A Melting of a Heart Chapter 20
By Key Mima
Magus found himself grimacing as he heard the flap to his hut being opened. Who else could it be but Lucca? He turned to see her there, a wide grin on her face.
"What are you smiling for?" he snapped, returning his gaze to the book he had borrowed from an old man across the way. In his mind, Lucca had ruined the plan. She had gone out and said they were just friends. How could she be grinning like that, when now they'd have to find some other way to save Sunev? With each passing day, saving Sunev seemed to become a more and more unrealistic idea.
"I'm smiling because it was perfect, Magus!" Lucca cried, thrusting her hand out and giving him a victory "V".
"What was perfect? How you managed, in every way, to abolish the couple image we've been creating? And in two minutes flat, no less." He fumed silently there, waiting for an answer.
Lucca's smile of joy become one of wonder and disbelief as she looked down at him. She shook her head.
"Magus, don't you see? That was so perfect. Maybe your unexperienced eye didn't pick it up, but.." She came forward, folding her arms on his knee and looking up at him. "Okay, you saw me pause, right..?"
When he didn't answer, she continued in a dramatic voice.
"'We're just...' ...pause, look at Magus. Eyes linger on Magus. Kinda give Magus.. googly eyes. Magus, cold and brooding as he is, glares back. 'We're just... friends'. Magus, you know they've gotta be wondering about that. You know they'll be up all night thinking about it. 'Gee, she said they were just friends but, uhh.. what about those googly eyes? I dunno about those two...' We've just got them thinking!"
Magus watched her ecstatic face, and then broke out into a small smile.
"Fine. I just hope you're right," he muttered.
"Just hope I'm right? Magus, I should get an award for that!" She jumped to her feet and chuckled to herself.
After a lengthy pause, in which Magus ran his fingers back through his hair and Lucca wiped her glasses on her shirt, Magus finally turned to her.
"When do you think they'll be back?" he asked quietly. "I'm getting tired of waiting."
Lucca sobered, and her blue eyes focused on something on the ground. "I guess we'll just have to wait," she answered lamely.
"It's been weeks," he reminded her. "I wonder how she's faring..."
Lucca remained silent. It was true. There was nothing she could say about it to make him feel any better. In the situation Sunev was in, things looked grim. Plus there were his dreams. He sighed.
"I wish we had some sort of transportation, so we could search him out," he said, mainly to himself. "He could have a fort on the ground. The Blackbird can't fly around forever."
"Well, technically we could use a fishing boat, but we don't know how many islands there are around us and which one his fort - if it exists - might be on. It's just a matter of time before they come back, I'm convinced that Dalton isn't finished torturing you," Lucca said hesitantly.
"That's for sure."
"Meanwhile, you've got your... y'know, those dreams. Let's try and figure those out, alright? Maybe they're just something you've created in your own mind? Self destructive imagery. Or maybe they might be real. But either way, you've got to try to figure them out. And... Well, other than that we've just got to keep up this act."
"You're right," Magus conceded.
"Well, I should probably get going, alright?"
"Maybe you should, you know, wait until Crono or Marle is out there before you go out the door," Magus hinted with a smirk. "I'm sure they'd be surprised."
Lucca gave him a huge grin and peeked out of the leather flap. She sat there a few minutes, and when the time was apparently right, she emerged, holding the flap open to call back to him. "Bye Magus!" she called loudly. She winked before she looked up to the person outside, her face dropping. The flap fell into place, and he heard her say "Just.. thinkin' of a way to break the spell, you know!"
Magus had a little laugh before he returned to his book.
A few days had past since the incident with Marle, and Lucca's visits had become slightly less numerous. But Magus could see they still had everyone guessing. They ate meals apart now, but he would always catch her eyes on him, and he could see that mischeivous glint. It made him want to laugh and stand up and throw his fish in her face. To the others, it probably just looked like they were gazing at each other.
But as time passed, Magus got more edgy. He was tired of waiting for this baboon to come and flaunt his possession of Sunev. He figured, with Dalton, he'd have come much sooner. But the bastard kept him waiting, and waiting... He certainly was becoming a fine-tuned asshole.
That evening, Magus lay on his mat, Alfador purring comfortably from his place right on his master's stomach.
He studied the amulet his sister had given him so long ago. It was tarnished, for Magus had never cleaned it. It looked somewhat pitiful there in his hand, the etchings wearing off, the gold no longer luminous as it had been before. His heart ached.
He missed Schala. The day he had been drawn into the gate that took him to the Middle Ages, he had been left with only questions about what could have happened after his disappearance. Had they all become immortal? If so, why weren't they around in this time? Had they been stopped? But he had never imagined that his sister could have died. Even though it had been centuries after the incident, it had never crossed his mind that his sister's life had probably ended. He kept her in his heart like a goddess, and thoughts of her helped him through the toughest times. As time passed, and he grew into a man, he didn't rely on her as much as when he was a boy, but she had still been important to him.
