Magus's Quest part 3
Back to part two
Chapter 12 The price of resurrection
With Molor in the lead they entered the forest in the red light of the sunset. It was getting dusky as the five travelers reached a cliff. The snake moved his head back and forth for a while, and then hurried over to a big bush.
"Behind that?" Schala asked.
Magus pulled out his scythe and cut the bush by the ground. The leaves and branches had once hid a big hole in the cliff, but not anymore.
"Caverns," Frog sighed, "I despiseth them!"
"What, scared of the dark?" Magus sneered.
"'Tis always too small places, where one cannot swing the sword."
"Then use your magic, you idiot. Come on, let's go."
On guard, ready for battle, they entered the cave. There was a tunnel leading deeper in, but it wasn't very long.
And there was a growling sound coming from the deep darkness.
"Now it knows we're here," Schala whispered, "I'll shed some light. Powers of the world…!"
The walls themselves started to glow by Schala's low chanting, and the growling became a roar. It really was a Lavos' creation, big, spiky and with a three-part mouth. It was deeper inside were the tunnel became a cavern, rocking back and forth.
"Be ready!" Frog called as Schala activated a magic armor to protect both her and Cered.
The five warriors ran into the cave and surrounded the spawn.
"Magus, if we could be able to maketh it open the mouth, we might be able to kill it using Spire!" Frog called.
"'Tis really a mouth?" Cered asked, "I always believed 'twas an eye."
"I believe it's both," Magus said, "very well Frog, we'll try that stupid attack of yours."
Schala ran over to the monster and gave it a hard knock on the shell straight above the eye/mouth with her staff.
Then she jumped backwards to safety.
"Confuse it and it'll take a peek!" she yelled, "laohn sha nebal!"
She threw a glowing plate at the closed part of the beast. The spawn drew back as it was hit and got a scratch on
the hard shell protecting the weak point. With a war cry Cered leaped forward and cut at the weakly hurt armor.
Then he danced away from the two spikes being shoot after him.
"… the power of Water, crancha na lishoro!" Frog growled, causing a transparent tidal wave to throw the spawn against the cave's wall.
It fell to the floor and furiously sent spikes flying over the whole room, without any luck.
Molor rushed over to it and violently hit the mouth/eye with his tail. The spawn was getting confused, it opened...
"Now!" Frog and Magus yelled in unison.
The knight took a great leap, and the spawn screeched in pain as the cold metal plunged into its only weak point. "Duck, everyone! Powersoftheworldlend…"
Magus' prayer and chanting went so fast that it was impossible to identify the familiar words. But it worked.
Rocking back and forth in agony the spawn shoot almost all of the remaining spikes at its enemies, but as it now was blinded by the sword and the pain it couldn't aim. The sharp projectiles were easily avoided as Magus' order had been obeyed.
The spawn growled, a fading sound, and became completely still. Frog pulled out the Masamune with a shuddering look at the blade. Since he recently had prayed to Water, he didn't have to repeat that.
"Matala," he simply chanted, and the sword became clean.
"Is anyone hurt?" Cered asked.
There was a moment used for trying to detect even the slightest pain.
"Seems like we got away without a single scratch..." Schala said as she stood up and dissolved her and Cered's armors.
Characters in games and stories in general should really study the great list of "Things I should never ever say".
There was a sound from the spawn. It still had one last spike. It detected the voice and movement. And with the last of its power, it shot.
The air seemed to turn into glue as Magus, Molor, Cered and Frog threw themselves towards the blue-haired woman, all knowing they were too late.
Time ceased to exist for a moment as the spike hit, just a few inches above the pendant. Then Schala fell, with a fading scream of pain that seemed to never end.
She hit the ground, her eyes wide open in shock.
She was dead.
Magus dropped to his knees, staring at the two feet long spike that was buried in his sister's chest.
Frog felt his whole body turn cold as his legs stopped working and he also dropped to the ground.
Outmost despair and shock made it almost impossible to breath.
Cered and Molor were the ones who made it all the way. The man from 5300 BC violently pulled the spike from the killing wound and threw it away. He grabbed Schala's shoulders and pressed her limp body against his chest, her blood staining his shirt and arms. Molor made a moaning sound and rubbed his head against the dead woman's cheek.
"No, my Schala! No... please wake up!" Cered cried, "Schala!"
Magus heavily got to his feet and staggered forwards, falling by the sobbing warrior's side.
"Frog!" Cered screamed, "thou musteth help her!"
"I... I cannot... cannot..." the knight stuttered.
Seeing Crono turn to dust in front of Lavos had been the one thing that he had dreaded the most to recall, but this... it was even worse. Schala... the fair, kindhearted angel of a woman... murdered by the child of the monster that had controlled her mother...
Somehow Frog made it the few feet pass the cave floor, staring in horror at the corpse. Blood had already covered Schala's top and still streamed over her pure, soft skin down on the ground from the disgusting wound.
"I cannot..." he stuttered once more, completely empty inside.
"But thee must!" Cered cried, tears flooding from his eyes.
"No," Magus said.
His voice was not sad, not angry, filled with pain or even dead. It was just a sound leaving his lips. He took
Schala from Cered and slowly touched her hair, without any expression in his eyes at all.
"Frog cannot awake her. He has not got that kind of magic. And there's no more chrono trigger we could use to change history... don't suggest me to use that spell with which I restored Frog's wounds, her spirit won't be there anyhow..."
He was just talking, muttering without any soul left.
"Dost thee have any possible magic power which could help, then?!" Cered cried.
Magus slowly shook his head, acting most like a zombie.
"No. She would never forgive me. It is forbidden power."
The agony made Frog explode. He flew to his feet, grabbed the warlock's crag and roared:
"Forbidden power, Magus?! When did that ever matter to thee!? If thee can save her, then do so!"
But the blue-haired one just shook his head, and Frog's strength disappeared. He dropped to his knees again.
"I cannot..." Magus whispered, "I wish I could, but I cannot. She would never forgive me."
"Stop saying that!" the knight screamed, "what is this forbidden power, why cannot thee help her?"
"You don't understand, Frog..."
Magus looked up at the two men and the snake, suddenly with endless pain in his eyes. Frog's throat thickened as he watched the face he had hated for so long, marked with such agony.
"I truly wish I could do it, but I cannot. The spell requires two human sacrifices."
He turned to his sister's pale face again, staring at her with empty eyes.
Frog and Cered slowly looked up. exchanged gazes and determinedly nodded.
"Then we will die," Cered said.
Magus looked up.
"What?" he sharply said.
"I do not wish to live without Schala," Cered said, resolute.
"'Tis not a matter of honor," Frog said, "but a matter of my close friendship to Schala and Cered. And th... th..."
But not even in this moment he could speak out what now laid upon his tongue. Frog just shook his head.
Firstly, it seemed as the warlock hadn't heard the spoken words. Then he sighed deeply.
"No... you are the last two I could ever sacrifice. Blast it!"
Suddenly his voice was filled with rage and agony. He began to shake, his face paler than ever before.
"Damn it all!" he roared at the roof, "I am supposed to die, not her, not her! Damn you, Lavos!! And you two!"
He let go of Schala and grabbed a throat with each hand. Frog and Cered hadn't even time to react before their feet were above the ground and they were fighting for air.
"You idiots! Fools! You would die for her?! You who must live for the sake of Crono!?" Magus roared.
He released the two men and fell to his knees again, but his rage didn't cease.
"If Crono isn't to be born, then Lavos will never be defeated! If somebody here is to die it should have been me, and I will! But why, why did Schala die!? Damn it!"
