The Let's Play Archive

Mother 3

by Maple Leaf

Part 23: Chapter 18

I'm still within my seven-day schedule!

"So let me get this straight," Wess began, sceptical. "You had this dream recently."

"Right," Alec replied.

"In it, your daughter Hinawa, may she rest in peace, came up to you and led you to the Pigmask training camp in the corner of Tazmily."


"And she told you to make a giant stack of hay at the exact spot she was standing when you woke up."


Wess sighed, wiping the sweat from his brow. It was a hot day in Tazmily, and they had spent the entire morning just making an enormous stack of hay at some random spot in the middle of Matt's old farm. "I don't know," he finally said. "It might just be because Duster, or Lucky, or whatever he's calling himself now, is a moron, but if my kid said the same thing to me, I wouldn't follow through with it so quickly. We probably wasted a morning."

"We both know what you're thinking, Wess," Alec said, turning to his fellow senior with a sharp glare. "You think three years isn't enough to recover after losing my daughter and that I'm getting delusional." Wess said nothing. "Well, the truth is...maybe, and maybe not. All I know is I saw my daughter for the first time in years, and she asked me to do something. It couldn't hurt, could it?"

Wess looked away from the pile, turning towards his house-turned-old-folks-home. He had fallen so far in just three short years. "I guess I could use the exercise," he mumbled. "It's no good being cramped up in there and having those prissy-"

Wess was cut short by the sound of a thump behind them. He whirled around in surprise, and there, lying on top of the pile, was Boney, the familiar dog from the Flint household south of the town. His eyes widened, and he turned to Alec, searching for words to say, but neither of them could think of anything.

Just as they reeled from the surprise, they heard another thump, and there, right next to Boney, was Lucas.

Both of them were unconscious, but thanks to the hay pile, they were both physically alright. Alec didn't waste any time with 'I-told-you-so's' and quickly climbed into the pile himself, eager to get to his grandson, with a very surprised - and humbled - Wess right behind.

Many hours passed.

"The kid's really out," Wess remarked. "Must have been absolutely exhausted."

"I'm sure falling right out of the sky would do that to anybody. I'm just relieved he's alright," Alec said. "Hinawa really saved the day this time. That was way too close."

Wess gave a bit of a chuckle. "Not even the grave can stand between her and her kids. That's just like her. Mama bear to the bitter end. And not even then!"

Since they arrived at Wess's apartment at the retirement home, Lucas hadn't budged an inch from his bed. He had been asleep well through the day; the sun was beginning to dip from the sky when Alec came back from visiting the town. Boney had been awake for several hours by then, and since then he hasn't moved from Lucas's side, whining occasionally, begging his best friend to wake up. They had given Lucas a thorough check for any injuries - bruises, broken bones, cuts, anything at all - but he appeared fit as a fiddle.

Boney gave another short, high-pitched whine, placing a paw up onto the bed. After so many hours of sleep, Lucas finally opened his eyes, and in a hurry: as soon as he was conscious, he sat up in bed and suddenly yelled out, "mom!"

The two older men jumped in surprise from the shout, and Boney yipped happily, nearly jumping up onto the bed in elation, relieved more than either of the others to see Lucas awake. "You're finally awake!" Alec said, loudly and excitedly, seeing his grandson finally up and active after so long. "You were out for quite some time, Lucas!"

Lucas looked around the room, trying to get his bearings. He was just in a field of sunflowers, chasing after his how did he wind up at old man Wess's place? His muscles felt cramped and strung, and Boney was causing a bit of a ruckus, so he swung his feet over the side and stood on the floor, giving a huge stretch before kneeling down to tend to his dog.

"Don't worry about Boney," Alec continued. "You're both in tip-top shape. Hardly a scratch on either of you. It's kind of remarkable, honestly."

Lucas looked up from Boney to acknowledge what his grandfather had told him, and it was a relief to hear that Boney was okay, but he wanted to ask him something important. "Boney," he whispered, looking into the dog's eyes. "Did you have that dream about mom, too?" Boney answered by drawing a couple of licks across Lucas's cheek; he took that as a 'maybe'.

"What was that?" Wess asked, picking up Lucas's whispers. As a seasoned thief, his senses were well-trained for difficult things like that. "Something about a dream about your mom?"

Lucas looked back up. "Yeah," he replied. "I had a dream about mom. We were in this big field of sunflowers when I saw her. She started to lead me in a direction, trying to get me to follow her, and..." He stopped, deciding to leave out the part where he jumped off a cliff to reach her. "And Boney was there too."

"You too?" Alec asked, surprised.

She saved your lives. No matter where she goes, Hinawa is always thinking about you."

"A pile of hay?" Lucas echoed.

"She told me to make a pile of hay at Matt's old farm, but she didn't mention why. And just before noon, you and Boney fell out of the sky and right onto it!" Lucas looked down in thought - it all seemed so surreal, but that dream felt like anything but. She led him to a spot in a dream when he passed out, and at the same time, she was telling Alec to build a hay pile to catch him in another?

"I didn't really believe him at first," Wess added.

