Chapter 45 = So much different, so much the same
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.
“Arms back!” the silver Yoshi shouted, watching her students attempt one of the most basic parts of being an assassin; practising throwing objects to the point where your aim was nothing short of perfection. She had them using throwing stars against a large target on the other side of the room, with concentric circles painted on it, and these particular throwing stars were colour-coded to be matched to the student.
“Throw!” she shouted, watching them bring their arms forward and release the stars with a little flick of their wrists. Ten differently coloured stars flew across the room and embedded themselves in the target in different places, though after practising for many hours into the night their aim had improved considerably. The silver Yoshi acting as a sensei was pleased with this, but knew from her own lengthy training that many more onerous hours would be spent like this until they were able to land successive throws in exactly the same spot.
As she was about to go and collect the stars, the door behind her opened and two Birdos walked in, carrying a large, tied sack, and dropped it at her feet. “To Tsi-Lau, from Yasei-Yeiko.” One of them said, before leaving immediately.
The silver Yoshi nodded to herself in contemplation. After arriving at the guild and displaying her aptitude, she had been welcomed with open arms and was working towards getting the next rank where she could hone some of her deadlier techniques even more, like the use of Chi. Nobody who had ever known her would recognise her now; aside from her drastic skin colour change, she had switched her white boots for spike-soled ones, and had stamped both them and her saddle with the guild’s emblem. She had also switched her sword scabbards for black leather ones, tied a special ribbon around the sword handles for grip, and fixed yellow tassels onto the end, making them look different enough to not be easily recognised. As a final touch, she had tattooed the backs of her hands with the guild’s emblem, and cut herself in many places with a special needle tipped with a chemical that caused the wounds to heal in such a way that a black scar would forever remain there.
I am Xenly no longer… that call sign will soon be someone else’s, I imagine. Now I am Tsi-Lau, ‘The Fatal Blades’, named after my fighting style using two swords. I am returning to the only way of life I know, the way of the assassin.
“Carry on.” She ordered her students, as she bent down and untied the top of the bag, taking a look inside and staring at its contents.
Inside was the body of a Yoshi, his skin fading from red to orange towards his tail, with blood encrusted around his mouth, dark bruises on his chest, and a large, gaping hole in his lung. He looked to be in a very odd position, which Tsi-Lau soon discovered was due to a broken back, cleanly sheared, accompanied by heel marks of a shoe just below the break.
The work of the Kiss of Death; I cannot mistake it, though I have only seen it once… the silver Yoshi thought. So, Visali is dead, not by my hand, but the hand of my sensei… no matter. I would have killed him anyway.
Tsi-Lau reached into her saddlebags and withdrew a scrap of vaell and a writing knife. Cutting in clear letters of the Yoshian alphabet, she wrote out a message, put away the knife, tied the sack closed again, and made to leave the room.
“Your lessons are over.” She told the class. “Remember to practice often, for a true aim can make the difference between success and failure, life or death. Vha khoda ví tsiya.” The skilled shall prevail.
She left abruptly, walking as quickly as she could with Visali’s body weighing her down, dragging it back over to the two Birdos who did most of the paperwork, aged assassins retired from their trade.
“I need this dumped somewhere.” She said, indicating the sack.
“Anywhere in particular?” The nearest one asked, and Tsi-Lau nodded in response.
“I have a location in mind…” she said quietly, handing him a gold coin. “Do it right away, while I go make a delivery. Get it delivered before the sun rises if you possibly can…”
Marcus was sleeping peacefully as the morning became early afternoon, lying on his side with his arms around Shiala as they both lay under the covers together, though she was half-awake, wanting to leave Marcus to his dreams as his touch brought her a comforting warmth.
I wonder if my father would have been pleased with me for pairing with Marcus… she thought to herself. Someone who can use Psionics… he’s not as muscular as most ferals, but he has a gentle personality and his love for me appears to run deep, despite the feelings he retains for Alziana…
The sleeping Marcus shifted a little, bringing his arms further up her body, and she wriggled a little, smiling, enjoying the soft touch of her skin against his hands, as well as her back against his front. Whatever happens to us… whether one or both of us dies on this journey, or whether we survive… I will be happy knowing that I have felt love in my life, having experienced the feelings that swarm over my senses so often these days…
She sighed to herself quietly and dipped her head. But if I were to die now, he wouldn’t accompany me in the afterlife… Octotheist lore says that a loving couple has to mate for that to happen… and he doesn’t show any desire to do that. I’m glad that he isn’t attempting to force himself upon me, but if I were to die…
Shiala shook her head. No, I won’t die. I’ll make sure of that. Nobody will separate us if I have any say in the matter…
Suddenly, she became aware of something, and pushed herself upwards so that her torso was at an angle to the bed as she looked at the curtains around her. Shouldn’t Manny have come to annoy us by now?
