Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 29

King Zeal

By Crono_12

As soon as Marle had finished telling her adventures, I told my story and this time I didn’t leave out Tsern. I told them about him and the pedfi and the Guardian and the poison plant and the fight with Tsern and everything in between, including Fate’s foretelling of the future. In the end, they were just as amazed as I was when I heard their story.

"I hope our friends on Earth are ok. We barely survived the first Lavos attack," Male mused.

"I guess now the question is, how do we get back home?" Lucca asked all of us.

"I told you earlier, I know a ship that is big enough to fit all of us and the Aeon, and can get to Earth before King Zeal. We just need to fix it."

"What? You mean the Ephemeral?" Lucca said incredulously.

"Yeah. That way, we keep our promise to that ghost, and we get to Earth in record time," Cid cut in.

"Hello! Aire to Cid! We’re going to have to lug the Heaven’s Drive up the Tower!" Ecin shouted rudely.

"Now you see the only problem. But, I’m betting we’ll be able to find an elevator or something."

"Yeah, sure, whatever. But if I have to carry that…thing, it’s going to get a few kicks on the way up." Ecin grumbled. Lucca ruffled his wild hair playfully.

"For every dent and scratch I have to find and fix, there’ll be one on you that Marle’ll have to heal," Lucca threatened jokingly. Ecin grumbled more, but his words weren’t loud enough to understand.

"Then it’s settled. We have to go to the Chrono-Temporal Tower," I said.

"Fine. But not before you and Cid finish teaching me how to use a sword."

"Use a sword? I thought you liked your crossbow."

"Well, after we left you in Zeal palace, I sorta had Cid promise that he’d teach me to use a sword. I still want to learn."

I shot a sideways look at Cid, who grinned sheepishly. Grinning myself, I stood up, unsheathed my sword, and then said, "I’m ready whenever you are."

* * *

I woke up the next morning to the sound of the earth quaking. Feeling more relaxed than yesterday, I stood up quickly, but realized that it had stopped. I relaxed and told myself it was my imagination. Suddenly, Cid and the others were roused by an even greater noise and shaking.

"Lucca, do you know what’s going on?" Marle shouted.

"No idea!" Lucca shouted back over the noise.

"It sounds like…the Ephemeral!"

"You mean that ship you were talking about?" Lucca asked.

"No, the other one!" Ecin jeered, obviously still angry at being awaken so rudely.

"If it’s the Ephemeral, who’s piloting it?" I shouted. To my surprise, the shaking stopped.

"King Zeal. He intends to get to Earth! We must stop him," Schala told me. I nodded in response.

"Come on! We might be able to catch him before he leaves," I ordered. No one bothered telling me that he couldn’t leave without the Heaven’s Drive.

We filed into the Aeon and took off in the direction of the sound.

* * *

"That’s…huge. That is the biggest thing I’ve seen in my entire life!" I gazed in awe as the tower rose out of the ground in front of me. We had arrived at the Tower, but the sounds had stopped for some time and the King was nowhere to be found. The Ephemeral, however, had not been moved an inch.

"Try standing next to it Crono. The thing is gigantic," Kain said.

"Why didn’t the King take it?" Marle asked.

"Because he doesn’t have the Heaven’s Drive installed," Cid told her. He then turned to me.

"Crono, land the ship and let’s find that engine. Maybe we can beat King Zeal to the ship."

"It won’t stop him. He and Ibleess will find some other way of getting to Earth," Schala pointed out.

"However, it will slow him down, and the Ephemeral is our only way of getting home," she continued.

"All right then. Let’s find the Heaven’s Drive and get going," I said as I piloted the Aeon to where Marle and the others had seen the ghost.

"So how do we get that thing up there?" Ecin asked once we had landed.

"There’s probably an elevator in the Tower that was made for lifting heavy things. Or, we can attach it to the Aeon and lift it up to the Ephemeral," Cid suggested.

"I say we tie it to the Aeon. I don’t think any elevator would be working after so long," Marle said.

"I agree," Kain said. "That way, I don’t have to lift it."

"Still thinking about yourself, Kain?" Ecin jeered. Kain ignored him.

"I don’t know if the Aeon can carry that much weight," Lucca said.

"I can help with my pendant. I don’t know how much though. Balthasar’s Wings are heavier than I remember them," Schala said.

I was about to suggest a vote when an explosion threw the others and me to the ground. We climbed back onto our feet and spun around.

