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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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    Episode 18: The Brilliant Rose In Training


    The rehearsal wagon hummed with activity as the Niji Troupe convened for the first acting rehearsal for "The Thundering Rose". "Okay, everyone..." Rona began as she joined the group and the other actors in the room. "Since Act 1, Scene 1 is mainly musical numbers, let's start today's practice by going over Act 1, Scene 2..."

    She went on "Since the bounty posters for this scene are still being worked on, you can just use some pieces of paper for today, Brock."

    "Where should I start?" Brock asked as he set his script on a table outside the stage area, then scattered some paper on the floor to stand in for bounty posters. "How long should I rummage in the bounty posters before I say my first line?"

    "No more than a minute or two." Rona replied as Brock went to retrieve his script. "Otherwise you risk boring the audience. What's important for this scene is that you find a poster for one of the seven Dark Masters."

    Brock nodded, then rummaged around in the pile of blank paper for a moment before finding one particular blank sheet. "Wicked Lilly...one of the seven Dark Masters!" he gasped in feigned shock. "My father always told me 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. Most any noble warrior and noble school in the martial world knows how powerful and cunning they are, so I can't do such a monumental task alone. If even my father, a revered hero, couldn't catch them, how can I do any better?"

    Rona smiled as Brock sat down in feigned thought for a moment. "Say...what if I were to ask Sacred Ocean what she knows about the Dark Masters? She has likely crossed paths with them before...so she would know how best to go about finally bringing them to justice in my father's stead."

    Rona motioned for the scene to stop. "First, I like that frustration about how Shining Rose couldn't catch the Dark Masters! I would only caution not to have that frustration veer into melodrama. A little more anger should help sell the frustration, too."

    "Just a bit more anger, careful not to make it melodramatic." Brock made a note in his script.

    "Are you ready for me?" Misty asked as she approached the stage area.

    Rona nodded. "Let's continue Scene 2, and the discussion between Brilliant Rose and Sacred Ocean. I'll read the narrator's lines for right now."

    With that, she read the narration setting up the scene's second part. "Brilliant Rose sent word to Sacred Ocean to meet him at Red Rose House, in hopes of discussing the one deed that Shining Rose could not complete..."

    She watched as Brock met Misty in the center of the stage area, with seven pieces of blank paper standing in for the Dark Masters' bounty posters. "Thank you for responding so quickly to my message, Ocean-san..." Brock explained. "I was going through some old bounty posters my father has owned for a while. While all the others have been marked with the imperial seal, signifying he claimed the bounty, these seven are not marked..."

    "...and for good reason." Misty explained as she laid out the seven blank pieces of paper in a row. "Wicked Lily, the Orange Lilly of Disaster...Twilight Beautifly, the Wings of Doom...Scarlet Arbok, the Cunning Fang...Serene Phantom--the leader of the group, called the Calm Darkness...Poison Moonlight, the Shining Despair...Black Lotus, The Infernal Flower...and Haunting Spell, the Keeper of Dark Magic."

    She went on "If these seven could even elude your father's grasp, we will need a lot more help than just us two..."

    "But of the seven, which one do we have the best shot of capturing?" Brock asked. "We will go after that one first..."

    Rona smiled as she motioned for the scene to stop, spurring Ash to find his script as the stage area was cleaned. "Okay...let's skip ahead to the next scene, when Brilliant Rose and Sacred Ocean meet Heavenly Fire, and learn that he too has encountered the Dark Masters..."

    "The last little bit of our discussion, or start when Ash makes his entrance?" Misty asked as she flipped a few pages in her script.

    "About where Ash enters." Rona replied before addressing Ash. "Now, when you enter the scene, you don't want to run, nor do you want to walk stiffly. You want to sell that your character is still confident, but losing his closest companion to a villain has shook him."

    "So not terrified, but something like scared, and yet relieved to find Misty's and Brock's characters..." Ash mused as he found his character's first line.

    With that, he nervously jogged into the stage area, getting Misty's and Brock's attention. "Fire-san, is everything well?" Brock asked.

    "You look like you've spotted a Ghost-type!" Misty agreed.

    "No...it's worse than that..." Ash began. "I fear that my companion Invincible Rainbow was kidnapped by Haunting Spell!"

    "Do you remember where Haunting Spell took Invincible Rainbow?" Misty asked.

    "Since we have chased Haunted Spell before, he probably took her to his lair on the Night Ridge." Ash replied, his character noticeably calmer. "He will likely be expecting me to come to the Night Ridge alone, so he can obliterate me with his evil magic..."

    "But what if he were met with not one, but three?" Brock smiled

    Ash reared back in surprise at Brock's suggestion. "You mean...you would journey with me to the Night Ridge?"

    Brock nodded. "You know well that Haunted Spell is one of the seven Dark Masters...one of the few foes that my father could never catch. So since we all need to track down Haunted Spell, it makes sense we journey to the Night Ridge together?"

    "And why stop with just Haunted Spell?" Ash went on. "Once I'm certain Invincible Rainbow is well, I would be happy to lend my sword and my flute to help you both track down the other six Masters..."
     
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  2. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 19: The Thundering Rose Takes the Stage


    A few weeks later, the Coponieve Theater in Nevamosa filled up quickly as people arrived to watch the Niji Troupe's performance. "Ready to go?" Misty asked as she emerged in the wings wearing a majestic blue costume with wave designs.

    Brock nodded as he admired his own green costume in a mirror. "I'm confident I can play Brilliant Rose well--and I'm confident we can show off our bond to a new audience."

    "You've got this, okay?" Roy assured Brock as he emerged from the wings in a gold costume with red and black trim, with Liko not far behind in a cyan and blue costume with snow motifs, complete with the cyan version of her heart necklace.

    "Roy and me may not be on till the end of Act 1, but you've done well capturing Brilliant Rose's wise and yet brave personality." Liko agreed. "I can't wait for our first scene!"

    Just as Serena emerged from the wings in a colorful outfit, she saw the lights flash the five minute warning. "Cheer time!" she called as May arrived in an elegant pink and purple costume, and Dawn arrived in a beautiful deep blue costume.

