Chapter 1: The Fall
The red light...the burning sensation...the pain...
It wasn't always like this. In fact, up to a few days ago, everything was perfect. Zeal was the only haven from the nightmares that plagued the earth, from the frozen wasteland that awaited on the land below.
The people were too foolish and vain to understand what they were tampering with. Lavos was NOT something to be taken lightly, and yet they used it like it was an endless supply of power. Now they're paying the price. Now they'll suffer.
The fools loved the queen, and worshiped her children. Only a handful did not, and they were quickly disposed of. However, there was one that got away, but I'll talk about that later.
Eventually, the queen's greed led to her demise, as well as the rest of Zeal. She tried to drain too much out of Lavos, and eventually, it struck back. The queen's beloved Ocean Palace was forever taken over. Her armies were laid to waste. But the worst fate of all was to those that dwelled on Zeal itself.
Lavos's power ruined the entire continent, killing nearly all of the citizens. A few survived the plunge and dwelled on the mainland, which finally began to calm after many millenia of death. However, some weren't as lucky as the previous two groups. Lavos himself claimed them as his own.
When Lavos creates his spawn, he takes individuals from whatever planet he is currently residing on. He then uses his powers to mutate them into his monstrous creations, then sends them out to further aid the destruction of the planet.
However, like I said before, one person was not killed for disliking the queen; a young boy. He himself was absorbed into Lavos to become a spawn. However, I can sense that his fate will not be so.
He might be the last hope this world has.
Chapter 2: Unnatural Evolution
Dion heard that one name repeated over and over in his mind as he fell deeper into the darkness. He could feel something slithering over him, covering him in a strange warm goo. It was beginning. He was becoming a part of Lavos.
He struggled against the force of the creature, but it was no use. Lavos had complete dominion over all; what's to stop him from assimilating a mere child? Dion's fate was unquestionable; he was going to die.
Already, he could feel a change in his body. His senses seemed to become more acute; his body lighter; the darkness paler. He was being called back, even as he was dying. Fate has a sense of humor, all right.
Dion continued to struggle, but it was already too late. Nothing could save him now. No miracle or magic was powerful enough.
Then he felt something. Lavos' body seemed to be shuddering in complete pain. The goo from before began to vanish, and Dion felt his body being lifted up. The darkness was soon replaced by a bright sequence of lights. He felt himself falling backwards, as if someone had pushed him off of a rooftop.
His surroundings began to twirl and dance around him. He began to feel nauseous and light-headed. Soon, he collapsed into unconciousness.
Chapter 3: Unholy Gifts
Dion awoke to find himself in a cold, stone room. The walls were practically gone, with only a few moss-covered stones to mark their former presence. A small doorway led into what was probably once a dining room, but was now home to dozens of rats and snakes. A thick mist surrounded everything, and only a few rays of sunlight broke through to light the bleak horizon.
He rose up, only to find something very odd about his body. His movement seemed to be a bit more stiff, yet at the same time stronger. Also, everything seemed to be a lot smaller than he thought it would be.
Then he looked down at himself. And realized that he was no longer a child. Lavos must have somehow made him age quicker, for now he was a full-grown adult! Fortunately, he was still wearing something; he was always pretty shy.
Curious as to where he was, he stepped into the room before him. However, his foot slipped, and he fell down a few steps onto the rotting stone floor. The whole incident caused him to cut his shoulder on some glass at the bottom.
When he got up, and examined the wound, he was completely startled by what he saw. Instead of blood, a black-yellow-green liquid seemed to ooze out of the wound. When he touched it to get a better feel of it, the wound instantly closed back up, as if by its own free will.
Shocked, he moved deeper into the room. He found that his movement was rapidly increasing in speed, as if his muscles were much more powerful than they were when he first awakened. It was like his whole body was healed.
When he reached the other side, he spied some equipment stashed in a corner; namely, an old backpack, a map, and a sword. With no other choice, he gathered the equipment, noting how light it all felt.
He sat in the corner where his gear was and thought about what had happened. Lavos had done SOMETHING to him. The problem was learning how much had been done.
With those thoughts, he feel asleep.
Chapter 4: The Elements
Dion awoke the next morning, or what passed for it. The fog was still deeper than anything he had ever seen before. The ground was covered in a deep dew, and the sound of insects filled the air.
It was nothing at all like home.
Gathering his equipment, Dion moved further into the castle. Finding a staircase, he descended into the very dungeons of the old castle. The deeper he went, the more deterioirated the old place became.
The stone walls were covered in dust, mold, and cobwebs. Spiders, insects, and rats scurried to and fro on the ground and wall. Strangely, a few torches were lying in a bucket of old oil, which was next to a set of flint and steel.
Dion grabbed a torch and lit it using his equipment. It burst into flames almost immediately, illuminating the entire area around him. It was almost better of dark; everything just looked and smelt like death and decay.
Suddenly, a voice seemed to talk out of nowhere.
"Dion...can you hear me?"
Dion looked around the entire area. He saw no one. Then he looked at the burning torch.
A face has appeared in the smoke.
"Do not fear me, Dion," said the smoke. "I am a Fire Elemental."
"A...fire elemental?" asked Dion. "I've heard of those, but nobody's ever seen one."
"Yes, that is true. Only those with an incredible level of power or control over the elements can see us. And we are only the most minor: us Fire Elementals, the Water Elementals, the Wind Elementals, and the Earth Elementals. Your ability to talk to us confirms our suspicions; you are indeed a Lavos Spawn."
Dion was still in shock. "What do you mean?"
"When Lavos was destroyed, you were still being infused with the powers of a Spawn. You were thrown through time to this age, with you being transformed into an adult in the process. Your powers still require growth, but one day, you'll have full control over them."
Suddenly, the torch went out, and the elemental dissapeared. Dion dropped the torch and walked back up the stairs.
Chapter 5: The City
Deciding that staying here would get him nowhere, Dion prepared to find some way of leaving the forsaken castle. However, this castle actually turned out to be on a tiny island with no vegetation, and the only possible escape was through a small boat he had found tied to a dock.
Dion gave the castle one last search. He found what he was looking for; a bag contained some navigational equipment. Inside was a bronze compass, a map leading to a port city called "Porre", and enough dried rations to last for at least five days. With no other knowledge of where he was, Dion decided that he had no choice but to sail for Porre.
The winds were on his side, for it only took three days to reach the city of Porre. The entire metropolis had the look of an iron fortress; the docks and streets were awash in soldiers wearing blackened chainmail, with a strange emblem of a sword-impaled skull. The people themselves were moving to and fro, almost as if their very being was the same, day by day.
Dion pulled the boat into the dock, but failed to notice the guard approaching him. "And what the hell do you think you're doing?" he asked. Dion didn't answer, but the guard wasn't waiting for one; he had already spied the sword hanging from Dion's side.
"No weapons are allowed!" said the guard, his very voice sending shivers down Dion's spine. "Or are you just some punk kid, with no respect for the law?"
The guard then unbuckled a mace and swung it straight down at Dion. However, the Half-Spawn, much to his amazement as well as the guards, was able to dodge it with absolutely no difficulty. The guard was so shocked that he let the weight of the mace send him toppling into the water.
Dion began to walk away, but the sound of the guard thrashing in the water began to call him back. Almost immediately, some strange kind of sense began to fill his mind. He could tell that saving this man's life might actually be beneficial later on. Spurred on by this strange kind of control, Dion reluctantly grabbed the man's arm and dragged him onto the shore.
