Adversary Chapter 7

By Triad

Guardia Castle, 1004 A.D. 

Young Sir Maxwell gripped the leather-strapped handle of his steel-tipped spear as Leene's bell rang in his ears. He sighed as the chimes marked nine o' clock sharp, calling for a change of the castle guard. It had been another long shift of waiting...and waiting...for nothing. An extremely capable young man such as himself should not be confined to manning the wooden doors of the castle for hours, letting the occassional messenger through. Where was the action he was promised by the Knight Captain? When would he get the chance to prove that he was willing to defend the kingdom at all costs? He was indeed patient, and very dedicated at that, but sometimes the monotony of his job got to him. It consisted of a lot of standing around, protecting an inanimate object, and recieving regular commendations from the Captain about "what a good job" he'd been doing. As it turned out, and untrained dog could've done it just as well, which made him feel very valuable indeed.

He rolled his eyes and turned towards the great doors, fishing through his pockets for the key. He had just inserted the jagged metal into the rusting iron lock, when he heard the voice of a stranger behind him.

"Aloha, dude! How's the guarding tonight?" Maxwell spun around to face the visitor, startled at his sudden presence.

"Who goes there!?" He shouted. A young man was standing about three feet away from him in the dim pool of light, cast down from the electric torches on the castle roof. He had odd blonde hair, and wore very strange clothing to be from this area.

"Woah, calm down." The man held up his hands, revealing that no weapon was in them, yet also revealing their odd metallic shine. Maxwell's eyes bulged in shock.

"Who are you!? What business do you have here, sneaking up on me like that!?" He shreiked, shaking the point of the spear in the young man's face. The visitor smirked.

"Well, I just wandered over and decided that I was gonna inform you that your ass has an appointment with the floor in about...oh...five seconds?"

"What are you talking about, stranger? You speak in an odd tongue! Wha...what's going on h-...ungh!!" He was silenced as the intruder smashed his hard, cold fist into his chin, splitting the skin on his face to the crushed bone, and sending his body straight into the rough stone wall of the castle.

"Hah! Out like a sucker." He though he heard the man say. His closed eyes were blinded by a sea of white stars flashing as they flew through his head. Although his face was completely numb, he could feel the blood dripping from his chin, and soaking into his royal blue uniform. Whoever that strange intruder was, he was extremely dangerous, and Maxwell knew he had to alert the others...but how? He couldn't see straight, let alone see much of anything, and his body felt like it had been crushed under a boulder, leaving him crippled and broken.

He tried to make his eyes focus, tried to keep them open long enough to absorb an image, so that he might have an idea what was going on. The guard had to move his aching head from side to side in order to control which direction he was looking in. Catching a brief glimpse, he could only tell that his assailant was standing over him, staring at him, with an obvious frown on his face.

"I can't believe're still awake. Like, no one takes a Leon Special and isn't drooling and unconscious before they hit the ground. My aim musta been off." Maxwell mustered his strength, and was able to get out a few barely intelligible words.

"Youuu...inthruderr...youu wonn gat uwway wit thishh..." Leon rolled his eyes.

"Sure, sure, that's what they all say. Now hold up, ya won't feel a thing." He brought his steely hand to the squirming guard's neck, and squeezed the area between his throat and shoulder, sending the body into short convulsions.

Maxwell felt the nerves in his shoulder overload with intense pain and stimulation, and he slowly blacked out, feeling a lot of pain indeed, much to the contrary of what his assailant had promised him.

"Oh yea, waiter, check the tab on phase one, I believe you'll find it marked 'Complete' under 'Alazane'! Hahaha! Go Leon! Go Leon!" He whispered to himself in somewhat-silent victory, as he dragged the body out of sight, preparing for the next stage of the plan.


The reflections of the dim lights shone in the polished wood on the table, she noticed, as her cloth squeaked and dragged along the sparkling surface of another clean glass. It was two hours to opening, and she was preparing early like she did every Friday night. She knew Yuffie was the most stressed out of the two of them, though, having developed an instant liking for a new face from out of town. And so she sat, her foot tapping anxiously against the counter, creating a constant "thud" that reverberated throughout the empty bar.

