Tempo Trigger Chapter 4
The First Loss
As Leopold led them out of the castle, Tempo and Schala would both occasionally slow up to take in the countryside. To Tempo, it didn't appear too horribly different from the Locorn he knew. There were more trees, less houses, and less erosion. To Schala, everything was brand new. It was amazing to see a planetary surface as green as Zeal had been. Where they had emerged from the oddly disappearing mine had been an oddly desolate area, but there was plenty of growth here. Leopold led them to a hillside about half a mile away from the castle. By walking through some tall bushes and pulling back some vines, they found themselves inside of a large underground chamber. In the center, on top of a pillar about four feet high, sat a glowing stone, its color fluctuating by the second.
"Wow. What is this place?" Tempo gasped.
"This is essentially the backup power for the Soul Knights." Leopold began. "Some of us, like Raganorn, for one, are needed too badly to have to worry about using up their powers. This ensures that they don't have to worry. It's basically a storage battery of spirit energy."
"Wow." Tempo said again, somewhat mesmerized by the glowing stone. "Where does the energy come from?"
"Well, occasionally a Soul Knight will come along who doesn't believe in any afterlife. They all know that spirit energy exists of course, but some say that it has no conciousness, no thought. So every once in a while, we get someone who doesn't care if they ever return to the lifestream or not. When they die, their spirit energy is absorbed by this stone. This is where the shards we were using came from."
"You know, that strikes me as just a little bit... ..evil." Schala grimaced.
"Perhaps." Leopold didn't argue. "But we need this power to fight off a greater evil."
"Like us, for example?" Leopold tensed. None of them had spoken. Then, he suddenly whirled around. Barada and twenty other Viashino stood in the entrance, blocking the way out. "Thank you for finally revealing the cave entrance to us, Leopold." The big lizard grinned as he flexed his claws. "You're getting pretty overconfident, coming here in broad daylight."
"I thought you were hanging out farther to the south." Leopold grimaced as he whipped his sais out.
"We hang out wherever we feel like." Barada's grin broadened. "And right now, I feel like telling you we're taking that stone for Lord Moogoo!"
"Over my dead body!" Leopold shouted.
"That's the plan." Barada responded calmly.
"Guard the stone!" Leopold shouted, then charged at Barada. "Let's see how you handle a real Soul Knight!" He stabbed his sais forward, only to have them met by a huge broadsword that Barada drew with surprising speed. They parried back and forth as the other Viashino surged past.
"I think we're in trouble Schala." Tempo gulped.
"You still have that stone, don't you? Use your powers!" She shouted at him.
"What about you?!" He called, although green energy was already beginning to gather around him.
"I'll do my part, don't worry!" Schala drew her new dagger, then charged toward the encroaching mass of lizards. The first one she came across stabbed into her shoulder with its long claws. Paying no attention, she quickly stabbed the dagger into where she thought its heart would be. The lizard toppled over. Apparently, Barada was something above the ordinary Viashino. As the Nooze quickly closed the gash in her shoulder, she hurled herself at another one. She slashed its throat quickly, then turned to face a third just as a huge flail caught her in the gut, sending her flying back into the wall of the chamber. She slowly stood up, and observed Tempo in action.
"Gale Storm!" The tremendous winds filled the room, and most of the lizards went down for the count as the blue beams of energy smashed into them. Then he rushed forward with his mace, smashing into the survivors. Schala caught her breath, realizing at the time that it was a silly action, since she didn't need to breathe, and charged back into the fray also. "Ah-rekka!" Tempo knocked one lizard over and smashed the skull of a second with the fancy move. The three Viashino that remained standing started to back away from them. Suddenly, they were showered with rocks, and five more Viashino burst up from the ground. Now they were surrounded.
"Uh, Tempo? Wasn't this floor solid rock?" Schala asked as she jumped forward.
Tempo laughed as he bashed in another skull. "You ask all these questions like you seriously expect me to have the answers!" He jumped backward, then started to curse. "Oh sh-" His profanity was cut off as a flail nailed him in the back, and another Viashino delivered a jumping kick to his head. The two actions combined to knock him out. Schala saw that seven of the creatures still remained standing. She tried to back up defensively. Two of them ran forward and slashed her good with a move that would have disemboweled her, if most of her internal organs hadn't been burnt to a crisp long ago. The lizards watched in fascination as the Nooze quickly closed the long gash, then Schala lunged forward and gave the nearest one what it had just tried to give her. The rest of them looked at each other, and suddenly vanished down into the rock floor.
