"Today you must complete you Mu training, Prince Poo," he said. "You have an important destiny to fulfill, not only as the Prince of our wonderful land of Dalaam, but also to preserve the well-being of our entire planet."
"There is much that rests on my young shoulders, Mu master," I replied. "However, I intend to triumph for our people and the people of the this whole world as well."
"Very good, young prince. Then you must go the the highest point of Dalaam and meditate on the true meaning of Mu. It is up to you to take the correct path when you arrive. Remember your Mu training up to now and concentrate on nature's pure energy."
I bowed to my master and headed from the castle to find my destination. I looked back only once, praying that the positive karma of my ancestors, living and dead, would travel with me this day.
Walking though town, I greeted my subjects with bows and smiles. But like the Mu master this morning, they must has sensed my will to succeed, for none of them asked me to say with them for very long. By the time the village had become a speck on the horizon, I could see my destination atop the highest hill in the land.
I climbed up and began meditating.
I was vaguely aware of someone calling my name, but I knew it was a terrible deception. I concentrated even harder on the truth inherent in Mu.
I sensed him before I saw him, but we were indeed aware of each other's presence. Slowly, the ancient made himself visible to me.
"Prince Poo!" he boomed. "I know who you are and why you are here! I am the spirit of your ancient lineage. To complete your trial, I am going to break your legs. You will lose the use of them."
My heart began beating faster.
"Do you accept this?"
"For the good of my people and all people, I do."
I felt my bones break, but the meditation kept me from feeling any pain. Next, I felt a tug on my arms. The ancient spirit had torn them off and fed them to the crows.
"Ahh, Prince Poo... Without arms and legs you can only lie there. Now I shall make your inventory pathetically small, so you will one day be forced to make a decision between keeping a sweet healing item or throwing it away for something stupid like a machine that produces trout yogurt. Do you accept this?
"I must," I replied, saddened.
"Now Prince Poo, but a single indignity that remains. In the future, players will care about nothing but guns and graphics. The youth of tomorrow will flock to gritty games, and heartwarming tales like this one will be a thing of the past. Do you accept this?"
Every fiber of my body screamed "Nooo!" But I heard myself say, "Yes, I must!"
There was a flash, like lighting, and I could no longer see my tormentor. However, I knew the ancient spirit was smiling; not because he had broken me, but because I had passed his test.
* * *
I had never been more happy to see the familiar arches of the palace entrance. As I walked in, the Mu master was there to greet me.
"You have done well, young prince!" he said.
"Thank you," I replied. "It is your training that aided me the most in my endeavor."
The Mu master grimaced.
"What is wrong, teacher?"
"There is something I have been keeping from you, prince. I shall relay a message to you from Eternity. The evil entity that controls all wickedness, Giygas, is preparing for the greatest struggle of all time. The only ones who can challenge the entity are three boys and one girl. The one named Ness is the leader of the four. One of the boys is you, Prince Poo. Now that you've completed your training, search out Ness at once. For all beings, for the earth Herself. I pray for growth in the might of the four."
I felt a new power surging through me. The legendary teleport magic was now at my command. Was it the Mu training, I wondered, or the prayers of my master that had given me access to this new energy?
Before I could find an answer, I instinctively used the teleport magic to find my way to Ness, my new leader.
* * *
"My name is Poo. I am the one who will fight beside you," I said to my new friends. "I am the servant of Ness. I will obey Ness. My life is in your hands."
The one I knew to be Ness conferred with the girl who's name I knew was Paula, by the grace of the ancient ones.
"Is he for real?"
She placed her fingers to her temples and closed her eyes. The others stared at me in wonder and suspicion. Finally, Paula nodded.
"There's no doubt: This boy is the fourth chosen one."
"Welcome, Prince Poo," said the second boy. "My name is Jeff. I'm a scientist and a scholar."
"It's wonderful to meet you all," I said.
For the first time, I observed the place in which I had appeared. In some ways, it was not unlike Dalaam. It was very warm and dry. However, there were giant pools of water, big enough for hundreds to bathe in at the same time!
"Hey dude!" said a man who had walk up to us while we were talking. "That's one gnarly outfit!"
A woman who I assume was the man's wife was not too far behind. She held a strange machine to her eye that produced light.
"Whoa! Do you know who this is? It's the Prince of Dalaam! His name is Poo!"
She smiled and light flashed from her eye.
Apparently my reputation precedes me! I said hello to the strange pair and then continued on my way. However, none of this trivial celebrity status matters. What we must do is save Mother Earth.
"What is our first move, master Ness?"
The red-capped one thought for a moment, then: "It looks like we'll find some answers at the Summers Museum."
"Please, lead the way, friends," I said. Paula smiled, grabbed my hand and pulled me towards a bizarre looking building.
* * *
"I hope that tiny ruby wasn't some kind of priceless Dalaamiese treasure," said Paula.
I shook my head.
"It was merely an attractive pieces of red glass," I said. "I am unsure why that man was so interested in it."
"There's plenty about the world outside of Dalaam you need to be filled in on," said Ness.
Jeff gasped. I was worried he was in pain until he explained what was going on.
"These... these are the ancient hieroglyphics of Scaraba!" he exclaimed.
"Can you read them, Jeff?" asked Paula.
"What kind of scientist do you think I am?" he asked. He leaned in for a closer look. "They... they appear to be instructions."
"What kind of instructions?" I asked.
"Let's just say that they're our ticket into the ancient Scaraban pyramids. Monotoli told us that Giygas was trying to keep us away from the pyramids, so it's in our best interests to go there as soon as possible."
"How are we going to do that?"
