CHAPTER 1: DEAL WITH THE DEVIL
"You have journeyed far, Fingle; come, sit." A large, muscular hand waved from out of the shadow of a throne to a chair nearby.
The invitee bowed. "Thank you, my Lord Bowser."
"No, no, just call me Bowser," a kind voice from the darkness assured. "I take it my attendants have seen to your needs upon your arriving?"
"Yes, my Lor... yes, Bowser. Excuse me."
The mighty koopa rose from his throne and strode proudfully to the vacant chair adjacent to his guest's. "It's quite all right." Bowser held out a tray of delicacies particular to Toads toward his guest and smiled. "Something to eat?"
Sheepishly, the Toad replied, "No thank you. If you prefer, Bowser, I'd like to discuss what I've come here for."
With raised eyebrow and smooth voice, Bowser said, "Ah yes. The matter of our agreement. What exactly is it you wish for in exchange for your most needed services?"
The Toad was silent, hesitant to answer. The image of the huge creature before him was more than he had expected, for he had never seen Bowser in person. His eyes also had adjusted to the darkness of the room. He could now see the great love for luxury, power, and strength his new master had. Everything was of the finest materials, and yet it was so dark that the king’s trappings could hardly be seen save for the flickering of light upon them from the torch-stands spread sparsely throughout the room.
"Well?" Bowser continued. "Don't be afraid to answer."
"I want power."
"Hmm, yes. Don't we all? The very idea of it is intoxicating, is it not?"
"Yes. But there's more."
"Oh, do go on."
"I want respect. I want wealth, and slaves, and a room of females at my call."
Bowser chuckled to himself in his low guttural voice. "My, I was not aware that Toads were desirous of such things."
The Toad become nervous and began stammering over his words. "If, if it's too much, I-I-I, don't have to..."
"Relax, relax. All those things and more come with the power you seek. Just fulfill your sworn duty to me, and all shall be yours," the Koopa cooed.
Bowser stood up and walked to the back of the nervous guest’s chair. He placed his huge hand on the Toad's shoulder, nearly covering his entire body, and said ever so friendly, "It's so easy. Never let the princess, my Peach, out of your sight."
Bowser was silent for a moment before his voice sank into bitter irritation. "More importantly, though, never, ever, let those two accursed Brothers slip out of your view. You are to know where they are and what they are up to at all times."
Bowser realized his angry grip on the Toad’s shoulder was too tight for the creature to bear, and quickly let up with a half-hearted laugh.
The wide-eyed Toad answered back with only, "I understand."
"And don't forget," Bowser's voice lowered as he spoke into his guests ear, "if you ever have second thoughts about our little agreement, or if I am ever to contact you and you do not know where those three are or what they are doing, not only shall you lose all I have promised you, but I shall expose you as the traitor you are. Yet more importantly, you shall die by my hand the next time I pay the Mushroom Kingdom a visit. Understood?"
The Toad said nothing, immovable with fear.
Wearing a smug grin while piercing the Toad’s terror-struck mind with his molten red eyes, Bowser slowly said, "I know you do."
The king slowly walked back to his throne amongst the shadows while the Toad sat motionless with his back to him.
"Now be at your task!" the Koopa barked.
The Toad jolted
and then slowly slid off of his seat and hurried for the door, never turning
around to face the mighty king. As the guards opened the throne room doors,
he heard Bowser's mocking, pleasure-filled voice echo from across the chamber.
CHAPTER 2: UNSEEN STRIKE
It was a fine day in the Mushroom Kingdom. The sky was a sharp blue, the weather was perfect, and everywhere plants were in bloom. Yet at the local plant nursery, an interesting topic was being discussed.
"I just don't understand it! Everything grows fine but a few things," spouted a stressed Toad who had a farm on the outskirts of Toad Town.
The nursery keeper asked, "Oh, like what?"
"You mean you haven't noticed?"
"Not really, no."
"On my farm, I grow a wide variety of plants. I also grow the special items that are stored in the local armories in case Bowser decides to attack us again. You know, to help us, or should I say, to help Mario and Luigi, in their battles against that Koopa creep?"
"Oh yes," replied the nursery owner. "The vines, Fire Flowers, and different kinds of Mushrooms."
The farmer, only too happy to complain about his lot to a listing ear, replied, "Oh yes is right. Supplying these things is a heavy responsibility to the princess, and for some reason, those three things are what I am having trouble growing. They're sickly, yellow, and weak. The leaves just crack off, the vines lay limp on the ground, the Mushrooms are black, and the Fire Flowers don't even bloom! And that's if I can get any of them to grow in the first place!"
A third party had now joined the conversation and said, "I can see your plight. But don't they already have all those things in the armories? It's been, what, almost five years now since we have heard anything from Bowser? I mean, our spies have reported nothing unusual from Bowser's Dark Land in ages. So what's the worry? I'm sure Peach will understand if you’re having a little trouble growing a few things."
The farmer felt a little irritated at this newcomer’s ignorance of basic plant knowledge and yet was in a nursery. But he let it pass because he realized he was only trying to make him feel better.
"Yes, I'm sure the princess would be understanding if it was that simple, but these particular plants don't stay alive that long. I am constantly growing these three items to replenish the armories as older plants die off. And now that my crops are failing, the armories are almost depleted because I- and any other farmer who grows these things- don't have anything to replenish them with."
The storekeeper butted in, "Yeah, but like my friend Fingle here said, Bowser hasn't done anything in years. What are the odds of him doing something this season while you are having a difficult time? Just relax about it." They were silent for a moment so he went on, "Say, you wouldn't happen to grow all of these things next to each other, would you?"
"Well, yes. But I don't see why that would matter. The different species don't adversely affect each other," the farmer replied.
"True, but what if the land they're all on is depleted of nutrients? That might explain a thing or two," the storekeeper said.
The farmer sighed. "Yes, I thought the same thing too. But like I said, this is happening to farmers all over the Mushroom Kingdom. I thought that it might be some kind of virus or disease that was going around. But farmers who are on the other side of the Kingdom and who haven't come into contact with one another are reporting the same problems. So it can't be a virus."
"Strange," said Fingle.
"Strange indeed," replied the farmer. "Oh well, just load me up with a few loads of plant food. Something’s gotta work."
The storekeeper, not wanting to foil a sell, simply replied with, "Yes, something’s gotta work."
Meanwhile, high above the three Toads on the ground and amidst the peaceful clouds, a sinister work was taking place.
"How is it preceding?!" yelled a deep, gruff voice.
There was no answer, for the crew of the great glass airship, the Pellucid Poisoner, was hard at work.
"Your king demands an answer from you simpletons!" shouted Kamek.
The crew of Koopa Paratroopas halted in fright as the Paratroopa Commander made his way quickly to Kamek. He bowed and quickly reported. "Forgive me, Kamek. It goes well. So far, we are on schedule with the dumping. With any luck, the other seven ships commanded by the royal children are doing well also."
Pleased, Kamek replied, "Very well. Back to your post, Commander."
Kamek walked back to Bowser, who sat upon a glass throne, and said, "It goes well, my Lord. Everything is on track."
"Excellent, excellent," nodded Bowser.
"My Lord," Kamek went on, brimming with pride, "this was an excellent idea. Dumping poisoned powder specifically designed for a certain few plants… Why, when you attack again, those red and green wretches won't be able to fight back. No help. No fire for defeating your foot soldiers, no vines for climbing and advancing closer and closer to you, no Mushrooms for more life or increased strength and size. They'll just be defenseless pathetic humans."
"Yes, it is a stroke of genius. I'm surprised I hadn't thought of it before."
Kamek continued, "And this," he spread his arms out wide to encompass the view of the vessel, "constructing the airship and its blades out of glass, and dressing us in white and blue garments to conceal our colors so that we could not be seen from the ground! It is brilliant!"
Bowser, gaining great satisfaction from having his ego stroked, purred to himself and said, "Yes, those, those creatures below will not even know what hit them. And Mario," Bowser said as he slowly shook his head from side to side, "he won't be able to come to the princess' rescue this time. Finally, the scourge that plagues us will finally be removed, and a dark chapter in Koopa history will be undone! Yes, finally, I, and I alone, shall rule this kingdom, and then, all of Mushroom World. There will be no one to stop us this time!"
Kamek, filled with even more pride and awe, stood tall and said, "Success, my Lord!"
Both were now
silent, one swimming in pride, the other awash in vanity. The only sound
that could be heard now was that of the transparent blades spinning overhead
and the pouring of great quantities of poisoned powder onto the ground
CHAPTER 3: A STEP CLOSER
Fingle hurried home from his late-night meeting with the princess, for he was late for his scheduled report to Bowser. Stumbling over his stone walkway, he threw open the door, and before lighting the house, he quickly drew all of the curtains. The only illumination to be seen was a pale blue glow that shone from a small, flat, polished piece of black stone that Kamek had given him and that was sitting upon a desk. Fingle took the seeing stone up into his hands and poured water mixed with a magical concoction upon the black rock, and Bowser's image slowly appeared, as if through a fog.
"You’re late," barked Bowser.
Fingle breathlessly replied, "Forgive me, Lord. My being late is actually to your benefit."
Bowser, too intrigued by Fingle's news, checked his anger. He raised an eyebrow and leaned back in his throne. "How so?"
"Well, I have just received a promotion from Princess Peach herself. It seems she appreciates my hard work in her service, so she promoted me to a Senior Adviser to the Throne. As such, I am now granted access to information that I was not privy to before."
Trying to hide his excitement, Bowser said, "Such as?"
"Such as the locations of our hidden armories. Not only do these contain what weapons we have in defense against you that Peach has recently acquired, but they also contain all of the Stars that Mario uses for invincibility!"
"This is good news, Fingle. Is that all?" Bowser asked.
"No, my Lord. Among other things, I also know the schedules of people of royalty in other kingdoms as it concerns our own."
Bowser sat up in his throne and asked, "Like Princess Daisy?"
"Yes. Her and many others."
Bowser leaned back again into his throne and smiled. "Excellent. Just excellent." He paused for a second, then went on. "Fingle, do you know where Daisy is at the moment?"
Happy to please his master, Fingle replied, "Yes. In fact, she and Yoshi are coming here in four days for a visit with the princess."
Bowser began to laugh. "Daisy and Yoshi. Not only do I have plans for Daisy, but Yoshi! Now I can capture that little green rat and do with him as I please for all he has done to me."
Not knowing what to say, Fingle simply replied, "Yes, my Lord."
With a pleasure-smitten face, Bowser said, "Fingle, report back to me as soon as you can about Daisy and Yoshi, and then report back to me at this time tomorrow concerning the locations of the armories with the Stars. Those must be taken out if I am to have complete victory."
"It shall be as you wish."
"You shall be greatly rewarded for this, Fingle," Bowser promised.
"Thank you, my Lord," replied a proud Fingle.
Tired of pleasantries, Bowser decided to end the conversation. "Remember, as soon as possible about Daisy and Yoshi…"
With that, Bowser's image faded away into the haze upon the black stone and his face was gone. Fingle sat alone again in the dark, pondering his chosen course.
Three days came and went, and Fingle was in his first high-profile meeting with the princess and others, when an official burst through the doors and exclaimed, "Princess Daisy and Yoshi have been abducted!"
A gasp went up through the room. Standing from her seat, Peach demanded, "Who did this? Was it Bowser?!"
Dismayed, the official replied, "We don't know. There was no sign of him or any of his followers. The guards that were escorting them say the only thing that they saw was a blinding light and clouds of billowing smoke. A voice issued from the clouds and said, 'No more shall my will be contested as I live! Soon you and all your kind shall bow before me!' Amidst the confusion, they lost contact with Daisy and Yoshi. They said that once the light was gone and the smoke cleared, they were gone."
"Oh, this is terrible," cried Peach. She stood silent for a moment, and then said, "Quickly, send out our forces through all of the Kingdom in search of them." Sitting down and regaining her composure, she turned to her advisers. "What do you think we should do? Fingle, what would a fresh mind such as yours have to say about this? Where should we concentrate our efforts?"
Fingle's eyes became wide as beads of sweat accumulated on his forehead. He felt as if her question meant that she knew of his collaborations with Bowser. "Princess, I don't see any reason to suspect Bowser. He and his land have been quiet for some time now. And besides that fact, this isn't your typical Bowser attack. He didn't leave a trail of evidence like he usually does, nor any of his minions behind. I say we shouldn't put Bowser out of our minds, but we should use our resources to look elsewhere."
Much to Fingle's relief and surprise, the other members of Peach’s council concurred.
"Then it is agreed. Councilmen, get to it."
As the members of the meeting separated to go about their new task, Peach approached Fingle privately. Laying a delicate hand on his shoulder she said, "Oh Fingle, I'm so sorry this had to happen before the banquet in honor of your promotion. I hope it doesn't put dampen the festival."
"Thank you, Princess," the Toad responded. "But, perhaps it will be a good thing. After all, Mario and Luigi will be there. We all know what a big help they've been in the past, maybe they'll have some ideas for us."
Peach looked down
at the floor and nodded, "Yes, I hope so."
CHAPTER 4: REVENGE
Before Bowser stood his first seven offspring, as if troops called up for inspection.
"My heirs, for many years I have waited for this moment. No longer are you children. You have put aside your immaturity and embraced what it means to be a ruler."
Bowser was silent as he stood, chest out in pride, gazing at each of his children in turn. "Finally, we shall capture the Mushroom Kingdom as our own, and destroy those vile Mario Brothers. Many times I have tried, and yet failed. However, with age comes wisdom." Bowser pointed at one of his children but they knew the message was intended for all. "Don't ever forget that."
Bowser continued, "It has been almost two weeks since our capture of Daisy and Yoshi, and the time for our attack has come. So, it is now with great pride that I gift you something to aid in our fight: your own glass airships."
The seven smiled and looked at each other, then turned their attention back to their father.
"Iggy, I grant you the Punisher.
"Morton, I grant you the Destroyer.
"Wendy, I grant you the Malice.
"Ludwig, I grant you the Iron Fist.
"Lemmy, I grant you the Vengeance.
"Roy, I grant you the Devastation.
"And Larry, I grant you the Hostility.
With each name, Bowser would hand his children the symbol of authority over their respective vessels, taken off a velvet pillow held aloft by a slave.
His children thanked him each in turn; and after the pleasantries had dispensed, Bowser continued, "Now here is our plan of attack. I regret to inform you that I could not tell you before; we just could not take the risk of our plans getting out. In two days, Princess Peach will be holding a banquet in honor of our little helper, Fingle. Mario and Luigi will be there, and that is when and why we shall strike. Myself and a fleet of airships will descend upon them and take them by force. You, my children, will each take your airship with others to the locations of the Mushroom Kingdom's armories. At the fifth hour from the setting of the sun, exactly, you are to bombard first, not the armories, but the watch stations, and then destroy all ways out of each town. This will prevent word from getting out that there is an attack. Then, destroy the armories. Make sure there is absolutely nothing left!"
Morton spoke up. "But Father, if all of our attacks are to be coordinated at the same time, then why does it matter if word gets out? Will you not you be starting at the same time as well?"
Bowser responded. "Good question, my son. But, no, I will not be staring at the same time as you. As you are aware, my power in dark Koopa magic has grown much over the years. I'm going to use it to make my entrance, not only to frighten them, but to conceal our arrival, for I will not have any glass airships with me. Koopa magic can sometimes take time, so I need to have absolute surprise."
Bowser's children grinned with delight.
"Then," their father continued, "when you have finished with the armories, land your fleets and deploy your troops. Send the cannon fodder first, the Goombas. If they are destroyed, it is no great loss. Once they have worn down the population, though, send the armored Koopatrols out. They are to show no mercy. Instruct them that anyone who does not swear ultimate allegiance to me, is to be put to death on the spot. They are to preserve alive all those five years of age and younger. Their minds are young and can be molded to love their new masters. This time we shall have success!"
Again his children were smiling, only more widely this time.
Bowser walked the steps up to his throne and turned to face them before sitting. He opened his arms to encompass his children, and said in a mighty voice, "Pillage, plunder, burn down and destroy! Take what you wish! Show no mercy! At last, what is theirs shall be ours, and we shall reign supreme!"
In the eyes of his children, faced with the image of the huge beast before them – his arms outstretched, between massive stone pillars backed by his grand imperial throne and with torch stands that cast a glow up upon him - he appeared to be as a god towering over lesser mortals. This was impressed all the more so as he slowly sat down and clutched the ends of the armrests as the soft sound of a gong repeatedly crashed. This sound ceremonially ended all audiences with the king.
It was the night of the banquet in Fingle's honor, and a heavy and foul mist enshrouded all of Toad Town. Many of the guests were late, for they could not find their way to Peach's castle as they were blinded by the vapors. Yet, inside the princess' palace, the air was clean and the ballroom well lit, but a thick cloud of uneasiness hung over those inside.
The formalities had ended, Fingle was honored, and everyone was milling about on the floor as glasses chimed together and festive music flowed from the musicians.
A lighthearted laugh came from a group of four conversing. "Oh Mario, don't you think Fingle is just so funny!" Peach laughed as she playfully slapped Fingle on the arm.
"Princess, you’re too kind," Fingle responded. "It's good to see you laugh again."
Fingle's remark quickly darkened Peach's mood as she recalled Daisy and Yoshi. Her mood became serious as she looked at Mario and Luigi. "As you know, Daisy and Yoshi have been abducted. We don't know who it was, but, I was going to ask if you two could help us find them. You are the best we have in the, hmm," Peach quoted with her fingers, "rescuing business."
The Brothers smiled. "Of course we'll help."
"Oh, thank you so much." Peach bowed gratefully.
"And besides, it's probably Bowser," Luigi quipped. "We've beaten that imbecile so many times before, it'll be a piece of cake!"
"Let's hope so," replied Fingle. But wanting to get the attention off of Bowser, he happily said, "Speaking of cake, let’s go get ourselves some."
Mario readily agreed. "Now that sounds-a like a plan!"
"My Lord, we shall be over Toad Town in five minutes."
Bowser stood at the wheel of the airship, staring off into the distance. "Excellent, Commander. Take the helm."
Bowser walked to the edge of the bow of the ship, where Kamek was waiting for him. "Are you ready, my Lord?" he asked.
"Yes. Let us finally remove Mario's shadow from over us," Bowser replied.
With that, Bowser and Kamek both lifted their hands through the thick clouds that they had made to conceal his fleet. As they uttered a long string of words, their voices in harmony, a thick gloom formed over Toad Town and slowly descended upon it. "Now they'll be blind in the dark." Bowser smiled.
Bowser slowly walked up to his throne upon the highest level of the deck and sat in dark thought of what was to come. His imaginations of malice was interrupted when the acting commander strode up to him and reported, "My Lord, we are in position over the princess' castle."
Bowser sat down. "Good, begin the attack."
As Peach, Fingle, and the Brothers made their way to the banquet tables for their sought after treat, a low droning noise interrupted the party. It was heard by all and increased ever louder. No one knew what to do; they all stood, staring at each other in fear. Above, the chandelier began to sway back and forth as the noise began to vibrate and shake the building.
"Mario," cried Peach, "what's going on?!"
Mario's answer never reached the princess' ears, for the sound of his voice was drowned out by an enormous blast of thunder that shook the entire hall. Terror-stricken, everyone bent their backs and threw their hands above their heads. The force of it was so great that the foundations of many structures were split and the windows in all buildings were blown out into the streets.
Shrieks and panic arose as the great glass dome of the ballroom was shattered and its razor-sharp pieces fell in on those below.
The great crashing of thunder continued as streaks of fire began to rain down from the sky. Their terrible sound ripped through the air as they smashed into the ground, forming a ring around the castle and making escape impossible. Chaos was added to mayhem as the sound of a mighty war horn was sounded over Toad Town, and a great and terrible voice ushered forth from the shredding thunder, echoing over the entire valley;
"I AM BOWSER!
FROM THIS DAY FORTH, YOU SHALL SERVE ME!!!"
CHAPTER 5: RECKONING
Toad Town was being leveled as comets of molten fire continued to slam down from the sky. The fog was gone, blasted away by the thunder that began the attack, and all could see the source of the destructive malice. Bowser stood on the bow of his great airship and hurled streaks of lightning down from his great paws. The sound of his laughter echoed over the valley as he struck down random individuals and toppled buildings with his dark Koopa magic.
All but a few of Bowser's armada had landed, and the Koopatroop had deployed. They burst into the houses that were still standing and, seizing the cowering Toads inside, demanded allegiance to their new Lord. All who did not do so were run through on the spot. A few brave citizens fought back, but they were no match for Bowser's trained and ruthless Koopatroop.
A terrible voice bellowed from above, "Seize the castle! Bring me those whom I demand!" A special squadron of Bowser's soldiers poured out of a grounded airship at the sound of the king's command. They quickly extinguished a small section of the fire that was raging around the castle in order for them to enter. The same that was occurring on the outside, was not going on inside. Shrieks, panic, bloodshed... Many tried to flee, but only met the edge of a sword. Those inside, being closest to the princess, refused to swear allegiance to Bowser; it was their end. The dance floor became a crimson lake shimmering in the light of newly started fires within, climbing the walls along the banners of the princess.
Those whom Bowser wanted alive were now hostage, inside the ascending airship from where the Koopatroop deployed. This was Bowser's sign that they had been captured; the air attack ceased.
The prisoners were taken bound and chained to Bowser's personal airship, wreathed in smoke and painted with an orange glow from the valley below. They stood, beaten, bloody, and tattered, before the great iron doors that led into Bowser's throne room. The ceremonial gong sounded, and the doors slowly opened.
There before his throne stood the terrible beast that had wrought such terrible destruction upon the peaceful town, smiling arrogantly. At his side was his youngest son, and at his feet, a scantily clad Princess Daisy and a chained Yoshi.
The captives were pushed into the room, and as they were led closer to the bottom step that ascended to his throne, the imperial horns sounded and a voice cried out, "Bow down now, to the Great Demon King Koopa, Lord Bowser!"
All in the audience chamber knelt to Bowser upon bended knee, except for a defiant Peach, Mario, and Luigi. The Koopatrols slammed them in the back of the legs with their pikes and forced their submission.
Bowser took his seat. "Rise," he commanded. All did so but the three, who remained on their knees.
The king sat silent for a moment, staring with an arrogant look at his prisoners. The three were silent, gazing back with hatred-filled faces.
The princess’ anger burst forth. "How dare you attack us? How dare you murder the people of this valley? Just who do you think you are?! I demand to know why who have done this to us again!" Peach was cut off as Bowser raised his hand to silence her.
"You are in a position to demand nothing, Princess. However, I shall answer your question. I do it because I can, and because it gives me great pleasure to do so."
Of course Peach knew what his answer was going to be, yet she was still shocked into momentary silence. Then she noticed Daisy clutching to Bowser's leg. "And Daisy, you're the one who took her!" She fixed her attention upon the smiling woman at Bowser's feet. "Daisy, I'm so sorry. We'll find a way out of this."
Bowser laughed. "A way out of this? Who says she wants a way out of this? She loves being at my service, don't you, Daisy?" Bowser pet her hair.
She looked up at him smiling and said, "Of course I do, my King." She looked at Peach. "I would never want to leave you."
Peach demanded of Bowser, "What did you do to her?!"
"What I'm going to do to you. One way or another, Princess, your heart and mind will belong to me, even if it takes a bit of supernatural persuasion," Bowser replied as his youngest son handed him the magic wand he was holding.
"Control my mind with anything you wish, Bowser; I will never love you!" Peach defiantly shouted.
Bowser laughed as if slightly amused. "We'll see."
The king's attention was now drawn to Mario as he spoke up. "You won't get away with this! We've beaten you before, we'll do it again!"
Luigi chimed in, "You're such a fool that we can take you anytime, anywhere!"
Bowser's fury was ignited by Luigi's insult. He leapt out of his throne and paced up to Luigi and screamed, "Fool, am I?!" He struck Luigi on the side of the head, sending him flying into Peach. His anger subsided as it passed through his arm into his victim, and he made his way back to his throne. "Fool? I'd ask, who are the ones taken prisoner as their city burns? No, this time I have taken precaution. A fool does not learn from his mistakes; I have. Before I would have simply taken the princess and waited for you two Brothers to arrive, aided by all your shiny little weapons. But not this time, for at this very moment my seven children are striking all of your armories where you have stored weapons for use against me. You'll have nothing to harm me with. And the sickly plants? I gladly accept credit for that as well. No, a fool does not think ahead."
Peach was astonished. "How did you, of all creatures, know where those were?"
"Oh, you mean you don't know? I had a little helper." Bowser waved with his hand to bring him in.
The three were silent, shocked. Peach, though, was hurt badly, as if run through with a dagger. "Fingle, you? How, how could you? The people trusted you." Her eyes began to well up with tears. "I trusted you."
Before Fingle could respond, Bowser replied, "Because he was not satisfied with your pathetic existence. He wanted more than a sad town full of Toads could give him, and so he came to me and offered his services for a reward." Bowser looked over at Fingle, and said in a proud voice, "And now Fingle, it is time for your reward." He looked back at Peach. "Princess, do you remember my old doomship?"
"Of course I do," she replied with bravado and disgust.
Bowser looked back at the Toad. "Well Fingle, this is your reward. You get the doomship, and all the riches and luxury you wish for." Bowser paused for a moment, trying to hide a sinister smile. "And you will spend eternity with it in the grave."
Fingle was confused. "Excuse me, my Lord, but what do you mean?"
Bowser replied, "I hate traitors. They cannot be trusted. If you so quickly betrayed your own kinsman and those who love you, who is to say that you will not do the same to me? And besides, do you really think I would let a Toad have any power at all? I despise you creatures! Therefore, you shall die."
Fingle became panicked and began to plead with Bowser, dropping to his knees. "Please, my Lord! I only wanted to serve you!"
Bowser commanded his guards, "Take him away and strap him to the front of the doomship and crash it into the castle." He fixed his attention on Fingle again. "You will have all of the wealth and luxury you want there, forever."
An explosion of shouting and weeping filled the room as they hauled Fingle away. Peach, although hurt and filled with anger toward her former servant, began to cry and curse Bowser for his cold-heartedness. Mario and Luigi vehemently joined in.
As the noise continued, though, they did not notice Bowser slipping on a strange, glove-like device onto his hand. All of the fingertips on the device were gold. Connected to these by gold threads was a round precious stone, red in color, at the center of his palm. It was held in place by beaten sheet gold that wrapped around the top of his hand and forearm.
Growing increasingly angry at the shouting and insults being hurled toward him, Bowser charged toward the three and backhanded Peach in the face. She fell upon the floor, dazed but conscious. Mario and Luigi became all the more enraged and increased in their verbal threats. Bowser growled at Mario and said, "I've wanted to do this for a long time..." He held his hand with the device on it aloft and it began to glow. An orange and red beam of energy, twisting and turning like silk in the wind, emanated forth from the stone in his palm and shot into Mario's forehead, causing him great pain. He began to grit his teeth and scream in agony as blood ran out of his nose and ears. Feeling the blood of his enemy trickle into his hand caused Bowser to growl deep within himself from great satisfaction.
Luigi was still shouting at Bowser, and so quickly, Bowser grabbed Luigi by the throat and squeezed, while not letting his gaze nor torment off of Mario. Luigi lost consciousness and collapsed in a heap, and Bowser shook his hand as though he was holding something profane and wished its stain removed. The terrible king now placed his free hand around Mario's throat and lifted him up while the beam of searing pain continued to burn into his mind. To both of them, time seemed to slow to a crawl. Bowser held a desire for the moment to never end, whereas Mario could sense only sheer dread for his situation.
The whistling of a quickly descending object filled the room, and moments later, Bowser's ship rocked from the blast of the doomship colliding with the castle below. Bowser was snapped free of his desire to murder his foe on the spot, and released the beam from Mario before it killed him, then hurled him across the room. Mario slammed into a wall and lay motionless under and a pile of the king’s banners that fell upon him.
Bowser stood for a moment, breathing heavily before sitting upon his throne again, saying nothing.
that Fingle was dead and having witnessed the torture that had just taken
place, only lay upon the floor, weeping quietly. "You're a monster, a monster…"
CHAPTER 6: ESCAPE
Several months had passed since the great attack upon the Mushroom Kingdom. Order, albeit a tyrannical order, was now being returned to its inhabitants. Bowser remained, though, for some time in his newly acquired territory, inspecting, drawing plans for new structures to his glory, and delegating authority to his children.
He stood over the great chasm where Peach's castle once dominated the skyline, instructing his slave laborers on the specifics of his new summer palace. His attention was drawn away from the architectural plans by a great explosion coming from his personal airship some distance away. He stood still in silence, as did the others with him, watching his flagship descend in flames. Its impact was hidden by a large hill, yet the cloud of fire was clearly seen ascending from it for miles, and the trembling earth was felt almost as far.
Mario, Luigi, and the princess were still being held captive in the bowels of Bowser's airship. The three were hardly speaking, made silent by hopelessness and hunger.
"What do you think Bowser is going to do with us?" Luigi asked.
"I don't know," Mario faintly replied. "I just don't know…"
Silence again permeated the holding cell for some time, and then...
"What was that?" Peach asked as she sat up. "It sounds like a fight is going on."
The sounds of scuffles, shouts, and the clang of steel against steel grew ever louder until at last its source was revealed. Daisy and Yoshi were fighting their way into the prison cell, cutting down the guards with decorative spears stolen from Bowser's personal room. The last guard was standing, poised to attack, when Yoshi spun around and struck the guard in the face with his tail and Daisy ran him through while he was still dazed. They turned toward the three in the cell.
"Daisy!" cried Peach, "I don't understand."
"Bowser's mind control spell isn't permanent like he thought it would be. It wore off some time ago, and I've been pretending like it still had a hold on me, all the while secretly plotting how to get us out of here and waiting for the perfect time to act."
"Oh, that's wonderful!" Peach cried as they hugged each other through the bars of her cage. "Now get us out of here," she smiled, wiping tears from her face.
Daisy replied, "Right, the keys. Which guard had the keys?"
"They're over-a there!" Mario pointed to the empty cell next to theirs. "They must have been knocked in their during your fight. But no one can reach them. Wait! Yoshi, grab them with your tongue!"
"He can't," said Daisy. "As punishment for the many times he helped you to defeat him, Bowser cut off his tongue."
The three gasped and Peach's eyes began to water as she shook her head. "I'm sorry, Yoshi."
"Well, what do we do?" asked Luigi.
"This," said Daisy as she tied the two spears together and proceeded to fish the key out. "Well, now that that's done, let’s get out of here," she said as she unlocked their cell.
"Umm, how? We’re still in the air and there are more guards above us then we can possibly hope to defeat."
Daisy smiled. "Don't worry about a thing." She pulled out a Bob-omb from a pack she was carrying, as well as a rather large piece of cloth. "We’re going to blow a hole in the ship and use this," she laughed, "Bowser's bedsheet, as a parachute. So quickly, everyone, tie a corner piece around your arms so that you don't lose your grip."
Peach asked, "What about Yoshi?"
"Yoshi gets this," Daisy said as she pulled out a small, blue Koopa shell. "With this, he'll sprout wings and can safely fly down. Now, are we ready?"
The three nodded in agreement.
"Let's go then!" Daisy said.
She wound up the Bob-omb and tossed it against the anterior wall of the cell as the five hid around a corner for shelter. Shards of wood and metal flung past them as an explosion ripped a hole in the ship. The small Bob-omb ignited a cannon packed with explosives on the outside of the ship, causing the entire vessel to lunge straight up before leveling off again. All aboard were tossed about as rag dolls.
Regaining her balance, Daisy shouted, "Now! Let's go!" They all ran in unison and leapt out of the ship, holding tight to their makeshift parachute, which struggled to stabilize. Hearts racing as they plummeted quickly, they gazed intently at the sheet above them, which refused to open. "C'mon!" shouted Daisy. "Open!"
The ground was approaching quickly; they looked around at each other, knowing that this was their end. The earth was nearly at their feet when they were suddenly jerked upward. They looked up and said together in sweet relief, "Yoshi!" The winged dinosaur smiled as he carried them safely away and out of Bowser's immediate reach.
Bowser stood over the smoldering remains of his once great flagship, furious. He pounded his fists into a large rock that jutted out of the ground, smashing it to dust. "They got away! They got away! How dare they defy me in this manner? And what do you mean the magic wore off on Daisy?! It was supposed to be permanent!"
"I- I am sorry, my Lord, I don't know what happened!" replied Kammy.
Bowser pointed at her in his vehemence, "You! This is all your fault!" He raised his arm across his chest to strike her, when he was interrupted.
Bowser spun around to the Koopatrol, "What?!"
"My Lord, we've found them!"
"Excellent! Have a squadron of tanks and Koopatrol pursue them. And bring me my Copter. They shall pay dearly for their insolence."
For several days
Bowser's forces hunted them down. Great flashes of light and thunder could
be seen and heard on the horizon by many far away, as the tanks fired and
Bowser and Peach battled each other using their magical skills. The ground
beneath them groaned and shuddered, and the surrounding lands were broken
and the shape of them remade from the violence of their battle. Many brave
residents of the Mushroom kingdom aided them in their flight, and many
more died. Yet at long last, the battle was lost for the five. Peach and
Luigi were again caught, and the other three fled into the forest nearby.
CHAPTER 7: PRIDE IS BEFORE A CRASH
For months Mario, Daisy, and Yoshi were pursued throughout the Mushroom Kingdom, aided by various strangers but betrayed by others on Bowser's payroll. Times were tough for the three. Both Mario and Daisy pined for their loves in Bowser's grip, their minds in anguish every day, not knowing whether or not their mates were worse off than they were. Yet they still plotted on, determined to save their loved ones.
If only they could get close to Bowser.
All was well between Bowser and his new throne queen, Peach. The mind-controlling magic seemed to have worked this time, and permanently. The Mushroom Kingdom was transformed into the main territory of the Koopa Empire outside of Bowser's own Dark Land. Everywhere stone structures and edifices of solid marble went up to Bowser's glory and that of his family. The flags, standards, and symbols of the Empire stood everywhere, a stark contrast of red, black and white when hung against cool gray marble.
Together, the emperor and his faithful empress ruled all of what used to be the Mushroom Kingdom in single-minded strength, unity, and power. No one dared defy them.
That is, until...
"Mario! Daisy!" shouted a local in whose house they had taken up lodging. "It has been announced that Bowser has ordered all non-essential personnel to attend his grand Imperial Triumphal Parade in the Imperial City."
Mario raised his eyebrow. "So, why is this such exciting news?"
"Because," their host replied, "if everyone is going, there will be nearly 150,000 citizens attending. You can easily slip in disguised amongst the crowd and try to rescue Peach and Luigi."
"Now that is something to get excited about," said Daisy. "When is it?"
"In two weeks."
Horns rang out, cymbals clashed, and drums rolled as the Imperial Triumphal Parade got underway. Tens of thousands were gathered to the right and to the left of a long and straight pathway that led to a grand stairway of one hundred steps. Atop sat Bowser's majestic throne, flanked by symbols of state, monolithic pillars with the tops crowned with bowls of fire, and the Eagle of State, larger than life, above his throne. Immediately behind the stairway stood the face of the temple where Bowser commanded that all should worship unto his glory. To the right and to the left stood buildings of equal height and make, yet smaller than the temple: the Halls of Administrative Judgment and Punishment.
As the music sounded, the audience roared in applause and cheer; some for fear, and those, citizens of the Dark Land, nearer to the front, for joy.
The parade avenue was adorned with columns to the right and left topped with golden images of the royal family. Rose petals and confetti began to rain down from the great marbled buildings on both sides of the cheering throng. And with this, the golden chariot of Bowser and his queen began its ride forward down the avenue. Bowser's heart was proud, as his inflated chest and outstretched arm with scepter in hand plainly showed. Peach, by his side, waved and blew kisses, evidently enjoying this as much as her king.
Behind followed his children, each in their own chariot, preceded by a standard bearer. Ludwig, the most majestically dressed, was the first, as he was the heir to the throne. Behind each of his children was a long line of former high officials, bound and fettered to each other, along with plunder that each had captured during their attack upon the once great Mushroom Kingdom.
The Koopa family long desired to be worshipped and adored as gods, and finally, their time had come.
Bowser reached the bottom of the grand stairway. His standard bearer led them up the sweeping staircase. Bowser took Peach's hand and escorted her up. Once atop, he waited for his children to reach the bottom of the staircase, where they remained. He glanced down at his children with a look of approval and pride for his progeny, and then, pounding his closed fist over his heart and raising his arm, he gave the Imperial Salute.
"Hail!" his mighty voice roared.
The crowd three times responded so loudly that it felt as if their thunderous voices would shake the marble structures into dust. "Hail! Hail! Hail!"
The music started again, and his eight children ascended the stairs to their father. They took their stations, four to the right of their king and four to the left.
A few steps down from the throne, a square cut could be seen that encompassed a small part of a few stairs. The stairs within this cut slowly dropped, moved aside, and in its place a marble podium arose. Bowser descended it and began his speech.
Somehow, and with all the luck in the world, Mario, Daisy, and Luigi made it through the gauntlet of Koopatrols and into the bowels of the building of Administrative Punishment. The three had ducked and woven their way through, trying to find the holding cell in that building, for they knew that Bowser intended to present Luigi for execution in front of the teeming masses.
They found where he was- so close and yet so far away. His cell was guarded by a horde of Koopatrol. They fell back and came upon a large supply of Bob-ombs not far from the holding cell.
Mario nodded. "Perfect. Just one of these will be enough to take out some of the guards and stun the rest."
Mario wound it up, and rolled it into the chamber of the holding cell with a cry intended for Luigi to hear so he would conceal himself. "It's-a me! Mario!"
Panic ensued, and in the commotion the explosive was kicked out of the room and down the stairwell, past the three and straight to the bottom, resting adjacent to the supply room full of Bob-ombs. Wasting no time, the three would-be rescuers fled down another passage that opened up into the stairwell. The last sound they heard was the shouts and clanging armor of the Koopatrols as they pursued them, and then...
The Great Demon King Koopa, Lord Bowser, stood under the sun and continued his proud and moving speech. His queen, his children, and indeed the very surroundings all flashed with a spellbinding brilliance of gold, silver, and the most precious of stones. They seemed to be as gods standing above lesser mortals.
The awe-inspiring moment was shattered by two explosions, one small, and an instant later, one massive. Upon the right side of Bowser throne, the face of the hall of Punishment was shorn off and blasted outward. Molten fire screamed forth and overcame the gray cloud of dust that preceded it. Two massive stone columns behind the staircase toppled and fell upon the four Koopa children on that side. The crowd became a frenzy of trampling beasts letting out their shrieks of terror. The king’s eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open as his children disappeared from sight.
All save Bowser were laying upon the ground from the concussion of the blast. Some began to stand up, in a daze and ears ringing, barely able to comprehend their surroundings. Bowser ran a few steps forward to his buried children, but paused for the obstruction of dust that still hung in the air. His eyes darted back and forth, waiting for the first hazy silhouette of one of his children, when at long last, the smoke finally cleared.
Two of his children were picking themselves up, veiled in robes of blood, but alive. He noticed the other two, laying nearly on top of each other, motionless. One was face up. Bowser grabbed his shoulders and shook. "Lemmy! Lemmy! Lemmy, wake up!" He wouldn't respond to his father's voice.
The other, clinging to life like the last snowflake in winter’s thaw, rolled himself over. "Father…" whispered Bowser Junior.
"Junior," Bowser's shaking voice replied.
"Father, I have failed you. I'm not strong enough to..."
Bowser cut him off, "No, no." He put his hand on his son’s face. "No son of mine is not strong enough."
and clasped his father's hand on his face and closed his eyes. His son's
grip weakened and failed. The crowd was still in a panic, but Bowser heard
nothing. He cradled his two lost sons in his arms and bent over them in
such painful agony that he felt as if his heart would leave him that moment.
CHAPTER 8: END GAME
Amongst the wreckage still scattered about burned the funeral pyres of Bowser's two sons.
All of the king’s remaining children were with him as well their biological mother and her family plus close friends of the royal Koopa clan. They were surrounded by a large crowd of Bowser's subjects, there to view this solemn assembly.
As the fire engulfed his children above him on their pyres, Bowser spoke to them as they were carried away in twisting ribbons of smoke and ashes. "My sons, pride of my being, I promise you this: where you fell, they shall fall. I shall build your tombs upon their crushed bodies."
Ceremonial gongs repeatedly crashed, softly and slowly. All raised their right arm in the Imperial Salute toward their fallen princes.
Luigi watched from nearby, chained to a stake, with his limbs and neck bound tight; his clothes were worn and tattered; cold and wet, he was waiting to die.
"Bowser has issued an order demanding that we show ourselves to him within three days or he will publicly execute Luigi. And he's already been bound to that stake for several days with no food or water while exposed to the elements. If we show ourselves he will surely kill him anyway, and then us! I just don't know what to do!" Daisy sobbed
All in the house where they had taken refuge were silent, staring at the floor, hopeless, knowing this was their end: no more fun adventures, no more certainty that the heroes would come out the victors.
Mario sighed and shook his head as he looked at Daisy. "What else can we do? If we sit here, my brother dies anyway. If we go, we might have a chance..."
Daisy laughed. "A chance, a chance? Are you kidding me? Mario, look around! We are completely on our own here. We have nothing to help us fight against him."
"Would you condemn him to death then?! At least if we go we could have a chance at doing something!" Mario snapped back.
Daisy felt a pang of shame and guilt, and cast her eyes to the floor once more.
"Beside, look what I've got." Mario produced a small item that lifted the spirits off all in the room to nearly that of outright joy.
"Where did you get that?!" cried Daisy. "That may be all we need!"
Mario smiled. "Yes, I know. Now, read me," Mario sarcastically quoted with his fingers, "Lord Bowser's Imperial Order."
Daisy laughed as Yoshi handed her the order. She unfurled the roll and mockingly cleared her throat. "It says: 'By order of the Emperor, the Great Demon King Koopa, Lord Bowser. The fugitives, Mario, Daisy, and Yoshi, are to show themselves in the square of the Halls of Administrative Justice and Punishment three days from the issuance of this notice. They are to be given free passage through all of my realm. No servant of mine is to capture them nor impair their journey to me. If the three in question do not show themselves by the third day, Luigi and Peach shall be publicly executed on the spot.'"
Mario sighed heavily. "Well, three days, it says?" He smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Shall we visit him sooner?"
Bowser sat concealed in the shadows of the marble columns with his hands clasped, staring in contemplative ponderings at Luigi across the square as he waited for his enemies to show themselves. He had been there for two days now, rarely moving, immersed in thought.
Peach sat at his side. She reached over and ran her finger's through his hair. "My love, do you really think they'll show?"
Bowser's gaze did not break from Luigi, "They will show." He breathed out heavily and whispered to himself, "They have to show." A smile curled his mouth.
The sound of metal jewelry clanging together, the trappings of princes, and the thuds of heavy footsteps echoed through the columned halls. Roy and Ludwig appeared their father. They both saluted him and then Roy spoke. "Father, Mario and his accomplices have been spotted heading this way."
Bowser sat forward in his throne. "Where?!"
Ludwig answered, "Not far from here, my Father. Perhaps an hour's journey avay."
The lord leaned back. He smiled with great satisfaction. "I knew they would come."
His two sons let their father revel in himself for a moment before pressing him. "My Father," said Ludwig, "vhat shall ve do? Vhat are your instructions?"
"Your instructions, my children? You and your other siblings are to keep your patience until they are well within the confines of the city. Then I want you all to assist in the capturing of Daisy and Peach. Lead Mario to me. You must not fatally harm him."
His sons nodded in agreement. They saluted him and Roy said, "Success, my Lord!" He was followed by Ludwig, who bowed his head and mildly spoke, "Success, Father."
Peach only looked at her husband with an approving smile.
"It's-a awfully-a quiet around here," Mario said softly.
The three walked through the glistening beauty of the Imperial City, their eyes wide as they admired the surroundings and watched for enemies.
"This feels like a trap," said Daisy.
Mario laughed. "Of course it's a trap."
"Do you really think Bowser will execute Peach too?" Daisy knew, but for the sake of relieving stress asked anyway.
Mario knew why she had asked and so answered her. "I don't think so. Remember, she was what he was after all these years. And now that he's got her under the control of his mind-altering dark Koopa magic, she's not going anywhere, and I don't think he's in a hurry to change that. But you never know what a..."
Mario was cut short by a sinister laugh that rang through the cities’ avenues. The eyes of the three darted back and forth, searching for the source.
Mario knew who it was and from where it came. He spun around and pointed to the roof of an ornate building. "Morton!"
Morton laughed again before returning the gesture. In a voice of disgust and a snarl to match, he said, "You! I'm surprised you cowards had the courage to show your lowly faces here. You have but one chance to surrender. Bow before your prince and beg me for mercy and I will consider showing it."
Indignantly, Daisy replied, "Or what? You'll talk us to death?"
Morton laughed within himself and said, "Talk you to death? Hardly, my princess, although your death will most assuredly be involved. Now witness why the Koopas shall always reign supreme over the Mushroom Kingdom!"
Morton curled his arms in front of him and clenched his fists. His eyebrows furrowed and his mouth was curled. He raised his arms suddenly into the air and as he did the ground below did the same. Huge spires of rock came jutting and twisting out of the ground with every upward thrust Morton made.
"Mario! Mario! He's trying to separate us!" Daisy shouted. Mario could not hear her for the roar of the earth, but he knew what Morton was attempting to do, and he cursed the Koopas’ ability to use magic in such a dark way.
Yet, however strong Morton's mastery of dark Koopa magic was, Mario's will was stronger. Somehow he kept ahead of Morton's advances, leaping and bounding to and fro, when suddenly great claps of thunder were heard.
The greatness of the thunder alone was terrifying, yet through it another sinister laugh could be heard. With his hands raised high, and standing beside Morton, Larry was calling forth lightning from the heavens and commanding it towards the three.
Now they had him. Mario could outmaneuver rock but not light that was there in an instant and gone in the next. Everywhere he ran it was there waiting for him, waiting to sear the air and burn his eyes into near blindness.
Mario could hear the laughter and the taunts of Bowser's other children around him but did not know where they were. He could barely see. In front of him were only flashes of white and the pink and black spots repeating themselves over and over again in his vision from his burned eyes.
He was separated, blindly stumbling around and waving his arms out in front of him. "No!" he thought to himself. "This isn't possible!"
He was knocked from his feet, and as he lay on his back, all he could see was the immense figure of Roy walking menacingly through the exploding rock and light towards Daisy and Yoshi. He held out his hand in a feeble and useless attempt to reach them. Roy struck them both, sending them into unconsciousness. Mario's outstretched hand drew into a fist as Roy flung them over his shoulder and carried them off.
A swift kick from a Koopa's clawed feet sent Mario flying. He crashed into the ground, his chest bleeding from a punctured ribcage.
He crawled a few paces before coming to rest against a piece of earth that had been forced from its place below. He stared at the ground and noticed many feet come into view. He looked up and Bowser's heirs were standing there in front of him, filling his sight.
They gazed down upon him with satisfied faces, bleeding with contempt for their defeated foe. Iggy backhanded him, his claws slicing into Mario's face; he slid against the wall into a heap on the ground, eyes closed.
"Fool." said Ludwig, as Wendy spat onto his face.
Bowser sat in his throne wrapped in shadow, listening to the battle taking place, pleased with his children and pleased with the soon-to-be-outcome of his enemies.
Mario awakened in the same spot. It was evening now, and though in a haze and in pain, he wasted no time in gathering himself. He could hear the screams of Daisy through the streets. He chased after the echoes that bounced off the corridors and small passageways of the city, knowing it was a trap to lead him to Bowser alone.
He found himself at the opening of a long and narrow passageway. Shrieks came from its opposite end. He knew he shouldn't go any further, but the sound of Daisy's lamentation was too much for him to bear, so he stepped forth. Not more than ten paces into the corridor, the entrance behind him collapsed. Iggy's voice shouted from over the rubble heap. "See you on the other side, Mario." Laughter of his brothers and sister joined his.
He knew now where this very dark passageway led. Yet he went forth, until at long last he came to the other side.
Stepping out from the night-enshrouded passageway, he almost went blind from the illumination now before him. Great torches stood before him, encircling the square where Bowser had commanded him to be. When Mario was finally able to fully open his eyes again, he saw the destruction he had caused and that resulted in the death of Bower's sons. And there, on a platform, in front of the nearly collapsed building of the Hall of Administrative Punishment, were Luigi, Daisy, and Yoshi, all bound together upon the stake and showing pronounced signs of brutal torture.
Mario quickly gauged his surroundings. He scanned the makeshift arena, complete with an audience of Bowser's children encircling him high above so that the light from the immense torches was cast up upon them, creating sinister shadow creatures against the backdrop of marbled structures.
And there! There was Peach! After months of being deprived of her smile and the sound of her voice, she was in sight. "I'll save you, my dear," he thought to himself.
But all thought of plans and strategy disappeared when Bowser stepped out from the shadow and appeared as a towering god behind Peach.
Bowser stood for a moment, gazing down on Mario as a creature to be most pitied.
"I've been waiting for you, my friend," he said with a growl.
"Have you now, my Lord?" Mario retorted as he bowed in jest.
Bowser, amused, let out a small chuckle. "Mock if you must. But now you shall pay for the death of my sons."
"They got what they deserved. Those evil, murderous things of yours! They..." Mario realized his folly.
Bowser's full hatred was ignited. He raged and shouted and raised his head and let out a mighty blast of fire that engulfed the underside of the colonnade he was under.
