Dawn to Dusk: A Kids Story Chapter
By Mikau A. Kaiousei
Third moon, first day
Standing on a balcony overlooking the Knights Quarters, Marle smiled as she looked over her army. It wasnt big, but it was tough, and well-trained. Crono was decked out in his pale armor, and the shimmering helmet he would don later was tucked in his arm.
The smile quickly dropped off her face as she heard what the Chancellor was telling her. "What was that?" she demanded, voice frosty.
"Your Majesty, we cannot allow you to go out with the troops..." the poor official said. He started out confident, but quickly crumbled under Marles icy gaze. "You are too valuable, and without an heir..."
"You seem to think I have no combat experience. That Ive never actually fought against other humans. That I cant take care of myself." Marle almost smiled again, thinking of how she could disabuse the Chancellor of his notions.
"That was when you had your..." He dropped his voice to a whisper. "...magic, Your Highness. You cant use it anymore."
Marle had not liked the necessity of letting the Chancellor know she had arcane abilities, but it had been necessary. It had been.
This argument stalled her for a moment. But then, she smiled.
"I believe you dont know the most recent developments, Chancellor." She opened herself to the warm magic, the kind that healed. But it apparently did more than that; Quanta had implied it could be used to harm.
She focused on a wall hanging behind the Chancellor. She had always despised the thing, with its pictures of hunting defenseless foxes, but had never had a chance to have it removed. Now she could.
Weaving the pulsing threads of her magic, she let the shimmering golden veil her eyes saw drape over the hanging. Four threads came out of the corners, and she brought those together.
"Chancellor, you might want to turn around," she said, weaving the four together. She left a space at the top for a knot, and held onto the spell with her mind.
The man turned, and blinked. Marle tied the four threads together, and let the power go.
White light shone around the tapestry, and an explosion blew outward, sending small pieces of string flying. The wall under the now-gone hanging was only blackened.
"See? I am perfectly capable of taking...." Her knees wobbled, and she grabbed the railing of the balcony.
"Majesty, that spell you used was one of the more difficult kinds of Holy magic," Quanta said, coming from nowhere as he so often did. He offered her a small vial, full of a thick, red liquid. "There are easier ways. I could show you."
Marle drank the Ether, and felt her energy return. "If you would be so kind," she said, releasing the stone fence.
Quanta led her to the courtyard behind the castle, and quickly assembled a spell. It was made of Lightning, not Holy, but the principle was the same, as he explained.
"All five kinds of magic have variations, but they all have this one use," he told her. He held a small square of power in the air, keeping it from completion. "You should recognize it; its the basic spell. Ice, Fire, Lightning, they all follow this pattern."
Marle did recognize it, and copied it.
"Now, let it go as you would your Ice spell."
Marle did, and the square immediately vanished. Golden light shone down on the spot it had been, and slowly intensified to become a narrow column of intense white light. It expanded suddenly, and flashed out of existence, leaving a burnt circle three feet wide in the grass. A single chime rang through the air.
"That should be enough to keep you out of trouble without draining you," Quanta said. "Lets go back to the Quarters."
When they returned, Lucca had arrived. Gato stood in the corner, thankfully deactivated. Marle had always found his music annoying and stupid.
Alongside Lucca, only waist height, was a small, green robot that bore a suspicious similarity to Robo. Marle raised her eyebrows as she stopped in front of the scientist.
"Its my newest inventionI call it Robo II." She grinned sheepishly.
"For someone as brilliant as you are, you have the least creativity Ive ever seen," Marle teased.
"Girls. Its time," Crono said, coming up to them. Lucca turned to him, and Marle caught a glimpse of a green glow and an iridescent sparkle, signifying the Prism Dress.
"Marle, do you have your gear?" Lucca asked, patting her gun.
Marle nodded, and touched her neck. A mail shirt flickered on her torso, and the Prism Helm she and Ayla had stolen from Queen Zeal gleamed on her head for a moment.
Crono put on his own helmet. It and his armor faded from view, leaving him seemingly defenseless.
"You kids ready?" Quanta asked, appearing. He wore no visible armor, and had no weapon. Marle didnt even sense the slight aura magical protection gave off..
"Arent you going to get some armor?" she asked.
Quanta smiled. "I dont wear armor." Marles jaw dropped, but the army began to move before she could speak further.
"Porre has been spotted coming from Zenan Bridge," a young knight reported, running up to the four. "We have mobilized and are preparing for combat."
Marle nodded, and the young man ran to rejoin his battalion. "Shall we mount?"
"Lets go," Crono growled. They set off to get their horses. Lucca paused for a moment to reactivate Gato, but rejoined them quickly.
Zenan Bridge, same time
"Do you see them?" Lynx demanded.
"Oui, Monsieur Lynx," Harle replied, looking through a small telescope. "Zey approach from ze north."
"That is quite obvious. Please try to give me details I dont know," Lynx hissed.
A young soldier came running up. His yellow hair came out from under his helmet. "Sir, theyre coming, and they have four magic users!" he said.
"When they close to one hundred feet, have the snipers begin to pick them off. Aim for the ones without armor first."
Private Norris nodded, saluted, and ran back to his post to alert the snipers.
Lynx smiled. This would be the day he became history.
Then he laughed. He already was history!
Clearing north of Zenan Bridge, same time
Lucca summoned her magic, and worked it around Crono, erecting a barrier that would repel swords and arrows. Her Protect spell wasnt often useful, but today it would be.
Shifting her attention to Marle, she noticed a change in the womans feel. There was more power contained within her than Lucca had felt since the end of Lavos.
"Quanta showed me how to use Holy magic," Marle explained, sensing why Lucca was hesitating. "Hurry, were getting close."
Lucca nodded, and wrought her spell again. She couldnt do it to herself, but they had established a system back in the old days. Lucca Protected the other two, and Marle would cast Haste on her, so she could evade more strikes.
She turned to Quanta, but he lifted a hand. "Ill be fine," he told her.
Lucca shrugged, and let go of her power. A red column surrounded her, and bits of golden light flickered around her vision. When it all faded, the rest of the world seemed slower than normal.
"Lets rock and roll," she said, pulling her gun out. Marle readied her crossbow. At one hundred feet, they would begin firing.
"One hundred ten," Harle reported.
"Prepare projectiles!" Lynx roared.
"One hundred five!" Crono yelled. Bows sprang up every third man. Arrows were nocked.
"Ready!" Lynx shouted.
"Aim!" Crono called.
Lucca shot; the bowmen shot.
Porres guns sounded like cannons.
Bullets clanged off armor, and bullets went through visors. The Protect spells flared, as they did when they worked. Lucca dodged two bullets, dove and rolled, and came up after the volley. She let her magic well up, and wove it as quickly as she could in the air, forming a huge orb of worked power.
A faint shout echoed across the battlefield, and as Luccas Flare spell ignited, white columns of light shone around most soldiers. The ones that cast their protective spells too late were boiled inside their armor, or burnt as their clothes caught fire.
As the spell faded, one out of every three or four men were down. But Porres army was so big, that was hardly a deterrence.
Lucca gasped. Quanta snorted.
"Spells wont be very useful. Dont use your exhausting ones; stick to spot shooting, and clear a swath if you have to," he told them. Lifting his hands, he channeled a bolt of lightning around his fists. "You have to catch them by surprise." He pointed, and the electricity crackling around him lashed out once, twice. Twice, fire leapt up as his power caused grass to burn. Twice, a man fell, his armor superheated. The nonmagical fires the lightning caused couldnt be repelled by the white force fields the soldiers cast, and so made chaos and minor burns that added up.
Crono motioned forward, and heeled his horse, Storm. The smoky gray was swift, and Crono had been his rider so long it was used to magic. So when a brilliant, green aura exploded around Crono, and by extension, itself, it ignored the peculiarity and leapt into the battle, lashing out with electrified hooves, teeth, and even its tail.
The two women were on the other side of the riverbank, taking advantage of their long range powers. Marle raised her hands, and cast her own spell. White orbs floated around her, and columns of light shot up in the seething melee. Lucca shot, smiled as the energy blast penetrated the force fields the soldiers had cast, and worked spells when she needed to.
"Were holding our own, Monsieur," Harle said, still looking through the spyglass. She and Lynx were on a large rock of their own, well back from the fighting.
"I think its time we shifted the odds, eh?" Lynx laughed. He focused on his fist, and lowered it to the ground.
Black lightning crackled, and raced toward the Guardian army.
"Forever Zero," the cat-man whispered. He smiled, showing many sharp teeth.
Guardia, by the river
"Whats that?" Marle asked Lucca, pointing. Black lightning was coursing along the ground, heading for a soldier from her country.
Lucca was still shooting; Marle had taken a break from magic and was using her crossbow sporadically as she rested.
As she aimed, Lucca examined the energy. It flowed right past a Porre man and let a tendril touch a Guardian soldier. When it did, it expanded, quickly becoming an envelope of blackness. It vanished after a moment, leaving the soldier to collapse.
"Marle! Its taking out all our men!" Lucca cried. Indeed, shadow was encasing many soldiers as she exclaimed, and all of them fell to the ground when released.
Marle clenched her fist, and looked for Crono. Finding him, she did something she hadnt done for a long timeused a Tech skill.
Crono had forborne his wild usage of magic some time ago, and he was fighting more...economically. He let a slight current run through his sword, so that he could pierce through armor easily. It took only a thought to recharge it. He did the same for Storm's horseshoes.
A space opened around him, allowing him to catch his breath. The Rainbow sword, which had been primarily red, changed colors, shifting between red, green, and blue. He knew what that meant, and so swung his arms in a circle. A rainbow followed the swords path. As he finished the circuit, it expanded, restoring his own health and that of soldiers he knew were benignto him, at leastin range.
Marle gasped as the wave of vitality faded after only a few seconds. Perhaps forty soldiers were up, but far more than that were still down. Normally, it expanded much farther than that.
"Marle, that wasnt enough," Lucca said, perhaps a bit unnecessarily. She pointed as a soldier broke past the line of Guardians, and he became a fiery corpse.
"I noticed!" Marle snapped. She pulled a glass bottle from her pouch, and drank part of the contents. In a few moments, part of her magical energy was restored. She stoppered the bottle, and recalled the rather flamboyant demonstration she had put on for the Chancellor.
Before she began to weave, she remembered how tired she had been after that spell. She uncorked the Ether, and downed the whole thing.
"Marle! Be careful with those, we only have so many!" Lucca admonished.
"Dont worry, I have an idea," Marle told her. She put the bottle back in her pouch, and began to focus.
She had plenty of experience focusing her elemental power through herself, but only with the Water side of her being. The Holy energy felt much different, and so required extra concentration.
But when her muscles spasmed, she knew it had taken hold, and concentrated her entire being on the Holy spell she had cast only that morning.
The veil of golden power spun itself out from her inner core, drawing part of its energy from the light all around her. Of course, that only compensated so much; Marle wouldnt be able to finish the technique alone.
Lucca saw her predicament, and joined her power to Marles. Drawing on the added strength, she passed it through her own mind to make it Holy, rather than Fire, and completed the first part, the cloth-like weaving.
Four threadswell, rope-sized threadsfloated down from the corners, and Marle swung the veil so that it was under the armies. She tied the four threads together, and let the spell go.
Her mind unconsciously labeled all the Guardian soldiers, Crono, and the two robots, so the resulting devastation didnt touch them. All they felt was mild heat.
The Porrian army, however, felt an incandescent flash and a whiff of smoke, then didnt feel again.
Behind the Porrian Army
Lynx could see the giant weaving as well as Marle could, and recognized what it was about to do. The basic Strong Minded spell wouldnt be enough to ward off this threat.
"Harle! Raise your barriers!" Lynx snarled. He invoked all his defensive spells: Hi Res, Strong Minded, and Nimble. A yellow orb flashed around him, and shifted into a white column that swirled around into a blue fountain of mist. Harle cast the same on herself, then called upon her Moon Shine Tech skill. White light shone down on Lynxs face, and a transparent dome covered him.
Marles spell initiated moments after the completion of the protections. White explosions shot up from every soldier within range; the lucky ones went quickly, their shields weakened enough to simply vanish. The unlucky ones had just renewed their Strong Minded spells, and felt the incredible pressure on their minds and bodies as the shields began to crumble.
Every time an explosion started, a phantom bell rang. When it ended, another bell rang. With the sheer amount of soldiers and spells triggering out there, it sounded like a chorus of demented bell ringers determined to deafen the entire world.
When the spell finally collapsed, Lynx released his fierce mental grip on the shields he was maintaining. Long ago, he had dropped the Nimble spell; it was useless against a magical onslaught. The Hi Res had broken on its own; only the Strong Minded had stayed. And it had barely been enough to protect him. Harles barrier had kept perhaps half the force of the spell at bay, but the other half had raged through, only held off by sheer willpower.
"Monsieur, I suggest we retreat," Harle pointed out, perhaps a bit unnecessarily.
"Lets go," Lynx sighed. "Harle, you stay and round up any that survived, and help them as best you can." Harle nodded, and Lynx again used his Forever Zero technique, only in a much more concentrated area. Using the black energy to rip a hole in space, he collapsed the distance from here to his quarters and stepped through.
At Lucca and Marle's river
Crono came galloping up on Storm. He pulled the reins hard to stop the panicked run, and leaped off to kneel beside Marle.
"How is she?" he asked Lucca and Quanta.
"She overextended herself," Quanta answered. "That Holy spell saved us, but shell be bedridden for days, maybe a week."
Lucca grimaced. "Will Ethers help?"
Quanta shook his head. "She didnt use up just her magical energy; she used part of her life force as well. It wont kill her, but it might take years from her life span, if she isnt as lucky as she could be."
Crono picked her up, and draped her over Storms saddle. "Lucca, do you have your horse?"
She shook her head. "He ran off when the spell started. Marles did, too."
"Quanta, can you do your time-hop thing with someone else?"
Quanta nodded. "I wont be able to target a place as precisely, or a time. I should be there between two hours ago and two hours from now. Ill aim for the courtyard, so try to keep people out of it."
Lucca grimaced. "Cant we just walk?"
"Its four miles to the castle, Lucca. Im sure youre exhausted. Youll be fine."
Quanta nodded. "Lets go, missy." He touched her shoulder before she could hit him, and they faded away. The grass under them sprang up, just like they had never been there.
Crono swung himself onto Storm, behind Marle, and clucked at him. They ambled slowly toward the castle.
Guardia Castle, half an hour later
Kid had been left in the castle, battles being too dangerous for her. She agreed wholeheartedly, and didnt try to follow the army. But she was prepared with all the Tonics the castle had, and she was quite ready to keep the soldiers from taking more than their share.
The first began to trickle in, four hours after they left. Kid handed two bottles to most of them, three to the badly wounded, one to the lightly wounded, and none to the untouched.
Lucca and Quanta came from the door that led to the courtyard, perhaps fifteen minutes after the soldiers began arriving. "Could I have one of those, Kid?" Quanta asked.
Kid nodded, and handed him a bottle of green liquid. He downed the whole thing, and his various injuries began to mend. Kid offered one to Lucca, but she shook her head.
"I dont need Tonic, Kid. I wasnt in the fighting. But if you have an Ether to spare..."
Kid had four, one for each of the magic users. She handed one to Lucca, and offered one to Quanta. He smiled, and took it.
Lucca pointed. "Theres Crono," she said.
Crono carried Marle next to Kids table setup. "Im taking her to her bed, then Ill come back for some of that," he told them. Lucca nodded, and the young man started walking again.
"How did it go?" Kid asked. "Why is Marle unconscious?"
"We won, but Marle had to cast a huge spell that drained her. Shell be really tired for about a week."
Kid nodded solemnly, and absently gave another tonic to a knight. She pulled her amulet out, and began rubbing it.
"Whoa!" Quanta yelped, jerking back. "What is that thing?"
"Its my amulet..." Kid said. "Lucca found me with it..."
"That I did," Lucca agreed. "Im sorry I forgot to warn you; it has quite a bit of magical potency, and is a bit...loud."
"Why, thank you for that lovely information, Madame," Quanta muttered. He touched his eyelids, and murmured a word. Kid saw a yellow visor come over his face, and he opened his eyes again.
"Kid, why dont you let Quanta and I take care of the medicines, okay? Go into the Guests Quarters and ask for a bed. Its pretty late."
Kid nodded, and ran off. Lucca smiled, and began passing out the bottles.
Porre Governmental Headquarters; Council Chamber
"We were holding our own until a giant spell ripped through everything," Norris reported. He was standing before the Ruling Council of Porre: General Lynx, as well as the Head of Political Affairs, the Head of Government, the Head of Security and Espionage, and the Head of Magical Research. "All but two of the snipers survived. The melee fighters protections had weakened, so they were incinerated. We tried to cast Revive, but there wasnt enough of their bodies left to put back together.
"Thats it, sirs." Norris saluted, but stayed where he was. Leaving without dismissal was grounds for demotion, and privates were demoted right out of the army.
"Well...Lynx, did you recognize this...phenomenon?" the Head of Magical Research asked.
"It was an expanded form of the Holy spell our scientists have tried to create. But it required two mages, and the one who handled the actual casting was drained totally. She wont be in battle for at least a week, according to Sir Lofflys spies." Lynx nodded toward the Head of Security and Espionage. "We plan to attack Guardia Castle again, with our additional troops."
"What additional troops?" Lord Grange, the Government Head, asked. "Didnt we use the entire army in that battle?"
"Forgive me, sir, but youve never actually been in battle," Lynx said smoothly. "You never dedicate your entire force to a skirmish. We have twenty thousand men ready to go."
Lord Grange blinked, and nodded.
"Private Norris, who were the two snipers that were taken by the spell?" Lynx asked, changing the subject.
"Lieutenant Goff and Private Jaol, sir."
"You are officially promoted to Lieutenant rank, and put in charge of the snipers. You are dismissed."
"Thank you, sir!" Norris shouted, saluting again. He turned, and marched out.
"Now, my colleagues..." Lynx began, laying out his battle plans.
Guardia Castle; Knight's Quarters
Lucca sat back in the chair she had fetched. The last of the army was seen to, and everyone was in the best condition possible. Lucca herself felt only naturally tired, not the deep, nagging exhaustion that heavy magic usage caused.
"Lucca, you need to be asleep," Crono said, yawning himself. "So do we."
Lucca shook her head stubbornly. "Not until Kid comes back."
"You sent Kid to bed!" Crono cried. "She wont come back until morning!"
Lucca put on a frown, but cast about for another excuse. Crono didnt know why she didnt want to sleep. No one did, except her parents.
"Lucca, it really would be for the best if you went to sleep. You cant just drink a Tonic after staying up all night," Quanta tried.
"Im fine!" Lucca snarled.
Quanta raised an eyebrow, but looked away when Lucca glared at him.
"Listen, Lucca, you have to sleep. You used more magic than anybody except Marle. You should be somewhat drained, at least."
"Fine. Ill see you in the morning," she said curtly, stalking out of the room.
To face her nightmares.
600 A.D.; Seventh Moon
Frog stood in a large clearing in the Denadoro Mountains, facing a man with silver hair.
"To vanquish thee, I shall perform any deed!" Frog cried, brandishing the Masamune.
The White Lord, Maguss successor, laughed. He had a flashy white cloak, and his boots were also white. His tunic and undershirt were both blue, and his breeches were green. A brown leather belt with a golden buckle, and a plain sword, completed his ensemble.
Drawing the blade, he swung it. Light flashed off it, making Frog blink. "Come, then, Frog Knight," he scoffed, brushing silver hair out of his amethyst eyes. "Let us fight."
Frog leapt forward, swinging his own sword. The Lords light katana darted up to block the blow. Frog pushed it harder, to break through the simple steel...
...and went flying as a flash of light blinded him. Quickly calling upon his own magic to restore his vision, he raised the Masamune, calling upon its capacity as a magical shield.
A yellow disc spread from the scarlet blade, becoming a dome that covered Frog. The White Lord smiled, and chanted four arcane words.
Pink light streamed from the sky, and swirled about him, making a dome of his own. As the Masamunes ended, his merely vanished from sight.
"Thourt using thy magic; I shall use mine own!" Frog declared. He drew raw power from within his heart, felt the Masamune boost it, as usual, and forced it into the pattern he wished it to follow.
The White Lord smiled as a large wave bore down on him. As it struck, he felt absolutely nothing. A yellow-green shield flashed around him, reflecting the magical potency of the spell.
Frog, poor thing, felt a large impact as a wave smashed him to the ground, forcing him toward a large bluff.
The Masamune struggled valiantly to protect him from the spell, but it couldnt fight itself; some of its own magic was imbued in the water pouring down. Frog closed his eyes, and tried to breathe deeply.
The water itself wouldnt have harmed him, normally, but the magic behind it forced on his body, making his lungs think they couldnt expand with the life-giving oxygen. Already weakened by the fight, his mind couldn't exert itself over the spell's force.
Weakly, he raised the Masamune. He felt the two spirits within it fighting to save his life. But they were fading beneath the White Lords power...
Lucca jerked out of her sleep, gasping. Her face was drenched in sweat, and her hair was clinging to her skull. She brushed it away from her eyes, and just breathed for awhile.
The dream had been so vivid. She didnt want to believe Frog was dead, or else under the White Lords power, but that was the impression she had gotten.
"Wait. What am I saying? It was just a dream! Dreams arent real. It was just what Quanta said, resonating in my brain! Thats all!" Her attempt to reassure herself finished, she got up to get a drink.
She donned a green shirt over her pale nightgown, and quietly walked down to the kitchen. She saw Quanta at a table, nursing a tankard of ale.
She stuck her head into the kitchen, thankfully much less chaotic at night, and asked for a glass of water. The chef nodded, and quickly fixed her drink, adding a drop of precious lemon oil.
Lucca smiled, and went to sit in front of Quanta. "Hello. Cant sleep?" she asked, settling into place.
He looked at her with bloodshot eyes. "Nightmares," he growled. "Cant get em outta my head."
Lucca sighed. "I have nightmares, too," she admitted. "About a friend of mine, being killed."
"What friend?" her companion asked. "One of your fellow warriors?"
Lucca nodded. "The Frog Knight."
"Is he fighting the White Lord?"
Lucca looked at Quanta. "Yes, he is...he casts a Water spell, but the Lord turns it back on him."
Quanta nodded. "Thats my nightmare."
Lucca looked into her water. "How can we both have the same dream?" Her water gave no immediate answer, but Quanta did.
"It could be fate," he suggested. Lucca snorted.
"Theres no such thing as" Her sentence cut off, though she didnt stop speaking. The air simply refused to carry the words.
Quanta fell through the floor as the walls screamed. He knew this wasnt an effect of his drinking; Lucca was covering her ears, trying to shut out the pained sounds.
"The FATE system is now in control of the El Nido Archipelago."
"We will initiate anti-destruction experiments shortly."
"The energys going wild! Stop it!"
"No time! No time!"
The shrieks ceased, and the two drinking companions floated in darkness.
~I wish only for freedom, but my will binds me~
~Longing to hold any child, I doom my own forever~
~Help me, dear one~
~Free me from the cage of my own creation~
The voice was both a soft spoken, civilized young woman, and the screaming, uncontrolled malevolence of nature. Lucca recognized both timbres, but Quanta knew neither of them.
The vision halted, and Lucca found herself staring into a glass of water, waiting for a reply to a useless question. Quanta quickly chugged his ale.
"That...was Schala," Lucca stated. "I dont know the other voice, but the woman was Schala. Im certain of it."
"Whos Schala?" Quanta demanded, his voice creaking.
"Schala is a princess from another time," Lucca explained. "Wait, you travel time as well. Did you ever visit the Kingdom of Zeal?"
"No. Never had the time," Quanta replied, as if just realizing the irony. "Was busy with a family..."
Lucca could tell that was a sore subject, so she deftly twisted the conversation. "Did you recognize the second voice?" Quanta was already shaking his head.
"It wasnt from Earth. Thats all I could tell."
"Not from Earth? How do you know?"
Quanta looked at her. "How dense could you possibly be? Our planet is at peace; there hasnt been a war for three and a half centuries. Itll take far more than the little skirmish earlier to create something with a voice like that."
"What if its older than the peace?" Lucca argued. A realization hit her. The only thing that old, besides Marles pendant and the Masamune, was...
"Lavos," she stated grimly.
"The first beat of the war drum echoed through the field..."