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Dancing for the Music Keys

Chapter Text

In the land of the Mushroom Kingdom, there was a large building known as the Truffle Towers. Truffle Towers had once been home to one of the more adventurous Toads in the kingdom, who was once entrusted with caring for the mystical items known as the Music Keys. The building was actually owned by a certain Lakitu. The Lakitu had several shops throughout the kingdom, but he had been allowing Toad to rent the Towers. However, Toad had been having more and more trouble keeping up with the rent, and Lakitu had decided it wasn't worth the trouble to continue renting the place out. He kicked Toad out and became the caretaker of the Music Keys. He put little effort into that, though, knowing that Toad would take care of things if anything happened.

(Not long after he was kicked out of Truffle Towers, Toad finally came out of the closet, but that is another tale for another day.)

The point of focus today is not on the caretakers of the Towers, however, but on the Towers themselves.

Our story begins just outside, where a mysterious character in silhouette was planning their entrance into the building. They paced by the door, trying to figure out how to get in, until it occured to them to just try opening the front door. It was a stupid plan, that'd just be too easy. But it was worth a try, and they surprised to find that the doors were actually unlocked.

The character pushed the doors open and entered the building. Next, they'd have to find out where the Music Keys' location, but that turned out to be just as easy. There were only a few doors to choose them, and one had a large, neon sign above it announcing that that was the room the Music Keys were in.

"This is just too easy..." they mumbled. "It's like they're begging me to take them!"

Walking into the room confirmed that the sign was correct -- this was the room the Music Keys were. Success within their reach, the mysterious person began to laugh.

"Wahahaha! At last I've found them! The Music Keys: the bearers of the power of music!" they exclaimed. "I'll release the music from the keys and use their power to flood the world with chaos!" The person walked up to the keys and picked them up, now holding all four in his arms. "And then...I'll hypnotize the rhythmless masses with my moves, and the world will belong to me!"

With another laugh, they spun around in a circle and struck a pose, reminding themself how powerful their dance moves were. Unfortunately, in the process, they also dropped three of the four Music Keys. The keys rolled away from them until they eventually fell out the window. This was...an unexpected hitch in their plans, to say the least. The character froze with surprise for a moment, before just laughing it off.

"That's fine. Even with just one Music Key, I'll have more than enough power to carry out my plans. No one will be able to stop me now!"

Meanwhile, some ways away from the Towers, the homeless (and homo) Toad saw the three Music Keys rolling away. Before he could wonder what that was about, power began to visibly surge from the fourth, strong enough that it seemed to defy science and allowed him to see this through the building. As the previous caretaker of the keys, Toad fancied himself to be an expert. He could tell right away that someone was releasing the music from the keys. He also recognized that this situation was bigger than he could handle alone.

"We gotta do something before chaos spreads," Toad told himself, already thinking. "Oh, I know! If I can get his help, there might still be hope for this world. I just hope I can get to him quick enough!"

Without another word, Toad turned around and ran as fast as his stubby little legs would take him to the one person who could help him fix this.
---

"Luigi! We've got a problem here!"

Toad's grating void distracted Luigi from the meal he was currently baking. Though it was a bit small, he was glad to have his own house away from his brother. It was a step towards the independence that he longed for, to step out of his brother's shadow. They'd all know his name some day, but for now, this would do.

Hearing Toad's voice, Luigi quickly turned off the oven and ran outside, making sure to remember the recipe he was using. Toad was just outside his house, out of breath. Luigi wondered what could be wrong this time. He'd seen Toad overreact over situations to Mario before, and, well... It was weird that he hadn't gone to Mario instead.

"It's terrible! Somebody stole the Music Keys!"

Yeah, sounded like Toad was overreacting. Or, he probably was. Luigi had no idea what those were. His confusion was clear on his face.

Toad groaned. "You know, the Music Keys! The spheres that hold the power of music! We had them locked in Truffle Towers for safekeeping, but someone broke in and took them! And they released the power of music, too!"

Now Luigi was even more confused. That didn't sound like a bad thing at all, unless you hated music. Toad didn't seem like a music hater, but if the keys were stolen, then they probably needed to find them. The stealing part at least wasn't good.

"You can hear the music if you're quiet," Toad told him, but that didn't help at all. He was already being quiet, but Toad was far too loud for him to hear anything else. "I catch myself dancing to the music sometimes... It's creepy, but also kind of fun!"

"Didn't this just-a happen? There hasn't been-a time for you to-a dance at all," Luigi pointed out.

"A lot can happen in the five minutes it takes to get to your house. You really should live closer to everyone else, like Mario does. I would've gone to him, but he's off on some other adventure. Something about a bunch of stars or something."

"I like my privacy!"

"Look, we just need to get the keys back. If you don't find them, we'll all be doing this dorky dance forever." Toad pointed at Luigi, who looked down to see that now he was dancing, too. And these dance moves weren't even good. "Oh yeah, and chaos and discord will rain down on the Mushroom Kingdom and maybe destroy us all."

"...Wha--"

"Let's go to Truffle Towers!" Toad interrupted. "I know I can count on you, Luigi."

Luigi sighed and followed Toad back to Truffle Towers. Might as well get this over with.

---

The pair walked for about thirty seconds before they came across an obstacle. The river that Toad had crossed to get to Luigi's house was now flooded, leaving them with no way to get across.

"We can't cross the river like this," Toad said, pointing out the obvious. "This must be because of the music's power. Now what will we... I know! There's an old rhyme about the Music Keys! 'When the keys make you shake your thing, magic things start happening'! Something magic might happen if we dance, and we might be able to cross!"

The look Luigi gave Toad was almost indescribable. Toad must've gone insane. It was the only explanation he could think of.

