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Fanfiction Pokemon: The Stage of Crystal

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by WavePearl, Jan 14, 2023.

  1. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    (rated E10+ for fantasy stage violence)

    Episode 1: Welcome to the Scarlet Stage

    After a successful tour across Waku, the Niji Troupe became household names in the Tawame scene there--and the budding Tawame scene in Europa took notice. After receiving an invitation to come to the world famous Naranja Academy, Ash and the others took the chance to perform as a chance to introduce the wild and spirited Tawame world to the Paldean stage--with potential to tour other Europan regions too.

    But little did the gang know that their two honorary members would end up joining the troupe for good!


    The audience in the Naranja Academy's majestic theater watched as Brock--in a familiar green, gold, and white costume--approached an actor playing a warlord. "This has gone far enough, Hikouchi..." he intoned. "The Grand Dragon Ring belongs in the imperial palace--so if you will give it back to us, we will let you go peacefully, and forget this whole thing ever happened."

    "No!" the actor playing Hikouchi shot back. "Are you not aware of the Grand Dragon Ring's great power? With the ability to call Dragon Pokémon to my side, I could rule over all of Waku--no, the world!"

    Horrified gasps and "Oh no"s filled the theater as the actor playing Hikouchi grabbed May's arm, and dragged her to his side. "The Grand Dragon Ring is mine now!" the actor roared over a dramatic stinger. "If you lot dare to try and stop me..."

    The ring of a prop sword echoed through the majestic theater as the actor playing Hikouchi held a prop sword to May's throat, never mind that the blade was not sharp enough to do any real damage to a person. "The Six Spirits will be five...so do you really want to lose your precious little Beautifly?"

    In the audience, Juliana held Penny close as both sides stared each other down onstage. "Please...don't hurt Jade Beautifly!" Penny whispered, as if the actors onstage could hear her.

    "Hold it!" came a familiar voice from offstage.

    The actor playing Hikouchi glanced around the stage, still holding May and the prop blade. "Who's there? Show yourself!"

    A triumphant stinger and wild cheers revealed Ash--in a magnificent red, orange, gold and white costume--looking down on the actor playing Hikouchi from a platform above stage right. "I am Ruby Phoenix, the Spirit of Joy and Power!" he announced before elegantly jumping down before the actor playing Hikouchi and the struggling May. "You have nowhere to go now, Hikouchi!" he growled. "You'll have quite a lot to answer to in the imperial court--stealing a priceless treasure, stealing of other, more priceless treasures, ruining people's livelihoods, desecrating sacred spaces, evading capture, treason, kidnapping..need I go on?"

    Nervous giggles filled the theater as Ash approached the actor playing Hikouchi. "No matter how far you run, I will not rest until you have answered for your crimes!"

    The actor playing Hikouchi grimaced as fight actors playing troops joined him onstage. "Get him!" he barked, pointing at Ash.

    The theater filled with cheers as Ash expertly kicked down some of the fight actors, buying May time to wriggle out of the actor playing Hikouchi's grip and run safely into Brock's arms. But Juliana and Penny's cheers were the loudest as Ash expertly performed a well rehearsed fight progression...

    ---------

    Later, Ash, Misty, and Brock--now in their own training garb--took questions from the orange clad students about the play they had just performed, and some of their classmates joining the Niji Troupe on their impending Paldean tour. "How do you manage to fight without getting hurt?" Nemona asked.

    "We learn the fight scenes under supervision of a fight trainer." Ash explained. "The weapons we use are dulled to minimize the chance of injury, as well."

    "Even though our weapons are dulled, and the arrows only props, we still treat every weapon as if it is real--very carefully!" Misty agreed, to some giggles.

    "The fight trainers and spotters know what to do if something is even the slightest bit off--safety informs everything we do in a play." Brock added.

    He spotted Juliana's hand near the middle of the crowd. "Yes?"

    "How does archery work on a stage?" Juliana asked.

    "Archer characters are mainly support in a fight scene, but sometimes they take the lead in the fight." Brock explained. "I'm actually shooting at targets around the stage, which may trigger special effects to help the melee fighters, protect the melee fighters, or fire off one of my character's powers. If my character has to shoot at a person, I still shoot at a target hidden where the audience can't see, and the fight actor feigns a kill or an injury--so no one's actually harmed with my shots. So everyone has to know who is doing what and at what time for the fight scene to work."

    "So if you're wondering why there's very obviously glowing parts on our animatronics--those are actually targets for Brock to hit." Misty explained.

    "Is there anyone else with a question?" Señora Vega asked.

    When no one said anything, Misty addressed the crowd. "We've had a wonderful time performing for you, and are thrilled two of your own are joining us as honorary actors...but we'll need two more to go with us as guides."

    "I'll be happy to show you guys around Paldea!" Nemona volunteered.

    "Me too!" Juliana volunteered. "There's lots of theaters just in Mesagoza--I'm sure our friends at the Uva will be happy to see you perform for them too."

    "We do plan to perform for as many schools, academy, and theaters as we can on our route around Paldea." Misty assured Juliana as the teacher gave final instructions to the students who would stay behind. "But as thanks for being our guides, you'll get el tratamiento real--the royal treatment!"
     
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    #1 Jan 14, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2023
  2. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 2: The Phoenix of Waku Rises


    Word spread around Naranja Academy that some of their own were joining a Wakunese theater troupe for a grand tour of Paldea. By the time the group's departure day came, a massive crowd of students had gathered at the academy's central square to see off the Niji Troupe's caravan, a black haired girl, a deep red haired boy, Juliana, and Nemona. Awed and excited murmurs filled the air as the students admired each one of the colorful wagons, and speculated what each of the patterns on the wagons were supposed to mean.

    The chatter quieted as Clavell arrived with the black haired girl--now in a deep teal outfit instead of the standard Naranja uniform--and the deep red haired boy. "Ms. Rona Toyonaga, and the Niji Troupe of Pallet Town in Waku...thank you all for sharing your talents with our students." Clavell began. "Even if they are not currently taking a theater class, those that have seen your performances rave about them. Your actors and performers are all gifted, and they all clearly love to perform."

    He gently ushered the boy and the girl forward. "These two are Liko and Roy--they have expressed an interest in learning the Wakunese form of theater, so I have granted them permission to travel with you as honorary actors for your tour. Should they decide they want to remain with the troupe at the conclusion of the tour, would you be willing to welcome some foreign born actors?"

    "Of course." Rona smiled. "They will be trained in all aspects of the Tawame form on the journey, but the choice to join the troupe is theirs.

    Clavell just smiled as Juliana and Nemona arrived. "Then I wish you all a safe and fruitful journey performing of Paldea's legendary stages. I hope that you even reach the Teatro Real, and perform for La Primera!"

    "La Primera?" Ash wondered as the crowd of students cheered.

    "La Primera is what everybody calls Geeta, the League Champ!" Nemona explained. "She's known to be a theater fan--so much so she has her own private box at el Teatro Real!"

    "As opposed to the fake theater?" Ash asked, confused by the theater's name.

    "Silly! Real is Paldean for 'royal'." Serena explained, pointing out the entry in her Paldean to English dictionary. "So it's named the Royal Theater."

    Nemona, meanwhile, looked up at the caravan's lead wagon. "Is it okay if I ride with you in the lead wagon, Ms. Rona?" she asked. "I can point out neat landmarks and attractions you should see on the way, as well as give a little history about our many theaters."

    Rona smiled. "Okay then, Nemona--you can be our lead guide and navigator."

    "I wouldn't mind riding with Ash and the others..." Juliana offered. "Is that okay?"

    Ash smiled. "Come on then--you can't miss the yuushi's wagon!"

    After waiting for Juliana to climb aboard and settle in, a small walkie talkie on a table came to life. "Attention, members of the Niji Troupe! For our first leg of our trip, we won't even have to leave Mesagoza!" Nemona's voice crackled over the tiny speaker as the caravan began to move. "Our first stop is el Teatro Fénix--so named because it was very nearly torn down. But Geeta and the rest of Mesagoza moved heaven and earth to save it, and so it still stands today, putting on favorite plays and new plays from Paldea and elsewhere..."

    Juliana stifled a giggle as Nemona continued talking. "I think Nemona found the radio to talk to everyone in the troupe...once she gets excited about a topic, good luck getting her to stop talking about it."

    "She does know her theater, so I'll humor her and let her talk." Ash assured Juliana as he watched the Ponytas carefully make their way down the gently sloping wagon exit ramp...

    ---------

    "So, what can you tell us about the play we're going to see first?" Juliana asked as the caravan made its way down the elegant streets of Mesagoza some time later.

    "It's based on a Wakunese folktale featuring a priestess character named Kanade." Ash explained. "In many stories featuring her, she is guarded by a dragon and phoenix--and my role is the phoenix."

    "I can't wait to see your costume!" Juliana smiled as the caravan came to a stop at a majestic theater on the west side of the square. "I think Nemona finally ran out of things to talk about--but she'll probably think of more to talk about once we pass a landmark or a town."

    "Before I forget..." Ash produced two VIP passes. "As thanks for being our guides on this trip, you can watch every show we do from the best seats in the house."

    "Wow! Gracias!" Juliana smiled as she and Ash climbed from the wagon and onto the ground. "I'll give Nemona hers, you go on inside and get ready!"

    "Break both legs, Señor Fénix!" Nemona agreed as she met Ash outside the wagon.

    Ash nodded. "I'll do my best--you two enjoy the show!"

    ---------

    Later, the orchestra played a tense interlude as Dawn, in the role of Kanade, met Brock, in the role of the village elder, on a set of a nice ancient Wakunese house. "May I ask why the people gather here tonight? I know of no festival falling on this date, so I thought I would ask why you were celebrating." Dawn began.

    Brock sighed as the orchestra's song turned somber. "We are not celebrating anything." he explained. "It was really a funeral service for two of my grandchildren, who, though they are not yet dead, will be called to the heavens before too long."

    "But how can such a ceremony be performed over people who are still alive?" Dawn asked. Some in the audience stifled laughter at the quizzical look on Dawn's face.

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

    "But is there any way to know when this terrible sacrifice is going to be demanded?" Dawn asked.

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

    "But what is the demon like?" Dawn asked.

    "No one knows for sure what he is like," Brock cautioned as the elder as the orchestra's song turned tense. "He has no form that one can see. His presence is known by a strong gust of wind which fills the place with a peculiar smell, and with an influence so subtle that you feel yourself within the grip of a powerful force, and instinctively bow as though you were in the presence of a being who could destroy you in a moment if it wanted to." A bansi proceeded to blast a note that sounds more or less like a girl's scream, startling many in the crowd.

    "One more question..." Dawn interjected as she got up from her place on the stage floor. "Where did this demon come from, and how that he has grown so strong enough to defy even heaven itself, with the Great Lord Arceus and all the Legendaries that watch over us all?"

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

    Fearful whispers race through the crowd as the audience debated how such a demon could be defeated. "Now, Kanade cherished all living things, but she grew very angry when she thought of how many innocent children had been sacrificed to appease the depraved demon." May went on, quieting the chatter as the lights went down. "Taka and Mizuchi were just as mad, and they began to discuss how to save the elder's grandchildren, and at the same time slay the demon so no one would ever have to sacrifice a child again."

    As the lights came up on the set of a common ancient Wakunese house, Ash--in a majestic red, orange, and gold costume--appeared in a burst of "fire". Misty--in a majestic blue, silver, and white costume--arrived a few moments later. "So? How did the meeting with the elder go?" Misty asked as Dawn arrived in the scene.

    "It turns out the festival was no festival at all--and many in this village cry because they have lost a son or daughter to a demon." Dawn explained. "It doesn't help that the elder's children are next in line to meet this horrible fate."

    "This has gone far enough!" Ash vowed. "No more hearts should have to break to appease a demon! Especially not an elder's children!"

    Misty nodded in agreement. "We can't flat out refuse to send a sacrifice...no doubt there is some horrible fate to those that refuse this demon?"

    An idea occurred to her. "Say...what if we traveled to the demon's lair under the ruse that we will be the sacrifices?"

    "That's a great idea!" Dawn smiled. "You both have transformation abilities, so Demon-san would be none the wiser!"

    Misty nodded in agreement. "Let us return to the elder, and inform him of our plan..."
     
  3. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 3: The Lady Dragon Among the Bluebells


    "What play will we see next?" Juliana asked as the caravan continued its mini tour around Mesagoza a few days later. "That Kanade story was exciting!"

    "Well, our next show has its share of action, but it has quiet moments, too." Misty explained as she returned to her wagon, aware of one of Rona's assistants giving Liko and Roy an acting lesson in one of the other wagons. "It's called 'White Robe of the Lady Dragon'."

    "That sounds interesting!" Juliana smiled. "What is it about?"

