The Five Castles
An Epic Tale of Magic and Deceit

By Crispy

Summer 41st, 1717

It was a time of jubilation in the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser had recently been defeated (yet again) by the Mario Brothers, and the Mushroomians were holding a celebration parade for the victorious plumbers. Queen Peach Toadstool, Monarch of the Mushroom Kingdom, was preparing to give a speech, followed by the awarding of commemoratory medals to both Mario and Luigi.

"Friends, Mushrooms, countrymen!" Peach spoke. "Today we celebrate a glorious day! Without the bravery of these fine gentlemen, all of our kingdom would have been lost to the Koopas!" The crowd cheered vociferously. "Now, let us present to the Mario Brothers the Silver Starman, the highest honor that can be awarded in the kingdom!" With that, the queen walked over and pinned the silver medallion on each plumber's overalls, and the gathered Mushroomians erupted with applause.

That night, a great feast was held in the Palace, with Mario and Luigi as the guests of honor. As the two brothers entered the dining chambers, they were swamped with admirers and reporters.

"How does it feel to have defeated Bowser yet again, Mr. Luigi?" asked one eager reporter.

"It feels great, actually-" But he was interrupted by another question.

"How about you, Mr. Mario?"

"Well, it's no big deal. I've defeated Bowser single-handedly before, so there's nothing to it. He's never learned anything new from his encounters with me."

"Mario, you forgot-" started Luigi, but he was interrupted again by a squadron of Mushroom Agents that held back the press and escorted the Marios to their seats at the head of the table, with Peach in the center.

"Let us begin the feast!" she announced, and an army of waiters entered the room and placed covered silver platters in front of each diner. When they opened the dishes, they found steaming dishes of duck and venison, delicacies in the Mushroom Kingdom as they had to be imported from the Real World at high prices.

Towards the end of the feast, when everyone was getting full, the queen called for some entertainment. Appearing on the platfrom at the front of the hall was the great composer Toadofsky, who would direct the Mushroom Kingdom Orchestra in his piece, "Moon over Yoshi's Island". The music was enrapturing. All of the people in the hall soon began to fall into a near-trance from the eerily soothing notes...

Two hours later, everyone snapped out of their hypnotic state. Toadofsky and the orchestra were nowhere to be seen. Peach was puzzled at the occurrence, and turned to Mario to ask him what he thought of the incident.

Two seconds later, a scream loud enough to be heard in Water Land came out of the room, shocking the people huddled around the palace. When security forces burst into the room to find out what had happened, they found Peach, white as snow, in shock, holding a note. She was taken immediately to the Mushroom Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Toad, the current Prime Minister of the Mushroom Kingdom, spoke to the police about what had happened. They showed him the slip of paper that Peach was holding, apparently blank. He looked at it, then around where Peach was sitting. He found nothing but a small puddle of spilt wine.

"All the same," he said to the policemen, "you should take it to the lab along with this paper for testing. I'll be along shortly, but I'll need to get Mario and Luigi together to help with this mystery."

Toad was disturbed by the scene. Something was truly wrong, but he was unable to pinpoint what was the matter. He went over to Luigi, who was cowering in a corner of the room.

"Who's that?!" the green-clad plumber yelped.

"Calm down. It's just me, Toad. Where's your brother?" Luigi turned around slowly, and looked relieved to see Toad.

"I don't know. After the whole thing with Peach screaming, I just ran away and stayed here. I thought it was Bowser again."

"Well, let's go find him."

They asked some nearby guards if they had seen him, but to no avail. In fact, not a single person in the room had seen him since Toadofsky's performance. Toad soon came to suspect Toadofsky of some foul play, as it was after his departure that Mario went missing. Later that evening, a Mushroomian clad in a lab coat and thick spectacles walked into the room.

"I'm looking for Prime Minister Toad," he said.

"That's me," replied the little Mushroomian.

"I came because this was too important to act through middlemen. National security is at stake here. You'll need to come with me to the Mushroom Bureau of Investigation's headquarters. Also, bring Luigi. It's important for him to hear this."

Luigi and Toad followed the scientist outside and into a waiting van. When they reached their destination, they got out and went into a secret entrance to the MBI laboratory. There, they were presented with the note and the wine that were found at the crime scene.

