Part 28: The Land Before Mind
Part 26: The Land Before Mind
Our screams were lost in the wind whipping past us as we plummeted towards the ground at unthinkable speeds, flailing helplessly. I didn't even have time to be confused as to how a hole deep underground had dropped us apparently several hundred feet in the sky. My brain was running on pure panic mode.
Below us, the clouds were thinning as we got closer and closer to the land. A massive green expanse, dotted with leafy trees and jagged mountains, spread out in an impressive vista that would, in a matter of moments, have the added charm of four smooshed kids as well. Something in my brain kicked me in the butt and I snapped out of my terror. I realized we had only one shot of surviving this.
: "Everybody! Grab onto me!"
My friends reached out toward me and we all clustered together. I enveloped us in a shimmering purple shield.
: "Paula! Poo! Use your psychic powers, try to slow us down! Jeff...um, cross your fingers!"
I reached downward with my mind and felt Paula and Poo's thoughts doing the same. Together, we did our best to grip the falling bubble and slow it down. I could feel us slowing, as we strained with all our might. Sweat broke out on our faces, and my head started to throb. We were slowing more, now, but would it be enough? We would know in a matter of seconds.
The impact knocked us all to the floor of the psychic shield-bubble. Our concentration broken, it evaporated, leaving us in the dusty impact crater, shaking, sore, and banged-up, but uninjured.
: "Holy cow...Is anyone hurt?"
: "Amazingly, no. It looks like that did the trick. Incredible job, you guys!"
: "Ugh, my head is killing me. Where the heck are we?"
I looked up, expecting to see a rocky cavern ceiling, but if there was one, it was far too high to see. As far as I could tell, we might as well have been outside.
: "I'd say we found the Lost Underworld."
We climbed out of the crater and looked around. The landscape was lush, green, and primordial, with trees, overgrown grasses, and small, steaming geysers dotting the land. Insects buzzed around and birds rustled the bushes, giving the whole place the feeling of being alive.
: "Wow. What are we supposed to be doing here, anyway?"
: "I don't know."
: "The hieroglyph says that we must reach a "Place out of Time" which is beyond the Lost Underworld..."
: "It seems like this place is far enough out of time on its own, if you ask me."
: "Yes, aren't there sightings of dinosaurs supposedly originating from this place?"
: "Yeah, that's what the Tenda said. Let's get a move on. Nothing to be gained from sitting here talking about it."
Picking a direction arbitrarily, we set off. The air was thick and humid, and every so often a geyser nearby would go off, blasting us with pleasantly refreshing mist before the spout retreated back into the earth. We had been walking for maybe two or three hours when we spotted something huge and purple in the distance.
: "Oh, man, oh, man...Do you guys see that?"
: "D'you think that's...a dinosaur?"
As we watched, a long neck craned up and a small head peered around. Even from where we were, we could feel the earth shaking as the creature plodded forward.
: "I'd say so. Uh, Jeff, do you know what kind of dinosaur that is?"
: "Uh, not as such, no. Prehistoric life was never a terribly enthralling field of study for me."
: "I wonder if it can see us."
: "I don't think-"
My reply was cut short by a bellowing roar from the purple behemoth. The pounding of its footsteps intensified and it began heading in our direction.
: "Oh crap."
We ran. The dinosaur plodded after us, huge as it was, it was obvious it would catch up soon. I hurled a PSI flash at it, which exploded in a brilliant blast of light, dazing the monstrosity. We took the opportunity and took off running.
We ran until our sides ached and finally, we collapsed, panting, to the ground.
: "I...*gasp*...I think we lost him."
Suddenly, a noise from behind us made us jump.
: "Hey! What are you guys doing in there?!"
: "I-It's a Tenda! What are you doing here?!"
The little green fellow sniffed at the air.
: "Hey, you guys smell good. Quick, get out of there."
: "Out of...what?"
: "You're in the dinosaur cage! Get out of there unless you want to be dino-chow!"
He gestured towards a gap in the fence, and we hurried behind it. A couple of other Tendas were milling about in the small village.
: "You know, for a Tenda, you're awfully talkative."
: "Yeah, all the Tenda in the Lost Underworld moved here because we couldn't take the silence up above."
: "So there's more of you guys down here?"
: "Oh, yeah, there's a big village of Tenda, but you've got to walk through the dinosaur cage to get to it. Very dangerous."
: "Well, I think we've got to get there anyway. I uh, don't guess you have a map of this place?"
