Hello Everyone and I apologize for the late post. I had trouble convincing myself whether I liked the essay... Instead of perfecting it...

I took the summer off and went off the grid spending my time watching cartoons, anime, and was side tracked working on private stories... Unfortunately, my time off extended all the way until now...

I'm sorry & I'll work on the next chapter in a more timely manner... In the mean time...

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Day 676-

It's been a little over a week since I woke up but it's felt like months. My recovery has been going smoothly. The soreness in my belly is all but gone. However, the lack of movement made me grow fidgety. Lying around in bed all day is as tiring as an 8 hour training session with Morton.

Attempting to stay off the boredom, I begun stretching and started my plank regimen again. It's been sometime since I've actually done any exercises and thought it best to restart slowly. But that all stopped when King Koopa yelled at me for being out of bed when he checked in on me two days ago.

Unfortunately, my king's continued permission to use his bed contributed to my anxiety. In spite of his approval, it's still my master's bed and to be in it especially without him feels uncomfortable. However, every night whenever I'd motion out of it, King Koopa would stop me.

"But sire," I'd argue. "I am recovered enough now. I should be on the floor again."

"I don't feel you're 100% yet," he'd counter climbing into bed beside me. His build blocking my way out. "Besides I've grown accustom to your company in bed.
"It's like snuggling with a fluffy stuffed animal," King Koopa said in the tone people reserve for pets.

I'd laugh. I guess this situation is no different than having a dog or cat sharing the bed but it still felt uncomfortable. Oh well. I guess I can't complain.

Sleeping in my master's bed has been like sleeping on a cloud. Obviously King Koopa bewitched the mattress allowing it to adjust to an individual's preference. I assumed it was the same spell casted on his chair too. Those pieces of furniture maybe stone but they were as plush as… I guess me. :)

Night 680-

Boredom continued to increase during my confinement in King Koopa's chambers. To help stay off the tedium, I decided to "recreate" my hero essay. King Koopa had asked to read it but I couldn't give him the original essay because Mort copied it and gave it as a Bowser Day present.

"What's this," King Koopa asked when I gave him the piece of paper when he returned this evening.

"My hero essay," he looked at me with a cocked eyebrow. "I was able to rewrite it since I had so much time on my hands." Satisfied with what I wrote, I copied it into my diary incase King Koopa doesn't give it back (fingers crossed).

"MY HERO"

BY:

FOOTSTOOL

My heroes my father. He's a source of inspiration, confidence, strength, and purpose that shaped my life today. I thought he'd stay the foundation of my values forever. Unfortunately one fateful day, my father became a phantom to lead my family across time and space into the unknown. Left behind by my father, the source of my attributes transformed into the meaning of my life as I've been searching for him ever since.
The inspiration my father provided gave me the will to learn by seeking knowledge and information to allow me to view life's obstacles objectively creating my own opinions of right and wrong. He asked questions reviewing the subjects taught in school while testing my ability to recall previously taught information. Never losing his temper when I answered wrong, my father took time explaining my mistake. His advice led me to the correct solution encouraging more learning.
His encouragement didn't limit itself to my education. It, also, provided the confidence to step out of my father's shadow and into the world. I got to meet new people and embark on new challenges head on. At an early age my father showed me how to be an active member of the community through volunteering and putting others ahead of myself. It taught me the value of different points of view before choosing a side while still empathizing with my opponent. I believe I continue exercising this core value choosing to protect Master Loki and coming to my king's keep despite many warnings along the way.
Although not everyone I've met became my friends, I still develop a rapport between them. It portrays itself as mutual understanding and tolerance despite our different social status in the castle. Master Kamek and I started out as enemies but have since fallen into unspoken indifference. However, listening isn't always enough and physical force is required to settle disputes.
Enrolled in boxing lessons after coming home with a black eye on separate occasions, my father started my path toward physical strength. When I wasn't sparring at the gym, my father aided my development at home. He exposed the holes in my stance fortifying my guard. During runs, we alternated between speeds to build endurance. Our exercises included planks and other routines to build stamina and adopted the use of weighted clothes to increase arm strength and speed.
Our work together paid off as I defended myself the third time the bully attacked. Influenced by my father's core beliefs, I quickly apologized for hurting him and earned his friendship. I even received an invitation to his birthday. However, my friendship ended and my father left me. On the way to my friend's birthday, my family died in an accident leaving me behind. With no extended family, I entered foster care and never saw my friend again.
Reserved from the loss, I became nonresponsive earning a troubled reputation. I attempted exiting my solitude but was removed from home after home before I could open up.In the span of two years, I moved in and out of 8 homes making it more difficult to come out of my shell.
When it became clear my father would remain intangible, my purpose became to find him again. I knew searching for a similar figure would prove elusive considering how often I relocated and just as often I became discouraged and wanted to give up. Somehow I refused to stop searching.
Stumbling across the warp to this world, I met the first candidate for fatherhood since my father died. Unlike any person I'd ever known on Earth, Master Loki was a Paratroopa and more human than foster parents I met. Asking questions inspired by my previous father, I coaxed knowledge about his realm despite being a prisoner. We became close enough to stand up and protect each other's live.
Although, like everyone else I thought of as family, he left forcing me to begin the search anew. Orphaned again, I found many of my father's qualities in my king. From the beginning, King Koopa allowed this footstool to converse openly with him. Our conversations taught me King Koopa's vision for the Mushroom Kingdom and reignited my feelings of confidence, strength, and sense of purpose.
The confidence he gave encouraged me to exit his room learning the layout of the castle. During my journey, I got to meet Prince Morton Koopa, Jr. and his siblings while earning their respect enrolling in the Koopa Academy. I, also, got to meet Chef Xander who creates the most flavorful food in both worlds. As my confidence in myself increased, so did my confidence in King Koopa which he returned allowing me outside the castle walls. He invited me to his daughter's ballet recital, participate in a go kart race, and meet Madame Sheila, Master Loki's wife, and family.
After returning to my master's keep, the confidence built between us permitted my individual strength to develop. Worried I couldn't support my king, King Koopa provided weighted clothes to improve my physical strength, stamina, and endurance. Inheriting a sword from Master Loki, my king granted his footstool's request to wield it by hiring a master swordsman to train me.
King Koopa's trust shared along with his dream instilled me with a new sense of purpose. I vowed to defend this dream and protect the castle from attack. Since arriving in the Darklands and becoming my master's footstool, I have called the castle my home, its people my kin, and my king a parent. My only desire now is to protect this realm with my whole heart, body and mind.
My father traveled in and out of my life numerous times. He left taking my family with him. Returning he inspired me to meet new people, provided confidence to accept them as family. Leaving a second time, my father tested my physical and mental strength. Finally returning a third time, my father rekindled my purpose as I won't let him go again without a fight.

