The Koopa Troop
wordcount: 4,078 (+5)
Bowser: Level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (69/90)
Bowser Jr: Level 7 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (60/70)
Kamek: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (59/70)
Location: Edge of the Blue – Seaward Bay
In a puff of smoke and magic Kamek appeared above Lumbridge to start his search for the captain. It was an important, nay vital, task, because it would mean a bunch of people were less sad. Also it meant they wouldn't have to worry so much about other people biting it. Also it meant the captain would be alive which was a bonus in Kamek’s somewhat callous opinion.
Of course, the tricky bit was finding out where, if anywhere, he’d ended up and the most logical place was the one where this had happened before.
”Oh bother” Kamek said almost as soon as he had appeared. He hadn’t asked exactly where in the town they had been dropped off, which might make this a touch trickier than he’d expected ”Well no matter, someone must have seen it happen. Hmmm”
He took a look around the town down below looking for either the man himself (should he be so lucky) or the Houndmaster, who he assumed might know if an injured captain showed up out of the blue via cat born stretcher and, presumably, started making noise about being confused as to what just happened.
Kamek’s aerial search, however, turned up no portly pirates. He looked all over the quaintly patchwork town, from Mina’s restaurant to the smithy sisters’ forge, from the Great Ton Pu Inn to the bustling marketplace, but he found nary a trace. Only loads of villagers, even more than before, and the place’s characteristic abundance of adventurers, some Kamek recognized from his time spent in Lumbridge prior. One thing he couldn’t help but notice was an increase in the number of pigs in various professional attires, all of whom traipsed about with the sort of wonder and excitement that signified newcomers. Unfortunately he sought brine rather than swine, so his search came up fruitless.
Eventually he fell back on a trusted authority, parked as ever out in front of the busy guild castle with his faithful wolfhound by his side. The Houndmaster kept a sharper vigil than ever thanks to the guild castle’s increased traffic, which came as a result of the odd portal implanted in its floor. Since the heroes had left, further construction efforts better integrated the anomaly into the building, allowing for both access to the guild’s functions and the distant archipelago on the other side. A mutual interest from both Lumbridge and Inkwell in the other location meant a bevy of new faces around, and nobody going or coming escaped the sheriff’s watchful eye. When Kamek appeared with a few questions, however, the Houndmaster could only shake his head. “Nary a glimpse of feline couriers nor piratical ragamuffins,” he told the sorcerer. “Should you possess time enough, interviewing adventurers may yet yield a trace, but your effort may be better spent procuring a missing-persons poster.”
”Thank you for the advice, but I still have other spots to check before resorting to that. It would be embarrassing to go to all the effort only to find him on my next stop” Kamek said, frustrated that his guess that starting out where they’d last appeared was the best bet hasn't borne fruit. So much for empiricism. He also hadn't found out where Link had been dropped off when he’d been carted back, which was a shame. That would have made guessing where the man might have appeared a lot easier.
He was mulling over going all the way back to Link to check when he suddenly remembered ”No wait. There was that other one, what was his name… ah. Euden! Perfect”
That made his next stop rather obvious, and he wouldn't even need to move under his own magic to get there, which was infinitely preferable over teleporting to each of the other two locations in his tired state.
A short flight later, Kamek reached Jr’s “addition” to the commemorative statue that had been made of their group, and using that warp graffiti made the trip back to Alcamoth, materializing just outside the door to the great structure and heading inside to find both Euden and Vandham to ask them about the hero’s brush with death and their merc leader if he or anyone under him had encountered their missing sailor.
Of Kamek’s two targets Vandham turned out to be the easier of the two to find, seldom far from the mercenary headquarters and never far without communicating with his supervisors. After sending for Euden, however, the huge man was unable to provide the magikoopa a satisfactory response. “Sorry mate, ain’t seen summan like that. But if any kitties do drop by, I’ll send a Moogle t’letcha know, alright?”
A few moments later Euden arrived. Although the young man had quickly become quite the popular figure in Alcamoth owing to his kindly, personable demeanor and never-ending consideration for others, he never skimped out on his duty. The prince came in at a light jog and greeted Kamek with a wave. “Hello. What can I help you with?”
“This ‘ere wizard wanted t’know whereabouts you ended up the other day while fightin’ that nasty dragon,” Vandham explained, jabbing a thumb toward the carved-out section of cliff across Eryth Sea. “Summan else mighta gotten saved by a buncha cats, and ‘e’s tryin’ t’find ‘em.”
Euden nodded, his face appropriately serious. “Of course. Well, when I fell in battle against that monster, I blacked out. When I came to I was back in the Lumbridge castle. I know a few adventurers with blessings that let them return back to the last place they rested on death, but that wasn’t where I slept the night before, so I could only guess that those cats brought me back to my ‘base.’” His brows narrowed. “It was a really long way. I probably wouldn’t have been able to come here if Mym didn’t show up. Although...those cats didn’t seem normal. They vanished around a corner after leaving me. So maybe they possess some sort of magic.”
Shaking his head, Vandham cut him off. “That’s prolly more’n ‘e needs, lad. Anythin’ else on your mind, mate?” If Kamek had no more business for him, the mercenary leader returned to his duty, and Euden to his own affairs after a polite farewell.
”No that will be all. Thank you both” the mage replied ”you’ve given me plenty to think about already.”
The cats being magical lend some credence to the idea that they could have bailed the captain out despite the location he had fallen which was good. The idea that it was the persons’ 'base’ that the cats delivered people too was useful too, and yet what counted as a base was tricky to suss out. Was it a person's personal base, or the base they had last used. And what counted as a base?
”I swear if he’s been unconscious in Shippy’s holds this whole time” he muttered because where else would the seafarer call his base?
Whatever the case, there was one last spot Link had suggested, and it looked like it was the best bet thanks to the additional information, so he headed for Limsa Lominscuttle. The mage strolled down to his young master’s gallery of landscape art and took a warp over to the official docks they’d first arrived in the city at. After a quick check there just in case, before skimming round to the pirate’s cove, the last place he’d docked at and the palace they’d launched the expedition from and, if all that failed, headed for the navy’s headquarters to see if whoever had been left in charge gotten reports about cats carrying old sea captains around.
Given the sheer size of the seastack city, and in particular the claustrophobic, layered construction of the wharftowns, a cursory flight around a few of its harbors shed precious little light on the object of Kamek’s search. No sign of him appeared at Pirate’s Cove, which stung a little harder than before. The places where Brineybeard might be were dwindling quickly. That said, considering that Pirate’s Cove offered little but a clandestine place to moor a ship or two, it seemed unlikely that it would qualify as a base.
When Kamek visited the Navy’s shipyards he found them largely vacant, with only the youngest shipgirls present to mill around. None looked happy, as it appeared that the reality that their brethren were out there fighting and dying while the children idled on the homefront was lost on no-one, despite leadership’s decree. After he asked around Kamek quickly found that none of the Navy commanders remained; all of them had been attendance at the terrible battle of Black Bay. From those who did stick around, however, he got only puzzled looks when he mentioned either Brineybeard or the cats. Something like that, it would appear, did not register as something important enough for practically anyone to note. Thus, it fell to Kamek himself to try and sort through the proverbial haystack. Just where would a portly middle-aged pirate, fresh off a harrowing battlefield, end up?
Taking a leaf out of his king’s modus operandi, the mage followed his stomach rather than his head for once, and set a course for the Drowning Wench.
Embedded within the tallest tower of Limsa Lominscuttle Town Kamek found the inn just as he left it in the morning, albeit patronized by a decent lunch crowd. All kinds of workers, from fishers to builders to guards, had finished their first shifts and dropped by in small groups for a hearty meal before buckling down for the rest of the workday. The redheaded waitress sashayed to and fro carrying drinks and dishes, while a droopy-faced musician provided ambiance in hopes of a little generosity. Kamek swept over every face in search of a scruffy black beard and bright red nose. And just when his search had gone on about long enough to give up, he found them.
Brineybeard sat by himself in a comfortably dim, candle-lit corner. For everything he'd been through he appeared to be in pretty good shape, at least physically. His expression, however, was as dark and stormy as the high seas, and his eyes were almost as cloudy as the foamy, pitch-black contents of the mug before him. In a rather understandable turn of events, the good captain had elected to deal with nearly dying in naval warfare with the help of a stiff drink or three.
The mage sighed with relief, to see the man yes, but also because it meant that he’d finally reached the end of his round trip. He weaved his way through the tables, broom handle clicking against the tiled floor of the tavern, and made his way to where the man was drinking. Kamek didn't know what it was exactly, but whatever it is was numbing the shock of having almost died. The Mage found it was better to just get used to that sort of thing, though never enough to get sloppy. He was pretty sure everyone who wound up getting stomped for Bowser’s schemes ended up feeling the same way.
He coughed politely to get the man’s attention and then asked ”Mind if I take a seat?”
Although Kamek had not been part of the pirate’s crew, Brineybeard recognized him from the brief time in which he saw the Magikoopa in the battle, and gestured for his visitor to sit down. “Wha’ happened?” he croaked, more than a little inebriated already. “Make it out okay? What about...hic! Wha’bout Shippy?”
The mage cringed a little, but then hid the expression as he sat down opposite the man ”We’re fine. She’s fine. Mainly worried about you. We made it out of the battle in one piece and headed up the river we were aiming for. Stopped for a break, which is why I had time to come and try and find you” Kamek told him, before asking ”what happened on your end? No one saw it, so it was only a hunch that brought me back here” he explained, leaving out the bad hunches he’d made that had resulted in the rest of his round trip.
