Parasite: Part 3, Chapter 9
The sun had completed its descent behind the horizon, and a lonely darkness greeted the exposed inside of Ozzies castle. Having lost its heart, the stronghold stood as a series of branching halls reaching out as if to escape the demolishment of the Mystics fortress. Heavy layers of kicked-up dust leisurely settled on the devastated palace. The energy reaction that ravaged the core of the bastion had pulverized most of the stone pieces of its walls, and they littered the foundation like a filthy snow.
First to emerge from the rubble was the automaton Robo. Having recovered most quickly from the shock of the castles collapse, he effortlessly removed the fallen support beam from across his stomach and stood up.
Is everybody alright? he queried, having lost sight of his companions in the obliteration. Trotting gingerly among the wreckage, he activated as many of his scanners as he could operate simultaneously and searched for signs of life. Quickly identifying several sources of heat, he approached the closest. Delicately pulling a wide chunk of stone from the body using his remaining left arm, he distinguished Luccas helmet and tattered neckerchief.
Lucca! he called. Can you move?
Yeah, she replied weakly, propping herself up by slightly maimed arms. Give me a minute; Im not broken anywhere. Removing the helmet that had saved her head from being damaged, she rubbed her temples and shook herself slowly. Twisting her eyes up to the android, she quickly inquired: How did you guys get here?
Ill tell you after I find the others, Robo answered, moving around the inventor and ambling near the southern wing of the castle. Lucca stood drowsily and followed him, but he halted her. Be careful around this wreckage.
I want to help.
Humming in thought, the robot pointed his arm to the ruined balcony. Someone is over there, not far.
She stumbled in the direction he indicated and climbed onto the smashed remnant of Ozzies perch. Laboriously pulling rocks to the side, she uncovered a body that wore a familiar coat.
Crono, are you okay? she queried tensely.
Groggily sitting up, the swordsman mumbled, Yeah, and drug himself from underneath a pile of stones. Seeing that he was not seriously hurt, the young scientist proceeded to search the rest of the destroyed balcony.
Robo lifted a keystone that had pinned Marle by the leg. She suppressed a pained whimper and she tried to stand. Taking her by the arm, the automaton lifted her up and asked if she was hurt badly.
Im fine, she wheezed, diverting her eyes as she heard something stir a large boulder to her left.
Shoving a heap away from himself, the amphibian knight rose from his spot in the devastation. Croaking in exhaustion from various minor injuries, he remarked: Twas nary a location safe enough to hide from the soldiers wrath.
Crono stood, allowing those on the main floor to see him. Frog turned to the lad and asked, Art thou well, boy?
And what of Lady Lucca? And Meridio?
From the back of the throne room, Lucca called out, Im here but Meridio didnt make it, and left the sight of what had remained of the mercenary to persist in her mind. Pushing a finger lengthwise against her nostrils to stifle the smell, she declared, Neither did Ozzie. She quickly joined the group as they converged near the hole in the floor made by Helminthes.
Frog bowed his head. As shifty as that Meridio was, one cannot deny the sacrifice made this day.
Its too bad we never found out more about him, the princess lamented.
He was the last member of his family, Robo pronounced. They were once proud magicians, but they were banished from the upper level of society when Magic was outlawed. He was raised by a family focused on vengeance.
Thats sad, Marle confessed, bowing her head.
A silence enveloped the group, and the wind calmly played on the clouds of dust. After a moment, Lucca raised her head and observed: He was kind of cute, too.
Four pairs of eyes directed themselves to the inventor, and she sheepishly cleared her throat. Sorry.
Breaking the awkwardness, Crono stepped over a crumbled rock towards Marle and removed the pendant from around his neck. She raised her eyes to him as he took her hand and dropped the object in it.
Trying to stand under her own power, the young lady fell onto the lad as she threw her arms around his neck. Crono; I knew youd come! she exclaimed, burying her face in his shoulder and openly weeping in joy.
Witnessing the exchange, Lucca deduced: So you used the pendant to get here?
And thy fathers aid, Im told, the diminutive frog-man explained.
Amidst near sobs, Marle leaned back in Cronos arms and threw the Shigenki talisman from around her neck in order to return her family heirloom to its rightful perch. When the awkward Shigenki ornament clamored loudly against the castle debris, a flurry of surprised gasps erupted from around the throne room.
I forgot to mention this, Robo beeped quietly. Were not alone.
Straining their eyes against the darkness, the group detected a crowd of shapes around the wreck of Ozzies personal chamber. While the specific figures were difficult to identify, it was clear who had surrounded them. Frog turned and limped towards the largest conglomeration of beings.
Mystics, he called out, Helminthes is no more. Likewise thy lord Ozzie has been taken from this coil. Begone; our quarrel with thee has ended, and thy need for vengeance is similarly at rest.
Whispering their astonishment to one another, the creatures hesitated. A few of them had already started leaving as quickly as they had been seen, but stopped upon hearing the knights words. Slowing their departure, they waited for the rest of their comrades. A couple of figures looked to be heading towards the fighters, but halted after realizing their lack of support. It took a tentative few minutes before all of the Mystics headed for the north end of the island, and the dead forest thereon. Frog stood as tall as he could the entire time, as if trying to stare them down.
When the Mystics had departed, Lucca turned to her childhood friend, and noticed that Cronos complexion had returned to the pallor that he had when he first arrived at the battle. Are you okay, Crono? she wondered.
Just a headache, the lad answered, rubbing his temple with a hand not wrapped around the princess. Marle shot her head up and examined the ronins face.
I guess that Shigenki maneuver takes a lot out of you, the young scientist proposed.
Yeah, the boy confirmed, clumsily correcting his posture through the increasing vertigo.
That was some fancy work you did back there, Lucca declared. Taking a moment to survey the damage caused by the encounter, she weaved her eyes across the rubble and caught sight of a familiar object. Twisting her ankle on the way to pick it up, she stumbled and fell onto Robos disembodied right arm. Taking the limb by its hand, she stood and moseyed more cautiously back to her friends.
Watching the young scientist digging through the debris, Frog stole a glimpse of an object not far from the arm. Hopping inelegantly to the small black studded ball, he picked it up and retrieved the handle as it trailed behind on a tightly-woven chain.
Gazing over her shoulder at the mace, Lucca briefly forgot that she was offering Robos arm to the android. You know, she mused solemnly, When we visited our own time before the first fight with Helminthes, the Mystics were a peaceful people. Something we did between then and our fight with Lavos changed that. I guess your second run-in with Ozzie in his fort must have pushed him over the edge.
Of course, none of this would have started at all if Magus hadnt decided to play around with nature. I cant say it doesnt bother me that he has no idea what weve been through.
We can go tell him all about this if youd like, the robot offered as he picked up his broken appendage.
Wed have trouble enough finding him; it probably wouldnt be worth it. I frankly doubt that hed care. Walking up to the diminutive knight, the inventor stated: I saw you were having an argument with Meridio. What did you say?
Gripping the mercenarys weapon by its handle, the swordsman pronounced, Only that such a man might think better of his ways, lest he live out a fools existence.
I guess that must have stuck with him, Robo congratulated.
Nay, Frog denied casting his eyes to the ground, What thou beheld was merely a pair of fools that could not agree on the worth of righteousness.
Following the knight as he ambled towards Crono, Lucca declared, I dont think youre giving yourself enough credit. He didnt strike me as the kind of guy who would do what he did without outside influence.
Rather must it have been the example of this youth, the amphibian proclaimed, proffering the mace to Crono. Ill not forget this day, lad; please take this token that thy memory not forget when thou returneth to thy home.
Taking the weapon by its handle, the ronin regarded it suspiciously for a moment, then smiled and nodded his thanks to the knight.
Let us be off, Frog suggested as he wrapped his now tattered mantle around himself to ward off the chilled night air, And leave the spirits hereupon in peace.
Marle was the one who picked up on the fact that Helminthes was following Crono from the south end of the island, Lucca explained, motioning towards the beaming princess. And thats about the time you guys showed up, the inventor finished.
Very clever, Princess er, Marle, Robo applauded to the young lady leaning for support against his side.
Frogs knowing smile melted to a concerned frown as he stepped away from the group and faced the two young ladies.
I must confess my cowardice, he pronounced as he cast his eyes to the ground. Twas fear that kept me from interceded on thy behalf when the soldier Meridio took thee into battle. My heart could not contain my regret should peril have befallen thee.
Lucca approached the diminutive knight. Placing a hand on his shoulder, she assured, Its okay; by that time we figured he had been bullying you.
But had I not stepped forward sooner--
You did the right thing by coming after us, the scientist interrupted. Remember, if you hadnt given him that pep talk, Meridio might not have helped us at all.
Aye, the amphibian reluctantly agreed. He cast his eyes upward to her, and looked to be preparing to say something when the Epoch split through the fabric of space-time with a monumental clang.
Crono tossed the hatch open and leapt out, hefting the weighty sack of Frogs personal effects with him as he did so. Stumbling under his persistent dizziness, he dropped the bag at the knights feet with a clumsily apologetic smile. Frog chuckled heartily and grasped the pack at its mouth.
Tis the hour of our departure, he announced. My amazement at thine unconquerable spirit never ceases, Crono, the knight errant affirmed. Take care, all of you.
You, too, Frog Lucca added.
Wait, Marle piped up, pushing away from Robo and limping up to Crono, Do you want to come with us? We need to have a celebration of some sort.
My thanks, but rather should I be off to the castle; the king still thinks me missing.
Maybe we can come visit you sometime, the princess offered.
I would like that, the swordsman replied, fighting the absence in his voice as he realized that even a sincere suggestion like that might never be fulfilled.
Will you be alright on your way home? Lucca inquired.
Aye, these legs have seen worse days, the frog-man chuckled. Id rather know that thourt home in safety.
Then I guess wed better get going, the inventor declared as she opened the hatch to the time jet. Hopping in, she tossed the robotic right arm into the back seat and helped Robo up as well as she could by pulling on his left arm. She then aided Crono and Frog as they lifted the crippled Marle into the cockpit of the vehicle. The boy was the last to enter, and sat the young princess across his lap in the front seat.
Fare thee well, Frog called out as he retreated from the vicinity of the craft. Closing the hatch, the Epochs passengers waved to the knight before activating the Wings of Time. Knowing that it may well be the last time he saw the time machine, and his friends, the amphibian watched as the Epoch dematerialized with its signature clamor and flare of light.
Then, smiling widely, the diminutive swordsman lifted his pack, turned and headed west, towards Guardia castle.
END PART THREE