Chapter 7 = Genocide
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.
Manny was snoring away contentedly under the bedsheets, but he could hear something in his head oddly like horses’ hooves. He turned over in his sleep, but soon awoke, and was puzzled when the pounding sounds remained in his head. Struggling to get up and out of the bed, he could hear various faint sounds; muffled shouts, metallic clangs, and lots of horses’ hooves.
Manny scratched the back of his head for a moment while he put his saddle back on, then he gently shook Karin to wake her up, and she unsteadily got up and put her things back on. Manny went to Marcus’s bed, but found that he was gone; his flail was on the mattress, but everything else was gone, including the brown Yoshi himself.
“Oh? Are we alone?” Karin murmured from behind him. Manny turned around and nodded, picking up Marcus’s flail and saddlebagging it as he did so. The air was eerily calm, even for the early evening, and since the curtains were drawn over the doors and windows, the room was quite dark, and Manny could only make out Karin’s bright eyes and the vague outline of her body. He took her hand and began to lead her out of the door, but she pulled him back.
“You don’t have to hold my hand, you know, I’m not a little girl.” She said indignantly. Manny shrugged and gave a quick apology, and he walked towards the door again and parted the curtain. He gasped as he looked outside, and looked back over his shoulder to the blue-skinned Yoshi behind him, and said, “There’s a massive fight going on. Marcus must be down there, but he doesn’t have his flail!”
“That can’t be good.” Karin said, stepping up to him and looking out over his shoulder. “Give it to me; I can use it until we find him.”
Manny swiftly removed Marcus’s flail from his saddlebags and gave it to Karin, before drawing his own sword with a faint shring. He ran down the stairs with Karin in tow, intent on reaching the bottom of the massive tree they were stuck at the top of.
Halfway down, a lone human ran into them and engaged Manny in a fight. It was short and decisive; Manny was no match for the armoured soldier and a powerful swing that Manny caught on his sword sent him over the railing and down towards the ground. Karin cried out and leapt off the stairs, and both of them fluttered before they hit the ground, landing softly on the leaf-covered soil.
But now they were in the midst of all the fighting; arrows shot overhead and the clangs of steel were all around them. In one of the trees nearby, a determined Laen and a small group of archers were furiously firing arrows at the knights and their armoured chargers, but the arrows were ineffective against the plated armour.
“Keep an eye out for Marcus.” Manny muttered to Karin. “He’s got to be out there somewhere, dead or alive.”
“No, we’re no match for these soldiers. Let’s get out of here.”
“I’m not leaving Marcus. He’s my friend.”
“Then let’s try to get up to where Laen is so that we can look around.”
There were many fires that had been started in the elven settlement, but none of them were coloured magical ones like the fires at the Shoreside village. Manny and Karin wove their way through the battlefield, narrowly missed by stray arrows and sweating from the heat of the fires. They finally reached the bottom of the tree where Laen was, but they were accosted from behind by an armoured knight.
Karin gave a cry and leapt to the side out of the path of the knight’s sword, and Manny deftly swung his sword at the horse, but it bounced off the armour and left nothing more than a scratch. The knight attempted to cut down Manny, but he managed to dodge the charge. Karin jumped and swung the flail with all her might at the knight, but her lack of experience with it made the swipe ineffective.
As the knight laboriously turned towards Karin again, Manny cried, “Swing it one-handed! I’ve seen Marcus do it; don’t hold one hand on one end and the other at the other end! If you’re going to hold it two handed keep both hands at the same end!”
Karin rolled to the side to avoid the knight’s brief charge, before getting to her feet and scrabbling behind a collapsed dinner table. Manny cursed her under his breath for her cowardice as he made a swipe at the horse’s legs, but the knight pulled back and Manny missed by a considerable distance. He charged forward again and Manny leapt out of the way, rolling on the ground as he landed and nimbly springing to his feet once more.
Karin couldn’t bear to watch and looked down, glancing away from the fight that was sure to end badly. But on the ground, she saw a large, reddish-orange shoe and a brown ankle protruding from under the collapsed table. Only Yoshi shoes were that big, and Karin gasped as she realised that Marcus must be caught under the table. She heaved it off of him as she heard another shout from Manny, who was still alive and getting out of the way, and she lifted it up far enough to prop it up with one of the bits of a broken table leg.
