Never Ending Story

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## Introduction

This is Mario Party Legacy's only collaborative writing project, and it is heavily focused on a sophisticated reading experience. We realize that taking time to read a lonely looking fan fiction on a game board is a definite gamble. With the wide array of quality swarming around on the internet, you have to take anything with a grain of salt. With that in mind, this project is absolutely a fan fiction set in the Mario world. By choosing to read this story, you are choosing to read a story where original characters of our own creation stumble upon a conflict unlike anything the Mario universe has seen and must deal with the consequences. This is not just a bunch of one-lined posts sloppily thrown together. To really set the mood, a brief description of each main character has been put below.

Like our passion for writing, this thread has not died--and hopefully never will without proper resolution. After creating this project in 2013 with three other writers, we tried our best to orchestrate a writing collaborative to capture the minds of those who gave us the honor of reading our fiction. However, the project was forcefully put on hold as this project suffered the demise of so many others: life. Although put on hold, it never quite went away. Looking on the bright side, we are back with full force and our message is to bring a quality of writing to you worth reading.

One more thing: despite the title, we feel as though all satisfying works of literature should have endings. In addition to this, we want the reader to have a satisfied feeling during the entire reading process. In order to bring both of those aspects alive, we will make sure to wrap up major plots along the way and address any questions that the community is feeling in our stories. Let's just say when one door closes, another door opens.



## Notices
Joining. We're open to new things.
Hey, you. This is not a one man show here. One major aspect of the Never Ending Story is the community feel it creates. From our header to the content in the story we compose, it is not the work of one but many. If you are interested in contributing in anyway to the Never Ending Story, please let me know right away! I will then send you a follow up PM with details on what we have available!

Posting in the thread. Come one, come all.
I encourage people to comment and post in the thread. Anything that will draw attention to the project (which would hopefully lead to the promotion of writing) is perfectly okay in my book. Feel free to critique or comment how you see fit! The only thing I ask is for you not to post large, over-bearing pictures of the Neverending Story movie because, let's be honest, who does that?



## Updates
| 07.19.2014 )) Did a major update on the entire first post, especially in the formatting and introduction. I may post an event tonight or sometime soon to get more activity on this.

| 06.20.2014 )) Welcome Luigidenne3DSGCN to the cast! She has had a very successful track record in the Stories forum here, and I look forward to having someone with her discipline on the team. She will be debriefed and be able to start shortly.

| 06.17.2014 )) Attempting to revive this project because I feel as though it'd be a fun project for the community. I'll start writing a few passages to get the ball rolling while attempting to get new people to sign up!



## Cast
[ Slacker's Characters ] [ 1 ]
Name: Slam
Class: Hammer Bro
Age: 15
Appearance: He looks like a normal Hammer Bro, except slightly shorter than usual. Slam also has a scar on the right side of his beak, which he refuses to talk about. His parents take great pride in how much he looks like all other hammer bros.
Personality: Slam has always wanted to be his own person. After his childhood consisted of him seeing Mario just breeze through every enemy thrown at him, he has been skeptical of just throwing himself into the heat of battle for Bowser. Often, he overthinks decisions and tends to distance himself from fellow Hammer Bro compatriots. Many people believe he separates himself because his family is very reputable, but really has many internal conflicts. Slam has a few close friends and has an arsenal of very advanced skills.
Bio: Slam's father was one of the first and one of the greatest Boomerang Bros to ever fight for Bowser; ever since retiring he has pushed Slam to achieve his same greatness. In the same vein, Slam's mom was a Hammer Sister. She was an Ice Sis to be exact, a specialized unit that presided in very cold climates for long periods of time. She cares for her son greatly, but still wishes to see him follow in his parents' footsteps. Since he was very little, Slam was enrolled in private combat training classes in order to make him an elite fighter. Though he was never overly enthused to waste his life by stepping in front of Mario, he still enjoyed these classes a lot. Since his parents were such famous fighters, Slam grew up in a wealthy household around other Hammer Bros of his same status. It comes as no surprise that his neighbor turned out to be his best friend. Many of the lower-ranking Koopas harbor a secret grudge against him because of how much attention he receives. Currently, Slam is in the Advanced Combat Academy for Hammer Bros and--in a few months--will become a soldier, shipped off to fight in an ominous war.

[ Luigidenne3DSGCN's Characters ] [ 1 ]
Name: Henrik
Class: Toad
Age: 20 (Male)
Appearance: A Yellow Toad Guard who fights with hammers; he wears a tan cloak to further distinguish himself from his other weapon-wielding peers.
Personality: A generally nice and loyal Toad (to Peach), but he has some troubles with friendships and alliances and the responsibilities that come with them.
Bio: All Henrik wants is to defend his home, so he took up the Toad Guard. Embarrassed to discover spear-combat wasn't a gift of his, he volunteered to work with hammers, wanting to use Bowser's own strategies against him after hearing a tale of Mario's.

