If there was anything that Fawful knew about Toads, it was that by and large they were not the brightest bulbs in the box. Even though he now lived out in the open as himself, rather than under some convoluted concoction of disguises and dual aliases, that fact made it possible for him to not fear any sort of arrest due to his past transgressions. Considering they would willingly buy "Blorb Shrooms" (from him) when there was an epidemic called the Blorbs (caused by him) and not make the connection, it wasn't too hard for him to get a fairly decent living space in the Mushroom Kingdom without any major questions asked. He counted his lucky stars that they were more trusting than anyone in his homeland like would be, especially to someone like him, and especially since Peasley probably still had guards searching for him after the end of the racing tournament a couple years ago.
He suspected it was their precious princess rubbing off on them, or maybe the other way around. Either way, someone somewhere was way too trusting, and he felt that any decent monarch would do something about the neighboring tyrant constantly kidnapping her and send out a proactive army to try and quell the threat. Or at least SOMETHING more than two stupid plumbers. Wait, no. Luigi and his stupid, more famous red plumber brother. Maybe it was just the weird week of sharing the same body talking, or maybe it was that incident with time travel shenanigans, or just the fact that he'd been trying to live a "normal" life for the past two years, but he couldn't bring himself to hate the green-clad plumber anymore. He sort of considered him a friend in some sense of the word, and he had even began to see Mario with less hostility and more...maybe not friendship, but at least neutrality. And whether or not he had any hatred for either of them didn't really matter anymore, considering he'd been laying low for so long.
Now whether he was actually planning to keep laying low or not, that was another matter entirely. Or at least it would be, if he could actually come up with any good ideas.
"The planning has slowed," Fawful moaned to himself, resting his head on his desk in tired frustration. "The ideas have the flow of molasses that is thick..."
"Something troubling you, Lord Fawful?"
Fawful turned to face the digital voice with a sigh. While he still felt it was one of his better ideas to put proper AI into his newly updated headgear (and have it refer to him as "lord", that really helped to keep the old ego stroked), he sometimes regretted giving it that smug sort of stereotypical British butler voice. It made it sound like it was always rolling its nonexistent eyes at his every statement or action. "Of course I am having the troubles," he said tiredly. "No plans for anything that is not being of mundanity and boredom are having any possibility of the success."
"And just what would you be planning this time, Lord Fawful?" the headgear asked. "Or rather, what are you attempting to plan?"
"I am sprouting the seeds of several plans," Fawful told it. "I have giving the priority to one goal of specificity..."
He turned back to his desk, looking over his mostly blank brainstorming sheet for that specific plan. Sometime after the racing tournament, when he had first made his official move to the Mushroom Kingdom ("official" meaning "not just living in the sewer like a weird homeless guy"), he had managed to find the location of someone important to him. In fact, for a while, this person was the closest to a friend he had considered anyone. And he had left him to be consumed by his own newly given ice powers, all so he could stall for time to charge up that godforsaken Dark Star.
"Midbus...I am still having the regret."
"Ah, yes," the headgear said. "Midbus again." It let out what sounded like a mechanical sigh. "You know, Lord Fawful, it may not be wise to put so much heavy focus on something that may not be possible by any sort of conventional means."
"I have awareness of this," Fawful said curtly.
"And yet you seem to be willingly disregarding that," the headgear said. "After all, someone who has realized an idea is impractical or even impossible to carry to fruition would not be keeping a large frozen pig man in a secure storage facility."
Fawful grimaced. "Hammer Bro Hideaways is being the only location where I have the roominess for storing the...storing him." He had almost referred to Midbus's frozen form as "the body", which would give the impression he believed his friend to be dead. That wasn't true, of course, it couldn't be. He had checked his vitals when moving him into storage, and while it was very faint, there had been a pulse and a few other subtle signs of clinging to life. He just had to keep him alive while he figured out how to safely defrost him...that is, if his detection of life signs weren't just extreme wishful thinking.
"So what else have you got in the works in that big, bright, fleshy brain of yours?" the headgear asked.
"There is not being much," Fawful admitted. "I am thinking it is the job that has the sapping of all creativity which I once had." Despite the fact that Fawful had all those Beanbean coins stashed away and would occasionally exchange a few at a time for a nice sum of Mushroom coins, he had forced himself to get a job at a nearby electronics store in order to prevent bleeding his winnings dry, however slow that would have happened. And it was almost mind-numbingly boring.
