Parasite: Part 3, Chapter 5
The burning axe imbedded in the stone floor of the hall extinguished itself slowly; the figure at the end of the passageway seemed to be waiting for it to finish burning after he had hurled it at the group.
Maybe we can get around him somehow, Lucca whispered to her companions.
Theres probably another way to reach Ozzie, Marle offered.
No, Meridio decided. Were going to get rid of this fool right now. Better not to give him a chance to escape. Hes one of Ozzies guards, right?
Dont think I cant hear you, humans, the Mystic called. Now, come here and let me kill you before the sun sets completely.
I dont like the look of this, Marle pronounced when Meridio began calmly traversing the hall towards his adversary. Her gaze forced itself off of the ominous scene, and, momentarily distracted, the princess darted a glance to one of the small windows perched high on the wall of the passage. Outside, the sky had begun to assume a kind of hazy purple hue that heralded the coming evening.
Its General Tzuris, right? the man verified as he confidently strolled down the hall into the chamber where the Mystic waited.
First Elite in Ozzies Guard, the tall, ponytailed Tzuris finished as he lit the last of a series of torches surrounding the circular alcove that, like many of the other within the castle, sported a quintet of halls extending from itself. This particular room was much larger than most that the trio had encountered. Its walls displayed a series of armaments of various sizes and designs. Spears, bows, swords, and a host of strange implements hung around the wall; an empty rack waited for the axe that had been thrown to return to it. Windows raced around the upper areas of the walls.
Following behind the mercenary, the inventor surmised that the chamber could very well be situated in the middle of the stronghold, due to its size and wealth of decoration. She slowly pulled her gun from its holster and kept it at her side.
Marle trotted up to where the fighters had converged and tried to squeeze past Lucca and Meridio. Look, Tzuris, you can back out of this if you promise to call off Helminthes, she declared.
Fool, the general accused, directing his ever-present scowl to the young lady. Are you humans that blind to our cause?
But youre going to destroy the world, the Guardian argued.
I know that; this is the humans world. If we cant have it, were going to obliterate it.
Why cant you live alongside us? Lucca queried.
Quaint idea, Tzuris granted, Some of our people have actually proposed that. But Im not so stupid as to let everything between our kind and yours to go unpunished.
What did we do to you? the scientist demanded.
You shut us out from your world for centuries. You denied us the enlightenment that we deserved as much as-- if not more than-- you did. But what I find most appalling is that youve expected all along that time would heal those wounds. Youve kept us pushed aside, hoping that we would forgive you without you ever having to pay for what you did.
What enlightenment are you talking about?
Thats enough, Meridio warned, silencing the young inventor with an outstretched arm. Youre not going to convince him of anything. Not here, and not by talking.
Your man is right, Tzuris admitted. Besides, we Mystics have the tools to make things right. Weve retained the gift of Magic that you humans have thoughtlessly outlawed among your own kind. We have Helminthes with us as our lasting tool of revenge, and we have the leadership of Ozzie the Great to guide us.
And it looks like well be putting all of those to the test today, the mercenary avowed, unclipping the weapon from his belt.
Fine, the Mystic replied, drawing a wide, curved sword from a sheath tucked among his multiple-layered, robe-like clothing. Give me your best shot, younker.
Barely letting his enemy finish his thought, Meridio charged Tzuris, aiming a shallow strike at the Mystics head. Tzuris deflected the ball of the mace with the side of his blade, quickly igniting his scimitar with an ethereal fire that engulfed the blade. The mercenary ducked out of the way of a retaliatory slice at his weapon arm. Reacting swiftly, he pulled a long knife from a thin sheath on the back of his belt. He brought it in front of his face, narrowly catching a second strike by the fiery sword.
Pushing their locked weapons together, the two combatants struggled to overpower each other. Catching a face full of his opponents humid breath, the mercenary cringed under the stench and nearly relinquished his effort. In an irritated huff, Meridio threw himself forward and shoved Tzuris away.
Catching his balance, the general continued backward a couple more steps and straightened his posture. His scowling expression remained static, but he relaxed his arms and released the fiery spell from the blade of his scimitar.
Not bad, the Mystic commander congratulated. But Im one of the few Masters of the Eitervæpon School of fighting left alive. Im a far better fighter than Bodhran, and weve only begun this duel.
Truce village, compelled to move itself every few years in order to cope with the Curse of the Mystics, still managed to keep its genial atmosphere for the better part. Despite the loss of many of its citizens over the years, the burg had nearly the same welcoming ambiance that it sported in the history that Crono and his comrades remembered. One such establishment was the local bar, which operated under the name of its proprietor. Greers was well-known for its fraternal hospitality and relatively peaceful regulars.
