The Shopkeeper's Stories are stories told by The Shopkeeper to Ninja in The Messenger. The Shopkeeper has a unique story for each area in the linear portion of the game, a story for the final area of the game, and three Picnic Panic stories.
- 1 Autumn Hills Story
- 2 Forlorn Temple Story
- 3 Catacombs Story
- 4 Bamboo Creek Story
- 5 Howling Grotto Story
- 6 Quillshroom Marsh Story
- 7 Searing Crags Story
- 8 Glacial Peak Story
- 9 Tower of Time Story
- 10 Cloud Ruins Story
- 11 Underworld Story
- 12 Music Box Story
- 13 Voodkin Shore Story
- 14 Fire Mountain Story
- 15 Voodoo Heart Story
- 16 Trivia
- 17 Gallery
- 18 References
Autumn Hills Story
- For the location, see Autumn Hills.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a servant who didn't know how to read. The day came where his master asked him to read something for her to which he replied "I'm sorry my lady, I can't read". That reply immediately got him fired.
Shopkeeper: So he went out in the streets looking for a tea house to relax and accept the bad news. When he couldn't find any, he reckoned he probably wasn't the only one to wish there was a tea house in his small town, so he opened up his own. It really picked up, so he built many more, and became rich in the process. One day, his accountant asked him to review a piece of document, to which he replied he didn't know how to read. The accountant, who couldn't believe her ears, said: "If you became a millionaire without even knowing how to read, just imagine where you would be if you could read. "Oh I know exactly where I would be", the rich man replied. "I would be a servant". The end.
Easter Egg Location
In 8-bit Ninja Village, near the beginning of the area, there is a tea house.
Forlorn Temple Story
- For the location, see Forlorn Temple.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a princess looking for a suitable husband. She sent an invitation to all neighboring princes, stating that the main trait she was looking for was sensitivity. Contenders came and went, attempting to pass her test. "You will be my guest tonight", the princess would explain. "All I need you to do is sleep on that pile of mattresses." The next morning, she would ask them how their night was. "I had the best sleep of my life", each would reply, confident they had proved they didn't fear the dark, or that they could be easy guests. They were all promptly dismissed. One day, an especially sensitive prince reported he couldn't sleep at all. "I don't know what was up with that pile of mattresses", he went on, "It looked comfortable enough, but when I laid on it, it was like I had a fork stuck in my kidney." They got married the next day.
Shopkeeper: For the first few weeks, everything was amazing. The prince would always complain! Just the guy she asked for. When the soup wasn't too hot, it's the cutlery that was too cold. When the music wasn't too loud, the paintings were uninspired. And when the clothes weren't itchy, the poems were predictable. Until one day, just like that, it dawned on the princess that she was in a toxic relationship. Not only was her husband a drag, she had voluntarily picked him for exactly that reason. It dawned on her just like that, how this whole love story was nothing more than two people whose dysfunctions matched like puzzle pieces. Incredibly humble by regal standards, she realized that she was the only constant in all her problems, delved into personal growth, then got a divorce. She lived happily ever after. The end.
Easter Egg Location
- For the location, see Catacombs.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a poor old lady who had nothing in life, save for a small shack and a pear tree. Her name was Madam Misery. Her whole family ate misery, and sometimes there wasn't even enough misery to go around. One day, she was visited by a starving beggar, who asked whether she had any food to spare. She didn't, but her heart was as big as her situation was unfortunate. So she served the beggar a few clumps out of the tasteless broth she had simmering, then invited him to help himself to a few pears. The beggar removed his cloak, revealing himself as a deity. He was disguised as a beggar to see whether there was any kindness left in the world. Touched by Madam Misery's generosity, he offered to grant her a wish.
Shopkeeper: No no, this is good, let me continue. She mentioned a lot of people were stealing her fruits, which jeopardized her chance to eat every day. Her wish was simple: an enchantment on her pear tree, so that it would trap anyone who stole from it until she decided to free them. The divine visitor granted her wish and took his leave. Time went by and she scolded many thieves, but soon realized that most of them were starving children. She decided to take it upon herself to feed and educate them, and soon became the pillar of a thriving new generation. Ever happy and generous, Madam Misery got so old that her face looked like an elephant's knee. And then one day, Death came for her.
