A new koopa takes over Bowser's Castle and the Mushroom Kingdom. Locked in a dungeon, Peach waits for Mario to save her, but is even still alive?

Don't Lose Hope

The princess of the Mushroom Kingdom sat in her throne with a worried look on her face. She was clearly holding back tears as she waited for the inevitable. "Princess," Toad, the only other in the throne room besides the princess spoke. "We should get you to a safe place."

The princess shook her head. "No, it's useless to run. If I try to run he will hurt my people. Besides, I'm sure I can negotiate something, anything."

It had finally happened. The King of Koopas had declared a war on the Mushroom Kingdom. The Mario brothers, the kingdom's heroes had been captured, by Bowser, the princess assumed. Little did she know that she was wrong.

The Mushroom Kingdom had always pursued peace and its army was far from being the strongest, while the Koopa army very was quite strong. The last of her kingdom's defensive forces had fallen. Most of her people were dead or captured, it was over.

The doors to the throne room were pushed opened. It looked as if the one who pushed them expected them to be locked and wanted to break them down. But why lock up? Why delay the inevitable? The princess had hope of coming to terms with Bowser when he made his way to her castle, something that she knew he would do. She hoped to save those who survived and maybe the Mario brothers if they where still alive.

The koopa soldiers quickly surrounded Toad and princess Peach Toadstool. She did not look away from the floor until she heard footsteps unlike those of the soldiers heading towards her. Those footsteps could only belong to the Koopa King.

Peach looked up, trying not to show the fear in her eyes, but soon her false courage turned to shock. This was not Bowser she was looking at. It was another koopa, much like Bowser, but his hair was black instead of red, his shell was also black instead of green and his eyes were yellow.

"You lost, princess," the new koopa looked at her cruelly. "Just another kingdom to conquer, this was easy."

xoxox xox xoxox

The princess and Toad were taken by the guards, back to the Koopa Castle where they where locked in the dungeon. She thought she saw sadness in the koopa guards' eyes as they threw them in their cell.

"Princess, who was that?" Toad was just as confused as Peach.

"I don't know," Peach heard a noise behind her. The cell was large and there was no telling who or what was in that dark corner. "Who's there?"

Nothing but noises came as an answer. Someone was there, someone was hurt and in pain. She walked into the dark corner of the cell. She had to get very close to see in this darkness. There was only one torch and it was too high up on the opposite wall to reach.

Peach gasped when she realized where the complaints where coming from. "Who did this?"

Toad sensed the fear that took over the princess and ran to her, thinking that maybe she had seen the dying Mario brothers. As soon as he got close enough to see who it was, he ran to the opposite corner of the cell. "Princess, get away from him!"

"It's okay, Toad, he's badly injured, he can't hurt us. It appears we have a common enemy. That other koopa took over your castle and kingdom didn't he, Bowser?" Peach didn't need an answer. "Can you speak? Who is he? Where are the Mario brothers, he has them doesn't he? They are alive, right? They are in this dungeon, or another dungeon, or maybe they escaped? Are they okay? Answer me!"

Peach started crying, if Bowser was in that state, she didn't want to think about what this evil koopa had done to the Mario brothers. Bowser's shell was broken and there was blood everywhere. Peach had seen bombs fall on him and not even that could do such damage. "Talk to me!" Peach received no answer, Bowser just closed his eyes and stayed still.

"We'll be alright princess, the Mario brothers will save us." Toad tried to give Peach hope, yet not even he believed his own words.

xoxox xox xoxox

Time passed by. How long has it been? Peach did not know. The last thing she remembered was hugging Toad and watching him cry to sleep in her arms. He was so young and he had gone through so many things in his life. He was an orphan, always being picked on. He had nothing when he was younger, until the princess brought him to work at the castle. He did simple things like be the messenger boy and remind her of her royal appointments. Then Bowser kidnapped her for the first time and Toad tried to help to be captured too, but they were all rescues by the Mario brothers.

Peach did not sleep, move or speak until the next day came and the guards arrived. They took Toad away; he was to be a slave like the people of the Mushroom Kingdom that survived. As for the princess, she was visited by the new koopa king a few hours later. He didn't say much and she didn't care to listen. From what she understood, it was her fate to die slowly in this dungeon along with the former King of Koopas. How long has it been since that happened?

Peach had received no news from the Mario brothers. "Dead they must be dead." She felt such pain, such disappointment when she let go of the last of her hope. With hope gone and her denial broken, the notion of time returned to her, it had been five days since the day when they took Toad away. She had nothing to eat or drink during all this time and when Bowser didn't wake up by the third day, she assumed he was dead.

The princess sat in the dark corner next to the body of Bowser. Her pink dress was stained by the blood on the floor but she didn't care. It was over, there was nothing left to do now; she could only await her death.

"Peach..." Peach looked at Bowser. Did he speak or was she losing her mind?

"Bowser?" Peach called out uncertain.

"Peach," he spoke again.

