Parasite: Epilogue, Chapter 3
Blinding light seared through the magicians eyelids; he clenched them shut to prevent the painful rays of the sun. The best he could determine without looking at anything was that he was on his back. A moments thought reminded him that he had last been in a field south of the town called Truce, battling with the youth Crono. He kept his eyes squinted, but forced them open so as to view his surroundings.
The first thing he saw was a series of wooden slats that ran parallel to each other. It soon became apparent that he was looking at a ceiling; wandering eyes distinguished a wall directly to his left and a staircase at his feet.
Slowly propping himself up by his elbows, he fought the dizziness that seized his head and made himself examine the room around himself. As his elbows sunk under his weight, it became obvious that he was laying on a mattress or cushion of some sort. Clearing eyes traced the shape of a collection of wooden racks bearing swords of varying lengths and constructions. He followed the assortment of blades along the wall and nearly jumped as he witnessed the unmistakable figure of a person sitting backwards on a chair across the room. Lazily resting his head in arms draped over the back of the chair, Crono stirred upon hearing the astonished snort from the wizard. He looked to the sorcerer with mild annoyance, as if he expected Magus to be the first to speak.
Narrowing his eyes, the former prince finished his inspection of the boys room, glancing at the desk and the small assembly of books resting between a pair of clay pots. Finally tiring of the silence, he spoke: What was that?
The Shigenki Technique, the ronin answered simply.
Arching an eyebrow, the magician knowingly sneered, It figures that that wouldnt be just some legend. Did the Gurus teach you that?
Crono nodded absently, then sat up a little higher as he queried, What are you doing here?
Isnt that the question? Magus replied cynically. Sneaking a glare to the lad, he recognized a legitimacy in Cronos face. The swordsman seemed genuinely interested in the former Mystic leaders reasons. Frustrated, the Magus glowered and accused, Are you actually expecting me to tell you?
When the lad persisted in silence, the sorcerer swung his legs over to the side of the bed and stood up. Fighting vertigo, he wandered to the wall adorned with the boys collection of swords. His eyes picked a particular weapon out of the array. Sitting high on the wall, he recognized the sword that they boy had used in the battle the previous night. Shimmering with a greenish luminance, the Kali Blade was instantly recognizable. Having been forged by Mystic weaponsmiths, the sword was infused with a spell that increased the strength of its alloy over time. After a Guardian raiding party had stolen the blade, it was rumored to be in the possession of Cyrus the legendary knight. It was obvious that its spell had taken effect as planned; there was a clearly different air about the implement that must have affected it after four centuries.
Letting his eyes wander leisurely around the wall, the wizard caught sight of a very different weapon. Black studded ball dangling, a small mace sat distinctly alone amidst an army of otherwise conformed implements. Taking the thin handle of the object, he lifted the mace off the wall and examined it. Without looking at the youth sitting just a yard from him, he asked: Not your style, is it?
Crono responded, Its not mine, then added, The owner is dead.
An inheritance, then? the wizard inquired, sounding subtly amused by the diversion the conversation had taken.
Its a memento; he killed Ozzie.
Is that so? Magus confirmed, squinting over the worn studs covering the dense orb. About time somebody did. Suddenly recalling part of his conversation with the amphibian knight errant, he stated: So this was the man who nobly gave his life to destroy Ozzie?
You could say, the swordsman answered.
We should all have such clear-cut destinies, the magician remarked, wandering towards the boys desk with the weapon.
His wasnt like that at all.
Poor man, the former prince mused, letting his mocking tone pepper his words slightly. Mouth dropping into a languid frown, the Magus stared dejectedly at the mace sitting in his grasp. The end of its handle bore a few shallow dents, as if it had met with several unyielding obstacles. A faint stain of blood wrapped around a section of the handle, tingeing the cloth covering its length. Its chain was on the verge of rusting. The weapon had obviously seen a fair amount of combat, and was now destined to sit unused on this boys wall, like the majority of his collection.
Crono kept his eyes suspiciously on Magus, and noted the wizards change of mood. Leaning back slightly, he queried: Where are you going from here?
Bitterly narrowing his eyes, the sorcerer glared out the window behind the desk. Theres no place left, he scoffed, At least not on this plane.
The young ronin paused to think about the battle the previous night, and deduced the Magus intention. So youre going to die?
No, you were going to kill me, the man sneered bitterly, still gazing out the window.
You exist on a different level than most people, Crono stated. When you were looking for your sister in the past, the curse on Frog remained; you live in an existence outside the regular movement of time.
So Im special? Magus inquired sardonically. I dont need you to tell me that, and it still doesnt mean anything to me.
Standing up, the swordsman leisurely spun his chair around and rested the back against the wall. Just because you got tired of looking for your place doesnt mean it doesnt exist.
And so I should wait for it to handed to me? the magician suggested, turning threateningly to the boy.
Maybe it wont be handed to you, Crono confessed, calmly walking to the staircase. Maybe its your job to say what it is. Some people do that for themselves, he finished, nodding to the mace resting in Magus possession.
Furrowing an irritated brow, the dark wizard scowled at the young fighter, and dropped the mercenarys weapon indifferently onto Cronos desk. With an intimidating gait, he marched towards the flight as the lad stepped back to allow him passage. Halting at the top of the stairs, he faced the swordsman and declared: This changes nothing.
Crono said nothing in reply as the Magus proceeded to descend the staircase and exit his house, but he followed once the sorcerer had assumed a fair distance in front of him. He paused for a beat an scanned the kitchen on his way out, partially thankful that his mother never found out that he had been harboring the injured stranger.
Greeting the cheery sunshine with a cold indifference, Magus stared at the expanse of land before him, and appeared to be waiting for something. As he nearly started walking to the south, a harsh coughing erupted from a few feet around the western face of the house. Hobbling against a sturdy cane, the figure leaned forward to cough as he emerged from behind the corner of the house; his face was hidden under a wide-brimmed hat. Despite that, his long brown coat quickly gave him away as the Guru of Time. The sorcerers face immediately seized into a restrained grimace upon recognizing the elder.
You fool, Gaspar cursed exhaustedly at the magician, You absolute fool.
As the old man launched into another fit of coughing and nearly fell forward, Crono dashed to his side and slung the elders arm over his shoulder. Greeting the assistance at first with a stubborn grunt, the guru relented and allowed the boy to help him stand.
The End of Time halts the progression of any infirmities, he confessed wearily. I had forgotten how sick I was before Lavos attacked us. Lifting his head to the unmoving wizard, Gaspar tightened his face into a scowl to rival that of the Magus. You, he ordered, Are not going anywhere until I finish what I have to say.
The former prince gave no reply, but shifted his feet slightly so as to aim himself more towards the old man.
Gaspar narrowed his eyes. Ive seen a lot of bad things happen since I became the caretaker of the Void, but your story is one of the most frustrating to have to witness, Janus. With all of your abilities, you could make a significant, positive impact on this world if only you wanted to. But instead you push humanity away and drown yourself in destructive self-pity. Ive watched you grow up, and played that memory through my mind more than any other. Pausing first to cough harshly into his hand, the Guru of Time continued. Its true that you had a rough upbringing, but you also had more chances to turn yourself around in the time it took you to grow up than most people get in two lifetimes. What sickens me most is that youve refused every chance that has been presented to you, even when they were obvious.
Even if I tried, I could never name all of the people who would love to have the opportunities that youve had, Janus. Yet you take everything you know for granted, including your mortality. I admit that even I envy you; when I go back, Ill have to return to my existence in a place where even death is out of my reach. Hacking violently, the elder glared into the magicians static face. The unmoving expression of the dark wizard more closely resembled some sort of pale statue. Lethargically shrugging his arm from over the swordsmans shoulder, Gaspar staggered away from Crono and began to turn back to the north, stopping to cast a disappointed look over his shoulder to the Magus.
I suppose it was futile to try to reason with you, he admitted. Just promise me youll take care of yourself, Janus. Shuffling towards Leene Square, the guru allowed for no reaction from the sorcerer as he left. Crono shot a concerned look to the elder, and a tentative glance back to Magus. His stare was interrupted when the old man collapsed roughly to the dirt road with a clumsy groan. The boy broke into a run towards Gaspar, but was cut off as the wizard passed him-- nearly in flight-- and knelt quickly at the elders side.
Rolling the Guru of Time onto his back, Magus looked to be holding the man down onto the ground as he spoke. Youre wrong about that, he accused, I do have values.
Then prove it, Gaspar wheezed, I want to see my land and my people with my own eyes before I die. Take me home, Janus.
I owe you nothing, the prince replied, glowering for a moment at the elder. Then, quietly hauling the old man to his feet, the magician slung Gaspars arm over his shoulder and half-carried the guru up the road, hesitating only to fire a warning glare to the approaching young ronin as he did so.
Crono stood in place and watched as Magus walked Gaspar back towards the plaza, and the Timegate that he himself had forced open. As he witnessed the pair trudging northward, he noticed that it was high noon, and neither one of them cast much of a shadow. An hour could have passed after they disappeared from view, and his gaze was only broken by his mothers return from the local market. He helped her carry her packages into the house, and gave bland responses to her flurry of questions about the caped man who had visited him the previous night.
The door to the War Chamber never creaked as loudly as it did when Spekkio opened it anxiously, recognizing a figure enter the End of Time who clearly was not the old guru. Cape billowing slightly, the Magus pushed through the door from the Timegate room and halted upon seeing the shape-shifter.
So where is he? the War Master inquired meekly.
Hes home, the dark wizard replied coldly.
Is he okay?
Depends on what you mean by okay, Magus answered, glancing down at the purple cat that pranced obediently to his feet. Hes in the Earthbound Village at peace.
Spekkio swallowed hard in partial relief. Opening the door to his room wider, he forced a smirk and asked: So what are you doing here?
The sorcerer said nothing, but instead directed his eyes to the light pole under which the Guru of Time usually stood. Inspecting the post as he sauntered up to it, he paused for an indiscernible moment before casually stepping in front and leaning his back against it. As soon as he stopped moving, a vibration seemed to enveloped his being, centering around his head. The back of his mind became awash with images; most were alien to him, but some were oddly familiar. He saw the monster Lavos crashing through the crust of the Earth, spewing its terrible energy across the land of Zeal. He saw a future filled with warring Mystics and humans, a future that had become his present. The amphibian knight Frog, doomed to remain cursed as long as he still existed, bore an almost regal presence when seen in the context of his kingdom. All kinds of visions of destruction and devastation by wars and disasters crowded the wizards mind. As the images converged, they eventually formed a coherence that was soon recognized as the progression of history.
He cringed under the assault of information, but eventually managed to control the flow of memories and apparitions. An almost warm tingling sensation crept through his brain, and he promptly found it reprehensible. Rather than curse the foul stimulus, he pondered it for a moment and realized, via a faint idea implanted by instinct, that he could change what he felt. Bowing his head in concentration, he forced the images out of his mind. As if manipulating a physical entity with his thoughts, he pushed the visions out and into the space in front of himself. Instead of festering in the back of his head, the apparitions of time-space converged and played themselves out before him as if on a canvas. Like a moving painting, the history of his world progressed as an image that he controlled through his mind. Folding his arm triumphantly, the Magus smirked a little and relaxed against his post.
A shuffling sound behind him alerted the magician that the War Master was still watching him. Magus twisted his head around and glared at Spekkio. An amused smile filled the shape-shifters wide Nu-face. Thats a neat little trick, he congratulated.
Ill deal with you later, the sorcerer warned, wrenching his smirk devilishly and tugging ominously at his glove. Chuckling, the Master of War receded to his chamber and closed the door. Magus turned back to his post. As the stories filling time-space vied for his attention, he snuck a glance downward and detected an interest in the cat that stood at his feet. Alfador gazed at the tapestry of history, following the motion of the people through their accomplishments and catastrophes. Nearly snickering at the animals curiosity, the wizard turned his attention back to the canvas and mentally summoned the era he had left as a child. The ruins of Zeal had given rise to a nation of Earthbound people; that much he knew. But as he continued to watch their history progress, something unexpectedly changed his ideas about what would become of them.
A figure, wracked with the rigors of travel and wrapped in layers of tattered clothing, entered their largest village. Embraced almost immediately by the sovereign of the state as a familiar individual, she bore a presence that the people welcomed unquestioningly. Magus watched as the young lady took her rightful place at the head of the new kingdom.
He had been wrong. Ironically, it was not until he had committed himself to his place in the Void that he discovered the true fate of his blood-line, and the kingdom of Zeal.
He longed to meet her in person, but another, more prominent instinct reminded him of what he had become since he had left his home, and he eventually decided that it was enough for him simply to know. His life had turned into something that she need not ever know. But, as he watched her rebuild the nation that had been destroyed by her own dynasty, he diverted his focus to the cape at the north end of the continent. Watching the waves crash against the unyielding rock, he realized that, with every strike, they actually took a miniscule bit of the rock with them. Pounding with relentless effort, the seemingly futile struggle, when looked at properly, did have a marked effect in time.
Magus found himself watching the shore with genuine interest, viewing as the waves made their bid to affect the continuum of time-space, each leaving its mark as it moved along, making the most if what it had.