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  -Part 1 :: [01.07.03]
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  -Part 6 :: [09.26.04]
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  -Part 9 :: [06.04.09]
  -Part 10 :: [07.01.12]
  -Part 11 :: [02.17.13]
  -Part 12 :: [10.26.13]
  -Part 13 :: [08.06.14]

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"Piglet wonders if Pooh just goes cavalierly floating off to rob the honeycombs if the bees won't be angry and perhaps sting him to death, or even pop his balloon and make us start this entire damned thing over again. But surely that won't happen, since Pooh realizes that he's got Junior, and Junior can keep all those nasty bees away with his massive Keyblade! Yeah, Pooh-bear? Better pack an Epi-pen, that's all I'm saying."
     -Kelly, Kingdom Hearts Part 12

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Suikoden III : Part 12
By Sam
Posted 10.26.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
Extra! Extra! Frodo chokes on Samwise's balls!
The next morning, Frodo first gets some long overdue inventory management out of the way, now that Muto is at his post and not rooting around under Frodo's bed for the ball he kicked under there. His pantry well organized for whoever the next castle master is, he walks outside to the entrance, where several of his well-meaning but idiotic friends are trying to keep a retinue of Zexen knights from entering with Babyface Official. Cogs, Samwise, and Juan are for some reason acting like this official Zexen presence is some kind of surprise, and Frodo one-ups their naiveté by asking, "What's the matter?" Turns out that Buttfuck Castle is under siege, which is truly tragic because, per Juan, "I was going out on my morning walk and these soldiers stopped me and turned me away. I can't believe it." Not Juan's morning constitutional! Do these monsters have no shred of humanity?

Frodo demands of BO, "What is the meaning of this?" and BO is like, "Do something." Frodo maintains that they have committed no crimes against Zexen, which is of course the perfect cue for Hugo and company to roll up fresh from their brunch at the inn. BO points at them and says, "There! THAT is the problem." One of the knights dishes some exposition about Hugo and his outstanding arrest warrant, leading Hugo to snarl, "What?! My arrest?" Did he think all those knights were chasing him through Ass Castle just to find out the secret to his perfect frosted tips? This kid. Sweet Frodo assumes the Zexens are making stuff up about this person he just met and knows nothing about, and asks BO, "Did you really come all this way just to insult my guests, sir?" No, he came all this way to put a lien on Buttfuck Castle and fire your tiny ass. Duh. BO warns him, the music doing all the work of actually being menacing since he has that face of his working against him, "Think very carefully before you decide to give shelter to an enemy of Zexen." Frodo just mutters with a Charlie Brown level of enthusiasm, "What a morning." Mondays, dude.

Back at the manor, Martha is in the middle of telling the others, "Never mind new shops--we old ones can't even carry on with business anymore." Not only did she have adequate time to bitch about this yesterday, when it was news, but she actually thinks that is the most pressing issue right now, not this whole "under siege for harboring enemies of the state" problem. Of course she does. Everyone is ganging up on Cogs because this is totally his fault, and Cogs is trying to get them to calm down, and Frodo is promising to come up with a solution he does not have, when Hugo and the others saunter over, their faces plastered with vacant smiles like always. "What's everyone gathered around for?" Sarge asks. If Frodo and gang were smart, they'd be discussing their plan to dissolve sleeping pills into Hugo's lunchtime soup and deliver him to BO in exchange for keeping the castle open. Instead, Cogs looks at the ground and tells them, "Um, I'm very sorry about this, but maybe it's best if you left and went with [Babyface Official], and..." They hadn't thought of that! Well, goodbye!

Frodo is not happy with his butler being so rude to their guests, and is going to take it out of his hide with Gandalf's staff later. "I'm sorry," he tells Hugo. "Rest assured I would never ask you to do such a thing." Frodo Baggins, man of action! He's not going to actively ask anyone to do anything! That's just too much excitement for one day. The scene is interrupted by a black screen, after which Hugo and pals are shown walking away and Samwise is lamenting, "Um...I'm afraid they got cross. They've come all this way to see us, and..." Wait, what? This wasn't a fucking social call. Weirder, Juan adds, "They may be visitors. But if they're just here to spy on us, that's different." Spy on them for whom? How much more paranoid can they all be, especially when the worst-case scenario is already upon them? These idiots are in the weeds.

