A Look on Another One
Dedicated to Archone, who's writing style and the impressive amount of research he does to make the details perfect never cease to amaze me.
Chapter 1, It’s not the same
For a long while the world was nothing but darkness. Then, slowly, a distant sound pierced the gentle dusk.
A voice that drifted closer.
"... Me the power of Water..."
"Na matala sela, don't move, na matala sela..."
The young man blinked as golden stars carefully washed over him, easing the aching that ruled his battered body. He looked up at a familiar face.
"Nice to see you..." he whispered.
The figure that sat on his knees by the wounded one's side smiled a bit, bitterly.
"The same to you," he replied but then sighed, "more or less. Don't move."
He added the last as his patient tried to sit up but fell back with a groan.
"It'll take me a while to heal you to the fullest, so keep calm."
"How did you find us?" the patient muttered.
A campfire sparkled somewhere behind his head, he could hear and smell it, apart from noticing the light. The young man's caretaker sighed as he wrapped up his friend's arm in a bandage.
"I knew your route, after all," he muttered.
"So did Ozzie..." the patient bitterly said.
"Yes. And I came too late. Curse it all!"
The caretaker dropped the bandage and with hopeless anger hit the grass with his fist.
"I should have come with you!" he snarled, "I knew something like this would happen, damn it!"
"It's not your fault..." the patient sadly said, "who would have protected the kingdom if we all had left?"
"No, you don't understand!"
Growling, the caretaker stood up.
"I mean that I really knew about this!" he snarled in frustration, "I should have locked you two up in the dungeons to stop you from leaving!"
"What are you talking about?" the patient asked, frowning.
The caretaker sighed, his back turned at his friend.
"There're a lot of things I more or less know about the future..." he finally said in a low, growling voice, "but I wasn't sure."
Slowly the standing man turned around, and in the flickering light of the fire he suddenly looked haggard and tired. It shocked the patient; he had never seen his friend like that.
"There are things... that I've never told anyone here. And I can't tell you yet either, but someday I will."
"You'll understand," the caretaker said and sat down again to continue on the bandage, "but you'll have to see some of it with your own eyes. Now..."
He sighed again.
"What happened?" he ended the sentence.
The man that was being healed closed his eyes in anguish.
"I tried to help, but..."
He gritted his teeth, and everything fell out at once.
"... I couldn't do anything! And then when... when Cyrus... I couldn't even run because I was terrified! Damn it all!"
"He died so that I'd have time to run and I failed to do even that!"
"What... happened?" he stuttered, suddenly in horror as his memory caught up with something.
His caretaker put the wounded arm down, slowly shaking his head.
"At least you're alive, Glenn."
With pain the healer watched his friend's horror as Glenn realized that his body didn't feel the same way that he remembered it to be.
"What did he do to me!?" Glenn harshly whispered.
"Had a little fun, I guess," the caretaker grimly said, glaring at the dark sky as if it was all its fault.
With another sigh he pointed at the peaceful river and muttered a spell. At his command a shard of cleanest ice, like a mirror, leaped from the water into his hand.
"Take a deep breath, Glenn."
He held up the shard, reflecting his friend's face to him. Glenn's immediate, fully understandable reaction was a screech of horror. The caretaker pushed him back so that his wounds wouldn't get worse.
"We'll fix it, I promise!" the unharmed of the two harshly said, "there's a way to reverse it, calm down!"
"I'm a frog?! Ah...!"
With a groan Glenn collapsed on his borrowed bedroll, taken aback by the wounds.
"God, and Cyrus died in vain..." he almost sobbed, in shock.
"Na matala sela..."
Another healing spell eased the pain again, but couldn't help off the terror.
"You were afraid," the caretaker grimly said, "that's human."
"Sorry," his friend sighed, "but the Mystics invoke terror for everyone."
"Except you," Glenn bitterly muttered, "you face death at least once a month and sneers."
"That's because my assassins are second hand crap."
The caretaker shook his head.
"I've also been in Ozzie's hands, and I know the horror all too well," he grimly said, "you shouldn't blame yourself for being frozen in fear."
"What, you?" he stuttered, "when?"
"Many years ago. The only reason I got away... is a twist of fate you wouldn't believe at this point."
"What are you talking about?" Glenn asked, puzzled.
"I was saved, but mind you..."
The friend pursed his mouth.
"I could just as well have been the one to kill our knight and curse you, if the Mystics' plans for me hadn't been spoiled."
"The spell Flea put on you will be broken if he dies."
Janus reached out and picked his bladed staff from the ground.
"Convenient, isn't it?" he growled.
"You can't attack the Mystics, then you'll get killed for sure!" Glenn tried to exclaim, without much luck.
It was more of a croaking. Janus sighed again.
"I know. But one day, I swear, we'll kill those murderers and get you back to normal, Glenn. Until then..."
He rubbed his forehead.
"We'll have a hard time telling everyone back in town."
"I might just disappear..." he miserably said, "there's no place for me there now."
"That's not a good idea."
"Everyone trusted in Cyrus! How will they react when they get to know that he's dead?"
At first Janus was silent.
"I understand what you mean," he finally said, "but we can't exactly..."
"And what are you doing out here?" Glenn shot out, "you're supposed to..."
"I had to find you!" Janus snapped, "should I just have left you to limp back in that form by yourself? I put that spell on you and Cyrus to know your state for a reason!"
"The king and queen are far more important than I, and it's your task to protect them!"
Janus stood up, frustrated.
"I wouldn't say that I'm the one to protect anyone. Leene is not the target for all my assassins!"
"But if you weren't there she'd be!" Glenn growled.
They glared at each other.
"Fine, have it your way," Janus finally grunted and sat down again, "but I'm not letting you just disappear. We'll make you a place, and that's that. You'll help me protect our royalties."
"And how would you get me there, without letting anyone know who I am?" Glenn said in disbelief.
"They know that I suddenly left without a trace, but I didn't tell anyone that it was because I felt that something had happened to you two..."
Janus scratched his head as he thought aloud.
"From now on you're an old victim of Flea, and if it hadn't been for you my latest attacker would have managed to bring me all the way to Ozzie's castle. It was a batcreature, with poisonous claws that made me loose consciousness. It tried to fly me to the Mystics, but when it had to rest you killed it. How about that?"
"Be glad that you aren't the one making up your assassins..." Glenn grunted.
"I hope no one listens and takes notes," Janus said with a slanted smile.
"Heh... behind you!!"
Janus whirled around at Glenn's screech, finding nothing at all. He turned back with a grimace.
"Don't do that!"
Glenn bitterly smirked, only for a second a bit lighthearted of the old joke.
"It might be much to ask, but I can't stay here and Janus must be protected against the Mystics while he's still vulnerable."
"I... I want revenge on Ozzie for what he did to me. If it really comes to war I'll help fight him back."
"I understand. If you're right about the Mystics we need all help we can get. You can stay here in the castle, Janus. The monsters can't harm you here."
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Thank you, my liege.”
Chapter 2, Assembly
Two years later.
The wind was the only sound to be heard by the foundation of Denadoro mountains, apart from a few birds' chirping. But just a couple of minutes ago they had been silenced in fear. No threat was to be seen any longer, however, so they dared to pipe up again.
Then suddenly some of the flyers fled in panic as a dark hole opened in thin air above one of the cliff ledges. Two shadows stepped out and looked down at the grassy path about eight feet below them. Their sharp eyes noted the strange marks in the grass, despite the distance. Two sets of eyebrows went up, they didn't even exchange glances to confirm their thoughtfulness.
"What could be trying to ambush him?" one of them said.
"No idea," the other muttered.
Both of them glanced at the continued path. Some thick bushes grew at its turn ahead, and the ripped tracks seemed to end there.
"We'll know when he shows up," the first one calmly concluded.
The second nodded. He was about twice as old as the first one to speak, and when he moved it was with a slight stagger. The first of them watched his companion as he leaned back against a rock with a grunt.
"Tell me what happened," the first said.
The older slowly shook his head.
"When he comes..." he said, resolutely.
The younger one pursed his mouth. He was worried for the older man, for more reasons than empathy. Even though the empathy for this particular person was about as deep as it possibly could get, that wasn't all.
A distant sound caused both of them to turn their heads and they silently sunk down on one knee not to be seen. Any viewer would have gotten the creeps about how exactly alike they moved. And as if the mirrored movement wasn't enough...
Footsteps came closer, down the path. And a figure came walking into sight, dressed in a light, white-brown cape with a hood that hid the wearer's face. The boots that were seen below the cloth were made of warmly brown leather. A polished, smooth staff hit the ground for every second step as the hooded person walked.
Two pairs of eyebrows went up again, but the men kept still and just watched.
The figure reached the first torn footprints in the grass and sunk down on one knee, reaching out a hand to touch the torn earth.
He straightened up with a grunt and reached up to push the hood backwards.
A sun burned face was revealed, marked with a scar that had torn up the right eyebrow and also forever changed the cheek. The red eye had been spared from the assault, however, even though it obviously had been a close call. A white headband held back a flood of blue hair as the two eyes followed the tracks and finally stopped by the lush bushes.
"Alright, I'm here!" Janus called with a roll of his eyes, "and I know that you are as well, let’s get it over with!"
With a hissed snarl a thin green creature leaped/flew out of the bushes. Three sets of eyebrows knitted.
It was a seven feet humanoid mantis, standing on its back legs. Even if it only had two front legs, those were equipped with claws that resembled to broadswords.
Janus deeply sighed, with one light movement releasing the ties that kept his robe tied up. The cloth fell and got thrown aside. Beneath it the man wore a pair of light-purple pants with a dark belt and a white-brown shirt. He was muscular, but not to the extremes. And it wasn’t the shape of his body that gave the observer the idea of power; the man seemed to emit strength and determination harder than diamonds.
"Flea is running out of ideas, isn't he?" he said with a small sneer, swiftly throwing his staff between his hands, "and I was starting to think that he was getting better..."
"Don't be too full of yourself, you puppet," the mantis hissed, its completely black eyes flaring with rage.
"Me, a puppet?"
Janus' voice suddenly became sharp, and his almost amused look turned to steel. Without moving the slightest his entire body changed from the relaxed stance into something that promised instant death for any opponent.
"You don't know what you're talking about, grasshopper..." he said in an icy voice, "but come on then, if you're so sure of your abilities."
The mantis didn't even reply. Fast as a bolt of lightning it exploded forwards, but Janus was quicker. He leaped aside while taking the staff in his right hand. With a snort he stabbed it into a stone, and there was a sharp, zipping sound. As the human took his weapon in both hands and held it still for a second before the battle truly began it was unveiled that two metallic blades had erupted from the two ends of the hardened stick.
"Interesting, that," the older observer admitted.
"Truly. Hm, look over there."
The older followed his companion's glance and smiled a little.
By the turn of the path that the blue-haired man had come from three other warriors now stood. One young man with fiery red hair held up by a white-gray headband, one blond woman in his age and finally a creature made entirely of metal.
They were all watching the battle with open mouths – well, apart from Robo because of his lack of such – which wasn't much of a surprise. The two combatants were almost invisible, moving so quickly that it was nearly impossible to see what was happening.
"I think we better stop them before they decide to interfere," the younger said.
The younger nodded and stood up while muttering in a low voice.
"And freeze," he said and pointed one gloved palm at the battle and the other at the southern path.
Janus looked up in surprise as the claw he had been ready to parry with his staff never came. With raised eyebrows he watched his frozen opponent, petrified in a stasis that normally should have brought it to fall.
"You're doing fine, I see."
He looked up in further surprise and gave a wide grin as a figure leaped down into the grass a few feet away. A blood red cloak flowed and swayed by the flight and impact, but the wearer seemed untouched by any movement. He smiled a bit as well, hardly able to contain his true delight upon seeing his young student in full strength.
"I almost thought you had forgotten about me," Janus said as he walked past his enemy and grabbed the hand of the Pawn of the Mystics.
"Certainly not, I've just been busy," the slightly older warlock said.
He suddenly looked up at the ledge and added.
"In fact, I'm still busy. But somebody needs our help."
With a grunt another blue haired man with a crimson cloak landed on the path. He was definitely older than the other two men, even though he looked very much like them. Thin face, blue hair – even though it was a bit gray below his pointy ears – red eyes and a muscled body. But despite that he seemed very strong at first sight, something was obviously wrong with him. His shoulders were crouched and he grimaced as he reached up to massage his forehead.
"Now this was unexpected," Janus said with raised eyebrows.
"I thought the same," his teacher agreed and looked sharply at the older, "now can you tell us why you need our help?"
"Yes, but you won't like it."
The oldest Janus sighed and tried to straighten up properly.
"I guess you see that something rather unusual happened to me," he darkly said with a hint of irony at the understatement.
"It's not exactly difficult to notice," the one with different clothes said with a frown.
(Authors note; from now on the "original" Janus will be called the Prince, the one who was enslaved is the Pawn and the one of the time stream they all are in will be the one named Janus, to avoid confusion.)
The one being questioned gravely nodded.
"You know the rules, I shouldn't give you details," he said, but knew he didn't really need to say that.
His mirrors of different time streams nodded agreement.
Another deep sigh before he finally managed to assemble enough nerve to let it out.
"I've settled in a certain time with Schala, her family and a close friend you'll meet later. Yes, Schala. You'll find her."
He sighed again and shook his head.
"Things had been peaceful for years," he bitterly said, "when suddenly the emperor started a war, or if we got attacked, I don't really care. In any case he wanted me to help. I refused and..."
He gritted his teeth and looked away.
"... Because of that, the emperor made sure that Schala's son was in the first line. Of course he got killed. When we got there I..."
His hand spread over his face for a moment before he let it fall and could continue.
"... I knew it was my fault and I fell into more or less trance of despair. Of course there was a force that just had waited for a moment of weakness..."
He fell silent and threw a bitter glance at his silent mirrors.
"So, to sum it up," he darkly said, "I need your help to resurrect Janatzer, because I don't have the power to do it anymore."
"Are you saying that...?" the youngest of them said in disbelief.
The sky received a cold glare.
"I need your help," the Prince darkly said.
"So why are we still standing here?" Janus said, straightening up and letting the query pass, "our nephew's dead and we better mend that."
"I agree," the Pawn gravely nodded.
The oldest almost smiled a bit.
"That would be appreciated," he said.
He raised his hands and opened a Gate, but it wasn’t without apparent hardship. It took several seconds before the portal reluctantly grew big enough. But as soon as possible the men left without looking back at the frozen mantis and heroes.
The Gate closed.
A few seconds later it opened again, and three Januses returned. But this time, they all moved more relaxed than when they left. For what had seemed like a handful of moments for the inhabitants of this time stream had been much longer for the blue-haired men.
"Alright then, my turn to fight Lavos," the youngest grinned.
"And remember what I told you," the Prince said with a small smile.
The staggering was gone, he seemed filled with fresh new energy. Whatever had happened while they had been gone, it had obviously been good in some way.
"That shouldn't be a problem if I'm ready for it," Janus nodded.
While the two others talked the Pawn was watching the still frozen mantis.
"And what might this be?" he asked as the conversation was finished.
Janus rolled his eyes with a dry chuckle.
"It's my latest assassin."
"Your what?" the Prince said with raised eyebrows.
"Me and Flea are waging a private war," Janus said, sounding almost amused, "I'm being assassinated once a month."
"Flea never used transforming magic like that in my time stream," the Pawn said and grunted, "well, he never sent others to kill me either."
"It's not really more than a swift irritation nowadays," the one with the staff said and shook his head, "none of them have been good enough to give me more than this scar ever since I was fourteen."
He motioned at the right side of his face.
"What exactly are you doing here in Denadoro mountains anyway?" his old teacher asked.
"Looking for the Masamune."
The Prince gave Janus a very sharp look.
"You're what?" he slowly said.
"Looking for the Masamune," Janus repeated and glanced towards the approaching, frozen heroes of Time, "and then I better go and kick some fighting spirit back into Glenn so we can get started."
"I am not hearing this," the Prince extremely slowly said.
"So you say?" Janus said with amusement, "what role did you fill in your time stream then? You never told us."
"I was the leader of the Mystics."
This time the Prince was the one receiving sharp looks, from two directions.
"You were what?" the Pawn slowly asked.
"I kicked Ozzie off the throne and led the war. That was until Glenn and the others showed up, but it didn't pass without complications. In the end we fought together, however."
"That is indeed twisted..."
Janus easily leaned at his bladed staff with a small smirk.
"If you were the king of Mystics, that technically makes us enemies since I am the royal wizard of Guardia," he continued, amused.
"I am not hearing this..."
"I could say much the same about your profession," the Pawn grunted.
He glanced at the mantis as a low, cracking sound was heard from it.
"But in any case, I can't hold the spell much longer," he said.
"Well, I need to get going I suppose," Janus said with a sigh, "it was interesting meeting you."
His old teacher smiled a bit, but the Prince just looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he suddenly gave a small grin.
"I think I actually want to see how you do," he said, "I'll be watching."
"Good idea," the Pawn agreed with a similar smirk.
"At your service," Janus sneered as he took the defensive stance in front of the mantis that he had been in before meeting his mirrors.
The Gate closed behind two red cloaks.
'Wake up,' the Pawn's voice almost immediately commanded from inside of Janus' mind.
The royal wizard caught the two bladed arms against his staff and heaved forwards, causing the mantis to fly backwards with a screech. It hit the cliff with its back paws and shot towards his foe again.
With a snarl Janus threw himself aside and rolled away from the sharp edges that plunged into the grass and earth.
"Hang on, we're coming!" a young woman's voice suddenly called.
The mantis screeched in frustration as an arrow hit the panzer on its thin chest. The dart bounced and fell to the ground, but at least the monster's concentration had shattered. Before it had time to recover a massive, metallic fist flung against its head and it stumbled backwards.
Janus whirled to his feet, glancing at the three helpers. He tried not to smile widely in triumph upon seeing those he had waited for finally before him.
Take this! the young man of the troop called while rushing at the surprised mantis, katana in both hands.
"Are you alright?" the young woman called and ran up to the wizard even while she was fidgeting with her bow to get another arrow into it.
"I'm fine," Janus replied, keeping his voice at normal surprised gratefulness, "thank you for the help."
'I see, you'll save them the truth for a while,' the Prince said.
'At least until I know whether they know from which time I come or not,' Janus thought back.
'Why thank you.'
"Are you Janus, the wizard?" Marle asked, not looking at the blue-haired man but carefully aiming at the mantis.
"The very same."
He looked up as he heard Crono's chanting.
"Save it," Glenn's old friend called, "Flea makes all of my assassin's magic proof."
Crono stopped calling upon the world's powers and grimly nodded, getting ready for a direct assault with pure strength and sword skill instead.
But before the young man had time to charge his enemy's wings turned into a blur and the monster left the ground.
"You weakling!" it hissed, its black eyes locked on Janus.
It then shot upwards and disappeared above the cliffs.
With a snort Janus held up his staff in his left hand and waved a little with his free fingers. Accompanied with another zipping sound the two blades shot back into the wood, without a trace.
"Another one down..." the wizard absentmindedly murmured, glancing towards the monster's escape route.
He turned to his helpers and smiled a bit.
"Thanks, that was unexpected," he said and reached down to pick up his robe, "and who might you be?"
Of course he knew already, but as he had decided to hide his past until he had information about his allies' knowledge he was determined to play the game to the fullest.
I'm Crono, the young man said as he sheathed his katana, this is Marle and Robo.
He pointed at his friends while saying their names.
"You helped save the queen," Janus nodded while shaking Crono's hand, "Frog told me."
Yeah, him, Lucca and me saved Her Majesty, Crono said.
"I have to thank you for that. You did what I failed to, as I was on the completely wrong track at the time."
'I'm not hearing this...'
Janus had to fight a smirk at the voice in his head.
"So, what can I do for you?" he asked and turned to Marle after shaking Robo's hand without even blinking.
"We are here in pursuit of the sword Masamune," the robot informed with his beeping voice, "we received the information that you had gone here to find it as well and decided that it would be logical to search your help, sir."
"Is that so?"
Janus’ smile turned a little wider.
"Then let's go, it's said to have been placed somewhere on top of this mountain after the last owner died."
His smile faltered and his eyes darkened during the last few words, however.
"I... take it you knew him?" Marle carefully said after a moment's tight silence.
Janus slowly nodded.
"Yes, Cyrus," he explained, "Guardia's finest knight, and a good friend of both Frog and me. The leaders of the Mystics killed him. And Frog was..."
He fell silent and shook his head.
"That's not a tale that I should tell," he said and threw the robe over his shoulder, "let's go."
"Yes, but... eh... what about that grasshopper thing?" Marle said, a bit nervously glancing at the sky that was to be seen between the cliffs, "shouldn't we have stopped it in case... well..."
"Don't worry about that, I've seen several dozens of his kind," Janus said with a tired sneer, "Flea just won't give up trying to kill me. Nothing to worry about, it's set on me and won't attack anyone else, if that is what bothers you."
"I don't know if I'm relieved or even more worried..."
She straightened up and looked around.
"So, who's coming along, now that we've got Janus here?" she asked, "I still think that somebody should go and try to get Frog back on his feet."
"He's still depressed?" Janus grunted and rubbed his forehead, "that stupid amphibian..."
'That's in fact the only normal thing you've said so far,' the Prince dryly commented, but the small smile wasn't a sneer.
"Considering you resemble to queen Leene I believe that you are the one who'd succeed in making him feel better, Marle," Robo beeped, "however the roads aren't safe to travel alone with the monsters around."
Marle sighed and leaned her cheek in her hand.
"It might be out of place, I know," she said, shifting between sad and sheepish, "but I can't help but feel sorry for him. He really thinks he's a failure."
Janus snorted and shook his head.
"He's a failure?" the wizard said in disbelief, "he's the one who saved the queen from Yakra!"
Yes, but he's still feeling lower than a mole, Crono grunted.
"Is he in his home in the Cursed woods?" Janus asked.
"Yeah," Marle nodded, "I'd go but..."
"No problem, I'll teleport you there."
The young man, the woman and the robot looked at the wizard in surprise.
"Can you do that?" Marle asked.
"Certainly. Do you trust me?" Janus returned.
"I know Frog and everyone else around here does, so yes," the princess said with a smile.
"Very well. We'll be there in a few hours or so."
Janus raised his staff to point at Marle with it.
"And tell him that if he doesn't get a grip of himself I'll drag him out of his hole in his tongue," the wizard added before he closed his eyes and muttered a short spell.
A strong light erupted from the staff and swept around Marle. As it faltered she was gone.
Whoa! Crono stated.
"The unknown force was truly very impressive," Robo agreed.
"It's nothing too complicated, however I can only teleport to places I have visited earlier, or use people's memory for it. So we'll have to climb the mountain."
Janus motioned at the path ahead with his staff.
And so the royal wizard of Guardia finally joined the heroes of Time, after thirteen years' waiting.
Chapter 3, Inside the head of a royal wizard
In order to let you properly get to know this new Janus, the following two chapters will switch from third person view to first. So, I now leave you to Janus’ storytelling…
Throughout my entire life I have tried to do the right thing, to repay the people who protected me while I was weaker. I grew strong, fast. Thanks to my teacher, and I am him forever grateful for all he did for me.
As I grew up in the castle I also grew into the role I came to automatically fill, to become the "royal wizard". I got the title officially on my eighteenth birthday. Of course, "royal" was never really necessary, considering that I am the only human in this time that know magic.
Oh well, I used to be.
What my title, what my place has meant... king Guardia offered me a sanctuary while I was a child, and I chose to become the sanctuary for him and for his people.
But all the time, I knew I wouldn't stay there forever. I was waiting, everyday I was waiting for this moment, when I finally would meet the other time travelers.
I already knew Glenn, of course. Or Frog. I only call him Glenn when we are alone.
Despite my first views of him and Cyrus -the weakling and the towering guardian, rather pathetic- the three of us became friends.
I knew what could happen when Cyrus decided that he was going to find the fabled hero medal and the Masamune in order to help us in the Mystic war. I wanted to go with him and Glenn, I didn't want their possible fate to occur. But, as the knight managed to force into my head...
I had a duty.
Funny, isn't it?
Ironical that I, the bratty little prince of Zeal, would become such a responsible man.
Cyrus won, of course. He knew I wouldn't have the nerve to leave, knowing that the monsters could find out about it and take a chance to redirect one of my assassins to the king or queen.
Ah yes, my assassins...
I clearly remember my first one. I was twelve, and he was some kind of lizard creature that climbed up the wall of the castle and broke into my room during the night. Luckily I have a tendency to come awake at the slightest sound. This can be infernally irritating, but it does serve a purpose.
It wasn't my screams that called the guards, it was the beast as I hunted it back through the window with very irritated lightning bolts. My days were filled with studying magic, and I could become very grumpy when I didn't get the rest I needed. Especially if I was awakened so abruptly.
But even though I had beaten the first, Flea would send another. And another, and another, and another...
I wasn't kidding when I said that I'm being assassinated once a month. Roughly, that's the time span between the attacks.
Flea is too impatient to train his creations properly before sending them off. I don't even know what monsters he's using for the transformation spells.
I'll hand him two things. His stubbornness is admirable, and he can surprise me sometimes.
My face is scarred, so all of them aren't only laughable.
But their master isn't. After all he, Slash and Ozzie managed to kill Cyrus and transform Glenn into what he is today.
Someday me and Glenn are going to kill Flea and reverse the spell.
I came too late...
I knew I should have come with them.