"Kamek failed you on this," King Koopa questioned after he finished reading it.

"Yes. He said it was on word too short."

"All you have to do is change heroes to hero is," he said pointing to the first line of the essay. "I'll have to talk to him-."

"Please don't sire," I interrupted. "I've finally built some kind of tolerance between Master Kamek and me. I don't want him to go back to resenting me."

King Koopa scanned my face probably for a lie. However, there wasn't one to be seen. I considered it the truth despite our last encounter.
"Fine, but I'm going to keep this essay with me," King Koopa tucked the paper inside his shell. "I'll keep next to Morton's."

I smiled watching his head duck into the shell. Achieving my goal, I equated it to a parent hanging a child's picture on a fridge. "Thank you, King Koopa."

"I believe you are ready to go out into the castle again," King Koopa reemerged holding his bedroom key.

"Thank you your majesty," I accepted the token. The key renewed the level of trust lost before I broke. Suddenly I remembered the inward curved shell. "Um… Sire? Would you be able to repair my shell?"

"Why would," King Koopa started but stopped. His eyes wandered to my torso. I felt like he was looking through the shirt I was wearing. "Very well and I'll increase its heat resistance too."
My king pulled his magic scepter and flicked his wrist. A glow corrected my armor popping it like a piece of popcorn. "I made it resistant to MY fire. It burns hotter than the volcano's but like Kamek's," King Koopa wagged his finger. "It's only good up to your shoulders. So, no lava diving."

"Thank you my king," I said unable to manage a better response. Instead I took my place in front of my king's chair. King Koopa raised an eyebrow. "If I'm healthy enough to walk the castle then I'm well enough to get back to work."

King Koopa's eyes rolled to the side and a clawed digit tapped his bottom list. "Um, I'm not sure if I want you underfoot anymore."

My heart shattered. Have I been replaced after all? I mean it's my job but my king rejected my services again. Why won't my king allow me to perform my duties? I mean my whole reason for living is to be my king's footstool however King Koopa's refusal is taking away my purpose.

"Yes, King Koopa," I sighed. I guess it doesn't really matter. I can't force my king to remain in his room with his feet up.

"Princess Toadstool, two plates of Yoshi ribs," King Koopa ordered.

'At least my king still feeds me' I thought taking my plate. My king chomped his first rib. "King Koopa can I meet Princess Toadstool one day?" I decided to ask since my king doesn't seem to have any use for me now.

King Koopa choked at my request. I guess I should have waited until after dinner to ask but I needed something to occupy my mind. I didn't want to spend this time together in silence otherwise I would have spent my time listing my insecurities.

"Footstool, I don't know," the reptile replied finally clearing his airway. He looked at me quizzically. "Why do you want to meet her?"

"I wanted to thank her in person for helping save my life," I answered receiving one of my king's blank stares. I hadn't seen that face since I told King Koopa about tea.
A thought occurred to me. "My king," I hesitated. "Did you send Princess Toadstool a Thank You?"

"A Thank You," he repeated confused. "A thank you for what?"

My palm found my forehead. "For helping you," I responded sliding my hand down my face and added, "For us" when he didn't answer.

"Why would I thank her," his eyebrow raised as his voice turned defensive. "I did all the work."

'Ouch' my head yelled when my palm thwacked my forehead even harder. "But you were only able to do so with her advice," I said rubbing my brow gently. "Using her advice is the same as Princess Toadstool physically helping you."

"You think so," King Koopa muttered.

"I know so," answering matter of fact. "It's proper etiquette to thank people who've helped you verbally or physically." I drew his attention. My king still looked confused but I could tell he was considering my words. "Listen sire…
"There are a couple steps toward thanking someone. First step is by sending the person a "Thank You" card," I said clearly furthering his confusion. "They're cards humans send when they receive gifts or things.
"I've heard them used mostly for wedding, get well or graduation gifts," I explained recalling a few common scenarios. "Some people go as far as adding a personal message or maybe even sending a gift too."

"Like what," he questioned.

"It's usually something edible," I shrugged continuing my explanation. "Like a fruit basket, I think, but there are some that have fragrances like perfume or lotion."

King Koopa zoned out stroking his chin. Finally he turned to his table, "Princess Toadstool, a "Thank You" card please," he asked politely. Several minutes passed but the table remained silent.
"Princess, a "Thank You" card," his voice turned into a growl. "NOW!"

"I- I'm s-sor-sorry my ka-king but I d-don't k-know how ta-ta make that," the table stammered.

I could only imagine the look on the chef's face. Manners are paralyzing weapon in the Darklands. Why would its citizens know what a "Thank You" card is? Apparently, King Koopa found the Princess's response unacceptable.

"King Koopa stop," I commanded when my king lifted the table over his head. "If you didn't know what they were, how can your citizens? Please put Princess Toadstool down."
Hopefully humanizing the piece of furniture was enough to calm King Koopa down. It worked. "Chances are there aren't any "Thank You" cards in the Darklands."

His angry expression changed into a distraught one after he reset the table on the floor. "Then what?"

"Excuse me, Princess Toadstool, may I have a piece of paper and a pen please," I asked. Almost instantly the items appeared. The statue remained silent as if sighing in relief instead of insulting me.
"Now my king, please write down your "Thank You" message then fold the piece of paper," I instructed turning my back to the king.

"What are you doing," he asked.

"So I don't peek," I replied with a smile. "Sometimes the messages are meant to be private. I wouldn't want to repeat what you wrote. Your staff may think you've gone soft."

"Hmm… Good idea Footstool. Turn back around," he commanded. Complying I couldn't suppress my laugh when I heard, "Thank you for your advice Princess Toadstool. Footstool is fixed. You're a Peach."
Impressed at my king's quip, I nearly didn't react when King Koopa tapped my shoulder. He stared at me while folding the piece of paper. "Now what?"

"Have you decided whether to get Princess Toadstool a gift," I asked. "We should be able to put your private message on the card they provide."

King Koopa smirked. "Yeah. I want to get her a peaches and crème gift basket. They have them in the Island Zone."

"Another ingenious idea," I complimented my king's thought. Apparently King Koopa put allot of thought into his "Thank You" gift considering how uncommon they are in the Darklands. "We can ask Mrs. Loki, Ed or Bain to place the order."

"We'll ask Sheila," King Koopa replied smirking at me. "I don't want the other two to think I went soft."

"Yes, sire," I laughed.

"Okay what's the next step of the "Thank You" process," he asked.

"The second step would be to thank them in person, the next time you see them," I answered.

King Koopa frowned grumbling his response "Seems redundant."

"Maybe," I shrugged it off. "But it lets the person see the sincerity in your eyes. She'll probably laugh it off but trust me. Princess Toadstool will appreciate it full heartily."

King Koopa's heels bounced up and down. "Okay, I'll trust you," he said smugly. "I'm going to go contact Sheila now."

Before I could respond, my king was gone. I may have lost my job but at least King Koopa was still willing to trust me. I'll just have to figure out a way to reclaim my position.
Walking the dinner plates back to Princess Toadstool's tray, I realized King Koopa never answered my question. He must have forgotten. Oh well I can always ask him again later.

"Thank you for the meal, Princess," I said setting the plates down.

"You're welcome maggot," she responded but instead of clearing the tray, the plates were replaced by a Red Lava Fire cake in a basket. "Thank you."

I laughed at the little gift basket from the kitchen. "You're welcome Chef Xander." Apparently, the kitchen can hear more than just when it's spoken to.

Devouring the cake, I yawned and decided to get ready for bed. Now that my confidence in myself and my king is back, along with my bedroom key, it's time to rejoin my friends tomorrow.