"So...y'think he might come in tonight?" She asked for the fourth time today. Tifa smiled and shook her head, her raven hair falling over her shoulders.

"Hmm...if he's got the guts to face you in front of everyone after the spectacle you two made of yourselves last week." Yuffie frowned.

"Well, gawd, Teef! People kiss! It ain't that strange." Tifa looked over at her, slyly.

"People usually have a conversation before they make out like teenagers in public." Just like the last three times, she looked down at her feet, ashamed of last week's hasty actions on her part.

"I...I was a little quick...I just..."

"A-ha! So you admit it!" Tifa shouted, out of the blue.

"Admit what?" Yuffie was unsure of what Tifa was getting at.

"That you jumped right in, went right for it. Skipped the greetings and went right for the tongues, eh? You little ninja, you!"

"Well...I dunno. It was weird. It's like, for a few hours I was just there, watching everyone party, watching all these couples dancing and having fun...and I just felt so lost and outta place. And then, just, like kind of a coincidence, I see this guy walk in, and he's got this shy look on his face, like he feels just as lost as I do, like maybe he understands what it's like to be the odd one out. And well, so, I just stare at the guy, not sure what he'll do, expecting all these little blondes and brunettes to swarm all over him and that skater kid he came with. But then, it was like someone answered a prayer of mine, and he walked right over to me! Tifa, his friend just pointed him at me! Of all people! And then, know the rest. But it felt so right, Tifa, it felt so right. I didn't feel, y'know, like some slut...I felt so comfortable with him. I just looked into, and saw his nervous smile...and I could've died..." Her eyes got that glassy look in them, and she stared of into space. Tifa laughed and tossed her head back, setting the last glass back into the rack.

"Well, I can understand. I feel that way about Cloud too...although sometimes I wish he'd just shut up and hold me, instead of acting all tough about it. But I love the guy to death, I really do." Yuffie nodded.

"Y'see, Teef, in those few minutes we spent just looking at each other, we said more than we could've said in hours of you get what I'm saying?" Tifa leaned over the countertop, looking the girl in the eyes.

"Yuffie, plain and simple, you're my best friend. I totally understand you, and I'm really happy you met someone like Crono, someone good for a change." They laughed, remembering Mick and the other sleazes, cons, and downright losers she'd flirted with in the past.

"I really hope I see him again soon, Teef. I hope he shows up tonight...although...wait...didn't your husband say he was gonna be here too?" She groaned. Tifa laughed.

"Yeah, he might pop in, just to make sure that everything's 'A'ok!', and hopefully not pick another fight with Crono. But they talked a little bit after the scrap, I made 'em realize what idiots they were, although I doubt they'll be close friends anytime soon."

"Yeah...speaking of that fight...did you see those moves Crono knew? He's like an expert or something! He just like, outta nowhere pulls this Dtuiyu Yup Chaki, while spinning around, and lands it perfectly! I couldn't believe it!" Yuffie marvled at his skill, dreamily, while Tifa looked at her blankly.

"Deetooyo Yap what? You say that like I know what the heck it is! There you go again with your 'traditional technique names'." She rambled. Yuffie held up her hands.

"Okay, okay! I'm sorry. That 'flying side kick' he pulled." Tifa looked content.

"That's better. And, yeah, it was pretty amazing. Cloud still has headaches from time to time." She giggled.

"I've never seen Cloud so damned viscious before. I mean, sure he's gotten angry, but even when he was fighting Sephiroth, he was still composed and focused. The other day he was like some pissed-off caveman! And it was over stupid crap, too." Yuffie pondered. Tifa agreed.

"Yeah, well, they pull some stunt like that again, and we'll just have to give them both an ass-whooping they'll never forget." She grinned. Yuffie slapped her hand down on the counter.

"You can say that again, sister! Say, can I get a refill on this soda?"

"Sure thing." her friend answered, putting the empty glass under the spigot. Yuffie began tapping her foot against the bar again, obviously something on her mind.

"I wonder where he is right now..." She started.


