Far away from our world, billions upon billions of miles through the black void of space, lies the vast planet known to its inhabitants as Vehs. It is famous, in part, for all the villains and heroes alike that have sailed its seas and battled on its shores. The exploits of these great many people have been chronicled in what is known to us as the Final Fantasy, a massive biography comprised of many separate parts.
And now, even as you read this, a new part of this never-ending story is taking place.....
Final Fantasy III: The New Returners Part 1
By Loren Leah
Celess long blonde hair blew wildly about her face in the desert gale. She, Terra, and Cyan were riding towards Figaro Castle on chochobos, delivering several precious gems from Denubia to the castle vault. She sidled up to Terra and asked if they could get something to eat together after they were done, but got only a mumbled reply. Lately, Terra had been off in her own little world, expectant, as if she were waiting for something to happen, though it was certain that nothing would.
Celes almost wished something would happen. Ever since Kefka had been defeated, life had been disgustingly normal. Boring as a Moogles behind, as Locke would say - if he werent in the Zenobian Empire on... business. And if he did say that, Mog would slap his behind, Celes thought to herself, giggling loud enough for the others to hear.
Cyan looked at her a little strangely.
* * *
Crono didnt talk much, but when he did, he was always to the point.
Lucca, there CAN NOT be another gate! he yelled at his best friend, who sat in front of a computer console in her room in Truce village. Marle, or Princess Nadia, got up from her perch on the edge of Luccas bed and made Crono sit with her, in an effort to calm him down. But Lucca told us she didnt think it was a gate to another time, she said, softly enough that he had to stop shouting to hear her. She said, she continued, that she thinks its a gate to another dimension.
Crono seemed to calm down a little. Oh, he said. I missed that part. Suddenly, he was all business again. Well, he said resolutely, if its a whole new dimension, well have to go explore it.
Marle--and Lucca, for once--quickly agreed to this, and Lucca added something. If were going to do this in true adventuring style, she said, brandishing her patented WonderShot blaster, well need to gather the gang!
You have a point, said Marle, but where will we find them all?
Well, said Crono, Fr--I mean, Glenns in Guardia Castle in 602 AD,
Robos in the future, Aylas in Ioka village, and Magus is...well...hes somewhere.
Wonderful, said Lucca sardonically. Hes somewhere.
* * *
Far from the comfort of Luccas room, in the depths of an Ice Age cave that had not seen light since the beginning of the Long Winter, Magus quietly and carefully explored. As a small child, before his father (the King of Zeal, of course) had died, he and the rest of the royal family had gone on expeditions through the cave, which he remembered fondly. Magus knew it well, but he didnt know if any unfriendly creatures had moved in since his last visit, so he treaded carefully.
After a short while, he reached what should have been the end of the cave, when...
MAGUS!! Magus, we bid thee come! Magus, we want you come!
Deterred from his search for Schala for a moment, Magus turned his head to look, and then dropped his scythe in astonishment. Why, it was Crono and the whole gang! But they were standing at the caves entrance! They were...
Step away! he called back, his voice saturated with urgency. Now!
Fortunately, they obeyed. He quickly picked up his scythe and hovered over to meet them. That was close, he said when he was near enough for them to hear.
What was close? Why did we have to move like that? asked Marle, and it was made clear by their quizzical looks that the others felt the same way.
You fools, Magus said, wagging one index finger playfully. You never look at the obvious. Ill demonstrate. He turned around, and tapped the sheet of ice covering the ground just inside the cave with the tip of his scythe.
The ice fell away, leaving only a huge, seemingly bottomless hole where it had been.
He turned back around just in time to see everyones reactions. Robos was mild enough, but Glenn and everyone else nearly jumped out of their boots.
Magus chuckled quietly to himself as he walked past them and climbed into the Epoch.
* * *
King Edgar paced back and forth, putting quite a bit of wear on the carpet in his throne room. Hed been nervous for weeks--after all, the Zenobian Empire, biggest and most powerful nation in Vehs, had threatened war with Figaro not long ago. If its emperor, Zarok, did declare war with his little kingdom, the overpowering military of Zenobia wouldnt take long to make just another province out of Figaro...as it had so many other nations.
Sabin, who had been watching his brother with concern from one side of the room, now stepped up and made Edgar sit on his throne. Man, you have to relax, he said as he sat down in the adjacent throne. Youre going to give yourself an ulcer or something. Why dont you come with me and Mog for a while? Were going down to the basement to find one of your crazy inventions so we can mess with it.
Edgar smiled wryly. Which one? he asked. The sand deodorizer? The sound-activated plant waterer? The credit card?
That last ones a little too crazy, even for us, said Sabin.
Edgar smiled. Well, youve made your point, he said. I do need to have a little fun. Ill come along, and see if you can get Terra to come, too.
Sabin nodded, though he knew that Terra probably wouldnt come. For several weeks, shed been acting really weird. Locke had been the only one with enough nerve to ask her about it. Shed spouted out a bunch of stuff about new heroes, and told him that an ancient evil is on the horizon. Everyone wondered if it had something to do with her being half Esper, even though magic could have nothing to do with it--after all, magic in every form had disappeared after they had defeated Kefka.
* * *
The Epoch was a blur, traveling through time and space, as Lucca piloted it. She wondered absentmindedly if her father, Taban, had finished building the Telepod 2.5 as she checked trajectory and obstacle readouts. Magus sat just behind her, absorbed in a book, Crono sat beside him staring out a window, and the others tried to get used to the new back seats, which Lucca had installed a bit too hastily.
After a little while, Lucca landed the Epoch just outside her house in 1000 A.D., and the others got out one by one. Magus quickly put his book away in some unseen pocket, picked up his scythe, and climbed out last, just as Lucca was making final preparations for system shutdown.
May I inquire why we are here? asked Robo. My sensors do not detect a Gate. Thats just it, Lucca replied. This isnt a normal Time Gate. Its my opinion that its a dimensional Gate, or Vortex.
Maguss brow furrowed thoughtfully. Ive heard of them, he finally said. Theyre like Time Gates, but instead of leading to different times, they lead to whole different worlds.
Exactly! said Lucca. Unfortunately, we have one problem, she continued. We dont have the faintest idea where this Vortex will lead.
Big deal, said Crono. Lets go!
With that, the Vortex opened up beside Crono. He charged into it, and the others followed suit.
Here we go again, thought Lucca as she stepped in.
* * *
Terra waited in the Engine Room of Figaro Castle for Sabin, Mog, and Edgar to arrive. Sabin had invited her to come tinker with some of Edgars old inventions, and, much to Sabins surprise, she had accepted. She hadnt done so because she actually wanted to fiddle with machines, of course. But that was a long story. For several weeks, she had been having premonitions of sorts. Shed had feelings that two powerful magical forces, which were somehow linked, were headed to Vehs. Shed had dreams that a group of proven heroes would come to Vehs, and that an evil greater even than Kefka would be waiting for them.
Frankly, it had made her a little edgy.
Even so, she had decided to see things out to the end, and her feelings told her that one of the answers she was looking for would be found in the castle basement.
Just then, Edgar, Sabin, and Mog rushed in. Sorry were late, said Sabin as they walked into the room, but Mog was obsessing over his hair again.
Mog ran a hand over his single strand of hair, which was topped by an interesting yellow orb, and cracked a sly smile. Well, what are we waiting for? he said in his high-pitched, squeaky voice. Lets get our rears in gear!
* * *
When the Vortex spit the seven of them out, Magus thought that their new surroundings looked a lot like the inside of the Zeal Palace catacombs, but that was a story for another day... He looked more closely and saw that the area was mostly empty, with walls made of coarse gray stone brick.
This reminds me of the Guardia Castle storage room, said Marle as she wandered around, examining an ancient-looking bookshelf.
I think this is some sort of...basement, said Lucca, who was wiping some dust off a small table.
Just then, they heard a faint shuffling noise from behind a large wooden door.
What was that!? exclaimed Marle, and everyone else jumped.
Hide! said Crono, and they all scattered.
* * *
Mog approached the large wooden door with caution. The others had said he was just paranoid, but he was sure that there was someone--or something-- behind that door.
He reached out with his pudgy white hand, turned the doorknob, and...
There was nothing there. Or was there? He stepped into the room, and caught a glimpse of moving white. Then, a flash of orange, and--
Hey! Edgar, who was standing in the doorway, reeled as a multicolored blur whizzed by him.
Suddenly, Sabin pushed his brother aside and leaped into the room. Whoever you are, prepare to fight! he exclaimed.
At that, seven figures came out of hiding: a teenage boy with spiky orange-red hair holding a samurai sword, a girl with a blonde ponytail in a simple white outfit loading a crossbow, a girl with purplish hair and glasses readying a blaster, a blonde-haired woman wrapped in blue furs wielding her fists, a knight-type person not unlike Cyan unsheathing a broad sword, a robot with no visible weapons, and an interesing-looking man with long blue hair, pointed ears, and a red cape wielding a wicked-looking sickle.
Finally, the man with the cape said. Ive been waiting for a good battle since this wretched trip started.
Everyone began to prepare for battle.
Then Terra stepped forward.
HOLD IT! she shouted. She turned to Mog and Edgar. These are the heroes that I told you were coming! Im sure of it, she said.
Edgar glared at the seven newcomers. Really, he said in a suspicious tone. Well, if theyre such big heroes, then they wont mind being put in the dungeon for a while.
I dont think so, said the red-haired boy, who had a surprisingly deep voice. He and the others returned Edgars glare.
* * *
How do we get into these messes? Crono wondered to himself as soldiers escorted him and the others to the dungeon.
Marle, who was walking beside him, sensed his unease. I dont like this either, she said, but I think that...that green-haired woman will make sure were treated all right.
Lucca, who was standing behind them, spoke. Even if they treat us well, she said, its still embarrassing to be captured by a king youve never heard of. The others nodded in agreement.
* * *
Edgar, sitting on his throne, listened intently as Terra made her plea. Please, she said, Im only asking to spend some time with them, get to know them a little. Then I can prove their legitimacy. And if I cant, thats that.
Edgar weighed the offer in his mind. All right, he finally said. But take Celes with you, just in case.
Thanks a lot, Terra said. You wont regret it.
Edgar wasnt so sure that he wouldnt regret it, but at least Terra was happy for the moment.
* * *
Magus sat on the hard cot in his dungeon cell, pondering this latest turn of events. At first he had considered the possibility of escaping, but doubted that even his magic, powerful as it was, would be of much use against so many heavily armed guards. He couldnt see into the cells on either side of him, but he knew they cotained Marle and Lucca, and the four cells across the corridor from him held Ayla, Crono, Robo, and Glenn.
Just then, his excellent ears (after all, what good would they be if they were just big and pointy) picked up the sound of walking towards their position. There were two sets of steps, both the light footfall typical of a woman. Neither was armored, though one carried a long sword.
Suddenly Magus realized that he had picked up all that information using hearing alone. He reeled mentally, astonished at his own abilities.
How intriguing, he thought. Another skill to hone...
* * *
Celes walked just behind Terra, her right hand poised near the hilt of her sword, still in its sheath. Terra may think these people really are heroes, she thought to herself, but I dont trust them a bit.
Well, here we are, said Terra as they neared the cells where the newcomers were being held. Celes checked the locks on all their cells, and discovered that they were intact. As she checked the lock on the red-haired boys cell, he said, What, you actually thought we might try to escape or something? We may be brave, but were not stupid.
Crono, just shut up, said the girl with the glasses. Dont get us into any more trouble than were in already.
Yes, that might be smart, said the man with the cape, in an unnervingly calm tone. You see, Im already going to wring your neck for this, he continued. I wouldnt want to have to think of something else to do to you.
Cronos eyes widened a bit, and he gulped nervously, but he said nothing more.
Then Terra began to speak. Look, she said, My names Terra Branford, and this is my friend, Celes Chere. Celes nodded respectfully, though she didnt feel at all respectful. Im going to try to prove that you shouldnt be in here, Terra continued, but obviously Ill need some proof first. One of the things Id like to do is get to know you better, which will help me decide if youve got good character. Well start that by hearing your names.
All right, then, said Crono, Im basically our leader, and as you heard, my names Crono. Okay guys, lets sound off.
The woman wrapped in furs said, Me Ayla. Me strongest in group. No have magic, though.
Celes gave Terra a sideways glance.
The knight said, in a heavy British-sounding accent, Thou mayest call me Glenn. Though my magic is considerably weaker than... He glanced at the man with the cape. Though my magic is weak, I am a master swordsman.
Celes gave Terra another sideways glance.
Then the robot introduced itself. I am called Robo, its digitized voice said. I possess no magic, but my built-in laser weapons register Shadow class damage.
Before Celes could give Terra yet another sideways glance, the girl in the white outfit said spitefully, You can call me Marle, and what kind of magic I use is none of your business.
Celes heard Crono whisper in the direction of Glenn, Shes doing her angry princess routine again! He and Glenn snickered softly.
The girl with the purplish hair and glasses said, Im Lucca, the team whiz kid when it comes to mechanics, and fires my element.
The man with the cape was the last to introduce himself. He looked different from the others, Celes noticed. He looked older than his friends physically, though he was also clearly a teenager, but the somber air about him made him seem somehow...mature.
Strange, Celes thought.
* * *
The man with the cape finally spoke. I am called Magus, he said. He glanced at Celes, looked back down, then continued. Im the most powerful magician in this little band, and I use Shadow magic. However, Im not an idiot, and neither are my friends. Weve seen the guards youve got around here, and it wouldnt be smart for us to try to escape. So please, stop being paranoid.
She bought it! Maybe that will get her off our tails, Magus thought to himself.
* * *
After Crono and company had introduced themselves, Terra produced a key from her pocket and proceeded to unlock Luccas cell. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? exclaimed Celes.
Edgar never said I couldnt take them out of their cells, said Terra. Besides, Im going to take them one by one. And youll be there just in case, remember? She giggled.
This is getting worse by the minute, muttered Celes as she followed Terra and Lucca out of the dungeon.
* * *
I wonder where were going, thought Lucca as she walked, just behind Terra and just in front of Celes. Celes seemed nervous, afraid even. Lucca hoped that she was a better friend to people she knew well, like that Terra.
Terra talked to her as they walked. So, how did you guys get here? she asked Lucca.
Lucca stopped, making Celes run into her head-on and Terra stop to come back to where she was standing. Do you really want to know the whole story?
Well, well have to go back to the dungeon, so the others can help in the explanation, she continued. And I might as well warn you now...this is going to take a while.
* * *
About three hours later, the storytelling was over and Terra, Celes, and Lucca were sitting in the castle library.
Your story is really amazing, said Terra. But I noticed that man--oh, what was his name...May...Moe...uh...
Magus? Lucca put in.
Yes, said Terra. I noticed that that Magus didnt say much about his past. Did he have some kind of...family tragedy or something?
Lady, you dont know the half of it, thought Lucca. However, all she said was, Something like that.
Theres one more thing Id like to talk to you about, said Terra. Youve all been speaking about...magic.
Yeah...something wrong with that? said Lucca.
Girl, you dont know the half of it, thought Terra.
* * *
In their room in the Red Wing Inn, Setzer, Locke, and Percy - the only surviving Doma soldier, who had accompanied them - had finally finished their espionage mission in Zenobia, but they had one more task to complete.
Locke was convinced that the Crown of Rosanne, an ancient (not to mention VERY, VERY, VERY valuable) relic, was hidden somewhere in Viva Zarok, Zenobias capital city. And he was going to find it.
As you can probably imagine, this didnt make Setzer very happy.
Why you little @!#&% !!!!! WHY DIDNT YOU MENTION THIS!? Then I wouldnt have come along! YOU...
The rest is too graphic to put in writing. Its just too horrifying...after all, Vehssian swear words are much more vivid than our own.
After he finally calmed Setzer down, Locke said, Fine, then. You and Percy go back to Figaro Castle and give Edgar our spy report, while I stay here and go look for my treasure.
Just as Setzer was agreeing to this, Percy rushed into the room. Guys, weve got a problem--Emperor Zarok is sending an army of ONE THOUSAND MEN to storm Figaro Castle, and he hasnt even officially declared war!! We have to warn the Returners!!!
Setzer and Percy collected their things and hurriedly rushed out the door, not even noticing that Locke wasnt following them.
After all, someone had to find out more about this new threat.
And as usual...
It would be Locke.
* * *
Percy was more worried than hed ever been in his life as he boarded the airship. Even when everyone in Doma Castle except himself and Cyan, the knight, had been poisoned by Kefka, he hadnt felt so afraid. Doma had been a tiny kingdom...if Zaroks army were to invade Figaro, lives lost would count in the millions.
He climbed to the airships deck, and found Setzer taking off. Wheres Locke? asked Setzer. I havent seen him, said Percy, but he has to be somewhere.
Well, that makes sense, replied Setzer, but still, where could he be?
Im sure hell show up later, said Percy. Now, we have to high-tail it out of here!
* * *
Cyan was walking toward the throne room, wondering if Edgar had finished dealing with the two peasants who had wanted to join the Returners yet, when he heard the rotors of Setzers airship coming near. So, Setzer, Locke, and Percy were back from their spy mission! Cyan wondered if theyd gotten hold of any interesting information.
Barely an instant later, Setzer and Percy ran past Cyan, nearly knocking him down, and not even bothering to apologize before they disappeared into the throne room.
What could be their problem? Cyan wondered aloud.
Thats what we were wondering, said Terra as she, Celes, and Magus approached him.
Actually, said Magus, I was wondering who they were.
Oh, said Terra. Well, the soldiers Percy and the gamblers Setzer, she said.
Thats not much better, Magus muttered.
* * *
Edgar was sitting idly on his throne, hoping no one else would ask to join the Returners, when Setzer and Percy rushed into the room. Percy immediately stepped up and began to explain about their intrusion.
As Percy spoke, Edgar examined him. He was a rather short man, with dark brown hair that he kept in a neat crew cut. Back during his days at Doma Castle, he had worn it under a turban-like helmet, but now he was proud to show it to the world. He wore a plain dark blue tunic, belted at the waist, black pants, and black leather boots. He carried a money pouch and his weapon--a whip--on his belt, which was black leather as well.
And the message he brought was important. Zarok is going to attack soon, with a thousand men! We must prepare for war! he said.
Edgars expression turned grim. He didnt think he would have enough time to prepare for war... But maybe he was wrong. How soon will they be here? he asked Percy.
I dont know, said Percy nervously.
Great. Just great, said Edgar caustically. Guys, go spread the word. We must make ready for war!
* * *
End of Part 1
Coming soon...more magic, mystery, intrigue, some flashbacks, and WAR with your fave characters from Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger! Dont miss it!
Need a sample of Part 2? Here goes!
Edgar thrust his spear through the flimsy chain mail of his opponent, quickly pulled it out, and edged away. He never stuck around long after an enemy had been defeated. Having to look at the blood was bad enough... He trotted away and circled the area, looking for another potential foe.
Not seeing anyone on the northern side at the moment, he ran over to the south side, where Zaroks second wave had just begun to arrive. He saw the mysterious new general--or what he could see of the general, since whoever it was was wearing a long hooded cloak--slaughtering one of his men, strangling him with gauntleted hands.
Edgar raised his spear and charged.
* * *