Chapter 84 = Embrace the darkness
Disclaimer: Although 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.
It was an incredible sight. The floor was finely polished marble, reflecting images of everything upon it, and marble support columns lined the outside of the main room they were in, with bright torches casting their light about the room, burning without smoke. Statues of all eight of the Octothesian gods circled the room, and in the centre of it all a single altar stood alone, with a ghostly image of Karlo-Shin hovering above it…
Darkmark ran straight for the altar, but Karlo-Shin coughed as he arrived. “I know what you’re thinking… this isn’t the marble altar.” He said solemnly. “But no matter. It’s time for you to come to us… give me the jewel.”
Hesitantly, Darkmark put the jewel into Karlo-Shin’s ethereal hands, but in a bright flash he suddenly became solid, with a wavy, pale azure cord of some kind trailing from his body to the surface of the altar, which had become a bright sapphire colour, and was swirling with many shades of blue, almost hypnotising Darkmark as he stared at it. Reaching out, he tried to touch it and found that his hand passed straight through it, and throwing caution to the wind, he vaulted over the edge and jumped in, with Karlo-Shin following him.
He felt himself falling as swirls of blue cascaded all around him, before there was a bright flash and found himself standing within the church of death he had seen before, surrounded by all the Dark Gods but Klashkna, who was nowhere to be seen.
“Welcome, Darkmark.” Karlo-Shin said, stepping out from behind him. “Look familiar?”
“Very.” Darkmark replied. The stench of blood was no less intrusive than it was when he wasn’t there in person…
The others whom he did not know merely nodded at him in acknowledgement, saying nothing as they continued to stare at him with their blazing red eyes. They stood motionless, watching intently, unblinking, and unnerving him to no end.
“Don’t worry about them.” Karlo-Shin muttered. “They won’t speak to you until you have proven yourself, and we will get to that in just a moment. But first you need to know the full extent of your psionic powers, so that you will be able to prove yourself when the time comes…”
He stepped forwards suddenly, but instead of bumping into Darkmark, he simply passed straight through him. As he did, Darkmark felt a sudden flow of energy into him, starting with just a trickle and building into a great rush, filling every part of his body with a great power. He then felt some of the energy flowing away from him, and back again, forwards and backwards, faster and faster as Karlo-Shin kept moving at a slow pace…
Darkmark’s sight suddenly whited out, and he found himself seeing a bright white vision of somewhere…
“Marcus, the time of your test has come. To prove yourself, you must defeat your inner evil…”
Marcus nodded solemnly, holding the silver sword by his side as it shone faintly. Shiala gently put a hand on his back and wished him luck in her soft voice as the brown Yoshi stepped forwards, into the portal that the image of Laryshka had just opened for him…
Snapping back to his senses, Darkmark suddenly fell forwards as Karlo-Shin finally passed through him, and their bodies disconnected. He felt different, he felt something powerful within him, something that perhaps the black feral had put there during whatever it was he had just done…
“And here comes your test.” Karlo-Shin murmured. Darkmark stood up shakily and gazed in the direction he was pointing, towards a bluish portal in the middle of the large empty space of the church of death. “Can you feel the knowledge I have just imparted upon you? It is all of my life’s work, all that I have discovered about the use of my psionics, and now it is your knowledge, too. Use it well… Darkmark, the time of your test has come. To prove yourself, you must defeat your inner good… the Marcus you could have been. I suppose you could call him Lightmark.” Karlo-Shin chuckled at his own little joke, before clearing his throat and continuing when Darkmark didn’t follow suit. “In his life, Manny died but Shiala lived, and now he follows the light… you must defeat him, for us to accept you.”
From out of the portal stepped Darkmark… except that Darkmark was already there, watching it happen. It was him as he had been in the short interim between when he had had his wings fused to his back, but before Foryo had hit him with the final degenerative curse that had changed his appearance so. The Marcus he was watching had bright red membranes on his wings, and the brilliant eyes of Karshina that Darkmark now lacked, carrying a duplicate of the silver sword that Darkmark slowly withdrew from its sheath as he strode forwards to meet his alternate self. The only thing absent was the two black eyebrows that Darkmark had put above his head, but since they were borne from a conversation with Skafria, it was only natural to assume that that was the reason Marcus didn’t have them.
