Chapter 103 = Everything
Disclaimer: All characters here are of my own invention, but the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
35th of Eira, CD 2156; Location Uncertain
While Darkmark had bedded down just inside the forest under the shade of some great trees, he awoke to find himself in a somewhat familiar location – in the Psion’s temple in the Kaftata mountains. Getting to his feet, he looked around, and remembering his last visit, withdrew the orange gem from his saddlebags, looking to the altar.
“Ah, you’re awake…” a voice in his head told him. “You notice I took the liberty of speeding up your journey… this is as far as I could take you. You will have to use the gemstone again to see me.”
Why didn’t you do this sooner?
“I have my reasons, and limits to my strength from down here. Your night with that feral was probably educational to you.”
Darkmark clenched the fist not holding the gem. You watched that?
“Not just me, so did every feral who walked past that open tent flap, but you didn’t notice or mind them.”
Defeated, and somewhat ashamed, the brown Yoshi decided not to pursue the matter further. Hesitating, Darkmark eventually followed Karlo-Shin’s command and stepped up to the altar, the top already a swirling sapphire colour. The moment he placed his hand upon it, he felt himself pulled into the altar, and plunged downwards until there was a bright flash and he found himself standing with Karlo-Shin… and only Karlo-Shin. The rest of the vast structure he had met the other Dark Gods in was empty of people.
The black Yoshi had done away with his cloak, carrying a sword by his side that Darkmark recognized as the one his other self had dropped at the end of their duel earlier in the month. Darkmark had forgotten all about that. What had happened a result of that conflict? What fate might he have condemned another copy of himself to in order for his race to be saved?
Karlo-Shin extended his other hand as Darkmark put the orange gem away, and the brown Yoshi put his hand in Karlo-Shin’s, unsure of what to expect.
Suddenly he felt himself pulled in a direction he had never imagined could exist, and when his vision ceased to be whited out and came back into focus, he was still holding Karlo-Shin’s hand, but the two of them were translucent, and they were back on the surface, but nowhere Darkmark had ever seen, atop a small rock overhang that looked over a large plain. There was no sign of civilization anywhere in sight.
“I brought you – well, your consciousness – here to talk to you without anyone else hearing.” Karlo-Shin explained, gazing at the creatures ambling around that Darkmark had no knowledge of, most of them feeding from the grass. “I needed to wait for an opportune time. Klashkna is amusing himself with the war that has erupted…”
He paused a moment, then continued without turning to Darkmark. “As you know, the Inhabited Lands comprise only a very small portion of Chyrus… the vast majority of the planet is uninhabited by sentient beings, and instead is populated by creatures often told of in legend like dragons, as well as creatures that never made it into the Lands.”
“Eirsir created the Lands to give his creations some protection from the fierce beasts across Chyrus… as he told you, they evolved on their own, adapting to their environment and improving on a God’s designs… and the Yoshies were an experiment to see if his form would do the same.”
“…and?” Darkmark asked, feeling prompted when Karlo-Shin stopped speaking for a moment.
“He did not tell you that part, but it is plain to know. Even if you do not take all of the different sub-races into account, each adapted by Eirsir to a particular environment, yet all sharing certain characteristics… if you only consider the City Yoshies for a moment, it is known that they have changed… their language has changed, their society has changed, their minds and mentalities have changed, even if their bodies have remained the same.”
“I don’t understand. What are you trying to tell me?”
The scene shifted suddenly to somewhere else in Chyrus in the inhabited lands, some city with Yoshies milling around, doing their daily tasks. Karlo-Shin waved a hand in their direction, the two of them hovering a little over a rooftop, though Darkmark knew they were not really in that location. Just his consciousness, or whatever Karlo-Shin had brought here.
“All of these people are made in the image of a God. And yet, they have changed. Quite a lot. Other designs…” Karlo-Shin muttered, waving to a small Yoshian child playing with a pet of some kind, “…have changed much more, even on the physical level. Yet, there is a pattern.”
“You see… what are all these creatures doing? They improve themselves. If they cannot do it physically, they do it mentally, or spiritually; they gain knowledge and they understand more. Why do they do it? Primarily to survive. Those adapted to an environment have a better chance of surviving in it, and the intelligent can manipulate situations to their needs. Do you see it yet?”
“…no, I don’t-”
“Fret not, it took me hundreds of years to see it… consider though, how long this has been going on, and how long it can continue to go on. This technology we have now is considered wonderful, and yet the day will come when it is considered primitive; the day will come when that technology is deemed outdated. It is an endless cycle of self-improvement. One day, we will even leave our home planet. Chyrus will be but one of many worlds we live upon.”
“Were we meant to do that? To eventually-”
Karlo-Shin cut him off. “You are making the assumption… that we were ever given a purpose in the first place.”
Darkmark remained silent, and Karlo-Shin continued to speak. “There is no reason to expect that we were given any purpose or reason to exist, that we have to be here for a particular design or purpose. It is just self-centric thinking, that life has any purpose at all…”
“…then why live?”
