Things Left Undone Book 3, Chapter 9
The Third Test
None of them could ever figure out how long they had lain there, fast asleep. When they got up, though, they felt more rested than ever before. In the clearing, they found a bag with bacon, eggs, bread, cheese, and coffee. Attached to the bag was a note, which said 'With best wishes. Bob.' They all thanked him, even though he wasn't there, and sat down to eat.
Over their breakfast, they discussed the first test, Sydney's experience, and what the third test might turn out to be.
All too soon, the nice breakfast was gone, and the only thing left to do was hitch up their packs and continue on the road to Tryuiop's cave, which was less than a mile away. It only took them about fifteen minutes to get there.
They plunged into the dark corridor, and walked down it, heading back to the grand chamber.
Tryuiop stood waiting for them, his head bowed in acknowledgment.
"Welcome back, my friends. I assume you have been successful on your second test?" He glanced at Sydney, a glint in his eye.
She nodded her head. "Yes, we were." She held out a hand. "I assume you're Tryuiop?"
He took her hand. "I am." He went around, greeting Lucca, Krono and Johnny. Then, he led them back to the meeting room with its magic table, and gestured for them to sit down. "Yes, you have passed the first and second tests, and now, you will pass the third. I am the guardian of this third test, and when, or if, you pass it, I will give you the pendant you will need to wear to inflict damage upon Jas-chu, the Darkrunner."
"No one mentioned our needing an artifact." Lucca said.
"You will be battling a god, and his legions of warriors. Your fragile bodies would be torn to shreds in the Darkrunner's mere presence, your souls sent to spend eternity in torment. You did not think you had a chance without a blessed object, did you?"
Lucca and Marle exchanged glances. "Uh, no- I guess."
"Good. And now, I will explain your third test. In this one, you will all be sent away to separate dimensions. What you see there will chill you to your very bones. Your challenge is to come away from the experience sane. After you pass your individual test, you will be transported back here, where one final puzzle awaits your solving."
He stood up, and told them all to hold onto the table. "And now, your third test."
* * * * *
Crono shook his head, and looked around. He was in his kitchen, back in his own house, back on his own planet. He laughed in happiness. He looked over to the sink, and Marle was there, washing the dishes, with her back to him.
And Tryuiop said that the experience would chill us to the bone! Crono laughed to himself. He snuck up behind his wife, reaching out to surprise her. He barely touched her when she whirled around, punching him right in the jaw. He spun around and hit the floor with a slam, sending some of the plates in the washing pile to the floor. They shattered, and he looked up at his wife in disbelief.
She stood over him, looking more angry than he had ever seen her. Not even when they were fighting Lavos did she look this mad. He held his hand to his aching jaw, and when he pulled it back, it was smeared with blood. He raised himself to his feet, keeping a suspicious eye on his wife, if that's who it really was.
"Why did you do that?" He asked.
She smiled, an evil, sadistic, demonic smile. "I never loved you, you pig." She spat that last word with such enthusiasm that spittle flew out of her mouth.
Crono backed away slowly. This can't be my wife, he thought to himself. But the more she said, and the angrier she got, the more sure he was that this was, indeed, his Marle.
She turned to the counter and pulled out the foot-long knife she used to butcher meat. How ironic, he thought to himself. Now she's gonna butcher me the way she did the animals I killed.
He tried to talk some sense into her. "Marle, please. Calm down. What did you mean, you never loved me? Please, sit here at the table with me, and we'll talk this over and work it all out." He pulled a chair out from the table, and offered it to her.
The knife swept by so fast that it, along with her lower arm, was invisible. The chair held together for several seconds before it fell to the floor, in three pieces. Three pieces!?! But I only saw one swipe... He dropped the small part of the chair that was still in his hand, and backed further away from his wife. She stalked toward him, muttering.
"You good-for-nothing fool. Stupid, insensitive, chauvinistic goat-sucker."
He did not have enough time to react, he only saw the blur. He felt the impact after the knife hit, with enough force to send him reeling, hitting the wall behind him with a thud. It held him pinned to the wall by his shoulder. It didn't even begin to hurt for another second or two.
Marle opened a drawer by the window, and Crono almost fainted. That drawer was where they kept all their eating utensils. He looked down, and saw the growing pool of blood around his feet. He struggled to release himself before Marle skewered him with butter knives and soup spoons, but he was stuck fast. She has superhuman strength, he thought to himself. This can't be my wife... This isn't my wife...
Marle turned back to him, her hands full of the silverware that they had gotten from her father on their wedding. She approached slowly, smiling, enjoying the spectacle of her husband's futile attempts to free himself. She stopped a foot away from him.
The last thing he saw was Marle removing her wedding ring, and tossing it into the garbage pile, her eyes red as fire...
* * * * *
Marle found herself in Truce village. She had barely enough time to notice this before she heard a man's scream from the house on the island nearby. Lucca's house. She ran there, concerned, expecting to see Taban, Lucca's father, crushed to death by one of his odd inventions. She stopped, wide-eyed, when she heard hysterical laughter coming from the house as well. A woman's hysterical laughter. She gathered herself up and ran even harder. Now, she had no idea what to expect.