And they're about to get even more paranoid, because when Frodo heads aimlessly down the stairs again to, I assume, pace until an idea strikes him like a bolt of lightning, he comes across two more guests who have magically appeared since the castle went under siege. Spies! Burn them! One of them is clearly Apple, 15 years removed from whining at Shu and failing spectacularly at simple math. The other is a darling redhead teenager with a permanent, incredibly stoned smirk. I am emotionally cheating on Jailbait right now, or would be if he weren't fictional and super gay. "Hey, you're [Frodo], the master of this castle, right?" asks my new boyfriend. Frodo, still on tenterhooks, replies, "Maybe. Who's asking?" He should have thought of that when BO asked earlier. My new boyfriend introduces himself as Caesar. "And this one's..." he adds, gesturing at Apple, who snaps, "'This one?' How rude! I'm Apple." Pleasant as ever, I see. I'm just relieved that she's nagging Caesar like he's her kid, because if they were an item I was going to have to throw up.

Caesar awesomely dismisses Apple's outrage with a handwave and gets down to business: "We're following rumors, so we snuck in and hid," he tells Frodo. Okay, actually, that answers nothing. "But with all this hubbub happening, we couldn't resist taking a peek outside." But at Frodo's needling, he quickly identifies the rumor in question, "That the 'Fire Bringer' are hiding here. Were those other guys trying to confirm the same rumor?" Should have known. The Fire Bringer sure do have questionable taste if they're hiding out in this dump. Who would want this to be their army headquarters? Obviously no one, ever.

Frodo's story, in minimum.

Even if they were hiding here, it's not like Frodo would have a fucking clue, and he tells them so. "You probably wouldn't tell us if you did," Caesar says, thoroughly misunderstanding everything about Frodo in one simple statement. "Perhaps you started the rumor to distract the Zexens. Or to scare people like us away." This is so wrong it's embarrassing. Next Caesar is going to get into his top five clickbait crackpot theories on the Breaking Bad finale. Walt Jr. eats a ricin pancake!

"I doubt he considers us a threat," Apple tells her babysitting charge, reasonably. Caesar acknowledges she's right, but adds with a frown, "Your analysis is devoid of any emotion. I don't think like that." Apple lectures him, "A good strategist should operate that way." Oh Christ, Apple is his teacher? His strategy teacher? That's like Lady Chris teaching someone to smile. But back to Frodo: Caesar offers, "Let us help you out, boy," even though he's only a year older than his new hobbit friend. "We're on your side. We're here to give you a hand." That is straight-up mafia talk and I wonder if Frodo should not trust this attractive ginger and his deeply obnoxious home school instructor. But Caesar insists that he has some kind of plan that will benefit everyone. "Let's meet in the courtyard," he says. "When all's ready, we'll leave the rest to you. Don't fret." May as well tell him not to breathe.

I shouldn't complain, because he's cute, but he also is accompanied by Apple, so fuck it: did Frodo, with his situation at its most dire, really have a boy genius strategist--spoiler alert, a goddamn Silverberg, for that matter--fall out of the fucking sky? We have as much explanation as we're ever going to get for how Caesar and Apple got here. The game designers basically just went, "Oh, you don't have one of those brainy fuckers who comes up with all the plans yet! Here you go!" Again, he has red hair so this is a mild complaint on my part.

Frodo returns to his serfs with Caesar and Apple hot on his heels, ready to lay out their scheme, which Samwise has been led to believe is "infallible." That's a bad sign. Juan wonders if they can trust this deus ex tactician, but Caesar tells him, again awesomely, "You don't have to trust us. But if you have a better idea, then let's hear it." Juan just goes "......" because nobody at this castle is capable of coming up with plans and carrying them out--if they could do that, they wouldn't live here. With that settled, Caesar boils down their dilemma: "You don't want to hand over the kid, but you also don't want to give up the castle." And since these people are too starvation-weakened and also lame to put up a real fight, they only have one option: "Get rid of their reason for being here. Get the kid away from the castle. If he's what they want, why would they remain?" Because they have additional reasons, namely financial ones, to be bugs up Frodo's ass? Just a reminder.

