When we last left the land of Vehs, Maguss fate was in the hands of a mysterious new general in Zaroks army. What will become of him? Lets find out...
Final Fantasy III: The New Returners Part 3
By Loren Leah
Wake up, prophet...
Wake up! a voice shouted at Magus. His eyes snapped open, and he saw immediately that he was in a dungeon cell. The person whod been yelling at him was the mysterious, cloaked general, who was standing over him.
Ungh...did you call me...prophet? he asked her as he sat up. Or at least, he tried to sit up. As soon as he did, he felt unbearably woozy and laid down again.
Correct, the general replied. Magus was unnerved. There was something so familiar about that voice, that aura...
Suddenly, Maguss world went black.
* * *
Crono paced back and forth on the stone floor of the castle. Marle kept grabbing for him playfully as he passed her in the throne rooms hall, but he knew that she wasnt in the mood for playing. None of them had really been fond of Magus when he was around, but now that he was gone, they were worried about him at least.
Edgar sat on his throne, on the platform at the end of the throne room hall. He held his head in his hands, deep in thought. He barely moved, even to breathe.
Terra stood by the throne opposite him; she too was deep in thought, with her chin resting on the top of the throne.
Suddenly Edgars head shot up. Ive got it! he exclaimed. We can send in a spy to get him out!
Thats been done to death, Crono murmured, still pacing. Cant we think of something original?
Who cares, as long as it works? Marle scowled.
Hes right, though, said Terra. I dont think that would work. Hmm...
All of a sudden, they all heard a gale of a wind howling outside the throne room doors.
What was that!? Marle shrieked.
Then a small tornado broke through the doors and came straight for Crono and Marle!
* * *
Hi, guys! Did ya miss us? said an impish voice from inside the tornado.
Quiet, Mune, an equally impish, though slightly deeper, voice whispered.
Masa and Mune! exclaimed Crono and Marle.
The tornado disappeared, and there stood the twin guardians of the Masamune.
As I said, did ya miss us? Mune asked.
Not really, Marle giggled.
We dont know what you guys are gonna do to save Ja-- Mune started, but Masa jammed his elbow into Munes gut.
What Mune meant to say is We felt something wrong, so we got out of our sword form to see if we could help. So, do you need any help saving Magus?
Cronos grin was wide. You guys, we know. About Magus. He told us where he was from a long time ago.
A blank look crossed Munes face for a moment. Masa whsipered something to him and he finally said, Oh, so you guys know that hes Janus, right?
Crono looked at Masa. I feel really bad for you, he said. Little Brother here must be quite a pain.
You have no idea, Masa muttered. But down to business. Heres our plan...
* * *
In the darkness of morning before the dawn, eight figures--and an inconspicuous gust of wind--crept silently towards Zaroks Grand Palace, on the northern outskirts of the city of Viva Zarok. Upon reaching the palace gates, they quickly knocked out both the guards and left them in a neat pile near the door as they entered.
Stealthily, using the maps Locke had given her, Celes led the way. Terra followed close behind her, and behind Terra followed Crono and company, all five of them.
But there should be six behind me, Crono thought to himself as he walked. Of course, if there were six behind me, I might not be here.
But somehow, I think it would have come to this anyway...
Suddenly, a sharp whisper cut into Cronos thoughts. Were at the dungeon, said Celes. Masa and Mune reverted to their normal forms.
Crono looked around. They certainly were in the dungeon. A heavy air of uneasiness seemed to choke him as they walked down the corridors, peeking into the mostly empty cells.
Evidently, Zarok did not believe in taking prisoners.
Listen...whats that? Masa wondered aloud. Everyone did listen, and a melodious female voice could be heard from the far side of the corridor.
You see, Sir Funsworth? He refuses to wake up.
Then came the reply, in a high male voice: Or perhaps he really is unconscious.
Nonsense, the female voice said. People like this one dont wake up and then suddenly become unconscious again. Hes too powerful for that.
After that, Crono stopped listening and started to follow the others toward the voices, with the corridor widening substantially as they moved.
He heard the last of the conversation just as he was coming within range of sight. So this is-- Funsworth began.
Then he saw them.
* * *
Its those blasted Returners, he said through clenched teeth.
The woman general, still in her cloak, turned as well. Well, it is you, she said in an amused tone of voice. For all the good it will do you, Funsworth interrupted harshly. You can rot with your friend in the dungeon.
On the contrary, said the general. I never intended their...friend...to rot. Oh, no, I think that would prolong his life quite a bit, now wouldnt it? Best we make his death fast and painless.
She paused for a moment, and Crono was just sure there was a devilish smile on her face inside the hood of her dark blue cloak. Or better yet, fast and extremely painful.
You dog! Terra suddenly burst out. What did he ever do to you!?
As a matter of fact, snapped the general, he ruined what passed for my life.
But how could he? Lucca nearly jumped in astonishment. Hes not even from this dimension!