"I'm here," Peach tried to stand up, but she was too weak from not having anything to eat.


"I'm here..."

She heard him call her a few more times before his voice became an echo and everything was covered in darkness.

"Princess! Princess!" She heard a different voice this time. Was her mind playing tricks on her? "Princess, please wake up, I brought you food and water."

Peach crawled across the cell; at the other side of the bars was Toad. He didn't look good. He looked like he had been hit too many times and fed to little.


"I brought some food," Toad handed her a paper bag. "It's the only thing they have here, I'm sorry I couldn't find anything better."

"Thank you," Peach took the bag and grabbed the first thing she felt inside. It was meat, bloody raw meat, the only thing the new king ate. She didn't care, even something as gross as that was delicious right now.

"I have to go or they will suspect something," Toad gave her a bottle of water, he didn't wait for an answer and left.

Peach wanted to ask Toad what happened, but she couldn't speak further even if he stayed. The only thing she could do was fight for survival by giving her body something to digest; at least she hoped she could digest it.

She crawled back into the dark corner. This dungeon was so lonely and empty with her as the only living being in it. This place was deep underground and the only guards were at the entrance to the stairs that led here. She wondered how Toad got passed them.

Peach felt a little bit of her energy coming back to her along with a bad stomachache. She drank some water from the bottle but didn't drink it all. She didn't know when she would get food and water again.

"Peach," she heard Bowser again, was it real? Was it her mind playing tricks on her? Was it even real the first time?

Peach thought maybe she should leave the dark corner. Maybe she should sit below the torch at the opposite side of the cell. Yet she couldn't move, she didn't want to, she didn't want to be completely alone. She needed some company even if it was that of a dead koopa. She thought she heard him whisper her name one more time before falling asleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

Peach slowly opened her eyes only because she could no longer keep them closed. She wanted this to be nothing but a terrible nightmare that she could forget when she woke up. Sadly, it was true.

Was it day or night? She didn't know; it was impossible to tell the difference underground. Peach had slept for longer than she thought, she didn't know, but it was now the morning of the seventh day. One week as a slave for Toad, one week as a prisoner for Peach, another week of agonizing for Bowser, a week without a sign of the Mario brothers.

"Peach," Bowser's voice was heard.

"Stop talking to me, you're dead, they're all dead!" Peach took a closer look just to make sure. Bowser didn't move, he didn't breathe, or did he? She placed her hand in his forehead. Warm, her hand felt warm. He can't have a fever if he's dead. Was she crazy, or was he alive? "Bowser?" She hoped and wished he was alive. He was her enemy before, but now he was her only ally besides Toad.

"Hmm," he opened his eyes slowly.

Tears ran down her face, she never thought seeing Bowser would make her happy. "You're alive! I tried to talk to you before, why didn't you answer me?" Peach had spent her endless hours there talking to Bowser, she couldn't do anything else. She thought he was dead, but she pretended he wasn't. She imagined that he was someone else, someone she had just met. It was the only way to keep her mind busy, by narrating her life; it was her way of staying sane.

There was no answer from him. Just silence as Bowser closed his eyes again. Peach understood now, he was alive but only partially conscious. He went into a coma and woke up, then went into a coma again. Maybe some food would help, she saved some of the food and water Toad brought. "Bowser? Bowser, please wake up and eat something!" There was no answer.

Peach waited impatiently for the next time Bowser woke up. By the next day he gave no signs of waking up any time soon and she became more worried. Maybe there was nothing to do. Maybe he was going to die without a solution. The ninth day came just as the eight and ended in the same way.

It was the tenth day when Bowser woke up again and ate what was left of the food. At first he refused with a disgusted look on his face, but Peach practically threw it in his mouth and made him swallow. "I know it's gross, but eat it, don't die."

"I will die..."

"No, no, no! You won't die! Mario... Mario will come!" Mario will come was her all time excuse to say that things will be okay. Deep down, Peach believed the Mario brothers were dead, but she also thought Bowser was dead and he was alive. Maybe she was wrong about the Mario brothers also.

Bowser didn't say anything; he just gave her a strange look. She realized that wasn't the best thing to say. "We have a common enemy, we're allies now."

"Koopas that are injured, no matter how badly, will always die slowly," Bowser tried to get up and the wound on his back where his shell was broken started bleeding again.

"Don't move!" Peach kept insisting but he ignored her and managed to sit with his back to the corner of the wall. He pushed his shell against the corner to close the two pieces. Peach rested her back on the wall and closed her eyes. What was she to do next? Just keep on waiting?

The rest of the day passed without event. The eleventh day came and with it came Toad with more food in the same conditions as last time, but at least it was something. However, this time he couldn't find any water. The water supplies were heavily guarded because the new king had been informed that slaves were stealing it. After Toad left, Peach and Bowser ate.

Peach got up and walked around the cell. Everything was taking a toll on her sanity, she couldn't take it, she just walked and walked, ignoring Bowser who kept telling her to save her energy. Of course he couldn't do anything, his best chance of survival was to keep his shell closed against the wall or he would start bleeding again.