Name: Grant
Class: Toad
Age: 28 (Male)
Appearance: Blue Toad; Rookie spear-wielder and patrolman
Personality: Pacifist at heart and former necrophobia sufferer; his age and background make him think differently than the usually younger and more eager Toads. Now a changed man, he is ready to take on enemies for his kingdom and really good when working with others.
Bio: He was just an ordinary first-year Toad Guard, despite joining relatively late due to the time it took to overcome his his fears until a strange encounter with beings dressed like Koopas suddenly catapults him to the center of an investigation that could potentially change the fate of the Mushroom Kingdom and is thrust alongside the higher ranks because of how big this is, but, hey, it definitely has its perks!

Name: Diane
Species: Ninji
Age: 21 (Female)
Appearance: Very dark purple; many can not distinguish her color from black. "She's quick and nimble when she needs to be."
Personality: Peculiar, one to hold a grudge, and highly curious.
Bio: Originally a subject and supporter of the Koopas, she begins to doubt herself after they allowed a Mushroom raid to inadvertently destroy her beloved school. She is recruited by the Third Reign because they couldn't find a Ninji who was male. She vows revenge on both sides until Henrik and Grant explain the truth, thus begins a journey learning just how good the good life is.

Name: Natalie
Class: Red Toadette
Age: 19 (Female)
Appearance: Similar to the Toadette's, but sports a red cap and vest; Henrik's somewhat distant girlfriend
Personality: Fair, quiet, versatile, has some girly-girl tendencies
Bio: A normal, average Toad girl. She fell in love with Henrik while he was training to become a Toad Guard, but he's always off somewhere, so they have no time for any sort of truly special date together, which is exactly why she joins him on his quest.



## Writers
// Slacker - profile
///// Posts: 7

// Luigidenne3DSGCN - profile
///// Posts: 1



## Special Events
( 07.06.2014 ) Banner Winner -- Thank you to VooDu for the lovely banner; it is a vast improvement over the NES acronym!

(
06.24.2014 ) Banner Entry -- The top of this post is looking a little lackluster, please let me know if anyone would be interested in creating a banner for the thread, I'm sure some sort of reward could be worked out?
 
Part One

He took a long sip from his drink and stared blankly out into the darkness. This restaurant had once been full of life and vibrant people--a hot spot in the city near Bowser's Castle. At this very moment though, the darkness was over-whelming to a point of almost envelopment. As he began to take another sip to take his mind off of the racing thoughts in his head, a door in the far corner of the restaurant squeaked open.

Like a bolt of lightning had just struck, every light in the restaurant came on.

"SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Slam could not help but crack a smile at all the hubbub going on in the Pizza Palace. It was a common hangout for all of his friends and him on the weekends; fair enough to say, he was a regular at this place. The memories here were endless for him: where he met his best friend, where he had his first date, where he went to celebrate his enrollment into a specialized combat academy.

Slam shook off a quick shiver as he thought about ACAHB--Advanced Combat Academy for Hammer Bros. His parents were once-famous fighters for Bowser's army who had actually survived Mario's many onslaughts, so it only made sense for them to push him into the academy. Nonetheless, he was in no mood to think about his training.

More importantly, it was his best friend's big day. Although they were now equal at the age of fifteen years, the two had known each other for almost ten years at this point.

"Congratulations on the big one-five, Beo!" Slammer shouted overly enthusiastic at his approaching friend. (The yell was hardly noticeable over the roaring chit chat of the too many people stuffed inside the small pizza place.) Beo was a big guy who stood in stark contrast to Slam's small stature. While Slam was technically a Slammer Bro--a Hammer Bro specializing in heavy equipment and hand-to-hand combat--Beo was a very intimidating and strong Hammer Bro. Although Hammer Bro's were not specifically trained with any extra skills, Slam would by no means want to get in a fight with Beo.

"How's my little Napoleon doing?" Beo answered back with his crooked smile. He was a smart guy, even as a little kid. Slam decided that the best response to this snarky comment would be an eye roll since Beo was about to be swarmed with relatives and friends alike; the two had no time to get into a witty retort that they had become so fond of. Beo realized this as well and acknowledged Slam with a head nod as he withdrew back into the crowd of people who came to his surprise birthday party.

Although he knew Beo well, he could not say the same for everyone in his immediate sight. He thought about striking up a conversation with a nearby Koopa Troopa who was adorned with a turquoise-colored shell but decided against it. The two made awkward eye contact before Slam cracked a nervous smile and slipped out a back exit to get some fresh air.

Slam had never been a big fan of Bowser, but he could appreciate the location where Bowser set up his fortress. Pizza Palace's exit led right to a ridge that overlooked a gorgeous valley. Streaks of white danced on the vibrant green, turf-like state of the valley. Warp pipes were arranged in the shape of a star at the very bottom. If it was just for decoration, the warp pipes would seem like a huge waste of resources; however, Slam's father told him that all of those pipes used to be functional until Bowser had them all filled to the brim with sand (with no explanation of why he did so of course). Slam's curiosity overran his mind as he wondered why exactly Bowser would need to fill all of those big green pipes with sand. Surely, there must have been a pretty good reason...

"Hey, what are you doing back here?" questioned an unfamiliar voice behind him. As Slam turned around, he saw a face that he was certainly not expecting.
 