"Crono. I wonder what he's up to just about now. Probably training...or meditating. Yeah, something like that. He's gotta be such a dedicated martial artist..."

"Or, knowing Leon, they're most likely either skateboarding in the park, surfing at the beach, sleeping one off, or making mischeif somewhere. Most likely the last one." Yuffie was surprised.

"Crono? Getting into trouble with Leon? Nah, I doubt it." She assured herself. Tifa smiled and shook her head once again. Whatever she said was going to go in one ear, and out the other.

"Well, I guess we'll just find out then, won't we?"

"Yeah, you're right. I should stop stressing out over it. After all, I will see him again." She reasoned. Tifa clapped her hands.

"Thank you for finally realizing that. I was afraid I'd have to employ the rubber mallet." She laughed. Yuffie grinned, embarrassed, yet she kept wondering.

Geeze...I really wonder where he is...what he does with his time...ah, well. It's midday, he's probably relaxing somewhere... 


A grunt of frustration passed through his lips as he buckled down and threw his left arm up, feeling for another space in the stones on the wall. Although he'd never have expected it, scaling up the side of the castle spire was one of the hardest and most exhausting things he'd ever done. The newly-applied grout and mortar between each brick made it extremely difficult to find a recess deep enough to put in hands and feet in, and make his way up to the next handhold or foothold. His lack of proper climbing equipment and the great height of the structure he was attempting to climb all added to the seeming impossibility of the task at hand.

"Son of a bitch!!" He hissed, harshly, as his foot slipped yet again, and he redoubled his efforts just to stay balanced in his current position. There still was about another twenty or so feet for him to climb before he reached the area where he could make a jump to the flat roof of the main building, from where he could finally take the weight of his body off of his hands, and rest for a few moments. He could only hope the others were having an easier time than he was.

Leon's job was probably the easiest of the three, naturally. They'd chosen to start him off with an easier task, one not as monumental as their own, so that if any mistakes were made, the losses were bearable. His job was to knock out the most incompetent looking guard he could find, steal his uniform, and pose as a soldier of Guardia just long enough for them to break Lucca out of prison. Once in diguise, Leon would casually find out just exactly where she was being held, and then notify Crono. When Crono knew exactly where and when to find her, Leon would then sound a false alarm, leading the guards off into another part of the castle, buying enough time for Crono to free his friend, and hand her over to Magus, who would then cast a teleportation spell out of the castle.

Unfortunately, Crono's job was probably the most difficult of the three. It was his responsibility to keep an eye on Leon, while still not being seen himself, to relay the information to Magus once it was obtained, and to physically remove Lucca from prison. On top of everything else, all of this was to be accomplished without any special equipment besides the clothes on his back, his sword, and and empty stomach. He was relentlessly battered with hunger pangs, and lightheadedness, but still he pressed on, knowing what must be done...

"Finally!" He grunted, reaching for the ledge of the low roof. With a heave, he flung the rest of his body over the side, laying flat down, catching his breath, and relishing in the relief of the stress on his tired, tired muscles. He lay there for over fifteen minutes, the afternoon sun high in the sky. It had been about seventeen hours since Leon had commenced the mission, and so far, nothing had gone wrong. Hopefully.

Once sufficent oxygen had coursed through his body, and reached his brain, he reluctantly climbed back up on his feet. His toes ached with a bitter vengeance for having been made to climb over a hundred feet straight up, without stopping to rest, or a relief of the stress on his limbs. Nevertheless, he crept silently along the stone lower roof of Guardia Castle, taking every possible precaution not to be revealed. He knew the stained glass skylight in the ceiling of the Great Hall should be close by, but he also was well aware of the fact that the sound of footsteps on the roof would create a definite commotion in the rooms below. There was only one thing to do.

Putting his dignity aside, he slid forward, laying flat on his stomach, arms at his sides. Pathetically slithering like a deranged snake, he inched his way forward, coming closer to the multicolored glass with each motion. He'd been in the Great Hall before, and the acoustics created by the vaulted cielings and cold, stone walls could reveal the presence of a few tiny pebbles bouncing against the roof, let alone an exhausted Kensai's bumbling.