Then, in the real world, right out of the blue, you two fall right into the pile. It's as strange as strange can be, and now I guess I'll have to think twice about doubting a dream that has Hinawa in it. It's an absolute miracle that both of you didn't even get a scratch."

Lucas's head felt a little light from the whole thing. It was such an incredible leap to imagine. "I," he started, thinking about his next move. He remembered pretending to be the Pigmask commander and sabotaging Thunder Tower, and he realized that Duster and Kumatora were not with him. "What happened to Duster and Kumatora?"

"Who?" Alec asked, when Wess raised his hand to him, quieting Alec.

"They weren't with you," he answered. "I have no idea where that moron..." He sighed. "I have no idea where Duster is, and the princess is a strong, smart girl, but I'm worried about them both. I hope your mother was kind enough to show them the way to safety as well."

Lucas looked out the barred windows high on top of the back wall, looking out to the early-evening sky. The clouds weren't as healthy as the ones he saw in his dream, and already, he felt a twinge of longing for his past. "I'm gonna..." he said, looking away from the window to Boney, giving him a pat on the head. "We're gonna go...thank mom. It's the least we could do."

"Are you sure?" Alec asked. "You're fine to go out and about so quickly?"

"Yeah, I'm sure," he insisted, moving his arms and legs about to prove that everything was still attached. "Sorry for leaving so quickly, grandpa."

Alec laughed in response, waving his hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it at all, Lucas," he said warmly. "Seeing you fine is all the company I need. Your mother would be relieved to see you too, so don't wait up for us. I'll be paying my respects too; I just need to talk with Wess about something."

Nodding once, Lucas turned around, Boney right behind him, and they left for Hinawa's grave.

Just as they stepped out of the retirement home, Boney began to bark at something off in the distance. Lucas could see it from there: a small crowd had gathered on the bridge leading from the east side of the town to Tazmily's central square. There was a bit of a commotion going on around them as they seemed to crowd around something, but Lucas couldn't make out what it was that had gotten their attention.

Boney ran off ahead of him, eager to see what the excitement was about, and Lucas gave chase.

Lying there on the bridge, tied from neck to ankle and with a gag shoved rudely into its mouth, was Ionia, rolling back and forth in front of the crowd, trying to wriggle itself free. The townspeople simply stood by, watching it struggle - they made no move to assist it, unsure of who, or exactly what, it was.

After some struggling and some muffles, Ionia finally managed to undo its own gag, delightfully congratulating itself once it did.

Now that that's done, could you please be a darling and stand me up?" it asked, not recognizing Lucas right away. He obliged, gripping Ionia around its waist and hoisting it up as powerfully as he could, managing to get it back onto its own two feet. "Marvellous! Thank you, darling!" it laughed, hopping in place happily.

"Ionia," Lucas asked, "what happened? Who did this to you?"

"I have no idea!" it replied once it calmed down, wide-eyed. "I'd been tied up for a while, and I've been trying to recall anything about my attacker, but nothing!

when suddenly, I was physically assaulted!" Ionia was stressed and excited all at once, putting on a show for the watching crowd. "What an unfabulous time to be attacked!" it lamented, leaning back against the bridge's handrail.

"I...getting attacked isn't ever-"

"Hold on!" Ionia suddenly called, lurching forward awkwardly and leaning in, getting a better look at Lucas.

"Uh, yeah," he answered. "We met on the tracks between Tazmily and the factory. You were, um, taking a bath at the time."

"Yes, yes, and I unlocked your hidden potential. I remember now." It stood back up straight. "I remember it like it was - oh, silly me, it was yesterday!" It gave a girlish giggle at its forgetfulness, furthering the confusion among the crowd on its gender. "It seems that the thread of fate has led us to each other again.

And my, in just a teeny little day, how much your powers have grown!" it chirped. "I can feel them from here! Learning PK Love was one thing the other day, but I never expected you to get good at it in such a short time!" It gasped, suddenly remembering something. "That reminds me. Your innate skill with PSI...

for tens of thousands of years, am I right?"

Lucas didn't know anything about that. It was just yesterday that he realized he could even use psychic powers at all. "Um...maybe?"

"Can you sense it too? Can you feel 'the time' drawing nearer and nearer?" Lucas was confused about Ionia's...eccentric character. He was never informed of any apparent prophecy and he wasn't sure if he could believe Ionia when it said it was many thousands of years old. Then again, he did remember it being very weird, if at least friendly, when they first met. "It's okay if you can't," it continued when Lucas said nothing. "I'm not entirely sure about it myself."

I hope Aeolia is alright!" He didn't bother asking who that was, assuming it was just another friend of Ionia's. It began hoping back and forth across the bridge, shacking its head and moaning with worry. "If someone is going around and attacking Magypsies...I wish I could fly to Aeolia, but I can hardly do anything without my makeup! All I can do is walk on land like a human. This is a travesty!

"Ionia..." he began, whispering. "You're all over the place. Could you please calm down?"

Ionia took a deep breath, standing in place as it did. "Yes, you're right," it apologized. "But there's still a very real threat here. I need to get to Aeolia's house as quickly as I can, and with you and your, well, to be frank, your astounding growth with your PSI, you'd make the perfect escort. Would you mind, darling?"