Peach heard an echo, her hearing wasn't the best in her current condition, but she knew she heard something. The echo of a continuous sound was the only thing on Peach's mind. She searched for it in the darkness, the light from the only torch turning dim. Her senses brought her to the corner furthest away from where Bowser was. Before the torch's fire disappeared, she found the source of the noises. Water was coming from the wall. Drops of water escaped through the stones that formed the walls.

Peach felt around for the bottle and found it. She made her way back to where she heard the drops of water and placed the bottle on the floor. She didn't know if the water was falling inside it so she covered the bottle with her hand and when she felt the water, that's where she left the bottle. She made a mental note to be careful when she went to get the bottle, so that she wouldn't accidentally knock it down and spill the precious liquid. She didn't know in what condition the water was, but it didn't matter, it was better to drink water from the walls of a dungeon than to die of thirst.

Another day passed. The twelfth was it? Peach lost count. Toad came once more, this time several times during the day. For a change, now he brought fruits. "The koopas don't like their new king; some of them managed to get this food and told me to bring it to you."

"Thank you Toad, do you have news of the Mario bothers?" Peach had to ask. Toad fell silent and simply shook his head. "Maybe the koopas will get rid of this terrible creature that took over; then we'll save the people of the Mushroom Kingdom and rebuild."

After Toad left, Peach and Bowser ate and sat quietly waiting. Waiting was all they could do, but did they wait to live or to die? No one knew.

xoxox xox xoxox

Elsewhere, Mario opened his eyes slowly and found himself in a strange place. It was a small room with stone walls like a tunnel and it was very hot. He quickly sat up and looked around; his brother was also just waking up. "Luigi?"

"Mario! We're alive?" Luigi was unsure if it was a dream or realty.

"You're awake! I'm Jagger we found you unconscious among the dead bodies from the battle and brought you here, we are a small group that is against the new king." A koopa troopa with a green shell handed the brothers a bottle of water which they shared.

Mario took a moment to let everything sink in. "So this isn't Bowser's doing?"

"No, another koopa came and challenged Bowser; he won so it is the law that he should become king. He was the one who ordered the attack on the Mushroom Kingdom and almost killed the young ones, but the queen saved them at the cost of her own life." Jagger was angry and frustrated.

"The queen? The young ones?" Luigi asked confused.

"Yes," Jagger pointed to the corner of the room. There was an old magikoopa there, his wand was glowing red.

"I have to keep the room warm for them," the magikoopa explained, "I'm Kamek, I've been working at the Koopa Castle since Bowser was born. I never thought it would end this way."

Mario walked to the corner of the room, followed by Luigi. Jagger lifted the blanket and they saw seven eggs.

"Koopa eggs?" Mario concluded, Jagger and Kamek nodded.

"They are the children of our king and queen, our true king and queen," Kamek voiced.

xoxox xox xoxox

As more days passed, the dungeon began to be filled with mushroom people and koopas. Bowser stayed in the dark corner refusing to talk to anyone. Peach often talked to the people in the other cells. She recognized some of her subjects by their voice; it was too dark in the dungeon to see now that the torches had burned out. The new prisoners brought new information from the outside world and it was all bad.

King Wartu was very cruel and didn't think twice before throwing random people into the many pools of lava in the Koopa Castle. Now he had decided that his 'slaves' as he did not refer to them as subjects, would stay in the dungeons until they were needed for work. This and the other dungeons of the Koopa Kingdom were now full. Toad was placed in the same cell as Peach and Bowser, along with a few other mushroom people and koopas. There was hardly enough space for everyone, but Wartu didn't care.

xoxox xox xoxox

The fifteenth day came and the situation was getting worse. During the eighteenth day, Peach's and everyone's hopes were renewed when some said to have heard the Mario brothers were alive and had joined a resistance group that planned to free both kingdoms, but soon bad news came again.

The Mario brothers had made the grave mistake to rush in worried for the princess' safety and not being able to bear looking at innocent people being treated in such cruel ways. This had made them end up in the torture chambers from which they had not escaped. Nothing was heard about them since then.

Now during the twentieth day, Peach was able to move around her cell for the first time in the last few days. This was a bad sign. When Wartu decided to keep everyone in cells and there wasn't enough space, she spent most of her time pressed against the bars of the cell or squished between Toad and Bowser, now it was clear now that many were leaving and not coming back. The rumors were that some were killed and others were sent to train. Wartu only kept the strongest troops alive, so he could move on to conquer the next kingdom he found.

Peach sometimes thought that maybe some of the other kingdoms would help them, that they would join forces to fight this evil king, but no help came, apparently they were all too afraid. Then there was the rumor that Wartu had a dragon to whom he fed people who he thought were not needed. Peach didn't want to believe those things, she didn't want to lose hope, but slowly she was losing it, she was letting go.

xoxox xox xoxox

On day twenty-one, Toad was taken out of the cell to work around the castle. Even if he hated it, he tried to do his best keeping the place spotless and organized, since his survival depended on it. Along with Toad, many others were taken away. Now it was just Peach and Bowser left in the dungeon again. The former rulers of the Koopa Kingdom and the Mushroom Kingdom always stayed there like trophies that Wartu kept.

