The Trials Of The King Chapter 10
To The Settling Of Everything
"That was a lot worse than I thought it would be." Nadia said dejectedly as she surveyed the destruction. Very few of Zeik's one thousand remaining men had been captured alive. With the Pulsar Cannon out of commission, they had basically been forced to kill everyone they couldn't surround.
"That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do." Crono frowned. "Right now I wish I wasn't the king. These weren't some monsters just out to kill us. These were people, fighting for what they believed in, not bad people either."
"True enough, but what they believed in is impossible." Nadia put a hand on his shoulder.
"The thing is, I believed it was possible. I just fought a pointless battle."
"You saved the kingdom." She still tried to comfort him.
"No, I exterminated another one."
"Well... I've heard that Sira showed up at Zenan Bridge during the battle. Apparently, she was taken hostage by their forces, but managed to escape."
"She showed up DURING the battle? I wonder..."
"What is it?"
"Probably nothing. Let's get back to the castle. Set the soldiers to work digging graves, and thank the mystics for a job done too well."
Late June 20
"Excuse me, Princess Sira." Sira slowly got up from her bed at the sound of someone knocking on the door. There hadn't been any sign of Zeik after the battle, and though that might have reassured her that he was still alive, she was afraid that he was one of the bodies too badly burned by mystic magic to be recognizeable.
She opened the door, and saw a guard standing in the hall, his visor pulled low over his face. "Princess, confirmation has come that all the Matuyama forces have been either imprisoned or killed."
Her eyes began to water. "Yes, thank you. Good night."
"Fortunately, the Matuyama himself survives to fight on!"
"What?!" She whirled around. The guard took off his helmet, revealing Zeik's smiling face. She ran forward to embrace him. "Zeik! Oh my god! I thought you were dead!"
"Shhh!" He guided her back into the room and closed the door. "When I said I would fight to the end, I meant the end of the battle, not the end of my life! I have to survive to fight another day!"
"Wow! I can't believe this! You're the first person I've ever felt this way about, and I was afraid I wouldn't get to tell you."
"Tell me what?" He began to take the guard uniform off, trying hard to keep the metal from clanking.
"I really, really like you, Matuyama Tuvai. Given time, I think I could love you. Don't ask me to explain it, but..."
"Don't worry." He smiled gently at her. "I know, love defies explanation. If this were a logical situation, we would hate each other. I feel the same way about you, but... Well, tonight is probably the last chance you'll get to see me."
"The last time? Why?"
"I can't keep sneaking into the castle every chance I get. I have to find a new hiding place, and slowly rebuild our forces."
"Let me go with you then!"
"I can't. I want to, but your father would send search parties out everywhere, and eventually find us. This is it."
Tears began to come to her eyes again. "I can't believe that it ends like this. I wish there was something I could say, something I could do for you..."
"There's nothing to say, but..." He slowly bent down and kissed her on the lips. "There is something you can do. Only if you're willing, of course."
"If this is my last chance to see you, then anything. I don't want to let you go, not yet anyway."
"Not for a few hours, at least. I'm sorry it has to be like this. Given time..."
"It's funny, isn't it? I'm the daughter of the hero of time, but now, I don't have nearly enough."
"So let's make good use of what we have. I'm sorry it's like this, but I do love you, and you don't know how hard that is to admit."
"No, I really don't." Then, he kissed her again, and they began drifting across the room, riding an emotional high.
All that was noticeable from outside the castle was the shutters suddenly slamming shut. No more, no less.
Early June 21
Crono sighed as he neared the top of the castle. All the graves were finally dug, and the thousands of prisoners were locked in the dungeon, many on suicide watch. At last, everything was done, and he could finally start getting on with his life. 'This certainly is a sorry chapter in Guardian history.' He grumbled to himself. He started to head for his room, but thought for a second. There were quite a few things he wanted to ask Sira, so he headed for her room instead.
"Sira?" He opened her door without knocking, and quickly lit a lantern near the door. "I want to ask you about- What the hell?" Just inside the door, Zeik stood, fastening up his light armor. Zeik whirled around, and they glared at each other. Glancing to the side, Crono saw Sira sleeping peacefully in her bed. "What are you doing here?!" He demanded. Sira began to stir.
"Nothing to do with you. I'm here on personal business." Zeik picked up the Murasama, and headed for the door. "Let me pass."
"No!!!" Crono ran up and punched him in the jaw. Zeik collapsed to the floor.
"What's happening?" Sira sat up in bed. "Oh god, no!"
"How stupid are you?!" Crono demanded of Zeik. "You're the most wanted man alive! Why would you come here at all?!"
"I'm leaving now!"
"You can't leave! Ever! I don't ever want to have to go through something like this again!"
"I don't see how you can avoid it."
"I can avoid it by killing you!" Crono lunged forward and hit him again. "It makes sense, doesn't it? By killing you here, I can save thousands of lives down the line! This ends now!" The Swallow sang as it flew from the scabbard.
"Father no!!" Sira shouted desperately.
But Zeik was too into it now to give up. "Very well, you have given me one last chance at victory! I won't disappoint! Hee-yaaahhh!!!" The Murasama flew from its scabbard also, and the two opponents lunged at each other. Sparks flew as the two swords connected. They kept pushing for a second, but Crono was physically stronger, so Zeik broke off that contest. He quickly ducked low and try to slash Crono's legs. Crono jumped into the air, and quickly brought the Swallow down in a wicked overhead slash. Zeik jumped to the side, slashing wildly as he got back up. One hit connected, but Zeik belatedly noticed Crono was decked out in his silver battle armor, and the hit bounced harmlessly off. Apparently, after their last encounter, Crono had decided that a little extra protection couldn't hurt.
Crono struck downward in a tight arc, and the Murasama nearly flew from Zeik's fingers as he was forced to defend from an odd angle. "Father, please!!" Sira ran forward, placing herself between Zeik and Crono.
Crono regarded her for a second. "You're the one that summoned that thing, aren't you?"
"Yes..." She admitted reluctantly.
"That thing nearly killed your mother! No, this has to end here!!!" He shoved her roughly out of the way and lunged forward again. Zeik was waiting for him this time, and a break appeared in his armor where the Murasama connected especially well. Zeik pressed the advantage, but Crono sidestepped the overzealous blow and struck down hard. Zeik sank to his knees as the blood began to pour from his back. Crono was about to run forward and finish him, but he stopped for a second as he saw the look on Sira's face. 'Oh crud. Something is going on here, and I have no idea what it is.' He stopped for a second. "Matuyama-san, Sei i tai Shogun, you are beaten. If you swear on your ancestors' graves, and by everything else you hold dear, that you will never incite your people to rise up against the kingdom again, I will let you live."
Zeik slowly looked upward, then turned his head to face Sira. "Sira, I'm sorry. We had something special, but..." Now he turned to face Crono again, and jumped back to his feet. "Never!! I will never give in to Guardian tyranny!!! I will wield the Murasama until my hands are cut off, and then I will kick with all my fighting skill until I crush your skull!! This is for the ancestors! Matuyama!!!!" He charged forward in a furious fenzy, striking so many times in a single second that Crono would undoubtedly have been killed had he not been wearing the armor.
But this surge of strength could not hold out forever. Zeik finally stabbed the Murasama through Crono's armor and into his side. He hurriedly tried to yank it out, but it seemed to be stuck fast in the silver. Crono grimaced and punched him in the face again. He was forced to let go of the Murasama. Zeik quickly ran up and made good on his promise to kick with all his might. Crono's head snapped back, but he was nowhere near to having his skull crushed. Zeik yanked on the Murasama again as he landed, and finally managed to yank it free.
Zeik jumped back several paces, then lunged forward again, aiming for Crono's neck. Crono ducked the blow, and both he and Zeik were surprised as the Swallow stabbed all the way through Zeik's stomach. The leader of the Matuyama clan stepped back, drawing his breath in a ragged gasp. He sank to his knees. "This will never... ..be over. Never... ..until we are free of Guardia. One... ..one will always carry on... ..if luck was with me..." Zeik collapsed to the floor, his blood forming a puddle around him. "Sira, you were... ..special. Thank you. But, I go to join... ..Mariko..." With that, his eyes closed, and his breathing stopped.
"It's over." Crono gasped, leaning against the door frame. Sira slowly knelt down by his body, tears silenlty streaming down her face. "Sira, I'm sorry, but it had to end here. This had nothing to do with whatever was going on between you two. I'll send some guards to remove the body." With that, Crono left the room.
Sira slowly leaned over and picked up the Murasama. "No father. This is far from over. This is going to go on for a long, long time."
"No! How many more people have to die?"
"Well, can't keep this pretty girl crying!" - Rydia and Edge
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