But now he knew what had happened. His sister, trapped in the Ocean Palace. She most likely hadn't survived. And if she had, no one knew where she was. His eyes narrowed as he thought of his mother, letting something like that happen to her own daughter. Relying on her so heavily during her life and then not reaching out a hand when Death came knocking.
He sighed to himself, elliciting a mew from Alfador, who had been woken.
"Sorry, Alfador," Magus said softly, petting the cat's head. He picked him up carefully and put him down on a warm section of blanket. With a last rub, he grabbed his fishing pole from by the door and left the hut, making his way down to the shore.
Fishing had become a daily routine for most of the people in the village, including Magus, Crono, Glenn, and the others. Right now it was quite crowded, and he threw a glance to the left and right. Luckily, one place was open, and he made his way down the bank.
Magus sat down next to an old Earthbound man, who was sleeping soundly in his chair. He put a small piece of meat on the hook, and let it fly out into the water. He had to admit he was getting quite good at this. Practice makes perfect, he thought to himself.
He looked over at the still sleeping man and smiled mentally to himself. He wished he could sleep like that. He felt something tug on his line, and he jerked the pole, pulling it in with only a bit of effort.
Not a bad sized fish, he put it in a wooden pail, one of which was set up at every stool along the shoreline. It was convenient to have so many things already prepared for him. This new society was certainly more considerate than the last generation.
He let the line go again, and looked behind him as two laughing, screaming children ran by. One stumbled and grabbed onto the sleeping old man's chair, then ran on. Magus glanced at the old man, who remained asleep. Some people can sleep through anything, he thought with a smirk. He once knew a boy in Zeal named Daman who had slept through his cutting off the boy's precious long hair. He had gotten a good slap on the wrist for it, but he always had the urge to play other tricks on Daman if he ever caught him having a nap again.
Magus reeled in another fish, and noticed that the old man's line was tight. There was a fish on the other end. He would feel bad if the old guy lost it, and would feel weird if he brought it in for him, so he decided to bring it to his attention.
"Hey," he called, pointing to the pole, which was propped up on a stick. "You've got a fish on there, you might want to catch it now, or it'll get away."
The old man didn't reply. Just kept on napping, arms folded contently over his stomach. Magus's eye twitched in annoyance, and he bent down to grab the pole for himself. He couldn't believe he was doing this guy a favor.
As his head went down, he noticed something under the old man's chair. And he froze.
This man wasn't sleeping, he realized, and he stood up, backing away. What was unmistakably blood had dripped through the fabric of the chair and pooled below.
He looked to the other fishermen, none of whom had seemed to notice. He glanced around furtively. Who could have done it? He didn't know the natives much, but he didn't know of any rivalries. Someone had murdered another person in this town.
His eyes stopped on a sandy hill covered in tall grasses. The hill lead down to a smaller beach. But the drop was somewhat steep, and at night the tide came in and submerged it all. Needless to say, it wasn't a popular fishing spot.
Magus walked toward it slowly, eyes scanning the area for footprints of any kind. And sure enough, when he looked down at the slope, he saw small footprints going up and down the slope. And his knees nearly gave out when he saw three deep impressions in the sand. The wheels of the Epoch.
And then he had no doubt in his mind that the killer was Sunev.
He scanned the area for more signs, and he saw in the sand a piece of white paper. Magus leapt down and snatched it up.
We've missed you! In case you've forgotten us, here's something to jog your memory. We'll be seeing you soon! XOXOXO, Dalton + Sunev
The note was written in Dalton's hand. Magus felt like burning it on the spot, but he knew he had to keep it to show to the others. They'd have to realize that none of this was of Sunev's doing. Sunev was just a puppet for Dalton. He wanted to use her to do his dirty work.
Magus would never forgive Dalton for what he was doing to Sunev. How could he explain to Sunev that she had killed an innocent man, but that it wasn't her fault? He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and composed himself. Then he started to run back to the Commons.
Magus stood at the back of the crowd, arms crossed, silent. His head was not bowed, as were the others'. He didn't know the man, whose name he was told was Algus Triffendem. He couldn't feel any sadness when he died. The wails and moans from the mass gathered around his casket, being set out to sea, told him that other people did care.
This atrocity had shocked the community. Since this new society began, no one had been murdered, nor had anyone even died of natural causes. And with the looming threat of Dalton's return, no one felt safe even leaving their home alone. The shoreline where people once fished was barren, and people only hunted in groups now. Children were kept inside.