    Before Misty could respond, the walkie talkie in the wagon came to life again. "Our next stop is el Teatro Campanilla, or the Bluebell Theater, if you prefer." Nemona's voice began. "So named because of the bluebells that bloom in the garden surrounding the theater. While primarily used to perform zarzuelas, it has welcomed productions from around the world..."

    "Now it's your turn to answer a question for me..." Misty began, ignoring Nemona's lecture about the theater's history all the while. "What IS a zarzuela, anyway?"

    "A zarzuela is the Paldean musical." Juliana explained. "Some of them can be as elaborate as one of your shows, but as a general rule of thumb, they are usually two or three acts long. They can have adventurous, mystical, or comic plots, but there is often a romance involved in the plot--and happy endings rule the day in the world of the zarzuela. While there are some saddening moments, the good and the faithful are rewarded, and evil justly punished in the end."

    Misty nodded. "Sounds interesting...I think 'White Robe of the Lady Dragon' would work very well as a zarzuela."

    She went on "The show tells the story of Lady Dragon, one of a noble family of Gyarados style martial artists. Once day, a rival family steals her family treasure--the Sapphire of Blue Water. After asking around with some martial arts masters and other noble families, she embarks on a quest to find out who could've taken her family treasure, and why. That's all I can tell you without giving too much away."

    Juliana nodded as the caravan arrived at the theater's entrance. "I can't wait to see it!"

    ---------

    The audience in the theater watched as Serena--now wearing a majestic orange and gold outfit with some black and white trim--met Misty--now wearing a white robe with subtle blue accents--on the set of an ornate garden overlooking a city street far off in the distance. "Thank you, Delphox-san, for meeting me here..." Misty began. "I hope you will forgive me bemoaning all my troubles to you..."

    "It's about the Sapphire of Blue Water, isn't it?" Serena guessed. "I understand how angry and saddened you feel about losing your family's treasure, so if you wish to vent, I will listen all the same."

    "The Sapphire of Blue Water has been in the family for years..." Misty explained. "But I can't understand why any other family would want to take it. As far as I know, my family has not wronged anyone, and no one has yet issued a challenge to my family. I know for certain you haven't taken it..."

    Serena nodded in agreement. "May Arceus judge me and my family if we have ever taken anything of yours without returning it. The city would be in an uproar if you simply accused someone without proof or evidence. So let us ponder who the likeliest suspects would be before you do anything too hasty."

    Misty thought for a moment. "Hm...we can rule out Master Phoenix and Master Raikou--they understand how important the Sapphire of Blue Water is to me and my family."

    "We can also rule out Lady Beautifly and Priestess Deerling too." Serena agreed. "Remember when you told Lady Beautifly about the Sapphire of Blue Water being taken earlier today? She looked as shocked, angry, and confused as you were!"

    "Yes...and Priestess Deerling was the one who notified the magistrate and his men that it was missing." Misty remembered. "A servant of Arceus stealing from the people they serve would be a shameless act!"

    "Exactly...so now that we have ruled out your family, and some of your inner circle, let's expand the net a little wider to include all the noble families and known rogues in the city--including known evil sects that operate in this area." Serena suggested as the orchestra started a thoughtful melody.

    "We can rule out that rogue Careless Murkrow..." Misty agreed. "When the magistrate brought him in for questioning, he denied taking it, and his alibi checked out."

    "Knowing Careless Murkrow, he may have dropped it somewhere in the city, and forgotten about it." Serena mused. "That's typically how the magistrate and his men find out he stole something!"

    The audience laughed in agreement. "The Wicked Dawn School may have taken it as a sign of a challenge, since they know your Blue Dragon Blades are powerful..."

    "This is true, but I have not received a writ of challenge." Misty mused. "Even evil sects must abide by the rule of notifying a potential opponent of a challenge."

    A thought occurred to her. "What about Steel Arbok? Has he been spotted in the area?"

    "You may be right..." Serena replied. "Just a few days ago, I found some of the magistrate's men putting out bounty posters--his bounty is now just over a million sen!"

    "Wow"s filled the air as the audience pondered how large the amount of money was. "Regardless of whether or not Steel Arbok took the Sapphire of Blue Water, or someone else did the deed, I will not rest until my family's treasure is recovered, and the thief brought to justice!" Misty vowed over the orchestra's hopeful and heroic melody. "Even if I have to go to the very ends of Waku to do that!"

    "You have my word that I will do what I can to help you on your journey." Serena agreed. "But before you embark on this likely perilous journey, let's ask the others if they wish to help."

    "A wonderful idea!" Misty smiled as the lights went down...
     
  4. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 4: The Bamboo Princess Among the Grapes


    "And here we are!" Nemona smiled as the caravan made its way up another academy's entry ramp up to the main square. "This is our sister academy, the Uva."

    Juliana smiled as hundreds of purple clad students hurried to get a look at the majestic caravan. "The Uva may be our rivals in many things, but it's more of a friendly rivalry than anything. Many of us in the Naranja have a friend or two in the Uva."

    She snapped to attention at a male voice calling her name. "Florian!" she called, waving to one particular purple clad boy as he hurried to meet Juliana. "It's good to see you..."

    "When Señora Morada said that we had visitors from Waku coming, I didn't expect them to arrive like this!" Florian gasped, amazed at all the beautiful wagons.

    "Many Wakunese theater troupes travel in these colorful caravans today--just as they did hundreds of years ago." Ash explained as he climbed from his wagon. "Every wagon's pattern has a meaning--usually to bring good luck to the troupe, or keep bad luck away."

    Florian nodded. "Well, if you'll come with me, I'll show you the way to el teatro so you can get ready for your grand performance!"

    ---------

    Applause filled the Uva Academy's theater some time later as Rona came onstage before the curtain. After taking a bow for the crowd of excited students, she began "Gracias--we are the Kagayou Theater of Waku. Today the Niji Troupe will be performing an adventurous twist on a timeless tale. If this is your first time seeing a Tawame performance, allow me to explain a few of the traditions and customs you will see."

    She went on "First, the narrator--who may or may not be named depending on the play--plays the harp-like vina, to add ambiance and character to the spoken words. There is also a chorus of musicians and occasionally speakers to assist the narrator, who may also interact with the action taking place. It is not unheard of for the characters to sing in the middle of dialogue, and entire story beats are often conveyed in song. Props and parts of the sets are often brought on and taken away in a moment's notice. If a Pokémon or spirit is needed in the storyline, they are usually portrayed by puppets--the larger ones operated by several puppeteers in plain view of the audience, and voiced by the narrator. Even though you will very plainly see the stage ninjas at work creating the play's world, remember that they are shadows, and therefore unseen to you."

    Excited murmurs went up at this. "One major difference between the Tawame tradition, its sister tradition of the Gekijou, and other ancient forms of theater is that girls were allowed to perform onstage alongside the boys." Rona explained. "Tawame and Gekijou girls are not dancing princesses waiting to be rescued by any stretch--they are just as strong, and just as important, as the boys."

    She concluded. "Our story for you today tells of a princess of the moon, and her quest to save the mortal realm from a deadly threat--please enjoy the Niji Troupe's performance of 'Princess Kaguya of the Heavenly Bamboo'."

    Applause filled the air as Rona left the stage, and the orchestra began a dreamy overture...

    ---------

    The Uva students watched as Dawn--now wearing a purple, blue, white, and gold kimono-like outfit that looked like shimmering crystal--addressed Ash, Misty, Brock, Serena, and May on the set of a courtyard in a Waku that never was. "Of all those that have answered my call, you four will accompany me and my envoy Ran on my quest to save the realm of mortals from calamity."

    "A calamity?" Brock gasped. "What sort of calamity?"

    "No doubt you have heard the news that the rogue called Jade Devil is even now making his way to the imperial palace." Dawn explained. "By the authority of Arceus, I have come to put a stop to his ambitions before he can plunge the mortal realm into an age of woe!"

    "What can we do to stop Jade Devil?" Misty asked. "Many have tried to bring him to justice, but so far, all have failed."

    "In order to stop Jade Devil, we will need five divine jewels that will dispel his evil aura, and protect us from his demonic arts." Dawn explained. "First, we will travel far to the west to find the Ruby of Enlightened Flame. Next, we travel to Golden Tree Mountain in the Eastern Sea, where we will search for the Emerald of the Grateful Earth. From there, we must seek out the sword wielding Noble Pikachu Tachigami, and convince him to give us the Topaz of the Brilliant Storm. Then, we will slay the notorious dragon Souzen, and claim the Shining Pearl. And finally, we will journey to the peak of Celestial Crown Mountain, and claim the Brilliant Diamond."

    Ash nodded as he got up to address Dawn. "No matter how far we may have to go, milady, we stand ready to assist you and protect you on this great quest!"

    Cheers filled the theater as he rendered a respectful salute to both May and Dawn with a prop sword. "This will likely be a long journey, milady..." Misty cautioned. "So if you will allow us some time to prepare, we will set out at morning's first light!"

    "Very well--we will set out as soon as we have enough supplies for our journey." Dawn replied.

    I still wish we left in the bit about Son Goku guiding us to the west... Ash thought as he made his exit. But to be fair, a comical character like Son Goku would be very out of place in an adventurous play like this.

    He listened as Brock, now alone on the stage, set the next scene. "The five knights eagerly made their preparations for the perilous quest. Just as Chiyuki had promised, the lady of the moon, her Beautifly envoy, and her four bodyguards departed at dawn the next day..."

    The orchestra started a festive melody, prompting Dawn to lead the others out onto the stage, where a crowd had gathered. "Arceus' favor be on your journey, my beautiful Kaguya..." the man playing the father smiled as he hugged Dawn, to some "aw"s.

    "I promise you this, Father...I will return victorious!" Dawn vowed, to more cheers as the group paraded across the stage, making room for a beautiful ribbon dance to take place onstage to signal a transition from Act 1 to Act 2. "Okay, to kick off Act 2, we come to a town being oppressed by oni..." Brock explained as he looked over the script on a table in the backstage area.

    "I can't wait to see what the set crew has come up with for the oni cave!" Ash grinned, excited to see the play's first dungeon set...
     
  5. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 5: The Treasure of the Ghost Arrow God


    "Florian said to tell you guys that he and the other Uva students said gracias for the wonderful show!" Juliana smiled as the caravan continued towards the western gate of Mesagoza a few days later. "There are still plenty of theaters in Mesagoza for you to perform in, but before we venture out into the wilds of Paldea to another town, there's one other theater Nemona felt you needed to stop at before we left Mezagoza."

    "Oh?" Ash asked as he looked up from a comic.

    Juliana nodded as the caravan approached a theater near the western gate. "This is the Tiara Theater--so named because the inlay work on the rooftop resembles a tiara. Since it was often the first thing travelers to Mesagoza saw when they arrived, it is sometimes called 'The Welcoming Beacon'."

    "That should fit our next play perfectly!" Ash smiled as he stashed away the comic. "It's called 'Game of the Ghost Arrow God'. Basically, it's a twist on every anime tournament arc you've probably ever watched."

    He went on "The show tells the story of how the Six Spirits uncovered the truth behind a grand tournament, and defeated the mastermind behind it after a world spanning quest and confronting the Ghost Arrow God at the height of the tournament's finals. In the end, the Ghost Arrow God is defeated, and his plot--and the tournament--stopped before the martial world is brought to its knees."

    "Sounds exciting!" Juliana smiled as the caravan pulled up to the theater's front gate.

    "I'm gonna go meet the troupe inside and get ready..." Ash assured Juliana as he climbed from the wagon onto the ground.

    "Break both legs, Señor Phoenix!" Nemona smiled as she watched Ash reunite with the others near the stage door...

    ---------

    Backstage, Ash--now in his trademark red and gold Ruby Phoenix costume--watched from the wings as excited people continued filling up the Tiara's ornately decorated auditorium. When they say that Europan theaters are some of the most beautiful in the world, they're not kidding!

    "Whose turn is it to react to the tournament's dark secret?" Serena's voice snapped Ash back to reality. "I remember May did it the last time we did this play..."

    "Working on it..." Brock replied as he inputted each of the group's names into a randomizer on his PokeNav. "Whichever name the randomizer picks, does the reaction at the end of Act 1."

    The rest of the group watched as Brock selected something on the PokeNav. "It's Misty's turn."

    "Okay! I'll let her know after I get into my costume!" Serena replied before hurrying off backstage.

    "Misty's fury mode should add a punch to that scene." Ash smiled as Brock went to leave his PokeNav with a crew member for safekeeping.

    "Yeah--every time Misty does that scene, no one ever forgets it!" Brock agreed. "I'm gonna go get in costume, so sit tight for a little longer, okay?"

