Parasite: Epilogue, Chapter 1
Waves raced each other to be the first to hit the cliff, only to crash into it and dissipate, leaving their existence to the memory of the watcher. To witness such an effort be destroyed at the hands of a cruel eventuality, especially in the midst of a melancholy sunset, might cause one to feel the kind of desperation that the swells should, but could not, experience.
Yet whatever he could have felt at such a sight had been drained from him long ago. All he could do was sit, feet dangling over the precipice, and witness as wave after wave hopelessly ran itself into oblivion. The wind picked up his lengthy hair, neglected after weeks of fruitless searching, and tried to make it dance. Its efforts were wasted; his heavy heart remained where it lay at the pit of his being. If he had made any conscious movement in the last few hours, he could not remember what he had done.
Amidst the sputtering of the waves, he discerned a scratching sound approaching from behind him. Somebody was shuffling languidly up the cliff, negotiating the sandy overhang to get near him. Fearing nothing, as there was nothing left in the world for him to fear, he calmly stood and turned halfway towards the source of the sound. Directing a glance to the foot of the crag, he noticed two shapes moving closer. He drew his cape partially around himself; the figures became recognizable as an elderly man and a young boy.
Hello there, the elder called out as the pair neared him.
He gave no response, but rather let his eyes wander back towards the ocean, and the hammering waves.
I saw you up here and thought you might like to come to town, the balding man declared, hiking up drooping fur pants. The lad following him cradled a small, purple-haired cat in his arms. He ran past the elder and proffered the animal.
Is this your cat, mister? he inquired.
As if waking from a coma, the feline lazily raised its head and gazed at him. Seized by an instant recognition, the cat leapt from its perch and ran to his feet, turning a circle as it rubbed its back against his boot.
Weve seen you around here before, the old man continued, With that red-haired boy. But I didnt think you lived around here. Anyway, if you want, weve got plenty of room in our town. The new city is growing nicely; youre more than welcome to stop by.
Waiting patiently, the elder looked directly at eyes that insisted on not meeting his. From the ragged clothing to the weary expression, he could tell that the man to whom he spoke had been through a great deal. The dour look on the strangers face gave the old man little to hope for.
Helping himself first to a deep, nasal sigh, Magus stooped and picked his cat up by the scruff of its neck. No, he answered finally, in a distant voice. He aimed himself back towards the water, and the old man began to leave, signaling for the youth to follow him. Tucking Alfador under his arm, the magician waited a second before hesitantly casting his head back over his shoulder. As the old man almost exited the range of his voice, Magus pronounced, for the first time in his life: Thank you.
Pausing, the elder glanced back over his shoulder and met the mans face. He smiled a little, gave a nod and continued on his way.
Facing the setting sun once more, Magus bowed his head and concentrated. He could tell that there was a way out of the world that he had seen nearly destroyed at the hands of Lavos. The land of his childhood had an exit from it; he had merely to find it. It had come to his attention before that the Timegates, while closed, still left imprints on the fabric of existence. Their locations could be detected, if one could pinpoint the traces they left on the plane of spatial reality. Furthermore, he hypothesized, one should be able to re-activate these imprints with the proper combination of energy. It would not be as difficult as creating a portal out of thin air, as he had attempted in the Mystics castle in the year 600, but it would still be a significant effort considering the weakened signature the old Gates left on time-space.
He remembered that a cave to the west once held a Timegate. All he had to do was find it and
Almost unmistakably, a twinge of energy betrayed the location of the portal. He opened his eyes and, saying nothing, stepped off the edge of the cliff. Allowing a slight hesitation to adjust to the air conditions, he summoned a field of energy and channeled it around his body. Nigh weightlessness lifted him up and carried him towards the source of the signature he had felt.
Schala was nowhere to be found. If his sister no longer lived, he had nothing more left to him in this era.
Perhaps the very existence of matter in the End of Time was a paradox of some sort. More likely, the stone courtyard and light pole merely existed in the minds of visitors to the crossroads of time-space. Either way, the old man who slept almost ceaselessly against the light post had grown tired of pondering exactly what it was that inhabited the nihility of the End. Reacting the same way as he would a similar event in the plane of reality, Gaspar directed his eyes over to the flicker of light that roused him from his slumber. Another Timegate had opened in the room to his right.
It had been a while since the closed room had seen light. At one time it sported a crowd of pillars, gleaming majestically. But after Lavos had been killed, they quietly disappeared. Only a few remained. Two had been opened prior to this recent development; the first had been unlocked by the young red-haired swordsman, after he forced it open using the inventors spatial distortion device and the royal Guardian Dreamstone pendant. Having been weakened by the absence of Lavos, it lead straight to the End of Time. The second pillar had been opened by Gaspar himself, in order to help the lad make his way to the Middle Ages and end the Curse of the Mystics at its source.
But this new third pillar was a mystery to the Guru of Time. He had seen little unfolding in the progression of history to suggest that someone else would-- or even could-- re-activate another Timegate. Intrigued, he waited to see who would emerge from the portal.
Landing heavily on the wooden floor of the Timegate room, a figure paused to gain his bearings. After closely inspecting the other two Gates, craning his head upwards and viewing their destinations as easily as one would view a star through a telescope, he proceeded towards the courtyard. Since no real walls existed in the End of Time, Gaspar promptly recognized the grown-up prince of Zeal, carrying a small cat in the crook of his arm.
Janus, he pronounced over his shoulder. I wasnt expecting you.
Almost scowling at the sound of his name, the Magus quietly stalked around to face the guru head-on. He lazily dropped Alfador to the ground, and the feline landed deftly and wandered off towards a corner of the square.
Those Gates, the wizard confirmed with a pointed finger, Lead to the Seventh and Eleventh Centuries A.D.?
That they do, the elder replied.
Pausing in thought, the sorcerer continued: I need one that will take me to my proper year.
You mean, your adult year?
A slow nod answered the gurus question.
Im sorry, Janus, but I cant do that. Theres simply no way. I can open the Gates if need be, but only using the paths that have already been traced. Whatever force controlled them only made paths that lead to significant parts of history, like the fall of Zeal.
The force that controlled them was Lavos, Magus reminded as he folded his arms.
True; it only made Gates that connected the important parts of its life, like the year you summoned it to your castle. I can guess that your very ability to do that was based in part on the pre-existence of the Gate path that Lavos made in anticipation of what you would try.
Turning his head while he traced his chin back and forth with a gloved thumb, the magician watched as his cat curled up for a nap and thought aloud: But the Gate to the year I was left in as a child
Faded away, Gaspar finished.
Glowering suddenly, the dark wizard stepped to the side and announced, through teeth clenched around the end of his thumb, Even in death, Lavos has taken everything from me.
To be honest, the elder tentatively suggested, Zeal was destined for destruction no matter how it came about. You would have grown up in a society greatly affected by the actions of your mother. Even if you could find your proper year, you would live among a people with whom you never sympathized, and who would never sympathize with you. The Zeal you left as a child may not have become a place where you would belong.
Audacity of that sort could have easily riled the sorcerers anger. He flashed violent eyes to the Guru of Time, and took in the old mans unafraid demeanor. Unflappable to the end, Gaspar clearly exuded an unwavering attitude. Bitterly, the former prince took an aggressive step up to the elder and declared, amidst an obviously forced calmness:
Then there really is no place for me.
Stalking past the guru, Magus walked back to the Timegate room. As he did, Gaspar made no attempt to speak to him. Rather, his attention had been diverted to a fluctuation in the flow of time-space as displayed in the mists that played in the back of his mind while he maintained his post. Although he had not clearly foreseen the arrival of the wizard, he could now see a string of possible consequences of their meeting as they fleshed out in images twisting and contorting through his conscious perception of history.
Slamming the door to the Timegate room before Alfador could follow him, Magus cursed his ever having spoken to the old man. Far in the back of his mind, a voice had suggested exactly what Gaspar said, for he had picked up on the very trend upheld by the Gates that the guru explained. Ascending the modest stairs to the Timegate chamber, he stopped himself and gazed at the three pillars of light before him. One led to the era he had just left, and had nothing to give him. Another led to the Seventh Century of the A.D. calendar, and was the era in which he had adopted the persona of the Magus. The last led to the Eleventh Century, and was the home of the boy who spearheaded the confrontation with Lavos. Whether it be the cursed amphibian knight Frog or the young ronin Crono, he could find a worthy and deadly opponent to battle in either of the second two years if he so chose.
There was no place left for the Magus to live. Perhaps he could yet find a proper place to die.