She grabbed Marcus’s foot and pulled, and she dragged him out from under the table and had a look at him. He had a nasty cut on the side of his head, and as she began to tend it his eyes fluttered open; he looked around wildly, and then winced as Karin wiped the blood off his wound.
“Where’s Manny?” he asked, and Karin pointed behind him. Marcus sat up and looked over his shoulder to see his friend almost get decapitated by a slice from an armoured knight, and as he leapt to his feet he grabbed his flail out of Karin’s hands, and leapt over the broken table.
Manny looked up as he got to his feet once more, and gasped. “Marcus!” he cried. He was about to say something else, but Marcus shouted, “Look out!” as the knight charged again, and Manny’s leap of self-preservation took him straight onto the ground next to Marcus.
Marcus would normally have come up with some quip to bug Manny, but there was no time for that now. Marcus ran to the left and Manny to the right, and the knight went for his blue quarry again, determined to kill him this time before taking on the new opponent.
But, in Marcus’s hands, the flail was much more effective, and Marcus’s leap and subsequent sideways swing struck the armour with a loud metallic clang, unbalanced the knight and knocked him out of the horse’s saddle. The startled horse bolted, nearly knocking down Manny, and the enraged Marcus swung his flail two-handed at the fallen knight with such force that the spiked balls broke the nose guard on the helmet and smashed into his face. The knight gave a brief cry but then lay still, and Marcus kicked him, muttering, “Nobody attacks my friends and gets away with it.”
Manny ran up to him and pulled him over to where Karin was still hiding. He simply muttered, “…Useless coward!…” at her as he pulled her up, and they scrambled up the rope ladder at the back of the tree and were admitted by one of the archers. They found themselves on a platform of wooden planks from which Laen and four other archers were firing into the battle, but didn’t appear to be having much success.
Laen looked over her shoulder as she took a full quiver of arrows from the back of the platform. “There you are! So you’re still alive, that’s good. We’re losing here; it doesn’t look like we’re going to have any chance of beating back the attackers. They came for their friends, who we’d already killed, remember? So, they attacked when they found the bodies. Typical, just typical…”
She notched an arrow and went back to firing at the attackers, and one of the other archers collapsed to catch her breath. Marcus noticed that these were all female elves, but didn’t have time to ponder anything else before an arrow whizzed past them and only just missed Laen, and the three startled Yoshies laid flat on the floor as another arrow narrowly missed a different archer.
“Laen!” one of the archers cried, “They’re picking up the weapons of our dead. We’re doomed if they’ve got bows and arr-”
An arrow pierced the air and the Yoshies heard a sickening sound as an arrow emerged from the elf’s body. She gasped for a moment, before slumping forward, breaking the arrow as she landed, and Laen bent down to her. “Myrla!” she cried, “Myrla, speak to me…”
Another archer fell as she was talking, and the remaining two ducked down for cover. Marcus looked at Manny, who said, “I guess it ends here, Marcus. Pity, though. I kinda hoped I’d go down in the midst of a battle with slain foes lying all around me. I’d hate to get killed by magic or something without even killing someone first; that’d suck majorly.”
“Same old Manny.” Marcus murmured. “Always the glory hog.”
“Glory hog? Me? Never.” Manny said. “I just want to have some fun before I find out what happens next in terms of life, death, and the afterlife.”
Karin looked over Manny’s shoulder at Marcus, and said, “Sorry about hiding back there, but at least I found Marcus…”
“Yeah, thanks for that; now I get to die full of arrows instead of being crushed under a table or being left to starve. Marvellous.” Marcus said, with a distinct sarcastic tone in his voice.
Manny shrugged and said, “At least you’re not going out in as much pain as Alziana’s exit.”
“…Don’t… remind me… of that… please…” Marcus muttered, dipping his head. “It still hurts me…”
Laen was the only elf alive on the platform now, and she got down and lay flat on the platform, like the Yoshies were doing. “Well, if only we could run, I think that would be the best option.”
“Well, we could run, it’s just that we’d be cut down before we got out of here.” Manny said.