There is of course a chance that I would have been killed as well. But even so, I should at least have tried.
It seems that whenever I make a mistake, it's deadly. Somebody always tends to end up bleeding, somebody that shouldn't have.
I even failed to protect the queen against Yakra. Once again I came too late. And I searched around the place where she disappeared, alone. And while I did, they found Marle and thought that she was Leene. And Crono and Lucca came to find her.
Those people that I had spent thirteen years waiting for. When they showed up, I was out. Looking for someone who already had been taken way away from where I strayed.
And Glenn met them instead. I knew he would. But when I finally came back, finding that I was late again, I could only feel disappointment.
Yes, they would be back. For one reason or another. So I just had to wait a little longer.
But I felt that I hadn't been able to do what I set out to do while in this era; protect everyone from those who were my possible masters.
And to top it all off, Glenn felt even more miserable since he had gotten the role as Leene's guardian. Despite his victory in saving her, he had left the castle to pay for his disgrace.
For one day I stayed in the castle, my agitation building up for every passing minute until I was about to explode.
It is said that a fabled hero will retrieve the Masamune and save the lands from evil in the darkest hour. My teacher had told me everything I needed to know to be ready. Glenn needed to be equipped with the Masamune and we had to fight Ozzie together with Crono and the others.
This is what I had been looking forward to for all these years.
If only Glenn wasn't such an idiot.
I went to the king and requested his allowance to leave in pursuit of Cyrus, Glenn and the Masamune.
Glenn couldn't live with telling anyone who the giant frog really was, and I respected that. Even if it meant that we had to live with being the only ones who knew that Cyrus wouldn't ever be able to come back and help us fight for the humans.
So once again I lied to my liege.
By the way... is "I'm not hearing this" your mantra, my friend?
'I'm not hearing it!'
I can feel the other voice in my head smirk a bit, as I do.
He may claim whatever he want, our older mirror... but I feel a sense of pride for my strength, that he cannot hide.
You try to be the coldest one.
'Given. Old habit, perhaps. But I refuse to agree that I could have been you.'
And why do you sound amused, saying that?
I smirk a bit, turning my face away from Crono and Robo not to make them wonder about my behavior.
'Just go on...' he tiredly grunts.
The king didn't want to see me leave into dangerous grounds filled with monsters. After all it's not unknown even to the humans that my head has a sky-high price within the Mystic's circles. Flea would by now do just about anything to get his hands on me.
'Now don't give me any mental images...'
Have to agree on that, now I feel a bit sick myself actually...
In any case, I am a very wanted man. But the king and Leene let me go after a rather long conversation of convincing matter.
Immediately I teleported to the Cursed woods to see Glenn. As the time travelers had finally come I knew there were only a matter of days before the Zenan bridge would be attacked.
Yes, I felt utterly guilty leaving the king's side when I knew such a crucial moment approached. But at least I would be able to teleport back if needed.
Admitted, I knew Glenn could be hard to convince back into fighting.
But that he would be that hard necked I hadn't expected. And I couldn't tell him of the urgency of action since I felt he wasn't ready for the entire truth. He had met our future comrades in arms, but not heard their full story nor traveled in time.
So I took a risk. I decided that I would go and try to find the Masamune's blade that according to Glenn had been stuck in the ground before Cyrus' dead body last he saw it. But back then, on the day when I came too late to save my two friends... all me and Glenn found on the ledge where the battle had stood was the hilt of the sacred sword. The blade and the remains of Cyrus were gone.
But in the area I sensed a magic surge that wasn't from a monster, that felt strangely familiar.
Glenn spoke of two peculiar creatures with pointy ears and noses that had guarded the sword. Cyrus had defeated them to win it.
The description of the guardians also itched in my mind, but I could never remember.
But at least those facts led me to believe that those who had taken care of the sword earlier had chosen to retrieve what they could and keep watching over it.
So the hilt and the hero medal was all we had left of our friend. I wanted Glenn to have both the artifacts, since he had been by Cyrus side to the bitter end while I hadn’t. But he insisted and the last part of the weapon is well hidden in my room at the castle.
Denadoro mountains were my only clue to the other half of the weapon.
By using the transporting spell I had already signaled to Flea that I had left the castle, though he possibly couldn’t have sensed where I went. And leaving territory where humans lived created the risk that I wouldn't know if the Mystics launched another attack to reach the capital. And also, it would leave me personally vulnerable to attacks.
The problem with transporting spells are that other magic users that know the force can sense it vaguely. And if they manage to "catch" that sensation they will be able to prepare for further investigation.
Therefore I've tried not to use that magic too often in case something like this would happen.
Yes, I did teleport Marle back to Glenn. However, even though I was the one casting the spell she'd leave a different track than me, and would be safe.
Flea already knew I was out somewhere and he will try to find me, nobody else.
So, even though it would have been quicker and might have been safer in the short run I chose not to teleport to Denadoro mountains, but walk.
It would take much longer, and I could be attacked by regular monsters along the road... however it lowered the risk for nasty surprises in the mountains.
Should Flea manage to get a firm grip of my teleportation path, he'd be able to pinpoint my location and also follow me there via my own magic tracks. And he'd definitely bring company.
To keep fairly anonymous during my journey I bought that robe in Porre and headed north.
Of course I was attacked, but those encounters were sporadic by loose groups of monsters.
Those were no problem.
What I didn't count on was another assassin. The grasshopper came earlier than I thought my next foe would. And despite that he did put up a good fight.
Each one of the beasts I have faced have seemed to be able to smell me miles away. I have no idea how Flea does it…
But that doesn't matter.
Finally my waiting is over, the real battle can begin.
"According to my calculations a short rest would be in order," Robo suddenly beeps.
Crono agrees, in his strangely silent yet speaking way.
I have to admit that since we might face a couple of vicious sword guardians we should save our strength, even though I’m eager to get this over with as soon as possible.
Cyrus managed to beat them alone, but I've been taking enough chances now. I can take risks, never feared to do so. However, I never like to risk others' lives.
We sit down in the shadow of a cliff, well... if "sit down" is the appropriate word when it comes to Robo.
I suppose it's bound to happen sooner or later... I shouldn't hide everything to them. Since they don't seem to recognize my name I take it they haven't entered Zeal yet.
"Anyway, why are you looking for the Masamune?" I ask my two companions, innocently.
Crono shifts a bit, hesitating of where to begin. I hold back a smile.
Well... he finally starts, uh... I guess this might sound a bit weird, but since we might be fighting together I suppose...
"Oh, don't worry," I say while battling the smile even more furiously, "very little surprise me by now."
Okay then, the young man starts again, we, Robo, Marle and me aren't really from this time. That goes for Lucca too, she who helped me and Frog with the queen. We come from the future.
I raise my eyebrows, and even Robo seems a bit surprised at my calmness.
As I said, I won't hide everything, but let it out bit by bit. And a big chunk is approaching. But not just yet...
"So you say?" I calmly reply in a smooth voice, "and what brings you here then?"
Uh, aren't you shocked? Crono asks.
"Actually not very much. Sorry to disappoint you."
"Are we to understand that you already were informed about time travel?" Robo beeps.
I turn my face away and stare off in the distance, my fingers tapping against the staff resting across my lap.
"In fact, yes."
I turn back and smile a bit.
"I am a wizard, after all," I add to take the edge off of their suspicion.
It works. Crono relaxes a bit again.
Oh, I see... he says, you surprised me a bit.
"Fully understandable. Go on," I urge, not unfriendly.
Well, we got the idea that the Mystics here might have a connection to a fearful beast named Lavos, and...
I was waiting for that. Crono almost falls backwards and Robo beeps in alarm as I fly to my feet, staring down at the two of them with a dangerous scowl.
"What do you know about Lavos?" I demand, managing to make my voice as harsh as I hoped.
You... know him? the young man almost stutters.
"You can say that our connection is rather personal, yes," I grimly say and sit down again.
How then? he asks.
For a moment I glare at my staff.
"It's a long story," I finally tell the two of them, "for now, let's just say that since we have not only the search for the Masamune in common, but also share the same enemy, I'm going to come with you even further."
Finally I darkly look up.
"What do you know about him?" I repeat.
"Necessary data is missing," Robo sadly says, "the information we have is limited. We know that he is a dangerous creature that will arise in the year 1999 AD and almost completely wipe out life as we know it on this planet."
Slowly I nod.
Say, what do you know? Crono carefully asks.
"I know that he's a parasite growing stronger with the life force of our world," I say through clenched teeth, "that he is an intelligent being who can fool and possess humans if he find use of it. I've seen that once too many."
To mark an end of the information stream I straighten up and grimly nods.
"I see what you mean," I murmur, "if the Mystics might have some connection to him this whole world and time is in grave danger. It can be that we only can fight them with the help of the fabled hero and his sword. In any case, I'll help you."
I stand up and look ahead on the waiting path.
"And Frog is going to take that sword and help us as well, even if I should have to run it through his thick little green head."
'Hah, there's hope for you yet...'
'Don't break my theater here!' I smirk in my thoughts.
And we begin to walk again, towards the summit of the mountain.
Chapter 4, Battle on the mountain
The sun is high by now, shining down at our small troop as we proceed. We’re closing in on the summit.
As soon as I reached the foot of the mountain I felt something calling me there, intuition or something else I do not know.
‘You’ll see,’ my oldest guardian mutters in the back of my head.
Neither of them will interfere, just watch and comment my thoughts. I must say I enjoy it, strange as it may sounds.
But on the whole I’m not very amused.
I’m delighted to have met my destined allies, still their reason for being here troubles me.
Crono explained to me that in his future there is a village of monsters who doesn’t bother the humans, and I figured it is placed on the Mystic island in the northeast. In any case, there Crono, Marle and Lucca had learned that the great magician Flea had predicted the coming of the great beast Lavos.
If there is even the tiniest connection between them…
I have never battled Flea personally, though he is the one that officially is crowned as my archenemy. Crowned by both sides. In any case, I never felt his full strength when I was skilled enough to measure it.
‘You’ve got greater skills,’ my teacher grimly mutters, ‘however one should never underestimate any one of those three.’
‘Agreed,’ the one who was “those three’s” king says, ‘they are fools on the whole and Ozzie is an all-out idiot. But they can be dangerous foes still, considering that they’re prepared to use every dirty trick there is at the same time.’
‘Did you allow them to live despite all they did to you?’ my teacher asks in distrust.
‘Yes, I even let them be my generals.’
My eyebrows take a flight as my possibility reveals another part of his story. He clearly doesn’t want to, but force himself into it.
‘At first it was only to keep the monsters assembled,’ he grimly tells the two of us, ‘and of course to humiliate them. That last thing never changed. Looking back, I am also amazed that I never killed them while still ruling. That came later, with Glenn and the others.’
‘Why did you lead the war?’ I ask.
I have to know…
He’s silent for a while.
‘I tried to summon Lavos to kill him myself,’ he finally confess, ‘and no, I couldn’t have been more arrogant. The spell to do it doesn’t require sacrifices, so that wasn’t the reason. No…’
He actually sighs, once again showing that he isn’t the cold creature he pretends to be by habit. I stopped believing in that mask as soon as I saw him by his… our dead nephew’s side.
‘Ozzie had already started the war when I took over. I think I was twenty by then, I had lost count over the years. And it was a disaster; a complete, bloodied lock for both sides. However I saw that the humans might get the upper hand and in the end crush the Mystics. And I needed time to find a way to summon and fight Lavos. Having my surroundings crumble and burn around me was not in my plan, so I had to do something to hold back the humans.’
‘I see…’ I grimly think.
And to think… I could have been doing that.
‘There’s worse, even if that might be a term defined by the observer,’ my teacher says in an emotionless voice.
‘Quite right,’ the former king of monsters grunts.
He sighs again before he speaks once more.
‘Tell me, do you even know why the Mystics were formed, in the very beginning?’
‘Why?’ I repeat, rather blankly.
‘Ah yes, I never bothered to tell you more about Lizard…’ my teacher says.
‘Well, he needs to know as well, because that monster will save your lives. I doubt that will change considering the circumstances.’
‘What?’ my teacher sharply says.
‘What are you talking about?’ I ask with a frown.
‘Lizard is Ozzie’s ancestor,’ is the patient reply, ‘and the complete opposite to the monster sprung from him. That goes for Warrior and Magician too, Slash and Flea’s ancestors. Look, it’s a rather long story. I’ll just pour the tale into your mind from mine next time you sleep.’
‘Very well,’ I say after a moment.
Not exactly anything I ever had considered possible…
‘Me neither,’ the two voices says almost simultaneously.
Suddenly something dashes through the air and I have to duck.
“Look out!” I snarl as another small rock almost hits Crono’s head instead.
“It’s one of the armored birds inhabiting the lower lands,” Robo calmly beeps.
