The past day had been action-packed for Mario, Luigi, and Daisy. It was intense; filled with battles to be fought and obstacles to be overcome. Everyone was tired, but they diligently continued traveling, as they knew that every encounter brought them one step closer to rescuing Princess Peach.

"There it is!" Mario exclaimed. "We are almost there!"

The three had reached the top of an enormous hill they had been climbing, and Bowser's castle was now in sight. Even though it was well into the middle of the night, Mario was more eager than ever to proceed, but the others weren't so sure. Daisy hesitantly smiled at Mario, but the smile faded as she gazed at the fortress in front of her. It was surrounded by bright, bubbling lava and the skies around it were dark and ominous. She was scared—incredibly so—but was careful not to show it. Daisy glanced at Luigi and saw a worried look on his face, which made her even more unsure about the situation.

"Come on, let's go!" Mario cried after a few moments, and had already begun running toward Bowser's castle.

Daisy and Luigi meekly smiled at each other, took hold of each others' hand, and followed Mario.

The path to the castle was dangerous, lined with much more powerful foes than the three had encountered earlier in their quest, but they fought every one of them, slowly getting closer and closer to Peach. Daisy and Luigi grew more frightened with every step, but Mario became increasingly hopeful. Before they knew it, the three of them had reached the enormous set of double doors set in the stone walls of Bowser's fortress.

"So this is it? We're here?" Daisy asked, surprised. "It just seems… too easy."

Mario frowned at her. "Of course we're here," he snapped. Everything she said made him angrier and more annoyed. However, his scowl soon faded. Mario reached to open the door but found that it would not budge. He paused for a moment, realizing that something was not right. He then told Daisy, "No. You're right."

Mario, Luigi, and Daisy slowly turned around, startled by what they saw. They'd been ambushed. Heavily armored koopa troopas surrounded them, determined not to let them enter the castle. The three immediately began a long and trying battle with them all. There was no time to be scared. They hopped on koopa after koopa, sending shells flying in every direction. The fight was tense and lasted a long time, but Mario, Daisy, and Luigi eventually managed to defeat them.

"That was awful," Daisy said, trying to catch her breath.

"Yes," Mario answered. "But Bowser must be coming soon."

"Oh my gosh!" Daisy interrupted, grabbing Luigi's arm. She was shocked to find a lengthy cut running up his forearm. "What happened to you?"

"I, well… I don't know," he answered, his eyes widening.

"It looks horrible! Are you all right?"

Luigi's injury was not severe. In fact, he hadn't even noticed it before now. Even though it was bleeding enough to stain the sleeve of his shirt, it wasn't really hurting him, However, Daisy's worrying and fussing made him feel as though he was hurt far worse than he actually was.

"I… I'm not sure," Luigi replied, meekly. "I don't think so. It hurts."

"Oh, you poor thing! You're really hurt!" Daisy declared, completely distraught. "Maybe we should go back. Mario, you can take care of Bowser by yourself, can't you?"

Mario was a bit angry at first, and felt as though they were deserting him. However, he soon realized that he was perfectly capable of defeating Bowser on his own—he'd done it countless times before. He knew that he could get to Peach even faster without them tagging along.

"Yes, of course I can do it," he answered.

"Okay," Daisy said. "Good luck."

Luigi and Daisy then began making their way back from where they had came, leaving Mario to rescue Princess Peach on his own.

---

"King Bowser! King Bowser! Wake up!" someone yelled, frantically pounding on the door of Bowser's bedroom.

It was a koopa troopa, the only one who had managed to escape the battle with Mario, Luigi, and Daisy. He's caused enough noise to wake up both Bowser and Peach.

"What is it?" Bowser growled sleepily. "What do you want?"

"There is someone here," the koopa answered nervously. "We have an intruder."

Bowser sprang out of bed and to his feet with a furious roar. He knew exactly who the koopa troopa was talking about, and Princess Peach did, too. She was certain that Mario had arrived at the castle to rescue her. She could feel it. A small smile appeared on her face, which Bowser spotted on his way out of his bedroom.

"Don't worry, Princess," he said, with a scowl. "Just stay here. You're not going anywhere."

