Chapter 6 = The Third Survivor
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.
Marcus walked inside, and saw Manny locked in a close embrace with a blue Yoshi the same colour as him. Were it not for the eyelashes and the white saddle on one of them, Marcus would probably have had a hard time telling them apart.
“Manny!” She exclaimed, “I thought you were dead!”
Manny patted her on the back as he hugged her. “We thought you were dead, too…”
“Huh? We?” she replied, breaking off and opening her eyes.
Marcus nodded at her in greeting as she looked over. “I was with him, remember?” She rolled her eyes up in thought, then gave an “Oh, right…” as she brought them down again.
She looked behind him and at the door. Marcus figured she was looking for Laen, but the elf was already inside. “Where’s Alziana?” The blue Yoshi asked after a moment.
At the sound of her name, Marcus’s heart was filled with grief and he dipped his head. Manny spoke up, saying, “She was at the village. She… didn’t make it. We got to her before she died…” he dropped his voice to a low whisper, but Marcus could still hear him as he continued, “But poor Marcus was holding her in his arms when she died… he’s heartbroken; and I feel sorry for him…”
The blue Yoshi came over and put a reassuring hand on Marcus’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.” She said, “I know how much you two loved each other…”
Laen coughed, and said, “How do you all know one another?”
Manny put his arm around the shoulder of the female blue Yoshi and said, “She’s an old acquaintance of mine. I knew her for a long time, but I wasn’t as close as Marcus was to… oh right, we haven’t told you yet…”
Manny quickly recounted their story so far to the elf, with Marcus forcing himself to look up and chip in every so often. When they had finished, Marcus was fighting back tears as he sat on the end of one of the beds.
Laen nodded. “I see… so that’s why you’re looking for that dark wizard… well, I do pity you; nobody should have to suffer losses like those at a young age, but you will have to be strong if you want to achieve your goal. Regardless, I’ll leave you now and give you some privacy.” With that, she gave a little wave and left them.
The blue Yoshi tapped Marcus on the shoulder, and he looked up. She was pretty much a regular Yoshi, although she had eyelashes a little earlier than was normal. They were long, and had Alziana lived, Marcus knew she would have grown a set in a year or so’s time at the very earliest, three or four years at the most. Her saddle was white for a reason; it was the sign of a medic, although she wasn’t fully trained. She was fair and slender, the type Manny looked out for, but Marcus had never paid much attention to her. Her boots were the same reddish-orange as his, but the backs were caked with dirt and strands of grass.
“Hello, Karin.” Marcus said, dipping his head again. “I’m glad there’s a third survivor…”
Manny asked the question first. “Why aren’t you dead?” he said, and she sat down on the adjacent bed.
“On that day,” she replied, “I had gone into the forest a little way to try and find some healing herbs… but I couldn’t find them. I spent several hours looking for them, and gave up after a bit. But when I got back, the village was no more. I figured you might still be out there, so I ran on the path out of the village… but I didn’t find you. So I gave up and presumed you dead, and decided to leave the island. I was running for almost the whole time, except when I was sleeping. I almost got killed, though… I disturbed a pack of wolves in the dark, and ran into something trying to escape… anyway, I couldn’t find you I figured you’d got back early and died… I was found by the elves not too long ago, and I saw their magic. It’s quite something, isn’t it?”
Manny nodded. “They patched me up almost instantly. I had loads of wounds and they healed them all.”
Karin nodded. “It looks simple, although it’s probably a lot more complex than it looks… but they refuse to teach me.”
Manny shrugged again. “Well, you can’t have everything. Say, would you like to come with us for the rest of the journey?”
Karin’s eyes widened. “You’d take me?”
Marcus slowly said, “I think we’ve learned our lesson about leaving loved ones and our friends behind. We should take you along for your own safety.”
Silence prevailed, and Manny dropped his saddlebags onto one of the beds. “Well, I’m going to get some sleep, but first I’m going to go find Laen and check where we eat. Be right back.” He left and Marcus heard the creaking sound of the steps outside as Manny made his descent.
Karin got up and sat down next to Marcus. “Cheer up.” She said, “You’ve still got Manny, at least you weren’t left on your own.”
“That’s not much consolation.” Marcus said. “I like Manny, and I don’t want to lose him as well, but I’d rather have had… Alziana…”
“You almost did.” Karin said. “You could have taken her with you. But really, you couldn’t have foreseen what happened. Anyway, what’s done is done. Alziana, your relatives… they’re all dead… and you’ve got to move on. Alziana was my friend, too, but you can’t dwell on the past too much.”
“That’s easy enough to say.” Marcus muttered. “But… well, almost everything I did was for her. And now she’s gone, it feels like I have no purpose any more.”
Karin put an arm around him. “You’ll find someone else. Time will wash away any wound.”
Marcus murmured, “But how much time will it take to forget true love?”
