narration setting the scene?"

May nodded. "It is as I feared--another village was attacked in the middle of the night."

"The good news is, the girl fated to bring down Nobunaga and her dearest companion escaped the flames and chaos." Liko assured May. "However, the seeing crystal didn't show me where they are now."

"So, where are they, Braviary-san?" May asked.

"No matter where they are, I'm sure they will find their way here to the valley before long." Liko smiled in character. "Once they do arrive here, the prophecy of Nobunaga's downfall will be set into motion."

"Upon the day the sky is thick with water, the hero of many colors shall mark the downfall of the black Pyroar, and the restoration of balance in Waku." Serena quoted the play's prophecy as she joined May and Liko at the center of the room. "We know that the black Pyroar is Nobunaga, as that is the emblem on his banner, and the shields of his men..."

"...but here is what has confounded me and so many others in interpreting Summer Grace-sama's prophecy, Delphox-san..." Liko explained. "Who is the hero of many colors, and why are they named as such?"

"Summer Grace has confirmed that the hero is Taki, but even I am not sure why she is 'the hero of many colors'." Serena admitted. "The obvious answer is that she will master all the colors of magic..."

"Ah, but remember the cardinal rule of prophecy, everyone--the obvious answer may not necessarily be the true one." Brock interjected as he also arrived in the stage area. "So allow me to present my own theory: the 'many colors' does not refer to human skill and ability, but the many skills and abilities of a Pokemon."

The lightbulb went off in Serena's head. "That's right, Taki has an Eevee as her partner!"

"And we all know that Eevee is capable of evolving into many different forms." Liko agreed. "In essence, each form is a color of magic--Vaporeon channels the blue water, Jolteon the golden thunder, Flareon the red flame, and so on. So Raikou-san's theory does have some evidence."

"The only way to know for sure if Raikou-san's theory is correct was for Taki and Oichi to arrive here." May smiled.

"All right, and scene!" Rona called as she gently waved Ash out of the stage area. "You four did very well with this scene, even though we don't have a seeing crystal prop just yet. I especially like how well you conveyed your characters' emotions without it becoming panic, terror, or melodrama."

"I didn't overdo Golden Delphox's excitement over Emerald Raikou's theory?" Serena asked. "I wanted to sell her excitement that Emerald Raikou's theory is a plausible interpretation of a key part of the prophecy..."

"You did well with that for the most part--just remember not to have it veer into melodrama." Rona gently reminded Serena. "We'll work on the next part of the scene once Anya and Noelle are here..."

With Rona occupied with discussing May and Liko's part of the scene, Ash met Serena in another part of the room. "I think I have the Fletching warning call down with the signalling whistle..."

"Well, using the same hand cupping techniques as a harmonica helps give the sound more realism." Serena assured Ash. "So gripping the whistle like a harmonica will make your signal in the next part of the scene more realistic."

"Pity I don't have the Fletchling signal with me..." Ash sighed. "I wouldn't mind trying out the harmonica grip with the call before we try it in the scene.

"We'll just use a tin whistle trill as your signal for now..." Rona assured Ash. "The signalling whistle would be a bit loud in this room..."

"I can do that!" Ash smiled as he fished a familiar silver tin whistle with a green mouthpiece from a pocket in his training garb. "Let me know when we're ready to try the signal!"
 
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Episode 55: The Beautifly Lady and the Princess


The costume fitting area buzzed with excited chatter as the members of the Niji Troupe gathered to receive their costumes for a production of "The Legend of the Beautifly Lady". Roy was already in the common area in a gold, pale yellow, and black fighter's costume with Mightyena designs. "How do I look?" he smiled as Brock emerged from the fitting area in a majestic green, pale green and gold robe with emerald studs.

"You look perfect, Golden Mightyena." Brock smiled as he accepted a familiar vina from a prop crew member. "Has Liko gotten her costume yet?"

"Not yet--she's still waiting her turn." Roy replied as he watched Serena make her way inside the fitting room. "I'm excited to see her as the princess!"

