Super Mario World (Super Mario Bros. 2)

Super Mario World (Super Mario Bros. 2)

A Story by C.M. Waters
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This is the sequel to my well-acclaimed Super Mario Brothers story, where Mario gives into the deeds of the now resurrected Bowser, driven to bring back the Shadow Queen.

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Prologue

          There are many secrets hidden within the Mushroom Kingdom. Some secrets were meant to be revealed. Others were best left hidden, but could not hide forever. We all know that the Mushroom Kingdom was the home of many fantastic magicians over the years, but have you ever wondered where the trend of sorcery began? Originally, the dark forces were nothing more than that as they were used by a vast army of dark sorcerers calling themselves the Shadow Empire, led by a witch who proclaimed herself as the Shadow Queen. They used their powers to spread chaos in order to maintain their reign of order throughout the entire kingdom. But one day, one sorcerer named Merle betrayed this empire and publically murdered the Shadow Queen, taking her place as ruler.

          “It is time to give this dark, chaotic empire a new direction! We must not attempt to spread chaos! We must create a bright future for this kingdom; a future in which my son can grow into without being surrounded by the darkness that now covers the kingdom!”

          That day, the Shadow Empire was transformed into the Alliance of Dark Forces. They spent many generations finding other sorcerers from every civilization in the kingdom, training them to control their powers and use them for the good of the kingdom, fighting off monsters and serving justice to those who did wrong. Merle’s son, Merlon, grew into this Alliance, becoming their top student and eventually reaching the rank of command. Merlon eventually had two daughters of his own, naming them Merlee and Merluvlee, and they were incorporated into the Alliance and reached the levels of command as well. The kingdom was coming closer and closer to peace with every step they took.

          But one night, Merluvlee fell into a dream that began to change her perspective on the dark forces. She was in a void, surrounded by dark purple smoke. She looked around her only to find an enormous dark spirit appearing in front of her, frightening her.

          “Who are you?!” asked Merluvlee.

          “It’s so wonderful how you magicians use these dark powers for the good of the kingdom, isn’t it?” said the spirit, “It never even bothered you that these powers originated from deadly, sinister lords, did it? It never occurred to you or your alliance that perhaps you would become more powerful if you joined those lords, who gave you your power to begin with.”

          “You’re wrong!” shouted Merluvlee, “I’m just as powerful as any dark lord! I don’t have to use them for evil!”

          “No, you don’t have to, but just think of the possibilities. You could expand your territory and rule this kingdom. You could show these people what the dark forces are truly capable of. You know you want to…”

“No! I wouldn’t! I shouldn’t! I couldn’t!”

“Oh, but you could…. These dark forces are capable of so much more than you think, Merluvlee. You could rule over these people and become the greatest sorcerer the Mushroom Kingdom has ever known. If you don’t take that power, then someone else will eventually. It’s simply the nature of these dark forces.”

“Wait, I know who you are. My father used to tell me stories about you. You’re the Shadow Queen. You’re the one that attempted to spread chaos across the kingdom years ago.”

“And now, I come before you as a dark apparition with an offer worthy of a queen. I will unite our spirits within you to create power far beyond that of any sorcerer, and you can use these powers to gain everything you’ve ever wanted. All I ask in return is for you to destroy the rest of the alliance.”

“I already have everything I want. Unity… Peace… It’s not worth the entire alliance to gain anything else.”

“Take some time to think about the offer,” said the Shadow Queen, “I’ll be back tomorrow night for my answer.”

With a flash, Merluvlee woke up at the sunshine flooding through her window. She knew this wasn’t any ordinary dream. She knew that a dark spirit did actually visit her. She was scared beyond belief, and was frightened when Merlon swung her door open.

“Are you okay, Merluvlee?” asked Merlon. She didn’t answer. “Well, come downstairs. Merlee’s making breakfast.”

All throughout that day, Merluvlee had a strange feeling that perhaps the Shadow Queen was right. She watched the other students as they let out their power in rage and anger. She thought that eventually, this rage would consume one of them and persuade them to betray the alliance if they were ever to rise up to the advanced levels of their leaders. It’s not something she would want, but nevertheless, it was the nature of these dark forces. She knew that the only thing she could do was gain this power that the Shadow Queen was offering and use this chaos to keep the kingdom in order.

The next night, Merluvlee was visited once again by the Shadow Queen. The Shadow Queen held her large hand out to her.

“Shadow Queen…” said Merluvlee, “I accept your offer.”

With that, they shook hands on the deal, and immediately, the dark smoke surrounding her came in and consumed Merluvlee. She felt the dark power transforming her from within. She felt her dark powers grow.

The next thing Merluvlee knew, she woke up in her bed. But she felt some kind of smoke flowing throughout her mind and veins. She felt the spirit of the Shadow Queen within her. She jumped out of bed and slammed open the door. The other three leaders in the house heard this and sprang out of bed as well. Merlon spotted Merluvlee wandering across the halls and approached her. Her eyes were glowing red.

“Merluvlee, what’s happened to you?” exclaimed Merlon.

“This kingdom will not be corrupted by the wrong sorcerer,” Merluvlee said in two echoing voices, “This kingdom will be kept in line for all eternity, and all of you will understand the true nature of these dark forces!”

The three leaders grabbed Merluvlee, but she shot lightning into their faces, causing them to go blind. Merluvlee then lifted her hands and blew the roof off. Her body was lifted by a swirling vortex of dark purple clouds of smoke. With the wave of her hands, the starry night sky was being covered by dark clouds. These clouds were using lightning to cause many disasters with every strike they took. Fire was spreading. Death was multiplying. This darkness was quickly spreading across the kingdom, and the three leaders knew that if something wasn’t done soon, the entire kingdom would be lost in this chaos.

Soon, the three leaders used their powers to give them their eyesight back, causing their eyes to glow yellow. They gathered together and focused the rest of their energy into pulling Merluvlee back to the ground. They pulled her out of the swirling vortex, and Merlon managed to use his power to pull the dark spirit out of Merluvlee. When he did this, the three leaders then focused their energy on putting the spirit inside a jar. At first, they were going to glue it shut, but they knew that without a body to encase her, she wouldn’t be going anywhere. The clouds then began to send out rain, putting out all the fire left behind by the dark forces. The chaos in the kingdom was slowly coming to an end.

The next day, Merluvlee was put on trial for her outrageous behavior. She sat in court amongst the three leaders, who were then wearing hoods to cover up the non-repairable scars caused by her lightning, their yellow eyes glowing through the shadows.

“Merluvlee,” said Merle, “Your arrogance caused the deaths of hundreds of our sorcerers, and you nearly destroyed the kingdom! Why shouldn’t we hang you here right now?”

“If I didn’t take control of the Alliance with the Shadow Queen’s powers, someone would have!” replied Merluvlee, “It is the inevitable nature of these dark forces.”

“The Shadow Queen was clearly toying with your mind, Merluvlee,” said Merle, “Everyone’s fully capable of shaping out their own destiny. Just because these powers came from dark forces doesn’t mean they have to be used for dark purposes.”

“And what will happen on the day that these powers do get used by the greedy slime bags that you fear the most?” asked Merluvlee.

“Merluvlee,” said Merlon, “Our whole purpose with this alliance is to maintain peace in the kingdom. If an evil force were to take over our kingdom, it would be our duty to bring that force to its knees.”

“You think it’s that simple?” asked Merluvlee, “I had power beyond comparison until you ripped it out of me, and I could’ve kept these magicians in line myself!”

“My lord, Merluvlee, have you gone mad?” exclaimed Merlon.

“Yes, I have, and I did it before anyone else! The Shadow Queen will return, and her darkness will consume this kingdom for what it’s worth!”

Because she seemed like she was beyond saving, and because she confessed her guilt, Merluvlee was hanged that day. It was a hard decision, but the leaders all knew that she wasn’t who she used to be.

Not too long after, the three leaders placed the jar encasing the Shadow Queen in a chest from Merluvlee’s room. They brought it deep underground to a sanctuary. Here, all sorts of deceased evil forces were kept, but they wanted to ensure that no one could reach the Shadow Queen, so they took her as far into the sanctuary as possible. They sealed the enormous door to the sanctuary shut by transferring the power of three power stars they had found throughout their journey through the Mushroom Kingdom onto the door. This way, no one gets in and nothing comes out. It would be possible to deprive the door of its seal by returning the power induced upon it back to the stars, which is why the leaders had to guard the stars with their lives.

The powerless stars were then protected by the three leaders, who decided to split up and spread their teachings across the Mushroom Kingdom to help maintain peace. While Merle and Merlee went to other regions with their stars, Merlon stayed in his region, where he helped assemble a city known as Paddestoel. Here, two guardians named Flora and Samera trained a great magician named Agona in martial arts to become a third guardian, while Merlon taught him how to control his powers. But, in the middle of this training, Merlon had a vision that Agona would eventually turn evil and destroy the Mushroom Kingdom. Because of this, Samera banished Agona from their alliance. However, this backfired, as soon enough, Agona delivered the ultimate vengeance by transforming himself into a monstrous beast, renaming himself Bowser, taking control of all of the kingdom’s monsters, and killing both Flora and Samera.

Bowser then took control of the kingdom, and after many years, all hope seemed lost. But one day, a new hero journeyed to the kingdom; a plumber from Brooklyn named Mario Rosemary. He, his brother, Luigi, and their guide, Toad, foiled Bowser’s plan to kill their beloved Princess Peach and give his army more power than ever before. They then destroyed him by dropping him into a lava pit. After that, it seemed like the kingdom would be at peace for a long time. But nothing lasts forever.

Chapter 1

Attack of the Shy Guys

          It had been a year since Mario and his friends had defeated Bowser. He and Luigi were given a reward of 100,000 golden coins from donators all over the city of Paddestoel. They started off using that money by building themselves a new house just outside of the city. Mario’s fame as a hero was too great for him to leave it behind for his smelly van back in Brooklyn. He took advantage of that fame by helping citizens all around the Mushroom Kingdom, from the ghosts of Gusty Gulch to the blooms of Flower Fields, deal with the venomous scum still scattered across the kingdom. Some citizens gave him rewards, and for others, Mario was just happy to see the work done.

But one reoccurring problem in Paddestoel was a new gang of robbing mushroom men that called themselves the Shy Guys. They cut off their large fungus heads to show their separation from the other mushroom men. They wore thick red robes around their laughably short bodies, and they wore masks with two giant eyeholes. Why they were rebelling against the Mushroom Kingdom was a mystery. They were weak, but they could run at incredible speeds. It was nothing that Mario and Luigi couldn’t handle, but they just kept coming back!

          Our story began on one of those occasions, when a couple of Shy Guys broke into Harry’s Shop on Red Berry Lane. One of them was carrying a club and immediately knocked out Harry the minute they barged in. They then stole a key out of his pocket, unlocked the door to his storage room, rushed in and stole everything in sight. Fire flowers, Shroom Cakes, Powdered Shrooms, you name it. Once their burlap sacks were filled up, they attempted to rush out.

          “Come on, let’s go! We gotta get outta here before the fat guy comes in and pulverizes us!” exclaimed one of them. Suddenly, they were grabbed by….. Guess who?

          “There’s a whole lot of muscle underneath that fat, shrimpy!” exclaimed Mario.

          But one of the Shy Guys threw a flash bomb into Mario’s face, causing him to go blind for a second, and the two escaped with their bags. Mario and Luigi chased after the Shy Guys, who were running so fast that their loot continuously dropped out of their bags, which Luigi picked up along the way and put into his own bag. The Shy Guys then ran into a small warehouse, slamming the door behind them. Mario followed them in, but found that they had vanished once he got in. He left irritated.

          “It always leads into this one warehouse! How do they keep disappearing like that?!” growled Mario.

          “Well, at least the mission wasn’t a total failure,” said Luigi, carrying many items in his bag, “They dropped most of their loot along the way, so we can at least return this to Harry.”

 

          After they returned the loot to Harry, they returned to their home and went over to a small table in the corner covered entirely by a giant map of the city. The map had many lines drawn on it, all leading from many shops the Shy Guys had been robbing all the way to the warehouse they continuously escaped into.

          “I don’t know how they keep escaping, Luigi,” said Mario, “We’ve searched that warehouse from top to bottom and found no holes, no hollow walls, no nothing!”

          “Perhaps they have some kind of magic portal,” suggested Luigi, “Maybe we could get Merlon to help us find it!”

          “Luigi, you know as much as I do that no one has seen Merlon for six weeks!” Mario sighed. “Remind me again, what’s the pattern on these items they’re stealing?”

          “Well, apart from gold and weapons, they’re not really stealing anything terribly valuable. Most of their thefts are of food and plastic materials, all of which consist of rainbow colors.”

          “You don’t think that’s a bit farfetched, Luigi?”

          “I know it may seem like a bit of a stretch, but that’s the conclusion I came to.”

          “I say keep searching. If I ever find out what these rascals are up to…”

          “Oh, and by the way, Harry left us with a reward of 500 gold coins for saving his stock today,” said Luigi, as he pulled a sack of gold coins out of his pocket, “He said it was less than half of the amount we’d pay if we bought all those items.”

          “MAIL CALL!” said a voice outside.

          “I’ll get it,” said Luigi, as he walked out the door and pulled a letter out of the mailbox standing right alongside their porch. He took the envelope with the royal golden mushroom seal on it back into the house and immediately opened it.

          “What is it this time?” asked Mario, “Another ad from those amateur house call plumbers?”

          “No, it’s a letter from Peach.”

          Mario jumped out of his glum and was suddenly excited. “What does it say?” he exclaimed.

          “It reads…….

          Dear Mario and Luigi,

          It’s been so long since I’ve seen you two. I hope you haven’t forgotten about my birthday tomorrow. I have arranged for a grand party at my castle at noon, where many people from all around the Mushroom Kingdom will be attending. I hope to see you two there. And don’t worry about wearing your finest outfits; you’ll look ravishing in your shirts and overalls. You always do.

          Best regards,

          Princess Peach Toadstool

 

          “How much did you say we got from Harry?” asked Mario.

          “500 gold coins.” replied Luigi, holding out the bag once again.

          Mario immediately snatched the bag out of Luigi’s hand and ran out the door into the city.

          “Where are you going?” Luigi shouted to Mario, but he didn’t answer. Where was Mario going anyway?

Chapter 2

The Promise of a Lifetime

          If there’s one person in the entire Mushroom Kingdom who knew very well how to throw a party, it was Princess Peach Toadstool. Her castle was just as magnificent as ever, standing tall on its bluish-gray bricks and pink rooftops on tower upon tower. Many guests from the far reaches of the kingdom had come to embrace its greatness. When Mario and Luigi arrived at the castle, the first thing Mario noticed was that the star mural he sent Bowser crashing through a year ago had been replaced by a spectacular mural of Peach. And when they entered the castle, everyone in the room gasped and began to chatter even more.

          “Mario Rosemary,” said a guard standing by the door, “The princess has been expecting you. I suggest you go up to her room and greet her. It’s the door to the right of the stairwell on the third floor.”

          “Well, I think I’ll go greet a few guests,” said Luigi, “You never know what you might learn from some of these people. Go get her, lova boy!”

          Mario, being more jittery than usual, quickly ran up several stairwells and through several doors to the third floor, where he found a guard standing by the door to her room.

          “Excuse me,” Mario said to the guard, “I believe the princess has been expecting me?”

          “She went to her private deck up in the north tower,” said the guard, “Just up those stairs.”

          Mario then went up many more stairs towards the north tower, telling any guards he ran into that Peach had been expecting to meet him. He soon reached the tower and ran up the spiral staircase to find Peach standing on the deck, staring at the sunset.

          “We just can’t meet each other without looking at the sunset, can we?” remarked Mario.

          “No…… I suppose not.” replied Peach.

          “What are you doing up here?” asked Mario.

          “Oh, I just came up here to rest for a while. Greeting all of those guests can get pretty tiresome.”

          “Luigi believes that you can learn a lot from worldwide guests.”

          “Not if they ask more questions about you than you do about them, which is always the case for royalty such as myself. They’re all asking me about my political opinion on the struggles Bowser’s caused over the years.”

          “At least they only ask you questions about those struggles. I have to go out and solve them. But on the bright side, the closer we get to peace in this kingdom, the closer we get to each other…”

          “Mario, before you start, I have something to say,” said Peach, “I’m starting to feel like this relationship of ours is becoming a great risk. Within one year alone, you have gained many enemies. I feel like the closer we get, the more of a weakness I become for you. I feel that if anything were to happen to me, it would be your downfall.”

          “I know exactly what you mean, Peach. I broke down like a tree in a hurricane when Bowser…” Mario stopped at the thought. He couldn’t stand the memory of Bowser stabbing Peach a year ago. “But I don’t believe we have to worry about any dangers against you anymore. Bowser’s toast, there hasn’t been an attack against you since, and we’re this close to ridding the city of those pesky Shy Guys.”

          None of that lightened Peach up any further. She still seemed worrisome. Mario had to say something.

          “Peach, look at me,” said Mario, holding her hand up as she looked into his eyes, “You are the light of my inspiration. You’re the whole reason why I came to the Mushroom Kingdom to begin with, and you know that. Just try to keep a smile on that face, and I promise you that nothing will ever happen to you.”

          Peach smiled at him, blushing a little, and sent out a tiny tear of joy. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps peace had been restored to the kingdom. Perhaps it was perfectly safe for them to be in love.

          Suddenly, the whole castle and its surrounding land began to shake and rumble. There were giant cracks opening up in the surrounding land. Mario and Peach were suddenly sucked back into the castle, with the doors slamming shut behind them, and were being pulled through the halls, going through door after door until they reached the third floor corridor, where they were let down and the door slammed shut behind them. Peach went over to the door to the second floor and attempted to tug it open, but found that it was mysteriously sealed shut.

          Suddenly, a bright red light began to glow through the floor in the middle of the room. As it got brighter, the floor began to push up and crack up like lava rock. Soon, the bubble in the floor burst open, and Mario and Peach covered their eyes to prevent debris from hitting them, and looked back to see what burst out of the floor. What they saw nearly had them covering their eyes once again.

          “Bowser?!” said Mario.

 

          Meanwhile, the many guests at Peach’s party, including Luigi, were lying just outside the castle. They were flung out by a strange force earlier. When they got up, they found that a large gray force field was surrounding the castle. Luigi looked around for Mario, but could not find him. He ran up to the force field and tried to jump through it, but was instantly flung back. They all knew something strange was happening.

 

          “I thought I smelled garlic!” said Peach.

          “I’ll take that as a compliment,” exclaimed Bowser.

          “What do you plan to do with me this time?” asked Peach.