The news that everyone was okay, including his wayward vessel, set Brineybeard's worries to rest. He let out an enormous breath that he must have been unconsciously holding for a while, and slid down a bit in his chair. "Hooh…thanks be," he sighed, suddenly looking mighty weary. "Well, fer me, I felt somethin' hit the ship below me. Must've been a cannonball, smashed clear through me cabin. Went flyin' in a hurricane o' wood chips 'n hit the water, barely awake. Somethin' touches me 'n next thing I know a crew of walkin' cats dumps me 'ere." He held up his hands to signify his confusion, nearly spilling some brew in the process, then quaffed another mouthful.
”Yes it is rather odd, but apparently our Ace Cadet is familiar with them. Don’t suppose you know where they went? Would be nice to meet the people who helped us out. Also was it right here, in this establishment?” Kamek asked. A cat based rescue system, he mused, how strange and useful. Mushrooms would have made more sense, but Cats? Very odd. Still, best not to look a gift yoshi in the mouth. Or ever really, if you didn't want to end up with egg on your face. Or in an egg.
Brineybeard wiped the foam from his lips with the back of his hand and shook his head. “No, not as much as a whisker.”
”Bother” Kamek replied, sighed, and then shrugged, ”well we’ll see if we meet them again, though to an extent I hope we won't. You, ah, seem pretty shaken up by the whole thing?.” he said, before asking/offering ”do you want to talk about it?”
At that Brineybeard scoffed. “Yarr, I ain’t some lily-livered landlubber! If everyone’s still kickin’, ye best be leavin’ me t’me cups here, and I’ll get along just fine.” It was too soon, it seemed, for the koopa to connect with the captain.
”Fair enough” the mage leaned back with a shrug ”Speaking of them, anything you want me to bring back with me? Can’t bring you with me” he imagined that would be something of a relief and, to be frank, in this state he wouldn't exactly want the captain on board. Jr’s paintings wouldn't work either, because they needed an iconic location to work with and the forest, while stunning, where to large
to really get a good painting of an exact, and unique, location inside them ”, but I imagine they’d like to hear something from you. A letter or just words perhaps?” Proof that the captain was alive, not that he’d lie about that sort of thing.
“A message…?” Despite his affected lucidity, the former pirate tried to concentrate. “Just...just t’be wary out there. It’s a cruel sea, and I don’t be cut out for it anymore. But take care of Shippy. Ol’ tub’s as good a companion as...hic! ...As I could ever ask.”
”We’ll make sure of it. This has been a learning experience of that, that is for certain. We won't be caught flat footed like that again.” Kamek assured him, and himself. They’d need to take more care, but they were also better prepared thanks to all the fusion they’d gotten up too since. ”She’ll appreciate the concern I’m sure, though maybe I’ll leave the ‘old tub’ part eh?”
”Well, it's been good to see you, but i should be getting back. I think there was going to be cooking going on, and I’d rather not miss the result.” Kamek concluded, pushing himself out of the chair, preparing to head out.
Brineybeard nodded, and took another swig from his cup. “Good luck out there, matey. I’ll be makin’ sure there’s a proper celebration awaiting ye when ye return.”
”I’ll let people know, it’ll be something to look forward to” he said with a smile, before bidding the man farwell ”Have a good day.”
The mage stepped away from the table and wandered his way through the crowds till he found a bit of space before taking to the skies on his broom and vanishing in a puff of smoke
Back at the lake Bowser was not done with Mr L, not even one bit. There was no way he was leaving the man’s vitriol unanswered
”So yeah, maybe I do fail sometimes. But unlike Cackletta, Smithy and a whole lot of other chumps. I’m. Still. Here. I’m still standing when every other coin store villain who tries to take over the mushroom kingdom takes one little setback and runs off with their tails between their legs never to be seen again. You definitely can't talk because...” he retorted
Then Bowser paused and then barked out a laugh at a realization he’d just had before laying down the hard truth at Mr L’s feet
”But you know it looks like someone missed a memo. Well I guess you would, seeing as you weren't about for the grand finale. Spoilers’ your oh so great boss got back-stabbed by a clown and then I crushed both him, a mind controlled green stash and the chaos heart easy as pie. Then that sad hatted man wandered off into the sunset so he could date one of Mario's infinitely replaceable floating sidekicks or something and left all his minions adrift without him. Looks like you mattered least of all out of all of them, because no one even bothered to tell you he retired.” he told L, jabbing the thief in the chest with a gloved claw to drive the point home.
”So don't give lip, chump, or you’ll regret it.”
“That does sound fun.” Rika replied when she got Peach’s attempt at explaining what all of the inland was like “but I mean the sea isn't all the same. There’s currents and little islands and it's real different out in the deep than it is near stuff and, well, if you think that's all the same then everything in here must be super all over the place huh. Wow.”
