Book one in the Legends and Myths Chronicles by Mystic Vaporeon
The pull of the city was great. It was a charming, quaint little town on the outskirts of the massive metropolis that was Celadon City. It seemed afraid of its older brother, but it survived well enough on its own. The citizens lived austerely, rarely venturing outside of the city except for the occasional trainer who needed the Pokemon center in Celadon. The town wasn't even large enough for a Pokemon center to call its own. The only claim to fame it actually had was an odd little shop in the very back of town, the farthest anyone could get from the more advanced world. Along with the strange old statue in the center, these were the only two things significant about Periwinkle Village.
The shop itself was tiny, crammed to the breaking point with unique antiquities from just about anywhere in the world you could imagine. It was run by a sprightly old oriental man with a flowing white beard and two small fringes of hair running from his upper lip. Quite an odd character, he was shunned by most everyone in the village as an outcast. The owner did not care, he absorbed himself in his shop, loving each item as if it were his own child. He lost himself in that shop, one would think he didn't belong in the mortal world. He lived in some fantasy world, where nothing was tangible and everything was of suspicion. The call of the fantasy world was great for some, those who were different from others, those who had a destiny to fulfill, those who were part of the legend. Only the old soul knew the legend, only he had the key to unlocking it, he just needed the players for his game. His life had been absorbed in finding these pawns, but if he was destined to find them, the shop was his key.
Chapter 1: A prelude to destiny
Ash Ketchum stared blankly at the shredded map before him, bits of it floating lazily away in the breeze. Misty stood next to it, her arms folded across her chest triumphantly. "I bet you're pretty proud of yourself aren't you?" Ash hissed picking up the remains of the map. "Yep!" Misty replied bluntly. Brock sat down on a nearby rock and pulled out a book he had been reading. Pikachu more than willingly joined him. "Misty, I'm going to stay calm, butWhy on earth did you do that?!" Ash screamed. Misty looked indignant for only a moment before retaliating. "Because it wasn't doing us any good and I saw no point in having it," she answered spitefully. Ash forgot the pieces of map and pointed his finger accusingly at Misty. "Now for once it isn't my fault we're lost!" he said pedantically.
The fight was white noise in Brock's ears, he knew they weren't lost, there was a town not far from there that they could spend the night in. He'd once stayed there with his mother on a vacation before she passed away. He folded the page of his book back down and jabbed it quickly back into his pack. "I hate to break you two up but there's a small little town just about a mile from here we can stay at," he said practically. Ash and Misty both stared at him from their battle positions, each leaning forward to further project their own opinion at the other. "Really? What city? I didn't see one on the map," Misty said walking over to sit down next to her friend.
Brock ran a hand through his hair nervously. "Well, it's not on the map, it's really too small to be even considered a city. It's called Periwinkle Village, I've been there once before. They can offer us some food and a place to stay for the night," he offered hopefully.
Ash cocked his head to one side thoughtfully. "Well if they have at least an inn they can offer Princess Misty a place of reverence. By their Growlithe of course," he said. Misty understood the rather rude joke. "Oh, so now I'm the dog princess am I?" she replied raising one eyebrow. Pikachu then decided to take matters into his own hands, giving all present a swift electric shock. Ash, Misty, and Brock all had a good shriek before falling to the ground a lovely shade of brown.
"ThanksPikachu," Ash groaned. The electric rodent grinned with relish and hopped upon its master. "Pika! Pika Pikachu!" he protested. "He's right, we'd better get going," Misty said brushing the soot from her clothes. Ash and Brock followed as she began down the beaten dirt path.
They traveled all the rest of the day. Ash walked out in front, he sensed something in the air, and something was very different, if not wrong. Though Misty and Brock were oblivious to it, Ash knew where he was going. He felt the pull of the village and he let it guide him. He was not surprised that at dusk, they arrived on the outskirts of what looked like a village. Ash didn't even stop before proceeding into the very center of the town.
