Chapter 71 = It begins
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.
By the time Skafria finally conceded defeat to Darkmark and packed away the game, the sun had set and the town was blanketed in darkness, penetrated only by the torches of the patrolling city watch out in force. Tamaroro was snoozing away in Samintha’s lap as she read a book, and the other three took their opportunity and left quietly without many excuses or explanations.
Trying to avoid trouble before they got to their destination, Darkmark and Skafria chose to fly under the starless sky as Sira made her own way through the streets, acting as inconspicuously as she could while the city guards were nearby. For the flyers, it was all too easy to find the large building the club was housed in, but the simplicity that had endured so far was shattered almost as soon as they landed and stepped out from the alley they touched down in.
In front of the main door were two female Yoshies dressed like the waiters inside, acting as the guards who made sure all was well outside, and upon catching sight of the two wanted ‘criminals’, the blue-green one drew a sword and the dark purple one took out a pair of daggers.
“Assassins.” Darkmark whispered to Skafria, before he was set upon by the one with the daggers. In a reflex action he pulled out his flail and used the handle to block one attack while moving his body to dodge the other, pushing back and trying to force the blade from her hand. Her grip was strong, though, and he barely evaded a sideways swipe before she freed her other dagger and thrust forward, the edge biting into Darkmark’s shoulder as he tried to duck to the side. He could feel the trickle of blood as he swung upwards and missed, but put it out of his mind as he twisted his body away from her next stab and managed to block a punch aimed for his head. Stepping back, he took an opportunity to swing his flail in a broad arc and aimed for her head, but she leaned back out of the way and came for him with both knives swinging, slicing a light gash into his other arm while he tried to dodge the second blade. While she was open to attack he leapt up and swung his flail vertically, producing a loud crack as the balls connected with the underside of her nose, before bringing it down on top of her while she was stunned, delivering a fatal blow to the back of her head.
Meanwhile, the blue-green Yoshi had managed to hit Skafria straight off but found her attack completely ineffective, striking sparks against his chest. Skafria withdrew his sword before the next attack came and parried it skilfully, swinging in a vertical arc and forcing her to sidestep, stabbing him ineffectively in the chest as he brought his sword up. His swipe slashed through the veils covering her body, and as she evaded a left-handed grab she started to shed them, but ignored this and caught a subsequent attack on her sword. He pushed forward and slid his sword along her blade until the point found itself in her chest, and she fell to the ground clutching at the wound, gasping for breath.
This brief skirmish had attracted a small crowd, and Darkmark glared at them as he turned around, flexing his wings haughtily. “Get away from here if you know what’s good for you.” He growled, and held up his flail to make a point.
It seemed that the onlookers did indeed know what was good for them, and as they dispersed Sira managed to force her way through and come up to them, taking note of the bodies. “I can’t leave you alone for more than ten minutes without killing anyone, can I?”
Darkmark shook his head while Skafria started to check the body of the assassin he had just defeated. “We needed the warm-up anyway. This is your last chance to turn back, you know…”
“No way, and besides, you need me.” She replied, gesturing to the wounds on Darkmark. “Want me to heal those or can you do it yourself?”
“You do it first.” Darkmark muttered. “Then let me try…”
She nodded and took out her battle fan, which with its new coat of paint looked quite inconspicuous compared to what it had done before. Keeping it folded, she tapped the cut on his shoulder with the now cream-coloured fan, muttering “Oralia Totalia” under her breath. Darkmark paid careful attention as he felt the magic work on him, and he wiped away the blood over the closed wound before moving onto the other one, holding his hand above it.
It was surprisingly easy, given that he had just seen it done, and there was a very faint purple haze between the pentagram at the tips of his fingers and the gash for a moment, before it healed without a trace and he wiped the blood off his skin. Turning around, he sighed as Skafria took his fangs out of the blue-green Yoshi and licked them clean, stepping back up to Darkmark and Sira with a nonchalant look on his face.
“Must you do that?”
“Do what?” Skafria asked innocently, and Darkmark sighed again.
“Never mind… Sira, how many ways in are there?”
“At least two… aside from the side door inside the club, I think there’s a way in through the guild that I can take.”
“Then take it.” Darkmark said firmly. “You don’t want to be here if – I mean, when – I have to start killing people, or you might get in the way.”
“Suit yourself.” She murmured, heading off in another direction.
Skafria started towards the door, but Darkmark grabbed him by the shoulder and made him stop. “Much as I would dearly love to go in there and slaughter everyone, it may be better for us to try and not be recognised so easily.”
“And how do you propose to do that?”
Darkmark gave him a hard stare, then raised one of his eyebrows at him for effect, and Skafria got the message; an illusion. The vampire opened his mouth to expose his fangs, and with a wave of Darkmark’s hand they started to fade out before showing a transparency of sorts, though it was possible to see on close inspection that something was there, just not exactly what. Darkmark then did the same to his wings, folding them up tightly under his cloak, and pulled the leather over the mark of darkness on his arm instead of attempting to cover it over, too.
“Let’s go.” He said finally. “And try not to lick your fangs, no matter how tasty someone may look.”
Almost too easily, they went into the nightclub unnoticed at first. A few people thought they recognised him, but also noticed he appeared to have no wings and so went back to their various drinks. Skafira pointed over Darkmark’s shoulder at one of the doors, the only one guarded by the veiled waitresses patrolling the floor, and they slowly made their way towards it…
“Whoa, whoa, wait a moment.” Skafria uttered, grabbing Darkmark just before they got to the door. “Isn’t that her, up there?”
He cocked his head towards the stage; atop it were a few dancers dressed like those serving the drinks, and right at the front was Yasei-Yeiko in her many silk veils, though her wide, graceful movements often sent them up enough to show her black leather leotard underneath. She was accompanied by some rather interesting music provided by a small band just in front of the stage, and after watching her for a few moments, Darkmark shook his head. “It’s an illusion.”
“Hm…?” Skafria murmured absently, transfixed upon her.
“You never change, do you? Now isn’t the time to be admiring girls.”
“I just remember stuff… she tasted good…”
Darkmark gave him a dark look as he licked his lips. “I thought you told me that you didn’t give in to her.”
“I didn’t.” He replied abruptly. “I mean, I did, but… I didn’t, you know, mate with her, she just kissed me, that’s all. But… uh…” Realising he kept digging himself deeper into a hole, he tried harder to get to the point. “And I fainted or something. And sure, she got me to tell you where you were, but not because I fell for her, but because I thought she was going to go help you. I mean, she didn’t even offer, I just-”
“Enough already. We came here to do something and we’re damn well going to do it, okay?”
Skafria muttered an expletive under his breath at the brown Yoshi as he was pulled onwards, and though Darkmark heard it he ignored the childish remark as they approached the guarded door, catching the attention of the two alert female Birdos outside of it.
“No visitors.” One of them said. “The manageress is busy.”
“What with?” Darkmark asked briskly.
“She’s attending to something, if you must know…”
“So that’s not her up on the stage?”
Catching herself, the red Birdo’s gaze shot over to the image of Yasei-Yeiko, but the curse word she was about to utter as she realised her mistake never made it out of her tube-like mouth. Darkmark’s hand shot forwards and the base of his palm connected with the side of her face, snapping her neck as her head was jerked to one side, and she fell to the floor with a gurgle. The other one, a tint of green, whipped out a dagger and threw it before Darkmark could react, but Skafria thrust a hand into its path and the blade bounced off of his Volzia-shielded skin. Darkmark had his flail out by the time she recovered, but his swift swing for the underside of her nose was blocked by another dagger she held in her other hand.
Skafria grabbed her and held her arms back despite her struggling, though she spat a fireball at Darkmark in her fury and he was forced to dive down to avoid being burnt. When Skafria let go of her with one hand to cover her mouth, she broke free of his grip and jumped forwards, kicking Darkmark hard in the nose with her talon-ended feet and carving four large gashes into his flesh. Before she could attack the sprawling Yoshi again, however, she found the end of Skafria’s diamond sword sticking out through her belly, and she collapsed with a groan.
“You okay?” Skafria asked, hauling Darkmark off the floor.
“I think I can heal it. She was just lucky.”
“We’d better move quickly.” He said, as he spotted two humans heading for them. “They’ve got backup, it seems.”
