The Children Of Zeal Chapter 7
By Froborr d'Wiggy
Chapter Seven Characters:
Crono: Level **
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Moon Armor
Accessory: Frenzy Band
Lucca: Level **
Weapon: Wonder Shot
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Prism Dress
Accessory: Gold Stud
Marle: Level **
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Prism Dress
Robo: Level **
Weapon: Peta Arm
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Moon Armor
Accessory: Frenzy Band
Lucent: Level 25
Weapon A: Fists
Weapon B: Burst Rifle
Weapon C: Chain Sword
Head: Guardia Helm
Body: Nova Armor
Guardia: Level 23
Head: Lode Helm
Body: Lumin Robe
Janala: Level **
Head: Midnight Helm
Body: Eclipse Armor
"Ah HA!" cried Lucca. "I've made contact with something!"
"Great work," said Spekkio. "Well, I've gotta get going, and clean out my end of the End " Spekkio vanished through the door to his chamber at the End of Time, closing the door behind him.
"Thanks for the help!" yelled Lucca after his departing form, and then turned excitedly to Crono and Robo. "Here goes!" she said, and flicked a switch on the machinery in front of her.
There was a long pause, and then a voice sounded quietly, seeming to swirl through the air around them.
"You!" said Marle. "The Entity!"
Yes. I see you've found the Guru's link, his "Eyes of Time".
"This is how he knew all these things, through you?" asked Lucca.
No. I never spoke to him through the Eyes of Time; he was skilled enough to make them show whatever, whenever he wished. You lack that skill, and so it is necessary for me to help you.
"All right so what is it that we need to see? How do we stop this Janala guy?"
The Dreamer is threatened. You must stop them from destroying it. But be warned--I cannot prevent the Omens from fighting you, as well as them. You will have to fight through the Omens to reach them.
It will be my new body, once the Good Omen is complete. It is being constructed in 600 AD as we speak, of pure Dreamstone.
"All right," said Lucca. "Can you give us more detail?"
The voice in the darkness was very angry, Vincent could tell. "You two imbeciles have failed in ridiculously simple tasks! How could mere, pathetic mortal humans defeat you?" it demanded of the Masters.
"I'm sorry, mother," whined the nearer, a cloaked and cowled figure, cowering before her.
The figure screamed as it was hurled bodily against the wall, and slumped to the floor, whimpering.
"As for you, Psychosis, what have you to say for yourself?"
The other Master raised his head, his gaudily-colored uniform making him look like a Nazi after an explosion in a paint factory. "Mother, please, allow me another chance. Most of my power was tied up manipulating that little girl the last time I faced them--let me take them on in the Dream!"
The voice in the dark pondered a moment, and then nodded--somehow, though it was completely invisible, Vincent could tell these things. "Go, then. But if you fail me again let us simply say that pain will not even begin to describe what you will experience."
Psychosis bowed. "Yes, mother," he said, and then vanished with a giggle. Thanatos also departed, leaving Vincent alone with the being the Masters called "Mother", Uranos having not shown up tonight.
"Your training is nearly complete, Vincent, my darling," the voice said--and now it truly sounded like a mother, warm and soft and comforting.
"Truly, mo--um "
The voice laughed gently. "Ah, my sweet, don't worry. In a few moments the final stage of your training will begin. You will experience what I will be making you Master of in all its possible forms and dimensions, and then you will be remade. Then I shall truly be your mother, as I am theirs."
"Thank you, mother!" cried Vincent, incredible happiness filling him as he realized his years of apprenticeship were about to be realized, and power beyond all science, all magic would be his--he would achieve Mastery! "What am I to experience, what am I to be Master of?" he asked, relishing the power in that simple word 'Master'.
A hint of its earlier darkness crept into the Mother's voice as it said, "Pain."
And Vincent was sucked howling into the dark.
"So," said Lucent, "we need to prevent Janala and the Magus from destroying this Dreamer, right?"
"Right. Once it's online, it'll be able to defend itself--we just need to hold them off long enough for the Omens to finish it," Lucca answered.
"Hmm. I don't like this. The Omens killed Doan and the others--can we trust them so easily, or this 'Entity' that controls them?"
Robo shook his head. "Gaia helped us to destroy Lavos, we can trust her, Lucent. She is only using the Omens to build her ship home, and then she will depart--it is likely that the power she gave the Omens to do this corrupted them sufficiently to cause them to turn to evil in our time."
"All right still, the Magus was pretty heavy stuff, wasn't he? And this Janala is probably as bad or worse--are you sure we're strong enough to face them?"