    "Let's do this!" Ash smiled as he emerged from the wings in a beautiful red, orange, and gold costume.

    With that, the group happily put their hands on top of each other for their customary good luck cheer. "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, KA-GA-YOU!!!!"

    ---------

    As the orchestra concluded Brock's first musical number of the play, Brock walked around the stage in feigned deep thought. "My father is revered for never giving up--once he knows his target, he will go to the very ends of Waku to find them, no matter how long it may take. But is there a foe that he has never found? Is there a new threat he can't track at the moment?"

    A pile of bounty posters at stage left got his attention. Maybe these bounty posters my have some leads!"

    With that, he rummaged around in the pile of bounty posters for a moment before finding one particular poster that was not marked with the imperial seal. "Wicked Lilly...one of the seven Dark Masters!" he gasped in feigned shock. "My father always told me 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. Most any noble warrior and noble school in the martial world knows how powerful and cunning they are, so I can't do such a monumental task alone. If even my father, a revered hero, couldn't catch them, how can I do any better?"

    Concerned murmurs filled the theater as Brock sat down in feigned thought for a moment. "Say...what if I were to ask Sacred Ocean what she knows about the Dark Masters? She has likely crossed paths with them before...so she would know how best to go about finally bringing them to justice in my father's stead."

    The lights blinked over to the narrator in her nook. "Brilliant Rose sent word to Sacred Ocean to meet him at Red Rose House, in hopes of discussing the one deed that Shining Rose could not complete..."

    The lights came up on Brock meeting Misty in the center of the stage area, with the seven bounty posters at the center of the stage. "Thank you for responding so quickly to my message, Ocean-san..." Brock explained. "I was going through some old bounty posters my father has owned for a while. While all the others have been marked with the imperial seal, signifying he claimed the bounty, these seven are not marked..."

    "...and for good reason." Misty explained as she laid out the seven bounty posters in a row. "Wicked Lily, the Orange Lilly of Disaster...Twilight Beautifly, the Wings of Doom...Scarlet Arbok, the Cunning Fang...Serene Phantom--the leader of the group, called the Calm Darkness...Poison Moonlight, the Shining Despair...Black Lotus, The Infernal Flower...and Haunting Spell, the Keeper of Dark Magic."

    She went on "If these seven could even elude your father's grasp, we will need a lot more help than just us two..."

    "But of the seven, which one do we have the best shot of capturing?" Brock asked. "We will go after that one first."

    "We would likely have our best shot at catching Haunted Spell." Misty suggested. "Although he has powerful dark magic, that power comes at the cost of physical defense..."

    ---------

    Some moments later, Ash arrived in the set of an an ancient Wakunese restaurant, getting Misty's and Brock's attention. "Fire-san, is everything well?" Brock asked.

    "You look like you've spotted a Ghost-type!" Misty agreed.

    "No...it's worse than that..." Ash began. "I fear that my companion Invincible Rainbow was kidnapped by Haunting Spell!"

    "Do you remember where Haunting Spell took Invincible Rainbow?" Misty asked.

    "Since we have chased Haunted Spell before, he probably took her to his lair on the Night Ridge." Ash replied, his character noticeably calmer. "He will likely be expecting me to come to the Night Ridge alone, so he can obliterate me with his evil magic..."

    "But what if he were met with not one, but three?" Brock smiled.

    Ash reared back in surprise at Brock's suggestion. "You mean...you would journey with me to the Night Ridge?"

    Brock nodded. "You know well that Haunted Spell is one of the seven Dark Masters...one of the few foes that my father could never catch. So since we all need to track down Haunted Spell, it makes sense we journey to the Night Ridge together."

    "And why stop with just Haunted Spell?" Ash went on. "Once I'm certain Invincible Rainbow is well, I would be happy to lend my sword and my flute to help you both track down the other six Masters..."
     
  3. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 20a: A Stage of Scarlet and Violet (part 1)


    "Attention, Niji Troupe! Our next stop is the city of Doración, where you guys will get to watch one of Paldea's own troupes perform for a change." Nemona explained over the walkie talkie in Ash's wagon a few days later.

    Ash located the walkie talkie sitting on the table that served as his desk. "Ruby Phoenix to Scarlet Lady, can you tell us about the play we're going to see, over?"

    "Okay...the zarzuela you're going to see is 'El joven héroe de Mesagoza'--or the "The Young Hero of Mesagoza'. Nemona replied back. "In many respects, it is similar to the fairy tale of 'The Brave Little Tailor'--but our hero really is as brave as he thinks he is--and swap the giant for a dragon."

    "Sounds fun!" Ash replied back, savoring a memory of a school play when he and Serena were younger...

    ---------

    In Ash's memory, an orchestra struck up a dreamy overture as a play got underway in the Pallet Elementary School auditorium. "On one warm summer's morning in a far away land, a little tailor--we'll call him Tomlin--was sitting by the window, happily sewing as he always did." a brown haired girl in an elegant minstrel's costume narrated from a nook at stage right. "Though the pay he earned wasn't much, it was enough to get by from day to day."

    She smiled at the excited audience. "It helped that Tomlin enjoyed his work." She let that hang as the lights came up on the set of a simple fantasy house, where Young Ash was pantomiming sewing a jacket.

    "Fresh berries!" a girl called from offstage. "Fresh berries, picked with love from the vine! Come buy! Come buy!"

    Young Ash snapped to attention. "Cherida's here! Let's go see what berries and treats she's brought this week!"

    After setting the prop jacket aside, he hurried offstage. He returned a few moments later with a few jars of jelly, marmalade, and other spreads. "Okay--Rawst jam and Oran marmalade go in the cupboard for tomorrow..." he mused as he placed some of the prop jars in a cupboard on the set.

    A stomach growl got his attention. "I see no harm in getting into the Grepa jelly now..." he smiled as he got some bread from the cupboard.

    He noticed the jacket as he spread some of the Grepa jelly on the bread. "But this jacket's just about done...I should finish it first, then have a snack."

