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Fan Fiction / Re: Shadows of Schala (Part One)
« on: October 01, 2020, 01:42:13 pm »
Shadows of Schala - Chapter Two

The Timeship drifted slowly as Orion eased it into its berth. He leaped out and turned to offer a hand to Ariel, who bounded past him, her golden hair flying. Elora giggled at the hurt puppy expression on his face as she too, disembarked without assistance.

"You're welcome!" Orion muttered under his breath.

"Worry not," Glenn advised. "I'm sure she appreciate'th the gesture. She simply know'eth not how to tell thee."

"Yeah, you're probably right," Orion responded, a devilish grin washing over his face. "But I can think of other appropriate gestures..."

"Of that, my friend, I hold no doubts!" Glenn laughed as he clapped Orion on the back.

"What are you boys whispering about back there?" Ariel called over her shoulder.


They walked down a corridor, leading to a now-familiar lamp post, located in the center of the odd brick structure they knew as the "End of Time". An old man leaned on a cane next to the lamp post and dozed on, oblivious to the arrival of his visitors.

"Wake up, Gaspar," Orion said as he shook the old man's shoulder. "We might have a problem."

The old man, Gaspar, jumped slightly as he came to full awareness. He was dressed in an impeccable suit and a bowler hat rested lightly on his head. He pulled out a pocket watch, flipped it open, consulted the time, closed it with a snap and smiled benignly at them.

"Somehow," he began. "I expected to see you. You've actually arrived sooner than I thought. It's not nice to throw off the timetables of the Guru of Time."

"What are you talking about?" Ariel asked. "How did you know we were coming?"

Just them a heavy footfall sounded from beyond the corridor on the other side of Gaspar's post. The corridor's gate swung open and a metal boot stepped through the opening, heralding the arrival of another old friend. An imposing, massive, gleaming gold robot came through the door, closing it softly behind him.

"Prime!" Elora exclaimed as she rushed to greet her favorite out-time friend. She liked Alpha or Glenn, and Arvia, the girl from Prehistoric times well enough, but Prime was special. Many were the times she had to repair him and she poured all of her mechanical skills into "healing" him unstintingly. Prime had begun to develop emotions and his first was an affection for Elora.

Prime caught Elora as she jumped the last few feet to him and swung her about. They circled three times before Elora put her hands on his arms and begged him to stop.

"I'm getting dizzy!" Elora laughed. "But what are you doing here?"

"Hello, Elora," Prime said as he set her on her feet and hugged her carefully with only a fraction of his great strength. "All of you?" he bowed to Orion and Ariel in turn as a greeting. "But who is...  Wait. I know you," he continued as his photoelectric gaze fell on Glenn. "Several people would wave to me as I tended Fiona's Forest, but it always seemed to be more meaningful to you. Who are you?"

"'Tis me," Glenn replied with a courtly bow. "Alpha. The curse Magus place'th on me hath been broken."

"It does my processors good to hear that, Alpha," Prime said.

"Please," Glenn began. "My days as 'Alpha' art behind me. Thou may'est call me by mine own name, 'Glenn'."

"Very well," Prime acquiesced with a flash of his photoreceptors. "'Alpha' has been purged: you are now 'Glenn'."

"'Alpha has been purged'," Ariel repeated. "Why does that sound bad?"

"Just updating my memory codes," Prime responded. "Nothing to worry about. Tell me, how did you get here? I did not think you had contacted Melchior yet, Mr. Gaspar," Prime looked toward the Guru.

"It wasn't my doing," Gaspar said. "They showed up on their own."

"We used Ark," Orion explained. "Glenn contacted us..."

"Thy pardon, Orion," Glenn interrupted. "About that, I fear we may have a problem, one that span'eth thousands of years of Time. Of late, I have had particularly compelling dreams, revolving around Magus' sister, Schala. I know not what to make of them."

"Well, ever since I received a message from Belthasar that Prime noticed an anomaly, I've been scanning the time-stream. The overall fabric of Time has been unraveling, all leading back to a single event. That event is the rising of the Black Omen," Gaspar paused to let the significance of that last revelation sink in. "I've searched the length of Time and made a discovery. Ariel," Gaspar turned to address the princess. "Schala is your direct ancestress. Your line is starting to disappear from Time, starting from the Future, where Doan has vanished and reaching back to when Schala disappeared following the Ocean Palace disaster. The one that created the Black Omen."

"Wait a second," Orion interrupted. "You're telling us that Ariel is going to – to disappear because we destroyed the Black Omen and defeated Lavos? And there is nothing we can do?"

"Actually, there is one thing," Gaspar noted mildly.

"WHAT?!" five voices demanded in unison.

"Rescue Schala," The Guru of Time stated simply, adjusting his hat. "All you need to do is prevent her from vanishing when the Black Omen rises."

"But how?" Elora asked. "We destroyed it!"

"Duh, Elora. I thought you were the brains," Orion scoffed. "We have a time ship and we're close personal friends with the legendary Guru of Time!"

"It's not quite that easy, I'm afraid," Gaspar warned. "My visions regarding Schala have been shrouded in darkness."

"My dreams, too, have been vague," Glenn said. "and rather enigmatic."

"Yeah, those odd dreams that made me think of Alpha were that way, too,”  Ariel added.

"What be the thread that connect'eth us?" Glenn asked.

No one had an answer at first. Elora glancing from Gaspar to Glenn and then to Ariel, found her attention drawn to Ariel's pendant. It glowed softly as Schala's did.

"Could it be – Schala herself?" Elora ventured.

After a pause Orion spoke out, "No. I can see why Schala might try to reach Gaspar, since he lived in the same time, or even Ariel since she's descended from Schala, but what is Glenn's connection to her?"

“I hath somewhat recently been – touched by the magic of Schala's brother. My dreams did not begin 'til Magus' curse had been broken," Glenn observed softly.

"Yes, but we've all been touched by Magus' magic..."

"Glenn was changed completely by that magic, down to the cellular level," Prime observed. "Unless you have been keeping something from me, no one else has been turned into another species."

Mune spoke in Glenn's mind. “You also carry us. We are another strong connection to Magus. We are from his time, we are specially enchanted to weaken him and we enabled Hero and weapon to slay him."

Glenn pondered that for a moment, then added, "I carry the brothers Masa and Mune. They art from Schala's time, they art enchanted to weaken Magus. I use that enchantment to slay her brother. Perhaps these connections attracted Schala's attention?"

Elora shook her head.  "It's possible Schala's not trying to reach you, any of you. I think she might be trying to reach her brother."

"If that's the case, why would anyone but Magus get her message?" Orion argued.

"For the very reasons we've just stated. We three have the strongest connections to both Schala and Janus." Gaspar said.

"Too bad Janus, uh, Magus, is dead," Orion spoke into the following silence. "Otherwise, we could just ask him."

"Perhaps – you still can," the Guru noted.

"What?" Orion scoffed. "You have a way to bring the dead back – to – life," he trailed off.

The Guru reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a simple egg. "Actually, yes! You would know that better than anyone!" He smiled at the young man.

"But we have not a copy of Magus.  Need we not one for the Chrono Trigger to work?" Glenn asked.

"I will contact Melchior and have him convey our need to the magician, Norstein Bekkler," Gaspar decided. "But it will take some time and I need to make sure that Janus' death was not a necessary step in the defeat of Lavos. Since the time stream is – clouded it will take me longer than usual. Rather than stand out here twiddling your thumbs, why not pay Spekkio a visit? It's been awhile since he's had company and he does get cranky."

"A cranky god of war? Wonderful!" Orion muttered. Gaspar chuckled and waved them off.

"Very well," Glenn said striding over and opening the door. He bowed Elora through with a tasteful flourish of his cloak. "Milady."

Elora blushed as she entered the room followed by Glenn and Prime. Ariel reached to catch the door, but Orion beat her to it, gallantly holding the door open for her.

"Humph!" Ariel humphed as she passed Orion tossing her chin in the air. Stung he let the door close after her.

"What am I doing wrong?" he beseeched Gaspar. "Glenn does stuff like that and it's charming."

"Yes, well, that is Glenn," Gaspar replied a small smile creeping across his features. "Believe me, young hero, I have spent much time here and unraveled many mysteries, and have yet to figure out women. Don't worry though," He patted Orion's shoulder. "Your future looks to be bright enough that I'd hang on to the Sun Shades that Taban made if I were you."

He smiled at Orion's confusion and shooed him. "Now get out of here! Your friends are waiting and I need to concentrate on my work."

Orion shook his head, tossed a last look over his shoulder at the mysterious old man, opened the door to Spekkio's pocket dimension and stepped through. Gaspar smiled warmly as he began the somewhat difficult task of contacting Melchior.

Orion stepped through the door, a puzzled look furrowing his brow. The first thing he noticed was a Nu – pink, rather than blue, but otherwise appearing like a Nu in every way. Nus are curious creatures, standing nearly two meters tall and the same wide. They appear to be all face with arms and legs attached oddly, almost as an afterthought. They spend most of their time sleeping and appear at all times to be utterly harmless. They don't speak much, and what they do say is rather cryptic, and no one has ever seen them eat. If one was observant enough, one could find a Nu in every time period. It is almost as if they were monitoring the advancement of the human race. True to form, this one was sleeping and Orion's friends were standing about it afraid to wake it.

"What's going on?" Orion asked. "Where's Spekkio?"

"Shh!" his friends admonished him, all at once.

"We are afeared to disturb its slumber," Glenn explained quietly. "We know not what it shall do."

"Oh, for crying out loud! It's a Nu!" Orion exclaimed, striding over to the bright pink creature. "HEY! WAKEY, WAKEY!"

The Nu jumped, startled at the sudden noise. Everyone else jumped, reaching for their weapons.

"Sorry, I just dozed off for a few millenia...  Oh, hey," it said. "Punk-head! And you brought everybody!"

Doubly shocked by the Nu's abundant use of language and its obvious recognition of the party, Orion asked, "Spekkio? Is that you?"

Spekkio looked radically different from the last time Orion had seen him. He changed in appearance the more skilled the group became with magic and the last time Orion had seen him, he looked like – well like a demon. Now, he looked like a pink Nu. Orion wasn't sure if this counted as an improvement or not. Spekkio was certainly friendlier looking, but it must be hard to gain respect as the self-proclaimed 'god of war' when you slept most of the day.

"In the psuedo-flesh.  Are you looking for some practice?"  Spekkio asked.

"Actually, Gaspar told us to come see you because you haven't had many visitors for a while. Some practice wouldn't hurt either."  Ariel supplied.

"Hmmm," Spekkio regarded them, "Wait just a sec, okay?"

Spekkio glowed a bright white. The room filled with intense light. The light shrank back to the center of the room and coalesced into a rough Nu shape. Abruptly, it split in two and faded. Two Nus now stood where before there had been only one.

The Nu on the right spoke up, "I need a little help, since there are so many of you. Meet my alter ego, Nu."

"I'm not the alter ego," the left side Nu argued. "You are my alter ego."

"That is not true," Nu-right said. "I am Spekkio!"

"Uh-uh," Nu-left retorted. "I am the god of war!"

"It does not matter," Prime interrupted. "You are both duplicates of the same being. Neither of you is more or less Spekkio than the other...  other...  other..." Prime's head began to spin like an out of control top as he kept repeating his last word.

Elora walked over, opened a panel on his back, hit a few buttons and scowled.

"What ail'eth our clockwork ally?" Glenn asked.

"His diagnostic readout says his logic chip has overloaded. Undoubtedly caused by two Nu-Spekkios arguing with each other." She cast a severely reproachful glance their way, as each one pointed to the other. "I was working on an illogic chip to give him if I ever saw him again, but I left it at home."

She thought for a moment, scratched her head and pulled a tool from her belt. She walked around the robot, frowning as he continued to say "...other..." oblivious to the world. When she stood behind him, she wound her arm back, watched the timing of the oscillations and hit him sharply square in the back of the head with a mallet. His head stopped spinning and he finally ceased repeating himself.

"Thank you, Elora," Prime said. "I needed that." In a much softer tone he added, "I think!"

"Are you done playing with your toys?" Nu-right said.

"Yeah, we're getting bored," Nu-left agreed.

"Yes Spekkio," Elora replied as she hung her hammer back on her belt. "I'm through."

"Good," the two Nus said in unison. "Then we can begin."

With that, the two Nus began a cooperative spell know as Antipode, a combination of fire and ice, and the magical combat began.

Gaspar turned to look as the door to Spekkio's lair opened. He grinned as he saw Glenn's and Orion's clothes smoking, Ariel's hair severely, for lack of a better word, frizzed, and the robot dripping wet. Elora seemed untouched by magic as she used a cloth to dry Prime.

"Did you win?" Gaspar asked, unable to resist.

"Yeah," Orion replied with a twisted half-smile as he tried vainly to restore the 'punk' style to his hair. "We won an all expense paid trip for four to 'Spell Town', courtesy of the Nu express. 'Spell Town' has severe and rather unusual weather patterns. It rains fire, lightning and ice all the time. Elora got to see a black hole real close, otherwise it would have been a trip for five. Elora was the lucky one!"

Orion suddenly grinned his wide, sunny smile. "Good ol' Spekkio!"

Gaspar chuckled. "Well, do not worry overmuch about it. I found out some interesting news."

"Please, share it with us," Glenn asked politely.

"First things first." Gaspar responded, bringing his arm around in a gesture that included all of them. Their hair, clothes and armor returned to what passed for normal as he muttered, "Spekkio should have done this. He must have fallen asleep, irresponsible Nu. Now then," Gaspar continued, retrieving his cane from the side of the lamp post. "The time stream is still – twisted, not irreparably so, but you must move fast. I can't be sure, but I think Doan's grandparents have disappeared, so the 'Chronal Eraser' is working its way back through Time. We need to decipher Schala's messages and we need Janus to do it. He can be restored, without altering the feats you have already accomplished, but there will be a price." Gaspar paused and looked at Glenn. Glenn regarded the Guru, a questioning look in his eyes.

"I fear, my friend," Gaspar said slowly. "That if you use the Chrono Trigger to restore Janus, it will also restore your curse."

"What mean'est thou," Glenn demanded. "I have broken the curse by slaying Magus!" Glenn blinked as the truth occurred to him. "Oh. I see."

"I don't," Ariel stated flatly. "Why would Glenn turn into a frog again?"

"It is an unfortunate, but unavoidable side effect. When you restore Janus, it will be as if he never died," the Guru explained softly as Glenn walked to a nearby corner. "With Janus alive the curse remains unbroken."

"So why can't we go back and prevent Glenn from ever getting cursed? And save Cyrus, too!" Ariel demanded, despair creeping into her voice.

"If we do that," Prime noted. "Then Glenn as a frog would not be able to assist us in our defeat of Lavos. His abilities were necessary toward that end. Also I do not believe even the Guru of Time has the power to make all lives flow as we would wish them to." Gaspar nodded silently.

"We can, have to, save a mean, evil person like Magus and we cannot do anything as our friend bears up under a terrible curse again! It's not fair!" Ariel raged helplessly.

"The Chrono Trigger can only be used to restore events to their proper sequence in a broken timeline," Gaspar explained regretfully. "The Trigger's spell does have limits. It can't work miracles."

"Gaspar, can't you do anything?" Ariel asked, anguished.

"Child, my power is over Time. I have no abilities over frogs or curses."

"...the only way to save Schala, Leene, Doan and me is to..." Ariel halted.

"Is for Glenn to take up the burden of his curse once more," Gaspar responded.

Ariel mouthed "No!" as her voice failed and she turned away crying. Orion held her while she sobbed softly.

"Ultimately," Gaspar continued after a moment's pause. "The choice is Glenn's."

At this Glenn turned from his silent contemplation of the swirling mists of Time and regarded the Guru.

"If you choose to, you may return to your time, and live out your life as you are. You, and you alone, would have knowledge of a queen named Leene. Since Ariel will not be born in the future, her absence in the time stream will allow Lavos to rise from the depths of Oblivion and destroy the world as you know it in the year 1999," Gaspar paused to let the words have their impact, then continued, "or, you can accept the curse of an altered form, and maybe one day, find a way to reverse the spell. Either way, you have a responsibility to do what is right in your heart."

There was a long moment of silence before Glenn asked, "Gaspar, please open'est a portal to mine own time."

"WHAT?!" Elora screeched as she raced toward the knight, her fist clenched. "You can't just..."

Prime caught her as she dashed by and restrained her gently.

"Elora, please," Gaspar held up one hand. "He has made his choice."

A beautiful pillar of light formed and Glenn fixed his gaze on it. The only sound was Ariel's crying.

Glenn contemplated the portal for a long moment before turning to Gaspar and saying, "close'st it again."

He walked over to Orion who released Ariel and stood aside. He took Ariel's shoulders in his hands and she looked up into his face, the tears streaming down her cheeks. A tear rolled down his face as he explained, "I canst not leave Leene to the unforgiving Void or cast'est thee into it. Whilst it may cause'th me pain and hardship to be a frog again, I willing take that burden, so that others shall have more than just memories of thee."

Overcome by his sacrifice, Ariel simply hugged Glenn tight. After a moment Orion cleared his throat and Ariel took a step away from Glenn.

"Enow," Glenn locked gazes with each pair of anguished eyes in turn. "I hath said that I wouldst do anything to save Schala. It is sufficient that you, my friends, hath known me, e'en if briefly, in my true form. Despise'st not – Alpha the frog overmuch," much lower he added. "I only wish that a damsel could hath come to love me as Cyril, perhaps love'th me enow to – love also Alpha."

"Do not despair of love just yet, my friend," Gaspar advised cryptically.

"We have a task before us. What need we to restore Magus?" Glenn asked as he squared his shoulders.

"Well, you have the Chrono Trigger. I've keyed it to Rainbow. All you need is to go to Norstein Bekkler's lab and get a Clone of him. Melchior has it all arranged."

"Let us be off then," Glenn said heavily. "We need stop in mine own time so that I may retrieve the garments I used as a frog and I need to obtain another sword."

"Will... Will not the Masamune suffice?" Gaspar asked, shocked that Glenn would leave that sword behind.

"I believe not the brothers shall recognize'th me in frog guise," Glenn replied simply.

"Glenn," Orion began. "Didn't they tell you it was the heart of the Hero they recognized and not the outward form? I remember them saying something like that."

"When... Oh, yes," Glenn said, the memory returning. "At Cyrus' grave. I remember now."

"How could you forget?" Masa's voice rang in his head. "He doesn't want us, Mune!"

"Yeah," Mune's mental voice agreed loudly. "He probably has a sword of gold he's been hiding! Didn't even ask what we wanted him to do!"

"Not as if he doesn't need us," Masa went on. "He couldn't be the Hero without us..."

"Had to be reminded by 'Spikey' over there..."

"He just doesn't love us anymore..."

"Stop'est it, the two of thee!" Glenn demanded, his hands over his ears. Everyone blinked at him blankly.

"The Masamune wast speaking to me," Glenn explained. "I managed to offend the brothers."

"Ohhh..." the other five said.

"Prime, could you get Ark ready for departure?" Orion asked.

"Of course, Orion," the robot said as he went down the corridor.

"Elora, Ariel, you will have to stay her with Gaspar. We'll bring Magus back, then figure out what to do," Orion said.

A look crossed Ariel's face, she grabbed Elora aside and the two of them began whispering and giggling, looking back to Orion and Glenn.

