The next set of chapters will be the clinchers, as the plot finally unravels. I hope that you enjoy this one and the ones to come.
Being relative loners, Popo and Nana were not particularly comfortable around big groups. Much of that had changed after they joined the Smashers, but every so often they became horribly embarrassed around large audiences, say, some Smash Brother fans dogging them for autographs. This was no different as they walked into the main square of Aurora Canyon and were swept up in the crowd of Weather Casters that had come to see them. From young to old they flocked, each with their own questions and comments about the two latest additions to their grand little village.
"So you're Popo and Nana Aisu Kuraimā?" asked a woman around her mid-forties, who seemed to the leader of the large group, "It's an honor to meet you." she replied
"Hi." replied Nana
"But I must ask, were are you parents?" she asked, "Or at least you father?" she included, "As a fellow caster I would think for sure he would be here to take part in this ceremony
Nana and Popo turned downcast, her eyes now glued to the fertile ground at their feet. But before Popo and Nana could wallow in the fact that their parents were not present, Tealeaf intervened.
"The parents of Popo and Nana are currently out of the region with important business. They regret they could not come for this momentous event, but what they are doing takes precedent."
"Over the activation of the Aurorae Polaris?" the woman asked, "What could possible be that much more important?"
"It is not a matter to be discussed but know that it is indeed crucially important."
"Very well." the woman replied, though she still looked rather flabbergasted, "First let us go over the formalities while the Aurorae Polaris is set for the ceremony." she replied, "The chief will probably want to speak with you as soon as possible, but still, take you time, we are in no rush." she said, before turning her attention to the gather crowd, "Come, come now. There will be plenty of time to speak with the Kuraimās later. Please, move on and prepare yourself for the ceremony." the woman told them
Moans and groans came from the gather group, but it seemed that the woman's words were law for after a few seconds the crowd dispersed, leaving only a few stragglers wandering about.
"Now then, I should be going as well, I need to prepare anyway." the woman replied, "When you are ready you should meet the chief." she replied, before she herself took leave
"Thank you." Tealeaf replied to her retreating form, before turning to Popo and Nana, "I think I will have a word with the chief. Why don't you two have a little fun while I'm away?" she suggested, "You can talk with some of the other Weather Casters your age."
"Sure." they mumbled, though they didn't sound as eager as Tealeaf had hoped
Tealeaf knew that the mentioning of their parents would get them down, though she had a plan to counter such an occurrence. For instance, she knew that Nana loved flowers. This was a joy the young child discovered by seeing the small variety in Hiehie Village.
"Nana, why aren't those Bermuda Buttercups and Scarlet Pimpernel?" Tealeaf asked, pointing over to a large field
The field was filled with a rainbow of different colored flowers with breeds far and beyond anything within the Nesh region. Many of the flowers had been brought from outside the Nesh region and planted in Aurora Canyon, the only place warm enough for the flowers to grow. The young climber looked off in the direction her grandmother was point and her expression did a complete 180.
"Wow! There' Spanish Oysters and even Calla Lilies!" she replied, "Those aren't even suppose to be able to grow in the same area!" she said, rushing over to examine the strange cross of breeds
Nana sprinted over to the field, leaving her brother and grandmother behind as her mind raced with the possibility of documenting rare breeds of flowers that she may not have known about. Luckily she had brought her field journal just for that instance.
"Grandmamma?" Popo called after Nana was far off, "What exactly is gonna happen?" he asked
"Well, to put it plainly, you will lead the ceremony with the 'key'." she replied
"What is this key?" he asked
"I see, I haven't told you that. In order for the Aurorae Polaris to be activated you need the use of a special key. It is called the Spear of Meteorol." she replied
"Wait...? I've heard of that." he replied, "Isn't it suppose to be some super special weapon?" he asked, "Pop told me about it once." he replied
"Well I guess he didn't explain it that well for it is more than just a weapon." she replied, "It is a focusing device, used in a variety of ways in manipulating Weather Casting abilities." she replied, "But a full explanation will have to wait." she told him, "Why don't you run off?"
Popo mumbled something unintelligible under his breath, though by way of his body language Tealeaf could tell he was still a little down in the dumps. However Tealeaf also knew a lot about Popo, especially how he liked to show off sometimes.