At first, he thought about his mother's grave, and how he promised himself that he would thank her for saving them. But, knowing her, she probably would have told him to put Ionia before herself, and that she had all the time in the world. "Sure," he answered.

The crowd groaned audibly in disgust. "I mean that in the nicest, most platonic way, of course," it clarified, without a giggle or a wink for seriousness. "Aeolia lives on the outskirts of what you call the 'Sunshine Forest', approaching the Drago Plateau. We could get there quickest by going straight up this river," it said, turning around and looking all the way upstream until it bent out of sight, "but..."

"Hold on, you guys," somebody from the crowd said. Lucas and Ionia turned to their right, towards the speaker.

but if it's up the river you need to go, then it's our time to shine!" The man and who was probably his brother were constantly moving their arms and hands back and forth, as though they were rowing some pretend boat. "We have a boat we'd love to finally break in, so if you'd just follow us, we can have you up the river in a jiffy."

They turned and walked down the riverside, expecting the trio to follow behind them. Lucas didn't get any bad feelings from them, at least, and Ionia was eager, so they went along.

"We just love to row our boat, you see," the other one said. "We used to be boat-less for quite some time, until we pooled up enough money to buy this beauty."

"We just got it!" the first chimed in, so proud of their purchase. "It's the greatest boat ever!" Lucas didn't really know about that - it was a tiny schooner, barely large enough to hold a dozen people. But it looked sturdy and the paint was fresh, and he hadn't seen a lot of other boats in his time, so what did he know? "We want to use it to sail beyond the horizon, away from the Nowhere Islands, but we want to start small and break it in with, say, a leisurely cruise up the river."

"Oh, my!" Ionia said with glee, "that's very ambitious of you two! Even I don't really know what's beyond the horizon!"

"Thanks! You'll help us practice by getting in, of course?"

"Of course!" Ionia hopped into the boat first, eagerly anticipating the ride. "I've flown all my life, but I've never ridden on a boat or anything before. I hope its fun!"

The rowers stepped into the boat after Lucas and Boney, taking either end and picking up a pair of oars. "Get ready for the experience of a lifetime!" said the other, and they were off, rowing upstream.


"Thank you sooooo much for the ride, boys!" Ionia called, hopping up and down in appreciation, still tied from neck to ankle. "That would have taken sooooo long on foot!"

"Don't mention it!" the older one replied, waving back to it. "You better hurry on to your friend!"

"We will! Thanks again!"

Once they were out of the rowers' earshot, Ionia spoke again. "That was pretty boring," it commented. Lucas laughed a little. "But it was nice of them to offer us the ride. No doubt it would have taken us so much longer if we walked." It hobbled forward excitedly, recognizing where they were. "Hurry on, now! Aeolia's house is just up ahead!"

It was a short walk from where the rowers had dropped them off, but soon, in its own little clearing surrounded on all sides by mountain, was a large, deep pond, and sitting on the very centre of the pond was an enormous conch shell with a string of pink rocks leading up to it. It had been fashioned into a house, complete with a door and some windows on its sides.

They showed themselves into the shell, and they were greeted by a warmly-coloured interior with a fancy bed and a well-to-do table with four teacups sitting in a square on it. Otherwise, the shell was fairly bare of much furniture and was actually quite lonely.

"Hello?" they heard someone call from inside the shell. "Who's shown themselves into my home?"

"Aeolia!" Ionia squealed, bouncing ahead as quickly as it could. Sitting in the back of the 'house' was one of Ionia's friends, apparently sharing the same fashion sense: high-heeled shoes and a long, glimmering, flowing gown of red with a fluffy hood, along with a bright-pink afro and a pair of ruby-red lips, all clashing fiercely with a dark aftershave around the person's face. "Aeolia, are you okay? Has anything happened?"

Aeolia looked very surprised to see Ionia in the state it was in.

"This is no time to be silly, Aeolia!" Ionia chided, and they both giggled girlishly. "I was attacked. I didn't see by who and I don't know why, but as soon as I was rescued, I came right here to see if you were alright."

Aeolia uncrossed and crossed its legs, putting its left on top of its right. "I'm just fine, dear. I'm as lovely as ever, you see?" It opened up its arms, showing off its coat and sleeves, showing that not a speck of scuff was anywhere on them. "But never mind me. Why don't you untie yourself already?"

"What rope?" Ionia obliviously asked.

"The one you're tied up in, silly!"

Lucas, be a gentleman, would you? Honestly, I even had to undo my own gag! Have you no sense of courtesy?"

Lucas blushed in embarrassment and got behind Ionia, fiddling with the knots for a bit before managing to get one undone, and the rest simply fell apart after. "You were," he stuttered, nearly losing his nerve to reply, "you didn't stand still long enough for me to help."

"Excuses," it answered light-heartedly. Lucas couldn't tell if Ionia was actually mad or not. Once it was free of the ropes, it showed itself to Aeolia's mirror, striking several poses in front of it while it admired itself.

