The Let's Play Archive

Mother 3

by Maple Leaf

Part 10: Chapter 8

Busy week and busier weekend! It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, eh, so I 'pologize aboot this update bein' so late, eh, but it's oot of me hands!

With the urn tucked protectively in his arms, he began the long process of walking all the way back to the first floor, avoiding as many encounters as he could and sidestepping all the threats. On the way back, he decided against having to climb two sets of Wall Staples to leave the place - he was on the other side of the main gate, so he could easily shove it open from the inside.

Day had broken while Duster was running about inside the castle. From the angle of the sun, he guessed it was probably late morning; he had been in there for hours. And weirdly, he didn't even feel that exhausted, even though he was practically ready to crash on his bed the moment he saw it. Nonetheless, he was hoping his father would congratulate him by letting him sleep until tomorrow.

Nippolyte was still there as well, having tended to his garden until daybreak. He was standing just over the grate leading into the sewers going towards his home, although the hole was grated up, preventing anyone from going in or out. Duster never saw him not working on the cemetery during the day, so...when did he ever sleep?

"Oh, hey," Nippolyte called, seeing Duster emerge from the front door of the castle, carrying a shiny urn in his arms. "It's old man Wess's son, What's-His-Name." Duster laughed - it was good to be out of that castle. Hopefully he won't have to deal with ghosts or spiders the size of his face ever again.

"Hey, Nippolyte." Duster was awfully chipper now that he was away from that nightmare. "You were busy with your garden all night? When do you sleep?"

"I sleep whenever you don't see me," he replied cryptically. "I was asleep the whole time you were in the castle, and whenever you're not watching me on the grounds, I'm in my bed, catching some Z's." They both had another laugh over his riddles.

than taking this underground passage." He dug into his pocket, reaching around in it for a moment before withdrawing a small, slender key. "This is the key for the drawbridge. It'll let you take the express way out." He handed the small, toothy string of steel to Duster. "You can keep it. Consider it a reward for being the first in quite some time to be inside Osohe castle. This underground passage here is good enough for me."

With a duly thanks, Duster left Nippolyte to doing what he was doing, and proceeded to the drawbridge. There was a padlock on the bridge's crank that let the bridge rise and fall; unlocking it, he gave the crank a few turns, and the bridge fell into place.

He rushed back to his home, careful of the urn in his hands, running over the bridge and through the calm cemetery. Maybe it was just a night-time thing with the zombies? Whatever the case, there were none at the moment.

The square was bustling with activity, although it was clear everybody was still broken-hearted about Hinawa's tragic passing, and nobody was really giving it their all at anything. Flint was nowhere to be found - maybe he was in the mountains again already.

Heading east at the well, across the stream, and up the hill, he was back at the front door to his home. His mission was a complete success, and the grin on his face could tell anyone as much.

"Dad!" he cheered as he charged through the open door, the urn safe and sound in his arms. "I'm back!"

Wess was sitting in front of the fireplace, stoking the blaze he had lit, and from the smell of things he was busy cooking up some breakfast. He turned around, facing a smiling Duster as he entered the door, the item tucked under his right armpit. "Is that a snake around your waist?"

"Um," he stuttered. He could feel the snake ripple and coil at the sound of its name. "Yeah. It's a long story, but I found a pet in the castle."

Wess hummed, nodding in understanding. "When you were a kid, I always thought of getting you something like a pet. Teach you some responsibility and all that. A snake was not my first idea, though." He clapped his hands together, rubbing them excitedly. "You came back faster than I expected, too. Let's have a look, then."

Duster carefully withdrew the urn and placed it on the floor between them. It practically sparkled in the dancing embers of the lit fireplace, its incredible shine illuminating the room.

Wess looked the urn over, keeping his hands to himself, noting every nuance of the urn. The careful craftsmanship in this simple item was astounding: there wasn't a single flaw anywhere in it. After years of neglect, the dust seemed to be completely repelled by the urn's shine and masterful design. There wasn't a nick, or a chip, or so much as an imperfection in even the paint on the urn. Wess was almost speechless.

"This luster," he awed. "This texture," he marvelled. "This delicate, profound, shiny...quality!" With some reluctance, he tore his eyes away from the urn to look at Duster. He was feeling pretty proud of himself, having brought it back and making his father happy. "This is the legendary Noble Spittoon, passed down from generation to generation in Osohe. You found it! I can't believe it, Duster! My judgement was correct after all! Duster, you're exceptionally...

