Chapter 44 = Double-cross
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.
“Yasei-Yeiko will see you now.” Gemma said to them, leading them across the club floor to a partially concealed, guarded door at the far end of the club. Manny had managed to nurse just a single drink while he had been waiting, but Visali had put away three times as much, leading Manny to the conclusion that his companion spent a fair number of his free nights at the club’s bar.
“Sounds like an odd name for a Yoshi.” Manny murmured, as the guards either side of the door – female Yoshies under light leather armour, Manny noted – frisked them for weapons and let them through when they found none.
“She’s… well… you’ll find out soon enough.” Gemma replied mysteriously, leading them through the door and into a narrow, dimly lit corridor, and all the way down to the end of it, where a double door barely smaller than the width of the corridor spanned the end of the wall. It had latch rings instead of door handles, and Gemma lifted one of them up, turning it to the side and pushing the door open for the two male Yoshies to see inside.
It was a fairly small room, but there was an alcove set into the far side, obscured by semi-transparent, yellow silk hangings, and a few dark red curtains tied back against the edges of the alcove. A multitude of candles behind the hangings cast a silhouette of a Yoshi-shaped creature onto the silk, and wall-mounted torches illuminated the rest of the room, showing little other than a small treasure chest, a furry carpet extending from under the silk, and a chair off to one side on which Maria was sitting. Dressed in various veils like Gemma, and carrying an uncomfortably familiar whip, she nodded at Manny in recognition as he and Visali stepped inside cautiously.
“Don’t worry.” She said lightly as she noticed his eyes fixed on the whip, “I won’t use it unless you try to pick a fight.”
“I doubt that they’ll do that.” A low, feminine voice said from behind the hangings. “Two males, is it?”
“Yes, just two.” Gemma said in confirmation. “They’ve already been searched.”
“That’s good. You may leave us now.” The voice commanded, and the two veiled Yoshies left the room, closing the doors with an ominous, echoing slam.
After a moment of complete silence, the voice addressed them, “Greetings. I am Yasei-Yeiko Maverra, the proprietor of Club Veils. If you would be so kind, please remove your saddles and saddlebags before you come forward…”
After a hesitant pause, Manny slipped off his saddlebags and undid the buckles on his saddle, making his way forwards as a slightly impaired Visali attempted to do the same, lagging behind as his shaking hands fumbled with the silver buckle.
Ahead of him, parting the yellow silk, Manny’s eyes widened and he let out a gasp as his gaze fell upon the source of the voice, and his mind frantically worked for a moment to accept what it was seeing sitting on the edge of an enormous cushion much like the ones in the feral village. ‘Yasei-Yeiko’ looked like a regular purple Yoshi for the most part… except that the curve of her back was different, as though she could stand vertically, her tail was thinner, her arms and legs longer, her hands four-fingered instead of three-fingered…
“Never seen an Anthro Yoshi before?” Yasei-Yeiko asked, cocking her head a little and making her shoulder-length brown hair shift to one side. “I’m not surprised, really… considering how many of us got killed off by the humans. It’s amazing that there’s any left.”
Manny remained silent, still staring, feeling rather uncomfortable in the small space, accompanied not only by the strange Yoshi, but by far more candles than he liked. The silk trapped the heat inside the alcove, and he could feel that he was starting to sweat, but it didn’t matter to him; he was transfixed on her body, completely covered by veils except for her head and arms, but in particular, the top of her chest…
“Stop staring at them, would you?” She snapped, after he didn’t move for a few moments. “Just tell me why you’re here and what you want to know… normally, it costs a lot of money just to get into this chamber, but Gemma said you needed to ask me something, and I trust her. I hope that trust wasn’t misplaced.”
“Uhh… yeah…” Manny began, forcing his attention span back to the present. “She told me that you could tell me something about a wizard called Foryo.”
She looked at him questioningly for a moment, before nodding and leaning back a little. “Yes, I know him. He’s in Sansata. What do you want with him?”
“Me and my friend… not Visali, wherever he is, but Marcus… we’re looking for Foryo to hunt him down and kill him in retribution for the destruction of our hometown, and the deaths of everyone we ever knew.”
Yasei-Yeiko’s eyes went wide suddenly, almost as if she recognised something, before she put on a sly smile and looked him in the eyes, putting on a heavily seductive tone. “I see… perhaps this has been the time I’ve been waiting for…”
“Pardon?” Manny asked, stepping forwards.
“Foryo, my master, is the only reason I’m still alive, but he has treated me so badly that I would like to pay him back… perhaps you could help me do that. You say your friend is called Marcus?”
“My master wants him dead… he told me that he had several visions, slightly blurry, but they all contained a voice giving him vague, unclear instructions… and he identified the voice as that of his master, the God of Death and Destruction.”
Manny stared in wide-eyed shock as she continued. “He told me that the Lord of Darkness instructed him, without giving reason, to hunt down and destroy a brown Yoshi by the name of Marcus, supposedly the sixth saviour. Foryo’s an accomplished oracle, you know, and he found Marcus very quickly… before taking a squad of mercenaries and levelling Marcus’s entire village to make sure he was dead.”
“By the gods…” Manny murmured to himself, remembering the destruction of his home.
“Apparently, though, it seems that he didn’t kill Marcus… and now he’s ordered me to kill him, but if he really is the next saviour, he should be able to banish Foryo back to the pit from whence he came… the underworld.”
