Part 26: Lightning Bolts & Library Books
Part 24: Lightning Bolts & Library Books
We rested for the night at Dr. Andonuts' lab. Over caveman-served hot chocolate the next morning, Dr. Andonuts started talking.
: "Ness, you know that myself and Apple Kid are looking into the nature of your enemy, correct?"
: "Apple Kid said he had figured out the enemy of us, and all humanity. It's Giygas, the reason we're on this journey in the first place."
: "Yes, that's right. I've done some research and found out a few things. It was incredibly difficult to obtain any information on Giygas, as it is not from this world."
: "So...Giygas is an alien?"
: "Yes. I've learned that its native planet is the origin of the power you possess, the psychic abilities that scientists call 'PSI'. And, this is the most shocking, I have learned that Giygas has attacked our world once already, around ten years ago."
: "Wha-Ten years ago?! What happened? How was he defeated?"
: "That, I can't tell you, hmm. There are no records of what happened."
: "So there could possibly be an entire race of Giygases backing his assault?"
: "Conceivably. I do have one theory, however. Ten years ago, a young boy and several of his friends reportedly went missing for several weeks. According to the boy's mother, he left suddenly after taking an old book of his great-grandfathers' out of a box in their basement."
: "Why is that significant?"
: "I found the name of the boy's great-grandfather in a scientific journal over 90 years old. He claimed that he and his wife had been abducted by aliens, and that during that time, they had learned the secrets of an amazing power the aliens possessed."
: "You mean PSI?"
: "Precisely. I think the doctor actually was abducted, and I think that book his great-grandson took holds the answers to our questions. Of course, we've been unable to locate the book, or the child, who would by now be in his early twenties, so we may never really know the truth."
A long silence filled the lab as we took in what Dr. Andonuts had said. Finally, Paula turned to me and spoke.
: "So we're going back to Onett now, right? I've never been there. I'd love a um, a tour."
: "Mmm, I think we should go to Dalaam first. I don't want to get too side-tracked and forget about what Poo said with the rabbits and all that weird stuff."
: "It is quite strange. But I admit, I'm very curious to see the town that has raised such a born warrior as yourself, Ness."
: "Ness...I know why you don't want to go back...But we have to. You can't stay away from home forever."
: "I know, I know...just...Not yet, alright? I need to think about it. Let's go to Dalaam. Poo, you can teleport us there, right?"
Poo nodded solemnly. We finished our breakfast and stepped out into the fresh-fallen snow. Moments later, we were skidding to a halt along a worn pathway. I blinked in the sudden brightness of the sun, and looked around. Dalaam was a beautiful land; lush green grass and blue skies. People milled about here and there, seemingly unperturbed by our entrance. Around us, clouds floated lazily, and I remembered my vision of Dalaam from when we had first met Poo. The entire kingdom was floating on soft, pink clouds.
Poo led us down a winding, zig-zag road to the edge of the floating island. There were, indeed, several black statues of large, humanoid rabbits blocking the entrance to a cave.
: "This place is the Shrine of the Pink Cloud, and has been sacred to my people for centuries. Nobody can pass through the cave. I believe it is one of your Sanctuaries, Ness. If I'm right, you'll be able to pass through the cave and reach the shrine itself."
: "And...if you're wrong?"
: "We'll be unable to defeat the spirits which guard the shrine and will most likely be killed."
I dug around in my backpack for a moment and produced the wrought-iron carrot-shaped key we had found in Fourside. Shoving aside a brief flicker of confusion wondering what in the world this key was doing in Fourside, I advanced towards the rabbits with the key outstretched.
: "How is this supposed to work? I mean, there's not even a keyhole anywhere..."
Suddenly the nearest rabbit statue reached out a stone arm and grabbed the key right out of my hands.
A smile crossed the faces of the group of rabbits, then they simply faded into nothingness.
: "That was unexpected."
: "But it's a good sign! Let's go inside."
The cave was narrow and slightly cramped, but the ceiling seemed impossibly high. Every footstep echoed and every word we spoke seemed like an explosion. Jagged cliffs were connected via worn ropes, which hung here and there. The air seemed to hum with a hidden energy, and I felt instantly that I was being watched. As I took in the cave, soft flashes of light caught my eye. They flickered here and there from no discernable source. Slightly nervous, we began to journey through the cave.
: "So, Poo, what is the 'Pink Cloud' anyway?"
: "It is the support system for our country. The pink cloud carries Dalaam through the sky, and forms the foundation of our philosophical studies."