Duster jumped back in surprise, all the little hairs on his body standing on end at his father's incredible mood whiplash. His voice was loud and echoed repeatedly in Duster's ears.

Before Duster had a chance to collect himself, Wess picked up the urn and smashed it against the ground, shattering it into thousands of pieces.

Duster, now fearful for his own safety, and his earlier sense of accomplishment evaporated, backed himself up to the door, ready at a moment's notice to open it and begin sprinting for his very life. "You call yourself a thief," Wess shouted, "yet you can't even tell what it is you need to steal?!" He backed up to his fireplace, shouting how Duster was pathetic and moronic the whole time he checked his eggs.

Duster didn't know what to say. He went into Osohe castle, he searched it high and low, and that urn was what he had to show for it. There was nothing left! That was the most valuable thing the castle had to offer him! But he didn't dare try to raise his voice against his father, not the way he was acting now.

Is that really all, moron?!" he yelled condescendingly. Even though he was taller than Wess, he could still feel like he was physically being looked down on. "Did you find the Royal Bedpan? Or maybe the Jewelled Bib? Are you sure you're not fooling around to try and entertain me? You moron."

Duster quickly searched his mind, trying to think of something, anything, that might appease his father after this apparent screw up. He dug about in his pocket, his mind racing, when he gripped onto something smooth, with a long, beaded string. Immediately, he remembered the pendant his rival had dropped in the castle in his or her haste into its depths.

With nothing else to show for his efforts, he withdrew the pendant and placed it where the spittoon was. While not nearly as shiny as the urn, it did manage to catch Wess's attention.

"Th-this," he stuttered, grasping the pendant gently by the string. Duster didn't know what to expect now. "It's not what I was looking for," he continued, although there was no ire in his tone. "But I wonder..."

Wess took the pendant back over to the fireplace, inspecting it closely, flipping the eggs in his pan effortlessly without turning his eyes away from the small accessory. "Duster," he said loudly, although it sounded as though he had forgotten completely about his son's earlier mistake. "I think I know who owns this pendant. I think it belongs to the princess of Osohe castle."

"The princess?" Duster asked, finally getting up the nerve to speak.

"Did you meet her?"

"No, I...heard footsteps near where I was, so I hid until they passed. That pendant was lying on the floor when they were gone."

Wess hummed and nodded again. "At least you learned something." He gave the pendant back to Duster, who stuffed it hastily into his pocket, and looked his son in the eye. "Your first mission was a complete and utter failure, Duster,

We're heading to Osohe at once. Take me to the room you found the spittoon in."

Duster gulped - all the way back to the top? Were the ghosts still active in the day? But he wasn't about to say 'no' to his dad, so he nodded. "There's no time to waste, Duster. We have to find the princess, quickly. There's another thunder bomb outside for you."

Picking up the bomb, they both rushed off to the castle, intent on finding Duster's supposed 'rival'.

Just as they made for the north exit of the square, they stopped. There was a loud rumbling off in the distance, and a cloud of dust was beginning to rise in front of the castle.

"Huh?" Duster audibly wondered. It was only a few minutes - he hadn't expected something to be happening at the castle during his short absence.

"Any of this seem familiar, Duster?" Wess asked.

"No, none of that was there when I came out of the castle. Especially not that odd noise." They continued forward, rushing as quickly as they could to the castle. Halfway through the junction between the village, the forest, and the cemetery, they found a set of tracks.

Of what, though, they had never seen before. It definitely couldn't have come from any animal, and it wasn't from any carriage or wheelbarrow they had ever seen. Whatever they were, though, they were pointed right at the castle.

As they approached the castle, they found the source of the dust, the sound, and the tracks, all at once. But neither of them knew what to make of it.

Enormous steel carriages, with large, purposeless snouts on their tops, and pulled by nothing at all, were roaring their way down the castle's dropped drawbridge. Following behind them were men in weird costumes, unlike Wess had ever seen, but Duster recognized all too quickly. He pulled his father off to the side before they could be seen.

The only one dressed in blue turned to face its comrades dressed in pink, and made some kind of waving motion to the others with just its right arm. The others each complied, making the same movements, like some kind of dance or something.

