Chapter 8: The Princess in the Sky

"I've brought the princess that you seek, king," the jester, Dimentio bowed as he brought Princess Lilia into the throne room of a mysterious building. The interior was mostly a dark gray color, with a hint of indigo on the tiles. The gray pillars, meanwhile, held up the ceiling. The throne itself was black, and near the throne was a door leading out to what appeared to be a balcony.

And on that throne, Lilia could see a large demon that appeared black in color with glowing white eyes. He was surrounded by dark mist and had a large, black robe and a white mustache. He was also wearing a large, silver crown on his head with purple gems embedded in them.

Beside him was a skinnier figure, but he was wearing a gray cloak with a hood that shrouded his face and body, while the jagged parts of his robe had an indigo trim, along with his sleeves. The only thing Lilia could see from his hood were two, glowing indigo eyes.

"Thank you, jester. You are free to leave if you wish." the king stated.

"No thanks are necessary. Now I shall be off! Ciao!" Dimentio snapped his finger, and the air around him rippled as he teleported via a white outlined box.

"What the… Was he with you?" Lilia gaped as she looked up at the king.

"Oh, he was simply my entertainer! I decided to release him if he brought me the Princess of Tagel, which is you. Allow me to introduce myself." the king coughed as he looked at her with his white eyes. "I am the Shadow King, ruler of all the lands! With the help of my beautiful wife, otherwise known as the Shadow Queen, many lands have been conquered by us!"

"What do you want with me, Shadow King?"

"What do we want with you? Well, you see… Unlike your parents, you hold a special gift. A gift that can help us with our plan!" the Shadow King grinned. "You are apparently the one that holds the Power of the Ancients. That power could be used for good or evil purposes. With you in our hands, we'll be able to make the Shadow Kingdom a reality!"

"Just because you brought me here doesn't mean that I'll accept using this power to help you!" retorted Lilia. "And what are you going to do about it?"

"Oh, that's a very good question!" When she opened her pink eyes, she saw two dark beings rise from the ground and grab a hold of her arms. "H-Hey! What do you think you're doing?!"

"Why, they're going to make sure you don't get away from here!" cackled the Shadow King. "Now tell us! Where is this power that you hold?"

"I… I don't know!" Lilia gasped. "I was never told about where the location of this mysterious power is, so if you think you're going to get what you want from me, well you can think again!"

"Hmmmmm… Is that so?" the Shadow King gestured the Shadoos to release the princess, and so they listened. "Very well. Then I suppose I shall keep you sealed in prison until further notice. We have ways in getting things from people, you know…"

"My king!"

Kagoushi walked into the throne room and knelt before the Shadow King. "I have some news that may shock you."

"What are these news? Speak them to me now!" demanded the Shadow King.

"Thank you," Kagoushi got up and faced the Shadow King. "You know the Grass Tablet in Grass Land? Well, apparently the Shadow Queen's pet dragon, Froodtail, was slain! Not only that, but the person who slayed him grabbed the Grass Tablet as well!"

"Wait, someone's going after those Land Tablets?"

"Yeah... When I encountered him, I saw him wielding the Sword of Light."

"The Sword of Light?" the Shadow King gawked. "So he's...a Chosen One..."

"That's right."

"Who is he? What does he look like?"

"Well, when I encountered him, he was a lime color with yellow eyes, a green, floppy hat, blonde hair, and leather gloves and boots. He was probably around thirteen years of age."

"Nebule!" Lilia gasped. "So he's still alive? Good..."

"Excuse me… But do you happen to know this person?" the Shadow King asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Great… This isn't good…"

"Heh heh heh! So not only do we have the princess in captivity, but we also have an idea on who's trying to stop my evil plans! Thank you for helping us, Princess. We appreciate that!"

"You're welcome," Lilia replied sarcastically.

"So what do you plan to do with her, my king?" the cloaked figure asked.

"Hmmmm..." the Shadow King pondered. "Perhaps for now, we should take her to her cell. It is, after all, the place she will be staying for now. Minions! Take the princess to her cell…but I ask that you don't harm the girl."

"Why?" Lilia asked.

"It's because if we hurt you, we could possibly lose the power that you hold within you. It could halter our plans. Plus, I grow tired of speaking to you, so that's why I want you sent into your cell."

Lilia felt her arms being grabbed by the two Shadoos as they took her out. But it didn't stop her from looking back at the Shadow King and giving him a glare - and also she stuck her tongue out at him.

"That little… Oh, forget it. Usually some people do things like that when they don't like me… No matter. I'll let her stay in there until we finally get the power we need from her! After that, we can dispose of her."

"So, what would you like me to do with that boy?" Kagoushi asked. "I will gladly dispose of him."

"Hold on a minute, I believe that Desert Land is where the next Land Tablet is. I already have someone who's holding that tablet. He's not huge like Froodtail, but he definitely has more speed than him."

"OK... Well, I think I need to get going. My queen is probably waiting for me."

Kagoushi pressed a button on his wrist, and his Shadawk had flown in and taken him out of the castle.

"I guess I'll be leaving you for now, my king," the cloaked figure said before he walked over to the exit of the throne room.

"Are you leaving the throne room already? Because if you are, I would suggest checking up on the princess. I want to make sure none of my minions are actually trying to hurt her."

"Very well. I will do as you say."

With that, the cloaked figure had left the room.

Lilia sighed as she looked around in her dark cell. Thankfully, it wasn't as dark as when she was first brought into the castle. There was the window she previously looked through, a cold, metal bed that looked rather uncomfortable and a toilet. However, she wasn't used to being in a place like this. While she didn't enjoy being a princess at times, she was more used to living in a castle.

"Oh, man… I messed up big time." Lilia frowned as she got some of her blonde hair out of her face. "Not only that, but I guess my parents and both kingdoms are gone… And now I'm sure I'm going to get Nebule killed as well."

She looked at both her hair and dress and noticed how dirty it was thanks to the horrible conditions in the prison. The door was locked up tight, so there was no way she could escape so easily.

"Princess Lilia, are you there?"

"Huh? Who's there?"

The cloaked figure came walking into the prison room and walked over to Lilia, who gave him a glare.

"Oh, it's you. You're a follower to the Shadow King, right?"

"Relax, Princess… I'm not going to harm you." the cloaked figure assured. "The king just wants me to make sure those Shadoos aren't trying to hurt you."

"How nice of him..." Lilia frowned. "Who are you anyway?"

"Ah, yes. I should probably introduce myself to you. I am Yakken, right-hand man to the Shadow King. I am essentially second-in-command."

"Yakken..." the princess took a look at the robe and those indigo eyes of his. "What's with the robe? Are you too afraid to show your face?"

"That's...a bit too personal for me to share."

"OK, could you at least tell me where I am?"

"Oh, right. I forgot that you were teleported here. Well, I might as well tell you. This is the Shadow King's Castle, and it is located high up in the sky. It is thanks to the king's magic that this place can stay afloat."

"Well that's interesting..."

"Yeah..." Yakken looked away from her and leaned against the wall. It was silent for a moment, and eventually one of his eyes shifted to her. "You may be surprised, but we both have something in common."

"What do you mean by that?"

"We both dislike the Shadow King."

"How could you dislike him when you're his right-hand man?"

"Listen, girl, just because I give a king respect doesn't mean that I instantly like him. If I disrespected him, he'd have my head, that's for sure. And I've known this guy for about ten years."

"Ten years?"

"Yeah. I started off as a merchant who sold wheat to some Toads, Goombas, etc. However, the Shadow King invaded our town and nearly destroyed everyone. I was only seventeen at the time, so I couldn't put up a fight against those evil minions of his."

"How'd you end up as his right-hand man then?"

"He found out I was a wheat seller and nearly took all of my wheat from me. I told him I would not let him take it, so he ended up taking me away as well. Knowing that I wasn't much interest to him, he decided to simply train me for the heck of it. Turns out I did much better than some of his minions, so he decided to make me his right-hand man. He even trusts me more than the others, which is rather surprising."

