Chrono Shift Chapter 9
Candor had recently found a couple of older books written on magic that she had never seen before, and her nose was buried inside one of them when the rapping came from outside the door. She would rather have continued to be immersed by the passages explaining the Summons, but elected to answer the knocking anyway. Looking at the antique clock on her wall, she realized that it was time for a break.
Immediately after she turned the doorknob, the weight of the person on the other side pushed through the entry and turned to shut it behind him. The sudden forceful entrance startled Candor until she discovered the identity of the person who had come in. Augur, so nice of you to drop in. Next time try not to run me over on your way inside.
Sorry about that, Augur did not bother clarifying his statement, and even more oddly, turned around and proceeded to lock her doorway. Locks for civilians had been outlawed in Zeal for generations, but Candor trained people that would eventually hold highly respectably government jobs, and received a permit because of the indirect relationship. Candor also noticed that her former pupil was severely short of breath.
Ignoring the absurdity presented by him, Candor asked, So, how goes it? hoping to get more information. Augur looked back at her, and she could tell that he had some sort of serious business.
Well, in the last twenty four hours, Ive found out that my mother is dead, therefore leaving me homeless. I also watched the king kill himself by jumping off the island, and I was arrested for his murder, treason, and God knows what else shortly after. I was taken to a prison cell, which was quite elegant, in case you wanted to know, where I waited for hours to be questioned. Later, Dalton tried to kill me. Long story short, His eyeball is all over one of the side hallways in the royal palace, I lost both of my weapons, and I have an entire legion of very pissed off guards searching all over hell for me.
Wow, Candor stated, not exactly sure of how she should react. Thats a bad day if Ive ever heard of one.
Yeah, youd think that, but I actually found the whole experience rather soothing. It took Candor a second to catch on to the sarcasm in his statement. So can you hide me before my head is on a display case in the queens bedroom? I really do not want to die again, especially on my third day back on Earth.
Yes, of course. Follow me, Candor answered, turning to walk to some corner of her house. After a couple turns, she led him into a bedroom, more than likely her own, and told him to sit on the bed. I can just stay here with you for awhile. If anyone comes to the house, theyll have to knock first, and you can hide somewhere while I get rid of them.
Im surprised you dont want more details, considering that all this sounds pretty unbelievable.
Augur, Ive seen you come back from the dead, and compared to that, this is nothing. Besides, Im sure Ill hear the whole thing, because you probably arent going to leave this place for a long time. Itll take at least a year for something this big to blow over.
Yeah, and all in all, the issue of Seraph is going to complicate things more than Id like.
Candor nodded in response, Killing all the snowbeasts and icemen about a year back affected her pretty negatively. She had nightmares for a long time afterward, and probably still does. She paused a moment to gather her thoughts once again, then proceeded, Its strange, because she didnt seem to think twice about fighting, but in the end, it was just way to much for such a young child to take in.
Well, well have to tell her sometime, Candor. Im not sure how shell react to seeing me, after I so savagely decimated all those creatures. I did it without a second thought, but getting killed really does give you a greater appreciation for life, and thats why it was so much harder for me to fight against Dalton and two of his men earlier today.
Augur continued to reveal his problems, and in less than two minutes, the shouting of guards came from outside, pounding their fists on the door. Candor told Augur to hide himself in the closet on the far wall, then went to greet the pursuers. She hastily unbolted the lock and pretended to be surprised when she saw the men out there. Evening, Madam, said one of the officers, I see that youre locking your door.
I have a permit for it. Would you like to see it, Sir?
No, thats not what Im here for. Besides, I never really understood that law, anyway. Some people have secrets theyd prefer to keep as secrets, but that doesnt necessarily mean that their criminals. Candor nodded in agreement, as did once of the other officers. The reason that Im here is that we have a, well, minor situation. A prisoner escaped custody earlier today, and we saw him run into Enhasa, so were checking around to see if anyone knows anything.
Candor shrugged, No, Im afraid that Ive been inside all day, but if I find something out, Ill let you know.
