Chapter 18 = Back on the road
Disclaimer: Although all characters here are of my own invention, the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
“Ohh… oww… my head…”
Marcus rolled onto his back and tried to open his eyes. His head was pounding, and he squinted his eyes shut again as sunlight streamed in through the window. He sat up groggily, holding his head in his hands, but a wave of dizziness made him fall back to the bed again.
“Hangover?” Came Manny’s voice from somewhere to his right.
“Shut up…” Marcus replied, groaning as his stomach churned.
Manny gave him a light pat on the back. “Need anything?” He asked.
After groaning a second time, Marcus sat up again, holding his stomach. “I think I’m gonna be sick…”
“Well don’t be sick on me, man. We’re on the ground floor; just open that window right next to you.”
Marcus got on his knees and leaned over, opening the window latch with one hand, before pushing it open as far as he could and leaning out of it. The fresh air made him a little less hot, but it didn’t do much for his nausea, and Manny kept his left hand on Marcus’s back as the brown Yoshi retched repeatedly.
“Be careful there, Marcus; don’t dissolve the window ledge.”
“Shut up, Ma-… urgh….”
Several minutes later Marcus stopped groaning, and Manny took a glass, filled it with water, and brought it back to his friend. Marcus wiped the vomit from around his lips, before taking the proffered drink and washing his mouth out.
“You just had to get smashed last night, didn’t you?”
“I said… shut up…”
“Welcome to seventeen years. It only gets worse here on out.”
After meeting up with Xenly and Laen, the group had breakfast in the lobby they had arrived in the day before, though Marcus didn’t exactly seem keen to eat much. After paying for the food Manny led the group out of the inn, and back along the road.
The sun was shining brilliantly, and not a cloud hung in the sky. Laen took her leather mantle off and carried it in her arms as the day progressed, but the endless miles of road made the travel very tedious, though eventually they reached a fork in the road just outside a forest. One path went around it while the other went straight through, but only a small stump of wood remained in the ground to ever signify that there had been a signpost.
“Well…” Manny suggested, “Should we flip a coin?”
“Heads the forest, tails… not the forest.” Xenly said.
“What?” Marcus cried, as his blue friend began to take a coin out of his saddlebags. “This is an important decision… we can’t just decide on the flip of a coin whether or not to take a perilous route or a longer yet probably safer one! We…”
Many hours later, under the shaded path leading through the woods, the trio of Yoshies and their elven companion were walking along, with a furious Marcus in the lead.
“I can’t believe we tossed a coin.” He muttered.
“Was there any better way to do it?” Manny asked.
“Well… that’s not the point. The point is that this forest could be filled with all kinds of horrible, unspeakable nasty things that we’ve never even imagined might exist…”
The group abruptly went silent as a branch snapped, but Laen coughed and muttered, “Sorry…”, before they continued on. As they proceeded into the forest, Marcus was sure he could hear noises up ahead, but Manny denied hearing them, as did the others, until a sudden, hoarse cry came to them from up ahead, whereupon they stopped dead in their tracks and went to the edge of the path.
From out of the woods in front of them they could hear heavy footsteps and a hissing sound emanating from the tide of shouts that followed it. A Koopa in a green shell came running forward from the forest, looking behind it, oblivious to the four travellers up ahead of it. When it turned forward and saw them, it came screeching to a halt and was almost immediately faced by the combined wrath of the three Yoshies.
The Koopa growled and cursed them in the Koopa language, pivoting on its feet to deflect attacks off of its impenetrable shell. The swords and Marcus’s flail balls merely bounced off the calcified outer shell, doing nothing more than making light scratches in the greenish colour. Marcus called out for the others to step back, and immediately all three of them ceased their attack on the Koopa, who turned and looked behind it, following the gaze of the Yoshies.
Behind it were even more Yoshies, but they certainly weren’t like any ones Marcus had ever seen before; their normally white chests seemed somewhat tanned, showing a definite orange colour. They carried simple weapons like spears made from wood and small knives, but wore neither saddles nor boots, instead donning various items of jewellery, and one near the front had a cloak. The talons on the ends of their feet were dull and slightly dark, and, Marcus noticed with a start, every last one of them had bright red eye outlines like his.