Still fresh in his memory, Darkmark pulled off the healing spell with little difficulty, though a vague tingling pain remained, fading away as they barged through the door and slammed it shut, pulling the heavy wooden bar down to block it. They were now in the small corridor, only barely lit by the candles running along the walls, and started to head down it towards the large double-doors at the end…
Before they got that far, a door next to them was flung open and Skafria found a whip wrapped around his neck, and was pulled backwards into another room. Darkmark immediately turned around and followed him to find Maria and Gemma inside, the former trying unsuccessfully to choke Manny with the whip wrapped around his neck, and the latter preparing to attack Darkmark, her arm back, ready to lash him at a moment’s notice…
“Hold it.” The grey Yoshi muttered, barring Sira’s path. “Are you authorised to go through here?”
Sira had been looking over her shoulder all the way along the hall, and was pretty sure she was alone with this guard. “Yes, let me through.”
“Show me your weapon, then.”
Sira took out her fan and held it up, slowly and deliberately unfolding it to the full extent, holding it firm in her hands. “What’re you talking about, you’re only-”
With a swift slash, she lowered the fan and cut through the guard’s neck, then jabbed the sharpened pleats into his chest and sent him sprawling to the floor, choking as he expired. She felt a sudden cold feeling as though someone had thrown cold water over her, but took a deep breath and calmed herself down as she had been taught.
I did not want to have to kill anyone tonight other than -her-, but it just came so easily to me… what have I become?
She shook her head and went through the door, stashing the body in a closet and continuing on her way, not bothering to clean the blood from her weapon. If only that had been someone else, someone not an assassin, I’d be promoted for that, but then again I only came to this place to do what I’m doing now…
Darkmark drew his sword and held it up defensively, but Gemma’s whip went under the blade and smacked his leg, leaving a red welt behind, though Darkmark didn’t care and ignored the pain. Skafria would be fine so long as he didn’t get over-zealous in his swipes, and if he kept Maria out of the way, so much the better…
When she lashed at him again, he dodged to the right this time but slammed into a bookcase with his excess vigor. The room wasn’t all that large, but was much better to fight in that the corridor and he was almost glad he had been brought in here to see these two off. With a defensive swing of his sword he tried to knock away another whip lash, but instead the edge of his blade cut through whatever the whip was made of and reduced it considerably in length. Tossing it aside, Gemma took up a defensive stance and dodged aside as he swung for her, and her swift kick nearly caught his shoulder but missed by a fraction of an inch.
Going on the offensive, she leapt up into the air and went straight over him, clearing his wings, and gave him a firm kick in the back as she came down, before landing on her hands and springing forwards, planting her feet on the wall. She then ran up the wall and along the ceiling to the astonishment of Darkmark, who was caught off guard and took a hard punch to the side of his head, stunning him for a moment.
It was very weak, but it was still there… she was using chi to keep herself stuck to the ceiling, and Darkmark made a sweeping motion with his free hand, sending a cloud of purple psionic sparks up towards her. Several of them made contact with her skin and she gave a cry as they knocked white ones out of her, and she fell hurtling down to the ground head-first, and never recovered from the landing, snapping her neck on impact…
“Gemma!” Maria called out, keeping Skafria in front of her as a meat shield. She had gotten her whip tangled around his hands as well, so that he couldn’t break free, and she kept him in position as Darkmark eyed them up. “Why doesn’t he just die?” she called aloud, pulling back on the whip again.
“You can’t kill someone who’s already dead…” Darkmark muttered, sheathing his sword and taking out his flail. Holding it out from his body, he managed to get the balls swinging underneath it in a half-circle, then finally into a full circle, spinning them faster and faster as he tried to circle around the pair of Yoshies to get to the assassin. She matched him move for move, however fast he ran or in which direction, and finally Darkmark decided to resort to his psionics, putting his flail away and holding both hands in front of him…
The air around them turned darker, and streams of black mist swirled towards his palms, growing into a ball of black energy that filled the air with a hissing sound as more and more of the black mist was drawn into it from the ether around him. Finally, he released it in a blast of energy that enveloped both Yoshies and the wall behind them, blackening the floor and wall and vaporising the assassin and the whip holding the vampire, leaving only ashes to show they had ever been.
Skafria opened his eyes and blinked, tapping his chest a few times, before breathing a sigh of relief. “That felt kind of hot. You took your chances there, didn’t you?”
Darkmark gave no reply as he prepared to leave and finish what had begun…
To be continued…