---

News of Mario's arrival had quickly spread throughout the castle, and all of the commotion eventually awakened Bowser Jr. He walked through the hallways, unaware of exactly what has happening, but he knew that something wasn't right. As he continued, he caught sight of Bowser stomping through one of the corridors and ran over to him.

"Dad?" he asked. "What's going on?"

Bowser stopped walking, not expecting to see him son.

"What are you doing out of bed?" he said. He quickly realized, though, that it wasn't important. He had something much more serious to worry about, and didn't want to waste any time. "Never mind. Just go back to your room."

Bowser kept walking toward the castle's entrance and left his youngest child standing in the hallway. Junior knew that something was very wrong, and he was determined to find out what. He immediately ran back from where he had came, trying to decide where he could get a good view of what was about to occur.

Several concerned and frightened servants bustled around the castle, not exactly knowing what to do. It wasn't long before their clamor caused the seven older children to wake up. They had all emerged from their bedrooms just as Bowser Jr. scurried by them. The kids were all confused as to where he was going or why he was going there, but they all were curious and followed him. Junior finally reached the dining room and pulled the doors open. He rushed over to the other end of the room to look out of the enormous windows, from which he could see the castle's entrance. It was then that he spotted Mario in battle with his father. His jaw dropped. Not only was he worried, but also incredibly angry. He knew that Mario was there to take the princess away. The seven other children then filed into the dining room and also gazed out the window. Their hearts sank when they realized what was happening.

"No," Morton cried. "I don't want her to leave!"

"He always comes and ruins everything," Roy complained.

Larry stood on the tips of his toes, trying to look outside. Ludwig picked him up so that he could see. Larry frowned and Ludwig sighed.

"Well, it was nice having her here," Ludwig said. "I'm glad we got to meet her."

"She's not gone yet," Wendy said, hopefully. "Maybe Daddy will win."

"Yeah!" Lemmy chimed in. "He could!"

Ludwig frowned. His siblings were optimistic, but he knew better. "I guess it's possible," he answered, though he knew in the back of his mind that his father wouldn't win the fight. He never did.

---

Princess Peach ignored what Bowser had told her. Mario was here, she was sure of it. She left Bowser's bedroom and walked into a room a few doors down the hall that allowed her to see outside. When she saw Mario, her heart skipped a beat. She was completely thrilled to see him, but her happiness quickly turned to worry.

"I hope he doesn't get hurt," she said to herself. "Mario, please be careful. But hurry."

---

The Koopalings anxiously continued watching the fight from the dining room window, losing more and more hope as the minutes passed. The battle was dramatic and intense. Mario fought diligently the entire time, determined to rescue his beloved princess, and after what seemed like an endless brawl, Mario defeated Bowser. Princess Peach bounded through the corridors as fast as she possibly could, her heart pounding. She ran to the castle's entrance and pushed the doors open and found Mario there waiting for her. Overjoyed to be reunited, they embraced each other.

All eight of the children saw them. They were completely devastated. In the past few days they had spent with Peach they were happier than they'd been in a very long time, and it was all about to come to an end. None of the kids spoke a single word. They only stared out the window at the princess, some of them even beginning to cry.

"Are you all right?" Mario asked Peach.

"I am now," she replied with a sweet smile.

He smiled back and they kissed. "I love you," he said.

Peach beamed. "I love you, too."

"Are you ready to go back home?"

Peach didn't answer at first. She turned to look back at the castle as pleasant memories of the last few days came flooding back to her mind. This kidnapping was much different from any time before—she almost enjoyed it. She'd finally met Bowser's children, and fallen in love with all eight of them, as though they were her own.

The Koopalings were much different than everyone thought they were, and Princess Peach only prayed that Bowser had listened to all of the things she had told him about them. She hoped that he would learn to treat them as a good father should. The children's company had helped to easily make this stay in Bowser's castle the best one she'd ever had and she knew that she would terribly miss them. However, Peach was elated to be with Mario again, and she couldn't wait to return to her castle.

Princess Peach looked at Mario and smiled, then took hold of his hand. "Yes, I'm ready."