And they began to file into the castle, heedless of Nippolyte's garden in front of its gate, walking all over and killing his poor potatotoes. Peeking around the corner and surveying the area to be sure that they had all left, Duster signalled for his father to follow, and they carefully stepping onto the castle's grounds.

There was Nippolyte, dirty and beaten on the ground in front of his village patch. They both rushed to his side, helping him to his feet as he coughed up the dirt he had swallowed when the men in pig masks rubbed his face in it.

Some pig-looking guys just bust into the castle," he coughed, hacking up some phlegm into his hand.

"Nippolyte, get back to your shack," Wess instructed. "Duster and I have business in the castle here. We won't let them get away with destroying our island."

"Do be careful," he coughed, and he slowly hobbled his way back to his shack in the cemetery. Duster and Wess head into the castle's open front doors instead, intent on paying the men in pig masks back for what they had done, and to find the princess of Osohe.

They charged inside, straight into the foyer, where two of those same men in pig masks were guarding the way farther in. They had a peculiar puppet with them as well; it appeared to be made of clay, with a single, bobbing wire with a red ball on its end jutting out of its top. It had long, thick, flat arms and legs, and a pair of holes and a mouth drawn into its skin where they ought to be if it had a head.

Once the two pig masks realized they had company, the one closest to the doll pulled out a pair of long, silver prods, and it fiddled with something on its hip. An arc of electricity arced between the two prods, and quickly, the pig mask shoved them both into the puppet's clay skin.

Wess laughed, confident that with their Thief Tools, they could handle the two pig masks easily. But he silenced himself when they electricity brought the large puppet to life; somehow, the thing managed to stand under its own power after it took that shock to its system, and the first thing it did was walk towards them both. He and Duster weren't to certain what to do...

...other than to use force.

Once their clay puppet collapsed to the ground from the strain, unmoving, the same pig mask withdrew the same pair of prods and went through the motions to bring it back to life. After shocking the clump of clay with the battery on its hip once more, it backed off, expecting it to jump to life again. When it did not, the pig mask kicked the clay, making an audible grunt of frustration before it and its partner, dispirited from fighting a man with a poor leg and his father, retreated farther into the castle.

"Who were they?" Wess asked. "Were they here this morning?"

Duster thought back to his first trip through. They weren't anywhere in the castle when he first marched through it, but he did recall seeing - and hearing - that blimp off in the distance as it launched three or four of somethings behind it. "They might have been," he replied, "but they waited until now to strike."

Wess chuckled to himself. "Well, that clay thing wasn't so tough. If that was their weapon and we still beat it, then we should be able to walk all over them."

The main hall of the castle was haunted the first time Duster investigated it, but now, the only thing that patrolled its halls were those pig masks. They wasted no time in occupying as much of the castle as they could at once; they must have been halfway up the castle by now.

They carried the oddest looking club either of them had ever seen, and they held them a very inefficient way to hold a stick.

But for all their padding and protection, and even when Duster and Wess learned the hard way that their weapons were no sticks at all...

They hardly put up a fight after a few kicks to the belly.

Duster knew exactly which way to go and didn't bother with the cellar or the little bazaar in the centre room. They both ran upstairs, into the hall with the three possessed suits of armour that had attacked him earlier. He remembered how difficult it was to combat them, and hoped the pig masks would have as much difficulty with them as him.

No such luck, unfortunately. But maybe they got caught up in the ghost's party in the parlour? He recalled one of them saying how their party never actually ended, so the pig masks must have run into them as well.

Apparently they did, and they were conquered just as easily. Duster had hoped their numbers would have put up a strong defence, but he was clearly wrong.

A few of Wess's thunder bombs were enough to clear the room out, though.

"Where next, Duster?" Wess asked, looking around the room and spying the ladder of staples. "Up there?"

"Hold on," he replied, taking a risk knowing how his father would likely react. He head in the opposite direction, towards the kitchen next to the parlour. "I want to check up on some friends of mine."

"What friends?" Wess asked, a little indignant that Duster would deliberately detour them when their objective was of the utmost priority. "This better be good, Duster."

He opened the door, heading straight into the kitchen, and just as he figured...

"This is a pretty good reason," Wess immediately recanted, getting the attention of every ghost in the room. It looked as though the pig masks had simply crammed all of them into one room rather than try and defeat something they couldn't touch.

