The Let's Play Archive

Mother 3

by Maple Leaf

Part 4: Chapter 4

This update took way longer than it had any right to be.

Their attempts to find an alternate way around the mountain was in as many pieces as the rock bridge that connected the way from one side to the other. It looked like that rampaging Drago had destroyed it in its haste, and with it gone, there was no safe way across on top of the mountain. They had to turn back.

They were silent as they made their way back down the ladder made of staples. The recent events were playing through their minds quickly, trying to make sense of everything that had happened. Two men, wearing odd uniforms, constructed some kind of device, then captured an animal and…changed it. They made it more metal and less flesh, and it was extremely aggressive. And going by the notebook Flint had picked up, it looked like they weren't going to stop with that caribou, either.

Right underneath their noses, their peaceful home had come under attack and was threatened to change into something it wasn't. Fires and accidents they could prepare for, but they didn't even know there were other places on the planet at all; invasion was far from anyone's mind.

They didn't say a word between them as they returned to the base of the mountain. Maybe Bronson, Lighter and Isaac had moved the trees by now. Any good news would have been extremely welcome after everything that was happening so far.

Bateau and Jonel weren't waiting for them at the base; the only people that were still there were Wess, Biff, and Butch. He was on his way straight to Bronson and the others to help move the trees, if they still needed it. No point in doing nothing else, after all.

"Flint!" Jonel yelled, running excitedly up to him the moment he was in eyesight. He had a big smile on his face, obvious that he had some good news to give to Flint.

"You did?!" Flint asked loudly, his demeanor taking a massive spin once Jonel said those words. "Where are they? All they alright?"

"It looks like they fell into the river and washed up nearby," he explained. He was talking very quickly, and his hands were making exaggerated gestures as he spoke. He was clearly as enthused about it as Flint. "They're wet and cold, but it looks like they're just fine. You run on ahead, Flint, I'll look after Boney. Tessie's tending to them right now, but they're looking for you as much as you are for them."

Flint didn't need to hear any more; he began sprinting down the road, eager to meet his children after the hell they must have been through for the night. At the thought of his kids being alright, he nearly completely forgot about his wife Hinawa until he heard Jackie shout out to him as he bolted past.

Just ahead was Abbot, who was looking out for Flint to pass on the good news as well. "Flint! Duster!" he called, waving to them as they approached. "This way! This way!" he encouraged, turning his back and moving his arm in a 'come with me' way as he began running down the trail ahead of them, leading Flint to the camp where his kids were.

"Where are they?" he huffed loudly over his breath, puffing evenly with his long strides. Just around a small bend in the path was a wide clearing next to the river, where the rest of the villagers had made a small gathering. There was a great big bonfire in the middle, where everyone huddled around, and just to the side was a small clothesline hitched up by two sticks, where he could see Lucas's favorite yellow-with-blue-stripes shirt and Claus's orange-with-green-stripes drip-drying on the line.

Isaac and Tessie were paying close attention to two smaller kids wrapped in brown, thick blankets, the four of them keeping close to the fire to stay warm. When they heard Flint's call for his kids, they both turned around to give their father space, and for the kids to pivot to see their dad.

Lucas was nearly beginning to sob right away, while Claus was doing his best to choke his tears back. Flint, for all his character, was doing his best to follow Claus's example. They weren't gone long, but with invaders and forest fires and reconstructed animals and everything that's happened in general, it was a grating episode on his emotions.

Nobody made any move to say anything to the family, watching the father and two kids share an embrace, listening to Lucas hiccup through his tears. There was a bit of a silence before Tessie, in her best nurturing voice, said "I made some Innit Tea, Flint. Please have some; it'll warm you up."

Flint said nothing at first, though he did hear her just fine. He held his boys closer to him for just a moment longer before standing up again. "Thanks, Tessie," he said through a deep sniff. Now that she mentioned it, he was pretty chilly, thanks to the rain.

"In fact," she said louder, addressing everyone in the group,

Everybody had their tea, and they were all feeling reinvigorated, helping them push on to find Hinawa during the early hours of the morning. Flint tried time and again for the boys to say anything: about what had happened, or where their mother was, or anything at all. But all Lucas could say was Flint's title, and Claus said nothing at all - he seemed to be fairly deep in thought, as if he was trying to figure something out.

Flint knew better than to dig at his boys, though. If they didn't want to say anything right now, that was their call. Their night must not have been any easier on them than it was on him. But the fact that they wouldn't even talk about their mother was a bit concerning.

Just as Flint was feeling warmed up and ready to start looking for his wife again, Bronson came blitzing straight down the northern path, yelling his name. Given Bronson's worried urgency, he was probably bearing bad news.

"Flint…" he gasped, bending over to ease the weariness in his legs. He wasn't that great at running. "I," he sputtered and gasped. He couldn't have been running that long - was he really that out of shape? "I don't know what to say."

"Just say it," he said. It was obviously about Hinawa in some way, since the kids were alright. He just hoped Bronson was speechless in a good way.

"Okay." He was slowly beginning to catch his breath, and stood up straight once he could. "But, just stay calm and hear me out on this. I have good news," he counted, lifting his fingers as he tallied, "and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first?"

Flint could feel his pulse quicken at Bronson's options. "The good news," he said quickly, hoping the good news would calm his nerves for the bad. The crowd, except for Claus and Lucas, began to crowd in, eager to hear what Bronson had to say.

"I figured you could probably use it, now that things are starting to get a little out of hand here. It's just a little ways north from here, in the clearing up ahead. You couldn't miss it." A Drago fang as a weapon was a pretty good idea - there wasn't a whole lot one of those fangs couldn't puncture. The challenge was actually getting one out of a Drago's mouth.

"As for the bad news…" Bronson started, clearly apprehensive with his words, choosing them carefully. "…the bad news is…" he stalled. "The news, which is bad, that I am about to tell you, is…it's about…where I found the Drago fang." Bronson's own heart was pounding in his ears, and for good reason. He'd hate whoever had to pass on this news to himself too. "It…" he kept stuttering, nearly unable to say it. "It was…in your…" He had to look away. He couldn't keep looking in Flint's eyes.

"It was pierced through your wife's heart…"


Flint lay awake on the cold stone floor of Tazmily's only prison cell in its only prison, face down. He had been awake for about an hour, his head throbbing and his neck sore. He didn't ask for any medicines to calm his pains, though - he remembered everything he did, every mistake he made at the camp. He was too ashamed to even look at Bronson through the iron bars of the window. The only thing he didn't remember was how he was knocked unconscious.

"You have the honor of being the first." Bronson's tone was not light, but he did not scold Flint. He was a grown man; he understood the consequences of his behavior. "You gave Ollie and Abbot a real beating, Flint. Abbot's got a bruise the size of my head and Ollie's missing a tooth. But they'll both live." Flint didn't respond: he only lay there silently, absorbing Bronson's words.

Hinawa…how would she have reacted if she had seen Flint the way he was? The way he lost control so violently? Knowing how easy and understanding that woman was, she probably would have consoled him and sympathized with him. And now she was gone forever…

"Still, what would make a Drago want to attack a human, huh?" Bronson asked, knowing Flint wasn't going to respond. "They're usually such friendly, loving creatures. It's weird to see one as riled up as it was."

Bronson walked back to his desk on the far corner of the tiny building, fetching a key from a small hook hanging just above it on the wall. "Take it easy in there for a while," he said, turning back towards the door. "You're a good man, Flint, and I know you were just…lost, without Hinawa, even if it was just for a minute. But you still beat the crap out of those two. I know it's tough to think about, but try to get some rest in there."

Just as he began to turn the knob on the door, he stopped, suddenly remembering something. "That Drago fang that was in Hin - that I told you about at camp. It's on the desk here. Just take it when you leave." And without another word, he was gone.

