Part 35: Bonus Episode: What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding?
Bonus Episode: What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding?
For whatever reason, Sly decided to spend our last night in this universe camping in the middle of nowhere. He spent the whole night waxing philosophical about about why we, out of all people, had been chosen to save the world and even mused that some higher power, some "entity", had been guiding us through this adventure. Worst of all, the rest of the team all felt the need to add their two loonies to the PHL 101 discussion. I just closed my eyes and waited for them to fall asleep.
While they were toasting marshmallows, I had been studying the echo gate. With the proper MysTech, I believed more general time travel was possible. Even though stopping Chaos completely was out of my league, I could at least go back and warn the people of Sunder before it split in two. I may have woken some of them up with the warp, but I had vanished before they could see what had happened.
Did I make it back...to that moment?
No. It appeared that I had gone back to the precise moment that Sly was recruiting a team to go to Limbus with him.
Maybe they were right, that some entity had chosen for me to appear here. Maybe it was my destiny to go to Limbus with him. At the very least it would be better than hanging around the Lounge while Grumpos got drunk and hit on me for two days.
Everything went as expected. I did my best to act surprised when Rictus apprehended us and held my breath as Democratus expanded and sent us flying to its surface.
A quick survey of my landing site showed that I had the fortune of being just outside a small, seemingly primitive village whose residents were large hairy bipeds.
The gate to the village was unlocked, indicating that the inhabitants were likely peaceful.
Make that peaceful and English-speaking. I would eventually seek out the Chieftainess, but first I would explore the village and look for clues to my destiny!
I quickly learned from the Gardener Gosheven that the Ereteno shrub's leaves were vital to this tribe's culture. The leaves came in three colors, green, silver, and gold. Supposedly, the leaves were endowed with great spiritual power and enabled the tribe to commune with its ancestors. Gold leaves were the most potent, followed by silver and finally green.
Aside from the Ereteno shrub, Ziffinberries were also important to the tribe. I picked as many as I could from the shrubs that I passed while exploring the village.
Tribal villages typically worshiped either forces of nature or their ancestors. Way to be original, guys.
Although the hippy tribe didn't worship a god, they apparently had a satan named Gorr.
Not even the idyllic village was safe from rebellious teens. "You're not part of the village. Do you understand me?" he asked. How could I? I chuckled and warned him not to act too rashly. He wasn't happy with my answer. "It must feel good to not belong anywhere," he said. "You must feel free." Maybe if I razed his village and destroyed everyone he ever loved then he could feel "free" like me.
After walking through the market, I came to the well, where an elderly man felt the need to impart his wisdom to me. He took a deep breath and began his tale. "Our people have a story about a boy named Gahopeko. He didn't feel a part of his family. He felt different from everyone in the town, so he abandoned his home. In the wilderness, only Gorr welcomed him with open arms. Misfortune upon misfortune plagued him. The winds stripped him of his compassion and love. Only a small pebble of bone was left of him, which was eaten by a fish. The greatest tragedy was that the difference between Gahopeko and the people of his town was only in his mind. We all feel somehow that we are different. We ARE different. But that is why the Shodei embrace eachother. It is how we survived war, famine, and all manner of disaster. Simplicity, community, and love. Learn from Gahopeko. May you find peace."
And that's the circle of life. But seriously, don't leave the village or Gorr will turn you into a pebble and feed you to a fish. Honestly, the only benefit of that story was that I learned that the natives called themselves the Shodei.
(I'm sure Shodei is supposed to sound like something. Maybe shoddy? I'm not sure.)
Someone had left a silver leaf from the Ereteno shrub on the side of the well. A quick analysis revealed that there were trace amounts of hallucinogens in the leaf. Nothing dangerous, but definitely enough to meet your ancestors.
Of the ziffinberries that I had picked earlier, some where ripe ones while the others were unripe. Had I wanted to make someone sick, I could have dipped the unripe ones in water and passed them off as ripe ones (if I weren't so afraid of Gorr getting me).
