Chapter 62 = All for nothing?
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.
Far away in Corvan city, Yasei-Yeiko suddenly snapped out of her trance, coming back to her senses in the private backroom at her nightclub. Her eyes fluttered open and she took deep breaths, collapsing onto the large cushion she had been sitting on cross-legged.
“Kháríorá!” she swore, shaking her head in disbelief. “I just lost one of my best students… she was an excellent assassin, but had no experience fighting against a psychic… and now she is dead, just within the walls of my master’s castle. Like she said… if she failed, it would be in death.”
She shook her head again. “Curses… I thought she could do it. But she’s gone now… unless…”
Continuing swiftly, Darkmark and Manny had travelled along the inner walls until they had the good fortune to stumble upon a trapdoor concealed beneath an ornate rug. Heaving the rug out of the way, Darkmark lifted up the hatch and peered inside, forming a ball of light in his hands to illuminate the darkness below, before jumping down into the passage.
Inside, it was decidedly dank and filthy, with running water down the walls and across the floors spurring the growth of thick clumps of moss, and roughly-cut walls that looked to have been dug out in a hurry. Manny jumped down behind Darkmark and followed him as the brown Yoshi held the light ball above his head, leading them along the straight but progressively narrower passageway.
It seemed merely to be some kind of secret passage, for it led only to another trapdoor in the ceiling with no forks or major change of direction. Only silence filled the air between the two as they travelled along it, until Manny decided to try and break the silence and started, “Marcus…”
“That name does not belong to me!” Darkmark growled. “I am not Marcus. I merely retain his memories.”
“Okay… Darkmark…” Manny said quietly, “I just-”
Darkmark suddenly stopped, holding his right hand behind him and inadvertently thrusting the light ball into Manny’s chest, knocking him back a step. “Wait! I can sense something… something ethereal, above us…”
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, raising his left hand to his head and placing two fingers on his temple. “A telepathic transmission… feels like chi… I can’t catch it, but I know it’s there… someone is talking to somebody within this castle, probably Foryo…”
For a few minutes more, Darkmark remained standing there, perfectly still, before he opened his eyes with a sigh and started walking forwards again. “I couldn’t pick anything up.” He murmured. “And it stopped…”
“Maybe you’ll learn how some day?” Manny suggested helpfully. “So far it seems like you’ve needed practice to be able to do anything with your psionics, perhaps eventually you’ll learn to do stuff the first time… I mean, when you were possessed…”
“That was different, but I learned the basics of what to do…” Darkmark mused. “I can only hope I learn more about these powers…”
Because then it will be so much easier to kill…
Sira slammed the door shut as she came back to her apartment. Ever since she had passed their initiation test, - a bit easy, she thought, - she had been taking a variety of lessons at the guild here and there, learning basic skills such as stealth and aim. She also had a code-name now, ‘Shisaí-khár’, which she was told loosely meant ‘Invisible Shadow’, and had been given a wide selection of weapons to practice with, eventually settling upon quite a devious weapon; a sharpened steel battle fan, with which she had been easily able to slice a melon in two and stop a sword swing from the armourer. She found its lightness handy, as well as the protection it offered when folded out, and had taken such a liking to it that she was taking it home to paint the pleats so that it would be less conspicuous than it currently was.
She had also obtained a marking on her saddlebags, designating her as a first-level assassin, and she had soon learned that she would be given no assassination jobs until she completed her training and became a second-level assassin. She didn’t mind; she could use the skills, and it would give her time to plan her moves. It would also delay the necessity of killing anyone she didn’t have to, a thought she didn’t particularly relish…
Balancing the final year of her magi-medicine course with her newfound training was quite a juggling act for her, but she was managing with the aid of her flatmate, who as yet did not know the true nature of Sira’s nightly excursions. She found Samintha playing with Tamaroro in the bedroom, tossing a ball to him and catching it as he clumsily threw it back, and she chatted idly with her as she scoured the room for some paint.
“Are you off again tonight?” Samintha enquired, throwing the ball gently to Tamaroro.
“Yeah…” Sira answered. “I should be back before midnight, but I really don’t know…”
“Is it to do with Visali?”
Sira paused, biting her lip nervously. “Yes… in a way.”
“Okay… I know it’s hard for you.”
Sira quietly walked out of the bedroom and went into the kitchen for some privacy. She looked at the mark upon her saddlebags and sighed deeply, removing the fan from her belt, watching the light from the window shine off of it. “Visali…” she muttered softly, “Whatever I do with this… is for you.”
At the end of the tunnel, Manny and Darkmark found another hatch, though there was no ladder to take them up to it and it was just out of their reach. Immediately seeking a destructive solution, Darkmark elbowed Manny out of the way before throwing a bolt of psionic energy up and blasting the trapdoor upwards into the room above them. He then jumped up, grabbed hold of the ledge with his hands and pulled himself into the room, finding it unoccupied, but noting that he was still underground. The tunnel must have taken a downward slope at some point…
With greater difficulty, Manny also managed to get up into the room, looking around once he was standing up. Aside from being underground, they appeared to be in another passage, except that at one end there was a set of stairs, and the other end led to a large, reinforced metal door. Manny was about to head for the stairs, but Darkmark pushed past him and headed for the door, finding it too enticing a challenge to pass up.
Before he could get closer than five feet or so, he felt himself being pushed back by a powerful magical force around the door, but it didn’t deter Darkmark much. He pressed onwards, finding it harder and harder to move, reaching out and only just managing to brush the handle of the door with his fingers. Unfortunately, this did nothing, and he was sent flying backwards, landing on his back a good distance away, and he stood up, dusting himself off.
“Fine,” Darkmark muttered, “You want to be that way? Then have some of it back…”
He charged some psionic energy around his hands, but as soon as the magical field came into contact the energy changed to magic and discharged painfully into him. Flung back again and gasping for breath, he drew Karlo-Shin’s sword and made a rush for the door, thrusting forwards to strike it, but the blade only drew a light scratch in the metal before he was thrown away again.
“Just leave it.” Manny said, helping Darkmark to his feet. “It’s not worth it… we can come back later.”
Casting a final, hateful look at the door, Darkmark turned and led Manny out of the passage and up the stairs, into an entryway. However, unlike most of the castle so far, the entryway was filled with humans, who immediately noticed and didn’t waste a moment in attacking them the instant they emerged from the stairway. Expecting a battle, Manny drew his sword, but Darkmark pushed him back into the stairway and proceeded to astound him with a psionic enchantment…
Holding up his hands, Darkmark formed two balls of psionic energy in them before throwing them just as the guards almost reached him. They bounced off the ceiling and accelerated suddenly, shooting off all around the room and smashing into the guards, shocking them with jolts of energy and instilling panic into them. Two jumped out of the ground floor windows and ran off into the courtyard, while others fell to the ground to avoid the projectiles. One of them came back at Darkmark, and when it hit him the energy was absorbed into his body as the other ball continued to bounce around. Taking advantage of the confusion, Darkmark hauled Manny out of the stairway and into the next room, racing up the spiral staircase.
They went up the spiralling flight of stairs before coming out in a large, circular room, immediately barricading the entrance with the furniture inside. Hearing footsteps come up the stairs, Darkmark turned to continue further up the tower. “It must have worn off…” he mused. “Let’s keep going. We’re almost there!”
Racing off again, they clambered up another two floors, finding almost nothing of interest on their way, except for a few windows revealing how high they were. At last, they reached the top floor, but their path was barred by a large, solid-looking wooden door, which had been locked from the inside and had no keyhole to attempt to pick.
Darkmark kicked the door in indignation, pacing around the circular room as Manny made another barricade. There was a chandelier above them, casting an eerie light about the room, and a dark green carpet upon which Darkmark was leaving footprints as he continued to pace.
Manny watched him as he paced about for several minutes, until he stopped in front of the door and glared at it. “I suppose…” he murmured, “I’ll just have to resort to good old stupid brute force…”
Holding his right hand behind him, Manny saw a good deal of energy charge about it before Darkmark swung a straight punch at the door. His fist collided with the hard wood, knocking splinters out of it, but he was hit with a backlash of magical energy and sent flying backwards. Furious, he swung again with his left fist with similar results, roaring angrily as he picked himself back up off the ground a second time.
Manny was about to suggest that he calm down before he conjured up his wings again, then walked right to the back of the room. Bringing a charge of energy onto both of his hands, he aimed for the door and ran as fast as he could, leaping into the air halfway and slamming into the door with incredible force.
Surprisingly, the door shattered open in a veritable mist of green and purple sparks, and Manny ran through to find a large room with shelves of books, a desk with a crystal ball upon it, a pentagram on the floor, a bed, a large window, and many other things. Darkmark was already on his feet again, his wings still spread, cursing and swearing and turning the air blue with a tone to his voice that Manny had never heard before, but it was understandable why…
There was nobody else inside.
To be continued…