Episode 2: Memories of Adventure
The Rising Moltres was surprisingly busy when the trio arrived, but this was because the crowd was mostly focused on a young minstrel clad in a dull green tunic that appeared nearly gray. Ornate ivy patterns ran across the garment, complementing her black leggings and the leaf-print design on the tunic. Her lute was just as elaborate, with a flower-like rosette and a vine pattern on the fingerboard. At the moment, she was occupied with singing "A Contest of Magic"; her strong and energetic alto blending with her lute's hypnotic drone as she wove the tale of two mages competing to win the heart of a lady.
Brock, meanwhile, was interested not in the song, but in the singer. "She's so beautiful...I would love to show off the full extent of my powers and win her heart!" He was about to continue his secret confession of love when he saw Dawn give him the "stop-blathering-and-behave-yourself" look as they settled at a table by the window.
"Maybe she's the one that sent the message?" Ash mused as he studied the menu.
"Could be..." Dawn replied. "But then again, a lot of our adventures started in this very tavern – there was the time we drove out that demonic cult..."
"The time we traipsed through a monster-infested fortress just to save a princess..." Ash muttered before signaling a waitress for a platter of meat buns.
"Saving that alchemist from golems..." Brock added.
Dawn chuckled at the memory. "Who knew that the golems were fans of your harp?"
"Easy pickings once Brock started singing." Ash agreed. "And who could forget the time we had to help the thieves' guild chase out a flock of harpies?"
"It's not often the rogues ask for anyone's help." Brock noted as the minstrel ended her song to thunderous applause.
"Yeah, they generally keep to themselves." Dawn agreed as Ash's meat buns arrived.
Ash, meanwhile, took a bite of his quick snack – only to feel an incredibly hot sensation welling up in his mouth! "HOT!!!!!" he screeched as the flames from the Tamato Berries lit every candle in their vicinity and charred a few napkins.
"Next time, ask if there's Tamato Berries in the buns." Brock smiled as he roasted a Berry over a lit candle.
Ash was about to reply to his friend's suggestion, but all that emerged from his mouth was a "Hic!"
"Spicy stuff will cause the hiccups, you know." Dawn agreed, fascinated by the almost rhythmic frequency of Ash's hiccups. Inspired, she began knocking rhythmically on the table in time to Ash's hiccuping. Brock joined in by rubbing a knife and fork in time to the beat. Someone else joined in with a tambourine, and another patron joined in with a drum.
The minstrel smiled and joined in the impromptu jam session along with the barkeep, who began drumming on some empty bottles for another melody line. A knight and a squire come to Thiana's temple, knowing not that the demon lord sealed her away...
Ash, still hiccuping, smiled a bit – he didn't expect his hiccuping to be the starting point for an impromptu performance of "The Sealed Temple".
The minstrel approached the table as the song ended – and with it, Ash's hiccuping. "Thank you for the wonderful inspiration!" she smiled as she took a seat at the table. "I am Kayada Tirmar, a Chanteur of the Enclave of Singers."
"A high ranking minstrel!" Brock gasped, elated. "Won't you teach me a song or two? I only know but one, and my constantly singing it is driving them crazy..."
Dawn slammed a fist on the table, startling Brock. "Enough!"
"Actually, Brock knows many songs besides 'The Wind and Rain'" Ash explained to Kayada. "But he seems to like that one, for some reason."
Kayada giggled. "At any rate, my request for you three is to travel to the Labyrinth of Mystic Secrets, where the Dancing Flute of the Goddess is said to be located. Unlike most instruments already in the collection, this particular flute is said to date from the Sealing."
"The Sealing?" Ash gasped. "Really?"
"I thought that everything from the Sealing had faded into legend..." Brock agreed.
"And what will we receive in return if this item really does exist?" Dawn asked. Something dating from the Sealing had to be compensated just as handsomely, as the task was bound to be difficult.
"The duchess has promised to trade an equally special flute and some other things in return for what we of the Singers ask for." Kayada replied. "Do we have a deal?"
"Consider it done!" Ash replied as he got up from the table.
"Now will you teach me a song, Lady Kayada?" Brock asked.
Kayada just smiled as Dawn rolled her eyes. "Very well, lord of Shirista, I will teach you another song for your companions to hear. Brock eagerly listened as Kayada strummed an expectant chord. "This is 'Mina's Flight'" Ash led the clapping as Kayada played a rollicking introduction. A prince on the hunt in the wood one day, not for a Buneary, but a wizard to slay...
To Be Continued...