The shine of the turquoise shell was almost blinding as Slam turned to face his surprise acquaintance. The Slammer Bro didn't have an immediate answer to the question being presented to him and unintentionally gave the Koopa Troopa a blank stare.

"Err oh I didn't mean to be so harsh haha," the Koopa Troopa managed to sputter out in a desperate attempt to make the situation less awkward. He swiftly walked over to Slam and took a seat right next to him--an unexpected but welcome move to Slam.

The Koopa Troopa continued, "I knew I recognized you from somewhere." Slam held his breath, earnestly hoping that the following sentence from this new friend wouldn't involve his parents or family fame in any way, shape, or form. He had already had enough of that--and the turquoise-clad fellow could tell. "Yeah, I'm a year behind you at the academy! My name is Kooler, nice to meet you!"

Slam felt a wave of relief wash over him, "oh hey, nice to meet you too!" Subconsciously, is gaze kept returning back to the pipes at the bottom of the valley; he did not mean to be rude, but his mind was on fire with excitement and wonder. Kooler noticed this but didn't immediately comment on it because he didn't want to seem like he was calling out Slam. His actions were carefully calculated and planned, which stood in stark contrast to Slam's aura of childlike wonder that he kept omitting in their conversation.

"I'm not sure if you're supposed to know this, but we've seen a few videos of you out in the field, your precision and tact is pristine--top-notch if I'm being honest. The academy has me ranked near the top of my class and all of us are miles away from your level. Not that I'm trying to suck up to you-"

Slam's ears perked up and he forced a smile as soon as Kooler mentioned his work in the field. "Oh trust me, I appreciate the feedback." Slam had been hand-picked to fight in a couple of small scuffles in Bowser's front line. Most recruits were incredibly scared to partake in such an experience, but he had been trained to deal with much tougher opponents. A few Fighting Toads were effortless to take care of. Regardless of difficulty, Slam felt very ambivalent over the entire experience and it was something that he did not care to think about. Fighting the Toads almost seemed... wrong. It's not like he could confide in anyone about this; any talk of it would be treason and who knows what Bowser would do to him and his family.

Slam turned his attention to Kooler who had begun to gaze off into the distance after several moments of silence. "I'm so sorry, usually I'm not so spacey during a conversation," Slam began, "but I don't get many chances to look at this beautiful valley."

"Ahh, so we finally found his weakness," Kooler said as he cracked a foolish grin. "And those pipes are certainly captivating as well, I remember hearing about them for the first time."

They both looked at each other when the topic of the warp pipes came up. Slam liked the kid; he seemed like a nice guy who shared some of his similar interests. "I've got a few theories myself about what's in there," Slam commented as they both continued sitting carelessly on the ridge.

A large thud in the ground interrupted the flow of the conversation, like a peaceful river suddenly turning into a waterfall. Quickly, Slam slide and spun over to where some foreign object had hit the ground. Reaching a foot into the ground, he pulled out a hammer with the insignia of the Mushroom Kingdom Army embedded on it. Just as he looked up from examination of the hammer, he saw another one raining down right on his position. Instinctually, he swung the hammer in his hand quickly and made contact with the new weapon coming at him--sending it flying away. He looked at Kooler, who seemed like he was in shock.

"We need to go," Slam ordered, "now."
 
The two busted through the door with the intent of escape evident on their faces. Slam attempted to warn everyone in the pizzeria to clear out, but his warning was rudely interrupted by the sounds of hammers crashing against the back wall where both Koopas had originated from. Regardless of whether the party-goers heard Slam or not, they all realized that something terrible was occurring and that they needed to evacuate immediately.

Unfortunately for the attackers, the majority of Beo's friends were trained in military combat. After the restaurant was vacated, Slam, Beo, and all of the other fighters assembled a frontline across the street from the building they previously occupied. Mysteriously, the onslaught of blunt objects seemed to stop nearly as soon as everyone made it outside.

"It's a trap," Slam said to no one in particular. "They want us to go back inside." He knew that no one knew who exactly he was talking about when he said 'they,' but at this point he didn't really care. The training that had pushed his physical and emotion limits was exposing itself instinctually and not a single person in the crowd was going to question him at this point.

Except for Beo. "What are we lookin' at, bud?" Beo asked earnestly. At the time of the question, several scenarios were zipping through Slam's mind. Therefore, as an answer, he took a hold of the hammer that he grabbed moments before being hit, making sure the Mushroom Kingdom Army insignia was obnoxiously obvious. After being taken aback, Beo shot a glance at Slam, "What now?"

"I say we go in," a voice piped up nearby. Still focused, the voice didn't register in Slam's mind as everyone else turned toward the idea's owner--Kooler. Slowly, the crowd rose in agreement.

Typical, thought Slam. Those involved in Bowser's Reign were not likely to back off of a challenge. He found it particularly odd that Kooler would be the one to suggest this plan of attack though; the turquoise ally seemed much more analytical and careful than his headstrong strategy would suggest. To be fair, everyone's adrenaline was rushing at this point. While Slam was lost in thought, the crowd's slow rise to agreement soon became a roar and then a battle cry. Everything seemed to happen so fast after the crowd began to riot.

