Chapter 40 = Some things you can’t escape
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 the morning came again, Marcus woke from his sleep to the sound of sheets of rain slamming against the windows of the hotel, something that Marcus took as a sign that his day could only get worse. Not wanting to get up, he stayed where he was, half-asleep with an arm around Shiala, and nuzzled up to her sleeping form in an affectionate manner, before peacefully lying still and waiting for her to wake from her slumber.
When at last she awoke, she gave a pleased hum and nuzzled back against him, before turning over and rubbing noses with Marcus, saying, “Morning, Marcy… sleep well?”
“Of course I did… but what about you?” Marcus replied, before lowing his voice to a whisper. “No more nightmares?”
“No, none… just some memories of time we’ve shared together.”
He smiled at her and hugged her tightly, before turning over and parting the hangings of the bed to see if Manny was around. The blue Yoshi, though in the room, looked pretty miserable; he was sitting on the edge of a chair with a blanket wrapped around him like a cloak, and he was stirring some kind of drink using a spoon, with a miserable look on his face. He looked up and nodded at Marcus in greeting, before taking the spoon out of his mug and taking a sip of the liquid.
“Not having an early morning drink, are we?” Marcus asked, and Manny scowled.
“Not a chance, not after last night. Seven beers… I should’ve known better, once I discovered how strong the stuff was. Don’t shout, okay? The rain is enough to keep me awake and add to my headache. I got a cartload of food for you, by the way… it’s on that table over there.”
“Thanks, Manny.” Marcus said, before letting the hangings fall back, and got out of the bed and donned his gear, accompanied by Shiala. Checking the tray of food, Marcus wondered if it really had been a cartload at some point; there was a large bowl of fruits, all ripe-looking and juicy, a basket of small bread rolls, plenty of meat like bacon and sausages, some fried chicken eggs, grilled tomatoes, fried potatoes, toast, fried toast, and plenty more appetising food that Marcus and Shiala cleared away most of in a short space of time.
“So, how did your night go?” Manny inquired, taking another sip of what smelled like some kind of herbal drink. “Being drunk may not be fun, but getting that way sure is.”
“Ah, it was… you know… we didn’t do much, but we were together, and that’s all that mattered. What happened after I… uh… blacked out?”
“Oh, not much. Visali killed Xenly.”
“He what?” Marcus said, shocked. “Why?”
“Remember how she talked about Vick Lestan? Apparently, he was Visali’s father, so he didn’t take too well to making the link between her and her father’s murderer. Given the amount of blood that was on his quadra spear, I don’t think there’s much of her left, wherever her body is…”
Marcus dipped his head sadly. “Even though she did that… she was still our friend…”
“It was one or the other, Marcus. They had to settle it… and there was no way one of them was going to let the other live. At least they didn’t both die.”
“True…” Marcus murmured. “But I can’t do anything about it…”
The brown Yoshi trailed off and wandered around for a minute, before going to the window and looking out into the storm. Rain was lashing against the windows in torrents, and Marcus could see a clever system of gutters in the cobblestones taking the water away so that the streets didn’t get flooded. He thought for a moment before remembering something, and turned back to his friend.
“Hey, Manny, how much money have you got?”
“Uh… let’s see… after what I spent on beer last night… and what we spent on Yoshi gear… plus everything else… I think I’ve got about four thousand four hundred coins left, give or take a hundred or so.”
“Do you know how much silver costs?”
“No idea, Marcus. Why do you ask?”
With a sigh, Marcus started undoing the catch on his saddlebag containing the octagram. “There’s something I need to tell you about, Manny… it’s important if we ever get to Sansata…”
Manny drained his mug and looked at Marcus expectantly, his eyes widening as he saw the octagram and the six jewels held by it. Even though he’d seen it before, it still was a shock to him, as he’d forgotten about it, and also didn’t want Marcus to know Shiala had already shown it to him. “I found this when we were in that cave between here and the feral village… Shiala tells me it’s a sacred object from the octotheist religion…”
“Marcus, that’s an octagram… only saviours chosen by the gods themselves can find them… and those six gems… you’ve met with some of the gods, right?”
“Yes… and one of them told me… that Foryo… is a vampire.”
Manny went quiet, his face genuinely pale, and Marcus continued, “He said that if we want to kill him, we need a weapon made out of silver… and Laryshka needs to bless it for us… otherwise, we won’t be able to hurt him.”
In a low tone, Manny suddenly leant forward and said, “Marcus… have you ever had second thoughts about this? Us going up against him? I mean… it seemed okay at the start, but now… it keeps looking harder and harder… I know it might be… taking the easy way out, but… maybe we should quit while we’re ahead?”
“They said I have to do it… I have to fight him and defeat him.”
Manny swallowed, and nodded solemnly. “I understand… and you’re my friend, so… I’ll go with you.”
“Yes… I’d want all the help I could get in your position, and if it has to be done… I don’t want you to do it alone.”
“Thanks again, Manny.” Marcus said with a smile.
“No problem…” Manny murmured, but his tone told Marcus that he genuinely was worried.
After a few moments of silence, Marcus turned around and headed back for the four-poster bed, finding Shiala hidden behind the curtains. She patted the mattress to invite him over, and he climbed up onto the bed to talk to her.