Pulling out doesn't work!

Cogs thinks this is "too easy to work," like Hugo could just walk out the front gate. The hard part is getting him out, dumbass. Caesar also gives him a reality check on all those knights out there: "Those guys may be knights, but they're really nothing more than a frontier patrol unit and a few guards under Council control. That wouldn't be enough to lay siege to this castle, but rest assured, the main unit will follow soon." I'm now picturing the Zexen knights awkwardly marching crotch-first toward Buttfuck Castle, their erect units stick out in front of them like dowsing rods. Anyway, the point is that if they can get Hugo out now as opposed to later, they won't have to worry about all those imposing units headed their way. Caesar says he and Apple will escort Hugo and his party to the Grasslands themselves, no doubt because he's already sick of this cobweb-ridden foreclosure lot.

A black screen closes in just as Caesar is about to explain the details of the plan and I worry I'm going to be left in the dark--worry may be a strong word--but the scene returns before he's said anything more. Whatever. This game has a lot of gratuitous black screens. First, Caesar says, they need to quickly repair as many of the gaping vagina holes in the wall and manor as possible. Next, he tells Samwise to "set up straw dummies up by that gate." Samwise looks like she's never received such an exciting order in her entire life, and does not question for one millisecond how crazy it is. "And then there's the butler," Caesar goes on, turning to Cogs. "I need you to write something out." Cogs frets, "I hope it won't land me in prison! I'd be currency!" but Caesar says all he needs is for him to temporarily assume the role of castle master. Ooh! Cogs and Frodo do this role play swap on a nightly basis, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Well, this plan is doomed.

Finally, Caesar addresses Juan, who is less than keen on taking orders from anyone, because he is an asshole a free spirit. The assurance that this role is of vital importance doesn't sway him either, so Apple saunters up to him, all seductive-like--ew--and asks, "Do you want to lose the castle?" Juan faces her and admits that he does not. Apple turns up her "charm" some more, telling him he should be proud to be so important and virile or whatever, and he finally relents. Am I to believe that Juan would be lured out of his deep apathy for being at all helpful or pleasant by the vaguest hint of Apple's vagina? No. No, I must be wrong. That simply cannot be.

Caesar doesn't actually bother telling Juan what he has to do, and instead turns back to Frodo, who is for some ridiculous reason "in charge" of whatever the hell it is they're doing. In the meantime, Caesar and Apple return to the inn and the room they probably didn't pay for. "What a drag," Juan whines as they walk away, and I imagine he would say that even if his assignment was "sleep on the ground and be an oblivious jackass."

I'm in control of Frodo again, so he makes the rounds to see how everyone is doing at their appointed tasks. At the entrance, Samwise is having a grand old time setting up the straw dummies. Since they are in orange "livery" like Samwise's and like that of the Zexens, and they are standing above the walls to look like sentries, it's safe to assume their purpose is to make the Zexens think a bunch of their own military support arrived here by airlift overnight. Makes sense.

'Sam, don't be rude, Martha is right there.'

Frodo next finds Martha, Piccolo, and Muto on the first floor of the manor, staring at one of the gaping holes in the wall. Unlike Sam they're not actually doing anything, just gawking and, in Martha's case, being pessimistic that they can complete their task or that it will do any good. Well, fuck them. Upstairs, Cogs is lurking behind some bookshelves with Lurch, who is trying and failing to find some documents that Cogs needs to write one stupid letter. Leave it to Cogsworth to make his relatively simple task way more complicated than it needs to be.

All our hero can do now is go to bed and hope he can sleep, even with this next-level heartburn he's had ever since he walked into Iksay. Cogsworth is waiting in his room with a hot towel and a bottle of Nyquil, one of Frodo's preferred ways to wind down after a long day. A black screen glosses over Cogs massaging Frodo's gross hairy Hobbit feet and skips to nighttime. Frodo and Cogs have a conversation so pointless that I am refusing out of principle to quote a single part of it, and Cogs leaves Frodo to his restless night of worrying at all the stuff he should be doing but can't because he's useless and devoid of talent or skill.

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