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EVERYONE: Pokemon: The Shimmering Stage

LightningTopaz

Brock's Pikachu
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(rated E10+ for fantasy stage violence)

Episode 1: An Indigo Invitation

After a successful performance of "The Legend of Celestial Crown Mountain", the Kagayou's popularity started to grow. While each troupe was talented, fans and casual theater goers alike agreed that the Niji Troupe, and the six best friends in it, were the star attraction. No matter which troupe was performing in the majestic theater in Pallet Town, the show was guaranteed to sell out, or come close to selling out. With each play they performed, the seven troupes grew more and more confident about larger and larger audiences.

Then one day, an ornate envelope postmarked at Indigo Plateau proved the starting point for the young company's biggest stage yet!



"Let's see here...fan mail and personal mail goes in each person's mailbox, and the office crew will handle the bills and logistical things." Ash mused as he arrived in the theater's foyer to deliver the massive haul of mail the theater had received.

He first made his way down the hall to the office common area, aware of the whirs and whines of PCs and machines running, and the th-thunk, th-thunk, th-thunk of the main copier creating copies of promotional posters of the Aoi Troupe's newest play.

After sorting out the mail that the office workers handled, he rang a small bell by the entryway as he departed to let those in the office know the mail had come.

Next, he made his way to the training complex's common area, where his friends were relaxing. "Mail call!" he announced before setting down the collection of letters, magazines, comics, and coupons on the table.

"Nice, new 'Acoustic Life'!" Brock smiled as he eased out a magazine depicting a group of acoustic guitars on the cover. "Don't worry, I'll still clip out any tunes you guys want to learn."

"'Aquatica Monthly' scuba diving issue..." Misty smiled before settling to read the magazine with a beautiful Alolan reef on the cover.

After setting aside some comics for himself, Ash noticed an ornately designed red, blue and gold envelope addressed to him. The return address made his heart race. No way--Lance personally wrote me a letter?

Excited, he carefully opened the envelope and read the beautiful letter inside:

Dear Ash,

I have heard many wonderful things about your Tawame troupe, and how it has revitalized Pallet Town's downtown area. You all have done well bringing this wild and adventurous form of theater to new audiences, and now we of the Kanto League wish to see your skills.

I am formally inviting you to bring one of the troupes (or the whole company, if you wish) to perform in the Grand Indigo Theater as part of the festivities for this year's League...


Ash couldn't believe his eyes--Lance, the League Champion, was personally inviting the Kagayou to Indigo Plateau?

Serena noticed Ash's shocked look. "What's the matter, Ash? You look like you've seen a Gastly!"

Ash took a few deep breaths to calm himself, then told the group "You guys are not gonna believe this, but Lance has personally invited us to perform for the Kanto League this year!"

Brock carefully took the envelope from Ash's shaking hand and looked over the letter. "This is definitely Lance's writing, all right! We need to get the troupe together and Rona!"

"Why stop at just Indigo Plateau?" May smiled. "We could put on our first tour, and perform across Kanto on the way to the League!"

"What's this about a tour?" a familiar voice asked.

Ash noticed Rona approaching. "Champion Lance invited us to come perform at the League this year..." he explained as he gave Rona the letter and its envelope. So May figured that now was the time we take one--or more-- of the troupes on the road."

Rona nodded as she took the letter. "You are in luck, everyone. One of the theater's top supporters took up a huge collection across Kanto, and bought seven sets of genuine Tawame touring wagons, one for each of the troupes. This way, any of the troupes can tour. So you may just get your wish to perform for Lance, the Elite Four, and the other League officials.

As the others hurried off to pack, Ash asked. "Can I at least write Lance a reply, so he knows we are coming?"

"Sure!" Rona replied as she gave Ash a piece of paper, an envelope with theater designs, and a Pikachu stamp.

Excited, Ash started writing his letter. "Dear Champion Lance, we are both honored and humbled by your offer to perform at the League...

---------

A few weeks later, the mood inside the theater was electric as the Niji Troupe's members prepared for their first real tour. "This is it, everyone...we're hitting the road on our grand tour today!" Dawn smiled as she met the group in the theater's grand foyer.

Ash smiled as he organized his bags and a gig bag holding a Pokeflute and several whistles. "Got my packing done last night, and my bansi's safe with the other instruments in the orchestra's wagon."

"Well, go get your stuff so we can start loading up the wagons." Misty replied as the group hurried off to retrieve their bags and supplies for the long journey. "Once we're all loaded up, Rona will give us final instructions before we set out."

"Unlike Tawame troupes of old, we're not camping out in the open every night." Brock explained as he brought over his bags and a well loved guitar case. "While we will have to do that at some points on the route, Rona's found lodging that can accommodate the caravan in most every place we plan to stop."

May smiled when she saw the guitar case. "Have acoustic guitar on a trip, will travel."

"That, and my vina's packed away in the orchestra's wagon." Brock explained. "So if we need a break from all the trad Wakunese tunes, we can play trad Galarian, Kalosian, and Unovan tunes at night."

Serena arrived with a well loved instrument case of her own among her bags. "I'm bringing my own fiddle and my mandolin."

"I can at least play percussion around the campfire, if Rona deems dancing too dangerous in the open..." May smiled as she brought over her bags, with Dawn not far behind.

"Okay...are we SURE we have everything we're gonna bring on the trip?" Brock asked. "If you need to go back for something or double check that everything's in order, do it now."

Something occurred to Misty. "Come to think of it, I DID forget a few important things!" With that, she hurried down the hall to the actor's residential complex.

She returned a few moments later with her own fiddle case and a large canvas shopping bag depicting a trio of Squirtles playing in soap bars. "There...now I'm ready to go. I'm sure everyone in the Aoi troupe will take care of the theater while the rest of us are on the road."

"Rona gave the Aoi's impresaria a wireless GPS monitor-so if she does have to send mail to us, she knows exactly where any of the touring troupes are." Brock explained. "Let's go load the wagons."

---------

Rona smiled as the group arrived with their gear. "Good morning, all--once you've loaded your wagon, I'll explain how each stop on our tour is going to work, okay?"

"Right!" the group chorused before hurrying towards the line of colorful wagons in the theater's parking lot.

"I assume this one is mine..." Ash smiled before climbing in a gold wagon with chrysanthemum designs interwoven with red phoenixes.

He noticed Misty carrying the shopping bag. "What's that for?"

"Soap bars!" Misty smiled. "In many places, even in Waku, it is acceptable to give a bar of soap along with or in place of money. So if you wanna see the show, just donate what you can, or give a bar of soap. What's not kept for souvenirs or our personal use will go in here."

"That's a clever idea..." Rona smiled as she looked in on Ash organizing his gear in his wagon. "You do have Wi Fi in your wagon--each wagon has its own personal network, so you have online access even in the middle of nowhere."

Ash smiled as he unpacked his gear, turning the wagon into what more or less resembled a bedroom, complete with a sturdy countertop with drawers. This made plenty of room to eat or set something down. A laptop and a charging station for a red 3DS and his PokeNav sat on the table, and a sleeping bag was rolled up in the right corner. A plug station for the laptop and any portable appliances was tucked away in a corner, so it wouldn't be jostled. His instruments were in a shady corner by the sleeping bag, and his personal items and everyday clothes were in the back, so they wouldn't fly out of the wagon or damaged by the elements.

Once sure he was happy with his setup, Ash took his PokeNav, climbed from the wagon, and hurried to meet the others out in the center of the empty parking lot...

---------

"Now, here's how every stop on our tour will work..." Rona explained. "We will rehearse shows while we travel, and stay for a week at each stop, performing two performances of a show at each stop. On days we don't perform, you guys are free to relax and see the sights. If you have family in the area, you can visit them, as well."

"If you're from an area, you can show the troupe around, right?" Misty asked.

"Of course." Rona smiled.

A buzz from his PokeNav got Ash's attention, snapping him from Rona speaking. Hi, Ash--good luck on your grand tour! Delia's text read, complete with a Pikachu emoji and a Moltres emoji.

Thanks. Ash typed back, looking up to be sure he didn't miss anything important. You can call or text anytime--our wagons have wi-fi.

Another buzz got his attention. hey it's gary, best of luck on the grand tour, superstar!