The Tenda produced a ratty piece of paper with a crudely drawn map on it.
: "This little squiggle is us, here, and this bigger squiggle is the other village of Tendas. Everything in between here is dinosaur country. Here, you guys can take this."
We took our leave of the Tenda and resumed our trek through the grassy underworld. Doing our best to follow the hand-drawn map, we hooked around a large, craggy mountain ridge and walked to the west.
We had been walking for a while, when we became aware of a low rumbling that seemed to be getting steadily louder. At first, we put it off to the frequent geyser eruptions, but as we walked, it grew louder and louder.
: "What IS that?"
: "It can't be footsteps. It never stops!"
Off in the distance was a huge orb of stone with a bug-eyed, grinning face set into its front. It was rolling around, causing the constant rumbling we had been hearing.
: "Now that is no dinosaur."
: "No. What the heck is that thing?"
: "Whatever it is, it's rolling this way!"
With a low roaring noise, the huge orb started coasting along the ground towards us.
Jeff started chucking bombs at it. The small explosions broke off chunks of the rock and caused it to wobble on its path. It veered off to one side, crushing some small trees, and started to turn back towards us for another go. Jeff had taken out his pack and was trying to assemble his bazooka to blast the rock apart.
: "Let's try to give Jeff some time, guys."
The three of us each fired psychic assaults at the rock, trying to stall its forward momentum. Explosions burst along the sides of the rampaging stone, and small cracks appeared in its now enraged face. There was a small crack from beside me. I looked and just had time to see a small rocket sail through the air from the muzzle of Jeff's bazooka. A moment later a great howl of anger went up from the rock, and a huge explosion went off right where its face had been. Shards of rock rained down from the sky, and the wounded behemoth began rolling away from us.
: "Phew. Man, that was strange."
We started on our way again, keeping our eyes above the treetops, as that seemed to be where everything nasty would be found. After some time, we saw a tall wooden fence with a big gate, like the Tenda's 'dinosaur cage' from before.
: "This looks like the place."
: "Hey! What are you doing inside our dinosaur cage?"
: "Running from dinosaurs, mostly. Can we come in?"
: "That smell...It's Tendakraut! I'd recognize it anywhere. You guys are welcome here! Any friend of the Tendas is!"
: "You want it? Here, you can have it."
I handed the Tenda my thermos of Tendakraut, and his eyes shone with joy.
: "Come on in! Meet everybody. We have a bunch of Tendas living here, as well as a talking rock."
: "A talking rock! Where's he at?"
The Tenda pointed over in the distance, where a large grey rock sat serenely among the bustling Tendas. We thanked the Tenda, who was slurping the Tendakraut noisily, and headed for the back of the village.
: "Yeah. Sorry, it's been kind of a rough time since we fell out of the sky..."
: "I'm going to tell you something very important. You may want to take notes. Ready?...You're the chosen one. Your destiny is not only yours, it's the destiny of the whole universe. There will come a time in which all of you in the universe will overlap each other."
: "It's not necessary for you to understand now. Do you remember "Giant Step" in Onett? That was the first of Your Sanctuaries. These are spots which give you power and allow you to realize all of your skills. You must reach all of the eight power spots in the world..."
: "We've actually been to seven of them already."
: "When the Sound Stone records the melodies of all eight power spots, you can finally see "Your World". The last spot you seek is nearby. "Fire Spring", located southwest of here. If you do not fail, you may upset Giygas' plans...Understand, Ness? The time when the destiny of you and the whole universe will overlap...It is fast approaching."
I took a deep breath. We were close.
: "Fire Spring, huh. Well, what do you say guys? Do you want to head for it now, or do we need to rest here for a bit?"
: "Let's go! I can't wait to do this."
: "I agree. Let us see this task through."
: "Yes. It's time to be done with this."
: "Alright. Let's move out."
We bid farewell to the Tendas and began heading southwest. After about fifteen minutes, we spotted a cave.
: "Man, that was fast. Let's go check it out."
What we found inside was not what we had expected. It was nothing more than a jagged cliff, overlooking a strange plateau. An odd cone seemingly made of steel snaked out of the ground, and to the left, a demolished orb of metal that almost looked like the Sky Runner lay cracked and broken. It was rusted and looked ancient.
: "What in the world?"
: "What a strange device. I wish I could get closer."
As there was no way to get down without leaping off the cliff, we tore ourselves away from this bizarre sight and resumed our trek southwest.
