Hello Again folks. This chapter was done and ready to go and I hadn't even realized it! This actually is the last chapter of the back load that I had so, as I said before, it may be a bit longer before another chapter is put up. The topic this update the topic I'll expound upon is the bio-dome of the Chronopolis.
In short it is just like the bio-dome in that movie, Bio Dome, but on a much MUCH larger scale. Inside creatures and fauna populate the wild open expanses and each particular region is environmentally controlled to produce wheather in approximation of what it would be like on earth. Many facilities outside the dome provide equipment, for free, to all staff and students to enjoy many sports and activities in the wild; things like climbing gear, bicycles, kayak's, gliders, etc etc. Even though everything there is calculated down to a tee, people can still, and do, die from wild beast attacks and some of the extreme environments. It is also often used as a place for training and many teachers will often test their students in the more controlled enivornment before sending them to the real deal. There aren't oceans in the dome, just very very large lakes, and the polar caps aren't all that large either. Besides that though, it is for an purposes just a small earth, well you can't walk around the whole thing since it is enclosed in a forcefield but oh well.
Hopefully that was somewhat informative! Enjoy the story!
Chapter 9: Slurp!
A cool dark feeling spread across Janus’ entire being as he entered the time portal, a familiar and strangely comforting sensation. There was no following brief hot flash that accompanied exiting the wormhole and Janus, now just realizing he’d closed his eyes, chanced a peak and was surprised to find himself surrounded by the shifting colors again. Time, in all its’ abstract and shapeless forms, was flowing all around him live a lava lamp.
“Janus?” A child’s voice asked from behind the confused warlock, though not just any voice. It belonged to Lana, he knew this without even needing to turn around to affirm this, and it was the voice of her younger self image. Why she was here though, and why as her self image, was the question that really needed to be answered.
Forgoing questions and instead surveying his surroundings, he swept his calculating gaze around the area, noting the blobs of color. They were everywhere, the floor, the sky, and the unending horizon; they were also, he noted in surprise, a crimson red that he’d only seen two times before. The first had been with Lucca, the second, just recently, with Lana. Chancing a glance at Lana, affirming that indeed it was her younger self-image, she also appeared to examine the odd scenery.
“Where are we?” Lana asked, of course totally inexperience with time portals, and Janus debated telling her the truth or ignoring the question entirely. That, he noted, would only make things more difficult. She had a knack for wanting to uncover the truth.
“A time portal, or so I guess, but the real question is how we are here.” explained Janus, at last turning fully around to face Lana. He carried the dangerous guise of Magus in his worn leather breastplate, dark leather pants, menacing scythe, and his pointed canine’s that, many thought, made him look more like a vampire, especially when matched with his pale skin.
“How so?” Lana asked as she walked about the area with the pulsing and moving red blobs moving beneath her feet. Her footsteps carried no sound, nor did any attempt at producing sounds, and an eerie wind seemed to howl in the background.
“As you should know from class, Time portals are wormholes that link two points in space and time together so that we may, as it is primitively put, travel through time,” explained Janus “Once a object enters one side of the wormhole it is propelled instantly to the other side, that being the common’s man explanation. It appears we are currently in lingo, stuck between two points of space and time, and somehow you’ve managed to project yourself into this wormhole. Most interesting.”
“If you are stuck in a time portal, then where were you going?” Lana asked the obvious question as Janus mused over the latest happenings in his head.
“Coming to save you and the frog of course.” responded Janus in a duh kind of manner as if it were the stupidest question anyone could ever ask.
“Speaking of which,” Janus directed is gaze towards the mage-hunter “You’ve much explaining to do. I suggest you begin with how YOU created a time portal.”
“I really don’t know,” sadly said Lana, her curious gazing turned into a thoughtful frown “Something just takes control of me and…uses me to do things. I’m not sure how else I can put it.”
“How long has this been happening?” Janus asked, mentally taking notes and compiling data.
“It just started happening after I copied some of your memories. At the time I was just trying to figure you out, ya know, get a good bearing on why you were so upset and angry all the time.” Lana motioned with her hands and pointed to her head “Figure out what was up here. But I broke some kind of self placed barrier that I didn’t know about, and that’s when IT started…,” trailed off Lana.
