Chapter 112 = Scattering
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
There was a collective shing as all but Salína drew their swords, the winged anthro holding her pike ready. Glancing behind the group, Darkmark saw another squad of guards coming to pin them in the corridor.
If we get trapped there’s no telling what will happen… we have to move!
“Get out of here.” Skafria hissed, he and the silvery assassin getting on opposite sides of the group. “We’ll hold them off, just find some way out.”
Mikhail nodded and turned, moving towards one of the entrances to the courtyard. “This way!”
Tsi-Lau ran ahead to cut off the newly arriving group of guards, Skafria staying where he was as the other three fled into an open space mostly covered in grass, an ornate fountain in the middle with various statues of the highest quality scattered around. Footsteps and additional torchlight came from the various other exits of the courtyard, as more guards closed in on them, but out of sight; neither of the vampires could be seen as the rest of the group left them behind.
“Up there!” Mikhail said, pointing to the second floor. The corridor above the one they had just been in was built as a sort of balcony, with no walls to the courtyard. Quickly, Darkmark and the other two flew up to it awkwardly, with the two anthros holding on to one another.
“They’ll be fine.” Darkmark muttered, quickly turning away as he heard the sounds of combat below. “We have to take advantage of this and get moving.”
They ran ahead, leaving the vampires behind, trying to make as much progress as they could – though it quickly dawned on Darkmark that he had no idea where they ought to go, a fact that became even more evident when they reached a fork in front of a balcony. Picking one, he turned and started down the right passage, along halls of marble, with elegant portraits and antiques along the walls in between the occasional doors, before he realized the other two had left him at the fork, and that he was alone.
“I think it’s this way.” Mikhail said, not bothering to look behind him. Salína didn’t either; if they had, they would have noticed they had lost Darkmark. They continued to run over the tiled floors, trying to navigate the mildly maze-like corridors of the castle…
Suddenly, Mikhail stopped, looking past an open door into a lone room with a barred window. With little more than a bed in there, it looked almost like a prison cell – and now, looking back, he realized that’s what it had been. His cell.
The memories came back to him; all the time he had spent training, all the years he had been told he was abandoned, and that his enemies were not those around him, but rather the Yoshies and all their sub-races who had given him up… all the lies he had been fed. How much of what he knew was real? How much of what he had experienced could he rely on? And more importantly – how much had been hidden from him? Just like the feelings he expressed towards Salína, what was there he didn’t know about?
He shook his head, turning to her, at last noticing that Darkmark was gone. “Where’d he go?” he asked, and Salína looked behind her too.
“I don’t know, he was there a moment ago. Did we lose him?”
“It looks like it…” Mikhail said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll protect you if anything happens. Should we go back?”
“I think- look out!”
Mikhail turned around, spotting the threesome arriving from some stairs up ahead. Two of them were regular guards, but the third…
“So, you must be Mikhail. I’ve heard about you of course, but the last time I saw you, you were in an egg. The researchers took over after that.”
It didn’t take long for him to work out what the captain of the Dragon Slayers was saying. “You were the ones who killed my parents!”
“Better.” He grinned, holding his serrated sword ready. “I killed them personally. They were between me and that egg, and I was going to kill them anyway.”
Mikhail was about to lunge, but Salína held him back. “Please, we can’t get stopped here…”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” The captain replied. “No, this is personal. The guards are dealing with those two in the courtyard, or trying to find that brown one. But me… I’m here to finish what I started nineteen years ago.” He pointed his sword at Mikhail, closing the visor on his helmet with his other hand. “One on one. I’m going to kill you and finish the job.”
Mikhail tore free from Salína’s grip, holding his sword ready and assuming a combat stance. “Only one of us is going to walk away. So be it! A duel to the death; I’ll avenge my parents – no, my entire hometown – or die trying! I will never surrender to the likes of you!”
Darkmark looked back, but he couldn’t see either of his companions. Should he go back? They might have gone on ahead, so it was probably best for him to do so as well, and he might find what he was looking for in the meantime. That anthro probably knew good hiding spots, if it came to it…
He heard heavy footsteps ahead of him, and quickly ducked into a side room. It appeared to be nothing more than an elegant bedroom for some high-ranking noble, but luckily there was nobody inside. Staying out of view by hiding behind the bed, he listened carefully as the guards went right past him before continuing on his way, treading lighter on his feet.