"Luigi, you have to dance, I'm serious! It's our only hope," Toad insisted.

Of all the adventures he could've gotten into with Mario out, it had to be this one.

Luigi began to dance, Toad joining him shortly after he started. The two danced a jig together, Luigi getting more into it the longer they danced. It helped that there was music all around them from the keys, it was easy to hear now. The two danced for about a minute until a boat suddenly rose from the water. They jumped in, too busy dancing to really question it, and continued their dance. The boat seemed to be running on the power of music; the more they danced, the closer it got to the other side of the river. Soon they had reached the other side, and happily got out onto dry land.

"Can I call you a dancing ma--" Luigi cut Toad off with an irritated look, and the duo set off without another word.

A few mishaps later, they were able to climb up a large plant, which served as a shortcut to their destination. The plant probably hadn't been there when Toad had originally set off, but no doubt it grew and was able to help them up because of the power of the music. The Towers were finally in front of them, victory seeming to be in their reach.

"Here we are! Truffle Towers!" Toad announced. "Let's get in there and settle this."

Luigi nodded and stepped up to the door. He reached out to open it, but it wouldn't budge. Even pulling with both hands and using all his strength made no difference. He gave up after a few seconds and turned back to his companion.

"It's locked," he told him. "This is-a your place, right? Don't you have the key?"

"Oh, uh, funny story..." the both hobo and homo Toad laughed. He looked again, finding it hard to continue. "See, I... I couldn't keep up with the rent, so I, um, I got kicked out. This is my landlord's place now. He's got the key."

Luigi facepalmed and sighed. "You... Okay, this-a shouldn't take too long. Let's-a just find the guy, and--"

"I have a surprise for you!"

A voice inside Truffle Towers interrupted the conversation. Luigi could've sworn he heard that voice before, but he couldn't place it at that moment. He didn't have much time to think about that, though. A bomb flew out of one of the building's windows and blew up next to them, blasting them away from the place. The stranger then jumped out of the Towers and began dancing in front of the front doors.

"I, Waluigi, claim this Music Key in the name of...um...Waluigi!" they shouted. Indeed, it was Waluigi. No one could mistake that purple hat or his mustache. "With this key, I'll be the best dancer in the world! Wahahaha!"

Luigi seriously doubted that. Not even music had enough power to make Waluigi that good. But he didn't have much time to think about that, either. As soon as Waluigi finished, he hit the ground, landing in front of some sort of...item shop.

Toad, who had landed a few feet away, jumped up when he saw where they were. "Oh, this place! This is my landlord's shop. He's probably in here right now. Come on!"

They found a Lakitu inside, who only appeared to be selling three items. This didn't seem to be a smart business move, but he didn't really want to judge.

"Welcome to Cloud 9," Lakitu welcomed them with a smile. "Feel free to browse!" Luigi was ready to do just that, but Toad's next words stopped him.

"Hey, Lakitu...you've got the key to Truffle Towers over in that corner, right?"

"I sure do! It's a beaut, isn't it?" Lakitu's attitude changed as soon as he realized who was asking about the key. "But it's not for sale, not to you." He then turned to Luigi, smile back on his face. "But as for this young man, I'll let him borrow it if he does me a favor. I have a nice garden behind this shop, but a group of punk Koopa kids keep playing around in it, acting like it's their playground! You can have the key if you get rid of them."

Punk Koopa kids? That sounded familiar.

Luigi nodded and immediately ran out back, to find...a different group of Koopa kids than he was expecting. These were just ordinary Koopa Troopas. But they were still making a mess of the place-- jumping around the carrots, kicking up dirt, and causing trouble. Why Lakitu wasn't out here right now trying to chase them out was a mystery to Luigi, but there was one thing he knew. This was a problem...that could only be solved through the power of dance.

By now, Luigi was much more accustomed to the music around them, and dancing along to it had gotten a lot easier. Running into the middle of the garden and broke into a dance was less awkward than before, and he found himself starting to really appreciate the power of music. The more he got into his dance, the more powerful the music got, and soon the Koopa kids were dancing with him. It wasn't getting rid of them at all (in fact, they seemed much more likely to stay now), but Luigi wasn't bothered by this. He trusted the music.

As soon as the dance ended, the Koopa kids just...vanished. No one knew where they went, though no one really seemed to mind, either.

"Your moves were killer, Luigi!" Lakitu grinned as he floated out back to check out the unpopulated garden. "Those shells will think twice next time they try messing with my carrots!"

"Uh, right..." Luigi didn't want to point out that they only disappeared after the dance ended. His dancing might not have done anything at all.

Lakitu handed Luigi a giant key. "Anyway, like I promised. Here's the key to Truffle Towers! Just make sure you bring it back when you're done, alright? And don't let that Toad touch the key, either. He still owes me."

"You did it! Let's go to Truffle Towers. Now." Toad, not wanting to stay any longer, grabbed Luigi by the arm and dragged him away before he could respond. And the two were back on their way to Truffle Towers.

And Truffle Towers wasn't that far off. By jumping on some of Lakitu's carrots, Luigi was able to get himself and Toad there almost immediately. Sure, Lakitu didn't seem thrilled that someone was jumping on his carrots again. It saved time though, and time was everything in this situation. Now back at Truffle Towers, the two used the key to open the door.

"You have to do everything you can to get the Music Key back from Waluigi," Toad told him as they went inside.

It was good to know that Toad was going to try his best to help him get it back.

Waluigi wasn't far from the door, standing in front of a large staircase. He was making erratic movements, which were....probably supposed to be some kind of dance. Thankfully, he stopped as Luigi and Toad approached him.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded, glaring at them both. "This is a private dance party!"