Even still, when she saw what was occurring inside the house, she lost her breath in shock. Lucca stood over the body of, the body of-- "NO!!" She ran in, and took her husband's limp body in her arms. He raised an eyelid, and smiled when he saw her. "I love you..." he whispered, and his head rolled to the side, limp in death.
"How quaint. Crono's beloved wife comes to ease the pain of death." Lucca still stood over them, arms crossed, eyes half-lidded, and lip curled in disgust.
Marle jerked to her feet, dragging Crono's limp form with her. "What have you done?" She whispered to Lucca.
"I've simply put an end to my suffering." She held up her gun, the Wondershot, and cleaned it with her sleeve. "Ysee, I've known Crono ever since we were both in preschool, which is longer than you've known him. And even though he never loved me, I loved him. Then you came along, and destroyed my one chance of happiness. I've always hated you. My jealousy has almost torn me apart. But now that I'm making you suffer by killing our Crono, I feel much, much better."
Marle could just stand slack-jawed in disbelief. Lucca reached over to the counter behind her, and grabbed a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She offered one to Marle. "Want one? My mother made them fresh this morning." Marle shook her head, still in shock. Lucca shrugged, and took a cookie from the plate. She tossed the rest to the floor.
Marle could contain herself no longer. She dropped to her knees, and started sobbing uncontrollably. She took her husband's hand, and held it to her face. She was interrupted in her mourning by Lucca laughing. Marle looked up, face streaked with tears, and saw Lucca with a smirk on her face. Lucca leveled the Wondershot at Marle's forehead, and spoke again. "I've enjoyed your suffering. You can hold the knowledge deep in your heart that you have provided me with more happiness than I could ever have imagined." She pulled the trigger, and a flash of blue light enveloped Marle. She remained conscious for another millisecond, though, and she saw Lucca's eyes glow redder than flame...
* * * * *
Lucca was in her workshop at her house, back in her own planet and time. She exhaled in relief, and looked around. Everything seemed normal. Where was this test that Tryuiop was talking about? Everything is the way I left it... Except that awful stench! She wrinkled her nose. I must have forgotten to take out the garbage before I left, she said to herself. She walked over to the garbage box, and lifted the lid. Inside was a rotting, severed head. She slammed the lid back down, and took several deep breaths to calm herself and keep from screaming.
Finally, after she had regained her composure, she lifted the lid again. Yup, that was a severed head, all right. The smell was overpowering. How did a severed head get in my garbage? She looked again. That head looked familiar. It was definitely human. It had a greenish tinge, and maggots were all over it, but still, she had seen it somewhere before. That curly blond hair... Ayla! Lucca slammed the lid down, and fought back the urge to gag. What happened here!?! She darted behind the counter and pulled out the Wondershot. She held it ready. Finally, when she could hear nothing and the head of one of her best friends still lay rotting in her house, she got the courage to find the one responsible. She promised Ayla that she would return and take care of her remains, and walked stealthily through the house.
When she got to the living room, she saw Robo. She feared for a moment that he had been destroyed too, but she saw him turn his head and look at her. She ran to him, frantically trying to ask him what happened. "Robo! Am I ever glad to see you! Ayla, or part of her at least, is in my garbage! Do you have any idea what happened?" Robo whirred, and grabbed her shoulder. She yelped in pain. "Hey..."
"I killed her, as I killed all of your friends and family. I finally remembered my reason for construction. To destroy humans! Now, I fulfill the Mother Brain's wishes and kill those humans which mean the most to me."
Lucca stopped struggling and stared at Robo, puzzled. They had killed Mother Brain, the master computer that controlled the evil robots in 2300AD, over four years ago. But even before they had shut her down, Robo had never wanted to kill humans. Now, though...
It must be faulty wiring. I couldn't have made a mistake when I was reprogramming him, could I? That last thought scared her more than the severed head, more than the news that everyone important to her was dead, more than the thought of death itself.
She bowed her head, and waited for the killing blow to come. Before it did, though, she opened her eyes, and took one last look at Robo, her friend... The glowing red eyes would remain in her thoughts through death and beyond.
* * * * *
Robo appeared at Johnny's place, in 2304AD. He was glad he appeared there, because he knew where he was. Tryuiop's last words had him fearing the worst. He brushed himself off, and started to walk around, looking for his test. He had no idea what it might be, but he knew that something was in store for him. He was startled by someone calling his name.
It was Johnny. "Hey, Robo! What're you doing here?"
"Gee, that's great. Saaay, are you up for a race? It's been a while since you've raced with yer' old pal Johnny, hasn't it, babe!" Johnny elbowed him in the side, and Robo almost toppled over. He was suspicious. Johnny was never that strong, and he seemed a little too anxious to get Robo in a race. But this might be his test. He agreed.
"Aww, man! That's great, pal!! Here." Johnny escorted him (mostly by pushing and shoving) to the jet bike. "Hop in. Ol' Johnny's gonna give you the ride of your life..." Johnny transformed into his racing form. But Robo noticed several changes. Now, Johnny had huge spikes on his wheels, and a battering ram on front. Robo moved to jump out of the bike, but the hood closed over him. The seatbelt wrapped around him, securing his arms in place. He was locked in, and he couldn't steer. Johnny rolled over, and chuckled. "Now, now, you promised that you'd race me! And it isn't nice to back out on a promise..." With that, Johnny and the jet bike went zooming down the track.
