Author Topic: Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time  (Read 2670 times)

ZeaLitY

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Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
« on: May 29, 2004, 02:18:45 am »
Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
by ZeaLitY

Though he did not wish to accept the truth, the old man was continually bombarded by the lack of fire that had resulted from recent events. No longer was his spirit tempered and uplifted by dreams of ambition or beauty, and great occurrences were now passing cares; he had seen all, and experienced the best and bitterest of what had come in his long, ageless life. As he traced the white columns, circulating in unbridled, flawless splendor, he could only wish to be absorbed in the elements, and become careless, breezing through a light wind over some sunny sky. But ‘twas not so. No, not even superior knowledge and his omniscience could grant him such a repose, for though he knew the intellects of many men, and had committed nobler acts than the finest retainers of ancient kingdoms could boast of, nothing remained to stoke the silent embers of his heart. The evanescence itself of this flame could no longer strike audience with his attention, which now only served to gaze beyond distance -- beyond time -- and beyond life, into realms far and close in mind. He did not weep, for his tears were dead inside; the spiritual well in which sorrow dips to bring forth moonlit drops of subtle pain was dry; yea, his passion had betrayed him and left entirely. His heart was not ice, nor was it fire; it simply was relegated to muffled tremors in a chest whose prime had passed long since. Much like place in which its owner resided, it could only press on in existence, never failing or giving start, but constant; unwavering and dully animated.

What is love, to a man and place such as this? Was it attachment? For relation to anything here only meant that one had passed the space of a time in companionship or residence; nothing more could be extracted from such a bond. Was it passion? For though he could observe each cavalier of poesy and the rose languish in romance, he had none, nor want of emotion. Was it life? For neither the living nor dead could discern their status in a place as this, devoid of all save the vaporous mists of aeons, and a vantage to their passing. Love was merely a word at the End of Time, relegated to a cold term and denotation, and never symbolizing its truth thereof; though it had existed once, that point was fixed in time -- a small point in the infinite span of eternity, veiled by the temporal journey away from it. Ere this beset of woe, he had fain hoped to return to that point, and though he may have succeeded in a small regard, he had not the will to continue. Happy times were naught when mixed in with those spent in regret and affliction, as a fount shall only remain clean until dirt enters its stream, and then be forever mixed until quieted evermore.

He thus had one, last wish; not a product of the escaped feelings he once had harbored, but a product of their absence -- to depart hence, and subject his body to the caprice of time, and its blue-crested, impartial waves. Though he had conquered it, no more could be stand to be unnaturally out of its flow, and removed from the cycle that claims every and respects no one. O, woe betided him. Those shimmering bursts of azure-adorned light, in accordance with their presider, had lost their capacity for any use, and now would be fully sealed. The architecture that once supported the carriers of a magnanimous dream would also be reduced to zero, leaving only those mists that unrelentingly pervaded the environs. It would cease here--

"Spekkio, have you prepared? Is your chamber vacant?" the old man coughed, with a strained voice.
"Yes--it is."
"Very well. I pray, lend me a boost; I must close up the Gates."
"Master, leave them. They no longer function."
"Nay. We must reduce this place to the nothingness it was when we sprung upon it. Come."
"Very, very well."

The odd creature closed its soulful eyes and clasped its fist, which radiated with a subtle power. The old sage began to chant a song that, unlike the hundreds of incantations employed by his peers of a dozen millennia before Guardia's founding, had been used only once before in the spectacular and spanning history of the world. One could not tell the grinding of hours that had taken toll on his spirit, yet the few words muttered were flawless in his execution. With each syllable uttered into the swirling air, the circled beacons dimmed in their array of gleaming sparkles, eventually shrinking in height until they seemed to retreat into the ground, being absorbed in singularities. The bronze-gold gate surrounding the platform on which the columns once emanated from seemed to heave and sigh upon losing the luminous reflection provided by said pillars; their dissipating also removed further the restrained sparkle in the guru's eye. Logically, the Gates were useless, as the starter of the dream upon the mission's realization had closed them; however, perhaps attachment played a role here, causing deep, almost undetectable pains in the man's heart. Notwithstanding, he continued, until only the uppermost column remained untouched. It flickered in a fickle manner, shedding only some light on the darkened corners around it. Not a word was spoken.

"--Dear Gaspar, what is to be come of you?"
"Do not worry, Spekkio. Long have I sat atop this origin of time; however, a mere human such as I is not meant for such a stay. Believe me, Spekkio, it is high time for me to leave."
"To where will you travel?"
"Oh, don't concern yourself. I'll have myself a nice time."
"What of the anomalies?"
"I suspect that--whoever pops in here may take up residence as I did. It is not my concern. My purpose is fulfilled; it is gone from me."
"Such words, from you--Gaspar, I will miss you."

He could only gaze down at the floor of his platform, which now began to fade, and took on a transparent quality due to the nature of the magic now working to dissipate the structure. Its entire history vanished; the well that served to enrich the health of the heroes of time fell into nothingness, while the Gate bucket brought about by his own hand fragmented into the basic elements of Light, Water, and Fire -- evident in the triangle pieces that fell away. The bridge, once utilized as a dock to the winged chariot of time, also became vapors in the mist; Spekkio's door at once opened and disappeared, revealing nothing. Forever zero; the pedestal of the guru was ageless, yet was reduced in little time. Gaspar approached the solitary column remaining. He stood near, and helpless to enter, turned at once to Spekkio, who was engaged in watching the destruction of his former home in awe. Perhaps the sage's heart was startled --

"I have resolved to do this, and I shall, Spekkio."
"Thy will be done, master. And your will alone."
"Time has been saved," he continued, probably justifying his decision. "Power of my caliber is no longer required, and can only have a negative influence on the timeline."
"Oh, that's readily apparent. We can't have any Time Egg blacksmiths around."
"My work here is done. It is not my responsibility to gaze into time periods for oddities, or into the privacy of the workings of time."
"Yes; I know that these things no longer excite you, as science once did."
"Spekkio--no. I am too tired."
"Then let us depart. Master, it was a wonder knowing you."
"Please, do not pierce with those words--"
"Go on. Step in the light. This place will be left to the whim of a chancing traveler."
"--I--have to."

His blood quickened; though Spekkio's ruminations and pointed comments did stir his spiritual well somewhat, he remained resolved to go through with the act of eliminating his home at the End of Time and inserting himself into another timeline to die naturally.

"Then go. If you believe it is the right, do so. I shall see you, somewhere, Gaspar. It was a pleasure--old friend."

Spekkio turned away, and an intense whirlwind around him formed. His texture illuminated with the colors of the visible spectrum and those beyond in either wavelength direction; he at last condensed into a singularity, demonstrating an ability that few had possessed in the entire history of the planet. Gaspar watched, with the full knowledge that he probably would not set eyes upon the God of War again in his lifetime, even if he were to remain immortal at the End of Time. Fortunately, his intellect was not allowed to perceive the rashness of his actions, as he continued to feel restricted and cold internally. He began to proceed toward the light--a voice --

"I'm not going to give you the chance, old man."
"What? Spekkio? Who is there?"