I took the opportunity to pick some more berries from the nearby shrub.
Further into the village was another small fruit market.
Its owner had something important in his bag.
Were I an evil person, I would scare this bird.
He would land on the fruit stand.
While Patamon was busy shooing the bird away, I could steal the treasure (a gold leaf) in his bag. However, theft would probably send out bad mojo throughout the village and screw me over somehow.
While exploring the town, I eventually bumped into Grand Chieftainess Hedela. I'll just have to take their word for it that she was in fact female. I introduced myself and she replied, "Welcome to Tensil. We are the Shodei. This is our home. You look lost, my sister. You are welcome to join our village if you do not have a family. We would embrace you as our own, my sister. Your ability to understand our language sets you apart from all the others who have wandered into our village. If you do not feel you belong here, there is a town not far from here with humans like yourself. I would tell you the location... but the knowledge requires trust, and I must trust you. Leaves are important to us, my sister. They represent life... the cycle of seasons. The Shodei are spiritual people. We chew the leaves that grow in this area to help us communicate with the spirits of our ancestors. In autumn, some of the leaves grow amber... sometimes a small number of them resemble gold. These golden leaves are valuable to us. If you collect one for each season of the year, and bring four of them back to me, I will tell your fortune, as well as provide the way to the nearest human village."
I knew it was just a matter of time before someone sent me on an arbitrary quest. Finding golden leaves seemed fairly innocuous. So off I went through the village looking for golden leaves.
In a remote corner of the market district I managed to find a silver leaf. Another silver leaf was near the other fruit market where I had the opportunity to steal. All together, I now had three silver leaves and no golden leaves.
While hunting for leaves, a little kid decided to taunt me. He said, "You must be the one looking for golden leaves. I have a golden leaf. I have lots of golden leaves. Why should I give you one?"
"I want to have my fortune told," I said.
"Fortunes are for superstitious old women. Give me a better reason."
"I'll perform some arbitrary task for the leaf." This had worked in every other situation, so I figured it would work now.
"There's nothing you can do that I can't do myself. Give me a better reason."
"I'll trade you something for the leaf instead." Certainly I could bribe the kid.
"There's nothing you have that I want. Give me a better reason."
Anger rising..."I won't beat you to a pulp if you give me the leaf."
"You're not going to hit me. You're a stranger in this village. If anyone sees you do it, they will perform 'holy gizanu' on you."
"What's 'holy gizanu?'"
"'Holy gizanu' is a torture ritual performed against those who have acted violently against the Shodei. No one is allowed to raise their hand against us, even one of our own. It involves a ball of leaves the size of a fist fruit, packed tight with thorns and sharp zipple sticks. It is soaked in the juice of fire lemons for forty-eight days. Handling the ball is very painful. Guess where the villagers shove this ball."
"I don't care, kid. Give me the leaf of I'll hit you."
"Then hit me. I dare you."
I cocked back my fist and lunged at the kid. He pleaded with me "No, wait! I don't even have a golden leaf!" But it was too late for him. Despite the Shodei's muscular appearance, they were quite fragile. My fist plunged into his skull and pushed out the other side. Turns out he only had a silver leaf after all. Despite my best attempt to clean up and hide the body, I doubt I would be able to hide my negative energy from the chieftainess. At least that's how it would have gone if I had decided to let the brat provoke me. Instead I just told him to forget it and went back to searching.
I found the Shodei's temple on the outskirts of the village. A number of tribesmen were chanting about how much Gorr sucks.
I guess the trip to the temple wasn't a complete waste, though, as I found a fourth silver leaf. Still no gold leaves.
Some ways from the temple was a Shodei child named Ramadan who appeared to be meditating. He saw me staring at him and said, "This is my rite of passage. I am very hungry. I have not eaten for two days. I must stay here until I commune with the spirit of an ancient ancestor who will give me my adult name. I will not be accepted into the village as an adult until this happens. I have already chewed a silver leaf to help in the process, but nothing has happened. I fear that a spirit will never come for me and give me a name. I will either die here, or be forced to leave the village." I gave him one of my silver leaves and wished him the best. I gave the kid a month before he was done fasting.