"I had an idea for some pictures...you and Liko together, and then my character serenading Liko in an imagined garden." Brock explained. "But Princess Silver Light does more than just sit there in a prison cell for the whole play--she is actively helping all of us."

"Kinda like Peach helps Mario in Paper Mario 64? I can always dig that." Roy grinned as Serena emerged in a beautiful yellow, orange, and gold robe and some costume Delphox ears. "Since my character is Princess Silver Light's most trusted bodyguard, it makes sense she help him rescue her."

He smiled as Dawn emerged in a lovely silver costume with purple and dull green trim. "Lookin' good, there!"

"Thanks!" Dawn smiled. "Once Misty's in costume, May's next, and then Liko will get her costume--so you shouldn't have to wait too much longer to see Liko as Princess Silver Light." She let that hang as Misty emerged in a pale blue outfit with royal blue trim and silver dragon designs.

"Okay, I need Jeweled Beautifly, please!" Roy heard the chief costume designer call.

"This is it--the lead role's costume!" Roy smiled. "I can't wait to see what May will look like!"

After a few tense moments, May emerged from the fitting room in a majestic green, blue, and lavender costume. "Whoa, that's beautiful!"

May was about to answer when she heard "Okay, I need Princess Silver Light, please!" in the chaos of excited chatter and awed gasps and cheers when someone emerged from a fitting room. "To be honest, I'm excited to see Liko in costume too."

"Did Ash get his costume yet?" Misty wondered.

She smiled when she saw Ash approaching in a majestic red-orange robe with gold trim, playing an equally beautiful bansi with phoenix designs. "Wow, you look great!"

"Thanks..." Ash smiled before pocketing his instrument in a hidden pocket near the belt. "If you ever wonder how I always manage to produce a flute to play on just when I need one, the costume crew puts hidden pockets somewhere on all my costumes. This way, I know where to find my instrument when it's time to play it."

"That is clever--seeing the audience's reactions when you produce la flauta wakunesa from thin air is just priceless!" Roy smiled at a memory.

About then, Liko emerged from the fitting area in a majestic teal, purple, and silver costume, complete with a teal and silver headdress. The others knelt down in respect. "Princess, I stand ready to serve you." Roy began, quoting one of his lines from Act 1.

Liko couldn't help giggling at the show of respect before her. "Aw, thanks! This is actually very comfortable..."

"A photo op with the princess and her bodyguard, now that our stars have their costumes?" Rona asked as she approached with a camera.

After posing for a picture with Liko, Roy mused "A PokeNav or phone camera's nice for a candid shot, but when you wanna get a picture for something important--like program or promo pictures--it's still a good idea to keep a camera around."

"You're right...most of these pictures will go in the program and be used for promotion, so let's get some in character shots." Rona suggested before shepherding the group around her. "Now that you all have your costumes, we will rehearse in costume for the next two weeks, going through as much of the play as we can each time. We will have two dress rehearsals the following week, and then open on Friday."

"Right!" the group replied as Rona went to retrieve her camera.

After getting a shot of the group together, Brock remembered his vina, then started playing a majestic melody as Liko listened. The intimate scene of a princess and her bodyguard listening to a court musician was interrupted by the occasional flash of Rona snapping pictures of Roy standing guard with a vigilant but gentle smile. Next, she got some shots of Liko smiling as she listened to the beautiful melody Brock performed, and some action mode shots of Brock's fingers flying across the vina's strings.

Once happy with her pictures of the performance, Rona next went to get some pictures of May in character as Jeweled Beautifly...
 
Episode 56: Displaying Our Bonds As Stars


The readthrough room buzzed with excitement as the Niji Troupe convened for a readthrough of their latest play--the mystery martial arts adventure "Displaying the Jewel of Light" "I'm kinda glad this play doesn't start out with the jewel being stolen, but after our characters--the Eight Stars of Chrysanthemum City--arrive to figure out why the jewel was taken, and bring whoever did it to justice."

