Resiliency is an important factor in living. The winds of life may bend us, but if we have resilience of spirit, they cannot break us. To courageously straighten again after our heads have been bowed by disappointment and suffering is the supreme test of character.
-From: Apples of Gold Compiled by Jo Petty
Jacious and Lucca trudged along the path; their focus was not on Ioka, but getting back to Epoch. Earthbound village, circa 11,997 BC was their goal, and barring any more heated arguments or hiccups by the Epoch, they would reach it while the sun yet shone.
Walking behind Lucca, who insisted on remaining several steps ahead of him, Jacious ended another period of aching silence. So how long as it been since you've seen Janus anyway?
Lucca waited a minute before responding in a professional tone, which made Jacious feel as if he had just asked a teacher when he could go to lunch. Since we parted ways after defeating Lavos. He was gone without a word. She let out a small sigh, a smile on her lips as she recalled their adventure. It's been a long time since then.
Jacious placed his hands behind his head casually, his eyes facing the sky. True. He was always so focused on finding his sister. His voice revealed a surprising passion; Such determination. Such spirit. It's easy to see he loved her so much. A smile played across his lips. What did you think of him?
Lucca shrugged, noncommittally. To be honest, I never talked to him much. He never seemed too happy to be traveling with us. He was OK... I guess.
Yep. He was like that in the game, too. He spoke only when necessary it seemed, or whenever he was spoken to first. I can't wait to meet him. I feel like he's the closest thing I have to a relative here. Jacious kept his smile, his excitement all too evident in his voice.
Lucca snorted with disbelief, peering at Jacious with narrow eyes. He'll probably ignore us. He'll probably kill you. He probably won't even be there. You're way too optimistic... I mean, this is MAGUS we're talking about, here.
Of course! he replied, as if those two words were a point in themselves. He's Magus. He's also Janus of Zeal. I mean, don't you see? The guy offered a way to get Crono back. He HELPED you guys, so he does have a heart. Taking a few quick steps, he caught up to and passed Lucca on the path, in a hurry to reach the Epoch.
Luccas eyes darted off the path, unwilling to lose the argument. Yeah, when it serves his own motives.
Jacious knew that was true and shrugged. Isn't that how all of us are? We help people. Why? It's the right thing to do? Well what about those who do it because they're promised a good place in heaven? Maybe they enjoy the inner reward they feel. He turned around and wagged his finger, walking backwards as he spoke. You really need to give him a bit more credit. He's not that bad. In fact, he has a large fan base back on Earth. A LOT of girls happen to like him...a LOT.
Can't see why. He always smelled kinda funny. And you're right, we're all self-serving-- but he's just more manipulative and sinister about it. Lucca snorted in derision.
Jacious grinned and turned back around so Lucca couldnt see his face. The girls would say it's his musk.
She threw her hands into the air. Gah! The people in your world are starved for attention, aren't they? Writing dirty stories, drawing dirty pictures. What's wrong with their neighbors? Arent their neighbors interesting enough?
Jacious ducked under a bit of brush he noticed before it was too late. Hey, not all of them are like that you know. I swear, it's like you focus on the perverted stuff. After a moment to think, he continued, There was a lot of wonderful art, depicting battle scenes or scenes of tranquility. Ahh, there were also those pictures of Schala standing outside Zeal. Art can capture so much, ya know?
All you ever seem to talk about is porn. How am I supposed to know what actually goes on in your world if youre giving me biased information?
Jacious snickered, realizing Luccas porn issues were more likely in her head than his. After several steps on the path, he sighed, Blast, where is Epoch? Are we there yet?
Yeah, keep your shirt on. It's just a little further. Lucca stepped ahead of him again and pressed through a thick wall of brush. There before them in all its glory was the Epoch, sparkling in the sunlight.
Jacious immediately ran up to the time machine, placing his hand on the metal and rubbing gingerly. Great! Epoch, you're a sight for sore eyes. I've missed ya, babe. So, did you miss us?
Lucca rolled her eyes, IF Epoch could talk, which it can't, it'd tell you to sit down, shut up, and let me drive. Grinning at him, she vaulted into the drivers seat before he could complain.
Oh hush. Just remember what happened last time. Be careful or I'll make you let me drive. I hear that prevents that condition. He found the belts and strapped in, At least I know you CAN pilot.
Lucca shook her head and, as before, pressed and pulled a series of buttons and levers with almost blinding speed. The Epoch's pretty complicated.
He said plainly, I can manage. I mean if you can handle it, surely I can learn it easily. He grinned at his words and added, So, shall we ride off into the sunset?
Keeping her mouth shut and showing off, she worked the Epoch even faster than before. Jacious couldnt help but think she was throwing in unnecessary buttons and switches just to complicate the process. Without warning, she threw the accelerator, and the Epoch instantly jet up and forward, coming way too close to the treeline for comfort.
Jacious, once again, grabbed a hold of the seat for support, belts not really helping him feel better, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! LUCCA YOU CRAZY WOMAN! IF YOU KILL ME I'LL MAKE SURE YOU NEVER REST! Laughing maniacally, she twisted the steering and did a barrel roll, holding the Epoch upside down for a few seconds. It was fortunate they were both wearing their seatbelts. Clenching the seat for dear life, Jacious was feeling a bit lightheaded. LUCCA! YOU STOP THAT THIS INSTANT BEFORE I PUKE! Oh man that better stop her.
Still upside down, she thrust the accelerator forward to its max, then pulled it hard and fast to the rear. As Jacious expected from experience, the Epoch made a thunderous crash like shattering glass, and the world faded. Jacious closed his eyes, trying to force down feelings of nausea. He couldn't get used to her driving. Not like that...His fingers were threatening to force themselves through the seat, his knuckles white from the grip. He opened his eyes, and they immediately widened in shock. He was looking straight down into a vast, roiling expanse of iceberg-strewn ocean. OH MY GOD!
Finally, Lucca quickly jerked the steering and the Epoch righted itself, decelerating rapidly as she guided it toward a small island straight ahead. Her ear-to-ear grin was threatening to split her face in two. Jacious held his hand over his heart, panting. You....are....the....devil...incarnate.
Ain't it the truth? Lucca laughed. Jacious heart sped up by a few beats.
Jacious held his stomach. At least....I managed....to stay well.... He muttered the last word, witch.
After that flight, her landing was remarkably gentle, and the Epoch grounded with a crunch on the pristine snow of North Cape. Thank you for flying Lucca airlines, the local time is 11,997 BC. Muehe.
Jacious leapt out of Epoch, as fast as he could, getting his bearings once his feet hit the ground. He kept his knees bent, getting the blood back in his head where it should be. I'm going to make you pay for that. He looked over his shoulder glaring. Mark my words.
Lucca actually looked innocent Jacious guessed it was from years of practice. What? What did I do? I got us here fast, without incident, and that landing was as gentle as a mother would set down her baby. She hopped down from the cockpit, and circled around to the back of the Epoch, opening a compartment in the rear, and pulling out two thick woolen travel cloaks. She handed one of them to Jacious. Here. It's cold in this time period.
Jacious stood up, finally getting himself together. He snapped the coat from her with a glare, putting it on. Fine. Lead the way, Lucca. I'd easily get lost in this snow.
Lucca rolled her eyes, Well. Somebody's cranky...
Oh? You think? He secured the cloak around him. What gave you that idea?
They headed off down the cape, the ground leveling out as they traveled inland. The snow was actually only a few inches thick, so walking wasn't especially difficult. The sun, meanwhile, reflecting off the snow, threatened to blind them both, and Lucca kept one hand over her eyes so she could see. Just because I had a little fun with Epoch, you're all upset. You need to lighten up!
Jacious smirked, grabbing a bit of snow in his bare hands and rolling it into a ball. He squinted to keep her in his sight. You're absolutely right Lucca. Lucca looked over the land, surveying it, hearing nothing. Lucca! His voice sounded urgent.
What?!? She turned around quickly, already pulling the Wondershot from its holster.
He threw the snow ball forward with a good bit of strength, giving her a solid pop on the head. He V'ed his fingers, Victory, sucka! He laughed, You're right. I feel better already!