When asked if they saw anyone with Algus that day, only one fisherman had something interesting to say. He said he saw a white-haired girl talking and laughing with the old man. According to him, it was about about ten minutes before his estimated time of death, which was not long before Magus arrived to catch his and Alfador's dinner.
But Sunev didn't have white hair. The fisherman admitted to being seated quite a way away from old Algus, but no one could mistake black hair for white. Magus wondered if Dalton had aquired another girl, turned her into his baby doll as well. Maybe he had even recruited many girls, used to protect he and Sunev and do their dirty work. No one could explain what had happened, but rumors abounded.
But one thing was sure. Dalton and Sunev would be back, and Magus was ready for them. Whenever he and Lucca spoke of the battle to come, she seemed to come alive with excitement. Magus, on the other hand, was grim. He knew he would not be able to keep himself from killing Dalton with his bare hands. He knew it would earn him no respect taking his revenge that way, but it was something he needed to do. He could not let this man get away with what he had done.
That night, Magus had another dream. He was Janus, running, terrified, across the crumbling floating continent of Zeal. A girl with white hair and wings was flying above him, but she never offered a hand. As the ground beneath him crumbled, he reached up to her, but she merely watched him as he fell, screaming, down, down, down...
And then there was Sunev's voice. Over the weeks her breathing became easier, but the overall aura of terror he sensed was still there. He tried calling out to her, but there was no answer. Just breathing.
Sunev, he called. You need to know I'm here for you. I'll get you out of that place.
"Magus.." she whispered, voice choked. "Oh, Magus..." And she began to cry.
Sunev, I'm here, can you hear me?
She took a deep, shaky breath, and let it out. He heard her wipe her nose and sniffle.
"Someone get me out of here..." she mumbled into something. He guessed it was her knees.
She hadn't heard him. The only one affected was him. In fact, Magus had gotten so tense during that encounter, a muscle in his forearm cramped and woke him up.
Magus shot up, and once his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he wiped the cold sweat from his brow and flexed his aching arm.
He felt somewhat relieved that Sunev seemed to be doing better than in previous dreams. In the back of his mind he pictured her no longer with Dalton during the day. He pictured Dalton putting her on display in a cage or a glass case. That would explain the other girl killing for him. Maybe he decided that someone as precious to him as Sunev was shouldn't be killing his enemies.
He only hoped so.
And Magus slipped back into a shallow, dreamless sleep until none other but Glenn woke him in the morning.
"I had no intention of waking thee, but I must asketh you to accompany us on the hunt today," he said crisply, as though he had been practicing before he came.
Magus pushed his hair from his face and looked up at The Frog from his place on his sleeping mat. Glenn stood like he was frozen in ice.
"Look, you could relax a little, it's not like I'm going to kill you, too," he muttered, reaching over to his trunk for a change of clothes. "Well, not anymore, at least."
Glenn said nothing, simply remained standing, waiting for the answer to his question.
"What I'm saying is... Let's just get used to this whole 'being around one another' thing. Alright? I'm sure our rivalry makes everyone else uncomfortable, and..."
What the hell am I saying? Magus thought to himself, eyebrows knitting together. I care that something makes the someone uncomfortable?
"Or you could just scram and I'll meet you guys in the common once I'm dressed." Glenn's gaze lingered on him a moment, and he ducked backwards out of the tent, lowering his head in a half bow as he went. Always the gentleman.
After lazily changing his clothes and feeding Alfador, Magus dipped his hands in a bowl of water and splashed his face before he emerged outside.
He wondered why they needed him to hunt. It's not like they were ordinary villagers - all of them weilded incredible magic powers, they didn't need to rouse him from bed so they could hunt game no bigger than a cat. Thinking of it made him cranky, and he arrived at the commons in a fairly bad mood.
"Hey, Magus," Crono said to him, slapping him on the arm in a friendly fashion. Crono had at least become nice to him since Lucca's big performance that day at the fire. Magus could see he still suspected something was going on, but he was always a peacemaker, and never made a peep whenever Magus and Lucca got a little too close.
Marle, who stood a few feet away, however, still staunchly believed there was something going on. Of course, she didn't blame Lucca, she thought Magus was the instigator. It had to be the evil wizard's fault.
Magus didn't take it to heart - not that he ever took much to heart. It was only natural for everyone to think him the wrong one, since he had had that smashing career as leader of all evil until not too long ago. He didn't blame them.
His lips curved upward in a half smile as he looked around at the party gathered there.
"It's a big turnout for a mere hunt. I think you've got something up your sleeve. Let me guess: once we catch enough meat for dinner, we'll return to find free drinks and a hired band, and dance till dawn."
Lucca snickered from her place a few paces away, but quickly silenced herself when she received a pointed look from Crono.
"Well, initially we're going to hunt, but, as everyone else knows now, we've been asked by the village Elder to all stand guard at certain points on the island."