"Give us back the Music Key!" Toad shouted.

Ah, yes. Thank you, Toad. That was very helpful. Luigi was glad to know he had his back.

"You think I'd give it up that easily? Wahaha!" Waluigi laughed. "If you want it back, you'll have to face me...in a dance-off! I'll only give it back if you defeat me, but we know that'll never happen! Waha!"

The dance-off was...in a word, it was hot. Probably because of all the bombs around and the podobos that danced with them. Nobody really knew where they came from, but no one was really going to question it at this point. Luigi's dance moves were truly a sight to behold. If only we could see them now. As for Waluigi's dance moves...well, he tried at least, and that's what mattered.

Only Waluigi was really surprised when Luigi won the dance-off. Everyone else knew exactly how this would play out. Luigi and Toad grabbed the Music Key while Waluigi was distracted over his loss and rushed outside. The duo celebrated for a moment, rejoicing in their victory, until the small homo Toad spoke up.

"Oh, uh, Luigi... I don't know how to tell you this, but...this is just the beginning of the adventure. There's four Music Keys total. We only have one, and I'm not really sure where the rest are."

Luigi paused in his celebration, his face completely blank. He stood still for a moment, until this completely registered. He grabbed Toad by his blue vest. "What are you-a talking about?!"

"Well, you see, um, there's four Music Keys! They've, uh, been in Truffle Towers for awhile to, you know, keep them safe!" Toad stammered. "I used to live there to keep an eye on them, but uh, I couldn't pay rent, and Lakitu kept raising it, and I, um, got kicked out." He paused to take a deep breath. "The other three aren't here. I saw the music get released from them as well, so they must be out there somewhere! The Music Keys all scatter when they're used. They could be anywhere. But we have to get them back, to restore order to the Mushroom Kingdom!"

"...You've-a got to be kidding me."

"Please, Luigi! You're our only help, everyone's depending on you."

The keys had never been his responsibility. They only were now because Mario was busy on some other adventure. And he had to admit, this was a bit ridiculous. Getting one key had been enough trouble, and there were still three more to go. Luigi wasn't sure much more he could take, he'd danced himself to exhaustion already.

But then again, this was his big chance. No one in the Mushroom Kingdom really knew his name or much about him (he was surprised Toad knew of him this well). The only claim to fame he really had was being Mario's brother. Well, and the time he used a compass to travel several continents and save a princess (but if Mario didn't believe that story, no one would). This was finally his chance to do something. Save the kingdom, get his name out there, become famous like his brother. A chance like this wasn't likely to come again any time soon.

Besides, he'd already experienced the power of music for himself. And that power had just been from the stray music; surely the keys were even stronger. With power like that, there was no telling what he could do...

Like getting a bigger house. The one he had now was barely big enough for him.

Luigi nodded. This was definitely the right choice. He could finally do some good for the world.

"Great! Well, I've already got the SS Brass ready to go whenever you're ready! We'll find the Music Keys in no time!"

Luigi was not prepared for the sight that was waiting for him.

Above the two of them was what appeared to be a giant airship. It was flying in the air, but seemed to lack anything that could be used to make it fly. Instead of engines, it had brass instruments, and it looked like it ran on the power of music. The abilities music held in the Mushroom Kingdom would never cease to amaze him.

The two jumped onto the ship, brought down the sail, and flew off into the next area of the Mushroom Kingdom: World 2. (Someone really wasn't good with names.)

Chapter Text

Unfortunately, the journey wasn't smooth sailing for long. As soon as the SS Brass entered World 2, a cyclone blocked their path.

"The cyclone's going to eat us for breakfast!" Toad's ability to point out the obvious resurfaced. "Luigi, do something!"

Before Luigi was able to do anything, the cyclone swalloweed them up and spat them back out. The ship's momentum had it continue to move in a circular path as it crashed towards a hotel. The hotel defied the laws of science as the ship spun around it a few times, physically distorting into a spiral itself. The ship finally crash landed, and Luigi and Toad fell out and landed in front of the hotel.

"What have you done to my hotel?!" a voice demanded. Luigi turned to see Toadette burst out of the hotel they had just ruined. "I paid some Koopas a lot of money for this place, and now it looks like some kind of screw! No one wants to vacation in a corkscrew, so fix it!"

"Repairs would take awhile, and, uh...I'm sure we can fix this with dancing." Toad leaned in close to Luigi, now whispering. "You can take care of this, Luigi. I'm too gay for this shit." He then ran off towards the SS Brass, preparing to fix that instead.

Knowing there was no escape from this, Luigi began to dance in front of Toadette. He made sure to add some pins and jumps into his dance as well to make it more enjoyable. As he moved to the music all around them, something magical began to happen to the hotel. It wasn't visible at first, but as soon as Luigi was finished, the hotel sprung back into its normal shape. It was as good as new.

"It looks as good as new!" Toadette, being a Toad herself, seemed to have the same ability as Toad. "See? That didn't take long!"

Luigi shrugged. Toad was the one who had ran off, he didn't really mind fixing Toadette's hotel. Much.

"Anyway, I saw something falling in the direction of the sea. You're Mario's brother, right? That means you're probably on some quest to find it or something. The sea's really dangerous, but I'm sure you'll find a way. You brothers are really good at that sort of thing, right?"

Luigi nodded and ran off towards the SS Brass to find Toad. They had a clue about the second Music Key, and the sooner they found it, the better.

With this news in mind, the party quickly got the SS Brass into the water and started sailing. The majority of World 2 was made up of water. Toadette's hotel was on the biggest island in the area (which really wasn't saying much), and there were a few smaller islands populating the place, but the rest of it was dominated by the sea. Searching for the key would take a long time if it went underwater, and they weren't sure if they could even go underwater to get it in the first place. The situation was hopeless, if not completely impossible.

