With a pinging noise, Mario and Luigi found themselves in Castle Bleck once more. They were both sweating, having traipsed through the maze-like castle and been forced to go through bits of worlds they'd already been to.
"Enjoying my game of tag?" came the mocking query.
Mario and Luigi got into their battle stances as Dimentio spoke up from his position on the floor. For once, he wasn't floating, but was standing casually in front of them.
"Hey! Stop messing around and fight us for real!" Luigi shouted, balling his fists.
Dimentio's smile widened and he cocked his head. "Messing around? Oh no. Magic is no laughing matter. I am always deadly serious." The jester straightened and stood a little taller. "I have been watching you. You are the only ones who can stand up to Count Bleck. So…I have a favor to ask." His smile vanished and he suddenly looked completely serious. "Will you help me…destroy the Count?"
Mario and Luigi blinked in shock, while Tippi gasped. "What are you talking about?! You want to betray him?!" "I don't want to destroy him in the first place…" she added to herself.
Dimentio smiled again, but it was a bitter and angry one. "Betray him? Ah ha ha ha, oh, no. It is Count Bleck who has betrayed ME!" He met Mario's eyes, seeing his shock and projecting outrage into his own gaze. "He said he would destroy all worlds and create a new, perfect world in their place. But he was lying! There are no perfect worlds! He plans to obliterate every world, and then keep them all in ruin!"
He paused, taking a deep breath and trying to control the volume of his voice. Once again, everyone was flabbergasted. Tippi forgot to fly for a moment and almost dropped down to the floor.
"That's right…" Dimentio nodded, holding his hands out in a gesture of supplication. "I have always known about his nefarious goal. I joined him because he promised that we would all have our own perfect worlds, places where we could be accepted just the way we are. He lied to me…and if I can't have what I want, then I must try to get it another way. He must be stopped."
Mario nodded. He could see a vulnerability to Dimentio that he had never shown before.
"But I could never hope to stop him on my own," the jester continued, encouraged. "Once I found out his true intentions, I started to feign loyalty to him as I searched for someone who could defeat him beside me. You see…This is why…" He paused, thinking about how to phrase his next words. "I've been helping you all along."
"Eh? You have?" Luigi asked, frowning.
Tapping his chin, Dimentio started to count on his fingers. "Yes. I rescued the princess when she was about to be brainwashed, and sent her to Flipside where you were sure to find her. It's also why I sent you so suddenly to the Underwhere, because I knew it would take a great power to fix the broken Pure Heart. Sorry about that, by the way. I did the same thing to Luigi to free him from his Mr. L persona. I have never actually harmed any of you, as you are clearly not dead." He frowned, clenching his hands against his puffy pants. His face displayed an open honest quality, because, unbeknownst to the heroes, he was not lying to them. "Now do you see?"
Mario grimaced in thought, looking at his brother. Luigi looked similarly thoughtful.
"You've…You've been helping us all this time?" Tippi asked, not daring to believe it.
"Indeed. You would have been stuck without me, like a catchy song you can't get out of your head. How would you ever have gotten far while missing two heroes of prophecy as well as being unable to proceed after the Pure Heart turned to stone?" The jester met Mario's scrutiny evenly. "Now, it is time, and I must ask you to return the favor. Together, we can stop him." He held out his hand beseechingly. "Please…"
"Mario, wait!" Tippi cried out, seeing that Mario was considering accepting. "Are you sure you can trust him? I don't believe all this…"
Dimentio fisted his outstretched hand against his chest. "You don't believe me? What more can I do to convince you?" he said, with hints of anger, fear, and hurt in his mismatched eyes.
Tippi shook herself. "No, you're lying! You just want to trick us!"
"No…I am tired of being an outcast, of being someone to laugh at and hurt." He narrowed his eyes at her, burning her with the honest feelings in his gaze. "You don't know the meaning of suffering. Even if I can't have a perfect world of my own, I cannot let the existing worlds be destroyed. If Count Bleck is not stopped, we will all cease to exist, even him."
"I…" Tippi faltered.
"Tell me… Would you rather have an Underwhere for him to exist in, or have him not exist at all?" He hesitated, before revealing more of himself in a soft voice. "I…would rather not see him hurt either. He has been kind to me as others have never been…. But! Even if he wanted to, it is too late to stop. I'm afraid the only way to banish the Void is to kill the wielder of the Chaos Heart…"
"N-No…This can't…" Her will gave out, and she started to sink. Mario caught her and gently cupped her in his hands.
Dimentio gave her a strong, sympathetic look. "It's the only thing that can be done. I don't like it either, but…I am certain he would understand…"
Tippi shook violently in Mario's hands. She looked up at him, hoping he would object, but that hope deflated when he nodded, saying he agreed with Dimentio. "So that's it, huh? We have to?" Luigi asked, bearing a determined expression.
Dimentio nodded slowly, looking down at the floor. Tippi sobbed.
Luigi huffed, jostling shoulders with his bro. "Alright Bro, let's do this. You with us Dimentio?"
Dimentio perked up a bit. "Of course! I cannot do it alone. I…must thank you…" He bowed low, displaying his gratitude. The castle rumbled violently, reminding them that time was running out. "Ah, we had best hurry…" He stuck out his hand again, and this time Mario shook it.