Parasite: Part 2, Chapter 7
Portentous gray clouding oozed across the skyline. Having lost interest in their quarry, the Mystic manhunters raced one another to be the first to catch a glimpse of the legendary flatworm. Meridio stood in the doorway to Luccas house, urging the other adventurers to follow him.
Come on, he insisted. We have to reach Helminthes and lead it out of that town before it harms anybody!
But we need the pendants or we cant fight it, Crono reminded.
Its suicide to go after the monster without them, Marle added.
Its murder to let all those people die because we stalled here, the mercenary retorted.
The princess looked to the young swordsman. Hes right about that.
Maybe I cant damage Helminthes, Meridio declared bitterly, But I can do more than sit here and wait for it. Having said that, he bolted towards Zenan Bridge.
Lucca crept around Robos still form and asked: Did Gaspar really say that only Magic-users could perform the Shigenki Technique?
Crono turned a frustrated glance previous cast on Meridio to his friend. I dont think
Slamming the door to the back room open, Melchior shuffled past the stairs and a half-asleep Taban and approached the group, brandishing three small items on dirty, iron chains. I had to wait for the Mystics to leave before giving these to you, but here are the Shigenki pendants.
Reacting swiftly, Crono seized the ornaments; their blood-red Dreamstone casings held miniscule gold crests made of Sun Stone. For all the haste with which the Guru of Life had forged them, they seemed less structurally sound than his past creations. The boy paused a second to examine them, and the crude chains that were clearly picked up from a stockpile of Tabans extra supplies.
I know theyre a little sloppy, but they should work for your purposes, Melchior apologized. Now, before you go, you must listen to me. The Shigenki Technique is dangerous; Id much rather you had more time to practice it, but its too late to worry about that. In order to use the skill, you must channel your inner energies through the pendants and back into your bodies, in effect melding your very selves with your element.
Thats all there is to it? Marle queried as the lad handed her one of the three accessories.
It will be difficult enough to do that, the elder admitted. Now, hurry! I overheard the Mystics say Helminthes is in Lachesis!
Is that the town to the south, right next to the bridge? the Guardian heir confirmed.
As soon as Melchior began nodding, Crono tossed the last Shigenki talisman to Lucca and burst towards the doorway and the southern end of the land mass. Marle started after him, then stopped, hearing the third pendant thump clumsily against the floor. Seeing that the inventor had not picked it up, she asked:
Are you coming, Lucca?
Ill catch up with you; Ive got to reactivate Robo first, she said, smirking uncomfortably. To Melchior, she confessed: Its nothing personal, but I know we can beat Helminthes with his help if the pendants dont work.
An awkward pause ensued as the Guru eyed the young scientists odd expression, which mixed insistence with embarrassment. In that case, maybe I can help you, he finally responded.
Witnessing her friends face relax into a thankful smile, Marle grabbed her equipment from where it lay next to the front doorway and sprinted out to catch up with Crono. The ronin was himself racing to catch up with Meridio, yet it was clear that all three would likely run themselves to exhaustion by the time they reached the town of Lachesis. Marle removed her own family pendant, placed it in her quiver, and donned the dusty chain that bore the Shigenki ornament; it was unpredictably cold, and she almost lost her stride as she adjusted to the discomfort. However, she maintained her pace, and quickly spotted the swordsman ahead of her. He was more poorly rested than she, having slept on the floor the previous night, and seemed to be rapidly depleting his stamina.
Come on! she called out with a supportive pat on his back as she reached the boys side. He returned her smile somewhat and persisted across the Zenan Bridge. Upon traversing the span, the pair caught sight of Meridio racing along the edge of the village; he appeared to be watching something moving parallel to his path. Crowds of people scrambled outwards from the city, shrieking in terror, and a destructive rumbling accompanied clouds of debris and rubble spreading through the conurbation.
