The desert town was just as he imagined it to be, having seen plenty concepts of them from movies and media in his own world. Walls of clay and solid stone, carpets covering doorways to keep the heat out and the shade inside, various travellers with glinting eyes beneath loosely-wrapped clothes. The sand was somehow cooler within the town's boundaries than outside in the desert expanse.
Somehow James could smell the sea nearby, a slight tint of salt in the air that made him slightly nauseous. Koopin merely breathed in the arid air with a humble pride, waving to passersby who waved back with familiarity.
"Welcome to Dusty Dunes," he said with pride. "My home."
"Huh...you really don't seem like the kind of guy who came from the desert."
"Mmmmno...then again I never knew anyone who came from a desert."
"Well my shell was kind of a clue, I mean it's less green than a regular koopa's cuz of the sun and heat, dried out more."
James had not noticed it often, but Koopin's shell was somewhat different in colour as being of a paler green, like that of a dried leaf. A light of recognition came to him as he remembered thinking such.
"Hehehe, lemme show ya around. I gotta stop at my parents' place for a bit, I said I'd see 'em when I arrived."
"Oh sure sure, you can go do that, I'll explore a li'l on my own."
"No no not yet, lemme show ya around first okay?!"
Letting the koopa guide him through the town, James chuckled with intrigue at the bazaar and the various homes all around him. Koopin was right in that a lot of trade passed through the desert for some reason, from fish to fruit, from carpets to machines, from hammers to wrenches. He could see them all right here between pale rectangular stone homes, carpeted doorways and the shadows of parapets from the beating sun above.
One particular stall he noted had one interesting feature. The product was merely fruit, but the vendor intrigued him all the more, a diminutive red-cloaked figure with a white mask of three holes. James thought of bowling balls briefly as he asked his guide:
"No no no, the guy selling, what is he?"
"Oh, that's a Shy Guy!"
"...he doesn't look shy."
"No that's what they're called."
"Just a name," said the koopa with a shrug, "they're an interesting race, though to see one out here selling stuff is pretty rare. He must be from the islands."
"How can you tell?"
"Well Shy Guys tend to be from the tropical regions...that and he has watermelons, which are also from the islands."
James cautiously walked over, but then immediately backed away at the sight of what he suspected were limes eyeing him from one corner of the stall. The shy guy vendor peered up with curiosity, his voice clipped yet polite.
"Hello sir, would you like to buy some fruit?"
"Uhhh no thanks I uh, say that's a pretty awesome watermelon."
"You like it? From Yoshi's Island itself, top quality, well-seeded, fun to share with friends!"
"Wow uh, h-how much is it?"
"THIRTY!? For FRUIT?!"
"It's very special fruit sir! The favourite fruit of the Yoshis themselves!"
"Right...um, I don't think I have the money for it...or the space, sorry."
"Don't worry, tell your friends though!"
"I will, thanks."
Quickly leaving before he acknowledged anything lime-like upon the stand, he rejoined Koopin's side as he was guided around his home. Koopin spoke at length about the deep mysteries of the Dry Dry Desert, the many ruins it was said to contain including the one guarded by the legendary Moustafa, until Mario came to seek it out as part of his quest. James listened with mild fascination, occasionally ducking into doorways to keep within the shade.
Eventually, things became a little more exciting once an older male voice cried out from down the street.
Koopin hurried off at the sound of the voice, a sudden fluster stirring up in him as James was left on his own. He waited to see any potential danger, quickly scanning out the aforementioned thief. A shifty blue-clothed character with a face as white as a hockey mask, his beady eyes grinning while swinging a sack over his shoulder as he scarpered down the street. The raptor quickly came out of the shade to try and tackle him.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!"
Unexpectedly, the thief swung out his sack to ward the raptor off, but he dodged back before coming in to bullrush the burglar. He was pushed back by James, but he dug his shoes into the sand and grinned with a sudden shoulder charge, slamming FG back with surprising swiftness.