And who says I am? the general said.
Lucca was at a loss for words.
Slowly, Magus stirred. Wonderful, the general hissed gleefully. Ill finish him off myself, now that hes awake.
Magus emitted a noise that Lucca would have called a grunt, if not for his ever-charismatic bearing.
The general stepped through the open cell door and moved next to Magus. She raised her arms, and began to chant arcane words. Lexxa gino bex kiana...
Magus stared at her, frozen in utter horror.
Suddenly, he uttered one short, low syllable, and lay down again, his remaining strength spent.
The general instantly stopped spellcasting. Blast! Hes muted me, she muttered. And used all his energy doing it, Id wager. What a fool.
All of a sudden, Terra pushed her way into the cell, and pushed the eneral out. Terra rushed to Magus to examine his wounds, but he, still barely conscious, pushed her away.
Theres nothing...you can do for me, he managed to croak.
And how would you know? she said softly as she bent over him again.
The wound...is magical. Only...magic...can cure it.
Then well get one of your friends, Terra said, gesturing to the others, locked in combat with Funsworth and the general.
Not now, he said with urgency. Go help them. Then...then you can worry about me.
Terra kissed him lightly on the cheek as she drew the Atma Weapon from its scabbard.
I wont be long, she said softly, and left.
Magus was sure hed died and gone to heaven.
* * *
Thrust, parry... Terra expertly swung her sword, and it was met by Funsworths equally expert block. The Atma Weapon crackled with static energy.
Suddenly, Funsworth tried a low sweep with his steel blade. Terra jumped, barely missing having her feet cut off. Youll have to do better than that, she said, and caught Funsworth off guard with a quick swing. His sword clattered to the floor, and he scurried off, defeated.
Meanwhile, everyone else was ganging up on the general, who, without her magic, was seemingly defenseless.
Seemingly. She jumped up, and with a quick roundhouse kick knocked everyone out of the way--even Masa and Mune were caught by surprise. She yelled a triumphant, Ha! and ran down the corridor after Funsworth.
Should we follow them? Crono wondered. Lets not for now, said Marle. Weve got a friend that needs help.
* * *
Edgar stood patiently on the castle steps, waiting for the approaching group to arrive. In his hand, he was unintentionally squeezing a blueprint that he planned to show his guests, if everyone was all right.
Eventually, the group reached him. He could see they were struggling to lift something... What could it be? he wondered to himself, and then realized he already knew.
He summoned a soldier, who helped lift Magus onto a chochobo.
How is he? he said, suddenly concerned again.
Not much better, said Terra as they walked around to the left tower, and into the room where she had once slept. Were not sure what to do for him. He keeps drifting in and out of consciousness.
She turned as they reached the door, and helped the others lift Magus. Edgar held the tower door open as they carried him inside and laid him on the bed.
As he stepped inside, Edgar said, So, I guess this wouldnt be the best time to tell you about our little remodeling project?
Your what? Marle asked.
Never mind, said Edgar. Ill explain later.
* * *
ONE MONTH LATER
Hey! Watch it! Youre supposed to be remodeling the castle, not my face! Edgar yelled, ducking just in time to avoid being hit in the head with a huge pillar, carried by none other than Sabin.
Sorry, Sabin said as he walked past, setting the pillar in place next to an ornately carved door which read Cafeteria. I didnt see you there. Guess Ill have to be more careful.
Much more, Edgar muttered as he continued on to his destination, a door next to the cafeteria door, one that read Infirmary. He opened the door and walked inside, passing three rooms and the lobby, before coming to one with a closed door. He entered.
Terra looked up from her seat beside Maguss bed. Hi, she said dejectedly. She looked as if she hadnt slept in days. Marle, who was doing something on the far side of the room, looked up as well. Robo, who was on the side of Maguss bed opposite from Terra, didnt move, but his optical sensors swiveled toward Edgar.
You know, you really should get someone to stay with him nights while you sleep, Edgar said gently as he crouched down beside Terra. After all, hes been like this for a month. Dont you think he might be...
Please, Marle said. Dont even say it. Were doing our best to help, and-- Suddenly, Marle stopped mid-sentence. She stared at Magus.
My sensors, Robo said, register 90% consciousness...91%...92...95...
99...100%! Magus is awake!
Magus groaned. It was a disgusting sound, but everyone was so happy they didnt care.
Marle ran past them and burst through the infirmary doors. Hes awake! she shouted. Magus is up!
Her voice caught the attention of Crono and company, who were just coming out of the cafeteria, as well as Mog, Cyan, Percy, Celes, and Sabin, who had heard her from outside. Whats up? Mog called in his squeaky voice as he came in. I think we heard you wrong. Did you say Magus is awake!?
Absolutely!! Marle jumped with joy.
Crono and company rushed up to her. Hes really up? said Crono. Yes! Cmon, lets go see him! she said. She ran toward his room, and the others followed.
Terra was standing over Maguss bed, and mumbled a greeting as Marle and everyone entered. Edgar stood at a distance, looking greatly relieved.
Magus looked up as they arrived. He was even paler than usual, and he had dark circles under his eyes, but he was awake.
Thank goodness, Marle thought as she approached his bedside.
* * *
Hello, Magus said hoarsely as Marle, Glenn, Ayla, and Lucca approached. I must look horrible, he thought. I wonder how long Ive been out?
You had us pretty worried for a while there, said a voice to his left. He turned, and discovered that the voice belonged to Terra. You were unconscious for a whole month! I hope youll be okay now.
Ditto, said Marle, who was just behind her. In fact, she said with a grin, I almost missed you. Things just havent been as gloomy without you.
Very funny, said Magus, who proceeded to cough like crazy. Marle smiled sheepishly. Sorry, she said. Uh...maybe you shouldnt talk for a while.
Putting all his effort into it, Magus tried to smile back. It really hurt his face--after all, his face muscles were completely un-exercised--but it did look halfway like a real smile.
Marles smile grew even larger.
* * *
Owww...ohh...dont do things like that! Magus flinched as Lucca poked an unpleasant-looking needle into his side.
Well, sorry, but I have to take a blood sample, Lucca explained as she pulled the bloodstained needle out. Oh, shes going to make me sick, Magus said mockingly. Terra, who was sitting at his bedside, giggled.
Lucca grinned. Since when do you have a sense of humor?
Maguss face regained its normal stern composure. I have it when I need it, he said.
Lucca stopped grinning. Ill, um, get on with those blood tests, she said, and hastily walked away.
I think you ruined her fun, Terra said.
Magus sighed. I should really just forget humor entirely. Crono and his friends arent used to me telling jokes. In fact, Im not used to me telling jokes.
Terra laughed outright. There goes another one.
* * *
With a wide backlash, Zarok cleanly cut the head off his practice dummy. Funsworth and the woman general applauded politely. Even better than your normal perfection, sire, the general said.
Zarok leered, showing off every fang in his tooth-filled maw. Well, mlady, would you care to go a round with me?
Zarok could feel the general leering back, though he couldnt see her face under her hood. Absolutely, my lord. But first, let me remove this cumbersome cloak.
Gauntleted hands came to her throat, where she undid a jeweled brooch, and the cape and hood slipped to her feet.
Zaroks jaw dropped.
Her pearly-white boots, gauntlets, and skimpy torso armor perfectly contrasted her nearly white skin and sky blue ponytail, with small ears coming to delicate points. From the bottom of her armor a wine-red loincloth hung, and from her matching belt hung a scimitar in a pearly-white scabbard. The only flaw on her entire body appeared to be a large scar which ran down one side of her face. However, Zarok couldnt escape the feeling that shed look better in something purple...
She unsheathed her sword, and beamed at him. Well, she said, what are we waiting for?
* * *
Janus ran miles through the shadows, but there seemed to be no end to the canyon. Even so, he had to keep running, or Ozzies father would catch up...
Far away, he heard the sound of feet plodding on the ground. Was it Rennik, his fathers royal pegasus, come looking for him? If so, that wouldnt be a surprise, since Janus was the only one who snuck him moonberries.
Then the sound started getting closer, and closer, until it was so loud that it sounded as if it were right behind him. Was it really Rennik? He didnt know, and he was afraid to look...but what if his father Lornan had sent Rennik ahead? What if he was riding on Rennik right now, and would be angry if Janus didnt turn around?
Janus couldnt stand it any longer. He turned around, and it wasnt Rennik, nor his father.
It was a foe long since destroyed--Nerre, the dirty-white looking Cloud Dragon, defeated when Magus was no more than twelve.
Wait. Magus... Where had he heard that name before?
The dragons hideous mouth opened, and columns of flame hurtled toward Janus.
The flames leapt closer, and closer...
Magus woke up in a cold sweat. Terra leaned over him. Had a bad dream? she whispered. He nodded.
Well, its over now. Just go back to sleep, she said soothingly.
Youre making me feel like a little kid, he whispered.
She smiled. Well, everyone ought to sometime.
Magus fell asleep that night faster than he ever had in his life.
* * *
End of Part 3
Now that the generals identity is (nearly) certain, what dastardly plans does she have for Zarok, Magus, the Returners and the world? Find out in Part 4, coming soon!!!
Cronos long-legged stride quickly brought him down the wide corridor, into the spacious laboratory where Magus was being held. As he came in, ignoring Terra clashing swords with someone right in front of him, he gazed up at the huge magic-draining contraption on the wall. Amid the mess of tubes and circuits, he saw Magus attached to it. He rushed around Terra to try and help Magus, but stopped as a blue-green bolt blew up one side of the machine.
The spellcasters came rushing around from the right, ready for battle. Crono couldnt believe his eyes.
It was Slash and Flea.
* * *