Mushroom Kingdom, Rogueport
Bowsette found herself forced to swim to the distant shore, as the fearful captain refused to even approach the splintered, decaying docks. Apparently Rogueport was even less charming than the stories she had heard, which was really saying something. Around these parts the "I visited Rogueport and Survived" T-shirts weren't just local tourist brick-brack. It was a souvenir of bragging rights.
During the day the central area was mostly safe, as long as you avoided the shady back alleyways, and shadier weirdos. But that was all during the daytime, and it was very late now. Or very early, depending on your lifestyle. And the docks were certainly not somewhere to be found in the dark. Cue Bowsette's welcoming party, a beady-eyed bob-omb, a koopa with a scar running over one eye, and a squeak' armed with a switchblade and a creepy smirk. Clearly what passed for leadership in this ragtag group.
"Nice night for a swim?" The koopa leered at her. "Looks a mite cold there though, foxy. Why don't you hand over ya valuables and then we can get ya out of those wet things before ya get sick." The other two chuckled at this bit of brilliance. Bowsette was suddenly very aware of three important things. One, she was in fact very chilly. Two, this was in fact very apparent to all concerned. And long, wet hair was just a mess to deal with. All these things rated low on the importance scale just now, however.
"Cretins." She replied scornfully. "To imagine the princess lets such a place continue to operate in this open depravity. Shameful really." It was evident these vultures got by mostly by being unchallenged. Taking from and hurting people with no defense training or weapons. Sadly for them, Bowsette was not just another lost tourist.
"Croutons? She's either trying to order a salad or insult us like, either way I'm pissed at this moll now." The koopa advanced 'menacingly.' It really was all Bowsette could do to keep a straight face. "No screaming now darlin'. Won't nobody come to help ya." But she wasn't taking a breath to scream, rather she blew a gust of fire at the trio.
"Aya you crazy lady?" The squeak asked in a panic and tried to run for cover. Bowsette kicked the koopa at the squeak, knocking it to the ground, stunned. The koopa rebounded off a storage crate back to her stopping beneath her boot.
"Yeah, okay. This is a little crazy. Maybe. But I'm going through some really crazy stuff right now. I just need to get things clear in my head before I start making some big decisions, you know?" She snatched up the bob-omb and stuffed him into the cramped shell-space with the koopa, then launched them both over her shoulder, the pair exploding over the water behind her.
Picking up the squeak's blade as she walked over to it, she stomped her big boot down on it savagely. The squeak, realizing with some relief that she had missed ending its life, attempted to run away only to discover Bowsette was standing on its tail. In its panic the squeak considered chewing off its tail, but it was too paralyzed with fear. How had a routine mugging gone so horrible so fast? "I wonder if a pair of mows fur gloves would warm me up after my chilly swim." She twirled the blade in her fingers.
"H-h-h-hey." The squeak sputtered. "Before you kill me you should know you've made an enemy of the boss now! Ya time can now be counted on one hand, AFTER the boss starts cutting ya fingers off!"
"Violence? in Rogueport! Who would have thought." Bowsette stifled an actual yawn. "Do you actually have a boss? This seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill street gutter outfit. Though admittedly my experiences are with higher classes of villainy."
"Man you really did just fall off the boat! Boss Ishnail runs this dock. He's been pushing on the Westside for a while now, and with the change in management he's gonna make his big move soon, so don't think there's anywhere you can hide here when he's hears about this."
"And I suppose your little antics tonight are a indicator of his character? That doesn't work for my plans unfortunately."
"What are you- whoa whoa whooooaaa!" He started wailing as she picked him up by his tail, and spun him like he was a yo-yo on a string.
"I'm sure your boss and I will meet soon enough." She told him, though how much of that he actually heard was questionable. With a flick of her wrist she tossed the squeak far and away into the shadows. her other hand folded the blade and slipped it into her boot. She could feel others watching her, and though she was confident she could handle whatever, she was ready for a shower now and bed, and showing any signs of defensiveness would be to show weakness.
X X X
Podley's Place was surprisingly nice for a dive. Even the odd mystery stain here and there added to the rustic charm giving the place an overall 'comfy lived-in' atmosphere. The sort of place that would be big with tourists if it wasn't in a place like Rogueport. Behind the counter wiping out soda mugs was an old, beanish fellow, presumably the titular "Podley." He was bald, wrinkled, and liver-spotted. He also sported a dirty blond mustache heavy enough to give an Italian plumber a bad case of envy.
"Serve you, young lady? We got cold Chuckola on tap, though if I may risk losing a pretty customer such as yourself- if you're searching up soda this time of the night you may have a problem."
"I do have a problem, though not with drinking." Bowsette saddled up to the bar. "I'm in town a few days and forgot to make reservations. You have a room for a damsel in distress?" She grinned in what she hoped was a disarming fashion, and idly spun a gold coin on the bar for effect.
"I wouldn't be much of an innkeeper if I didn't have a room for a pretty lady in need, in fact let me lighten your burden of a few of those coins while you're here."
"And here I thought chivalry was dead in Rogueport." Bowsette slapped two more coins on the bar. Podley in turn waved his hand over the currency twice, making it disappear on the second pass. A neat parlor trick. Bartenders that entertained tended to pull down better tips, and Podley here probably knew a hundred jokes and tricks like that.
"Any chance you could have some fresh clothes sent to my room? I lost my luggage on the way." In reality she hadn't packed anything. In retrospect this trip could have sat in the planning stage just a bit more, but hindsight and all that.
"I'll call Plenn T. He won't like being woke up though. Probably require a little something extra." Another coin was produced, along with her written measurements. This time Podley walked it across his knuckles before it disappeared. When he opened his fist he was holding a room key. He was good, alright. Might even possess a bit of real magic, whether he realized it or not.
"I may have some business to conduct before I leave town." She said casually as Podley started wiping down the shiny counter. "I accidentally ran afoul of the Eastside Board of tourism tonight."
"I'd advise not to keep such company, but... if you have no better choice check out Westside Goods. They usually have what you are looking for. Ask Peeka for the days specials."
"Thanks. Think I'll head up now, suddenly feeling the hour." Upstairs Bowsette was somewhat amazed at the size of the room, humans could live happily inn such tiny, confined spaces! And the bed seemed so small to her that it looked like something you bought for your pet to sleep on, though when she stripped out of her damp outfit and crawled into it she found it was the perfect size. Apparently her perceptions had not yet caught up to her reality dimensions.
Finally alone with her thoughts, she realized just how different she had become, aside from the merely physical aspects. She was speaking more eloquently, obtaining information without threats, and just generally enjoying a smoother thought process. It was with these things playing in her mind that sleep suddenly found her, and took her for the remainder of the night.
High above all of this, aboard the Cheep Blimp, rode the part-time detective turned full-time detective, Pennington the Bumpty. He was not particularly happy about the arrangement as it was. He would rather have traveled by the Perplex Express. That was a ride for a real detective! Plus no mysteries ever occurred on an airship, did they? Not like on a train. Ironically, Pennington had been hired to investigate an airship mystery, but this irony was lost on him. At least he could charge it as a business expense. Rides on the Cheep were not cheap.
The blimp landed nearly silently near Peach's Castle and Pennington disembarked to be greeted by a representative of the kingdom he was previously familiar with.
"Ah Mario, so we meet again at yet another mystery. Our kind is simply called to danger and mystique are we not, my dear boy?"
"Act-u-ally I'm Luigi-" He tried to not sound miffed, and failed spectacularly.
"Quite quite." Pennington nodded along. "You're deep undercover for this case. I understand, my boy. Worry not, its a fantastic costume! But I have the eye of a detective and cannot be so easily fooled. You won't mind if I bear my own name? I'm sure I couldn't hide my presence even if I so desired."
"Now now Mario, we'll compare adventures another time. For now take me to the scene of the crime post haste, sir!"
"This way." Luigi gestured towards the massive area of blacked earth and ship debris.
"This way!" Pennington echoed. "Yes of course. Just as I suspected. The clues are all coming together now." He pulled a huge magnifying glass from his shoulder bag.
"So uh, we were in the middle of an invasion when it just- blew up. We never even got the chance to fire on it." Luigi explained, not totally convinced this was the detective that was supposed to show up.
"Yes yes. Rudimentary." He mumbled to himself, picking up and examining a burnt shard of something. "The only question is why."
"Why?" Luigi lifted his cap to scratch his sweaty hair. "Why what?"
"Why did he kill himself, of course! Its rudimentary! Why else would he be carrying unstable red bob-oms instead of the safer black variety?"
"Uh huh." Luigi was relieved when his communicator beeped, taking his attention to something less confusing.
"I know it's too soon, but does he have any thoughts on what happened?" Peach texted him. Whatever she was sick with had had hit her again, even harder, as she was too tired to call. Her illness was also affecting her patience apparently.
"Just a crazy suicide theory." Luigi texted back with a thinking emoji.
"Well it is a high profile case. It's bound to attract sensationalism." Peach texted back. "We can't rule anything out but suicide doesn't really fit Bowser. Keep me posted." The next message was from Mario checking in. Boy did he have some catching up to do!
Dark Lands, Bowser's Castle
A day of mourning had been declared by Kammy, the acting ruler until Junior came of age. The mood in the castle was extremely somber. Even the dry bones shed a little dust when the news of Bowser's passing came. Mushroom Kingdom officials were supposedly collecting and respectfully packing up Bowser's remains for transport. The koopa kids had been notified, and were traveling to the castle for the funeral, which Kammy was also in charge of planning. The hardest thing was explaining it to Junior. She wanted so bad to tell him the truth, but Bowsette had decided her son was too small to keep such a big secret.
"How? Why? Who killed him?" Junior asked through the tears.
"I'm sorry sweetie. Sometimes bad things just happen to good people." Kammy replied, hating herself for the cliche, but hating herself more for the lie. This was not something she would forgive Bowsette for, even if she did have the best of intentions at heart.