Fionna and Marshall met eyes. Fionna could see, he was different, almost lifeless. His gaze showed none of the love, or caring, or even sagacity they had before. They were hurt. They were sad. They were defeated.
The adventuress had been to countless caves, dungeons, and evil lairs. She has probably seen the most intimidating castles and caverns of anyone in the land. But nothing could prepare her for where she was now.
Being in the Nightosphere was unlike anything she had ever seen. It was horrifying, mentally disarming, and it probably would have fazed any normal teenage girl that found herself in its shadowy pits.
Fionna was no normal teenage girl.
She had pulled together all the effort in her entire body and— with Cake by her side—braved the Nightosphere like a true hero. She made it all this way to be presented with her biggest challenge in the halls of Marshall’s mother.
Now with Cake dazed on the sidelines, knocked out by the mother of Marshall Lee, Fionna was cornered. She was trapped, and unlike the daring heroine she wanted to be, she panicked.
She was still trying to muster up something to say to Marshall’s mom, something to stop her, or even delay her from carrying out her wicked plan. Before she managed to get out one word, the Lady of Evil directed her attention towards her son.
“Oh, Marshy,” She said with a coo while Fionna stood in the darkness, defenseless against a woman who was just a voice. “This mean, evil girl has come to hurt you again! She came to rip out your heart, and call you a monster! She came to crush your poor, hopeless dreams of love!” The sharp, ringing voice of Marshall’s mother rang throughout the halls like an old rusty chime. “Don’t worry my bad little boy, I won’t let that happen, I won’t let her hurt you!”
Fionna had no plan of attack, and she also no target. Her eyes darted around, frantically looking left, right, above, anywhere, trying spot where the terrifying mother could be. Fionna gazed at the still unmoving Marshall, and wished she knew what was going on in his mind. His mother’s demonic voice resounded throughout the lofty halls, losing the mock soothing tone it had a moment ago, replaced by a dark and sinister quality.
“Marshall, listen to me. This girl has done you nothing but harm. No good things ever came from being with her. She does not, nor will she ever reciprocate your feelings.” Her voice rose, filling the darkness with her raw power and further detaching Marshall from his own independent thoughts. Fionna’s heart raced; his mother was getting to him, it was working. “All the nice things you’ve done for her? Worthless! Every sweet nothing whispered in your ear? Ruses! Any sort of love and affection? Deceptions! It was all tricks and lies!”
“Hey!” Fionna shouted to the shadowy walls. She sounded pitiful beneath the powerful presence of Marshall’s mother that surrounded her. “That’s not true! Marshall, don’t listen! She’s lying!”
An earsplitting laugh—something resembling a witch—echoed so loud in the dungeon, Fionna clapped her hands to her ears. “Oh, my dear! You’re much too late to convince this boy of anything!” She cackled again. Fionna’s heart dropped. What is his mother doing to him?
“Now listen up, Marshall!” She said, the daunting-mother voice returning, but this time angrier, more serious. “This girl has only hurt you! Now what are you going to do? Sit around and cry like a baby? NO!” She barked. “Make her pay! Come on, Marshall! Fionna deserves to be punished! And, I think that half-demon part of you would really like some attention.” She coaxed, as if Marshall was her own personal henchman.
Marshall hadn’t moved, but the blank expression on his face had become one of mild strain. It looked like he was fighting with his mother’s convincing words, trying desperately to resist her.
Fionna tried to get to him, but with no results. “Marshall! Marshall!” She shouted to the center of the room where Marshall stood. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but please don’t do this! Please don’t let her control you—”
“ENOUGH!” The mother spat. “Enough dilly-dallying! Attack! Attack Fionna! There’s no one to stop you! Use all the violence brewing inside you!”
“Stop this!” Fionna shouted to the monster that was speaking. “Stop, this is ridiculous!”
“Marshall,” The mother coaxed. “Let it out, you know it wants out. All you ever do is lie to your friends. That’s what you’ve been up to lately, haven’t you? It’s because you’re a monster.”
Marshall broke. He let out a short cry of agony. His knees buckled and he crouched toward the ground, clutching his head as if it would explode. “Stop!” He pleaded in a small shout. It was the first time he’d spoken since Fionna arrived.
