Chapter 5: The Eye of the Storm

I listened to all that my father said, made a pause to let it sink in and finally asked. "What did I do down there? I know I lost control, but I don't know what I did. Toadsworth woke up and started calling me, that's all I remember, and it's not clear. I need to know what's happening to me."

"From what I heard from Toadsworth you were crying and screaming panicked, then you fainted. But Toadsworth was unconscious for a while before that, and when he finally woke up and started trying to bring you back to your senses, the room was already partially destroyed by a purple acid substance."

My heart aches listening to my father's explanation. "It was me wasn't it?" I don't really expect a reply. There is so much that needs to be done. "I'm calling Daisy," first, I'll think of the safety of Sarasaland.

My father knows I will not settle for simply resting, so he hands me the phone so that I at least will stay in bed. I push the speed dial button and wait for Daisy to pick up. "Hello..." the voice is not her usual cheery self.

"Daisy? What's wrong?"

"Peach is that you? Everything is blurry I couldn't read the caller ID."

While Daisy speaks I hear someone in the background saying, "Princess, please go back to bed."

"Alright, alright, ow..." There is a pause then Daisy continued, "I have this killer stomachache, it was worse a few minutes ago but it's still pretty bad and it's making me light headed. What were you saying?"

It could be a mere coincidence that Daisy is sick, but the way things are going I won't disregard anything as a coincidence. "Is there an epidemic going on?"

"How did you know? Is it happening there too? A lot of people here are having stomach aches and they're saying it's the peaches. But the peaches we import from the Mushroom Kingdom are always great so I won't believe it." Daisy's speech is slower than usual and the cheerful spark is lost to a pained voice.

"Go to a doctor right away, it might be a virus, and just in case throw away the rest of the peaches." With so many dark secrets being discovered, I can't trust any product from the Mushroom Kingdom to be untainted right now.

"I don't think it's that bad."

"It is, I don't know exactly what's going on, but it's serious. Everyone who is having the same symptoms should go to a doctor right away." Daisy hates going to the doctor and only does so when she's feeling completely miserable. She's also stubborn about taking medications.

"Virus?" It all must sound too sudden for Daisy.

"Trust me, please go," I insist.

"Alright, if you say so, but you owe me a banana split for this." It feels like it's been years since the last time I smiled, and for a small moment I do. Daisy may be in pain, but she still keeps some of her cheerful humor hidden away somewhere.

"I promise I'll get you that banana split." My smile doesn't last as the harsh images return to my mind, Gabriella and Violet are dead. "I have some things to do, call me if anything unusual happens." I don't have time for a long explanation, and furthermore I lack the explanation itself.

"Alright, we'll talk later." Normally Daisy would ask for more details, and she would also bring up other topics. She would ask me what I've been doing, if I've been taken away by Bowser lately, if I've gone on any dates with Mario, if I've baked any cakes. She would even ask me about what I watched on TV. But I guess she's just too sick to be her talkative self, and it pains me.

"Goodbye," as I utter the words, I fear that they might come true, that this will be my final goodbye to Daisy, but I push such dark and depressing thoughts away then address my father. "Dr. Hecc T. mentioned an epidemic, a virus, and there has been an epidemic of stomachaches in Sarasaland. Somehow it doesn't feel like it fits, but it could be the start of a virus. What if he was talking about his plans as if they already happened?"

"Dr. Hecc T. has always had an ego, he was a genius but his ego was problematic from what I've heard from his co-workers. You mentioned peaches?"

"Yes, in Sarasaland they suspect the peaches imported from here are the cause of the stomachaches."

"Then we'll look into that as well."

"And I will go," I get out of bed and head for the door. The unpleasant scent of underground room was sticking to me still and my dress is torn and dirty, but I don't care.

"Peach you need to rest! You're pale and sickly; if anything you'll scare everyone!"

I sigh, feeling helpless, "I know the investigation can process without me, I know... But I should at least bathe and change."

"Yes of course, but after you're done go back to bed. I'll call a maid to change the sheets." My father looks apologetic as he leave, "I need to go tend to..."

