Chapter 72 = Tarnished Silver
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.
“They’re coming… prepare yourself.”
Tsi-Lau did as instructed, taking up her hiding spot above the doorway, her feet ‘sticking’ to the wall via the aid of her Chi. Her sensei ran into the veiled area of her private backroom, moving through an illusory wall at the back of it and watching through it to see what happened. The illusion could only be seen from one side; from the other it was completely transparent, allowing her to watch her student – a Templar now, she reminded herself – perform this task. If she got into trouble, perhaps she would help… after all, she had only had time to give the most basic instruction on fighting Vampires and Psychics, and she might not intuitively know how to deal the final blow…
Surprisingly, the first one to enter was another assassin, through a side door from the guild. At first she thought that it was merely an errand-runner, but the look in her eyes and her drawn weapon told her otherwise. She spotted Tsi-Lau almost immediately, and the silver Templar came down to talk to the low-level assassin.
“What is your purpose here?” Tsi-Lau asked briskly.
“I need to see the Tenth.” Sira replied just as tersely.
“She’s busy. Come back later.”
“It’s important.” Conversations between assassins with a rank gap were often short and to the point.
“Why do you need to see her?”
“I have a message for her.”
“Then tell me, I shall pass it along.”
“I must see her in person.”
Tsi-Lau gave an angry glare, then bore her fangs at Sira. “Tell me,” she said menacingly, “Before I have to use force I’d rather not have to…”
“A vampire!” Sira whispered to herself, almost in reflex. “Just like-…”
“How do you know that?” Tsi-Lau asked, then it clicked. “Just like who…? Wait. You know -him-, don’t you…? You know where they are! Tell me!”
“Get back!” Sira shouted, holding her fan defensively.
Tsi-Lau reached behind her and drew both her swords, taking up a stance for a moment before flying into an attack against the pinkish Yoshi. Surprisingly agile, Sira ducked the two horizontal slashes before bringing her fan up to block another, stepping back immediately from the fourth slash and rolling off to one side to dodge the final vertical slash in Tsi-Lau’s first technique.
“Quite surprising.” The silver assassin mused as she turned to face her opponent. “With skill like that you could go far in the guild. Why waste it by dying here?”
“I only joined for but one purpose, and nobody nor anything shall stop me from doing that.”
Without another word, Tsi-Lau began her next assault, leaping forwards and swinging both blades at once in a pincer-like attack, with the edges striking only each other as Sira jumped back. Tsi-Lau then rolled forwards and leapt into the air, slashing up with one blade, then used the other on the downwards attack, but Sira sidestepped the first and blocked the second. With a two-way horizontal slash she almost hit Sira as she backed into a wall, but her follow-up twin stab with both swords hit only the masonry as Sira ducked beneath the swords, and she rolled to the side once again.
“You have only to say but a few words and I shall spare your life.” Tsi-Lau chided as she pulled her blades free, then ran a finger along each edge, sharpening them with her chi. “Where are they?”
“You shall see soon enough. I would have thought they might be here by now, but I’m sure that nobody can stop them, only slow them down.”
At the moment she said ‘soon enough’, both Tsi-Lau and the hidden Yasei-Yeiko felt the large surge of psionic energy as Darkmark took care of Maria far down the corridor. Tsi-Lau put it out of her mind, however, and started her next attack, leaping into the air and somersaulting as she bore down upon her target. Just before she was about to land on Sira she held her swords out and dived headfirst for her, but again she was too quick and Tsi-Lau spun through a half-circle and landed on her feet, springing off with her acquired momentum towards the pink Yoshi. With one sword in front of her and the other held high, she swung the upper one as she stabbed forwards and missed by inches as Sira leant back and bent her knees, holding her fan protectively in front of her face. The tip of Tsi-Lau’s sword skidded off the steel plates and shaved off a strip of paint, and the swing passed harmlessly overhead, giving Sira plenty of time to backflip away from the twin vertical slash that followed.
“Such skill is rarely seen within the guild.” Tsi-Lau called again. “You could go far, far beyond your dreams.”
“My dreams shall never be true, for they contain a life that was taken that I have come to avenge. I want nothing to do with this place but to have the revenge that lost life never can take.”
“Do you live only for vengeance? What then, when you achieve it? With the emptiness you will feel, you may as well be dead…”
Her next attack was one she had only pulled off successfully once, many years ago. She ran forwards and kicked out at Sira, striking her but not with enough force to knock her back, before bringing her other leg up and narrowly missing Sira’s head with the attack, using the follow-through to spin her around and give her sufficient speed for another sideways slash. When Sira blocked it, she leapt into the air and spread her legs, passing both blades underneath them and flipping them up into the air as the sharp tips sliced the air a fraction of an inch away from her adversary’s nose. Upon landing, she leapt up again and did a backflip in midair, finally landing a hit as the toe of her boot connected with the underside of Sira’s nose, then grabbed the handles of her swords and fell back to the ground. No sooner had her feet touched the floor than she spun the swords once through a full circle and stabbed forwards, too fast for the stunned pink Yoshi to react…
After leaving the room where the two assassins had met their match, Darkmark had dispelled the disguise over him and Skafria, reasoning that he would need all of the psionic power he could muster to overcome the assassin that had wronged him so. Stopping just outside the heavy wooden door, Darkmark drew Karlo-Shin’s sword from its sheath, taking note of the doubly-bright shine it was giving off, so much so that he found himself squinting because of it. Jamming the sword into the gap between the doors, he brought it down easily through the wooden bar on the other side and gave it a solid kick, sending the doors flying open. He ran in, with Skafria in tow, but stopped short when he saw Tsi-Lau waiting for him, clearly expecting his arrival. She had her swords held in front of her, stained red two-thirds of the way to the handles, and blood dripped off of them slowly as she held them rock steady. Off to one side, Sira’s body lay slumped against the wall, bearing two deep stab wounds in her upper chest, from which blood was flowing readily down her white, unmoving chest.
