Escaping Fate Chapter 2
Pulling into the docks of Jiddah was slow. Actually, it was impossible. Jiddah was built on the edge of a series of steep cliffs and cascades, the docks being built only over pools at the top of the waterfalls. It would be quite simple for the Islar ships, they could just float up and over the top. The Zeal cruiser, however, did not have that option. Thus, they were forced to anchor in at the edge of one of the dryer cliffs and then embark on a short climb. It was not very difficult though, as a part of the unit already occupying the city dropped down a ladder for them.
As Crono pulled himself over the ledge to stand on solid ground he looked up and saw the city of Jiddah. What he saw amazed him. He was standing at the edge of a small jungle that grew between a system of lakes. Not too far away, through the jungle, at the edge of the lakes, a large bastion jetted up above the trees. It acted as a sort of stone mesa or platform, upon which the city of Jiddah was built. The city itself was surrounded by another wall that picked up right where the massive stone block had left off. The only difference noticeable right away was the difference in slope. The plateau had a slight slant to it, where the wall was a strait vertical structure. Without going inside, it would appear that the city was truly that large.
Above the wall, the tops of several towers could be seen. They were round, coming to a close at a golden dome. Also above the wall, the keep could be seen. It was a marvelous palace, complete with white marble pillars and a large dome of its own, gilded like the towers. When he, Crono, and the rest of the elite unit made their way through the jungle and up to the rampart, they could finely make out the entrance to the citadel, as previously they could not spot any. There were two flights of stairs cut into the stone, each leading up to one point, a short tower-like gatehouse. The tower opened up on four sides. First, there were two massive doors that opened from the top of the stairs. There was a large arch that provided a beautiful view of the jungle and lakes below, along with the waterfalls, cliffs, and the open sea beyond. Finally, there was an iron gate that was drawn up for access to the rest of the city.
Taking only a moment to partake of the magnificent view, and to wish Marle were there to see it as well, Crono turned and entered Jiddah. It seemed to him that the interior of the city was as beautiful as the outside was fortified. There were walkways of polished stones that made their way through emerald gardens and between marble buildings. To Crono, all of this was amazing. It was not as if he had never seen an Islar city before, it was just that the closer they came to the heart of Hejaz, the larger and grander the cities became. Taking another look around, it made him think that perhaps the Islar were not the ruthless, raging beasts that he had been taught they were.
Shaking off his feelings of doubt, he followed the rest of the elite into the keep of the fortress. The first room he entered was a large open chamber, filled with at least one hundred men. Up on a higher platform, generals Vicks, Piette, and Wedge were arguing as to the strategy that they were to use this time. No one paid them much attention though, for these fights were a common occurrence.
What if they prepare a siege? Piette pointed out. We need to keep men in the tunnels as sure passage for food and supplies.
If we die, let us die by the sword! Vicks rebuked. Ill have none of this waiting.
Has anyone thought that perhaps we should simply stand our ground? Wedge asked. They are counting on the element of surprise. If we take that away from them, we are a step closer to victory.
And if we surprise them were two! added Vicks.
An ambush would be a more effective method of surprise. Piette began.
You cant expect to ambush anyone by abusing the tunnels that they built. Wedge told them.
Yeah. Vicks agreed. Besides, we went with your idea last time.
We certainly did not! replied Piette. It was never my idea to go for a frontal stab strait into the gates.
It worked didnt it!? Vicks demanded.
Yes, but not without previously spying on and exploiting the placement of their guards and sabotage of their defenses. Insisted Wedge.
And so the discussion continued, the three, although standing before many, talking to no one but themselves as their soldiers submersed into their own conversations. So, Fritz, what do you think the plan is going to be? Crono asked his friend.
Well, we did go with a direct assault for our attack here. And General Wedge did put his spies and saboteurs into action. But, Piette isnt very good at Rock, Paper, Scissors, so were probably going to play with the Islars minds again.
Thats too bad.
Yeah. I would much rather dive into a pool of Islar and take them out nice and quick.
I hear ya man. But it is fun to see the confused looks on their faces when things dont go as planned.
Hey, everyone quiet! A man in front of them shouted. Theyve come to a decision.