Karin mused for a moment, then said, “Time alone is no good. You need a friend; you need social contact. Just don’t stop people from helping you…”
She put her hands on his shoulders, and knelt on the bed behind him. “If you just loosen up a bit… if you just let people talk to you… they can help you. You’ll forget, there’s no doubt about that, but you should also remember your experiences, so that you’ll be ready for the future…”
She gently caressed his shoulders, and Marcus breathed out deeply. His muscles were tired from spending so long walking endlessly across country and over cheap roads, and the recent battle. Karin knew from her medical training what sorts of muscles grew tired, and how to help them. As she continued to rub his shoulders, she said, “Like this. Doesn’t this feel good? If you feel good or happy, you can forget easier. But if you get depressed and feel down, then you’ll dwell on the past. I believe that’s one of Manny’s proverbs; ‘Those who live in the past are unprepared for the future’.”
“That proverb changes every time I hear it…” Marcus murmured. He dipped his head again, but simply because he was tired; Karin’s hands were very soothing and he felt drowsy. The bed he was sitting on was comfortable; it must have been stuffed with downy feathers, and it made the mattress springy. The bed sheets were soft, and he could feel them rubbing against his tail and underside. He felt himself drifting off, and he slipped out of Karin’s grasp and fell sideways onto the bed. A small smile crept across his face from the comfort, and he grabbed an armful of blanket and held it close to him. His eyelids drooped shut and he began to sleep peacefully.
Karin smiled a little. He looked cute, lying on the bed with his arms around the soft blankets. She started to walk towards her own bed when Manny came back up. “Hey, Karin,” he began, “We-”
Karin gestured towards the sleeping Marcus, and Manny nodded. He continued in a whisper, “We can eat whenever we want, when we go down they’ll get us something.”
Karin nodded as they walked towards their beds, next to Marcus’s. Manny took his saddlebags off the bed and laid them on the floor, stepped out of his shoes and flopped onto the bed without taking off his saddle. He laid there for a few moments before drifting asleep, and Karin took a look at the pair of them. Marcus was clearly emotionally worse for wear, judging by his behaviour, but the number of magically healed scars on Manny told her who had been getting in more fights.
She slipped her boots off and removed her saddle before slipping under the covers of her own bed. Elven beds were so soft; she felt like she was lying on a single, massive feather. She, too, drifted asleep, not even conscious of Marcus’s sudden snores.
Marcus’s dreams were not as pleasant as they seemed, had anyone been watching him lying unmoving on the bed. Images were flashing through his subconscious of the dying Alziana, her dying gasps echoing in his head, the few words she had managed piercing through him. Over and over in his head, behind the other sentences he remembered, her heard her voice saying, “Marcus… Marcus… Marcus…”
Marcus snapped awake, fervently gasping for breath as though he had been being suffocated. After pausing a few moments and catching his breath, he looked around. Karin and Manny were still sleeping peacefully; Manny was lying on his back was his arms stretched out and Karin was lying on her front under the covers, her hands lying next to her head.
It was starting to get dark, so Marcus shook his head and got up. He was lucky that he’d fallen asleep on his left; his flail was still attached to his saddle in the three leather rings, and he’dve woken up very sore if he’d fallen onto his right. He removed his flail and laid it on the bed before groggily walking out the door and down the tree.
When he reached the bottom of the tree he was greeted by the elvish leader he’d seen before, as well as the medic. Marcus was led to a set at an outdoor table, and a few plates of steaming food were put in front of him, and he gratefully ate with speed only attainable via the use of a ten-foot-long tongue. The elvish leader introduced himself as ‘Milon’, and pressed Marcus into wearily recounting his tale so far. Marcus was brought several glasses of elvish wine and he was quite dizzy after the third, and struggled to stay on his seat as Milon mused over the tale.
“Packs of wolves… Villages being razed… Bandits roaming the wilderness… Mercenaries travelling around… there’s some sort of connection, I think. Evil forces have been increasing lately… something bad is happening in the world, and I severely doubt that it’s all down to Foryo.”
Marcus forced himself to speak. “Uh… yeah… I need to ask about that… how do we get to…” he strained for a moment as he racked his memory, then finally came up with, “…Sansata?”
“You’ll need to get off Yoshi’s Island first, you know. Just keep going north and you can get to the mainland. You’ll need to ask for directions after that; my memory isn’t what it used to be and our cartographers haven’t got the area mapped out.”
Marcus nodded, and said, “By the way… is it true that you elves live a long time?”
Milon gave a sly smile and nodded. “I’m one hundred and forty two, you know. But, mind you, we’ve got nothing on Yoshies. You live for… what is it, five hundred years?”
“Three hundred at best,” Marcus replied, “but that’s only the ones who live generally healthily. We get susceptible to illnesses in old age, which tends to bump us off earlier than normal…”
Milon nodded. “Okay… I can see you’re having trouble staying upright there. Do you want to go back to your room?”
Marcus tried to get up out of the chair, but lost his balance and fell on his back, half under the table. Milon was about to help him, when a sentry in the trees above shouted out, “To arms! We’re under attack from mounted knights!” Milon swore in elvish, drew his sword, and ran off, forgetting completely about Marcus…
To be continued…