He ran from the hall and the flames were pulled after him as a shroud. He leapt into the air and shouted, "How dare you?!" He came down on foot and bended knee, pulverizing the ground below. He swiped at Mario, but missed. Beginner's luck for his foe.
Bowser's rage was too powerful for Mario, and so the battle became a game of cat and mouse. The Koopa King was merely playing with him for his own amusement.
Mario thought that if he could only get close to Peach, he could snap her out of her nightmare, and she could help him to defeat Bowser. Yet every time Mario could risk a glance at Peach, she only calmly sat, legs crossed, with a smile on her face.
The would-be hero glanced back at his friends tied to the stake, and in so doing, tripped on debris and slammed his head into the ground. Bowser charged and scooped him up in his immense hands, which began to glow. "Oh no, this isn't-a good," Mario thought to himself. He had seen Bowser command the lightning from his hands before, and he knew what was coming.
The clouds above them began to swirl in a circular pattern and flash within. Bowser's and Mario's hair were being blown back by a wind seemingly emanating from his hands. They were now face to face, Mario being held aloft.
With a flash, Bowser's hands ignited and great arcs of hot blue electricity snaked from his hands and whipped and cracked throughout the arena, bathing the battlefield in a cold light.
Mario shrieked so loudly that it seemed the inhabitants of the entire city heard him. And his were joined by those on the stake when lashed with shimmering beams of hot energy. His hair began to burn and it felt as if his bones would fuse together. His eyes were shut in agony, but forced open when Bowser grabbed a tuft of singing hair on the back of Mario's head and forced his stare into his eyes.
Bowser smiled and, bearing his teeth, said, "End game, Mario!"
With that he forced a loud and bright explosion from his hands and hurled Mario across the debris field. He crashed into the ground and rolled several times until he came to a stop.
All was silent save for Bowser's heavy breathing and the singeing of Mario's clothes and hair. Bowser turned his gaze from Mario and started to walk away, when an excited gasp from Daisy spun him around again. Mario was still alive. He was shaking and moving slowly, but he was searching for something in his denim blue pocket.
Bowser's furrowed eyebrows became arched when he heard Daisy shout, "Use it, Mario, use the Star!"
As she said that Mario began to glow and flash in a rainbow of bright colors. He stood up tall and ran at Bowser, leaving trails of sparkling points of light behind him.
Mario shouted, "End game, Bowser!"
Bowser only shook his head and said calmly to himself, "No, I don't think so."
He shifted his immense weight toward Luigi, Daisy, and Yoshi. Bowser's chest inflated. The three knew what was coming. They could barely move but they could still hold each others hands, even if awkwardly. They shut their eyes, and Bowser leaned forward and exhaled.
Mario diverted his course in an attempt to reach them. He ran down the side of the horizontal column of fire racing toward his friends and brother. He could feel its intense heat but was unaffected. He put all of his strength into reaching them but the rolling furnace won out.
Mario skidded to a stop and fell to his knees. His breathing fell short and it felt as if his heart stopped. He was too late. The wall of molten flame slammed into them. Mario watched as they were carried away. Only a short cry was heard from them and they were gone. Nothing was left but a smoldering mound. They were simply gone.
Mario remained on his hands and knees, no thought in his mind. He simply stared at where his loved ones used to be only a moment ago.
The Star had worn off and Mario collapsed into the ground. He lay there for a few moments until the soft laughter of a woman that he used to know called him from his darkness. But it was not an inviting call, for the laughter was not warm, but cold.
He brought himself to stand and saw Peach close to Bowser's side, grinning and clutching his arm.
She looked up at her husband. "Quite a show, my dear." She looked back down to Mario. "Now how shall we conduct the grand finale?"
Mario realized that Peach could still defeat Bowser using her magical skills alone. He took hold of the opportunity.
"Peach!" he exclaimed. "What has Bowser done to you?! Look at yourself! You just witnessed the death of your friends by this beast and you’re clinging to him! Wake up! You don't really love him! Remember Daisy! She was under the same spell but she broke through it! You have to fight this, Peach, please fight it!"
Peach sighed and raised an eyebrow. "Fight it? Break through it? I don't love him, you say? Well Mario, do I have a revelation for you." She walked up to him and spoke softly into his ear, "Would you like to know what it is?"
She backed off and Mario only stared at her.
"The truth is, my old friend, that the dark Koopa magic wore off quite some time ago. At first, I did what Daisy had done. I pretended I was still under its grasp so that Bowser would not try it again or have me executed. Yet during the time of my stay with him, I came to know his family, his children, and his way of doing things. At first, I must admit I was repulsed, but in time I came to admire him and his ways, and eventually I grew to love him and his family."
Mario was shocked. He had no words.
Peach walked back to her lord. "So now I am glad my past friends are gone, and that you shall soon join them. No longer am I a dainty helpless princess ruling over a kingdom of cowering Toads. I am a mighty empress at the side of my emperor, my lord, my king, my husband." She was gazing into Bowser's eyes as Mario's were staring blankly at hers.
"So this is really what you want?!" Mario exclaimed.
"Always," said Peach.
Mario, knowing he had nothing to lose, simply sighed and said, "All right." With that he charged her, threw her over his shoulder, and began to run.
"Fool," Bowser said to himself. "Morton!" he commanded. "Remove the ground!"
Morton raised his hands and in the same fashion as before, the ground tore itself apart, yet much more violently this time. Mario was blocked in and Bowser strode over to him and deftly picked Peach off of his shoulders. There was nowhere for Mario to go, yet the ground was still being shorn apart until at last a red hot glow was revealed.
"Ah, lava. You should remember this, Mario, seeing as how you caused me to fall into it and burn all the flesh from my body years ago," Bowser said.
The lava continued to climb higher up the pit Morton had dug out until it was nearly to the surface.
Mario knew now how he was to die.
Bowser lifted up one of his hands in a waving motion and said, "Poetic justice, I would say. Any last words?"
Mario's conqueror was greatly displeased, for he was desirous of Mario to plead and beg for mercy.
"I love you, Peach. I always have," Mario said as tears left clean lines on his ashen face.
Peach drew her sword, put it up to Mario's throat, and made him walk backwards to the rim of the pit. Mario could feel the intense heat searing what was left of his hair and clothes. His eyes cast in agony and sorrow as he looked into Peach's. Yet her smug face only calmly replied, "It's a pity I don't feel the same for you."
She smiled and sheathed her sword and took a few steps back. This was her husband’s moment for revenge, and she let him bask in all of its lust and glory.
Bowser stepped forth and encircled his hand around Mario's neck and lifted him up into the air.
They stared into each other’s souls. Mario felt as if he would burst into flames, not from the heat below, but from the heat of anger and hatred in Bowser's eyes.
Bowser's children were all near to witness their enemy’s end.
"You shall trouble me no more! Farewell Mario!"
With that, Bowser tossed him forward into the lava pit.
Mario splashed into the molten liquid. His back arched, his eyes rolled into his head, and a loud yelp was heard. He instantly ignited and the half of Mario's lifeless body that was still visible above the lava’s surface sank in flames into Bowser's malice and revenge.
Bowser stood over
the lava pit, glaring down with a grin on his face for some time after
Mario disappeared, his arm around Peach and surrounded by his children.
Thus it was that the age of the Mushroom Kingdom and the era of heroes came to its final end.
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