"If it's way down there, I don't know if we'll ever find it..." Toad, voicing the obvious once more, sighed as he looked over the ship's edge into the water. "I can't even s--"

Whatever complaint Toad was about to make was interrupted, as a whirlpool began to spontaneously form underneath the ship. It started small, but grew bigger fast. Pretty soon, they were completely surrounded by the whirlpool. It spun their ship around in the sea, swirling faster and faster, throwing them into chaos.

"Whirlpools and cyclones? This is awful luck," Toad groaned.

"Or maybe it's-a just the Music Key throwing the-a world into chaos," Luigi added, remembering how Toad mentioned before that releasing the music would rain discord down on the world.

"Let's go to that island, quick!" Toad pointed at the first island he saw. Luigi saw what direction Toad was trying to suggest and steered towards it, out of the whirlpool. Once he started trying, he didn't have any difficulty at all, and both they and the ship were unharmed. They stopped at a small island, which just had a shop on it.

Toad was horrified as soon as he saw the shop. "Oh, no... I know where we are. This shop has something that'll help us, but it'll be tough to get. You'll have to be the one to get it, too, since they won't sell anything to me."

"This is just-a great," said Luigi.

The duo entered the shop to see no one other than Lakitu. It was, of course, the same Lakitu they had met in World 1, Toad's previous landlord who gave them the key and owned Truffle Towers. Luigi had figured they'd seen the last of him before, but it was now clear that Lakitu would probably own every shop they came across during their journey. This would've been convenient if he wasn't on such bad terms with Toad.

"Welcome to Pirate's Plumber, aho-- You two again?" Lakitu rolled his eyes. "Ever since you two showed up at me other store, no one's been coming in. It's bad for business, you know. I don't care whether it's you both or the music causing it, but you better fix this."

Toad laughed nerously. "Uh, right... Lakitu? Do you still have that part for the SS Brass I gave you?"

"You mean this thing?" Lakitu gestured to an object in the back corner of the shop, gathering up dust. "Yeah. Haven't done much with it, though. Seems to only work with that ship of yours. Don't tell me you want it back, with all the rent you still owe me?"

"You gave him a part for the SS Brass?" Luigi mumbled to Toad.

"I had to pay my rent somehow!" Toad whispered back. "Protecting the Music Keys doesn't pay a lot, and I ended up getting evicted anyway... but it gave me a home for another month, at least.

"Of course not! Wouldn't dream of asking you for anything more," he said more loudly to Lakitu. "But my friend here... I've been letting him use the SS Brass, and that part would really help him out a lot. However you want him to pay for it, I'm sure he can..."

"You friend, huh?" Lakitu turned to Luigi. "I'll let you have it, matey, but on one condition. You'll have to beat me in a fishing contest first. I may not look like much now, but in me prime I was a great angler. Had me a job fishing racers out of water at various go kart races. Me nephew's got the job now, but I haven't lost me touch.

Luigi nodded. He doubted Lakitu was aware, but he wasn't bad at fishing himself. He mostly ever did it at party games his bro would throw for friends, but those games gave him lots of practice. These days, he'd out-fish the others quite often. He was pretty confident in his abilities.

"Ay, lad. There's a good fishing spot out back of me shop. We'll do it out there. Whoever catches the most fish wins."

The three of them headed out behind Lakitu's shop. Lakitu procured two fishing rods, and the competition began.

The fishing contest... well, it wasn't the most exciting thing in the world. The power of music gave them something to listen to for the duration, but there was actually no dancing required. It was almost ridiculous for the adventure. Dancing was all about moving, but fishing was about being still and patient. And patient they had to be. It soon changed from catching the most fish to the first to catch a fish at all. Luigi, however, decided to take what he could get, and was glad for a break from all the crazy moves he had to do in his dances.

Several hours passed before Luigi felt a bite on his line. He started reeling in and leaned back, not letting the fish pull him in. They struggled against each other for awhile, neither wanting to give the other an inch, until Luigi finally brought a huge cheep cheep on land.

"Wow, matey....I guess ye've bested me. You can take the boat part. It's not doing me any good here anyway." Lakitu sighed and took off his pirate hat. "I'll be closing up then, it's way past time for it."

Luigi and Toad nodded and ran back inside. They grabbed the boat part and loaded it onto the SS Brass. Carefully, they worked on installing it until it was perfectly in place.

"Great! Now we can go after that Music Key," Toad said. "This part allows the SS Brass to transform into a submarine, so we can go underwater for it, no problem!"

The duo set sail towards the whirlpool and stopped just before reaching it. Using the boat's new part, they transformed it into a submarine and dove underwater.

"We're almost to the Music Key! Just follow the music, Luigi. It'll guide us right to it."

Toad was busy keeping an eye on the newly installed part, which left Luigi to steer the submarine by himself. He kept his hands firmly on the ship's wheel and took it directly where the music told him to go. Steering underwater by himself like that got boring quickly, however, so Luigi decided to take Toad's advice literally. Letting go of the wheel was risky, but he'd need his arms to dance, too. Rather than steering directly, he danced all around the submarine, breaking out his best moves. Miraculously, it kept going exactly where he wanted it to, even steering better now than it had been before. Music was really weird, but Luigi was far from complaining at this point.

It wasn't too long before they arrived at a palace underneath the sea. The music told him the key was just inside, so Luigi took them right into it. There was plenty of air and space to walk inside, so they exited the submarine. The Music Key sat in front of them. It was on a pedestal, practically handing itself over on a silver platter.