"Surrender immediately and I will spare your lives!" a menacing voice shouted, sending shivers of memory down my spine.

"Zeal…" I whispered.

Standing between the massive tower and my friends was King Zeal, dressed in flowing red, blue, and gold colored robes. His face was still as hard and as indifferent as ever, but I thanked everything and everyone I knew that I wasn’t the only one who suffered his gaze.

"Well? What is your response?" He commanded.

"Never. We will never surrender," I shouted back.

"Then you are all fools. The power of Ibleess is millions of times more than that of Lavos. None of you are strong enough to face him."

I was about to speak, but Kain shoved me out of the way.

"Shut up! SHUT UP! I’ve spent all of my life hearing these lies, how no one can defeat Ibleess and that we all should just lie down and get trampled. Well, no more. I’ve had enough of it! In the past several days, I’ve seen things done than armies couldn’t do. I’ve seen the Terra-Fortress fall. I’ve seen Ibleess himself get defeated. And I’ve survived all of it. Don’t even think for a second that we’ll just lie down again ‘cause I can’t. Not after what I’ve seen," Kain shouted. I took a few steps away from him; he looked like he was about to explode.

"Kain, you were a promising soldier. And now you betray me? Why?"

"Because I know we can WIN! You made a very big mistake when you tried to crush humans. You don’t realize that we can’t be crushed! There will always be someone there. It’s a pity you’re not human anymore, otherwise, you would know what I’m talking about," Kain spat.

"Wait a minute. He’s not human anymore?" Lucca asked incredulously.

"Yeah. Only the Special Operations forces of Zeal know that. He gave up his soul to Ibleess in exchange for immortality. Well, he got it. But what’s a human without his soul?"

"Oh my…mother…is this what you would have become?" Schala whispered.

"You speak of the strength of the human spirit. Well, where is it now? I only see ruin and destruction and a handful of people starving and dying and wishing they had never offered any resistance to Lavos or Ibleess," the King replied with the same contempt that drove Kain’s words.

"You want to know where the human spirit is? It’s with us. Or rather, we’re its representatives. And so far, the human spirit’s defeated everything you’ve thrown against it," I shouted.

"You seven are the human spirit? Don’t make me laugh. You seven going against two gods, rag dolls revolting against their maker. You are too puny, too weak, and too slow to make a difference. But still, if you think you are strong enough to fight, fight we shall. I shall simply have to create new dolls to play with!" he shouted. Immediately, balls of fire sprouted from his up turned palms and flew at us. I flung myself out of the line of fire and launched an arc of lightning at him. Electricity is supposed to travel at slightly less than the speed of light, which means that it’s the most difficult magic to dodge, much less deflect. I’ve only seen a few people handle it quickly enough. King Zeal, much to my shock and horror, deflected my lightning bolt back at me. I dodged again and charged him with my sword, weaving my way through the fireballs and rocks he launched at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cid and Kain following my lead. All three of us reached King Zeal and swung our weapons at him at the same time. However, by the time we finished our strokes, he had vanished.

"What…?" I breathed.

"Would you like another attempt?" King Zeal’s voice came from behind us.

All three of us spun around to face him. The monarch was floating in the air between the three of Marle’s group and us. All seven of us readied our weapons and were about to attack when Zeal made his move. He threw his hands up in the air, robes billowing as if being buffeted by a hurricane. The world darkened, save a pale orb hanging high in the heavens.

"Full Moon…" I whispered, recognizing the spell.

"What’d you say?" Kain asked. Milliseconds later, the world melted in a haze as the Moon started its spell. I fought a losing battle for control over my senses, knowing that this could be the only spell King Zeal needed to kill us. Suddenly, black rays of light lashed out of the Moon, smashing into us. Each ray blasted me back until I collapsed at the base of Chrono-Temporal Tower. The final phase of the spell now burst into effect, shattering the moon into a million pieces and sending the shards into each of us. I closed my eyes and grimaced, expecting the shards to strike at any moment. Seconds passed and nothing happened, and I opened my eyes cautiously. Hovering fractions of an inch from my face were the many shards of the moon, seemingly stopped in time. I got to my feet carefully and searched for the cause of the interruption. My gaze fell on a figure standing only a few yards from Zeal, a brilliant nimbus around her: Schala. Quickly, I moved out of the shards’ path and not a moment too soon; the shards resumed their path and crashed into the Tower. I glanced at Schala again and noticed the nimbus had faded away. Even from this distance, I heard King Zeal talking to her.

"Daughter, is this the thanks I deserve for offering you immortality?"

"Father, this is wrong. Destroying whole worlds just to show your strength is not right. Stop now, please," Schala begged.

Schala’s conversation with her father was all I needed to strike back. I was about to cast TriLuminescence, but Kain and Cid stopped me in mid-spell.

"Three are better than one, Crono. Let’s join spells," Cid suggested.

"Any combination suggestions, Cid?" Kain asked.

"I wouldn’t have suggested a combination without one. Listen," Cid said, then he briefly explained the triple-tech.

"I got it. Ready?" I asked. Both nodded.

"Then on three. One. Two. Three!" I shouted in a whisper. As soon as they heard the count, Kain began to sprint toward King Zeal and Cid started casting a spell. The argument between Zeal and Schala began heating up, and I could hear them shouting. Twenty paces from Zeal, Kain leaped into the air, high above Zeal’s head. At the same moment, Cid finished his spell and crossed two fingers from each hand in front of his chest. A spectacular beam of light rushed toward the metal head of Kain’s outstretched spear. The beam hit the point and was absorbed, making the spear glow as brightly as Aire’s sun. As Kain started to come down, the spearhead started to emit bolts of electricity. Kain was halfway down when the other half of the spell began. I rushed Zeal with what seemed to be a normal attack. This time, ten paces before I was at King Zeal, Cid fired a lightning bolt at my sword, supercharging it. Kain and I hit at the same time; Kain brought his spear down onto King Zeal, but the spear only pierced the monarch’s robes. However, the electricity absorbed coursed through him. My sword attack was no more damaging, but as soon as my final attack touched the king, lighting exploded in all directions, flinging Kain, Schala, and me back. My trip through the air seemed to take forever. When I sensed myself nearing the ground, I flipped myself over, landing on my feet. King Zeal lay on the ground in a mess of cloth, while Lucca and Marle were rushing to Schala. Ecin and Cid were helping Kain to his feet. I looked back again at the King and noticed he was getting up.

"Kill him Crono. Put him out of his misery. He cannot be saved any longer," Schala urged.

I nodded, then spun around to face Tsern.

"Guys, it’s not over!" I shouted. They all turned to look at the former man as he rose from the ground and started hovering again.

"Perhaps I misjudged you. But I assure you I do not repeat mistakes. Prepare yourselves," King Zeal warned.

Cid, Kain, Ecin, and I all rushed the monarch at the same time, but the arrows from Marle’s Valkyrie and the blast from Lucca’s Wondershot beat us to him. Or rather, forced him to move out of their way, and coincidentally, out of ours. I followed him with my finger, then fired a lightning bolt at him as soon as he stopped. He moved again, faster, then stopped for a moment to gloat as he brought his hand up and blocked a bolt of electricity from Cid. Zeal was off again, darting between us seven. None of our shots came close, and we only succeeded in wasting mana. Suddenly, King Zeal appeared in front of me and swung a small dagger. Only sharpened instincts told me to stumble back before it cut me. By the time I regained my balance and counterattacked, he had zoomed off to another position, grinning maliciously at me. Suddenly, his grin disappeared as his robes erupted into flames. Lucca had cast a fire spell and targeted it perfectly.

King Zeal fell to the ground in a howl of anguish, rolling around to extinguish the flames. Cid and I both struck with lightning at the same time, starting more fires over previously extinguished areas.

"Cid, summon Titan!" I shouted to him. He nodded and muttered the words to unlock the spell. Instantly, the ground shook and a muscled brute with fists the size of my leg suddenly appeared. The giant cried out to the heavens then slammed his fists into Zeal, cleaving the earth below the monarch and sending him plummeting to his doom. The shaking and tearing subsided and the giant disappeared, leaving the world unbearably calm. We slowly approached the chasm, cautious of what could happen. No one broke the silence, yet we all hoped that someone would. Minutes passed, and we all let out our collective breaths.

"Well, I guess that means he’s gone. Now we only have to defeat Ibleess," Lucca stated as she peered down into the infinite. The ground rumbled as if to disagree.

"What?" Lucca and Cid both shouted as they looked around for the cause of the shaking. They both looked back at the pit again just in time to see pillars of energy shoot out from the abyss, each cleaving the air with a hiss and a hum of power. The energy intensified, sending bolts of uncontrolled electricity to rake across the sky, forcing us to run from the pit.

"Look! In the sky!" Ecin shouted as he pointed frantically to a mysterious shadow forming in the air. The shadow slowly approached, expanding and enlarging itself until it landed in the center of the circle we had unconsciously made. It looked almost like King Zeal, but black as pitch and dead as dust. Soundlessly, it spun around as if examining us then turned to face me.

"What is that?" Kain asked from my left, eyeing in warily.

"That," Schala responded grimly, "is the remnants of Ibleess’s effect on my father. It can do us no harm in this form."

Marle, two people to my right, shuddered, then spoke.

"No man deserves such a fate. I pity him."

"Ibleess still has my father’s soul trapped. If we leave this thing along, it will regenerate his body. It has to be killed," Schala told us.

"I’m sorry Schala. First your mother, then your father. You’ve got no family left," I apologized.

"No. I still have one more person. My brother is still out in the world somewhere. Sometime. He’s all I have left, now."

I looked towards Lucca and Marle pleadingly, but both shook their heads. Schala didn’t seem to notice.

"Let’s put my father’s soul to rest," Schala commanded. I nodded solemnly, then pointed my finger toward the walking shadow.

"Luminare!" I shouted as I cast the familiar spell.

"Flare!" I heard Lucca shout.

"Soul Light!" Cid shouted.

"Tsunami!" Ecin yelled.

All four spells struck the shadow, which writhed and squirmed under the force of the magic. Suddenly, two pairs of blue-white light joined the four magics: Schala and Marle’s pendants. Slowly, under the effect of the two jewels and the now-subsiding spells, the shadow shrank into a barely discernable ball on the ground, then fizzled away into the world with a gust of wind that seemed to say, "you’re too late."

"It’s done. He’s finally free," Schala informed wearily.

"Goodbye King Zeal. May you and your Queen finally find some rest," Marle whispered, barely loud enough for me to hear. A moment of silence passed for a dynasty gone, then we all looked toward Lucca.

"Well, I guess we’d better get that engine up to the Ephemeral. And now we’re back where we started," she pointed out.

"Not quite," a hauntingly familiar voice reached my ears from behind. I spun around, my sword already drawn and ready to slice off his neck.

"Calm down Crono. I’m here to help this time," Tsern waved the sword down.

"Who are you and what do you want?" Cid asked.

"I’m surprised Crono didn’t tell you about me. I’m Tsern."

Marle fired a shot from her crossbow before Tsern could even open his mouth again. Lucca followed only seconds later with a blast from the Wondershot. Tsern barely dodged both, then took a stance so that I was between him and the girls.

"Put those away or I won’t help," he ordered.

"Not a chance. Crono, move out of the way," Lucca shouted.

"Well then, I guess you leave me no choice." Tsern waved his had and both weapons flew into the air and were suspended about fifteen feet above the girls’ heads.

"Now, listen and I’ll give you your toys back."

"Toys?" Lucca and Marle both cried out at once. Tsern ignored them and began talking.

"Normally, I wouldn’t bother with doomed missions, especially ones that involve such primitive people…" Tsern put his hand up to stop Marle before she could argue. "But after a fight with Crono I’ve realized that you might not be as primitive, or as weak, as I thought. Your mission might actually succeed. But if it doesn’t, I’m not going to be angry; Ibleess will be too weak to put up a fight and I’ll overpower him easily. Either way, I win, so I’ll help you this time. You can have your toys back now." Tsern nodded and the weapons fell back into their owner’s hands.

"Well? What’s your answer?" Tsern prodded.

"What if we win? Do we owe you anything?" Kain asked skeptically.

"No. You would have done me a great favor," Tsern answered.

"I don’t buy it," Lucca said.

"Buy it, sell it, trade it, I don’t care. But you could use my help. Ibleess is probably on his way to Earth to devour all its Dreamstone, destroying it in the process. It’s your call."

"Fine. We accept," I said. I could almost feel the heat from Marle’s eyes burn right through me and into its intended target.

"Very well. Now, back away, and I’ll lift this up to the ship. Meet me up there," he ordered. We all backed away slowly, and watched as Tsern began floating into the air, arms extended in front of him. Our gaze shifted to the engine as it began to rise into the air as well. With our fears assuaged, we climbed back into the Aeon and headed toward the Ephemeral.


Chapter 30

Chrono Trigger Fanfic