Part one of Tales of Destiny. Fifteen years after the events of Earthbound, an embittered and broken Ness is approached by an enigmatic figure and given a mysterious mission.
-/the side of the car crumpled as a pair of headlights appeared in the side of the car. A scream rang out beside him as he was sent hurtling forwards-/
-he shook his head violently to alleviate the vision. That was ten years ago, he reminded himself. Ten years since the accident. Ten years since he'd seen his wife and-/stop it!/ He yelled at himself. If he let himself dwell on it too much, he risked dropping into the depression that had wracked him in the months following the accident.
He turned towards the hotel. He was going to need a room while he awaited whatever was going to happen. He shouldered his bag and marched forwards.
As he pushed open the doors of the Hotel, he was struck by a wave of nostalgia. How many times had he and his friends stayed in this hotel, so many years ago? He grinned despite himself.
The man behind the desk quickly addressed him, using a heavy accent that Ness couldn't quite place.
"Hello there, sir, welcome to the Fourside Towers. How may I serve you?"
"I need a room for at least one night. Maybe more."
"Alright, sir, if you would just sign on the line here..." the man said, offering the guest registry and a pen. Ness signed his name quickly, and then took the room key that the man behind the desk held forth.
"Here you go sir, room 144 is yours. Check-out is at noon."
"Thanks" Ness said, pocketing the key and shouldering his bag once again.
"Crazy weather we've been having, isn't it?" the clerk said in casual conversation.
"Have we?" Ness asked, curious. "I mean, I saw the big black cloud, but I just thought a storm was brewing."
"That's what we thought, too...a week ago. That's when it appeared. Since then, it's only gotten bigger. When it finally rains, it's gonna one hell of a storm."
"Yeah, I suppose so." Ness said. "Hopefully I'll be gone before then."
"We can only hope." The man said casually. "Anyways, enjoy your stay."
"I will" Ness assured him.
The rain fell. He remembered the hotel clerk's words suddenly. The brewing storm had finally broken, and it was indeed going to be one hell of a storm.
It stood before him once more. It would paralyze most men with fear, but he was no ordinary man. He prepared himself quietly.
"Did you really expect to be able to stop me?" It asks him, loud enough to be heard above the falling rain.
"One is allowed to hope, right?" the words are light-hearted, but the tone is not. His almost flippant response is tempered by determination.
"True enough. At this point, hope is all you humans have, so I suppose you can be allowed it for the time being."
Ness jerked awake as the dream faded. It had changed this time, albeit minorly. What did the dream mean?
He glanced at the digital clock beside his bed. The readout said 11:34 PM. He sighed. He wasn't getting back to sleep. He might as well take a walk. Maybe he would see whatever was supposed to happen at midnight.
As he walked, he wondered-not for the first time-why he was here in Fourside on the cryptic word of a crazed man who'd given him advice in the dead of night. Taken logically, it made no sense. Yet something had compelled him here.
Ah, well/. He thought to himself. /What's the worst that can happen? After all, if nothing happened, he lost nothing.
Abruptly he realized where his walking had taken him. Oh my god... Without realizing it, he had taken himself back to the scene of the Accident that had destroyed his life.
It looked innocent enough, just a simple three-way intersection governed by stop signs. And yet...
"This is where it happened, isn't it?" A voice said from behind him. He whirled around, and came face-to-face with the man who'd brought him here.
"Yes, it is. This is the place."
"Care to tell me exactly what happened?" The man in the coat asked in a voice full of curiosity.
"We were going down this road, right here. We were going straight along. There was no one coming, so we just went right through. Suddenly a drunk driver barreled out to the other arm of the intersection. He hit us full-on." Ness paused. "Paula had turned around for a moment to give little Adam his juice. She went flying through the windshield and died of internal injuries at the hospital."
"And the child?"
"When we skidded off the road, we sideswiped a tree. It fell on the rear of the car, crushing him."
"An unfortunate turn of events."
Ness turned on him, eyes flashing with anger.
"An unfortunate turn of events? You call the death of my wife and child an /unfortunate turn of events/? My life ended that day. It was a miracle I survived the injuries I sustained. If I had known about Paula and Adam I wouldn't have woken up. The only thing keeping me going is the fact that I know Paula would not want me to quit. I'm living on borrowed time, and I intend to pay up as soon as I can." The man was still distant, seemingly not affected by Ness' rage.
"Walk with me." Was all he said, and then he turned and started moving at a slow pace down the pavement.
"Do you know who I am?" the man asked.
"I hoping you could tell me."
"My name is Mahna. I deliver the messages to those who need them."
"And who sends these messages?"
Mahna paused momentarily before continuing.
"When I was young, I believed in nothing. I saw nothing beyond what I beheld with my eyes, heard with my ears, tasted with my tongue, smelt with my nose, and felt with my hands. My disbelief blinded me from the truth. When I saw the light, I became bound to the service of the one who showed it to me. It is he who tells me where to go, and what to say." Ness snorted.
"So, you believe in what? God? Angels? Are you some kind of recruiter for a cult? Do you believe yourself a prophet?"
"I believe what I must. What I am is a servant of Destiny."
"Yes. Everyone is born with a purpose. Most fulfill them on their own. A few, such as yourself, require a small push."
"You're a bit late, pal. Try fifteen years ago. Giygas is dead as a doornail."
"No, that is not the purpose you were born with, although it was a part of it. You play a much larger part in what is to come."
"Oh really? And precisely what is in it for me?"
Mahna hesitated momentarily.
"I can see that it has been many years since you have been truly happy. You have found occasional contentment, but never happiness. The pain of your family's death and the guilt of your survival weigh heavy on your heart, dragging on your soul as a weight which will one day drag you to your doom." He paused dramatically. "If you complete this task, you will be reunited with them."
Ness turned on him angrily. "You liar! No one can bring back the dead."
"I can reunite you, bring you home. And I will, if you fulfill your destiny."
"And that is?" Ness asked.
"You will know." Mahna replied.
Suddenly, Ness' watch beeped. Midnight.
"Well, midnight's come and nothing's happened yet." Ness said smugly, before being cut off by a piercing scream from a nearby alley. Ness whirled towards the source.
"I stand correc-
He turned around, but there was nobody there. Mahna was gone.