He stumbled backwards into a display stand of hammers at the side of the sandy street, the owner of said stall being a black-helmeted koopa who hurried away from the impending chaos. Despite slamming against the stall, he managed to dodge the deadly rain of black-topped hammers that dared to fall onto his head, rolling away as they clonked and buried themselves into the soft earth. Regaining his composure, he quickly grabbed two wooden sticks from the stall.
He then noticed that they were extremely similar in design to the wooden sticks he used in his sword training, perhaps even tougher than them. He didn't think why they were on a stall for hammers, but an idea came to him, along with a smirk as he readily stepped out in front of the would-be bandit.
"Outta mah way weirdo!" threatened the thief.
The raptor raised one wooden stick horizontally, issuing a challenge as he grinned.
"You better go back the way you came or else I'm gonna beat your li'l white face black and blue."
"HAH, try me!"
The moment the thief tried to dodge to one side, James quickly swung to his side and smacked three whacks across the face. The sticks whapped across the thief;s white complexion to leave a small bruise, as he tried to swing and kick out at the raptor. He blocked him however by jumping back, swinging down one of the sticks with an overhead swing, smashing the vagrant's knee as he buckled with a yell.
As the bandit tried to get up, James tried to knock him down once more with a thrusting jab to the stomach, but the thief backed off and blocked his body with the sack. Swinging it out once more, James dodged the heavy bag before whacking the thief hard with both sticks. One stick straight down onto the shoulder, the other stick knocking down the elbow of the same arm. With a furious throbbing pain bruising his arm, the bandit dropped his sack, but was not out yet.
In an effort to dissuade his attacker, he threw a flurry of dust into James' face. But the raptor was aware of such dirty tactics and merely swung to the side, slamming his sticks doublefold into the back of the bandit's head. The would-be thief crumpled and fell forwards, face buried into the hot sand. He struggled to get up to try and fight for his ill-gotten goods, readying his fists as he tried to punch out at FG.
But with his newfound weapons, he easily knocked down both fists like they were flies. When a punch came for him, he swung one stick horizontally before the other came vertically, a one-two doubleslam that, while did not break the bone, sent enough of a bruising agony to stop the thief trying to punch back. With both arms wounded, he stopped fighting and fell to his knees, turning away as the raptor approached.
"Now...I'll be taking that back if you don't mind."
"Hhhh...wh-who the heck are ya?!"
"I'm the FinalGamer...bitch. And I don't like seeing punks like you waltzing off scot-free. Now get out of here."
A little persuasion came from FG through the use of his sticks, another one-two swing to the face with the very tip of his sticks to slash rather than club. He added an extra kick to the stomach at the end for good measure, making sure the bandit would give in.
"GUUH! F-FINE! T-take your stupid fruit, I bet it tastes rotten anyway!"
"Whatever, now get the hell out of here."
"Y-you'll pay fer that! Whoever you are, I'm gonna get my buddies an' we'll mess you up!"
"FINALGAMER, remember the name!"
With a call-out to the thief, the raptor watched the bandit run from the town with empty pockets at hand, smiling as he looked inside the sack of goods that had been stolen. It was full of fruit and vegetables, strangely enough. As he carefully carried it over his shoulder, an old voice came to him from the shade.
The helmeted koopa gently peeked out from behind a barrel, his shell as black as a cannonball with a white lining around the rim.
"That wuz sum pretty good fightin' there youn'un but...can I have my handles back now?"
"You mean these things? The sticks?"
"Yeah...those are uh, hammer handles son. Normally they go with the hammer head an' such, I sell hammer parts."
"Huh...these make pretty damn good weapons on their own yanno."
"Huh, I bet, saw whut you did to that bandit, face like a grape."
"Hahaha...listen, how much for just the handles?"
"...um...well uh...fifteen coins each?"
"Sounds good to me, I'll take 'em."
"J-just the handles?!?"
"Uhhh...okay but, you sure you don't wanna use hammers?"
