- (11 -> 14/30)Location:
Hat Kid’s Spaceship -> Peach’s Castle - Exteriorfeat.@Gentlemanvaultboy
Linkle Level 3
- (27/30) + 3 - 1Location:
Peach's Castle, Moatside.
Donnie Level 1
- (5/10) + 3Location:
Peach's Castle, BridgeTotal Word Count:
4121 (+3 EXP)
Well… that’s disappointing, but it was to be expected. After all of her hard work to recollect them, Hat Kid found only two of her Time Pieces left on the vault floor where there should be an entire hoard of them. It was almost insulting; as if she was being mocked by her own bad luck. It might have felt that way, anyways, if not for her being lucky enough to find more than zero, in pleasant defiance of her expectations. The fact that they didn’t all
fly out during the crash--despite the vault door being cracked ajar when she found it--was in itself miraculous, but it also invited an alarming new possibility that she couldn’t safely rule out. Come to think of it, if they did
fly out during her descent, wouldn’t she have noticed? Wouldn’t someone
have? She wouldn’t have made it this far otherwise! It was entirely likely (moreso even) that someone broke onto her ship during all the fighting and stole what they could carry before the conflict ended, exploiting the ship’s condition and the telltale nature of its arrival in the hopes of their theft being ruled out as incidental. Yes, she really is
paranoid enough to suspect that, and for good reason. Assuming her suspicions were correct, this wouldn’t make the first time this has happened under her watch, minus the surmised attempt towards subtlety.
Regardless of how
it happened, the result was all the same to Kid. It appeared that she would have another long adventure ahead of her, with the difficulty substantially dialed up. Taking into account that she wouldn’t be able to navigate the world near as easily without her ship in working order, nor would it be as easy to return to it if and when needed, she would have to carefully consider whatever options she had--like whether or not to take either of the Time Pieces with her on her journey. On one hand, it would be undeniably advantageous to have such a powerful insurance policy in her back pocket. On the other, it was also a dangerous amount of power to carry around, and could horrendously backfire in the absolute worst case if she wasn’t careful. She held one of the two leftover hourglasses in her hand and gazed at it pensively for several minutes while she silently deliberated on her course of action. It was a lot for the child to mull over for the no doubt little amount of time she would have to do so. Being spontaneously dropped headlong into a new world where many other worlds incompatibly ran together in spatial and existential disarray was already its own brand of profoundly frustrating--and even upsetting, for some--without being burdened with a repeat of her previous incident on top of it, which effectively made her indirectly responsible for exacerbating the dangers of the New World by inviting another to it. In a world like this, pseudo-magical trinkets with time altering capabilities were just asking
to have their power abused if picked up by anyone else, so the onus fell on her to see to it that it would never come to that. The only question that remained for her at the moment was how she intended to go about doing that.
After coming to her decision, she walked out of the vault, making doubly sure to secure it shut behind her, and made her way into the only other room she could get into on minimal/auxiliary power; the kitchen. It was in even worse shape than the living room after the wreck. Almost none of what she left in the cabinets and drawers or on the countertops was still there. Various condiments, cookware, utensils, cutlery, (mostly) broken dishes, and one appliance (the microwave) littered just about every square foot of the kitchen floor, as well as a portion of the walls and ceiling--to which a few of the sharper objects and the splattered remains of unidentifiable fruits and vegetables were stuck. The fridge hung wide open with all of its visible contents ejected, a series of smears and stains betraying signs of steak, eggs, a partially eaten hock of what was probably ham, and a miniature cosmic horror on a bun making a round trip around the room before coming to a stop in pieces wherever they ended up.
Kid picked up a condensating carton of milk extracted from abducted cows, half empty from spilling, and downed what was left of it as she made her way over to the fridge. It was a little on the warmer side, but thankfully unspoiled (somehow). She tossed aside the now empty carton and pulled the fridge drawer fully open, stashing away the only unbroken bottle of what looked like (and very well could be) wine--a drink she DEFINITELY wasn’t old enough to have--and honed in on what she was actually in there for. She felt equal parts mild satisfaction and disappointment at finding but a single remaining day-old chocolate chip cookie sitting lonely on a plate where a small batch of them would otherwise be. She would take what she could get for now, but was grateful to get anything at all since she hadn’t had one in a long minute. Having now found everything she came back for (for the time being anyways), she shut the fridge behind her and jauntily made for the exit.
She climbed out onto the top of her ship (again, shutting the door behind her) when her attention went to the ranger girl--looking slightly shorter and… ‘ear
-ier’ than before--at the edge of the ruined bridge calling to her. “Oh, hi there!”
she returned, waving back at her. The girl complimented Kid on her diving skills (having apparently witnessed them) before inquiring as to the success of her search, to which she simply nodded in affirmation. Kid placed the cookie in her mouth to free both her hands, sprinted to the edge of the ship closest to the bridge, jumped to it in a long arc, dove, jumped again to correct her momentum, and ran up onto the ledge to take a seat next to the green clad huntress. She withdrew the cookie from her mouth and stared out into the distance of the Mushroom Kingdom sky in the midst of its transition into twilight and took a moment to savor this one period of respite she’d been granted since first she arrived.
After a few quiet seconds had passed, she prepared to bite into her well-earned treat, but hesitated as her eyes darted over to the ranger, who was the first person Hat Kid had met in this world, as well as the first to help her out in any way. Maybe it was the few too many wrongful (if understandable) accusations of selfishness subconsciously poking at her, or just the realization that some were simply more deserving of favor than others--specifically on account of their moral fiber. Either way, it felt more befitting of her to share what little she could than having it all to herself, so she snapped the slightly aged confection almost perfectly down the middle and handed one of the two halves to her new comrade.
Linkle was surprised that the girl had gone as far as to dive off the castle for the single cookie she was now content to give up half of. The absurdity of her acrobatic prowess she'd displayed to get it mixed together with the willingness to give half the prize away mixed together and elicited a giggle from the farm girls lips. Then again, a dive like that might not have been such a big deal for someone who could leap off of bare air like the Kid seemingly could. Linkle opened her mouth to tell her that she'd earned that, to go ahead and enjoy the whole thing, but before any words could come out a deep rumble from her gut cut her off completely. She hadn't had anything to eat all day, the only sustenance in her belly being the moat water that she'd swallowed when she'd been soaked, and her stomach strongly protested any more deprivation than it was already being put through.
With a hint of embarrassment she reached out and took half of the cookie. "Thanks. Cheers!" She tapped her half against the Kids and eagerly tossed it whole into her own mouth. It was a little stale, but still good and sweet and Linkle had always appreciated a little extra crunch in her food. She signed contently and leaned back against the railing. "That sure hit the spot. I hadn't even realized I was hungry. It's been a busy day, huh?" She said, staring out at the setting sun. "Oh." She said, quickly turning back. "I'm Linkle, Hero of Hyrule. Nice to meet ya for real. We didn't really have the time earlier, what with the dragon and everything."
The child was utterly oblivious to the idea of how strange her spent efforts must have looked from Linkle’s perspective, along with the fact that she was having milk and cookie in the sinfully wrong order, or that dinner was being served in the castle (which she had forgotten all about) where dessert (that might include better versions of those things) would likely follow the main courses. Though, unlike her treat, she didn’t feel at all obliged or compelled to share with the Hylian the actual nature of her investigation--one that was technically ongoing, as of now. It wasn’t as if she thought her untrustworthy; quite the opposite, really. In her mind, it was merely a case of ‘the fewer who know, the better,’ and in the case of Linkle, it was probably best to spare her any burden. Being a “Hero” is hard enough as is.
Her default expression of joyous contentment betrayed no such musings as she joined in a cookie toast (hehe) and bit halfway into her portion. Per usual, she didn’t bother divulging her real name (or any name, for that matter) when Linkle introduced herself proper. She simply returned the greeting with a nodding tip of her hat after she finished chewing her first bite. Just as she was about to take her next, she paused when Bowser Jr. excitedly burst through the castle doors issuing orders to the two girls and a gaggle of inattentive, over-equipped rabbit creatures to assist him with a task undoubtedly better suited for a qualified mechanic (no less than two of which he could find inside) than anyone he was attempting to commandeer. He clearly suffered some delusions regarding the chain of command, because last Kid had checked, she didn’t “work for” anyone; not since Subcon anyways. Besides, what would she know about automotive mechanics or engineering? She’s only ever built her own comfortably livable spaceship.
Linkle also watched with interest as Bowser in miniature sprinted past them. “Junior.” The word Bowser had asked in confusion at the appearance of his giant doppelganger. There was no mistake about who that kids dad was. “Cuter than I expected. I was thinking more spikes and fire.” She said to the Kid, pushing herself off the wall and starting to amble on after him. She would have even if he hadn’t demanded it. Stopping someone from going out there had been the whole reason she’d come out of the castle in the first place. “Head on back inside, I smelled dinner cooking. I’m gonna go make sure he doesn't get creamed out there. The rabbits are pretty safe, but there was this spooky robot.”
Linkle hadn’t even taken two steps before her rabbit ears perked up and she stopped short. “Wait.” she said, closing her eyes. That was weird. Was that...clangs of metal...smashing stone? Was someone in a fight? She cupped her hands around her real ears, leaning them toward the junkyard to listen intently, but rather than come in sharper they became more muffled. Was that not a battle happening out there? But then the only explanation was...
