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EVERYONE: Yearly Session Log for The Jeweled Champions (and Friends)

Brock's Pikachu
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Session 17: The Power of Pop



"This wide hall leads into the cliff face at an angle." Midori reads. "A double door at the west end of the room is carved from golden marble and depicts a magnificent abstract pattern that evokes a thunderbolt--the sign of Raikou's strength and power. The handles are swirling clouds. Smaller doors lead out of this hall to the north and south. The door to the north has several planks nailed across it."

"Is it possible to pry the door open?" Ash asks Midori.

"If you were to try that here, you can take 10." Midori replies. "The nails are easily undone."

"I assume the room is safe?" Brock asks.

Midori nods. "This room is a safe zone. You can safely set a warp point for the Song of the Wind here."

Brock plays an uneasy E minor chord on his guitar, creating a lavender ball of light in the image of the room. "Larkin creates a warp point to this place--just in case things get bad."

---------

"The catacombs here widen into a chamber housing a marble statue of Raikou, the Legend of Thunder." Midori reads over some spooky crypt ambiance. "An iron brazier built into the stone in front of the statue is enchanted to give off flickering light like that of a campfire. The niches in the walls bear more remains from the monks who died here centuries ago, but many of the bones have been pulled out of their resting places and now litter the floor. Fragments of old clothing are mixed among these broken bones."

She adds the images of four ghouls into the scene. "There are four ghouls here. You can try to battle them, banish them, or sneak past them."

"Ghouls are easy enough for me to banish in one shot?" Ash asks Midori.

Midori nods. "Yes--a battlemage can easily banish a ghoul without a check."

"Okay...akuryo taisen! Ash dramatically points to the screen, making the four ghouls vanish in bursts of light.

"What would be the limit for Ash to banish an undead without battling it first?" Brock is curious.

"Currently, Ash can banish up to Challenge level 12 without a battle in one shot." Midori explains. "Anything past that, and he would have to weaken it first."

"Oh"s fill the air at this. "As you have banished all the ghouls in here, there is nothing more here in this area, so you can return to your warp point." Midori assures the group.

Karuto, ichiida shou... Brock sings for effect as the image of the crypt swirls....

---------

"This magnificent gallery glows with light from magical spheres set into eight twisting pillars that stretch from the floor to the ceiling twenty feet above." Midori reads over some ominous music. "That ceiling depicts a cloudy, storm-tossed sky with remarkable realism. The floor is covered with tiles that portray the depths of the ocean, complete with coral reefs, seaweed beds, and schools of fish. Corridors lead away from the gallery to the north and south, and the hall ends in a massive bronze double door sculpted in a fantastic diorama of Pokemon: fish Pokemon swimming in the sea, beast Pokemon walking the earth, and bird Pokemon soaring in the sky."

Awed murmurs fill the theater at the image on Midori's screen. "You see a fallen priest and a minor demon here--and they don't look pleased to see you."

Ash smiles confidently at the image of the fallen priest and the ghostly demon on the screen. "I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!"

"I am now legally obligated to play the following for this fight..." Brock smiles as he commandeers Midori's laptop long enough to cue a loop of the iconic theme from "Ghostbusters", in all its cheesy 80's glory.

Midori tries oh-so-hard not to laugh at Brock's choice of battle music. The audience, meanwhile, eats up the nostalgic theme, remembering to yell "GHOSTBUSTERS!" at the appropriate times in the music.

Even Misty is having trouble trying not to burst out laughing at the wildly out of place music. "Well, I wasn't expecting this..."

"Cardinal rule of roleplaying--expect the unexpected." Serena assures Misty. The audience dancing along and crying "GHOSTBUSTERS!" at the appropriate time emphasizes her point...

---------

Wild applause fills the theater when the battle--and with it, the "Ghostbusters" theme--ends some time later. "Okay...we probably needed a little levity, so thanks, Brock." Midori giggles as she calculates the group's experience.

She finds her place in the book. "Just then, a painting of Raikou comes alive, and tells you the following...'Corruption has shut this door, but that cannot keep out the light. Cleanse these halls of the corrupted that infest it, and the door will open unto you.'"

"Let's keep going." Misty suggests.

"You come to Father Taran's room." Midori explains. "He was, and is, an avid reader, so his personal library is filled with all manner of books."

"So what did the dear father like to read?" Serena wonders.

"The shelves mainly include books about historical and religious lore, bestiaries and folk tales, and the occasional adventure story." Midori replies. "However, you see his diary tucked into a nightstand next to his bed."

"I hope Father Taran won't mind if we read his diary for info..." Misty muses. "Meri reads Father Taran's diary."

"The most recent entry in the diary contains Father Taran's suspicions about the gradual failure of the Tower of Gaia, and his frustrations about being unable to do anything about the resulting environmental decline." Midori tells Misty.

"The Tower of Gaia..." Ash muses. "We need to rescue Father Taran more than ever, so he can tell us just what that is!"

"What else does the diary say?" Now Brock is intrigued.

"He also notes recent reports of troglodytes around the tower, but without any detail." Midori replies. "You can't help but feel this would help you find out what is going on, and restore peace to Abbyvale."

"That, and point us in the direction of more towers like the Tower of Gaia!" Serena agrees.

Midori nods. "Little do you guys know, the Tower of Gaia is only step one in a grand adventure--and a band of adventurers turned actors could very well save the world!" The audience cheers in excitement at this...
 
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Brock's Pikachu
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Session 18: The Rescue of Gaia (part 1)


Applause fills the theater at the rescue of Father Taran some time later. But no one is more relieved than Midori. Finally, the first night of our show is almost done! But so far, we've all had fun! Ash, Misty, Brock, and Serena really know how to entertain a crowd!

"Father, what can you tell us about the Tower of Gaia?" Brock asks in character when the applause quiets.

Midori cues some "divine" background music. "I suppose I should start at the beginning." she sighs in her best attempt at a male voice for Father Taran. "The Order of the Holy Storm was established here to protect and learn from the Tower of Gaia, an ancient landmark a few miles inland. You might have spotted it on your journey here. We of the order know very little about it. From my understanding, the earth goddess Gaia created it thousands of years ago. At its summit is what we call the Aeon Orb of Earth, so named because it was supposedly created many millennia ago, long before any of us were but a twinkle in Arceus' eye.“

"Have any of the previous leaders of the order told you anything?" Misty asks in character. "Or are you allowed to tell outsiders anything?"

"Well, lore passed down to me from previous leaders of the order suggests there is more to this events than meets the eye." Midori replies "An aeon orb is a powerful artifact. The Aeon Orb of Earth enriches life for dozens of miles in all directions, making the land more abundant, the seasons balanced, and harvests more bountiful. In the past few generations, however, Gaia's blessings seem to have faded. The soil is drying out. Vegetation is stunted, and some crops won’t grow at all. Birth rates among Pokemon are declining. Some here at the monastery even blamed the townspeople of Abbeyvale for this decline, but I suspect a different cause: I think the aeon orb’s power has begun to fail."

"Is there a way to heal the orb?" Ash asks in character. "Or a way to help Gaia if She is the one in danger?"

“I’ve tried to the understand the aeon orb and perhaps restore its power, but its nature eludes me." Midori replies as Father Taran. "While I’ve made a few trips into the Tower of Gaia over the years, nothing there provided any clues. On my most recent visit a few weeks ago, some foul-smelling creatures hurled spears at me before I could get close. They are troglodytes--an aggressive reptilian humanoid monster."

"Could you see what they were doing?" Serena asks in character.

"I spied on them from a distance." Midori explains as Father Taran. "There are at least a dozen, and they are accompanied by large lizards and several demons. It was an unpleasant surprise, but I soon had my hands full dealing with the evil here, and didn’t have a chance to investigate further."

She continues "It seems obvious in hindsight, but the sudden rise of demonic activity here must be connected to the demons accompanying the trogs in the Tower of Gaia. I overheard a few of the fallen priests say they’d planned to visit the Tower of Gaia and speak to someone named Cavanash. I believe Cavanash is the leader of the trogs, and he must have some power over demons."

She tells the group “You have done so much for Abbyvale and the order already, but there is still more to do. Will you cleanse the Tower of Gaia of the demons and trogs infesting it, so that we can restore life to this land?"

"You have our honor we will do our best to heal the Tower, or die trying!" Misty vows, to cheers from the audience...

---------

Midori cues some ethereal outside ambiance. "The entrance to the Tower of Gaia is a landing located 40 feet up the western side of the tower. A switchback ramp leads to this landing, but it is made of the same smooth white marble as the rest of the tower. The trogs have hammered bits of wood into the ramp to make the climb easier."

She adds the image of two gargoyles to the scene of the tower entrance. "There are two gargoyles keeping watch here. You can try to engage them or sneak by them, but they may be willing to let you inside without a fight if you give them food."

Inspired, Brock sings Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo... creating a large pile of food in the scene.

Midori smiles as the gargoyle images swoop down to eat the food. "Okay, the gargoyles are eating, so you can go inside safely."

She locates the script for the next encounter. "This odd-shaped room is divided by several piles of stacked stones, each stack about four feet tall. Large nests made of sticks and mud are spread around the room on both sides of the stone stacks."

She next adds the images of two small pale blue dinosaur-like Pokemon with red and yellow sail-like ears. "A pair of Amaura are here in this room--and they don't look pleased to see you!"

"Aldaron uses Fire Arrow!" Ash vows as Midori cues some battle music.

Midori balks in amazement when she sees Ash managed to roll a natural 20 against one of the Amaura! "Your anger and courage makes the flames of your arrow burn even brighter, impacting your target in a Moltres shaped explosion! This also does splash damage to the other Amaura."

She informs the group "Ash's critical hit has greatly weakened one Amaura, and lightly damaged the other."

"Larkin uses the Song of Fire to create a shield of warmth against the Amaura's icy attacks..." Brock reports before playing a D chord and singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

"Okay...good thinking, because one Amaura decides to use Ice Beam minutes after the warm shield is up!" Midori replies. "However, the fire shield holds against the attack. Since it is a powerful magical shield, it cannot weaken or break, but it can be dispelled by the original caster at any point."

"Christine uses Flamme Rouge." Serena reports.

Midori checks the results. "You draw a circle of flame around your foes. This only makes it harder to use any of their hard hitting Rock attacks. They can still use Ice attacks, though..."
 
Brock's Pikachu
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Session 19: The Rescue of Gaia (part 2)

Cheers fill the auditorium as Midori cues the safe zone music some time later, signaling that Misty has found a safe zone in a trog leader's room. "At one time this was a treasure vault, but previous explorers long ago emptied it. It is now a bare stone chamber devoid even of decoration apart from four alcoves to the west, each bearing the image of another tower only slightly different from the Tower of Gaia in shape and size. You guys don’t know it yet, but these images depict the four aeon towers in this area."

"Let me guess--if the Tower of Gaia is earth, then we're gonna find fire, wind, and water towers too?" Ash guesses.

Laughter ripples through the auditorium. "You'll find out about the other three towers soon enough." Midori assures Ash as the group's character HP bars and MP bars charge back up to full.

---------

Excited murmurs fill the air as the group reaches the top of the tower some time later to confront Cavanash and end the first leg of the campaign. "A sun-shaped platform of marble rises ten feet above the summit of the Tower of Gaia." Midori reads. "Four large columns support another marble slab over the circular staircase in the center of the tower summit, but there are no walls, so the open-air platform provides a commanding view of Erran Island, the Great Sea, and Kortos Island to the south."

"Wow"s fill the air at the beautiful view onscreen. "A blazing ball of green light three feet in diameter swings around the tower summit in a lazy circle, never approaching closer than within forty feet of the tower, causing shadows to spin across the marble. The orb provides bright light but no heat; instead, a soothing feeling of growth and life emanates from it. On the platform, a small heap of ripped nets, broken poles, and other debris is surrounded by several charcoal marks of geometric shapes." Midori reads.

She then adds an ornately dressed trog into the scene before cuing some epic battle music. "This is your chance to defeat Cavanash, and end the troubles Abbyvale has suffered once and for all!"

"Aldaron uses Lightning Arrow!" Ash declares.

Midori winces at Ash's roll. "Your arrow goes wide to the right, allowing Cavanash to scratch you with his sharp claws!"

"Here!" Brock plucks out the harmonic notes for Zelda's Song of Healing, making Ash's character HP bar recover from the damage.

"Thank you, Song of Healing!" Ash smiles, to giggles from the audience when they realize what Brock played.

"Meri uses Ice Blade!" Misty calls.

Midori plays the Zelda sword beam noise, signalling Misty's attack is successful. "While it's not enough to freeze Cavanash, he is slowed down due to the cold."

Ash gets an idea. "Aldaron tries Ice Arrow!"

