Chrono Continuum Chapter 8
A Royal Escape
Rakin grumbled and muttered for all he was worth as a man walked behind him, jabbing a spear into him every step or so. Magus seemed not to care, and acted as if he was being escorted to a fine affair by gutter trash. Rakin had to fight laughter when he looked at the haughty expression and gait as the wizard moved along. It annoyed him that Magus wasnt jabbed once, being fast enough not to annoy the guards. Rakin gave brief thought to escape, but one look around reminded him that becoming a pincushion would probably be very uncomfortable.
Besides, he wanted to see this "Almighty One" almost as much as Magus did. I wonder if hes the one behind the time waves. Magus glanced at him, and a quiet voice came into his mind, Id bet our lives on it, Kid. That telepathic ability was really getting annoying. There appeared to be a link forming. Magus hadnt spoken telepathically before. That thought halted when they came to two huge, red, metal doors. The guards all immediately sheathed their weapons, and stepped back into a side-to-side line behind the prisoners. Magus turned to Rakin.
"I think thats their way of saying, You may enter, oh honored guests," he remarked.
"Ive found that when spoken, such invitations are much better understood."
"Indeed." He gestured to the door. "After you, Kid, Prince of Guardia."
"It would not be my pleasure, Sir Mag... Janus, but someone needs to enter, and I have a feeling it wont be you." Magus smiled slightly.
"Quite right. And Im a prince." Rakin sighed. Fodder. Thats what I am. Magus smiled again. Rakin finally pushed on the doors, and they opened quietly, if not easily. They could see many people in the large main hall before them. Many were in fine clothing, but many more were clumped together, or near well-dressed people, and often wore little more than rags. Slaves, apparently, Rakin thought. Obviously, Magus thought back at him. As they entered, most of the conversation fell silent and many people, mostly the servants, looked at the chalk-skinned man in alarm or curiosity, but most of the nobles looked at Rakin. Im more important than Magus, he wondered. Lucky for us they dont know how powerful I am, Magus responded. Rakin smiled, and thought back, How modest. Rakin noticed that the inter-thought speech was becoming clearer and more precise every time.
When every person had fallen quiet, there was a bright flash. When Rakins eyes readjusted, there was a man on the throne in simple, yet elegant clothing. He wore a red silk shirt and similar pants, held up by a blue belt. A blond ponytail could be seen hanging from the back of his head. A red cape was draped over one side. He stood and, arms raised, spoke in a loud voice that carried throughout the hall.
"Welcome, Rakin. It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person. We have many things to talk about, you and I. I would like to personally apologize for the way you were treated, but I only just found out that you were the prisoner. Please, accept our hospitality and..." He only now seemed to notice Magus. He lowered his arms and asked of all, "What is this man doing here? I didnt summon him." A form in white robes stepped forward and spoke in a cool, soothing voice, "I did, sire. We werent able to hear most of their conversation because of his shield of silence, but there were brief periods when the spell weakened. He seems to be in a situation similar to that of mine, and I thought that you might want to find the reason behind it." Rakin hadnt even known that Magus had cast a "shield of silence" in their cell. The man in front of the throne seemed to ponder that, and then continued.
"Very well, we shall see. But until then, we have a guest to welcome. Come Rakin, and whoever you are, and we shall get to know each other." He walked to a door behind his throne and entered, apparently expecting the two "guests" to follow. They began to move forward a moment later. Everyones gaze followed them, apparently surprised that this dirty teenager and this death-like man were honored guests of the Almighty One. Rakin tried to look confident , but Magus didnt even need to try. He exuded confidence. Magus looked down in true disgust at a black stain on the white floor. It wasnt disdain for lack of cleanliness, though. It was something else entirely.
As they were about to reach the door, the white robed man quickly entered before they could. Rakin shrugged inwardly and the "guests" entered. They came in to a room too dark to really see anything in. He heard a snap, and a small flame sprang into life on a candle on the center of a round table. It was enough only to illuminate the table and those who sat there. Magus sat down across the robed man without hesitation, and Rakin, very hesitantly, sat across from who he guessed was probably the Almighty One. The man frowned, and the flame grew bright enough to see perfectly, but the field of vision wasnt altered at all. They still couldnt see beyond the table. Thats new. Magus came into his mind, Thats nothing. If we survive, youll see much more amazing things.
The Almighty One (they were both pretty sure) leaned towards Magus and began to examine him. His eyebrows raised in surprised, he spoke, "By the perpetual smile of Kefka, you look just like him." Magus didnt really react. He never does, Rakin mused. Magus finally asked, "Like who?" The Almighty One ignored his question. He smiled and began, "I believe we should all be introduced. I am the Almighty One." He turned to Rakin and continued, "And exactly who are you?" Rakin wondered why he asked that when he apparently already knew his name. He answered anyway.
"I am Rakin Guardia, Prince of Guardia, a... foreign kingdom." The Almighty One nodded and turned to Magus. Magus got the hint.
"I am Prince Janus of Zeal, the destroyed kingdom. I am also known as the Magus. I am one blessed and cursed with the Black Wind, as I believe the kid is." The Almighty One looked very surprised at this. He said, somewhat amused, "Well, this should be interesting." He gestured to the white-robed man, who began to take off his hood to reveal short, blue hair and deep violet eyes. "Allow me to introduce Prince Janus of the former Zeal, and my most trusted advisor." Rakin looked back and forth between the two men. If Maguss ears were less pointed, his eyes were violet, and he wasnt so pale, their faces would look exactly alike. Rakin noticed with no small amount of satisfaction that Magus actually looked surprised for once. The other "Janus" didnt, because he seemed to already have known about it. The Almighty One turned to the short-haired man and asked, "So what situation is it that you share with this man," and turned to Magus, "and who are you, really?" He apparently knew all he needed to know of Rakin for the moment. Magus spoke first.
"I spoke no lies. Every word I told you was true." The Almighty One examined Magus for a moment, and then apparently dismissed that concern temporarily. He turned to the short-haired Janus, who began to speak, in that calm, soothing voice. Rakin realized that the only difference between Maguss and this mans voices was tone. Their voices were identical.
"My lord, you know well of my flickering. The way I will occasionally begin to lose contact with this world, and how anything other than earth or stone passes through me. I was told that, as I had one of those experiences today, there was a lapse in this mans shield of silence, and that he had apparently had a flickering as well, and that he seemed to know what it was all about." Magus looked angry at the mans speech, but thoughtful as well. Rakin guessed the shared "flickerings" were another piece of a puzzle Magus had yet to solve. The Almighty One turned to Magus.
"Janus, or Magus, was it? What do you know of these flickerings?" Magus looked into his eyes.
"Im cold. I prefer to answer personal questions fully clothed, if you dont mind." The Almighty One glanced at the white-robed Janus, who made a gesture towards Magus. There was a popping sound, and Rakin looked to see Magus with the same pants and earring, but with light leather armor over a purple shirt, and what looked like a reversible cloak that was purple on one side and red on the other. The purple side was out. A wicked-looking scythe protruded out from underneath the cape. Magus looked up and remarked, "Inanimate teleportation. Impressive." The second Janus looked a little surprised.
"I was sure I left that scythe there. I didnt teleport it along with your clothing." Magus smiled slightly.
"You could say its my version of insurance. Now, then, Ill talk. First off, I am, as is the Kid, as, Im guessing you two are, a Timestream Traveler." Only the white-robed Janus looked surprised. "Considering that, Id say that everyone in here exists somewhat out of the timestream. Now, two entities cant live in the same timeline as the other if they are the same entity, not including changes from birth. Being outside of the timestream would probably count as the same timestream if were both outside. Therefore, we either have to merge, something I dont relish, one of us has to die, the most likely possibility, or one has to move to a time period when the other has not yet or is done existing. Does that clear everything up," he finished. Janus (as the white-robed man will be known) looked surprised, again, but the Almighty One had a different reaction.
He smiled. And he began to clap. It didnt last long, but that long was all it took to thoroughly confuse everyone. Rakin noticed something in the difference of expression in the two blue-haired men. You could read Januss face like an open book, but Rakin probably wouldnt have known how Magus felt if the link wasnt there, and they werent so close. Finally, the Almighty One leaned forward, a conspiratorial look on his face. He whispered, loud enough for all to hear, "I hoped youd figure it out, Magus. Youre as intelligent as your counterpart, here, is. And, yes, Ive known who you are the entire time. I know you well. As do I know the boys father, Crono." Rakin was surprised at this revelation. He continued.
"Well, Rakin here already passed, but you just passed the test. You now have the opportunity to serve the most powerful man on the planet. If I can find Gaspar, you two could solve that problem with the flickering, and I would have two Januses, or is it Jani, as my advisors. Think of it, Rakin, and Magus. You could live eternally, not as Zeals vision, no, but as those who would bring human kind to its highest potential." He looked back and forth between his guests expectantly. Janus looked bewildered. Rakin and Magus glanced at each other and telepathically agreed on their answer. They turned to the Almighty One, and Rakin spoke, "I think not."
The Almighty One barely paid attention. He turned in his seat, and the candlelight lit up a section of the room behind him. Rakin felt the hairs of his neck raise as the (as Magus had called it) Black Wind blew softly. There were three objects there. One was a gold bowl full of jewels and gold. The next was a table with a feast beyond what was fit for a king. And the next, a bed, held two beautiful women, one a teen, and one in her thirties, both asleep, in loose, gauzy garments. He turned back to them and beckoned, "Come, riches, royal treatment, and a new woman every night if you should so desire. All of this and much, much more would be accorded to you. Why must you continue on with your quest? Serve me, give me your knowledge, and I can fight off any threats that would hurt you." Rakin not only found the third object tempting, but he could feel the Almighty Ones voice eroding his opposition. He would soon succumb.
And then a calm, calculating, coldness filled his mind and pushed back the Almighty Ones power as Maguss will forced itself into his thoughts. He shook his head, trying to clear out the feeling. Ill have to thank Magus for that later, he thought. The neutral reply came, You just did, Kid. The Almighty One seemed to know that his power might have been eluded, and asked, almost desperately, "Well?" Magus and Rakin glanced at each other again, and Rakin nodded to Magus. Ill let you answer this time.
How kind of you, Magus thought back at him. He looked straight into the Almighty Ones eyes. He spoke, slowly, "Heres our answer..."
Maguss scythe glinted brightly as he brought the blade around, and into the side of the Almighty Ones head. Rakin turned away as a spray of blood moistened his face. A strong hand grabbed his arm, and started dragging him along. He opened his eyes to see that Magus was running and dragging Rakin to the door. Janus was standing in open-mouthed shock. Magus burst through the door, and by then Rakin was up and running himself. Rakin was surprised to see that everyone was still in the main hall, as if they had nothing better to do. Many were surprised as the sight of the pale man, now fully clothed and with a bloody scythe, and the Almighty Ones guest, sprinting out of the door at full speed. Rakin hoped Magus knew what he was doing.
Theyd gotten to the center of the hall, when a man burst through the main entrance. He was wearing a red silk shirt and pants, and had a red cape. He sported a long nose and a black ponytail. He yelled out, "Stop them! They killed me!" Rakin didnt have time to ponder that, however because every person who looked like they could fight at all turned toward the two and rushed them. Magus yelled, and a wall of shadow encased them, keeping at bay any who tried to reach them. He yelled again, coherently, "Youd better do something, Kid. And I mean now!" Rakin looked around. They were surrounded all around. He didnt want to kill anyone, and thats what Magus was doing, trying to make it so no deaths would be on Rakins hands. Rakin temporarily discarded that tidbit of link-gained insight, and concentrated. Cant go left, right, forward, backward... but there are other directions.
He looked up to the ceiling. It didnt look too sturdy. He put his hands against the shadow wall. Hed seen that his power was specifically useful in using other peoples energy. He channeled his power into the shadow wall, reinforced it. He cut off Maguss control of it, and it solidified, until they couldnt even see out of it anymore. Then he let the energy go.
He and Magus rocketed upwards at an unimaginable speed, until Rakin guessed they were at the floor above, and he cut the energy flow. The darkness dissolved to reveal a wonderful view of the mountains, until Rakin and Magus slammed down onto the roof of the tower several floors above the main hall. I think I miscalculated. Magus didnt answer this time. He looked in deep concentration as they slid down the tiles, closer to a very long fall. Magus suddenly yelled out, "Get set, Kid. This aint gonna be pleasant." And he thrust his arms toward the edge. Rakin heard a weird wrrrooowwwwwwww sound and then fell off the edge, Magus right behind him. He looked down to see a hole in the light, a circle of darkness directly beneath them, that had distortions all throughout. It looked similar to the inside of a warp tunnel, only black. Rakin could feel Magus think amazed, It worked, right before he was swallowed by the darkness.
The two Mystics set the old man down gently on Melchiors bed. Where Melchior would sleep, he didnt know, but hed worry about that later. He hadnt seen this man in several or several thousand decades, and he didnt know how the man had gotten here. He remembered Crono and those two girls-no, women telling him that Gaspar was alive and at the End of Time, but Melchior still couldnt connect that to Gaspars sudden appearance. Especially the manner of his appearance. The imp had told Melchior that Gaspar had fallen out of the sky. Did it have anything to do with the time waves? Melchior sighed. He didnt know what to make of this.
Gaspars eyes fluttered open. He looked at Melchior. Melchior rushed over to him and asked, "Gaspar, are you all right?" The wrinkled man looked up at the bearded man for a moment, and then mused, "Melchior, how long do you think it takes for a paradox to strike?" And then he fell back to sleep.
"Were very hard to kill..."
Hazel DArk and Owen Deathstalker, Deathstalker Honor
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