Out of a dark corner of the remaining architecture of the End of Time, a shrouded figure approached, stepping into the reach of the last Gate's radiance. A blue hood covered the person's eyes, though did not fully restrict wavy hair, which appeared as waves atop the sea. Though they were covered, one could not escape the feeling of being watched by intense, piercing eyes. The face tapered towards the chin in a way suggesting slyness, or a particularly dangerous intellect. The man's form stood tall and commanding, striking intimidation in even the elements that supported his weight; no wind blew, yet his figure seemed animated as his hood slightly moved in the mist. Gaspar strained to see him, and at once, the cloak effortlessly blew off through a dash of magic, revealing a strikingly handsome but awe-inspiring countenance; the eyes indeed saw through the old sage, past his core and to realms far beyond. His hair, now released, shone blue with magnificence paralleled only by the sapphire gem, and though his lips were drawn to a stern position, a curt tension at one side indicated quick wit. He might instantly strike fear and wonderment alike in those with the chance of gazing upon his full beauty and terrible presence. Truly, beyond all poetic devices, none could match him in these regards.

"About to depart, are we?"
"Janus! It is you! I--"
"Hmm?"
"I thought you had perished! I could not see you from this point--"
"Don't concern yourself with my whereabouts. Now, old man--"
"Don't come closer! What is it you want?"

Magus stared into the infinite swirl of mist above, and then replied.

"Your assistance, dear guru."
"You're unusually talkative! Janus, I play no role in the fortunes of time."
"Oh?"
"I am leaving here forever."
"As I said, that matter is up to me."
"You!!"
"Gaspar, I need you to help me with something."
"I--!"

Magus waved his hand, instantly silencing Gaspar with a spell.

"Gaspar, have you observed the actions of Serge?"

The old sage's eyes instantly relaxed, and drifted upwards, recounting the vision of several events seen in 1020 A.D. He recalled his peer, Belthasar, and his intricate designs; the poor boy Serge, who was destined to undertake a quest to patch up negative effects of the very quest he himself had furthered, though without knowledge that the recreation of the Ocean Palace disaster would lead to such a disastrous side-effect. He did recall the dimensions, and experiments undertaken to test their relation to timelines. As the guru had been sinking into depression at this point, these events did strike him with no more than a passing relevance.

"Good. Come with me."

His vocal cords relaxed, prompting him to gasp for air.

"How did you get here?"
"How does anyone?"
"Janus--using the closed Gates forcefully stresses--the space time continuum!"
"I've more important fish to fry, at the moment, than worry about this. In addition, my name is Magus. Let us depart hence."
"You fool! I'll not come along on your--whims!"

Magus did not speak a word, but gripped Gaspar and placed him on the last column. Uttering low words on how dreary the End of Time was, Magus stepped into the light himself, and quickly manipulated the Shadow element to force the closed Gate open, allowing it to engulf the two travelers. Accompanying them were the usual azure-lidded orbs that circle in Entity-produced Gates, complete with white sparkles that dotted what has been named the ‘plane of time,' or a flat span produced by the visual effects of using such a Gate. The excursion was mundane for Magus, who had the tainted pleasure of enduring the largest time disruption recorded -- that of the summoning of Lavos, responsible for the forwarding of the planet's dream and the fall of the Mystics. However, as the aura increased in intensity, these thoughts faded to reveries and sweet nothingness, lacking purpose.

What is purpose? Is it that which binds man to life, providing a light for one to seek and work towards attaining? Or is purpose simply existing -- the search for one's destiny? Though many of the world have believed that destiny is chosen prior to birth, and that a fate is god over their actions, a few, such as Magus, rebel against the vaporous chains of this entity, striving to break free of its supposed cycle. Those who undertake this task often fall short, discouraged; however, one can only truly break free and choose one's own destiny if one never gives up in life -- even in death. The Guru Gaspar was guilty of this in some part; though his attempts to trace the dimensional tracks of his love were laborious and excruciating, he grew tired as time's sands shifted downward, eventually relinquishing the mission and abandoning his own vantage point atop the hourglass. Magus of the shadows, however, had pressed on in his personal mission, which likewise contained the ultimate objective of finding love -- though, a different kind of the affection than romance. Even in the face of the greatest and most formidable threat, the sole being Lavos who surpassed him in magical ability, Magus did not cower, but thrust forward with courage and lack of regret. The ‘mission' here is lost -- for freemen define their own purpose, and seek it vigorously, instead of casting their fate to wherever the wind may take them.

Indeed, some events may be purposeful warnings -- but speculation as this was absent, along with any other thought, in the minds of Gaspar and Magus, for the Gate traveling had rendered them unconscious in peaceful slumber; the guru's old age might be blamed for his blackout, while the formidable Magus simply may not have been prepared for the onset of soporific temporal effects. Were such things natural? Surely, these afflictions did not plague the heroes of time in their quest, and could now only be reasonably the byproduct of disruptions in the space-time continuum. Nay, these worries could not conflict with the relaxed intellects of the pair. In short time, a Gate materialized in a forest clearing, marked with a wooden post on one edge. Falling out of a dream, the two were heaped upon the ground, retaining their own vagaries as they quietly lay on the meadow under the oscillating Gate. Several hours would pass, and the sun would approach its retirement for the day, before the odd couple would stretch and breathe the sylvan growth's fresh air. Dumbfounded and groggy, Magus pulled his eyelids upward, and rolled to a sitting position. Gaspar also coughed, and peered at the mage, whose hair contrasted the orange sky. He of the shadows lifted his right arm and pointed a finger at the sage of time.

"Damn you, old man," he muttered.
"No, damn you, Janus!" the guru replied. "Where are we? This is not Truce Canyon, nor are we in the Middle Ages!"
"Shut up, and come with me."
"My, my! Is this?"

Gaspar's eyes wandered to the marker, barely readable in the sunset's pale gleam.

"This is the modern era! You did not force the Gate, did you?"

Gaspar was met with silence, and rapped Magus on the shoulder.

"I do what I must!"
"You strain the continuum! What time did you send us to?"

The approximate answer was unneeded, for high above the forest's reach stood a castle -- powerful, albeit blackened by fire damage not repaired -- that was missing some of its towers, and whose capstone was a banner displaying a proud Gryphon. Straining his eyes, Gaspar could make out several dots along the highest watchtower, and a long barrel jutting from the main keep. The vision of Magus was perfect, however -- he knew those dots were equipped with rifles and scopes, and that the shaft was in reality a piece of artillery. Fortunately, the pair would be safe among the shadows of the approaching night; this fact did nothing to calm Gaspar, however -- though his tone of voice became serious and deep; it resonated with sobriety, perhaps bestowed by the fear of those commanding the castle, or a return of purpose.

"I know that flag well, Janus. I ask you again: where are we?"
"My magic is not advanced enough to control precise Gate mechanics. We're as close as I may take us."
"To what?"
"To a key."
"I see. We're on a deceptive journey. Do you think me a tool, Janus?"
"You are--I require you."
"I see how it--"

Magus quickly hushed the guru's mouth, and ducked with the sage in his arms into a hedge. What had eluded Gaspar's auditory cortex was readily ringing in the ears of the shadowed one -- the clang of boots, guns, and military equipment. Unable to maintain his composure, Gaspar coughed, prompting one of the soldiers to break formation and check the hedge; the other guards forged on. With a wave of the hand, Magus caused every muscle in the trooper's body to relax; he crumpled on the ground.

"Power as that should not exist," Gaspar said aloud.

The alert duo eventually left the glades, alternating between crawling and walking as patrols passed by. At the exit of the forest, Magus instructed Gaspar to accompany him east; on the horizon rose smoke trails, barely visible in the last rays of the fading orb. The journey to their source was straightforward; once in the city's limits, the guru and mage paused at a small eatery. Wine was served -- at high cost, even though it had been brewed freshly in 1023 A.D. -- along with several pieces of dark bread. Gaspar saw an opportunity for dialogue.

"Now that we are settled, tell me your true intent, Janus."

Magus paused, and looked up.

"I seek something in time. You are most knowledgeable on the subject; it is thus reasonable for you to assist me."
"I thought you were dead until recently. I could not see you from the End of Time."
"Do not ever look for me," Magus began. "If meetings are to be, I will find you."
"Never fear; I haven't forgotten your reputation as a brooding, fickle child."

Magus exhaled under his breath, perhaps uttering an indiscernible curse at the Guru. Several drunkards, who had recently stumbled in from the tavern across the street, now populated the restaurant they sat in. Spraying foul curses and cheery merriments into the air, they proceeded to clear a table and encourage onlookers to behold their dancing abilities. Glass broke on the floor; the shattering sound complemented a slurred ditty of years past --

Hail to thee, dear Guardia!
A' knights and squires true;
For crimson kingly blood doth run
Through our veins of red and blue;

Through times a'gone,
And nearer still today,
Our battles shall be greatly won!
Our enemies shall be flayed--


At this point in the song, the drunken man was pulled down from the table by a few, sober men of stout build. Forthwith, the restaurant entrance was brutishly opened by a patrol of Porre troops; the squad proceeded to beat the sprawling man until he fell silent with bloody unconsciousness. At this length, the headman of the crew stood upright and raised his arm--

"Let this be a warning! Any mention of Guardia shall be punished severely! Charge of treason shall be given, fulfilled by death!"

The commander kicked the drunken man once more, causing a spit of blood. Quickly, a member of the team repositioned the table that had been displaced, while the rest dragged the Guardian supporter out of the restaurant in chains. Once their departure was complete, several patrons of the eatery left the building to the owner's objections; a faithful servant approached Gaspar and Magus.

"We're sorry--"
"It is fine, dear girl," Gaspar corrected.
"Well then -- what shall your main course be?"
"Oh, I'll have a simple stew. Janus, for you?"

Magus stared blankly.

"A cherry."
"Uh -- okay, one second," and off the waitress went.
"It is deplorable, isn't it? That history had to turn this way? I did not foresee the rise of the nation of Porre as a byproduct of the planet's dream; though unfortunately, it is now ingrained into the tablet of time. Better that a few suffer in three centuries' blink, than an entire population perish in hell fire. Ah--were it not so," Gaspar lamented.
"It can be changed." Magus' reply was simple, but meaningful.
"No! Perish the thought. You cannot save these people."
"--As if I would care."
"I didn't think you did. It is better that one stays out of temporal affairs for now; Lavos and the Time Devourer are both eradicated. The plan of Belthasar put unbelievable stress on this timeline; I believe its effects are still being manifested in some form, and may have been responsible for my displacement in another dimension."

Magus lifted a brow.

"Oh, long--long story. Anyway -- now that the timeline has been repaired, although somewhat patchworkedly, the future is mostly safe. Nonetheless, it could have disastrous effects if one were to travel in time."
"Belthasar--Project Kid?"
"That is correct. Janus, where on the planet have you been?"
"--"
"Need a refresher? Know you of Serge?"
"--Yes."
"Then you remember that Schala--"
"Schala!"
"Uhh--yes; she was freed, but unfortunately soon disappeared; from my observation, it seemed her only remaining objective was to find Serge -- a ludicrously simple task, considering everyone in El Nido and outside of time knows where he resides."

Magus's fist tightened.

"If you don't know the specifics," Gaspar continued, "when the dimensions were unified, and the Time Devourer was eliminated, the historical devices by which Project Kid was accomplished were no longer necessary, although Chronopolis is rumored to still operationally exist. The resulting dimension -- precisely the one in which we are now, which I have entitled the ‘ideal' dimension -- was simply a rewinding of natural time to 1010 A.D., with Serge implanted moments after his passing out in 1020 A.D. during a talk with a friend."
"What of Kid?"
"Well, she may not exist--I--haven't checked what occurs after the dimensional unification, actually--"
"No matter. She isn't of concern."
"I continually forget that only those who partook of Serge's quest or were outside of the normal time stream at the hour of his dimensional unification retain any memory of the event. I saw it, for I was outside of time, and the two who attended Serge in his battle may have memory. I know not how you have memory! But Janus, I know you are worried about your sister; is she the reason you've taken me?"

Silence ensued the abrupt question. While he restrained from speaking, Magus noticed that his cherry had been placed in front of him on a silver platter. Delicately lifting it by its stalk, he gently placed it in his mouth and bit it off. One crushing move with his mandible, and he was instantly spirited away to realms over and beyond the imagination; yea, that paragon of beauty and enlightenment, having once sailed the skies before meeting a tumultuous death. In those times, he had regularly enjoyed such a treat; only in the gardens of Zeal did fruit dare to grow, and the plumpest of the product was selected for the palate of the royal family. At times, the lure of this Elysium would provoke him to consider retirement there; surely, a temporal way could be found to paradise. Though his intellect had long-since surpassed the finest works of the laboratories of Kajar, and albeit he took no solace in dreams, Enhasa and the other goldenly arrayed cities of the magic kingdom always awaited him on the other side of a Gate. Though the quick eras surrounding her life were problematic and troublesome, she could be found there too--

"Well, I certainly understand that as meddlers in the affairs of time, we should look after our changing actions," Gaspar began, observing Magus relax his eyelids to the taste of cherry.
"Meddlers--" he whispered, ere finishing the fruit. "We are--the scourge of time, and reality. Our existence only hampers the normal flow of all. If it were the world's fate to perish in the spires of Lavos, so be it. Each to their own time era, yet we have no residency in the flow; we are outsiders. The End of Time is merely a rotting repose. Nothing--can come of--"
"Interfering? Drifting? And this is all fine, I suppose, as long as you have your Schala?"

Gaspar's scientific and analytical mind, only recently having a taste of love and sorrow, could not yet fully comprehend the poignancy of his comment. Magus, at this point, had become very mildly mentally unstable; his clenched fist, merely by its tightness and the actions of its muscles, began to extract the basic fire element from the air surrounding it. A subtle ring of fire circulated around his hand; the surface below the tabletop began to blacken with faint smoke. Suddenly, his gaze relaxed; he now glanced upward at the ceiling with a barely-opened mouth. The burning dissipated, and a flash of unrelenting, total determination swept over his eyes. Foolish is the man who doubts the wizard's resolve.

"There is one that I seek in particular. We leave tonight for El Nido."
"Surely; however, I cannot float with magic."
"A ferry shall suffice."
"That is, if the politics of 1023 AD haven't prohibited the luxury," Gaspar corrected.

The two stood up from the table, leaving a few gold coins as a generous tip. The open night air had begun to drift into the restaurant; outside, it proliferated with a certain cool humidity. In the distance, a number of torches marked the dock of Truce, which was bustling with fresh shipments from Medina -- packages of food and assorted magical trinkets that were distributed to antique collectors. In a neglected corner of the olden group of piers rested a ferryboat whose paint was peeling and whose body was blotched by smudges of smoke, barely visible in the evening. Traversing on the battered wooden platforms of the dock evoked a certain air of sadness; even the armed soldiers watching and checking the flow of traffic could feel weightiness in their hearts. The duo of time travelers were very familiar with this emotion, and regarded it as a passing care; they sauntered to the front office and paid thirty pieces of gold to secure a voyage to the archipelago in which Project Kid transpired. Offered scantly adorned bunks in the hold of the vessel, Gaspar and Magus accepted and prepared to sleep.

Magus was first to enter the land of Nod -- however, prior to succumbing to rest, he pulled a small, worn notebook out of his pocket, and began to flip through the pages. Arriving at one whose corner was turned and folded, his eyes focused to accommodate the curved text written upon it.