"There it is! The Music Key!" exclaimed Toad.

"Something's not-a right...." Luigi mumbled.

This observation proved true, as the palace around them immediately began shaking. A giant Blooper burst into the palace from above, creating a hole in the ceiling. Slowly, the palace began filling up with water.

"BLOOPER!" Toad screamed as the Blooper landed in front of them. Luigi looked over at him. "What? I can't help it, I'm a Paper Mario fan."

Luigi couldn't understand the Blooper, but it was clear he wasn't getting the Music Key without a fight. He'd have to beat it in a dancing competition, and fast. There was only way to do this in time: he'd have to play a little dirty.

"He's got a lot more legs, Luigi, Toad warned him. "I'm not sure if dancing will work this time."

That statement was completely false, obviously. Luigi knew by now that dancing would be able to solve all of his problems. This was no exception.

He immediately began busting his moves around the watery palace, doing the best dance he could possibly do. Blooper's extra legs, of course, gave it a huge advantage. Its dance moves were just as good, if not better. But Luigi refused to give up. His plan could still work, if he was able to pull it off.

At every opportunity possible, Luigi danced closer to the Blooper and attempted to step on its tentacles. Those were few and far between, since it was suspicious whenever he got closer, but whenever the plan worked, it was very effective. Even with its extra tentacles, stepping on just one damaged Blooper's rhythm and style. It was soon clear it had no chance of beating his tactics.

Blooper wasn't just out-danced, it was obliterated. Exhausted and defeated, it sank to the bottom of the water still filling the palace. Luigi and Toad were completely underwater by now. Thankfully, they were safe because of the power of music, though they had their doubts it would last.

Toad swam forward to grab the Music Key. He signaled to Luigi and the two went back to the submarine, with the key in his hands. Once on board, Toad took a deep breath before praising his companion.

"We got it! Now there's only two more Music Keys. I don't know where you learned those amazing moves, but you're a real pro to beat someone with that many legs!" Toad handed the key to Luigi and ran to the ship's wheel. "There's no time to waste, we gotta find the next one!"

Luigi peered down at the Music Key in his hands. He was pretty lucky for defeating that Blooper... that, or he had the power of music on his side. And he never failed to be amazed at that power. Waluigi wanted it to become a great dancer, and only used one key to try to achieve that... who was to say what all four keys could do? It was a power greater than he could imagine, for sure. If they got all four... perhaps they could grant one of Luigi's wishes as well.

It sure was a lot to think about.

He smiled darkly as he placed it with the other one. The whole quest had been a nuisance at first, but maybe he could get something out of it after all.

Chapter Text

Now with half of the music keys in their hands, Toad and Luigi moved on to the next area of the Mushroom Kingdom. This place looked a lot like an...amusement park? Luigi had travelled around the kingdom a few times, and he definitely didn't remember anything looking like this. Toad informed him they were at World 3, but he had his doubts. This wasn't the World 3 he remembered.

Then again...The different 'worlds' of the Mushroom Kingdom seemed different every time he adventured through them, so he supposed it was possible. He was glad World 1 never changed this much.

The SS Brass landed at a small port at the edge of the area. Luigi and Toad stepped off. They were prepared to enter through the gate and start looking, but two Hammer Bros jumped out, blocking the way.

"We're the keepers of the gate!" they announced. "You'll have to dance past us to get through!"

"My legs are too stubby! You'll have to beat them, Luigi!" Toad turned around and ran back towards the ship. "You're way better at dancing anyway. I'm sure you'll be fine!"

Luigi turned his head to glare back at Toad for a second, then the dance-off began. It was short, and rather uneventful. Luigi defeated them with no trouble at all.

Once it was clear Luigi was the victor, Toad left the SS Brass once more. Together, the two entered through the gate and looked around World 3. It was full of all sorts of attractions; a ferris wheel, a haunted house, some shops... The main attraction appeared to be a giant roller coaster, which wound around a majority of the park. They stopped for a moment to admire it when a coaster car sped by them. Inside was one of the last people Luigi had expected to see on this adventure: Wario. One of the Music Keys sat in his hands as he laughed triumphantly.

"Someone shady just went by holding a Music Key!" Toad announced. He apparently hadn't noticed who it was, which was a surprise to Luigi. Toad should recognize him after all the sports and parties his brother had thrown that Wario had attended, but Toads weren't necessarily the brightest bunch. "You'll have to chase after him in the roller coaster! If you dance, you'll pick up speed and catch up to him!"

Toad, it seemed, had no intentions of helping this time, either.

Luigi began to protest. Dancing in a moving roller coaster seemed extremely dangerous, and he really didn't want to suffer the consequences. But Toad heard none of it. He happily just lead Luigi to the roller coaster until Luigi sighed and got in. He danced as the roller coaster sped around, but he never seemed quite able to catch up to Wario.

About halfway around the track, he watched as Wario got out and ran off with the key. Now this seemed like even a worse idea than before. He never needed to go on in the first place if he could've just stopped Wario at the gate. But there was no going back now. He finished his dance and got off the car.

Toad met Luigi at the roller coaster's exit, and the chase was on. They began running around to all sorts of attractions in pursuit of Wario (though for some reason, Wario didn't run to all these attractions). They were frequently sidetracked by other foes hanging around the park, but they quickly were able to find Wario again and resume the chase.

Eventually, they were able to corner Wario by the ferris wheel. Once he saw he had no escape, he stopped and turned to face them.

"If you want my key, you'll have to pry it from my cold, gloved hands," Wario told them with a laugh.

"What a horrible, stinky, fellow," Toad commented.

