Chapter 46 = Separated from freedom
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.
Three loud knocks sounded on the door, waking up a sleeping Sira, who had been lying on the sofa with Tamaroro cradled in her arms, having rocked him to sleep the previous night. “Visali?” she called out, but instead of his voice coming up with excuses for his extreme lateness, she heard Shiala’s voice say, “Is he not here? We were hoping he’d come back with Manny…”
Sira moved the slowly rousing Tamaroro to her saddle, and made her way to the door, unlocking and unchaining it to let her visitors in. Marcus and Shiala were standing outside, with the former carrying a large brown shield, and the latter holding something in her hand that the pink Yoshi did not immediately recognise…
“I just found this embedded in your door.” She said, handing it over. Sira took it, and felt a chill as she discovered it was a scrap of vaell with a ninja star stuck in it, which had no doubt been holding it in the door.
With shaking hands as the other two Yoshies passed her by and took Tamaroro from her back, she unfolded the parchment and read the message, carved in the clear letters of Yoshian:
Sin ki té quason bey Visali, quas wa vha ghasí tlasa mó xavey…
The translation hit home hard. If you’re looking for Visali, look in the alley opposite to this building…
After the message there was no name, but instead, a symbol of some kind that she hadn’t seen; a cross with four dots…
“I’m, uh, going out for a moment…” Sira declared, crumpling up the parchment. “Go wake up Dave, would you? Be back in a moment… keep Tammy entertained for me.”
“Where are you going?” Marcus asked, but Sira was already out the door.
There she goes. The darkened figure thought to itself as it watched from the shadows. Just like I thought she would… now I must act quickly, as I’m not sure how long she’ll stay out of the way…
“Stay close, Tsi-Lau.” Yasei-Yeiko muttered as she emerged from her hiding place, and ran silently over to the doorway she had been watching.
A light rainfall was just beginning as Sira stepped out of the building and ran straight for the alleyway, hoping it was just a prank being played on her by her jocular boyfriend and his new buddy… an insensitive, cruel joke, but a joke nonetheless… nothing real…
There were only boxes and sacks of trash, but lying on the middle of the alley as opposed to up against the sides was a larger one tied shut at the top, and something about it told Sira it was the one she was looking for. Hoping against hope that she was wrong, that it had just been knocked over, she started to open it, untying the fastenings with her wet, cold, shaking fingers…
A minute later, she was too busy crying to spot a purple, humanlike Yoshi slip into the building behind her.
“I haven’t got a clue about them.” Dave murmured, stretching sleepily. “They left their stuff here, that’s all I know… he’s been out later, mind. Once, I saw him walk directly from Club Veils to the university. He only did it once, though… Sira made sure of that. Considering it’s the weekend, he should show up here, just much later than he ought to.”
“Still, Manny should have come back, shouldn’t he?” Marcus asked.
“Probably, but then again, after the amount of alcohol they might have consumed, should becomes probably won’t.”
Marcus sighed and leaned against the wall, watching Shiala playing with a giggling Tamaroro by tossing him up into the air a little and catching him again, giving bright, cheerful laughs as she did so that warmed Marcus’s heart.
A natural born mother if I ever saw one… Marcus mused silently. I feel bad about my hard-line stance on children… but then again, that was the old me… with Alziana… I’m older now, and maybe once we’re done adventuring and I take her back to the feral village…
A knock on the door interrupted Marcus’s thoughts, and he went to answer it, pulling the door open to meet somebody he sincerely hoped was Manny.
Instead, he found a strange-looking purple Yoshi standing in front of him, but before he could properly discern anything other than her vaguely human appearance, she coughed and asked, “Is there a Marcus here?”
“That’s me.” Marcus replied, letting her step past him.
Tammy suddenly grabbed hold of Shiala’s arms as she caught him again, and wrestled free from her grip, jumping out of her arms and into the far room in a motion surprisingly fast for the little baby. Somewhat puzzled, Shiala went after him and was closely followed by Dave as they shut the door to stop him getting back out again.
