Chapter 96 = Changes
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.
30th of Eira, CD 2156; Somewhere in the Crelata Forests
Darkmark was debating in his head whether to stop or keep going. He didn’t really seem to be making any progress, as the trees were endless, without any waypoints, landmarks, or anything to navigate by. Yet for the same reason, he didn’t want to turn back, partly because he was lost, and partly because he’d come a long way already.
It was pitch black beyond where his light ball shone, and it was getting colder, the wind rustling through the leaves high above him. He’d have to stop soon and bed down for the night, but he was trying to put it off for as long as he could.
Suddenly, a sharp scent wafted across his nostrils. Somewhere in the darkness, there was a fire, a small one, or perhaps the recent remnants of one still giving off smoke. He tried to speed up a little, moving past the trees with his wings pressed to his back.
He nearly ended up walking right through it, had he not taken the moment to look around and find himself in a clearing, such as it was with the enormous trees still blocking out almost all of the light. There were many tents made of a strange fabric pitched on the ground, set up so as to be taken down with speed and ease when needed, and there was very little movement, maybe the occasional shifting body within one of the tents. Unlike the previous feral village he had been to, it lacked the clutter on the ground; no broken shards of eggshell, no bones, piles of seeds, or cooking pots…
“Hold it!” a voice hissed from behind him, and Darkmark stood still. The voice was speaking in Yoshian, and so the brown Yoshi replied in kind; “I am not your foe, I am one of your brethren.”
Another figure moved into his view, illuminated from the light of the ball in Darkmark’s hand. He held up a hand of his own to shield his eyes from the light, the other holding a spear, hesitating a moment as he gazed into Darkmark’s glowing red eyes. “It’s alright.” He said to the one behind Darkmark after a moment, who stopped pointing his spear at the brown Yoshi.
“You’re not a feral, like us…” the one in front observed, “But you’re clearly using psionics, something supposedly lost to the world…”
“I have feral ancestry.” Darkmark replied curtly. “Great-grandfather.”
“I cannot deny it for the evidence is right in front of me.” Came the reply. “You intrigue me. I’m sure the chieftain would like to meet you, but it is late. I’m sure we can find room for you here.”
Darkmark breathed a sigh of relief on the inside, but retained his hardened demeanour. “That would be wonderful. I have had the pleasure of feral company before.”
“You must tell us about it tomorrow.” The other replied. The one who had been behind Darkmark appeared to have wandered off, so the remaining feral led Darkmark over to a smallish tent and opened the flap, cocking his head towards the entrance.
“And for the love of the gods,” he added, “Get rid of that light. You’ll attract more than just insects around here.”
Darkmark complied silently and dispelled the light ball, stepping inside and crouching down. As his eyes adjusted to the light, or rather the lack of it, he could make out several cushions like the ones he had seen in Shiala’s village, with a couple on the floor occupied by another feral, who had been roused by their new companion’s entry.
“Sorry.” Darkmark murmured, taking a few cushions. He stood there for a moment silently, staring blankly at them. How long had it been since he had been in that village? Less than a month ago, and yet it seemed like years… and now it was gone, just like the inhabitant he had taken with him… gone forever… all he had left were memories, some treasured, some painful.
He shook his head and lay the cushions down, removing his equipment before lying on top of them. The other occupant of the tent had been watching him intently until then, but simply rolled over and went back to sleep, apparently not bothered by the sudden addition to their sleeping space.
I almost envy this lifestyle, Darkmark thought to himself as he closed his eyes. Just eat, sleep, and mate, with no cares or worries or responsibilities… well, perhaps not that straightforward, but still a simple life… with the one who you love, the one you want to be with…
He tried to wave the thoughts away, but they wouldn’t go, and he turned onto his side, away from the other feral, hiding his expression of sadness and the moisture forming in his eyes.
Shiala… I miss you…I miss your touch, I miss your scent, your voice, your gentle personality… I miss you and everything about you… I want to hold you in my arms, I want to kiss you one final time… but I can’t… I can’t…
He barely managed to stifle a sob, swallowing away a heavy feeling in his throat, closing his eyes firmly to try and hide all the feral objects around him that were bringing back memories. The cushions, so soft, like her skin had been… the jewellery the feral with him was wearing, silver and gold, like Shiala’s…
I have lost so much… it’s gone, gone forever… never again will I hear her speak and tell me that she loves me… I’ll never hear my child talk to me… I’ll always be alone…
“Shiala…” he murmured quietly to himself.
His thoughts twisted, and he glowered into the darkness before him. The humans took her away… they took everything away, they took it all… everything I had pieced back together of my life from the first time they destroyed it… and they have done it to others… and will continue to do so… I don’t know how… I don’t know when… but I will stop them… I will protect the others… so nobody else must suffer as I have.
His mind went back, recalling the words Eirsir had told him before that fateful day…
“Had I any power, they would be punished… as the prophecy of the Cursed Yoshi says, one day the land will be cleansed of their vile presence under the seventh saviour. It was only after Klashkna that they became as bad as they are… and I am amazed that the Yoshies have put up with it for so long. Perhaps they need a leader, perhaps they are waiting for the next saviour, I cannot say… but rest assured, the punishment will be delivered one day.”
A leader… Darkmark thought. The next saviour… when I leave this forest, I will make my presence known… for the good of all…
Curling up and wrapping his wings loosely around himself, he lay there for many minutes until he simply fell asleep where he was.
“Have you thought of any names?”
Skafria nodded to Tsi-Lau, taking the egg from her and holding it against his body. “I know you said you aren’t good with them…”
“I’ve been in the guild for too long.” She confessed. “I can only think of code-names. Especially now that it’s part of my job.”
The blue vampire held the egg a little closer. Its warmth seemed to beckon to him even when he wasn’t holding it… it was, after all, his own child. “If it’s a male, I think we’ll call it Tamárin… and if it’s female, we can call it Siniera.”
His partner nodded, standing up again and putting one arm around him, the other over the smooth, shiny eggshell, adorned with its pinky-purple spots. “I like those names…”
“Really?” He replied, turning his head to nuzzle noses with her. “I’m glad to hear it…”
He smiled gently, baring his fangs unintentionally, stroking the surface of the egg with one hand. “Thank you, Valina… for all you have given me.”
“Have you forgiven me for what I have done?”
Skafria blinked, surprised slightly. “Forgiven you?”
“For… what I did… at the prison.”
There was an uneasy pause. “I… It’s not my place to forgive you.” Skafria answered. “Mar-… Darkmark is the one you should apologize to, not me. And even then, he may not forgive you… and it is truly Shiala who would want to hear your apology. But even then, there was a greater culprit in these affairs… and it is up to the gods to grant you reprise, not me.”
“You really have changed.” She murmured, looking at him. “No longer are you the carefree tail chaser I once knew.”
“And neither are you the quiet, solitary traveller I met on the ruins of my home. We have both changed… and I think we will change even more.”
To be continued…