e-mail: jv.choong [ at ] gmail dot com
Hiya Hadaly, sorry I took so long. I told Master Finnegan I was getting dinner - no lie, I just haven't decided what to get. When I asked Master Finnegan he was all, "Whatever", so do I really do whatever, or- Ooh, cookies. Can I have one? Thanks!
You're asking about Master Finnegan, right? Nah, I figured someone would eventually ask, he did do a number on that planet. I'm kinda surprised it's taken the Vaticanny Place this long; remember when I killed a dragon on the north spire and its blood went everywhere? Took Vaticanny ESH three hours to haul me up for questioning. I'm guessing you had a hand in this case, but I'm not gonna pry.
So last week there was a stack of papers about super rare Muguet flowers growing on a planet pinned onto the announcement board so I took one home for Master Finnegan. At first he wasn't keen, but then Godfrey called and then Master Finnegan just kicked his study door open and declared, "Sedna, get dressed, we're picking flowers!" He said it'd be useful to study the flower's effects on his planet, but we know Master's Finnegan's got this thing about using everything as 'artifacts' to boost growth and all as if his planet depended on it. You've seen his planet, right? It's not all rocks, it's got people, animals, running water, plants... I tell him it looks fine, but it's never good enough. Pyoben's got better-looking cats, Godfrey's got nicer people, yours has better tech... everyone here controls lives, growth, time - you'd think that count for something.
The planet was just weird, Hadaly. Just a tiny air rock with a big flower field covering the whole place. No trees, weeds, animals, guard monsters. Not even different flowers, just one type of flower. It had red, long petals that look like it'd been peeled open and the center has long tiny crystal... thingies- filaments? Looks like those white flowers in the vase behind you. Oh, those are lilies? So yeah, red petals, tiny crystal filaments with a tiny crystal bead on top of it. The petals have a gradient so it's dark red nearer to the center and more orangey at the tip. I don't know if my description makes sense. That'll teach me not to take pictures.
We were there for the flowers, so of course we were taking some back. But I've seen this schtick before: Stand around long enough and a big bad thing will show up with some grand plan to take over the universe with the flowers. I'll draw my sword, music starts up from nowhere, and it's time to fight. So we waited in that field, the wind blowing pollen and petals all over like rain except that it sticks to my clothes. Really annoying. At least the air smelled nice.
I can't remember how long we waited. Half an hour? Time flows funny when you're standing in a flower field and the sky's full of stars. I didn't even notice when Master Finnegan started looking around real frantic, looking for something that wasn't there. He had one hand resting on his gun holster, the other revving up a spell. That's when I knew something wasn't right. Master Finnegan's got sharp instinct, but he's not too good at expecting the whole enemy thing, either calling it too early or too late. Even then he never had the wild-eyes or shallow breathing thing that scared folk get.
I called him, but he didn't answer. Just looked straight at the field and suddenly threw an ice blast! Patch of flowers crumbled into ice dust! Then another and another, and suddenly there were mini ice craters everywhere! I tried, I really did, but I couldn't get to him, he was looking at something in the distance, and-
-and he looked scared and angry, y'know? I see angry Master Finnegan every other day - he gets angry about his tea, he gets angry about work, he gets angry about people at work - but this was different. He kept searching for something, someone, calling for a Smiley the whole time. Kept shooting ice at the flowers while shouting, "Come out Smiley, I know you're around!" And each time he did it he was running farther away from me. No way I was letting him out of my sight, so I chased 'im, and I thought we were just gonna run around the field until someone else showed up. But then he turned and tried to ice me! You see this scratch here? I nearly got it into my face!
I saw Master Finnegan's eyes. Seen that look before once when I looked in a mirror after my village burned down, that's what he had. Suddenly I had to think of a plan! Not that I can't, but I haven't done it in ages. The last time was way back on my home planet, and that person wasn't hurling frozen energy blasts in my face.
"Master Finnegan, it's me! Get a grip Master Finnegan!" Turns out exploding frozen flowers make lots of noise and kick up pollen and debris everywhere, so now I can't even hear myself think. I can't get near Master Finnegan, I'm too busy not getting hit, and now he's hiding in a mist of flower petals and rocks and soil! At least his gun would've been easier to outrun.
If we have to leave this place in one piece, I gotta get Master Finnegan to calm down, and that means I gotta get to him. I shouted so loud he finally turned around, but he doesn't see me. Master Finnegan now had four smaller ice blasts in between his fingers, and apparently he just learned to do that! That's Master Finnegan, always adapting and improving, that's why he's my hero!
If Master Finnegan can switch up his style, I can't be a slouch either! He threw the four ice blasts, and one hit me in the arm. It hurt like a paintball bullet, bruises like one too. The ground's slippery from the ice and frost, so I was sliding left and right, going in nearer. I go in, and his open palms were reaching out to my face. It's a shame to lose another sword, but I bought a new one yesterday. I put my sword up between us, and where his hand touched the blade, it rusted. Gave me time to kick Master Finnegan in the shin. Not too hard though, didn't want him getting mad later. He stumbled, and I went in for his face.
Y'know I've always wanted to hold Master Finnegan, just not the way I did that day, cupping his cheeks and pressing our foreheads together. I whispered, "It's okay Master Finnegan, it's just me, it's okay," just saying it over and over hoping something got through. It took forever - okay no, but it sure felt like forever - but Master Finnegan slowly snapped outta it. He wasn't breathing so hard anymore, and then he just fell into my arms! I wasn't gonna wash my hands ever, so far I've been making good of tha- hey! No, don't wipe that dirt stain, that's Master Finnegan's sweat and tears! Aw, dang.
Nah, I don't think there's much left of that planet. We sat for a while until Master Finnegan felt better, then he just stood up and said we were going back. I asked him if he wanted to take home a flower or twelve but he just pushed his glasses back up and said, "Let's go." Didn't turn around to see what he'd done. How bad was it? We probably left it in a mess, but- blown up? No, we didn't do it - we didn't replant the flowers, but we didn't destroy it either. Wait, that means there's no more flowers? I knew I shoulda taken one for keepsies!
Hey, the name Smiley ring any bells for you? No? Was worth a shot. I asked Astrida and she said something about Master Finnegan's master, but wouldn't tell more. That's funny, thinking that Master Finnegan had someone he went on adventures with, but something tells me that wasn't the case. When he called that name, Master Finnegan looked... he looked like someone betrayed him really bad. Well, if you find out anything let me know, alright?
Master Finnegan's been staying in his study since then, so I've had lots of thinking time. I've been living with Master Finnegan for ages, but I guess I don't know him that well after all. Feels sad, yeah. But that's okay, I think I'll be around Master Finnegan for a while.
Ooh, is that the time? I'll just grab bento for dinner. Master Finnegan always likes the convenience store dinner bento, so I better go before it's all gone. How 'bout you come over someday? I've been learning to bake chocolate cheesecake; the first time I made it Master Finnegan used it to fill fissures in his planet, but he's been actually eating the cake, so I'm improving! Good luck with your report, Hadaly!
...Actually you know what Hadaly, don't tell me anything if you find anything about Smiley. It sounds really personal and important for Master Finnegan, doesn't seem fair to know from someone else. I figure there's a reason he doesn't wanna tell, and that's fine, we all have our secrets. Yeah, I did say it's sad not knowing, but, how d'you put it... s'not how love works? Maybe Master Finnegan'll never talk and that's cool, but maybe he'll also tell me himself, and that'll be super cool.
He's a world too, Hadaly, like those planets you guys fuss over - he's got his own ecosystem and natural wonders, but he also has dark secrets and ugly cracks that need fixing. If or when that world breaks, I'll fix it.
'Course it's gonna be me; saving the world is what Legendary Heroes™ do, after all.