Chrono Trigger Dimensions Chapter 31

By Jerm

"So where is the secret entrance, by the way?" Crono asked Marle as they stood staring at the castle.

They were in the outskirts of the forest, unseen by the guards standing on the parapets. To their right, the drawbridge, having once been destroyed, was something that was obviously quickly erected. The walls of the castle still had the scars from the fire that had been caused by the explosion.

"It's in the back of the castle," Marle replied.

"Will there be any problem getting in?" Melchior asked.

"None. I doubt Pret knows about this. . .And I know that none of the guards know of it." Marle answered.

"Sounds too easy," Magus said.

Magus had awaken several hours later than expected. He still looked drained, but didn't bother speaking about it. As Melchior had said, it would take a week or so to heal. Unfortunately, they didn't have that long.

Cid laughed, "That's all I've been hearing ever since I started this trip. Doesn't anyone WANT it to be easy?"

"It could be a trap," Marshall pressed.

"Why would Pret have a trap for us?" Lietman asked, the first time he had spoken all day, "He knows nothing about our arrival. He thinks that we are dying back at the battle."

Crono nodded, "Yeah, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Expect a trap."

"Then let's get it over with," Marshall said.

Melchior turned to Marle, "You lead and show us where it is."

Marle nodded and turned to trudge through the forest toward the secret entrance that only she and her father knew of.

The guards made their daily rounds, not knowing of the infiltration they were paid to prevent.

* * * * *

"Where is it?" Melchior asked.

Marle pointed into the watery moat, "Down in there."

Crono sighed, "Of course."

"Well it wouldn't be a secret if it was out in the open, Crono." Marle replied, slightly miffed.

"Does everyone here know how to swim?" Marshall asked the group.

Everyone nodded.

"Are there any moat monsters in there?" Cid asked.

Marle stared at him.

"Just kidding," he replied, "How deep is the moat."

"About ten or twenty feet, I think," Marle said.

"Is everyone ready? If so, we'd better jump in before the next guard comes around up there," Melchior said pointing up at the parapets which were at the moment empty.

Marle nodded and turned to the water. She then bent and made a perfect dive into the moat, cutting into the water like a knife. A small quiet splash, then nothing but ripples in the water. A few moment later her head emerged.

"Hurry up. It's cold, but not freezing." she said and dived under again.

Marshall looked at the water, "Hope she isn't lying about the temperature," then he jumped in, making slightly more noise than Marle, but surprisingly quiet in his size. Marshall emerged a second later, the water up to his chin, "This isn't 'ten or twenty' feet. . .And it's cold!"

"Shhh! Quiet," Melchior said, "And get under."

"I'm standing old man. This water's more like seven feet, not 'ten or twenty'." Marshall said, then he went under.

The others followed suit, each jumping in.

Crono opened his eyes and looked for Marle in the dense water. She was up ahead at the castle wall waving her hand at them to follow. Then she ducked her head and crawled into a small hole in the wall. Cid went behind her with Lietman following third.

Marshall tried to go next, but he stopped at the hole, looking at it warily. Then he turned to Crono and shook hishead holding his hands out wide, palms pointed toward each other, then moving them closer together, closing the gap between them. He was too big.

Marshall pointed up and then waved bye to Crono. He stood up and left the water before Crono could stop him. Then he was gone. Crono cursed and went to the hole. Melchior and Glenn had gone through and he was the only one left. Plus, he was running out of air. He crawled into the hole and swam through. On the other side, Marle was waiting for him. She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward her. Then they swam through the underwater passage.

It was around thirty feet long, and Crono was getting desperate for air. Then suddenly, he was above the water, gasping and sucking air. Beside him, Marle too breathed heavily. He looked around to see that they were in a small square room. In the center of the room was a circle-pool of water that they were wading in. The wall in front of Crono was occupied by a door. Three unburning torches resided on the remaining walls.

That was all Crono could make out in the near pitch black darkness. Then Melchior said something and a small sphere of white light emerged from his hands, illuminating the room.

"Where's Marshall?" Marle asked looking around.

Crono shook his head, "He couldn't make it, the hole was too small."

"Well, that's just great," Cid said from his temporary seat at the side of the water.

Melchior sighed, "Well, it can't be helped. We'll have to continue without him."

Magus stood over in the far corner from the door. He was bent over breathing deeply, obviously still not over the lack of energy. Marle went over to him, "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes, don't concern yourself with me," he replied standing, though obviously wincing from the pain.

