Acidic Tears Chapter 4

Club's Fight

By Shanley Wang

Tuefri smiled evilly as he took out a sword fashioned from a strong steel alloy. He gave it a few practice swings an pointed it at Kani.

“That head’s been on for far to long,” he said crouching into a stance, his sword still aimed at its target. Kani took a healing tonic from one of the broken crates and poured it on his wound. Discarding the empty container, Kani felt the cut close up, and a tingling sensation overcame his body for a brief moment.

“Now you DIE!” Kani knocked Tuefri’s sword away and propelled his staff straight into Tuefri’s crotch. Tuefri remained virtually unfazed (wonder why) and slashed at Kani. He dodged to the side and swiped at Tuefri’s legs, hitting one with such a force that his staff snapped, but not Tuefri’s leg. He threw down his snapped staff and held his ground.

“Poor little twig, snapped in half?” the market owner taunted. He raised his sword and brought it down upon Kani. Suddenly, he grunted, there was a scuffling sound, and a figure struck him down. It was Master Gansal, carrying two staves.

“Master! You’re here!”

“Kani, we’ll talk later. Here, take this staff,” his master ordered as he threw him a long staff. “You’ve definitely got the skill to handle that length. I’ve already taught you all the basic and intermediate movements, and you caught on quickly. So you take this man down, eh? I doubt that the balsa staff I gave you hardly did anything.” Kani gave his master a startled look while Tuefri looked baffled, trying to sort out what happened while rubbing his stomach in pain.

“I managed to beat down three fighters with balsa wood?!” Kani asked incredulously.

“Why do you think it snapped in half?”

“Never mind that, I’m looking for some revenge!” a voice from the doorway announced. It was Basdu.

“Me too!” said a risen Mona.

“Don’t exclude me. You’ll pay!” Maruka said throwing useless splinters of wood off of his bruised body.

“Suits gang, attack!” Tuefri ordered. Basdu took out a claw, attaching it to his hand. He rushed Kani with Tuefri’s help. Basdu got hit in the face with Kani’s staff and Tuefri fell the same way. Kani’s master had dispatched Mona and Maruka with unfathomable ease and turned to Kani, nodding. Kani faced the two black suits of the Suits gang, Tuefri and Basdu, staring them down before blocking a claw and deflecting a sword. The longer and heavier staff gave Kani more power to induce pain. Tuefri doubled over from a hit to the gut and Basdu was kicked into a wall. Kani swung and snapped Basdu’s nose. Tuefri recovered from the stomach hit and tried to hack at Kani, who dodged. Master Gansal was on the sidelines, whacking Maruka every now and then and looking at the fight in amusement.

Basdu attacked from Kani’s side, but hit a pile of boxes instead, his claw stuck in the side of a crate, trying futilely too yank himself free as Kani bashed him on the head twice before turning to Tuefri. Kani blocked one strike and dodged a chop. His staff connected with Tuefri’s head at a speed so fast there was a sickening snap. Tuefri crumpled to the ground, clutching his neck. By then , Basdu had freed himself from his predicament and nicked Kani in the shoulder, spilling blood. A line of scarlet formed on Kani’s wound. Basdu smiled a bit, having finally hurt Kani and kept attacking. Kani blocked a swing but let in a punch to his gut. Kani reeled back, clutching his new wounds. Master Gansal twitched, but held back his urge to beat the living daylights out of Basdu. Kani looked at his master with a reassuring look.

“I’ve got everything under control,” he boasted as he sweeped Basdu off of his feet and onto the floor. Kani struck him in the gut, to make sure he was about to stay down. Tuefri had gotten up and cut Kani’s hip. Kani rammed the back of his staff into Tuefri’s gut in anger and then rapped Tuefri on the head. He fell, and didn’t get up.

“Well done. Here, use this,” said Kani master, giving him a tonic to soothe his wounds. Kani poured the thick, stinging liquid onto his cuts.

“Consume this, as well.” He held out a glittering square cracker. “It’s a power tab. It increases your strength by magical means,” explained his master. Kani ate it and felt a revitalizing charge go through him. His master opened the door to the market and stepped out. Kani followed.

“Now this market is ours,” Master Gansal said, observing the chests of items and the weapons on the shelves.

“Ours?!” Kani asked, surprised again at his master’s sayings.

“I had known Tuefri for an amount of time. Mona was a failed pupil of mine, and went on with Tuefri. When I met the Club of the Suits gang for he first time, he struck with me a deal. If my first successful pupil could beat his gang, I would get this market for my ownership. I plan to make major changes. And you, my friend, will help me.”

