The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part V)

“Luigi, No!”

As his brother lost his footing and fell before the face of the deadly creature, he nearly lost his own as well.  His right foot came down upon the crown of the next and slipped, causing him to fall in that direction.  Even as he felt his weight shift, he tucked his shoulder, put his chin to his chest, and rolled, coming back to his feet a safe distance away.

His heart thundered in his chest, fear replacing the exhilaration that had been there only moments before.  As he kept a cautious eye on the advancing creatures, of which there were still too many, he desperately scanned the area he had last seen his brother.

“Ha-ha,” he yelled as he jumped once more into the air.  It was an effective, if but a little gross, way of travel, but it was quicker then trying to dodge these malevolent things.  One, two, three more were squished as he bounced from one to the next, the last closing the distance between him and Luigi.

The latter was crawling backwards, frantically crab-walking away from three of the bug-eyed mushrooms, with a terrified look in his eyes.

“M-m-m-Mario,” he yelled.  The Goombas were nearly upon him.  The foul smell they emitted, a cross between rotten vegetation and death, permeated his nostrils, choking out his next words.  His legs trembled, and he had run out of room.  Though he continued to scramble away from his approaching doom, something strong prevented him from continuing.

He suddenly found his breath, and what came next was one of the loudest screams to ever pass his lips.  It was born of terror, and it passed through barriers that would normally prevent his vocal cords from climbing so high.  His was a shriek, high and feminine, and for a brief moment, it gave his enemy pause.  Just enough so that his brother, who was standing just behind him, could lift him to his feet, turn him around, and lay one across the side of his face.

The smack brought Luigi back to his senses, and though it stung, he was the opposite of upset.  His brother, ever the level-headed of the two, pulled him towards a small clearing, a place in this meadow of death where the creatures had yet to unleash their deadly slime.

“Are you good,” Mario asked him, his hands on both of Luigi’s shoulders.

“I-I think so,” his brother answered.  “But did you have to smack me?”

“No time for that now,” Mario answered.  “We need to come up with a plan.”

He looked around somberly, and despite being as afraid of the creatures as his brother had so recently displayed, he fought to keep his feelings buried.  He needed to stay focused if they were going to get out of this alive.  Not only out of this situation, but he had to also find some way to rescue the girl.

He briefly scanned the creatures before them.  While, at first, it had looked like they were hopelessly outnumbered, he was able to determine that only a dozen more remained.  They were slow, but determined, and their advance had continued without pause.  There were only moments before the two of them would be embattled once more.

“We have to finish them,” he said breathlessly.

“Mario, I-”

“-can do this,” he finished for Luigi.  “Focus, brother!  There’s no way out of this, unless we work together!”

 

 

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The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part III)

Toad’s legs were like tiny pistons, working tirelessly as they carried him further into the fort’s interior.  Though it was small on the outside, the halls beneath it were many, and it would be several minutes before he reached his destination.

Toad was very different from the majority of his people.  Unlike most, who were happy to integrate into society per norm, he was born with an adventurous spirit. As a child, while his siblings and peers were performing light duties to help their parents, he was exploring dark caverns, or climbing magic vines, just to see where they’d lead him.

When he wasn’t questing, he spent his time running.  Toad was the fastest creature this side of the kingdom, aside from the wild yoshi, but those were so rare that it was hard to find contest in the claim.  He found comfort in the movements that his body made.  The light swing of his arms, the flex and relaxing of the muscles in his legs, the steady intake and release of the air needed to continue, all had become second nature to him.

So in the comfort of running he retreated as the stone walls blurred past him, and he soon took little notice of his surroundings.  He had traversed this path enough times to know the route by heart.  As he ran, he had to occasionally duck under the arms of various slave workers, who were busy with the construction of the interior. He dodged when another of his folk, a youngling by measure, stumbled into a pile of unwound Bob-ombs, the latter whose lifeless eyes seemed to accuse any who looked upon them.

A shiver ran down his spine, sending a chill throughout his body as he expected one of the dangerous orbs to suddenly come to life.  Before he could find out, he was running down another corridor and the scene was long behind him.

He was only stopped once when, ahead of him, a Magikoopa was using its magic to command a small group of Drybones to work.  Four of the undead koopa were tethered to a mighty Thwomp trap, a living block covered in spikes and whose sole purpose was to kill any that cross its path, and were dragging it toward a rope and pulley.  There, it would be taken to the top of the corridor and placed in its hidden alcove, where it would await its victims.

He knew that it wouldn’t be long before even he was unable to pass through here, and his little heart grieved for the prisoner below.  He had yet to see the dreaded King of the Koopas, but if the fear in the eyes of all those around him meant anything, he knew that there was little hope for the girl he was going to prepare for it.

He was close.