He doesn't need to finish, I understand and nod, and when he closes the door after leaving, I feel an overwhelming sadness crash into me. I cry, abundant tears cascading down my face, but I do not scream or even speak, I only cry in silence, until I can finally pull myself together, get cleaned up and change.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Toadsworth..." The whisper that escapes me is full of pity and regret. I was not prepared to see this, to see Toadsworth in such a fragile state, with so many machines hooked into him, keeping him alive.

"Is that you, Peach? Good to see you back on your feet, good to see you..." Toadsworth's eyes are half open, as if it strains him to do just that. His voice is full of effort, and the sound is barely audible.

"Toadsworth, I'm sorry, I'll get to the bottom of this, I promise, I'll make it better!" Another promise I don't know if I can keep.

"I'm glad you're safe." I don't think Toadsworth fully understand what I'm saying. The medications must have gone to his head.

I nod and try to stop myself from crying. "Rest, go to sleep."

Toadsworth forced a smile and closed his eyes, his breaths becoming calmer as he drifts off to sleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

The police officers were surprised to see me march into the peach farm, but if there are this many officers around, some of them forensic investigators, then something must have been found. "Your report, please."

"Princess?" The head officer looks at me as if I spoke in an alien language.

"How is the investigation going?" I rephrase.

"Well..." I nod to encourage him to go on, while he shifts uncomfortably, "Toadallius, member of the royal council, has been found dead in a wooden peach crate that was nailed shut."

I gasp, is there no end to the murder?

"Traces of an unknown poison were found on the ground next to the peach trees and were suspected to be absorbed by the trees' roots. The farmers stated that normally the fruits wouldn't be affected to the point of causing serious damage when ingested. The tree should filter out the poison and in the worse case scenario wither. If the peaches were contaminated it should be easy to see. The peaches from the last shipment looked healthy and-"

"Recall them."

"Excuse me?"

"I want every peach from that last shipment disposed of."

"I ah..." the officer looked around, searching for someone. "Farmuri!" He signaled for another Toad to come over.

"Oh, the Princess is here!" The farmer Toad, Farmuri momentarily hid his distressed eyes behind an obligatory surprised smile.

"The peaches from the last shipment, can they be recalled?" I was quick to steer the conversation into topic.

"I'm afraid not, they must have already hit the Sarasaland market. People probably have already starting buying them. I've heard peaches are especially refreshing in such hot weather. But if this is about the poison near the trees then don't worry, the tree filtered it, the peaches were healthy."

Before Farmuri could continue, I interrupted. "I spoke to Princess Daisy of Sarasaland not too long ago. There's an epidemic of stomachaches going around and the peaches are suspected to be the cause. I want those peaches out of the market and disposed of, except for the samples that will be kept for a medical investigation."

Farmurai and the police have become busier, making calls and trying to fulfill my request. It shouldn't take too long for my father to find out I snuck out of the castle, but I needed to be here, I won't sit by and watch things fall apart while doing nothing to stop it.

After the officer finishes his calls, I ask "what is the full report about Toadallius?" Even if it's not connected with the current case, Toadallius is, was, a member of the royal council and I need to know the truth behind his tragic death.

"We don't have any clues yet, there are no reasons why anyone would hold a grudge against him, he's not linked to any past records, nothing. We'll have to wait for the report after the body is examined." The officer has gotten over his shock of hearing me ask about such things and handles the difficult subjects more fluently now.

"I understand... Please keep me informed, I need to tend to a few things in the castle now." The word stress doesn't even begin to cover this; I don't know how I have managed to stay sane this far.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Peach!" My father runs to me as soon as I cross the door.

"I know, I shouldn't have left without saying anything and I'm sorry to worry you, but trust me, I don't need to stay in bed. I was at the main peach farm and I have bad news," as I speak, I'm not even aware of the tears rolling down my cheeks. "Traces of poison were found around the peach trees. Everything points to the suspicions being true, the peaches were the cause of the stomachache epidemic of Sarasaland, and Toadallius," my voice crackles out of existence, and I sob before I can breathe and speak again, "is dead."

"Dead?" My father is shocked, and has all the right to be.

"He was found in a peach box, I didn't see the body, the officer gave me the report, no connections found, no grudge, don't know, information, must find." My speech becomes cut and barely coherent.