"I'm not so sure I like this," Orion pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at the girls as he and Glenn started down the corridor to the Timeship.

"Remember, how the Trigger works. You can activate it with Rainbow. I would have keyed it to the Masamune, but Glenn will have his hands full," Gaspar explained. "I'll send the Chrono-wave from here when Ark materializes so you will not have long. If you should fail, return here and we'll figure out a new plan."

Orion stopped. "What about us? If you stop Time, won't we be stopped, too?"

"No," Gaspar explained. "The Timeship will protect you and the Chrono-wave will only cover the Cape where Janus was killed. You will need to hover close to it but remain out of sight. You can't risk changing Glenn's memories."

Orion still looked confused and was about to ask another question when Glenn said, "we understand." He pulled Orion along. "Let us go and thou canst have Prime explain'eth it to thee later."

When they were out of earshot of the Guru, Orion said, "Glenn, can I ask you something?"

"Certes," Glenn responded.

"Back there, when you had Gaspar open the portal back to the 6th Century – were you actually going to do it? Were you going to go through it and forget about...  Well, everything?"

Glenn paused before answering, choosing his words carefully. "I don't believe so. I gave myself a test. Wouldst I chose the path that would mean I lead a normal life and destroy a future I wouldst ne'er know, being none the wiser? Or wouldst I have the strength to suffer a curse and save my queen, my friend and her children's children? In the end I made my final choice."

"You made the right choice," Orion said, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"Nay," Glenn replied with a wry smile as he gently shrugged off his friend's hand and walked toward the Ark.

Orion paused for a second before he realized what Glenn had said. "'Nay'?" he repeated, jogging to catch up to Glenn. "What do you mean 'Nay'? How could you have lived with yourself?"

"It wast not a matter of the right choice or the wrong choice," Glenn answered, grinning at his friend's shocked reaction. "In the end, it wast the only choice I could make."

With that, Glenn leapt onto the Ark, as Orion stood shaking his head at his friend. He chuckled and joined his friends on the Timeship. As he strapped in, Orion saw Prime cycle up the engines and pull away from the berth. He noted the Time-gyro stabilize and his world became a flashing white light.


Fan Fiction / Shadows of Schala (Part Eight posted)
« on: September 29, 2020, 02:54:37 pm »
Author's notes -

First of all, please be aware that this story is filled with * SPOILERS * for Chrono Trigger.  Posting it here, I suspect everyone has already played the game, but just in case.  I have not played Chrono Cross, therefore, I do not know the events or characters of that game or how the two games are tied together.  Having just discovered and joined this archive, I haven't played or read about the interquel game(s) either.  At this point, my sum total of knowledge about the CT Universe is what is contained in the first game.

I'm sure there's nothing unique about the basic question at the heart of this story – what happened to Schala?  What I hope might be interesting is the roundabout way this story answers it, and the adventures the characters experience along the way.

I prefer the game ending where Glenn, Robo and Ayla appear and chase after Gaspar through a Time Gate alerting Marle and Lucca that they may yet be able to rescue Crono; so I usually kill Magus and don't revive Crono when I play.  This story however, would be one where Magus was slain and Crono revived.  If you are a Magus fan, don't worry!  Of course he's in this story!  ^_^

In fact, everyone except for Ayla is here (my apologies, she just doesn't work in this story).  Chrono Trigger gives you the option of renaming all the characters, an option I almost always use.  So...

Crono = Orion
Marle = Ariel
Lucca = Elora
Frog = Alpha
Ayla = Arvia
Robo = Prime
Epoch = Ark

...since I didn't want "Frog" and "Robo" to be lame names in my story.  (Some might recognize the names for their Transformers origin particularly when I admit that Lucca was 'Gears' and Ayla 'Brawn' during that game playthrough.  I changed them to be more feminine when I first started posting this story on a fanfic archive.)   Magus, Schala and all other named characters retain the names the game gave them. Glenn/Frog spoke in something of an archaic manner in the game.  I've tried to duplicate that in my story.  Please forgive what that does to the grammar.  (My spell check program hates it!)

Shadows of Schala

      Schala's cell was sumptuously appointed, every physical comfort satisfied.  Even though she was surrounded by objects of rare and astounding beauty, she never forgot she was a prisoner, held against her will, by one who had become a Dark Lord.

      She shuddered and hugged herself against an involuntary chill when she thought of her inhuman guards.  They knew better than to lay a hand upon her, for their Master's retribution would be terrible, but their very nature was alien, dark, and evil.  Even Lavos' evil had been born of an understandable instinct to survive;  these creatures and their Dark Master thrived on evil, craving it and creating it for their own twisted pleasure.

      She sank into a chair from sheer weariness.  Her strength was dimming, soon the Dark One would have all the secrets of her special power.  Once he did he would be able to spill pure evil into her world across its already troubled time-lines.

      Schala risked opening a tiny Time Gate, crafting it small enough to escape detection by one who was just learning the intricacies of Time.  It was so small in fact that all she could send was her desperate plea, like a message in the bottle of Time, and hope to alert someone to the danger their world was in.

      She dared not open it large enough to even determine who or when was receiving her warning.  From all she knew of Time from her studies with Gaspar, the Guru of Time, her plea should reach most strongly to one who had traveled across Time.

      Unable with so small a Gate to reach to the End of Time directly, she used the utmost of her skill to direct her plea to Magus, the mage her own time-lost brother had become.  She hoped he understood that she was asking him to seek Gaspar's aid so that they could find and rescue her before her stubborn strength gave out and the Dark Master gained all her powers.  Only they could save her and their world in all its Times from...


      Glenn awoke shaking off the threads of dreams that tried vainly to tie him to sleep.  He stretched, luxuriating in the feel of the sinews and muscles of his swordsman's body.  He marveled anew at the recovery of his human form.  Slightly more than a year returned to normal had not diminished the horror of ten years awakening as a bipedal frog; a fate he would not wish on even Magus, the dark sorcerer who had so cursed him.

      Strange that he would think of Magus.  He lay still for a moment and closed his eyes, quieting his mind to recapture the sense of his dreams.

      "Schala?"  he murmured.  "I wonder what became of her.  She was so selfless giving all her strength to hie us to safety once Orion was slain..."  His thoughts carried him back to the Magic Land of Zeal in the Dark Ages and the people he had met there.  His memory skipped through the ages and their distinct friends and enemies as easily as he had traversed across time when he had helped defeat Lavos.

      "Poor Janus warped so early in his life by Lavos' power...  and Cyrus, dear Cyrus, so foully murdered because Lavos displaced him and Ozzie embittered the boy to become Magus.  My ten years as a frog, long and painful as they were, I could forgive, but Cyrus' death, never!  Oh, mine enemy, if not for that, if not for the twisting of thy very soul;  the strength and goodness I saw shining in Schala could have been thine and Janus... No, Magus... We could have been friends."

      Glenn turned to gaze to the legendary sword, Masamune, where it hung on his wall.  Deep regret thickened his voice as he continued,  "Instead thou lie dead and buried by mine own hand, ironically interred in thine own time and I am restored in form and time to my place, but lonely...  Grieving the friend thou took from me and the friends that Time washed back to their own shores..."

      "But what of thy noble lady-sister?  What of Schala?  Why doth she haunt my dreams?"
      He arose, garbed himself for the day, carefully arranged his cloak to conceal the Masamune and reported to Queen Leene.


      "Cyril?  Cyril?"  the queen addressed him later.

      He was on guard duty in her chambers, lost in thought as he gazed unseeingly upon a tapestry.  The other servants and attendants looked askance at his inattention to the queen.
      Leene assessed his handsome profile, reached a decision and firmed her jaw.  She dismissed her other attendants and guards with a soft word.  After seating herself and clasping her hands in her lap she spoke again,  "Cy... Alpha!"

      He wheeled about sharply.  "Why dost thee address me in the name of the Hero?  I am not a frog!"

      "No.  Even though, when you were a frog, I trusted you, I admit I am happy with your more comely human form.  Furthermore I know that you, Alpha, are also, Glenn,"  Leene spoke calmly and quietly.  Glenn found himself drawing near to hear her soft words and her demeanor soothed his racing heart.  Part of him admired her technique for calming people even as he recognized it:  he'd seen her use it on the king countless times when the king's passionate nature would get the best of him. His astonishment was not erased by the calm that Leene imparted to him.  He gaped at the gentle, perceptive queen.

      She smiled slightly at his expression as she explained,  "I visited Cyrus' grave and saw the inscription on his tombstone.  I heard the story of the Frog Hero who wielded the Masamune and comforted Cyrus' restless ghost.  You carved 'Cyrus sleeps here avenged by his friend Glenn' on the headstone.  Also my overly modest friend, even as my frog retainer your ease moving about the castle was uncanny from the start, as if you already knew its paths.  Further, as endearing as your 'thees', 'thous' and 'thys' are;  they are outmoded words and only you have used them these past ten and more years.  Finally, though you try mightily to hide it, the discerning eye can spy the Masamune under your cloak.  Oh, don't look so stricken!  I'm not upset at you!"  Leene cried when she saw the forlorn look on Glenn's face.  "I know you, and I know your charades are not meant to hurt anyone, rather they spare you hurt.  I can only think your ruse as Alpha, who eventually became the Frog Hero, was some way of hiding your shame at Cyrus' death.  That blame was never yours to take!  Your current ruse as 'Cyril' is to avoid the adulation you would receive as the Hero.  Am I right?"

      "Thou know'est it, milady.  But what am I to do?  Cyrus' death cut me to my core and the change Magus wrought in me reminds me every day of dear Cyrus and how I let him down.  In a way, 'Glenn' died that day as truly as Cyrus did."  He paced toward the window and looked out over the forest surrounding the castle before crossing back to Leene's side.  "I never thought any would trust me again as their companion in arms and yet, e'en though Elora did not want to at first, Orion did.  'Alpha' became'th not a badge of shame and regret but the name of the Frog Hero.  I was respected by honorable friends and I did not let them down.  King Guardia and thou, my queen, were also most kind to the frog I was.  I shall thank thee that kindness all my days."  Glenn stood at his full height, opened his arms wide and threw back his head.  His shoulder length hair flowed about his face as he lowered his gaze to search out the queen's eyes.  "Now my true form restored to me close'th that chapter of my life as well."

      He paced by the queen again, turned, and paced back.  Leene admired the unconscious grace and balance that Glenn displayed in every move he made.  She remembered the frog he had been and realized this strange grace came from the years he had spent in that form.

      "Know'est thou, there are some aspects of my frog self that I miss."  Leene threw a startled glance Glenn's way, his thoughts so eerily paralleled her own.  "The Leap Slash and the Slurp Healing amongst them."

      A private smile crept onto Glenn's face as his queen regarded him.  Leene recalled the time when Alpha had rescued her from Yakra.  He had fought to save her with skills only an expert swordsman would use.  Yet...

      "Leap Slash?"  Leene queried.

      "Oh a – technique I would use in battle.  I could jump several times mine own height and slash down with my sword in a rather devastating attack.  Not many creatures could survive it!"

      Leene considered his response and the slightly uncomfortable look on Glenn's face.

      "Slurp Healing?"  she asked, unable to resist.

      "Oh, milady, it sound'eth so gross, but no one truly seem'eth to mind..."  Glenn flushed.

      "Now I am really intrigued!  Tell me!"  Leene demanded.

      "Well, if someone sustain'eth an injury, I could flick my frog tongue at them, touch them with it and heal them of their wounds somewhat."  Glenn studied one of the tapestries intently to avoid looking at her.

      "Startling at first, to be sure, but I think I would not have minded if it eased pain,"  Leene replied.

      "I remember Orion would call out in the middle of a fight  'Alpha, Slurp me!'  I would, he'd fight on, and eventually victory wouldst be ours.  Orion name'th that skill for me.  I lost it when I became human again, so it is good that it is no longer needed."

      Leene heard the sadness under the light tone and realized for the first time how much Glenn had lost over the course of his life;  Cyrus, his own humanity, his friends of past and future, the frog form he had come to terms with and even his own name.  She wondered if his return to humanity made up for all he had given up.

      "There were benefits to being a frog,"  she observed quietly.

      "Aye, but I much prefer being a man and as a man I much prefer being anonymous."

      "Someday, Glenn, you are going to have to accept the honor due you, but I won't force you.  So you wish to remain 'Cyril'?"  the queen asked.

      "My liege-lady, 'twould comfort me if thee would call'est me 'Glenn' when no other could hear.  It would help me feel I'd not let Cyrus down too much,"  Glenn asked quietly.

      "Gladly, even though you are as stubborn in your unassuming way as is my beloved king.  Cyrus' death was not your fault!  However, I am happy things are finally working out for you."

      "I wonder, dear Leene, if they've work'eth out to their ultimate end.  I've been haunted by thoughts of Schala lately..."  Glenn mused.

      "Schala?  Now that you know that I know you are, or were, Alpha;  you can finally tell me what happened, not just the part I know."

      "As thou command'est, my queen, but we should break for mid-meal and I've responsibilities to King Guardia this afternoon.  Canst I relate to thee my tale on the morrow?"  Glenn begged.

      "Of course, but be sure that you do or I shall be quite disappointed.  Perhaps we can visit your, Alpha's, old home in the Cursed Woods from when you were a frog?  I'd be interested in seeing it,"  Leene asked.

      "My lady, 'tis no place for thee.  How dost thou know of it?"  Glenn asked in amazement.
      "That sweet girl, Ariel, told me of it and how you had evidently spent years there in loneliness regretting Cyrus' death.  I am glad those youngsters were able to bring you back from that despair to us."

      "Indeed.  What else did Ariel speak of that perhaps she ought not?"  Glenn mused.

      "Glenn, she was concerned that you would return to brooding once the adventure was over.  She knew that you had been my retainer and thought that I could find some way to help you.  We know how much Cyrus meant to you and how deeply it hurt you when he was murdered.  Ariel spoke, but all your friends felt the same, that you might spend your life regretting something you could not change and deny yourself the happiness you deserve.  Keep your sadness, Glenn, that is a fitting and proper tribute to a great knight and a great friend, but do not live there.  Now, you spoke of lunch?"

      "Aye, your majesty, I did.  Can I escort my queen to her repast?"  Glenn queried as he offered a crooked arm.  Leene placed her hand on his arm, gathered her train on her other arm and glided through the chamber door as Glenn opened it.  "Now what dost thou mean by saying that my mode of courtly speech is out-dated?  Surely thou jest!  Such high language as I am wont to use is only to show my highest regard for thee and for thy husband, our king..."  Glenn teased in mock displeasure as they passed down the hall.  The two guards flanking Leene's door stared at him.

      Leene smiled serenely at them to show she was not upset and even loosed a few low giggles.  Glenn winked at them over Leene's head and continued down the hall.

      "Surely, just because some know not the proper forms when addressing those of royal birth, does not mean that those of us who do should offer insult to thee and thy lord..."  he continued in mock amazement as he opened the door to the staircase.  The guards overheard and chuckled, somehow relaxing even as they snapped to attention.  The heavy door blocked Glenn's bantering tones and Leene's bell-like laugh.

      "She favors him too much,"  the younger guard complained.

      "No.  He is a more skilled swordsman than you in your youth, and I in my experience put together.  He is also a friend of hers.  Look at the queen's life.  She is guarded against all harm, but also all fun.  You and I can leave, go home to families, into town or the tavern.  Her life is here and it is boring.  Once, long ago, the queen's guards had a special duty she was completely unaware of.  Perhaps it is time to start that duty again,"  the older guard mused.
      "A special duty?"  the young one asked.
      "Sir Cyrus and one other started it.  Come to think of it...  no, never mind that...  One day, when the queen seemed especially sad, they started to act up and be silly.  I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say they lightened her mood.  For a very long time, until the war with Magus became so desperate, we of the queen's guard made it our duty to try to get the queen to laugh at least once a day.  Perhaps...we should start that duty again."

      "Perhaps you are right, old man,"  the young guard acknowledged as he reset the angle of his spear.  "Make her laugh, huh?"


      "You know, Cyril, this kingdom needs a Hero,"  King Guardia said conversationally a few hours later.  He was walking the battlements with Glenn by his side reviewing Guardia's troops as the Knight Captain mustered them out.  "A king's duties are state craft, law-making, fostering the land and the like.  It's rather boring and not easy for the people to romanticize about.  A Hero, on the other hand, fires their imagination, commands loyalty, adds a zest to their lives making some of the more routine things bearable.  A True Hero brings out the best in people, they are kinder with each other and more apt to lend a hand if someone needs it because 'that's what so-and-so would do'.  Cyrus was a True Hero.  Alpha, frog though he may be, could be a True Hero.  I find it strange that no one has seen or heard of Alpha since he and I parted ways at the castle gates."  The king sent a piercing look at Glenn.  "Don't you – Cyril?"

      King Guardia crossed to the battlement edge and watched his knights at work.  They practiced crossbow, spear and sword, shooting targets, thrusting and setting spears and the intricacies of swordplay.

      "You are quite impressive even with practice swords,"  the king commented.

      "I thank thee, my liege,"  Glenn responded quietly.

      "May I see your sword?  The one you hide under your cloak?"  King Guardia asked, fixing Glenn with an unreadable look.

      Swallowing hard, Glenn cleared the sword from his cloak and handed it hilt-first to the king.

      "The Masamune!"  the king whispered intently as he took it.  He admired the sheer beauty of the weapon as well as its heft and balance as he continued,  "My father had me train with the guards when I was a lad.  He wanted me to be tough;  it was almost as if he knew somehow that my reign would be more troubled than his...  An unintended result was that I no longer wanted to be just the king, I wanted to be out there, slaying evil, saving my people directly with my sword and skill.  A king has a certain distance imposed by his kingship, a passivity that helps him be objective.  Part of me rejoiced that Magus had advanced so close at Zenan Bridge.  I could go out and do, not simply send others to do for me.  Thank the Hero my folly did not hurt the people of this kingdom."

      "Sire, thy desire to save thy people is no folly, any who would so label it are wrong.  There is a certain romance about thy kingship, the king who would fight with his people, not hide in his castle as they wert o'errun.  Guardia may'eth not require a Hero as much as thee think,"  Glenn offered.

      "You speak as Alpha did;  you have his same quietness, you possess the Masamune.  Are you he?"  the king demanded.

      Glenn paced to the battlements himself.  He looked down on the knights, guards, and the guards-in-training and the swordsman in him assessed their skills.  He squinted a little to make out one face clearly and was not too surprised to recognized Tata among the new recruits.  He turned his gaze back to the king who waited patiently for an answer.

      "Yes, I am he, restored to my normal form upon Magus' death.  I beg thee, my liege..."  Glenn began.

      "Not to reveal that you are Alpha the Hero?"  the king smiled a sad, tight little grin.  "Why is it you always want what the other has?  To be a unfulfilled, unfulfillable dream of mine.  You want your peace, yet you are here where Leene or I could find you out..."  the king wondered aloud.

      "My skills are needed here.  Thou and my lady Leene have both discovered me.  I can only beg that thou allow'est me to serve thee as I am now, not as a Hero who can not mis-step and who is known everywhere he may have to go.  Things are quiet now, my liege, but they may'eth not remain so.  If I must take on another such as Magus, would it not be better if my skills were not common knowledge and my approach not heralded by everyone?  I desire to serve thee quietly doing whate'er needs doing, be it high, be it low."  Glenn sank to his knees and grasped the King's hand which still held the Masamune.  "Please, honor Cyrus, he who was a True Hero and a true friend.  If thou must, honor Alpha, the Frog Hero.  Do not make'st of me a Hero to be celebrated 'cross the land, I wish to remain here as thy guard and the queen's, ensuring thy safety from all who would threaten thee,"  Glenn pleaded intently.