There was only one more obstacle before he reached his destination, a retractable bridge that had to be activated near the door to her cell.  He stood at the edge of the chasm, the bottom of which was being filled with molten steel, and motioned to the guard on the other side.

The creature looked very much like the koopas who marched on two legs, only this one’s shell was covered with thick spikes.  In the right light, he thought, it could easily pass for true leader of this army, King Bowser.  It bore a strong resemblance the cruel tyrant, or at least to its descriptions, such as the purpose for which it was created.

It was the guardian of the depths, the keeper of the key, and the last test any intruder would have to pass to gain access to the door it was protecting.  Unlike any other creature, these were created using the blood of the King himself.  The intention had been to protect his bloodline, but the outcome had not been as planned.

These creatures may bear the resemblance of Bowser, but they were nothing like the evil king.  Most lacked the intelligence to speak and acted solely on instinct, attacking any and all creatures they deemed inferior.  While some could only muster enough of their wits to jump on their enemies, others had just enough sense to attack with weapons, or with their legendary fire breath.

Once it had locked into place, Toad slowly crossed the bridge with his eyes pointed to his feet.  To look up was to provoke the guardian, and no magic would protect him from the wrath that would incur.

“Please let me pass, please let me pass,” he chanted with each carefully placed step.  Even though he wore a magic pendant around his neck which allowed him just that, his nerves wouldn’t allow him to pass quietly.

The Bowserling leaned down as he approached, sniffling deeply of his scent and drooling with anticipation.  One misstep and he would be lunch.

 

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part II)

Appearances can be very deceiving to the unsuspecting.  To mistake what looks like a harmless creature can have deadly consequences.  Such is fate for one small family of Mushroom people.  The Goombas marched upon their house, silently closing in from every direction as they ate their evening dinner.

Like most of the denizens in the Mushroom Kingdom, they lived in an oversized fungus for which their country was named.  The interior had been carefully carved out to accommodate their needs, and the walls had been coated with a special salve that helped keep them alive, as well as to prevent them from filling in the wounds.

Rooms were only carved per their need, usually starting with a general living area, and one bedroom.  Because they were an industrious people, not much time was spent inside, with the exceptions of eating and sleeping.  As their needs grew, so too, did the number of rooms.  Because their homes continued to live and grow around them, there was never any worry for lack of space.  Of course, this led to some very interesting natural architecture, for no two homes ever looked the same.

For centuries untold, the Mushroom folk had lived in harmony with their surroundings, integrating with, and showing the greatest respect for, the bounties of their land.  As reward for their due diligence, however intentional or unintentional that it was, their land had given their homes natural camouflage to protect them from their enemies.

Unfortunately, until this day, they had always been able to distinguish the nature of their enemy.  They were hunted as food by the carnivores, until they had learned to hide themselves.  Their homes were eaten by the herbivores, until they learned to coat them with a mixture of mud and dung.  This not only helped their homes to grow and remain healthy, but the smell repelled the creatures that would dine upon them.

Never had they known a species that attacked without provocation.  They had never faced the kind of monster that would kill creatures they deemed to be inferior. And so it was that the first casualties fell in the small community soon to be formally known as Shrooshen, which was home to forty-seven of the Mushroom people.

First came the Goombas, marching mindlessly through the underbrush.  The first fell beneath three of the bug-eyed fungi, to be simultaneously trampled beneath their feet and melted beneath a spray of thick, mucus-like acid.  The latter erupted from thin mouths which opened as they trod over the hapless creature beneath them.  Steam rose into the air from the wounds, and its dying screams soon gurgled as its lungs filled with blood.

Neighbors popped outside to find the source of distress, only to become one themselves when hammers were launched from the shadows around them.  Some hit their mark true, catching the creatures in the torso and face, caving in the point of impact.  An unfortunate young Mushroom curiously peered through a window in time to catch a hammer in the mouth, completely destroying her lower jaw and killing her instantaneously.

Two separate families sprinted through their doors with the hope of escaping into the untamed forest.  Each group drew slowly closer together, each aiming for a large opening in the trees where there appeared to be no sign of their strange attackers.  They only noticed the soft buzzing above them when it was too late.

Three airborne Lakitu swooped in from above, launching crimson orbs into the center of the group.  The first spike covered projectile caught the mother of the first family in the face, to the horror of her children, and she fell to the ground, dead.  Her oldest son, who had recently been awarded for ‘Fastest Runner’, didn’t move fast enough and caught one of the orbs in the chest.  The living weapon thrashed, clawed, and bit its way into the center of the once agile mushroom, who fell near his mother’s body and died choking on his own blood.  His eyes continued to stare into the sky long after the deaths of those around him, unbelieving and forever unknowing of the fate that had befallen him.

None survived the first attack of Bowser’s army.  No hands had been lifted in defense of their homes, or of their lives, and in less than an hour’s time, the Goombas had erased them from existence.