Suddenly a flash of light illuminated the cave not three feet away from us. A small tuft of fog drifted lazily by. As we watched it, it grew and expanded, until a small cloud was floating gently through the air towards us.
: "Uh, it's not pink. What is this crap?"
I think I made it angry, because two furious eyes popped out of the fluffy white cloud and with a crash of thunder, it shot out a crackling bolt of electricity, making me leap quickly out of the way. The bolt crackled into the sandy floor of the cave and left a blackened scorch behind. I quickly drew my bat and swung at it. My bat swished through the middle of the cloud, dividing it into two halves which blew about lazily. Electricity crackled from the disjointed cloud, and I whipped my bat around ineffectively, succeeding only in making the misty cloud swirl around like smoke from a cigarette.
: "Hang on."
Paula shot a quick burst of freezing ice at the cloud, causing it to condense. The swirls of fog drifted together into a thick mass of icy crystals, which finally became too heavy to float, and crashed to the ground in a thousand pieces.
: "This place is a testing ground of the soul...Physical strength will not get us very far here."
: "I see. Uh, let's climb that rope."
Seeing as none of us really had any idea where to go, we climbed one of the long ropes suspended from the cliffs here and there. At the top, we found more soft lights illuminating the darkness of the cave. We also heard an odd sound coming from somewhere, as if someone was playing a flute somewhere very far away.
: "What's that music..?"
My question was answered as a long, snakelike creature appeared out of thin air. Its thin fingers gripped a flute, and its head was that of a humans', beard and all. It played a slow tune on its flute as it swayed in midair. I began to feel drowsy, and realized that the odd being was hypnotizing me. I tried to reach for my bat, but my arms wouldn't listen. My body grew sluggish. Around me, I could see it affecting my friends as well. Paula teetered on her feet, Jeff had drooped to his knees, and Poo was fighting his head as it dipped up and down, trying to maintain focus. My mind was still functioning, though, and I realized I had to fight back. Struggling through the haze of drowsiness threatening to overcome me, I set off a burst of PSI rocking, focusing on the new name Dr. Andonuts had given our powers to help me stay conscious. A painful shriek came from the spirits' flute as my bursting lights enveloped it, blasting it away. Released from the stupor, I shook my head and helped Jeff to his feet.
: "Don't mention it."
: "That was a tangoo, a mythical demon of the dreaming world. According to legends, they lull men to sleep and then inhabit their bodies."
: "I love this place already."
Undaunted, we continued on, and past a few more ropes, we encountered the tell-tale flicker of a Sanctuary guardian. Great, I thought, at least we didn't do all this for nothing. It would've sucked to come here and discover this wasn't even a Sanctuary.
: "Take it from me, if you dare..."
As we prepared for battle, the lights grew dim, and suddenly a bolt of lightning shot down from the sky, and a brilliant flash of light blinded us. As our eyes recovered, we saw two smoke-like spirits, one white, one yellow, entwined before us. A low laughter filled the air as they swirled about to face us.
: "Whoa! And...here I was expecting another giant rat or something!"
: "This is the final challenge, Ness! The spirit guardians of the Pink Cloud - Thunder and Storm!"
The yellow spirit swung its hand out and a violent blast of lightning came blasting out of his fingertips at us. I could feel the hair below my baseball cap standing on end as I narrowly dodged out of the way. We wasted no time attacking the spirits with a variety of psychic attacks. The spirits seemed able to weather any assault. Poo's Starstorm technique left them reeling, but within moments they were back to full steam, spitting out lightning bolts, blowing violent gusts of wind, and laughing madly. Jeff's explosives seemed to have even less effect, and his ray gun blasts were easily evaded by the wispy-thin spirits.
I was wondering what we were going to do about these enemies, when Paula decided to surprise us. Apparently she had learned a new trick somewhere along the way, because after dodging one of the spirit's lightning bolts, she aimed her hands at them and fired of a crackling electrical blast of her own. She must have surprised the guardian, because the bolt hit it head-on and it wavered in the air, its mask-like grin contorting into a pained grimace. Suddenly an idea hit me.
: "Paula! Nice one! I have an idea! You guys keep it occupied for a minute!"
I slung my backpack to the ground and quickly began rummaging through it. I tossed aside a pencil eraser, an eraser eraser and the crinkled wrappers of two or three peanut cheese bars as Jeff's bazooka once again shook the earth with its explosions.
: "Jeez, Jeff! Try not to collapse the cave on us!"
: "Hey, large explosions are a great way to distract something!"
