Chapter 23 = Second meeting
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. However, the characters are of my own invention, and must not be used without my permission.
As soon as dawn broke they set off again in silence, with Xenly taking the lead and the others following her at Manny’s pace. Marcus could see through the layers of leaves that the sky was clouded over and likely to rain on them as the day went on, but looked back down to keep his eyes on the white Yoshi in the lead. Eventually he ran forward to catch up to her and walked beside her so they could talk, greeting her with a little nod that she returned.
“Are you okay?” He asked, and she nodded slowly in reply.
Marcus paused for a moment before talking again. “Are you sure? You don’t look okay…”
“I… I’m fine…” she muttered quietly. “I just… it still gets to me that I never heard who Vick chose, and it eats me up from the inside…”
Marcus put a hand on her shoulder and said, “Well, this is just my opinion speaking, but… I think he would have chosen you.”
“Really?” She asked, looking towards him.
He nodded and continued, “From what you said and how they were still arguing when you showed up again, I think that he chose you over her… after all, he’d already said that he wanted to divorce her and marry you, hadn’t he?”
“Yes, but…” Xenly murmured, “He was being forced to chose then and there… and he wouldn’t have sent me out if he was going to chose me, would he?”
“Maybe, just maybe, he wanted to try and explain it to his wife on his own… and he asked you to come back, didn’t he?”
“Yeah… I… thanks, Marcus… it’ll still haunt me to the day I die, but I… thanks for that.”
“You’re welcome.” He said with a smile.
Meanwhile, behind him, Manny and Shiala were engaged in conversation as she held him with one arm around his shoulders to try and help him walk. The blue Yoshi was trying to manage on his own but still was having trouble, especially with the extra weight of the shield he had been given.
“Marcus is so caught up in his past that he won’t even consider anything with me…” Shiala complained, “I just want him to notice me and give me a chance.”
“Don’t believe everything Marcus tells you about Alziana.” He said as they struggled to keep moving onwards. “Did he mention her age?”
“No, he didn’t.” She replied after a moment’s deliberation. “Why? Is there something I should know about that?”
“Well, she was older than him by about six months.” Manny explained. “His birthday was the thirty-second of Lazrin in the year 2140, and hers was the twentieth of Zhila in the year 2139. Since the Chyrusian calendar goes Sallah, Rhian, Phynna, Lazrin, Eira, Jallora, Valsa, Zhila, Tisea, Freca, then goes back to Sallah, that makes her six months and twelve days older than him.”
“Yeah, so?” She retorted. “I’m only fifteen; I don’t care about age gaps.”
“Yes, but maybe Marcus has a taste for older women…?”
Shiala gave an exasperated sigh and replied, “Oh, come on, it was only a few months. What about his other girlfriends?”
“You know, any other girlfriends he had?”
Manny gave a loud burst of laughter, making Marcus turn around and look at him, but he suppressed himself after a moment. “Uh, no. Marcus hasn’t had any other girlfriends. Ever. I’ve been his friends since he was two weeks old, and Alziana was the only girl he ever expressed any interest in for his whole life. Consider yourself special.”
“Wow, you and him are opposing scales sometimes.”
“Not half! I think I went out with practically every girl in the village except for Alziana, plus there was that one who was visiting, not to mention those twins, and…”
“Alright already.” Shiala said, silencing him. “I get your point; you’re a womaniser and Marcus is a romantic. But he might not totally be a lost cause, you know… I mean, he’s already slept next to me a couple of times now, and he seems to enjoy that…”
Manny nodded, then nudged her and inquired, “What is it that you want from him, anyways?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, do you want a relationship out of him, or do you just want some kisses, or a close friendship, or what? Maybe you’re following my old ideologies and you want to knock boots with him?”
She gave a giggle and replied, “No, no… besides, I’m not even wearing boots. I just want him to hold me and kiss me when I need it… I don’t want to rush into anything, but I just think he’s kind of cute…”
“Ah, smart move. You know, people keep saying that civilised society is deteriorating because more and more people get intimate at a younger age, but I personally think it’s more a sign that society’s getting better… people trust each other more at that younger age, and they’ve done away with all that romantic crap… the whole courtship, seduction, and all that stuff that Marcus still seems to believe in. There’s a bad side to it, sure, but doesn’t everything have a down to all its ups?”
“Hey,” she said, “That’s pretty deep for someone like you.”
Manny recoiled in mock offence. “Isn’t a guy entitled to his views anymore?”
“Well, yeah, but I always thought that… ah, never mind.”
“A word of advice; the way into Marcus’s heart will be to swamp him with flattery and then lay it onto him slowly… I watched him and Alziana in their first months together and that always won him over to whatever she wanted to do with him.”
“Thanks for the advice…”
“Hey, listen Shiala, if Marcus doesn’t want anything to do with you, I’m always here.” Manny whispered with a seductive wink. “Once my leg’s healed, of course, but after that…”
“Haven’t you got any limits? I’m much younger than you are, you know.”
