The Temple of the Sun
After leaving Garudawn's chamber and returning to the clock room, Mario already thought he knew what to do with the Sun Orb.
"One of these other rooms had a pedestal in it, right?" he recalled. "And it looked like the perfect size to fit this thing..."
So after turning the clock hand and rotating the floor one more time, the group was able to head into the first hallway where the pedestal was waiting. Sure enough, it had a small indentation in the top that seemed like the perfect fit for the orb.
"All right, well, here we go," said Mario, taking out the Sun Orb and placing it on the pedestal, bracing himself for whatever was about to happen...
Except absolutely nothing happened.
"That was boring," Stubba pouted.
Mario blinked. "But I'm sure this is where it goes... what else are we supposed to do?"
"Oh, look here, Mario. There's a sign on the wall," said Dulia, pointing at something on the far wall that he hadn't noticed. Sure enough, there was a small plaque there that had what looked like ancient writing engraved in it.
"Hmm, what does that say?" Mario wondered, walking up and getting a look. "'With the Power of the Sun... The Sands of Time Will Flow.'"
He drew back. "What does that mean?"
"Well the part about the sun is obviously talkin' about this thing," said Goomblaine, nudging the Sun Orb. "So that must mean somethin' happens when you put it here."
"The sands of time..." Mario thought it over before pausing. "Wait a minute."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the Aeon Hourglass, staring at it. "But there's not even any Day or Night in this place... what would this possibly do?"
"Only one way to find out," Hanner said, looking eager.
Realizing his partners were all watching him expectantly, Mario gave an awkward shrug and turned the hourglass over. He wasn't expecting much, but as the sand fell through the glass the whole thing suddenly started to glow, and his eyes widened in surprise as a blinding flash lit up the room...
The Temple of the Sun
Mario blinked his eyes open and looked around cautiously. He didn't know what he was expecting to see, but at first glance it seemed like there was no change in the room.
"...Did that do anything?"
"I'm not sure..." Maizee admitted as the others looked around. "Well... wait a minute, Mario. Didn't you open this chest already?"
"Hmm?" Mario looked at where the chest had been sitting, and sure enough, it was no longer opened. Curious, he kicked it open and this time found a Jammin' Jelly waiting inside.
"Well, that has to mean something... we'd better have a look outside."
So after taking the Sun Orb back with them, figuring they'd need it again in the future, they opened the door and stepped back into the clock room... and stopped in surprise.
Whereas the room had been covered in warm colors before, now the walls were all colored dark blue with splashes of purple. Instead of suns adorning the room, now there were decorations of countless sparkling stars on the walls, with a few silvery crescent moons here and there.
"We did move," Mario said breathlessly. "At least... I think we did... what's going on here, anyway? How is it this room is affected by the hourglass?"
"I don't know, dude, but... I think we know where that chick's brother is now," Ferdinand said uneasily, pointing directly ahead. Just like in the sunlit version of the room, there were two other doors that could only be reached by rotating the pathway... and one of those doors had a bright silver padlock on it.
Mario swallowed hard. "Great... just great."
Reluctantly, he did the same thing he'd done the first time and turned the hand on the clock, rotating the pathway to the second door. Just like before, it led to a short hallway with a chest containing a Temple Key, though this one was silver rather than gold. They then returned to the main room and Mario turned the hand yet again, causing the pathway to lead right up to the locked door.
"I'm starting to get dizzy from all this spinning," Hanner groaned, leaning against a wall and clutching her stomach.
"And I really ain't in the mood to fight another one a' them things," Snatchel sighed resignedly. "Even though we're obviously gonna win."
Mario turned to him. "'Obviously'? You sound pretty confident..."
"Well shoot, we're awesome, ain't we?"
Mario shook his head. "Well if that's the case, we'd better hurry up and win," he decided, putting the Temple Key in the lock and unlocking the door. As he pushed the door open, his partners warily followed behind him as he stepped into the room beyond.
He was briefly taken aback by how gorgeous it was. The walls and the ceiling looked just like a real night sky, dotted with stars, creating the illusion that they were outside in a wide open space... but it was a bit hard to concentrate on that when there was a giant dark blue phoenix towering over them.
Stubba let out an "EEP!", unable to help himself, and Dulia whimpered "Oh no..."
"Who are you?" the large bird demanded, sounding every bit as peeved as his sister. "Who dares intrude upon the lair of Garudark, one of the great sentinels of this temple?"
Gazing up at him, Mario saw that this phoenix was just as large and beautiful as Garudawn, but his plumage was colored a vast deep blue. As he unfurled his wings, Mario saw that his feathers were laced with silver and covered in countless points of sparkling light, as though they contained a sky full of stars.