There he saw it, the statue was there. It marked the very center of all the mass of Periwinkle, all roads led away from it or to it, depending on how you looked at it. It was often a joke amongst the schoolchildren. If you thought the roads led away, you were a dreamer, and were destined to leave, if you thought they all lead to it, you'd be just like everyone else. Needless to say most everyone chose to say they led away for fear of being called boring, but everyone knew in their hearts that the roads all lead to the statue.
The figure itself was of five humans, or at least what looked like humans. One had a pair of great wings and a long flowing tail of feathers, the other, who had its arm wrapped around the waist of the bird figure, had a long whip-like tail, and angry looking talons where fingers should have been. These two stood in the back, in the foreground, a strong bulky, rock-like man stood, and in the very front, a mermaid figure, with a fish tail extending out from its spine and fins adorning its head. The representation that caught Ash's eye particularly was the one with flames. It seemed the leader of this pack of beautiful creatures, its crest ablaze with intense flames, and an inferno running the lengths of its arms and legs. The statue was a masterful piece of art.
"It'sSo beautiful," Misty breathed standing closer to Ash. He nodded in agreement and reached to his shoulder to absent-mindedly pet Pikachu. "Pika!" he yelled in boredom. Ash was finally freed from the trance and laughed. "Alright I get the picture, we'll go find a place to stay," he said closing his eyes happily. "Excuse me," Ash whirled around in surprise to see a kindly looking young woman standing behind him.
He sighed in relief and greeted her kindly. "May I help you miss? By the way my name is Brock and I agh!" Brock didn't get very far with that conversation before Misty had dragged him away. "I'm sorry, I just thought I heard you say you needed a place to stay tonight," the woman answered sheepishly. "We do, is there a hotel or an inn you could recommend to us?" Misty asked. The woman shook her head. "There isn't any inn or hotel here, I was wondering if you'd like to stay with my Grandmother and I tonight," she said quietly. "Is that the only place to stay?" Ash asked warily. The youth nodded somberly.
Ash shrugged and looked to his friends. "I guess, it's probably a long walk to Celadon City, and its nearly night," Misty answered noticing the odd quietness of the town square. She had imagined it would be the busiest place of the town, full of people and stores and in general, life. Instead, it was a lonely place, the stone of the buildings echoed every sound, and a nonchalant breeze rustled piles of dead leaves making the scene quite eerie indeed. Misty wrapped her arms around her bare shoulders, the slight anxiety and the breeze making a chill run up and down her spine. "Let's go Ash," she encouraged. Seeing it was his only option, Ash nodded an affirmative and accepted the woman's invitation.
She smiled vaguely and motioned for them to follow. "Our home is this way, please follow me," she said. The trio followed her through the narrow winding streets of Periwinkle Village, walking by many tiny, seemingly lifeless homes. If Ash hadn't known better, he would've sworn no one at all lived there. "So, what's your name?" Brock asked to break the silence. "Who me? Oh, my name is Jeana, pleased to meet you," she answered not bothering to look back at Brock. "I'm Brock, this is Ash and Misty, we're pleased to meet you as well, thank you very much for letting us stay with you," he said. "There are a few other travelers staying tonight, you won't mind I hope?" Jeana asked. Brock shook his head vigorously.
Suddenly, Ash noticed something out of the corner of his eye and stopped. It was a tiny shop, tucked in the corner of a block of other buildings. He pressed his nose against the glass and blew hard clouding it. Inside was a collection of carved crystal dragons, each a different color. Next to it was a set of silver rings, all entwined with one another in a bizarre pattern. He looked up, the ceiling was decorated with brightly colored strips silk and creased paper lanterns, all obviously hand painted with Pokemon and delicate floral designs. Ash was totally oblivious to Misty and Brock staring with him. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, already picking up a hint of incense from inside. "We've got to see this tomorrow," Ash whispered. "No! Don't go anywhere near this shop or the old man who runs it!" Ash jumped, startled by Jeana's sharp words. "What? Why?" he asked. Jeana sighed. "That old man is crazy, he believes all the legends are true. Terrible stories, terrible legend. JustTrust me on this will you?" she explained.
Ash was disturbed to some extent by the response, but nodded in agreement. Jeana nodded back and led them a few blocks away to a tiny cottage. She opened the door and ushered her guests in graciously. Ash, Misty, and Brock all gasped in unison when they stepped inside the cottage, for who should they see eating soup at the small wooden table but none other than the Rocket trio. "It's you!" Jessie choked. "Oh it's Team Rocket! What're you guys doing here?" Ash asked exasperated. "Well, we were just looking for a place to stay. But not here, it's been infested with rats," James said sounding rather intelligent for a change. "You know these people?" Jeana asked worriedly. "Of course! They only try to steal Pikachu every single time we ever see them!" Ash mused. Jessie sighed. "Can't we please just stay away from each other and spend one night in the same house? All we want is a place to stay for the night," she said rather angrily.
It was then Ash noticed that they didn't have their uniforms on, and they looked odd without the blazing red R' across the chest. Meowth must have noticed the staring because he stepped forward somberly. "We got booted out," he whispered sadly. Jessie and James burst into tears and embraced one another, falling comically to the floor. "What? You mean you got-" "Fired!" Jessie and James wailed in unison. Ash was not sure, but after some more thought he deducted that none of the trio was smart enough to pull a stunt like this off. "You guys can stay, and we'll stay too," he said after the weeping had somewhat quelled. "Really?" "You mean it?" Jessie and James asked. Ash nodded and they resumed eating.
Jeana breathed a sigh of relief. "Grandma! We have some more travelers!" she called through cupped hands. "Oh by a Persians whiskers! I'll have some more soup ready in a moment Jeana dear," the old voice answered from the kitchen. Jeana smiled warmly and turned to her guests. "Come with me, I'll show you to your rooms," she said.
She led Ash and his companions to the back of the modest home where there were three doors. "I'm sorry, two of you will have to share," Jeana said quietly. Ash had a moment of terror before Brock grabbed his arm and dragged him into the far right room. "Ash and I'll share, Misty you can have your own," he said. Ash breathed a heavy sigh of relief as Brock closed the door behind him. "Thanks Brock," he said quietly. "No prob," he answered.
Ash set his backpack down on the bed and Pikachu promptly deemed himself the bed tester, leaping dramatically onto the pillow. "Pika Pika!" he cried joyously. "How is it Pikachu?" Ash asked laughing. Pikachu gave a small victory sign to ensure that it was of high quality. Ash smiled and turned around as a knock sounded at the door. "The dinner is ready if you're hungry," Jeana said. Ash noticed an air of sadness that always seemed to follow her voice. "Coming!" he called and removed his hat before scooping Pikachu up and dashing out the door.
Misty was already at the table shoveling large spoonfuls of the creamy liquid into her mouth when Ash and Brock arrived. Jessie, James, and Meowth had long since finished and were talking somberly by the fire. They all looked quite concerned as James took a single bill out of his pocket. Ash felt sorry for them, he knew that was most likely the last of their money.
He set Pikachu down on the wooden table before a small saucer filled just for his usage. "Ash? Come on sit down and eat with us, Jeana's Grandmother is a great cook!" Misty managed to say between spoons. "Thank you dear," Ash turned his attention away from the trio at the fire and saw for the first time, the ancient woman.
She had a pleasant demeanor with long gray hair tied firmly back behind her head in a bun. Her eyes smiled at him as he took the first taste of her special soup. Ash was instantly addicted, it was one of the most wonderful tasting things he'd ever eaten. "This is wonderful! What is it anyway?" he asked. The old woman winked and raised one finger jokingly into the air. "That's my secret lad! By the way, feel free to call me May," she answered cheerfully.
Ash jumped as Jessie suddenly flew from her position at the fire and stomped angrily off to the room she and James would share. James sighed and leaned forward, cupping his forehead in his hands. Ash's spirits grew sullen, Team Rocket was falling on some hard times for sure. He looked away from the depressed youth sitting at the hearth and turned to his friends.