She let her words hang in the air for a moment, before raising her hand and beckoning for Manny to come closer. “Come here… let me see how strong you are, whether or not you stand a chance against my master…”
Stepping forwards, Manny took a seat beside her on the cushion as she indicated, watching her lie on her front, and hold her arm in a position to prepare for an arm wrestle, an offer that Manny took up immediately. He could see muscles on her sleek arms, uncovered by veils, and clasped hands with her before pushing as hard as he could in an attempt to bring her arm down. Surprisingly, she pushed back harder, and veins stood out on Manny’s arms as he struggled against her, but as soon as he thought he had lost, her strength faltered and Manny managed to slowly push her arm all the way around, forcing the back of her hand down onto the bed covers.
“Not bad…” she said, rubbing her arm gently with her other hand. “You are fairly strong… but you’ll need strength of mind to overcome your adversary, not just muscle.”
Manny was about to reply after thinking for a few moments, but she advanced on him and grabbed hold of his arms, pulling him over to her and locking him into a deep, forceful kiss, and Manny started to kiss back once he got over the surprise…
Visali, meanwhile, had managed to jam the strap and buckle together, only making it worse the more he tried to undo the damage. Frantically working at it as he heard Manny and whoever it was kissing, he knocked his saddlebags off and they dropped to the floor, and the flap opened on one of them, spilling the contents onto the floor.
“Great, just great.” He muttered, attempting to gather the coins, keys, personal pictures, and his other belongings that had been strewn about. Finally retrieving his things and getting his saddle off his back, he walked forward just as he heard a low groan from Manny, then total silence.
“Manny?” He asked, whipping back the silk curtains, and gasped.
Manny was lying facedown on the floor with a small needle embedded in the back of his neck, breathing softly as he lay there either asleep or unconscious. Some kind of half-human, half-Yoshi creature looked up at Visali, rising to its – probably hers, given the hair – feet, and gave him a hard stare.
“He’ll be very useful to my master…” she said in a cold voice. “He was a fool to believe that someone trusted with the kind of information I know would defect to the side of a weakling like him. You, however, I have no need of… and now that you know what has befallen your comrade, I’m afraid that you cannot leave here alive.”
In a single fluid movement, she cast off her veils, revealing her smooth, purple, mostly Yoshian body, covered only by a shiny black leather leotard cut to accommodate her longer and thinner than usual tail. She brought up her arms in a defensive stance, and Visali caught a glimpse of a tattoo on the back of her purple hand, a cross with four dots…
The mark of the assassin’s guild!
She tensed her legs, and then with a battle cry of “Kiyaaaaaaaah!” she leapt for him, planting a solid punch on his nose before he could react. Stumbling backwards, he was struck across the chest by a powerful chop and took a kick to his chest, cracking two ribs from the force of it. Visali lost his balance and fell onto the floor, allowing Yasei-Yeiko to plant a black-booted foot over his throat.
“You’re not up to much, are you?” She mused in a disappointed tone. “I was expecting a little more from someone who took out a seventh-level assassin… almost, anyway.”
“W…what…?” Visali gasped, struggling to breathe as she pressed down on his windpipe. “X…Xenly…?”
She gave an “Mm-hm…” noise, accompanied by a self-satisfied smirk. “She showed up at the guild here in Corvan and gave us her story. You gave her quite the fright there, but she’ll make a fine addition to our ranks… however, here is where your life ends, for you’re up against the best assassin in the whole city…”
Visali suddenly lashed out at the leg not over his throat and tripped her, gasping loudly for breath as he scrambled to his feet. Within moments she was upon him again, and thrust her elbow into his chest so hard she cracked his sternum and shot a spurt of blood out from his mouth, following up with a flat-footed kick that sent him flying backwards into the nearest wall. He slid down to his knees and fell to all fours, looking up just in time for her to kick him squarely in the jaw and send the back of his head smashing into the bricks behind him.
“Weakling.” She spat, grabbing his limp form by the back of the neck and hauling him up to her level. “Just like your friend there… so weak, so oblivious to what’s happening around you…”
She threw him to one side and he tripped over his feet, falling onto his back again and barely managing to roll out of the way of her hardened leather boot, getting to his feet despite the searing pains across his body and his blurring vision. Leaping into the air, she came down with both feet hard on his chest, forcing more blood up through his mouth and sending him backwards as she gracefully landed on her feet, ready for any counterattack. Flattened against a wall, Visali struggled to stay conscious, let alone remain upright, and she spun around to deliver the finishing kick, using such force that the point of her shoe was driven though his chest and into his right lung, puncturing it.
“Prepare to die, weakling.” She taunted, stepping back to deliver the fatal blow.
Visali was hunched over, with one hand over the gaping wound on his chest, barely managing to keep his head up to look at her. So this is how it ends… he thought.
Sklá shlo ka míyeva… ‘And thus, I die’.
Jumping high into the air, she came down on him and closed her legs around his waist, simultaneously wrapping her lips around his and forcing a kiss upon him as she tightened her hold with her legs, pushing on his shoulders with her hands. The opposing forces were too much, and with a sickening snap, Visali’s backbone broke into two, and his body sagged as Yasei-Yeiko separated from him and stood beside the corpse, with a cruel, twisted smile on her face.
“Another one falls the Kiss of Death… I’m sure my new student will find that amusing. For now, however,” she said to herself, turning around, “I have more important duties… such as the interrogation of Marcus’s friend, here.”
She knelt down by Manny’s sleeping form and ran a hand over his fins. “You are mine, now… you now belong to me, and soon enough, so will all your secrets…”
To be continued…