Luigi screamed out into the silent manor, running forward in search of Peasley and Polterpup, calling out their names repeatedly.
Nearly slamming into the wall as he dashed into the main corridor, he desperately called out for any signs of life. With every second that passed and the further he went, he only felt hope slipping further and further from his grasp.
His stomach began to twist as he pushed open doors, every room leading to more broken clues and signs of distress. The streaks of dried dark splotches along the wall, looking much like blood, only hastened his anxious heartbeat as he looked around feverishly.
"Please, answer me! Is anyone here?!" Luigi screamed, whirling around as he searched the main hall. "Peasley! Polterpup!"
Luigi scrambled to find anything- some clues someone might have left. He investigated under the stairs, trying to steady his breathing as he backed up and looked around him.
Maybe he was overreacting!
Maybe Peasley was fine, and he had just gone out to take Polterpup on a walk, like last time. Maybe Polterpup had just gotten a bit antsy waiting for him to get back, and that's why the manor was in such disarray.
Maybe nothing bad had happened while he was gone!
He mentally scolded himself for acting so optimistic, knowing full-well what had happened while he was away. He knew it was his fault, but he didn't want to have to admit it.
His thoughts only served to make things worse as he continued forward with shaky steps.
Hugging his sides, Luigi pushed open the old wooden door leading to the downstairs corridor. Peasley HAD mentioned he wanted to explore the manor a few nights after their initial arrival. Maybe he just hadn't heard Luigi come in.
"It's okay… You're okay… E-Everything is going to be okay…" Luigi whispered to himself, tears still streaking down his face.
The door to the corridor creaked slowly, whining with age as he entered. He turned, trying to glance around in the faint light provided from the deep nighttime.
Turning slightly, he perked up with wide eyes as he noticed one of the nearest rooms had it's lights on, unlike the other rooms in the hall.
He recognized it as the lab, the same room he'd spent plenty of time in before, as per E. Gadd's request during his ghost-hunting days.
Hesitantly, Luigi approached the small sliver of light coating the floor beneath his feet. He reached for the doorknob with a quivering hand, slowly turning it before pushing the door open, cautious.
"Hello? Is anyone in here-?"
As his gaze adjusted to the room's bright lighting, Luigi froze. His eyes widened in complete and utter horror as he felt his heart clench in his chest.
Lying dead before him was E. Gadd, strapped down to a chair, his head having fallen to the side and his glossy bloodshot eyes staring down. Saliva dripped down his chin, burn marks covering the rest of his paled body. Dried blood stained his tattered lab coat, his wispy hair lying in damp strands on the sides of his grotesquely rotting face.
Luigi released an ear-shattering shriek as he began to violently sob, hitting the wall behind him and crumpling to his knees.
His mentor was dead. The man who had once been like a father figure to him, was sitting dead right before him.
Luigi's pained screams soon attracted the immediate attention of the ghosts lingering outside throughout the valley. They phased through the lab's walls only to find Luigi huddled up against the wall and staring forward, the ghosts soon being faced with the reality that their professor was dead.
As the ghastly specters, horrified, wildly entered and swarmed the abandoned lab, Luigi struggled to stare up at them as they tried to help him to his feet.
He just continued to hold the sides of head, crying and sobbing harshly. "No, Grambi, n-no…"
Luigi mumbled inaudibly to himself, scooting back and further up against the wall, trembling and sobbing.
"This is all my fault, this is all my fault, this is a-all my f-fault…" Luigi's words repeated like a maddened mantra, syllables breaking and cracking as he wept into his knees, trying to steady himself.
He squeezed his eyes shut, messily drying his tears with his gloves, but the streams did not cease.
"This is all my fault, t-this is all my fault… w-why…"
He made a mistake, he left them alone, and now he was facing consequences.
But, that's just what Dimentio had intended. He had won already.
Why couldn't he just leave him alone?
E. Gadd had been murdered, and Luigi knew it was no coincidence or accident. It was deliberate. His old friend had been brutally killed against his will.
Dimentio HAD been here.
And wherever Peasley and Polterpup were, there wasn't a doubt in Luigi's mind that they'd be suffering an equally horrific fate.
The overwhelming thoughts of death grew to be too much, making his vision grow hazier by the second as exhaustion took over his already fatigued mind. He felt numbed, shaking with fear as he watched the ghosts within the lab now begin to surround him with grunts and worried squeaks escaping their spectral forms.