Whatever witchcraft or demonic spell Marshall’s mother was conducting, it was working. It was getting to him, and Fionna had no idea what would happen if she couldn’t stop the Lady of Evil. “Come on, Marshy, why would you ever want to be anything but evil? It’s in your blood.” The mother cooed. Marshall Lee, who usually dawns a nonchalant and casual demeanor, was now falling apart at the seams, being ripped apart in his own mind, trying to fight back against his mother’s wishes.
But the malevolent lady knew she was close. She knew it was only a matter of time now. Marshall’s mother was prepared to pull out all the stops. She was going to force Marshall into sinful actions. She was going to make him evil. He already had broken out in a cold sweat, grabbing onto his head for dear life, mind exploding with internal conflict.
“Marshall, do what you know how to do! You’re a demon, a monster!” She spat life into her words, enunciating loud and clear with her booming voice. She barked “You don’t deserve anyone! You’re a living piece of evil! No one in this world will ever love you, especially this stupid HUMAN!”
He collapsed on the ground with a cry of agony. He screamed and writhed on the floor as Fionna watched in horror. Then, as suddenly as it began, it stopped, and Marshall was still.
Fionna gasped, “What did you do—”
But the mother silenced her. “Shhh… Just wait. The monster will arise.”
Before Fionna’s eyes, Marshall got up, rising slowly like a zombie. At first Fionna thought he hadn’t changed at all, he didn’t look like a monster. He looked exactly like Marshall Lee. Then he raised his head, and Fionna saw. His eyes were hollow and red; they cut into Fionna’s soul. It was the demon eyes she feared so much. She looked into them, and saw that Marshall wasn’t there, it was only a monster. He opened his mouth and spoke.
“Fionna,” his voice was deep and it rasped. It wasn’t his voice, Fionna knew. He wasn’t in control anymore.
He took a step towards Fionna, his expression full of malice.
“Do you really love me?” He asked. Fionna stared at him in horror, wondering how on earth she could get through to him now that the demon side of him was in control.
“Do you really care?” He was walking slowly towards her as if she was his prey. Fionna stared into the demon eyes that frightened her more than any monster she had ever faced.
“Marshall—” She was tongue tied as he approached, leaning over her menacingly. “Marshall I do—”
Her words were cut off as a sharp-clawed hand wrapped around her throat. “Do you really want me?” His commanding voice boomed in her ears. It sounded so demonic and distant. Fionna could vaguely hear Marshall’s mom cackling in the background.
She could feel his breath on her cheek. “Do you really?” He snarled.
“Marshall, please.” She begged, cringing as he lifted her by the neck. She tried her hardest to draw in breath, but it was getting increasingly harder. “It’s me.” She croaked. “It’s me, Fionna.”
But it was no use, he was too far gone. His glowing demon eyes were trained on the skin of her neck. He tilted her head to the side and bared his fangs. Her legs dangled slightly off the ground, and she tried to kick her attacker, but it was no use. He was like an iron wall. Her hands grappled at his steely grasp around her throat, to no avail. Fionna strained, trying to scream, but nothing came out.
She knew this was the end. She knew she had failed. And what hurt the worst is that she couldn’t help Marshall, she was too busy thinking about herself to understand what was happening to him, and now it was too late.
Fionna felt the tip of his fangs on her skin. She shut her eyes, accepting her fate. I’m sorry, Marshall, she thought. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop you from turning into a monster.
The hand around her neck went limp and Fionna collapsed to the ground, clutching her throat. Catching her breath, she looked up to see Prince Gumball, holding an iron skillet in his hand. His expression was just as shocked as Fionna’s.
“Gumball?” Fionna’s jaw nearly dropped.
“Fionna! You’re alright! I was afraid I was too late!” He gave her a hand up, while she still tried to process what had happened.
She gazed at the unconscious Marshall Lee, who was lying on the castle floor. His tousled black hair lay over a lump on his head was already forming.
“You… You hit him over the head with a frying pan?”
“Uh…” Gumball held up his skillet, looking at it in surprise. “Well… Yes. I suppose I did.”
“Thank you.” Fionna said, still shocked from her near-death experience. She glanced at Marshall again. “Is he…?” Gumball waved her concerns away.