Thanks.
Ash typed back, aware of the Pokemon wranglers hitching Ponytas to the wagons. All our shows will be broadcast on our official site and on MyTube, if you wanna watch.

can't wait.
Gary typed back. Safe travels, and hope to see you in the audience!

I'll do my best.
Ash typed back. The briefing appeared to be over, so he returned to the wagon.

He watched as one of the crew members closed up the wagon. "We'll be departing shortly." he smiled.

Ash nodded. "Just had to say my goodbyes to family and friends first."

After a few tense moments, he felt the wagon begin to move as the team of Ponytas gracefully made their way out of the theater's parking lot and into the wagon lane on the road, to cheers from a throng of onlookers. Our grand tour of Kanto, here we go! he smiled as he invited his faithful Pikachu Tintri on his lap and settled in to read a comic...
 

Greninjaman

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Do you still plan on doing your anime remix series or is that not being continued at this point?
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 2: A Stage of the Ancient Past


For a while, the caravan's journey was uneventful. In between rehearsals for the troupe's performance of the play "Climbing a Mountain to See Arceus", Ash had spent the time reading what comics and novels he packed, responding to messages, and enjoying the view of the plains and hills rolling by, as well as the Pokemon wranglers walking alongside the wagons.

A beep from a small wireless radio lying on the table got his attention. "Emerald Raikou calling Ruby Phoenix, come in..." Brock's voice crackled over the tiny radio's speaker.

Ash scrambled to the table and snatched up the radio. "This is Ruby Phoenix..."

"Great Rainbow says we should be arriving at our first stop soon." Brock explained. "Once we get there, we'll set things up, and take the stage at 6 tonight in the Graceful River Station's theater, rain or shine. We can also get supplies, explore the post station, and rest in between shows."

Ash smiled. "Roger--see you in a few minutes. Ruby Phoenix out."

He smiled as he put the radio back. Those wireless radios Rona got us are an Arceus-send! We can talk to each other even though we may be in very different wagons or locations!

Just then, he spotted a clump of ancient rooftops coming into view, with a river flowing by the former post station's front gate. That has to be the Graceful River Station--so named because the station sat by a river.

He nudged his Pikachu awake as the wagons came to a stop near a fork in the road. "Hey...we're here."

[mmm...are you gonna perform yet?] Tintri yawned.

"Not yet--we're getting close to the Graceful River Station--the first stop on the old Indigo Road after Pallet Town. Like a lot of roads in ancient Waku, there were post stations--essentially checkpoints on the route--where travelers could rest, replenish supplies, send and get mail, and catch the latest plays, just to name a few things. Many of the post stations and many old theaters on the route are restored and preserved--to give you some idea of what visiting a post station would've been like in ancient times."

He was about to say more when a boom got his attention. "Oh no..."

He felt the wagons start to move again as the Ponytas made their way into the post station. Despite the pouring rain, many of the historic station's residents cheered as the caravan passed through the town square and headed for a
majestic building with a sloped roof by the north gate. Looks no different than our theater... Ash thought as the wagons arrived in the caravan unloading area. The Pokemon wranglers recalled the Ponytas to their Poke Balls to rest, then opened up the wagons to allow the actors and other crew to stretch and assist in unloading.

Misty arrived some moments later. "I was looking forward to performing in the station's outdoor theater tonight, but I'm no Castform--I don't control the weather."

"Good thing Rona had the foresight to have a plan B in case our outdoor venue got rained out." Ash assured Misty. "Fingers crossed that we'll get to perform our second show in the stage pavilion like we planned..."

"We will--the rain will move out by tomorrow night, so we can perform in the station's outdoor pavilion later this week." Rona replied as she studied a radar on WeatherNav. "For tonight, we'll have to perform in the theater--KNTO says that the rain will last through tonight, making it too dangerous to perform outside."

She addressed the crowd of concerned actors. "Actors, go on inside the theater and get ready for tonight--we're not letting a little rain ruin our first tour stop!"

"Yeah--the show must go on!" Ash agreed before leading the charge into the stage door...

---------

Inside the theater, the audience watched as Brock--now in a majestic deep green costume with pale green, white, and gold trim--helped Midori to her feet. "Are you okay, milady?"

"I think so..." Midori replied as she brushed off her own green and gold costume. "Thank you for rescuing me from those rogues...I need to find bodyguards to lead me to Celestial Crown Mountain."

"Bodyguards?" Brock was interested.

Midori nodded. "The Enduring Dark Sect was after me because I can sing ki in my song...I will never use my gift to bring disaster on this land!"

Brock nodded to show he understood. "Let me take you to Verdant Dawn Valley. You'll be safe there."

The lights went down over a hopeful interlude, hiding Brock and Midori making their exit. "And so, Emerald Raikou led Green Fletchling to Verdant Dawn Valley, where he and the other five Noble Spirits trained and rested when they were not adventuring. Once there, he told the other Noble Spirits of Green Fletchling's gift--and how he believed she was key to the prophecy..."

"Wow"s and awed chatter filled the theater as the lights came up on a beautiful ancient Wakunese enclave in a flower filled forest. "Everyone! I have someone you all need to meet!" Brock called to no one in particular as he and Midori arrived on the set's central square.

"Welcome back, Raikou-san...who is your guest?" Misty asked as she met Brock and Midori.

"This is Green Fletching." Brock explained, prompting Midori to wave hello. "I have a reason to believe she is the singing Fletching that Seer Summer Grace foretold."

"You've found the singing Fletching?" May asked as she emerged from a foliage filled pathway, intrigued in Midori.

"When the Fletchling sings to awaken Arceus, evil will be judged, and a new era of peace will come." Ash quoted the play's hopeful prophecy as he climbed over a rock to join the others. "This explains why the evil sects are ambushing any that sing well or play music well. I have had to hide my flute when I am traveling."

"If I know Summer Grace, her prophecies are rarely wrong." Dawn assured Ash as she entered from stage left. "So how do you know that this lady is the one?"

"She claims to be able to sing ki in her song." Brock explained to the group, acknowledging Serena with a nod as she made her entrance from stage right. "The only way to see if she speaks the truth would be to have her sing a spell."

"Well...I can conjure a rain shower..." Midori offered. "Is that an acceptable spell?"

"That will do just perfectly!" Ash smiled as the group made a circle for Midori to dance in.

"Okay...one spring rain, just for you." Midori smiled.

The orchestra started a dream-like melody as Midori sang a mystical melody, making "rain" and "sapphires" fall on the stage as she spun and weaved through the circle...
 
Last edited:

LightningTopaz

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Episode 3: Golden Raikou at the Bright Rock


"Midori stole the show at Graceful River Station..." Misty smiled as the group departed the station a few days later. "Now it's Brock's turn with a familiar character..."

"That explains why I heard Brock cheering last night, after Rona delivered us our scripts..." Ash smiled as he watched the plains of Kanto roll by from a window in the common wagon. "Another Golden Raikou play?"

Brock nodded. "A Golden Raikou play I've longed for us to perform for a while--'Golden Raikou Subdues the Demon'.

"I tried out for Princess Jade Kirin, but that's okay--I think I can work with Violet Deerling." Dawn smiled. "Since we can't exactly have a full readthrough with the whole troupe in our caravan, Rona said to look over and discuss the script and your role yourself--although she is available in the lead wagon for questions and concerns."

"We can have a readthrough here--just the six of us!" Ash suggested. "At least until Rona manages to make a wagon big enough for a whole troupe readthough."

"Besides, it'll help pass the time until we get to Bright Rock Theater." Dawn agreed.

"Since you've played the lead role before, Brock, will you serve as the leader for our group readthrough?" May asked.

"Sure." Brock smiled as he opened his copy of the script to the cast list, where he saw his role highlighted in green. "The show is part of the Golden Raikou series of plays, and features his main nemesis of all his rogue's gallery--the notorious warrior Argent Murkrow. It is explained in this play that Argent Murkrow has an impressive rap sheet, but kidnapping the princess was the final straw. Alongside a few companions, Golden Raikou seeks to finally bring his cunning foe to justice, rescuing Princess Jade Kirin along the way."

'They say that a good actress with charisma and good comic timing is important to pull off Argent Murkrow...so I wonder who got that part?" May wondered.

"If they weren't trying out for the princess, a lot of girls were trying out for Argent Murkrow." Ash remembered. Even Serena tried out for her--and this is the first time I know of that Serena wanted to try out for a bad guy."

