The Thief and the Swordsfrog Chapter 18
By Silent Elegy
Dalton snapped his mouth shut and blinked uncomprehendingly. Were they telling him to vanish, or.
Realization dawned. He quickly punched a button on the keyboard in front of him and was rewarded with the words "Life signs undetected" flashing across the computer screen. He slammed his hand down on the table.
"Blast it all! Garret had just better finish them off. I can't afford to let them wander around here unchecked."
He dropped his head into his hands. Flea had grossly underestimated Mariel's abilities. The Vanish spell should have been way out of her league. Not even Dalton could cast it. Not even Flea could cast it. The only people he knew of who could cast it were Ozzie and Magus, and even Ozzie had had trouble with it.
He couldn't afford to underestimate her again. She had more power than the royal brat Janus had last time Dalton saw him, that much was obvious. He looked at the computer the golems had brought him from the future. They had brought the original owner with it, but he was feeding the fish now. Dalton decided to monitor her; maybe the computer could tell him exactly how powerful she was.
Garret grinned maliciously, but inside, he was nervous wreck. He knew His Highness would be watching what happened with that odd machine of his. If Garret didn't defeat them now, he would be killed. Or worse, sent to live in the golems' world. Since he couldn't command them like Dalton could, he'd have no way to survive. Their world was devoid of any life.
Not only was he nervous about his fate if he didn't win, but his opponents were making him nervous as well. Frog, he thought he could handle. They'd fought before, and he knew what to expect. But Rat might be a problem. Although he'd never fought her before, she had a reputation for being quick and tireless. He'd heard that she once took out fourteen city guardsmen with her bare paws. In actuality, it had been five very drunk guardsmen, and she'd had her daggers as well as some backup. But although the story was greatly exaggerated, the reports of her skills were not.
Then, there was Mariel. Garret had no idea what to expect from her. She held her scythe loosely, as though she would drop it any second. She turned it just enough that the light glinted along its edge, making it appear even more dangerous than it was. Some part of Garret's mind wondered why she would choose a peasant weapon; the rest of him prepared for a battle he wasn't sure he could win.
Rat drew her daggers and took a battle stance. "I c'n handle this loser," she said to her companions. "Y'all go on ahead."
Frog blinked. "Art thou certain?"
"Yah, I'm sure. I'll catch up to ya." Mariel nodded and ran past Garret, but Frog hung back. He looked at Rat worriedly. "G'on," she said, pushing him after Mariel.
"Well, I guess it's just you and me, now," Garret said when they had gone.
"Yah, I guess so," Rat agreed. She lashed her tail and, without further warning, dove for his throat.
"That idiot!" Dalton yelled. He slammed his hand onto the table hard enough to cause the computer to bounce. "I don't believe that moron! How could he be so stupid as to let them get away? They're going to ruin everything!"
He quickly typed something into the computer, and the screen changed to a blueprint of his hideout. Six dots flashed slowly, and two were moving. Dalton breathed a sigh of relief to note that they were moving away from his other prison. He left to intercept them and destroy them himself.
He didn't see the light that represented Garret disappear.
Rat moved carefully away from the slain body of Garret. It hadn't been much of a fight. He'd been so surprised by her attack that he hadn't even tried to defend himself. Her dagger had gone straight through his throat up to the hilt. She stopped at what she thought was a suitable place, sniffed the air for anyone close by, and proceeded to empty her stomach of everything it contained.
Although she'd been in several fights, some of them quite bloody, that was the first time she'd ever actually killed someone. There had been several times when she almost did, and occasionally, the person died later from blood loss; but she'd never killed anyone herself.
She wiped her mouth off with a rag she always kept on hand and stood shakily. "I gots no clue how them soldier types can do that," she muttered quietly as she continued on her way. "I ain't never doin' that again. I'll get me own arse kicked a'fore I'll ever do that again. Never, never, never."
Her litany continued as she walked until she realized she was lost. She sniffed the air, but the only scents she found were her own and the acrid smell of metal. She took a few steps in the direction she had come, intending to follow her own scent back to where she started, but she had only gone a few feet when she smelled something else.
