Chrono Trigger: Crimson Tears
It was a place like no other. Everywhere colors swirled together, creating a massive formless enclosure. He saw the boy and his companions, the ones who had been at his castle the night he had called Lavos, all lying on the floor, unconscious. Then he saw there was no floor. He was standing transfixed on nothingness.
With Lavos right before him.
Magus said to himself, “I’ve waited for this…"
“I've been waiting for you, Lavos,” he declared. “I swore a long time ago that I'd destroy you, no matter what the price! It is time to fulfill that vow. Feel my wrath, Lavos!” With that Magus attacked, his scythe striking Lavos directly in its single eye, carrying with it the sum of Magus’ magic, his hatred, and the full brunt of his wrath.
It glanced off Lavos as if it had hit a brick wall, leaving Lavos totally unharmed.
What…! Magus thought, trying to figure out what happened. That blow should have destroyed it. I have underestimated Lavos.
Suddenly, Queen Zeal, who had gone unnoticed until now, declared, “What do you think you can do? Hmph! A false prophet... You'll be a snack for the great Lavos!” She chuckled at the thought.
Schala implored “Mother, please stop! This power can only end in ruin!” The pain in her eyes told the story of how much she believed that. And how right she is. If only Schala had been listened to all of those times before this, Magus thought.
But still, the queen merely laughed.
Then Lavos attacked.
The pain was like nothing of this earth. Of course, Lavos wasn’t of this earth, anyway.
Magus flew back, striking the non-floor with a resounding note that echoed from the nonexistent walls.
Still, he rose again, with more resolve, knowing that the next few moments would decide his fate. “I won’t…be beaten!” Magus yells. “I survived the darkness to defeat you, Lavos! This shall be your Final Hour!” He struck again, with the same results as before.
“No…” Magus groans, as he slumped to the floor. He rolled over and down to the ground, making another note resound. He saw there was no hope. Lavos could not be defeated.
Then he saw the boy rise from the ground. This teen that had dared to attack him at his castle, and that had defeated him. This Crono kid. He went to challenge Lavos itself. Poor fool, Magus thought. Crono started to cast a spell, when Lavos deigned to attack.
A second later, there was nothing left of him, only a few bits of charred skin or cloth, you couldn’t tell which. The girl (Marle, Magus thinks to himself,) screamed out, and then started to sob uncontrollably.
Then it all disappeared…
…to be replaced by the Undersea Palace. The Palace was crumbling.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” the other girl, Lucca, shouts.
Schala, calm as ever, speaks up. “I can get you out. With the last of my pendant’s power…”
Magus yells out, “No! Schala, don’t!”
But it was too late. The Undersea Palace faded away as he and the others faded out.
Magus was suddenly awake, just like every other time he had that dream. I can’t believe I’m still scared awake by that, Magus thought to himself. That seems like an eternity ago. Could it have only been a few months?
He shook his head to wake up. A beam of sunlight splayed across the ground next to him. Morning had come. His final one in this time. In 1000 AD, this land of peace.
But life will go on. It must. Nothing can keep me from my goal. Nothing can stop me from finding Schala. Nothing.
The day seemed to fly by, like a hummingbird on its way to a flower. The Moonlight Parade was tonight, and everything was being prepared.
Magus strolled around Leene Square, amazed that no one thought a thing about it. Only four hundred years ago, he would have been killed on the spot if they found him here. Amazing how quickly times change, Magus thought as he dodged some workers running to hang some lanterns around the square.
He sat on a bench, watching as the square slowly became a lively, festive place. Before he knew it, the time had come for him to leave. He saw Robo and Doan walk by, talking about the future they will return to and how different it will be. Ayla and Kino, holding hands as they ran towards the telepod booth that Lucca still had set up. Last came Crono himself, with Marle by his side, and Frog beside them, talking of the past, of Cyrus (the fool that he was, Magus thought to himself), and other people besides.
They walked past the bench he was on, on up to the telepods. However, Marle stopped and ran back to him. “Come on,” she said. “It’s time.”
He rose, took her arm, and escorted her back to Crono and the others. Might as well leave on a civil note. Ayla and Kino went through first, going back to the distant past, and to establish a dynasty.
Frog left, swearing his fealty to king and country like usual. Still, there was a nice surprise as Marle kissed him, stating old fairy tales of princesses kissing frogs and all that. When I asked him if that had happened back in my castle, I was only kidding.
He was up next. He stepped up to go through, not wanting to say goodbye, when Marle asked him, “Are you going to look for Schala?”
Magus turned back in barely contained surprise. How could she know that? I told no one of anything I’m going to do, he thought. I guess I just made it obvious through how I acted. He turned and went through the gate without answering the question.
But they all knew the answer. Because there could be only one.
The gate worked just like normal. Time and space seemed to slip by like a river.
Then he heard someone call his name. His real name.
“What?” he said aloud. “Who is that?”
“Janus,” the voice called, recognizably female now as it got louder. “Help me.”
“Who?” Magus said, straining to recognize the voice. “Help you how?”
Suddenly, everything stopped moving. Schala stepped down and into view in front of him. “Save me, Janus. I can’t escape from it. It’s so horrible…so horrible…” She started to fade away, back into the nothingness she came from.
“No!” he screamed, leaping to try and grab her. He came up short. “Schala!”
“You’ll find me. You’ll find me, yet not me…” She spoke so low he couldn’t understand the words, and then he heard her say, “…where angels lose their way…” Her voice faded away.
“No!” Magus cried. “Don’t leave me, Schala! What do you mean, ‘where angels lose their way.’ I’ll find you, yet not you? Schala, wait!”
Suddenly, everything started moving again, but jumping forward, backward, sideways, left, right. Nothing was like it had been. Then everything straightened out, and he was going forward again. But something was not quite right.
Then it all stopped.
He woke up when a shadow played across his face. Immediately, he noticed his surroundings.
He was in a clearing in the middle of a forest. The sun was about halfway to its peak, and hidden behind a girl’s head, silhouetting her. She couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old. Yet, there was something oddly familiar about her.
