Chapter 14 = Beyond the Grave?
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.
It was very late in the day, and darkness had settled over Yoshi’s Island. After collecting his prize money, Manny had enlisted the help of Karin and Laen to carry Marcus’s body to the cliffs outside the city of Lince, where they would give him a final farewell. The sun had set, and a cold wind blew over the cliff edge as the small group stood on the end of it, about to pass one of them on from the mortal world and continue on without them.
Manny would gladly have traded all the money he had just won to have Marcus back, but the choice wasn’t his to make. His friend’s body was lying on the very edge of the cliff, his eyes closed, his few belongings attached to him as best as possible, except for the spare change he had been carrying. Manny was on his knees next to him, tears streaming down his face, his eyes closed as well, and Karin was standing right behind him, with her hands on his shoulders. Laen was standing next to Xenly behind them, muttering elvish prayers under her breath, while Xenly simply watched Marcus’s corpse as she kept one hand on her injured shoulder.
“M…Marcus… my friend… my one, true friend…” Manny whispered, forcing back tears as much as he could and trying not to sniffle, “I… I’m sorry… there is no way… that I can ever be forgiven for having done this to you… but… if it helps, in any small way… I will still avenge Alziana’s death for you.”
Karin gently caressed Manny’s shoulders, and said, “I never knew you that well… but you were still a friend. I will remember you as long as I live.”
Laen merely raised her voice so her current prayer could be heard, then dropped her voice once she was done. Xenly stepped forward so she was next to Manny, and gently touched Marcus’s cheek with the back of her hand. “I never knew you much, but you never deserved all the pain and suffering you’ve endured… I hope you don’t have to keep suffering, wherever you are now…”
“Just get off of me!”
Marcus was in his nightmares again, though after Manny had impaled him he was sure that he was here for good this time. Despite his best efforts, the zombie-like Alziana had still pinned him down, and he couldn’t escape her clutches.
“What do you want with me, you foul creature?”
“I want you to listen…”
“I’ve BEEN listening! But you keep doing things to me and you keep waking me up… I don’t know how long I’ve been out or whether I’m going to wake up at all… I want to go back, and I don’t want to have to keep coming here…”
“I’m testing you, Marcus. You’ve been failing so far, but maybe this time…”
She didn’t give him an answer; instead, she leant forwards again, and Marcus resigned himself to stop resisting. A test? He’d try to stay asleep this time, and see what happened…
When their lips connected, Marcus shuddered and mentally vomited from the sickening taste, but focused on not waking up. He simply lay there, and she raised her head again and looked him in the eyes, somehow still bleeding from her wounds.
“Well done… but this time, put some effort into it.”
“Huh? ‘This time’? You’re doing it again?”
She nodded, and Marcus sighed as she bent forwards again, but she moved her hands off of his arms to allow him to move them around. He closed his eyes so he wouldn’t see her injuries, and when she kissed him again he reached up and put his hands on her back uneasily. After a moment, he cautiously returned the kiss, nauseating though it remained. He opened his eyes a tiny fraction, but was almost blinded by a sudden flash of light that seemed to occupy the whole of his vision, even when he firmly shut his eyes again.
As the light receded, the sickening taste became sweet, her lips soft and warm, and Marcus didn’t feel the patter of blood on his skin any more. He opened his eyes again as she moved off of him, and saw that her wounds had healed, her eyes had pupils again, and she was the Alziana he had always remembered once more.
She smiled, and Marcus stood up, but quickly reached out with lightning speed and grabbed her by the throat, making her gasp as he tightened his grip. She wasn’t as heavy as before, and she struggled in vain to make him release her, as he pulled her down to the ground and pinned her by her neck. In a malicious voice, he said, “Now then… I’d like some answers.”
She gasped for breath, and Marcus loosened his hold a little. “Who are you, for a start? You’re not really Alziana, are you?”
“No… I’m not… but I’m not a figment of your imagination either.”
“Then what are you?”
“I’m a higher power…”
“I don’t believe in gods. Besides, what would they have to do with me?”
“Fine then, I’m your spirit guide. Take your pick.”
Marcus gave an exasperated sigh, before continuing. “Whatever. It’s not important. What are you doing this to me for?”
“I’ve got something to tell you, and you’re finally ready to hear it.”
“What’s it going to matter? I’m dead already.”
