Chapter 27 = Dredging the memory canal
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.
When Visali awoke from a dreamless sleep and looked around, he found that all of his companions were sleeping, except for Marcus and Shiala, who weren’t anywhere to be seen. Stretching as he got up and got his things together, he also noticed that one of the Koopa shells they had taken the previous night were both gone, along with the lover Yoshies. Looking outside, he saw that the sun was shining, though the ground was still wet from the heavy rainfall the previous day, indicating it had carried on long after he had fallen asleep.
He set off after them without waking his companions, carrying his quadra spear only as a precaution against any wild animals or other Koopas. It wasn’t too hard for him to find his quarry; Marcus and Shiala had obviously made no effort to cover the tracks his shoes and her feet left in the wet ground.
Following the tracks at a quick pace, he ended up a good distance away, with the cave still within eyesight before he suddenly found the track turning into a gap between two mountains. Going along the path that was there, he could hear the faint sound of running water, which became slowly clearer and louder as he continued, until he found the source of the sound.
There was a river running along at a good pace, meandering down the mountain and out of sight. At the riverbank were the two Yoshies, but they were clearly uninterested in the river itself and only wanted the privacy; Marcus was lying on top of Shiala and their lips were locked firmly together as they kissed, oblivious to all that was around them. Shiala’s jewellery was sparkling in the sunlight and the light shone off their skin, making bright white patches of reflection at various points on the surfaces of their bodies.
Visali ducked down behind some reeds and parted them a bit to watch a little less conspicuously, keeping his eyes on the pair as their arms slid over each other’s backs. After a time, they suddenly rolled over away from the riverbed with Shiala ending up on top, and Marcus broke away slowly before returning a broad smile she gave him.
He tried to get back on top but she held him firmly to the ground as he struggled against her grip. Pausing for a moment to catch his breath, Marcus said, “You’re far too strong for me… how did you become so powerful?”
Shiala let go with one arm to flex a muscle that, Visali noticed, was considerably bigger than the ones on Marcus’s arms. “Even feral females have to be strong to protect themselves, you know. Nobody can afford to be weak in such a small community.”
“Regardless,” Marcus replied as he struggled against her other arm, “You’re a lot stronger than I am, so knock it off and let me go…”
Pinning Marcus down again, she gave a high laugh and grinned. “Make me!” she exclaimed happily, continuing to keep Marcus firmly to the ground.
“If you insist!” he shouted back, before bringing up his hands against her chest and tickling her. She gave a shriek and brought her hands up, allowing Marcus to push against her underside with his feet and fling her off of him forcefully. She hit the ground a short distance away and rolled on her side, still laughing as Marcus ran up to her and pinned her down as best he could, trying to tickle her again until she rolled him over and pinned him once more. Kicking out with his feet again, he knocked her away and she landed in the river with a splash, surfacing a couple of feet away as the moderate current swept her along while she swam against it. Marcus ran along beside the riverbed towards her, apologising as he ran, but as soon as he was close enough she whipped her tongue at him and wrapped it around his ankle, pulling him over into the river with an even larger splash. He surfaced and they both grabbed onto the riverbank, pulling themselves out of the water and back up onto comparatively dry land.
They walked back to where they were before, with their arms around each other as Marcus apologised and Shiala jokingly made it out to be worse than in was.
“You’ve gotten me all wet!” she complained he gave her a hug.
Apologetically, Marcus replied, “I didn’t mean to throw you in the river…”
She then muttered something inaudible to Visali, but judging by Marcus’s reply, (a nervous laugh while he scratched the back of his head,) he didn’t particularly think he wanted to.
Looking over to his right while the two Yoshies kissed, he spotted one of the three salvaged Koopa shells shining in the light, a bright, reflective blue. He was startled as Marcus’s tongue suddenly grabbed it and pulled it out of sight, but when he looked back over Visali could see that Marcus had it in his mouth. After a few moments, Visali could see small bulges form on his back, just behind his shoulders, before large, feathery wings burst out, sending stray feathers every which way. Marcus gave muffled curses of pain for a moment before he began to take a run-up, leaping into the air with his cheeks bulging while Shiala watched in awe.
