Chapter 75 = Just another day
Disclaimer: With one exception, all characters here are of my own invention, but the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
“We’re out of here.” Darkmark told Skafria in the morning. “Tammy is going to be adopted by a Yoshian priest and Samintha is off to live with her friends.”
“Finally, we leave somebody behind and they’re still alive.” Skafria said bitterly, looking out of the window at the city. The night had not been disturbed and both the levels of city watchmen and suspected assassins prowling the streets had thinned considerably.
“We’re heading southwest.” Darkmark told him, in case he had forgotten. “If we fly, we should be able to cover a good distance by nightfall. Maybe there’ll be a traveller’s inn we can stop at somewhere along the way to get some food, and a place to sleep. Sound good to you?”
“Fine, but I’m flying this time, instead of hanging on your saddlebags.”
Darkmark raised an eyebrow. It had already become a reflex in tandem with his questioning stare. “And how are you going to do that?”
“You haven’t seen everything vampires can do, never forget that.” Skafria said with a smirk, and left it at that.
Samintha came in with Tamaroro at that time, and held the little baby up. He was getting a bit bigger now and certainly looked healthier, though his frown and saddened eyes betrayed his inner feelings.
“This is good-bye, kid.” Darkmark said quietly, putting a hand on the green baby’s. “Maybe I’ll see you again, but I don’t know. Don’t worry, Vachez’ll take good care of you, I’m sure of it.”
Tamaroro forced a smile. “He’s fun. He makes me laugh and his scarf is tickly…”
Darkmark chuckled and reached into his saddlebags. “Here, you can have this as a memento. Keep it, I don’t need it any more…”
Taking out the necklace with the elven rune, shining brightly due to Skafria’s presence, he put it around Tamaroro’s neck and gave him a pat on the head. “Keep it safe, okay?”
“Okay!” He said brightly, intrigued by the way it shone.
“I’ll come and visit you whenever I can.” Samintha said, bouncing Tamaroro in her arms. “And maybe when you’re older you can come and see me, hm?”
Darkmark held back a smile, and walked over to the window where Skafria waited. “We’re going now… see you around!”
Without waiting for a reply he jumped out of the window and soared over to the next building over, with its wide, flat roof. He saw Skafria make the jump as normal and flutter to reach the roof, landing beside Darkmark on the solid stone.
Without waiting, he disappeared into a cloud of smoke and came out as a bat, only this time, he was a much larger bat, almost as big as Darkmark was. He had great leathery wings as his arms and blue fur covering his body, and seemed not at all affected by the sun, taking off and heading in the opposite direction to it as Darkmark took a run-up, leapt into the air, and followed.
About mid-day they flew into a light snowfall over the grassy plains of the open country, which became heavier as they went and eventually forced them to take shelter within a copse of trees and spend another night in the open. The following day progressed equally uneventfully, with only minor snow throughout the day, blanketing everything in white and giving the landscape a serene, peaceful touch. Miles went by beneath them as they soared just below the clouds; vast empty areas and the occasional village, roads and the carts and people upon them, forests, marshes, all went whipping past as the winged Yoshi and the giant bat flew ever onwards, stopping only for Darkmark to eat or for the both of them to sleep, or to ambush the lone traveller so Skafria could replenish his strength while Darkmark checked the compass…
After about five days they crossed the border between the mostly-Yoshian area known as the Letekka Plains, and headed into the human-controlled kingdom on the Felennia Grasslands. The difference was noticeable, as almost immediately the number of towns and cities drastically increased along with the number of roads connecting them, and the traffic between them. They were too far south to have had a chance of seeing the sprawling capital even on a clear day, so while the snow was falling it was tough for them just to see as far ahead as they could.
Darkmark found the cold extremely irritable and had taken to holding fireballs in his hands as he flew to try and keep himself warm. The light they gave off made him easy to spot, but he was high above the ground and couldn’t care less, and kept going, crossing mile after mile of mostly cultivated grassland. Skafria didn’t have any complaints, or if he did, he kept them to himself…
After another three days of flying they finally reached the edges of the huge mountain range known as the Kaftata Mountains, named after the rare medicinal plants that grew within them. They were tough to traverse and nobody had ever managed to cross them and come back, so they were regarded as a south-western boundary of the inhabited lands of Chyrus, along with the huge, impenetrable Crelata forests north of them, the Zorenni Desert made hazardous by the Koopas who lived there, the great Eastern Ocean that none had ever returned from, and the permanently frozen Ailena Wastelands in the southeast. It was almost as though all civilisation was boxed in to the inhabited lands, unable to expand outside those natural boundaries…
Eventually the blizzard became heavy enough that it grounded them and forced them to walk through the snowstorm until they saw a building next to the snow-coated road. It was late and nearly dark, and the sight of a Traveller’s Inn was the warmest welcome the two weary travellers could have ever hoped to see. Its lights shone brightly into the cold, dark night, and the way they flickered showed the presence of a fire – but all Darkmark could care about was that it was warm, indoors, and probably could provide a place for him to sleep that wasn’t just snow covering dirt and stones.
Upon getting through the door and closing it again, a tough task in the face of the howling wind, Darkmark hung up his cloak, shook off the snow, and collapsed into one of the plush, comfy chairs near the fire. His wings ached from the extended exertion and his body felt numb from the cold, and almost immediately he fell asleep by the dancing light of the fire, sinking into the cushions.
Skafria muttered darkly as he was left to get a room, and tried to keep his head down so that his nose would cover up his fangs. “I need a room, please.” He told the orange female Yoshi at the desk. “Just the two of us, assuming he wants to move from his comfy spot…”
“No problem. You’re the only people here aside from my other visitor, and she was travelling alone. You, I can see out in weather like this, but she’s not that old… sky-blue skin, I thought she’d frozen when she came stumbling in, but that’s just her normal skin tone… we get some odd types around here. Usually explorers…”
She handed him a pair of tagged keys, and wandered off to go do something after putting the money into a padlocked box that Skafria saw was chained and anchored to the floor. Walking over to Darkmark, he threw the key at him and it landed on his chest, but it didn’t rouse him from his slumber and he continued to sleep peacefully.
“Wonderful.” He said to himself, smirking. “It’s getting late… perhaps its time for me to get a midnight snack…”
The unfortunate young Yoshi who had just been marked as someone’s dinner was lying under the bedclothes in a room at the end of the inn, trying to get to sleep. Although the room was sealed from outside it was still quite cold, and she shivered despite the large duvet covering her body, wondering if she should take the blanket from the chair and go camp out near the fire until she warmed up…
Her eyes fluttered open when she heard someone trying her door handle, but she stayed where she was and watched the door closely, unable to make anything out while her eyes adjusted to the light. The door opened slowly and a figure entered her room, and something about the unexpected visitor told her his intentions weren’t friendly ones. She kept rock still as he crept into the room, catching what he was whispering to himself.
“Yoshies are nice… I prefer Birdos, but Yoshies are still good… and females are always better… particularly the younger ones… they taste better for some reason…”
He made the mistake of turning his back on her in order to close the door, and as soon as he did so she sprang into action, leaping up from the bed and standing straight in a combat-ready pose, her hands enveloped in fire she could throw at any moment. They lit up the room and revealed Skafria in all his glory, but without his cloak, and he held up a hand against the sudden change in light, hissing in reflex.
She threw both fireballs at him simultaneously, but just as they were about to hit him they spread over his body as though he were protected by a shield and he remained unhurt, even when she next threw two bolts of electricity at him. He made a lunge for her and she dodged to the side with super speed, throwing another pair of fireballs to no avail. He stood up and gave a loud hiss unlike his normal one, that echoed in the small room and momentarily had her stunned, but she broke free from it and dodged towards the door, wrenching it open, but he leapt over towards the door and put his weight against it, slamming it shut. She stepped back as he advanced on her, but he stopped when he saw a little blue glow in her eyes, and before he could figure out what it was, two beams of freezing cold struck him, spreading ice across his body, freezing him in place. She paused, proudly victorious, but sooner than she expected cracks began to appear in the ice and she bolted out the door.
It was not the loud slam that had woken Darkmark from his snooze, but the loud hiss of Skafria’s that had sent prickles through his body and jerked him awake. He was sitting in the chair, scratching his head and wondering what had happened, when someone came running into the otherwise-empty lounge.
She didn’t look to be very old, but that wasn’t to say she didn’t have the look of someone who could take care of herself if the situation arose. Her skin was a bright, sky blue, just like Sorsoy’s, she wore dark blue boots and a similarly coloured saddle, and had little, curved eyelashes growing at the edges of her eyes. On the back of her head was a set of dark blue fins, and what surprised Darkmark the most was not the little puff of yellow hair on the top of her head, but the fact that her hands had only two fingers and a thumb.
“Oh, no…” she murmured, catching sight of Darkmark. “You’re probably with him, aren’t you…?”
“With who?” Darkmark asked, still scratching the back of his head. “And more importantly, who are you?”
Skafria came into the room a moment thereafter, and from the look he gave the Yoshi girl, it was quite clear to Darkmark what had happened. Springing up and unsheathing Karlo-Shin’s sword, he held the shining blade in Skafria’s direction and walked forwards until the blade was between the vampire and his would-be meal.
“Sorry if he disturbed you.” Darkmark said curtly, addressing the Yoshi but not looking over to her, instead keeping his gaze firmly locked upon his comrade’s. “Go back to your bedroom, but just shout if he bothers you again.”
She looked as though she were about to say something else, but thought better of it and headed off, casting a last glance back at them before disappearing from sight.
“Nice going.” Skafria spat, glaring at Darkmark.
“Just cleaning up your mess.” Darkmark replied. “If you’re going to go off and try to get some food without me, at least make a clean job of it.”
“Shall we go get her when she’s asleep again?”
Darkmark sighed, sheathing the sword. “No. For one she’ll be too alert, and secondly, you bit someone this morning. Can’t you go awhile without sinking your fangs into someone? Let’s just go get some sleep, okay?”
“Fine…” Skafria muttered. “But if I catch her alone tomorrow…”
Darkmark sighed a second time but said nothing, following Skafria back to the room. His sword seemed to be the only control he had over the vampire, but it certainly made him listen whenever it was taken from its sheath…
To be continued…