Needless to say Rika was hyped, and the land did not disappoint. The forest was even more beautiful inside than it was, full of streams and bushes and trees and a thousand and one other new and exciting thing. The former Abyssal had to keep being reminded that they had a mission as she kept stopping to inspect things or marvel at the view. The walking was a little tiring though, so Rika was extra happy when the princess remembered she could rid the waves and soon they were skimming around on the various waterways weaving through the forest.
This being the first time she’d really been able to get at it since she changed, the girl found that being a ship girl squared had its benefits as both abyssal and azure navel locomotion combined to let her race across the freshwater with elating speed and grace.
The place they ended up was an excellent finale to their exploration, a pool filled with the most beautiful sapphire waters the girl had ever seen and, floating in the middle, two giant succulent and delicious looking fruits. Apparently Peach had played something called “mario party” on this and, lacking context for that or much of anything really Rika didn't think it was weird at all.
“That’s cool. What's a Mario Party?” she asked, her new mind ever curious.
After that they scooted up onto the island and got to chopping up some fruit for transport. Rika at first tried hacking at it with the bayonet on her new rifle gauntlet, but quickly hanged over to her hull blades, the thick heavy robo arm mounted weapons chopping through the flesh of the fruit like a pair of heavy cleavers with absolutely 0 effort from the girl herself. There was only a slight problem she found as she hauled up two bundles of pineapple and watermelon sticks under her arms and rested them on the tops of her gun turrets, and that was that the juices of the fruit were getting everywhere.
“Oh. well. That's sticky. Hope it doesn't mess up my gear” she said talking around a carrot sized stick of pineapple she was chewing through, not realizing till later that it was her cloths she should be most worried about.
A little later the team of ladies returned to the campsite to find that they now had lots of bananas as well, and a whole heap of fish which she saw nothing weird with at all.
She also found Jr, who had been roused from slumber by the smell of cooking. Indeed for what had been a rather impromptu stop the gang sure had settled in, and who could blame them. The trip had been rough so far, and was likely to only get rougher. They deserve a… Whatever meal this was. Lunch? Second breakfast? She realized she had no idea what time it was and only a vague understanding of how you organised meals. It didn't really matter, the smell of cooked fruits and fish where enough for everyone to set aside such concerns and just dig in.
Rika sat down with the others where they were around the camp/cooking fire and, unaware that the fish were weird looking ended up eating a finny one.
“Oh wow that's. Pretty intense. Not sweet? Uh. bite-y?” she lacked the words or culinary expertise to describe the pungent and smoky flavor of the weird fish. Then she tried to combine it with some watermelon and found out exactly why Link had failed to find a good fruit+fish dish.
”try washing the taste out with water or something” jr suggested after having a laugh at her expense, having decided (alongside Mimi and Tyrant who where sitting with him) to stick to fruit after the two less than pleasant descriptions of the fish based food.
It was Blazermate, who as a machine didn't get to enjoy the food part of their break and who was definitely getting bored based on the antics of her zombies, who brought their attention to the issue of what they were doing next.
”Keep heading for the bottomless ocean I guess?” jr said
“First we need to get past that living ship” Rika pointed out
”Living ship?” Jr asked, and then when it was pointed out for him asked ”why don't we just shoot it?”
“Well we didn't when it was attacking that Mr L guy, Bowser just blasted it with water till it went away”
”He did?” that was unusual, and considering he’d woken up to find his dad roasting some Luigi look alike, with words admittedly, he didn't seem to have been too affected by his fusion as far as Jr was concerned. Maybe he was wrong about that? ”Well I guess we just do that again if it gets aggressive?”
A few moments after that Kamek reappeared above them, having returned from his long distance trip.
”Good news everyone, Brinybeard is alive. I found him in Limsa Lominscuttle, though I did not find the cats. Seems they like to run off after delivering people.” He declared them as he landed, getting a cheer from Rika and an ”oh cool” from Jr in response to his news.
”He seemed a little down but was otherwise ok and said for us to, ehe hem, ‘be wary out there. It’s a cruel sea, and I’m not cut out for it anymore.’ also to ‘Take care of Shippy. Old tu… old girls as good a companion I could ever ask’” he added, relaying Brinybear’s words mostly unfiltered before adding ”Oh also that he’d make sure that there’d be a ‘proper celebration’ for when we get back” and that got a cheer out of Jr.
”Now then, please tell me you’ve left something for me to eat I am famished” he finished, before eagerly taking a helping of all of the various fruit dishes on offer, giving his compliments to the chef after savoring each one.
Magic was hungry work after all.
Once he’d had his fill he popped off a message via moogle to Vandham to update him on the situation, and to send someone to notify the Houndmaster as well, just to let them both know if they were curious and so that they didn't need to keep an eye out any more.