"Hey!" one of them shouted. They didn't know which one. They were all perfectly identical. "It's that normal person from before!" One of them from the crowd floated up and over the others, making its way to him and Wess quickly. Duster recalled one of them being fixated on him being a 'normal person'.

"You're from the party?" Duster asked, making sure his identifying with the right ghost. "You told me which way to go?"

"That's right," it replied, a cartoon-like grin on its transparent face. Duster was calm as could be, but Wess was practically shaking in his boots.

So we all fled into this room."

Duster was surprised by that. "You mean, they didn't force you?"

"No. Most of us don't have the spine to stand up to them - pun absolutely intended - and we all took shelter in this kitchen." It looked around the room, noting all the pairs of eyes that were focused on them. "They have stuff we've never seen before, and we got spooked ourselves." It laughed at its own joke. "Are those things usual in the living world now?"

Duster shook his head. "We've never seen anything like it either. We're working on finding someone, and once we find her we're going to work on kicking the guys in pig masks out. Have you seen a living girl anywhere in the castle?"

"Oh yeah, the princess?" it asked, winking one of its eyeless sockets. "She's the only person who can still say she lives here, after all this time. She's probably hanging around the upper floors of the castle somewhere; it's pretty linear, so you shouldn't miss her."

"Thanks again for the help," Duster finished, and showed Wess out of the room, before the old man had an aneurism over witnessing the living dead like that.

"Duster," he said once they were clear of the kitchen, "you're friends with those ghosts?!"

"Not all of them," he replied, "but they can be cool if you get to know them a little."

On the upper floor, they came across the same gap in the floor, with the same candlestick in the wall. Duster was a little concerned that the candlestick might not be able to support both him and Wess, but no better way to find out than to try. "Hey dad," he said slyly, "want to know what this snake is good for?" Wess eyed him suspiciously, but said 'sure' all the same.

"Hey, rope snake," Duster said, gripping the snake gently by the head like he had last time. The snake responded immediately, loosening its grip around his waist a little bit. "I need a rope again." Just as it had last time, it loosened itself from his waist and slithered up his stomach, under his shirt, and then down his left arm, coiling itself around his forearm. Wess shivered in disgust.

Duster didn't even need to instruct it what to do this time; it simply assumed the same position as it had last time, ready to sling forward at a flick of the arm. "Hold on, dad," he instructed, and Wess complied by gripping onto Duster's shoulders, though he was unsure of just what Duster was thinking. With a single motion, he slung his arm forward, and the snake launched out, grasping onto the candlestick like before.

"Where did you learn to teach it that?" Wess asked, a little out of breath from the sudden exhilaration. Duster didn't answer; he pressed on forward, getting his father to follow.

"This was the room I found the pendant in," he said once they entered the small stairway partition.

"It was right here in this doorway. The footsteps led farther into the castle. But then the whole place just seemed to stop, and I never ran into her on the way out, so I don't know what to tell you."

"There are more secrets to this castle than meets the eye, Duster," Wess said cryptically. "She alone knows this castle better than anyone else, so I'd imagine she managed to slip by you."

Interestingly, the pig masks didn't seem to make it this far into the castle - perhaps they didn't have the sense to climb to the ladder of staples Duster had left them, or maybe they couldn't make it across the hole in the floor. But nonetheless, the ghosts still ruled in the following rooms and corridors, just as he had left them.

"It's just past this last room," Duster said, hurrying on past the others. He opened the doors to the room he met Mr. Passion in, half expecting the ghost to be back, flinging around his baton the same way he had before and causing another whirlwind right in the middle of the room.

That wasn't the case, fortunately enough. The room was calm, with everything left exactly where Duster had left it last. They kept on to the final room.

"This is the room I found the spittoon in," Duster murmured as he spun the knob and pushed the door open. The simple gray room it led them both to was almost completely featureless: no windows, no creases or cracks in the stone and very little dust anywhere in it. But in the rear of the room, adorning the walls, were drawings of men doing particular dances and poses. In the middle of them all was an enormous stone face, its mouth clamped tightly shut, its expression gazing down on them both, almost judging them.

"The real treasure is further inside," said Wess, staring into the rock face's eyes. Duster stepped aside, allowing his father to examine the features of the craftsmanship up close. He ran his old fingers across its details, taking in everything about the face.

