Chapter 51 = Eye of the storm
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.
Something that had not happened in a hundred years was happening again, as the lands faced a crisis they knew nothing about. Though it became rare for the Octotheist deities to meet each other once their powers had been lost, they had now been summoned together and were meeting, such as it could be called in a place where time did not truly flow and nothing truly existed.
“All is lost.” Miyala stated sadly to the other six. “The sixth saviour has fallen to the forces of darkness. He is but a pawn in their plans. We are doomed.”
“Is there nothing we can do?” Vizorvy asked.
Miyala shook her head. “Nothing. All there is left for us is to watch and wait, to see what happens, and hope for a miracle.”
“Without Marcus, Sévar will never return.” Tivaro said thoughtfully. “It is unlikely, now, that he will mate with anyone, and his only child has been killed… surely, the prophecy will not come to pass.”
“That is the way that it looks.” Miyala said in despair.
“There is, of course, one other possibility…” Eirsir spoke. The others turned to him as he talked. “He may well carry out the prophecy himself, and there will be no need for the seventh saviour. If Klashkna gives him enough power, he may eradicate the humans and Koopas by himself…”
“But what good will it do us,” Sorsoy interrupted, “If Klashkna has the Yoshies under his rule?”
Silence fell for a moment, until Karshina spoke up, “If he were to lead Marcus to the south… to the ruins…”
“Then all would be lost.” Miyala answered.
“Maybe we still have a chance if he tries to get a silver sword blessed like he was told… maybe we can take him back.” Laryshka suggested.
“That is all we can hope for.” Eirsir stated with an air of finality, before vanishing with a flash of light. The others followed suit, leaving nothing behind in the plane of non-existence to show that they had ever been there.
Manny wasn’t sure what to do, or what to expect. Everything had changed so quickly, and he had been caught up in it like a piece of flotsam on a tidal wave, unable to go anywhere other than where he was being taken. Marcus… no, Darkmark now, had changed so much from his childhood friend, but could he really blame him? He had, after all, been forced to watch his own unhatched child be killed and eaten in front of him, and then suffered the loss of another true love. It was too much for one person to bear without snapping, and snap he had. Already, Manny had witnessed more destruction at the hands of his friend, once when Darkmark raided a shop in the city for supplies and once more when the gate guards attempted to stop them leaving the city. It had been so easy for Darkmark to kill them that Manny was beginning to feel true fear like he had never felt it before…
Darkmark was marching onwards, his even more powerful legs carrying him far with each stride, not saying a word to his friend. He seemed to be almost another person to Manny, but he still looked like Marcus for the most part, and Manny couldn’t bear to leave his friend when he had nothing else left. Where would he go, anyway? And so, on they went…
They were passing into another forest now, keeping to the shade under the canopy as their cloaks billowed out behind them from the fast pace they were travelling at. Already, the city of Corvan was far behind them, and as the sun began to set it grew ever more further away, fading into the distance just like the memories of the horrid events that had taken place there, and all the deaths that had occurred…
“It’s just you and me again…” Manny observed, turning to look at Darkmark. “Just like when we started out, just like the old times.”
Darkmark did not reply, but Manny detected a flicker of something in his eyes; something faint being suppressed. Sadness, nostalgia, longing, regret… Manny would never know, but it meant that Marcus was still in there somewhere, perhaps, hidden behind this new persona borne of hate and suffering, pain and loss.
As they continued, Manny cast his mind back again to the courtyard where it had all changed, where everything had gone wrong. Marcus one moment, Darkmark the next… killing so freely, almost seeming to take a kind of perverse pleasure from the deaths and pain he caused. Well… maybe not caused, but returned. It would take a long time for Manny to get over the way his friend had become a callous killer… something that Marcus had once accused the blue Yoshi of being. And with those powers… psionics, Darkmark had called them… he had destroyed with his will alone, not using words like magic users did, but instead utilising his own inner power… his mind, his mental strength.
Was he still the sixth saviour? Was this meant to happen? It was quite likely that these powers were meant to be used in his struggle, but it seemed like… like his friend… had turned evil.
“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.”