It’s standing on top of a cliff, too far away to be hit by magic. The freelancers, as they call themselves, are… well, let’s just say that they are smarter than goblins -which goes for bushes as well- and stronger than imps. And they are fairly fit with those swords and the armor they’re using.
He can’t kill us with the rocks, but they might hurt.
Let’s just walk past, Crono proposes, irritated.
“Very well,” I agree.
The monster screeches as we quickly slid down an almost smooth cliff to a lower ledge, out of reach for the bird. Too late I realize that the call isn’t frustrated.
The bushes around the new ledge move…
“Crap!” I mutter and stab my staff into the ground to release its blades.
‘What’s wrong with Zealan curses?’ the oldest of my companion grunts, ‘“crap” is hardly worth to be entitled curse.’
‘Oh, I don’t think they’re threat enough to really deserve worse…’ I say with a light smirk.
Another freelancer and three goblins with big wooden hammers rush out of the bushes and surround us. Crono already has his sword ready, Robo doesn’t have any visible weapons but his fists.
“Be careful, the goblins can be tricky when they’ve got those hammers,” I warn from the corner of my lips as we back up against each other.
“Hey, dirty human,” one of the green monsters grunt with the others’ approval growling, “we ogans, no goblins!”
Normally you wouldn’t call that a voice coming from the creature’s throat, it sounds more like the sound of somebody stepping in thick mud. I roll my eyes.
“Ogans,” I nod with a sigh and big deal of sarcasm, “got it.”
“Good,” he snarls, smugly.
‘Which simply is their word for “goblin with big hammer”,’ my teacher dryly comments, ‘you know how to fight them, don’t you?’
‘Of course I do.’
Well this is refreshing. It was some time ago I actually could use magic during a battle, since all my personal threats are immune to that power. Ever since my third. That was when I learned the hard way that I had put physical training aside for far too long. I was just lucky to still have…
I clench my teeth at the memory, it can still cause me loss of concentration during battle.
Robo attacks one of the ogans before I can stop him, and the monster easily parries the robot’s blow with his weapon of hardened wood. Meanwhile Crono has engaged battle with the freelancer.
“Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire!” I shout while Robo tries to fend himself from two of the green beasts and the third approaches me with the hammer in both hands, ready for a blow.
Don’t even try it.
I bury one of the staff’s blades in the ground as I call out the spell’s last word in old Zealan, focusing all my will at the sharp sound as earth enclose metal for perfect concentration. I have trained this well. Of course I don’t need the staff to cast spells, but this is a trick I discovered.
Spells must be mastered to perfection, that’s a well known fact. Sometimes they can be magically learned through desperation, that works just as good as studies. But you have to know them to the fullest to use them for incarnating your power of will.
But you can take a step further.
My whole body knows the feeling of forcing the staff downwards, the sound at impact is as familiar as my own voice. Power, will, knowledge and familiarity creates a perfection and my magic is flawless. When I cast a spell, I am the magic. I am every sparkle of the lightning bolt, every drop of water, shard of ice, shadow of darkness, star of healing. And now I am every flame that erupts from my body and scorch the air without harming my allies or the nature around us.
But the ogans growl and drop their burning weapons, the freelancer leaps backwards with a pained screech.
“Now you’re goblins,” I calmly conclude, smiling a bit at the former ogans and their rage.
‘Very impressive!’ my teacher congratulates, sheer amazement in his voice.
‘I give up,’ the old king of monsters very slowly says, ‘you are almost an impossibility.’
‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
Just a few minutes later all of the still living monsters flee; the goblins are nothing without their weapons.
Good thing you were around, since we hadn’t brought Lucca, Crono smiles and sheaths his sword.
I return the smile and nod before rehiding the staff’s sharp ends. I don’t like having them out when there’s no battle, it takes some by surprise and I don’t risk cutting somebody by mistake. Besides, the metal might reflect the sun and give me away to an observer.
We begin to walk again.
Hm. Magic is my strongest point, many can fight. I always knew I needed both, and as I said I neglected battling with my body for a little too long.
I managed to fight back my first and second assassin by myself, but the third one had the magic shield that everyone have had since then.
If I hadn’t had my life guards then I would most certainly not have been able to walk in Denadoro mountains now.
Thomas and Justin risked their lives to help me with that accursed thing. It was a ghostly creature, more the skeleton of a humanoid monster than anything else. I clearly remember the thin red eyes it had, burning with delight as I stumbled backwards. Horrified as I realized that my magic was useless against it.
I was still weak, depending too much on my magic. Foolish. But that I was a fool, that’s not the worse thing. I was still a child, so I suppose that it’s not a real crime not to think of everything at the same time.
Justin attacked first, my memory turns to slow-motion as I try to recall the battle. Thomas was just behind him.
I’ll be them forever grateful, and I let Justin know that whenever I see him. And I try to visit Thomas’ grave whenever I can.
Yes, the bastard killed Thomas and gave Justin a bad wound that almost robbed his life as well. That was the price of my foolishness.
I suppose that at that point I wouldn’t have stood much of a chance either, even if I had been able to fight a little. Still, I couldn’t do much to help. Nothing to save my guardians who tried to save me.
Damn you, Flea.
Thomas died, for me. I still remember his laugh… he and Cyrus, I couldn’t save either of them. Both of them good friends I lost, just like Schala and Alfador.
Damn you, Lavos.
The assassin fled, but came back later. To pay, it turned out. With help from my other guards, new ones and more of them.
I began to train, so that nobody ever would be hurt in my place again. That was when I befriended Glenn and Cyrus.
Knowing there was a chance I’d loose at least one of them later…
I try to push the thoughts away. No time for that now. And I’m grateful for that the two watching spirits respect my feelings by being silent.
This war has to stop. And Lavos must be stopped at all costs. I have to focus on the future and not the past. Well, not literally spoken… some things in the past need to be mended as well.
“I believe that there is a cave up ahead,” Robo reports.
The itching in the back of my head is tingling as he speaks. Something really is calling me there. And that’s literally spoken.
‘What took you so long, prince Janus?’ a singing, warmly laughing voice calls to my mind, and I almost stumble.
That was neither of my mirrors. But… familiar…? Wait, I know this… only three creatures I ever knew had such voices, and that just has to be…
‘Masa?’ I call back, silently.
‘Does he remember us, big brother?’ another voice cheers in the background.
‘Seems so,’ Masa replies, ‘say, do you, prince?’
‘Quite well, I had my suspicions about the sword’s name.’
I smile in my thoughts.
‘Who’s with you?’ Mune curiously asks.
‘Some friends that’ll help me fight Lavos,’ I tell them.
‘Great!’ Masa grins, ‘we’ve been waiting for ages here!’
‘We’ll have to test you!’ Mune happily shouts.
I nod at them without moving my head.
‘I understand. But you’ll have to promise me one thing.’
‘What then?’ they almost breathlessly asks.
‘Don’t call me prince when we meet. These people here don’t know about Zeal yet.’
‘Alright, we promise.’
‘Thanks. Now are you ready to be beaten by the bratty little prince and his friends?’ I grin.
‘Let’s rumble!’ the guru Melchior’s “children” merrily calls.
And Crono reaches the cave. Robo and me are just behind him.
Here we go…
Chapter 5, The twin guardians
“I’m the wind! Whoosh!”
The happy call came from a small child dancing around in the middle of the cave. Laughing he leapt from the rocks lying about, seemingly filled with an endless power supply. As the two men and the robot entered the cave he stopped for a moment to merrily wave at them before he continued his private game.
“What might a child be doing in this area?” Robo beeped, and even though he was a robot he sounded puzzled.
Why do I have a feeling he’s not a normal child? Crono murmured and continued to walk over the cave floor, keeping an eye at the joyful boy as he proceeded.
‘Welcome, prince Janus!’ Mune silently called, swooshing by the wizard’s side in his game.
‘Just don’t call me prince aloud,’ the blue-hair replied with a small smile.
‘I promised, you know!’
‘They can’t sense you, can they?’ Janus thought deeper within his mind.
‘No, that could lead to a complicated situation,’ the Pawn said with a shake of his head.
‘Just making sure.’
With his companions just behind Crono reached the other side of the cave. Sunlight flowed down through a hole in the roof, almost like a touchable ray shining over the sword embedded in the ground.
‘But that’s wrong, it should only be the blade…?’ Janus pondered with a frown.
‘It’s a illusion,’ Mune explained, ‘neat, huh?’
‘Yes, it is. I can’t see through it.’
‘Me neither,’ the Prince admitted, ‘Melchior knew what he did.’
His remark was followed by a grunt from the oldest warlock’s side.
‘For better or worse,’ he added.
“Hold it!” the boy called.
Crono froze in his movement of reaching for the Masamune and looked questioning at the child that ran up between the warriors and the weapon.
“Hang on a moment!”
Mune turned around.
“Oh, big brother!” he called.
From out of the sparkles on the metal another child stepped, identical to the first.
“Yeah?” he said but jumped as he saw the guests, “what, more warriors? Humans are so silly!”
“Yeah!” Mune profusely nodded, “it’s not who wields the sword that is important, it’s how you use it!”
“Agreed,” Janus calmly said, “and we need it to fight a great evil.”
‘So, you’re really going for Lavos then?’ Masa asked with rare graveness in his voice.
‘Okay. But we still have to test you.’
“Should we test them, big brother?” Mune asked aloud.
Masa nodded with a tired smile. Faked, Janus knew.
“I guess we better,” he concluded.
And with that they morphed.
The two small boys were covered in a flashing light, and as it swept away from them again they looked completely different. Their skin had a yellow hue, they had no hair. Heads formed almost like drops of water with the protruding, sharp noses and very rounded back. Only the sharply pointy ears broke the smooth look. The clothes were white, long tunics in the finest cloth the lost kingdom of Zeal had been able to offer.
There was only one way to tell them apart, and that was that Masa wore a thick, green bandanna around his neck, while Mune’s had a purple color.
“Ready or not, here we come!” they called and dashed forwards.
Janus tore up his staff in both hands and spun it before himself to knock Masa aside, while Crono was violently knocked into the cave wall by Mune. Both the hit ones got up quickly and prepared for a second round.
‘Hey, cool staff!’ Masa silently cheered as he shook his head to regain his senses, ‘don’t hold back now, prince! Put the sharp ends to use!’
‘Yeah, we’re not kids you know!’ Mune heartily agreed.
Janus frowned in hesitation, but when Robo was sent stumbling backwards he pursed his mouth and the wood sang against a rock.
‘Now we’re talking!’
Yet another call from Mune, this one sprung from his hasty flight through the air after a direct hit from Robo’s metallic fist. He crashed against the wall and bounced up with a merry laughter that was strangely contagious despite the situation.
The robot almost fell of the impact as the creature smashed into him, retaliating the attack received. And Mune didn’t stop at that; he flung at Janus who ducked and swung his staff after the quick foe. The impact slammed the magical monster to the ground, but he got up again as if nothing had happened and Janus had to dance backwards while parrying pummels that such small hands and short arms shouldn’t have been capable of. He found himself grinning a bit, returning the gaze from the two deep, bright eyes in the yellowish face.
As the wizard fought the two voices in his head kept silent to spare him concentration.
‘Sorry you two,’ Janus sent out to the twins, ‘but I need to get back to the castle before the Zenan bridge is attacked.’
‘But we were just getting started!’ Mune groaned.
‘Yes, yes… sorry.’
“Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water!” Janus shouted and leaped to the middle of the cave with the magical words flowing from his lips just before the staff’s blade hit the ground.
Two massive chunks of pure ice appeared from out of nowhere and slammed into Masa and Mune, hurling them violently into the walls.
Whoa… Crono muttered and rubbed his arm.
He had been deep within a battle with Masa, and the chunk of ice had brushed by beside him without harming.
“Had enough?” Janus asked while the ice dissolved, not unfriendly.
But the brothers leaped up again, grinning excitedly.
“Hey, only Cyrus made it this far!” Mune said.
“Yeah!” Masa said, “but we’re not done yet.”
‘Boys, I don’t want to be harsh, but we really need to get this over with!’ Janus sighed.
‘Sorry prince, you must understand that we can’t let you at Lavos without being sure that you and these other guys can handle him. Well, as sure as we possibly can…’
Before Janus had time to throw out further protest the two creatures turned to each other.
“With Masa’s wisdom and…”
“… Mune’s courage!”
“Combine!” they shouted simultaneously, slamming into each other.
And thus creating yet another intense light that signaled transformation.
Oh, great… Crono sighed and changed grip of his katana as the gigantic, muscled beast hovered above him and his friends.
“I believe that if he should trip it would be very hard for him to get back on his feet,” Robo beeped in a low voice, carefully motioning at the very small legs holding up the fused beasts’ body.
The royal wizard grimly took his staff in both hands and nodded.
“Ready when you are,” he said, his voice completely calm.
Masa and Mune’s fused form roared enough to shake the whole cave before throwing out a massive arm against the three warriors. Crono and Janus managed to leap backwards in time, but Robo wasn’t build to move quickly and crashed on the ground several yards away.
“Are you alright?” Janus called, rather unsure whether his magic powers of Water would be able to help a creature made of steel.
“Right side of back lightly scraped, no other damage to report…” Robo replied and managed to get back to standing.
‘As I remember it he could be healed by magic, so you should be able to do so in need,’ the Pawn muttered deep down in Janus’ mind.
‘Nice to know… now what?’
The wizard’s long hair flapped by the yellow beast’s violent inhalation. Pebbles were drawn over the floor by the strong gasping and Crono’s bandana almost got torn off his head.
What is he… are they doing? the young man with the sword called above the wind.
Janus pressed the fingertips of his pointing and middle finger against his forehead, partly because it helped him concentrate, partly because he was trying to keep his own headband in place.
For an inner eye he saw the wind swirl into Masa and Mune’s body, whirling into a thick pack of nature force…
“They’re storing power for a lightning attack!” Janus warned.
It’s going to hurt, isn’t it? Crono grimly muttered and moved his feet into a defensive stance.
“Not if we take them out before they can unleash it.”
Oh, great. Robo! Get ready to tackle him when I attack, and you try to slam them with more ice, Janus… alright?
“Sounds fine to me,” the wizard said with the shadow of a smile.
Masa and Mune finished their breathing and grinned at their enemies, entwining their fingers…
“Ready!” Robo metallically hummed.
Now! Crono shouted and leaped forward.
“Ta keich sanea wyh!” Janus called and once again buried the staff’s blade in the ground.
As he already had called upon the power of Water and hadn’t chanted anything else of another element he didn’t need to ask for power again and could go straight to the point.
Robo’s heavy frame smashed into the yellow twin-creature one second before Crono’s katana cut deep within the stomach of the foe. But there was no blood, looked almost as if the metal had been run trough some kind of softer wood. However the forces still caused Masa and Mune to stumble backwards.
“Duck!” Janus shouted and threw his palms towards the battle area.
Crono and Robo had just enough time to obey before more chunks of ice hit their opponent.
But even though the force made Masa and Mune rock aside they managed to keep their balance thanks to the cave wall.
“Hachra…” Janus muttered under his breath, this time finding the enemy worth Zealan swearing.
He tried to assemble enough focus for a second spell quickly, but a gigantic yellow fist hit the ground and a sharp light shot over the floor towards the wizard.
Robo never got any further before the blue-haired man flew backwards with a pained screech, the staff being torn out of the ground but then helplessly falling from a lost grip before the crash came.
Janus got up, shaking his head to regain orientation. His weapon levitated away from the floor and zoomed over to his waiting hand.
“Well, can’t expect to get away from everything…” he grunted and staggered a bit as he tried to move, “never mind me, I can heal myself. Fight him!”
The last two sentences were added as it seemed that both Robo and Crono’s focus on the battle was disrupted. But the wizard’s order was sharp enough to be obeyed almost blindly and they turned back to the monster.
“Na matala sela,” Janus muttered and showered himself in golden stars.
A second later he dashed forward and the staff forcefully hit Masa and Mune just between their horns. Janus’ feet hit the big chest and sent him back into the cave; flipping over in the air brought him to a perfect landing.
‘Aww, come on!’ the combined voice of the two grinned to his mind, ‘you can do better than that!’
‘So can you.’
‘Right you are, prince!’
“Oh for the love of… look out!” Janus shouted and threw himself down.
He had no time to see if his companions made it to the ground before the attack came.
Lightning bolts danced through the cave, and no one was spared. The bolts were too quick and well-aimed to be avoided.
With a harsh cry of pain Crono swayed, clutching his burned sides.
“Circuits near temporary shutdown…” Robo announced with a dangerously fading voice.
Janus staggered to his feet and leaned at his staff.
“Now you’ve asked for it!” he grunted.
The staff hit the ground even as the wizard was running his eyes over his allies. Robo had gone into at least a short stasis of “not working” so that his computer brain could mend the damage dealt by the harsh electricity. But Crono was still standing, a bit insecure but still.
“Have you got enough strength left for a spell?” Janus called.
The young man opened one tightly shut eye and grinned almost wickedly.
I’ve been in worse than this, he stated and straightened up.
“Good, be ready to fuse your magic with mine,” Janus growled.
Sweet, more lightning…
“Dark powers of the world, I dare to ask of thee to lend me strength!”
“Uh-oh…” Masa and Mune piped up.
That doesn’t sound too pretty… Crono commented with a grin and raised his arms, powers of the world, lend me the power of Lightning!
The two men’s voices flared together as they called out their spells.
One white and one pitch black triangle swung into existence between Janus and the yellow beast, huge and small at the same time.
“At the light!” the wizard bellowed.
Ha! Crono called and threw out his arms.
Lightning sprouted from his hands and flashed through the air. The white triangle absorbed the force it was offered and its light intensified until it became unbearable…
That was when the black form swallowed the light.
Time ceased to exist until the complete power was unleashed.
Since the explosion was magical the ear couldn’t detect any sound, so the waves went straight into the head without taking such a detour.
It could be easily described with the simple word “ow!”.
Especially if it was aimed mainly at you and nothing else.
Masa and Mune screeched as the pure dark energy, fused with Crono’s lighting, imploded towards them.
A moment later there was a beep.
“Did I miss anything while I was shut down?” Robo asked as he got to his feet again.
His scanners took in the scene with another beep, this one rather puzzled.
Crono was just standing there, his katana hanging in a loose grip while his mouth was wide open and his eyes went between Janus and the yellow monster. The wizard was swaying hardly recognizable, pressing one hand against his forehead above tiredly closed eyes. And Masa and Mune…
… They were placed in a hole shaped perfectly after their body. Since nothing of them were sticking out into the cave the gap in the solid cave wall had to be at least two or three feet deep considering their muscular form.
“You managed a good spell, Crono… ugh,” Janus grimaced.
His staff rose up to his free hand so that he could lean on it.
Uh… thanks… the young man said in a rather weak voice.
Masa and Mune’s hands twitched a little, causing a few more cracks to appear in the cliff they were imbedded in.
With that groan they fell forwards and reverted into their non-fused form before they hit the ground, falling down on either side of the sword they had been guarding throughout all the years.
“Br-r-r!” they muttered while shaking their heads to regain the senses.
Still not enough? Crono groaned and tiredly took his weapon in a securer grip.
But Janus straightened up and waved with a hand to signal to his allies that they should wait.
The brothers managed to get to their feet and exchanged glances.
“They beat us, little brother,” Masa concluded with a smile.
“That was fun!” Mune happily said.
He made a small jump of excitement.
“Do you think they’ll fix us?” he asked, “will they find us an owner?”
“Yeah,” Masa nodded with another smile, “it’ll be alright.”
And with that they smiled at the three warriors and melted into the sword in the ground.
As they did so, the illusion faltered and the weapon’s true state was revealed. Where a whole sword had been resting in the ground, only a blade lay. The sun sparkled in the sharp edges as Crono walked over to it and picked it up.
Just a blade? the young man asked, confused.
“It was broken when Flea, Slash and Ozzie killed Cyrus,” Janus grunted while massaging the bridge of his nose, “don’t worry, I’ve got the hilt. We just need to find the man who can fix it.”
“And who might that be?” Robo beeped while walking over to the wizard.
“On the hilt there’s an inscription that says ‘Melchior’,” the blue-hair revealed, “is that familiar to any of you?”
“Isn’t that the name of the weapon smith you, Marle and Lucca told me about, Crono?” Robo wondered.
Crono nodded, walking down from the blade’s resting place with the treasure in a safe grip.
Yes, but… he can’t be the same Melchior, can he? the young man said with a frown, I mean, the Melchior I know lives four hundred years from now.
“I used to know a Melchior as well, many years ago,” Janus grimly said, “what do you think? Is it just coincidence or something else?”
He shook his head at Crono’s sharp gaze.
“I promise, one day I’ll tell you everything,” the wizard continued, “for now we need to get back to the castle. How are your wounds?”
For a moment it looked like Crono was going to ask something, but he pushed it aside and lightly touched his left side.
Could be better, he admitted.
“Allow me,” Robo offered.
The softly yellow light of his “eyes” changed into green by his following words:
“Launching medical system. Loading… done.”
Warmly green light sprayed over the two humans, seeming to melt into their skin and filling them with new energy. The singeing after the lightning bolts subsided and disappeared completely.
“Interesting,” Janus remarked and changed the grip of his staff since he didn’t need to lean on it anymore, “future’s magic, is it?”
“It’s based on infusing energy to the natural healing system of the human body,” Robo gladly informed.
Science is a sort of magic by itself, isn’t it? Crono said with a shake of his head.
Janus slowly nodded.
“Yes, I suppose,” he said, “but I don’t think you should mix them too much, in general.”
‘Wise words…’ Masa muttered within Janus mind.
‘Are you two alright?’ the wizard silently asked.
‘No problem, prince.’
‘That was such a cool attack!’ Mune grinned.
“Hey, allow us to teleport you to the foot of the mountain,” Masa’s voice said aloud.
“Wait, Flea might…”
“… Find my trace,” Janus ended with a sigh, “oh well, thanks.”
“Don’t worry,” Mune grinned, “we made sure that that weirdo couldn’t sense you. Sorry we can’t take you further.”
Crono needed to blink a few times before he could thank the spirits, which Robo already had done by then.
Janus waved at the road towards the distant rooftops of Dorino.
“Come on, we need to get going,” he said.
Can’t you teleport us to the castle? Crono asked and fell into the wizard’s step.
“I’d like to,” Janus sighed and shook his head, “but I can’t risk giving Flea another chance to find my trace. You see, when someone teleport, they…”
The three had walked quite a few yards before Janus had managed to explain the full principle.
“… And I can’t send you two to the castle to save time either,” the wizard ended his rant, “I hid my part of Cyrus’ remains in a magical container that only I can open.”
And that magic you used to defeat the sword guardians? Crono wondered when his first query had received a proper answer, what the heck was that?
“It’s called Dark Matter,” Janus grunted and massaged the bridge of his nose again, “it’s the worst thing I can do, but I try to keep from going that far. It gives me a killing headache.”
‘The darkness doesn’t like you,’ the Prince muttered to him, ‘that’s why. You seem to almost have managed to convert from Shadow to Light.’
‘Light?’ the Pawn and Janus blankly repeated.
‘It’s not possible yet,’ the oldest of them explained, ‘Schala will find the path. Hmm, that’s really strange.’
The Prince mentally “shook his head”.
‘I didn’t think it was possible to change the magic property you’re granted…’ he thoughtfully said, ‘perhaps it’s more based on personality than I thought.’
‘Speaking of which… are you two aware that the blade there is extremely deadly for us?’
‘It is?’ Janus said with a frown.
‘In my timeline it was said that it was the only weapon that could kill me, so Crono and the others turned the Middle ages upside down to find it and get Frog to help them invade my castle,’ the Prince gruffly said, ‘I wouldn’t say it’s the only thing that can harm me, however…’
He seemed to hesitate for a moment before he continued:
‘While I went to retrieve Janatzer’s soul back there I talked to someone about it, and he explained that dreamstone is a Light based material and as you understand Light and Shadow doesn’t mix. And whether you’re changing or not you are still mostly Shadow.’
‘In your timeline it was said that it was dangerous to you?’ the Pawn said with a frown, ‘how could people know that?’
The prince was silent for a moment. Then he shook his head again.
‘I have asked myself that quite a few times… it seemed like common knowledge all of a sudden, and to my chagrin it turned out being true.’
‘You killed Cyrus too?’ Janus asked, unable to hide the bitterness in his voice.
‘Ozzie didn’t order you to do it?’
‘No, he did not.’
‘You killed Cyrus by own will?’
The Prince was silent again. It took a few moments before he spoke.
‘When I met Cyrus and Glenn on that day, Ozzie was with me. I had long since created a spell of protection that should have kept my skin hard as steel and able to absorb all magic except spells from the element I last called upon. It worked with all weapons, all except the Masamune which cut through the magic and dissolved it. It was him or me, but yes. I killed him in cold blood, for I had no feelings left at the point.’
For a while none of the blue-hairs spoke. Finally Janus released a deep breath, slowly.
‘Well…’ he muttered, ‘at least you’re honest.’
‘And trust me, I dearly paid for it all before I came to find the two of you,’ the Prince almost coldly said.
‘I agree, considering what you went through.’
‘That’s nice to hear…’
The Prince’s voice was almost dry and ironical. But just almost. And what was there didn’t sound honest.
“We might be able to find horses in Dorino,” Janus said aloud, “if the Mystics haven’t eaten them…”
“How come the monsters haven’t invaded the southern towns?” Robo asked.