"You can't have this key. I'll need it for my newest attraction. It's called DDR: Wario Mix!" He continued. The Music Key rose out of his hands, glowing as it floated above his head. "Through interpretive dance, it explores greed, stench, and tiny legs.

Toad and Luigi groaned at the terrible idea. A DDR game, taking place in the Mushroom Kingdom? That was ridiculous.

"Of course you're not impressed," Wario sighed, now looking at Luigi. "You don't understand how difficult it is, being short. When the Music Keys were scattered and I got my hands on one, I expected Mario to come and try to take it from me. But you?" He laughed, rolling his eyes. "There's no way his wimpy younger brother will be able to defeat me! My moves are the best. And let's face it, you're never number one in anything. You stand no chance."

That hurt. Luigi clenched his hands into fists and took a step forward. He was ready to fight.

"You don't want to back down? Fine. I'll give you the key, if you can outdance me! But that won't ever happen!"

Luigi and Wario jumped onto the ferris wheel and began their dance off. With Luigi in a foul mood, Wario and his stubby legs didn't stand a chance. Luigi nabbed the key from Wario's hands and he and Toad drove off in the SS Brass, Wario shouting up at the sky after them.


 

A chill hit the air as they left World 3 and headed towards World 4. Once the area came in view it was no surprise, everything was covered in ice and snow. They went in, trying to look around, but it was no easy task from the air. A harsh blizzard was blanketing the area, and visibility here was extremely low. Toad carefully brought the ship down for a landing so that they could look from the ground. It was the only chance they had.

Once they were out of the ship, the blizzard began to calm down a bit. They stopped and looked up to admire the beautiful norther lights. But this didn't last long, as Toad soon discovered something important.

"Hey!" He pointed up, towards the giant spiraling mountain in the center of the area. "The key's up there, at the top of the mountain!" Sure enough, the Music Key was right there, frozen within its icy peak. It was just a matter of getting up there and freeing it.

They began to walk up without much difficulty. There were relatively few obstacles in this world, other than the cold itself. About halfway up, however, the storm that had met them began to kick up again. It was clear continuing would be impossible for now.

"We can't keep going like this," Toad squawked. "Let's wait until the storm clears."

Conveniently, an old log cabin sat nearby. Without hesitation, the duo ran inside. The cabin was mostly empty of decoration and furniture, but it was far from unoccupied. Torches, Podoboos, and all sorts of fiery beings were scattered about the building. It was a strange area for them all to be in, but it was no surprise that they were gathered like this; if they were anywhere in World 4, the cabin was easily the warmest place. They were all shivering just as much as Luigi and Toad were. The cabin didn't have the best insulation and certainly wasn't the best for repelling the cold.

Luigi knew there was only one thing to do in a situation like this. He'd be stupid not to know by now. He'd have to dance.

He busted out his moves in the middle of the cabin. All the fiery beings around him joined in as well (though Toad was mysteriously absent for this event). Their moves got hotter the more they danced, and it wasn't long before they forgot how cold it was outside. They continued for a few minutes until everyone had warmed back up. Once they were finished, Luigi and Toad ran back outside.

"I feel much better now!" Toad shouted. "Let's go get that Music Key!"

The ground around them began to shake.

"What's going on?" Toad asked as he started to look up. Anything else he was about to say was caught in his throat. Giant globs of snow were hurtling down towards them from the top at alarming speeds. It'd be difficult to avoid.

If looks could kill, the rest of Luigi's adventure would have been solo. Sadly, he was not blessed with such a power.

Quickly, the two ran back into the cabin and waited out the avalanche. After that was over, another blizzard stirred up, and they waited that out as well. It was many, many hours before it was safe to go out again. Toad made sure not to open his mouth this time.

From there, it was a straight shot up the mountain. They ran up the rest of the way and finally made it to the top. Now they were here, however, a new problem became clear. What had simply looked like an icy peak from the from bottom was actually a sentient block of ice with the Music Key trapped inside. Getting the key out was not going to be as easy as they had originally planned.

"Um....hello, sir?" Toad asked, frowning as the ice block turned its attention towards them. "Would it, um, be possible for us to get the key that's inside your head? We really need it."

The block of ice said nothing, simply continuing to stare at them.

"That, uh, orb thing inside your head? It's called a Music Key, and we really need it back," Toad explained. "Is it alright if we have it?"

The ice block gave no visible reaction.

"Please, we really need it," Toad pleaded.

The block of ice said nothing. It looked away again, apparently uninterested.

"Did you see that?" Toad turned his attention away from the task at hand and looked up at Luigi. "He gave me the cold shoulder! Luigi, you're going to have to melt him with your hot dance moves."

"Toad, I can't-a--" Luigi started to protest.

"Not literally! We just need him to like us so we can get the key," Toad told him. "But, um, if that doesn't work, you might need to actually melt him, yeah."

"TOAD."

"What other choice do we have? We need that Music Key, Luigi, one way or another! It's not like you and monsters haven't stomped enemies before to save Princess Peach!"

"Those were Bowser's minions, and we never killed them! We just take care of them so they're not in the way. I don't think this guy knows Bowser, or Bowser would have the key! I can't melt him!"

The argument definitely wasn't doing anything to help them. The more they argued, the angrier the look on the block of ice's face. Eventually, it turned itself so it was looking straight at them, and it certainly wasn't happy.

"Well, you're going to have to do something. You better decide quick!" Toad shouted as he ran off, leaving Luigi to do the work like usual.

With other ideas, Luigi started to dance.

His emotions were still running high, and the power of music responded. Fireballs began to swarm the area, heating up the block of ice and causing him to start melting. It didn't actually align with his intentions, but it worked in his favor. Nothing he tried (not even stopping his dance) made them disappear, so Luigi ended up deciding to roll with it.