Cheers fill the auditorium as the image of the trog is frozen solid! "Nice shot! Cavanash takes double damage, since he was already cold." Midori smiles, pleased at Ash's strategy.

"Larkin sings the Song of Ice." Brock reports before singing Furiya, shuru shamato... creating a blizzard in the image onscreen.

Midori notices that the compounded ice attacks have brought Cavanash to the red zone. "Your song has Cavanash on the ropes!" she tells Brock. "Use the Swanna Song, and deliver the final blow!"

Gatrandis favel, secret, edena... Brock begins as the boss music fades out.
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena,,,
Emusto koron zen fine, si...


More cheers almost drown out Brock's last E note as the audience watches the image of the frozen trog get engulfed in a rainbow diamond explosion!

After the victory theme plays for a moment, Midori reads the aftermath of the adventure. "Father Taran remains both deeply troubled and ashamed. He is heartened by the role you guys played in cleansing the monastery, and he vows to make it a sacred place once again. The people of Abbyvale are grateful for all you guys have done. In a ceremony a few days after your return from the Tower of Gaia, the mayor recognizes you all as honorary citizens of Abbyvale."

She then tells the audience as the lights go down "The aeon orb of Gaia is stable for now, but there are still questions to be answered...Why was the aeon orb failing, and are the others on the island in danger? Is there something more to what happened here? And what do the Celestial Revue have to do with all of this? Come back tomorrow, as the tale of the Theater of the Aeons continues in 'Legacy of the Stars'!"

Thunderous applause fills the auditorium as the lights come up for Ash, Misty, Brock, and Serena to take a bow for the night's performance. But no one is happier than Brock as the crowd departs for the night. This was so much fun! Maybe I should play Larkin more often!

"Now THAT was intense!" Misty's remark snaps Brock to reality. "That, and it's always a joy to see Larkin Admore in a party..."

"I know..." Brock smiles back as the group goes backstage to change out of their character costumes and back into their normal clothes. "We couldn't have picked a better campaign to feature him."

"I'm looking forward to giving the Celestial Revue what for!" Serena is excited for the next leg of the campaign. "I have a feeling there's more to them than meets the eye..."

Brock smiles as he puts away his guitar for the night. "Trust me, tomorrow night, all will be revealed about our rivals...and more!"
 
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Brock's Pikachu
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Session 20: Legacy of the Revue (part 1)

(what the group plays)


"Ready?" Serena asks as Ash emerges from the dressing room in his red mage costume.

"Let's do this." Ash replies as he follows Serena to the wings, aware of Midori recapping the first leg of the campaign to the audience onstage.

"...and so, the Fantasia Theater arrives in the city of Escadar." Midori wraps up her recap. "There, they hope to put on their first significant shows since Ainara's tragic death, and prove that they can honor their beloved impresaria's legacy. Some of the actors, however, are nervous, as Escadar is also the home of the Celestial Revue, a rival all female theater troupe led by Dima, a notorious mithra infamous for mistreating the girls for bad performances and failures."

She makes a grand gesture to stage left. "And it is there that tonight's installment begins...so let us welcome our heroes to the stage!"

Applause fills the Fireside as Ash, Misty, Brock, and Serena arrive onstage in their character costumes. Once they are settled at the table with their instruments close by, Midori cues some seaside ambiance, complete with Wingull cries. "The sharp tang of salt permeates the air, and the Wingulls that swoop and cry overhead mark the city’s proximity to the sea. Grandiose buildings at the city’s center rise above sprawling markets and houses of all sizes. Proud ships sail in and out of the harbor with the wind as laborers and travelers mill about the docks."

She tells the group "So what you need to do now is talk to the captain of the guard, a lady named Andera Dewtail, and ask permission to perform."

"Why would we need permission?" Serena asks. "We're hardly like dingy sideshow acts or anything like that!"

"This is true, but Dima has convinced Andera otherwise before you arrived." Midori explained. "If you tell Andera the truth, and possibly show off your skills, she will allow you to perform."

"Okay...let's head for the barracks." Misty suggests. "We head for Captain Dewtail's quarters once there."

Midori turns down the seaside ambiance and adds in some ambiance of a fantasy barracks. "This circular office, paneled with rich brown wood, contains a writing desk, shelves stacked with records, and a row of chairs near the door for visitors. A framed painting of a Corviknight in flight hangs in a place of prominence behind the desk. A human woman sits behind the desk, dressed in a dark‑blue uniform with a golden badge pinned to the left shoulder. The shield‑shaped badge bears an engraving of a Pidgeot carrying a Magikarp."

She next tells the group how the negotiation will work. "Andera is currently neutral to you guys--she isn't sure whether what Dima has told her is true or not, but is willing to hear your side of the story, and see what you can do. You need to raise her trust level to at least Companion level before she will allow you to perform a play. As actors, you are also skilled mediators, so you only need at least a ten to raise Andera's trust level."

She continues "You can attempt to sway Andera by making your case or show off some of your skills to earn her trust. Putting down the Celestial Revue will lower her trust level, as she wants to believe what Dima said--unless you word what you say very carefully. If you choose to show off your skills, the small space makes it hard to act or dance. You can sing or play a solo, though. Magic users can also show off slight of hand or a show spell."

"Right!" Ash smiles. The others nod in agreement.

Midori runs a randomizer to choose who will go first in the negotiations. "It is Aldaron's turn to talk to Andera. Do you attempt talking to her, or show off your skills?"

"Lady Dewtail, I don't know what it was the Celestial Revue told you, but I can assure you it was untrue." Ash explains in character. "We have been deeply grieving the loss of our founder and impresaria, and the fact they tried to damage our good name while we reeled from a tragedy leads me to believe that the revue are not what they appear to be."

Midori rolls Ash's results. "You may be right, Sir Aldaron--preying on those who mourn is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated here."

She tells Ash "Andera now trusts you a little bit."

"Lady Dewtail, we pride ourselves on bringing a show everyone can enjoy, filled with high adventure, comedy, romance, magic, and ultimately, good triumphing over evil." Brock explains in character. "We treat all our actors, musicians, dancers, and crew fairly, and allow them all to shine onstage and behind the scenes."

He adds "Since we can't act or dance in here, perhaps you'd be interested in a song?"

"The fact you have earned the purple of a high minstrel tells me you are very skilled as an actor and musician." Midori replies as Andera. "Please, sing your songs, and tell your tales."

Cheers fill the air as the group takes their instruments, and the trust meter on the screen passes "Acquaintance". After negotiating what tunes to play, Serena and Ash kick off two of the Wishmaker Polkas, with the audience clapping along to the whistle and mandolin...

---------

The auditorium roars with applause as whistle, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and a frame drum finish their set some time later. "Bravo!" Midori smiles as she applauds in character. "If that is a taste of your music, I can't wait to see what your plays are like!"

"Thank you, milady." Serena replies, still holding her mandolin. "If you like, I will tell you a little about the first play we plan to perform. It is entitled 'The Queen's Rescue'."

Midori makes a secret roll. "Oh? What is it about?" she asks in character.

"It is a thrilling quest of a young prince, and how he defeated the Nightmare Pokemon Darkrai to save his mother." Serena replied.

"How exciting!" Midori smiles after a second roll.

"Milady, you have our word that the performance won't reflect badly on the town." Misty begins. "Though I once served as a knight, I still put the same sense of honor and loyalty into every role I play. I do not know what the Celestial Revue may have told you, but what happened in the town of Abbyvale was not our doing. We investigated the troubling events there and put a stop to them in an effort to bring closure to our own tale of woe, and enter a new era of joy and peace."

Applause goes up as Midori rolls Misty's results. "Very well...you have permission to perform here. You are nothing like how that mithra described you all, and Arceus forgive me for believing her lies."

The group huddles to decide what scenes to perform for their next play as the crowd applauds the trust meter hitting "Companion"...
 
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Session 21: Legacy of the Revue (part 2)

"As you make preparations for your first play, you discover that one of your actors is missing!" Midori announces over a dramatic stinger.

"Dima!" Brock growls.

Midori nods, confirming Brock's guess. "Annoyed that you foiled her deception plot, Dima had one of her faithful Mightyenas kidnap one of your actors--Josephine, who plays the kidnapped queen. It's almost as if your own play has come to life!"

"Well, I intend to play my role here, and rescue Josephine!" Ash vows.

"Okay, but be warned--Dima will order her Mightyena to kill Josephine in 48 hours." Midori cautions. "So you need to move quickly to rescue your fellow actress!"

She then cues some forest ambiance. "The dirt road ends abruptly at the bramble‑choked mouth of a forested valley. Granite hills rise to the east and south, providing a sheltered area where the trees have grown thick and wild. Two rough trails lead into the forest, one blocked by an enormous fallen oak, rotted and sprouting with mushrooms."

She winces at the encounter the book suggests. "I am invoking the X card, and say that it's just an ordinary rotting log--you can move it safely."

The group makes a big show of moving a pantomime log, to the audience's bemusement. "Is there anything we can use, besides bugs?" Misty asks, to some laughter.

"You find a cache of 10,000 coins, a Chime of Summoning, and a Potion of Nightvision." Midori replies. "No doubt a long forgotten bandit's stash."

"Can a minstrel use the Chime of Summoning?" Brock asks.

"Yes--unlike a wizard or cleric, you can summon any of the Legendaries once per encounter." Midori explained. "Your attunement to them all by your song counts as your contract."

"Okay, I'll take that." Brock quickly writes in the chime into his instrument list.

Midori nods, then sets the next scene. "Torches that have long since burnt out jut out from crude holes in the walls of this cavern. A fire pit and the remnants of a makeshift camp stand at the center of the chamber. Chunks of granite and dirt are heaped against the rocky walls, as if someone attempted to clear the cave’s floor long ago."

She adds "There is a Cloak of Meowth-walking, many boxes of thieves' tools, and a number of small jewels here."

"We'll put all that in the vault, save for one box of the thieves' tools." Ash suggests. "Just in case we need to unlock something later."

"All right...Fragments of bone glint among scraps of fabric, tufts of fur, and unidentifiable masses that once belonged to living things." Midori intones. "Jagged claw marks gouge the cave’s granite walls, and a fetid odor hangs heavy in the humid air"

The group braces themselves as Midori adds a pack of Mightyenas and a bound frightened lady into the scene. "Dima's Mightyenas have brought Josephine here. "Now's your chance to rescue her!"

"Christine cuts Josephine's bindings, and leads her to safety." Serena reports.

Cheers go up at this. "All right...since you moved quickly to rescue her, she is none the worse for wear, save for a few minor scratches and bruises." Midori tells Serena.

"Aldaron uses Lightning Arrow!" Ash declares.

Midori smiles at Ash's high roll. "The sparking arrow spurs Josephine to shield her eyes from the alcove she is hiding in as the electric explosion paralyzes her canine kidnappers!"

Brock smiles, then announces a summoning incantation in character. "When last you fade on wind and light, our might become, noble Articuno!" He plays a harmonic D note to represent the chime.

Awed murmurs fill the auditorium as an animation of Articuno appearing, then using Sheer Cold on the pack of Mightyenas plays on Midori's screen. "As a single clear note rings out, the beautiful ice bird appears in a flurry of snowflakes." Midori narrates. She then heaves an icy cold blast of ice, aquamarines, and silver dust, freezing Josephine's assailants solid!"

Everyone congratulates Brock on his quick thinking. "With Dima's second plot foiled, and Josephine safe, you return to the theater to begin setting up for your first play." Midori continues. "But the wily mithra isn't giving up just yet--for tonight, she plans to crash your show with a Stage Battle!"

Gasps go up from the crowd, but the group is eager to perform again. "That said, you can prevent the play from being ruined by finding the three girls Dima sent--if caught, they leave without incident, and the play goes on as normal. But if even one is left by the time 30 minutes--15 minutes in real time--is up, she will crash your play with a Stage Battle."

"Do we know what they wear?" Misty asks.

"You can tell who they are with their glittering blue and silver capes--which are easily found in a well lit space like your theater." Midori explains as she sets a clock for 15 minutes. "Your fifteen minutes to save your show starts...now."

Serena easily spots a cape peeking from a row of seats in the scene. "I see one!"

"Okay, that's one." Midori reveals a girl in a Celestial Revue costume. "Who wants to look next?"

"I see one up on the catwalk!" Ash excitedly points out a cape hanging down from the top of the scene's ceiling.

"Well done!" Midori smiles as she reveals the second girl. "You have ten minutes left to find the last girl!"

"She is is right..." Misty uses her finger to circle a cape peeking from the curtains of the theater scene. "...here!"

More cheers fill the auditorium as Midori reveals the final Celestial Revue member, and stops the clock with seven minutes to spare. "Nicely done! Your show will go on without incident!"

