Adversary Chapter 6
Guardia Castle, 1004 A.D.
The general murmur produced by the individual conversations of the royal council members filled the stone chamber as the monarch and his daughter awaited the arrival of the last few delegates. It was a crisp fall day, the autumn season in its very prime, turning the leaves on the Great Sequoias outside the castle brilliant colors. The cool breezes blowing gently through the open windows served as a fortunate calming agent for those representatives with tempers known to flare up during the stifling summer meetings, when water became a precious commodity. At last, King Guardia brought his gavel down on the large oaken table, creating an authoritive "crack" that rang out through the chamber, silencing the delegates.
"Now then," He began, after taking a small drink of water and clearing his throat. "This meeting of the Guardian Royal Council will now commence. Chancellor, the agenda, if you will." The Chancellor bowed and lifted his paper, placing it in the King's right hand. "All right, the first order of business listed here is the absence of our kingdom's former champion, and present public enemy, Crono." He paused, looking over at his daughter, who was staring off into space, with a look of detest and hurt on her face. "Although his whereabouts are unknown, we know he has fled across the border to the city of Midgar, for he was sighted there by many. However, we believe that we do have some clout against him." He paused again, letting the intrigued voices linger slightly.
"We were able to apprehend his friend Lucca, and she is currently being held in the dungeon, under maximum security. I, and many of my advisors agree, that this is a move that could definitely draw Crono back, to a point where we may bring him into custody, and...deal with him from there." Before the king had even finished the word "there", there was an uproar of questions, protests, cheers, and shouts that made him cover an ear with one hand, and pound the gavel once again with the other. "Silence! Please, I will address each of you in due time! Captain? You may speak." The knight captain stood up, bowing slightly to the king.
"Thank you, your highness. Now sir, with all due respect, you know what happened the last time we attempted to arrest Crono. It was a total disaster! It may have cost both you and your daughter's lives! Crono may be young, but he is more powerful that anything we have within the walls of the entire castle!!" The captain shouted, loudly, but in a still-respectful manner. Another official nodded and stood up.
"He is correct, your excellency. Attacking him with our military forces would most likely be successful, but would surely result in the deaths of many fine officers. There is nothing we can throw at him that he won't hand us back in three pieces!" The king looked pensive, and then rose from his seat, nodding to both council members, asking them to sit back down.
"Well, then, it has come to my attention that the general consensus is that we are helpless against this...boy. This...peasant that defeated Lavos in the future, and then courted my own daughter, proving to be unfaithful, saying the least. Members of the council, this is exactly why I called this meeting. I have found a man, who has chosen to remain nameless at the moment, but claims he has the power to destroy anything! He says that he would be more that obliged to assist us in capturing Crono. And, judging by his appearance, I do so believe he could be the man for the job." He stated, gleefully. The room fell silent, wondering what was actually going on here. Was the "good king" going to hire an assassin to kill their former champion over some issues between he and the princess? Could they actually let their land's reputation be tarnished by such an act? Perhaps they should at least meet with this man first, and then make their final decision.
The great wooden doors at the end of the room, braced with steel bolts, slowly opened, and revealed what lay behind them. A hazing mist flowed into the room eerily, clouding the representatives' view of whoever it was in the doorway. The mist continued to seep into the room and evaporate, yet no figure emerged from the fog. The king began to feel the nervousness rising within him.
"Sir? Are you there?" He called. Some of the delegates chuckled, hearing the king address someone as "sir", yet they still awaited the answer. A rich, powerful voice soared from the doorway, through the entire room.
"Oh, was this my cue? Well, perhaps we could have cleared this up earlier." From the huge arched door, came a sight that struck both fear and awe into the hearts of those in the room. Standing over seven feet tall, made of solid muscle, and possessing long, thick strands of glistening silver hair, was the most impressive man they had ever laid eyes on. His black jacket was partially open, revealing some of his upper torso, and his arms were masked in thick leather gloves. Black cloth pants extended down to his tall leather boots, and at his side, was a thin, but cold and deadly sword, that seemed as long as a full-grown human. His pale green eyes looked condescendingly upon the room, and the council, including the king and his daughter.