"First of all, you may address me as Dr. Shitake. I run the crime lab here at the MBI. Recently, some of our agents retrieved these pieces of evidence. After running some tests, I have found some important information that may explain tonight's events. First of all, this note you found is indeed blank."

"Why do you call it a note if there's nothing on it?" asked Toad.

"Well, that brings us to the 'wine' you found. In fact, it is a special chemical known as trihydroglycerophosphoric carbonate, sold commercially as 'Shout-Out'. It was first invented by the Koopaling Ludwig von Koopa, and it later came to be popular among spies who needed to get rid of incriminating messages quickly. It is an ink which, when exposed to any abrupt, loud burst of noise, will fall out of the paper and drop on the ground, turning red."

"Is there any way of figuring out what was originally written on the message?" inquired Luigi.

"Theoretically, no, but in 1712 a flaw was discovered in the molecular formula of trihydroglycerophosphoric carbonate, leaving an ion trail where the ink was originally written. When exposed to a burst of ultragamma light, these ions react, glowing the original message. Since ultragamma light is extremely hazardous, we will have to read the message from a separate chamber. If you will step this way..."

Dr. Shitake led the two to a different room. They were told to don shaded goggles and heavy concrete aprons.

"These will protect you from any escaped rays that may penetrate the casing. It rarely happens, but sometimes these ultragamma rays are too strong, so we have to be careful."

After they had all their gear on, they went into another room with a small viewing window and a large computer screen. Dr. Shitake left the room and reappeared inside the chamber the viewing window looked into. He placed the note on a small pedestal and returned, closing the door tightly.

"I'm now going to turn on the beam. It takes more than a hundred Starmen to generate the power necessary to produce such powerful beams, so it may take a while." The doctor turned on the computer and pressed a button. All of the lights in the building flickered and went out.

"It takes all the power here to get enough energy, so we'll have to wait in the dark and watch." For more than half an hour, the laser beam gathered energy. Finally, the computer blinked, saying it was ready to produce the required frequency beam. Shitake hit another button, and a loud rumbing could be heard. At the same time, the note began to glow.

"Now, I'm going to take a snapshot of the note from a camera inside the chamber, so we can look more closely at this note." An image appeared on the screen, and everyone in the room looked at it.

"It's nothing but a mess!" complained Toad.

"That's because the ink ran down the paper, leaving streaks where it hit. However, we can analyze the ions to see how long they were on each part of the paper, and we can eliminate the areas where ions have appeared more recently. We can also determine when the note was written." He punched a few more buttons, and the image was wiped, leaving a coherent message. Toad and Luigi were taken aback, staring at the screen with their jaws open. Shitake, his back to the image, continued explaining to the other two the intricacies of his science.

"The message you see here is what the queen read, and probably the cause of her panic. I'm sure, though, with Mario around, we can easily..." He saw the note.

On the screen, in large, bold letters, were the following words:


"Okay, this isn't good," said Toad.

"Not at all," said Dr. Shitake.

"What are we going to do?" Luigi gasped.

"Well, we'll need to find out who these Five Magi are," pointed out Toad.

"Indeed. I'll access the database right now," said the doctor.

Luigi started to cry.

"Don't worry! Everything'll be all right," comforted Toad.

"But... but... I..."

"Found it!" shouted Shitake excitedly. "I haven't had this good of a mystery since the Cold War of 1657!"

"Well, can it, because this is serious," Toad scolded.

"I'm sorry. Here's the details you're looking for. This is classified material, so be sure not to say anything about this to anyone else."

The computer spoke, "The Five Magi. Classification: DELTA 8-7-B. For your eyes only.

"'The Five Magi' is the common term for the five highest-ranked Magikoopa wizards in the Koopa Troop, excluding the Chief Wizard Kamek. The names of these Magikoopas are not released by the Troop, and their identities are extremely well-kept. Each one is in charge of one of the five major branches of the Troop: the Royal Goomba Army, the Royal Koopa Army, the Royal Cheep Navy, the Royal Boo Army, and the Royal Piranha Army. Each is referred to by the title Master, followed by the name of the branch he commands. For instance, the Magi of the Royal Goomba Army is known as Master Goomba.