The man were looking for has silvery hair, stands somewhere close to six feet with a medium build, and is somewhere in his late teens or early twenties. He is considered to be very dangerous, so I wouldnt recommend trying to apprehend him yourself.
Will do, Sirs, Candor rebolted the door immediately, and went back to tell Augur that it was safe to come out. Watching him crawl out made her realize that he did look rather old for a man of seventeen. I doubt that theyll come back, at least tonight, that is. Youll be safe for now, and Ive got more than one extra room that I dont use. The Zealian government treats its employees better than it probably should, but Im not complaining.
Augur agreed wholeheartedly. One never really could have too much of a good thing. Dont you worry that youre assisting a fugitive? Jesus, Candor, this is treason, no matter how you look at it. And it turns out that you dont even have to commit a crime to be arrested.
It just seems so hard to believe that the king is actually dead. Have they informed the locals about it yet, or are they keeping it quiet? Augur shrugged his shoulders, signaling that he did not have the slightest idea. Candor rubbed her eyes, already growing tired in mid afternoon, possibly from all the reading. Augurs story was pretty outrageous, and there would probably be a reward for turning him in, but Candor did not just betray her friends for money. Did this kid really have it in him? If he did, how did he set it all up? Everything seemed fishy, and it was more than possible for the powers that be that were running the kingdom to just use a scapegoat to avoid humiliation. Candor worked for them, so she knew how it was done. Alright, she said, in her no nonsense sort of voice, Tell me what happened.
Augur went about discussing all the events from Astra and Grennich to King Zeal and the incident with Dalton, avoiding the details about Lavos, for the obvious reasons. It would be pathetic if he blew his mission with more than nine years left until he had to correct time. Afterward, Augur ate a hearty meal prepared by his host, and tried sleeping. It was pretty amazing how quickly fighting for your life can make you forget about your dead mother. He did dream during the night, but he could not remember any of it, except for an image of an exploding eye, which embedded itself in his brain when he woke up.
Candor had breakfast ready for him when he walked out into the kitchen. It consisted of food made from organic materials, mostly fruits, from around the floating island. It was a good thing, too, because Augur had not cooked much of anything in his life. Candor informed him that today would be the day that Seraph would be back, and they had an argument about what they should tell her and how they should tell it to her. It was agreed to say nothing about the incident with the king or Dalton, since a child didnt pay much attention to such things. She probably wouldnt even give it a thought. As far as how they should tell her about Augur being alive, that was the source of a substantially longer discussion. After contemplating the problem for nearly an entire hour, they eventually decided that the best way would be to just let her walk in and see him. After that, Augur and Candor had to tell her as much of her former classmates return as she could comprehend. Once they had sorted all the details out, the next two hours flew by, despite the anticipation.
At last Augur heard the almost unfamiliar voice of her father, and seconds later, Candor greeted the little girl in the next room. Augur sat on a desk used for writing and awaited the entrance of the girls. Candor came first and walked around the corner, and Seraph stopped in her tracks when she saw him.
My, you sure got big, Augur noted, seeing that she had grown at least three or four inches in the past year. Seven years old now, she was still very much a child, and although she probably figured out the state of affairs, she did not understand them. Her features were still pretty much the same, with medium colored brown hair down to her shoulders and sapphire eyes. Naturally she was extremely confused, but Candor told her to sit down. Im glad that you remember who I am, Augur said, simultaneously anticipating her response. She didnt speak a word, acting just as shy as when he had last met her.
After five or so minutes, Seraph finally settled, and Augur began to tell his tale, in a dummied down approach. Surprisingly, she both accepted and acknowledged it. Augur could tell that she had also become more intelligent, but that was to be expected with someone working so robustly with magic. Even more startling, once Seraph began to understand everything, she became much more sociable.