          “Oh, it’s not really you I need…. It’s him,” said Bowser, pointing over at Mario. His assistant, a short, old-looking Koopa, waved her golden staff, and the red ruby on top glowed. This sorcery pulled Peach into Bowser’s claw, where he was holding her by the neck. “You people thought you could stop me by dropping me into a lava pit? You simply sent me to the depths of hell, and as I have transformed into a demon, not only was I welcome there, but I also grew even more powerful. I have been spending the last year preparing for this plan, and now, my time for revenge has finally come. So listen well, Mario! If you ever expect to see your precious princess again, you will help me carry out my plan.”

          “Mario, don’t do it! He’ll destroy the entire kingdom! It’s not worth it! Forget about me!” exclaimed Peach.

          “SILENCE!!!” roared Bowser.

          “Alright, I’ll do whatever you ask! Just don’t hurt her!” replied Mario. He wasn’t sure if he regretted this decision. Perhaps there was a chance to stop Bowser with whatever dastardly deed he had in mind. Only time would tell. But either way, he cared about Peach more than anything. He had to keep his promise.

          “Very good, Mario,” replied Bowser. Kammy then used her wand to open up a black portal that Bowser then dropped Peach into.

          “Wait, you said nothing would happen to her if I agreed to help you!” exclaimed Mario.

          “Relax, she’s perfectly safe in her room,” replied Bowser. “Now, let’s get down to business. You remember your magician friend, Merlon, right? I need you to find him.”

          “No one has seen Merlon for a long time! What do you need him for anyway?” asked Mario.

          “He and his relatives have spent many years protecting three power stars. I want you to retrieve them and bring them to me.”

          “And what do you plan on doing with these stars if I bring them back to you?”

          “That will be my business. Yours lies solely on retrieving these stars.”

          “Why do you need me to retrieve them?” asked Mario, “You clearly have great powers of your own!”

          “They’re not my powers, Mario. Kammy’s the one that’s been conjuring all this up. Look out those windows. You see the gray barrier surrounding the castle? I traded my powers to very powerful dark forces so that they could conjure up that barrier. Kammy cannot use her powers outside of the castle because her powers only work in the regions of the underworld. Within this barrier, we have brought hell to the higher grounds. We’re able to enter and exit the castle without any trouble, unlike the other creatures residing in this world, but we would be vulnerable. Besides, those magicians trust you more because you’re the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom. Everyone in this world trusts you greatly.”

          “They won’t trust me when they find out I’m working for the devil,” replied Mario.

          “Which leads me to my next condition,” said Bowser, “No one under any circumstances may know about our presence here.”

          “Bowser, you projected a force field around this castle! How am I supposed to keep it a secret?”

          “I’m sure you’ll figure out a way,” said Bowser with a sinister grin. “If you don’t return with those stars in two weeks, your pretty little princess will join us in hell.”

          With that, Kammy projected another portal under Mario’s feet, which he immediately fell through. He landed just outside the castle, where Luigi was looking for him. Luigi ran up to Mario and helped him back up.

          “What happened in there?” asked Luigi.

          “Come on, Luigi,” said Mario, “We have a little treasure hunt to go on.”

Chapter 3

The Search for Merlon

          Mario and Luigi immediately returned to their home, where Mario was packing up all his clothes in a suitcase and a large stock of food in a backpack.

          “So, let me get this straight,” said Luigi, “An evil demon has taken over the castle, and unless you can get these three power stars, he’ll destroy the entire kingdom?”

          “That’s the idea!” said Mario.

          “But Mario, what kind of ‘evil demon’ is this anyway? Where did it come from?”

          “It claimed to have come from the underworld.”

          “Why do you need these power stars?”

          “I….” Mario hesitated, “I heard about them from Merlon a little while back, and I thought that if I could gain their power, I could use that power against the demon. You know, to triumph over him.”

          Obviously, Mario was telling a little white lie. An evil demon had taken over the castle, and he did need those power stars to defeat him. His plan was that if there was any power left in any one of those stars, he could turn against Bowser when he retrieved the stars, and if he killed Peach, he could use that power to replenish her just like last time. He felt that it was wrong to be keeping secrets from his own brother, and that it was even more wrong to be doing Bowser’s bidding, but he knew it was worth it just to save Peach once more.

          “So, why are you packing up like this?” asked Luigi.

          “Merlon hasn’t been seen for a long time,” answered Mario. “We need to find him, get that star, and find out where his relatives are. Start packing up your stuff! We’ll need two weeks worth of food and clothing.”

         

          Once Mario and Luigi got done packing their bags, they set off into town trying to find out where Merlon went. They went to every known friend of his, and they had no clue. They then broadened their search by going to virtually ever resident in town, attempting to find out anything they could about his whereabouts, but with no luck. Their chances were turning slim, and Mario was beginning to get worried.

          Finally, Mario decided to do the stupidest and most obvious thing he could think of. He went up to Merlon’s house to see if he came back. They approached his giant blue hut-like house with a spinning rooftop before the day was done.

          “Remind me again,” asked Luigi, “Why hasn’t anyone seen Merlon for a while?”

          Mario pointed to a sign on Merlon’s door that said “Merlon is away. KEEP OUT!”

          “So, for six weeks, no one has knocked on his door or tried to contact him because of that one sign?” remarked Luigi.

          “I figured it was just common sense,” said Mario.

          Luigi knocked on Merlon’s door and no one answered. He knocked again and immediately got whapped in the face by Merlon swinging his door open with great force.

          “Can’t you people read?!” exclaimed Merlon, “I was in the middle of trying to connect with the netherworld when….” Just as Merlon was catching up to what was going on, he looked back at Luigi, lying on the ground with a red nose. He helped him get back up. “My apologies, Luigi.”

          “Don’t worry about it,” said Luigi, “In case you don’t remember, Mario and I have been through far worse.”

          “How can I help you two?” asked Merlon.

          “Mario here claims that a demon has taken over Peach’s castle,” said Luigi. “He says you and your relatives have power stars that could help us.”

          “We haven’t had a fresh power star for many years. Stars fall into the Mushroom Kingdom every one hundred years…”

          “When the kingdom holds its big star festival,” remarked Mario.

          “Precisely, and we can only collect oh so many stars with power left in them at that time. It appears that you used the last power star in the whole kingdom to escape from that lava a year ago.”

          Mario knew Merlon was holding back on them. If Bowser knew Merlon and his relatives had power stars, then they had power stars. Bowser was too powerful to be wrong.

          “I will meditate on other solutions for you two, but it’s not going to be that simple,” said Merlon, and with that, he took down the sign on his door and went back into the house.

          “Well, I suppose there’s nothing we can do now except head back home,” said Luigi.

 

When Mario and Luigi left, Merlon went up to his crystal ball, opened it up, and pulled out his blue power star. There was no more power left in it, and he was hoping that all the chaos going on in the kingdom didn’t involve the Shadow Queen. Or worse… Bowser. Or worse yet….. Perhaps Mario was doing a dirty man’s work.

 

          That night, Mario had the most surreal dream of his life. He was in an empty dark blue void, and stepping stones appeared in front of him. The stepping stones led to a large hut where Peach was waiting for him, shining like a star. He jumped from stone to stone, getting closer and closer to her. But then, the blue turned to black as a cloud of smoke with Bowser’s face appeared in front of him. He turned around and began to run away from him. Then, he remembered that Peach was waiting for him. There was only one way he was going to reach her. He jumped through the cloud of smoke and, after going across more stones, eventually reached Peach. She was smiling, but that smile immediately flipped as horns started to grow out of Mario’s head. He then felt at his teeth and found that they were growing sharp. He then felt a pointed tail growing out behind him. Peach fainted in shock, falling off the hut and into the void below them. Mario called out to her, and then jumped in after her. Suddenly, he found they were both falling to their death into lava.

          Mario then woke up in complete shock and terror. He started to think about what this dream could mean, but after very little thought, he figured it was just a dream.

          Then, he took a second glance in his room and found that his map had vanished. At first, he thought that Luigi put it away, but he was in for a big surprise the next morning.

Chapter 4

The Great Shy Guy Caper

          Mario and Luigi went around town that following morning to find that everyone in town had been robbed. Shops were completely out of stock, residents were deprived of food, weapons, and virtually anything plastic.

          Once that was abundantly clear, they went up to Merlon’s hut to see if he had found out anything about their “demon” problem. Once they entered, they found him sitting at his table with his face in his crossed arms. He looked up at them with fear in his glowing eyes.

          “They took my crystal ball…. Without it, I couldn’t meditate… You must help the town!” exclaimed Merlon.

          Mario knew who did all of this. Who else would be arrogant and stubborn enough to want to bring this town down to its knees? At first, Mario thought they were just trying to gain a profit, but now, they’ve reached the point of just wanting to watch the world burn.

          “The Shy Guys did this…” remarked Mario, “Merlon, you must help us find them! They always go back to this one warehouse up on 4th Street, but we have come to believe that they’re using some kind of magic portal to get to their hideout!”

          “I can’t help you, Mario,” said Merlon, “Without my crystal ball, I can’t have those visions of mine. You have to find it yourself.”

          Anyone else would’ve lashed out at such bad news, but Mario had an idea as soon as they left Merlon’s house.

          “What if we set up a scenario where the Shy Guys would appear, and then went to that warehouse and waited for them? Then they’d show us where that portal of theirs is!”

          “Sounds like a clever enough plan,” said Luigi, “But how would we set up the scenario? In case you don’t remember, the whole town has been ransacked!”

          Mario then reached into his overall pocket and pulled out a black box. He opened it up to reveal a golden ring with a fairly sized diamond on it.

          “Where did you get that?” asked Luigi.

          “I bought it for Peach with those gold coins,” answered Mario. “I was planning on proposing to her.”

          There were many questions on Luigi’s mind at that point. How can Mario propose to royalty? Why didn’t the Shy Guys think to look in Mario’s pocket? Are diamond rings really that cheap? But they didn’t have time to get all of those questions answered at that point.

 

          Luigi walked into Harry’s shop ‘causally,’ leaving the door wide open, as he greeted Harry with a delightful “Good morning!”

          “Good morning, Luigi!” replied Harry, “I’d hate to tell you this, but our entire stock has been stolen!”

          “Oh, that’s a terrible shame! All I wanted to get was a diamond ring!”

          “Well, whaddya know! That’s the only item we have for sale right now!” Harry pulled out the box with the ring. “Are you planning a proposal, lover boy?”

          “No… Not yet!” smiled Luigi.

          Just then, a Shy Guy rushed into the store and swiped the box from Harry’s hand. As he ran back towards the warehouse, Luigi chased after him. He eventually had to stop to catch his breath as the Shy Guy got away into the warehouse. Harry rushed up to Luigi, who quickly stood up tall like nothing happened.

          “Thanks for the help, Harry!” said Luigi.

          “No problem!” replied Harry. “So, what’s the plan now?”

          “Mario should be in that crate of his waiting to see where that portal is.”

          And sure enough, Mario was waiting for that Shy Guy inside the warehouse. He hid in a relatively large crate in the back corner, and he poked holes in every side so he could see everything going on in there. But what he didn’t know was that that very crate was the passage to the Shy Guy’s hideout.

          When the Shy Guy with the ring came into the room, he was incredibly jumpy and rushed. He quickly jumped into the crate and clapped twice. Suddenly, a portal consisting of bright, rainbow-colored lights appeared at the bottom of the crate. It was then that the Shy Guy noticed Mario in there with him, and he tried clapping constantly to close the portal, but it was too late. They were both dropped into the portal, vanishing in two seconds.

         

          The next thing Mario knew, he was waking up tied up in ropes from his chest to his belly, also having his arms tied behind his back, on what sounded like a train engine. But this was no ordinary train. There were two Shy Guys cranking gears on each side, while another Shy Guy was overlooking the path of the train. He pushed a lever standing beside him to the right and they felt the train turn right.

          As Mario was taking a closer look at the parts of the train, he noticed something very peculiar. Most of the train was made out of blocks, and every block had a different color and texture. Even the gears and levers these Shy Guys were using were different one way or another. What were these criminals up to?

          “Alright, guys,” said the leading Shy Guy, “We’re almost there!” With that said, the other two started to slow their turning down as the train began to come to a stop.

          Once the train came to a complete stop, the leader opened up a door on the side of the train while the other two Shy Guys pulled Mario out. The entire landscape they were dragging him across was just as zany and colorful as the train. Everywhere you looked, there was a different color, a different texture… Walls upon walls, floors never ending…. Just lines, blobs, and blocks of pink, blue, red, silver, purple, yellow, orange. To his left, Mario could see a big section of dark brown soil where the random landscape didn’t quite reach. Then, he spotted countless Shy Guys attempting to fill in that section with liquid goo of that same random texture. Mario was getting closer and closer to solving this mystery.

          After several minutes of walking across this landscape, Mario was thrown into a pitch black dark room where he was locked up. Suddenly, a light came on and he found a Shy Guy dressed in a gray hat with a black bill and a gray, brass-button suit standing by a table, which, once again, was random and colorful.

          “So, you’re the pest that’s been disrupting my plans,” said the Shy Guy.

          “And you’re the one leading this operation,” said Mario, “You’ve been robbing the town of food and plastic, and now the entire town has gone bankrupt!” While they were talking, Mario was attempting to untie the knot keeping his hands tied together.

          The Shy Guy pulled out a remote and clicked it, pulling up some blinds to reveal the enormous pile of items stolen from the kingdom. On the wall in front of the pile were three holes. One of them had a sign that said “Weapons and Explosives,” where Shy Guys were throwing in swords, guns, bats, hammers, and bombs. The second hole had a sign that said “Food,” where Shy Guys were throwing in quality mushrooms, fire flowers, and just about anything else edible. Mario could hear a screeching grinding sound every time they threw something in there. The third hole had a red hue down its shaft, and a sign that said “Plastic,” where Shy Guys were throwing in the plastic materials from the pile.

          “It’s all a worthy sacrifice to start a new life,” said the Shy Guy, “While we keep the weapons in our armory, we take the rest of the garbage that those imbeciles up in the Mushroom Kingdom call possessions, and whether it’s through grinding it or melting it, we process it into the colorful liquid cement needed to create our own world. We don’t need to live up in that so-called “perfect” world formerly known as the Mushroom Kingdom. We can shape our own destiny!”

          “What do you people have against the Mushroom Kingdom anyway?” asked Mario.

          “Ah yes, that’s right. You weren’t around when that tragedy happened. You see, back when I was one of your cute little mushroom men and Bowser still had control of the kingdom, my mother and I were imprisoned. Much like everyone around us, she had lost all hope when Flora and Samera were killed. I spent all those years between that and your arrival persuading her to keep on going, for as long as Merlon’s intergalactic princess was still alive, Bowser could do nothing to us. Once the word was out that you came to save us and the princess, my mother became exhilarated beyond my expectations. Tell me, Mario, have you ever reached a point in your life when your dreams are almost within your grasp, and then something pulls you back to rock bottom? That is the ultimate tragedy, and that is what happened to my mother once Bowser killed the princess and took his power. She grew so depressed at that tragedy that she had no choice but to put her own life to an end.

“What’s worse is that when the kingdom was finally brought to peace, no one cared about her death. All they did was cheer in majesty to their new grand hero. But I knew the truth. You were no hero. Many mushroom men died because of your mistake. That’s where the Shy Guy rebellion started. Everyone who lost a loved one because of you joined my rebellion to create a new world where we could maintain true peace and never worry about life or death. We hide our faces from those who we believe would never understand us. We bring the old society to its knees and create our own utopia!”

At this point, Mario was stunned. It was as if his entire spinal cord had turned into stone while his eyes were about to burst out water like balloons. He knew a lot of people died because of Bowser, and he was sure that it had some kind of effect on those close to those people, but he never thought about it until now. He just pushed it aside when he brought Peach back to life. At that point, he realized that he had been selfish.

“I suppose now, you wish to stop us,” said General Guy.

“This is not the answer, General,” said Mario, “All of the deaths of those people over that time were a tragic loss. I admit to that. I admit that I have been blind like everyone else. But if you’re attempting to maintain peace in this society, stealing is a good way to break that peace. The Mushroom Kingdom is going to go to war against you. Heck, we’re practically at war with you now! I will be willing to right the wrongs that have driven you to this outrageous scheme, but first, you must bring that scheme to an end.”

“It’s too late for that, Mario. My scheme is already in motion, and it’s almost complete.”

Mario saw that one of the Shy Guys in the production line grabbed Merlon’s crystal ball. He couldn’t wait any longer. “Not as long as I’m around!” Mario had finally finished untying the knot on his hands and forced the rest of the ropes around him to rip off. He immediately picked up the table and threw it at the window. General Guy ducked down and saw the window get shattered. Mario then jumped out the window onto the pile. He pulled out one of the many mushrooms scattered around him and immediately gobbled it up. He then ran through the pile, feeling his muscles quickly growing more massive, ran up to the Shy Guy with the crystal ball and uppercut him in the chin, sending him zipping upwards. He dropped the crystal ball, and before Mario could snatch it, it hit the ground and opened up on its semi-spherical slit and two hinges. Out of it fell a blue crystal star.

“Why that cheap, dishonest mongrel of a wizard!” Mario said to himself.

Just then, one of the Shy Guys grabbed him by the neck from behind. He grabbed his head, pulled him off, and threw him at the other Shy Guys behind them. He looked around at the machine to find if there were any ways of destroying it. Then, he noticed a Shy Guy pulling a bomb out of the pile. Mario’s common sense struck as he ran up to the Shy Guy and uppercut him, grabbing the bomb out of his hands as he went soaring. It was a strange-looking black bomb with a wind-up lever in its back and little white eyes painted on the front. But Mario didn’t worry about that, considering that he’s seen mushrooms, missiles, and flying machines with faces on them.

He quickly grabbed the bomb, ran up to the furnace and threw it into the hole. He then grabbed his crystal star and Merlon’s crystal ball, and just like all the Shy Guys around him, he ran as fast as he could away from the machine.

The explosion blew up the furnace and the grinder next to it, and it shot enormous flames out of the hole, causing more flames to begin spreading across the floor, walls, and ceiling, creating trails like setting oil spilled into the ocean on fire. The heat was so intense that everything around them was quickly melting. The place was about to collapse. One of the Shy Guys grabbed the fire extinguisher, but before he could put any flames out, a giant chunk of debris fell on him.

Mario was about to make a direct run for the exit when he began to see Shy Guys suffocating from all the smoke. It was happening. He was making the same mistake all over again. He quickly grabbed all of the Shy Guys he could and helped them towards the exit, while still holding on to that crystal ball and star. He then began jumping through flame after flame, rescuing many Shy Guys one after another. His mustache had burned off, but the rest of his hair was safe under his hat. After rescuing nearly all the Shy Guys and leading them to the exit, he jumped back into the interrogation room attempting to rescue General Guy.

“Come on!” shouted Mario, “We have to get out of here!” But the General was in a trance, gazing in depression over the flames destroying his utopia.

“My hopes…. My dreams…. Destroyed…” he said. He looked back at Mario and attempted to clench his throat. “You’re no hero, Mario!”

          “I just saved the lives of the ones you attempted to brainwash with all your mourning!” said Mario, holding the General back before he could choke him.

          “I’m not the one who brainwashed the kingdom with the idea that peace was to ensue! You never even cared about the people of the kingdom! All you ever cared about was your pretty little princess!”

          With that, Mario pushed off General Guy and uppercut him, sending him flying into a wall where he immediately got crushed by falling debris. He then ran out of the room with the other Shy Guys and found that the entire facility was being covered with flames. One of the Shy Guys was directing the clan towards a basement area that he claimed to be fire-proof, and they let Mario follow them in. The Shy Guy pulled open a metal door in the floor that led to this room, and everyone scrambled in.

          Once everyone was safely in the room, all the Shy Guys took their masks off and stared at Mario. He couldn’t even tell what kind of facial expression they were supposed to have. They could’ve been mad that he had destroyed the utopia they worked so hard to create. On the other hand, he saved their lives. They had just pulled off the biggest caper in the history of the kingdom, and he still manages to forgive them. Perhaps he ought to tell them why.

          “Listen, I won’t say that I’m sorry for destroying your utopia. What you guys did there was wrong, and you all knew it. What I will say, however, is that I’m sorry for driving you to do such a thing. Every life in the kingdom matters, including yours and the ones you love. I was blind of that, and I will right those wrongs caused over the time of your rebellion. I’ve made a vow to put my life out to ensure peace for the entire kingdom, and I will keep that vow. But with all of those items lost, we will need to work together to restore the peace lost from the disaster that you caused. We may not have been able to save any of those items, but we still managed to save the one valuable that matters more than any other; life.

“The people of the kingdom have offered a reward of 30,000 gold coins for your capture, and I will ensure that your punishment will be community service. You will travel as far as the horizon goes, you will travel to different cities, and you will use the money to regain all the items lost in those flames. This way, peace will be on both sides.”

 

          Once it became clear that the entire landscape had melted, crumbled, and overall ceased to stand, Mario and the then mask-less Shy Guys opened the door. Mario glanced over the ashes of the landscape, the remains of the burnt grass surrounding it, and the green grass miles beyond that. Everything had been set up on a remote island on the other side of the Mushroom Kingdom’s planet. Heck, for all he knew, they could’ve been on an entirely different planet altogether!

After walking several yards from the remainders of their headquarters, they arrived at the portal. One of the Shy Guys pulled out a blue orb and placed it in a tiny dome-like hole in the ground. Just like the portal that brought Mario from Brooklyn to his part of the Mushroom Kingdom, the portal swirled open and everyone jumped through it.

Soon, Mario and all the Shy Guys burst out of the crate in the warehouse. Mario landed safely on a bag of flour, but the Shy Guys all fell on him immediately after. They found that Luigi and Harry were standing to the side. They had been looking for them for quite a while.

“Step away from the red plumber,” said Luigi as he pulled up a wrench he had found in the warehouse earlier and was prepared to beat up the Shy Guys.

“Hold up, Luigi,” said Mario, “I can explain everything.”

Sure enough, Luigi had assessed the situation enough to know what was going on. The Shy Guys no longer had their masks, and Mario was holding the crystal ball and star. “No need,” he said.

For the rest of that day, Mario, Luigi, and the former Shy Guys had delivered I.O.U. notes to those whose valuables were lost in the fire. Once that was done, the Shy Guys set out to other towns to regain the items. Mario felt the exhilaration of this reign finally coming to an end. He was one step closer to bringing peace to the kingdom.

But that peace wouldn’t last for long unless he found those two other stars. He had twelve more days.

 

Chapter 5

Merlon’s Secret

          While the Shy Guys were doing their job, Mario and Luigi went to Merlon’s hut to return his crystal ball. They knocked on the door, and he immediately opened up. Merlon saw that Mario had the crystal star wrapped in his arm as Mario tossed the crystal ball to him.

          “Plastic crystal ball; that’s quite the clever scam,” said Mario as he and Luigi entered the premises. “What aren’t you telling us? My glove was burnt in the Shy Guys’ hideout, and yet when I touch this power star, I don’t gain any power. Why would a powerless star be such a big concern at this point?”

          “A concern to who?” asked Merlon.

          “Answer my question!” shouted Mario.

          Merlon sighed. “There’s a great power beyond that which Bowser gained a year ago. A Shadow Queen with the ability to create chaos that could wipe out the entire kingdom.” He then explained the whole backstory about how Merluvlee had been persuaded and taken over by the Shadow Queen, and how the Shadow Queen eventually became trapped. “If one were to collect these stars and open the door…”

          “The darkness would be unleashed!” said Luigi.

          A chill ran down Mario’s spine like a mouse. He knew exactly what was going on at that point. Bowser wanted to gain the power of the Shadow Queen and destroy the kingdom just like before.

          “What if we were to gain power over this Shadow Queen?” suggested Mario, “Then we could defeat the demon inside the castle!”

          “I don’t know, Mario,” said Merlon, “Merluvlee couldn’t take control of the Shadow Queen. It would take one heck of a strong will.”

          “I have to try,” said Mario.

          Merlon sighed once more. “Okay, if you really want to find these other power stars, you must travel to two other regions where my relatives live and gain their stars.”

          Merlon turned on a lantern and took it upstairs to his attic, with Mario and Luigi following him. He went over to a small crate, opened it up, and pulled out a map. He took it to a table and rolled it out.

          “My daughter, Merlee, is in an outpost in this desert known as Dry Dry Desert. My father, Merle, is up in an icy valley in the Crystal Mountains.”

          “So, how do we get to these regions?” asked Luigi.

          “There’s a train in town that will get you to the desert outpost in two days,” answered Merlon, “From there, you should be able to find a travel guide who would be willing to help you get to the mountains. There are a lot of traders and salesmen up in the outpost. That’s why Merlee moved up there.”

          With that said and done, Merlon lent the map to Mario, and he and Luigi were out the door and heading towards that train.

          I do hope his plan works, thought Merlon.

 

          The next night, Mario had the dream again. The dark void, the cloud of darkness, Peach sparkling like a star until he became a monster… When he woke up from it, he didn’t just go back to sleep like he did before. He stayed up and thought about it. Having the same dream twice always meant something. There was some thought reoccurring in his head with everything that was happening. He couldn’t talk about it with Luigi, so he had to think about it himself. Was he being transformed by the very evil he swore to protect the Mushroom Kingdom from just like Merluvlee?

But at the same time, what else was he supposed to do? He promised Peach that he would protect her. Nothing will ever happen to you, he said. He cared for the kingdom, but he cared for Peach even more. Was there any way for both of them to escape? It had to be possible to control the power of this Shadow Queen. Why else would Bowser want these power stars? I have to try, he thought once more.

Chapter 6

Dry, Dry Proportions

          Mario looked out beyond the horizon, riding on the train that he and Luigi had been traveling on for what he clocked as about three days. It sounded impossible to travel to the desert so quickly, but the conductor, calling himself Pompus, told them that this would be the fastest train they could get.

          “I tell ya, I’ve traveled farther than a Yohsi with a steamin’ rear en’ with this bad boy,” he said. And after this trip, Mario believed him.

          Luigi was resting throughout half of the trip, but Mario stayed up. He wanted to make sure that the entire trip went as planned. He didn’t want any enemies or missing tracks to get in their way. Besides, after his nightmares, he couldn’t sleep. Or so he thought…

          Before too long, the train was slowly coming to a stop. They had finally arrived at the outpost of Dry Dry Desert. By the time they got there, it was Luigi who had to wake up Mario. They grabbed their bags and hopped out of the train, which ended up leaving for the Mushroom Kingdom as soon as they left.

The outpost was smaller than Mario had expected, resembling an Arabian marketplace with clay buildings, a heavy traffic of people bearing a striking resemblance to traffic in Brooklyn, and tons of wooden stands for its many traders. The items these traders were selling weren’t anything to get excited over; a shrunken mushroom, a dusty, easily breakable hammer, and highly overpriced lemons and limes.

“It’s a good thing we brought our own food and water!” remarked Luigi.

“Plus, we’re not here to buy anything,” reminded Mario, “We have to find Merlee quickly.”

“What’s the hurry?” asked Luigi.

“If we don’t get those items within the next nine days, the demon is going to gobble up Paddestoel!” Mario was such a great liar, wasn’t he?

“Boy, this demon must chew his food pretty slowly, huh?” remarked Luigi.

They continuously attempted to ask the people around them if they knew where Merlee was. Every time they approached a trader, they simply went on about how their items would benefit them, and every time they approached a simple civilian, they just ran off.

“Do you even know who I am?” Mario asked one of the traders.

“Of course I do, Mario!” he replied, “And that’s why I wish to help you! Buy this 16-pocket travel pack, and you’ll never have to struggle with the items you’re holding again!”

“Look, buddy, we already have our own travel packs! We just need to find out where this Merlee is!”

“Ah, but do your travel packs have 16 POCKETS?”

“They have twenty,” replied Luigi.

“Oh… Well then, you can gain 16 MORE pockets for only 200 golden coins!”

Mario grabbed the trader by the shirt. “Listen, you con artist,” shouted Mario, “We have neither the time nor the money for this! We need to find this Merlee person soon! The fate of the Mushroom Kingdom depends on it!”

Suddenly, a strange man in a robe whapped Mario upside the head with the bulk top of his cane. With that, he was immediately knocked out.

“Who the heck do you think you are?” exclaimed Luigi.

“Relax… I’m here to help you,” said the strange man.

 

The next thing Mario knew, he was in a clay house, lying on a small bed with a cover made of canvas. He looked to his left and saw a mushroom man in a robe dipping a cloth into a bucket of hot water. He then soaked Mario’s throbbing head.

“Hot water isn’t very hard to find in these regions,” said the strange man. “So, we attempt to make use of what we have. We adapt to our environment. I apologize for my arrogance back there, but I had to act quickly. My name is Mustafa. The mistress you seek…” He pointed to the thick black canvas next to them. “… is right next door.”

“I already explained everything to him,” said Luigi, standing aimlessly in the room. “I told him you were looking for the crystal star.”

“Merlee has agreed to give you the crystal star, but she also wishes to grant you a little more help.”

“What kind of help?” asked Mario.

But he didn’t answer. He simply opened the canvas and pointed inside. Mario went into the room, with Mustafa and Luigi following him, where he immediately saw the familiar glowing yellow eyes. He then saw an aqua green glowing ball, and as the light slowly grew brighter, he saw that the eyes belonged to a tall mistress in a dark blue robe and a light purple hood. She was sitting at a table, and Mario sat in a seat right across from her, with Mustafa and Luigi standing behind him.

“Welcome, Mario,” said the mistress, “My name is Merlee. I have been informed of why you seek me. You are a brave and adventurous one, and you have a bold quest ahead of you. I will be willing to help you, but you alone may not be strong enough to overcome the Shadow Queen. Therefore, I will give you a spell of protection. This way, when your need for triumph comes, we will assist you.”

She then laid down in front of Mario ten large cards with pictures of suns with eyes on them, all in a smooth row. She then slowly brushed them back into one pile, twisted them into a spiral, twisted them back into one pile, and then brushed them into a row. She then lifted her hands and the cards were floating in midair, forming a circle around Mario. They started circling around him, and as the cards flipped, he saw several pictures. He saw him and Peach standing on the bridge in Prospect Park; him standing on a hill when he first arrived in the Mushroom Kingdom; him breaking Yoshi out of his egg; him placing the Life Shroom on Peach’s chest; him saving Gusty Gulch from Tubba Blubba; the sunshine returning to Flower Fields; him speaking to the Shy Guys in that fire-proof room.

Soon, all of these cards started to spin so fast that Mario could no longer see the pictures. The cards then started to glow, and soon, the room was so bright that Mario couldn’t see anything. Regardless of his sight, however, he felt a flow of energy growing within him. He felt the power streaming through his veins. It was like a connection with the forces he only heard of in Merlon’s tales. Then, without warning, the light and the flow of energy suddenly stopped. Mustafa took down the canvas, and Merlee stood up, walked over to Mario, and handed him the green crystal star.

“The journey of a thousand miles can never be made alone, Mario,” said Merlee. “With this spell, these forces will always be with you.”

“There’s one more thing,” said Mario, “We need to find a travel guide who can take us to the Crystal Mountains.”

“I know just the guy who can help,” said Mustafa.

 

Mario and Luigi followed Mustafa to the clay house of a man he knew as Kolorado. Mustafa approached his door and knocked three times. The door was opened by a wrinkled-faced koopa with a black mustache.

“Mustafa, you’re just in time!” said the koopa, “We were almost done restoring an ancient artifact from the ruins of the legendary Tutankoopa!”

“Sounds riveting!” As Mustafa walked into the room, Mario stood outside in shock.

“We’re asking for help from a koopa?” exclaimed Mario. “After what they did?!”

“Oh, for Samera’s sake, old chap,” said Kolorado, as Mario hastily walked into a room with Kolorado’s two assistants, “Don’t you know by now that some koopas decided to change sides? That bloody old hag Bowser was strict! He attempted to create a total institution out of the Mushroom Kingdom. Nowadays, we have more freedom, and I wanted to take advantage of that freedom! I wanted to explore this wondrous world and uncover all the secrets Bowser never cared for all those years! Within one year, I have explored Chocolate Island, the volcano of Lavalava Island, and I’ve even figured out the secret behind the Forever Forest!”

“We discovered that secret long before you, buddy!” remarked Luigi.

After Kolorado rolled his eyes at Luigi, he placed glue onto the nose piece of a vase shaped like a koopa in a Pharoah’s apparel and placed it onto the vase. He did it slowly and carefully, and once he did it, the piece didn’t even budge.

“Gentlemen, we have ourselves a fully restored artifact!” stated Kolorado, and his two assistants cheered.

“Kolorado, you were telling me yesterday that your next quest will be up in the Crystal Mountains,” said Mustafa.

“That’s right!” replied Kolorado, “We’ll be exploring those mountains for the palace of the infamous Crystal King.”

“Kolorado, we need to go to the Crystal Mountains to gain a crystal star from Merle,” said Mario. “Can we travel with you?”

Kolorado thought about this for a moment. “Well, ordinarily, I wouldn’t let just anyone onto my hot air balloon for free… Why should I help you if you don’t even trust me?”

          “Okay, I’m sorry if I insulted you,” said Mario, “It’s just been a weird and irritating past few days. We need your help on this!”

“Well, if it’s helping the valiant and peace-driven Mario and Luigi Rosemary, I’d be glad to!” answered Kolorado, “We will set out in the morning!”

 

Chapter 7

Questions and Answers

 

          The journey to the Crystal Mountains took much longer than the trip to the outpost. They were traveling on Kolorado’s enormous brown blimp, and five whole days were spent trying to get from the hot region to the cold region. Mario began to worry, as time was beginning to run short.

          About the third day into the trip, Luigi saw Mario looking out at the clouds. He saw one of them shaped just like Peach, and another one shaped like Bowser covered it up quickly. Luigi walked over and stood next to Mario, looking out to the clouds with him.

          “You know, Mario, I didn’t care as much for this place as you did when we first arrived here.”

          “I didn’t care one bit for it when we first arrived. I was just going out of my way to save Peach.”

          “I know… But it seems like you have grown to appreciate this world a bit more through the process of rescuing Peach and I’m proud of the things you were able to accomplish. Within one year, you have earned the reputation that takes many people a lifetime to earn. I’m proud to call you my brother, and I’m glad that we left that wreck of a city for this magnificent beauty.”

          “Yeah, I’m glad for that too.”

After a moment of just smiling at each other, Luigi said “Mario, there have been a lot of questions on my mind since we began this journey. First off, how did you even know about the crystal stars to begin with?”

          “I told you, I heard Merlon talking about them before, and Peach reminded me of them before I was tossed out.”

          “What happened to Peach anyway?”

          Mario’s mind went blank for a moment. He never thought about how to lie about that. Why? Wouldn’t she be the one thing that came to his mind? He had to think of something quickly.

          “Mario? What happened to Peach?”

          “Peach is dead,” stuttered Mario. Just the very thought startled him, but it was the only thing he could think of. “The demon killed her.”

          Luigi raised his eyebrow at Mario. “You’re lying, and you have a terrible poker face. I know you better than that, Mario. You wouldn’t be standing if Peach were dead. In fact, I’ll bet you lied about everything. I’ll bet that there’s a different plan behind collecting these stars. Now, my question is….. What is that plan?”

          At that point, Mario’s beans had spilled. He flipped out and exclaimed “Alright, you want to know what’s going on? Bowser has returned from his residence in hell and has kidnapped Peach! He wants me to collect these stars so that he can unleash this Shadow Queen and she can spread her darkness upon the Mushroom Kingdom, and if I don’t cooperate, Peach will perish!”

          Luigi stared at Mario stunned like a deer on the highway. “I don’t believe this….”

          “Well, what will you believe, then?” exclaimed Mario.

          “I once believed that you would put aside anything to maintain peace in the Mushroom Kingdom. I believed that that was all that mattered to you. But now, you’re risking the entire kingdom’s safety for the life of Peach? I should have known that she was all you ever cared about!”

          “Luigi, think about it! We can leave the kingdom behind and head back to Earth! The three of us can live the way we did before!”

          “Damn it, man, have you forgotten the beauty of the life we have now?”

          “The beauty of this kingdom is not worth it without the beauty of Peach!”

          “You’re risking the lives of billions of innocent civilians for the life of one damsel in distress?”

          “That damsel in distress means more to me than anyone else!”

          “That beauty has turned you into a monster!”

          With that, Mario uppercut Luigi and he flew over the rail and began plummeting towards the ground.

          Mario stood on the blimp base, stunned. He stared at the blood running down his fist. He couldn’t believe the very thought of what he had just done. But he couldn’t let his emotions get in the way. He had to continue with his quest. He looked behind his shoulder and saw Kolorado standing there.

          “I saw nothing!” exclaimed Kolorado as he covered his eyes and ran away.

 

          The night before they arrived at the mountains, when Mario finally decided to catch up on some sleep, he had his dream again. This time, as soon as the dark cloud appeared and he attempted to run through it, Luigi was holding him back.

          THAT BEAUTY IS TURNING YOU INTO A MONSTER! Luigi shouted.

          Mario broke free of his struggle with Luigi and he pushed him over the ledge. He then jumped through the dark cloud and ran up to Peach, who once more saw him turn into a monster and fell over the ledge. Mario jumped after her, and they both fell into a pit of lava.

          When Mario awoke, Kolorado was there with him.

          “Mario, we’re there!”

 

Chapter 8

Mystical Crystal

 

          Kolorado landed his blimp at a landing base in a valley at the heart of the Crystal Mountains, in a small city of short blue penguins known as Shiver City.

          “Is it coincidence that the creatures, structures, and language of this world are all carried over from our world?” asked Mario.

          “It has to be,” answered Kolorado.

          They spoke with a guard at the gate of the city, and he directed them to a village east of the city where they would hopefully find Merle.

          “I’ll go with you, old chap,” said Kolorado, “Perhaps this magician can tell me how to find the Crystal Palace.”

          Using some fur coats Kolorado had stored up, he, his two companions, and Mario walked through the cold along a gray brick path. Mario was feeling chillier than any of the others, but not because of the cold. He couldn’t help but chill at the thought that perhaps Luigi was right. Maybe everything he’s been doing on this quest has been turning him into a monster. But, once more, his emotions didn’t overcome him.

It took them many hours, but right at about 11:30, they reached a village of mushroom men and log cabins. Kolorado went off to a hotel to set up a reservation for the night, but Mario searched around the village for Merle. Other residents led him to a log cabin at the top of the hill. Mario wasn’t used to walking uphill, but he had to get that crystal star. Eventually, he reached the cabin and knocked on the door. It was answered by a mushroom man in a fur coat.

“Hello,” greeted Mario, “I’m looking for Merle. Is he here?”

The mushroom man led Mario into a room where Merle was lying on a bed with a pitcher of red liquid medicine by his side. He, unlike his descendants, had his hood down.

“The old liquid mushroom remedy can only take one so far into life,” said Merle, “As can just about everything else I’ve done with my powers. If only my son and granddaughters could be here to see me reach my 1500th year. That’s the year when your connection with the dark forces officially wears out. When that happens, everything I’ve done to keep myself alive will vanish. We’re only minutes away….”

Mario looked over at a wooden clock carved in the shape of a mushroom with eyes to see that it was 11:55. He had to talk quickly if he wanted to get that power star.

“Merle, I have come before you at your last few moments seeking a power star. An evil demon has taken over the castle of Paddestoel, and I need to use the power of the Shadow Queen to defeat him. I have the other two power stars from Merlon and Merlee, but I need that last one from you. Will you help me?”

Merle pointed to a painting of a little boy in a green tunic and elf hat riding a boat shaped like a monster. The mushroom man pulled the painting off the wall and opened the safe behind it. He pulled out the crystal star and handed it to Merle.

“I have been protecting this power star with my life, hoping that the kingdom would never fall into the chaos that the Shadow Queen has planned for it. If you wish to control her and her powers, you must not give into her evil ways. Once you give into that, you’ll never come back, and this kingdom will fall into chaos. Keep your strong will, and never forget that you’re the hero of this kingdom.”

With that, the clock struck 12:00. The glow in Merle’s eyes dimmed to black, and his entire body trembled to death.

“I suppose I’ll have to go back to Paddestoel and notify Merlon.”

“I know a shortcut,” said the mushroom man.

 

“Kolorado, I’m heading back to Paddestoel to finish up my business,” Mario said before he left. “Good luck with your expedition!”

“Wait a minute!” said Kolorado, “What about the Crystal Palace? Did you ask Merle about that?”

“No, and I’m afraid he’s dead now.”

“Oh, rotten luck!”

“I know how you can find the Crystal Palace,” said the mushroom man standing behind Mario, “There’s a scarf back up in Merle’s cabin that can assist you. I’ll take you there as soon as I’m done helping Mario.”

With that, the mushroom man led Mario to a warehouse at the bottom of the hill. It was locked, but the mushroom man pulled out a key and unlocked it. He opened the door to reveal a blue pipe.

“This pipe was part of a system Samera attempted to set up many years ago. His plan was to create a fast and efficient means of travel, and he decided to take the same system of pipes he set up throughout the castle and expand it throughout the entire kingdom! But there were too many injuries occurring through this system, so he locked up all the pipes. We tend to use these pipes for emergencies such as this. This pipe leads to a locked up warehouse in Paddestoel. The key should be under the mat inside.”

With that, Mario pulled the lever next to the pipe to suck, he held his breath, and he jumped right in. It had been quite a while since he had been through one of those pipes. He suddenly remembered the lightning-fast speed at which the travel partook in. The strange thing about this pipe is that it took ten times as long. He held his breath and kept his eyes closed for nearly three minutes before he was finally shot out high into the air, screaming what was left in his lungs. He landed on a crate, smashing it, and found himself in the warehouse. He was home with all three stars, and with two days to spare.

He pulled the key out from under the welcome mat, unlocked the door, and ran out of the warehouse only to find Merlon and Luigi standing outside of Merlon’s hut with their arms crossed. Luigi was wet and had some seaweed on him. As soon as Mario spotted them, he ran towards the castle, and they chased after him. Mario swiped a mushroom out of a boy’s hand and he gobbled it up, gaining the strength to run even faster.

He was close to the castle, still surrounded by that gray force field. He didn’t know what to do, so he just kept running towards it. As soon as he was centimeters away from the castle, just before Luigi was about to grab him from behind, he vanished through one of Kammy’s portals. Luigi ran into the force field and was shot back into the ground. After moments of exhaustion, he got back up.

“Merlon, can you penetrate the force field?” asked Luigi.

“No… Even if I could, Bowser probably already has the crystal stars. As far as I’m concerned, we lost.”

“Well, do you think that if Bowser gained the power of the Shadow Queen, you would be able to pull him out like before?”

“No… It would take all three of us… Me, Merle, and Merlee.”

“What will happen?”

“I don’t know…”

“How can you not know?! I thought magicians were supposed to have psychic powers with the ability to see the future!”

“Luigi, no one can predict the future because it keeps changing. There are several paths one can take, and anything can happen to send someone from one path to another.”

“Come on, Merlon, you’re the one who predicted that Bowser would turn evil, weren’t you?”

“Luigi… I never predicted that. You see, when I was training Agona, I started to see what Merluvlee saw in her students. I saw the rage that could’ve taken him over and caused him to turn evil. Because of that, I felt I had to do something to cause Samera to banish him. I never knew it would backfire the way it did.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“We have no choice but to wait and see where this goes.”

          Just then, the force field disappeared. Luigi ran up and attempted to open the door, but found that it was sealed shut. Just then, a van crashed through the doors, and Luigi saw that Bowser was driving it. Luigi ran after the van, and Merlon followed.

 

Chapter 9

Rise of the Shadow Queen

          Faster than a phone call, Mario was teleported to the 2nd level corridor where Bowser still stood with Kammy. He pulled the stars out of his backpack and handed them to him.

          “HA! We did it, Kammy! Not only do we finally have the opportunity to bring this kingdom to its knees, but we managed to bring down the great Mario Rosemary!” exclaimed Bowser.

          “What are you talking about?” asked Mario.

          “You haven’t figured it out by now?” remarked Bowser, “We revealed your dark side! You see, every man has a weakness that can lead him to either giving into evil or death. Yours was obvious from the beginning. You never cared about the kingdom, the people, or giving them the opportunity for peace. All you ever cared about was Peach. Your quest revealed many evil things you did in the past and led you to do many evil things after that.”

          “Frankly, we thought you were just going to kill all the magicians for those stars,” said Kammy, “But what you went through worked just as well! You’re selfishness, arrogance, and dishonesty served us well!”

          “Now, the whole kingdom will lose hope in you once I reveal to them the origins of all evil!”

          With that, Kammy waved her wand and, with yet another earthquake, the force field around the kingdom vanished. Kammy then waved her wand again and a large van with Bowser’s clown face appeared.

          “Wait a minute!” exclaimed Mario, “I thought you couldn’t use your powers outside of the kingdom!”

          “You have no idea how much easier this mission would’ve been,” remarked Kammy, “Bowser was just interested in seeing you suffer.”

          With that, Mario was thrown into the back of the van, which was completely blocked out from the front. The impact at which Bowser threw him in caused Mario to lose the strength gained from that mushroom, and the walls were too strong for him to penetrate. Eventually, Peach was thrown in with him, and they locked the doors. They could hear Bowser scratching on the walls, struggling to get into the front. Soon, the car started and they took off, crashing through the doors at high speeds and soon traveling outside.

          “Well, Peach, this is it,” said Mario, “We lost. Everything we did to maintain peace in the kingdom is lost because of my arrogance…. No, my TREACHERY…”

          “Is that what you call this?” replied Peach, “Treachery? Listen, Mario. Doing bad things isn’t the same as being evil. Everything you’ve done at this point can be looked at one way or the other. You can see this as either doing the work of a demon, or protecting the one you love.” Peach crept her hand over to Mario’s. “If we don’t make it out of this, we can at least die together. Then, people will remember the valiant efforts that Mario Rosemary sent out for his one true love that, in turn, saved the kingdom. And they will also remember that, at his last triumphant moment that one true love was right there beside him. People remember stuff like that because it gives them hope. You have a strong will, Mario, and I’m proud that you did the things you did to protect me.”

