Chapter 78 = Temptation
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.
Oddly enough, Darkmark dreamt he was flying, only it was warm outside, the sun shone down upon him, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky between him and it… he flew upwards, trying to see how far he could go, and the sun rapidly moved around the land beneath him, replaced by one of the moons of Chyrus within a short space of time. Onwards he flew, reaching for the stars, wondering what lay beyond the empty void of space that he could look up and see on every clear night…
Suddenly, all went black, and when he tried to stop his feet touched down on a large stone platform. A moment later there was a flash, and the seven Light Gods appeared before him, illuminated within a single large circle of light.
“Stop!” One of them warned – but the voice was slightly distorted and Darkmark couldn’t tell who was talking. “You don’t know what you’re doing, Saviour!”
“Turn back, before it is too late…” A female voice for sure, but he didn’t know whose it was. “Don’t fall to the darkness…”
“It is already too late.” Darkmark answered, his own voice slightly warped, as though it were underwater. “I cannot return now. I have chosen my path… this is my destiny…”
He knew it was Eirsir this time because he could see his mouth move. “We can return what was taken from you – but not if you are evil, not if you are a Dark God!”
“No, you can’t.” Darkmark said quietly. “Nobody can do that. Not even the Light Gods can give life to the dead…”
“Find the altar!” Someone cried – a high voice. “Find it and you can take them back… but you can only find it if your heart is pure, if you fight your evil temptations…”
They faded away, dissipating into the blackness, and Darkmark found himself flying among the stars.
Travelling at many times the speed that Darkmark and his comrades had mustered, Tsi-Lau managed to stumble upon their tracks while it was still light, and followed them right up to the point where they mysteriously stopped. There were several other footprints around one spot, and she looked up to the sky, brushing snow from her eyelashes as more of it fell all around her. Something was moving up there, but before she could work out what it was, something hit the ground behind her, and in a reflex she spun around, drawing her swords.
However, she found only a single winged Yoshi standing with a spear in his hand, flexing his wings gently. “Another traveller.” He mused, sweeping snow from his reddish skin. “Are you looking for shelter? Our aerie is just above here, I can carry you up if you want…”
Skafria snapped awake as he sensed something, getting closer, something enticing… something… familiar…
Looking around, he saw his travelling companions slumped on the floor between various blankets, sleeping away, but they weren’t the source of what had alarmed him. He sniffed at the air, but caught nothing distinctive, and headed towards the brighter cave exit, turning through the grid-system of tunnels to try and find what was giving him this feeling…
“Well, there you are.”
Skafria stopped and turned around to see Tsi-Lau standing right behind him, and he clenched his fists, glaring at her. “So, you somehow survived that night… Why are you here, then? Come to kill Darkmark?”
“Yes, but… that’s only a secondary thing now.” She said, keeping her arms folded. “Would you really care that much if I killed him?”
“Yes, of course. He’s my friend. Granted, we’re a bit distant now, but…”
“But, he’s not like you… I am… you and me, we’re different from everyone else… wherever we go, we’ll be shunned… we won’t have anyone to turn to… and he doesn’t understand you, does he? Would he let you bite someone here if you needed to? Does he let you drink freely?”
“No…” Skafria replied honestly, looking off to one side. “But he has some justification…”
“No he doesn’t. You don’t stop him from eating the food he needs to stay alive, why should you let him do the same to you?”
“What are you trying to do?” Skafria asked, looking up to her.
“I’m trying to make you see sense. You don’t have to follow him… we can go together, living by our own laws, doing what we want…”
Skafria folded his arms. “I suppose you want me to help you kill Darkmark, then? Because I won’t-”
“Not at all.” She whispered, taking a step forward. “Just stay with me… two vampires are better than one…”
She shuffled forwards ever so slightly so that their noses touched, then put a hand on his chest and ran it across his skin, under his cloak, up and over his shoulders, down his back…
“What do you want?” he asked dryly.
“I want you to stay here, and not move. I’m going to go see Darkmark, then come back…”
“You can’t kill him. Can’t you see that? But he can easily banish you, and would you want that to happen?”
“No, but I always take precautions.” She whispered. “Illusions aren’t working on him any more, but I have other tricks that will… just stay here, don’t interfere, and whether I succeed or not we can go back, leave this forsaken place, and rule our own lives… nobody to tell us what to do, nobody to tell us who we can and cannot drink from, and nobody to care about except each other…”
“It’s a deal.” Skafria said quietly, after a moment’s thought.
Stretching and yawning as he awoke, Darkmark pondered silently over his dream before sitting up and stretching his wings, noting the absence of Skafria, and also that Yoshata had woken up, and was staying near the fire for warmth.
“You okay?” she asked, and he nodded back.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He murmured, getting his things together from the pile next to him. As he picked up his sword by its sheath it tipped over, and the blade slid partway out, giving off a near-blinding light when it did so, forcing Darkmark to try and put it back with his eyes closed.
Odd… he thought, it’s only done that once before… but then, that was because there were TWO vampires, not just one, so why…?
His thoughts were interrupted by a chunk of ice flying over his head, and Darkmark turned in the direction it came from. “You’re a very unpredictable person, you know that?”
“Look out!” Yoshata shouted, ignoring the remark, and Darkmark turned his head back in time to see Tsi-Lau’s body partly concealed by shadows, aiming a throwing star at him, and he rolled off to one side as she threw it. It missed him and hit the floor as he leapt to his feet, sword in hand, but the blinding light made it hard for him to see anything as he squinted his eyes.
“Why can’t you just stay dead?!” he roared, partly in rage, partly in surprise. “I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to kill you this time if I have to destroy this entire mountain!”
Sheathing the sword to free up his hands and allow himself to see, he lashed out at her with a cable of energy, latching onto her body before she was able to pull another item from her saddlebags. Quickly turning his body, he flung her against one of the far walls with such force that several chunks of rock fell when she hit it, but it didn’t seem to hurt her despite the fact she was still winded by the impact. The second cable missed her as she dodged to the side, but when Darkmark wrenched the cable back it pulled a rock out of the wall and it slammed into her, breaking into fragments as it struck her body, knocking her back without injury.
Lunging forwards, he put a charge of energy around his shoulder as he rammed into her, sending her flying backwards amidst purple and white sparks, dislodging more rocks as she hit the wall, and even more when he planted a flying kick against her chest in what would have been a fatal strike against a normal opponent. Seeing his chance, he pulled out the sword and swung it in the same movement, but she leapt upwards and grabbed hold of the rock ceiling, pulling her body up out of the path of the swipe, before scuttling across the ceiling like a spider, aided by her chi. Sheathing the sword again, Darkmark watched as a twin-beam of ice from Yoshata’s eyes hit her and knocked her down, but she broke free quickly, scattering fragments of frozen water over the stone floor. Turning to her new adversary by instinct, she was hit hard on the side of her head by a running punch from Darkmark, followed up by a kick to the stomach so forceful from the added power of his psionic energy that she went flying up into the ceiling, slamming into it hard before falling down again
As Darkmark attempted to strike with the sword once more, she brought her legs up behind her fast enough to make her roll forwards, leaping to her feet in time to take a blast of superheated fire-beams, and this time she gave a loud shriek as she stumbled backwards against a wall, getting up and running as fast as she could down the nearest passage, bearing a large but minor burn across her white chest.
The brown Yoshi sheathed the sword and panted, feeling tired from the sudden exertion and the masses of energy he had put into every attack. How had she survived the attack in Corvan, and where was Skafria? Darkmark didn’t care much for the answers to those, sitting down to recuperate. He was more interested in why her protection had failed her at that moment in time, but not before then…
Skafria was just as surprised to see her return with a patch of charred skin on her chest, wincing in pain. “It’s nothing, I can heal it with my chi… but I-I’m so weak…” she gasped, “I need food… I haven’t been drinking enough, and they drained my strength… and that last attack got partway through…”
She collapsed into his arms, and he tried to hold her up. “Okay, look, there are Yoshies all around us, surely we can find somebody here to feed from. All we need is to find someone alone…”
“Yes, please, I beg of you… I need food, I need blood, please…”
“Okay, okay.” Skafria replied, hauling her up to support her on his shoulders. Sighing as he started to walk, he looked back down the corridor towards the chamber Darkmark was in, saying a silent goodbye in his mind.
Darkmark, don’t take this the wrong way. I’ve not betrayed you… I’m just moving on. Our village has been avenged, and now it’s time for us to take our separate paths in life… perhaps I’ll meet you again, I don’t know…
And if you’re lucky… I’ll be able to stop her from trying to kill you again…
To be continued…