"Since there were three Celestial Revue members that tried to crash our show, let's do three scenes from the play." Misty suggests.

"Okay...I'll make three secret rolls on a d10, one for each scene, and tell you what the audience thought of the play when you're done." Midori replies.

---------

The orchestra started an adventurous melody. "Prince Peter rode for a day and a night, for a week, for one month, for two, and then three." Brock narrated over the music. "He passed the swamps and the fiery desert, and at the edge of the forest, in the brush and briar, met Arceus and Kitsune, this time in all their holy glory, by two stones."

The lights came up on the set of a forest, where a majestic Arceus puppet and Serena, in the role of Kitsune stood waiting. Ash--in the role of Prince Peter--gasped when she entered the scene. "The Creator of All Things...and his holy envoy!"

He bowed before the Arceus puppet. "Milord, Lady Kitsune...I await your message with a humble heart."

"Why do you come here, young prince? To escape a task or to meet one?" Serena asked.

"To meet one." Ash replied. "Like my brothers, I seek the lair of the Nightmare Pokemon Darkrai, who has kidnapped my mother."

"You have a fine sword, a fine bow, and the mount of a hero, but all the same you will not get to Darkrai." Brock sighed in character as Arceus.

"Why not?" Ash asked, confused.

"There are three rivers in between, and three Hydreigons guard them." Serena explained. "Many a fine hero has tried to slay them so all may cross, but so far, all have failed. Your brothers turned tail and ran when they met the Hydreigons...so will you too flee for your life, or meet these vile monsters in battle?"

"I'm not like my brothers--even if I had to go to the ends of the world, and slay a thousand monsters, I will do anything it takes to bring my mother home safely." Ash vowed.

The Arceus puppet looked up at Ash as a soft and gentle theme began. "I see you are brave and courteous too." Brock began in character. "It is possible you may yet slay the Hydreigons that guard the three rivers. If you do, ride straight on until you reach a high mountain, where four palaces of Darkrai stand. At the base of the mountain is a cave with an iron door. Enter it and you will find four iron claws. Bind these to your hands and feet and you will be able to reach the top."

Ash nodded. "I will take Your holy advice to heart, milord...thank you!"

"You're most welcome, hero." the Arceus puppet replied as Ash departed offstage. "We both will be watching over you on your quest."

---------

Excited chatter raced across the stage as the lights came up on a crystal palace set. When Ash arrived, he found Serena, now in a pale blue costume sitting on a crystal divan, making lace on a crystal pillow.

"Hail and well met, milady!" Ash smiled as he approached Serena.

"To you likewise, young prince," Serena replied as she put away the prop lace. "But how did you come here? By your own free will or by force?"

"By my own free will," Ash answered. "I seek my mother who has been stolen away from my father's kingdom by Darkrai. Can you tell me where she is?"

"Why should I not be able?" Serena giggled. "My name is Crisanta, and I too was stolen from my father's kingdom by the Nightmare Pokemon, who visits me here once each month. But your mother he keeps in his fourth palace, which is built of diamonds, and there you must go. But, I beg you, if you do overcome and slay the monster, remember me and take me with you into the world of light."

"Better I give my own life than leave you to Darkrai!" Ash vowed, to cheers from the audience.

"Listen closely," Serena began. "When you come to the fourth of the Nightmare Pokemon's many palaces, you will see that it lies in a garden which is surrounded like a wall by an enormous Arbok coiled with its tail in its mouth."

She offered Ash some prop leaves. "Take this bundle of herbs. When you come into the open field around the palace, choose a spot where the wind blows from you toward the Arbok, build a fire, and throw some of the herbs into the flames. Be careful that you do not use it all and that you yourself stand with the wind at your back. The smoke will put the Arbok to sleep, and you may then climb over its body and enter the palace."

"Thanks!" Ash smiled as he took the leaves. "I will follow your directions to the letter."

He turned to exit the stage. "I promise--I will come back to rescue you!" Cheers went up as Midori secretly rolled the dice and the lights went down...

---------

"And so, our hero set out." Brock narrated over the orchestra for the third scene. "When he had traveled for a day, he came to a palace which rose from the midst of a green garden. But all around the garden, there lay coiled a huge Arbok, a living, scaly wall." He let that hang as the lights came up on the set of the palace, complete with a massive Arbok puppet.

The audience gawked at the Arbok puppet for a moment before a red flash from stage right and fire noises signaled Ash's character had put the Arbok puppet to sleep.

Ash emerged on the set some moments later. "There...now I can go in and see Mom while Sir Hiss-a-Lot snoozes!"

The audience giggled as ASh entered the diamond palace set. "Our hero passed through room after room till he came to the innermost sanctum." Brock narrated as the palace exterior set disappeared, revealing Ash climbing on an even more elaborate indoor set.

After a few moments, Ash arrived in a ballroom set, where Misty, now wearing a magnificent costume, waited. When she saw Ash, she gasped. "Peter...is it really you?"

"Mom...it's me." Ash smiled. "I came to rescue you!"

The orchestra played a joyous melody as Ash and Misty ran and embraced each other. Once the "Aw"s from the audience quieted, Misty asked "How have you found me here, my brave and beloved son? For I, your mother, am in the power of this mighty Nightmare Pokemon who comes to me each day. You will strive to overcome him, yet he commands powerful dark magic, while you are but a untested hero--I greatly fear for you!"

"The wind does not blow forever..." Ash smiled. "Eventually the darkness must yield to the light."

Misty smiled. "That is true...I can only hope you speak the truth."

A wind sound effect snapped Misty to attention. "Darkrai comes even now!"

She opened up the beautiful purple cape she wore. "Hide beneath my mantle!"

"Okay!" Ash hurried inside the long diamond studded cape, seconds before a huge Darkrai puppet entered the scene.

"Boo"s went up from the audience when they saw the puppet's jagged sword and gaping crimson maw. "Have you been lonely, light of my life?" Brock asked from offstage in a deep, but gentle voice.

"Yes," Misty answered. "You travel far, and have many enemies both in the holy realm and the mortal realm--I fear for your life."

"Don't worry," the Darkrai puppet replied. "My life is not in my body, but in another place."

"Where is that place?" Misty asked.

"It is in the broom that stands beside the door," the Darkrai puppet answered. "But I am tired and I would like to rest."

With that, the puppet sprawled out on an ornate black couch and pretended to sleep as the lights went down, to applause from the audience.

Midori then calculates the critics' review as the group returns in their character costumes. "The people and the critics are enthralled by the exciting adventure! It seems it is all the people can talk about for several days!"

She intones "But even though the thrill of a well performed show is nice, you haven't forgotten your primary objective of the aeon towers...and the Celestial Revue is more connected to the tower here, the Tower of Luna, than you think!"
 
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Session 22: In the Hall of Moonlight (part 1)


The orchestra starts an interlude as the group finishes picking out level 6 skills and organizing their inventories. "The morning after the troupe's first play, the actors and crew cheerfully attend to their morning routines." Midori reads over some sunny day ambiance as the song ends. "As the theater settles into its routine, you guys can turn your attention to the reason you came to Escadar: to find information about the failing aeon orb atop the Tower of Luna."

The audience murmurs as Midori tells the group. "You now need to figure out the location of the Temple of Moonlight, a now ruined temple of Luna that once stood here. Not many are left who remember the temple, so asking around won't help. You can do research in the local library, or talk to the resident priest about it. Either way, you need to get Andera's permission to go inside the ruins."

The group huddles to debate their options. After a few moments, Ash reports "We will investigate the library for leads."

"Okay...you can each roll a Knowledge check, or Brock can make a Lore check first." Midori replies "You need at least a 12 for a success."

"I'll go first..." Misty rolls her blue d20. "Nope...Meri doesn't find anything noteworthy."

"I'll do a Lore check, then try rolling for Knowledge." Brock offers before rolling his deep green d20. When his first roll comes up short, he makes another roll. "Larkin's search through the folkloric record doesn't turn up any leads, but perusing other historic records finds a clue."

He explains to the group "The Temple of Luna was buried shortly after the fall of a lost empire to make way for civic improvements to the city, and that its only remaining entrance is near a specific mermaid fountain somewhere in the city."

"Let's go back to the barracks." Misty suggests.

Misty projects the scene of Andera's quarters on the screen, then assumes the role of Andera. "Welcome back...first you clear out the area, then put on a thrilling play! You adventure as well as you play the role of adventurers!"

"Thank you, milady." Serena smiles. "We were doing some research in the library about somewhere called the Temple of Moonlight...what can you tell us about it?"

Midori nods. "The Temple of Moonlight is an abandoned and buried temple to the moon goddess Luna that the city wants to keep clear of smugglers and other criminals. I've posted guards at its only entrance near the outskirts of the city."

She smiles as a picture of an official document onscreen. "I’m going to give your names to my staff; you’ll be able to reach me without an appointment any time you’d like."

Cheers go up as the orchestra plays a victory stinger. "Andera Dewtail is now your ally!" Midori announces. "You also receive a Writ of Moonlight to enter the temple!"

---------

Midori cues some inner city ambiance as the orchestra starts a soft, yet mournful melody. "The eastern neighborhoods of Escadar are filled with houses of ill repute, gambling dens, and overcrowded tenements. In a courtyard at the end of a deserted side street, sequestered from the cacophony of swindlers and peddlers, a gaping sinkhole yawns next to a dry and crumbling fountain depicting a frolicking mermaid. A fence surrounds the sinkhole and the fountain. Four people dressed in official uniforms stand near the fountain, at ease but alert for trouble."

"Hail, good sirs...we have permission from the lady Dewtail to investigate the temple." Misty reports in character, as if the guards on the screen are actually there.

"Very well, milady...please be careful." Midori replies.

The orchestra then starts playing a quiet melody evoking a hymn. "Far beneath the restless city lies a monument to the distant past. Sturdy doors of reinforced marble guard the entrance to an impressive building constructed of gleaming white stone. White stone pillars support the cavern’s ceiling above. Stained glass windows along the temple’s walls peer like silent eyes."

She winces at the book's suggested encounter. "Let's just say the entrance is a safe zone, okay? This way, Larkin can create a warp point for the Song of the Wind."

Brock plays a soft D chord over the orchestra, making a ball of light appear in the plaza. "Larkin remembers this safe zone, so we can return here any any point with the Song of the Wind."

After Brock writes down the warp points in his list of known warp points, Midori sets the scene for the temple's first room. "This chamber’s domed ceiling rises twenty feet above the stone floor. Stained‑glass windows portray a radiant silver haired woman flying through a starry sky."

"Luna...the moon." Ash gasps in awe at the image on the screen.

Some demonic runes in the image get his attention. "Wait a second..."

Midori smiles as she adds an imp Pokemon to the scene. "The unholy graffiti adorning this image was made by an Indeedee!"

The orchestra begins the battle music. "The Indeedee tries to stun you with a horrible screech!" Midori announces, spurring the group to brace themselves.

"Two can play at this game..." Brock grins before singing his own Heart Song. Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo...

Ash notices the whorl of Cheri blossoms that batter the Indeedee. "Hey, your earth attack looks different!"

"I figured Level 6 would be high enough to evolve Dancing Leaves to Dancing Sakura." Brock replies.

Ash nods, then makes his roll for his attack. "Aldaron uses Star Arrow..."
 
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Session 23: In the Hall of Moonlight (part 2)


The crowd applauds the group's victory some time later. "Okay...you get a Paralyze Heal and six moonstones--a one use burst of cosmic damage." Midori reports.

"More magic stones are always good." Ash smiles as he notes the moonstones in his character's inventory.

"Agreed--emergency magic usage if your MP is gone, or a one use burst of magic for a physical character." Misty agrees.

Midori, meanwhile, finds the script for the next encounter. "Walls of smooth marble surround a pool filled with a purple sludge. A golden statue of Luna's face rises from the center of the pool, appearing to cry dark tears that fall into the noxious substance below. Faded mosaics on the walls surrounding the pool have been disfigured with more demonic runes."

She winces at the book's suggested encounter. "Do you guys REALLY want to battle gibbering mouthers?"

"X!" Serena announces, shuddering at a memory of the hideous mounds of eyes and mouths from a previous adventure. A red X appears over the scene with a loud buzz, alerting the audience that the X card has been invoked.

Midori nods. "Okay...all you have to do is cleanse this room. The question is how to do that?"

"I think I know how..." Brock smiles as he takes his guitar.

With that, he plays a soft G chord. Te lei ze cra riou te ze... he sings as he plays a soft, reverent melody.
Cra riou ze te riou rei neu, riou ze...
Va rei ze te, neu te riou te cra
Riou rei cra riou ze rei va ze rei...
Va neu va rei, va neu va ze rei!
Cra riou cra neu te rei cra riou ze lei va
Lei va neu cra te lei lei!