    Ash nodded as his friend departed, while at the same time fighting to calm the Beautiflies in his stomach. I may be nervous, but I'm also a little excited to be bringing this form of theater to a new audience! I can only imagine how the rest of Paldea will react to these plays--both the classics that have endured for hundreds of years, and the newer plays that help to move the form forward...

    "Ready to go?" Misty asked as she emerged in an ornate blue and silver costume with swirl patterns that evoked flowing water.

    "As I'll ever be..." Ash replied as the others arrived in their costumes. "Show Paldea the fury of the dragon!"

    "Cheer time!" Serena called as she laid her hand on top of Ash's hand. Misty laid her hand on top of Serena's, May laid her hand on top of Misty's, Brock laid his hand on top of May's, and Dawn laid her hand on top of Brock's to complete the stack of hands.

    After a few tense seconds, the group called "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-ga-YOU!!!" cheering as they separated their hands...

    ---------

    Some time later, the packed theater watched as the group reunited on the set of an arena's holding area for competitors. "Well done on your performance, Deerling-san..." May smiled as she made herself comfortable in a chair overlooking the imagined arena filled with digitally generated people far off in the distance, creating the illusion of a crowd.

    "Thanks..." Dawn replied. "But has anyone noticed something strange? I gave a heroic effort in my battle, yet I am not in the top ten of the ranks..."

    "I noticed that too..." Misty agreed. "I too fought my hardest in my match, and I still lost...something tells me this is more than a case of luck, or my opponent being better than I..."

    "A theory, on my part..." Brock interjected. "Remember when the tournament opened that Ghostly Arrow said he wished to see 'the very best that Waku had to offer'?"

    "That's right! He also said he wanted to see 'warriors that he wished to battle himself'--and that is no small feat considering Ghostly Arrow is himself very powerful!" Ash agreed.

    "Well, what if Ghostly Arrow is intentionally manipulating the ranks so that he does get to battle against some of Waku's finest, and defeat them?" Brock asked.

    "Then if that is the case..." Misty mused over a tense stinger from the orchestra.

    An angry look formed on her face a few moments later. "He plans to proclaim himself the winner, and rule over Waku with an iron fist! He never planned to play fair in the first place!"

    Shocked gasps filled the theater at the turn of events. "Then we need to shift our focus from winning our matches, and focus on stopping Ghost Arrow!" Dawn cried. "But we need to do that without him being aware that we are onto his plot..."

    "We have a little while before the next round..." Serena assured her worried co-stars. "We should use this time to find evidence of a plot--since officials and magistrates won't believe us without any evidence. Once we have evidence--and an official we can trust--we can plan our next steps and how to defeat Ghost Arrow in between our matches..."
     
  6. WavePearl

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    Episode 6: Heroes of the Past


    "Okay, everyone--our next stop is the city of Rescatan, which is famous for a Paldean uprising against Kalos long ago, which has been immortalized in literature, art, music, dance, and theater." Nemona explained over the walkie talkies in the caravan. "Ask any Paldean about el Dos de Mayo, and they'll know exactly what you mean."

    "Golden Delphox to Scarlet Lady, is it okay if I explain what basically happened and a little about the Kalosian perspective of the whole affair?" Serena asked Nemona over her own walkie talkie.

    "Sure...go ahead." Nemona replied.

    "Basically, the infamous Kalosian general Volonté wanted the Paldean royal family to effectively be taken prisoner in Kalos." Serena explained. "At the time, Kalos had attempted to take control of Paldea thanks to chaos in Mesagoza over who would rule. Volonté saw this as a golden opportunity to assert what he believed would be Kaloisian dominance over the Europan continent."

    "But he didn't count on the people of Rescatan to fight back!" Nemona agreed, picking up the tale where Serena left off. "Try as the Kalosians might to put the rebellion down in Mesagoza, the people of Rescatan managed to unite all of Paldea against Kalos, and drove Volonté and his men out, in La guerra de los lirios y los claveles--The War of the Lilies and Carnations. You may also see the war called "La guerra de los lirios, las rosas y los claveles--The War of the Lilies, Roses and Carnations, because Galar did come and help Paldea in the fight."

    She went on "Today in Rescatan, you can see a grand memorial to the heroes of the uprising--people come from all over the world to leave flowers and tributes."

    "Sounds interesting!" Ash replied before relaying a request of his own to Nemona. "Ruby Phoenix to Scarlet Lady, okay if I talk a little about a similar event in Wakunese history?"

    "Go for it!" Nemona replied.

    "Okay...this story is said to have inspired Taki's story in the Legends of Ransei tabletop RPG, but it is a true story that has been immortalized on the Tawame stage, as the play 'The Heroes of the Indigo Flag'." Ash explained. "While there is a little fantasy in the play's story for the sake of the rule of cool, it follows history very closely."

    He went on "The play tells the story of a group of best friends who form a resistance movement to fight back against an evil warlord after hearing constant tales of friends being forced into hiding, losing everything, or flat out being killed for no reason at all. After promising to do everything they can to drive back the warlord, find the true Emperor and Empress--who are in hiding as the play begins-- and unite Waku, they make a flag out of indigo fabric as sign of their promise, which quickly becomes a rallying symbol as more and more unite behind them, beating the odds to defeat their common foe, return the true Emperor and Empress to the capital, and restore peace to Waku."

    "How exciting!" Nemona replied. "The people of Rescatan should love that!"

    "I know--as soon as we researched the city's history and read about the uprising, I knew we had to put on that play." Ash replied.

    "At any rate, we should be arriving in Rescatan in a few days." Nemona reported. "I can't wait to see the play!"

    "Me neither!" Juliana agreed.

    Brock, meanwhile, arrived in the common wagon with the script of "The Heroes of the Indigo Flag." "Looking at the cast list here, would Liko and Roy be interested in playing roles? This would be good practice for what they have learned in their training. If they don't feel they're ready yet, I'll understand."

    "Let me go ask them!" Juliana offered.

    "At the moment, Rona needs the roles of Rumika and Shinrou filled." Brock explained. "They're not too challenging, so they would be perfect for their first real roles."

    Juliana nodded as she accepted the script. "I'll see if they are interested in those roles, then we'll go from there."

    "We have some time before we reach Rescatan, so they'll have time to learn those roles and rehearse with us." Brock assured Juliana as she departed with the script.

    ---------

    "Okay...I told Liko and Roy about the play, and the roles that they would potentially be playing..." Juliana explained as she met the group in the common wagon later that night. "They are interested in playing those roles, but don't feel like they are ready to be acting just yet. They have, however, offered to be understudies for those roles."

    "That's a perfect compromise--they learn those parts with us just in case the ones that Rona casts can't perform." Serena explained. "Even if they don't go onstage with us, they still get to watch the play, and see how a Tawame performance works."

    "Roy actually is originally from Kanto--and he has proven both a good student and supporter for Liko." Misty explained. "So if it happens that they have to cover Rumika and Shinrou, they'll be supporting each other--even if Liko's a little unsure about her readiness to act right now."

    "You all know I would never force an actor in training to perform before they feel they are ready." Rona assured Misty, Serena, and Juliana. "If and when Liko and Roy join us as regular performers will be their choice and their right. For now, understudies are a good compromise--since both of them are interested in playing roles with us on this tour."

    Misty nodded as Rona gave her two copies of the play's script. "Okay--I'll go deliver them each a copy of the script so they can read over the roles they will be covering tonight. They'll get their training garb in the morning, so they can join us for acting practice."

    "Win win for everyone." Brock agreed as he looked out at the caravan's massive campsite. "For the moment, let's get some rest so we're ready for practice in the morning!"
     
  7. WavePearl

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    Episode 7: Braviary's and Mightyena's First Rehearsal


    "Okay, Liko and Roy...before we go to acting practice, let's get you two some training garb." Brock began as he led Liko and Roy to a dressing room in the rehearsal wagon. "Since you two are understudies, you guys will both see how we block each scene, and can ask questions about it before you go practice the scenes for yourself in another room. This way, you'll be learning the play at the same pace as we are--so if we need you two to perform, you'll know what the roles you are covering are supposed to do."

    "That's fair." Liko assured Brock as the small group arrived before a large closet filled with leotards and form fitting shirts of many colors. "What happens if we are called to perform?"

    "As soon as Rona knows that the main performers you're covering can't make it, she will first tell you guys, and then she will tell us." Brock explained. "If the programs have already been printed, it will note you guys are filling in those roles. If the programs are not printed yet, you will be listed in the cast list, but noted as an understudy. Rona's assistants will also let the audience know well before showtime that you guys are there covering the roles you have been asked to cover."

    He made a grand gesture to the closet full of training outfits. "What color do you guys want? Whichever outfit you pick, it is yours to keep."

    "This teal leotard would fit my lucky heart necklace perfectly!" Liko smiled as she located a dark teal leotard and some white tights to match.

    "Dibs on this maroon garb!" Roy held a maroon form fitting shirt high for Brock to see before finding black leggings to match it.

    "Okay...if you need to get those in your size, you can go see the costume crew." Brock replied. "Otherwise, go get changed and meet us in the acting practice room."

    ---------

    "...after promising to do everything they can to drive back the warlord, find the true Emperor and Empress--who are in hiding as the play begins--and unite Waku, they make a flag out of indigo fabric as sign of their promise." Misty finished explaining the play's pivotal scene to Liko and Roy. "Is there any question you want to ask about this scene, or anything you don't understand about what Rumika and Shinrou are supposed to do?"

    "Not so far..." Roy replied as he read over the scene in his script.

    "Do we actually see the flag being made, or does that happen offscreen?" Liko wondered.

    "It happens offscreen, while the narrator fills in the details of what we're doing." Misty explains. "For now, you can watch how this scene plays out, and make notes in your scripts before you go to work with Rona's assistants."

    Liko nodded. "Maybe seeing Lauren play Rumika will give me some ideas of how I should play her in case I'm asked to play her."

    "And me with Dan playing Shinou." Roy agreed as he found pens for himself and Liko to write on their scripts.

    "Write on the scripts all you like--you should see what some of mine look like before we go off script!" Ash smiled as Rona arrived with some of her assistants.

    "Yes--you are free to write on the scripts." Rona agreed before addressing the gathered cast. "Okay, let's go over the play's most important scene--the heroes' promise and the making of the indigo flag. So, Ash, if you would start from the beginning of the scene, please?"

    Ash nodded, then met the group in the center of the room. "This has gone far enough!" he began. "For far too long Andou has brought terror on this land! And who am I to think he will proclaim himself emperor next?"

    "Okay...well done on conveying Akito's anger in this scene!" Rona smiled. "I would only caution you to be careful that you don't have his anger come across as hysterical. Akito is of course angry in this scene, but he is careful not to let it get the better of him."

    "Not so much terrified or afraid, but just enough power to sell that my character is mad--got it!" Ash replied as he made a note in his script."

    He then tried his line again as the group made their way into the stage area. "This has gone far enough! For far too long Andou has brought terror on this land! And who am I to think he will proclaim himself emperor next?"

    "How many more must die before Andou's reign of terror is stopped?" May agreed. "Is there anyone brave enough to stand up to Andou, and put a stop to his ambitions?"

    "There was a moment of silence for a moment before Serena began "If no one else in the land will stand up to Andou, then let us be those brave ones to take up our blades, and say 'Enough is enough'!"

    "Then let us promise that we will drive back Andou, find the true Emperor and Empress, and unite Waku." Misty replied. "So let us make something as a sign of that promise."

    "But what would we make?" Dan asked. "It can't be too large, nor can it alert Andou that we oppose him..."

    "It also needs to be something that the people would recognize as the sign of the resistance, but Andou and his men would've have a clue." Dawn agreed.

    "Why not make a flag?" Brock suggested, holding up a piece of indigo fabric. "It wouldn't be very large or very showy, but large enough to let people know that we are the resistance..."
     
  8. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 8: Braviary and Mightyena Answer the Call


    "All right...I understand..." Rona assured a caller on the other end a few days later. "I hope you both feel better soon!"

    "Who was that?" Ash asked as he peeked into Rona's office in the caravan's lead wagon.

    "Sounded like the actors Liko and Roy were covering are out for our performance in Rescatan..." Nemona explained.

    "Lauren caught a bad cold, which she then passed to Dan." Rona explained. "So will you go find Liko and Roy and let them know they'll need to perform when we arrive in town? Luckily, I haven't printed the programs yet, so I can note they will be performing, plus have my assistants note this before the show."

    "Right!" Ash replied as he hurried off. Okay...if memory serves, Liko is having a singing lesson right now, and Roy is in the dojo wagon undergoing fight training...

    A piano playing a flamenco-like melody in G minor for Liko's sweet and yet strong soprano got his attention. While he couldn't make out the lyrics of what Liko was singing, he recognized the song as one of Rumika's songs from Act 2. It's not polite to walk in on someone while their lesson is in progress, so I'll wait until a natural break to let Liko know she needs to play Rumika for our show in Rescatan.

