Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 34
...And Final Fortune
The moment we heard him speak all of us scrambled in different directions. What happened afterwards could only be described as pure chaos. Bolts of lightning rained down from the sky, lighting the air on fire as well as shocking anyone they touched. Massive hailstones the size of my head plummeted out of nowhere, adding yet another thing to dodge. Out of the corner of my eye I saw massive tidal waves smashing into some of my friends, but most of my attention was spent avoiding the falling obstacles. Ahead of me, Schala managed to erect a magic barrier, preventing anything from hitting her, while Magus, Cid, and Ecin launched barrage after barrage of attacks. To my right, Ayla and Kain were grouped together under a smaller shield that Marle had erected, incapable of doing anything without braving the tempest. They were, however, shouting fiercely at Ibleess. I added to the confusion, firing bolts of lightning whenever the chance presented itself. Unfortunately, none of our attacks seemed to do any damage. We needed to use the rocks. But more importantly, I had to make sure everyone was ok. Frantically, I searched for Frog, Robo, and Lucca. Bursts of fire from my left showed me where they were. All three were staying fairly close together, but were making their way towards Schalas barrier. I sprinted as fast a possible to them.
"Guys, we have to use the rocks, and so we have to get to Schalas barrier," I began, "The faster we get there, the quicker we can counterattack. Hopefully, Marles group will realize whats going on and theyll retaliate as well."
The four of us scrambled into the barrier, and Robo, Lucca, and Magus immediately began casting Omega Flare. Cid and Ecin stopped casting their spells so that the trio would not get hit. The instant Omega Flare began, I dashed for the other barrier, hoping to start another counterattack. Ayla shared the same thoughts.
"Crono! Falcon hit! Now!"
"My thoughts exactly. But instead of just throwing me, throw me and Kain," I suggested. Kain opened his mouth to argue, but Ayla had already latched onto him and whispered the instructions in his ear. Then, with a terrifying roar, Ayla flung him at Ibleess. Not even a second later, I was in the air, sword extended, blazing towards the menace at breakneck speeds. Ibleess managed to dodge Kains spear, but the Deus Moon hit him in the chest. Suddenly, the world flashed white as magic battled with magic. Ibleess barrage stopped suddenly and the being fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes as if stunned. Unable to do anything before I landed, I hoped the others would keep attacking. My wish came true. From behind me, I heard Magus shouting the final lines to Dark Eternal, heard Robos mechanical whirring as he prepared himself for the Spin Strike attack. By the time I had landed, both spells had finished.
I got up and turned around, surveying the damage. Ibleess now stood instead of hovering, parts of his body smoking from Omega Flare, and other parts scraped and torn. His wings had disappeared, and evidently so had his hubris.
"You want to play hardball? Fine. Lets see how you like this," he threatened. Ibleess pressed both hands together in front of him and chanted something in a language unfamiliar to me. He spread his hands suddenly, and bolts of dark energy lanced out into the sky. Without warning, the spears of dark light swooped down low, cleaving the air like some giant scythe. Instinctively, I threw myself on the ground, waiting until the rays of light passed before I looked to see if my friends were ok. I saw them gathered around something, ignoring the laughing Ibleess. With speed matching that of an Olympic runner, I closed the distance.
"He...he saved my life...." Ecin managed to stammer before falling to his knees. I looked around and mentally called role.
"Kain? What happened to him?"
"We dont know. Ecin wont tell us."
"Ill tell. He saved my life. One of those beams was about to hit me and he pushed me down out of the way and I didnt realize what was going on and hes dead and he saved my life...." Ecin said hysterically. His hands were shaking badly, and his lower lip quivered. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes.
"Anyone else hit?" I asked.
"No. Only Kain," Lucca told me.
"Im going to kill him!" Ecin screamed suddenly then sprinted towards Ibleess. The being didnt seem to notice the kid as Ecin drew his knives and raised them above his head. Seconds before Ecin reached him, Ibleess raised his hand, stopping Ecin in mid-run. What Ibleess didnt notice was that Ecins knives were already free from the kids hands, and, unaffected by his spell, they continued their journey to the fiend, one of them stabbing Ibleess in the chest, the other slicing Ibleesss left arm off. The being didnt bleed out of any wound. In fact, he hardly noticed the dagger Lacer sticking out of his chest, choosing to focus his attention on his missing arm. The knife that cut it off came spinning back to its owner, to Ecin. But Ecin, still under Ibleesss spell, couldnt move his hand to catch it. And, as if in slow motion, the beautiful knife Evicer sliced Ecin in half. We all shouted the same impotent shout, but none of us could bring ourselves to come any nearer to Ibleess. Ecins top half fell, arms quivering, to the floor. His legs stood for a few seconds longer, then they toppled as well, spewing blood and entrails. I heard Schala crying and Marle choke on her breath, but I was too transfixed on Ibleess to offer any support. Ecin was dead.
Ecin was dead.
The shock brought me to my knees. For me, time froze. What I had died, five years ago? I was sick to death of what ifs. What if the world ended right now? What if I hadnt met Marle at the fair? What if we had never come across that storm? But what ifs werent real. Suddenly, I made up my mind. I could not let myself live in the possible world. I world of what ifs didnt matter because it didnt exist in this world. This world is what really happened and I had to deal with this one and not any other. This world is the one that counted. I stood up and time started again, picking up where it left off.
"You see what happens when you mess with me? This isnt a game, kiddies. I am supreme! No one, but no one, challenges me and survives! Get ready; this will happen to you, too," Ibleess warned as he laughed.
"Hey Ibleess. Missing something?" I shot back. Then, to my friends I whispered, "Were going to cast Final Fortune. Ill keep him busy while you set up. Just tell me when."
"I can always re-grow another one. Appendages mean nothing when I can regenerate."
"Youll be able to regenerate nothing when were through with you."
"Empty promises. Ive felled two of you, both within seconds of each other, and both in the first few minutes of the battle. I can do it again."
"We dont die so easily. Were not like animals to be slaughtered. And we never give up."
"Ha. Compared to me, humans havent even begun to climb the evolutionary ladder. Compared to me, you ARE animals. And I will treat you as such."
I opened my mouth to retort, but Magus jabbed me.
"Were ready to cast it."
"I should have realized I would be wasting words with you. Now, if you dont mind, we have to get ready for a slaughter," I shouted at Ibleess.
"Saying your final prayers?"
"No. Yours," I retorted, then shouted, "Now!" as my friends encircled Marle, Lucca, and me, the holders of the three artifacts.
"Power deep inside an angelic face," my friend began, "blessing her friends with life embrace. Key to his defeat and overturn. The tables flip, and final fortune."
As they chanted, our artifacts started glowing. Slowly, Marle, Lucca, and I rose into the air, a bright nimbus surrounding us. We stopped twenty or thirty feet in the air. My friends continued chanting, then one by one, they held up colored rocks. Even these had started to glow, a sign that they were activated and ready to be used. Suddenly, each rock shot out a beam of light, connecting them to the Gods Tear, which glowed brighter than the sun. The ring leapt off of Luccas finger and slid onto Marles. Instantly, the Aegis flashed a brilliant white, casting a barrier around my friends. The barrier extended until it was inches below our feet, but it did not encompass us.
The world flashed again, and suddenly, the Rainbow replaced the Deus Moon at my side. Surprised, I looked around nervously and saw the last piece of the puzzle click into place. Marle was holding the Deus Moon. I realized, seconds later, what had happened. My friends and I were only the activation of the spell. The spell itself gave her our power, the power of the strongest beings on Earth and Aire. Our power, magnified through the colored rocks and the Gods Tear, became on the level far beyond the one we had known. She became a god.
Chapter 34: Endgame
Lucca and I floated down and joined our friends in within the shield.
"Hmm. I guess this means I should show you my true power now," Ibleess said. His wings reappeared and he floated up to Marles level. Suddenly, Ibleess seemed to be made of liquid lightning. Instead of skin, he had energy. Plasma coursed through his veins instead of blood. His muscles, no longer matter, became pure power. With every move he made, lightning coursed over his body, creating a virtual ring of electricity around him. His hand had even grown back. I prayed that Cid had taught Marle how to use a sword well.
The two superbeings faced each other, floating in midair a few meters away from each other, and a few feet above the barrier. Moments of silence passed, with the air so tense that if we were normal people, our pants would be soiled. But we werent normal people.
Suddenly, and I dont claim to know what happened, Marle and Ibleess switched places, both breathing heavily.