“Whatever.” Laen said irritably, her fancy way of speaking dispensed with. “I hate not being able to use magic…”
“I don’t suppose you’ve got time for a crash course in magic then?” Karin asked.
Laen chuckled and said, “It’s worth a shot. I still remember a few incantations. Okay, all you need is something that acts like a wand, something long and straight.”
Marcus and Manny gave shifty eyed looks to Karin, holding their weapons away from her. She sighed and plucked one of the arrows out of a fallen archer’s quiver, and said, “Will this do?”
“Sure,” Laen said, “Just be careful with it. Now then, let’s try something simple. Try healing that wound on Marcus.”
Marcus crawled forward, ignoring the arrows soaring back and forth through the air above them, sending leaves falling down. Karin pointed the arrow at Marcus’s head, and said, “Okay, now what?”
“Be careful where you point that thing.” Marcus said, “I’d like to keep my eyes so I can at least see who disembowels me.”
Laen ignored the remark and said, “Well then, just hold it steady, and say the healing incantation… it’s… uhm…”
“Oralia Totalia, right?” Manny said. Laen nodded, and said, “Yes, that’s it, it slipped my mind.”
Karin thought, here goes nothing… and slowly said, “Oralia Totalia!”.
Before the startled eyes of Laen and Manny, the wound on the side of Marcus’s head closed up, and a barely noticeable scar remained.
“Wow!” Karin exclaimed, “I did magic! I cast magic!”
Laen grumbled to herself for a moment, before saying, “Okay then, let’s try one that’ll get us out of here. I remember the physical shield spell; it’s Olasta Physica. Just pray to whatever god of Yoshies there is that there aren’t any magic users out there. If a magic spell hits a physical shield it explodes. Spectacularly.”
“Sorry, I’m an atheist.” Marcus said, and Manny smacked him on the back of his head. “It was just an expression, you fool.” He said, as Marcus was about to hit him back.
Unperturbed, Karin pointed the arrow at Laen and said, “Olasta Physica!” in a determined voice. A semi-translucent shield appeared in front of Laen, and she got to her knees. Laen nodded at them and moved her left hand around, and the shield followed it. Although the shield only covered half of her body, she seemed to be able to move it around well enough to block any attack. After casting the spell on herself and her companions, a triumphant Karin stood up and handed the arrow to Laen, who put it in her quiver.
An arrow smashed against Manny’s shield, and he stepped back in a reflex action. Laen pointed behind her and said, “Alright, if we go that way, we’ll be heading north. On the count of three, let’s run.”
“Screw it,” Manny said, holding his sword aloft, “Let’s go now!”
Manny ran over the edge of the platform, followed by Marcus, Laen, and Karin. The Yoshies landed softly and Laen silently, and they ran as fast as they could, with Marcus and his powerful legs gaining the lead. Laen could barely keep up with Karin, and as the infuriated shouts of the attackers who couldn’t hurt them began to get further and further behind them, they found themselves lost in the darkness of the Black Forest. The light from the fires wasn’t reaching their location, but they couldn’t hear the sounds of any pursuers.
Laen looked back mournfully, and clenched her left hand into a fist. “Assuming they all died, I’m the last elf. For my people, I will travel with you on whatever mission this is. I will join your quest for vengeance.”
Karin, in between gasps, managed, “You two… are the… only friends… I have left… so I’m… going to… go with… you both.”
Manny nodded in the darkness. “We need all the help we can get. Let’s hope we can all live through this, eh Marcus? …Marcus?”
“I’m over here.” Came Marcus’s voice. “I’ve found a clearing, let’s try to get some sleep. It got pretty confusing back there, so I don’t think they’ll be able to track us.”
They followed Marcus’s voice to find a small clearing, into which moonlight was shining through a tiny gap in the forest canopy. The Yoshies bedded down and bid each other good night, and a restless and distressed Laen stayed up to keep watch. She had lost everything she’d ever had, like her new companions, and she would never rest until she completed their quest with them.
As she finally began to drift asleep, she seethed with rage. For she knew whom these knights reported to; the original soldiers that had attempted to kill Milon were working for one man whom the elves loathed.
The Dark Wizard, Foryo.
To be continued…