Chapter 65 = The return of Darkmark
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.
Darkmark regained his consciousness later and expected to find himself back at the castle, but instead found himself staring into the angry eyes of the goddess Laryshka. The entirety of Chaos was swirling behind her, its mind-rendering cacophony resounding across the void, but as Darkmark fell, rather than become frightened, he felt a powerful resolve not to let himself be pushed around any longer.
Laryshka held both of her swords in his direction and glared at him. “We don’t know what happened there in the Underworld, for Klashkna has devised ways to stop even Miyala peering into that hole, but we still know your mind and soul were brought there temporarily. Tell me now what happened, lest I have to force the information out of you!”
Darkmark merely glared back, spreading his wings out to their full extent and drawing Karlo-Shin’s sword. “Make me.” He taunted, adding a venomous tone to his voice.
With a derisive snort, Laryshka touched her sword tips together, sending long cables of white energy towards Darkmark at blinding speed, whereupon they wrapped around him tightly and painfully discharged their energy into him. He resisted it at first, gritting his teeth, but soon noticed that what she was using was not magic, but…
“Ch-… Chi, isn’t it?” he gasped, stopping himself from crying out. “Y-You’re a Ch-Chi user… I’ll n-need the practice…”
Narrowing his eyes at her, he summoned up a large burst of psionic energy from his body, shattering the cables and sending dissipating strands of Chi energy into the vast emptiness of Chaos. Laryshka moved back a little, but Darkmark had not had enough and pulled a large mass of psionic energy to himself, manifesting it on his hands as a pair of balls before throwing them at her, striking with near-perfect aim. The energy surged across her body and she gave a shout, but the energy soon dissipated and left her breathing heavily, keeping her gaze upon Darkmark, who found the sound of Chaos more of a threat to him that her at that moment in time.
“I am not your slave.” Darkmark said coldly. “I am not your servant, your errand-runner, or your little pet. I belong only to myself, and it matters not to me what you think I should do, or what you have to say. I am taking my own path from here on out… not controlled by either the gods of light or darkness, but by my own two eyes and my own mind…”
“How do you know of the dark gods?” Laryshka demanded, clearly undeterred.
Darkmark smirked and gave her a self-satisfied look. “I should know of what I have become, should I not…?”
He gave a loud, evil laugh, charging up as much psionic energy as he could while she stared at him in disbelief, before he released the energy in a sudden explosion and brought the meeting to an abrupt end.
At that exact moment in time, all across the towns, cities, and nations of Chyrus, every remotely gifted oracle immediately felt a vision, some more powerful than others, but all with the same general content; destruction. Demons were running free from the Underworld, burning all in their path; the eight Yoshian gods of darkness leading the devastation, the skies red with fire and the air filled with the screams of the dying. Cracks across the ground broke open, spewing lava upwards, the winds became powerful and the seas treacherous, blood ran down the walls and streets of the cities, the darkness spread across the lands…
Each vision seemed so real that when the oracles awoke from the trance, they immediately ran outside to confirm that the events they had just witnessed were not already occurring, then immediately spread the word of what had happened…
Finally, Darkmark snapped awake on the roof of Foryo’s castle, his hand locked firmly around Karlo-Shin’s sword, and the morning turned to night, the rain and lightning all around him fiercer than ever. Standing up with newfound strength, he sheathed his sword and walked calmly back inside, trying not to slip on the rainwater running down the stairs and into a drain at the bottom of the staircase.
As soon as he was fully sheltered, he shook the rain off of himself like a dog, spraying water on the walls, before stepping through the illusionary wall, which was already beginning to dissipate; large holes were starting to appear in the image as the spell’s power faded.
He stopped abruptly when he saw Manny’s body. It had not moved from where it lay, and he did not expect it to, but the sight of it still upset him a little, and he bent down to him to close Manny’s eyes with his fingers. It made him look a lot more peaceful, but it was still unnerving to see the two swollen puncture marks on his neck, partly coated in a black-flecked reddish substance that Darkmark assumed was coagulated blood. Hesitantly, he removed Manny’s saddlebags and went through them, taking out everything he thought he might need; money, the compass, bandages, his food and nearly-full water container, and finally the box of throwing knives. After transferring them to his saddlebags, practically filling them up, he put an arm around Manny and tried to lift him up, but found it exceedingly difficult.
“When did you get so heavy?” Darkmark murmured. “Unless I’m getting weak…”
He stood back up and looked around, catching sight of himself in a mirror. His wings were folded closed against his back, but with a start he realised that the once-red membranes were now a light shade of grey, as were his fins and the red eye outlines he once had. With a shock, he realised that the final curse that Foryo had cast upon him must have done this, and that he needed to get it lifted immediately.
He knelt down besides Manny and quickly said a prayer for him, apologising profusely for not being able to bury him. After giving Manny’s body his blessing, he crouched on the window ledge for a moment, taking a final look back before leaping out into the rainy night sky, spreading his wings, and heading for Sansata as fast as he could…
Either instinctively or intentionally, Darkmark headed right for the church he had found himself in when he arrived in the city, bursting through its doors while the storm raged on outside. Only a few candles lit the church, so Darkmark conjured up a light ball successfully on his first attempt as he approached the altar, catching the eyes of the white Yoshi standing behind it.
“Saviour!” he called out as Darkmark approached. Removing his cloak to let it dry, Darkmark nodded in reply and stopped next to the clergyman, using his free hand to give the churchman his blessing in the traditional gesture.
“I have little time… I have been cursed, and I need to have it removed as soon as possible. Can you help?”
The Yoshi immediately took a wand from his saddlebags, and muttered something under his breath, his eyes fixed intently upon Darkmark for a minute or two until he dispelled whatever spell he had cast and nodded solemnly. “I can help, Saviour. Please, take my hand…”
Darkmark clasped the proffered hand and watched as the Yoshi muttered under his breath again, before saddlebagging the wand and placing his free hand on Darkmark’s nose. The brown Yoshi felt calm and peaceful for a moment, and closed his eyes momentarily as something flowed across his body… then it stopped, and the Yoshi took a step back, releasing Darkmark’s hand.
The odd chill that Darkmark had been feeling vanished, and he felt strong again, but had a distinct feeling that not all was well, given the look on the clergyman’s face. The white Yoshi swallowed and said, “It was too long after the curse was lain for me to heal it fully… although all the physical damage is gone, your markings will remain as they are…”
With a wave of the wand, the clergyman called up an ethereal shield, reflecting Darkmark’s image in it for the winged Yoshi to see. He stared at it for a while; his reflection looked saddened, so much darker and gloomier with the dark fins, eyes, wing membranes, tongue, and mouth, but he narrowed his eyes at it in disgust and found that he took on a much eviller look that way. The clergyman dissipated the mirror, and with one final blessing Darkmark took his leave, striding back out into the storm with his cloak covering his tightly-folded wings, pressed hard into his back. He went looking for some place to stay the night and wait out the storm, before he could continue his journey… though he had other plans than the ones Karlo-Shin gave him…
To be continued…