“The younger the better.” Manny said with a grin, then added, “Well, that gets a little ridiculous after a certain point, but you know what I mean. And I’m only about six weeks older than Marcus, for your information. You know, I don’t think age matters so much with Yoshies, since we tend to look the same for most of our lives… I mean, just between you and me, if Xenly was looking for someone, I’d sure offer her some of me…”
“You really have got no limits.” Shiala muttered.
“Hah!” Manny replied, “You ought to see me alone with a hot girl…”
Shiala gave a jocular “Oi!” and cuffed the back of his head as they tried to catch up to Marcus and Xenly, who had stopped suddenly and were beckoning for them to take cover behind some bushes along with them.
“What’s going on?” Manny whispered as he sat down, propping himself up on his tail. Marcus replied, “There’s somebody ahead… two people, I think, but we can’t see who they are…”
He fell silent again and listened intently as footsteps began to approach them. There were two voices coming from the direction of the footsteps, and they began to become clearer as they got closer.
“…not so sure, man, I mean, we can still go across the range…”
“Hey, there’s only you and me, and I’m not going to risk that place without a map or a guide or something. Personally, I’d rather be set back a little in terms of time than put my neck out to try and get back to Corvan quicker.”
“Dude, your girlfriend is waiting there, and so’s everyone else…”
“And I’d rather that we actually got there rather than being killed halfway back. Let’s just go back to Lince and see if we can get some help…”
“Lince’s miles away! We’ll have to go back across that land bridge again… isn’t there anywhere closer?”
Xenly drew her swords with a soft shring as the footsteps almost reached their hiding spot, but Shiala, unable to understand the common tongue, leaned over to Manny and asked for a translation. He put a finger to his lips as Marcus readied his flail, and she fell silent.
“Not that I know of, Dave. Just suck it up and follow me; we’ll be there soon enough.”
“But I’m not even allowed in Lince. It’s alright for you, you’re a Yoshi, but I had to try and escape when they thought I was one of those rebels… I just thought they’d relaxed their policy, but no, it seems their leader had been possessed…”
“That’s what you get for being a human, Dave. But hey, it’s not like you’re totally innocent; only humans are allowed in the capital city… if I ever wanted to go there, I wouldn’t be able to get in because of the whole species prejudice policy they have there.”
The two of them passed by the group at that moment, and Xenly leapt forward to grab the Yoshi, who was closer, while Marcus jumped for the human and brought him to the ground with his flail handle over the human’s throat. They struggled in vain for a moment before giving up, and Marcus took a look at who he’d subdued; he was a human of medium height with short, black hair and pale skin, with a traveller’s cloak covering most of his body, except for his feet where Marcus could see a pair of leather boots. In the hand that Marcus had under his foot, the human was carrying a long spear with pointed heads at both ends, a weapon that Marcus had seen somewhere before…
He looked up to see who Xenly had caught, and his suspicions were confirmed; in her grip was a Yoshi whose colour went from red on his nose to bright orange at his tail, and he also had a double-ended spear in a pinned hand. Just as Marcus realised who the Yoshi was, Manny got up and cried out, “Hey, I know him! That’s Visali from that contest in Lince!”
Xenly got up and let go of him, and he got to his feet, brushing mud off of his chest. “Ah, Manny, we meet again. It seems you’ve got another pal… hey, where’s that dark blue chick you were hanging out with back in Lince?”
“She died… fell off the land bridge when we were crossing it.”
“I’m sorry to hear that… how’ve you been aside from that?”
They were interrupted as the human coughed and said, “Uh, if anyone wouldn’t mind, this isn’t particularly comfortable…”
Marcus got off of him, muttering an apology, releasing him from his grip and putting his flail back in its spot on his saddlebags. The human got back up and dusted himself off as Visali blinked and stared at Marcus.
“Well,” he said to Manny, “I see that your friend got over his death.”
“Yeah, I got better. It was just a mild case of death, anyway.” Marcus replied sarcastically. “A few days’ bed rest and I was just fine.”
“A great recovery.” He said, somewhat disturbed, but turned back to Manny. “Anyway, who’s that with you?” He asked, gesturing towards Shiala.
Suddenly switching to old Yoshi, Manny said, “This is Shiala… she’s a feral, so if you want to talk to her you’re going to have to talk in Yoshian.”
She nodded and gave a little wave, and Visali nodded back. Talking again in the common tongue, he said, “Hey, nice job there… is she yours or is she free for the taking?”
“Mine, actually.” Marcus interjected, stepping up next to her. Just to emphasise his point he put an arm around her, and she returned the gesture enthusiastically.
“Oh, well…” Visali murmured, before continuing. “Which way are you heading, Manny? We were just off in the direction of Lince…”
“We’re heading for Corvan, but we were planning to go over the mountains.”
“Ah, I wouldn’t recommend it.” Visali replied. “Apparently the place is absolutely swarming with Koopas… I wouldn’t like to face those things on my own or just with Dave, but… hey, would you consider a travelling partner or two if you’re off that way?”
