Yoshi did not look back. "Faster," he told Liya under his breath, and they broke into a jog. Behind them the footsteps of the spirits sped up to match. One of them shouted something taunting.
Yoshi and Liya turned a corner into a deeply shaded alleyway. Even in the cold ambient light, shadows fell across the way from the beams and leaves overhead. For a moment they both hesistated, breath clouding, before Yoshi spotted a figure further up the alleyway and cried out.
It was Vlad, strolling along on his own, dressed all in grey to match his hair, but with a pair of yellow shoes and a magenta scarf. He turned, surprised, at Yoshi's voice.
Yoshi and Liya ran to catch up with him. "It's, er--" Yoshi tried to get out, breathless, "They're following us--I think they are traditionalists."
He jerked his head back over his shoulder, and Vlad followed his gaze, frowning. The three spirits had appeared in the archway at the end of the alley now. They'd spotted Vlad, and were now shouting something else out, presumably at him. Vlad shouldered in front of Yoshi and Liya.
"Ayup," he muttered, and then leaned forward, showing his fangs and shouting something right back at the spirits. Yoshi and Liya started behind him, surprised.
The three spirits did not seem impressed. One by one they lit themselves with magic--breathing orange streams of fire, sprouting tendrils of yellow light, or white light streaming from eyes and mouth. Then they were running straight at Yoshi, Liya, and Vlad, lighting up the alleyway around them as they came.
Vlad wheeled around and grabbed Yoshi and Liya by the shoulders, urging them on. "Okay, bluff called," he said quickly. "Run."