"Argent Murkrow is mainly a funny type of villain--so I thought that playing a bad guy would be a challenge for me." Serena explained. "But Scarlet Delphox will scratch my itch for a comical character perfectly."

"A girl named Autumn got the part of Argent Murkrow, if I recall correctly." Misty told May. "Serena was actually Rona's third choice, though I don't remember who Autumn beat out."

"Moving on...the audience doesn't have to have seen any of the other Golden Raikou plays to understand this one." Brock assured the others. "The narrator gets the audience up to speed, then I have a slightly comical monologue that elaborates on some of what the narrator said to start Act 1. As I'm talking to the audience while walking down the Spring Trail, Ash meets me there and lets me know about Princess Jade Kirin's capture."

"Then we all sing the rap sheet song..." Misty mused. "With Princess Jade Kirin being kidnapped as the Cheri Berry on top.

"Let Rona know we need a session with the piano later." Serena reminded Brock. "So we can practice the rap sheet song.

"The song's harder than it looks to play..." Misty admitted. "I could just barely play it on my own piano!"

"I think it needs to be played on a proper 88 key piano, not a 61 key or 76 key keyboard." Serena interjected. "Your piano's fine for band practice, but not so much Tawame songs."

"I gathered as much last night..." Misty sighed. "That said, some Tawame songs do work on 61 keys."

"If and when you do upgrade to a full size 88 key digital keyboard, Mountainwings are your best bet." Brock assured Misty. "Really nice silver ones too."

"Point noted." Misty smiled before turning her attention back to the script. "Anyway, after the rap sheet song, we discuss our plan of attack based on what we know about the kidnapping--Argent Murkrow took Princess Jade Kirin in broad daylight--right out from under the guards' noses. She then took her to her hideout in the Twilight Moon Cliffs--but the billion credit question is--what route did Argent Murkrow take?"

"So we agree to travel to the capital, and learn what we can from the imperial court and the guard." Brock went on. "Personally, I'm glad the journey to the capital was cut--that could've been a whole other play.

"Traveling to the Aiiro City or some other capital or important location makes up an entire genre of plays--appropriately called 'traveling plays'. May explained. "But this is a full on chase play, since we are chasing Argent Murkrow the whole play. Her allies do try to stop us, but our goal is to catch Argent Murkrow and rescue Princess Jade Kirin."

"I'm looking forward to seeing what the crew Rotoms will design for the imperial palace scene, when Golden Raikou and his companions are formally charged with rescuing Princess Jade Kirin." Ash smiled.

"Does Princess Jade Kirin just sit there in a cell the whole time, or does she have an active role?" Serena wondered.

"She does help us out with what she can as the play progresses--similar to what Peach does in 'Paper Mario 64'. Brock explained as he looked ahead to the play's ending. "She also pitches in for the final fight after I let her out--but in all the confusion, Argent Murkrow escapes with a promise that she'll have her revenge next time."

"But knowing Golden Raikou, he'll catch her once again." Dawn smiled, making the others laugh in agreement...
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 4: Golden Raikou and Argent Murkrow Meet Onstage


"Wow..." May gasped as the group arrived on the stage of Bright Rock Theater a few days later. "I can't wait to perform in here..."

"The set crew will finish setting things up once we finish our acting rehearsal." Ash explained. "We'll get our costumes in another day or two, do some dress rehearsals, then we're ready for our debut here. For now, let's focus on today's acting rehearsal."

"Good idea!" May smiled.

She noticed an auburn haired girl talking to Rona by stage left. Oh yeah...I need to ask Autumn for a practice duel later, after today's rehearsal...

Once sure Autumn was done speaking with Rona, she waved to get her co-star's attention. "Autumn?"

"What is it, May?" Autumn asked, making notes in her script all the while.

"Do you know if this theater has a training room for fight scenes or not?" May asked. "I was wanting to practice our big fight in Act 2 later, after rehearsal."

Autumn nodded. "I scoped out this place while the crew was bringing stuff in, and there is a fight training room backstage--a very roomy one, I might add. I'll see about reserving it for later tonight, after rehearsal and dinner. Bring your A game!"

May smiled. "I'll bring more than that--I'm bringing my S game!"

---------

Later, Rona motioned for the group and Autumn to gather around her for a briefing for a key scene. "Now...this is a comical scene, but it is important for the rest of the play--Golden Raikou and the others trying to get an answer out of Argent Murkrow as to where Princess Jade Kirin is. Golden Raikou doesn't know that Argent Murkrow has taken the princess to her hideout in the Twilight Moon Cliffs. Likewise, Argent Murkrow doesn't want to let her nemesis know where the princess is. This should be a great banter scene, although you can play it like a rap battle, if you like."

"We'll try it the banter way first, then go from there." Brock replied.

"We can improv this scene, right?" Autumn wondered.

"If you want to improvise the dialogue, you can--just remember the blue lines have to be included somewhere in the scene." Rona replied.

She next addressed the others. "This means you guys will have a chance to fire off some zingers with Argent Murkrow too. So let's have everyone get into position and try out as much of this scene as possible."

Cheers filled the theater as the group hurried to their places. "I'm gonna come like I'm really steamed, so the more nonchalant you can be to my anger, the better." Brock smiled before hurrying to his place at stage right.

Autumn smiled back. "I'll do my best."

---------

Rona watched as Brock stormed into the scene in feigned anger. "There you are!" he cried in feigned anger. "Where is the princess?"

"What princess? Am I not beautiful enough to be a princess?" Autumn smirked before elegantly jumping off a prop rock, to giggles from Rona.

"Don't give us that, Argent Murkrow!" Ash fired back. "We know you kidnapped Princess Jade Kirin right from under the imperial guard's noses! So where is she?"

"And is she alive?" Misty demanded.

"Calm down, calm down...yes, I have the princess, and yes, she's just fine inside my little hideout." Autumn assured the group. "But I'll never tell you where my little hideout is!"

"Maybe this will make you talk?" Brock growled before taking a familiar golden swirled bow and readying an arrow, never mind he wasn't actually going to fire the prop arrow.

"Easy on the pointy things, Stripey-Meowth..." Autumn grinned, ever aware of the prop arrow Brock was aiming at her. "I'll talk if you won't make me your target!"

"Okay..." Brock replied as he lowered his bow. "Start talking--where is Princess Jade Kirin?"

"Once I got her away from the palace, I took a stroll through Maple Woods..." Autumn explained. "Then we walked along Summer Bloom Trail--since the princess was under the impression I was taking her to the imperial gardens..."

"But the imperial gardens are east of the palace--and you were going west!" Dawn noted.

"An astute observation, Sea-Doe." Autumn smirked, to Rona's giggles. "Then after passing through the Spring Gate, we passed by Willow Lake, where I at least gave her a royal lunch."

"We're gonna be here all day at this rate..." Misty sighed in feigned frustration over Autumn's next few lines.

"She's just trying to get out of telling us where the princess is by stalling us." Ash agreed, a note of frustration in his voice.

"But what if she's telling the truth?" May suggested, aware of Brock listening in feigned frustration over Autumn's rambling. "What if the route she is describing is the way to her hideout?"

"If it is the way to her hideout, then we just found a huge clue..." Serena replied. "If it's just a giant red Goldeen, we'll be wandering the realm for all eternity."

"...then after passing Twilight Pond, we arrived at the cliffs." Autumn concluded sometime later. "But good luck finding the princess in there!"

Brock thought for a moment. "Okay...I'm gonna try following your claimed route. But you know very well what will happen if this is just a wild Yungoos chase..."

"I swear to Arceus, this is the truth!" Autumn pleaded. "Just follow the route I described, and you'll find my hideout and the princess!"

"All right, and scene!" Rona smiled as she applauded. "First of all, you guys did very well improvising your banter!"

"Thanks!" Autumn smiled. "We might change it up every show, but I think what we did here will do nicely for opening night."

"If we can make you laugh, we'll probably get the audience laughing too." Brock assured Rona. "We'll just see how this set of banter works opening night!"
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 5: Golden Raikou's Debut at the Bright Rock


"All right, everyone...the facts are these." Brock--now in a beautiful gold and orange robe-like costume that evoked a shiny Raikou--explained to the others as he paced the set of an ancient Wakunese house, not unlike a detective. "We know Argent Murkrow took Princess Jade Kirin in broad daylight--right out from under the guards' noses. She then took her to her hideout in the Twilight Moon Cliffs. The billion sen question is--what route did Argent Murkrow take?"