"Each of the Five Magi resides in a stronghold somewhere in the world. Although official details are sketchy, intelligence has gathered evidence that they are spread out among the five major continents. Master Goomba is somewhere on this continent, Master Koopa is in Dinosaur Land, Master Cheep is in Sub-con, Master Boo is in Hyrule, and Master Piranha is on Kong Island.'

"End transmission." After a long pause, Toad finally spoke up.

"It seems that the only way we'll be able to save Mario is by defeating those five Magi people."

"B... but..." stuttered Luigi.

"Stop being such a scaredy-cat, Luigi! Honestly, what's gotten into you? You've faced Bowser lots of times before!" At this, Luigi began to cry again. "What is it?"

"I... I... I..."

"You what?!"

"I... don't know. It's just..."

"What? You're scared?! Suck it up! We're going out to save your brother! Let's hit it!" Luigi moped out of the room.

"Geez, Toad," said Shitake, "you don't need to be so harsh on the poor guy! His brother just got kidnapped."

"Yeah, but he's a grown man. He needs to get some confidence in himself and stop being a baby." With that, Toad bounded out of the room.

"Wow!" exclaimed Luigi. "I get my own adventure!"

"Yeah," replied Toad. "That's why I told you to get out here! I wanted to surprise you. Peach and I have been waiting for an opportunity to use this. And look! You get to have three more characters!"


"Here comes one of them."

On cue, the former king of Sub-con approached.

"I'm here," grunted Wart. "Now where's my cash?"

"You'll get it after we finish," replied Toad.

"No! We agreed- half now, half later."

"Fine, here you are." Toad gave the overgrown frog a sack of coins, which Wart greedily pocketed. Just then, Lakitu flew overhead.

"Hi, guys! What's the matter?" he asked.

"Mario's been kidnapped, and we need some help to get him back."

"WHAT?!" shouted Wart. "I didn't come along to save that moron! You just told me you wanted some characters for a new video game. If I knew I had to save that idiot, I wouldn't have come along in the first place!"

"Well," said Toad, "if that's the case, I need all 200 of those coins back."

"Eep..." Wart was out of work, and he needed some money to pay for food. "Fine... I guess... But don't expect me to do more than I have to!"

"Fine then. Hey, there's the last one!" A tall figure appeared from a warp pipe and walked over to the quartet. "Here's the fifth member of our team- Bill Clinton!"

"Huh?" asked Luigi. "What's he doing here?"

"Well," started Clinton, "this is mostly an advertisement for my new talk show that's coming out on NBC back in the Real World. Also, it's a chance to get away from Hillary's nagging voice for a while. She's always calling and checking in on me for some reason."

"Well, that's everyone!" said Toad. "Let's start our adventure!"

"So, that's the world map?" asked Lakitu.

"Yeah," said Toad, "I know it's not very detailed, but it's a start."

"How many levels are there per continent?" asked Luigi.

"I think there are eight levels each, plus a castle, so we need to get going if we're to win in three days. And there isn't a save feature, so we have to play straight through."

"Where do we start?" asked Clinton.

"Well, generally we start where we are now."

"Which is?"

"Uh... didn't you play SMB3?"

"No, but I think I've heard of it. That's the one where you have to fight this turtle guy, right?" The other four fell down in frustration. "What?"

"Never mind. We start here, in Grass Land. According to this map..."

 "... we need to head to the tip of Water Land."

"That should be easy," said Luigi.

"Well, it does, but I found out we have to beat seven 'guardians' and retrieve seven 'magic crystals' in order to break the seal on Master Goomba's castle."

"Sounds like a cheap ploy by the programmers to get us to go out of our way to do all this stuff and boost the level count," remarked Wart.

"Well, nonetheless, we have to do it if we are going to save Mario."

"Fair enough. Let's get going!"

"Hey, wait!" said Lakitu as the others were running off. "It says here in the instruction manual-"

"You actually read that thing?!" interrupted Toad.

"... that we have to 'choose a character' before each level."

"Why?" asked Wart. "We're all going to be travelling together!"

"I guess it's because they couldn't get all five of us on the screen at once, so we have to choose a 'lead character'."

"What system is this game on?"

"I think it's on the NES."

"That's not fair!" whined Luigi. "They stuck my game on an NES cart! Now nobody'll play it!"

"Well, there's always Super Mario Advance 4," said Toad.

 "Well," said Clinton, "since I haven't played video games before, I guess I should warm up on the easiest level."

"That's a good idea," said Toad.

"Well, I think he's just trying to chicken out of those harder courses," Luigi stated defiantly.

"There's the pot calling the kettle black," laughed Lakitu.

 "Okay, we need to get into that fortress and beat the guardian inside. You think you can handle that, Bill?"

"Doesn't look too bad." Clinton leaped onto the starting pad and began his journey through Grass Land. After leaping over a set of block-like platforms, he came across a Goomba.

"Ahh! Monster!"

"That's just a Goomba," said Toad. "Even Luigi isn't afraid of that! Just stomp on it."

"Okay..." He braced himself, leapt into the air, and came down on top of the Goomba, flattening it into the ground. It scuttled away into a nearby bush. "Yay! I did it!"

"And you got 100 points for it, too!" pointed out Lakitu.

"Now what do I do?"

"Well, try to collect the power-up in the ? Block nearest to you." Bill went over to the left and hit the block. A coin came out.

"Was that the power-up?"

"No, I think the programmers screwed around with the locations of all the items. Try the others." He hit the other three, but only coins came out.

"No luck."

"Well, just go on with the stage." Clinton hopped over the Venus Fire Trap and continued on to the next area, where he found a Hammer Brother sleeping on a pile of blocks.

"What's this?"

"Shh..." whispered Luigi. "It's a Hammer Brother. It's sleeping, so it may not notice us if we pass by quietly." Unfortunately, Clinton had already gone over to the armored turtle and poked it childishly. The Hammer Brother awoke with a start and growled at Clinton. In reply, the former president picked it up and hurled it back at the Venus Fire Trap, knocking both out.

"I guess you can defeat enemies here like in Sub-con, by picking them up and throwing them," Toad commented.

"If you had just read the manual..." sighed Lakitu.

"Well, I just hope there aren't any vegetables around here," said Wart. As luck would have it, Clinton then hit a P-Switch...


"I'm getting fed up with this, and it's only the first level!"

Off went Bill Clinton on his trek through Grass Land. After dodging a few more Goombas and Koopa Troopas, he found a large pipe that went into the ground. Hopping down it, he found a mineshaft filled with more enemies, including Snifits, Ninji, and Bullet Bills.

"Yay... when does this end?"

"Well," Toad said while looking at the map, "it appears we are in 'Underground Land', the area beneath the Mushroom Kingdom where all warp pipes go through. To get back into Grass Land, you'll have to get to the pipe at the end of this tunnel."

"Which is...?"

"That way." Toad pointed to the right, where a large green pipe headed upward could be seen.

"Good. At least this'll be eas-" Just as Clinton spoke the words, a massive barrage of Bullet Bills came from the left. "Run for your life!"

Just barely missing the Bullet Bill barrage, Clinton hopped into the green pipe and warped back to the surface. "Phew! I hope the other guys made it all right."

"Hey, Bill! How was it?" asked Lakitu, who was already outside the pipe, as were the other three.

"How did you all get out so fast?"

"Remember, you're the selected character, so if you make it out, so do the rest of us. Now hurry up! We've got to get to that castle quickly! You've only got about 150 seconds left."

"Until when?"

"Until you die!"


"Yeah," said Luigi, "didn't you know? If that timer in the corner runs down to 0, you lose a life and have to start the stage over."

"Oh! I'm off then! Anything but this again."

And off he went across the rickety bridge that led to the last part of the stage. After dodging a number of flying Cheeps, he managed to make it to the fortress grounds.

"All those flying fish gave me a headache. Anyone want to take my spot?"

"No!" said Lakitu. If we do that, then we'll be breaking the rules!"

"Who cares?!" shouted Wart. "This Bill guy can barely stomp a Goomba without breaking a sweat! I'm taking over." So Wart entered the fortress to find nothing but a black room with a brick floor.