Gently, she shifted onto her back and tenderly pried Marcus’s hands off of her body, resting them on the blankets before she parted the bed curtains and looked about. There was no sign of Manny; everything looked exactly the way it had done before she and Marcus had pulled the curtains shut the previous night, his unused shield resting against his single bed.
Maybe he’s at Visali’s… she thought, turning back to rouse Marcus.
“I can’t believe he’s still sleeping.” One of the two human guards that flanked Yasei-Yeiko murmured.
“I have some pretty potent sleeping toxins… he should be waking up any time soon, though.” The purple Anthro replied. “Give me a few minutes to start with before you come and get me… and remember, make it look realistic.”
They nodded in confirmation, and she pushed open the door to the prison cell where Manny was still asleep, lying on a bed of straw, snoring away contentedly with a smile on his face as sunlight shone in through a single, small, barred window. The two guards locked the door behind her and left, leaving her to rough up her clothes, even tearing her veils in a couple of places, before sitting down and patiently waiting for Manny to wake up.
After another five minutes, she heard him groan, and ruffled up her hair quickly as he tried to force himself away from the relative comforts of sleep. He sat up and looked around, somewhat puzzled, as Yasei-Yeiko made her way over to him.
“Are you all right?” she asked in a concerned tone. “You were thrown in here, and landed a little awkwardly…”
“I’m fine…” he groaned, “But where am I? And why are you here, too?”
“It seems that an operative of Foryo’s was eavesdropping on us… he called some reinforcements and they stormed the club. You fainted while I was kissing you…”
“Never happened before.” The blue Yoshi mumbled groggily. “Then what?”
“I was trying to wake you up, but they arrived… your friend tried to stop them, but…”
“But what?” Manny asked. “What happened to Visali?”
In an act that surprised even herself, Yasei-Yeiko let a single tear slide down the side of her face. “They killed him… it was terrible… they had me pinned and made me watch as they kept kicking him, until they drew their swords and killed him outright…”
Manny swallowed heavily. “And then…?”
“They took us here… it’s a prison in the middle of the city. The operative will get us charged with something major, and we’ll probably be executed… but they may torture us first for information.”
She noted that his breathing rate rapidly increased and the colour started to drain from his face a little. “Isn’t there anything we can do?”
“Maybe we can escape… if one of us gets out, we can warn someone… tell me, quick, where is Marcus hiding?”
“In a hotel on Cauta Street.” Manny answered immediately. “If not there, then he’ll be in the block of student flats down the road, where Visali lives… er… lived.”
“If I escape, I’ll find him and get him to help you…”
“No, it’s too dangerous.” Manny said sadly, before reaching into his saddlebags, which had been thrown onto the ground next to him, and pulling out the medal he had been given in Lince. “Give him this… he’ll know what’s happened. Don’t get him to come here, though… he’ll almost definitely be caught.”
She took the medal cautiously. “You seem to care for him…”
“He’s the only friend I have that I know really well… even though it may not always seem like it to him, I always consider him to be my friend… and I don’t want to put him in danger… or Shiala.”
“Who’s Shiala?” Yasei-Yeiko asked, sensing a new lead.
“His current girlfriend… a red feral Yoshi. If anything happened to her, he’d be heartbroken… again… and I don’t want that to happen to him.”
She made a mental note as she heard heavy footsteps approaching. “Here they come… I have a plan, but if it fails, they may well kill me for attempting to escape…”
Before Manny could reply, he heard a key turn in the lock of the door, and it was thrust open to reveal the two human guards.
“You’re first, Anthro.” One of them spat. “Our torturer just came up with a new routine… and he wants to see if he can beat his record of four continuous hours of pain.”
Yasei-Yeiko flattened against the nearest wall while he came for her, struggling in the grip of the guard as he grabbed her arms and marched her out of the cell, letting her scream and shout for a moment before putting a hand over her mouth. The second guard slammed the door and locked it once they were gone, filling the soundproofed cell with an eerie silence, following the now-free Anthro Yoshi as she strode casually down the corridor.
“Not bad, but you should always keep both hands on the prisoner’s arms. If this was real, I could have broken free and slaughtered you both.”
“We tend not to get many tenth-level assassins.” One of the guards remarked as Yasei-Yeiko straightened her torn veils and headed for the exit, repeating the two locations over and over in her head, along with the name ‘Shiala’…
To be continued…