The next day, Dawn prepared herself to die. She had cried the previous night until tears couldn’t come out anymore. She was scared, but determined to be brave.
She strode out of her cell when her guard said, “Dawn? It’s time.”
Dawn nodded her head and followed her guard into a large, gray room with a chair. Well, she thought to herself, this is it.
She sat on the chair. As though she had pushed a button, Sledge Brother after Sledge Brother marched in. Ludwig did, too. He marched up to Dawn and tied her to the chair.
“So, Dawn,” he said, “you say that you know about Mario’s secrets. Is that true?”
“What on Earth does that have to do with my execution?” Dawn snapped at the Koopa King.
“Oh, nothing. Just answer the dang question.”
“Yes, though I don’t know why you want to know.”
“Uh… hello? I’m a Koopa.”
“No…” said Dawn, sarcastically.
“Tell me why I don’t need to know vital information about Mario?”
“You know how Peach has a small habit of whacking Mario with an umbrella?”
“Well, one day, she went a little crazy with that and… well… she pretty much mauled Mario. He got a few really bad infections and died. Ever since, Daisy has been busy spending time with Luigi. The two spend a lot of time coaxing Peach out of her room. Word has it that Peach has vowed to never touch the umbrella that she used. That was the last thing I ever heard about Mario.”
“Well, that explains a bunch!” Ludwig said as he untied the ropes that bound Dawn to the chair. “You’re free to go.”
“To your mother’s hou-“
“NO.” Dawn’s response was very firm. “My mother doesn’t care about me. She wouldn’t have cared if I died.”
“How do you know?”
“When I was five and a half, this big, scary guy threatened to kill me. I told my Dad and Mom about it. Mom accused me of lying. Dad said that I needed to stay close to him…
“A few days later, I was at the park with Mom and Dad. The man was there… He had a gun or a knife, or something like that.” Tears began to well in Dawn’s eyes as she relived the painful moment. “He… he saw me. He said, Hey! Aren’t you that kid who dropped yer soda on me? He was really mad. I think I had red soda and it stained his shirt or something like that. He aimed the gun… I think that’s what he had. At the last second, Dad leapt in front of that bullet and, well… died on the spot. Mom didn’t cry at all. She’s heartless.”
Dawn ended her sad tale. She saw the Koopas there crying. Dawn felt a little bit awkward around all of the sobbing Koopas, but she felt as though she had won their hearts. She knew it was true when Ludwig quickly wiped the corner of his eye. “All right then, Dawn,” he said. “We will find something for you to do here.”
Dawn nodded, ready to work. Serving the Koopas was better by far than going back to live with her mother or dying.
For the next three days, Dawn did many chores: laundry, room cleaning, babysitting, and helping Karma cook. Four days after her execution date, Dawn had nothing to do but roam the Kastle halls. She passed a pair of double doors and heard voices. The nine-year-old pushed her radiant red hair behind her ear and pressed it against the door.
An aged voice spoke first. “Well, you’re… uh… Yoshine-”
“Don’t even try, Kamek,” snarled a voice that sounded like Karma’s. “Just call me by name.”
“Okay, Karma,” replied Kamek. “I have three solutions for dealing with Ms. Dawn.”
It’s just Dawn, you idiot, thought Dawn.
“First,” continued Kamek, “we could send her into exile.” Kamek paused as if to let what he said sink in. “Second, we could kill her. Third, we could send her to her mother’s.”
A masculine voice spoke up. “I vote for exile.”
“Now, listen here, poofball,” snapped Karma. “I don’t know how, but this kid is gonna have a big impact on us. For better or worse, I don’t know. In the meantime, I’m going to show Dawn her new bedroom.”
Dawn heard Karma’s footsteps approaching the double doors, and was off in a flash.
Karma found Dawn in the foyer, reading a book. Karma glanced at the title. “Island of the Blue Cheep Cheeps?”
Dawn nodded her head. “This is such a good book! It’s like this book I read on Earth. It was called Island of the Blue Dolphins. The only differences between these two books are that there were humans on the island instead of Koopas, wild dogs instead of wild Goombas, and dolphins instead of Cheep Cheeps. And, now that I think of it, the author was Scott O’Dell, not Scott O’Compaq.”
Karma smiled. “It sounds really good! If you follow me, I want to show you something.”
Dawn grinned, slid a bookmark in the book, and followed Karma to Dawn’s new room…and what was soon to be a new destiny.
To Be Continued...
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