“Sure, why not? We need extra fighters to cover for me while I’ve got this cast on my leg and while Xenly can only use one hand…”
“Xenly? Didn’t you kick the eggs out of her back at that tournament?” Visali asked, half-closing one eye to give a questioning look. Manny nodded and gestured to the white Yoshi, who had sheathed her swords and was currently standing with her arms folded. Visali nodded his reddish head as he turned back to look at Manny, and grinned. “Well then, we’ll just be tagging along if that’s okay with you…”
“Yeah, sure, but what are you doing with a human? After all, they don’t like us and the feeling’s mutual…”
“Hey, there are always a few exceptions.” The human said, speaking up from the sidelines. “I don’t really mind Yoshies, and that great war was over a thousand years ago. Visali’s a good guy and he doesn’t mind me either, so we figured we’d just let bygones be bygones and all that.”
Visali nodded. “Yeah, something like that anyway. Uh, Manny, this is David, but I just call him Dave for short…” Indicating each of the Yoshies in turn, he continued, “Dave, this is Manny, this guy here is Marcus, that one there is apparently Xenly, and this red one is Shiala, who won’t understand a word we’re staying because she’s a feral.”
Dave nodded at each of them in turn, before gesturing along the road. “Well, we should get going… we won’t get far just standing here and talking.”
“Hang on, hang on.” Visali said, waving for everyone to stop. “There’s something I want to take care of first. Manny…” he began, “After you beat me badly in Lince I did a little work on my weapon here… since I’ve got the opportunity, I want a rematch; you and your sword against me and my new quadra spear!”
“What? Hey! No way, I’ve got a handicap!” Manny replied indignantly, tapping his cast. “Someone else can stand in if you want to fight that badly…”
“Well?” Visali asked, “Anyone here willing to stick up for Manny and give me a shot?”
Xenly smirked and stepped forward. “I will. I need the practice, anyway… the last real challenge I had was that dragon we took out a few days ago.”
“I was wondering where Manny got that shield…” Visali muttered, before readying his spear. “Alright then, Xenly, don’t hold back… let’s see what you’ve got!”
They moved out into the path where there was more space, and the others moved to the roadside while Marcus quickly told Shiala everything that had just been said. Xenly drew her swords with a little flourish, apparently unhindered by the cast around her wrist, and Visali gave a malicious smile as he held his spear ready, before leaping forwards and making a stab for Xenly’s chest. She sidestepped the attack and swung with her right sword back at her adversary, but he caught it on the spear shaft and turned it through a half-circle to force it away from him, but she swung upwards with her other sword and knocked his spear back a little. Gripping it firmly with both hands, Visali took up a defensive stance to deflect four successive blows from Xenly before swinging sideways to repel another attack. He then made a stab forward and missed, but his follow-up leg sweep took Xenly’s legs out from under her, and she fell onto her beck, but agilely rolled backwards and leapt back to her feet unharmed.
Visali planted one end of his spear into the ground and flicked a catch somewhere near the middle, and there was a loud click but no visible change to the quadra spear. However, when he plucked it out of the ground the spearheads on either end slid out a short distance on chains, and swung slightly as he held the whole thing level to the ground. He held it at an angle over his head and began to spin it through a full circle, gaining momentum and speed, and the two spearheads became level to the spear as he stepped forward towards Xenly with a confident smirk on his face. Suddenly lunging forward, he caught her by surprise and she barely managed to raise her swords to block the attack, stepping back quickly to avoid being hit, unsure of how to attack her adversary. Suddenly hitting upon an idea, she opened her saddlebags and pulled out a ninja star, throwing it towards Visali with the intention of only hitting his arm to make him give up, but he moved his quadra spear down and caught the star in the shaft.
Splitting the shaft into two, with loose spearheads at the ends of both spear shafts, he resumed spinning the spears skilfully as has advanced on Xenly again, but her keen eyes picked out a gap where he wasn’t defending. She quickly whipped a needle out of her saddlebags and threw it, and it sailed past the two spears before embedding itself in his nose. He suddenly stiffened up and fell backwards, dropping his quadra spear and landing on his back, unable to do anything other than look around or breathe.
“I win.” Xenly said smugly, leaning over him and pulling the needle out of his nose. Manny and Dave gave her a round of applause, but Marcus ran over, somewhat worried. Xenly saw him trying to pick Visali up off the ground, and she said, “Don’t worry… it’ll wear off in about ten minutes. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t mix up the needles; I only did that once.”
“If you say so.” Marcus replied, stepping away from the fallen Yoshi.
Managing to speak, Visali strained to force out, “Very well done… I suppose you’ve pointed out another weakness that I’ll have to work on… once this goes away, let’s get going, shall we?”
“Yes, let’s.” Marcus added. Looking up to the sky through a gap in the forest canopy above the path, he muttered, “It looks like it’s going to rain… let’s try and get inside before that happens, eh?”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t be so impatient.” Manny muttered, sitting down to wait.
Marcus felt someone tap on his shoulder, and turned around to see Shiala, who clasped her hands and lowered her voice to a whisper.
“Marcus…” she said in a soft voice, “Can I talk to you for a minute? Alone?”
“Uh, sure…” He replied, and she took his hand, leading him away from the group until they were out of earshot…
To be continued…