    Liko's final high G and the piano's last chord signaled that the performance was over. "That was great!" Ash raved as he applauded. "I didn't want to interrupt your lesson, so I waited until you were done with the song before coming inside." he assured Liko as she set aside her sheet music. "I have a message from Rona..."

    "What is it?" Liko asked.

    "The actress you're covering is out sick." Ash explained. "So that means you'll be performing Rumika for our run in Rescatan."

    Liko smiled. "I guess it's a good thing I was rehearsing one of Rumika's numbers when you came!"

    "When you're done here, meet with Rona to get your costume and your instructions for the run." Ash explained before turning to leave. "I've gotta let Roy know he's performing, and Rona will let the rest of the cast know when we get there, okay?"

    "Okay!" Liko replied as Ash departed. This is it! My chance to show everyone what I've learned in training!

    ---------

    In the dojo wagon, Ash watched as Roy delivered a few punches to a punching bag, then backflipped away from an imagined attack. "Okay! You've earned a break for now!" the fight trainer assured Roy as she delivered him a towel and a bottle of water.

    About then, Roy noticed Ash framed in the door. "Oh, were you coming to do some sword training?" he asked.

    "Actually, I have a message from Rona..." Ash explained as he joined Roy in the training room. "Dan caught a cold, so you'll need to cover Shinrou for our play in Rescatan..."

    "Leave it to me!" Roy smiled. "I've been brushing up on Shinrou's lines, numbers, and fights just in case I needed to perform!"

    "If you're done training, meet with Rona to get your costume and your instructions for the run." Ash explained. "I'll meet you and Liko both backstage later."

    "Let me clean up first, and I'll be right over there!" Roy replied as Ash departed.

    ---------

    That evening, Ash--now in an elegant red and gold costume with white trim--watched from the wings as the Teatro de los Héroes began filling up with excited people. Great crowd tonight...I hope Liko and Roy are ready to perform! he thought as one of Rona's assistants arrived to inform the crowd of the understudies in the cast for the run.

    "...due to illness among the main cast, Liko Monterosa will be playing Rumika, and Roy Igarashi will be playing Shinou for our run here, starting tonight." the assistant explained. "Thank you for your understanding, and we hope you will enjoy tonight's performance of 'The Heroes of the Indigo Flag'."

    Ash smiled as Liko and Roy arrived in their costumes. "Ready to go?"

    "I'm as ready as I ever will be, but I'm also excited I get to show off what me and Roy have been learning in our training." Liko replied as she twirled in the teal and purple kimono she wore, complete with a red obi.

    "Let's do this!" Roy agreed as he emerged in the wings wearing a darker red costume with yellow, black, and white trim.

    Ash nodded happily as the others arrived in their costumes. "Then I guess we need to teach you our pre-show good luck cheer--so if you two will put your hands on top of mine..."

    Liko and Roy excitedly complied, allowing Misty to lay her hand on top of Liko's, and Brock to lay his hand on top of Roy's.

    Once the pile of hands had been created, the new group of eight stars cried "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-ga-YOU!!!" before separating their hands with a cheer...

    ---------

    Later, the orchestra started a tense interlude as Ash made his way into the scene of the resistance's hideout. "This has gone far enough!" he began. "For far too long Andou has brought terror on this land! And who am I to think he will proclaim himself emperor next?"

    "How many more must die before Andou's reign of terror is stopped?" May agreed. "Is there anyone brave enough to stand up to Andou, and put a stop to his ambitions?"

    There was a moment of silence for a moment before Serena began "If no one else in the land will stand up to Andou, then let us be those brave ones to take up our blades, and say 'Enough is enough'!" Cheers went up from the audience at this.

    "Then let us promise that we will drive back Andou, find the true Emperor and Empress, and unite Waku." Misty replied. "So let us make something as a sign of that promise."

    "But what would we make?" Roy asked. "It can't be too large, nor can it alert Andou that we oppose him..."

    "It also needs to be something that the people would recognize as the sign of the resistance, but Andou and his men wouldn't have a clue." Dawn agreed.

    "Why not make a flag?" Brock suggested, holding up a piece of indigo fabric. "It wouldn't be very large or very showy, but large enough to let people know that we are the resistance."

    "That's a good idea!" Liko smiled over a hopeful interlude. "In my homeland of Paldea, the carnation symbolizes enduring love and devotion, no matter what. Since that flower isn't known here in Waku, Andou would never have a clue it was a sign of resistance!"

    "A wonderful idea!" Misty agreed. "I hope to Arceus that the carnation stands side by side with the sakura, as a sign of our enduring loyalty and devotion to Waku when the land needed it most!"

    As the lights went down, the orchestra played a soft and frenetic melody to symbolize the group working. "And so, the small resistance force went to work making their flag. But little did Azuki know that her wish would come true, and all of Waku would see the carnation as a symbol of resistance, and the people of Waku's loyalty to the true Emperor and Empress..."
     
  9. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 9: Big Adventures On the Road to Little Waku


    The troupe's morale was high as they got back on the road a few days later. "So? Did you enjoy your first time acting with us?" Serena asked Liko and Roy as she watched the town of Rescatan disappear over the horizon.

    Liko nodded. "It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be--I can see why you guys love to perform..."

    "Yeah--I wouldn't mind performing with you guys more often!" Roy agreed. "Name the roles, and we'll give it our best shot!"

    The walkie talkie in Serena's wagon crackled to life a few moments later. "From here, our next stop is the town of Cereflor." Nemona's voice explained. "It is famous for its Little Waku district..."

    "...and there she goes again..." Serena sighed as she led Liko and Roy to the common wagon, where the group was gathering to have lunch.

    "Since we're going to a place famous for its Little Waku district, it's only fitting we do our version of Princess Kaguya--tweaked slightly so Liko and Roy potentially have a part." May smiled.

    "Our version of the story takes a more adventurous slant than the original romance the story was." Misty explained. "So we turned the tale into a fantasy adventure based on what Princess Kaguya tells the five knights to do in the real story--but this time, it is Princess Kaguya that goes on the adventure with now seven trusted bodyguards."

    "Another huge difference from the original story is Princess Kaguya came to the mortal realm by her own free will, to save the mortals from an evil threat." Ash agreed. "The five knights in the tale become seven guardians, who each have more fleshed out personalities, backstories, and fighting abilities."

    "Copies of the script for you both..." May smiled as she gave Liko and Roy a copy of the script for the revised production of Princess Kaguya. "If you want to ask questions about the show, or our experiences performing it, we'll be happy to answer!"

    Liko studied the script for a moment. "It says in the cast list that one of the knights is both the narrator and a character. How does that work?"

    "It does require some extra work--since you have two sets of lines to memorize." Brock explained. "In my experience, it's easier if you perform the narration in character. One of my favorite characters that is also a narrator is Tripitaka, of 'Journey to the West' fame."

    "Seeing Brock as Tripitaka and Ash as Son Goku is a must see!" May raved. "Brock will even work jokes of his own into the narration, depending on if we're doing the whole thing, or a certain episode."

    "In the case of this particular play, the character I typically play, Kito, is explained to be a skilled musician with great skill at the bow, so it makes sense that he both narrates and serves as a character in the story." Brock explains. "The narration bits are typically short comments at the end of a scene--Kito's thoughts on what just happened in the story's world, and setting up for the next scene. When I first tried playing the character, I took the Tripitaka approach--narrate from a nook, then become a character in the story's world. Running back and forth between a nook at stage right and my next place onstage grew tiring very quickly."

    "I would be tired too if I had to run back and forth between stage right and somewhere onstage." Roy agreed.

    "So the next time we performed 'Princess Kaguya', the writers reworked the narration to make the transition between narrator and character seamless." Brock went on "It was SO much easier to play my role that show, so that is how I have portrayed Kito ever since."

    "How do you guys do Princess Kaguya returning to heaven at the end?" Liko wondered. "Is the performer in the air on wires, or on an elevator?"

    "For Dawn's safety and the crew's peace of mind, we use an elevator hidden in the set to take her to an actor's catwalk out of view of the audience." Ash explained. "A crew member meets her up there, and takes her downstairs to the wings so she can come out for the curtain call--and potentially an encore."

    "What happens if the audience asks for an encore?" Now Roy was curious.

    "In the Tawame theater, if the audience requests an encore, it is not unheard of for the cast--or the yuushi and eiyuna, at the very least--to return to the stage and sing one of the songs from the play again, or a whole new song that showcases their singing ability." Serena explained "This means that we have to be ready to sing multiple songs if the audience asks for multiple encores."

    "Elaborating on that..." Ash interjected. "If a troupe's play goes over well, audiences may ask for one (or more) encores. When this happens, the yuushi and the eiyuna, the troupe's stars, or even the entire troupe will return to the stage and perform either a song from the play a second time, or a different song that showcase's the stars' singing abilities. Other options we can perform for encores include dancing or one last show of color--song, dance, and/or acrobatics together--to create a lasting impression on critics and fans."

    "As a general rule, if audiences ask for an encore, the troupe is very good, and more encores mean the troupe is a legend at what they do." May smiled.

    "Then I promise to do my best to do what I can for as many shows as you allow me and Roy to be in, so we both earn lots of encores for you!" Liko vowed.

    Serena smiled at Liko's enthusiasm. "Well, in the meantime, you two can study the scripts we gave you for auditions in the morning..."
     
  10. WavePearl

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    Episode 10: A Change of Plays


    "Everyone, we've changed what play we're doing for our next stop!" Misty called, getting many of the actors' and crew's attention.

    "So if 'Princess Kaguya' is out, then what's the new play?" Roy asked as he and Liko woke up with a yawn.

    "It's something Juliana and Nemona wrote just for us." Misty replied. "And if I understand correctly, they made two roles especially for you two. So come join us in the common wagon if you wanna know more--Rona will inform the other actors and the crew once we stop to camp."

    "We'll be right over." Liko assured Misty as she departed to let the others know that the play the group had planned had changed.

    ---------

    "Okay, Nemona...mind telling us what your masterpiece is basically about?" Brock asked as the group assembled in the common wagon.

    Nemona nodded. "Our play is called 'The Brave Imperial Sakura'. We borrowed a lot of motifs from Wakunese mythology and folklore--and a dash of martial arts movies--to inform the story."

    "Basically, the play story of Asusa, a dancer in the imperial court who is just as skilled with a sword as she is with the ribbon and the war fan." Juliana explained as she acknowledged May with a nod. "As she is traveling home from the capital one day, she finds two foreign travelers being harassed by the Ravenous Night Sect, who seem interested in the heart necklace that Shizuka, a young lady with dual Wakunese and Paldean citizenship, wears. After gathering some of her closest friends together, Asusa promises Shizuka that she will protect her, setting a long journey across Waku into motion that will stop the Ravenous Night Sect from taking over the capital, and find out the truth behind Shizuka's necklace."

    "Sounds exciting!" Roy smiled.

    "You guys really wrote me a role?" Liko gasped, starry eyed. "Thank you!"

    She looked down at the green crystal heart she wore. "Can I wear my own necklace for the necklace in the story, or are they making one just for me?"

    "I asked the prop crew very nicely to custom make one that'll fit for the story." Nemona replied. "It's not ready yet, but they're using your existing necklace as a template.

    "If you and Roy decide to join the troupe, one of us will personally ask the prop crew to make you a set of heart necklaces in many colors--so you'll always have one to match any costume you'll wear." Serena assured Liko.

    "You'd do that?" Liko smiled. "That's very sweet of you..."

    "I presume you wrote Asusa for me?" May asked Nemona.

    Nemona nodded. "Asusa is for you, Shizuka is for Liko, and Kinrou, Shizuka's bodyguard and companion, is for Roy to play--the other roles are for anyone. So Auditions will still be on once Rona announces this to the other actors."

    "Don't worry, we did get Rona's permission to allow you guys to perform our masterpiece." Juliana assured the group. "I believe all of you will do it justice, and make us proud."

    "It wouldn't be the first Tawame play we've ever done with a foreign writer--and it wouldn't be the last one, with growing communities around the world." Misty agreed. "It WOULD be the first one we've done with Paldean writers."

    "We did have help from one of the troupe's writers just to be sure the show looked and felt authentic." Juliana mused as she watched Serena page through the script.

    "You both did very well...this simultaneously follows a lot of the conventions, and gently parodies or subverts others." Serena replied as she looked through each scene in the script. "If I had to pick today which of your characters I'd most want to play, I'd pick Mineri--she has a lot of comic potential here!"

    "After looking over each of the characters, I'd probably want to try playing Yumina." Misty agreed before nudging Brock. "Besides, you'll give me a refresher of bow technique, right?"

    "I'd do that, plus show you how to do the trick shots Yumina is required to do." Brock replied. "We should have a wide open space to do that when we camp next."

