Prologue = A Reign of Peace
Author’s note to the reader: The entire Cursed Yoshi series has been wholly rated as PG-13. Some bits may not be and some bits definitely are. You probably shouldn’t read this at all if you’re not over 12.
Disclaimer: Although all characters here are of my own invention, the original Yoshi (the species, that is) is copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
Marcus turned his head, looking to see who had called out. He spotted a pink Yoshi running towards him. Oh shoot! he thought, She’s going to give me away. He frantically began to gesticulate wildly, trying to make the Yoshi go elsewhere for now.
“No such luck. Gotcha.” Another, deeper voice came from behind him, and a dark blue hand clapped onto his shoulder. Marcus sighed. He’d probably have to work overtime to pay back the debt he owed after losing so many games of binoculars-hide-and-seek.
Marcus got up and brushed himself off, though most of the dirt and dust was hardly visible on his chocolate-coloured skin. He raised his head to see the pink Yoshi in front of him, and greeted her with a nod.
“I’m sorry Marcus,” She said, “I didn’t know you were hiding.” Even now, he couldn’t be mad at the pink Yoshi in front of him, who was looking slightly forlorn.
“Ah, don’t worry about it.” He replied. “I didn’t think I’d win, and didn’t bet him much.” He gestured towards the dark blue Yoshi now standing beside him, his childhood friend Manny. Manny had obviously been looking hard for a while, as he was wiping the sweat from his ocean-blue forehead. In his free hand he carried his binoculars.
The pink Yoshi was Marcus’s girlfriend, a sweet yet innocent Yoshi by the name of Alziana. She had a purple tongue, which was unusual, but it wasn’t very noticeable. His two friends had always despised each other, but Marcus had never asked exactly why. It had something to do with Manny’s attempts to make her his girlfriend at some point in the past, but beyond that he didn’t know and didn’t care. Around her neck, Alziana wore her favourite item of jewellery: a necklace of pearls that she almost always had on her.
“You play for money?” she asked.
“Yeah, it makes it all the more interesting.” Marcus replied. “Except like now, when I keep losing.”
Manny glanced up at the sky. It was about six o’clock, by his reckoning.
“Well, what now?” he mumbled absent-mindedly. “How about another game?”
Marcus shook his head. “I owe you enough as it is. Let’s just go swimming or something.”
Alziana sighed. “Aw, but I can’t swim! I want to go with you.”
“So much the better if you can’t come.” Manny said.
Marcus intervened, preventing what would have become a heated argument. “Don’t be nasty, Manny. Anyway, I’m actually too tired, now that I think of it.”
Manny scowled, but brightened up again. “Well, whatever. I’ll leave you two Lovebirds -or is that LoveYoshies?- to do whatever you want. See you tomorrow, Marcus.” With that, he wandered towards the centre of Shoreside Village where his house was.
Alziana clasped Marcus’s hand in her own and led him towards the shore. “Come on,” she said as they walked, “Let’s go watch the sunset together.”
Marcus chuckled. “It’ll be the same as all the other sunsets. You see one, you’ve seen them all.”
“Aw, but don’t you want to spend time with me?”
“Of course I do! Just not some time I’ve spent before.”
Alziana let go of Marcus’s hand long enough to scramble up a small rock wall and up to a better vantage point. From the rocky outcropping they were on, they could see the ocean spread out before them, dotted on the horizon with other islands. They sat down on the ground next to each other.
“What is it you and Manny are up to tomorrow?” she asked.
“Oh, something slightly different. We’re off to go cave exploring.”
“Ah… can I come with you?”
Marcus didn’t even consider it. “No. It’s dangerous. Me and Manny have done this for years, but you’re inexperienced.”
“But I’d be safe with you.”
“No. I insist. Stay here.”
“But you’re usually gone for about a week! I don’t like it when you’re gone that long.”
“This is only a day excursion. We’ll be back around nightfall.” He caught another big-eyed pleading coming his way. “And you still can’t come.”
She looked into his eyes, looking particularly at the red outlines that surrounded his pupils. They were always there, but Alziana wondered about them, because she had never seen anything like them on any other Yoshi. She had seen them several times before on Marcus, but they still spooked her a little, even though she considered them ‘cute’. Right now they were shimmering in the fading sunlight.
