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Chapter 8: Maximilian

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

Now that the cave was safe, Toad and Luigi decided to do some exploring. Toad stayed by the dead troll and searched for anything worthwhile. Luigi peered into the back room to discover the troll's sleeping quarter. Next to his makeshift bed, Luigi found a pile of bones, blood-stained clothes, and valuables. These must be the remains of other explorers the troll came across up on this terrible mountain. Poor guys...

"Hey Toad, come see what I found!" Luigi called out to his partner.

"I found a few things here, too!" Toad called back. Luigi returned to the main room to find Toad attempting to wear a large, dire wolf hide. Realizing he was absolutely too small for the monster's clothing, he tossed it aside and reached for the troll's belt. "He has this pouch full of round rocks, for some reason."

"I know why he has those," murmured the plumber, recalling the pile of adventurer's bones in the other room. "He used those to throw at other people that were climbing on the mountain."

"He wont be doing that any more!" said Toad, as he reached for the troll's ring. It was too large for Toad's fingers, but he slipped it on anyway. As soon as his finger was in position, the ring began to shrink until it fit snugly on the halfling's finger. "Woah," whispered Toad.

"Are you ok?" asked Luigi.

"Yeah," he replied with a smile. As soon as the ring was in place, a wonderful warmth began to overtake Toad. He looked around to see if he had stepped too close to the fire, but no, he was safe. The ring just helped him stay warm. He had an idea.

Running toward the entrance of the cave, Toad threw off his fur coat and stood in the snow. "Check it out! I'm totally warm!" Sure enough, the snow melted ever so slightly around his feet and the flakes disappeared just before touching Toad's nose.

"What did you find?" Toad asked, walking in from the storm.

"Come see," came the response, as Luigi led them to the back room. In the pile, they were able to recover 60 gold pieces (which they split evenly), a Mace of Smiting (which Toad took immediately), and a Star Belt. Luigi had never heard of this magical item, but Toad did. He explained that when one touches the star buckle, the wearer becomes almost invincible for 5 seconds. It's very powerful, but can only be used once a day. Clearly, it wasn't enough to save the last owner. Luigi put it on hoping he'd have better luck.

After a good, but uncomfortable night's sleep, the two set out into the snowy storm. They moved faster now that they were able to rest, especially Toad, who could travel without a coat now. After a few hours, they came to a large clearing with small hills. As they began to walk between them, Luigi noticed a small blue dome pop out from behind a snow dune, then duck down again. He paused and looked around, noticing other blue domes rise then disappear. He grabbed Toad's arm and immediately started pulling them toward the first dune.

"W-what's going on!?" Toad exclaimed while being dragged through the snow.

"There's another monster here we have to kill!" answered Luigi, pulling out his wrench.

"Then why are you dragging me toward it!?"

At that moment, the domes appeared again and started bobbing out around the dunes. The heroes braced themselves, ready to fight the terrible beasts. But instead, four blue penguins waddled into view, surrounding the pair. They began squawking and chirping in a language Luigi and Toad did not understand. The largest of the penguins, who had long grey feathers growing from his forehead, stepped forward. "Greetings, adventurers."

"Woah, you speak Common?" asked Toad.

"I do. My name is Maximilian. You have traveled a long distance."

"Yes, Maximilian," said Luigi, "we are looking for the Wendigo flower. I am Luigi and this is Toad."

"Hmm," pondered the penguin, "I believed the flower to only be a legend."

"No, it's real. We're using this to find-" but Luigi was cut off by the sound of frantic squawking. He turned to see a fifth penguin waddle hurriedly toward Maximilian. The two exchanged chirps for a while before the leader turned toward Luigi and Toad.

"I'm sorry," he started, "but her daughter seems to have gone missing. She needs us to help find her. Would you be willing to help us?"

Luigi almost passed out right there on the snow. Another side-quest?! "Yes," he said reluctantly, "We'll help find her."

The penguins and the heroes split up to search for her. It wasn't long before Toad and Luigi could heard the caw of a baby penguin by the side of a cliff. The two looked over to find the little penguin on a small ledge with two hawks circling her, trying to peck and claw at their afternoon snack.

Luigi threw a wrench at the first hawk, but it missed so wildly it, the hawks didn't even notice. Toad was able to draw their attention with a bolt from his crossbow. The two hawks turned to fight the adventurers but soon realized they were outmatched. Between Toad's new Mace of Smiting and Luigi's skill with a plunger, the birds of prey were killed quickly. Unfortunately, not before a stray wrench clipped the baby penguin's wing.

Luigi slid down to the baby penguin, but she was too afraid of Luigi (and his wrenches) to go with him. Toad decided to climb down himself.

"Luigi, I'll stay with the kid. You go get Maximilian and the rest of the penguins."

Grumbling to himself, Luigi agreed.

A few minutes later, all the penguins were reunited, and a tearful mother was embracing her newly found baby. Luigi and Toad couldn't understand their penguin language, but could guess there were a lot of "thanks" being passed around.

Maximilian turned to Luigi and Toad. "Our young ones mean much to us. We care for them more than anything else. And so, our eggs are extremely valuable. However," he waddled to a nearby dune and dug into it's side. Pulling a large egg from the center, he brought it toward the heroes. "This egg was found by our family. We do not believe it is a penguin egg because it has not hatched in our cold weather. As I said, eggs are extremely valuable to us. Perhaps this egg will be valuable to you."

Maximilian held out his flippers and presented the large egg to Luigi. The plumber's eyes widened. The egg was as large as Luigi's head and covered in green spots, the same color as Luigi's shirt and hat. As he gently packed the egg into his pack, he realized he had no idea what could be in the egg, but he could tell it was going to be something amazing.

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