Curses flooded from his lips until Molor did something outmost astonishing. He raised his tail and slapped Magus across the cheek, so hard that the warlock rocked aside.
The silence following was eventually broken by a deep breath.
"I cannot sacrifice you," the warlock said, now controlled and calm again, "because Schala loves both of you, and you are needed in order to let Crono exist."
"Why me?" Frog asked, blankly.
"You might have forgot how you once looked," Magus said, with ceasing expression in his voice, "but I haven't... and if Lavos is to be destroyed, I must die so that you can become human and..."
"'Tis rubbish, shut up!" Frog screamed, "I will not hear it!"
Wasn't it enough that Schala had died?!
"There must be another way to bring her back!" Cered said, pleading.
Magus looked like he was about to shook his head again, but suddenly he froze.
"Do you hear that?" he said in a husky voice, looking at the cavern's entrance.
At first, neither Frog nor Cered understood what he meant. Then they too heard the soft, distant drone.
"'Tis..." Frog whispered, "could it be...?"
Magus put his fingertips upon his forehead, and the power of the telepathic call almost made the two other men fall into unconsciousness.
'Land that thing, now!' Magus screamed with the help of his thoughts, 'yes, it's me! Land! By the cliff, there's a tunnel... right now!'
The drone came closer, and turned to a fading buzz as there was a strong light filling the short tunnel. From the light came the sound of three pair of feet running over the cave floor.
"Frog! Magus!" a blessed familiar voice called.
The voice belonged to a young blond woman, dressed in softly green, loose pants and a top in the same color.
She kept her hair in a ponytail.
Behind her was a young man with chestnut-red hair that pointed in all directions held up by a headband, and another young woman with a helmet and enormous glasses. Frog managed to stand up.
"Crono, Marle, Lucca!" he called, "oh, how wonderful to see thee in this dark hour..."
"Enough!" Magus growled.
He stood up, carrying Schala's limp body in his arms.
"We will talk later," he demanded, "right now we must bring Schala back to life. With your help, I might be able to conjure her soul without sacrifices. There's still time."
"What, Schala?" Lucca gasped, "and who are you?"
The last she aimed at Cered. Marle had spotted something else in the meantime, and stood behind Crono.
"A snake?" she said, her voice shaking.
"We shall explain everything later!" Frog called, "and Molor is not dange… is tame. Magus, what must be done?"
There was no time for presentations!
The warlock nodded and carried Schala to the middle of the cave, where he put her down.
"Firstly Frog, you and Marle must heal her wounds," he said.
"Will be done immediately," the knight grimly said and went over to the siblings.
Crono had to walk between Marle and Molor to bring her to Schala. The blond one was obviously not fond of
snakes. The chestnut-red-haired one just smiled softly, silent as always.
"Ugh, that's a bad one," Marle shuddered at the sight of the wound.
"Just heal it," Magus said, "Lucca, you help Cered and Molor move that damn shell out of the way and dispose of it."
"Roger!" the scientist nodded and went over to help the warrior and the snake push the dead spawn towards one of the walls.
Magus turned to Crono and asked:
"Do you have any elixirs left? Twenty-four? Good, bring ten here."
The silent young man nodded and turned to run back to Epoch outside of the cave.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire!" Lucca called, and her massive knowledge of flame based magic took care even of the stone like shell. It turned to ashes.
"We're done, Magus!" Marle called and straightened her back.
"Good," the warlock said.
Crono came back, with his hands overloaded with golden bottles. He put them down and looked up at Magus, who nodded and spoke:
"Alright everyone, we must all drink an elixir."
"I feel fine, actually..." Lucca said.
"I'm only minding your health," Magus said and turned to Molor with a bottle in his hand.
"Do not question him," Frog said and took an elixir.
He opened the bottle and looked up, wary of the silence.
"Is there something wrong, my friends?" he asked.
"Magus worries about Lucca's health and you say not to argue with him?" Marle said, very slowly, "what have you two been up to?"
"Just do what he sayeth," Frog tiredly said, "in this dark moment we must all forget our own will."
And with that he emptied the bottle's crystal-clear liquid, his mind and body suddenly feeling just as pure and free. If the potion was to be called magical or drug, that was an unimportant matter.
Silently, the others followed the knight's example.
Magus stood up by Schala.
"You must all do as I tell you now," he grimly said, "Frog, you stand over there, Marle, you go there, and face him. Cered..."
He directed them all to stand in a circle around himself and his sister.
"This spell will draw a lot of your power," Magus warned, "but I'm sure you'll be fine."
"Have you hit him in the head or something?" Lucca hissed to Frog.
"Listen," the warlock said, strangely enough not impatient, "Marle, Frog, be prepared to chant as powerful healing spells you can manage when I tell you to. Aim it at Schala. Everyone else, just concentrate on me. I will have to use your strength in order to call Schala's spirit, but you're all strong enough to survive it. Are you ready? Now!"
He raised his hands, closed his eyes and started to mumble. The air itself seemed to start glow and sparkle eerily.
"Frog, Marle! Now!" Magus called.
"Powers of the world, we bid of thee to…"
"… Lend us the power of Water! Na matala…"
As the stars were shed over Schala the light began to thicken and assemble into a glowing, flickering orb above her chest.
"Zoguldra na gol...!" Magus snarled, the skin in his face stretched in his effort to control the magic, "zoguldra logondo! Concentrate harder! Gol tola logondo!"
The orb slowly started to lower itself into Schala, but it seemed like it had problems getting inside of her chest. It staggered, and Magus' voice became more desperate.
"Zoguldra... Marle, cast healing magic on me once! Na gol... Marle, Frog, now! Logondo zoguldra tola!! Crono, cast Luminaire on me, do it!"
The young man stared at the warlock for a second, but then he raised his arms above his head. His feet left the ground as his lips moved in silent chanting. An enormous, light-green cupola formed over Magus and Schala.
The warlock roared in pain and trembling he pointed both his hands at his sister. The dome flickered, and then suddenly formed to one massive beam that hit the light-orb and violently pushed it into the dead woman's chest.
The light disappeared immediately, and Magus fell with a deep sigh. Everyone dropped to his or her knees, gulping for air. All except Molor. He didn't have any knees, and in any case he seemed to have some energy left. He hurried over to Magus and poked at the fallen man with his head.
"I'm fine... Molor..." Magus whispered with a broken voice.
Frog managed to half walk, half crawl over to the two siblings. He opened one of the three last elixirs and put it by Magus' lips, helping the blue-haired man to raise his head with a hand under it. The warlock swallowed most convulsive, but then he slowly sat up on his knees. By then the others had assembled by the three breathing ones.
There was no sound.
The world was silent.
She took a deep breath.
She opened her eyes.
A whole lifetime seemed to pass.
"Schala?" Cered finally whispered, his voice shaking slightly.
"Cered...?" she whispered, "where... where is Janus...?"
"I'm here," Magus said with a strange voice, "drink this."
He carefully lifted her head and helped her to drink the second last bottle of elixir.
"What happened...?" Schala whispered as the bottle was taken away.
"Dost thee recall anything?" Cered asked.
"There was this short pain and then light... and somebody told me it wasn't time yet for me to... die?"
Her head violently turned at Magus.
"Janus, you didn't...!?" she more or less screeched in horror.
He shook his head.
"No, I didn't. Though both Cered and Frog were willing to sacrifice themselves for you."
Schala suddenly sat up and swung her arms around three surprised men's necks.
"Why you fools!" she cried.
She released Frog and Magus, but Cered wrapped his arms around her, smiling. His eyes had a warm, inner glow that reflected in the woman's gaze.
"You're all crazy!" Schala said with tears in her eyes, "especially you, Cered!"
