Chrono Continuum Chapter 41
Hello, everyone. This is Cain. Now some of you may have guessed that this story, unless I add some super-long chapters, is too long for 50 chapters. I would appreciate opinions from all of you on that subject. Should I lengthen chapters to stay in the 50's, or should I just stick with my normal chapter size and exceed the accepted limit? Please give me feedback, people.
"Yeah," the drunk man almost yelled, "well, Mr., Mr... Pale guy," he paused to take another drink of his beer, "I bet you can't hold half the liquor I can," he boasted.
Magus glanced at him, disgusted. This man's breath was awful. He must've been in this bar for days straight. Magus would normally have used a spell to catch his arm on fire, just to scare the guy off, but he now lacked the magic even to do that. Instead, he nodded in agreement, and replied, "You're right. But with your stomach, I can't hold half of what you can with any substance."
The man blinked stupidly for a moment, and then burst out laughing, slapping Magus on the back several times. In a moment, the man passed out on the counter, his arm still around the wizard's shoulders. Magus pushed the man's arm off of him, and moved to another seat. Now, he could think about where he'd get lodging. He only had about 300 gold pieces on him, and that wouldn't be enough for rest, about a week's worth of food, and supplies, unless he could find them all really cheap. Or he stole more money. When the bar door swung open, he didn't really notice, nor did he turn around when the new person yelled in rage. But when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he immediately turned to see who felt like getting his hands cut off.
The man was huge, built like a bull. And his fists were clenched in preparation for a fight. But, it was his face that caught Magus' attention. It was familiar. In fact, Magus soon matched it up with someone he'd once met. "Toma," he stated.
The man blinked, but his rage didn't seem to dissipate. He put his fists on his hips. "Well, you know my name, stranger, but you seem to have missed the fact that you're sitting in my seat" Indeed, when Magus glanced behind himself, he saw the name scratched onto the surface of the counter with a sharp knife. He also noticed that the bartender looked like he was trying to blend in with the wall.
He turned back to Toma, and asked, "And...?"
Toma blinked again. Apparently, this Toma wasn't as bright as his alternate. He replied, "And nobody sits in my seat... Well, except me... So you have a choice. We can rumble in here, or we can take it outside. Your choice." He crossed his arms, confident.
Magus raised an eyebrow. "Why does it matter where I beat you?"
Toma looked as if he was about to repeat the choices, and then he got the last response. He turned red as an apple, and roared. Perhaps, Magus thought, that wasn't very smart of me. Toma, surprisingly fast, grabbed Magus underneath the tunic, and threw him across the room, through the door of the bar. Magus slammed into a tree outside. As Magus opened his eyes, three giant Tomas came out of three spinning doors. No, Magus answered himself, not very smart at all.
Epoch pulled out of the warp, with a loud scream accompanying the usual flash. As the ship landed roughly in a forest, a voice yelled from inside, "What the hell was that!?"
Rakin didn't answer, the stress from nearly being killed finally getting to him. He groaned, and sighed at the same time, sinking into his seat. Hotwire, however, jumped out and looked around. Trees, everywhere, with brush all over. She looked up. Birds, chirping. No jets flying off to bomb the legions of the Kingdom. It was like she was in another world. She turned back to the ship, to see Rakin jump out. He looked around, smiled, and took a deep breath, glad to be back home. Hotwire, however, was a different story. "Where are we," she asked, rather desperately.
Rakin shrugged. "Home," he replied. Hotwire was about to give him a verbal berating, when another voice interrupted, "Where am I?"
Rakin turned back to the ship, to see the young woman he had rescued earlier sitting up, looking around. Rakin glanced at her, and back at Hotwire. He sighed. Okay. First off, we are now in the year 1020 AD." He looked at the two to see any reaction. There wasn't. He continued, "Epoch, over there, is a time machine. I am a time traveler, from this year. I, and others like myself, are trying to stop a man called the Almighty One. I am Rakin Guardia, and before the Almighty One took over the year 11,998 BC, I was the prince of Guardia, which was the main kingdom here at the time." He looked to the two again to see their reactions.
The woman in the sweater blinked, and replied, "You're kidding, right?"
Hotwire stood silent for a moment, and then smiled. "I wish I could say that I did believe that wasn't true. But I can't think of any other explanation myself." She sat down against a tree, trying to absorb it. Rakin was about to go to her, but he turned at a thump behind him. The woman in Epoch had tried to climb out and had fallen on her behind. She got up, and her eyes opened wide.
"I recognize you," she thought out loud, "you're the guy who told those thugs to leave me alone. What happened there?"
Rakin shrugged. "I kicked their butts. And when they tried to come after me and her," he pointed to Hotwire, "I..."
"Killed them," Hotwire finished for him. When the woman looked at her, surprised, she continued, "Completely incinerated them. Saved my life, or at least my body. Although the real trouble came when the Kingdom started searching the city for him."
The woman's eyes opened wider. "You're joking. Is this for real?"
Rakin nodded. "Yes it is. And I owe you an apology. A full third of the city was destroyed, and a lot of people were killed, all because I stumbled into your city." For a moment all was silent, until he continued. "And even if I stop the Almighty One before he takes control of the world, which will most likely happen, from what I've seen, your world, your present, will cease to exist."
Hotwire stood up. "What do you mean, 'cease to exist'?"
He sighed. "Your timeline isn't true. The Almighty One wasn't ever supposed to appear in history, and the Kingdom wasn't ever supposed to have been formed. Therefore, the war that you were involved in, and any previous wars, were never supposed to occur. Thus, your entire history is false. If I can return everything to the way it was, I will wipe out your lives as they were, and replace them with something completely different. One, or both of you, might not have even been born in that timeline, and if I returned you after this was all over, neither of you would recognize it as your world."
Hotwire took a step forward. "So you saved our lives, but in the process, you cut us off from our world?" When Rakin nodded, she continued, "And if you succeed, our world will die, or leave, or whatever, and be replaced by another?" After a moment, she asked, "And what would this new world be like?"
Rakin suddenly thought of something. "Better. In the seventh century there will be a war, but other than that, our history will mostly be peaceful. There will be no Kingdom to live in fear of, no more continuous, never-ending war."
Now, the woman in the sweater stepped up. "The world you're trying to achieve sounds like a worthy cause."
"Besides," noted Hotwire, "life back home was Hell, anyway. We've already had our lives taken away from us by the Kingdom before you did it to us, personally. And since we've already paid the price, why not help make our world better? We may not have a place in it, but there'll be peace for everyone, despite the fact that they wouldn't know how close they'd come to constant war. Besides," she added in, so as not to seem too altruistic, "I've wanted to kick each and every ass in the Kingdom personally for a long time."
Rakin smiled. "Wow. You're going to help me, Hotwire?"
His expression grew serious. "It'll be dangerous."
She smiled. "Why are you trying to scare me off. I thought your dad taught you to take every oppurtunity to be around a beautiful woman."
He smiled again, and turned to the other woman. "Well, what about you?"
She shrugged slightly. "Other than using mace, I don't really know anything about fighting, but I'd be glad to do what I could for you... and your friends."
Rakin nodded. "Thanks." He raised an eyebrow. "You can use a mace? You don't look that strong."
Hotwire laughed. "Yeah, you're definitely from the past. We'll explain it all later to you."
He nodded again. His neck was getting tired. "One more thing. What's your name? We can't go around calling you the brown-haired girl in the tight shirt, or the brown-eyed girl in the small skirt... right?" He held up a finger to stifle a sarcastic remark from Hotwire.
"What," the woman asked, holding her palms up slightly in a gesture that said What as well, "don't you like either of them," she finished, indicating her shirt and skirt.
"Uh... that's beside the point," Rakin replied. "What's your name," he repeated.
"It's Lauren. Lauren Mandall."
Rakin nodded. "Thank you. Now then, we need to find my dad... tomorrow. It's a bit late now. We'll need some firewood-"
Lauren interrupted him. She raised her right hand and volunteered, "I'll get some." She did a little jump from excitement, and scurried off into the woods to get it.
"...Ooookaaaaaay. Well, that settles that." Shrugging, he went over to sit by Hotwire, who had gone back to the sitting position when Lauren had run off. He turned his head to her. "Well she's... perky..."
Hotwire glanced at him. "To say the least. Hey, did you take a look at her palm?"
"Palm. When she raised it."
"Uh... no, I..."
"You were probably paying more attention to that little hop she did." She ignored Rakin's blush and continued, "There was something written there, in big letters. You could easily read it if you were close enough... and if that's the body part you were looking at at the time."
"Crib notes," Rakin suggested.
Hotwire laughed a little. "If she was that desperate, she could probably bat her big brown eyes at the teacher and get an A anyway."
Magus was getting really fed up with not being able to use magic. Especially when you were in a fist fight with the biggest, dumbest, unreasoning thing on two legs. Magus let out a loud grunt as Toma's powerful left hand slammed into his gut again. Magus fell to his hands and knees, and Toma flexed his muscles. In the background, visitors of the bar were standing around, laughing at the brawl, and betting on who would win. Most were betting on Toma, unsurprisingly. Magus would in their situation.
Magus looked up to see the brute towering over him. Toma let out a roar, and brought both fists down toward Magus' back. The wizard, in a moment of inspiration, let his arms bend at the elbows, and tucked his head down, so that he rolled between Toma's legs. Magus finished the roll on the hands-and-knees position again, and kicked high behind him, striking the mountain of muscle in the lower back, and pushing him headfirst into a tree.
In a moment, both were back on their feet. Toma roared in rage, and charged Magus. Magus, acting quickly, dropped down onto his back again, and held his legs up. When the brute ran into his feet, Magus pushed upwards, and Toma continued sailing over him, crashing into the bar and making a hole in the wall with his head. After a moment, he pulled himself back up and charged Magus again. But something was different.
The glint of moonlight off a metal object was all Magus needed to know, and his scythe was out, flashing similarly, and against the brute's throat. A small knife dropped out of the meaty hand, and Toma stood completely still. That scythe looked very sharp, and quite deadly. All of the drinkers were silent now that the brawl had become something else.
"One move," Magus hissed, "and I kill you." Toma began to sweat profusely. Magus continued, "Maybe I should kill you anyway. After all, we can't have rude people fighting others over something so trivial as a seat in a bar."
Toma nodded slightly. "You're right. I shouldn't fight people over somethin' so triv... I won't fight nobody else. I'm sorry."
Magus nodded, and smiled, somewhat frighteningly. He leaned forward, putting pressure on the beefy neck with his blade. "That's good to know, Toma. I'm glad you've learned your lesson." And in a flash, the handle of the scythe swung around into Toma's temple. The brute fell heavily.
Magus walked over to the bet-taker. "Am I entitled to any of that money," he asked, referring to the money bet against him. The man nodded, nervous, and gave him 150 gold pieces. Magus counted them, thanked the man, and walked back into the bar.
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