Augh! Dropping her gun, Lucca put her hands to her face and tried to wipe off some of the snow. Of course, some of it dislodged and fell straight down her shirt. As it did, Lucca squealed like a stuck pig and did the cold thing where you can't get at it dance. You! You! A moment later, having fully recovered, and with a vicious grin, she leaned down and grabbed a handful of snow, not even bothering to form a ball with it. With a battle cry, she ran and tackled Jacious and shoved the freezing handful down the back of his shirt as they fell with a crunch and a tangle of limbs into the snow.
Jacious eyes widened from the cold shock. Oh now you're going to pay! Baring his teeth, he rolled them over, pinning Lucca as he straddled her in a rather provocative position. Okay Miss Ashtear, revenge is mine. Prepare to get a shirt full of snow.
She pulled her arms up protectively, laughing. Where's Marle when I need her?
Magus levitated several feet from the ground, glaring down upon them. As usual, he wore his standard leather armor and purple cape. His hair flowed down his back like a waterfall, and he held his Doom Scythe threateningly. His voice was calm but menacing, Am I disturbing you?
Luccas laugh died as she saw the magicians cold, familiar expression. Magus? What a... pleasant surprise...
In surprise, Jacious looked up, his hold on her lightening slightly. Um....it's not what it seems?
Magus lowered himself to the ground, his glare seemingly carved permanently into his face. He glanced to Jacious, noticing his blue hair, then back to Lucca, his voice calm, but very cold. I didn't know you took an interest in Zealots.
Jacious, careful not to make any sudden movements, slowly got up from his position over Lucca. It's not what you think. I was just getting off her. Um...wait, that doesn't sound right. Jacious tried a small smile to ease the situation, Umm...hi Janus, pleased to meet you.
Lucca, standing, glanced between Magus and Jacious, finally answering the question. Im not sure what you mean, Magus.
Magus growled slightly, pointing his scythe at Jacious. He has blue hair. Do you take me for a fool? His eyes narrowed onto Jacious, registering the boys use of his given name. How do you know that name His glance flicked back to Lucca, accusingly. Jacious, in the meantime, kept his nervous smile, letting the old friends have their rather awkward reunion.
Lucca shrugged, her initial surprise wearing off. I know he's from Zeal, but I don't know any more than that. About your name, he figured that one out on his own. She crossed her arms, taking a step backwards, withdrawing from the conversation. He's come a long way looking for you, Magus. I think he'd better explain himself.
Jacious blinked, deciding to give the shortened version. Yeah, umm. I just came from another dimension after being transported from Zeal.
Magus put up his scythe, Explain yourself fully, unless you wish to face the void.
Jacious nodded, gulping. Beads of sweat were on his forehead already just by the tone in Magus voice. Yeah, sure, no sweat The name is Jacious Sram. My father was a Zealot and my mother was an Earthbound... I haven't remembered more than that. Before Zeal came down, when I was four, I was transported through a gate to a different world, losing all my memories. I grew up normally, he pointed to his head, minus this. Nobody has blue hair where I went. Anyway, I grew up and played a game called Chrono Trigger. Thus, through some of the most detailed dreams I ever had, I learned of my origins and studied time stream theory, eventually creating a gate that helped me get here. I'm stuck here now.
Magus simply raised an eyebrow, That seems a bit farfetched. You could be lying. He turned to Lucca, If he's too bothersome, I could kill him for you.
Luccas lips turned slightly upward. I actually think he's telling the truth... and though your offer is tempting
Jacious eyes narrowed. Bite me, Lucca.
Do you want me to help you out here or not, Jacious? Lucca laughed, her hands on her hips.
Magus smirked, Oh, so you're doing that with each other. I see
Lucca did a double take, W-Wh-Whaaaaat???
Magus was always rather blunt in his observations. You two seem to fight a lot. I shouldn't have interfered with your mating rituals. He kept his smirk. He found the situation quite amusing.
Jacious turned red. MAGUS! What are you smoking! I'd never... not with her! Marle maybe...but not her!
MARLE? she shouted back, Yeah, I'd like to see Crono slice you in two when he found out! Lucca shook her head, fuming, This is NOT the time for this. Ignoring Jacious, she turned to Magus. He's all yours, Magus. Please. Take him far, far away from me.
Magus gave an evil grin. You want me to separate you two from each other forever then?
Jacious blinked, I don't like the way he said that. Tapping Lucca's shoulder, he whispered softly into her ear, You should deny that statement.
Taken aback slightly, Lucca carefully replied, Maybe not forever... but at least as long as it takes to knock some sense into him.
Magus grin disappeared, the joke over. Deal with it yourself. Sram family or not...the traitor is not my concern.
Jacious was very much surprised by the comment. Traitor? What do you mean? I'm no traitor to anyone!
You don't seem to remember much about your family. I will explain. His voice was far from friendly.
Magus kept his eyes on Jacious as he explained. It was a while before the King of Zeal died. Your father was the advisor to the royal family, somewhat close to Dalton's previous position. His face remained emotionless through the bastard's name, He was rather close to the queen and king, earning their respect. I was a few years old at the time. Soon, though, the King died and your father fell in love. The Earthbound weren't treated so harshly then, but it was the first pairing of such two different backgrounds. After the King's death, mother became infuriated, and thus she began to hate Earthbound, seeing them inferior.
His tone turned colder, Your father quit his job, running and hiding with your mother. Soon you would be born. Dalton took your father's place while your family hid and kept you safe. Of course, you know the rest of that story. It's a shame. Your father was much stronger than you currently are. It must be your mother's blood that holds you down. He smirked as he finished.
Humanity isn't weakness, Magus, Lucca cut in.
Jacious blinked, the anger that was growing diminishing just as quickly at the fact that Lucca had defended him, What was that?
Magus looked idly to Lucca but still addressing Jacious. Humans are weak, being ruled by whoever is stronger. Your father chose a non Zealot as a mate, and you are the result, Jacious. How do you feel about that?
Jacious growled softly, his anger returning. Take that back...my mother was strong from what I remember, you cold hearted bastard.
Lucca placed her hand on Jacious' shoulder, and spoke to him quietly. Calm down. This is what he DOES. Blinds you with anger. Don't let him get the best of you. Lucca shot a warning glance at the magician. I'm 100% human, Magus, and I'm not weak. I'm sure Jacious' mother was strong as well.
Magus smiled slightly, enjoying Jacious anger. I see. Do you care to fight me? Will you hide behind the strong woman in front of you?
Jacious rapidly clenched and unclenched his right fist as if trying to make up his mind, Shut the hell up before I give you something to think about Magus...I don't need anyone to protect me. I'm stronger than that.
If you care to taste the ground, you pitiful fool, feel free to attack. Magus said icily.
Lucca....back off....I have some business to take care of.
Magus was laughing darkly by now, You do not even have a weapon. Can you even challenge me without one?
I don't need a weapon, his lips curled into a thin smile, Janus Zeal. There's more to a battle than the weapon.
Lucca whispered harshly into his ear. This is foolish! Ayla beat you easily. This is MAGUS you're facing! You're not strong enough for this! And I'm not trying to insult you, but I don't want to see you killed! And he will not go easy on you!
What will you do, boy? Magus challenged.
Remembering Ayla's victory over him, Jacious growled and turned around, marching back to Epoch. Fuck it. I'm going to go rest my eyes. I've seen too much black today.
Lucca looked after him, but didnt follow. Magus crossed his arms, silent until Jacious had passed beyond earshot. Very nice... though I didn't think he would actually listen to you, Lucca.
He didn't want to, I'll tell you that much. She said coolly.
Obviously. Interesting to see a second magic-using Zealot around. I never even thought he would have survived.
He's more resilient than he looks. Lucca said simply with a hint of pride.
Magus kept smirking, I see. And what is his relation to you?
Lucca shrugged, I'm the one who found him, I'm the one Crono charged to help him. He's here to uncover a bit about his past. He rather hoped you would help him. She fixed Magus under a piercing gaze.
