Fearow plummets through the trees, stopping the Mankey, and Ash orders Pikachu to use Thunder Shock. However, in a panic, one of the Mankey slams against a Beedrill nest, prompting a swarm of the Bug-type Pokémon to arise and slice at Ash, Pikachu, and the Mankey troop.
Later, at a nearby town's Pokémon Center, Ash is informed by the attendant that his skill level hasn't risen even though he recently captured more Pokémon.
The attendant informs Ash that his captures for the day, a Mankey and a Beedrill, are both Rank D. Rank D Pokémon are common and anyone can catch them anywhere.
Ash pouts and comes to the conclusion that catching more Pokémon will cause him to raise to the rank equivalent to someone who has a Thunder Badge.
Ash and Pikachu sit down to eat, and Ash laments that he might not be able to become a member of the Pokémon League before his leave of absence from school is up.
Ash overhears Giselle brag about catching a "Rank A" Pokémon, and Ash sighs, thinking that Pokémon Training is more like school and less fun than he thought it would be. However, memories of Gary and May Oak renew his enthusiasm and he insists that he won't fail.
Ash travels downtown in search of secret insider Pokémon information. A tiny Pokémon courier shop advertises maps to the location of rare Pokémon, and even though Ash thinks it sounds fishy, he enters the shop.
Inside he meets a suspicious-looking man, and Ash turns to leave when the merchant hits a sore spot by suggesting that Ash was wondering how to catch up to a rival. The merchant then offers to show him a map to a nest of Clefairy, which are a "Rank A" rarity Pokémon.
Ash thinks that catching a Clefairy will be such a feat the Pokémon League will admit him right away. After some haggling, Ash trades the Mankey he recently caught for the map to the Clefairy nest.
Ash ends up wandering through the forest with a crudely drawn map showing that in some vaguely defined area southwest of Mt. Moon, "HERE THERE BE CLEFAIRY".
Although he's discouraged, Pikachu pumps Ash up by telling him that Clefairy are definitely somewhere in the Moon Mountain Range, and that Ash should never give up. Ash and Pikachu soon despair when they realize how big the Moon Mountain Range is.
After three agonizing weeks in the wilderness, Pikachu and Ash finally spot a Clefairy wearing a necklace. The duo scrambles after the Fairy Pokémon, only to have it hop away into a cave.
Ash and Pikachu suddenly realize they're in peril, when they find that they're inside an Onix nest. Ash and Pikachu are driven further into the maze of tunnels the Onix has created. Ash checks his Pokédex and discovers that Brock's Onix was at a lower level than this wild Onix, which is why they were able to defeat it.
Ash laments Misty's absence, as he could use a Water-type to easily defeat Onix. Without a Water-type, Ash has to review his Pokémon and figure out what might be a decent strategy. After rejecting using Fearow, Beedrill, or Pikachu, Ash decides to use his Butterfree.
Butterfree uses Psychic, which weakens Onix, but also confuses it — causing it to thrash around and cause a cave-in that buries Pikachu and Ash under a pile of rocks.
Ash passes out and has a dream about May pinching his cheek, only to awaken and find out that the Clefairy with a necklace is yanking on his face.
Professor Oak, dressed in a giant Clefairy outfit, leaps up while stuffing ramen into his face and asks if Ash is alright. Ash panics, thinking that he's found a man-eating Clefairy before he recognizes Professor Oak from his picture in the Pokédex.
Ash is star-struck and thanks Professor Oak for rescuing him, but the researcher explains that a Clefairy dug Ash out of the rubble by using a Metronome attack. Ash hugs the Clefairy with a necklace and thanks it for saving him.
That night, at the Clefairy's nest in a giant tree, Professor Oak explains that he's been living with the Clefairy for the past three months, and explains Clefairy only trust those who love and protect them.
Ash explains that he knows Gary, and that he desires to become a Pokémon Master. Professor Oak reminisces about how his father was a Pokémon Professor who took him on research expeditions, which prompted him to begin his journey at just six years of age with his Charmander. Oak then explains that something incredible will be happening the next night.
Before he can explain any further, a teenage boy shows up and apologizes for being late, having brought Professor Oak the DVD recorder and noodles he had wanted.
Professor Oak introduces the teenager as Bill, a young genius who works for the Pokémon Cutting-Edge Technology Research Center and the mastermind behind the Poké Ball Storage and Retrieval System - which greatly impresses Ash.
Bill greets the Clefairy, who happily jump for joy and cuddle him. Professor Oak explains that Bill was the one who discovered the Clefairy colony and managed to befriend them.
At sunset, Ash, Bill, Professor Oak, and the Clefairy adorn themselves with feathers and walk up to a great water-filled crater. Professor Oak records the proceedings on his camera and explains that the Clefairy have invited them to be guests of honor at a special ceremony.
Bill and Oak explain that even though it's known that Clefairy evolve into Clefable, no one's ever actually witnessed a Clefairy evolution firsthand.
A full moon rises, and six Clefairy begin to dance around an adorned rock while the others in the colony beat drums.
Meanwhile, Bill and Ash get to know each other better. Bill tells Ash that he couldn't even spell "Pokémon" when he first started out, but the year he started on his Pokémon Trainer's Journey was the first year they let students take a leave from school. Bill hated school back then, so he was willing to do anything to get out of it. However, as he shared adventures with his Pokémon, he grew closer to then. He finally decided to study Pokémon when he witnessed his Ivysaur evolve into Venusaur.
The ceremony begins, and Professor Oak explains that once they reach the right age or level, all unpaired Clefairy in the tribe become the center of an evolution ceremony held near a lake on the night of a full moon. Three Clefairy are going to evolve in this ceremony, including the one that saved Ash's life.
Another Clefairy hands the three humans Moon Stones, and Ash is curious about the rocks. Professor Oak explains that it's a meteorite that has a mysterious effect on Pokémon genes.
Bill touches his Moon Stone to one of the Clefairy. It shimmers and in a burst of light and wind, evolves into a Clefable and begins to fly away.
Bill explains that only the bravest Clefairy choose to evolve, since leaving their home to see the world makes them vulnerable to predators who don't exist in the mountains.
Ash finally understands. He looks on in surprise at the Clefairy who rescued him. Ash touches the Moon Stone to the Clefairy and it evolves, flying up to meet the two other Clefable. All three of the humans, teary-eyed, enthusiastically cheer on the Clefable as they fly away into the night sky.
The next day, Professor Oak and Bill drop Ash off from their hover-truck, and give him an upgrade to the Pokédex as a gift.
Ash runs off as Bill comments that Ash looks different. Professor Oak reminds Bill that nobody can resist the call of adventure.
In North America, when VIZ Media published the chapters of the manga in monthly issues, this chapter was published as chapter two. This creates a continuity error as Ash uses his Butterfree in this chapter, which supposedly doesn't evolve until Play Misty For Me. This was done because Play Misty For Me required a significant amount of editing, whereas Clefairy Tale did not.
The original arrangement of the chapters was restored for the collected volume release.