"Is this all that you had back in the original SMB? Geez! The graphics are pitiful!" He continued walking, smushing a few Goombas that got in his way. Then, he came to a lava pit. "There has to be a way to get across..." Then he spotted a brick hovering above the fiery magma. "Aha! I'll leap to that block." And leap he did. Little did he realize it was a note block, and his head went crashing against the ceiling.

"Youch! What was that for?" Simultaneously, a vine grew downward from the block into the lava. "Why's that vine doing that?"

"You idiot!" shouted Toad. "That vine was supposed to grow upwards into a bonus room! Now we can't get to it. You were supposed to use that moving platform to get over the lava!"

"Oh, sorry." He rubbed his eyes and turned to face the next part of the fortress. "Whoa! That's a  lot of enemies!"

 "Yeah, well, you got us into this mess, now get us out of it!" replied Luigi. Luckily for Wart, however, one of the Koopa Paratroopas had bumped a ? Block, releasing a Fire Flower.

"Hey, hey! You're mine!" As Wart grabbed the glowing flower, his cape turned red to signify his newfound ability. "Hey, you!" he shouted at one of the Paratroopas. "Come and get some!" The Paratroopas, unable to turn around, bounced themselves into the lava pit. "Aw, dang. No points. I guess I'll have to take this guy out instead," Wart said, pointing at the giant Piranha Plant in the pipe above him. With a skillful puff, Wart blew a fireball at the vicious weed, causing it to disintegrate into a cloud of smoke.

Wart continued like this for the next few seconds, avoiding the nearby Stretch and fireballing some hapless Goombas. Every now and then, a few hammers would unexpectedly fly out of nowhere and attempt to hit Wart. "I guess I'm nearing the boss."

Suddenly, the music changed into a rapid, tense rhythm reminiscent of the SMB Bowser tune.

"Boom Boom?" asked Lakitu. "With all those hammers, I expected a Hammer Brother for sure."

"Naw," said Boom Boom, "I took up carpentry over the last few years while I've been out of work. Now Nintendo says they want my hammering skills."

"Really? You'll have to teach me sometime. Spiny eggs are nice, but sometimes I like a little variety."

"Yeah? Well, if you'll visit me in a little while, I can hook you up."

"ENOUGH!" shouted Wart, spitting a fireball at the turtle.

"Oh, great. I was hoping I wouldn't have to fight this time..." sighed Boom Boom.

So an epic battle took place, with Boom Boom tossing hammers and Wart spitting fireballs. Okay, it only took about 30 seconds, but Wart came out the victor.

"Yay! I win!"

"Whatever," retorted Boom Boom. "I let you win because it's in my contract. At least for this level."

"Still, I won! Where's my mystic crystal?"

"Uh, well, we couldn't afford them, because we were on such a tight budget..."


"... but we have something else for you in that room over there. To open it, just take that axe." So Wart took it.

"It's not working."

"Oh, I guess it's because the bridge is stuck. Hold on." Boom Boom went over and hit the other end of the bridge with a hammer a couple of times. This unstuck the lock on the other side, causing it to retract, dumping him in the lava.

"There you go!" Wart watched the door slide up and walked into the chamber beyond, where he found a closed bag. After a little frustration trying to untie the knot, he just burned it down with one of his fireballs.

"But I'm not Luigi."

"Well, we couldn't afford to make personalized messages. Deal with it."


"Probably not."



--- THE END.

Back in the Lemmy's Land executive suite...

"So, what do you think of the idea?" asked the eager Crispy.

"Uh, it stunk," said Lemmy.


"It took more than eight pages to do JUST the first level! There's no way we can do the other 60! Besides, look at your ratings." Crispy looked at the ratings list, only to find that his Fun Fiction got only 1.2/2 for males 18-35, and even lower for the other demographic groups.

"And, on top of that, it isn't funny!"

"Well, I can make it better..."

"No. It's finished. Try something else. You can always make another Survivor. You can't go wrong with reality."

"But I don't like Survivor."

"Deal with it. If you're going to work here, you've got to produce GOOD work. If you don't, you're history. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Now run along while I mercifully put your little abomination out of its misery." Crispy went out of the room, pouting. "Oh, what I have to do to get good writers these days..."

Read on!

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