Peach let her tears flow freely. She didn't have Toad to keep a strong face for, she felt like she should watch over him like a sister, but she knew that she couldn't protect him, or anyone else. She couldn't even save herself. "Why is it like this? Why can't it just end?" She felt deep despair. Everything was pushing Peach close to insanity, so close that sometimes she wanted to give in, maybe then, if she didn't think, she wouldn't feel and she wouldn't suffer.

"Weren't you the one speaking about how we should keep our hopes up, saying that the Mario brothers would escape the torture chamber and free us all?" Bowser reminded. "They're probably dead..."

"No!" Peach dried her tears, forcing herself to stop crying. "It's hard, it hurts, but things will improve and if we don't live, we won't see it get better. We will defeat this evil king and bring peace to both the Mushroom and Koopa kingdoms. The Mario brothers are alive and they will help us!" Peach didn't know if she was angry at Bowser for what he said or at herself for almost giving in and losing hope forever.

"They're dead, you need to accept it, they're gone and soon your little friend Toad will be too, less of them are coming back. They are either traitors who joined Wartu's army or dead."

Peach slapped Bowser and pushed him against the dungeon wall. She didn't know how she was able to do that, if fueled by stubborn hopes or anger. He felt her breathing close to his face and could almost see her glare. "You will not speak of death anymore. We must all help each other and give each other hope, do not be pessimistic. You will not speak this way of Mario, Luigi, Toad or anyone else, they are alive and they will stay alive." Peach let Bowser go and sat down again.

"Ignorant princess, do you not understand? He fought me and I lost, I let my kingdom down. He was going to kill them, all of them, she tried to save them but then he killed her, he killed her before my eyes and I was too weak to save her." Bowser stopped, he was no longer in denial, but even so he had said too much, he could almost feel Peach's curious stare mixed with guild.

"I'm sorry; I shouldn't think that I'm the only one who lost people I care about." Peach decided that for now she would not speak of the subject any more. The dungeon fell silent again.

xoxox xox xoxox

Several hours passed and no one returned. Peach feared the worse, but she forced herself not to think about it. She made her way to the corner where the water bottle was kept, drinking only a little in case the others returned after working hard without rest, food or water. Sighing quietly she tried to force herself to be patient and keep the hopes she spoke of to her people when they were here.

The sound of the dungeon's door being opened was heard and a guard carrying a torch came to the dungeon. She didn't see anyone else. It was just that one guard, no sign of Toad or anyone. "You're still alive, aren't you little princess?" The guard brought the light closer to the cell. "Don't look at me like that, I bring you good news, you get to leave this place soon, maybe not alive but at least you get to leave," he grinned evilly. "What about my dear ex-king? Is he still alive as well? Sorry Bowser, but you don't get to come along; the invite was just for the lady. Enjoy your last night alive princess and just in case you've lost track of time, sunset was just a few minutes ago, too bad you've been here so long you probably don't even remember what the sun looks like," the guard left.

Peach wanted to scream out in anger, but she decided not to dignify the traitor by speaking to him. She felt tears coming back when the meaning his words sunk in, but she held them back. Even if she had been sentenced to death, she wouldn't give up, she would find a way to stay alive.

Peach would die the next day. She wondered how the Mario brothers were and if they had escaped yet. Her time was over. She shook her head, trying to keep the idea of her life ending away from her mind. She would probably be fed to the dragon or worse. She continued to hold back her tears. She wouldn't cry now. Not in what could be her last few hours there. She didn't get any sleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Princess, are you awake?" A koopa guard asked as he held a torch close to the cell, trying to find the princess in the darkness. It was still completely dark other than that light; they haven't bothered to give them any means of light after the cell torches burned out.

"You think she died in there? Or maybe she was so scared about today she committed suicide," the mushroom guard accompanying the other sounded shockingly cruel.

Peach got up from her corner glaring angrily. "I am most certainly alive and that's not going to change any time soon." So she would be escorted by a koopa and a mushroom. She didn't think people from her kingdom would give in and betray her, but she was determined to hide her hurt. "Two of you just for me? Can't fight a little girl on your own?" Politeness was something she was taught since she was a little girl, but right now appeared to be the perfect time to forget it.

"Why you," the koopa lifted his claw, reaching into the cell at her face about to slash her, yet Peach didn't move. Her glare was defiant and angry.

"Don't do it," the mushroom warned. "Wartu would notice the scar is recent and we would both be in trouble. He said to bring her as she is."

"Fine," the koopa handed the mushroom the torch. "I'll enjoy watching her die without mercy." As he stepped closer to drag her out, Peach stepped back and in one last desperate attempt, she picked up the bottle she had been keeping the water in and broke it over his head. The koopa had not expected an attack; he screamed a curse as he stumbled backwards.

