Chapter 34 = Start the second round
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.
Again, Marcus paid little to no attention on the other fighters, only mildly interested by a fight that erupted into little short of a brawl after some harsh words were exchanged, resulting in a double disqualification and a reserve team being called up. He preferred far more to stay focused on Shiala, but once the fourteenth round started he suddenly found himself to be extremely thirsty and offered to get some drinks, and was immediately swamped with orders.
After hearing directions from Visali, he headed back out through the locker rooms and down two corridors, muttering to himself. “Watermelon juice for Shiala… Manny wants some melon wine or just melon juice if they don’t have wine… Dave wants some milk… Visali asked for some kind of cocktail… uh… what was it called…”
Lost in thought, Marcus rounded a corner and bumped into a turquoise Yoshi, apologising as he stepped aside. As he was just starting to head away, the purple Yoshi called back, “Hey, have you seen a black Yoshi recently? He’s my tournament partner and I can’t find him anywhere…”
“Sorry, can’t help.” Marcus replied without thinking, continuing onwards to get the drinks.
Meanwhile, Manny and Shiala were talking to each other amiably while the current fight continued, though it wasn’t of much interest as both fighters were being extremely defensive.
Shiala sighed and continued, “…I don’t see what I have to do… I’m trying to please him, but I just don’t know how. I mean, I tried all those different things in the clothes shop, and he didn’t really display any preference… I thought he might like the black leather or the lace… and I’ve tried different tacks with him, laying it onto him gently, quickly, somewhere in between… and I’ve tried to show him that I’m strong…”
“No, no, no, Shiala.” Manny answered. “You’re thinking this through too much. Just go with your impulses, your instincts… plus, if you really want my advice, romanticise him, or if that doesn’t work, make him feel guilty.”
“I don’t want to do that, but I’ll see if I can try and be less straightforward…”
“You’re doing well, you know. But if you’re trying to take it that one step further with him, I’d advise that you give up and wait until he wants to. I’ve known him for a lot longer than you have, so trust me.”
She nodded as Marcus arrived and opened up his saddlebags after handing Manny his change, and started taking out small, rectangular, sealed boxes of things he’d bought at a refreshments stand. “Watermelon juice for Shiala, melon wine for Manny, milk for Dave, spiced wine for Xenly, pineapple juice for me… sorry, Visali, they wouldn’t mix you something so I just got you some wine.”
“Ah, it’s okay.” The red-orange Yoshi said, taking the box from Marcus and opening it with his teeth.
A sudden cheer as Marcus sat down made them all look forward; at long last, one team had won and the winners were heading back to the stands, the losers leaving the hall to go sit with the spectators.
“And about time.” Manny muttered darkly as he took a sip of his wine. “I thought they’d take all day.”
Once more, the blue Birdo stood up and amplified her voice with the Vocita Maxima spell. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve almost finished the first round… we only have two more rounds to go. Our next fight is between two non-university teams. The first team is a pair of male Yoshies, one blue and one brown, Manny Sennet and Marcus ‘Yoshi’. Their other team is another couple of male Yoshies, both ex-assassins, one black and one purple, using their call-signs ‘Zelva’ and ‘Vhi-lo’. Our first team is using a shortsword and a flail, and the second team is fighting with… pardon?”
Someone was talking very quickly to the Birdo, and she was nodding every so often, apparently hearing an update of some kind. Marcus also saw Sira running up to them, and she stopped by Visali just as the Birdo started to call out again.
“It seems that the second team is missing… and that the black Yoshi from earlier is one member of the team. The remaining team member is automatically disqualified… bad luck to him. In that case, we shall progress onto the final fight in the first round…”
Sira started speaking to Visali then, and Marcus could only barely hear her. “Like she said, that black Yoshi was a tournament contender… and an assassin. I don’t know what you’ve gotten into, but it seems someone is after you… maybe more than one person, as we found a tiny, poison-laced puncture mark on his nose. Someone wants you dead, from the looks of things.”
Visali swallowed heavily. “Thanks, Sira… I’ll watch out from now on.”
“Please do that.” She said, giving him a pat on the shoulder, before running back down to the other magi-medicine students.
There’s something strange about all this… Visali thought to himself as the fight began below. I wonder if it’s at all connected to the assassin that slew my parents… or maybe Xenly, she’s an assassin, too…
After the final fight ended and a quick break was called, Marcus saw the blue Birdo take down the entry forms of the losers from the tournament board, and shuffle the remaining ones before putting them back up in a random order. After checking the new order, she stood back up on the stage and shouted, “We are now down to sixteen teams for the second round, meaning another eight matches in this round. Bets are now closed once more until the round is over. Our first matchup is Maria Slikan and Gemma Mortir against Marcus ‘Yoshi’ and Manny Sennet, who haven’t actually fought yet. Let’s see what they can do…”
“I’ll go first.” Manny said, as they left the stands and headed down to the ring, closely followed by their opponents, still dressed in their veils. Marcus stood on the outside of the ring with one hand on the ropes and the other holding his flail, and Manny took up his position in the corner of the arena, facing the blue Yoshi who was holding her whip in one hand and resting her other hand on her hip.
Once the bell rang, Manny held up his sword defensively, and his opponent half-closed one eye in a questioning look, as neither of them moved for a moment. Manny then took a cautious step forward, quickly swinging his sword as she tried to whip him, and knocking away the whip as he quickly held his sword defensively again. Suddenly, she whipped at him and caught the edge of his leg, and he gave a stifled cry as he winced.
“Did you like that?” she taunted, “There’s plenty more if that’s what you’re into…”
Manny narrowed his eyes and leapt forwards, narrowly missing her with a subsequent sideways slash, taking another step forwards to attack but instead receiving a whip across the face and stumbling backwards in a brief panic.
“Come on, is that all you have to offer?” she said sneeringly, striking out with the whip again but missing him as he jumped to one side. When she whipped him again, he raised his sword and caught the whip on it, whereupon the end wrapped around Manny’s sword and Maria pulled backwards, almost taking the sword right out of Manny’s hands. He pulled back furiously and dragged her forwards, but she regained her footing and strained to pull away, becoming locked in a tug-of-war with her opponent until the end of the whip finally slid off of the sword.
Taking a chance, Manny lunged forwards and slashed at Maria, only just catching her front and succeeding only in cutting open part of her silk garment, exposing her chest and some of her coloured skin. Quickly stepping backwards, she called out, “Oh, is that how you want to fight? Two can play at that game, you know…”
Before Manny’s eyes, she slowly stripped off her headdress, removed the veil over her mouth and nose, and gave him a seductive wink, starting to slowly step towards him, inching forward ever so slowly as she swished her hips from side to side…
“Manny, look out!” Marcus shouted, but it was too late; while he was distracted by her actions, she brought up her whip and caught him across the face, using the momentum to bring the whip around and down in the opposite direction, carving a cross-shaped welt into his nose. She then leapt up into the air and came down on him, kicking her legs, and he fell down to the platform with a grunt. Maria jumped off of him and whipped his chest twice while he was on the floor, making him shout in pain, and after she gave him another three solid whips, plus a painful-sounding firm lash to his tail, he started pounding on the floor and cried, “I give up! I give up! I surrender!”
“Sissy.” Marcus muttered to himself as the bell rang to signal an interlude while a whimpering yet dry-eyed Manny was picked up and carried off, and Marcus climbed up and into the ring. Maria quickly snatched her discarded clothes up with her tongue, pulled them towards her, peeled them off her tongue and put them back on as Marcus took up a defensive stance, until the bell rang once more to start the next part of the fight.