"I'm just too sexy for Tazmily, even without my makeup!" it laughed, winking and blowing kisses to itself. "But, oh, I feel so naked without it. Do you mind, Aeolia...?"

Aeolia looked over to its dresser, which Ionia was already wrist-deep in, trying to find some makeup for it to put on. "Go ahead, then," it sighed heavily, uncrossing and crossing its legs once more.

That was the first time he definitively heard one of those things address another with a gender-specific pronoun, but even still he wasn't entirely convinced. "It's a pleasure to meet you," Aeolia said, extending a hand for Lucas to shake while Ionia busied itself.

Ionia quickly powdered its nose and applied blush to its cheeks, running the lipstick across its lips and smacking them together for itself. "All done," it said uneasily, "but even with my makeup all on, I still have this bad feeling." It rested its chin on its right hand, humming to itself. "What could it be? What am I feeling...?

In an instant, the light flooding in from the open porch grew dark, and the breeze that had been flowing in gently stopped very abruptly.

All at once, they heard a shrill noise split the calm air, and the shade was replaced by a flash of red light. The ground began to rumble violently; what few ornaments Aeolia had placed along the walls of the conch shell began to rattle in place and shake off their hooks, crashing to the floor.

Boney whined and barked, afraid of all the new sensations all of a sudden, and Lucas lurched back and forth in the earthquake, trying to keep his balance. "What's happening?!" he yelled over the noise, but, peculiarly, Ionia and Aeolia didn't respond. Ionia, in fact, hardly even seemed to register all the movement at all; instead it looked away sadly, out the window and over the pond. It seemed to know exactly what was going on.

Off in the distance was a thin pillar of light reaching over the mountains, vaguely in Tazmily's direction. It shone a brilliant white before turning an assortment of different colours, washing the land in its blues and reds and greens.

While the land shook, he could hear the rocks dislodge from the cliffs nearby and crash hard onto the ground and the pond all around them, and he could hear the trees sway without any wind; but loudest of all was a sound he never heard before. It was a deep pulse that reverberated over all the other sounds, and with each two beats, like a heartbeat, there was another shock through the ground and all throughout the island.

The whole thing went on for far too long. Lucas gripped onto Ionia for support, trying to ride the whole thing out, but without knowing what was going on, he couldn't help but feel so scared. Mercifully, it eventually ended with a massive flash of white light, and all at once, everything stopped: the shaking; the rumbling; the huge, loud heartbeat; and the pillar of light disappeared from the sky with the final flash. Everything had stopped all at once.

"Is it over?" Lucas asked redundantly. Everything had stopped their shaking, except for him. He pulled himself away from Ionia and tried to steady his hands, but he couldn't keep his jitters under control.

"Well," Aeolia finally said after the whole commotion. "This is inconvenient."

"Aeolia!" Ionia shrieked. "Your body! Your body! Your body! It's disappearing!"

"But," Ionia began, its voice cracking, "if...if you're starting to disappear, then does that mean that...your Needle..."

"The Needle that I've protected at Osohe castle for so long has been pulled. Someone," it stuttered, nearly unable to find its own words for the situation - it was inevitable, it knew, but it still never expected it. "Someone able to pull the Needles has finally arrived. The Dark Dragon sealed away by the seven Needles will awaken...and soon."

Ionia began to visibly quiver at the idea. It had lived for tens of thousands of years, but for the first time, its life was in actual peril. The consequences, at least on a personal scale, were very dire for the Magypsies. "What are you talking about?" Lucas asked, entirely in the dark about the scenario. Dragons? Needles?

Neither of them answered him, engrossed in their own issues over the development. After a moment, Aeolia raised a hand, opening its palm towards the table in the centre of the room, and quickly, it began to float into the air, revealing a tunnel crudely cut out of the carpet below it.

"You can get to the courtyard of Osohe castle through this underground path," Aeolia said with a flighty giggle. "If my Needle really has been pulled, then I'll be disappearing in a moment."

"No!" Ionia nearly shrieked.

"But as sudden as it is, I have no regrets," it continued, smiling. "I'm very worried for the world, don't get me wrong, but I've done all I can, and that's all I can do." The smile waned from its lips rather quickly. "Still, we want to know who pulled it.

The answer may change the fate of the world as we know it." Aeolia gave a shiver, hugging its extravagant coat closer to it for warmth.

Bye-bye!" It gave one last wink and it blew a kiss, and then, before their very eyes, Aeolia melted into the air, disappearing from their sight.

You were an openhearted person," it grieved. "That's why we got along so well."

Ionia sniffled, turning away from Lucas for a moment. He didn't say anything; he knew what it was like to lose a best friend, and there wasn't much he could say to cheer Ionia up at the moment. "I mustn't cry," it chided itself. Lucas had been there many times, too. "This is Aeolia's eye-shadow, and I mustn't ruin it." But not there, although he wasn't going to judge how the Magypsies honour each other's memories.

