I surveyed the fifth area ahead of us getting and idea of how long it would take us to get through; the sun was in the middle of the sky giving us the rest of the afternoon to travel and if we moved fast enough we might be able to make it to the sixth area by sundown. I turned behind me to see Glitch swinging his ax around, excited by idea of facing me, I had to guess, and increasing his speed with each swing. He seemed to have this unique style of fighting that increased his swing speed by using the momentum of his last swing till he was a blur of ax swings; it was really cool actually. I looked over at Alice to see she was avoiding eye contact with me and fussing with her combat skirt whenever she looked away; if she wore pants this wouldn’t happen and yet saying that would get me killed.
I gathered them up and laid out the plan I had to minimize time wasted.
“That’s hoping that nothing attacks us on the way there; we seem to have a track record for encountering creatures that want us dead.” Alice was right; with our luck we were going to run into something but the question would be what we would run into.
“Could it be another piranha plant?” Glitch questioned.
“I think we took out the main head last time which means we can’t take on anything bigger than that.” I pointed out. They nodded in agreement but that still left the question of what would be thrown at us here, “Guess that’ll be a surprise.” I stood back up as they did the same and we moved to make our way across the first part of this path. As we moved I noticed this area seemed to be covered in horsetail plants and murky water; horsetail plants are normally in murky water but something seemed wrong about this with both the plant and the water. I decided to ignore that feeling as we dashed across the bricked floor, kicking goombas to the side and hopping over the koopa troopas; the piranha plants were missing from the pipes which gave me the impression that the big one we killed was the main root to the rest of them.
“Soren! To your left!” Alice yelled back at me prompting me to look to my left to see a koopa troopa trying to deck me with his weird human like fist; I pulled to the right and swung my leg knocking him to the ground. The enemies were becoming more aggressive as we reached the end castle which I understood, we were obviously a threat to them and the closer we got to their commander the more of a hazard we became. As Alice and Glitch caught up to me we increased our pace to dodge any oncoming attacks; I was not going to kill anyone with a sentient mind, if they had a reason to live then they deserved to and I was not going to break that rule. These guys were making it harder to actually keep that with how malicious they came at us…but why? Spike told us that they wanted no casualties which means that these guys should be trying to capture us instead of kill us; I stopped for a minute and took a deep breath, “Soren, come on!” I heard Alice call to me but I couldn’t respond. I had to focus on this, let’s hope my father’s aura sensing lessons can come into play here.
There it is! I felt a powerful aura over the area, it felt malicious and as I looked around I could feel it emanating from every goomba, koopa and even the bullet bills in the area.
“Stay focused guys! These troops are more hostile, keep your defenses up!” Alice pulled out her katana getting into a guarded stance.
“What do you mean? I don’t see anything different.” Glitch said confused. He couldn’t feel it and I’m guessing Alice couldn’t either but I could. It wasn’t just any aura either; it seemed to emanate from all over, not from one point but multiple points and it was affecting the troops in a strange way. Alice was trusting my judgment on this matter but Glitch still had grounds to question it. Suddenly I saw as a para-troopa popped up behind Glitch brandishing a knife. I rushed forward and punched the creature in its shell with enough force to send it backwards.
“Those shells are WAYYYY too hard!” I said as I shook my hand from the intense pain, it was like punching two layers a cinderblocks…hell, even one layer of cinderblocks is too much. I turned to Glitch who gave me a shocked look and then nodded shakily pulling his ax out. He had reason to trust me on this matter now.
We moved slower now as things continued to come at us with a murderous intent but we eventually made it to the flag pole and took a well-deserved rest from the constant barrage we just pulled through.
“Looks…like... we made it” Alice said shakily as she bent down with her hands on her knees.
“That…was not…fun.” Glitch said falling to the floor worn from the constant blocks and retaliations, “The group…just kept getting bigger.”
“We couldn’t kill them…so they kept coming at us with more force…each time.” I explained trying to catch my breath. That defense tactic had almost worn me out; I had been on a mile run before for school but that felt like five of those and then half a lap after that. They had eaten up a lot of our time but there was still some light left in the day we could use; maybe we could get the next area but then we would be traveling into the night. Alice and I never traveled at night before and I don’t think Glitch would be up to it either. What was that aura or can I even call it that? It wasn’t anything normal I’d felt before, it had this ability to control others with its presence and I’ve never seen an aura do that ever. An aura is created by a person or thing and can only affect the feeling of an area, not the people in it, this seemed to not only exert around the area but effect the people in it as well; it didn’t even come from a person or item, rather, it bounced around the whole area from different points which seemed impossible…until now.
“They were way more aggressive than I thought they would be.” Glitch said as he had regained his energy; Alice stood up taking a deep breath and steadying her breathing.
“Well they set us back a bit, so what now?” Well, now was a good a time as ever.
“We could keep moving?” They gave me a quizzical look.
“We’ll be traveling into the night you know.” Alice pointed out.
“I know but we can’t waste any time with the other group possibly on our tail.”
“I’m up for it.” Glitch responded surprising even me.
“The dark is my bread and butter back home; I could probably keep us safe if I lead.”
“Are you sure you’re good in the dark?” Alice asked in her usual skeptical nature.
“I’m the best in this group, have either of you ever-”
“Okay.” I replied before he could finish stopping him mid-scentence.
“R-Really? Don’t you want proof?”
“No, I trust you can lead us at night.” He gave me a weird look and then a smile, Alice put her head into her hand shaking her head in the process.
“All right then, follow me!” He started walking forward like a soldier with his arms extended and his legs straight, it was kind of funny how excited he was.
“Sometimes I feel like you’re just acting stupid to piss me off.” Alice said with a sigh.
“You know why I’m doing this though right?”
“…yeah.” She gave me a smile and started following Glitch; Alice may not like the choices I make but she was at least smart enough to follow. I could understand why she was skeptical of Glitch though; he was hard headed and a little bit selfish but if I looked down on that then it would just be me and her. Besides, a little arrogance is a good thing in a group dynamic in my opinion.
We started moving with Glitch leading us and it was a bit rocky as following him meant we moved slightly slower, I guess I never noticed because he was in the back but that ax really slowed him down and he seemed intent to dash through this place. I always stayed at a steady pace to keep guard on whatever might attack us but Glitch seemed to disregard the enemies and just plow through the front lines. About halfway through the area the sun had sunk into the mountains and the dark of night had covered the area in front of us; Glitch suddenly slowed down and started to move slower and even stopping at some points before he gets moving again. He seemed to be able to pick up sounds we couldn’t hear and whenever he heard something he stopped suddenly, it was like following a secret agent as he sneaked through a government compound. Eventually we made it to the second flag and Glitch and I went to work as we swapped out the two flags; Glitch seemed to be quieter than before as he did this, it was like when night fell Glitch turned into a silent ninja, it was awesome!
“That should take care of that.” Glitch said dusting himself off for some reason.
“I’ll admit you seem to know your way through the dark of night.” Alice complimented, “You’re not secretly a thief back in your world are you?”
“No! I just like to observe the night sky. It isn’t easy to get out of where I live so I have to be quiet and alert to actually get out and see the stars in the sky.” So he was an avid night time watcher, that’s kind of deep.
“That’s actually kind of cool.” I said actually impressed by his constant training for something he liked.
“You like the night sky?” Alice asked curious.
“Are you kidding? It’s amazing, I look to the sky and I see stars that have planets that orbit them; planets full of people and places completely new and fresh that are just waiting to be seen, I want to see everything that I can beyond my planet, there has to be more out there for me.” Glitch snapped out of his monologue and gave a small cough as he turned slightly pinker out of embarrassment, “Sorry, I rambled on there for a minute.”
“No, it’s actually cool.” Alice replied catching Glitch’s attention, “I really respect someone with aspirations and dreams.” Alice walked away from him leaving him stunned. He just stood there with a look of surprise on his face; I chuckled slightly as Alice approached me.
“I thought you didn’t like him?”
“Shut up.” Alice replied with a smile as she playfully punched me in the arm.
Coming to a unanimous decision we decided to test our luck and continued moving through the next section; as we passed by the troops we noticed that they seemed to have passed out for the night making them easier and harder to pass by. We had to make sure to move quieter and watch our step to avoid waking any of them; it’s like the saying, anger a bee and you get the hive. Even the bullet bills seemed to be sleeping…however that was possible and jumping from platform to platform made things even more hazardous. If the platform was hit to hard when we landed then we could wake something from its slumber; Glitch accounted for this by only going for upper platforms so we would land softly when we ascended then descended to the ground a few inches from our jump level and we helped each other down platforms to avoid making any noise. I was actually really surprised by Glitch’s ability to travel quietly and impressed by his thorough thought process in traveling at night; it was a unique skill that I admired the more I saw of it. He could probably be a special ops soldier with a bit more training. We made it to the flag pole soon after and decided to set up camp for the night; I pulled out the sleeping bags as Glitch set the fire pit and Alice prepared our meal for the night. After our meal and a some light chatter we turned in for the rest of the night to re-energize; I felt lucky that the cloaked boss hadn’t made an appearance yet but I had a feeling that as soon a dawn broke he would be back on his mission of destroying every one of Bowser’s generals, luckily we had warned one of them so far and if he was smart then he would hide from them and stay alive, we had an ace up our sleeve which meant we had the upper hand and he couldn’t take that away. With that thought in my head I drifted into slumber content with what the future would hold.