Throughout the Mushroom Kingdom there is one group you can expect to see over and over again. I am, of course, talking about the group of toads, the ever-faithful retainers to the Mushroom Crown. Also with a smile and a willingness to help, the toad’s presence in Mushroom Kingdom politics is pretty ubiquitous. But not everything is as good as it seems. Recently we tracked down a Toad from the secret “Petticoat Squad,” a group of toads whose sole duty is to protect Princess Peach at any cost. This is his story:
“I just wanted to serve my country,” said the diminutive Toad, taking a swig of a Super Shroom shake. “It started out alright. I was a guard for the chancellor. The action there isn’t as bad as it is with the guys protecting the princess. You wouldn’t believe the ‘turnover’ they get in that group.”
His eyes glazed over as he thought about his past. “It was fantastic. We traveled all over the world– Delfino Island, Bean Bean Land, even Sarasaland. Those were some of the best days of my life. They were exactly like the recruiting office said they’d be. Then things changed,” and his face darkened.
“I was reassigned to Princess Peach’s private guard. It started out simply enough. I was the low man on the totem pole, so I was relegated to the outside of the group. I tried to make friends with the other guys, but they didn’t really want to be friends. Half the time, most of those guys were high out of their minds on 1-Up anyway. I was amazed that the princess would allow such thugs around her, but she didn’t seem to notice. Granted, she seemed to be kidnapped by Bowser almost every week, so it would be hard to notice.
“I also noticed that while there were seven of us assigned to protect Princess Peach, I only ever saw six of us at a time. I wondered where the other guy was, but I knew enough not to ask questions by that point. Questions led to painful reprimands.” He rubbed the back of his head as if remembering some savage blow. “Honestly, I wish I’d never found out where the seventh guy was…” He trailed off, taking another swig of his shake and steeling his courage before continuing.
“About a month into my new reassignment, I was told it was my turn to take point in the defense of the princess.” He shuddered, remembering something horrible. “They stuffed me under her petticoats. Oh, it was still decent and everything, but there were hours and hours trapped in stifling darkness as she went around taking care of Mushroom Kingdom business. It was an uneventful day– not all of them would be– and eventually I was let out. I still have trouble with confined spaces. I couldn’t leave my princess, though. I had a duty to the crown.
“Time seemed to slip away any time it was my turn under the petticoats. My third time, though, things were different. There was a really tense mood that day. I heard something about Princess Peach participating in some sort of tournament. This was commonplace, really. She was always in some sort of golfing tournament or tennis match. I thought nothing about it. But then the unthinkable happened. She started fighting in a deathmatch. I couldn’t believe it. The ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom was fighting a bunch of other people in an event where she could die. It just didn’t seem like the right way for a monarch to act.
“Just as I was finally getting used to the fact that the princess was fighting, what appeared to me to be, a pointless battle, something different happened. A guy wearing a green skirt threw a boomerang at the princess and she… she… she pulled me out to take the hit.”
He broke down sobbing at this point.
“I mean, I know it was my duty to protect her, but she brought me into the situation and then used me as if I were a pawn in some sick and twisted game of chess. The guys weren’t even sympathetic afterwards. They laughed at me and told me to quit being a baby.
“That was it for me. I knew I had to get out. I tried tendering my resignation from the royal guard, but the chancellor wouldn’t even hear of it. ‘It’s your duty to protect the princess, no matter what’ was all he would say. I tried talking to the other guys in the squad, but all they would say was to man up and try taking some 1-Up. I almost did at one point. They say that 1-Up makes you feel as if you’ll be okay no matter what. I also was given some Super Star by the commander because it ‘makes you feel invincible,’ in his words. He even told me that Mario used the stuff from time to time.
“I was sick of it,” he said, his fist slamming the table. “The government was corrupt, and I had to get out of the system. I had some connections outside of the guard, and one evening they managed to smuggle me out of the barracks and to freedom.
“I still have nightmares about my experiences,” he said, lowering his head. “Some nights I dream that she’s fighting Bowser and holding me in front of her to protect herself from his fire breath. It’s an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I know it doesn’t change anything, but I just wanted to get my story out there. People need to know that the Mushroom Kingdom is corrupt if that corruption it ever going to stop. They might track me down, now that I’ve shared my story, but it was still worth it.”
With a mighty swig, he finished off his shake, said his goodbyes, and disappeared into the night.