The operating room smelled of dried blood from the recent operation, and the rookie surgeon had done quite well. Of course, much of this could be credited to the veteran guiding him the entire way. It was still a surprise that they had let his apprentice do the work for such an important person in the kingdom, but then again, this man arguably was the most overrated, overpaid, underachiever in Zeal. The surgeon, however, knew that all the stories about him had been greatly exaggerated, thanks mostly to his love of alcohol and his ladys man reputation that had almost become a perverted obsession as he grew older. Dalton was no longer in his sexual prime, but he would never admit that himself.
Uuugh, the patient mumbled, waking up. He would still be heavily medicated until the doctor cast a spell on him to confiscate the effects. A noble combination of both magic and surgery could not save the eye, and he would never be able to see out of it again. Worse yet, the eye socket had warped, leaving the organ sullen and disfigured. It would be a fright to any small children, and would probably be a hindrance to his dating skills, so an eye patch would be a priority. The physician removed the consequences of the anesthetics, and then wet a rag and placed it on the mans forehead.
Whats going on? Where am I? Dalton asked, bewildered and baffled by his surroundings.
Greetings, Dalton. I am Doctor Reinhart, the top medic in Zeal. You are experiencing some trauma, but your memory should return shortly. I could not save your eye, so you will be blind on that side for the rest of you life. There was too much material missing to piece it together.
WHAT!? My eye? Dalton put his hand up to his face to see for himself, and felt the blemished tissue there. Testing his sight, he discovered that, indeed, he had vision on only one side.
Your depth perception will be severely impaired from now on, and I strongly urge you to wear an eye patch so that you look presentable. I will be keeping you here for at least three days so that you can fully recover, in a special care center. Even after the doc lifted the spells of the medication Dalton was still rather woozy, and it did not take too much extra strength to get him into his personal treatment area. Keeping him there for more than a day would be a hassle, but if he left and experienced problems later, well, it was his own damn fault for not listening. Security was low because clinics really did not need high security, at least not in Zeal.
After he had finished escorting him to his room, Doctor Reinhart returned and sprayed a wet towel with some disinfectant, which really didnt do anything since the antiseptic wasnt really tested, but some of the other doctors claimed it worked. To Reinhart, the anodynes used simply did not have the right chemicals or biological factors to fight bacteria. Besides, hed always used water, and never had any serious infections because of the room.
At the same time, an orderly worked on Dalton, injecting some unknown substance into his arm and placing a catheter in his groin. She didnt like how the patient was smiling while her hand was reaching under his robe, but business is business, so she continued. Dalton winked at her as she fiddled around his inner thighs, saying, Hey, there, baby! Whats your innate? Next time, Ill give YOU the suppository!
After the discussion with Seraph, Augur was having his first class in a year, and couldnt believe how far behind he had fallen. Rusty skills aside, Seraph pulled off things that he didnt dream of doing, at least not before he left for the heavens. The session was grueling, and several hours of exploiting his powers wore Augur down rather quickly. Candor happened to be years ahead of both of them, and there were parts of the spellbooks that he couldnt even imagine achieving. Well, that was to be expected from a woman who was one of the top ten magicians in the world. After the lesson ended, Seraph left and Augur stayed behind, keeping hidden from the outside world.
So, Augur began, Are you sure that you want me to be here? I mean, I really dont want to drag you down with me if they catch me.
Candor was an incredibly bright person, and she did not have to be told of the risks. Seriously, Augur, there isnt a place in the entire kingdom thats going to be more safe than my house. If you were to sleep anywhere else, youd likely be discovered by some greedy citizen and be turned in for a reward. The only other place you could go would be the Earthbound Caves, and Im sure thats out of the question.
Augur nodded reluctantly, Candor, Im already dead. I dont want to be miserable, too. Candor glared at him, seemingly offended. Come on, youve seen that place, and its a nightmare, with all the poverty and discrimination. Ive got nothing against the people; I have spent some time there. They have good reason to be spiteful to us because of what we did to them, but the bottom line is that its a squalid hellhole, and I really have no desire to spend years living in it.