“He’ll be fine,” the prince replied, “He’s just going to wake up with a headache.”
Fionna sighed in relief, but her relief didn’t last long. When she turned around, a tall, pale, menacing woman had materialized in the castle. She towered over the two, with yellow-green, glowing eyes and massive fangs. Her ears were sharp and pointed, like Marshall’s but much larger.
“How dare you?!” She barked, her voice so loud it caused Fionna and Gumball to jump back.
Fionna readied her sword. She put her back against Gumball’s and said “Ready?”
His hands shaking in fear, Gumball raised his pan. “I-I’m right behind you,” he assured with a stammer.
For a moment, Fionna grinned. She was filled with pride at the sight of her and Gumball working together, despite the quarrels they’d had lately. But her happiness couldn’t be enjoyed for long, for Marshall’s mother was poised to attack.
“How dare you attack royalty? Who do you think you are?!”
Fionna raised her chin at the enemy, eliminating all fear from her expression. “I’m Fionna the Human.” She yelled with confidence. Gesturing to her rescuer, she continued “and this is Prince Gumball. We’re going to stop you, ya crazy old bag!”
“You? Stop me?” The demon woman cackled. Her voice dripped with evil and malice. “I’d like to see you try.”
With an ear-shattering battle cry, Fionna ran at Marshall’s mom. But as she approached, Marshall’s mom morphed and grew into a great demon creature. She was covered in tentacles, all black, with several glowing red eyes. It was her demon form.
Gazing up at the massive monster, Fionna was daunted for a moment, but then she quickly regained her bravery.
She looked up at the wicked woman, pointing her sword at her. “You’re the worst mom I’ve ever seen! I’m gonna mess you up!”
As the demon creature laughed at Fionna, the adventuress saw Gumball trembling behind her. “Oh y-yes…” He said, shaking. “I will also m-mess you up.”
Fionna looked back behind her at Cake and Marshall, her unconscious friends. Then she got a new burst of courage.
She began to swing her sword in all directions, trying to hack away at the demon monster of a mother. Fionna screamed as she did, her war cries echoing in the castle hall. She swiped fast, but Marshall’s mother was faster. She dodged Fionna’s blows easily.
Behind her, she could hear Gumball shouting, “Yes! Go get her Fionna!” Fionna realized the cowering prince wasn’t going to be of much help, but she appreciated his moral support.
She jumped and jabbed and slashed, but her sword couldn’t do more than a scratch against the mother’s demonic form. Fionna was growing tired, and her efforts showed no progress.
The enemy still laughed at her. “Silly girl,” she said, her tentacles thrashing about like an octopus. Her voice teased Fionna. “Why do you even try?”
“I’m not going to let you hurt my friends anymore!” Fionna yelled, swinging her sword with all her might. She knew she couldn’t give up. If she gave up, what would happen to Marshall?
Fionna felt pressure wrap around her torso as she was lifted into the air. Suddenly, she was dangling off the ground. She screeched when she figured out Marshall’s mother had picked her up in one of her tentacles. She hacked at the tentacle with her sword, but it was like steel.
“Put me down, you freak! Let me go! I want to fight you!” She wailed.
“This play fighting is getting boring,” The mother said with a bored tone. “You really are useless. I’m not even sure why you came here.”
“Oh, oh dear!” Fionna heard Gumball’s voice. She looked just in time to see him getting wrapped up in a shadowy tentacle as well. There goes our last chance, Fionna thought grimly, as if PG would be able to defeat this monster.
With no more options, Fionna tried her best to writhe and fight, desperately trying to get out of the monster’s grasp. Soon, Fionna and Gumball were both screaming. With no one left on their side to fight, it seemed hopeless.
“I know what I’ll do with you two. All this drama has made me a bit hungry.” The demon said to her captives. “I’m sure you’ll taste delightful.”
“No! Please, let me go!” Fionna screamed. But it was no use. Soon Fionna and Gumball were dangling over the demon’s monstrous mouth. It looked like a black hole. Fionna yelled and kicked and fought with all her strength. But nothing worked. The woman cackled loud in her ears, she had won. Fionna knew it was over; there wasn’t anything she could do.