"So… You started off as a person who sells wheat to the Shadow King's right-hand man?"

"Correct. ...And about the robe... Let's just say that I can't show my face after what I had to go through."

"OK... Well, you didn't have to tell me your background. It's not something I'm really interested in."

"Maybe not... But perhaps sabotaging the king's plans might?" Yakken mentioned, and this immediately grabbed her attention. "See? Now listen, Princess…"

"Just call me Lilia."

"All right, fine. Listen, Lilia… I'm going to need your help in order to stop the Shadow King. Sure, you may not be able to take him on yourself, but there's always something about tampering his plans."

"Why would you want me to do it?"

"Because if the Shadow King found out I was doing this, he'd sack me. And you know, if I'm sacked, then that means I wouldn't be able to help you. I could even go down and deliver some messages to that Nebule person."

"You can actually go to him?!" Lilia gaped. "What can you tell him?"

"Maybe I can take you to him so you can tell him yourself," Yakken joked. "…OK, even if I tried to take you out of here, the Shadow King would easily notice, and he'd be pretty brutal about taking you out of here. That, and the dark barrier around this castle can prevent me from taking you out. However, he doesn't care if I go out on my own, and the barrier doesn't affect me and dark beings. So, basically, if you help me get some private information on the Shadow King, I'll deliver messages personally to Nebule. Got it?"

"Hmmmmmmm… Well, I guess I have no other choice… But why would you help me?"

"I haven't gotten back at the king for ten years ever since that incident. And besides, we both dislike him, so if we both worked together, we could both take him down so we both win."

"All right, I guess I'll have to do something," Lilia said as she got up and looked around the room. "…Although, I don't see a way to help you."

"Look over by those piles of bones," Yakken suggested. "There's actually a secret lever that can reveal a secret passage. I guess the king was too stupid to realize that he put you in this cell!"

"Ugh… Over by the dead? That's horrible…" the princess moved the pile of bones away and discovered a lever. When she pulled on it, a secret doorway was revealed.

"Now go through there before anyone spots you! It should take you right to your destination!"

"Oh… Well that's convenient! I don't have to sneak around!"

"Yeah, now just go already," Yakken suggested. "When you come back, you can tell me whatever you want and I'll deliver that message to your boyfriend."

"Boyfriend?" Lilia gawked, her face slightly blushing. "But he isn't my... Oh, forget it."

Sighing, she left the room before Yakken could say anything as the secret door closed.

The tiara was thankfully enough to help her guide her way through the dark tunnel. It eventually led her to another lever. When she pulled on it, she was taken into a room filled with light that had a couple of chairs and a desk at the corner. The walls were a turquoise, while the floor was a shiny white. Surprisingly unfitting considering who this room belonged to...

However, the princess's attention was quickly drawn to a note on the desk.

"I think that might be something of interest," Lilia whispered as she walked over to the papers and picked them up. With that, she began to read it.

Month 3 Day 9

Unfortunately, it looks like one of my wife's pets had apparently lost to a thirteen-year-old boy named Nebule. How someone like him could take down a dragon, I have no idea! If he's going to be finding more of those Land Tablets, then Sir Sandstorm should be ready to take him on! He's the holder of the Desert Tablet, and I entrusted it to him because he holds a power to control sand for whatever he desires. Yes… I assure that kid won't stand a chance against him!

"So the person holding the next Land Tablet is named Sir Sandstorm…" Lilia trailed. "Now, if I took this information, I think the Shadow King would notice and go out to find them. I guess I could simply tell Yakken that the Desert Tablet is being held by Sir Sandstorm… That's not much."

She quickly left the room as she heard some footsteps getting closer. She barely made it as the secret door closed as the Shadow King came walking in.

"Hmmmmmm… Now where did I leave my diary papers?" the Shadow King wondered as he noticed them on his desk. "Ah! There they are!"

"All right, I'm back," Lilia announced as she walked back into the cell. "I discovered that the Desert Tablet's being held by someone named Sir Sandstorm."

"Sir Sandstorm… I think I know about him…" Yakken trailed. "He has the ability to control the desert sands and use it against his enemies. Yeah, he's certainly a force of nature, that's for sure. Froodtail may have been huge, but Sandstorm is a boss. Literally."

"Do you think he stands a chance against him?"

"Well, unless he had some help with him, then no."

"Oh, dear… Then Nebule's going…to die?"

"I didn't say he was going to die. He could win, but it won't be easy. Plus, with a sandstorm, he won't be able to see much around him."

"OK… Well, maybe you can tell him that I'm being held captive by the Shadow King and that I'm all right. I don't want him to worry about me the whole time. That will slow him down."

"All right, I understand," Yakken nodded as he made his way to the exit before turning back to Lilia. "You did a good job, Lilia."

"Thanks…" Lilia trailed as Yakken left the cell room. Perhaps there was someone she could at least trust here...

Since Tagel's destruction, the Shadow Queen had watched as her minions started to build a new town that was more suitable for her. So far, progression had been going well. One of the most important buildings that was being made was a large palace that she would settle in. That was the biggest focus of her brand new town, and she couldn't wait to settle there.

"So, my queen... Does this place look good to you?" Beldam asked, floating by her side.

"Yesss... It is looking very good!" the Shadow Queen grinned. "However, I do believe that it will look much better when it is complete!"

"Guh-huh!" Marilyn agreed.

"It is great to see that you are pleased with this!" Beldam nodded.

"Yesss... And now that I'm pleased, I want you three to get out of my sight for now."

The Shadow Sirens paused for a moment and looked at the Shadow Queen. Her expression didn't appear angry, but more blank. However, Beldam was not one to defy her queen, so she gave the usual answer.

"Yes, my queen!" Beldam replied, turning to her sisters. "Let us check on the progression of this town, my lovelies!"

Nodding the three had left the Shadow Queen, who had taken a look at the palace before her that was being built. There had to be thousands of Shadoos building the place. It was insane!

"My queen..."

"Not now," the Shadow Queen hissed. "I'm taking a look at this beautiful palace!"

"But there's a problem!"

Sighing, the queen turned around to face Kagoushi. "Ah, Kagoushi! So, have you done the deed?"

"Well... No."

The Shadow Queen instantly paused.

"No? What do you mean?"

"You see... I did have those Four Heroes, but then some other person came in and attacked me."

"Oh, really? So does this mean that they got the Crystal Star in Grass Land?"

"I'm not so sure... But that might be the case."

"What a shame... But out of curiosity... Who else attacked you?"

"His name is Nebule, and he carries the Sword of Light," Kagoushi explained. "I think he might be one of the Chosen Ones..."

"Chosen Ones?" the Shadow Queen gawked. "No... I thought those were only just a myth?!"

"I guess not..."

The Shadow Queen grit her teeth as she grabbed a hold of the Shadow Hunter. "Listen to me NOW, Kagoushi! Do not, I repeat, do NOT let these Chosen Ones succeed in getting the Land Tablets! They're going to be undoing the damage I've caused! And I especially don't want those Four Heroes getting more Crystal Stars!"

"Y-Yes, my queen!" Kagoushi stammered, unable to handle the queen's power. "In fact, I was going to go right now!"

"You better... Because these people are a serious threat to both the Shadow King and I..."

Nodding, Kagoushi pressed a button on his wrist and summoned his Shadawk to carry him away. The Shadow Queen looked away, clenching her fists in anger as she looked up at the dark, purple sky.

"Those fools..." she hissed. "There's no way I'm going to let them stop me!"

So, we now know where Lilia has been taken too and are introduced to a couple of characters as well! Considering that there was a Shadow Queen, I think it would make sense for there to be a Shadow King as well.

Also, considering that it was said that the Shadow Queen had an actual body, I decided to give her a normal form if you couldn't tell from the second chapter. After all, you find her spirit form in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door...

For the next part of the interlude, expect someone we've seen in one of the first two chapters to make their appearance.