Candor wasnt comfortable with the terminology that Augur had used, even though it suited the place well. Augur saw this and decided to change the subject. Candor, one of the creatures I met spoke of magic associated with Lavos. He, at least, I believe its a he, said that people can use magic that was created by Lavos, and not by drawing energy from the world around them. I also heard something about this being more powerful than the natural element magic system that we use.
I know that there is something of the sort related to Lavos. After all, how else would we be able to harness the power to keep Zeal floating? I dont think that humans can use it, at least not directly. Augur figured that she didnt know the truth. What did Glock say about the color-based elements in the Valley of the Lost Souls? He thought he remembered him mentioning something about the various loopholes in time placing the system in the past and Zeal adopting it. Still, for that to happen, someone would have had to place them in the past, and there didnt seem to be any logical explanation for doing this. Well, time has a nasty habit of handing out excruciating migraines to anyone who tries to understand it. He was beginning to get one now, and this happened to be much lighter than the conversations hed had on the topic in the Afterlives. Augur discarded his thoughts and lied down to bid farewell to the headache, and dozed off in the process.
In the morning, Candor and Augur decided that if they were to have any chance at living a normal life, something had to be done about Augurs fugitive status. They came up with a plan to fake the death of the boy, which would essentially acquit him of all charges. Making a public display would be too hard, and they also had to confront the problem of the body. The best way to get rid of a body would be to toss it off a cliff, and although that would seem suspicious, considering the way King Zeal died, they didnt have other options. Candor would file a false police report on the issue, and the guards would do their duty and investigate. The report was set up to lead them to a witness, a man who had been specially selected as old and feeble minded, but appeared intelligent enough to know what he saw. Simply casting a specific spell on the man caused him to say what Candor and Augur wanted. If everything worked as planned, the guards would run around in circles and eventually give up, concluding that Augur had either died or disappeared off the island. Of course, some would always remain skeptical, especially the ones like Dalton, but no plan was perfect. And the risks involved with this operation would be less than the risks involved in keeping an escapee in Candors house forever. Besides, the plan had more to do with making the general populace believe that Augur was gone, not the royal guards of the kingdom. If the townsfolk thought that he had died, then they wouldnt report him when they saw him wa! lking around.
So, how long before we put this thing into action? Augur initiated.
Well, Candor deliberated, I want to seem as inconspicuous as possible, so I say anywhere from three to four weeks. I should be able to hide you out until then.
Augur agreed, and they stuck with their strategy. Twenty-four days after the agreement, Candor filed a false report, and disguised the handwriting with magic. It could be detected, but only by someone who happened to be looking for it. For the next two or three weeks, the entire government was in an uncontrolled frenzy about the whole thing, and while no one in the upper hierarchy with half a brain believed it, the majority of the public accepted it because of the limited amount of facts that were administered to them.
The fiasco about The Assassin, as Augur had unofficially become known as, wasnt the only thing stirring up the entire Kingdom of Zeal. The queen kept adjusting to her new duties, doing quite well for her first month, but that wasnt the source of the gossip. Although most people were trying their best to avoid saying anything, mostly due to the request of Queen Zeal, information had somehow slipped that the Royal Highness had a bun in the oven. Based on how far along she was, many people were guessing that she had caught a silver bullet on the last night of the kings life.
Some very astonishing developments took place in the search for the killer shortly thereafter. The government made sure that no rumors of the kings suicide circulated throughout the dynasty, because that would most certainly demoralize the entire nation. Officially, they stated that there was no danger from the killer, and told the citizens that The Assassin had been killed because of a mistake on his part while trying to evade authorities. Unofficially, as Candor had discovered, they had no idea what the hell was really going on. Unpredictably, someone had actually checked the letter, and actually found the magic covering the true handwriting. It had worried Augur for a while, but they could not trace the magic back to the one who cast it. Candor had done a good job wiring together the spell, because even the gurus had yet to dispel it.
The old man that Candor had selected to manipulate hadnt been as good of a choice as she had hoped for. Turns out that the elderly man had been so mentally impaired that he did not even remember his name when asked by authorities, which immediately blew the inconspicuousness Augur and his teacher had aimed for. Right away the royal guards of Zeal knew that something, probably a cover up, was taking place. However, the mans state of mind had a positive impact on the conspiracy, and the entire kingdom ended up scratching its head.