With all eyes and ears on the generals, they could now be heard throughout the chamber. Hey! Vicks complained, I thought we were doing two out of three! Huh? He looked at the crowd. Oh, never mind.
Okay, heres the plan. Wedge started. First, we need to fill up several of the tunnel entrances. Well also need to chart them out. What were gonna do is
Before he could continue, there was a bright flash behind him. A small sphere of glowing energy appeared, then exploded, flooding the room with a dark light. Then, behind Vicks, Piette, and Wedge, stood Hermes. In his hand he held a metal staff, as tall as he was, with a crystal ball at the top. He tapped his staff on the floor and the crystal began to absorb all of the light in the room. From the sun shining through the windows, the torches and candelabras, it was all pulled into his staff, plunging the room into darkness, only lighted now by the single glowing ball. It will show you the way. He said. Then, faster than he had came, he was gone, only the floating crystal, no longer with the staff, left behind.
Vicks, Wedge, and Piette approached the crystal, but it shattered. The glass burst out in all directions, along with the light that had been trapped inside. The chamber returned to normal, the only differences being the crowd shushed in awe, fragments of glass on the floor, and a small, glowing creature flying slowly around the generals. It was some sort of fairy or another similar creature. As everyone watched it in amazement, it flew through a door, out of the chamber. Follow it! Vicks cried out. The others agreed and all three of them, along with several of the soldiers down below, began to follow the fairy.
As it flew down the halls of the keep, periodically it stopped, gazed at the wall or a slab of the marble floor, and they began to glow. After that, the soldiers were able to remove it and reveal a stairway or tunnel. The creature did the same thing throughout the city, pointing out a total of ten passages that led down to a maze of tunnels carved out of the stone platform the city was built on. When the last secret passage had been revealed the fairy flew off over the jungle and out to the sea, leaving the people to defend for themselves once more.
At the end of the day, preparations for the battle were finally complete. Now, everyone was being sent to his or her positions. Crono, along with a group of ten soldiers (ranging from elite to third class) headed into Jiddahs mosque. They entered a small room, the walls covered with mosaics and ancient writing, the floors covered with finely woven carpets, and the ceiling holding several upside-down torches that lit the room. Moving aside a section of the floor they headed down a spiraling stairwell until they came to a wall. There, they waited.
Several hours later, Crono head footsteps on the opposite side of the wall. Then, a whole line of Islar marching down the hall on the opposite side. The footsteps got louder, and then receded. Now. Crono ordered. Quickly, but silently, the group of them grabbed a hold of iron handles that came out of the wall. They lifted, and then pushed it outward. All ten of them hurried down from the mosque and then they put the wall back into place. I hope Fritz did just as good a job. He thought. Then he gave the order and he and his troops rushed forward.
When they turned the corner, they saw a group of about twenty Islar. They were outnumbered and overpowered, but Wedge had stuffed their sleeves full of dastardly tricks. Indeed, looking behind him, Crono saw Fritzs squad of ten soldiers give him the signal. With a bolt of lightning searing down the hall towards the enemy, Crono charged forward into their ranks. A few omnicrones stepped up to the challenge, but the imps quickly turned and ran in the opposite direction. He could not concern himself with them right now, so he drew his katana and jumped at one of the omnicrones.
As an automatic reaction, the Islars mace came down fast and hard. But Crono was still faster. He leapt out of the way and then into the air towards the omnicrone. His mace was still driven into the stone floor, leaving him virtually defenseless. Not totally defenseless though: his other hand was still open. That is, until he gripped it around Cronos torso and began to squeeze. With his arm holding his sword held in check, pressed between his side and the omnicrones thumb, Crono could only watch as the Islar drew his weapon from the ground and prepared to bash it into the his skull. Crono was not just about to let that happen though. With his free hand, he shot another lightning bolt strait in to the omnicrones eye.
Upon feeling the initial damage of the blow, not yet realizing the permanent effects, the Islar dropped everything, Crono and his mace, and covered his eye with his hands. He pressed on it, hoping to relieve the pain. It did not. Instead, it opened up an opportunity for Crono to strike. He had been attempting to perform this skill ever since their cruiser was attacked. He had failed every time, but this was to be different. He leapt up into the air and came down hard, his blade cutting into the enemys helmet. It did not cut very far though, proving his skill ineffective. Too bad Crono sighed. Then he blasted the Islar with even another bolt of lightning. After all, he had yet to learn a second magic spell.