Even though he'd been expecting it, Mario still felt himself growing nervous. "Uh... actually, these are the Guardians of Day... we came here looking for you because... well actually, your sister sent us over here."
Unfortunately, that just served to make Garudark angrier. "Blasphemers!" he snarled. "How dare you claim yourselves to be the Guardians? How dare you taint my sister's name? I shall punish you for this insolence!"
Everyone groaned and braced themselves as he flapped into the air. "If you truly are the Guardians," he declared, "then you should be able to best me in combat! Now defend yourselves!"
He swooped out of the air, but this time the heroes were better prepared, and as they all quickly jumped out of the way Goomblaine pulled out his phone. "Okay, that's Garudark, the second one of the sentinels! He's pretty much the same as his sister, only difference being he's got lower attack and higher defense, so he's harder to take out. He's also got moon powers instead... I dunno what that's s'posed to mean, but whatever! Let's just waste this guy!"
Mario wasted no time doing just that, racing up to Garudark as he came swooping down again and busting out a Power Bounce right on his head. The dark phoenix let out an angry squawk and started shaking his head around, throwing Mario off before he'd done much damage.
"It will take more than that to do me in!" he sneered, attempting to give Mario a smack with his wing. Luckily Mario had learned from their last battle and quickly jumped backwards, narrowly avoiding the hit. While Garudark was distracted with the portly plumber, Hanner ran up from the left and started throwing hammers, striking the huge bird in the side... but it hardly seemed to do anything.
Garudark turned to glare at her. "You think to harm me with as feeble an attack as that?" he sneered, immediately lifting off and zooming at her. Hanner had just enough time to grow very pale before screaming and running out of the way.
Mario started growing discouraged. "Great... this guy's awfully resilient, isn't he?" he muttered. "Ferdinand, I think that's your cue."
"You can count on me, man!" the Bumpty cheered, springing into action. He flapped into the air after Garudark, pelting him with a bunch of rapid-fire Beak Jabs while the dark phoenix was distracted with picking off the other partners. He shrieked in pain from Ferdinand's sudden attack, spinning around and sending his assailant flying across the room with one swipe of his wing.
"It's time to put you whelps in your place!" he shouted, generating a countless number of sparkling moon shards that streaked off and pelted Mario's team. As before, all they could do was wince and defend themselves against the blows. The attack wasn't as strong as his sister's, but it was still enough to slow them down.
"All right, you done with that yet? Then let's get down to business!" Snatchel said once the attack had slowed, racing up and bowling right into the giant bird. Garudark let out a cry as the attack sent him flopping over onto his back... but not for long. Before Snatchel could get out of the way, Garudark suddenly lashed out and pinned him to the floor under his huge foot.
"You will pay for your foolhardiness!"
Maizee suddenly looked furious. "Just what do you think you're doing?!" she shouted at Garudark, running up and blowing an enormous Pollen Storm cloud right in his face. He let out a strangled squawk as the sickly-looking pollen instantly inflicted him with confusion, causing him to start staggering around the room and release his hold on Snatchel.
He sat up and looked sheepish. "Phew. Uh... thanks for that."
Maizee smiled cheerfully. "I was just returning the favor..."
"GUYS! Stop flirting and get over here!" Hanner shouted. The two of them snapped to attention and raced over to where the others had cornered Garudark. Goomblaine drove him into the floor with a merciless Multibonk, and then Stubba tried to wail on him with his club, but the phoenix's defense was high enough that his attack couldn't do a thing.
"Oh, no..." the little Clubba moaned.
"Just leave it to me!" said Dulia, letting loose an earsplitting Howl against Garudark. He shrieked and flapped his wings as the noise forced his defense down... unfortunately, it also snapped him out of his confusion.
"That was a mistake, I fear," he growled as he glared down at Dulia, who grew a very frightened look and started shaking... but before he could do a thing to her, Stubba came out of nowhere and whacked him with his club, briefly taking him out of commission.
"Tee hee! This is really fun," Stubba giggled.
Garudark quickly straightened up and glared at the entire party. "That does it! You've pushed me this far... now suffer the consequences!" Before the group could stop him, he opened up his wings. "Lunar Burst!"
"Oh no... AAAAAAUGH!" Hanner screamed as she and everyone else panicked and ran away, knowing what was coming. In an instant, a huge, blinding beam of moonlight came crashing down to the ground, so powerful that it shook the whole room and threw the entire fleeing party off their feet.
Thankfully no one was directly hit, but it still left them all sprawled on the ground in a daze.
"Ugh... all right, this guy wants to fight with pizzazz. Well, he's not the only one who can do that," Mario muttered as he got to his feet. "Are you ready, Dulia?"
"Of course I'm ready!" Dulia said determinedly, racing loyally up to Mario. Garudark just stared at them as they grabbed hands, not understanding what was happening until it was too late.
