Things Left Undone Book 3, Chapter 6
Lucca sighed, wiped her forehead and stretched. Her back snapped in protest. She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled. "I'm out of salt!!" She listened for a response. She heard Johnny's faint call from beyond the row of gnarled trees in front of her. She pushed her way through the trees. They were covered with black lumps, all that remained of the dead fungus. As she knocked the fungus off in her attempt to make it through the forest of stunted trees, it disintegrated and blew away in the wind. She watched, amazed, as the fungus powder scattered in the breeze and killed the living fungus it touched. She gasped in surprise and happiness as a chain reaction took place.
She finally made it through the trees, and saw Johnny pour the last of his salt on a bit of fungus. It shriveled, and died. He groaned, and turned to Lucca. "I'm out, too." She grinned, and flicked a dead bit with her fingertip. It shattered, and hung suspended in the air.
"It doesn't matter. Watch!" The wind carried the disintegrated fungus through the sky, dropping it like rain on the forest of infested trees. A chorus of squeaks heralded the death of the fungus. Johnny yelled in surprise, and the two of them set right to knocking every shriveled black lump they could find off of the trees. The shrieking of the dying fungus became almost unbearably loud.
The trees behind them parted, and Sydney and Krono dashed through the opening. They stared about in wonder as the black powder from the dead fungus flew through the air. They all stood, smiling and transfixed, while the glowing green pestilence disappeared, as far as the eye could see.
They all ran to the top of the hill that they were on. It was barren, devoid of either trees or fungus. Their vision no longer limited by the swiftly vanishing cloud of green fog, they could watch as the glow from the fungus receded far into the horizon. But even as the glow died, the land became brighter. Looking down at their feet, they could see the faintest outline of their shadows fall over the muddy land. They all looked up as one to the sky, and witnessed the first attempts of the sun to shine through the noxious fog. As the smog dispersed in the breeze, the air became clear. The four gulped gratefully the first breaths of fresh air they had breathed in two or three days.
After only one hour, the smog had completely disappeared, and they could truly see the world where they were. They were not actually on the summit of a small hill, but on the summit of the tallest mountain in sight. From there, the horizon curved visibly, indicating that the planet was actually only the size of the moon. The landscape was fairly flat, except for a large cliff that stretched as far as they could see in either direction. Other than that, low, rolling hills covered the rest of the land.
They smiled in satisfaction at their successful mission, and ran back down the mountain.
* * * * *
Crono, Marle, Glenn, Ayla, Magus, Flea, and Robo emerged from the dark cave, and were shocked by the light that streamed into their eyes, which were accustomed to darkness. They wandered out, still half-blind, and welcomed the clean air that flooded into their lungs. No more thick, oppressive, contaminated air, and no more musty, damp cave air.
The sun shone brightly, making even the landscape of drying, cracking mud and dead, blackened trees seem almost pretty. What seemed to be ashes littered the ground and flew through the air, coloring their already stained clothes a sooty gray.
"What happened to this place?" Magus stared about in amazement.
"I don't know, but I can honestly say that it's a change for the better." Crono laughed. "I'd bet anything that Lucca's behind it all!"
They walked on the mud, which had a crust strong enough to support their weight, looking for Lucca and the others. Magus and Flea had told everyone about Sydney, Krono, and Johnny. Ayla was looking forward to seeing her son fully grown, so she led the way. Her connection with her son led them through a forest of mangled trees, which almost looked to be sprouting buds, over a trickle of water which flowed through a long-dry river path, and through a field of dead grass spattered with new green shoots.
Marle, who had been getting more and more puzzled as they had walked, suddenly stopped and looked around her wildly. "Does anyone else notice the speed at which everything grows here? Watch that tree over there!" She pointed at a tree, which, if you looked hard, could be seen to sprout new buds and straighten itself.
"Perhaps it's due to the species of plants here. Maybe it's natural for the trees to grow this way." Robo said.
The others nodded in agreement, and sighing, Marle followed as they began to walk again. Crono slowed until he was beside her, then took her hand. She smiled, and they walked together.
* * * * *
Lucca, Johnny, Sydney, and Krono walked through the forest, noticing the same thing that Marle had. They came up with Robo's conclusion, as well.
Sydney stayed around Krono, chatting mindlessly and hinting in the way that girls do to get the attentions of a man they like. Lucca stayed in front with Johnny, talking about technology and those other scientific things that she couldn't relate to anyone but her father and Robo. Occasionally, she would catch snatches of the conversation between Krono and Sydney, and she'd smile to herself. She would never admit it to anyone, but she was lonely.
"Guys, stop!" Krono halted in his walking, looking around, puzzled. He touched his head as if he was trying his hardest to listen. Everyone crowded around, wondering what was wrong. Sydney held his arm protectively. Krono went pale. "Something wrong. I feel... weird. Something happen, over that way. Something bad. Mommy..."
He broke free of his circle of friends, and left their path, crashing wildly through the budding forest. The others, still puzzled, followed along. Their way was easier, the branches already broken by Krono's mad dash.
They emerged in a clearing, and saw their friends, being held by trees. Marle's eyes widened, and she tried to say something, but it was muffled by the tree branch over her mouth. She tried to struggle, but the tree just held her closer.
The trees that held their friends were not ordinary trees, though, which couldn't have been more obvious than if they all of a sudden uprooted and danced the funky chicken. The trees had beady black eyes, which were following the four newcomer's every movement.
Krono did not notice the trees, or anything else, for that matter. He was walking slowly towards Ayla, intense thought the only emotion that could be read on his face. About halfway to the tree, though, he broke out in a smile that bared all of his straight white teeth. He ran to the tree which restrained Ayla and broke the branches with the strength he had inherited from his mother and father. Ayla stumbled out of the grip of the tree, and mother and son studied each other for a long time. Krono was the first to break the silence. He grasped his mother in a hug that would have crushed the ribs of any ordinary person. She returned it, and they were happy.
Meanwhile, Johnny, Lucca, and Sydney (Who was looking jealously at Ayla, even though she knew that she was Krono's mother) were busy breaking the others free of their wooden captors. Sydney had gotten three hatchets from her bag, and they worked at the branches. Finally, everyone was loose.
Lucca embraced her friends, and they all laughed for joy. After introductions, they all sat down to talk, all except for Ayla and Krono, who were having their own private conversation somewhere else.
"What *are* those?" Lucca gestured to the trees, who still stood there, in the same positions that they were in when they got there five minutes ago.
Magus shrugged. "I don't know. We were walking along, when the trees all of a sudden started walking towards us."
Flea interrupted him. "They didn't really walk. They kind of flowed through the ground. But anyway, they came and grabbed us,"
"May I continue my story?" Magus growled. "They grabbed us, and after they had us held securely, they froze. About three minutes later, you guys showed up."
"And they haven't moved since." Glenn said, wrapping up the story. They all looked suspiciously at the trees, but they were still frozen in their positions of capture.
After that, the evening went fine. Krono and Ayla returned to the rest of the group, and they all sat together by a fire, Lucca, Sydney, Krono, and Johnny adding their parts onto the collective story. Now, things were beginning to make a minimum of sense.
They spent the night there, watching as the stars came out, stars that they had never seen before. They counted a total of five moons in the sky, but there could have been more. And through it all, the tree men stood there, so still that everyone was beginning to think that the whole thing had been their imaginations.
Morning came, and still the trees had not moved. Lucca, Robo, and Marle investigated them, poking at their eyes and scraping at their bark, even chopping at their roots to see if they had any vital organs. But they were as tree-like as, well, trees. After a while, when no conclusion made itself known and they were getting bored, they all decided that the best thing to do was to return to Tryuiop and the temple of Aout.
Go To Chapter 7
Return To CT Fanfic