The Let's Play Archive

Phantasy Star 2

by Thuryl

Part 32: Ageless Wisdom

Chapter 27: Ageless Wisdom

We stood in the courtyard of a great mansion. Its walls were kept spotlessly clean and painted a thousand subtly different shades of white, creating barely-perceptible images of ancient heroes and mythical creatures that disappeared when I stood too close or too far, but were visible when I stood at just the right distance. A thin layer of snow covered the domed roof.

Two robed figures stood at the open gates, smiling benevolently.

They greeted me and stepped aside, beckoning for me to enter the mansion. How had these people, living so far from any source of news, known my name? Normally I would have been suspicious, but in this place I felt an overwhelming sense of peace that dispelled all my concerns.

"Buried? I've come all this way looking for a dead man?"

I felt like a fool. The group of refugees I'd been searching for was a cult devoted to the memory of some long-dead hero, believing some half-baked legend about his future resurrection, and they'd somehow convinced themselves that their legend involved me. Still, I could feel a strange power in the air. Even if they were nothing more than a cult, perhaps they still had something of value to tell me. After coming all this way, I wouldn't leave without hearing them out.

"Wait, so he's awoken before? Ah, of course -- you've been keeping him in suspended animation! But why would he want to sleep for so long?"

A legendary hero, staying on this icy planet and watching the progress of Algo over the centuries... what a noble sacrifice to make for the sake of Algo's people.

The acolytes led me down a flight of stairs to the austere underground chamber where their master rested in cryogenic stasis.

"Why do you say that?" I asked. "If he's your master, surely you look to him for guidance? And besides, I gather he specifically asked to be awakened when I came here. I don't know why he thinks I'm so important, but it seems to me that you should respect his wishes."

The acolyte looked down and shuffled his feet guiltily. "Well, yes, but when we have visitors around... the thing is, when he's around people, he can be a little... well, never mind. I suppose there's nothing to be done about it. Behold our master, Noah Lutz!"

The acolyte pressed a button on the side of the chamber and the insulating shield slid aside, revealing the master's stasis capsule.

The capsule itself then slid open to reveal a slim, long-haired man. His eyes slowly opened, and he yawned, sat up and turned his body to face me.

"Um, hi," he said. "I suppose you must be Rolf. Could you wait upstairs for just a second while I put my robes on? The acolytes tend to be picky about that sort of thing."

"But... I wasn't even aboard..."

No, I realised. I was. My fragmented memories of that day were coming together. My parents were agents just like me, and had been called upon to help with the emergency evacuation of Dezo. They couldn't find a babysitter at such short notice, and there'd be plenty of room left on the spaceship after the last of the evacuees were taken aboard, so they decided to take me with them and let me stay on board. After all, it would be my only chance to see Dezo, even if only through the window of a spaceship.

Except that the ship never reached Dezo. It veered off course due to a computer error, straight into the path of an exploration vessel. And Lutz... yes, I remembered a man standing over me as air rushed out of the doomed spaceship, then a flash of light, then waking up in hospital. Lutz must have teleported me to safety.

Alis... now that was a name it took me a moment to remember. I hadn't heard it since childhood. Alis was a storybook heroine, a teenage girl who supposedly freed Algo from the iron-fisted rule of an evil king a thousand years ago. It was the usual inspirational fare, to remind us that we lived in a better age and should be thankful that such heroism and sacrifices were no longer necessary in today's world. But if Lutz was telling me that Alis was a real person who really overthrew a tyrant in ancient times, I had every reason to believe him.

Things that cannot be seen? Nei's weapons? I couldn't quite understand what Lutz meant, but if he wanted me to do something, I trusted him enough to do it. After all, he'd saved my life.

Lutz handed me a small, plain wooden box. Inside was a fist-sized, many-faceted gemstone, shining with a brilliant light that seemed to come from inside the gem itself.

"The legendary arms?" I asked. "I wish I could help you, but I don't know anything about them."

Lutz nodded. "Yes. The weapons and armour of Nei, so named because they allow their wielder to transcend human limitations. They are hidden in ruins across this planet."