I believe only the princess has the ability to unlock this secret door," he mused. He sighed, then turned around. "Duster," he said, "this is embarrassing. I need you to turn the other way."

Not one to question his father's commands, Duster did as he was told, facing towards the wooden door they had come through. "Don't look, now!" he heard Wess say, and soon the sound of tapping shoes began to echo through the otherwise silent room. "I'm not going to stick my butt out or anything like that, though. Just so you know."

Duster thought that was a curious thing to say.

And those pig fellows are probably still inside as well. So we need to be careful!" Before Wess allowed Duster to do or say anything, he added, "you moron!"

Duster assumed it was safe to turn around, so he did. He eyed the new face in the stone wall, fascinated how a funny little dance could move stone all by itself. And the grin on the face was just so happy! They showed themselves down its open mouth, and once they were both clear of its teeth, the stone face snapped shut once more.

The room immediately following the stone face was a skybox of sorts, overlooking a large garden Duster had never seen before.

In the very centre of the lush, green garden was a shiny object that Duster couldn't quite make out from this distance. It looked something like a pen, or a needle, sticking out of the ground, and it glowed brilliantly in the late morning sunlight. "Hey dad," he said, pointing over the balcony, "is that what we're-"

"Focus," Wess scolded, pushing him forward and towards the only other exit to the room. "What we want is in the castle's tower, not in its backyard. The sooner we find it-"

Duster got to his feet first, rushing to his father and covering him with himself, he looked up the stairs to see their attacker himself, already thinking up different strategies and possibilities to return the offensive.

At the top of the stairs was a young woman with red hair, dressed in an unwashed, yet still elegant, sky-blue dress. She was sitting on the ground, with a large, clearly unfashionable contraption wrapped painfully around her ankle. She carried a rather large knife in her right hand, and she glared down mercilessly at the two men below her.

Before something else happened, though, she immediately made a surprised gasp, and lowered her weapon. "Wess?" she asked, her voice shaky from the pain in her leg. "Is that you, you old geezer?!"

Wess recognized that voice immediately, and wordlessly pushed his son out of the way so he could climb the steps himself. Once he got a good look at the girl, he let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, princess!" he said, his heart still racing a mile a minute from that blast. "So it was you!" He laughed nervously. "My, how things bring back memories!

No, no, wait, I'm so giddy that I've mixed up my words! I haven't forgotten about you for but a bit!" Duster raised an eyebrow at his old man; he almost never saw his dad all flustered like this, so this girl must have been the real deal. "No, no, wait," he blustered, realizing his screw up. "Duster, you moron! Get your act together!"

"What did I do?" asked Duster, mockingly hurtfully.

"I can't afford to die here, so I was just thinkin' about cuttin' my foot off." She spoke so modestly, like it was something she did every weekend.

Wess laughed, clearly calling her bluff. "I see you're as reckless as ever!" he chided, "but you needn't resort to cutting your foot off, princess. For me and my Thief Arts, a simple trap like this is absolutely nothing to never worry about!" He caught his tongue much faster that time. "No, wait! What I mean is, just leave it to me! I'll have this off faster than you can say 'piece-of-cake'!"

"Your mouth-motor is still greased up good, I see," she hummed while Wess went about his work. After fiddling with its pins and hinges for a moment, the clasp around her ankle sprang open, releasing her from its grasp. She stood up, the pain from her ankle easy enough to ignore, clearly.

The first thing the girl noticed, however, was the gleam coming from Duster's pocket. "That's my pendant!" she said excitedly, reaching for the jewellery sticking out of his pants pocket, when she recoiled immediately at the sight of the bright red snake wrapped firmly around him. "Is that a snake wrapped around your waist?" she asked incredulously.

"That is a snake wrapped around my waist," he replied, reaching for the pendant himself and offering it back to her.

Rather than accept the pendant from his outstretched hand, she snapped it away in a quick swing, her eyes narrowed in anger at him. "I was looking for this!" she shouted. "So it was you who stole it from me!

He your son, geezer?" she asked Wess, giving Duster the cold shoulder. Wess nodded in response, and the girl faced him again, her eyes running over every inch of him. She hummed in thought as she got closer, her face just inches from his - it made him a little cautious. He didn't know what it was she threw at them when they first came in the room, after all. "His breath kinda stinks," she said finally, backing away.

"Wess said your name was Duster?" she asked, rudely turning away from him while addressing him. "My name's Kumatora. It's good to meet you." She pivoted once more and extended her hand for him to shake.

She was giving him a lot of mixed messages with her personality, but he accepted anyway. Better to have an ally than an enemy. "Likewise."

"I can probably guess why you two are here," she continued after their handshake, turning back up the stairs, "so let's get a move on, huh? The sooner we get to this thing, the better, don't you know?"

"Where are you going, princess?" Wess asked, suddenly speaking to her like she was Duster's sister.

"But," he began, eyeing her blood-stained ankle, "your leg is'd do best resting someplace safe, my dear."

"Just a little spit on it and it'll be good as new!" she chirped, eager to get a move on up the stairs. "I'm all grown up now, Wess. A little bite like this isn't gonna be anything. Let's get a move on!"

Defeated, Wess gave a heavy sigh. There wasn't any fighting Kumatora back then, and there isn't any now.

"Do you mind if I ask, princess-" Duster began, before she angrily cut him off.

"None of that 'princess' crap with you, okay Duster?" she snapped. "Wess is old, so he can get away with that, but it feels too weird if someone my age says that. Just call me by my name."

He chuckled, waving his hands in apology. "I'm sorry, Kumatora. But, if you don't mind, what was it you tried to hit us with when he first came in the room? Some kind of bomb? It was odd."

It was Kumatora's turn to laugh. "That," she said boastfully, "was a little trick I learned a long time ago from some eccentric friends of my family. They called it 'PK Freeze'. Whatever it hits, turns solid ice." She smiled broadly, proud of her unique skill.

"A trick?" he asked, confused. "Like, our Thief Arts?"

As they proceeded down the corridor, Kumatora began to get antsy, ready to finally show off her skill to someone that would watch. "Not even!" she said loudly. "You see these wisps all over the place?"

"I can freeze them with my mind!"

Duster was having difficulty believing it, even though he just saw it with his own two eyes, but Kumatora was telling the truth: she simply concentrated a little bit, and suddenly, the floating flame froze in a solid chunk of light-blue ice. She acted as though she was a kid in a playpen, freezing the wandering spirits with just a wave of the hand and a blink of the eye.

"Can you set fire to things to?" Duster asked, bewildered. He had heard fantastic stories and about people who could set fire to things with their mind, but never ice. Maybe she was as limited as those fictional heroes and villains were.

"Sure can!"

Duster was aghast by the powers she so casually wielded, using it on whatever, whenever. He was glad she was on his side.

The three of them scaled the tower of the castle, making their way to the very top floor. There were more holes in the floor, like they had found just above the parlour, but these seemed more like they were placed deliberately than that one. Each time they made a lap around the tower's insides, they came across the same hole in roughly the same spot, making an enormous drop from the top to the bottom straight down their centres.

Duster felt pretty bad for his pet snake, asking it to ferry all three of them like that, but it was cooperative, if not actually enjoying itself. He was glad somebody was, because the trip up the tower was just seeing the same thing over and over. The same corridor, the same stairway partition, the same hole in the ground. If nothing else, at least it was easy.

After their third lap, Kumatora began to walk a little lopsidedly. "Whoa," she said, her pace suddenly leaning a bit to the side. She reached out for the wall, bracing herself against it. Her face began to flush; it was all very sudden.

"Princess!" Wess nearly shouted, very concerned over her well-being. "Are you okay?" He got a look of her face; she was a little feverish, and her forehead began to moisten with sweat. "You're sick!" he declared, quickly rummaging through his pockets for something to treat her with. "Duster, check your pockets! Do you have anything to help her? Medicines, herbs, at least some mints to keep her comfortable?"

"Calm down, geezer," she laughed. "This is a good sign." Wess didn't believe her for a moment. "This has happened once before, when I first learned that PK Fire trick. If I use enough magic, I get all feverish and dizzy, and I can hardly walk straight."

"Oh, is that it?" he asked, somewhat relieved. "Then just stop using it. Duster and I can pick up the slack; our Thief Arts are more than formidable for any ghost."

"No way!" she answered, not indignant, but delighted. "Just wait a little bit, and you'll see, old man. It's been so long since I've felt's gonna be awesome, just watch."

After a small disagreement, they continued on Kumatora's orders, climbing the tower the whole way. They eventually came to a widening in the floor plan - they were nearing the tower's keep at the top.