"I was sure I hath lost thee to the Reaper," he whispered, ignoring her words, "I loveth thee so much, Schala..."
And he kissed her. With her eyes filled with love as well as tears, Schala buried her hands in Cered's hair and let him carry her still rather forceless body. Marle leaned against Crono with a happy sigh and he put his arm around her shoulders, smiling warmly. One could even notice that Molor was most relieved.
Magus opened the last elixir with a small, peculiar smile.
"A toast to my sister and her future husband," he said and put the bottle by his lips.
Frog just couldn't be surprised anymore. He took the bottle as Magus gave it to him, and took a mouthful without any second thoughts. Then he passed it on to Lucca. She drank a little after a shrug of her shoulders and gave the piece of glass to Marle.
"Hey Magus..." the scientist carefully said, "are you feeling well, really?"
"Why wouldn't I?" he asked.
"You suddenly seem so... alive."
"Of course I'm alive, don't be ridiculous," he snorted.
Lucca gave a relieved sigh.
"Good to hear you say that, I thought the world was being turned upside down," she said.
Magus rolled his eyes, but there was another shadow of a smile on his lips. Schala managed to sit up properly, but still leaned at her beloved friend with a warm smile. He kept his arms around her.
"And this be Crono, who's ancestor I am?" Cered asked with a smile and nodded at the young man.
Crono looked a bit surprised, but smiled broadly.
"Truly," Frog smiled.
Then he suddenly froze, with growing disgust in his eyes.
A horrid realization had come to his mind.
"Magus, thee said that I as well am the ancestor of Crono?" he said, trying to keep his voice calm and steady.
Everybody turned to the knight.
"Yes, you are," Magus said, frowning, "I am sure about that. I started to think, and went into my own mind to bring the memory of your face back. There's no doubt."
"Then," Frog slowly said, "if I am related to Crono, I am also related to Cered and his children. And if Schala is the mother of Cered's children, then that means... oh, no..."
Frog and Magus stared at each other, then turned away with disgust beyond compare. There was a silence before the second laugh-party of this story began.
"You're just one big, happy family, aren't you!?" Marle called, sneering.
"Molor," Magus said and pointed at the blond one, "eat that woman."
The snake nodded and started to slither over the cave floor, hunting. Suddenly Marle was above the ground, in Crono's astounded arms.
"I hate snakes!"
"But use the situation!" Lucca laughed, "use all the charms you learnt from Ayla on him for a mega-elixir or something!"
"This would be a great time for you to be my friend instead!" Marle screamed, making Crono pull a face because of his aching ears.
"Enough, Molor," Magus said with a cold, twitching smile, "I'll show you mercy this once, Marle."
"Thank you!" Marle sighed as the snake drew back.
Then Crono fell backwards because of her weight. Magus hid his mouth behind his hand and turned away, but he couldn't stop his shoulders from shaking as he laughed. Frog couldn't withstand it either for very long.
Chapter 13 Returning to the End of Time
They set a camp outside of the cave, below Epoch. There was a lot to talk about.
"So thy mother ran through...?" Frog said, looking at Crono, "oh, I see. And yet no signs of neither her nor thy cats? But thee hath killed four more Lavos' spawns?"
"That's great," Schala said, "then there should be only five or six left for us to take care of."
"It were hard battles!" Marle said, "but we showed them who's boss, right?"
"Nothing can beat the power of science!" Lucca laughed, "so what have you been up to, boys, girl and snake?"
That question wasn't answered until midnight. Frog was on the brink of disclosing the secret of Ayla's great courage, but stopped himself in time. He did hope that he would be able to tell Crono and the two women about Magus' first (and probably only) kiss someday, though.
The next morning, they had to part.
"Give the spawns some extra hits from us, eh?" Lucca called from the Epoch.
"Good luck finding thy mother and the cats!" Cered yelled back.
"And come visit some time!" Frog called and waved with his hand.
The three humans in the Wings of Time waved back as they arose towards the heaven. Epoch blinked, seemed to become longer, and then disappeared.
"'Tis a silent boy, that Crono," Cered said.
"Truly, and yet he speaks," Frog said, shuddering his shoulders, "'tis impossible to grasp how he dost it."
Magus waved with a hand, impatient.
"Nevermind, let's go to the End of Time."
He opened a Gate and went inside, followed by Molor. The others hurried after him.
There was a slight sense of nostalgia to enter the dusky room again. This time, there were only three pillars of light to chose from.
"Is this the End of Time?" Schala said, a little bit skeptic.
"Yes," Magus said with a strange little smile, "come on, there's somebody here that you should meet, apart from Spekkio."
He opened the door in the fence and went down the stair.
The lonely man by the street-lamp looked up, a bit surprised.
"Frog, prince Janus?" he said, "I wasn't expecting to see you again..."
Magus grasped his sister's hand and made her walk into the room. The old man's jaw dropped.
"Gaspar?" she said, astounded, "what on earth are you doing here?"
The old Guru hurried over the floor and took her hands.
"Oh, my dear, I thought you were dead!" he said with a thick voice.
She gave him a hug, smiling warmly.
"No, I was thrown through time and landed on Cered here; my fiancé."
"Your fiancé?" Gaspar said, almost with tears of joy in his old eyes, "how wonderful! Nice to meet you, young man. Now, what brings you here?"
"I have found a new source of magic," Schala told him, "the power of Light. Janus and Frog insisted that I should come here and see this Spekkio."
"Indeed you should," Gaspar nodded and pointed at the other door in the fence, "he's in there, go on."
The five travelers started walking over the floor, but Frog stopped and turned around.
"Gaspar, could I hath a word with thee?"
"Certainly. What's on your mind?"
Frog waited until his friends had entered Spekkio's room before he spoke:
"Magus told me that I am the ancestor of Crono, just as Cered is... and that the dark wizard musteth die so that I can turn into a human and become married."
Gaspar gravely nodded.
"But I cannot bear that somebody should die just so that I can find a wife," Frog continued and shook his head,
"not even for the sake of Lavos' defeat."
"You're a good man, Glenn," Gaspar said, "and it's true that you are Crono's ancestor. I'm sorry, but I can't help you."
Frog sighed, concerned.
Inside his room, Spekkio was concerned too.
"Hey, you gotto stop getting stronger!" he said, "next I'll turn into Lavos!"
"You're only one of his mutants so far," Magus said with a cold smile, "could we get to the point?"
Spekkio cleared his throat, though it was hard to tell where that could be...
"Hello folks," he said with a broad smile, "I am Spekkio, master of war, and if you are strong, then I look strong, yada yada, should really make you walk around this room three times, but the warlock here seems to be in a hurry, so we'll skip that. So sweetcheeks, you've found the power of Light, eh?"
"Yes," Schala said, "and I'm not sure if it ever has existed before..."
"Right ye are!" Spekkio said, forcing her astonishment at the master's appearance aside, "the power of Light was a secret source of magic, created as an insurance..."
"By who?" Magus and Schala asked at the same time.
"By the one who created magic, duh! How should I know? Anyhow, let's call you 'the Lightbringer', nifty huh?"
"And what does that mean?" the princess asked, rather blankly.
"That you've awoken the power of Light," Spekkio grinned, "and from now on, I'll be able to apply anyone with that power, starting with you, paley!"
"But I already belong to the power of Shadow," Magus calmly pointed out.
Spekkio waved with his enormous hands, almost breaking the fence.
"Doesn't matter," he said, "Light won't push away the 'real' power that you have, it'll only add new abilities. Hee, hee, ready?"
"You don't believe that Light and Shadow in the same body would cause imbalance?" Magus asked.