The orchestra joins in with Brock's guitar for another round of the song. Te lei ze cra riou te ze...
Cra riou ze te riou rei neu, riou ze...
Va rei ze te, neu te riou te cra
Riou rei cra riou ze rei va ze rei...
Va neu va rei, va neu va ze rei!
Cra riou cra neu te rei cra riou ze lei va
Lei va neu cra te lei lei!


Applause fills the auditorium as the corrupted room on Midori's screen is healed. "Well, that's one way to heal demonic corruption..." Misty admits as the orchestra segues into the safe zone music.

"Good idea--this room is now a safe area." Midori smiles as she rewards Brock some bonus experience.

Brock plays another soft G chord, creating a warp point in the room. "Luna...what can you tell us about the nightmare that infects this world, and corrupts the aeon towers?" he asks.

Midori smiles--Brock has triggered a secret event! "As if in response to your question, faint reflections appear within the waters of the pool and move, almost like a movie screen."

With that, the screen shows a video of the vision to the four players and the theater audience. As the video begins, robed humans kneel in a sun‑drenched atrium beneath stained‑glass murals proclaiming the glorious deeds of their fallen god. Dark blotches form around the images, spreading like ink spilled upon a clean page. As the darkness spreads, the scene changes. A tall, fierce trog with two tentacles waving from his back stands before an audience of his kind in the temple’s atrium. He bellows “I speak with the voice of Zimbragev, and I do his will. Will you join me in this sacred quest for vengeance?" Cheers and screeches fill the atrium before the video ends.

"What was that?" Ash asks in character as the lights come up a little on the stage.

"Luna was telling us that trogs loyal to someone or something named Zimbragev caused all this corruption..." Serena replies.

"I may be no priestess, but I do recall hearing many a sermon on the wiles and traps of Zimbragev, a high ranking demon lord." Misty reports after a successful Lore check.

"We'll see if this Zimbragev is the true mastermind behind all of this soon enough." Ash vows in character.

---------

"This abandoned chapel is shrouded in gloom." Midori reads over some ominous music from the orchestra. "To the east, a broken slab surrounded by marble debris is all that remains of a large statue. Atop the broken slab stands a crude altar of wood and stone bearing more demonic runes."

She adds some trogs into the scene. "You find a trog shaman and three trog warriors here, paying their respects to Zimbragev."

Ash sighs. More demons...

In frustration, he gets up and makes a dramatic gesture at the screen. Akuryo taisen!

Midori is shocked by Ash's action, but Misty is relieved. "Thank you for banishing every demon and follower here..."

After contemplating what to do about Ash breaking the adventure, Midori just decides to roll with the rest of the demon and cultist-free dungeon. "As the light fades from your banishing spell, you do find an armband bearing a whimsical eight point star--the icon of the Celestial Revue. Does this mean Dima and the trog cultists have a connection?"

"Three guesses, and the first two don't count." Brock smiles, also relieved Ash banished all the demons and their followers in the dungeon.

"Any other kind of trog or other monster is still here..." Midori cautions. "So you may yet have to fight."

She whispers to Ash "Next time, will you ask if you want to break the adventure?" to some giggles from the audience. Ash nods yes in response to Midori's request.

Midori turns her attention back to the adventure book. "Stairs worn smooth by countless steps over the millennia traverse a dizzying spiral leading to a circular stone chamber. An enormous, cracked bronze bell buckles under the weight of the partially collapsed stone ceiling. The air seems to warp and shimmer, with tangles of thick cobwebs--!"

"X!" Misty announces, making the red X appear on the screen with a buzz.

"Relax, Misty, I'm not going to make you fight a bug." Midori gently assures Misty as the mod team in the online chat prepares for Spinarak and Ariados memes.

"Let's just fix up this area and call it a safe zone, okay?" Brock suggests.

"Good idea." Midori agrees as the D chord Brock played to create the warp point also heals the room...
 
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Session 24: In the Hall of Moonlight (part 3)


"Rows of splintered wooden pews face an oval dais three feet high." Midori sets the scene over an uneasy version of the safe zone music. Wide marble steps lead up to the dais, and a polished mahogany pulpit stands at its center. A glorious fresco on the curved wall behind the dais depicts Luna engaging in several tasks: battling an imperious necromancer, raising a pair of islands from the sea, and standing atop a mountain with her hands outstretched, wreathed in stars."

She intones "Hideous images scrawled in tar and old blood painted over the fresco tell a vastly different story. A reptilian humanoid climbs a tunnel from the depths to the surface in one scene. In the next, he reaches out to snatch an orb from a tower drawn on one of the islands, then crushes the orb in his fist. This image repeats several more times in slightly different‑looking towers, followed by a final scene of dead trees and skulls around the mountain."

"I see...the trogs defaced this holy image with their own story--destroying the aeon towers and allowing Zimbragev to reign supreme." Ash muses.

"Since your banishment before removed every cultist and demon encounter on this level and the lower level..." Midori muses, to some giggles. "...all you have to do is cleanse this place."

"I'll do that." Brock offers before playing a gentle D chord, cleansing the room and transforming the image into a safe zone.

"Is there anything we can use here?" Misty asks.

Midori rolls a Search check. "You find a Circlet of the Moon, a set of prayer beads, and a Hero's Scroll."

"The circlet and the beads are cleric gear, so in the vault they go." Misty replies. "We'll hang onto the scroll--just in case!"

---------

"This chamber has towering ivory doors to the east and west. A stone statue of a human lady clad in a flowing robe has one hand raised in a gesture of warning and a burning brazier held in its other hand." Midori explains. It stands directly in front of the western door. Other than several chunks of stone and black wood scattered across the floor, the room is bare."

"Christine decides to check the room, just in case." Serena replies.

Midori grins--Serena has found a clue that Dima and the Celestial Revue have been sneaking around the old temple! "You notice a folded piece of parchment discarded amid the debris. The parchment contains an itemized list of several objects written in the mithra language, most of which have been crossed off. The remaining items include 'ghost’s diadem,' 'goblet,' 'balm,' and 'white stole.' This list is Dima’s inventory of potentially valuable or magical relics; she carelessly dropped it here the last time she was sneaking through this room."

"Another clue Dima was here!" Misty gasps.

"We'll put this with the Celestial Revue armband--this is evidence to show Andera when we're done here." Brock suggests.

"Luna...we want to help cleanse your temple of the evil inside..." Misty addresses an imagined being on the stage, as if the statue of Luna is there. "May we come downstairs?"

"As if in response to your request, the statue moves aside, allowing you passage downstairs." Midori replies. "And with that, you have completed this area, and grew to Level 7!"

Cheers fill the theater as the lights come up for an intermission...

---------

Once the intermission is over and the group has chosen Level 7 skills, Midori sets the scene for the third part of the adventure. "You have learned that troglodytes are using the Temple of Moonlight as a base of operations. Along the way, you also have uncovered clues—but not definitive proof—that Dima has been stealing from the site. You guys must descend to the temple's lower level to learn more."

One of the flutes in the orchestra plays the fairies' motif from before. "If you're lucky, you may find a few wandering fey here as you explore this part of the temple." Midori explains.

"I still have the Faerie's Flute from earlier if I sense some of their magical energy." Ash assures Midori."

Midori nods. "Smooth stone stairs, worn down by countless generations of footsteps, wind downward to an intersection of hallways adorned with dusty rugs and ornamented with symbols of winged eyes. Discarded bones, bits of broken weapons, and an awful smell all provide evidence of recent troglodyte occupation."

"But whether we find any Ash's banishing spell missed, we'll have to find out." Brock muses. "I still have my one use of the Swanna Song for this adventure, but I'm saving it especially for Miss Dima--a haunting aria she won't soon forget."

Laughter ripples through the theater at Brock's witty comment. "Moving on...Towering mahogany bookcases line the walls of this chamber, their shelves crammed with thousands of ancient texts." Midori reads as she shows the group the scene of an ancient library. "A thick layer of dust covers the shelves’ contents and the round reading table to the south. Rickety wooden ladders affixed to the ceiling provide access to the highest shelves of books. Faded, threadbare brocade rugs stretch luxuriously across the floor."

She tells the group "Hidden within these books are three books that may be of help to you guys. Each of you may try to find something--you need at least a 10 to find one of the books."

Ash is the first to roll. "18!"

Midori smiles. "You've found the book 'Myths of the Moon Goddess'. Some of the stories in here may have a lead."

She gives Brock a piece of paper. "Here are some of the stories that may be the most helpful for your quest."

"Even if they don't have any leads, they are still worthy tales to learn." Brock assures Midori before studying the stories.

Misty rolls next. "15."

"You find a book talking about the sacred pools of visions, and the Circlets of the Moon priests in service to Luna wear." Midori reports.

"Good to know!" Misty makes a few notes in her character journal.

"I'll defer my roll for the moment, unless Serena gets a bad roll." Brock tells Midori.

"Okay, we'll assume Larkin is still reading the myths Aldaron found before." Midori suggests.

Serena makes a roll. "14."

"You found a book of magic spells." Midori explains. "Some of them may be helpful to you." She then passes Serena a list of the spells.

As Ash and the girls decide which of the spells they want, Midori adds an image of Luna to the scene. "As you perform your research, the moon goddess Luna appears to you!"

"Lady of the Moon...how can we be of service?" Brock asks, as if the image is there.

"I come to you because I sense the light of my sister Gaia upon you." Midori replies as Luna. "Once you reclaim my light and add my power to Gaia's, travel the world, and claim the lights of the other goddesses by healing the aeon towers. Once all the lights of the goddesses have united, can you end this evil once and for all."

"We promise that as we travel the world and perform our plays, we will find the lights of the goddess." Misty tells Midori in character. "Either that, or die trying!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 25: In the Hall of Moonlight (part 4)


"Okay...I think I found something in all these Luna tales that could be considered a lead." Brock explains.

He gets up from the table and reads from the handout Midori gave him. "In the beginning, the world was a void of chaos. Then from the chaos, there shone a bright light...the light goddess Aurora. Aurora's sister Luna was charged with watching over the world by night..."

"We're all familiar with the tale of the world's creation." Serena muses. "So how is that going to help us?"

Brock reads further down the page. "Here's the interesting part...When the goddesses finished their labors, they erected great towers and distilled a little of their power into a pure, shining jewel, an aeon orb. In order, they are the Tower of Gaia, the Tower of Luna, the Tower of Zephyr, the Tower of Vesta, the Tower of Undine, the Tower of Astra, and the Tower of Aurora."

"There's the four primal elements for you." Misty smiles at Ash. "We've healed Gaia's tower, and we're working on Luna..."

"Earth, moon, wind, fire, water, the stars, and light." Serena smiles.

Midori is just as pleased the group has discovered the order they will find the aeon orbs. "Are we ready to move on?"

The group and the audience cheers in reply. "Twelve Pokemon statues ring the perimeter of this round, cavernous chamber. The exquisitely detailed stonework reveals that these are none other than the twelve Pokemon of the Zodiac. Low stone steps lead to a circular dais at the center of the room, where an inscription has been carved deeply into the gray stone. Double doors exit to the north and east."

"In some versions of the Race of the Pokemon tale, Luna assisted Arceus in determining the finishers." Brock muses in character after rolling a Lore check. "So it makes sense for these to be here in a temple of Luna."

Ash notices two of the twelve Pokemon statues have the jewels on them missing. "That's weird...why are Ponyta and Arcanine missing their jewels?"

Inspires, he takes the silver whistle standing in for the Faerie's Flute, and plays the fey motif, making two fairies materialize in the image. "Why are the Ponyta and Arcanine missing their jewels?" Ash asks in character, as if the fairies are there.

"A mithra stole Ponyta's and Arcanine's jewels, Sir Wizard." Midori replies as the female fairy. "What she plans to use them for, we do not know, but it can't be good."

"Another piece of evidence Dima was here..." Serena muses as Ash makes a note in the collective character journal, which lists all the evidence the mithra Dima has been near the temple.

"Soon...Dima will face her judgement." Brock assures Serena. "And the Celestial Revue will live on under a kinder impresaria." Some applause goes up at Brock's vow as the orchestra starts an interlude...

---------

"The double door to this large, open crypt leads to a small balcony and a short flight of stairs." Midori sets the next scene some time later. "The stone railing on the balcony has been knocked onto the floor a few feet below. Several metal slabs protrude a few inches above the floor, each bearing a life‑sized representation of a reclining human priest. That the slabs cover graves is obvious, as three of the lids have been torn from the ground to reveal shallow pits."

"Trogs had to have been here..." Ash muses in character. "Good thing I banished all those and undead earlier..."

"So all you have to do now to finish this part of the adventure is cleanse this crypt, just to be sure all the undead are gone." Midori tells the group.

"I'll do that." Brock volunteers, acknowledging some of the orchestra performers and singers with a nod.