Finally, underneath a crumpled travel brochure from Summers, my hand closed on a small, metallic disk. Quickly, I stood up and faced the spirits.
: "Hey! Thunder and Storm! I'm right here, come and get me!"
My friends turned and looked at me like I was insane. As I expected, the spirits turned to me and shot off a terrible blast of electricity right at me. I stood my ground.
: "Ness! What are you doing?"
: "Everybody, get out of the way!"
Paula knew what I was planning. I guess it made sense, after all, she gave me the Franklin Badge way back in Twoson. Here we were, on the other side of the world in a dangerous cave on a floating land, it was saving my butt again. The attack reflected off the badge pinned to my shirt and was sent streaming through the air right back at the amazed spirits. An ear-splitting crack split the air as the bolt coursed through their gaseous bodies, which finally disintegrated into nothingness. The soft light returned to the cave, and a door appeared in the rock behind the guardian.
Boss Battle: Thunder and Storm
Google Video / Backup
: "Nice thinking, Ness!"
: "Well, seeing your thunderbolt actually hurt them was what gave me the idea. Besides, if you hadn't given me that badge, I'd have been fried...so thanks, Paula."
: "I am truly impressed! You won because of your courage, quick thinking, and your friends. If you're not worthy of seeing the Shrine itself, then nobody is. Come, let us proceed."
Tossing the erasers back in my backpack, I joined my friends as we stepped through the door and found ourselves walking on air...
Almost, anyway. A soft, spongy pink cloud stretched out before us, and as we stepped out onto it and looked around, we could see how it stretched around the rocky underside of Dalaam, supporting it miles above the earth.
: "Wow...This is impressive."
I felt the Sound Stone in my pocket reverberate with another segment of the melody, which by now was almost complete. I could feel it; we were nearing the end of our journey. Beyond the Deep Darkness lay the Lost Underworld. According to the hieroglyphs, that was where our enemies were waiting. There was no way to put it off any longer. I had to go back to Onett, or we would never be able to save the world.
I was brought out of my deep thought by Paula gently tapping my shoulder.
: "Ness...Are you ready to go?"
: "Yeah. I can't wait forever. Let's go get that book!"
A quick teleport later, we screeched to a halt in front of the Onett Library, in the familiar grassy green fields just down the road from my house.
: "I can't let any of the cops see me, so we've got to be careful and do this quick. Come on, guys."
I ducked inside the library, feeling extremely paranoid. My friends followed, and we began searching the shelves for the book "Overcoming Shyness". Of course, Apple Kid hadn't told us who wrote the book, and Onett's library was arranged by the author's name, so we had a tough time ahead of us. As we searched the shelves, I told my friends a little bit about Onett.
: "At one point a few years back, every road in Onett was closed at the same time. That's what got us in the record books."
: "Nice. Twoson's famous for its nightly Runaway Five performances...or I guess it used to be, heh."
: "I look forward to meeting your family when we are done here, Ness."
My heart sank into my stomach.
: "No...We can't see my family. Not yet, not now."
: "Ness! You're being crazy! Your mom has got to be worried sick about you!"
: "Yeah, besides, don't you think you could handle it if the cops tried to throw you in jail? I mean, you beat up five of them once, and you're a lot stronger now. Plus we're all on your side."
: "Sure, I could beat up every cop in town. But I'm not a bully like Frank was, and I don't want to take over Onett with my powers. I can't stay here forever. I have to go back to the Deep Darkness with you guys once we're done here, and what happens then? If I mess some cops up, what are they going to do once I leave town? You think they're just going to accept that I won and go on their way? They're going to make life in Onett hell for my mom and little sister...Just because of me. I'd rather make them worry a little bit longer than see my mom get taken in by the cops. That's why I can't risk it. That's why I've got to find this book, and get out of here as fast as I can."
My friends looked at me, deep in thought. Jeff mumbled "sorry" under his breath, and went back to the shelves.
: "I'm sorry, Ness. You're right. I just...I guess I was just looking forward to hanging out here with you for a little bit."
: "I promise, Paula, once all this is over...I'll treat you to a burger in town and let my mom show you all the horribly embarrassing baby pictures she can find."
She giggled at that and her face turned slightly pink.
: "Okay. It's a date."
After what seemed like hours, we finally found the book. After my friends assured me the coast was clear, I stuck my head out of the library into the orange light of the setting sun. Moments later, we were gone, teleporting back to the shy Tenda's village with their salvation in my backpack.
Next time: Sippin' on Tenda Tea! Don't miss it!