“Come here, Marcy…” She said softly, in a much sweeter tone than normal, as opposed to the slightly seductive tone she normally used on him.
“Yes?” he asked as he lay down next to her.
“Marcus… I want to talk to you… about Alziana.”
Marcus’s eyes dipped, but he gave a reluctant nod. “Okay. What exactly do you want to talk about?”
“I want you to do the talking… tell me everything about her… let it out, Marcus… let it go, let her go, tell me all of your maybes, your what-ifs, all your daydreams… everything. Let it out.”
Marcus gave a deep sigh. “She was a pink Yoshi… I met her one day in the Shoreside Village… she just came over and tried to talk to me, but… I don’t know… it was kind of uncomfortable because we were pretty young… we didn’t really become friends or anything at that point, and it was much, much later when I finally talked to her again… and we became friends that time. It grew from there… first it was the hand holding, then the hugs, then the nose rubbing… then the kiss… I’ll never forget that, no matter what, because it changed my life forever. I had a girlfriend… I had someone who cared as deeply about me as I cared about them… someone who always understood how I was feeling… someone who could make me feel warm in the fiercest winds… we were always there to help each other, but she always wanted to come with me and Manny when we went into the forest… but, if I’d let her come, she might have been hurt, so I didn’t. Maybe she was old enough that one last time when I refused…”
After a moment of silence, Shiala put a hand on his shoulder, and he felt compelled to continue. “She was quite meek and timid when we first got together… she rarely talked or got close to me, and I always had to make the first move, but I was shy and didn’t like to do that. Still, we got closer regardless… we could spend hours together talking, with me sitting behind her with my arms around her, or me lying on her lap with her stroking my fins… she liked sunsets, too… we used to go down to this raised bit near the beach and watch the sunset together…”
“I used to make a lot of romantic comments, too… she liked those, I think… she eventually liked to give me kisses frequently, and I liked them, too… and I was always visiting the travelling merchants that came by… getting her bits of jewellery… rings, necklaces… she didn’t like to wear it in public, but when we were going to spend the night together, she decked herself out in the stuff I’d bought her… it wasn’t much, since I didn’t have a lot of cash, but it was the gesture that counted…”
“One other thing she liked was sleeping under the stars… in the summer, if it was a nice, warm night, we’d go to the cliff together and take some blankets, and lay them out, and sleep next to each other…”
Marcus sighed once more, listening to the rain beat against the window. “She seemed like the perfect girl to me… she was very pretty… but she was smart, too, and had a caring personality… she was always worried about me, and I was worried about her, too… I always thought something would happen to her while I was away, but as soon as I got over that fear, something happened…”
Marcus fell silent and refused to speak, shaking his head when Shiala prodded him. “Keep going.” She urged. “Tell me how she died… you have to finish this…”
He drew a long, low breath, before speaking softly to her, holding her close to him for comfort as though he was attempting to draw strength from her. “When me and Manny returned to the village… it wasn’t there. All the houses had been levelled… in some places there was nothing left at all… we first met Xenly there… but when it occurred to me to look for Alziana, I almost immediately felt pain because I knew she couldn’t have survived… we went to her house and uncovered her body… she was in terrible shape… cuts and bruises… shattered ribs… but it was her blood that hurt me the most, because I knew she couldn’t recover if blood was coming from her mouth… I… couldn’t take it… I fell onto her body in tears… and she woke up… I thought she was going to live, I thought she’d make it… I thought that I was being given a second chance… but… after she told me that she’d heard the mercenaries call Foryo’s name… and she gave me the ring… she died… I… kissed her just as she died, but… I… don’t know… if I… was… quick… enough…”
Marcus was sniffling and holding back tears as he finished, ending with, “S-she d-died… r-right before m-my e-eyes… r-right in m-my a-arms… if I h-hadn’t… h-had to s-see that… t-then m-maybe I wouldn’t b-be so h-hurt… b-but… if I’d b-been q-quicker…”
He couldn’t finish, and tears streamed down his face faster than he could wipe them off. Distressed, he hopped off the bed and grabbed his cloak, heading for the door before Shiala could protest, sprinted down the stairs, out of the hotel, and into the rain, pinning the top closed with the brooch in the process.
Marcus didn’t know or care where he was going… he just kept running, taking random turns, going in circles once or twice, running to escape… to get away from the painful memories… to escape the torture he lived in…
The rain beat down on him and rolled off his cloak, but soaked his exposed head, and he finally came to a stop in a deserted street near a large building. Noticing that it had an overhang covering the door, he ran up to it and leant against it, taking refuge from the torrential downpour, before noticing that he was resting his head on a metal plaque. He turned around to read it, slowly scanning the deep-cut letters of the Yoshian alphabet, spelling out:
YOSHIAN CHURCH OF THE OCTOTHEIST RELIGION
Marcus stared blankly at it. All his random turns, his running, had brought him to the doors of a church, a house of a religion that he shunned… but he was having second thoughts… the octagram… the meetings with the gods…
Making a decision, Marcus lifted the ring on the door and turned it, before going inside.
To be continued…