She cocked her head. "Perfume?" she muttered. "Hm, smells like.lilac. That's the new scent these days. Ever'body what's anybody's wearin' it. It's the Queen's favorite."
She stopped as a new idea entered her head. "The Queen. The Queen! She must be here!"
Rat dashed off in the direction of the scent. If she could find the Queen, Frog would be really happy, and maybe there would be a reward, too. She grinned. "Once a thief, always a thief, hey Frogman?" she muttered to the absent knight. "Ye can take a nob outta the city, but ya can't take the city outta the nob." She laughed at her wit.
"Rat should have caught up to us by now," Mariel said. "Right?"
"Mayhap the thief is a better fighter than he looked," Frog said; he was worried, too.
"Good point.What if she's dead?" Mariel stopped and turned back. "Oh, I shouldn't have left her alone."
"Mariel, wait," Frog said. He stepped in front of her, blocking the path. Doreen?
Wilt thou find Rat and aid her?
Doreen didn't say anything, but she made her distaste at the notion known.
"What are you saying?" Mariel asked. She could tell Frog was talking to Doreen by the way his eyes unfocused.
"I requested that she aid Rat, but she will not respond."
"Doreen, please," Mariel begged. "Like you said, it would hurt Glenn if she died."
"I know." Doreen appeared next to them. She held her head down, her stance the very epitome of discomfort. "But.oh."
"What is it?" Frog asked.
"Glenn.master.I don't like to leave you. What if something happens to you?"
"I am quite capable of taking care of myself, Doreen."
"I know. That's part of the problem. I should have been there." She sighed. "I'm going." She disappeared.
"Oh, thank you," Mariel breathed, although she didn't know if Doreen could hear her or not.
"Why art thou so worried?" Frog asked as he resumed walking in their chosen direction.
"Can't I just be worried?"
"It has not happened yet."
Mariel sighed. "Well, to make a long story short, when I was small, I had a sister. I didn't like her, so I turned her into a rat and threw her into the sea."
"What?!" Frog stopped short as the impact of what Mariel had just said hit him.
Mariel's look turned to one of pain, and she might have blurted out the whole story, kept hidden for over fifteen years, if circumstances hadn't intervened.
"What a lovely story!" Dalton said. Both Frog and Mariel whirled to face him, their previous conversation forgotten for the moment.
"Dalton!" Frog yelled. "What art thou doing hither?"
"Now, now, little froggy. You have only yourself to blame." He laughed insanely.
Mariel shook her head with disgust. "You are absolutely the single, most pathetic man I have ever met. And that's saying quite a bit."
Dalton snapped his mouth shut and turned a bright shade of red. "You.you.you'll pay for that! Golem! Go!"
A black portal opened between them and a large creature appeared from its depths. It seemed to be a yellow head with arms and second head on top. It opened its mouth and roared at them. Frog held Masamune ready, but Mariel merely yawned, unimpressed.
"Give me a break," she said in exasperation. She slipped her scythe into its holder on her back and held her hands in front of her face. She muttered quietly as she moved her hands in the magical pattern the spell required, then yelled, "Dark Matter!"
Frog groaned inwardly as the air around the golem grew dark and formed into two triangles, one with a view of star-studded space, and the other an empty greyness. The triangles disappeared, taking the golem with them. Frog blinked in amazement; Dalton gaped openly.
"I haven't seen such a weak monster since that Roly went crazy and tried to kill me," Mariel laughed. "In fact, that Roly lasted longer than your golem."
"Why, you..you." Dalton sputtered, unable to think of a single thing to say.
Frog croaked in amusement. "It appears thy minions are as worthless as thyself."
Dalton shook his fist at them and ran in the opposite direction. Frog followed him, but Mariel simply teleported herself into his path.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked as he slid to a stop and nearly collided with her.
Dalton looked back and forth between her and Frog, then laughed maniacally. "You'll both die here in a second," he informed them. "Go! Golem Twins!" He teleported out of the way as another portal opened and a two more golems appeared.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic