Chapter 111 = Infiltration
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; Telkyte
The night seemed peaceful. Even with combat looming on the horizon in the form of the Yoshian camp, the guards of Telkyte continued on their patrols along the walls, the streets kept quiet through martial law. There were many flickering lights at the camp as the sentries kept lighting new fires and putting out old ones to give the guards something to look at. Some of their spellcasters were casting simple, flashy spells to get the attention of the distant onlookers, as well.
And as they did, the darkness and their distraction enabled the party of five would-be assassins to approach the walls from a wide angle. There was little cover in the grasslands, perhaps the occasional small hill or mound of dirt, so they progressed quickly. In front, Darkmark kept his eyes on the walls, ready to make the group stop if the guards seemed to notice them. The two vampires were flitting close to him as small bats, and Mikhail and Salína brought up the rear, the former walking carefully to move as silently as he could.
Their first move was for Skafria and Tsi-Lau to fly up close to the nearest guards, causing them further distraction. Passing within a few inches of the helmeted faces, the guards took swipes with their hands and swords to no avail, looking away from the ground long enough for the other three to dash close and press themselves up against the high stone walls.
From there, staying close to the wall as they moved, they made their way to one of the gates leading into the city. It was closed, of course, and very thick, carved wood from one of the giant trees in the forests to the west – but still wooden, and Darkmark’s enchanted sword sliced through it easily, cutting a hole for them to get through. After sneaking inside, staying in the shadows, Mikhail pulled the cut-out block of the gate up from the ground and did his best to replace it, the darkness obscuring the seam where the silver sword had effortlessly cut through.
They quickly ran from shadow to shadow between the buildings, the haphazard layout of the streets giving them a great advantage. There were not so many guards inside of the city, making the patrols a little easier to avoid, but they still stepped lightly over the paved streets in the residential areas, avoiding the few lighted buildings whose residents were up late. They could already see their target, the imperial castle in the center of the city, surrounded by another, albeit smaller set of walls. The group was approaching on foot on Mihkail’s advice, as the stronghold was protected from teleports and other such intrusions.
The red-scaled anthro took the lead, guiding the others through the darkened streets. What he remembered of the patrol schedules hadn’t changed much, though he had always been kept locked in his room during the night. But the streets were still the same, and he was able to lead them through side streets and dark alleys, making their journey easier.
While he was focused on his task, and Salína on keeping up, Darkmark’s thoughts were in turmoil. This is it, this is finally it… what have I gotten myself into? Barely two months ago, I was somebody else entirely, and now I’m leading an assassination party to try and stop a war from truly starting… will it work? Will I be able to finish my journey after this?
Setskitina… will I be able to see you again?
If I live through this, I have a plan…
“Hey.” Mikhail said quietly, bringing Darkmark out of his thoughts. “We’re here. Where are your friends?”
The brown Yoshi looked up and scanned the skies, clouds obscuring the stars. After a few seconds, he caught movement among the inky blackness as nearby torch light illuminated something, and soon the pair of bats came down to their position, transforming back to vampire Yoshies in the shadows with the rest of the group.
“Well, so far, everything’s going to plan.” Darkmark observed, glancing around.
“We can’t keep the stealth act up forever.” Mikhail said in a hushed tone. “The insides of the castle are much more heavily patrolled. They have prisoners in the basements and they want to keep an eye out for groups like ours.”
Skafria cut in. “Don’t worry. If we get ambushed, me and Tsi-Lau will keep them held off. They can’t hurt us, after all. You’ll have to run ahead without us, so try not to get caught more than once.”
“We need to get moving, regardless.” Darkmark reminded them. “What’s our next move?”
“These walls are mostly for decoration. There are no gates like the outer walls, just gaps where the roads are, so that’s easy enough. There’s a large plaza in front of the main entrance. It’s open, but the fastest way, and we can stick to the edges.”
“Well then, let’s go…”
“Amazing. They’re going through with it.”
Deep in a trance, Karlo-Shin scried on the party as they continued their infiltration, watching from the Underworld, additionally projecting the image to the other Dark Gods who were without the immense power to attempt such a spell.
The image was manifested as a sphere in the air, which the other five Dark Gods – Klashkna was watching under his own power from beyond the real world – were crowded around. Their heads looked upwards together at the image, watching and waiting to see the outcome. The one who had just spoken was the anthro, Karyna, her silver hair barely visible in the poor light.
Here is your test, o Fabled One. Karlo-Shin thought to himself. Just as I endured my test, now you must face yours. History is balanced precariously on the edge of a sword, your sword – which way it falls, or if it falls at all, will be determined at your hand. You cannot and must not fail. You have to stay alive and help fulfil your destiny… not just for your sake, but for ours. You must succeed where we failed, hundreds of years ago, when Sévar struck down Klashkna and brought an end to our mission.
Seduced by the words of our leader, we tried to control monsters and used them to tear through the human lands… but Klashkna is more than he seems. As I have told you, we will eventually abandon him, but not yet… not yet. You must fulfil your purpose first. And that requires you to succeed this night, and live to tell the tale to that feral you met in the camp. And more importantly than that, to have children with her.
“Will they make it?” That was the voice of Markhí, the other feral among them.
“The possibility exists.” Karlo-Shin said flatly, concentrating on his spell.
“If they are successful in this mission, will it stop the war?” Zelphyr this time, the Dragon Yoshi, the rest of his race no longer in the inhabited lands.
“It is most probable.” The master psion replied.
Lexikh, the fallen angel, was next to speak. “Their leaders are not elected, and so losing them makes them hard to replace. Even when a normal change of leaders occurs, there is some chaos and change. Add to that the chaos of an assassination, and their invasion will stop… for now.”
“Correct.” Karlo-Shin confirmed.
“How does this concern us?” This time it was Tynn, the winged Yoshi.
Karlo-Shin paused a moment before replying, keeping his spell going. “The Fabled One does no good to us dead and trapped here with us. Only if he survives can he fulfil the prophecy, for one of his children to free us…”
The party had made it inside of the castle grounds. Darkmark still felt a chill; the plaza Mikhail had led them through was lined with gallows, the nooses swaying in the cold night breeze. Mikhail had explained that public executions were held to make examples of criminals, and the thought of all the death in that one enclosed area – for public display no less – sent a shiver down Darkmark’s spine.
After finding a deserted part of the inner grounds, they had flown up to the top of an open-roofed tower, the two vampires as bats while Darkmark and Salína awkwardly carried Mikhail’s weight between them. Opening a trapdoor in the roof, they had jumped inside to find themselves in an observatory, a few telescopes lying around amongst pages of notes and records, the walls of the circular tower’s room lined with bookshelves.
They now descended the spiral staircase, trying to be as quiet as possible, ever watching out for patrols or ambushes. Darkmark had an uneasy feeling like someone were watching him, the silence except for the quiet sounds of their movement not making the atmosphere any better.
The staircase led down to the ground floor, opening into a torch-lit corridor with marble floors. Glancing in one direction, Darkmark saw a few doors on the same side of the corridor as they were, with gaps in the walls leading to a central courtyard. Quickly turning and looking the other way as he stepped from the staircase, he looked just in time to see several soldiers round the corner, not showing the least surprise as the light illuminated the group.
Mikhail swore under his breath. “Damn it – they must have had an alarm or something. I should have known… and now, they know we’re here!”
“Surrender, intruders!” One of the guards shouted as they advanced. “We have you surrounded. Lower your weapons or prepare to die.”
To be continued…