Chapter 5 = A Dying Race
Disclaimer: Although all characters here are of my own invention, the original Yoshi is copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
As they got closer to the voices, which grew continuously louder, Marcus felt slightly uneasy. The voices didn’t sound too much like Laen’s, but then again he’d never heard a male elf speak.
Suddenly they were both pulled into a group of bushes; Laen had grabbed their saddles and she released Marcus’s to put a finger to her lips. Both Yoshies bent their legs and Marcus parted the bushes to look into the clearing up ahead.
Several armoured human soldiers were standing behind someone of rank and distinction, who was talking to an elf with a headband with a few feathers in it, presumably an elvish display of position. Neither Marcus nor Manny could hear what was being said, but Laen’s facial expressions changed every now and again; she could apparently hear the conversation quite clearly.
Without warning, the ranked soldier drew his sword and pointed it straight towards the elf. The elvish soldiers behind him moved forward, but the lead elf waved them back, and Laen muttered an elvish curse and notched an arrow, before aiming the bow straight for the foremost soldier.
“What’s going on?” Marcus whispered.
Laen remained silent as she held her bow steady. Marcus looked over at Manny, who shrugged back before looking back at the crowd.
After another few moments’ heated debate, the lead elf threw his arms up in exasperation and impatiently waved the lead soldier away. The soldier drew back a little, before running his blade through the elf.
The elves behind him jumped forward and began to fight. Laen loosed her arrow and it pierced the air with a whistle, finding its mark in the lead soldier’s neck. The sounds of steel against steel began to fill the air, and Marcus looked over at Manny again, unsure of what to do.
Manny, seeing that the soldiers had the upper hand against the unarmoured elves, drew his sword from the sheath on his saddle and jumped to his feet. Laen hissed, “Stay back!” to him, but he was already sprinting across the open ground to the back of the group of human soldiers. Marcus, after a moment’s deliberation, removed his flail from the leather rings on his saddlebags that held it in place, and ran over to help his friend.
Manny had started to fight one of the soldiers, who had broken away from the back of the group unnoticed and was engaged in one-on-one combat with the blue Yoshi. Manny parried the soldier’s strike and flung the blade away, and the soldier aimed a kick at him. Manny brought his left arm up to block it and made a return slash with his sword, but It bounced off the soldier’s armour, and he laughed as he tried to stab Manny, who deftly dodged the attack. Manny brought his sword up to deflect another strike, and while the soldier was unbalanced he made a stab of his own, and the sword found a gap in the armour of the soldier, between his coat of chainmail and his chain-link pants. He doubled over as Manny withdrew his sword, and Manny lost no time in lunging for another soldier.
Marcus had begun to fight a soldier who wasn’t wearing a helmet, and was trying to hit him on the head, but the soldier kept blocking him and Marcus had to look out for the sharp sword being thrust at him. Marcus ducked another slash and caught a sword swipe on the tip of his flail. Then, he heard a swishing sound, and suddenly an arrow struck the soldier’s neck, and he fell to the ground.
The remaining soldiers, suddenly conscious of the fact that they were now losing, began to try and run, but the elves blocked their retreat and they became bogged down in fighting. Marcus spotted Manny using his sword to deflect a rapid series of sword attacks being dealt to him by a lightly armoured soldier. Manny finally managed to get a swipe of his own in, but his upward slash merely knocked the soldier’s visor up. Manny was forced to go on the defensive again, but was taken by surprise as the soldier faked a slash before slicing open a gash across Manny’s chest, just below the partially healed one dealt to him by the bandit not too long ago. But Marcus, seeing an opportunity, ran over and leapt into the air, making a sideways swipe as he did so. The spiked balls on his flail found the gap in the soldier’s helmet and smashed into his face. The soldier was then hit by Marcus’s feet and he fell over, and did not stir from where he lay.
Two surviving soldiers managed to break off and began to run, but one of them fell to one of Laen’s arrows. Manny, bleeding yet determined, reached into his saddlebags and whipped out a throwing knife from the box they were in. Taking only a moment to aim it, he threw it with incredible force and accuracy at the soldier’s retreating form. It sailed through the air, spinning end over end, and hit the back of the soldier’s unprotected neck. The soldier froze in mid-run and keeled over onto the ground.