“Ferals!” he muttered, trying to piece everything together. He could understand now why their ‘disguise’ outside Lince could have been easily seen through, but what was with their eyes? He was sure he didn’t have feral ancestry as far back as he knew, since ferals never left the safety of the feral community. Maybe it was a coincidence or freak mutation?
The Koopa, trapped between the motionless group of ferals and the four travellers, chose to try and break through the latter, pouncing on Manny before the startled eyes of the ferals. Xenly and Marcus came to his rescue, swinging their weapons as the Koopa to make him leave Manny alone, and once Manny was free of the Koopa, Marcus pressed an attack against it, pushing it into the gap in the road between the groups.
He managed to stun it with a blow to its unprotected chest, before leaping into the air and coming down on top of it, knocking it to the ground. With one foot on the Koopa’s shell, he kicked the back of the Koopa where its tail protruded from the shell, propelling it forward and out of the shell onto the grassy verge next to the path.
As the Koopa leapt to its feet, Marcus kickflipped the shell upwards, before snatching it out of the air with his tongue. Dodging a running swipe made by the Koopa, Marcus spat the shell back at the Koopa, knocking it over and stunning it momentarily.
Some kind of instinct had completely taken over Marcus now as Xenly and Manny watched him, somewhat bewildered. After kicking the fallen Koopa once more to check it was stunned, Marcus grabbed it around the waist with his tongue, before pulling the whole thing into his mouth, and swallowing heavily.
Manny winced. “Oooh, that’s going to hurt…” he muttered to Xenly, who mumbled in agreement. The ferals and Marcus’s friends could see him gritting his teeth, straining, before he clutched at his slightly bulged gut and moaned in pain.
Xenly shook her head in despair. “Yoshies should never try to swallow anything that large before they’re at least twenty. He could seriously injure himself.”
“Yeah,” Manny added, “Smaller things, maybe, but a whole Koopa? He’s crazy.”
Marcus moaned in pain as he doubled over, and put his hands out to hold his weight as his intestines churned. It took several minutes before he finally laid the egg, whereupon he collapsed to the ground and gasped for breath. Manny and the others came to help him, but there was a raucous chorus of laughter from the ferals, which Marcus tried to ignore.
“Those city Yoshies are ever weaker than we thought!” he heard one shout in old Yoshi. “I mean, how many times do you see an egg get laid with blood all over it?”
Blood? Marcus thought, and he pushed himself up so that he could look over his shoulder. Sure enough, the egg was liberally coated with bright red blood, and Marcus could feel sharp pains all throughout his body.
“You idiot.” Manny muttered as he grabbed Marcus’s legs so that he and Xenly could carry him. Marcus groaned and replied, “Yeah, thanks, there’s no injury so bad you can’t feel stupid about it too.”
“That… was… sickening…” Laen muttered. “Is there supposed to be that much blood?”
“Nope.” Xenly muttered, holding Marcus’s hands and heaving him up off the ground. “Let’s just hope these ferals will still help us…”
Manny called out to them in Yoshian, “Fellow Yoshies! Is there any chance that you could help us?”
“None,” came the reply, “At least until we stop laughing…”
A female feral came out from the group and came towards them, suppressing chuckles. Her wrists were adorned with gold bracelets, and a few of her fingers with silver rings, her coloured skin was bright red, and her chest was prominently tainted orange. She walked up to Marcus, suspended in midair thanks to his friends, and looked him closely in the eyes, studying them for a moment, before putting her left hand on his nose.
“He has our eyes!” she called back. “Maybe we should help him!”
The laughter died down, and a feral Yoshi under a light cloak came forward, also studied Marcus’s eyes, and wiped sweat from his nose while he thought. He asked Marcus if he could walk, and after Manny let his legs down, he discovered that he could so long as Xenly held him up. The feral, apparently a leader of some sort, beckoned to them and said, “Come, travellers… tonight we shall grant you our hospitality if you would care to share some of your stories with us. Our village is not far; just follow my lead…”
He began to walk off and lead the group of ferals, closely followed by Manny and Laen, with Xenly and the injured Marcus bringing up the rear. The red feral female grabbed the Koopa shell from where it lay, and Marcus asked Xenly to stop for a moment while he reached out with his free hand and grabbed the egg he had laid, wiping the blood off on the soles of his shoes, before placing it gently in his saddlebags with his other things. He didn’t know if it would do any good, but he figured he might as well take it after all the pain he had just gone through…
To be continued…