Just then, when all seemed hopeless, the woman suddenly screeched, releasing Fionna and Gumball. They fell to the ground, shocked that they were alive. Fionna blinked in shock, looking up to see a similar demon creature attacking the Lady of Evil.
Fionna gasped. “It’s Marshall.”
The demon version of Marshall punched and wrestled the murderous woman. The adventuress and the prince watched from the ground as the two massive beasts battled above them.
Gumball was staring up in shock. “He-he’s a-awake?” PG stuttered in surprise.
“Accelerated healing,” Fionna said breathlessly. She laid back in awe, watching Marshall’s great strength in battle. He may be a demon, she thought, looking at him with admiration, but he was fighting for good.
Shaking her head, and coming back to reality, Fionna leapt up and grabbed her sword again. But, as soon as she tried to launch back into battle, she realized Marshall really didn’t need any help. She watched in surprise as Marshall overpowered his demon mother, the ruler of the Nightosphere.
Marshall had her pinned down, hissing in her face. Seeing the battle was over, she returned to her normal form, and Marshall did the same.
“Marshall?! You traitor!” The Lady of Evil spat in his face, anger dripping from her words. She tried to remove herself from her son’s grip, but he was stronger.
“You can’t control me anymore!” Marshall said. His face was so intense and full of fury, Fionna was captivated. He looked as though he was getting revenge for many, many years of torture, more than Fionna could imagine.
“I’m your mother!” She screeched in outrage.
“You call yourself a mother?!” Marshall bared his fangs in her face. “You’re no mother of mine!”
“Oh.” The Lady of Evil sighed, relaxing onto the floor in defeat. “Someday, you will welcome your destiny, my son. You and I… We’re not as different as you think.”
She began to fade away. He body turning into shadows. “Never!” Marshall screamed at her. “I will never be like you!”
She laughed quietly as her body disintegrated into shadows, disappearing into the floor. Her chilling laugh echoed in the castle for a moment longer after she fled.
Fionna looked at Marshall. He was panting, still staring daggers at the space on the floor where his mother was threatening him a moment ago.
“M-Marshall?” Fionna’s voice shook. She couldn’t muster the strength to take a step towards him.
He began to shake his head vigorously, standing up. “I’m okay,” He took a deep breath. Then he brought a hand up to his head. He cringed. “Wow. That is a huge bump. How hard did you hit me with that thing?” He gestured to PG’s frying pan.
Fionna glanced behind herself at Gumball, who laughed nervously. “Oh, haha. There are no hard feelings, correct?”
Marshall smiled, and Fionna began to see some of the old Marshall returning to his expression. “No, of course not.” Then he glanced at Fionna. “I should be thanking you.” He looked back at PG, saying with sincerity, “Thank you. And I mean it.”
Gumball laughed again. “No problem. There’s nothing a trusty skillet can’t handle.” He tried to flip his pan in the air, but he almost dropped it, giggling nervously.
Suddenly, the weight of everything that just happened dawned on Fionna. It was difficult to wrap her head around it. Fatigue hit her like a wave and she began to feel woozy. She began to look back and forth between Gumball and Marshall, one who was supposed to be good, and one who was supposed to be evil. But it’s not that simple anymore, Fionna’s weary mind thought. It’s much more complicated and confusing.
Fionna swayed back and forth as dark spots began to dance in her vision. She couldn’t see much of the castle anymore and she heard her sword clatter to the ground. She heard the concerned shouts of Marshall and Gumball in the back of her mind and faintly saw them running towards her. Suddenly she felt a distant falling sensation.
The pair of boys caught her as she collapsed to the ground with shouts of “Fionna!” and “Are you alright?!”
Fionna gazed up at the vampire and the prince and smiled in her exhausted stupor. Just before she fainted, she reached a hand up to both of their faces and said “I think you’re both good.”
Cake’s eyes flew open. She jumped up, claws at the ready. “Demon! Where!? Attack!” She shouted. She looked around, blinking, until she realized she was in Marshall’s house. She looked to the side and saw the portal vanishing before her eyes.
She was about to screech ‘FIONNA!’ but then she relaxed. She saw everyone—Fionna, Marshall, and PG—safe and sound, out of the wretched Nightosphere. Marshall carried Fiona gently in his arms, and he was settling her on the couch just as Cake woke up.
