Chapter 106 = Meetings
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.
38th of Eira, CD 2156; Sansata
It was altogether too quiet.
That one thought, over and over, plagued the Baron’s mind as he watched his army roaming the streets of Sansata. As promised, the Vampires had let them into the city, yet not a single guard was to be seen. Had they fled? The blue one, Skafria… he maintained that there was little to no public order in the city, but still, it was unsettling. He placed twice as many sentries on duty just to be sure.
The city was run down too, just as Skafria had said. The human presence in the city avoided them, hiding inside of buildings, around corners… at least they were staying out of the way. It was still uncomfortable to walk around and feel many sets of eyes watching you – it was one of the reasons the Baron was holed up in a guard tower right now, pondering the next course of action…
Later, in the middle of the evening just before the night came, a report came to him; the entire population of Canamiri had shown up at the gates of Sansata as refugees, and had been granted access to the city. He left to meet them, taking the priest Vachez along with him – knowledgeable and serene, like much of the priesthood, he also took a three-year-old adopted child around with him wherever he went. Too young to know what was really going on around him, he mostly either dozed off in Vachez’s arms or played with the toys Vachez gave him.
Tonight was no exception, as the Baron, Vachez, and Tamaroro were lead out to the street where many citizens, carrying personal possessions and supplies of their own, were filing in through the gate. Waiting for them, watching the refugees go past, was a green Yoshi. As he turned to face the visitors, it could be seen that while he had only a few years in his life, perhaps only a little beyond puberty, he had much life in those years – his gaze was not quite cold, but very steady. A soft fabric cloak covered much of his body, and held under one arm was a rather beautiful lyre, perhaps not made of gold but at least painted with it.
The bard gave a respectful nod to the Baron and Vachez, who was cradling Tamaroro. Fascinated by the crowd marching past, the child exclaimed, “Wow, look at all the people!”
“The refugees of Canamiri?” the Baron asked for confirmation, and the bard nodded.
“I could not save Khílhórensol, but I was able to make it to Canamiri ahead of the Dragon Slayers. I was able to convince them of their danger with these…”
Reaching under his cloak, the bard produced a large, jagged-edged and blood-coated sword wrapped with a bloodstained black scarf. Vachez quickly turned Tamaroro away from the sight, as the bard dropped the items onto the ground before the Baron. “A Dragon Slayer’s sword, and the scarf of the priest who impaled himself upon it after seeing his family slaughtered.”
“By the gods…” The Baron whispered, “The Oracles confirmed it for me, but I never personally saw…”
“I didn’t see the act, my lord, but I arrived shortly after. That priest was the only survivor, and he chose to take his own life. I took the sword from his body and his scarf as proof with which to prove my tale…” Playing a few idle notes on his lyre, he added, “For sometimes words alone, even in beautiful song, are not enough.”
“And you convinced the people of Canamiri to flee?”
The bard nodded, turning his aimless string-plucking into a soft melody. “They were reluctant, of course, but the evidence convinced them. I hear the Dragon Slayers are not far behind us, however. They probably felt cheated… hmph. Slay dragons? Pah!” He shouted, playing more fiercely on the lyre. “They just massacre innocents. For decades they have been picking off the sub-races… there are no ferals left in the human lands, the dragon Yoshies were driven away, the winged ones are in a tiny aerie starving to death atop a mountain, and the anthros are having to carefully keep track of their families just to avoid inbreeding!”
It was very hard for him to play a malicious tune on the stringed instrument, but somehow he managed it, silencing the others. Stopping, after a moment he leaned against a nearby wall, staring up into the starry sky. “When I was younger I left my home to see the world. I thought it would be a wondrous thing – but I found that the only wonder is in undisturbed nature. In civilization I see signs of the times everywhere I look – this war was inevitable.”
He looked to the Baron as he played a few notes. “I want to go with you, though I cannot fight. Perhaps I can entertain your forces a little… in this sort of situation people need something to smile about. As for these refugees, they are bitter about the loss of their homes, of course, but only some of them will want to fight. However, I plead that you take care of the Dragon Slayers before moving on, or they will only undo my hard work with an attack on this town.”
“Of course.” The Baron replied. “We can’t move on with a threat like them poised to pounce on us from behind. However, not tonight… we have to find room for all these people, and ways to support them. And I am worried about how easy it was to take over this city… it’s ominous.”
“Probably a trap.” Vachez murmured, though he had expressed this sentiment already. “But we’re in a situation where we have to take the bait and see what happens.”
After a moment of silence, the bard stood back up. “If you need to find me, my name is Élloré Arello. I’m sure you have important things to be doing, but I will be around… perhaps I shall play a lullaby for the little one before I go.”