      "It took me a year to get Cyrus to accept the mantle of 'Hero'.  Something tells me you would prevail if I were to engage in a battle of wills with you.  You win, Alpha.  You may serve me as you see fit, probably better than if I directed you."  The king grinned ruefully.  "But I will have my way in one thing.  Sunrise tomorrow meet me in the Cathedral."  King Guardia's steely grey eyes bored into Glenn's.  "Do not fail to be there!  This is the finest weapon I have ever had the pleasure of holding, however I can sense that it was made for you, as you were born for it."

      Guardia handed the Masamune to Glenn with a small smile of regret.  Glenn stared at the king who had startled him with his sensitivity and felt a slight tug from the sword.

      "Do something nice for him,"  a tiny voice spoke in his mind.

      Glenn was surprised by the voice but knew it had to be from the Masamune.  Keeping the sword out he walked away from the battlement and began some simple swordplay exercises.  The child-like gleam in the king's eyes rewarded him.  He began to work in more complicated moves and to increase the speed of the sword's arcs.  Completely enthralled the king's eyes followed every move.  Glenn paused the sword's motion, collected his will and performed a Nirvana Strike.  King Guardia's eyes widened as he imagined the three foes Glenn's move would have destroyed.  Glenn wished he could show the king Leap Slash or some of the dual attacks Orion and he had worked out.  Spire came easily to mind.  Glenn slowed the arcs and oscillations of his sword and returned it in a swift, practiced motion to its scabbard.

      "Wow!"  King Guardia exclaimed.

      "Majesty, dost thou step'est away from the edge!"  Glenn appealed holding out his arm.  "If thou were to slip...!"

      The king stepped calmly away from the battlement's edge and walked sedately toward the door.

      "Sunrise tomorrow, 'Cyril',"  he called over his shoulder.  Glenn shivered as he followed the king.

      "What doth my king plan for me on the morrow?  Can it be worse than being found out twice in one day?  Can it be worse than the strange dreams I fear I shall have this night?"  Glenn mused just under his breath.


      Later, in his room, Glenn unbuckled the sword sheath from his back and hung it on his wall in its spot.  He drew the Masamune and ran his hand softly down its blade carefully avoiding the keen edge.

      "Thou surprised me by speaking in my mind today;  though I know not why I was surprised, knowing who thou art.  Masa and Mune, brothers, bound in a red knife of dreamstone, using the power of Lavos to become a sword, at the direction of the Guru of Life.  Thou hast grown as I have, accepting my destiny to defeat Magus, avenging Cyrus and releasing his spirit and learning how to use the magic of my friends to increase thine attacks.  Art thou showing more growth for me;  changing yet again as I change?"


      Glenn woke well before dawn and made his way to a clearing overlooking the Cathedral.  He wrapped his green cloak tighter about him, warding off the pre-dawn chill and watched the moon set.  As dawn touched the sky with its first fingers of light he noted a party of five make their way to the Cathedral.  He recognized the king and queen, the Chancellor, the Knight Captain and the Cook.

      "The Cook?  What dost thou plan, my lord?"  he whispered.  Briefly he considered fleeing but acknowledged the lawful command laid upon him by the king to show up.

      As he entered the Cathedral the Cook and the Knight Captain finished lighting the tapers on the altar and returned to where the queen and the Chancellor stood.  King Guardia stood in front of the altar.

      "Thank you,"  the king noticed as Glenn came into the light.  "Our principle has arrived.  Approach us!"

      Glenn had no memory of the king ever having been quite so commanding or imperious.  Not only was this was a king to respect and to admire, but also to watch carefully for there was a dangerous edge to him as well.  He straightened his stance, threw his cloak over his shoulders and neared the altar.

      "Stop!"  Glenn instantly froze, waiting for the next command.  "Give'st over the Masamune!"

      Four jaws dropped open.  The Chancellor, Cook and Knight Captain narrowed their eyes as they regarded Glenn and he simply gaped at the King.

      "Alpha?"  the Knight Captain asked in wonder.

      "Alpha!"  Queen Leene confirmed.  "Now, shh!"

      "High ceremony requires high language, Leene insisted,"  the king responded to Glenn's expression.  "Now hand the sword over."

      Glenn did as he was commanded.  The king took the hilt, walked back to the altar and lifted the Masamune up.  It glowed in the candlelight.  All eyes were upon the king, mesmerized as he became more than a man, more even than a king.  For this moment it was as if he were the will of Guardia itself.

      "Guardia and her people have thrived for centuries and shall for many more to come.  Many have been her Heroes;  noble in spirit, will and deed.  The last Hero was my own knight, Cyrus."  The king's eyes lost focus and sorrow suffused his face.  He gathered his thoughts and continued.  "Many have been the weapons of these mighty Heroes who have defended Guardia;  blades and bows, axes and spears of renown abilities."

      King Guardia lowered the sword and gazed at it with shining eyes.  "This sword is the most famous, 'older than Guardia itself and yet younger than the newborn day'.  None have ever matched its peerless power, none have equaled its legendary deeds.  I am proud that its power serves Guardia in my lifetime, elated to have a chance to hold it, and humbled by all it has done."

      "Matchless as the Masamune is, it is also the Hero who wields it who accomplishes great deeds.  Not everyone is made to be a Hero.  Sometimes the Hero's path is hard, full of pain and sorrow.  I know not why Alpha was a frog at the time when we most needed a Hero's might, I can only imagine his Hero's path was stranger than most.  He wielded the Masamune and defeated Magus during Guardia's darkest hour and further helped to save this planet from an even greater evil.  It is fitting that a Legendary Blade have such a one as he as its Hero.  Approach us, Alpha, and swear again your vow of fealty."

      Glenn felt he was in a dream he could not wake from as he knelt, took the king's free hand between his own and the ancient vow slipped readily from his lips.  His heart was full of foreboding that the king was preparing one of his grand celebrations and Glenn, shy by nature, would from this day forward be thronged whenever he ventured outside the castle.

      "Now, the Queen's Vow,"  Guardia directed.  Queen Leene walked to her husband's side.

      Glenn took her hands in his.  Easier still these words flowed from his tongue, to guard and protect Leene, even above the King, for she was the true future of Guardia.

      "Only I know you are Glenn,"  the queen whispered in his ear after accepting his vow and raising him to his feet.  Serenely she took her place at the king's left hand.

      "You have vowed to serve, honor and protect Guardia, myself and the queen.  Now, kneel!"

      Glenn knelt and felt as he did so that the noose was tightening about his neck.  "This is not the life I choose!"  his heart cried within him.  "Mine only desire was to be Cyrus' squire, I never willed him to die, for me to become a frog, or to become a Hero!  Why can I never be what I want to be?"

      He dropped his head, waiting for the light sword strokes that would knight him and shatter the shadow of a life that he had made from the ruins of his old one.  They came.

      "By my will, before these witnesses, on this day I knight thee, Guardia's First Knight, peerless before all.  Arise, Sir Alpha!"  The king held up one hand to stay Glenn's obedience to his command.  "But I am mindful of what you said to me yesterday upon the battlements, and also mindful of your will.  Only those now here shall know of your Honor, to keep it to themselves until you release them or you are no more.  I too am held to this promise.  But I am the king and I shall have my will in one thing!"  Again the light sword strokes of knighting fell to Glenn's shoulders.  "Arise, Sir Cyril!"

      The king and queen helped Glenn to his feet.  He was slightly dazed by the king's actions.  Twice knighted?  Twice Named?

      "And now we celebrate the Kingdom of Guardia's newest knight.  I have my way and you, Alpha, have yours.  Work as you wish for Guardia's good as First Knight, work as I desire, Cyril, as a simple, ordinary knight.  You'll be celebrated, loved by the people for...  When's the next court knighting, Captain?"

      "The end of next week,"  the Knight Captain replied.

      "...Until the end of next week.  What?!"  the Masamune tugged from the king's hand to float above Glenn's head.  It twirled lazily in the air, glowed very brightly and split into two nearly identical, slightly demonic appearing, beings.

      "We do seem to witness many cool moments with this one, brother,"  Mune noted.

      "Yeah, well he is the Hero we were made for.  Each time he grows as a Hero, we grow as a sword,"  Masa answered.  "How about the king?  That was a very clever way to Honor without ruining Alpha's life.  The king has his knight and his celebration, Guardia has its First Knight and Alpha has the freedom he wants to live a – relatively – quiet life."

      "Relatively, Masa?"

      "Well, we're here.  How quiet do you think it can stay, Mune?  Especially now that we can sometimes speak to him in his thoughts?"

      The two, Masa and Mune, rushed one another, glowed and merged into the sword again.  It floated down into Glenn's outstretched hand.

      "Wow!  So the Masamune..."  the Knight Captain began.

      "Is Masa and Mune, brothers fuse'th magically into a sword.  They seem'eth to enjoy it.  They're right.  Each time I gain in..."

      "Heroship,"  Leene supplied.

      Glenn bowed to the queen.  "...they gain in power and skill as well."

      "Enough!  You are Honored, Alpha, Cyril, whoever you are, and I have a kingdom to run,"  the king declared.

      "Just one thing confuses me, my liege,"  Glenn began.

      "Just one?  You're more on top of it than I!"  the Chancellor interjected.

      "No offense, but why was the Cook here?"  Glenn asked.

      "Oh!"  Leene smiled.  "You know that if the Knight Captain knew, sooner or later his brother,  the Cook, would too.  We figured to invite him so he could see for himself for once.  We have his promise, along with the Chancellor and Knight Captain, to keep your secret."

      "Sire!  If you had sworn me to utmost secrecy I'd not have told even my brother..."  the Knight Captain began.

      "Oh, that's not true!  You've never been able to keep a secret from me!"  the Cook retorted as he dashed out of the Cathedral.

      "Why you!"  the Knight Captain yelled as he raced to the Cathedral door.  "By your leave, majesties, Sir Chancellor, and Sir Cyril,"  the Knight Captain bowed to each in turn.  "I've got to box my brother's ears!"


      Glenn made his way later across Zenan Bridge, tossed a jaunty wave toward Prime, who only flashed his photoreceptors back  (Prime was currently being a scarecrow to give Fiona's newly planted forest a break from the birds), and made his way to the Cursed Woods he had for too long called home.  When he had been a frog the denizens of the woods had left him alone but now that he was human he threaded the path to his pad carefully to avoid upsetting them into attacking him.

      He had just stepped to the first rung of the ladder down to his place when he heard a commotion just out of sight.  He drew the Masamune and raced to confront what he feared he would find.

      Leene watched in utter amazement as Glenn rushed the six monsters threatening her.  The Masamune became a twinkling blur and three mutant tadpoles fell over dead.  Glenn sidestepped one claw-handed attack, circled back bringing his sword up into a guard position and snapped a gust of wind from it at one of the standing tadpoles.

      Leene felt a searing pain strike her hand as a seventh unnoticed monster, some weird cross between frog and snake, bit her severely.  As she screamed in surprise and pain the creature leaped to her shoulder and vaulted off of her right at Glenn's head.  He snapped the Masamune up just in time to cleave the hideous creature mid-leap.  He slashed across a gnawer behind him, ripping its torso open as he ducked another leaping attack.  The two remaining monsters fell to another Nirvana Strike.  Glenn pivoted, scanning the woods swiftly, sword held poised between guard and attack.  Once he was sure no creatures remained he turned to his queen.

      Leene twisted her injured hand deeper in the folds of her skirt trying to hide her injury from this cool, deadly new Glenn.  More than anything she wished she had not followed him;  more than anything she wished to be far away from his level, unnerving and emotionless gaze.
      "I..I'm sorry, Glenn..."  she whispered as she dropped her eyes to stare at the leaves and loam at her feet.

      She glanced up just in time to see the grim warrior visage fall away and her faithful retainer return to his face.

      "Oh, milady!  Why dost thou follow'est me?  Thou art injured!"  he cried as he raced to her side.

      "It's only a scratch..."  Leene began as she fell over in a dead faint.

      Glenn ignored her bitten hand as he caught her; he was far more concerned with the blood pouring alarmingly fast from her seriously wounded shoulder.


      Leene opened her eyes to see hard-packed earth riddled through with roots above her.  Her head was cradled by a soft downy pillow and she was laying on a small wooden bed.  On a rough-hewn table next to the bed bloody cloths and a basin of red-tinged water bore mute testimony to the dressing of her wounds.  The stinging bite in her hand was overwhelmed by the searing agony in her shoulder.  Wordlessly she cried out in fear and pain and sat up.

      The earthen room swooped and spun about her.  Leene looked down at herself and gasped.  The whole right side of her dress showed slickly red with blood.  Even as she watched the white bandages on her shoulder slowly became red as blood seeped into them.

      "Shh, Queen Leene.  Be thou still for one more moment and I shall heal thee,"  Glenn whispered as he gently yet firmly pushed her back down upon the pillow.

      Weakly she nodded her head, biting back the nausea rising in her throat.  A change in the air made her look up.

      Glenn had backed up a few feet from the bed and thrown his arms out wide.  Leene watched in wonder as Glenn levitated a few inches off the floor and gathered the light of the room to himself.  He began to glow and blue light sparkled about his hands.  The light coalesced and, under Glenn's direction, shot forth and suffused Leene.

      A feeling of comforting warmth and peace flowed through her, washing away her pain.  She focused on Glenn who had closed his eyes in concentration to send as much of the healing energy to Leene as he could.  Sweat stood out on his forehead and his whole frame trembled.

      Leene felt that incredible energy flow through her, seeking out the damage the monster had done to her.  The rents in her shoulder closed and, lowering her eyes, she watched as a blue glow knit together the bite wound in her hand.

      Unable to do any more, Glenn let his spell fall and stumbled to his knees from his tremendous effort.

      "My lady, thou art..."  he whispered.

      "Completely healed,"  Leene reassured him as she rose from the bed and assisted him to his feet.  "Although this gown is going to be hard to explain!"

      Glenn rummaged about in a chest and came up with a tunic and cloak.  "These can serve 'til I return thee to the castle 'though they may be somewhat short.  They were crafted for my frog form.  I shall be above 'til thou call'est out, milady,"  he said as he climbed up the ladder.

      Once above he retrieved the Masamune from the bush where he had hidden it and cleaned its edge carefully.  After sheathing it he collected the monster carcasses and tossed them out of sight into the woods.  When he returned from the last trip he heard Leene calling him.

      "I am here, my queen,"  he announced as he descended the ladder.

      He marveled upon seeing her that she could still look so regal even while garbed in a tunic and cloak that were too short by six or seven inches.

      "I should return thee to the castle..."  Glenn began.

      "Nonsense!  You do what you came here for and after perhaps you can relate to me your adventures as you promised yesterday?"  Leene insisted.  "You made me think there might be something troubling you, something about Schala."

      "Yes Schala.  Mine adventure began in the Cathedral.  Thou hast been kidnapped by Yakra and Ariel taken in thy place at the castle.  I knew she was not thee and that the search had been called off when she was found.  Orion and Elora had come searching for thee as well.  A Naga-ette threaten'eth them and so I leaped in to rescue them..."     Glenn began.
      Much later he concluded.  "...and King Guardia and I return'eth here.  The portal closed behind us and the rest thou know'est."

      "Not all.  How did you regain your human form?  What did you do between returning here and joining the castle guards a few months ago as 'Cyril'?"

      "My Queen, there are some things I will keep my counsel on and those are amongst them,"  Glenn replied quietly.

      "You are right, Glenn, forgive my curiosity,"  Leene rolled the papers in her lap into a scroll.  Early on in Glenn's narrative she had asked for paper and pen and taken a record of his tale. "So you and your friends saved us from more than Magus.  The king mentioned saving past and future, but I had no idea it took so much out of all of you.  When Lavos killed Orion..."

      "I thought my heart would break anew...  But we were able to rescue him."

      "Dead is dead, usually.  How?"  Leene asked simply.

      "Lavos was not of our planet and Orion was not meant to perish in the Dark Ages.  His demise at that point was an aberration in the flow of time.  We must need rescue him, not just for himself, but also to mend the rifts in time that it caused.  Oh, my queen, sometimes I have nightmares of what could have happened if we miss-stepped along the way...  The Reptites could hath killed humanity's ancestors...  Magus could hath succeeded in summoning Lavos to this time – but, Leene,"  Glenn threw himself to his knees and grasped her hand.  "I fear we did miss-step, I fear the thread of time unravel'eth...  I fear some peril Schala faces threaten'eth thee and Ariel and all of thy descendants, but I've no way...  I don't know where to start..."

      "I'm touched by your concern as always, my knight, but your dilemma is not unsolvable.  Start at the end,"  Leene stated calmly.

      "The end...?  Oh, the End of Time.  Aye, that doth make sense, but..."

      "How to get there?  Leave that to me.  Write a letter to Ariel and I shall see it delivered,"  Leene promised.  "Perhaps we should return to the castle now."

      "Let me escort thee back to the castle.  Thou should rest and the king should know that thou hath been injured..."

      "...and healed.  Thank you, Glenn."


      Ariel tossed in her sleep.  The comfort of her royal bed, the tasteful decor of her tower room, her safety guaranteed by her royal knights;  none of these saved her from the tempest of nightmares that assaulted her this night.

      "What?  ...Alpha, I can't hear you...  Find it?  What?  ...the Masamune...  Okay..."  Ariel slipped into a deeper, dreamless sleep.

      Outside her chamber door her guards changed shifts;  quietly trading places as alert, rested knights replaced those whom sleep courted with ever-increasing allure.  Inside her room the moonlight slowly flowed across the floor.  Ariel's soft, downy bed could not prevent her restless dreaming.

      "Oh, Alpha...  It is you isn't it?  What?  ...tapestry...  Frog?  ...Schala?"

      Again the dream lost its powerful hold and Guardia's princess found deep, restful sleep.

      Ariel awoke, rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed.  "Such strange dreams!  So shadowy and yet so real.  Is Alpha trying to tell me something?"

      She arose prepared herself for the day and went into the town of Truce.  Politely she knocked on the door of Orion's house.

      "Oh, hello, Ariel,"  Orion's mother greeted her.  "I've just put breakfast on the table.  Will you eat with us?"

      "Blueberry pancakes?"  Ariel asked knowing blueberries were in season.

      "What else?  Come in,"  Orion's mother threw the door wide and embraced Ariel warmly as she encouraged her in.

      Ariel appreciated the warmth that the motherly hug brought even as she regretted that it was not her own mother who showed it.  Ariel's mother had died when she was quite young and as yet her relationship with her father did not allow many hugs.  Yet.

      She found Orion at the table, bright morning sunlight streaming through the window to make the highly appetizing pancakes even more appealing.  Ariel's stomach growled.

      Orion laughed.  "Good morning to you, too!"

      "Oh, stop it, I haven't eaten yet today!"

      "A fate worse than death, to miss breakfast!"  Orion teased.

      "Only when it is your mother's cooking.  Especially pancakes!"  Ariel retorted.

      "Dig in, dear,"  Orion's mother commanded as she placed a plate stacked high with pancakes in front of the princess.

      "Oh, yum!"  Ariel lavished syrup over the stack and fell to with gusto.

      "Princess, I'm so glad you can enjoy such simple pleasures.  I don't believe there is a spoiled bone in your body,"  Orion's mother observed.

      "You know I prefer the nickname Orion gave me!"  Ariel smiled.  "We agreed that in this house I am not a princess!"

      "Do you see us bowing and curtsying?  Calm down, Ariel.  In other words, deal with it, 'princess',"  Orion teased.


      "No fighting at the table,"  Orion's mother said serenely.  "Seconds, anyone?"

      "No thank you, ma'am.  Done, Orion?  Let's go visit Elora!  Oh, can I help you with the clean up?"  Ariel asked belatedly.

      "No, dear,"  Orion's mom chuckled.  "I've got it.  Have fun on whatever adventures you find today!"


      "Okay, spill it, yer highness.  What's got yer royal britches in a bunch?"  Elora demanded.
      Ariel stuck her tongue out at Elora while making a nasty face.  Elora reached out to tug on her hair.

      "Girls!"  Orion roared.  "Must I separate you?  Ariel, you apologize for being impolite and Elora you apologize for being...polite?"

      The girls giggled at Orion's confusion.

      Ariel settled herself on a tree stump as Orion scurried up a tree behind her to an obligingly low-hanging branch and Elora perched on a nearby stone wall.

      "Well last night I dreamed Alpha was trying to tell me something.  I – thought it was Alpha anyway.  I couldn't see him clearly and it sounded as if her were speaking to me over a great distance.  He kept telling me to look for the Masamune and the frog;  and that we had to find Schala before it was too late.  I could feel that it was urgent...  That it was important and that he was frightened.  I don't remember anything else."

      "I hope nothing horrible happened to old Froggy.  I know he is dead by now to us in our time, but I hope he lived, lives a good, full life in his time.  Time travel makes even my head spin!"  Elora said.

      "Is there any mention of Alpha in the Royal Records?  Any clue as to why he might be trying to contact us now?"  Orion asked sensibly.

      "No, I've looked.  He's mentioned as the Frog Hero, Slayer of Magus and Rescuer of Queen Leene and Guardia, but no mention of him as part of the Realm after that.  Queen Leene's favorite guard was named 'Cyril'.  I figure he must be Cyrus' brother or something.  It could be Alpha left Leene once the danger was past and returned to the Cursed Woods to live out his life quietly.  It'd be just like him,"  Ariel mused.

      "How sad!  He'd be lonely..."  Elora noted.

      "Well, it seems he's trying to contact us now.  Have you ever looked to see if the Masamune was in the treasure room?  Surely that sword would have survived a couple of centuries.  Maybe Masa and Mune can tell us why Alpha is trying to reach us now, and what happened to him after the Gates were closed,"  Orion figured.

      "I'm not entirely sure that makes scientific sense..."  Elora began.

      "But it's a magic sword!  Besides, it's something to do.  I hate feeling helpless!"  Ariel urged.  "C'mon!"

      Once at the castle they descended the steps to the basement treasury room.  Elora promptly located the master inventory, Orion made for the weapon racks and Ariel drifted about just trying to feel what she was searching for.  Orion carefully replaced the swords, lances and spears that he moved trying to see what was under them.

      "No mention of the Masamune or a sword of that description here,"  Elora sighed, adjusting her eyeglasses.

      "It's not stored with the weapons,"  Orion confirmed.

      "I'm not sure it's here at all, but look!"  Ariel said pointing to a giant tapestry.

     "Great Guardia!"  Elora breathed.

      The tapestry reached from the floor to the vaulted ceiling.  Upon the green field the Masamune, hilt up, glowed in silver and gold thread.

      "How did we never notice that before?"  Orion wondered.

      "It wasn't here before.  Oh, I'm sure the people here know of it, but we were traveling hither and thither through time while such changes were occurring, so our memories are a little out of step with what reality ended up becoming.  Kinda like how only we remember the Black Omen in the sky of our time, even though everyone mentioned it.  When we destroyed Lavos, the Black Omen never rose in any sky but the Dark Ages,"  Elora explained.

      "I'm glad you understand it because I sure don't!"  Ariel commented.

      "I only sort of understand it.  It makes me realize how very fragile Time is,"  Elora admitted.  "Well, now that we found the Masamune, or what we can of it, what do we do?"

      "While you two have been chatting, I've been looking about.  Come back here,"  Orion commanded from behind some furniture.

      "He's gotten really bossy, hasn't he?"  Ariel noted.

      "Yeah, but he has his uses.  Let's see what he found,"  Elora responded as she climbed around a huge armoire.


      Ariel climbed right behind her and they saw Orion, a huge smile on his face, resting his elbow on the head of a life-size version of Alpha carved in marble.

      "Some clue!"  Elora said.

      "I can't find any secret holes behind the tapestry or anything in Alpha's pockets.  I figure Alpha may be trying to leave us a message the way Queen Leene did for Ariel in the Rainbow Shell,"  Orion stated.

      "I still have that letter.  I keep it in my mother's jewelry box with Queen Leene's Coral Pin.  The Pendant I'll always wear,"  Ariel said quietly.

      Elora circled the small statue.  "Not exactly a pretty or heroic pose,"  she noted.  "What do you suppose he's doing?"

      Orion looked at the statue of his friend again.  "Why, that's his pose when he's about to Slurp someone.  I'd recognize that with how often he had to Slurp me!"

      He regarded Alpha's statue and looked more closely at the construction of the head.  He reached out and opened the subtly hinged jaw.  In the cleverly carved mouth of the statue, where Alpha's tongue would be, there was a scroll.

      "And Alpha speaks!"  Ariel crowed.  "Okay, but someone had to say it!"  she said to the sour looks Orion and Elora cast her way.

      Orion unrolled the scroll, read the heading and handed it to Ariel.  "It's addressed to you."
  'Dear Ariel,

  Not a day goes by that I do not think of and miss thee, Elora, Orion, Prime, and Arvia.  Thou art as precious to me as are my memories of Cyrus and mine own Queen Leene.

  Lately I have had forebodings regarding Schala.  We ne'er did ascertain her fate after the Ocean Palace disaster.  For her own self I would help her to the limits of my strength, for she was most good and fair of deed.  But I am also mindful that she is thine ancestor and her fate could affect thee, thy line, and also my beloved Queen Leene.

  I crave a favor from thee, my princess.  Please, use the Wings of Time to aid me in finding Gaspar and asking him to read this tangle of Time lines.  My heart is sore affrighted within me and I would do anything to safeguard Schala, Queen Leene, thee and thy descendants.

  There is a lone tree that o'erlooks the water in a clearing near where Orion's house will be.  He must know of it.  Please, bring Ark and look for me there.

I remain, faithfully thine,

      "Wow, even his letters sound like him with all the 'thees' and 'thous',"  Elora noted.

      "Elora, what state is the Wings of Time in?"  Orion asked after a moment of thought.

      "It's at Melchior's.  As usual Ark is ready to fly or Time trip, but we have to be careful.  We can't risk changing something,"  Elora cautioned.

      "Alpha's note is pretty clear.  He's concerned and he knows about Ark and Time travel.  If we get him and go directly to Gaspar at the End of Time, there's no way we would hurt anything..."  Ariel said.

      Elora paced a little.  "Well, no...  And I don't want to let Alpha down.  It would be super to see him again, but we can't just rip through Time to visit friends."

      "We aren't.  Alpha feels there's some trouble in the Time stream.  I feel kinda edgy too.  This isn't a simple visit.  If we changed something that shouldn't have been changed, it's our responsibility to set it right again.  Elora, go home, get your gear.  We'll meet you there,"  Orion decided.

      Ariel returned to her room and retrieved her adventuring gear.  She donned her Prism Dress, grasped her crossbow Valkyre, took up her backpack full of various tonics, ethers and other such stuff and met Orion in front of the castle.  They stashed her bow and gear in a tree near Orion's house.  They went up to Orion's room where a Clone of him stood in a corner holding Orion's best adventuring gear.  Orion unbuckled the sword belt and handed it to Ariel.

      "How creepy!  Why do you keep it here?"  Ariel asked.

      "Oh, I got it to remind me of all you guys did to save me,"  Orion admitted.

      "Well that's a little less weird, but doesn't it bother you at night?  Sleeping with it staring at you?"

      "'s kinda like you, Elora, Alpha, Prime and Arvia are watching over me, protecting me.  It's actually comforting.  I mean, you guys broke Time and space to bring me back...  Well prevent me dying.  I couldn't ask for better friends.  The Clone reminds me of that,"  Orion told her.

      "Seen that way it's not too creepy," Ariel replied.

      "Anyway that's one reason why we have to see what Alpha needs.  He wouldn't reach across hundreds of years just because he's lonely.  There is a reason.  He's our friend and he's asking our help.  It's a no-brainer really,"  Orion offered.

      "Lead on!  To Elora's house we go!"  Ariel sang out.

      From Elora's they used the Magic Waterspout to Heckran's cave and from there walked to Melchior's hut.

      "What brings you over today?"  Melchior asked.

      They told the Guru of Life all they knew and showed him Alpha's letter.

      "I've felt no ripples in Time, but my specialty is Life, so perhaps I wouldn't.  I know my memories are mixed, sometimes I remember the Black Omen hanging over my hut, but other times it is as if it never existed,"  Melchior said.  "If you are cautious, collect Alpha and go immediately to Gaspar at the End of Time, I can see no harm.  Do not let anyone see you!  Keep Ark low to the ground and away from where you know people are,"  Melchior further cautioned.

      "We will, Melchior.  Thanks!"  Orion promised.

      "Is it just me or does Ark seem happy to see us?"  Ariel asked.

      "Gaspar did say that Ark had a mind and soul of its own.  It did follow us when Orion was – lost,"  Elora reminded her.

      "Now the tree Alpha mentioned should be over here,"  Orion muttered as he carefully piloted the ship just above the trees to a spot near his house.

      Orion set the compass and Ark sailed through Time to come to rest in the same place in the Middle Ages.

      Glenn watched as the Wings of Time materialized just above the treetops, the chrono-distortion sending a ripple through the air that quickly vanished.  He approved of the way the Ark landed swiftly to minimize its impact in this Time.  He gathered his gear and strode through the forest to where the Time ship landed.

      Ariel was on the ground scanning the woods on the other side and Orion was helping Elora down.  Seeing his friends again caused a lump to rise in Glenn's throat.

      Orion turned from assisting Elora and caught sight of Glenn.

      "Oh, no!  We're in the wrong place!  Board again, quickly!"  Orion said in dismay as he advanced rapidly toward Glenn.  The girls jumped to obey his order.

      "Good sir, we are so sorry to have caused trouble for you..."  he began.

      "Thou idiot.  It's me, Alpha, er, Glenn,"  Glenn said with a lopsided smile.

      Orion's eyes widened as he stared at Glenn's human form.  He staggered back a step, tripped and sat down hard on the ground.  Elora and Ariel reversed and descended to the ground again.  Glenn reached a strong arm down to assist Orion back to his feet.  Once he was upright again Orion noticed that he had to look up into his friend's laughing green eyes.  He had always been taller than Alpha.

      "What happened?"  he asked in a daze as a delighted smile crept over his face.

      "What are you doing, Orion?  Where's Froggy?"  Elora demanded as Ariel and she walked up.

      "Here, right here.  Alpha...  Glenn has somehow been restored to his natural form!"  Orion grinned.

      "Ooh, you handsome guy!  You never told us you were a total hunk!"  Elora chided.

      "You are utterly gorgeous,"  Ariel added quietly.

      "So, Glenn,"  Orion turned from watching the girls swallow their amazement.  "Just how did you return to human form?"

      "After Lavos' defeat, after King Guardia and I return'eth here from the Gate in Leene Square,"  Glenn began as he swept his hair out of his face with a graceful gesture.  "I begged his leave and traversed about trying to come to terms with all our travels had accomplished.  I visited some of the people who assisted us, Tata's going to be a fine guardsman, by the way, and tried to decide what I should do with the rest of my life.  I returned to my pad,"  everyone groaned and Glenn smiled broadly at his own pun.  "Which showed me that I could ne'er again be content with only that solitary existence.  Setting Cyrus to rest and saving Orion has lifted much of the sorrow from my soul,”  Glenn's eyes unfocused and his gaze lifted over their heads recalling the powerful memories.

       He continued,  “I know it may'eth sound silly, but I visited Cyrus' tomb and talked to him.  No, he didst not show up and answer me but I felt as if he were endeavoring to tell me something.  Finally, after more traveling, I felt strong enough to go to where it happened;  where Cyrus was slain and I transformed.  When I went to the waterfall near where I first woke as a frog under, I felt – strange.  As I stood under the cascade of water, I could feel magic gathering about me.  It enter into me and I changed;  not back into the gangly youth I had been, but well – this.  The man I would have been had I ne'er been made into a frog.  Magus claim'eth his death would break my curse, perhaps I had to go back to where it happened to let the reversal take place."

      "Hmph!  I think it was my kiss!"  Ariel said, remembering the surprise Alpha had shown when she kissed him before he left Leene Square.

      "Well, then ne'er kiss me again, fair damsel, for I desire not a return to being a frog!"  Glenn laughed as he gently teased her.

      "We'd better make sure,"  Ariel teased in return.  She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Glenn's cheek.  "See?  No change!"

      "Oh, I don't know..."  Elora said.  She too kissed Glenn on his other cheek.  "I think he's blushing.  That's a significant physiological change!"

      Orion snorted.  "Are you two quite finished?"  he demanded, glaring at the two girls.  Ariel looked into Orion's eyes, giggled, nodded and turned away. 

   Elora cupped her chin, regarded the humoring expression on Glenn's face, gently kissed his cheek again and said,  "For now."  Glenn laughed at Orion's consternation.

      "Seriously, what's the trouble?"    Orion asked.

      "My dreams have been troubled of late and a sense of dark foreboding fills the quiet part of my days.  I fear Schala, and through her, Leene, thou, Ariel, and the entire future of the Guardia line is in danger.  Also, a few days a-gone the Masamune gain'eth in power again when I was knighted,"  Glenn responded turning a troubled gaze upon Ariel.

      "You were knighted?  Way to go, Froggy – er, Glenn!"  Elora cheered.

      "Twice knighted actually.  Once as Alpha and then again as 'Cyril',"  Glenn admitted.

      "Cyril?"  Ariel asked.

      "The name I took when I was transformed back.  'Alpha' is a great Hero an' I have no desire to be treated – well, famous.  'Glenn', in a way, is dead since I can ne'er return to who I was and, well, 'Cyril' is close enough to 'Cyrus' for me to honor him.  I think of him as I honor my vow to watch o'er Queen Leene,"  Glenn explained.

      "Of course!  Sir Cyril!  There's mention of him all through the castle records...  I assumed it was Cyrus' brother.  Now it makes sense!"  Ariel said.  "We were concerned, we scanned the royal archives and could find no exploits of Alpha's.  We thought you had gone back to the Cursed Woods, we'd no idea you'd returned to human.  Oh, the adventures you...  Oh!  I better not say anything more!"  Ariel covered her mouth with both hands and looked at Glenn with stars in her eyes.  Glenn wondered just what adventures were in store for him and whether the reality would match up with the history Ariel had read.

      "You said the Masamune powered up again?"  Orion prompted Glenn quickly.

      Glenn hid his smile at his friend's slight jealousy as he responded.  "They can now speak to me in my mind.  'Tis rather disconcerting.  But it seems every time my sword gain'eth in power we are called upon to do more.  I think the Masamune's gain in ability is connected to the peril I fear Schala may be in.  I ask of thee to convey me to the End of Time.  I must converse with Gaspar regarding these strange forebodings for I canst not see them clearly or be certain I am reading them aright.  I am glad to see all of you again, e'en though we may be once again called into danger;  I could ask for no better friends to be by my side.  Now, let us board and be off,"  Glenn urged.

      Orion reached for Glenn's pack and went around the back of Ark to stow it.  Glenn bowed slightly to Ariel as he offered.  "Dost thou care for mine assistance, my princess?"

      Ariel giggled as she accepted Glenn's help up to Ark's seats.  After he seated her he leaped lightly to the ground again.

      "And thou, my Wonder Worker?"  Glenn asked Elora as he landed next to her.

      "Wonder Worker?"  Ariel teased as Glenn settled Elora into the seat next to her.

      "I notice you let him call you 'princess',"  Elora replied archly as Glenn leaped down.

      "Yeah, well, he has such dreamy green eyes.  I'm sure it'll get just as tedious as when you and Orion say it soon enough.  More's the pity.  'My princess.'  My ancestress had all the luck,"  Ariel mused.  The two girls were still giggling when Orion vaulted into the driver's seat.  Glenn followed directly after, turning a somersault in the air before landing lightly on the wing next to Orion.  Orion gaped at him.

      Glenn smiled gently.  "I have a few, very slight abilities from my ten years as a frog.  I am an expert tumbler, not quite enough for me to have retained Leap Slash, and I am afraid I can no longer work with thee to perform Spire.  Is there enough room for me to sit next to thee?  With four of us traveling the Time stream together, the ride should prove rather bumpy."

        Orion shifted and they found there was indeed enough room.  He set the time compass and called out.  "Next stop, the End of Time!"

      The white ship lifted gently into the air, rose to just above the tree tops and silently slipped into the time stream.  Just as Glenn had predicted the ride was more exciting than usual.


Fan Fiction / Re: Dipping my toe in with a brand new CT fic
« on: September 25, 2020, 11:03:11 pm »
Glenn stared morosely into the cup of ale between his hands.  He sat in the dimmest corner of the Cafe, the furthest away from the bar and the other patrons, on a rickety stool with one leg shorter than the others, and an equally ramshackle table.  It was something of a torture to be here, near enough to listen and witness the brightness and vivacity of human companionship, and not able to take part, but, try as he might, every fortnight or so he simply couldn't stand the isolation and loneliness of his modest dwelling in the Cursed Woods.  That was when he would come here, offer to complete some chore, usually heavy work and always outside, for the Cafe owner who paid him a little in coin, but mostly in drink.  He would spend the evening here, in his little corner, trying to be as invisible as possible, drinking his ale, soaking in the sights and sounds and scents of fellow human beings, longing to be able to join in. 

He had learned that if he did anything, anything at all, other than take a roundabout path to the back corner of the bar to get a refill, or, make his way to the exit to leave, the patrons would fall silent and stare.  When he had, for the first and only time, offered an opinion about a topic of hot discussion, the Cafe had fallen completely still and silent until he drained his cup and left.  If he tried to scoot his chair out of the dark corner, the nearest patrons would get up and pointedly move as far from him as they could.  He had learned over the months the bitter lesson that they would tolerate his presence here as long as he stayed quiet and mostly unseen on the edges, and probably only that because he did the chores that the Cafe owner could find no one else willing to do.  That was the extent of his usefulness, so this was the extent of their tolerance of his presence among them.

The low background hum of conversation abruptly ceasing made him look up from his intent study of how the bubbles disturbed the surface of the amber ale in his cup.  A soldier, clad in the distinctive armor of a Guardia knight, stood in the doorway.

“A knight?”

“, so that...”

“...Guardia castle...”

“...bridge to...”

“Hey!”  The Cafe owner called over the murmurs.  “Does this mean that confounded bridge has been rebuilt, again?”