The guard gasped for air breathly, then rose to his feet and ran off. Dion began to curse this change of events; any minute now, more of those idiots would be pouncing on him. He just hoped that this wasn't the wrong thing to do.
Then he felt a heavy hand fall onto his shoulder. "That is quite some skill you have, child," said a quivering, aged voice. Dion turned to see a strange man wearing a brown robe and hood that completelty covered his face. "It will be useful in the battles to come."
He handed Dion a small medallion. It was a golden depiction of an eagle carrying a sword. "This is the sign of the Iron Brotherhood," said the man. "Show it at our hideout outside of town. We will help you then."
Dion looked down at the medallion again. When he rose his head to ask a question, the man had dissapeared.
Chapter 6: The Attack
Dion found the city itself to be like some kind of twisted nightmare brought into reality. The streets were filled with beggars, con men, thieves, and several more armed soldiers that paid only a suspicious glance to the stranger in their midst. In fact, Dion was so repulsed by what he saw that he didn't notice the small band of thieves sneaking up from behind.
"Hand over the goods, kid," said one, in a cracked voice, "or be prepared for death." Dion, however, continued walking, completely ignoring the men. Enraged by this, another one grabbed him from behind and held a knife to his back.
"We warned you nicely, stranger," said the knife wielder, "but you didn't listen. I hope you'll enjoy your stay in hell." Dion could actually hear the others unsheathing daggers and short swords.
The knife wielder's snicker got louder and louder in Dion's ear, until he could stand it no longer. He delivered an elbow to the knife wielder's gut, sending him crippling down in pain. The others charged forward to aid their companion, but soon their focus shifted to killing Dion.
"You fucking fool!" shouted one. "Nobody harms one of us and gets away with it!" They all descended upon him at the same moment, weapons raised to strike him down.
Dion drew his sword and met their attacks. He parried a blow from the side, tripped another from the opposite angle, and finally ducked under a poorly-aimed swipe. The one that attacked from the side prepared to deliver a stab, but fell short of the mark, causing him to get in the way of another's attack.
The man fell to the ground, his heart pierced.
One of them threw his dagger at Dion, but to his amazement, he caught it in mid-air. In a split-second, the weapon was twirling back at its original owner, imbedding itself deep into his neck.
The last remaining thief left prepared to run for his life, but at this point, Dion would have no part of that. He charged forward, easily outpaccing the poor fool, and grabbed him by the head. Feeling absolutely no remorse for what had happened, he drove the head straight into a nearby wall, crushing it flat.
Realizing that he would have to leave quickly, Dion took the time to empty the men's pockets of their ill-gotten goods before fleeing the scene.
The old man drew away from the carnage he had just witnessed. "The boy took out some of Lord Shadow's best thugs. I'd love to see how he handles the madman's army."
He was out of there before the soldiers could even show up.
Chapter 7: The Merchant
Dion found the town market to possess even more scum than the alleys and streets. Peddlars and crooked merchants filled the area, each trying to sell some kind of useless junk. A few tried to sell something to Dion, but when they saw the bit of blood that leaked from his hands, they quickly backed away.
He decided to leave that place, but soon saw something that caught his eye. A strange man in a purple cloak and hood sat in a corner, with several bowls and containers of what appeared to be spell compenents in front of him. Strangely, he was drawn to investigate this.
"Hello, young traveller," said the man, his voice haunty and remote. "You look like a practiciner of the arts. Might I interest you in something?"
"I have no need for garbage," said Dion, "but if you can show me something I might actually use, then I'll buy from you."
"Very well. Stranger, many years ago, I was walking in the great woods outside of town when I found some strange seeds. They proved to be quite useful in the practice of magic, as they do not drain from the power of whoever eats one." The man pulled out a small bag from beneath his cloak. He opened it, revealing five small seeds.
Dion picked up one of the seeds. Its texture was completely smooth, without so much as a crease or hint of wetness. The seed itself felt soft, yet strong. The man's story was true. These were Lurma Seeds, used often by Zeal's Royal Family. It was amazing that such a thing could be found here, but that was the last thing on Dion's mind. "How much?"
The man, however, had already dissapeared, along with all of his wares, save for the seeds that were still in the bag. Dion replaced the seed he had taken out, grabbed the back, and left the market.
Already, the guards were hauling off the dead bodies. The merchant and the old man watched in fascination at their work.
"Do you really think he can help?" asked the merchant.
"Aye," said the old man, "and we will need all the help we can get. For if Lord Shadow is not stopped soon, the world will be too far into the darkness to be saved."
Chapter 8: The New Savior
Dion approached the town gates, only to find two guards in front of them. Each was armed with a large broadsword and decorative shield, which Dion knew would provide only minimal defence against a real attack.
The two guards raised their weapons and drew forward. "No one is allowed to leave the town, stranger!" shouted one of them. "You're under arrest!"
Dion, however, had already drawn his sword. A worried look flushed over the guards' faces; apparantly they weren't used to people openly resisting them before. Soon, though, their own pride overwhelmed their shock and fear, and they charged forward.
Dion sidestepped one guard and tripped another, sending him flying into a pile of mud. The guard returned to his feet, humiliated and enraged at what this foolish man had done to him. The other, meanwhile, attempted to strike from behind, but Dion turned and parried the blow without any effort.
The two guards attempted to close in, but Dion made a mad dash to the wall. Thinking that he was simply trying to escape, they ran forward. However, they didn't realize what Dion was really doing; he was luring them into a trap. He jumped onto the wall, then backflipped off, over the heads of the guards, and delivered a strong kick to their heads.
Once again, they returned to their feet, but Dion was tired of this. He parried one blow, then sidestepped another. While one guard was recovering, he neatly sliced his head off. However, the other guard was still alive, and still very angry.
Dion blocked another blow, but the guard kicked him immediately in the chest, causing him to drop the sword in pain. The guard prepared for a fatal attack, but Dion rolled aside, despite the slight pain he still felt. Finding that his sword was too close to the guard to obtain safely, he prepared to meet his attacked barehanded.
What happened next was almost a blur. Dion felt something take control of him, something deep inside. The guard rose the broadsword again, but Dion's hand was already outreached. All he could hear was himself muttering a few strange words, followed by an explosive surge of power escalating from his arm and through his hand.
The guard's face turned to panic just as the blast hit. A brilliant flash of light followed, and when it faded, all that was left of the guard was a severally burnt corpse.
Dion's sense of control came back immediately afterward. He had no idea what that power was, but it had just saved him. Somehow, it would have some role in the future of events. He could feel it in his body.
Then he saw the crowds that had witnessed what he had done. Fearing assault, he grabbed his sword and prepared to fight his way out, but he was shocked when they began to cheer. Grabbing him over their shoulders, they carried him through the streets, shouting, "The savior is here! The savior is here!"
The old man watched this, and was pleased. The people were right. This man was indeed going to be the savior of the world. If he should fail, then everything would be lost.
Chapter 9: The Masked Man
The cheering crowd continued to carry Dion through the streets in the most uncomfortable way imaginable. He tried to escape briefly, but finally decided to see where the hell they were carting him off to. After a while, though, it became clear that they were simply parading him around like some kind of sideshow, so he finally escaped.
The crowd then jumped on him, still screaming and cheering about a savior. Finally, a heavy hand grabbed Dion from behind and dragged the half-spawn into a tavern, barring the door behind him. The crowd tried to break it down, but when the guards showed up, they dashed away.