“But there are monsters living in peace with the humans in both Dorino and Porre, and somehow they managed to talk the violent ones into leaving the humans fairly alone. I believe bribing was involved, but that’s better than massacres. There’s not enough soldiers to protect everything, tragically.”
He looked ahead, towards the west north west.
“Besides, Ozzie’s main goal has always been the capital, for should that fall the humans are likely to do the same. The king and queen is there, and our main military.”
So, repairing the Zenan bridge maybe wasn’t a wise step? Crono grimly said.
“No, probably not. Now they can attack and I’m pretty sure they will. But it was necessary or the king would have been completely cut off from his people with the monsters patrolling the beaches…”
‘Wait, they’ve passed the Zenan bridge without battling?!’ the Pawn suddenly said, sharply.
‘It seems so,’ Janus said with a frown.
‘It’s different again!’ the Prince scowled, ‘Crono and the others should have won the battle by taking out the general leading the attack over the bridge…’
‘Oh great…’ the Pawn hissed, ‘what day is it?’
‘It’s the second of October, why?’ Janus sharply asked.
“Is that smoke coming from Dorino?” Robo suddenly beeped in alarm.
Janus’ eyes narrowed as he shadowed his eyes with one hand, his teeth clenching so hard his jaw almost broke.
‘Is that what I think it is?’
‘It is,’ his guardians snarled.
‘I can’t decide what curse to use…’
“It’s not from Dorino, it’s from further ahead!” Janus growled aloud.
The staff’s end hit the ground.
“Flea or not, I’m teleporting! They’ve started an attack against the bridge, get ready for battle!”
Alright! Crono said through clenched teeth.
The light engulfed them and they stumbled out on the plain just about a hundred yards from the bridge’s south end.
The smoke that they had seen in a distance turned out coming from several great bonfires, which eerie shadows danced around while just as eerie creatures streamed over the bridge, pushing at the armored human warriors that tried to hold a stand from the other side.
“What are those fires?” Robo beeped as the three hurried forwards.
“They’re using necromancy to revive the dead warriors to skeletons that fight for the Mystics, we have to take out those magicians or the one leading the attack, otherwise the humans are doomed,” Janus snarled.
But can we handle all those? Crono grimly asked, pointing at the army.
“If we just manage to kill the general they are likely to flee, and by the time we get there most of them will be on the bridge…”
‘That’s funny, in my time stream the necromancy was taken care of out of reach…’ the Prince grunted.
‘Same for me, these differences can be confusing…’ the Pawn agreed.
‘Who’s the general?’ Janus snarled.
‘It was me in my version, but you knew that…’ his teacher muttered.
‘Ozzie for me,’ the Prince said, ‘so it can only be… ah look, I was right.’
“I see…” Janus hoarsely whispered aloud.
Crono and Robo stopped dead in alarm as the royal wizard suddenly slowed down and ceased to move forwards.
What…? the young man began but fell silent as he noticed Janus’ gaze and followed it.
In the light of the fires and the sinking sun a tall monster turned around as he noticed the shadows in the corner of his eye. For a moment time seemed to slow down as the wizard and the monster’s eyes locked in a killing glare.
The dancing light sharply reflected in the staff’s blades as Janus took it in both hands, his eyes as thin as the edges of his weapon. The flames flickered their light over purple skin and flowed the thin Slasher with mirrored fire as it was drawn.
Chapter 6, Wizard vs. Swordsman
“Why, if it isn’t Janus the royal wizard himself!” the general growled, not taking his eyes off the man.
“Your nose doesn’t look like I remember it, Slash,” Janus replied with a wry smirk, “my teacher says hi.”
‘Hah, you’re right,’ the Pawn smirked, ‘seems it didn’t heal properly.’
The Prince just smirked along at the memory of his dreamed reality, where his possibility had crushed Slash’s nose in the escape from the Mystics’ dungeon.
The swordsman’s eyes narrowed in anger by the same memory that amused the three blue-hairs, however. His nose really was pretty deformed after the assault all those years ago, and he wasn’t pleased to be reminded.
But his next line had the same effect on his visible and two invisible foes that Janus’ remark had had on Slash.
“And you have some nerve showing up here, Magus,” the purple-skinned monster coldly sneered.
Janus’ grip of his staff hardened while an almost strangled hiss left his lips and his guardians clenched their teeth in rage.
“Temper, temper, boy…” Slash sneered as Janus’ red eyes flared up with anger.
By now many of the lower monsters had noticed what was going on, and a rather large group of skeletons and other beasts were hesitantly approaching. They had grown up hearing of the royal wizard, and those two beside him didn’t look too weak either.
Crono changed the grip of his sword while Robo beeped something about battle-mode.
Almost simultaneously Janus and Slash held up a hand each, to everyone else’s surprise.
“No, he’s mine,” they both stated.
Half a second later the Slasher cut deep into the staff’s wood, but the sword master managed to tear his blade free and leap away before Janus had time to twist his weapon around for a dangerous loss of sword and a hit.
“Powers of the world, lend me the power of Lightning!”
Since he was in the middle of a rather intense battle with a much quicker foe than usual, Janus had no time to use the staff for concentration; he had to use it to parry Slash’s attacks while he chanted. Therefore his bolts weren’t as perfectly coordinated as usual and his enemy managed to leap out of reach. A handful of skeletons got in the way and got fried however.
“Peace over you memory…” Janus muttered to the now freed human souls and swung at Slash again, who ducked below the staff and shot forwards.
The wizard danced aside and almost lost his balance as one of the purple snakes known as gnashers came in the way from behind.
“You keep out of this!” Slash growled at the monsters and threw out his arm to shoo them away, “take care of his friends!”
Don’t mind us, Janus! Crono shouted and raised his sword to meet the first attacking eagle, you concentrate on Sludge or whatever his name was!
“Slash, you idiot!” the sword master snarled, “by Lizard, is that so hard to remember?”
“Yes indeed!” Janus snarled and rushed at the leading monster.
Slash managed to avoid the attack by leaping backwards.
‘Look out!’ the Pawn and the Prince shouted simultaneously.
But before Janus could jump aside Slash shot forwards again with a wicked grin.
‘To the left!’
The wizard desperately bent on his guardians’ command, but it was too late. The thin sword cut up a deep wound on his right upper arm and he almost dropped the staff.
“And you survive all Flea’s attacks, Magus?” Slash sneered and raised his free hand when Janus with a growl spun around after him, “he needs better raw material…”
A lightning bolt sparkled from the monster’s palm and Janus threw himself backwards to avoid the magic assault.
“My name is Janus!” he snarled, “powers of the world, lend me the power of Water! Na matala sela! And crancha na lishoro!”
The second after the first healing star appeared, an almost transparent tidal wave flowed from the ground around Janus’ feet and stormed towards Slash.
However, the monster simply floated up above the powerful wave and easily avoided it. But his smirk died as Janus with a triumphant shout swung his staff around and turned the tide towards the monsters assaulting Crono and Robo. At least half of the odd thirty monsters were swept away and with screeches fell down the cliffs beside the bridge. Perhaps the fall wouldn’t kill them since the ocean wasn’t that far away, but it would take them quite a while to get back up. Especially those with the bad luck to end up below the goblins.
“Thank you for the assistance!” Robo beeped.
Crono made thumbs up before he had to care for another skeleton.
Janus had no time to reply before Slash was at him again. The Slasher hit the staff once more and the wizard heaved backwards and twisted his grip at the same time. But even though Slash was thrown along, he sneered down at Janus while floating in the air. The wizard glared back, lying on the ground after the miscalculated assault.
“Now that wasn’t smouff!”
Slash’s taunting was killed by Janus’ fist in his stomach.
“Thought I was that dumb and slow, didn’t you?” the wizard smirked and spun to his feet while Slash landed and tried to regain his breath.
Janus didn’t give the monster time to neither recover nor reply before the staff danced in the wizard’s hands and the sword master growled in pain. Dark blood stained deeply purple pants, running down Slash’s chest and stomach. A long cut in the left arm was also managed before the monster managed to leap away.
“Oh, don’t start celebrating yet…” Slash snarled and snapped his fingers.
A big shadow zoomed away from one of the bonfires and a deep, growling voice chanted, out of reach for the wizard. From the big, blue hands of the monster healing stars flowed and covered Slash in a warm light. He sneered and stretched as it faded; his wounds completely healed.
“This will take forever if we keep healing,” Janus dryly pointed out.
“Not quite,” Slash smirked, “I have got at least twenty sorcerers here to heal me, and how long can you keep it up?”
Before the muscular, leg-less monster had time to move aside a massive fireball hit it. With a roar of pain it crashed on the ground and dissolved to nothingness.
“Nineteen,” Janus calmly remarked and turned his flaming hand towards one of the bonfires, “and twelve.”
“Oh no, you don’t!”
Slash rushed at the wizard with a growl, but before the impact Janus had already released the second fireball and the fire that the sorcerers danced around exploded to engulf the closest monsters in the blink of an eye.
Even this attack was parried by the staff, but Janus was starting to sweat by now. He clenched his teeth and lunged forward, nearly managing to force Slash off balance.
‘That healing trick of his must be among the worst they could think of,’ the Prince grimly snarled, ‘you should withdraw.’
‘I can do this, don’t worry,’ Janus growled in his mind, ‘if he’s cheating then so am I.’
‘You’re almost drained, and Robo and Crono are too busy with the monsters to help!’
‘Yes, but I’m not out of tricks… I haven’t told you everything I’ve been taking care of yet.’
‘Why am I suddenly getting a very bad feeling…’
“Give it up, Magus,” Slash sneered, “you’re growing weaker.”
“Call me Magus one more time and I’ll decorate my staff with your ribs!” Janus snarled through clenched teeth.
“I am shivering with fear…”
Janus leaped backwards and closed his eyes, pressing the pointing and middle finger of his right hand against his forehead.
“Lai!” he bellowed, “I need you here, right now!”
“What? Do you expect to be saved?” Slash sneered, motioning at the crowded bridge.
“No, now I expect to be killed,” Janus grunted and opened his eyes while taking the staff in both hands again, “see, if you call for help then I do as well.”
‘Lai who?’ the Prince rather sharply asked.
‘I haven’t been able to teach her telepathy properly so I can only call her aloud like that…’ Janus muttered and leaped forward with the staff spinning in his hands.
‘I’ll explain in a minute…’
Slash ducked and dashed aside, getting around Janus with speed that shouldn’t be possible by the laws of physics. But even that didn’t work when the wizard threw his staff backwards and it got stuck in the ground, catching the Slasher one third of a second before it would have pierced the light shirt, skin and flesh of Janus’ back.
“I give, that was pretty impressive,” Slash nodded and wriggled the Slasher free of the wood.
His unoccupied hand grabbed the staff, tore it out of the ground and sent it flying in a wide bow above the ground and down towards the ocean.
“I can just call it back, you know,” Janus said, turning around.
“No, I don’t know…”
Slash crossed his arms with a smirk.
“In fact,” he said, “Flea once told me that in order to call a weapon to your hand you need eye contact, so to speak.”
Janus threw a glance aside. Crono and Robo had almost cleared up all of the monsters, but it would still take them at least a few minutes before they could lend a hand.
“Oh well, we’re just going to have to do it the old-fashioned way…” he calmly said and took off in an impressive leap backwards, “powers of the world, lend me the power of Lightning!”
Slash dashed aside and ended up just before the bridge with his back turned against it in his task to avoid the new lightning bolts. He got one second of standing still before a female voice was heard from behind him and he had to look over his shoulder.
“Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire!”
Lucca?! Crono shouted, dazzled trying to see past the monsters that still attacked him and his metallic companion.
“Not quite…” Janus said and smiled at Slash as the Mystic danced out of the way for a storm of fireballs.
Past the already faltering remains of the monsters a figure came, leaping on thick shoulders and naked skulls on her way over while her hands sent out storm after storm of fire.
“Janus!” the newbie sharply gasped as she landed in the grass before the bridge’s foundation, “I’m going to kill you, just so you know!”
“Nice to see you too, Lai,” the wizard calmly said before raising his voice, “take out the sorcerers by the fire, I’ll handle Slash!”
Held up in a horsetail a thin flow of red-brown hair, almost with a purple hue, danced over the dark shirt’s back as the thin woman dashed across the grassy field. The new spell she shouted was about to be cut off forever by Slash, but Janus got in between with another storm of lightning bolts.
“I wouldn’t try to kill my disciple with me around, Sludge,” the wizard said with a cold smirk.
‘I’m not hearing this and I’m not seeing it either!’
‘Look, I knew I wouldn’t be around forever,’ Janus merrily pointed out, ‘I couldn’t exactly leave everything for Glenn to handle. She was the only one I could find with a natural ability I could help awaken…’
‘But it’s Lucca’s ancestor, for all the powers!’ the Prince almost groaned, ‘and did she call you “sweetheart”?!’
‘Ah, don’t worry. That’s just a habit of hers.’
‘Thank all the good forces…’
Lai took out four more of the sorcerers, the others fled before the fires they were guarding exploded. Slash growled as he saw his life insurance leave.
“Alright, Magus,” he snarled, “you win today but don’t feel too secure.”
He jumped out of reach before Janus could attempt to crush every bone in his body.
“You, retreat!” the monster roared at the last troops on the bridge, and then held up the Slasher towards the sky, “Flea! Get me out of here!”
A strong light erupted from the grass around his feet and engulfed the purple monster. It flashed and was gone, together with Slash.
The immediate reaction from what was left of the army was that they more or less blindly followed their general’s orders upon his leave. The human soldiers stood thunderstruck as their bloodthirsty foes suddenly turned and jumped off the bridge into the ocean below, screaming and screeching among each other. Some just ran to the other side of the bridge and stumbled past Janus, staring at him in angered terror. He let them pass. They were filled up with hate, but too afraid to attack the man who had driven their leader to escape.
Nice going, Crono commented as he sheathed his sword while walking over to the wizard.
“You put up a great fight as well,” the wizard said with a rather tired smile, “after all I was just handling one of them.”
Janus turned around and sternly met Lai’s killing glare.
Her clothing was rather simple, a dark-blue shirt and a pair of brown pants, not at all dressed like a lady. She wore no accessories apart from a small collection of throwing daggers in her leather belt. One couldn’t claim that she was beautiful, but she had some kind of perky prettiness.
The wizard held up his hands.
“I know, I know,” he patiently said, “I shouldn’t have left without telling you, neither attacked Slash like that. Anything else?”
“You know, I really, really hate you when you do that,” Lai snapped.
She suddenly held a small but very sharp dagger between her thumb and pointing finger.
“Give me one reason, quickly, to why I shouldn’t give you a matching scar.”
‘I don’t believe this…’ the Prince grunted.
“Because I’m sorry and I haven’t got time to thank you for helping me out yet?” Janus said aloud.
Lai slowly let out a deep breath and put the dagger back in her belt.
“Fine…” she grunted, “for now.”
She sighed a bit and straightened up.
“And who’s with you?” she asked.
“Crono and Robo,” Janus said with a small smile, “this is Leila. But you better call her Lai or she’ll peel you alive.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Robo politely beeped.
Crono shook Lai’s hand but had no chance to speak before she cut in:
“We haven’t got time for this now. Janus, there are hundreds of wounded and we need you at the castle right away.”
“I see. Let me just get my staff.”
And the royal wizard of Guardia walked over to the cliffs and looked down, after a moment holding out his hand. A dripping and badly cut but at least retrieved weapon came to his grip and the group of four began crossing the bridge they had helped protect, towards the capital of the human civilization.
Chapter 7, Call of the black wind
“Twandor shana weta, forteya na tera Schala.”
For your reading pleasure I shall translate that. What the royal wizard used as a password was Zealan for (in proper English) “Open up, protective seal, so says the brother of Schala”.
Janus hand ran down the wall of his room as he muttered in a low voice. As the last word echoed away one of the stones magically melted before his fingers and the bent hilt of a sword laid in the hole left after it. Janus took it out and handed it to Crono.
“Bring it to Melchior and come back here once he’s repaired it,” the wizard said and shook his head before the question could be spoken, “I need to stay here and take care of the wounded for now.”
And are we going into the Mystics’ lair then? the young man said, hardly able to contain his triumphant grin.
“Yes, but we need Frog for it, he’s the one meant to wield that sword as I understand,” Janus grimly said, “it’ll be dangerous, but you already know that.”
Crono grimly nodded.
I don’t want to bring Marle on this one, it’s too dangerous, he muttered, I’ll come back alone so you, me and Frog can go.
“But she won’t be happy about it,” Robo concernedly beeped.
I know, but this is different, Crono resolutely stated, we’re going to try assassinate someone who’s got an army standing between them and us. We’ll be back soon, Janus.
The wizard nodded and watched his guests leave. Slowly he crossed his arms at the closed door.
“I’ll be down in a minute, Lai,” he calmly said.
There was a very deep sigh to be heard from the corridor and leaving footsteps.
Janus shook his head and turned to his desk, pulling out one of the boxes. His hands grabbed a warmly yellow bottle and a moment later he emptied it with a grimace. To keep standing with the help of potions wasn’t something he approved to, but he had used up a lot of power and had to start healing a lot of soldiers. Including the king, as well.
His hand nearly crushed the bottle by the thought.
‘In the long run you managed to do more when you left,’ one of the voices in his head calmly said.
Janus’ eyebrows went up.
‘You surprise me,’ he said with a small smile.
‘I think you need a good hit across the head, but I don’t like the Mystics either,’ the Prince replied.
He even gave a short laugh.
‘Actually, I can’t wait to see you fight Flea after that battle with Slash.’
‘Is that a compliment?’
‘I suppose, but don’t get too full of yourself.’
‘Speaking of nothing, I think you should watch it with Lai,’ the Pawn cut in with a tiny frown.
Janus sighed aloud and nodded.
‘I know,’ he muttered, ‘I made it clear that I won’t stay, but still…’
‘Let me just say this,’ the Prince grunted, ‘she’s less creepy than a certain empress you’ll have to know later on, but I still don’t think letting it get out of hand would be a bright idea.’
‘Less creepy?’ Janus and the Pawn said with raised eyebrows.
‘Just trust me on this…’
The Prince very heavily sighed.
‘Still…’ he reluctantly muttered, ‘she did help me when I fought against Lavos before coming to get you two. Heh.’
He massaged the bridge of his nose rather furiously for a moment.
‘By the powers, I can’t believe I really did sign up on working for her despite that… ugh.’
‘My next assignment then?’ Janus said with a small, slightly bitter smirk.
‘Oh no, no, no. No, absolutely not,’ the Prince said with a lot of force behind his words, ‘you are going to stay clear of Lashey, do I make myself clear? Less I’ll have to come and cut you in half.’
‘What, do you think there’s something with me and women?’ Janus sneered.
‘This one in particular…’
‘You better get going now,’ the Pawn pointed out, not unkindly.
Janus put the empty bottle marked with “Full ether” on the desk and clenched his teeth as he left his room, mentally preparing himself for several hours of chanting and manually taking care of wounded when his magic would be drained again.
He stopped walking for a moment and pressed two fingers against his forehead, closing his eyes and searching for a mental link… there.
‘Can you hear me, Marle, Frog?’ he silently called.
‘What was that?’ the blond princess’ voice exclaimed, completely startled.
‘Evening, Janus,’ Frog grunted, not too surprised despite that he hadn’t heard his friend’s voice in his head before.
‘We’ve got the blade of the Masamune,’ the wizard calmly reported, ‘Crono and Robo went to get it mended. We’ll be down to you by tomorrow evening or the day later. Is that fine with you?’
‘I don’t mind, it’s up to Frog,’ Marle managed, swallowing her surprise.
It took a moment before the amphibian answered.
‘Very well,’ he muttered, ‘Marle is welcome to stay here for the night, but I will not be fighting.’
‘We’ll just see about that,’ Janus emotionlessly said and cut the mental link.
He began walking down the halls again, in his own and shared thoughts.
‘Just wish I could do that with Lai, but her magic abilities aren’t strong enough for her to handle it,’ he muttered in his mind, ‘it took me months to coax what she’s got to the surface. Still, she and Frog are the only ones in this time who are ready for it.’
‘So I’ve noted,’ the Pawn nodded.
‘You could make something for her with a hair of yours,’ the Prince reluctantly said, ‘I noticed that can establish a mental link as well.’
‘Thanks for the tip…’
“Janus, thank God you’re here!” a nurse called, grabbed his arm and hurriedly dragged him down the corridor into the hospital wing, “just do what you can here and then tend to the king, alright?”
He almost lost his balance completely of sheer surprise; so deeply within his own thoughts that he hadn’t seen the woman in white coming.
Now he stood on the balcony above the healing quarters, and his hand came to his forehead.
Rewind and erase that “several hours”. He’d be lucky if he got any sleep at all the coming night. Lai hadn’t been lying when she said “hundreds of wounded”. The battle to hold the Zenan bridge had been a very bloody one.
‘I should have been here, damn it all…’
‘No, your duty was to find the blade,’ the Prince sharply said, ‘now stop altering the past and get to work.’
Many looked up in relief as they heard the familiar chanting. Standing on the stair down to the bed area with his eyes closed, Janus stretched out his arms in either direction while calling upon the healing powers of Water. From his palms glistening stars stormed, spreading over the room like a divine rain. For the first time that night.
“… Sela… ugh…”
“For heaven’s sake, get some sleep, Janus,” Leene concernedly said, “how long have you been up now?”
“Since yesterday,” he grunted and pinched the bridge of his nose, “it is Thursday now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, since four hours,” the queen said and shook her head, “you’ve done enough for yesterday and today.”
“I agree,” her husband said after coughing to clear his throat, “I’ll be fine now, so I command you to rest.”
The wizard tried to smile a bit.
“Yes, my liege.”
When he attempted to leave the room he stumbled, but one of the servants attending the wounded king hurriedly gave the wizard support to the door and into the corridor. The two men got about ten steps before a familiar voice resolutely informed that she’d handle the workaholic. Rather relived that he didn’t have to support the wizard all the way to his room the servant handed the heavy arm to one of the most respected women of the land.
“Morning, Lai,” Janus grunted.
“Just shut up, sweetheart.”
‘Quit smirking at the look on my face,’ the Prince grunted.
‘But it’s almost better than Lavos’ look as he finally died,’ the Pawn said with a chuckle.
Janus was too exhausted to even sneer.
Lai eventually kicked the door to his room open and helped him over to the bed, were he literally crashed. But even so, she didn’t leave him like that.
She sat down on his bedside, glaring at him through her own fatigue.
“I heard you talk with Crono and Robo,” she poisonously said, “are you going to attack the Mystics’ lair, alone?”
“Can we take this when we’re both less dying of exhaust?” Janus grunted without opening his eyes.
“No, because I’m afraid that you’ll be gone again when I wake up,” she coldly replied.
Janus’ eyelids reluctantly went up and he met his bitter disciple’s eyes. After a moment she looked away, crossing her arms.
“You might get killed,” she pointed out, “I won’t be able to come over and save your neck when you’re that far away.”
“I’ll be fine, others will be with me,” Janus muttered, “you don’t have to worry.”
Somehow he managed to sit up and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Lai, I always told you I wouldn’t be around forever. I have to save my sister and defeat Lavos, you know that.”
“I don’t have to like it just because I know!” she snapped, but didn’t push his hand away.
Janus tiredly shook his head.
“I trust you to help Frog protect the kingdom when I’ve left,” he said, “why do you think I told you everything? You’re the only one who knows the full story, and the only one who knows that I will leave here.”
“I won’t be gone forever.”
“You better not…” Lai finally muttered.
She looked around and reached out to gently push him back down.
“Get some sleep now, or you definitely won’t stand a chance, sweetheart,” she said with choked resentment.
“Alright, but I won’t sneak away again…” Janus mumbled and closed his eyes again.
“Why did you, anyway?” she asked, sharp again.
“I trust you to protect the kingdom, you know…”
And with that the royal wizard fell asleep. Lai glared at him for a moment longer.
“I hate you,” she finally stated to thin air and slammed her fist into the mattress, “I hate to know…”
‘Oh great…’ the Prince muttered under his breath, sighing deeply.
Not sarcastically, but with reluctant empathy. Many things he denied caring about, but loss he understood. And the Pawn understood, not saying anything.
It was too late to let it get out of hand, at least in the young woman’s view.
“I hate you Janus…” she muttered again, not aware that two spirits watched her as she bent down over her teacher.
The wizard’s sleep was too deep; he didn’t feel the light kiss.
“But I can’t help that I love you, still.”
Lai’s hands clenched on Janus’ shoulders and she collapsed beside him, completely out of strength after the intense hours of fighting and handling wounded. Bitter tears fell into the pillow just beside the wizard’s head, but the woman was too tired to care about such a disgrace. And also too tired to even attempt moving away. She fell asleep right there by her hated and loved instructor.
The royal wizard awoke to find someone sleeping with one arm lazily lying across his chest. With a sigh he moved up his hand to his forehead.
‘She kissed me, didn’t she?’ he grunted.
‘So she did,’ his old teacher nodded with a stitch of understanding sadness.
There was a knock on the door, causing Lai to frown a bit as she woke up. Janus’ hand shot down and gently covered her mouth to prevent that she might give away where she had been sleeping. Two deeply grey eyes with a hue of blue shot open in shock and stared into the two red ones.
“Shh,” Janus whispered and turned to the door, raising his voice to a call, “yes, what is it?”
“Sir Crono has returned, sir,” another male voice replied on the other side of the wood, “he’s waiting in the throne room.”
“Tell him I’ll be down in a minute, I just woke up.”
“I’ll do that, sir.”
Both Janus and Lai relaxed as the sound of leaving footsteps crept through the door. He removed his hand and gave her a wry, joyless smile.
“Sorry,” she sourly muttered.
“No, it’s alright. It’s me who should apologize.”
“Quite right. Get started,” Lai calmly agreed.
Janus shook his head with another wry smile at her simple reply. His student wasn’t known for being gentle, neither forgiving for that matter…
‘But the thing is,’ the wizard thought to his guardians, ‘whatever I might say she can tell me in a much better or worse way.’
‘I hear people tend to just prefer the truth,’ the Pawn calmly said.
Janus reached up and pulled out a hair from his head, followed by one from Lai’s. Her eyebrows merely twitched at the quick little pain.
“I’m sorry, Lai,” the royal wizard said, holding the two threads between thumb and pointing finger, “it’s just not meant to be.”
He made a little twitch with his wrist and the hairs glistened for a second before disappearing into the depths of his hand. Biting her tongue to hold back any sign of emotion Lai slowly offered her palm.
“I have a bad feeling about you leaving today,” she muttered as a small, hard item got caught between the two humans’ hands.
“I’ll be careful.”
“Famous last words.”
Janus sat up and gently pushed/carried Lai with him to the placement on the bedside.
“But Crono and the others made it in my teacher’s time stream,” he said, “so I don’t think there should be a problem.”
“Except for getting Frog into battle after his so called blunder with the queen’s disappearance,” Lai dryly said.
“That’ll probably be the worst part, yes.”
Now that could be famous last words, don’t you agree?
“Well, good luck then,” the woman muttered, “and you better keep your promise to return.”
“I promise,” Janus said and squeezed her shoulders before standing up and reaching out a hand.
The staff leaped from it’s leaning against the wall into its owner’s hand. With a sigh the wizard eyed its worn state after yesterday’s battle.
Smirking dryly he once again chanted the spell of healing, repairing his weapon before glancing over his shoulder to look at Lai one last time before leaving. She sternly glared back but softened her grim look a bit as he tried to smile a little.
“Good luck yourself,” he said and left the room.
Lai listened to his footsteps leaving and waited until they couldn’t be heard anymore before she unclenched her fist and watched his parting gift. It almost brought tears to her eyes.
He knew she didn’t use any jewelry and didn’t care for knickknacks. And still, it was a small red gem shaped like a flame, not much bigger than her thumb nail. A fine silver chain was embedded in it, long enough to hang around her neck.
He of all people understood that even though she didn’t act much like a lady did not automatically mean that she wouldn’t appreciate being treated like one once in a while.
“You big blue-haired moron.”
The precious stone seemed to softly buzz against her skin, and it felt pleasantly warm. No, no… Janus never gave anything away that wasn’t useful. Lai almost smiled as she hung the chain in place and the flames waiting in her mind flashed up in delight at the extra power supply.
And then she left the room, carefully closing the door with tightly shut eyes.
He’d be back, but as she thought about the quest Janus was set on something within Lai twitched in terror.
‘He’ll be fine, nobody has ever been able to defeat him in battle… but it sure has been close a few times…’
Lai shook her head and tried to push the thoughts away.
Just as she began walking up the corridor towards her own room, a soldier found the royal wizard standing still in the stair leading to the throne room.
Janus was pressing one hand against the wall, leaning on it while his feet were placed on one step of the stair each. It looked almost as he had turned into a statue in the middle of a step. Red eyes locked on nothing beneath an uncharacteristically violent frown.
“Is anything the matter, sir?” the soldier nervously asked, concerned over the troubled look on the wizard’s face.
Janus blinked and looked down the stair at the man.
“No… it’s nothing,” he muttered, “excuse me.”
“Certainly,” the soldier said and stepped out of the way for the wizard, who absentmindedly nodded a thanks as he walked past.
‘This is not good…’ he grimly thought.
‘It might be about the Mystics’ future, though I’m not so sure about that,’ the Prince gravely muttered, ‘and they’re not supposed to attack during your quest to kill the leaders so it shouldn’t concern the humans.’
‘Did it speak to you when Frog and the others came?’ the Pawn asked with a frown, ‘I don’t remember clearly how that was with me.’
‘Yes it did,’ the oldest one said, ‘but only when they broke into my chamber. I can’t tell who it is about, it’s too vague. Can you?’
‘No. Typical…’ the royal wizard grimly commented and continued towards the throne room.
The black wind whispered warnings of defeat and suffering for each step he took.
Chapter 8, Painful twist
“We’re almost there, hang on for a while longer,” Janus said over his shoulder.
Great, just when I was starting to get used to it… Crono grunted, hanging onto his horse the best he could.
“At least I was right about the monsters being calm for the moment.”
Crono nodded. He hadn’t ever been riding before and gotten a quick lesson back at the castle before he and Janus left on a horse each, bringing one extra with them for Frog. The Masamune was safely held in place on Crono’s back, resting in a simple sheath that Melchior had had to spare for it.
Because of Janus’ guess that the Mystics would need time to recover after the failed attack at the Zenan bridge, they had decided to move out as quickly as possible not to waste this possible weakness. During the trip southeast Crono had silently wished for a little more practice in handling the art of traveling on the back of a horse, though.
But as the wizard said, at least they hadn’t been attacked. All seemed uncharacteristically peaceful.
‘Just makes me more worried…’ Janus grimly thought.
‘Indeed,’ his teacher muttered.
Pain, shame, defeat, sacrifice, pain… beware, prince! Beware…
All three of the blue-hairs clenched their jaws. The black wind had been howling throughout the entire journey, from the moment the wizard walked down the stair of the castle.
‘I have a feeling this could get ugly…’ the youngest thought.
‘Yes, but it shouldn’t,’ the Prince said with a frown, ‘in our time streams there were no greater troubles beating Ozzie, Flea and Slash…’
Janus? Crono nearly shouted.
The wizard looked around again.
“Sorry, I was in my own thoughts,” he said, “you were saying?”
Well, I was wondering about yesterday… Crono carefully said.
“What about it?”
Um, well… why did Slash call you Magus all the time? It seemed to make you quite angry.
Janus looked forwards for a moment before turning his head once more.
“That’s simply something between me and the Mystics,” he calmly said, “many years ago, when I was still a child I got captured by them and they wanted to enslave me, but I was saved by a man that also taught me magic.”
You were? Who then?
“He’s not here anymore. He saved me, brought me to the castle and gave me a few lessons in my powers. Then he left. And there’s the cursed woods now.”
Crono caught the message and didn’t ask anything more. About twenty minutes later the two men reached the brink of the forest and tied the three horses to a tree. Janus cast a protecting spell to keep possible monsters away, then the warriors went into the forest.
Janus walked a few steps before he realized that that was the last thing that the black wind had said.
‘Strange…’ he commented the silence.
‘Very,’ the Prince agreed, ‘but we better stay alert.’
Soon they reached the clearing in the middle of the small forest, crossed it and worked their way past the small bush hiding Frog’s entrance “door”.
“Hey, nice to see you!” Marle called and stood up from the chair she had been sitting on.
“Good afternoon,” Frog merely muttered, remaining on his seat.
“And the same to you,” Janus said, holding back a sigh.
We’ve got the Masamune, Crono announced.
Now that startled Frog.
“What?!” he croaked and finally leaped off his chair.
Apparently he hadn’t really believed what Janus had told him earlier.
Crono reached the floor and freed the blade from his back.
“We need your help now,” Janus grimly said, “you are our only master of two-handed swords.”
After a moment of staring at the blade Frog shook his head.
“Nay,” he bitterly said, “I canst not help thee. I failed to protect the queen, and besides that I cannot dream of wielding the weapon belonging to Cyrus.”
“He’d want you to keep fighting when he couldn’t and you know that,” Janus said, keeping his voice calm.
“I cannot fight, not after my failing,” Frog sternly said.
We could really use your help! Crono tried, we wouldn’t have been able to save the queen at all if we hadn’t worked together.
“Yes,” Janus nodded, “and now we need to strike the Mystics, while they’re still vulnerable. Don’t you see?”
“I see that thou dost not need me,” Frog said in a poisonous voice, crossing his arms and staring at the wall, “please be on thy way.”
“Glenn, get a grip of yourself!” Janus sharply said.
Frog looked away.
“We need to kill Flea in order to reverse your curse, don’t you want to help with that?”
“Frog, please listen…” Marle helplessly said after a moment of hesitation.
“I canst not…”
But before any of them could continue, there suddenly was a ritsching sound from above and sunlight flowed through the hole in the roof since the bush had been torn away.
“Janus, come out and fight!” a sharp, screeching voice shouted.
“For heaven’s sake, I’ve had my assassin for this month!” the wizard shouted back, frustrated.
‘It’s the grasshopper again,’ the Pawn sighed.
“One moment,” Janus grunted to his friends, ran over to the ladder up and jumped.
He dashed out of the hole with his staff in hand and glared at the waiting mantis.
“I haven’t got time for this, so make it quick!” the wizard coldly said.
The mantis attacked. Janus parried and countered.
Marle, Crono and Frog climbed out of the hole to watch the combatants dance around in the clearing, almost too fast for the eye to catch.
“See there,” Frog bitterly said, “with Janus by thy side, what dost thee need me for?”
“Glenn, will you stop being so stubborn?!” the wizard shouted and ducked at the same time as he sent out his staff in a wide swing with one hand and arm.
“I hath no right to battle after what I hath done!”
“It wasn’t your fault! No one’s perfect!”
“Nay!” Frog shouted while the wizard leaped out of the way for a thick, sticky thread from his foe’s mouth.
“Now you list… gh!”
Defeat, shame… beware…
Janus stumbled aside, for him it could pass as very clumsy. Still he avoided the monster’s blades, even though it was close this time.
“What is it?!” the three watchers called, nearly simultaneously.
Janus leaped aside, pressing one hand against his forehead.
“The black wind howls…” he grunted and ducked again.
“The what?” Marle asked, blankly.
“It doesn’t matter…”
Janus shook his head to clear it after the violent slam of bad omens. It had returned so suddenly that he nearly had lost his orientation for a moment. Now he straightened up and glared at the mantis, ready for battle again. There was no time to be confused or worried.
“The only thing that matters is that we’re going to need you whatever you may think, Glenn!” Janus snarled and attacked.
The mantis ducked out of the way of the staff.
“Nay!” Frog stubbornly stated, “’tis nary a thing I can do!”
Janus’ eyes narrowed.
‘Oh no, you’re not going to…?!’ the Prince shouted.
“Very well, I guess I’ll just have to do something melodramatical to talk you into it!” the wizard snarled.
The staff left his hand and disappeared somewhere among the trees and bushes.
‘Stop!’ the Pawn roared.
But there was no reply.
“What are you doing?!” Marle, Crono and Frog shouted in surprised shock.
Janus pursed his mouth and crossed his wrists, holding them up for the perplexed mantis.
“I give up,” the wizard calmly said, “take me to Ozzie.”
“Wha!?” the humans screeched.
But the mantis awoke from the surprise quickly and not being one to question that offer spat out another thick string that snaked itself around Janus’ wrists in the blink of an eye. And just as fast another one for his ankles. The wizard swayed, but before he had time to fall the monster’s claw feet dug into his upper arms and they both zoomed up above the treetops.
The three left on the ground ran a few steps forward, forgetting that their friend and foe was completely out of reach.
“Now what, Glenn?!” Janus shouted through a violent grimace of pain.
Before there was time for any more talking the mantis had turned to the northeast and bolted away above the forest.
Very few heard the smacks as the Pawn and the Prince nearly caved their own heads in when slapping their foreheads.
For a moment Crono, Marle and Frog stood frozen in shock, their jaws dropped. Then:
Frog dived down his entrance hole and returned a few moments later with the Masamune by his belt.
“I take it you’re coming…?” Marle said in a rather weak voice.
“Indeed,” Frog snarled, “for I shalt kill him for that!”
‘Not if I kill him before that!’ the Prince snarled as the two spirits dashed after their mirror.
‘Oh no, you don’t!’ the Pawn growled, ‘as his teacher I’ve got the right to do it first!’
'Let's team up with Frog and do it...'
The two guardians clenched their teeth and doubled their speed to reach the flying two. The beast was insanely fast.
'Are you crazy!?' the Pawn shouted as they reached Janus again, 'I should...'
'It was you who said that we really needed Glenn,' the wizard countered, still grimacing over his bleeding arms.
Healing himself with the mantis' claws still within his flesh wouldn't be a good idea...
'Not this badly!'
'It would have taken hours to convince him, if we'd ever manage. I'll be fine.'
'Oh really? I saved you from this, you full-fledged idiot!'
'Too late now, isn't it?'
The two warlocks exchanged glances and groaned, shaking their heads.
And the mantis flew on, towards the lair of the Mystics.