Hello everyone, and welcome to my story.

This tale is based off of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and largely focuses on the Five Heroes who defeated the Shadow Queen a thousand years before Mario obtained the Magical Map.

Thank you for reading. Happy Holidays to everyone, and please take care of yourselves in the months to come. :)

-One Thousand Years Ago-

"What shall we do with them?"

No one had an answer. Placed neatly around the round table were the seven Crystal Stars that Ingrid had so ingeniously plotted to take from the demon. It was very fortunate that when the demon had created them, she had failed to provide them with any sense of allegiance. The power of the Crystal Stars was completely at the hand of their wielder.

Elodie looked around the grand foyer to her friends. Ingrid was scowling quizzically at them, searching for a solution. Matthias had a hand to his chin, but his green eyes were glazed over. Serene's hair covered her face—Elodie could not see her expression. And Arthur… Arthur was gazing at Elodie, attempting once again to see if she was well.

Finally, the tension made way to a suggestion.

"Perhaps it might be best to destroy them."

It was Serene who had spoken, her raven hair still draped gloomily over her face. She had not yet recovered from the battle that had taken place a few days past; Matthias seemed to notice and gently placed a hand upon her shoulder.

"We cannot," answered Elodie, as much as it pained her to debate their only idea thus far. "There is always the possibility that my… that the demon shall return. The seal we placed upon the labyrinth is only guaranteed to last for a thousand years. Once those pass, what happens then? Do we secure our own safety at the cost of our descendants by destroying the Crystal Stars?"

"No indeed," answered Matthias, though that seemed all he could input.

"I concur," Ingrid added, her curly hair the color of fire in the light of the pane-glass window. "The Crystal Stars must remain—as should the power they possess."

Arthur and Serene, however, both appeared troubled. They seemed to share expressions with words, the way close siblings might do. Elodie observed their reluctance and hesitation to agree—Arthur's sky-blue eyes were filled with doubt, as were Serene's.

It was Arthur to say what both seemed to be thinking.

"We have no guarantee that the demon shall return. What if the Crystal Stars were put to nefarious uses by others?"

"Then we must hide them," boomed Matthias, his deep voice echoing around the chamber. Elodie nearly jumped in surprise at his sudden enthusiasm. She glanced at him sideways to see a spark in his eyes—the same spark that occupied his gaze whenever he spoke of an adventure. "I volunteer to take these Crystal Stars across the world, in the deepest and most remote corners, so that they might remain hidden from evil."

Ingrid smiled, though it was sly. "All of them?" she mused. "While I agree with your idea, I do not think it wise to allow one person to take charge of them all. However much I trust you, Matthias," she added quickly, seeing the shocked look on his face, "I do not trust the others of this world."

Matthias appeared as if he wanted to argue, but before he could, Serene's fair voice rang out. "I still say we should destroy them. Many ill fates could befall us if we fail to hide the Crystal Stars, and hide them well."

"Even more disastrous would it be if the demon returns, and there are no Crystal Stars for a hero to fight it with," snapped Elodie. Her patience was wearing thin with Serene—their bond had never been strong, despite Arthur's pleads for her to at least attempt to become friends with the woman. "I know that the demon shall return, Serene. I know this as none of the rest of you can. If she wants to return, she will, and with a vengeance unlike the world has ever beheld."

Elodie was met with startled silence from her friends—but she unrelentingly glared at Serene, knowing that if anyone was to continue contradicting her, it would be the sorceress. The room was full of tension, and it did not dissipate until Matthias spoke again, this time considerably softer.

"Perhaps we should take a vote."

Four pairs of eyes snapped to Matthias, who shrugged, his dirty-blond hair falling over his forehead. Almost subconsciously, he placed a hand on the hilt of his garnet-encrusted sword.

"I think that's a fair suggestion," remarked Elodie. She knew that Matthias, at least, would agree with her—now it was only a matter of winning over Ingrid and Arthur.

Matthias smiled and seemed to relax. He then looked over the group, cleared his throat, and said, "Then who wishes to destroy the Crystal Stars?"

As expected, Serene raised her hand. Elodie stole a glance at Arthur to see that he was leaning forward, deep in thought. Ingrid, however, seemed confident with herself as she kept her hand by her side.

"And to hide them?"

Elodie, Matthias, and Ingrid all voted for the second option. Arthur was still undecided, and everyone noticed.

"Arthur?" said Ingrid, her brown eyes shining. "We await your vote."

Arthur sighed, his hands clasped together in front of his mouth. "Either way I vote, we still have a majority," he declared, keeping his eyes firmly on the table. "It does not matter."

"It matters to us," retorted Elodie, rising from her seat around the table and moving to stand behind him. "We would appreciate your input, whatever it might be."

He sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair. "That is the problem, Elodie. I do not know which option is better. On the one hand, we risk the demon awaking earlier than anticipated and her seizing the Crystal Stars again. On the other, we gamble the fate of the world in a thousand years, when she does return. Neither of our options sound appealing."

A bell-like laugh rang throughout the room; following it, Ingrid exclaimed, "What did you expect, Arthur? A miracle? There are no such things… perhaps there are to those who dream and call us heroes, but to us, the proclaimed heroes? No. History is bound to repeat itself, my friend, one way or another. Now what is your vote?"

Arthur's sky-blue eyes dimmed, and he placed a hand to his forehead. Elodie was saddened to see him so burdened—she knew that his goal had been to provide the world a peace that would last for eternity.

Ingrid seemed to notice the blow she had dealt to Arthur with her words. Softly, she added, "Arthur, keep in mind that your children shall be safe. Rosalina and Tobias are in no danger."

A spark ran through Arthur's eyes—Elodie knew what that spark meant and she began to back away—but suddenly, there was an exclamation of, "Oomph!" and a shrill squeal.

Elodie whirled around to see Rosalina entangled in one of the tapestries behind the round table, nearly ripping it from its hinges upon the wall. With an exclamation of shock, Elodie rushed forward and removed the cloth from ensnaring her daughter's legs.

"Rosalina!" she chided. "How long have you been hiding back there?"

"Long enough!" chirped the girl, a look of worry that was much too old for her plastered across her face. She stared directly at Arthur and pouted, "Daddy, you can't destroy the shiny stars! They're too pretty!"

Despite the severity of the situation, Elodie couldn't help but laugh. Of course her child would immediately think of the loss of something pretty or shiny.

Before Arthur could respond, however, there was a young cry from Elodie's feet. With a gasp, she realized that Tobias had been perched with Rosalina as well—Elodie bent and picked him up from the cold stone floor, halfway amused and halfway irritated that her children had been eavesdropping. At seven and two years old, they were much too young to listen to severe topics like the potential end of the world.

"Why, Rosalina, must you always drag your brother in tow?" she inquired, trying not to roll her eyes.

"I didn't," exclaimed her daughter, her sky-blue eyes wide. "Tobias was curious. He wanted to come…"

Behind Elodie was a chuckle, and then Arthur said, "Mm-hm. I'm quite sure he did." He picked up Rosalina and sat her on his shoulders, even though she was beginning to grow too big for that.

After Rosalina was safely situated, Arthur exhaled slowly and turned back to the table, where their battle plans had been placed months ago: where their notes and the Crystal Stars and the journal of the demon lay now.

A flash of determination ran through his eyes… but this time, it stayed there. Turning back to the others, Arthur declared, "I vote to hide the Crystal Stars."

There was a brief silence as everyone digested his words.

And then Serene sighed and said, "So be it. The majority speaks… we shall hide the Crystal Stars. Matthias, you know the world better than any of us here. I believe it should fall to you to establish where to place them."

"No disagreement there," exclaimed Arthur, a characteristic grin displayed on his face. Elodie could not help but smile herself seeing it. "But first, perhaps we should establish who takes which Crystal Star."

Ingrid nodded. "That would be wise," she mused, voice warm as caramel. "Two of us shall have to take charge of two Crystal Stars."

"I'll take two," Matthias volunteered immediately, a childlike excitement in his eyes. Besides Serene, there was nothing he loved more than traveling or an adventure. "I can take the Sapphire Star and the Gold Star."

Serene was the one to speak next. "I can visit Twilight Town and hide a Crystal Star deep in the Dim Wood. Hardly anyone dares venture to the forest there. My people also dwell in the steeple; they shall not harm me."

Arthur set Rosalina down—but as soon as he did, the girl cried, "Daddy, daddy, can we keep one?"

At this request, everyone laughed. Arthur's shoulders were shaking with mirth as he was pulled by Rosalina to where the Crystal Stars sat. "All right, Rosa," he laughed, light wrinkles encircling his eyes. "Which one is your favorite?"

Immediately, the girl pointed at the Diamond Star; the first Crystal Star that had been created.

"That one!" she exclaimed proudly. "It looks like Mama's eyes!"

Elodie started, surprised by the comparison. But when Rosalina looked up at her with a careless toothy smile, Elodie saw the child's genuine excitement, and her shock morphed into affection.

"Very well, then!" exclaimed Arthur, grandiosely waving his arm. "The Diamond Star shall be here in the castle, specifically for you."

Jovially, Matthias sauntered over to the table. He glanced around the room and said, "Ingrid, you can take the Emerald Star. Where shall it be hidden?"

"In the Great Tree," she answered immediately. "The small people, the Punies, will watch over it for centuries. Of this I am sure. I shall also take charge of the Crystal Star, if it is allowed of me."

Matthias grinned. "Elodie, will you take charge of the Garnet Star, then?"

Elodie nodded. "I shall… the Garnet Star shall be placed in Poshley Sanctum. The warriors that are positioned there are renowned and honorable. But Ingrid, I believe it would be best if the Crystal Star remains within the buried city. We should keep it close to the Door in case a hero should attempt to defeat the demon."

Ingrid and Serene both nodded, small smiles upon their faces. Elodie glanced at Matthias and Arthur to see that they appeared to agree as well—it was Ingrid who questioned, "When should we begin to distribute them?"

"As soon as possible," replied Matthias. "I vote next week, after we recover and heal."

Arthur ran a hand through his hair. "So it shall be. One week from now, we depart."

That was all Elodie needed to hear. She smiled to herself, glad that she and her friends would be standing behind the eventual hero that would need to fight the darkness just as they themselves had done.