Flint, alone in the prison building for the first time since he woke up, finally got up the energy (or perhaps the nerve) to pull himself to his feet. His muscles were all cramped and his neck felt like it was ready to tear off, but he could at least take a look around his new live-in room for a bit. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot to see: it had two barred windows facing outdoors to the grassy hills outside, a single wooden table, and a heavy, steel-plated door with a rusted lock.

Why they would give him a table with no chair and nothing to write or read with was beyond him.

There was nothing to entertain him at all in the cell. There were no tiles in the floor or the ceiling for him to count. There were no other tools or implements for him to keep himself busy, like a pen or a pencil or anything. He still had everything he had on him at the time of the incident, at least, which included a small ball of doughy nut bread and some beef jerky, so he wasn't hungry at least. But with absolutely nothing to do but reflect on his crime, he did what he figured anyone else would do in the same situation: he simply paced back and forth.

Only about an hour had passed since then, with nothing to keep him company except the chirping from the sparrows just outside his window and his own thoughts, when the door began to slowly and loudly creak open on its rusted hinges. At first he thought it was Bronson, but whoever was opening the door was doing it slowly, like they knew they weren't supposed to. A quick peek out his window told him who it was.

"What are you doing here?" Flint asked, bringing himself closer to the bars, instinctively trying to get closer to his son. "Does Bronson know you're here?"

"No," Claus answered without a pause. "And I actually told Lucas to come too,

Claus reached into his pants pocket, withdrawing a bright red, recently washed apple. It was a Red Delicious, but it had these really obvious marks and holes all around it. It didn't necessarily look unhealthy - there wasn't a bruise on it, or any sign of rot at all - but it was clearly…different from the bunch. "Dad, I'm going to leave this here," he said, placing the apple on the windowsill to the cell. "The core might be a little hard and tough, but…" Claus fumbled with his words, trying to be discreet with his messages.

Flint took the apple from the windowsill. It weighed quite a bit more than an apple should. "I'm gonna get stronger," Claus suddenly blurted. "I'm gonna…get so strong that even the Drago's won't stand a chance against me!"

Flint looked from the apple back to Claus. Claus was always a headstrong boy, running into trouble without ever looking back, but he couldn't…plan what Flint thought he was planning, could he? Tears were beginning to well up in the boy's eyes. "Claus?" he asked, but before he could get another word in, Claus had run off, knowing his father would try to dissuade the ideas he was getting in his head. "Claus!" he yelled, but Claus was gone, the door to the prison shutting behind him.

With no way to pursue his kid, he could only do what he was asked to: eat the peculiar apple in his hand. Aside from all the odd cuts and divots in it, it looked healthy enough to eat, at least. He wasn't particularly hungry after eating some of his spare jerky from an hour ago, but Claus's hint wasn't very subtle.

He took a single bite out of it, and immediately his teeth chomped into something incredibly hard.

It must have taken Claus a lot of effort to dig it into the apple so well without splitting the whole thing in half.

It was clear what the boy wanted Flint to do with it, but already he was having morality problems with it; he had committed a crime, and he felt awful enough about it that being thrown in jail for some time was justifiable. But at the same time, he had already lost Hinawa, and now Claus was saying something about getting stronger than Dragos. He couldn't risk losing his boy, too.

He ran the file over the rusted lock on the door repeatedly. Time and negligence had weakened the lock considerably, and it only took a few quick saws before the lock was split in half, and the door swung open easily.

Just before he left the prison, he checked the desk in the back of the room. Sure enough, there was a polished Drago fang lying on it, with one end fashioned into a strong grip and the other sharpened into a stronger piercing weapon. It was Bronson's unspoken trust to Flint, to give it to him straight out of prison like this. He'll have to thank him later.

He came running out the door to the prison, his head and his neck still sore from his earlier beating. He was going to make a quick left, running back into Tazmily's square, before he was cut off by Duster standing guard just outside the building.

