Koopas are usually seen as arrogant when portrayed in popular culture, and this is for a reason. Kenneth was never quite sure of what the reason was, but he knew that he lived up to the stereotype without even trying. Something about his imposing, yet implausibly attractive build, or his upbringing, or his tone whenever he spoke, or maybe even his mannerisms. He didn’t know what it was, but something about him put off an air of knowing everything, having done everything, and just in general arrogance. It was a part of his personality that he loathed, and yer so few knew that part of his psyche. Most assumed that was just who he was, and though some took the time to get to know him and thusly befriended the muscular, hunky koopa, others just wrote him off as a real piece of work. It bothered Kenneth, to be so easily written off because he had no idea he was doing something wrong. That was all going to be changed if he had any say about it.
Fortunately for him, some other benefactor felt the same way.
It wasn’t going to be a slow change if this benefactor, this mystery being whom kicks off the story with little more than a push. A nudge. A gentle shove in the right direction, or rather what he perceived to be the right direction, for Kenneth. Something that would knock the koopa down several pegs, at least he hoped. If it backfired, then he would have other plans for the smug reptile, but those could wait if he needed them to. It was more an experiment for him; he was toying with Kenneth and his teetering emotions. The koopa was right in a spot that few ever attained; knowing something was wrong and wanting to fix it, yet unable to figure out just what to do in order to do that. It made him malleable, easy to control, and most important for the villain of sorts in this tale, even easier to manipulate.
Kenneth never saw it coming, and that was what made the trickery so subtle. It was the plainest, oldest trick in the book in the unknown being’s mind, and yet the koopa would never be any the wiser for the other’s involvement. It was as if he had never been there; nothing could be traced back to him. Of course, he may want it to at some point, so he did get a record of the moment that the switch flipped in his ‘victim, of sorts. It was mostly for posterity in his mind though, for there was no reason to keep it aside from that. Who would care that he had turned a seemingly harmless reptile into something else? Absolutely no one, aside from a select few in his social circles, and even they would be hard-pressed to care. It was for his own record, and if he ever wanted to claim his work. That was that, and that would be all it ever was.
The trick? It was food.
A hint of another helping was all it took to shove the koopa over the edge. No magic, no persuasion aside from a little nudge, no powders, nothing… It was a very simple suggestion alone that took Kenneth and made him far more than he was, quite literally. A remark about ordering more timed with a coupon in his hand and a very depressing, long day at both school and his summer job was all that was needed. The timing of it all, as well as the observation needed to alter one’s life with such ease was something that the mystery being would never give away, but it was a skill he had honed into a work of art. Kenneth was going to be his magnum opus if he had any say in the matter as well, but time would tell if that was going to be the case. Instead, the benefactor simply gave the nudge that was needed and vanished, a ghost in the wind if there ever was one.
All that remained was Kenneth, and his newfound desire for a second helping. This helping came in short order too, another tray full of food free of charge from the serving otter behind the counter. It wasn’t needed, and it wasn’t necessarily wanted. It was much more just something he felt like he had to do; even something he was doing out of sheer boredom and a need to push back what he was feeling at that moment. It wasn’t depression, it wasn’t stress, it was some amalgamation of those two feelings into something he couldn’t quite explain. There was a lot to it, and the reptile had no idea where to even begin after the day he had had. Work was utter hell, his parents had called to chastise him about his grades, a class had seen him forget an assignment thanks to being up late the previous night, and all in all the dreary weather had taken the events of the day and turned them into something even worse. The koopa wasn’t in a good place, and as he stared blankly down at the food which he had ordered without even thinking, part of him wanted to be sick.
A bigger part picked up his fork and brought the food to his lips, and that part of him was going to win. The benefactor had been sure of this, and it was clearly showing as one forkful became three, and before long it was just a blur of motion. Few could ever say to have attacked a plate with such gusto, but a switch had been flipped in the koopa. Between his first bite and his second, something had cracked in his brain. It was small, like the first splinter in a tree toppling over, but that was all that it took. There was no looking back for him as more and more of his meal passed through his lips. It flew threw his jaws, barely being chewed before it was swallowed and forced down into his rapidly-filling stomach. He didn’t even know what he was doing, just that he felt like he was filling a hole in himself. There was something about pushing the food into his mouth over and over again in order to stuff down the feelings he was suffering with. Something in the feeling of glutting himself; it was an aspect of his life which he could control. He could always tell himself to stop, to have more, to have less… It was a sole piece of reality which he could manage, and that was a feeling which the koopa relished. He didn’t have it in many other parts of his existence, and now that he had found his one part, he wanted to hold onto it.
Of course, his tray emptied all too quickly, and as if possessed he grabbed a third one. He wanted to eat himself into a stupor; he wanted it. It was a feeling which he had never had before, and one that he craved to have because it was one he could give himself. Kenneth was going to get it too, even if he was going to be sick along the way. The fork clattered on the plate as he dropped it in his haste to eat, and he began to just shove the food in with straining paws. He was already so full, so stuffed from his thoughtless eating, and yet he ate on. Small tears were forming on the sides of his eyes, and the few onlookers to his needless gluttony were looking away with silent, stunned expressions. Most knew Kenneth as something else, and seeing him in such a state was shocking. The koopa hardly gave it a thought though; the moment he was in was his alone. He needed it, he wanted it, he exalted it, he craved it, and above all he was controlling it.
Or rather it was controlling him.
He just wouldn’t realize that yet, as that is a tale for another time.