"I... I'm not sure," said Jeff.
As we walked out of the museum, a strange sound filled the air around us. I readied myself to battle Giygas's forces, but Paula put her arm on my shoulder, calming my thirst for battle.
"It's just the phone," she said. "A communication device."
My muscles relaxed as Ness picked up the receiver.
"Is this Mr. Fork of the Scaraba Cultural Museum?" asked the odd voice on the other end of the line. "I'll quickly tell you my story, 'cause I'm busy, busy, busy! I found something so extraordinary that mere words could not do it justice."
"Wait, who are you again?" Ness asked, confused.
"What do you mean 'Who am I?’ Don't you recognize my voice? It's me, Mr. Spoon from the Fourside Museum of Natural History! Look Mr. Fork, I'm not exaggerating this find! I'm telling you... It's fantastic! See you soon!"
The line went dead. It was silent for a moment.
"What do we do now?" I asked.
"I guess... I guess we go to the Fourside Museum of Natural History!" said Ness.
* * *
The busy city was almost more than I could handle. There were more people than I had ever seen walking and talking; more than I knew existed in the whole world! My new friends were unfazed, so I tried to act like they did. Paula must have sensed that I was upset, because she grabbed my hand and said, "It's all okay. This is normal. Don't worry, sweet prince."
I was calmed, but I could see that Ness was suddenly upset as well. Maybe the sights and sounds were jarring to him as well.
Soon we had reached our destination. Inside the peculiar building, Ness nodded to us and we snuck past the woman at the counter. Perhaps she was another of Giygas's evil followers?
After walking past the remains of a truly fearsome looking beast, Jeff approached a man in a white coat and began conversing with him.
"Mr. Spoon, I presume?"
* * *
"What is a Venus?" I asked, confused.
"Man, they don't have much entertainment in Dalaam, do they?" said Ness. He was walking so fast it was hard to keep up. He said this without looking back at me.
"It's time for you to experience your first concert!" Paula said. She was beaming. "I'm sure you'll love it!"
"What is a concert?" I asked.
The other three pulled me inside another huge building, this time larger than even the museum! I was starting to feel uncomfortable again.
"Why are we here?" I asked.
Ness handed the man at the desk some green papers and he gave my leader something called a ticket. After walking though another set of doors, we were surrounded by thousands of noisy people!
"Just sit back and enjoy yourself," said Jeff. "It's a bit loud, but you'll understand once you see it."
Several minutes later, a beautiful woman stepped out on stage. The masses began cheering. I was afraid she was going to disrobe; I am far too young to see such a thing! But then she began singing the most beautiful melody I have ever heard in my life.
"You say this is normal?" I asked my companions.
"Happens every night!" exclaimed Ness.
I did my best to fit in, but it was not very difficult: Music is a universal language. My head bounced and bobbed, just as everyone else did.
* * *
"I can't believe you got Venus's autograph!" yelled Mr. Spoon. "And you say she even gave you a little 'bonus?'"
"Absolutely!" said Ness. "She smacked me right in the face. I still have the red mark to prove it!"
Paula seemed a little upset about Ness's enthusiasm. I am not sure why. Ness handed Mr. Spoon the banana husk Ms. Venus had scribbled on earlier.
"Then... allow me to show you something truly extraordinary."
Mr. Spoon lead us to a room in back of the museum. There was a small, circular entrance leading down into the foul-smelling darkness. It was rather similar to a place my friends had taken me earlier; a place called "Wal-Mart."
Without hesitation, we all traveled into the unknown.
* * *
"We're almost at the end; I can see the light from the manhole leading out of this place," said Paula.
Then she tripped over something in the darkness.
"Are you okay?" Ness asked.
"Yeah... what is this?"
"It appears to be some sort of power cord, but it is not plugged into anything," I said.
"Let's follow it to the source," suggested Jeff.
We did not have to travel very far.
"Oh, I see. It's connected to this giant rat butt," Jeff said.
Jeff then did not speak for a moment, but a vein in his forehead began throbbing.
The beast expelled a terrible, guttural screech! I knew that my first real challenge with my new leader, Ness, was upon me!
The beast took a bite with its poisonous fangs! Jeff screamed as it sunk its huge teeth into his body!
Paula chanted a spell and froze the monster, but only for a few seconds. I summoned all of my strength and punched the beast in its face. But nothing I did seemed to damage it!
Without warming, the monster struck again. Paula was knocked into a nearby wall. I doubted she would be able to stand up by herself and the giant blocked her off from us!
"Paula! Can you hear me!?" Ness screamed.
There was no response.
The beast lunged at Jeff, hitting him in the chest. Jeff slumped to the floor. It appeared that we were about to pay the ultimate price in the name of Mother Earth. I was reminded of my Mu training: Whatever happened to me, I could not give up!
Ness was the next to be defeated, yielding to a painful injury inflicted by the monster's massive teeth. I was the only one left.
I took a deep breath and began chanting an ancient lightning spell. I believe the monster knew what I was doing; it took a step back and shivered.
The first blot struck the area next to the beast, but the second wrapped the animal in electricity. With a giant groan, the monster fell on its side. It no longer moved.
One by one, I dragged my unconscious friends up the latter to the outside world.
I felt an immense power flood over me. My friends revived.
Later on, Paula drew a picture of the area:
Victory was ours that day, but it did not come easily. I would need to train harder than I ever had before if I was going to be a help to my new friends.
I don't know what the future brings for us, but I know that I am where I belong. I will follow Ness, Jeff and Paula to the end of the world if it means the people of Dalaam - and all the people of our world - can finally exist in peace.
Giygas, know this: We will defeat you!