If you want to have a good haunted house, you need to have more than just a few ghosts.
You still want your friendly ghosts, your stinky ghosts, your angry ghosts, and even your sad ghosts, but a truly haunted house contains a ghost with a purpose. A truly haunted house is the home to a soul trapped between two worlds–its passions torn between the living and the dead. Whether vengeful, heartbroken, or simply determined to be heard, the bests ghosts are not just here to drink wine or to eat rotten eclairs.
No, my friends. The best ghosts may be the best haunters, but they are also the most haunted.
Though I’m not just getting ahead of myself–I’m starting the blog, already ahead of myself. Let’s rein this in.
Today on Frog by Frog, I met my match as a kickboxer, and I also learned a thing or two about music theory from a ghost with a song in his heart and a baton in his hand. I made a new friend, found something shiny, and discovered that mirrors contain secrets which none of us can regularly see otherwise. Is this all starting to sound a little weird to you? I think I’m starting to feel a little weird to myself.
What’s going on in this castle? It’s like all my life and my afterlife are stretching out before me, like movies on little silver screens…
I think we need to get out of here before I–I mean Duster–loses my–I mean his–mind! What the heck did the ghosts put in that wine?! Alcohol?
Well, you know what Flint always said, “Less talking, more hitting,” and luckily, we have a mini boss and a boss fight in tow! I’m starting to think this Osohe place is bad for the mind, if you catch my drift. I mean, a hardened thief like Duster, I’m sure, has no problems withstanding the spell of this ancient place… but I’m not so lucky. Everywhere I look is purple. Everywhere I look is castle. I need fresh air! I need Cabbage! The Mind of a Thief is cunning, and the Heart of a Thief is strong, but the Mind of a Writer is kooky, and the Heart of a Writer is susceptible to drinking too much ghost wine in the party room. Speaking of which, does anyone have some of that rose hip tea from Aeolia’s? Let’s turn this jam into a banger!
You know, it just hit me that of course this would happen while playing Frog by Frog. Usually when I play Mother 3, I complete all of Osohe Castle (the first trip) in one go. I might have stopped every now and again if I suffered a bad loss to the ghosts of the grounds, but for the most part, I would take my first break of Chapter 2 after defeating Mr. Passion, the boss.
But now look at me! It makes much more sense that I’d actually fall under a curse during my time in Osohe. I need to get out of here!
For anyone who thinks Osohe Castle is just a cartoonish, Nintendo environment with silly ghosts in it, try playing Frog by Frog, and get back to me. I’m losing my mind in here! I’ve been here for three weeks at the time of this writing, in real life time! (I’ve been in here for about a month and half in proofreading time!) Of course, that amount of time also relates to how quickly I can complete blog posts, which has been admittedly slow lately, but it has been admittedly slow because Osohe is difficult to write about, and sometimes even difficult to play, and now I can’t help but feel like I’m beginning to talk myself into a circle…
Sometimes I get so caught up in the thieving and heroics that I forget Frog by Frog is an experiment, kind of, at the end of the day. And even though I’m starting to see all walls, even those in my real bedroom, as purple, and weathered to time, and as having once housed long-dead royalty… I’m also finding more play than ever in Osohe! Before playing Frog by Frog, I would have never paid as much attention to the creaky floors and creepy doors of this stadium-sized sack of sarcophaguses; this place has really grown on me, in a way.
Grown on me so much, actually, that maybe I want to stay here forever. Maybe I don’t want to continue on in Frog by Frog–did anyone ever consider that? Maybe I want to stay in the ghost party room forever, and drink the same drinks every day, and eat the same foods, and throw the same tennis ball against the wall, over and over and over. Maybe I need to take a break from all these frogs. As we know, all work and no play makes Shane a dull frog…
Yikes! I need to snap of Osohe’s Spell, and fast! What do you say we get out of here before this starts feeling less like Mother 3 and more like Mama?
(You know, the 2013 horror film).
The Ghost Knight Fight: An Osohe Sight
Yikes! Does anyone else feel like Jack Nicholson, or is that just me? Let’s focus on getting out of this place before I lose myself in a hedge maze.