***

The cold winter air had fallen the Arris Dome, circa 2001 A.D. Chavez Burge remembered the fateful day that a fiery, overgrown hedgehog was beaten down by a group of three people. Chavez, with his elite training for combat, saw that none of the three were that much better than he was. By the time he had heard the rumblings from Keeper’s Dome and rushed to the scene, the threesome had already defeated the monster from the inside. Chavez had tried to help the three, but explosions from within kept him from entering.

He knew the energy. He felt it within himself. Magic. He was sure he was the only living human that still possessed the gift of magic. He himself possessed the element of Lightning, so he brought unto himself a great amount of energy. He suffered every day the images of the deaths that he in his time in the army had taken. He infused his bullets so they pierced even the thickest of metal. He was never promoted, because he didn’t fight for material, just the knowing of his success as a soldier. After the war was over, he resided in Keeper’s Dome, keeping to himself and training himself in the martial arts, better gunmanship, and practicing his magic, and suffering from nightmares.

Then he turned his life to finding a way to open time portals from one time period to another. He made a few weak ones, doing nothing except sending himself two minutes into the future. He kept trying, though, and he felt himself very close.

That was, until he met three heroes that had helped defeat the overgrown creature, eventually known as Lavos.

He had been at his apartment in the corner of Keeper’s Dome. He had opened yet another gate, except too much near a power line. It seemed as though the power line still existed two hundred and ninety-nine years into the future. The energy from the gate had slightly jolted the power line in all eras, but the energy in the Epoch, the adventurer’s flying time machine, sucked up the power like a sponge, creating a gate that swallowed the three, and threw them to this time era.

The three, a young swordsman named Crono, a wacky inventor called Lucca, and an android with emotions known as Robo, fell into his home, followed by the Epoch, which zoomed into this time era and has now parked on his roof, a structure inside the Dome. In the next few days he learned everything about their travels, and he told them everything he trusted them with, which meant that his magic was out of discussions. He gave them a place to stay, inside his spacious house, for he had hoarded a great deal of money and could afford the large abode.

Three days had passed, and Crono went out to buy groceries for a hospitable Chavez.

“So, er, Lucca? You say something in my house triggered the opening of a time portal?” Chavez asked the scientist, pouring coffee to ward off the morning drowsiness and turning Robo on.

“Time gates. Gates, we call them,” Lucca corrected him. “And, yes, that is my theory. It must have been extremely powerful. We were actually in the process of searching for one of our old friends, a mage from the ancient times of the legendary Zeal Kingdom,” explained Lucca. “Our search was cut off because of some high-energy reaction coming from within these walls,” she continued. “Now, we’re here.”

Chavez’s walnut-colored eyes opened wide. Turning to Robo, he started examining the humanoid robot. It had been the seventh time he had done so since they arrived. He found the futuristic machine perplexing, a metal puzzle that he couldn’t fathom like he could modern-day machines.

“Lavos…what did the battle seem like from the observer’s point of view?” questioned Lucca.

“There were many energy discharges and rumblings coming from the inside. There were explosions and intense light emitting from the hole you guys had made earlier. Pretty soon, the entire shell shook and it seemed to collapse upon itself. We demolished the rest of the pieces and three months after, a war started. It lasted for a year, making the people of the future grow in fear of machines. That’s probably why there was an over-zealous group of people trying to bust Robo up,” Chavez answered, taking a sip of his black coffee. He set it down, and got up to check on the bacon and eggs. Which are probably burnt by now, he thought, taking a whiff of the charcoal odor emitting from the blacking bacon. He trashed the bacon and turned to the eggs, which were surprisingly just fine. He put two on each plate, six in total, saving a plate for Crono when he returned. Chavez buttered some toast and spread jam over the others. He poured a glass of milk for all three food-eaters and got a battery for Robo.

After he served the plates and plugged Robo up for a recharge, Crono came bursting in, his arms full of groceries. Chavez immediately went over to help, grateful that Crono had followed the list well. Chavez hated sloppiness. He gathered the store-bought necessities and stored them all in their appropriate places. Then he gave Crono his breakfast, which Crono gladly accepted with the urging of his stomach. Satisfied that everyone was fine, Chavez sat down for his own breakfast, which was turning cold too soon.

When breakfast was done, Chavez cleared the table and placed all the grimy dishes into the dishwasher, turning the appliance on. The day came when he felt that he knew these people enough to tell them his secret. He cleared his throat and turned to the three, telling them about his skills.

“YOU CAN USE MAGIC? ALL BY YOURSELF, WITH NO LEARNING FROM SPEKKIO?” Lucca asked, not believing what she had heard. Robo didn’t say anything, but bleeped a couple of times. Crono said nothing, but folded his arms, his face blank.

“What element? Earth, Poison, Wind, or Psychic?” Lucca, asked, obviously trying to trick Chavez out of a lie.

“None. I possess lightning magic,” Chavez answered, certain that his answer would convince Lucca of his authenticity.

“Well, you’re wrong. There is no lightning element.” Crono was about to object, but got the gist, and refolded his arms. Robo, however, was too innocent to trick anybody without making himself look like a misguided foreigner.

“That is incorrect. Crono possesses the Lightning element as well, Lucca,” the automaton said. Lucca smacked her own forehead. Crono smiled subtly before turning to Chavez and firing a bolt of lightning at Chavez. Chavez, whose guard was down, was struck by the thousands of megawatts of electricity, but, himself being lightning elemental, felt nothing but a little shock. Lucca was finally convinced, with Chavez standing there without even having his clothes fried. Crono’s smile grew.

“Welcome to the club of rarities,” the swordsman said. “What weapon are you of, for all of us have one?”

“I use guns. Like Lucca’s, except charged with lightning energy to make them strong. I used to be a soldier during the war,” answered Chavez, holstering his machine gun.

“Well, we’re leaving here. If you want, you can come with us,” suggested Robo.

“We don’t have enough seats in the Epoch. And where are the gates? Lavos is dead, so gates are completely obsolete….”

“I can sit in the trunk for up to four hours. It’s part of army training,” Chavez pointed out.

Ten minutes later, the Epoch was full. Lucca was in the front seat, Crono and Chavez were in passenger seats. Robo was in the trunk, turned off and fitting in perfectly inside the cargo hold.

***

Guardia couldn’t take much more. Frog hated to lose fights, especially against Mystics. He leaped high and pierced another Grimalkin, and severed an Ogan’s hammer, and finished off the monster. He dispatched Gnashers and Naga-ettes with ease and washed another group of Mystics with a second-level Water spell. When he had a break, he downed a Mid Tonic, healing most of his wounds. He took a while to observe the Knights’ condition. They were finally pushing the Mystics out of Porre, and winning. At last the battle was over. Frog wiped his blade on the dewy grass eliciting a glow from the Masamune. He sheathed his dreamstone-made broadsword and, with a flick of his cape, ordered his knights to return to Guardia Castle, a long march that would kill the entire day’s time.

As the sky turned a violet color the Knights of the Square Table assembled in front of the Guardian drawbridge, their hearts still heavy with the huge losses on their side. With their smelly clothes and soiled armor, the knights of Frog’s regiment entered their quarters with exhausted frustration at the recently unfolding events.

“Commander Frog, sir. His royal majesty would like your presence, sire!” a messenger called as soon as he entered. Frog fingered the handle to his sword and thanked the young serf. He walked straight, separating from his men who were retiring to their quarters and entered the throne room. He found the king resting on the throne far from his usual splendor. His crown was in his fidgeting hands and sweat poured from his wrinkled forehead. His eyes showed anger and nervousness, a deep frustration. Of course, that was an understatement. The man had etched into his features an agitated, troubled look that the air around him was heavy with it. All his servants avoided speaking to him, and when they did, it was usually the bravest of words, such as, “I don’t believe that is a good idea, your majesty.” Those who survived the reply were few. Of course, that is an exaggeration.

Frog kneeled and bowed his head, addressing the king with a “thy majesty”, as he got down on his knee. The king motioned for him to rise.

“Commander Frog, in all my years I have been in rule of Guardia I never wished for so much bloodshed. But the Mystics seem to think the opposite. The first devastation to my promise for peace was with the first Mystic war. Hundreds of regiments lost, Commander. Then you and four very strange people from the future saved this nation. However, it brought into question my ability to keep the promise. Frog, I need you to eradicate the Mystics once and for all. They threaten not only my image but also the people of my kingdom. Now, the assault on Porre was definitely not my problem, it was of the mayor’s ability for peace. However, it seems as though the news will tarnish both of our statuses. So, I ask you once more to wipe the Mystics off of this mortal coil. Hunt them down and squeeze them into a corner and annihilate them, and raze all of their buildings.”

“Highness, I must tell thee that ‘tis a task I cannot accomplish…or I should say, will not. Thou must realize that in the future, thy children shalt live in harmony with the cur that is Mystics. Obliterating them is not an option.”