He then starts to sing Ieyui...
Nobomeno...
Renmiri...
Yojuyogo...


A drum and a tambourine join in as Brock continues Ieyui...
Nobomeno....
Renmiri...
Yojuyogo...


Some singers join in with backup. Hasate kanae...
Kutamae...

Hasate kanae...
Kutamae...


Ash joins in on whistle as Brock starts another rendition of Ieyui...
Nobomeno...
Renmiri...
Yojuyogo..
. alone.

One of the flutists adds a descant to back up the whistle as Brock continues Ieyui...
Nobomeno....
Renmiri...
Yojuyogo...

Hasate kanae...
the singers join back in.
Kutamae...

Hasate kanae...
Kutamae...


Midori waits for the applause to die down before continuing "As the last note of your song fades, Luna appears to you here."

"Thank you for cleansing the tombs of those who fell here long ago." she smiles as Luna. "As a reward, I grant you each a divine weapon, blessed by the moonlight."

She then announces "Aldaron receives a Bow of Moonlight!"

"Meri receives a Lunar Blade!"

"Larkin receives a Lute of the Full Moon!"

"Christine receives the divine silver rapier Lune!"

"Thank you, Luna, for these gifts." Serena smiles. "We promise to wield them with honor and respect."

"But before we return to our theater, may I ask one more favor of you?" Ash asks. "We have Gaia's light, and we have an idea where your light is...so where are the other five?"

"Ask, and ye shall receive." Midori smiles before cuing another video.

On the screen, the footage ripples like water, then a vision appears of a dark void. After a few tense moments, a bright light splits the void into a light and dark side, before becoming a shining lady in a beautiful pale yellow costume decorated with rainbows. The goddess stands atop a lofty peak. Across the islands below the light, seven towers crowned with seven gleaming orbs rise into the dawn sky. The aeon orbs burst with elemental power, and the reflection from each orb sparkles upon the newly formed world, creating the elements--earth, fire, wind, water, the moon, the stars, and light.

Once the video ends and the lights come up on the stage, Ash vows "Thank you, Lady of Dreams. I promise you this to you and the other goddesses--we will do everything we can to heal the aeon orbs, and banish this nightmare that threatens the world--or die trying!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 26: Revenge on the Revue


Gasps and a shocked stinger surprise the group and the audience when they see a scene of fire damage across their caravan! "Who did this?" Misty demands. "Who set our caravan ablaze?"

"A half dozen people came with torches and swords." Midori explains as Soraya. "We were rehearsing a few scenes from our next play, so we were too scattered to make a good defense. They wore masks, but plenty of us recognized them anyway—ruffians from the Celestial Revue."

"Dima..." Brock mutters.

"The caravan isn't too damaged, is it?" Ash asks

"While no one was hurt or killed, and the damage can be repaired, the message was clear: we’ve been told to get out of Escadar or expect something worse." Midori intones. "That crafty mithra Dima is behind this, no doubt. An attack like this goes too far. She’s got to answer for what she’s done, one way or another."

"Let's inform the lady Dewtail about what's happened, and present our evidence." Serena suggests.

---------

"...based on all of this, and the fire at our caravan, we believe Dima has more sinister ambitions than just running a rival theater troupe out of town." Ash explains in character some time later, making a grand gesture to the images of the evidence the group has found on the screen.

"Very well, you have permission and authority to pursue the mithra Dima Khenri." Midori replies as Andera. "I would prefer you take her alive, but if you must defend yourselves, bring back some proof she is slain."

The orchestra plays a dreamy interlude as Midori changes the scene to the caravan holding the Celestical Revue's gear and personnel. "A wall of pruned thorny bushes gives way to a delicate wrought‑iron gate bearing the words 'Celestial Revue' in large letters. A wooden sign above them, decorated with winged Pokemon, reads, 'The Delights of Nirvana Await'."

She adds an image of two muscled brutes at the entrance. "There are two bruisers here--fighting them is not a good idea...and they will spot you if you try to get in."

"Aldaron puts the brutes to sleep." Ash smiles before chanting in character "Lose conscious, wash away into the silent sea..."

The orchestra's harpist plays a dreamy gliss to symbolize the sleep spell taking effect. "Okay, as long as you don't make too much noise, the brutes remain asleep." Midori tells Ash.

She tells the others "The girls of the revue hate working with Dima, and will do everything they can to help you defeat her."

"So they are effectively innocents?" Serena asks. Midori nods.

Midori next projects the image of a long haired girl in a majestic revue costume. "One of the girls..."

"Wendy!" Brock eagerly suggests a name for the revue member.

"Okay, we can call her Wendy." Midori accepts Brock's suggestion. "Wendy meets you at the entryway, a little surprised you managed to get past the brutes."

"H-how? How did you get inside?" she stammers as Wendy.

"Peace--we're only here to bring justice on the mithra who oppresses you and the other girls." Brock explains before gesturing to Ash. "My wizard companion put the brutes to sleep, so we could rescue you and the other girls while also dealing with the mithra.

Midori offers Ash a shiny gold tin whistle, also in D. "Here...this magic whistle is a gift from me. It will call friendly creatures to you if you need them."

"Thanks, Wendy." Ash smiles as he takes the whistle.

Piqued, he plays the Zelda whistle theme on the new whistle...only for a beautiful pegasus to arrive in the scene! "This is Skydancer." Midori explains as Wendy. "Dima was planning to use her in our next play, but was unable to tame her. I managed to tame her with that Glowing Whistle, and named her Skydancer."

"Hello, Skydancer!" Ash smiles. "We promise to protect you from evil in whatever forms it may present itself!"

Cheers go up as the orchestra plays a triumphant stinger. "The pegasus named Skydancer now trusts you as a companion." Midori smiles.

"Where is Dima?" Serena asks. "Can you show us where she is?"

"I've never been in Dima's room myself, but many say her wagon is a massive dungeon, filled with monsters and traps." Midori explains as Wendy. "What girls have gone in there, often don't come out."

Brock nods. "Well, I have a special song for Miss Dima--one that will set you and the others free from her cunning and trickery!"

---------

The audience watches in awe as the group arrives in Dima's quarters some time later. "This large room is decorated with colorful curtains and low, comfortable furniture. An exquisitely carved mahogany four‑poster bed stands in one corner, piled high with luxurious satin sheets, plump pillows, and a damask coverlet in midnight blue. Theater posters showing a few of Dima’s roles over many years—as a hero, an earth spirit, and a herald—adorn the walls in gilded frames." Midori reads.

An image of a cat-like humanoid in a gaudy costume appears in the scene. "The game is up, Dima!" Misty challenges. "You have nowhere to go now!"

“You..." Midori growls as Dima. “You don’t know when to stop, do you? Do you think killing me will make you better performers? Will your washed up troupe fare better without my competition?”

"Actually, we'll do one better..." Brock grins. "I've saved this number especially for you!"

With that, he sings Gatrandis favel, secret, edena...
Emusto ronzen fine el balaziis...
Katoradis favel siicletu edena...
At this line, rainbow lights appear on Brock's fingers.
Emusto koron zen fine, si...

A bright flash lights up the theater, revealing Dima bound in divine rainbow rope. "And so, the Celestial Revue became no more a place of nightmares, and the show it was always destined to be, thanks to Luna's divine power cleansing it of evil." Midori concludes the adventure. "Our heroes now set their sights on a wild island, and the many potential locations of plays and the aeon towers--the Theater of the Aeons continues tomorrow in 'The Stage of the Wild'!"

Thunderous applause fills the air as the group gets up to take a bow...

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 27: The Stage of the Wild (part 1)

"...and so, the Fantasia Theater arrives in the coastal town of Kerrick, known as the gateway to the Wildlands." Midori explains as she sets the scene for the live campaign's third adventure. "There, they hope to add the powers of the wind, fire, and water to the lights of earth and the moon they already have."

She then cues some seaside ambiance. "Through the bustle of the town docks, a distinctive figure appears. He is a human of medium height and middling age with thinning salt-and-pepper hair swept back from his brow above bushy eyebrows, thick sideburns, and a neatly trimmed mustache above a smooth-shaven chin. He wears the somber formal garb of a solicitor or an undertaker. The small flower pinned to his lapel is a sullen shade of purple. His eyes sweep the crowd as if searching out someone, only to alight on you, and he immediately smiles and raises his ornate walking cane in salutation."

"Good day, sir--what can we do for you?" Misty asks the image of the man, as if he is really there.

"You may call me Sir Vandy, lady knight." Midori smiles as the man. "Are you four maybe actors that are part of the wonderful theater from Escadar, perchance?"

"We are them, and they are us." Brock smiles, pleased at just how well Midori is playing Vandy. "Is there a specific play you would like us to perform? We aim to please our fans."

"Word of your coming reached me from Escadar, and as head of the local agricultural association, I thought that having a traveling theater troupe in the area would be wonderful for both the economy and the morale of the people of the Wildlands." Midori replies as Vandy. "Times are bad enough as of late that the chance for a little good, wholesome fun might be just the thing to put the spring back in people’s step. In light of that, I have taken it upon myself to help get things arranged for your humble troupe's stay in Kerrick and the surrounding area."

"We would be honored to receive your services, Sir Vandy." Serena replies.

Midori nods. "Very well, I will see to the unloading and temporary housing of the theater personnel, equipment, Pokemon, sets, instruments, costumes, and props until you can get yourselves organized on land."

As herself she explains "Vandy guides you guys to a theater on the square on the outskirts of town that holds seasonal festivals and market fairs. He tells you that the theater belongs to the Kerrick Grange, but he has arranged for it to be lent out to you guys for the bargain price of 5 gold pieces per night; provided you buy supplies and labor needs locally, and clean up after yourselves."

She adds "Before going, however, Vandy invites you guys to dinner at his home, Vandy House, at nightfall. He wishes to celebrate your arrival and help them as you plan your travels around the Wildlands. He then leaves the heroes to their play preparations."

She tells the group and the audience "This part of the campaign is a little more open than the last two adventures, so you have a little more freedom to perform your plays, and explore the Towers of Zephyr, Vesta, and Undine. You eventually have to do all of that, but you can perform your plays and explore the towers in any order."

The group nods. "So, do you wish to perform a play now, or join Sir Vandy for dinner first?"

The group huddles to discuss their options. "Both options sound appealing, but something about Sir Vandy doesn't feel right..." Misty explains.

Brock digs a prop coin from his costume pocket. "Heads, we do a play first, tails, we have dinner with Sir Vandy, and then do a play."

The group watches as Brock flips the coin. "It's heads." Serena reports as she finds the coin by Brock's right foot."

The group next discusses what play to do for this location. "Pity 'The Three Musketeers doesn't exist in this world..." Misty sighs.

"Aw"s fill the theater and the online chat in agreement. "Let's do 'Destrian and the Hidden Treasure'!" Ash suggests.

"Okay!" the others agree before telling some actor extras what play they plan to do first...

---------

The orchestra started a quiet overture as the group started their scene showcase for their first in universe play. "There was once a king who wasted his money on wine, women, and games of chance." Brock began from a nook at stage right. "Before long, all his money was gone. But he knew that he would have to get more somewhere, for he wished to continue in his evil ways. So over time, he sold each of his three daughters in exchange for money."

Angry whispers floated over the overture at this. "Like you guys, the people of the land were outraged that the three princesses were sold to strangers." Brock assured the antsy crowd and the online chat. "No one knew where they had gone or what had become of them. Their mother often cried over them. Only her son, whose name was Destrian, was left with her."

"Aw"s filled the air as the overture turned sad. "The king soon got his just desserts of his wicked life, but he had not used up all the money he had received for Princess Christina, and left some of it behind." Brock continued. "When Destrian grew up, he started school. His mother had told him nothing of his three lost sisters. But his schoolmates told him, for they had heard their parents talk about them..." He let that hang as the overture ended and the lights came up on a fantasy house set. A woman in a simple red peasant costume feigned cooking in the kitchen.

"Mom?" Ash called from offstage. "I'm home!"

"Welcome home, Destrian...how was school today?" the woman smiled as Ash--now in a simple red tunic and leggings to match--arrived in the scene.

Ash sighed. "My classmates won't leave me alone! They tell me each of my three sisters was sold to strangers for money...and I want to know if that is true or not. If it is true, I want to find them."

The woman was silent as the orchestra started a sad melody. "It's true....they were each sold to a stranger for a high price. Your father lived a life of excess, and wished to continue wasting his money on wine, women, and song."

She looked up at Ash with feigned tears. "But now...I don't know where in the world my girls are! What if they were sold to evil people, or worse, monsters???" With that, she burst into convincing stage sobs.

