Chapter 110 = End In Sight
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.
17th of Jallora, CD 2156; Yoshian camp near Telkyte
“It is time, everyone. The final battle is almost here.”
Darkmark was holding another strategy meeting with his ‘advisors’ – the Baron’s previous advisors, for their experience, and his friends for their insight. Even Mikhail was present at meetings now, the anthro Yoshi having changed dramatically since his recapturing in Londimay. He and Salína were almost inseparable, and he had become a lot more ambient, answering the questions of Darkmark and the others, though he became very bitter when questioned about his past with the humans.
The painful times of harsh training and isolation were behind him now, and he had begun to show feelings, to smile, to laugh, and let the emotional wall between him and the world crumble. Deemed trustworthy, he had been allowed to keep his equipment, even the sword he had become so accustomed to.
Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap…
Mikhail’s drastic transformation left questions flowing through everyone’s mind. He had been hatched and raised among the humans, yet he was not truly evil; was this the same for so many others? Darkmark’s brief encounters as Marcus with Visali’s human friend back in Corvan reminded Darkmark that it was still possible for a friendship to exist between the two races. While somewhat comforting, it made the prospect of a final battle all the more daunting.
For this reason, the Yoshian army had bypassed attempting to capture the city of
No matter how we attack, we have to go through a residential area, and that means civilian casualties… innocents who just want to get on with their lives. The rulers start wars, but the people fight them, and pay with their lives…
Darkmark snapped out of his momentary daze, the others in the crowded tent awaiting his speech.
“We face a number of problems in this final assault. Firstly, the majority of the remaining human army is still resident in the city, standing by to attack. They outnumber us badly and are better trained, even with their elite forces eliminated in Sansata. Secondly, any attack we make will take us through the residential area, and even without siege weapons civilian casualties are likely.”
Tap, tap… tap, tap, tap, tap…
Salína nodded, speaking up. “None of these people are evil… most of them are fighting because they believe they can protect their families, or they have been misguided by those in power.”
“Yes, those in power.” Élloré repeated, twirling his flute in his fingers absently as he thought. “If we can eliminate the commanders, would the others surrender?”
“We lost our leader,” Skafria reminded them, “but we continued on. However, our circumstances were different.”
“The commanders in this case are the king and his council.” Darkmark stated. “They are ultimately responsible for all of this, and if anyone is deserving a death sentence today, it is them. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem… they are most likely in the castle, in the very center of the city.”
“This may come as no surprise, but I suggest something less than an attack with the army.” Tsi-Lau said. Skafria was beside her, and he was holding their egg, which was moving a bit in his arms as he tried to hold it steady. “I regret not having any assassins under my command, as they are still neutral, but I think our best option is a stealthy assault on the castle with just a few people.”
“An assassination attempt?” Vachez inquired.
“Exactly.” She replied, looking around the room. “It makes the most sense. For one thing, we’re outnumbered and they have walls and no doubt other defences. Avoiding combat, we can prevent civilian casualties. We can go straight for the castle, get inside, assassinate the leaders, and get out. If they launch an attack, pretty much everyone else will still be at this camp on guard.”
Tap, tap, tap…
“Would that work, though?” Darkmark asked.
“It did a thousand years ago when Karlo-Shin did it to the Koopas.” Vachez interjected. Tamaroro was sleeping on the priest’s saddle, thoroughly bored by the serious talk.
On cue, the voice of the master psion spoke in Darkmark’s head. And it could work again. You could even do it yourself.
“I’m not going alone!” Darkmark replied, unaware he was speaking aloud.
“Nobody said you were.” One of the baron’s advisors mumbled, looking at Darkmark curiously.
“Uh… sorry. Then, who will go?”
“I will, of course.” Tsi-Lau said. “This is what I’ve been trained for.”
“I’m going too.” Skafria added hurriedly, having trouble keeping hold of the egg. “With our shielding we can run without fear of being shot from behind or anything. And I haven’t fought with you in too long…”
“I’m staying here.” Said Élloré.
Vachez nodded in agreement. “I will too. I’m not a fighter like you are.”
“I’ll go.” Salína spoke in a quiet voice. “I can fly, I should be able to help…”
“If you’re going, I am too.” Mikhail cut in quickly, looking at her. “I’ll protect you no matter what. Plus I know my way around the castle.”
Tap… tap, tap…
“Then it’s dec-…” Darkmark fell silent, looking around the room. “Where is that incessant tapping noise coming from?”
The others also held their tongues, silence falling over the tent. Looking around, the sound was quickly pinpointed, as a crack formed in the spotted eggshell in Skafria’s arms. Hurriedly he knelt and placed it on the floor, all eyes fixed upon it in awe and expectation, the parents moving close to it.
Bouncing a little as the creature inside struggled at the shell, the crack widened, others forming, little pieces of the pinky-purple spotted shell breaking off here and there. The noise even woke Tamaroro, who joined in watching it curiously, the egg’s movements getting more violent, the shell becoming more fragile, until a tiny hand broke out of the shell, the same colouring as the shell spots. Clumsily smacking at the hole and making it bigger, the hatchling broke the shell into two, the remnants tipping over and sending the baby tumbling out onto the floor.
Skafria was the first to bend down and pick it up, cradling it in his arms for a moment with a wide smile on his face. After a few moments, he gently held it in one arm, running his fingers over its lower belly firmly to determine its gender, holding it out to his partner afterwards. “It’s a female.” He said proudly, as she took it from him.
“Then it’s called Siniera… hello, Siniera~.” Tsi-Lau crooned, unable to stop herself from smiling, the two vampires close to one another, the others crowding in to get a look at the newly-hatched child. It looked like a normal Yoshi hatchling, except that it, too, was clearly a vampire: she possessed fangs the same size as those of her parents’, and the fins on the back of her head were dark red-black from the Volzia inside of her. Her wide eyes looked around the room curiously, squinting as she tried to focus the untrained eyes on things around it, keeping close to her mother.
“Today’s meeting is adjourned.” Darkmark said, as the others became progressively more distracted. “Congratulations, Skafria… I guess you won’t join me, then?”
The blue vampire looked up at the sound of his name, shaking his head, still smiling wide. “No, I’m definitely going with you now. And I’m going to return, too. I’ve got my daughter to fight for… I need to do whatever I can to make sure the world she grows up in is peaceful.”
“I never want her to have to fight.” Tsi-Lau said loudly, hugging her child tightly. “Siniera… I’ll stain my hands one final time so that you never have to.”
As Élloré began to play an uplifting melody on his flute, Vachez carefully reached over and placed a hand on the hatchling’s bulbous nose. “May the gods smile upon this newly hatched child, and give it their blessings for as long as it shall live…”
As the others fawned over the child, Darkmark became lost in his thoughts once more. Not just for Siniera… for all those who lost their lives, for all the lives not yet lost, for those not even born, I will fight… for everyone Marcus lost… for Skafria, Siniera, Tsi-Lau, and all those around me… for Setskitina… and for the children I have not yet had… tonight, I’ll fight to protect you all, I’ll meet my destiny, I’ll become the Saviour people have prayed for.
Tonight, everything will come to a close.
To be continued…