His thoughts were tangled up with painful thoughts of Dimentio's smiling, two-toned face, amused with the torment he caused. The mad harlequin's laughter echoed in his mind, cruelly twisting in with his already horrific thoughts.
Every last whisper lingered and clung to the back of his mind, telling him the same thing over and over again, without stop.
This was all his fault.
Exhaustion soon took over, Luigi's eyes rolling into the back of his head as several ghosts now feverishly approached to try and help.
The last thing Luigi saw was the ghosts' concerned expressions before his vision went dark, his eyes shutting.
Luigi woke alone.
His eyes opened slowly, squinting as faint streams of sunlight brushed past the curtains. He turned over, realizing he was atop something soft and comfortable, soon coming to the conclusion he was in bed.
He sat up slowly, rubbing his head as he yawned.
He tried to think back to the night prior, only remembering the ghosts…
They must have put him here. But, why did-?
Luigi froze, feeling his heart pound against his chest as he turned his head to realize Peasley wasn't sleeping at his side, and Polterpup wasn't dozing at the end of the bed by his feet.
Everything came crashing back at once, Luigi starting to sob before he could even comprehend his emotions. He buried his face in his hands, shoulders heaving as he shook his head and cried, alone.
He recalled E. Gadd, worriedly glancing up as he clutched his chest. He had not a clue what had transpired while he slept, and he had to make sure nothing had gone awry with the ghosts. He had no idea how they might have reacted.
He jumped to his feet, the pillows and blankets shifting as he threw them aside to stand up. He stopped, however, upon noticing something crinkling softly beneath the blanket.
He peeled away the covers, revealing a crumpled note upon the bedspread. Lifting it up hesitantly, Luigi scanned the lines with misty eyes, hiccuping and coughing as his sobs intensified the further he read.
Peasley's handwriting, messy and shaky, was almost entirely obscured by black globs of ink. The splotches looked almost like dark and dried bloodstains, a smiley face drawn at the bottom of the stained parchment.
In addition to Peasley's desperate last words to Luigi written on the letter, Dimentio had added his own little touch to the note.
'See you soon…'
Luigi wanted nothing more than to tear the note to shreds, hatred and malice filling his chest as he glared down at the jester's flouncy handwriting, written just below his husband's own. He sniffled, gripping the sides of the letter as his knuckles went white, intent on ripping it in two.
He paused, scornful expression softening as he read over the letter once more. Peasley's quivering scripture upon the note made his hands relax.
'Please never forget how much I love you.'
He couldn't destroy it.
It was the last physical memory he had of Peasley. He couldn't destroy it, no matter how vandalized it was.
Wiping at his eyes sorrowfully, Luigi held the letter close to his heart as he finally sat up and exited the bedroom, heading toward the stairs to face another day.
The next few days and nights were barely recognizable to Luigi. He didn't register their passing, only brought back to reality by the occasional ghost checking in on him.
The ghosts had carefully gathered E. Gadd's corpse the night they'd discovered him, intending on holding a memorial and proper burial for the old professor. Luigi agreed with the idea wholeheartedly, but he could barely communicate nowadays, mostly breaking down in sobs whenever the ghosts tried to suggest something to him.
Luigi didn't eat or sleep often. He only rested when he passed out from fatigue, and he only ate when his stomach cramped so much that it started to harshly bite away at him, screaming and begging for him to eat something for sustenance. He was extremely dehydrated, constantly crying, mouth dry. He could barely talk.
He spent days sobbing to himself in silence, the lights in the manor turned off and Peasley's letter held up close to his chest.
Without knowing his husband's fate, he simply mourned every night and every day. He mourned without knowing. He cried for hours, lying up against walls and sobbing into his palms as he curled up close to the letter his spouse had left him. He gathered up the dead yellow roses in the main hall and kept them safe, not letting them wither away. He had to hold onto every piece Peasley had left for him.
He didn't like completing any sort of activities anymore. The time only reminded him just how alone he was, and he hated feeling lonely. It hurt more than anything.
At night, when he lie alone in his bed under freezing blankets and against a pillow untouched by warmth for every night the love of his life was gone, he only wept more. Or when he sat alone at the kitchen table without a soul to talk to. Or when he woke in the morning to find no one lying beside him.
No one was there to comfort him when he had a nightmare, or to hold his hand when he was cold.
