Chapter 50 = Darkmark is born
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.
Marcus and Shiala were led into an outdoor, walled area, where several human soldiers were already waiting for them. They were separated from each other, taken a few feet apart so that shackles could be put around their wrists and ankles, and the Yoshies’ was equipment and tossed it to one side. The humans then attached chains to the shackles, and made them stand so that they were facing each other, whilst holding the chains to stop the two Yoshies from escaping. Much to Marcus’s dismay, he saw three more humans come out to the courtyard, one of them carrying the egg they had left behind in the cell. Off to his left, Marcus could see a downtrodden-looking Manny, secured by wrist shackles bolted to the wall, guarded by the silver assassin that had attacked him at Visali’s apartment. Marcus spitefully thought, serves him right for betraying us…
Marcus estimated that there were about eight humans in total, plus Yasei-Yeiko and the other assassin. One of the humans was sent off by the purple anthro Yoshi, and Marcus looked up to the sky in despair, praying silently for a miracle to happen and save him from his fate.
It was a clear day, and the sun beat down on him, reflecting off the sandy ground and making it seem even hotter than it was. He had been stripped to his skin and felt oddly cold despite the heat, trying not to give the head assassin the pleasure of seeing the fear in him. Shiala was opposite him, breathing heavily, looking at Marcus as if to say, does it have to end this way?
He blinked as the wind picked up and blew dust about, trying to concentrate on happier thoughts, ones that would become mere memories that he’d be forced to cherish in the afterlife with Shiala, Alziana, and his family. He wondered if his unhatched son would be there with him, perhaps as a baby Yoshi, allowing him to raise him with Shiala… he didn’t know much about the afterlife, but sadly resigned himself to the fact that he’d find out soon enough.
I’m no saviour. He thought dejectedly to himself.
The human came back with an armful of firewood, followed by another one carrying a large cauldron. Marcus wondered what they were up to, fearing that it was some form of torture they’d be inflicting on-
His eyes flicked over to the maroon-spotted egg, and a lump formed in his throat. Surely… surely even that cold anthro Yoshi isn’t heartless enough…
Finding it suddenly hard to breathe, he looked wildly around for some sign that it wasn’t going to happen, but no matter where he looked, he felt that the chances of that were diminishing; Shiala was chained up and watching with hatred, Manny was barely able to keep his head up to watch, the silver assassin was standing rock-still and observing with an air of disinterest, and Yasei-Yeiko had just picked up the egg… his egg… his son’s egg…
Placing it on the edge of the pot, she balanced it long enough for the silver assassin to come over and hold it in place while her superior took a sword from one of the other soldiers, drew back for a swing, and put all her might into the slash. The blade crushed into the side of the eggshell that it hit, and a thick, semi-translucent, yellowy fluid spilled out of the egg, then fell down into the cauldron beneath it. It was streaked with red; blood that must have come from a cut to the baby Yoshi inside the egg, and as she smashed into the shell again, making the hole larger, a solid yellow mass fell out of the hole and splashed into the cauldron of albumen. Within moments, the egg had been emptied and the shell was cast aside, and Yasei-Yeiko laughed maniacally as she dipped the sword into the pot and stirred it.
All at once, Marcus felt raw hatred well up inside of him, and swore viciously at her, but she just laughed a cold, bitter laugh that enraged Marcus further. Lighting a fire beneath the pot with her strange assassin’s chi, she took the sword out and smirked menacingly at Marcus as she watched him bare his teeth.
It was nothing compared to Shiala’s reaction, however. She shrieked and yelled, filling the air with Yoshian curses and swear words, invoking all of the gods to smite Yasei-Yeiko in retribution, thrashing about in her chains to such an extent that her muscles almost got her free. The anthro Yoshi strode over and slapped her across the face with the back of her hand, but Shiala only shouted louder and with more fury than before.
“Oh, shut up.” Yasei-Yeiko snapped, reaching beneath her veils into one of her many pockets. Pulling out a single, spiked glove, she pulled it over the fingers of her right hand and held it close to Shiala’s face in a threat, making the feral reluctantly hold her tongue.
Crossing back over to the cauldron, Yasei-Yeiko started to cut into the substance inside of it, hacking out chunks and throwing them to the humans. It brought Marcus a small comfort to see them only take one bite before starting to look a lot sicker, and the purple anthro took the final piece over to Shiala, who had started struggling again.
“This should shut you up.” She muttered menacingly before grabbing Shiala’s nose with her free hand and pushing the lump of egg into her mouth with the other. The female feral immediately tried to spit it out, but a sadistic Yasei-Yeiko pushed her hand up against Shiala’s mouth, keeping her hand over her nostrils. Marcus wondered for a moment if Shiala would rather suffocate than swallow, but a moment later she swallowed heavily and started to cry, subsiding into tears of distress.