“Whoa.” Marcus said, “Good aim.”
“That was left handed!” Manny joked, holding a hand over his wound. He then took it away and found it covered in blood. “He got me!” he cried, and Marcus chuckled as he led his friend over to the cheering elves.
“You fools!” Laen cried as they approached, “You could have been killed!”
“Yeah… but we weren’t.” Marcus said. “And I guess that’s what matters.”
Manny nudged Marcus. “Who’s the murderer now, eh?” he said, indicating one of the fallen soldiers with a wave of his sword. Marcus realised what he had done, and felt a slight chill as he realised that he, too, was now a killer…
An elf with an eagle feather in his headband was squatting next to the fallen elf leader. He appeared to be still breathing, and the elf with the feather reached into his cloak and withdrew a long, thin magic wand. It was little more than twelve inches of wood, but he muttered something inaudible to the Yoshies and pointed the wand at the fallen elf.
There was a small flash at the tip of the wand, and before the eyes of the two astounded Yoshies the wound the elf had suffered closed up, the blood disappeared, and the healer elf pulled the elf leader’s cloak back down over his chest.
Laen called out, “Hey, I need you over here as well!” to the healer, who nodded and ran over to where the two Yoshies stood. Manny took his hand away again to reveal the deep, bleeding cut on his chest, and Marcus held Manny up as the healer had a quick look at the wound.
He pointed the wand at the injury, and in a clear voice said, “Oralia Totalia!”. There was another flash, and Manny opened his eyes in surprise as the pain receded and his many wounds healed, leaving only very faint scars where they had been.
“Wow!” Manny exclaimed as he let go of Marcus and stood unsupported. He felt perfectly healthy again, and thanked the elf profusely. He smiled in return and gave a nod, and left to attend to the elvish wounded.
Laen looked down at Manny. “That was a pretty good throw you made.” She said, referring to the thrown knife.
“Yeah, well…” Manny said, going slightly pink. “Practice, and all that…”
Marcus rolled his eyes and said, “Shouldn’t you go get that knife? You don’t want to be left with an incomplete set…”
As Manny walked off to fetch his knife, Marcus started talking to Laen. “Thanks for the help back there.” He said. “Do you know magic too?”
Laen shook her head. “No, not everyone here does. It’s simple enough to learn but we feel that healing magic is all we need. Anyway, you were pretty brave running into the battle like that.”
“I wanted to help Manny.” Marcus said, “I figured it was the right thing to do…”
“Well, you certainly helped us, and we would be honoured if you stayed here for the rest of the day. We’ve got beds, and plenty of food…”
Marcus’s eyes lit up, and he licked his lips. “No Yoshi ever turns down an offer of food,” he said, “But I’m absolutely exhausted, and Manny probably is as well. So, could you show us to your guest rooms once Manny gets back?”
“You said something about me?” Manny said from behind him as he reached them. “I heard the words ‘Beds’ and ‘Food’, and I hope we can have some, preferably in that order…”
Laen chuckled. “Of course, of course. Just follow me.”
They followed the elf through the trees and into a wide-open clearing. The Yoshies gasped as they saw the elven settlement. It wasn’t very large on the ground, but winding around three or four trees were wooden steps driven into the bark of the trees, leading up to the branches, which supported light wooden structures.
“We once lived in the Crelata Forests, on the western side of Chyrus,” Laen said as they walked, “but they were swamped with evil and we came here. There were redwoods back there, and this form of elven construction isn’t very well suited to oak trees. But we manage, just…”
She led them towards one of the trees and up the steps around them. They were surprisingly sturdy and gave a very faint creak with every step the Yoshies took, but Laen’s footsteps were practically silent.
Laen parted the curtain that covered the entrance to one of the houses as the Yoshies caught up. “We’ve got another visitor, I hope you don’t mind. But she’s a Yoshi too, so you ought to get along…”
Manny, who was in front, ran the last bit of the way up the steps and peered in through the doorway. He gasped, and looked back at Marcus, who had nearly reached the top. “You are NOT going to believe who it is.” He said, before running into the room.
Marcus cocked his head, but shrugged to himself as he climbed the last few steps and entered the elven house…
To be continued…