Chapter 13 = Fierce Battles
Disclaimer: Although all characters here are of my own invention, the original Yoshi is copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
Manny and Renna took opposite corners of the platforms, and she bowed to him as she held her nunchucks ready. “Nothing personal,” she said, “But you really don’t have a chance. Give it up now.”
“Never.” Manny replied, “I’m here to fight, and I’m here to win.”
“Big words for someone so young.” She spat, as Manny drew his sword and held it ready. She looked at it, and laughed.
“A shortsword?” she said, “You honestly expect to win with that little thing?”
“You won’t be laughing when it’s covered in your blood.” Manny retorted, tensing his legs and concentrating on his opponent.
The announcer’s voice was much louder on the platform. “Renna verses Manny for the fifth round victory… begin!” He struck a small bell next to him, and both competitors leapt forward at the same time.
Manny’s sword struck the metal chains and bounced off, and Renna quickly made an attack that Manny ducked. She switched hands and swung again, but Manny deftly caught it on his sword and rolled off to one side, before making a short, sharp thrust towards her. She jumped back out of the way, before leaping forward again and trying to wrap her nunchucks around Manny’s sword in the same way she had attacked Ellea. Manny, however, quickly pointed his sword downwards as he sidestepped to his right, and Renna stepped back again as Manny made another swipe that she caught on the chains.
Damn, she’s good, Manny thought, I hope they’re not all this hard…
Manny quickly feinted an attack and dodged an unbalanced counterattack, before making a series of quick but not very powerful swipes at his opponent. She held her nunchucks out in front of her protectively, deflecting Manny’s blade with the chain, and he saw his chance. Stepping back a bit, he thrust forward with the point of his sword and jammed the point in one of the chains, walking forward to force Renna back. She tried to pull Manny’s sword out of his hands, but he had a firm grip on the handle, and he quickly bent down onto one knee before jumping up into the air, holding his sword up. Renna’s nunchucks were pulled right out of her grasp, stripping skin from her hands, and she watched in dismay as they flew up into the air and landed outside the platform.
She dropped to all fours, dipping her head, an old gesture begging for forgiveness, and Manny saw tears form in the corners of her eyes. “Don’t kill me…” she pleaded, “I don’t want to die yet…”
Manny paused for a moment, before nodding and pulling her to her feet. The crowd cheered, and a few coins were thrown onto the platform for him as Renna went to collect her nunchucks.
“Amazing!” the announcer cried, “Manny has disarmed Renna and let her live… we have an honourable fighter here, folks. Okay, who’s next…?”
“Well done, Manny!” Marcus called out, “Keep it up!”
“Congratulations!” Karin added, and Manny nodded at the two of them.
“Okay, next up… we’ve got Manny verses Ricard, a swordsyoshi from the mountains in the southwest. Take your positions, please…”
Manny saw a burly green Yoshi step up onto the platform at the other end. He appeared to be evenly matched; Ricard had a broadsword but no armour, and looked to be about Manny’s size, but perhaps a little bigger. Ricard held his sword ready, and gave a little bow to Manny, who returned it uneasily, keeping his eyes on his new opponent.
Manny heard the bell ring, but his opponent didn’t move a muscle, and Manny began to step towards him with his sword held up as a guard. Manny covered half the platform before Ricard leapt forward and made a side slash which Manny parried, knocking Manny back a step from the force of the blow. Manny then ducked and tried an upward slash at his opponent, but Ricard deflected the attack with his own blade before making a counterattack, narrowly missing Manny as he rolled out of the way.
The crowd cheered the two contenders on as steel struck steel on the platform, and the battle grew more tense as Manny furiously fought just to stay alive. Ricard was very adept and nimble, but Manny had an idea as Ricard jumped back and pulled a gauntlet out of his saddlebags, putting it on with lighting speed, before putting his firmer grip on his sword handle. The entire manoeuvre took barely a second, and Ricard was already leaping forward again, striking a firm blow against Manny’s sword.
Manny hopped back, then used the momentum to perform a backflip to take him even further away from his opponent. He was standing on the edge of the platform, and as Ricard cautiously took a step forward, Manny reached into his saddlebags, making Ricard stop in his tracks.
“What’s this?” The announcer’s voice boomed, “It appears that Manny has a final card to play…”
Ricard ran forward, and Manny feinted to make him step back, before whipping one of his throwing knives out of his saddlebag. The gem on the handle sparkled in the light for a fraction of a second before the blade was flying through the air, and before the green Yoshi could react the crowd groaned when the knife blade embedded itself in Ricard’s chest with the sound of steel scraping on bone. His broadsword slipped out of his hand as he sagged to his knees, clutching at the knife firmly stuck in his ribs. He gasped for breath as he pulled it out with an equally sickening sound, before letting it fall to the floor as two Yoshies ran onto the platform to pick him up and carry him off. After one of them grabbed the broadsword they ran off the platform and through the gap in the crowd, carrying the fallen fighter.
There were several cheers, and Manny heard his name being called a few times as he retrieved his knife and the coins that were thrown onto the stage for him. After wiping the knife clean on the sole of his right shoe, he put it back in his saddlebag and waved to the crowd.
“Show-off.” Marcus said, only barely audible to the victorious Manny.
The announcer picked up his voice amplifier and called out, “Manny wins his second round! He’s a lot more skilled than he looks, people… I pity the next contestant who has to face him. Now then, who is that contestant…?”
Manny walked to the edge a corner of the platform, and slumped to the floor to catch his breath. A few moments later, the announcer cried out, “Okay, for the third round, we have Manny verses… Xenly, a seventh-level assassin from Dhalsa! We seem to have had a few of those today…”
“Xenly?” Manny said to himself as he realised fully what had just been said. “Oh, by all the Yoshi gods… she’ll kill me! I don’t have a chance!”
Manny was filled with dread as he saw her step up on the opposite corner, and draw her swords from the scabbards strapped to her back with finesse. He looked over his shoulder, and Karin gave him a thumbs-up, shouting, “Come on, Manny! You can beat her!”
Xenly gave him a despairing look and sighed as she held her swords level. “I’ll try not to kill you, but no guarantees. After all, the ways of the assassin can perhaps take over sometimes…”
“I’d like to see you try.” Manny said, disguising his fear.
The bell rang, and he brought up his sword to deflect a lightning-fast leap by Xenly, before bringing his sword down to block her second blade. He leapt up into the air over a horizontal slash, then fluttered further before holding his sword underneath him and dropping to the ground. Xenly easily stepped to one side, and Manny’s sword hit the platform with a loud thunk, cutting a huge sliver out of the wooden platform. Manny quickly pulled his sword up to deflect Xenly’s blows, stepping back as he furiously parried her twin strikes.
Suddenly, she leapt back, and with blurring speed she reached behind her, and Manny raised his sword in front of him simply from a reflex. He never even saw anything come towards him, but there was a loud metallic sound and a ninja star struck his sword before falling onto the platform. Manny bent down to grab it, and rolled off to his left as Xenly tried to hurt him while he was bent over. He threw it back but his aim was off, and Xenly easily knocked it with one sword and sent it to the ground.
Manny went on the offensive, swinging his sword in broad arcs against her blades, striking sparks as he did so; he was fighting harder than he ever had in his life, and he was afraid that he would lose more than just the contest. As he made a large swing upwards Xenly caught it on her blades, and the two of them pushed their swords against each other’s in an attempt to force the other person to give ground. The cheers of the crowd were deafening as the sound of steel scraping filled the air, and the two contenders narrowed their eyes at each other, with beads of sweat covering their noses and running down their bodies.
Manny suddenly dipped his sword a little before swinging upwards again, and the crowd gasped as Xenly’s left sword was knocked out of her hand and off the platform. She paid it no heed as she began to attack with two hands on her other blade, forcing Manny to step back, back, until he suddenly realised he was on the edge of the platform. When Xenly swung again he leapt into the air and over her, swinging downwards in mid-jump, and he heard the crowd groan as he fell on his front and struggled to his feet.
He noticed that the end of his sword was flecked with blood along one side, and he spun on his heels to find Xenly clutching at her right shoulder, an expression of pain clear on her face, her eyes squinted shut. With one decisive swing, Manny knocked her right sword out of her hand, causing her to cry out in pain as her injured shoulder was jolted. She went to her knees and dipped her head, and Manny heard her force out, “I… I admit… defeat.”
The crowd went wild, and coins rained down onto the platform from all sides, with quite a few members of the crowd chanting Manny’s name. He helped Xenly to her feet before taking her off the platform and over to Karin, handing her his sword so she could heal Xenly’s injury.