"You certainly attracted a lot of attention, stranger," said the man. When Dion finally looked up, he saw that his rescuer was nothing more than a blonde guy with a yellow mask and white clothes. He looked more like a clown than anything else, but Dion could sense something about him. Something...familiar.
"Ah," said the man, "I see you don't trust me. No matter; what I have to say is vital to our quest." He glanced around nervously, then leaned in.
"A few years ago, a warlock named Lord Shadow appeared. He quickly took over everything. All attempts to resist his army were in complete vain. A coup was attempted from Arni, but Shadow responded by destroying the entire village and killing every occupant.
"The last trace of resistance left comes from the Iron Brotherhood. You must make official contact with them if you are to get anywhere. The guards are all aware of your presence; the mob gave it away. They're more than ready to kill a pest such as yourself. Go out the back, get a horse, and head east from the town until you reach a ruined temple."
Dion was too weak to resist. Besides, if something like this was going on, he might as well check it out. He pulled out his compass and took a quick look, and when he looked back up, the man was gone.
Dion dashed out the back and sneaked into the stable. Finding a horse sitting in blind sight, he prepared to make a break for it, but was stopped when an arrow came whistling by his ear. An entire army of guards stood at a distance, armed with heavy crossbows.
Once again, the strange force took control of him. Raising his arm, a bolt of energy flied at the soldiers, once again free from his will. The explosion tore the entire middle column apart, and severely shook up the rest of the guards. While they ran and screamed in panic, he took the horse, launched it into a full gallop, and cleared the wall.
The old man walked up to the masked man. "I take it that he's joining us?"
The masked man smiled. "Yes. He's with us now."
Chapter 10: The Iron Brotherhood
Dion continued his journey through the bleak countryside outside Porre. Ruined building lined the road, many of them hinting at a military use. The plants were brown and wilted; not even the grass showed any sign of life. The sky was painted a dark grey, and no sunlight pierced through the thick, unforgiving clouds. Not a single animal was to be found, either.
The whole land seemed to be suffering from some kind of hidden cancer; no doubt the one that all those mysterious people had mentioned and refferred to. Dion didn't bother with the thought much; he just continued riding down the road.
Finally, after several hours of travelling, he reached a large temple. The building looked ancient; the walls were crumbling, with vines creeping up everywhere; the ancient runes and symbols were faded beyond recognition; the wooden double doors showed signs of rot and decay. However, Dion's eyes soon turned to a small group of bushes near the left wall. Dismounting, he followed the sense of displacement he was feeling until he pushed them aside.
Behind the bushes were several skeletal corpses. Some rotting muscle and flesh still clinged to the horrific scene, and a few traces of ruined cloth indicated that these must have been the former users of the temple. However, the biggest thing was the fact that several swords still stuck out of the bodies; they looked almost exactly like the swords the guards in Porre had used. They even had the same symbol of an impaled skull on their hilts.
However, one weapon was different. It bore the symbol of what looked like a strange, six-pointed flame. The hilt was apparantly made of gold, indicating someone of high rank. Also, this blade had barely rusted, indicating that it was placed here much later than the others.
Hinding the sword under his cloak, Dion went to the temple door and kocked loudly. A slider opened, revealing an old man with yellowed teeth, maddening eyes, and a completely bald head. "What do you want, stranger?"
Dion flashed the medallion. The old man smiled, nodded, and opened the door. "Welcome to the Iron Brotherhood."
The old man from Porre snuck out through a small hole in the wall and headed back for the temple. The panic in the city was too much, and he prayed for the safety of his two friends inside. He hoped they would make it back, as well.
Chapter 11: The Journey Begins
The inside of the temple was no better than the outside. The walls were cracked and covered with mold. Cobwebs hanged everywhere. The pillars were long-since abandoned and crumbling. Only a handful of torches lit the interior, and several robed men walked to and fro in seemingly random directions.
Dion took a few steps forward, then felt the step beneath him crumble. Everyone's eyes now focused on him, with whispering and murmering coming from everywhere. Finally, all their eyes moved towards the sound of a door slamming. The masked man that Dion had met in Porre entered the hall and approached the front.
"Dion," he said, "follow me. We must talk in private." He then led Dion through several interconnecting hallways and passages, finally leading to what seemed to be the man's private chambers. Books and scrolls were piled inside in a haphazardly manner. Dust and cobwebs had settled onto practically everything. The only furnishings were a small cot, a large bookcase, and a small, circular table with two chairs.
The man sat on the far chair and motioned towards the other. "Please," he said, "we must hurry." Dion took his seat and looked intently at the man's eyes. He could sense that something very wrong was going on.
The man unfurled a map and put it on the table. He pointed at a small island that read "Arni". "This island," he said, "is said to contain something vital to the battle against Lord Shadow. As I said, this was where Lord Shadow waged the battle that destroyed the resistance. However, before leaving, one member of the group wrote a message to others that would follow." He pulled out an old scroll and unfurled it. There was no mistaking the writing; Dion recognized it as that of Zeal.
"This scroll," said the man, "speaks of an ancient weapon, one that was said to have been infused with the ability to defeat wizards of Lord Shadow's ilk. They called it...the 'Masamune'." The man's voice bore a hint of disdain at the mentioning of it. "Anyway," he continued, "it is vital that we set off for Arni as soon as possible. Please, you must help us."
Dion didn't believe this. They were sending him on nothing more than a foolish treasure hunt. And yet, there was something about the sword, this "Masamune", that fascinated him. It took him little time to decide.
The old man listened to Dion's answer through the door. He was quite pleased.
Chapter 12: The Ruins of Arni
Dion and the man left immediately for a small dock. After boarding a small fishing boat, they set off for the island of Arni. Dion opted to stay above deck most of the time, while his companion remained in the hold, planning how they were to search for the sword.
As they drew nearer to the island, the water itself began to reflect a change. What was once clean, blue water was now covered in some kind of green moss. Not a single trace of life was to be found anywhere. In fact, occasionally, the corpses of dead birds and fish were to be found, as if their very presence in this area had caused their deaths.
Finally, the ship came to a moss-covered shoreline. The sand itself was stained red with blood, and still-rotting corpses were found everywhere. Broken weapons were found by a few, indicating that at least some resistance had occured. However, most seemed to have been hiding or cowering amongst the rocks.
The two left the boat and continued deeper onto the island. Finally, they reached the village of Arni. Like everything else, it was in complete ruin. The buildings had been razed and burned, with only a bit of debris to signify their existance. The amount of bodies continued to grow, and now it appeared like they were just stacked here and left to rot, unlike the others, which laid where they fell.
They pressed on towards the other side of the island. Suddenly, something went across Dion's leg. Thinking it was only a piece of bone or a stick, he turned to brush it off. However, an arm from one of the rotting corpses had grabbed tightly onto his leg. To his surprise, the thing began to stand up, along with the others. Moaning and screaming, they pressed towards the two.
Dion quickly sliced the arm off the one that was holding him, then cleaved another three in half in one strike. The man began to beat them back using his staff, often crushing the creatures' skulls in with one strike. However, they were soon overwhelmed.
Dion struggled to call upon his power, but to his dismay, it refused to reveal itself. Suddenly, an enormous explosion of energy rocketed through the center of the zombie ranks, blowing about three-quarters of the things apart. The man struggled to catch his breath as he recovered from the strain of the spell he had just used. Dion finished the rest of the zombies off with a few sword slices, helped the man back to his feet, and walked towards the shore.
