Chapter 42 = Right or wrong?
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.
Shiala was pacing back and forth briskly in the hotel room, looking out into the storm outside and wringing her hands nervously, waiting for Marcus to come back. She knew she’d overdone it this time; she had never seen Marcus cry before and was dearly hurt herself by what she had done to him, even though she had intended to help him as much as possible. Continually cursing herself under her breath, her head was filled with visions of what could be happening to him… he might have run off and left her for good… committed suicide in his misery…
“No, he wouldn’t do that to me…”
“What?” Manny asked, and she became aware that she had spoken aloud. He continued, “Look, if you’re worried you can borrow my cloak and go look for him, but if I know Marcus like I think I do, he’ll just be staring at his reflection in the river or something like that.”
“You don’t understand! He was upset… he was crying! I never wanted to do that to him. And what if that cloak doesn’t protect him enough and he catches a cold, or pneumonia, or something worse?”
Manny shook his head despairingly and went back to polishing his sword. “You’re just doing what Alziana used to do; blow the smallest thing right out of all proportion, run around in a fit of worry and leap on him when he returned, bawling apologies and promising never to upset him again.”
“What are you talking about?” Shiala asked, intrigued.
“Like I said before; don’t believe everything he tells you about her. She could be a bad little girl when she wanted to, and had a major weakness for alcohol. I almost managed to get them broken up by underestimating what she might do while drunk, you know. Not intentional, I assure you, but a lesson for the both of them nonetheless. She could be pretty foul-mouthed and violent as well, even without a drink or two; once or twice I incurred her wrath and heard worse language than you’d find in a dark bar in the corner of this city. She was innocent once, then she met Marcus and they both became a lot less charming and a lot more annoying.”
“But he’s been gone for so long…”
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Shut up!” Shiala yelled, stunning Manny by the outburst. “I don’t care what lies you have to say! If Marcus wants me to hear something, he’ll tell me! I don’t want you to blacken his name or insult his family and friends, and I certainly don’t want you slandering Alziana! I love him and I don’t want to see him hurt!”
Manny stayed quiet and resumed polishing his sword, casting glances over to her as she paced back and forth once more, until she flopped onto the bed and lay there on her back.
“Gods, I beseech you, please keep him safe, don’t hurt us or tear us apart… deliver him to my arms in good health and-”
Before she could finish the prayer, Shiala heard the door open and saw Marcus’s cloak get thrown onto a spare chair where it could drip. She jumped off of the bed, leaping into Marcus’s arms as he walked further into the room, squeezing him tightly and clinging to his body with a death grip, bringing her legs up and using them to help keep hold of him. She knocked him back a step or two as a result, but he regained his footing and hugged her as tightly as he could, rubbing the side of his head against hers affectionately.
“Are you okay?” She asked in a worried tone.
“I am now…” He whispered to her, running his hands along her back, feeling happy to have her with him once more. She let go of him enough to stand face-to-face with him, until she spotted something on his right arm and tried to look at it to work out what it was.
On Marcus’s right arm, between his elbow and shoulder, was the symbol of the Octotheist religion; eight circles on the edge of a larger circle, traced onto his skin with a black dye and a very thin paintbrush. Shiala gasped and looked back up at him, and he gave a small smile, saying softly, “I ended up at a Yoshian church, and… well, one thing led to another. I think I’ve made the right decision, though… the Yoshi who was there said that it would come off but my belief would remain, symbolic of the way that things that disappear are never truly gone.”
Manny had also spotted the symbol and ran forward to look, before smirking and giving Marcus a solid backslap. “Good choice, Marcus… I can tell just by looking at you now you’ve already changed. What made you decide to convert?”
The brown Yoshi put his hands on his friends’ shoulders, saying, “Let’s just say that I finally found some answers to questions I’ve been asking myself a long time… and I previously never could answer. Once I actually listened, and thought about what Octotheism says… it made so much sense to me I knew I’d be stupid to deny it any longer.”
He pulled the two of them into a group hug and they both hugged back, before Marcus broke away and told them, “It’s stopped raining, by the way. Shall we go out and see the city some more?”
“Yeah, sure.” Manny replied, nodding. “I’m going to go get Visali and head back to that bar I was at last night, though, but I’ll wait until it’s dark. Until then… let’s go!”
Marcus quite liked the city as it was now; there were only a few people on the streets, as most people were waiting to make sure the rain wasn’t going to start again, but it wasn’t completely deserted. He was walking along under his cloak with an arm around Shiala, and Manny was walking next to them, also wearing his cloak, talking amiably to the other two as they walked.
“Hey, Marcus, if we find enough silver to make a sword, do you want to wield it, or should I?”
“Ah, you can have it, Manny… I’m not a good swordsman, but you’ve had some practice.”
“Okay… but let’s wait until we get to Sansata to look. I don’t really like the idea of carrying a second sword or several lumps of silver across country to the next city…”
“Hey, Manny, once this is over with, what do you plan to do?”
“I’m not sure, really… I might come back here and see if Visali can recommend a good course at the University… why, what about you?”
“I don’t know either.” Marcus answered. “I might go back to the feral village with Shiala… but then again, I might have more to do…”
“With me being a saviour and all… I may have to keep fighting after we take down Foryo…”
“Yeah, I knew that, but I was talking about once we’d completely finished everything… assuming we’re all still alive, of course. Why d'you want to go the feral village?”
“It’d be a nice, peaceful life, you know? Just me and Shiala living together… away from all the stresses and worries of city life… no rent, no food bills, no money worries at all… just living off the land with someone I love.”
“Well, it sounds idealistic, but I don’t know if I’d be cut out for that sort of life… but I could come and visit you, right?”
“Of course! You’ll still be my friend, I imagine…”
As they passed by an alleyway they heard a high-pitched cry, and turned to look in the direction it came from. Despite being sheltered by tall buildings on both sides, enough light was shining into the alley for the three Yoshies to see an appalling sight.
Four humans, teenage males, had a green baby Yoshi less than half their size, and were kicking it between them like a ball, laughing whenever it screamed in pain and clearly revelling in the torture they were inflicting. There were streaks of blood on the cobblestone road, and the baby was bleeding from many points on its body, sometimes in small trickles, sometimes in a steady flow. As one kick carried it onto to the middle of the alley and it landed on its front, its gaze caught that of the three Yoshies, and it feebly reached out for them for a moment before it was kicked again.
“This is sickening.” Manny murmured, narrowing his eyes in disgust.
“I can’t watch…” Shiala said, looking away.
Marcus remained silent for a moment, before taking long strides forward with his cloak billowing out behind him until the humans stopped as they noticed the visitor. The brown Yoshi clenched his fists and demanded, “Why are you torturing that baby?”
“Don’t try to stop us.” One of them said. “Or they’ll never find your body…”
All four of them pulled knives out from their pockets and brandished them at Marcus, who stood there unimpressed. “Just hand it over and I may just let you live…”
“You want him?” Another taunted. “Go get him!”
He ran up to the little baby, who had been trying to crawl away, and kicked it hard at an angle so that it went flying up into the air and smacked against a brick wall, leaving a blood stain where it hit the bricks before falling down onto its front and crying. An uncontrollable rage came over Marcus, and he felt his hands twitching by his side as he tried to restrain himself from running forward and trying to strangle the nearest human. Marcus edged his way over to the little Yoshi, but just as he was about to bend down and pick it up, the four teenagers set upon him and he was forced back, quickly dodging a couple of stabs from the ones who got close to him.
Out of the corner of his eye, Marcus saw the little baby look up with its big, saddened eyes, and Marcus turned back to the humans, staring the nearest one in the eyes. Fury overcame him, and he raised his right hand up towards the human with the fingers spread out, but what happened next took him completely by surprise…
As though his anger reached a peak, he felt a wave of something pass through him and focus at his fingertips, where a small, red pentagram of light formed and faded before purple bolts of what looked to be electricity blasted out from his hands and struck all four humans, knocking them off their feet. All this happened in a single second, and a stunned Marcus stood there frozen to the spot with his arm extended, unable to comprehend how, or indeed what, he had just done.
Seeing the humans starting to get to their feet, Marcus narrowed his eyes and bluffed, “Get out of my sight or I’ll do it again!”, while trying to sound confident and not somewhat scared. They scrambled to their feet and took off like a shot, running out of the alley and down the road, past a completely astounded Manny and Shiala, staring at Marcus with wide eyes and open mouths.
Trying to act like nothing had happened, Marcus ran over to the baby Yoshi and picked it up, detecting faint breaths from it accompanied by weak whimpers of pain. It was badly injured, but still alive, and the look in its bright eyes was one of hopelessness and despair. Marcus gently touched the tip of its nose with his index finger and comfortingly said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay… I’ll take you somewhere safe…”
It clutched at his chest and rested its head on his skin, while blood ran down from a large abrasion on the side of its head, and tears streaked down its white cheeks. Cradling the little one, Marcus strode back towards Manny and Shiala, who stepped backwards as he approached them and made warding signs with their hands, but Marcus no longer attempted to disguise his feelings and called out to them in a wavering voice, “I don’t know how I did that… but… I have no intentions of attacking you… so please, just come here and co-operate…”
Slowly and uneasily, his two friends stepped forwards, keeping their eyes on him as they nervously approached him, weary of being stuck down themselves by whatever power Marcus had just displayed. Shiala was the first to overcome her fear and come close to Marcus, cautiously standing next to him and putting an arm around him as he held the baby close to his chest.
“Daddy…” he heard it cry in Yoshian, and Marcus tried to cradle it in his arms.
“Don’t worry… I’ll find your daddy…”
“No… daddy’s gone… mommy’s gone…”
Marcus gently hugged the baby. “I can find them, everything will be okay… just hang on…”
“No, no… they’re gone, they’re dead…”
Marcus fell silent, and Shiala held her arms out so that Marcus could hand the little Yoshi over to her. Although it was generally just a smaller version of themselves, it wore no saddle, its tail was very small, and its head was out of proportion to its body moreso than usual. It feebly held onto Shiala’s orange chest, and she hefted it up onto her shoulder so it could wrap its arms around her neck, keeping it there for a moment before asking, “Why did those people attack you?”
“I tried to get away…” it replied faintly, and Marcus could see its eyelids droop slowly. “My parents are dead… mommy… daddy… both gone… I got sent to a big place with lots of other kids with no parents… but they were all humans… they teased me… they picked on me… I tried to escape… but those four… they came after me… and hurt me… I don’t wanna die…”
“You won’t.” Shiala said softly, patting its back with one hand. She could see Marcus and Manny standing side-by-side, watching her as she consoled the little orphan. “We know someone who can make you better…”
“I don’t wanna go back to that place.” The baby sniffled. “Don’t send me back… please…”
“We’re not humans.” Shiala replied, with a biting tone to her voice. “We won’t hurt you. We’re going to make you better. But tell us… what’s your name?”
“Tammy.” The baby replied in a very faint voice. “Short for Tamaroro… but Tammy… sounds like… girl’s name…”
Tammy’s voice went very quiet, and his head sagged sideways on Shiala’s shoulder, prompting the red Yoshi to take him off her shoulder and hold him in front of her. “Tammy? Are you okay?” She asked, but there was no reply.
“C’mon, get up…” She said softly, starting to walk forwards, before breaking into a run, followed closely by her companions as they raced back to Visali’s flat, hoping against hope to find Sira there…
To be continued…