Chapter 97 = The Secret Weapon
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.
31st of Eira, CD 2156; Somewhere in the Crelata Forests
Darkmark awoke when a sky-blue hand shook his body gently. He grumbled a little and rubbed his eyes, letting them get adjusted to the green-filtered light coming through the forest canopy, and through the open tent flap.
“You looked tired, so I let you sleep in.” The female feral told him in her native tongue. “But the leader wants to see you, and-”
She stopped abruptly and drew back when Darkmark opened his eyes, the slightly shining red surprising her. “What… who are you? What are you?”
Darkmark sighed. “I don’t have time for this… it’s not important to you who I am. Just tell me what you were going to say.”
She paused, looking around nervously, then continued, “The… the leader wants to see you, he’s waiting for you and sent his children to get you… they’re outside.”
“Alright…” Darkmark murmured, getting his things together. He stretched and stood up, putting his things back on, then walked out of the tent.
He was greeted by four ferals pointing spears at him.
“Morning.” He mumbled, undaunted, standing straight and keeping his wings against his back. He looked each of them in the eye and gestured generally. “Lead on.”
They spread out and surrounded him in a box formation, leading him away. Another pair ran past him, helping the sky-blue feral take down the tent she had been in; as they walked, Darkmark could see all the other tents partly in the process of being taken down.
Seems like one of the ones Shiala told me about… Darkmark thought, before closing his eyes and forcing the memories away. Now was not the time.
There was a feral wearing a cloak with two others taking down a larger tent, but he stopped when the entourage arrived, stepping away and standing directly in front of Darkmark as the armed ones spread out around them.
“Sleep well?” he asked, keeping an authoritative stance and tone of voice. His skin was deep green, his chest the usual tanned orange of ferals, with prominent Eyes of Karshina. His cloak was pinned shut with an ornate brooch that looked to be of great value. Darkmark nodded back and replied, “Yes, quite comfortably.”
“Good.” The chieftain replied, his gaze unblinking. “Your eyes are… interesting.”
The brown Yoshi fanned out his wings. “I find there are more interesting things about me…” Then he folded them up again, but not as much. “They are on the inside, however.”
The chieftain gave a smirk, nodding a little. “I see. I heard you have been in a feral village before.”
“Yes…” Darkmark said, nodding. “But it has since been destroyed. I took a feral from there a little before, but she was murdered.”
“Who else?” Darkmark replied with a shrug, fighting hard to keep his emotions hidden. “Are you running from them here?”
“Yes.” The green one replied, gesturing to the encampment being taken down. “Thrice within the last two months we have narrowly escaped a confrontation. There are bounty hunters who would gladly see us dead in exchange for cash, who roam these woods looking for us. We’re heading south right now.”
Darkmark’s hand strayed a little towards his saddlebags, but he thought better of it. “I’m not sure where I am headed, but I thank you for your hospitality.”
“Not just yet.” The chieftain replied, halting Darkmark where he was. “I still want to hear of your psionics. It is supposed to be a lost art.”
The brown Yoshi paused, looking the feral in the eye. “Of course.” He murmured, giving a little smirk, thinking for a moment of something fancy, a shiver running through him as the dormant skills Karlo-Shin had given to him made themselves known. They seemed to float around inside his head before he was able to pick on one of them, the secrets of the master psion revealing themselves to his student. Darkmark held his hand up in front of him, palm upwards, forming a small ball of light for effect, and let the charged spell flow through him… fading from sight as he became invisible.
They looked around, surprised, and Darkmark chuckled for a moment before shifting a little, the air around him distorting until he became still again. “Just a taste,” Darkmark remarked to the feral chieftain, “of what I’m fully capable of.”
Smirking, the chieftain nodded serenely and clapped Darkmark on the shoulder as he let the spell fade. “Not bad, not bad. I’ll let you go, since we should move, too. I hope we meet again. May the gods be with you.”
“Alright, we have new orders.”