"Could happen," Spekkio happily nodded, "if it doesn't work, I'll be cleaning this room from pieces of royal warlock forever!"
"I'll skip then, thank you very much," the warlock dryly said, "Frog, get in here!"
The door opened, and the knight entered.
"Thee called?" he sarcastically asked.
"Hello froggie!" Spekkio said, "I was just about to give the power of Light to ol' paley here, but he don't want to get blown into pieces."
"Dideth thee call me to convince him?" the knight said with a smirk and closed the door behind him.
"Sadly, I doubt he will listen. However Light and Water won't be any problem, so here you go!"
Frog began to glow softly. The light lasted for a moment, then it disappeared.
"How do you feel?" Spekkio asked.
"I believeth that I know something new," Frog said with a big grin.
"Well go on, try it!" the master of war said, "you other guys better move a bit."
Frog raised his hands, and his cloak flapped without wind as he began to chant.
"Powers of the world, I bid of thee to lend me the power of Light! Soh sela na shontoly waley!"
A transparent, golden stream flowed over the floor and threw Spekkio backwards against the fence. He straightened up, grinning.
"Good work, froggie. I think we'll call that 'Tide of Sunlight' or something."
"A proper name," Frog thoughtfully nodded.
Spekkio turned to his next victim.
"Your turn, funky-hair."
"Me?" Cered gasped.
"Sure!" Spekkio laughed, "one would believe that you should have the power of Lightning, but Fire suits you better. And of course you'll have Light, too!"
Cered started to glow, even as his mouth was still open in surprise.
Back to normal, he looked very confused.
"I dost not feel anything..."
"That's because you're not used to it," Magus told him, surprisingly softly, "there's two ways to learn new spells; through battle or studying. I'm certain battling will suit you best. When you acquire a new attack, you will know it instantly."
"You'll be fine, I'm sure," Schala smiled.
"What else?" Spekkio laughed, "now go on, boy! Point at me, concentrate and yell 'na farey tlo'. That's simply called 'Fire', boringly enough. Don't forget to begin with the 'powers of the world' rambling."
"But what if I hurt thee...?" Cered said, hesitating.
"Nothing to worry about. Go on."
"'Tis not very powerful," Frog said to encourage his friend.
Cered slowly raised his hand, uncertain. But as he began to chant the word fell out by themselves, stronger and with more determination for every letter. Frog knew that feeling of growing knowledge well.
"Powers of the world, I bid of thee to lend me the power of Fire! Na farey tlo!"
Spekkio was swallowed into a great flame. When it disappeared he just shuddered a little.
"That's a good brother in law you've got there, paley," the master of war smiled.
"I noticed that. You've got great possibilities, Cered," Magus said.
Frog softly hit his own head.
"I musteth have got something in my ears..." he muttered.
Cered stared at his own hands, astounded.
"Incredible..." he mumbled.
Schala smiled and put her arm around his shoulder. Spekkio turned once more.
"Alright, now for you, snakey!" he said.
"What, Molor?!" Magus, Frog, Schala and Cered said in great surprise.
"Why not, he's part of the crew!" Spekkio laughed, "and guess what, he's perfect for Shadow."
Molor nodded, hissing somewhat like a smile.
"But how is he going to chant his spells?" Schala pointed out.
"He'll do that his own way," Spekkio said, "now to..."
"I warn you," Magus sharply said, "do not risk his life!"
"Of course not, paley, anything for you... there you go, history's only magic snake, taa daa!"
Magus sat down on one knee and looked into Molor's eyes, somewhat investigating. Then the warlock smiled coldly and straightened up.
"Impressive, Molor," he said and touched the black head with his gloved hand.
"Wanna try it out?" Spekkio asked, "could be good for awakening some more interesting stuff inside the beginners."
"Of course," Magus said with another cold smile.
"Alright! All at the same time!"
"Art thee serious?" Cered asked, disbelieving.
"Nothing to worry about," Frog calmed him, "I doubt that anything could kill Spekkio."
"Right ye are. Now let's rumble!"
Since Cered only knew one spell so far, he started with that after Schala had thrown a Sacred Stars and Frog had given Spekkio another Tide of Sunlight.
"My turn!" the master of war called, laughing, "powers of the world, lend me the power of Light!"
Spekkio's voice was deformed enough because of the body he used, and it was almost impossible to hear what he chanted. Frog thought that he heard "farey" somewhere, the world he had settled meant "fire". And it was probably what he had heard.
White flames started to dance in his big hands.
"Powers of the world lend me pure power, kell twandor!" Magus yelled before the spell hit Frog and Cered.
Which meant the protection of Magic wall. The magic resistance that the warlock provided protected the two warriors well enough to only make them stagger backwards a little.
"Are you alright?" Schala asked.
Cered got up with a broad smile. There was something special about fighting Spekkio; the knowledge of that is was only a game. Serious battles could wait, for the moment it was all about having fun.
"I am fine. And thou, Frog?" the guardian of the emperor's peace said.
"Not any ordeal, my friend."
"Good. I think I knoweth a new spell..."
"Go on!" Spekkio called.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire!" he called, "na farey kytour ychera…"
It went on, but Frog hardly heard it. He knew that spell, and it froze him in total astonishment.
"Flare?" he choked.
Spekkio rocked backwards as enormous balls of fire were sent his way.
"Fascinating," Magus said, eyebrows higher than usual, "you must be the fastest learner I've ever encountered, Cered."
"Yep," Spekkio nodded even as he tried to pick himself up, "that's the most powerful Fire spell there is. I'm impressed."
"I thank thee," the warrior said, "but is it really that powerful? It felt as simple as Fire."
There was a silence.
"Cered," Magus finally said, slowly, "you and me better have a talk someday, soon."
"Yeah, you're right about that you'll have to do it later!" Spekkio exclaimed with a broad smile, "this battle ain't over yet. Chela ta luon yleqie!"
Magus ducked to avoid the small, spiky objects.
"… Power of Lightning!" Schala called, "na matala shetader!"
Frog was about to start chanting another spell of his own while Schala's lightning flashed through the air, but then he saw Magus and Molor. And he decided to wait and watch the result of their work before he did anything else. It looked like an interesting spell they were preparing.
The snake was floating in the air around Magus, who stood with closed eyes and raised hands. His lips moved in muttered, low chanting. Suddenly he opened his eyes and pointed at Spekkio.
"Now!" he bellowed.
From his hands and Molor's mouth black bolts erupted, throwing the master of war backwards as he was hit.
Spekkio got up and shook his big head. Molor landed on the floor, hissing triumphantly.
"Phew!" the master of war said, "alright folks, you win. Here."
He lowered his enormous right hand, and three bottles filled with a clear, glowing liquid materialized in his palm.
"Three mega-elixirs, how's that for a price?" he said.
"That will be fine, thank you so much," Schala warmly said.
She took the bottles and gave them to Magus.
"It's probably most safe that you take care of them, Janus," she smiled.
He made the magical potions disappear into his cloak.
"We will surely meet again, Spekkio, be well," Frog said as he opened the door.
"Take care, people!"
They left the master of war, and went back into Gaspar's room.
"Hey," the guru said.
"Hast thee any new information to giveth us?" Frog asked, knowing the saying.
"Yes," the old man said with a smile, "the Gates over there has changed since Crono was here; now they are made to fit your quest instead."
"How can that really be?" Magus said, frowning, "who changes Gates?"
Gaspar shrugged his shoulders and followed the group as the five travelers went up the stairs.
"There's still only three of them," Schala pointed out.
"That's right," Gaspar said, "and you came here from one of them. But more might appear after you have mended the wrongs that are in the two which are left."