    He set the bread on a plate, then returned to his work. After a few moments of quiet, the sound effect of Venonats buzzing played, annoying Young Ash from his pretend work. "Hey! Who invited you?" he asked, swatting at the imagined Venonats while the audience of parents, teachers, and friends laughed.

    Finally, Ash got a glass from the cupboard, and clomped it down hard on the table. When he counted how many feigned Vanonats he had killed, his face lit up. "Wow! I managed to kill seven with one blow...the whole town will know of this!"

    "Tomlin eagerly set to work making a suit of cloth armor, with a huge number 7 embroidered in red on the torso." the girl playing the minstrel narrated as the lights went down, save for the ruffing and thumping of Young Ash pretending to work.

    A 'ta-da!' stinger played as the lights revealed the large red 7 on Young Ash's costume. "Why stop at just the town? The whole world will hear of it!" he smiled, to some light applause...


    ---------

    "Earth to Ash..." Ash was snapped from his memories by Serena joining him in the wagon. "What were you thinking about so hard.

    "Nemona told me that the zar...zu..ela?" Ash mused, before looking to Serena to make sure he had said the Paldean word correctly.

    "You said it right--zarzuela." Serena assured Ash.

    "Nemona told me that the zarzuela we're going to see is similar to the story of 'The Brave Little Tailor'--and that brought back memories of the year we did 'The Brave Little Tailor' for the school play." Ash explained.

    "I remember that play too--you definitely had the tailor's enthusiasm down!" Serena smiled. "If memory serves, we changed the king to a queen for that show--and I got the role of the queen..."

    ---------

    In Serena's memory, an auburn haired girl in a royal costume arrived just as Young Ash woke up from his feigned nap. "Oh! Are you maybe one of the residents of the city?" he asked.

    The girl nodded. "I am Lady Aslin of Beltaine, envoy and chief advisor to Her Majesty Queen Lorie of Beltaine."

    "A royal envoy?" Young Ash gasped as he scrambled to his feet, to some laughter. "What message does Her Majesty have for me?"

    "The townsfolk are in awe that you managed to kill seven evils." the auburn haired girl explained. "Whether you killed them all at once, or one by one, I don't know, but Her Majesty is well pleased with your bravery and valor. She wishes to offer you a place in the royal court, and an honored resident of the royal city."

    Young Ash smiled. "That's why I came here. I would be more than honored to enter His Majesty's service."

    The orchestra started a majestic melody as the girl playing the minstrel narrated "Tomlin was honorably received, and he was well loved and well liked by commoner and nobility alike. The other soldiers, however, were unsure that Tomlin was even worthy of being at court. They knew well if they argued with him, and it came to blows, seven of them would fall at every blow. So they came to the king and asked him to find a way for Tomlin to prove his courage and wits..."

    The lights came up on Young Ash bowing before Young Serena--now in a majestic golden gown--on the throne room set. "Tomlin...you have proven yourself a fine resident of the royal city, and many can vouch for your courage, your wit, and joyous heart." Young Serena explained. "But there are some who don't believe in your skill. So I propose to you three challenges. If you can successfully complete them all, I will give you my only daughter, Princess Natalie, as a bride for you, and half the kingdom as a wedding gift."

    "That would be a wonderful thing for someone like me!" Young Ash smiled. "It's not every day one is offered a beautiful princess and half a kingdom! Name your challenges, and I will do it, even if I have to go to the very ends of the world and slay a thousand Hydreigons!"

    Young Serena smiled at Young Ash's enthusiasm. "All right, here is the first challenge...in a certain forest live two giants, who cause great terror with their robbing, murdering, plundering, and burning. No one can approach them without putting themselves in danger. Should it happen that you need help, a hundred soldiers will go with you."

    "I will soon subdue the giants, and do not require any help to do it." Young Ash grinned. "He who can hit seven in one blow, has no need to be afraid of two."

    Excited chatter filled the hillside as the orchestra started an adventurous theme. "And so, Tomlin went forth, and the hundred soldiers followed him." the girl playing the minstrel narrated as the lights came up on Young Ash and a crowd of a hundred boys and girls in prop royal armor arrived on a forest set...


    ---------

    "Emerald Raikou to Ruby Phoenix, we're almost there." Brock's voice over the walkie talkie snapped both Ash and Serena to attention. "Once we arrive, meet Rona in the city square to get your tickets for the show. We have some of the best seats in the house!"

    "Copy that, Emerald Raikou!" Ash replied before motioning for Serena to follow him down to the common area to disembark. I'm so excited! Not only do we get to share our culture, but we get to see some Paldean plays too!

    To Be Continued...
     
  4. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 20b: A Stage of Scarlet and Violet (part 2)


    The caravan was in high spirits as the Niji Troupe arrived at the Teatro Dorado to see "The Young Hero of Mesagoza". "So is there anything we should keep in mind while watching a zarzuela?" Ash wondered as he and Serena followed Juliana to the boxes that had been reserved for the troupe.

    "No different from seeing a play anywhere else in the world." Juliana assured Ash. "It is not unheard of to clap along to the more upbeat instrumentals, though it is not a good idea to clap along while songs are in progress."

    "Okay--when in Paldea, do as the Paldeans do." Ash reminded himself as the lights flashed the five minute warning.

    "If you don't understand what's going on, I'll do my best to explain who the characters are, and what is happening." Juliana explained as the lights went down and the excited chatter in the theater quieted.

    The theater orchestra struck up a regal melody as an actor playing a herald addressed a crowd of extras playing townspeople with some ominous news--a Hydreigon had appeared in Mesagoza. "The play begins with a herald informing the people of Mesagoza that a Hydreigon has been spotted in the area." Juliana explained, telling the group the basic gist of the Paldean being sung onstage. "He assures them not to worry, because for the moment, Princess Olinda is safe, and the royal knights are tracking the Hydreigon."

    "Olinda...that's a pretty name for a heroine." Misty smiled as the scene changed to the interior of a Paldean castle long ago.

    "In the royal castle, Princess Olinda shares her worries to her lady, Rufina--or Rufa, for short." Juliana whispered the synopsis of the next scene to the group as an actress in a beautiful amber gown talked with another actress in a purple Paldean lady's gown. "She muses that though she herself is a brave warrior, she cannot go to slay the Hydreigon, because the people need a leader. So she convinces her father the king to put out a call for heroes."

    "So Princess Olinda's more than a pretty face to be rescued." Dawn smiled as she watched the two actresses carry on a likely exciting discussion, never mind she and many others in the troupe only knew a survival level of Paldean. Only Brock was fluent, she remembered, so he could understand what was being said and sung onstage. Judging from the gentle smile on his face, he was savoring every word and note of music being performed.

    An interlude spurred Juliana to set the next scene. "Elsewhere in Mesagoza, a brave young man named Leon hears the king's summons, and tells his beloved Vanessa he is going to try and slay the Hydreigon. Vanessa, being a wise lady for her age, tells him what dangers the quest will entail, and how to pass the trials leading to and inside the Hydreigon's lair.

    "She's beautiful!" Serena smiled as the actors playing Leon and Vanessa arrived on the path leading to the set of a typical ancient Paldean house, the actor playing Leon singing a heroic song all the while to the actress playing Vanessa, who wore a colorful costume that evoked her name's meaning--a Beautifly.

    I may not understand a word that's being said or sung, but this troupe has real talent! Ash thought as Vanessa led Leon inside the house, revealing another set of a Paldean scholar's house. So Vanessa's dad is a scholar by trade...

    He perked up when the actress playing Vanessa said a Pokémon's name he recognized. Kitsune! Kitsune appears in Paldean lore too!

    He looked over at Serena, who was grinning ear to ear as the actress playing Vanessa described how to reach Kitsune's cave, and open it, in Paldean. No matter what language you speak, the way to reach and open Kitsune's cave is the same--the cave sits at the edge of a field of flowers, and will only open to those noble hearts who know the divine song to open it.

    He didn't understand what the narrator said next, but he figured Leon was traveling to Kitsune's cave, judging from how the actor playing Leon was walking around the dark stage in a spotlight.

    A big smile formed on his face when he heard the actor playing Leon sing Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo... some moments later on the set of a flowery field, spurring the theater to cheer as a cave set rumbled open. "Does it feel weird to hear Kitsune speaking Paldean at all?" he discretely whispered to Serena as an actress playing Kitsune welcomed Leon inside the huge cave set decorated in a rainbow of sparkling crystals.

    "No more weirder than hearing her speak English, Wakunese or Kalosian." Serena whispered back, admiring the beautiful red, orange, and gold costume the Kitsune actress wore. "To me, Kitsune is Kitsune, no matter what language she speaks. I do like the costume the troupe picked for this Kitsune, though." Ash nodded, and turned his attention back to the stage, as the actress playing Kitsune began a beautiful dance, accompanied by a Paldean guitar.

    He motioned to Brock "What's the difference between your guitar and a Paldean one?"

    "Paldean guitars--or classical guitars, since they are sometimes used in classical music--are nylon strung, while most acoustic guitars are strung with steel." Brock whispered back, aware of the whorls of fire and light flashing across the stage as the Kitsune actress danced. "The nylon is what gives the Paldean guitar its distinct soft sound." Ash nodded to show he understood, then turned his attention back to the beautiful show of fire and light on the stage...
     
  5. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Interlude: New Plays on the Road


    "That zarzuela was wonderful!" Misty raved as the caravan got back on the road a few days later. "And gracias, Juliana, for translating for us." she smiled as Juliana joined the group in the common wagon.

    "De nada--I'm glad you all enjoyed the show." Juliana replied. "I'll be happy to translate again if you want to see another one as you travel."

    "I'll admit it was a little weird to be in the audience for a change..." Ash admitted. "But the zarzuela inspired me to try and write some new plays!"

    "Easy there, Ash..." Brock smiled as Ash quickly grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil to brainstorm title ideas. "While Rona came up with a decent sized list of plays for our Paldean tour, any additions to the list have to be approved by her first before you or the writers write anything. So keep that in mind while brainstorming."

    Serena nodded in agreement. "So go ahead and let your imagination run wild with title and plot ideas, then we'll narrow down what you come up with to a reasonable list for Rona to approve."

    "So make sure your final list has ideas that you REALLY want to see onstage." Brock added.

    "No qualms there--the worst Rona can do is say no." Ash agreed before thinking for a moment. "'The Harp of the Bright Mountain', anyone?"

    "That actually sounds great!" Brock smiled. "I'll happily play the lead if Rona approves it!"

    Ash smiled as he wrote down the title with "Brock as the lead?" in parenthesis. "'Displaying the Family Treasure' sound interesting to anyone?"

    "That sounds interesting!" Liko smiled. "It could be about a family planning to display their sacred treasure, only to discover it missing--and it's up to the main characters to solve the mystery and get the treasure back."

    "A martial mystery sounds fun!" Dawn agreed. "Complete with a Wakunese twist on a typical 'I suppose you're wondering why I called you here' reveal."

    "If Wakunese TV is anything to go by, those kinds of reveals quickly devolve into the episode's final fight as the magistrate or detective character goes over the evidence." Brock mused. "Sometimes the culprit breaks down and confesses everything, but usually they are so angry at having their plot exposed, they try to fight the heroes one last time, and get defeated."

    "Another variant I've seen has the culprit seemingly break down and confess everything, but surprise! the bad guy is itching for a fight." Misty remembered. "Said bad guy then gets trounced by the heroes, all is well in the martial world, the end until the next episode."

    Inspired, Ash dug a coin from a pocket. "Heads, our bad guy wants a fight immediately, tails, he pretends to break down and confess first."

    The others watched as Ash flipped the coin. "It's tails..." Roy reported as he picked up the coin and dropped it in Ash's palm. "Our bad guy pretending to break down and confess everything should be a nice twist if we go with that play idea."

    Ash wrote "Finale idea--bad guy pretends to confess everything to set up final fight" next to the title. "Ten titles okay to give to Rona?"