Garudark let out a cry of shock as dozens of flames suddenly burst into life around the two of them, circling around them faster and faster before finally shooting off and slamming into the huge bird. He screamed as the flames engulfed his body, frantically flapping his wings before his strength finally gave out and he collapsed to the ground with a loud crash.
"...Remind me why we don't do that more often?" said Snatchel.
Dulia sighed in relief. "That was too close."
As the flames flickered and died, Garudark wearily lifted his head up and gave them all a scrutinizing look. "So it's true, then," he groaned. "My sister was right about you... you are the Guardians."
"Told you, man," said Ferdinand, shaking his head.
"Very well, then," said Garudark, standing up and ruffling his feathers. "Since you have proven yourselves, I will follow my sister's example and lend you my power... but I expect you to roust that blasphemer King Shroude with all of your might."
Hanner gave a salute. "You got it! That's our job, after all."
Just like before, Garudark opened up his wings and caused a glowing sphere of light to materialize in front of him. As it floated over, Mario opened up his hands and caught it, and the glow died away to reveal the object was a bright silver.
"That is the Moon Orb. When the time comes, use it together with the Sun Orb." He stood back and unfurled his wings. "Now make haste. The fate of our world rests on all of you."
There was a bright flash of moonlight, and as it faded, they saw that Garudark was gone as well.
The moment Mario's team stepped back into the clock room, they all skidded to a stop in surprise.
"What in the – all right, that was not there before."
They had reached a dead end with the clock room, and so had resigned themselves to backtracking all the way through the Temple... but fate apparently had other plans. As soon as they had stepped outside, a bright glow began to fill the room, and as the team stopped and stared in awe, it gradually coalesced to form a wide staircase leading up and up. It seemed to be made out of pure golden light.
"Woah! Can we go up that thing, Mario?" Stubba asked eagerly.
"I have a feeling we're supposed to," said Mario. He craned his head up, but he couldn't see where the staircase led. "At least, I hope we are..."
They all raced up the staircase, surprised to find that the glowing steps were perfectly solid. As they went, the room vanished underneath them and they found themselves ascending through darkness... until they reached the very top.
"Wait... we're back here?" cried Hanner, looking confused. As she and the others arrived at the top of the stairs, they were surprised to find themselves back in the massive two-storied room, right in the middle of the floor. They had just come walking up through a hole in the floor that hadn't been there before.
"But there were no stairs here before! Where did they – "
Before Hanner could even finish, the floor that had been covering the stairs during their first visit magically rematerialized, appearing and solidifying out of thin air. Within seconds there was only green carpet, with no sign of the stairs underneath.
"Okay, forget it, I don't even care anymore."
"Magic, remember?" Mario jokingly reminded Hanner. "All right, well since we're back here... I suppose the only thing left to do is go up those staircases. But the force fields are still on."
"I take it you didn't notice the pedestals over there?" asked Goomblaine, gesturing over toward the staircases. Mario looked and realized that next to both of them there was indeed a short pedestal... and it just so happened that both of them had orb-shaped indentations.
"...Aha. Well, no prizes for guessing what we do next."
Mario walked over and placed the Sun Orb on the pedestal to the left, then put the Moon Orb on the one to the right. He immediately got a reaction once he did; both orbs began to glow, which in turn caused the faint glow that already filled the room to become brighter. There also seemed to be a low humming sound coming from all around them. The room was responding to the power of Garudawn and Garudark; only with their permission could the upper floor of the Temple be reached.
The force fields covering the two massive staircases flickered and grew weak, and then finally vanished.
Mario grinned. "All right! Let's hurry on up there!"
The party ventured up the staircase on the left, though they ended up going at a walking pace, still gazing around in reverence at the beautiful room they were in. Once they finally reached the top, they were even closer to the huge vaulted ceiling and couldn't help but take a moment to stare up at that as well.
"Well, all right, there's two doors up on this floor. Where to first?" said Mario.
"I believe that's been answered for us," said Maizee, pointing over at the door on the right, which was bolted shut with a padlock.
"Oh, come on," the plumber groaned. "All right, fine... left door it is, then."
The first thing behind that door was another long, plain hallway with no apparent obstacles, but the team was surprised to find new enemies prowling about. There were two varieties of them; one kind resembled an ornate sun, the other a crescent moon, but they both had somewhat cartoonish faces and hovered a few inches off the ground as they traveled back and forth.
"...What are those things?" Dulia asked, confounded at the sight of them.
"They're called Mini-Suns and Mini-Moons. Yeah, try guessin' which one is which," said Goomblaine as he looked at his phone. "They've got super-high stamina and they can even heal themselves when their health gets low... but just like those Magiblots, they're weak to each other."