As soon as the purple haze settled down onto the overlook, they stood up and faced the village. Marcus jumped off the outcropping and flutter jumped back down to the ground, landing on the moss-covered forest boundary a few yards away. Alziana hesitated, then ran and jumped over the edge. She only managed to flutter once before becoming unbalanced and falling headlong into the waiting arms of Marcus, who had run over from where he landed.
“If you can’t even jump a few yards, how will you survive an expedition into the forest?”
Alziana blushed and mumbled absently, and Marcus put her down. She hugged him and then left, and he watched her until she went inside her house. They both lived in the Shoreside Village, a small Yoshi settlement of thatched houses of Yoshi construction, in which Marcus, Manny, and Alziana had grown up in.
Marcus then strolled back to his own house, daydreaming, his head swimming with hormones. He shook his head to clear it, and concentrated about what he’d be doing tomorrow.
Marcus was still half-asleep when he was hauled out of his bed and through the window above it. He blinked several times, and a large blue blur slowly became vaguely Manny-shaped. The first rays of daylight were streaming into the village.
“Do you always have to do that?” Marcus grumbled.
“Quiet! We have to go before anyone wakes up. We always do.” Manny spoke in a hushed voice.
“It’s not even my parents’ house.” Marcus said, as he reached back through the window for his saddle and boots. “Maybe we should just tell your parents about your sword and knives.”
“Maybe your parents would like to hear about the flail you paid me to steal. It’s a wonder they don’t know already.”
Marcus knew when he was beaten. Independent though they were, their parents could still make life miserable for them. “All right, all right. Let’s just go get our stuff.” They wandered over to Alziana’s garden, where they had hidden their equipment after the last time, and Marcus removed a fairly large dark brown box from a thick clump of lavender. It’s a good thing the lavender always grows here, thought Marcus. Otherwise we’d be caught. He was fiddling with the combination lock when the window creaked open. Alziana’s head emerged.
“Aha! It’s you two!” she spoke in a low hiss.
Marcus sighed and hissed back, “Yes, it’s us, the opposing ends of the intelligence spectrum.” He placed the box on the ground.
“I knew you had your things around here somewhere.”
Manny spoke up. “If you tell anyone…” He flashed a menacing smile, and Marcus fixed her with a red-eyed gaze. She sighed.
“Okay, I’ll keep your secret. But only because Marcus would get in trouble.”
“Aw, thanks.” Marcus went over to the window. “I knew you would.”
“Here, take this with you.” She handed him a small ring. “I meant to give it to you on your last birthday, but I lost it. I just found it here underneath the windowsill.”
Marcus looked at her, unconvinced. “You mean you just forgot.”
“Oh, alright. I did, and I only got it yesterday. But take it anyway. You’re always getting me stuff.”
“I won’t take it now, I’d just lose it. Give it to me after we return.” He said as he handed it back. She put it on a table next to her, and they smiled at each other for a moment.
Manny was standing behind him, holding the equipment box, faking retching sounds. As soon as Marcus turned around, he clasped his hands together and put on an airy voice, impersonating the two Yoshies. “ ‘Oh Alziana’ ‘Oh Marcus’ ‘Oh, you’re so lovely’ ‘Oh, you’re so cute’. Please. I want to eat again this year.”
Marcus rolled his eyes. “Then look away. This isn’t suitable for immature audiences.”
Alziana grabbed his head forced him to look at her again, but lost her balance and nearly fell out of the window. Marcus steadied her, and then waved. “We’ll be off now.”
Alziana gave him another large-eyed look. “Without a proper farewell?”
Marcus chuckled, then stepped forward. Carefully, she leaned out of the window a little and kissed him, and Marcus scratched the back of his head as he returned it uneasily, his cheeks turning a pale shade of pink. Manny pretended to throw up into the now-open equipment box.
Marcus winked, waved again, then turned and left. He looked back after a yard or two, and could swear he spotted tears in her eyes. Then he and Manny rounded a corner, entered the forest, and Manny handed Marcus his flail.
It wasn’t much, but it was a weapon. It basically was made of a long wooden handle, into which Marcus had carved his name, with a small metal cap on one end. Attached to the cap via three or four chain links was a pair of small, spiked steel balls. Manny’s sword was only a shortsword, not as long as some, but it was enough for him. The trees obscured the view as they went deeper into the forest.
They were long gone by the time the sounds of horses’ hooves approached the village.