Without warning, a gigantic shape rose from among the houses. Rearing back, the immense form of Helminthes seemed to be waiting for Crono and Marle to clear the last few dozen yards to reach the border of Lachesis. It released a slow, foreboding growl as the citizens of the partially ravaged city continued to flee through the crumbling buildings.
These people were caught off guard, the princess observed. Helminthes must tunnel around the world when its underground and surprise everybody.
Noticing the pair coming nearer, Meridio ran to meet them. Weve got to lead it out of the city! he yelled over the din.
Hes right, Crono! Marle insisted.
Crono looked not to have heard either of them. Instead, he was staring straight into the vacant eyes of the monster worm. Helminthes had stopped its obliteration of the town, and seemed to be returning the stare. The mercenary and the young lady soon took heed of what was happening; Meridio broke the unnatural silence.
We know that its after you specifically, he pronounced calmly as the two opponents stood motionless. You have to try to draw it away from here.
Its not going anywhere, the swordsman replied, keeping his eyes to the beast. Crono slowly marched towards the city, checking to see that his pendant was still hanging around his neck before placing a hand on the sheathed Rainbow Sword; the giant worm, unmoving, flexed a few of its rough paddle-limbs as it kept its own stare fixed on him.
Meridio, staying alongside Marle, watched the boy stalk towards the creature, and sighed quietly to himself. Are you ready with that pendant? he asked the young lady.
I think, she answered, ignoring how closely the man had positioned himself to her.
The spectacle of the young swordsman walking towards a monster several score times his size at first brought a strange calm; both parties kept their eyes on each other, making no sudden or nervous motion. Meridio and Marle watched the lad enter the slowly settling cloud of annihilation to meet the great worm; the nigh rotten stench of Helminthes slowly filled their nostrils as the dust spread. The clouds filling the sky above them seemed to be stalking in, ready to unleash a powerful storm on the gathering.
Then, almost naturally and simultaneously, the two attacked, Crono leaping and drawing his weapon and Helminthes diving to intercept the boy. Time itself nearly slowed to allow the two foes to truly appreciate the oncoming battle.
Here goes, Meridio said ominously as he started towards the fight.
Marle saw the two combatants rush towards each other, Crono brandishing his sword and Helminthes baring its twisted mouthparts. She watched as the boy leapt towards the monsters waiting maw, sweeping his sword in an arc and burying the blade into the outer covering of its jaws. Her eyes fixed on him, and her body remained still as he hung for a sickening moment, his weapon pinned into the beasts pebbled hide. An arm of lightning punched into the ground several hundred yards behind them, but she never recalled hearing the thunder. When the flatworm finally shook the boy from its head, spraying a kind of greenish fluid from the wound, the princess followed his form with her eyes as it hit the ground near where Meridio was running. It was not until she noticed the mercenary running to attack that her trance broke and she realized that the battle had actually started.
Crono! she called, reaching the fallen swordsman to help him stand up. Are you okay?
He nodded and regarded the Shigenki talisman around his neck with a frown. Pulling himself to his feet, the lad hastily sheathed his sword and grasped the pendant. Meridio had already reached the monster, and was swinging his mace back and forth over his head, almost as if he intended to hypnotize the creature. Helminthes allowed the distraction, watching the man from its cobra-like posture, looking for an opening from which to strike.
Crono held the ornament and stretched his free left hand towards the monster. Grimacing, he tensed his arm and concentrated. Sending a spasm through the limb, a wild burst of electricity shot from his palm and snaked towards the beast; upon making contact, it dissipated with a radiance similar to the hue of the energy that seeped from the worms previous wound. Both Helminthes and Meridio stopped and glared at the swordsman.
This isnt working, he confessed to the young lady. Marle watched the beast slowly shuffle around the mercenary towards the boy. She grasped her own Shigenki pendant.
Let me try it.
She walked between Crono and the leisurely approaching Helminthes. Meridio ran to the beasts side and swung his mace at it. When the creature paused to swipe at him with a paddle, Marle shut her eyes and concentrated on the pendant. She could hear the man bellow in pain as the monster slapped him aside, but forced herself to focus.
Crono started to run to the mercenary, but stopped when he noticed an odd spatial distortion radiating from Marle. As the young lady held her eyes shut and clenched the Shigenki ornament, waves of energy quietly blurred her form. The boy gazed, awestruck, as she extended a hand and, gritting her teeth, fired a thin beam of blindingly white energy in Helminthes direction.
The flatworm paused at the sight of the small ray of energy long enough to give up a chance to dodge it. Smacking into the beats left side, the beam cuffed its hide and twisted Helminthes to one side. A quick choking sound erupted from the monsters throat, and it appeared paralyzed by the attack. Marle opened her eyes and beheld the stunned worm.
Did I do it? she queried.
Still gaping at the apparently injured beast, the swordsman pronounced, I think so.
The princess was about to leap joyfully when the image of the frozen monster, wheezing even more slowly than it usually did, inspired a thought. What do we do now?
Reacting swiftly, Crono ordered, Get it from behind! and ran towards the city. As they passed Meridio, painfully dragging himself to his feet, he grasped the boy roughly by the arm.
What happened? he demanded.
We have a plan was all the lad said in reply as he twisted his arm from Meridios grip. The man followed as the pair continued around Helminthes. The great worm was finally recovering from the shock of Marles attack, and was righting its posture.
The young lady again grasped her pendant and declared, Here goes. Slowly, Helminthes began shuffling around to face its assailants. Crono put his hand nervously to his sword, and Meridio brandished his own weapon; both prepared to distract the beast until Marle could summon the Shigenki Technique again.
Helminthes appeared to be taking its time, as it calmly turned around. From their proximity, the three could hear the ragged breathing of the once-aquatic beast. The Guardian heir forced this out of her mind and tried to remember how she had performed the technique previously.
Crono grimaced as the creature let out a steady, almost amused, growl. It completed its turn and paused to glower at the fighters before it. Suddenly, a brilliant flash of light erupted from where Marle stood. Her companions gaped at the fiercely blue, crackling aura that accompanied the blurring warp of space around the young lady. It was hard to focus on the image of the princess, but she appeared to be slowly turning a stare towards the monster worm.
Possibly as a reaction, Helminthes shrieked and reared back. Crono instinctively drew his luminescent sword; the monster swept its head downwards and charged. Meridio saw the princess, radiating cerulean energy, and threw his mace to the soil. He rushed towards her, yelling No! Passing Crono, he shoved the boy aside and tackled the young lady to get her out of Helminthes path. Instead of diving at Marle, the monster had actually aimed for the swordsman. Crono was unable to gain his balance in time to avoid the beasts charge, and was quickly overtaken by the creature.
Rolling along the ground, Marle lost her hold on the mysterious Shigenki energy and allowed it to dissipate. She strained to see what had happened to the boy, but Meridio held her to the dirt. Pushing him off of herself, she caught a glimpse of what Helminthes had done. Clamping the boy in its jaws, the monster pushed Crono through the rubble of the city. It was difficult to tell if he was still conscious, or even alive; his body flailed limply as it was shoved through a series of wooden house frames. It was clear that he was still holding onto the Rainbow sword, for it shone even through the clouds of dust and dirt kicked up by Helminthes rush.
Speechless, the young lady could do nothing but watch as the ronin was pushed through demolished buildings, each collision announcing itself with a sickening splintering sound. Finally reaching a part of town that it had not already devastated, Helminthes aimed its charge towards a new, stone-walled edifice. It smashed the building effortlessly, holding Crono in front as it did so. Sweeping its head upwards, the beast carried the swordsman to the sky above Lachesis. At the apex of its ascent, it pitched its head to one side and tossed the boys body away. Cronos figure hurled through the air like a rag doll, lazily releasing-- for the first time since he had acquired it-- its grip on the Rainbow Sword.
The blade dropped dully to the ruined streets of the town, and the luminous glow that it once sported dimmed before it hit the debris. Likewise, Crono flew listlessly into a crushed house foundation, raising little more than a swirl of dust as he landed.
Marle could only scream as she ran to the spot where he had landed. Tears trailed in her wake, and she tripped repeatedly over pieces of destroyed houses on her way to find his body. Helminthes had casually resumed its serpentine posture and slowly inched to where she was running. Meridio ran after the princess calling, Look out!
She turned a fierce glare to the monster, having guessed correctly that it would be moving towards the same direction. Balling her hands into tight fists, she assumed a ready stance and planned her attack.
Before the monster could act, the Guardian heir threw her palms forward and channeled her energies. A wide shaft of blue magic shot towards the monster, covering its head in a massive case of ice upon making contact. Weighed down by the ethereal substance, the flatworms head bowed forward. Marle clenched her teeth and increased the force of her attack, nearly encasing the entire head and first few segment of the beast. Before she could finish, Helminthes bent backwards and flexed its head upwards, shattering the ice covering.
Meridio stopped where he stood, awed by the display of mystical energy. He took a look at the creature, slowed by the frigid assault, and then gazed at Marle, who looked fatigued by the effort. Gurgling lethargically, the creature lowered its form and began creeping along the ground. The mercenary panicked upon seeing the beast shuffling towards the beleaguered young lady. He rushed in between Marle and Helminthes, desperately thinking of something to do. He no longer had his weapon, having tossed it aside to save the princess.
Instead, he mimicked the princess battle pose, holding his hands forwards and stretching his palms towards the oncoming monster. Grimacing, he tried in haste to find a way to harness the abilities that Spekkio had refused him. It was the last thing he could think of to help the young lady. Drawing on memories of what the other adventurers had done, he forced his spirit to respond to his demand for control over the power owed to him.
Compelling one last modicum of will, he tensed all of the muscled in his arm and hollered a battle cry. Throwing him backwards, a bolt of lightning sprung from his hands in the same manner as had Cronos spell. It struck the monster between the eyes, but Helminthes offered no retaliation. Rather, it began pushing its head into the soil, burrowing underground without any further incident.
Marle stood drowsily behind the stumbling man, shaking her head. Did you just--? she began before realizing what she had witnessed previously. Oh my God! Crono!
Scrambling through the annihilation left by the giant worm, she frantically searched for the young man. Dont do this to me again, she muttered softly. Tossing a loose, shattered board to her side, she caught sight of the lad. What was his body could only be identified as such loosely; the ragged, torn clothing draped over it was the first thing that alerted her that this was who she had wanted to find. His arms and legs lay across the rubble at angles that would not normally be allowed structurally sound limbs. At the sight of the heavily bloodied youth, she put her hand to her mouth and whispered, Oh, no.
The mercenary reached her side and gazed at the boy. Swallowing hard, he stated, I dont think that he--
Dont say that! she interrupted violently. Kneeling shakily at his side, she hovered her hands over him and concentrated. A greenish aura emanated from her and softly enveloped the boy. Exhibiting a sort of supernatural triage, she directed the regenerative energy as best as she could to his more serious wounds. She gritted her teeth and groaned from the exertion before letting the spell wane and die out. Aside from the closing of most of his larger blood vessels, little had been done to improve his condition.
I cant heal him enough, she confessed, her voice trembling. We have to get him back to Truce or hell
Before she trailed off, Meridio bent down and picked the boy up. Lifeless arms dangling, the injured lad made no movement, but looked to be stable enough to at least carry back to his home. A few drops of rain alighted on her face before the steady pounding of rain commenced around the Guardian heir; she paid it no mind. Her attention was on the young man as the mercenary and the princess walked quickly but solemnly to the north with Crono in tow.