Due to the fact that stained glass is dyed different colors, and is usually textured and ridged, it is very difficult to see through. This was just occuring to Crono, as he wondered how he was supposed to keep and eye on Leon through a stained glass window. He luckily found an answer in the clear, flat glass border around the window, which would provide enough space for Crono to peer through, while still not being seen from the inside. He held his breath as he leaned in close, and began his observation.

Crono had no problem spotting Leon, being that he was the only bleached-blonde guard with visible brown roots in the entire castle. He instantly clamped his open hand over his mouth, stifling an outburst of laughter. His friend was standing off in the corner of the room, trying his hardest to primarily not be noticed by anyone, and secondarily, to look as official as possible, should anyone notice him. The sight of a young, rebellious man who'd spent half of his life on a skateboard that was trying to fit into the ranks of an overly-formal castle, was one that would inspire most anyone to laugh like crazy. However, after he'd stopped chortling, he noticed something very important about Leon's posture.

His hands were jammed into his pockets, and his body swayed from side to side, the exact signal he was supposed to be giving when he'd obtained the correct information, and was ready for Crono to come to him. The Kensai sighed, and slowly turned around, being careful not to scrape or drag his sneakers against the roof (he'd taken to wearing clothing typical of citizens of Midgar his age, so he wouldn't seem odd to anyone, despite his hair.)

It was times like this that he wished he'd become a ninja, trained in the arts of silence and infiltration. However, he wasn't much for being a thief or assassin, and was much happier as the katana-weilding martial artist he was.

But some damn climbing spikes and rope wouldn't hurt...oh yeah, and maybe some food and water...that'd be nice...


He squirmed uncomfortably in the stiff, hardwood chair, trying to relax. He hoped Crono would get here soon, because his lack of "class" and "proper manners" were really starting to become obvious to those around him. Not to mention the fact that Sir Maxwell's blood had dripped onto the lapel of the uniform, and Leon had spent half his time either crossing his arms over his chest, or stuffing the stained portion of fabric beneath the other side of his shirt. Luckily, the uniform came with brown cloth gloves, which did a good job of hiding his very conspicuous hands.

The nervous young man couldn't remember just how many times one of the other legitimate guards had shot him disdainful looks, or remarked upon the fact that "they'd never seen him here before", to which is response was "I'm Sir Leonard, I'm new here." With that, he'd proudly smile, and walk away, hoping no one would consult the rosters, and find that no such Sir Leonard existed within the forces.

Surprisingly, obtaining the location of Lucca's whereabouts was not a particularly difficult task. Leon had overheard a small group of guards, who were most likely drunk, chattering about Crono and the "Strange New World", which was Midgar, or course. He'd asked the men where they were keeping her, passing off his inquiry as a question of tactical strategy. The older, battle-hardened guards laughed at this "rookie's" attempt at strategy, but luckily, did not suspect anything odd at the time.

Keeping rigidly to the preset plan of action, Leon was about to stand up, cross his arms, and sway from side to side, hoping Crono would see him one of these times, but something stopped him.

"Psst...hey, man." A faint whisper floated in from behind the thick curtains where Leon sat. Fighting the urge to spin around, startled, Leon slowly stood up, stretched, and pretended to go look out the window. Sure enough, a very worn-out looking Crono was crouched behind the curtains, the window hanging slightly open, which Leon soon began to fiddle with, buying them some time.

"She's in a cell in the basement, where they used to keep a Rainbow Rock, or something like that. But you gotta be careful, it's swarmin' with guards. Watch your back, dude." He whispered out of the corner of his mouth. Crono's shoulders heaved in a sigh. He wasn't sure how much more this his body could take. Just as he began to look for a chance to get out the window again, he noticed golden uniform of the Knight Captain, and two other standard guards marching toward Leon and the curtains. Crono panicked.

"Leon! Look out!" He hissed under his breath. His friend was confused.

"What? Where?"

"Hold it right there, young man." the commanding voice boomed from behind. Leon froze, and was forcefully turned around by one of the guards.

"Oh no..." Crono said to himself.

"Now then, son, what did you say your name was?" asked one on the blue uniformed guards. Leon pulled at his stiff collar, anxiously.

