Parasite: Part 3, Chapter 7
You people certainly do take your time.
The vast chamber that Ozzie had carved for himself could very well be considered a throne room. Much more decorated than it was the last time they had been there, the room appeared larger, although it was likely due to the fact that the great flatworm Helminthes had occupied it the last time the trio found themselves inside. The gaping hole that once marred the western wall had been patched up, and a great deal of attention had clearly been given to making the room look as regal as possible. It was the only locale in the palace that used marble flooring, and did not rely on ugly wall-mounted torches for light. Fancy woven tapestries decorated the walls, and elaborate braziers lined the twin staircases that traced around the circular alcove and ended at the balcony that housed Ozzies gilded throne. Sitting lazily in his seat and leaning to his left, the fat Mystic rested his corpulent head on his hand and waved Marle in as the third guest. The faint trembling shaking at the castles foundation steadily increased, but the green mage paid it no mind as he hopped off of his velvet cushion and ambled towards the carved railing of the balcony.
I would think you kids would be more eager to see me, he explained in an uncomfortably friendly tone. Your idiot friend hasnt known me as long.
Enjoy that, Ozzie, Meridio smirked as he aimed a finger at the green sorcerer. This is your last day to be alive.
Is it, now? Ozzie confirmed, folding his hands calmly behind his back. Say, wheres the red-haired kid? Wheres Crono?
He couldnt make it, Lucca pronounced, somewhat defeatedly.
Really? the mage asked eagerly, grasping the railing excitedly. If the gods are kind, then it had something to do with Helminthes, I hope.
Marle, from the entrance, choked back a reaction to the magicians enthusiasm. She smothered her mouth with her hand, casting bitter eyes to the wall so as to take her attention from the Mystic.
Clasping his meaty hands in delight, the fat mage cackled devilishly. Thats good enough for me! he declared maliciously. Oh, boy; Ill have to make a sacrifice to them to thank them for this. I guess, he thought aloud, You people will do perfectly.
Youre mistaken as to whos going to be sacrificed today, Meridio piped up.
Warping his satisfied smile downwards and letting his joy drain away, the Mystic leader regarded the mercenary as he again tucked his hands behind his back and began pacing. Sighing in irritation, he announced: I guess its good that you killed my guards, because I probably would have done it myself after they let you in like this. Thats the last time I trust other people to do my work.
Now, Helminthes is another story. After the control scepter was broken, the final lock between my mental control of him was broken. Hes as obedient as one of your human-trained dogs, although much more competent as far as defending me.
As the green Mystic put a hand expectantly to his ear, the tremors permeating his fortress became much more forceful and erratic. Candlesticks toppled and loose stones shook from the walls and ceiling as the three fighters found themselves struggling to keep balance.
Why, I think thats him now! Ozzie shouted innocently over the sound of crumbling stone. As if on cue, the floor of the chamber burst open, throwing polished stone at all angles. Meridio and the young ladies shielded themselves and dodged out of the way of the larger chunks of rock that flew at them. A giant figure rushed from the opening, twisting its elongated form around so as to fit itself into the throne room. When the dust from the eruption settled, the shape of Helminthes was unmistakable. The creature had wrapped itself around the perimeter of the corridor, curving its head up and back down towards the trio. It stood relatively motionless, slowly bobbing its head as it wheezed steadily and twitched a few of its paddle-shaped limbs. The three fighters could smell its pungent stench in waves that pulsated with the monsters labored breathing.
Well, now we dont have to ask him where it is, Lucca quipped vainly as she beheld the monster.
Perfect, the mercenary remarked, dusting himself off leisurely. Now I can destroy the both of you at once.
I dont think you should do that, the inventor argued amidst a fit of coughing. Fighting it here could cause the roof to cave in and crush us all.
Whats that? Ozzie yelled in angry surprise, leaning over the edge of the balcony. Youve come all this way and youre not going to fight? Wrenching his face into a bitter sneer, he accused: Are you backing out? You spent all this time trying to stop me and now you dont want to fight? Leaping over the stone railing and floating to the ground level, he levitated across the room and up to the young inventor, proceeding as she backed away into the wall behind her. Placing his face right before hers, he continued: I spent years making plans to exact the Mystics revenge on humanity, and you and your stupid friends ruin everything in a few days. You took my favorite tool, Magus, away from me. You killed all of my best monsters. You devastated the great stronghold that took this place, this sacred Mystic location right here. Now Ive rebuilt everything and changed my plans to suit you people especially, and you want to back out?
Thats not really what I said, Lucca pointed out timidly.
I dont care what you said anymore! Now youve got me all riled up! Youre going to fight my monster and die like I planned! he screamed.
Lucca, duck, Meridio spoke from beside the two.
Both Lucca and Ozzie were startled by the man, who had snuck up to them while Ozzie ranted. The young lady failed to duck, but the Mystic reacted quickly enough to evade Meridios punch by teleporting himself away and back onto the balcony at the back of his chamber. Stumbling, the mercenary almost fell onto Lucca, and swore as he caught his balance. Lucca leaned back out of his way and flashed a glance to Marle, who was clutching her shoulder nervously, still trying to deflect her gaze away from the commotion.