Before long, there was nothing left of the ice block. The Music Key floated over to Luigi. He was victorious.

"You did it, we got all the Music Keys!" Toad announced. "Now we just need to return them where they belong!"

Toad and Luigi hopped back into the SS Brass and went back to World 1.

Chapter Text

Toad sighed with relief. "Once we take the Music Keys back to Truffle Towers, it'll finally be over. Thank goodness."

The duo had almost arrived back at World 1, where the keys belonged. After a long and ridiculous journey, Luigi was more than ready for it to be over. Saving the Mushroom Kingdom himself was nice and all, but...he'd rather it hadn't been like this. The power of music and dance? After this, he'd be more ridiculed than before, if anything changed. He wanted nothing more to do with it; he'd even left the Music Keys in Toad's possession rather than his own. Toad wasn't the best person to give them to, but better that than keeping them himself.

"I'm gonna head home first, but we'll head to Truffle Towers after that," Toad told him.

Case in point on how Toad wasn't the best option (even though he was the only option), but Luigi couldn't get himself to worry or be upset. He didn't even care to point out that Toad didn't even have a home anymore. It was all almost over, and he was already celebrating in his head. Nothing could upset him now.

After taking the SS Brass in for a landing, the two went their temporary separate ways. Toad went off...wherever he was going, and Luigi took the long scenic route to Truffle Towers. It'd been some time since he had gone this way through World 1, and he wanted to relax now that this was all done.

The sight once he got to Truffle Towers was not relaxing. The sky had grown suspiciously dark, and Toad was lying flat on his back. His arms and pockets were empty; the keys were gone. In retrospect, Luigi really shouldn't have left them with Toad.

"The Music Keys were stolen!" Toad yawped, as if Luigi couldn't tell.

Who would do such a thing? Luigi had an idea who. Someone with a sinister laugh, with a sharp mustache and a particular liking for the color purple. Someone who had stolen the Music Keys before...

Behind them and above the Tower, the villain laughed, but it wasn't the laugh Luigi was expecting. He turned around.

"Bowser?!" he exclaimed.

"Duh, who else would it be?" Bowser snorted. "Of course it was me! With the Music Keys, now I can do the baddest thing ever! So all the dancing you just did? It was completely pointless! Later, losers!"

With another laugh, Bowser jumped into his aircraft and flew off.

"Things were going so well...and this had to happen!" Toad whined. "We were so close..."

Luigi decided not to point out it wouldn't have happened if Toad hadn't been so careless. As much as he wanted to, this wasn't the time for a fight.

Disappointment gleaming in their eyes, the duo jumped back into the SS Brass. It was time to head off once more. But not to any area they had been previously. This time they were going to World 5, where Bowser lived. It was a long flight; they had to fly past every other world they'd gone to before. But eventually they made it, and Bowser's ship was still in sight.

World 5 was far more treacherous than any other area. It was filled with volcano, lava, and anything hot to the touch. Smoke filled the air, so they had to fly low to the ground, just above a river of magma. In the distance, they could just barely make out Bowser's Castle. This was the place.

Relatively speaking, things seemed to be going well for a time. Toad was about to start another pep talk, but he was interrupted by the entire airship shaking from impact.

"We're under fire!" Toad ran to a window and looked outside. "Bullet Bills! We'll have to navigate around them."

By now, Luigi knew exactly what to do. It wasn't even a question at this point. With a sigh of resignation, he let go of the wheel and started busting his moves. He danced to the right and to the left, forwards and backwards, jumped up and down, avoiding everything that was thrown at them. He danced so long his feet started hurting, and he danced some more after that. Getting through the Bullet Bills was a real workout, and they couldn't escape the danger soon enough. As soon as they were free, Luigi collapsed on the floor to rest. Toad took the wheel.

"This is it!" Toad shouted as he landed the ship by the castle. "The final showdown." Luigi pulled himself off the ground and the two jumped out. They ran into the castle, ready for it all to be over.

All four Music Keys were hooked up to a giant machine inside. They glowed as Bowser looked up at them, reveling in the success that would soon be his. A smile flickered onto his face. "Time to start my evil masterpiece! Music Keys, lend me your power!" He closed his eyes and raised his arms up to the air, prepared for the magic of the keys to become his own. He waited for a minute or two, then grew frustrated as he felt nothing. Surely this wasn't right.

"What's going on?" Bowser demanded. He opened his eyes to see that his machine was now empty. "Where's the Music Keys?! Who would dare to steal what I rightfully stole?"

"We dare!"

Bowser turned around to look up at the balcony above him. There stood Luigi and Toad, a Music Key sitting in Luigi's hands. Luigi smirked down at the Koopa King as Toad continued to speak. "We're gonna take them back where they belong!"

"No way! I refuse! We'll have to decide in battle. Whoever dances the best gets them!" Bowser challenged.

"You can do it, Luigi!" Toad encouraged.

"Toad, why don't we-a just leave?" Luigi questioned. "We already have them."

Toad rolled his eyes. "You can only rightfully take the Music Keys from someone else in a dance-off Luigi. That's the rule. Otherwise, the keys won't respond to you. They won't fix anything."

"Did Bowser defeat you to-a take the keys?"

"Look, that's not the point! We're the good guys, Luigi! We have to follow the rules!"

"But there's no point, Toad!"

"Come on, Luigi, why does it matter? You can beat him anyway! What are you, a chicken?"

"No-a way!"

"I can hear you squawking from over h--"

"WILL YOU TWO STOP BICKERING LIKE CHILDREN AND FIGHT ME ALREADY?" Bowser shouted. He breathed fire up towards where they were standing, just barely missing. Toad and Luigi jumped and exchanged a glance.