“Who’re you?” the girl asked, an oddly familiar accent to her words. “I didn’t think anyone was out here. I traveled this wood by meself many times, and I never saw another soul.” Magus sat up and looked at her again –
– Only to see Schala. Or at least, the girl looked like Schala, but she acted totally different. And that accent. He could finally place it. It came from Lucca, the girl he had met on the quest to destroy Lavos. But, why should this young Schala…
“What year is it,” he asked her. I need to find that out first. If he knew the date, he could find a way to get home.
“Ya have been out here a while, ‘aven’t ya? It’s 1012, and the Porre Military Festival is about to start. Ya better get there and see it.” She seemed totally unconcerned about him, except maybe for his mental health.
1012, Magus thought. How could I have ended up here? I was supposed to go to 600 AD, or maybe even back to the Kingdom of Zeal. Not to the future. Unless…
“What’s your name, kid?” he asked her.
“Kid works,” she answered. “Up until now, everyone called me ‘little sis’, but now that big sis is gone…” Suddenly, she started crying.
Oh, no, not another crying kid. That is the last thing I need. But still, he gave her his shoulder to lean on. At least it gave him time to think.
Schala said I would meet her, yet not her. This looks like I’ve done it. But still, what was that about ‘where angels lose their way’? Could she mean a gate? But where? This one and all the others have sealed. There are no more gates. He gave a slight shrug, doing his best to not disturb the girl. I guess I’ll just have to find out. He felt something bounce off his chest as she came to rest on his shoulder. He reached down and grabbed it.
This girl had Schala’s pendant. The same one Marle had. The lost jewel that was the mark of a Zeal. And this girl, this Kid, had it. Now he was sure he had found the one Schala had mentioned.
He suddenly remembered something else Kid had said. “The Porre Military Festival? Since when does Porre have it’s own military? It was such a peaceful town when I was there, only ten years ago. What happened?”
Kid gave Magus a strange look. “ ’Ave you been under a rock or something? The military took over the town eight years ago, and then it spread north, taking over Guardia Castle and the surrounding towns. The royal family managed to escape, but the Porre Military became the dominating power here in Zenan, and now, it plans to conquer the Islands to the south, too. A place called El Nido.”
At least Marle is safe. I wonder why they might want to take El Nido? I never heard much about it, and from what I heard it isn’t much. Still, he needed to get moving. He stood up and said to Kid, “How’d you like to come with me? I could use someone to show me around until I know the place.”
“That’d be great, mate!” she squealed. “I could use a partner right about now.” With that, she started to walk into the woods. “C’mon, mate! We got a long walk to the nearest town!”
Magus got up, strapped on his scythe, and followed the girl into the woods. What have I got to lose?
Magus followed Kid down the main road in Porre. I don’t remember there being so many soldiers on the streets when I was here last. I don’t remember there being any soldiers on the streets last time I was here. Magus spotted a shop at the corner of the next road. He told Kid, “Stop at the shop up there. I need to buy some things.”
She gave him a shrug, and replied, “OK, mate. Whatever.” And she led him into it.
Magus walked up to the counter, but there was no one behind it, so he looked around. He saw some small daggers that he could train Kid to use. If she’s coming with me, then she needs to be able to defend herself. He also spotted some cloaks and other clothing, and he picked some out in both his and her sizes. Then he spotted a sword hanging on the wall.
Just as quickly, he realized it wasn’t just any sword.
It was the Masamune. ‘The Holy Sword That Conquered Darkness.’ And even conquered me once, Magus remembered to himself.
Magus walked up to the counter and hit it loudly. Then he laughed as the startled shopkeeper stumbled from the back room.
“Yes?” the rotund man said. If he was green and afloat, he’d be Ozzie, Magus thought, laughing in the back of his mind.
Out loud, though, he said in his best upper class accent, “I’d like that dagger,” pointing to a simple one in the display case below, then tossed the clothes he had selected on the counter. “These articles of clothing, a pack, one weeks worth of food, and that sword on the wall.” He pointed to the Masamune.
The shopkeeper pulled out the dagger he had picked from the display case, and set it on the counter. “I can get you all that, except the sword. That’s not for sale.” As quickly as he said that, Magus had grabbed and unsheathed the dagger, putting it to the shopkeeper’s throat.
“What did you say?” Magus asked. I’m glad that there’s no one else in the shop. Otherwise, I’d be arrested by now. He watched the man’s Adam’s apple bob up and down over the blade as he swallowed.
“I said take it,” the man replied. “I don’t need it.”
Magus let him go and had the dagger in its sheath and back where it had been in the blink of an eye. “That’s better,” he said. “Now how much was this?”
The shopkeeper visibly did some mental math as he grudgingly walked over and grabbed the Masamune off the wall. “It comes to 609 G, plus an extra 41 for damages,” he told Magus as he rubbed his throat.
Magus reached into his belt pouch and retrieved a 500 G piece and two 100 G pieces. He was in a generous mood, so he told the shopkeeper to keep it and walked Kid out of the shop.
The shopkeeper rubbed his throat and muttered ancient curses under his breath as he walked to the back room again.
The campfire lit the surrounding forest with flickering light, casting random shadows over the ground. Magus reached into his bag and pulled the dagger out. “You know what this is?” he asked Kid. He didn’t expect much in the way of knowledge on fighting from her, but he did intend to train her.
“Yeah,” she replied. “It’s a dagger. Ya’ use it to kill other people. So?”
We’ve got a lot of work to do, Magus thought to himself, seeing the situation was worse than he’d thought. “True, but it must be used correctly in order to be effective. I plan to teach you how to do that.”
“Yeah? That so,” she said, disbelieving. “Why don’t ya’ think I might slit your throat in th’ middle of th’ night?”
“Because you need me. You wouldn’t last long out here in the middle of the forest without some knowledge of how to survive. Right now, I have that knowledge, and you don’t. So you had better not kill me, at least not if you want to live.” Kid nodded slowly, finally getting what Magus had said. “Good. Now, let’s start with how to hold that thing right.” He handed her the dagger and pulled his own out of his pouch. He gripped it, putting the curve of the blade to the ground. “Turn yours like this.” She did.
