Chapter 70 = Dust to dust
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.
In the morning, Darkmark didn’t breathe a word of his clandestine meeting with the dark gods to Skafria, instead sitting in silence by the table as he ate the breakfast Sira had offered him. Again, Skafria had declined to take any of the fruits on offer, instead wandering around the flat as Darkmark ate his fill and Sira savoured what she took.
“What are you two going to do today before we go to the nightclub?” she asked, picking up a pear from the fruit bowl.
“I think I’m going to go check the prison…” Darkmark murmured. “If Shiala’s body is still there, I’m probably going to bury it…”
Darkmark was about to answer, but Skafria showed up at that moment and slammed a large rectangular box down on the table, smirking at his companion. The brown Yoshi took one look at the picture on the front of the box, looked up at his friend, and said aloud, “I guess I’ll be back here whipping your tail at this until we have to go…”
However, true to his promise, Darkmark left the flat soon after to go check the prison. Skafria had declined to come, so Darkmark was left to walk on his own through the grim streets of the University district. Eyes all around him would stare before suddenly averting, people would clear out of the way despite him being a good ten feet back, and the solitary city guards he passed would suddenly snap to attention and look off in another direction, acting as if they had seen nothing.
He felt mixed feelings from this – one was that he felt powerful, knowing he was feared, but he also felt a little outcast, remembering how much he liked to walk around the Shoreside Village on sunny afternoons with Alziana and talk to everyone he met. He knew he could never go back now, and kept a menacing appearance, frowning deeply and keeping his wings raised slightly to look just that little bit bigger.
Eventually he got to the point where the numbers of city guardsmen began to become denser, and they started to nudge each other and point him out, weighing up their odds. It wasn’t before he passed a group of six, crossing over a bridge spanning the river running through the city, that they decided to push their luck for the last time.
Within seconds of them bearing down on him, one was already sent flying into the clear canal waters, and the others were regretting their advance. Darkmark whipped out his flail and struck one of the guards with it on the side of the head; though his helmet saved his life, the force behind it sent him tumbling over the bridge and into the river with his comrade. The third nearly got a lucky hit in, only barely missing Darkmark’s arm with his spear, but the winged Yoshi grabbed the spear and twisted it around, forcing the human to let go and allowing Darkmark to discard the weapon into the waters below. Sidestepping an attack, he brought his psionics into play and threw a fireball at the nearest one, igniting the cloth beneath his leather armour and sending him voluntarily into the water as he attempted to douse the flames. Something brushed past his wings, and he fanned them out suddenly, smacking the guard behind him in the face and distracting him long enough for a flail swipe to knock him away. With a sweep of his foot he tripped the guard and plunged him into the drink, and was left only with a single cowering guard, edging slowly away.
Building up a good charge on his right hand, Darkmark made a broad throwing motion and sent a cable of psionic energy towards the human, which latched onto his arm like a rope as he turned and attempted to flee. There was a loud jolt of the energy as he tried to pull away, and Darkmark yanked the psionic cable back, reeling the guard in and allowing him to pitch him over the edge with a spinning throw.
The cable disconnected from the human when he tried to dispel it, and the energy flowed back into his hand, where he allowed it to disperse back into the ether. Wanting to conserve his strength for the night, he ran the rest of the length of the bridge and leapt into the air, fervently flapping his wings until he was a good height above the roofs of the highest buildings. It was easy at that altitude to see the prison, a mass of bricks, dust, and rubble, and headed in that direction, feeling a sudden weight in his throat as he approached…
His worst fears were confirmed when he touched down. It was as though it was the very same day he had become what he was; not a single body had been touched, nor any of the bricks and stones been moved. There was a veritable cloud of flies circling the area, and the stench was horrible, though very little compared to the inside of the Church of Death. Even the broken maroon-spotted Yoshi eggshell fragments remained, the yellow albumen coating them having crusted into a flaky substance, and the pieces of chain links scattered about. Rain had washed the blood from the sands, but not from the bodies scattered about…
Before getting closer, he searched his saddlebags for the bandages he had picked up some time ago in Sansata, and wrapped the woollen strips of cloth around his nose and mouth to protect him from either the flies or whatever else was in the air. Slowly, he stepped through the gap in the perimeter wall, and entered the courtyard itself, slowly approaching the bright red body…
It had started to decay, and Darkmark tried as hard as he could not to properly look at the body, and remember whose it was. He couldn’t bear to look at her, but he forced himself to turn her over, wincing at the sight of the gaping hole in her chest, but he managed to stop himself from crying while he breathed the prayer of passing for her under his breath, saying it not just for her but for his murdered son as well.
