Chrono Trigger: Twins of Destiny Chapter 7

On the Move

By Mox Jet

Town of Rockhaught


            Teclis tried to sleep, but was plagued by dreams.  The same one, or similar ones, had been happening often enough for it to be considered recurring.  He would see himself in the mirror of some unknown bathroom.  In the reflection, he would be able to see Alaria standing outside of the room.  All he would be allowed to do for what seemed endless would be to look at his own reflection, his eyes locking with those of his image.  It wasn’t until a sound, the same sound as always, a high-pitched whirr began to resonate that anything moved.  Then he could see the mirror before him crack, the rupture starting in the middle of his image’s forehead, and spread out from there.


            No one would ever speak in this dream.  He remembered trying to open his mouth numerous times, but nothing came out.  Or, maybe his voice was being drowned out by the whirring, but he knew that he could not hear himself talk.  Alaria always looked ghostly in these dreams, much paler than she actually was, and her eyebrows would be blue, instead of their normal color of dark brown.  His own image was in black and white, though, save for his earring, which was still its normal color of red.


            He guessed her coloring to be a result of a taint in her bloodline, preventing all of her hair from being blue.  She didn’t know much about her past, so she could never tell him.  They had both met when they were very young children in an orphanage.  They spent their young lives there, Teclis being thrown out at the age of 14 when the Purge of all magic users came to its height and the orphanage owner did not want to be connected with one.


            Neither of them knew where they came from, though their coloring and bone structure would signify that they were Ithilmarian in birth.  Teclis’s hair was another story, however, as blue hair was an anomaly, if not unique, among men, even in Ithilmar.  The country of birth was normally the only answer that they could provide when asked about their pasts.  Neither of them knew their parents, or how they ended up on the main land.  That may have been the reason they became friends.


            Consolation in the confusion and misery of others is a common human trait.  Neither of them felt quite so alone in a world that didn’t seem to accept them when they were with the other.  It was the simple fact that there was someone else who they meshed with and could fit in with. 


            Even to this day, though, he was cold to her sometimes.  He didn’t really know why.  He felt it must be his personality, though that didn’t seem an acceptable example.  It wasn’t as though he treated her differently than anyone else, though.  He treated her like he treated everyone: cold and detached.  It was part of him.


            The magic use might have had some say in that.  The Black Wind had started to manifest itself around him by the time he was 10 years of age.  People would have inexplicable accidents as he walked past, and no one could explain it.  The Black Wind was the mark of a person gifted –or cursed- with the ability to synchronize with Shadow magic as their Ether Order.  It was accepted as a bad omen amongst most, especially in a land where magic use was shunned and reserved for a specific few.  When the war with Lyons escalated, magic was looked on as a scourge of the enemy, and there was a great quest to rid Denegrad of those who could use it.


            Teclis managed to escape the Purge by hiding with a Magic Guild, an extension of the Codicium, the Order of Mages, in Denegrad.  These few were allowed to practice magic, and so he was saved from the concentration camps.  Even in the Codicium, though, he was an outsider.  Shadow Magic wasn’t too rare among the Mages there, but Black Magic was a different story.


            Able to cast a Dragon Slave by the time he was 12, he was even ostracized amongst the Order of Mages.  Power like his hadn’t been seen in centuries, if ever, and it made even the eldest of the Mages worried.  Still, he spent the next three or so years of his life in the Guild, honing his skills, until he finally left.  It was by sheer chance that he actually met up with Alaria again, having not seen her in the three years that he had left the orphanage.  At this point, she had already been working as a Freelancer, and, needing money and food, he began to work with her.


            Being a Freelancer didn’t pay much, and so they reserved some money by staying in relatively cheap lodgings when they could.  What they typically went a little more expensively on was something that Teclis thought was more important anyway: travel.  To this extent, they typically traveled relatively well, reserving upper class compartments on the Denegrad-Monorail-Transport-Network, abbreviated DMTN but nicknamed the Dene-Rail, when they traveled from town to town in search of work. 


            Teclis and Alaria made their way to this Dene-Rail at a reasonable hour the morning after they arrived in Rockhaught.  Teclis had, in a rare occurrence, overslept, and Alaria had gone to buy them tickets for an 11:00 departure, heading to Halt.  She had also gone to replace the swords that hadn’t been returned by mysterious strangers the night before.


            The two of them traveled to the Station at around 10:30, after a hasty breakfast that would simply due to tide them over until they reached Halt and could find some work and get more to eat.  The Station was not exceptionally large, having ports to only three of the single-rail tracks that Dene-Rail trains used.  Over the tracks stretched a large arched red awning, supported by iron framework.


            The trains themselves were long, sleek devices, their surfaces reaching down past the rail where they contacted with the magnets that the rail used to propel the train forward.  With this effective method of propulsion, the Dene-Rail could propel its trains upwards of 200 mile per hours, though people on Celes reckoned their distances in Hikes, which is about two thirds of a mile.


            As Alaria had bought the tickets, she splurged and acquired a First Class cabin; getting Teclis back for the cheap hotel he had picked the night before.  He made as if he was bothered for about two minutes before finally giving in following her aboard the train as she told him about what had happened the night before after he had left the bar.  She managed to finish the story by the time they entered what would be their cabin for the ride.


            A First Class cabin was nice, especially for only two people.  It was roomy, the seats were fine leather, and the floors were finished with dark mahogany wood.  Rather than the seats that some of the lower class cabin had, First Class had long, deep couches lining the three inner walls.  In the middle, a table could appear at the push of a button from its resigning place below the plush rug that complimented the wood siding on the walls.  Finally, the couches could be converted to a bed for longer journeys. 


            “And they didn’t give a reason for looking for me?” Teclis asked as Alaria finished her story.  She shook her head.  Teclis pondered the turn of events for a moment.  “But if they could identify the Dragon Slave by sight, or maybe by magical remnants, they must know what they’re talking about.”


            “They asked if I was from Ithilmar,” she said.  “And they knew that I was studied in Nisai Ryu, and that it was where my blade came from.  But, even considering that he knew enough about the blade to prove he’s familiar with the Nisai Ryu, that doesn’t mean he’s connected with it or Ithilmar.  Their names were very ethnic, Deep Desert names.  And, their builds were those of pure Denegradian.”


            “Or they want you to think that,” Teclis said bitterly.  “If they match the description of a Denegrad Soldier, or even an En’Kai, they could have taken up those names to throw you off.  What was the symbol on their hands, again?”


            “A five point start with wings,” Alaria said.  Teclis closed his eyes.


            “I’m pretty sure that the En’Kai marking is that of a large winged bird carrying a lightning bold in its left talon and arrows in its right.  I don’t know what would have a five pointed star with wings, though.”


            “I’d rule out that they’re connected to Nisai Ryu in any true way, as well,” Alaria said.


            “Why’s that?”


            “Nisai Ryu is entirely made of females, aside from the a few of the very oldest elders amongst the organization.  That, and every one of them have blue hair, a marking of strong Ithilmarian blood.  They don’t accept people that don’t have blue hair.  It has something to do with the Ithilmarian ability to process Lifestream energy.  Unless the combatant is pure, or mostly pure, they can’t do it.  Either way, there must be a different reason that they know about the Nisai Ryu.”


            “Aren’t you close to being pure?” Teclis said.  “You’d know after spending time with others in your Monastery, correct?”


            “It’s not like there are many people ever training in a Monastery at one time, but most of the girls there had slightly diluted blood like mine.  There were maybe one or two pure Ithilmarians there.  You can see the difference in some of my features.  My eyebrows are dark, for example.  My skin is similarly slightly darker.  Most Pure Ithilmarians are very pale, but you can see I have more of a tan.  That, and my chest is too big to be Ithilmarian,” she added bluntly.


            “Huh?” Teclis said, blinking.  “What does that have to do with anything?”  Alaria laughed.


            “Ithilmarian girls tend to be relatively flat-chested,” she said, still laughing.  “That was what they teased me about at the Monastery more than anything else, that I had bigger breasts than everyone else there.”


            “Well, they’re not really huge,” Teclis admitted, turning slightly red.


            Alaria grinned.  “They’re big enough,” she said.  “Though they’re reasonable enough to deal with.”  Both of them looked at each other awkwardly and then broke out into laughter, Alaria very loudly, Teclis more contained.


            “They told me that probably either one grandparent or great-grandparent of mine was from Denegrad,” Alaria continued.  “But their genes didn’t take hold besides some coloring in physical makeup.  I still process Lifestream like an Ithilmarian.”


            Teclis thought for a moment.  “So them being in the Nisai Ryu is ruled out.”


            “Absolutely,” Alaria agreed.


            “The other possibility is that they’re from Lyons.  Granted, they didn’t look like Lyonites, but that doesn’t change the possibility that they might simply be hired.  We can’t let ourselves be bogged down by their names and appearances.  We need to consider who they’re working for.”


            “Maybe someone in Halt will be able to tell us about the symbol on their hands,” Alaria suggested.  “That would be the best lead.”  She brought her sword forward from her side, where she had placed the sheath.  Drawing the sword from its sheath, she examined it as the light flashed off of it.


            “It still bothers me that they knew about the sword…” she said.


            “Three feet long, one inch wide,” Teclis said, reciting the dimensions of the sword.  “A hilt of two inches in width and five eighths of an inch in depth.  The handle is half an inch wide and seven eighths of an inch in depth.  The blade is made with a metal and temper only found amongst the Nisai Ryu Ninjas, and can withstand the heat of a Dragon Slave.”


            “And now we know that last part is tested,” Alaria said, running her finger across the runes engraved near the base of the blade.  “I’m somewhat happy it was returned,” she admitted.  “Though I wish it wasn’t in such mockery.”


            “He basically told you he knew you were lying,” Teclis said.  Alaria nodded.  “How much did the new blades cost?”


            “300 Gil,” Alaria said.  “Though they weren’t exactly up to the quality that I had hoped.”


            “What’s wrong with them?  It’s not like you to buy less-than-par equipment.”


            “They’re just a bit heavy,” she admitted.  “Consider how many I typically wear.  What we call ‘standard’ equipment consists of our normal blade, which our new friends were familiar with, two shorter swords, at least four knives, and then a few optional items.”


            “Such as?”


            “I use my razor wire with the handle on one end and the weight on the other.  Also, there’s the retractable claws and the dual blade.  You know, the one that looks like knives fastened together at their bases?”


            “Yeah.  I’ve seen it,” he said absently.


            “Of course, the shorter swords fasten together similarly,” she added.  “But throw over that black cloak on top of everything?  It gets not only kind of hot, but the weapons weigh you down after awhile.”


            “Then why do you carry so many of them?”


            “Haven’t you been listening?” she asked.  “Normally, they’re lighter than this.  The short swords and knives I had to replace aren’t the same material that I’m used to.  They’re much heavier.”


            “You complain to much,” he said.


            “Well, not all of us can just hurl lightning when we want to kill things.  Some of us need to be more adaptable.”


            “Maybe you just shouldn’t dispose of them so quickly, then,” Teclis said.  Alaria grumbled.


            “Never mind,” she finally said, crossing her arms.  Teclis shrugged, picking up a newspaper, crossing his les, and opening it up.  Courtesy of Dene-Rail, most classes of passengers were provided with the newspapers of the towns they were coming from and the towns they were going to.  Teclis had opened up a Halt newspaper, looking in a section that had only been added a few months ago: Mercenary Jobs.


            Teclis scanned the page, looking for the jobs that were naturally the most appealing: those which paid the highest.  Of course, some of them required more than two people in order to complete, and he normally hated contracting outside help.  The best jobs were the ones that he and Alaria alone could handle.  Granted, considering their individual training and combat backgrounds, there was a lot of flexibility in that prerequisite.


            “So what now?” Alaria asked impatiently.


            “I’m thinking,” Teclis said.


            “But does anything look good?”


            “I’m thinking,” he said again, slightly aggravated.  Alaria became silent while Teclis perused the paper.  After nearly five minutes, he finally lifted an eyebrow.


            “This looks good,” he said, pointing to a blurb on the far right side.


            “Teclis…” Alaria said.  “This…this is contract killing…”






            “We kill people anyway,” he said.  “It’s nothing new.  You killed more people yesterday than I did.”


            “It’s just…well…”


            “Something more morally reprehensible with being sent solely to kill someone?”


            “It’s not that, Tec-”


            “Don’t be a hypocrite, Alaria,” he said.  “It’s just the same as if we’re hired to subdue bandits or recover jewels.”


            “But I never looked at us as assassins before.”


            “Do you have a problem with it?  It pays 2500 Gil.”  Alaria thought about it for a moment.  In truth, it wasn’t different from what they were doing.  She was  Nisai Ryu Ninja.  Killing had never been a problem.  In fact, after time, it became almost a good way to relieve stress.  It just seemed something about being hired for the sole purpose of killing someone.  Maybe that’s all that was bothering her.  It did pay good after all, and in the long run, that was enough.


            “No,” she finally said.  “It sounds good.  And we could use the money right?”  Teclis nodded.


            “It was put in the paper today,” he added.  “Hopefully it hasn’t been taken already.  There are a lot of mercs without the combat training who might want to take it because it looks like it’s only one kill and good pay.  I’d bet my ass there will be underlings to off, too.”


            “Not a problem,” Alaria said, cracking her knuckles.  “We’ll deal.”


            “And no requiring money to buy new blades, this time,” Teclis said.  Alaria frowned, but didn’t say anything.  Teclis buried his head in the newspaper, flipping through for an interesting story.


            Not able to think of anything else to do, and with Teclis being less than interesting conversation, Alaria curled up and closed her eyes.  Maybe now she could get back some of the sleep she had lost the night before.




Town of Halt, Dene-Rail Station


            The first place to go when you’re working as a merc and you’re in a new town is a building that had sparked up in most places at this point.  For something that hadn’t existed more than a few months ago, the Freelance Enforcement Employment Office, or FEEO, was a common enough sight in towns.  It was also where Teclis and Alaria were headed as they climbed off of the Dene-Rail into the town of Halt.


            Halt was much more a ‘typical’ Denegrad town, unlike Rockhaught.  It was more inland, and therefore much more arid, located just inside the boundaries of what was geologically considered the North Desert.  It was a town enclosed in walls, all too common nowadays, with buildings made of clay in order to keep the heat down.  As this region wasn’t terribly hot, there were a few buildings made of wood, but nothing more modern or advanced than that.


            The streets were dusty, having only been trampled down and not paved.  Halt was a smaller town, its Dene-Rail station only seeing the passing-through of one track.  As such, it was surprising that there was a job that paid 2500.  This only lead the would-be employees to assume that it was not a job contracted by the town, but a private contract.  No towns this size and in this war had 2500 to pay for an assassination.


            Inside of the FEEO, the waiting room was feebly cooled by a set of fans on the ceiling.  The room was divided into two parts.  The first was the waiting/reception area where people waited for their turn to register work.  The second was behind a half wall, half glass plate, divider.  This was the room where all the jobs were recorded.  On the back of this area was a set of computerized displays marking the available jobs by identification number.  People bustled around behind the ‘wall,’ handling the workings of the office.    The waiting room currently served two other persons, who sat on one of the few, uninteresting couches that lined the dimly lit room, reading material likely procured from their recent job acquisition.


            “You’re up, Tec,” Alaria said, motioning to the rear wall behind which the receptionists and recorders were stationed.  Teclis didn’t say anything, simply walking up to the nearest station that was open and checking the identification number for the job marked as “Assn: Guardo, Jumpo; 2500/details pending.”  It was marked with the number 54029583.


            “Number 54029583,” Teclis said to the woman behind the glass plate.  “Register job for two.”


            “Pay is 2500,” the woman said.  “All of the Major 3 acceptable for Proof of Death.”


            “Conditions?” Teclis asked.


            “Time limit is three days,” she said.  “Then the job goes back on the available list.  But, you look like you’ve done this before so you already knew that.”  Teclis nodded.


            “Is there a Personal Dossier on the Target or the Cause?” Teclis asked.  The woman nodded.  She turned around and went to a file cabinet on the far side of the back room.  Thumbing through it for a minute, she pulled out a manila folder, walked back to the station, and handed it to Teclis through a small slot at the base of the glass.


            “Bonus on early completion?” Teclis asked as an afterthought, taking the folder into his cloaks.


            “You wouldn’t be so lucky,” the woman said, hinting at a smile for the first time in the exchange.  Teclis remained stoic.  Curtly nodding, he turned around and walked back over to Alaria, who was sitting on a vacant couch.


            “Come on,” he said curtly.  “Let’s get some food.  I’m hungry.”


            “Sounds good to me,” she agreed, rising up from her couch.  “And we should find a hotel.  Maybe we can go a little bit less stingy on the lodging this time?” she asked Teclis with a wry grin.  He grumbled something under his breath before exiting the building with Alaria in tow.


            The day was already getting hot, the sun rising up towards its zenith.  The only thing that could be worse is if it was humid, but the people of Denegrad, especially those of the desert, didn’t have to put up with humidity that often.  The dryness irritated the dirt roads, however, and it was impossible to walk without kicking up a storm of dust.  Alaria and Teclis both resorted to covering their mouths with part of their cloaks.


            They rented a room in a hotel not a few blocks from FEEO, one of the more modern buildings in town, which would cost them 150 Gil for the night.  Not exactly cheap, but Alaria had pointed out that maybe they owed it to themselves.


            Across the street from their hotel was a small restaurant type establishment, in staple form of adobe walls and insulated windows and doors.  Teclis figured this as good a place as any to grab a bite to eat before going after their target, so they made their way there after reserving their room at the hotel. 


            Finding themselves seated at a small square table along the eastern wall, Teclis removed the folder on their Target and the situation from his cloaks.  Opening it up, he took out the papers outlining what was the cause for the hit being placed on this man, and how they would go about finding him.


            “It says he’s been inhibiting the shipment of water to some of the southern towns,” Teclis said.  “He runs a small time crime organization that has made their money recently on hijacking water trade shipments from Halt and other Northern towns.  He’s been holding the trade routes for a ransom, though it doesn’t say how much.”


            “Of course they don’t,” she quipped.  “If they did, they’d have to pay us somewhere in that range to get rid of him.  This way, they get off charging whatever they want.”


            “Still, this is a private contract,” Teclis said.  “Though it doesn’t say who the contractor is…”


            “Interesting, but not exactly important to us getting our money.  You of all people should know that, Tec,” she said. 


            “That still doesn’t change the fact that it’s odd,” he said.  He took a deep breath.  “It says that his headquarters is suspected to be in some ruins located a few miles out into the desert south of this town.”


            “You don’t suppose that we should run reconnaissance first, do you?” Alaria asked.  Teclis looked at her with a raised eyebrow.  “…I guess not,” she concluded.


            “We’ll set out as soon as possible,” he said.  “We need some energy, then we go.”


            “Today, then?” Alaria said.


            “We need to pay for that hotel,” Teclis said.  “But we should order now so we can get moving.”


            As Teclis waved a waiter over to his table, neither of them noticed the entrance of five men in full battle gear enter the building.  All of them had dark, short hair, and a pair of black sunglasses.  Not even sporting cloaks to conceal the weapons and silver body armour they wore, they clamored into the building, looking for something, or someone.  When metal finally clanged against other metal as their body armour creaked, Alaria’s ears finally perked up.


            “Tec,” she whispered, nudging her head towards the new comers.  Teclis glanced over towards their direction.


            “Friends of yours?” he whispered sarcastically.


            “They look like bounty hunters,” she whispered.


            “They don’t happen to be the same guys from Rockhaught, do they?”


            “No, but I’m getting awfully tired of shady characters walking into bars that I’m in.  All they need to do now to really piss me off is come over here looking for information.”


            On cue, one of the men caught sight of the blue haired duo and called over to them.


            “Teclis Spelman?” one of the men called, lifting up his sunglasses.  Teclis slowly glared towards the man, not rising from his seat.


            “Who thinks their worthy enough to speak that name?” Teclis asked sneeringly.  The man ignored the comment.


            “You are hereby under arrest, as ordered by the Republic of Denegrad,” the man said.  “Surrender yourself quietly and no battle is necessary.”  The people in the restaurant now were moving towards the walls and away from the seemingly impending rumble.  Some inched towards the doors, others hid behind tables.


            “Why do they always say stupid shit like that?!” Alaria said, jumping out of her seat and drawing her blade from the sheath on her back with a *shwing*.  “I’m sick of that ‘surrender quietly’ routine!” 


            “We have no business with you,” another man said to Alaria.


            “Yeah, right,” she said cockily.  “Get it straight, buddy.  You mess with Tec, you mess with me, too.”  There was some quiet tension for a moment.


            “Teclis, come with us, now,” the man said.  Teclis finally rose.


            “You’re dirtying my name,” he said bitterly, gathering Winds to his hand.  “I’m going to have to clean your mouth out now…or, while I’m at it, I can clean out the rest of your insides as well...”  He lowered his head and squinted his eyes.


            “You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” the man said.


            “No,” Alaria said.  “I think you’re confused.  I don’t believe you know who you’re dealing with.  I think you should surrender if you want to avoid fighting…and bloodshed.”


            “Then…” the man said, reaching to his side and drawing a long blade.  “There is no choice.”


            “There never is…” Teclis muttered bitterly.  “Now…en guard!!”




“It would have been too easy if both instances in the bars were tied together.  No, that would have been convenient.  Life has a tendency to deal cards in a slightly less convenient way.  To this extent, the first time Alaria met Grev would be overshadowed by the Bounty Hunters’ attack.  Threat assessment is interesting in this regard.  Teclis and Alaria saw the Bounty Hunter problem as more of a threat because they had already attempted damage.  Grev and the others, conversely, were extremely peaceable in their approach.  Where the suspicions should lie, then, became the question of the day.” –Tristan Tenser, from “The Final Analysis of the Celes Incident.”


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