    "Ten titles is a reasonable number." May assured Ash. "You know that Rona doesn't really like sifting through long lists."

    Ash nodded. "Two down, and eight to go...'Journey of the Glorious Orchid'? May could play the lead..."

    "I'm sure that costume would look beautiful!" May smiled, picturing herself in a beautiful purple, white, and gold costume for a moment.

    Ash wrote "May as the lead?" next to his title, then addressed his friends. "Course, if you guys have any ideas to contribute, I wanna hear them!"

    "'The Lofty High Mountain'?" Roy suggested. "Not sure what or who would be on said lofty high mountain, but I'm sure the writers would be able to think of something cool!"

    "A little vague, but I'm sure the writers could work their magic." Ash assured Roy as he wrote Roy's suggestion down. "Anyone else?"

    "'A Beautiful Fragrance at the River Market'?" Serena suggested. "The plot could involve soap in some way..."

    She looked over at Misty. "That is, if you don't mind us digging through what you've collected so far as props. Failing that, we can get more in the next spa town we pass, or I can ask for some Kalosian soap..."

    "If we go ahead with that idea, feel free to use what's in the bag as props for the stall." Misty smiled. "You'd make the perfect Kalosian trader..."

    "That sounds interesting!" Ash agreed as he wrote down the title, then "Serena as the lead/major character?" next to it. "That's five ideas--keep'em coming!"

    "If I may contribute an idea, how about 'The Tales of the Flute King'?" Nemona suggested as she passed by the room.

    "That sounds like fun!" Ash smiled as he invited Nemona in the room, then wrote down her suggestion. "Who's next?"

    "'The Bright Moon Over the High Mountain'?" Dawn suggested. "Not sure what it would be about just yet..."

    "There is actually a vina tune with that title--several different versions." Brock remembered. "So that tune could be important to the story..."

    "I'm sure it's a beautiful song..." Nemona smiled. "Do you have the vina with you right now? I would love to hear it!"

    "Unfortunately, it's packed away with the orchestra's instruments at the moment...." Brock sighed. "But once we reach our next stop or camp somewhere, I'll make sure to play it for you."

    "Deal!" Nemona smiled, her eyes shining at the promise of hearing an exotic instrument for the first time...
     
  6. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 21a: Silence in a Place of Song (part 1)


    "Okay, Niji Troupe!" Nemona's voice crackled over Ash's walkie talkie, getting the group's attention. "Our next stop is the city of Pantalla. It is famous in Paldea as for filming various TV shows and movies, as well as its thriving music scene. Singers of all genres perform here, and there is a piano competition held here in the summer..."

    "Pity it's the wrong time of year for that..." Misty smiled. "I would love to see all the pianists that compete--maybe get a few tips on improving my own piano playing!"

    "Ironically, for a place revered for music, our play this time actually has a silent character..." Brock interjected before finding his copy of the play's script in his bag.

    He waved to get Liko's attention. "You're sure you don't mind playing a silent character this time?"

    "I'm sure." Liko assured Brock. "It should be a welcome challenge of acting when I can't say anything at all."

    "Having played one of the four winds before, I can offer you some tips and some advice on playing Nan, and properly wearing the respirator." Dawn offered. "But for now, let's focus on our readthrough..."

    "Anyone have any questions about their role, or the play itself, before we begin discussing the play scene by scene?" Brock asked.

    "How can you narrate, voice act for me, and play a character all at the same time?" Liko wondered, impressed at what Brock would be asked to do in the play.

    "If I am narrating or voicing you, I'll be in a nook at stage right." Brock explained. "If I'm in character and part of the play's action, I'll be out onstage with you guys. "This is also why Noble Raikou is never in the same scene as Nan--since I can't do two things at once."

    "That makes sense..." Liko smiled.

    "Anyone else have any questions?" Brock asked.

    When no one said anything, he began "Okay...let's start going over 'Phoenix Follows the Wind'..."

    The ruffling of paper filled the common wagon's main room as Brock found the play's synopsis on the script's first page. "The show tells the story of Bright Phoenix..."

    "My role!" Ash called.

    "...who longs to make a name for himself as a hero." Brock went on, acknowledging Ash with a smile and a nod. "One day, he befriends Arceus' envoy, the Venerable Delphox..."

    "My role!" Serena called, smiling all the while.

    "When Bright Phoenix asks the Venerable Delphox how he can become a hero, the Venerable Delphox replies that he should follow the south wind, and good things will happen." Brock went on, acknowledging Liko with a nod. "Bright Phoenix agrees, and ends up following Nan, the South Wind, on a grand adventure as he protects the disguised Empress..."

    "My role!" Misty called.

    "...from evil sects, con artists, thieves, and corrupt officials." Brock concluded before turning a few pages to Scene 1 of Act 1. "The first scene covers Bright Phoenix's encounter with the Venerable Delphox, and his first meeting with Nan, the South Wind..."

    Liko nudged Dawn as Serena asked Brock a question. "Do you have the respirator I will wear during the play, or is the effects crew still making it?"

    "I do have your respirator, actually..." Dawn replied as she rummaged in her bag for a moment, then pulled out a large round, white hard full-face respirator mask with a blue south kanji painted on it. "This was why you did the fitting before we got back on the road--the effects crew asked me to see if you can wear it comfortably before we begin rehearsals."

    She went on "Now, open wide, and I'll put this in. Once it's in your mouth, bring your lips together into an O shape. If it feels comfortable in that shape, and it doesn't feel loose, that's how we know it fits. If it feels loose or you feel uncomfortable, the universal signal that something is wrong with the mask is to make a 7 shape with your index finger."

    "7 shape with the index finger mean's something's wrong with the mask--right!" Liko noted before opening her mouth for Dawn to put the mask in.

    "How does the mask feel, Nan?" Brock asked.

    When Liko flashed him a thumbs up, he smiled as Dawn carefully tied the mask to secure it. "That evening, Bright Phoenix pondered what the Venerable Delphox had said..." he read his narration for Scene 2 of Act 1.

    "'Follow the south wind, and good things will happen'..." Ash mused his first line of Act 1, Scene 2 in character. "Just what did the Venerable Delphox mean when she said 'follow the south wind, and good things will happen'?

    He went on "Of the Four Winds, Nan is the joyful one, bringing the warmth and flowers of summer. But anger her, and you will know the fury of a summer storm!"

    Inspired, Brock flicked on a fan, making Ash look around the room in feigned awe. "Wind...I feel a warm breeze from the south...could it be?"

    Liko then did an elegant jump before Ash, posing playfully as Brock read Nan's lines in a mimic of Liko's voice. "Greetings, warrior of the phoenix. I am Nan, the bringer of joy and warmth."

    Liko pointed out Serena as Brock read Nan's next line. "The Venerable Delphox asked me to help you on your quest to become a hero."

    "Very well then, Lady Nan...what must I do to become known as a great hero?" Ash asked.

    Brock was about to read Nan's next line when he saw Liko make the 7 signal. "Dawn--something's wrong with Liko's mask!"

    "She's probably not used to it yet, so I'll just take it off for now." Dawn assured Brock as she untied the mask, allowing Liko to remove it.

    "My mouth couldn't hold the position anymore..." Liko explained. "I will say I'm impressed you know how to mimic me without it being obvious it is a boy mimicking a girl."

    "Yeah--how do you do girl voices so well?" Roy asked, impressed by Brock's mimicry skill.

    "Number one rule of mimicking a girl realistically--resist the urge to go into the falsetto. We don't want a Miss Pignite kind of voice if we are going for realism." Brock explained. "Secondly, listen to the female voice you want to mimic A LOT..."

    Dawn joined Liko on the couch near the table, aware of Brock's conversation with Roy. "I will say this much--the masks do take getting used to. So wear yours a little bit every day, gradually increasing the time you wear it until you can wear it for the whole play. You are allowed to take it off while you're backstage, though..."
     
    #26 Jan 27, 2024
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2024
  7. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 21b: Silence in a Place of Song (part 2)


    A few days later, the Niji Troupe arrived in a grand theater to rehearse "Phoenix Follows the Wind". "How's getting used to the mask going?" Dawn asked as she and Liko arrived in the backstage area.

    "I'm getting better at wearing it." Liko replied. "I can wear it comfortably for about an hour now--so what I've been doing is wearing it for another hour, taking it off to allow my mouth to rest from holding the position, then wearing it for an hour again."

    "Well, the good news is, you won't have to wear it for a very long time this time." Dawn assured Liko. "We're only starting to block Act 1 today--you're only in two of the first three scenes of Act 1."

    "And even then, I'm only in a small part of Scene 3--this is because Brock is both voicing me and playing his own character in that scene." Liko remembered. "I still have to respect him for narrating, voicing me, and playing a character himself all at the same time."

    "He's had a lot of practice, so juggling multiple roles comes naturally to him..." Dawn replied as she led the way to the girls' dressing rooms...

    ---------

    "That evening, Bright Phoenix pondered what the Venerable Delphox had said..." Brock read his narration for Scene 2 of Act 1.

    "'Follow the south wind, and good things will happen'..." Ash mused his first line of Act 1, Scene 2 in character. "Just what did the Venerable Delphox mean when she said 'follow the south wind, and good things will happen'?

    He went on "Of the Four Winds, Nan is the joyful one, bringing the warmth and flowers of summer. But anger her, and you will know the fury of a summer storm!"

    At this, a crew member flicked on a fan, making Ash look around the huge theater in feigned awe. "Wind...I feel a warm breeze from the south...could it be?"

    Liko then did an elegant jump before Ash, posing playfully as Brock read Nan's lines in a mimic of Liko's voice from offstage. "Greetings, warrior of the phoenix. I am Nan, the bringer of joy and warmth."

    Liko pointed out where Serena had been standing minutes before as Brock read Nan's next line. "The Venerable Delphox asked me to help you on your quest to become a hero."

    "Very well then, Lady Nan...what must I do to become known as a great hero?" Ash asked.

    Liko pointed offstage as Brock read as Nan "In a few moments, the Empress will be coming this way. But you may not recognize her, for she comes in disguise."

    "In disguise?" Ash gasped in feigned fear. "Why would Her Majesty have to travel in disguise?"

    Brock stifled a giggle at Liko's playful acting, then read Nan's next line for Liko to pantomime. "She is traveling in disguise because the prime minister Twilight Blade, believing she has fled the palace, has taken the throne for himself, and will attempt to proclaim himself Emperor very soon. Luckily, some members of a resistance movement have found a way for Her Majesty to return to the palace without Twilight Blade knowing, and reclaim her rightful throne. If you can help the Empress reclaim her rightful throne, she will reward you as the hero you are. But fear not! Though this journey is dangerous, I and the Venerable Delphox will guide you every step of the way."

    Rona smiled as Liko danced offstage. "Okay, and scene! Very nice pantomime, Liko! You can unmask for now--we'll work on how to fine tune your pantomime here in a little while. For now, let's skip ahead to when Bright Phoenix encounters the imperial caravan."

    With Rona occupied positioning Roy, May and Dawn, Liko found Brock backstage. "How do you think I did pantomiming to your words?"

    "My only suggestion is to try and give each mentioned character their own distinct movement or pose--simply pointing them out wouldn't be clear enough for the audience." Brock suggested.

    He was snapped from his thoughts by Rona calling. "I need Noble Raikou, too!"

    "Coming!" Brock called. "Where do I need to be for the caravan's arrival?" he asked as he looked over the platform and cardboard Ponytas that was standing in for a caravan.

    "Noble Raikou is the Empress' most trusted scout, so you should be as close to Misty's side as you can--or you could be walking ahead of the puppet Ponytas and the wagon."

    "Walking ahead makes more sense to me." Misty suggested as she climbed on the platform. "Real Ponytas would probably be spooked by all the noise a real caravan would make, so I'm kinda glad we went with puppets..."

    "The puppets are still being built, so just pretend this is your caravan for now." Rona assured Misty before addressing Ash. "I know this doesn't seem like much of a caravan right now, but can you at least pretend this platform is a beautiful imperial caravan for today?"

    "I'll do my best." Ash replied as he thumbed to Scene 3 of Act 1.

    After receiving Rona's cue to begin, he walked out before the platform and bowed before it, getting Brock's attention. "Good day, young hero--what might you require of Her Majesty?"

    "I have heard of the grave danger Her Majesty is in, and wish to lend my sword to protect her as she travels." Ash explained.

    Misty studied Ash for a moment from the platform. "Though he may look humble in appearance, he looks very skilled with the blade he carries..."
     
    #27 Feb 10, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2024
  8. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Interlude: The Costumes that Follow the Wind


    The notes of a bansi rang through the backstage area as Ash emerged from a fitting room in a majestic orange and gold costume, playing the bansi he would use in the play. "Not bad, Bright Phoenix!" Roy smiled as he admired his own maroon and gold costume in a mirror, complete with maroon knuckles.

    "Thanks..." Ash smiled. "You look good, too! But I'm looking forward to seeing Serena's and Liko's costumes..."

    As if on cue, Liko make an elegant jump before Ash and Roy, now wearing a ornate red, purple, and gold costume. "Like it?"

    "You look good, Liko..." Rona replied as she arrived with her camera. "Will you mask up for me so I can get some pictures of you as Nan?"

    "Sure!" Liko hurried off to find the respirator mask, just as Serena arrived wearing an orange, white and gold costume. a pair of costume Delphox ears in hand. "Let me get my ears on, and you can gets some shots of me!" Serena offered.

    With Rona occupied taking pictures of Serena in costume, Roy noticed Liko returning, now wearing her now familiar respirator mask. Inspired, he flicked on a fan, spurring Liko's costume to billow out majestically as she bravely posed before Ash. "Wind...I feel a warm breeze from the south...could it be?" Ash gasped in character, just as Rona took a picture immortalizing their impromptu performance.

    Misty was next to arrive, wearing a blue and silver costume with dragon motifs. "This is what you'll see me in for most of the play." she explained to the others. "I have strict instructions not to show you the empress outfit until we rehearse my reveal as Empress Glorious Dragon."

    "That's right." Rona agreed as she watched Liko remove the respirator. "I want you guys' reaction to Misty's character's true nature to be natural--but I can assure you it is fit for an empress!"

    "Keep in mind that only a trusted few know her true nature--including my character." Brock agreed, stopping to admire his green, pale green, and gold costume in a mirror for a moment.

    Serena noticed May arriving in a pink, orange and yellow costume. "Oh wow!"

    "That's beautiful!" Liko smiled as she draped the respirator mask over her arm.

    "I can't wait to dance in this..." May smiled. "Dawn's coming, okay?" she assured Rona.

    Rona noticed Dawn arriving in a purple, white, and gold costume. "There's Shining Deerling!"

    She motioned the group together. "We will rehearse in costume for the next two weeks, have two dress rehearsals, and then three performances. I know you want to see Misty as the Empress, but you won't see that until tomorrow's costumed rehearsal..."
     
  9. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 21c: Silence in a Place of Song (part 3)


    As the people of Pantalla made their way inside the Gran Teatro for the group's performance, Ash looked out from the wings at the rapidly filling auditorium. "Ready to go?" Brock asked as he joined Ash in the wings.

    "As I'll ever be..." Ash replied as he took a deep breath to quell the Beautiflies in his stomach. "We've worked so hard to get 'Phoenix Follows the Wind' ready...and I'm still impressed you've managed to juggle a role, narrate, and voice Liko all at the same time!"

    "Going between a narrator and a character's fairly easy by now, but I will admit juggling three roles at once has been a challenge..." Brock assured Ash. "But we've rehearsed this enough by now that I can do all three with minimal issues."

    He smiled as Liko led the others out to the wings, just as the lights flashed the five minute warning. "Cheer time--let's do this!" Roy smiled as he can Liko began building the pile of hands.

    After a few tense seconds, the group cheered "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, KA-GA-YOU!!!" before separating their hands...

    ---------

    "That evening, Bright Phoenix pondered what the Venerable Delphox had said..." Brock narrated from a nook at stage left over the orchestra's mystical interlude some time later.

    "'Follow the south wind, and good things will happen'..." Ash mused from a spotlight near the center of the stage. "Just what did the Venerable Delphox mean when she said 'follow the south wind, and good things will happen'?"

    He went on "Of the Four Winds, Nan is the joyful one, bringing the warmth and flowers of summer. But anger her, and you will know the fury of a summer storm!"

    At this, a crew member flicked on a fan, making Ash look around the huge theater in feigned awe. "Wind...I feel a warm breeze from the south...could it be?"

    Liko then did an elegant jump before Ash, posing playfully as Brock read Nan's lines in a mimic of Liko's voice from offstage. "Greetings, warrior of the phoenix. I am Nan, the bringer of joy and warmth."

    Liko pointed out where Serena had been standing minutes before as Brock read Nan's next line. "The Venerable Delphox asked me to help you on your quest to become a hero."

    "Very well then, Lady Nan...what must I do to become known as a great hero?" Ash asked.

    Liko pointed offstage as Brock read as Nan "In a few moments, the Empress will be coming this way. But you may not recognize her, for she comes in disguise."

    "In disguise?" Ash gasped in feigned fear. "Why would Her Majesty have to travel in disguise?"

    Brock stifled a giggle at Liko's playful acting from his nook, then read Nan's next line for Liko to pantomime. "She is traveling in disguise because the prime minister Twilight Blade, believing she has fled the palace, has taken the throne for himself, and will attempt to proclaim himself Emperor very soon. Luckily, some members of a resistance movement have found a way for Her Majesty to return to the palace without Twilight Blade knowing, and reclaim her rightful throne. If you can help the Empress reclaim her rightful throne, she will reward you as the hero you are. But fear not! Though this journey is dangerous, I and the Venerable Delphox will guide you every step of the way."