“Using you,” Janus finished the sentence and Lana nodded a small, sad, nod in response. “Interesting.” commented Janus for the second time in the past ten minutes.
“It made me kill someone,” Lana admitted. Janus failed to react as she imagined someone would, though perfectly natural coming from the warlock, and he simply shrugged “People die daily.”
“But..,” started Lana before being cut off by the warlock “Anything else to report, what of the frog and his attacker.”
“I managed to fight off some kind of snake monster/woman thing that attacked him. I carried him further into the forest, but I’m not sure where we are at, I was under ITS’ control most of the time. I only remember brief flashes of the fight so I’m not too sure if the monster is dead or not either.” reported Lana, brining with it the familiar student-teacher role that was comforting to her at the moment.
“Very well,” curtly nodded Janus as he absorbed the information. Something about her explanation seemed familiar, especially the part about being controlled, and he struggled to remember where it was from. It was frustrating for the steely mind Janus not being able to find the memory. Frustrated or not, he still couldn’t recall why it was familiar and decided he’d think on it later.
“I think it has something to do with the black wind,” Lana said, interrupting his inner decision making “You probably have a barrier over yours as well.”
“We will see,” Janus sagely brushed her worries aside “As for now, remain where you are and wait for my arrival. Don’t light any signals, I’ll find you my own way, and doing so would only endanger yourselves. Despite my misgivings with the frog I don’t want to see him dead. Don’t disappoint me.”
“Ok,” said Lana “As you command great mighty teacher Janus, your wish is my command.” Her interjected humor seemed to lift her spirits slightly, the small frown turning upside down, and Janus sneered in what could have passed as a predatory smile.
“I can sense it is about to take us away,” said Lana, receiving another questioning eyebrow from Janus but not a verbal add-on “I don’t know how either but it seems that whatever purpose I was brought here for is complete and it’s getting ready to end our connection.”
“Remember, wait for my arrival and do not…..” the rest was lost to Lana as the shifting background, and Janus, were pulled quickly away, at speeds exceeding anything she’d ever seen, and her projection was pushed back through time and space to slam forcefully back into her body.
The forest snapped back into reality, and the stone she’d been carrying slipped from her hand to land roughly on her foot, further waking Lana from the vision. It seemed like at least five minutes had been spent with Janus but it appeared to have been only a few second judging from her position. That fact didn’t make her foot feel any better and Lana roughly hoisted the last large rock up again and added the final touch to the hermit’s grave.
With her foot threatening to rebel if she didn’t sit down again, she hobbled back to the small alcove and sat next to Glenn’s lying form. His eyes followed her the whole way and once she was seated he felt it was time to say something. “Tiss a nice grave.” he complimented. “I hope so,” sighed Lana “because he hadn’t deserved to die.”
It resembled more a large pile of rocks than a grave but it was better than nothing. His rusty sword, its’ scabbard fashioned with the Guardia Coat of arms, had been plunged into the ground at the head of the grave as the only type of tombstone on hand. The only reminder than he’d been killed here was the dried puddle of blood sitting further out in the clearing, only a few feet away from the caves entrance, but even further away from the rocky grave.
“Thine energy seems sapped, mayhap you’ve thought of rest?” Glenn questioned with a plan evident in his eyes. Lana was too tired to catch on and sighed tiredly again.
“I don’t think I could sleep, my back hurts like hell and now my foot’s squished”, Lana exaggerated a bit, but Glenn wasn’t about to tell her that. Instead he seemed to think for a moment before hesitantly asking “Thine back injury, may I see it?”
Feeling no need in particular not to show it to Glenn, Lana turned around and pulled her jacket down partially to reveal the five gash lines that ran down her whole back, luckily missing her spine, but they were all deep none the less. Glenn, a veteran of many battles, grimaced slightly and made a small croaking sound. If left untreated it was likely to become infected and probably fatal.