The lessons went on for almost two hours. By the end of it though, he was surprised by how good she was doing. She had the basics of knife fighting down, and could almost do a battle with another amateur, maybe even someone more experienced than her. She really is like Schala. He always remembered that his sister could do the lessons that were way ahead of her age group, as could he. But was anything less to be expected from a Zeal?
“Let’s call it a night,” he told Kid, who was barely stifling a yawn. “It’s late enough already.”
“OK, mate. I’d still like to try and fight ya’, though,” she told him. She walked over to the shelter Magus had made, a wooden lean-to walled with rocks and covered with sod to protect from the wind and rain. A few minutes later, he heard the sounds of someone in deep sleep coming from the shelter. Ah, youth. He sat next to the campfire, staring into the depths of the flame. Such a fire that burns in her soul. She thinks she can do anything, even fight me with only her feeble skills. Yes, she has great potential, but that must be shaped and directed before it will do any good. Still, she will make a formidable ally in the days to come. And an even better friend. With that he rose from his seat by the fire and cast a water spell to douse the flames. Then he walked to the shelter, lie down in his bed, and promptly fell asleep.
Days turned into months, and the seasons changed from the heat of summer into the chill of winter. Sometime, the Fiona Forest changed from green to reds and golds, and then to the bare trees of winter. Kid and Magus remained hidden in the heart of the forest, in the part they used to call the Cursed Wood.
As Magus gathered information about the Porre Military and the El Nido islands, Kid became skilled with her dagger, and also became an accomplished thief, though this was outside of Magus’ knowledge. Magus also started to try and teach her some magical abilities, such as Fire and Red Pin (Never thought I’d be able to thank Frog for letting me see that one, Magus thought while he taught it to her), and continued to protect her like his own child.
Then one day…
Magus was walking through the city of Porre, on his way to get some supplies from the local shop. He had his cloak wrapped tight around him, both for protection from the weather and from the locals, many of whom still did not accept anything apart from the norm.
He was just crossing the Town Square as he overheard some people talking about a robbery that had taken place.
“Looked like ‘n amateur job to me,” said one of the locals, an elderly man. “It was too shabby for a professional. But still, they can’t be too bad, seein’ as t’ what they stole.”
“But of course,” said the other, who couldn’t have been older than twenty-five. “That thing was under the best guard in the entire museum, with several of Lucca’s machines protecting it, and there were even several armed guards patrolling nearby. I just don’t see how an amateur could steal an item like that.”
After that, Magus couldn’t stand it any longer. He walked over to them and asked them, “Excuse me, sirs, but what was stolen? I just came in this morning and haven’t heard the news.”
The elder said, “Why, the Hero Medal. What else would be so protected in this town?”
Magus nodded, then turned slowly and walked off. “What a loon,” they said when they thought he was out of earshot. He heard, but didn’t care. He was wondering who could have pulled off a theft like the one they described. Only someone armed with magic could have pulled that off, he thought. All my old partners are too good to be thieves, and there isn’t anyone else who —
Magus stopped in his tracks. Only one other person knew anything about magic. And she might not even have had to use it to get into the museum at night. She was small enough and plain enough to hide even when one looks directly at her.
Magus hurried back to his campsite. He had to confront her. Now.
“Kid!” he thundered once he returned to the camp. She immediately came out of the low tent that she called home.
“Yeah, waddaya want?” She looked at him with an impatience that said, I really wasn’t doing anything important, but I want you to think that I was.
He stepped to the tent door, shoved her roughly aside, and strode inside the tent. While roomy enough for her, it was small and cramped to him. He searched throughout the tent, in every nook and cranny, and in every bag and container, and then he found it.
For a moment, he was surprised. After all these years, it still looks like it did the day I first saw it on Cyrus’s body. He suddenly remembered why he was searching for the Medal, and pivoted to look Kid directly in the face. She stood there and looked resolutely back, as if challenging him to do his worst.
“Why did you take this, Kid? And don’t lie to me,” he said as she opened her mouth to speak, “that you found it somewhere. I know exactly what this is and where it’s from. So don’t even bother trying to make up a story.” He gave her a look that made her know that he was serious, and that there would be dire consequences for lying.
She debated his look for a minute, and finally said, “I heard a couple men braggin’ out in fron’ the shop, sayin’ how this ‘ere tre’sure was the most valuable t’ing in town. They also said it couldn’t be stolen. So, me bein’ me, I had to go and prov’em wrong.”
He listened to her words and debated them in his mind. It was not a good excuse; far from it. However, he was amazed at her skill. Those men she talked about had been right in the first place: this jewel could not be stolen. And yet it just had been.
He said to her, “From now on, you are not to steal anything without my express permission.” She nodded her consent, almost enthusiastically, since she knew that she should have been punished extensively. “Since you have already taken this,” he said while holding up the Hero Medal, “We shall have to keep it. We can’t very well return it and have at least you and very well me, as well, arrested. Now come with me.” He decided then and there to tell her more about his past, more than he had told anyone before.
She came along, with the look in her eyes of someone who has just narrowly escaped near death. Magus, upon seeing that expression, said to her, “Don’t think that you’re not going to be punished.” Her head sank to her chest. “It’s just that I admire you’re bravery, skill, and your spunk. Now, it’s time that I told something that you have not needed to know, until now.”
They stepped into his tent. He waved Kid over to the cot that served as his bed. Meanwhile, he stepped over to a chest against the far wall. He opened it, and pulled out a sword in its sheath. He drew it, and the brilliance of the blade made it immediately clear what it was. The Masamune had become whole again, and its glory shone through.
“Wake up, Masa,” someone said softly in the tent.
“I’m awake, Mune,” someone (Masa?) replied.
“It’s time to go and work some more,” said Mune.
“No,” said Masa. “It’s not the right time. We still have some more time to wait until then. And the journey there will be across many miles, and miles upon miles. Then we will wake truly.”
“Whoa. That wasn’t you speaking, was it, Masa? Well, I guess we must sleep some more, then. First, shall we see what these people wanted? It’s the least we could do.”
“Alright. What do you wish us to do?” Masa said, finally addressing Magus.
“I wish,” said Magus, “that you would attempt to relate to my companion here what has happened to bring the world to this point, and spare no details.”
Mune asked, “Even with Lavos? Even the corruption of the Zeal dynasty? Even your defeat at the hands of your future comrades?”
Magus replied, “When I said spare no detail, I meant it.”
And so, Masa and Mune told Kid the tale of Crono and his band of adventurers, as they strove to defeat Lavos, and to cast him and his spawn into the darkness forever.
But they didn’t end their tale at the end of the fated party’s adventure. They continued on, but they shifted and started to tell of a young boy, born not seven years ago in this time, and of how he is destined to walk where angels lose their way.
When he heard them say that, he immediately stopped them. “Where is this place, ‘where angels lose their way’?”
Masa replied, “It is in the El Nido Islands, to the south. Only the boy, the Arbiter, may pass through, and only at the chosen time.”
“Yeah, Masa. I believe that, though this man before us will not be able to pass through it, the girl will. Her destiny is entwined with the Arbiter’s.” Magus looked slightly surprised. The girl? What does she have to do with this? He glanced at her, and saw that she looked as surprised as he felt, her almond-shaped eyes getting even wider with wonder than they normally were. Then Mune continued. “However, I do believe that the man shall be linked to these events much more closely than we may ever know. What do you think, Masa?”
Masa paused for a moment. He finally replied, “I do believe that you are right, Mune. Both of them are inseparably linked to the boy, yet he only knows of the one. Still, where the one goes, the other will follow. But we have revealed too much. We shall return to our slumber, but only after we make one request of the one who wields us.”
Magus breathed deeply, and then asked, “What do you want from me?”
“Take us to the El Nido Islands,” Mune replied. “We have a part to play, as well, even though we don’t know what it is.”
Masa elaborated, “All that I know of it is that it has a bad feel to it. But that is all I can sense of it. Please take us there, so that we may play our role in these events.”
Magus told them, “You have my word, the oath of a Zeal, that I shall.” He thought privately to himself, Now I have the excuse that I wanted to go to the Islands.
Mune said, “Thank you, Magus. We shall now go back to our slumber.” Silence reigned in the tent for a few minutes.
Finally, Kid spoke up. “So, we’re goin’ to the Isles, are we?”
“That,” replied Magus, “seems to be so.”
Magus and Kid found passage on a ferry going to the El Nido Islands later in the spring of 1013. No one attempted to look at their passports, or to search their luggage, especially after Magus slipped them a few extra gold pieces. Luckily, he could make them easily enough to spend them as freely as he did.
The transport that they took was a ship captained by a man named Fargo, who looked as rough as the rocks that made the cliffs of the port near Porre. He was married to a mermaid, as strange as it seemed to Magus when he first came aboard. He had known of the mermaids before, of course, back in the 600’s. He had lead the Mystics, after all, and they had dealt with the demi-human races of the El Nido Islands some before. Still, he had never heard of a mermaid marrying a human before, or of any demi-human marrying a human period. Modern people with modern ideas, Magus thought.
By this time, Kid was an accomplished thief, and extremely good with her knife, being able to do Red Pin several times a battle now. Still, she lacked some of the refinement of her magical abilities that Magus had come to expect. He supposed that he could live with it.
The ship departed from Porre about an hour after Magus and Kid got on board. They were able to stow their gear below decks in their cabin, and then went to the upper deck to see the ocean. It’s amazing, Magus thought, that in all my years, I’ve been onboard a ship only once or twice. No matter how much you’ve done, there’s always more that you haven’t.
They stood by the railing as the sun went down about three hours later. Fargo walked over to them, and asked them, “Have ya settled into yer rooms yet?”
“Yes, we have, Captain,” Magus replied. “They are quite satisfactory, thank you.” Magus finally asked a question that had irked him since he got on board: “Are we the only passengers that you have on this ship? It seems to be a large ship to carry just a few passengers from port to port.”
Fargo gave Magus a solemn look. “We mainly carry cargo whenever we leave port. However, there is one other passenger on board. His name is Lynx. He seems very similar to you, as a matter of fact. He has the air of a man with something to hide, and the ear of General Viper of the Acacia Dragoons, a very powerful organization in Termina, and he is therefore extremely influential in the politics of that city.”
“I’ll be sure to keep an eye on him as we sail.” Magus thought to himself as Fargo turned and left, I think that he’s telling the truth. And if it is as he says, then even keeping my eye on him will be difficult.
As the ship sailed to Termina, he began to find out more about the captain and his wife. They seemed to have two kids, Nikki and Marcy. Neither one of them are very old, with Nikki being as old as Kid, and Marcy being about six months. Still, Magus had this feeling that they would be important in the future. Also, Fargo’s wife, Zelbess, seemed to have met him after he was betrayed by his crew.
Still, something seemed odd about this trip. Despite the captain’s warning, Magus never saw the other passenger, this Lynx character, until they were well out to sea.
As a matter of fact, they had been at sea for a week before anyone saw Lynx at all. Magus and Kid were talking with Fargo, Zelbess, and Nikki over lunch, when he came up from below decks. Magus immediately understood why Fargo had thought that Lynx and Magus were so similar. They both wore similar style clothing, though Lynx’s had a more dress uniform type look to them. Also, they both had a gleam in their eye that only comes from contact with pure evil. However, where Magus had been able to help overcome that evil, it seemed as if it had twisted and corrupted Lynx.
Lynx walked up to the deck, and looking over his shoulders, made his way to the railing and looked over at the sea. I guess it’s high time I introduced myself to him, Magus thought as he excused himself and walked over to Lynx.
“Hello, sir,” Magus said to Lynx. “Nice to meet you after we have been at sea for so long. My name is Magus. And yours?”
Lynx turned his head slightly and looked at Magus. He seemed to deliberate his answer, and then said, “My name is Lynx. What business do you have with me?”
“None,” said Magus. “I merely wished to have a friendly chat, is all.” Also, Magus thought, I wished to find out more about you, so I am not in the dark. I hate to be in the dark. While he was thinking, he maintained the air of a rich man on a cruise, or maybe a safari.