“She’s alright, isn’t she, demon boy?” Cake put her hands on her hips.
“She… she fainted.” Marshall looked worried. Cake scampered over to assess her human. She put her hand on her forehead, and listened to her heartbeat. Then she laughed at the vampire.
“Get that worried look off your mug, boy.” Cake smiled at him. “She’s just exhausted… and probably a little shocked from the whole Nightosphere thing.”
Prince Gumball looked relieved, but Marshall still looked a bit uneasy.
Cake, with a lot of reassuring and coaxing words, managed to get the whole story out of the two boys. It seemed as if it was hard for them to talk about it, but Cake had no doubt the horrors of the Nightosphere could scar anyone.
But, the entire time the pair told the story, Cake couldn’t help but notice Marshall. He kept stealing glances at the couch where Fionna lay. It was as if he was still worried about her. His eyes were full of concern for her, and it filled Cake with a warm fuzzy feeling. She had never doubted his love for her, and this only proved it.
When the tale of the battle was over, Cake told the others it would be best if she took Fionna home to rest. They agreed, but before she left, she approached Marshall, putting a motherly paw on his arm.
“Hey, don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine.”
“B-but the Nightosphere, a-and my mom, and…” Marshall stuttered. He looked at Cake, distress clear in his expression. “She saw me in my demon form.”
“Honey, I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’s a tough girl. And I know she always says that, but it’s true.”
The pair looked at the peacefully sleeping Fionna, curled up on Marshall’s couch. She looked battered and exhausted. Cake even noticed slightly dark circles under her eyes. But she still looked peaceful, and when Cake turned to look up at Marshall, the way he looked at her was all the cat ever needed to see. He cared about her as much as Cake did.
“I promise,” She said to Marshall. “Fionna can handle anything.”
Marshall gave Cake a weak smile as she moved to pick up Fionna. She hefted Fionna onto her back and made her way out the door.
As she left, Cake shouted over her shoulder. “Thanks for the great time, y’all. Let’s do this again next week.”
Marshall finally cracked a real smile, but when he looked at Gumball, the poor prince looked like he was going to be sick.
Fionna woke up all snug in her bed. Instantly, the memories of last night, and how she fainted flooded her mind. She leapt out of bed, throwing the covers off and ran out of the bedroom.
“Whoa! Whoa there, superhero!” Cake stopped her with her gentle arms. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Marshall?! Is he okay?! What about PG? Oh, Cake! You’re okay too! Where is everybody? Are they okay?!” Fionna’s mouth ran a million miles per hour, desperately wanting to know what she had missed when she was unconscious.
“Sweetie! Calm down! Chill!” Cake said. “Everyone’s fine!” She took a deep breath and hauled Fionna back into the bedroom and set her on the bed.
“Honey, everyone is A-Okay. PG and Marshall brought us back through the portal, and when we landed in Marshall’s house, I woke up. The two of them managed to piece together the story for me.” She smiled. “It’s all okay, honey-buns. I’m proud of you.”
Fionna let out a long sigh. She relaxed back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. She couldn’t think of anything to say.
But she finally managed “So, Marshall’s okay and everything?”
“Well, yeah,” Cake scratched the back of her neck. “He didn’t exactly defeat his mother, but she can’t be defeated, she’s the ruler of the Nightosphere.” Cake shrugged. “But, according to Marshall, she won’t bother him for a long time.”
Fionna smiled. “I’m glad he’s okay.”
Cake grinned, ruffling Fionna’s hair. “Me too. Now why don’t you just rest for today, okay? You’ve had enough craziness for a while.”
As much as Fionna was curious about Marshall’s fate, she agreed and stayed in bed for the entire day. She didn’t like it much, but Fionna knew she was wiped. Prince Gumball even came to check on Fionna later in the afternoon, bringing his ‘World-Famous Deliciously Yummy Cupcakes.’
The cupcakes were actually pretty good, but Fionna couldn’t hang out with Gumball without thinking of Marshall. Luckily, while PG was visiting, neither he nor Fionna said a word about the bet or any romantic feelings between them. Fionna was extremely relieved it was all behind them.
Even though they hadn’t said much about the previous day’s events, Fionna had one thing she knew she really had to say.
Just as he rose from the kitchen table to leave, she spoke up. “PG?” She said, nervously.
“Thank you. I mean really, thank you so much for yesterday. I have no idea what would’ve happened if you weren’t there.” She looked up at him sincerely.
PG looked a bit surprised, but then his familiar smile returned. “It was my pleasure,” he said graciously.
When he left, Cake patted her shoulder approvingly, but didn’t say a word.
The rest of the day, Fionna was cooped up in the tree house, aching for the day to be over so Cake would let her go adventuring again the next day. Unfortunately, the day seemed to drag on forever. Fionna played Beemo, organized her weapons, anything to pass the time. Anything to make her stop thinking about Marshall.
Soon, the sky grew darker and twilight set in. Fionna, with nothing else to do, excused herself to bed, leaving Cake in the kitchen putting away dishes. She curled up in her bed, and wished for sleep to come.
Shadows grew in her room as night fell. She watched them as she tried to fall asleep fruitlessly. She simply lay in her bed as the night hours passed, her mind too awake to sleep.
Suddenly, a knocking sound startled her. It was coming from the window.
She pulled off the covers and approached the window. On the other side, she saw the warm, smiling face of the Vampire King.
Fionna forced the window open, a million words wanting to fly off her tongue.
But she couldn’t get any of them out, for Marshall pulled his ax guitar and cleared his throat. To Fionna’s great surprise he began to sing, strumming a perfect tune on the guitar. Fionna listened intently, leaning on the windowsill.
“Good little girl,
Always picking a fight with me.
You know that I'm bad,
But you're spending the night with me.
What do you want from my world?
You're a good little girl.”
Fionna was speechless at both his harmonious voice and his unbelievably romantic lyrics. The song seemed to encompass every aspect of their relationship. Her eyes were wide as she looked up at him. His perfect form was just floating right in front of her window, hair ruffled by the wind and eyes glinting in the moonlight.
The song ended, and he put his guitar on his back again, grinning sheepishly. “So, uh… I figured out the lyrics.”
When Fionna still didn’t respond, he looked a little nervous. “They flow better now, so… you know.”
Then, like a bolt of lightning, Fionna leapt off the window sill in a grand display of love. She soared through the night air, right into Marshall’s arms. She grabbed onto his neck as he caught her. His expression was more than shocked, it was stunned. His eyes were wider than Fionna had ever seen them. Seeing him again filled her with happiness. She grinned from ear to ear as she smashed her lips to his.
Marshall nearly forgot to levitate. They dropped a few feet before he regained his wits.
He wrapped his arms around Fionna and cradled her to him. Once he got over his astonishment, he suddenly realized how much he missed the taste of Fionna’s lips. They were soft and pink, and tasted surprisingly like cupcakes.
He kissed her senselessly. Pulling her closer, he repeatedly captured her lips in his, reveling in how perfectly their lips fit together. When she gasped for breath he stuck his tongue in her mouth, starting a passionate dance of tongues. All the worry he was keeping pent up since he saw Cake carry her out of his house suddenly washed away with this one kiss. He was more than relieved to have Fionna safe in his arms.
When they finally broke away, Marshall searched Fionna’s eyes.
“You aren’t mad at me?” He asked uneasily.
Fionna put her soft hands on his face. “About what?” She asked.
“Everything.” He looked away, guiltily.
“No!” She laughed. “I’m not mad! I get it,” she assured him.
“Yes, and to tell you the truth, I’m just glad this whole thing is over, and you’re okay.”
He smiled. Relief filled his cold heart. Never before had he felt so human, so good.
But one more thought crossed his mind.
“You still aren’t scared of me?”
“Scared of you? What I saw in the Nightosphere was the most heroic display of bravery I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t know who told you that you’re evil. I don’t see an evil bone in your body.”
With that, Marshall had no more questions. His mind was finally at ease. He leaned forward, kissing Fionna softly on the lips.
Fionna and Marshall were day and night, but by being together they had saved each other’s lives, and for once, Marshall Lee felt like the hero, and not the villain.
Suddenly, Fionna pulled back, halting the kiss. She looked at Marshall with a mischievous glint in her eye.
“But, you know… You can still be my bad little boy.”