"Hey, Granny Angakkun!" called a voice
"Hmm?" she murmured, turning to the voice and spotting a boy running toward her, "Oh, it's you Mesolow." she replied
"How you doing Granny Angakkun?" he asked as came up to Popo and Tealeaf, "I just heard that the heirs were here but I couldn't come out cause my mom made me finish doing my chores." he replied
"I'm fine, but must you add 'Granny' to the title?" she asked, "I don't care much for 'Angakkun' and 'Granny' makes me feel old."
"But you are old." the boy replied
Tealeaf sighed at the remark, wondering why the boy's parent's hadn't taught him to have a little more respect for his elders, but let it pass, knowing that this boy would be great for lifting Popo's spirits.
"I would like you to met my grandson Popo." she replied, "He's quite the little climber, and one of the most powerful Weather Casters around." she said
"Most powerful?" the boy asked, raising an eyebrow
Tealeaf smirked. While she had only known Mesolow for a short while, being that she only visited Aurora Canyon sparsely, she knew that he was a very competitive person and was prone to taking interest in those that could potentially rival him.
"This is a secret, but he is also part of a group of fighters with incredible strength." she replied, "Only the finest of warriors are allowed to enter."
"Him?" Mesolow questioned, "But I'm older!" he exclaimed
"Age doesn't always determine ones strength." she replied, "Popo is much more powerful than he appears."
"Really?" Mesolow murmured, "Still though, he can't be that strong if he's wound up like that." he replied, referring to Popo's injuries
Popo groaned, yet he did not defend himself against the comment. Tealeaf wondered why he was so unwilling to divulge anything about how he obtained these injuries. Even when she asked him about them on the ride to the canyon, all he would tell her was that he had gotten into a scuffle with a strange girl and had accidentally been thrown off a cliff. While his explanation had dispelled the rumors about him being utterly defeated in battle by some rouge figure, Tealeaf could see that there was more to his story than he was letting on. However, she did not probe, believing that Popo would tell her the entire story in due time.
"Injured or not, I still think you would be hard-pressed trying to defeat him in battle." she said
"He can't be that good."
"Just have a friendly battle with him." she replied, "Popo might show you a thing or two."
"Really, well I'd like to see that in action." the boy replied, "Hey, you want to have a quick match?" he asked
"Well...I guess..." mumbled Popo
"Go on ahead Popo." she replied, "I mean, unless you don't think you're up to it." Tealeaf question, "But, your grandmamma knows you have it in you." she replied
She could see the smile on his face forming and knew that Popo was brightening to the idea. All she needed to do was sweeten the deal.
"Oh, well why don't you two have that match while I talk to the chief." she replied, and to sweeten the deal, "If you win I'll cook you my famous vegetable soup." she replied
"Really!?" he asked, the excitement lingering in his voice
"Absolutely." she replied
"Alright then, let's go." Popo replied, turning to Mesolow
"You two have fun now, but don't go and hurt yourselves." she replied, taking her leave
"You ready?" Mesolow asked, stepping a few feet back from Popo
"Yep." replied Popo
"You better not disappoint me kid."
"Can you still see them Falco?" asked Zelda
"Yeah, clear as a bell." he replied
"Oh, what I would give to have your eyes right now." she replied
"This is probably an obvious question but, I wonder what they're up to, and with all those trucks?" Falco asked
"They seem like they are going to war." replied Marth, "Their formation is similar to those on horseback." he replied
"If I may, it seems they are heading toward Aurora Canyon." replied the driver, easily recognizing the path they were taking
"They couldn't possibly be thinking of attacking...could they?" Zelda wondered
"I cannot say for sure, but if they are it would be a foolish venture. Aurora Canyon is home to nearly every Weather Caster in the region and there are quite a lot of them."
"Maybe, but then again, there is that girl." replied Marth, "No matter how powerful they may be these bandits would not have considered attacking now if they didn't believe they could win."
"This isn't good." Zelda said distressed, "We need to find a way to slow them down, or at least warn the Weather Casters of their arrival." she replied
"It would not be a very good idea to engage them in battle at the moment. They outnumber us as well as having that strange girl with them and until we can ascertain her exact abilities we cannot be sure we can defeat her." replied Marth
"There is a quicker way to the canyon." the driver replied, "But it is also more treacherous." he told them
"Treacherous...as in life threatening?" Falco asked
"Sounds needlessly dangerous, but fun." he replied
To that the driver gave Falco an odd look.
"What our blue friend is trying to say is that no matter how treacherous it may be we are willing to venture forth." Marth replied
"Okay then, hang on." he replied, relaying a message to the other WSV before putting his foot to the pedal
The large snow mobile shot off with a sudden boost of speed that even surprised the Smashers as they could do little more than held tight.
"Waahoo!" Ness cheered as they took off
Two incredible forces of wind collided with considerable force, causing a backlash on both sides before the weather attacks dissipated into nothing. Putting his right foot forward Popo took the powerful gust of wind that came his way while his opponent stood against the blast in a much more relaxed manner.
"Not bad kid, but don't tell me that was too much for you?" Domenico asked, "If you want, we can quit. Don't want to aggravate that arm."
"Nope." replied Popo, his mallet resting lazily across his shoulder
"Well then, come with it."
"If you want me to." replied Popo, dashing toward Domenico moments later
Mesolow had to admit that Popo was quite fast, though it wasn't anything that Mesolow couldn't counter as he sidestepped a hammer swing aimed at his side. But Popo was not about to let his opponent get away and stepped into his miss, allowing him to follow up with another swing toward Mesolow's legs. The boy hopped over Popo's attack, throwing his hand forward and releasing a ball of ice toward Popo. Popo smashed the ice ball with his mallet, letting the ice shower over him, but another ice ball coming in at an odd angle caught him off guard, forcing him to back away to avoid being hit. It was Domenico's turn to be on the offensive as he backed Popo away, alternating between ice balls and other weather-based attacks.
"Brubu!" Mesolow barked, unleashing a low-to-the-ground weather attack
Popo jumped up to avoid the blow, but did not realize that this was all part of Mesolow's plan. It was not until Popo saw ice flowing about Mesolow's hands did he realize that he had fallen into the older boy's trap.
"Squamish!" Mesolow yelled, firing a wave of ice toward Popo
Putting his mallet up to block Popo took the attack head on, feeling the tingly chill of ice flowing over his body.
"Got'em. Now to finish him off." Domenico thought, concentrating air and water into his palm, "Barat!"
The mighty wave of wind and ice flew over Popo, descending upon him as he himself descended to the ground. From the standpoint of bystanders it would seem that Mesolow had the upper has as his attack began to engulf Popo, but the blue-parka wearing Smasher still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Breaking free of his icy prison the young boy pulled his mallet back before firing it forth with power and skill.
The hammering weapon spun furiously through the air, bypassing the squall heading toward Popo and homed in on Mesolow. The Weather Caster jumped to the side, nearly avoiding the attack, but put himself directly in the path of Popo, whose good arm was held back as he ran toward Domenico.
"Derecho!" yelled Popo, throwing his arm forward and releasing his weather attack
The speed of Popo's attack was overwhelming, engulfing Domenico before he had the chance to counter the attack. Domenico's legs were frozen to the ground in an instant with Popo barreling down on him from in front.
"I'm stuck, but that kid will never reach me before my attack hits." Mesolow thought, grinning as his Barat descended on Popo
Without stopping Popo pulled his arm back, before launching it skyward, though to the naked eye nothing seemed to come from his hand. In actuality a powerful updraft of air came from his hand, disrupting the descending Barat and dissipating much into nothing more than a cool breeze.
"No way, he disrupted it that quickly!" Mesolow yelled, just as Popo met up with him
The older child struggled fruitlessly against his bounds after seeing his attack destroyed and in his desperation the ice about his feet cracked a little, but it was far too late to stop Popo from launching a punch his way. The young ice climber's fist collided with Mesolow's face, knocking him from him icy prison and sending him back a few feet.
"The kid's pretty strong too, but I can still..." Mesolow began
The older Weather Caster felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, his world going fuzzy moments later. That's when he noticed something fly into Popo's hand. Forcing himself to focus, he not only saw what flew into Popo's hand, but in the same instance figured out why he was going down.
"I should have realized it. It's like a boomerang, it comes back." he replied before hitting the dirt
Darkness swept his entire being for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually though the light returned to him, illuminating his world. As his eyes opened he was greeted with the color green and quickly realized that he was face down in the grass.
"Err...ugh..." groaned Mesolow, turning over onto his back
"You okay?" he heard a voice ask, quickly seeing it to be the voice of Popo
"Yeah...I'm fine, just a little headache." replied Mesolow, "You know, you're pretty strong, stronger than me even."
"I just got a little lucky." replied Popo, helping Mesolow to his feet
"Luck nothing." he replied, "You outclassed me, even while you were injured and used Derecho." Mesolow mentioned, "Not too many Weather Casters can use that move." he replied
"Heh, heh...thanks." Popo chuckled, feeling a sense of pride welling up inside him
"I've got a long way to go if I can't even beat a kid as hurt as you." Mesolow told him
"It's only a few broken ribs and my arm." replied Popo, feeling as if Mesolow, as well as everyone else, was making a big fuss over his injuries
"Still, I'm going to get better and then we're gonna have another match when you're at peak condition." Mesolow replied
"Heh, heh...gotcha." Popo chuckled once again
"Popo! Nana!" ushered a call
Popo turned his head to the call as Nana rose from her frolicking among the flowers, looking off into the direction of the voice. It was their grandmother calling them from afar, waving her hand to show them where she was exactly.
"Come, the chief really wants to meet you." she said
"Coming Grandmamma!" they called in unison
Waving goodbye to his newest rival Popo ran up to his grandmother, with his sister catching up a few moments later.
"The chief really wants to meet you two." she replied, "He says that there is something very important he wants to discuss with you."
As they began their trek the two little climbers took great interest in the village that the Weather Caster's called home. They marveled at the fact that the buildings that encompassed the village were something different than what Popo and Nana were accustomed to. Unlike the wood that dominated much of the homes of the Nesh region, the homes of the Weather Casters were built with a different material, marble. The village was a rainbow of different color marble, each unique and perfectly cut to give a practical though eye-catching design.
"It's something isn't it?" Tealeaf asked, noticing her grandchildren looking about
"Why are they made of marble?" Nana asked, recognizing the mineral content of the buildings "It can't be very warm."
"With the weather here being fair for the entirety of the year it's okay for the homes to be made of marble."
"Why is it like that?" Popo asked, "Why doesn't it snow? It's like this place has its own weather."
"You've hit the nail on the head." she replied, "The weather around here is different than from the rest of the region."
"Hmm...how to explain?" she pondered, trying to come up with a reasonable explanation, "Er...think about...a hurricane." she replied
Popo and Nana raised an eyebrow at this. Even though the Nesh Region was too cold to support any high scale tropical storms, the twin climbers knew about hurricanes and such from stories their grandmother had told them about. But they could not fathom why she would use a hurricane to explain the strange weather phenomenon around Aurora Canyon.
"Hurricanes contain an 'eye', where there are no clouds or wind, right?"
They nodded their heads in agreement, understanding that much.
"Just think of Aurora Canyon as being the eye of the Nesh region." she replied
"Really?" asked Popo, interested
"The air about the entire region flows around Aurora Canyon." she replied, "Because of this it creates an area of sinking air where clouds do not form." she explained, "Unlike the rest of the region, Aurora Canyon stays rather balanced, never being too cold or too hot." she told them, "I know it is not much, but it is the best way I can explain this." she replied
"I sorta get it." Nana replied, a least having some clue as to how this could occur
"Yeah..." replied Popo, though he sounded less convinced than his sister
"Well, here we are." Tealeaf replied, presenting Popo and Nana to the chief's home
While not much different than the buildings that surrounded it, though being of a different color of marble, the chief's home was larger than what Popo and Nana expected. Truth be told, it looked as if the chief's home was a cluster of different homes pieced together, a labyrinth of sorts.
"This place sure is..." Nana began, trying to find the right word for the building
"Weird?" her brother finished, his own thoughts bewildered by the structure before him
"It may be weird, but this is where the chief as well as other members of the Caster Circle live." Tealeaf replied
"Caster Circle?" Popo wondered
With Tealeaf in the lead Popo and Nana followed their grandmother into the strange building which, as they thought, seemed to be a conglomerate of different buildings in one. The group walked into a hallway that branched off to the other buildings that encompassed the main area. It was much like the Great Assembly Hall in Hiehie village, though on a much larger and grander scale.
"Hello!" called Popo, marveling at the fact that his voice echoed through the halls, "Cool!"
"Popo! Mind you manners!" Tealeaf hissed, ashamed at his lack of decency, "People work here and yelling like that is rude." she told him
"Sorry." he replied, "But this place is huge!"
"That is still no excuse for that." she scolded, "Letting them live alone probably wasn't the best of ideas." she thought, shaking her head disdainfully
"Well, well...now this would be a prime example of the cauldron calling the kettle black. Especially for one who does not like being called by her proper title." said a voice, causing the group to turn to it in response, "Hello Tealeaf."
"Hello to you Australis. How are you?" Tealeaf asked
"As well as I will ever be." the woman replied, "Though I will say that age is beginning to catch up with me." she replied
"Quiet that talk." Tealeaf interjected, "Remember, 'one is only as old as they believe they are'." she told her, "Besides, if anyone should complain about old age it is I. I am older than you after all."
"Oh, do not think I am talking about my end." Australis replied, "I still have some time left in this life. I am just saying that I have lost a little of my zest. But I apologize about worrying you." she said, before turning her attention to Popo and Nana, "Oh, pardon me, I have been rude. I haven't even introduced myself." she replied, "I am Australis Aurora, the Southern Dawn." she replied
"Hi...I'm Popo." replied Popo, his eye's wide
"And...I'm Nana." replied Nana, her mouth hanging open
"What is wrong children?" Australis asked, sensing their uneasiness
"That." Popo replied, pointing to the object strapped to the old woman's back
"Oh, you mean this." she replied, taking hold of what looked like a double-sided axe
Though this was no ordinary axe as the weapon was nearly as big as she was and at least twice her weight. And this was not even taking into account the handle which was almost half her height.
"Is something wrong with it?" she asked, "I sharpened it this morning."
"But it's huge!" Popo pointed out, perplexed
"I know." the woman replied as if it was general knowledge, "I mean, I made it." she replied, "I've had this for a least twenty years now." she murmured, reminiscing
"Whoa..." he murmured, his eyes still glued to the weapon
"But never mind that children." she replied, "You must come and meet the chief. He's with my brother at the moment." she told them, "This way." she said, motioning them to follow her
Now following behind this newest Weather Caster, Popo, Nana and Tealeaf were lead to two doors. Upon opening the doors the group were introduced to a large room, a library of sorts. Books lined the walls, filling nearly every available inch of space with literature. Even the windows that let sunlight beam in contain a few books, wedged within corners. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the chief of the Weather Caster's enjoyed reading or at the very least had to read a lot. Near the end of the room sat a large desk, filled with books much like the walls and window, and near that desk stood a man, who oddly resembled Australis in appearance. Also much like the Southern Dawn the man wore on his back an overly large weapon, this one being a large javelin.
"Hello there sister, are these the Aisu Kuraimās?" asked a man standing in front of a large desk
"Yes." she replied, "But where is the chief?" she asked
"Yes, I was only talking with him a few minutes ago? Where could he have gone?" Tealeaf wondered
"He has gone to the back room to look for a book he says he needs." the man replied, "I swear, the man has no organization skills whatsoever and yet he is the leader of the Weather Casters." he said, "Fate can be twisted sometimes."
"I do not believe in fate brother." replied Australis, "But I do believe in duty and no matter how disorganized the chief may be, he is a true leader for the Weather Casters. He has proven this time and time again." she replied
"I know..." he muttered, "Though I wish he was not so scatterbrained all the time."
"I heard that Borealis!" yelled a voice, from a back room, "And I am not scatterbrained...simply absentminded sometimes."
"Oh yes..." Borealis muttered, "Very absentminded."
"No matter." the man said, coming from out of the back room, "Oh, seems that everyone is finally here." he replied, looking about the room
"Yes." replied Australis, "Popo, Nana, I would like you to meet my brother, Borealis Aurora the Northern Dawn and chief of the Weather Casters, Aeolus the Central Wind." she replied
"Hey." replied Borealis
"Hello there children. I have wanted to meet you for a while. You know, you two are a spitting image of your parents." he replied
Popo and Nana did not respond to this comment, thus Aeolus took it as understanding and continued on.
"But you are probably wondering what is going on with the ceremony and such." he replied, "And by explaining to you I will not be able to read this book that I have been searching for diligently." he replied, "I mean, it's a really good book and I've been searching for it for days and..."
"Ahem..." murmured Borealis, clearing his voice
"Oh...sorry, I sort of rambled there didn't I?" he asked, "Age can do that to a person...I mean I remember this one time..."
"Damn you Aeolus, get to the point!" Borealis barked, inciting a gasp from all present...well, all but Australis, who took hold of her axe with one hand and held it out dangerously close to her brother
"Normally I do not mind you shooting your mouth of at the chief Borealis. But this time we have honored guests so you will hold you tongue or I will for you...either figuratively or literally...your choice." she said
"Hey, as if that will happen." he growled, brandishing his javelin, "But if you really want to kick the bucket, I can wait five minutes."
Australis growled at the crack at her age, her grip on her axe tightening with each passing second.
"You're no young than I am brother, so if you want to talk about age you would be wise to look in a mirror!" she snapped
Tealeaf, Nana, and Popo all took a step back, eyes still wide. It always unnerved Tealeaf that Australis and Borealis treated one another in such a manner, openly threatening each other. True, Borealis had been out of line, but even that didn't warrant the response she had given.
"Do not worry." replied Aeolus, sensing their worry, "They do this from time to time." he replied, "While I'll be the first to admit that brother and sister should not bicker like this, it is nothing new." he replied, "Now then, stop this foolishness so that I can finish explain things." he replied
"Very well..." replied Borealis, "You old fool." he added under his breath
"What was that!?" barked Australis, "Haven't I told you not to insult the chief!"
"Well make me!"
Aeolus sighed, knowing this could go on for quite a while and decided to stop it then and there.
His voice bellowed, the atmosphere in the room cooled drastically, and murderous intent coming from Aeolus was double that of what Borealis and Australis had been exuding. For a split moment Popo had a feeling that one of the reasons why this man was made chief of the Weather Casters was because of his authoritative presence. Borealis and Australis stopped their bickering immediately, put their weapons away, and stood at attention, fully focused on the man standing before them.
"As you wish." they said in unison, all signs of anger toward one another gone
"Thank you." he replied, his composure returning, "I wish I didn't have to do that every time you two get into a scuffle." he replied, the room returning to its normal temperature, "Now then, shall we begin?" he asked, facing Popo and Nana
The drivers of the WSVs were not kidding when they said the alternative path to Aurora Canyon was treacherous. Driving alongside two adjacent glaciers, thirty stories in height was quite the venture for the Smashers. The large, enclosed space gave the Smashers an eerie overwhelming feeling. As if the walls would close in on them at any moment.
"Eventually, this path will be completely gone when these two glaciers collide." replied the driver of the lead WSV, "The path is not normally used because of this fact. I myself have only gone through the path three times before this." he told them, "Also parts of the walls collapse without warning, making it foolhardy to simple drive through without care." he replied
"Have they ever fallen when you've drove through?" Ness called from the second WSV
"Not that I can recall." the driver called back, "But like I said, the walls can collapse without warning so being careful is still a priority."
"Oh boy..." murmured Ness, looking up toward the glacier walls
"Oh...do not worry my young friend." replied Robert, "We will be fine as long as we keep out beliefs strong. I mean, what could be the chance that the walls would collapse now?" he asked, chuckling
"What was that?" Ness asked
"Oh...look." replied Bridget, pointing up to a particular piece of wall, "I suppose we've run into a spot of bad luck."
A large crack that had formed had finally reached the top of the glacier wall, bits of ice chipping away as gravity began to take hold.
"Oh boy..." Ness shuddered, eyes going wide
Gully Squall, Brubu, Squamishe, Pamperos, Barat, and Derecho are types of squalls. Please don't hate me for my bogus weather forecasting. This is all for the sake of the storyline.