Chapter 54 = Exorcism
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.
When Manny regained consciousness, he found five different Yoshies standing around him with looks of concern on their faces, three of them wearing the white-stitched black scarves of the Yoshian clergy, one of which was taking his pulse. The remaining four had been whispering to each other, but stopped once his eyes fluttered open and he began to sit up as best he could with his tail in front of him.
He had been laid out on several chairs pushed together, and his wounds had been magically healed leaving only light scars. His sword was back in its sheath, the blood had been wiped off of his skin, and he felt oddly clean, as though he had been washed. Looking over to his right, he saw Darkmark laid out on the altar, but heavy iron chains had also been wrapped around him, firmly pinning his arms and legs down onto the stone. He was breathing, but struggling, and the single Yoshi next to him was regarding his body with a look of utter disrespect and revulsion.
“Why is he chained up?” Manny asked, gesturing to Darkmark.
“He is a minion of the darkness… we found their emblem branded upon his arm.” One of the clergymen answered. “It would be against our teachings not to help him, but we still do not trust him unrestrained.”
“Also…” said another, “They will be needed if you will allow us to exorcise him. The spirit of the Lord of Darkness will not leave the body without a fight.”
Manny got to his feet and crossed over to Darkmark’s body. “Exorcise him? Will it hurt him?”
“It will, but it is better in the long run. We are curious as to why we found the mark of a convert lower down on his arm, just beneath the mark of darkness…”
The blue Yoshi turned around and told them, “He has endured much pain and suffering, much more than any sane person could normally take… but unfortunately, so short a time after he converted from atheism, it became too much for him and he snapped… the Lord of Darkness, it seems, branded the mark upon him himself, for he talks of the God of Death with respect…”
The three Yoshian ministers nodded their heads slowly. “He can possess minds with little effort, and often without the victim knowing of this… it is best that we exorcise him, and separate the Lord of Darkness from this one’s body.”
The other two Yoshies, apparently just citizens of the city, stepped back as the three ministers checked Darkmark’s chains, adjusted the gag over his mouth, and then spread out around the altar. It was made of stone and had a large, overhanging top, and lying beside it in a velvet-lined box was a copy of the Fayen, apparently a very old one judging by the hand-carved symbols on the front and the hard, leather-bound cover upon it, showing signs of age despite apparent good treatment.
As Manny looked around more during the short period of silence, it struck him that the church must have been very old, perhaps one of the first ones ever to be built out of concrete. The styles of the stained-glass windows depicting the eight Gods revealed much, particularly that there was an actual picture for Klashkna’s window, instead of a blank one like many of the newer churches did. There were the statues of all eight gods as well, and even the many rows of benches appeared to be very old and well cared for. Torch brackets and candle stands provided little light compared to the mid-day sun streaming through the stained glass, and there were even tapestries hung upon the walls, something absent from the newer churches where they had paintings instead.
The three priests, one white, one purple, and one green, each placed a hand upon Darkmark’s struggling form and used the other to pick up long, lit candles, which they held high above their heads. Chanting slowly in Old Yoshi, they kept their eyes fixed upon Darkmark the whole time, who stopped struggling in an attempt to listen to what they were saying.
After a minute or two, they started to lower the candles, with only one of them speaking at a time.
“Lhásorr kso kharsatón.” The green one intoned.
“Vhásin kso shísayéra.” Chanted the white Yoshi.
“Khágháca vha básamúr jhór kso tsánoliéra.” The purple one said, with an air of finality. As soon as he finished speaking, all three of them turned the candles on their sides and lowered them until the flames came into contact with Darkmark’s skin…
The result was an incredible sight that took Manny by surprise. Almost immediately, all the light in the church from outside vanished, as though the sun had been extinguished. The three clergymen stepped back immediately, watching intently as Darkmark began to write, crying out into his gag, while a light, reddish aura began to take form around him. The aura suddenly separated from his body in a flash of light, and became a semitransparent image of Klashkna, hovering in midair and screeching.
“You may have removed my possession…” he shrieked, his voice echoing off the walls, “But he is already evil, and already believes he has the power to shape the future! Just because I am gone…” the image flickered for a moment, then continued, “…does not mean that he has become good! That mark shall forever remain on his arm… and he will never forget… who he truly is…”
Darkmark’s body suddenly convulsed violently, and the chains holding him down snapped and shattered, scattering fragments across the area around the altar. He flipped up onto his feet, and Klashkna laughed as he faded out and the light returned to the church interior, a sound that chilled Manny to the bone.
Then, Darkmark’s eyes opened, and he looked around in astonishment. He took a step back and onto the overhanging part of the altar, which did not appear to be supported, and the entire stone slab tipped over, throwing him off and onto his back on the floor. It remained at an angle, propped up against the rest of the altar, and as Darkmark got back to his feet Manny quickly ran forwards to look inside of what appeared to be a hollow part of the altar.
However, Darkmark lunged forwards and barred his path, bringing Manny to a dead stop. “What has happened?” He demanded. “I feel different… what have you done to me?”