“Who are you?” Marcus inquired as they sat down on the vacant sofa. “No offence, but you look awful…”
“My name is Yasei-Yeiko Maverra.” She replied, smoothing out her hair as best she could. “If you really are Marcus, I have some terrible news for you…”
She reached into her pocket and softly fingered a concealed poison pin for a moment before thinking better of it, withdrawing instead the medal Manny had given to her, and passing it to Marcus. The brown Yoshi drew a sharp breath as he took it, and looked back up into her eyes. “Where is he? What’s happened?”
“He is imprisoned in the central city… I was there, too, and barely managed to escape with my life. Unless he, too, can escape from there, he will almost definitely be tortured and executed…”
“No, this can’t be!” Marcus said suddenly. “Why?”
“He brought his friend to my chamber at the nightclub Club Veils… and, believe it or not, he told me of a dark and terrible wizard who is a master to me… a master I want freedom from. While we were talking of my defection, another operative, one of my own personal attendants, overheard us and went to fetch the city guard, who stormed the nightclub, captured Manny and me, and killed his friend…”
“Visali? Visali… is dead?” Asked a disbelieving Marcus.
“Yes… they killed him and forced me to watch…”
“Tammy, where are you?” Shiala called, lifting up the bedclothes on one of the beds. Dave was also looking diligently, but only called out the once and, in his attempt to mimic what Shiala said, made a mispronunciation that prompted a chuckle from Shiala and discouraged him from saying anything else.
Tíka háy kso? She wondered. Where is he?
She could hear him sure enough… a little whimper every so often, but not loud enough for her to pin down its origin, nor the vague direction it came from, making her frustrated as she searched. “Tammy, we’re not going to hurt you… just come out, okay?”
Pulling back a box of quadra spear parts, she found the little baby hidden behind them and grabbed him before he could escape again, gently but firmly cradling him in her arms. “Why did you run off like that, Tammy?” she asked, trying to sound as caring as possible. “Don’t you like it when I play with you?”
“No, no, it wasn’t that…” Tamaroro replied meekly. “That person… that purple Yoshi… she killed my parents!”
Shiala’s eyes widened for a moment before she put Tamaroro down on the closest bed. “If that’s so, then Marcus is probably in grave danger!”
Turning around quickly and going through the door, she strolled confidently up to the purple anthro, still talking to Marcus, who spotted her approaching. Switching to Yoshian, he said, “Ah, Shiala, this… what was it… Yasei-Yeiko… uh, Yasei-Yeiko, this is Shiala… she’s my… er… girlfriend.”
She nodded and turned around, looking the red feral up and down for a moment before suddenly springing into action. In a single fluid movement she spun around behind Shiala, locked one arm around her neck and drew a short knife from beneath her veils with the other, holding it against Shiala’s throat before she even had time to blink.
“Hold it!” She commanded as Marcus reached for his flail. “One false move and she’s dead!”
“Who are you, really?” Marcus queried, his hand resting on the handle of his flail, his voice only revealing a slight tone of fear.
“I’m the top assassin for this entire city… and I’m loyal to Foryo, my lord and master! It was me who killed Visali, and imprisoned your friend. Just come along quietly and I won’t have to kill him, too, or this little girl here.”
“How did you find us?” I’ve got to stall… maybe she’ll let her guard down…
“Your friend was easy.” Yasei-Yeiko replied with a smirk. Swishing her hips a little, she continued, “I have my assets and I know how to use them… a little favour from me, and your friend spilled everything. Men are so easily manipulated by the female body…”
“You’re lying!” Marcus shouted. “Manny would never betray me!”
“Oh, believe it.” She taunted, playing with his mind. “He told me himself, he knew you were his friend, but some things just can’t go unsatisfied…”
Marcus’s hand clenched around the handle of his flail, but before he could draw it out and make an attack, the door to the far bedroom was flung open, and Dave emerged. “What’s all the shouting…?”
Spotting Shiala being held hostage, he grabbed his quadra spear from where it was propped against a bookcase, and hoisted it up onto his shoulder, his free hand on the catch at the side. Yasei-Yeiko spun around, taking Shiala with her, and threatened, “Take another step closer and I kill her!”
“And if you attempt to rescue her anyway…” another voice said from behind Marcus, “You will die, too.”