Father stands there open mouthed. "The answer must be with the witness... Peach you're going to run off and it's evident I can't stop you, so I'll take you with me. I was called with a report of a testimony which will soon be taken from guard who confessed to have aided Dr. Hecc T. He claimed to have received a bribe from Toadallius..." Too much, too fast...

xoxox xox xoxox

My father and I are behind a large glass window, it's a one way window so we can see what goes on in the dimly lit room, but the one being interrogated cannot see us. My mind goes in and out of focus as the interrogation progresses.

"Nash T., former castle guard," the interrogator was dressed in a police uniform with a multitude of badges and recognitions on his shirt, it looked heavy. I imagine he must replace his shirt often due to the fabric tearing from the weight of the shiny metal that emphasized his position and status. He's trying to look intimidating, similar to the investigators in the movies, but it's hard for me to see him as intimidating when he's less than half my size. Then I remember the fact that Hecc T. managed to be quite intimidating even if he too smaller than me.

Nash visibly cringed at the word 'former', but if he had to be detained to be questioned, no longer being trusted as a castle guard should come as no surprise. The plain lightbulb that hung overhead dimly illuminated his mushroom head. His spots were a worn out yellow to contrast with the deep wine colored sports on the mushroom of his interrogator. But what caught my attention was how yellowed Nash's mushroom was, where must would be white, it was hard to distinguish the spots.

"Your previous testimony was unclear; you will repeat your testimony in whole and answer any questions that I ask truthfully. I don't need to remind you that you took an oath a few minutes ago," the interrogator tried to look menacing, but I don't think the fear reflected in Nash's eyes was directed at him.

"Yes," Nash swallowed hard. "A few months ago-"

"How many?" The officer smashed his open palm on the table, making Nash jump in surprise.

"Um... Ah..." Nash paused trying to come up with an exact number. "Three," he finally said, "no, almost three, two months and about three weeks and some days... It was on his birthday, on the king's birthday, when everyone was distracted by the celebration and the guards concentrated at the party hall."

Realizing he had forgotten to turn the recorder on, the officer pressed a button on the only item atop the plain metal table, "start over."

"Yes..." Nash took a deep breath and began his confession. "It started on the birthday of the king. Most of the guards were concentrated in the party hall and they must have not expected anyone to be patrolling the south side of the castle. That's when I-"

"Who are they?" This time the officer didn't hit the table as he interrupted and commanded Nash to "be specific."

"Toadallius and Dr. Hecc T. I didn't hear their entire conversation but they were talking about holding the Mushroom Kingdom hostage and claiming the throne. From what I could hear, Toadallius had been disposing of Hecc T.'s illegal experiments by dumping them in the old Kero Swears that was supposed to be sealed off."

"Toadallius," my father whispers. "He proposed the project and chouse the crew..." I believe that what my father means is that he suspects that Toadallius might have had something to do with the fact that the old structure of Kero Swears was not filled in all that time ago. It was more than just the construction company saving money and accepting a payment for a job they didn't do.

That lightbulb is too bright... Then I should stop staring at it... Closing my eyes feels good...

"Then you confess to have let Dr. Hecc T. out of jail?" The officer's question makes me snap out of my thoughts and back into attention. How much did I miss? This scares me; it was as if I couldn't think at all for a second there.

"Yes," Nash stares at the polished surface of the table for a few solemn seconds before looking up intently. "He promised me the cure. I listened to them by accident and they gave me this curse that kills me a little everyday. I was just trying to survive! That's why I listened to Hecc T. and killed Toadallius when he was no longer needed as an inside connection. I was trying to live!"

My heart skips a beat and rage burns inside me, but I push the feelings away to avoid losing my sanity again as the officer yells, "that's no excuse!"

I don't even know who I am angry at. Hecc T., I certainly am angry at him but also Toadallius and even Nash, yet he was under a death threat. My eyes swell with tears, and they softly and silently roll down my cheeks. My father looks at me with concern and I can only shake my head, silently communicating my choice to stay and witness this. Witness... Nash turned out to be more than just a witness.

