Chapter 67 = Out for blood
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.
It was barely dawn when Darkmark woke up again, and although he felt rested enough to start on the road back to Corvan, he would rest a little longer once he had arrived in that city. He got up off his front, slipped out of the bed, and donned his saddle, saddlebags, cloak, and boots, pausing a moment to remove Karlo-Shin’s sword and hold it in front of him, watching himself in a nearby mirror. The blade was shining brightly, and Darkmark looked over to the window just as Skafria returned, flapping in as a bat before transforming back into a Yoshi, nodding in greeting at Darkmark.
“I see you are ready…” Skafria observed. “I’m fine. It was a bit awkward, I guess, biting someone and drinking their blood… it tastes quite different, I must admit, and I feel somewhat stronger for having done it…”
Darkmark sheathed the sword, looking at Skafria in an odd way, with one of his eyes half-closed, resulting in a very sceptical look. The vampire chuckled at this and remarked, “I love that look, I really do. You always gave me that look whenever I went off on a tangent about something… it’d look much better if you were a human and had eyebrows…”
“Where, exactly?” Darkmark asked, trying to savour the last few moments of rest he’d have before another long journey on foot.
“Above your eyes…” Skafria mused, indicating with his index finger, tracing a path above the top of his head.
“I’m sure I could do that with an illusion spell or something, but…”
“I bet you couldn’t.” Skafria taunted.
Darkmark gave Skafria a steely glare. “I bet I could.”
“Bet you couldn’t.”
“Bet I could!” Darkmark said firmly, reaching into his saddlebags for some money. It was just like back when he was a kid, he and Manny would get into arguments like this, and invariably an exchange of money would be made…
Some things never change. Darkmark thought, taking a few gold coins out from his saddlebags and slamming them down on the nearest table. No matter how much everything else changes… he couldn’t really take to me while he was Manny, but now that he’s changed just as much as I have… it’s like old times again…
“All well and good, but you looted my corpse.” Skafria said, with a sardonic tone to his voice. “Care to give me back my hard-earned cash?”
“You would’ve stolen it if you had the chance…” Darkmark murmured, returning Manny’s money pouch to him and all the coins inside. The blue Yoshi immediately pulled enough coins out of it to match Darkmark’s offer, and bagged the rest.
“Okay then, if you’re such a master psychic, whip up a permanent illusion, and make it convincing. You need the practice anyway…”
Darkmark didn’t argue with that, looking in the mirror as he thought how to go about this new challenge – simple and harmless, but a challenge nonetheless. And perhaps he could make better illusions if he needed to, so long as he practiced fist…
Remembering his experience with the dragon wings, he decided to forgo attempting to aim the energy at himself and instead allowed it to flow through him, up to his head, before trying to force it out with his mental strength and finding some success on his first try. Watching carefully in the mirror, and trying to expect it to work, he saw the air around the top of his head flicker for a moment with purple energy before the illusion he was envisioning in his mind started to take shape. The result was that two small curves of solid black, more or less the same size, materialised above his eyes with a small crackle and stayed there, though Darkmark could feel the strain induced by the illusion as he pondered his next problem.
“Pretty good for a first try!” Skafria commented, looking closely at the two little black ‘eyebrows’. “See if you can make them permanent, though – I can feel the psionic energy coming off you…”
Just like when he turned the energy into fireballs or similar enchantments, Darkmark focused on making the energy take a solid form, and with a wave of his hand the two eyebrows flickered for a moment, shone a little brighter, than went back to the way they looked before. However, Darkmark no longer felt any strain, and Skafria gave a light-hearted round of applause as he handed Darkmark the coins.
“See, you can do anything with those powers of yours, you just need the right incentive… not, by the way, that you needed to give me back that cash…”
He opened up his saddlebags to reveal a veritable wealth of jewels, gemstones, and crystals, sparkling in a myriad of colours in the light. “Remember that door you couldn’t get through? After Foryo died, the spell lost its power and I got inside… that place was a gigantic treasure room, I tell you! This was the stuff I could carry back, and I found something else of interest there…”
Reaching under his cloak, he drew his sword from it, only it was not the sword that Skafria used to have; instead, it was a powerful-looking broadsword that looked remarkably like…
“Diamond.” Skafria said proudly, tapping the blade with his finger. “Solid, cut diamond. Nothing else is harder than it, and it will never dull unless it takes some serious punishment. You should have seen all the other stuff; there must be a fortune in there!”
Darkmark smirked. “I’m sure nobody will want to go near the place, so we can leave the rest for now. What else were you up to before you came to get me, besides looting and finding that assassin?”
Skafria suddenly took on a far more solemn look. “I… uh… read some of the books that Foryo had, mostly his notes and things… to see what I could learn about myself…
“Apparently, the Volzia he injected me with will turn all of my blood into Volzia as well, for it is that toxin which gives me my near-immortality and keeps me undead. However, I lose some of it all the time, as it gets used up in keeping my soul and mind connected to my body, and protecting my undead body from any non-silver attacks. If you cut me with just silver, I’ll bleed Volzia… and if I were ever to lose it all, I would die… so, I must continue to feed on the blood of the living in order to make more Volzia, and keep me the way I am… I can probably last for a month at a time, but after a week or so without food I’ll start to get weaker…”
He licked his fangs again, and this seemed to remind him of something. “Aside from my fangs, the undeadening also changed my mouth so that my saliva now contains a potent toxin capable of knocking out a target if injected directly into the bloodstream… so, when I lick my fangs, it applies this toxin onto them. It can also make them forget they were bitten, too. All I have to do is sneak up on someone unsuspecting, and so long as I don’t inject them…”
He let his sentence trail off, as Darkmark knew full well what happened next, having seen it done with his own two eyes. “Like I said, I’ll never bite you for any reason… but anybody else is fair game, okay?”