    "We put in some trick shots for Yumina to add some excitement..." Juliana confessed. "If you'd rather them be twin sword tricks, we can revise the script."

    "Oh no, it's okay!" Misty assured Juliana. "I have a little bow skill myself, so I should be able to do some trick shots and show off with the twinblades. Granted, I'm nowhere near Brock's level, but I can hit a bullseye when it counts."

    "Remember the time you skipped an arrow across a lake and still hit the bullseye?" Brock smiled.

    "If memory serves, Ash challenged me to do it after seeing you do it." Misty remembered. "It took a few sunken arrows fished out of the lake, but after you showed me the right angle to get it to skip, I did it on the first try!"

    "The look on your face when you finally pulled it off, and Ash's amazed look that you nailed it on the first try was priceless." Brock smiled at a memory. "It's similar to skipping rocks across a lake--you just have to know the proper angle to get it to skip."

    "Okay then, Robin Hood--what's your record for most arrow skips across a lake?" Dawn smiled.

    "My current record starting from a location near the water's edge is 8 skips." Brock replied. "If I make the shot standing in the water or on a large rock or sandbar, I can get about 10 to 12 skips--this is because if you start in the water, the arrow doesn't lose as much energy, and has potential for more skips.

    "Interesting!" Nemona smiled. "Now I know way Rona calls you the bow master of the troupe!" Everyone laughed in agreement...
     
  11. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 11: A Readthrough in Scarlet and Violet


    A few days later, the group got together for a readthrough of "The Brave Imperial Sakura" alongside Juliana and Nemona. "Okay...now that auditions are done, and you--hopefully!--got the roles you wanted, we'll go through our masterpiece scene by scene and answer any questions you have about it. While we'd love to discuss it with everyone, we don't exactly have the room to fit the whole troupe in here."

    She motioned to Juliana. "But first, let's recap the basic storyline before we break the play down."

    "Basically, the play tells the story of Asusa, a dancer in the imperial court who is just as skilled with a sword as she is with the ribbon and the war fan." Juliana explained as she acknowledged May again with a nod. "As she is traveling home from the capital one day, she finds two foreign travelers being harassed by the Ravenous Night Sect, who seem interested in the heart necklace that Shizuka, a young lady with dual Wakunese and Paldean citizenship, wears. After gathering some of her closest friends together, Asusa promises Shizuka that she will protect her, setting a long journey across Waku into motion that will stop the Ravenous Night Sect from taking over the capital, and find out the truth behind Shizuka's necklace."

    "Okay...anyone have any questions about the role they got, or anything they don't understand?" Nemona asked. "If you have concerns about something, we'll hear those too."

    "After reading through the whole play over the last day or so, my only concern is why Shizuka is shuddering in the background for most of the play." Liko suggested. "I feel she can be braver than that, and it wouldn't mean rewriting the entire play to fix."

    "To be honest, we couldn't think of a good weapon for a dancer like Shizuka to wield..." Nemona admitted. "It's hard to write a fight scene when you don't know what a character would fight with, and make sense for their character. So what kind of weapon do you guys think Shizuka should wield?"

    "Fans and ribbons would make sense on a dancer, but May and Serena's roles have those covered..." Dawn sighed.

    "A shortsword or a knife would make sense, as a nod to the bladedancing tradition of ancient Paldea." Liko suggested.

    "Not to mention they could just kick a bad guy down with their two-step!" Roy agreed. "But if they had to wield something, a small sword, a knife, a fan, or a ribbon would make sense."

    "A bow or some kind of small instrument could work..." Brock suggested. "Bells or tambourines, maybe?"

    "Yeah..." Misty smiled. "Or what about chakrams--rings that come back to the owner when thrown, like a boomerang?"

    "I like the tambourine and ring idea!" Nemona smiled. "But is Liko okay with that? This is her character we're changing..."

    "...so it's only fair we make the change with Liko's permission." Juliana agreed

    "That actually sounds fun!" Liko replied. "I could use a tambourine while using an elemental dance, and the magical rings if I needed to fight physically."

    Dawn smiled, excited at seeing the new version of Liko's character. "As I read the play, I pictured Shizuka literally wearing 'rings on her fingers and bells on her toes' as the old kids' song goes--so would Liko mind wearing some bell-rings on her feet as part of her costume?"

    "It would mean a distinct and fun way for her to make an entrance!" May smiled, picturing a playful jingling rhythm as Liko came onstage in her mind.

    "It would mean a good beat for me too..." Ash mused as he thumbed to the sheet music of one of his solos in Act 1. "The bansi would actually go very well with bell-rings. We wouldn't even need the orchestra!"

    "Once you hear la flauta wakunesa, you won't forget it!" Roy grinned at Liko.

    "I remember hearing in history class once that you can hear la flauta wakunesa hundreds of miles away." Liko remembered before glancing at Ash "Is that true?"

    Ash nodded. "This is also why I'm not miced when I play the bansi--one note into a mic up close would likely blow out the sound system! Any of my other flutes get miced, since they're softer."

    "I hear you've got quite a collection of flutes..." Juliana interjected. "How many do you actually use in one show?"

    "There's actually two different flutes in the ancient Wakunese orchestra." Ash explained. "While the bansi is the most famous--hence why it's known as 'the Wakunese flute' in several Europan languages--the other one I mainly use is the kidi, or la flauta larga, if you prefer. Picture a recorder multiplied by about three, and you have roughly the length of a kidi. I also have some Western flutes for more exotic sounds--panpipes, the silver concert flute, and la flautita galariana--the tin whistle."

    "Even Wakunese playwrights don't agree on what type of flute the Celestica Flute used in a lot of plays in the canon actually is." Brock explained. "So this is why Ash keeps a lot of flutes on hand for a show. In most cases, it is a bansi, though."

    Liko noted. "I can't wait to dance to una flauta wakunesa!"

    "We did get one of our exotic instrument specialists to help write the music, and make sure it sounded authentic." Nemona assured the group. "We know you guys are skilled musicians, so we also made sure you guys could perform all the songs and the solos well."

    "Aside from a song that is a little high for me, you did well." Brock assured Juliana and Nemona. "We can't wait to perform these."

    Nemona noticed the sun setting as the caravan approached a camp. "Well, so much for our readthrough--our musical discussion lasted all day!"

    "It's fine--we can pick up from where we got off track tomorrow." Liko assured her classmate.

    "Yeah..." Ash agreed. "It's not unheard of for our readthroughs with the troupe to go very off track too. That's part of the fun!"
     
  12. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 12: The Beautifly's Promise to the Braviary


    A few days later, the rehearsal wagon buzzed with excitement as the Niji Troupe prepared for a rehearsal of "The Brave Imperial Sakura". "Nemona's a natural director!" May smiled as she and Liko arrived on the stage to rehearse a key scene in Act 1. "She reminds me in many ways of Ash..."

    "I know--she always has been a natural leader." Liko agreed. "Even when someone defeated her in battle, she is raring to go again, never mind all her Pokémon are fainted."

    "Well, if she or Juliana have any questions, or need help, I'll be watching from the audience." Rona assured May and Liko. "Otherwise, I will let them both take the reins for directing this play--they wrote it, after all."

    "Okay! Main characters, huddle!" Nemona called, spurring May and Liko to join the others and Nemona near stage right. "Now...this is the most important part of Act 1--Azusa promising Shizuka that she will protect her, setting the play's epic adventure in motion."

    "Right!" the group chorused, breaking the huddle to discover that the stage ninjas had set out some furniture to more or less resemble an ancient Wakunese house.

    "I promise, this will look more like a house once the digital sets are ready, but for now, let's pretend all of this is your typical ancient Wakunese house." Nemona assured the group before leading Liko to the right end of a beautiful Wakunese rug. "Okay...this scene does start with a song, but we're only going over dialogue and acting for now."

    "I know...I'm working on getting Shizuka's worries and fears just right in the song." Liko assured Nemona.

    "Good!" Nemona smiled. "So when 'Birth of a Ravenous Night' ends, you are practically in tears, because all the terrifying scenarios you sang about in the song have gotten to you. So can you give a good quiet feigned cry?"

    She smiled as Liko collapsed on the rug, her hands over her face as she feigned crying. "Yeah! That's what I'm looking for!" Nemona smiled before hurrying to meet May at stage right. "Now, when you come on, you're worried about Shizuka. You don't want to be terrified when you see her crying, but gently concerned for her--you know that the attack earlier is deeply worrying her."

    "I can do that." May smiled. "Are we putting dialogue with this, or are we just practicing the entrance?"

    Juliana thought for a moment. "Let's put the dialogue with it--Azusa calming Shizuka down, leading up to when the others arrive."

    "Okay! Let's start from where 'Birth of a Ravenous Night' ends, and Azusa finds Shizuka crying." Nemona called, spurring May and Liko to hurry into position.

    Once she saw Nemona give her cue, May walked onstage and gasped when she saw Liko crumpled on the rug, feigning crying. "Shizuka-san, are you okay?" she asked.

    "I think so..." Liko replied as she wiped away feigned tears. "I'm just afraid...that the Ravenous Night Sect will attack again. I know they want my pendant, and that they will go to any lengths to get it! What if the attack earlier today is only the start of more attacks? Once they have my pendant, they will likely abuse its power, and use it to destroy as many noble sects as they can. But once they reach the capital..." She let that hang before bursting into more feigned tears.

    "Peace, Shizuka-san..." May assured Liko before offering her a hanky to dry her feigned tears. "I will move heaven and earth to protect you, and will walk across heaven and earth to find out why the Ravenous Night Sect want your pendant. Let it never be said that Azusa Hashi, the Magnificent Beautifly, failed to protect someone in need."

    "Thank you..." Liko weakly smiled before embracing May, to some "aw"s from the crew.

    "Very good! And scene!" Nemona smiled before motioning Misty away for a moment. "Before we continue with the part where the others arrive and discuss the journey ahead, let me make clear that they are coming along with Azusa and Shizuka on the journey of their own free will, not because Azusa asked them too."

    "I handled the feigned crying okay?" Liko asked.

    "You're on the right track, but you don't want to kowtow or completely lie down." Juliana suggested. "That comes across as melodramatic. So leaning forward a little and covering your face should work well for this scene."

    "Lean forward a little and cover your face--got it!" Liko smiled as she made a note in her script.

    "Anything else, Nemona?" Juliana asked.

    "Not so far--let's keep going at the point where Yumina arrives." Nemona replied before cuing Misty to come onstage.

    Misty joined May and Liko in the scene. "Azusa-san told me everything..." she began. "I'm sure you want to know why your pendant has the many evil sects of the martial world on alert."

    Liko nodded. "When my master gave me my pendant, he cautioned me to never let it fall into evil hands. Yet I wonder...just how dangerous is a green, blue, and purple heart necklace?"

    "I don't know--but I promise we will find someone in Waku who does know." Misty assured Liko. "Once we do know what secrets and powers lie within your pendant, we will teach you how to harness them for the good of the world."

    "You will?" Liko asked, smiling a little.

    Misty nodded. "So say I, Yumina Shunso, the Noble Dragon."

    Some soft chords from a vina snapped Liko to attention. "Eichi-san's here!"

    "I came as soon as I could when Kinrou-san told me the caravan was attacked by the Ravenous Night." Brock explained as he arrived onstage, vina in hand. "If that crystal heart has the evil sects of the martial world on alert, we need to find out what its powers are, and train you in using them."

    "Where is Kinrou-san?" Liko asked Brock. "The last thing I remember from the attack was him fighting off some of the Ravenous Night..."

    "According to his account of what happened, he was fighting off the Ravenous Nights, but tiring quickly." Brock explained. "It was at that point Azusa-san arrived, and used her sacred Beautifly Dance to help..."
     
  13. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 13: Beautifly Calms the Frightened Braviary


    A few days later, the people of Cereflor Town came out in droves to see "The Brave Imperial Sakura". Liko--now wearing a teal, green and gold snow inspired costume, smiled as she watched the excited townsfolk take their seats in the theater. "Ready to go?" Dawn asked as she emerged in a purple, blue, and silver moon inspired costume.

    "As I'll ever be." Liko smiled. "I just have to keep Juliana's and Nemona's advice in mind about balancing emotion and realism after my song in Act 1..."

    "You'll do fine." Dawn assured Liko as Roy made a triumphant jump from the wings, now wearing a magenta, scarlet, and gold thunder inspired costume, complete with matching knuckles on his hands. "There's the brave Kinrou!"

    "Knuckles are pretty comfy once you get the right size for your hands." Roy replied as a prop crew member arrived with a heart pendant prop for Liko.

    "Here you are, Miss Shizuka..." the crew member smiled as she gently draped the glittering green, blue, and purple pendant around Liko's neck. "Break both legs out there, okay?"