"Still have energy to fight back little princess?" The mushroom mocked.

"Stupid piece of trash!" The koopa cursed angrily, removing the peaces of the broken bottle, still feeling disoriented and dizzy from the blow.

"Shut up traitor!" Bowser picked up the koopa by the throat, breaking his neck and letting his lifeless body fall. The quick movement's opened the wound on his back from his broken shell. Such a serious wound would be nearly impossible to cure due to the damage the shell took.

"I don't care what Wartu says, you're dieing if you come anywhere near me," the mushroom guard saw how easily Bowser had broken the other's neck and didn't want to suffer the same fate. He drew his sword but Peach kicked him and managed to snatch the touch away when his attention was on Bowser.

Bowser was able to avoid the sword and Peach threw the torch at the guard without even thinking about what she was doing. The mushroom caught on fire screaming in pain and dropping his sword in the process. He ran out of the cell rolling around in a corner where there was a small puddle of water. He was alive but severely burned. The mushroom breathed heavily as the last flames were put out and he no longer had enough air in his lungs to scream.

"Peach, take the sword," Bowser tried to ignore the sharp pain on his back.

Peach picked up the sword, "got it!" It was heavy; she had to almost drag it along as her sudden burst of energy appeared to be wearing out. It was clear that they wouldn't make it out alive if they continued waiting in the dungeon and this was their opportunity to escape, it could be their only chance.

Strangely, they were able to make their way out of the dungeon without meting any guards and were now in the castle area. The castle had been remodeled and the walls were covered in jewels, possibly stolen from previously conquered kingdoms. Peach gasped as she walked by a large mirror and saw her reflection. The girl in the mirror did not look familiar at all.

That girl's hair was longer, broken, uneven and dull. She was extremely thin and pale, with scratches and dirt all over. Her eyes reflected pain and suffering. Her dress was torn, stained and filthy. She turned away, not wanting to look at herself in the mirror, yet at the same time she didn't care. She had suffered too much of a loss to care about her appearance now.

Peach looked back to make sure Bowser was still following her. It was the first time since she was brought there that she saw him in full light. He had definitely suffered the effects of being left in the dungeon for so long also. The trail of blood behind him worried her. He stood there for a moment, wondering why she stopped. The castle appeared to be empty, but they shouldn't stand around. Letting the sword rest against a wall Peach walked around Bowser and gasped when she saw the deep wound on his broken shell.

"Let's keep moving," Bowser continued walking as fast as he could move in his condition, leaving a path of blood.

Peach followed, picking up the sword on the way. Where was everyone? They continued moving around the castle, it didn't look like the Koopa Castle they knew. "Which way to the torture chambers?" Peach wanted to find the Mario brothers and free them.

"There were none, he must have built them, I don't know where in the castle, but we need to get out of here." Bowser looked towards the princess but she wasn't walking with him. "Peach?" She had turned another way, heading down a long corridor. "Peach!"

"I'm not leaving without the Mario brothers! You should go before everyone returns from wherever they are." Peach rushed away, without waiting for a reply.

xoxox xox xoxox

Peach was completely lost. She was just randomly running down corridors as fast as she could. Where did that evil king put the torture chamber? "Mario!" Peach was convinced the castle was unguarded. "Luigi!" She yelled as hard as she could, even if her throat hurt, everything hurt. "Mario! Luigi! Toad!" Peach made her way up some stairs, arriving at what appeared to be a throne room with several horrendous torture devices scattered around the room.

"Luigi," Mario moved a little inside the uncomfortable box he and his brother were thrown into after being tortured. They both hardly fit in there. They had many cuts and wounds and could hardly move from the pain, but they were alive.

"What is it?" It was good to hear his brother's voice; at least that assured Luigi that Mario was still alive.

"I heard her," Mario's voice was quiet and the tone uneven. That sour liquid they were forced to drink still burned their throats. "It's Peach, I heard her."

"No, you didn't." Mario had been claiming to hear Peach's voice calling out to him, but Luigi didn't hear anything so he assumed it was a hallucination.

"Mario! Luigi!" Peach's echoed, followed by the sounds of things being thrown over. There were many boxes in the throne room there and she had already found a few lifeless bodies in them.

"Mario, I heard her too!" Insane or not, Luigi had to admit it. He wasn't sure if his imagination finally got the best of him, or if Peach could actually be out there. They over heard Wartu talk about the entire kingdom going to the arena to witness the princess' death. Where the Mushroom Castle once was, an arena was constructed. Many people who had been kept as servants were fed to a dragon there. Czar dragon, they called the large red creature.

"Peach!" Both the Mario brothers yelled as loud as their damaged throats. "In the box!"

The princess spun around, her attention directed at a box in the corner. There was a larger boulder on top of it, threatening to break the wood and crush its contents. She ran to it. "Mario, Luigi!" The box had a few small breathing holes, she saw them; she saw the Mario brothers. It was very dark, but she just knew she saw them. "Mario, Luigi, I'm here! I'll get you out" It was her turn to save them, but how in the world could she get that heavy boulder off the box without causing it to break and crush the Mario brothers?