Nei... the peaceful young woman I knew for too short a time shared a name with the most powerful weapons in Algo. Fate had a sense of irony, and I was starting to feel like the butt of all its jokes. Maybe Lutz could help me change that.

"Lutz," I said, "you've lived for so long and seen so much of Algo. You must have accumulated great wisdom. Surely you have some proverb or prediction to guide me?"

For a moment, Lutz was silent. "Well, I can only speak from my own experience, but I'll do my best. When you're living in a cave, and a young woman comes to you and offers to fight by your side, you will begin a journey that teaches you more about the world and about yourself."

He knew about Shir! I hadn't even realised it before I met her, but I'd spent my whole life trapped in a metaphorical cave: keeping my own emotions confined underground, in the darkness. If I had changed because of her, it was a part of my spiritual journey, and to be welcomed, not feared.

"That's more helpful than I could possibly have hoped for. You're truly a fount of wisdom, Lutz. Is there anything else you can tell me?"

Lutz's eyebrows raised in faint surprise. "You're the first person in a long time to be so interested in my advice. Let me think... okay, I've got one. Never try to sell ice cream to a Dezorian."

Lutz had an apt, down-to-earth way of speaking profound truths. I should focus my attention on helping those who need my help, rather than those who neither need nor want it. I'd been fighting for the people of Mota despite their lack of gratitude, while at the same time I was taking my friends for granted. Lutz was warning me to reassess my priorities.

"Wise advice, Lutz. Could you share a little more of your wisdom? I still need your guidance."

Lutz tilted his head to one side pensively. "Hmm. I don't know if this information will be much help to you, but... the fruit of the Laerma tree ripens only under firelight."

Light probably represented knowledge, and fire represented hardship. Hard-won knowledge would bring rewards. I hadn't seen many rewards yet, but I'd gained plenty of hard-won knowledge, so the rewards should be coming any time now.

"So my suffering hasn't all been meaningless. That's very reassuring to know. Please, tell me more."

"I'm honestly not sure what more I can tell you." Lutz scratched his chin. "Ah, I know! When your master gives you his clothes, wash them before putting them on, or else you'll get all itchy."

My master... that had to mean Commander O'Connor. The metaphor Lutz had chosen seemed a bit strange, but I thought I understood it. Lutz was telling me that one day I would take over O'Connor's position as Commander. When that happened, I'd have to wash the job clean of all preconceptions about how I should do it based on how he had done it. If I didn't learn to take advantage of my own strengths rather than the previous Commander's, I'd find my duties too uncomfortable to do them well.

"Thank you very much. I'll be sure to keep that in mind when the time comes. Is that everything you wish to tell me?"

Lutz stared off into space thoughtfully. "Let me see. Oh, there is one more thing -- you might have to die and come back. A lot."

I'd suffered many "deaths" already. My failure to save Teim had brought about the death of my own sense of infallible competence. Nei's death at Climatrol had brought about the death of my belief that doing my duty was always simple and right. My imprisonment on Gaila and the destruction of Palm had brought about the death of my naive faith in Mother Brain's benevolent leadership. Each tragedy changed me and shook my beliefs about myself and the world. But I'd come back from each of my failures stronger than before, as if I'd died and been reborn. As long as I was alive, I could recover from anything, even if it seemed hopeless.

"How true. How very, very true. Is there anything else at all that you could tell me?"

"Hmm. Just give me a moment to think about that." Lutz closed his eyes, clasped his hands over his temples and thought deeply. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open as a flash of inspiration struck him. "Ooh, I've got one last thing! Sometimes the only way to know if you can fly is to jump off a tower and find out."

So I should be more open to taking risks. What could he mean by that? I'd already been risking my life for months now.

No, I knew what he meant. There was one risk I'd refused to take, for fear of losing my grip on my own identity, and with it everything that had given my life meaning until now. Lutz was telling me to risk something more valuable than my life. I had to make a leap of faith, or my heart would remain forever earthbound.

"I'll try my best. Thank you, Lutz, from the bottom of my heart."

Thanks to the wise words of Lutz, the path before me was clear. First, I needed to return home and have a conversation I'd been putting off for too long.