Lynx then replied, “Then I believe our business is concluded.” He turned and went back below decks.
Magus held up a hand to try and stop him, then considered better of it. Lynx seemed to be a man who had little or no patience. Also, having claws didn’t hurt his appearance of ferocity, either.
Magus walked back to the table where Fargo and the others were continuing their lunch. He must have looked obviously befuddled, for when he sat back down Fargo said bluntly, “He's ‘n odd man.” Fargo had that ‘I told you so’ look on his face.
The rest of the meal passed in silence. Kid looked Magus’ way every once in a while, but said not a word. What could he be hiding? Magus thought to himself. What secret could he have that he would need to be so cautious? Could it be that he’s killed someone, or maybe stolen some priceless artifact?
The rest of the day passed by without incident. When night fell, Magus took Kid to her room, and saw her to bed. Then he went back out into the hallway, and saw that his door was open, just ever so slightly. Still, that alone was enough to set Magus on edge. He readied a spell, and edged his way into his room. As he went in, he could here a soft rustling of someone going through his trunks. As Magus went along, he hit his thigh on a trunk, somehow without making a noise. He felt in the top of it, and then he realized which trunk it was. He grabbed the Masamune from out of the box with both hands, and then cast a Fire spell to start the lanterns in the room.
Lynx swiftly turned from leaning over the bed, and grabbed Magus’ scythe, bringing it to the ready position as fast as anyone Magus had ever known. Magus issued a challenge: “What are you doing in my room, Lynx?”
“As a matter of fact, trying to find the very thing you’re holding. That is one of the last things I need to ready myself for the Dead Sea.” Then, Lynx muttered something under his breath that Magus couldn’t hear. “Still, neither you nor anyone else on this ship shall take it away from me!” He leapt towards Magus with the scythe ready to slice head from body.
Magus ducked and rolled to one side, bumping into a dresser, and rose, readying himself to defend against his opponent. Lynx landed and rolled back over, standing to face Magus again. The circled, coming forward and back as they avoided furniture and boxes. Then, Lynx charged.
How little discipline. Magus sidestepped at the last instant, and brought the hilt of the sword down on the back of Lynx’s head, then brought the sword down to counter the scythe that was still in midswing. Lynx fell to the ground, and slowly staggered to his feet. Magus backed off to the center of the room, and got between Lynx and the door.
Just then, Zelbess came in. Magus, startled by the door opening, turned around to see who it was. Seizing the moment, Lynx dashed forward as fast as his reeling head would let him, and grabbed the Masamune out of Magus’ hand, and ran for the door. He spared no quarter on Zelbess, and cut her down where she stood, just because where she was standing was in his way. Lynx kept running.
Magus was out in the hall in a moment, immediately hearing a call of “Zelbess!” from farther down the hall. Magus, as much as he wanted to try and help the dying mermaid, had no choice but to grab the scythe from where it lay by the door and chase Lynx out onto the deck.
He reached the deck, and was greeted by utter darkness. He cast a lightning spell on his scythe, and the jewel on the end flickered to life as the energy flowed into it. By that light, he saw Lynx running to the bow, and immediately gave chase. He must be stopped. He has already killed one innocent. How many others could die by his hands?
Lynx sensed Magus’ approach, and kept running, past the boats, past crewmen, and on to the bow, and then realized his mistake. He had run as far as he could. And Magus was still following. Lynx turned to prepare for the oncoming threat. Magus kept charging, using his momentum to add force to his swing as he brought the scythe across Lynx’s chest. However, when the blow should have connected, Lynx was suddenly not there. He had disappeared.
Magus’ momentum kept him turning, until he was facing back to the stern. He was looking just in time to see Lynx be met with an enraged Fargo, who was matching Lynx blow for blow in a fight that neither could hope to win. Fargo, with the fury of a man possessed, swung his blade back again and again, driving Lynx back, and back again, keeping him on the defensive, until Lynx ran into Magus. Magus then cast a Magic Wall between the two combatants. Fargo’s next blow ran into a wall of pure magic, and clinked off harmlessly.
Magus, though, grabbed Lynx and disarmed him. Then, he hit Lynx with the pommel of the Masamune, and knocked him unconscious. Lynx slumped to the floor, coming to rest with a thud.
Fargo, still raging, kept striking the wall with the same fury, and subsided only after nearly ten minutes of Magus and his crew trying to talk some sense into him. A good thing, too. My wall wouldn’t last much longer. Magus walked over to where Fargo was seated on the deck, shaking and crying, letting the rage he had had only a moment before vent itself from his body.
Magus bent down and said to Fargo calmly, “As much as Lynx deserves it, killing him is not the answer. We have to find out why he wanted the sword bad enough to kill for it, and even how he knew I had it. He will die. Be assured of that. But not today. If I must, I will kill him, and will never think another thought about it, but he will die one way or another.”
“No, I will not die today.” Magus whipped around when he heard Lynx speak. “Nor will I answer any questions or demands you may have.” Fargo, upon hearing Lynx, leapt straight at his throat.
Fargo fell to the deck a meter past where Lynx had stood. Lynx had disappeared. His voice, though, came from every direction at once. “We will meet again, Fargo. And you, as well, Magus. I shall obtain the sword, one way or another, one day. Soon.”
Everyone stood absolutely still. No one could believe that Lynx had just vanished from the ship like that. Fargo let out a howl of rage and anguish at Lynx’s words, and then sent his crew to find him, and to kill him on sight.
Magus went in to check on Kid immediately, hoping that she was still asleep. She was sleeping peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened. How did she manage that? We were fighting right across the hall, and then the scream from Fargo should have woken her. Magus had no clue as to how she could have done that, but she had. She must be one of that rare breed of people that truly are innocent. Magus went back to the deck to help the search.
They searched for hours, from the time that Lynx disappeared to well past midnight. No trace of him was ever found. They searched through his room and found nothing but some old weapons, the picture of a boy, maybe a year older than Kid, and some clothes like the uniform Lynx had worn that day. No trace of the actual person was ever found.
Magus, deciding that there was nothing else he could do to find Lynx, went back to the foredeck and started looking for Fargo. He was right where he had been when Lynx disappeared. He was still there weeping, and trying not to let on to the crew that he was. Magus, though, could see right through him. Magus approached Fargo, and gently said, “Do you need anything, Captain?”
Fargo snapped back, “Not a bloody thing, and especially not from you. If it weren’t for you, my wife would still be here beside me, not lying on the deck down below.” He stopped for a moment, trying his best to contain the fury that boiled down inside him. “If we weren’t out in the middle of the sea, I would throw you off this boat right here and now. After I take you to Termina, you will never set a foot on this boat again. If you do, I will not be responsible for the consequences.” Magus nodded, showing that he understood. Fargo turned and walked away from Magus, and went below.
The following day, Magus and Kid attended the funeral for Zelbess, and then remained below decks for the rest of the trip to Termina. Magus understood what Fargo was going through, though he knew nothing that could help Fargo. Luckily, the rest of the trip was quick, ending about four days later. Magus and Kid packed their things, which thankfully still included the Masamune, and left the boat. Fargo was standing on the deck as they left, and he sent Magus a look that held enough venom to have killed an elephant. Magus, though still unafraid of Fargo, respectfully hurried Kid along to get away from the docks to the town.
If this is the largest of El Nido’s cities, Magus thought, then there can’t be much here. I’ve seen towns bigger than this back on the mainland. While that might have been an overstatement, it wasn’t much of one. Termina boasted a few shops and inns, even a tavern or two, but that was it. The only thing that it seemed to have a profusion of, though, was soldiers.
There seemed to be one on every street corner, with their swords drawn, and the sun gleaming off their armor. They looked as stolid as any of the castle guards back at Guardia Castle had, and even more self-important than the Guardians had been, and that was saying something. No one seemed to be worried about the soldiers, so Magus assumed that they were normal for the city.
Everyone was headed to the statue in the center of town. He didn’t recognize the person represented by it, but that didn’t surprise him. He followed the crowd anyway.
As he approached, he started to hear someone speaking over the noise of the crowd. “People of Termina, the enemy is at the gates! He has taken city after city on the continent, taken over kingdom after kingdom! Shall we let him take over our fair islands, too!"
“No!” all the people shouted in unison. The only silent people in the crowd had the look of visitors, and were not so easily excited. Magus noticed that the man shouting on the platform under the statue in fact was the man depicted by the statue. He must be a very important man, Magus thought.
“My friends, I agree with you to the very depths of my soul. We must not let this foreign oppressor take us! That is why I, General Viper, have brokered an alliance between my Acacia Dragoons and the one man in these islands who can guarantee us the power necessary to keep us safe: Lynx.”
“What…” Magus whispered hoarsely. He grabbed Kid by the hand. “Come on, Kid. We’ve got to leave right now.”
“Why? The show just got started!” She ran along anyhow, knowing better than to test Magus when he’s in this mood.
“Because that man that’s coming on the stage now tried to kill me a few days ago. If he sees me now, he just may well try and do it again.” And I don’t want to see you hurt because of something I do. He didn’t say that last part out loud. He knew that she wouldn’t listen to that anyhow, and the thought of what happened in the Ocean Palace was still too painful. He did not want to see that happen again.
He was making his way to the back of the crowd. People were flowing round him, hoping to move closer as he moved away. Left, right, left, right. He kept moving to the back of the crowd, one step closer to the edge.
“You!” The shout came from the stage. “Stay where you are, Magus! We shall finish what was started days ago!” Lynx suddenly appeared in front of Magus. The people who had moments before started to go forward started to run in terror to the side streets and alleyways, anywhere to get away from the fight that was about to happen.
“Kid, run. Now!” She needed no more prompting than that. She immediately ran into the crowd and disappeared.
“Now, as for you. You will not make it back to your precious General Viper, Lynx. You shall taste the wrath of one who has defeated more than the mere likes of you!” Magus drew his scythe from its holder, and took a fighting posture, ready to strike anywhere, anytime.
Without a word for challenge, Lynx leapt into the air, drawing his own scythe as he did so, and came down at Magus with a crushing blow. When the blow landed, though, Magus was no longer there. He had dodged immediately back to where Lynx had leapt from, in effect switching places with him. However, that was not the only trick up Magus’ sleeve for now.
“Lightning 2!” Magus said, and invoked the spell. Lightning shot from every part of his body, all of it heading straight for Lynx. However, Lynx, with reflexes like the cat he was, threw his scythe in front of him. All of the lightning hit the scythe, and left Lynx untouched.
“So you want to fight that way, do you? Feral Cats!” Behind him, a huge cloud of darkness descended. Eyes blazed in the dark, first one pair, then two, four, eight. Dozens of them hung in the blackness. Then they shot out. Wildcats, lynxes, all types of cats shot out at Magus, claws ready to dig into him as soon as they reached him.
“Black Hole!” The air around Magus went as black as that behind Lynx. Every one of the cats that had been attacking Magus suddenly disappeared about three feet in front of him. Magus, knowing that the black hole would move with him, ran forward. While the cats still came, and were still being captured by the black hole, Magus grabbed Lynx’s scythe. He kept running. He swung out with both scythes as he neared Lynx. The swings were perfect. Both of the scythes would cut straight through Lynx’s feline body. But they swung through nothing. Both of the spells dissipated, so Magus could see what had happened easily. Lynx had disappeared.
Magus swung around, his own scythe leading the way. He connected, throwing Lynx to one side like a rag doll. But he immediately got up and came running back to Magus. He had his claws ready to take a chunk out of Magus’ body, ready to do whatever damage he could do. Magus dropped Lynx’s scythe in order to get more power behind his blow, when Lynx dropped down, and running on all fours at an impossible speed, grabbed his scythe again and struck Magus with a blow like the one Lynx had received before. Magus, a bit stunned by the blow, didn’t see the next one coming. Luckily, Lynx was in little better shape. The swing meant for Magus’ neck, went over his head instead. Magus knew exactly which attack to use now.
