Chapter 15 = The Crossing
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 still the middle of the night; darkness covered the lands, clouds blotted out the moonlight, and only the dim, ever-distant lights from the city of Lince reached the group as they made their way along the cliffs, to the northern edge of Yoshi’s Island. Even with their eyes fully adjusted to the night, they could only make out vague outlines of each other through the darkness. As they continued forward, rain began to fall, picking up from a light drizzle and soon coming down in torrents, pattering on the Yoshies’ skin and thoroughly soaking Laen.
Xenly, at the front, stopped suddenly and put her left arm out behind her to signal for the others to stop. They managed to see the movement in the dark, and came to a halt just behind her, as she turned around and began to speak.
“I came along this way to get to Yoshi’s Island… we won’t even have to take a boat to get to the mainland.”
“But how?” Marcus asked, “How do you get from an island to the mainland without crossing the water?”
Xenly put her left hand back on her injured shoulder. “Well, you see, Yoshi’s Island isn’t technically an island… the north and south ends of it are connected to the mainland by just two arches of stone… they’re being eroded and will one day collapse, but right now you can walk across them to get to and from the mainland. This rain may make it a little dangerous, but we should still be okay.”
Laen shivered. “Whatever. Let’s just get across so that we can find somewhere to dry out…”
The stone arch was covered on the top with patches of moss, and was only wide enough for one of them, though a single person had enough room on either side to be able to walk straight without having to hold their arms out to balance.
The wind picked up as Xenly stepped onto the land bridge and began to cross, Marcus followed her, then Laen hurried along, closely followed by Manny and a nervous Karin. The arch stretched a good half mile or so, and they were walking into the wind for most of it, though the arch began to curve to their left as they reached the halfway point.
The rain picked up again and there was a bright flash, followed a second later by a rumble of thunder. Karin stopped for a moment, looking around in fear, but uneasily continued a moment later, trying to catch up to Manny. The rain beat down onto them, and they had to hold up their arms to shield their eyes from the torrents of water. There was another flash of lightning, and the rumble of thunder only took half a second to reach them, but after it receded it was replaced by a sometimes whistling, sometimes howling wind that signified the start of a major storm.
Xenly picked up the pace, and Marcus sped up too, determined not to lose sight of his guide, but he didn’t want to look behind to check on the others, for he could still hear Laen’s footsteps as her boots hit the hard stone. He could make out the edges of a cliff face coming closer to them, and knew they had nearly reached the other side, which he was extremely glad for. A wave splashed at the arch, doing nothing more than drenching his feet, but Marcus was worried that the waves were starting to get higher, and gritted his teeth in determination as he continued. The wind dropped and changed direction, trying to blow him off the arch, but as he looked under his raised arm he saw Xenly’s feet step onto the cliff edges, and she lay on her back and gasped for breath. A few moments later, Marcus reached her, and as soon as he was on the cliffs he turned around to see how his friends were doing.
Laen arrived shortly thereafter, thoroughly miserable in her soaked clothes, and sat down with her arms around her knees as they waited for their friends; Karin was lagging behind and Manny was a good distance in front of her, both of them still crossing the arch. There was another flash of lightning, and the rumble came at the same time as the flash.
Marcus looked out to the sea, churning away under the force of the wind, and when another flash of lightning lit the area he saw a potential danger to his friend. He leapt to his feet and cupped his hands to his lips, and cried out into the darkness, “Manny, look out! There’s a big wave coming!”
Manny looked over to his right and caught sight of the top of the wave, spotting the white foam in the darkness. He laid down on his front and grabbed hold of the arch on both sides, clinging onto it for his life, but Karin, however, didn’t hear what Marcus had said, and he realised with a stab of regret what was about to happen…
Manny turned his head just in time to see it; the wave hit the stone arch and covered Manny in water, and also sent up a spray that hit the three who had already crossed. Karin was knocked off the arch, and she screamed as the wave hit her, but she was nowhere to be seen when it receded.
“Karin!” Manny shouted behind him. “Kaaaaariiiiiiin!”
He got to his feet and ran over to where she had fallen off, and Marcus saw him quickly bend down and grab something, lying flat on the stone arch as he did so. Marcus moved to where he could see the side of the arch, and he noticed that Manny had his arms around the wrist of Karin, who was clinging by her fingertips to the edge of the stone bridge.
Manny looked down as he grabbed her other arm. “Don’t let go, Karin… I won’t let you fall!”
She looked over her shoulder into the waves below; she could see many rocks underneath her, only partially submerged by the churning waves, and she would be unlikely to survive a fall onto them. She grabbed hold of the stone arch with her other hand, and Manny prepared to pull her up when another wave hit.
Manny was knocked forward a little and the whole top half of his body hung over the edge of the arch. Karin’s wrists were still firmly in his grasp, but he noticed he was starting to slip on the moss, with Karin’s weight pulling him down. He let her arms slide a little, and clasped her hands to get a firmer hold, and though he tried to wriggle his way back onto the arch, he didn’t have much success.
Marcus was about to go and help, but remembered what Sorsoy had said to him; “Before too long you, will take your first loss…”
He shook his head. It was a hallucination. He didn’t believe in the gods anyway, and he’d prove them wrong by saving his friends. Against the protests of Xenly, he dropped his saddlebags on the ground to remove excess weight, and set out back along the arch, struggling to get the several yards from the edge of the cliffs out to where Manny and Karin were.
Before he could get to them, he had to get down to hold against another wave. When it hit Manny it knocked him further forward, so that only his legs and tail were on the arch. He began to slip but Marcus quickly grabbed Manny’s right leg with his tongue, and began to try to pull him back up onto the arch.
“Manny…” He said, struggling to speak with his tongue extended, “I can’t pull you up with Karin’th weight…”
“I’m not letting go!” Manny cried, tightening his grip on her hands. “I won’t let this happen. I won’t, I refuse!”
Marcus crawled forward so he could grab Manny’s legs with his hands, and he pulled on Manny’s ankles, but he wasn’t strong enough to pull the both of them up. He let go with his tongue and retracted it, unsure of what to do.
Karin looked into Manny’s eyes, though she couldn’t see the tears in the dark. “Manny…” she said, “I know you don’t want to let go, but I don’t want to take you with me…”
“I’m not letting go.”
“Please, Manny, I want you to stay behind. I don’t want you to leave Marcus…”
“But what? Why would you so needlessly sacrifice yourself?”
“It’s not over yet! I can save you!”
Marcus looked over his shoulder. “Look out! Big wave!” he cried.
“You can’t, Manny, and you’ll just get yourself killed trying…”
“But Karin…” Manny said, not listening to Marcus, “I… I love you…”
“I… I can’t hold the both of you!” Marcus called out again. “I’m slipping!”
Karin dipped her head and was silent for a moment, then looked him in the eyes again. “Let go of what you love, Manny. Just let go…”
“No!” He shouted, almost commanding himself not to release his hold. “I’m not letting go!”
“Then I will, Manny. For your sake, I will…”
She opened her hands and freed herself from Manny’s grip. He didn’t have time to cry out or look, because the wave hit and he almost fell over the edge, but in the rush of water that forced him to close his eyes, he heard Karin’s back hit the rocks below. Marcus stayed on the arch, before standing up and pulling Manny onto it, though he didn’t get up, instead looking out into the waves for any sign of Karin.
He bit his lip as a flash of lightning lit the air, and he caught sight of Karin’s body floating away on the waves, unmoving, her eyes open. Darkness covered his view once more, and he closed his eyes, holding back his tears.
Marcus was stunned. He, too, had seen Karin on the waves after hitting the rocks, and knew she was most certainly dead. Silently, he pulled Manny to his feet, staying next to him where there was room, before leading him back to where Xenly was. As Manny stepped onto the cliffs, he looked back over his shoulder into the storm, before sadly dipping his head and joining the remnants of his group.
Marcus put a hand on his shoulder, but Manny brushed it away, sitting down in the storm and trying not to cry. Marcus bent his knees to talk to him, and said, “I’m sorry, Manny, but there was nothing we could do… you were slipping, and if she’d held on all of us would’ve fallen…”
Manny sniffled, and said, “I know… but, I… I can’t believe she’s gone…”
“She’s dead, Manny.” Marcus said. “We both saw her… she’s dead, and you can’t sit here mourning for her…”
To be continued…