"Sometimes a mystery is more effective when you piece together the backstory rather than letting the audience see it first Ash agreed as he found a place at the table. "This way, the audience is solving the mystery along with the characters. Besides, 'Detective Pikachu' does that all the time!"

"Lady Jade Mist seems like an interesting character..." Dawn smiled as she paged through the first scene of Act 1. "She doesn't seem like the questgiver character that's only there to tell us to solve the mystery, then isn't seen again until the play's finale..."

"Yeah--she's helping us every step of the way, even if we don't really see her till the end." Ash agreed.

May, meanwhile, was studying the first few scenes of Act 1 very carefully. "Sapphire Blossom seems like a girl version of someone Ash would play..."

"...but I believe you can play her well." Ash assured May. "You've done well playing sweet yet strong characters before, so you should have no issue with this character!"

Gentle laughter alerted Ash that Rona had arrived. "I gave May the role of Sapphire Blossom to challenge her in a sweet and yet strong role. But I know well you'll be there to help guide her in getting the strength part down."

With that, she addressed the other members of the troupe in the room. "Okay, everyone...has everyone had a chance to read over the entire play?"

When affirmative murmurs met her question, she next asked "Is there any scene you don't understand, or anything about your character you're struggling with?"

"I have a question about the play's first scene..." Serena replied. "When our characters arrive in the Hall of Light, how long has it been in play since the Jewel of Light was taken?"

"Lady Jade Mist tells you it has been five days since the jewel went missing." Rona replied. "Your characters are magistrates of the Emperor, but they don't begin interrogating Lady Jade Mist. Keep your questioning as if you are trying to help her."

"Like if a friend's going through a bad time, and you're trying to understand what happened so you know how best to help?" Dawn suggested.

"Exactly!" Rona smiled. "Through your questions, you discover that Lady Jade Mist was never involved in what the bad guys did--she is an innocent, and wants to do what she can to get back her family treasure."

"Good--the whole trope of 'the questgiver was actually the villain, or had something to do with the villains' is SO annoying..." Misty heaved a relieved sigh. "Granted, that trope can be done well, but far too many TV dramas and plays do it very wrong."

"Example of it being done well--'Chambers and Charizards The Movie: Honor Among Thieves'." Brock agreed, to a knowing smile from Misty as she savored a memory of the movie in question.

He turned his attention back to the script. "So, when do we figure out Bright Scyther and his men did it?"

"You learn this at the start of Act 1, after overhearing a conversation in the marketplace." Rona replied. "That sets the chase to catch Bright Scyther and get back the Jewel of Light into motion."

"Do we ever learn why Bright Scyther wanted the jewel?" May asked.

"He merely wants it for his own glory, and he has been jealous of the Shining Mist Family for years before the play begins." Rona explained. "So a few days before Lady Jade Mist unveils the Jewel of Light to the people of the city in honor of the Emperor's birthday, he steals it, in hopes it will bring him the honor and glory he has longed for."

"I can understand why he would want to do that..." Roy mused as he studied Bright Scyther's song in Act 1 telling the audience his backstory. "If I had to spend a lifetime struggling to survive in the slums of a city, of course I would wanna steal something rare and valuable, in hopes of a better life for my family. But playing bad guys is not really my thing--unless its a funny bad guy!"

"You playing a funny bad guy would be different..." Liko admitted. "But depending on what kind of a funny bad guy it is, you could make it work!"

Rona smiled. "If there's a funny villain in the next play we do, Roy, you're welcome to audition for that part."

"Remember when Nemona guest starred with us?" Dawn reminded Roy. "That's the kind of funny but dangerous bad guy I want to see you try to play."

"Believe me, I remember Orange Day-lily..." Roy smiled at a memory. "Nemona's performance was all the fans and the critics could talk about!"

"Just what does the Jewel of Light actually DO?" Brock asked, getting the conversation back on topic. "Or is it just a rare artifact that just very shiny, and doesn't do anything?"

"That's part of the comedy--it is a valuable object, but doesn't have powers." Rona explained. "Bright Scyther wants to own it in hopes of getting honor and glory..."
 
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Episode 57: Previewing the Taillow's Adventure


"So our next play is called 'Taillow Flies to Gentle Bright Mountain'..." Misty mused as she joined the others in the common area for the actors' quarters, a script in one hand. "Judging from this script, I see a lot of comedy potential for Serena..."

"I looked at the script online already--May would easily be a shoo-in for the lead!" Ash smiled.

"Okay..." May mused as she brought up the online version of the script on a PC. "The show tells the story of Ancient Taillow, who is tasked with bringing the Blessed Blossom Token to Gentle Bright Mountain for a sacred ceremony. But when the evil sects of the martial world will go to any lengths to take the token, Ancient Taillow befriends the crafty Glorious Delphox--but will Glorious Delphox's clever idea for keeping evil off of Ancient Taillow's trail be enough to reach the mountain?"

She smiled. "I think I could pull off Ancient Taillow easily!"

"...and I look forward to playing Glorious Delphox alongside you, May." Serena agreed as she arrived with a copy of the script for herself. "There's so much comic potential in here--particularly all the dungeons gone wrong scenes to find the fake tokens. Maybe once Brock is done auditioning, he can tell us more about the play, and what to prepare for the audition."

"If he is trying out for Sacred Raikou, I want to try out for Blessed Dragon." Misty smiled. "Any combo of dragon-born and Raikou-born seems enjoyable to play, and I'm intrigued by this pair."

"I want to try out for Victorious Braviary, so I can practice playing confident characters." Liko smiled. "Once Brock's done with his audition, it'll be my turn, and then Roy will go in to audition later."

"Has he said what role he wants?" May wondered.

"He hinted that he wants Great Mightyena, but I think he'll do fine wherever Rona casts him." Liko replied. "After studying the script, I love the premise that the Delphox-born character throws the evil sects off our trail with fake versions of the item they want--that seems perfect for Serena!"

Serena nodded. "I go in after you're done with your audition, actually..."

Just then, Brock arrived in the room. "Okay, Liko--the audition room's ready for you!"

"I'm on my way!" With that, Liko gathered up some papers and sheet music, then hurried off down the hall as Brock made himself comfortable at the table where the others were gathered.

"How do you think you did?" Misty asked.

"I think I did fairly well..." Brock replied. "No different from any other audition we've done at this point--your choice of reading a scene from a play with Rona or her assistants, or a monologue, and sing a song of your choice. Granted, I don't mind doing monologues, but I find it easier to read a scene, because it mimics a stage scenario."

"Yeah...you don't have to prepare too much if you're just reading a scene." Serena agreed. "Did you have a particular role in mind, or are you just trying for anything?"

"Sacred Raikou is an appealing role--particularly if Misty gets Blessed Dragon." Brock explained. "But I will happily play whatever role Rona asks me to play--or narrate the play, if she thinks I would do better there."

He smiled as he perused the play's script again. "So, aside from me, Liko, Roy, and Serena, who's auditioned already, and who hasn't auditioned yet?"

"Ash hasn't auditioned yet, and I haven't auditioned yet." Misty replied. "May hasn't auditioned yet, but Dawn has auditioned."

"I already know I want to try out for Ancient Taillow..." May smiled. "If only for the repartee with Serena! Swordfighting scenes are always fun to do with the right opponent."

"Well, if a character uses a style you haven't seen before, I'll always be happy to duel." Ash assured May before studying his own copy of the script. "Or we can duel any time the dojo is open."

"Friendly match after we're both done auditioning?" May asked. "So I can keep my skills sharp for the new play?"

"You're on!" Ash replied.

"Got any ideas as to which role you want, Ash?" Brock asked. "I have three guesses as to which role you might try for, and the first two don't count!"

"Of course I'm gonna try for Divine Phoenix!" Ash smiled back. "I listened to some of his flute solos while I read the play over the weekend, and he plays some tunes I've never played before--so if I get the part, it gives me a chance to grow my repertoire with some new solos!"

"Who did Dawn try out for, again?" May wondered.

"She tried out for Verdant Deerling, Ancient Taillow's companion." Misty replied. "I think she might get it--the two of you already have a beautiful real life friendship, so that sells any pair of best friends the two of you play."

She went on "Once auditions are over, we should have the parts posted after a few days, and the readthrough a day or two after that."

"These characters aren't going to be hard to cast...Glorious Delphox reminds me of Kitsune in many ways, so if I keep that in mind as I audition, I should be able to get it."

Just them, Liko emerged from the hallway. "Rona's ready for you, Serena." she began as she set aside her monologue script and her sheet music on the table."

"I'll be right there." Serena replied before disappearing down the hall. "See you guys in a bit!"
 
Episode 58: Raikou and Buneary Take the Stage


"Ready?" May asked as she emerged from a dressing room in a flowing red and orange warrior costume that evoked a Combusken.

Dawn emerged in a sparkling white robe with a Buneary ear headband and sparkling silver tail to match. "Although we've done 'The Legend of Susanoo' many times, I feel my role as Yumigami is as good as I can get it for this time."

"It it still a little bit of a challenge to play Gekigami--a balancing act between boldness and yet gentleness." Brock replied as he emerged in a majestic gold, purple, and blue robe that evoked Raikou. After accepting a golden bow with thunderbolt decor and a quiver full of 30 matching prop arrows from a prop crew member, he addressed May and Dawn. "You guys give your all for these roles no matter how many times we do this play, so I'm sure you'll do fine this time, too."

Some applause filled the air, snapping the group to attention. "Seems Serena's done with her introduction for the kids...showtime." Brock smiled. "We have some time to kill before any of us go on, though."

Piqued, Dawn tiptoed into the wings, where Serena was setting the scene for the opening. "...So after bidding his sister Amaterasu farewell, Susanoo embarked on a great journey across the mortal realm, looking for yokai to slay, and to see if the mortals were still being faithful and kind."

The orchestra's song turned foreboding. "One day, Susanoo came to a village somewhere in what is today Kanto." Serena--wearing a majestic red, orange and gold robe and prop Delphox ears--explained to the audience of excited children as Ash--wearing dull red traditional Wakunese warrior's garb--arrived on a set of an ancient village. "But he noticed that many in the village cried, and decided to ask the village elder about what sort of calamity had occurred..." She let that hang as her spotlight went out, and Ash went inside the largest house on the village set, revealing another set of a large ancient Wakunese house.

"Thank you, good sir, for hosting me..." Ash began as he met an actor playing the elder. "But something puzzles me...why do your people cry? What misfortune has befallen them?"

"It is a grave misfortune instead, noble warrior." the actor playing the elder explained. "For many years, our town has been plagued by a terrifying monster..."

Dawn decided to return to the backstage area some moments later. "No matter how many plays we do, I'm still startled over when the bansi announces the main villain, even when I know it's coming..."

A loud note from the orchestra pit made her jump in surprise. "Wow--that's loud..." she muttered. "Well, Orochi just got his scream..."

"Even when you're used to it, it can still surprise you..." Brock assured Dawn, aware of the orchestra playing an interlude out onstage.

"We may have done this play before, but I still can't wait to see your scene!" Dawn smiled, aware of Ash and a female actor singing an exciting song about their characters' bonds with each other.

Brock smiled as the song ended to some applause. "I can assure you Gekigami and Susanoo have a few exciting scenes together." He let that hang as onstage, the actress playing Amaterasu instructed Ash on what to do next...

---------

Some time later, the orchestra played a tense melody as Ash arrived on a set of a cloudy landscape. "When Itegami said this place was known as the Thundering Hills, he wasn't kidding! The clouds here look ready to burst with rain!" he mused as "thunder" rolled in the distance. "That, and it is humid...the Raikou, Gekigami must be out hunting today..."

As if on cue, a gold arrow zipped over Ash's head, spurring him to duck. "A thunderbolt..."

A growl spurred him to turn around--only to look right into the eyes of a raiju puppet! "YIPE!"