“Dark Matter!” Lynx was lifted up, over the heads of the crowd, over the tops of the buildings, and just hung in the air. Then, a pyramid formed, totally surrounding Lynx, and the vacuum of space shown in it. Lightning crackled from inside, streaking from the edges of the pyramid to strike the lone figure in the center of the shape. Lynx was hit by the lightning once. Twice. Again and again, he was struck by that magical lightning. The pyramid spun around, as if it were a gyroscope on a wire. Finally it dissipated, and Lynx fell to the ground.
He was obviously not breathing. Blood bubbled in his mouth and nose, and his arms hung limply by his sides. His right leg was bent at an unnatural angle on the ground. There could be absolutely no question. Lynx was dead.
Then the body flickered. It seemed to fade in and out for a moment, and then was replaced by something almost feline, but more like a shadow than anything else. It lay there for a moment, and then it too disappeared.
Magus stood there, shocked and in disbelief. How could he have fought something that was merely a shadow of his true opponent, and still have had to use his most powerful spell just to kill it? How could this have been possible?
He never got the chance to think about it very much. The man who had been speaking from the platform got down there just then. The General asked him, “You are an enemy of Lynx?”
“Yes, sir, I am. He attacked me and a group of innocents on a trip here from the mainland. He even killed one of them. That makes us enemies.”
The General replied, “Then you will not take it personally when I tell you to leave my city and never return. An enemy of my friend is my enemy, too. You will be allowed to take your things before you leave, but leave you shall.”
There was no room for doubt. “It shall be as you say, sir.” Magus turned and headed to the docks. There, he collected his things and left. He was in too much shock to realize that Kid had disappeared during all of this. She had vanished into the ether, as if she had never even existed. But he collected his only belongings and left, only later realizing just what he had forgotten.
He kept on, going down across the island, through the forests and the valleys, each time wondering how it had all come to this. He slowly wandered down to the southern coast, where he found a village. It was a place known as Arni. He made his camp outside the village, in the nearby forest, so no one could find him, going into town only to get food or supplies. And he was never bothered, not for a long time. Until…
Magus was sitting by the campfire, eating his evening meal, when he heard a loud chanting sound behind him. He turned and looked, only afterwards realizing that it was futile at night. So he got up, and taking a stick from the fire to light his way, he walked into the darkness.
As he was walking, he thought that he could hear the sound of rushing water, as if there were a waterfall nearby. He walked onward, never seeing anything, until he felt the decaying leaves of the forest floor give way to solid rock. He could see the torch he held glinting off the water in the river below, and the waterfall off to the side. He could see light in the opening of a cave at the top of a ledge, and heard the chanting coming from within. He followed the ledge with his eye, and saw that it ended on the far side of the river, and that it was on ground level.
Magus stepped back nearly to the woods behind him, and running as fast as his legs would take him, leaped across to the other side of the river. He let the momentum of the leap carry him on up the ramp of the ledge, until he was nearly parallel to the cave. Then he walked on into the cave’s mouth.
Inside, he was immediately aware of the presence of many… mystics. At least, that’s what they seemed to be. But the Mystics were from all the way on the Zenan continent. Still, they all seemed to be Mystics. Humanoid, but still animal-like in their appearance, they were Mystics. But they couldn’t be… could they?
One of them turned around, and seeing him, they cried out in surprise. They saw that he was not the typical, run-of-the-mill human. Still, they were afraid of them. However, one of them (the leader?) approached him, making their way through the mass of people, until he could see that she had to be the leader of them.
She came up to him, and drawing herself up, possibly trying to figure out what to say, and seemed to study him. After a few awkward moments, she said to him, “My name is Direa. I lead the demihumans here on El Nido. You would be the Magus, wouldn’t you? We have heard of you, since some of the Mystics from Zenan ran here after your great war against the Guardia Kingdom. How is it that you have survived so long?”
Magus was kind of shocked by her, and was struck speechless for a second as he took in all of what she knew about him. Recovering, he told her plainly, “I have my methods. Now, what are you doing here, Direa? I have camped near here for months, and have never heard your people come or go from here, nor have you held a service like this here. What exactly is this?” She looked at him, and then told him, as if to a child, “This is the place that the demihumans of El Nido keep sacred. This is the Divine Dragon Falls. We come here every year, praying to the dragon gods to protect us that year, and to keep us from the humans. Now, what are you doing here? Your place is in the north, on the main continent. Why do you grace us with your presence?”
Magus could here the sarcasm dripping from her voice. Still, he felt that he could trust her, and so recalled to her the story, albeit in a very condensed form. As he did so, most of the people drifted out of the cave, but Direa seemed to be captured by the story. He finally closed with how he had come here, and then asked, “Where are you actually from? I’ve never heard the villagers talk about a village of demihumans.”
She laughed softly, and then handed him a stone. “If you ever find yourself in need of a friend, or of a place to go when no one else will take you in, just go to the stream out here, and hold this stone. Close your eyes, and think of absolutely nothing. When you open them again, you will be standing in my village. Anytime that you need me, just come.” With that, she turned and walked out of the cave.
Magus turned and watched her from the mouth of the cave, and saw her make her way down to the river. She walked out into the middle of the river, and holding her stone to her body, she disappeared.
Magus scratched his head, and wondered just who she was. Realizing he wouldn’t get any answers tonight, he started back to the campsite, and went back to sleep.
The next day, he went into Arni for some supplies. He spent several hours there, haggling to get the best price when possible, and generally listening for any interesting news. He asked around about the demihumans, trying to figure out just what they wanted and what they were doing last night, when he overheard something.
“Who was that guy that came through last night?”
“I don’t know, but he sure was funny-lookin’. He seemed to be lookin’ for someone, but I wasn’t sure who it was.”
Magus turned to look at the two men talking, looking at them sitting in the corner of the bar. When he did, the second one that had spoken looked at him and told his friend, “That’s him! That’s the one that the guy last night was lookin’ for!”
Magus immediately walked up to him and asked the man, “What did this man you met last night look like?”