“It does indeed,”  the knight nodded.  “Once I've made the rounds to inform the rest of the fine citizens of Porre, I'd appreciate an ale.”

“You got it!”

Glenn slipped out of the cafe before the knight returned.  In almost a daze, he returned home, absently threading the path through the Cursed Woods that didn't provoke his amphibian neighbors into attacking.  He looked around the cave and the improvements he'd made to it, having crafting over the months bed, table, chair, chests, and a ladder, mostly out of a need to keep busy in his loneliness than anything else.  The cave didn't feel like 'home', but it did feel comfortable.  But, with the bridge now repaired, he had no excuse to avoid returning to the castle.  He hadn't let himself think about it, what returning to the castle would be like, dreading the day his duty to impart the news about Cyrus' death to the king and queen arrived. 

His apprehension was stronger than ever, he had learned the hard way over the past few months that everyone regarded him as something of a tolerable monster.  Glenn feared this understandable, but still unconsciously cruel, behavior would be rife at the castle, too.  It would be even worse because these were people he knew, and who knew him, though they wouldn't realize it.  He admitted to himself this why he had been relieved Magus Army kept tearing the bridge repairs apart, and keeping the northern and southern continents separated.

Glenn traveled at night, deciding to cross the bridge when it was most likely to be deserted.  Regarding the span across the water, and the water itself, or rather, its length, depth, and relative calmness, he realized to his dismay and shame that in his current form, the lack of a bridge was no impediment.  He was fully capable of swimming between the two continents, and had been since the beginning.  It was not until he was on the bridge, fittingly near the place Cyrus liked to stand and regard the horizon, that he realized this also meant that he could have swum across instead of chartering that disastrous boat ride.  He could have laid Cyrus to rest in Guardia's Forest as he wanted to, instead of in the grave located who knows where.  “Oh, Cyrus, the depths of my failure compound!  You never would have trusted me with the charge to care for Queen Leene, if you only knew...!”  But, the charge had been laid, and accepted.  Glenn squared his shoulders, steeled what scant resolve he had remaining, and made his way across to the northern continent, the castle, and his destiny there.

His resolve crumbled underneath him once he got there.  He was met with the deepest of misgivings when he presented himself at the castle gates, and requested an audience with the king and queen.  That, he expected.  What he hadn't expected was to hear Cyrus' name in pretty much every single conversation.  The guards spoke of the supposed powers of the Hero's Medal and the Masamune;  they recounted Cyrus' legendary prowess with all manner of weaponry;  they talked of how they would – once Cyrus was back, successful from his quest and even more able with the legendary powers of both Hero's Medal and Masamune – crush the Mystics as Cyrus led them to victory over Magus and his army.  They said openly that they couldn't possibly win without Cyrus leading them, and that once he was back, all would be well, again.

Hope, Glenn realized. Cyrus is their one and only hope.  He imagined telling the king and queen that Cyrus was dead.  He knew the shock would be great, even if he kept to himself the full extent of the horror and manner of Cyrus' death, but, the way the guards were talking...  He realized he would be stripping all hope from Guardia – king, queen, knights, soldiers, citizens – all at once – for not only was Cyrus dead, but he had possessed both Hero's Medal and the Masamune when he was killed. 

The broken hilt of the legendary Masamune rested in the chest Glenn had made to hold it back in his cave.  He was painfully aware of how shocking the sight of the broken weapon was, and thought to spare anyone else from enduring it, until he found someone skilled enough to reforge it.  He only hoped he wouldn't need the original blade itself to accomplish that already monumental task.

The Hero's Medal Glenn wore above his heart, but hidden under his tunic, to honor Cyrus.  It reminded him of his promise to avenge Cyrus and slay Magus.  Maybe, once I accomplish that, news of Cyrus' death won't demoralize everyone so severely.

Glenn's own thoughts gave him pause.  Was he really considering not telling King Guardia and Queen Leene of Cyrus' death?


“There's, uh, a frog to see you, Your Majesty.”

“Your pardon, Clive?”  King Guardia looked up and pinned his guard with a stern gaze.

“Uh, yes, Your Majesty.  And the queen, it, er, he seeks audience with Her Majesty, too,”  Clive stammered.

“A frog, you say?”

“Er...”  the guard's face reddened dramatically within his helmet.  “Yes.  That is...  yes.  He's a frog, sire.”

“Well, then, my curiosity has been well and thoroughly piqued.  Escort this 'frog' in, Clive,”  the king turned toward Leene.  “Either this is an elaborate practical joke or the guards are standing too long on duty, again.” 

Queen Leene, having spied the individual as he entered the throne room, lifted her eyebrows in surprise and tipped her head toward the far archway where Glenn stood, flanked closely by two guards.  “Or, there may be an even stranger reason.”

“Hmm, I see,”  King Guardia admitted, watching Glenn intently as the guards brought him to stand in front of the dais upon which the thrones stood.  “Can it be that you speak?”

“Aye, Your Majesty, I can speak,”  Glenn replied. 

“Marvelous!  What do you here?  Sent by Magus or Ozzie to open negotiations?”  King Guardia asked.

Glenn shook his head vigorously.  “No, I have nothing to do with those – those – monsters!”

The guard on his left guffawed at that, then, at the king's sharp glance, straightened his spine and looked straight ahead again.

The king stepped down from his throne, circled around Glenn and looked at him curiously from all angles.  Once the king faced him again, he stared into Glenn's face for a long, deeply uncomfortable moment.  “I am utterly fascinated by you.  Not really a frog, not as we know them to be, small, muck-dwelling creatures of pond and stream, but you most certainly bring them to mind.  What manner of creature are you?”

“I am – constrained against speaking of it to any great length, but I can assure you that frog though I may appear, I am a man,”  Glenn replied honestly.

King Guardia considered that.  “I admit you behave like a man, and speak as one, too.  What do you here?”  he asked again.  “Why have you come to the castle?”

“To speak with you, Your Majesty, but more to fulfill a vow I made, to Sir Cyrus, to guard the queen.”

“Cyrus?!  You have met him?  Where is here?”  the king asked in a rush.

“I know not, now.”  Glenn wished this statement was not the truth.  He had no idea where he had finally buried Cyrus.  “Months ago he placed upon me the most solemn duty to return to Guardia Castle and guard Queen Leene.  I would have been here sooner, but have been unable to cross from the southern continent until the bridge was rebuilt.”

“Why?”  King Guardia asked.  “Why would he send you to guard the queen?”  He shrugged his shoulders.  “Who are you that he would place such a charge on you?  Your story makes no sense.”

“I wish...  there were a way I could explain...”  Glenn mused aloud his gaze darting frantically between king and queen.  They had to understand!

“Well, absent that explanation, Frog, though you seem earnest and harmless enough, we have given enough time to this diversion.  Guards, please escort him from the castle.  Gently, there is no reason to add to whatever else his burdens are, but firmly.  There is no place for you, here,”  King Guardia looked into Glenn's eyes, nodded decisively, and returned to his throne.

“B-but, my promise to Cyrus!”  Glenn exclaimed in dismay, settling his gaze on Queen Leene's face.  “I shall be forsworn!”

“We have only your claim that you even met my knight, Frog.  And you are here, in this troubling form.  If not sent by Magus, perhaps to spy upon us, then clearly one he has turned his baleful magic upon.  I knew his dark magic could raise my fallen soldiers to fight for him as fearsome undead, but this – you.”  King Guardia shook his head.  “We do not need any one touched by magic here.  Certainly not near my queen.”  Glenn could see a flash of something cross her face – unhappiness, perhaps?  But it was too fast for him to determine exactly what it was.  It unsettled him that she hadn't uttered a word, though she did look at him.  Leene had always been kind to Glenn and this coolness in her as she regarded him dismayed him greatly. 

“Oh, my queen!”  Glenn took one step toward her and dropped to his knees before the guards could react.  “I crave thy kind regard!  Would'st thou consider'est my plea?  I seek not to harm thee or thine, but only to honor my vow to thy knight, Sir Cyrus, who place'th this duty upon me!”

“Enough of this!”  the king roared.  “Time enough has been given, guards, remove him, now!”

“Wait!”  Queen Leene called.  She stood, stepped down from her throne and walked toward Glenn.  “Why – why did you change?”

Change? Glenn thought furiously.  Change – what?  Himself?  He didn't, and, and...  “Pardon, Thy Majesty?”

Leene smiled.  “That.  You spoke in plain terms until my husband concluded your audience.  Why have you now started to speak in the high language of bygone times?”

Oh.  He hadn't even realized he did.  I wonder why? Then, he had it.  That summer day more than two years ago, when Cyrus and he had revived the old high court language for a time.  It had been for her – for Queen Leene.  She had been melancholy and nothing seemed to cheer her.  Cyrus, before he was elevated to Knight Captain, was her guard for the day.  Glenn, as Cyrus' squire was deemed sufficiently skilled to serve as the second guard for the queen, so it was just the three of them.  Cyrus sent Glenn to the kitchen to beg for a picnic lunch, and convinced Queen Leene that an outing for fresh air might do her good.

Glenn never quite knew why, perhaps it was the bright sun, fresh air, and springy grass affecting him, but he began to turn cartwheels, somersaults and other acrobatic tricks.  Leene had clapped her hands at his tumbling prowess, spurring him to greater and greater attempts.  Cyrus began to announce and narrate Glenn's moves, offering mostly snarky asides of his opinion of how well the moves were executed, which delighted Leene ever further.  Glenn stopped his acrobatics, and began to play at being a court jester, trying as hard as he could to get her to laugh.  Cyrus followed the change and began to act as the most proper of all knights, offering Leene the most pretty compliments in the stilted, overly polite, artificially distant language of a knight to his liege lady, and the combination of the two of them, silly jester and courtly knight, managed the feat of cheering her up.  After that day, whenever Cyrus or Glenn noticed that Queen Leene was a bit sad, they would say something, just a phrase here or there, in that stilted high court manner when she could overhear them, and she would, more often than not, smile.

“Frog though I appear, within my heart I yearn to be a knight.  I vowed to Sir Cyrus, whom I greatly respect, from within my deepest honor to guard thee.  I would be as a knight to thee, my queen, guarding thee most carefully from any threat, ensuring thy safety and ease of mind, in satisfaction of this vow.  The knights of old regard'eth the ladies in their care with the highest of ideals.  That is what I feel toward thee, in response to my vow to Sir Cyrus.  Please, my queen, consider'est my plight and have pity upon me.  I would be shamed beyond all bearing to break my word to Sir Cyrus,”  Glenn said aloud.

Queen Leene considered that.  “It is true that Sir Cyrus is my most favored knight.  I don't believe you are trying to deceive us.  I cannot help but believe that you did meet Cyrus and he, for whatever reason, exacted this promise from you.  I trust him, so far be it from me to thwart his wishes in this matter.  Of course,”  Leene turned toward King Guardia.  “my husband has the final say, but I urge you, dear, please consider again your decision.”

Glenn looked from queen to king and back again, trying to sense the atmosphere between them.  He looked up, locked gaze with the queen, and as he was already on his knees before her, spoke simply from his heart.  “I solemnly pledge, with the fullness of my will, and complete clarity of my heart, to guard and protect thee, Queen Leene, with all the strength of my body, with all the quickness of my mind, and with all the skill of mine arms, to my dying breath.  Any who would'st trouble thee, must first get past me.”

Leene smiled a shade more warmly at him, while everyone else, including the king, gasped.  Only then did Glenn realize that he had uttered the formal vow to protect the queen that every Guardia knight swore to uphold.  Queen Leene turned from him, stepped upon the dais, and sat once more upon her throne.

“I don't know who you are or why Cyrus would send you to us, but I sense sincerity and no-ill will in you.  On the strength of my trust in Sir Cyrus, I accept your pledge.  But...  I don't think you can make your dwelling here in the castle.  Therefore, I ask the king to permit you freedom of access to leave and return to Guardia Castle at your will.”

“Leene!”  King Guardia protested.

Queen Leene turned and smiled at her husband.  “Dear, if Cyrus trusts him, how can I not?  And if he is able to serve as one of my guardsmen, does that not free up another to serve elsewhere in this war?”

“We can use all the capable men we can get,” the king muttered.  “But, your safety is more important!”

“And, you have my pledge already that I will not leave the castle.  If one guarding me is a little different, no offense,”  She glanced over at Glenn.  “and his presence frees a battle-ready warrior, again, no offense, is that not a boon?  Perhaps this is why Sir Cyrus sent such an – unusual person to guard me,”  Leene suggested.

“But, freedom of access to the castle at will?  He could be a spy!”

“No spy of Magus' would address me as he did,”  Leene replied.  “Only Cyrus and Glenn ever used the old high court language.”

“That is true.  Cyrus must have sent him,”  King Guardia agreed, finally nodding his acceptance of Queen Leene's suggestions.

“Please – Frog – attend to me,”  Queen Leene asked, gathering her skirts in her hands as she rose from her throne again.  “I am weary and wish to return to my room.”  Glenn stood and bowed toward the king before walking through the archway on the queen's left toward the corridor that led to the staircase rising to her tower rooms.  Once they had made their way to her chamber, the queen dismissed all her attendants and guards, but for one, to the doorway out of earshot with a soft word, seated herself on a far more simple chair than her ornate throne below, and picked up a piece of embroidery.  “I find it somewhat interesting that you knew the way to my tower without being told,”  she said mildly, gazing down at the needlework in her lap.

Uh-oh!  Glenn thought.  “Cyrus spoke'th of his devotion to thee and thy King often, Thy Majesty.  This castle was his most favored of places in all the world.  From his fond and vivid stories, I feel as if I know the pathways in the castle already,”  Glenn improvised quickly.  If Queen Leene learned his true identity, he would have to reveal what had happened to Cyrus and he still couldn't bear to think what that would do to her – and everyone else.

“Hmm.”  Queen Leene placed a few more stitches in the piece, then set it aside.  “I don't suppose you will tell me anything of what I can only imagine must be your – most colorful history?”

Glenn closed his eyes for a long moment to gather his thoughts.  This was going to be harder and more painful than he thought, safeguarding Leene without revealing who he really was.  He sought out her gaze again, and hoped that whatever his eyes looked like now they would convey the depth of his sincerity.  “I would not wish to trouble thy peace of mind with the horrors that brought me here – in this form.  There is tragedy and sorrow in my wake I would remain'eth private.  'Twould give'st thee nightmares, my queen.”  Glenn bowed, to break the compassionate gaze with which Leene regarded him before it broke down his resolve to maintain his secret.  It was tearing at him that he couldn't tell her, and perhaps ease some of his sorrow by sharing it.  “Please, Thy Majesty, allow'est me to guard thee and tend upon thee to the best of my ability, and allow'est me to hold my sorrows in the silence of my heart.  I vow they will not interfere in my ability to attend to thee.”

Queen Leene waved her hand in front of her face a few times in a dismissive gesture before rising and pacing toward the window.  “That I am not in the least concerned about.  But, if I am to regard you as one of my guards, and therefore, one of my subjects, matters of your happiness or lack thereof do become my concern, as your liege.”  She stared out across the landscape as she said this.  Leene turned, walked back, and regarded him for a very long moment, before gracing him with a small smile.  She nodded her head decisively, once.  “But then again, each citizen is also in possession of a measure of privacy.  Forgive me – Frog.  I do not mean to pry in an unseeming manner.  Please accept my interest as deep concern, rather than simple curiosity.”  Leene sank gracefully to her chair again.  “The truth is I am very concerned, worried even, about Cyrus and his squire.  They left on a most important mission, and no one has brought us word of them.  Maybe we expect too much, but we thought they would have found the objects of their quest, and returned already.  Now, to have you return – in this state, speaking of Cyrus sending you to me...  My concern only deepens.”

Wait, she said 'return'?  Does that mean Queen Leene hath realized who I am?  I daren't ask, I don't want to confirm it, else I need to crush all hope about Cyrus, and the notion that the Hero's Medal, and the Masamune will aid us against Magus.

“But...”  Leene continued.  “My concern is mine and should trouble no one else.  Aren't we a pair, Frog?  I hold to my worry as firmly as you hold to your sorrow.  Well then,”  Leene stood again.  “For now, let us put both worry and sorrow aside and go to the kitchen.  I am famished and do not want to wait until dinnertime.  It's not very queenly to allow one's stomach to gurgle in hunger.”

“I daresay not, my queen!”  Glenn, despite himself, laughed, Leene's image was so vivid and slightly silly.  He could imagine the mild, slightly perplexed look King Guardia would toss his wife's way if such a situation every occurred, but the Chancellor's expression of affronted dignity would be the priceless one.

“King Guardia wishes to see you before you leave the castle,”  the guard at the front gate told Glenn nearly an hour later.  He had shared a snack with the queen, in the knights' dining hall next to the kitchen, of all places.  Glenn could not remember a time that Queen Leene had ever set foot into that hall, if she wanted something it was sent to her room.  But, as the knights filtered in and out of the hall, Glenn realized that Leene was, in her own way, trying to help him.  If she kept company with 'Frog' and shared a meal with him in the dining hall, how could the guards do otherwise?

Uh-oh.  Queen Leene seems to have accepted me, at least somewhat, but the king?  Mayhap I will be taken into custody or forbidden from returning to the castle.  Glenn had misgivings, but did not even think of disobeying the command.  He had sworn an oath as Cyrus' squire to obey King Guardia, Queen Leene, and any who were lawfully placed in command over him.  Even though no one knew that he was bound by this oath, and therefore he would not be held to any sort of accounting if he broke it, he knew.  Cyrus had warned him that the rigors of the path of the knight were not imposed from without, but from the depths of one's own heart – Glenn fully understood what his best friend had tried to tell him now.

“Of course.  Where may I find His Majesty?”  Glenn replied.

The guard rolled his eyes, clearly indicating with that gesture that he didn't trust Glenn at all in this guise.  “The king is in his study.  With his guards.  The best of our forces, if you take my meaning.”  The guard slowly closed his hand into a fist.  Unable to think of anything he could say to reassure the guardsman that he posed no threat at all to king, queen, or indeed anyone in Guardia, Glenn bowed his head slightly.

“Wherefore is this study of the king's?”  Glenn asked, determined not to give himself away, as he suspected he might have done with Queen Leene, by knowing where anything in the castle was before any could direct him.  Besides, it might reassure this guard that he wasn't some sort of spy if he didn't already know his way around the castle. 

How tedious!  Glenn thought as he followed the directions the guard at the gate had given.  He knew full-well they were wrong, the guard had his last turn to the left when he should go right toward the very end of the last corridor, but he knocked upon the wrong chamber door as if he didn't know that.

“Enter,”  the command came.

Glenn opened the door and stepped into the room, right into the dauntingly level and assessing gaze of one who wore the armor of the Knight Captain.  Of course, with Cyrus on a quest, a knight would have been elevated to fill that position until Cyrus returned to take it up again.  Glenn even recognized the knight who had assumed those duties, Sir Keldrin.  Though not the most senior of the knights, he was serious, capable, loyal to a fault, and a good choice to fill the role.  Glenn assumed that the guard has misdirected him on Sir Keldrin's order, so that the Knight Captain could determine for himself if Glenn was a threat before permitting him to enter King Guardia's presence again.

“So...  You are 'Frog'.  You claim to have met Sir Cyrus and been commanded, by him, to come to Guardia Castle to guard the queen.  I would know more of this meeting, as we are waiting for Sir Cyrus to return, take up his duties once more, and lead us against Magus in the Mystic War.”

Glenn didn't want to lie, but still believed the truth would level a devastating morale blow to Guardia that would leave it vulnerable to the Mystics.  “I am under – a curse, and cannot answer such questions as freely as I would wish,”  he said slowly.  “I know 'tis hard to consider trusting me, in this – odd form, but...”  He looked up into the other man's face.  “Sir Cyrus did place the command on me that I stated, to guard Queen Leene until such time as he could return.”  Glenn knew there would be no return as the man would assume from his words;  in his thoughts he imagined spreading Cyrus' ashes on the approach to the castle in the forest surrounding it.  “I have vowed to honor this command.  Thou wast present when I gave my formal oath to the queen.  Thou dost not know me,” in this shape, Glenn added in his thoughts, “but I implore thee to believe'st me when I claim that I do not take oaths lightly, and upon my very life will do all in my power to fulfill it.”

Sir Keldrin considered that while his gaze bore into Glenn's eyes.  “I cannot help but think you are sincere.  Still, a spy of Magus' sent to infiltrate the castle would be able to fake such sincerity.  I cannot gainsay the command of my king, or even the wishes of my queen – without proof positive.  Rest assured, your every step and word will be watched and measured.  If indeed you are a spy – my knights may dine upon the delicacy of frog legs, if you understand my meaning?”

Glenn shuddered involuntarily at that.  He himself had never seen the appeal of such exotic food even before Magus' curse, and now – the threat, so lightly given, was deeply horrifying.  “Perish the thought!”

“Hmm,”  Sir Keldrin said.  “When you exit this room, leave to the right, then present yourself to the guard on the very first door to your right.  That is the king's study.”

“If I know Sir Keldrin,”  King Guardia told him several minutes later.  “you have already been to see him.  None of us quite know what to make of you.  You could intend ill to my kingdom,”  Glenn started shaking his head at that, until the king held up one hand and continued.  “But, my queen trusts you enough to accept your oath.  That carries a great deal of weight with me.  Leene has always been a good judge of character.  I know well that Sir Keldrin will also keep you under his keen and suspicious gaze, and if you have somehow duped us, you will not succeed in whatever your nefarious plan might be.”

Glenn's head was spinning trying to decide if the king trusted him, or not.  Evidently, he trusted Glenn enough to have the knights guarding him remain by the door, giving his conversation with Glenn some small measure of privacy.  Then again, Glenn noticed the king had left off his heavy and hampering formal robes of office and wore his sword, not the ornamental one of court proceedings, but the serviceable and very sharp one he used in battle.  Glenn knew full-well King Guardia was a formidable swordsman in his own right.  Unarmed as he was, but for a small knife tucked into his belt, Glenn was aware the king was more than skilled enough to cut him down himself if he were of a mind to try anything, which Glenn knew he wasn't but the king had no way to...

“I see that you now feel some of the confusion that we feel regarding you,”  King Guardia said.  “While you are present in front of me, I believe in your sincerity and judge you benign, but when I think about it rationally, it makes little sense and that concerns me.  Someone, in the appearance of what my mind tells me is a frog, comes to the castle with an unbelievable tale, and pledges to protect my queen, ordered to do so by the knight I trust more than any other.”  Guardia stood up and paced to the window.  “It is the stuff of myths and legends, but if so, why does it feel so – ordinary?  Confusing, certainly, but mostly ordinary.  Aside from you, that is.  If we are truly caught up in a time of legends, would not everything feel more – special somehow?”

Aye, it should,  Glenn agreed in his thoughts.  The Masamune, a legendary sword, somehow containing untold power that could stop Magus.  The Hero's Medal, the special talisman that proved one was worthy to wield the legendary blade.  And Cyrus, a knight strong and true, fully capable to bear the mantle of 'Hero' and skilled enough, loyal enough, brave enough, and noble enough to confront that evil mage and –

Die horribly at his hands.  Or spell, as the case turned out to be.  Cyrus had been the stuff of legends.  Glenn didn't know what went wrong.  Perhaps Magus was even more legendary.

“I – admire Sir Cyrus, Thy Majesty.  Our meeting was brief,”  Glenn stretched the truth as Cyrus had never beheld him in this embarrassing form.  “But he doth implore me in what I can only relate as the depths of a desperate sincerity, to come here and guard Queen Leene.  I am honor-bound to do all in my power to follow that command.  If it is decide'th that I must be rejected from the castle, I shalt remain near to hand to do my utmost to guard Queen Leene should she step'eth foot outside its walls.  My life is given over to this vow.”

“That would be rather harsh on my part, or the part of the Knight Captain, to stymie you so.  Again, when I converse with you, you speak with such sincerity it is hard to mistrust you.”

“I realize my claim seems as ridiculous as I appear,”  Glenn said, wincing a little.  “But it is true.  Mayhap, as time goes by, my actions will reassure thee that I speak true.”

“Aye, that must be the way of it.  You are to be under observation whenever you set foot into the castle.  If you ever, ever seem as if you are about to harm Leene, or indeed, to trouble her in any way, you will not leave the castle again – not in one piece, anyway.”  The king's threat was uttered in an unnervingly even tone of voice.  Glenn had always admired and respected King Guardia, but now, just a little, he feared him, too.

“Thy Majesty, that would go against my solemn oath and more, ever fiber of my being.  Should I ever give thee such cause as to doubt'est me, it would be best for thee to act upon that promise, ere I should trouble Queen Leene,”  Glenn replied.

“Death before dishonor, hmm?”  King Guardia smiled at him, a wry smile, but one that held a banked measure of understanding.  “That I can respect.  So, Frog, my promise to you: if you should ever threaten the safety of my queen, or, how did you put it?  Trouble her?  Your span of days will come to an abrupt, most likely painful, end.”  Glenn bowed, his gesture meant to show his acceptance of the King's promise.  Guardia shocked him by stepping forward and offering his hand. 

Glenn stared at it for a long moment.  He'd been struck unconscious from blows to the head; put his coin down slowly and carefully on counters, then waited for shopkeepers to place the items he purchased down in turn and step well back before allowing Glenn to take them, all to avoid the chance that their hands might accidentally touch; stepped aside so that others could pass him without the possibility of contact on narrow paths – but since Magus' curse had taken hold of him months ago, he had not touched, nor been touched by any human being.  He looked up into the man's eyes and felt an unexpected rush of affection for the king.  He realized the irony of the situation, the king had just promised to kill him if he should ever make anyone worry that he would hurt the queen, but –

King Guardia, by making his promise, and extending his hand to finalize it, openly regarded him as a person – no matter how he appeared.  One did not offer formal promises, sealed with a handshake, to a beast or a monster.  “Aye, Thy Majesty.  Death is always preferable to dishonor.”  He took the king's hand in his own and accepted the three shakes the king gave him before releasing his grasp.

“As the queen wishes, you have permission to enter and leave the castle at will.  I will discuss the matter with Sir Keldrin to make my command known beyond any doubt.  For now, return to him before you leave and tell him that I commanded he give you whatever you require, that fits and suits your needs, from our armory.  I don't know what skills you have to protect the queen, but I recognize a swordsman's stance and bearing in you.  You need gear if you are to be an effective guard for her safety.”

Stunned, overwhelmed by the command and the tacit acceptance behind it, Glenn could find no words and found he could only bow in response.  The king waved his hand dismissing him, before turning back to his desk.

Glenn was surprised that Sir Keldrin didn't protest the order, given second-hand as it was.  He assessed Glenn with his gaze from top to bottom and Glenn was dumbfounded that there didn't appear to be any disdain or disgust behind it.  The Knight Captain actually seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding gear to fit properly and serve Glenn in this form.  Despite Keldrin's concern given Glenn's height, or lack thereof, Glenn found he could handle a sword.  He was nowhere near as proficient with it as before, but a normal sword was not so long or heavy he couldn't manage it.  Together they agreed that full armor such as a castle guard typically wore would be a mistake, the adjustments that would have to be made so some of the pieces would fit and stay on Glenn's frog-like shape would hamper his movement too much.  Additionally, he would require the help of someone else just to be able to put them on and take them off – help that Glenn was under no illusions would ever be offered to him.  A simple breastplate he could manage on his own, though, and fit well enough to offer some protection.

“If you are quick enough, a shield could suit you quite well.  Your shorter stature makes it easier to defend yourself without having to resort to armor.  Again, depending upon how quick you are,”  Keldrin opined.

“Take'st thou a swing at me,”  Glenn challenged.


Glenn shrugged, in part to settle the breastplate more comfortably across his shoulders.  “I need to know if I can fight and dodge if I am to be of any use protecting the queen.  Thou need'est to know the same.  So, take'st a swing at me.”

Glenn surprised them both with how far and how swiftly he was able to jump away from the sword blow Keldrin aimed at him.  He stumbled a bit upon landing.

“I haven't had cause to fight since I –”  Glenn explained sheepishly.  “My skills are rusty and – different than before.”

“Hmm.”  Keldrin assessed him again.  “Perhaps it is best for you to drill in private, for now, to polish those skills and master the differences.  Once you do to the point where you need live practice, tell me.  I should know by then who is reasonable enough to spar with you and not try to kill you.”

“Thank thee.”

“For now, go away for a few days.  You have thrown quite a challenge our way, Frog, and I need time to determine how my knights are going to respond to that challenge.  No, no, don't worry that I will bar you from the castle, I am sure Queen Leene would have my head if I were to try, but for now, you are too unsettling for us.  Give us some time to get used to the idea, before we must get used to you in the flesh.  And practice.  You have, or rather, had some skill, but it's too undisciplined now.  Develop your proficiency, then I can consider officially assigning you to guard the queen.  That is, if you haven't done something to make me consider killing you, first,”  Keldrin said.  Glenn didn't believe that the Knight Captain was teasing, despite the generous help he'd given.

“Aye.  I will train.  When I believe I am ready, and return here, I should...?”

“The guards will have orders to bring you to me, first, but they will grant you admittance,”  Keldrin declared.

Glenn nodded, and took his leave.


Back in the cave that he was resigning himself would now be his home, Glenn slung the pack from over his shoulder and dropped it to the table.  He unbuckled the sword-belt, with the new Bronze Edge still sheathed, and placed it next to the pack.  The cloak found a resting place draped over a chair.  It took Glenn a moment to figure out how to unbuckle and handle the breastplate so it wouldn't just crash to the floor, but he managed it.  He opened the pack to retrieve the polishing compound and rags for applying it to maintain his armor and sword and found a place for them in a chest.  Only then did Glenn realize the Knight Captain had filled the pack he provided with duplicates of nearly everything else he had given him.  There was a second tunic, trousers, pair of gloves, cloak and a few pouches of varying sizes.  He stepped back and regarded all the equipment spread across his table.  It was pretty much everything that was provided to a castle guard.  Glenn marveled at the generosity that inspired the Knight Captain to do this for him in spite of Sir Keldrin's stated suspicions.  Glenn realized that though he had not found the homecoming he now knew he craved from the castle, and he was openly regarded with deep distrust by nearly everyone, there were a few who were willing to look at him beyond those understandable concerns – Queen Leene, King Guardia, and the Knight Captain, at the very least.

“I am beset by vows and promises,”  Glenn sighed.  “So, I shan't add to them.  But, I know I threaten not any in Guardia Castle.  I will do everything in my power to honor the kindnesses, strange as they art, that were given to me today.”  He laughed.  “Kindnesses!  A royal death threat sealed with a handshake!”  Glenn took off his glove and regarded his right hand, the one the king had shaken.  Both had been bare-handed.  King Guardia had not recoiled in disgust for which Glenn was both grateful and comforted, despite the threat of death that preceded that handshake.  “Aye, I shall regard that as a kindness.  And dearest Queen Leene, her kindness was not mixed with anything else.  Are not ladies suppose'th to be repulsed by frogs?  Yet, never once did she appear to be disgusted by me.  Even if Cyrus hadn't asked, I would still want to guard her – will guard her, no matter how strange the form I wear to do so!  And...”  Glenn sighed deeply again.  “I am back to repeating vows.  Well, then...”

He crossed to the chest where he placed the broken hilt of the Masamune.  “I must figure out how to find one to reforge a legend.  I dare not face Magus without the Masamune in hand.”  He considered.  “Even if that means I die in the exact same way Cyrus did.”  He gazed at the broken weapon for many long, memory-filled minutes, before reverently putting it back in its place.  “Seeing as how I would rather face Magus and live, it would be best for me, as Sir Keldrin suggest'eth, to practice and master swords again in this form.”  He turned toward the table, reclaimed the sword belt and drew the Bronze Edge.  “Would it not be surprising if, though I am shorter now, I learn how to combine jump and sword-slash?  No one would'st expect an overhead attack when confronting me!”  Experimentally, Glenn tried it, somehow tripped over his own feet in the air, and fell to the ground in a graceless heap.  By some grace of fortune, the sword, which he dropped in the ill-fated attempt, didn't cut him.

“Mayhap I should build up to that,”  Glenn muttered, blushing even though no one had witnessed his clumsiness.  “Well, then, back to the basics.  Without being able to fight with a sword, I cannot fulfill even the least of my vows!”

Alone, in the cave that now served as his home, Frog, who in his former life had answered to the name 'Glenn', struck the most basic pose those aspiring to become a swordsman use, and began to practice.

~The End~

Fan Fiction / Re: Dipping my toe in with a brand new CT fic (Part Two)
« on: September 21, 2020, 01:27:57 pm »
Several weary days later, Glenn walked into Porre Village and made his way to the Cafe.  There he discovered the full misery of the curse Magus had placed upon him in how the patrons treated him.  Evidently, as he had strongly suspected given Ozzie's teasing just before Magus transformed him, he resembled a frog.  Fortunately, for whatever reason or another, the people were content to just joke and comment cruelly on his unique appearance, and not attack him or run him out of town.  He was able to stock up on supplies.  The Innkeeper was unnerved enough about his appearance that Glenn wasn't permitted to sleep in a bed, but he was allowed to sleep indoors on the reception area floor.   He learned that no one was aware of what had happened to either Cyrus or himself.  He also discovered that Magus' Army had destroyed Zenan Bridge, yet again.  There was no way for him to reach the northern continent.

He very much wanted to find a proper resting place for Cyrus' remains, and the peace of the forest surrounding Guardia Castle was what he decided upon for his friend.  But, over the next few days, he was stymied at every turn.  Try as he might, he could find no way to get to the northern continent.  He began to haunt the newly-built dock by the shore, asking every boat owner, including the smallest fishing boats, to take him to Truce or even just drop him anywhere along the coastline.  Not a single one, not for all the money he possessed, would agree.


“I could use a couple of mercenaries like you,”  Ozzie said.  “The biggest problem with this Mystic War is, you know, the Mystics.  Fanatical to a fault, but they don't have two brain cells to rub together.  You could be officers in the Great Mystic Army – provided Lord Magus is impressed with you.  I could put in a good word – depending upon how you do on this mission.”

“Eh,”  Slash said.  “War, officer, Mystic, mage – none of that matters to me as long as the pay is good and I'm free to leave whenever I decide to go.”

“Hmm.  Magus, you say?”  Flea pursed his lips together.  “I've heard about him.  Is he as powerful as everyone claims?  Slash might be after the pay, but I am after power.  I find it – immensely attractive.”

“I have never seen magic more powerful,”  Ozzie replied in a rare moment of absolute candor.  “He will lead the Mystics to the triumph over the humans that we have longed for centuries untold to achieve.”

“Come on, Slash.  Just this one job.  Do it for me?  Pleeeease?”  Flea begged, batting his eyelashes.


“We're in!  What do we have to do?”  Flea asked.

“Or, who do we have to kill?”  Slash added.


Glenn finally found a boat whose captain was willing to take him to the northern continent, although, it was debatable if the man was a 'captain' and charitable to call his vessel a boat.  'Uncouth mercenary' and 'leaking, derelict wreck' were far more accurate, but Glenn wasn't about to say that aloud.  He was desperate.  The boat, its disreputable 'captain' and crew just had to get him near enough to the northern shore that he could swim to land.

But, it was not to be.  Just as they began to round the north-easternmost jut of land of the southern continent, a terrific storm kicked up.  The wind coming out of nowhere whipped the sea into waves of water so tall they threatened to swamp and capsize the boat.  The captain and his one, rather insane, crewmate laughed in the face of this storm, but Glenn was terrified out of his wits.  He didn't notice when the captain deliberately loosed the line keeping the boom trapped and never saw as it swung wildly across the stern of the boat where he was hanging on to the rail for dear life.  The boom struck him hard on the back of the head with enough force to sling him, unconscious, into the spell-maddened ocean.

Hours later, Glenn blearily opened his eyes and realized he was once again draped in an abandoned, graceless heap on a shoreline.  Ocean instead of stream this time, but he was getting mightily sick of waking and finding himself half in and half out of a body of water.


“The Northern Ruins,”  the Innkeeper said.  “That's the place for a beast like you, not my respectable Inn.  We serve human folk, here.  Now, git!”

Glenn hunched deeper into his cloak, and looked up pointedly at the storm dumping at least an ocean's worth of water on everything in great, sluicing, cold sheets of rain.  Returning his gaze to the door of the Inn, he hoped to find some hint that the Innkeeper would relent and permit him shelter from the storm, even if just on the floor of the entryway, but all that met his eyes was the stout, iron-reinforced wooden door that the Innkeeper had closed firmly between them.

You'd think that a frog wouldn't mind getting wet, but I do, I really do!  Glenn thought morosely.  “And, I'm not a beast!”  He declared, indignantly.  “Not – really.”

Not for the first time, Glenn wondered how human he was.  He felt the same, inside, even though his body felt so radically different, even now.  It had been days already, mayhap a week, since Cyrus was slain and himself changed.  He hadn't gotten used to it.  He hoped he never did.  Maybe, if he ever did get completely comfortable with this frog-like form, he would actually become a frog, not only in body,  but also in his mind and in his heart.  That might be easier to live with than this ever-present, deeply unsettled feeling inside what had once been his own skin, but...

How could he honor his promises to Cyrus if he did?  Better to fight against it, remind himself that though he might have green skin, webbed hands and feet, and the ability to leap several times his own height, that he wasn't a mere beast – he was still a human being where it counted the most.

“Well, then, the Northern Ruins it is.  At least until this deuced storm passes,”  Glenn decided.  Some time later he looked upon the edifice itself.  “I wonder what it was built for?  It doesn't resemble any type of building I know.”  He shook a weird feeling off, then rummaged about in the woods gathering whatever mostly dry material – wood, twigs, leaves and moss – he could find.  Adventuring with Cyrus he had learned how to craft a pallet with what the trees provided.  Would a beast make a bed for himself?  Aye, they would and they do.  Fine, would a frog make a bed for himself?  I think not!  A true frog would undoubtedly be content to spend the night sleeping in a pond somewhere.  Not me.  Let's hope these ruins have a somewhat solid roof so I can get out of this blasted rain and get dry again!


“This is more like it!”  Glenn said.  He was dry and he was warm, both conditions lifting his mood considerably.  He had opted to go up to the second level of the building, instead of down.  Aside from dust and a couple of piles of debris where the roof had given way here and there, the structure was fairly sound.  Exploring the rooms inside yielded no clue as to what the building had been built for – it wasn't a residence, it seemed ill-suited for use as an inn, store, cafe or keep.  Glenn concluded that was most likely why it was disused and falling gently into disrepair.  For now, it was a welcome shelter.  He had indeed been able to make a fairly comfortable pile of branches, leaves, and moss for a bunk, and had enough material left over to build a warming fire.  A hole in the roof in the corner of the room allowed the smoke to escape.  Most of the clothes he'd been wearing, soaked by both his dunking in the ocean, and then by the torrential rain still falling outside, were now spread across a few excess branches near the fire.  They steamed a bit as they dried.  Glenn sat down and took stock of the contents of his pack.

The pouch, that he had buried in the deepest, safest pocket of his pack was wet, but the precious contents were still dry, which relieved Glenn greatly.  He had feared that what remained of Cyrus would be lost before he could bury him with the respect and regard the knight, and his best friend, deserved.  Glenn found he still had a few coins left, after paying the huge price for the ill-fated boat ride that had landed him here.  The Hero's Medal and the broken hilt of the Masamune he placed reverently down next to Cyrus' remains.  His second set of clothes had mostly escaped the overall soaking of both ocean and rain, but were thoroughly damp.  He leaped up to spread them out to dry as well.

“That's kind of fun, actually,”  Glenn admitted aloud.  He realized that if he were in a room with a lower ceiling, he might have hit his head, he jumped that high.  “Oh, Cyrus!”  Glenn looked at the pouch containing his friend's remains.  “What am I going to do?  I know not where I am, and now that I am like this, there is no one to help me.  What am I to do now?”

Just then, his stomach gurgled, complaining about how long it had been since Glenn last ate.  “You'd tell me to eat, undoubtedly, and sleep, and assess the situation in the morning when the light of day would make the world seem less scary, and the problems not so insurmountably large,”  Glenn said.  Suiting action to words and the imagined advice of his absent friend, Glenn ate some of the rations he had purchased in Porre.  As he did so, to avoid ruminating upon the problems facing him, mainly, trying to figure out where he was and how to get back to Guardia, he wondered just what Magus had turned him into.  He was larger than any natural frog he'd ever seen; he seemed to retain his mind, intellect, memory and emotions; and while he still felt wrong, like a stranger in his own body, his sight, hearing, and sense of touch seemed unchanged.  Food smelled and tasted the same and he had no weird new cravings to find other than human food to eat for which he was more than grateful.

What alarmed Glenn the most was the seeming ease and terrifying rapidity with which Magus had cursed him.  Magus had struck him down with the same casual, dismissive ease with which he'd broken the Masamune and killed Cyrus.  If such potent magic was so easily wielded by their foe, he feared that Guardia could not stand for long against it, which made it all the more urgent he find out where he was, and how to return home.


For now, Ozzie was content to wait on Slash's boat, away from the notice and prying eyes of the townspeople.  He knew Glenn had been unable to find shelter in the town itself, so he'd gone to the ruins.  Flea, indulging in his love for disguises, spent most of his time in the Cafe, drinking, listening to, and contributing to the gossip.  The townspeople didn't know what to make of Glenn, other than he was some sort of strange beast who could be seen dragging unknown items into the Northern Ruins from time to time.  Some speculated that it was treasure, while others whispered that he was concealing the bodies of foes he'd slain.  The fact that no townspeople had gone missing or turned up dead did not put these lurid rumors to rest.  The only place in town that would have anything to do with him was the shop.  Flea made sure to keep the whispers that Glenn was somehow a more dangerous monster than anyone realized swirling.  He liked his assignment and played up his role eagerly.

Meanwhile, Slash spied on Glenn from within the ruins.  He watched whatever Glenn did, listened to and memorized anything he said aloud, and reported back to Ozzie.


I can't stay here.  I have to get back to Guardia and let the King and Queen know what happened to Cyrus and me.  They have to know that Magus is far more powerful than we ever suspected.  Glenn knew what he had to do, he just had no idea how to go about it.  He didn't know where in the world he was.  It wasn't as if he could ask, since the townspeople feared him so much.  He could see the ocean to the south, past the town, and to the east.  The shore to the west was where he'd awakened here.  North of the ruins there were mountains.  There didn't seem to be any boats, not even for fishing, like he had found in Porre.  It seemed as if the people were content to stay right here on their land and had no desire to go anywhere else.

Glenn blearily concluded that he was going to have to swim for it, if he wanted to leave.  He had no idea which way to go or how far he would have to swim before finding another shore.  He wrestled with the decision for days.  He'd been lucky once, with Cyrus' ashes and the ocean, but he didn't want to risk ruining or losing them.  He finally concluded that he would have to bury Cyrus here, in this unknown and somewhat hostile land – at least for now.  Once he made it back to Guardia, as long as he remembered how he got there, he could return here to take Cyrus to his final resting place.  Far better to give him a temporary grave than to risk losing him entirely.

And, no better place to bury him than here, in the Northern Ruins.  No one came here.  There was no reason for anyone to come here.  It was out of the way from the town, and didn't have anything the townspeople needed or wanted.  As he had explored the ruins, Glenn discovered a likely place to set a temporary grave for his friend in an out of the way chamber on the very bottom floor of the structure.  Even if someone were to come to the Northern Ruins, they would be far more likely to want to go up, as he did, than to risk going down, when the state of the building might make one wonder if it would fall down on one's head.

It took him a few days to dig down deep enough for his satisfaction.  Meanwhile, in his explorations of the shores he had found a stone that would make a credible headstone to mark the grave.  As of yet he had no way to carve an inscription on it, but just finding the stone was a huge leap in the right direction.


“What has he been up to today?'  Ozzie asked as Slash swung himself over the railing and onto the deck of the boat.

“Digging a hole in the ground on the bottom floor of that wreck of a building,”  Slash replied.  “He dragged that stone down there, too.”

“Burying Cyrus, no doubt.  Maybe he gained something of a spine when Magus spelled him.  I think he's thinking of leaving and trying to find his way back to Guardia,”  Ozzie said.  “Not that we are going to let him manage that!  Haw, haw!”

“You have a plan?”  Flea asked, twirling a lock of his long hair around a finger.  He'd arranged his hair in fetching ringlets today.

“Of course!  If Glenn has no idea where he is, and how could he, and he can't remember how he got back to oh, Porre maybe, or Dorino, there's no way he will ever find Choras again.  No one ever comes here from Guardia.  Besides, he's a frog now.  More than likely they will stab him through when he tries to enter the castle, if they even let him get that close.  We will let him torture himself a bit longer over dear, departed Cyrus,”  Ozzie sneered.  “and then bring this tragic little drama to an end.  I'm pretty bored with it – and Glenn – now.”


He knew he had to do it, place Cyrus' ashes in the hole he'd dug under the ruins, cover them over with earth, and set the stone in place.  He had to leave, but remember every step of the way so that he could find this place again.  He knew he would have to depart soon, otherwise he wouldn't have enough supplies to even consider leaving this alien land and finding his way to Guardia again.  He didn't want to.  He didn't want to leave his friend here, all alone.  It felt like he would be abandoning Cyrus when he left.  Maybe he could just stay here.  Maybe the townsfolk would get used to him and he could find a way to earn something of a living.  He could stay here, live in the ruins, and guard the grave.

That night, he dreamed.  It started as an awful dream, forcing him to relive that horrible moment when Cyrus died.  Then, in the way of dreams, it jumped to another moment, far more welcome, of a memory with Cyrus, then another, and another after that, flooding his sleeping mind with images and emotions all centered on his friend.

“You are stronger than you think, Glenn.  You always have been.”

“You are more skilled with the sword than I am.”

“You really should try, Glenn.  You don't want to see it, but you have all the makings of a knight.”

“The Queen.  Take care – of – Leene...”

When Glenn awoke the next morning, he knew this had to be the day.  He spent the morning carving Cyrus' name on the stone that would serve to mark Cyrus' resting plact with a sharp rock he'd found while digging the grave.  It was hard going, using one stone to chisel the letters deep enough to be read in the other, so he stopped after carving just the name.  He couldn't think of anything to add other than his friend's name – not now.  Not yet.  Not while Magus still drew breath.

He couldn't help the tears that flowed as he placed the bag with Cyrus' ashes in the ground.  He considered placing the Hero Medal and the hilt of the Masamune there too, to honor the knight who had wielded both as he died, but knew that the only chance he would ever have to avenge Cyrus' death, would be if he, himself, wielded them in turn.  He kept both, vowing silently in his heart to his friend as he filled the grave that he would do everything in his power to have the Masamune reforged, learn how to fight again in this form, find Magus, and using every ounce of his will and inner strength seek that vengeance by killing the evil mage.  He set the stone, bearing only Cyrus' name, in its place in the ground to mark the spot where Cyrus' ashes lay.

“If I tell him I am leaving, mayhap the shopkeeper will allow me to purchase some supplies.  It is worth a try.  I know not how long I will need to travel on the ocean before finding a land other than this one,”  Glenn said.  “I shall return, ere I set forth, dear Cyrus.  For a farewell and to crave your blessing on my attempt to find my way to Guardia,”  Glenn said before he bowed toward the grave and left the chamber.


“He's gone to the shop.  Says he's going to tell them he's leaving, and hopes they will sell him stuff.  He dragged that thing he's been working on to the entrance to the ruins.  It might be a raft.  I think he's leaving today,”  Slash reported to Ozzie.

“I doubt Glenn can recognize Flea in his disguise, but better safe than sorry.  I want this to be a surprise – not the good kind!  Get Flea from the cafe and meet me in the ruins.”  Ozzie laughed.  “Let's go crush whatever hope Glenn thinks he's found.”

Slash left on his errand.  Ozzie made his way quietly through the woods, floating behind a stand of trees to hide when Glenn walked past him on his way toward the town.


Cyrus, the fool who challenged Magus, rests here.

Ozzie blinked at the inscription, rubbed his eyes, and read it again.  “Geez!  Uncharacteristically bitter of you.  I approve!”  He cupped his chin in thought.  “Although, I thought you were Cyrus' 'devoted squire',”  he sneered.  Ozzie floated back and forth, pacing in the air, unhappy with this turn of events.  He had wanted to carve something – well, something like what was already there, to dispirit Glenn.  Slash really should have told him the entire inscription!  Now, he would have to think of something else.

He didn't want to actually dig up the grave.  First, there was the matter of having to touch the dirt if he did, something he detested.  The chamber was too small, and the angles wrong to consider using magic for the task.  Besides, he shivered, I detested Cyrus, but he has been laid to rest.  If there were bones, I could call Cyrus forth as a soldier in Magus' Army to battle Glenn, but...  Magus was too thorough with that spell.  My magic can't do anything with ashes.  If I disturb him now, he might well be able to haunt me, and that is something I don't want to risk.

“Cyrus, I have returned.”  Ozzie heard from the far stairway.  He had a moment to float up and back, hoping he was high enough at the top of the ceiling to avoid Glenn's notice.  He needn't have worried.  Glenn fell to his knees in front of the grave.  Ozzie noted as Slash soundlessly entered behind the frog, taking up a position hidden next to the stairs.

“Wha – what?!”  Glenn leaped up to touch the carving on the stone with trembling fingers.  “Who has...?!”

“So this is what you've been up to, you feckless frog!”  Ozzie said, floating down behind Glenn.  “Shouldn't you be more concerned with fulfilling 'dear Cyrus' final wish that you protect your 'beautiful',”  Ozzie made playful gagging noises.  “Queen and your fool King?  Playing around here in this abandoned ruin in an out-of-the-way, forgotten land hardly, no, really doesn't help them at all, now does it?”

“Ozzie!”  Glenn leaped, so high and so far that Ozzie backed up in surprise.  The enraged Glenn had the hilt of the broken Masamune in his hand.  “You have defiled Cyrus' grave!”

“What of it, frog?  What can you think to do to me with that sad, broken relic – scratch me?”  Ozzie narrowed his eyes.  “You've done that to me once already – never again.  Slash!”

“Slash?”  Glenn asked in confusion.  “Aye, I want to slash – ”  The rest of his threat cut off abruptly as Slash brought the hilt of his own sword down sharply on the back of Glenn's head, knocking him out cold.

“Bring him you two,”  Ozzie ordered just as Flea revealed that he had been hiding out of sight, too.

“Where?”  Flea demanded.  “I thought you wanted to kill him.”

“Naw, not now.  Look.”  He pointed to the headstone.  “The Glenn I knew believed in Cyrus with a 'touching',”  Ozzie gagged again.  “devotion.  He would never have carved that.  With this bitterness and how people are treating him, he's broken, even if he doesn't realize it.  He will kill himself soon enough, but he will continue to suffer before he does.  That is a better punishment than anything I could do.  Let his own guilt torment him to death!”


Glenn woke again, once more on the margin between the solid ground of a shoreline and the insistent, restless lapping of water.  “Where am I now?”  he wondered wearily.  After some walking, he realized where he was – the southern continent once more.  Minus the slight but profound burden of Cyrus' ashes, he was right back where he started.  He discovered Zenan Bridge was still out.  Having no luck in Dorino he set forth to return to Porre. Maybe the innkeeper there would permit him to stay in exchange for work.  Along the way he met a woman walking toward him and away from Porre.  Having already had some unpleasant encounters in similar situations, he moved as far to the right as the path allowed, and stepped from the path entirely as the woman came abreast of him.

“Hello?”  she said.  “You can walk on the path, too.  I don't need to hog all of it!  You really are a strange-looking fellow, aren't you?  Can you speak?”

Glenn nodded.  “Aye, I can speak.”

“What are you doing all the way out here?  Must be heading to Porre.  They may not – take to you,”  she warned.

“I suspect not.  I was there a short while ago.  They didn't 'take to me' then,”  Glenn admitted.  “But at least they didn't run me completely out of town as Dorino just did.”

“Yes, Dorino.  Not the most friendly of places.  I don't expect they are going to last.”  She paused and pondered for a moment. “I'm Fiona, by the by.  If my husband were home, I would feel comfortable inviting you to my villa, you don't seem to be a dangerous er, creature, but...  Where do you call home?”

“Nowhere,”  Glenn replied bitterly.  “There is nowhere I can claim to call home.”

She considered him for a very long moment.  Glenn noted a bit of wariness in her eyes, and he could tell she held herself ready to run if he made anything she might consider a threatening move, but, there was a basic decency and kindness in her gaze as well.  “There's a wood, to the west of here.  It's not very large, but the trees are strong and healthy.  Toward the northern edge of this wood, there's a small cave hidden by bushes.  There are monsters, er, creatures, in and among the trees, but if you can avoid provoking them...  It isn't much, but it might be a place you could make your own, and call home.  That is, if you don't find a more welcome situation in Porre.  Everyone deserves a home,”  she added, all but whispering the last.

He didn't 'find a more welcoming situation'.  Like before, they tolerated his presence, which was a small boon compared to the reactions he'd experienced everywhere else.  In Porre, at least, they would permit him to purchase items at the store and the Cafe was willing to accept his money and patronage, but the Inn flatly refused to permit him to stay, even on the floor like he had before.  Despondency dragged at his steps as he turned and wandered toward the small wood Fiona had suggested.  Once he entered and grasped the overall amphibian nature of the creatures haunting the wood, he immediately understood why Fiona had suggested it as a possible home for him.

But, he chided himself, she had been kind and the suggestion had been offered from a place of kindness.  It had been the first significant act of kindness he'd experienced since Magus had cursed him.

To his relief the creatures were inclined to get out of his way and let him pass.  He had purchased a sword in Porre, but needed to practice and get used to how the changes in him affected his ability to fight before trying to use it for real, if he could.  Besides, the creatures were here first, he was the interloper.  Best not to kill any more of them than he had to.  Once he found the fairly well-hidden cave and leaped down, he was pleasantly surprised at how homey it was.  It wasn't some dark and dank little hovel in the ground like he feared, it was dry and there was actually a decent amount of space to work with.  He might even be able to fashion some furniture so he wasn't just sleeping on the ground like an animal or having to build a new pallet every few days. 

Magus might have cursed him with this form, but he was still a man.  He might live in a cave in the ground in a cursed wood among amphibians, and he might wear the shape of a frog himself, and...  He winced.  He was going to have to get used to people calling him that, but he knew who he was.  He knew his mission.  He might never reclaim his human form, but, he promised himself he would reclaim his name when he avenged Cyrus.

“Oh, Cyrus.  I let you down.  I know you wanted it, but I never became a knight, and now...”  Glenn laughed.  “Now I am this, whatever this is.  Frog, I guess.  Your concern for me led to your defeat and demise.  For that, I can never express the depths of my sorrow.  Further, I failed.  I failed in my mission, and such a simple one.  Return to Guardia Castle and find a suitable place to scatter your ashes in the forest surrounding it so you can rest peacefully, secure in the knowledge that even in death, in a way, you still guard the path to the King and Queen.  You would have liked that.  But, I failed, and Ozzie...  Ozzie defiled your grave with that horrible epithet.  And I don't even know where I buried you, or where the grave is, or how to get back to fix it!  It all seems so hopeless!  And I am just...  Even before the curse, I was not...  Oh, Cyrus!  I wish you were here!  What am I to do now?”


“What about that loser;  Cyrus' squire?  What was his name again?”  Magus looked up from the massive tome he was studying to pin Ozzie with a piercing stare.

“Oh, him.  Ha, ha.  Human no more, might as well call him 'Frog' now.”

“You took care of him?”  Magus asked.

“He won't trouble you again, Lord Magus.  There is nothing in your way, nothing to stop you from achieving your destiny and the destiny of the Mystics!”  Ozzie rubbed his hands together and cackled with glee.


That would have been cool!

Fan Fiction / Dipping my toe in with a brand new CT fic
« on: September 18, 2020, 12:01:43 pm »
So, I read the theory listed in the Compendium encyclopedia here regarding who buried Cyrus in the Northern Ruins.  Given how the epitaph changes according to Cyrus' state of rest, I always believed (as is also postulated in the entry) that it was Cyrus himself who inscribed it through mystical means. Glenn holds such grief and guilt even after many years have passed, I can't square that with him being responsible for the depth of contempt the first inscription holds.  Pondering the matter, another possibility occurred to me this week and considering how plausible it might be, I tripped into a fan-fiction.

This short, but bitterly dark, story explores Glenn's first moments after he awakens as Frog and explains how it came to be that Cyrus was buried, unnamed, so far from home. 

Warnings – centered on the events in the game surrounding Cyrus' death and burial as it is, there are themes of death.  Additionally, there is a brief whisper of the desire for suicide.

Status – In progress (but fully plotted, near to completion)


It was here, this was the place of triumph.  Ozzie was supposed to be recruiting for Magus' Army, and he knew full-well the Denadoro Mountains had been picked over already, but he just had to return.  Magus didn't understand, or perhaps didn't care, what had happened here, but Ozzie did, and he wanted to revel in the moment.

Cyrus, the great and grand Cyrus, whom the humans thought would stop Magus and save them from the Mystics, was dead.  Dead, dead, completely dead.  And Glenn, that upstart squire, or attendant, or whatever the heck he was, the one who –  Ozzie lifted his hand to cover the scar on his neck from where Glenn had, in an incredibly lucky sword slash, cut him.  No one had ever hurt him before.  Ozzie resolved no one would ever get close enough to do that to him again.

Death was too good, too easy for him because of this insult.  Rather, Ozzie wanted Glenn dead, oh, he wanted him dead, but he wanted him destroyed, completely destroyed, in soul and spirit and heart as well as body, first.