"Flint…" he said, looking into the man's eyes. "I'm not really sure what to say…"

"I can't say I know how you're feeling, but I want you to know that you have everybody's sympathy. Ollie and Abbot aren't even mad." Flint said nothing in response, and he made no effort to run past Duster - even with his bum knee, Duster was able to keep up with him and Boney in the mountains, so by no means was he incapable.

"Hinawa's funeral ended without incident. Lucas has been crying at her grave ever since." Flint went wide-eyed at the news. Even though , well, he was in jail, he wouldn't have expected the village to go ahead with his own wife's funeral without him. And poor Lucas had nobody to run to right now. "His poor little heart seems like it's about to break in two."

Duster leaned back, allowing Flint to pass. "Your kids have lost their mom, you've lost your wife, and the village was robbed of one of their own. I was asked to stand here and make sure you didn't leave until the mayor let you out, but I figure, with everything that's happened, your time has been served."

The first thing Flint was going to do was head to the graveyard: Lucas was probably still there, if Duster was telling the truth. Then he had to go find Claus before he did anything childish. "Duster," he grunted on his way past, stopping to look the thief in the eye himself. "Thanks." And he ran off.

The village square was less-than-bustling with activity for midday; a bunch of people weren't there, having gone to visit Hinawa's grave up north. Although from the stares he was getting from the people that were still there, it was pretty clear his self-imposed reprieve from prison wasn't a popular decision.

Abbot's house was nearby, and Ollie lived only a stone's throw away - he considered stopping by to apologize for his rash behavior earlier, but he decided against it: it was too early, and it would just be awkward for everybody involved. He promised himself to talk to them about it eventually, but for now, he had to get himself to the graveyard.

The grounds were maintained by old man Nippolyte. He was always busy with the area doing something or another: digging new graves, maintaining old ones, watering what grass and flowers managed to grow in the dreary gray dirt, and anything else that needed doing. He was hard at work, digging a new hole just beyond the front gates to the graveyard, although Flint couldn't guess for what. He probably didn't need his help to find Hinawa's grave since it was probably still surrounded by most of the villagers, but Nippolyte always wanted everyone to check in to him before they went stomping away on his work.

"Nippolyte," Flint said briskly, approaching the old man. Nippolyte looked away from his shovel as he pounded it in to the earth with his foot, looking at Flint.

There was a bit of a silence between them. Flint had hoped this conversation wouldn't get as awkward as it had already. "Thanks," he said finally, although it sounded cheap and he knew it.

"I know this isn't the best of conversational topics," Nippolyte continued, trying to ease the atmosphere between them, "but, you're in a graveyard, and what's happened has happened. Your wife is resting there now. Hopefully, you won't join her for many years yet." He turned to face the direction of the grave. "Your wife's got one heck of a turnout for her funeral, I gotta say. Nearly the whole village is there. You should go pay her a visit."

"I will," Flint replied, but continued before he left. "Is Lucas still there?"

"He and Claus were there since the beginning. He'll probably be the last to leave. Claus got all huffy after we finished lowering her casket and rushed off, though."

"Thanks." He continued ahead, a bit somberly towards his wife's grave. What was he going to say to Lucas? How was he going to calm Claus?

It wasn't hard at all to find her grave, thanks to the throngs of people still gathered around. Even with so many people, though, there wasn't a sound among them, barring the occasional sobs and sniffles from man and woman alike. Matt, rather disrespectfully, was still carrying a booze bottle with him, even in the graveyard. Flint was about to say something, when he overheard the tail end of his conversation with Jill, and decided to leave it.

Unlike back in the square, everybody was more focused on Hinawa and her tragedy than they were on Flint's release from his cell. When he came into view, none of them tried to scold him or send him back; they only offered words of apologies and condolences as he made he was to her tombstone.

