The Trials Of The King Chapter 3
Guardia Castle Assault
Late June 3, Early June 4, 1018 A.D.
"Grappling hooks. Three this time. We'll need to be in and out pretty damn fast." Zeik said quietly. The force of twenty men was all decked out in black clothes, although it didn't seem very necessary at the moment, since the Guardian sentries were doing a pretty crappy job. The grappling hooks clanked lightly as they landed up above. "Quieter!" He hissed.
"Zeik, nobody's ever going to be able to do that as well as Mariko. Face it." Kaneta smiled weakly. "Now what exactly is our target inside?"
"We have to find the library." Zeik stressed.
"They have one? Shouldn't we be heading for the armory or treasury?"
"You'd think so wouldn't you? No, I know what I'm doing here. Matuyama trade secret, for the moment anyway." With that, he hurried up the rope. Despite the large number of guards in Guardia Castle, they escaped detection. Only one guard actually saw them, and he didn't live to tell anyone about it. Omi discovered a map of the castle's many chambers in what used to be the knights quarters, and there was indeed a library behind the king's tower. They headed in that direction immediately.
"So what exactly are you looking for?" Kaneta asked as Zeik began to sort through the many volumes.
"I think I should explain a little. By now, nearly everyone knows and agrees that the first civilization to arise on this planet was not Choras, but a highly advanced culture called Zeal."
"Actually. I didn't know that."
"Of course. You never paid attention to what little schooling we had." Omi goaded him.
"Anyway..." Zeik took back control of the conversation. "Everyone in Zeal could use magic. It now seems that some people today can use it too. Both the king and queen can use magic, for example. Now, most historians say that there are four basic magic types. But it seems that there may be more than that. For example, Holy is the opposite of Shadow. Earth, Light, Jade, Pearl, Space, Star, etc., also seem to exist. There's a ton of types out there. What I'm interested in is an obscure one called summoning."
"So you're looking for a manuscript on summoning." Omi correctly guessed.
"Yes. If one of us can learn how to summon, we can have plenty of extremely powerful creatures on our side, should the need arise."
"See? Even you don't believe they'll let us out of the Truce!" Kaneta pointed at him.
"Shhh! Not really." Zeik's eyes darted among the many titles, then stuck on one. "Here we go." He yanked it off the shelf. "Now let's get out of here." They made their way back toward where they had come in, and quickly rappeled down the ropes. They were just beginning to rush back into the forest, when lights flared. Guardian troops poured out of the woods.
"Hold it." A commanding voice said forcefully. A man with spiky red hair and a scar running down his left cheek walked toward them. Zeik identified him as King Crono Triggara, and gulped. "I'm not exactly used to having invaders in my castle." Kaneta slowly began to draw his sword. "As a result, there's really no precedent. Just hand over the man who killed my guard, and the rest of you can go, this time."
"Huh?" Zeik was shocked. He slowly walked up to the man Crono was asking for and nudged him forward. "Go ahead." He whispered. "We'll be back to bust you out." The man reluctantly stepped forward, and the guards seized him, but to Zeik's surprise, didn't even beat him up.
"Okay then. But one thing before you go-"
"I knew it!" Kaneta shouted. He drew his katana, and most of the men quickly followed suit.
"Well someone's had a little too much coffee." Crono observed. "No, what I was going to ask is, what do you guys want?"
Now Zeik was really surprised. "Well, I was going to send a letter, but I guess this will get things moving faster. Your highness, we want permission for all peoples native to the Porre area to leave the Truce. We lived there long before any Guardian soldiers came and forced us to live under policies we don't agree with."
Crono shrugged. "That sounds reasonable. I don't have a problem with it. I'll bring it up with the Queen and see what we can do. We'll have an answer for you in the morning."
Zeik's jaw dropped. "You mean it?"
"Sure. I don't believe in hanging on to centuries of tradition when the tradition is stupid. Didn't you notice that I cancelled Chainsaw Juggling Days down in Porre?"
"Uh, no. We don't usually go."
"You cancelled it? Aw, man!" Kaneta threw his sword at the ground.
'Of course.' Zeik grinned a little. "Well your highness, thank you for your objective judgement."
"No problem. But then, I'm not the Guardian here. If you guys show yourselves, I'll let you know what happens."
"Cool. Uh, sir. We'll be leaving now, and, sorry about your guard. I hope he's the only casualty here."
"So do I. Take care of yourselves. I'll be seeing you."
"Nadia." Crono nudged his wife, trying to gently shake her awake. "Nadia?" Still no response. "Marle!"
"What is it?" She rubbed her eyes.
"We have a rather urgent matter of state here." She just looked at him tiredly. "Apparently, a group of native Porrians wants out of the Truce."
She sat up, instantly wide awake. "Never!"
"What? Why not? I don't see why there should be a problem."
"Crono, one of the first things I was ever told about the kingdom was to never let any faction, no matter how small, out of the Truce. I've had that message hammered into my brain all my life. A lot of people died to make the kingdom what it is today."
"The kingdom isn't perfect." Crono argued. "These people are serious, Nadia. We may be provoking a war if we don't allow them to leave."
"I realize that. There is no way. No one can ever leave."
"No way at all?"
"That's right. If anyone leaves the Truce, then the Truce is over. We'll all go back to dozens of warring factions like there were over 1,000 years ago. It will cause a much bigger war if we do let them out."
Crono grimaced. "All right. It's your call, after all. But I think you're making a big mistake here."
"I don't have a choice in the matter." She frowned too. "This is the way it has to be."
"I don't think waiting around here was such a good idea Zeik-san." Omi said as he polished his katana.
"I agree with you Omi, but I want to find out, so I know whether to go home happy or to prepare for battle."
"You really think they'll let us go?" Kaneta almost laughed. "No way! I'm sure it'll be battle."
They didn't have time for more debate, as King Triggara stepped into the secluded clearing they had set up as a meeting place. Zeik was surprised to see that no guards followed him. But judging from what he had heard about Crono, he wouldn't need any. The expression on his face told Zeik all he needed to know. "I'm sorry you guys, but I'm afraid Guardian law simply will not let anyone out of the Truce, no matter how good a reason they may have."
"We are prepared to fight for our freedom, you know."
"I'm aware of that. There's nothing I can do."
"Uh, aren't you the King?" Kaneta demanded.
"Yes, but I only give the orders as far as battle is concerned. The Queen has the final say about all things political."
"I can't believe this! You let a woman boss you around? You should be ashamed of yourself!"
"Um... Can you stand aside here?" Crono asked Zeik. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to hurt this guy."
Zeik began to protest, but Kaneta drew his sword and waved him aside. "Go ahead Zeik. I'll cover your retreat." Zeik frowned and then left the scene, Omi following close behind. "Okay gramps, let's see what you've got!"
"Oh, you'll see quite plainly." Crono drew his own katana, the Swallow, out of his belt. He suddenly wished that he had Rainbow, but first of all, Maro had it, and probably needed it more than he did, and second, he had decided that using Rainbow on ordinary people would be overkill. Kaneta charged forward, and Crono easily blocked his opening thrust. He slashed downward viciously, but Kaneta jumped upward, both avoiding the stroke, and setting up for a wicked downward slash.
Crono rolled to the side, but Kaneta managed to draw blood in his shoulder. Crono quickly struck out to the side, cutting through Kaneta's relatively light armor and into his side. "Eyaah!" Kaneta quickly slashed upward with a return stroke, which was blocked by Crono. "Ngh! Hai!" He then went for a low blow, but Crono jumped up, and he hit the dirt. "Aaugh!" He roared in frustration.
"Um... Excuse me..." Crono backed away. Kaneta looked up through angry eyes. "What's up with all the noise?"
"What're you talking about?!" Kaneta demanded, trying to staunch the blood flowing from his wound.
"You're like, constantly screaming there. Is that part of your fighting style or something?"
Kaneta glared at him. "It's just something we do."
Crono smiled. "Ah, in that case, Hee-yaaah!!!" He lunged forward, and the Swallow smashed up against Kaneta's blade. It wasn't made cheaply, but it was still no match for Melchior's master craftsmanship, and shattered instantly. Kaneta looked down at the jagged remains protruding from the hilt, and his jaw dropped.
He finally just had to smile. "You're not bad gramps. I'll see you around." With that, he jumped straight up into the trees, and quickly vanished from sight.
"Wait!" Crono called quickly. "What's the name of your kingdom anyway?!"
"No one remembers. That's how bad it is." A bitter voice returned. "We just call it, the land of Goroda." Then, he was really gone.
"Crud." Crono shook his head. He stormed back into the castle, then shouted. "I want a meeting of all my officers in a half hour. Like it or not, we're going to war!!"
Exactly one half hour later, the war room was filled with Crono's top men. They all just sat expectantly, waiting for him to start. They had all learned long ago that when Crono was around, you got your orders and did them, without a lot of talk. "Okay people," Crono launched into the conversation. "I want to end this as quickly as possible. The best way I can think of to do that is to throw so many men into the battle that we'll be able to completely surround and disarm every last enemy soldier, rather than having a lot of casualties on both sides. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing just how many native Porrians may be hiding in the woods down there. I think the safest way to play would be to recruit some more soldiers from outside Guardia to help in the battle. Any ideas?"
The officers murmured and shook their heads. "Sir, Porre won't be any help, and Choras is pretty peaceful these days. Medina's always pretty mellow too."
Crono nodded silently, then his face brightened so much the troops could practically see a light bulb coming on over his head. "Ozzie!" He shouted.
"Sir?" The troops were confused.
"I know Ozzie's family would never have been pleased with the way things turned out. Ozzie VIII still lives down there, and I'm willing to bet that he has his own faction lined up, waiting for an opportune moment to strike, rather like the people we're fighting."
"You want us to recruit the descendant of one of the worst fiends in history to battle a faction that has every right to be what it is?"
"No, I'll do that part myself." Crono smiled. "Ozzie may have been bad, but he wasn't much without Magus. Besides, this isn't the same guy. I'll go talk to him. You guys muster all the extra support you can from the townspeople. Talk to the former special agents about conditions down there. Vincent should be a big help. I'll see you all when I get back from Medina."
Sira tucked back her hair as the wind kicked up. She was making good progress through Fiona's Forest, on her seemingly tireless mount. But then, the horse had already had a day to rest on the way. She had meant to go directly to Porre, but she had stopped by Lucca's house the first afternoon to see her little sister. Then she had spent nearly two hours calming Aliza down from her tantrum after Tam stepped on her sand castle on Vortex Point. After that, it had really been too late to go on, and she ended up staying at Lucca's overnight.
She had also forgotten how beautiful Fiona's Forest could be, and had done a lot more sightseeing than she originally planned. But she was nearly out of the forest now, and she would be in Porre a few hours after dark. Suddenly, she noticed a large number of people on the trail ahead of her, surrounding a man on foot.
"Well, well, well. What have we here?" One of the riders demanded. "Straying a little far from the killing grounds, aren't you Zeik?"
"Shut the hell up!" The man on foot yelled up at him. "You are totally surrounded you know. I'd advise you to be on your way." Sira began to recognize the riders as special agents, although she had no clue who the guy was.
"You could be bluffing." The same rider spoke again. "And even if you're not, you'd be dead before your men could do a thing." The agent drew his sword with his right hand, and pulled out a gun with his left. The man on foot just stared at him defiantly.
"Hold it!" Sira cried. The agents glared at her.
"Just move it along miss. You have no clue what's happening here."
"That's true enough." She admitted. "But you need to let him go."
"Shut up! This guy is a-!"
"I don't care! I see a totally unfair fight here! Let him go now!" The agents glared at her even more fiercely, then just laughed. The leader cocked the gun he was carrying. Sira sighed, then pulled back her hood and let her long hair fall across her shoulders. She also took off her left glove, revealing a rather distinctive ring. "Let him go now, by order of Princess Sira Triggara of Guardia!!"
The agents' jaws dropped, then the leader glared at her again. "She may look like the Princess, but-"
"Oh, shut up!" The man next to him elbowed him. In case things turned ugly, Sira raised up her hand, and it began to glow brightly. "Whether she really is the princess or not, she's got the power! I think enough of us have died already, don't you?"
The leader lowered the gun, then turned his mount northward. "Very well. But I think you're going to regret this Princess. I really do." The agents all turned their horses, then galloped down the road. Sira slowly got off her mount.
"Are you okay? Why were those guys after you?"
Once again, Zeik could hardly believe what had just happened. 'First the king turns out to be a cool guy, and now the princess saves my ass! I feel bad about what's going to happen...' "Thanks for the help. Those guys are the last special agents around here. They enjoy harrasing anyone whose skin is darker than theirs."
"I don't think you'll have to be worrying about them much longer. But what did they mean about the "killing grounds?"
"Oh damn." Zeik cursed. Then Sira's eyes widened as he drew his sword. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to repay your kindness by taking you hostage."
"What the...? I think not." Her hand began glowing again. Suddenly, a hand was clamped over her mouth, and her hands were forced behind her back. She struggled to get free, and saw a large object being held menacingly over her head.
"Stop!" Zeik shouted. The object was lowered, and many men clad in black clothes dropped down from the trees. "I wasn't kidding about being surrounded by my men. I just didn't feel like throwing my life away."
Sira finally struggled free of the hand covering her mouth. "Who are you?" She gasped.
"My name is Matuyama T-... Well, just call me Zeik."
"Matuyama?" She gasped, remembering her history lessons. "Aw, hell."
"Never trust nobody." - Dale Gribble
Go To Chapter 4
Return To CT Fanfic