"Too heavy for me. Besides, two hard sticks like these make great weapons on their own, a lot faster to smack a couple of punks around."
"Well yeah, they're fire-hardened son, tough as nails an' near-impossible to break! I made 'em myself from scratch."
"Well you're a hell of a craftsman 'cause that bandit is gonna be feeling that for days."
"Hhhahaha, y-yeah! Okay then, thirty coins please."
The raptor paid up eagerly before placing the hammer handles into his satchel, pondering on how to later equip them in a more battle-ready manner.
Maybe I'll need another belt for these. I'm gonna enjoy having a second weapon to use. I mean, sometimes you just wanna beat a guy unconscious and you can't really do that with the murder-crazy scissors, right?
The old hammer bro waved out to FG.
"Why you puttin' 'em in yer satchel?"
"Well I can't carry them in my hand right?"
"Those are weapons youn'un, you can't carry 'em like money in yer purse!"
"Well, unless you got a belt to carry them in."
"Whut about that?"
He pointed towards James' back.
"Oh that's my main weapon."
"No no not that big ol' thing, the li'l strap above yer tail!"
James gently felt at the small of his back to feel a small strap, big enough to slide a short sword into and open at both ends. He had completely forgotten about that part of his belt and baldric.
"Huh, you're right! Thanks man!"
"No problem son!"
Gently taking out his newly-obtained hammer handles, James strapped them in to the small of his back, putting down the stolen sack to do so. He quickly tested pulling them out and putting them back in again, getting used to the motion of such. For now it felt good, as he soon saw Koopin running back up the street.
"James! James! Did you see a guy with a white face an' blue clothes pass by?!"
"I dunno, was he carrying this?"
He gently tapped at the sack. Koopin's eyes widened with disbelief, quickly opening the bag.
"...oh my gosh you got it back! You got it all back! What happened to him!?"
"I heard someone shout 'stop thief" and well, saw one shady guy running down the street with this sack. I uh...persuaded him to let it go."
"Let's just say his face is a little black and blue now."
"...oh...w-wow you...oh stars you have no idea how much I owe you now, thank you so much!"
Koopin quickly hugged James, much to his surprise as he patted his head nervously.
"Woah-ho now, people are watching."
"S-sorry just...come with me, I'll explain it better."
Taking the sack with him, James followed Koopin down the streets of Dusty Dunes towards the direction of the one who cried out thief. A grocery store just off the main street, with a shell-shaped sign above the door in lovingly-rendered pixellated texture. From a certain angle, it resembled a head of lettuce. Inside was a single middle-aged koopa.
His shell had the same pale-green as Koopin's, but with a pair of bifocals balanced neatly upon his wrinkled beak. Currently he looked rather depressed, which only further added to the furrows of his brow. The older koopa asked Koopin with a sombre tone:
"Didya find 'im?"
"Not just that," replied Koopin, "I got a surprise for ya!"
James walked forwards with the stolen sack, carefully opening it to reveal the fruits inside, as well as vegetables. The older koopa's face lit up with both surprise and joy as he looked up at the taller raptor.
"AH! You...you got them back! My stock! B-but how?!"
"I saw him coming up the street," said James, "and I had a li'l fight with him, nothing big. He was just a punk."
"Oh sir, you have no idea how thankful I am to you for getting my stock back, thank you sir! Koopin, you should thank him too!"
"I already did dad."
"Wait, dad?" asked James.
Koopin gently walked behind the counter and put an arm around the joyful koopa.
"James, this is my dad, Shelldon. Dad, this is my friend James. He's from far away and I'm giving him a li'l tour of the Mushroom Kingdom."
"Ahhh I see."
Shelldon offered a hand for James to shake, which he did gladly.
"Shelldon Kennidon, owner of Kennidon's Groceries."
"James Campbell, owner of...things."
"Hahaha, you're quite a stranger aren't you?"
"Yeah I can tell I stick out pretty easily here."