          Mario shed a single tear. “I can’t save the kingdom, Peach. I don’t have a strong will. Not anymore.”

 

          Eventually, the van came to a sudden stop. Bowser and Kammy opened the back doors and pulled Mario and Peach out. They were in the central sewers of Paddestoel in front of a door the size of a house with three star-shaped holes at the bottom. The door was flashing and alternating between several neon colors. Bowser pulled out the three stars and placed them in the holes. The neon colors started to drain out like water in a cup as they went back into the stars, and the door slowly opened up. Bowser took the stars out and transferred their power into himself, causing him to glow. He was unbeatable now.

          They went through the door and traveled down a virtually innumerable number of stairs, going deeper and deeper underground. They came across the graves of many creatures, but they had to go deep underground to find the one they were looking for. Mario spotted some skeletons of bats and rats. Clearly, nothing had been in this room for many years.

          Eventually, they reached the end of the stairwell and entered into a corridor where a chest covered in dust was sitting directly in front of them. Once Bowser blew all the dust off in one breath, the chest appeared to be very colorful with a bright star on its front. Bowser opened the chest to find a positively black jar sitting inside.

          “Peach, open the jar,” commanded Bowser.

          “Aren’t you going to take it?” asked Peach.

          “I’m not interested in taking the power, Peach. I just want the kingdom destroyed. Now, open the jar.”

          “Why me?” asked Peach.

          “I figured it would be suiting for the Shadow Queen to take over the body of someone female,” replied Bowser.

          “That’s not a very good reason, Bowser,” said Mario, “Peach is too innocent and strong-willed to fall for the Shadow Queen’s plea. Let me be the sacrifice. I have proven my dark nature, and I am willing to give in.”

          “Oh, alright, you’ve proven your case,” said Bowser.

          Bowser handed the jar to Mario, and Mario opened it up. Immediately, black smoke ran through his mouth and nostrils, and before he knew it, he was covered in the black smoke. His clothes gained a darker tone, like fruit rotting away. Soon, the black smoke started to build up behind him and take the shape of a female with long dreadlocks.

          “My reign of order has come to an end! Now, I will begin a reign of vengeance!” said Mario and the Shadow Queen at the same time.

          Mario waved his hand and blew the roof off. The Shadow Queen lifted herself through the towering caves to the surface of Paddestoel and into the sky, while Mario remained down in his corridor with the others. The Shadow Queen created her dark clouds that spread across to every region of the kingdom, creating lightning, creating fire, creating havoc throughout every region. It was happening all over again.

          Peach looked up at the now red-eyed Mario and ran up to him.

          “Mario!” she shouted to him, “I know you think you don’t have a strong will! I know you think you’re evil! But I know you better than that! From the very first time I met you, you were the sweetest, most innocent man in all of Brooklyn, and now, you’ve become the greatest hero in all of the Mushroom Kingdom! Don’t focus on all the bad things you’ve done! Try to remember all the good things you’ve done!”

          Suddenly, Mario remembered all the pictures he saw when Merlee was giving him the protection spell. They were all pictures of the great things he did. He started to remember why he was considered the great hero of the kingdom. Taking Peach on a date…. Coming to the kingdom when no one else could…. Freeing Yoshi… Defeating Bowser… Reviving Peach… Saving Gusty Gulch….. Saving Flower Fields…. Saving the Shy Guys….

          “Two weeks ago, you told me that I was the light of your inspiration! Well, you were always the light of mine too, Mario! Please come back to me… Please….”

          “SILENCE!” Just then, Bowser backhanded Peach into the wall, and she went unconscious.

          When Mario saw Bowser do this, he grew angry and sent his chaotic clouds towards Bowser, which then turned red and exploded, launching him into the night sky and sending him rocketing into space.

          Suddenly, Mario started to hear voices in his head. They were the voices of the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom, and they were calling out to him.

          “Mario, please save us…”

          “I know you can do it, Mario…”

          “Mario, you’re our last hope…”

          “Mario, you’re our hero…”

          “Mario, I’m sorry…” said Luigi.

          Suddenly, the black smoke started to glow, as did Mario’s eyes. Peach woke up to this light and couldn’t believe her eyes. The smoke was turning into bright clouds. Mario looked up at the black smoke above him. Suddenly, he felt the flow of energy streaming through his veins once more. He lifted his hands and used his newfound power to pull the Shadow Queen back down. Everyone nearby the hole she created looked down into the hole where the light was only getting brighter. Mario and the clouds were glowing so much that the closer the Shadow Queen got, the weaker she became. That light entered into her smoky body, and her darkness exploded greatly and vanished in a puff. After all the smoke disappeared, the light dimmed and Mario fell down. Peach ran up and dropped to her knees close to him, bringing his head up upon her knees, and he slowly opened his eyes.

          “Talk about reversing the roles, eh Peach?” whispered Mario.

          Peach let out a tear and blushed a little. Peach then looked behind them and saw that Merlon and Luigi had followed them down to the corridor. Suddenly, two apparitions appeared before them. One was a green puff of smoke that took the form of Merlee, and the other was the light blue spirit of Merle.

          “Spectacular work, Mario,” thanked Merle, “You have proven what we in the Alliance have been trying to prove for centuries; that it is not what gifts we have or where those gifts originated that make us who we are, but rather the choices we make that separates good from evil.”

          “But Merle, I have made so many wrong choices to get here,” said Mario.

“Perhaps, but in the end, you made the right choice and defeated the Shadow Queen. You brought hope back to the kingdom, and while complete peace will take a lifetime to obtain, everybody knows that you’ll be there to save the day.”

          “What was that spell? And what were those voices in my head?” asked Mario, now standing up.

          “Those were the prayers and pleas from everybody in the kingdom,” answered Merlee, “My spell gave you the ability to break from the darkness through the will to do good, and with every prayer, your will grew stronger. Like I said, the journey of a thousand miles can never be made alone.”

          “So, it was your spell that defeated the Shadow Queen,” said Mario, “How does that make me a hero after everything I did before?”

          “Think about it, Mario,” answered Merlon, “Would you have gotten all of those prayers if you never did the things you did? You may have made some mistakes in the past, but everything good you’ve done makes you a hero in the eyes of the citizens of all the Mushroom Kingdom!”

          Mario was enlightened like never before by everything these magicians told him. He felt like a true hero again, and he knew if he kept that confidence within him, he could triumph over anything.

          With that, Merle’s spirit vanished away, and Merlon pulled the cork out of a fat green bottle and pulled Merlee’s smoke into it. Mario hugged Peach, then Luigi, and they all walked up the stairs back to the Mushroom Kingdom, where peace was restored once more.

 

Conclusion

 

          About three months later, the kingdom was finally back on its feet. To celebrate, Peach held another party at her castle, and once again, she invited everyone from the Crystal Mountains to the Dry, Dry Desert. Mario hoped to see some familiar faces there.

          “Would you hurry up, Mario?” said Luigi as they were preparing to go. “We’re going to be late!”

          “Hang on, I have to fix up the tie on this tux!” said Mario, tying a bow-tie on his black tuxedo.

          “Jesus Christ, she’s going to be angry that we’re later than usual!”

          “She’ll forgive me! She told me to wear something more ravishing this time around! This is a special occasion after all.”

          Once Mario was done fixing himself up, he and Luigi headed out towards the castle. Once they arrived at the familiar 1st floor corridor, Mario immediately noticed that there was a podium at the front with a microphone where Peach was waiting. Mario immediately ran up to her.

          “What took you so long?” asked Peach.

          “You told me to wear a ravishing outfit!” replied Mario.

          “Fair enough,” she replied. She went up to the microphone and said “Representatives of the kingdom, I have an announcement. The kingdom’s loss caused by the Shy Guys has been fully restored. They will be rejoining their fellow citizens of Paddestoel, hopefully keeping their peace with them. I would also like to announce that I have become engaged to Mario Rosemary. He is a valiant hero worthy of becoming the new king, and I will gladly become his queen. We are to hold the wedding next year at the Star Festival.”

          The entire kingdom roared in applause as Mario and Peach kissed each other at this announcement.

          Suddenly, there was a gigantic crash outside of the castle. Everyone ran outside to see what it was. What they saw looked like a giant spaceship, its steel plate covered from top to bottom in flashing lights. On the side in front of the castle, a door opened up, and out stepped a bulky looking figure with a dome head with the same flashing lights and a giant x, a black robe with a red banner in front that also had a giant x, and a staff with glowing lights and another x.

          “Behold the glory that is Grodus, leader of the X-Nauts!” said the figure in a digitized deep voice, as hundreds of tiny x-shaped robots started zipping out of the ship. “We will dominate this city and be one step closer to conquering the entire kingdom!”

          “Not if I have anything to say about it!” said Mario, as Luigi handed him a mushroom and he gobbled it up. He gained his strength and ran off to deliver justice to another not-so-peaceful enemy. With every task Mario took, he was one step closer to bringing the kingdom to complete peace.

 

THE END

© 2011 C.M. Waters


Author's Note

C.M. Waters
Let me know what you guys think! This is the second part of a trilogy I had originally planned.

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Added on April 30, 2011
Last Updated on April 30, 2011

Author

C.M. Waters
C.M. Waters

Granbury, TX



About
I am currently a senior in high school. I am a creative visionary who originally had a dream of creating films until I realized that I didn't have access to enough of the necessary materials. One day,.. more..

Writing