Chapter 31: Cultural Festival

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I own nothing and Happy Holidays to all!
Chapter 31: Hashing it Out

The three returned back to campus, Epel riding with (Y/N) 'cause he really wanted to fly on Corviknight. It was dark by the time they got back to Pomefiore, and Vil was there to greet them with a sour look, especially when (Y/N) had to explain what had happened.
" both have some nerve coming back here. Not only did you skip today's lesson, but you left campus without permission and you even got into a fight. This time you won't be penalized for the fight, because it was in self-defense, but what would you do if they cancelled the VDC because you two got into a fight?"
"Vil..." (Y/N) warned as Deuce hung his head.
"Schoenheit-senpai, I'm so terribly sorry for all the trouble I've caused. I was the one who made Epel leave campus without permission. I take full responsibility and will fully accept my punishment."
"No!" Epel argued. "I was the one who ran out during lessons in the first place and I'm the one who stated the fight. It was my fault! And also, today...I finally understand the power Vil was always talking about. Deep in my heart, I've always looked down on those who put so much value on their beauty and cuteness. But because of Vil introducing our local apple juice to millions of people, everyone in my village was so happy. I feel like I finally understand what you meant when saying the power in beauty. I want to have power, just like you."
"Hmph." Vil stated, before (Y/N) butted in, eyeing him.
"I believe there's another blame to go around that we can put this past us. Wouldn't you agree, Vil?"
He sighed. "Let me tell you something, Epel. I like making people bow before me. The power to make people more vulnerable than violent and make them more eloquent, that is the power of beauty. That is why I have worked so hard to perfect my beauty, so no one could compare, so I can be the best in the world. Fortunately, you were born with the blade of cuteness, but it's up to you to sharpen that blade or let it rust. Please keep that in mind."
"Yes." Epel agreed with a smile. "I will become stronger and stronger. Strong enough to defeat Neige and you!"
"Heh? I wouldn't say that just yet."
Rook chuckled." Fufufu. It seems these chicks have finally made some realizations. Will you yield to Madame Dompteur de Bêtes' decision, Roi de Poison?"
Vil rolled his eyes. "Hah...certainly, there's no point in getting angry. There will be no repeats of this. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes!" They both agreed.
"You're not supposed to respond all cheerfully. You both seem to have so much energy still. As punishment, run 30 laps around the dorm."
"Yes! We will start running!"
The boys took off as the others watched on. Vil stood next to (Y/N).
"It seems you were correct. Spade was able to convince Epel in hours what I could not in months."
"Sometimes it just takes a change in tactics." (Y/N) said with a smile. "And a bit of real life experience."
"So it would seem. Perhaps I need to reevaluate my methods."
"There is no shame in admitting it."
"So, are you going to tell me why you've been hard on Epel in particular? What's the whole 'poisoned apple' deal?"
Vil was quiet for a moment. "...I know we cannot triumph against Neige conventionally, so we need a weapon to fight on his level."
"...this whole thing was so you could fight cute with cute?"
(Y/N) rubbed her temples, but did not become aggressive. "Considering this is outside my field of expertise, I will leave that decision to you. Just try not to break the boy again, or I will throw you out of the dorm."
Before the training could say anything else, Ace, Deuce, and Grim started arguing, so she had to but in between them. Vil watched her as she handled the males expertly. He still had to find the right cream for those burns of hers.
In the aftermath of the whole dilemma, practice ran much smoother. Two weeks later, the group gathered for their weekly pep talk.
"We have less than one week before the VDC." Vil announced. "Starting today, we will begin dress rehearsals."
"Are the costumes going to be our school uniforms?" Ace asked.
Rook nodded. "Exactly. We are going to be representatives of our school after all."
"Uniforms are the best to give a fresh atmosphere to a boys' group." Vil explained. "Of course, we'll be making a special version with stretchy material for dancing. Be sure to thank Headmaster for making all the arrangements."
Speaking of, the bird popped in with a grin. "It's an easy arrangement for me. It's a great investment for school PR-, Ahem. I also want everyone to be able to dance 100% freely without restraint."
(Y/N) shook her head. "Why do we even try with you?"
"I wish we got more flashy outfits." Kalim complained as Jamil side eyed him.
"It's already been decided. It can't be helped."
Vil clapped his hands. "That's enough chatting. Well then, let's do the whole song from start to finish."
"Music start!" (Y/N) said as Grim hit the play button.
The boys performed spectacularly and Crowley was more than pleased by the results.
"Oh...oooooohhhh!! Absolutely incredible! What a breathtaking performance! I knew it was a good idea to leave Schoenheit in charge of production. The lyrics have so much meaning, the song is so catchy and cutting edge, the dance moves were so sharp, and the singing was superb! Everything was absolutely phenomenal!"
Vil smirked. "Well of course. Who do you think I am?"
"Just as expected from our world expected from our dorm leader of Pomefiore, a beautiful sight for the long history of our school. The VDC is a musical production and we won't know what kind of songs the other schools will be doing until the day of, but with the quality you all have achieved, we will surely be aiming for victory. Schoenheit, everyone in the NRC Tribe, be sure to defeat the Royal Sword Academy and show your beauty to the entire world!"
(Y/N) narrowed her eyes. "Who do you owe money to?"
"No one!" Crowley insisted before muttering, "Though I may finally one up Ambrosius. Anyways, I need to give these to all of you."
He handed out strips of paper that (Y/N) immediately recognized.
"VDC tickets?"
"VDC premium admission tickets are always in demand every year. Each performer will receive tickets for their friends and family."
"Oh! Thank you so much, Headmaster!" Kalim thanked. "My mom and dad said they rented out several local movie theaters for the event. They're going to gather all the servants and relatives together to watch the live broadcast."
"Dare I ask how big your extended family is?" (Y/N) queried, only to be waved off by Jamil.
"We lost count generations ago. My sister said she's coming to the school festival, so maybe I'll give one of the tickets to her. It makes me a little nervous knowing some of my family will be watching."
"Well then, I'll be off so I'm not in your way during practice." Crowley said. "Everyone do your best! Oh, and Stone, about security and the petting zoo."
"Intimidating Pokémon on the outer perimeter, less intimidating working inside, most social will be in the petting zoo."
"Excellent! Good luck everyone!"
Practice resumed undisturbed for the rest of the day. Upon returning to Ramshackle, everyone tapped out, leaving (Y/N) to stare at the ceiling as Grim snoozed.
"I wonder if Mickey was a dream after all."
Absol suddenly perked up and walked towards the window, pawing at it. Slowly, as to not disturb Grim or Swampert, (Y/N) joined the dark type.
"What do you see, boy?"
(Y/N) saw what looked like a mass of green fireflies fluttering about the garden.
"That green light...oh!"
She ran towards the door, the disaster Pokemon on her tail, and raced outside the dorm. There to greet her was her tall, mysterious, night walking friend.
She smiled. "Tsunotaru!"
Absol walked up for some pets as the horned male smirked. "Oh my, long time no see, child of man. Anything new lately?"
"I'll say. It's been pretty hectic here."
"Is that so? I am glad you are enjoying yourself."
"You're the one who sent the holiday card, right?" She asked. "Absol said it was you."
He smiled, petting Absol's white fur. "Indeed. Such a clever beastie to find me. I was quite touched by your response."
"I'm glad you liked it. Though, why did you sign it M.D.?"
He smirked again. "That is right. You don't know anything about me and you are naive to our world. Fufufu."
She pouted. "Hey, I'm trying to learn! Anyways, I feel guilty not being able to invite you to something over break...oh, would you like to see the VDC at the cultural festival?"
He blinked in surprise as she handed him the tickets. "Is that...a ticket to see the production at the upcoming school festival? It can't be...are you inviting me?"
"Of course!"
"Fu...fufufu..." He burst out laughing. "Hahahahaha! You really seem to have no fear. Very well, I will happily accept you invitation. Will you be going in stage as well?"
"Nope. I'm just a humble manager."
He frowned. "That's too bad. Well, if Schoenheit and Asim are in it, then I'm sure it will be a splendid performance. I am looking forward to the day of the school festival. Good night, (Y/N)."
He vanished in his usual flash as (Y/N) pet Absol.
"I'm glad he's happy."
The days passed quickly, with great effort, and the night before the festival, (Y/N) felt the familiar drift of her mind as she traveled through the mirror. Her dream took her to a musty room as the hag from the previous dream stared evilly at an apple covered in an unappetizing substance that took the shape of a skull.
"Dip the apple in the brew, on the skin, the symbol lies within. Now, turn red, to tempt Snow White, to make her hunger for a bite."
She turned to the bird who reared up at the sight of the red fruit.
"Have a bite? Hahahaha!" She then checked the book. "But wait! There may be an antidote. Nothing must be overlooked. Love's first kiss, huh? Bah! No fear of that. The dwarves will think she's dead. She'll be buried alive! Buried alive! Hahahaha!"
