Chrono Trigger: Twins of Destiny Chapter 6
Two of a Kind
By Mox Jet
On the other side of the globe
With the escalation of the war, Denegrad was feeling the pain the most. While many residents of Lyons looked at the war as something that was too far away to worry about immediately, the people of Denegrad were constantly feeling the impact. This was mostly because the fronts of the war were on Denegrad soil at this point. After M-1 had begun to assist the Nation of Lyons in their war effort, the Denegrad forces had been pushed back to their own soil. It was now the Denegrad cities that were under siege.
Denegrad, unlike the fertile land in Lyons, is a desert country. It is a land where water is a commodity and rationed by the government. It is also a capitalistic enterprise to sell water to the masses. However, the desert lends it self to other uses. People in Denegrad grow up mostly in naturally harsh conditions. Survival of the fittest is the rule of the desert. To this extent, though, citizens of Denegrad are typically stronger and better situated to combat than those of Lyons. Furthermore, they learn the art of war from a young age.
The Denegrad military is well equipped and well trained, more so than that of Lyons. Because of this, Denegrad was able to control the path of the war until the intervention of M-1. The superior forces of M-1 began to out match most of the Denegrad military, marking the turning point of the war and the beginning of the Lyons campaign that brought the front passed disputed territory and into the Denegrad homeland. To this day, only the elite Denegrad forces of the EnKai can combat against the pressures of M-1. Unfortunately, though, even they are beginning to suffer losses.
All forms of military forces had thusly been diverted to the war effort. Law enforcement agencies were stripped to the bare minimum and their manpower and equipment shipped off to the front. Guns became more and more and were the symbol of only the rich. There was, at this point, very little to stop the people of Denegrad from seizing control of their own government in this turbulent time. The only thing preventing this was that people had been generally happy with their governing body. While this had changed slightly when they started to lose, the Democratic approach to rule that Denegrad used was supported by the people.
Not everyone felt this way, of course. And, with fewer men to enforce the law, there are some who look on this as a time to take advantage. Rising crime rates through the country reflected this trait. In response to this, though, there grew a new profession in the State of Denegrad: that of the vigilante, the freelance law enforcer who takes justice into his own hands. Services of the able are in high demand, but they go for a high price as well.
Alaria was a believer in the Apostle of Griever Church. She, like the millions of other followers of Griever around the world, believed in three fundamental things. First, they believed that God had harvested the fruits of Man on Celes, helping them to evolve into his own image. Second, that God had seen what evils Man was committing on Celes, and 5000 years ago he sent his own child, Adrekel, to bring man to Salvation. Third, that God would come again, his arrival marking the End of the World as we know it and the admittance of all of the Apostles of Griever into Eternal Salvation in the afterlife.
This belief stretched farther and more densely across the globe than any other organized religion. The reason why it was spread so far was a mystery. Most of the records from the years when it had spread were lost to later civilizations and are now the sought after treasures of scientists around the world. However, because the faith was so widespread, it typically has an impact on things of all nature on Celes. Even more popular in Lyons than Denegrad, the Griever Sect there nearly makes religion and government synonymous
Alaria was also one of those who now worked for hire in order to keep peace in the land. Her job, which she took very seriously, was not only her way of putting food on the table and keeping a roof over her head, but it was a way of life. She had been fighting for nearly three months now. It had been going on like this ever since her sixteenth birthday and her leaving the Nisai Ryu monastery where she had spent the three earlier years of her life.
Currently, she was in the middle of a clearing, located somewhere in towards the center of a large forest on the northern coastline of the Denegrad Continent. Granted, the northern coast was one of the only places where you could still find a forest in Denegrad, but regardless, it was a forest, most nondescript in other characteristics. She was glancing around cautiously, but not yet nervously. There wasnt anything frightening there yet, but there would be in a few moments.
She looked a few yards over and saw what she could really only consider her partner, for lack of a better word. Maybe a collaborator in business enterprise would have worked, as partner didnt sound quite right. He was, like her, also checking his surroundings in a cautious manner.
Theyll be here soon, Teclis, she said. Then we should be able to double back on them and catch them in this clearing.
Keep your voice down, the man called Teclis shot. He perked up, standing up to his full height, a generous five feet, ten some odd inches. His arms didnt seem like warriors arms. They were stringy, the image of tendons and cords showing more predominately than muscle bulk. They looked as they had been working hard all of their life, never able to grow in size. Their appearance was therefore condemned to be sinewy. His legs, though they could not be seen underneath his deep purple pants, looked similarly to his arms. They were not weak legs, just not powerful legs. His whole body was full of ripcord. Everything seemed like it was wound so tight, it about to explode.
He slowly ran a hand through his short, thin and spiky hair. His hair, a dark shade of blue, was his more noticeable feature. Unlike his arms, which were uninteresting, his hair attracted attention. It made him unique. It also made him a perfect match for Alaria, as their similar hair colors gave them something which employers could remember them by. Her hair, slightly lighter and much longer than his, was also a deep shade of blue, tied in a pony tail; blue hair was a sign of magic birth as superstition in Denegrad went. They were, in all likelihood, the two of the only people with blue hair in all of Denegrad. People didnt forget being attacked by two blue haired warriors, nor did people looking to hire them forget their reputation.
We should move towards the trees, Alaria said. Get the drop on the with an attack from above.
Lets do it quickly then, Teclis shot. We dont know how many there are. He made a quick hand signal and the two sprinted off into opposite directions, running back into the forest and into the canopies of the trees.
Within a few moments after, the clearing became filled by about twenty or so men in black clothing, obviously the ones after Alaria and Teclis. The looked to be mostly armed with swords of various lengths, a few also armed with guns. As they filed into the area, looking around them for signs of their prey, one dressed in red, appearing to be the leader, called out to them.
We have this forest surrounded. Give us back what you stole and well let you live!
Now, Alaria didnt appreciate these semantics. By saying that they had stolen anything would imply that they were thieves. How ironic it was to be called a thief by the thief. Sure, some of the gems and other such goodies which they found amongst the gang would placed in her own coffers, but the majority would be returned! The nerve of this guy, calling her a thief for just trying to do good business. Teclis obviously did not enjoy the remark either, as a bolt of lightening streaked out of the trees where he had headed, striking the man in red dead on contact.
Teclis could use magic. It made him pretty unique. In fact, it made him just about a walking business card. He didnt know why he was able to use it, nor did he know why others couldnt. All and all, his ability to manipulate Ether and Order and all sorts of other energy sources had caused him more grief then joy in his life. Naturally, with this unique trait, he was always singled out no matter how hard he tried to blend in. Again, the blue hair didnt help, either, but magic was something different. People didnt fear blue hair. People feared magic.
Alaria took this opportunity to strike as well. Leaping out of the trees, she catapulted herself into the air, coming down like a black cloud that blocked out the sun as the gang members looked up to see their assailant. As she came down, she drew a three foot blade from her black cloaks and embedded into the head of the closest enemy. Pulling it out of his head with the slurping sound of destroyed brain matter, she swung it upward, parrying the downward thrusts of the weapons of two of her attackers.
Tec, nail the gunners! she screamed to her partner, who quickly floated out of the trees into the air, surrounded in red energy.
Flare Arrow! he yelled, and three crimson streaks of fire sparked from his hands towards one of the men wielding a rifle. The fires singed his body and he fell to the ground with a clunk. Teclis quickly moved down towards the fight, launching another Flare Arrow as he went.
Alaria went back to her own work, sweeping her blade under those of her two assailants, gutting them easily. Continuing to swing towards the right, she brought her blade into her left hand and parried another oncoming attack. Before her newly parried opponent knew what happened, she had drawn a dagger from a sheath on her shoulder with her right hand and embedded it into his sternum. Leaving the dagger and jumping over him and towards the outside of the fray, three small black bladed objects shot forward from her hands, catching another thug in the head.
She landed, now with her back to the trees and her front towards the fifteen or so remaining thieves. However, the number was cut down to thirteen with the exuberant shout of, Burst Rondo! from above and bright balls of explosive fire energy colliding with the ground towards the back of the enemy group.
Alaria charged into the battle again. Drawing her left hand back and throwing her sword at the nearest man, she hit him in the chest with it, embedding it further in as she leapt at him with a flying kick. Knocking the two men behind him over as well, she turned to the left and drew two more short swords from their hip sheaths. One sword snapped left, knocking aside a block, the second stabbed forward tearing through the nearest abdomen. Then the first sword came down again, blocking an incoming attack as she pulled the second sword out of her victim. Ducking the next swipe, she wound up both blades and swung them like scissors across the closest neck, decapitating her next victim effortlessly. Quickly sensing two more foes from behind, she spun the blades around and stabbed them backwards, underneath her armpits, catching two more enemies in the chests and leaving the blades there.
Ari, theres more coming! Teclis shouted from above as he fried another victim with a Mono Volt. Were going to be in trouble if- he stopped mid sentence, gathering energies for another spell. Ice Lance! he shouted, forming a spear of ice in front of him and letting it ram towards one of the thieves, catching him in the neck and tearing through most of the vital arteries and nerves. -if we dont finish up fast, he then said, finishing his first sentence.
Im working on it, Tec, she said, reaching behind her back and drawing two knives. One in each hand, she lunged the nearest gangster and sliced upwards, splitting him from navel to nipple. She then flipped over him and slit his neck as she landed on the ground behind him.
Theyll be here soon. I can see their torches! Teclis called.
Then do something about it! Alaria screamed, taking her left hand knife and inserting it into a kidney as she leftward-sidestepped another attack. Her right hand knife then quickly jumped from her hand as she threw it into the forehead of someone coming from her left. She almost fell backwards in this awkward motion, but recovered into a cartwheel-round-off combination. Then, leaping into the air again, she almost seemed to hover parallel to the ground, splitting her legs and catching each of two new enemies in the temples, sending them to the floor. She quickly went into a horizontal spiral as she came out of the air, landed in a push-up position, and then launched herself backwards in a flying mule kick. With perfect aim, she caught another man beneath his nose, smashing it upward and sending bone shards into his brain, killing him almost instantly. Backflipping into a ready position again, she drew another weapon from a boot sheath: a long string of razor wire with a weight on the end.
Swinging it around in circles, she used the ingenious device to parry oncoming blades away and dice into her foes as well. In fact, the wire was so efficient that if the blade being parried hit the wire close enough to a right angle, the blade was often split cleanly, making it useless. Alarias dazzling acrobatics with the wire made it hard to follow her movements with simple guessing. It was almost like a dance now, Alaria relying on sense to find where there was an oncoming sword and to bring the wire up to knock it out of the way.
Finally, she flipped backwards into the air, shortened the wire to about one foot in length, grabbed it at both ends, and latched it around another mans neck as she landed behind him. Pulling sharply, it tore his neck in half easily, letting his body topple to the floor separate from his head.
Teclis, meanwhile, took it upon himself to dealing with the newly oncoming enemies. Using a Flame Wall spell, he tried to seal off the clearing with a coruscation of fire, but it didnt appear to be working as the oncoming thieves jumped through the fire without recognition of it being there. The only thing left to do was to settle each dispute with an individual spell, and he began to use his Flare Arrow to dispatch the individuals heading towards the melee that Alaria was ruling over.
He was hovering just about at the center of the field at this point, but for some reason, he wasnt attracting much attention. Even the gunners, who could have been shooting at him, seemed to be more intent on getting at Alaria. This pissed him off to no extent, and he made sure that they knew this by using Diem Wind to push the occasional thief back into the flame wall that now surrounded the clearing. Holding them there with Stop, he let them burn on their own, out of the reach of his concern.
He couldnt see if Alaria looked to be taking care of herself well. Teclis did, however, take care of the back of the mob, now using a concentrated Ice Beam that would hopefully disable as many as possible. He eventually even stopped hovering and began to cast spells from the ground, trying to distract some attention from Alaria.
She was beginning to need it, too. Their numbers, bolstered by the stream that was still coming through the Fire Wall, were beginning to wear down on her. She slashed outward faster than they could react, and her newest weapon, a double ended blade, was doing its job, but the circle was getting tighter and tighter around her, pushing her farther into towards the wall of fire.
Frantically, she decided to reposition herself, trying to vault out of the crowd and join up with Teclis behind them. As she leapt from the ground however, she quickly found that someone had grabbed her leg and was pulling her back down.
Shit, Teclis spat, seeing her struggle to escape. Flying a few feet above and incinerating the few baddies around him, he also saw her get pulled back in, her form disappearing amongst the crowd. Quickly, her scream filled the air and Teclis cursed again.
Always need me to save you he muttered, flying up to the air above them, sweeping the Winds into his hands as rapidly as possible. There wasnt much time before she could be beaten to death, and he needed to clear out as much as he could. As an electrically cackling sphere formed in his now outstretched hands, he closed his eyes and focused his energy.
Giga Volt! he shouted at the top of his lungs as a dozen streams of lightning shot out of the ball toward the area where Alaria had been pulled down. Teclis lowered himself closer to the conflagration as he continued to pour energy into the spell. He still fired the spell until enough figures had fallen so that Alarias downed body was in view. Lowering himself into the clearing amongst the thieves, he loosed Wind magic on the foes, holding them back from bothering him as he picked up her body off of the ground before she knew what had happened. He quickly flew up above the fight again and saw that they were now readying their guns on him.
Alaria was still conscious, though bleeding in multiple places. Thanks she said softly.
Youre too aggressive, Teclis scolded, not looking at her. You need to learn to control yourself.
I know Alaria said with a sigh. Im not good enough yet. Teclis didnt say anything, looking down at the now firing enemies as he erected a Balus Wall.
Okay, shits, Teclis said. If you think you can do that and get away with it youre wrong he spat, shifting his grip on Alaria to hold her in his right arm. Hovering higher above the battle field, he started to gather more energy. Monotonously at first, he began to chant.
Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows. Buried in the stream of time, is where your power glows
Tec, you dont need to, Alaria said weakly, but he was not to be dissuaded. He continued to gather energy, a red ball of power beginning to form in his left hand which he pointed towards the clearing below him.
I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand before the might gift bestowed in my unworthy hand... The energy in his hand doubled in size and wind began spiraling around him and Alaria closed her eyes to protect them from the flash that would ensue.
May the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess! Teclis screamed, continuing to rise into the air, his eyes red with anger. Then, for a moment, time almost froze and the thieves became standing corpses in a sense. Their fate was sealed in that instant, and Teclis knew it. Their images seemed locked in icy for that split second where he could have fired the spell somewhere else, but there would be no mercy. Time then quickly sped up to normal speed and Tecliss voice was heard from miles around.
Dragon Slave!! he screamed, releasing the energy built up in his hand. Exploding outward into a spiral and then reforming a few feet later, the beam of Ethereal energy streaked downward towards the ground, impacting with a devastating explosion. The heat around the blast had probably incinerated the thieves the instant the spell hit, so they had more than likely felt no pain. Whatever was there would not be recognizable, and the signature crater formed by the spell would remain there for years to come. Even the traces of the Dark Ethereal energy used would remain for a few days. Any decent mage could detect when a Dragon Slave had been used if he saw the site. Teclis wasnt worried about keeping hidden.
After staying silent for awhile, Alaria finally spoke. You blew up all my blades, Teclis, she said as they flew away. I never had a chance to collect them from the bodies.
You can buy more when we get back to town. Well collect our money by sundown, Teclis said, getting his bearings as to where the nearest town was. ..And well get you some medical treatment he added, almost as an afterthought. Alaria sighed again. It was nearly 5:00.
In the nearby town of Rockhaught
The two blue haired warriors sat in a bar in the downtown section of Rockhaught, the town that they had been commissioned to get rid of those thieves by. Unlike most of the towns in Denegrad that had high adobe clay walls and buildings in order to keep the temperature down, Rockhaught was a rare town that was close to water. It was one of the smaller ports on the northern coast, but the whistles of ships could still often be heard exiting and entering the harbor.
The military had limited activity in the port over the last few weeks, so import of goods had dropped. That was coupled with the bandit raids from the gang that had been hiding out in the forest. Alaria and Teclis had been hired earlier that day to clean out the bandits and recover a few specific items stolen from some upper class members of the town. They had been given a week to do the job, but that would be too long to go for them. As Teclis had said, they would have collected their money before sundown. It was now around 9:00, the sun fully down and the duo fully paid.
You know, we dont have to rush out of here so soon, Alaria said, still holding a pack of ice to her head to reduce the swelling. In all of Tecliss magic, he had never been much of a healer, and so the local doctor had to suffice. She hadnt needed many stitches, but the doctor was afraid that she might have a concussion.
We cant wait around that long, Teclis said, taking a sip the tea that was in front of him. Money doesnt last forever. We need to eat, you know? That means we have to work.
Tec, this last job was a haul. Well be fine for awhile. Maybe we dont have to get traveling again. Plus, I still need to buy new weapons.
You can do it tomorrow morning, he said curtly. We shouldnt dally here.
Its a nice town, she said. It wouldnt hurt to take a break.
It wouldnt hurt our bodies, but it would hurt our purses, he shot back.
So maybe you need to think about your body, Alaria said. You have to be tired. You need to recuperate your energy too, she pleaded. The edges of his mouth curled up ever so slightly, not noticeable unless you were really paying attention.
Its not like were not going to sleep, Ari, he said. Were just not going to wait here long.
So where are we going next? she finally said, still in argument. Wheres the next town?
Halt is a days ride to the south west, about an hour by rail. Itll be nice to be back in the desert again.
No it wont, she said. I like it here. Teclis sighed.
Do I have to go through the whole then dont come with me thing again? I really dont feel like doing that today. Alaria frowned.
If I didnt want to go with you, Id have left awhile ago, she said, somewhat cynically. Its not a matter of that. I think you need to take some more time off.
There is no rest for either the weary or the poor, Alaria, Teclis said. And without money, you dont eat. You dont eat, you dont live. Its that simple. Alaria pounded the table in concession, jumping slightly as her hand was still sore, too.
Fine, she finally muttered. We go tomorrow to Halt. What time does the Dene-Rail come in?
Ill find out before we go to sleep, Teclis said, rising from his chair, stretching and yawning. Or Ill find out tomorrow morning, he said wearily. Im going to sleep now. Were staying in the hotel two doors over.
He is tired, Alaria thought. Why is he so afraid to rest somewhere?
Fine, Alaria said. Ill be there in a few minutes. Im going to finish my drink She looked at Teclis who mustered a simple wave before walking out of the door, throwing his cape behind him.
Hes more uptight than usual today, she thought. Why cant he talk to me? Weve only been friends for our entire lives
She sipped again at her drink, glancing around the smoke filled bar. She didnt know how they chose these places. They could have been relaxing somewhere else, maybe use some of their cash for a fancy hotel for a change. Instead, Teclis was in the shady hotel a few doors down and would be sleeping in minutes, while she was stuck here with half a bottle of liquor left and no one to drink it with. Teclis wasnt much into drinking anyway, and he always beat her in their drinking contests when he did give into her taunts.
Having passed temporarily into daydreaming, Alaria was startled by the entrance of three new figures through the bar door. They were wearing weather beaten cloak with hoods concealing their faces. Their clothes almost entirely covered by the cloaks they wore, Alaria could see in a few places they were wearing mostly gray and green underneath. All three of them were over six feet tall and of broad build. They surveyed the bar for a moment, finally looking at Alaria. She was surprised when they then walked over to her table, looking down at her. Quickly, she stuck the ice pack she had been holding underneath the table.
May we sit? the one in the middle asked. His face was dark and rigid, marked by numerous scars. Alaria, too tired to argue, didnt mind.
Knock yourself out, she said, motioning to the empty chairs.
My name is Grev, the first one said. These two are Ja and Iao, he motioned to his companions.
Deep Desert names, Alaria thought. These guys come from the heart of Denegrad.
Im Alaria, she said blankly.
A pleasure, Grev said, holding out his hand. Alaria slowly reached hers out as well, shaking with Grev. She did similarly with the other two men. Oddly enough, though, when their sleeves slid up as they extended their hands, she noticed the same mark on the backs of each of their right hands: a five point star with wings.
What can I do for you gentlemen, she said, hoping they werent looking for a fight. She didnt feel like she could do much at the moment.
Mind sharing that bottle? Grev said, taking the floor. If its not to much trouble.
Dont see why not, Alaria said, pushing the bottle and glass over to him. Silently, Grev filled the glass up half way with the liquor and took a small sip, closing his eyes for a moment.
We were hoping you could supply us with some information, he finally said, cutting right to the point.
That was quick, she said, fighting instinct to take the bottle back. But what makes you think Id have any info youre looking for.
Can I assume youre from Ithilmar? Grev asked, gesturing to the blue hair that Alaria had only partially been able to conceal beneath her hood. Alaria flinched briefly, almost sneering.
That depends on what the assumption is for, Alaria said, somewhat bitterly.
Youre traveling with a man, are you not? Grev asked. Alaria looked at him suspiciously.
Who wants to know? she asked slowly, now feeling the need to be on guard.
Please, Grev said. Were hardly looking for a fight. Dont be so tense. Alaria looked him in the eye. His silvery gray eyes did not seem to betray lies. Though it might be a trick. He may just be a good liar.
Before I answer any questions, an explanation as to who you are might be in order. Youll have to excuse me for being a bit suspicious of a few guys who walk into a bar asking questions of me.
Were simply gatherers of information, Grev said. Its our job to find things out.
So youre involved in Intelligence, Alaria said, hoping to lead them into betraying their purpose.
In a manner of speaking, Grev shrugged. But arent we all involved in Intelligence. Isnt the meaning of being human that of trying to learn new things? To expand on what we know? To explore? To create? Alaria rolled her eyes.
I dont appreciate the equivocation, she said bluntly. Will one of you gentlemen enlighten me in a more direct route? she asked, motioning to Ja and Iao.
We found your handiwork today in the forest, the one called Iao said, speaking for the first time. We had been monitoring the fight and followed you here. Were mostly looking to speak with the man you were with. The one who uses magic.
Alaria looked at Iao coldly in the eye, then she looked back to Grev. I dont know what youre talking about, she said finally. Weve been in town all day. I was injured a few days ago. Do I look like Im in condition to be wandering in a forest?
Are you- Grev started to say.
Im sure, Alaria said, answering his question. Grev stared at her in silence for a moment.
Okay, young one, Grev said, climbing out of his seat. I understand. The time is not yet right. You may be more willing to cooperate later. Do not fear. We have no intention of being upset. We will withdraw for now. The other two stood up as well. All three of them walked to the door, but Grev halted.
By the way, he said, pausing. They say that only the Blade Masters of the Nisai Ryu can make a blade that can withstand the heat of a Dragon Slave
Alarias heart stopped beating for a moment.
Grev motioned into his cloak and his hand snapped forward again in as fluid a motion as Alaria had ever seen. She was nearly impaled as a three foot blade came rocketing towards her, but once she had sight of what it was, she caught it mid flight by the handle and spun it around rapidly, sheathing it on her back. She didnt even have to check the handle to see that the blade was hers. The way it sounded as it cut through the air was indication enough. She gave him a cold stare, realizing the mockery that he was applying.
See you later, Grev said with a childish smirk as he left the bar, followed by Iao and Ja. The bar door swung closed and Alaria let out a sigh, then realizing that everyone around the bar was looking at them. Shifting her eyes nervously, she picked up her ice pack, put it back on her head and stood up. Awkwardly, the brushed off her clothes and concealed the protruding handle of the sword that was sheathed on her back. Walking out of the bar, she looked for a sign of the three mysterious visitors, but they were no where to be seen.
They knew I was from Nisai Ryu, Alaria thought. And they knew the name of the spell that Teclis used in the forest. On top of that, they managed to recover the blade, only to shove it in my face that they knew I was lying. Who are these guys? He threw that sword with such precision. He didnt want to hit me. He wanted that to go just how it did. Now I know that they know I wouldnt tell them about Tec. What the hell is happening around here? Either way, Teclis will be interested by this
When I met Alaria for the first time, the struck me instantaneously as the kind of person that doesnt take anything from anyone. She looked to fighting as an answer just as much as the rest of them, but there was something oddly different about her in her temperament. It was almost like she was longing for something. -Sarah McKlane
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