"Um...Leonard...Sir Leonard." He prayed for a miracle to save him as the golden Knight Captain scanned through several sheets of paper.

"That's very odd, Leonard. You're not on this list anywhere, and I am very particular about my rosters." the captain said, impatiently.

"Uh...I'm new?" Leon said it as more of a question than an answer. Crono knew he had to do something...but whatever he did would reveal his position that he'd worked for so long to keep concealed.

"I doubt that. The captain makes it his personal responsibility to get to know each and every member of his forces, and neither he nor any of us have ever seen you around here." One guard said. The other nodded.

"Yes, sir, I believe we have an impostor on our hands..." The Knight Captain sighed.

"What is your busniess here. Answer me. Now." Leon began sweating, his breathing shook, and his heard raced at an audible rate.

"I'm uh, filling in for Sir Maxwell, who's uh, got a bad cold. I'm from a temp agency down south. And in fact, oh, look at the time! My shift is over, I gotta run! Bye guys!" He tried to run, but the three guards caught him by his uniform, and held him still.

"You spy! You'll spend a great many years in prison for this!" the shorter guard threatened, as he struggled to keep hold of the intruder.

"Hey! Up here! Hi guys! Hey! Hiya doin'? It's me!" The puzzled guards looked up in the direction of the voice, and were floored when they saw Crono, standing on the iron bar that held up the drapes above the window, taunting them. They soon forgot all about Leon, and turned their attentions elsewhere.

"C-Crono!!'re a part of this! I should've known, you traitor! Come down here this instant!" The captain shouted. Crono smirked, and began slicing the curtains from the posts with his katana, being careful not to cut himself down. During all of this, Leon was backing up a safe distance from the guards who were all staring up at the spectacle Crono was creating.

"You stop that! You've got no business destroying our property!" The taller soldier ranted. With a bound, Crono flew off of the rods, curtains in hand. As his flight began nearing its end, he released the massive drapes, covering the captain and his two top lieutenants. Leon marveled at Crono's quick thinking, but Crono knew they had no time to waste.

"Listen, go get Magus. You and he will have to hold them off here while I get to Lucca, understood?" Leon nodded, and took off running for the doors. Crono turned back to the rest of the guards, bringing his sword in front of him, the few standing guards hesitating to approach him.

"Get the fuck out of my way!" he roared as he broke through the men, slamming those who dared to challenge him aside. The basement steps were not far away, and Magus was ready at a moments notice, which was the only thing that kept his fatigued mind focused and somewhat calm.

* * *

Seconds later, the captain and his lieutenants emerged from the tangle of thick cloth, and got to their feet, only to find the room devoid of either Crono or the spy, undoubtedly a friend of Crono's.

"What's going on? Where are they?" He demanded. The soldiers frowned, some of them still making their way off of the floor.

"Sir, Crono...escaped into the basement, while the other left through the front door..." A guard remarked, hopeless of catching either of them. The captain was furious.

"Idiots! Get them! I want half of you to search for the spy, and the other half are coming with me after Cro-"

"May I have your attention please! Hey! Everyone, I'm about to do something important here!" Leon shouted, emerging in the doorway. "Okay, kiddies, he's big, he's bad, he's blue, and he kicks more ass than you have! Allow me to introduce the baddest damn wizard you'll ever meet! Give it up for Magus!"

The mage materialized in the open doorway, the draft blowing his hair and cape, dramatically. Guards, servants, and other denizens of the castle stared in both horror and awe at the man who over four hundred years had plagued their lands with death and destruction. The knight captain braced himself.

"Listen, men. Disregard my last order. We must all pull together against this enemy. Do you hear me? If we scatter, he'll kill us one by one. Banded together is the way we stand a chance at defeating him. Follow my lead..." He ordered. His loyal soldiers obeyed, forming a phalanx around him. "If I am to die here on this day, then please, protect the king and princess with your lives." They nodded. "On my word!" He shouted, all warriors rasing their swords and shields.

