Chapter 89 = Roots of a legend
Disclaimer: 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.
Late in the day; 26th of Eira, CD 2159; Anthro’s Village
Tsi-Lau braced herself as Darkmark exchanged words – evidently unfriendly ones – with Skafria, then strode towards her and stopped a good distance away. He held up the sword and braced himself, adopting a position she had never seen him take up before – and one that he seemed surprised to use as well, given that he looked himself over for a few moments before returning his attention to her.
So, he thought, it looks like Karlo-Shin has also passed his knowledge of swordplay on to me… well, let’s see if Tsi-Lau is finally ready to take a hint.
As he began to step forwards he saw several Anthros looking at the pair out of their windows curiously. It wasn’t probably too exciting in a village on the fine line between survival and extinction in the middle of nowhere, so a welcome diversion like this would most likely draw a crowd, which would probably have been bigger if it wasn’t snowing lightly.
Tsi-Lau made the first move, suddenly lunging forwards and striking hard against Darkmark’s readied sword, drawing back out of the way of a swift counterattack, which despite the broad arc didn’t take Darkmark long to recover from. He made a swift slash that both blocked her next attack and sent her onto the defensive, as he spun the sword loosely in his hand to use the momentum rather than negate it, swinging back at her unprepared defences. She barely parried this return strike and then leapt away, taken aback by how much her adversary’s swordsmanship had suddenly increased.
“That’s it?” Darkmark goaded, and she came at him not in fury but in sheer determination, faking twice before making a twin slash that Darkmark sidestepped, using the forward momentum to take her into a roll out of the path of Darkmark’s vertical slash, flipping out of the roll onto her hands and then onto her feet, not turning her back on Darkmark the whole while, slashing at him and catching a stab he made in the process. She then brought her swords together to form an X and caught a slice Darkmark made, thrusting his blade back upon himself, but he spun around gracefully and would have taken her head from her shoulders had she not bent backwards, planting her swords in the ground for support as she brought her legs up, aiming a twin kick at Darkmark as his swing missed, but he was slightly beyond her reach and she went into a full backflip, taking her swords from the ground.
Undeterred, she came back at him in a flurry of strikes, all of which Darkmark kept away by stepping back with Skafria’s sword held in front of him, before he leapt back, then forwards again, slashing at her hard and nearly knocking a sword from her hands. She barely kept her grip and the handle danced at her fingertips, but she still had it when she jumped away to avoid a follow-up attack…
Many images of Karshina show her with a pair of wooden dice. As the goddess of luck and fate, such an image is fitting, but it is not known to mortals whether or not she actually rolls them to determine the outcome of major events centred around an element of luck. There are only eight beings who know for sure, and those eight also only knew whether or not on this particular occasion, where two evenly matched opponents fought, equally determined to outdo the other, with no advantage, where only luck could determine the outcome, if she rolled her dice or not, and if she did, what she rolled…
Tsi-Lau swiftly parried another attack and swung again for Darkmark, missing him by less than an inch as he twisted his body to the side, before stepping back momentarily. When he advanced again, she leapt into the air and split her legs wide, moving her hands to send her swords around beneath them and up into the air, backflipping up and kicking Darkmark in the face. Then she grabbed her swords as they began to fall back down, deftly send the twin swords into a full circle, and stabbed forwards at her stunned opponent…
But at the last possible moment he brought his wings forward in front of him and flung them apart again, thrusting her swords to the sides, and he gave her a solid kick, knocking her onto her back. He leapt forwards and sliced downwards with deadly force, Skafria’s diamond-edged sword about to connect with her-
“Khórallará!” Darkmark swore loudly as Tsi-Lau’s hastily raised blade stabbed into him. It was low and off to one side, but it still hurt him, unlike Skafria’s blade, which bounced off of her without any damage.
He staggered back and clutched at the wound, healing it after spending a few moments regaining his equilibrium, and Tsi-Lau stood up uneasily.
“Well, what do you know.” Skafria said in an annoying cheerful voice. “You both would’ve killed each other, by the look of it.
“But that wasn’t a fatal wound-” Darkmark began.
Tsi-Lau cut him off. “He didn’t have his sword-”
“I would’ve had that sword-”
“It doesn’t matter, I would have-”
“Enough!” Skafria shouted, and stepped between them. They remained silent, before Darkmark spread his wings and flexed them gently.
“Well then, if that’s all, I’ll be off.” He said curtly, and ran in the other direction, taking flight without waiting for a reply.
Could’ve been worse. Skafria thought. At least they both think they won, can’t really argue with that for any good reason…
After taking off, Darkmark didn’t really know where he was going, and simply flew onwards to see where he would end up, gliding along beneath the clouds, surveying the landscape beneath him. Something drew him towards the recently erupted volcano, but although it had mostly settled down it was still extremely hot and he steered away abruptly, coming to land a good distance away near a wooden cottage he had seen from above.
He was surprised to find it inhabited, even more so to discover its only occupant to be an elderly pink-ish Yoshi, relatively dark in colour and a bit slow, but still fairly active despite her evident age. She seemed surprised to find a visitor, but even moreso when Darkmark’s red eyes caught hers and seemed to pierce into her like a fine needle.
