Chapter 49 = The last day
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.
As sunlight poured into the small cell, Shiala abruptly awoke to an intense abdominal pain, and gritted her teeth against it as it seared through her. Marcus was lying with one arm around her, having shifted in his sleep, and she quickly scrabbled out from under him. All night long, her dreams had been deep and peaceful, until they had suddenly been shattered by this agonising pain that was coursing through her lower regions…
Panting and sweating, she dropped onto her back on the floor and lay there until the pain temporarily abated. Looking down, she could see that her body was bloated and swollen between her chest and legs, and an experimental press on the bulge confirmed her worries about what was causing it: eggshell.
What was I thinking, bringing a child into the world that would only be killed?
She shook her head and lay back again as the piercing agony began to return. You couldn’t have predicted that, Shiala… okay, so you’re both young and therefore fertile, but you didn’t know for sure that-
The pain reached a crescendo and her thoughts were interrupted. She gave a little cry and clenched her fists, determined to be strong, but it was proving too much for the fifteen-year-old feral, and when the excruciating pain continued, she couldn’t take it any more and shrieked at the top of her voice…
When Manny heard the scream, he immediately jumped up off of the floor and ran over to the window, jumping up and grabbing hold of the bars in order to look out through it. He could only see a large courtyard, though it was more like a pen, without any grass and surrounded by huge walls to stop even flutter jumping Yoshies from getting over them. After the next yell, he identified the sound as coming from somewhere to his right, and bit his lip uneasily. That’s Shiala’s voice… what are they doing to her?
He spotted that the bars he was holding onto were fairly flimsy, rusty iron, and in desperation, he decided to try and see if he could take them out. He started to pull and yank at them, desperately trying to loosen them, working faster the more he heard Shiala yell in pain…
“Shiala! Are you okay?”
“Does it look like it?!?” Shiala shrieked back as the pain picked up again. Normally, she wouldn’t snap at Marcus, but it was all too much for her and she didn’t have the spare strength to hide her temper.
Marcus ignored the comment and got down beside her, taking one of her hands in his and putting the other around her shoulders comfortingly. “What’s wrong?”
“I… ahhh… it hurts… uhhh… I think… I’m… uhhn… laying an egg…”
He swallowed heavily and put a hand on her belly where the bulge was, feeling the eggshell beneath her skin once more. A son, according to Eirsir, but what could he do for it? It would surely die at the hands of the humans…
“Isn’t it meant to not be like this?” Marcus asked, trying to dredge up his limited knowledge on baby Yoshies.
“Only with… the older females…” She gasped in reply. “I’m not… mature yet… I’d have to be… eighteen… before I can… properly lay… baby eggs… and besides… the first one… always… aaaagh!”
Cut off by a wave of pain, she gripped Marcus’s hand tightly as the ordeal went on. It lasted for almost twenty minutes, and at several points she wanted to lie down and stop, but Marcus drove her on. The moment it was over, she flopped onto her back on the layer of straw and panted for breath, soaked in sweat, the hurt still residing in her lower muscles, her stomach rumbling in protest at a continuing lack of food.
“What colour is it?” She asked weakly, and Marcus replied, “Maroon.”
“An interesting colour… that’s supposed to be… good luck.”
“What is? Maroon?”
“No, no… a baby that matches… the colour of its parents. Like, if… you had a black Yoshi… and a white… Yoshi, and their kid… was grey, it’d… be good luck.”
Marcus frowned in thought. “I dunno… I never played with paint much. I’ll take your word on that…”
Manny resigned himself to imprisonment and collapsed onto the floor, gasping for breath, his hands rubbed raw and his body weak from hunger. Shiala’s screams had stopped, but Manny wasn’t sure whether this meant they had stopped hurting her or they had killed her, and suspected the latter with a weight on his conscience. He’d let her come along, after all, and though it would have made Marcus sad to leave her behind, he could’ve always gone back to her…
The latch on the door was opened, and the blue Yoshi saw two humans enter, both clad in only light armour and carrying nothing but small swords, but much to Manny’s shock, they were flanking a fully veiled and respectable-looking Yasei-Yeiko bearing a set of shackles in her hands.
“You!” Manny sputtered, piecing it together as he leapt to his feet. “You’re a fake! You used me!”
“I know, how does it feel?” she taunted, shaking her hair. “Your information led me right to Marcus, and his little friend Shiala. We’re going to take you, now, to watch them get executed, so you can know exactly what you caused…”
“You’re a disgrace to the Yoshies!” Manny shouted. “You’re bringing shame to our race by working with the humans! You disgust me, Kísya!”
The last word in Yoshian was an expletive that Manny thought fitting to both her appearance and behaviour, and he could see that it angered her, feeling some small comfort from striking a nerve.
“That’s rich, Kayatin.” She swore back, spitting out the word in distaste. “Just for that, you can die along with them. You two, grab him so I can put the shackles on his arms.”
The two guards stepped forwards, but Manny was infuriated by her treachery and was determined not to go down without a fight. He cast his mind back to days gone by in the Shoreside Village, where he and Marcus had friendly sparring matches with their weapons, or occasionally just their fists. It was just for fun back then, when neither intended to truly hurt the other, but what Manny had learned fighting his friend came flooding back to his current situation, on which more lives than his hung in the balance…
As soon as they were close enough, he kicked out with one shoe and then the other, landing both hits on the stomach of one guard, putting large force through his leather armour. As the other one brought up his sword, Manny swung around with his foot and planted the shoe sole-first into his chest, then swung around and swept his legs out from beneath him with his tail.