"Well, thank you very much again for bringing back my stock. That little thief distracted me and swiped a quarter of my stock before I even turned around!"
"You really need to hire some security dad," said Koopin cautiously, "I know you wanna look like a cute li'l store but that attracts bandits too."
"I know son, I know...I hope he wasn't any trouble."
"Pfft nah," shrugged James, "he's just a punk, he barely even hit me. But glad I could get your stuff back sir."
"No problem at all. Will you be staying awhile Koopin?"
"Course I will!" piped up Koopin. "You don't mind if I stay with my parents a li'l right James? The Toad House is just down the roa-"
"Ah-ah, Toad House? Why not invite him?!"
"Wha...you wanna invite James?"
"Why not?! He got back my stock, it's the very least I could do to repay you."
"Oh no no please," declined FG, "it's cool, I don't wanna like, interrupt your family time together, I'm fine at an inn."
"No no, I insist. We would love to have such a kind stranger to come dine with us, moreso if he is a friend of my son."
"Well...Koopin, what do you think?"
"Iiii think it's a great idea!" said Koopin. "I mean, if neither of you got a problem with it and neither does mom then sure!"
"Alright then," said Shelldon, "why don't you go to the house and tell your mother?"
"Alrighty dad, you sure you're okay here?"
"Oh I'll be fine, don't worry, it's nearly closing time anyway, I'll see you soon."
James and Koopin left the grocery store, heading towards one of the wider backstreets towards presumably Koopin's home. The raptor smiled at the small good deed he had done.
"Your dad's a nice guy."
"You sure it's okay I stay over for dinner?"
"Dad's fine with it, and well, it'd be great if you came over, we can tell you all about this place and have ya learn more about everything!"
"Haha, right...but are YOU okay with it?"
"Well...I'm surprised but...yeah I am."
"Alright, long as you are."
"Thanks again for stopping that thief, you really helped my dad."
"No problem it's alright."
"No, really, my dad's business means a lot in this town, even with competitors around here, you REALLY helped him."
"Hehehe, hey I'm just trying to be a nice guy."
"And you're doing a great job...least I think so."
Koopin gently touched James' hand as they walked, before moving his fingers away once more. He had no idea what to think of the mysterious traveller, with his dangerous weapon, older eyes and strange purple markings. Likewise, James had no idea what Koopin was thinking of him, or what level of friendship he was truly seeking. Regardless, they soon found themselves at the front door of the Kennidons' house.
A knock on the door brought to them a middle-aged female koopa. Her eyes were beaming with energy, and her hands were strong with constant dextrous movements as if waiting for something to hold. She had less wrinkles than her husband, compensated by more energy in her body, but of a milder sort. A motherly sort.
She immediately hugged her son tightly, squeezing him with arms around his neck as he kissed her cheek.
"Ooooh so good to see you! I was wondering when you'd come!"
"Hehe, sorry but uh, dad had a li'l trouble, he's fine but I'll tell ya when we get in. This is my friend James, we're travelling together!"
"Oooh...well good afternoon stranger."
She bowed slightly before he bent down to shake her hand. In return she kissed him on the cheek, making him blush slightly as he replied:
"Uh, pleased to meet you miss...uh-"
"Klair, and it's Mrs, dear."
"Right, sorry just you look so young."
"Ho ho ho! Ooooh you're a charming one arentcha?!"
James smirked and shrugged humbly so, with Koopin looking up at him wryly. James blamed it on Sarah briefly, remembering the ways he learnt on how to compliment a lady back when he had to. She invited both of them in as her son explained on what happened. The inside of the house was strangely rustic to James. Smooth sandstone-like walls, windows hewn out of the wall to show into other rooms, the front room itself showing the kitchen on the other side.
To the right, through a doorway, was a television and a couch with one or two chairs, which extended further back towards a dining room with table. To the left was a laundry room, and a sandstone staircase leading towards the upper floor bedrooms. The kitchen was right next to the dining room through a doorway left of the table.