Last time on Frog by Frog, I decided to pass up a room because there was a mini boss, the Ghost Knight, inside. After fighting through Osohe for nearly 20 minutes, and after drinking my fill in the ghost room, I decided I’d save the battle for another night. A ghost in a haunted castle isn’t ever in a hurry to go anywhere, so it’s not like I had a time limit or anything. And I wasn’t scared, either!
Actually, there really is nothing to be afraid of. Even though it’s possible to fight the Ghost Armor, the Ghost Sword, and the Ghost Shield all at the same time (which is much more challenging, and which forms the unique enemy “The Ghost Knight”), you can also just walk up to each piece individually and fight it one-on-one. This particular method makes the fight with the Ghost Armor a little anticlimactic, but Osohe Castle has been difficult enough already, for me anyway. I don’t mind making things a little easier for myself.
Yes, it’s true: I didn’t let the Ghost Knight assemble his pieces, but look. I need to get out of this castle! And also, at the time, I didn’t know the Ghost Knight was a unique enemy–I really thought that fighting each piece of armor one at a time was the best way to handle this room. Sue me! Sometimes the heart of a thief bends toward simplicity!
And anyway, I kept things fresh by attacking the Ghost Sword while only having 19 HP. I’m pretty sure the sword dealt me a mortal blow immediately, which I healed in the nick of time with some beef jerky. How’s that for daring?
While you’re in here, you also can pick up the Durable Shoes, an upgraded weapon for Duster, from the gift box on the ground. If you want to make the fight even easier, be sure to equip these before you go in to battle. I like to imagine that these Durable Shoes, which are described as shoes made of tough, thick leather, are a pair of boots that Duster decided to “steal” because he thought they looked cool, as his first real spoil from the mission. Maybe Duster didn’t particularly love his own shoes, and these caught his eye. I wouldn’t put it past Duster to want to wear some smelly, 200-year-old boots that he found in a haunted castle. Maybe they fit his aesthetic. Maybe they do better as Wall Staple climbers.
Anyway, I just like to imagine how an item that a character picks up would actually impact their design. I know I’ve said before that I’d love to see a Mother series remake with this exact feature represented some way, but for now my imagination will have to do. As far as my mind is concerned, Duster now walks around Osohe with some steel-toed, spirit spikin’, cowboy boots.
Oh, and if you do have trouble with the Ghost Armor and its cohorts, you can always just put them to sleep. What’s that old saying? “The sleepiest armor is the ghostliest armor?” It’s simple science! Haunted armor is always ready for a nap.
Though I’ve gotta say, now I feel bad for taking the ghost’s weapons away. Is an unarmed suit of armor even a match for Duster and his Durable Shoes? Probably not, but look: when you’ve been in this castle for as long as I have, you start taking your shortcuts when you can get them. Unfortunately, my Battle Memory item won’t contain the “Ghost Knight” now, so we’ll at least have to accept that our Frog by Frog Pokedex will never be complete. I’m willing to concede that solely for how easy this battle was. And look, it wasn’t for my sake! Duster told me he needed a break, so I fought dirty for his sake, not my own. Sometimes the Heart of a Thief needs a reprieve.
The best thing about this mini boss, other than it’s cool battle background (yes, I still love these things), is that, when you defeat it, the ghost near the door thanks you, saying that no one really liked the ghost knight anyway, and that it kind of annoyed everybody.
For any other subplot that Mother 3 explores, this has to be one of the best, or at least I am going to pretend it is: that there was a ghost in Osohe who nobody liked, that would possess a suit of armor on the third floor. And that Duster, Tazmily’s smelly thief, wanders in to Osohe one day and kicks the ghost’s steely ass right out of the room. I love thinking of Duster as the hero of the friendly ghosts! I mean, he even has a bit of a Beowulf thing going on at this point: he showed up to a feast after a long battle, drank some wine and ate some food, then departed for battle once more, slaying a chronic, monstrous nuisance! That’s a Tazmilian Beowulf right there!
Who could call this guy a thief, when he always has so much to give?
I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings lately, and every time a character does something heroic, other character talk about writing a song about it, so that it can be passed down in to legend. Maybe I’ll start working on a short song to honor Duster’s showdown with the Ghost Armor, so that the ghosts of Osohe will have something to sing about for years to come. If only there was a musically-inclined ghost in Osohe who could help me with this task…
Although, for any song that could be sung about Duster’s fight with the Ghost Armor, a much greater song could be sung for the fight that’s up ahead. To put it in Nippolyte’s words: this fight is small potatotoes compared to what’s coming.
The Artistic-Know-Nothing vs. A Monsieur of Passion
Leaving this floor behind him, Duster continues onward, only to find a pendant on the ground. That’s right–last week, we saw someone run through here. They had red hair, and a look of pixelated determination in their face…
Personally, I’m just happy to see another living human in this old tomb. The journey through Osohe doesn’t get any easier just because the Ghost Knight has been taken care of. If anything, the next leg of the adventure is one of the most difficult. But we’re so close to the end! Keep pushing, Duster!
Specifically, I’m talking about the Rockin’ Ghosts, which ride around on wooden rocking horses. These enemies hit hard, move fast, and can spell bad news for any Osohe Castle expedition. Rockin’ Ghosts will regularly hit Duster for around 20 points of damage, with the occasional spike from a “charge” hit. Now that I think about it, I should have just used my Thief Tools more in battle, but, as a bad habit, I so often end up trying to bash my way through everything! I probably could have had these Rockin’ Ghosts sleeping in two shakes from the Hypno Pendulum! Not everyone can fight like Flint.
I wonder how that red-haired girl got by these so easily…
One of my favorite details about these enemies that, outside of combat, they appear only as rocking horses, so you don’t know that there’s a ghost on top until the battle begins. However, if you look at the mirror while they pass by, you can see the outline of the ghost as the little rocker advances toward Duster. Similarly to the Artsy Ghost stretching itself out of the painting, I love this small touch to a basic enemy, bringing both the environment of Osohe and the enemy itself to life.
I think it’s important that Mother 3 finds little ways to creatively portray its normal enemies. I think it’s easy for RPGs to put all the creativity toward the bosses and the bigger fights, making them as memorable as possible. But we can’t forget the little guys! Like the fact that Yammonsters become Baked Yammonsters after the Sunshine Forest fire, or these little details added to the ghosts, which turns a generic idea in concept (fighting a ghost in a haunted castle) into something surprising, creative, and unexpected.
I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the ghost’s shape appearing in the mirror! And I’m not saying it’s some brilliant design thing that no one has ever seen, or that Mother 3 is some kind of masterpiece because it added a fun detail to a single enemy–I’m just saying that why not bring as many aspects to life as possible, in a game? What if there had been more Stinky Ghosts in here? Or more Carpet Monsters? Or more enemies we had already seen? This hallway would be unmemorable–just another of Osohe’s rooms.
PIC of ghost
And yet, even this room can make a mark on a player. I may disparage Osohe Castle sometimes, and I may be literally losing my mind in here sometimes, but I have to give credit where it’s due, and I think Osohe finds ways to be just as lively (ha!) as the other locations of the game. God is in the details, folks!
The last thing I want to say about this is: I just like attention to detail. The fact that I’m writing this blog in the way that I am should be evidence of that enough. I’ve played a lot of RPGs in my day. I’ve played a lot of games, period! And the more I think and write about the Mother series, I learn that, above anything else, the details are where the heart of the games lie. Just like a good movie, a good book, a good album, or a good (haunted) painting: meaningful creations are rewarding to revisit. Not because a game has 10 alternate endings. Not because there’s enough DLC to keep you busy for years. Not because the dungeons are expansive, continent-spanning scapes where you couldn’t get bored if you tried.
But because, sometimes, you see something, and it looks pretty cool, and you can tell that there was a moment of inspiration from someone with an invested, creative heart.
Oh, well! I’ll probably lose all my readers by turning into a crazy, kooky old gamer. So let’s keep moving forward and see if we can’t find this shiny object. As a final, final disclaimer, I just want to say that I’m not trying to disparage the efforts of huge, expansive RPGs, nor am I saying that a wide open world is automatically devoid of creativity. I’m just saying something we all know in our hearts: bigger isn’t always better! It’s possible to accomplish big things in small spaces. It’s possible to show the hand of creativity without making something enormous, and I think the Mother series is such a good example of that.
Anyway, the next room Duster finds himself in is another long hallway, this time with three doors, as opposed to mirrors. Barrel Men lurk about, and there are two suits of armor, but they don’t seem to be haunted, at least not yet. But beside that… Can anyone else hear something? Like a song, but miles off. Like a lyric, but one I keep forgetting. There’s a faint melody behind one of these doors, but not quite in the same way as the piano from the part room…
Which means we should start opening them! Let’s see… What’s behind door Number 2?
Ah, yes–the Pseudoor, Osohe’s creepiest mug. I mean, really imagine for a second that you open a door, and you see this thing: the hungry, expectant eyes; the teeth-baring grin; the little hand reaching out to pull you in. On the idea alone, I love this enemy, because I love thinking about what it is; is it a ghost, expressing its afterlife energy in this container? Is it a demon, trying to draw Duster in and shut the doors behind him? Is it a huge monster, and we can only see this portion of its body? Is it an entire room itself, that has become so overrun with undead energy that there’s nothing inside but this pitch black face? This is no eggshell white ghost that’s gonna burp on you or barter for beef jerky. This is one of Osohe’s weirdest encounters, by far.
They’ll also throw up on you, so watch out for that. The fact that the doors can vomit at all brings in a whole new slew of questions, like: has the Pseudoor recently eaten something? Does the Pseudoor conjure its own vomit? If the Pseudoor’s vomit is traditionally demonic, does it look like pea soup?
Of course, like any haunted door, haunted room, or first-day demon on the job, the Pseudoor can become a little embarrassed, causing it to close its doors and defend itself from Duster’s attacks. You could take this as an opportunity to heal Duster or try out some more thief tools, but I’d say your best bet is to let the thief keep on kickin’. Try to end the battle quickly, so as to avoid getting any of that vomit on your shoes.
Once Duster defeats the Pseudoors, he’ll notice he can still hear that faint, far-off music. Is it Bach? Chopin? The thief tiptoes in his Durable Shoes all the way down the hall, past more suits of armor, until he reaches the door at the end. Once inside…
A ghost, who appears to be a musical conductor, stands in the middle of the room as objects float all around. The books shake by themselves, the furniture shakes, too, and all throughout the air hangs the thick, looming notes of this song, the aptly named “Polter-g-g-geist.” Like the rest of Osohe, the room lies in great disrepair, but there’s something more disturbing this time around…
Duster has really landed himself in some trouble this time, folks.
Mr. Passion is one of my favorite boss fights, probably just for the fact that it has stuck so well in my memory. I can remember Mr. Passion being an extremely difficult boss for me when I first fought him, way back in 2008. I lost to him over and over, probably because I wasn’t using any thief tools, but also because he packs a punch if you’re not careful!
More than nostalgia for all my losses, though, I like how, in the grand scheme of things, Mr. Passion has very little to do with the plot. Basically nothing, actually. Whereas the Reconstructed Caribou and the Mecha Drago tie in to Chapter 1’s plot, Mr. Passion is just something that Duster encounters during his travels. He’s just another piece of Mother 3’s world–another entity that exists here. Given that Duster brings back the wrong item to Wess after his first trip into the castle, the thief was probably never supposed to meet this ghost at all.
Remember when we talked about how weird/intriguing it is that the Pigmasks were hidden so close to Tazmily, yet no one knew they were there? Well, in a similar way, I love how Mr. Passion occupies a room on, like, the third or fourth floor of Osohe Castle, far away from Tazmily Village, far away from the ghost party room, far away from most everything in the Nowhere Islands… and he’s just doing this. Such a powerful ghost, stuffed away in a random room of a castle. Not a single Tazmilian, asleep in their bed right now, will ever know that Mr. Passion exists, and even Duster’s path technically should have never crossed this ghost’s, and yet… he’s up here, conducting villainous music with such focus that objects and animals are floating all around him. I wouldn’t even think Mr. Passion was evil if his head didn’t spin around when he talked.
I mean, what if Duster had just left Mr. Passion alone? Would the other ghosts just tolerate him? Would the poor mouse, caught in his ghostly grip, float here forever, until dying? In a way, I wonder what Osohe Castle could have been like if Mr. Passion were an optional boss, that the player could come across by their own devices. I think this is why Mr. Passion is so much fun to discover, and to fight; you truly don’t see him coming! What a fun idea for a ghost! The only thing I can think of that would make him even more fun is if, perhaps, Duster encountered some foreshadowing before finding Mr. Passion. Maybe in a few rooms, you could be able to hear music playing quietly through the walls, or maybe ghosts could complain about the “racket” upstairs.
He’s also just such a perfect boss for Duster to fight because, like Duster, he doesn’t really connect with anything else that’s happening! I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Duster isn’t important. He’s clearly a main character in the game, and he’s currently on a super important mission. But, like I’ve said before, Chapter 1 of Mother 3 established Flint’s family, at least temporarily, as our main players, so when Chapter 2 gives us Duster, it feels like sometimes you’re playing a side story. And what better villain for Duster to fight than some totally hidden, unknown entity?
Though maybe I should be less enthusiastic about Mr. Passion’s design and more enthusiastic about not losing to him in battle. I’ve lost to this guy so many times. And I really shouldn’t be losing to Mr. Passion anymore; I know the Smoke Bomb is effective, and I know the Scary Mask can lower his offense so much that he’s barely even a threat. And yet, once I’m in the heat of battle with this decomposing composer, I can’t help but trade blow for blow to see who comes out on top.
Not that this is a good thing. As per tradition, I lost to Mr. Passion during my first attempt, during the part of the fight where he will start to send “everything but the kitchen sink” flying at you. I could have mitigated this by using the Scary Mask on him, to debuff him as soon as he buffs himself up for +12 Defense, but my thiefly hubris got in the way! I thought I had him beat!
If you do struggle with Mr. Passion, go back down to the ghost party room, collect as many Rotten Eclairs as you can hold, then trade them all for Beef Jerky from the Friendly Ghost at the top of the ladder. Also, you may want to embrace the Thief Tools more, if you can’t beat Mr. Passion through Brute Force alone. Oh, sorry, I meant brute force. I forgot we’re not playing as Flint anymore.
As a last thought on Mr. Passion before I kick this guy into the next, next life, let’s talk about ghost hierarchies. When looking at haunted or “spooky” settings in fiction, I always love when there’s a spirit that is “stronger” or more significant than the others. Yes, I love all the ghosts in Osohe, and the Carpet Monsters, and the Pseudoors, and the Barrel Boys or whatever their name is–all of these enemies are creative and fun to fight against; all of these enemies add something odd and unique to the Osohe experiene. However, just like discovering the Mecha Drago on the Drago Plateau, I love discovering this vastly more powerful spirit, locked away in a room. It’s almost as if a single powerful spirit allows all of the lesser spirits to “live,” like a pocket of strong undead energy lets other souls to latch to its space, and infect, or haunt, the entire building.
I mean, I’m not trying to position Mr. Passion as some kind of dark, scary boss; he’s funny, if anything, and he’s a dedicated artist! I love how you can answer “Yes” to his prompt about listening to the music, and he won’t even attack you. He might truly believe you’re here to enjoy his music; he might truly believe that he is an excellent composer. But you can’t deny that his song is haunting as you listen over and over, and Mr. Passion does spin his head around to talk to you. So there’s a nice little blend of creepy and funny. Of seriousness and levity! Imagine that…
Of course, the proper way to start the battle is to say “No” to Mr. Passion, which leads to one of my favorite lines: “This is what artistic know-nothings like you blah blah!” And another nice touch is that, if you lose to Mr. Passion, he’ll change his dialogue to “Have you learned to appreciate my music?” If you say no again, he’ll say, “Now I’m angry! Gwaaaaarg!”
You know, they say that musical composers can be real pieces of work, so maybe Mr. Passion was just as aggressive in the living world as he is in the dead. Though, given that swiveling head of his, maybe he was beheaded in real life for composing something unsuitable for the King of Osohe. Then again, given Mr. Passion’s battle song, he seems to be a fan of the classical classics. I’m not going to pretend to be able to identify every piece of music in here, but it is pretty funny that such a passionate composer would also be such a plagiarist. That seems like such an Itoi Idea to me–a ghost so passionate about music that he’s still conducting in his afterlife, yet everything he’s conducting is someone else’s work. A plagiarist poltergeist! A plagiar-geist!