Farther still was the rest of the villagers, including Thomas, Isaac, Lighter, and of course, Hinawa's father, old man Alec. Lucas was on his hands and knees in front of the tombstone, and his little restrained sobs and hiccups were the loudest of them all. He was being a little trooper, trying to hold back his tears, which was unlike him, but he wasn't fooling anybody. He avoided speaking to Lucas first, opting to give the boy more time with his mother, but he didn't know if it was because he wanted Lucas to cope for a bit more, or because he wanted to avoid having to look into those sad eyes of his yet. He approached Alec first - he would be easier to relate to with their shared loss.

"I haven't been to the village in a while, but I ran as fast as my old legs could take me when I heard about Hinawa." Alec spoke so perfectly casually, like he was just talking about the last batch of crops he had grown. Flint could tell that Alec was probably hit harder about it than he had.

Alec turned back to the grave, staring out over the cliff and into the wild expanse below. "Just after I had such a wonderful time with my grandkids, too," he lamented, his voice cracking. Maybe it was just easier if he wasn't looking at anybody. Flint could understand that.

Alec didn't say anything more. He brought his hand to his eyes and began to softly rub them, trying to clear them of their tears. He made no other obvious movement. "Sorry," he said shakily to no one in particular.

Once Alec felt he had composed himself enough, he turned back to Flint, hoping the gleam in his glasses would hide the redness in his eyes. "Say, come to think of it, where's Claus? Isn't he with you?

"He's not with me," Flint replied lowly, trying to keep his voice quiet enough so that the others couldn't overhear. "I may need your help later, Alec."

"Ah, right. Claus is who he is, and all that." He turned back to Lucas, kneeling on one leg to bring himself to the boy's level. "Lucas," he said gently, "do you know where Claus went?"

Lucas stopped his sniffling long enough to reply. He turned his father - his face was a mess from all his crying. His eyes were bloodshot, his nose was runny, and his hair was all matted down on his forehead. His father…the last person in the whole island he felt he could totally trust with his own emotions. But he also made a promise to his brother.

"Lucas!" Alec scolded immediately, seeing through the lie easily. "It's not good to keep secrets from people!" Lucas recoiled quickly, averting his eyes to the ground and he began sniffling loudly once more. "Don't tell me Claus went after the Drago!"

"Alec!" responded Flint, raising his voice uncharacteristically. "Give Lucas a break! His mom-" He stopped himself before he wound up saying anything insensitive.

"N-n-n-no!" Lucas shouted back, putting up his best in front of the adults. "He didn't take dad's homemade knife and go into the mountains to kill the Drago!"

There was a chilling silence among everybody at the reception, and Lucas immediately clamped his hands over his mouth, realizing what he had said.

"Does Claus honestly think a homemade knife can kill a Drago?! They're barely good enough for whittling wood! He may as well just use his hands against a Drago's scales!" He turned to Flint, who wasn't dealing with the surprise any better than he was, and quickly back to Lucas. "Why didn't you try and stop him?!"

Lucas took a moment to respond, knowing that Alec and Flint weren't going to like his next answer any better. "Because, I…

Flint brought both his hands to his cheeks in disbelief, running his fingers across the bridge of his nose. He was that close to losing both his kids at once, and he didn't even know it! For the first time, he was happy Lucas was as timid as he was.

"So you just let him go?!" Alec kept yelling, and this time, Flint didn't stop him. "What were you thinking?"

Lucas didn't have an answer. He only did what he could.

"Maybe I was a little too harsh," Alec admitted.

"I can't say I'm not worried," Flint said. "Claus has gotten one heck of an idea in his head this time."

"Going into the mountains, to kill the Drago that killed his mom? With just a whittling knife? We're in a race against time, but this can't be any ordinary Drago we're dealing with here. Something must have happened to it if it got mad enough to attack a human."

Flint remembered the caribou in the mountains, and those weird men with the masks, and what they were doing to it. "I have an idea what's wrong with it," he said, readjusting his hat, "but I can't say for certain. Let's head back to your place, Alec. We can start looking for Claus there."

"Sounds like a plan."