Chapter 7: The New Challenge
Some said that Star Haven was a palace in the sky, others said that it was a central hub all the stars seemed to shimmer upon, and in actuality they were all right, or at least in Mario’s mind they were. This place was a gem, a true sight to behold. The sheer size and the stars shimmering everywhere made the castle look almost unreal.
“This place… it’s magnificent, Geno…” Mario said, lost in the many shining stars.
“It starts to lose its grandeur once you’ve worked here for so long,” Geno lightly chuckled.
“And I thought living in the clouds was amazing…” Mallow said.
“Don’t get too excited, you two,” Geno replied sharply. “We’re here to discuss very important and dangerous matters; we are not here to stargaze.”
“Oh, sorry,” both the plumber and Nimbian replied at once.
“So what’s the meeting about?” Mario asked curiously.
“You will find out in all due time,” Geno replied.
Then out of nowhere, Twink flew in.
“The Star Spirits wish to see you now,” Twink informed and pointed toward two gigantic red doors. “Oh, and no pets allowed.”
At this Yoshi glared and started to growl. “Yoshi is no pet!”
“I’m only kidding,” Twink responded warily. “Go on ahead.”
“Jerk,” Yoshi said as the group walked into the entrance of the red doors.
“What is his problem?” Twink asked himself. “Oh well, back to work.” Twink said as he grabbed some golf clubs.
Meanwhile in the Wishing Well Chamber…
“Ah, Mario, you have arrived!” Eldstar said happily. “Let us begin.”
“You may take a seat,” Skolar said to the guests.
Mario and his group sat down, but Geno chose to stand.
“So what is this all about?” Mario asked curiously.
“First off Mario,” Eldstar said, “we would all like to personally thank you for all you have done for Plit.”
“Thank y-” Mamar was beginning to say but was cut off by Eldstar.
“I didn’t mean we all ACTUALLY personally thank him!” Eldstar chided.
“Oh right, of course…” Mamar replied with slight embarrassment.
“Anyhow…” Eldstar said, continuing his original statement. “We would all like to personally thank you, but unfortunately there is yet another favor we must ask of you.”
“Hmm?” Mario asked, starting to get interested.
“Hey, I did something for Plit too…” Mallow started to complain, but he stopped as he looked at a warning glance from Geno.
“You see…” Eldstar said, trying to think of what to say next, “Plit is in grave danger from both an outside force and from itself. The outside force is caused by a power known as Deathbringer. We don’t know exactly what it is or where it is but we do know this, it is the cause of the stemmed flow of wishes in The Wishing Well as well as many people’s suspicious and sometimes horrific actions.”
As soon as Mallow heard the last part he frowned, remembering Cirrus, his parents, Nimbus Land, and Umbra.
“Yes Mallow, we do know of your ordeal,” Eldstar said, peering over at the Nimbian.
“You do?!” Mallow asked in surprise. Did Eldstar have the power to read minds?
“So this… Deathbringer isn’t allowing wishes to be made?” Mario asked.
“That isn’t nearly half of what we’re worried about!” Eldstar said raising his voice. “You heard what Deathbringer does to people from Mallow himself! If this force is not stopped then it will surely continue corrupting people good or bad, and soon it will turn into an epidemic! If no wishes doesn’t do us in then a giant war surely will!”
“So you want us to stop it?” Mario asked getting now the picture.
“That is correct. Stop the force, save the world, and bring back the original color of the once magnificent Wishing Well,” Eldstar said.
“So this is the quest Geno was talking about…” Mario thought to himself. “So where is this force?” Mario asked.
“We don’t know its exact location, but we do know that its aura is coming from a warp rift on top of Star Hill at the summit,” Eldstar informed.
“Wait, so we’re going to warp to some unknown place?” Mallow asked worriedly.
“That is correct,” Eldstar proclaimed. “But the warp is very dangerous and you will need our help to ensure that you get across safely.”
“Okay, so when should we move out?” Mario inquired.
“Well first you must pass The Tier of Trials, and then you become Champion of The Stars.”
“Ghastly weather, isn’t it?” Toastool asked Peach.
“Yes it is… even still, something about the castle seems even more ghastly…” Peach replied, looking at the dead silent palace.
“Okay, here’s the plan,” Toadsworth spoke. “You go into the castle, sneak into your room, and pretend you have been sleeping this entire time.”
“That’s actually a good idea,” Peach agreed.
“Then I can take care of all the King’s suspicions,” Toadsworth said.
“I just wonder how Mario’s doing…” Peach said softly.
“Princess… he’s MARIO,” Toadsworth said with a forceful reminder.
“I guess you’re right,” Peach finally said after several minutes.
“Don’t worry too much, Princess, I beg of you,” Toadsworth said compassionately.
“Yeah… I’ll try not to… Thanks, Toadsworth,” Princess Peach said.
“That’s funny…” Toadsworth announced in a bewildered way.
“What?” Peach asked curiously.
“I didn’t know we got a new flag…” Toadsworth asked suspiciously.
Peach looked up and gasped in horror because she knew that emblem all too well…
“Sir,” the familiar voice of Lord Crump spoke, “we have an update on the whereabouts of the Starmen.”
“Do you really?” Grodus asked with an evil look on his face.
“Well, some of them…” Crump responded.
“How did you find out?” Grodus asked.
“Well all of the citizens refused to tell me… except this one,” Crump spoke. Once that was said Crump pulled Toad out.
“@$%*&#!” Toad yelled angrily.
“What a rash little Mushroom… man… thing…” Grodus said, trying to think of what Toad was.
“So you decided to betray your kingdom?” Grodus said with an invisible sort of smile.
“Well I did on account of I get 1,244,235,654,644 coffee shavings,” Toad replied. “SO HAND ’EM OVER!”
“You’re willing to betray someone for coffee shavings?” Grodus said, unbelieving.
“Yup,” Toad responded.
“Okay… I’m evil and even I think that’s wrong!” Grodus exclaimed.
“@#$%&*!” Toad shouted.
“Take this idiot back to the dungeon along with everyone else!” Grodus ordered.
Two X-Nauts saluted Grodus by crossing their arms, and then they took Toad by the arms and dragged him away.
“Now Crump…” Grodus said. “Where are the Starmen that that fungus head talked about?”
“Now Mario,” Eldstar spoke. “Are you ready to undergo the Tier of Trials?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be…” Mario mumbled.
“Now Mallow and Yoshi will be your partners and Geno is allowed to guide you. Each one of us Star Spirits will give you a test,” Eldstar said. “TWINK!” Eldstar said, summoning the young star.
“What?” Twink asked in an annoyed tone.
“Explain the rules,” Eldstar said.
“But I was just about to go to the last hole…” Twink said.
“TOO BAD!” Eldstar yelled impatiently.
“Okay! Okay! Okay!” Twink mumbled.
“Okay guys, the rules are that you must complete each challenge and win in order to move on to the next one, you may not ask a Star Spirit for help, you can only get help from your partners, and your guide cannot do all the work for you.”
“You may go, Twink,” Eldstar said briefly.
“All right! Hole in one, here I come!” Twink said happily.
“So Mario, Mallow, and Yoshi, are you prepared?” Eldstar asked.
“Okay, we’re ready,” Mallow spoke confidently.
“Yeah!” Yoshi agreed.
“Then you may enter…” Eldstar said deeply.
First there was a brief earthquake and then steps formed, leading into the unknown below The Wishing Well.
“Good luck,” Eldstar said briefly, and
then the heroes were off!
Chapter 8: Morton’s Mecca
“Lord Bowser,” Kamek called, “Kammy just told me to tell you that the research isn’t working too well… we just can’t get any information… Lord Bowser?”
Kamek looked around the living room just to find it empty. “I swear he was watching his soaps just a few minutes ago…” Kamek shrugged and then went to check the rest of the house.
Anxiety and tension were high as the Koopa family continued their decent down the gritty stairs made of sand. Not one of the Koopas said a word, in fact it was so quiet and intense that if a pin dropped it could be heard. The Koopas didn’t know where the end was due to the darkness, but when Bowser felt cold metal under his feet he knew they'd hit the bottom. All of the Koopas felt it too except for Morton, who made the mistake of thinking they were still descending and tripped, falling flat on his face.
“Ow!” Morton groaned as he pulled his head up from the cold, steely surface. “Give a warning before we stop next time!”
“Wait, Lemmy, I have a question…” Iggy said. “How did you get down here if you ride on that ball?”
“Heh heh heh,” Lemmy chuckled. “Iggy thinks that the world makes sense, so naive…”
“Huh?” Iggy asked confusedly.
“That’s right,” Lemmy replied.
“Am I missing something?” Iggy asked.
“Shh… It’s all just a conspiracy,” Lemmy responded.
“Quiet, you two!” Bowser scolded. “Now help me find a light switch or something…”
“Are you sure there’s a light switch?” Wendy asked, sounding doubtful.
“Hey, there’s metal flooring, right?” Bowser asked.
“Yeah…” Wendy responded, not seeing how this helped with anything.
“Well if they have metal flooring, then surely they’re advanced enough to have a light source.”
“He does have kind of a point…” Larry said.
Suddenly Ludwig blew fire. Although it lasted only about five seconds all the Koopas looked quizzically at Ludwig, but he seemed to know what he was doing for he started walking and felt around a specific area of the wall. Then in seconds sparks flickered and then a pale yellow light illuminated the room.
The room itself appeared to be a study that hadn’t been used in decades. It had a musty smell and was filled with shelves that had a vast collection of books with yellowed pages crammed into them. There was an aged, giant world map that was spread out across the wall and had significant places marked. On one location it had a knife-like pin stuck into the center of it. In the very center of the room was a large, dusty table with some books that were scattered about, and by the table there were many moth-eaten chairs. On the other end of the room there was an ancient fireplace that was covered in soot.
The Koopas scanned the room, looking at every detail with astonishment. All of the Koopalings were thinking the same thing: “When and why was this room created?” The silence was eventually broken by Larry.
“Wait… so you used the fire to see where the light switch was?” Larry asked Ludwig.
“Correct.” Ludwig replied. “But now that we see it, more questions come up.”
Bowser was currently looking through the books scattered on the table, and one in particular caught his eye.
“It-it can’t be…” Bowser said trembling. “Dad’s journal…”
All the Koopalings looked over at their father, who seemed to be fighting back tears.
“You mean that belonged to Grandpa?” Lemmy asked, his mind blown away.
“Kammy!” Kamek called. “I can’t find Lord Bowser anywhere!”
“You searched the entire house?” Kammy inquired.
“Yes, over and over again and he’s still nowhere to be found!” Kamek replied out of breath.
“Calm down, I’m sure Lord Bowser’s just taking a walk or something…” Kammy responded without too much worry.
“The children aren’t around either, Kammy, I think something’s going on!” Kamek replied in panic.
Kammy proceeded to hit Kamek with her wand straight on his head.
“OW!” Kamek yelped.
“Calm down,” Kammy replied.
Then once again Kammy hit Kamek on the head.
“OW! What was that for?” Kamek asked angrily.
“For being an idiot,” Kammy said with a smirk.
“You wanna go?” Kamek asked in a threatening voice.
Kammy clenched her fist and started striding over to Kamek when…
“I’m just kidding, please don’t hurt me!” Kamek pleaded.
“OW!” Kamek wailed as he was hit in the noggin again. “What was THAT for?”
But soon Kamek realized that it wasn’t for fun, but instead to get him to pay attention to an intruder…
“I don’t believe this…” Bowser stammered while he looked through the old journal. “H-he really did write this…”
The Koopalings were stunned, they never knew their grandfather that well but this certainly perked their curiosity.
Bowser started skimming along in the journal reflecting his dad’s past while his eyes became watery. Then without warning Bowser gasped.
“W-what is it, Dad?” Lemmy asked.
Bowser scanned a page that seemed to have caught his interest. The page described Morton Koopa Sr’s discovery of a powerful weapon that had such power that there was no equal. In an instant Bowser remembered his dad’s story.
“So it does exist…” Bowser uttered quietly.
“Vait… vat are you talking about, King Dad?” Ludwig asked with mixed feelings of fear and curiosity.
Bowser started laughing maniacally.
“Are you okay?” Wendy asked.
Then without warning Bowser started grabbing books from their shelves and slamming them down on the table. Bowser opened one that was also written by Morton Koopa Sr.
The Koopalings sat down on the leftover chairs and observed the book with their dad. Then they understood… Their dad had finally thought up of his latest scheme…
Bowser looked down at the notes his dad had scribbled down…
After so many years I have finally discovered the whereabouts of Deathbringer. This has been challenging since it always appears in a different location every thousand years.
“I can’t believe this...” Iggy said, looking through the writing.
Bowser ignored the comment, however, and continued to read on...
It appears the Deathbringer returns every thousand years after its defeat by a hero many millennia ago (refer to “The Clash of Swords” for more info). It returns because there was no force powerful enough to completely stop it, so its evil was merely postponed. Every time it returns, a warp rift is opened leading to the Lost Ages where it lies…
“Inconceivable!” Morton exclaimed.
“Shut up, I’m reading dis!” Roy snorted.
“I didn’t know you knew how to read,” Lemmy said in surprise.
“Oh yeah…” Roy replied dumbly.
“Idiot,” Wendy scoffed.
“SILENCE!” Bowser hissed acidly.
“Yes, King Dad,” all of the Koopalings replied.
Bowser then picked the book back up…
I have indicated where it will appear with the large marking pin on the world map. I will be heading there soon enough… Also I must note that I haven’t been feeling myself lately… like something inside me is taking over… Maybe a good night's rest will solve this. I have to go put my son to sleep anyhow.
Bowser looked at the book where his dad mentioned him. Bowser had an odd sensation in his stomach. Then he noticed that the next paragraph was the last of Morton’s notes…
To my misfortune I have discovered that the warp rift will not open for many more years… I probably won’t even be alive when it happens. I plan on sharing this information with my son so he may continue my work. Also, I have random blackouts… I don’t know where I am sometimes when I wake up… the only thing I know is that I wake up craving this weapon. I can only fear the worst…
Once Bowser finished tears were streaming down his cheeks. He knew that that was the last submission before his dad had died. He also knew that his dad had never got to tell him anything about his secret study or about his discoveries. Bowser then felt like he had another purpose to seek the weapon… to live up to his evil expectations and to finish what his dad had started!
Bowser then looked at the large, knife-like needle on the map. It was hammered into the position of Star Hill Summit…
“By DAD, I know the mystery behind that Warp Rift!” Bowser exclaimed and slammed his fist into the marking needle, making it go all the way into the the wall. “Finally, a plot that can live up to my evil name! GWA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”
The Koopalings were happy that their dad was back in the evil business, and they started laughing with him.
Meanwhile, the flight of a raven was nearly complete…
The raven had gathered important information in order to complete its assignment. The raven had witnessed many things and was eager to tell his report to his master. For some odd reason its master knew how to talk to it.
Then on top of an eerie hill it saw its master and gently landed on his finger.
The raven started to report all of the things it had seen, including the Star Spirits' efforts to interfere and all of the other countless people that were seeking the weapon.
The raven’s master laughed heinously. “Those fools don’t even comprehend what they’re dealing with!”
The raven cawed.
“Yes… so it begins…”
And with that the raven and its master walked away toward the aura of evil…