"Dost this mean that we will not have to travel through time to search out the vile spawns for ourselves?" Cered asked.
"Correct. These Gates are made to help you complete what you have started."
Frog put his hand inside the upper pillar of light.
"South forest, 2400 BC," a strange, whispering voice from out of nowhere informed.
Magus tested the lower one.
"Caves of Torna-mountains, 1300 AD," the same voice whispered.
"But what about Flea and Slash?" Frog said, frowning, "we musteth..."
"Actually, those two are your less concern for the moment," Gaspar said, "I know that if you don't hurry into that one leading to 2400 BC, history might screw up gravely."
"Really?" Schala said, "why?"
Gaspar shrugged his shoulders and pointed at Magus with his thumb.
"Because your brother won't exist. It beats me why this is, though."
Magus raised his eyebrows.
"Well then," he said, "let's go, Molor."
"I'll tell you others when you can use the same Gate," Gaspar said.
The warlock and the snake left, and the guru stood silent for a moment.
"Alright," he finally said, "now you can go."
"Take care, Gaspar," Schala smiled as she went into the light and was warped out of sight.
The guru waved a bit, then he turned and walked down the stair, over the floor and into Spekkio's room.
"Hello, Gaspar," a soft, singing voice said.
Where a big, slimy mutant had been, there now was a softly glowing man. He was dressed in a white robe with golden edges, and held a staff made of silver in his hand. On his back were two enormous wings. Gaspar knew that even this angel wasn't really Spekkio's true form; he probably didn't have any. The angel was only the guru's picture of the master of war.
"Do you think that they will ever find the truth?" Gaspar asked with a strange smile.
Spekkio laughed warmly.
"I guess they won't, I've been confusing them far to much."
"But at least they grasp the thought of me."
Spekkio smiled and said:
"I'm really flattered as I think of their talk that night in the forest when they had fetched Robo from the shrine. I do say, 'The Entity' surely sounds better than 'Spekkio'!"
Chapter 14 Saving the ancestors of the enemy
Frog, Schala and Cered stepped out from the Gate to find themselves in a spruce forest. Everything was bathing in sunlight.
"Janus, where..." Schala began.
He came from above, from one of the treetops, landed in the moss in front of Frog, grabbed the knight's shoulder, held up his own cloak and violently threw the green one at the red cloth.
"What art thee...!"
"I'll explain later," Magus snarled, "be quiet!"
Frog had expected loss of air and a feeling similar to being inside of a sack, but instead he found himself floating inside a dark, almost empty room. The only things there were himself, Molor and a strangely glowing window by one of the walls. The snake turned away from the last thing and hissed silently, looking almost as if he smiled, coldly and welcoming. With no other options, Frog moved up to the window and the animal.
"What is this place?" the knight said, not expecting any answer.
'It is inside of Magus' mind,' a dry, hissing voice inside his head calmly replied, 'he created this to keep me hidden, and now even you.'
"Molor?!" Frog gasped.
The snake seemed to laugh a bit.
'Yes, it is me,' he said telepathically, 'here, even you can hear my voice.'
"Wait, did thou say that we art inside of Magus' mind?"
'So it is.'
"I feel somewhat sick..."
Molor laughed again, and then turned to the window.
'Look here, it is what Magus see.'
Frog turned his head, and saw Schala and Cered from above, through some branches. They were talking to three men, obviously soldiers. The men wore deeply blue uniforms, metallic plates covered their chests. One of them carried a sword by his belt, the other two had a spear each. They were very resolute-looking.
"We are traveling warriors," Schala said, "what on earth is going on here?"
"They've found the lair of the Mystics," the soldier with the sword said, "but the damn Lizard refuses to surrender. Have you seen him?"
Schala and Cered shook their heads, managing not to look too confused.
There was a yell to be heard from somewhere, distant and filled with triumph. The soldiers forgot all about the two travelers and ran towards the source of the call.
The view through the window became unclear as Magus jumped down from the tree. It shook a bit as he landed.
"What is this all about?" Schala asked.
Magus scanned the area before he spoke.
"I knew I recalled this era as something special," he said, "in this time, the Mystics were formed by a monster named Lizard. He wanted to free the monsters from the slavery they suffered."
"What?" Frog said.
The room became unclear, and he found himself standing in the moss beside Molor.
"I had to hid you," Magus said, "the people here were fanatic about killing monsters and anything extraordinary."
"Did thee sayeth that monsters were kept as slaves?" Frog asked, frowning.
Magus' mouth was a thin line in his face.
"Indeed they were," he said, coldly, "as animals too. Lizard formed an army of rebels and tried to change that. I'm pretty sure I know what Gaspar meant about my existence. Come, we must find the battlefield. I believe that we can walk freely; everyone should be too busy trying to capture the Mystic's first leader."
They hurried through the forest. At Magus command they slowed and sat down behind some bushes.
It wasn't really a battlefield. It was more like a trap. A small group of semi humanoid monsters, men, women and children, stood in the middle of a glade, and about thirty human soldiers stood smirking by the trees around the open place.
After a glance filled with anger around the area, one of the monsters stepped forward. He had green scales instead of skin, his clothes were just a torn, grey robe and a simple piece of rope around his waist. In his right hand he held a sword. Its edge had been broken by half.
"Lardon, you despicable coward!" the monster growled, "at least let the women an children go!"
One of the humans stepped out in the moss. He had a shield on his left arm and a shiny sword in the right hand. He also wore a blue cloak with a silver embroidery of a crossed spear and sword on it.
"You really must keep that disbelief of mercy burning, don't you?" he sneered, "for the safe of my nation, you know that I must make sure that especially those children doesn't escape. I am so terribly sorry, my dear enemy."
Frog clenched his teeth to stop the growl that grew in his chest. Magus put his hand on Schala's shoulder to calm her down as her grip around the staff tightened.
"Wait," the warlock whispered, "it might be that he will take care of this without our interference."
"But they art surrounded!" Cered growled, "I cannot stay here and do naught!"
"If history works the way it should," Magus said in a low voice, "Lizard will bring all of his friends and himself out of the trap without any help."
Out in the glade, the monster in the lead smiled coldly.
"Well then, I suppose that I must surrender my hope of peace," he said.
"You sure took your time realizing that fighting is meaningless," Lardon smirked.
Lizard snorted and put two fingers between his lips. The loud whistle echoed through the forest.
At first, nothing happened. Then golden eagles swarmed from the treetops and dived at the surrounded monsters, grabbing pleading arms and flapping desperately to bring their friends to safety. It happened so fast that Lardon at first was too surprised to react.
"Stop them!" he roared in outrage when he realized that he was about to loose.
There were four soldiers carrying spears. They all threw their weapons, and three hit. Just as many eagles fell and dissolved into nothingness. Now there was only one flier left, and four monsters. One of them was a woman, looking much like Lizard but with bluish scales. The leader of the monsters spun around, grabbed her waist and threw her up to the last eagle, which grabbed her wrists and carried her towards the sky after the others.
"No, Lizard!" she screamed, "damn it, let me go you bird!"
"Take care, Snake!" Lizard called and turned away.
He and the last two monsters, both of them men, grimly backed up against each other's backs.
"I see that I'll at least get the three main fools as trophies!" Lardon snarled and pointed out the monsters to his men, "take care of them, but make sure they stay alive!"
"It was nice being free by your side, Lizard," one of the last two monsters said.
He carried a broadsword in his big hands. His arms and legs were as thick as tree trunks, he had dark purple skin and no hair. The other monster had softly red skin and short hair in a slightly darker color than the one of his body. He had no weapons. Both of them were dressed as Lizard.