This proved to be the final straw for Yasei-Yeiko, who brought the hand with the glove back behind her, allowing Marcus to see what she was going to do just before she did it. With a single swipe, the humanlike Yoshi ripped open Shiala’s chest, drove her hand into the cut before her scream had finished, and pulled out Shiala’s heart, dropping it to the ground before her. Blood splashed down Shiala’s front and onto the ground, and her body began to sag as her consciousness started to make the permanent slip into the oblivion that was death…
Marcus cried in agony, unable to remain silent any longer, with tears running down his face, feeling emotional pain that was far, far worse than that he had felt when Alziana had died, praying silently to be killed now, and not have to see her die… not to have to endure the pain he would feel from seeing that…
He caught her despairing, saddened, pleading gaze for just one moment as she twitched once, twice, thrice, and then went limp and lifeless, sagging to the ground as the humans let go of her chains.
Marcus’s heart ripped in half. He lost all emotional control, broke down into tears, wailed and sobbed in pain and sorrow, unable to cope with his new loss. They were laughing at him… laughing at the tears he shed for her… laughing at the feelings overwhelming him… feelings that were quickly changing from sadness to anger… grief turning into a desire to kill… to get revenge… to avenge another death… another life taken without reason… his emotional turmoil was becoming a burning, seething hatred…
It was then, at long last, that Marcus snapped.
Barely able to see clearly, he thrashed about in his restraining chains, consumed by fury, aflame with hate, his only intention to get free and kill the smirking assassin, standing there with Shiala’s blood dripping off her glove. Everything in his mind was pushed aside for the desire to kill, the longing to tear someone apart, to finally start paying back the world for what it had done to him… to kill… to destroy…
Just then, Marcus’s vision whited out, and he found himself again standing on a cold granite floor, and in front of him was a figure of pure evil incarnate. The Yoshi was a deep, dark red, almost like Shiala’s colour, but he also had sharp fangs, claws, and talons, and a menacing glare. He was surrounded by a black aura, and was holding a long staff, which itself had a deep red aura pulsating around it, and had extremely sharp, bloodstained razorblades embedded in the sides, save for a gap in the centre where he was holding it. He had blood splashed across him in a few places, and droplets of it hanging from his fangs, and gave a maniacal laugh as Marcus clenched his fists. The brown Yoshi then leapt forward in a rage, but Klashkna blasted him back with a spell and encased Marcus in a cube of some kind of solidified energy, using a spell in a language that Marcus had never heard before. When Marcus hammered on the sides of the cube, the energy zapped him and he fell to the floor momentarily, but his primal fury took over and he fought back again, uncaring for the pain being dealt to him with each strike on the solid energy.
“So.” Klashkna said in a high, yet cruel voice. “You have finally come across the final god, the last god, and by far the most powerful of them all.”
Thinking clearly for only a single second, Marcus reached for the orb Eirsir had given him and pulled it out, touching the sides of the cube with it and causing it to shatter before the pieces disintegrated. Marcus then stood up and held it behind his body, preparing to throw it to relieve some of his anger, but Klashkna raised his staff in a defensive manner and said, “Ah, ah, ah, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Listen to me, Marcus…”
It took all of the control that Marcus still had left to restrain his throw and listen. “I know the hate you are feeling. I know the anger you currently bear, fury and frustration, indignation and rage… and I make you an offer, Marcus. I will teach you how to use your powers, and in return, you will follow me and lend your power to me when I so wish…”
“You lie!” Marcus spat. “I have no power!”
“You are wrong, my friend. Within you dwells a deep power added to your bloodline three generations ago… it is merely lying there, growing, waiting for the day it is awakened. That day is today! You see, Marcus, within you resides great potential, the potential to become a master of the long forgotten, almost forbidden art of Psionics. I can teach you the secret to its use, and you will gain power you have never been able to comprehend before, but unless I help you, you will shortly die at the hands of the humans you detest so much. I am powerful enough to truly stop time while you are here, unlike those weakling gods that usurp the title of deity, who can only slow it down or send you into unconsciousness… for I am a true god, one of pure power! When I finally dispose of them, my loyal followers will gain immortality and power just short of what I possess… whereas all those who oppose me shall die! Join me, and you will be one of those who becomes a demi-god, with power beyond mortal comprehension! What do you say?”
Marcus’s mind raced. Power beyond his wildest dreams… he could become like he had been in those visions, surging with enough power to destroy the world if he so wished. It was too good to be true! And if he didn’t take this offer up, he would surely die. But it was at the price of everything he ever stood for… but what had that gotten him? Nothing he had been able to keep…
Marcus held up the orb and looked Klashkna in the eye, before letting it fall from his grip and smash on the ground. “Oops.” He said insincerely. “I guess that means I’ll have to accept.”
“Good choice.” Klashkna sneered, stepping right up to Marcus. “I’ll keep my promise. This is what the other gods don’t want you to know! The key to psionics is mental force. Raw force, pure power itself, focused by your mind and willpower!”
“Mental force? That’s it?”