"Ghouls," said the man, as if anticipating Dion's question. "The poor people who died here were cursed to roam their island, killing whatever semblance of life dared to venture here. Hopefully, they will find rest after Lord Shadow is killed."
Finally, they reached the shore. Strangely, this section wasn't nearly as destroyed as the others; in fact, it still had some semblance of purity to it. Mystified, Dion walked towards the water, only to stop when a voice rang out in his ears. It sounded fairly familiar.
"Welcome, Dion...to your destiny."
Suddenly, a swilring blue portal appeared directly in front of Dion. As if drawn by some kind of mysterious force, he passed through. The portal dissapeared once he was inside.
The man smiled. The old fool was still up to his tricks. At least Dion would find something of value...
Chapter 13: The Path of Time
Everything around Dion went completely black as soon as he stepped through the portal. He continued to walk forward, almost unvoluntarily, until the voice from before ranged out.
"Dion, I have watched you these many millenia. I knew that you would be the one that could save the world. How ironic that your very body has the abilities of one of its greatest parasites." Dion struggled to come up with an answer, but found himself unable to talk.
"Lord Shadow's power is terrible. Even you would be unable to face him as you are now. That is why I have brought you here, into the Time Stream, to tell you what you must know.
"Lord Shadow's abilities stem from those of an ancient race known as the Mystics. They attempted a full-scale revolt against Guardia while being led by the human warlock, Magus. However, they were eventually defeated and droven back to a small island, where they resided until their village was destroyed.
"Their only fear was a powerful sword called the Masamune. This weapon was created when two beings from Zeal, Masa and Mune, merged with a small knife made by Melchiar. Its abilities go beyond anything mankind has ever dreamed of. That is why it is the first item that you will need.
"This passage leads to the year 602 AD. In two weeks from the date you land in, a sacrifice will be made using the Masamune. This will taint the blade, making it a weapon of evil, and thus useless in your quest. You must stop this sacrifice.
"Oh, and keep an eye out for a young woman. She might know something of importance to your quest. She was last seen a few days ago at the village, but some of Lord Shadow's agents are closing in on her. Save her first, then find the Masamune."
Suddenly, Dion was thrown into a swirling mess of lights and colors. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of spinning and flailing, he found himself on what looked like a clifftop. Below him was a small village, nestled by a deep forest and forboding castle.
This was the beginning of his quest.
Chapter 14: The Woman
Dion climbed down the cliff to arrive at a deep canyon. The very atmosphere here was worse than that of Porre. The grass and plants were in various stages of decay. The dirt was red and dry. The sun was almost completely blocked off by a blanket of dark clouds. Not a single animal was to be found anywhere, save for a few crows flying overhead.
The canyon ended at a large field. Strangely, it showed little of the infliction the canyon had suffered, as if some kind of parasitic evil was coming from the canyon itself. Only the sky showed any sign of disease; the sun was still barely shining through the clouds.
The town itself was silent. The few that were outside ran into their homes and closed the doors and windows as he approached. Apparantly this place was afraid of strangers, a trait Dion had noticed in Porre. He heard a few say something along the lines of "demon" and "hell spawn", but he ignored their remarks and continued onward.
Suddenly, Dion heard a scream coming from a house at the end of the street. He saw someone force his way inside, but that wasn't what intrigued him. It was what the man was wearing.
It was the same uniform the guards at Porre had on.
His hand already reaching his sword, Dion followed the man inside. He found another already inside, slicing the head off of a small child. A man and woman were already brutally murdered, but one person was still alive. It was another woman, with green hair, a tattered dress, and complete fear in her eyes.
"She looks good, doesn't she?" said one of the attackers. "How about a nice old-fashioned rape?"
Dion, however, grew tired of standing around. Rather than risk getting too close for the moment, he grabbed a cutting knife off the nearby counter and threw it straight at the one he had followed inside. It went right into the back of his neck, killing him instantly.
The other one screamed in alarm, and another soldier entered the house. Dion kicked the first one in the head, then cut off the second one's right hand with one slice. As that one went down, Dion ran his sword straight through his heart.
The first tried to reach the woman, possibly as a hostage, but she had already pulled the knife out of the soldier's neck. Acting purely on instinct, she lashed out, slitting her attacker's throat. He made some brief gurgling sounds before falling to the ground, dead.
The woman dropped the knife and began to scream hysterically. Dion grabbed her and pulled her out through the back door, just as the rest of the townspeople arrived, having followed the screaming and fighting.
"Who are you?" asked Dion. "You are NOT from around here."
"Well...I..." began the woman, "was chasing my son's damn cat when I fell into some kind of blue swirl. The next thing I knew, I was here."
Dion didn't believe a word she said, but he needed some company. Besides, for a mother, she didn't look too bad...
Chapter 15: The Bridge
Dion and his companion continued southward, compelled by forces unknown. The nightmare he had seen in Porre and at the canyon was not even visible here. The grass was green, the sky was clear and blue, and animals were found all over. In a way, it sickened Dion. It must have been the Lavos part of him.
His companion said little. He could almost feel her pain and torment. She had suffered harshly before, but how was unknown to him. She said little, her eyes seemingly lost in thought as they continued on their objectiveless journey.
Finally, they reached a river back. Dion placed his hand inside the water briefly, then withdrew it. "It's too cold to swim across," he said. "We'll have to find a bridge."
They continued moving west now, heading for some possible way to cross the river. Eventually, they found a long bridge, but there was another problem. A series of soldiers marched towards the bridge, accompanied by the sound of weapons clashing, men cursing, and people screaming and dying. There was a battle on the bridge!
Dion looked for another way to escape to the other side, but the bridge was the only way to cross. He took off his pack and shoved it into his companion's hands, drew his sword, and charged.
The coming soldiers mistook him for an enemy, but they stopped drawing their weapons when they noticed that his uniform was completely different. Dion rushed into the battle, the blood of Lavos in his veins compelling him to acts of bloodshed.
He slaughtered countless numbers of enemies, which he recognized as Lord Shadow's minions. Dion then saw a large man with a bloodstained broadsword standing in the back of the enemy ranks, shouting orders at the other soldiers. This was obviously the leader of the enemy army.
Since there was no way to reach him through the bridge, Dion quickly thought up a plan. Jumping over the railing, he grabbed onto the bottom of the bridge. Carefully, he climbed his way across, knowing that any possible moment could be his last. Finally, he reached where he wanted to go; he could see the leader's face in the gap between the planks.
Dion threw himself back over the railing and right in front of the leader. The man let out a yelp of surprise, but quickly blocked Dion's first attack. The leader drew a small dagger and lunged while Dion was recovering from the parry, but Dion dodged.
By now the fighting was beginning to die down. The soldiers were pushing back Lord Shadow's minions. Dion's female companion watched from the other side in sheer horror at the bloodshed that was occuring in front of her.
All she could do was watch Dion fight.
Chapter 16: The Leader
Dion and the leader clashed, their swords striking straight into each other. Dion found his opponent to be remarkably skilled and swift, while the leader found Dion to be rather intelligent and strong. The two simply continued to attack each other.
Dion soon knocked his enemy's sword out of his hands, but as he reached to deliver the fatal blow, the leader rolled away, pulled out a knife, and threw it. However, the blade missed Dion's neck by a mere inch, and imbedded itself in the back of the head of another soldier. Cursing, the leader drew a dagger and grabbed his sword.
