Disclaimer: I don't own anything Mario related, Nintendo does, but I do own this story.

Author's Note: In order to get rid of the discrepancies concerning Bowser's Castle I've just assumed he has a couple separate dwellings. This fic takes place in the one seen in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Super Mario Bros. 3 (in the heart of Dark Land), as opposed to his flying fortress from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Paper Mario, or his Keep on Vista Hill in Super Mario RPG.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my first Mario fic! So please R&R!


Morton Loses His Voice


After countless early afternoon kidnappings, Bowser decided to shake things up a bit and try an early morning abduction of Princess Peach. He left before dawn and Kammy was supposed to wait for his return in the entrance hall as usual, but she fell asleep in the throne. She was having a great dream in which she was surrounded by handsome young Magikoopa suitors, when Bowser stormed into the room, Peachless, smashing the doors into the walls with a 'bang!' and thereby abruptly waking his dosing advisor.

"Back so soon, Your Noisyness?" asked Kammy, scrambling off the throne before Bowser threw her off. "Where's Peach?"

"She's got some weird flu," said Bowser, stomping across the room. "She can't seem to speak and although the lack of screaming was a nice change, I decided against bringing her here in case I got sick too and had to stop ordering you lazy lackeys around."

"Good call, Your Bossiness," said Kammy watching as her king made his way to the stairwell entrance. "It sounds like Fuzzy Flu, but it's already contagious days before any symptoms arise."

"Whatever, I'm going back to bed," said Bowser, ascending the stairs.

"For once a good idea, your Sleepiness," muttered Kammy before once again curling up in the throne.

-xxxxx-

Morton woke with a huge yawn a couple of hours later. He looked out the window but the sky was still dark, the sunlight being blocked out by the volcanic clouds of Dark Land. Morton knew for a fact Wendy preferred Bowser's Keep atop Vista Hill to his main castle, since it was right on the mountain range's southern border it actually got sunlight. Morton, on the other hand, liked this castle more: it was bigger than the Keep, so there were more guards to talk to – who needed sunlight?

And not only were there more guards, Bowser usually brought Peach to this castle when he kidnapped her. And last time, he had let Morton talk to her, although Morton had a feeling that was because his father wanted a break from his 'mind-numbing chatter' (in Bowser's words). Come to think of it, thought Morton, Peach didn't seem to enjoy my company either

Morton put those thoughts out of his mind and left his room, starting towards the stairs leading to the main hall where breakfast was being served. That's when Roy jumped him by surprise.

"Hah!" exclaimed Roy, putting his brother in a headlock. "I warned ya not ta tell Lemmy I was da one who took his ball, but you didn't listen and now yer toast!"

Morton struggled and tried to shout, but to his shock, nothing but a weak, raspy sound escaped his lips. He sucked in a huge lung full of air and tried again, but once again, no words came forth – only the rasping, and then a coughing fit.

Fortunately for Morton, Roy noticed something was wrong and released his little brother. "You alright, Shorty-Morty?" he asked, perhaps a bit less concerned than he should have been.

Morton hated being called 'Shorty-Morty' even more than he hated being called 'Big Mouth' (at least the latter was accurate), and jumped around waving his fists in the air trying to tell Roy off, but, once again, he was unable to make one peep.

Roy watched Morton's antics for a little and a cruel grin spread across his face. "Ooooh," he said. "You can't speak!"

Morton stopped moving and shook his head frantically at Roy. He couldn't lose his ability to talk – it wasn't possible.

Roy just continued grinning and slowly nodded his head. "Oh nooo! Dere's no denyin' it! You've lost yer voice!"

Morton sunk to the floor and curled up in a ball. No it's not true, it's just a dream, just a dream, thought Morton. He tried to say it aloud too, but to no avail.

Roy took no notice of his little brother's distress and chuckled mercilessly. "Wait 'till the oddas hear about dis!"

That got Morton's attention. The others couldn't know about it – that would be so humiliating. And they didn't need to know: this muteness would pass – he would be speaking again in no time. He stood up and put his arms out in front of him, shaking his head and mouthing 'no' at Roy, who frowned and raised an eyebrow. "Ya don't want me to tell 'em? Dat's stupid."