"Dad's about to come home soon," explained Koopin, "and said that since me and James were travelling together, he invited us to dinner! ...um, if that's okay with you, right mom?"
"OH of course it is dear! You know I love having guests over, come on in! Though I would like an explanation, we're having Fruity Hamburgers tonight."
"Fruity Hamburgers?" asked James.
"Yep," replied Klair, "Hamburgers with mango and berries for flavouring."
"Haha wow, never heard that one before. Uh...I hope you don't mind but I uh..."
"...Iiiii have an allergy to limes. So long as you don't use any lime juice or limes at all, I'll be fine."
"Oh no worries, I ran out of citrus flavouring today, I must remember to get more by the way, hold one tick."
She quickly rushed off towards the kitchen to check on something, while Koopin and FG sat down in the living room. It was the first time James had a chance to truly see what sort of broadcasts were in the Mushroom Kingdom. A quiz show was on called 64 Questions.
"I hope she didn't mind my thing about limes," said FG cautiously.
"Oh no no she's fine with it, we don't use it much anyway so we're not desperate without it."
"Heh, good...your parents got a real nice place."
"Why did you leave?"
"Ohhh just wanted to live out on my own, have my own life, get a job et cetera, yanno just...get out there."
"Heh, the fact you seem to love travelling pretty much showed that. You might as well be like, one of those desert travellers at this point."
"Hehe, you think?!"
"Yeah...you'd look cute in robes."
Koopin blushed softly and smirked as his mother came back.
"Good thing I made extra!" said Klair.
"You always make extra mom."
"Hmhmhm, remember rule number twelve?"
"...uhhhh always make more food than needed?"
She tapped him on the nose which made him giggle.
"Now, dinner will be ready in about forty minutes so make yourselves at home!"
"Sure, thanks mom! Uh...you sure you don't need any help?"
"Oh no no, you've been travelling so long, rest your feet and relax, stay even!"
"Well, thanks but...um...what about James?"
"Woah now," butted in the raptor, "I can just go to the Toad House up the road, dinner is fine I don't wanna overstay my welcome by sleeping here."
"Mmmmm I'm not sure if we have an extra bed anyway," said Mrs. Kennidon. "But you are welcome to stay if my husband says so."
"Oh dad said it was okay," replied Koopin, "I'll let him explain when he's home, shop's nearly closed anyway."
Klair nodded and went back to cooking, while James and Koopin sat, barely watching the quiz show that was on which James gazed at curiously. 20 minutes later, the front door opened as Mr. Kennidon walked in.
The husband and wife smooched over the kitchen window before he walked around to hug her in the kitchen itself. James waved humbly as Shelldon explained the situation.
"I hope you don't mind having an extra guest over dear."
"Well maybe you shouldn't keep me in the dark too long hmm?"
"Koopin's friend here stopped a bandit, the thief tried to steal a quarter of my whole stock! But this lad here stopped him from getting out of town, and for that I'm very thankful."
"Really?! ...well that was lucky! Thank you um..."
"James," reminded the raptor.
"OH, yes sorry, James, thank you for helping us with your bravery. Do we have a spare bed Shelldon?"
"Mmmmm I don't think so," replied the father.
"Uh I'm totally fine sleeping in the Toad House," added FG, "really, I mean dinner is great enough as it is and I'm real thankful for that."
"Well I suppose if you don't mind, and neither does Koopin."
"Course I don't mind!" piped up Koopin. "Come an' sit down dad, I wanna catch up a bit before dinner."
James allowed Shelldon to sit beside his son as the two familiarised themselves with each other once again. Koopin spoke about his usual guide work, how life was in Koopamuir as well as a G-rated version of how he met James and was offering to guide the stranger around the kingdom. The raptor noticed Koopin did not mention anything about the expedition up Mount Shiver.