“Get back!” Yasei-Yeiko commanded as they scrambled to their feet. They stepped back and out the door, almost immediately replaced by another assassin with silver skin and several scars.
Tsi-Lau recognised Manny, but managed to hide the telltale flicker of recognition in her eyes as she folded her arms and waited for orders. “Tsi-Lau,” her sensei barked, “He’s proving difficult, as predicted. Take him down for me and prove your skills.”
“Yes, sensei.” Tsi-Lau answered in a monotone voice, leaving her swords on her back. She tensed her legs and was poised, ready to strike, narrowing her eyes at Manny for a moment before she leapt forward and dealt him a chop to his chest. He recovered from it and sidestepped another, and then they both kicked out at the same time and knocked the points of their boots into the other’s. Going on the offensive, Manny punched twice but was skilfully dodged, and brought up his leg in a kick that she caught on her knee, following up by grabbing his ankle with her hands. Twisting to the side, she flipped him over onto his front in midair, then brought one leg up and held it there for the smallest of moments before swinging downwards and driving the heel into the back of his head. He lapsed into unconsciousness with a gasp of pain, and slumped forwards as a stream of blood slowly trickled from between two of his fins.
Yasei-Yeiko bent down and took his pulse, before nodding in approval. “Very well done; your training has paid off. Hard enough to knock him out, but not hard enough to crack his skull… force control is one of the most difficult things to master.”
“Thank you, sensei.” Tsi-Lau muttered, dipping her head in thanks, then hefting Manny’s body up onto her shoulders.
“Take him to the execution pen and shackle him to the wall.” The anthro instructed. “See if you can rouse him before I arrive, though. I’m off to get the other prisoners…”
Cuffing the human guards around the heads as she left, she barked, “And don’t you two ever enter my sight again!”
Shiala was cradling the egg gently in her arms, standing up with willpower alone, singing softly in Yoshian to the egg and its contents. It was about half the size of its mother, and was very smooth and shiny, particularly on the maroon spots it bore across its surface, and it felt warm to the touch. Marcus was watching her, regretting deeply that he would never see the baby hatch, nor would he get to raise it with the feral he loved so much…
She stopped singing suddenly and looked up to him with large, endearing, yet somewhat saddened eyes. “I’m sorry.” She said, sniffling. “I didn’t mean to make this happen… I just wanted to give myself to you before I died, before I was lost forever… I just wanted to be truly happy with you for our final night together…”
“It’s not your fault.” Marcus said, shaking his head. “I should’ve known it would happen… we’re both young, and fertile, and it would almost definitely have been a successful mating at any time. But it doesn’t matter anyway, does it?”
“No, probably not.” She replied mournfully. “What do you think it is? A male or a female?”
“A male.” Marcus said. “I have a hunch…”
She smiled and gently laid the egg down on the straw. “What’ll we call him, then?” Marcus asked her, walking up and taking her in his arms.
“Andreas or Leon, you choose.”
Marcus gave her a smile and softly replied, “Andreas, to commemorate his feral heritage. Our second child can be Leon.” Softly, he rubbed the side of his head against hers in a show of affection, closing his eyes as he did so.
She returned his gesture of love and smiled brightly. “I wonder what he’d have grown up to be?”
“Someone famous, I’m sure. He’ll make us proud parents…”
“Or he would, if we weren’t going to be killed.”
“Hush.” Marcus hissed. “Don’t interrupt my daydream.”
She giggled a little and hugged him tighter, saying, “I don’t care if he’s rich, or famous, so long as he has a pure heart and cares for the people he knows…”
“Heh, that’s our differences clashing there. Feral interests and my interests, but we can work something out, right?”
“I’ll take him back to the feral village some time… you and I, we’ll take him there, and show my friends how well we’ve done…”
She trailed off, and Marcus took this as a cue to speak again. “And we’ll have lots of stories to tell him, of what mommy and daddy did before he was born, and their friends…”
Looking back over to the egg, she rubbed his back gently and murmured, “It’s a strange thing, the future… it’s always changing, and you have to be ready for it. You can never live out your dreams the way you planned them, because you need to change those plans constantly…”
Turning back, she gazed deeply into his eyes one final time. “Thank you, Marcus… I… always wanted to be a mother, if only for a few minutes… thank you so much. I love you.”
He nodded, sniffling a little. “I love you too, Shiala… it makes me happy to see you happy…”
The two of them heard someone putting the key into the lock on the door, but they remained firmly in each other’s grips, dreading what they knew was coming, not wanting to leave each other yet. They remained there for as many moments as they could, before they heard Yasei-Yeiko’s voice from behind them. “It’s time. Get your stuff together.”
“One final time.” Marcus muttered to Shiala, before breaking away just enough to kiss her, failing to fight back his tears, feeling them running down his cheeks. He couldn’t bring himself to enjoy the final kiss, however, and broke away after a few moments, walking out of the open cell door and being lead at spear point down the corridors, unable to stem the flow of saltwater from his eyes.
Mother… Father… Alziana… I’ll see you soon… and I’ll show you how well I did before my death…
To be continued…