"I wasn't going to end up like her... Violet," my eyes go wide in realization as I remember who Nash is. Before this day I couldn't have linked the calm and cheerful young man to this sort of situation. He likes Violet and she liked him back but was too shy to let him know. We talked about it and I encouraged her to at least drop a subtle hint that his feelings were returned.

Then I was swept away by Bowser and when I came back, Violet was gone. I thought she quit but she died and Nash must have seen her in her last days while he was being used by Hecc T.

"He's not going to cure me and I know it now, just like he didn't cure her. That's why I confessed, because I don't want to see the Mushroom Kingdom thrown in a war against Sarasaland, and I don't want the throne of both kingdoms to end up belonging to Hecc T." Nash's mention of Sarasaland worries me deeply and I get up.

"I'm going to call Daisy," my father nods at my words, unable to say anything after listening to Nash's story. I already told the officers to take care of the peach situation, but I need to speak to Daisy myself.

xoxox xox xoxox

I make my way back to my room, angry at myself for leaving my cellphone behind at a time when constant communication is needed. I gasp in surprise as I find a bouquet of violets left on my bed, wrapped in soft white paper with a single red rose hidden among a dozen violets. An envelope is next to it and while I reach for my cellphone and press the speed dial with one hand, I open the ivory colored envelope with the other.

I hear the sound that indicated the call connected and began to make Daisy's cellphone play that cheerful yet silly melody she had me sing to identify my calls. I can imagine my own voice singing "I'm so peachy-keen, feeling totally peachy-keen today. No kidnaps, or koopas gonna get in my way, because I'm so peachy-keen today!" But no one picks up and I become impatient.

My eyes scan the plain white card inside the envelope, with a picture of a withered violet on the cover. My pink cell phone slides out of my hand, landing safely on the soft mattress of my bed as I gasp in horror. The inside of the white card is stained in red, and it looks suspiciously similar to blood. Even the red ink of the message looks like blood. "Roses are red, violets are blue, Violet is dead and soon will be you. When the old man napped and insanity trapped, you were given time, hurry up and adapt."

My heart is racing, is this from Hecc T.? No, there's no way he could have snuck into the palace. There must be someone else that works for him, or someone who is being manipulated or threatened to work for him.

"Hello? Hello?" I pick up the cell phone and stare at it blankly as if I've forgotten what it's for. My mind is going too many places too fast and I can feel the stress within me ready to blow, but it doesn't.

"Hello?" My voice is trembling.

"Peach? What happened? Are you okay? You sound scared." Daisy's gentle voice is filled with concern but also with pain. I can tell her condition has somewhat improved since I last spoke to her, but she's still in pain.

I wish Daisy was here, I wish Mario was here, I even wish Bowser was here. I want to be able to stand on my own two feet, but most of all right now I want to be comforted. "Something bad is happening. Someone is trying to kill me and he's hurting my people."

"Peach, what is this about?" As Daisy asks this, I can hear voices in the background trying to tell her of the state of emergency that Sarasaland is in, something about an epidemic, poison from the Mushroom Kingdom, a trap and something called 'Theal'.

Then another voice comes into the conversation. I do not know how or why this is happening, but I can hear Hecc T. talking and I think Daisy must be able to hear him too. "Roses are red, secrets are kept, tearing the message to shreds. Violets are blue, this is the truth, the world starts anew."

"Peach, what was that?" Daisy sounds confused and alarmed, as I am, but I can't say anything, I'm too shocked. These are riddles, clues, but I don't know what they mean. "Peach!"

"I don't know... I don't know what to do anymore." Maybe I'm not strong enough. Maybe all I can really do is bake cakes, then smile and wave to the crowds. A new world? Is that what Hecc T. wants? A new world by destroying the one we have?

"Whatever is going on we'll... What? No absolutely not!" Daisy is arguing with someone else, I can hear several voices complaining and even blaming her. "I'll go over there and clear this up. Stop it, I'm going and that's final!" What is this about? "Peach are you there? I'm going to the Mushroom Kingdom; you're not going to believe how crazy things got around here. I'll explain when I get there."

The line goes dead. I wasn't able to tell Daisy not to come, that it isn't safe. I try to call her again but it doesn't work. Whoever hacked into out communication must have cut it off. I feel so lost, so trapped, at feel that I'm at breaking point but somehow, those insane urges have ceased...