Marle seemed about to say something, then she dropped the subject and turned to the door, "This leads to the prison area. It isn't in use anymore ever since the bridge collapsed years ago, she said, giving a meaningful look at Crono.

"What? It wasn't me, it was the dragon tank." he said, defensively.

"Right," she said smiling, then continued, "From there we have a straight run to the throne room. Those are the royal guard in there. I can prove to them that I am indeed Nadia easily. I knew some of them most of my life. And we also take Pret, removing any demonic threat. Bingo, the Guardia line is renewed."

"One question," Cid piped in, "What if the royal guard has been replaced?"

Marle opened her mouth to answer, then snapped it shut. She shrugged.

"Great," Cid said.

"We'll have to take that risk," Melchior said, "Let's go."

"But, what--" Cid began.

"Just forget the questions for now Cid. They don't know we're here." Marle said impatiently.

Marle opened the door, revealing the dark jail beyond. The light from the sphere gave slight illumination several feet beyond the doorway. An armed guard of twenty soldiers stood in that light.

"Look! It was a trap!" Cid said sarcastically.

"I see that, Cid," Marle said quietly.

"Should we fight?" Crono asked, eagerly.

"Too many," Melchior said.

"It WAS a trap," Marle said sadly.

"That it was," Lietman said, stepping forward toward the guard, "Good job men."

He shook the leader's hand. Then turned to the stunned group behind him, "You are now property of King Pret I," he turned back to the guard, "Throw them into a cell."

The guard saluted, "Yes, sir."

The leader stepped forward and began taking the weapons from the group.

"Oh yeah, there's another one outside somewhere. He's a very big man, you shouldn't miss him," Lietman said to the leader offhandedly.

The guards grabbed the group and pushed them rudely and roughly forward. Crono turned to the guard who was behind him, "One second please."

The guard stopped for a second, curious. Crono quickly turned to Lietman and decked him. Lietman was thrown from where he stood, landing on his back roughly.

The guard reached for his sword, but Crono turned from Lietman and began walking again, catching up with his friends and leaving the guard behind. The guard forgot his sword and ran forward grabbing ahold of Crono.

"You may continue," Crono said to the guard.

Behind them, the leader helped Lietman to his feet. The traitor scowled at Crono, but said nothing. Something flickered in the back of his eyes for a moment, then was gone.

* * * * *

The group stood in their cell, awaiting whatever Pret wanted to do with them. There was only one cot, which Marle sat upon, looking crestfallen. Magus stood in the corner, leaning against the wall and staring at nothing, deep in thought. Melchior and Chrono were both at the cell entrance, the latter person looking outside, Melchior looking in.

Cid however, was another story.

"'Don't worry, it's not a trap'!" he yelled again for the hundredth time.

"How could I have known?" Marle said looking up from her seat.

Cid threw his arms into the air, "I tried to give a hint or two, but I was sort of cut off. That room was obviously in use. There weren't any spiderwebs or anything in it. No cobwebs, no dust. It was sparkly clean."

"Just because it was sparkly clean doesn't mean that there was a trap. Where would the spiders have come from. And the dust would have nothing to originate from either," Crono said.

"It still meant that there MIGHT be a trap!" Cid said again.

"I'm sorry, I didn't think. Now shut up," Marle shot back.

"What were they thinking about when they said 'Curiosity killed the cat'. It wasn't curiosity that kills things, it's stupidity!" Cid continued, ignoring Marle.

"Are you saying that I'm stupid?" Marle said, half rising from her seat.

"No! It was me who was stupid because I wasn't persistent enough when I noticed that something was wrong!" he hit the wall, "and now this!"

A guard appeared at the cell door, "Quiet in there!"

Cid turned on the guard, "You shut up and stay out of this!"

The guard drew his sword, "What did you say?"

"You head me!" Cid continued.

"Boy, quiet down or I'll come in there and execute you ahead of schedule." the guard said reaching for his keys on his belt.

"Oh sure, that would be smart! Walk in here and you'll get mobbed by all of us!" Cid continued taunting the guard, "Come on in, try us! It's almost an even fight, being 1 on. . ." Cid counted the people in the cell, "6."

The guard seemed to think for a moment, then finally sheathed his sword and walked off, grumbling.

"Not bad, Cid," Crono said, nodding to the technician.

"Thanks," Cid said.