"Your guess is as good as mine..." Serena sighed as she slumped in her chair, her costume creating the illusion she had become a rose.

"Even though the princess was taken without the guards seeing, there had to have been SOMEONE that saw what was going on." Misty--now in a sapphire studded blue and white costume--explained. "Either there is someone at court that saw but didn't inform the guards, or someone saw, but was too afraid to tell anyone what was going on."

"The second theory sounds more plausible." May replied, her colorful costume creating a rainbow of tiny lights on the stage. "The only way to know who saw anything is to travel to the capital."

Brock smiled, then accepted a piece of paper and a prop ancient Wakunese pen from a stage ninja. "I will send word to His Majesty that we see the tears of the imperial family, and wish to help find the princess."

Misty watched Brock write imagined Wakunese characters on the paper for a moment. "If I know Argent Murkrow, she will do everything she can to throw us off the trail..."

"Yes--she can sweet-talk her way into anything." Dawn agreed as she got up from the table, her majestic purple costume shimmering in the stage lights. "That, or she can talk her way out of any trouble she's in."

The audience laughed in agreement as Brock finished writing his imagined message, then looked over the imagined writing. "No matter how far she runs, I will not rest until she is locked away in a dungeon cell."

Then something occurred to him. "But this is Argent Murkrow here...she is crafty enough to find her way out of the imperial dungeons in all of three minutes."

The audience laughed at the wry comment as the lights went down...

---------

"Golden Raikou and his companions wasted no time in journeying to the capital." the narrator went on over an interlude from the orchestra. "Once there, they questioned anyone at the court that had potentially seen the whereabouts of Princess Jade Kirin. After gathering what information they could, they presented their findings to the Emperor and Empress..."

Awed murmurs went up on a set of an imperial throne room, where the group had bowed before the actors playing the Emperor and the Empress in respect. "Rise, Golden Raikou--I await your report." the actor playing the Emperor began.

"After questioning all those that had seen Princess Jade Kirin on the night she was kidnapped, this is the rough timeline I managed to piece together..." Brock explained over a tense stinger. "We know that Princess Jade Kirin was discovered missing at the first hour of the Emboar. The actual kidnapping itself would've likely taken place sometime during the Growlithe Watch."

The actor playing the Emperor nodded in agreement. "This is correct--the princess was safely in her chambers as the Combusken Watch ended."

"This is what I do not understand..." the actress playing the Empress interjected. "How could the kidnapper gotten past the guards and into the palace?"

"A secret passageway, or the kidnapper had a Jigglypuff sing to put the guards to sleep?" Ash interjected, his white, blue, and gold outfit a stark contrast to all the red and gold on the set.

"A Jigglypuff would have still made a sound..." the actor playing the prime minister explained. "When I managed to rouse the guards, they said the kidnapper had silently knocked them out. A more likely scenario would've been sleeping darts, or an herb to induce sleep."

"Speaking of which..." Dawn smiled as she showed the actors a prop dart. "I found some of these while we questioned the guards."

"The sleeping darts would be consistent with Argent Murkrow's known methods to kidnap someone." Brock agreed. "She prefers to knock out any security, take her target, and go before being discovered."

"Then that is why we did not know Jade Kirin was missing until an hour after the fact." the Empress mused.

The actor playing the Emperor addressed the group. "As thanks for your assistance in bringing our daughter home, you and your companions have imperial authority to pursue and capture Argent Murkrow, and bring Princess Jade Kirin home safely." A majestic melody began as the lights went down...

---------

Concerned murmurs filled the theater as Brock stormed into the scene in feigned anger. "There you are!" he cried. "Where is the princess?"

"What princess? Am I not beautiful enough to be a princess?" Autumn smirked before elegantly jumping off a prop rock, to giggles from the audience.

"Don't give us that, Argent Murkrow!" Ash fired back, to more laughter. "We know you kidnapped Princess Jade Kirin right from under the imperial guard's noses! So where is she?"

"And is she alive?" Misty demanded.

"Calm down, calm down...yes, I have the princess, and yes, she's just fine inside my little hideout." Autumn assured the group. "But I'll never tell you where my little hideout is!"

"Maybe this will make you talk?" Brock growled before taking a familiar golden swirled bow and readying an arrow, never mind he wasn't actually going to fire the prop arrow.

"Easy on the pointy things, Stripey-Meowth..." Autumn grinned over the audience's laughter, ever aware of the prop arrow Brock was aiming at her. "I'll talk if you won't make me your target!"

"Okay..." Brock replied as he lowered his bow. "Start talking--where is Princess Jade Kirin?"

"Once I got her away from the palace, I took a stroll through Maple Woods..." Autumn explained. "Then we walked along Summer Bloom Trail--since the princess was under the impression I was taking her to the imperial gardens..."

"But the imperial gardens are east of the palace--and you were going west!" Dawn noted.

"An astute observation, Sea-Doe." Autumn smirked, to the audience's laughter. "Then after passing through the Spring Gate, we passed by Willow Lake, where I at least gave her a royal lunch."

"We're gonna be here all day at this rate..." Misty sighed in feigned frustration over Autumn's next few lines.

"She's just trying to get out of telling us where the princess is by stalling us." Ash agreed, a note of frustration in his voice.

"But what if she's telling the truth?" May suggested, aware of Brock listening in feigned frustration over Autumn's rambling. "What if the route she is describing is the way to her hideout?"

"If it is the way to her hideout, then we just found a huge clue..." Serena replied. "If it's just a giant red Goldeen, we'll be wandering the realm for all eternity."

"...then after passing Twilight Pond, we arrived at the cliffs." Autumn concluded sometime later. "But good luck finding the princess in there!"

Brock thought for a moment. "Okay...I'm gonna try following your claimed route. But you know very well what will happen if this is just a wild Yungoos chase..."

"I swear to Arceus, this is the truth!" Autumn pleaded. "Just follow the route I described, and you'll find my hideout and the princess!"
 

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Episode 6: An Iconic Story in Another Land


"Oh, YES!!! YES! YES! YEEEEEEESSSS!!!!" Misty cried as she dashed into the caravan common area a few days later. "We're doing 'The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix' for our next play at New Village Station!"

"Looking forward to reprising Mizuka again?" Ash smiled. "As soon as Rona announced the play, I've been eager to reprise Karu again."

"What's all the excitement about?" May asked as she peeked in the room, where Misty was still dancing with excitement in the center of the room.

"We're doing what's essentially the Tawame version of 'The Three Musketeers'." Ash explained, acknowledging Serena and Dawn with a nod as they came in the room. "That play spurred the formation of a Tawame community in Kalos."

"You'd be right--that was the play Diantha used to introduce the Tawame theater to Kalos, and the first one ever performed in Kalos." Serena explained. "So if we ever get to tour Kalos, it has to be on the list of plays we perform."

"Moving on..." Misty composed herself. "Since auditions haven't opened yet..."

She passed out book copies of the script to the others. "I ordered us all a copy of the play's script for our own reading enjoyment, and to study for our performance. So in lieu of a proper readthrough, the boys and I can answer any questions you might have about the play."

"Thanks, Misty!" Dawn smiled before eagerly opening her book to the first page.

"Yeah, thank you!" May agreed as she began studying the first scenes of Act 1.

"If you're not familiar with the play, the story basically goes like this..." Misty explained. "The show tells the story of Chikaru Hououji, or Karu to those who know him well."

"My role!" Ash smiled.

"He is one of the Empress' bravest knights, and is often trusted with the most dangerous and complex missions that none of the other knights are willing to do." Misty went on, acknowledging Ash with a grin. "One day, he unearths a plot by the prime minister to kill the Empress at the height of the Phoenix Festival--the anniversary of this kingdom's founding. Horrified at what he discovers, Karu embarks on an urgent quest to save the realm alongside a band of new friends. That's without giving too much away."

"So if Ash is Karu, which role do you play?" Dawn wondered.

"I play Mizuka, a wandering warrior Karu meets on his search for warriors in arms willing to help him stop the evil prime minister. She feels sorry for Karu's predicament, and offers to lend her skill to his cause."