Looking over his shoulder, Marcus set eyes on another assassin, with two long, curved swords drawn that had bright red handles and yellow tassels hanging from them. The Yoshi holding them had a bright, silvery skin tone, several dark scars across her body, and shoes with spikes on the soles instead of any kind of tread.
She looked over to Yasei-Yeiko and tutted twice, before saying, “Sensei, didn’t you tell me hostage-taking is an ineffective technique? Let her go and allow her the honour of dying in battle.”
“You command me?” the anthro replied. “I suppose I shall so as to be a good example, but do not let it go to your head…”
She released Shiala and pushed her away, watching in amusement as Marcus moved in front of her to protect her, his narrowed gaze firm upon the purple assassin. However, before he could plan anything out, she suddenly became a blur of movement; stripping off her veils and throwing them aside, Yasei-Yeiko dove into one of the many pockets on her tailored leather leotard and withdrew three throwing stars, throwing them in the same single movement at the easiest target; Dave, with his arms up and his body exposed. Unable to react in time, two of the stars embedded in his chest and the third struck his forehead, taking his life before he even truly saw her throw them.
Shiala gave an angry feral war cry, drawing her own dagger from her saddlebags and racing towards Yasei-Yeiko as Marcus lunged for the silvery Yoshi. Shiala’s dagger struck that of her opponent, and the nimble feral ducked away from a counterattack before catching a follow-up strike on the blade hilt.
“My, you’re good.” Yasei-Yeiko taunted, holding her knife steady.
“You’d be surprised at the skill of a feral.” Shiala replied, also keeping her own weapon in place. “Knives, bows, swords, you name it, we’ve been trained from an early age to use it.”
“True, but an early age is no match for a lifetime.” Were the words that preceded a sudden slash that only grazed Shiala’s arm. Striking back, Shiala managed a solid hit against the leather leotard but found that her attack didn’t make it through the material.
“It’s armoured.” Yasei-Yeiko nonchalantly replied as she kicked out with her right foot and sent Shiala back several steps.
Marcus, however, had been holding off Tsi-Lau’s multiple strikes until she saw his beloved fall to the ground. Though she got back up immediately, his attention was drawn away just long enough for the silvery assassin to land a kick of her own and knock him into the wall, stunning him momentarily. She whipped a pin out of her saddlebags and pricked his nose with it, putting a powerful sleeping toxin into his bloodstream that knocked him out just as he attempted to get back up. Unnoticed by the other sparring pair, she grabbed Marcus around the neck and pulled him out of the open door, regretting the fact that she couldn’t watch her superior fight.
It wouldn’t have done her any good, however, as the purple anthro was merely toying with her prey in the way that a cat does before it kills it. With elegant but swift movements of her body and appendages, she seemed to have an incredible knack for staying out of the path of Shiala’s attacks. Deciding she had had enough fun, she kicked upwards and connected her boot against the handle of Shiala’s knife, knocking it into the air and allowing her to catch it.
Surprisingly, rather than surrender, Shiala merely stayed put and glowered at the assassin, who began to juggle the two knives. “You’re very good, I’ll give you that. You have some potential, Shiala… I’ll make you an offer once and only once. Join the guild, and I’ll make sure you get full training… just forget that Marcus ever existed, and you’ll live better than any feral ever has or ever will.”
“You are applying your own ideologies to a foreign mind. My idea of a fulfilled life is that of any feral’s; to be surrounded by family and friends in a self-sufficient community, answering to nobody, free to do whatever we please, bearing the children of the strongest members of the opposite gender. I will never abandon Marcus, and I will never give in to an abomination like you! You are a Yoshi with a human’s mentality, and you deserve to die!”
Yasei-Yeiko immediately ceased to juggle the knives and gave a snort. “Very well. You will die regretting those words. Vhóla Kivaya!”
From the points of the two daggers, a cloud of misty spray shot forth and surrounded Shiala’s head, saturating her senses from her panicked breath of surprise, drowning her consciousness out in a matter of moments. She fell backwards to the floor, only catching the sight of Tamaroro watching in horror through the barely open door, wishing to herself with her last thought that he hadn’t had to see her lose…
To be continued…