It had now grown quite late and, having eaten, Pikachu was curled up asleep in Misty's lap. "Ash, he's making me sleepy, get him off," she moaned groggily. Ash smiled and got up from his seat. He sauntered over to the red-head and laid his hand on her shoulder. "What'll you give me to take him?" he asked grinning smugly. "I won't dump him on the floor how about that?" Misty replied. Ash shrugged and took the sleeping Pokemon from her lap. He blinked sleepily, but closed his eyes again as he saw it was Ash that held him. "Come on Pikachu, it's been a long day and I think we need a good sleep about now," he said motioning for Brock to come along.
James and Meowth had since gone to their room to try to cheer Jessie up, the fire had dwindled, and May was beginning to shut things up for the night. Ash hugged Pikachu close and retreated back to the bedroom, Brock close at his heels. Misty followed after generously helping clear the soup dishes from the table explaining that it was the least she could do.
Ash paused for a moment at the door of the other group. "James, we're broke and that's all there is to it! There's no even getting out of this now!" he heard Jessie wail. "I know we're broke but we have to eat somehow, I had to spend that money!" James replied. "But, but we could've at least found something a little cheaper couldn't we?" "Jessie, I don't think we can get any cheaper than this," James replied. There was a long silence and just as Ash turned to go, he heard one last fearful phrase. "I'm scared James," Jessie said the tears apparent in her voice. "Me too," he answered.
Ash closed his eyes sadly and stepped into his room. "Hey Ash! What's wrong?" Brock asked from his bed. "Oh just Jessie and James," he replied. "Why are you upset over those two?" Brock asked cynically. Ash shrugged. "Nothing, I guess I'm just tired," he said and set Pikachu down on the pillow. He yawned, stretched, and curled into a more comfortable ball. Ash smiled and ran his hand down the silky golden fur climbing gently onto the bed with him.
He surveyed the room around him, there was a small nightstand between the two beds and a bookcase lining one side of the room. Apart from the single dilapidated chair in the corner, this was the only furniture. Not even a picture brightened the dingy yellowish earthen walls. Ash was able to reach the bookcase by leaning over the bed and he scanned over the books with his fingers.
They were all old, their spines peeling away from the pages and the leather covers shredding in all corners, but one very tiny book at the very bottom caught his eye. It was bound in what must have once been a brilliant green leather. He turned it over and there was no title or author, just a symbol. It was a delicate weaving of intricate lines, a veritable spider web with gems woven into it. They would've once been colored, but in spite of the age, they'd faded to a dull tarnished color. Ash, intrigued by this piece of history, opened the cover to find a map on the first page.
It was of a beautiful world, mountains framing a lush valley with other areas of plains stretching out from it. Areas of dark woodlands and a high peak adorned the very northernmost portion. "You know Brock, I know Jeana told us not to but I'm going to that store tomorrow," he said absentmindedly turning the page. "It was so weird in there, how can we resist?" Brock said jokingly. Ash laughed in response and focused on the story unfolding in the old script.
The world of chaos shall in turn be healed by the great powers of good who shall rise against the corrupt oppressor and free the good people of this world again. The world shall hold its breath in waiting for the fateful day when the heroes return to rule over all with a benevolent hand.
Ash sighed at the beautiful words in the book and closed it. He replaced it on the shell and clicked the light out. "Night Brock," he breathed. "Mmm hmm," the already half-asleep youth replied. Ash petted Pikachu one last time before slipping under the blankets. "Chaaa!" he yawned disturbed slightly. Ash quieted him and he nearly immediately fell back asleep. Ash himself yawned and closed his eyes, he rolled over onto his side and fell asleep quickly.
The next morning Ash awoke early, too early in his mind. He closed his eyes in an attempt to go back to sleep, but as no sleep came, he groggily and carefully slipped out of bed. He pulled on his shoes and hat and, leaving his backpack but taking some money, opened the door slowly and exited the room. He crept to the front of the cottage and stealthily slunk out the front door.
Once out in the street in the brisk morning, Ash lost his cautious air and began strolling happily down towards the curious little shop. He took in all the sights around him, the pleasant early morning light just breaking over the lush green hills, the simplicity of the entire town, it was strangely calming. Before he even knew how far he had walked, Ash found himself in front of the shop.
He turned on his heel and jogged to the front door, but was dismayed at the hand-painted closed' sign. He banged one fist gently against the glass and continued of his way. "Wait young man, please come back," the words were spoken with a heavy Japanese accent and Ash turned around to see a small old man hop out of the door to the shop. Ash smiled and turned back and the lively old man welcomed him inside.
He was greeted by the sweet smell of jasmine incense and the wonderful colors of the beautiful array of everything that the old man held dear. "Ah, I see you have great taste," the old man mused behind Ash. "I love everything about this place, my name is Ash," he said extending his hand to the old man. "Most people just call me that old man' but you dear boy may call me Mr. Lao," he said clasping and shaking a bewildered Ash's hand.
He absent-mindedly picked up a crystal dragon, running his fingers along the intricately carved scales and wings. "Is it true what Jeana said? Do you even know her?" Ash asked. Mr. Lao sighed. "Jeana had a rough childhood, she do not know me. Her mother, she die when Jeana was about, twelve I think, she was frequent visitor here. She loved the legends and the myths I used to tell her. I think Jeana blame me," he explained.
Ash replaced the dragon and shuffled to the counter where a set of rings lay on blue silk. There were seven of them, all with delicately coiled silver bands. Each had a different colored stone in it, one yellow, purple, blue, gray, clear, red, and one was a milky white stone that was solid, not clear as the others were. "I read something about a legend last night," Ash mused. "What legend?" Ash whirled around to see Misty and Brock standing in the doorway.
He laughed as Pikachu ran up and leapt into his arms. "Pika pi!" he shouted happily. "Hey Pikachu! Like those rings?" Ash asked letting Pikachu down on the glass case. "Piiiiii," he breathed staring at them. "Good morning! Welcome! I am Mr. Lao!" he called to Misty and Brock. They amused themselves by looking at various objects in the store, they didn't even notice Jessie, James, and Meowth walk solemnly past the shop.
James stopped in front of the door and peered in. He saw everything that was on display and was utterly transfixed. Though he had literally no money, he pushed open the glass door causing the small bell to jingle. "James? What on earth are you doing?" Jessie called scampering into the shop after him. "I'm just looking," he replied. "But James we have toThis is gorgeous!" she exclaimed.
Ash swallowed hard, after all it was only the night before he had heard their conversation. "What is dis place?" Meowth asked. "It's just my shop, welcome! I am Mr. Lao!" Ash groaned at the third time he'd heard that, and the extremely heavy Japanese accent was beginning to get to him. He had a deep rich voice, though, that resounded warmly throughout the store. He couldn't imagine why Jeana blamed such a kind man for her mother's death. "James," he said shaking Mr. Lao's outstretched hand. "You know the legend maybe?" he asked. James shook his head. "Only Ash know the legend? Then sit down all and Mr. Lao will tell!" he said moving to the front of the store. He swiftly clicked the blinds shut and Ash took that as a signal to sit down. Misty, Brock, Jessie, James, and even Meowth sat in a semicircle around Mr. Lao who sat on a red velvet footstool. Pikachu leapt deftly into Ash's lap from the counter.
Mr. Lao reached to a small wooden box on a glass shelf behind the cash register and pulled out an overly long pipe. It was carved like a traditional dragon, its mouth opened wide for the tobacco to be smoked. Mr. Lao emptied the last of the contents of a deep blue bag into it and stuck a match. He lifted the pipe to his mouth and lit the contents ablaze. He exhaled in serenity, blue smoke curling lazily around his head, and began his story.
