Chapter 18: Resurrection
They say you could get used to anything if you experience it often enough, even pain and loneliness. So, after a few days of not having his man in green with him, Dimentio had welcomed the familiar old feelings. He had made a new home in suffering back then, so it felt comforting in its own odd way. Still, he was disappointed to find that talking with his clones didn't have the same calming effect that it once had. Nowadays, it was like listening to a recording of himself a thousand times over. The only one that kept his interest was the one who reminded him to keep pursuing their plans. It had a strange joy in overseeing the end that Dimentio had at the very beginning, so he supposed it made sense for it to be his guide now.
Even so, he couldn't take his mind off of his harrowing experience in the Underwhere the other day. It was after he had taken care of the three heroes in Flipside. Leaving the town's wizard and a certain Pixl to panic and mourn, Dimentio had visited the Underwhere just to make sure that the heroes all ended up where they were supposed to go.
He hummed, wondering about the fates of the others. Mario was probably just arriving in the Underwhere. Peach was lost in the clouds up above. He hadn't seen Bowser up close, but he had heard some D-Men chatting about the fiery beast that they had recently contained and the jester was able to put the pieces together. And Luigi…He had to check on Luigi. He couldn't go without making sure that he was alright.
It didn't take long to find the man in green, riding a boat across the River Twygz. Holding his knees close to his chest, he didn't appear confident nor cocky anymore. He was shaking slightly, looking down as if afraid to face the world. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, his eyes widened and he sat up. Luigi turned to the ferryman. "Did you hear that?"
"Ssssoulsss of the restlesss…ignore them…" The ferryman muttered.
"But I thought…One of them sounded familiar."
Dimentio tilted his head, wondering what among the chorus of whispers and screams emanating from the river had grabbed Luigi's attention. The man in green pointed it out again, to which the ferryman brushed his concerns aside a second time. Luigi frowned. "I know what I heard! It was him! My twin."
Ah. So, that's what he had been hearing. It had to have been an illusion, a trick of some sort. Dimentio's spells could seem random and haphazard at times, but he wouldn't teleport Mario straight into a river of madness. Perhaps he should find the man in red and bring him to Luigi. It would speed things along, and they were bound to-
That was when Luigi positioned his feet on the edge of the boat, stood straight, and jumped into the river. Before Dimentio had time to react, Luigi swam straight into the grasp of an Underhand, who grabbed onto its victim's waist before tightening its grip. At the same time, a mist of purple went over the two figures.
When it faded, Luigi could now see the threat in front of him. Before Dimentio could do anything, the Underhand pulled the man in green down to the river below. The magician bit his lip, waiting for Luigi to swim back up. Instead, there was a flash of green and a rumble that shook the river…then silence.
Dimentio teleported into the river, ignoring the bitter cold of the water. He found Luigi's body and grabbed onto his arm. With that, he teleported them to a location on the other side of the Underwhere, past the river and underground tunnels below. Once there, he saw fountains with orange liquid. He had read on this topic before, and according to myth, these fountains healed any injuries or illnesses.
Dimentio looked down at the man in his arms. Luigi was shivering, but he was still unconscious. The jester sighed. "You idiot…" He whispered. "You could have gotten yourself killed for real this time, you know that?" Luigi didn't respond.
Knowing that this was a safe space for now, Dimentio sat Luigi down in one of the fountains. "I can't be with you, dear, but I know you will make it out of this mess soon. And when that happens…I'll be at the castle, waiting for you." After giving him a quick kiss on the forehead, Dimentio snapped his fingers and disappeared.
Now, the jester sighed. As he laid on his otherwise made bed, he lifted one of his hands and stretched all five digits, just to feel grounded in the present moment. Still, he couldn't help but worry. What if he couldn't bring Mr. L back? What if he was successful in bringing him back, only the man in green didn't remember him? Remember them?
He frowned, setting his hand back down to his side. "I knew I denounced these feelings for a reason…they're so hard to deal with." There was nothing he could do at the moment, and the magician hated that feeling. For now, Dimentio would just have to hope that everything would turn out alright.
As uncertain as he felt, Luigi saw no other option than to help his brother. He followed Mario back through an underground chamber full of blocks, levers, and tubes. This was nothing new to Luigi, being one of the Mario brothers. However, once they left and returned to the River Twygz, he froze.
"What's wrong, bro?" Mario asked.
Luigi turned, taken back. Although his voice was drowned out somewhat, the man in green was surprised that he could still understand his brother underwater but quickly accepted that fact. "This river is dangerous…" The younger twin replied. "We need to get out quick. Follow my lead, and stay away from the hand creatures." Mario nodded, accepting his brother's words without question. He must have seen the bony hands himself earlier.