"Well, all right then," Mario sighed, preparing to face off against these stronger-than-normal enemies. The Mini-Suns and Mini-Moons attacked by firing small bursts of solar or lunar energy, and so Dulia used the same strategy she had before and turned into a Mini-Sun, taking out most of the Mini-Moons in the process. The others had to take care of the remaining enemies, but they were extremely resilient, withstanding the team's blows and wearing them down very quickly.
"We really don't have time for this," Mario groaned, deciding to wrap things up quickly. He pulled out one of his Shooting Stars and held it over his head, summoning an entire shower of stars to come soaring down and crash into the enemies.
"Oooooooooooh," several partners said at the sight. Mario sighed in relief as the attack took out all the Mini-Suns and Mini-Moons... or almost all of them.
"Oh no! ACK!" cried Hanner, finding herself trapped between a Mini-Sun and Mini-Moon. They both fired bursts of energy at her at once, and not knowing what else to do, she ducked out of the way. Both of her attackers' eyes bulged as they were each struck with the other's attack, immediately taking them out.
Hanner cautiously opened her eyes and realized what had happened. "...Ha! My brilliant plan worked!"
Everyone else just groaned and shook their heads. "Nice try, dudette," said Ferdinand as they all set off without Hanner, leaving her standing where she was and pouting after them.
As they entered the next room, they found themselves standing on top of one of three tall platforms rising up out of the floor. The only way to reach the next door was by crossing over the platforms somehow, but they were far too far apart to jump, even for Ferdinand.
"Well, how do we get across this?" Mario wondered.
"I'm gonna guess it's got somethin' to do with these blocks over here," said Goomblaine, gesturing over at six blocks floating in the air to their right. Some of them were yellow and had the image of a sun on them, while others were blue and had a moon on them instead.
"All right! Hitting blocks! That's where I'm a pro," Mario said with a chuckle. "I'll bet we just have to make it so they're all suns or something."
He jumped up and hit one of the moon blocks, and just like he'd thought, it immediately turned into a sun block... but the two adjacent blocks changed as well. They'd both been sun blocks, but now they were moon blocks.
Mario stared at them and deflated. "Things just can't ever be easy, can they?"
Nonetheless, after a little trial and error he'd finally solved the puzzle. Whenever he hit a block it would cause whatever blocks were next to it to swap patterns as well, but eventually he'd hit them all in such a way that all of them became sun blocks. And just like that, there then came a brilliant glow from the edge of the platform that transformed into a floating yellow pathway leading to the next platform.
"That really is something. Just like that golden staircase that led us up to the main floor. I'd certainly like to know where they come from," Maizee said thoughtfully. "Do they actually harness the power of the sun? Or is it some form of the Guardians' magic that – "
She looked and saw all the others had raced across without her. "...Or we can just not think about it," she sighed, following after them.
On the second platform, Mario had to repeat the same puzzle with a second set of blocks, this time transforming them all into moon blocks. The glowing pathway that appeared after that led them over to the door, and they all hurried into the next room.
"Oh great, another bottomless pit," Goomblaine grumbled as they entered. There was indeed what looked like a bottomless drop between them and the chest on the other side of the room, but spanning it was what looked like a twisting maze of pipes. These pipes were actually meant to hold up a small platform that was waiting for them on their side of the room.
"Ah, okay. I bet we just have to ride this thing across the room," Mario decided as they all stepped onto the platform. "...So, how do we start this thing?"
"Oh, maybe we have to hit that switch over there?" said Stubba, pointing at the blue "!" switch to the side of the entrance. "Except how do we do that? If we go over there and hit it then it'll start without us..."
"All right! It's Hanner's turn to shine!" Hanner cheered, drawing back her arm and throwing her hammer over at the switch, hitting it dead on. Just like that, the platform underneath them gave a lurch and began to travel across the pit, following the path of the twisting pipelines. They actually wound up at a dead end a few times, but after figuring out how to steer the thing, they finally got it to lead them over to the chest on the far side of the room.
"All right, perfect!" Mario said happily as he opened it and held up the Temple Key waiting inside. "This must be the key that'll open the last door back in the great big room."
Suddenly Ferdinand grew a gravely serious look on his face. "Uh oh... you know what this means, dudes... backtracking."
As soon as he spoke the word, there came a dramatic crash of thunder from somewhere that made the entire group jump and look around in confusion.
"...What just happened?" asked Dulia.
With the key in hand, the (rather disgruntled) group went back through the last few rooms before finally arriving back at the large room where the orbs were resting. This time they approached the door on the upper right, and as Mario unlocked it and pushed it open, they entered a new area of the Temple.
They were drawing ever closer to Peach... but only time would tell if they were ready for what was waiting for them...