"I know this part," Kumatora said between sickly heaves. "See those brooms that are just moving back and forth?"

"Don't get caught by them," she cautioned. "I don't know what it is they're packin', but they got some crazy magic where if you do-"

Against her own advice, she wandered out into the middle of the room, having known their pattern, but her sickness got in her way, and she got a little clumsy. The moment they were spotted, Duster could feel something grip him tightly all over his body, and before he knew it...

...they were back where they started.

"That's kind of annoying," Duster spat as they climbed out of the trash can large enough to fit them all.

"It's pretty fun, actually," said Kumatora, dusting herself off, "when that's pretty much the only entertainment you have in this castle."

They began their walk back up the tower, boringly making their way back through the corridors, reaching the keep once again. They took much more careful measures to avoid the brooms this time.

It was followed by yet another partition, but the final corridor above it all was dressed differently, in elegant carpets and draperies. The paranormal activity was still as rampant as ever; possessing articles of clothing bearing Osohe's old colours before its abandonment, seemingly realizing that the castle was under attack and that they were being called to arms once more.

And to prove the point, just before the door into the keep itself, the spirits of the castle united in one last attempt to keep their treasure from being stolen away.

They put up a decent fight, but after coming so far, Duster and Wess weren't going to leave the castle empty-handed.

"This is the last stop," Kumatora stated, her fever still high. "Ain't nothin' left in this tower after this door. But I figure you're after what's in there anyway."

"You're quite brave to soldier on with such a high fever, princess," complimented Wess, offering a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.

She pushed his hand away, however. "It's nothing," she said, getting a little irate over Wess's paranoid protection. "And actually, it should be going away in..."

She stopped her speech and straightened her back. She brought her hand to her forehead and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath; after a long exhale, her hand began to glow an off-green, and then it was over. Her fever was gone in an instant: she wasn't heaving or sweating, and her throat was clear.

She inspected her fingertips, and with just a thought, she flung out a few static bolts from her nails. Itty bitty ones, but they were just a demonstration: she could summon electricity at will, adding to her already formidable arsenal. "Cool," she laughed. "Now, let's get that thing."

The keep of the tower was mostly featureless, but it had more to offer than the chamber with the urn. It held a pedestal on a raised bit of stone flooring. On both sides of the pedestal was a lion's head carved out of more stone, but the obvious attraction was the small, shiny, valuable object resting between them. It looked something like an egg, with drawings in red paint all across it, and a pair of fake-looking wings on its apex. But the red on the egg resonated white periodically: this was no average decoration.

"Yes, here we are," Wess said, looking around the room nostalgically.

Duster. This," he paused, "was the 'certain important item' I had instructed you to bring back." Wess looked it over, his hands by his sides, not yet ready to remove the treasure. "It's known by some as the 'Egg of Light', or the 'Hummingbird Egg'. And truth be told, even I don't know much about it.

Or something like that, supposedly, apparently."

Duster crossed his arms and looked at Kumatora, unsure of what to think of his father's words. She just nodded, confirming Wess's statements about the egg. "And now that ball of secrets is needed," she said. Wess stood aside, allowing the princess full access to the egg herself. She took his place, staring almost dreamily into the reflective shine of the egg. "If this wound up in the wrong hands," she began, "the lid on the secrets would come undone, and..." She gave the egg a soft flick on its shell, jittering it on its pedestal. "...bad things would happen."

I've been around for a long time, and not even I know," he sighed. He approached the egg once more. "In any case, the Hummingbird Egg is our secret."

"But doesn't it seem kinda ridiculous that the egg of a tiny lil' hummingbird holds all the worlds secrets?"

"It's probably just a name," Duster answered, getting his father's attention.

"You don't believe any of this, do you, Duster?"

"With everything that's happened in the past few days, dad, I can't afford to not believe anything." He rubbed the exhaustion from both his eyes - he still hadn't slept in a good twenty-eight hours now, and adrenaline from adventuring could only get him so far. "I started believing once Flint and I found what we found on the mountaintop the day before yesterday. So if this little egg holds the secrets to everything, well, colour me ridiculous."

is this moron standing right here." Wess began to stare daggers into him once again. "Duster," he spat, "this egg gives off such a thick scent of secrets so concentrated it almost reminds me of condensed milk. Yet you couldn't even catch a single whiff of it! That's how much of a moron you are!" Duster didn't bother replying. It was no use fighting his dad like this. But when Wess added "you're a failure as a thief!" he began to get disheartened. He backed away from the egg, afraid he might do something dumb like drop it.