Her fears were confirmed as an unearthly wail rolled up over her, causing her to clamp her hands down over her ears in a vain attempt to keep the noise out. Hat Kid, while being similarly disoriented, was significantly less affected by the sudden sensory overload. Linkle didn’t even think to clamp the rabbit ears, the real source of her trouble that was absorbing every decibel. In so noticing this, Kid attempted to improvise by materializing her top hat and stuffing it on the ranger’s head to surround her bunny ears for use as a sound dampener. They then spun around to face back toward the moat. Something like that was impossible not to pinpoint.
There was another bridge over that way, poking up just behind the Kids ship. You could see it if you were trying to look over the ship, and upon it she could just vaughly make out two black figures locked in mortal combat. This is what Linkle’d been afraid of, what if Poppi had taken her walk right into that? She looked at them, then spun back to watch Junior moving further into the junk yard. She stomped her foot in frustration.
No, calm down. Think about what to do. What would Minako say if you ran around without thinking again. This was simple. You had someone marching, and a fighter in need of rescue. Those two might be shadows, but that just meant they were a heart away from being allies. Junior wasn’t likely to meet resistance soon and he had his own troops??? with him to support his march. So the answer was…
“We need to break up that fight.” She said urgently, turning back to the Kid. She might have been a Kid, but this Kid had fought dragon Bowser. “Who knows, the loser could be a ally waiting to happen and we’d never know ‘cause they’d be gone.” She quickly tapped her chest with her hands, cradling her heart, and from it pulled a bight pink heart to make her intentions clear.
As obvious as it already was, the vibrant heart Linkle summoned clued Kid in on what she was about to do. She recognized this power from earlier when the Courier used it to restore Ratchet, and prior to that when Tora did the same for her. Without further delay or protest, she nodded in agreement, threw the last bite of her cookie in her mouth, and took off posthaste alongside Linkle toward the Eastern bridge, utilizing her Sprint when/if necessary to keep pace with her. Even at top speed, it would take the larger part of a full minute to arrive at the scene; by which time the more feral, monstrous combatant will have taken his leave of the affair, disappearing over the side of the bridge. Kid peered over the side just to be sure, confirming the gangly ghoul’s retreat.
Linkle skidded to a halt right beside her, looking down into the clear water for any sign of the monster. But there was nothing, not even a splash or a ripple. “You think it’s under the bridge?” she asked, suddenly feeling very vulnerable with just the heart to defend herself. That needed to be gotten rid of. “Shout if you see something.” She said to the Kid as she made her way to the fallen warrior. The water’s visibility level made it readily apparent that he wasn’t hiding in it, so the child dove in and resurfaced under the bridge for further inspection to rule out their only blind spot.
The fallen warrior reminded Linkle of Agoston slightly with his heavy armor, but his was much more elaborate and glowed with magical energy. She threw the heart right at his exposed chin, hoping that the thing had at least some of the healing properties of the ones she was familiar with, before quickly drawing both bows and standing protectively over the man in case the monster came back. She could hear the Kid splashing around down there, but there hadn’t been a scream or a gnashing of teeth. At least not yet, so that had to be a good sign. ”All clear!”
the child confirmed seconds later with conclusively negative findings.
Linkle let herself relax at that, but only a little. If it wasn’t clinging under the bridge then where in the world had it gone? “Okay, come on back up.” She said, letting out a relieved little laugh. “I can’t believe you went looking for it.” Not that she had much of an idea of what she was looking for at the risk of leaving herself helplessly waterborne against, but considering what she had dealt with today, coupled with her general demeanor, she was hardly afraid of it.
Donnie’s vision swam after that hit. His armor was, while powerful, still weakened, and his skull could only take so much trauma even with his chi to mitigate the damage. He was knocked flat on his rear from that attack, clutching his head. He had barely enough time to get to his feet when he was taken off-guard by a fast-moving purple object hitting him straight in the jaw.
He immediately got into a fighting stance before he noticed that the object didn’t seem to have done any damage. He couldn’t detect any obvious magical effect from it, but...come to think of it, where the hell was he?
And why on Azeroth wasn’t he still on the Vindicaar?
The last thing he remembered from before all this was Sargeras stabbing the planet with a humongous sword (the effects on the planet would probably keep him awake at night for several years) and the Vindicaar
rapidly descending to Azeroth with Sargeras hauled off by the other Titans. Via some kind of magical tractor beam. And then some kind of bright light...
Dear gods, things had really escalated lately, hadn’t they?
In any event, he took stock of his surroundings and sheathed his handblades, only to see a young girl standing protectively next to him. He also heard a child shouting from under the bridge. “Hello there. You wouldn’t happen to know where I am, would you?” he asked.
“Hey.” Linkle said, lowering her weapons even more to placate someone that was obviously out of their depth for now. She’d never had to explain this before. That could be fun. “I’m Linkle. My friend down there is...huh, kid never gave me her name… well, that’s not important right now. Welcome to the war effort, brave hero!”