“No… no, you’re not. I’ve just suspended your life force so I could do this to you, and you only appear to be dead. After I’ve told you everything, you can go back and rejoin your friends…”
“Great, but they’ve probably already buried me or something.”
“No, they’re about to give you a burial at sea by throwing you off a cliff… you have good friends; they’re going through a lot of rituals most people probably wouldn’t bother with for an atheist.”
Marcus shrugged. “Ah well, if I were really dead I wouldn’t care. Anyway, just tell me this big important thing you have to tell me and send me back.”
“Okay… just let me go first…”
Grudgingly, Marcus released his grip on the pink Yoshi’s throat, and got to his feet, whereupon she stood up slowly, before holding her arms out to her sides and closing her eyes. She began to glow a bright white, and Marcus strained his eyes to try and see what was happening. She was completely encompassed by the light, and when it faded again, a completely different Yoshi was standing before him.
She was a tone of light blue, with vibrant red fins that stood out on the back of her head, and though she wasn’t wearing a saddle or any boots, she had two long streamers of what looked like silk coming from behind her shoulders. Even though there was no wind, they flapped freely as though there were, and the pure white colour was completely untarnished, matched by a white glow that surrounded the whole of her body. She was floating a few inches above the ground, with her feet back as though she were walking backwards, and when she opened her eyes again Marcus saw that they were full of kindness and compassion, whilst right above the eyes was a set of long, curved eyelashes.
He blinked a few times, and she spoke to him in a voice much like Laen’s, but slightly higher-pitched. “Whether or not you believe in me, I am the goddess Sorsoy… I lived long ago, before the bitter rivalry between the humans and the Yoshies came into existence, before the world as we know it was as populated as it is… back then, there were but a few cities of wooden houses struggling to survive in the world, and there were too many general problems for the races to turn on each other. After I was hatched, I knew I had a destiny to fulfil; I could use magic with nothing more than my hands, and I seemed to know new enchantments nobody had ever heard of before. I eventually had a dream in which another goddess came to me and told me of my future… but no, before you ask, you are not chosen to join us.”
“Then what are you here for?”
“I’m getting to that… while I was still alive, I forged myself a rapier and enchanted it with demi-god powers, before helping the inhabitants of the world to prosper… but, now that there were many people, and their troubles were being slowly lessened or eliminated, trouble grew… and then came the great war, between the Koopas, and the other inhabitants of the world… the Koopas could stand to live in the deserts, and had been increasing exponentially in number for a long time. I was a leading commander when the war reached its climax, and I was there to see everything that happened afterwards…”
“I’ve heard this story.” Marcus said. “The humans betrayed the Yoshies and killed most of them, but the only thing that stopped the Koopas killing everyone was a mysterious event like an explosion, or some kind of eruption, that was taken to be divine intervention. The surviving Yoshies have never forgiven the humans for the massacre of most of their people.”
Sorsoy shook her head no, and started to talk again. “No, the story has become tainted over time. The humans were caught up by a mind-control spell the head Magikoopa used… they slew their steeds, the Yoshies, and the Koopas hoped a civil war would result. It would have, had I not intervened… though it destroyed my body in the process, and I had to summon up as much magic force as possible, it worked nonetheless, and the Koopa army was decimated, breaking the mind-control spell and ending the war. I was ripped apart, but born again in the realm of the gods… however, the feud was never resolved, and even though an uneasy truce was called, the bitter rivalry has remained to this day.”
“I don’t believe the magic thing with the explosion… how could one person wipe out an entire army with just one spell?”
Sorsoy glared at Marcus, and her silk streamers went a vibrant red. “Magic is nothing more than manipulation of an ethereal energy that resides on this world. With the right incantations that energy is converted into the effects of a spell. Even though not everyone can use magic, it’s fairly simple, and it doesn’t exactly take a lot of training or effort. However, my rapier had been enchanted to increase the power of magic spells, and as a demi-god, the intensity was amplified thousandfold. Of course, only being a demi-god, I was utterly vaporised by the force of the spell, but that wouldn’t happen to me if I did that today.”
Marcus thought about all this for a moment, before asking, “Okay, we’ve done your autobiography. Why are you here and what do you need to tell me?”
“I’m here to warn you about your future.”
“Huh?” Marcus replied, puzzled.