"Will you have a seat, Mr., I'm sorry, what was your name again?" The king inquired, trying not to seem intimidated by the man's presence.
"Sephiroth." He stated, and then took a seat beside the king and princess. He couldn't help but notice the blonde girl's huge blue eyes, gazing longingly at him. She cautiously put her hand on top his, and said in her most seductive voice:
"I'm Princess Nadia." She tilted her head to the side, and bounced her hair playfully with one hand, waiting for his reaction. Sure enough, he turned toward her, and leaned in close, a chilling smile on his lips.
"Well then, Princess Nadia, would you be so kind, and do me a favor?" he asked her, most persuasively. The Chancellor pulled at his collar, not sure what to do.
"You just name it." She said, earnestly.
"Don't...ever...touch me again." He hissed, and he leaned back into his chair, and pulled his hand out from under hers. "Now then, gentlemen. I understand that we were going to be doing some sort of business today? Some runaway hero you want rubbed out, I hear. Well, before we begin, perhaps I should state that I do not work for free." The king nodded.
"Oh yes. Our treasury has got quite a surplus built up in it. We'll be happy to more than compensate you for your efforts." He made an offer that would drive most men to their knees with delight. Instead, Sephiroth shook his head slowly.
"No, Guardia. Not money. I have no need for it." The monarch and his advisors exchanged panicked looks.
"Well then, Sir Sephiroth, what can we give you as payment for your services?" A small, wicked grin formed on his face.
"I want land. Land and rescources, completely free of your taxation and authority." He answered, coolly. The chancellor was outraged.
"You want what? Sire, this is ridiculous! Handing over our beautiful land and resources to a strange man in exchange for Crono? Preposterous! Insane!" Sephiroth shrugged.
"If you don't want to make the deal, then you'll just have to get rid of Crono yourself." He stated, and he started to stand up.
"No! Sir, please. I'd be happy to grant you a fief as large as you like. We are in great need of your assistance." Again Sephiroth shook his head.
"No, Guardia. Not a fief. Land completely independent of you or your kingdom." He said in the same tone of voice. The king looked doubtful for a moment, and turned to his advisors, who shot him back the same confused look. Should he really do this? Could he trust this man? "I grow impatient, Guardia. Make your decision now." He demanded.
"Alright! Alright! I will forfeit a portion of land in exchange for Crono. Alive." Sephiroth nodded slowly.
"Good. I will bring him to you alive. Barely..." He muttered as he left the room. Again the king called him.
"Sir! Don't you need his description and all of his information? You're going into this completely blind!"
"I don't need any of your help, Guardia. Leave this to me, and me alone." He slammed the doors behind him, making everyone jump, relieved of his presence. For a good ten minutes, no one had any idea what to say. Sephiroth's visit had left them tongue-tied, and had pretty much adjourned the meeting with his departure. Finally, Nadia broke the silence, rising from her chair, adressing the council.
"Personally, I don't know why you're all so impressed with him. He's nothing but a tall guy in pressed clothing. I doubt we'll ever see him again." and with that, she turned on her heel, and left the room, eyes following her out the door. The chancellor groaned.
I hope you're right...
A groan of tedium escaped her throat as she lay on the inhumane excuse for a bed that they'd provided her. It'd been three days, and about eight hours that they'd kept her in this ungodly cell. Four sweltering, stifling days, and three dank, frigid nights she'd been through so far, and she had no idea when she'd ever see the outside world again. The princess ignored her pleas, her cries, her repeated attempts at explanation. Everything she'd said was met with commands to silence herself and listen to a royal tirade. Throughout these three and half days, she'd come to lose all respect for the princess, and her father, and her castle, their prison system, their prison guards, and their linens and bedding. All she could think about was a potential way to escape (which was hard to do, unarmed), and where in the hell her friends were, and why none of them had come to her assistance.
C'mon Lucca...use your head...there's gotta be a way out...there's always a way out...you're just not thinking right...calm down...
She rose up and paced around the eight-square-foot cell, avoiding the mold and revolting water that dripped from the kitchen above, through the pipes and ceiling, and finally into her cell. Lucca began examing everything in her cell, once again. She desperately searched for a loose brick, and hole in the wall, a loose bar in the door, a small piece of metal that could be used as a lockpick, anything that could put her one step closer to freedom.
Yet she still found nothing.
In a rage, she kicked the cement block walls, repeatedly, to the point where her left foot pounded with agony, and she was forced to sit back down, tears of frustration welling up in her eyes.
"This is insane. I'm not even guilty of anything...well, no, I'm sorry, I am guilty. Guilty of helping a friend. I wish someone had told me that it was a crime to help your friends...I would just have let his dumb ass lay there bleeding...ugh." She threw herself back onto the wooden "mattress".
"I can't belive this anyway...doesn't he know I'm missing? Doesn't he remember the time I didn't think twice about risking my own life to bust him outta this same stupid prison?"
"Don't you ever shut up? I mean, really." The hated voice came from the opposite side of the prison bars. She calmed herself with a deep breath before turning to face her once-called friend.
"I bet you're just loving this..." Lucca whispered grimly. The princess raised one penciled eyebrow.
"No, actually I'd enjoy it more if you wouldn't run off with my boyfriends." She smirked. Spiting the pain in her foot, Lucca struggle over to the bars, glaring into Nadia's face.
"One of these days, someone is going to put you in your place...you watch...and then you'll be so sorry you ever mistreated anyone!" The inventor hissed, instantly bringing a mocking laugh from the monarch's daughter.
"Right, I'm truly frightened, Lucca, truly frightened. I'll be more careful. In fact, I'll be so careful, I'll take away your rations for the next...two days! Thanks for the advice Lucca! See you later!" she cackled in her sugary voice as she skipped out of the room. In pure hatred, Lucca ripped and tore at the steel bars, rattling them, desperatly trying to shake them from their hinges, but to no avail. Sick with anger, and filled with hopelessness, she sank down to her knees, still clutching the bars.
God...let me out of here...please...let me out...help...me...
The wind whipped through his hair and his stomach turned in the sudden losses and gains of gravity as he hurtled through the air, and descended back down again. The constant onward rush of air made it awkward for him to keep his eyes open, but the incredible thrill of the whole experience made his discomfort seem trivial. So this was the feeling Leon was always raving about. This was the thing he'd claimed walking from Midgar to Cosmo Canyon was worth. Not that Crono actually knew what Cosmo Canyon was, or where it was in relation to Midgar, but he was sure that it would be worth it.
The wheels on his skateboard stopped rolling as he pounded his foot down on the pavement, becoming a human brake. He gasped and panted, having been "boarding" for over four hours, but still he could not wait to get right back up on the ramp and fly again.
"Woah, man...take it easy. I don't feel like picking you up after you pass out in the air." Leon cautioned him as he started to mount his skateboard again. "I'm gettin' totally beat anyway, dude. Let's pack it in for a day, okay?" Crono frowned.
"Ah, okay. Just one more run at it then." He took off before his friend could object, pushing as hard and fast as he could with his left leg. Back into the half pipe he bolted, cutting straight up the side, and spinning completely around before dropping back in. His martial arts skills definitely helped him in terms or speed, balance, dexterity, and raw endurance. Yet despite however physically primed he was, he still did not have the necessary experience to complete the actions he was attempting to complete. With an overstep, he missed landing on his board completely, and promptly smacked into the side of the ramp, skidding down its rough wooden surface, bolts and all.
"Ugh..." He grunted as he rolled over on his back, the midday sun blinding his eyes. As he lay, trying to ease the pain of his injuries by not moving a muscle, he noticed something looming over him, blocking out some of the sunlight. It was a large, dark shape, then there were two shapes, one much larger than the other.
"Is this what people do around here for fun? Throw their own bodies into crude wooden structures?" A voice answered. Who was that? It sounded so familiar. Then someone laughed, and Crono could tell that it was Leon after thinking for a moment, but he had no idea who the other person was.
"No, dude. Crono here just took a little spill. You'll be alright, won't ya?"
"Unnnh...yea..." Crono moaned, trying to agree, and trying to ignore the stars in front of his eyes. In an instant, two strong arms pulled him upward, and set him on his wobbly feet. When the blurry, bright colors in his eyes cleared, they were hit with a very startling image. A pale white face with sunken red eyes and high cheekbones, draped with frosty blue hair hung before him, his large gloved hand on Crono's shoulder. "Magus!" He exclaimed in shock.
"Hello, comrade. It seems like I came at a bad time." He smirked at the tears in Crono's clothing, and the friction burns on his arms.
"Yea, well...He's learning, blue dude...but, eh, what's up? You came from Guardia for a reason, right? Or are you just here to watch Crono screw up on a vert ramp?" Magus glared at Leon.
"I am Magus. That is what you are to call me, if you insist on calling me anything. I have a reason for everything I do and no, I'm not here to watch you injure yourselves." He said through gritted teeth. Leon's eyes widened, and he stepped back quite a distance.
"Hey, hey, calm down there, big guy...er...Magus. I was just funnin' with ya..." The mage grumbled.
"Well don't. Anyway...I need your help, Crono." The dazed young man cocked his head to the side and looked at him, confused.
"Eh? My help? With what?" Magus looked deep into his eyes, almost creepily, making Crono quite uncomfortable.
"It's about Lucca. She's in danger. I hear her in my dreams...she's crying out, begging for help...trapped somewhere...for something she's not at fault for. What do you think it means? Where is she?" Crono's face froze, stricken with terror. "What? What's going on? Where is she, Crono?" He demanded. Crono shook his head, his body shaking.
"Oh...no..." He murmured. Magus was on the brink of insanity.
"WHAT? What happened?! Where is Lucca??" Leon piped up.
"Um...Magus? I think he'd be able to answer you a little better if you'd stop shaking him like that...just a suggestion?" Magus sighed, and pushed the gathering sweat off of his forehead.
"Listen to me Crono. This is very important. Where is she?" he asked, stretching each word out, obnoxiously. Crono grabbed a thick spike of his hair and squeezed it tight, releasing some tension.
"Oh my god...I forgot all about her...ever since I've been here...so much has happened...and...I forgot all about my best friend! Magus! She's probably locked up in Guardia Castle somewhere!"
"What? Why in the hell would she be locked up in Guardia Castle!?" He screamed. The young man ran his hands down his face, struck dumb with reality.
"She...was treating a wound I had in the forest, when Marle comes along and sees her doing it, and thinks we're having some bizarre affair, and runs away into the castle. Next think I know, I totally forgot about Lucca, and I'm chasing after Marle, trying to explain, and she cries to her father to have me and Lucca locked up...and...well...I lost it." Magus looked at him, crossly.
"You lost it?" He asked. Crono nodded, sheepishly.
"I took the king and Marle hostage so that the guards wouldn't attack me, and I would up cornered by a window on the top floor of the castle spire. Next thing I know, I'm knocking out a guard with a chair, and I'm jumping out the window, climbing up onto the roof, and this huge storm hits...and then the rest is history." Magus wasn't satisfied.
"She saw Lucca treating your wounds, and she went berserk? That's not very plausible to me, Crono." The Kensai looked down.
"Well, y'know...I wasn't wearing a shirt, and she was on my legs, rubbing my chest, and...well...it felt pretty good...soo...uh..." At this point Leon was laughing so hard, Magus couldn't hear himself think, let alone Crono speak.
"Oh, dude! That is so rich! I can't believe it! That's too funny! Man, you musta felt like-" Magus was seconds away from strangling him to death.
"Will you shut your mouth?! I'm trying to concentrate, idiot!" Leon became instantly quiet, minus the brief, but extremely sincere apology he babbled.
"If she's in prison, Magus, then we've gotta help her! There might not be time!" Crono stated. Magus agreed.
"We'll assemble a small infiltration group, penetrate the castle, and escape with Lucca."
"Well, I'm sure as hell going, you will too...and that leaves..." Crono plotted.
"Count me in, man! I want some action too!" Leon begged. Magus scoffed at his plea.