When Xenly took her hand away, her palm was stained red and a deep cut was visible on her shoulder, bleeding noticeably. Karin healed the wound quickly, but felt Xenly’s shoulder a little, frowning as she did so.
“Xenly…” she said solemnly, “I think you’ve got a major injury here… one of your shoulder bones appears to have been forced out of place a little. It’s not a dislocation but it’s still serious…”
Xenly replied, “So… what does that mean…?”
“It means that you’ve got a permanent injury there… you can still use your arm, but it may be a little stiff, and it will probably never be the same…”
There was an uneasy pause, and Manny put his left hand under Xenly’s chin and lifted her head to look her in the eyes. “I’m sorry…” he apologised as he took his sword back from Karin, “but I guess that’s not going to be enough to help…”
“Don’t worry about it.” Xenly muttered. “I’ll manage… I really should’ve been suspecting a counterattack… I guess I just figured you’d be easy to beat. You’re strong… now get back up there and keep fighting, or this will have been for nothing.”
Manny nodded, before leaving and scrambling up back onto the platform. He wiped sweat off himself as he did so, and Marcus tapped Karin on the shoulder as he noticed that.
“Uh, Karin… why is Manny sweating?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” She replied.
“Well, you know, we’re cold-blooded, so I thought…”
“Not quite. We’re sort of in between… we don’t generate our own body heat normally, but exercise and other strenuous activities heat us up. Not to mention that all that muscle on Manny will be trapping heat.”
“He’s not THAT strong.” Marcus said, rolling his eyes. “It’s probably all that fat on his chest…”
Karin was about to retort when the announcer’s voice filled the air once more. “Manny has won three rounds so far! He seems to be making a lot of money from all the coins you people are throwing to him… can you say ‘crowd favourite’? Anyway, the fourth round is Manny verses…” There was a pause, during which Manny wiped the blood on his sword off onto his shoes, then the announcer cried, “Visali, a Yoshi from the University of Corvan City!”
Manny looked up to give his opponent the once-over. His adversary was a somewhat oddly coloured Yoshi; his head was coloured a vibrant red, but as it went down his body the colour changed, tinting steadily from red to a bright orange at the end of his tail, though his white chest was as it should have been. In his right hand, he carried a long pole that was taller than he was, almost 6 and a half feet by Manny’s reckoning, with spearheads on either end. A double-ended spear, Manny thought to himself complacently, this guy won’t take long, that’s for sure.
Visali tilted the spear at an angle so that the top spearhead was level with his head, before placing his left hand a little bit above the middle. Manny tilted his head, waiting for a comment or quip, but his opponent remained silent for a few moments before the bell rang to signal the start of the match.
Manny leapt forward and made a large swing, but Visali caught it on his spear, producing a hollow sound as he deflected the blade with the wooden pole. He brought the pole upwards, forcing Manny’s sword back against him, but the blue Yoshi pulled his weapon away from the spear and made another swing. Visali caught the second attack on one end of the spear, pivoting the other end around and smacking Manny’s head with the wooden handle. Manny moved his sword along the spear to push it away from him, but Visali swung the shaft around and hit the other side of Manny’s head, producing a short burst of laughter from the crowd.
Rethinking his strategy, Manny stepped backwards rapidly, keeping his distance. Visali put both hands at one end of the massive spear and thrust the other end towards Manny, barely missing him as he sidestepped the attack, trying not to fall off the platform. Manny could see bulging muscles on the Yoshi’s arm, no doubt built up by practicing with the weapon he was holding, and he took a few steps forward to make another attack. Visali swung the spear forward, almost clipping Manny on the back of the head, pulling it back into a position to defend himself with. The blue Yoshi flipped open his left saddlebag and pulled out a throwing knife, switching weapon hands as he did so. Visali looked a little worried but held his ground nonetheless, bracing himself for the throw as Manny took aim. He swung his spear at Manny to try and knock the knife out of his hand, but his opponent bent backwards and the swipe went over his head as he got back to his feet.
He faked a throw to drop Visali’s guard, and when the red-orange Yoshi moved his spear Manny jumped off to one side and sent the blade flying through the air towards his enemy. The sharp edge tore open a wound on the side of Visali’s nose, but did nothing else as it bounced off the platform and hit the cobbles, coming to a halt near Xenly’s feet. Gritting his teeth as he tried to ignore the pain, Visali made a high swing forcing Manny to duck, then pivoted through 360 degrees under the force of momentum and swung very low, making Manny jump. He let go with one hand and grabbed some of the folds of flesh on Manny’s chest, before flinging him away with his powerful arms and sending him down onto the platform. Manny gasped for a moment and tried to catch his breath while the announcer began to count him out. “Manny has fallen! One…! Two…!”
Manny struggled to his feet as the announcer was about to count three, slowly getting to his knees and standing up from there. His opponent looked at him, somewhat surprised, holding his spear horizontal as the crowd cheered Manny on. Visali pulled at both ends of the spear and it came apart in the middle, separating into two halves a little bit less than three and a half feet each. Two very pointed spearheads popped out from the ends and spread out with a click, covering the end of the shafts as they slid back down. Manny swallowed heavily as his opponent held one in each hand and began to step forward, spinning them in his fingers a little as he did so.
Once he was within range, Visali abruptly stopped rotating the double-ended spears and held the centers in his hands, thrusting both points towards Manny. He swung his sword up to knock them away, but Visali spun them around his fingers and attacked again with the points on the other end of the spear shafts. Manny brought his sword back down but only hit one spearhead, and the other tore into his left arm, opening up a large gash in his flesh. He cried out and jumped away, clutching at his arm; though the wound wasn’t deep, it was fairly large and was bleeding profusely.
“You can submit if you want!” his opponent shouted, trying to be heard above the crowd.
“Never!” Manny replied, taking his hand off his injury. A single droplet of blood fell from the tip of Visali’s spearhead, and Manny narrowed his eyes as he took up a fighting stance again and prepared to resume the battle. Pulling out another throwing knife, he lunged forward with his sword in his right hand and swung with all his might for Visali. He brought up his two spears in an X shape, holding them against Manny’s sword as he tried to push Visali backwards like he had done with Xenly. His opponent smirked as he began to force Manny’s sword back, but Manny brought up his free hand and the knife for a split second before thrusting underneath Visali’s arms and caught him just above his right leg. He cried out and stepped away, before pulling out the knife with his tongue and casting it off the platform, forcing himself to ignore the pain once more.
Visali split his spear shafts a second time, pressing just above the middle parts with his thumbs and dividing the weapons into four double-ended spears, each one a little bit longer than one and a half feet. He held them like crosses in his hands, and with a determined roar he leapt forward again, swinging his deadly spearheads at Manny, determined not to lose. Desperate, Manny held his sword with both hands and brought it up with as much power as he could put into it, and when Visali held the wooden shafts in the way of the swing to protect himself he was knocked into the air a few inches from the force of the attack, and landed unsteadily a couple of feet back. He stumbled and fell, and Manny took the opportunity to end the fight, leaping forward and stopping his swing with just a few hairs’ distance between the very point of his blade and Visali’s neck.
“Give up?” Manny said, putting one foot on Visali’s right arm as he did so. The red-orange Yoshi paused, then nodded quickly, keeping his eyes on the sharp point of Manny’s sword. The blue Yoshi got off him to an almost deafening roar from the crowd, and Visali slowly got to his feet as they both stepped off the platform.
“That’s an interesting weapon you’ve got there.” Manny said as he led Visali over to Karin.
“It’s of my own design… part of a University project. I was hoping to win the top prize to see if I could get these sold commercially, but I suppose it needs a little work.”
“It doesn’t need any work…” Manny replied, “It’s a fine weapon; you just need to learn to wield it better. You certainly almost had me back there.”
Karin hopped over the railing to heal them, and Visali took Manny’s hand and gave him a hearty handshake. “Thank you, Manny… I hope you win today.”
“Me too.” Manny said with a sly grin, before he let go of Visali and watched him head back to a few Yoshies in the crowd who consoled him as they began to leave the stands, and then Manny returned to the platform to pick up the accumulated coins. He wasn’t sure how many he’d picked up; a lot of them were bronze coins, worth only a single coin, but there were quite a few silver ones worth ten coins and several gold ones worth twenty coins. He’d count them later.
“Next!” He called out, and the announcer picked up his voice amplifier to talk again. “Manny has only one round left! Will he be the first one to complete the trials and win the top prize? All that stands between him and the money is a final contestant. That contestant is…”
The audience went silent as the announcer picked a random name from the entry sheets in front of him. He plucked one out from the top of a small pile, held it up where he could see it, and picked up his voice amplifier again.