I dont know how you managed to stay alive this long, human, Ozzie taunted from his perch. Youre dumber than the rest of them; Ive been watching you in this castle. The only good thing about you is that youre not trying to weasel out of your destiny.
Well see whos destined today, Meridio proclaimed as he unclipped his weapon.
Fine with me, Ozzie gritted from between clenched teeth. Raising a hand, he regarded the static beast that filled the room. Okay, Helminthes, make me proud! Swiping his hand towards the ground, he directed the flatworm to move. As if breaking from a trance, the creature snapped its body into awareness and stretched its mouthparts as wide as it could. A low bellow crept out, gaining vocal support in a hideous crescendo that shook the throne room.
As the monster arched its posture further, Lucca instinctively drew her gun, and, recalling the energy-absorbent capabilities of Helminthes, replaced it sulkily as she yelled to the mercenary: Nows your chance!
Meridio had already returned his mace to its holster and taken his Shigenki pendant in his hand, assuming a fighting stance. Keeping his eyes on the giant worm, he watched as Helminthes rotated its head westward, as if it was unaware of its opponents. It slowly began to shuffle itself around so that it faced the side wall of the chamber.
Trying to run, are you? the man muttered under his breath. After sneaking a look at Ozzie, who appeared perplexed at the monsters actions, Meridio began concentrating in the manner his companions described. He felt his energy move, as if physically alive, through his arm and into the Sun Stone core that rested inside the ornament. Extending his free hand, as he had seen Marle do before, he forced the essence back into his being and prepared to unleash the attack.
Instead, a biting force from inside the charm seized his body, contracting his muscles and forcing him to throw a wave of Shadow magic at the monster. The spell kicked him backwards and slammed into Helminthes back, pushing against the creature. Losing the footing that a few of its paddles held, the flatworm stumbled and reacted with an angry growl. Sweeping its bulky head around, the creature caught sight of the collapsed mercenary and unhurriedly redirected its path.
Meridios in trouble! Lucca called to her comrade. Running to the inventors side, Marle took her own pendant in her hand. Faltering, the pair silently reviewed their options as Ozzie cackled an amused laugh at Meridio.
Flailing as he tried to stand, the mercenary pulled his knife from its pouch and pitched it into Helminthes face. Digging into the worms mouth, the blade drew a lucid cyan substance from the monster. Dropping from the wound, the knife clattered against the marble floor as Meridio jumped to his feet and drew his mace again.
Marle, attack it! Lucca pleaded. The Guardian heir found herself gazing at the beast as she still clutched her Shigenki jewelry. She inadvertently ignored her friends entreaty as she watched Helminthes dive after Meridio. Barely catching the man by his leg, the monster worm bounced the mercenary into the corner of the room in a heap. His weapon clamored sickeningly against the marble floor. Almost as quickly as it had attacked, Helminthes abandoned its assault and once again turned to the western wall of the chamber. It paused and seemed to be watching something through the fortification. Its dead gaze languidly turned southward, and it began to aim its body in that direction.
Ozzie, baffled by the monsters unplanned behavior, pounded his fists on the banister. What are you doing? he scolded. Snarling, he squinted his eyes at the back of Helminthes head and began waving his hands hypnotically in front of his face. The great flatworm twitched its head, as if fighting an unseen impulse, and emitted an ear-piercing squeal. Shuffling backwards, the beast nearly charged into the balcony, but Ozzie relinquished his attempt and released his mental hold on the creature.
Relaxing out of the invisible bond, Helminthes cocked its massive head and resumed watching the southward end of the castle. Lucca turned towards Marle and queried: Whats the matter?
Rather than respond, the young princess kept studying the beasts manner. She followed its gaze back towards the entrance of the stronghold, towards the southern end of Magus Island. As it lowered its head nearer to the height of the entrance to the alcove, she flashed it a fierce glare. Growling maliciously, the creature sprang into an almost panicked shuffle towards the front of the castle; Marle threw a halting gesture and screamed: No!
As if on cue, three figures rushed into the room, pounding into Helminthes and throwing the monster backwards. The first two attacked almost simultaneously, delivering glancing blows to the sides of the worms face and deflecting its head upwards. The third barreled straight into the underside of the creatures head, pushing it back at a painful angle and bouncing upwards and behind Helminthes. Gaping, Marle and Lucca scanned the room to find the assailants. Landing on the balcony behind Ozzie with a clumsy metallic thud, the third attacker staggered a bit before bounding up to the Mystic leader and seizing him by the arms. Pointing in near hysteria, Lucca blurted out the name: Robo!
The princess searched the twin staircases for the other two attackers. With a subtle croak, the amphibian swordsman Frog identified himself from the left flight. Gazing in astonishment at the opposite flight, Marle beheld the weak but unmistakable form of: