Chapter 7: Race Against Time
The Magikoopa frantically tries to swim against the current, but with no luck. She tries to reach her wand as well, but the current is too strong and her arms are too weak. The freezing creature can hear the sound of an upcoming waterfall, and she can feel the current pick up its pace, ready to jerk her over the edge and leave her to plunge to her death. She sees the dragon, upstream from her as it to tries to resist the current as well. It fails over the edge, roaring all the way down. The Magikoopa seems to utter a silent sigh of relief, before she hears a flapping noise. Over the edge of the falls, the beast flies up and darts toward the Magikoopa. She screams and tries to struggle, but it is too late and he is above her. He dives down, and carries her up into the sky, while she screams all the way.
Lúmes wakes up in a small underground cave. The cold water laps up against the shore of the cave, like the waves upon a beach. The cave is cozy, and seems to be inhabited... by someone. There is a small couch that somehow manages to stay warm. Lúmes sits on it, and she is flooded with warmth. The couch seems to have some sort of heat enchantment placed upon it that makes it withstand the cold. After she is warmed up, she looks around. There is a bookshelf made of ice that is cluttered with books of different colors. Next to it is a large, black cauldron that looks as if it is hundreds of years old. Behind the cauldron, and touching the bookshelf, is a cabinet made of ice. Inside are different vials filled with solids and liquids alike. In the center of the room is a winding staircase that goes both up and down.
"How did I get here?" Lúmes wonders aloud, standing up.
"I have brought you here, Lúmes the Good. Or, so you are called according to the prophecy," a voice rings out from below.
"Who are you?" she asks.
A hooded figure comes into view, up the stairs. "I am the one that shall help you into your triumph against evil."
"Do you not know? It is your destiny to exterminate the foul Klúmes of legend."
"My... sister? What has happened to her?"
An explosion rocks the cave and the whole wall of ice is shattered as a swarm of dark light expands through the room. Screams are heard all around as strange shadows dance upon the walls and visions of terror and chaos enter the duo's minds. There is a display of smoke and fireworks as the shadow of a Luma appears in the center of the room.
The shadow grows stronger, and begins to fill in and take shape. The face of it is electrified, and swarms in an electric storm. The shadow grows slightly larger in size and begins to take on bodily features, and eyes are seen soon. There is a flash as the form is completed, and Klúmes appears there.
"Many things have happened, Sis." She cackles. "Things you wouldn't believe. So much power. Control. And complete dominance over everything. You should join me, Sis. Join me, and together we can control everything, and extend the reach of our power to galaxies never explored before. Isn't that wonderful?"
"What happened to you?!" Lúmes cries. "Where is the Klúmes that used to splash with me in the fountain, and race me around the tower? Why is there a sudden lust for power in the spot that there used to be a lust for fun?"
"I've outgrown that… seen the truth to everything. I know now, that none of that matters anymore. There is no good or evil, no right or wrong. There is only those who succeed. Rosalina has clouded your mind with crazy visions and insane ramblings of deranged ideas. You don't understand the truth. I am offering to help you... Why are you refusing?"
"You're crazy! I would never join you and your crazy campaign. Where is the Klúmes I used to know?"
"So that's the way you want to play it? We can do this the easy way or the hard way. I'm guessing you'd like the hard way." Klúmes advances toward her sister.
"GET AWAY FROM ME."
"I wouldn't move if I were you. I originally sent those Squid idiots after you, but I was told your location from this fool."
There is a flash as the old Magikoopa from earlier appears, shackled.
"MOTHER!" the hooded figure cries. She rushes forward, but eight large tentacles break through the ice and enclose Lúmes and the hooded one in a ball of slimy limbs. The hooded figure reveals a wand in her hand, and starts slinging all sorts of different spells at the tentacles that separate her from her mother, but to no effect. Instead, the tentacles start to move inwards, shrinking the space the duo are trapped in.
Klúmes chuckles. "It's like quicksand." She laughs, the squid's slimy appendages slowly closing in. "The more you struggle, the faster you sink. I'll give you one more chance to join me, before I start taking things by force. Just one answer you will give, and one path you will choose. Join me, or you shall surely die."
"I would rather die than join a power-crazed lunatic like you!" the hooded creature exclaims.
"Really? Well. Then I guess I have to do things the hard way!"
The squid withdraws his limbs, and Klúmes laughs. The cave begins to rumble, and the ice beneath her starts to shake as it cracks. Things begin falling from the walls, and water begins to splash upon the shore of the cave. The ice under the evil Klúmes rises into the air like an enormous pillar of frozen snow. It rises high, taking the shackled Magikoopa with it. The pillar rises high and breaks through the ceiling, shattering through the ice.
Klúmes's voice booms from above. "YOU HAVE EXACTLY THIRTY MINUTES TO MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE LATE DARK LORD'S ICE CASTLE. IF YOU DO NOT ARRIVE IN TIME, THEN THE MAGIKOOPA SHALL PERISH ALONG WITH ROSALINA AND THE OTHER LUMAS! THE CLOCK IS TICKING!"
The floor beneath Lúmes and her companion shatters, and they fall down into darkness that seems to go for miles. Eventually they come in contact with snow, and plummet through nearly six feet of it that rests upon the ground. They look up, and all they can see is darkness, for the cave has been covered over. Before being succumbed to complete darkness, there is a flicker up ahead as a single torch lights up and dimly illuminates the cave. It is a large room with a ceiling that seems to extend upward forever. Ahead of them a small door is visible, and above it is a new digital clock that seems very out of place considering its location. It reads 29:00.
Rosalina is about to say something, when suddenly she runs into an invisible wall and is halted in her tracks. A purple ripple is sent up through the air, arching backwards over them. Lumaria is the next to hit the invisible wall, and there is a flash as a purple force field is revealed. It extends up and over the surrounding area like a dome. On the outside, some sort of machine is visible with a cord leading down and under the field.
"Wha?" Redar wonders aloud, before looking around.
"Someone is containing us in this area," Lumaria points out. "That cord leads back under us... What could it mean?"
"LOOK!" Luma Pete exclaims, and points to a monitor that sits above the machine. "It's a detonator!"
The monitor reads 28:00
Back underground, Lúmes and her hooded companion race toward the door, as the clock ticks. Lúmes opens the door and they both race through it and into a dark room. The hooded figure lifts up her wand in the darkness, and a bright light shines out from it.
"Before we move on," she says, "I'll introduce myself. I'm Ella."
"Nice to meet you, Ella," Lúmes replies, looking around the now lit room. She sees another door at the end, but this one has a lock on it. In the center of the room is a key, and she begins rushing forward before she is stopped by Ella.
"Look!" she exclaims, pointing to the ceiling above. "It's a trap."
She is indeed correct, for there is a huge metal deathspike hovering over the key and connected to a nearly invisible wire that latches on to the key. Ella swings her wand in a circle and throws it at the key. It lets off a green flash and acts as a boomerang, swooping up the key and bringing it back before being crushed by the enormous spike. After getting the key, the two run to the end of the room and unlock the door. Above the door sits yet another digital clock. It reads 27:00.
Rosalina looks back, to see the dragon closing in on her and the Lumas. "RUN!" she exclaims, as she begins running along the inside perimeter of the force field. The dragon sees their change in direction, and begins cutting diagonally in their direction.
"There's got to be some way to disable that force field!" Lumaria pants, running alongside the others. "But how?"
"The force field has to originate from some point," Redar points out, "a point that lies in the direct center of its mass. From the looks of it, it seems fairly new, and can't have been put up very long ago. In fact, it seems like it was put up after we crossed the lake and the Magikoopa drifted downstream. Someone didn't want us to keep going in our ongoing direction, and activated the field."
"Either that or they want to contain us, and possibly kill us for some unknown reason," Luma Pete adds.
"If we keep running along the inside edge of the force field," Rosalina tells the group, "we'll eventually come to the opposite side and be able to determine where the center is."
"But how will we know when we've come to the other side?" Redar questions.
"When I ran into the field, it showed us the whole force field, but in the exact spot that I hit it, a purple ripple was sent straight up above us. The ripple is more strongly shown that the rest of the force field, and must have kept going in its tracks. This means we'll be able to see when we're on the other side," Rosalina explains.
"I see," Redar whispers. He then looks ahead, and sees the exact same scenario that Rosalina described.
"THERE!" Lumaria exclaims. The group then starts running straight ahead, towards the other side, looking up to follow the ripple that was sent across the field. Eventually they come to a very small disk in the snow. It is green in color, and there is a red digital display on the top of it. It is a clock, and it reads 26:00.
Lúmes and Ella enter the room, to see a door immediately in front of them, with a clock above it that reads 25:58. To the left and right of them is a wall. Each wall has a blinking green orb on it, and all around it are different paths lit in green. The paths can be turned in a circle, and each come in different shapes. There are "L" shaped ones and simple straight ones, while there are three-way and four-way intersections as well. There is a line of straight paths at the edge of each wall that lead directly to the door, but these paths lack a green light.
"It's like some sort of puzzle," Lúmes points out.
"I think we need to connect the green light to the doorway through these paths, to open the door," Ella hypothesizes.
They both immediately set to work, twisting pieces in different directions and allowing the green flow of light to get through. Eventually both colors reach the door and it glows in a green light. There is a flash, and it begins to open. The clock above it reads 25:00.
The dragon begins to cut through the forest toward the Lumas and Rosalina, shredding through trees with its enormous claws and fiery breath. Rosalina steps away from the force field generator and faces the dragon. She thrusts her wand forward in a javelin throwing-type motion. There is a bright flash as her wand throws out a blue light in the shape of a star, and blasts it towards the beast with incredible speed. It impacts the gargantuan lizard and sends him hurtling backwards, through the trees and into the force field wall. It falls to the ground and violently thrashes about, trying to get up. It does so, and begins charging towards Rosalina again with raw fury. She repeats her last movement, and it impacts the wall once more. This time, it does not get up, and its eyes close as it hits the ground.
Rosalina turns back to the Lumas. "We have nearly ten minutes to disable the clock before he gets up again."
"The question is, how do we do that?" Redar wonders aloud. "I've been tampering with this thing for a few seconds now and I can't quite figure out how to-"
He suddenly trails off as a rapid ticking noise is heard.
"What's that?" Rosalina asks, fearful of the answer. Redar merely lifts his "hand" to show her the disk that is now counting down minutes like seconds. 24:00, 23:00. "Hurry! Whatever you did, undo it!"
22:00, 21:00, 20:00. Redar lets go of the disk and it falls to the ground. The time stops its irregular pattern and reverts back to normal counting. The clock reads 19:00.
"That's strange," Lúmes says, observing the clock in the next room. "The minutes are counting down like seconds!"
Ella looks up, and watches it until it stops at 19:00. "That was strange. Anyways...."
She looks around the room, and observes a staircase to the right and a locked door before them. The keyhole is a round, spherical opening and doesn't look like anything that either of them currently possesses.
"I'm guessing we take the stairs?" she asks.
"Yup," Lúmes says before starting up the staircase. The staircase stretches on for an insane amount of time, before Lúmes has to pick Ella up off the ground and fly her the rest of the way. Eventually they reach the top. It is a dark room with a tiny bit of light seeping out from a panel in the ceiling. Ella waves her wand in a circular motion, and the odd panel moves aside, letting the duo climb up into the room above. It is dark, with a tiny stream of light coming from under what looks like a door. There is a sobbing noise heard in the room, which stops after Lúmes and Ella enter.
There is a bright flash and overhead lights flash on and illuminate the room. In the center is a floating Penguin, covered in some weird spider-like creatures. The monsters begin to steam and melt from the sudden light, and scurry to the walls of the room where they shrink in size and squeeze through small cracks. Underneath where they were on the Penguin is a small pack of dynamite. It is connected to a string that leads to a trigger on the door. If anyone were to open the door, the dynamite would be immediately activated, sending the Penguin to a fiery doom.
The Penguin thrusts out his hand, which holds a note. "This... is for you," he whispers, afraid. Ella grabs it and reads it.
"It's from your sister. It says: 'The only way to save this Penguin is to get through the maze. If you try to take him out the door or open it, he will die. If you try to take him away from the device, he will die. Your only option is to get the information out of him about the secret object hidden in this room. If you do not get it, you do not progress and you shall all perish in this room while all of your loved ones join in on your death. Signed, Lady Klúmes'," Ella reads. "What a cryptic message. First off, who are you, Penguin?"
"A general in the Continental Penguin Forces. I was captured here by the Dark Lord's army, and then hung here and placed into this trap by his successor's forces," he explains, still somewhat frightened.
"What did the note mean when it said about the secret object?" Lúmes asks, trying to hurry up the process.
"The Ice Stone," the Penguin sighs. "The same one who wrote the note, tried to make me tell her where it was. I told her that only a pure and noble person could get it. I assume, she picked you. I don't think you should take the stone. She'll do horrible things with it!"
"We have to. Klúmes is my sister, and she has our closest family captive. I assume that your loved ones are at stake as well. We have to get this stone to save them."
"But you don't understand! She'll do worse things than you could imagine. I saw the evil look in her eye. It is so dark, cold, and menacing that even the strongest of Penguin Generals fall weak at her glance. I know, first-hand."
"I'll deal with her later. Right now, we need to play along and get this stone to progress. I can take her down and defeat her later, but I need to reach her right now."
"I really don't want to, but I'll tell you where it is. It's no use resisting, because you'll probably find it anyway. Go over to the Penguin statue and slip your way behind it."
Lúmes silently goes behind the statue, waiting for her next directions.
"Do you see the little hole in its back? Reach your hand in there and go up. You should feel a stone. Pull it out and clasp it in both hands, and use all of your heart and soul to hope for it to come alive."
Lúmes reaches her hand into the hole, finding it to be quite slimy. She finds the stone and grabs it. Using both hands, she wishes and hopes with all of her energy for it to be alive. There is a flash and the stone glows, and turns into a diamond in a flash. There is an eyehole in the center.
"You are now in possession of Iceria's most powerful artifact. Guard it well. If you find yourself stuck, look through it to find the way."
Lúmes bows in thanks, and ushers Ella back down the stairs, leaving the Penguin alone once more.
Rosalina and the Lumas continue observing the disk that now reads 14:52. They have refrained from trying to pick it up again, or touching it for that matter.
"What should we do?" Lumaria wonders aloud.
Redar continues to think. "I could pick it up again and try to detach the cord from it. It's clamped in there pretty tight, and the time will be down to at least 7:00, cutting off more than half of the allotted time. Should I go for it?"
"I think we should try it, "Rosalina replies. "With the field off, we'll be able to get out in a lot less than seven minutes. However, I sense that the timer has other purposes as well. It seems as if it must be connected to something else. I'm pretty sure that there are other people involved in this as well and that even if we pull the plug, the time change will still be transmitted into the rest of the system. I don't want to risk destroying someone else's chances of getting out. On the other hand, I think that 7:00 should give them enough time too."
Redar takes a deep breath and hurries to work, downing the force field and leaving the timer at 6:00 instead of what he estimated, by accident.
The Luma-Magikoopa duo reach the bottom of the cave once more and find they have no circular object and that the time is now down to 6:00. Using the Penguin's advice, Lúmes looks through the eyehole to find the way. She finds a circular orb on the ceiling and flies up to get it. When she pulls it from its perch, a cord snaps and a hidden door opens. A large serpent slithers out, hissing at the two and staring them down with large, yellow eyes. Lúmes wastes no time and opens the door with the orb. She runs into the next room, with Ella behind her.
In the next room, the doors close slowly, allowing the snake to slither in after them. She picks up Ella and runs forward in the empty room, coming to a door on the other side. She opens it, and ends up back at the beginning of the room. She spots another door on the left side of the room. She opens it, the snake rushing after them, and enters the door. She ends up coming out of a door on the other side of the room. She uses the Ice Stone and sees that the wall behind the first door she entered is an illusion. She runs past the door and continues on to the end of the room, snake at her heels. She rushes through a large arch into the next room. There is a bridge over a frozen lake and at the end is a geyser of ice water that shoots up through a large pipe. The water below the bridge is deadly cold and gives off fumes of cold. The snake enters the room behind them and hisses, before jumping forward. Lúmes jumps out of the way, and the snake keeps going and ends up falling on to the frozen lake. It is frozen immediately, and bounces up into the air and comes back down on the bridge, landing right on top of the geyser, which is not currently spouting. The geyser soon spouts, sending liquid ice up through the pipe.
There is a clunk sound at the top as the snake hits the top of it. The top of the room shakes, and some stalactites fall down and onto the frozen lake. They are surrounded by a warm glow and Lúmes flies into the deadly, icy fumes before coming to the first stalactite, where she is consumed in a warm shield. She goes to the next, just barely making it into the next warm area. Eventually she reaches the door and enters. She drops Ella, tired from holding her. In this room is another staircase, and Lúmes sighs before picking up Ella again. There is a timer above the door. It reads 4:44.
Rosalina and the Lumas continue running forward and out of the area now that the force field has been deactivated. They run the whole way back to the village they first me the old Magikoopa in.
"Now what?" Lumaria asks.
As if on cue, Luma Pete points out a hut with a flashing light inside. Through the window he can see some equipment and a sonar. Above the sonar is a map of the space around the planet of Iceria. It is digital, and sunken into the wall. On it they can see the Observatory, still stopped in its tracks.
"It must be some sort of space lab, "Lumaria says before letting herself in.
Rosalina chases after her. "Wait! Be careful. For all we know it could be a trap!"
The others follow and enter the hut. On the inside there is a bunch of complicated equipment and Redar is first to look at it all. "Hmm. I've seen some of these things in the Observatory Control Room before," he observes. "I think I might be able to contact the Comet and see what's going on."
"Good idea," Rosalina says. "Everyone else, don't touch anything. We don't want to mess anything up. Just wait for Redar to finish."
In a few seconds there is a voice heard over the loudspeakers. "Hello?" it asks.
"Polari?" Redar asks. "Is that you?!"
"Yes. Is this Redar?"
"You bet it is."
"How did you get in contact?"
"Don't worry about that! I need you to come and rescue us!"
"I would have earlier, but when those creatures captured you all, our engines were damaged. There's this sticky goop coating them and keeping everything from moving. The more we try to get it off, the worse it gets."
"Sounds like a sticky situation."
"This is no time for jokes."
"Don't worry. What we need to work on is getting the engines un-clogged."
"Hmm... Well... That's a pickle. Do you think we'd be able to come to you?"
"I don't know. Look around... There has to be some sort of way to reach us or some solution to our problem."
Redar looks around the room and sees a door in the wall that he had not seen before. He walks over to it, and while he's standing directly in front of it, the door is gone again. It's just a plain icy wall there, no door. He steps forward, and his hand runs into the ice. He taps it around and finds a door handle and opens the door.
"In here!" he tells the others. He walks inside and comes into a small lab of sorts. There is a table in the center, and the walls of the room are lined with books. On the opposing side of the room there is a small computer, shut off. The table in the center of the room has some tablets of paper, a stack of books, and various beakers filled with different colored liquids, each labeled.
"It looks like some sort of top secret lab," Lumaria points out. "How did you find it? It was very well hidden."
"I saw it from another part of the room, and was able to find it. Looking straight at it, you can't exactly see it," Redar answers.
"It is a mirror of light and color. The light in the room was reflected off of certain points in the room that were modified for reflection. When the light came together in just the right way, it hid the door from plain sight. A genius technique," Rosalina explains.
Luma Pete, meanwhile, searches around the table in the center of the room. Eventually he finds a corked beaker filled with a sort of sticky goop that is bubbling over a crimson Bunsen burner. Nearby there is another beaker filled with an orange liquid, labeled "Solution to goop-like mess".
"I found it!" Luma Pete exclaims. He reaches for the beaker and accidentally knocks over the corked beaker. It breaks and the black goop flies all over the center table. Some of it lands in a graduated cylinder filled with a whitish liquid. The two mix and begin to bubble, becoming gray and then smoothing out into a silver shade. The bubbles begin to rise, and the container expands until it shatters, showering the room in broken glass. The bubbles get bigger and bigger and the goop begins to coat them. The goop mixture grows larger and larger, until it reaches the size of a small beachball. It continues expanding rapidly, combining with other chemicals until it becomes a huge ball and pops. The room is coated in goo, and it hardens not too long after, trapping Rosalina and the Lumas in a hardened cement.
Meanwhile, Lúmes and Ella reach the top of the stairway. They are in a huge, cave-like room with doors lining the walls. There is a large, blue glowing gate in the center with blue-flamed candles on both sides of the arch legs and a strange, foreign writing on the top of the arch. There are doors on the back wall and the left wall, each with a time on it and a clock above it. 24:00, 22:00, 20:00, 18:00, 16:00, all the way down to 2:00. The door with 6:00 is lit up and there is a digital clock display above it that reads 4:10. All the other door clocks are unlit. At 4:00, the 6:00 door stops glowing and the clock dies off while the 4:00 door lights up and its display reads 4:00 and begins to count down. Lúmes runs to the door, but Ella stops her.
"From the looks of it, whatever's behind each door takes 2 minutes. If we follow that pattern we'll count down to zero," she warns.
"Or, we're supposed to follow through to the 2:00 door and find the right way," Lúmes replies.
"But what if it's a trap and there's some other way we're not seeing?"
"Seeing? Wait, let me get out the Ice Stone."
Lúmes looks through the Ice Stone around the room and sees nothing out of the ordinary until she looks at the arch. "LOOK!" she exclaims, handing the Ice Stone to Ella and pointing at the arch.
Ella looks through and spots the arch. "You can read the writing!" she exclaims. "Wait on the three, ten you have and if you don't, ‘til death do you part."
"The three could symbolize the 3:00 and we have to wait. We have only ten seconds, but if we don't... The consequences are apparent," Ella explains.
"Or, we're supposed to wait on the third door to close, and we have ten of something until death do we part," Lúmes responds.
"I don't know."
"Hurry in the door before our ten goes away!"
"No! Wait here until it reaches the three."
Lúmes sighs and walks towards the door until she reaches it, and turns back. "Coming?"
Ella walks slowly. "No, we need to wait!"
The arch in the center glows and a translucent film appears in the center, showing the image of stairs. The words on top disappear and in red stone it begins to count down from 00:10.
Ella rushes to the center and so does Lúmes. Just as they walk into the film and disappear, the arch dematerializes into thin air.
The Comet Observatory floats in Iceria's atmosphere, not moving much. Frantically Polari tries to fix the engine problem, while the Lumas move around the ship, anxious.
Far away from the planet's outer layer, one of Iceria's two moons can be seen, reflecting sunlight. From the Observatory, a small dot can be seen leaving the planet's atmosphere and heading to the moon. The Lumas look at the ship in awe, pointing it out to everyone. The dot moves, showing that it is actually two dots. One heads to the moon, and one speeds to the Comet Observatory, not appearing friendly.
Ella and Lúmes appear in the icy hallway near where Lúmes and her sister fought the Dark Lord. There is a door in front of them, specifically the one to the Dark Lord's throne room. Ella opens the door, after looking at the above clock that reads 2:45.
The inside of the room is dark, lit by dim candles, appearing a little bit lighter than it did the last time Lúmes was in it.
A voice echoes from the core of the room. "So, you've arrived... And you've completed everything just as planned."
There is a bright glow as the Ice Stone floats from Lúmes's hands and into the center darkness of the room. "Just. What. I. Needed."
Klúmes reveals herself to the pair. "You played into my hands just nicely. You thought it was truly a game, but it was just an errand for moi. Retrieving the Ice Stone in a time limit, because if it's too far away from its altar in a certain time limit, the whole thing disintegrates... unless, you reform it." There is a flash as the Ice Stone is submerged in a dark essence. Klúmes then claps her hands. A clock appears above her and counts straight down to zero in one second. The floor drops, and while Ella and Lúmes fall downward into the darkness.
Meanwhile, somewhere else on the island, the sounds of simultaneous explosions go off along with the scream of a certain Magikoopa are heard. Klúmes laughs. "GAME OVER!"