Having never seen this kind of fighting before, Dion didn't realize the danger and attacked anyway. The leader parried his sword, then almost instantaniously lunged forward with his dagger. Dion, however, to his surprise and horror, twisted aside at the last possible second.
Pressing his sword down, Dion kneed the leader in the face while he was still recovering from the lunge. The man backed away, cradeling his broken nose. Dion charged forward, but the leader raised his sword again and quickly parried. It continued like this for a few more minutes.
Finally, Dion jumped back from the leader, landing a few feet away from his adversary. The leader charged forward, ready to finish Dion off in one final stroke. However, the moment his sword slashed forward, Dion jumped over him and slashed him across the back.
When it ended, both halves of the leader were lying on the ground, in a massive pool of blood and gore. The few enemies that had been fighting only seconds ago turned tail and fled at the sight of their beloved leader's corpse. However, the soldiers cheered at Dion like he was some kind of conquering hero.
He wasn't, of course. He just had to do what came naturally...
Chapter 17: The Knight
Dion stood where he was, cleaning his sword on the grass. He found that the few scratches he had were completely healed, much to his surprise. Thinking of something, he grabbed the leader's dagger and cut across his hand.
Blood began to flow from the cut, but within a few seconds, the wound closed back up. He then stabbed himself in the leg, but the wound didn't close up this time. It seemed like he could instantly heal minor wounds, but it took time to fully heal more severe ones.
By the time the soldiers got over the bridge, the wound had been completely healed. The soldiers dragged the woman along with them, apparantly showing none of the same lust as Lord Shadow's men had. They stood in front of Dion and bowed in reverance.
Soon another figure rode on horseback over the bridge. He was a knight, dressed completely in gold armor, and had a massive broadsword on his belt. His head was completely hidden in a golden helmet. He seemed to be of a higher rank than the other soldiers.
"Rise, men!" he said. "Save your honors for our king! This man is simply another soldier." The others stood and walked off, leaving the woman behind.
"Young man," said the knight, "what company are you from?"
"Com...pa...ny?" said Dion, having never heard the term before. "I was just passing through, and..."
The knight was not pleased with this. "Are you crazy? Nobody in their right mind would just jump right into a battle such as this! These bastards are murderers, and good ones at that! Why would any sane being try to kill one of their leaders?"
Dion was obviously not pleased by the knight's attitude. "Excuse me, but I hardly consider this thanks. I saved your fucking ass out there, and you bitch to me about being crazy?"
"What you did," said the knight, "was completely illegal and against military regulations. You could easily be executed for this."
"Oh really?" said Dion, now on the fringe of killing the knight. "Just try me!"
The knight looked blankly at Dion, then mounted his horse. "I will tell the king about this. I doubt he will be pleased."
Dion's distest for royalty spread across his face. "If you want to talk to some old bastard about things he doesn't understand, then fine. But don't expect me to sit around and wait for the son of a bitch to give his fucking 'decree'; I'll be long gone by then."
The knight jumped back down and drew his sword. "How dare you speak of my liege in such a manner! I'll make sure you suffer just for that!"
Dion grabbed his companion and began to walk off. The knight screamed something, and the soldiers from before ran ahead and surrounded the two. The knight walked forward, triumphantly.
"I can't wait for the king to order your death," he said. He was about to laugh, but he saw that his men had all began to kneel.
He turned...and saw the king standing right behind him, a displeased look on his face.
Chapter 18: The King
"My-my-my liege!" muttered the knight, quickly kneeling. The woman did the same, but Dion just stood there. He never cared for royalty, anyway. Especially spoiled princes and princesses...
"You, sir!" said the king, while walking towards Dion. "Where do you come from? To which king to you owe your alliance?"
Dion smiled. "I come from nowhere, and serve no one. I am my own man, unlike that knight of yours." The knight looked enraged, but didn't say a word.
"Very well," said the king, a bit confused at Dion's response, "but still, we owe you our thanks. What do you wish for. Just name it, and we will try to do our best to get it for you."
Dion thought long and hard, then looked back at the king. "I want some information. I heard that someone has stolen the Masamune and kidnapped a figure of importance. Do you know anything about that?"
The king frowned. "My dear daughter was kidnapped the same night the Masamune was stolen. My wife has gone mad ever since. These men seemed to be linked to this. Their headquarters were said to be in Porre."
"I'll deal with them," said Dion. "I'll make sure they all die."
"Normally I would object to the thought of massive bloodshed," said the king, "but this time, I think I'll allow it. However, you should still have at least one battle-worthy companion. I doubt your woman would be able to hold out long against them."
"She is not my woman," said Dion, slowly beginning to snarl.
"Very well," said the king. He turned to the knight. "You, Brigham, will go with them."
Brigham was not too pleased with this. "But, sir! I would rather stay here and help you than go with these ruffians!"
"Listen, Brigham," said the king. "You would do more of a service by helping to save the princess than you would by fighting alongside me. Join forces with them, and we may yet have hope."
The knight bowed his head. "Very well. I will go, for the sake of the princess." He got up and joined Dion and the woman.
"Go, now," said the king. "May you bring back good news!" With that, he left.
After being given horses and plenty of supplies, the three set off for Porre. Dion thought of the bloodshed ahead, the countless people he'd have to slaughter in order to save one pathetic girl.
He smiled at the thought of it.
Chapter 19: Return to Porre
Dion and the others rode for two days before finally reaching Porre. Unlike its future cousin, which was a crime-ridden mega-city, this was a crime-ridden village, with only a few buildings to mark its presence. Not a sound was heard anywhere, adding to the eerie feeling of the place.
Desperately needing answers, they surveyed the buildings. People closed their doors and windows as they passed by. Children were yanked inside by their parents. It was like their very presence here was not welcome.
Finally, they came across a tavern. "This," said Brigham, "will be a good place to find some answers." The three disembarked and stepped inside.
The tavern was empty, save for one man. His entire body stank of fresh alchohol. He regarded the three with extreme displeasure, snarled, then went back to his drink. Brigham approached him slowly.
"Excuse me, sir," he said, "but do you know anything about the kidnapped princess?" The man turned back to them and snarled.
"My brother," he said, "was killed by you lowly Guardianese. His family was killed, as well. Do you think I'd help the lowest fucking life forms on this god-forsaken planet? I'd rather watch your blood pour out of every orifice of your body." He then quickly drew a dagger. Several men jumped out of hiding, each carrying either a dagger or a short sword. The whole thing was an ambush!
Brigham drew his sword and met with the first man. Dion quickly drew his sword and met with another. Brigham cut his opponent's wrist, causing him to drop his weapon, then went after two others. Dion stabbed his opponent in the chest, then ripped the sword out of his body sideways before going after another.
Brigham easily dealt with his two opponents, then went after another. Dion tore through his, then went after the same one Brigham was after. The two stabbed straight through the poor fool, their own blades barely missing each other.
Only the first man was left. He tried to run away, blubbering like a baby, but Dion quickly caught up with him and pinned him against the wall. "What the fuck do you know?" he asked.
"They- they've taken her," said the man, still blubbering, "to Truce Canyon. They- they're going to sacrifice her in a week." Dion smiled.
"Thank you for your cooperation," he said, before snapping the man's neck like a twig.
Chapter 20: Bloodrain
The three mounted their horses and rode out before the town knew what hit them. They rode like crazy back to Truce Canyon, reaching it within a few days. Brigham prayed that they had reached her in time. Dion was completely silent.
They dismounted at the entrance. Two robed guards were walking patrols at the one pass into the canyon, while two others, armed with crossbows, were pacing the plateus above. Dion hid the other two behind a series of rocks, then scaled the rock wall. When both guards had their backs turned, he quickly slit the throat of the nearest guard, took his crossbow, then hid himself and the body back at the bushes. Once again, he secretly thanked Lavos for his gifts.
He loaded the crossbow and aimed at the other guard. However, the weapon was completely foreign to him; nothing like this existed in Zeal. He couldn't aim it properly. Finally, Brigham snatched it from him, aimed, and fired within two seconds. The arrow connected with the guard's forehead, passed straight through, and completely exited out the back of his skull. His lifeless body hit the ground, alerting the other two guards to come and investigate. Dion rushed at them from behind and killed them with only two swings of his sword.
They carefully made their way deeper into the canyon. Strangely, all the other robed figures here were dead or dying, their bodies torn apart by some unnatural force. Something was clearly wrong here, but they had to continue anyway. Finally, Dion reached the spot where he had entered this crazy time.
A stone altar was now built here. On the top of it was a small child, still squiriming under her ropes. She was completely stripped, save for a small earing and headband. Two funnels ran down from the side of the altar to a large basin at the bottom, where a majestic broadsword lay. It had to be the Masamune.
Standing over the altar was a man, no bigger than Dion. He wore a black robe and armor, with a long, blue sword raised in his hands. Around his neck was a round, black crystal, electricity pulsating deep inside it. It was, like everything else here, completely unnatural.
"Oh, hear me, great Lord Shadow," said the man, his voice raised to the heavens. "Make this blade the symbol of thy power. Remove the purity with the murder of the innocent!" He then began to lunge downward.
Suddenly, Dion dashed forward and delivered a strong jump kick to the man's chest, knocking him back into the canyon wall. He then quickly cut the girl loose and got her off the altar. She ran into the waiting arms of the woman, who quickly wrapped her in her apron. Brigham, however, charged at the man, his sword drawn and raised.
"How dare you do this to our princess!" he screamed. In fact, he was screaming so loud he didn't hear Dion shout out a warning; the man was completely undamaged. He quickly chanted a spell, and Brigham was hit with a massive fireball; it blew him straight in half. His torso moved briefly, then stopped altogether.
The man then tried to cast the same spell at Dion. However, Dion noticed that his body was acting strangely again. Under the control of another force, he raised his hand and shouted, "Dark Bomb!" A massive explosion him the canyon wall, seemingly burying the man. However, he broke out again a few seconds later.
Dion, now back in complete control, smiled. This might be the first worthy opponent he had in a long time.
Chapter 21: Secret of the Crystal
Dion jumped out of the way of another blast. It tore apart the ground he was standing on mere seconds before. He then leaped forward and slashed, but the man dodged.
"I should introduce myself," he said. "I am Bloodrain, general to Lord Shadow. I have come here to destroy the Masamune, so that it can never be raised against him. But now, you have ruined his plans. Now you must die!"
Bloodrain raised his sword. "This is no ordinary weapon. It was used by one of the greatest swordsmen to have ever lived. It is imbueded with the magical energy of destruction. Behold...the Slasher!" He held the sword out, and it began to cackle with dark energy.
Dion jump-slashed, but Bloodrain parried his attack easily, then kicked him away. He then slashed hard downward, slicing a decent-sized wound in Dion's arm. Dion drew back and grabbed his injury; it was too severe to heal quickly.
"You are powerful," said Bloodrain. "I'll grant you that. Most men would be destroyed in that one attack. However, you will never be a match for me." He held the Slasher straight out, and a massive ray of dark power rushed out of it. Dion was struck head-on, and he was propelled into the far wall. The blast buried him more than two miles into the earth. When it stopped, it looked like Dion was dead.
Then the half-spawn smashed straight out of the wall. He was bloodied, wounded in over a dozen places. However, he still refused to give up. Bloodrain laughed at his opponent, then leaped forward, the Slasher raised to finish Dion off.
Then Dion noticed something strange about Bloodrain. The crystal around his neck was now cackling with the same type of energy as the Slasher. Somehow, they appeared to be connected. Acting purely on instinct, Dion slashed at the crystal, smashing it apart.
The result was instantanious. Bloodrain was blasted backwards by a sudden rush of energy. When the smoke died down, his left arm was reduced to a bleeding stump, his face was nearly burned off, his intestines were nearly pouring out of his chest, and his legs had almost no muscle left. The Slasher's power died down, and it fell from his only remaining hand.
"Lord Shadow," stammered Bloodrain, his mouth filling with blood, "forgive me." He then fell onto the altar. A massive whirlwind appeared around the altar. Dion quickly pulled the Masamune out of it, then backed away.
The whirlwing picked up the debris from the battle, as well as Bloodrain's mutilated corpse and the altar. They were soon carried off into the sky, where a massive explosion occured. The moment it dissapeared, the whirlwind vanished without a trace. The omnimous feeling from before was now replaced with one of peace.
Chapter 22: The Time of The Masamune
Dion quickly pulled the Masamune out of the altar. The entire sword shimmered and throbbed with unbridled power, and yet, it felt somehow pure. This must have been why Lord Shadow wanted to corrupt it so badly. Maybe it really was the key to his downfall.
Just then, the sound of horses reached the three from the entrance of the canyon, followed by blood-curling screams. One of the robed figure's heads flew up and landed right next to the princess; an imprint indicated that it had been kicked by someone just after being sliced off.
"Now would be a good time to leave," said Dion. He quickly grabbed the woman and, acting purely on instinct, jumped off the cliff. A blue portal appeared under them, mere seconds before they would have landed on the jagged rocks below. They fell straight through it, and it promptly closed.
"My princess," said one of the knights, "are you alright?"
"Yes," said the princess. She hugged the knight in a tight grip. "Thank you, Glenn!"
Dion once again found himself falling through darkness. And yet again, the voice appeared all around him. "You have done well. The Masamune is safe yet again. However, it has lost much power in resisting the corruption, and will take several hundred years to restore to full power. I shall take it for now." Dion then noticed that the Masamune had suddenly dissapeared.
"Now," continued the voice, "take the woman home. This is no place for the weak. However, be sure to keep your eyes out; Lord Shadow has infiltrated the Porre from her time and turned it into a monstrous war machine. They have taken her homeland of Guardia, and hunt her people for sport. They are mere shadows of what they used to be.
"Please, do what you can to assure her safety. She has a role yet to play in this drama. Also, keep an eye out for her son, the former prince of Guardia. He is a skilled swordsman, as well as an excellent magician. He will be of great aid in your mission. The time you will be landing in is 1002 AD.
"And one last warning. Beware of the jester. She will bring you nothing but grief." Dion didn't understand what that last line meant, but the voice dissapeared, and he slammed into hard ground.
He was now in what seemed to be a courtyard. The ground was hard rock, the sky was blue, and the trees were still alive and well. It seemed impossible to believe that in the future, this world would be nothing more than a place of disease and death. The woman was unconcious from the fall, so he left her to scout around.
What he saw below him chilled him to the bone. Six people, four of which were young children, were tied to a large wooden stake. Small logs surrounded the bottom of it completely, and a large crowd watched the event with morbid curiosity. Dion crept closer and hid behind a fallen pile of debris.
"You have been charged with the crime of treason," said a loud voice. "By the order of Lord Kei, you and your household are hearby sentenced to be burned at the stake until you are nothing more than ash." Dion looked up, and saw a fat man begin to lower a torch.
Something about this troubled him. In Zeal, nobody was ever burned like this; it was considered torture. His rage boiled over, until his hand began to react again. He raised it, and fired a razor-sharp blade of black energy. It tore the man in half, then dissapeared.
The crowd gasped and withdrew, as several guards in blew armor approached Dion. He drew his sword and awaited their attack.
Chapter 23: The Warrior
Dion sliced through the first few guards with ease. When the next group saw this, they started to back away, until an enormous guard with a Halberd cursed them back into line. He was obviously the leader.
Dion jumped onto the wall, then flipped over two of the guards and slashed them in half in one attack. He then grabbed a guard that was attacking from behind and snapped his neck, then used the corpse to block another's attacks.
By now, most of the enemy was terrified, but the leader still forced them to stay in formation. Dion raised his hand and shot out another blast, blowing nearly all of the remaining enemies into pieces. The leader's face was now very concerned, but he still refused to let his men leave.
Finally, they regained their nerve and attacked at once. Dion quickly began to slaughter them, until an all-too-familiar voice rang out behind him. "Hey, what's going on?"
The woman walked down the steps and into the courtyard. Dion looked at her with disdain; what the fuck was she doing here? One of the men, sensing his discomfort, grabbed her and held a knife to her throat. "Drop your weapon," he said, "or she gets it."
Dion just stared at him, but suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down, and saw the end of the Halbert sticking straight through him. The leader snickered behind him, while the woman grabbed the guard's knife and stabbed him in the groin.
The leader's expression changed, however, when he saw Dion grab the Halberd and pull the whole thing out of his body. The leader stepped back, but Dion was already on his feet, his new weapon in hand.
Just then, a lightning bolt flashed downwards, killing the leader. The remaining people quickly fled, shouting, "The rebels! The rebels!"
Dion saw a small group of ragtag soldiers coming into the courtyard. In the front was a young swordsman with red hair, a torn tunic, and a rainbow-colored sword. Dion didn't have much time to dwell on who he was before he collapsed, the woman alongside him.
Chapter 24: The Rebels
Dion found himself on a straw bed when he came to. His shirt had been removed, revealing the extensive bandages on his chest. His sword, now cleaned and polished, was lying on some cloth by his bed. His pack was hanging on a hook on the wall above.
He was inside a cave of some sort. A few torches lit the area, revealing it to be dark and arid. A few others were in the cave as well, including the woman. She was lying on another bed nearby. Everyone else was dressed in a series of dishelved and ragged clothing, with swords, spears, bows, and various other weapons in one hand and small loaves of bread in another.
"Glad to see you're awake." Dion turned around, and saw the red-haired warrior from before. He was sitting on a straw pile while sharpening his magnificent sword. "Very few face the Porre soldiers nowadays."
The name rang in Dion's memory. He had been to two different Porres; the one in the past was a small and distrusting hamlet, while the one in the future was a run-down city trapped in despair. Apparantly they were a significant power in this time period.
"I, myself, have a reason to hate them," said the warrior. "I was married to the princess of Guardia, Marle. They came in the night and murdered her and our son. I was away on diplomatic measures, but it was for naught, for soon our kingdom was overrun. Then I learned that the whole diplomatic meeting was faked by Porre so I wouldn't be in Guardia, and my treacherous chancellor would. The bastard sold us out, only to have his own head cut off afterwards so Porre could get the money they bribed him with back."
"Why would Porre do this?" asked Dion. "Sure, they're violent fucks, but I can't imagine them tearing kingdoms apart from the inside."
"Porre was once peaceful," said the warrior. "They are ruled by Lord Kei, who is actually the first female leader Porre has ever had. She brought in a new era of enlightenment to the outdated village, and it soon transformed into a powerful city. However, something about her changed. She became aggressive, and sought to turn Porre into an empire. And she did, to an extent. It's crumbling apart from the inside, just like Guardia did, but that must happen for peace to reign."
Dion looked downward. "Do you plan on killing Kei, then?"
The warrior sheathed his sword. "I have a plan, but it must wait until nightfall. Until then, enjoy our hideout. We are the Warriors of Guardia, the last remnants of a once-proud kingdom. My name is Crono." With that, he walked away.
Crono walked to the sleeping woman. She was still alive, at least, but had been asleep for many hours already. He looked down at her and smiled.
Chapter 25: The Prince
"Lord Kei," said a maid, standing in front of an elaborate sliding door, "your meal is ready."
"Send it in," said a quiet voice. The maid slid the door opened and walked into the room. It was gorgeously decorated, with elaborate carpets, spiralling murals, beautiful paintings, and fine wood furniture. A single woman, wearing a blue dress and well into her 30s, sat at a knee-high table, sipping an herbal tea. The maid put the food down, then left.
She walked down the stairs, but soon ran into a tall man. He had black hair braided into a ponytail, black silk clothing, and a beautiful sword held inside a golden scabbard. He looked at the maid, and she instantly realized what he wanted.
"Lord Soma," she said, "your mother is eating right now. She does not want to be disturbed." Soma's face twisted into one of unpleasantness at the sound of that, and he began up the stairs again.
He made his way to another room. It was very much like Lord Kei's room, only slightly smaller and less-decorated. He grabbed a black robe, then used a spell to make himself invisible. He then jumped out the window and made his way out of the palace.
He soon arrived at Guardia, just as the spell wore off. He came across a troop of Porre soldiers, drinking beer and joking around. One of them took one glance at Soma, drew his sword, and, mistaking him for an enemy, charged. Soma quickly drew his sword. Its blade was a beautiful silver, with runes on every corner of it. The soldier backed off when he saw the blade; it signified the royal family of Porre.
"My lord!" he shouted, quickly falling to his knees. The other soldeirs, having witnessed this, fell as well. Soma looked at them with disdain, then said, "I will require one of your horses. My mother's sanity depends on it."
The soldiers were more than confused by his words, but gave him a horse. He quickly mounted, then rode off towards the deeper regions of Guardia.
Finally, he reached what he was looking for: a dark cave. Dismounting his horse, he pulled the hood of his robe over his head, then entered.
Crono was drinking a glass of beer when he saw the robed man enter. His head was bowed, so he couldn't see his face. but he sat down next to Crono and handed him some papers.
"An official invintation," he said, "to Lord Kei's wedding. Disguise yourself, infiltrate the wedding, and kill her fiance."
"What?" asked Crono. "Just who are you, anyway?"
"Bring two others with you," continued the man. "You are to act as noblemen, regional lords of Guardia and the other conquered states. Once inside the party, be careful, for her fiance has many agents; he will seek to destroy you at every turn. A boat will be waiting for you at the old Guardia port at 5:00 tomorrow night. I will meet you there." He then dissapeared completely.
Chapter 26: The Party
The next morning, Crono's group of rebels assembled in a single-file fashion in the middle of the cave. Crono stood at the front, while Dion and the woman hid in the back.
"Okay," said Crono, "it seems that one of our informants in Porre Castle has been able to grant us an invintation to Lord Kei's upcoming wedding. The plan is for myself and two others to enter the party and take out Lord Kei once and for all. Are there any volunteers?"
Loud murmers erupted in the crowd. They obviously thought Crono was out of his mind. Going into Porre was dangerous enough, but entering the royal palace? That was simply suicide.
Finally, Dion stepped forward. "I'll go," he said, "if you all can put your damn fears aside and do something useful for a change." Everyone was quiet, as their faces registered a mixture of displeasure at being insulted and sadness as they realized that Dion was telling the truth. Then the woman slowly stepped forward, as well. "I'll go, too," she said.
Crono looked at them in disbelief, then sighed. "Very well. We must prepare now. The boat leaves tonight."
That night, the three arrived at the docks. Dion and Crono were shoved into dress suits, while the woman was wearing a beautiful gown. They gave their weapons to the nearby rebel, who took them promptly back to the cave. They bough their tickets and boarded the boat.
Promptly at 5:00, the boat left the dock and began its treck to Porre.
Chapter 27: The Mysterious Man
Dion looked over the water. Zeal had nothing like this; the little bits of water that hell hole had were handled and distributed by the Royal Family. The mere thought of those bastards caused him to silently curse their existence, but his attention soon returned to the water. It was strangely...calming.
"Okay," said the woman, "what are you looking at now?"
Dion turned his head, his eyes glazed with hatred at her disruption. She quickly backed away.
Crono sat in the ship's old bar. The creaking of moaning of the ship filled the air, as he looked at his long-forgotten beer. It smelled like the mold that filled the wooden walls. Men, either already drunk or heading towards it, slammed down one drink after another while talking, gambling, and generally being lowly bastards.
However, Crono suddenly saw someone sitting in a dark corner of the bar. He wore a black cloak, with a hood aiding the shadows in hiding his face. He was reading a large, leather book, and had nothing else in front of him; no food, no drink, nothing. Crono felt a sense of unease, but at the same time realized that he knew this person from somewhere.
Then he noticed five of Porre's soldiers walking towards him. "Scum!" shouted one of them. "You are under arrest for crimes against Lord Kei! Come with us at once!" The man's eyes never left the book; it was as if he didn't even know the soldiers were there.
"Listen!" shouted the soldier again, this time drawing his sword. "You have committed high crimes against the Porre Empire! Surrender at once!"
"The Porre Empire," said the man, at last realizing that they were there. "It's good to see that you're calling it what it REALLY is. I politely ask you to leave me in peace."
"Silence!" shouted the soldier. "Come now, or die in that spot!"
The man began to slowly raise his head. "I will tell you one more time. Leave. Me. Alone." Crono immediately recognized that voice...and realized that the soldiers were making a fatal mistake.
"And for the last time, I'm telling you to come with us!" shouted the soldier. They raised their swords and prepared to thrust downwards.
The man raised one hand. The blades broke into tiny shards. The soldiers gasped, then began to walk back. "It is true," said one of them. "He is a warlock."
"Warlock?" said the man, standing for the first time. "That is such a dirty word. I prefer to be called a conjurer, a wizard, or maybe even a mage. But never...ever...EVER CALL ME A WARLOCK!" He raised his hand, and the soldier that spoke last suddenly collapsed on his knees, his eyes showing his complete agony. The other soldiers looked on helplessly as his head exploded, showering the room with blood and gore.
"You...bastard!" shouted another soldier. Already, their nerve had collapsed. They began to run out of the bar, but the man raised his hand again. The shards hovered in mid-air and flew straight through the four before they had one foot on the staircase. Two were pinned lifeless against the wall. One had lost his throat and lungs. The fourth was lying on the ground, his organs spilling out. The man grabbed his book and left the bar a complete, and bloody, mess.
Chapter 28: The Warlock
Dion turned his attention away from the water just as the man exited the hold. Their eyes met briefly, but Dion felt a strange feeling go through him. He knew this guy from somewhere...
Before he could fully remember, though, the bartender and a handful of patrons ran out of the hold. "Stop him!" shouted the bartender. "He killed my son!"
The man laughed. "So, your son was a member of Porre?" he asked. "He deserved to die, then. The people of Porre are unworthy of the gift of life. And if you continue to hunt me, your life shall be forfeit, as well."
"Curse you!" growled the bartender. He pulled out a knife and threw it right at the man. Before it was even a hair's breath from his head, though, the man grabbed the knife and, in one swift motion, sent it flying through the bartender's skull.
"You can see your son again," said the man, as the bartender's body slumped onto the ground. "I hope hell is warm enough for you."
The group that had followed the bartender quickly began to withdraw. "Not so fast," said the man. "For one instant, you showed loyalty to Porre. The penalty for that..." He pulled out a large scythe from under his cloak and threw it straight at the men. They were sliced apart by it. "...is death."
The scythe began to return, but its path ran straight through Dion. He quickly jumped over the scythe. The man caught his weapon, then smiled. "I may have a worthy opponent," he said. "Come with me." He jumped onto the roof of the hold. Dion quickly followed.
"I am curious," said the man. "Who are you?"
"My name is Dion," responded Dion, "of the kingdom of Zeal."
The man's face was covered with shock. "Zeal..." He then let out a cruel smile. "So, you must be that child from so long ago. I'm amazed that you've survived all these centuries. Well, no matter. I can sense the blood of Lavos in you, and thus, you must die."
"Who are you?" asked Dion, now VERY angry.
The man jumped onto the ship's railing. "That, my lad," he said, "is another question for another time. This is no place to stage a battle; too many fools will get in our way. I will be back, and when I am, you will die." He then jumped over the side of the ship.
Dion jumped down and looked over the railing, but there was no sign of the man. Dion's mind raced over what had just happened. Who was he...and what did he know about Zeal and Lavos?
Chapter 29: The Party
"Now docking at Porre Harbor!" shouted the captain. "All passengers please disembark!" Dion, the woman, and Crono quickly walked down the gangplank, determined to put as much distance between them and the carnage on the ship as possible. They found a large black coach waiting for them by the entrance to the harbor.
The coach door opened, revealing the same black-robed man from the cave. "Please hurry," he said in a hushed whisper. "We have little time. The party is about to begin." The three quickly jumped inside. The coach quickly made its way to the palace.
Once they arrived, the three quickly exited. The robed man jumped out the back and dissapeared almost immediately. Dion immediately senses a kind of dark magic around the man; he knew it wouldn't be the last time they dealt with him.
They began to walk through the doorway, but were stopped by a trio of guards. "Identify yourselves," said one of them, his hand never moving far from his sword's hilt.
"We are regional lords of Guardia," said Crono. "Their names are Dion and Catherine."
"And yours?" asked one of the guards, now even more suspicious. "I have never heard of a lord Dion or Catherine."
"Ah, Raxil!" shouted a man from behind. The guards parted, revealing Prince Soma. "How delightful of you to attend! I didn't think you would make it!" He extended his hand to Crono, who grasped it hesitantly.
"Lord Raxil?" said one of the guards, now in a complete state of panic. "Please, forgive me, my lord!"
"No matter," said Crono. "Now, can we enter already?"
"Yes, of course!" said one of the guards, who was just seconds away from pissing himself. Dion, Catherine and Crono entered the palace.
A few minutes after the three had entered, a man approached the guards. He was clad in a black suit and cloak, with a hood partially obscuring his cruel facial features.
"Identify yourself!" said one of the guards. The man didn't even look up.
"I am the entertainment that was hired," he said. "My name is Dronima." The guards quickly looked on the list, then smiled. They motioned the man inside. Beneath his hood, he smiled. This would be a night nobody would forget.