Likewise, Shelldon spoke about the business still maintaining itself, competition with rival vendors as well as business deals he was about to make concerning vendors from the tropical regions. Hopefully, he said, if they were able to get watermelons as part of their stock, the market would be clinched for him to handle. The older koopa also spoke about little local news here and there, names flying back and forth that James did not bother to keep up with.
The raptor did however offer his services to Mrs Kennidon, helping to set up the table just so he wouldn't feel useless. He hadn't set up a dining table in years, not since Sarah's holiday parties at the bar. Dinner was soon ready, and the four sat down together at a table seated for six. Shelldon sat at the head, with Klair to his left and Koopin to his right while James sat on Koopin's right.
The Fruity Hamburger was the most bizarre blend of fruit and meat he had ever tasted in his life. The rich texture of the steak-like meat seemed to somehow blend well with the juices of mango and berries. He had no idea what to expect, but he was soon finding himself to enjoy it as quite a delicious, if not strange, meal to experience on his tongue. The juices of the fruits soaked into the warm meat, making him relish a taste not unlike that of a blend between apple pie and shepherd's pie.
"So James," asked Shelldon once he finished speaking with Koopin, "where are you from?"
"Uhhh I'm from pretty far away, this far-off island in a city called Chicago. Not really even marked yet, I just wanted to get out and explore the Mushroom Kingdom 'cause I heard so much about it."
"Hmmm, really? Like what?"
"Uh...like...the amazing warp-pipe system, and uh...Mount Shiver and Toad Town, yanno basic stuff. But I'm also a student, studying abnormalities in nature and stuff."
"Really now? That sounds very exciting for a student!"
"Haha yeah, well I'm-"
"You're not one of those Minus World kooks are ya?"
"Oh god no, that's just crazy shi-uh-stuff. I'm looking for like, alterations in the air, abnormalities in the space of our world. So I went to the Mushroom Kingdom to see if I could find more."
Shelldon nodded studiously as Klair started to ask her questions.
"Do you have postal services on your island?"
"Oh well, I just hope you know where the post offices are around here, I mean your friends and parents could get worried. I know I was when Koopin first left for Koopamuir, all grown up in the big wide world."
"Hhhahaha mom you knew I'd be fine," said Koopin shyly. "Don't play it up for James, come on."
"I'm serious! Mothers always feel that way for their boys. What about yours?"
James quickly held his breath, and looked at Koopin with a wincing shake of his head to make him stay quiet.
"...something wrong dear?"
"Nnnngh...hehe, think I had a chunk of steak there that was a bit TOO big, took a while getting down."
"Hmhmhm, you should never bite off more than you can chew dear."
"Right right. So, my parents?"
"Well my mum runs a bar, very popular, family-friendly, knows everyone and everyone likes her. My dad...is a mechanic."
"A mechanic?! What does he fix, on an island of all places?!"
"Ohhh this and that, uh...windmills, and uh...generators, stuff like that?"
She seemed to accept this and nodded with a smile. Koopin was unsure of why his friend would lie, but he decided not to make this awkward and kept eating away at his dinner with little more to say.
"How about you Mrs Kennidon?" asked James. "What do you do?"
"Well other than keeping the house neat and tidy?"
"Ohhh nothing much really, it's nice to settle down after a good career."
"Mom used to be in an orchestra!" piped up Koopin with pride. "Go on mom, tell him about it!"
"Ho ho alright then! I used to be in the Dusty Dunes Orchestra, as a flautist."
"Flautist?" asked FG. "What's that?"
"I played flute, we were quite popular travelling throughout the kingdom!"
"Wow, cool! I never known anyone who could play instruments."
"No? That's a shame, music is wonderful to create, do you like music James?"
"Oh sure, like techno and rock and such."
Klair rolled her eyes with a chuckle.
"Never heard anything classical at all? Nothing from the great composers even?"
"Nope, who are they?"
"You don't know Trouton, Goomdel, not even the great Toadofsky?!"
"Uh...sorry I don't."
