Hunter's Moon Chapter 1
Crono stared blankly at the blinking, whirring machine set upon his kitchen table. The box-like object was Luccas newest invention, just revealed to public eyes (or, at least, his public eyes), and the redhead was a little suspicious about the odds that it would explode into fiery little bits. Lucca herself stood behind the puzzled boy, arms crossed in gratification. Shed burst into his home this morning, ranting and raving about this hunk of metal.
He gave the contraption a dubious stare, and turned to his best friend. Its . . . neat looking . . . He offered weakly. Lucca glowered.
Neat looking? Is that all you have to say?
He shrugged helplessly, leaned back, and put his feet up on the table.
At 17, Crono still had the uncontrollable orange-red mop of hair styled in its usual punk spikes, and the same green eyes that seemed to always glow slightly, courtesy of the Lightning Magick granted to the boy by Spekkio three years ago. However, he was considerably taller now, six foot at the least, with wider shoulders, and was more muscular in general. Especially in his arms. The jaw was becoming chiseled, as were his cheekbones, and he had begun to have to shave only about a month after the whole Lavos thing. He had outgrown his old blue Gi long ago, and now wore a new one, tailored to his formidable size.
While Crono had remained virtually unchanged, Lucca had metamorphosed into what seemed like a brand new person. For one, as she aged, her hair had steadily shifted from dark brown to dirty purple, and grown till the short cut now brushed her collarbones. Her form had also filled out, turning her rectangular frame into slender curves, without making her appear over endowed. The girls monstrous glasses had been replaced by a smaller version, and the headset modified. Clothing was now brown shorts and black tank top, with a pocketed brown vest filled with various tools, gadgets, and who-knows-what else.
With a swipe of her hand, Lucca brushed Cronos feet off the table, making the teenager yelp and fall backwards with a massive thud. She picked the machine up and cradled it in her arms, satisfied and showing it with a smug expression. Crono flailed helplessly, as Lucca smirked. Maybe you shouldnt know. I could just not tell you, since you dont seem to care. She remarked absently, flicking her hair back in nonchalance. He glared from the floor, then finally picked himself (and the chair) up.
Ha-ha. Im dying from the humor. Look, tears. Now cmon, Lucca.
The inventor sniffed. Bah. She paused, the nodded. Fine. But first, remember the Epoch?
Crono snorted. How could I forget? I might be getting older, Lucca, but I dont think Im senile quite yet. Lucca grimaced, and lightly smacked him over the head, ignoring his pitiful protest.
Dont get sassy. Well, remember how we couldnt get it fixed because we never had the parts? Well . . .not all of it was unusable.
Crono rubbed his head grumbling. Humph. So, what parts *are* usable, anyway?
Lucca grinned. Oh, nothing really important . . . just the gate generator . . .
She let that sink in, hoping he understood the implications. She was pleasantly surprised when he leapt up, grabbing the female gadgeteer by the shoulders. You dont mean it.
She brushed his hands away, and smiled, this time warmly. Oh, I mean it all right. Crono- She lifted the machine up proudly, its metal covering gleaming in the light from Cronos windows. -meet the new Gate Key.
But, werent the old gates sealed when Lavos died? He asked, eyeing the bauble in Luccas hands with new respect. She wagged a finger.
See, not totally. At first, I agreed with everyone else that Lavos had created the gates. But with lots of research, I found that Lavos only strengthened existing ones. The Entity that Gaspar mentioned is the real creator of the gates, at least, I think so. Anyway, the gates were weakened when Lavos died, but not destroyed. We still couldnt use the old Gate Key, but with this, we can re-open at least a Gate to the End of Time, and from there ... She left the end of the sentence dangling, letting Cronos imagination pick it up and finish it in his own way.
Hah! The boy enveloped Lucca in a bear hug. Finally we can see our old friends! Ayla, Glenn, Robo, and even Toma, Tata, and Queen Leene! Lucca, my dear, beautiful girl, you are a genius! If he seemed over excited, it was for good reason. He sorely missed his friends, even, though Crono had not mentioned him to Lucca, the arrogant Magus. But a chance to see them again . . . He turned, and whisked a small pouch off the counter. Lucca poked it.
And whats this?
Money. He grabbed the spectacled girl by the arm, and guided her to the door. Were going to celebrate, my treat.
Lucca beamed. Your first good idea in years.
Behind them, the door slammed.
* * * * *
Behind him, the door slammed. Magus shivered, standing still for a moment and letting the warm Station interior melt the icicles out of his hair. Outside, the wind screamed at the metal walls for sheltering what was to be the everlasting winters latest prey. Finished warming for now, the blue haired man stripped himself of the only things that protected him from the weathers vengeance: his red cloak and his gloves.
Without a second glance at the exit, he began walking down the huge, resonant hallways of his home, heading toward his own room. Echoes of his padded footfalls haunted the passageways, adding an eerie, unearthly depth to the building. A door made of gray metal and stone marked the entrance to his sanctuary. It was there, and only there, that he could rest and gather his scattered thoughts, as well as regain lost mana. He was using up his mana to the point of complete exhaustion a lot, lately, mainly because his rations were running out, and he had to depend on magick to keep himself from starving to death.
Inside his room now, Magus allowed the slightest amount of emotion, disgust, to show on his face. Hed find some way to survive, always did. It wasnt good to start thinking such weak thoughts. Glancing around the spartan room to distract himself, Magus took in its appearance, something hed did often. It was good to know your environment well. In the corner, a small, uncomfortable bunk. The only other piece of furniture, an open self that held his few belongings: pouch, some tonics, jerky, ethers, and Schalas pendant. Magus found, amazingly, his stoic shell dropping at the sight of the object, allowing his true visage through. Instead of the insolent, stony faced image he projected, any onlookers would see a tired, lonely man making a tired, lonely appearance. Without thinking, he let his hand wander to his own version of the pendant hanging around his neck. Schalas gift was the thing that meant the most to him, now.
His sisters remains had been buried 7 days previous, beneath what remained of Mt. Woe. Thinking back, Magus was repulsed at the image of carrying back that last remaining traces of Schala, though at the time, he hadnt been thinking very much at all about anything but the waking nightmare vision of his sister slowly starving, or bleeding, or suffocating to death, waiting for a brother who would not come.
Magus sat on his bed, and let his mind wander. The previous train of thought instantly picked up speed. How could he, the Great Magus, ruler of Mystics, Prince of Zeal, ever have been so foolish to believe that there could have been hope for his sister, and, indirectly, for himself? Shouldnt his troubles have taught him by now that the joy was a place barred to him forever? He was, and always will be, the All-Powerful, All-Vengeful Magus, a terror to everyone that existed on this miserable rock. Schala, Schala, Schala. Wouldnt you be pleased with your dear Janus now, hmm? A raving mass murderer. For, in Magus mind, a murderer he was. A cold hearted killer. A self-serving, cruel bastard. A traitor who wouldnt even save his own sister, he was so blinded by vengeance . . . The glittering, stained blade of his scythe beckoned invitingly out of the corner of his eye, taunting and whispering promises of a world without pain, hate, love. Magus paused, his brow furrowing, before he shook his head. No. Killing himself would do nothing.
Except save others from your future deeds . . . The wizard jumped, startled by the intenseness of the concept, and the voice that accompanied it. He realized, suddenly, that he was mumbling denials into the empty air. A little embarrassed, even though there was no one there to witness his slip, he lashed out his mind, heaving the scythe into the air and out the door. Compose yourself. He ordered mentally. Immediately, the suicidal fantasies dissipated from his mind, pushed back by more immediate things, like the urge to sleep.
Magus grasped the idea, casting a low-grade sleep spell so he wouldnt be troubled by trademark nightmares hed had since he was Janus. He began to drift off, feeling his eyelids grow heavier and heavier till they finally shut of their own accord, and he then, finally, slept.
* * * * *
Krimla was pleased. Very pleased. He was serving Master well, yes, well, and maybe now Krimla would get treat, hmm, treat, like warm meat, treat for good, obedient Krimla.
Youll get nothing if you dont keep your eyes on the Wizard, wretch.
Krimla resisted a strangled whimper that was oozing its way out of his scarred throat, and instead craned his long neck to peer at the sleeping one. Yes. Krimla good. Watch wizard for long time, many hurt-lights, many sweet-darks, too. Wizard no know Krimla there. Quiet, still, good Krimla was. Krimla sure of treat for Krimla, good, obedient Krimla, treat . . .
* * * * *
Asinine whelp. Thought Mirven in annoyance. Good slaves were so hard to acquire these days. Even with power like his. Krimla had been a failed experiment, sent to Mirven as a gift to make good use of. The twisted figure had once been a highly intelligent warrior, agile in both mind and body. The mind, unfortunately, would not yield before it could be broken, and then the tests had warped the rest of him, till he was good for nothing but eating and watching, spying.
Mirven redirected his focus to the image before him of the resting mage. They had been following Janus, or Magus, for quite a long time now. In fact, theyd been on him ever since hed began his silly quest for his sister, right after the defeat of Lavos.
*That*, Mirven grimaced, had been their greatest failure to date. Such an embarrassment, actually, that all involved in the Lavos Crusade had been imprisoned in a particularly unpleasant sector of Dimensional Limbo. But, one good thing did come out of it. Magus, the greatest mage existing on that worthless world, had been brought to the Hunters attention as a possibility. To be truthful, if the damned man hadnt softened up, he would have been an excellent ace up their sleeve, even, perhaps, a candidate for the position of Hunter himself. Unfortunately, he had gone soft, so as it was, the Hunters would be forced to use his Magick in another way: by admitting it into the Vault.
Ese. he said, not taking his eyes off the floating ball that held the image of the sorcerer. Has the amulet been prepared yet?
A scantily clad call girl dropped to her knees in front of the Hunters throne, quivering. Yes, my Lord. she answered, her voice tight with fear. Shall I fetch it?
Hmm? Mirven tore his yellow and black eyes from the hovering image, to the girl curled up in submission by his feet. He was annoyed by the fact that he had to use words on her, but the psychic venom that usually accompanied his telepathic messages corroded minds, and he didnt yet wish to lose such a marvelous toy like Ese. Playthings should be cared for, or they wouldnt remain in working condition. No, my dear. He answered at last. A slender, tan finger lifted her chin to meet his eyes. Her own, emeralds, dropped in respect. Mirven chuckled in amusement. Let Azile take care of that. I do wish, however, for my traveling supplies to be prepared. Can that be done for me?
She nodded. Yes, my Lord.
He dropped her chin, and leaned back into the chair. With a snap of the fingers, the picture of Magus disappeared. Good girl. Very good girl.
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