"Yes," the unarmed one said with a bitter smile, "but let us give the bastards a hell before we depart."
He closed his eyes and started to mumble.
"Freeze," Magus said, waving with a hand.
At the warlock's command, every monster and soldier stopped moving.
"I can only do this shortly, so this will have to be quick," Magus said, "as I expected, history has changed."
"Thou sayeth that Lizard and his comrades should hath escaped?" Cered asked.
"What's going on here was decisive in Lizard's war against Lardon and the humans, and it's also an important event in the history of the Mystics. It's known as 'The great Escape'. Lizard should have escaped and with that adding new hope to the enslaved monsters, starting a massive battle for freedom. Then he would have found a safe place for his people and rule as the first king of Mystics together with Snake, who he just sent away. But should he die here, the Mystics will disappear before they even had been really born."
"And thou will not be what thou art," Frog concluded.
Magus smiled, coldly and ironical.
"The truth is," he said, "Lizard played a vital part in the awakening of my magic powers long ago."
"How can that be?" Schala asked, "weren't they awoken in the end of 500 AD?"
"Indeed they were."
Magus pointed at the frozen, green monster and said:
"Frog, look at Lizard. Then imagine that he don't have the sword, and add about four, five hundred pounds. Then what do you get?"
Frog's mind found the image, with great surprise.
"Yes," Magus said with a cold, strangely bitter smile, "he attacked me as I fell out of the Gate back then, and that awoke my magic in anger and self-defense. And those other two monsters, Frog?"
A fighter, covered with muscles and a man with light red skin, obviously a magic user?
A thin swordsman and a female-looking freak with pink skin and a pigtail?!
"Those be the ancestors of Slash and Flea?" Frog said, greatly surprised.
"Yes, Warrior and Magician. And whether we like it or not, they will be needed later."
"We musteth help them whoever they art related to!" Cered growled.
"It seems that we have no choice. But Lizard should better not carry any warmer feelings towards humans, and that is a problem."
Suddenly, everybody looked at Frog.
"Truly," he said and crossed his arms with a grim nod, "but I cannot help them alone."
"I could use a spell similar to the one I used to turn the pest here into a frog," Magus said thoughtfully, "one that would only work for a couple of hours or until I command it to dissolve."
"Good," Schala said, "I'll take care of the warmongers while you work on it."
Magus turned to Cered while his sister muttered the required spell in a low voice. The warlock pointed at the guardian of the emperor's peace and started to mumble. A small lightning hit the young man, and he began to glow in eerie colors.
Frog had to turn away, the memory was still painful.
Cered looked at his now yellow-green hands.
"Did it go well?" he asked.
"Well, err..." Frog said, scratching his head.
"You look fine, Cered," Schala said with a smile.
Actually, he looked much like Slash, only with another color of his skin.
"My turn," the princess of Zeal said.
Magus turned around and raised his hand.
His arm fell, and he looked away.
"I can't do it," he snarled.
Frog tried to hid his mouth with his hand, but Schala just smiled a bit.
"Alright, let's see what I can do, then. Powers of the world, lend me the power of Light… liryla lati sha."
The dark, magical Moonlight armor hid everything except her eyes this time, and didn't take the shape of her
hair. Instead it pressed her blue crown at the rest of her body. Someone who hadn't seen her magic before would
have a hard time trying to figure out what she really was.
"Art we ready then?" Cered asked and drew his katanas.
Magus put his hand over his mouth and then he said, revealing that he had made his eyeteeth grow into fangs:
"Yes, let's go."
With his pale face, odd clothing and the fangs, anyone would believe he was a vampire. As if that hadn't been what everyone had suspected for a long time...
Schala gave a short laugh and waved with her hand. Immediately, the soldiers and monsters started moving again.
"Shetader!" Magician yelled.
One of the approaching solders were thrown to the ground by a lightning bolt. He got up, staggering and cursing.
"Amateur!" Magus sighed.
"Shalt we?" Frog said with a big grin.
The three surrounded monsters became just as surprised as the soldiers when there suddenly were four strangers and a snake standing between Lizard's small troop and the rest of the world, obviously ready to defend them.
"Who are you fools?!" Lardon yelled.
"Plainly unexpected heroes," Frog said with a broad smile.
"Don't worry," Schala said over her shoulder, "we're here to help you."
Magus turned to Lizard.
"Forget about that broken sword," the warlock said and reached for his cloak, "this is the weapon of a Mystic king."
From the depths of his magical cloak, Magus brought forth... his scythe. Lizard dropped the sword and took the new weapon that he was offered.
"It's like made for my grip..." the monster said, almost in another world.
"You don't say..." Magus said with a strange smile.
He turned again and looked at Magician.
"You have great possibilities," the warlock said, "allow me and my companions here to push you in the right direction. Shall we, Molor? Dark Powers of the world, I dare to ask thee to lend me strength!"
"… Power of Lightning!"
"… of Fire!"
"… of Water!"
The whole area flashed in darkness and light, got hot and soaking wet.
"I do advice you to draw back, Lardon!" Schala called.
The captain shook his cloak to get rid of the water and growled:
"Neither me nor my men fear any monsters! Attack!"
"I sense a lack of wisdom," Frog said, "thou shalt pay for thy crimes with the shame of defeat, Lardon!"
"A monster who dares to speak like a nobleman?" Lardon growled, "I will have those manners whipped out of you soon enough, you little bastard!"
"So you say?!" Magus snorted with a strange grain of anger in his voice, "I wouldn't even think about it…"
"I beliveth not that they art going to reconsider," Cered said, "though it hurts my heart, it seems that we hath no other choice but to fight them."
"We must take caution not to be too violent," Schala pointed out.
"Of course, my love."
Schala, Cered and Frog ran to give the soldiers a lesson of common sense manners. With a merry war cry, Warrior followed their example. Magus and Molor stayed, however. It seemed as neither Lizard nor Magician even remembered that there was an important battle going on. The leader of the monsters seemed hypnotized by the scythe, and the magic user seemed to be just as fascinated about the warlock.
"Who are you and your friends, who know such magic?" Magician asked.
The pale man's lips twitched a little, it was hard to tell if it was bitterly or if he was about to laugh.
"I am known as Magus," he said, "and I dare to say that I am a prophet as well as a powerful spell caster."
"'Tis thy profession indeed!" Frog called with a laugh.
Magus ignored him and kept talking to Magician:
"Allow me to show you some of my spells to help you become stronger. One day, one of your family-line will have a most important student."
"Then show me," Magician said, and his eyes were almost glowing.
Magus turned around and pointed.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water! Ta keich sanea wyh!"
The whole glade crumbled beneath several big rocks of ice, but Magus was careful not to harm anyone badly.
His respect for Schala was really showing in that moment.
"Now you try it," the warlock said.
"Ta keich sanea wyh!"
Lardon got away without any bad wounds probably only because the stone he was standing by stopped the enormous blocks of ice from giving him broken ribs and arms as he was knocked down. He got up, snarling words which were not meant too be written down.
"I need to practice to aim," Magician concluded.
"There could be needs for that, yes," Magus said with a cold smile, "and now, watch and repeat this: lend me the power of Fire, na farey tlo shar wetal!"
"Na farey tlo shar wetal!" the monster repeated after the prayer.
Several soldiers dropped their weapons and fell to the ground, twisting to stop the flames consuming the cloth beneath their armors.
"Crancha na lishoro!" Frog called.
He didn't like the ways of the soldiers here, but he couldn't stand there and watch them get roasted.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water! Crancha na lishoro!" Magician echoed.