“At last I’m done with them.” Tsi-Lau spat. “Ever since that kayatin son of Vick’s showed up everything got progressively worse. But now the final friend of theirs is dead, and you’re all that remains of the time I spent between then and now…”
“Step aside, I’m not interested in you.” Darkmark ordered. “You know I can kill you and you know I won’t hesitate to do so.”
“Sorry.” She said curtly, bringing her frown into a malicious smile. “I have a job to do, and you won’t stop me from doing it.”
She pointed her sword swiftly at Skafria, flicking blood from it in the process. “You won’t fight me and I know it. You can’t hurt me and I can’t hurt you. Perhaps when I am done with him I will forgive you, and we can prowl the streets together for food…”
Skafria gave her a steely glare, but said nothing, folding his arms and leaning back against the wall to watch. She was right; he couldn’t hurt her and he wouldn’t waste his time trying, but Darkmark on the other hand…
“Fight me then, psychic.” She said, tensing her body muscles. “Prove to me your power if you must. You beat me once, but you won’t do it again…”
“Fine.” He replied, holding his sword firm. “If it is to be this way, then so be it. I shall send you to the underworld as a sacrifice to the Dark Gods!”
He leapt forwards into the air and came down upon her with a broad slash, but she caught it on one sword and swung for him with the other. Moving his free hand swiftly, he traced a path of psionic energy out that blocked the attack before dissipating, and he held his sword horizontally to block the swift attack she used against him, counterattacking with another sweeping hit.
Just as the enchanted edge was about to hit her she vanished in a cloud of smoke and reappeared behind him, but he detected the surge of Chi from that direction and swung as he turned around, striking her blade as she held it vertically to protect her. Pivoting his sword around where it had hit hers, he moved the lower part into the path of an oncoming slash before deftly stepping back from an attack of her own. Taking the offensive, she make a diagonal swipe, a forward stab, an upwards slash and a downwards attack, missing each time as he stepped further and further back until he bumped into the wall. Rather than wait for her to attack, however, he leapt forwards and drove his elbow into her chest, swinging with his sword, but as they fell to the ground his swing went wide and struck the floor, slicing through the granite tiles with no resistance. Getting to his feet, he took a stab downwards, but she rolled to one side and brought up one sword, clipping a tiny cut into one of the membranes on Darkmark’s wing, but missing otherwise, and she teleported away from him again before he could lash out once more.
Deciding to bring his psionics into play, Darkmark charged up a ball of energy and threw it at her, but she dodged it easily with reflexes so quick that it was all too obvious she was using her chi to aid her. As she ran forwards she jumped up and made one slash, then another, missing as Darkmark circled around behind her and took a swipe, robbed of his fatal attack by the metal buckle keeping her sword scabbards strapped to her back, which deflected his strike. She turned around quickly and made a diagonal cut upwards, missing by inches as Darkmark stepped back again, but as her follow-up downwards diagonal slash almost hit him he stabbed forwards while she was recovering…
The blade passed straight through her, but the moment it did so she burst into a myriad of flecks of white energy, which expanded from where she had been and disappeared rapidly until they were all gone. Satisfied, Darkmark sheathed his sword and caught his breath, casting a gaze over to Sira’s body.
One more death I have had to avenge…
Darkmark turned his head in the direction of the voice to see Yasei-Yeiko standing just in front of the curtains covering her private area, but unknown to him the tears she was shedding were but crocodile tears. She knew the truth but didn’t want to give it away, and pretended to cry softly as she stared mournfully at the spot where her student had been defeated.
“Why… why did you have to kill her?” She asked, turning her head to Darkmark and wiping the tears from her purple cheeks.
“Why do you care so much?” Darkmark retorted. “She was only one of your underlings…”
“She was more than that…. she was my best student, my favourite student, and I expected her to go far…”
“No worries.” Darkmark said evilly. “Just give in now and you can go see her…”
“No.” Came the bitter reply. “I will avenge her banishment… you have not yet seen just how good an assassin I am…”
As Skafria strode up to Darkmark’s side and drew his sword, she cast aside her veils in a quick yet seemingly low-spirited move, taking two sword hilts from a belt she wore. As she held one in each hand, the expression on her face changed from sadness to concentration, and from the sword hilts came fuzzy white blades of pure chi energy, weightless yet as powerful as any sword…
She swung one of them and as she did so, the blade bent into a curve before slicing through the air and leaving a trail of chi behind it, which faded after a moment as the blade returned to its full straight length. “I have not had to use my chi-blades in combat for almost two years… I will enjoy giving you all the pain that I can!”
“Just like you did to Shiala?”
She gave a little snort. “Ah yes, her. I made her an offer, but she refused and died because of it. You two were so noisy that night, I could scarcely believe my ear-holes. I know ferals are a little hot to handle, but a prison cell? Have you no decency?”
Darkmark clenched his free hand in anger. “If you’re trying to provoke me, it’s not working…”
“Oh, but it is, and I can see it. You’re angry because you know the truth, that you didn’t love her, you just wanted to satiate your fleshly desires…”
“You shut your mouth, ki khíshala kísya!” Darkmark roared. “I loved her and when you killed her, you killed a part of me as well… maybe watching your beloved student die will have let you experience a mere fraction of the pain you dealt to me!”
Darkmark held his sword ready, tensing his legs in preparation to fight her. Shiala… Andreas… please, watch over me and protect me as I avenge your deaths… I have so much left to do, I do not want to meet you again just yet…
To be continued…