"--But the guard will be back with more. And they'll take you to the torture chamber for misconduct."

Cid stared at Crono, "What?!"

"Maybe," Crono said, "but we'll be gone by then."

"And how will we do that?" Melchior asked.

"Magus can blow the door down."

"And alert all of the guards in the castle," Marle said sarcastically, "Great plan Crono. It would make Lucca envious."

Magus said nothing. He stepped forward instead, pointing at the door.

"No, don't!" Crono yelled, too late, "I didn't--"

They waited for the explosion that would send guards streaming into the prison.

There was an audible click as the door was unlocked. Then in swung open, freeing the group. Magus dropped his hand and finally spoke, "I don't have enough energy to blow it open at the moment."

"Let's go!" Crono yelled, running out of the cell and into the main hallway.

He reached the arms rack and plucked his sword from it, belting the sheath and sliding the sword into it. The others likewise collected their weapons. They then turned toward the exit.

The door opened suddenly, creaking on unoiled hinges. Revealing a familiar figure. The person shut the door behind him and faced the group. "I was wondering when you'd try and escape," Lietman said.

"You gonna try and stop us?" Crono asked, drawing his sword.

"I guess I have to, don't I?" Lietman replied, drawing his sword also, "Oh yeah, Pret sends his regards to you traitors."

"You're the traitor, Lietman!" Marle yelled back, "Pret is a murderer, not a king."

"All the more reason to BE the king," Lietman replied.

"What? You're insane," Marle said, shocked, "Murderers shouldn't be king!"

"Then how would they keep the people in line? A few deaths must be initialized in order to prevent total anarchy."

"Loyalty," Marle answered his question, then she aimed her crossbow at Lietman, waiting for him to move.

Lietman stood facing the group for a moment, then he charged headlong into the group. It was a move that would usually be a mistake. However, the group was unprepared, and Lietman was a much better fighter than they had anticipated. Marle found suddenly, that she didn't have her shot anymore, Lietman was in the midst of her friends.

He swung his sword at Crono's head, but it was parried by a scythe, courtesy of Magus. Cid lunged at Lietman's unprotected side with his dagger, but he was kicked in the stomach, and he fell over wheezing for air.

Lietman's hand shot out and grabbed the scythe's metal pole before Magus could recover it. Then with a twist of his wrist, he had possession of it. He swung it and hit the doubled over Cid across the face with the blunt end of it. Cid crumpled to the ground out of the fight.

Crono counter attacked with his sword, but Lietman's sword was again free, the blow was deflected. Lietman headbutted Crono, sending the redhead to the ground in a sprawled tangle, his sword clattering on the ground behind him.

Glenn was next. He stalked forward, keeping his sword in front of him. The he jumped high into the air, driving his sword at Lietman's skull. Lietman seemed to yawn as he reached out and grabbed ahold of the frog by the arm. He used Glenn's momentum to send himi flying through the air once more, this time with no control. Glenn slammed into the door, dropping the Masamune and trying to regain focus.

Marle aimed her crossbow, but she still couldn't get a shot. She circled around looking for an opening.

Melchior swung his staff at Lietman's legs. The fighter was unprepared for a low attack, and he was knocked to the groundlying on his back.

Cid was back up, though groggy. He raised his dagger in a stabbing motion and swung it down at the unprotected Lietman. However, Lietman swung his legs up over his head, rolling backwards and ending back on his feet.

The dagger struck the ground, next to the dropped scythe, and scraped on the stone floor. Lietman reared back his sword to kill Cid, but then suddenly a sword point broke through his chest.

Blood burst from the wound as Lietman looked down to witness the last of his heart. Behind him, Crono drew back his sword and kicked the body to the ground. Lietman fell to the ground facedown, blood pooling around his chest.

"Traitor," Crono said, wiping his sword on the body before resheathing it.

Then suddenly, a wind seemed to blow in the hall. The torch flames danced in the slight breeze but remained lit. Then Lietman's body began to move. The group backed away from the animate corpse, unsure what was happening.

Then Lietman stood. Blood still poured from the wound, but he didn't seem to notice. His sword lay on the ground forgotten. He raised his arms to the side and started to laugh.

Then his form started to waver, as if it were a mirage. His body began to morph, to twist and enlarge. His laughing face began twisting into an evil grin of pain and his hair seemed to draw into his head until it was gone. His blue eyes glowed with a hidden power.

His lower torso began to turn red. Four legs emerged from his waist. But they weren't normal legs. Insectile in appearance and red in color. His two remaining legs twisted into the same. His body elongated itself to give room to his six legs and a long seven foot barbed appendage began to grow from the far end of the body. A stinger.

His upper half had remained basically the same. But below the stomach was the body of a scorpion. The barbed tail raised high into the air, arching over his head and his six legs clattered on the cobblestone floor.

Merjhra stopped laughing and looked down at the stunned group, "What do you plan to do now?"

The bloody hole in his chest was gone, it had healed. Even the blood that had pooled on the floor was gone. It was all an illusion.

A crossbow bolt embedded itself into his left shoulder. Merjhra winced from the sting and grabbed the bolt, snapping it with his hand and throwing it back to Marle, "Not enough."

His stinger suddenly stretched as it was whipped over Merjhra's head. Crono dived to the side just in time as the barb struck the ground where he had been standing moments before. The stinger retracted to its normal length and prepared for another strike.

Merjhra bent down and picked up Lietman's sword.

"It's a demon!" Melchior yelled.

"We know that," Crono said standing up from his dive.

Merjhra came at Magus, but the sorcerer faded from view, only to reappear behind the arachtaur swinging his scythe. The scythe bounded off of the exoskeleton of the tail, harmless.

"But I should have been able to see through its disguise," Melchior said, "What's going on?"

The tail elongated yet again as Merjhra turned to Magus. It swung down at the sorcerer, but Magus was able to stop the blow, hooking the bart with the curve of his scythe. He twisted his scythe and chipped a chunk off of the exoskeleton. The tail retracted and Merjhra swung his sword at Magus. Magus again faded from view reappearing at the door. Crono and Cid ran to the backside of the monster and began hacking at the nearly indestructible armor of the insectile exoskeleton. It was beginning to show signs of damage.

Merjhra ignored them for the moment concentrating on the main threat at the moment, the magic user. He advanced toward the door Magus stood in front of. Then Magus raised his arms, a ball of fire struck the demon square in the chest.

The demon's front legs buckled from the impact, but he was able to hold. A black singe mark remained on his chest. Magus faded and reappeared back with the others, kneeling on the ground, weak from even the slightest use of magic.

Then the door opened behind the monster. Merjhra turned surprised. He faced the open door and the man in the doorway holding a sword at him.

"And who the hell are you?" Marshall said.

The demon shrieked and his stinger swung around to lash at Marshall. Marshall was surprised, and acted on instinct. His arm raised into the air and caught the tail, hovering inches from his face.

"That's not very nice," Marshall said.

He then grunted with an unseen effort and there was a loud snapping noise. The tail was snapped off like a stick, the exoskeleton crackling loudly. Blood issued from the wound.

Merjhra yelled in pain and dropped his sword. A big mistake. His tail waved around wildly, throwing blood onto the walls, floor, and ceiling. His legs danced around, clicking on the floor furiously.

Marshall shoved his sword into the monster's chest.

Merjhra collapsed, nearly defeated. Marshall reared back and punched the face of the demon. Merjhra's head buckled under the blow, twisting to the side so fast there was an audible snap as his neck was broken. Finally, the demon collapsed to the ground, defeated.

"You killed him, Marshall!" Marle yelled happily.

Marshall looked at the others, "He tried to attack me," he said defensively, as if he was explaining why he did something wrong.

Cid looked at his dagger, then at Lietman's sword. He belted the dagger and picked up the sword. However, there was no sheath for it, he would have to carry it for now.

Marshall made a head count, "Where's that Lateman or whatever his name was?"

"You're standing on him," Crono said, putting his sword into the sheath.

Marshall digested the information, nodding, "I always thought he acted funny, but I'd never think he looked funny either."

"We have to get out of here fast. The guard will be back soon with the others." Melchior said.

"Guard with others?" Marshall asked, ". . .Oh you mean those five or six guys I met back there. Don't worry about them."

Cid told him about how he had annoyed the guard and the guard had left to get more.

"That was stupid," Marshall said to the gloating Cid, "He went to get others so they could take you to the torture chamber."

"That's what Crono said, and anyway it worked, didn't it?" Cid asked.

"What worked? I doubt you had any idea you were creating a diversion when you did that, Cid," Marle said, picking up the broken pieces of her crossbow bolt.

"So what?" Cid asked, "It still worked."

Crono opened the door and peered out. After a moment he turned to the others, "Its clear."


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