'Roses are red, violets are blue, Violet is dead and soon will be you. When the old man napped and insanity trapped, you were given time, hurry up and adapt.'

That riddle resurfaces in my mind, as if my subconscious is calling out to me. Violet is dead, I know what that means. When the old map napped and insanity trapped, could that part be referring to when Toadsworth was unconscious and I lost my mind after finding Violet? I was given time? Did Hecc T. do something to me while I was out of control? Why would he give me time and what does adapting mean?

'Roses are red, secrets are kept, tearing the message to shreds. Violets are blue, this is the truth, the world starts anew.'

The world starting anew could be Hecc T.'s intentions of taking over the Mushroom Kingdom and Sarasaland. Then what does the part about the message mean? My head hurts, but I refuse to turn insane and violent again. Bits and peaces of memories are resurfacing and while I need to know the truth it's painful to remember this. It feels as if I was watching my body move on its own, unable to control it. Then everything goes blank.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Princess Peach! Princess Peach!" I don't know for how long I've been standing with my eyes closed, but Toad's voice wakes me up.

I felt as if I was fainting, but I never actually fell. Apparently I just stood here with my eyes closed. I glance at my bed but there are no signs of the violets and rose there or even the card. "Toad, the flowers," as I turn to face him, I spot a dozen violets in a large base near the window. There is a single rose in a small base in a corner of the my desk, sitting next to an open ninja comic I don't remember when I had to interrupt and never got the chance to continue reading. I didn't like how it was going anyway; too many important characters were dying in the latest chapters.

"Flowers?" Toad gives me a puzzled look. He glances around the room, following my gaze. "Oh those flowers, they're pretty." He doesn't know they're from Hecc T. and I can't find the card.

Someone came in here and arranged the flowers while I just stood there. How many people are there working for Hecc T. in this castle? But I don't want to worry Toad. Besides, throwing out wild stories like this, even if it is true, might make people worry about my fragile sanity. "Never mind, what were you saying just now?"

"The king, your father, wishes to see you. He said it was urgent," Toad makes an uneasy pause. "Princess, why was it so dark in this room?"

It is now that I notice that the light illuminating my room is artificial. I stood here unmoving for so long that the day gave way to night. At least I hope all I did was stand here, Toad doesn't sound too alarmed, just worried, so I can only assume standing here is all I did. "I was resting," it's odd to rest without sitting or laying down, but Toad doesn't question my explanation any further.

Instead Toad nods with concern, speaks words I somehow miss and excuses himself. I should go see my father. Daisy must be arriving soon if she left right away, Nash's interrogation must be long over, the peach recall must have taken effect, the tests on the peach samples must have started and Toadallius' autopsy...

xoxox xox xoxox

My life is turning into a collection of clips and missing memories. I don't know when Daisy arrived or if I spoke to her during whatever portion of time she has spent here so far. However, even if my most recent memories are missing, many of my memories from when I was at Bowser's Castle and about what happened after I found Violet are starting to resurface. It's all very confusing.

I suspect that I might be hiding something from myself, as crazy as it sounds. Why are there still blanks in my newly discovered memories while the pieces I do have continue becoming clearer? I think I did something bad... I don't know, I can't focus, I can't think. My head hurts but it's different from before, at least it's I'm not becoming violent. My heartbeats increase but my eyes don't feel irritated, my stomach turns and I feel sick... and full, too full. When did I eat? What did I eat? I don't remember.

It doesn't matter; I have more important things to worry about. Daisy is here, I don't remember receiving her but she is here. I don't see Mario or Luigi anywhere, but my mind doesn't have any more room to wander since the sight before me is so shocking. This endless whiteness that surrounds me is characteristic of most hospitals.

I don't know how I made it from the castle to the hospital, and I can't precise which hospital it is, but I can guess it must be close by. Keres is on the bed wrapped in bandages like a mummy, his shell is elsewhere, I don't know where. People are talking, but I can't move or say anything. I can hardly understand them.