"Yes, mundanity can do that to some people," the headgear said. "But at least you are keeping yourself busy, Lord Fawful. Maybe you will reach that 'shower thoughts' state of mind I have heard some who are capable of taking showers without shorting out describe."
"The thoughts of the shower are only the thoughts of ridiculousness," Fawful said, a sort of dismissive derision in his tone. "I have been reading the postings of such things, most are being of the silly and bizarre."
"Better silly and bizarre than nothing at all."
Fawful nodded. "That has truth."
"Well, I am sure you will think of something," the headgear said. "It is getting somewhat late, though. Perhaps you should go to bed soon? I believe you have work in the morning, do you not?"
"Please do not have the reminding of me," Fawful groaned. "And by that I am of course meaning keep with the reminding with your alarm clock feature."
"Still think it would have been more practical to just use an actual clock for that, Lord Fawful."
The next day went fairly smoothly for Fawful. The customers he had assisted hadn't been too terribly frustrating, no shenanigans were going on in the back room, no one's kid had made a large ungodly mess in the video games aisle, all in all a decent day. As it was nearing the end of his shift, he glanced out the large glass sliding doors at the front and could see the sky beginning to turn grey. While he generally liked the rain, he couldn't yet tell how hard it would eventually be coming down or if he'd get caught in the worst of it. Not to mention he hadn't been out in truly heavy rain since accidentally discovering he had the thunder hand, and he wasn't entirely sure how it would react. One thing was for sure, Fawful was grateful he didn't use his headgear to commute.
"Oof, looks like it's gonna be a doozy of a downpour," Shelby, the Koopa who was that shift's manager, mused to herself. She looked over at Fawful, who was currently setting up a display for some new phone model that was almost exactly the same as its predecessor. "Yo, dude, don't you usually walk home?"
"My apartment has closeness to the store, so yes," Fawful said. Normally he was careful not to use his typical speech patterns on the job as it was "confusing the customers", but there currently were no customers and he was tired enough for his brain to have stopped handing out his small supply of damns.
"Why don't I help you with that last box, then?" Shelby offered. "Get you on the way home quicker."
"Thanking to you," Fawful said with a smile.
Meanwhile, back at Fawful's apartment, a Toad carrying a toolbox was knocking at the door. Fawful hadn't gotten back home yet and thus was unable to answer, but the knocking and subsequent opening of the door had alerted the headgear's built-in security systems. Sirens blaring and weapons charged, the headgear flew towards the door to engage with the Toad. "And just what do you think you are doing here?" the headgear asked sternly.
"Whoa, whoa, chill out!" the Toad shouted. "I'm just the maintenance guy!" He held up his toolbox and with his free hand pointed to the patch on his uniform shirt, which read "Fahl T."
"Maintenance, you say?" the headgear mused, powering down its weapons. "I was not aware of any repairs needing to be done in this apartment. Lord Fawful generally fixes anything in here anyway."
"Oh, there weren't any reports for fixing anything specific, this is just a routine inspection," Fahl T. clarified. "Uh, is Mr. Gracovitz here?"
"Lord Fawful is currently out," the headgear said. "He should return within the hour given his typical schedule, that is if he is not being held up by anything."
"Well, I'm normally supposed to do these inspections while the tenant is home, but a robot butler probably counts," Fahl T. sighed.
"I'm not a robot butler—"
"Yeah, yeah, close enough," Fahl T. said dismissively. The headgear moved out of the way to let him in. "I didn't catch your name, what was it?"
"I do not have one, as far as I am aware," the headgear admitted. "Lord Fawful just calls me 'headgear'..."
"What was that? Hector? Edgar?"
"It was neither." A pregnant pause, and then the headgear said, "Though now that you mention it, 'Hector' does have a nice ring to it..."
Fahl T. was no longer paying the headgear any mind, caught up in his usual routine of checking the apartment, so the headgear returned to its place of rest. As he made his way through each of the rooms, examining the appliances the complex provided and checking the ceiling lights for any needed bulb changes, he eventually made his way to the master bedroom. Something in the corner of the room caught his eye: a discolored spot on the wall. He approached it and bent down to give the spot a closer look, which seemed to be just a spot where the paint had faded. "Gonna have to come back and touch that up some time," he muttered to himself.