"Many year ago, it was an old legend that there was another world besides this one, it was known as Aradain and only by that name, for it had no countries, or states, only the occasional city. The people were peaceful, but without a ruler there are bound to be some disagreements. For the people of Aradain saw no need for the peace to be disturbed by such thing as a ruler. A strange woman came to them claiming that she had been sent by the gods. The people, being very religious, believed her, for she possessed the power of nature. She could manipulate it as she pleased, so naturally she was revered as a god herself. But it was not to last, her powers were of a kind that had been born with, for some did posses magic. The people grew angry, but her magic was too strong, and the rebellion was quickly crushed. They rose again, but this time more secretly by a great sorcerer who's name has been forgotten in the winds of time. He created the seven powers of peace. It is quite unknown what exactly these are, but these powers, perhaps magic spells or magical objects, who knows now? The legend is so old, the details have been washed away with the retelling. The powers were able to stop the evil queen, but the legend has it that she rose again, after the noble sorcerer had passed on and the seven powers forgotten and declared a civil war to all those who disagreed with her dictatorship. Needless to say, some fearing for their very lives joined without question, but the noble others resisted and continued with the old way of life and the world erupted into civil war which it supposedly remains in today. Waiting for the seven powers to be awakened and come to their aide once again," the young trainers listened to the tale without a word speechless at its seemingly sacredness. Ash closed his eyes, he could hear the battles, see the evil queen, the seven powers and even imagine himself fighting in an epic battle.
Misty stood up and brushed the back of her jeans off. "Thank you ever so much for the story Mr. Lao and I hate to go without buying anything, but it's getting late and if we hope to make it to the next town tonight we need to get a move on," she said hauling Ash and Brock up. Jessie and James also silently stood, it was obvious, at least to Ash, that they'd been touched by the tale as well. "Wait! I have a gift for each of you before you go!" Mr. Lao exclaimed flinging open the glass display case.
Ash's breath caught in his chest as he took out the rings. "Each of you may chose one to keep," he explained happily. "Oh no, I couldn't," Ash began. "I insist! Please, I have plenty of other good thing to sell, I can spare these," with the confirmation from Mr. Lao, Ash scrutinized the rings. He wanted the best one there. Misty gasped, dove forward and plucked the blue ring from the case. "I love blue! It reminds me of the water," she said dreamily. "Excellent choice young lady," Mr. Lao said, a devious grin creeping onto his face. Brock silently selected the gray ring as Ash was still deciding. "Hurry up Ash," Misty whined sliding her ring on her index finger.
Ash scowled at her and ran his fingers over the cold stones. They came to rest on the brilliant red one and he picked it up. It flashed brightly in his eyes and he smiled. "I like this one," he said. Mr. Lao nodded approvingly and handed the yellow ring to Pikachu. "Pi?" he asked quizzically. "I wouldn't forget the young Pokemon of course!" he answered. Pikachu smiled and graciously took the glittering charm.
James was hesitant, but Jessie stepped forward and immediately selected the deep purple item. "It has a certain beauty to it," she mused and allowed James to step up. There were only two left, the creamy white one and the clear. He didn't like the color of the other so he lifted the clear piece of jewelry and slid it on his finger. Mr. Lao handed the last ring in the box to Meowth and closed it. If Ash had been looking he would've seen the same symbol etched in the top as had been on the front of the book.
"Goodbye my friends, and do take care!" Mr. Lao called after them. They all waved a farewell and the old man watched them silently. "Lets hope I'm right on this one," he whispered and began laughing insanely. Ash thought he heard something but he shrugged it off and proceeded instinctively to the Town Square.
Once there, he stopped to take one last look at the strange statue. "I wonder what this is and who carved it and even how old it is," he whispered. Misty shrugged and put her hand on his shoulder. "I don't know, but we'd better go," she said. Jessie and James stood behind them looking at the statue. "I didn't see this coming in did you?" James asked. Jessie shook her head and brushed a strand of loose hair behind her ear. As she did so, she noticed a bright glow coming from the corner of her vision. "JJames?" she whispered fearfully as she lowered her hand, where the purple stone in her ring was glowing brightly.
He gasped in surprise and looked at his own ring. It too was shimmering. The glowing became so intense that Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu couldn't help but look and they turned around to form a haphazard circle. The rings shot forth a mighty stream of light colliding in the middle with a cataclysmic flash. The last thing Ash could recall hearing was everyone present screaming in terror and the image of the statue sinking into the ground to form some sort of portal and slipping through.
Mr. Lao heard the event from his shop and smiled. "Now my pawns, get ready to play the game," he said quietly.