Chapter 85 = Flashes of the past
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.
“Sir, someone’s here to see you.”
“Make it quick. We attack in an hour…”
The leader of the second group of Dragon Slayers looked up from his sword, which he had been busy sharpening. In came a flustered and exhausted friend of his, who struggled to remain upright as he saluted.
“What are you doing here, Lieutenant? Where’s the rest of your unit?”
“Dead!” the red-haired Lieutenant shouted. “I’ve come to warn you. There’s something very strange within these hills.”
“Dead, you say? What could possibly have killed nineteen of the kingdom’s elite Dragon Slayers? Surely not the adverse weather, unless there was an avalanche.”
“Captain, you have to believe me, there were two of them-…”
“Two? You were defeated by merely two?”
“They were vampires! And none of them seemed to be bothered in the slightest by my men’s swords, only by mine. That silver coating must have some use against them.”
The Captain was unbelieving. “Lieutenant, spare me your pitiful tales. Why have you abandoned your group?”
The lieutenant drew his sword angrily, showing the Volzia encrusted almost all of the way along the blade. “Does this look like a fairy tale? I’m telling you that we were attacked by vampire Yoshies and-”
“You were beaten by Yoshies?!?” the Captain shouted back. “You’re brought shame to our glorious name!”
“For God’s sake, stop thinking about your-” The Lieutenant swore loudly at his superior for effect, “-reputation, and look at the big picture! Get things in perspective! Your reputation won’t matter if you’re dead in this godforsaken wasteland!”
“How dare you talk to a superior officer like that!” The Captain roared back. “I’ll have you reported!”
The Lieutenant had had enough, and sheathed his sword. “Fine, don’t say I didn’t warn you when you’re burning in hell. I’m going back to report your deaths.”
He walked out, furious at the idiocy of all those around him, hoping his supplies would last him until he could get out of the mountain range…
When Darkmark awoke, all was still. The silence was only broken by a low, occasional sound, quite like dripping water, as though it were a great distance away. Wondering what had happened, he opened his eyes and looked around.
He was nowhere, it seemed. All around him lay vast empty reaches of blackness, perpetuated only by faint golden glowing balls far away in the distance, all of which seemed distorted and waving. On one side of him were the seven Light Gods, with a small white flame burning in the air beside them, flickering occasionally into the form of a Yoshi, ghostly pale. On his other side were the seven Dark Gods, Klashkna at the forefront of the group, watching and waiting.
“What would you do, Darkmark?” Karshina asked him. “This is your choice now. Do you sacrifice your soul to gain the powers of darkness…?
Karlo-Shin scoffed. “Or would you perhaps follow the path of light to no ultimate avail?”
Sorsoy shook her head, her streamers a pale green. “No peace has ever been founded on the shedding of blood…”
One of the Dark Gods, the teal anthro female, spoke up. “The humans will found their kingdom on the blood of our people if we do not take action!”
Another one of the Dark Gods concurred, the dragon Yoshi. “They will stop at nothing to see to it that the evil within their hearts has all its wishes granted. And when it is, they shall turn upon each other, and our lands will be left barren and lifeless…”
Klashkna spoke next. “Eirsir, would you let your creation be wiped out when it is possible to change its fate?”
The green-skinned god shook his head. “Would that I could. We are powerless without my sword, a problem you caused, dark one…”
“The Dark Gods, on the other hand, do have power.” Karlo-Shin pointed out. “The origin of our powers is different from yours, different from that of your sword’s. Our leader drew some power from that, but the rest of us…”
“That power draws you into the darkness!” Vizorvy cried.
“And what do you know?” Another one of the Dark Gods roared, the fallen angel. “Only those who have experienced the light and the darkness are in any position to judge!”
“…and that would be me.” Darkmark said calmly, but loudly enough to be heard.
He stood up, facing sideways, and continually turned his gaze between the two groups. “I started as being on the side of light. And what happened to me? I lost everyone and everything. I had power I could not use. I couldn’t protect those I loved or cared for. Only with the so-called dark powers I was able to save myself and become a competent warrior. I was able to achieve my goals. I could not protect those I wanted to, but I could, and still can, protect the lives of my people that are not yet lost…”
He let his words hang in the air for a moment. “Perhaps if the side of light had any power, but they do not. They have all their hopes and dreams pinned upon a single soul, a legend, the tale of Sévar…”
The flame with the Light Gods suddenly burned more sporadically, and an echoing voice sounded forth. “That legend has a basis in truth. But only one of the light could make it come to pass. Would you condemn my existence for your own gain?”
“It isn’t for my own gain.” Darkmark told the flame, evidently the spirit of Sévar. “For all those who live, for all those whose lives have not yet been claimed. When I hesitate, lives are destroyed. That precious gift is taken by those who do not possess the intelligence to comprehend all their actions, all their reasoning. I have made my choice, and it is the only sensible one there is!”
Nobody spoke, and he grew angrier. “Well?” he shouted.
Both Eirsir and Klashkna stepped forwards, arms outstretched, staring each other in the eyes. “Do you think it’s time, then?” Klashkna sneered.
The foremost Yoshi god stared unblinking. “What choice do we have…?”
They both grabbed for Darkmark in the same instant, and he felt like he was being torn apart as his vision whited out, until all his feeling suddenly disappeared momentarily. An incredible power flowed into him from all directions, imbuing him with its might, and when he opened his eyes he found himself standing upon the altar within the psychic’s temple…
“This is for you…” Karlo-Shin murmured nonchalantly.
