Chrono Continuum Chapter 54
Acts of Kindness
"My daughter," Janus asked incredulously. "But... how?"
Hotwire was staring off into space. "It all makes sense now. The orphanage where I grew up said that a pale man with red eyes and long hair left me there." She held out the cape. "And I was wrapped in this. And I had on a..."
She reached for the locket that wasn't there. Suddenly, her expression turned angry. "No, that can't be right. It can't! I mean... I would have to have... magic, wouldn't I," she asked, suddenly upset at the prospect of finding her father.
Lucca could guess at why she would be upset. After all, this man was indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands. What kind of legacy was that to be passed down through the family line? She looked at him for a moment. He looked surprised, and flustered, but kind of cute. He hadn't expected this revelation any more than Hotwire had. Not one bit like Magus, she mused. He might not be so bad to have as a father, if he really was telling the truth.
"Actually," Dalton spoke up for the first time in the discussion, "you do." Everyone turned to him. "I saw it a while after I first met you, after Rakin had been revealed to be the prince. You, Parsa, and Rakin had run up to me, asking where the King and Queen went. It was then that I saw that all three of you had magic, but I didn't say anything, because I figured that if you were with Gaspar, you probably would have magic."
Hotwire's eyebrows raised in surprise. "But, that can't be. I would have noticed. It would have manifested, wouldn't it?"
"It already has," Gaspar replied. "Melchior and I both saw it when we were battling the Golems. I saw you cast a cloak spell on yourself, that I've seen Magus use."
"But, that was just my..." She didn't finish the sentence. Of course, she thought. No wonder my suit works without the helmet.
"And there was something else," Melchior piped up. "We saw you shoot lightning out of that spear of yours."
"No wonder it worked better than I had made it to, and without energy" she mused out loud. "So, I could go chameleon, or blast lightning, without gadgets..." She glanced around. "But, that doesn't prove I'm Janus' daughter, does it? I mean... I..."
She looked around. No one met her gaze, except Janus. His eyes were asking for acceptance. Hotwire stood up. "I... I... It's not true... It can't be..." She looked into his eyes. "You killed Rakin," she yelled, and fled out the front door of the cabin.
Janus stood up. "No, I didn't," he shouted at the door, even though she probably couldn't, or wouldn't, hear him. He stayed up for a moment longer, until he sat down. He looked around. "Have I even alienated the one person in my life that was not under the control of the Kingdom? My own daughter?" A single tear slipped down his cheek.
"She'll be back," Marle told him. "She has a lot to sort out right now. She has to accept the idea that her father might be someone she's hated for a long time. When she comes back, you can talk to her... If we accept your story. We're still not sure about you ourselves." She paused. "You said you didn't kill my son. Does that mean he's still alive," she asked hopefully.
He stared into her eyes for a long time. Finally, he sighed, and bowed his head. "I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know," Corea asked, agitated.
"I mean I don't know. As soon as they were captured, Valiod ordered Rakin brought to him. We were told to put Crono and Magus in 'special' cells. I didn't personally see the cells for a long time. When I finally did, that was when I first realized how truly evil Valiod, and indeed the whole Kingdom, was.
"The first I saw was Crono. He was... chained to a wall. He looked half-starved. His clothes were tattered shreds. When I walked in, he looked up at me and asked, 'So, are you here to gloat as well? Here to revel in the suffering of another?' He told me to get it over with. I stepped closer, and he flinched. Flinched! It pained me to see someone flinch from my presence. I looked at him closely. He had bruises, and cuts, everywhere but his face. Valiod had wanted everyone to know exactly who he was. I tried to comfort him, but he couldn't stand my presence, and so I left.
"Horrified at what I had seen, I found out where Magus was being kept, and snuck over there. I was equally abhorrent of what I saw there. Magus was strapped to a table. He was unconscious. A tube ran nutrients into his body, and another tube was set to take out the waste. It was obvious they wanted him to remain unconscious. And then I found out why.
"I looked him over, to find evidence of what they might be doing to him, and found that tiny wires were attached to his head, and penetrated through his skull. It was obvious to me that only one as skilled as my wife could have set up such a system, but I still didn't know why. And then I pressed a button on a device next to him. Out of the table rose a screen, similar to a television screen, from Christina's time. In a moment, it turned on. On it were things that I could barely comprehend. The images made no sense, and yet they instilled in me some deep fear, for reasons I did not understand. And then the images solidified, and I was even more horrified.
"It soon became apparent to me that these were Magus' nightmares, shown on screen. These things, although I knew them to be nothing more than apparitions on a screen, terrified me out of my wits. And yet Magus rarely seemed to register any pain, as if he was used to these things. Perhaps he was.
"I'm still not quite sure what they'd hoped to achieve by inducing nightmares. Perhaps they wanted to see how far the human mind could go before it went insane. Perhaps they were trying to see if you could kill a person with their own dreams. Or perhaps they were trying to destroy his mental fortitude, so that they could control him. I tend to think that they did it out of sheer maliciousness. But, whatever the reason, I couldn't stand it any more. I decided to do something about it.
"I noticed that there was an anti-magic field maintained in the room, so I pulled out my spear, and threw it through the screen, shattering it. I'd never even thought of the danger involved in that act, for me, or for Magus. Being pulled so abruptly from a never-ending nightmare was like a physical shock to Magus. He went into a sort of seizure. I tried to bring him out of the room, so I could heal him in body, and possibly in mind, but I didn't get a chance. Several guards came into the room. I told them that I'd tried to rescue this man, that some person had put him in this room, and that I'd tell Valiod. Valiod would fix things.
"They glanced at eachother, and began to laugh. They laughed! They asked me whom, exactly, I thought had ordered for Magus to be put here. I couldn't accept it. The Almighty One would never order such a thing to be done, I told them. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong. Valiod was capable of such a thing, and probably wouldn't hesitate to do so.
"They just continued laughing for a few moments. After they'd had enough, one of them pulled out a crossbow. I asked him what he was going to do with it. 'This,' he replied. And he shot me in the chest."
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort
and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
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