Suddenly, a terrible cacophony erupted around them, echoing from the walls.

"What is it?" Timpani shrieked, covering her ears.

"That's an alarm!" shouted Goombario. "We've been breached! We're under attack!"

Blumiere whirled and suddenly his wand was in his hand, gleaming brightly. "Shadows!"

"How did they get here?" Timpani said, struggling to control her shaking voice. "How did they find us?"

"There's only one way they could have," Goombario said grimly. "Someone let them in!"

"One of them must have followed us through the breach!" groaned Blumiere.

Timpani's heart sank as she understood the implications of that. "It was us! We led them here!"

She only just had time to see the look of shock and betrayal on Goombario's face before the shadows attacked.

After that, she didn't have much time to think, only to move. One of them lunged for her right away, and she threw herself to the ground. It changed its leap into a flip and whirled like a dancer to come at her again. She sprinted away.

Everyone was flooding out of the tents, fighting back with anything and everything they had. As the Yoshi kids and their Cheep-Cheep nursemaid threw themselves at the one chasing her, Timpani scrambled up the flowstone and cowered behind the columns at its top.

She watched, terrified, as everyone fought on the ground. Blumiere was like a whirlwind, but the shadows refused to die, and they kept leaping up, snatching at his cloak with deadly accuracy, tugging him down and knocking him through the air.

He was fighting to protect her.

Suddenly, guilt and anger shot through her, both at once, and her fear was banished. She fairly flew down the slope and leaped at the nearest shadow, with only her hands to fight with. It turned its head and began to slink towards her, lightning quick. Her arms thrust out before her, and her fingers made contact with the figure.

Silver and indigo exploded outwards, and the shadow flew back twenty feet with a hissing shriek that could have shattered glass had there been any nearby.

Thoughts whirled through Lady Timpani's head, but the only conclusion she was able to come to was, it had been an awfully long time since she's used magic. Had it always been so sudden?

The shadows were forcing their way towards her through the others, shaking off blows like raindrops. "Come and get some!" she called, taunting them. "You want a taste of that?"

Clearly, they did. They streaked even faster towards her, impossibly perfect and ready to kill.

She fought them valiantly. As they ran at her, she focused her energy into an invisible shield. As each of them struck it, right in a row, they flew back as their friend had.

For about twenty minutes, with Blumiere's help, Timpani held her own against their attacks, but both of them were losing strength. The shadows forced them apart, backed each of them into a corner. Timpani lost sight of Blumiere.

Then, her energy failed just as one of them loomed over her.

It raised its claws. She looked at its chest, determined not to catch its eyes. If it transfixed her, everything was over, and she couldn't let that happen, not when she'd spent so little time with Blumiere, not after all she'd been through to get back to him.

She knew it was over anyways as she heard the swish of its talons. She steeled herself for the pain and waited for the darkness to claim her.

It never came. Her eyes widened in amazement as three glowing tears opened in the shadow's chest, white-hot and shedding sparks. It wailed like some sort of ghost and dissolved.

The shadows stood behind the figure there, forming a black backdrop, a counterpoint to her light. She was radiant, almost literally, with her pale face and her shining white-blonde hair. Starlight danced off the gleaming steel claws on her fingers and her pale, ice-blue eyes glowed. Beautiful, but terrible.

"I'm not sure how you got yourself into this sort of fix, Timpani," said the young woman cooly. "You'd better be more careful in the future. I'm not always going to be here to save your game."


"Nothing you need to worry about." She suddenly raised her claws and spun, slashing through the advancing shadows. "Don't even think about it, Starstealers!"

"Starstealers?" asked Timpani when he echo of their shrieks had died away and they shattered.

"Yes." The young woman folded her arms. "Well, Lady Timpani, Lord Blumiere. It looks as if you're both going to be recovering HP here for a while, but when you're back up to full life..." She lowered her voice. "There's a storage room for food, and in the back of it there's a small passage. Follow it."

Timpani nodded slowly. She blinked, and the young woman was gone, as if she's never existed.

"She was incredibly weird," Timpani said, shivering. "Do you have any idea what she was talking about?"

"No," said Blumiere softly, "but I'm sure we can find that passage."

"What if it's a trap?"

"We'll have to be careful. I'm not sure why she saved us, but one might think if she wanted us dead, it would have been easier to let the shadows—these Starstealers, she called them—kill us, oui?"

She nodded, but couldn't take her eyes off the place the woman had been standing.

"Besides," he went on, "I should imagine it would be as dangerous to ignore her as it would be to go. I know I shouldn't like to feel those claws!"