March 18th, 2334 A.D.

The final designs are in order; the simulation, accounting for a variety of possible variables, reported a successful scenario twenty-three times out of twenty-five. I believe I have attained an adequate level of control to ensure the project is carried out; the major factors are in order, including the research on the Entity -- I believe I have its favor. My troop of scientists has precisely pinpointed geometrically the opposite of Chronopolis in relation to location if El Nido were considered a circle. I later appropriately accommodated for the introduction of the tower. All stands ready. Looking back, it is a wonder that I have come this far; I shall not lose sight of the objective now. The most advanced medical science of this era has prolonged my lifespan considerably -- perhaps if I stayed few years, I could conceivably become an immortal, though there are bad connotations with that word. Only once in history has the human race come close to achieving that end, and the effects of its failure have caused the scourge I am working to eliminate now.

Ah, it seems the time has come; the robotic mechanics have left a message stating that the antiparticle shells are in place and finely-tuned. No temporal disruptions threaten my voyage now. It is time to bid farewell; if Project Kid fails, the T.D. fusion shall leave just enough time for another run -- though this time, one may have to intervene directly and empower the young Arbiter, for the T.D. would be inexplicably stronger. -- I wonder if Melchior is alive. I shall find out in due time --


The entry abruptly ceased on this line; the dark wizard might have turned and read other pages, but his eyes had become glazed for lack of sleep. As he closed his eyes, his breathing pattern became elongated and inaudible -- he was oft in danger of being mistaken for dead, if anyone dared to come across him. Across from him lay Gaspar, turning and heaving on his bare bed and attempting to quiet his raving mind. Nightmares constantly bothered him, beginning after the trip to the empty dimension. Tonight would be no exception; a shaky repose set in as his eyes closed to the dim moonlight filtering in from cracks above. After a couple hours, his sleep cycle descended at last; his brain's delta waves phased out, and R.E.M. sleep ensued. At once, the visage of Fiona became visible--

There she stood, laughing with him upon a grassy hill in a verdurous pasture in 1999 A.D. Almost suddenly, a falling sensation passed over the guru's body; he felt as if he were plummeting to a deep abyss. His love became concerned, though her distraught look perished instantaneously as the sky flashed crimson. Producing a convulsing effect, huge earthquakes began tearing open the land as spires rained, causing fiery explosions. Feeling utterly helpless, Gaspar strove to claw his way to his lover's side; unfortunately, she grew in fright, and gazed beyond. The guru immediately turned around to face Lavos itself -- its eerie eye seemed agitated and angry, and glared sharply. Numerous Gates began appearing at random, while energy streaks gathered at the eye's pupil; slowly, a beam emitted, blinding Gaspar until all became white -- yet Gaspar remained powerless! The vagary did not cease; the profound nature of the vision caused Gaspar's body to undergo that dreaded sensation of being pulled apart, arising in temporal disruptions. There would be no struggle, for as soon as these tremors were recognized, a scream emanated from all directions -- Fiona's. Gaspar's being was obliterated; what little conscious will he retained in the dream world had long succumbed to the terror of the unconscious's suffering. The normal course soon fell in; flashes of the most horrendous moments of the Guru's life were condensed and shot into the man's heart, as he lay frozen in a dead scream. Culmination in the sequence of fear was reached as the entire collection of negative emotion he had experienced from the construction of the Mammon Machine onward pounded him senseless.

One could not tell how many eras could pass in such nightmares to his perception, but a limit did exist; in due time, he fell into sweet, albeit exhausted, reverie -- he dreamt of lying in an Enhasian bed, and thought of the magical city of Kajar and its inner workings. The gentle breeze that cooled the floating archipelago and swayed its verdant pastures cradled his tired frame; he could recall standing atop a grassy cliff, and staring into the eternal curvature of the horizon. There, in his laboratory, he was at peace, researching Time Eggs amidst the greatest compendiums of knowledge ever compiled in the written word; and on bold days, he would dare to surmount the peak tower of Zeal Palace, and faint in the grandeur of the world the lay around him and within him. This return to placid zones and thoughts was almost like the restoration of balance to a tipped-scale; with each tearing down, there must be a building up. Careless once more in the realm of the ancient kingdom, Gaspar fell into a contented sleep -- save for a slight muscular pull at the corners of his mouth, indicating an unresolved, and now buried, collection of worry and fear. Better it should sink, however -- through conscious effort shall these rifts be amended, and healing would be impossible were the plague of guilt and pain to weigh heavily on his mind. Having sensed the sage's inner turmoil and subsequent resolution, Magus slightly smiled and returned to his meditative slumber.

~

In lofty social circles, rudeness is abhorred and a condemnable blight upon the desired perfection of grace; unfortunately, man cannot live without certain physiological needs, which give way to necessary evils -- would not every person desire to sleep soundly and awake by command of personal will? Waking often cannot occur in such a manner in the absence of sunlight, training, and later, biofeedback; thus, a requirement arises for a brash, rude assault upon the senses at a certain time in morning to cause a grudging departure of bed. In the case of the two travelers, a boomingly disturbing horn on the ferry rattled the hold, shaking Gaspar startlingly awake and causing Magus to wince. Activity on the deck was soon audible; the shout of brazen crewmates tainted the air with roughness. Discerning sharply the orders barked by the captain, it was readily apparent to Magus that the objective as near at hand: the famed El Nido passage lay on the horizon, though it had been made less dangerous recently through Porrean demolition. Safety aside, the waters had become increasingly bumpy. Eager to greet the planned events of the day, Magus arose calmly, while Gaspar stumbled, eventually sitting down with his head in his hands to shake off the vaporous curtains of sleep. After quick visits to the pump-operated restroom, the guru and wizard surmounted the row of steps leading to the deck, and squinted their eyes to block the glorious, risen sun.

"We have arrived," Magus proudly uttered.
"Looks that way. Amazing how this single nest has witnessed such extraordinary events. I beseech you, Magus: where are we headed?"

Magus shifted his eyes towards the main island, which now came into view.

"A backwater village."
"Arni? Janus, you don't intend to--"
"We'll see."
"Well, I pray we're stopping in Termina. If I'm to be dragged along, I'd like to have a full stomach!"

At mention of the white-walled city, Magus's mind stirred with mixed feelings of a magnitude detectable on the wizard's face. Though Gaspar marked the mighty one's sudden tenseness, he dismissed it without care and attempted to focus on the approach of another vessel; it was a steely blue Porrean assault boat, complete with a soldier waving down the ferry. To this end, the captain of the transport slipped the trooper a few pieces of silver, and the patrol guided the ship into Termina's bay, which had long been adorned with cannons -- rather than Viper gargoyles -- on its architecture. The slow entrance was eventually finished; an officer oversaw the checking of luggage of each passenger, and surveyed himself the odd pair of travelers. Fortunately, he did not irk the Magus as customs proceeded. Gaspar meanwhile surveyed the area, looking for possible participators in Project Kid; he at length spotted the owner of a local element shopped, and remembered chuckling at his plight of fungus. The guru knew, however, that there was a good chance this was not the same man who ventured according to Belthasar's plan; the theory by which this conclusion had been formed would later prove useful to the brooding mage companion.

The two soon approached a bar for procuring food and drink; inside, merchants proudly displayed dirtied wealth by ordering several servings of squid-gut pasta, whose beneficiaries were on the road to extinction. The Guru of Time strolled into a booth seat, noticing Magus, who remained in the entryway. Though misunderstanding his purpose at first, Gaspar soon realized the cause of this halting -- for there, across from him in the corner of the bar was his physical equal. Gaspar jumped at alarm, his mind racing at the possibilities. Was this man a dimensional equivalent of Magus? Did he exist in a different temporal frame? Perhaps he was Magus from the future, come to warn the pair! Gaspar could not contain his excitement, the first jocund emotion to arise within him in weeks -- a glimmer in the deep oblivion that had become his soul. Fortunately, he was slowly accepting reality, and the entrance of this Magus-double would prove interesting; it was nearly unbelievable. He thought back to Doreen's favorite advice in Zeal -- "never assume that what you see and feel is real!" -- and wondered if he himself were hallucinating.

Magus stepped forward, and his mask-wearing double failed to notice. Gaspar coughed, and suddenly, the man who appeared as a magician darted up from what must have been a quick, afternoon nap.

"You!" Magus pointed and spoke aloud, acting very out of character.
"What?! Me? Who?"
"What are you doing here? This is not a vision; why do you still exist?"
"What the hell? Are you him?!"
"Me? Do you not remember? I am he of the shadows," blurted Magus, with a painful irony.
"What is going on here?" asked Gaspar.
"Do you know this man? He has immense power!" shouted the magician.
"Power hidden in you, if you could unlock it--Guile."

Various hints of memory washed over Gaspar's mind as the name struck a chord. Indeed, there had been a traveling magician who had accompanied Serge -- a man of total enigma, rivaling Magus as a creeper in the shadows. He had displayed great skill in manipulating Dragonian elements, but of his fate at the end of the adventure, the Guru could not tell.

"Hah! Well, my existence -- I can't say."
"I do not understand, Guile. Did you not desire to return into the darkness?"
"For what reason, I ask? Venturing with Serge has been a most enjoying experience. My purpose in life was fulfilled -- but yet, my life retains its meaning. I am Guile, myself, and I have my own will -- to drift and seek the great mysteries of this world. Fate, as I've found out, is dead! Hah!"

Guile lifted a wine glass sitting next to him high, and sipped. Gaspar could not restrain himself at this point, as he had picked up on the obvious reference to Serge's victory over the FATE computer.

"You retain memories as well, son! How? Are you a time traveler? A temporal observer? Or--did you battle with the Time Devourer?"
"Ahah! You must find out yourself, and therein lies the joy of enigmas," Guile cryptically responded.
"Enough. Speak, Guile. I have power to reduce you to the dust you tread upon."
"Magus, you're far too rude. I do not mean to belittle you, but it was rather easy. Was I not in the mansion?"
"You were," the mage spoke.
"And there I was again."

Gaspar could not decipher the riddle, though Magus easily understood.

"Hah! Well, is this not grand? Guile, you're quite the stylish fool. Whatever your purpose, as you call it, may be presently, I wish you well in fulfilling it. Hah! I cannot believe this. Gaspar, let us depart. We've wasted too much time," Magus laughed.
"But I've not drunken a draught!"
"Here," Guile said, "take this."

The magician tossed a small bottle of Vin de Termina to the Guru, who gazed in wonderment before joining Magus, who was making his way through white streets to the city gates. Gaspar opened, using a crude, small cup to take a sip. The passage through Fossil Valley was marked with ease; an excavation of the dragon fossils residing there had squelched the supernatural phenomena that often plagued the area. Despite the removal of those ancient artifacts, bellflowers still grew, themselves heralding a glory that had passed. Arni soon came into view; its verdant, grassy waves shimmered, as did the sea, which gave rise to the village. It was quite a sight to see Magus in his blue apparel and Gaspar in a Guru's outfit among the poorly, but spiritedly dressed mariners. Observable in the center of the village was an old, bald man who spoke to a few kids of, according to the new generation of villagers, ‘ludicrous, impossible stories.' Gaspar smiled, wondering if this Radius had seen the Time Devourer and forgotten as Serge should have, or was merely a product of the new timeline.

Upon the docks, an aging, hat-wearing coot fished, or at least appeared to be doing so while in a slumber brought on by the brilliancy of the day -- for the sky beamed royally blue, accented by a modest few puffs of white. Among the villagers at the dock was one whose hair color matched the hue of the heavens. Gaspar's heart leaped, for he stood in sight of the man who had saved the entire space-time continuum from disaster -- the man who had sojourned in search of his own identity and fate, and had ultimately come to steer his own destiny and prevail over the implacable foe. He was the pinnacle of heroism -- and he had no memory of his own achievements, or of the forces that spurned him onward to victory. Gaspar froze while deliberating on these thoughts, and Magus moved forward, almost irreverently in the presence of such a godly figure -- though such a thought would never cross the mind of Magus, which held himself highest in all accounts. Nonetheless, the wizard's attention was fully occupied upon the young man. Out of character, he stopped moving, and motioned Gaspar to catch up.

"I hate to admit such a thing, but I'm a bit excited, Gaspar."
"Well, you should be! We would not be, save for him."
"No, no. Belthasar might have selected someone else, if not him. Regardless, do you believe he shall retain memories?"
"I--am not sure, but I will vouch that I expect it. The loss was not brought about by temporal circumstances--"
"Very well, let us move," Magus uttered.

At these words, the two slowly approached Serge, who had finished rigging a fish-catching device, and was now turning upward. He moved forward towards the couple while continuing to look down at his creation; Gaspar was startled at this advance, and the creaking of the docks under his step attracted Serge's attention. He looked up, expressionless, and gazed at the travelers, who stared speechlessly as well. Before the situation turned awkward, Magus intervened --

"Good morning. We are from Termina, and are wondering if we may hire a boatman to take us out to sea."
"Hey! We've got plenty--"
"Indeed," Magus interrupted. "Are you up to the task?"
"Uh, well, I'm a bit busy--"
"No matter. You seem a reliable navigator, and shall be paid handsomely for your service."

Gaspar could not help but smirk at the trading persona Magus had donned.

"Well, I guess I could--"
"It is settled," Magus resumed. "Lead us to your boat."

Serge smiled, for he was convinced that his quick thinking had gotten him an extra payment -- the truth of the matter being that he was at the docks out of boredom! He deftly unlashed the ropes from the pier, and ushered the duo into his vessel. Gaspar was enjoying hugely this treat of visiting El Nido; he had only once made a visit in the past, and had not the pleasure of Terminian wine and Arnian sails in that experience. The gentle rocking of the boat was hardly a bother to his sipping; the pleasure gave way to a bit of altruism, and he wondered if Magus was enjoying himself as well -- and it seemed so, if one could tell from his content expression as he observed Serge. The trio was a sizable length offshore when conversation resumed.

"Ah, sorry for not introducing ourselves earlier," the guru began. "I am Gaspar, and this is my assistant, Janus. A pleasure to meet you?"

Magus was alerted at Gaspar's honesty in dealing with names, but soon remembered that Serge was no threat.

"Yes! I'm Serge, by the way. I live in Arni, and pull my weight as a fisherman. You aren't interested in any fish, are you?"
"Well, not now--" Gaspar was interrupted.
"But of course, of course," Magus started. "Anything to enhance this day. We were wise in choosing you, navigator."
"I'm honored to serve!"
"Indeed," Magus slyly began.

The warlock was intensely searching within his mind for a way to question the experiences and memories of Serge without appearing threatening; not only might such a bad gesture hinder the facilitation of memory, but Serge may simply abandon the travelers, should danger be detected. At once, Magus arrived at a solution.

"This is a beautiful day, almost as perfect as the day I encountered in an odd dream last night. I dreamt I was in some sort of Elysium, with magnificent fruit around me. The pastures were verdant, the sky azure, and the few, stately buildings housing the people of my charge were gold and white; they were pure, sparkling edifices."
"Ha," Gaspar muttered under his breath at Magus's lack of creativity -- for he had just described Zeal, in part.
"Gaspar, perhaps you had dream of similar stock?" Magus asked, recognizing that Gaspar had caught on to his guile.
"Nay, my dream was shrouded in enigma, though I am sure I had it. I dreamt of a little boy, who boastingly told me of strange, doomful prophecies, and then began to run. Unfortunately, he stumbled upon the steps and began crying piteously, the poor urchin!"
"Yes, what a--contemptible and mysterious dream," Magus grumbled through his teeth. "You, Serge -- have you had interesting vagaries as well?"
"Well, things as vivid as yours, I don't think so."
"Oh, but do tell anyway. Dreams make such an interesting topic!" Gaspar smiled.
"Well, guys, take your pick! I seem to have many, and they're all great and adventuresome. It's really a trip sometimes! I'll be sailing, and meet a group of pirates, or go on some other venture. Sometimes, I dream of flying!" Serge said, while Gaspar and Magus exchanged glances.
"Very good, very good," Magus capped. "I don't suppose you believe dreams to disclose the future, do you? Or perhaps provide lifelike reenactments of the past? As magicians we have chanced to investigate this, and the results are surprising."
"Nah, I'm not much for that mystic stuff. Funny you guys should ask; I thought all Terminians were greedy. I admit my dreams are pretty varied and adventurous--I'd say the only thing that sometimes bothers me is a recurring nightmare. Just a stupid thing; I was frightened by a panther one time, I think, but it's nothing."
"Ah," Gaspar said in the tone of a sage. "Does this panther manifest itself in different forms, or is it always the same flashback?"
"Well, sometimes--you might think I'm stupid, but I see this man--cat. Yeah, he's like a combination of a man and beast. Stuff involving him is somewhat vague, though I do get mixed emotions."

Silence followed as Magus and Gaspar thought, neglecting to respond.

"Oh, sorry you guys. You must think I'm a case, talking about all this weird stuff--"
"Hah! Save your peace. We've seen all sorts of "weird" things, haven't we Magus?"
"Yes. We've had our share--"
"And," Gaspar continued, "I have a hunch your dreams are trying to tell you something, Serge!"
"What? What do you mean?" he asked.
"My friend means to ask: have you ever wondered if your dreams are real? Whether you perhaps suffered a bit of amnesia?" Magus smoothly delivered.
"No--well--I can daydream all I want. They're just fantasies, you know?"
"Have you ever suffered a bout of amnesia? I'll be specific," Magus marked.
"No. Well--three years ago I did wake up passed out on a beach, unable to remember the day and a few before it. How I remember even that incident, I'm not sure. I probably hit my head or something."
"1020 A.D. An important date, Magus?" Gaspar quipped.
"Indeed. It was that beach, wasn't it?"

Magus pointed with a quick movement at a beach now in sight along the shore; the sand leveled close to the coast, and behind it laid much growth and foliage. The area seemed unnaturally calm; no wind blew, and the sands gleamed especially white.

"What? Are you psychic?"
"Take us there," Magus continued.
"There's nothing on Opassa Beach," Serge protested.
"Please excuse us. Just take us there," Gaspar asked. "We're genuinely interested in this place, now that you mention it. There are rumored to be special magnetic fields that cause strange symptoms to those who frequent the area. This beach may be such an area."

Magus snickered at Gaspar's excuse, while Serge nodded and complied -- for though he appeared to be a simple islander, he truly did thirst for knowledge of his dreams, and would jump at the chance for a bit of insight. His dreams carried a profound effect upon Serge; he had been known to awake very early in the morning with beads of sweat dripping from his matted hair. He tried to remember particularly these visions, but it seemed they constantly eluded him; the resident shaman of Arni, a master fisherman doubling as a student of Mystic art, provided a charmed doll and suggested taking herbs, but the dreams would persist. Chief Radius also could not resolve the issue; though the probable nightmares were reminiscent of his own dark terrors stemming from bloody combat, he could not understand how Serge suffered such flashbacks. Serge had found that sleeping without Leena provided some relief, as he felt a mental tug when she was near him, as if she maintained a relevant position in these nightmares as well. The only true solace came in his inability to remember the meaning and content of them; unlike Gaspar, Serge had no Zeal to retreat to, but also did not have to worry about such a retreat.

He soon ran the boat upon the shallowest extent of the beach; Gaspar marked his movements, at last detecting a deep mind at work. He had yet to know how Serge would handle the attempt at reviving his memories -- whatever the technique -- and hoped that the young man would be compliant. Gaspar was enjoying his focus's departure from his own affairs; he prayed Magus's enterprise would be furthered. Though the Gurus of Zeal did not swear a rite of protection, as a knight may to a princess, Gaspar felt that he nonetheless owed obligation to Schala, and the current quest seemed a way to tie up that loose end. On that same note, it would fulfill Magus's purpose in life -- but again, this made Gaspar question the nature of purpose, as Magus's purpose was neither inborn, nor predetermined. It was his choice alone; though it was expected of him to search, he may just as easily asserted that the situation was hopeless, and that Schala could not be recovered. Might he be strong in this fashion? Eking out his own destiny, and setting the terms of his life? Nay, now was not the time to think. A wondrous event was reaching its potential.

"This is the place, is it not, Serge?" Magus asked.
"Yeah. Opassa, close to the shore edge."
"Ah, perfect. How to begin, Gaspar?"
"Janus, you're the expert here."
"I thought your name was Magus?" asked Serge.
"It seems Gaspar has dispensed with formalities. Disregard that name. Anyhow, Serge, what if I told you your dreams are real; that they are manifestations of the past?"
"What? My dreams are of huge occurrences. I couldn't have done all that in a couple days' time."
"Hah. Serge, if you could remember the memories presented in your dreams at will, would you thus believe them as true memories?"
"--I guess."
"Therein lies are problem. Serge, what was that bladed tool in your boat?"
"That's a swallow, for defense."

Magus reached into the vessel, retrieved the swallow, and kicked the boat offshore somewhat -- to Serge's surprise. He tossed the weapon to Serge, who frantically succeeded in catching it without injury.

"Hey! Be careful with this! What are you doing?" Serge cried.
"Well, in addition to seeing if the memories are still there implicitly, I'm going to light the fuse that'll result in their release -- figuratively speaking," Magus wryly grinned.

Gaspar's face alighted, as he instantly comprehended Magus's technique. Surely, if Serge were an expert of combat in his past experience as Arbiter and savior of time, relearning his abilities would be comparatively easier and faster -- if the procedural memories were still present. Knowing he was potentially on the brink of witnessing a spectacular fight, the guru sharpened his vision, wondering whether Serge still carried a Dragonian element grid. If Magus were to use true magic, it would shock Serge, and perhaps move into motion divergent thinking on his part. In regard to the magician's latter statement, Gaspar surmised that Serge's relearning would unlock, in part, memories linked to the Swallow; this entailed vastness, as Belthasar's Project Kid was won with such a weapon.

Magus drew two short swords, and twirled them in either hand. As his objective was not outright, facile killing -- as his reaper would have undoubtedly put a swift end to Serge's life -- he decided to employ useful tools for deflecting Serge's swallow while maintaining quick speed. Stepping up the intensity to the nigh-approaching duel would jog Serge's memory faster, it was theorized. Serge backed down in their presence with a worried expression on his face; his hands tightly gripped the Swallow, though they seemed dumb in their grasp. The air became quiet at this point; Magus smiled to one corner of his mouth, while Serge increasingly worried about the situation. Though he detected something wonderfully strange and exciting about the experience, he was nonetheless overwhelmed by a sense of danger, fearing a young death by two supposed Terminian sadists. Magus, however, was wholly looking forward to the situation; he hardly ever had the chance to spar, let alone cultivate skill in a "student" (even though such cultivation, in this case, would merely be recovering memory). Serge stuttered.

"What -- are you doing?"
"Serge, those memories of yours are real," Gaspar replied.
"Can't be. You're crazy!"
"I'm quite sagaciously the opposite, but whatever, as they say. My friend here is going to show you that your memories are real, and the demonstration will be quite real itself."
"Don't mess with me!"
"What?" Magus interjected. "Are you going to use that chintzy weapon to kill us if we dare challenge you? Heh--the Black Wind isn't blowing today, lucky for you. Come."

Magus began walking toward Serge, who raised his Swallow and protested the march. Magus would not cease, however, much to Gaspar's excitement. Beads of sweat rolling from within his bandana, Serge fashioned his weapon into striking position. Still, Magus continued; Serge wondered what it would be like to kill a man, as this ‘fool' approaching him would "certainly meet a fate of death." Fully confident in his limited abilities, Serge mentally prepared himself for the swing. It was not to be that easy, however -- Magus, in the blink of the quickest eye, jet forward and struck one of the Swallow's two blades with such ferocity that the weapon, in its far-reaching recoil, took its wielder with it. A sharp contrast from the speed of the blow, the pace of Magus slowed as he once again approached Serge, who, having been knocked to the sand, now stood in wonderment and disbelief. The pause did not last, however -- Serge reached within his vest, snapped an object and cried out.

"Fireball!"

Magus at once sniggered, and received double satisfaction -- one pleasure was in seeing Serge use a form of magic, and the other in the snap of his own fingers that, summoning the Water element, canceled out the crude Dragonian Element in a split-second. Such was the difference, he ruminated. Innate magic users, born with the biological and genetic ability to control the four basic elements of Heaven, Water, Wind, and Fire, could exploit the natural world in far more ways and to much greater extents than crude Dragonian Elements, mere tools that invoke a set response in nature rather than drawing upon the four elements that compose it. He could not contain himself at this length, and began laughing, perhaps at affirmation of his current superiority over the legendary arbiter, who had begun to wonder if his Fireball Element had failed.

"Tsk--you'll have to do better than that," Magus commented.

Serge's eyes took on a luminous gloss, as if something within his mind had been stirred.

"I'm a bit familiar with these tricks," he continued, removing something from within his clothes. "This particular one should produce a steady blast of Magma, should it not?"

His tactic worked. Serge, fearing the nasty Red Element, broke out in a dash toward the Zealian wizard in an attempt to stop its use. Magus immediately regained control of his short swords and held them out in preparation for a straightforward attack; Serge, however, rotated his Swallow in a quick, windmill-like fashion. Notwithstanding, Magus evaded the maneuver and wailed upon Serge's Swallow as he passed by, knocking him once more to the sandy beach. He rolled away from the wizard and stood, engaging in combat again. This proceeded until Serge became somewhat exhausted; Gaspar smiled at this point, observing the recall of the young man's fighting ability. He now reached inside his vest again; the duel had roughed him up lightly, the most visible effect being a few drops of blood around a shave on his knee.

"Who are you?" he muttered.
"Someone who knows your potential and past life, Serge. Heh--" Magus answered, while readying his swords.
"You crazy--bastards. Leave me alone!" Serge cried. "Hellbound!"

Gaspar instantly rose from his rock seat at the mention of this tech, expressing much alarm and focusing with a piercing gaze upon Magus. Hellbound was a technique used to destroy an enemy's existence by sucking one in through waves of energy; this became apparent as the area around Magus began to circle and flash. A look of surprise -- rare for the mage -- washed over his face; it soon gave way to a smirk as he formed a triangle in the air with rapid movements of the hand. At once, the natural three elements collated to allow Magus mastery of Shadow; as he masterfully dissipated the Dragonian Element, he cocked his head toward Gaspar and remarked that he was close -- that the memories were as bubbles struggling beneath a thin sheet of warming ice. The statement was soon confirmed; following up the unexpected high-level tech release, Serge unleashed an amazing amount of fury in the form of several advanced Swallow slashes. Apparently, his conscious doubts had been rendered quiet by the gravity of the dangerous situation, allowing his skills to surface at last. Magus exerted himself considerably to deflect these blows, and relaxed once all of his energy was spent. The torrent of offense signified the breaking of the mysterious veil that had locked the young man's memories away. Satisfied, Gaspar and Magus exchanged glances, and met midway twixt their distances.

"That was entertaining. We've done it, old man?"
"Yes. A little violent, Janus, but the barrier has been removed. I know not what's going to occur after this point, but hopefully the memories may be accepted by Serge's current, unknowing conscious."

The sun had begun to retreat, lending an orange hue to the sky.

"--Do you think--"
"That he'll recall something about Schala instantly? Look at that tired young man. He is spent, and if I made an educated guess, I would say that they shall trickle in, one by one, as one fragment leads unto another."

Magus remained silent; though a sunset did not yet dominate the atmosphere, he regardless stared towards the luminary in contemplation. At once, Gaspar recalled the immense attachment for Schala and trepidation Magus had for this event. A strange sense pervaded him, barely tingling his body. He grasped for its meaning, and glanced at the wizard's face -- beholding a visage of tired determination. The feeling was revealed immediately -- it was perfectly symbolized in the approaching sundown.

It was that of the fulfillment of a dream, or purpose. All know, Gaspar surmised, the enthusiasm and eagerness experienced by those dreamers upon the day they forge new objectives and fiercely vow to complete them; however, he could only guess at the nature of purposeful achievement. Was this death for Magus, in some form? His life had been totally dedicated to the search for Schala. Wisdom lay in the examination of that purpose--it had indeed been self-assigned, Gaspar knew, but what were its bitter roots? Did Magus merely feel loyalty to those of blood relation, or did he perhaps feel that Schala was his only true confidant in the vast world? Hints of answers to these were far beyond reach, locked away in the intricate, labyrinthine corridors of Magus's calculating mind, but higher wisdom seemed to be on tap. Magus truly fought for these things, as his mission was his life. Was this only due to the boredom he would face without challenge? Nay, something that simple and humanistically debasing was an elementary answer that missed the point. Had the fight f

Daniel Krispin

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Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2004, 10:08:07 pm »
Okay, firstly, I have to admit I just skimmed over it. I didn't feel in the mood to read a whole story (as a matter of a fact, I've got a mindset not to read any full fanfiction till my own is done, for fear of being influenced too much). But from what I did read, I truly think that you wrote that exceptionally well. Janus' speaking was pretty well dead on in my opinion (granted it was more formal than in the game, more like Radical Dreamers; but that, I think, is for the better). The dialogue was perfect, and fit better together, and seemed more rounded, than any Chrono fanfic I can remember seeing. The only grief I really have is the naming of the spells during the combat (fireball and hellbound; personally, I'd have made up a name for it in the Zeal tongue...); that's generally a thing I don't like in writing. But the rest of the description is so well done that this isn't major. A possible continuity error that I happened to see is that, I think, Gaspar intruduces Janus as Janus, yet later Serge says that he thought his name to be Magus. Perhaps I'm mistaken. Let's see...oh, that encounter with Guile was absolutely perfect, I think. It caught my attention as I was glancing past, so I read it, and I don't think it could have been done any better.
Quote
“Hah! Well, is this not grand? Guile, you’re quite the stylish fool. Whatever your purpose, as you call it, may be presently, I wish you well in fulfilling it. Hah! I cannot believe this. Gaspar, let us depart. We’ve wasted too much time,” Magus laughed.

If there is anything in fanfiction writing I love to see it is when something is written in just such a way. "let us depart". You know, I bet most fanfiction writers would have simply put "let's go". Or the first line of that quote: "Well, is this not grand?". I could not think of a better way to have Janus speak than that. A true fallen sorcerer prince of Zeal, he seems to be; wise in the ways of the world, powerful and somewhat cynical and mocking in his speech. Truly that is Janus.
I think what struck me more than anything, actually, is the word usage in both the dialogue and description. I tend to favor words like "mark" and things of a more literary type. Few fanfictions are written, it seems, with the intent of writing well and in a literary fashion; most just seem intent on writing some crazy story or another. Yours, on the other hand, from what I've seen, tries at philosophy, and at writing a well written story, and from what I saw succeeds tremedously. Honestly, with your knowledge of the Chrono games and writing ability, you should write a Chrono Trigger novel; I am sure you would far overshadow any other attempts at such a thing (I have seen some, but have yet to be fully impressed). I am not exaggurating when I say that if you were to do so I deem it would be publishable by Square, for I am certain that you could write not only a well written version of it, but also one so in accordance with the Chrono Trigger world as would put Square itself to shame.
Now, near the end of my glancing across I came to the fight between Serge and Janus, and it struck me as a rather interesting coincidence. Actually, I find it somewhat ironic that, in order to recall Serge's memory, Janus fights with him. It's a coincidence, but my own story there is precicely such an event, with Janus attacking Serge to convince him that his dreams are in fact reality (honestly, I wrote that a good year and a half ago).
Now the thing is, when I write my story I attempt to write it in the absolute best way possible, putting together the words and sentences in what I deem to be the most beautiful way (at least at the time). The great problem I have, however, is that while I can write decently enough (or so I should like to think), my style bears a passing resemblence to the un-colloquial style of Tolkien and such. This is good and fine in some cases (such as in large-scale battles and monologues), but I have since found that it is not quite the best in the Chrono universe (for Crono himself in my writing uses words such as "verily" and that style), and when I am forced to write in a colloquial style, such as for Serge, I falter. I cannot bring it together all that well. I can use more antique words, and use common words in more antiquated and unusual styles, but not in a way that sounds like it quite belongs in the Chrono Trigger universe. Thus my writing seems like a Chrono Trigger story, cast through a semi-Lord of the Rings light (at least, I must profess, at later points; earlier is simply not well written). What I mean to say with this is that you, through some skill, have managed to use such words and phrasings as I am fond of (and write Janus in a way that seems like to my own understanding of him), yet not be incongruous with the style of the Chrono Trigger universe; that is a thing that I have so often lamented not being able to do, and shall never be able to do (for which I will, once my one tale is told, never write fanfiction again). You said that you wished this to be a more mature piece of writing, and from what I saw of it, I can say it is. And not only is it mature, it is so while seeming in perfect accordance with the world in which it occurs. It has what so many fanfictions seem to lack: intelligence.
Now, I apologize for not reading the whole thing at this moment. I will make certain to do so when I have finally shaken off the burden of my own story (which I hope will not be much longer). It is, in fact, somewhat discouraging to read something so well done.

ZeaLitY

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Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2004, 11:49:54 pm »
Thank you, again and again. Those were my main worries, in fact; I felt that Magus was just talking too much on whole, that the story would be carried away with Magus's search and lose the focus on Gaspar, that I could not link any sort of purpose or theme to the work, and that Serge would look like an idiot through his denying the dream and appearing a country bumpkin paid to do some hee-haw sailing. However, I think worrying about writing while writing pushes one to refinement, and makes one succeed. Also, a lot of times I try to introduce characters and events without formally revealing their name, and I worry this might lead to confusion. Nonetheless, I think I wasn't too vague.

I feel as if I need a theme and end to a story to unify it; I apparently have no ability to recognize my own writing for its value in casual entertainment, but have to strive to implement something high in it. This touches somewhat on Chrono Trigger and Cross; in my own perception, Trigger is an unbelievably cool and roaring adventure, and from that is derived huge enjoyment. Cross is much slower, but higher emotion and construction is present, and it feels weightier on one as one goes through the game (that is, if you have any idea what it is about). Of course, it was fear of the cerebral that might have resulted in the Serge/Magus duel; I felt that it would provide a dramatic climax to this chapter and finally let loose the thoughtful journeying for awhile and allow us vantage of a real fight, the epitome of action (of course, I did justice to Serge's ability by implying Magus had a rigorous time blocking his last few swings).

Many things are to come; I've chosen the theme for the last chapter, as it ties in well with the whole. The loose ends and oddities I've created will be wrapped up in part, and this includes Guile. I've worried before that the next installment might run very longer than the last two, but I'm simply going to let the muse decide on that one. I've been telling these stories by letting them tell themselves; the third won't be any different.

Again, thanks for the comments. I plan to get started on the third soon, and I'll release the name for now -- Gaspar Collection III. The Echo of the Flame.

Phoenix Rebirth

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Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2004, 08:13:35 pm »
Excellent writing and i usually hate fanfiction.  Are you going to be posting any more chapters to this story? And if so when can I expect the next one?[/img]

Daniel Krispin

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Gaspar Collection II. The End of Time
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2004, 03:08:37 am »
ZeaLitY, a quick thought that was brought by the reply to another thread. What your writing of Janus seems most similar to, actually, is the Magil from RD (which, as I said in the other thread, is capable of at one point being mysterious and cold, and a moment later, as in the tea scene, being refined like a prince). You do exactly that, especially at the point in which he encounters Serge at the boats. Just thought I'd mention that, because RD is the best example we have of a post CT Janus. And you seem to have followed on that, rather than sticking with the CT Janus as most people do. As I said before, very nicely done.

ZeaLitY

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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2004, 12:52:56 am »
Thanks. As a kid, Janus can maintain his dark ways forever, it seems; as an adult, I'm sure he'd take pleasure and humor in behaving according to his unattainable royal status.

Casual Observer

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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2004, 10:42:48 pm »
Simply beautiful.  You captured the characters nicely.

ZeaLitY

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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2004, 02:33:36 am »
Thanks; I'm working on Gaspar 3. I've finished the introduction, which turned out to be 2,000 words.

Casual Observer

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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2004, 10:51:17 am »
Can't wait.

Dunsparce

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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2004, 08:39:18 pm »
Wow... This is the greatest fan fiction that I have ever read. Brilliant, just brilliant! Magus is portrayed excellently. *adds page to favorites list*

Oath

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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2005, 06:43:50 pm »
Great! I enjoyed this one much more than the first portion, although it's understandable. A familiar world and characters versus those that are essentially new.

I will have to take a bit of a counter position on one of the few things I didn't like, contary to what someone mentioned previously. I think for the most part, the speech of Gaspar and Magus are fine, but sometimes it comes across as if they're speaking the way they are speaking just to try and sound intelligent. Of course they would be more prone to use "high speech" but it seems like they go overboard. And any word that Serge says that is more than 3 letters long seems off. ; ) I never got the impression that Serge was incredibly bright, and if you consider his age, especially from what I have gathered from Cross, it seems unlikely. But that is just my interpretation and belief; you are the writer.