He was sure, wherever Dimentio was, that he was very much amused with Luigi's current state. Should he be watching right now, he'd most likely be in uproarious laughter with seeing Luigi curled up on the floor as he sobbed in the total darkness of the empty gloomy manor.
Luigi kept himself in a fetal position, knees tucked close to his face as he read over Peasley's letter for possibly the hundredth time in the past few days, ignoring Dimentio's additions.
He perked up, heartbeat hurriedly racing as a knock sounded at the front door.
Standing up, Luigi straightened his shoulders with a jolt as the knocking continued. He shakily exhaled, limping toward the main entrance through the corridor.
He didn't know who was behind the door. The ghosts had the ability to phase through walls, they didn't have to bother.
And everyone else he knew was…
He gulped as the sharp knocking sounded yet again.
He had only one idea of who might be out there, and the thought scared him. Or perhaps, there would be something on the porch that that same individual had left. He didn't know if he was ready.
Taking a deep breath and bracing himself, Luigi reached forward to grip the doorknob, throwing the main doors open.
It felt as though time had stopped.
Luigi practically tackled his older brother to the ground as he pulled him into a desperately tight embrace, hugging him close. He clung onto Mario, digging his paled and thin fingers into his brother's back as he buried his face in his shoulder, holding back harsh sobs. A few whimpers still escaped his lips.
"B-Bro?" Mario chuckled, almost nervously as he pat Luigi on the back. "You okay?"
"I-I'm…" Luigi sniffled. "I missed you s-so much… Y-You're okay…
"Yeah, of course I'm-a okay. What did you think happened?" Mario's tone softened, trying to pull away from Luigi's tight embrace. "Are YOU okay though, bro? You look… uh…"
"I'm fine." Luigi quickly assured, jumping back and brushing himself off. He ran a hand through his hair at a quick attempt to look slightly presentable. He couldn't exactly cover up the dark shadows under his sunken eyes, trying to avoid eye contact. "…J-Just tired."
He couldn't tell him.
Luigi knew, no matter what, he couldn't tell Mario what had happened. No matter how much it hurt, Luigi knew he couldn't provoke his big brother.
Mario would just jump straight into danger, blindly going after Dimentio without a thought. He'd get himself killed in the process.
Luigi didn't want to lose him too. He couldn't lose him. He was all he had left.
"Peach told me about Dimentio, Luigi." Mario's voice was firm. "What happened? Did he hurt you?"
"I… He…" Luigi still didn't make eye contact, terrified of lying to his brother. He didn't even know how much Mario knew, carefully choosing his words before he finally choked out a reply. "He just… he just meant to scare me. J-Just to mess with me, f-for some reason. He's left me alone lately, t-though."
Mario skeptically narrowed his eyes, glancing up at his brother as he scanned him from head to toe. "Really? I-a mean, the Princess kept things rather vague in her letter to him, but she seemed really scared, bro. Why was that?"
"W-Well, I don't exactly k-know what he's up to… and I don't know how he's s-still alive. But, it's been okay!" Luigi reassured desperately, hoping Mario would just drop the subject.
"Yeah." Luigi sniffled, wiping at his eyes quickly. "Nothing t-to worry about."
"Do you know where he is now?" Mario spoke sternly, his gaze fiery. "If he's been messing with you, then I-a don't want him to ever come back. What he did to you back during the void incident was pure evil. I never want him to get that chance again."
"Bro… I-I'm fine."
"Well, Weeg, I have to protect you, you're my family. Just let me-"
Mario was taken aback at the outburst, stepping away from his younger brother. Luigi breathed heavily.
His gaze flickered momentarily, fighting to hold back tears as he bit his lip.
"Mario, p-please. Don't." He shivered, moving to cover his mouth. "I don't want you to get into danger…"
"O-Okay. As long as you're alright." Mario gently smiled, walking back toward his frazzled sibling yet again. He pat him on the back.
They stood in silence for a moment.
Luigi sighed, staring back at his brother before motioning down the main corridor. He buried the letter he'd been holding at his side in his pocket, exhaling.
"D-Do you want a snack or anything? I can make you tea." Luigi tried to act polite, attempting to remember back to what common hospitality usually entailed. "Y-You've been travelling a lot, r-right? You need any time to cool off?"
"That'd be nice, bro. Lead the way."
Luigi did as prompted, walking down the main corridor and gesturing for Mario to follow. He was just glad Mario hadn't questioned the mess littered throughout the manor.
"I guess I just feel bad, bro. I haven't been here for you." Mario suddenly spoke up with a sigh, crossing his arms. "See, I would've been back much sooner, but… there was some complications. Cappy insists it was just technical issues, but I coulda swore it was something else… Like, someone was deliberately trying to keep us from getting home."
Luigi perked up at that statement before Mario continued casually, waving a hand.
"And our stop at Bonneton to drop him off took a lot longer than I would have liked… but, I'm here now. No more excuses." Mario grinned. "I came here right away, hadta see you first. And I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, bro."
Luigi forced half of a smile. "I'm just happy you're back."
The two found themselves walking toward the kitchen, entering through the entrance just off of the library.
Mario walked in first, Luigi lingering behind as he noticed a cup of freezing dark liquid on the table beside an opened book. He wanted to stay and investigate, but continued on to be with his brother. Mario began speaking once more.
"So, are you staying here for a reason or… what?" Mario inquired, glancing around the kitchen. "Doesn't it bring back bad memories?"
"Not really." Luigi tried to sound confident, going into the pantry. "I'm not scared of the ghosts anymore, it's just King Boo who spoiled things. But he's gone for now."
"Right… Hey, thanks for saving me again." Mario laughed. "I'm sure I don't play the role of damsel in distress very well." Mario paused, leaning up against the pantry door. "Speaking of which, I haven't seen the Princess yet…"
Luigi's heart stung, but he still didn't have the heart to tell him.
"I didn't stay long, but things were kinda hectic in Toad Town, from what I saw." Mario continued, sighing sadly. "All I heard about was Toadsworth's passing and-"
"What?" Luigi glanced back over his shoulder, standing up with wide eyes. "W-What happened?"
"I don't know. There were rumors it was because of health issues." Mario shrugged his shoulders. "I don't-a know the whole story, but he was old… It makes sense."
Luigi tried to steady his breathing and not let his mind wander to conclusions. He exhaled, nodding. "Y-Yeah. I hadn't heard about that…"
Mario glanced back at the kitchen, tilting his head. "So, are you planning on staying here for awhile?"
"I j-just needed a change of pace, bro." Luigi chuckled nervously, searching through a few boxes before tossing them aside. "I-I'll probably move back to my place in Toad Town soon."
"Well, I'd be happy to help you pack up your stuff, if you need it." Mario offered, smiling. He paused momentarily before glancing back at Luigi. "Hey, where's Peasley, bro? I thought you guys were living together-"
"Beanbean Kingdom." Luigi answered immediately without thinking.
"When will he be back?"
"D-Don't know." Luigi hoped, somewhere to Grambi, that Mario didn't notice his hands shaking and the tears pricking at his eyes. He knew he'd have to tell Mario eventually, but he couldn't tell him now. Not now.
"And I know I already asked, but have you heard from the Princess at all?" Mario gently inquired, holding a hand over his chest. "I missed her a lot while I was gone. Mayor Pauline wanted me to tell her hello."
"She's…" Luigi trailed off. "I don't know, b-bro. She's…"
Mario straightened his shoulders, tone turning stern. "…Did Bowser do something? I thought he'd realized at this point that-"
Luigi abruptly stood up.
"I'll be right back, bro, I n-need to go… c-check on something."
"Are you okay, Weegie?"
"I'm f-fine, Mario. I-I'm just really tired and I… I'm…"
Luigi didn't finish as he clutched his stomach, leaving the room and running outside onto the patio, finally allowing the harsh tears to escape his eyes.
Despite his best attempts to keep them subdued, the memories flashed back through his mind, blood splattering his mind and death hazing his coherent thoughts.
His shoulders heaved as he cried alone, knowing Mario would be wondering why he was so upset.
He couldn't say, he couldn't tell him, he couldn't, he couldn't…
Luigi froze, hastily wiping away his tears as he turned back to his brother.
"I-I'll be fine, M-Mario." Luigi attempted to assure, smiling sadly. "Just needed some fresh air… I-I'm sorry for worrying you. I just… really missed you."
Mario smiled too, folding his arms. "Heh. Missed you more, Weeg."
Walking back into the manor, Luigi shut the doors behind him with a sigh, Mario at his side. The two brothers settled back into the kitchen, Luigi going back to search through more of the cabinets.
"What kind of tea do you like, bro?"
The evening that followed from there was tranquil.
Mario and Luigi chatted over tea for hours, catching up on everything. Mario told wonderful stories of the adventures he'd gone on, Luigi having to make up a few of his own. It took plenty of willpower for Luigi to not break during the conversation, but he managed. Sometimes, his vision would become misty or hazy, but it didn't take much to hide it.
At the end of their talk, as day soon turned to night, Luigi led Mario back out to the main entrance.
"I'll come back soon, Weeg. I just have to catch up with stuff, first." Mario stood by the door, reaching for the handle. "I'll be staying at our old place for a bit. You can come visit me anytime, or invite me back over. Like I said, I'd be happy to help you move out of here."
"Oh, and before I forget!" Mario dug into his pocket, removing a small keychain with 'New Donk City' written on it in bright colors. "Mayor Pauline suggested I bring you back a souvenir. I know you don't usually like surprise gifts, but… I thought it'd be nice!"
Luigi smiled warmly, holding the keychain close. "T-Thanks, bro."
"Well, I-a better be going." Mario stretched his arms, opening the door. "I'll see you later, Weeg. Don't hesitate to come get me if anything bad happens, or that sorry clown decides to show his face again. Stay safe."
"Mm. You too."
Luigi saw Mario off, shutting the door behind him as his brother disappeared into the shadowy veil of Evershade Valley.
And when the doors shut, Luigi burst into tears yet again, the cruel reality of the moment assaulting his already-fragile subconscious. He fell to the ground, crouching down and weeping loudly.
He knew Dimentio was watching. He knew he was probably planning something right now.
He couldn't protect his brother. He hadn't protected Peasley. He failed. He'd failed all of them. He was weak.
He didn't want to feel this way anymore.
It had been weeks at this point.
Weeks, since Peasley and Polterpup's intial dissapearance.
All Luigi wanted at this point was some closure. If what he feared was true, he wanted to know. He couldn't keep living like this.
He was alone, only having Mario for occasional comfort. And Mario wasn't in the best shape, either, with him finding out the Princess had apparently "gone missing". He swore he would find and rescue her. It was a pity he didn't know what had transpired, and Luigi didn't have the heart to tell him.
But, Luigi had still gone through with his idea of packing up and leaving the manor. He promised the ghosts he'd be back for E. Gadd's funeral, telling them he needed some time to himself for a bit at his original home.
In truth, he just wanted to be far away from the nightmarish manor as possible. It'd only brought him misery, and he feared it would continue to.
Packing things up had been rather easy.
Luigi carried out his bags to the main foyer, dropping them off by the front door one by one. He packed Peasley's things too, just in case, at some chance of a miracle, he was okay.
He stopped momentarily as he glanced around the emptied silent manor before turning to go collect the rest of his things.
He stopped, however, as a knock sounded at the door.
Luigi turned back slowly, expecting Mario to be on the other side, as he had been for the past few weeks.
"Bro? Is that you?"
There was no response.
Luigi hesitantly reached forward, gripping the doorknob shakily before pulling the doors open with a creak.
And lying on the porch was a small box, yellow in color, with a green ribbon tied around it. Luigi felt his heart pounding, clawing at his ribcage, as he reached to pick it up. He shook with anger as he examined the box, tearing away the ribbon.
Slowly, Luigi lifted the top of the box, revealing the seventh tape placed neatly underneath a wilted yellow rose.
Mechanically, almost without thinking, Luigi removed the tape from the box. Tears spilt from his eyes and splashed atop the rectangular tape as he sniffled, wiping away at his hazy vision.
He gathered the box in his arms, carrying it down the main corridor to one of the nearest rooms. He crouched down beside the television inside, pushing the tape into the player.
It was closure.
The screen flickered alive.
The tape opened with Dimentio's smiling face directly in front of the camera, his grin stretched abnormally wide.
He was obviously pleased with himself.
"Good evening, and welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming! I'm your host, the ever-so charming magician and pleaser of all types of crowds, Dimentio!"
He bowed, the bells on his hat jingling.
"Unfortunately, I must inform you that my assistant for the evening is still not quite ready for his big debut. He'll be up soon, but until then…"
Dimentio shifted the camera, gliding offscreen.
"I actually have brought a live animal for tonight's show! They're a little hard to tame and keep under control, but I think I handled it well… especially with a dog. And one that's already dead, at that!"
Luigi felt his heart skip a beat.
"Now, trust me, folks. I did my best to do away with this miserable ghastly pup, but to no avail! I simply cannot kill a ghost, no matter how many tricks I've got up my sleeve… Oh, what a shame."
Dimentio then lifted up a picture frame, turning and showing it off to the camera excitedly.
Polterpup's familiar face, lowered and whimpering, was plastered on the painting. Paints and oils swirled sorrowfully to illustrate the picture of the unfortunate ghost dog. Luigi held back tears as he realized that was his loyal pet, locked within the confines of a painting prison, much like the one his elder brother had endured numerous times before.
"This is a little tribute to all my ghost-hunters in the audience this evening… Trapping ghosts in frames certainly is lovely, is it not?"
Luigi held back a sob as Dimentio tossed the frame aside lazily, throwing it somewhere offscreen without another care.
Dimentio turned his head, the bells on his hat jingling as the magenta smile on his face widened.
"Ah, it appears my assistant has finally awoken! Perfect timing, I must say! There is quite a bit of promise in this show tonight!"
Dimentio moved the camera once more, revealing Peasley groggily awakening. He was tied down to an ornate wooden armchair, blackened cords wrapped around his chest. His ankles and wrists were tied securely.
Immediately upon recognizing his surroundings and captor, Peasley began to fidget and struggle, trying to tear his limbs free.
"I wouldn't try that, if I were you." Dimentio wagged a finger, grinning. "You'll only tire yourself out, and my, your sad attempts at escape would be absolutely embarrassing for our audience at home to watch!"
"Ah, ah, ah! You already lost our game of hide-and-seek. T'was fair and square!" Dimentio chided playfully. "No more chances."
"I know your game, jester." Peasley lifted his head, glaring defiantly at Dimentio as he began circling him. "I know you want a reaction out of me. I refuse to break for your twisted show."
Dimentio stopped, facing away from Peasley.
His laughter, cold and chilling, rang out in the crackly audio of the tape. It was enough to send a shiver down Luigi's spine.
"Is that a challenge, then?"
Peasley didn't answer, pursing his lips as he tried his best to lean back and further away from Dimentio. Luigi could tell he was terrified.
The jester, meanwhile taking the stubborn silence as a sign to continue, fidgeted his thumbs before clapping his hands together. He continued forward, floating around Peasley as his sinister tone lowered.
"I have plenty in store for you, princey. But, the real fun comes from the anticipation! Oh, but where to begin?" Dimentio lifted his gloved hand to his chin, tapping his porcelain face as he mused aloud. "Now, let's see… I could pluck your eyes out and send them back home to your husband… I could break every bone in your body to dust… or maybe I could decorate your face in bruises and burns! It'd certainly be an improvement from what you have now…"
Peasley shivered, but still tried to maintain an defiant expression.
"Or perhaps I could tear you apart, limb…" Dimentio abruptly leaned forward, grabbing Peasley by his arms. "…by limb…"
The jester abruptly laughed, smiling as Peasley's eyes widened in horror.
"I'm sure you have many adoring fans who would just loooove to have a piece of you!"
"I-I'm not afraid of you. You don't scare me."
Dimentio scoffed, holding back laughter. "Oh, please. As much as you try to keep up that attitude, you're still clearly terrified. You must know you're absolutely helpless, like a wounded deer caught in between a pack of ravenous carnivores!"
Peasley glanced away, trying to avoid eye contact as he bit his lip, frowning.
"Ah, come on, princey!" Dimentio gripped Peasley's cheeks, trying to force his dull gaze up. "Smile! You're on camera, after all!"
Peasley huffed, narrowing his eyes.
"Why do you still scowl? This is an honor, after all, being onstage like this! It's demonstrating your love and admiration for your dearest husband." Dimentio laughed cruelly, now perusing some of his tools with a hum. Metal and steel clinked somewhere out of the camera's view. "I only gathered the closest of his friends, and a few who I had to, let's say, tie up some loose ends with!"
Dimentio's smile suddenly brightened, narrowed eyes widening jubilantly.
"A-ha! There's my favorite blade…"
Peasley attempted, to the best of his ability, to not make any signs of reaction to Dimentio's apparent macabre joy. He straightened his shoulders, glaring forward.
"You refuse to smile, then? Still angry and pouting, like a whiny toddler in timeout? So be it."
Dimentio raised a purple-ish tinted blade with a flourish, lights twinkling and faint glitter sparkling in his movements, now creeping toward Peasley with his masked grin twisting upward.
"I can fix that."
Peasley leaned back as Dimentio got closer, pressing the tip of the cold blade up against Peasley's cheek. He looked about ready to press down before suddenly stepping back, turning.
"I'd hate to make any unnecessary marks… so…"
Dimentio reached behind him, producing a small thin marker. He removed the cap upon it, quickly drawing thin lines over the sides of Peasley's mouth, smearing purple ink over his face.
He carefully drew on the curved lines meant to represent a smile. He grinned, pleased with his intial handiwork and guidelines before he reached back over to grab the same multicolored blade from before.
"Now, let's see if I can make this look nice… You have to sit still though. Wouldn't want to mess up your face anymore than I want to, hm?"
Peasley's already-terrified gaze widened more as he tried to pull out of the tight restraints wrapped around him, very noticeably shaking.
"Wait! Don't do this…!" He attempted before Dimentio suddenly grabbed his chin, lifting his head. "You'll regret this!"
"Quiet now. We wouldn't want to ruin your sole performance on the stage, now would we? Your only stage direction…"
Dimentio raised the blade, digging past Peasley's lips and tearing the sides of his mouth open, right along the lines he'd drawn.
"Is to scream…!"
Peasley attempted to grit his teeth, but Dimentio's agonizingly slow movements only served to hasten his desperate attempts at escape, his struggles getting more frantic. He glanced up, tears streaming down his face as he whimpered in pain, Dimentio continuing to carve a morbid smile on his face.
"Now, I'm quite sure your people would prefer you go out with a defiant smile, and not like some sobbing child who has lost their favorite toy…"
Peasley began to screech in pain, struggling and shrieking as Dimentio tore his mouth open. The cuts from the sides of his mouth, leading almost halfway up into his cheeks, bled profusely. Blue trickled down his face, coating his tunic.
Eventually, after several painful minutes of slicing a smile onto Peasley's face, Dimentio finished. He smiled, setting the blade aside.
"There we are. A permanent grin is much better than a mopey frown, wouldn't you agree?" Dimentio mocked with a high-pitched laugh.
Peasley glanced down in horror at himself, breathing hurriedly as he tried to maintain some sense of his composure.
"Hm… While it is an improvement, I think your smile could be a bit wider!" Dimentio turned around, digging through his tools, much to Peasley's apparent horror. "Give me a moment, won't you?"
"No, don't-! Stop!"
Peasley watched with a terrified gaze as Dimentio searched. The jester threw back an empty syringe during his search, Peasley immediately recognizing it from Dreambert's tape as it rolled across the floor.
Dimentio hummed absently as metal scrapped against metal, throwing aside knives and blades that had been previously used, stained with blood.
He made a soft exclamation of excitement, standing with a jubilant grin on his masked face. He waltzed back over to Peasley, kicking the syringe on the floor away with a snicker before lifting up a cleaver to the camera.
"Let's make that smile of yours just a little bit bigger, why don't we?" Dimentio chuckled, reaching forward to grab Peasley's left wrist.
Peasley's hurried breathing only grew hastier as Dimentio held down his fidgeting hand, looking at his fingers.
"My, my, what's this? What a pretty ring…"
Luigi clutched at his clammy hands at that statement, holding his shaking fingers over his own silver wedding band.
Peasley's terrified stare soon sharpened to a glare at Dimentio's comment regarding the golden wedding ring, breathing shakily as he stared at the maddened harlequin.
"You bastard." Peasley spat defiantly, not paying any mind to the blood trickling down his cheeks anymore. "You should be rotting in the Underwhere. Luigi never deserved any of this. You're a monster. And you'll never get what you want."
Dimentio's eyes flickered for a moment, his happy smile twisting into a frown.
He lifted the cleaver high and with a sound THWACK, Peasley's left hand was severed from his arm. It fell to the floor with a thud.
Peasley sat, petrified in horror for a moment, until he finally screeched. Blood poured from his open wound, coating the wood of the armchair and floor beneath him. His screaming refused to cease, the pain unbearable as his shrieks grew louder.
Dimentio's smile returned, watching in delight as Peasley tore his carved smile further. The cut almost led all the way up his face now, making his permanent smile bigger the more he howled and screeched in pain, muscles and skin tearing bit by bit.
"There it is! The perfect smile for the camera!"
Dimentio bent over, reaching to pick up Peasley's fallen hand. He giggled, waving it mockingly toward the camera's view. The jester laughed at Peasley's protesting and pleas for aid, removing the wedding ring from Peasley's left hand, examining the golden and emerald band.
"So, I suppose you're truly the best Luigi could do, then?" Dimentio chuckled, tossing Peasley's wedding ring aside and out of the camera's view. "Hilarious. Until death do you part, indeed…"
Peasley's screaming ceased, having fallen to pained sobs.
"I'm sure the audience at home is very pleased with the performance thus far! What do you think, princey?"
Peasley could barely respond, choking up clots of dark blue as they slipped down his sliced-up cheeks.
"Might as well get to the final trick, then. Wouldn't want you to bleed out, now would we?" Dimentio scoffed. "Can you imagine what a let-down that would be?"
"L-Lu… Luigi… I'm sor… s-sorry…"
"Hm? If you want a last few words, be sure to get them out." Dimentio returned to his tools, tossing a few aside as he searched for something. "Everyone you love will be seeing this… it's always fun to show off such a magical performance to as many people as possible!"
Dimentio snapped his fingers, turning back to Peasley.
"Here we are!" Dimentio lifted something, the soft shing of metal sounding. He lifted a familiar-looking rapier to the camera before showing it off to Peasley. "It's your sword! Hope you don't mind that I nabbed it back at the manor… I mean, I already had this idea from the start, but to use your own beloved tools against you? Ah, what a fun and ironic way to go!"
Luigi's chest ached, barely able to watch anymore. He felt the urge to throw up as he watched Peasley stare toward the camera, his face stained with dark blue blood.
Dimentio harshly yanked Peasley's head back by his hair, mismatched eyes staring right into the prince's terrified ones.
"It's time for our final trick."
Dimentio held Peasley's sword at his side, approaching the camera and standing with his hands raised dramatically. He grinned.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you for the first and very last time… Prince Peasley! The world-famous sword swallower!"
Dimentio burst into laughter as he turned around to watch as Peasley shook his head, eyes widening in petrified horror.
"The art of sword swallowing requires such precise skill to avoid injury…" Dimentio moved to stand behind Peasley, reaching to tear his mouth open. "Performers often have years of practice, but unfortunately, we don't have an eternity…"
Dimentio lifted Peasley's sword, positioning it over his head.
"The show must go on."
Without any further warning and despite Peasley's desperate screams for mercy, Dimentio stabbed the sword straight through his mouth. He forced it down his throat, slicing through his internal organs without a care.
Peasley fidgeted, the rest of his body writhing and his eyes horrifically wide as tears streamed down his disfigured face. His fingers twitched and his legs trembled as the sword was driven deeper.
And it didn't take long before his body ceased all movement, his wide eyes glazing over.
Peasley was gone.
Dimentio stepped back, leaving the sword plunged through the prince.
"And with our assistant's departure, that concludes this evening's show!" He tried to wipe some of the blood from his mask, smiling. "Be sure to tune in for our finale, coming quite soon…" Dimentio's tone, laced with poisonous contempt and amusement, lowered ominously. "It's going to be a show-stopper. And it will require a bit of… audience participation…!"
He left the camera's view on Peasley's corpse as the jester teleported out of sight.
The tape shut off as Dimentio laughed once more, the single sound the only accompaniment to Luigi's pained sobs.
He was just left to stare at his own pathetic reflection against the empty screen.
Luigi stood instinctively, rushing out of the room. He bounded up the stairs and to the second floor hall, rushing up into the attic from there.
There was nothing left. Dimentio was going to take everything from him. He didn't want to live to see the finale.
He passed by a collection of rope gathered in the corner, facing toward the windows within the attic. He kicked away some of the rotting wooden boards and glass, pulling himself outside and up onto the roof of the manor. He crawled outside over the shingles, shakily standing up as he made his way to the edge of the roof.
He stared down at the ground below, exhaling. He shivered from the cold air of the darkened evening, quivering as a few last tears slipped down his paled cheeks.
He inhaled, and then shut his eyes.
Luigi let his body weight fall forward, letting go.
And he fell.
"Just where do you think you're going?"
Luigi's stomach dropped as he was suddenly grabbed at the wrist, being pulled back on top of the roof. Harshly thrown back to safety, he whimpered and winced as he stared up at who saved him, wanting to scream at them for ruining his attempt.
He froze, instead, his breath hitching in his throat.
Dimentio stood proudly right before him, smiling.
"Why, dear man in green… The show isn't over yet…"