The man, startled, looked up at Magus, and with his blue eyes locked on Magus, said, “He was about your height, and dressed sortuv like you. Thing was, he was furry all over-” The man’s eyes went directly over Magus’ shoulders. “And he’s standing in the doorway right now.”
Magus turned slowly around, ready to strike or defend as was warranted. But Lynx just stood there, looking at his enemy. He looked Magus directly in the eye, and then turned and walked out. As he did so, Magus could see a sword strapped to his waist. The Masamune! Magus immediately started to run, going full tilt out the door, and met Lynx with a blow that would fell the Hydra of the local swamp in a single blow.
But Lynx wasn’t there. He was floating directly above the town square, holding the Masamune in his hand. “Now, now, Magus. Not here in front of all these people. Let’s take this someplace a bit more… remote.” He snapped the feline fingers on his other hand, and he disappeared. So did Magus.
They reappeared in the clearing where Magus made his camp. Magus, stunned at this display, never saw Lynx strike him. The blow knocked him all the way across the clearing and into the woods. Time to wake up, he thought to himself, cursing his own stupidity. He stood up and readied his scythe just in time to deflect another blow from the Masamune. He noticed that the light emanating from the Masamune, which had always been white, was slowly turning darker, becoming a purple color now. The sword also seemed… different, somehow. It still looked the same as it had last, but the change was definitely there.
Snap out of it! Magus yelled to himself. He brought his scythe around, swinging it directly at Lynx’s head, only to have it deflected, and Magus was back on the defensive. Block, swing down, block, block. It all seemed to just blur together. Then Magus got an idea.
“Magic Wall!” Lynx was in the middle of a swing as Magus cried those words. The blow landed with a thud about meter in front of Magus’ face. Magus ran to the river, then across and into the cave. He knew that he didn’t have much time. Entering the cave, he jumped straight up, and steadied himself on the rock outcroppings above the door. Then, he waited. But not for long.
Lynx came rushing in about three minutes later. He stood in the doorway, wondering just where Magus had gotten to. Then Magus struck.
His scythe came down directly on Lynx’s hand, cutting it and the Masamune from the arm in a cloud of blood. Still carrying through on the motion, Magus picked up both and threw them deeper into the cave. Suddenly, he heard a cry echoing through the cave, the anger and pain in it making it resound all the more in the stone chambers.
Magus awoke in a strange bed, the smell of the sea strong in his nose. He wasn’t sure how he got here, or –ow! He looked at his arm. It had been bandaged in at least five places, each of which needed to have the dressing changed, and was also splinted. He looked at the rest of his body. It wasn’t in any better shape than the arm was.
What happened to me? Magus wondered. He carefully sat up in the bed and looked around the room. It was a wooden hut, with a table next to the bed, and a chest of drawers at the foot. The door was just a sheet strung across the doorframe. Then, the sheet was pulled back and a tall man, hardly out of his teens, walked in. He walked over to the bed, and pulled up a chair.
“Hi,” he said. “Nice to see you’re finally awake. I’m the doc here in the village.”
Magus looked the doctor over, and didn’t like what he saw. Did he really do this? Magus wasn’t sure if he liked that idea. The doctor couldn’t have been more than eighteen, probably younger. And here he was practicing medicine. That didn’t settle real well with Magus. He tried to sit up, and fell right back down with a gasp of pain. The pain went straight up his spine, down his arms and legs. It was as if Crono had just used Lightning on him. Again.
“Take it easy there,” the doc said. “You won’t be able to do much for about a week or two. You’ve got to give these wounds time to heal. I practice medicine, here. Not magic.”
Yeah, but I do. I would be able to heal myself, but I’m too injured to be able to do even that. Magus settled back down on the bed and went back to sleep. Maybe I’ll wake up, and this all would’ve been a bad dream or something. He drifted off and dreamed dreams of palaces beneath the waves.
He wasn’t dreaming, but the next weeks passed like he was. Before he knew it, he was able to leave again, and he did so without looking back. When he left, he saw Direa and her apprentice, Steena, standing nearby. He went over to them and asked, “How was it that I got here? I don’t seem to be able to remember ever getting here, but just woke up and here I was.”
Direa looked up at him, and then said, “You appeared here, evidently from the use of that stone I gave you. You were badly wounded, mostly from magic. You were unconscious, and so we called the doctor in to take care of you. He wasn’t sure if you’d make it, so bad were your wounds. No one did.” She trailed off momentarily, as if deep in thought. She recovered, shaking her head slightly, and then said, “But here you, about to take your leave of us.”
Magus bowed at the waist, and said, “Yes, I am. Thank you for all of your hospitality, and for everything. If ever you need something, let me know. I will most likely be moving from my old location near the Dragon Caves, but I will remain in the Arni area. Also, I would like to ask a favor.”
“Yes, Magus?” Direa said.
“If you happen to see a girl, about 12, with blonde hair, and she has a green pendant on, please let me know. She disappeared not too long ag-” He stopped, finally realizing how long ago he came to the islands. “No, it’s been over a year now. She’d be about 13 now. Was it really that long?” he asked himself, but then shook his head and continued. “Anyway, if you find her, please contact me.”
“We will, Magus,” she assured him. “We will.” And with that, he grabbed the stone and disappeared.
Time marched on. Magus wandered on, going from city to city, town to town. He went into the Hydra Marshes, up to the Fort Dragonia, and down to Water Dragon Isle. He also attended the high-profile funeral of Dario, an Acacia Dragoon, in Termina. All the while, he kept watching as Lynx’s power base grew, and how he grew ever closer to General Viper. Also, he never heard a single word about Kid, nor did he ever see her anywhere.
Magus spends part of his time actually in Termina, against the orders of General Viper, so as to gather information on just what the Dragoons are doing. He was there as Porre began their invasion, and he was there when the Dragoons threw them out of the islands. As much as he hated to admit it, the Dragoons were a formidable group. But there has to be a weakness. Somewhere, he thought, there has to be a kink in the armor. And he kept looking.
One day, in a pub in Termina, he met someone who might have been able to help him find that kink. He said that his name was Guile.