The four human sub-captains were waiting for a reply from their commander, the captain of the city guard, who had just finished reading a letter from the Capital. They regarded the captain with some caution, and often doubt, but in the end had little say in the matter. He was, after all, their superior.
“We are to fortify the city’s defences and make sure it can withstand an attack from the east.” The captain said, folding up the letter and placing it on the table in front of him. “Apparently an attack is expected within the week, perhaps later. You can probably use some materials from the destroyed prison if you need to. See if you can’t find some more recruits while you’re out there.”
He ran a red hand through his silvery hair, pausing to think for a moment. “Also, draw the other guards away from the western end of the city. We won’t need them that much. It’s pretty calm that way.”
“Anything else?” The second sub-captain said, as always leaving off a ‘sir’ or anything similar. The captain had grown used to this treatment. His superiors told him they were just jealous of his position, which wasn’t hard to believe.
“Make sure to carefully inspect any cargo entering the city from the east. It might contain spies or supplies for resistance forces.” He continued in his slightly high-pitched voice, “And get a messenger ready at each watch tower. If an enemy is spotted, send them here… that will be all.”
“Understood.” They muttered, and left abruptly.
The captain sat back in his chair, staring over his nose at the ceiling, but thinking to himself. An invasion? An attack? The city was ringed by walls, and the river made it unfeasible to attack from the back for anyone, making it easily defensible, but he had no experience in this sort of thing. He’d only been dispatched from the capital a little over a month ago, and had been promoted after the previous guard captain had died at what was simply referred to as the ‘prison incident’, when an entire structure had been exploded apart by an escaped prisoner. He found it hard to believe until he had seen the rubble. How long had it been…?
* * *
Locked in his room within the castle, a lone figure sat on the side of the bed, aimlessly polishing a sword lying on his armoured lap. He had locked the door for his own protection, as advised, but he didn’t have very much to do. He found he got bored extremely easily.
Looking out of the barred window into the night sky, he sighed a little and started taking off his armour. Training was hard and his instructor never went easy on him, but it was for the best. It’d help him get strong, or at least that’s what they told him.
His mail had been specially tailored to fit him, and he assumed they thought he was special if they were going to go to that kind of expense. They’d had to alter it to his general build, but also had to accommodate for his tail.
He had many names given that few people could properly spell around here; Michael, Mikhail, Michel, Mikel, Mike, Mick, and similar. He generally went by Mikhail, for that was the name as it appeared on official documents pertaining to him, but he had to answer to all the others and whatever new mispronunciations came up.
Though he didn’t know it, there was an interesting story behind him. After a raid on an anthronian settlement now eighteen years ago, under orders of the kingdom’s special researchers they brought back an egg, as reluctant as the Dragon Slayers were to leave something alive. But the researchers had incubated it near a fire until it hatched, then underwent the expense of raising it within the castle walls. They figured he would be an excellent tool against their foes, and an insight into their minds… they made sure, of course, that he never met another Yoshi, and poisoned his mind with lies to keep him loyal, something he naturally was unaware of.
Mikhail sighed and lay down on his back, running a cherry red hand through his silvery hair. He’d never seen anybody who looked like he did, not even in the books he had access to, but had been told of creatures similar to himself. He was alone, but this was his home, and they sheltered and taught him. They told him he’d been abandoned and he believed them, pledging his loyalties to them. He’d been just a simple soldier talking to the researchers now and again, but they said he had an important assignment of some kind. What was it? Would he meet the people who had abandoned him? He’d find out in the morning…
* * *
Mikhail yawned a little, standing up. Whatever was coming could wait until he got some sleep. He had to lead night watches, which disrupted his sleeping schedule, when combined with the hours of training he had to put in and his efforts to keep the men in line despite their disrespect for him. An escort of knights kept with him all the time when he was outside his room, so he never got to talk to anyone outside the guardhouse. He’d hardly ever seen any other Yoshies, and certainly never talked to them, but from what he’d been told it would be better that way…
To be continued…