Where Aeolia once sat, remained a single bit of lipstick, and a high-quality electric razor. They both looked very well-used and well-maintained, like they were very valuable to whoever they belonged to. Lucas picked them both up: with what Ionia had given him the power and the confidence to do, he felt as though he had a favour to repay to the Magypsies, even if they were only introduced a few minutes ago. He took Aeolia's mementos, as a reminder of what those Needles could do and who he was trying to protect.

Ionia took a few deep breaths to calm itself, keeping its face hidden from him and Boney while it gathered up its courage. When it was ready, it turned back around: it managed to keep its composure, since none of its makeup was runny. "Okay!" it laughed openly. "Aeolia gave us a job to do!

Lead the way, schnookums!" it giggled, stepping aside for Lucas to enter the hole first. The tunnel it went into was very spacious and poorly lit, but the few cracks in the ceiling were just enough to let enough light in to show them the way, along with the occasional flickering torchlight, still lit after years of neglect. The stone had purpled with age and the walls were crumbling down everywhere, and the occasional, uneasy drip from the ceiling told them whenever they were underneath a pond or a river.

Tired, forgotten creatures inhabited the underground, wrapped in sheets of gauze from ear to tail. Perhaps jealous of Lucas and Boney for their heartbeats, or vengeful for having been discarded into the depths of the underworld as they had, they were very aggressive creatures.

Though time had made them frail.

They were soon greeted by an underground river, flowing steadily alongside their walk in the cavern. Lucas leaned over, looking up- and downstream, trying to see if there was any way aboveground from where they were, but the river snaked around corners and out of his vision before he could tell. He didn't want to say anything since he wasn't absolutely sure, but he had a hunch that the river they were standing next to was the moat running around Osohe.

It was apparently a popular place for some of the mummified cats running through the dungeon.

Ionia wasn't fond of them.

Thankfully the path through the underground was very straightforward. There was the occasional bend in the way, but it never detoured them for very far and backtracking was easy, even in the dim light. With the stream nearby, it was easier to keep track of which direction they were heading, as well.

The walk wasn't very long or difficult, which was refreshing for a change. Shortly after they had left Aeolia's conch shell home, they reached the end of the tunnel. It had another ladder going straight up into the open air above, leading into Osohe castle's courtyard.

The fresh breeze and the clean air was a refreshing change of pace from the stagnation of the underground tunnel. The manhole opened into a small, grassy field, surrounded by the castle on all sides, with a mound of dirt risen in the centre of if it were trying to showcase something in particular.

"So the Needle really has been pulled," Ionia sighed as they approached. Lucas had never been to the courtyard, or even inside Osohe castle before, so he didn't know what to expect to find. However, in the centre of the field, some cut stone had been arranged in a circle around a hole that was billowing a purplish gas, so it wasn't a stretch to imagine that something was there.

Ionia skipped up to the hole quickly, inspecting it for a moment, before looking around the area for clues on whoever had beaten them there. "I can't even begin to imagine who could have pulled it," it said, still scanning the area for footprints or anything else to go by.

That's the legend, anyway, but I don't sense anyone or anything here at all."

"Maybe whoever pulled it left?" Lucas offered.

"No, no, you misunderstand," Ionia clarified. "I don't sense a heart of good or evil. But the Needles can definitely only be pulled by a person." There was a pause, when Ionia giggled lightly to itself. "How mysterious. Could there be people in this world without hearts?"

Ionia looked back to the gaseous cloud, pondering what it was going to say.

I knew that was silly, of course; as long as the Needles existed, someone was going to release it some day.'s been so many years that I suppose I got...carefree." It took another long pause. "We still have a chance," it said, turning to Lucas. "You were able to learn PK Love. It's a very special ability; not even we Magypsies can learn it, like I told you yesterday. So you could probably..."

It trailed off, lost in its own thoughts. He never saw Ionia quite so riled up and nervous before. "'Probably' what?" Lucas asked when it did not finish its sentence.

I need to tell you about the Needles, and how it concerns the whole world...and it could concern you."

There was no flighty giggle or wink as it spoke. It was clearly a very serious matter to Ionia, and since Aeolia disappeared right in front of his eyes when somebody pulled its own Needle, if nothing else, he had to listen for the sake of the other Magypsies.

Ionia seemed very lax about its life literally hanging on by a Needle. "Like Aeolia said, we've done all we can our long lives," it smiled. "We haven't had any regrets about leaving for many years, now.

"But there's one other legend," Ionia continued, and Lucas continued to listen.

"So," he asked, "you're going to want me to pull all these Needles and save the world?"

"Is it too much to ask, schnookums?"

The whole debacle started when old man Wess asked him to go to a popular jazz club and rescue his three-year-missing amnesiac son, and now he was being asked to save the world from some kind of enormous dragon by pulling Needles out of the ground. And it all started just yesterday!

But with everything he had learned and all the friends he had made in such a short time, he knew he couldn't have declined. "I'll do it," he said, and although he knew it was a heavy burden to bear, just yesterday he would have crawled into bed and waited for his father to come home if he was asked the same thing. Now, he hardly even flinched.