"I play Eichi Kitora." Brock explained. "He is a skilled hunter who is very wise in the way of folklore, and is never without a song in his heart. But like the Raikou, he hits hard when provoked."

"I see..." Serena mused as she paged through her book. "If I had to pick today which role I most wanted to try out for, I would try out for Kitsuki. She seems like a fun character to play..."

"Kitsuki would be perfect for you, Serena!" May agreed. "You would do well with your comical abilities!"

"Aw, thanks." Serena replied. "Delphox born characters are usually comical tricksters, but some can be heroic, and some can be flat out comical. Kitsuki falls under the lovable noble rogue kind of character--one of my favorite character types to play.

She thumbed through her book some more, smiling at every scene with Kitsuki and Karu in it. "You and I are gonna have so much fun bantering, Ash..."

"Who said we had to stick to the script for those scenes?" Ash agreed. "If we improved those scenes every time, the show would be both hilarious and timely."

"You guys have impeccable comic timing, that's for sure." Brock agreed as he carefully read over Eichi's first scene in Act 1. "May...Dawn...if you had to pick today the role you wanted to try out for, who would it be, and why?"

"Hm..." Dawn thought for a moment as she skimmed another scene. "Youka sounds like an interesting character--a strong Deerling-born instead of the quiet priestess type we've seen in every play we've done so far. Not that I mind quiet priestess Deerling-borns, but I do want to try different types of roles and different types of Deerling-borns."

"I'm probably going to try out for Ageha, the actress that doubles as an imperial spy." May replied. "She seems like a fun character to play--and I get to dance and fight in the same play."

"An actress playing an actress..." Dawn grinned. "Actress-ception!"

Everyone laughed at Dawn's joke. "That was a GOOD one, Dawn!" May wheezed as she held in tears of laughter.

"Yes, that was a great jab--and you'll be doing a lot of those if you get to play Youka." Brock explained after composing himself. "Youka may be a wandering hero, and one of Eichi's closest companions, but she has a razor sharp wit, and isn't afraid to use it."

"All the more reason I want to try out for her." Dawn agreed. "I can practice my comedy, and my heroic acting in the same role!"

Just then, Rona arrived in the room. "I see you're all enjoying reading over our next play together?" she asked.

Ash nodded. "When Misty, Brock, and me were training to be Tawame actors, 'The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix' was the play we performed as the culmination of our training."

"So it holds a special place in our hearts, alongside the story it was based on." Misty agreed.

"So if it's okay with you, we'd like to reprise the roles we played that first time." Brock requested.

Rona thought for a moment. "You three will have to go through the same audition process as everyone else, but I will keep you guys in mind for the roles of Karu, Mizuka, and Eichi. If no one emerges as a stronger candidate for those roles, you may reprise them. But be thinking about a Plan B role you three may want if someone does emerge as a stronger candidate for those roles."

"Since we know we ideally want to reprise Karu, Mizuka, and Eichi as our first choice, we'll drop by our preferred Plan B and Plan C roles later tonight." Brock suggested.

"May, Dawn and me will do likewise, since we know what our first choice roles are too." Serena agreed.

"All right--I will see you all in the audition room in the morning." Rona smiled as she departed...
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 7: The Reunion of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix

Ash was jolted awake a few days later by the buzz of a text message. It had been a few days since the auditions for "The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix" had ended, and Ash had been beside himself with excitement to know if he would be reprising Karu or not. He had peeked at the bulletin board in the practice stage's foyer at least once a day, despite Rona's assurances to be patient. He had read over the entire play multiple times, both to refresh his memory on Karu's lines and find new approaches to playing Karu now that he was a proper Tawame actor with some plays under his belt.

The blinking envelope on the PokeNav screen spurred him to rub the sleep from his eyes. Maybe the parts have been posted already... he thought as he swiped to unlock his PokeNav, and opened MessageNav.

Good morning, Ash. Brock's message began. I am pleased to announce that the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix are getting back together!

Three pictures showing "Chikaru Hououji--Ash Ketchum", "Mizuka--Misty Williams", and "Eichi Kitora--Brock Harrison" under Brock's message made Ash's sleepy look of bemusement turn to euphoria! "YESSSSS!!! I DID IT!!!"

Excited, he typed back are u there in the foyer now?

Yeah...
Brock replied. That was how I got the cast list pictures showing our roles.

did Serena, May, and Dawn get the roles they wanted?
Ash typed, his fingers trembling with excitement as he typed each letter.

After a few moments, another set of three pictures arrived, showing "Kitsuki--Serena Lacroix", "Ageha--May Alder", and "Youka--Dawn Solberg" on the cast list. There you are. Brock typed back. Now, go spread the good news!

Ash nodded at the grinning Dusk Lycanroc emoji that ended Brock's message, then tapped on his personal thread with Serena. u awake yet? he typed.

yeah it's 8:00--why? Serena typed back.

After copying Brock's picture of his role and Serena's role in the cast list, Ash captioned the two pictures We got'em!

After a few tense moments, a GIF of a happy dancing Delphox came in reply. when do we get our scripts? came Serena's next message.

After checking his thread with Rona, Ash typed back Rona said that if u got a speaking role, u can get your scripts starting at 9.

ok--lemme get dressed, and I'll be over there asap.
Serena typed back, complete with a joyful Delphox emoji.

Ash nodded, then tapped over to his ongoing thread with May after copying the picture of May's role in the cast list. Good morning! he typed with a smiling Pikachu emoji.

morning...are the parts up yet? May typed.

Ash grinned as he pasted the picture of May's role in the thread. you got Ageha!

A glittering GIF of a spinning joyful Beautifly came in reply. oh boy! i'll be over right away! May typed back. can u ask brock to make Nanab nut pancakes? We can discuss da play over breakfast!

good idea!
Ash typed back, complete with a blissful Pikachu emoji.

He tapped back to Brock's thread for a moment. May wants to know if you can make your Nanab nut pancakes to celebrate us getting the parts we wanted.

Sure--I'll get cooking while you guys get your scripts.
Brock typed back, with a Dusk Lycanroc in a chef's hat emoji. Misty doesn't know the parts have been posted yet, so notify her too.

ok.
Ash typed back.

After copying the picture of Dawn's role, he clicked over to his thread with Dawn. hey u up yet?

just got out of the shower--why?
Dawn typed back.

Ash pasted the picture of Dawn's role in the thread. You got the part! he captioned the picture.

YAY! Dawn typed back, complete with a GIF of a chorus line of Piplups. let me feed Kori and Lola, and I'll be over there to get my script.

Meet in the caravan's common wagon--Brock's making breakfast!
Ash typed back, finishing his message with an excited Pikachu emoji.

He smiled as he copied the picture with Misty's role. Now to see Misty's reaction to reprising Mizuka!

He typed Mornin--u up yet?

yeah--getting ready over here.
Misty typed back. Any word on the parts yet?

Inspired, Ash went back and copied the pictures showing his, Misty's, and Brock's roles, then pasted them into Misty's thread. da raikou, dragon, and phoenix are getting back together!

A glittering GIF of a singing Primarina came back in reply. REALLY??? Misty typed back, complete with a starry eyed Primarina emoji. I'll be over there to get my script ASAP!

Meet in the common wagon--Brock's making breakfast to celebrate!
Ash typed back.

I would love those delicious Nanab nut pancakes about now! Misty typed, with an ecstatic Primarina emoji.

Ash smiled at the emoji, then switched back to Brock's thread one last time. Everybody's notified--I should be there shortly!

OK--pancakes are just about done, and working on some sausages and a topping bar.
Brock typed back. Hope you guys are hungry!
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 8: The Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix Begin Rehearsals

The rehearsal wagon buzzed with activity as the group arrived for rehearsals a few days later. "It's great to be revisiting an old favorite..." Ash mused as he settled in at a table backstage to study his script. "Especially since now we have more than a few plays under our belt..."

"The beauty of Tawame training is, it never expires or goes away." Brock smiled as he arrived backstage. "Once you've been trained, you're a Tawame actor for life. Although, having a refresher course for 'The Legend of Celestial Crown Mountain' did help."

"Yeah--we had a bit of a long gap in between our training and starting the troupe." Misty explained. "But now that the troupe is off the ground, and getting popular, we've put our training to good use many times over."

