Chapter 107 = Backwards
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.
39th of Eira, CD 2156; Just outside Sansata
How did this happen?
Time seemed to stand still around Darkmark for a moment, in the middle of what had been a battlefield until a few moments ago… the bodies of the Dragon Slayer squad scattered amongst the fallen Yoshian soldiers, a true scene of slaughter, ending as was laid out right in front of Darkmark.
Buried up to the hilt in the body of one armoured soldier, the tip having punched a hole in the plate, was the bloody, jewel-encrusted sword of the Baron of Lince. And equally morbidly, protruding from the chest of the late Baron himself, was the jagged sword of another Dragon Slayer, the one who Darkmark had cut down a moment too late. Already deceased, the heirless leader of the Yoshies lay dead on the cold ground…
This wasn’t supposed to happen!
Almost panicking, Darkmark’s mind drove out the sounds of the wind blowing past him, the cries of the injured calling for medical attention, friends and family mourning their losses, and the sad tune of a lyre from close to where Darkmark stood.
It had all been so fast. The sentries had reported the incoming charge, and the army left the city to meet them, their spellcasters and archers staying on the castle walls to pick off the intruders, it seemed simple enough to repel the attack, but it had gone awry…
Some kind of spell had been cast over the attackers, rendering them immune to the spells and arrows being rained upon them. The mostly conscripted Yoshian army stood little chance against the well-trained Dragon Slayers, though they numbered barely fifty. Only the Baron himself and the well-trained elite guards of Lince had much of a chance, and with aid from the two vampires and Darkmark, it seemed that they might win after all, even though they were doing almost all the work. Most definitely, if they had not been there, it would have been a crushing defeat. Even with their aid, their casualties had still been many…
But then, so quickly… the Baron thrust his sword through the plate armour, the fine-pointed tip bursting through… and in the same second, the Baron impaled on the sword of another armoured soldier, falling onto his back coughing blood… within the next second, Darkmark slammed into the assailant with a jolt of psionic energy, knocking him off his feet, before Darkmark thrust his sword through a gap in the armour at his neck…
And there, as now, he stood, the Baron already dead by the time Darkmark had turned around, beyond all hope. How long he had been standing there, he didn’t know… at some point, the bard had come over and begun playing a sad melody, some of the elite guardsmen had gathered around their fallen liege, and the Baron’s advisors had emerged from behind the walls, whispering to one another…
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, the brown Yoshi turned, snapped back to reality in a sudden rush. Skafria stood there, and never in Darkmark’s entire life had he seen his comrade with an expression as serious as the one he wore now. In his inattentive state Darkmark had failed to notice an enormous crowd surrounding him, possibly the entire army, and his sword was still bloody.
“Darkmark… we need a new leader.”
It was obvious from his tone what he meant, but Darkmark shook his head and replied, “I’m not… I can’t lead-”
“Yes you can!” Skafria insisted, grabbing Darkmark’s other shoulder and shaking him. “Or have you forgotten who you are?”
Uncomfortable in the sudden silence and the many eyes gazing on him, Darkmark concentrated his gaze on the vampire. “I…”
Sensing a less than favourable reply coming, Skafria shook Darkmark again to stifle it. “You’ve been chosen! Why are you hiding it? This is your destiny… as a Saviour!”
He had to say that word, didn’t he…
Darkmark stood and stared the blue Yoshi in the eyes, hearing whispers all around him. The Yoshies need a leader, they need someone to guide them in their hour of darkness, to lead them through the dark so they might survive to see the light…
Silently, Darkmark reached back to his saddlebags, rummaging for a moment before taking out the light octagram. The whispers around him only intensified, as he stepped away from Skafria, slowly raising the object high up above him, where it caught the sunlight and shone brightly. The rays glinting off of it lifted the heads and spirits of those around him, and even Darkmark himself felt something, a feeling of importance, as though he were beginning to meet his destiny…
“I’m taking command of the army.” He said loudly and clearly. “We’re going to march straight for the capital, and we’re going to end this war before it has a chance to truly begin.”
