Chapter 91 = Hither and Thither
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.
27th of Eira, CD 2159; Winged Yoshies’ Aerie
Karva smiled as he held Márynn close to him, his arms around her. They were both looking to the side at an egg adorned with reddish-orange spots, wrapped loosely in blankets to keep it warm.
“Have you thought of a name yet?” Márynn asked weakly. She was still tired and sore from laying it that morning, but insisted on staying awake to keep an eye on it.
“Actually, I have…” Karva murmured to her. “If it’s a male, I want to call it Marcus.”
She looked over to him. “That’s a nice name. Any particular reason?”
Karva shook his head. I saw it engraved on the Saviour’s flail when he was asleep…
“No reason. I think it’s a nice name, too.”
Were it not for him, none of this would have come to pass…
“What if it’s a girl?”
“I’m not sure. Do you have any ideas?”
She gently stroked the spotted eggshell. “Maybe a flower, to go with Butterfly?”
Karva chuckled. “We’ll see, we’ll see…”
Somewhere in the Kaftata Mountains
Darkmark woke slowly, a soft touch upon his shoulder. “Mmmph… Alzi… give me a little longer…”
The hand shook him again, and he slowly opened his eyes. He had been dreaming such sweet, lost dreams… memories of the Shoreside village, times spent with Alziana, tender moments with his first lost love…
He had fallen asleep in one of the chairs in front of the fireplace, his wings folded neatly behind him and pressed up against the backing. It was a padded chair and comfortable, but had grown cold after the fire had burned out. The elderly Yoshi was waking him up as gently as she could, holding something in her hand…
Darkmark noticed it was a small wand, and he watched as, satisfied he was awake, she went to the kitchen and used it to aid her, bringing something from the top of the stove, a steaming bowl of some kind of soup. Darkmark declined, not wanting to take anything from the Yoshi’s winter food stores, but she insisted and pressed him until he finally accepted the broth.
It was some kind of vegetable soup, not too filling but probably filled with nutrition for what it utterly lacked in taste and consistency. When they both finished in silence, she took the bowl back from him, walking off as he stared into the newly-lit fire absently.
The dancing flames absorbed his interest, the flicker and crackle of burning wood and the comforting heat radiated from it, the smell of the wood fire, it all seemed to fill his consciousness and distract him from the world…
“I do that too.” The Yoshi said, startling Darkmark. “Glad to see you younger ones are, as well. And I thought the Dragon Yoshies were gone, but it’s good that they’re not…”
Darkmark didn’t correct her on the matter, and she sighed. “Are you leaving soon? It was nice having a visitor, someone to talk to, but I can’t have it forever…”
“Why are you out here?” Darkmark asked. “And how do you survive?”
“My magic helps me out.” She replied, holding up the wand. “I can easily gather food and firewood with it. As for the why… I enjoy the scenery. It’s quite peaceful out here. I used to live with my husband, but he died long, long ago… the time seems to pass slowly as it comes, but when I look back, it’s like only yesterday he was alive…”
She gave another sigh. “I wonder what became of Sévar. I just hope he grew up happy, that’s all…”
“I’m sure he did.” Darkmark said quietly, taking his cloak and wrapping it back about his shoulders. “I… I’m going. Best of luck to you.”
She smiled. “May Karshina’s blessings be with you…”
“Let me show you a little trick.” Tsi-Lau said quietly, taking Skafria’s wrist with her left hand. She muttered under her breath, channeling ether from the air around her into chi, flowing throughout her body, then into a cloud of energy around the pair of them, and finally discharging it…
Skafria blinked. They had traveled a good distance, and must have gone to about halfway out of the mountains. “What was that?”
“Long-range teleport.” She replied, batting snow from her eyelashes as it landed. “The short-range one only takes us a few feet, but takes virtually no time to cast, so is handy for getting out of tight corners. We’ll need to wait in between each teleport, or the residual charge of chi will build up enough to cause us some serious problems.”
“Such as? We’re vampires now, we don’t need to worry.”
“True.” Tsi-Lau mused. “Normally it would build up and discharge randomly, but none of the forms of energy it might take has a chance of hurting us now…”
She began the process again, and Skafria watched intently. He was not as good as Darkmark was at copying such a procedure, but even then he would need to know how to use chi, or know the right magic incantation. Landscapes flashed by with repeated movement, crossing great bounds of land in instants. Within an hour they were back within the Letekka Plains, and within another, the city of Corvan, soon after midnight.
The threatened discharge only happened twice on their journey, once near the border of the Grasslands and the Plains where a large explosion blew the two vampires apart, but they were able to find each other after the dust settled. Closer to the city of Corvan they ended up in a forest, and the energy spontaneously became a firestorm, starting what would have been a huge forest fire had Tsi-Lau not known the right way to bring about a rainstorm above them. Skafria felt rather useless, not knowing any magic to help, and vowed to get a book of spells once they arrived at their destination.
Tsi-Lau had other ideas, dragging him around to Club Veils, then around the back of it to the hidden entrance in the wall, passing through to a snappy salute by the guard on duty. He didn’t ask about Skafria’s presence, nor where Tsi-Lau had been.