“I…mayhap… I …possess a means to …in a fashion…prevent infection” stammered Glenn, his bulbous eyes pointedly looking away as if to diminish the embarrassment. “How?” Lana asked, unsure of why Glenn would be so uncomfortable bring it up.
“This forms…its’ saliva doth possess some…property… which appears to prevent infections… and numbs the pain of a wound” explained Glenn as his eyes still roamed, desperate to find something else to look at.
“Are you serious?” Lana almost deadpanned but remembered that Glenn wouldn’t have suggested something like this if he didn’t know it worked. He was still a knight after all and was only looking out for her health, but still. He’s saying he needs to spit on me.
“My apologies, I had not meant to cause offense.” Glenn quickly took the escape route and was clearly embarrassed that he’d even brought it up in the first place.
“No, your right,” sighed Lana, she could recall several references where frogs had been used for medical purpose, some even received a euphoric experience from licking certain frogs, or so they claimed, before dying soon afterwards. Who was she to say that Glenn hadn’t been changed into a type of frog whose saliva killed bacteria and could numb wounds? Who knew how far away Janus was, only time could tell she jokingly thought, but she had to be prepared for an indefinite wait.
“Just…don’t tell anyone,” grimaced Lana “I’d rather live and get spit on than die stubbornly.” Lana turned her back to the wounded knight and peeled away the shirt that still stuck to the bloody edges of the wound, and at the same time draped the extra material over her front to maintain at least some modesty.
“Tiss not spit,” argued Glenn “My form doth be a Frog hence I slurp instead. Shalt nary be more than a moment. My body, worn as it is, still possesses a functional tongue.” Lana could hear Glenn make a croaking sound, similar to what she’d heard many frogs make second before snatching a fly out of the air, and brief pictures of Glenn eating Lana like a small fly danced through her head. They were short lived and pushed promptly away; he was a knight and a kind hearted individual, not a monster like some people thought.
Glenn croaked once more and then Lana felt a hard slap across her back, yelping a bit in response, but soon a cool wet feeling spread across her wounds. Immediately, or so it seemed, her back did numb and the constant pain that had been with her since the battle became a dull ache that barely registered in her mind. It felt good, that was until she remembered that there was someone’s saliva on her back and she had to suppress a shuddered or risk offending the helpful knight.
“Tiss finished,” Glenn said, a bit more tired that before, and his voice sounded drier. “I am spent mi’lady, thus I retire” he mumbled before Lana turned around to find the knight already asleep or unconscious. Either would do him good, he needed rest.
Not really wanting to put her shirt back over the saliva that was on her back, not even wanting to think about it, Lana instead leaned forward to rest her head between her legs while draping her arms over her knees. It was as good as any position to rest for a bit. Rest didn’t come and Lana couldn’t help but think of the dead hermit buried just outside the cave.
Lana wasn’t weak stomached, had seen dead bodies before, mainly her parents, and wasn’t light hearted when it came to disgusting images. This was different, this time she’d killed someone for no reason; sure he wanted to kill both of them but Lana’s skill with a blade would have made for a quick and deathless battle. She wanted to shed tears over the reckless blood shed, wanted to mourn for the crazed man, but found no tears willing to come forth and her emotions as numb as her back. Thinking about it made Lana feel hollow, almost what she imagined Janus felt like most of the time.
The feeling came back again, sitting quietly in the corner of her mind but Lana saw it for what it was. It was here to assure her the hermit’s death had been necessary, that in the grander scheme of things she was doing what was needed. Lana refused to give into the feeling, refused to find comfort in its’ open arms. Gathering all the anger and hate from her parents’ death, the following lonely years on the Chronopolis without friends; Lana unleashed it all.I won’t let you kill anyone else through me, she gritted her teeth,I won’t let you use me anymore.
Unfortunately IT had other ideas and Lana felt her hate and anger diminish, and somewhere in the back of her mind she knew failure. It wrapped itself around her like a web of safety and security, promising only good things, and Lana again felt the world snap back into clarity and wondered why she’d been fighting against it in the first place. Then, all went black.
Zack’s squad stopped as they reached the large rocky mountain, the assassins trail stopping dead in front of the large and foreboding peaks. The tracker amongst them examined the ground and nodded his head in affirmation; yes the assassin had escaped into the secret tunnel leading to Magus’ lair. The seer behind Zack nodded as well when she opened her eyes and ended her seeing spell.
Good, we are still on the monsters trail, thought Zack,though it seems we are falling behind. How can it move so fast with the amount of blood it leaves behind as a marking? No matter, eventually we’ll find it and kill it, or, perhaps, the creatures and traps in Magus’ tunnel will do the job for us.Zack signaled to the rest of the group to wait until they could open the tunnel’s entrance to proceed further.
Despite the claim that the entrance lead to a secret tunnel, there were only a few secrets that the Observers and the Chronopolis didn’t know. For example; Zack knew how to make the entrance appear, as did everyone else that was in his squad, and he chuckled slightly at the thought that it was suppose to be a secret in the first place. It was fairly simple actually, a lot less complicated than Crono and Frog’s group had made it, he mused. They’d used the Masamune and cleaved it in two, while all they really needed to do was speak the password.
“In the name of the great Lord Magus, I bow down as a humble servant and seek passage to your domain to better serve you. Mi tessla su ripenel” Zack solemnly recited, the last words being the final trigger to the cave’s spell. Without flare or dramatics the rocks moved eerily and silently aside and darkness greeted the ex-Observer group. It was time to move once again and no time for rest; their path was opened and their target was somewhere beyond, that was all they needed.
Unfortunately, Zack thought,that wasn’t true. They’d also need sleep and food soon.He was proud that no one had complained yet as they trekked through the night and day without rest, a testament to their stamina and discipline, and again he was appalled that the Chronopolis had taken their gate access away. How could they do this to such good soldiers? All they wanted to do was serve the station and how did it repay them? Accuses them of crimes and strip them of their honor.
Soon, he reminded himself,they’d have their honor restored and back where they rightfully belonged.
“Fnorm?” Lana asked, confused, when she saw the goblin resting easily in a fold out lawn chair several feet away. It appeared they were back in her mind again, or perhaps Fnorm’s mind this time, as all around there was a black void and Lana was again small and in her lose pink pajamas.
“Ahhh!” Yelled the goblin as it practically fell out of her chair but managed to save itself at the last minute. “By Magus, child,” cursed the goblin “You scared me senseless, almost wrecked me precious chair.”
“Sorry,” apologized Lana, materializing a large cushion to sit on, before continuing. “It’s horrible Fnorm I can’t seem to do anything about it. It just … it just uses me… and I can’t stop it,” Lana hadn’t realized how much she’d need to get that out and was on the verge of tears.
“I’m sorry lass,” said the goblin comfortingly as it hopped of it’s chair and came to sit down on the pillow next to Lana, “Wish ah could’ve saved ye the shock, but it somethin that ya had to feel yerself. We’ve got a hard master.”
“You don’t understand, it made me kill someone.” this time Lana did cry and latched onto the small goblin for comfort, using Fnorm as the proverbial shoulder to cry on, “It made me kill when it wasn’t needed, I could have disarmed him and he would still be alive. But…it just used me … and I didn’t want to kill him, really I didn’t.” Lana explained between tears until she had no more to cry and gingerly removed herself from the goblin’s arms, wiping at her eyes with the pajama sleeves and looking a slight bit embarrassed about the outburst.
“Don’t worry child, everyone sheds tears now an then,” comforted Fnorm further. “You gonna to be ok?”
“I think so,” nodded Lana “Is this what it’s like all the time? I can’t imagine going through the rest of my life being used…like this.” Lana frowned at the thoughts her last sentence provoked and shook her head violently to clear them.
“It gets a wee bit easier,” commented the goblin, turning Lana’s head so they were face to face with eachother, and stared in the sad girl’s eyes “It gets better. Ya learn how to understand it better an better as time goes on, an just end up doin what it wants before it uses ya. Ain’t much better, I ain’t goin ta tell ya lies, but it at least gives ya the choice of how it gets ta be done.”