Though, to be fair, I don’t think Mr. Passion implies that all of these songs are his original work. Maybe he’s simply honored to conduct such music. Maybe the Nowhere Islands has record of all of the classical music greats, or maybe Mr. Passion himself, in the world of Mother 3, is the one who wrote these pieces.
Speaking of which, I wonder if Mr. Passion is the one educating the castle’s Artsy Ghosts. If you’re lucky, sometimes Mr. Passion will lose himself in the music during his battle, not unlike the Artsy Ghost skipping a turn to speak passionately about art. I’ve had fights with Mr. Passion where he loses himself in the music every other turn, and I’ve also had fights with Mr. Passion where he defeats me swiftly and deftly, not missing a single twirl of his baton along the way.
Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Mr. Passion’s got some style. Of all the boss battles so far, Mr. Passion is probably my favorite, from a gameplay perspective. Mr. Passion is all that stands between you and that something shiny, so put on your Scary Mask, throw couple smoke bombs, and shoo this dead conductor, and his dead music, out of here. We’ve got places to go!
Again, my main piece of advice is you struggle with this boss is just to throw a Smoke Bomb, then spam your Scary Mask–these two tactics should mitigate most of the difficult parts of the battle.
Once he is defeated, everything in the room will be still once again. There will not be a single trace of Mr. Passion, not even the impassioned sweat that dripped from his cold brow. His baton vanishes into thin air. The candlesticks float gently to the ground, the books cease to shake, and the room itself settles into a peace it has not known for hours, days, or maybe years, as, finally, not a single note can be heard. Silence.
But you will find a little mouse, who thanks you for saving it, and encourages you to take a nap on the sofa. The mouse’s gratitude warms something in Duster’s heart, and in my heart, too. So I do what anyone would do, in such a situation.
I take a nap.
When people ask me what kind of game is Mother 3, mostly I want to remember moments like this: moments where little mice say that I’m a life saver. Moments where, right after defeating a difficult boss, I crash on the couch for a quick snooze. Moments where my heart warms up by a couple degrees. Sure, I’m in the middle of a haunted castle, but when you’ve got a mouse on your side, a sofa under your back, and a warm feeling in your heart–what else would you ever need?
Even Duster, with all his thieving knowledge, couldn’t steal a single item in this entire castle that would make him feel better than moments like this. So rest easy, thief. There’s more to come, but not right now.
Something Shiny This Way Comes
Well, the moment is finally here. After spending three frogs-worth of gameplay in Osohe Castle, and about a month of real-life time, we are finally on the precipice of finding something shiny. Like I said earlier in the post, Osohe Castle is one of those spots where, when you’re playing Frog by Frog, you really start to feel it. I feel like I’ve been living in this castle as one of his residents. I feel like Jack Torrence in The Shining. I feel like I just want to get out of here!
Luckily, after defeating Mr. Passion, Duster himself begins to feel impassioned; there’s a spring in his step, a twinkle in his eye, and a wall in his staple, if you know what I mean. He rises from the couch, pets his little mouse friend on the head, and, lo and behold, when he steps through the door to the next room…
… it’s here. The something shiny. In the middle of the floor, ready for the taking. Is it so easy as to just pick it up?
Maybe, but maybe not. There’s something in the air in this room, something mysterious, something both old and new. On one hand, the song, “The Room Too Mysterious,” makes me feel like I’m stumbling upon something much older than myself. The something shiny, which, when picked up, is revealed as “The Noble Spittoon,” must have been passed down through generations. People have been spitting in this thing for decades.
On the other hand, “The Room Too Mysterious” makes me feel like I’m unearthing something entirely new. Maybe EarthBound made me too easily associate synth with aliens, but still: can you feel it? This room, and this castle, still contains more than meets the eye. This song is a little trippy, with a touch of grandiose, and some sprinkling in of salty ambiguity. It’s one of those great songs in the Mother 3’s soundtrack that, even though it is only used on a few occasions (this room, and maybe once or twice more?), it is still much more unique than it needs to be, and yet here it is. Honestly, the entire team of Mother 3 needs to be given an honorary Grammy or something.
Another point to Osohe Castle, I suppose.
Well, here it is, folks. The treasure! The Noble Spittoon! The shiny little number even contains its own special song in the soundtrack, which is how we definitely know it’s the real deal. Duster used his Mind of a Thief to navigate this strange location, and he used his Heart of a Thief to remain brave in the face of ghosts, carpet monsters, and Pseudoors. It appears as though our first Thief Adventure was a roaring success, so let’s get the heck out of here.
Unless you’re already nostalgic for fighting the undead, I suggest you travel back to the beginning of the castle through the fireplace, which will bring you smack dab back to the first floor. And then, finally, after a long, long night; a night that, to me, has lasted nearly a month; a night that has pushed this old frog to the brink and back, to the grave and beyond, to the great lily pad in the sky where my mind began to break into neat, little pieces of nut bread and beef jerky…
… Duster flings open the front doors, and the Sun has returned! The long, deadly night is over! It is day time, my friends, which, more importantly, means it’s bed time for Duster. Sleep all day, thief all night, as they say. Let’s get this guy home. Wess is sure to be proud of him.
Of course, I couldn’t help but explore around Osohe a bit, even in the day time, because nothing looks the same in the light. Now, I can see more clearly the wrinkled lines on Nippolyte’s face, the weathered cracks of the castle itself. I could also see the Waste Product from the Pigmasks, which was beginning to steam under the heat of a mid-morning sun.
Speaking of which, Nippolyte had given us the drawbridge key, which means Duster can stride right out of here like the champion he is. Though, now I wonder: why does Nippolyte never use this key? Is he afraid the ghosts of Osohe might run out into Tazmily? Is he afraid that Tazmily isn’t ready yet for the musical genius of Mr. Passion?
Well, folks, now I must do something I’ve known was coming: do you remember the frogs I met earlier on my travels, which I passed up? I’m speaking here of the Forest Sanctuary Frog, and the Frog outside of Isaac’s cabin. Now, I know here on Frog by Frog, we try to be purists when we can, but I think I need a break! I know for a fact that we have a section of A Million Tazmilians coming up, and I’d prefer to be fresh and fluffed as a spring chicken before I tackle such a task. I haven’t talked to this many Tazmilians since Frog #11, and we all know how that turned out.
So I guided the tired thief not home, but to the Sunshine Forest, where he could escape the harsh rays of the sun. Duster may be trying to please Wess with his retrieval of something shiny, but the old koot can wait a little longer. When you have spent so long in such an old castle, more than dust begins to take hold on your skin: the cold breath of the dead, and the ilk of the creatures who feed upon it, clings like the bony fingers of a wight, pulling us down into its tomb.
And so the thief decides his Mind needs it, and his Heart does, too: a stroll through the Sunshine Forest, even in its wreckage, may be exactly what the doctor ordered. So Duster walks into the shade of the trees, breathes in the real, living air, and feels a weak breeze on his face. Maybe he slips into the Hot Springs as well, but who am I to say? I decided to give the man some privacy.
What I do know, or what I have heard, is that Duster did find a little frog that day, and it hopped alongside him, and the two talked for a while. Duster shared his memories, and the frog ribbited them down, and at times, when the thief could not find a word, or could not turn a phrase, the frog extended its slimy little paw onto the thief’s boot. Sometimes, frogs know what we are thinking before we do, and they don’t need us to say anymore.
And so that’s where I left Duster, nodding off underneath a tree as old as Osohe itself. And there were monsters around him, and chimeras lurking just beyond, but they stayed away. None would disturb dozing Duster, for fear of his small, green friend, or so I thought at first.
But I also heard that, despite the spring in the thief’s step, his foes stayed back because of the mutterings under his breath. As he talked in his sleep, he told stories no one had heard in hundreds of years. He spoke in voices of those who had long been buried. And the Sparrows chirped among themselves nervously, sensing something new in the young man’s spirit. It was as if he carried something with him, now, and not just the spittoon, but something untraceable, perhaps indelible, from that odd and ancient place.