Meanwhile, Barada's sword finally succeeded in cutting a large gash in Leopold's armor, mainly because of his weapon's longer reach. "Why don't you use your powers, little man?" He taunted, but was also geniunely curious about Leopold's lack of soul usage.
"I didn't want to waste them on an opponent as unworthy as you!" Leopold shouted. He hurled one of his sais forward, and Barada shoved his sword up to block it. The sai actually went through the blade, shattering it. Barada's eyes widened as it flew right back to Leopold's outstretched hand.
"You're a bit better than I thought." He nodded in slight respect. "But still no match for me! Spearhead Charge!" Barada held the sword straight out, and dashed at Leopold blindingly fast. Only the fact the sword was broken kept it from doing significant damage.
"All right, if you're going to be that way..." Leopold sighed, "Flame On!" He countercharged, driving the sais through Barada's armor, where the flame energy proceeded to roast him fairly well.
"I... I don't believe it!" Barada shouted. "Uh oh." His eyes rolled back into his head, and he fell to the ground.
"You're no challenge to a true knight." Leopold scoffed, dusting off his gauntlets. "Are you two all right?" He called back to Schala.
"Tempo took a pretty good hit, but I think he'll be okay." She called back.
Suddenly, another shadow filled the doorway. It wasn't nearly as large as Barada's bulk, but Schala was surprised to see Leopold back away in fear. "M, Moogoo!" He choked out. She personally didn't see what he was so afraid of. Moogoo was close to six feet tall. He wore a simple, hooded green robe. She couldn't see what he looked like, because his face was covered with black cloth, except for his striking red eyes.
"Soul Knight, I'll be taking that stone now. Thank you for teaching my overconfident little toady a lesson though." Moogoo nodded slightly, then began walking toward the stone. Leopold made no move to fight him.
"Stop him, you doofus!" Schala screamed at him. "I'll try to help as best I can."
"All right." Leopold suddenly regained his ability to move. "I suppose I have no choice. We all have to die sometime..." He ran towards Moogoo, absolutely no confidence in his stride.
'C'mon self! I have to remember some magic.' Schala thought to herself as Leopold neared Moogoo, who seemed to be ingoring both of them.
"We'll never submit to you Moogoo! Your time has come, dark mage!" Leopold jumped into the air, white energy surrounding him. "Diamond Fist!" Leopold brought his fist down with blinding speed, at least, until Moogoo intercepted him with a simple block.
"Without confidence, any assault is useless." Moogoo said scornfully. "Don't attack me again if you want to live to appreciate those words." Moogoo shifted his grasp from Leopold's fist to his wrist, then twisted violently. Not only did Leopold's wrist snap like a twig, but he went flying about forty feet through the air to smash against the cave wall. Moogoo continued on without a word.
"Excuse me! He's not the only one in here, you know!" Schala ran forward to block Moogoo's path.
"A maiden challenges me now?" He looked very surprised. "I admire your courage, but you're throwing your life away."
"Is that a fact?" Schala asked dangerously. "It's time for you to learn something..." 'C'mon self, I can do this!' She concentrated hard. 'Let's start with some basic holy.' Her eyes opened, and a fair sized beam of purple energy shot forward, throwing Moogoo back nearly to the cave entrance. As she had expected, he retaliated. A small dagger flew her from where he was kneeling on the floor, and imbedded itself in her chest. She effortlessly yanked it out. "..You can't kill what's already dead!" 'But that hurt! Why did it hurt?' She stared down at the dagger. There didn't seem to be anything special about it.
Back in the central keep of Locorn Castle, Raganorn's eyes opened suddenly. 'Why can't I get to sleep? I'm tired as hell, so what's with this insomnia? Sheesh.' He turned over, then buried his head under his pillow.
"You're going to regret that. Right now, actually." Moogoo glared at Schala. He teleported himself directly in front of her, but when he reappeared, there was a large broadsword in his hand. He swung down hard, and Schala didn't have time to get away. The sword cut deep into her shoulder, and surprising herself, she screamed in pain.
"How is it that you can hurt me?" She hissed.
"I noticed that there seems to be some Lavoid energy emanating from you." Moogoo explained, twisting the sword back and forth to do maximum damage. Schala sank to her knees. "Luckily, I've had this sword specially prepared to repel Lavoid power."
"You're... ..fighting the Lavoid too?" Schala gasped. "Wait! I want to kill that thing! Maybe we can-"
"Sorry. Not interested." Moogoo shut her up by kicking her in the jaw. "You're an enemy, no matter what." With that, he kicked her hard in the ribs. She flew back through the air, the sword leaving her body as she did so. The Nooze flew through the air like regular blood, as Schala landed next to Leopold's unconcious form. "Now, it's time for you to die, for real."
'Damn it! I am so tired! What's going on here?' Raganorn turned over in bed again. Then, his eyes snapped into focus. "Of course! My mission... I've gotta go!" He jumped out of bed, and at a slight gesture from him, his extensive battle armor instantly drifted over, fastening itself to him. A huge claymore and a long katana attached to his back, and he used a bit of soul power to float out the window. 'Now, where do I need to go? Ah... I see.'
"Don't bet on it!" Tempo was suddenly in the air, his mace smashing into Moogoo's skull. As he landed, he struggled to keep his balance, as he was still dizzy from being knocked out.
"Such insolence." Moogoo quickly nailed Tempo with a backhand punch, sending him back to the ground, acting as if the mace had never hit him at all.
"I'm not through yet!" Tempo struggled back up. "Slam!" Green energy blazed in his fist as he charged forward.
Moogoo easily blocked the move. "You couldn't even try for a Diamond Fist? You're barely worth the time it's going to take to kill you." He picked Tempo up by his wrist, which shouldn't have been overly easy, since Tempo was about the same height as he was.
"Don't bet on it!" Moogoo calmly turned his head to see another Soul Knight at the cave entrance. But Tempo began to feel relief when Moogoo's eyes widened a little with fear.
"Raganorn!" 'Crud! No more time to fool around. I've got to go for the gold.' Moogoo dropped Tempo and made a mad dash toward the stone.
"Oh no you don't!" Raganorn shouted. He quickly drew his katana, then hurled it at the wizard. Moogoo was forced to stop in his tracks and heal himself as the long sword impaled him. He drew it out of himself, and hefted it up. That gave Raganorn plenty of time to get up close and personal with his huge claymore. "You did all right against my young recruits, but let's see how you handle me!"
"I'm not just going to run away." Moogoo grunted as he barely managed to parry Raganorn's mighty thrust.
"I would be disappointed if you did." Raganorn cut another wide swath of destruction for anything his sword might come in contact with. Moogoo jumped back. "You made a big mistake by coming here, wizard! Comet Charge!" Raganorn's form suddenly disappeared inside a blazing comet over nine feet in diameter. It rushed forward through the air, slamming into Moogoo. The wizard went flying, and landed unfortunately close to the stone. "Oh crud." Raganorn's spirits dropped as his body reappeared. He dashed forward, too late.
"Thanks a million Raganorn." Moogoo smiled as he picked the stone up off its podium. He held it over his head, and a blinding flash filled the chamber. As the light faded, dozens of what certainly appeared to be ghosts swirled around the mage, before being absorbed back into the stone. "Now, even your best efforts are too little, too late." The way the cloth shifted over his face gave the indication that he was grinning broadly. "Dark Mist!" Raganorn was thrown backward as the intense Shadow energy smashed into him, then pummeled into the ground.
"I'm not done for yet!" He gasped, jumped back up, then crossed his arms. "Shatterstorm!"
"You wouldn't!" Moogoo gasped. The katana and claymore instantly shattered, and the large stone began to vibrate as well. "I need supreme power!" Moogoo yelled. The stone dimmed, and a red glow ran down his arms. "Meteo!!" Raganorn hit the deck as his skill failed, and dozens of blazing meteors rained down around him. The strange thing was, none of them seemed to harm him. "Impossible!" Moogoo shouted. "No one has immunity to meteor magic!"
"Guess that makes me no one then." Raganorn grinned. "You're going down, Moogoo."
"Don't bet on it." Moogoo concentrated deeply, then his eyes lit up with a malicious glow. "Let's see how good a leader you are with no one to command! Come and get me, if you can!" With that, he teleported away, dragging the stone along with him.
"Now what did he mean by that? And why was he able to teleport with all the shielding this cave has? We may be in trouble..." He stopped talking to himself as the three downed warriors got back up.
"Who was that guy?" Schala demanded.
"A rather evil character who's been plaguing the area lately." Raganorn told her. "Now that he has the stone, we may be in for some serious trouble though." Surveying the rest of the cave, he saw that Barada and the dead Viashino had vanished along with Moogoo. Tempo, who had probably got the lightest beating, all things considered, walked over to the cave entrance while Raganorn helped Leopold up.
His voice drifted back into the cave nervously. "Um... Is it a bad thing that Locorn castle isn't there anymore?"
"Strength without determination means nothing. And determination without strength is equally useless!" - Godo Kisiragi
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