He was a fast learner, truly. Though the fact that he was a bit clumsy showed that he wasn't very used to the new spells. Frog picked up the Masamune and shook his cloak to get rid of the water. Then he could continue the battle against the outraged humans.
A soldier with a bow was about to make an attempt to end the magic lesson, but Molor got in between. The snake rose up in front of the warmonger and hissed; that was perfectly enough to make the man turn around a flee screaming.
"… Of lightning! Na matala shetader " Magus called, and Magician followed.
"Hey, watch it!" Warrior exclaimed and put his hand over the smoking hole on his right sleeve.
"Na matala sela!" Frog commanded, and the monster with the sword was cured.
The knight smiled a bit at the astounded Warrior, laughing silently at the bizarre fact that he had helped the one who was the seed of Slash.
It seemed like Magician hadn't noticed Frog's spell; he didn't try to use it. Instead he looked at Magus and asked:
"Is there even more?"
The warlock's mouth suddenly turned to a thin line.
"Yes," he slowly said, "there is the dark power of Shadow."
Molor, Cered, Frog and Schala startled and spun around, not happy knowing what approached.
Magus clenched his teeth and raised his right hand.
"Dark powers of the world, I…"
He gritted his teeth before ending the spell.
"… Dare to ask of thee to lend me strength! Worch crahela krun shar retetack!"
The Dark mist landed on one of the many big rocks that laid around in the forest. The stone turned to dust, and the battle froze.
"Tell me, Lardon," Magus snarled, still with his teeth tightly clamped, "do you wish to challenge this power today?"
The leader of the soldiers opened and closed his fists in hesitating rage before he made his decision.
"Retreat!" he called, growling, "but I swear, Lizard, I will get you someday!"
"I await you, coward!" the green monster called back, suddenly awake.
"'Twas actually a bit amusing," Cered smiled and put his katanas back by his belt.
"I am impressed with your weapon skills," Warrior said as he still grinned at the fleeing, distant humans.
"One musteth combine one's soul with the blade, and thy skill will be among the superior," Frog said, without considering who he was talking to.
The deep purple colored monster smiled and nodded.
"Yes, indeed," he said, "my children will be the finest of swordsmen."
"I am..." Frog fought back a wish to cough, "certain they will."
Magician bowed in front of Magus.
"I thank you for showing me all that, wizard," the monster said.
"Nothing to talk about," Magus said with a small smile.
Magician threw a glance at the heap of dust that once had been a rock and cleared his throat.
"That... dark cloud," he said, with a trace of unease in his voice, "have you ever used it on a living being?"
There was a silent moment.
"I have seen it being used that way," Magus finally said, slowly and emotionless.
Magician shook his head.
"I cannot believe that somebody could do something that cruel."
Magus, Molor, Schala, Frog and Cered exchanged glances.
"You're a good man," the warlock finally said.
"I want to thank you for your help," Lizard said with a smile, "I doubt we would have made it without you."
"It was only natural for us to want to help you," Schala warmly said, "but now we must depart."
As the woman silently (minding Magician's abilities to learn) mumbled to open a Gate, Magus gave Lizard a small smile and spoke:
"You should look for an island for your next lair; it's harder for Lardon to sneak around you on the sea than if he has a lot of bushes to hide behind."
"That is of course true..." Lizard said, thoughtfully.
"Good, now go and find Snake. Good-bye."
"Wait, who are..."
But Lizard's call was lost in time. As the five travelers stepped out in the End of Time, Schala made her armor dissolve, and Cered turned back into a human. Magus probably mended his teeth, but it was hard to tell.
"Hey, did it go well?" Gaspar called.
"No problem whatsoever," Schala smiled.
She looked at her brother.
"But you gave Lizard your scythe, Janus..."
He smiled a bit and shook his head, making a movement at his cloak with his right hand.
"Don't worry, Schala, I've got another one."
"Good, I don't want you to be unarmed, just in case. But why did you do it?"
Magus shrugged his shoulders.
"Lizard would have thought of it himself after that battle, since his sword was broken," the warlock said, "I just decided to help out a little."
Schala nodded with a smile and turned at the last pillar of light.
"I'm not tired, shall we continue?"
"I need to rest," Magus said and resolutely shook his head, "I used a lot of magic back there."
Gaspar went up the stair and held up a bottle containing a liquid, which was so warmly yellow that it almost seemed to glow.
"'Tis a full ether?" Frog said.
"Indeed," Gaspar smiled, "I don't want to push you youngsters, but there might be a need of hurrying. Something is going on by that last Gate which is beginning to make it unsteady. Bottom's up, prince."
Magus took the bottle with a roll of his eyes and emptied it, uncharacteristically not arguing.
"Thank you, Gaspar," Schala said.
"Nothing to talk about. Now, go on."
The old guru watched them all get warped away and rubbed his cheek.
"They'll be fine!" Spekkio called from his room, "but they better hurry up, ya know!"
"How can this be?" Gaspar said as he grimly watched a new pillar of light rise from the empty floor, "how can Crono and the girls end up in such a trap?"
"You know that as well as I do," Spekkio sighed, "but it'll be paley and his friends who have to get back here in time to get the sweetcheeks and the boy out of that mess. I guess they were plain not paying attention..."
Spekkio sighed, and so did Gaspar.
"Prince Janus," the guru whispered, "oh, poor, poor boy..."
Chapter 15 The true story of Janus
"It hast tentacles?" Frog shuddered.
"It's a female!" Schala called, "they are fiercer, watch out!"
The spawn almost hit Cered with one of the five, worm-like arms coming from beneath it. However, Molor's fangs buried deep into the tentacle, and it started twisting wildly in pain. So did the others. The snake landed on the floor, and Magus took a leap over to him to make sure he was alright and defend him until he had regain all senses.
"A female?" Frog said, with great disbelief, "could anything that foul actually be a woman?"
"Even better," Magus said with a cold smile, "it's a baby-sitter."
He pointed at the back wall of the big cave ("I hate caves... déja vu!"). In the ceiling, hanging in slimy, green threads as thick as a grown man's arm, six big cocoons were being stored. Three of them had big cracks, and one could see a spiky scale inside of them. They were about to hatch.
"That be the eggs of Lavos?" Cered called.
"I don't carry any doubts, now let's give all we've got to finish off Lavos and all that he created once and for all!" Schala called.
She drew a glowing circle in the air. Molor started hissing violently. Magus dropped his scythe and raised his hands. Cered pointed. Frog's cloak started flapping without any wind.
"… Of Light!"
Luminous was the first that hit the beast.
Molor opened his wide mouth and spat out a massive flame of dark fire, like a dragon's breath.
"… I dare to ask of thee to lend me strength!"
Two triangles spun through the air…
"… Power of Fire!"
… Followed by flaming orbs…
… And a tsunami of glowing water.
Neither the spawn nor the eggs that it guarded even had time to understand what happened. The strong magic attacks made the cave twice as big, and also a lot more cleaner.
There was a silence before the five heroes dropped to their knees.
"'Tis over?" Frog finally said.
"I don't see any monsters, do you?" Magus snapped.
"I dost see a vile warlock and his comrade snake, but no monsters," the knight answered with an almost friendly smile.
Cered got up and embraced Schala.
"'Tis so?" the guardian of the emperor's peace said, "hath we truly defeated the foul children of Lavos?"
"It seems so, love," Schala smiled.
"At least here," Magus said and stood up, "I believe that we're done, but let's return to the End of Time to become certain."
After a battled that had lasted for about two minutes, they returned to the dusky world were Gaspar and Spekkio lived.
"That must be a world record!" the master of war merrily yelled.
Frog turned his head, his brain making a fast, simple calculation.