Upon standing back up, Fahl T.'s cap bumped into the nearby shelf and he heard a crash behind him. He turned around in shock and saw a glass jar shattered on the floor from its impact with a large electrical plug, a dark-colored stone sitting among the glass pieces and (unless his eyes were playing tricks on him) oozing some sort of similarly-colored substance into the beige carpet. "Crap, crap, crap," he said, panicking somewhat. "I'll have to get the steamers." He ran quickly out of the room and past Fawful, who had just gotten home. "The inspection went fine I'll be back with some paint and a steam cleaner no extra charge bye!" he squeaked out as he fled.
"What...who was that being?" Fawful asked.
"He said he was maintenance staff," the headgear said as it booted back up and came to greet its creator. "Apparently there was an inspection scheduled for today."
"Inspection?" Fawful thought for a bit, then nodded in understanding. "I have memory of a flier of notice being sent, but not the memory of today being the day for that."
"Never mind that," the headgear said, "I am sure I heard a strange sound coming from the master bedroom shortly before he left. Something akin to glass breaking."
Fawful's eyes widened. "I am only having one item that is being made of glass in that room," he said. He dropped his bag onto the floor and ran into the master bedroom, the headgear following behind, and sure enough they both spotted the mess that Fahl T. had made. The odd stone he had picked up just before the first race in that tournament two years ago was sitting in a puddle of its own spreading residue, surrounded by shards of the jar he had been keeping it in for future study. "That Toad who is clumsy and stupid did not even have the bother of picking up the pieces of sharpness!" he groaned.
"Not to mention he has let whatever that object was get its odd substance all over the carpet," the headgear said, having used the mouth located on its top to bring over the nearby garbage can. "Absolutely disgusting."
"But where is this substance of oddness coming from?" Fawful asked. "The stone...it is just being a stone. Yes, I had the witnessing of it nearly taking a life like candy from babies who are stupid, but it never had leaking of anything..." He began to put the larger pieces of broken glass into the garbage can, and as he did so he became more and more curious about the odd stone and its increasingly oozing...whatever it was. Slowly, carefully, he inched a finger towards the substance and gave it a light poke, quickly drawing his finger back with a sharp wince of pain. "It has burning!" he exclaimed.
"Careful, Lord Fawful!" the headgear urged. "It could be toxic!"
Fawful didn't have to be told twice. He stood up and made his way into the kitchen. Shuffling through the cabinet drawers, he soon found a pair of tongs and a pair of rubber gloves for extra protection. He returned to the bedroom, slipped the gloves on, and gingerly picked up the stone with the tongs. He brought it a bit closer to his face to examine it. As he did so, he could see where the substance was coming from: a small crack in the side that may or may not have been there previously, and if it had been there it had only just been properly agitated. The substance began to slow in its escape from the crack, forming in more of a jelly-like state than pure liquid as it had been earlier. Fawful grimaced as a large gloppy drip wobbled in front of him, almost like the stone had grown an arm and was now waving at him. "That is...being of so much disgust," he murmured.
He decided that if that weird stone was going to keep creating so much disgusting glop, either he was going to have to find another place to put it or it would have to go. Fawful didn't have any more jars to spare at the moment, so he settled for the latter. The stone held tight in his tongs, which unfortunately he knew could never be used in the kitchen again, Fawful left the apartment and headed down the stairs toward the complex's trash disposal. He opened the door, blasted by the rancid smell of everyone's collective refuse from the days since the last garbage collection, and was just about to chuck the annoyance in there tongs and all.
"Wait! Don't throw me away like yesterday's putrid trash!"
Fawful paused. He thought for sure he had just heard a voice from somewhere nearby. "Who had the saying of that?!" he blurted out.
"Down here, in your hand," the voice said. Fawful looked down to see the glop hanging from the stone had oozed out much more since he had last examined it. Now it looked as though a whole torso had formed, with a head and two arms attached, dangling upside-down from the crack it had come out of. "I'd like to think of myself as much more than easily discarded refuse," the blob said through its gloppy mouth, its single yellow eye narrowed in annoyance.
It was one of those rare moments where Fawful was literally speechless. "What are you...?" he asked softly, having been startled out of his typical speech pattern.
"It's a long story," the blob chuckled. "And not exactly something that one spends valuable time going over during a downpour. You wouldn't mind taking us somewhere indoors, would you?"
Fawful hadn't noticed in the rush to get the blob out of his apartment, but it had indeed started raining since he had returned home after work. "Er, yes, I have living in this complex of apartments," he said.