Ash nodded. "So, what scenes are we going over today?"

Brock looked out at Rona walking Serena through her part of a scene. "Looks like the scene where Kitsuki and the main trio meet. Rona also mentioned wanting to go over the scenes where Karu meets Mizuka and Eichi at the very least--and maybe the scenes with Ageha and Youka if time permits."

Ash heard Rona call "Okay, I need our three leads!" "It's time...let's make this play even better than the first time now that Serena, May and Dawn are performing it with us!"

---------

"Okay...at this stage in Act 1, the three leads are together, and Eichi has led Karu and Mizuka to the town of Dawnridge." Rona explains. "Kitsuki meets the group, Karu explains the story so far, and Kitsuki decides to join the main three because she sees it as a new adventure--much to Karu's chagrin."

Misty checked the script as the boys and Serena chuckled over the thought of performing the humorous scene. "Do we really need to have Karu recap what he has told Mizuka and Eichi twice already? I see some comic potential between Serena and a 'too long, didn't read' version of why Karu is on his quest. There's also lots of comic potential with Karu and Kitsuki, too."

"Yeah--Kitsuki could see the quest as another fun adventure, while Karu tries and fails to explain that people's lives are in danger." Brock suggested.

"Why don't you adlib what you'd imagine that scene to look like, and I'll get the writing team to revise the script." Rona suggested. "So let's try the scene with your suggestions and see how it looks, then we'll go from there."

Brock nodded, then motioned for Ash and Misty to follow him backstage. Once he received the cue to begin, he lead the way onstage. "Welcome to Dawnridge, everyone..." he began, making a grand gesture to an imagined town. "The crossroads of new beginnings."

"It's beautiful!" Misty gasped as she looked around the imagined town in awe.

"With so many people passing through here every day, there's bound to be rumors here..." Ash agreed. "I could find a lead as to when the prime minister could make his move, and how he plans to kill the Empress."

"If you want to find rumors and information, this is a good place for them." Brock smiled.

"What's all this about a plot to kill the Empress?" Serena asked as she met the group from stage left.

"Perfect timing, Kitsuki-san..." Brock grinned as Serena approached. "These two are journeying together because of rumors that someone at the imperial court could try to kill the Empress at the height of the Phoenix Festival..."

"Really, now?" Serena gasped. "Judging from your companion's attire, he must be one of Her Majesty's knights, yes?"

Ash nodded. "I am Chikaru Hououji, or Karu, if you prefer. I am indeed one of Her Majesty's knights--and I'm searching for a way to stop the prime minister's plot to harm Her Grace at the height of the festival."

"Now, why would someone pick a festival, of all times, to hurt a wise and just ruler like Her Majesty?" Serena asked with a giggle. "A festival should be a happy day, filled with games, feasting, music, and dancing...ah! I'm getting excited thinking about it!"

Rona chuckled at Serena's quip. "Well, there's likely to be a lot of people present--and seeing their leader fallen would cause panic." Ash explained. "Potentially even more people would be hurt or killed in the rush to get away."

"Once he fells the Empress, who am I to suggest the rest of the imperial family is next?" Misty agreed.

"We have ourselves a bona fide evil prime minister, just like in all the adventure novels and plays!" Serena went on. "So that means we have to come up with a plan to stop him!"

"That's what Karu-sama has been trying to ask you about..." Brock deadpanned, to Rona's bemused chuckles.

"Well, why didn't you say so?" Serena giggled, oblivious to Ash's facepalm. "Just say the word, and we'll be off on a grand adventure!"

"But how can I go on a grand adventure if I don't even know where to start in stopping a treacherous prime minister?" Ash protested.

"Easy--we find a special sword, and strike him down that way!" Serena replied before dancing over to Ash with a prop sword. "It's dangerous to go alone, brave knight! Take this!"

Even the other troupe members couldn't help laughing at Serena's Zelda reference as Ash sheepishly took the prop sword. "Thanks, I think?"

Rona motioned for the scene to stop as she composed herself. "Okay, let's stop here for a moment, and discuss blocking for this scene, and what you four are doing right."

She smiled at Serena. "First, well done on conveying Kitsuki's playfulness! That Zelda reference should get the audience rolling in the aisles!"

She next addressed Brock. "Brock...the deadpan in response to Serena's line is nice, but I want to see a little more anger in that response. You're not angry, just annoyed that Kitsuki is not listening to you or Karu."

"Add some annoyance to the deadpan line...got it!" Brock mused as he made a note in his script...
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 9: Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix Prepare for Battle


"We're here!" Misty smiled as the caravan made its way inside another station. "This is New Village Station!"

"As opposed to Old Village Station?" Ash grinned as he hurried to help unload the various costumes, props, and instruments the troupe would need.

"Actually...the station gets its name because it was the first station by the Emerald River, and it resembled a village--hence New Village Station." Brock explained as Ash set down a box of costumes. "But I'm glad we can finally practice the fight scenes--and practice our acting on a real stage."

"We still have a little time before our show, so I see no harm in practicing both the unarmed and armed fights." Serena suggested before giving Ash some glittering red and gold fighter's knuckles. "The fight crew found your favorite pair of knuckles, so go practice some unarmed fighting while they unload the weapons."

"Okay!" Ash smiled before hurrying off inside the station's theater...

---------

Inside the theater's backstage dojo, Ash practiced some punches and feinting before a punching bag. He would eye the bag, deliver a few punches, jump away from an imagined attack, then move in for another punch before jumping away again.

"Good form, there..." Brock smiled as he watched Ash move in for another punch and feint. "I like how you move between attack and defense in one fluid motion--it makes the fight feel more realistic."

"Thanks." Ash smiled before removing the knuckles, setting them aside, then stretching. "Have the fight crew brought in the weapons yet?"

"Catch!" Brock called before tossing a familiar sheathed prop sword in Ash's direction. "If you're up for practicing some armed fighting, we can practice Karu and Eichi's friendly duel in Act 2, or Ageha's and Karu's first fight."

Ash nodded. "I'm pretty sure I can put the lines with the fight in the friendly duel scene, so let's do that scene first."

"Okay--give me a second to get into my training garb, and we'll practice that fight." Brock agreed.

---------

"Now--keep in mind this is a friendly duel." Brock explained as he joined Ash in the training room. "Karu is surprised that Eichi can wield a sword, and requests a friendly duel. However, Eichi proves a surprisingly skilled swordsman, and defeats Karu. When asked how he is so strong, Eichi tells Karu that the best offense is a good defense--and that raw power can only get you so far."

He located a sword with laurel wreath inlays. "Let's do the little bit leading up to the fight, the fight itself, and the part after the fight." he suggested as he set the sword by his right leg.

Ash nodded, and said his character's first line. "You can wield a sword too, Eichi-san?"

Brock nodded. "If I am ever in a situation where my bow would be too dangerous to use, I keep a sword on hand for a melee scenario.

"Then, then, may I have the honor of a friendly duel?" Ash asked. "Just so I can see your skill?"

"Of course--first to knock down the other, wins." Brock replied before drawing his own blade.

A flurry of silver, red and green filled the dojo as the boys dueled. Even though it was just practice, both Ash and Brock gave their all--just as if it was a real fight.

After a few agonizing minutes, Brock lunged to deliver a slash, knocking Ash to the padded floor. "Wow...you are surprisingly strong, Eichi-san." he admitted as he eased himself to his feet. "What is the secret to your strength?"

"No matter how the storm rages, the mountain will not bend or break." Brock replied. "In other words, the best offense is a good defense."

"No wonder I could barely touch you!" Ash gasped.

"While I have no doubt of your ability, Karu-san, the power based style you learned will only get you so far." Brock cautioned in character. "I would be happy to teach you some more defensive moves to better round out your skillset."

Some applause snapped the boys out of character. "That was a great fight, you two!" Misty raved. "Even though Karu is supposed to lose in that fight, I can still feel the power and determination as you fight, Ash."

"Aw, thanks." Ash smiled as Tintri arrived with a bottle of water and a towel. "If you wanna do a friendly duel, give me a minute to rest first..."

"Go on and rest--I came so I could practice one of the bigger fights in Act 1 with you both--the fight against Dark Claw." Misty explained as some of the fight crew and fight trainers began setting up numbered targets, props and devices in the room.