Morton shook his head, fell to his knees and made begging motions with his hands, trying with all his might to say 'please', but once again failing. Roy smiled down at his sibling and patted him on his three-haired head. "Alright Morty, if ya don't want me ta tell dan I guess I'll… have ta tell dem anyway!" With that, the pink-headed Koopaling vaulted over his brother and started running down the stairs calling "Morton lost his voice!" at the top of his lungs.

Morton tried to shout 'no!' and ran off in pursuit of his brother, although he knew the chase would be a futile as his attempts to speak.

-xxxxx-

Meanwhile, down in the main hall, the other six Koopalings were already assembled. Bowser was happily bragging to Junior about how he had flamed Kammy when he found her asleep on the throne a second time (after he caught a few extra hours of z's himself), and didn't leave so much as a scorch-mark on his golden chair. Kammy, who was further down the table was darkly muttering to herself, her clothes still blackened by the king's firebreath.

Just then Roy burst through the doorway. "Morton lost his voice!" he shouted joyfully as his now-mute brother ran into the room behind him panting from the long run down.

"What?" exclaimed all the other Koopalings and Bowser.

"Oh, he must have caught the Fuzzy Flu from Peach," deduced Kammy.

"Fuzzy Flu?" chuckled Wendy.

"Yes, Fuzzy Flu," said Iggy. "A highly contagious viral infection of the vocal chords causing muteness for up to two weeks."

"But why's it called Fuzzy Flu?"

"Because, like those afflicted with the disease, Fuzzies don't speak."

"That's a stupid reason," said Wendy, smirking at Iggy.

"Don't look at me, I didn't name it."

"But Fuzzies aren't mute," interjected Larry. "They say 'MEEEORK!', and lots of them speak English."

"Ooooh! Than it's an even stupider reason!" said Wendy before leering at Iggy. "But why did you think they were silent anyway, genius?"

"Enough!" shouted Bowser, ending his progenies' quarrel. He got up from the table and walked over to Morton who, upon learning that he may not be able to speak for more than a week had gone quite pale. "Don't worry, Morton," he said, kneeling down beside his third youngest child. "You heard Iggy, it won't last."

"Yeah," said Ludwig from the table. "Before you know it, you vill be talking about everyone and everyzing again. In fact, I suffered szrough a very similar predicament before you vere born. Have you heard the story about my brief deafness?"

Strangely enough, Morton hadn't. He shook his head.

"Vell, you vill now," smiled the Germanic-accented Koopaling. Bowser got up and led Morton over to the table, signaling for a guard to move a chair over beside Ludwig for him.

Once Morton was seated Ludwig began. "Vonce ven I vas only a couple years old, I got an ear infection from swimming in zee moat." Morton wondered why Ludwig had been in the moat – usually the eldest Koopaling was smarter than that, but when he tried to ask, no sound came out.

Ludwig noticed. "You can save your qvestions until after breakfast. I sink I have somezing zat can help you vit your communication problem, but until zen, you vill just have to listen to my story."

Morton nodded and Ludwig continued. "As I vas saying, zee ear infection caused a temporary deafness. It vas scary and difficult at first, but zen our parents gave me a book about my namesake, Ludvig van Beethoven, zee famous human composer. Zey taught me zat he had been deaf for much of his life, but vas still able to write beautiful music. I vas inspired, and alzough I vasn't as good as he vas at writing symphonies vizzout zee aid of my ears, vonce I got over zee illness, I started composing in earnest – and started speaking like him too, but zat's anozzer story entirely. Anyway, if I hadn't gone deaf for zose couple weeks, I may never have discovered my love for creating music. And so, you should regard zis as an opportunity to try somezing new asvell!"

Ludwig smiled at Morton and he couldn't help but smile back, but he was still worried: he had no clue what new hobby he could start up. But that didn't matter now – he was starving, and since he couldn't really ask for anything to be passed down to him, he could just reach over the table and take whatever he wanted, manners-free.

-xxxxx-

After lunch, Ludwig brought Morton up to his room where, after some rummaging around, the older Koopaling produced a large piece of white plastic, a couple of markers and an old cloth.

"Zis is called a viteboard," said Ludwig, handing the invention over to Morton. "You write vatever you vant on it vit zee markers and zen erase it vit zee closz."

Morton scribbled down something and held the whiteboard up to Ludwig sniggering. On it was written 'poo-bum'.

"I hope zat is not referring to me," said Ludwig, reading the board.

Morton grinned and shook his head before wiping off the board and writing 'thanks' on it.

"You're velcome. But I vould like it back vonse you can speak again, okay?" added Ludwig, Morton nodded and rushed out of the room. "Vait!" called Ludwig after his retreating brother. "King Dad vants you to vear a mask so you don't get zee rest of us sick too!"

-xxxxx-

Eventually Ludwig caught Morton and forced him to wear a mask. Junior may like wearing them, but Morton sure didn't and had proceeded to run around the castle with a slew of bad words printed on his whiteboard. He only stopped once Bowser threatened to take the piece of plastic away.

Once the novelty of writing the words instead of saying them wore off, Morton found himself immensely bored. Ludwig had suggested reading in the library and that had been quite fun as Morton loved filling his head with trivialities, but eventually he grew tired of that too.

Ludwig advised Morton to try and not think about possible distractions and just walk around the castle, or do some other mindless activity. Morton had suggested eating but Bowser was less than pleased to find two of his sons lying semiconscious on the floor of the kitchen next to the remains of a wedding cake Bowser had had baked for Peach as an incentive for her to marry him.

Morton wasn't too happy about having to go a week without dessert, but he had found it very interesting to learn just how desperate his father was to marry Peach. Interesting enough to warrant further investigation. So Morton spent the rest of the week following Bowser around.

He soon realized that he would never have been able to pull it off had he been able to talk, because whenever the learned anything new, he would exclaim it aloud and start rambling on. But without his voice, he didn't make a peep despite the fact that his lips were moving a mile a minute.

Morton's big break came when he decided to spy on Bowser while he was sleeping: it turned out that the King of Koopas was a real chatterbox at night. He mostly dreamt of fighting the Mario Bros. Half the time he won and went on to dream about global domination and marrying Peach (which sorta creeped Morton out). The rest of the time, he would lose and wake up with a jolt. It always took him a moment to realize it was just a dream.

After fleshing out his father's obsessions with the princess and the plumber, Morton decided to move on to his siblings. He learned that Lemmy was secretly teaching himself to walk without his ball – without much success.

Wendy, Ludwig and Iggy were all fairly the same in secret as they were in public. So was Larry, although his top-secret schemes provided very interesting reading for Morton, not that he actually managed to snatch very many blueprints from his brother's closet – guarded as it was by a pair of Larry's hand-reared Koopa-eating Piranha Plants.

Bowser Junior, being very young, also had a minimum of secrets, although he would spend hours at a time combing the castle looking for something. He never found it but Morton had a pretty good guess as to what it was: his mother, whether in a picture, diary entry, history book or mortuary. He wanted to help, but Bowser had forbidden the older Koopalings from saying (or writing) anything to Junior about her. He didn't know why, but he wondered if it had something to do with his father's current crush on Princess Peach.

Then there was Roy. Like Bowser, Roy talked in his sleep, and also like his father, Roy's dreams were plagued by fighting, but although Mario was sometimes his nemesis, there were many other combatants as well. But what surprised Morton was that, more often than not, Roy would lose, and instead of waking up he would writhe around calling out for his siblings. Morton thought he was calling for help at first, but he soon realized that in Roy's dreams, the other Koopalings were in more trouble than him. Roy would plead to whatever captor held his siblings to release them, and to not harm them. Unfortunately, by the sounds of it, a lot of the time, Roy's wishes weren't granted.

Morton was touched. He had always known that when push came to shove, Roy would always help him and the other Koopalings out of any scrape, against any foe. But he never knew their safety, happiness and wellbeing meant so much to his gruff and grumpy brother. Morton wished he could tell him what he knew, but, love him or not, Roy would tear Morton apart if he found out his little brother had been spying on him. Come to think of it, any and all of the Koopalings would rip Morton limb from limb if they discovered the truth; Bowser too.

So when Morton eventually got his voice back he exercised great self-control in what discoveries he told his brothers and sister, mainly limiting it to the stuff he had read in the library. After all, the breeding biology section alone of the Encyclopedia Koopa had provided Morton with months' worth of information to share with his wide-eyed and open-eared siblings.

The End