Before Ionia could respond gratefully, a ringtone cut through the air, playing a low-quality yet very loud tune. He spun around, toward where the noise was coming from. Hidden in the grass of the courtyard was a small device, shaking and vibrating occasionally while the tune kept playing. It had a number of buttons on it, and two speakers on either end. He had never seen something like it before, and simply pressed one of the buttons, trying to see what it wanted from him.

"Hello?" he heard a faint, scratchy voice say. The ringing had stopped completely, and the device stopped vibrating in his hands. "C-Commander, are you there?" the voice asked again, coming from one of the speakers from the machine, and he figured the device must have belonged to the Pigmask commander. Lucas didn't really know what to think about it - how was he hearing a person speak through such a small thing? - but if he could pass for their commander physically, maybe he sounded like him enough, too.

"Hello?" Lucas asked into the machine, bringing it closer to his head, speaking into the same speaker.

But but but the monkey! We need the monkey! The monkey can open it but we don't have the monkey because the monkey got away! I'll explain the details later but we need your monkey! No, gah, stupid me, not your monkey, the monkey!"

"Hey," Lucas attempted to say, to try and calm the person down, but the guy in the device was ecstatic and couldn't stop talking.

"Please, sir, just come to the Chimera Lab, as soon as you can! You remember the way, right?"

"I," Lucas said before he realized the man asked him a question. It was difficult to keep up with his rushed speaking. "No?"

"But anyway, you take the Cross Road train from Tazmily to the factory, and when you get there, go west from the ropeway station that's behind the building. Got that?"

Lucas replayed the instructions in his head a few times, until he was confident he had it memorized. It wasn't that hard, at least. "Got it."

"Please, sir, come as soon as you can!" Then the device beeped once, and it fell silent once again. He looked at the peculiar machine, wondering how he managed to speak to a person when one obviously couldn't fit inside. He decided to take it rather than drop it back to the grass.

"All set?" Ionia asked when Lucas put the device into his pocket. He nodded once, returning to its side. "You see that ladder over there?" Ionia pointed. "It's a shortcut back to Tazmily.

And before you go," it hummed, reaching into one of its own pockets and withdrawing a fistful of paper. "Take these with you. I don't know what they are, but I've collected them over the years, and I hear humans use them a lot, so you'll probably have more use for them than me."

Lucas reached forward with both his hands, letting Ionia drop the paper into his open palms. It was a load of money, and from the looks of it, it was an enormous sum. "Ionia, there's, like, six or seven hundred Dragon Points here," he said. Beating out the paycheque he earned from the factory by quite a bit.

"Well, like I said, I have no idea what they even are, so please, just take them, sweety," it winked. "You might need them more than me."

Ionia turned around and took a few steps. "I'm sure we'll meet again," it winked,

With a flighty giggle, it waved to them, and, weirdly, Ionia just seemed to...drift away.

Once Ionia had completely left his sight, he turned back to the way out of the castle's courtyard. "Come on, Boney," he called, and Boney followed happily back down underground, on their way back to Tazmily.

The newer tunnel was considerably more mouldy and dank, with fewer lights to lead the way for him. They hadn't gotten very far into the new tunnels when he felt the same familiar fever he had gotten so many times in a day and a bit.

While it made walking and focusing a bit of a chore, he was still excited for whatever new powers he was going to get.

The single long tunnel bent a few times, but it wasn't a very long walk until they got to a bolted door. The lock was on their side, thankfully, so with a heavy heave, he managed to get the massive iron bolt off the door. An easy shove later showed them into an enormous underground cavern with running water as its only ambience.

The walls all around were pitch black, seemingly going on forever. They were fairly high up on a set of precarious cliffs, branching off in several directions: a ladder continuing straight down in front of them, with a set of stairs going up to their right. Lucas had no idea which way led where, but he figured that going up would at least put them in the right direction.

The caverns underneath Osohe castle were covered in more unfriendly creatures, and his sudden fever didn't make pushing them off any easier.

As deep down and as expansive as the caverns were, the only safe path to walk on wasn't very long. A ladder going back up was just nearby, leading them into a small, circular room inside what he assumed was the castle. And from there, it led them into the castle's cellar.

Worried for his own safety and for Boney's, Lucas decided to use his PK Love once more to push them away, but as he raised his hand and began to concentrate, he suddenly felt himself use a different PSI trick all-together.

At the very least, his fever disappeared at the same time, making focusing on the fights at hand much easier to deal with.

The rest of the way out was straightforward. Another ladder from the cellar led into the kitchen, and from there into the castle's foyer. He nearly got lost from there, but a few quick turns around the floor of the castle led them to the open front doors, showing them into the castle's yard, and from there, into Nippolyte's graveyard.

He hadn't forgotten his directions to the Chimera Lab, either. They just amounted to 'take a left at the Titiboo ropeway', but he instead chanted what the man had told him over the device occasionally as they went, just to be certain that he would never be mistaken about his directions.

Lucas had forgotten all about paying his respects to his mother; he was so swept up in everything he had learned less than an hour ago that he nearly walked right through the graveyard without giving Hinawa a passing thought. Boney, however, immediately stopped in his tracks and began to sniff the ground, barking twice to get his master's attention.

Lucas turned around, watching him as he sniffed and roamed the ground, trying to find what had just gotten his attention so raptly. Perking his ears up and looking east, he suddenly realized what it was and cut Lucas off, before they could go any further.

He bit into the hem of Lucas's shirt, trying to drag him to where Boney suddenly wanted to go. "Hey, boy," said Lucas, wrestling with his dog, trying to free himself from his grip. "What are you doing?" Boney made no other noise; he simply tugged and pulled on the shirt, trying to drag Lucas to his mother's grave. When Boney managed to get him past Nippolyte's destroyed shack, he remembered his promise and stopped putting up a fight, walking himself to his mother's grave.

He hadn't expected to find anyone already there, but tending to the grounds was Nippolyte, tidying up the grass that began to overgrow underneath the tombstone. Another sunflower from Flint's little batch had sprouted in the short time he had been gone. When he heard Boney's enthusiastic barking, Nippolyte picked himself back up, turning towards Hinawa's son.

He was just here, visiting your mother."

Lucas sighed, looking away. He was really worried about his dad. Flint had lost his wife in a tragedy three years ago, and his other son had gone missing almost immediately after. He was running himself ragged trying to find anything about Claus - a body, alive or dead, to give himself peace of mind. It wasn't fun for Lucas, either: he had lost a brother and a mother, and at the rate Flint was going, he was worried that he was going to lose his father sometime soon, as well.

"Guess not," Nippolyte answered for him. "He's probably head back into the mountains yet again to look for Claus."

Lucas shifted uncomfortably on his feet. He loved his father, and it hurt him to think about what he was doing to himself. "Can I...?" he asked without looking up, and Nippolyte, wisely anticipating what he wanted, stepped aside so that Lucas could get a better look at his mother.

Nippolyte kept right on talking, though, oblivious - or maybe insensitive - to Lucas's discomfort with the topic. "Look for Claus, visit Hinawa's grave. Look for Claus, visit Hinawa's grave. It's all your old man ever does anymore." It was a difficult pill to swallow, but Nippolyte was right. He wondered if his father even realized he was missing.

"I know what you're thinking," Nippolyte began suddenly, his tone much deeper. "But you're his only salvation, Lucas. He thinks about you all the time."

Lucas choked up a bit, thinking that a lie to console him. He thought about his father, still roaming the mountains after three years for his lost little boy, when, at times, it seemed like he had forgotten that he still had another one to look after at home. "He's never said that to me."

"Well, you know how your father is about his emotions. He acts them better than he says them. It's just that,

You've grown up to be a truly good lad, and he couldn't be prouder."

"Then why," Lucas said, nearly sobbing through his words, "doesn't he tell me that? Why you, but not me?"

"Because, Lucas, he knows what he's doing to himself. It hurt you the most, three years ago. You couldn't go a day without crying a sack of tears. But you've managed to move past it and heal. Your father, though, he never did, and he knew that it was often harder on you than on him when he wasn't there to greet you in the morning. He doesn't want you to see him the way he is; he's worried about what you might say, or what you might think of him, and he believes that if he can find Claus and bring him back, you wouldn't be ashamed of the way he's been acting for the last three years.

"To that end," Nippolyte concluded, reaching into his pocket and drawing out a small badge. It was rusty and dirty; well-worn after many, many years of appreciation. "This is your father's.

He says it's a good-luck charm that your pop's treasured since he was a boy himself, and he wanted you to have it. Says you can have more use for it than him at this point." Lucas accepted the badge, looking it over. He tried to scrape away some of the grime with his fingernails, but it was stubborn; it had some writing and what appeared to be a symbol of some kind on it, but he couldn't tell underneath all the dirt and rust.

You can bet that badge that she appreciates you visiting her every day. Even if you might be a little late this time." He got back on his knees to tend to the weeds growing around the tombstone. "Her home is safe in my hands, so if you're done here, I can get back to doing what I'm doing."

Lucas ran his fingers over the badge once more. It looked like it was glamorous at one point, but now, he could barely tell what colour it was supposed to be underneath the dirt. "Thanks, Nippolyte," he said, and the old man waved his hand over his shoulder as Lucas tucked the badge away and left for the train station. "And...thank you, mom," he whispered, too low for Nippolyte to hear.

He barely managed to get out of the cemetery when he heard a familiar ringtone. Reflexively, he looked around for a moment, trying to spot where the sound was coming from, when he felt a vibration in his pocket, and remembered that he was carrying the same device from the castle's courtyard. Taking it out, he pressed the same button on it, and held it the same way as he spoke into it. "Hello?"

"Huh?" he asked.

"No, no, never mind!" the man hollered, very stressed. "I'm just spouting nonsense. Everyone is waiting in the Chimera Lab!"

Lucas looked around. The train station was normally very busy, but this one time in particular, it seemed practically barren. "Uh," he stuttered and hesitated, but the man cut him off before he could continue.

"You're probably just waiting for the train," he concluded. "Or on the train. Or in your Pork Ship! But whatever! Please, just get here as soon as you can!" And just like that, the device beeped and shut off once again.