Knowing that this day would be his last, the Islar took up his mace and began swinging wildly, determined to take Crono out with him. Even though he was blind, one swipe came incredibly close, forcing Crono to jump back. There appeared nothing that Crono could do. The omnicrones quick blows formed a sort of shield in front of him, not allowing anyone to pass. There were certain things though, that could get past. Constantly using the same spell often became boring to Crono, that, and the fact that he had exhausted his magic supply, forced him to holler at another soldier to come to his aid. The third class warrior came carrying a long spear that he drove past the swinging mace and into the Islars chest. After receiving an ether from the soldier, Crono made his way down the hall.
Turning the corner again, he saw a corridor littered with the dead bodies of imps. Apparently, Fritz group had done an efficient job. Leaving the rest to the lower level soldiers, Fritz and Crono removed the false wall they had set up behind the Islar line that had planned on going through the mosque, thus disconnecting the circle they had placed that line in. Simply pushing the wall down, they then ran through the labyrinth until they found another battle where they could be of service. In this heated war zone, it did not take too long to find one.
Taking another turn, they came into a wide hall littered with bodies, of both Islar and Zeal. There seemed only to be one Islar in the vicinity that was still breathing. But that one was drastically decreasing the number of humans. After he cleared a blockade of soldiers with an explosion of dark energy, they could make him out clearly. Though he was hardly decked out in full armor, the sight was an intimidating one. He wore loose, black pants. Not chain mail, but cloth. Over his shoulders he had two, large, black metal plates that held onto a black cape flowing behind him. Other than that, his arms and chest were bare, revealing a dark skin, but not Islar skin, human skin. Though his skin was human, his head was Islar; rather, he wore a helmet that gave the appearance of a pitch-black ogre. Underneath however, was clearly human.
What was that? Fritz asked. I thought that was the Islar general Death Lock.
It is, but come on Not even an Islar mother would name her son Death Lock. Thats him alright, thats Jedd
Well who is Jedd?
Long story. Never mind that now. We have to kill him!
Okay, here goes nothing. They both raised their swords and darted at them. As they drew closer, Jedd suddenly glared at them. Although they were not paying attention to his eyes, they could tell that he was looking at them, but they did not care. They continued their attack, until they were hit by a huge block of ice that stretched across the entire hall.
Down on the floor, Fritz groaned. Ugh that hurt
Yeah, it didnt go so well. Crono agreed. Come on, lets get at it again.
Sure, right behind ya.
Crono got to his feet and ran towards the dark general, not noticing that Fritz was still lying on the ground. Crono raised his sword high, and dropped it low as he was blasted back by a giant fireball. Landing on the hard stone floor once again, he was greeted by Fritz. Welcome back.
It doesnt hurt any less the second time around.
I kinda guessed that. Now, we need a plan.
Then Lightning Strike, yeah. Lets get to it.
Again Crono got up, this time followed by Fritz. They, for the third and hopefully last time charged at Death Lock. When they were almost there, Fritz cast a fire spell, sending his flames into Cronos blade. Another block of ice flew at them, but Crono could get past it with his burning katana and Fritz blasted it with a fireball. They reached Jedd and began their attack. Crono spun around him, striking with his blade. When the flames died out, he shot a lightning bolt into Fritz own weapon, who then went into an incredibly quick dash and thrust his sword into the Islar.
Death Lock staggered backwards a step or two, but then regained his composure and let loose an explosion of dark energy. The blast knocked his attackers away, back down the hall. However, now they had hurt him, though only slightly, so he had to return the favor.
That hurt again Crono moaned.
Yeah. Its gonna take a lot longer to get up this time.
Longer than you think. The voice was dark, filled with hatred. The speaker, Death Lock then interrupted Cronos view of the ceiling. His hand stretched out, it seemed to gather dark energy from the air around. Then, it shot outward and a surge of black energy poured through Cronos body until it burst back out again and vanished, returning to the air from which it came. Cronos vision went black. Fritz ran over to him and felt his pulse, but there was not one to feel.
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