The dream faded as the witch disappeared. (E/C) eyes blinked open.
"As usual, I've got a bad feeling."
There was a knock on the door, waking everyone one up. (Y/N) yawned and petted Swampert.
"Come in."
Epel stepped in. "Good morning, (Y/N), Grim, Pokémon. I see you're all awake."
Grim also yawned but bounced to his feet. "Hey, Epel! It's finally the day of the Vocal & Dance Championship. We're gonna win, so I can make my dream of having a million canned tunas come true!"
He grinned at them. "Yup, that's right! We are gonna win for sure! But...I feel a little sad, because that means today is the last day of our training camp. Thank you so much for providing us a place for training camp! Hehe"
(Y/N) smiled at him. "Don't mention it. It was fun."
The resident got up, got dressed, and went downstairs. They were greeted by Kalim.
"Good morning, (Y/N), Epel, Grim, and Swampert! Did you all sleep well? I'm feeling so excited! I couldn't sleep at all and Jamil got mad at me! Ahahaha!"
"Geez..." Jamil groaned. "You aren't some kid the night before a trip..."
"You know, some of my Pokémon can use Sleep inflicting moves, Jamil."
"I'll keep that in mind."
Rook then joined them. "Bonjour! Good morning! How is everyone this morning? Vil wants to talk to everyone before the performance. Can everyone please come to the lounge?"
They followed him in and found the blonde enjoying tea with Gardevoir and Vulpix snoozing in his lap. He stood up, placing the fox on the couch, when he noticed them.
"Everyone is here. Today at 3pm, at the purple stage in the Coliseum, the Vocal & Dance Championship will begin. The competition will be broadcasted live all over the world over the internet. It's time to show the world the beauty we have perfected. Are you ready?"
"Yeah!" They all cheered.
"Dress rehearsals will start at 12pm. We will be making final team adjustments before the rehearsals."
"Ahh!" Grim squeaked. "I'm getting so jittery since we can only watch!"
"You guys will be great. I know." (Y/N) encouraged as Swampert nodded in agreement.
Vil nodded to the girl. "You two won't be needed, and I know Headmaster has assigned you other tasks for the festival, so go enjoy it for now. I will give you a staff pass to get back in, so please keep it on you at all times. Be back at 12pm for the rehearsal."
"Will do." (Y/N) said. "Now if you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I have a petting zoo to set up, and a security team to organize."
"All right, that should do it!" (Y/N) said as she finished the last pen for the zoo. The selected Pokémon were Tropius, Glaceon, Ampharos , Luxray's family, Appletun's family, and Cufant. All of them had pens and signs with their Dex entries. She nodded to Arcanine and Falinks, who kept the place heated and would be on standby respectively.
"Okay guys, make sure things run smoothly and don't be afraid to come get me if anything. I'll come check in after rehearsals!"
They all cheered in agreement as she, Grim, and Swampert decided to go check out the stalls. Grim was of course drooling.
"Wah! (Y/N), look! There's so many food stands!"
(Y/N) kept focus. "We should probably see the purple stage first."
"Eh?! Why are you acting like a real manager all of a sudden?" He darted around. "Funnel cake! Hot dogs! And there's takoyaki!"
"Yes, yes." She mumbled before Swampert snatched the cat and put him on his back.
Eventually, they made it to the Coliseum and saw all the hustle and bustle.
"Woah!" Grim said. "The stage is huge!"
"All right, all right!" The familiar voice of Ruggie shouted. "And stop, Jack. Now, bring the pole straight down here."
"Got it!" The wolf grunted. "It's kinda difficult to keep precision and control while using floating magic."
"Hey!" Leona could be heard growling. "The seats need to be covered in a certain colored plastic! Get to it!"
"Yes!" Several students yelled. "Terribly sorry!"
"Well, Kitty's running them ragged." (Y/N) joked. "Hey guys!"
Ruggie looked over and smiled as he saw the Ramshackle team approach. "Well if it isn't the beast tamer herself. Did you come help us set up? Shishishi!"
Jack nodded a greeting. "Didn't you say they were Ace and Deuce's manager or something?"
"They're making finishing touches for the VDC." Grim explained. "So we got kicked out and were told we were in the way. By the way, are you guys the ones who made this special stage?"
"During the Magift Tournament, the cultural clubs were in charge of setting everything up." Leona answered. "This time, the roles are reversed, and the athletics clubs are being forced to work."
"We in the track and field club and the Magift club are in charge of setting up the purple stage." Jack added.
"Shouldn't professionals do this?" (Y/N) asked.
Ruggie shrugged. "Even though it's a huge event, the school festival is still just a school event. There are some things we rely on professionals for, but the students mostly do the building. Well, it's just another way of learning while out on the field."
Suddenly, two familiar Heartslabyul faces appeared. Riddle gave them a hard look as Trey just smiled.
"If you all have time for chatting, you have time to finish setting up. Is everyone working along with the schedule?"
"Riddle-senpai, good morning." Jack greeted while Leona mischievously smirked.
"Well, well, if it isn't our committee chairman. Welcome to the construction site."
Trey just pulled out several bottles. "Thank you for all your hard work this morning. Here are some hot drinks from the committee."
Ruggie immediately snatched one. "Oh, well that's nice! Working outside in the cold has me freezing down to my tail! Thank you for the drink!"
"Leona-senpai, how is the progress going for the set up?" Riddle asked.
"As you see, there's no delay, so nothing to report. We just need to test the lights and sound, then everything will be ready for the 12pm rehearsal."
"Good. The whole world will be watching the Vocal & Dance Championship from the purple stage. Please make sure to do a final check with the utmost care for the performers who come from all over the world."
"Yeah, yeah."
(Y/N) patted the older male on the back. "Keep up the good work, Kitty."
"Don't patronize me, Herbivore."
"We're counting on all of you." Trey said. "Well, are we done checking on the 3 stages, Riddle?"
The red head nodded. "Yes, next let's go check on the exhibition booths and rooms. General admission opens at 11am. We need to keep an eye out for any issues or rule violations. (Y/N), Grim, Swampert, we're planning on going around the school for the time being, if you're interested in the exhibitions, you can come with us."
(Y/N) smiled. "We'd be delighted."
"All right then, setup team, please do your best on the remainder of your work!"
"Of course!" Jack said firmly. "See you later, (Y/N) and Grim. I got a ticket to the VDC from Epel, so I'll see you there too. Tell the others not to be too nervous!"
"Yeah, you got it!" Grim said.
The Ramshackle residents followed the leadership of Heartslabyul out of the Coliseum.
"At the exhibition booths, clubs are given the opportunity to present and sell products." Riddle explained. "There will also be booths where 4th years can present their research and surveys as exhibitions. If you're interested, be sure to check it out."
"Now that you mention it, Crowley said that 4th years would be coming to the school festival." Grim recalled. "I've never seen them at school, so where are they?"
"Usually, 4th year magic training schools have off campus internships or training programs." Trey explained. "I'll be sent somewhere next year as well, so I'll only come back to campus occasionally."
"Ah, what kind of training do you do there?"
Riddle took over. "Some students want to be a part of special teams or government organizations, or they want to do research at archaeological sites, or decipher old documents. Sometimes, they become an intern at a general magic company."
(Y/N) whistled. "That's a lot of choices."
Trey nodded. "Yup. By the way, (Y/N), didn't you come to this world without magic? I suppose it can't be helped if you are not familiar with all this. Even Twisted Wonderland's fire and police departments have teams of magicians."
"I get it." She said. "Most jobs in my world also utilize Pokémon. When you have something so powerful and integral to the world, you're gonna use it. Anyways, let's go check out these booths."
"Right." Trey agreed. "I know the science club is running a House Plant Cafe. Want to go take a look?"
"Yes please!" (Y/N) said eagerly.
The group walked over to the botanical gardens and were happily greeted by a small cafe in the beautiful scenery.
"Fnya!" Grim awed. "There's a bunch of tables and chairs in the Botanical Garden!"
"Oh! Trey-senpai!" One student greeted. "Thank you for all your hard work!"
"Thank you for doing a great job." The senior said back. "Sorry I couldn't help out during the opening."
"No, it's fine, you were up late last night, finalizing the cafe menu."
Another student joined in. "Rook-senpai was just writing poetry praising your flowing movements."
"Hahaha...I believe it. Rook seems more suited for the literature club than the science club. Rook will be in the VDC as a representative for our school. Please make sure to go support him as a fellow science club member."
"We will! Oh and Dorm Leader Stone, thank you for your beasts' help!"
She tilted her head. "What?"
"Oh, two of them came in this morning and really helped the flowers bloom! It was incredible for our cafe!"
He pointed at a low hanging branch where Shaymin and Beautifly were snoozing. She chuckled and whistled, getting their attention and making them come down to greet them.
"Well I'm glad they're such help. You two be sure to keep the plants happy today."
"Ah! Oh no!" Riddle said, noticing his watch. "It's already 10:30am. Next we need to check out the classrooms. General admission opens at 11am, so we need to make sure we have a look at everything before then."
The group rushed to the main buildings, checking each club over and pausing whenever Riddle needed to scold someone. Grim eventually wandered into an empty looking room, save for the many terrifying gargoyles.
"What's this place? A club? There are so many monster figures with scary faces."
"Gargoyles..." Riddle thought. "It's a type of sculpture that acts as a rain gutter. The study club president should be Malleus Draconia, the dorm leader of Diasomnia."
Trey adjusted his glasses. "It seems like he's not here."
Riddle sighed. "Malleus is a very skilled magician, but he really does lose track of time. He is the only member of this club, so hopefully he comes back before we open. It could be troublesome if he leaves his booth unattended."
"I don't think there's anyone at this school who would mess with Malleus's exhibit."
"I see your point. Then let's go off to the next booth."
Down the hall in the lecture room, the board game club had set up their booth. Inside, a male with flaming blue hair was pacing.
"Ah! Only 2 hours until my research presentation...I tried every possible way to calm myself down, but nothing's working! Why do I have to present on stage in the first place? Isn't it too high of a hurdle?! Can't I just do a video chat with an avatar? My voice software preparations are complete, but am I going to be able to type as I go without looking at the keyboard?"
"There's some guy talking to himself in the corner." Grim pointed out.
Riddle looked done. "...Idia-senpai, what are you doing over there?"
Idia leapt. "Woah! Professor Riddle! What are you doing here!?"
"Ha? Professor?"
"Ah, n-nothing...just mumbling."
"Are you ready for your research presentation?"
"You don't need to worry. Just watch me. Hehe."
The red head gave him a look. "Okay...There are many interesting themes in your research of modern magic in engineering. I am looking forward to your presentation."
"A-anyway, I'm doing some finishing touches right now, but if you want, please play some board games with Ortho."
Just then, the small robot child appeared. "Riddle Rosehearts, Trey Clover, (Y/N), and Grim, hello! Welcome to the board game club exhibition booth. Here, you can play a variety of board games with the members from old to new games! Also, you can play the magical VR Magical Sugoroku made by my brother!"
"VR Magical Sugoroku?" Trey repeated as Grim ran for the controllers.
"That looks so fun!"
Ortho handed them a headset. "With these magical VR goggles made by my brother, players can enter a virtual reality world. There, various events occur to the player in the virtual world where you roll a dice to progress. Of course, dice rolls are completely random due to its programming. You are unable to use any special techniques to cheat. Entrust your fate to the dice and defeat the monsters in the jungle, aim for the goal while hitting an oil field in a desert. That's the new sensational board game, VR Magical Sugoroku!"
"Well he already has the cutest spokesperson for it." (Y/N) said.
Trey rubbed his head. "Is this...really a board game?"
"It sounds really fun, Ortho." (Y/N) said.
The boy beamed. "Ah! Are you interested! Then, please try it!"
"Thank you, but we are in the middle of inspections right now." Trey said.
"But I promise we'll come by later to play." (Y/N) quickly added.
"Okay then, Ms (Y/N). See you later!"
Just as they turned to leave, Azul walked in.
"We'll, hello everyone. Welcome to our board game club exhibition."
"Azul." Riddle greeted. "I see you're in the board game club too. I figured since today is an event day, you would be busy working at the Monstro Lounge."
"On the contrary, I am also a student, Riddle. I am participating in the cultural festival as a member of a culture club. And this time, I've made a partnership with some of the leisure...I mean the members of the sports clubs. We've decided to expand the store and sell drinks throughout the stands in the Coliseum. After all, the highlight of the school festival is the VDC held at the purple stage."
"Well, you thought of everything." Trey complimented. "I should take some notes."
"Many of us in Octavinelle are a part of cultural clubs, such as myself and Jade. There's a high possibility that the lounge will be very crowded beyond what we could handle."
"Come to think of it, Jade started his own club and was running it on his own, right?" Riddle asked. "The Mountain Lovers Association. He submitted his booth this year as well. Judging by the name, I thought it was an athletics club, but it's a cultural club."
"What do you do in that club?" Trey asked.
"Well...I don't know the details." Azul admitted.
Grim crossed his arms. "Knowing that guy, it has to be something fishy."
"Was that a pun?" (Y/N) asked.
"He's got to be digging up some suspicious stuff up in those mountains."
Riddle nodded. "I can see Jade doing that. Let's go check."
"Hopefully he hasn't killed someone yet." (Y/N) joked as she followed the males out.

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