I guess it's time for our weekly(?) installment of Labyrinth of Andersen. I admit we're having a hard time being excited about this game lately...or did I already admit it last time? Anyway, I think I figured out the problem. Not one but three of the characters' main personality trait is that they're not very emotional. In the case of Lune/Rune, he got slightly more emotional when he went to visit his family, and with the other two characters, there was a sidekick or something, but who cares about the sidekick? Oh well. Anyway,
let's talk about the Dragon Knight.
We find out later in his story that he's not very emotional because he had a traumatic experience in his past that made him lock up his feelings. He's still a pretty nice guy, and he's not deadpan or anything, just very one-note. I like him as a person, but I think maybe this story could have used a bigger supporting cast. All we had for the majority of it was his dragon Toulouse, who is definitely more emotional than the Dragon Knight, but is also pretty one-note--his main emotion is "stop bugging me!" (you have to say it in a whiny kid voice).
But anyway, the Dragon Knight's real story doesn't start until you take Lars down his first sad story--the one where he and Thumbelina go off to fight the Nude King alone, and then the Black Knight kills Thumbelina and Lars goes berserk and uses his spooky black matches. If anyone remembers that story, they'll remember that Thumbelina was rescued by the Dragon Knight, and she was in this version, too! Only this time, you get to see things from his perspective when he shows up and sees what all happened, and he has a long fight with the Nude King and manages to kill him because Freya came and possessed Thumbelina and pulled Loki out of the Nude King just long enough for the Dragon Knight to kill them both.
The difference now is that instead of the Dragon Knight taking Thumbelina and Lars to the Valley of the Dragons, Thumbelina wakes up and sees what happened to Lars while they're still at the castle. She's determined to help him, so she removes the curse from Lars by taking it onto herself, and that's where the real story begins.
There's a lot of meandering, but basically Thumbelina is plagued by nightmares until the Dragon Knight, whose real name is Sirius, takes her to the sacred spring in the Valley of the Dragons...where she dies. It was supposed to cleanse her of the curse, but the pain from the curse had already worn her out too much, so she died. (Athena points out that she was only mostly dead, but her body had gone all translucent and Sirius couldn't touch her anymore.) We also find out that Sirius hated the sacred spring place, because that's where the greatest tragedy of his life happened.
*cue the flashback music*
Sirius was always a kind, sensitive lad, easily moved to tears. His whole village was dedicated to the martial arts because it was their job to defend the giant reptilian creatures that could breathe fire and pretty much wipe out any human village without any help. But they were actually supposed to defend the dragons from each other, so in that vein, it actually makes sense. But Sirius was such a gentle boy, he was never a big fan of the family trade.
On day, he heard a voice coming from a cave deep in the mountains--a cave he was told never to enter! *gasp!* He entered anyway, which is a little surprising, because sensitive kids like that tend to do as they're told, but the point is, he met an old blind dragon and they became best friends. The dragon was stuck in the cave because he was cursed with darkness, but he could still see his memories of all the beautiful places he visited before he was cursed, and he told Sirius all about them. Eventually, Lind (the dragon) grew weaker, and Sirius was desperate to help him. The village elder said sure, we can give you some medicine for him, but you have to train yourself into a decent dragon knight first. Okay, fine, so that's what Sirius did, until one day he was the best dragon knight in the village! And the village elder said, "Psych! It's too late for him. You have to kill him." And Sirius understood that what the village elder said was true, and Lind already knew this was going to happen and he welcomed it as part of the circle of life or something, and thus Sirius faced the greatest tragedy of his life. After that, he sealed away all his tears and was always the first to volunteer when another dragon was cursed to the point of needing to be put out of his misery. (Apparently the most common killer of dragons in this world is darkness curses. You'd think they'd start investing in preventative measures.)
Anyway, now Thumbelina is almost dead, but she has taught Sirius what it really means to protect your friends--sometimes you have to walk into danger yourself. Fortunately, his old dragon friend had told him about the valley of the dead, or whatever it was called, so he knew exactly where to go to bargain for Thumbelina's soul. (Meanwhile, unrelatedly, we learn that Toulouse has a humanoid form, which seems to exist purely for fan service.) So that's where he went, and the story is pretty much Orpheus and Eurydice from there, with a touch of a really neat Hans Christian Andersen story in which a mother goes to save her recently departed child. But only if you get his sad ending.
So Sirius goes to the underworld and finds Thumbelina, then they go to see Hel to ask permission for her to leave. Hel says sure why not, Freya would kill me if I didn't let her go, but you can't look back until you get out. You can guess that the sad ending involves looking back. We wanted to get it out of the way, but it was hard, because it was so annoying. Well, the first time they give you the option, it's annoying, because Thumbelina is on her way out, but then she hears Lars behind her! What! But we already know he's alive we left him with Lune when we stopped by the Witch of the Mist when we were doing all that meandering. And of course then Lune and the Ugly Duckling and the Ice Princess and the Little Mermaid all try to get her to turn around, and then the Dragon Knight tries, too, and we're like, okay now let's not get silly--the Dragon Knight is right there in front of her.
But we wanted to get the sad ending out of the way, so we looked back anyway. Later we found out that there's a much less annoying version of this, because if you stay strong through all Thumbelina's friends talking to her, the next voice she hears is her mother's. You know, her mother, who died a rather violent death in the first chapter. So it's less annoying to look back at her, which we had to do even though we already got the sad ending, because we figured that's where the missing stills were, and sure enough they were. Because when she looks back to see her mother, she sees that her mother doesn't have a face! And she gets a horrified look on her own face, and then is sucked into the abyss, leading into the sad ending.
It starts with Thumbelina having a lovely never-ending dream of traveling with her friends, and meanwhile the Dragon Knight is devastated to see her covered in the black thorns and gray roses of the underworld. He asks Hel if there's anything he can do, and she takes him to the greenhouse of life (this is from that neat Andersen story) and tells him that each flower represents a human life, and look, here's Thumbelina's--see how it's almost dead? All he has to do is cut down a different flower--any flower (ideally with a decent amount of life in it)--and put it over Thumbelina's. He immediately finds his own flower and sacrifices his life for hers. Awwwwwwwwww! See, I told you he was a nice guy. (For the curious, her flower was a tulip, and his was a white lily.) And he sends Thumbelina back with Toulouse and they lived sadly ever after.
As for the good ending, it's pretty much what you'd expect. They make it out of the underworld safe and sound, and Sirius and Thumbelina and Toulouse all go back to the Valley of the Dragons where she becomes Doctor Thumbelina: Dragon Medicine Woman. Meanwhile, we find out that it was actually Lind who bargained with Hel to let Thumbelina leave, offering his own soul into Hel's possession to save his old friend's beloved. And double bonus, Sirius would forget all about him. So it was kind of a bittersweet ending, especially since when they brought Thumbelina's spirit back to her body, they told her she was basically dreaming this whole time, and she was so worried that she was going to forget everything when she woke up. And she did. So there was a lot of forgetting going on, but the point is, they lived happily ever after with all their little dragons.
Today I'm thankful for getting to buy lots of chocolate at the store today, getting to watch five episode of Your Lie in April last night (I don't know if I'm just biased, but I feel like the music scenes are more dramatic in the manga, despite the lack of audible music; maybe it's just artistic differences? (Athena says a big part of has to do with familiarity with the music--if you don't know what the piece is supposed
to sound like, why would you care when Kaori adds her own twist? How would you know?)), one of the kittens discovering the joy of sitting on top of the fence, getting all the bills paid, and the rain we got last night.