    With that, the lights went down as Liko danced offstage, spurring the orchestra to play a majestic melody. Here she comes...I can't wait to see the crowd's reaction to the imperial caravan! Ash thought from his position at stage left.

    Awed gasps and "Wow"s filled the theater as two puppet Ponytas and the grand caravan came onstage, along with Brock, Roy, May, Dawn, and a few extras playing more of Misty's retinue. There it is!

    After a few tense moments, he stepped before the beautiful caravan and bowed in respect, spurring Brock to motion for the puppeteers performing the Ponytas to stop. "Good day, young hero--what might you require of Her Majesty?" he asked Ash.

    "I have heard of the grave danger Her Majesty is in, and wish to lend my sword to protect her as she travels." Ash explained.

    Misty studied Ash for a moment as she climbed from the imperial coach. "Though he may look humble in appearance, he looks very skilled with the blade he carries..."

    After thinking for a moment, Misty gave her verdict. "Very well, young warrior. You may lend your sword to the caravan. What does the martial world know you as?"

    "I am called Bright Phoenix, Your Majesty." Ash replied in character.

    Misty smiled as the orchestra began a hopeful melody. "Then rise, Bright Phoenix. I hereby welcome you as a royal swordsman..."
     
  10. WavePearl

    WavePearl Believer in Possibilities

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    Episode 22: Conquering the Dread


    "Good morning, Niji Troupe!" Nemona's voice crackled over Ash's walkie talkie a few days later. "In just a few minutes, we will be arriving in Spatillo, home of Mercuria Studios. You might know them as the creators of 'Castlevania: Lords of Shadow', and 'Metroid Dread'..."

    Ash snapped to attention. 'Metroid Dread?' I've wanted to play that so bad!"

    "Maybe if you asked Rona very nicely, we can take you to the Mercuria studios, so you can finally play 'Metroid Dread' with the devs that made the game." Brock assured Ash as Ash hurried to get dressed. "If you're confident in your Paldean skills, you might ask to try playing the game in Paldean!"

    "Once I can get through it a few times in English, I'll see about trying to play in Paldean." Ash assured Brock as he got his room in order, retrieved a well loved gray-black Switch, carefully set it and a few games inside a Zelda themed carrying case, then made his way out of his wagon and following Brock down the hall to the common area, where Misty was waiting.

    "So you heard we're headed to where Mercuria Studios is..." Misty smiled as she saw Ash holding his Switch case. "The beauty of the Switch is, it can play any game, from anywhere. So a Wakunese Switch can easily play Unovan and Europan copies of the same game just fine."

    "I know, I'm just excited to play a game I've always wanted to play, with the ones that made it!" Ash smiled, excited for a potential visit to Mercuria Studios...

    ---------

    "...and here is the QA testing room." a black haired woman explained as she led Ash, Misty, and Brock inside a room filled with TVs with various game consoles connected to them. "This is where our team of beta testers try out our games before we ship them, and guests from all over can give our games a try."

    "I've always wanted to try out 'Metroid Dread'...is that okay?" Ash asked as he got out his own Switch, and ejected the copy of 'Journey of the Sacred Pearls' inside, allowing their guide to insert a cartridge of 'Metroid Dread'.

    Once Ash was comfortable in a chair with a Pro Controller and a set of headphones, he was met with an ominous version of the Metroid theme. "Nice touch..." he mused as he pressed A to start the game.

    "Is it true there are still Wakunese messages in the game files?" Misty asked as Ash carefully read the opening text about Metroids and the X-Parasite on the TV screen.

    The woman nodded. "Our partners at Nintendo gave us those messages to help us create the game's major cutscenes, and get the feel of Samus' world right.--but you really have to dig into the code to see them."

    Okay, so this is the too long, didn't play version of 'Metroid Fusion', which I never played... Ash thought as he continued watching the opening cutscene.

    Once he had control of Samus, he examined the in game map. "Okay--if an area's blinking, something important's there--got it!"

    The woman smiled as Ash wasted no time finding the first missile tank in the game. "Nice job! Most players just come in looking to get from Point A to Point B..."

    "Cardinal rule of Metroidvanias--look everywhere!" Ash smiled before being surprised by a glitching robot!

    "Careful, Ash!" Misty called as Ash followed the in game directions for countering robot attacks.

    Brock was both relieved and excited as Ash shook the robot off his Samus' trail. "You got it! Go! Go! Go!"

    I probably can't take on one of those robots just yet... Ash thought as his Samus rolled to safety into another room, then absorbed some mysterious energy to power up her weapon.

    "I see...that energy powers up your gear..." Misty mused.

    Ash, meanwhile, balked when he finally dispatched the robot from before, only for Samus' weapon to return to normal. "The bad news is, that powerup only lasts or a few shots--or I only had enough energy to use as the plot demanded."

    Nervous giggles filled the air as Ash retraced his steps back to the cave he started in, and discovered a save point. "If this is as hard as the commercials claimed, I will save every chance I get!"

    He did not, however, expect to find another hostile robot waiting for him in the next area! "Not again!" he almost screamed as he frantically pounded buttons, the flashing red lights in the game world and frantic music making his heart pound all the while...

    ---------

    Once he had collected himself, Ash listened as his Samus was briefed on the hostile robots he had narrowly escaped from. I definitely am not ready to take on those robots at this stage...my goal in the EMMI Zones for now is to survive--got it!

    "You okay, Ash?" Brock asked. "If it's any consolation, I wasn't expecting that either..."

    "Yeah..." Ash replied as he eagerly hit the SAVE button. "At least now I know what to do if I find the EMMIs again--just run for now."

    The woman nodded in agreement. "Eventually, you will be able to fight them, but this early in the game, it's a better idea to run when you find them. Many of our testers reported being startled or panicked in the first EMMI scene, even when they knew it was there."

    "When the game has 'dread' in the title, expect to be scared a few times along the way." Misty agreed, making nervous laughter fill the room as Ash continued exploring the game's eerie sci-fi world...
     

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