Slam was pushed forward and through the restaurant's doors as one of the leaders of the rebellion--albeit very against the plan in the first place. As always, Beo would be the trusty ally flanking on his right, with Kooler flanking any enemies on the left.

"It's an ambush," Slam yelled back as he charged into the positioned Mushroom Kingdom Army; he was up for a challenge. However, to his grave disappointment, he did not make it halfway across to his waiting enemies before everything went black
 
ANNOUNCEMENT
Liking what you're seeing so far? Not liking what you're seeing so far? Great!
Either way, the NES team would greatly appreciate anyone who would be interested in whipping up a quick banner for the first post of our thread. Just look at the title. It's so embarrassed that it needed to use an acronym. Wow that's rough.
But you can change all of that! You could be our knight in shining armor! Let's be honest, who wouldn't want to be decked out in some crazy awesome armor--it's all I wear anymore.

Interested?
Perfect, you don't even have to do anything right away. In fact, I encourage procrastination because I'm just that stand up of a guy.
scarecrow_2361807b.jpg

All you have to do is PM me or post in this thread in the next couple of days so I know that some of you nice and incredibly handsome people are out there. Otherwise I'll have to make something (to the equivalent of a child's finger-painting). From there, I'll give you some more details if you're interested in making the banner and let you know if there's anyone else. Of course if you got the gusto and don't like playing by the rules, feel free to make a banner right away and send it to me. I won't (and can't) stop you!
 
Elsewhere on the battlefield, a Yellow Toad was looking through his binoculars, then he gave them to a comrade and turned to him; "Are those the beings you saw beneath the pipes discussing an attack?" "Yes, Comrade Henrik." "Just as I suspected." Henrik called his units: "Spears!" The crew with spears roared with excitement. "Hammers!" "READY!" "Torches!" "RAAAAHHHH!" For the Mushroom Kingdom!" After making sure everyone was ready, he took his colored lance and waved the direction of further advance to his fellow troops. His band of Toads marched toward the one of the Hammer units, tossing quite a few hammers in advance in an attempt to scare them. As the Toads marched on, Henrik and his friend scoured the field, searching for the particular Koopas he saw in question.
    "There's one over there!" "I see him. Grant, cover me." Henrik grabbed a Koopa Troopa by the side and shook him until near dizziness; "What were you up to in the tunnels?" "What do you mean?" "My buddy here saw you with some partners in treason and you were looking pretty suspicious." "I wasn't anywhere near the tunnels; I swear!" Henrik held a hammer inches from the Koopa's face. "I'm telling you-I was cleaning the kitchen utensils!" "Grant, is this the guy?" "Now that I get a closer look at him, I remember that the Koopas I saw had creepy eyes, much deeper voices, and faint patchwork marks on their faces." "So he was an imposter," Henrik grumbled. He hopped on the Koopa and threw its shell toward several enemy Bob-ombs, knocking them like marbles. "If those Koopas weren't down there, than who was?"
 
The light was bright. Very blurry, but the brightness of the overhead light seemed to bring Slam out of an unconscious state and back into a bitter reality. To his discomfort, he shot up right away with memories of being on the battlefield still lingering. However, he was in no danger. In fact, he was lying comfortable in his clean, white hospital room being attended to by a cute Koopa nurse watching over him. She was startled at first with Slam's immediate movement, although she was not confused as most of the injured soldiers exhibited this kind of behavior.

Similar to the startled nurse calming her nerves, Slam's body soon adjusted to reality and the pain receptors within him lit up like a Christmas Tree. The pain had many sources scattered all throughout the body, but the most intense feeling came from his beak. Upon touching it and examining the injury with his hand, he found that his beak had been cracked. Looking to the nearby nurse to confirm that he could unravel the bandage that was wrapped around the injury, he soon began the long, tense unwind after receiving her nod. Soon, the wrap was off and Slam snatched the small bedside mirror. The first thing he noticed in the mirror was his concerned face. Not long after, he saw that his beak was not actually cracked still, but there was a scar on his beak. The very moment he saw it, Slam felt an odd ambivalence about how the scar look on his otherwise unmangled beak--on one hand the mark made him different in comparison to all other Koopas. On the other hand, his scar could represent failure; this was most likely the response he would receive from everyone in Bowser's reign.

Thinking of how everyone else would react, Slam noticed a neat-looking guestbook on the corner of his bedside table. Cautiously optimistic, he opened it up in order to see who signed it and wished him well. To his immense disappointment, he saw two names and two notes--neither of which were from his parents. Thinking about it, he assumed his parents would be too ashamed of him to visit since he made one mistake. An all-too-familiar feeling of annoyance crept up from beneath his skin as he brushed it off and decided to look at the two people who did care about his well-being.

Your injury means you won't be able to talk as much right? We were all getting tired of your rambling, you know!
- Your partner in crime, Beo

I'm so sorry...
- Kooler


The idiotic smile that Slam had on his face from Beo's snarkiness soon evaporated upon reading what Kooler had left him. Curiosity enveloped his mind, leaving him in a brief stupor. Something seemed very odd from what Kooler had written him; the ambiguous sorry could have meant anything. More often than not, Slam would take apologies like this at face value and appreciate the sentiment, yet he sensed there was something off about his new comrade. Citing his restlessness as the reason for his suspicion of Kooler, he temporarily pushed memories of the guestbook out of his mind and turned to the nurse. She was still watching over him. Patiently, with a caring and unassuming smile on her face.