Shopkeeper: Death, following the protocol, inquired about her last request. "I would like to eat one last pear from my tree", she said. "Would you be kind enough to grab one for me?" Death climbed into the tree to grab a pear, getting trapped in the process. The old lady decided to never let Death out of the trap, and since then there has been Misery in the world. The end.
Easter Egg Location
In 16-bit Quillshroom Marsh, on the lower pathway towards the Searing Crags world portal, there is a wooden dilapidated house. Next to the house is a withered tree, and stuck to the tree is a wooden figure of Death, holding a single yellow pear.
Bamboo Creek Story
- For the location, see Bamboo Creek.
Howling Grotto Story
- For the location, see Howling Grotto.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a king who had a pretty rough time managing his emotions. Experiencing nothing but extremes, he would always feel either too excited or too depressed, which caused him to never get anything done. Just as he was about to lose all hope of getting his life together and be a viable ruler for his people, he was visited by a traveling relic hunter. To rid the king of his woes, the relic hunter gave him a magic ring, promising it would make him sad when he is happy, and happy when he is sad. It worked like a literal charm, and the kingdom became very prosperous as a result. When the king passed away, the castle's wizard promptly grabbed the ring to finally try and understand the source of its power. As it turned out, the ring wasn't magic at all! But how could a non-magic ring make you sad when you are happy and happy when you are sad?
Easter Egg Location
In 16-bit Forlorn Temple, in the upper-left section of the temple, there is a king's crown, a king's robe, and a tiny silver ring resting underneath a tree.
Quillshroom Marsh Story
- For the location, see Quillshroom Marsh.
Shopkeeper: Even though he was supposed to move on with his very important quest, he just couldn't get enough. The Shopkeeper, living in a void outside of time, was connected to all eras, and so at first was happy to share the myths and legends encountered over decades of traveling. Alas, the Messenger never seemed to appreciate the morals or takeaways, so the Shopkeeper decided to be done with the stories thing.
Searing Crags Story
- For the location, see Searing Crags.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. It's a story I once told the guy who hooked me up with music for my shop. There once was a village struggling to figure out who the werewolf was. People kept dying every full moon, and very gorily at that. One day, a brave young couple decided to venture into the woods. He would be the hunter, and she, the bait. As one would expect from such a clichéd setting, they got separated and our hunter faced off alone against the beast near a cliff. After fifteen minutes of a literal uphill battle, the hunter managed to chop off the werewolf's paw with his axe, just as it was attempting to choke him. The hunter then ran for his life, severed paw still clutched to his throat. By the time he got home, the sun was up, and he found his fiancée bleeding, also badly wounded. The paw on his throat had reverted to its human form, and that moment he noticed it was wearing a ring he had purchased a few days ago. The end.
Easter Egg Location
In 16-bit Quillshroom Marsh, on the 16-bit pathway towards the Magic Seashell pedestal, there is a hunter's axe and a severed hand with a golden ring on the ring finger. The axe and the hand are resting against a wooden crate.
Glacial Peak Story
- For the location, see Glacial Peak.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a village settled in a land of ice and snow. Food was scarce, but not as much as heat. Their elders spoke of a lush grove, safe, abundant, and with comfortable weather to boot. The only problem was, that grove lay on the other side of a permanent hailstorm which would take weeks to cross. One day, a brave couple left their young boy behind to attempt what the village called "The Trek". They would scout all the way to the grove and confirm its existence, then come back to the village and lead everyone to a better life. Like all who attempted The Trek before them, they sadly and predictably never came back. Over the following decades, that boy grew up with only one goal in mind: to take on The Trek himself, and find his parents alive at the grove, or dead in the ice. Figuring they may have simply been ill prepared, he trained every day until he was five years older than his parents were when they left for The Trek, then set off for his own attempt. The hailstorm's first bite wasn't as bad as he thought it would be, but the ice-cold soil slowly worked its way into his bones. After days of walking through the storm without realizing it was all just a metaphor playing out in his troubled young adult mind, he stumbled upon a no pun intended chilling sight. His parents, frozen solid in a block of ice. The shock was too strong. He remained there, cursing, pondering, and cursing again, until the cold took him to become a part of the ice block. The end.