"Your blades, Miss Dragon." a fight crew member smiled as he delivered a pair of sheathed blue blades to Misty.

"Thank you..." Misty replied back. "I have Sapphire and Marine, so once the fight crew chief is here, we'll go over the Dark Claw fight..."
 

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Episode 10: The Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix Take the Stage



The station's theater buzzed with excitement as a huge crowd arrived to watch "The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix". Backstage, Ash--now in a familiar red and gold costume with ornate phoenix designs--smiled as the audience took their seats. This is it--even though we've performed this play before, let's make this time even better now that Serena, May, and Dawn are performing it with us! he thought as he accepted a well loved bansi from a stage ninja.

"Places, everyone!" he heard Rona call as the lights flashed the five minute warning onstage.

"Ready to go?" Misty asked as she emerged from the dressing room in a beautiful deep blue, white, and silver costume with water designs.

"Yeah!" Ash smiled. "One of our favorite plays, and one that I will give my all for every time we perform it!"

"Let's do this!" Brock agreed as he arrived in a regal green warrior's costume with Raikou inspired designs.

After laying their hands on top of each other, the three companions unleashed the troupe's iconic good luck cheer. "Shimmering! Sparkling! Light! Go, Ka-ga-YOU!!!"

---------

Later, the orchestra started a lighthearted interlude as Ash, Misty, and Brock arrived on a set of a Wakunese town of old, complete with bustling extras playing townsfolk. "Welcome to Dawnridge, everyone..." Brock began, making a grand gesture to the town set. "The crossroads of new beginnings."

"It's beautiful!" Misty gasped as she looked around the set in awe.

"With so many people passing through here every day, there's bound to be rumors here..." Ash agreed. "I could find a lead as to when the prime minister could make his move, and how he plans to kill the Empress."

"If you want to find rumors and information, this is a good place for them." Brock smiled.

"What's all this about a plot to kill the Empress?" Serena--now in a glittering gold costume with fire designs--asked as she met the group from stage left.

"Perfect timing, Kitsuki-san..." Brock grinned as Serena approached. "These two are journeying together because of rumors that someone at the imperial court could try to kill the Empress at the height of the Phoenix Festival..."

"Really, now?" Serena gasped. "Judging from your companion's attire, he must be one of Her Majesty's knights, yes?"

Ash nodded. "I am Chikaru Hououji, or Karu, if you prefer. I am indeed one of Her Majesty's knights--and I'm searching for a way to stop the prime minister's plot to harm Her Grace at the height of the festival."

"Now, why would someone pick a festival, of all times, to hurt a wise and just ruler like Her Majesty?" Serena asked with a giggle. "A festival should be a happy day, filled with games, feasting, music, and dancing...ah! I'm getting excited thinking about it!"

Laughter rippled through the theater at Serena's quip. "Well, there's likely to be a lot of people present--and seeing their leader fallen would cause panic." Ash explained. "Potentially even more people would be hurt or killed in the rush to get away."

"Once he fells the Empress, who am I to suggest the rest of the imperial family is next?" Misty agreed.

"We have ourselves a bona fide evil prime minister, just like in all the adventure novels and plays!" Serena went on. "So that means we have to come up with a plan to stop him!"

"That's what Karu-sama has been trying to ask you about..." Brock deadpanned, to more giggles from the audience.

"Well, why didn't you say so?" Serena giggled, oblivious to Ash's facepalm and the laughter from the audience. "Just say the word, and we'll be off on a grand adventure!"

"But how can I go on a grand adventure if I don't even know where to start in stopping a treacherous prime minister?" Ash protested.

"Easy--we find a special sword, and strike him down that way!" Serena replied before dancing over to Ash with a prop sword. "It's dangerous to go alone, brave knight! Take this!"

The audience roared with laughter at Serena's Zelda reference as Ash sheepishly took the prop sword. "Thanks, I think?" he stammered, to more laughter.

"Kitsuki, enough!" Brock growled, snapping Serena to attention as the audience's laughter quieted. "This is a very serious matter, and I'm sure Karu-sama would appreciate what help you can give him! So will you behave yourself?"

"All right..." Serena replied. "Let's go to my secret hideout near town--we can discuss our plans there!"

With that, she led Ash, Misty, and Brock offstage as the lights went down...

---------

The lights came up on a room that looked as if it had been carved from a tree. "Well, this is one way to do heroic deeds without evil having a clue..." Ash mused as he looked around the wood and ivy laced set."

Misty nodded in agreement. "No bad guy would consider looking in a tree."

"And only I know the way in!" Serena smiled as she lightly leaped onto the stage.

She next addressed Ash. "You likely know of the imperial spies, yes?"

"Yes--they have proved very helpful to us many times." Ash replied.

"Well, I happen to know one of the imperial spies..." Serena went on. "Her name is Ageha, and she makes her cover as a traveling actress. But don't mistake her for a colorful dancing flower--oh no! If she is threatened or someone she knows is in danger, watch out! She is as good with a sword as she is a fan or ribbon! There are even some that say no man has yet beaten her."

"I know of the lady Ageha..." Ash smiled. "If we can meet up with her troupe, that would allow me to infiltrate the palace, and stop the prime minister's plot."

"A wonderful idea!" Misty agreed.

"Where is Ageha's troupe now?" Brock asked. "Have you heard anything in that regard?"

"The troupe should arrive here in two days..." Serena explained. From there, we ca travel with the troupe as they journey to the palace for the festival."

"After I tell Ageha what's going on, she would potentially know of more allies to help us stop this plot." Ash mused.

"No one is overthrowing the empress on my watch!" Misty vowed over an exciting melody.

"No matter how far we have to go, and no matter what dangers await us along the way, I will do everything I can to protect the imperial family." Brock agreed.

"And I'll do my part too!" Serena smiled. "This place is too beautiful to be plunged into an era of sadness and despair!"

Ash smiled at his co-stars. "Thank you all, for helping me with your skills and talents. Just seeing Waku safe will be worth the long journey ahead. We may even be immortalized as heroes, our adventure being told about for ages to come!"

"Now that's MY kind of adventure!" Serena interjected, to some laughter as the lights went down...
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 11: Raikou Channels the Emerald Singer


"No matter how many times we do 'The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix', it never gets old!" Brock smiled as the caravan departed New Village Station a few days later. "I would happily play Eichi Kitora many times over."

"The critics agree--they had a lot of good things to say about our fight in Act 2--and practically any scene Kitsuki was in." May smiled, showing the group a picture of Ash's and May's duel in Act 2, followed by another picture of Ash's quizzical look as Serena gave him the sword he used in the play.

"A Kalosian classic reimagined in Waku--'The Journey of the Raikou, Dragon, and Phoenix' a must see." Dawn read the headline. "Four and half stars out of five isn't too bad!"

"Most of the stuff they complained about were nitpicky stuff, anyway." Serena agreed before turning to Dawn, who was now looking at the map of Kanto on the walls of the common area.

"Up next is 'The Legend of the White Delphox' at the Phoenix's Nest Theater." Dawn explained. "Haven't had a chance to look the script over yet, but the main character sounds like someone you would play, Serena."

"I DO have a copy of the script!" Serena announced, holding a book with a yellow cover high. "The show tells the story of White Delphox, a roving heroine for hire that is well known for her skill in taking down evil sects. The noble sects of the martial world revere her for being "The Crafty Hunter of Evil". One day, some students from the Luminous Harmony School visit White Delphox, telling her that thieves scattered the pieces of the manual for the Eternal Symphony of the Ten Elements--and if sung by an evil heart, it would mean devastation to the martial world. White Delphox agrees to help, and rallies her companions for a musical adventure of a lifetime."

"Sounds fun!" Ash smiled. "Does the script say anything about what the Eternal Symphony of the Ten Elements is supposed to sound like? Or any lyrics?"

Serena flipped to the pivotal scene in Act 3. "Nope--no lyrics, no sheet music, no suggestions in the script, no anything. We DO know it is supposed to be a song, and one of the main characters is supposed to sing it."

"What good is a song without lyrics and music?" Dawn wondered. "If there's no suggested music or lyrics, any old pop song would work, but a pop song would be VERY out of place in ancient Waku."

"It doesn't even say who's supposed to sing it." Misty sighed. "So I have an idea--what if we made the song different depending on who sings it--and who sings it would be different every night of the run?"