Just as Duster was going to thank her for the defence, she continued. "Because if he really was a moron, he wouldn't understand anyways." Suddenly he felt very insecure about himself. "Anyway, we can't let the bad guys get their hands on this egg."

Just as she said that, there was a loud thump on the closed door behind them. They both whirled around, surprised at the sudden noise, watching the door intently. "Speak of the devil!" she hollered.

"Geezer! Duster! We gotta get out of here!"

Without any hesitation, she removed the egg from its pedestal. "Princess!" Wess shouted alarmingly, "please wait!

but I placed traps around the egg!"

Kumatora realized what she did the moment he said it, but it took her a moment to register her folly. "Traps?" she echoed worriedly, glancing around the room for something to happen.

"Princess!" Wess hollered as they all plummeted down the tower, through each floor, down each hole they had crossed with the rope snake on their way up. None of them had any control over their own flights, flipping and spinning wildly as they dropped.

"My bad," she simply replied.

Their long fall eventually came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the tower, in a massive well filled halfway with water. The well sported two large piles of bones as decoration, their collections piling high above the flat surface. Wess was the first to bring himself back up over the water, finding himself alone in the tower's base.

Kumatora emerged just as he finished his cry, quickly spitting the water out and wiping the moisture from her eyes. "Yeah," she answered, having heard him clearly under the surface, "I'm just find, but..." She looked around the room, trying to find something.

"Whatever is the matter?" he asked, looking around the room with her, trying to find whatever it was she was. "If you're worried about that moron, don't be. He's been trained for just this sort of thing."

"Falling a dozen stories, into a pool of water in a well? He's been trained for that?"

"Sure has."

Kumatora was dumbstruck. "And what about the egg? Has he been trained to retrieve an item from the well at the same time?"

Shortly after, Duster broke the surface himself. He took a deep gasp for air, shaking his head of the water from his eyes. "I'm okay," he sputtered, treading the water, "and I got this."

Well done! You got the egg! I've called you a moron eleven times so far, but I take it all back! You are no longer a moron. Hurray!"

Duster looked at his father, hurt from his words. "You've been keeping count?"

Just as he said his words, a large shadow crept up from the depths below, circling the bottom of the well a few times before coming to rest just underneath the egg.

"I dunno if I'd be saying 'hurray' just yet..."

Wess awoke with a start, lurching forward once he regained consciousness. His body ached all over, and his clothes and his hair were all matted down with water, but he was alive, at the very least. The first thing he saw when he awoke was Kumatora standing dutifully at the foot of the bed, with Lighter and Fuel watching over him as well.

He swung his feet over the edge of the bed, standing himself upright. He was quickly assisted by the others, worried about his old, rickety bones.

"Where are we?" he asked, a little light-headed. He glanced around the room, noticing a few familiar objects hanging off the walls and resting around the place. "My house?"

"You and this especially tough girl got washed down the river," Fuel explained happily. "Good thing my dad was there, 'cause I would have pretended not to see you if it'd just been me." He said that with the most sincere grin on his face, it was almost unbelievable.

"I see," Wess answered. "Thank you, Fuel."

"I see you two are doing fine," Lighter began, "and we really gotta get going. We have a house to build. You two take it easy." He motioned to his son. "Come on, Fuel."

Just as they began to leave the house, Wess called out to them. "Did you find that moron with us, too?"

You know, for a couple, you two sure have a huge age difference. Not that I'm judging or anything."

Wess ignored the remark. "That moron - I mean, Duster, taking his damn merry time," he cursed. "He's in big trouble once I find him..."

Lighter and Fuel began to show themselves out. "You were both unconscious," he said over his shoulder. "You should get a little more rest." And they were both gone.

The first place they could have looked was back in Tazmily village, in the square. The stream that ran from Osohe castle's moat ran right next to their house and out into the ocean - Wess put on a tough front when it came to Duster, but he was still his father. He hoped Duster hadn't washed away forever and that someone found him and was helping him.

They both went to the square, to begin their search and start asking around for Duster...

...when they found there was a bit of a scene happening right there, next to the well.