As it was, a man foreign to the establishment was making several friends among the heavily bearded Greer and his most valued customers. Despite his secretive-looking cloak, the regulars took to the kindly elder quickly. Although some of them had already consumed enough liquor to make them affable even towards inanimate objects, the more sober patrons enjoyed the company of the mustachioed man almost as well.
Amidst a roar of laughter spawned from one of Greers jovial ribs at the most inebriated customer, a clumsy thud seized the front door to the pub. The newcomer was the first to recognize the sound. Before the man could rise from his stool to investigate, the door flung open and a young man entered. Looking hastily dressed, the red-haired lad stumbled in, heavily favoring his left leg. Raising a haggard face to the crowd, he spotted the visiting patron and announced:
Before he could speak any further, a convulsion shook the youths stomach. Falling wearily to his knees, he propped himself with one hand and clutched his spasmodic abdomen with the other. As Melchior approached him, the lad let his stomach surge on last time and threw up on the floor.
By then the entire crowd at the bar had taken notice. A few cheered as the boy retched, while others shielded their eyes from the gruesome display. The Guru of Life took a step back and waited for the boy to finish. When the youth signaled the end of his vomiting with a shallow sigh, the elder walked to his side and attempted to pull the lad to his feet.
Thats odd, Greer piped up as he rounded the counter of the bar, Most of the people that come here do that after they buy their drinks.
Under the bellows of hilarity, the guru asked: Are you alright, Crono?
Shouldnt have run here, the young swordsman quipped unenthusiastically.
As Melchior took Crono to a chair aside a round table, Greer approached the young man and observed: I dont think youre in any shape for a drink, kid.
Didnt come for that, Crono replied tersely, resting his spinning head on his hand. I need some help.
From whom? the elder queried.
You, the boy answered, pointing to the guru, And whoever else can come.
Ill round up my most level-headed men, Greer promised with a chuckle. He moseyed back to the bar to make good on his word.
Melchior leaned to get a look in the youths face as Crono massaged painful temples. Are you sure you can be out like this? the Guru of Life inquired.
Had a crutch, the ronin explained, But I dropped it on the way. Adjusting a crumpled coat, the boy let a familiar accessory fall out and dangle from a chain around his neck. The old man nearly jumped at the sight of the glimmering object.
Is that I mean, it looks just like Schalas pendant? he stammered.
Not hers, the swordsman corrected as he clutched the charm retrieved from his desk and launched into a fit of unsettled coughing. Before he could explain, a quartet of hefty barflies collected behind him.
What do you need, kid? a swarthy, poorly shaven man asked.
Staggering to his feet, and slinging an arm over Melchiors shoulder at the elders insistence, the boy pointed out the front door and said: Tabans house; Ill explain on the way.
The somewhat-riotous gang followed Crono as he and Melchior hobbled off across town, leaving a now less than jovial Greer to mop up the swordsmans mess.
An arrow shot from the legendary crossbow Valkyrie and barely grazed Tzuris muscled arm. The Mystic dodged at the last second and nearly dropped the hold he had on his own arrow. Having plucked a large, ornate bow and accompanying quiver from the wall of the spacious alcove, the Mystic general had tried to train his weapon on Meridio, but Lucca and the princess persisted in volleying their own projectiles at him. As it was, the trio was spread around the room, and Tzuris found himself distracted on three sides.
Stop that! Meridio yelled to his companions, This kill is mine! The mercenary stood still near the entrance to the room, and refused to attack while the other two tried to keep Tzuris at bay.
Frustrated, the Mystic commander threw the jeweled bow to the floor and drew his scimitar again. Channeling a large amount of his energy into the blade, he lit the weapon with ethereal fire and charged towards Marle. Startled, the young lady took her crossbow in both of her hands and hefted it in front if her face, catching a wide overhead slice from the flaming sword. Tzuris grunted behind the blockade and pushed his weapon further into the side of the Valkyrie.
Its string already having been cut, the crossbow began buckling under the force of the generals attack. Marle took a step back, and her heel rammed into the wall behind her. She tried to push back against the Mystics sword, but Tzuris kept a steady pressure on the stock of her weapon. Lucca threw a look to Meridio from where she stood. Lets go get him! she called. The man simply stood, watching the Guardian heir grapple with the large Mystic as if the fight no longer concerned him. Angered, the inventor trained her Wondershot on Tzuris and fired a missile into the Mystic commanders back.
Tzuris collapsed under the force of the small explosion. At the same time, the Valkyrie snapped in half. Marle leaped sideways awkwardly, trying to avoid the burning blade of his scimitar as the general fell forward at her.
While her enemy was still stunned, the princess sidled away from the wall and ran across the room to join the young scientist. Thanks, she pronounced, cradling the broken halves of her weapon in her arms. Lucca answered with a small nod, but maintained a stern focus on Meridio.
Whats the matter with you? she demanded.
I told you, he replied, I dont need you here. This is my fight.
This is more our fight than anybodys, Lucca argued. Were not going to be spectators to this. That guy is dangerous.
Maybe to you, the mercenary sneered almost happily. I guess youd better leave this to me. Brandishing his mace, the man approached the Mystic general as Tzuris pulled his massive frame to its feet.
Your girls are pretty good, for humans, the commander admitted.
Theyre nothing compared to me, Meridio grinned as he prepared a wide swing of his weapon. Tzuris charged the man before he could attack, and aimed a slice towards his side. Meridios heavy gauntlet parried the blow as the mercenary dodged, and he hastily flipped his mace backward, jabbing the blunt end of the handle into Tzuris rib cage.
Rolling with the assault, the general quickly retaliated by dashing into Meridio and planting his knee into the mans stomach. Igniting his free hand with magic, Tzuris pounded an electrified fist into Meridios back and let his winded opponent drop limply to the floor.
We have to help him! Marle insisted. Grumbling under her breath, Lucca agreed and followed Marle towards the Mystic.
Tzuris promptly turned to face the two young ladies. Marle halted and seized her Shigenki pendant. Lucca aimed her firearm cautiously. We only want to exterminate Helminthes, she proclaimed, You dont have to fight us.
I wouldnt expect you to be that stupid, the general laughed. Theres no way Id just let you walk by and try to stop Lord Ozzie.
Well, we gave you plenty of chances to back out, she acknowledged, zeroing her sight on the Mystics head.
You idiots! Meridio yelled as he angrily lurched to his feet and threw his mace to his side. Didnt I tell you to stay out of this?! And here you are trying to negotiate with this monster again! Before any in the room could react, the wide-stanced mercenary flexed his arms and threw them outward, tossing branches of electricity around the room. Vines of ethereal lightning snaked around the room, piercing all three of the rest of the rooms occupants.
Seized by the mans attack, the Mystic general fell to the stone floor in a violent spasm, as did Lucca and Marle. As soon as his spell died, Meridio stalked up to the general and kicked him several times in the ribs. Gritting riled teeth and saying nothing, the man grabbed the commander by the billowing collar of his robe and proceeded to beat Tzuris about the head. Raining blows on the stunned commander, Meridio punctuated his assault with a series of almost feral shouts. Pulling the Mystic up to eye level, the mercenary planted a fierce punch into Tzuris gut.
Spitting blood onto Meridios shirt, the general coughed and languidly sputtered, Youre a bigger fool than I thought. Youll die by your emotions, younker.
It looks like youre the one dying here, Meridio snarled in his enemys face. Lifting Tzuris a little higher, the mercenary shot his palm upwards into the commanders nose, smashing the front of Tzuris skull. Pitching the wounded Mystic to the floor, he crossed his wrists in front of himself and channeled a massive amount of his inner energy into them. Not pausing for a moment, he threw a wide beam of purely black energy into Tzuris chest, burning a gaping hole in the generals torso and devastating a fair portion of the floor underneath the body in the process.
As the dust from Meridios attack settled, he stood for a moment, breathing heavily and slowly quelling his temper. Through the dissipating haze, he could distinguish two forms moving. Weakly sitting up and wheezing heavily, Lucca suddenly launched into a fit of coughing as she searched through the pouch of supplies at her side. On the other side of Tzuris corpse, Marle sat up feebly, waving the clouds of dust from her face; her leg twitched under the lingering shock of the electrical attack. Meridio swiftly approached her and proffered his hand.
Are you alright? he queried amiably as he reached for her arm to help her stand.
She retracted her arm fiercely and glared at him. Why did you do that? she challenged.
A hopefully congenial face once again soured. I told you not to interfere, he explained, You should have listened.
Lucca tried to stand and dropped a vial of tonic from her pouch as she did. Marle ran to her side and propped her up as she calmed her breathing. This floor isnt stable anymore, she gasped, not looking at either of them, Wed better not stick around here. Absently pushing Marle away, the scientist wandered painfully out of the room towards the source of Ozzies previous hazing.
Agreed, the man pronounced, once again resuming his pleasant demeanor. He calmly strode through the dust after the inventor, leaving Marle to follow on her own.
She aimed a bitter frown at the mercenary for a moment, then turned her head again to a window sitting in a row high above the floor of the ruined alcove. As the redness of the sunset deepened, she breathed a restrained sigh and apostrophized: I wonder where you are, Crono.