As soon as she entered the main area, several other assassins greeted her, pushing Skafria off to one side as she fielded their questions about where she’d been, and what had happened to Yasei-Yeiko. Skafria was happy to hear her recount the detail and solely blame Darkmark for her sensei’s death, and eventually she was able to break free and lead Skafria off through a guarded door and down a long corridor, eventually arriving at another guarded door through which they easily passed with Tsi-Lau’s rank.
“Ah, hello again.” A voice said as they entered. Skafria saw a dark greenish Yoshi standing in the center of the room, holding something by his side. The light was poor, but he could still make out the general layout of the room; it was quite large, and two opposite walls were lined with shelves of weapons, with smaller, wheeled shelves in front of them, leaving a large empty space in the center of the room.
“A little light, please?” Tsi-Lau asked, and the Yoshi nodded, waving his hand vaguely upwards, lighting the torches held in the brackets around the room. Skafria could see what he was holding in his other hand, but didn’t have a clue what it was. It seemed to just be a long metal tube with mechanical-looking parts clustered at one end.
Looking around the armory, something struck him as odd; various familiar weapons were on the shelves that he had seen the University students using; the u-curved swords, a pair of Chakrata, a Quadra spear, and other strange weapons along with those that he hadn’t seen before.
Almost on cue, Tsi-Lau noticed his interest and began to explain. “This is the armory, Skafria, although it’s more of a reference armory. Individual weapons are kept here for new students to pick and choose from, and when they find one they like, we make them another for them.”
“The University weapons? Yes, I wondered that the first time I saw them. Ta-… my sensei told me what I’m about to tell you: all of the weapons those University students make end up here through our own little methods. I think Maltí can explain it better than me, anyway.”
The Yoshi nodded, his attention focused more on the object he was holding. “It’s rather obvious why we do it. I’m the teacher of the weaponsmithing class. We have agents planted at that University to ensure that whenever the post opens up, we get the next armorer in there. University students are incredibly bright, and while some of them can’t really take the pressure of the course, others have amazing brainwaves that we can either take completely or alter to our needs. It’s why we ask them to submit not only a finished weapon, but the plans and instructions for their creation, as well. It keeps us more up-to-date than any other similar organization.”
“And if there’s one thing an assassin hates,” Tsi-Lau commented, “It’s being bettered by a mere mercenary.”
Maltí chuckled. “Yes, yes… and of course, every now and again, we get a stroke of sheer and utter genius coming our way. Like this.” He held up the item in his hands for them to look at. “It’s amazing. It fires a crossbow bolt using explosives. Sounds crazy, but it really works. It’s a special, low-power explosive made by combining a lot of various substances… it comes out as this black powder, which you put here.” He tapped somewhere near the back of the device. “I’ve already put some in. Now, this little hammer here is pulled back at the moment. When I pull this trigger underneath it like you would a normal crossbow, it releases this hammer, which is attached to a spring that makes it snap forwards and strike this piece of flint here.” Again, he tapped the device to demonstrate. “This causes sparks to be struck, which ignites the powder charge and detonates it. Once the hammer is up, the back of this tube here is pretty much sealed, so the explosion is contained within it. You put a crossbow bolt in the other end of the tube like so… just slide it in… and then the explosion propels it out of the tube at high speed.”
“How high?” Skafria asked.
“Too fast for my liking.” The armorer said, smirking. “It takes a while to reload like a normal crossbow – you have to pull the hammer back, put more powder in, put a new crossbow bolt in, then aim – but it is incredibly powerful. Let me show you…”
He walked over to where they were and aimed at the far wall, closing one eye and looking down the tube to aim, then pulled the trigger. The hammer came up and set off a spark, which resulted in a flash of light and a loud bang as the powder charge detonated. Skafria didn’t even see the bolt travel through the air; one moment the armorer was holding the weapon, the next there was acrid smoke seeping from both ends and the bolt was firmly embedded in the far wall well over half its length.
“That’s amazing.” Skafria whispered, staring at the bolt as the Yoshi wafted away the smoke with his hand. “But why did you show me this?”
“The bolt gun? I didn’t know we’d be getting a demonstration.” Tsi-Lau replied. “You’re here because I want to keep you with me for now, and I have something for Maltí to play with.”
The armorer’s eyes lit up as he put the bolt gun on one of the shelves. “You do? Oh, you know how much I love new toys. What is it?”
“You’ll love it.” Tsi-Lau said with a smirk, taking hold of her chi-blades and passing them over.
“Oh my… these are… the old tenth’s… she never let me have a look at them… this is… this is incredible!”
“It gets better.” She continued, handing him her sensei’s handwritten notes. He took them with glee and ran off happily into another room with them, shouting absent thanks as he did so.
“He’s innocent enough.” Tsi-Lau informed Skafria. “A real master of his craft. He loves what he does, and he’s never killed anyone. But apparently they had trouble finding a good candidate once for the teaching job, so they got the winning applicant and offered him this job. He turned it down and ‘mysteriously’ vanished, so Maltí got the job and he did accept the guild’s offer… a wise move on his part.”
She turned to face Skafria. “Come with me. Let’s go find a place to get some rest, hmm? Tomorrow’s a festival day… and even we assassins need days off.”
Skafria smiled at her. “You’re a natural at this.”
“I know.” She replied. “You have to be or you get killed.”
Checking to make sure they were alone, he put a hand on her shoulder. “Is the place you have in mind private?”
“Very.” She said, smiling slightly. “Nobody will dare disturb us unless they have a death wish…”
To be continued…