Standing up solemnly, he knew he couldn’t bring himself to bury her, but he didn’t want to leave her body to rot, either. Quietly, without any show of emotion, he slowly waved his hand over her body, dispelling psionic energy into the enchantment he was casting, and watched silently as her body crumbled away into dust and blew away on the winds, leaving nothing to show it had ever been there.
Tonight, I shall repay what has been done to you… to me… to us… and then I will do whatever it takes to make sure this never happens again… to anyone…
He sighed and spoke into the air his recurring regret, “I wish I had had the chance to say goodbye…”
He turned around, almost already cleared of what little emotion he had shown. “But it’s too late for regrets, and I cannot stay in the past… the future awaits, and I must be prepared for it…”
Sira kept running over her plans in her head as she came back from the University. It had been a long day, and she wondered whether leaving Tamaroro with Skafria was such a good idea, but had a feeling that if any harm had come to the little baby that Darkmark would surely be the first to inflict his retribution upon the vampire. Besides, he was still a Yoshi, and he surely wouldn’t hurt a child of his own kind…
She then remembered Yasei-Yeiko, and bitterly reminded herself that even her race had some bad people within it, but took happiness in the fact that she knew she would help bring about that anthro’s death very soon…
Arriving back at the flat, she found Samintha, who had been able to leave early, holding a snoozing Tamaroro in her arms as her two guests sat either side of a table, playing the game of Visali’s they had found earlier, in stern silence. Samintha nodded in greeting and spoke in a hushed tone, “They’ve been at it since before I came back. I’ve never seen such concentration…”
“Yeah, well,” Skafria interjected, “We haven’t played for at least a month, and I’m the current champion…”
“Only because your definition of ‘champion’ is whoever won the last game.” Darkmark quipped, reaching out to move one of the markers laid out on the vaell map. “Needless to say, you changed your tune when I started winning this one…”
“You’ve not won yet.” Skafria retorted, handing Darkmark the dice. “I may have lost my commander early on, but you’re pretty outnumbered…”
“I never figured out how to play that.” Sira said vaguely as she sorted out the notes she had taken earlier, as well as the small bits of information on ‘chi’ she had been able to scour from the library. “I always seemed to forget something, and before I knew it my army would get wiped out, but then again Visali and Dave played it all the time… just like you’re doing now, they’d sit there for hours and-”
A loud knock at the door silenced her, but as she went to open it, something told her that caution was needed and she put the chain on the door before opening it. That move saved her life, as no sooner had the door been opened than a katana was thrust through the gap, and whoever was on the other side slammed into the door. Immediately Darkmark stood up and came forwards with psionic energy buzzing at his fingertips, patiently watching as whoever was on the other side sliced up with the katana, through the chain, and threw the door open.
Darkmark didn’t even need to look to know that it was an assassin, and when the scantily-clad female human darted towards him at blinding speed, he raised a shield and deflected her sword strike with relative ease before throwing a bolt of raw energy towards her. It smashed straight through the chi shield she raised and struck her full in the chest, knocking her back and branding a large burn into her skin. Before she had time to even get up off the floor, Skafria dove down upon her and bit her twice, not stopping to drink as he let her sag down to the floor.
“I don’t know whether to be happy she’s gone down, or insulted that they sent someone so weak.” Darkmark mused, as Skafria started to drag the body down the corridor and out of the building.
“I don’t think it’ll be easy to get to Yasei-Yeiko…” Sira added, “But we’d better go tonight, or they may send someone more competent next time…”
To be continued…