"Then by all means, please, let us continue this there and I will tell you all I can."
"All right," Fawful said. Taking care to keep hold of the tongs, he returned to the apartment, where his headgear was busy retrieving cleaning supplies and preparing to do something about the massive dark stain festering in Fawful's room.
"That took a bit longer than I would have predicted," the headgear said. "Did you run into some unexpected trouble—" It then noticed Fawful still holding onto the stone the talking blob had extruded from. "I thought you were throwing that away?" it said in confusion.
"Look, headgear!" Fawful said. "It has the being of a person who is tiny!"
"A mechanical assistant?" the blob mused upon noticing the headgear. "Interesting. So did you build this contraption yourself or are they just common in this—" An unnatural noise burst forth from the blob in place of whatever word it was going to use, a harsh buzz similar to radio static. "Huh. That's odd..." The blob tried to repeat whatever word it had meant to say, only to let out more static-like sounds.
"Please have stopping of the noise that is destroying Fawful's ears!" Fawful shouted.
"I would if I could," the blob said, clearly annoyed. "It only seems to happen when I try to say that word, at least at present, so I suppose it's not too terrible to have a slightly limited vocabulary for now."
Fawful placed the stone and its new blobby appendages onto the table, grabbing a roll of paper towels in case things got even more messy. "So...who or what in exactness are you being?" Fawful asked.
"I'm honestly not sure if I would be able to tell you," the blob said. "After all, if some unseen force is rendering me incapable of saying just one word, there's no telling what other words or even phrases I would be prevented from putting into speech..."
"That is a point of goodness," Fawful said. "Can you be giving hints?"
"I can certainly try," the blob said after some thought. "I'll go as far as I can, then when any strange noises happen I'll try to see if vaguer wording does anything to aid in the explanation."
Fawful nodded. "All right."
"So, for my explanation..." The blob seemed to take in a deep breath in preparation for what it was about to convey. "I am a—" The radio static sound came back in full force as the blob's mouth moved in a way that suggested several words before it stopped itself. "...Let's try that again. I...come from somewhere very far from this...place. I am known for performing acts of...unnatural force...for amusement and combat."
"Force of unnatural?" Fawful asked. "Are you meaning magic?"
The blob smiled. "Exactly."
"So you are being a wizard from a country that is not here?" Fawful tried guessing.
"Think bigger than 'country'," the blob said slyly. "I can't say any more than that in regards to that thread of a detail—believe me, I tried, it was one of those words that I am apparently not permitted to say."
"It is being like the Voidfish," Fawful laughed, remembering that podcast he had recently started catching up with.
The blob gave him a confused look. "What in the –" (static) "—is a—" (static) "—fish?"
"Never minding," Fawful said, shaking his head. "Do you at least have the capability of telling me your name?"
"My name?" The blob grimaced. "It is very similar to one of those forbidden words, but I will give an attempt. My name is—" Another burst of static, followed up by a loud, angry swear. "This is incredibly frustrating... Well, I can at least tell you that the name had the slightest bit of masculinity to it."
"Things would have ease if I were having a name to be calling you by," Fawful said. "Can I have calling of you..." He thought for a bit, then blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "...Blobby?"
The blob made an expression of clear annoyance. "It's better than nothing, I guess."
"So how are you getting into the form that is...this?"
"That's a complicated tale, made even more complicated by my present condition," Blobby sighed. "Let's just say there was an...artifact of great power, and I...came into possession of this artifact and attempted to use it for...well, for purposes that I can't convey properly. Things went wrong and the artifact was destroyed. I had become...attached to the artifact, to the point where my very self became scattered upon its destruction." Blobby paused with bemusement. "I'm honestly surprised I was able to say as much of that as I did."
Fawful felt a pit forming in his stomach. From what he could gather forced vagueness of everything, Blobby's situation wasn't that different from his own. After all, when he had "come back" two years ago, his body wasn't complete until spending a week or so fused with Luigi, and even after they'd split he wasn't entirely whole until Professor E. Gadd had made him drink that weird concoction made from power stars. He had also been attached to an artifact of great power, and if what Blobby was trying to describe was anything like the Dark Star, something sinister might be involved in this. Whether this meant anything for Blobby's motivations, however...
"Is this a bit too much to take in for you?" Blobby asked. Apparently the time Fawful had been ruminating over this was long enough for him to notice and find it appropriate to acknowledge.
