Chapter 94 = Priorities
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.
29th of Eira, CD 2156; Traveller’s Inn near the
In a similar predicament to Tsi-Lau, many miles away, Darkmark sat on the side of the bed, stretching his arms and wings a little. What do I do now? He asked himself, expecting no answers. He sifted through what he could remember of his dream-meeting with Eirsir… the god had been hiding something, he knew it, but Darkmark had asked to have the truth hidden from him… perhaps some other day he would know… maybe he would go to the nearest city and find a library to read up on the tales of the Saviours-
“In some irony, she was the only person ever to find the Marble Altar…”
“Good gods.” Darkmark murmured without thinking. The highest of all the gods had let slip a secret Darkmark would have paid in blood to know. Within the hour he was back in the air, soaring just under the clouds, hearing northwest towards the vast expanse of forest that bordered on that side of the Inhabited Lands.
“Good morning, Valina…”
Tsi-Lau couldn’t help but let a smile creep to her face, though she shifted on the large cushion and forced it away. “Good morning, Manny.”
“I could get used to this, you know.” Skafria said quietly. They were both lying on their sides, facing the same direction with Skafria behind her, and he put his arms around her in a hug.
“I never would have imagined it when I first met you.” She said softly, turning her head towards him a little. “Even during the time I spent with you in the feral village, I never thought you’d be more than a friend.”
“Stranger things have happened.” The blue Yoshi replied, licking his fangs to emphasise the point. “When I first met you… well, after we stopped trying to kill you… I thought you’d leave us when we got to the first city we came to.”
“I had nothing better to do… I was only wandering, as I have been, ever since I lost Vick…”
Skafria held her closer to him comfortingly. “Are you…”
She cut him off, putting her arms over his. “I think now, I’ll be over it. It’s been hard… but now I have someone else to cherish.”
“I’m glad I can be that someone.” Skafria said with a smile. He started to rub his hands across her chest and stomach, then stopped after a moment. “Hey, you weren’t this large yesterday.”
“What?” Tsi-Lau burst out, looking down abruptly. She tried to roll onto her back, but there was a large amount of extra weight in her lower body, bulged out into the shape of-
“Eggshell.” Skafria whispered, his fingers pressing gently.
“Is that even possible?”
“If it’s not, that’s got to be the best illusion you’ve ever cast.”
Tsi-Lau narrowed her eyes at him a little in exasperation, but her mind was drawn back to the matter at hand. “I suppose I should have thought it was possible, if not likely…”
“It doesn’t matter NOW.” He chided, calling up his old phrase. “If you stay in the past you’ll be unprepared for the future.”
Silence fell over them, and Tsi-Lau ran her own hands across the swelling. My own child… I never would have thought that I’d have one. I… I don’t deserve one, after what I have done… but I have one anyway…
Skafria’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “…what are we going to do?”
“I-… I don’t know.” She replied. “I could destroy it, it’s not like I’m a stranger to murder…”
“Don’t!” Skafria suddenly cried, grabbing her loosely with his arms and holding her to him, taking even himself by surprise. “Wait… I mean… think it out. We could… we could keep it. Surely we can support it, we’ll just have to move out of here…”
“I thought you didn’t like children.”
Skafria shook his head. “I don’t… but while I’d feel fine not having them, I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t kill my own child. Accident or not.”
“I see.” She said quietly. “I guess I’m going into early retirement…”
“There’s something more important than your job now.”
She paused for a moment as the weight of that sentence struck her, and the truth behind it. First time that’s ever happened… maybe this is for the better…
Lince, City of
“Hey.” One of the sentries muttered, nudging the other one with his elbow.
“What is it?” The second one, yellow-skinned, inquired, snapping out of his daydreams.
“Look over there.” The green one said, pointing out of the tower next to one of the gates into the city. Along the path running from the crossing, a lone horseman was running towards the gates.
“A human.” The yellow one observed, standing up abruptly.
Within a few moments, archers stood with notched bows on the battlements behind the city walls, all watching the single horseman come towards them.
“Halt!” the green one cried once he was in earshot. “Stop and state your business!”
He did not stop, and the archers raised their bows, training their sights on the horseman. He was pushing his luck, but luckily for him he stopped right before the order was given to fire.
“I bring a message!” he shouted, holding up a scroll.
“Bring it to the gates, and begone!” The yellow sentry shouted back.
At least twenty arrows ready to fire followed the path of the human as he dismounted his horse, walked to the gate beside the sentry tower, and handed over the scroll. “I await a response!” he shouted, before going back and leaning on the horse.
Below the two sentries, a messenger took the scroll up to the castle liberated by Marcus less than two months before, past the elite Yoshian guardsmen with their distinct black armour and the helmets that covered their eyes from view.
“A message, sir!” the messenger replied, holding up the scroll once he was allowed into the Baron’s room.
“Bring it here.” The red Yoshi commanded, the messenger stepping around cracked tiles on the floor. The damage to the room hadn’t been repaired yet, but it wasn’t high on his list of priorities. It was about to become even further down.
The message was short and simple. The human kingdom was giving him a chance to surrender to their will and mercy (at which he scoffed loudly, proclaiming under his breath there was no such thing), or to die at the hands of their army in the fires of war. They mentioned a border village had already been eliminated as an example of what would happen to the rest of them, and recommended he comply, lest he wanted cold steel between his head and shoulders.
He read it aloud to the guards and advisors assembled, and folded it back up indignantly, handing it back to the messenger. “They want a war. They know we won’t surrender… someone get an oracle to confirm this.”
“Why do we have to fight?” One of the advisors asked, as the messenger ran off.
“Do you know what they’ll do to us?” Came the Baron’s reply. “I don’t. I doubt even the gods know. But it cannot be good. They will most likely kill most of us. The rest… well, they enslave their own people, why wouldn’t they enslave us?”
“Believe me, if there was a way I could avoid this, I would…” The Baron continued, getting to his feet. “I don’t want to fight. I have not been in a war, but I know what it does… it brings pain and misery, and breaks families apart… I don’t want to fight. But… they do. If we don’t fight, they’ll just crush us.”
There was another moment of pause, before he stepped down from the dais on which his throne stood. “Maybe this can still be avoided… let us move forwards with our forces, but take a defensive stance. If we do not initiate combat, perhaps we can stop this happening… but we must be swift. We must spread the word, assemble our forces, and move out… we’ll need to establish a front somewhere on the mainland. What’s the closest city?”
One of his advisors piped up. “Going south, it would be Malanirí, and north would be… Corvan, most likely. Sansata is between Corvan and the border, but they will most likely pass through there. It’s ruled and populated mostly by humans already.”
“Malanirí is just a port town.” Another advisor mused aloud. “I think Corvan would be a better bet… it’s large, and has a city wall… if we can take it before they do, we’ll have an advantage. Plus, it spans a river, so it will be extremely difficult for them to try and attack us from behind…”
“Send a message to the captain of the guard.” The Baron interrupted. “And send the messenger back where he came from… but take his horse. Get a mage and teleport it within the city walls. That’ll give us more time.”
He drew his sword without any flourish and inspected the blade, examining his reflection in the polished metal. The sword was very fine, but rarely used. “To be honest I can’t say I’m surprised that this has come to pass… I pray only that it goes away as quickly as it came. Laryshka, give me strength… give it to us all…”
“Sir…” The messenger called, back from his task, his expression sour. “The oracles confirmed it… they razed the town and killed the inhabitants. And…”
His gaze cast around the room at the silenced advisors.
“They’re invading us.”
To be continued…