"Just do it, Luigi," Toad whispered.

"Alright, fine," Luigi whispered back. Carefully, he jumped down from the balcony and landed in front of Bowser. The two glared at each other, prepared for battle. Without breaking eye contact, Bowser carefully started playing the song they would dance too. A fast, intense beat that would be difficult to keep up with. But Luigi wasn't afraid. They waited about eight beats, and then the dance was on.

Luigi had to admit, Bowser was good. Really good. The Koopa King had some of the best moves in the entire Mushroom Kingdom. And at first, he was almost a little intimidated. But with all the experience he had now, Luigi could keep up with the best of them, and even do better. So he put forth is best, gave it his all, and danced until he couldn't dance any longer.

But he could do more than just that. He could guarantee his own victory.

All sorts of explosives and machinery littered Bowser's castle. It covered the floors, piled up against the walls. If he was careful, Luigi could use this for his own victory. As he danced, he carefully constructed rockets and set them to explode upon impact. When they were ready to launch, he fired them at Bowser. He was able to get a total of about three off before it seemed victory was his. After the last explosion, Bowser stayed down. Luigi continued to dance as Toad set off all sorts of fireworks, celebrating an early victory. The battle had been won. Luigi and Toad finally stopped as the song came to an end.

The four Music Keys floated above as Luigi and Toad stood together. Bowser, still collapsed, was down on the ground next to him. He groaned as Luigi and Toad shared a victory high-five.

"It wasn't exactly fair, but...I guess I should be losing by now." Bowser sighed. "Looks like you've beaten me. My big plan's over."

"So, uh...you never said. What was your plan, anyway?" Toad asked.

"It's kind of embarrassing, but...I was going to use the keys to fix my tone deafness," Bowser muttered.

"Now I feel-a like a jerk..." Luigi moaned.

"We should take the keys back," Toad, who apparently had no heart or compassion, nodded at Luigi.

The Music Keys spun around in the air above them. Slowly, they lowered and glowed brightly. A light shown that was so bright they could barely see, but it brought a strange feeling with it. A feeling of peace, happiness, and joy.

"I feel funny," Bowser growled. "My whole body wants to dance, and I'm...happy..."

"Haha, I feel it too!" Toad was dancing a weird jig next to Bowser and Luigi. Neither of them joined him.

The Music Keys shared some of their music with the trio, allowing the music to enter their souls. The keys began to lower down slowly, moving towards Luigi. Luigi rose his arms up to welcome them.

They sang to him, promises of peace, prosperity, and happiness. They sang to him, promises of true wishes being granted. They sang to him, promising anything he desired. They sang to him, offering themselves to him, offering one wish of his choosing. They sang to him.

And he listened. He listened, at first ideas of peace flowing through his mind. Make this kingdom a truly beautiful place, allow peace to prosper, spread happiness to everyone. All the stereotypical ideas. Things would be better for everyone.

...

But it would be a thankless job. People would be happy, yes. But there was little else he'd gain from it. No one would recognize him for it. No one would even think of him, or remember him. They never did on his previous adventures, and they wouldn't now. Nothing would change.

And things were fine as they were now. The constant push of good vs bad suited him fine. It gave his brother something to do, and once in awhile, it threw an adventure his way as well. It broke the monotony, made things interesting. And he was fine with that.

So he listened. His greatest desires flooded his imagination. He saw everything he ever wanted. Especially what he wanted most of all.

He listened.

He smiled.

"Luigi, what are you doing?" Toad questioned. Both he and Bowser were still lighthearted and dancing from the effects of the Music Keys before. He saw Luigi's smile, but didn't have the curiosity to wonder why. "What are you going to do with the Music Keys?"

"You'll see," Luigi assured him.

The music in their souls grew more ominous. Stormy clouds darkened all of World 5. They could feel reality distorting, tearing itself at the seams to rearrange itself.

"L-Luigi?" Toad asked.

And everything changed.


A dark building. No windows, little lighting. Paintings on the wall. He could barely see the person in front of him. But this would do.

He didn't have a choice. If he didn't do this, he'd never be happy. He had to show the world he could be the hero. Not just in the weird adventures that no one would believe actually happened. He wanted a real adventure. He wanted to be a hero.

But he never would be, not like this. He'd always be in the shadows. If he tagged along one of his brother's quests, no one would notice him. Going alone only made things worse. So if he was going to be a hero, he'd have to play a little dirty. The kingdom already had a hero, and it didn't need two. So he was going to have to get rid of the hero.

"What's-a going on?" The person in front of him asked.

He smiled.

"I'm nothing with you around," he said. "All I ever am is second fiddle to you, even in my own stories. No one knows my name. I'm just 'Green', or your brother. But today, that's going to change."

He stepped forward. The person in front of him swallowed.

"For once, I'm going to get the recognition I deserve. I'll have an adventure--a real one, not any of those goofy ones people always think I make up. I'll have an adventure, I'll be a hero. People will know my name, I'll finally get some respect. And you? You won't do anything about it. In fact, you'll be the one I rescue."

He laughed.

"It makes a good story, doesn't it? The Great Mario, rescued by his own brother. It's perfect."

The person in front of him frowned. His own smile only grew bigger.

"I'm tired of being your second fiddle," he said. "But I won't be this time. It's my turn."

The dark, threatening music in his soul grew, swelled, made magic and dreams real. Boos of all shapes and colors and kinds filled the building. A painting next to them shimmered. With another laugh, Luigi shoved Mario into it. His brother was stuck on the other side, unable to escape, but his portrait was clearly visible from reality.

Mario banged on the edge of the painting. Luigi tilted his head.

"This time, I'm going to be Player One."