“I did nothing… but the Octotheist priests here helped you… they removed you from the Lord of Darkness’s possession…”
Manny held his hands over his face, expecting some kind of retribution, but instead Darkmark gave a snort followed by a low chuckle. “Well… I suppose I have to thank you for that… I have learned the part he has had in all of this, all of the pain we suffered, and I will get him… some day.”
He stepped to one side and turned around, looking with Manny to see what was inside of the altar, and they both found a long, glass-plated box, the edges of which were held together by plates of gold. It took the two of them to lift it, even with Darkmark’s psionics bulging their arm muscles, and they dropped it down on the floor next to the altar.
“Nobody has ever been able to open that.” The green priest said to them. “We’ve kept it hidden there from the humans who constantly harass us, but none of the honest Yoshies who come here have ever been able to break the glass or open it otherwise…”
Despite being plated with glass, nothing could be seen inside of it, as though there was a foil of silver on the other side of the glass. Manny spotted a small plate with Yoshian words carved into it, and began to read it off, following the carefully carved symbols with his finger.
“The Sacred Silver Sword of Karlo-Shin, the Third Saviour of the Octotheist religion, preserved until the might of another of his kind may break the seal…”
He looked up to Darkmark cautiously. “A silver sword… we should try to get it out of this case, so that we may use it against that vampire…”
Darkmark remained silent. He seemed to have already changed a little from being liberated from possession, but he had definitely not gone back to being Marcus, and it seemed nothing would ever do that to him. Manny pried at the gold plating around the case, but there was a spark of purple energy and Manny quickly took his hands away, blowing on them as he stood back up.
Still maintaining silence, Darkmark bent over the case and also attempted to pry the plating loose, with similar results. However, the spark of energy seemed to sink right into his fingers, and he felt the tiniest charge of psionic energy within him, giving him pause for thought as he let it discharge back into the air around him. Looking over his shoulder, Manny and the three scarf-wearing Yoshies were watching him with interest, an expression of kindness and concern plain upon the faces of the three clergymen.
Darkmark turned away quickly as a smile crept to his lips, hiding the show of emotion from them. They know I am evil… and yet, they care not about it. All they care about is that I am one of them, a Yoshi, and they wish no harm to come to me, no matter my beliefs or ethics… I must admire them for that. No human would have such an attitude…
He bent down again, this time over the copy of the Fayen next to the altar, and opened it, being careful with the ancient pages and gingerly turning them as he scanned the symbols of the Yoshian alphabet for what he wanted… coming, at last, to the retelling of the legend of Karlo-Shin.
It spanned for many, many pages, detailing his life and his struggles; that he was an assassin born to feral parents three years after Vizorvy departed the mortal realm, receiving his training in the city after his village was attacked and only a handful of the ferals survived the massacre. He first learned of his destiny upon achieving the highest assassin rank, tenth level, and soon thereafter he left on a journey deep into the Koopa lands armed only with his silver sword -forged by his own hand- and his mastery of psionics.
After many more pages, many of them written by Karlo-Shin himself, Darkmark learned that he had managed to sneak into the palace of the Koopa king and assassinate him, twice closely escaping from the Magikoopa guards that searched for him tirelessly, and returned to his guild with proof of his accomplishments.
Unlike the other saviours, he was not an immediate hero, but he recorded his story, which soon spread throughout the Octotheists and became a popular legend. One day, Karlo-Shin sealed his silver sword at the church in the same city as his guild, and vanished, never to return. The Yoshies said that he had gone back, seeking adventure, but had encountered a force too strong for him, having left his sword behind, but regardless, he was officially announced as the third saviour and his story recorded forever more in the Fayen…
Darkmark carefully closed the copy of the Fayen; it was such an old copy that it had absolutely no omissions, including all of the stories, beliefs and rituals associated with Klashkna. Some slightly newer pages at the very back had been expertly added, detailing the legend of Sévar, but it was still obvious to Darkmark that they had not been present when the copy was first produced.
Going back to the case, Darkmark took the Octagram from his saddlebags, producing gasps and low whispers from the three churchmen. He placed it gently on top of the case, then placed both of his hands upon it, and allowed the ether to flow through him, taking some of it and turning it into psionic energy, which slowly spread from his fingertips, across the surface of the glass…
With an ear-splitting, echoing sound, all the panes of glass blew outwards as though the case had been hit with an explosion, shredding the palms of Darkmark’s hands and cutting his arms deeply. Lying inside the case was a four-foot silver broadsword, with the symbol of the Octotheist religion engraved into the end, and an ornate hilt and handle at the other end. Ignoring the blood and pain, Darkmark closed his hands around the handle and picked up the sword, noting it to be remarkably lightweight in his hands, and finding that even the lights of the candles shone brightly from the polished silver surface of the blade. Beneath it was a scabbard made out of a hard substance Darkmark could not identify, but he picked it up as well as the octagram, and rose to his feet slowly.
Then, in a blur of movement, he whirled around and thrust the sword downwards, jamming it through the stone platform upon which he was stood, without damage to the sword or any large cracks in the stone. Dropping the scabbard, he held the octagram aloft with the white jewel pointed upwards, and with his other bleeding hand wrapped firmly around the handle of the sword, he shouted as loudly as he could in Yoshian, “Meet with me, Lady of War, Goddess of Power!”
The white jewel began to shine…
To be continued…