"Take heart, Mom--I will venture forth into the world, and find my sisters--or die trying!" Ash vowed as the orchestra's song turned hopeful. "Even if I have to go to the very ends of the world to find them, I will not rest until I see they are safe."

"All right..." the woman replied as she dried her feigned tears. "I will have enough supplies for three weeks waiting for you in the morning."

She hugged Ash as the lights went down. "Be safe, my son..."
 
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Session 28: The Stage of the Wild (part 2)

Midori makes a secret roll for the group's first scene showcase. "All right, you may perform your second scene showcase when you're ready."

The lights came up on Ash and Misty--in the role of the youngest sister--in the den of a house. "Christina...I believe Arceus is calling me to seek a bride." Ash mused. "Your beloved has flown all over the world, I'd wager...has he found where the most beautiful princess in the world is?"

"Well...he tells me that in a land far away lives a very rich king who has two beautiful daughters." Misty replied. "Would you like me to use the Crystal of Seeing to show them to you?" she asked, starting towards a crystal ball on an ornate pedestal. "This is how my husband knows what is going on in the world when it is too dangerous to fly."

"Are you sure you're allowed to use the Crystal of Seeing?" Ash wasn't so sure.

Misty nodded. "All you have to do is tell the crystal who or what it is you want to see. If you just want to see all that is going on the world, just tell it 'I want to see the world'."

"What are the names of these two princesses?" Ash asked.

"Alma and Perla are their names." Misty replied.

"I'd like to see Princess Alma and Princess Perla...please." Ash nervously stammered.

The audience gasped in awe was amazed as the crystal ball glowed, revealing the image of Serena and an extra in royal garb greeting their subjects as they walked down a street. "Hm...while both of them are very beautiful and pure of heart, I will try to win Perla's hand first." Ash mused as the image faded away.

The lights came up on the set of a house exterior, where a man in an ornate wizard's robe and Misty were seeing Ash off. "Christina told me everything." the man explained. "Before you depart on your quest, take this--it is a gift from me."

With that, he dropped a glowing emerald into Ash's hands. "This has wonderful power. If you ever get into trouble, sing to it 'Karuto, iichiida shou...' and it will bring you help from the sky."

"Karuto, iichiida shou...--got it!" Ash smiled. "I promise to use this gift wisely and well."

"Farewell, Destrian!" the man called as he and Misty waved goodbye. "May Arceus grant you His favor on your noble quest!"

---------

Awed chatter filled the air as the lights came up on a beautifully decorated shrine set. "The next morning, Destrian went on to the castle to see the wedding of Princess Alma." Brock narrated as the wedding procession paraded inside the set. "The wedding was a grand affair, and there was much rejoicing, for the people did not think that the sea dragon would carry off Princess Alma. But during the wedding feast, Princess Alma vanished without a trace." He let that hang as the lights went down and "Here Comes the Bride" came to a halt.

"Alma! Alma, where are you?" a man playing the king called as he frantically searched a set of a royal hall. "I've searched this entire castle from top to bottom, and I can't find Princess Alma anywhere."

"That's because Leviathan has taken her." a girl playing a maid sighed.

"Many a brave hero has tried to slay Leviathan, but so far, all have failed." an boy playing a noble agreed. "Arceus have mercy on the poor girls..."

"Aw"s filled the peak as the lights came up on a throne room set, where Ash bowed on one knee before the man playing the king. "Your Majesty...I have come from afar seeking the hand of your younger daughter. Princess Perla."

The man balked at this. "What good will it do you to marry her? You know she will be carried off by the Giant of the Sea, Leviathan!"

"But I can kill that big ol' water dragon." Ash smiled, to some giggles as he struck a heroic pose.

"How?" the man asked. "No one can do that!"

"On my travels around this world, I met three great wizards, who granted me three magical stones." Ash explained. "I also managed to recover three magic items from the clutches of bandits."

"What sort of treasure?" The man was interested.

"One was a coat that can make its wearer invisible." Ash explained. "Another was a pair of shoes that can make the wearer run faster than the wind. The third was a sword that can overcome all enemies--not even the primal dragon Eternatus can stand against the one that wields it!"

He vowed "You have my word I will use my treasures to defeat Leviathan and bring back Princess Alma and the other lost girls, or die trying. I also promise to be faithful to Princess Perla, now and forever."

The man smiled. "Very well, Destrian. I give my heartiest blessings on your marriage. May Perla be faithful to you, now and forever."

The orchestra started an ominous melody as the lights went down. "The next day the wedding feast was held." Brock narrated from his nook. "There was not much happiness this time, for the people knew that the king's only remaining child would soon be stolen away by the Giant of the Sea."

He intoned "Sure enough, at the feast, the bride disappeared without a trace; and everyone within miles knew she was taken to the dragon's cave."

The lights came up on the royal hall set, where Ash noticed a crowd of extras playing nobles feigning crying. "I knew this place would be an uproar when Perla was taken by Leviathan, but nothing like this!"

"How long, O Arceus?" a girl playing a priestess cried. "How long until we are delivered from the scourge of Leviathan, and our daughters and sisters brought back to us?"

Ash grimaced at this. "This has gone far enough!"

This got the crowd of extras' attention. "For far too long you have suffered because of the great water dragon Leviathan, and lost many beloved daughters. But I intend to break this cycle of woe, so your daughters and sisters can unite before Arceus without fear!"

"Are you sure?" a woman playing a noble asked. "I applause your willingness to slay Leviathan, but you have a long quest ahead of you. Are you sure you want to try and bring back your beloved Perla and the other girls?

Ash nodded. "Tomorrow I will go and bring them back!"

The crowd roared at the conclusion of the third scene. "Okay..." Midori began as the group returned to the table in their costumes. "Overall, your first play receives very favorable reviews, save for a few minor nitpicks. You've more than earned Sir Vandy's favor, and a place at his table!"

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 29: Dinner and a Haunting (part 1)

Midori cues some nighttime ambiance over a scene of a beautiful mansion. "This is a home of obvious wealth constructed of red brick with white granite accents. Wooden shingles cover the roof between three tall, brick chimneys. At the roof’s peak is a weather vane in the shape of a phoenix. A path of crushed gravel leads to the front stairs as well as around the house. Wide stairs rise to a front porch between stately, inset windows. The base of the stairs is flanked by a pair of decorative stone urns from which grow small plants, and a stone font is set into the wall next to the front doors."

"Meri knocks at the door to inform Sir Vandy we're here." Misty smiles, complete with gently knocking on the table for effect.

The door on the house image opens, revealing Sir Vandy at the door. "Welcome, welcome, actors of the Fantasia! Many thanks for that thrilling adventure this evening!"

"As we said before, we aim to please our fans." Serena smiles.

"If you would like a show with dinner, we would happily showcase more of our skills." Misty agrees.

"At the moment, Sir Vandy invites you inside, and gets you guys settled in the opulent dining room." Midori explains. "Judging from the many treasures in the house, Sir Vandy has made his fortune acquiring many rare and valuable artifacts."

Brock notices an odd necklace that looks out of place in the dining room scene. "Larkin uses Sense Evil on this necklace via the Song of Seeing." he reports, playing an A minor chord for effect.

"Though this diamond shines beautifully in the bright room, you feel an odd sense of foreboding coming from it." Midori reports. "Though you can't identify it, the uneasy feeling is enough to convince you not to handle it."

"Yeah--I will leave it alone." Brock nervously replies. I know better than to handle cursed items!

"You shake off the uneasy feeling as you return to the table." Midori smiles. "About then, Sir Vandy gives the call for dinner to be served."

"Wow..." Ash smiles as images of an opulent fantasy spread appear in the dining room scene.

After pantomiming eating, as if the food is there, Ash tells Midori "Would you like some entertainment with dinner, Sir Vandy? We still have enough energy to perform..."

"While we can't perform a full show in here, we can at least showcase our music and dance." Brock agrees. "May Arceus judge us if we damage or ruin a family treasure due to our spirited show!"

Even Midori laughs along with the audience. "There is time before the dessert course, so you are more than welcome to provide the evening's entertainment!"

Cheers fill the auditorium as the group retrieves their instruments. "Now then, this song sets the plot of one of our most popular plays to music." Brock explains as he checks his guitar's tuning, then puts a well loved capo on the first fret. "Hear now the ballad of 'Brian and Epona'..."

With that, he snaps to count off Ash and the girls into the intro to a familiar rousing song. The audience recognizes the song the group is playing, and start clapping along as Brock sings the first verse:

It's of a jolly beggarman came tripping o'er the plain,
He came unto a castle fair, a lodging for to gain
His Royal Highness, he came down and viewed him cheek and chin
He said, 'You are a handsome man, of course I'll take you in...'

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night,
The audience eagerly sings along on the chorus.
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving...

The beggar that the king took in, was not poor as he claimed,
Brock sings alone.
He really was a handsome prince, and Brian he was named
He'd traveled far on a holy steed in search of fortune fine
And bringing honor and great fame upon his royal line.

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving...
the audience sings along in reply. The call and response continued like this--Brock would sing the verse, and the audience would join in on the chorus:

Fair Brian proved a fine young man at any task he set to,
And with every deed he did, the court's love for him grew,
The lords and kitchen maids alike had only praise to say
"He is true, faithful, diligent! Do not send him away!"

We'll go no more a roving, a roving in the night
We'll go no more a roving, let the moon shine so bright
We'll go no more a roving...


---------

As the applause for the group's performance dies down, the background music turns somber. "The mood at the table dampens as Vandy takes a moment to swallow a bite of food while apparently lost in thought, his face marked by previously hidden lines of worry and exhaustion." Midori explains.

"What's wrong, good sir?" Serena asks in character.

“You have all been such fine company,” Midori sighs as Sir Vandy, “and I am so thrilled that you have brought your theatrical fantasy to the good people of Kerrick Grange. But I suppose I must level with you.“

"You have done so much for us, and so we wish to help you in return." Brock agrees, adding a soft G chord to add a tinge of hope to the sad music.

"As you have no doubt heard, times have been hard of late for the people of the Wildlands." Midori replies as Sir Vandy. "The grange has come together to try and ease everyone’s suffering as much as possible, but the weather has been poor and the crops aren’t growing like they used to; there’s lean times ahead, I fear. But that’s not all. There are things happening at a much more personal level for me, yet that also seem to be afflicting my friends and neighbors. So you should probably know the truth about what's going on.“

"Whatever shame is upon you, we will do our best to stop evil and bring happiness to the people again." Misty assures Midori. "That, and bring peace to your aching heart."

"I think that I’m being haunted...and I think that whatever is haunting me is killing the folk of the grange to torment me." Midori explains in character. "It has brought me to the brink of despair, and I admit that I find the thought of your wonderful theater, and its song and dance, a welcome distraction. Truth be told, though, I doubt it will help in the long run. Even with your theater here, I fear the hauntings—and the deaths—will continue. But I find in your company that you are much, much more than simple theater performers. You have in you the stuff of heroes, I believe, so I can’t help but allow myself to feel a little bit of hope. I hope that you might be willing to help.”

"Though we are theater performers by trade, we were trained as adventurers first." Brock explains. "You have our word that we will get to the bottom of what has happened here, and drive out whatever evil we find...we promise."

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 30: Searching for Undine (part 1)


"So, now you guys have a choice in how this adventure progresses..." Midori explains. "Do you want to explore the Tower of Undine first, the Tower of Vesta first, or the Tower of Zephyr first? This affects where you guys perform your next play."

The group huddles to debate their options, then Serena reports. "We will explore the Tower of Undine first."

Midori nods. "You actually get to perform two plays in this area...because your first play inspires some aspiring actors!"

Excited cheers fill the air at this. "That said, what story inspires some new actors to join the troupe?"

The group huddles again to discuss which of their play scripts to do next. "Any objections to 'The Rescue of Princess Miranda'?"

"I've been wanting to do one specific scene from that script all campaign..." Serena confesses. "Miranda's appeal to the Legendaries."

Ash nods. "Do we want to do any more scenes, or is that enough?"

"I have no problem with only one roll for that scene..." Brock assures Ash.

"Besides, that could inspire our new actors to join the theater." Serena agrees.

"Okay...if you roll a 6 or better for your one scene, you'll earn some new actors." Midori replies as the group and some puppeteers hurry to get ready.

After a few moments, the orchestra starts a tense interlude. "Days grew into weeks, and weeks grew into months, and still Princess Miranda's kingdom looked like one large bedchamber." Brock explains over the orchestra. "The people snored in the streets, the brave army lying in the fields slept soundly, hidden in the long grass under the shadow of nettle, wormwood, and thistle, rust and dust marring the brightness of their armor."

The lights come back up on the set of a royal bedroom. Extras lie sprawled in various places on the stage, "asleep". "Inside the palace everything was the same." Brock went on. "The twelve maids of honor lay motionless. Princess Miranda alone kept watch, silent amid this reign of sleep."

Just then, an Altaria puppet in one of the set's windows gets Serena's attention. Floating cloudlet soft and white,
Pilgrim of the sky, I pray you for one moment, light,
On me your pitying eye
. she sings over a sad melody, the air conditioning in the theater making her majestic golden princess dress lightly flutter all the while.

Where my love is, can you tell?
Thinks he of me ill or well?


"I know not," the Altaria puppet replies. "Ask Suicune."

Then Serena spots a majestic Suicune puppet playing among the background of wildflowers, and sings again. Mighty warrior of wind and frozen rain,
Look not lightly on my pain;
Kindly lift me from despair,
Help me freedom to regain.
Where my love is, can you tell?
Thinks he of me ill or well?


"Ask Jirachi," the Suicune puppet replies. "He knows more than I."

As the scene in the window turns to night, Serena spots a Jirachi puppet dancing among the twinkling stars. She sings again, this time to a softer tune:

Little Wish-maker, Arceus' light on high,
Look down and see;
Behold me weep and hear me sigh,
Then help and pity me.
Where my love is, can you tell?
Thinks he of me ill or well?


"You will learn more from Lugia," the Jirachi puppet replies. "He lives nearer the earth than I, and sees everything that goes on there." Serena nods, then turns her attention to the window again.

Just when a majestic Lugia puppet passes by the window, Serena sings again:

Silver Guardian, radiant Lugia,
Your watch over Jirachi pray leave,
Throw your soft glance o'er the earth ere I swoon,
Overcome by my sorrows I weep and I grieve.
I pine for my friend, oh ease my heart,
And say, am I loved?
In his thoughts have I a part?


"Princess," the Lugia puppet replies, "I know nothing of your friend. But wait a few hours, Ho'oh will have then begun her daily flight. She knows everything, and will surely be able to tell you."

The scene in the window starts to brighten, as if evoking a sunrise. Awed gasps and applause fills the auditorium as a majestic Ho'oh puppet appeared in the window over a triumphant version of Serena's song.

Soul of the World, deep fountain of life,
Eye of all-powerful Arceus,
Visit my prison, dark scene of sad strife,
Raise up my soul from the sod,
With hope that my friend whom I pine for and love
May come to my rescue.
Say, where does he rove?
Serena sings again. This time, her song has a note of hope that the beautiful golden phoenix puppet has an answer for her.

"Sweet Miranda, dry the tears that roll down your sad and lovely face." the Ho'oh puppet assures the teary eyed Serena. "Let your troubled heart be at peace, for your friend the prince is even now on his way to rescue you. He has recovered the magic ring from the world of darkness, and many armies have assembled to follow him. He is now moving towards Darkrai's palace, and intends to punish him. But all this will be of no avail, and Darkrai will gain the victory, if the prince does not make use of other means which I am now on my way to give. Farewell; be brave, he whom you love will come to your aid and save you from Darkrai and his magic; happiness is in store for you both."

The lights went down, save for Brock and the three puppeteers making the Ho'oh puppet "fly". "Ho'oh then flew over a distant land, where a prince named Leo, mounted on a beautiful Rapidash and clad in crystal armor, assembled his forces to fight against the Nightmare Pokemon." Brock explains. "Three times he had dreamed of the beautiful princess locked up in the Sleeping Palace, for the fame of her loveliness had reached him, and he loved without having seen."

Just then, the Ho'oh puppet lands on a tree before a crowd of hundreds of extras, led by Ash, who is now in a majestic red prince's outfit, riding aboard a Rapidash puppet. "The Golden Phoenix!" Ash gasps when he sees the Ho'oh puppet. "What news do you have for me, milady?"

"Leave your army where it is," the Ho'oh puppet replies. "It will not be of any use in fighting against Darkrai, he is immune against all weapons. The only way to rescue the princess is to kill him, and there is but one who can tell you how to do it, and that is the holy Delphox, wily Kitsune. I will show you how to find the Ponyta that will carry you to her. First take the road to the east, and walk on till you come to a wide plain: there, right in the middle of the plain, are three trees, and in the center of these, lying close to the ground, is an iron door with a silver handle. Behind the door is the shining Ponyta, also a sword that shines in all colors; both are necessary for the task you have to do. You will learn the rest afterwards. Farewell, and good luck."

Ash balks as the Ho'oh puppet "flies" offstage. Farewell, I am going on a journey
And leaving you all behind...
he sings to the gathered army of extras.

But in order not to forget the memories we've made,
I shall carry on with this courage in my heart!


With that, he heaves a ruby ring offstage, making the army disappear in fog and light. "And so, Prince Leo took the road to the east. After walking for eight days he reached a large plain, and all happened as Ho'oh had foretold." Brock narrates before the lights blink off to end the scene.

Cheers fill the air, drowning out the clatter of the dice as Midori rolls the in game audience's reaction to the scene...

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 31: Searching for Undine (part 2)


As the applause for the group's in universe scene dies down, Midori reveals the group's results. "The play is a smashing success--audiences rave about Christine's portrayal of Princess Miranda, and Aldaron as the hero."

She continues "As the crowd departs the open air theater, three girls approach you, smiling. The sparkle in their eyes signals that your performance inspired them."

Even Brock is surprised as three female extras wearing identical costumes to the girls in the adventure book arrives onstage. "Thank you, good sirs and good ladies, for that stunning performance." an auburn haired girl smiles. "If it's not too much trouble, we would like to join your humble troupe."

"We are honored that our play inspired you." Serena replies in character. "But before we can discuss joining us, may I know your names?"

"We are sisters three that have longed to be actresses, and see the world as we perform on the world's greatest stages." a black haired girl explains. "I am Teresa Hightower."

"I am Renee Hightower..." the auburn haired girl replies.

"...and I am Michelle Hightower..." a blonde haired girl replies.

"Pleased to meet you three." Misty smiles. "If you will wait there a moment, I will find our impresaria, so she can see your talents."

Midori smiles as she gives the group some experience for agreeing to see the sisters' abilities. "Soraya is touched that the play has inspired some of the locals, and gladly agrees to see what the sisters are capable of, and which roles they would do best at playing."

---------

After negotiating with the extras how the audition role play encounter will work, Brock explains the rules to the extras in character. "Now then...here's how the audition will work. We want to see three scenes that best showcase your abilities. It can be three scenes from the same play, or scenes from different plays. Make us laugh! Make us cry! Make us cheer! If you can impress Soraya--and the four of us--we will welcome you to the troupe, and allow you to play a role in our next play."

"Your proposed rules are fair, Sir Larkin." the auburn haired extra replies.

"If you need props or costumes, we will allow you to use some of our props and costumes." Misty adds.

"If you need a living puppet for a monster, god or Pokemon, I can conjure one for you." Ash offers.

The auburn haired girl nods. "We will need a living puppet for each of our scenes, Sir Aldaron. Can you conjure an Arceus puppet, and disguise it as a young man for our first scene?"

Ash nods--he recognizes the story the extras want to do. "The conjuration will take some time for a living puppet that is disguised. Is there specific clothing the disguise must wear? This will make the conjuration a little easier..."

---------

Once sure a projection of the living puppet is ready, the blonde haired girl narrates "When he heard how his three sisters had chosen to go with three strangers for their weight in gold, silver, and jewels, he made a vow not to sleep three nights in one house until he found his sisters. Brendan set out early the next morning, and walked on till he was tired and hungry. He sat down to eat the bread that his mother had given him, when a mysterious man came up and asked him for something to eat."

The lights came up on the auburn haired girl on the set of a fantasy roadside, "eating" a piece of prop bread. "Spare a little bread for a traveler, young man?" the disguised projection of a young man asks as it stepped into the scene.

"Please, sit down, good sir--I have more than enough to share." the auburn haired girl smiles.

"What leads you down this road?" the projection asks. "Are you seeking your fortune, or something else?"

"I'm seeking my three sisters, good sir. A few years ago, they each chose to go with three strangers in exchange for their weight in gold, silver, and jewels. I have not heard from them in all this time, and so I want to find them, and see if they are happy and well." the auburn haired girl explains.

A harp riff filled the air as the image of a young man seems to disappear in a flash of light, revealing a beautiful image of Arceus in the man place. "Fear not, young one." the living puppet assures the girl feigning shock before it. "For showing kindness to the least of these; and the purest love to your family; I want to help you."

"H-how?" the auburn haired girl stammered.

"There may not be much use in your going, but here are three things that will serve you well,—the Celestial Blade, the Cloth of Plenty, and the Cloak of Shrouds." the living puppet explained, conjuring a prop sword, a prop tablecloth, and a navy blue cloak before the girl. "No one--not even a demon--can kill you while you wield the Celestial Blade; and whenever you are hungry or thirsty, all you have to do is to spread the cloth and sing to it in the magical tongue, and any food or drink you want will be there before you. When you put on the Cloak of Shrouds, there won't be a living thing in the world that can see you, and you can go to whatever place you wish if you wrap yourself in it and wish yourself there."

"Th-thank you, milord." the auburn haired girl stammered. "I promise to use these holy gifts wisely and well."

Applause went up as the lights went down to signal a scene change. In the darkness, four twenty sided dice clatter on the table as Ash, Misty, Brock, and Serena secretly roll their characters' reaction to what they just saw...

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 32: Searching for Undine (part 3)


"All right...what are your audition results?" Midori asks the group. "You all need at least 10 to accept the sisters."

"Aldaron is highly impressed, and eagerly agrees the sisters should join the troupe!" Ash smiles, beaming proudly as the crowd roars at his natural 20.

"Meri is just as enthused--the sisters do have plenty of potential." Misty agrees, showing Midori she rolled a 17.

"Larkin is beyond impressed with the sisters--if he were in charge, he would be giving them roles in the troupe's next play immediately!" Brock smiles, showing Midori he too rolled 17.

"Christine is very pleased at what she saw." Serena explains. "These three sisters more than deserve to join the troupe."

Midori next addresses the extras. "Soraya accepts you four's assessment--the Hightower sisters are formally welcomed to the Fantasia Theater." The audience explodes with applause, and the online chat lights up with joyous and excited emojis...

---------

After a few moments to prepare for the next few encounters, Serena asks Midori "Now that the Hightower sisters are part of the troupe, can we give them a chance to act before we explore the Tower of Undine?"

"Would the audience be interested in seeing one of our scripts in full for a change?" Brock asks.

The audience roars with cheers, and excited emojis fill the online chat in reply. "If the audience and the chat want to see a script in full, I'm fine with it too." Midori smiles. "So go get into costume--you get a little extra fame for this show!"

---------

Once everything is ready, the orchestra starts a majestic overture evoking a time of high adventure. Once the exciting main theme has given way to a more subdued theme evoking magic, Brock begins narrating over the strings. "There once was a king in a far away land who was feared by all his subjects, and his court. As strange as it seemed, the king had a brave and handsome son, who was kind and helpful to everyone he happened to meet--we will call him Rowan."

Some applause goes up in approval at the name. "One day the king was very angry with three of his noblest knights, because they had scolded him for being so unjust." Brock continues. "Without even so much as a chance for them to defend themselves, he ordered them thrown into the dungeon beneath the palace, where he hoped they would remain for the rest of their lives. He commanded the jailer to only feed them bread and water, and to beat them with an iron rod every night."

Murmurs of anger fill the air, and angry emojis and GIFs fill the chat. "Prince Rowan's heart ached when he went to his room every night." Brock assures the antsy audience. "Since his room was right over the dungeon, he could hear the knights weeping and groaning as they were beaten every night."

He lets that hang as the lights come up on the set of a dungeon. After a few tense moments, Ash, in the role of Prince Rowan, arrives in the dungeon, where the three extras are wincing in feigned pain from their feigned wounds. "Prince Rowan?" the blonde haired extra gasps as Ash unlocks the door.

"Hurry away as fast as you can, noble ladies, for if the jailer finds you gone, the palace will be in an uproar." Ash whispers as he unlocks the prop shackles and delivers some props.

"May Arceus bless you, noble prince. No good deed goes unrewarded." the brown haired extra smiles as the lights go down.

Gasps go up over the orchestra's somber melody as the lights go down, then come up on the set of a throne room, where a man in royal robes looks out at a crowd of extras. "Someone here has set free the three knights without my permission..." the man intones. "If that person wishes to confess the deed, I may spare their lives."

When no one says a single thing, the man approaches the male extra playing the jailer. "Since no one dares to admit their guilt, the one who was charged with watching over them will pay the price!" he vows as he draws a huge greatsword!

"Stop!" Ash cries as he enters the scene, spurring the man to sheathe the huge sword. "Be merciful to him, father, for he is not to blame. It was I who set the knights free, and I do not regret it at all."

