Chapter 69 = Darkness to the light
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.
“First thing’s first.” Darkmark said firmly. “You won’t try and cash us in to the city guards. If you do, once they’re dead, you’ll follow immediately thereafter.”
“I’m not human.” Sira spat. “Nor am I stupid enough to even think about trying to fight someone like you, even if you were alone.”
It was long after dark, and both Samintha and Tamaroro had gone to bed long before. They were trying to keep their voices down in the darkness, with only a candle to light them, as they talked in the main room of Sira’s flat.
“So much the better. We’ll be straight with you if you’ll do the same for us. We’ve come back here to kill Yasei-Yeiko.”
“Join the club.” Sira muttered. “That’s why I joined the assassin’s guild.”
“You’ll have to fight us for her in that case. She killed Shiala and my unborn son.”
“She killed Visali and Dave! I have just as much right to kill her as you do. Not to mention she killed Tammy’s parents, too…”
“Please, be sensible.” Skafria interrupted. “We won’t have time to argue who gets to kill her when the time comes. Just try and slaughter her, and whoever’s luckiest will get the winning hit in.”
“Good enough for me.” said Darkmark. “I’m sure she won’t be alone. At the very least we’ll have that damned Tsi-Lau to get rid of first, but she’s probably got more guards than that with her wherever she is.”
“The nightclub.” Skafria suggested in tandem with Sira. The latter continued, “It’s just a front for the guild. She has a private backroom there, and there’s a rear entrance to the main part of the guild along with a way in through the nightclub itself. I’d try her backroom if I were you, since you’re going there at night.”
“Tomorrow, though.” Darkmark immediately cut in. “I’m too tired right now, and besides, the city guards are absolutely crawling through the city like rats. I never knew there were so many humans enlisted in the military here.”
“They got a bunch more after you pulled off that spectacle of blasting out of the prison. I assume that was you…”
“Of course.” Darkmark said, nodding, then suddenly had a thought. “By the way… do you ever know what happened to everyone who died there?”
“They just left it as it was for the most part, trying to clear the rubble away. They were too busy rebuilding the city walls. The bodies were just left there to rot as far as I know…”
In a sudden roar of fury, Darkmark clenched his fists and slammed them into the sofa he was resting on. “Those worthless-… I can’t believe they’d-!”
He was barely able to form a sentence through his rage, but stopped suddenly and turned to Skafria, clutching at his arm. “Wait! If Shiala was-”
“It’s too late.” Skafria told him, shaking his head. “Aside from the fact that she’ll have probably started to decay by now, she’d be too far gone anyway for the Volzia to bring her back… she’d just be a zombie if I tried, and probably die again soon thereafter without a soul or mind. I’d have had to inject her before the decomposition starts…”
Darkmark gritted his teeth, but sighed and sat back after a moment. I figured as much… I’ll never have her back, and besides, I don’t think I could bear to have her as a vampire…
“Inject her with what?” Sira asked, and Skafria opened his mouth a little, baring his fangs and hissing at her. She started, but calmed down quickly and was breathing normally in almost no time. Apparently she’d already learned one or two things from the assassin’s guild…
“Be still, be peaceful… clear your mind of thoughts, allow the chi to flow through your body, let it take over, let it become one with your soul…”
Tsi-Lau did as instructed, standing calmly in the large, empty training room. It was only her and her sensei in there, late at night, as she took the final test to prove her mastery of all the assassin’s teachings, and show that she was a true Templar; a powerful, expert chi user, the very best she could possibly be…
“You are aware that if you fail, you will be destroyed immediately.” Her sensei reminded her. “Even with your vampiric protection, the magical force holding you together will not withstand the kind of punishment it will take if this fails…”
“I know.” Tsi-Lau replied flatly.
She kept her eyes closed, feeling the flow of chi through her, then keeping it within her, stopping it escaping, then letting it manifest itself around her body, swirling just above the surface of her skin…
Somewhere in front of her, she heard a buzzing sound, and kept her hold on the chi. Yasei-Yeiko held her special blade ready, giving her student just a few more seconds before she would give her the test that could determine the fate of the rest of her life…
Stepping forwards, the purple anthro Yoshi came closer, closer, until she was almost directly in front of Tsi-Lau, who had by this time risen a little off the ground by the force of the chi that had formed a bubble around her, matching the shape of her body as she remained in the air, arched back a little as though she were leaning backwards. Holding the sword high, she waited once again, before swinging directly through Tsi-Lau’s body with a sweep of the blade.
As soon as the metal cut through the bubble of chi, both it and Tsi-Lau burst apart and dissipated into nothingness, leaving only the head assassin standing firm, waiting as she watched the space in front of her. A minute passed, then two, and eventually five, whereupon little flecks of white energy started to reappear in the air, appearing faster and faster until they formed the Tsi-Lau shaped bubble, and with a flash the energy vanished, allowing the silver assassin to fall to the floor and land gently, bending her knees as she landed to soften the impact.
She opened her eyes and looked up, before rising to her feet and staring her sensei in the eyes, then bowing once. Yasei-Yeiko gave a small smile at the corner of her mouth, before casting the blade aside, putting one hand on Tsi-Lau’s shoulder to find it solid.
“Congratulations, you have passed.” She said happily. “You are now both a ninth-level assassin and a Templar, a master of chi. Should the unthinkable happen to me, you are now in line to take over the guild in my place, and all but I shall speak up to you from here on.”
Tsi-Lau nodded once. “Thank you, sensei.”
“I have never had an undead Templar among my ranks, and I doubt it has ever happened before. I would like to see your potential, and what you can manage with these combined powers of yours. I shall watch you as you take your path, and even if my body perishes, I shall forever keep my eyes on you…”
It seemed like the right time. Sira had gone into her bedroom, and Skafria had turned into a bat, before flying up to the curtain rail over the window and hanging from it. He was probably asleep now, and Darkmark waited just another few moments, lying on his back with his wings carefully folded up beneath him. Gingerly, he reached into his saddlebags and took out the red gem Karlo-Shin had given him, and after listening intently for a minute or two for any signs of life, he touched it to his nose and felt it grow hot in his hands…
The scene around him disappeared in a flash, and he found himself tumbling in spirit through Chaos for only a moment before appearing upon the altar within the Church of Death. It was as he had seen it before, only a little hazier this time, perhaps because of the gem, but he could still make out the six in front of him, with their hoods taken down, perhaps expecting his visit…
Furthest to the left was Karlo-Shin, smiling to himself and watching Darkmark intently with his shining red eyes. Next to him was a female Yoshi, bearing a large set of wings just like the ones Darkmark had had when he had eaten the blue Koopa shell. Her skin was a shade of dark blue that was even darker than Manny’s, and she had a set of short eyelashes over the blazing red lights of her eyes. Beside her was a male Yoshi with dark green skin, but his cloak was raised just enough for Darkmark to see a charred stump of a wing fixed to his back, and assumed there was one on the other side as well. The fourth one was a feral with dark orange skin, in strange contrast to his light orange chest, and the fifth was a teal, anthro female, her head partly covered by her rough, tousled grey hair. The sixth one, from what Darkmark could see, looked like a half-lizard, half-Yoshi; he had a set of wings quite like Darkmark’s, only they appeared to be thinner and bonier than his, and he had claws on the tips of his fingers, as well as scales covering parts of his body…
As if to explain, Karlo-Shin spoke up. “The dark gods have a different sort of balance than the light gods do… whereas they tried to show different strengths and beliefs, we show the unity of the different types of Yoshies, not all of which still live on today…”
Indicating each of them in turn, starting with himself, he carried on, “The saviours, the winged ones, the fallen angels, the ferals, the anthros, and the dragon Yoshies… Klashkna is one of the ‘normal’ Yoshies, and you… you are the first in another breed, the Cursed Yoshies…”
Darkmark didn’t know what to say, and remained silent as Karlo-Shin chuckled again and continued. “More damage than you think has been done by what Foryo did to you in his castle. It may not be apparent by looking at you, but deeper scarring has been made than your wings and disfigurations…”
Holding out a hand to the space on his right, he cast an illusion similar to the one Darkmark had done, making an image of a Yoshi-like creature come into focus. It was quite disconcerting; its skin was extremely dark grey, similar to Karlo-Shin’s, but unlike it should have done, the skin looked lighter where it should have been dark, and darker where it should have been light. It had claws on its fingers, and larger, steelier talons on its feet than was normal, and it had an overbite produced by enlarged canine teeth different from the fangs that Skafria bore. It had eyebrows just like Darkmark did, but the eyes themselves were bright white with grey outlines, and dark grey eye whites to go with them. Although it was but an unmoving illusion, those eyes seemed to stare into Darkmark’s very soul, and a chilling thought crossed his mind. Is that-…?
Karlo-Shin abruptly dispelled the illusion and chuckled again. “When the time comes, it is we eight dark gods who shall unite all the different races of Yoshies and crush all opposition. When the seal on the underworld is undone, we shall escape, and though it will be a bloody, death-ridden day, we shall emerge victorious… it is only we who can truly unite all our brethren, or what remains of them by that point… already the dragon Yoshies have been wiped out, and the anthros are almost gone. The winged ones have been forced into the mountains and are also nearly dead, and the humans are working on the ferals… before any more are lost, we must unite and push back harder, and fulfil the legend in our own little way…”
He smirked, and gave yet another chuckle, something he seemed to have gotten into the habit of doing. “They call us the dark gods… but only we can bring the light to the lands that we so desperately need. The light gods are too weak now that the Sword of Eirsir is shattered, but seven of the eight dark ones have other power, and with it, we shall rule. We are not gods yet… but… well, do you not feel it, Darkmark? Do you not feel it within you… the feeling… of destiny…”
“Yes…” Darkmark answered, speaking at last. “I feel it… that I can do great things… that I will do great things…”
The others joined in and matched him as though they were reciting a mantra. “That I can shape the future, and save the Yoshies… that I can take great matters into my own hands and control them… that I can control chaos itself… that I can become a master of all time and space… that I… am a god…”
“You see…” Karlo-Shin said, “We all share this same vision… and we shall make it happen one day. And until that day, we can wait here in the underworld, where nobody dies and ‘death’ is only temporary… we can wait until the day we escape, and make our collective dreams come true.”
Darkmark gave an evil smile, showing his teeth as he did so, and Karlo-Shin did the same. “You’re not a dark god yet, however…” the black Yoshi warned. “When you come here from the psychic’s temple, you will become one of us, and look like we do when you leave… after that, all we need to do is wait until the day of reckoning…”
Darkmark nodded. “The day the seal is undone… we need to wait for Sévar…”
To be continued…