Sparing no words, Marcus rushed for Darkmark with his sword held high, and Darkmark was able to easily catch the swing on his blade, swinging it around and making a counter-slash. Marcus easily dodged the attack and came forward again, stabbing at his eviller self, but he held his blade up and deflected the strike off of the flat of the sword. Taking the offensive, Darkmark leapt forwards and slashed as he went, using the momentum he had gained to roll when he hit the ground, dodging the counter-slash the nimble Marcus has made.
Both versions of the brown Yoshi threw psionic spells at each other; a bolt of energy from Darkmark, and a flat disc of it from Marcus. Neither was hurt and both simply absorbed the charge of energy, turning back to their weapons and slashing at each other, their blades meeting and forming a cross, which they held as they glowered, staring hatefully into each others’ eyes.
“For my family and my people, I will defeat you.” Marcus hissed.
“I have no family.” Darkmark replied. “I do this only for the Yoshies.”
Both broke away, and Marcus made the next strike, but Darkmark turned to his side and deflected the attack, sweeping around in a full circle and bringing the shining blade past Marcus’s head as he ducked. Darkmark quickly jumped over the low slash that Marcus made, before bringing his blade down to intercept the upwards strike Marcus was about to make. Seizing an opportunity, Darkmark stamped his foot down on the sword to pin it to the ground, but Marcus leapt to his feet and backflipped, kicking Darkmark in the chest as he did so, picking up his sword with a psionic cable as his adversary stumbled back, recovering from the attack.
When Marcus ran for him again, Darkmark tried to sidestep quickly, but instead he suddenly shifted at lightning pace about six feet to his right, feeling the flow of energy through him as he inadvertently used his psionics. Feeling triumphant as Marcus’s attack missed, Darkmark drew a charge of energy to himself and, trusting to whatever he might do with it, intentionally or not, charged forwards.
In a bounding slash, as soon as Darkmark’s feet left the floor he again spontaneously jumped forwards about three feet, leaving a faint mirror image in the space where he had been, which faded out after a moment. His slash traced a rainbow arc through the air, and struck the surprised Marcus’s sword with such force that a loud metallic note rang through the air, sending Marcus flying backwards into the nearest wall. Though stunned, he was able to roll aside to dodge Darkmark’s next attack, and slashed upwards in self-defence, landing gracefully on his feet. Quick as a flash, Darkmark’s blade was down in front of him defensively, and he caught the strike before swinging the blade around to counterattack, jumping instantaneously out of the way again, able to watch another of Marcus’s attacks slice harmlessly through the fading mirror image.
Running quickly in a circle and executing the teleport as he did so, he ran rings around Marcus, who held up his blade while attempting to follow Darkmark as he ran around, but when Darkmark tried to leap forwards and slash Marcus, his good self put his arms out to his sides and brought up a barrier of energy that expanded around him, bouncing Darkmark away, before it faded and dissipated. Trying to regain the upper hand, Marcus threw his sword at Darkmark, controlling it like a puppeteer and making it keep thrusting forwards as its target continued to knock it away. Finally Darkmark ran away and leapt over Marcus, who deftly caught the sword as it came flying towards him, swinging around just in time to catch what could have been the final attack.
Jumping back and then forwards again, teleporting both times, Darkmark made a powerful slash that knocked Marcus’s sword from his grip, but with his other hand he grabbed hold of Darkmark’s sword, and wrenched it from his grasp, activating the ownership enchantment upon it and dropping it to the floor as its weight suddenly increased. In fury Darkmark called upon another hitherto unused power, and the air buzzed around Marcus as it became static with energy, allowing Darkmark to throw his doppelganger across the room and into the wall, knocking bits of plaster loose from it. Repeating the manoeuvre with more ease now that he had done it once, he picked him up and slammed him against the floor repeatedly until he let out a loud, despairing groan.
“This is the difference between you and me.” Darkmark growled, stepping up to Marcus. “This is the parallel between Darkness and Light. I see my chosen path and what it has come to, right here, and I see my decisions were the right ones. And as long as you, or me, or whoever you are… as long as you follow the path of light, you will never become as strong as I am.”
He hauled Marcus up off the floor by the flesh on his chest and threw him back through the portal he had entered through, which collapsed shortly afterwards, and turned back to where the others had stood, watching. Karlo-Shin came forward to greet him, suddenly grabbing him around the wrist and hauling him back up to the altar, heaving the startled brown Yoshi up on top of it and pinning him down.
“Don’t worry…” Karlo-Shin told him, as he took the Octagram from Darkmark. “When you wake up, you will be one of us, free to wreak your vengeance upon the world…”
Something flowed up from the altar to Darkmark’s body, and he blacked out…
To be continued…