"Glad to see you so up and attentive, you were unconscious for a few days there. The hit to your beak reverberated to your head and left you in a state of unconsciousness; it had to have been a nasty blow to keep you out cold for this long," the nurse remarked.

Slam produced a smile and answered, "Thank you for taking care of me. When can I leave?" There was business he needed to take care of.
 
The nature that surrounded him was absolutely silent, allowing him to think in peace. Slam walked home and decided that he needed to digest everything that had happened to him; although he had a suspicious feeling about past events, there was an ever-creeping feeling of self-doubt in his abilities. Even if someone betrayed him, thoughts of how he could have missed the attack wedged into his mind and would not leave despite Slam's best efforts. A casual rustle of leaves shook him out of a trance of deep thinking and back into the all too familiar attack mode. Yet, there was no one there--nature was simply toying with his emotions. Although his confidence took a great deal of damage, the physical embodiment of damage could have been far greater. Slam was that the scar on his beak was the only permanent damage that he would have to suffer through.

"Slam."

Like the leaves before, someone's unfamiliar voice sharply interrupted his calming, pacifistic train of thought. What he saw next though, froze him to his very core. Slam quickly swiveled around to ensure that he did not miss the person who called out his name, yet he saw no one. Still on edge and jittery from his incident, he continue to rotate about, scanning his immediate environment for any source of the voice. His search was to no avail, and the icy wind that sliced through his body gave him a strong feeling of uneasiness.

"You are not ready, child."

Slam did not bother to look around again, feeling foolish and insecure still from his last attempt. He deliberated talking out to the voice, but at the same time he felt no inclination to give the people of Bowser's Kingdom a reason to think he had gone insane from a blow to the head. With a quiet feeling of indifference, he trudged forward on his way home. He already had a myriad of problems to deal with, and he was not going to add hallucinations to the list of ailments he was suffering. An icy wind continued to blow his way, stronger and crisper than before. Although he was very tempted to start jogging in order to raise his body temperature, Slam settled on upgrading his purposeful walk to a brisk walk. Rather annoyed at everything that was happening in his life, he decided promptly after to go straight to Beo's house in search for answers rather than returning home. One benefit of being in the hospital was that no one expected him to be released so soon, providing him a few days to search for answers that he wasn't even sure were there.

With Beo's home in sight, the previously subdued nature around him sprung to life. While the nature around him was livelier than the rest of his walk, there was one element of what he was hearing that did not bode well with him. Regardless of his doubts, he pushed through his heavily self-centered walking experience with the knowledge that Beo would at least have some helpful insight if not the answer to what had happened to Slam in the heat of battle. Stepping closer and closer to Beo's home only caused Slam's confidence and optimism to grow in size.

Just then, a bright wave of light flashed before his eyes. Before his mind could put together a coherent reaction, a wave of heat followed the light and forcefully pushed him back a fair distance. Explosion. Beo. Fire. All thoughts fired through his consciousness forcefully as he felt a very intense panic. The voice that had escaped his grasp during the walk now resurfaced in the form of what appeared to be a guardian angel.

"You are in danger here. You must leave now."
 
ANNOUNCEMENT
Title - Although we will probably be sticking with our NES title for a while, we would like to hear what everyone has to say on the matter. What new title do you think would work well for what we have so far? Also, let us know what you think about the title Never Ending Story itself--does it draw you in?

We would also really appreciate if other people posted in the thread so we know that we have some people out there who are engaged in the story. Any sort of comment or question or critique would give us a huge boost in our work!
 
Flying embers assaulted the ground around Slam. In a massive state of confusion and with all of his senses over-whelmed, he had no choice but to obey the unidentifiable voice that was directing him. The compounding injury of being in close vicinity to a massive explosion only added to his healing beak wound as he stood up. Very disillusioned by the loud noise and bright fire everywhere, he decided the best escape route from the scene would be the opposite way. Just as Slam was beginning his run to leave the area, he spotted a massive crowd of people coming toward him in the direction that he was planning on escaping. With adrenaline kicking in full force, he put his head down and sprinted head-first into the firey remains that used to be his best friends house.

"Careful, now. The left side has pockets of gas that will explode any second."

Slam fought his aching body and picked up his pace to a dead sprint of inconceivable speed for a Hammer Bro, tilting right to but a barrier between himself and any imposing remnant danger left on the earth. As he rounded the right side of Beo's residence, he frantically dodged blurs of trees standing in his path. The rush he was feeling blunted his overall pain, yet the heat emitted from the house become a serious presence. Finally, he passed the dangerous structure, and his body passed the notion to collapse from heat exhaustion for the time being. As his pace began to slow back down in the absence of danger, his already ringing ear heard another unwelcomed blast from Beo's house--the leaking gas must have caused a secondary explosion.

