Nature of the Enemy Part 2
"Our destiny changes with our thought; we shall become what we wish to
become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thought corresponds with
- Orison S. Marder
"Frog," Tata called out, a moment before he turned around, expertly placing his feet on separate rungs of the ladder, even as his arms were curled around a large pile of wood blocks. "I'm back. I've got the fire wood."
However, as he descended, he quickly realized that there was no light coming from below, meaning there was no candle, meaning that Frog wasn't home. Quietly, he cursed and managed to shift the fire wood to one arm, while using the other arm to hold on to the ladder. Slowly, he made his way down, routinely counting the steps from memory toward the bottom, so he wouldn't overcompensate and drop the wood when his foot finally hit solid earth.
Sighing in relief as he landed firmly, Tata turned to the side and bent over, carefully setting down the load of fire wood. The planks clanked loudly, but Tata was relieved to hear no sound of glass breaking. The young knight-in-training decided to stand in place for a while, but soon decided against that. No matter how old he was, he had never completely gotten over his fear of the dark, and waiting unseen for the return of a highly skilled, and sometimes jumpy, warrior wasn't the best idea.
With a weary sigh, he grabbed ahold of the ladder, ascending back up, taking a breath of fresh, warm air as he rose out of the stale hole in the earth. Surprisingly warm. It was nearing the season of summer, now, several months after his first encounter with the Sorcerer. It wouldn't be too long before all the birds in this forest rose from wherever they had left to, and returned. Considering how warm this day was, Tata was surprised that the birds had not returned already, but he supposed that the birds didn't fancy it late enough in the year to leave yet.
Bored, the warrior pulled out his sword, and started slicing through the air, for his daily routine. Obviously, these patterned attacks and retreats would be ineffective in a real duel, for they were too rigid, allowing no change in tactics. Occasionally, Tata enjoyed randomly slicing, parrying, and stabbing the air, but he had slowly realized that such an exercise would teach him nothing. The routine was designed to condition his response to certain attacks.
Overhead slash. Downward parry. Left-to-right slash. Turn. Over-head back guard. Spin to left. Right-to-left chop. Tata continued onward, attacking enemies who didn't exist. Or, perhaps they do, he thought as he slashed at an imaginary image of the spiked head of the Sorcerer. He smiled tightly as the entire top of the head exploded in a shower of blood and bone.
That takes care of the main threat. Now for the other two, he thought, as he slashed his sword at an image of Marle, the sword ripping through her skin at the right shoulder, and cutting downward, snapping imaginary ribs, until it came out above the left hip.
Next, he turned to a nonexistent Lucca. His jaw set in silent anger, he stabbed forward, the sword plunging deep into her stomach. Ignoring the surprised expression on the impaled phantom's face, he brought pulled the blade upwards, the sharp steel cutting through her body like butter, until it finally exited through her throat.
Tata finally stopped, his breath heavy. He found himself looking around for other enemies, but found none. Ignoring the transparent bodies littering the ground around him, the placed his sword, the blade of which only looked to him like it was soaked in blood, back in the sheath on his back.
He took a deep breath as all of these ghosts faded from his sight. He'd gotten over his anger, for now. But he could never truly rid himself of it. It was what gave him a fighting edge. He knew Frog shared this anger, but Frog had a cooler head than Tata. And neither of them would ever be satisfied until Crono, his cohorts, and the entire army of the Thunder Bearers, lay dead and dying at their feet.
He smiled. That day is coming.
Treiss Vorigno sighed deeply.
It was happening again. He missed his wife. Even after seven years, he missed his wife. Sometimes, he would dream of living with her again, on their simple farm, but it was not to be. She was a Guardian, and he was a Thunder Bearer. Not a terribly important one, but a Thunder Bearer nonetheless.
Well, to be more specific, he was a Ice Bearer, but all those who lived under Lord Crono had taken the name Thunder Bearer, regardless of their magical element. As far as Treiss could tell, it was because Lord Crono himself was of the element of Thunder. As a result, the most powerful generals and commanders were often of the element of Thunder.
There were, of course, exceptions, just like with every rule. Lucca, for instance, the head technical advisor. And there was also Lady Marle, Lord Crono's... well, Treiss assumed they were married, but no mention of her as his wife was ever mentioned, so he simply accepted that they were closer than just master and servant.
But then again, many of the Thunder Bearers felt a kinship with Lord Crono, all of them having met him personally at one time or another. Everyone saw something in him, something visionary, something strong. He was someone who would change the world. Perhaps the universe.
At first, when Treiss had first had the dream, the Dream of the Element, he had dismissed it nonsensical. But, like many, he soon found it to be reality, and had thus migrated to the lands of the Mystics. Of course, he hadn't wanted to leave his wife behind, but she had not had the dream, and Treiss had known that only those who had the dream were worthy of bearing magic.
Personally, Treiss couldn't tell what had separated him from so many other people, that made him worthy to bear magic. According to Lord Crono, there was a special strength of character involved, and the requirement was different for each person. For instance, a person who was willing to give everything over to a single battle, including their lives, might be worthy of the gift of Fire. Then again, they might not be. There were many variables involved, many of which Treiss didn't understand. He really didn't know why he was of the element of Ice. Perhaps he'd find out one day.
But he sure missed his wife.
"Sverlxtas," the bartender asked as the Mystic warrior sat down at the bar stool.
Slash shook his head as he drummed his fingers on the wood of the bar. "Clar... Ghroengen? Rtahs flurk zdorkif," he replied in the native language of the mystics, holding up three fingers.
"Froinjin," a voice from behind the swordsman asked, using the human pronunciation of 'Ghroengen'. The voice continued, "Dost thou really need three glasses of it? Thour't likely to pass out before thou giv'th me mine information."
Slash shrugged as Frog sat down on the stool next to him. "Wykren right, I need it. I've had a hard day. This whole 'marching' thing is overrated. But 'Lord' Crono wants us to at least pretend that the humans are close to being our magical equals. Just because some human can't cast his way out of a glornin' paper bag, I've got to stop hovering around."
Frog sighed. "Thou certainly enjoy'st thine cursing when off-hours."
Slash nodded as he shot down a glass of the extremely potent, pink alcoholic drink. "Ah, be quiet. We're all adults here. No one cares if I say wykren, glorn, vporp, or any other dras like that. You got a problem with it, you don't need to be sittin' here."
Frog shook his amphibian head. No one thought strangely of him, of course; this was a Mystic bar. If you weren't human, you were okay. And Frog was considered far enough from human to be Mystic. "Fine," the knight replied. "If thou must lessen thine vocabulary by relying on such words, do so. Thine choice of words is not the reason for this discussion."
"True enough," Slash replied, downing his second of three glasses. "All right, here's the deal. The next target is Giant's Claw island. There's a deposit of Greenrock there. It's weird. I don't ever remember Magus going for Greenrock."
Frog shrugged. "Crono claimeth he improved upon Magus' spells somewhat. P'raps he found the original ingredients less than desirable."
"Maybe. But I don't care what anybody says: Magus was a far better wizard than that snot-nosed kid will ever be. Dras, at least Magus looked like a Mystic. Crono's so human it makes my skin crawl."
Frog shrugged. "Still, Crono is rather powerful in his own ways." For a moment, there was silence. Then, "So, how fare'th Flea? She is well, I presume?"
"Yeah, Flea's okay. She still thinks she's a 'he'. Or perhaps he still looks like a 'she'. Either way, Flea's healthy, and seems to be enjoyin' this whole war. After all, she never much liked Guardia. But I think she's almost beginnin' to idolize Crono. I hope it doesn't go beyond that." Slash gave a small shudder at the thought.
Frog nodded, and stood. Silently, he placed a small leather bag on the bar, as Slash downed his third glass of the drink. Slash glanced down at the bag. "Tell you what: This time, keep the money. I don't need it. I'm doin' this for revenge."
When he got no response, the Mystic turned around, only to see that the Knight was no longer in the tavern. He sighed. "Son of a vporp."
"My life is a chip in your pile... ante up!"
- Setzer Gabbiani