Had his friend lost his soul? Would he be doomed when he died to suffer in the blazing pit of torture that was the Underworld? Manny hadn’t seen the Octagram, but highly suspected that all of the gemstones were now there, and that maybe the red one would be shining brighter than the others…
Where were they going? To continue in their quest for vengeance? It didn’t make sense, unless there was something deeper that Manny didn’t know of that made Darkmark still want to kill Foryo. He had guessed while Shiala was alive that Marcus was hiding things from him, and he expected it to continue, even moreso now that the soul of his friend had gone…
He found his right hand resting on the hilt of his sword, and he started to sweat. If his friend was indeed evil, perhaps it would fall upon him to end Darkmark’s life by the edge of his blade and terminate the supposed legend of the next saviour. Would he have to continue it himself? He doubted it, unless he gained some kind of immense power…
“Yasei-Yeiko, how has it gone? Did you carry out your orders?”
“Unfortunately, I did not to full extent…”
An unnerving silence fell, and the assassin started to make excuses. “Almost, my lord. And he may well be considered removed… he went crazy, I believe. He seems to have gone insane. I doubt he is a threat any more.”
Foryo was irritated, but silently agreed with what she was saying. Perhaps it was best this way; his master had ordered him not to kill the brown Yoshi in the end, and the wizard had decided to take matters into his own hands anyway. Perhaps his sudden controlling urge would be covered up in the end. Besides, how much harm could a single Yoshi do to him, a powerful wizard well professed in magic?
Yasei-Yeiko broke out of the trance and breathed deeply for a few seconds before a knock on the door interrupted her post-mental-projection recuperation.
“Come in.” She commanded.
Tsi-Lau opened the door and poked her head around it. “You called for me?”
“Yes, sit down.” The head assassin murmured, gesturing to a chair close to the large cushion she was sitting on. “I need to talk to you about a few things…”
Tsi-Lau obeyed silently, sitting down and keeping her gaze fixed upon her sensei. “Firstly,” the anthro began, “you have recently been proving yourself to be very useful to both me and the guild here in Corvan… I feel that promotion to the eighth level is due soon for you.”
The silver assassin nodded and quietly replied, “Thank you, sensei.”
“Secondly, we have a bit of a problem concerning that ‘Marcus’… according to the city watch, he broke out of the city after raiding a shop and stealing several supplies. The few surviving eyewitnesses reported that he was using some supernatural power that wasn’t magic, but it doesn’t seem to be Chi either. I believe he is heading for my master’s castle, near Sansata city, but there is little that I can do. I am committed to stay here.”
After waiting a moment or two to confirm that Yasei-Yeiko was done, Tsi-Lau nodded slowly and asked, “Are you going to leave him, or…?”
“I would like to send someone after him, but there are almost no candidates… many of my better men and women are currently engaged, and other potentials are not skilled enough… but you, you are a different matter.”
“Me, sensei?” Tsi-Lau said, feigning surprise.
“Yes, you. You learn very quickly, and I would like to train you myself with the full extent of my knowledge… you have proven both your loyalty and your skills many times in the short while that I have known you.”
“Thank you, sensei.”
“One other thing I wish to ask… watching your fighting style, many questions enter my head. The most prominent one I wish to ask is this: why do you fight?”
“I fight but for the guild, sensei.”
“Stop that… I want the truth, not a tail-kissing answer. Is there someone you fight for, or a belief you have?”
Tsi-Lau bit her lip, momentarily allowing the solidity of her appearance to fail. “I have a rather unkind and mostly unhappy past… there are many who I lost who I fight for, and many reasons I have to commit myself fully to the only profession I know.”
“I see…” Yasei-Yeiko muttered in thought, before waving her hand in Tsi-Lau’s general direction. “You are dismissed… take today off to rest and prepare yourself. Tomorrow morning, you are to leave immediately in pursuit of Marcus, and you have my permission to kill him if need be. I assure you, he will be no match for your skills…”
“You flatter me, sensei.” Tsi-Lau said quietly.
“Oh, and…” the anthro murmured, “Congratulations on your promotion.”
She held her hands out for Tsi-Lau’s swords, and the silver assassin handed one of them to her. Yasei-Yeiko took a small pen out and made a mark on the scabbards next to the existing one, signifying Tsi-Lau’s new authority.
“Don’t fail us.” She commanded, handing back the sword.
“If I fail, it will be in death.” Tsi-Lau replied, before making an exit.
To be continued…