“The future is always clouded and unclear… even the best oracles and the gods themselves can only predict what is most likely to happen. But, the way it stands at the moment, you lose yourself… things happen to you, and you grow angrier and more upset, until you become corrupted by evil and exist only to destroy…”
“But… I don’t understand… this has all been distressing so far, but I don’t think I’d ever become evil…”
“Believe me, you will; before too long, you will take your first loss… you may gain more friends, but they will not stay long, and your distress causes you to look for something to help…”
“I… I refuse to believe that…”
“Then you are a fool!” Sorsoy shouted, making the strange world inside Marcus’s imagination shake. “You refuse to believe the truth when it lies right in front of you, and yet you expect things to play out fine. Ignorance leads to carelessness, carelessness leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to your ultimate doom.”
“What?” Sorsoy said, taken aback, her streamers turning a shade of blue similar to her skin.
“You heard me. Prove it.” Marcus repeated.
“Very well, then. You asked for it.”
Sorsoy’s streamers changed colour again, this time to a dark purple. She floated forwards, and reached out to Marcus. She put her right hand on Marcus’s nose, and he closed his eyes, falling into unconsciousness once more…
Darkmark stood straight and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the whites were pure, bottomless black, save for the glowing red pupils that came from the inky darkness. He then brought his open hands behind his shoulders, and brought them down again with a roar, holding them level, with the fingers curved up, as though they were holding something.
A black aura erupted around Darkmark, purple auras of fire burst into existence around each of Darkmark’s hands, and what looked like purple electricity flowed from them, up his hands, and across his body. The crackling sound of electricity filled the air as the purple energy continued to spark across Darkmark’s body, and he spread a pair of large, leathery wings and began to stride forwards…
Marcus snapped back into consciousness, albeit still in his nightmare, with Sorsoy lifting her hand away from his nose. The expression on her face was one of concern, and her streamers had turned a very pale yellow.
“I… that… was that me?” He gasped.
Sorsoy nodded slowly. “It’s not too late to stop this happening. Continue on your journey, but don’t let the forces of evil consume your mind… now, I must go, and I bid you good luck in your quest for vengeance.
Before Marcus could speak, there was a bright flash, and he passed out.
Manny put a hand on his friend’s chest. “Well… it’s time to say goodbye… I just wish that you were still here…”
A tear fell from his nose and landed on Marcus’s, and he put one arm underneath Marcus’s tail and the other behind his head. He stood up straight, and stood on the cliff edge, facing into the wind.
“One l-life p-passes… a f-fallen friend d-departs…”
Manny wasn’t sure of the entire prayer, and faltered. He closed his eyes and strained to remember, determined to do this himself.
“B-but he r-remains with us… f-forever in our h-hearts… t-though we mourn f-for our loss… w-we must b-bid farewell…”
He stumbled again, and choked on his tears, forcing out the words as they came to him.
“T-the rest of us m-may join h-him…”
“ ‘But only time will tell’, right, Manny?”
Manny opened his eyes abruptly and looked down. Marcus’s eyes were open, and Manny could clearly see the red outlines around the pupils. He gasped and stepped backwards, and gently let Marcus’s feet down so he could stand. Manny then wrapped his arms around Marcus and held him tightly, crying loudly and letting tears stream down his cheeks.
“Marcus!” he wailed. “I thought I’d lost you!”
Marcus gave Manny a pat on the back. “I’m here, I’m here… it’ll take more than that to kill me!”
Manny sniffled as he let go, and looked Marcus in the eyes. “I’m so sorry… I got carried away; I just… I almost killed you…”
Marcus half closed his eyes and looked off to one side. “Yeah, well… these things happen. Just don’t do it again, alright?”
Karin and Xenly both ran forward to look at him, and Laen stayed behind to watch. A few moments later, they turned around and headed off, for the cliffs just north of Lince, where they could get off Yoshi’s Island and cross to the mainland of Chyrus.
But Marcus considered what he’d seen in his vision, or dream, or whatever it had been. Sure, his future self appeared to be horribly scarred with discolorations and such, but he looked powerful… much more powerful than he was now. Marcus rubbed his chin as he walked, and thought hard. Maybe that’s not such a bad future… I’ve lost practically everything already, so if I just let things happen… I can become powerful like that… yes; perhaps there IS something for me to look forward to…
To be continued…