That was the real reason he was here, instead of out finding new recruits for Magus' Army.  The spineless wimp had injured him, and he had to be made to pay.  He had been able to hurt Ozzie only because he was lucky and because Cyrus was there.  Cyrus the Bold!  Cyrus the Inspiring!  Cyrus the Hero! 

Ozzie looked down and laughed.  All that was left of the vaunted hero, several paces away was...

Cyrus the Ash-pile!

A wicked thought occurred to him.  The monsters of the Denadoro Mountains were under his orders to block Glenn's path down, and instead drive him up the mountain to this place, where Ozzie waited.  Ozzie decided to gather up what remained of Cyrus, and scatter the ashes to the four winds right in front of his hapless former squire's eyes.  That ought to be enough to make perfect the human youth's suffering and then Ozzie could....

Then he could kill him and complete his revenge.

Maybe.  Seizing him and taking him to Magus' Lair so he could torment him even more might be fun.  Who knows?  Given the shape the boy was in, he might make good canon fodder for Magus' Army.  That thought appealed to him.  Glenn either destroyed by a Guardia defender's attack, or maybe even better, killing some of those he once called friends.  It wouldn't be the first time Ozzie had twisted a human's destiny, after all.  He floated forward.  Or rather, tried to.  The wind picked up suddenly and stopped his forward motion.  This wouldn't do!  The only thought in his mind was doing whatever he could to make his cruel plan a reality.  Glenn had to pay for hurting him.

But, he – just – couldn't – move – forward.  Even touching down, which he hated, and walking, pitting the strength of his legs against this inexplicable wind didn't help.  He could walk, or float any direction he tried, other than the one he really wanted – toward the Ash-pile.  He heard someone approaching.  Gnashing his teeth in his frustration, he floated over and hid behind some foliage to wait.  If there was something Ozzie was very, very good at, it was waiting.


It was sound that woke him.  He heard a melodic, continuous susurration that after a moment he identified as water flowing in a stream.  Next, he became aware of a low, throbbing pain in his hand.  There was an arc of sensation across the middle of his fingers and continuing along his palm, where he had closed his hand around something large, thin, and unyielding.  He eased the tension of his grip and the pain eased.  A general feeling of internal disquiet, the sense that something was very wrong, almost as if he were seriously ill with fever permeated him, but, he didn't feel hot.

No, if anything, it was the other, he felt cold, but cold as he had never felt it before.  It was as if he, himself, were radiating cold, instead of warmth, and everything felt wrong, his arms, his legs, his neck, his back, his wrists and fingers, his ankles and toes, every single joint in his body ached and throbbed and felt – wrong.

Unnerved by the all-pervasive perceptions, and a dawning sense of horror as his memory caught up with what the sensations of his body were so insistently trying to make him understand, he leaped up and away, away from the water, away from the pain, away from the memory, now full-blown in his mind, of the death of his friend and the awful searing energy Magus had called down upon him.

He fell down again, unable to balance, completely unable to stand. 

Sometime later – minutes?  Hours?  Lifetimes? – he slumped to the ground next to the stream, utterly defeated.  He had tried, with all the strength he could muster, to stand, to balance, to walk.  He just couldn't manage to get it done.  Everything felt wrong.  The core balance point of his body, which he had taken for granted before, was lower and kept pulling him down toward the ground.  On hands and knees, or whatever he had now that he had called 'hands and knees' before, he could probably crawl, but that was no way for a man to get around.

He wanted to give up.  He wanted to put his head under the water, breathe it in, and just die.  He'd heard that drowning was a pretty painless way to go, perhaps even peaceful.  Peace.  Death.  Both concepts appealed equally, and if intentionally drowning himself might do the trick...

He laughed, a raw, rough, mirthless sound.  He had seen his altered hands.  They were green and bore a faint webbing between the base of his fingers.  The equally radical changes in the joints of his wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles were half familiar.  While he had slowly, finally warmed from the unnerving inner-radiating cold that he had woken with, he was certain that the core of his being did no longer bear the usual warmth of a human being.

He didn't know exactly what Magus had done to him when the mage had struck him down with that magic, but he was certain he had been transformed into something – else.  Something not human.  Something that probably couldn't seek death by drowning as easily as a human could.  He felt shame at his own thoughts.  He was – no matter what he had become, Cyrus had given his life to try to save him.  If he sought death now, that would be the ultimate rejection of his friend's sacrifice.  He had not promised to fill what had been Cyrus' dying wish, that he protect Queen Leene, there hadn't been enough time, but he did so now, vowing in his heart to protect her to the limit of his abilities – whatever they had become.

Change.  Following Cyrus as he had, being his squire as the knight had claimed the Hero's Medal and the Masamune, Glenn thought he was changing, growing, becoming more courageous and more like Cyrus just by following him.  That fantasy had been stripped away and revealed as a complete falsehood.  Though Cyrus had constantly urged Glenn to find and hone the strength within, just by being around him, Glenn had never had to.  Now, with Cyrus gone, in order to survive, in order to do his best to stay true to the code of honor Cyrus had instilled in him, he would be forced to change.

Again, he laughed in bitter tones.  Change.  How could he change more than Magus had changed him?  But he knew he would have to, the painful shedding of comfortable self-lies, facing the hard reality of the world on his own with eyes, mind, and heart cleared of all illusions.  He knew he was weak.  He knew while he did have the skill with a sword that even Cyrus acknowledged as greater than his own, he didn't have the will to wield that skill effectively.  He had fought, but his heart wasn't in it.  He didn't want to hurt anyone.  No, not quite true.  He hadn't wanted to hurt anyone – before.  Now...

Now, he wanted Magus dead.  Not because the mage threatened Guardia, the kingdom Cyrus and he had sworn to protect.  Not because war with the Mystics would harm the people who lived there and upset the Queen – perhaps threaten her safety or that of the King.  No, Glenn wanted Magus dead – no, Glenn wanted to kill Magus himself to avenge Cyrus.

And, in order to do that, he would need three things.  He held the first one in his hand.  The Hero's Medal was already in his possession.  With it, he might be deemed worthy to wield the Masamune, the only sword that could hurt Magus, the only weapon capable of killing the mage.  It had been broken, but Glenn knew swords could be mended.  They could be reforged.  Hopefully, the Masamune could be reforged too, stronger than it had been when sundered.  Of course, in order to do that, he would need to gather the pieces.  And they were on the top of the mountain.  He doubted Magus would consider them deserving of his notice once he broke the sword, so the pieces were most likely still there, abandoned in the grass where they had fallen.  Glenn vowed to make Magus pay for that arrogance.

The third thing would be the hardest of all to find.  He possessed the beginning of it in his will, this burning desire to destroy Magus, but the wanting was a far cry from having the skill and honing his will to be able to deliberately strike a killing blow.  He looked down at his hands again.  He had such skill with a sword once before.  There was no reason to believe he couldn't learn it again, and fit the skill to this newly altered form.  And that fact, painful as it was, would help him hone this killing will, too.  Though the deep pain in his altered joints had eventually eased and disappeared, he was acutely, intimately aware with every movement, with every sensation of his body, with every breath, even while at rest, of the change in him.  There was no way his will would weaken into some pacifistic 'forgive and forget' or 'live and let live' platitude as it might have done before...

Before, when he was just Glenn.  He didn't know what he was now, but he embraced his two-fold mission.  Protect the Queen in memory of Cyrus, and to honor his friend's dying command.  Kill Magus to avenge Cyrus and show the mage that even though Glenn himself had not known it before, Cyrus did not have a weak and unworthy friend.

In order to complete this mission, he would have to start it.  And, it started with a single step.  He rose from the ground, pulled his tunic straight, squared his shoulders, ruthlessly pushed down his awareness of how odd the action now felt, and took that first step.  He followed with another, and another, slowly becoming accustomed to the rhythm and sway of how his balance shifted while walking in this form.  He realized that the creatures of the Denadoro Mountains, which before had forced Cyrus and him into confrontations, seemed to be completely absent on his upward path.  He turned and noticed how densely they massed in the other direction.

“Herding me upward, hmm?”

No matter.  Upward was where he wanted to go.  He was fairly certain Magus had quit the mountain after vanquishing Cyrus and cursing him.  Once he had the sword, or what remained of it, in his hands, he was certain his path would be clear.  Somehow.


Glenn's newfound resolve faltered at the bridge crossing over to the place where it had all happened, where everything had gone so horribly, tragically wrong.  He paused for a very long time, reliving the moments, recalling the fiercely elated emotion he had felt when Cyrus had spied Magus on the other side of the bridge.  Cyrus' confidence had been so infectious that Glenn had mistaken his own response to it as courage.  Now, it took nearly all his inner strength to gather his courage enough to just cross the bridge.

He finally managed it, but slumped to his knees right away in his horrified realization that the small, sad collection of ash, positioned as it was in the exact spot where Cyrus had died and then, under Magus' magic caught on fire and burned, had to be the sum total of his friend's mortal remains.  One tiny, emotionlessly rational part of his mind wondered how the ash had not been blown away here so close to the summit.  Mostly, he felt misery and sorrow, wallowing in them to the point of tears.  Finally, he gathered the scattered shreds of his resolve once more;  respectfully gathered the piteous remains of his friend into a pouch, and decided he would find a better final resting place for Cyrus than the wind-swept, lonely, monster-infested mountaintop upon which he'd been murdered.

The hilt of the sundered Masamune was easily found, but try as he might, Glenn could not find the blade.  He believed the legendary sword had been broken into only two pieces, but could find not a single trace of the rest of it.  Regretfully, as the shadows continued to lengthen around him, he decided to leave the mountain before night fell.  He turned, crossed the bridge, and began his descent.


Ozzie ground his teeth, as he had been doing the entire time he watched the weird frog-thing that Glenn now was, poking around on the mountain.  Glenn had carefully gathered every trace of the ashes and collected them into a bag.  If somehow he made it back to Guardia with those remains, and the idiot humans made a martyr of their fallen hero, the Mystic War with the humans that Ozzie longed to win would be that much harder.  An inexplicably missing hero could give people hope;  hope that Ozzie could crush whenever he wanted with the truth that their hero was dead and not going to appear to save the day.  A hope suddenly dashed at a time and place of his choosing was a weapon Ozzie could use to devastating advantage.  Cyrus, as a heroic martyr, on the other hand, could stiffen the humans' resolve, and that would be far more annoying to deal with.  By any means he could devise, Ozzie had to keep Glenn from reaching Guardia with that bag of ashes.


“What happens now, big brother?”  Mune asked.  They watched as Ozzie, just as night fell completely across the summit of the mountain, turned and floated away from the peak.

“I don't know, Mune,”  Masa replied.  “I guess we stay here and guard this part of the Masamune like we guarded the whole sword before.  It's too bad Cyrus was killed.  He was a worthy Hero.”

“Kind of fragile, though.  Why are humans so easily destroyed?”  Mune asked.

“To be fair, he didn't falter until after the sword was broken.  That power that broke us – seemed familiar, somehow,”  Masa mused.


“Nevermind.”  Masa reached over and tousled his little brother's hair.  They had opted to shift to their most harmless seeming forms in case anyone did climb to the mountaintop.  “Good job keeping that creep Ozzie from messing with Cyrus' ashes.  Cyrus may have failed, but he was, even if only for a short time, our Hero.  Even his ashes deserve respect – respect that awful Ozzie would have taken away from him.”

“Whatever you say, Masa.  Easy enough to keep that bloated puffball away when I am the wind.  Whoosh!”

Masa watched as Mune spread his arms and ran around the cave where they had placed the broken blade of the Masamune.  He didn't hold out much hope that their situation would change any time soon.  Considering that it would likely be another few centuries guarding this remnant of the Masamune before anything happened made him unhappy.  And angry.  Melchior had promised them lives of adventure and deeds of glory and valor, not this endless waiting for a worthy Hero to appear.  Masa didn't hold any hope that Cyrus' squire, Glenn, even though he now had the hilt of the Masamune, would amount to anything.  He wasn't much to start, even before Magus cursed him.  He watched his brother as 'the wind' rushed around the cave and wished he could distract himself as easily.


You'd think eventually the Guardia knights might arrive at the conclusion that confronting a mage known to hurl lightning bolts while wearing 80 or so pounds of confining metal armor might not be a winning strategy or the best option for survival, something Glenn realized to his utter horror and dismay with how easily Magus took Cyrus out.


The Ranma 1/2 was a side-by-side fighting game (similar to Street Fighter) if memory serves, but it played on their SNES console, so it had to be English, I think.  My brothers had it for all of a week before trading it in.  They were really into the Mario games and the only one of those I can stand is the RPG (Geno for the win!)

It's awesome that there is a spread of ages here!  I might not have to explain my dated cultural references all the time!

I don't think FuncoLand had anime... but I rediscovered anime through video games.  Xenogears led me to Fushigi Yuugi which led to Cardcaptor Sakura (the fan subtitled version) and Vampire Hunter D, Petshop of Horrors, Sorcerer Stabber Orphen, Bakurestu Hunters and ultimately Yu-Gi-Oh!  (Kaiba is way more tolerable in his Japanese incarnation, though I love dub Kaiba voice actor's band).  One of my hobbies for a while was collecting anime cels.  I have a gallery online here -- Forever Dreaming though I haven't collected any new cels in years.  Still, it will give an idea what fandoms have caught my eye.

Yeah, the load times with PS CT have been bad.  I only resorted to it because my SNES cartridge was giving me a visual hiccup with the very first time tunnel effect and I thought it was broken.  It wasn't until I got to the same section in the PS game that I recalled that first time tunnel is that much longer than the later ones, so I just need to be patient and see if the visuals return after the travel sequence.

I have noticed the various CT fan games for sale on eBay and have been torn about them.  On the one hand, I would dearly love to play more games in the CTverse with the characters I fell in love with, but, on the other, I really try to respect IPR.  I buy game and anime music CDs only from Japan, even though they are so much more expensive, to avoid supporting the bootleggers like Son-May.  It's different when it's clearly a labor of love by fans, but...  it's still a bit in the gray area.  Clearly, I'm still wrestling with it.  On the third hand (hey, I'm a writer at heart, I can just whip up whatever I need to make something work!) until I get some of these CT fic out of my brain and onto my screen, I don't risk adding more information about the characters to the mix or I will never, ever get them done.  Itchy fic-writing brain is an awful thing!  I just realized today that with a decent amount of careful thought, I can redeem a good story that started its life infested with a Mary Sue, and bring it from something I would never post online to a credible AU story in the CT universe.  That makes me really happy because while it's Glenn-centric, it's got a lot of really fun Magus stuff in it, and I would love to be able to share.

Transformers...  Well, my nickname Kitt comes from my deep affection for the car from Knight Rider, so falling for Transformers was bound to happen.  Optimus Prime is my absolute favorite but I really liked Michael Bell's voice acting for Prowl, too.  Scatman Crothers for Jazz, Dan Gilvezian for Bumblebee, all of them were just amazing.  I always found myself wanting to kick Starscream in the shins, and realize now that evoking such an emotional reaction using only one's voice is the pinnacle of the voice actor's skill.

To this day, even after all the various villains from video games, anime, movies and tv shows, Megatron is the one who scares me the most. Pure, utterly cold, irredeemable evil.  Frank Welker is simply amazing.

Among the writers for the original show, David Wise wrote all of my favorite episodes.  I was crushed when he passed away last year.  It was awesome to see the Transformers on the big screen, but they threw too many new characters at us with not enough reference, relegated almost all the original characters to being just background visuals, then killed most of them off, then killed Optimus.  I too loved Judd Nelson's version of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, but didn't like the character, if that makes any sense.  If they had given us decent lead up to the events of the movie with episodes that laid some groundwork (like how Ultra Magnus became Optimus' right hand 'bot instead of Ironhide, and why Optimus took Hot Rod under his guidance), I would have liked it much better.  Pretty much everything after the movie wasn't to my liking, as I felt it broke too much from the canon they had established prior.  I mean why would the Quintessons, as what, five faced beings floating around on a bunch of tentacles, be inspired to create giant bipedal robots?  It made no sense!

Geez, I write a lot!

...I'm a rolling stone?

Hi, everyone!  I guess I should take a moment and introduce myself, since there is this nifty section here to do so.  I'm Kitt, sometimes Kitt Chaos.  There was a time when I was sort of a rare bird, as I am a woman and older than the 'average' gamer, but, I am glad to realize there is no such thing as an average gamer, anymore.

***One gamer's long and detailed personal history of gaming and related hobbies cut to spare readers (some) and get to the relevant stuff***

Years and years ago, my younger brothers discovered FuncoLand and bought an SNES console.  They traded and played games a lot -- Ranma 1/2, any and everything Mario (to this day I fail hard at any sort of Mario-esque timed jumping platform game), car racing games, fighting games...

Then they got Chrono Trigger.  I was entranced.  It was like the best part of a really good D&D adventure without having to deal with that one gamer who just wanted to get drunk and act stupid, or the girlfriend of the week hanging around, pouting about how 'boring' it was, and breaking up the gaming session early.  The look and feel of Chrono Trigger, the music, the story flow, the characters, the emotional impact -- all of it so balanced -- it was an entire, amazing world contained in that cartridge and I couldn't wait to delve in and explore it myself.

My brothers found it 'boring' and traded it in.  The very next day, I bought my own SNES console and a copy of Chrono Trigger.  After completing it that first time, I went back to see what, if any other games might be like it and discovered Square did indeed have other titles.  Final Fantasy III (which we know now is FF6) was my second ever video game, followed by Final Fantasy II (FF4) (wherein Cecil Harvey claimed a hold on my heart as deeply entrenched as Glenn did in Chrono Trigger).  On the strength of these three games, I bet that the upcoming Final Fantasy VII would be awesome enough to be worth it to get the Playstation console, a decision I have never regretted.
Relevant to this forum, I have only ever played the SNES version of Chrono Trigger, and just recently started a playthrough on the PS1 version (up to 'Unnatural Selection' currently).  I haven't played Chrono Cross or any of the interquel or fan generated games so the sum total of my knowledge of the Chronoverse is contained in the first SNES game. 

As I have always had a soft spot for knights and chivalry, as well as redemption arcs, Glenn is my favorite character.  It's a quirk of mine (that got me into no end of grief when I first started posting a CT fanfic) that I intensely dislike playing characters whose names are merely what they are, so I do change the character names in my fan fiction.  As another HUGE fandom for me is Gen One Transformers, I used that as the basis for a naming theme for my story, only changing two of the girls' names to something more suitable (Lucca had been 'Gears' and Ayla 'Brawn' during my playthrough the second and subsequent times) but soon discovered that to some fans the names are absolutely sacrosanct.  That, coupled with an immense writer's block once I completed a pivotal Magus-centric sub-plot stopped that story cold back in 2006 and I have never completed it.

However, playing Chrono Trigger again, finding that all of those balanced, beloved game elements have retained their charm and power even after playing more modern games -- I want to finish that story again.  I want to bring it to the proper ending that the story, the characters, and the readers (if any still look at it) deserve.  Searching to confirm memories of events later in the game than I have yet to play up to this time around to brought me to this Compendium and this forum, and I am delighted to discover that a vibrant community of members who appreciate Chrono Trigger is still active.

And, if you made it through all of that --
Hi, I'm Kitt.  It's very nice to meet you!  >^o^<

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