"We know there's no suggestions in the script, but what do the production notes say about the song?" May wondered.

Serena flipped to the production notes in the back of the script. "Here we are...the Eternal Symphony of the Ten Elements should be sung with power and great vitality--any of the main characters should be able to sing it."

"Dunno about the 'great vitality' part, but I can at least bring the power." Brock mused. "If the song is different depending on who sings it, that means six different versions of the song. Assuming the music team is willing to write six distinct versions of the song, what would you imagine the song to sound like?"

"If I were the one singing it, I imagine a dreamy, mystical feel." Dawn replied. "It's not a lullaby, but not too powerful either."

"I would imagine something mystical sounding too." May agreed. "Something like the Wishsong in 'The Song Mage Chronicles'."

"There's an idea!" Misty smiled. "Brock already has a similar voice to Arran Seluna, so if he sings it opening night, we should know what that sounds like, and if we want to channel that in the other five versions of the song."

"All right--first I'll ask the music team if writing six distinct versions of the Eternal Symphony is possible." Brock explained. "Assuming that's okay, once the parts are posted and we've all had a chance to get into our roles, I'll ask Rona for a piano session to see if how I typically sing the Wishsong is about what she expects the song to sound like. I'm trying not to copy Arran when I sing, I'm simply trying to channel the strength and power in his voice through my voice."

Serena glanced at the cast list. "You'd probably fit Green Raikou best, Brock...I know I want to try out for White Delphox..."

"If I can't get Green Raikou, I can probably play Master Earthly Harmony--the head of the Luminous Harmony School--as a Plan B role." Brock suggested. "I already have an idea of what the costume would look like if I got that part."

He then addressed his companions. "For today, I'm going to ask the music team if they can write six different versions of the Eternal Symphony. If they say yes, I'll ask Rona for a piano session for all of us once the parts are posted. Since Rona likes for us to have a plan for a piano session before we arrive in the music room, what should we ask her to go over?"

"Does 'power and great vitality' mean what I think it means, or does it mean something completely different?" Ash suggested. "If it does mean something different, what does it mean?"

"Once we know what 'power and great vitality' means, can you show us what that looks like in the context of one of the play's numbers?" Misty suggested. "Just so none of us has the wrong idea."

Brock nodded. "Okay--I'm off to go talk to the music team, and maybe ask Rona for a piano session--see you guys in the audition room in the morning."

"If you're looking for Rona, she is probably in the lead wagon, or briefing the performers on the new show." Dawn replied.

"What's this about needing a piano session?" a familiar voice asked.

The group whirled around to discover Rona famed in the doorway. "Rona--I know parts aren't posted for the new show just yet, but what do the production notes mean when they say the Eternal Symphony must be sung with 'power and great vitality'?" Brock asked. "Can you show us what that means using one of the songs from the show, so we know how to approach that in our audition tomorrow?"

Rona nodded. "We can do a one on one session now, or I can do a group session later this evening with all of you--so which one would be best for you guys?"

"I've gotta ask the music team something real fast, but I'll be over as soon as I can." Brock offered as the others got up to leave.

"Okay--I'll reserve a music room for our session while you talk to the music team." Rona assured Brock. "You don't have a copy of the script yet, so I'll have one for you when you get there, okay?"
 

LightningTopaz

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Episode 12: Delphox Leads the Readthrough


"Well done on getting the lead role, Serena..." Brock smiled as the group got together to read through "The Legend of White Delphox" a few days later.

"And likewise, well done on getting your first choice." Serena agreed. "Did we get the confusion about the Eternal Symphony cleared up?"

Brock nodded as he perused his script. "Yeah--the music team was more than happy to write six different versions of the song, and the piano session a few days ago was fruitful--I was on the right track by channeling the Wishsong, so I told the music team to use that as a guideline when they compose my version of the song."

He smiled. "Since you are the lead, would you like to lead our readthrough, Serena?"

"Sure!" Serena replied. "Has everyone else got a chance to read over the script yet?"

"From what I've read so far, this looks fun!" Misty raved as she thumbed through the script. "The songs are nice, the boys get plenty of solos..."

"I've played some of these tunes before, but a lot of them are new to me." Ash agreed as he thumbed to each of the bansi solos in his script. "I know I want my version of the Eternal Symphony to pack a punch!"

Serena just smiled. "I know it will, Ash--you never fail to come through on the powerful and emotional numbers!"

She turned her attention back to the script. "Let's recap the basic plot...the show tells the story of White Delphox--my role!--a roving heroine for hire that is well known for her skill in taking down evil sects. The noble sects of the martial world revere her for being "The Crafty Hunter of Evil". One day, some students from the Luminous Harmony School visit White Delphox, telling her that thieves scattered the pieces of the manual for the Eternal Symphony of the Ten Elements--and if sung by an evil heart, it would mean devastation to the martial world. White Delphox agrees to help, and rallies her companions for a musical adventure of a lifetime."

"They got the musical adventure part right, for sure." May mused as she read over the play's first scene. "Based on this first scene, Violet Beautifly and Crystal Deerling are never apart for too long..."

"Sounds like the two of us!" Dawn smiled. "I do like the prospect of dancing down Night Dawn Path during Act 1, dreamy song and all."

"No matter how many times we do a play with a character dancing in starlight scene, you know how to give those a little extra sparkle." Ash agreed. "Aside from the Eternal Symphony scene, I'm looking forward to the caves at Blue Sky Quarry."

"I can only imagine how the set Rotoms will tackle that..." Brock mused as he read over the scene in Act 2. "Since we are told in play that the quarry is for mining jewels, they could embed some jewels in the walls that function as lights..."

"Just like your jewel studded hallways in Pewter's Gym's caverns..." Misty smiled at a memory. "I wonder what that would look like onstage?"

"Would that even be do-able onstage, with physical lights in a digital set?" Ash wondered. "It sounds like a lot of work..."

"What's stopping us from CGI lights in a digital set?" Brock suggested before reaching for a piece of paper. "If I showed the Rotoms some of my spare jewel lights from home, they could recreate it digitally, saving us a lot of time and hassle."

He proudly showed the group his drawing of his idea of the cave set. "I picture it looking something like this..."

"That's beautiful!" May raved.

"There should be a Pokemon Center with item transfer machines close by the theater..." Serena mused as she brought up MapNav on her PokeNav. "This way you could get your lights, and show them to the set Rotoms."

[Whatzzz all thizzzz about digital lightzzzz in the set?] a crackly female voice asked.

Brock smiled when he saw a tiny orange blue spirit materialize in a tiny spark. "Oh, Fara, it's just you..." he smiled. "We were discussing the quarry cave scene in Act 2, which I picture as having jewel studded lights in the walls to help the miners see where they're going--and also help our heroes on their quest. So how easy or hard would jewel studded lights be for you guys?"

[If you can get uzzzz a reference of what these lightzzzzz are suppozzzed to look like, we can probably make a digital version for the set eazzzzzzy.] Fara replied.

"Let's see..we should be arriving at the theater later today..." Dawn replied as she studied the caravan's route on MapNav."

"I have some lights at home that look something like what I'm thinking about." Brock assured the Rotom. "Once we stop at the theater, I'll use the local Pokemon Center's item transfer to bring them here, so you guys can use those as a guide for the CGI versions."

[Soundzzzz good to me!] Fara smiled. [Okay if I stick around for the rezzzzzt of the readthrough so I can get more ideazzzzzz for the crew?]

"Sure!" Serena replied. "I'll admit this is the first time I can remember one of the set Rotoms joining the readthrough..."

"I'm looking forward to seeing Red Blossom Woods..." May admitted. "That's the scene where the group makes their promise to help White Delphox..."

"The flowers here are carnations--a sign of passion and love." Misty read one of her lines from the scene in question. "No matter who she is helping, White Delphox cares not for wealth and glory--she follows the path she does out of the goodness of her heart--and a love for all that is good and true."

"Just as she has helped so many others, now is our time to help her in return." Dawn read from her script. "So let us promise to help her and guide her in her quest to find Eternal Symphony of the Ten Elements.

[Falling flowerzzzz in a forezzzt? No problem!] Fara buzzed as she sparked with excitement from Misty and Dawn's lines. [We'll have some falling red carnationzzzzz all ready for you opening night! That'll make thizzzz scene even more beautiful!]
 
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