Great, Magus thought unenthusiastically.
"Magus, people are scared to even leave their houses. With the protection we could provide, they'd be able to lead more normal lives," Lucca defended, catching his less-than-thrilled look.
"I'm not saying I won't do it," he replied. "I'll do anything you want, and you know it. Just say the word." He winked.
Her eyes widened and he saw her swallow a big laugh, and he had to keep his own smirk hidden with a gloved hand.
"Let's just get to it already, then," he finally said, after a long period of uncomfortable silence.
Magus had been assigned the North Cape. He guarded it for six hours at a time, and was replaced by Robo once his shift was done. It was actually pretty nice up there, with the view of the sparkling ocean, and the salty breeze whipping his hair around his face. But six hours of standing alert with his eyes open wide and on the lookout was not exactly a fun way to spend time on the grassy cliff.
This had been the routine for a few days. Stand, watch. Robo comes in, you go back to the hut, sleep. Get woken up by Crono, head back out to the cape. Count as high as you can in your mind to pass the time. Pick grass out of the ground. Suck the sweet nectar out of the shoots of a small yellow flower growing nearby. Be insanely bored.
He bet Dalton and Sunev weren't even going to come. There were absolutely no signs of either of them, or the white-haired girl, since the day Algus Triffendem was murdered. He bet they were just watching them from somewhere, laughing. He wondered what everyone else was doing to pass the time. He could only assume the others were as bored as him.
Except Robo, he said, noticing the android come up the hill to replace him for the next six hours. I bet Robo would just be content here for days. In fact, why am I even taking his place all the time? He's a robot! Magus felt cheated.
"Hello, Magus," Robo chirped pleasantly.
"Hello, Robo. You're just lucky the weather's nice, otherwise you'd rust."
"Actually," Robo countered, "I am covered in a waterproof enamel, and do not rust."
Magus glared stonily at his robot comrade. Don't contradict me, you can with a brain, he thought bitterly.
"Well, have a safe shift," he muttered before turning on heel and starting back to his hut.
He noticed as he walked that the snow seemed to be melting lately. Maybe the planet was going to have its first spring in a long time. He cast a gaze over the mountainside and wondered what Lucca, who was stationed there, was doing. He hoped she had on a good, warm coat.
Halfway back to the village, Magus heard a distant noise coming from a small forest across from the mountains. He stopped walking, and stilled himself. It was probably just an animal's cry, but something about the noise alarmed him. It could be his nerves, but he ran to investigate.
Before he even got close to the forest though, the noise stopped. He also halted, and stood silently, ears straining to hear anything. From this distance, it wouldn't help much.
But it was his eyes that alerted him to something very wrong. A burst of magic, lightning. That was Marle's post, and Crono was there fighting something. It didn't take much to guess what that was.
"Magus!" he heard before he was able to take off.
He turned to see Lucca, sprinting toward him and the forest.
"Well, what are you doing? Run!" she yelled, passing him.
They ran silently together, both aware that this would be their first chance to try and break the spell. Magus just hoped that Sunev would actually be there, instead of just Dalton's assassin.
As they neared where the battle was apparently going on, they heard the distinct voice of Dalton.
"He's there, which means she's there," Lucca gasped. They entered a clearing, and there stood Crono, Ayla, and an injured Marle. Dalton stood by the epoch, looking very amused, and in front of them stood their opponent: the mysterious girl with white hair.
Dalton noticed the newcomers first.
"Well, if it isn't Mr. Wizard!" he heckled. "I was wondering where you were, I was beginning to think you wouldn't come! Welcome, welcome!"
Magus's heart filled with loathing, but he had to focus on priority number one: helping Crono and the others out. Ayla ran up to the girl, lifting her small form in her strong hands, and threw her up into the air, letting her fall down not far from where she had been standing. But the girl merely stood up, brushed herself off, and resumed her fighting stance. She didn't seem like she'd go down without a hell of a fight.
He extended a hand and murmured a spell, casting Dark Matter on the assassin girl at almost the same time Lucca threw a grenade that landed by her feet.
The girl recovered in time to jump away from the grenade, catching only the edge of the blast. She landed on her feet like a cat, and turned to them.
This was the white-haired girl that had murdered Algus Triffendem. Her chin-length hair was disheveled, her clothes torn. Her long-lashed golden-yellow eyes burned with anger and hate.
And yet, Magus realized gradually, that the shape of her face, her body, her lips, were all so familiar...
"Tisk tisk, prophet!" Dalton scolded from his cowardly refuge by the Epoch. "Whatever happened to not hurting the one you love? You just gave her quite a blast, she must be very sad," he exclaimed, voice mocking.
"She's..." Lucca choked.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic