Chrono Trigger: Times of War Chapter 1
The New Knight
June 1st, 586ad, Truce Village
Aragorn Lestrides exited the small building that he called home and looked up into the midday sun. Slinging a bag over his shoulder and feeling for the mid-sized blade that hung from his hip, he smiled slightly and walked down the street. To think, that he was finally old enough to join the ranks of the Knights of the Square Table. Truthfully, his sixteenth birthday had passed by nearly a week now, and it was finally time to reach the dream of every hot-headed youth in the town.
Getting into the army wasn't really that hard anymore, though. Not with the whole Magus issue starting to heat up and everything like that. There had been a few larger battles at this point and the kingdom was short on men. That didn't put a wrinkle in the youth's stride, however. To finally be a warrior; that's what he wanted.
It wasn't even contestable that he was already one of the more skilled with a sword. Save for Cyrus, he might have been the best in the town. Cyrus would be there sure enough, there was no doubt in that. He was to good not to be a Knight. Aragorn didn't worry about Cyrus, though. Having one person you couldn't beat was all that bad.
It was fortunate for a lot of people that they were friends. Maybe if some people were lucky, the two would put on a public sparring for the entertainment of the common public. Showing off was a prime part of both of their schedules. After all, if you're one of the best, shouldn't everyone else know it?
Reaching into his pocket, he glanced at the sheet of paper with an address marked on it. '31 Marlow Place' the paper read. It was the sheet of paper that they had given him when he enlisted. He remembered it well, and how strange everything had been .
"You're Lestrides?" the old man had asked him. Aragorn had nodded curtly, standing as tall as he could. "Okay," the man had said. "Be here on the first of June at three O'clock," he said before handing Aragorn the piece of paper that he held in his hand now. He was quite interested to find out about this place and the people there. He still thought it was odd, however, looking back on it. He remembered that the man had known his name as soon as he had walked in. It was certainly weird, but it didn't phase him then and shouldn't phase him now.
He stepped up to the building that matched the address on the paper. It was a large building, possible an assembly hall of some sorts. It was one of the few buildings in the area that was made of stone rather than wood. Walking up to the door, he was shocked to find that the large doors opened up for him as he stepped on the entry stoop. With a slight creek, the swung inward. Checking both directions before entering, Aragorn slowly walked into the stone building.
Inside the building, there were rows of benches in which there were many boys ranging from around his age to possibly age to around eighteen already sitting. There were also some older men. Around the perimeter of the room there stood knights in full armor. "Welcome, Aragorn Lestrides," a voice called from the side. He turned to see a tall man in armor standing off to his right. "Please," he said, "Take your seat with the other recruits. We'll be starting soon." Aragorn nodded, walking in and looking for familiar faces. It wasn't long before he picked up on Cyrus, who was sitting up near the front.
Just like usual, Aragorn thought to himself. Inhaling deeply, he walked up to Cyrus and sat down next to him.
"Hey," Cyrus said, not really happy to see Aragorn in particular but still happy to have found someone that he knew. Most of the faces he didn't recognize.
"Hey," Aragorn said. "Where's Glenn?" he asked.
"Oh, Glenn? He well, he didn't enlist."
"Why not," Aragorn asked. "He's almost as good with a sword as you."
"Better," Cyrus said. Aragorn felt that was hard to believe, only because he had hardly ever seen Glenn actually use a sword against a human. He was a nice kid, but Aragorn hardly considered him better than Cyrus with a sword.
"Any reason?" Aragorn asked.
"No, not really," Cyrus said, not wanting to say anything about his friend that might not need to be said. "I just think he wants to wait."
"Whatever," Aragorn said, shifting his weight around in his seat and fiddling with his sword belt. There was a brief pause before Aragorn decided to ask some questions about this whole thing. "Umm did they know who you were when you walked into the enlistment building?" he asked.
"Hmm?" Cyrus questioned.
"I mean, well," Aragorn paused. "Well, they knew who I was when I walked in."
"Oh, yeah," Cyrus said. "The same happened to me. I think that happened with everyone."
"What does it mean?" Aragorn asked.
"It means that obviously there is some significance to being sent here," Cyrus said. "I don't know what it means," he said, "But I'm sure it means something."
"Any reason why?" Aragorn asked.
"Well, Glenn came with me when I enlisted. He stood on the lines with me. When we got up to the desk, they knew his name too. They tried to convince him to enlist. I don't know why."
"That's odd. Do you think-" Aragorn started to say, but was cut off by the voice of a knight that was now standing up on a platform at the front of the room. He was clad in a full ceremonial uniform and his chest was covered in battle honors and other medals. The knight addressed the congregation in a loud, powerful voice.
"Welcome gentlemen!" he announced. "My name is General Rathnar." He paused briefly. I'm sure that you're all wondering why you are here, correct?" There was some mumbling around the room. "The answer to that question is quite simple." He started to pace across the platform with this hands clasped neatly behind his back.
"You are here to become soldiers," he said. "Not just any soldiers though. You have been selected as the elite of your generation, and so you shall be the elite of generations to come." There was more mumbling as to the meaning of this. "Welcome, friends, to the elite of the Guardia Military. Welcome to the King's Guard!"
The knight stepped down from the podium and another knight took his place. This knight looked slightly less decorated in battle honors, but his showing of medals was still impressive. "Men, my name is Commander Grath. Firstly I would like to give you a short briefing of our unit before we continue. The King's Guard was founded during the sundering forty years ago. The rightful heir to the throne, father of our current King, was falling victim to many assassination attempts, barely escaping with his life. It was under these conditions that the council of generals created the King's Guard to act as his protection.
"Over the years, the quality of men in the Guard led their use to stray from simply protection of the King to becoming the hand of destruction of Guardia in battle. The Guard became an elite troop, dedicated solely to the destruction of the enemies of the crown. To this day, we hand pick potential candidates for the Guard from the talent among the youth of Guardia.
"What do you mean potential?" one voice cried from the seats behind Aragorn.
The Knight smiled briefly. "Well, for example: you were a potential until you questioned a commanding officer." Grath waved his hands and the person who had asked the question was quickly removed from the room, the door closed and locked behind him.
"Any other questions?" Grath asked. No one moved. "While it has been raised, when we say potential, we mean exactly that. You have all been selected as possibilities for the Guard, due to our men watching you fight and act. That does NOT mean that you will all be inducted. I have told you all about the Guard that I can. You must be accepted before you learn anymore.
Grath stepped down from the stand and walked down the center isle. He stopped when he reached the row that Aragorn and Cyrus were siting in.
"Aragorn Lestrides and Cyrus Kalith!" he commanded. "On your feet!" Noting what happened to those that question orders, they both rose without pause.
"Walk in front of the rest of us and draw your weapons!" Grath said. Now somewhat more apprehensively, Aragorn and Cyrus exited their seating row and walked up to the wide corridor between the front row of benches and the 'stage' where the podium was. Standing side by side, they drew their weapons as instructed.
"Well?" Grath questioned. Aragorn and Cyrus remained motionless. "Fight!" Grath commanded. Not really knowing what else to do, Aragorn and Cyrus squared off against each other and drew their weapons into a fighting stance. Both young men were using single edged blades about two feet long, so neither had a noticeable advantage due to the type of their weapons.
They stood motionless for a few moments before Aragorn made the first move, lunging at Cyrus with a swipe to the mid-section. Cyrus parried the strike and counter attacked with a looping overhead chop. Aragorn raised his blade to parry, the blades clashing with a spark. Both of them pulled back and then both rushed in again, their attacks meeting. The two vied for supremacy as there blades remained locked together.
Pushing closer, Aragorn managed to whisper to Cyrus. "Let's give them a real show," he said, gritting his teeth. Cyrus forced a grin and nodded shortly.
Both of them exploded back from their stalemate, Cyrus springing forward again. Slashing across the middle, he was parried by Aragorn's blade. Quickly counter-reposting, he made another swipe towards Aragorn's head. Aragorn blocked this one two, making his own counter attack this time. Making a large string of cuts, he pushed Cyrus continuously back, but each slash was met by a perfectly coordinated parry.
Cyrus remained unphased by the strand of attacks, finally ducking one of Aragorn's head cuts and coming back with an upward slash. Aragorn barely managed to escape being slit from navel to jaw, but his shirt was slashed open up the middle. Cyrus then used his momentum to bring his blade back down towards his opponent. Aragorn jumped to the side of the blade, swinging sideways to Cyrus's back. Cyrus somehow managed to swing his blade over his head and across his back in order to parry Aragorn's strike.
Aragorn landed from his attack by rolling into a recovery, incorporating a head parry into the roll and pushing aside Cyrus's counter attack. Fighting from his knees, Aragorn continued to knock away a flurry of blows from his opponent before taking advantage of an opening. By locking his blade behind Cyrus's left leg and pulling back, Cyrus fell backward, barely recovering into a back handspring. Landing awkwardly, he barely parried Aragorn's straight lunge to his mid-section.
Aragorn recoiled from his attack as Cyrus recovered from his parry and the both readied to strike again. Eyeing each other briefly, they both jumped forward with a cut. Aragorn went for the head and Cyrus went for the chest. They would have killed each other, but as they were about to land their lunges, General Rathnar yelled, "Hold!" Both Aragorn and Cyrus pulled back at the last second, holding their weapons about an inch away from they target they had been aiming for. Both young men were sweating and breathing heavily.
"Excellent," Rathnar said. "That will be enough." Aragorn and Cyrus slowly lowered their weapons, still maintaining eye contact. Standing down, they both sheathed their blades.
"This is what is expected of all of you," Grath said. "You must all undergo similar tests before being inducted." He walked between Cyrus and Aragorn and spoke solely to them. "At ease, Guardsmen," he said with a small grin. Aragorn and Cyrus exchanged glances before returning to their respective seats.
"You must all be ready to lay down your life on the command of the Guard," Grath said, starting to pace up and down the front isle with his hands clasped tightly behind his waist. "We exist only to defend, therefore, we exist only to die."
General Rathnar stepped forward. "That is all for today gentlemen. We will contact each of you separately when we decided that you are to be tested. Until then, may you stay alive "
"You heard the General," an unnamed Knight said. "We're done. Everyone get out!" he announced. Slowly, the congregation rose and exited the building. Cyrus and Aragorn were slow to leave, lagging behind at the end of the line that had formed.
As they reached the door, General Rathnar placed a hand on each of their shoulders. "Do not speak of what you have seen or done here," Rathnar said. "I have high expectations of you two." Without another word, Rathnar turned and went back the rest of the Knights. Aragorn turned and looked to see him speaking with Grath, but soon turned back around.
"Let's go," Cyrus said. Aragorn nodded. At a relatively slow pace, the two young men left the building into the crisp daylight.
Wandering out into town, Aragorn looked at the sun and judged it to be about 4:00 give or take fifteen minutes. He was walking with Cyrus, somewhat inadvertently though. The just seemed to be walking with no real direction, taking random streets when they came to an intersection, not saying a word to each other.
After about ten minutes of solid aimless walking, Aragorn spoke. "You almost killed me back there, by the way," he said.
Cyrus smirked. "I came as close to killing you as I wanted to," he said wryly. Aragorn slapped him across the head.
"Jerk," he accused. "Get over yourself for about three seconds!" he teased.
"Oh, and I'm sure you're one to talk," Cyrus shot back. "With that whole flying back cut crap!"
"But what about you!" Aragorn demanded, smiling widely. "What was that whole spinning, over the head parry of my flying back attack! You could have parried my normally just as easily!"
"And you could have just made a normal attack," Cyrus pointed out, waving a finger at Aragorn.
"Touché," Aragorn remarked, clutching his heart like he had been stabbed. "I'm a little confused though," he said. "That guy called us 'Guardsmen' after our spar. Does that mean we're in?"
"I would know just as much as you," Cyrus said. "I doubt it though. This seems like a real serious affair, this King's Guard stuff."
"So what?" Aragorn asked.
"So don't take anything for granted," Cyrus grinned. There was a brief pause. "Umm, look, Glenn and I are gonna go out drinking tonight," he said. "Why don't you come along?"
"Sounds good to me," Aragorn said. "You do realize though, that we can't talk about what happened today with Glenn?"
"Of course," Cyrus said. "No mention of it at all."
"All right," Aragorn said. Soon they came up to another intersection and Aragorn stopped walking. "I have to go this way," he said. "Just drop by my house tonight and we'll party 'till dawn!"
"You got yourself a deal, Sir Aragorn!" Cyrus said with a mock salute. Aragorn stood at a similar mock attention before they both turned apart with a wave and headed off towards their respective homes.
Aragorn's house was not long away from where he parted with Cyrus. He was home in just a few minutes, finding the house empty. His father was must have still been at his shop. After checking the kitchen window which led to he back yard, he found his mother taking the wash down from the clothes line and placing new, wet clothes over the line.
He smiled and waved to his mother before climbing the stairs to the upper level of the building. His room was off to the left. Going inside, he sat down on his bed and untied his boots which he promptly threw onto the floor in the corner. Laying down on the bed and looking absently at the ceiling, he analyzed his situation. He has been given the opportunity to join a fighting force so elite that he didn't even know it existed before today. He could only think of two words to describe his situation: too cool.
"Our rules before theirs." -The Skulls
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