"No, it's just..." Fawful averted his eyes, though he doubted it would be easily seen through his thick glasses. "I have sympathy. A situation of much similarity had happening to Fawful."
"Care to elaborate?" Blobby asked. His face was neutral, but his tone made his intrigue all too clear.
Fawful shook his head. "It has giving the discomfort of bad tacos," he said.
Blobby shrugged. "Fair enough," he said nonchalantly. "I can respect that, as well as your sense of wordplay."
"I have doubt that you are giving the lecture of your life that is passed just for the sympathy garnering," Fawful said. "What is it you are wanting from me?"
"Nothing gets past you, does it? Like an officer of the law passing by a sign proclaiming free donuts." Blobby chuckled. "Yes, there is something that I would like you to do for me, if you are so inclined. You see, I don't believe the artifact was completely destroyed. The other pieces of it, the rest of my essence...I can feel them. If they are not all nearby just yet, I have the strongest of sensations that they will be in this general vicinity soon. So, what say you to aiding me in quite literally picking up the pieces of my life?"
"I...I am not knowing," Fawful said.
"Lord Fawful, I must advise against this," the headgear, which had been quiet up to this point, suddenly interjected. "It would be unwise to ally with a mysterious entity that cannot—or perhaps will not—give us certain pieces of crucial information."
"Let me attempt to sweeten the deal," Blobby said. "If I were to regain the rest of myself, I would have a great deal of power at my disposal. And I certainly am not such a fool as to expect a stranger, of whom I only know their name and bizarre pattern of speech, to aid me in such a monumental effort pro bono. I could use my regained power to do something for you in return. Nearly anything."
Nearly anything... Those words lingered in Fawful's mind. Nearly anything... Truth be told, he wasn't feeling up to attempting kingdom conquering again for a while, but still... Nearly anything... There was something he would do nearly anything for himself. Nearly anything... Something that couldn't yet be done via conventional means.
"Did your power...have the ability of bringing people back from the edge of death?"
"Ooh, that's a tough question," Blobby said. "Not entirely sure if it were ever outside of my abilities, but I never tried resurrection sooo..."
"He is not having death in completion!" Fawful insisted. "It is being more like a coma of aggressive stubbornness."
"Hmm, well then, perhaps if I were back at my full strength..."
"I cannot believe you are seriously considering listening to this bizarre interloper, Lord Fawful," the headgear said. However, its words came too late as Fawful stuck his finger out for Blobby's small hand to shake. The deal was made. Somehow the oozing substance both making up and coming from Blobby didn't burn this time.
"Excellent," Blobby said with a smile. "You have no idea how grateful I am, honestly."
The headgear pulled Fawful aside and said softly, "That thing clearly has an ulterior motive. This was not the smartest of your decisions."
"I have knowledge of this, and also desperation," Fawful admitted.
"Did you not tell me the stone that he is attached to once tried to kill someone?"
"I did," Fawful said, trying not to think to hard about what it had nearly done to the bean that had kidnapped him in Beanbean Castle Town. "But he is being of agreeable standing, and if there is to be any of the nefarious actions I can just be throwing him away before things have worsening. Right?"
AN: ooooooOOOOOOHHH we're BACK kids! I thought I'd give a bigger time gap between this story and the previous one as a way to acknowledge just how damn loooong it took me. Nowhere near as long as Nintendo High has been and still is taking me, but at least that's somewhat justified because it's meant to be a long runner. Now if only I could push through its ongoing hiatus by learning how the hell to write a high school basketball game.
I started writing this chapter before Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions came out, and as you can probably guess, new official Fawful content gave me a boost towards the drive to work on my bean saga. If anyone wants to design appearances for Shelby or Fahl T., feel free to throw 'em at me on deviantART (PuppyLuver) or Tumblr (PuppyLuver256) 'cuz I'd really like to see 'em. Also just for random reference fun, my mental map of the apartment Fawful's living in is based on my old college apartment, which was in Summerwood On Towne Line in Indianapolis, Indiana. I doubt the chances are high enough for anyone who lives or has lived there to also come across this, but if you've seen in those apartments that's what I'm going for. It's probably replicated elsewhere. I think the Columbia apartment in StephenVlog is similar, I got a sense of déjà vu while they were living there...
If you can guess who Blobby is before I reveal his true identity, you win awesome points. And I guess so do I for being able to write a character in a recognizable way? Who knows.
—Jess aka PuppyLuver256