"Peach," she turned toward the door way. Bowser had managed to get there. After being locked in a dungeon with her for so long, he couldn't leave her now. Their kingdoms had been enemies for a long time, but not anymore. Bowser stumbled forward, trying hard not to fall. He left a trail of blood flowing down his back from where his shell was broken.

Peach eyes widened when she saw the amount of blood he was losing. "Sit down, you can't move with your shell like that."

"Peach, who's there?" Mario asked.

"Bowser," Peach sounded worried, but her voice showed it wasn't because of his presence that she was worried. "Sit still maybe I can stop the bleeding somehow." She didn't have any bandages or anything that could possibly help, but at least if he didn't move less blood came from the wound.

"Nothing can cure this." This wasn't the Bowser that the Mario brothers knew. He sounded defeated, as if he had already lost all hope. His eyes focused on the box. His vision was blurry and he felt dizzy, but he knew the one who spoke from the box was Mario. "I'll get that boulder off." Bowser tried to push the boulder off the box but after all that happened, his injuries and the loss of blood, he wasn't as strong as he used to be. He pushed the boulder with all the strength he had left. The large boulder fell off the box as a corner of it cracked and something snapped. Bowser screamed in pain and fell on the floor, bleeding much more now.

Peach was worried his back injury was so serious he wouldn't be able to move. "Just give me a moment Mario and Luigi. I'll be with you in a minute." Peach refused to let go of the new hope she had received when she found the Mario brothers. The truth was if she had been alone in that dungeon, she would have probably given up, but Bowser was there. He was rather pessimistic, but he was there, he was alive and that gave her hope. She moved the two pieces of the shell open and saw what looked like a bone out of place in the middle of his back. She pushed it down back into place so his spine was once again in a straight line. The pain appeared to be a little bit less now.

"I'm alright," Bowser said forced himself to his feet and Peach pushed to the two pieces of his shell closed again as he stood.

"Just stay still now I'll get them out." Peach spotted a hammer up on a wall. She jumped and grabbed it. "Mario, Luigi, get away from this corner of the box," They took her warning and quickly moved. She looked inside the box by the breathing holes and saw they were out of the way. "Stay back," she started hitting the cracked corner of the box with the hammer.

In the past, people said Peach was a weak leader. They hoped she stayed the princess forever and never became a queen. But they knew someday she would, at least that was what was supposed to happen before this war. They hoped that she married a responsible, wise, brave man that would rule how she couldn't.

In the past she wished she hasn't overheard the council that day, but now she was glad she did. This was something she had to know, something she had to face. Her father was still alive at the time but her mother had died giving birth to her. When Peach first heard those comments from the council, her father defended her behind the closed doors to which she had curiously pressed her ear. He asked them to give her time to grow up. He said that she was too young to be judged.

After her father died, the chancellor helped Peach rule. The royal council insisted that she allowed the chancellor to help and advise her. The chancellor was a wise man. He was nice and polite to everyone and also defended Peach from the council. At first, she thought the council didn't want her to rule alone because she was a woman, but history showed that there had been queens who ruled the Mushroom kingdom alone for years before getting married. Then there were those who continued ruling for decades after becoming widows. They were respected and admired so why not her? What made her different from her female ancestors?

She would find out another day when once again she eavesdropped on the royal council's meeting room. Peach knew she shouldn't spy, but she had no choice since they didn't include her in the reunions. They said the chancellor would be her representative and even when he suggested that she joined them, they didn't listen.

There were women in the royal council and that day Peach would learn that she was excluded for another reason. They thought she was weak. They thought she was a ruler that if left alone in charge of the kingdom would bring it to disaster. They believed she needed to be stronger and braver like her ancestors. They asserted she was nothing like her mother or father and that hurt her deeply.

They spoke highly of the diseased king and queen. They believed both rulers were wise and brave, where the princess was a cry baby spoiled brat. The chancellor yelled, "silence" at that point. He wasn't going to let them insult the princess. That's when it hit her. Someone was always defending her. At the smallest problem she called for help. That is why she didn't earn their respect. She wasn't independent enough.

The kidnappings only made it worse. She was afraid of Bowser so she yelled and cried whenever she was kidnapped. She never once dared to direct as much as a glare at him. If only she stopped crying, gave him a firm glare and declared that her kingdom would never be his; then maybe she would have been respected.

All those emotions that were trapped inside for so long were released as she hit the corner of the box, smashing it to pieces. Peach gripped the hammer and looked at Mario and Luigi. They were worried. Even Bowser was worried and had come for her.

Peach placed the hammer on the floor at her feet and allowed the Mario brothers to hug her but they wouldn't need to protect her anymore. She was going to take back her kingdom. She was going to be the ruler she should have been from the beginning. She would be like her parents and ancestors. Everyone would know she wasn't that weak spoiled sheltered princess they thought she was. She had hope and she had the will never to let it die. After the hug was over she picked up the hammer and sword. "Mario, Luigi, you too Bowser, let's get out of here and take back both kingdoms!"

