Chapter 20: Reflections

"WHAT!? ...Spat Count Bleck in utter disbelief! Surely, this news cannot be true! The heroes still live?"

Dimentio laughed. He had forgotten how satisfying it was to be in control. "Oh, I'm afraid so, my count. In fact, they will be here before long.~"

"Whuh? Izzat true, then!?" O'Chunks asked. "What're we doin' twiddlin' our biscuits 'ere? Count Bleck! Lemme go throw 'em a nice welcome party. I'll bring the punch!"

"Ooh! I wanna party with those party poopers too!" Mimi chimed in. "Wait up, O'Chunks! Mimimimimi!"

With that, the two minions departed, leaving Dimentio with the Count and Nastasia. "Well, I'm not one to miss a party…" The jester said. He was about to leave himself when he suddenly remembered something. With a quick snap of his fingers, he decided to stay put for just a little while longer. "Oh, but wait one moment...Dear Count...Does the name Blumiere ring a bell?"

The man's eyes widened. Nastasia gasped, trembling ever so slightly. Count Bleck whispered, "Where did you hear that name, Dimentio?"

"Oh, the mustache man's Pixl went on and on. She said, 'I must stop Blumiere,'" He replied. The best part about this was that he was telling the truth. In order to make sure the Mario brothers returned to Flipside as planned, he visited the city while hiding in plain sight. She said the Count's true name just as they placed the sixth Pure Heart in its pillar.

Count Bleck was silent, lowering his hat over his face. Dimentio recognized this gesture. It was something he only did when he felt like hiding. His smile grew. "But I suppose there's no reason to pay any mind to the ramblings of a Pixl...Ciao for now, my count!~"

With that, Dimentio teleported out of the room, leaving the other two to process that information on their own. He arrived in his bedroom. Thankfully, the halls were empty so no one could distract him. This was it. Soon, he would finally see the fruits of his labor. Once he had the worlds to rule, he would finally be free. He would be able to trust others. Most importantly, he would have Mr. L with him again. Still, a small part of him had doubts. What if Count Bleck was more powerful than he expected? What if he managed to defeat the heroes and enact his plan? What if he managed to defeat Dimentio?

Of course, the magician did his best to push those thoughts down. Despite what the Tribe of Darkness preached about how mixing with other species would dilute the magic of the next generation, Dimentio was more powerful than any of their full-blooded members. With the Chaos Heart at his side, Count Bleck wouldn't stand a chance. " L won't like this," The doubtful part of him whispered. "Even if you manage to bring him back, he will be loyal to the Count, not you."

Dimentio sighed. There was a chance that he wouldn't be able to convince Mr. L like his clone had suggested. Still, what other choice did he have? This was the only way to get what he wanted. He had worked too hard and for too long to give up now. If others had to suffer for it, then so be it. They would understand once his New World arrived at last. "He'll understand," He whispered.

"No, Blumiere! You mustn't!"

Luigi didn't know what happened. One minute, they were getting ready to go to Merlon's house and the next, Tippi was lying on the floor, shouting the name of that mystery person from her past. Based on the expressions on the others' faces, Luigi inferred that this was the most emotion any of them had seen their friend openly convey. "Darling…How could you…" She whispered. "Oh…Darling…You…Why…?"

"Hey, Tippi! Snap out of it, will ya!?" Bowser said.

She was quiet for a few more seconds before muttering, "...What?" She floated back up to her normal place in the air.

"I thought you'd just gone back to town, but then I saw you lying there, not moving…" Peach said. "And then…you started shouting loudly. I have to say, it kind of startled me."

"Did something happen, Tippi?" Mario asked.

"Um…I'm alright…I'm sorry for startling you…"

"Blumiere…" Peach said aloud. "Is that a person's name you were saying? Were you remembering something from your past, perhaps?"

"No…It's nothing…Nothing at all…"

There was a moment of silence. No one seemed to know what to say to break it. Finally, Luigi spoke up. "So, should we go to Merlon's? We ought to tell him we found the last Pure Heart!"

Everyone agreed before making their way to Merlon's house. There, the town elder voiced his thoughts. "So…We have gathered all of the Pure Hearts and all four of the heroes, it seems…"

Bowser laughed triumphantly. "Now, we just stomp this Count Bleck guy and call it a day!"

"I fear for the poor people of this world who must continue to look at the sky and worry," Peach added. "We must act quickly and ease their hearts and minds!"

Tippi hummed. The sound carried a heavy weight to it, as if she had just learned some tragic news. Noticing this, Merlon asked, "What troubles you, Tippi?"

"The prophecy…Do we really have to destroy Count Bleck to stop it from happening?"

"Much of the dark prophecy has already come to pass…but stop it we must. It was by Count Bleck's hand that the Chaos Heart was summoned, bringing this peril. Without him, the prophecy's power will wither, and all worlds can avoid their ends."

"Yes…I suppose you're right…I guess we always knew that, didn't we…"

Luigi tilted his head. "Tippi? What's the matter, huh?"

"My dear…" Merlon continued. "Was there something between you and this Count Bleck?"

"Um…No, nothing. It was nothing…" Suddenly, the Pixl's tone shifted. "I'm fine! Let's go!" She said the words quickly, as if she wanted nothing more than for everyone to avert their eyes.

Merlon hesitated for a moment, torn between pushing her for more information or letting it go. In the end, he chose the latter. " …Very well, then. Once again, your first task is to set this Pure Heart in a Heart Pillar. Once you've done that, you must head back to the black tower in Flopside."

With that, the heroes were on their way. Even so, Luigi couldn't help but worry about their Pixl companion. "Tippi, are you sure you're okay?" He asked, speaking low so that the others wouldn't be able to hear.

"Yes, Luigi."


She turned to face him. "Listen to me. I'm fine."

Luigi knew what that really meant. Just drop it already. He sighed. If she wasn't willing to talk, then he couldn't force her. "Okay, Tippi. If you say so."

After setting the final Pure Heart in its proper pillar, Luigi met Nolrem. Just by looking at him, he knew that he watched over this town in the same way that Merlon did Flipside. The elder told them to meet him at the top of Flopside tower when they were ready to begin their journey. The four of them did all the preparation they could think to do before taking the elevator to the top of Flopside tower, where Nolrem was waiting. "This is the final door. Eight Pure Hearts versus the Dark Prognosticus…Castle Bleck awaits," Nolrem said.

"There was something on the last page of the Light Prognosticus," A voice added. Luigi looked behind him and saw Merlon standing by the elevator. "'Only those who have not abandoned hope can turn back the prophecy of doom. They walk forward into the future, no matter how dark and uncertain it may be.'" With that, Merlon joined Nolrem's side, facing the others.

"You have fought all this way because you believed the future could be bright…I can't go through this door with you, but I send with you all the hope in my heart." The gray cloaked figure said.

"I know that you can do it. I, too, believe it in my heart," Merlon agreed.

Mario smiled and nodded at them. "Thank you, both of you," Peach said.

"Leave it to us!" Luigi agreed.

"Are we gonna group-hug?" Bowser asked. "Enough pep talks, gramps! I'm doing this for ME!" Peach smirked, but said nothing. Luigi knew what she was thinking. Sure, you are.

Merlon glanced at Tippi and grew serious. "Tippi…I don't know what is in your mind, but…If this is too hard for you, feel free to stay behind."

Luigi already knew what her answer would be. "No…I'm going…I've decided. I must do this!" Stubborn, brave, loyal Tippi. Even in the short time he had known her, he couldn't see her doing anything but accompanying them.

"Tippi…If your memory…returns…" Merlon sighed. "Tippi, you've changed much. You've grown so strong…So! Be sure to return safely to me!"

Tippi chuckled. "I will, Merlon." With that, she turned to the heroes. "Let's go! Let's defeat Count Bleck! Let's save all these worlds from destruction!"

Just then, the ground shook beneath them. "And hurry, for the worlds may not have much time!" Nolrem warned.

"In that black span of nothing, you will find Castle Bleck. You may face battles harder than any you have endured thus far…If you feel ready to face this challenge, then please go forward," Merlon said.

Luigi looked up at the Void. Somehow, it appeared even bigger than it had in the Overthere. He gulped. Even if he was putting on a brave face in front of the others, he still felt anxious. The others were the ones who had been collecting the Pure Hearts this whole time. He had only shown up at the last possible second, and he couldn't even remember what he had been doing in all that time. He bit his lip and squeezed his fists. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this…

Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Luigi looked and saw his brother. Mario gave an encouraging smile and offered his hand. The man in green hesitated before taking it. After one last deep breath, he followed the other three heroes through the large, imposing doors.

It had only been a few hours since then, but it felt like several days had passed. Luigi reflected on everything that had happened that day, trying to pinpoint the moment where he went wrong. At that moment, the party was two members shorter than it had been when they departed Flopside. Bowser challenged O'Chunks to a one-on-one duel and won, but the castle collapsed on them both before he could celebrate this victory. The same thing happened with Peach and Mimi. Even though they couldn't be certain, they had assumed all four of them were lost.

Luigi just couldn't believe that two people who had been a part of his life for so many years were gone. The strange part was that he felt a similar pain for O'Chunks and Mimi, two goons who he barely knew. Still, he supposed that it was a sad thing when anyone's game ended, no matter who they were. (He remembered seeing their faces while having visions in the Overthere. How could that be, when this was the first time they had met? Had he listened to the others describe them and he just forgot? He tried not to think too hard about it.)

Now, they were finally on their way to stop the man behind all of this. Mario and Peach wanted all worlds saved. Bowser too, and not just for the reason of wanting his own world like he claimed. Luigi felt the same as them. He wasn't ready to say goodbye to everyone that he had ever known and loved. Still, he wished there was a better way. If only he could talk to the Count…

This can't be right. This can't be. He wouldn't want it this way…

Still, what good would that do? He was cruel enough to want all worlds gone. Not only that, but Mario had told Luigi some stories about the man while they were walking the halls of his castle. Not only did he call Mario a weakling that time, but he also referred to Tippi as an insignificant Pixl. Luigi's words would mean nothing to him.

He told me that he liked it when I came and talked to him. He said the castle was too quiet.

The man in green had to do what he had always done. Defeat the bad guy. Save the princess. Save the Mushroom Kingdom. Save the world as he knew it…"Do you think...the Count was playing all of his minions for fools the whole time?" Luigi asked.

As expected, Tippi avoided the question altogether. "You two can talk. I'll scout ahead to make sure we don't run into any more trouble…" Before either of the brothers could protest, the Pixl flew ahead.

Luigi frowned, wondering what Tippi was keeping from them. He let it go and looked at Mario. "Well, what do you think, bro?"

The man in red shrugged. "I mean...Probably. If Bowser can lie to his own son about me kidnapping his Mama, then why wouldn't Count Bleck lie about this?"

Luigi sighed. "Yeah...Good point…"

Mario put his hand on his shoulder. "Look, bro, I know it sounds bad to end someone's game. I mean, this isn't exactly the same as pushing Bowser into lava since we all know he'll just recover from it. But everything is on the line here, you know? Unless Count Bleck decides to be a hero and do the right thing at the last minute, this is the only option."

Luigi looked at his brother in shock. Did Mario have the same anxieties that he did? Knowing that made him feel a bit better. "You're right, bro. We have to do this." The older twin seemed satisfied with that answer and started to walk ahead. That is, until Luigi went on. "Still, I can't help but feel bad for them…Do you think Nastasia knows?"

"Don't know. I mean..." Mario began before stopping mid-sentence. He turned to Luigi with a furrowed brow. "Wee-gee, who's Nastasia?"

"Well, she's Count Bleck's right hand woman. She was the one responsible for brainwashing all of Bowser's minions. Don't you know about her?"

He shook his head. "No."

Luigi felt a wave of dread wash over him. So, they weren't on the same page after all. Those thoughts he had in the Overthere came back. What did she do to him that day? Why couldn't he remember anything? As he mulled his questions over, Mario had already begun walking ahead. Turning his head to look back, he said, "Come on, bro! Tippi is gonna get captured again if we leave her all alone!"

Luigi had more to say, but he knew that there was only so much Mario could take at the moment. He would let this go for now. "Y-Yeah...You're right. Let's-a go!"

More puzzles, tricks, and traps. All of that was just standard for Luigi at this point, so he moved forward without even thinking about it. Instead, he did his best to ignore the strange, intrusive thoughts that made their way into his head. One area that the brothers came across was a hallway that had mirrors lining its walls and wide gaps in its floor. The brothers had to maneuver their way carefully. Even so, Luigi couldn't believe how much the hall had changed since he had been there last. Count Bleck really did set up a lot of traps for them, didn't he?

Not long after, they came across another hallway of mirrors. This variation looked similar to the first one, right down to the annoying Longators littering the hallway. Still, Luigi furrowed his brow. He only ever remembered one hallway like this. Why was there…? "No, stop it. You've only been here once before! You wouldn't know if there was another one."

Mario tried the door at the end of the hallway, but it wouldn't budge. "Locked. There must be a key hidden around here somewhere." He turned to his Pixl companion. "Tippi, are there any hidden paths in here that we might have missed?"

The Pixl flew around, deep in thought, before stopping at one of the mirrors in the middle of the hallway. "Something is off about this mirror here…"

"Then, the key has to be hidden in there." Mario turned to Luigi. "I need to check this out in 3D, bro. Be right back!"

Luigi nodded. Mario raised his arms in the air and suddenly both he and Tippi were gone. Of course, the man in green knew that his brother hadn't truly left. Since he had just flipped dimensions, he was no longer visible to the 2D world. Tippi must have decided to hitch a ride with him. The man in green sighed, leaning against the wall. For that short, fleeting moment, the room was nice and quiet. Luigi decided to savor this moment while it lasted.

"Ah, it's you," A voice said.

Luigi's eyes widened. He knew that voice. He stood up straight, looking for its source. Sure enough, he saw a jester wearing purple and yellow out in the hall. Dimentio. He felt his entire body grow tense at the sight of him. He squared his shoulders, getting ready for a fight. Then, he noticed something peculiar about the magician's shape. Instead of being out in the hall like the man in green initially thought, he was flat against a mirror's surface. His visage even glinted in the light along with the rest of the glass. This couldn't be the real Dimentio. This must have been an illusion of some sort. Well, Luigi wasn't going to fall for any more illusions or tricks.

"You're the one he is so fascinated with," The fake jester commented. "I have to say that you are rather nice-looking for a hero, but nothing worth getting swept into a whirlwind romance for."

The man in green blinked. What was he talking about? Oh, it didn't matter. He was probably just speaking nonsense to throw him off. "I remember you. You're that jester who works for Count Bleck. Aren't you?"

"Hmm…" The fake Dimentio stroked his chin. "That depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, I am. On the other, I'm not."

Luigi frowned. Something about the way he phrased that sentence just got under his skin. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"How about I put it this way? The true Dimentio gave up a small piece of his soul in order to make me and the others," He went on. "I only have a sliver of that already small piece, therefore I am an echo of the man he is."

Luigi looked at the mirrors. If Tippi was right, then there was a hidden room in there that only Mario could access. Was it some kind of trap? Was his brother in danger? As if reading his mind, the fake Dimentio said, "I'm not here to hurt you or your friends, Luigi. Not to worry. I'm just here to send a message."

Luigi frowned. "A message?"

The copy nodded. "When the time comes, accept the proposal he offers you. You may not remember right now, but he would give you the worlds."

Just as the younger brother was about to ask what he meant by that, the oldest one returned and the supposed echo of Dimentio vanished. Though Mario had the key he wanted, he had a haunted look in his eyes. Not to mention Cudge was leading the Pixl pack this time. "What happened in there?" Luigi asked his brother.

"You don't wanna know. All that matters is that I got the key."

Mario and Tippi went on ahead. Luigi was about to follow when another flash of purple and yellow caught his eye. He looked back and noticed several Dimentio clones, all confined by that hidden room. Although each of them wore the same mask, Luigi sensed that they were all looking at him and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up. He rushed out the door, not anticipating seeing a certain person on the other side.

Ngl, I'm not crazy about this website like I was when I was a teen. I've mostly moved to Ao3, so that's where all my new stuff is. I'm still updating this story on here because I know a lot of people like it, but this will most likely be the last story I update on .