Keres is trying to communicate something but he can't speak. He motions for something to write on, but his hands are bandaged. He insists against the doctor's recommendations and writes with heavy difficulty, intense pain and a barely readable print.

'Roses are red, secrets are kept, tearing the message to shreds. Violets are blue, this is the truth, the world starts anew.'

The message and the messenger... Not only the message was destroyed but the messenger was injured. The words "'Secret', 'Peach', 'Bowser' and 'Dr. Kooheal' are spelled out with difficulty in Keres' paper.

"Dr. Kooheal, judging by the name I would say a koopa doctor. There is a secret about our princess?" One of the mushroom doctors tending to Keres speaks, and Keres can only nod. What happened to his voice?

This means that Dr. Kooheal did find something about my condition that was hidden from me. He must have told Bowser and Bowser was concerned about my health so he sent Keres to secretly deliver the message to the Mushroom Kingdom without telling me anything that would make me worry. But someone, most likely sent by Dr. Hecc T., intercepted the message and injured Keres.

Yoshi is here, but as poor as the perception of my surroundings is right now, I just noticed his precense. Was Yoshi coming to visit and found Keres? Wait, why am I so certain about this theory? Did someone tell me this before?

The room feels like it's spinning, with all other colors fading into an endless whiteness. I hear people calling my name, Daisy and my father are calling me. I hear Yoshi's voice as well, the doctor, and someone else, but not Keres. Keres doesn't say anything, he doesn't speak at all, not the smallest sound comes from him, but I know he's awake; he's looking in my direction.

This time, when I faint I fall, and someone catches me. But I don't think it was Mario. Where is Mario? Where is Luigi? Why are they not here? What happened to them? It hurts, my entire body hurts. I'm cold and scared. Somebody please save me...

Chapter 6: Spiral

"Where am I?" The ceiling is gray; this is not my home in the Mushroom Kingdom. Then I realize that my voice was only barely above a whisper and as my sense of hearing returns, I noticed that it wasn't enough to wake the snoring koopa who is sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Most of his body is on the floor with his arms wrapped together, and one of them still covered in bandages, to form a support for his head which rests at the edge of the bed.

I allow myself to fall back into the bed. This isn't my usual room in any of Bowser's castles. The room is quite plain with little furniture, everything is gray and the bed is relatively small in comparison to my usual oversized bed. I don't know in which castle I am, or how I got here. Then my disorientation fades just enough for me to remember Keres. "Keres!"

Bowser wakes up suddenly. "What? Who? Where?"

"Where's Keres? He was injured!" Bowser looked at me in confusion for a moment. He looks stressed, worried and tired. "Yellow shell," I specify.

"Oh, that guy!" Bowser recalls who I mean and nods, "yeah, he's fine, recovering in a hospital somewhere."

"What about Daisy, Skyi, Mario and Luigi?" Daisy was likely to be safe, I certainly hope so. Skyri had disappeared from what I could tell, and the Mario brothers gave no sign of precense since that time I invited them over for cake. Normally Mario and Luigi would know about the complicated situation by now and be on the scene, but I have no idea what has happened to them and it worries me.

"Those annoying plumbers were sleeping! They slept through the entire thing!" Bowser huffed angrily, a little smoke escaping his mouth.

"Sleeping? What are you talking about?"

"From what I heard, some Toad with a black mushroom brought them some lasagna that put them to sleep for a long time. Too bad it wasn't poisoned." It sounds as if Bowser is actually angrier that it wasn't his plan, than disappointed about the lack of poison.

"A black mushroom with green spots?" That sounds disturbingly familiar. It could have been Hecc T., he went out in the open, and avoided being caught. Maybe he has more inside connections that we imagined.

"Yeah, something like that," it sounded like Bowser wasn't fully aware of the situation or was just too tired to continue explaining it. Though he was sleeping, it was obvious that nap wasn't restful.

"Where am I?"

"In a fortress," I waited for him to elaborate a little more. "Not really a castle, it's smaller and more military, but it's safe, just not as fancy."


"Because I brought you here," Bowser doesn't want to give me a direct answer; that much I can easily tell.

"Did I do something wrong?"

"Of course not!"

An uncomfortable silence falls upon us. Though perhaps nobody blames me, I know I did something wrong. "Why am I here?"