Twice more he had to hide in corners and side rooms to avoid detection. The first, the bedroom he hid in was inhabited, but the person inside was fast asleep and did not wake from Darkmark’s intrusion. The second, the bedroom was much, much grander; without a doubt, it was for the King himself. However, he was not present, the room deserted like many others.
Darkmark was about to leave when he spotted a small stack of documents on a table. Giving in to his curiosity, he conjured a ball of light to examine them.
It took him a few minutes and a couple of pages to fully comprehend what was going on. It was hard evidence of what he already knew; outlines of plans to exterminate the sub-races of Yoshies, in order to make them weaker for an eventual conquest. But he was amazed at how far back the records went; all the way back from before 1800 when Klashkna’s first invasions had started, when the Dragon Slayers were slaughtering ferals before they had to defend against attacks from monsters. They went right up to the destruction of the last psionics-using feral camp – where his grandfather had come from. All of it planned out and calculated. The failed assault on the last anthro settlement – that Darkmark had thwarted – was discussed, and plans were outlined to get rid of the Winged Ones once and for all.
Karlo-Shin’s voice entered Darkmark’s head just then. This is why we originally joined Klashkna; me, Tynn, Zelphyr, and Lexikh. We knew what was going on, and we directed attacks with monsters in order to try and wipe out the humans before they got us. But Klashkna took control over us and sent monsters everywhere; this provoked the Yoshies, particularly Sévar, into fighting back, and the rest is history.
The most recent outline was clearly signed by the King himself, and many of his advisors. In disgust, Darkmark tore it to shreds and set the remaining ones on fire, quickly making his escape and running further down the corridor – he had to be close now. Finally, after going through any number of corners and corridors, he arrived at a set of double doors so incredibly grand, they could only be to the throne room.
Where he would meet his destiny.
“My liege, this is the only place where it is safe. We will lay down our lives to defend you. No mere assassin will reach you today.”
The king, the prince, and the most important advisors had all taken shelter in the throne room after the alarm had been raised, since it had only one entrance and the guards were easily able to get to it. The door had been shut and barricaded, with a small group of guards staying inside; the rest were out combing the palace for the intruders.
It was certainly an unexpected attack, but now that everyone knew there were intruders, they were prepared for any intrusion. After all, they were most likely trying to strike with assassins. The only surprise was that there was a group – assassins traditionally acted alone.
It was even more of a surprise when the grand doors to the throne room, even barricaded, were opened easily when the person on the other side hacked through with an enchanted sword, roughly cutting out a block and kicking it in. Emerging from it was a single Yoshi – brown-scaled, with wings, and glowing red eyes, but a lone Yoshi nonetheless.
Sensing an easy target, the twenty or so guards rushed at once, but they didn’t stand a chance against the psion. Careless, and inexperienced with psionics, they didn’t expect him to cast his spells so quickly, or without chanting incantations; blasts of flame sent some sprawling, raw psionic energy knocked down others, and his enchanted sword cleaved through any unfortunate to get close enough.
Darkmark was at heightened concentration, increasing his reflexes with his psionics while taking down all those who challenged him. When the last guard fell, he was forced to relent his use of psionics to recover from the strain; but he was still a lethal force even without them.
The advisors were next. It was foolish of them to barricade themselves in a room with no exits; they had nowhere to run. Having been roused from their sleep in the middle of the night, they had no armour, nor weapons; as such, they fell quickly to Darkmark’s silver blade, tripping over their robes and bumping into each other as they tried and failed to escape their deaths. Uncaring, he cut each of them down, feeling some satisfaction in knowing that they were the ones who had ordered this war to start.
And then… finally. The King, however, was more prepared, and had taken the time to obtain weapons and armour, which he wore under his flowing regal robes, the golden crown marking his position sat on his blonde-haired head. Holding one of the finest swords Darkmark had ever seen, he wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
Still reeling from his intense psionic usage upon entry to the room, Darkmark raised his weapon and prepared for a swordfight. “I have nothing to say to you.” Darkmark said, glaring as he and his opponent began to circle each other, the young prince hiding in a corner; Darkmark would come to him later. “It’s time for you to pay for what you’ve done.”
“Foul beast!” The King roared, “I will not fall to the likes of you!”
Both running forwards, the sound of steel rang through the room as their swords met…
To be continued…