Marcus gracefully flew up high and circled over, giving a muffled cry and pointing downwards. Visali’s eyes widened as he realised that Marcus was pointing at him, and he made a break for it as Shiala began to walk towards him. Shiala gave chase but couldn’t quite catch up to him, at least until Visali skidded on the soft mud and slipped, falling over backwards and leaving a long skid mark in the dirt.
Shiala’s talons dug into the mud and she had no problem catching him as he tried to get back up, tackling him to the ground and pinning him there on his front. He struggled in vain against her grip until Marcus arrived, landing with a loud thud and swallowing the Koopa shell. The wings, no longer sustained by the shell, began to fold in on themselves before shrivelling and falling off of Marcus’s back.
“Uhm… nice flying?” Visali said, trying to break the silence.
“How long were you watching us?” Marcus inquired.
“Well,” came the reply, “I only first saw you two just before you got pinned by a girl.”
“Ha, ha, ha.” Marcus spat. “You’re pinned by a girl, too, in case you hadn’t noticed. Can’t we get any privacy anywhere?”
“Sorry, sorry.” Visali muttered. “I wasn’t intending to spy on you, I was just trying to find out where you had gone to. Can I go now?”
Grudgingly, Shiala got up and off of him, and they headed back to the cave as a three. Along the way, Marcus nudged Visali and asked, “Do you know how those wings work?”
“You don’t know?” The red-orange Yoshi replied, and Marcus shook his head. “Well, it’s actually pretty simple in itself, just hard to work out. The wings themselves don’t have any bones; they’re just cartilage with feathers on them. We, that is to say, the University I’m from, found that when a blue Koopa shell is broken down, it releases a lot of useful chemicals and lots of energy, as well as a hormone that instructs the Yoshi’s body to convert those substances into the feathers and extra cartilage. It’s an exponential occurrence, which is why you get those little bulges swelling slowly then suddenly bursting out like that. We haven’t been able to find out why the wings drop off, but we think it’s something to do with the hormone from the shell.”
Marcus nodded, falling silent again as he took Shiala’s hand and walked.
“Heh, you know,” Visali said quietly, “You remind me of my parents a little… well, my father anyway…”
“How so?” Marcus asked.
“Well, the way you look into Shiala’s eyes, and way you talk to each other and act, as well as the way you… uh… hold each other when you’re kissing…”
He fell silent suddenly, lost in a memory as they kept walking…
* * *
“Visali, have you seen your father?”
The fifteen-year-old Visali looked up from the book he was reading to speak to his mother, a green Yoshi about twenty-six or so. His father, who wasn’t in the room, was greyish and looked a lot younger than he actually was, and had gotten into the habit of telling people he was twenty-two even though he was really twenty-seven.
“No, mom, I haven’t seen him since lunch…”
“Strange. Someone came to the door earlier and I think he’s with them right now, but I can’t find him anywhere here… would you go look in the east wing for me while I check around here again, in case they moved? I know you’re not meant to go in there, but this is important.”
Visali put a bookmark in the book and put it on a nearby table, before straightening his saddle and strolling out the door. His mother watched him as he left; his skin was a bright, vibrant orange tone that she liked so much she’d had one of her rooms redecorated in a colour almost matching it.
Going through one of the double-doors to the eastern wing of his father’s house, Visali immediately heard voices and headed for them, shivering a little as he went. It was very cold in the corridors of his father’s house; he lived in the city of Dhalsa, where snow or at the very least frost covered the ground all year round. Most of the rooms had fireplaces but the halls did not, making rooms and corridors alternate between pleasant warmth and sudden cold.
He easily identified one of the voices as being his father’s, but he didn’t recognise the second one. It was feminine and fairly deep, a voice Visali knew didn’t belong to either of the female housekeepers, a fact that puzzled him for a moment.
Eventually he found the room the voices were coming from, and pressed his head against the door to listen, taking it away as he noticed it was already ajar. Yes, that was his father… but who was the woman? He had to find out…
Pushing the door open just a little bit further and peeking through the gap, he looked inside and saw who it was; standing opposite his father was a pure white Yoshi with long eyelashes, a saddle, and white boots. Visali also noticed that she had a set of swords strapped to her back, and bulging saddlebags strapped firmly to her saddle, hiding the colour of the saddle itself. On each of her sword scabbards he could just make out a symbol that looked like a cross with a dot in each of the gaps.
