A/N: MonkeyMindScream thought up the original concept, which I totally mangles.
Skeleton King's new castle was a monster to navigate, filled to the brim with hallways that all looked the same and formless staff that couldn't offer directions. The towering walls were pure bone, polished so heavily one could see their reflection in it, making the structure even more akin to a confounding house of mirrors.
Mandarin realized he should have been more frustrated than he was, lost in his own home base with nobody but his reflection to talk to, but he found himself less motivated to get outside and take part in battle the more and more he wandered. Between the constant barrage of resentment came the occasional question: Why was he doing any of this? When had his loyalties shifted from wanting to rule Shuggazoom himself to being perfectly content as an underling? He tried to pinpoint when he'd made that compromise, but everything before he'd taken his most recent form seemed to blur together. He turned to the closest wall and stared at the mangled visage that was his reflection.
Until it wasn't.
"You simple fool!"
"WAH!" Mandarin jumped a foot in the air when his reflection in the wall changed into that of his dead comrade, Valina. She looked just as disappointed in him as she had when she was alive. "So, your soul remains, witch? I wasn't sure you possessed one."
"You're one to talk! You're nothing but a husk of an idea, Clone!"
"Do not" Mandarin's fist smashed into the wall with no avail, "call me that!"
"Oh, so you're trying to forget now, Mandarin? Are you really such a fool as to have convinced yourself that you are something more than Skeleton King's pawn?"
"You're the one who chose to be a pawn, you overzealous, pathetic human!"
"And look at what my sacrifice has wrought!" Valina cackled. "Shuggazoom writhes in shambles!"
"And you cannot rest even in death!" Mandarin examined Valina's crooked smile. "You… you're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Vastly! Praise the Skeleton King for his wise choice to free my spirit! Now, after my great efforts, I can be everywhere and nowhere! I'm free to watch what we have started play out! I've seen numerous enemies fall to the Dark Lord's might! I've counted their tears and seen their bloodshot eyes moments before their demise! I've heard last words – so hopelessly sentimental – cut off by pure bloodlust! I-!"
"Alright, I get it, you crazy sorceress!" Mandarin waved Valina off and resumed roaming the halls, but Valina continued to walk beside him in the mirrored wall like it was a casual Sunday stroll. "If there is so much to see, then go see it! Leave me be!"
"Oh, but watching you play pretend is much more interesting than any of that, Mandarin."
"What exactly do you mean by that?"
"Your inner torment is written all over your features; your pathetic desire to be more than just the pawn you know you are. You talk of me as if I was a fool in life, but I knew who I was, Mandarin! I was ready to sacrifice everything for the Skeleton King! Look at you, wandering these halls, pretending to be lost so you don't have to face your destiny!"
"I said leave me be, witch!" Valina's image vanished, but her laughter continued to echo through the chambers as Mandarin finally made his way to the West exit. He looked out upon the war-torn landscape… Shuggazoom, which was meant to be his. "I'll show you destiny," he murmured, looking back into the castle one last time. "I refuse to be met with such a predictable fate."