Luckily, the second time around was no where near as extreme as the initial explosion, and Slam was far enough away to only feel a gentle nudge rather than the violent toss he felt earlier. Nevertheless, he wanted to be as far away from the mysterious situation as possible; therefore, his jog turned into a run. A hidden area or some sort of camouflaged space sounded ideal for the time being until he could make sense of the world again. Fortunately, Slam spotted a shoddy, abandoned-looking cabin hidden by trees and stowed away at the end of a rock trail branching off from a side road. Quickly, he cut sharply toward his new destination.

He didn't need any more trouble for the time being. When he was nearing the end of the rock trail leading to the cabin, he began to slow himself and make his steps very quiet. Very carefully, he approached the house and circumnavigated it, checking in the broken windows for any sign of life inside. When he felt comfortable about the cabin, he tried the front door. It was locked. In no mood for this minor inconvenience after everything that he had to suffer through, Slam attempted to kick the door down only to be met with a very firm rejection. He pondered the door for a while, as the material composing the door looked like it was about to rot into a sharp pile of discard. Assuming that trying to break the door would only cause more injury to himself, he immediately decided to try his luck on the roof; the small windows lined with broken shards of glass did not seem like an appealing option at the time.

Awkwardly, he began climbing the back right corner of the cabin until he reached the flat roof. Slam spotted what he assumed to be a square smoke hatch and opened it to reveal a relatively safe way inside. While climbing inside, he could hear the roar of the crowd he saw earlier increasing. This cabin was fairly well hidden and arduous to gain access inside, so he felt safe that the crowd couldn't get him here--even if they did see him turn and run in this general direction.

Slam landed with a thud inside. The inside of the cabin looked unexpectedly cozy for what its outer structure hinted at. On a first glance, every corner seemed to be filled with something; the back right corner logically had a fireplace underneath the fire escape, the back left corner housed a navy bed that looked eager to rest the weary, the front left corner had a table and chair for the creative, and the front right corner of the house had storage for any necessities. The middle of the cabin was pretty open for the overall surface area covered. Although, there was some strange marking on the floor that Slam tried to decipher.

"Finally, we can talk in peace," the deep, mysterious voice revealed to Slam.
 
Although the weather had not changed outside, the inside of the structure seemed to dim just slightly enough to create a powerfully dark mood. Slam waited in silence for what he perceived to be several minutes, until he felt something. At first, he believed the sensation he felt was his own body shaking; after all, he had no recollection of being this scared in his entire life. The longer the silence led on, the harder the pressures of the recently occurring catastrophes pressed down on him--an outcast from Bowser's Kingdom now as the mob of people looking for him suggested. However, as the shaking of his body increased, he realized that the origin of the movement was from his right side pocket. At the moment of looking down to investigate what caused the swaying of his body, a bright light escaped through the top of his pocket, temporarily blinding Slam and causing him to stumble and fall to the floor.

After a few necessary seconds of recovery, he slowly steadied himself to a stance and looked into his pocket--it was empty. Accustomed to entirely illogical situations, Slam only felt a twinge of surprise that faded after a few seconds. He decided to scan the room he was in for any clues, but came up empty as it was becoming increasingly difficult to see after only a few minutes. Curious as to why light seemed to be evaporating from the world around him, he gazed out of a window to check on the weather, which seemed like a reasonable explanation.

The sun poured down from the late afternoon sky. He redirected his glance back inside.

Although darker than before, he noticed that there was something different about the inside of the cabin that had changed from its previous appearance. Taking a very thorough look around the room clued him in on the small yet significant difference: a dark foreign object had been placed in the center of the room, lying on top of the markings that Slam was in the middle of decrypting. His intent stare was soon met with unconscious steps forward. A mental battle ensued between his cautionary instincts of staying away from the potentially dangerous object and his immense curiosity and thirst for answers to his now-troubling life. Even though he could not make up his mind, his body seemed to be drawn forward. Step. After step. After step, until he was only a mere foot away.

The object began to light up, confirming that this was what was inside of Slam's pocket. On this occasion, the brightness climbed at a slower intensity as opposed to the blinding visual before and was now visible. The petite thing that had been haunting Slam for the past few moments resembled a mushroom, except the top was a shiny yellow with deep, black dots, and the bottom hue was a very pure white. Slam began to debate picking it up when a soft voice resonated throughout the room.

"Hello, my son. There is no doubt that you have several questions pertaining to your situation, but I wanted to inform you that I pose no danger to your safety and only wish for you to hear me out." The voice was indescribable, almost over-whelming, but Slam managed to produce a hurried head nod for the mushroom to continue talking.

"You have befallen a most terrible fate. The winds carried me to the doorstep of your friend Beo several days ago. I passed along the message that it was of vital necessity that I be on your person before you entered any kind of conflict. Therefore, I slipped into your pocket before your charge against the Mushroom Kingdom battalion. Because of this close timing, I could not warn you that a Koopa had been sent to destroy you. As you suspected, the assassin I speak of is none other than the new face, Kooler, you interacted with not too long ago. Unfortunately, he is but a mere pawn in the grand scheme of conflict that is about to ensue over both Kingdoms.

