Chapter 80 = Vampire and Vampiress
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.
“Come on, drink up…”
Skafria gently pushed Tsi-Lau towards the unconscious Yoshi, and she stumbled forwards, weak from hunger. They were in an out-of-the-way room within the aerie, and Skafria had easily snuck up on him, biting him before he had even realised that Skafria was a vampire, and he never would now…
“Don’t drink too much, though.” He murmured, as she inserted her fangs into the two puncture wounds Skafria had inflicted. “You don’t want to kill him…”
She paused to speak, taking her fangs out momentarily. “I’m an assassin, killing someone is nothing to me…”
“You’re not an assassin any more. You don’t have to take any more innocent lives…”
“I’ve always taken that path. It’s the only one I know. I’ve killed innocents already, if I am doomed, there is nothing I can do about it…”
“But you can.” Skafria whispered as she put her fangs into the wounds and began to suck blood from the punctured vein on the Yoshi’s neck. “For every innocent life that you could take, but don’t, you will gain favour with the gods, I assure you…”
“It doeshn’t matter.” She gurgled, slurping up the Yoshi’s blood ravenously. “I’m not going to die, sho I can… mmm… do whatever I want to… ohh, this ish good shtuff…”
“Just drink enough to get you healthy again.” Skafria urged once more. “We can find more food later, I’m sure, if we head back towards the inhabited lands.”
“We’re not.” She said calmly, taking another slurp. “We’re going to keep going into the mountains…”
“Why?” Skafria inquired, gently but firmly taking hold of her shoulders and pulling her away from the body after another few moments. “I thought we were…”
She shook her head. “Later. I have a little Guild story I want to pursue, and I need to find the anthros, and I might look into checking the Underworld entrance while I’m at it…”
Skafria sighed as he picked up the winged Yoshi and put him on the bed in the corner of the room, taking out his sword and successfully casting a magic healing spell on his second attempt. “If only you hadn’t attacked Darkmark, we could have all gone together.”
“And have him controlling us and our feeding habits?” She asked.
The blue vampire turned to face his companion. “You’ve barely been feeding as it is, from the looks of it. In this kind of environment, we need lots of Volzia to protect us from the cold, and whatever else lurks here…”
She stepped up to him and looked into his eyes. “I still have my reasons for not wanting to go with him. Besides, back when Shiala was alive, I always liked you over your friend Marcus…”
“I remember you helping me hobble through that mountain range on my broken leg, I guess I should return the favour…”
She chuckled. “We’ve got a lot in common. Both undead, brought back by the same vampire, freed from his control by the same person… whether or not you want to leave Darkmark, I assure you, you won’t regret your decision.”
With a smirk, he quipped, “I also remember joking with Shiala that if you ever offered me any, I’d take it without hesitation…”
Placing one hand on her back and the other on her fins, he pulled her forwards abruptly and kissed her, licking the last droplets of blood from her fangs, before connecting his lips to hers and giving her a single kiss, before breaking off and staring into her eyes again.
“Let’s go now, my little vampiress, before Darkmark comes and banishes us both…”
“Yes, let’s make haste…” she agreed. “Without him slowing us down we should be able to make good time, provided we can fly…”
“Oh, hey there.” Darkmark muttered, nearly bumping into Yoshata as he rounded a corner. “I’m preparing to go. The snow’s a little lighter now. Do you have all your stuff?”
She nodded, patting her saddlebags, and followed him back to the entrance. “I haven’t found Skafria anywhere, but my sword… well, it reacts to his presence, and it keeps getting dimmer. I think both he and that other silver assassin are running away. So long as they keep running, I’m fine with that…”
“I can’t say I miss him.” She whispered. “At least I won’t have to sleep with one eye open any more…”
Karva was waiting at the entrance to the aerie, and waved to them as they headed for the outdoors. “Are you leaving, o saviour…?”
Darkmark nodded, and the winged one followed suit, a little sadly. “You have given me the hope I need to keep going… please, give that to the rest of our people, I beg of you.”
The brown Yoshi nodded once, but said nothing, fanning out his wings from under his cloak majestically. “Which way should I go?”
“South-south-west.” Karva said, pointing in the general direction with his spear. “You will know when you have reached it. May Karshina give you her blessing, saviour…”
“And may the gods be with you.” Darkmark replied, casting a final glance back to the cold, malnourished Yoshi, before heading out into the snowfall with Yoshata close behind, diving through cloud layers to gain speed before levelling off and banking sharply, turning in the direction he wanted to go…
The fire cast a dim glow into the dark night, and the smoke rose up to the black sky in a straight line until the wind picked up and blew it off to one side. The rocky ledge they were taking shelter behind gave plenty of cover from the wind, not to the vampires, or Darkmark and Yoshata, but to a group of twenty soldiers in their distinct metallic red armour.
The leader of the band of humans was a redheaded knight, though his helmet didn’t allow his hair colour to show. His armour was bitterly cold, but mercifully it was padded on the inside, showing the foresight of its designer, who had made it especially for cold-weather usage. He and his men were resting for the night as per usual; four on guard, the rest sleeping. There were plenty of nocturnal creatures out in the mountains that would delight to find a late night snack, and currently it was his job to stop that from happening. The winter made their appearances next to none, but only last night had an errant snow-white wolf tried and failed to slip into their encampment. Its pelt would go back with them to be sold wherever a decent price was offered. The leader had enough sense about him not to let an opportunity like that go to waste.
But first they had an assignment to carry out. He was more used to hacking through dense forests and jungles, searching out feral encampments, but the mountains posed a different challenge that he felt eager to take on. His serrated, five-foot, two-handed sword was encrusted with the blood of those he had slain, and he never cleaned it for posterity, making it into a personal treasure of his. Emblazoned upon his right breastplate was something he was equally proud of; the crest that signified his position as one of the kingdom’s Dragon Slayers, a Yoshi egg with a sword through it, cracked and leaking albumen.
Originally created long ago as the Dragoons to fight off the lesser dragons in the old days, they had since become a small battalion of expert fighters whose sole military purpose was the mass persecution and execution of the minority Yoshi races – ferals, winged ones, the anthros that refused to submit to the kingdom, and the dragon Yoshies… though his father had gotten rid of them years ago. Though their results were often found, the soldiers themselves were good at covert operations, and had never yet been caught in the act, preventing a mass backlash of anger from the rest of the Yoshies.
He came from a long line of famous Dragon Slayers. His great-grandfather had killed the last psionics-using ferals, his grandfather most of the winged ones, his father the dragons, and on this mission, he would wipe out the anthros. The remaining winged ones had taken shelter somewhere among the mountaintops, and it would take a lot of trained men to reach them, a task that would have to wait, until there were enough Dragon Slayers, or they discovered a spell allowing people to fly…
Sometimes it was easier than others – he had his orders, after all, and it depended upon who he was killing. It was always his order to kill as many of the adults as possible, males preferably, and then move on to the children that were left. Various Yoshian communities had fallen to his band of soldiers, ruthless, merciless, and ever efficient, exploiting surprise and superior training to emerge victorious with lesser numbers.
They made it easier for him when they resisted, and harder when they fled… but none ever survived. Having just come back from a mission beyond Corvan, in the Yoshian lands – a daring assault, and amazingly successful – he had expected to rest and recuperate back in the capital’s many entertainment houses and brothels, but was surprised to find a dispatch awaiting him almost immediately, which he had accepted without question. Obedience had gotten him his rank, and he intended to keep it.
There was a loud snap to his right, and he looked over, hearing three matching sets of metallic noises as his comrades did the same in their bulky armour. They drew their swords as he collected a burning log from the fire, holding it up to cast light as they headed in the direction of the noise, past the tent the others were sleeping in.
“Sir, over there.” One of them whispered, and he took the lead. They watched and waited, patient, until he spotted a flash of movement and threw the log in that direction.
There was a shrill, female scream, and the light illuminated a pinkish body with humanlike proportions, but a Yoshi’s head – an anthro. Smirking, the three knights charged as the leader remained behind, waiting as they brought her back, firmly within their grasp.
“Well, well, well!” he said, “An anthro… with wings! They’re crossbreeding now!”
“Let me go, you brutes!” she shouted, struggling fruitlessly. She looked up and spotted the Dragon Slayer’s crest, and her eyes widened in horror.
“Shall we kill her, sir?” one of them asked.
“No.” The leader replied. “We’ll interrogate her first…”
She had light pink skin and reddish hair like his, except that while his was rough all the time, helmet or not, hers was sleekly combed to the sides of her head, partially covering one of her eyes. Aside from her head, hands, and tail, the rest of her was bundled up under clothing, with one of those black, white-stitched scarves around her neck, and that weird symbol on the bottom of each end of the scarf. Maybe he could sell her clothing too, when he got back…
“You’re obviously a crossbreed, and since I don’t think that there’d be an anthro at the top of a mountain, you must be from an anthro village. Tell us where it is.”
“I’d rather die!” she spat. “We’ll never side with you again – never!”
“Alright, you made me do this.” He said darkly.
Reaching forwards, he pulled off her clothing with help from the third soldier, as the other two stopped her from fighting back. She started to shiver as she was left standing in only her boots, holding her hands across her body to cover herself up from the lecherous eyes of the humans, who had let her go, knowing she wouldn’t run only to freeze but a few yards away.
“Tell us.” He whispered menacingly, “Or we’ll keep your clothes, and you’ll freeze to death in this godforsaken wasteland.
“I’m n-not a-afraid of y-you.” She whispered. “Y-you… m-murderer…”
“I am many things, but a murderer is not one of them.” He replied, his smirk growing wider as she collapsed in the near-zero temperatures. “I am merely water, purifying the land…”
“A-And when y-you’re done with us, y-you’ll move o-on to th-the rest of the Y-Yoshies…”
“Perhaps.” He said slyly. “Perhaps. Would you rather freeze, or die by the sword?”
He drew his sword and held it against her body, ever so carefully dragging the tip over her white chest, using the sharp, serrated edge to push her arm away when she tried to stop him, bringing the edges up beneath her nose. “Ah, such a beautiful body, in a way… it would be such a shame to let it go to waste…”
He snickered once, and the other soldiers followed suit, breaking into a loud, malicious laugh that was silenced when one of them shouted and vanished from the light of the fire. He screamed from just outside the range of the light, and there was a loud hiss following a peak to his screaming, before he went silent.
As one, the remaining soldiers lowered their visors and held their swords ready, pushing the Yoshi into the tent for the time being, and standing in a triangle with their backs to one another, so that they would not be taken by surprise. There was a snap as a twig broke, and they turned to look, allowing the soldier to the leader’s right to also be dragged away in a different direction, screaming, though among the incoherent babble he managed a shout of “Demons! It’s a va-”, then when silent.
“Get the others.” He hissed to the remaining soldier. Within moments the others were filing out of the tent as the leader stayed alert, looking for any signs of movement. Whatever was attacking him and had taken two of his men would not live to see the sun rise…
“Over there!” one cried, and half of them broke away and rushed the movement, as the remainder kept on watch. There was a loud metallic sound, and sparks flew, but the leader knew his men were not so incompetent to be fighting each other…
“Yoshi!” one of the men with him shouted, and suddenly he felt a large heavy object slam into him, knocking him to the side. He still had a grip on his sword, and swung it with all his might, biting into flesh and sending blood splashing onto his helmet – a personal accomplishment, in his eyes. Whatever he had hit gave a shriek of fury, and the soldiers attacking the other assailant were all thrown back at the same time, and the two instigators came into the light.
The one he had just hit was dark blue, his favourite colour to kill, and the other was white. The blue one had a diagonal gash along his chest from the serrated silver blade he carried, but the white one was unharmed, and was licking two large fangs as she moved in front of her friend as a shield. Struggling to get up, he watched as his men attacked and were beaten back, with one wielding a pair of swords and the other a single sword made from a material he couldn’t identify. Whatever substance was oozing from the blue Yoshi was causing him grievous pain, but the leader was stuck in his heavy armour and couldn’t get up off the floor, watching helplessly as his men were defeated.
“You okay?” the white one asked, a strange white energy pulsating around her hands – presumably what she had defeated his heavily armoured soldiers with. They weren’t looking at him…
“That kayatin got me. Must’ve been the leader, with a silver sword like that…”
“I can heal it. Let’s make sure they’re all dead before we start eating…”
God’s name… they are vampires. The human thought. But I can’t take on two… though I don’t want to lose to a Yoshi. Although… one’s wounded, and I can hurt them…
They turned their heads simultaneously to look at one of the soldiers, who had groaned, and the leader seized his opportunity, rolling onto his front before jamming his sword into the ground, using it to get himself onto his feet, and attack before they knew what was happening. The point bit into the blue one’s flesh, and he fell back with the sword embedded in him, pulling it from the human’s hands. The white Yoshi immediately attacked him and struck out at him with a burst of energy, but it miraculously missed him and he ran into the darkness, heading for a cave he could wait in until they had gone. He’d be back, and he wouldn’t die… not tonight…
To be continued…