“Fine, fine.” Darkmark muttered, nodding. “If she’s still alive when I’m done with her, you can take a bite out of Yasei-Yeiko as well…”
Yasei-Yeiko was currently in another trance, finding this state of mind the best to think and plan in. Foryo was dead; she was free from him at last… some of what she had fed to Marcus and his friend was true; she hated him and wanted rid of him, but after she had betrayed them both she would not be able to find them and thank them, or join them in whatever quest they were continuing on. They were heading for Corvan right now, and she wondered if they were coming for her… it didn’t matter, as she had plenty of assassins protecting her at any given time, and she could kill them both if she wanted to, she was sure of that… and besides, they would have to get through a veritable wall of people trying to kill them if they wanted to-
A knock at the door interrupted her, and she came out of the trance, eventually calling out to the visitor to open the door and come in. Tsi-Lau stepped in through the door, but with many notable differences; her white fins had become blackish red, she had two long fangs protruding from her mouth, and she clearly did not look happy, folding her arms and glaring at Yasei-Yeiko with a look of utter indignation and hatred.
“Tsi-Lau, it is good to see you back again after-”
“Spare me the pleasantries.” Tsi-Lau spat. “I was shamed in battle and died without much of a fight. I did not deserve to be brought back, and I do not deserve to continue to work for the guild. I am leaving you, casting aside my code-names in favour of my real name, Valina Xornia, and I-”
“Silence!” Yasei-Yeiko snapped, and Tsi-Lau’s training took over, forcing her to hold her tongue. “Listen to me, you are one of the best students I have ever had, and you only lost because you were fighting a psychic, for which you were not prepared. But now, he cannot hurt you with those powers, only with the sword he carries at his side, and you have the potential to be so much more than you might have been otherwise. You fought admirably up to that point, and tracked him down as instructed… you merely were not prepared for that situation and the odds were not in your favour.”
“You will not leave; I command it.” Yasei-Yeiko barked, using her authority. “It would be worse for the guild to lose you than it would be for a ‘shamed’ assassin to stay. Nobody else knows of your defeat except me, and it shall remain that way. You will not leave. I expect you to be training again by tomorrow. For today, you will stay with me when I go to the nightclub, and guard me, as I suspect that there are unwanted visitors approaching…”
Darkmark and Skafria had barely walked quarter of a mile out of the city before it dawned on the former that it would be much faster – and less tiring – to fly back to Corvan. Skafria turned into a bat and hung from Darkmark’s saddlebags while the winged Yoshi took a run-up and leapt into the air, happy to have the wind behind him as he soared upwards.
He was starting to get the hang of it; the angle at which he needed to hold his wings in order to glide, how often he needed to beat his wings to rise up again, the best way to get minimum resistance on the up-stroke and maximum thrust on the down-stroke, how hard and how fast to beat his wings…
He found it oddly peaceful to watch the trees and grassland go by underneath him, at speeds much faster than walking or even running. The wind rushed past him and made his cloak flow out behind him, but aside from the sound it produced it was very quiet and peaceful high up above the ground, and he felt quite relaxed and contented as he went onwards. He was hardly aware of Skafria clinging to his saddlebags, and found that he didn’t even need to stop to eat, taking food out of his saddlebags and eating it without any mishaps. Skafria made no reply when Darkmark offered him some, and the brown Yoshi guessed that he no longer needed anything other than peoples’ blood any more…
The sun was barely beginning to set, and Darkmark only just starting to tire, when Corvan city came into view, the river running through it shining in the early evening night. Darkmark held his wings firm at a downwards angle, and glided softly towards the ground, passing over the city walls and landing on a flat roof just inside the city, apparently unnoticed. Skafria dislodged himself from Darkmark’s saddlebags, following him closely as he jumped down into a side alley, then strode out into the street as though nothing had happened.
This nonchalant behaviour didn’t get him very far, though; within a short time, a lone human city guard came up to them with his spear pointed in Darkmark’s direction, and after a brief struggle the spear changed hands before finding its point embedded in the neck of the guard, where it stayed, along with the body at the edge of the street.
“What was that all about?” Skafria asked as they continued onwards, but his question was answered as they turned a corner and saw a poster pinned up on a wall, bearing accurate representations of the two Yoshies, which Darkmark tore down to read. The sketchy pictures featured almost everything except for Darkmark’s newly acquired eyebrows, making him very suspicious of it…
After a few moments of silence, he sighed and said, “Apparently someone’s out for us, and I have a good idea who, since only she could know what we look like now… they’re offering a reward to anyone who can bring us to the city guard’s barracks, dead or alive, but preferably the former. Looks like we’re going to have our work cut out getting to the assassin’s guild, and nobody’s going to shelter us… they’re offering a phenomenal sum of money…”
He crumpled up the poster and threw it over his shoulder. “I’d say that unless you want to sleep on the streets, we’d better go see if they’ve let Visali’s apartment out to anyone else yet. Hopefully not, but I doubt that’ll be the case.”
“And if it’s not empty…” Skafria replied curtly, licking his fangs, “I can vacate it for you.”
To be continued…