"You? I wouldn't trust you with a pizza delivery, let alone a prison break." He looked down at his shoes, and then back up at Crono's face.
"How about it, bro? I can fight, really good too. I got these, see?" He brandished his metallic hands, making light fists, and putting them up in front of him. Magus scowled in disgust, but Crono looked on in interest. He'd been wondering what Leon's hands could do for a while, and he'd sure hate leaving a great weapon behind. Disregarding Magus' opinion, he said,
"Alright, you can come. But don't bite off more than you can chew. Be careful out there." He advised. Leon made a face, and waved his hand, dismissively.
"Don't worry about it. I'll be fine, you'll see." He said, directly to Magus, who was still glaring at him.
"Fine, you just better not get in my way." He threatened, menacingly. "Alright then, let's get going. We have to hurry. Every second we waste is one second closer to Lucca's death." He stated, and he moved onward, fully expecting them to follow, which they did. Making sure Magus could not hear him, Leon asked Crono,
"Dude, isn't like every second we waste one second closer to everyone's death?" Crono didn't respond, he just grinned subtley. He knew better than to test Magus' nerves too much.
The evening autumn blusters threw the long strands of grass this way and that as the three men trudged onward. They new they had a mission to accomplished, and they knew it had to be completed in a certain amount of time, for the life of one of their dearest friends was potentially in danger. The only problem with the whole situation, was that none of them knew exactly how to execute their plan, if you could even call their idea a "plan." Their idea was relatively simple: they were to infiltrate one of most heavily guarded buildings in the world, locate and liberate an imprisoned person (who's location was unknown to them at the time), and safely escape from the castle, making the journey back to Midgar, undetected. To say the least, they were slightly nervous about the night's events. Attempting to keep everyone calm, Leon would always keep a conversation going with one of his other party members.
"So, if you're like a wizard from four hundred years ago, what are you doing here in Guardia, year 1004...and how the hell did you get into Midgar?" To his surprise, Magus actually responded in somewhat of a civil manner.
"Ever since the battle with Lavos, which I'm sure Crono has raved endlessly to you about, I've been searching..." he trailed off, cryptic, as he was known to often do.
"Searching? For what?"
"For a person that once meant a lot to me, and still does. I've searched for years...on different worlds, in different times...even in different plains of existance."
"Plains of existance? Speak, like, in languages I can understand, man." Magus smiled, coldly, staring off at the tiny castle in the distance.
"Well, the known universe is made up of different plains. Each plain is like a little universe of it's own, and there's so many of them...it makes one realize just how insignificant he is...yet how significant he is at the same time..." Leon held his head in confusion.
"Woah...headache...anyway, how were you like, able to time travel and shit? That's like...totally impossible." Magus nodded.
"I know...yet I've been able to do it. Let's just call it a little 'gift' I have." Leon shrugged,and continued walking.
"Okay, suits me fine. So, Crono...you gonna ask that Yuffie chick out?" He pressed. Crono smiled, nervously, and he rolled is head from side to side, stretching out the muscles in his neck.
"Well...I dunno...maybe..." He thought, aloud. Why was Leon picking now of all times to put him on the spot about something? Magus cocked an eyebrow.
"Oh? Not wasting any time, are we Crono?" he chuckled. Crono flushed.
"Now, hey, just a minute. I didn't say-"
"Yea, boy! That's what I like to hear! Don't waste no time, dive right back in! Go for the big fish! Shoot for the-"
"Hey! Cut that out! I didn't say anything! I've still gotta think about it...ya know...'plastic bag'. Remember?" He reasoned. Leon shot a sidelong look at him.
"Yeah, I remember, dude...but...this is different. You've really got something good going for ya...don't blow it now, man! The chick digs you!" Crono's hand rubbed the back of his neck as his eyes darted back and forth.
"Yeah...I guess..." He stopped talking, and brough on a long period of silence which took them from their current position all the way to the great forests that surrounded the castle. Perhaps the silence was appropriate, because, although they acknowledged that their mission was risky, they had no idea that their actions would mean so much more than just whether they lived or died...
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