Then, Visali’s heart sank as he saw them stop talking and embrace each other, pulling together for a kiss, rubbing their arms across each other’s backs as they did so. With a low sigh, he stepped away from the door and sank to the floor against the wall next to it.
“Why?” He said softly to himself. “I thought my parents loved each other… I mean, I’ve heard them arguing, sure, but I never thought that he would actually ever cheat on her…”
He sighed again and held his head in his hands. What was he going to do? His family had always been pretty stable… or had it? How long had his father been with this woman? Had he been with others before?
He had to tell his mother… it was the only way…
Then, the door opened, and both his father and his companion walked out, spotting Visali almost instantly. His father gave him a stern look and scolded him, “Visali, haven’t I told you before not to come here?”
“Yes, but I understand why now…”
Visali pointed an accusing finger at the female Yoshi. “Her!” he shouted. “You’ve been going out with her all this time…”
“You saw us…?”
Visali nodded. “I thought you loved my mother…”
“Son, it’s not what it seems…”
“Oh, isn’t it?” the orange Yoshi roared, enraged. “I’ll bet it’s more! Are you going to divorce my mother? Get married to… to whoever this is? I’m going to tell mom!”
“Wait.” The white Yoshi said. Turning for a moment to Visali’s father, she put a hand on his arm and said, “Vick, let me handle this…”
“I don’t want to hear anything from either of you!” Visali shouted, running out the door and back the way he had come.
“Stay here, Xenly… this is something that I have to sort out with my family. I’m sorry.” Vick muttered, before running after his son. “Visali, come back!”
“…and then I came to tell you.”
Visali’s mother nodded, her fists clenched. She was clearly angry with her husband and as soon as he came through the door she grabbed him and held him up against the nearest wall, gripping folds of flesh on his chest.
Visali didn’t make note of what she was saying; all he knew was that it was very loud and he probably didn’t want to hear it anyway. He couldn’t take it much more and pleaded with them to stop arguing, but his mother paid him no heed.
Eventually, she dropped her husband to the floor, and he scrambled away from her. He got to his feet just as the door opened and the white Yoshi came in, her swords drawn, but with a concerned look on her face as she stepped into the room and started explaining after a second or two of silence.
Visali was grateful to her for a moment, as his mother stopped shouting long enough to hear what she had to say, before turning and yelling at her husband again, and Visali ran out of the room, upset almost to the point of tears.
Just before he closed the door, he heard her shout, “It’s either me and your son, or her! Now choose!”
Sniffling, Visali ran off to his room and curled up on the bed to try and sleep.
When he awoke again, it was eerily quiet inside the house. Somewhat groggily, he made his way back to the master bedroom and listened for voices.
Pushing the door open, he called out, “Mom? Dad?”
Then, he saw them…
His father was lying on the floor on his back with a needle of some kind embedded in his nose, his eyes closed and his mouth half-open. Next to him was Visali’s mother, also lying on her back with a deep cut on her neck soaked in blood, and some red markings on her chest…
He knew in his heart they were both dead, but he walked towards his mother to look at her chest… though as soon as he stood over her, he saw what had been painted on her chest in her own blood; a cross, with four dots, one in each gap…
That person his father had been with was an assassin…
And had killed his parents…
“I have to flee!” he said to himself. “She’ll come back for me… but one day, I’ll find her… and I’ll kill her with my bare hands… no, wait, I’ll create a new weapon to kill her with… that’s it… and I won’t rest until I have taken her last breathe away from her… this, I vow, in the names of all the Yoshi gods…”
Pausing for a moment to recite a prayer for each of his parents, he loaded up his saddlebags with the money he found in their room, before running out into the streets of Dhalsa and away from his home, his family, his life…
* * *
“Are you okay? You’ve gone awfully quiet…”
“Yeah, yeah…” Visali replied, still half-in, half-out of his daydream. “I’m fine… just caught up in memories, that’s all…”
A few minutes later, they met up with the others and headed back in the direction the three Yoshies had just come from, continuing on through the hills and mountains as the sun rose higher in the sky…
To be continued…