Somewhere between Sansata and Londimay
After burying the dead, the army had set out with renewed vigor, hastily gathering up whatever supplies they could from the city. Marching until dark, they finally set up camp out by the road between cities.
Along with the soldiers, medics, advisors, the enigmatic bard, and the priest who had been the Baron’s most recent advisor, the army had brought along their prisoner of war at Vachez’s recommendation. Still being stubborn even with the bard’s attempts to ease his heart through song, Darkmark was taking his turn attempting to get the anthro Yoshi to reveal something about himself to no avail. He’d even tried reading the prisoner’s mind, but it was filled only with hatred and anger towards his captors and not so much as an idle thought about himself.
I give up. Darkmark thought to himself after much futility. This is harder than fighting assassins and vampires! I’d rather pick another duel with Xenly than go through this!
“Fine. Your silence speaks louder than your words.” Darkmark muttered, starting to exit the tent. Aside from Mikhail, whose hands were bound behind his back, Vachez and Élloré were there to observe, and both were grateful that Mikhail had decided to literally be silent rather than unleash his usual tirade of uncouth language at them.
On the way out, Darkmark bumped into the Salína, the winged-anthro crossbreed Skafria had once rescued from Dragon Slayers. While Darkmark had been trying to recruit help from the anthros, so they could be carried by the winged ones out of the mountains to aid in the war, she had decided to join and go with them. A sort of dark pink in scale colour, with long red hair, she had brought along a sizeable pike to fight with, something Darkmark thought better not to ask about.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you.” Darkmark apologized.
“It’s fine.” She replied, looking into the tent. Blinking in surprise, she turned back to Darkmark abruptly. “Who’s that anthro? I’ve never seen him before!”
“Apparently his name is Mikhail, and that’s the only thing he’ll tell us.” Darkmark paused for a moment, then bitterly added, “The only civil thing he’ll tell us. He’ll be more than happy to give a full and detailed opinion of what he thinks of your personage and ancestry.”
As she went back to looking at him, Darkmark bid farewell and headed off to walk off his frustration. Soon, Salína entered the tent, which did not go unnoticed by Mikhail. Turning with his usual sour expression on his face, he took a sharp breath when he saw her, doing a double-take.
“Don’t waste your breath.” Vachez said quietly, looking up at her. “Ever since he was captured he’s either said nothing or nothing worth hearing.”
“But I live in the Anthro’s village!” Salína exclaimed, turning back to Mikhail, who was looking puzzled. “There are barely any of us elsewhere! I want to know where he came from!”
“Our best guess is the human lands.” Élloré said, not looking up from his pages of music, flicking through them idly. “He has their style of armour and weapons, was commanding their soldiers, fights like them, and has their level of tact and decency.”
Salína shook her head. “But that doesn’t make any sense… he’s clearly a full-breed anthro, and there are hardly any in the human lands! It’s unfeasible that there’d be a pairing!”
Bitterly, Élloré spoke. “And so it shall forever remain a mystery.”
Persisent, Salína looked to Mikhail once more. “Mikhail, was it? Tell me! Tell me where you came from!”
“I…” he started. Vachez and Élloré exchanged glances behind him, but remained silent. “I was raised in the castle at Telkyte.”
Suddenly, his expression became sour again, and he turned on her. “And I ended up there because I was abandoned! You all left me, you abandoned me! I want nothing to do with you!”
“Go away!” he shouted, struggling against his bonds. “When I get free, I’m going to kill all of you f-”
Vachez immediately got up and gagged him as quickly as he could. “That’s enough of you for today, I think.” He muttered as he knotted the gag.
“But I need to talk to him!”
“I suggest then that you try again tomorrow.” Vachez replied, returning to his seat. “Once he gets like this, that’s it for the day.”
Salína sighed deeply, turning around and starting to leave, but took a final glance over her shoulder before she did.
“Who are you…”
To be continued…