Shopkeeper: Sometimes, stories can be harsh. It might just be the very message they mean to convey about life. You need to think about what transpired and find your own takeaways. There are no wrong answers, as long as they ring true to you.
Shopkeeper: Or, you could consider the implications of our adventurer being five years older than his parents when he found them. Can you imagine, gazing upon those who were your protectors and mentors, realizing they are actually younger than you? Your bearers of truth, the wise ones, those you aspired to be like? A harsh reality indeed: you thought they knew it all, had it all figured out, that they were centered and filled with purpose. Yet there you stand, beholding the one pillar you ever took for granted and used for stability, physically crystalized, yet mentally shattered before your very eyes. Had they really found inner peace already when you knew them, meaning you're the one who missed the mark, or were they simply excellent actors?
Easter Egg Location
Tower of Time Story
- For the location, see Tower of Time.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a land filled with bogs. And these bogs, they were filled with evil monsters. Sleeping underwater during the day, they were kept at bay by the Moon during nighttime. Well, when she was kind enough to be around. After all, the Moon was free to travel through space, and often felt like shining her light on other realms. One day the Moon got bored, and decided to visit the bog land in human form. Wearing a cloak so that her light wouldn't shine through, she hoped to catch a glance of the evil creatures. Getting more than people wandering haphazardly in cursed lands usually bargain for, she encountered a man fleeing from a small pack of monsters. Confident in her power, she removed her cloak, creating a glittering aura of protection to help the man escape. Escape he did, but as he looked back, he could see that his savior had put her cloak back on a little too soon. She was captured by the creatures, who then buried her under a rock so that her light would never shine again. They would rule the night. But our survivor was quick to gather a group of peasants, who went to remove the big rock and set the Moon free. A strong bond was formed on that day, and she decided to become their guardian. To this day the Moon is there to guide human travelers through the night. The end.
Easter Egg Location
Cloud Ruins Story
- For the location, see Cloud Ruins.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There was once a starving little boy who never missed a chance to help his fellow villagers. One day, after helping an old man carry a heavy bundle of wheat, he was offered a loaf of bread. "Eat your fill, my boy, it is well deserved", he began, "but if you feel like helping even more, there are two gnomes hiding in the forest who are even hungrier than you are." Now that boy was an empathetic one. His mind was made up instantly. After a short hike, he found the gnomes and split the bread between the two of them, without even saving a bite for himself. "Thank you, kind little boy", the gnomes beamed "it seems you have lifted our curse." Indeed, to punish them for their greed, a spirit had put them under a rather annoying spell. They were exiled to the forest, carrying a magic little mill capable of producing anything its bearer desired. But the little mill's magic would only be activated once the gnomes were fed by a stranger acting out of selfless generosity. To starve while carrying a relic promising abundance, a cruel fate indeed. Now you can imagine the little boy's surprise when he was given the magic item. "Name something you want while turning the crank to the right, and the little mill will produce an endless stream of it", the gnomes explained. "Turn it to the left, and it will stop." After creating a huge pile of food for the two gnomes, the young boy went back to his village to help the populace with his newfound powers. But as he grew in popularity, his older sister grew in jealousy. One night she couldn't take it anymore, and stole the little mill from her brother's bedside table, along with two leftover pies from that afternoon's feast. Adding insult to injury, she left on the family's fishing boat to reach new lands, hoping to have her turn in the role of the popular purveyor. Once out at sea, she decided to try one of the pies, which to her taste were lacking a little something. It was time to try that little mill's magic, she reckoned. "Give me salt!" she said, turning the crank to the right. And salt she got. Heaps and heaps of it. Now, older sister had never bothered paying attention to how the mill could be stopped. "STOP! LITTLE MILL, STOP!" she shouted, first annoyed, then worried, and finally panicked. Salt soon overflowed the boat itself, sinking it under the weight. It is said that the sunken little mill is still operational to this day, and is the reason why seawater is salty. The end.