Almost immediately, Johnny began to bump the bike with his spiked wheels. Robo yelled to him. "What are you doing!?!" But the noise of the bike kept Johnny from hearing. Either that, or Johnny was ignoring him. Johnny suddenly slowed down, and got behind the bike. Then he hit the gas, ramming the jet bike with so much force that it went flipping end-over-end through the air.
It finally occurred to Robo that he was going to die. As he reached the highest point of his flight, he looked out the window, saddened. He saw the Arris dome in the distance, with the giant tree that he and his friends had grown... He was silent for his entire downward fall.
The jet bike landed hard, bouncing several times. Pieces went flying through the air, and the windshield shattered, covering Robo with shrapnel. He was still alive, though.
Johnny rolled up, and Robo weakly turned his head. Johnny laughed. "Nice race, don't you think?" He leaned in, his face inches from Robo's own. "I win." That he said in a menacing whisper, accompanied by glowing red eyes that Robo could see even through Johnny's sunglasses.
The jet bike exploded in a blazing fireball.
* * * * *
Johnny sat with Sydney in the Dark Moon tavern, Dorino, 604AD. They were laughing and talking about their lives thus far, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
During a lull in the conversation, Johnny puzzled over Tryuiop's test. He said that it would chill us to the bone! He looked over at Sydney. She sat with her drink, looking happier than he had ever seen her. He smiled. If this is chilling, coat me with ice and send me to the South pole!!
Sydney finished her drink, paid the bartender, and walked with Johnny outside. It was a beautiful night, the stars shining brightly. They walked out to Sydney's house, which was on the far side of town. As they were walking, Johnny noticed that Sydney seemed to be getting taller. She was taller than him originally, but only by a few inches. Now it was more like a foot. He shrugged his shoulders and dismissed it as his imagination.
But those thoughts were reawakened when they walked into Sydney's house, and she shattered the arch of the door with her head. He jerked to a stop, and examined the door. It was more than eight feet high! And he was only five feet tall! And Sydney is only supposed to be five inches taller than him! He glanced from the door to Sydney, and back to the door again. He held his arm up as a measuring tool to make sure he wasn't mistaken, but it just proved him correct. Sydney was eight and a half feet tall, and growing!!
She laughed then, and shocked Johnny out of his amazed trance. She was looking at him, with an amused expression on her face. "I'm glad you noticed, puny mortal!!" Her voice was deep, and it had lost its female quality, but neither was it male. "I have finally received my power!! Gyahh, hah, hah!!" She laughed, and braced herself. She seemed to be becoming more masculine, but not entirely losing her female features.
Johnny remembered, then. That's right!! The Lightrunner said that she was next in line!
"Not quite, Johnny. I am not the Lightrunner. I have chosen the path of power, wealth, and black magic!! I am the Darkrunner!!"
As she said this, all color faded from her body, leaving her as black as jet. No, blacker. She was so black, that she seemed to be casting a black light, if such a thing is possible.
Johnny, not overcome, attempted to turn her from the path of evil. "No! Sydney! Remember the Lightrunner! You are his next in line..." He ran to her, but she froze him in mid-stride. He floated into the air, as still as death.
"I am the Darkrunner. I am the one, the only, god! Tell our precious little friends *that*." She laughed, and shattered the still form of Johnny with merely the flick of a finger.
The last thing he remembered was the Darkrunner's unnaturally red eyes.
* * * * *
Sydney found herself in the campsite from the night before. She had no idea why she was there, but it was dark and the odd trees did nothing to ease her tension. She was ready for a legion of zombies, she was prepared for a rabid lion, she was waiting for the poisonous spiders to start crawling out of the bushes. But none of these things happened. Finally, she relaxed out of her fighting pose, and looked around. It was a quiet night, the light of the five visible moons casting eerie shadows. Whenever a branch rustled in the wind, she would whirl around, katana sword outstretched, to face the imaginary threat.
Finally, when even this was getting monotonous, she nerved herself to walk. She chose to walk back to Tryuiop's cave, since that seemed like a logical place to go. She found their path, and set out upon it. She stopped about five minutes into her journey when a noise caught her ear. Against the warnings of her conscience, her gut, her brain, her heart, and her stomach, she stealthily made her way through the woods to investigate. As she got closer, the noise morphed into human sounds. talking, moments of silence, and the generally loud human footfall.
Finally, she saw movement. Two people, a male and a female, doing- what? She had to get a closer look. They were just talking, in hushed whispers. Occasionally, the girl would giggle, and the guy would silence her with a raised finger. That's when Sydney realized who these two people were. Flea, and Krono. Her heart sunk, and she felt like sobbing, but she had to stay quiet. She saw them kiss. She reached for the black claw necklace around her neck, and held onto it in grief.