Holding up both his hands, he released the objects held within them. In his right was the original octagram Darkmark had carried, but in the other…
If the first was a Light Octagram, then this was the Dark one. Instead of gold, some black metal made up the main part of it, with gems in the same shape as the other, but of the colours of the Dark Gods. And, Darkmark noticed, the Light Octagram was now missing the red gem, and currently held a pale yellow gem instead.
“I never expected this, I’m sure.” Karlo-Shin muttered as Darkmark picked up the two octagrams. “You’re not just the saviour. You’re not a Dark God either. You’re the fabled one, in touch with both the light and the darkness. Wherever there is light, there is darkness to match, but with you, you are both, and yet you are neither. Perhaps you even have the power to bring both of us together, the light and the dark, but that remains to be seen…”
Before Darkmark could say anything, Miyala appeared before him, pushing the Dark Gods back. “Darkmark, o fabled one. All our hopes are with you know. You have a duty to perform, but let me show you something…”
She flipped the hourglass on her palm over so that the sand was flowing upwards. But it suddenly slowed down and stopped, freezing the Dark Gods in place, and she took hold of Darkmark just as it began to flow downwards…
* * *
The Dragon Slayers charged from all directions at once, converging in a circular formation onto the feral village, swift and deadly, leaving nothing living in their path. Their serrated swords hacked into the orange-tanned flesh of the ferals, who fought back in vain as they realised they were being attacked, and fell quickly and decisively to them, their blood staining the soil beneath them, their settlement in ruins…
A white feral, quite odd-looking with his tanned chest, was able to duck a slash and only take it lightly across his chest, rolling in pain out from the formation of soldiers, running for his life as blood seeped from the wound. Throwing a single psionic fireball at the lone soldier who pursued him, he ran on, long into the night, until he arrived at the city, and caught his breath, his lost blood draining his life.
Knowing what he had to do to preserve his bloodline, he captured a female Yoshi and pulled her into a back alley, engaging in a forced mating whilst trying to explain to her what was happening, collapsing afterwards and dying on the stone street, the only remnants of his kind being the egg growing within the female he had taken…
* * *
“Kill them. Kill every last one!”
The mercenaries rode out of the forest that had been concealing them and set to work, cutting down the Yoshies with their swords before they could run, throwing burning torches onto the thatched roofs, their horses tearing up the grass with their hooves as lifeless bodies fell to the ground…
The dark wizard rode forward on his own horse, chanting a powerful magic spell before directing it at one of the far houses, which was engulfed in magical fire and collapsed upon itself. Several of the homes were ablaze, and two of the mercenaries suddenly stopped, calling back to him.
“Foryo! Foryo!” they cried, pointing to the body of a brown Yoshi. He’d check it later…
Suddenly he spotted a flash of something out of the corner of his eye, and saw a pink Yoshi looking out of the window of one of the so far untouched houses. When she saw him look at her, she ducked out of view, but he blasted the house apart with a fireball and it collapsed onto her, sending the Yoshi known as Alziana into unconsciousness with wounds that would bring about her death…
* * *
There was a sudden crash, and Karva looked up from the game he had been playing with his two children. A loud call cut the air before there were more screams and shouts, and he quickly ran inside to alert his wife and grab his spear.
The two of them ran outside again, determined to protect their home, running over to their little ones and putting them on their saddles, lifting their wings to keep the flightless babies safe. The Dragon Slayers were being successful so far, but there were a large number of winged ones in flight, circling the settlement and dive-bombing the intruders. Three of them attacked Karva and his family, and he took on two while his wife went for the last, using their spears to keep the armoured humans at bay. Another winged one dive-bombed close to Karva, catching the attention of a soldier and drawing him away…
Karva’s wife screamed and fell back, the baby jumping from her saddle, as two more winged Yoshies came to their rescue. In his distraction Karva’s spear was broken by the serrated edge of the human’s blade, and when he dodged to one side the child he was protecting also fell off and landed near the other.
He tried to grab them, but a third Dragon Slayer appeared from between two houses, and beat him to it. Both of his little children’s cries were silenced at the edge of a blade, and Karva choked on his tears as his wife pulled him up into the air, where they circled the area as the Dragon Slayers continued to destroy their home, leaving naught but destruction where they went…
Having no other choice, all of the surviving winged Yoshies headed for the mountains, with those like Karva who had lost loved ones staying behind only for a little while to say farewell, and to curse those who had taken them away…
* * *
The red Yoshi returned to find his home in ruins, his entire village gone, nothing left but rubble and bodies. He ran to where his home had stood, finding the bodies of his parents, their eyes blank and lifeless. His friends, too, and even the special girl he had been working up the courage to talk to…
He looked up the sky angrily, clenching his fists. Why had this happened to him? Why had the gods allowed it? Didn’t they care? And why would the humans destroy his home? Nobody here had done anything wrong… but was it his fault? Had they been killed because he was researching the dark arts…?
The red Yoshi said his farewells and left, his path chosen. He would discover the secrets of the darkness and tap them, make them his own power, and use it, among other things, to ask the gods themselves why they had let such a horrid crime come to pass…
Taking the name of Klashkna, the red Yoshi left his home behind as the darkness crept over the remnants of what had been his home.
* * *
“Darkmark…” Miyala said softly as the last vision ended. “Both the gods of Light and Darkness want the same thing, but look for different means to do so… and the fabled one will bridge the gap between them, and make it happen. If you are that fabled one, you will prevent the next one of these massacres that is about to occur, by whatever means necessary…”
The next vision she showed him was of the near future, of what was about to happen. Once it was over, Darkmark was overcome with fury, and felt anger welling up inside of him as she flipped the hourglass back the right way round, and let the sand resume its fall, a few grains falling as time began to flow again, before she vanished…
To be continued…