Chapter 20 = To arms! To arms!
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.
There was a sudden, loud noise, like a thousand panes of glass being shattered at once. It was followed by a long, coarse, evil laugh of triumph.
Standing in the centre of a pentagram, the dark wizard Foryo simply stood laughing as he felt the curse leave his body and fade from existence. After trying any number of spells, he had finally resorted to some of the most arcane magic still known, and in a Yoshian book, of all things. And it had finally worked. At long last, he could get some sleep, but he had one thing to take care of first…
Stepping up to the table on which his crystal ball stood, Foryo pulled up a chair and began to weave his spell. He had no experience at being an oracle or predicting the future in any way, but he used the ball as a tool for scrying his enemies… searching for their locations in the lands of Chyrus…
As the image of a brown Yoshi with red eye outlines and folded arms swirled into his view, Foryo swore loudly, swiping the crystal ball off the desk in his fury. The solid crystal hit the floor with a loud thunk, bouncing once on the granite, before rolling to a rest on the cold stone floor, but its owner paid in no heed.
“That worthless lizard is alive! ALIVE! I sent an entire group of mercenaries after him and even went myself! How could he have possibly escaped?”
The black-robed wizard paced back and forth for a minute, before his eyes travelled to the pentagram etched on the floor. With a wicked grin, he strode over to the nearest bookshelf and pulled a large tome off of it, and after flicking through it for a little bit, he found the spell he wanted, stepping into the pentagram.
“Let’s see how that overgrown lizard handles this!” he shouted, before beginning the incantation.
Meanwhile, in the feral village, Manny was sneaking across the ground in an attempt to keep quiet and not wake anyone who wasn’t already up. He made his way to the tent Marcus had been left in, nimbly sprinting across the ground almost silently, producing only a soft pit-pat as his Yoshi boots hit the ground.
Parting the tent flap with his left hand, a massive grin spread across his face as he looked around inside the tent. Marcus was lying on his back on a large, purple cushion like he had been the previous day, and Shiala was asleep on her side on a similar cushion next to him, with one arm across Marcus’s body. Both of them wore small smiles as they slept, and Manny took note of the small pile of Marcus’s equipment next to the cushion he was on, stifling a chuckle as he guessed what had happened. Inhaling deeply first, he opened his mouth wide and shouted:
“Somebody got LAAAAAIIIIIID last night!”
Marcus snapped awake at the sound of Manny’s voice, mercifully in the common tongue, filling the tent he was in. Flinging Shiala’s bracelet-adorned arm off of his body, he leapt to his feet and reached for his flail, which was actually on the saddlebags he should’ve been wearing, on the floor, as opposed to his back.
“I did not ‘get laid’, you idiot!” Marcus shouted back in the common tongue. “We simply slept together!”
“Which, as you know, is a euphemism for a little of the ol’ bedtime action.” Manny countered with a sly wink.
Marcus folded his arms in indignation. “I told you, I did NOT-” he began, but stopped as he suddenly felt a strange prickling sensation on the back of his neck. He looked over his shoulders and around the tent, his eyes darting around, scanning everything, finally landing on a somewhat bemused Shiala, who had been watching the two Yoshies argue with each other.
“Marcus?” Manny asked as the brown Yoshi bent his knees and crouched down. “What’s up with you?”
Marcus remained perfectly still for a few moments until the weird prickles receded, and he stood up again, scratching the back of his head, but then he shrugged to himself. He was probably just imagining things; it had never happened before in his life.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” Manny continued, “It sure looks to me like you got in on a little Yoshi-on-feral action…”
Marcus held his head in his hands and gave a resigned sigh. “There’s nothing I can say that’s going to convince you otherwise, is there? I’m telling you the truth; all we did was fall asleep next to each other.”
“Sure ya did!” Manny said with another wink. “After a little hot lovin’, I’ll bet.”
Marcus narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Manny, listen to me! I am not you! Do you honestly think I’d do anything with Shiala after I lost Alziana? I am not going to get over her, not for a long time!”
Manny’s only response was a derisive snort and his airy-voiced impersonation of the two Yoshies, accompanied by him clasping his hands and holding them up to try and look innocent. “ ‘Oh Marcus, after I die, make sure to stay miserable all your life for me!’ ‘Of course Alziana, and if I die make sure to stay a virgin for when we meet up again in the atheist afterlife!’ ”.
Marcus clenched his hands into fists, saying, “Manny, if you don’t shut up I’m going to do something I might regret later…”
“What? Like turning around, going over there and giving Shiala a different sort of Yoshi ride for a second time?”
Marcus was overcome with fury and brought up his right fist, giving a powerful uppercut to Manny’s jaw, and making him cry out in pain and step back out through the tent flap, with Marcus following him. Blood began to trickle out of Manny’s mouth and he held a hand to his lips, crying out, “You made me bite my tongue! You… you… you spawn of Klashkna!”
Marcus heard a loud gasp from Shiala, who apparently understood the last word. In Yoshian, she cried, “Don’t say his name! You’ll bring death to us all!”
“Huh?” Marcus said, looking behind him for a moment. “Who’s Kla-?”