"So you know how to use a sword. Well, that only means Ill have to use a different method of killing you. I have millions." Ibleess grinned. The world shimmered as if it was seen in the dead of heat every time Ibleess spoke. His voice buzzed in our ears like the noise of some Ungodly insect. For the first time in a long, long time, I was deathly afraid. Marle said nothing in response. Slowly, the grin on Ibleess face melted away, replaced instead with a terrorizing scowl. He brought both his hands up in front of him and overlapped them, palms facing outwards. Marles visage darkened slightly, and then she extended both of her hands out to her sides, palms facing away from her. Suddenly, brilliant explosions, as if the sun itself had gone nova, peppered the air around Marle. She didnt even flinch as her shield withstood the attack. Then, with speed rivaling that of light itself, Marle brought her arms together in front of her, still keeping her hands up and her palms out. The being had no time to respond as a dark hole that seemed to suck the light out of the world appeared below him. In half the time it took to blink an eye, we all were slammed into the side of the shield closest to the black hole. No amount of strength could move me from the barrier. I came to a stunning realization: we were being sucked in towards it! With my face pressed up against the side and with no way to move, I watched as Ibleess body stretched towards the black hole, and with him, all the light in the dimension. Seconds later, I fell back to the ground as Ibleess forced the hole closed. Light flooded back into the world. Ibleess growled, a noise that felt like hellish nails on a celestial chalkboard, as he threw himself at Marle.
"I dont believe it! She boosted the power of my spell!" Magus gasped.
I turned to Magus. "Your spell? You mean Black Hole?" When he nodded, I continued. "Does that mean that she can do the same to our other spells?"
"I dont know. But if this is any indication, then yes, she can. This is more power than even I have seen, Zeal Kingdom included."
I opened my mouth to speak, but cut myself short, ducking instinctively as flaming meteorites crashed into the shield. The war was still raging on, and Ibleess seemed angrier now that he had almost been sucked into a black hole. Marles counterattack made the light given off by TriLuminessence seem like a nearly burnt-out candles. Despite the severity of the attacks, neither Marle nor Ibleess seemed fazed. When the spots had cleared from my eyes, the two had given up all magic and were fighting each other hand to sword. The motions were too quick for anyone to follow; all we could make out was the occasional grunt or smack that came whenever one of the two let his or her guard down for less than a split second. And much to our horror, in one of those split seconds, the odd moments of time that seemed too short to actually exist, the Deus Moon flew from Marles grasp and landed near us. In another unfathomable amount of time, the shield protecting us from the strongest magics in existence disappeared. In another mind-boggling second, Ibleesss hands wrapped themselves around Marles neck. We all gasped simultaneously.
We all rushed towards Marle. As far as we could tell, Marle could still breathe, but none of us wanted to risk having the monsters grip tighten.
"No one move. Theyre too powerful. Theres no use in getting yourselves killed if the result is the same in the end," Magus stopped our advance with a cold stare and a flourish of his scythe.
"But we cant just leave them there," I insisted.
"You can and you must. If you interfere, you might save her, but you will definitely die. Knowing how close you and Marle are, I doubt you would want her to suffer that pain. Remember, though your intentions might be good, the consequences can be fatal."
"Since when have you cared about Marle or me?"
"Dont flatter yourself, kid. If you two die, we loose any chance of killing Ibleess. We will die ourselves. I have better things to do than die."
"Better things to do? Like what?"
"Like revenge. Like this," Magus shouted as he gesticulated wildly then pointed his finger at Ibleess. Nothing happened.
"What? My magic! Its...its gone!"
Magus spun on his heels and glared ferociously at us.
"That spell. It robbed me...it robbed us of our magic! Its all been given to that girl," Magus bellowed. He spun around once again let out a scream that carried all the rage in the world. When he finished, he spoke again.
"I have a score to settle with him. Lavos destroyed my mother, and he destroyed my father. He and his ilk have destroyed my home, my mother, my father, and my life. And in the end, Ive been denied everything, including my revenge!"
Schala put her arms around the sorcerer and whispered just loud enough for me to hear, "but you have me, Janus. You have me."
Immediately, Magus became calm. His face returned to its normal stony complexion as he looked Schala in the eye and nodded. His gaze then turned back to the gods.
I turned my attention towards Marle and Ibleess just as Ibleess started speaking.
"Die! Die! Why cant your race ever die easily?"
"Because...we...dont...give...up. Ever!" Marle shouted. I was surprised at how strong she sounded, despite Ibleesss hands. I knew from her voice that she could last a long time like this. But I also knew that Ibleess could last longer.
"Youre weakening!" Ibleess shouted with glee. My friends let out an audible moan. I searched frantically for something, anything that would serve to pry Ibleess hands from Marle, or at least distract him from his goal. My eyes rested on the only object I could use, the only thing that was available: the Deus Moon. In desperation, I grabbed the sword.
"Hey Ibleess! Catch," I shouted as I heaved the sword at him.
"Huh," was the only thing that Ibleess could say before he had to dodge the sword heading directly for him. Marle grasped the opportunity, landing a solid punch to Ibleess jaw before she grabbed the sword in midair. Ibleess stared half in shock and half stunned from the blow as Marle swung the sword. Time slowed down as Ibleess twisted himself inhumanly to avoid the blade. But, as the sword approached its target, it began spewing liquid light. The blade looked like its namesake, a crescent moon made of the most purifying light in all existence. Time slowed down even further as Ibleess tried desperately to evade the sword. The Deus Moon waxed into a full moon, slicing through Ibleess without any resistance whatsoever.
Blue liquid spurted and spewed from both halves of Ibleess body as they dropped down like two lead weights. Marle sank down to Ibleess, leaning in to look her last upon the creature that ravaged whole worlds.
Im not dead yet." Ibleess voice had lost its resonance. He sounded like a normal human being now.
"Id say you are," Marle whispered.
"...You underestimate me," Ibleess growled. He then raised his hand and fired a spectacular ray of light at Marle. Marle staggered back, losing her grip on the sword. It clattered at Ibleess feet, where he promptly kicked it away, despite his feet being separate from his body. The sword flew away at lightning speed, embedding itself in a wall that could not be seen. Marle followed the flight of the sword, unaware that the top half of Ibleess was rejoining his bottom half. By the time she spun back to face Ibleess, the being had already reconnected himself and had launched a punch at Marle. With no time to dodge or block, his fist connected solidly with her jaw. I rushed forward to help her, but Ibleess swung his arm out and I felt an invisible barrier fling me back to where my friends were. He then turned to Marle, who was still reeling from the shock, and threw another punch. We all stared in impotent horror as Ibleess threw punch after bone-jarring punch. Marle seemed too stunned to even try to block.
"Cant we do anything?" I asked.
"We can try the rocks," Cid suggested.
The rocks! I had forgotten about them.
"But they cant do anything. We cant cast magic!"
"They might not be able to cast a spell, but we can still channel magic through them. Maybe we can add to Marles strength that way."
"Its worth a shot!" Lucca shouted as she took out the blue rock. "Cmon Magus, Robo, weve got a spell to cast!" Lucca held up the now glowing rock and began the spell. I turned back to the others.
"Crono, I shall use the silver rock. I believe the spell is compatible with Cid," Frog said as he took out the rock.
"Fine," I turned to Schala. "We have to get Marles sword! I dont think she stands a chance without it." Schala nodded and hurried toward the sword, walking as fast as her robes would let her.
"Ill need your help. My pendant cant do this on its own. Grab the hilt and pull," she instructed. I did as I was told. Gripping the handle with both hands, I planted a foot on the invisible wall and pulled. Behind me, I felt the pendant flare to life. The blade slid out a little. I tightened my grip and heaved with all my might. From behind, I could hear Schala breathing heavily. The sword gave a bit more, exposing more and more of the blade. Shifting positions, I felt the sword slide out some more, then it gave way completely. Not expected the sudden release, I fell backwards and onto Schala, the sword flying from my hands as I tried to brace myself. After untangling myself from Schala and muttering an apology and an order to return to the others, I dashed after it, only to come face to face with Ibleess, his foot on the sword.
"So this is the Deus Moon. Hard to think such a sword could cause me so much trouble," Ibleess mused as he picked the sword up. If looks could kill, my gaze would have cut him down the second he touched it.
"Its not the sword. Its the swordsmanship," I explained, barely containing my rage.
Ibleess merely grunted as he swung the sword around in the air.
"I doubt that."
"You would," I retorted.
Ibleess stared down at me intensely. He raised the sword above my head, intent on my death. He never had a chance to bring it down. Instead, Ayla leaped onto his back, biting his arm and forcing the sword out of his hand. The being yelped in pain and flung Ayla off his back, then bent down to pick up the sword two seconds too late. I already had the blade in my hand and swung ferociously, desperately trying to ward off his assault. I felt the Deus Moon slow down ever so slightly as it passed through Ibleess arm. Without missing a step, I used my momentum to spin around and fling the sword toward my friends, hoping that they would give it to Marle while I distracted Ibleess. When I finally looked back at him, I saw his arm severed halfway between the elbow and the wrist. The wound oozed a vibrant blue goop, although Ibleess seemed to ignore it completely. However, he did notice my stare.
"A small wound. I can regenerate the arm and the hand. I can block and eliminate the pain. And if all else fails, I can leave my physical body."
"Leave your body?"
"Im not attached to any physical form. I choose what I want to look like, where I want to, and when I want to look like it. I can have my soul roam free. Of course, if my body dies, I will die, but that will not happen. As you can see, Im far superior to you."
What was taking Marle and the others so long?
"You keep saying that, but youre not. If you were a superior being, then why would you spend your time trying to extract revenge on us? Shouldnt revenge be below you? And if it isnt, why waste your time fighting us? To use your own analogy, wouldnt it be like killing a whole species only because one of them injured you."
"My, you do ask a lot of questions. Revenge isnt below anyone. Its part of an emotion: hatred. Hate is a primal feeling, embedded so deep into everyones mind that it overrules all other emotions. As we evolve, we dont preen out old programming, we simply build upon it. I doubt an animal feels true love the way you humans do, and therefore, I doubt you humans feel hatred the way I do. And Ill do whatever I feel like doing, whether you like it or not."
Where the hell were they? What was taking so long? Doubts ate away at my mind. I could only delay Ibleess so much, and then, we would all be lost.
"But as we evolve, we gain the ability to control our emotions. Only animals cant control their emotions. Cant you do the same thing, or is your rage too powerful to be overcome?"
"Why would I want to control my rage? It supplies me with boundless power, unlimited energy. My rage is endless. The animal that hurt me also murdered my family. I want to make sure that slaughter will never happen again. Dont you ever kill imps because theyre too dangerous to have near your children?"
Children? Ibleess had children? This changed everything. Ibleess didnt fight only because of revenge. He fought because he wanted a safe place for his children. But how could he have children? Wasnt he the only one of his race left? I put my questions to words.
"The only one of my race? You misunderstood, then. I said Tsern killed my family, not my race. There are a dozen left, and all living in a place where you cant get to just yet. Im here to make sure that you never become evolved enough to enter."
There were a dozen? And they were all living where we couldnt go? Tsern had a lot of explaining to do. If we survived, that is.
"What do you mean, evolved enough to enter?"
Ibleess opened his mouth, but a resonating voice from behind silenced him: Marle.
"Ibleess, your time is up!" Marle floated into the air, brandishing the Deus Moon. Several bruises and cuts marked her skin, and her eyes were darker, but she seemed fine.
"Im waiting," Ibleess breathed. He closed the distance between him and her with a flap of his glowing wings. In the span of half a heartbeat, blows were exchanged. Light flashed every time a strike connected, forcing me to cover my eyes. Explosions wracked the ground next to me, and I suddenly realized the Aegis shield didnt extend as far out as I was. Without hesitation, I sprinted towards the shield, my discussion with Ibleess forgotten.
I hadnt even reached the shield when parts of Ibleess began falling from the sky. A foot landed in front of me, and then a leg, and then a whole arm and part of a shoulder. Apparently, the energy my friends were shoving through the rocks was working. I shuddered at what was happening, but I continued running. I was expected his body or his head to fall any minute and then it would be all over, but it never happened. Instead, I heard a loud groan, followed by a soft thud. I spun around, expecting to see Ibleess lying on the ground. I was wrong.
I saw Marle down on one knee, panting. Above her floated Ibleess, a ragged, shredded carcass still alive with a purpose. He sank towards her, victorious.
"Its over. Ive won. The magic is withdrawing, leaving you helpless. Youve all expended most of your mana. But I still have enough left to kill you all. And I think Ill start with you," Ibleess said menacingly. He raised his fist, light pulsing and emanating from his hand, then brought it down quickly. Light flared all around Marle, but nothing touched her, only striking a blue shell around her.
"What the hell?" Ibleess drew his fist back in alarm. Marle looked up expectantly at me, her eyes giving me explicit instructions.
"Hey Ibleess, pick on someone your own size," I shouted.
"Like who, you?"
"You bet. Come on. Show me how evolved you are," I taunted.
Ibleess approached, dragging Marle along with him, strutting despite his injuries. A few steps closer and everything would be set.
"If she failed, and she had the power of all the worlds, what chance do you have?" Ibleess taunted.
"A very good chance," I rejoined. Both he and Marle were close enough for TriLuminescence, but I needed help. I hoped that all the others understood the look Marle had given them.
"Ready?" I asked.
"Always," Ibleess replied. The question wasnt meant for him. On the ground beside him Marle gave me a nearly imperceptible nod. Everything was settled. I cast TriLuminescence. Behind me, everyone cast their strongest spells, but none of us targeted Ibleess. Some of us still holding the rocks, we all aimed for Marle. And as all the strongest single magics in the world were magnified, then combined with the spells of the rocks themselves into the most power focal point in world, the Gods Tear, the world shimmered with all the intensity of all the suns in the heavens.
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