Pouncing, Marcus swung his flail at her chest and narrowly missed as she bent back, rolling off to one side to avoid her counterattack, before leaping up from the floor and swinging at her back. Missing by a fraction of an inch, he took a whip lash to his right arm, wincing as he quickly stepped off to one side to avoid a second whipping. When she whipped at him once more he caught it on his flail, and though the end wrapped around it, he kept a firm hold and tried to pull away just as Manny had. Maria pulled back quite forcefully until she noticed that Marcus was grinning, but didn’t have time to react before he whipped her with his tongue, catching her off guard. She stumbled back and lost her grip just enough for Marcus to pull the whip away from her, picking it up and holding it triumphantly as she gave a sigh and left the ring.
Confidently, Marcus held his ground as Gemma stepped over the ropes, but once the bell rang, she leapt up into the air and kicked at him, almost hitting him as he only managed to dodge to the side at the last possible moment. She landed hard on the ring floor and swung her whip at him, but he ducked, and though he was unable to recover in time for the upcoming downward swing, Gemma’s aim was off and she hit the leather top of his saddle. Taking advantage of the miss, Marcus jumped forwards while she was pulling her whip back, hitting her across the chest with his the flail balls. The spikes tore strips out of her clothing but didn’t hurt her very much, and she kicked him away with a quick strike to his chest, before stepping back quickly and taking aim with another lash that struck one of Marcus’s legs.
He stepped away from her and, once more, attempted to get the balls of his flail spinning around the end of the handle, but failing yet again, much to his distress. Abandoning the attempt as he dodged another whip from Gemma, he took a large step forward and swung for her head, succeeding only in tearing the veil off her nose and cutting a very shallow wound into her flesh. With an enraged roar, she swung wildly at him, striking him three times in a flurry of attacks before she missed and hit the floor, upon which Marcus put his foot on the end of the whip and dragged it towards himself.
However, Gemma pulled fiercely and took Marcus’s leg out from under him, causing him to stumble backwards. She took a good lash at him, but he almost managed to dodge it and only received a strike to the tip of his tail. Pouncing, he dove onto the ground and slid under her legs, swinging upwards with his flail and nailing her tail, making her cry out and jump off of him, tripping over his legs in the process. She fell to the floor and Marcus quickly rolled over, pinning her down and holding her there until the bell rang to signify that he was victorious.
The brown Yoshi jumped off of his fallen opponent and went over the ropes to see Manny, who promptly gave him a firm backslap and almost knocked him to the ground. “Great work, man! That panned out just like Visali’s fight…”
“The hotshot went down first?” Marcus quipped, and Manny went slightly red.
“That’s not what I meant, but… whatever. Let me go get these whip welts healed before we go back to the stands…”
“Hey, wait up!” came a voice from behind them, and they turned around to find themselves face-to-face with their opponents.
“Nice work beating us… come see us at our club sometime.” Maria said, handing Manny a small scrap of Vaell that appeared to be a business card.
“We’ll give you a discount.” Gemma added, and the two of them left the hall together.
Marcus saw a smile creep onto Manny’s face, and the blue Yoshi muttered, “Now that’s what I call a victory prize…”
Visali watched in an absent-minded manner while thoughts raced through his head, listening only for his name.
Who killed that assassin? Was it his companion? Another assassin?
His gaze travelled past Marcus, Shiala and Manny, to where Xenly was sitting motionless, her gaze fixed on the ring below. She wasn’t here when that happened… it’s suspicious… with all these assassins around, are any of them likely to be the one who murdered my parents?
He looked back down to his quadra spear, which he had laid on the floor for now. Will this be enough for me when the time finally comes? Will it be good enough to earn me victory?
He then focused on Sira, who was watching the match intently in case she needed to intervene. I don’t want to lose her… however, I made a vow, and I can’t just forget that… but an assassin… there’s a good chance I could die, but still…
Xenly and Shiala shuffled past him as their names were called, and the red-orange Yoshi spotted Xenly’s saddlebags still strapped to her back. Why is she still wearing those? Does she never go anywhere without her equipment?
The answers will come when they want to…
To be continued…