With that, the brothers swam towards the shore. Luigi did his best to ignore the haunting whispers, the cold temperature of the water, and the bony hands that slid through the river every so often. Remembering the river's trick earlier, Luigi grabbed a hold of Mario's hand and squeezed it tight. I won't let them fool me again…
The man in green was more than relieved once they reached the surface. Stroking his chin, he asked, "We need to think of a plan. How are we supposed to find this girl? Did Jaydes mention what she looked like?"
"No, she didn't…All I know about her is her name and that she's a Nimbi."
"Well then, she would have to stick out in this place like a sore thumb! Have you seen anybody looking a little out of place since arriving here?"
The man in red took a moment to think before his eyes widened. "As a matter of fact…I have…and I think I know where to find her!"
After following Mario's lead, they came across a girl. She was a white winged creature with a powerful aura, sitting on a warp pipe and singing to herself with an angelic voice. "Oh, hurry…Hasten to meeee…sweet priiince…"
"Um…Excuse me? Hello again!" Mario said with a friendly wave.
The girl looked down at them and glared. "Foulness! An aging man of grim mustache returneth! Talk not to me as though we have met! Speak now, what do you want of me?"
"We came to find you!" Luigi said.
"Thou came hither to find me?" She repeated in a mocking tone. "Pah! As if I would consort with a face so behaired! I await a handsome prince! Understand? PRINCES ONLY!" Then the girl hesitated. "Oh, but hold a moment…Ha HA! Dost thou claim to be the prince for whom I pine? Priceless…yea, verily. Very well then, good prince. Let us confirm thy lineage. If thou art my prince, then surely thou knowest my name. Speak it to mine ears! If the name is true, then I shall admit thou art my one and only."
Without hesitation, Mario stated, "Your name is Luvbi."
"Ha HA! In thy face! My name is not Luv…" The girl stopped. She gasped, eyes wide. "WHAAAAT!? H-H-How has thou come by the knowledge of my name? No…doth this mean…"
Luigi chuckled. "I guess that means Mario is your prince now."
"Nay! Nay! Such foulness! The very thought cannot be abided! I cannot date a man so old and unpleasant to the eye! I shall return to Mother!" Luvbi said, making a faux gagging sound before flying away.
After watching her leave, Mario muttered, "Well, we did what Jaydes wanted. We should probably go back to her and tell her that her daughter is safe." With that, the two went back through the landscape of the Underwhere, walking in a comfortable silence, before Mario spoke up. "Bro, can I ask you a quick question?"
"Sure. What is it?"
"It's just that…the door at the bottom of the river was locked when I came across it. I had to use a key that Jaydes gave me to get in."
"Yeah, so?" Luigi said with a shrug, not understanding how that was relevant.
"I'm just wondering, how did you get in there before me? Jaydes mentioned you fell in the river, so you couldn't have been at the cliff right after your game ended."
The man in green hesitated. If he was honest, he really had no idea. He just blacked out in the river before waking up in one of the fountains. But he didn't want Mario to know how faulty his memory had been lately. That might make him worry, and he didn't want to slow him down at a time like this. So he decided to tell a white lie. "Well, the door wasn't locked when I got in. Maybe Jaydes had someone lock it before you showed up?"
"I guess…but why would she lock the door only to turn around and hand me the key not long after?"
Luigi shrugged. "I don't know. But let's not worry about that. We have worlds to save." Mario hummed, but seemed to accept this answer, as he didn't press Luigi any further.
For as long as he could remember, Luigi had been scared of all kinds of creatures of the dark. Not only boos, but also the imaginary monsters hiding in the cracks and corners of his childhood room. Still, strangely enough, Luigi didn't feel that way at all upon meeting the Queen of the Underwhere herself. Jaydes was a tall woman with an even taller violet crown on her head and a cloak to match. Still, she had a calm aura about her that put the man's mind at ease.
Luvbi was already there with her mother. Upon seeing Mario and Luigi enter, she glared at them. "HA! At last thou appearest, foul, hairy creatures! Thou art no princes! Thou art LIARS! Thou approachest me at my mother's behest!"
Jaydes turned to her daughter with a frown. "Luvbi! Mind your manners! You know this all happened because you wandered off without permission! Now, apologize to these nice men at once!"
Luvbi looked down at the ground, ashamed. "Um…yea…" She floated over to them. "So, um…yea…I am sorry…that thou art so hairy." Then she floated back to her mother.
"Oh, Luvbi…You had us all so very worried." Jaydes shifted her attention back to the brothers. "Mario, please accept this as a sign of my eternal thanks. Here."
That was when she pulled out a familiar object: a brilliant purple heart, shining and radiant. That was when Luigi remembered something from before. Somehow, he was holding this same object in his hands, but it used to be as plain as an old rock. The complete opposite as how it was now.
"It's fixed…" Luigi muttered. "But how?"
"I have power over life and death, you see. And I was able to use that power to restore this Pure Heart. I know not how you found it, but this Pure Heart shows that fate is on your side. Take good care of it." Mario nodded, taking the Pure Heart. "And by the way, it may please you to know that your game is not truly over. Somehow, you were sent to the Underwhere while still very much alive. My power can return you to your world if you so wish…what would you like to do?"
"We need to go back," Mario said.
"Wait, bro," Luigi muttered, placing a hand on his shoulder. He leaned in closer and whispered, "What about Peach and Bowser?"
Mario whispered back, "I don't know where they are…but we're running out of time. We'll find a way to get them back after I've stopped Count Bleck."
The man in green frowned, but nodded. "I guess we have no choice then…" To Jaydes, he said, "Yeah, I wanna go back too!"
"Then I shall return you." After that, Jaydes recited a magical chant that resulted in a star-shaped portal appearing. As soon as she finished her spell, the portal pulled Mario and Luigi towards it as a magnet would with metal. With a flash of white light, the brothers were gone.
The next thing Luigi knew, he was lying flat on his face with his brother next to him. They stood and dusted themselves off. Before the man in green could adjust to his new surroundings, however, he heard a soft feminine voice. "Mario! You're alive!" They turned and saw a rainbow butterfly creature flying towards them.
Mario grinned. "Tippi!"
Then a man wearing a blue cloak approached them. "M-M-MARIO!? But I saw Dimentio end your game…Then Tippi said you were here, so I thought I'd come and take a look, but…Wow…You're truly alive."
"You know my bro always bounces back!" Luigi said. "Like me! I bounce, too!"
"Um…And you are?" Tippi asked.
"We can introduce ourselves later! For now, let's head into my house!" The cloaked man said. They took an elevator down and Luigi learned that the man was called Merlon during the ride. Tippi said she was a Pixl and had the ability to give information on any object that she focused on for more than a few seconds. That way, if Luigi was curious about anything, she could tell him all about it.
Once they went inside his house, Mario told them what he had experienced in the Underwhere, including reuniting with his brother. "So, that's how you did it then…" Tippi mused.
"So, hey, I'm Luigi!" The man in green said with a wave. "I'm my bro's bro! Nice to meet you!"
The Pixl hesitated. "Haven't we met somewhere before?"
Luigi thought hard about it. Tippi did look a little familiar, but he couldn't remember ever meeting her before now. "Oh boy, not that I remember but…"
"Wait…Is it possible that you're our fourth hero?"
"Funny you should say that…" Merlon said. "I just found this interesting bit in the Light Prognosticus. 'The seventh lost Pure Heart will draw together two men. And when the light returns, its brilliance will show the way to the last hero.' Yes, as Tippi said, I think this fellow in green might be our last hero."
"Mario…" Tippi whispered. "I never stopped believing you would return…But Princess Peach and Bowser…"
"What should we do?" Mario asked.
"How to proceed…Well, if you could come back, perhaps Peach and Bowser also can. But first, let's find a Heart Pillar where we can set this Pure Heart."
Mario nodded and they left the house. Tippi gave Luigi a brief explanation of the layout of the town, which was called Flipside. The man in green was following it well until Mario mentioned a reverse, flip-flopped copy of the town known as Flopside. Luigi laughed. "Flip, flop! I get it! Good one, bro!"
"He's not joking, actually…" Tippi said.
"Wait…so there really is another town like this one but in reverse? That's so confusing."
"It's pretty easy to get around once you get used to it," Mario said. "Just follow my lead and you'll be fine."
Luigi had trouble wrapping his head around the concept, but decided to follow Mario and Tippi and hope that everything would make sense later. Sure enough, when he arrived at Flopside, he was initially confused by the town's reverse layout, but caught on quickly.
Eventually, they found the heart pillar for the seventh Pure Heart on the outskirts of town. Mario told Luigi to offer up the heart to the pillar and it would do the rest for him, so that is what the man in green did. To his surprise, the pillar began to glow all on its own. Next, the Pure Heart leapt out of Luigi's hands and settled itself into the heart pillar. There was a purple flash of light before the glow faded and the pillar became stable with its new contents.
Luigi was in awe of the whole thing. Tippi, on the other hand, had little reaction to it. Luigi figured that since she had seen this spectacle many times before, it had lost its magic for her. "So this is the seventh…" She muttered. "Now, there's just a single Pure Heart left to find…We have to act quickly…We have to stop that Blumiere…" Luigi turned to Tippi, confused. She appeared just as surprised as he was. "Hmm!? What did I just…Blumiere…Wait. Hold on. Who in the world is that? I…what am I saying…"
"Tippi, are you okay?" Mario asked.
Tippi was quiet for a moment. "Yes, I'm fine. Don't worry…"
"If you say so…now let's hurry back to Flipside."
As Mario's Pixl companion led them forward, Luigi whispered, "Do you know who she was talking about?"
Mario whispered back, "No idea…But Merlon told me that she arrived here once with no memory of her past. I guess that person she mentioned was someone that she knew from before."
Luigi looked up ahead, worried about Tippi. But she seemed fine now, as if that Freudian slip hadn't come out at all. He decided to take her word for it, his mind occupied with the current adventure.
They went through the newly arrived door at the top of Flipside Tower, onto the next world. Luigi had been excited, if not slightly worried, about what this world would be like. In their years of adventuring, he and Mario had seen it all from bright and happy mushroom worlds to desert dunes to frozen landscapes. He hoped that this environment would be manageable, at least. So one could imagine his surprise when the Underwhere appeared before him once again.
"It's so dark here…" Tippi whispered. "I wonder what sort of world this is…"
Luigi looked around, confused. "Huh? What in the…? Hey! This is the Underwhere! We just came from here!"
Tippi turned to him. "Oh? So this is that place you told me about?" The man in green nodded. The Pixl hummed. "Then I wonder why the Pure Heart led us here." After a short moment of pondering, the brothers led Tippi back to where they had just come from.
"Greetings. Welcome to the…Wait, why have you returned!?" Jaydes asked. She was in the same spot that she had been when she spoke to Mario and Luigi, as if she hadn't moved at all.
"You're Queen Jaydes? My name is Tippi. I'm a friend of Mario's…" The Pixl said. "We…We've come to find the Pure Heart that is hidden in this world…"
The queen's eyes widened. "What!? You are collecting Pure Hearts!? Hmm…Now that I take a long look at you…I realize you just might be the heroes mentioned in the Prognosticus…But could you really be…the ones?"
"So…Does that mean you have a Pure Heart for us, Queen Jaydes?" Tippi asked.
Jaydes turned away. "The location of the Pure Heart is a matter of utmost secrecy, I'm afraid. There is nothing I can tell you. If you really must know, you will have to speak to Grambi, king of the Overthere."
Before they could even ask how to do that, a familiar feminine voice broke the silence. "MOTHER!" Luvbi flew into the room. "My things are packed and checked thrice! I am ready to return to the Overthere!" That was when she noticed Mario and Luigi. "…Oh, me! Thou returnest? Did thy game truly end this time?"
"An idea strikes…Could you fine heroes take Luvbi back to the Overthere for me?" Jaydes asked.
"Take her back? Why ever would you need us to do a thing like that?" Tippi wondered.
"A monster was once held beneath here…but a recent earthquake freed it. Once it escaped its prison, it began to wander this realm freely. Of course, I could never send my daughter alone with such a savage beast on the loose. If you would take her back, I would gladly open the way to the Overthere for you. I will also alert Grambi that you are coming to ask him about the Pure Heart. What say you? This is a fair bargain?" Not seeing another option, Mario and Luigi agreed. "I thank you…" said Jaydes. "With this monster about, my D-men and I are busy trying to contain the damage." Next, she created a magic door. "Just go through this door and keep heading upward to reach the Overthere. And make sure Luvbi arrives safely in the care of Grams…I mean, Grambi."
Luvbi came forward, giggling. "But avert thine eyes whilst we climb, lest thou succembth to my cuteness!"
"Oh, please…He's not that superficial…" Tippi muttered.
Luvbi frowned. "Oh, me. A sharpened tongue. Dost thou pine for yonder hairy twins? For whom dost thou pine the most? The red one? Or perhaps the green?"
Tippi was taken back. "Wh-What? I…"
"Thy cheek grows red, and thy manner flustered…A crush, hot as a thousand suns, burns deep within thy heart! Yea, verily. Alas for thee, methinks. Anyway, movest on!" With the princess of both light and darkness at their side, the heroes went through the door that Jaydes had created for them.
And so that was this chapter. I know it's just chapter 7-1 of the game in written form, but I wanted to get through this part of the story before moving onto the cool bits (AKA Castle Bleck stuff). Considering that the Underwhere/Overthere part is what gave me writer's block with this fic for a long time, I'm happy that I'm at least 50% over that part.
As for my personal life, not much has changed. I have my own apartment now, which is nice. I'm not making enough at the store to cover all my expenses, so I'm relying on my savings as a safety net while trying to find something to do from home on the side. But for the most part, the ground on which I stand is starting to feel stable and I feel like I'm starting to get a hang of this whole 'adulting' thing. I hope to get another chapter out soon. :)
P.S. These days, I'm more active on Ao3, so there's a chance that I may upload new stories there instead of on this account, but we'll see what happens.