“I… come in.” she said, intimidated despite Darkmark saying nothing. He took up the offer of relative warmth and kicked the snow from his boots, onto the mat just inside, closing the door behind him.
It was only a small cabin, with a partition of sorts separating the main living area from the small bedroom. There was something of a kitchen and a fireplace too, with plenty of wood to burn beside it, and it appeared that the Yoshi had been sat in the rocking chair in front of the fire, keeping herself busy stitching a very ornate pattern that Darkmark couldn’t make out for the fabric covering it.
“I… I rarely have visitors up here. I haven’t had one since…” she trailed off again, as she turned her back to him while she sorted out her stitching.
Darkmark said nothing, still looking around the room, and she straightened up, turning to look at him. “I suppose it comes to us all some day…”
“I’m not here to kill you.” Darkmark replied immediately, seeing through her musings. “Despite my appearance, I…”
He let his words hang as he searched his mind for something to help, and eventually wondered if he might be able to cast an illusion as he had to originally create the eyebrows still hovering over his head. He moved his hand in front of his face and, after a few tries, something stirred within his mind, doubtlessly another lesson of Karlo-Shin’s passed on, and he saw the red glow upon his hand vanish.
“I don’t have much to offer.” She murmured, apparently unperturbed. “I can’t really spare any food…”
“It’s okay.” Darkmark replied, reaching for his saddlebags and sorting through them. He didn’t have many rations left, perhaps enough for two, maybe three days if he stretched it, which wasn’t a good idea. He sorely missed the fruits he’d been able to get at the traveller’s inn, and wondered if they had any more…
Absently, but calmly, she sat in her chair and returned to her stitching. “I guess you flew here… it’s too tough to get anywhere in the winter, that’s for sure. I have to have everything here ahead of time if I’m going to live it out…”
Darkmark shook his head. “What are you doing here? This place is far away from any kind of civilisation…”
“I’ve been here a long time.” She said slowly. “At least my last hundred years have been here, maybe more. I try to enjoy life while I can, and attempt to keep myself amused as time passes me by, but I don’t want to leave here, just in case…”
She seemed to have started to ramble, partly absorbed with the needle and the backing upon which she was working. “It was a long time ago, before your time, certainly… I remember that night, it was a winter’s night, cloudless, the starry sky… and the aurora, they hung in the air like curtains of light, shining and shimmering, it was a beautiful sight…
“And then out of nowhere, he just appeared, this big green Yoshi, didn’t have a thing on him, no boots, no saddle, save for just a fancy sword. I hadn’t a clue how he got here, but there he was, and snuck up on me by accident. I was young back then, at the very least, but he seemed old, yet didn’t look it. And orange fins, too, a healthy colour, the last thing I’d expect to see on someone in the middle of a frozen wildland…
“I didn’t even get many visitors back then, so it was a surprise to me still, and a pleasant one. I invited him in, set up a fire – I still cut my own wood in the summer, it’s easy to use magic – and sat him down to talk. Well, it seemed that he wanted to know something… I can’t quite remember what, but for some reason, he thought I might be able to help him, and how I didn’t quite understand…”
She went silent, pausing in her stitching. “He was quite the gentleman, but he suddenly started to push for something, and gave this most fantastical tale I didn’t believe at the time… and then he showed me, this wondrous little feat he did, he made something appear out of the air, just like that. An entire plate of food, no less, and good stuff too, I never did figure out how he did it. But after that I was awed by him, and before the night was over, we…”
She resumed her work and smiled, pausing again to look up at Darkmark. “Well, let’s just say that my bed had an extra occupant that night. I’m sure a young man like yourself knows what I mean… I was young, foolish, and should have expected it when I awoke in the morning with a bulging lower body and pains throughout. But the man, he was still there, yet I didn’t know his name, and he seemed to be happy. He comforted me, somehow he made it almost painless, and then there was this beautiful little thing… a Yoshi egg, golden spots, shining in the light… but he offered to take it and wouldn’t hear a word against it, and tried to leave as soon as he could. But before he went, he gave me some names…”
She went quiet again, but Darkmark, intrigued, made an inquisitive noise. “Oh yes, yes, sorry… yes, he said that his name was Eirsir, and he was going to call the child Sévar, or something like that. I never did find out what became of him, because I have waited here in this house forever since, waiting for that Yoshi claiming to be the God of Creation to return to me, though I don’t doubt that it was really him…”
She tipped the stitching forwards and turned it over to show Darkmark the picture. A little angular, but still fine quality, the picture showed a small pale golden Yoshi with a tall, serious-looking but smiling green Yoshi behind him, holding a golden sword embedded with coloured gemstones.
Darkmark gently took hold of it and looked closer, wondering to himself why the foremost Yoshian god had come to the surface of the planet to find a normal female Yoshi with which to conceive he who would later become a saviour, failing to find the answers, nor anything close…
Perhaps I shall ask him. Darkmark thought, handing the almost-finished stitching back, and reaching for his saddlebags.
To be continued…