“Marcus, from the Shoreside village!”
“Marcus?” Manny said. “I can’t fight him; he’s my friend!”
“You have to fight him.” The announcer replied. “Why would you stop now anyway?”
Grudgingly, Marcus got up from his seat next to Xenly and took his position on the corner opposite Manny. He removed his flail from its spot on his saddlebags, placed his right hand near the bottom, and put his other hand on top of it.
“Marcus, just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean I’m going to hold back.”
“Manny, I’m not just going to let you win. I’m going to fight like I’ve never fought before.”
“You can kiss my tail for all I care. You’re not a fighter anyways, I can always beat you, and I will today.”
Marcus was infuriated and leapt forward without waiting for the bell to sound, surprising Manny, who only just managed to block Marcus’s attack. Marcus stepped back and swung again, striking a solid blow against Manny’s sword, and forcing him to step back a bit, but Manny stepped forward and made a stab for Marcus, who stepped to the side and attacked again. It was extremely difficult for Manny to block Marcus’s flail balls as the chains made them quite unpredictable in their path, and Manny knocked another attack away and slashed outwards, but Marcus leaned out of the way of the attack before swinging and almost hitting Manny’s nose.
Manny countered by thrusting forward and Marcus twisted to one side to avoid the attack, but Marcus then tried a tactic from Visali; he swung high, making Manny duck, then swung low, making him jump. Manny tried the same counter-tactic again, but Marcus easily swung around and caught Manny’s underside as he jumped, making him yelp in pain and land on his front. He scrabbled to his feet and swung back at Marcus, nearly hitting his flail, but the nimble brown Yoshi moved his hand away from the swipe.
Manny swung for Marcus’s flail again, and knocked it out of his hand, sending it skittering across the platform, but Marcus kicked upwards and hit the bottom of Manny’s sword handle, dislodging it from his grip and knocking it in the general direction of Marcus’s flail.
The crowd cheered as the two disarmed Yoshies resorted to fisticuffs; Marcus kicked Manny firmly in the chest, sending him back a few steps and winding him, but he came back and swung for Marcus’s head. The brown Yoshi raised an arm to block the attack, grabbed Manny’s outstretched arm with his other hand, and flung Manny to the floor, creating an audible sound as he hit the wooden planks, making their fallen weapons bounce a little on the other end of the platform. Manny rolled over once and jumped to his feet, but Marcus had already run for his flail.
“Oh no, you don’t!” Manny shouted as he ran over and dived for his sword.
He knocked Marcus’s legs out from under him and grabbed his sword, kicking Marcus’s flail away after he stood up. He turned to face the brown Yoshi, who snarled, before lunging for Manny, but he stepped out of the way and Marcus went past him, landing on his front on the floor. Marcus got to his feet and retrieved his flail, and faced Manny once more.
Manny saw him doing something with the flail; it appeared that he was trying to make the balls spin around the end of the handle, but he was having trouble doing it. They were going in a half-circle underneath the flail, but no further, and Marcus gave up and ran forward to attack Manny.
He kicked Marcus away, then as he came back again he held his sword up and thrust forward, putting as much force into the decisive attack as he could. He speared Marcus right through the heart, spraying blood out from the exit point of his sword, though his sword handle was almost touching Marcus before Manny fully realised what he was doing. He saw Marcus’s eyes close slightly, and his body went limp, and he groaned in unison with the crowd as he was impaled on Manny’s blade. Manny quickly pulled his sword out of Marcus as quickly as he could, and his friend’s body sagged to the floor at his feet, unmoving.
Manny went relatively pale, and turned around to face the sidelines. “K…Karin!” He cried. “Quick! Come over!”
Karin vaulted over the barrier, nearly clipping Xenly on the participant’s bench in front, and jumped as she hit the ground again, fluttering up to the platform, waving her arms furiously. She snatched Manny’s sword out of his hands, and pointed it towards Marcus, shouting “Oralia Totalia!” as loudly as she could.
Though the wounds on Marcus, lying on his side, healed up and became whole, he did not stir from where he lay. Manny bent down and put a hand on the side of Marcus’s head, and tried to take his pulse, but he couldn’t find it, and closed Marcus’s eyes with his fingers.
“What have I done…” he whispered, “I can’t believe I…I killed Marcus…”
To be continued…