“It’s the real name of the God of Death. Used as an insult for the lowliest scum of the lands like you!”
Marcus turned around and swung for Manny, hitting him hard on the side of the head, but Manny regained himself and swung for Marcus, though he ducked and kicked Manny hard in the chest before taking a few steps back. Manny wiped the blood from his mouth before drawing his sword, and Marcus snatched his flail up off the floor with his tongue at lightning speed. The now armed Yoshies raced towards each other, and Marcus swung hard for Manny’s arm, but he brought his sword up and deflected the blow, swinging back to counter the attack. Sure it would work again, Manny thrust his sword forward to try and impale Marcus, but the brown Yoshi dodged to the side before swinging for Manny’s head. He ducked the whirling flail balls and swung his sword, opening a shallow wound on Marcus’s chest when he didn’t jump back far enough. Marcus kept a distance as he tried to make the balls spin around the end of the flail handle, but he failed again, leaping forward and smacking Manny’s chest with the spikes on the flail balls.
Manny stepped backwards, holding his sword up defensively, gritting his teeth through the pain, and was about to make an attack when Shiala ran between the two Yoshies. “Stop it, stop it!” She shouted, putting her arms out to keep them apart. “Please, you’re going to hurt someone if you don’t stop!”
The two Yoshies stood still for a moment, before dropping their weapons with a pair of resigned sighs. “Sorry…” Marcus muttered in old Yoshi, “I just lost my temper.”
“Yeah, well, I provoked you, that’s my fault… you know I only do that for your reaction; I don’t honestly think you and Shiala were steaming up all the glass bottles on the tables…”
Luckily for Manny, Marcus was interrupted in grabbing his flail by a tremendous crash and a sudden burst of screams and shouts from the other side of the settlement. A horrendous roar filled the air, and above all the racket, a clear call in old Yoshi came cutting through the air: “To arms! To arms! We’re being atta-aaaauugh!”
The call to arms was cut off in a cry of pain, and Manny grabbed his sword from the ground where it lay. “You leave this to me!” he said, “Take Shiala somewhere safe… and any other ferals you find.”
He ran off before Marcus could give an answer, and the brown Yoshi ran inside the tent to collect his clothes and belongings. Hurriedly strapping on his saddle and stepping into his boots, he was ready in half a minute, but was stopped by Shiala at the tent entrance.
“If you’re going to go, take me with you… I want you to protect me.”
“I’m not fleeing the village.” Marcus said. “I’m staying and fighting… I’m not going to run.”
He pushed past her and sprinted around a few tents and trees, but came skidding to a halt as he caught sight of the source of commotion. A huge, scaly creature with leathery wings was destroying everything in its path; blasts of fire from its mouth were setting plants and tents on fire, and many bodies were lying on the ground, often motionless and bleeding heavily. The creature let out another fearsome roar as it made another swipe for ferals trying to attack it, and Marcus’s heart was gripped with fear.
A dragon. He thought. It’s a dragon… a creature from the underworld… it’s useless to run…
Marcus got in closer, making it to the edge of the area cleared of tents by the dragon’s powerful, clawed hands. On the other side of the clearing he could see Laen and Xenly, and spotted Manny fighting beside Andreas as they attempted to hurt the dragon, even though it was almost three or four times their size.
The dragon drew back its head and inhaled, while Marcus made his way towards the elf and the Yoshi without being caught up in the battle. Looking back towards the battle, he saw the dragon lean forward and belch forth a stream of flame that enveloped the cloaked Yoshi and barely missed Marcus’s friend. Andreas managed to run a few steps immolated in flames, but collapsed to the ground and remained motionless a few moments later.
“Father!” Shiala cried, and Marcus turned around to see that she was trailing behind him, following his path. He finally reached Laen as he heard the dragon’s claws strike the ground, missing the blue Yoshi completely. Spotting Marcus, Xenly drew her swords and took a step forward, saying, “Right, I’m going to help Manny… give me some cover.”
Laen nodded as she took her bow off of her back. Plucking an arrow out of her quiver, she opened a pouch at her waist and dipped the arrowhead into it, and when she removed it again Marcus saw it was coated in a green powder.
“Poison.” She said by way of an explanation, as she notched the arrow to her bowstring and took aim. Manny managed to dodge another claw swipe and swing for the dragon’s leg, but his sword bounced off the scaly hide leaving not so much as a scratch. Xenly’s swords didn’t do anything against the thick armour either, and she nimbly ran between the dragon’s legs to dodge another swipe. Marcus heard the dragon inhale again, but Laen loosed her bowstring and he saw the arrow fly forward and strike the creature’s chest, embedding itself in between two plates on the scales.
It shrieked loudly but continued to attack, taking a step forward and almost crushing the blue Yoshi who only just managed to roll out of the way. Marcus could see Xenly climbing up the dragon’s tail, jamming her swords into the scales to act as leverage for her jumps, but as she leapt up to the dragon’s shoulder it swung its head and knocked her off, sending her crashing to the ground where she bounced once before lying almost motionless, shouting in pain.
Laen cursed loudly, and Manny ran back to Marcus as a few more ferals arrived to try and fell the beast with their spears. “It’s no use!” he cried, as sweat poured from his skin. “It’s too tough… we’ll have to run…”
“No!” Marcus commanded. “We’ve been running for too long! We ran from our village… we ran from the black forest… we tried to run from Lince… the line must be drawn here! We won’t flee; we are going to hold our ground and fight, and we are going to win!”
Manny looked at Marcus for a moment, somewhat shocked, but caught his breath and turned back towards the battle. Laen ran after him and Marcus followed, casting a glance back to Shiala and making a ‘stay there’ motion with his hand.
Laen fired off another poison-tipped arrow that struck the dragon a little to the right of the first arrow. It roared and swiped at the arrows, snapping off the shafts but embedding the points even further in its body. Marcus jumped back to avoid another slash of the claws, shouting to Laen, “Why isn’t the poison working?”
“It’s huge!” She replied, referring to the dragon. “It’s going to take a long time for it to take effect on something this large…”
As the dragon inhaled again, the two Yoshies and Laen both stepped back, leaping out of the way as a column of flame exuded from the creature’s mouth. Laen notched another arrow as she stood up, and shouted, “Try and distract it! I’ll aim for its throat…”
“Hey, over here!” Manny shouted at the dragon, but it swung to its right to swipe at Marcus instead, swinging its spike-tipped tail at the blue Yoshi as it did so. Manny leapt into the air and grabbed hold of one of the spikes, holding on for dear life as the dragon lashed its tail around in an attempt to shake him off. Laen’s bowstring twanged and her arrow found its mark, but after another shriek of pain from the creature, it turned its attention to her. It pitched itself forward, snapping its jaws at the elf, and swung its tail up, and sending Manny flying into the air. He tried to flutter as he went hurtling forward, but went face-first into the ground and skidding a short distance, before feebly rolling over onto his now bloodstained front and groaning in pain.
Marcus went wide-eyed as he saw another friend fall, and while his concentration lapsed for a moment the dragon took its chance to dispose of Laen. It swung its right hand at the elf, and when she predictably leapt backwards it swung again with its other hand, catching her in midair and impaling her on one of its claws. With a single shake of its left hand she came free from the claw and was sent flying to the ground, leaving blood on the claw that had held her.
Almost choking on tears as he watched another casualty, Marcus turned to the dragon and focused on not becoming the next victim. He backflipped away to avoid another breath of fire, but was struck with the back of the dragon’s hand and knocked away, landing next to Shiala, who cried out when he did so.
He was slightly dazed but sure that he had broken a rib, and forced himself to stand up. He got up off his side, patting the saddlebag with the egg in it, thinking, good thing I didn’t land on that…
Wait a minute!
Lightning fast, he flipped open the cloth saddlebag and pulled out the egg, being very careful not to drop it. Holding it in his right hand and leaning back, preparing to throw, he took careful aim as the dragon inhaled once more, tipping back its head. I only have one shot…
He threw the egg with all his might, sending it sailing up into the air and straight for the dragon’s head. His aim was off and it smashed into the dragon’s nose, but the egg exploded into fragments with a smallish fireworks display, sending shrapnel into the dragon’s eyes. It gave a deafening roar as it firmly closed its eyes, before slashing with its claws randomly, attempting to hit anything that came into its path.
Then, Marcus saw something as he was suddenly overcome with dizziness; darting up its back was the white ninja Yoshi, though with much caution and audible moans of pain as it did so. Clambering up the dragon’s back and onto its head, Xenly held her swords against the dragon’s skull before thrusting them down, through the scaly skin, and into the dragon’s brain. It gave a loud yet fading cry as it tipped its head back, forcing Xenly to pull out her swords and jump to the side, before it toppled backwards and knocked down at least three trees, falling to the forest floor with a ground shaking crash.
Xenly rolled as she hit the ground and came to a halt next to slightly disoriented Marcus. She gave a cheer and high-foured him, but suddenly stumbled forward and grabbed hold of Marcus as she fell. He tried to hold her up again, but she appeared to be unconscious and slipped out of his grasp, falling to the floor and remaining motionless. Marcus held a hand to his chest where he felt a stab of pain, and slumped to his knees next to her as dizziness overcame him, spotting Shiala running towards him as he blacked out and collapsed.
She quickly took his pulse to make sure he was okay, and did the same for Xenly, before signalling to some survivors to pick them up. Running over to the injured Manny, she found him barely hanging onto his life, with blood coursing down his chest and a broken leg. Running on to Laen, she found her conscious but on the verge of death as she held a hand over a gaping wound in her stomach. Her blood had soaked into the fabric of her clothes, staining them red, and Shiala knew it was hopeless to try and help her. Laen’s eyes opened a tiny fraction, and she tried to force a smile as she felt herself slipping away. Feebly reaching up to her neck and taking off her necklace, she gave it to the red feral and whispered, “Marcus…” in a very faint voice. Shiala nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks, but Laen then gestured towards her bow, which had fallen next to her. The elf pointed to the feral, and Shiala understood what she meant, picking up the bow and holding it where Laen could see. With a final smile, Laen closed her eyes, and Shiala couldn’t hear her breathing any more as Laen’s life left her body…
To be continued…