Chapter 52 = Feathers in the wind
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.
Manny was almost shaking in his boots. It had become quite clear to him over the course of the day that what he had seen was only the beginning of Darkmark’s new powers, and the prospect of watching greater destruction take place did not fill him with enthusiasm. Having watched Darkmark coldly and cruelly dispatch a small band of bandits hiding in the trees, ripping open wounds from a distance with his powers, killing without so much as a flicker of remorse or a twitch of guilt, Manny felt sure that he was out of place, walking with such a brutal murderer.
He didn’t want to let his guard down by sleeping, but he was tired and the prospect of escaping to a dream world was enticing. Both he and Darkmark were crouched around a fire that the latter had lit, gathering a few branches together before starting a small fire with a tap of his finger on the wood. The light clearly defined something Manny had not seen earlier; burned into Darkmark’s left arm was a pentagram, much like the ones that appeared around Darkmark’s hands whenever he used his psionic powers.
Desperate to break the silence, he gestured towards it and queried, “What’s that?” in a voice that betrayed his inner feelings somewhat. Darkmark looked at it for a moment before turning back to Manny and replying, “It’s just a mark… branded on my skin by the Lord of Darkness…”
Manny’s hand immediately went to his sword hilt. “You have turned evil!”
Darkmark chuckled. “No, not evil… you have not seen evil yet. I still have good intentions, such as the elimination of that vampire human… but I merely look up to Klashkna now, as my guide and master.”
Sweating, Manny slowly drew his sword from its sheath. “You still follow the darkness. You’re not Marcus any more! You’re not my friend! You’re just a manifestation of evil!”
“Do you intend to fight me?” Darkmark asked, glancing casually down to Manny’s shortsword. “How valiant of you, but it will get you nowhere except for the underworld…”
He drew the octagram from his saddlebags, holding it out in front of him. The gold was glowing slightly now that all the gems were in place, and the image of the fire flickered and danced in all of the cut gemstones. “I am a saviour, and I have a duty to do. Any who stand in my way shall be eliminated, as you have seen before. If you want to stop me, you are not only betraying your religion, but the entire Yoshian race. Does that sound appealing to you? Do you think you’ll still get into the afterlife?”
Manny swallowed heavily, but did not put away his weapon. Instead, he lay down on his side and rested his sword beside him, keeping his hand on the handle. He remained there, watching Darkmark intently, until he slipped away and fell asleep.
Sira sighed and ran her hand over the inscription once more, wishing that the plaque didn’t have to bear the name that it did.
Visali Lestan, died 3rd of Eira, CD 2156.
He had looked so sad when she had buried him, with his back broken and blood around his mouth. She had felt terrible emotional pain as she had filled the grave back up, in front of all the others gathered for his funeral, and though she had wanted to stop, she knew it was part of tradition in a Yoshian funeral for the closest person to the deceased to bury them…
She didn’t know who had buried Dave, as she had been to distressed to attend his funeral, and now she had her hands full with the little baby orphan, too. Tamaroro, she knew, was not her responsibility, but he had grown attached to her and had looked to her for comfort after witnessing and recalling what had happened to the others.
That assassin will pay, I shall make sure of it… some day…
She shook her head and stood back up, muttering a prayer under her breath. She had been allowed time off of her course to grieve, but she wanted to go back to take her minds off of all that she had lost. She was on her own, now, living with her flatmate a few streets away from Visali’s old place, already up for grabs to anyone who wanted it.
She walked back over to her flatmate, a yellow Yoshi by the name of Samintha, and took Tamaroro back from her, cradling the little infant in her arms. He distracted her from her pains, and made her smile with his affections, and she didn’t want to part with him despite many offers of a place for him to live. They began to walk away from the graveyard behind the church, thanking the dark grey Yoshian clergyman for letting them see the grave.
Attempting to strike up a conversation, Samintha asked, “Did you hear about the incident in the city centre yesterday?”
Sira shook her head. “No, I didn’t…”
“They say that someone managed to single-handedly destroy an entire prison! Then, the same person raided a store and stole a bunch of stuff, killing loads of people, and took out one of the foot exits at the northern gate!”
“Really?” Sira asked with mild interest. Normally, she would care, but she didn’t have the strength just now.
Samintha nodded. “There were a few survivors… Yoshies, mostly, with just a few minor injuries. No humans lived… they say that it was a brown Yoshi, travelling with a blue one. He must’ve been powerful… the whole prison was demolished, and they found a whole slew of bodies in the courtyard, mostly human, but there was a feral Yoshi there too, a red one!”
“Wait a moment… a red feral? Shiala…”
Sira dipped her head a little as she kept walking. Why… why am I being plagued by death? It’s not fair, I never did anything wrong…
It wasn’t very hard for Tsi-Lau to find out where Marcus had gone; such was the destruction by the northern end of town that sections of buildings were still being cleared away and bodies were still laid bare for identification, almost all human. Just a little bit beyond that, a section of the city wall had been blasted out, leaving a large gap that was slowly being repaired as quickly as possible.
Although none of these things dented Tsi-Lau’s determination in any way, she sensed that she would have to rely on her most advanced assassin training, a little of which she had received personally from her sensei before she left. She had a sense of foreboding about this, but ignored it and pressed on, taking the path that avoided the dense forest under the reasoning that Marcus would want to take the straightest and most open road to the next city along; Sansata city.
“We should reach Sansata by tomorrow morning.” Darkmark told Manny in a low voice as they set out again, while dawn broke overhead. “Once there, we will have to look around for enough silver to forge a sword out of. Preferably without a fight that will attract attention before it is wanted, but if it has to be done…”
Manny remained silent. He dearly wanted to run in the opposite direction and head back for Corvan, but the assassins were probably on full alert looking for him and Darkmark. Even if he did manage to track down Sira and Tamaroro, he wasn’t sure what he would do next, and was worried what Darkmark might do if left to his own devices, or what he might do to Manny if he tried to abandon him.
Darkmark was being quiet, too, but for a different reason; after falling asleep, he was greeted with a vision from Klashkna similar to the ones he had had with the other deities…
* * *
“My servant…” Klashkna hissed.
Darkmark felt the words come to his mouth without any conscious thought towards them. “My master.”
“I see you are continuing on your previous path towards Sansata city; are you intent on slaying that vampire human?”
“Yes, master. I have a personal bone to pick with him… unless you wish me to take a different path…”
“No, please, continue. He has started to undermine my authority… I told him not to send that anthro assassin after you, but still he did. He needs to learn what happens to those who disobey me.”
“He is one of yours?” Darkmark asked, slightly angry.
“Yes, but not for much longer. He will make a fine first target for you to practice your psionics on. After that, I have something for you, but first you must finish this test to prove your worth…”
“As you wish, master.”
* * *
Darkmark clenched his fists as he walked, taking long strides forward. This did not go unnoticed by Manny, who took some relief from the fact that, though he denied it, Darkmark still had memories of what had happened to him as Marcus.
Perhaps, some day, I can bring back my old friend…
To be continued…