Chapter 31 = Perspectives
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.
Strolling along the main street, arms linked, Marcus and Shiala made their way past the stalls and shops lining the road while they looked for one that sold Yoshi gear. The sun was shining brightly and beating down onto the cobblestone road they were taking, except for where the occasional three or four storey building blocked the light and cast shadows down into the street. As the sun crept higher in the sky, they finally found a promising shop and went inside together, immediately feeling relief in the shade from the increasing heat outside.
Marcus was almost as astounded as Shiala; there were shelves upon shelves of saddles, saddlebags, boots, cloaks, and backpacks, accompanied by racks and tables of shoelaces, inner soles, leather straps, and buckles. There was a dark green Yoshi sitting behind a counter with his feet up on the countertop, fanning himself with a folded wad of vaell parchment, and the counter his feet were resting on had a stack of tins of polish on one side, next to a box of pins, clips, and brooches.
“Go pick something out.” Marcus said to her. “Come find me when you’re done… I’m going to take a look around, too.”
She nodded and left him, disappearing behind a display shelf of Yoshi shoes a moment later, leaving Marcus to walk to the very back of the shop, where he looked among the selection of cloaks. Having been thoroughly soaked several times so far on his journey, he picked out a tanned leather mantle, putting it on for a moment to check the size and finding it far too short. Taking a longer and heavier one, he tried it on and nodded to himself in approval as he looked in a nearby mirror; it covered his entire body right down to his legs, though it was open at the back, not that he minded. Taking it off and heading for the counter, he looked in the box next to the polish until he found a shiny wrought iron brooch that he could use to pin the front closed at the top so he wouldn’t have to hold it.
Paying for them with Manny’s money, he walked back over to Shiala, who had amassed a small pile of things from the shelves and was trying them on in sequence, though Marcus guessed that she didn’t have any idea what to go with.
The styles she tried included traditional reddish-orange; a shade of green that clashed horribly with her skin; an outfit of black leather complete with studded leather straps on various parts of her body, which he loathed; and a pair of sandals matched with an extremely small brown leather saddle.
“Come on,” Marcus muttered impatiently, “I could’ve gotten some of that polish and gone over every last inch of my gear by now.”
“If you’re in such a hurry, just go and I’ll catch up.” She snapped, throwing her latest rejection at him, a saddle made from frilly pink lace and similar padding that looked like an oversized cushion, in Marcus’s opinion.
“Fine, fine…” Marcus muttered, giving her the leftover coins and strolling out of the store, holding his cloak over one arm; it was far too hot and unpleasant to wear it right now.
Alziana never had a temper like that, Marcus thought to himself, she was always so sweet and gentle… her patience was finite, yes, but I never needed to test it that far… this has developed into something I didn’t expect. When I first saw Shiala, I never felt much for her… but that’s changing, along with everything else…
Marcus, lost in thought, bumped into somebody in the street and muttered apologetically as he walked on, coming to a stop in the shade of a large building and leaning against a wall. I remember when I met Alziana… that was different…
* * *
Sitting in a chair enjoying the sun, Marcus awoke from his nap at the sound of the voice from his side, absent-mindedly looking over to it, and gasping as his gaze locked onto the source of the voice. Who are you, he thought, and where have you been all my life?
The soft, soothing voice told Marcus that the Yoshi in front of him was a girl, but not just any girl… she was the proverbial girl of his dreams; her skin was a stunning shade of pink, and Marcus couldn’t think of anything more beautiful in the world. His eyes travelled up and down, taking in every detail, from the small red boots she was wearing, past her hands, which were clasped together in front of her chest, and up to her eyes, which she was fluttering at him. She wore a small amount of jewellery, and wore a red saddle that had a shiny patch indicating a recent polish, and a thin leather strap holding it to her body. She was nervously moving her right foot from side to side with the toe of her shoe in the ground, and the movement made her tail sway slightly. To Marcus, she seemed very graceful as she began to gently rock back and forth on the balls of her feet as she looked at him, seeming unsure of what to say next. Marcus fell so deeply in love he forgot about all the other things that were around him; he forgot about Manny, his parents, all the other Yoshies around him, and all of the problems that had been plaguing him recently. All that he could think of was the beautiful Yoshi standing right in front of him, and everything else seemed to just melt away…
* * *
“Ah, Marcus, there you are.”
Breaking out of his daydream, Marcus found Manny by his side, panting a little from the heat. “I got us a place just down the road from Visali’s… they were fairly full, though, so the best I could get was a small family room. I’ll get a bed of my own, but you and Shiala are sharing a double.”
“And you won’t mind that?”
Manny smirked and replied, “Ah, like you said, you two have just been sleeping next to each other, not on top of each other.”
His friend gave a little chortle and led Manny back to the store he’d left Shiala in, showing the blue Yoshi the new cloak he had bought. Manny was just starting on how he thought he might get one when they stepped inside the store itself and stopped dead in their tracks.
“Please tell me that’s not Shiala.” Marcus said.
Manny shook his head and answered, “No way… I wouldn’t want to lie to you, man.”
Shiala turned to face them and Marcus just stared; she had blood-red shoes and a slightly brighter red saddle with a strap coloured like her shoes, which in themselves wouldn’t have been so bad. However, she had also decked herself out in expanses of pinkish-red lace around her ankles, wrists, neck and tail, and lace streamers coming off from her wrists. She gave Marcus a twirl with a smile on her face, before asking the unanswerable, “What do you think?”
Marcus reworded his first reply at least four times before coming up with a slightly kinder reply of, “We came here to make you blend in with the crowd, not stand out even more. Lose the lace and we’ll be fine… and get a set of saddlebags to go with that stuff, too.”
She gave him a reproachful look, but he folded his arms and she started removing the lace in a disheartened manner before looking at the selection of saddlebags. Manny nudged his Marcus’s, whispering to him, “Smooth.” in a slightly impressed tone.
“Like a hatchling’s tail.” Marcus whispered back, waiting patiently while Shiala went and paid for her saddle, saddlebags, and boots, and Manny ran to the back of the store to get a cloak, coming back with a dark leather one that was much darker than Marcus’s skin. He also grabbed a plain, circular, shiny brass clip to go with his cloak, and after paying for his things the three of them left the store and headed back to Visali’s apartment.
Upon arriving back in the room, Xenly rushed up to Manny and took him aside while Marcus and Shiala sat down on the sofa and talked to Dave, noting that Visali and Sira weren’t to be seen.
“Hey, Manny,” Xenly began, “How’d you like to swap rooms? I’ll take the hotel room and you can stay here…”
“Nah.” Manny replied immediately. “I’m fine with sleeping in the same room as them. Why the sudden change of mind?”
“It’s personal…” she muttered.
“Well, if you’re not going to tell me everything, I certainly won’t swap with you, not that I would anyway.”
“I’m begging you!” she said, clutching at the flesh on his chest. “Please, I can’t sleep here, I… it… it’s complicated…”
Pushing her off of him, Manny strode past without another word and went to go catch up on the conversation he had missed part of, leaving Xenly to just stare wistfully at him before following.
Dave was leaning with one hand on the wall and the other by his side, talking to Marcus cheerfully. “…so, are you staying for dinner or getting it at the hotel?”
“Getting it at the hotel.” Marcus replied. “Manny said on the way back that they included a meal with the room, so we’ll get that and then get some sleep.”
Dave gave a thoughtful nod as the door opened again and Visali strode in alone, yet apparently proud of himself for something, judging by his cheerful mood and the way he had his chest stuck out. “I,” he started in a bragging tone, but was cut off by Dave interjecting, “Made up with Sira on a promise that you’re unlikely to fulfil, thus prompting another argument?”
“No, of course not!” Visali sputtered. “I only made that mistake the once. Not only did we make up, but I’ve netted myself a date for tonight, and she’s agreed to come for the tourney tomorrow…”
“Wait, what?” Manny asked. “A tourney?”
“Yeah, like the one in Lince, at the university tomorrow… you need to have registered previously, though.” Visali answered. “I don’t think they’d let you enter, but you can always try if you want. It’s teams of two, by the way, so you’d need a partner.”
“Hey, it’s something to do. Marcus, what do you think?”
Marcus, who hadn’t fully been paying attention and was more focused on Shiala, suddenly turned back and muttered, “What do I think of what?”
“Entering a university tournament together. It’d be fun!”
“Well, uh…” Marcus stalled, “Maybe… I mean, the last one didn’t go to well…”
“Tell you what.” Visali said, taking control of the conversation, “I’ll take you there and you can enter if they’ll let you, otherwise you can watch me and Dave win, how about it? Sira and some other magi-medicine students will be on-hand if you get hurt, so no worries about that.”
“Sounds great!” Manny said, breaking into a grin. “I’ll warn you though, if we enter your chances of winning are somewhat reduced.”
“It’s all talk.” Visali countered with a smirk. “Me and Dave have a little surprise planned, don’t we?”
On cue, Dave stood next to Visali and nodded, saying, “We’ve made a few alterations to our spears… and you haven’t seen all of them, that’s for sure.”
Then, Visali started waving them out the door. “Anyway, I have a date that I have to get ready for, so head for the hotel and you can meet me here tomorrow morning, okay?”
Marcus, Manny, and Shiala were ushered out the door, and Visali closed it behind them, turning to Dave and Xenly. “Hey,” he said, addressing the white Yoshi, “You’ve gone pretty quiet. What’s up?”
“Nothing, nothing.” She muttered. “I’m just tired, that’s all…”
Marcus looked around the hotel room Manny had led them to. It wasn’t much, but it would do; the carpet was a reddish shade much akin to the colour of grape wine, and the walls were plain white but in good condition. There was a bathroom just next to the door, a few tables around the room, some cushioned chairs, a smallish single bed, and a rather large four-poster double bed with hangings the same colour as the carpet.
Manny gave a long, low whistle as he leaned against a wall to let the other two past. “They didn’t tell me that thing was a four-poster,” he mused in Yoshian for Shiala’s benefit, “or I’d push you two out and take it myself.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.” She replied, dropping her backpack. “The floor doesn’t look too comfy.” She then strolled over to the bed and sat down on the side, before flopping down onto her back and remaining there, motionless.
“Now this is comfort.” She said to Marcus. “We’ve only got those cushions back in the feral village… I could get used to this, you know.”
“Don’t get too comfortable, though. We’ve gone through all the food in your backpack and I’m getting hungry, so we’re going down to the hotel restaurant. You coming, Manny?”
Manny shook his head. “Nah, I got a whole bunch of food for myself while I was looking for you. It was on sale and I couldn’t resist… I probably ate too much though…”
Marcus gave a hearty, amused laugh. “You? Eat too much? And you call yourself a Yoshi! Come on, Shiala, let’s leave him and go get something…”
It was much, much later. The evening was fading into night, and Marcus and Shiala were waiting at the dinner table for the bill to arrive, having just enjoyed a lavish three-course dinner, not speaking much to each other while they ate. The restaurant was fairly small, and they had been seated at a two-person table in a dark corner, lit by candles on the table and on wall brackets. Marcus was content to just lean back in his chair and let the meal settle, but Shiala coughed to get his attention, and he leaned across the table towards her, wondering what she wanted.
“Marcus…” she began, “I was just wondering if… uh… you’d like to spend a little more time alone together before we go back to the room…”
“Yeah, sure.” Marcus replied, paying the Birdo waitress that presented him with a bill, before standing up and leading the way out of the restaurant with Shiala in tow. They left the restaurant, but instead of going up the stairs to their room, they left the hotel through its double doors, whereupon Shiala took the lead and led Marcus down to the riverside, though it was lined with concrete and was more like a canal than a river.
It was pleasantly warm as the last of the sun’s rays disappeared, and the two of them sat down next to each other, listening to the calming sound of running water as people went by behind them. It was a clear night, and the moon was reflected in the river water, along with several stars dotting the night sky, a myriad of tiny white circles seemingly random in their arrangement.
Shiala clasped hands with Marcus as they both stared into the river for a few minutes in silence, before she gently leaned over and pulled on him a little to make him face her. He turned in her direction, and she gave him a gentle, loving kiss to the lips before leaning back away from him, keeping her eyes level with his.
“Marcy…” She began, but Marcus suddenly shook his head.
“Don’t call me that.” He commanded.
“Hm? Why? Don’t loving couples always have pet names for each other?”
Marcus sighed. “That was what Alziana called me, too…”
“Look, Marcus…” Shiala said, moving on to what she had intended to say before, “I know that I love you, Marcus, but… do you really love me? I understand that you’re upset by Alziana’s death, but have you really gotten over her enough to hold feelings for someone else, or am I just here for you to fall back on, to help heal the scars and make you feel better?”
“Yes and no.” Marcus replied slowly. “You’re doing those things for me… but that’s not how I feel about you. You’re… different from the way she was, and I appreciate that… you’re not Alziana, but I still have feelings for you because you’re nice to me, you’re kind, and you love me… it’s complex, but I think we can work it out…”
“Just so long as we’re clear on that.” She said, putting an arm around him. “I don’t want to be used and cast aside…”
“No.” Marcus muttered. “I could never do that to anyone. I’m not that sort of person.”
“I never said you were.” She replied, and gave him another kiss, stroking his shoulders while she did so.
Marcus smirked as she drew back and remarked, “You’re very deep for someone two years younger than I am.”
She chuckled and answered back, “That’s what makes me so special, right?”
“Exactly.” Marcus whispered, leaning forward to kiss her again, putting his arms under hers and holding her close to him as they kissed beneath the light of the early night sky…
I have to kill him. I have to kill him. I have to kill him…
Xenly was lying on her back on the sofa, wide awake, her swords within her reach on the floor just next to the sofa, her senses attuned to any movement or sound around her. She was holding a throwing star in her hands, turning it over, gazing at it as she formulated a plan…
If I leave him long enough, he’ll figure it out for himself and then he’ll be harder to kill… I have to enter that tournament tomorrow; that will make it easier for me… I can just say I lost control or didn’t mean to kill him, and I’ll be fine…
She stopped suddenly as she heard voices outside, muffled by the soundproofed door. Visali and Sira, no doubt… Dave was in his room and the door to that was closed, but she had seen him take his quadra spear and several metal parts in with him.
I need a partner for that tournament if I want to enter though… maybe I can separate Marcus and Manny, but I’d need to bribe one of them with something… and I simply don’t have anything that would suffice…unless Shiala would…
She shook her head. Maybe something like a blow dart from the crowd… it wouldn’t be traceable, and it would be silent…
I know that Vick wouldn’t want me to do this, but it’s for my own safety. But it’s my own fault that I’m in this mess… and it’ll be me that gets me out of it.
I simply have to kill him.
To be continued…