"Seem so," Gaspar said down in his room.
"Well, this time we do need to rest," Schala concluded, "we used almost everything we had in one blow."
"Is that so?" Spekkio called, "didn't I give you three mega-elixirs?"
"That is for outmost desperate circumstances," Frog called back, "human beings musteth rest now and then."
"That's just plain... living."
"Sad, but true," Magus said with a small, cold smile, "we just have to bear it. So we..."
"I'll give you some strength so that you can continue," Gaspar said and went up the stair, "it'll keep you up better than those weird potions."
"This quest is truly rushing, 'tis not?" Cered said, raising his eyebrows.
"One could say so, yes," Gaspar smiled a little, strangely bitter.
He closed his eyes and started to mumble. A rain of stars showered over the five travelers, making them glow for a moment.
"Why dost this all haste?" Frog asked, stretching his whole short body to get in touch with the new energy, "thee will bring us all to sleep for several days."
"'Tis not my fault," Gaspar said, not remarking that he'd spoken in the manners of Frog and Cered, "but time is a twisted thing, and you must move on before the Gate starts to crumble."
"This one too?" Schala pointed out.
"Crono's party had luck with stable Gates," the guru kindly explained, "but I'm afraid you people have less time to make your moves."
"Aye, what will one not do to complete one's quest..." Frog said and reached into the new pillar.
Both him and Magus startled as the whispering voice announced:
"East island, 601 AD."
"What, Ozzie's lair?" the knight and the warlock said simultaneously.
"This will be hard for you," he sadly said, "prince Janus, you must be very careful this time."
"Flea and Slash awaits us, then?" the warlock said, pursing his mouth.
"Indeed. And they have a couple of really dirty tricks up their shared sleeve, I'm afraid..."
"Everything that they know, I know as well. And more too," Magus said, shaking his head.
Frog thought that it almost looked like the warlock clenched his teeth a bit, but wasn't sure. Molor looked up at Magus, but didn't make a single sound. However, the snake seemed concerned.
Gaspar looked at the floor. He just waved at Frog, Schala and Cered when they could follow the warlock and the snake, and it seemed like there was no room for questions. And yet Frog felt that he should have asked the guru about more information about Flea and Slash before they parted. But it was too late; the knight stepped out in the sunbathing, for him waist-high grass around the crumbled ruins.
"It seems like the circle will have to close, Frog," Magus said with a cold smile.
The knight looked at the broken walls, beneath the ground he and Magus had met again only a short while ago. It seemed like ages had passed.
"What is this place?" Schala asked.
"It was the lair of Ozzie, old leader of the Mystics," Frog said and sighed, "a true coward, and furthermore the product of Lizard's family-line. A true pity that they were related..."
"Come on," Magus said, "we better get going."
He started walking towards the ruins with Molor by his side, continuing to speak over his shoulder:
"It would surprise me if they aren't lurking in the underground."
"But remember what Gaspar said," Schala pointed out, holding her staff tightly.
Magus nodded and brought forth his scythe.
They went into the building, if you could name it a building when the major pieces were gone. There was a hole in the floor close to the entrance; Magus remembered how he had sneaked around not too long ago, trying to find the place where Frog was about to die due to Leene's diary. He had more or less stumbled over the opening; it had been well hidden below dirt and growing grass. Flea had actually done a good job there...
Something laid on the first step of the stairs. Slowly, awaiting a trap, Magus bent down and picked it up. Nothing happened. He examined the piece of cloth, his eyebrows raising.
"What is it that thee hath found?" Frog asked in a low voice.
The warlock turned around, and his eyes were very thin.
"It's a headband," he said, without any expression tossing it at the knight.
Frog caught the piece of cloth and stared at it.
"'Tis the belonging of Crono!" he growled, looking down the stair with darkening eyes.
"Sayeth thee that our friends hath been captured by our foes?" Cered said, disbelieving.
"How would they have accomplished that?" Schala wondered, frowning.
"Schala! Schala, where am I...!?"
They all startled and spun around, staring at the small, shivering boy that stood in the middle of the open room.
He looked desperate, confused and scared, wildly looking around. He was dressed in a softly purple robe, and his blue hair moved in no wind.
"Janus?" Schala whispered, pressing her hand to her lips.
For a moment Magus didn't even breath. Then he spoke, a hissed growl flaring with hatred.
"No… no, don't put her through that!"
The small boy (undoubtedly an illusion of the child that once had entered the middle ages through a Gate) spun around, gasping in surprise and fear.
"What do you want?" he croaked, "leave me alone!"
His hands suddenly exploded with fire, he turned his burning palms at something that only he saw, and the flames left his hands to hit these invisible foes. Then he gave a half strangled cry and fell to the ground, so exhausted by this sudden magic using that he collapsed. The image dissolved into thin air.
"Janus," Schala whispered, "was that you entering this time?"
He looked away for a moment, then suddenly turned to put his hands on her shoulders.
"Look, Schala," he said in a harsh voice, "what they are trying to do is of my concern, and you couldn't help me in any way. There was nothing you could do, and you were not responsible, understand?"
"What is this all about?" Frog asked, uneasy.
"It's about that you leave," Magus growled, "I will fight alone this time."
"What?!" Schala, Frog and Cered said, and Molor looked at the warlock with disbelief.
"I see that Flea was right," Slash's voice said.
Flea-and-Slash stood smirking upon one of the walls. Cered and Frog drew their weapons, but Magus raised a hand.
"Don't bother," he said, "they aren't really there; it's an illusion."
"Finally you've learnt to see that, good boy," Flea said mockingly, as if talking to a child.
He smirked and continued:
"Well then, will you dare to enter your past, cutie? Or will your dear sister break down before that?"
The shared body dissolved; Magus had truly been right. He looked into Schala's eyes.
"I'll go alone," he repeated, "I don't want any of you to follow me this time."
"Out of the question!" those who could speak exclaimed.
Molor hissed in an upset way to show what he thought of the warlock's idea.
"You don't understand!" Magus said, "they'll..."
He fell silent. Schala violently shook her head.
"I don't know what they plan, but I'm not leaving you, Janus, do you hear me?" she said, "I spent so many years searching for you, and I couldn't help you from doing the things you did. I will come with you whatever you say."
Magus looked at the other three, and all of them shook their heads. With a curse upon his lips, he spun to the stair and hurried down, the cloak flowing like a wave of blood. His sister and companions followed before he was able to consider a seal of some kind.
They entered the wide, strangely lit tunnel. Frog thought a bit about how major parts of this journey had been spent underground. Then there was a sound that startled him.
"Flea, Slash, come here!"
It was Ozzie's voice, and an illusion of him entered the tunnel from out of the right wall. He carried something under his arm, a heap of purple cloth. Two new illusions appeared, of the magician and the swordsman.
"What are you yelling about?" Flea asked, bored.
Ozzie threw his burden on the floor; it was the small Janus. He didn't react as he hit the floor, still unconscious.
"I have found something interesting," the green, fat monster smirked, "a fine human slave, indeed..."
The illusions dissolved.
"What dideth he call thee?!" Frog almost croaked.
Magus violently turned his head away. Flea's voice laughed wickedly, echoing through the tunnel.
"A slave, froggie," the magician's voice called, "a slave, a servant, a minion."
Everyone stared at Magus, but he refused to look at the others.
"Did you really think that the Mystics would salute a human child and make him our king, just like that?" Slash asked, scornfully, "no, such a title must be earned."
Magus started walking again, on the brink of running. He didn't turn around, didn't wait for the others. It was as if he hoped that he could shake them off and spare them his secrets. But at the same time, he knew that he could not protect Schala against what could make her break.