One extra playing a noble sees the man about to seemingly slice Ash in half, never mind the giant two handed sword is just a prop. "Your Majesty, would you be so cruel as to execute your own son?" he asks.

"You yourself said you would spare the life of the one that confessed." another extra agrees. "Prince Rowan has confessed, so see to it he receives an appropriate and yet merciful sentence."

The man doesn't know what to think as the extras' worried pleas filled the air. "All right...I will hereby strip Rowan's claim to the throne; and forbid him to return here, on pain of death."

The orchestra starts a traveling melody as Brock narrates the pantomimed action onstage. "The king gave Prince Rowan an abundance of money and clothes, as well as a fine steed, and sent him forth into the wide world to makes his fortune as best he could. Prince Rowan had some letters to the kings and queens of other lands, which he put in his pocket. He had only one companion, a lad of his own age, who was also well fitted for the journey."

He then intones over another solemn melody "The boy--who does not deserve to be named--was not trustworthy, and the king had taken the opportunity to get rid of him." He gestures to the extra in the role in a spotlight. "He looked with longing upon Prince Rowan's fine clothes, his money, and his letters to foreign rulers, and made up his mind to get them for himself."

Boos waft through the audience as they watch the extra sneak up on Ash. "So he ambushed our hero one night, stripped him of his valuables, and rode away on his fine steed, leaving his master without anything but the clothes on his back." Brock sighed as the extra and Ash pantomimed the struggle onstage.

When the lights come up on a forest set, Ash stumbles into the scene. "That rogue took everything, including my good name..." he mutters. "What do I do now?"

The lights reveal a small house at stage left. "A house! Maybe whoever lives there can help me out." Ash smiles.

He hurries to the house's front stoop and knocks. "Coming..." comes a female voice, revealing Serena at the front stoop. "Oh, a traveler! Come on inside--I can at least give you food and a bed for tonight."

"Thank you, good lady." Ash replies as the outdoor forest set gives way to the interior set of a house, where Chance and Elena, in the roles of the woman's children, wait at a table.

"Mama, why do you always let travelers in at night?" Chance asks as Serena leads Ash to the table.

"It's a long way from here to a city." Serena explains as she serves some prop food. "That, and the traveler may be down on their luck, and not have much to spend on a room in the inn."

After the group pantomimes eating the prop food for a moment, Serena asks "What is your name, good lad?"

Ash says nothing for a moment, then replies "My name is Tristan, good lady. I came from a far away country, and I have nowhere to call home."

"Then you can stay in my home, and be educated with my own children." Serena smiles.

"Aws" fill the theater as the lights go down and the orchestra starts a hopeful melody...

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 33: Searching for Undine (part 4)

Excited chatter raced down the rows as a trumpet rang through the theater from the dark stage. "Hear ye! Be it known that Prince Rowan will marry the Princess Lilly in two weeks!" a male extra playing a herald announced to a crowd of extras.

A spotlight came up on the boy playing the servant as the stage became a flurry of activity. "It doesn't get much better than this...the royal treatment, and soon I will have the most beautiful princess in the world as my bride." he sneered.

Midori just smiled at the boy's acting from backstage--she knew better than anyone that the treacherous servant would get his just desserts in due time. "Although...I do worry that the real Prince Rowan might come at any time." the boy went on. "Then my ambitions will not be realized, and I will fade into history, forgotten!"

Giggles went up from the live audience, and laughter emojis and GIFs filled the online chat as the boy's horrified look became a smile again. "But I'm not worried--so long as the real Prince Rowan is not here, preparations for my plans can continue!"

He dashed offstage with a giggle as the lights went down. After a few tense moments, the lights came up on Ash in a forest. "It's so peaceful out here..." he mused. "This is a welcome change from the royal academy's study rooms..."

The sound of a bow snapped him to attention. "An arrow...one of the royal hunters must be out here!"

Sure enough, the lights came up on a female extra firing at an offstage target. After watching the extra shoot for a moment, Ash applauded as one arrow went flying into the bullseye. "Well shot, good lady."

"Thank you, lad." the girl smiled. "You seem to be well versed in the ways of the world..."

"I've studied in the royal academy for the last few years, good sir." Ash replied. "I graduated six months ago, and am now seeking work in a noble's house, or even the royal palace."

"Would you like to be a royal page, then?" the girl offered. "His Majesty did post a notice for new pages some days ago..."

"And so, our hero was made a royal page in the palace." Brock narrated as Ash and the girl pantomimed talking for a moment. "He did his work so well, he grew to be well loved and well liked in the palace. Eventually, he was assigned to his own servant."

He went on as the lights went down "Prince Rowan had improved so much from his time with the lady, the servant did not recognize him, but Prince Rowan also knew that he was to be page to his greatest enemy."

The lights came up on the set of a palace, where Misty, now in a blue, silver, and white princess costume, looked out the window. "Lilly!" the boy called from offstage, snapping her to attention.

"What is it?" Misty called back.

She added as an aside "What does that rogue want this time?", making the live audience giggle and laughter emojis fill the online chat.

"Permission to come inside?" the boy asked from offstage. "I'd like you to meet my new page."

"Permission granted, both of you." Misty smiled.

The boy playing the servant and Ash joined Misty onstage. "This is my new page, milady." the boy playing the servant explained, prompting Ash to wave hello.

"Pleased to meet you, good sir." Misty smiled.

"The pleasure is mine, milady." Ash replied.

He smiled as the orchestra started a romantic theme. "Princess Lilly really is as kind and beautiful as she was claimed to be." he explained in an aside. "She deserves to marry someone that will treat her well."

"Such impeccable manners!" Misty smiled in her own aside. "This page...he is a far cry from his rogue of a master! I would much rather marry him instead!"

She turned to Ash again. "What's your name, good sir? Where do you hail from?"

"I came from the great forest, and my name is Tristan, milady." Ash replied over a somber melody.

"The day of the wedding of the princess and the servant drew near." Brock narrated from his nook over the orchestra. "The greatest warriors in the land were pouring into the kingdom to take part in a grand tournament, which was to last three days."

The lights came up on a set of a palace room, where Ash was pantomiming cleaning. "Tristan!" Misty called as she hurried onstage. "Tristan--it would mean the world for me if you could join the many knights, warriors, archers, and mages for the tournament."

"I would if I could, Princess, but I know nothing of battle." Ash confessed. "I am merely a humble scholar at heart, and my only knowledge of the bow is for hunting."

"Did you study magic during your time in the royal academy?" Misty asked. "You could join the magical duels or familiar battles..."

"I did learn some magic, but it was for healing purposes." Ash replied. "I doubt that they have a healer's competition in the tournament."

Giggles went up over Misty's disappointed look. "Oh well...will you at least watch the events in the royal box with me?"

"That I will do, if my duties in the hunting grounds do not take too long." Ash assured Misty as he put away the cleaning supplies and retrieved a prop bow. "If it happens that it does take me all day to hunt for tonight's feast; will you tell me about any memorable matches at dinner?"

"I'll tell you all about them!" Misty smiled over an exciting melody.

"The first day of the tournament dawned clear and bright." Brock narrated from his nook. "Prince Rowan, saddened at heart, mounted his faithful Ponyta and went to the forest to hunt. He could think of nothing but his great love for Princess Lilly, and pleaded to Arceus for a way to prove that he was the real Prince Rowan, and Princess Lilly's true suitor."

The lights came up on the forest again, where Ash trudged onstage. "How do I tell them that the one Princess Lilly will marry is a fraud, and I am her rightful suitor?" he grumbled. "I love the princess so much, and my rogue servant just treats her like a prize to be won!"

He looked up at the imagined sky. "Arceus...hear my plea..."

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


Even Midori brushed away a tear as Ash crumpled onto the stage floor in desperate feigned sobs. After a few tense moments. the brown haired extra--now in a magnificent red costume--arrived leading a beautiful Ponyta puppet. "Forgive me, sir warrior, for seeing me in this sorry state..." Ash explained. "I was pouring out my heart to Arceus...are you competing in the tournament? If you are, then you are welcome to pass this way."

"Sir Rowan..." the brown haired girl began. making Ash balk in surprise. "Put on this armor, mount this steed, and go to the tournament. Upon your return, you will find me waiting here. I will hunt in your place, and present unto you all the game I obtain."

"Right away! Thank you!" Ash smiled before hurrying offstage to change into the sparkling red costume...

To Be Continued...
 
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Session 34: Searching for Undine (part 5)

"Prince Rowan dressed himself in the red armor, leapt into the saddle, and dashed away to the proving grounds." Brock narrated over some exciting music. "When he entered, the vast throng of spectators sent up a shout of acclamation, and all were wild to know who the splendid knight was and where he lived."

Misty watched from backstage as Ash, now in the ruby armor, waved to a large crowd of cheering extras. Here we go...it took so long to figure out how to keep the tournament scenes at a reasonable length...

---------

"What are we going to do about the tournament scenes?" Serena wondered as she read over Midori's script. "We don't want to bore the audience by showing every single opponent Prince Rowan overthrew..."

"Yeah...that would also make the play run long if we decided to do it in full." Ash agreed.

"Training montage?" Brock grinned.

"Unfortunately, this is not a musical..." Serena sighed. "So a montage wouldn't really work..."

"That, and this is an RPG campaign, not a musical..." Misty noted.

"Musical or not, we'd still need a cast of hundreds or even thousands to pull it off." Ash sighed.

"We could just show Rowan and the servant facing off every time." Brock suggested. "At least that would still get the point across, and still be within the capabilities of a campaign..."


---------

"With wonderful skill he overthrew all the other warriors until only the servant remained." Brock's narration and Ash skillfully knocking down training dummies snapped Misty to reality.

Finally, Ash and the boy playing the false prince met on the stage. After a few moments, the boy bowed before Ash. "I withdraw and concede the match!"

Cheers filled the stage and the audience as Ash waved to the imagined crowd, then departed at stage right. "Who was that red knight?" a male extra asked.

"Never before have I seen such skill and grace, nor such beauty of form and elegance in anyone." a female extra agreed as she applauded.

The orchestra started a victorious theme. "Everyone tried to find out where the Ruby Knight had gone, but Prince Rowan had returned to the forest where he met the knight, and returned his armor and steed." Brock went on from his nook. "He thanked him for his kindness and, taking the game that the knight had shot for him, he hurried back to the palace kitchen."

The lights came up on a crowd of extras as kitchen servants talking excitedly. "What a day!" a male extra smiled as he pantomimed washing dishes.

"I know--that ruby knight is all anyone can talk about!" a female extra agreed. "I wonder who he trained under to get that good at swordplay?"

"Maybe he trained under an eastern master?" another male extra suggested. "They're famous for their swordplay, including moves no one in the realm has ever seen before!"

About then, Ash arrived on the stage. "There you are!" the female extra began. "You picked a bad time to miss the tournament!"

"Oh? What did I miss that was so exciting?" Ash asked, to knowing giggles from the audience and laughter GIFs from the online chat.

"You missed a mysterious ruby knight in the swordsman's competition!" the male extra explained. "No one could stand against him--he defeated every last one!"

An extra playing a page arrived on the stage minutes later. "Forgive me for interrupting your conversation, Tristan, but Princess Lilly has requested your presence in the rose garden."

"Tell Her Ladyship I will be there momentarily." Ash replied as the lights went down.

The orchestra started a peaceful interlude before the lights came up on the majestic set of the rose garden. "There you are..." Misty began as she and Ash met on the stage. "Where have you been all day?"

"I was only out hunting game, and nothing more." Ash replied.

"You would rather hunt for game than glory." Misty sighed. "A knight in red on a fine steed has covered himself with renown. No one but you could have overcome the splendid warrior."

"Is that so?" Ash smiled. "No matter...all will be well if I continue my humble duty in hunting game for the king."

"What good will THAT do?" Misty gasped as Ash exited. "You can go out hunting at any old time!"

"Why is he being so callous to the princess?" a stagehand asked as the lights went down.

"Be patient--I'm sure there is a method to the real Prince Rowan's madness." Midori smiled as the orchestra started another interlude...

---------

"The next morning, Prince Rowan mounted his Ponyta and went out to hunt." Brock narrated as the lights came up on the forest set from before. "At the same bend in the road he met another knight dressed from the plumes of his helmet to the soles of his feet in blue, and riding a fine Ponyta."

Onstage, Ash met the auburn haired extra, now clad in blue, aboard a Ponyta puppet. "Good day, sir knight--are you going to the tournament today?" Ash asked, giving the auburn haired girl a respectful bow.

"Sir Rowan, don this armor, mount this steed, and go to the tournament." the auburn haired girl instructed Ash. "Upon your return you will find me waiting here. I will hunt in your stead, and present unto you all the game I obtain."

"Right away!" Ash replied, hurrying off to change as the lights went down...

To Be Continued...
 
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