“Yes! Psionic energy is so chaotic, so forceful, that it needs an even greater force to be used for anything. That’s why you’ve been able to use it before! Your powerful emotions drove you to it. They gave you the strength you needed to use them, but now that you know this, you can take your force from elsewhere. Give me your best shot! Use your anger, your pain, your hatred!”
Once more allowing his hatred to flow over him, Marcus raised his hands and concentrated, feeling the natural flow of an ethereal force through and around him for the first time. He seized that force and drew it towards himself, channelling it into psionic energy at his hands, where it manifested in the form of purple electricity around his fingertips before blasting away from him in a gigantic rush and striking a shield Klashkna had raised.
Instead of awe, or fear, Marcus this time felt sheer power, firing off bolts of the energy in all directions in the otherworldly plane, bringing the energy to him and sending it off again with expert ease. He felt alive, felt a powerful urge inside of him to use his new powers, and the more he used them, the better he felt, and the more he wanted to use them again…
“You are one of us.” Klashkna intoned slowly, raising his staff. “Do not forget this. You cannot forget this. You are part of the darkness. You are one with the darkness. You are one of us.”
A small bolt shot from the tip of the staff and struck Marcus’s right arm, burning a bright insignia into it; an upside-down pentagram. Marcus’s arm twitched in reflex and he brought up his other hand, using some of the psionic energy to numb the pain with such ease that it was as though he had been able to do it all his life.
“You are one of us.” Klashkna repeated. “Now, go forth, and make the lands burn for the cause of darkness! We shall meet again…”
When Manny saw Shiala die, he felt a terrible pain in his heart, but it intensified when he saw Marcus go psychotic, thrashing about in his chains like an enraged animal. A moment later, there was a bright flash of light, and Manny couldn’t believe what he saw happen right before his very eyes…
Marcus’s muscles all across his body suddenly bulged, and he pulled himself free from the humans around him, stripping skin from their hands as he whipped the chains away. He swung them around his head like lightweight ropes, his muscles effortlessly controlling them as he lashed out and struck the humans with the heavy iron, smashing their heads with sudden bursts of crimson blood from the impact point. At once, Yasei-Yeiko leapt backwards and took a fighting stance, but Marcus turned around and broke the chains merely by pulling on them, shattering the lock pins around his wrists. He threw the chains at the two assassins, but they both vanished in clouds of smoke and reappeared on the top of the courtyard wall.
They backflipped off of the wall and disappeared from view, enraging Marcus even more. He started throwing bolts of energy at the remaining humans, knocking them down, enjoying himself as he repeatedly hit them with the bolts of energy, taking sadistic pleasure from their cries of pain and the smell of scorched flesh. A few of them stopped trying to get back up, and it was then that Manny saw Marcus start doing something different; at the point of his fingertips, every time he cast an enchantment, a red, inverted pentagram of light would appear for a fraction of a second before the energy around his hands changed form and became something else. Marcus threw fireballs, lightning bolts, blasts of hail, and countless other supernatural things before the last human finally stopped moving.
Slowly, he turned towards Manny with the purple energy pulsating about his hands, jumping to and from points on them, crackling and buzzing as he strode forward calmly. “Now, it’s your turn to die, traitor…” he muttered darkly in a voice much deeper than usual.
“What?” Manny asked, shocked at the accusation.
“You betrayed Marcus. You fell for that assassin and Shiala paid the ultimate price. She meant more to Marcus that you ever did.” Marcus spat, worrying Manny from the way he was talking in the third person. “You will pay for this with your life.”
“She’s lied to you! I didn’t know she was a fake!” Manny pleaded, ever more fearful as Marcus grew closer. “She told me she was going to warn you! I didn’t know she’d betray me!”
Marcus came to a stop and remained silent, staring Manny in the eyes. “Are you telling the truth?”
“Yes!” Manny forced out. “I swear on my life and honour!”
A few more seconds passed, and Marcus could see in Manny’s eyes that he wasn’t lying. With a furious roar, he spun about on his heels and manifested the energy around his hands into an energy ball, before throwing it backwards at the prison and watching with sadistic joy as it exploded and brought a goodly portion of the structure in upon itself, sending up a cloud of dust.
“By the gods…” Manny whispered to himself. “Marcus, how-…”
“I am not Marcus. That name does not belong to me. Marcus died here with his beloved girlfriend. Now I am more than that… I am a weapon of the darkness, a master of destruction in my own right. I am the darkness. And I shall bring the world to its knees. My name… is Darkmark.”
“Come, now.” Darkmark instructed, blasting Manny’s shackles off and showering the blue Yoshi with bits of brick dust. “It is best that we leave the city. But I will return one day, to deliver justice to the murderer of Shiala… that is an act that cannot go unpunished. For now, I have bigger fish to fry… we can come back for the minnows later.”
Darkmark collected his discarded gear, then pushed over a section of the brick wall with his hands alone. Striding out into the street with his cloak billowing out behind him, he and Manny headed out of the city, the last remnants of the six who had entered it but a few days earlier…
To be continued…