Months continued to pass, and as more and more time went on, the danger of Augur being caught continued to lessen. Now, if he were ever to be captured, there would be no public notification of the event. The long evasion period would hurt Zeals credibility if they revealed the amount of time it had taken to apprehend the felon, not to mention that they would have to admit lying directly to the people. One thing that the Kingdom of Zeal always seemed to worry about was its image, which was strange because not very many people would relocate in the Earthbound Village if they became angry at the Kingdom.
Six months after the incident, Candor came home to greet Augur and informed him that Queen Zeal had officially called off the search. She said that it was time to move on, and hearing about the unpleasant episode day in, day out, for such a long time did not help her get over it. However, the Law of Unintended Consequences reared its ugly head, and out of the ordeal a new order of law enforcement had been erected to serve and protect the kingdom.
Codenamed the Omega Reaper, this agency was composed of all the best men and women Zeal had in the line of fighting, magic, and investigation. Candor was not cleared into it, but had found out using the ancient art of eavesdropping. The Omega Reaper soon became the highest division of the old peacekeeping force, the Zealian Holy Guards. Omega Reaper, as far as those outside of it were concerned, did not exist. Every operation that they were involved in was reported as a project that the Zealian Holy Guards were involved in. While technically this statement was accurate, it did not give any credit to the secret organization, thus hiding it from the public. Candor had been offered a job, which at the time had been described vague enough as to not let her figure out what was really going on, but she declined.
Omega Reaper forced the former head of the ZHGs to come out of retirement to head the outfit, and the current leader of the Guards also left to join. This created an opportunity for Dalton to snatch up the job and lead the official judicial system in Zeal. Dalton also became a lower member of the Reaper, and would be called to duty whenever needed, although he was not officially in. The three gurus were also part of it, but like Dalton, they were not legitimately members of it. But then again, nothing about the entire bureau was legitimate. Other than the aforementioned names, there were twelve more persons that were part of the team.
Candor, Augur declared, I dont like the thought of this new organization. I have a feeling that their top priority is me.
Well, I wouldnt say that youre wrong, but how much longer can they lull over you, trying to find you. We confused them pretty good with the whole letter and old man scheme, even if it didnt happen exactly like we expected it too. Id say that youre through the hardest part.
Yeah, I know, but still Augur trailed off. Oh well, I guess I have to start going back outside sometime. I also need to get a new set of rapiers, since my old ones are still with the big boys in the palace. Do you think I could get a price on some dreamstone blades?
I dont know if thats such a good idea, Augur. Not many people chose short swords as their weapon choice, and they know that their favorite little fugitive does.
Augur thought about this for a minute. Well, if I go to Melchior, he shouldnt recognize me. Heck, the only one that would is Dalton, and I dont think its too likely that Ill run into him.
Candor sighed. Alright, I suppose that I cant stop you, so go ahead. Just be careful.
Augur acknowledged the comment, and then left Candors house with nothing more than some gold pieces he had received from various places in the past few months. A minute later, he was out of Enhasa, heading up the long, winding dirt path to the palace. Sure, he could just as easily have bought them in Enhasa, but the selection and quality just didnt live up to the weapons made in the royal city. Kajar actually had even better blacksmiths, but Augur never liked Kajar all that much, even though he really didnt have a reason.
Augur ran uphill for some exercise, something he hadnt received a lot of since his run in with the law. He found himself very short of breath by the end of the jog, and stopped to rest and wipe the sweat from his forehead before entering the gates of the palace. Despite the events with the late King Zeal, security had not been increased very much.
Melchior, the renowned weapon expert, was apparently off at some meeting with the other two gurus at the time. The merchant sold the arms directly out of his personal house, and did not require an appointment to see him. Instead of waiting around for him to return, Augur thought that it would be better to leave the capital city before someone like Dalton happened to walk by and arrest him.