Soon, we came to another cave that seemed to be set in the base of a tall mountain. Plumes of smoke curled out of the top. We had found Fire Spring. We stepped inside the dormant volcano, full of dread and anticipation. Nobody, even Buzz Buzz, had seemed to know exactly what would happen when the Sound Stone absorbed the final melody, and I was more than a little nervous.
The heat inside the cave was overwhelming. Pools of hot lava bubbled here and there and streams of it trickled down the wall. Small flames leapt out of the pools and danced about as if they were alive. We climbed up a gritty rope, sweat beading on our foreheads, and made our way up to the higher levels of the cave.
Before us, a flaming pool of magma sputtered and spewed forth a splotch of lava that oozed slowly toward us. As it approached us, we saw a ghostly face shimmering on the surface. It looked like the flames were alive after all.
: "Let me handle this."
As expected, Paula's proficiency with psychic ice made her more than a match for the flaming creature. The icy-cold air cooled the magma until the flames died and the creature was frozen solid.
We explored in silence. I think my friends were as nervous as I was about what lay ahead. As we climbed to the top of the spring, a flickering light reminded us we still had a battle ahead of us before we would be able to discover what would happen.
Out of the hole behind us, a mournful howling noise chilled us to the bone. We backed off a bit and a glowing red light emanated from the darkness. We heard a feral growling coming from the cave, and saw two yellow eyes.
: "Yikes. Careful, everyone."
As we backed nervously from the cave entrance, we saw the Guardian for the first time. It was a huge wolflike dog, its body seemingly engulfed in fire. It left small, flaming footprints on the rocks behind it. It snarled at us and leapt into the air, fangs bared. Paula was ready for it, and a burst of ice crystals sailed through the air, catching the dog as it lunged for us. The dog hit the ground with a yelp, and turned back to growl at us. Steam rose from its body where the ice had cooled its flames. Poo followed up with a blast of ice of his own, and the dog howled as the ice pelted him.
: "Hey, keep it up! Hold him in place, I'll launch some ordnance."
Jeff pulled out a bottle rocket and launched it at the dog, which was hunkering under the icy blasts of Paula and Poo's PSI ice. There was an explosion, which we all expected, and then something we didn't. A blinding rainbow of light erupted from the explosion, and the force knocked us to the ground. When we could see again, a shimmering creature stood before us, snarling triumphantly. The dog had seemingly shed its flaming 'skin', and underneath was a gleaming, angular beast that looked like animated diamond or crystal. My jaw dropped as the dog leapt for my throat. Out of instinct, I lashed out with my PSI powers, and succeeded in blasting the dog backwards against the wall. Its super-dense body shattered the rock and hit the floor seemingly undamaged.
The dog shook its shining head, and snarled at me through crystal teeth. Suddenly it was engulfed in flames, as Paula renewed her assault.
: "If we heat it up, it might melt, or something! It's worth a shot!"
Jeff had loaded his bazooka up and launched a shell at the dog. It exploded at its feet, sending the beast reeling through the air once again, a smoking crater where it had been standing. The creature yelped again as it bounced off the ground, scraping a path as it slid to a halt. Tiny cracks had appeared in its body. It looked like we were making some progress after all.
: "Everyone, let's hit it at once! Let's shatter this thing! On three!"
Jeff loaded a new shell into his bazooka.
: "One! Two!"
The dog staggered to its feet, shaking its head in a daze.
Paula and Poo shot twin blasts of PSI fire, and I hit it with the full force of my powers. The dog was pinned to the floor. Jeff aimed carefully and squeezed his trigger. I shielded my eyes from the massive explosion, but before I looked away, I saw the dim outline of the dog in the flames splinter and burst into shards. The explosion rocked the cave and sent shards of crystalline diamonds sailing everywhere.
Boss Battle: Carbon Dog/Diamond Dog
: "Look out!"
A sudden, stabbing pain in my chest made me double over. I dropped to my knees on the ground.
: "Augh! G...guys..."
I looked down and saw a gleaming piece of the dog had stabbed me in the chest. My shirt was ripped and a deep red stain was slowly spreading from it. I fell to the ground and the room started spinning.
: "Ness! NESS! Oh my God, you guys!"
: "Hang on, Ness!"
The world grew dark, and I heard Paula screaming, "The sanctuary! Get him to the sanctuary!" as I passed out, and everything went dark.
Next time: Ness wakes up...somewhere! Don't miss it!