They had never seen her like this before. She was serious, she was determined, filled with unbreakable hope. "We're with you," they assured.

While trapped in the box after painful tortures that would leave many scars on the body and mind for years, the plumbers began to lose hope. But seeing Peach like this made them believe it was possible to win. She was different now, she wasn't going to be rescued this time, she was going to save her kingdom and they would help in any way they could.

Even if it broke her heart to see the Mario brothers in such a state, with scars and dry blood all over, pain reflected in their eyes, Peach wasn't going to let it affect her. She would continue having hope. She wasn't trapped in a dungeon anymore. Now she was free to fight for her kingdom. She didn't know where everyone went, but she had a bad feeling about it. They had to leave the castle quickly and join the defenses. They had to join together as many people as they could if they were going to defeat Wartu and the traitors.

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As Peach, Mario, Luigi and Bower headed out of the castle, they were ambushed by a group of guards. Affected by the witnessed deaths and received tortures, the Mario brothers stood frozen for a few seconds. "Mario, Luigi!" Peach's voice appeared to wake them. The four fought against the guards but reinforces were coming. They were out numbered ten to one. There was no way to win this battle, but they would find a way to win the war.

They were captured and taken away. They headed down some underground tunnels and approached a dim light at the end. They could hear the echo of many voices, screaming at the same time, making it impossible to understand their words. There was a loud earth shaking roar and the light at the end of the tunnel became brighter, as if a volcano had erupted. Once again the light became dim and the crowd outside was heard louder then before.

They approached the exit of the tunnel and were faced with a terrible danger. Their hope was shaken but not broken. They would face this together and against all odds they had to make it out of this. Yet Peach felt a strange pain in her heart, as if an inevitable tragedy would happen. Still, she remained strong. This was for her people, for her honor as the rightful ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and for everyone who opposed Wartu's evil rule.

They were in a stadium. It was filled with Wartu's troops new and old. Some of them were traitors to Bowser's kingdom and she was unpleasantly surprised to see mushroom people there as well. Peach should have known there would be a few to betray her kingdom, but there were far more than she imagined. In a way, she blamed herself for it. She thought that if she had been a better princess, then this wouldn't have happened.

They thought of her as a weak princess, not a figure to be respected like the royals that came before her, their loyalty wasn't the same as it was in the past. They protected her and thinking back she wondered if it was all done out of pity or in hopes that she would improve and become a real princess. Maybe that was why she was still a princess after her parent s deaths.

Peach Toadstool should have been a queen by now, but the royal council refused to touch the subject, telling her she shouldn't worry about it. Now she blamed herself because they lost hope and joined the enemy. But this was no time to cry over past mistakes. A portion of her kingdom still remained loyal to her and she was going to give them the peaceful life they deserved.

The ground was filled with dead bodies, mostly mushroom people and a few koopas, paratroopas, magikoopas and goombas, all with abundant burns and ripped apart. Peach searched for any means of escape, but the entrance was closed with strong metal bars and on the other side were the guards. The walls of the stadium were at least fifty feet tall then there was the first row of seats in the circle. Many more rows followed, higher each time. Those who were sitting in the very back, possibly only saw her as a little pink ant. There appeared to be a magical shield in front of the area where the spectators were.

Peach eyes widened when she saw him; Toad was there, on the ground, dead. He was gone, she wasn't able to protect him. "I'm sorry Toad." she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Don't cry, princess. Not now, not when he's watching. It won't end like this," Mario hugged her gently. She had lost a lot of weight and felt very fragile in his arms, but in truth she was stronger than she had ever been.

"It won't end for us at all, we will be victorious. Don't lose hope, not even now." Peach looked into his eyes, for once he was relying on her instead of the other way around, or maybe she was the one who gave him strength all along. He was there to save her and protect her when she needed him and she wasn't going to let him get hurt or give up when he needed her.

"Right, we'll get out of this like we always do. It might have taken a little while longer this time, but that only means victory is closer now." Mario had recovered the courage and determination that had been drained away in the past weeks.

Luigi looked at them; he had suddenly been filled with hope. "Yes, we can do this."

Bowser was glaring daggers at Wartu, he had been since he spotted him sitting on a throne as if this was his land. He would pay for this, even if he didn't live to see it, Wartu would pay.

Wartu was not amused by their reactions. He was planning to leave them there for a little while longer and maybe listen to them beg for mercy, but it was obvious they wouldn t. They were prepared to fight to the end, so perhaps it was time to bring forth their end. He spoke something to a koopa who was standing near by. The koopa then hurried away and disappeared into the crowd. A few minutes passed as the crowd awaited the start of the cruel show.