After the phase of sadness passed, the phase of anger kicked in. Her magical fear, which she hadn't used for a long time, was ready. Her eyes glinted orange, a glint which caught Krono's attention. They locked eyes for a moment, or at least until he was thrown to the ground in fear. She boldly walked out into the small clearing, Krono and Flea watching her every move even though their teeth were chattering and they could barely control their muscles.
At a sudden thought, she drew her katana sword, and prodded Flea with it. She ran off, screaming, into the depths of the woods. "I hope the trees eat her alive." Sydney growled. She looked to Krono then, a look of such intense sadness on her face that Krono's fear-contorted face showed a flicker of shame.
He managed to speak through gritted teeth. "Please... L-let me up..."
Sydney released him from the spell. He got to his knees, groggy with fear, and stood up. They stood staring at each other for several long minutes. Sydney did not notice him slowly remove the hunting knife from his fur belt, and so was not prepared for the tearing pain in her stomach. She looked down, eyes and mouth open wide, to see only the handle of the knife still visible. Krono still stood, holding onto it, face expressionless.
He laughed. "You were starting to annoy Krono, Sydney. Krono not like it when girls get obsessive. Now you not bother me any more. I love Flea, not you. Get that into your thick skull." He pushed her, and she fell back onto the ground, clutching at the dagger protruding from her stomach. Her mouth was still open, and blood dripped from the corners.
Krono knelt beside her, and for a moment looked sad. He brushed a loose strand of hair from her face, and in the same movement, he tore the black horn necklace from around her neck. He whispered to her. "Now I give this to one I truly love. Flea was supposed to catch this, not *you*."
He stood up, and looked at her for another few seconds, during which time his eyes turned blood red. He turned and walked away, leaving her to die alone in the forest.
* * * * *
Krono appeared somewhere he had never been before. It was a castle, but the decoration was that of an evil place, skulls and fire the prevalent motif.
He found that he was standing in a cage. It was a small one, too, with barely enough room for him to sit with legs outstretched. He rattled the bars, trying to get someone's attention.
"Whaddaya' want?" A voice echoed through the room. He supposed that it came from the far corner, which was separated from the rest of the room by a folding screen.
"I want to get out of cage. Please, sir!"
"Who are you calling 'sir'?" The owner of the voice walked out from behind the screen. She was beautiful. She was... She was Flea! His jaw dropped. Flea? What was she doing here? This was supposed to be an *individual* test...
"Well, well. We're feisty today, aren't we!" Flea was wearing a leather apron, and she snapped a pair of rubber gloves onto her hands. She walked right up to the bars, and put a mocking pout onto her face. "Does widdle testy-westy want out of cagey-wagey?" She laughed, and slapped his hand. He pulled it back in surprise. "Not now, buster. You're too important."
She turned and walked to the far wall, where she pressed on a stone, and the wall rotated to reveal an entire laboratory setup on the other side. Flea returned to the cage, and started to push it into the laboratory. The cage was on wheels, because they squeaked with every rotation. "Dratted wheels. I have to oil those someday..."
Krono tried to get her attention. "Flea! It me, Krono! What wrong with you? Why you not recognize me?"
"Krono... What a cute name. It will look good on a tombstone!" She didn't even look up to respond. Krono started to panic.
"What you gonna do to me? I never do nothin' to you!" She continued to ignore him. They arrived at a table, and she wheeled the cage right up to it. She turned to a nearby control panel, and pushed a button. Two belts whipped out of the table, grabbing Krono around the waist and legs. His arms were pinned to his side. The cage opened, and Krono was pulled onto the table by the belts. They were uncomfortably tight. He struggled one last time, but he knew he would never get off of the table.
Flea went to a drawer, and removed the largest needle Krono had ever seen. She approached with it. It was filled with black fluid, the same black fluid that he had seen in one of Sydney's syringes. She shook the needle out and squeezed the end, sending a small stream out. Where it hit the floor, it burned through until it was too diluted to do any more damage.
Krono screamed in fright, but Flea just laughed. Krono tried one last time to make her recognize him. "Please, Flea! It Krono! You not want to inject me with icky black stuff! I your friend! Flea..." He got drowsy as the black liquid entered his bloodstream, and he groggily looked at Flea, pleading.
She knelt close to him, and smiled. "You, my friend, have just been injected with a genetic manipulation drug. If you don't die, you'll become a hideous beast, forced to do my bidding. It is a fate fitting for someone of your low mental platform. Now if you'll be a good boy, and not die..."
He was getting numb. All he could feel was his brain and heart pounding, becoming deafening. He could hear his blood flowing. He could see Flea's urgent face appear in his line of vision, but he was beyond caring. Too much of his brain had been killed by the drug. She slapped at his face, yelling something like "Don't die, you! Do not die!" Her face appeared once more, in the last few seconds of consciousness, and her eyes turned red. Krono lost his color vision, and the eyes turned dark gray. Then, the last part of his brain ceased to work, the part that controlled his lungs and heartbeat. All functions ceased, and he died, with no soul to live on in the afterlife.
* * * * *
Flea was in Magus's castle, in 600AD, back when they were fighting a war with the kingdom of Guardia. She could tell this, even though it was blacker than soot, by the familiar smell of magical components and the chill of the stone walls.
She sighed, dusted herself off, and stood up to find her test. She had no idea what part of the castle she was in, though, and she didn't want to go walking into any walls, so she cast her most basic light spell.
A fizzling noise was all she heard, and she smelled the fragrant smoke from the failed spell. She scratched her forehead, and after shaking her wrist out to loosen it, she tried again. This time, not even the fizzle and smoke came.
Her eyebrows lowered in confusion, and she stretched her arms out so she could walk without danger of injuring herself if any walls decided to throw themselves into her path.
After she walked a few paces, her hands found a wall. She felt along it, searching for distinguishing features. A wooden door greeted her probing hands, and she felt at its center to see if... yes. The raised symbol of Magus was there, which meant that she was just outside his private chambers. She knocked on the door, and Magus' familiar voice cheerily invited her in. She groped for the door handle, found it, and gave it a pull.
Magus sat draped over his chair, a grin splitting his face. He gestured to Flea, who walked into the room. She stopped ten feet before him, suspicious. Magus' eyes seemed... wrong. They flickered, as if the muscles controlling them were having spasms. He laughed. "Welcome, Flea. Have you noticed anything... different about yourself?" He lifted a hand to reach for a glass on a nearby table, but he could not hold onto it. His arm shook violently, causing the glass to shatter in his hand. He drew his bleeding palm back and wiped it on his pants.
"What's wrong with you?" She asked, drawing back a step.
"Me?" He looked her in the eyes, as much as he could, since he could not keep his eyes in one place for more than a couple of seconds at a time. "Me? What is wrong with me?" His voice was beginning to get shrill, and he sat up to his full height. His whole body shook, and as he talked his lips twitched abnormally. "Nothing is wrong with me, Flea. I have POWER!" He thrust his arm into the air, and it glowed with blue light. Lightning bolts from nowhere and everywhere at the same time shot down into his outstretched arm, arcing through his whole body. He coughed, and a trickle of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth. "I have more power than you could ever dream!"
Flea backed away a few more steps, and tried to call to mind a simple shielding spell. But, for the life of her, she could not remember it. Magus laughed, and stood up, with the aid of the armrests of his chair. His upper arms and legs quaked with the stress. He was breaking out in an unnatural sweat, and his hair hung in clumps down his back. The veins in his arms stuck out so you could see his rapid heart beat.
"H-have you noticed, Flea, th-that you can no longer cast a s-simple spell? I-I have stolen-n your m-magic-c p-powers! Y-you are help-helpless, and I hav-ve all your p-power!"
"No, Magus! It's too much! You can't handle it! Please! Release it! You'll kill yourself!" She had to scream to be heard over the lightning, which still shot down and impaled Magus with ever-increasing intensity and frequency. He shook with every bolt, and his eyes were rolling around in their sockets like something rabid. He lost his grip on one of the chair's arms, and he dropped to the ground. But he pried himself back into a standing position.
Unable to control herself any longer, Flea rushed to the side of her master, to try and relieve him of the magic, or end the spell which was shooting lightning the width of a man's forearm into his chest. She reached him, and grabbed his arm, but he ripped it away from her grasp and knocked her to the floor with a backhand. She rushed to her hands and knees, and hurried back to his side, and placed both hands on his head. She chanted the only spell she remembered, a magic barrier. The whole time, she was being electrocuted, and she shook with every blast. But finally she completed the spell.
She tried to stand back from Magus to let the spell take effect, but she was stuck. She looked at her hands. They had become so burned by the lightning that they had fused to Magus' head. The ends of his hair burned red-hot, and reminded her of hundreds of fuses, the way it burned it's way along the length.
The whole time, Magus had been pummeling her and she noticed her legs had gone limp. She uttered one last pleading cry, "Magus- give it up..." before her lips were fused to her teeth. Magus looked like a blackened corpse, but his mouth still worked, uttering screams that could not be made. Flea looked up, and saw a lightning bolt the width of a man's torso arc down, and she forced her brittle neck to look down once more.
In the eyesockets, where skin peeled off in blackened flakes, two melted eyes glared a savage red.
The lightning hit with enough force to blow up the castle and everyone inside it.
* * * * *
Magus groaned. He had landed on a hard, damp, packed dirt floor. Now, after getting back his lost breath, he sat up and brushed the soil out of his hair and off of his cape. He was in Glenn's underground house, in the middle of the cursed woods.
Glenn sat in a chair on the other side of the room, watching him as he struggled to stand up. The Masamune sat in Glenn's lap, half-drawn. Then, Glenn smiled, leaned the Masamune against the wall, and walked over to help Magus up. "Magus, I thought that thy form might remain crumpled on the floor forever!" Glenn helped him to a chair, and went to the cupboard to fix him a drink. Magus noticed Glenn pouring something into it, but he didn't give it a second thought.
Finally, Glenn sat in the chair next to Magus' own, and slid the drink across the table to him. "It is a special tonic; it should help to ease thy hurts."
Magus lifted the drink to his lips, and drank deeply. The vile taste burned all the way down his throat, but remembering his mother's saying "Anything that tastes bad is good for you" he finished the whole glass. He set it back on the table with a clink.
Then, Glenn began to laugh, a smug, sarcastic laugh. Magus looked at him in confusion. "What?" he said.
"Magus, my magician friend, thou hast just drank a poison which thou shall die from in a mere minute's time."
Magus paled, and realized it was true. He could feel his insides twist in horror. "Why?"
"I have long wished to have my revenge for thy killing of the noble Cyrus and thine turning me into a toad. I worked it all out; be thy friend so thou trusteth me, and then laugh in thy face as thou'rt torn apart from the inside by the slime of the red slug. Canst thou feel it working, Magus? Tis a wonderful drug, wouldst thou say?"
Magus could, in fact, feel it working. It felt like his whole midsection was being twisted, then stretched on a rack. He doubled over and gasped in pain. He fell from the chair as his heart stopped beating, and he breathed ragged gulps of air. He rolled on the floor, curled up into the fetal position. Glenn stood up from his chair, and stood over the writhing Magus. Glenn held him down with his boot, and spit in his face with enthusiasm. "Farewell... friend."
Magus was choking on the very air he breathed, and his stomach was being ripped apart by the talons of a dragon. His heart was lanced, and he was immersed in boiling oil. That is the pain he felt. With his last breath, he gasped "Friend..." then locked eyes with his murderer. Glenn grinned, and his red eyes sparkled in amusement.
Magus took his last breath, his head lolled to the side, and he was dead. Glenn picked Magus up, slung him over his shoulder, and went up the ladder to the outside. He dumped the corpse in the bushes, and laughed as the wolves devoured his friend.
* * * * *
Glenn had no idea where he was. A forest, that was certain, but it was more like a tropical jungle. He picked himself up off of the ground, and dusted the fine red sand from his clothes. He loosened the Masamune in its scabbard, and turned full circle, exploring his surroundings. Woods on all sides.
He picked his way, step-by-step, through the thick trees. He brushed vines to the side with his arm, until he finally reached a clearing. In this clearing, he let out a sigh of relief. It was Ioka village, from the prehistoric era. He smoothed his green hair, and strode out to greet the people.
He was grabbed halfway there, by a caveman who clapped his hand over Glenn's mouth and held his arms pinned behind his back. Then, he was shoved into the largest skin dwelling, and roughly thrown into the refuse pile. He picked the clay pot shards, animal bones, and human waste from his clothes and hair, and laid still and fuming as two large cavemen held him at spearpoint.
About fifteen minutes later, a familiar man sauntered into the hut and stood before the garbage-covered Glenn. It was Kino. "So, who you who come sneak up on Ioka village?"
"Sneak up? I approached in the open!" Glenn tried to sit up, but his caveman guards shoved him back down.
"You not deny you come to steal Dreamstone?"
"Dreamstone? But Crono won it in a soup-eating contest years ago."
"That never happen, Green-hair! Ayla chief has Dreamstone and Green-hair not get it!"
"Call me Glenn, and I'm not here to steal thy stone! I just need to find this test that I'm supposed to preform!"
"Green-hair lie!" Kino gestured to Glenn, and spoke to the two burly cavemen standing guard. "Gox, Doli, take Green-hair to chief Ayla." With that, Gox and Doli took him by the arms and half-dragged half-carried him to the center of town, where a beautiful blond haired woman stood before a large bonfire. The whole town stood quietly, curiously eying the strange man. Children peered out from behind their parents legs, and even the dogs were silent, sensing the tension.
Ayla pointed to a post near the bonfire. Glenn was securely tied to it, two feet above the ground. Several cartloads of small dry branches were piled underneath him. The thought occurred to him that he was going to be burned alive. He frantically glanced at Ayla. "Ayla! Tis I, Glenn! Tell these people that I am thy friend!"
Ayla glared at him, and folded her arms. "Alien Green-hair come to steal Dreamstone and kill Ioka village. Ayla not let happen!" She held her arm out to her side, not removing her glance from the tied up Glenn, and Kino handed her a flaming stick from the fire. She waved it in front of Glenn's face.
"Tell Ayla now where you from and what name and why here."
Glenn longed to wipe the perspiration from his face. It tickled as it rolled down his cheek, but his hands were securely bound. "I am from many many days after tomorrow. Mine name is Glenn, and I know naught of why I'm here. I just know that I must preform some sort of test. I mean thy village no harm. Please let me down, friend, and I shall be off."
"Test, Green-hair say? Ayla not know about test, but Green-hair win freedom if he defeat star warrior Kino in battle. Doli, untie Green-hair." Doli untied him, and Glenn dropped to the ground. He rubbed his wrists to restore the circulation. The fifty inhabitants of the village then formed a circle around him, and Ayla stood to the side. A section of the circle parted then, and Kino walked in, spear braced and ready. The circle closed again, and with a yell from Ayla, Kino attacked.
Glenn rolled out of the way just in time, and he leapt to his feet. He reached to his left to draw the Masamune, but too late he noticed it wasn't there. Panicked, he ducked just in time to avoid another charge by Kino, tripping the warrior in his mad dash. Kino fell to the ground, sprawled on the sand. The villagers roared, and Kino stood back up, the spear held ready in one hand. Glenn yelled at Ayla. "This is no fair! He has a spear-" He dashed to the side to avoid a thrust that would have pierced his throat. "I need a weapon!!"
Ayla laughed. "You alien, Green-hair. You have alien weapon you use, no?" It was obvious then that he would have no help from the cavepeople. Even though he really did not want to fight back, he had to, or risk getting killed by Kino's spear. Maybe if he could disarm him... Kino lunged again, and Glenn dodged to the side, grabbing the spear as it thrust past him, putting all his weight onto the end away from the warrior. Kino flipped over Glenn, and landed with a sickening thud on the opposite side. The spear cracked with the pressure, and Glenn threw the two halves out of the circle. He turned back to Ayla.
"He is disarmed. I have won, mmmf!" Kino had grabbed him from behind, and covered Glenn's mouth with his hand. Glenn bit the hand, and Kino yelped in pain. The coppery taste of blood filled Glenn's mouth. Kino spun him back around, and nursed the bite wound. They circled each other, both low to the ground in the instinctive fighting stance. Kino faked Glenn out with a twitch of his arm, and Glenn drew back. Kino lunged at the momentarily unprepared adversary, and forced him to the ground.
They rolled around for a moment, until Glenn got on top and threw punch after punch at Kino's face. Then, Kino brought his legs up and flipped Glenn off. The two fighters circled each other again, Kino with a bite wound, a broken nose and a cut lip and Glenn uninjured. Glenn made the first move this time, throwing a kick that got Kino in the midsection. Kino slumped over, and Glenn brought his knee up, connecting with the caveman's jaw. A sickening crack filled the air, and the audience groaned. Glenn stood back, breathing heavily, as Kino bent over, spitting out mouthfuls of blood and teeth. Finally, Kino wiped his mouth with his arm. The blood smeared all over him, Kino looked more injured than he actually was.
Now, though, the adrenaline was kicking into the warrior's system. Kino lunged with surprising speed at Glenn's face, and hit it with a tightly wound fist. Glenn fell backwards, and Kino brought his heel down to crush Glenn's ribs. He rolled out of the way just in time, and caught the foot after it landed. With a sudden downward pull to straighten it and a sudden push upwards to break the hip, Kino's leg dangled uselessly. Only now could Glenn reach up and snap his jaw back into joint, it being dislocated after Kino's punch.
But, though crippled and beaten to a pulp, Kino did not give up. Glenn made a mental note to honor the warrior at a more convenient time. Kino hopped towards him, and caught Glenn's torso in a death grip. Kino squeezed as tightly as he could, and the muscles on his arms bulged with exertion. Glenn gasped for breath, but could do little to fight back. His arms were pinned, his legs needed to keep himself standing, and his head too far away. So, with nothing better to do, Glenn went as straight and stiff as a tree trunk and toppled forward.
Kino's legs were still outstretched behind him, and his spine bent backwards as Glenn fell forward. The cracking snap of the breaking spine sickened all who watched. Glenn's eyes squeezed shut in disgust, and the audience couldn't even gasp. Ayla still watched, emotionless. Kino's arms had gone limp, so Glenn rolled off of him, and struggled to his feet. He turned back to the fallen warrior. Kino was bent in half, spine broken at the waist. he blinked in disbelief, and made gurgling noises, then his eyes glazed over in death. Glenn kneeled beside him, and shut the warrior's sightless eyes. He murmured a prayer, then turned to Ayla, fire in his eyes.
"I hope thourt happy! A good man, dead! Thou were wise, Ayla. What happened to thee?" He stood, and ran his fingers through his hair. Kino's blood stained it brown. "I have won, now let me go. And give Kino a warrior's burial."
Ayla smiled, her red eyes glinting in the setting sun. In one swift movement, she whipped a stone-tipped spear from an unseen harness on her back, and hurled it at Glenn. He was dead before he hit the ground.
* * * * *
Ayla found herself in the End of Time. This was where they had originally met Gaspar, but now it was little more than a world of black, with a lazy hot wind, source unknown.
She stood up. She had always been puzzled at how she could stand up. There was no ground that she could see. She shrugged, though, and looked around. Nothing. She sighed and began to walk around. Maybe she'd come across something before long.
After an undetermined amount of time, she began to get annoyed. Tryuiop said that this was supposed to be some sort of test. Unless it was a test of how long she'd survive without food and drink, she had no idea what she was at the End of Time for.
Just then, a flash of color caught her eye. Reddish orange. She'd seen that color only once before. It was the color of Crono's hair. She ran towards him, and as he got closer, she saw that he was walking, too. He saw her, and they both met in the middle, with much rejoicing.
"What Crono here for?" She asked.
"I don't know. I've been here for I don't know how long. I'm glad I finally found someone to talk to, though."
"Ayla too. She glad that Crono here. So what we do?"
Crono shrugged, and he plopped himself onto the ground. Ayla sat down too, both of them so bored that they couldn't even talk. She let out a loud sigh, and rested her head on her hand. Crono glanced at her, mild irritation showing on his face. "Stop it." he snapped.
About five minutes later, Ayla was beginning to wonder why they weren't up looking for their test, but she wasn't going to mention it to Crono. She followed his lead, after all. She began to sing a song from her youth to herself. It was one that her mother had sang to her, and that she had sang to her son, Krono. A tear came to her eye. She had to rescue him from the Reptites who had taken him captive, along with her husband, Kino. She had met her son when he was her own age, but it wasn't the same. He said that she was dead in his time. The whole business was thoroughly confusing. An annoyed hiss woke her from her trance. "Shut up, Ayla!" Crono was glaring at her. "That stupid song is getting on my nerves!"
She exhaled in offense, and turned away from him. "What Crono's problem?"
Crono curled his lip. "You're the problem. Do you have any idea how annoying you are?"
"No. Nobody ever say Ayla annoying before. Why?"
"Everyone thinks so. Now turn around and shut up."
"What you mean everyone think so?"
"Your grammatically incorrect sentences. The stupid things you say. Now shut up."
"You hurting Ayla's feelings!"
"About time someone did." Crono muttered.
Ayla gasped, and drew back in shock. "You not mean that, Crono!"
He stood up, and drew the Rainbow sword. "You wanna bet?"
Ayla stood as well, and glanced fearfully at Crono's drawn sword. "What you gonna do to Ayla?"
"What each and every one of us has wanted to do for a long, long time." At that, he raised the sword above his shoulder, and with a single swipe, severed Ayla's head from the rest of her body.
It's true, she thought, as her head was hurtling through the air. Your whole life flashes before your eyes. She saw herself playing with the other kids when she was little. She saw her parent's loving faces. She saw her husband and son. She thought of solutions to all her problems. She thought of what she would have done with the rest of her life. And last, she thought of Crono's red eyes.
Her body toppled backwards, and thumped onto the ground. Her head rolled around for a moment, until it finally came to rest at Crono's feet.
* * * * *
"NOOOO!" Crono shrieked. Finally, when he realized that Marle was not impaling him with silverware, he cracked his eyes open. He was back at the table. Tryuiop smiled his welcome, then looked at the spot on the table beside Crono. Marle materialized, staring into space. She blinked rapidly, then realized where she was. She saw Crono. She reached out to him.
"No, d-don't touch me!" He shrunk away.
Marle pulled her hands back, confused. Just then, Lucca appeared beside her. Marle covered Crono's shaking body with her own. "Get away, you murderer!" Lucca looked genuinely confused.
Then Robo appeared. Lucca yelled "Run! He's gone haywire!" and pulled her gun. Robo jumped back, and ran into Johnny. Robo yelped, and hid under the table. Johnny saw Sydney, and said "You've turned back to the light!" Sydney ignored his comment, preferring to beat her fists on Krono's chest. "How could you!" she shrieked and sobbed at the same time. Krono saw Flea, and begged her not to kill him, then Flea saw Magus and asked him for her power back. Magus shrieked when he saw Glenn and hid behind Flea, but Glenn was too busy calling Ayla a cruel witch. Ayla saw Crono, and hurled insults at him.
Tryuiop looked amused for the first several minutes of turmoil, but after clearing his throat failed to silence the testees, he pulled the table out from under them. They all fell to the ground, cowering away from each other. But at least they were silent. "Ahem. I am glad to see that you have all passed your tests. I would have you all know that the whole test was illusion, no matter how real it may have seemed. None of it is true, so you have nothing to fear from your companions."
With that statement, they all looked at one another, saw that it was true, and began chattering again, this time with hugs and apologies and explanations. Tryuiop let them talk themselves out. Finally, they were all silent, and he continued. "You have all done exceptionally well. Faced with oddities your hearts could not begin to imagine, you all triumphed. But that was just the beginning of the third test."
"WHAT!?!" The eleven exclaimed as one.
Marle groaned. "Just the beginning?"
Tryuiop nodded. "Yes, I am afraid. That test was to weed out those not worthy. And, apparently, you are all worthy. Now, you must earn the pendant with which you will kill Jas-chu." He brought the table back, and arranged on it three coconut halves, open side down. From a pocket deep in his robe, he brought out a silver pendant with a black stone. He placed it under the center shell. Then, he spun the shells around with blinding speed, until, once again, they stood before him. "You must guess which one holds the pendant. You have three guesses."
The eleven heroes exchanged glances and rolled their eyes. Crono laughed. "That's easy!" He pointed to the middle shell. Tryuiop lifted it, but the pendant was not underneath it. "Okay, how about the one on the right?" Tryuiop lifted that shell, but the pendant was not there, either.
"You have one more guess."
"Well, I'll obviously take the last remaining shell." It was lifted, and lo and behold, the pendant was there.
"Congratulations, thanks to your intelligence and wit, you have passed the third test." Tryuiop smiled, and placed the pendant around Crono's neck.
He studied it for a moment, then turned back to Tryuiop. "If you don't mind me saying so, sir, that was a really dumb test."
Tryuiop tried as well as he could to stifle laughter. "I know! It was, It was a joke!! Ha, ha, ha!!"
"Yes! The third test was your individual tests! I was just making a joke! Hee, hee!"
The eleven companions exchanged more glances, this time summing up the thought that this guy was not quite right in the head.
Tryuiop rolled on the floor laughing, and soon, the companions could do little else but join in.
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