"Well," Lucas said to Boney as he put the device back down, "I guess it's important." He was worried most about getting a ticket for the train to the factory. For factory workers, they were a paltry fifty Dragon Points a pop, and he still had most of the money from working at the factory left over. But since it was only a temporary thing, he didn't know if he ever counted as a factory worker. They could always run down the tracks again, but the man in the device kept urging that it was so very important, and the jog would take hours.

However, as they passed the station's landing, he saw on their board that they were offering 'so cheap, they're practically free' rates for their tickets. A single ticket, no matter what job a person had, was just fifty Dragon Points. He had enough! More than enough, thanks to Ionia! He'd finally be able to ride the train!

They're so cheap, they're practically free! Just fifty DP!" The attendant must have been instructed to recite the slogan on command.

Lucas was wrist-deep in his other pocket, when he couldn't help but ask the obvious question. "Why is the rate so low, now?"

"Because the factory has shut down," the attendant said. "And with the factory gone, there's no incentive for anyone to go out in the middle of nowhere. So...we've fallen on some hard times. We need to sell tickets, however we can." Lucas brought up a fistful of money, offering it to the attendant for his tickets. The man counted it on the spot, faster than Lucas could realize. "You just barely have enough DP to ride the green train, if you'd like," he noted.

Lucas was intrigued, and surprised: did Ionia somehow know he was going to need money quickly? "What's the difference?"

"Aside from it being green, it's faster, the seats are more comfortable, and it comes with lunch."

Lucas wanted his first ride on the train to be a memorable one - and he was starving anyway, so it couldn't hurt. "Sure."

Before he was given a chance to change his mind, the attendant simply pocketed the money. And just in time: the green train had just arrived at the station in Tazmily.

He was practically giddy when he stepped off the train, excited that he had finally ridden one ever since it arrived in Tazmily. He was happy that he finally had something to eat, too, and Boney felt likewise. The ride only lasted less than half an hour, but it was quite a bit better than having to walk the whole way. His only real reservation about the train ride was that he and his dog were the only passengers on it, but he didn't think very much of it.

But he remembered his instructions, and his directions. Once the train left back into the tunnel for Tazmily, he and Boney picked up their pace, running back through the factory's grounds towards the ropeway in the back.

He only remembered why he even knew the word 'chimera' to begin with once they got to the ropeway and went west. Some newer ones that he had never seen before were beginning to emerge, and their density got thicker the closer they got to wherever they were going.

Immediately west of the ropeway was a large pond...

...and just beyond that...

...was an enormous building, fenced off and heavily guarded on the front. Many warning signs (including a massive, stuffed beast-like...thing hanging menacingly over the front door) surrounded the building, telling any would-be travellers to stay away from the area and keep to themselves.

As if the local fauna wasn't enough to convince them already.

Standing guard at the Chimera Lab's front door was a simple Pigmask, unmoving from its spot even as Lucas approached. He knew he looked an awful lot like their commander; he just hoped that he could still pass for him, even without the jacket or Boney's helmet. "Oh, you're that part-timer from the other day!" the Pigmask finally said happily once Lucas was close enough for it to recognize. "Perfect timing. Keep watch for me here, would ya?

Then it simply turned around and went inside, to help its comrades with the problem. While that wasn't quite how Lucas had imagined it going for him, it was still a welcome entry for him: with nothing and nobody in his way, he stepped inside the Chimera Lab after the Pigmask.

To start my post-update update, I'd like to draw attention to the screenshots just after Aeolia begins blinking once its Needle is pulled. The screenshots say that the person speaking is actually Ionia, but this is clearly just a bug, given the context and timing of who's speaking at the time. I'm currently using the 1.00 patch for the translation, and I know that there's a 1.01 fix out there somewhere, but I never updated it because I actually kinda like the nit-and-gritty of it. It's still a fantastic translation, but it reminds me that it was done just by some dudes like you and me

Moving on, I've noticed that at many points in the game, the narrator refers to the Magypsies as "her"s and "she"s, meaning I should be using gender-specific pronouns whenever I refer to them. The populace in the game themselves are rightfully confused about them, but still seem to lean towards female.

I still refer to them using gender-neutral words, though, which is entirely a stylistic choice. The reason why has actually been spoiled earlier in the thread, if you're willing to brave the black highlights to satisfy your curiosity.

The Adventures of Doorknob continue in this chapter:

Have some foreshadowing (which Super Smash Brothers Brawl also managed to spoiler pretty good ):

[Referring to Biff and Butch]

One thing that happened to catch my eye is that this game is actually fairly foul-mouthed. I know Japan has some...lighter cultural restrictions on using expletives and censorship in general, and since I've been raised in a society where swearing in an E-rated game is a big no-no, this particularly catches my eye:

(This guy just kinda flies off the handle if you refuse to buy a train ticket and suggest you be a dumbass and walk down the tracks)

You can ride in either the red train, for 100 DP total, or the green train, for 400 DP total. It makes no difference other than its palette and its music (and its cost, obviously), but I wanted Lucas to finally have a good time for once in his life and let him splurge. Of course, I'm not going to skimp out on posting the red train's music, so:

Last but not least: