Escaping Fate Chapter 1

By Taran

“One thousand dead. But two thousand of theirs.”

“I suppose it was worth it to you then?”

“Yes! It doesn’t matter how many die as long as we wipe out every mother’s son of ‘em!”

“And what if you were one of those thousand? Then would you still be as enthusiastic!?”

“How many times do I have to tell you!? I would gladly give my life if I went with my sword driven into one of their hearts! Assuming they have hearts that is.”

“Both of you, calm down. We can’t be arguing amongst ourselves. We need to turn our attentions towards the enemy. As soon as we defeat them, then you two can duke it out.”

“I wouldn’t be arguing, but this man has no stomach for blood!”

“There’s more to winning wars than an all out attack! Can’t you suppress your bloodlust just this once?”

“I said shut up!”

“All of you, silence.”

With that, the debate died. The three men turned towards the speaker, bowed before him, spoke “Yes, your majesty,” and were seated.

“Now,” the king continued, “Vicks, please get on with your report.”

“Thank you, sir. As I said, one thousand men were killed. The march, however, was successful. We were able to take the Jiddah citadel and drive all the Islar…” After the conformation of victory, the king, Ardian, tuned out of the general’s soon-to-be dramatic, exaggerated, and very long detailed explanation as to the happenings of the battle. But, as king, others were always watching him, and he was aware of it. It was one of the many responsibilities that came with being king. To appear to be paying attention, he stroked his scruff, white beard that he had begun to grow. It was not that he cared to have a beard, it was just that he had been so busy since the war fired up again that he had not had any time to shave.

“…then, after shooting off an army in itself of arrows, we thrust our swords into the air and cried out in victory, ‘To Zeal! The eternal kingdom!’”

Ardian cursed himself for missing out on the entire presentation. ‘Oh well,’ he thought, ‘I’ll listen to Piette, it’s sure to be a much more informative briefing.’ Looking up at Vicks he asked sternly, “Are you done?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then could you please get off the table.” It was an order, not a request.

Vicks looked around at the officials sitting below him. Somehow, during the excitement, he had managed to jump onto the large oak table. It was not the first time. For whatever reason, it had occurred to him that the middle of the round table was the best place for the others to see his glorious representations of his battle. Nevertheless, it was still very rude, so he was slightly embarrassed as he climbed down and returned to his seat.

With the end of Vicks’ ‘show,’ all eyes once again turned towards the king. “General Piette, is there anything you would like to add to that?”

“Yes sir.” The man stood up and walked over to the wall where there was a map of Hejaz, the enemy territory. “Vicks was… correct.” Although it pained him to say it, it was the truth. “We did succeed in capturing Jiddah. However, holding it is another matter, and it will be hard to do. I had a scouting troop explore the outlying land, and it appears that we are surrounded on three sides.” He then activated a marker on the map to display six Islar units approaching from all sides except that of the sea. It appears that the bulk of the units have assembled in the mountains to the north, for obvious defensive reasons.”

“That is incorrect.” At the voice, everyone turned towards the entrance of the Tactical Conference Room. A large man stood there. At least, everyone assumed he was a man. They could not tell though as his entire body was covered with elaborate robes. Even a thin cloth covered his entire face. His name was has unknown, but they called him Hermes. To the people of Zeal, he was a messenger from the gods. Every now and then, whenever they needed it most, he would come with vital information about the Islar. Now was one of those times.

As Hermes headed up to the map, Piette stepped down and seated himself. With a gloved hand he pointed to Jiddah and ran his finger in a line from there to the mountains. “There is a series of underground tunnels here. They lead from the mountains, where the Islar are assembled, to Jiddah. You cannot find them, but I will show them to you. They will not expect it. Use them… wisely.” A bright, purple and red light flashed throughout the room, then he was gone.

“What do you suggest?” the king asked as he once again addressed his generals.

“We should fortify ourselves, your majesty. “Wedge said. “Perhaps we could close up the tunnels, then go around through the mountain pass and...”

“No.” Piette objected, “We are too far outnumbered. We should plan this out: use the layout of these tunnels as a sort of ambush.”

“Wars are not one by hiding underground!” Vicks roared. “We must attack! Let us rush down the tunnel until we come out in the middle of the Islar camp! If we kill them all there will be no one we need to defend Jiddah from!”

“Whatever we do,” Ardian began, “We need to do it fast. You three, go there at once, and take one of the elite units with you. Hurry, there is no time to loose.”

When Vicks, Piette, and Wedge were gone, another stood and walked over to the king. “Do you realize what this means?”

Ardian nodded. “If we hold Jiddah… the next step is Medina…”


They kissed. They kissed twice. They embraced, and he held her close. A tear rolled down her cheek. He wiped it away and kissed her again. “Please don’t go…” she sobbed.

“I don’t have much of a choice.” It did not seem to comfort her. Taking her chin between his thumb and finger, he forced her to look at him. “It’s going to be okay.” He insisted. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I swear to you, I’ll survive. No matter what, I’ll come back.”

“I know but… stay with me anyway…” He could not resist, so, they stayed there, holding each other. She always felt safe in his arms.


She woke up lying in bed. She had had fallen asleep, and he had left. She cried.


A large wave crashed against their boat, forcing the elite Zeal unit to regain their balance. They had gotten used to it though, after the day's voyage. The hull of this vessel was weak, its purpose merely to transport as many troops as fast as possible. Thus, the main emphasize in its design was for a minimum weight and maximum engine. They had one of the best steam engines on this ship, the latest design. It just seemed strange that with all of that technology, they could not fix a leak.

A drop of the sea fell from the upper deck and landed on a young man's head. As it dripped over his head and down his long hair, it made a trail of even darker red. It looked good on him. The new color blended right in with the old, still matching the sash he wore across his light armor. The armor itself, a chin-mail, was worn under a blue cloak, so that everything went well together. To the soldiers it seemed a waste of time, and to the generals. When you are covered with blood, the color of your uniform does not matter.

The people of Zeal did care though. They received a since of pride and awe when they saw their great army, a massive swarm of soldiers, all in line, dressed finely. If gave them a feeling that they could win. Though, the Islar could most likely dress just as nicely. Marle liked to see him in his uniform too. 'Marle…' Perhaps the only thing that had kept Crono alive during this forsaken war was that he had a girl waiting for him back home.

Where was she now? What was she doing? He had left her there, after she had fallen asleep in his arms. It had been hard for him to leave, very hard. But it was his duty to fight for his country, and he could not run away from that. Not for Marle, not for anything.

"So, what've you heard about the situation in Jiddah?" another soldier asked Crono.

"I don't know. I think we received another visit from Hermes, so it must be really important. Especially if their pulling in us elite."

"Yeah. I heard that if we hold Jiddah, we're going to attempt an attack on Medina."

"Medina... then the war would be... over! We could all go home."

"Exactly. So remember that the next time you drive that katana of yours through an Islar's chest. It's not just for them, or for you, it's so we can all go home."

"Go home... for good. Then Marle and I could finally..."

His thoughts were interrupted as a soldier jumped down into the hold and shouted, "We're under attack!" With that, everyone quickly rose to their feet and hurriedly climbed up one of two ladders that went above deck. It was not raining outside, but the spray of the ocean waves that crashed onto the deck gave that impression. The sun was still shining brightly, but one thing obstructed their view: an Islar ship fast approaching. Islar ships were not like Zeal vessels. They had once looked the same, before the Zeal culture discovered the steam engine, but now they were rapidly changing. While the Zeal vessels were now mostly flat, the Islar ships still looked like old pirate ships, full sail and all. The only difference was that the Islar ships did not cut through the current, but through the waves of the air.

Such was the case with this ship. It sailed a good twenty five feet above the sea, allowing for a closer and more advantages combat position. The ship came right up to the Zeal cruiser, hovering directly above it. From there, it let down several cords. Down each one slid five imps, ready for combat. As soon as they set foot on the Zealian deck, they were confronted by the elite group of soldiers. Crono, along with the rest, drew their weapons and defended their ship.

Crono took his katana and came down hard on the first imp down one of the ropes. The imp was faster though, and quickly rolled out of the way. The little creature then formed a small fireball and blasted it at Crono. Gripping his sword tight, Crono held it in front of him, letting it cut through the fireball leaving him virtually unharmed. He then used some of his own magic, blasting the Islar with a lightning bolt, something even it could not dodge.

Crono then turned to battle another imp, but the other soldiers had already taken care of them. Next they had to take care of the ship, before anyone else dropped in. The soldier elite gathered together and prepared a spell. The first one was complete; three comets of energy shot from three different soldiers, each comet of a different magic element. The comets flew upward, towards the Islar ship. Then, the comets collided with each other, merging into one. The tails picked up speed and blasted the ship's hull first, making way for the ball of shadow energy to impact through the hull and into the deck.

It was not raining before, but now a shower of wood splinters fell on the Zeal cruiser. Not only wood, but something else fell from the Islar ship, another warrior. This one, however, was not an imp, but an omnicrone. He fell from the Islar ship and came down hard. Upon impact with the Zeal vessel, the whole cruiser rocked and swayed and cracks were formed on the deck. The omnicrone wore heavy armor, from head to toe, only one slit in his helmet for his one eye. In his hand he held a massive mace, and he wasted no time in putting it to work.

A soldier leapt at the Islar, sword held high, preparing to strike, but he never got the opportunity. The omnicrone swung his weapon, slamming the hard, spiked sphere into the man's gut. Even worse, from there, lightning pulsed through the soldier's body and shot out at several onlookers. After the man fell limp onto the deck, those same onlookers became fighters. They all charged at the omnicrone, burying him under a pile of slashing swords. In the center of the mob, an explosion of lightning erupted. Bolts flew out in every direction, blasting many soldiers to far reaches of the deck or even out into the sea. It killed the omnicrone, but he went out with a smile on his face, knowing he had served his people well.

By the time everyone thrown overboard had gotten back onto the cruiser, the Islar ship was crossing over the horizon towards Hejaz. The fight here was over. They had won. Returning below deck, the soldiers hoped that the remainder of their voyage would be uneventful. Although each one of them always enjoyed a good battle, they were never glad to see one of their companions killed. Also, they would need all their strength for the upcoming battle. This had just been a small taste of what was to come. The blood that was spilled on the deck would soon cover all of them, if not Islar blood, their own.


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