"As you may have discerned, a grand war between the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser's personal army is on the horizon--a struggle unlike any other to hit this world. A third party, composed of many beings from both sides of the conflict, has instigated such event in order to tear down both sides and gain control over all of the land. The purpose of why they have gained rise recently and what they would do with all who inhabited their property is unclear, but I have a terrible, ominous feeling that everything would plunge into darkness, creating a dark age. This information I bring you is rock solid, I can guarantee; as for my sources, they will be revealed in time, but for now you must place your trust into me."

Slam's gaze softened. What he was hearing seemed to make sense, but all of it was coming from some strange mushroom that could communicate with him. Regardless, he focused in and decided to hear the rest of the message.

"I can tell that you are slightly confused on why a mushroom is talking to you. While we have a small bit of time on our hands, I would like to tell you about where I come from, and why the fate of the world now rests on your shoulders." The strong echo pinging around the room faded, only to be met with a forceful strike of lightning crashing into the ground nearby. A steady rainfall began piling up outside of the room where the two were situated. Slam's eyes never left the divine figure in front of him.




A bigger part, but I enjoyed myself on this one.
 
The smell of the rain entered through the broken windows, elegantly dancing around the shards of glass lying in wait for prey. The scent was over-whelming, but Slam was perfectly content with the wafting scent pairing with the pitter patter of the rain outside--the weather had been acting odd ever since he dropped inside. Diverting his thought to a matter more applicable, he remembered that he had taken a few academic courses in school to learn about the history of the Mushroom Kingdom, but the figure that appeared before him was of no familiarity to anything he had ever been taught. He took a deep breath and prepared himself for what he was about to hear. The voice seemed to take control of the room as it spoke:

"I, what appears before you, have taken the form of a mushroom to communicate with you. Despite what tales you have heard of heroism, there is more to this world than just Mario, Bowser, and conflict. Many people have sought after knowledge of how this entire universe was created, and luckily for you, I am one of its designers. Back before there was any physical land, there was simply the universe. Over time, matter became aware of itself, until the entities of five beings were formed in order to create and govern a land. Our names refer to the five essential elements; I am the Deity of Quintessence--responsible for the region of the universe outside of the terrestrial sphere. The other deities include Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Although we are goddesses, we had to take this form in order keep watch over all of the Mushroom Kingdom; therefore, we are known in some circles as the Sacred Shrooms. This is all of the background knowledge that is required of you.

"We used to be housed in a shrine, always ready to protect the world should any uncontrollable outside forces come into contact with the land that we created. However, some devious group besieged our sacred grounds and--despite our purest efforts--we could not ward off our invaders before they took the Deity of Fire. There are many unknowns surrounding this occurrence, even for us. Despite our status, we do not have control over minds and do not have any idea of how this treacherous force could have reached us. However, we do realize the immense danger this poses.

"Without the final Sacred Shroom, we lack a very critical part of our defense to protect all that we have built. In addition to this, there is untold destruction in the power that the Deity of Fire has if her captors find a way to harness the said power. Although we were not prepared for a situation such as this, we must fight back in order to bring balance to the universe once again, and we have selected you as a suitable candidate to embody our spirit in the physical world. I am sorry to force you into such a position, but please realize that we have no other option--without a link to this world, we cannot ensure the safe return of our fellow Sacred Shroom back to the shrine. Please accept this task before you."

Slam stared at the glowing mushroom on the ground before him. After several days of being silent to the vociferous world around him, he could no longer keep silent at the chaos surrounding him. "Is Beo okay?"

The mood as well as the appearance of the room lightened up, "Yes my child, he was not at home while his residence was attacked. And your friend has done us a great service in delivering me to you. He understood the importance of why you are necessary, and he knows exactly what you are capable of... We all do. There are reasons for your involvement in this conflict that we cannot yet voice to you, but know that the knowledge of your power will come in time. I apologize for pushing the issue, but I need your answer now: Will you accept our proposition?"

End of Part One
 
    Henrik and Grant were baffled; who would be down there discussing the downfall of the Mushroom Kingdom? They gained special permission to venture deep into the tunnels. They stepped onto a deep concrete slab. Grant guided Henrik by the path he took previously, but made a left turn as opposed to right, thinking that would keep the people he saw off-guard. "Say, um, Grant," "Yeah?" "Do you think that we could go after them?" "Only if there's one or two." They creeped down, then jumped down into the room where Grant had seen the costumed "Koopas."

    Instead they found a lone Bob-omb who turned menacingly towards them. "Hello there-From the Mushroom Kingdom I suppose," it spoke giving them evil eyes. Henrik and Grant flashed their weapons as it slowly walked towards them. Grant rapidly scratched his spear on the ground, creating a spark to light the Bob-omb's fuse. As the duo was preparing the next attack, a Ninji tackled and struggled with Henrik. Grant grabbed one of his buddy's larger mallets and  smacked the Bob-omb with it, sending straight to the wall, dizzy. After a while, it blew up without harming anyone else. During that intermission, Henrik had gained the upper hand with the Ninji and threw it over. Henrik stood with hammer in tow, about to hit, but there was something its voice revealed about it, a source he just couldn't finish off.

    The Ninji got up and spoke, "So, the Mushroom Kingdom does have charity." "Yes, it does," Grant said calmly, "We fight for good," Henrik added. The Ninji held out its hand towards Henrik. He calmly accepted it. "I'm Diane," the Ninji said. "Wait, what do you mean you're surprised by charity; we've got loads of it," Henrik asked her. "Well, you see, after my school was destroyed I began to lose hope when just recently these guys said that they were going to take over with the powers of both the Koopa and Mushroom Kingdoms and they needed a Ninji; they taught me everything and that the Mushroom people are flailing wimps and maniacs, but in you two I see otherwise." The trio heard several oncoming footsteps. Henrik told the others that the numerical odds were most likely stacked against them and that they should leave right away.

    Once they were in the clear, Henrik, Grant, and Diane took a breather,"Elaborate more on this group, if you please," Henrik said to Diane. She began to look shy, "But..." Henrik interrupted her: "Look, I know I'm not supposed to say this to anyone outside the Toad Guard, but that was an accident; we have our standards and we would never wanna hurt the welfare of children." Diane smiled and continued, "Well, the Third Reign are these guys who want to rule their own realm-rebels I guess you could call them." "I can't stand rebellion-Anyone who dares even think about attacking those who serve the princess is an enemy of mine," Henrik grumbled. Grant suggested that he calm down, then turned to Diane, gesturing for her to continue. "I heard some members discussing their dreams, a shrine and how they're gonna return there in a couple days and some sort of fire spirit." "A shrine? We have to get to the bottom of this," Henrik declared. Grant agreed; "Right."

    The gang finished their debriefing, spent lots of hours researching, packed their bags, and were about to set off when a high-pitched voice called out, "Henriiiiiiiik!" They turned around to find a red-clad Toad girl sprinting towards them. Henrik cringed. "Natalie, I..." "I've decided to come with you!, so we can have our special time together! I'll do what I can!" "Henrik blushed and spoke up, "This is serious and dangerous, and you don't even have any known combat skills to speak of." "But I do have testimonial approval; while you were out, I happened to run across Luigi and I asked him for his autograph. I told him I had a boyfriend who I said was going with on a treasure hunt with and he wished both of us both good luck-he even wrote it beside his name." "Natalie, that's entirely irr...uh...um..." "There's no stopping her, is there," Grant sighed to Henrik. "Well, she is my girlfriend," he replied. They all agreed, like it or not, Natalie would make a fine addition to the team and upon waving their last goodbyes, the four set off in search of the Sacred Mushrooms.
 
    Using a series of clues handed down by generations, they found their way to the shrine. Grant put some rocks into a sack and beckoned Diane to come with him, telling Henrik and Natalie to stay out looking for any suspicious folk. They happily agreed. Once Grant and Diane entered, Grant kneeled down an put his hand on his forehead telling the deities they meant no harm. They came across a bridge overcrossing a huge hole. Grant threw one of the stones inside and  ferocious red eyes appeared near where it fell. When Grant looked back at the bridge, much to his surprise, Diane was already at the other side. "How did you do that?" She just told him to hurry up. Grant pointed his spear toward the monster and proceeded to tell it to stay back as he paced across the bridge. "But Seriously, how did you do that," he said again to Diane. "Just some simple wall jump tactics; it's all about avoiding the ground as much as possible." "Wow."They next came upon a wall of bones. Grant breathed deeply, closed his eyes, and ran through, slashing them with villain-like ferocity. When Diane caught up with him, she asked him what that was about. "My past-they kept me from reaching my true potential.

After conquering numerous other traps, they finally reached the room where Sacred Shrooms were kept. To their horror, there were five holes, but only three Mushrooms on the pedestal. They stood in disbelief. "It's even worse than I thought." Diane cut in saying the Third Reign only had the Deity of Fire. Then, she slowly and unconsciously leaned in to grab one of the Mushrooms until Grant stopped her. "Why did you do it," he asked. "I just feel like there's something in the air that wants me to-there's also this woman" After careful analysis, they determined that the Deities of Wind, Water, and Earth were the three still there and that the woman Diane claimed to see was the Deity of Wind. Grant stood staring at the Mushrooms making a prayer to the deities. He then turned to Diane and spoke to her; "If you want the Sacred Shroom of Wind, then I'll let you have it," "What?" "There's no telling what could happen when both the Sacred Shroom of Fire and Quintessence are missing and I'm not taking any chances of the Third Reign having them both together. Do you trust me?" "Yes," she said and nodded. She carefully took the Mushroom and concealed it.

When they reunited with Henrik and Natalie, both were astonished to their core by the events. Diane circumspectly explained the details of what they discovered, her belief of the Wind Deity speaking to her, and future plans. "We must gather a large portion of the Mushroom Army and end this once and for all." The four returned to the Mushroom Kingdom and convinced the highest commanders and their units to join their crusade, ordering troops stationed at every underground entrance/exit on Mushroom soil to make sure no enemies could escape. When Henrik gave the signal, everyone else who volunteered barged into the pipes on all corners for the grand attack.
 
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