“I hate it,” whispered Lana “I hate it and I wish it was still sealed up.” I sound like Janus, thought Lana as her own words reached her ears.
“Come now child, not all bad coulda come from it. Somethin good musta happened,” commented Fnorm as it patted Lana on the back again and got up to sit back in the lawn chair. “I may not enjoy bein bossed ‘round to much either, but ain’t all bad and I do a lot of folks some good.”
It occurred to Lana then that, had she not unlocked the strange ability, she’d never have been able to save Glenn, survive the snake woman, or find shelter for the two of them. But it had made her kill, Lana retorted to her own good points; that was unacceptable. No matter what Fnorm said, Lana couldn’t think of it in a good light, there was always going to be blood on her hands because of it.
“By yer ‘spression it seems ya don’t agree with me there,” sighed Fnorm “Well neither did I when it first started, time will show ya though.” The goblin had a glass of lemonade, or some other yellow liquid beverage, appear in its’ hands and sipped at it. “Tell ya what, next time ya sense it, just think bout what it might want. Should give ya a hint or three. Then ya do it and it won’t make use of ya without yer permission.”
“I’m sorry Fnorm,” said Lana with hints of anger in her voice “I just…can’t do that. I’m going to find a way to turn it off again and that will be that.” Lana’s goblin companion sighed in response but nodded in understanding all the same.
“Thanks for letting me vent though”, bowed Lana “I want to spend some time alone, I need to think.”
“I understand ya, just don’t ya get too lost in yer own thoughts,” said the goblin as it waved good-bye “Good luck, ya crazy half breed.”
Lana smiled as Fnorm left, taking the goblins’ parting not as an insult but a friendly ribbing. It was amazing that only two days ago she’d just meet Fnorm and already they were friends.Two days, sighed Lana,seems more like two weeks.
Lana sighed again and fell backwards into her large, comfy, and wholly in her mind, pillow. She did need time to think, that was no lie, but the real reason Lana had dismissed Fnorm so quickly was that she just wanted to forget about her situation for a moment, or more. To clear the crazed man’s dying grimace from her mind and forget about the blood that stained her hands. In short; she needed to loose herself for a few hours.
He seemed to know something he wasn’t telling me, considered Lana as she thought about her encounter with the warlock. Maybe it was something in his past, something that she’d copied into her own head. Now was the perfect time to shuffle through some memories and Lana queried her mind for anything with the mention of the Black Wind in it.
While she searched it briefly crossed her mind that this might be considered invading Janus privacy, but it was only a brief thought. These were her memories now, wanted or not, and her right to see what was in her head just as he had the right to see what was in his. There was also the fact that this controlling force was more important than his privacy at the moment, thought Lana, besides there can’t be anything too horribly embarrassing in them. Her mind narrowed in on one scene that she remembered, or he remembered, as having something to do with the black wind.
Snow and ice, as far as the eye could see, was a good description of the Ice Age. Snow even managed to extend its’ mighty reach up and over the mountains, leaving the peaks as white as the ground below. On one of these snow-topped peaks, a storm ragging in the air, two royal siblings sat watching with solemn faces. Clouds, grey and depressing, blotted out the sun with the exception of the few rays that would pierce the gloom and reach below. It was a stark contrast of truth, and reality, to the promising, and dream-filled, kingdom of Zeal.
The storm’s reach, while mighty enough to cover mountains, could not conquer magic. The snow and ice melted as they collided with the magical barrier Schala had erected to keep them safe from the weather, the water pooling around the edges and freezing once again. The magic formed a snow-less dot on the large mountain face, like a pimple, and Janus, with Alfrador tagging behind, paced around the inside of the sphere. Sporadically he’d reach out to grab a handful of snow to pull in, only to end up with an empty hand of air once he brought it back through the barrier.
“Schalaaaaa,” Janus called as he approached his sister, plopping down besides her while she stared purposely out into the storm. Schala blinked out of whatever trance she’d been in and smiled sisterly at her younger brother “Yes Janus?”
“Why do we always have to come here?” Pouted the royal youth, Alfrador mewing agreement “There’s nothing to look at and it’s always cold.”
Schala smiled, the kind of smile that always made Janus want to join is as well, and turned back to cast her gaze across the bleak environs. Her smile vanished, replaced by a thoughtful frown as she spoke “That sums the whole world up right now, cold and nothing to look at. How do you think the earthbounds feel.” she sadly commented. “We have this magic to protect us, what do they have?”
“Serves them right since they can’t use magic,” snidely said Janus, repeating what he’d heard at school from teachers and classmates, but Schala’s sharp look told him that perhaps they weren’t the best source to be quoting right now. He also felt a sort of resentment towards the earthbounds, always being called one at school from his lack of magical prowess, and it manifested itself in his attitude and speech at times.
“Says the prince that can’t use magic,” she commented “Should we stick him down there as well?” Janus furiously shook his head at this and Schala continued “Does it seem fair that we keep all the benefits to ourselves?” She paused and continued to look out across the pelting storm, howling winds, and other snow covered mountains.
“I guess not…” submitted Janus, sullen that he’d managed to upset his sister. His face lit up with a new idea, something to please the older sibling, and he quickly gathered his thoughts in a proclamation. “One day I’ll be a great mage, and I’ll use my magic to help people that can’t use magic,” proudly stated Janus, Alfrador chiming in with his approving mew once again. That placated Schala and her sharp look softened into a smile.
“I hope so little brother,” thoughtfully frowned Schala as she ruffled Janus’ long hair with her free hand. “For their sakes, I hope so.” Janus couldn’t help but look away from her sad face, he couldn’t bear to see her frown, and at the moment he wanted them both to be away from here and some place happier.
“Let’s go back,” suggested Janus “Mother’s probably worried.” He knew that was far from the truth. Their mother seemed less and less concerned about their wellbeing, spending more and more time locked behind closed doors, and it hurt him to realize that. Schala didn’t see it though, or if she did she ignored it, and Janus felt like he was the only one to see the change.
“You’re probably right,” sighed Schala “But I can’t shake the feeling that I need to do something here. ITS’ telling me I need to do something.” Her face crumpled into a frown and she shook her head as it shoeing away large insects.
“The black wind,” commented Janus with a frown “Its’ talking to you again isn’t it?”
“I really wish you wouldn’t call it that,” chided Schala “Makes it sound evil and foreboding.”
“But it is, it makes me do stuff!” Janus waved his arms in the air in anger, a humorous act coming from his childish form, and Alfrador scampered away to take shelter behind Schala. “I told it to stop but it doesn’t listen to me!”
“Come here” motioned Schala with open arms to her brother. Janus hesitantly crawled into her embrace and was covered in a gentle hug. “It can’t make you do anything you don’t want to. I figured that by now you would have been able to control it but oh well,” explained Schala “Here, I’ll quiet it for you so, once your ready, you can talk to it again.”
Schala chanted something soft, too soft for even Janus, who was still in her gentle embrace, to hear. A warm feeling moved over the prince, a gentle prickle at first, and spread through his entire body. When Schala stopped chanting and the warm energy left Janus it felt as if something was numb, like his foot had fallen asleep, but eventually the numbed feeling was pushed to the back of his mind. The black wind was still there, but now it was a faint whisper.
“Thanks,” smiled Janus, hugging his big sister before Alfrador pounced on top of both of them. Soon Janus was off chasing the purple feline and Schala was looking out across the bleak landscape again. Then the memory ended, either the rest was actually forgotten by Janus, or she had pulled out too soon and cut part of it out. Either way at least it was a lead; and a reminder of Schala.
Lana, through Janus’ memory, missed Schala at that moment and had to shake herself to sense. There had just been a vital clue presented to her, Schala had sealed Janus’ talent up so perhaps Janus could do the same for her, and it should be a joyous discovery. Instead, here she was missing a sister that wasn’t even hers to begin with.
What’s happening to me, thought Lana,and why?
Only silence answered her questions, silence that couldn’t comfort the growing worry that, whatever had happened, she would never be the same again.