"To keep you safe..."

"From who? Hecc T.?"

"From everyone..."

Everyone... I had no idea what Bowser meant at that time, I didn't realize that many of my subjects blamed me for this disaster, and many more were forced to blame me out of fear of being hurt.

Daisy was safe, as I would later confirm, at least for the time being. She was busy trying to stop a war between Sarasaland and the Mushroom Kingdom. Toadsworth was so stressed his condition became critical and my father was feeling the effects of the extra stress as well, everyone was.

Hecc T. was planning to take over by creating fear with a seemingly incurable bio-engineered decease and a web of lies, misunderstandings and misplaced blame.

"I failed; everyone got hurt trying to protect me. I'm dangerous, that's why I'm here, isn't it?" My DNA is unstable, though my body should be used to the symptoms by now, there's no telling when I'll snap. I remember that scene from long ago, when I spent the night over at Bowser's castle before spending the day with Wendy the afterwards.

I was the one who hurt Skyri when she was trying to get me to calm down. She's alive somewhere, but one of her wings was injured so badly, I don't think she'll be able to fly again. A paratroopa who can't fly, to her that must have felt like losing the ability to walk would feel to most people and even if she can walk, that's so much less than what she had. I remember and it hurts.

"Everyone is always making sacrifices for my sake, always protecting me. I can't take it anymore..." I need to find a cure for everyone, myself included. I need to stop Hecc T., stop a war, stop innocent lives from being lost. I need for all of it to stop...

xoxox xox xoxox

Surprisingly, things have calmed down lately. The talks of war have ended, and the kingdoms are at peace. It was none other than Kamek who developed a miracle cure for me after studying ancient scriptures for weeks. However, I'm not entire healed, I could still lose my mind and turn violent if I don't control my emotions, but that's only at this point; I'll heal completely little by little.

What still hurts is the fate of the people who were involved with Hecc T., many of them were injured or even killed. Keres still haven't recovered his voice, nor has Skyri regenerated her wing, but at least they're together again and Kamek and Kammy have assured me they will continue researching healing methods.

"I thought I was a burden to Keres, that's why I left..." Skyri had once revealed when I asked her about it, though I felt I had no right to ask, she held nothing against me. It's odd how sometimes people can perceive other's thoughts and emotions as being more negative than they are.

I know Keres loves Skyri and a few acid burn scars and a missing wing won't change that, yet it makes me feel guilty that I caused it. It's ironic, I thought about how Skyri should have listened to Keres when he said he still cared and here I am unable to forgive myself even if Skyri blames no one but Hecc T.

In the end Daisy took charge and surprised us all. Now I'm heading back to the Mushroom Kingdom but I feel uneasy. I sense a certain sadness in Bowser that's about more than just returning me home. Maybe he's sad because of my pain, or maybe it's deeper, I don't know, and he won't tell me anything except, "I miss seeing you smile for real," because my smiles lately have been forced or only half there.

As I return home everything looks normal, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to smile again. Hecc T. hasn't been brought to justice yet, but his plan failed, he was too overconfident. Heal T. was charged with hiding his brother, and many others were found to be a part of their group, but I requested that they were not judged too harshly; after all, they didn't want to be traitors, they were only afraid.

Are things going to flow how they always have? Everything feels like a dream as I greet Daisy, Mario and Luigi, with the plumbers giving the Koopa King some disapproving looks that make it clear they want him to leave.

Everything blurs, one hour into the next, not because my memory is failing again, but because it's all in a routine. It's as if the catastrophe never happened, save for the reminders of its after effects. But the epidemic is still there... the mushroom people are drying up, suffering from an unnatural dehydration that no amount of water will cure, and ironically it was found that it came from the water supply. It's slow but it's happening, and we need to find a cure, fast.

xoxox xox xoxox

Just like old times, after I return from a long trip, or kidnapping, Daisy and I sit in my room and talk about what happened. "Any interesting stories?"

I can think of quite a few stories of my time with the Koopa family when they were trying to make me relax and get my mind off things. "You know I always have a new story. Bowser and the koopalings make it so I'm never bored."


Disclaimer, I don't own the Nintendo characters.