The walls of the north side of the stadium moved, opening another tunnel. A loud roar was heard coming from underground as the land beneath their feet began to shake. The creature that killed the others was coming for them. It was furious, a dragon covered in red scales came from the tunnel, roaring in anger and breathing fire. The quickly walls closed again as soon as the dragon was out.

"Behold, Czar the dragon!" Wartu spoke. "Even a creature like this one cannot oppose me and those who try, will become its meal!"

Czar appeared to be angrier at Wartu than at anyone else. He flew towards him but the magic shield threw him back. The dragon roared in anger and frustration, breathing fire at Wartu but it didn't go through the shield.

"Obey me dragon!" Wartu pointed a wand at the dragon. A dark beam came from it penetrating the shield without breaking it. Czar tried to avoid it but couldn't.

"Mario, that dragon doesn't want to hurt us. It's being controlled by Wartu, if only there was a way to break the spell." Peach observed.

"Impossible, I know what that wand is. It's a forbidden item of the magikoopas. He must have taken it from my castle where it was hidden. Its dark magic is invincible. It attacks the very soul, not just the mind and body," Bowser revealed.

"But the dragon wasn't in his control when he came out of the tunnel. That means Czar was able to break free," Peach reasoned.

"Dragons are strong creatures but even a dragon can't break free from the black magic right away. We ll be dead by the time that happens," Bowser replied.

The conversation had to end as Czar prepared for the attack. The dragon breathed fire faster each time and it was getting harder to dodge the flaming blasts. Princess, be careful!" Mario called.

Peach ignored the warning and picked up a broken spear. The dead paratroopa held on to it tightly. Even if his life was long gone his hand was still locked around it, but she managed to pull it off. "No Mario, we can't run forever."

"Princess, no!" Luigi yelled.

"You're insane if you think you can put a scratch on it," Bowser tried to stop her.

"Peach!" Mario pushed her out of the way of the fire, before she could throw the spear.

"Mario I was going to get out of the way," Peach assured. I m sorry to hurt this dragon, it s not his fault, but it s the only way. Czar picked up Mario nearly crushing him in his paw. Mario!

Luigi rushed in to help, but the dragon captured him in the same way. "At least he has his hands full. Let me borrow this for a moment," Bowser said took the spear and breathed fire into the end of it. He threw it at Czar while he was busy with Mario and Luigi. The spear hit its target but breathing fire was draining Bowser's energy even faster.

"Bowser you're hurt, don't do that again," Peach scolded.

"I told you I'm going to die anyway, so I might as well make the best of it while I'm still alive." Bowser ran for a head on attack, cutting the dragon with his claws and forcing him to let go of the Mario brothers to defend himself. Mario and Luigi fell temporarily knocked out. Czar picked up Bowser with both claws and ripped him apart as if he were nothing. They were losing this battle but they had to continue.

Suddenly Peach heard something and turned her attention to the tunnel blocked by metal bars where they entered the stadium. Mushroom people and koopas were there fighting against Wartu's army. "Mario, Luigi, Princess!" Jagger handed something to a goomba small enough to slip in between the bars. The goomba ran to Peach while Wartu yelled at the crowd to fight.

The item the goomba carried was a small chest. Czar angrily tried to fry them but Peach picked up the small Goomba and jumped out of the way. Mario and Luigi were knocked out on the groud left and right of Czar. "Take it Princess, you can use this. Kamek made it," the goomba urged.

Peach opened the chess and found a shining golden star inside. This wasn't an ordinary star, looked much more powerful then any of the stars she had seen Mario and Luigi use before. Peach took it in her hand just as Czar breathed fire down on her. She held the small goomba, protecting him from the fire as she was surrounded by a golden glow. She then pushed the goomba out of the way and faced the dragon.

Czar lost his patience and swallowed Peach whole but soon he started to disintegrate. With Czar being left in only bones the princess was free. I m sorry Czar, the effect of the star faded away and Peach saw that Mario and Luigi were awake. They had woken up just in time to see Czar disintegrate and Peach emerge from the dragon's skeleton.

Surprisingly the skeleton still moved, as if the dragon refused to die. Letting out a roar much louder than before, Czar flew, passing to the other side of the shield where Wartu still remained in his throne screaming orders. He desperately pointed the wand at the zombie dragon, but Czar bit it, crushing it to peaces and did the same to Wartu, painfully tearing him apart. Wartu had finally died.

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The next few hours were drowned in chaos and blood as Wartu's army, desperately tried to defeat the mushrooms and koopas who were defending their home. The rightful owners of the land were outnumbered but the war was finally won. In the middle of the destruction, after a deadly silence fell and all the enemies and traitors were dead, those who survived and wanted to start a new life of peace turned to Peach as their new leader.

Humans, mushrooms, koopas, magikoopas, paratroopas, goombas, they all followed Peach, admiring her as their queen. This time Peach would be ready to lead her new kingdom. The koopaling eggs eventually hatched and were adopted by Queen Peach and King Mario and a new kingdom was built to flourish in peace.


Disclaimer, I don't own Super Mario.

xoxox xox xoxox

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