Magus face revealed nothing; it was impossible to tell just how much he was unnerved by her look. I already have. I told him of his heritage. However unsettling it might appear to be, I did not lie, woman.
You knew of his father. But you had nothing but insults for his mother, whom you didn't even know. She was quiet for a moment. Did you find her? she asked, knowing he would catch the reference.
Magus looked over to the endless flowing currents of the ocean. When he answered, his voice was tired and low. No she loved them, you know... I never knew why.
Lucca also looked over the horizon. She was kind, and they were good people.
But the kingdom hated them so...they lived in such a primitive place. He turned to her. What do you want me to do about it? What is done is done, and I said what I felt was needed to be said.
I agree. You said what he needed to hear. But he needs more from you. Looking up the cape, she continued, He needs...guidance, I think. He's spent his life absorbed in himself... feeling totally alone...building his strength... Lucca looked back to Magus with a faint, knowing smile. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Magus hmphed, his voice challenging her to answer. Are you saying that weakling is like me?
She took only a moment to review her words before she replied. Yes. Yes, I am. Lucca could see the thought through Magus eyes. He was thinking the same thing. Magus you see yourself in Jacious dont you?
Magus would not verbally agree with her, though. No. He is too soft. I do not see any comparison. Besides, his magical skills are weak as mine are not...I do not see the point. He crossed his arms defiantly, though it was physically apparent to anyone that something was troubling him about the comparison.
Lucca smirked, her reply ready. But with training... he could become very powerful. He wants to learn from you.
For one of the few times in his life, Magus was surprised. Possibly more surprised than the day he faced Lavos by himself in Zeal by his own failure and Cronos sacrifice. Me? Why would he want such a thing? I am not a light teacher.
His is not light magic. Lucca said with humor in her voice.
You know what I meant, smartass he replied bluntly. To this, Lucca gave a chuckle.
Magus turned to Epoch. His voice back to his cold tone, I felt that darkness in his heart. He has been batting against it, but it overcomes him easily. Have you seen him fight?
Lucca nodded, Yes, to the point of exhaustion, once. He doesn't know his own strength or how to control it. He puts too much power into low-level spells.
Magus clarified. I meant, how does he respond to battle itself? Does it fuel him or does he remain calm?
His temper's shorter than mine, Lucca admitted. He's not 'cool calm and collected' by any stretch.
I see. So he's in that degree. He allows his fighting spirit to overcome his senses... I might train him after all.
Lucca was surprised that Magus had accepted so quickly, as she had thought he would require a great deal of convincing. Might?
Magus nodded. I need to test him. I want to see just how far he is willing to go without him knowing it is a test. Let him fight me. He grinned, I won't promise a lack of pain, but I will promise not to kill him.
Lucca smiled, glad Magus would do that much. She had a good feeling about the arrangement. Do you want him to come in angry or calm?
Just tell him I said something about his mother, and he will take it from there. Make the comment a rather juicy one, will you? Magus kept his face unreadable, When I am through with him, I shall return him to your hands.
Lucca nodded, giving a bow of her head. Thank you. She turned around and ran off towards the Epoch.
Magus shook his head, part of him in disbelief that he had accepted. Youre getting soft Janus.
Meanwhile, Jacious leaned up against Epoch, facing the ocean view over the North Cape. That bastard...I swear, Epoch, I'll kick his ass to the moon.
Lucca padded to Jacious' side, panting heavily. I... I talked to Magus.
Jacious said coldly, And what did the son of a bitch have to say?
Lucca hid her smile. He said that... he will not speak to any half-breed, and he called you the son of a...of a whore.
Jacious clenched his teeth, his hand balled up to a fist. He felt anger pour into him. A low feral growl escaped his lips. You're kidding me.
Lucca sounded sad, and she looked down, hiding her smile. I'm sorry, Jacious. I'm not even telling you the worst of it, but I don't want to repeat his words.
Jacious hit Epochs metal side with his fist. Damn that mother...he's going to pay! He stormed off to Magus before hearing another word, Lucca running quickly behind him. As Jacious tread through the snow, he prepared a fire spell in his right hand, letting it flicker ominously as he approached the magician. You'll pay for what you said!
Seeing the senseless boy coming, Magus prepared a barrier. Whatever Lucca said, he smiled, it worked. Please. You can't do a thing to me. You're a weak fool!
Lucca shouted, half trying, Wait! Jacious! You're not strong enough!
Ignoring Luccas half-hearted comment, he shouted, Forget me! It's what you said about my mother! Eat this! He cast a second-level fire spell which spread quickly, enveloping the one who he deemed his enemy...Magus. Lucca made sure to stop beyond the range of the spell, a worried look painted on her face.
The spell barely scratched Magus through his barrier. Hmm...that wasn't half bad. Please, that was nothing more than an ant bite!
Lucca bit her lower lip. I hope I did the right thing...
Growling, Jacious panted from the effort and his anger. I said it doesn't matter what you say about me you faggot! He clapped his hands together and spread them, small blue bolts dancing through his fingers. Raising his hands above his head, he summoned a Lightning level two, which filled the air around them, making the hair on Luccas neck stand on end.
Keeping his barrier up, Magus laughed. Pathetic! You try to dish it out, but can you take it? Magus pointed his finger at Jacious, and in the air above the boy, a great black empty shape formed, hissing as it wrapped itself around him, eliciting screams of pain. The energies seemed to rip at his soul and eat him from within; a feeling unique to shadow magic. Once the spell had faded, sunk into the earth, Jacious looked to Magus with revenge in his eyes. Smoke rose from his body, and he already looked worn.
Lucca, though she knew Magus would keep his promise, stood ready to cast Flare if he went too far. Magus looked to the woman, nodding his head, sensing the energies she was preparing. He then looked back to Jacious, saying aloud, Not bad, half-breed.
Jacious launched himself at Magus, a ball of dark energy in his hands, DON'T CALL ME THAT!
Magus appeared to be "pleasantly" surprised, but allowed Jacious to make good on his attack, which slammed into his shoulder with magical force. Magus stumbled back slightly and rubbed the light wound, Not bad, he confessed, you might have potential. He pointed at Jacious again, beginning to enjoy himself. Dark Mist!
Though Jacious had managed this spell himself, from Magus hands it was vastly more powerful, the mist so thick it collected and weighed upon Jacious, who writhed blindly within it as he heard his own flesh sizzling. He bit back his screams, tears forming in the corner of his eyes as he dropped to one knee, focusing his magic only on holding back the worst effects of Magus spell. Finally, the mist faded away, and Jacious gulped the cold air as he expelled the last of the corrosive vapor from his lungs. He coughed, quietly, as he recovered.
Smirking, Magus believed the fight to be over. Jacious had done a decent job, he thought, but he wasnt about to show any sympathy. He took a few loud steps towards the boy, who still crouched on one knee, glaring. So, Jacious, are you finished? Magus looked to Lucca, nodding to her, though he noticed she still seemed anxious. This confused Magus; the boy was down, the battle over; shouldnt she have been relaxed? If she is still nervous Realization striking him, Magus looked quickly to Jacious.
He had stood on wobbly legs, eyes blistering with hatred, fingers curled in anger as he fixed the magician under a withering gaze. I'm not through yet... I have my own Dark Mist... and I can do anything I need to do....
Magus blinked, He won't stay down will he? he asked himself. Wanting to end the fight before Jacious killed himself with the effort of casting Dark Mist, Magus quickly sent a wave of frost through the ground, which quickly crackled up Jacious legs before he could dodge, locking him in place. The ice nearly instantly formed a solid block around him, leaving him frozen and without air.
Lucca, on the sidelines, ran quickly to Jacious side, looking anxiously at Magus. Let him go before he suffocates!
The magician nodded, and with a snap of his fingers, the ice shattered, Jacious unconscious form falling face-first into the snow. A light green aura sparkled around his body, the remnants of a barrier he had formed to protect himself. Magus walked slowly to the boys side, a small smile on his face at Jacious persistence. Nodding, he quietly admitted, He has spirit. Lucca smiled slightly as Magus added, Not bad. He might be a real Zealot yet...
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