“Very well. But I want security tightened on things so that Mystics cannot cause any more innocent deaths!” With that, the king’s face softened into a look of sorrow. “You may go, Frog,” he said, waving the amphibious commander off. Frog turned and began striding to his living space. The cold stone walls echoed each step he made. He descended the stairwell into the knights’ common room. A square table and beds for nursing wounded ones occupied most of the space. On the walls were bulletins, maps, battle manuals, and all sorts of odds and ends. Something new caught Frog’s eye. An essay, written in formal writing, addressed to no one in particular.


In the days of old, when people were savage, there was the obsession of getting food. When they had fulfilled their need for nourishment they grabbed for animal hide, a proof of their might. When everyone had poached out all the hide and everyone was equally mighty, people began to obsess over power and money, for an even currency had taken root in society. Gold, in its glimmering glory, its high worth, was sought after, and great wars were fought over a single lode, dynasties crippled, empires collapsed. Gold was exhausted quickly, thanks to the human greed. Selfishness became a parasite, infesting people from commoners, who could but steal and rob, to great kings, who could control vast armies trained for the killing of others for the king’s want.

So, obsession and greed are problem number one.

I remember when I was a boy, a mere youth at age five. My tutors thought I was a potential noble. I studied well, and many people clamored to be my tutor, for I was enlightened easily, and I could grasp whole concepts. A year later my teacher and parents praised my immense intelligence. My teachers claimed that my name would be the most-spoken one in all the land, that I would have to walk around in disguise so people will not become overly excited. How exuberantly foolish they were! I managed to maintain this throughout the first ten year of my life. Then, I didn’t care. My reputation could suffer a few blows, so what? It became more and more difficult for me to gain the attention of people. I lied to get out of verbal traps about my slacking. Less and less effort was put forth until the effort itself became a small worm, attempting vainly to move the great boulder of corruption that had entombed my once-innocent self. People no longer trusted me. My father, a lord of a quaint little village banished me from the manor in shame. My mother mourned my stupidity. I then realized that my actions did not only impact myself, but, as I realized as the selfishness shed itself off, impacted others as well. My father had expectations for me. Now, I am a lowly Sergeant for the Guardian army, part of a whole where it is most difficult for one to climb up the rungs of.

Problem number two: Dishonesty.

Patience is a virtue. Patience is a trait. Patience is a must-have. Patience this, patience that, and you are getting impatient. Somebody wishes to speak of their own mishaps, one cannot keep their mouths shut and dishonors that man by jutting in and saying their problems are worse. Can no one wait any longer in this corrupt society? People are so eager to hurry around and do the things they want, thinking that time is as limited as their intelligence probably is. What ever happened to the phrase “haste makes waste”?. I, for one, have to hasten, for it is an order of the captain. But I do not hasten so much that I stumble in my haste and perhaps lose more time than I had hoped to gain by rushing. So in a world of rushing, we only manage to slow ourselves down. The more you reach for it, the more it eludes you.

Last problem: Impatience.

Unless we resolve to smite these faults out of every one and instill Honesty, Benevolence and Forbearance within every being, we cannot hope to avoid wars, or earn our fair share, or be heard as equals. If everyone can learn that there are others, and we weed out corruption, we cannot gain for the greater good. The war we fight is within ourselves, and only perseverance and understanding can drive it out. I dedicate my life for this cause.


    Sergeant Major Robert Forrester


Frog reread the essay three times before he tore his eyes from the enlightening parchment. So much from this Sergeant. He had never before taken a good look at Forrester before. He hoped to meet him soon. He could see the potential in the boy. If he could just implant self-motivation in the soldier, he could once again be restored to his former glory. Frog continued on to his quarters, his mind on the Mystics this time. Why would the Mystics pull something like this again? Ozzie is gone, Magus is no longer ruler, and Slash and Flea have been killed by Magus’ own blade. Something must be up….

He thought of the mystics. Just Nag-ettes and Goblins. Some Freelancers were there, but not much else. They weren’t exactly the most elite of fighters, yet they had the spirit of the highest heroes ever to serve in any war. They had an urge, and they were in large numbers. Somebody greater had a hand in this. But who? Queen Zeal was gone forever, no Mystics have tried to rebel in such fury. Mystics were too stupid and greedy to join together, unless they had a leader, greatly influential, foolhardy, brave, and considerably more intelligent than the rest. Magus and Ozzie had been perfect examples. Others, like the third Patriarch of the Mystics, had been stupid, and the Mystic Empire had just been a confederacy, power tearing between eunuchs. Frog retired and slept with good dreams.


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