    Liko nodded as Serena emerged in a yellow and orange sun inspired costume. "I'll do as best as I can to bring this role to life."

    "You'll make a wonderful Shizuka." Serena agreed. "Just remember what you practiced in rehearsal, and make the role yours."

    Liko smiled as May--now in a pale green, pink, and gold Cheri blossom inspired costume--did an elegant twirl into the wings before accepting a Cheri blossom print ribbon from a dance crew member, and a sword from a fight crew member. "That looks great!"

    "Thanks--once everyone's here, we'll do our good luck cheer before we go on." May replied as she set the sword by her left leg, then coiled the ribbon by her right hip, like a whip.

    "That cheer's never failed us yet!" Liko agreed.

    A vina playing a relaxed melody up the scale snapped her to attention as Brock--now wearing a green, red, and gold rose inspired costume--arrived in the wings. "Interesting song..."

    "It's actually a warm up exercise named 'The Voice of All the Colors'." Brock explained as he took off the pale green vina fingerpicks and set them near the stand for his instrument. "This way, you can check to be sure every string is in tune, and tune accordingly.

    "I'm sure it must be a pain to restring it..." Liko giggled as Misty and Ash arrived in the wings. "Restringing a guitar is hard enough, so a harp of any kind has to be harder..."

    "Actually, Brock says that most harps only need to be restrung about once a year." Ash replied. "Maybe two years if you don't play as much."

    "I usually restring the vina around the first of the year, so it sounds its best for the New Year's show." Brock explained as he checked each of the twenty four strings of his instrument, and carefully adjusted any off strings with the tuning key. "Any other time, I just tune quickly like this before we go on."

    Misty smiled as Ash played a soft D note on his bansi as a reference, only for Brock to answer back with a beautiful D major chord. "I'd say you guys are tuned and ready to go!"

    The lights flashing the five minute warning on the stage got her attention. "It's time--cheer time!"

    "Let's do this!" Liko agreed as she laid a hand on top of Misty, only for Ash to lay a hand on top of hers.

    Once everyone's hands were in a pile, the group cheered "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-ga-YOU!!!"

    ---------

    ...I'm afraid we will see such a frightening sight,
    The birth of a ravenous night!
    Liko concluded a song some time later, before crumpling to the stage in feigned tears.

    May walked onstage and gasped when she saw Liko crumpled on the rug, feigning crying. "Shizuka-san, are you okay?" she asked as she hurried over to where Liko was feigning crying and knelt down by her side.

    "I think so..." Liko replied as she wiped away feigned tears. "I'm just afraid...that the Ravenous Night Sect will attack again. I know they want my pendant, and that they will go to any lengths to get it! What if the attack earlier today is only the start of more attacks? Once they have my pendant, they will likely abuse its power, and use it to destroy as many noble sects as they can. But once they reach the capital..." She let that hang before bursting into more feigned tears.

    "Peace, Shizuka-san..." May assured Liko before offering her a hanky to dry her feigned tears. "I will move heaven and earth to protect you, and will walk across heaven and earth to find out why the Ravenous Night Sect want your pendant. Let it never be said that Azusa Hashi, the Magnificent Beautifly, failed to protect someone in need."

    "Thank you..." Liko weakly smiled before embracing May, to some "aw"s from the audience.

    Misty joined May and Liko in the scene. "Azusa-san told me everything..." she began. "I'm sure you want to know why your pendant has the many evil sects of the martial world on alert."

    Liko nodded. "When my master gave me my pendant, he cautioned me to never let it fall into evil hands. Yet I wonder...just how dangerous is a green, blue, and purple heart necklace?"

    "I don't know--but I promise we will find someone in Waku who does know." Misty assured Liko. "Once we do know what secrets and powers lie within your pendant, we will teach you how to harness them for the good of the world."

    "You will?" Liko asked, smiling a little.

    Misty nodded. "So say I, Yumina Shunso, the Noble Dragon."

    Some soft chords from a vina snapped Liko to attention. "Eichi-san's here!"

    "I came as soon as I could when Kinrou-san told me the caravan was attacked by the Ravenous Night." Brock explained as he arrived onstage, vina in hand. "If that crystal heart has the evil sects of the martial world on alert, we need to find out what its powers are, and train you in using them."

    "Where is Kinrou-san?" Liko asked Brock. "The last thing I remember from the attack was him fighting off some of the Ravenous Night..."

    "According to his account of what happened, he was fighting off the Ravenous Nights, but tiring quickly." Brock explained. "It was at that point Azusa-san arrived, and used her sacred Beautifly Dance to help..."
     
  14. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 14a: When Life Gives You the Limón Academy (part 1)


    As the troupe got back on the road a few days later, Ash was jolted awake by the walkie talkie in his wagon. "Attention, Niji Troupe! Our next stop is the city of Cigüeña, a huge city whose history goes back to medieval times." Nemona's voice began. "Some of the major sights here include the massive Limón Academy--a sister school to the Naranja and Uva."

    "There has to be whole network of schools across Paldea..." Ash mused as he climbed from bed, Nemona continuing to talk all the while.

    "There are." Roy smiled as he watched Ash get ready for the day from the hallway. "I wouldn't mind getting to visit all of them!"

    A smile formed on Ash's face. "Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind seeing all the academies here, either."

    "In addition to these, the city is famed for its beautiful historic santuario, the Swannas that call the lakes in and around the city home, and its equally huge theater."

    "Swannas...Misty would love that." Ash smiled.

    He noticed Liko had joined Roy in the doorway. "If Rona's announcing what play we'll do for the Limón Academy, I'll be there soon."

    "Okay! We'll go notify everyone else to meet in the rehearsal wagon's theater." Roy smiled before he and Liko departed...

    ---------

    "...as part of one of the Paldean educational standards that students be introduced to and appreciate cultures different from their own, we will be performing the epic mythological story 'The Tale of the Three Great Miracles' for the students of the Limón Academy." Rona began.

    Cheers filled the theater at this. "The show tells the story of Scarlet Flame, and three great miracles he gave to the Waku-like world." Rona explained when the cheers quieted. "These miracles are rescuing the princess from being married to the demon king, awakening Ho'oh, and banishing evil from the world. Along the way, the gods help the mortals out, clash with yokai, and mingle with Legendary Pokémon on their worldspanning quest..."

    "That sounds interesting!" Liko smiled, making notes all the while as Rona continued to speak.

    "While we have performed this play before, the writers were nice enough to include all new gods for you and Roy to play." Ash replied. "So it's going to be interesting to see this epic story with two other gods--Azure Snow for you, and Silver Thunder for Roy."

    He went on "Since this is a long and challenging play, don't feel like you HAVE to take part. While the writers did write roles for you, if you feel you're not ready for something this long yet, we can still perform the six god version."

    "While all the acrobatics in the script do look challenging, how can Roy and I get better as Tawame actors if we don't challenge ourselves?" Liko smiled. "So I plan to try out for Azure Snow."

    Ash nodded as the announcement meeting adjourned. "Okay--you both have done well acting so far, so I don't see any reason to doubt you now."

    ---------

    Meanwhile, back in the common wagon, the group got together to study the new version of the play's script before the audition room opened. "Okay, Liko and Roy...is there anything about your potential roles--or the play itself--you want to know about before auditions start?" May asked.

    "I'm intrigued as to how I'm supposed to jump Golden Mist Gate during Act 2..." Roy asked.

    "A combination of a trampoline and wire work." Misty replied. "Since I originally did the jump in the six god version of the play, I will tell you that while wire work looks intimidating, you'll have a catch tether, and spotters watching at all times--even during the performance."

    "So, what happens if something does go wrong during an aerial act?" Liko asked.

    "First, the catch tether will deploy--so no matter how far up you are, and what position you were in when the mishap occurred, you're not going anywhere." Serena explained. "The universal signal to the spotters that something is wrong is to wave at them--this is their signal that you need their help. We like to call it the SOS Wave."

    "After you've signaled with the SOS Wave, the spotters will do everything they can to get you back on the ground safely." Brock explained. "The audience doesn't see the spotters at any point--since the lights are down while they are getting you back on the ground. "Once you are safely back on the ground, the med team has assessed you for any injury, and cleared you to keep performing, the lights come back up again, and the play continues like nothing happened. If it happens that you are injured enough that we have to stop the play, the curtain is rung down, and either Rona or one of her assistants will at least tell the audience how the play is supposed to turn out, so the audience is not left hanging."

    "I can count on one hand the number of times we've ever had to ring the curtain down..." Ash agreed. "The first time it happened, Dawn missed a jump during a dance, and ended up hurting her foot. Luckily, one of her understudies, Noelle, is one of her closest friends, so she covered the role while Dawn recovered, and Dawn was able to return to the show after a week or two to finish the run."

    "The audience's cheers when she made her first entrance her first show back still give me chills." Serena smiled. "Thankfully, she was able to do the dance that hurt her with no trouble for the rest of the run."

    "The only other time we've had the curtain rung down was a wire mishap with Misty." May remembered. "She was supposed to a similar jump to what Silver Thunder has to do, and ended up getting tangled in the wires."

    "Ended up with a few bruises after that, but not so bad I had to sit out any shows." Misty remembered. "I credit our aerial team and our spotters for working quickly to untangle me and get me down on the ground. After that, they added a few more failsafes to the wires to prevent tangles. So no matter what happens, you have the spotters--the angels in the wings--watching you both."

    Roy nodded. "That makes me feel a little better knowing that if something goes wrong, we will be protected."
     
  15. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 14b: When Life Gives You the Limón Academy (part 2)


    "It was nice of the Limón staff to let us use their theater and practice rooms for our rehearsals." Liko smiled as the group arrived in a practice room for acting practice a few days later. "I am a little glad we're not doing acrobatics today..."

    "From what I understand, the crew and Rona are still talking with the Limón theater department to see if their theater can accommodate acrobatics." Serena explained. "If it turns out we can't do what the script calls for, we can scale it back to what acrobatics we can do. But we probably won't know anything about that for at least another couple of days."

    Liko nodded. "Let's not worry about it any more for now, and focus on today's acting practice."

    ---------

    "Does anyone have any questions about the play, or any specific scene before we get started today?" Rona asked the group and some of the other actors as she arrived in the practice room.

    "I do!" Roy raised his hand. "Are the three great miracles separate stories, or is one of them the main story, and the other two are connected?"

    "Rescuing Princess Jade Heaven from being married to the demon king is the main plot." Rona replied. "The other two miracles--awakening Ho'oh, and banishing evil from the world--are part of achieving the main objective."

    She looked out at the crowd of actors and performers. "Any other questions?"

    When no one said anything, Rona began "All right, then let's first go over the scenes where the eight gods learn of Princess Jade Heaven's fate, and their promise to keep her from being wed to the demon king. That's Act 1, Scene 2 and Scene 3."

    Ruffling of pages filed the room as the group and the other actors turned to the scene in question. "At this stage in the play, the gods are well aware of the demon king's plot to rule the realm of mortals--so this scene's dialogue is equal parts anger, concern, and resolve." Rona explained. "You don't want to come across as terrified or panicked--even as gods, you are all genuinely concerned about the demon king's ambitions, but you choose to intervene despite the risks, because of your divine love for the mortals.

    She led Brock over to the center of the room, where a pedestal was. "When this scene begins, the audience learns that the gods saw everything that happened in the first scene because of the divine All-Seeing Crystal. So even though we don't have an All-Seeing Crystal just yet, can you pretend one is here on this pedestal?"

    "Sure..." Brock replied before finding his first line. "It is as I feared...the demon king has made good on his threat to marry the pure light of the mortals, Princess Jade Heaven..."

    "Many are the worried prayers and nightmares of the mortals..." Dawn agreed as she joined Brock in the center of the room. "If the demon king does marry Princess Jade Heaven, it will usher in an era of eternal suffering and despair...and I will not stand for that!"

    "Willow-san, is there anything we can do to stop this age of calamity from coming to pass?" May asked as she stepped into the stage area with Brock and Dawn.

    Brock thought for a moment. "There is a way, Sky-san...but it will be a long and perilous way. We must unite the eight Celestial Jewels at the peak of the Golden Mountain, and awaken the rainbow phoenix, Ho'oh. Along the way on this perilous journey, we must banish evil in whatever form it presents itself."

    He motioned to May. "Go inform the other High Gods to gather here, so we may plan our quest to rescue Princess Jade Heaven, and banish the demon king."

    "Right away!" May called as she and Dawn hurried out of the stage area.

    "All right, and scene!" Rona called. "Dawn, can we try not to come across as terrified when you make your vow? You want to sell your character's fear and anger without screaming."

    "Okay--ease off on the emotion." Dawn replied as she made a note in her script.

    Rona noticed that the others in the group had stepped into the stage area with the pedestal. "Before we go over Scene 3--the heavenly meeting--let's first block your places for that scene..."

    ---------

    Later, Rona smiled at the group gathered around a makeshift set of a fantastic conference room, complete with tables and chairs standing in for the more ornate furniture that would be present onstage on opening night. "Not bad for a makeshift set, everyone! This will do perfectly until we can move into the theater, and build a more elaborate set."

    She showed Brock to the center of the setup of tables. "This will eventually be a podium, but can you see everyone from this position?"

    "It would probably work better if I stood on something a little further back...the tables are covering up Serena and May's position." Brock admitted. "I can see Ash and Misty just fine...I can see Liko and Roy just fine, I can somewhat see Dawn, but Serena and May are covered up from this position.

    "Wait there a moment...I'll go find something to stand in for the podium you'll have on opening night." With that, Rona hurried from the room...
     
  16. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 14c: When Life Gives You the Limón Academy (part 3)


    "Wow..." the group gasped as they arrived on the large and roomy stage in the Limón Academy's theater two weeks later. "I guess this means we can do the acrobatics required for this play after all..." Dawn smiled as she took a moment to admire the beautiful heaven set with a starry background.

    "Not only that, but the Limón's theater department offered to help us out with extra actors and crew members." Rona smiled. "For today, we'll run through as much of Act 1 as we can on the stage."

    "When are we getting costumes?" Brock wondered as he too took a moment to admire the set.

    "We should be getting costumes in another week--so we'll be having a few more rehearsals in training garb after today." Rona assured Brock.

    Just then, two Limón students moved an ornate pedestal with an elegant crystal ball filled with rainbow fog into position on the heaven set. "Okay! The seeing crystal is ready, Señora Toyonaga!" one student smiled as she found the switch to turn on the crystal's light, creating beautiful swirls of rainbow fog inside the crystal."

    Excited, Brock hurried over to the pedestal, where he said his first line of the play in Paldean for the students. "Es como me temía... el rey demonio ha cumplido su amenaza de casarse con la luz pura de los mortales, la princesa Jade Heaven."

    "Wow! I didn't know you memorized all your lines in Paldean, too!" Ash smiled, amazed that Brock appeared to know all of Green Willow's lines in Paldean.

    "Oh Ash...I only used TranslateNav to translate my first line into Paldean." Brock confessed as the students cheered in excitement. "Memorizing lines in one language is hard enough--especially in long plays like this."

    "Yeah--if you ever DO memorize a role for an entire play in multiple languages, I will literally bow before you as the king of the stage!" Misty smiled as she found her place onstage for the gods' first scenes...

    ---------

    "Everyone ready?" Rona called from the audience some moments later, to excited cheers as Dawn found her place on the beautiful heaven set. "Let's start with the gods' first scene!"

    Brock smiled back at Rona with a nod, then got into character as he studied the swirling rainbow fog in the seeing crystal. "It is as I feared...the demon king has made good on his threat to marry the pure light of the mortals, Princess Jade Heaven..."

    "Many are the worried prayers and nightmares of the mortals..." Dawn agreed as she joined Brock at the center of the stage. "If the demon king does marry Princess Jade Heaven, it will usher in an era of eternal suffering and despair...and I will not stand for that!"

    "Willow-san, is there anything we can do to stop this age of calamity from coming to pass?" May asked as she arrived from stage right to join Brock and Dawn.

    Brock thought for a moment. "There is a way, Sky-san...but it will be a long and perilous way. We must unite the eight Celestial Jewels at the peak of the Golden Mountain, and awaken the rainbow phoenix, Ho'oh. Along the way on this perilous journey, we must banish evil in whatever form it presents itself."

    He motioned to May. "Go inform the other High Gods to gather here, so we may plan our quest to rescue Princess Jade Heaven, and banish the demon king."

    "Right away!" May called as she and Dawn hurried offstage.

    Rona smiled. "And scene! Very nicely done remembering what we went over in our last practice." she began as more Limón students arrived to set up the divine meeting hall for the next scene, complete with an elegant podium for Brock to stand before.

    "I did okay with trying not to scream by angry vow?" Dawn asked as she watched the gold and pale blue clad students carefully, but quickly turn the stage into a fantastic meeting hall.

    "You did fine--it was just loud enough to emphasize the line, and sell your anger and fear without it being too over the top." Rona assured Dawn. "Keep that in mind for opening night, okay?"

    "I will!" Dawn smiled before hurrying to inform the others that the set for Act 1, Scene 3 was ready...

    ---------

    Rona smiled as she looked over the group at their places before the elegant tables on the stage for Scene 3 of Act 1 "All right, everything looks good! Let's try running through this scene, now that we have a proper set for it..."

    The jingle of some bells snapped the group to attention. "This divine meeting of how to prevent Princess Jade Heaven from being married to the demon king will now come to order." Brock began as he stepped to the podium.

    "What is there to discuss? We must unite the eight Celestial Jewels at the peak of the Golden Mountain, and awaken the rainbow phoenix, Ho'oh." Misty mused, a note of annoyance in her line.

    "That is true, Aurora-san, but it has been a thousand years since Ho'oh was last awakened, so no one in the realm of mortals knows where the Celestial Jewels are." Brock replied. "This means that the demon lord and his armies could very well find them before we do, bringing about their age of despair even faster."

    "Even though I made extra sure to hide them somewhere well guarded, we mustn't underestimate the demon king." Ash agreed.

    With that, he flicked a lighter, to the awed gaps of the students as the fire appeared to create a large fantasy map on the stage. "The Celestial Emerald, deep in the heart of the Forest of Mysteries." he explained, with a green light appearing in a forest on the west side of the map...
     
  17. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Interlude: The Elemental Gods Awaken


    A few weeks later, the Limón Academy's backstage area buzzed with excitement as the troupe gathered to receive their costumes. A few curious students watched as well, periodically smiling or gawking in awe as someone came out of the fitting rooms in a beautiful Wakunese inspired outfit.

    In the backstage area, Dawn emerged in a lovely purple, lavender, gold, and white outfit that evoked moonlight. "How do you like it, everyone?"

    "That looks amazing!" Ash raved.

    "Perfect for a moon goddess!" Serena agreed.

    Liko was next to emerge in a beautiful flowing pale blue, white and gold outfit, complete with an icicle inspired crown, and the pale blue version of her lucky heart pendant. "Your pendant helps sell that you're a nice snow goddess." May smiled as Liko admired herself in a mirror.

    "Thanks." Liko smiled. "Far too often a lot of snow goddesses--and snow gods--are not very nice. So I wanted to try and portray Azure Snow as a nice snow goddess.

    "You're doing great in that regard..." Serena assured Liko. "I can't wait to see how the big meeting scene in Act 1 will look with us all in costume."

    Misty emerged in a majestic royal blue, gold, shimmery green, and pale blue costume, to awed chatter from the onlookers. "Oh wow!" Liko gasped.

    "You really are a goddess!" Ash raved.

    "Outfit might look complex, but this is comfy to walk in." Misty replied as she walked around in the shimmery outfit for a moment. "I have to hand it to the costume crew for outfits that move well, and are easy to fight in--and you look good doing it!"

    "Okay, I need Scarlet Flame, please!" the chief of the costume crew called from a dressing room.

    "Be back in a sec!" Ash called to the others before hurrying to the open dressing room...

    ---------

    "Tie on the sash..." a costume crew member smiled as she carefully tied a belt like red sash with flame designs around Ash's waist. "...and we're done!"

    "Your divine flute is in this pocket right here, Mr. Phoenix God..." a second member pointed out a hidden pocket near the belt on the right.

    Piqued, Ash pulled out an elegant bansi with beautiful phoenix designs carved into the wood from the pocket. "Cool! I'm sure it sounds as good as it looks!"

    With that, he played a few heroic phrases in D after going up and down the scale to test each note. "This is nice--and feels good to play, by bansi standards."

    "Well, if you need costume adjustments, let us know." the crew member smiled as Ash departed, playing his new instrument all the while.

    Serena smiled as she saw Ash returning in costume, playing his new bansi. "The phoenix god is here!" she triumphantly announced, bowing in respect over Ash's last heroic trill.

    Laughter filled the air as Roy arrived wearing a majestic silver, gold, and white costume. "Not bad, Flame-san!" he grinned before admiring the elegant silver knuckles with lightning designs he wore.

    Ash nodded. "I'd hate to be on the receiving end of a Thunderfist from that!"

    "The good news is, the knuckles can be taken off if I'm not in a fight scene." Roy explained, carefully removing the knuckles to reveal some silver, white and gold gloves. "So my character is wearing gloves when he doesn't need to show off the power of the Thunderfist."

    "I need Golden Star, please!" Serena heard a costume crew member call as she stood back up. "Be back in a minute!" she assured Ash before hurrying to the dressing room...

    ---------

    Serena returning in an exquisite golden outfit with a star inspired crown spurred Ash to play a heroic flourish, to the cheers of the Limón students. "Thanks..." Serena smiled as she acknowledged the excited cheers from the students.

    "Just to return the favor for bowing before me earlier." Ash grinned before pocketing his bansi.

    The cheers quickly quieted when some flowing vina chords filled the air. "Oh, wow!" Misty gasped as Brock arrived wearing an ornate green, pale green, and gold costume with willow tree designs, playing a vina with willow tree inlays all the while.

    "May's coming...the costume crew's gotta be sure the sleeves don't hang too far down and make her trip." Brock replied. "And we wouldn't want Amber Sky tripping all over her costume..."

    "Not only would it be horrifying for the audience, May could get hurt, too." Ash agreed.

    "Can you play 'Full Blossoms Under the Full Moon'?" Brock heard one of the Limón students request. "The story we're reading in lit class mentions that tune, and I was wondering what it sounded like live..."

    "Sure!" Brock smiled before starting the elegant melody, just as May arrived wearing a flowing ornate orange and gold costume. Inspired, she decided to dance to the vina, complete with an orange ribbon with golden cloud designs, sending the chaotic chatter backstage screeching to a halt as the other troupe members, the crew, and the students watched the unfolding performance.

    Cheers filled the backstage area when the performance ended some time later. "Gracias!" the student smiled. "That was WAY better than all the terrible MyTube covers I found of that tune on other instruments last night!"

    "Try adding 'la vina' onto your search term next time." Brock suggested to the student. "You'll find some nice vina covers that way."

    May smiled as Brock answered some more questions about his instrument for the students. "I came out of the dressing room just as Brock started the tune, so I couldn't resist dancing along." she explained as the orderly chaos of troupe members getting costumes resumed.

    "You have to admit that the vina has an enchanting sound that people all over the world love..." Serena explained. "Finding trad Wakunese instruments is harder for those who want to learn in Unova and Europa, so a good MyTube video is the next best thing!"

    "If Brock ever started a vina MyTube channel, I'd sub to it!" Liko vowed, to laughter from the others...
     
  18. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 15: The Three Great Miracles for the Academy


    Some weeks later, the excitement in the Limón Academy theater was palpable as both academy students and the residents of Cigüeña arrived to watch the Niji Troupe's performance of "The Tale of the Three Great Miracles". "Ready to go?" Brock asked Liko as she emerged from the dressing rooms in costume.

    "As I'll ever be--I've worked hard to bring Azure Snow to life, and wow the people with a taste of culture different from theirs." Liko replied as she held the cyan heart version of her lucky pendant, then let it fall back against her costume. We've worked so hard to get this play ready--and we still have many more to perform across Paldea. I hope we can perform in el Teatro Real, with La Primera in the audience!"

    "Yeah--let's do so many awesome shows, La Primera will be begging us to come to el Teatro Real!" Roy agreed as he charged into the wings.

    Brock smiled as the others arrived. "Well, if we keep working hard, we'll make it to the Royal Paldean Theater, and perform for Geeta--La Primera."

    He noticed the lights flashing the five minute warning. "It's time--cheer time."

    "Let's make this a show to remember!" Serena vowed as she started the pile of hands by laying her hand on top of Brock's hand.

    Once the pile of eight hands had been created, the group cheered "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, KA-GA-YOU!!!!" before separating their hands to excited cheers...

    ---------

    Awed chatter and whispers filled the air as the lights came up on Brock studying the All Seeing Crystal prop on the heavenly realm set, complete with "clouds", mist, and "stars". "It is as I feared...the demon king has made good on his threat to marry the pure light of the mortals, Princess Jade Heaven..."

    "Many are the worried prayers and nightmares of the mortals..." Dawn agreed as she joined Brock at the center of the stage. "If the demon king does marry Princess Jade Heaven, it will usher in an era of eternal suffering and despair...and I will not stand for that!"

    "Willow-san, is there anything we can do to stop this age of calamity from coming to pass?" May asked as she joined Brock and Dawn on the stage.

    Brock thought for a moment as the orchestra started a hopeful dreamy melody. "There is a way, Sky-san...but it will be a long and perilous way. We must unite the eight Celestial Jewels at the peak of the Golden Mountain, and awaken the rainbow phoenix, Ho'oh. Along the way on this perilous journey, we must banish evil in whatever form it presents itself."

    He motioned to May. "Go inform the other High Gods to gather here, so we may plan our quest to rescue Princess Jade Heaven, and banish the demon king."

    "Right away!" May called as she and Dawn hurried offstage and the lights went down.

    ---------

    As the orchestra finished their uneasy song, and the lights came up on the group before some ornate wooden tables in a room in the Divine Palace, the jingle of some bells snapped the group to attention. "This divine meeting of how to prevent Princess Jade Heaven from being married to the demon king will now come to order." Brock began as he stepped to the podium.

    "What is there to discuss? We must unite the eight Celestial Jewels at the peak of the Golden Mountain, and awaken the rainbow phoenix, Ho'oh." Misty mused, a note of annoyance in her line.

    "That is true, Aurora-san, but it has been a thousand years since Ho'oh was last awakened, so no one in the realm of mortals knows where the Celestial Jewels are." Brock replied as the audience's laughter quieted. "This means that the demon lord and his armies could very well find them before we do, bringing about their age of despair even faster."

    "Even though I made extra sure to hide them somewhere well guarded, we mustn't underestimate the demon king." Ash agreed.

    With that, he flicked a lighter, to the awed gaps of the audience as the fire appeared to create a large fantasy map on the stage. "The Celestial Emerald, deep in the heart of the Forest of Mysteries." he explained, with a green light appearing in a forest on the west side of the map. "The Celestial Ruby, deep within the heart of Mt. Asura..." at this, a red light appeared on a volcano near the north end of the map. "The Celestial Lapis, high atop the White Dream Cliffs..." A light purple light appeared at the top of a canyon in a different part of the north region of the map. "The Celestial Sapphire, deep beneath the Gleaming Sea..." A deep blue light appeared in one of the southern sea areas of the map. "The Celestial Marine, within the howling winds and swirling snow of the White Peaks..." A light blue light appeared in a mountainous area near the northeastern corner of the map. "The Celestial Topaz, deep below the Stormy Plains..." A yellow light appeared on some plains in the western corner of the map. "The Celestial Amethyst, in the Sanctum of Stars hidden in the western cliffs..." A dark purple light appeared over a building icon in some cliffs in the western part of the map. "...and the Celestial Pearl, shining from the peak of the beautiful Misty Jade Mountain..." At this, a white light with a yellow sheen appeared on one particular mountain near the south part of the map. "When combined at the peak of the Golden Mountain, they will create a ninth Celestial Jewel--the Celestial Diamond."

    Ash let that hang as the lights swirled to combine into a single rainbow light at the peak of one particular mountain on the map, to the cheers of the audience...
     
  19. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 16: A Thundering Rose Among the Snow


    The caravan was seen off by the Limón Academy students early the next morning. But once the caravan was back on the road again, Ash was snapped to attention by the walkie talkie near his bed coming to life. "Attention, Niji Troupe!" Nemona's voice began. "Our next stop is the city of Nevamosa. It is best known for its large ice rink and its equally massive art museum decided to sculptures..."

    "Ice skating!" Misty gasped, starry eyed as she passed by Ash's room.

    Inspired, Ash took the walkie talkie, and waited a moment for Nemona to finish her tour guide spiel. "Ruby Phoenix to Scarlet Lady--is the skating rink inside or outside?"

    "The skating rink is inside, so you don't have to wait for winter to come around!" Nemona assured Ash. "So Sapphire Dragon can skate all she wants!"

    Misty smiled. "I'm not Pokelympics level good, but I am not too shabby an ice skater, either--so I wouldn't mind checking out the rink when we get there."

    She turned business-like again."I mainly came to let you know that our play for the city of Nevamosa has been announced...we will be performing 'The Thundering Rose'."

    "Surprised we're not doing a show that you could be the lead in..." Ash mused as Tintri joined him on his shoulder.

    "The lead sounds like something Brock would play--provided he has sword skill." Misty agreed, "So if you wanna audition, the packets are by the audition area. The auditions proper begin tomorrow, so you have time to prepare."

    "I'll be right over!" Ash smiled as he tidied his space a little, then followed Misty down the hall towards the audition wagon...

    ---------

    "Why yes, I do have some sword skill..." Brock assured Ash as the group got together in the common area for an impromptu readthrough of the script. "You may not always see it onstage, but a lot of my characters have a sword as a backup just in case using a bow is not feasible or possible."

    "Oh"s went up at this. "So, does that mean you're trying out for the lead?" May wondered.

    "I'm just trying for any role at all." Brock replied. "If I end up getting the lead or a bit part, I'll still give 100% to the role. For today, we're going over our first impressions of the play, talk about roles we might want, and things of that nature. Once we do get roles, we'll have a proper readthrough."

    He went on "The show tells the story of Brilliant Rose, who takes it upon himself to do the one thing that his father could not--defeat the seven Dark Masters. Along the way, he meets others seeking the seven Dark Masters and those that sympathize with them for one reason or another--and attempt to stop them before they can throw the martial world into chaos!"

    "Brilliant Rose sounds perfect for you!" Roy smiled. "I'm gonna try for Glorious Storm--he seems like a fun character to play!"

    "I think I'll give Heavenly Fire a try..." Ash smiled as he read over a scene in Act 1.

    "No surprise--not a Tawame play without the flute playing hero!" Serena smiled as she flipped past a scene where Heavenly Fire played a flute solo. "I'm trying out for Invincible Rainbow..."

    "I can only imagine what that costume will look like!" Dawn gasped, picturing Serena in a colorful outfit. "As for me, I'm trying out for Blessed Moon..."

    "I'll happily play Bright Zephyr if you'll play Blessed Moon!" May smiled as she flipped through the play's script. "The two of them have plenty of banter we can do..."

    "Serena might be the best known comedienne in the troupe, but we can get a crowd laughing when it counts!" Dawn agreed.

    Misty, meanwhile, studied a page in the script carefully. "I'm not sure who I want to try out for...Noble Snow would be a nice challenge in playing a more softspoken character. At the same time, I'm feeling drawn towards Sacred Ocean, as well..."

    "Try out for who you think you would do best playing." Liko assured Misty. "I'm trying out for Noble Snow because she is a lot like me, in many respects--right down to keeping a diary! That, and I wouldn't mind learning how to narrate."

    "If you're gonna try out for a character that also narrates, remember to keep the persona of your character and the character of the narrator separate." Brock suggested. "This makes both characters feel distinct, and makes it easier to go between the two."

    "Never thought of the narrator as a character before..." Liko mused. "What else should I keep in mind to be a good narrator?"

    "Keep your speaking even and relaxed." Brock replied. "Of course you want to speed up a little when your character is excited or nervous, and slow down a little during quiet moments and to build tension. But you don't want to speak so fast or so slow that the audience can't understand you."

    "That makes sense!" Liko smiled as she reached for a piece of paper to take notes.

    "If you watch Brock tell a story to an audience, or play a character like Noble Snow, have you noticed that his voice changes to fit his character, and what his character is experiencing in the play?" Misty asked. "This doesn't necessarily mean mimicry, but give both your character and the narrator a distinct voice. Vary the volume, pitch, and speed of your voice to distinguish between characters."

    "Although if you do know how to perform mimicry, this is very helpful in bringing the story to life in a storytelling context." Brock explained. "In an acting context, mimicry is best used to mimic sounds--although there are plays where a character mimics another character's voice."

    "Just how do you do a zillion voices on the fly?" Roy wondered as Liko copied down Brock's and Misty's advice. "Is it harder to do a girl's voice?"

    "The answer? Listen to what it is--or who it is--you want to mimic A LOT." Brock replied. "If it's something where we don't know what it sounds like, think about what a voice might sound like based on what you know of the character..."
     
  20. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 17: The Readthrough of the Thundering Rose


    A few days later, the group gathered in Misty's wagon for an impromptu readthrough of their new play. "Okay--well done, everyone, getting the roles you all wanted..."

    She smiled as Brock made himself comfortable on a blue-green couch. "...and well done, Brock, for getting the lead."

    "You'll make a perfect Brilliant Rose!" May agreed as she settled in before the table in the wagon's kitchen and dining area, overlooking the living area.

    "Does anyone have any questions or concerns to bring to Rona, about the script or your role?" Misty asked.

    When no one said anything, she addressed the group. "Let's recap the play's basic plot before we dive into it scene by scene...the show tells the story of Brilliant Rose, who takes it upon himself to do the one thing that his father could not--defeat the seven Dark Masters. Along the way, he meets others seeking the seven Dark Masters and those that sympathize with them for one reason or another--and attempt to stop them before they can throw the martial world into chaos!"

    She went on "The play opens with Brilliant Rose going through his father's belongings--he explains to the audience, in song, some of his father's most memorable accomplishments, and he is proud to be called the son of Shining Rose."

    "Memo to self--ask Rona for a piano session later..." Brock mused as he skimmed the song's sheet music. "Or we could hook up your piano once we're done with the readthrough..."

    "Yes, I did pack my digital piano." Misty assured Brock. "...and even with 76 keys, it does have the range to comfortably play the song. I'd only get Rona involved if we needed a full set of 88 keys."

    Brock smiled when he spotted guitar chords in the sheet music. "Or I could get my guitar out later and attempt to learn the song that way."

    "Is this play an older play, or a newer play?" Liko asked. "If it is a newer play from after the Opening of Waku, the opening number would sound beautiful with a solo acoustic guitar and voice!"

    Misty thumbed back to the intro page of the script explaining the play's background. "Yeah--it WAS written after the Opening of Waku, but it's set in ancient times--so it could also work with vina and voice!"

    "That would be even prettier!" Dawn raved. "You've played your vina and sang before, right?"

    Brock nodded "Playing the vina and singing is playing guitar and singing turned up to 11." he admitted. "You're not so much playing chords as often as you are playing individual notes. But as long as you have a very easy pattern of notes that follow the chords of the song, playing the vina and singing is doable. So you can use guitar chords as guidelines while playing the vina and singing."

    He went on "What I like to do is learn the basic melody on guitar first, then transfer that picking pattern to the vina. Once I have the picking pattern down, I'll add in the vocals. Galarian tuning on a guitar mimics the D pentatonic tuning most vinas are tuned to, plus accounts for the most common accidentals in vina music."

    "Never would've thunk to try Galarian tuning that way before..." Roy mused.

    "We'll talk more about the songs and instrumental numbers later." Misty assured the others. "Getting back on track here...is there any other questions about the opening number, or its context in the play?"

    "Does Shining Rose make an appearance in this play, or has he passed on by the time the play begins." Brock wondered. "This would inform how I performed the opening song..."

    "Judging from what I've read of Act 1 and Act 2, Shining Rose is implied to be alive, but isn't a role--he wasn't mentioned in the cast list." Misty replied. "After the opening song, Brilliant Rose discovers a lot of bounty posters for the play's main villains--the seven Dark Masters. He recalls Shining Rose telling him about all the times he would be THIS close to finding the Dark Masters, but they would always elude him and cause more trouble in the martial world. So he decides to ask Sacred Ocean--my role!--what she knows about the Dark Masters, and how best to go about finally bringing them to justice in his father's stead."

    "What about YOU, Misty?" Serena asked. "Do you have any questions about your role, or any scenes you're in?"

    "Not so far..." Misty assured Serena. "But to be fair, I've read Act 1, most of Act 2, and a little of Act 3." I'm looking forward to the discussion with Brock in Act 1, Scene 2..."

    "In no particular order, the Dark Masters are Wicked Lily, Twilight Beautifly, Scarlet Arbok, Serene Phantom--the leader, Poison Moonlight, Black Lotus, and Haunting Spell." Ash explained." "Each one has their own unique fighting style..."

    "...we basically go over the 'too long, didn't read' versions of each of their styles during this discussion." Misty assured Ash. "Both our characters realize that as strong as we are, we're gonna need more help to take down the Dark Masters. So Brilliant Rose and Sacred Ocean decide to head into town to find out where the Dark Masters have last been spotted, and that's where we meet your character, Heavenly Fire."

    "Heavenly Fire has his own bone to pick with the Dark Masters..." Ash explained to the others. "He fears that his companion Invincible Rainbow was kidnapped by Haunting Spell, so he joins Brilliant Rose and Sacred Ocean on their quest--he can rescue Invincible Rainbow, and help bring the other Dark Masters to justice along the way--win-win for everyone!"

    "But he doesn't know that Invincible Rainbow has busted out of her prison, and is looking for him!" Serena smiled. "So it's kinda appropriate that the others go after Haunting Spell first..."
     

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