Parasite: Part 3, Chapter 6
The want of a true passage of time became all the more irritating to the diminutive knight errant. His pacing had acquired an almost furious manner about it. Periodically, he would walk up to the sleeping Guru of Time and attempt to pose a question, but always thought better of it. Yet after what could have been several hours of doing such, Frog decided that it would be better to know even something insignificant rather than know nothing at all about how his comrades had fared in their endeavor. He approached the sleeping elder and poked Gaspar on the arm.
Snorting awake, the old man shook his head and regarded the amphibian fighter. Are you still here? he quipped.
Taunt me not, old man, Frog warned. I ask thee of news of my compatriots.
You want to know how they are doing? the guru affirmed. Well, theyre in Ozzies castle, that much has been confirmed. But this is a malleable history, somewhat like the one with Lavos. There are fewer ways that this could end, but no specific course has been carried out completely.
Therefore, they may yet win, and they may yet lose? Frog deduced.
They have more than enough potential to defeat Ozzie, and Helminthes, Gaspar illustrated. At this point, aptitude is not what they have to worry about.
The small frog-man lowered his eyes. If I may guess, does this improbability deal to any degree with the mercenary Meridio? he muttered.
Sighing, the Guru of Time confessed: You may do well to know a little about this man.
Id rather not, Frog admitted, wandering behind the elder. The man has a spirit about him, and his kind is not foreign to me. He reeks of the same ilk as the Dark Mage.
Ambling around the stone courtyard of the End of Time, Frog came across the lifeless form of Robo, sitting lazily a yard from the light pole. He paced in front of the automaton for a while, studying the various contraptions sprouting from his companions metallic skin. Catching Gaspar just before the elder could doze off again, he asked: How might I wake yon metal man?
I believe he has a switch, not unlike a Nu, the Guru of Time replied, somewhat annoyed.
Aye, the knight assented. Searching more closely, he scoured every inch of Robos exterior until he came across a small hinged finger sprouting from a small panel on the androids back. Tentatively regarding the device, he flipped it with his finger and stepped back, nearly stumbling in his haste.
Sputtering, the robot jerked its arm sideways and kicked its legs outward. Spasmodically pulling itself to its feet, the artificial being took a moment to recalibrate previously dormant sensors. Recognizing the End of Time, Robo took a step to his right, away from Frog, and spoke:
So I have been moved again? What has happened while I was inactive?
The Ladies Marle and Lucca did depart to combat the great beast worm Helminthes, the amphibian uttered.
Reacting to the sound of a familiar voice, Robo turned and studied his ally. Frog, its so good to see you, he beeped. I still have vague memories of everything; please forgive me.
The monster Helminthes, does such a name ring familiar in thy memory? the diminutive swordsman queried.
Helminthes exists in my manufactured memory; I have no recollection outside of that.
We fought the creature once before, not days prior to facing Lavos, Frog explained.
After grinding internal processors for a second, the automaton responded slowly: I think I can remember. It was a water-based creature that had been infused with--
Such a matter is moot to the present, the knight persisted. Momentarily, our comrades have departed for battle with the beast.
So Crono is with them? Robo affirmed.
Nay, Frog worriedly corrected, I know not where the lad be. Rather, it is the hired soldier Meridio who takes the lasses into the field.
Meridio, the android repeated as he tested some of his joints, Seemed like a nice man, and very determined to help us.
Thou beheld very little of who he is; I hold little faith that our allies are free from peril at his lead.
Can we go help them?
Again, nay, the frog-man stated, folding his arms and wandering towards the edge of the courtyard, We have no means of leaving this nihility. And if we did, I dare say mine spirit is not able to help.
Why not? the robot inquired, nearing the swordsman from the side.
Lowering a defeated head, the knight errant heaved a sigh of despair and declared: I glean that such a man is cut from the same cloth as Magus. There is an air of danger about a soul such as that. His bitterness and lust for power doth render him difficult to handle. Should I confront a man such as he, I fear that someone would end up as my charge did.
You mean, Cyrus?
Dropping his arms, Frog continued. Aye, yet it is not my own doom that I fear truly. I fear more for the sake of my comrades. Should I choose to face a man such as he, I may cause harm to my friends. I have not had such companions since I knew Cyrus, and cannot bear to think that I would leave them to such a fate as he left for me, or worse yet. Almost chuckling nervously, the knight continued. When Meridio left with the lasses, I inquired if he did want for me to accompany, yet hoped he would not ask, lest my following wreak them harm; such was my reason.
But what is it about this man that make you think this?
Twisting his head towards the pair, Gaspar spoke up. Maybe I can help you with that. You see, your visit to the era of the original Zeal kingdom has had a significant effect on the flow of time that you could not see. Whereas the use of Magic was to be restricted severely after Lavos destroyed the floating empire, your involvement has changed the situation. As it stands, post-Zealian Magic actually plays a bigger role in humanity than it did in the initial timeline. The biggest change is that a total Magic prohibition on humans was enacted much later than it originally had been.
But that was largely unavoidable in order to defeat Lavos; you had to experience those events in order to prepare yourselves. Yet some changes can be seen even in your respective eras. Among the largest of these is Meridio.
His family was once a prominent dynasty of wizards, tied closely with the ruling class. Their strong political influence was severely hampered after the ban on Magic use. They soon fell out of their lofty position, and publicly vowed revenge. Although this was several generations before his birth, Meridio was instilled with an unwavering animosity towards the monarchy of Guardia. He is the last surviving member of his family, and is under a great deal of pressure to avenge his clans degradation. His compliance with the Chancellor was intended to be a front, and a method of gaining a closer position to the king.
As much as he touts himself to be chivalrous, his loyalty lies with his parents wish that he succeed in destroying the Guardian empire.
Snorting bitterly, Frog replied, Thusly you may witness, metal man, that my decision to avoid such a detestable type is justified. A man such as he can only lead one to ruin, and I am the ideal catalyst for his temper.
Humming in thought for a moment, Robo finally deduced: But havent you simply left Marle and Lucca unescorted with a dangerous man?
In truth, the code of gallantry demandeth that I confront Meridio, which would have dire results. I propose that they are more secure with him and without me than with him and me at the same moment, the knight argued.
Thats not what I think, the android disputed. Its not right to assume that things will end up the same way in the same situation when you yourself have become someone different.
Youve changed since your first encounter with Magus, Robo clarified. Your standards of justice have matured; you secured ownership of the Masamune and maintained Cyrus legacy. Additionally, you chose not to kill the wizard when you had the chance to exact vengeance. I should say youve grown quite a bit since the day you were cursed.
True, the amphibian hesitantly agreed, tossing an edgy sideways glance to the android. Thy memory is not so fleeting, forsooth?
I doubt that youd let this man do to our friends what Magus did to Cyrus, even if he is that unprincipled, the android continued. But moreover, I believe you should have gone with them, or else something could happen and youd be unable to help out.
Turning away from the robot, Frog thoughtfully rubbed a finger across his nostrils and, cringing in desperation, declared, Egad, thou speaketh in truth! How could such foolishness empower me? Pacing around the mossy stone square, he punched an angry left fist into his right palm, frowning in dismal frustration. Rounding the corner of the courtyard and nearing the door to the Timegate room, he slammed his fist against the wooden portal and stopped in his tracks. A faint twinkle of light caught his peripheral vision. He directed his eyes to the source of the radiance, to which Robo had already focused a stare. Something was glowing in the Timegate room.
Okay, drink this, Lucca muttered as she shoved a vial into Meridios hand. The poorly lit corridor gave him little opportunity to see what the object contained.
What is this? he asked.
Its called ether, the inventor continued. You look like you used a fair amount of energy back there. This is one of the stronger formulas; it should be enough to restore what you spent. If youre the guy whos going to kill Helminthes, you should be at your best, she explained with a subtle tone of sarcasm.
Right, he smirked knowingly, and downed the ether in one swallow. Grimacing as the astringent liquid slipped into his stomach, he accused, I thought you didnt bring drinks with you.
Thats non-alcoholic, the young scientist declared.
It tastes like the oldest, most sour beer in the world, the man complained as he strode beyond the two young ladies.
Marle, standing across the hall from the other two with her arms folded, followed the mercenary for a moment with her eyes before turning a look towards Lucca and arching an eyebrow. The inventor shrugged and continued in Meridios direction.
The trio progressed through the dim passageways in silence. Marle nursed a pulled muscle in her right leg, having jerked itself nearly out of joint upon absorbing Meridios furious assault against Tzuris, and limped slightly as she remained well behind the other two. Lucca eventually noticed the princess lagging pace and delicately slackened her own. They allowed the distance between them and the mercenary increase, and the man initially seemed not to notice. Finally, just as Lucca was about to lean towards her companion to speak, he glared briefly over his shoulder and dryly remarked:
Im not going to hesitate to leave you behind if youre not going to try to keep up.
Were not in the best condition, Lucca stated. Its not too late to go back and leave Ozzie for another day. Hell be off-kilter enough without his bodyguards around.
Oh no, a voice echoed through the hall, Id much rather you visit me today. Theres a lot of important business we have to discuss.
Hes doing it again, Marle observed forebodingly.
Its louder, Meridio determined. Were going in the right direction.
I dont like this, Lucca announced. If hes this prepared for us, we may be in over our heads.
Nonsense, the mercenary rebuked. Theres nothing he can do that I cant Trailing off, he began to review his surroundings as the group reached an intersection of halls. Studying the hall that opened to his right, he clenched a triumphant fist and proclaimed: I know exactly where we are now! This is the hall to the prison where we broke in.
They took us around this way, he continued, tracing a path with his finger from the right to the hall in front of the trio. Chuckling maliciously, he trudged forward and beckoned the other two to follow him.
Lets go, he commanded, picking his pace up. Its time to throw Ozzie off the plane of mortality.
As Meridio all but broke into a run, Lucca started after him, beckoning for Marle to follow her. The young princess reluctantly complied, trotting as much as her strained muscles could carry her. She faltered upon sensing a vibration that had nothing to do with her overexerted leg. Something shook gently at the very foundation of the castle. She peered forward into the hallway, and could see Lucca pausing, tentatively regarding the same commotion. Although Meridio continued towards the end of the passageway and Ozzies chamber, his companions could not help but hesitate and ponder what the impending tremors might be signifying as they slowly increased in intensity.