Crono looked over at the door to Spekkio's room.
"Hey, good idea, Crono!" enthused Marle. "We can ask him for the High Magic, like he gave Lucent!"
Unfortunately, as they found out a few minutes later when they entered Spekkio's room, it wasn't so simple. "Sorry, kids, but no can do. Granting magic is a one-shot thing, and I've already given you your powers. The only ones with High Magic are gonna be the unbeliever and the kid with the radical haircut."
Everyone turned to look at Crono, and then Marle turned to Spekkio. "What are you talking about, you gave him lightning magic!"
"True--but he has the power already in him for light! Or did Luminaire look like a lightning spell to you? It sure doesn't to me! Still Luminaire ain't much, compared to what Light can do--something must be locking your powers away, same as the Marlin's--or didn't you know? Shadow's just a weak version of Dark Lightning, Fire, and Water down below, Dark, Light, and Magic up above "
"Magic?" asked Lucca. "Aren't they all magic?"
Spekkio laughed. "Of course, but Magic is REALLY magical. It lets you control magic directly--steal other people's spells and powers, grant powers, move pure magic around there's not much that Magic can't do, if you're good at it. It's what I've got, what Lavos had--"
"And what Mother and I have," said Guardia quietly.
Spekkio peered at her. "Well, if it ain't a baby Marlin! Yep, it's what you've got, kid--so it looks to me like you people are loaded for bear. I don't think you'll need more than this to fight anything short of a Lavos family reunion!"
Crono nodded thanks to Spekkio, and they turned to head back for the Epoch's dock.
As the Epoch was about to head off into time, Guardia suddenly asked a question. "How will the Omens know the difference between us and Janala?"
As it turned out, they didn't. The small group had to fight off wave after wave of Omens, both humans and Mystics, as they forced their way deeper into the Omen stronghold in the Denadoro Mountains of 600 AD. Guardia warded off the Mystics' magic, while Lucca and Marle struck out with their own, Crono, Robo, and Lucent relying mainly on their weapons. At last, they found themselves in a small chamber in the midst of the caverns, the flow of Omens seeming, at least for the moment, to have stopped. Nearby, still not aware of their presence, an Imp in a lab coat appeared to be sliding Dreamstone chunks into a large latticework of pure Dreamstone. Lucca shook her head quietly. "Who would have thought that Denadoro was the wreckage of the Kingdom of Zeal, with all that lost Dreamstone still locked inside?"
"Who cares?" asked Marle. "Let's just get this over with, it's ICKY down here!"
The six started forward, but came to a halt as a dark figure, its back to them, seemed to congeal out of the shadows before the entrance to the next chamber. Marle joked back a gasp of surprise, and the figure whirled on them.
Zeal-blue hair sprang from the top of his head in an array of thick spikes, a couple hanging down towards his pale face and cold eyes. He was dressed in neat black armor, and over it hung a black cloak, making the pale, washed-out blue of his hair seem somehow even less colorful, despite the contrast with his otherwise black-and-white form. He was, obviously, Janala--they could tell instantly that this was the Magus' father.
"You are the ones working for Gaia, I suppose. Are you all I rate from her, now?" He smiled coldly. "Oh, well. You might be fun for a little while."
In response, Lucent drew his burst rifle. Concentrating, he channeled a wave of pure light into the barrel, blending it with the blast he fired. The shot struck Janala, and exploded in flare of light--leaving him standing, arms crossed, smiling coldly still. "Oh, please," he said, "I know I rate better than THAT!"
Grimacing, Lucent repeated his trick--but this time, Guardia threw in her effort as well, amplifying and extending Lucent's powers as he launched his attack, a perfectly timed blast from Lucca's Wonder Shot striking Janala at the same time, the two attacks interacting in a massive explosion, that nearly blinded all six of the combatants.
Unfortunately, the effects on Janala were still the same--nothing. Angrily, Lucent returned his burst rifle to its place at his side and kicked on the chain sword. Shouting, "Damn magic anyway!" he charged Janala, swinging the chain sword in a vicious attack.
Janala's own blade, a long, curving sword, perfectly balanced and so black it seemed to suck the light from the air around it, sliced gracefully upwards to meet Lucent's charge, while a full laser and plasma-bolt attack from Robo sputtered harmlessly against Janala. The teeth of the chain sword caught on the defending blade's edge, and stuck, the backshock hurtling Lucent against Guardia and causing the chain sword to fly across the room, slamming into Robo and knocking him to the ground in the same sort of tangle Lucent and Guardia now found themselves in.
"What IS that sword?" demanded Lucent, as he struggled to his feet.
Janala's smile turned larger and colder. "I call it the Collapsar," he said, "and this the Collapsar Strike!" He swung his sword in a tight arc, sending out a wave of darkness that knocked his opponents flying.
"This is NOT going well!" said Marle unneccessarily, as she and Lucca struck with Antipode 4, healing their scratched and bruised allies, but not touching Janala at all.
Janala yawned. "Unfortunately, I must be going soon--I have a date with the Dreamer. If you'll excuse me " He bowed, and the gestured with the fingers of one hand. Huge balls of dark energy gathered in his fist, similar to Lucca's Flare spell, as the world seemed to fall away. Darkness, infinite and unbounded and hungry, roared at the six others, seeming to consume them inside and out, leaving them stunned, paralyzed, and badly hurt--except one.
When the world returned to normal, Janala found himself facing Crono, Rainbow in hand.
"Most impressive," he said quietly. "Not even scratched by my spells--not even the wizard you brought could fling them off! I see you'll require special attention." Flicking his wrist, he sent a huge ball of dark energy spinning at Crono--only to have it dissipate a few inches away from him.
"How..?" questioned Janala, staring at Crono, seeing in the boy's eyes that he had no idea why Janala's spells couldn't hurt him, either. Janala's expression darkened--it had been a long time since someone had come even this close to beating him. With a sudden blaze of speed, he rushed Crono, dancing around him to sow as much confusion in his enemy as possible--the origin of the Confusion move's name--as he struck three times, only to have the Rainbow parry his blows every time. Leaping high into the air, Collapsar slashing down towards Crono's skull, Janala brought the two blades crashing together.
A flare of white light filled the room as the Rainbow exploded, sending Janala staggering back, dropping to the floor in exhaustion and pain, an arm flung up to shield him from as much of the light as possible. When at last the light cleared, he saw Crono, standing there, looking shocked, the broken hilt of his now-useless weapon still clutched in both hands.
Sheathing the Collapsar, Janala glared at Crono. "You win this round, boy, however you did that but mark my words. I will return, and then you will find that Janala the Black is NOT a person to be trifled with!" So saying, he vanished again in a whiff of darkness.
Dimly through the endless agony that tore at his very soul, Vincent could hear voices speaking.
"They've defeated Janala, temporarily. At least, the medieval boy did, somehow."
A whistle. "Sweet. They're better than we gave them credit for."
"Maybe but there seemed to be some kind of weird reaction between him and Janala. You think it's that effect we yanked from the Gurus' minds?"
"The Limitation Factor, you mean? But doesn't that require a special kind of time travel?"
"Oh, come on! What do you think the Twistor is, a trolley-car? They've had PLENTY of that sort of time travel, at least Janala has."
"But if it's the Limitation Factor, then the boy and Janala must be "
"Yup. Opens up some interesting possibilities, no?"
Slowly, with the help of the Omens--who after the defeat of Janala, finally accepted that Crono was a friend--the five wounded recovered from effects of Janala's spell (a simple, cheap Night Fall, I later recognized by their description). At last, they were ready to witness the activation of the Dreamer, the first step in the release of the Entity's long imprisonment.
The Imp who was the Omen's chief designer explained to them what it did. "They used to have one in Zeal, in the 'City of Dreams'. It's a latticework of pure Dreamstone, designed to hold and support a very large and powerful mind, translating its actions into reality. The mind to control it, however, doesn't exist yet. We first have to create the Extensor, which will allow the Dreamer to extend its search for such a mind through time, leaping into the future until the time when we'll have completed that mind. Then it will return, and the power of the three united, raised up in the body of the Omen, will give us the power to end war and hunger and poverty, and bring about a Golden Age for all, raising us into the stars as the Good Omen departs for freedom!
"Until then," the Imp continued, "the Dreamer searches for the mind capable of using its powers. Unable to find one, it instead adds life and color to the dreams of those around it, speaking wisdom into their minds as they sleep--even letting them speak to each other and share their dreams! You, having rescued the Dreamer, will be granted an amazing award--you will join us on the First Night, sleeping in the glory of the finished Dreamer!"
The others agreed, except Robo, who was incapable of sleep, and said he would simply watch over the others.
And so, that night, they slept, drawn into the Dreamer--but something watched, and entered the Dream with them.
Something which found that dreams were but a step away from madness, and found that thought very appealing.
That night they faced the Master of Madness--in his very own realm.
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