Luigi and Yoshi ran as far as they could—as fast as they could—as Bowser’s army was slowly beginning to gain enough strength to break free from the Birdos’ and the Yoshis’ “chain” to hold them back.
“Quick, Luigi,” Yoshi shouted, dodging a Spiny egg that a Lakitu had thrown at his direction. “We need to hurry—if these guys finally block the road, I doubt we’ll get another chance!”
“Ugh, coming,” Luigi panted, giving put just as much effort as Yoshi to dodge the attempts coming at him; it would only be a matter of time before the mass of Bowser’s crew blocked their way to the gates—permanently.
Then, as if Luigi and Yoshi’s fears were read, a handful of Koopas and Parakoopas blocked the gates.
Luigi panted in exasperation.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Yoshi hissed, throwing an egg to their direction, he hit it with so much power that few of the Koopas and Parakoopas blocking the way practically flew from the impact.
Luigi raised an eyebrow at Yoshi’s direction.
“Now!” Luigi exclaimed; both he and Yoshi rammed toward the weakened defenses blocking the gates.
Successfully, they were able to make it, albeit only slightly, past the troops blocking the gates and now they were inside.
With all haste, and not sparing even half of a second, the duo closed the gates and locked them from the inside.
“Whew,” Luigi panted, “That was close.”
“I just hope Birdo, her friends, and everyone else will be okay,” Yoshi sighed.
Luigi put an arm around Yoshi’s shoulder. “They’ll be fine—they all gave it their all to bring us here; if we a-turn around now, that would mean we don’t believe in them. They believed in us, and that’s just what we’ll do in return.”
The green dinosaur took a deep breath, and nodded.
“Come on, let’s a-go,” Luigi said.
They ran toward the door where they were certain Bowser would be hiding—it was too obvious, the grand door waiting at the very end…
…only to realize that the door led to a narrow hall, in which by the very end split into five separate halls.
“Great, so that a-makes it harder for us to find him,” Luigi grunted.
“Well, no sense complaining about it,” Yoshi said. “Let’s try to check them one by one—if we reach a dead end, we’ll be sure to turn around.”
“Can’t we split up?” Luigi suggested.
The green dinosaur shook his head. “I have a feeling that if we do, it just might be easier for Bowser to take us out that way. It’s just too risky.”
Luigi thought about that. “Hmm, yeah, I guess you’re right.”
And so the two ventured their way toward the first of the five, which was equally as narrow as the one it had split from. The very fact it was nothing but a straight, narrow hallway made it more assuring that the only worse thing they could encounter would have to be a dead end.
And as they walked several more steps forward, that was exactly what greeted them.
“Dead end,” Luigi said, matter-of-factly.
“Oh well, that means we’ll turn back and try the remaining four others,” Yoshi said as the two made an about-face and started to walk the return route.
Eventually, there was something that had gotten wrong. It hadn’t been obvious when they walked, but as they stopped, two things were apparent—first, they had been sure that they had walked longer to reach the dead end than it took to go back to the starting point.
And second, there had been five split hallways at the starting point.
Now, there were just two.
“A-what the…?” Luigi stuttered. Had he been imagining the number of hallways minutes ago? He had been sure there were originally five, and it wasn’t like he had fallen into some state of delusion….
“Weren’t there five at the start?” Yoshi wondered, thus confirming Luigi’s doubts. So it appeared that the green plumber hadn’t been the only one who noticed.
“Ugh, the more I think about this, the more I feel like I might a-be hallucinating about earlier,” Luigi grunted.
Yoshi’s mouth straightened to a grim line. “Well, nothing much with us staying here thinking about it, is there?” He shrugged. “I guess we may as well pick a route among these two. I have to admit, though—with two routes to choose from, it’s a little easier for us.”
“I’ll a-give you that.”
The two picked one and started to make their way toward what could either be a dead end or—hopefully—a door.
“Argh!” Luigi complained when, at the very end, it had split up to three more different hallways.
“Bowser’s doing a good job with this whole hard-to-get thing—even if the two of us were able to get inside, it’s taking just as much time to get to him inside the castle,” Yoshi huffed.
“A-what do we do now?” Luigi asked.
“I thought of turning around and trying out the other hallway, but who’s to say we won’t run into the same kind of trouble as we did earlier with the previous five hallways that became, strangely, two?” Yoshi wondered.
“Hmm,” Luigi pondered deeply into what the green dinosaur had just said. “Yeah, that’s a-right—next thing you know, what used to be two hallways may just as well become a different number when we come back.”
“Bowser just turned his castle into one huge labyrinth.”
“We have to solve into this—we can’t fail something like this; Mario”—the name swelled up in Luigi’s throat as he said it—“and the others are just within arm’s reach.”
“So we aren’t going to turn around then, Luigi?”
“I don’t think so.”
Luigi picked among the three new hallways that had greeted them at the very end, and they were off.
To their strange pleasure, there was a door that greeted them. They quickly ran toward it, happy that they were likely making progress, yet they seemed unaware of the possibility of a trap behind the door.
Luigi hastily opened the door, and they were greeted by the brightness emanating from behind it. It blinded the plumber’s eyes for a second, but then it faded away for him to see where the door had taken them.
“Well? What’s at the other side, Luigi?” Yoshi asked, running toward him.
“We’re…,” Luigi said, unsure, he looked around—it looked like the interior Bowser’s castle, but when he turned his head right…
“Wait—that’s the door we used to enter that hallway maze!” Luigi gasped. To their right side, the grand door that they had just taken was right there.
“Then…that means all this time we’ve been going in circles?” Yoshi said in a disbelieving tone.
“No, I can’t believe it,” Luigi said, shaking his head with as much disbelief as his pal. “There has to be a way to get to him—like how we were able to bypass Bowser’s defenses with the key jewel.”
Luigi looked at the grand door to which they had entered to enter the hallway labyrinth, thinking of what could possibly happen if they were to take another shot at entering it. Most likely there would be hallways which would split into more hallways at the end, those which would lead to dead ends, and those which would lead to a door that might take them back to where they were now. It seemed as if there was no way to solve the labyrinth.
Then something caught at the corner of Luigi’s eye. When they had barged their way in through the gates, there were two statues, very identical to the ones that they had used the key jewel for earlier when they had breached the castle defenses. He looked closer to them, then looked back at the huge door where they had first entered the moment they had gotten into Bowser’s Castle. The door wasn’t that far apart from the gates, but there was something about the distance, about the way the statues were placed by the gates.
It was then that Bowser’s words echoed in Luigi’s head.
Two heads, five tiles off and three corners out.