She pointed over to the light shining like a sun in the sky. “If you’re anything like us, the last thing you remember should be a bright light. That light came from the thing I’m pointing at, a monster called Galeem that tore up all our homes and stuck them together like this. He brainwashed you, me, everybody into working for him except for one small pink guy named Kirby. He used his power to free a bunch of us, and we’ve been moving forward all day fighting and freeing other people Galeem got his light in.”
Hat Kid returned dripping wet to the conversation just in time to hear Linkle’s abridged explanation of events, wringing out the sleeves and corners of her sweater while she listened. It was obvious that her comprehension and recollection might have been slightly short of complete, but all of the essential aspects of the story came through. It was the only explanation she had received since the beginning, and as concise of one as she could have asked for. Still, it did little to make the whole situation any less perplexing in its utterly divine randomness. She would have to inquire further amongst the others later if she cared to know more.
Linkle waved her arm out toward the big castle. “Long story short, we ended up freeing this entire castle and taking the opportunity to rest. Me and the Kid were outside and heard your fight, so we came over to free you with one of these.” Linkle pounded her and pulled out another friend heart to demonstrate the process. “But the guy you were fighting got away, so we weren't able to help him. Did I miss anything that happened inside?” she asked, turning back to the Kid.
The question prompted the child to search her memory for clarification as to what she meant. It suddenly occurred to her that Linkle wasn’t actually present for the boss battle, but the reason for the huntress’s preoccupation eluded her. Regardless, Kid filled her in on what took place, recapping in larger steps the same way Linkle had with the story of their abduction into the world. She explained that the team had fought a hard, somewhat lengthy battle with MegaDragonBowser, and in the process, freeing several captives, losing two of their comrades (who she didn’t know), and seizing the draconic tyrant’s spirit, which went to the Centurion. Beyond that, there wasn’t much more she could add, as she had incidentally made herself scarce during the final round (a fact she was sure to conveniently omit)....Well then.
It seemed Donnie had his work cut out for him this time. First Garrosh Hellscream, then Argus, and now this? It just kept escalating every ten minutes these days!
This Galeem had the power to stitch together different realities to form some kind of bizarre patchwork, and end entire universes in an instant. None of the gods that Azeroth had known had this kind of power. Oh, sure, they could create and destroy worlds
, but manufacturing an entire reality out of the broken scraps of the multiverse--which they had just torn apart? This was something else.
“...I see.” Donnie said, after he had internalized all of this information. “At least our worlds are intact, somewhat. That means we might be able to put it back together. I suppose we should head back to the castle now.”
“I would, but I’ve got to make sure a little kid doesn't get himself hurt digging through piles of scrap metal over thataway.” Linkle said, indicating the farther bridge they had come from. “I don’t think I could face his dad if I let him get eaten by that weird monster you were fighting. I was gonna run back over there, but you two could head in. There’s a feast.”
“Sure thing,” the monk responded. Donnie snapped his fingers, and a strange carry-on backpack appeared out of nowhere. He stuck his entire arm into it and pulled out some kind of strange, clearly magical object...and with a poof of smoke, Donnie was now inside...a weird steampunk flying machine parked on the bridge? It was some sort of cross between a two-engined biplane and a helicopter.
“Hop in and we’ll head straight there!” Donnie said to Hat Kid. The engine wasn’t running yet, so he didn’t have to yell. How he managed to spontaneously materialize an airborne vehicle as he did was beyond her. Though with the right equipment, she can do (and has done) the exact same with a moped, so it wasn’t really for her to question. Although it did seem hilariously unnecessary to summon such a contraption to expedite what was, at most, a five minute walk (or a demonstrably shorter run) to the castle’s front door. Still, she couldn’t complain; it was still a free ride, and she was glad to take it. She hopped up into the passenger’s seat, gently lifted her hat from Linkle’s head, placed it back on her own, and lightly tapped on the side of the chassis to signal the pilot that he was clear for take-off.
Donnie ascended with the rotor and then pushed the throttle forward. The vehicle spun up and took off near-instantly, making its way to the castle in a matter of seconds. In hindsight, busting out the Dwarven Flying Machine was probably unnecessary when he could’ve just walked, but walking was for people who hadn’t
just gotten back from liberating the entire universe from a demonic Titan’s grip only to find out that said universe had been made part of some cosmic asshat’s multiversal quilt. Yes, that technically put Hat Kid in the same category, but shut up.
The craft landed outside Peach’s Castle as Donnie unsummoned it and placed its orb back in the luggage, before dismissing the luggage itself. “Right, here we are. Now that everyone in the castle heard the noise, let’s go crash the feast,” Donnie said, striding towards the front door. He was always
down for feasting. Living with Pandaren for ten years will do that to you. Hopefully they had some choice wines from the royal cellar too.