The scent of pollen wafted through the air, and leaves fluttered in the soft wind. The sun shone down on a small clearing dotted with trees as two small Toads played beneath the shadow of a spire of stone, stretching its rocky head toward the vast blue sky. A cloud passed over the structure, and bright, yellow flowers danced as a quiet breeze swept by. The sound of childish laughter rang through the air as the Toads chased each other in circles, oblivious to everything around them. The clearing, however, was just a thin veil; a deceptive front for the fortress that lay behind it.
Then, one of the Toads stepped too close to the flowers. Normally, they were careful enough to avoid them, but their minds were so distracted with one another that one of them had been blinded to where their feet had been taking them, and, just as the innocent clearing was nothing more than a calm front, the flowers themselves hid a danger to all who dared approach them. The sound of rustling leaves was all the warning they got, before a red, bulb-headed plant sprang forth, pointy teeth lining its gaping maw. The small Toad could only gaze into the open jaws of the Piranha Plant as it lunged for the Toad frozen in fear.
There was a blur of red and blue, and when the Toad snapped out of their shock, they found the Piranha Plant lying on its side, mouth still hanging open as its tongue hung out onto the ground. The Toad turned to catch a glimpse of their savior, and was met with a pair of unmistakable blue overalls; Mario, the famous plumber of the Mushroom Kingdom, had arrived.
Wordlessly, Mario knelt down in front of the Toad and offered a gloved hand to them. The Toad could only gawk as he helped them to their feet at a man they had only heard passing stories about. They were quite familiar with the red-capped plumber from hushed whispers they'd heard from around the fire, but to meet such a larger-than-life figure in the flesh left the poor Toad speechless.
The other Toad, the one who wasn't frozen in awe, quietly pointed a shaking hand towards the looming spire behind them, directing Mario towards the very top of the fortress. Mario glanced up at the top, then back to the Toad. A smile formed behind the mustache hanging under his round nose. He tipped the edge of his cap -his way of saying thanks- and with a wink, he leapt away, leaving the Toads to watch him grow smaller into the distance from the clearing.
Getting onto the spire was easy. Getting onto it unseen was a bit more difficult. Mario found himself diving away and clinging onto walls at awkward times to avoid the watchful gaze of the cubic stone creatures, or Thwomps, that overlooked the outer rim of the fortress. He scaled the stone structure quickly and quietly, taking care not to be pushed off by the few moving bars, called Bomps, that served as the fortress's defense. Slippery slopes jutted out from the walls, threatening to pull Mario back down to the start, but he managed to tentatively edge his way around the pitfalls with a series of carefully timed jumps.
On his way up, Mario noticed a platform going the same way, and didn't hesitate to climb on as it passed. The clanking sound it made as it ascended was dull and throbbing, given off by whatever it was that pulled it up, and as annoying as it could get, it still took him where he needed to go so he did his best to ignore it.
When the platform reached the top, the guards stationed there, made up of the tall and slab-like Whomps, found it completely empty. Of course, in their hasty inspection, they forgot to check the underside of the platform, and the moment they turned their backs to let the platform go on its way, Mario slipped out from underneath. The Whomps were big and clumsy creatures, so it was easy to stay out of their line of sight and make it to the peak of the fortress, where the dreaded Whomp King watched over all that happened around the mountain.
On this fine day, Mario had been tasked with bringing down the Whomp King, someone in charge of a very large crime organization. The plumber was usually too focused on keeping track of the Koopa King's whereabouts to pay attention to any smaller criminal activities in his area, but when he was notified of such a threat so close to his home, he didn't hesitate to offer his services in bringing it down.
There had been a very good reason for why the Whomp King had chosen to carve his fortress out of a mountain; when he was so high up, he had complete control over who could get to the top and meet him face to face. Imagine his surprise when he saw Mario land before him, having heard nothing from the guards posted around the stone spire.
The Whomp King growled. "You don't belong here, plumber."
Mario pretended to look confused, spending a few moments to check behind him, before he pointed to himself.
"You think you can just walk all over my fortress, over my home, don't you? Well, you're not going to wipe your feet on me! I'll crush you, just to teach you a lesson, and you can't do anything about it!"
The Whomp King came barreling towards Mario, completely dwarfing the plumber in size. His every step caused the ground beneath them tremble, and the guards positioned just below glanced around worryingly, wondering if an earthquake had started. The Whomp King was large enough to crush the plumber in a single step, so Mario kept himself away from the soles of his foe's giant feet.
There was one fatal flaw that the Whomp King had overlooked, however; because of his overwhelming size, his steps were unwieldy and clumsy. Each time his feet hit the floor, it took tremendous effort to bring it back into the air again. When the Whomp King raised a mighty foot to bring crashing down onto the plumber, Mario dived out of the way and knocked over his feet with a solid kick to the legs. With a resounding crack, the Whomp King fell face-first onto the ground, and for a moment he was left dazed on the floor of his own fortress.
As soon as he regained his senses, the Whomp King tried to push himself off the ground, but a small weight pressed against his back kept him pinned to the floor. If he could have looked over his back, he would have found the plumper sitting on his back had somehow changed himself completely into metal. The Whomp King struggled against the plumber's weight, but eventually gave up when his efforts proved to be useless.