The Baron hung around until Tamaroro fell asleep from the gentle melody, then headed back up to the room he had commandeered. He was uninterrupted for a short time until another report came in.
“Sir, reinforcements have arrived at the southern end of the city.”
“Several Winged Ones, a few Anthros, and a Dragon Yoshi.”
The Baron leapt over the table his sketched plans were laid out upon, and ran the entire distance to the south of the city, doing his best not to bump into the refugees milling around. There was a crowd at the south end, as expected, but he was let through, and at an intersection of roads he found the group of reinforcements.
There were quite a few Winged Ones, some of them perching on the roofs of nearby buildings to make space below. They carried spears and chatted idly, taking a break after their flight to the city. There were only about five or six anthros, but at the front of the group was one more, though she was a cross between an anthro and a winged one, holding a pike. Beside her stood a brown Yoshi with large, dragon-like wings though the membranes were black just like the fins on the back of his head, and he carried a sword – apparently the leader, he came forward to greet the Baron. The most curious thing about him, though, was that his eyes glowed red with light.
“Ah, yes…” he said with an air of recognition, even though the Baron didn’t remember if he had met this person before or not. “My name is Darkmark, and I bring a few reinforcements, along with myself. I hope to aid you in the upcoming battles.”
“It is very much appreciated,” The Baron replied, “But… who are you? I have the feeling we’ve met before…”
Darkmark shook his head. “That must have been someone else. I’m just a travelling fighter… I have some skill and intend to lend myself to your cause.”
“Very well.” The Baron murmured, and left to organize the winged ones. Darkmark began to leave, but he didn’t get very far when someone called out to him.
“Hey! You come all the way out here from wherever you’ve been and don’t even stop to say hello?”
Whirling around, the brown Yoshi finally saw the speaker; leaning on a building in the shadows, looking at him with his cloak wrapped around his body, a blue Yoshi with small fangs…
“Imagine meeting you here.” Darkmark muttered coldly.
Skafria tried to sound amiable. “I could very much say the same. You’re looking a bit different, but that’s to be expected with you nowadays… where’ve you been?”
“Here, there, everywhere.” Came the reply, accompanied by a vague hand gesture. “Down south mostly. Where’s your friend?”
“She’s nearby, and… she’s not my friend, she’s my fiancée.”
“I can’t have heard that right.”
“To tell you the truth… well, you’re an uncle now, too. An honorary one, at least.”
Standing in stunned silence, Darkmark watched as Tsi-Lau came around the corner, holding an egg in her arms.
Skafria spoke again. “I’m sorry for how things turned out between us down there, but I hope you’re still my friend. If anything happens to me, I want you to take care of my child.”
“That…” Darkmark stuttered, taking a deep breath, staring Tsi-Lau in the eyes, putting a hand on the hilt of his sword. “How can you… after what you did to me, now you have a child, and you want me to be its guardian? I ought to destroy it!”
“You wouldn’t.” Skafria said flatly, almost knowingly. After a moment of silence, he continued, “I know you… we grew up together, and I understand you. You wouldn’t be able to do it. Even if your own painful memories didn’t stop you, you couldn’t destroy an egg, regardless of its parentage, because it’s innocent. And because you felt the pain of seeing yours destroyed… you couldn’t do that to anyone. Not even her.”
There was another period of silence, eventually broken by the brown Yoshi as he dipped his head, his hand falling from the hilt of his sword. “…you’re right.” Darkmark sighed, leaning against the wall next to Skafria. “I’m sorry.”
Skafria shook his head, and Tsi-Lau spoke. “You’re not the one who should be sorry… with the original perpetrator dead, the only one who can apologize for what happened that day is me… I hope you can forgive me.”
“Hmph… I forgive you. You didn’t actually do it… you just watched. And… I already took my revenge on you for that, when I broke your neck and left you for dead in the castle of that wizard.”
“You… really forgive me?”
Slowly, Darkmark withdrew his sword, his face illuminated in the light it gave off in the presence of the two vampires, who withdrew from it a little. “There’s something more important now, something that requires these petty issues to be resolved… the only hope for our race is in unity, to come together and fight as one. Not just in war, but if our survival is to be guaranteed, we must be together. We all have things we want to protect… you have your child, I have found people to protect, and I will fight to do so.”
Sheathing the sword, Darkmark strode over to Tsi-Lau and placed his hand on the egg gently. “If anything happens to you, then yes, I’ll raise it for you, but I’d rather that didn’t happen.”
Skafria gave a smile and put his hand on Darkmark’s shoulder. “It looks like we’ll fight at each others’ sides again, my old friend.”
Darkmark nodded. “Against a common enemy with thousands of others behind us, for a common cause… tomorrow, we will fight.”
To be continued…