"That's an absolute shame, you must listen to at least one piece of theirs, I can even do a few myself!"
"Well uh, maybe sometime I'll take up on hearing some of them, I don't mind some music once a while."
"That would be lovely...you know I DO have a piano."
James slightly balked, not entirely sure on whether to encourage her or not as he looked to Koopin and Shelldon for some assistance. Shelldon seemed to realise and chuckled.
"Klair, calm down, he has plenty of time to hear your young fingers play, let him eat first."
"Of course, hehehee...sorry dear."
"Heh no problem," replied the raptor, "I know how it is when you get real excited about stuff to show other people. I'll listen sometime, when we're all more relaxed and you got nothing else to do."
She accepted this gladly as the four finished up their dinner, with James complimenting her strange meal greatly upon its miraculous taste. With their bellies full, the Kennidon family talked amongst themselves with James being asked occasional questions of his likes and dislikes. Klair sadly did not have time to show FG some of her musical talent, but he promised he would find a way to listen to her recommendations on any classical composers. Somehow.
With night soon coming over the desert, James found himself leaving Koopin's home to make his way towards the Toad House, waving them goodbye so he could sleep and prepare for the next day. But not before Koopin stopped him at the front doorstep.
"Hey uh, James?"
"Can I ask you a few things, before we both head off to our beds?"
Koopin closed the front door so no one would listen in.
"Why did you lie about your parents?"
"Ugh, I knew you were gonna ask. I didn't wanna drag down the conversation by telling them I was an orphan, your mum and dad are really nice and I didn't want to be that guy in a party who depresses everyone with one thing he says."
"I...guess so but I had to ask."
"Your house is really nice man, and your parents are great."
"Hehe, yeah they are aren't they?"
"Totally, I envy you...NOT that I'm envying you for real for having parents, not like that-oh god just...never mind."
The koopa couldn't help but smirk at his friend's sudden awkwardness, the raptor palming his face with both hands. Koopin petted him on the shoulder, which he had to stretch up a bit to reach.
"Hehehe, I know, and if you're okay with it, I'm okay with it too."
"Heh, thanks...just didn't wanna give a bad impression on them is all."
"Bad impression? How is being an...orphan...a bad thing?!"
"When you're a kid on the street with no parents to guide you, you do a lot of bad shit. The kind of kids who grow up to be criminals or scammers or just regular punks, you know what I mean."
"Yyyyeaaaah but not everyone thinks that."
"Was I okay in there?"
"Oh yeah you were great, don't worry!"
"Phew, good. Okay then I'm tired, I'll see you tomorrow alrighty? Just drop by your house?"
"Sure, we can go over where I plan to go next, I might stay another day with my mom and dad just to catch up, you don't mind right?"
"Course not man it's your vacation! I'm just a tagalong."
"Hehe, alrighty then, night night James!"
Heading to the Toad House inn, James found the cold desert night to be quite soothing, if only for a short time just to offset the standard heat. It was one of the clearest night skies he had ever seen in his life, a myriad of stars twinkling above. He started to realise something upon feeling himself truly in another world, the desert sand beneath his bare feet as koopas, toads and shy guys started packing their stalls.
Does every world I've been to share the same sky? Were the stars that Daisy gazed upon different to the ones here? Koopin talked about how the stars are special here...do they really grant wishes?
He almost pondered on testing this theory, silently praying towards them in his head.
Stars...are you up there? I know I'm not of this world, that I'm from far away and probably way beyond any place you even seen...but I want to wish for something. I wish to return home. I wish to find my home, or a way home somehow. I want to know if...if...
And then his wish faltered, like a candle burnt to the wick. Hesitation grew inside his head once more, his spirit wilted. He tried to shake it off to prevent slipping into depression.
"Pffft come on James, wishing to the stars? You're not a kid, grow up already, you're just tired."
The raptor headed to bed, dropping off the moment his body was nestled between the clean dry sheets of the Toad House inn.