There was just one more string.
If Kris and their [[Friend(s)]] could just cut that last wire that tethered him away from his freedom, Spamton G. Spamton [[Number 1 Rated Salesman1997]] could rise above the dark once and for all.
From their rickety kart speeding through the endless tunnel, Kris dragged their sword forward and made a slicing motion through the air.
The familiar noise of a cut spurred through the air as the string was snapped.
Spamton’s body froze.
[[WAIT]] Panic tore through him like a cold shock. Something had gone horribly wrong. Rather than achieving [[Freedom]], he began to plummet. [[WAIT NO WAIT WAIT]] There was a terrible realization that those strings were the only thing that had been keeping him up and moving, and that he had just cut. Them. Out. [[The Power of NEO]], which allowed him to come as far as he had, was suddenly a terrible weight that encompassed him and pulled him towards the cavern below. Heaven was getting farther and farther out of reach, and the darkness swallowed him whole as he fell further and further. All he could do was watch his freedom disappear before him. Then it was all over, just like that.
It was dark for a while. Spamton wasn’t sure when he had hit the ground, but when he woke up, he was lying on his back staring up into the vast blackness above. His first [[Reasonable]] assumption was that he was dead. After all, why would a [[SAD LITTLE PUPPET]] still move after it’s strings were all clipped? But he sure did feel a lot of pain in his back for a corpse. He figured he must still be alive and fairly [[Beaten to death]] after such a long fall if his back was anything to go by. It hurt. It was dark. NEO was gone. His chest tightened slightly when he realized he no longer had his [[Sole worldly possession for $2.99]] glasses. Immediately he shot up and frantically looked around, surprised to find he was surrounded by yellow flowers. They were a pretty bunch and could probably be sold for a good price as a bouquet, but they certainly hadn’t helped soften the blow. A few paces away, he spotted a glint of pink in the midst of the petals and ran over. The glasses had a pretty bad crack down the yellow side, but otherwise seemed in better condition than Spamton himself.
“Hello? Is someone there?” A gentle voice rang out. Spamton quickly wiped what he could off the glasses, put them on, and smoothed his hair back before turning in the direction of the voice. Not far off was a tall, fluffy [[????]] creature with small horns and kind eyes, dressed in a purple robe. She approached Spamton with a small look of hope, cocking her head to one side.
“Are you alright my... “ She paused, “...child?”
“NEVER BEEN BETTER [[You can bet on it]]!! BUT I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT I AM NO [[Half priced]] KID, BUT A GENUINE BUSINESS MAN!!” he shouted, sticking his hand upward at her for a handshake, “NAME’S SPAMTON G. SPAMTON [™]”
She stared at him for a moment with a slightly startled look, but slowly went to shake his small hand, careful not to grab it too hard.
“Ah, my apologies, from afar you looked like-” Her expression softened a little, the hopeful look in her eyes gone. “Oh nevermind, I should introduce myself. I am Toriel, keeper of the ruins. I pass through this place everyday to see if anyone has fallen down.”
“RUINS?!?! LISTEN LADY, I’VE SEEN MY FAIR SHARE OF [[Garbage dumps]] AND CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THIS PLACE IS NO [[Shody]] RUIN!!! I WOULD [Kill] FOR A TOUR AROUND THIS BEAUTY, WOULD YOU BE A DOLL [[NONONONONO]] AND SHOW ME AROUND?”
“Of course, follow me.” With his puppet hand still in monster paw, Toriel began to lead the way to the ruins.
Spamton struggled to keep in pace with Toriel, who was partly leading and partly dragging Spamton behind her through the various stone arches. Still not entirely sure how he ended up here, Spamton was at least relieved to be out of the dark. And the catacombs were beautiful, with vines that crawled up towards the ceiling and giant flower beds that sprouted through the stone floors. The only out of the ordinary things were the occasional set of spikes or puzzles. Despite the risk of being impaled, all the puzzles seemed to be simple enough for a child to solve.
After what felt like ages of walking through pillars and arches, Toriel stopped in front of a [[Gorgeous two-story house for sale]].
“Welcome to my home,” she said, letting go of Spamton and standing in the entrance, “And your temporary home!” She let her arms go wide with a flourish and gave him a warm smile. “I am certain that you are eager to find a way back to your old home and friends, but I wanted to offer you a place to stay for the time being. I have a spare room that you can sleep in and a freshly baked pie to try if you would like.”
Spamton stood where he was for a moment, just… looking at her, silently. Those strange glasses of his had changed from their original bright colors to a blur of greys. Toriel faltered for a moment and worriedly put her hands together.
“Are you alright? I apologize if I was too forthcoming-”
“YOU’VE GOT TO BE [Pulling my leg] LADY!! I’M NOT EASILY SCAMMED [[Out of home and heart]], WHERE’S THE FINE PRINT? THE FEE? THE CATCH??” He yelled out, suddenly animated again and stepping right up to Toriel.
She looked taken aback, still not used to the high volume that cascaded out of this small man or his barrage of angry questions. She carefully examined him before slowly responding,
“There is no catch. I am simply letting you stay the night here. I assure you I am no con artist, just a concerned old lady.”
Spamton crossed his arms, still unconvinced of her “generous” offer. She sighed. Despite the sting of being accused a swindler by this stranger, she could not help feeling a twang of sadness over his twisted worldview that framed gifts as traps in disguise. She stood up straighter and placed both of her paws in the air.
“Alright! You have caught me, there is a catch!” She said, as matter-of-factly as she could muster. Spamton’s grin grew a touch bigger after being proven right. “In order to stay the night here, you must endure the hard and intensive labor of listening to me read all of 72 Uses for Snails!” Now Spamton faltered, but only briefly. He once again shot his hand outwards for a shake.
“SOUNDS LIKE A [Sweet] DEAL!!”
Toriel thought Spamton was… an interesting individual, to say the least, but she appreciated having his company. There was never a dull (or comprehensible) moment with him. He spent the first hour in her house looking into every room, but being careful not to touch anything. Not that he could get to a lot. Standing in the kitchen, the top of his head barely reached the countertop.
A few times Toriel tried to ask how Spamton had fallen into the Underground, but he was quick to dodge the question by saying he “JUST WASN’T [[Payment]] ATTENTION” to where he was walking. He was obviously avoiding explanation as to why he was at Mount Ebbot or how a monster was on the surface in the first place, but it was clear that he did not want to talk about it any further, so she didn’t press. She knew he had been lying after she asked him if he was alright too. The fall was a long one and the small puppet man was not particularly durable. There was a thin crack along one of his arms, but when Toriel noticed it Spamton was quick to pull his sleeve over it and brush it off. There were also the strange snippets in his voice that seemed to be involuntary and gave away what was on his mind, like how much his “[[SPINELESS]] back was [Killing him]!!. Most concerningly though, Toriel thought, was just how tired the man seemed. He was constantly moving when he spoke, almost like he was trying to sell his very words, but the moment he thought he was alone he would just… go slack. Often she would find him standing in the middle of any given room staring blankly at nothing. That was until he noticed he had a customer that needed entertaining, of course, and would spring back into action, widely gesturing throughout the loud conversation. Toriel could not see his eyes behind the tinted shades, but she could clearly imagine heavy bags underneath them.
Toriel sat in her favorite chair reading a book with a snail on the cover, quietly letting Spamton be as he wandered. She did not want him to feel obligated to present himself for a conversation and tucker himself out further. After a while of milling about the house and mindlessly standing around, Spamton had made his way into the kitchen. It was small and nicely decorated like the rest of the house, but the nicest thing about it was the smell. As promised, there was a freshly baked pie sitting on the counter that smelled of butterscotch and kindness. His [[Low on fuel?]] stomach growled. He went to grab a slice, but a small note beside it stopped him.
“Remember to wash your hands!” It said in neat writing with a small smile doodled next to it. Spamton felt embarrassed to have not done that before, mentally chiding himself for forgetting to be a decent house guest to the [Charitable] lady. He quickly dragged a stepstool over to the sink and hopped onto it, whistling while he scrubbed his hands clean. It was one of the few things that his glitch didn’t affect.
Looking down at the stepstool, he noticed it had been decorated. Crammed to fit unto the top were two painted paw prints, a third smaller one, and a human handprint all next to each other. It was a sweet sentiment, but the emptiness of the house made Spamton sad to look at it, so he turned his attention back to the pie.
Toriel looked up from her book as the salesman sluggishly walked out of the kitchen, a plate of a half-eaten slice of pie in one hand and a fork in the other.
“Do you like it?” She asked. Spamton did not say anything in response, instead giving a nod and a muffled “mh-hm” as he sat in front of the fireplace. He sat there quietly as he ate his pie and fought against the lul of sleep. Toriel chuckled as his glasses slid off his face once when his head rested forward. The sound of them hitting the floor made him jolt back up. He had very small, dot-like eyes and, sure enough, a set of heavy bags beneath them.
Toriel gently closed her book and set it on the arm of the chair before standing up.
“Here, let me get that for you.” She said, offering her paw to take the now empty plate. Spamton hesitated, looking slightly worried at her paw.
“Oh, uh, no need, I can get it-” He began.
So he can talk quietly. Toriel thought.
Still looking a little uncomfortable, Spamton forfeited his plate over to her and awkwardly stared at the fireplace. Toriel’s heart twisted a bit. It was worrying that there was a place in this world where you could not trust the smallest acts of kindness. She couldn’t begin to imagine living in such a place. The thought, or perhaps the tiredness that had begun to creep up on her, made her sigh.
“Why don’t you take this,” She said, handing the giant, hand-knitted blanket that hung over the back of her chair to Spamton, “and I’ll get started on the book end of our deal.”
He simply nodded and wrapped himself in the blanket. Toriel smiled. Yes, she had only expected children to stumble into the underground, but she was more than happy to share her home and warmth with whoever needed it. So she put away the dishes and came back to her chair and her book, only to find that the puppet was already fast asleep. She sat down and began to silently read again, her heart full after noticing the small, genuine smile that rested on his face while he slept.