Can I help you? Augur turned to see the origin of the voice, and found the sage he was searching for right behind him. Ive just returned from a tedious conference, sorry that I wasnt here before, Melchior reported, confirming the note on his doorway.
Yeah, I was wondering if I could buy a weapon or two, but I dont want to bother you if youre
Nonsense! The man interjected. I always have time for my customers. Come right in, and well see what I can do for you. Augur obeyed and followed him into his home. Melchior led him around a corner and down a hallway. Once they were inside a room on the left, Augur could see a giant mess of cluttered materials, from papers to strange chemicals to raw materials, and some things that he had never seen before. The elder sat on a chair, So, what were you looking for?
Actually, I want a pair of short swords, half swords, actually. Well, not quite half, but almost.
Okay, I can do that. Anything special? What do you want them to be made out of? Do you want some sort of design on them? They would be good for showing off that way, but it would greatly inhibit your skills with them.
Augur thought about it for a few seconds. Well, Im looking for some sort of offensive tool, an actual weapon, not a decoration, thats relatively strong. Made of copper or iron, probably, but I would like some dreamstone in it. I want to spoil myself a little bit.
Melchior made some calculations in his head. I can give the entire sword a dreamstone covering, which would make it very resistant to damage, but that will be a bit more pricey. The other option you have is to have the edges encrusted with the dreamstone, which doesnt help much with the durability, but makes it much more powerful when it cuts something.
Hmm, I think Ill just let you coat the edges. I dont need a design on them or anything. Like I said, I need them as a weapon. I would like to have it useful for stabbing just as much as for striking or slashing, and if possible I dont want them to be overly heavy.
What about the handle? Is there anything in particular that you want done with that? Augur couldnt believe how good Melchior was as a salesman, and he seemed to be able to work miracles with the weapons. He was going to end up with the perfect rapiers for him.
I dunno, I guess I just want the handle to be comfortable, so made of something like leather?
Actually, I have a special material that molds to your hands when you grasp it. Itll cost you, but its real nice. To prove his point, Melchior held out a slab, and Augur put his hand down. Everything that the guru said about it had been true. The material was extraordinarily firm, yet soft and comfortable.
Whatll this bring my price up to? Augur asked. Melchior grabbed a paper and started scribbling some notes on it, no doubt computing the total price. Eventually he slid it across the table, seeing notes about the different things he requested and amounts for raw materials and such. Augur gasped when he saw the total fee. I can get everything that I asked for that cheap?
Melchior nodded, I get my stuff straight from the source, and I can cut costs considerably. All Ill need is your name to confirm your purchase, and youll get a copy in case I lose it, which, regrettably, has happened a couple of times. Augur complied, following his instructions. One more thing, youll have to pay in advance, because if I make it and you dont show to collect it, I just get screwed out of money. Augur emptied his pockets, and paid the amount due. Melchior thanked him for his business. His customer was about ready to leave when Melchior shouted to him, Hey, dont I know you from somewhere?
Augur froze in his tracks, nearly soiling himself, and his entire body grew painfully stiff. Oh shit, he thought, beginning to sweat from a rising fear. He knows He knows who I am, and he just busted me. Um, I guess it could be possible Augur admitted, prepared to run if necessary.
Yes, yes, I do know you. Youre the boy that we picked up from the Earthbound Caves all those months ago. Thanks again for your help with that mission. Augur breathed a huge sigh of relief, waiting for his heartbeat to return to its normal pace.
Yeah, that was me. Dont thank me for it, Id be glad to do it again. Melchior tried to engage in further conversation, but Augur faked a severe need for a restroom, and left the palace posthaste. When he returned to pick up his new weapons, he would make sure to be much more careful. If that had been one of the guards who he managed to escape from, he wouldnt have been nearly as lucky. Surviving one close call was enough for any day, and Augur headed back to Candors home in Enhasa, where he would rest and calm down from the scare. Now on the way home, he discovered that he really did have a severe need for a restroom.
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