I also picked some more berries from the shrub next to the kid for whatever reason. I now had 9 ripe berries and three unripe.
It just so happened that someone in the village offered to trade me a gold leaf for twelve ripe ziffinberries. All I had to do was soak the three unripe berries to make them appear ripe, and... Gorr would corrupt my spirit and prevent me from leaving this village. Instead I just gave her the nine ripe ones and told her that I couldn't find any more. "Very well," he said, "Nine ziffinberries is better than no ziffinberries. Here is a silver leaf for your efforts."
Well that was probably the only cool thing about the village. I could do considerably less than what was asked of me and still get rewarded. But still I didn't have any gold leaves.
Lonato was out to change that. He was willing to exchange four of my silver leaves for a single gold leaf.
Another of the Shodei was willing to simply give me a golden leaf! That made two! But as hard as I looked, that was all that I could gather without being Gorrish, ruining my chances of success.
So I went back to Hedala with my two leaves. Maybe she would help me even though I didn't do what she asked. "I cannot tell your fortune with only two golden leaves," she said. "However, you have made good effort to collect them, so I will provide the remaining two leaves."
Sweet! Just like the other hippy, I was able to get away with doing far less than what was asked of me.
"We are ready to begin," she continued, "Close your eyes, my sister." I did so. As ridiculous as this ritual was from a scientific perspective, this was the only way out. She said, "Hold out your arm with the four leaves in your fist. Feel the collective energy of this world, and turn your focus inward. And let go. Now open your eyes. Let us see how the leaves have fallen."
"Interesting... You are an honest person. You do not alllow your needs to override your conscience. You are a peaceful soul. Your calm nature and refusal to be easily provoked are admirable. You are selfless and do not put your needs above the interests of others. The leaves have spoken, sister."
My good girl act was enough to fool her. Despite my impeccable character, she decided to lecture me some more, "The living of a life is a complicated matter, my sister. We are constantly presented with choices that run counter to our nature. You have a golden heart, my sister. Your capacity for selflessness and generosity is great. You are an admirable creature. It is without hesitation that I share with you the following information.... The leaves tell us there is a drought coming. And when there is drought, there is famine. Many of us will die. Our only hope of surviving this hardship is to band together. But there is a problem... The youth of this village are losing touch with their sense of community. The fabric of our society is falling apart. Many generations ago, there was similar discord building in the hearts of the youth, fueled by the demagogue Gorr who preached individuality over community. The only thing that saved our society was the Shii-nei, an ancient relic of immense magic. We need this symbol to reunify us..."
Yeah I can see your eyes glazing over. In short, there is a mystical Shii-nei (shiny!) relic in a temple. The catch? It's surrounded by deathtraps that nobody remembers how to solve. If only I had my father's notebook. I'm sure the solutions would be there. Also she gave me a sweet shield cell for being such a good girl.
Also, that kid managed to have his spiritual experience while I was off collecting leaves.
And with that, I went into the temple of Gorr.
The temple was everything I had hoped it would be. Spirits of the fallen haunting the traps! Cryptic symbols etched onto every wall! Seriously, it had everything. Maybe it really was my destiny to find the treasure of this temple. The spirits could even talk! They would warn me of the various dangers in the temple. This one said, "... we offend gorr by entering his domain... i died for this sin... you may not... if you see first..." I know he's dead and all, but that didn't make ellipses abuse cool.
His warning was pretty worthless, so I turned my attention to the sequence of glyphs next to the specter.
This was also fairly useless. Basically, there was a hexagonal prism in the center of the room. On all but one of the six side faces of the prism there was a glyph. Additionally, around the outside of the room were six pushable panels with the same glyphs on them. It didn't take long to figure out that I would first hit the panel with the glyph that was missing from the hexagon. The subsequent switch order would be determined by turning away from the switch that I had just hit to see which glyph was visible on the hexagon.
As I pushed the last switch in the sequence, a hole opened up in the floor behind me. How exactly did that spirit manage to die in the first room? I guess he forgot how to open up the door behind him to get out.
Another spirit and glyph tablet were at the entrance to this room. This spirit was somewhat more helpful than the last. He said, "... my soul suffers here... yours shall too... i could not see the opposites for what they were..."
The glyphs also gave me some useful information.
There were three pairs of symbols in the room along with a number of boxes in compartments. All that I had to do was to put the opposite box into the opposite symbol's box. For example, for the first pair, I would put the block with a black wheel on a white background underneath the eye and the block with the black eye on a white background underneath the wheel.
When all of the blocks were in their places, another ramp lead opened up, leading deeper into the temple.
The path opened up into a large underground cavern with a series of bridges running through it. The bridges were ancient, it was a wonder that they were still standing.
I wandered around for a while and managed to find the beginning of the bridge network. The resident spirit was even more helpful than the last two. The bridge was made out of two rows of tiles with glyphs on them. At each step of the bridge, I would have to choose either the left or the right row of glyphs.
The glyphs were the same six that I had been dealing with this whole time.
I didn't have to be too observant to know that the tiles made of giant down arrows with exclamation marks on them were bad news. According to the spirit, even the safe tiles had been so weakened with age so that I would have to choose the next tile quickly. I figured that as long as I remembered that Jehovah begins with an 'i' in Hebrew I'd be ok.
The glyphs provided the final clue that I would need for traversing the bridges.
At each step of the bridge, there was one giant symbol visible over the exit. As well as the obviously marked trap door tiles, tiles etched with the large symbol were also traps.
I quickly made it across the bridges and to my next challenge. The ghost complained of poison darts.
The glyphs, combined with the giant on the floor made me think that walking in the light was probably the correct way to avoid the dart guns.
And it was.
Only the penitent man shall pass...penitent man shall pass...penitent man...penitent man. Oh who am I kidding, there's no way I'm going through those spinning blades of death.
Enter the dumbest of the spirits, even dumber than the one who couldn't find his way back out of the first room. "...these blades took my soul in gorr's name... if only i had explored..." he said. Yeah, he decided to rush head first into spinning blades of death without looking for an alternate route.
And it just so happened that there was such an alternate path. I easily made it through the room and to my next challenge.
By now the spirits weren't even trying to be subtle, which was a welcome adjustment.
There was a fairly obvious path of light between the torches. I wondered who had been sneaking down here to relight them. Sounds like a pretty crappy job.
As long as I stayed in light, everything was fine. It was pretty sad that the temple's designers had run out of ideas for traps so quickly.
Are you sure the moon is not what it seems? Because it seemed like it wanted to fall on my head if I approached the artifact.
The glyphs more or less confirmed that fear. So I ran around to the side of object before picking it up.
Actually due to shoddy programming, the moon doesn't do anything other than make ominous sounds, even if you approach the object from the front.
...It's MysTech! Fairly uninteresting BaneSlaught MysTech at that. I ran back to the village to show Hedela.
Hedela was overjoyed when I gave her back the shiny relic. She heartily thanked me, "My prayers have been answered. Yo uare holding the holiest artifact of my people. It will remind the youth of this village that there is strength in unity... safety in community. Thank you, my sister. The Shodei are eternally grateful for your efforts. Take this map. It contains the location of the nearest human village. May you find the family you seek."
All that work and nothing to show for it but three unripe ziffinberries...
They'd make perfect souvenirs for the others!
And so ended my adventures on Tensil. It was better than sitting around The Lounge of Commerce, but it certainly didn't feel like my destiny. Better luck next time I guess. Of course the best part about all of this is that my time travel required the echo gate to be open, so there was nothing I could do except wait for us to kill Detta all over again.
End: When I first started working on this chapter, I wanted to recreate the entire campfire scene from Chrono Trigger, but I just sucked way too much at making sprites, so this is all you get (two months later).
And with that, I think I'm done with this. I know I sucked more than anyone at updating, but thanks for watching.