Shopkeeper: Oh I got another one: seeing how big sister's shortcomings as a little mill operator led to her demise, unqualified people were henceforth referred to as not being "worth their salt". Hey this is fun. You should go, I'll keep on coming up with morals to do with salt.
Easter Egg Location
In 16-bit Sunken Shrine, during the Guardian Gods cutscene where Ninja is gifted the Key of Love, a small mill with a rotating crank floats in the ocean background and releases particles of salt. It is the only easter egg that's actually animated.
- For the location, see Underworld.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a guy visited by a succubus. Far from being that kind of demon, she offered him a unique chance to visit Hell as a tourist. Very adventurous by nature, he jumped right into the portal. They arrived in a room where giant cauldrons boiled over bonfires. They contained people, where little demons with pikes were sitting on the rim to push anyone who tried to escape back inside. "Who's in that cauldron?", the man asked his succubus tour guide. "This one? That's where liars and cheaters end up", she explained. "And this one over there", she continued, "that's for people who hunt for sport." Aghast, the man noticed another cauldron, much bigger than the other ones, and devoid of any demons sitting on its rim. Indeed, that one cauldron seemed to self-regulate, people were pulling back in anyone who tried to escape! "And who's this cauldron for?", he asked, curious as to who could be so stubborn in their ideology they would rather hurt themselves than rethink their worldview. "Oh, that cauldron", the succubus mused, "that's for people who think the order doesn't apply anymore when another line opens up at the market." The end.
Easter Egg Location
Music Box Story
- For the location, see Music Box.
Shopkeeper: One last for the road, huh? Why of course, here's one for you. There once was a little boy stuck in a well. It wasn't really clear why he was in there. People assumed he fell while playing, or that someone had pushed him. In truth, he had jumped in there himself.
Shopkeeper: He spent years in the well, wasting away anxiously, feeling utterly inadequate. He had a deep desire to share his ideas with the world, but shame having played such a big part in his upbringing, his will lay broken. That's why the well suited him so perfectly; a place to hide, where he could be alone with his stories, with no one to mock or judge him. A safe life, unfortunately devoid of purpose, but at least shielded from rejection. One day as he was role playing, a wanderer passing by looked down the well. "Hey, what's going on down there?", he asked curiously, intent on joining in on the fun. "Oh, nothing... sorry about the noise", the little boy replied. And thus the well remained silent for weeks. The wanderer, patient and compassionate, sat by the well for all that time. His mind was already made up. He would do whatever it took to get that little boy out of there, so that he could share his stories with the world. The creative flame in that little boy's heart refused to die, and eventually he started roleplaying again. And so the wanderer very cautiously started interacting with him again, telling him that his stories were entertaining, and nothing to be ashamed of. Their friendship built really slowly, based on genuine intentions and trust. A few months later, the wanderer and the little boy were sitting together in the well, laughing and sharing stories. The well became an increasingly habitable place, and passersby started looking in. "I think I'm not the only one who would like to hear your stories." the wanderer mused one day. "I'm too afraid to climb out." the little boy replied. "It's ok", the wanderer reassured him, "let me know when you are ready." Years passed, the little boy's imagination becoming more focused, his thoughts and stories shaping into a concrete little world. And then one day, he decided to take the chance. He would build this world and show it to everyone. The wanderer helped him climb out.
Shopkeeper: The little boy shared his ideas with creators of all crafts, and to his surprise, they wanted to help building it. And so the small team was put together, and he officially became a writer! I wish I could tell you it all ended in fame and fortune, but I trust you understand it's not what this whole journey has ever been about anyway.
Easter Egg Location
In Forlorn Temple, the first room accessed from the west, there is a well.
Voodkin Shore Story
- For the location, see Voodkin Shore.
Shopkeeper: Which story will it be? Maybe I could tell you about the evil genie who would always corrupt the owners wishes, so that the one asking to fly could never land, and the one asking to know everything could never talk or write.
Shopkeeper: Oh I know, here's one for you. There once was a family of innkeepers operating their business in a world devoid of physical boundaries. Indeed, the establishment had an endless amount of rooms to rent. And business was so good, each and every one of them was occupied! Still, new customers would keep coming in, and be given a room right away.
Shopkeeper: Unprecedented, right? You see, living in a boundless world comes with a few perks. Thus, even though all the rooms were occupied, the possibilities with them were as endless as the corridor they belonged to. So the new customer would always get room number 1, and then have to ask the customer that was already there to move to room number 2 who would then ask that other customer to do the same for number 3, and so on, forever. It might take a few moments to wrap your head around this, but given the endless amount of rooms, there would always be a next room to go to and ask the customer there to move over to the next one. And while that was certainly bound to cause discomfort to an unfathomable amount of people, the fact still remained that every new customer would get a room even though there was no vacancy.
Shopkeeper: Sort of, yes. And speaking of neat, one can seldom imagine the housekeeping costs, so the innkeeper family eventually determined that there needed to be some sort of boundaries. For their inn to be manageable, the number of rooms had to be finite. They called this concept "inn-finity".
Shopkeeper: ... You know what I can't believe? That after all these stories you still won't think past the surface. Or do you simply not care that I just managed to teach you how it's actually possible to do infinity+1 by conceptualizing ensembles with properties capable of perpetual movement in a way a 5 year old would understand?
Easter Egg Location
In 8-bit Voodkin Shore, in a dead-end with a palm tree and a health jar, wait by the left wall for about 30 seconds to reveal a secret southward pathway. In the secret area, there is a sign above a door that has cryptic runes that translate to "INNFINITY."
Fire Mountain Story
- For the location, see Fire Mountain.
Shopkeeper: Of course, here's one for you. There once was a couple of farmers who inherited a very peculiar patch of land. Indeed, once every harvest season, it would grow a gigantic crystal pumpkin. After a few years of living a very wealthy life by dominating the crystal market with fruit, the farmers were taken over by greed. Surmizing that the pumpkin patch had to be laying over a crystal mine of some sort, they dug up all the plants and shoveled dirt while fantasizing about what they would do with all their riches. Unfortunately, as it quickly dawned on them there was no rare mineral cache to be found. The one thing they did find, however, was that in destroying their pumpkin patch they had forfeited all future chances of getting their yearly giant-crystal-fruit yield. They lived unhappily ever after, wishing they had taken good care of their plants instead of letting their greed ruin everything. The moral of this story is that one should be grateful for what they have, and be mindful not to lose it all by always wanting more. The end.
Shopkeeper: There are two things you can take away from this. First, that by pointing this out you just gutted a perfectly enjoyable story of its ability to enchant you. You ripped its core open and broke it, rendering it worthless, exactly the way a greedy crystal pumpkin farmer would. And second, I bet you thought pumpkins were vegetables.
Easter Egg Location
In 16-bit Fire Mountain, in a room up and to the left of the 4th shop room, there is a crystal pumpkin.
Voodoo Heart Story
- For the location, see Voodoo Heart.
At the Picnic
[No/Yes Prompt, Select Yes]
Shopkeeper: Alright, here's one for you. It's a story about a story. Or, more precisely, about a friend of mine's relation to it. Here we go: There once was a little girl who had a favorite fairytale. She couldn't get enough of it. Every week she wanted to hear it again. And much like the dysfunctional patterns we recreate in our lives, I bet part of her was hoping that by listening to the same story endlessly, its ending would eventually change. Because you see, she only truly liked the first half of that fairytale. It went something like this: "Once upon a time, there lived a monstruous beast in a castle who kept a farmer prisoner in his dungeon. One day, the farmer's daughter went to the beast's castle to offer herself as a prisoner in exchange for her father's freedom. The farmer being quite a selfless dad, and the beast quite a reasonable bully, everyone instantly agreed. At first very scared and put-off by the beast's appearance, she quickly learned to look past the surface and became quite fond of him. Far from being a blatantly romanticized case of Stockholm Syndrome, her feelings towards him grew into genuine love. But the beast, as it soon turned out, was actually a beautiful prince who had had the misfortune of being turned into a monster by an evil witch! A spell which could only be broken by receiving a kiss from his true love. The power of this relationship helped him reconnect with the good within him, and his past as a captor was never revisited or brought into question after he became the farmer's son-in-law. They all lived happily ever after. The end."
Shopkeeper: That's a fair guess. All she told me, is that she didn't like the prince's voice anymore once he was returned to his human form. But she's a clever one, and I can't shake the feeling that part of her thought it didn't really make sense that someone who had the depth and maturity to look past the surface would receive a reward as superfluous as good looks. Or, maybe that's where the whole deal became awfully supsicious. If you think about it, there is always something sketchy about apparent perfection. Maybe the appearance of a beast, showcasing hideousness so openly, at least offers the security of letting you know what you are in for. A trait so evident and so repulsive, it could only be uphill from there for the one who would take a closer look. Where as, with a perfect front, all that is left is to slowly deconstruct this perfection by slowly noticing flaws. It is a rare and valuable thing for people to look past the surface, so why would it make sense to offer them something shallow and material in response? I find it to also convey a very important message. A message you need to pay close attention to notice, but which is nontheless written everywhere, between the lines : contrast carries beauty. The colorful shirt of the introvert. The pack of watermelon bubblegum in the old lady's purse. The melodic background harmonies of the death metal song. The cute earrings of the stone faced. The smell of dust kicking up when sudden rain combines with the bright sun on a hot summer day. While others may benefit from paying attention to more stories, some people perceive these things instinctively. Seeing how curious and captivated you are, I'd wager you belong to the second group. And when it comes to my friend, sometimes I like to think that, to her, a better title for this fairytale would have been "The beauty 'in' the beast".
Shopkeeper: Oh, don't overthink it. It's just my special way of saying dziękuję to that little girl. Hopefully she enjoyed this more than if I had sung happy birthday to her. And as to you, Messenger, I hope that in the end you won't think your adventure would have been better without a bonus tropical side-quest. Anyway, vacation's over. I should go and pack now. See you on the A side.
Easter Egg Location
In 8-bit Voodoo Heart, in one of the Dark Messenger race rooms, there is a statue of a beast, a young woman, and a young girl. Once the progression bar is added to the top of the screen, you must win twice and lose once to reach the room with the easter egg.
- The Autumn Hills story is an homage to a short story called "The Verger" by Somerset Maugham.
- The Cloud Ruins story is an homage to the Norwegian fairytale called "Why the Sea is Salt" by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.
- The Voodkin Shore story is a reference to Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel, which explains how a fully occupied hotel with infinitely many rooms can still accommodate more guests.
- In the Searing Crags story, The Shopkeeper mentions, "It's a story I once told the guy who hooked me up with music for my shop." The Searing Crags story is truly a story that The Shopkeeper has told to the game's music composer, Rainbowdragoneyes, in a series of tweets on Twitter.
- In the beta version of the game, the Howling Grotto story had a different conversation ending between The Shopkeeper and Ninja.
- Shopkeeper: It had a small inscription that read "This, too, shall pass".
- Ninja: Ok...
- Shopkeeper: Oh come on! I just gave you the cure for anxiety through a fairytale, and you won't even give me a reaction?
- Ninja: To be honest I don't get it.
- Shopkeeper: Oh, this is actually kind of sad.
- Ninja: ...
- Shopkeeper: I'll keep it simple from now on. Take care.
- In the beta version of the game, The Shopkeeper was originally too upset to tell a story in Searing Crags.
- It's revealed in the "Behind the Schemes: The Messenger" video that the Music Box story almost didn't make it into the final version of the game.
- The well in Forlorn Temple that is a reference to the Music Box story is the only easter egg in the game that has both an 8-bit sprite and a 16-sprite.
- The tea shop from the Autumn Hills story is referred to as "NinjaVillage_MaisonDeTheEasterEgg" in the picture files. "MaisonDeThe," or "maison de thé," is French for "teahouse."
- The couple frozen in a block of ice from the Glacial Peak story is referred to as "Parentsdanslaglouce" in the picture files. "Parentsdanslaglouce," or "parents dans la glace," is French for "parents in the ice."