“The very question many would ask. And I reply; why not? We may continue to live, to succeed for generations, centuries to come, our descendants carrying on long after we have given up our last breath. You might ask why, if there is no purpose; I ask why not, for the same reason. Many things are infinite, and we do not just give up; I have studied for hundreds of years the way things work and I have still barely scratched the surface, but I continue regardless. I know I will continue forever, or until my consciousness fades and my spirit passes on, and I continue anyway… why? Simply because it is the only true path – self-improvement is a path we all take in life, but also in death. Our spirits persist after death and we still continue to learn; either from observing those still living, from returning to live again, or taking the role of a creator for ourselves…”
“What, you are saying everything is meaningless?”
“Meaning is abstract…” Karlo-Shin replied. “It is what you make it to be. It can have meaning or it cannot, and it is only your perspective, either way. No, I am saying that me…” he placed a hand on his chest, “…you…”, pointing to Darkmark, and then gesturing to the Yoshies below, “…and everyone here… and all the others… everyone is a God.”
Darkmark tried to speak, but his words were a jumbled mess. “Wh-what… you mean… I…”
“Think about it… Eirsir has made mistakes, he has his flaws… and we improve ourselves, we gain knowledge… Eirsir even shares it on occasion… if we were to continue this, what would really separate us? What would keep us apart? Why would we not be his equals?”
“Because I… we… it’s not… I…”
“It is plain to see… if even the Gods are not perfect… then we can become their equals, or better them… it might take eons, but once you see that Gods are not perfect, it becomes clear, neither are we, but we can improve ourselves, as can they. Forget Octotheism… this is Omnitheism.”
“So… what, do…” Darkmark took a moment to compose himself. “Do we… eventually become perfect?”
Karlo-Shin turned his gaze to Darkmark. “What is perfect?”
When Darkmark didn’t answer, Karlo-Shin continued. “A perfect creature wouldn’t need to eat, would it? Nor would it drink. These dependencies are weaknesses, and a perfect creature has none by definition of being truly perfect. What else? It would be fast, amazingly fast, able to go from one place to another in an instant. It would be able to survive any situation, and it would know all things.” He turned fully facing Darkmark, speaking slowly and deliberately. “It would not need to sleep, to breathe, to reproduce… it would never die, and never be born… in fact, a perfect thing would never have even come into existence in the first place. It would not have needed to. A perfect thing would not even be material, since material objects are subject to damage and possess flaws, no matter how well-made they are. Perfection, then, true perfection, cannot be seen, held, detected, or represented in any way except in terms of itself.”
“We cannot become perfect,” Karlo-Shin said, “because perfection is impossible. There is no such thing; it is just an abstract concept. Perfection itself… is non-existence, for simply existing is an imperfection.”
Darkmark forced himself to break his gaze with the black Yoshi, but he could feel those red eyes staring at him nonetheless.
“Do you understand now, Darkmark, what Eirsir is doing?”
“He is learning, just like you or I. He created us, he made Chyrus, as an experiment.”
“Stop…” Darkmark pleaded.
“Eirsir has the same flaws as you or I. He may not have any of the bodily needs or desires that we mortals do, but in the mind he is one of us. All that separates us from him is knowledge. He used that knowledge to be able to weave the energies of our universe to create us, and that is all… God, the Gods, Eirsir, all of them… at heart, they are ordinary people. Most of them were mortals who ascended upon death. And when Eirsir came to a mortal form and mated to produce Sévar, he realized this too. He has an affection for his creations, he loves them… these are emotions, things that people feel! Ordinary people! He cares for us and he wants to help his creations… but with his sword shattered, he cannot. And that means it is up to us, up to the Dark Gods, to become the new Gods, to watch Chyrus and protect it, until the sword is reforged.”
“But I heard the stories, Klashkna-”
Karlo-Shin stepped closer, dropping the volume of his voice conspiratorially. “-is different. I became his subordinate when I thought he was freeing us from human rule, but no, he is something else… when the time comes, Darkmark, we will abandon him and leave him to the judgement of Eirsir and the others. That is why we are speaking here. Eirsir believes you will fulfil the prophecy… Klashkna believes you will help him defeat Eirsir. They both think you will be their champion, and so you were made the Fabled One… everything is held in a balance, and only you can tip it one way or the other. And yet, most likely, neither will happen.”
“W-Why are you telling me this? Did I have to know all this?” Darkmark demanded, trying to keep his breathing under control, his pulse racing, the people below them continuing on their daily business without hearing either of the two Yoshies above them, as though they were not there. Probably, they weren’t.
“Why you? I feel that, while you have much to learn, you might make a fine student… and why am I telling you? Because one armed with knowledge can penetrate fortresses built of ignorance even within his own mind… I want you to remember, as you go back… Saviour, Dark God, Fabled One, these are all but titles… your actions are what will determine who you are, not your titles. Though our voice may one day fade and our bodies long be dust, we must do what we can to ensure our kind survives, even without a driving purpose, for there is no other path to take.”