"Quickly, noble Susanoo!" Brock called from a spotlight. "Hide here in this cloud, so the raiju can't harm you!"

"Okay!" Ash quickly dove into an alcove on the set, rendering him hidden behind a prop cloud.

Dawn's eyes turned to stars as Brock effortlessly backflipped away from the Growlithe-like monster puppet, fired another golden arrow, than jumped away on top of a cloud spire. Wow! No matter how many times Brock does a fight scene, it's amazing to watch!

After his next shot went towards the left, Brock jumped to avoid the puppet, then delivered a fatal blow to the puppet, turning the cloud set sunny again. "There...the raiju are very active this year--luckily, this one didn't do too much damage to the mortal realm."

"Thank you for rescuing me, noble Gekigami." Ash smiled as he emerged from the cloud set. "I come on behalf of my sister Amaterasu...a village of mortals cries because many daughters, sisters, and friends have been sacrificed to the fiend Yamata-no-Orochi. Will you lend your thundering arrow to my cause, so I may deliver them?"

Brock nodded. "I can't give you the Great Thunderbow directly, but I can teach you to channel the lightning through any arrow..."

---------

"...your next objective is the River of Stars." Brock explained as a song ended some time later. "You can ask Yumigami, the dream Buneary, and Toyotama, daughter of Seiryu, to help you out..."

Yumigami...my first scene is next! Dawn smiled as she hurried into position on a starry riverbank set, complete with starry "water".

"And so, Susanoo continued his journey through the heavens." Serena narrated from her nook. "By this time, it was growing late, and the stars were revealing their glory to the mortal realm. It was also the hour when Yumigami, the Noble Buneary, came out to play..."

From the ten-mile pavilion no travelers leave,
In the ninefold heavens the stars appear...
Dawn sang over a dreamy melody from the orchestra as she danced into the scene, to Ash's feigned awe.

All this time
I've been dreaming of you

And I'm finally here
To guide you on your way...
A million stars light the path to heaven...
One bright moon fills the earth and sky....


She noticed Ash and smiled. "Greetings, Great Susanoo. I am Yumigami, guardian of the moon and keeper of dreams. But the dreams I see as of late are not pleasant, happy dreams...no...they are nightmares, created from the very essence of evil!"

"Many are the nightmares of the village I have departed from." Ash explained in character. "Their tears fall like the stars, for the elder's daughter is the latest in a long line of maidens, cut down in their prime by the monster Orochi. I have long wished to set the world free from this great evil, so my sister Amaterasu bade me visit you and the other Noble Pokemon."

"God you may be, but even we of heaven fear the notorious Orochi--you will need the help of all of us to even stand against that fiend." Dawn explained. "My gift for you is the gift of the stars--so you can channel heavenly judgement upon Orochi!"
 
Episode 59: The Costumes that Shine Backstage


The backstage area buzzed with excitement as the Niji Troupe gathered to get their costumes for their production of "The Palace that Shines Through the Darkness". "Forget our costumes, I'm actually excited to see the Palace itself!" May smiled as she and Dawn waited heir turn to receive their costumes.

"Rona says that she wants our amazement and excitement over seeing the Palace to be natural--that's why we haven't seen that particular set." Dawn explained. "I'm told that seeing the Palace will be worth our time and the audience's time."

She watched as Misty made her way towards a dressing room. "They're getting to our costumes! I'm excited to see what mine will look like!"

"Me too." Dawn agreed as Misty emerged in a regal dark blue costume with pale blue and silver trim.

"What do you think?" Misty smiled as she approached May and Dawn. "This is very comfy to move in, so I hope I can capture a flowing river in my fight scenes."

"You look great!" Dawn smiled. "I wouldn't think to make a dark blue costume based on a river, but our costume crew have made it work!"

"The dark blue is the river passing through the shade, and the pale blue and silver are the river in the sun." Misty explained. "So I like to think the costume crew captured a flowing river perfectly!"

May was snapped to attention with a crew member calling "Okay! I need Brilliant Moon, please!" in the chaos.

"Brilliant Moon--that's you!" Misty grinned at Dawn.

"Be right back!" Dawn called as she hurried into the fitting room.

---------

Both Misty and May gasped when Dawn returned wearing an ethereal white, lavender, and pale blue costume that evoked moonlight shining through clouds. "Wow!" Misty raved. "You look like literal moonlight!"

"Thanks..." Dawn smiled as she twirled elegantly in the costume. "I was worried I'd be tripping all over myself for the dance numbers and my fight scenes, but this should work fine."

"Upon eternal heavenly fragrant Spring Mountain this evening..." a familiar male voice sang over the excited chatter and the calls of the costume crew. "The haze trails across, and spring seems to have arrived, indeed!"

May whirled around to discover Brock arriving, now clad in a dark green, pale green, red and gold rose inspired costume. "Wow, that's beautiful!"

"As was that excerpt from your first song." Misty agreed as she admired the many red roses winding across the majestic green costume Brock wore. "Can't wait to hear the whole thing opening night."

"I'm sure it'll sound wonderful with the vina!" May agreed.

"Well, vina's being restrung at the moment, so the first few lines of my first number a cappella will have to do." Brock assured May as he admired himself in a mirror. "I try to restring it every six months. Although, if I play a lot of vina playing roles, I'll restring it every three months. This way, it'll always sound its best!"

He was about to say more when he heard a crew member calling "Okay! I need Summer Wind, please!"

"My turn!" May smiled as she climbed off the box she had been sitting on. "Be back in a minute!"

---------

"Beautifly pin...." a costume crew member smiled as she carefully put a gold, orange, and pale blue Beautifly wing hairpin in May's hair. "And there we are!"

May took a moment to admire herself in the mirror. "Wow! This is amazing!"

"Go on and walk around in it." the crew member smiled. "Let's make sure you'll be able to dance and fight in it."

May took a moment to walk around the room for a moment, then took an unsharpened pencil and proceeded to do some sword moves with it, much to the delight of the costume crew members. "I'd say you can dance and fight in your costume just fine!" the chief crew member smiled.

"Thanks!" May replied before returning to her waiting friends.

She noticed Serena had now joined the group, admiring herself in a shimmery gold, orange, and pale yellow costume. "That looks beautiful!"

"As are you, May." Serena smiled. "I'm looking forward to seeing Ash's, Liko's and Roy's costumes..."

A trill of a bansi got her attention. "And there's Ash!" she smiled as she admired Ash's red, orange, and gold costume, complete with a belt that evoked phoenix wings.

"The phoenix wing belt's a nice touch!" Roy raved as he emerged in a blue, purple, and gold costume that evoked lightning. Liko was not far behind, wearing a beautiful blue, white, and silver costume that evoked falling snow, complete with the royal blue version of her heart pendant.

"Everyone looks amazing!" Rona raved as she approached the group. "Your characters' weapons should be ready in time for our first costumed rehearsal." she explained. "As always, we'll try to get through as much of the play each time. Then, we'll have two dress rehearsals next week, and then open that Wednesday--our traditional Friday opening date's being used by one of the other troupes for the opening of their latest show."

"It was nice of the Kii Troupe to let us switch with their traditional opening date so they could drum up buzz for their latest show." Ash agreed. "We've worked around the other troupes' schedules before, so a Wednesday open shouldn't be that bad."

"I think there was one occasion where we had to work around three other troupes, in addition to our show." Serena remembered. "Chaotic as it sounded, we managed to make it work, and all four plays were successful."

With that, the group put their hands together in a pile to practice their traditional good luck cheer--never mind opening night was still two weeks away. "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-Ga-YOUUUU!!!"
 
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Episode 60: The Dragon-Sister and the Raikou-Brother


The orchestra's exciting overture tapered off into a more relaxed melody as the narrator appeared in her nook at stage right. "Once upon a time, in a Waku of long ago, there lived a sister and a brother that were very close with each other. Since they were very close to each other, many saw them as close as the bond between the dragon and the Raikou. For this reason, she was named Tatsuki, which means 'precious dragon' and he was named Torashi, which means 'Raikou warrior'.

She went on "One day, Tatsuki was returning from town with fresh food from the market. The townsfolk's troubles and the worrying rumors of a dragon that had forgotten its divine calling weighed heavily on her noble heart. But little did she know, she was about to have a divine encounter on the road..."

With that, the curtains opened on the set of an ancient Wakunese road. "Never have I seen the market in town that quiet before..." Misty--now in a royal blue, pale blue and silver kimono-like costume with a red obi--mused as she arrived on the stage carrying a large basket of prop food. It is no secret that Kurohime is a powerful dragon, but for the Emperor to offer a reward for slaying her? No wonder the people are afraid..."

She mused in a song-like cadence over a playful melody from the strings "They call her Kurohime, the black princess,
Who used to watch over the night...
But now the desire to rule all has consumed her,
And she has forgotten the light.

While dragons are the guardians of heaven,
They too can be blinded by darkness, much like mortals
So when this happens,
The fallen dragon must be slain to prevent the world from being consumed in its fury.

I do not doubt the strength that my brother and I share,
The bond of dragon and Raikou...
But slaying a dragon is not something we have ever done,
So what am I to do?"

With that, she set the basket of prop food near a rock, and sat down to ponder her monologue. After a few tense moments, a giggle got her attention, and Serena--now in a familiar red and orange robe and prop Delphox ears--appeared before Misty in a flash of light! "Fear not, precious dragon..." she began. "While it is true you and your brother have never slain a dragon before, I believe the both of you can do it!"

"Well, okay..." Misty mused, to some giggles from the children in the audience. "If we are to slay Kurohime, how do we go about it?"

"Kurohime makes her lair atop Sunset Peak." Serena explained. "In order to protect yourselves from her infernal power, you will need to find the eight Miraculous Orbs that lay scattered across the land..."

The lights went down to reveal the narrator in her nook again. "Kitsune told Tatsuki what she and her brother had to do to bring judgment on the fallen dragon. When she finally arrived home, she told her brother Torashi about her divine encounter--and the long quest the two of them had been called to complete."

The lights came up on the set of an ancient Wakunese house. "Tora-nii, I'm back!" Misty called as she arrived in the scene.

"Welcome home, Ryu-nee." Brock--now in a dark green, pale green and gold costume--smiled as he emerged from the house set.

Some "aw"s filled the air as Misty and Brock embraced. "I trust the journey to town went well?" Brock asked.

"The way to town was fine--I got everything we needed from the market." Misty assured Brock as she set aside the prop food basket. But on the way back, something amazing happened--the holy Delphox Kitsune appeared to me on the road!"

"Really?" Brock gasped. "What was it she commanded us to do?"

"Let's go inside--I'll tell you more over tea." Misty assured Brock before both of them went inside the house set, revealing a set of the interior of a beautiful ancient Wakunese house. "You've heard the rumors in town that a dragon has forgotten its divine calling..." Misty began as she and Brock settled in the living area section of the house set with a tea set.

"Kuro-hime...who SHOULD be watching over the night sky--not seeking to upend the natural order of heaven and earth." Brock agreed as he accepted a teacup filled with a citrus tea.

"It is true that we have slain many yokai together, and brought many rogues to justice..." Misty mused. "But this is the first time we have been asked--by divine command, no less!--to slay a dragon."

"Well, we will likely have to find some means of protection, and travel far to reach Kurohime's lair on Sunset Peak." Brock mused.

"Kitsune asked us to find to find the eight Miraculous Orbs that lay scattered across the land on the way to Sunset Peak..." Misty explained. "Do you know anything about these holy treasures?"

"I once asked the sage in town about them once..." Brock assured Misty. "This is what I remember him telling me..."

With that, he began is own song-like monologue. "The Miraculous Orbs, as their name suggests, have the power to bring forth miracles...
But when the eight of them are united, a ninth will appear,
And this one can bring the most powerful of miracles:
The union of all the elements: the rainbow..."
 
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