“…and the humans? Do they fit into all of this? Are they Gods as well?”
“Of course.” Karlo-Shin replied flatly. “They have the potential, at least, but it is up to them if they are to realize it or not. The Koopas, too, and the other races and even the non-sentient creatures, if they are able to learn enough through their lives… while all have potential, not all will take it… but you cannot judge a person on their race, their name, title, or any of this… you will not be leading the Yoshies to win a racial war. You can only judge a person on their actions; without letting perspectives cloud your vision, let the truth guide you… good, bad, light, dark, right, wrong, these are all perspectives… judge by actions alone.”
“Their actions are destroying us. They are starting wars and killing inno-…”
“Innocence is a perception.”
“...killing people only for their self-centered goals.”
“Then remember that as you fight… that is why we must fight… not for freedom or liberty, for the Gods or the Saviours, but to stop the actions of the humans. To protect that which they would destroy. Keep that in mind when you fight, and you will see what your actions must be, so much clearer than they were before.”
To stop their actions… Darkmark mused, collecting his thoughts from the shattered mess Karlo-Shin had left them in.
But… their actions are not the actions of the people… they are actions directed by the leaders and rulers, not the common people… of course. The people never start wars. The leaders always do… so… must I stop the leader…?
I can see how to end this war… the ruler of the humans must be assassinated. And because I hold this knowledge… I have to be the one to do it.
So… this is my destiny, as a Saviour.
“…I… I understand.” Darkmark said quietly. When Karlo-Shin did not reply, Darkmark made an inquiry. “May I ask a question?”
“Do you… did you ever feel love?”
The question brought a small smirk to the lips of the master psion. “I was raised as an assassin. You know from your travels with one that they routinely kill their emotions.”
“But,” Karlo-Shin continued, “It has been many hundreds of years since then. Now… I simply have greater goals. Not to mention that I am imprisoned here.”
“So you’ve never felt the loss…”
“I am sorry for what has happened to you.” Karlo-Shin said, though his flat tone of voice made it hard for Darkmark to tell if he was sincere. “Your recent travels have been pursuing that legend…”
“…it doesn’t exist, does it. The Marble Altar.”
“It exists.” Karlo-Shin said. “And its location is written on an item in your possession.”
“Wh… what?!” came Darkmark’s
outburst, plunging his hand into his saddlebags. There were coins, supplies,
small items, scraps of Vaell… Pulling out a wad of Vaell scraps, one of them caught his eye. Written in
ancient Yoshian, carefully inscribed in his own writing, was the message he had
found on the walls of a cave in the
His suspicions were confirmed when Karlo-Shin snatched the scrap from Darkmark’s hand. “The Altar is linked to Chaos, as you know. Therefore, some very… chaotic things have been known to happen, particularly when it moves. Can you think-”
“That eruption.” Darkmark muttered. “I vaguely remember, close to when I first came here… there was an eruption in the mountains.”
“The result of the altar moving. These symbols,” he said, waving the parchment, “are a sort of precursory warning that the altar was about to appear. You would have found this set of symbols all over those caves if you had explored deeper, most likely.”
“Then… then I know where it is.”
“But can you use it?”
Darkmark paused. “There’s something I don’t know, isn’t there…”
“You may miss your loved ones, those who were taken away. And they in all likelihood miss you. But that is not enough to undo the unavoidable certainty of death…”
“I don’t care.” Darkmark spat, trying to keep his emotions under control. “If there is some test, I will take it, if there is some trial, I will endure it… I want to see them again… even if bringing them back is impossible, I… I just…”
Sighing and dipping his head, Darkmark’s voice fell to a whisper. “I want to say goodbye… to those I never had the chance to see off…”
“Hmph… well. It’s clear you need to get this out of the way before you’ll see the bigger picture.”
“What-” Darkmark began, insulted, but he was cut off.
“They are the past. It is your responsibility now to protect the future. To ensure survival. To make sure that your children and their children have a chance to live. If you don’t, then they will not. It is that simple.”
“Is it so wrong to want what I do?” Darkmark cried. “I have lost everything… everything at the hands of the humans! I want it back! I want to love again! I want to have a body that isn’t scarred with curses! I want things to be peaceful, I want them to be as they used to be…”
“That time is gone now.” Karlo-Shin said coldly. “Forever.”
“…then at least let me say goodbye to it.”
“If it will clear your mind, then I will use my remaining strength for now to send you on your way. But I promise you… you will be headed back on your mission before this day is done.”
Before Darkmark could protest or ask anything else, his vision whited out, and he found himself lying somewhere in the snow on a mountain. He felt cold, not just from the snow, and shivered, taking several moments just to get back to his feet.
Upon looking upwards, he found himself in front of a tunnel in the rock… a faint light at the end of it enticing him to come forwards.
Another one of my journies ends today, he mused, and another one looks like it will begin…
To be continued…