"Attack!" shouted the captain, charging at the head of the group, sword arm outstretched. Faster and faster he ran, the shouts of his men close behind. Yet no matter how fierce and brutal their charge was, neither the mage nor his young accomplice made a move to evade the onslaught. Instead, the wizard stood firmly in the doorway, his hands waving, creating patterns of loops and spirals in the air as they overlapped and flowed around each other. A blazing red glow eminated from his gloved fingers, stretching farther and farther outward as time progressed.

"Sir!" the shorter lieutenant called, "It's a spell! We've got to turn back!" Their captain smote the idea.

"No! We must attack! Now!" But it was too late. In the blink of an eye, the air around them began to...ignite. Whisps of flame rising from the floor engulfed some, blinded others, and fused the weapons of the most unlucky to their very hands. Shrieks of agony and the stench of burning flesh filled the room, as the raging fire devoured everything in its path. In the flames' wake, more than half of the men, including both lieutenants lay sputtering in death's merciless grasp. The straggling survivors prayed for strength and protection, as they did their best to regroup.

"Hey, we're really sorry about that. The pyrotechnics show got a little out of hand, but it's nothin' a little more practice won't fix. But if ya stick around, we'll refund your money ASAP. Or, on second thought, we'll just kick your-" Leon chimed.

"Shut up and fight." Magus commanded, interrupting his antagonizating speech.

"Right'o." Leon agreed, jumping into the fray, as he grabbed the back of a staggering soldier's head and kneed him in the face.

* * *

A grim satisfaction pleased his mind as he watched the prison guards tremble and spasmodically collapse, as the electric manifestation of his rage sizzled through their plated armor, straight down to their bones. It had been a long while since he'd summoned his magical energy in a mass destructive way, yet it was always available, fierce as ever. The last of them hit the floor as he ran past, knocking them flat with short, powerful swings of his katana.

Down the dark hall his sore legs carried him, a torch in one hand, his readied weapon in the other. According to Leon's extrememly concise directions, she should be around here somewhere, yet he saw no prison cells, just countless unused suits of armor, empty kegs, boxes, and clay pots. How in the world could you keep a prisoner down here?

"Crono!" He stopped in his tracks as the voice he knew all to well came running from behind him. He spun, still holding his armaments, as the princess ran into him, hugging him tightly around the waist, and bawling into his chest. "Oh, Crono. I'm so sorry. Please don't hurt anyone else, please...I didn't mean to make you do this, you know how I can be sometimes...oh god...please forgive me..." He was stunned. Of all the possible things that could've happened on this mission, this he would never have expected in a million years.

"Crono...please come'll be okay, honest. I...I believe you now. Really, I do...but we miss you so...I still love you...honest..." She wept. Crono's heart sunk. Could this really be happening? He knew that he was unhappy before, but could anything ever be different between them? Could he ever say that he loved her again? What about Yuffie? What about his new life in Midgar? It was all such a new rush of emotions to him, that he almost didn't notice Marle glance over his shoulder, once, twice, and then back into his eyes.

Something's not right here...he thought. Sure enough, his ears picked up the sound of soft footsteps behind him. She had set him up to be ambushed.

Breaking free from Marle's tight grasp, he spun around, thrusting the torch into whatever it was that was behind him. The soldier shouted in pain and surprise, dropping the short dagger he had been weilding. With a malice, Crono slapped the flat of his katana into the guard's face, drawing two lines of blood, and scraping the skin raw. As the man crumpled, Crono closed his eyes, and elbowed sharply behind him, catching Marle in the upper stomach. He heard her soft cry, and she sank to her knees with a thump.

His breaths came in shakes as he swallowed hard to clear the lump from his throat. There was nothing this girl would stop at doing to hurt him, nothing sacred or special to her, yet he still felt so guilty about harming her in return. Not stopping to look back at her, he ran on, wiping his eyes, and borrowing a flame from another torch in the hall. Up ahead, he finally saw the sought-after prison bars, behind them lay absolute darkness. As he approached them, he stuck his newly lit torch through them, calling out.

"Lucca! Are you in there! Lucca, it's me, Crono! Are you okay?" He called. No answer came for a moment, but then,

"Crono...?" A weak, tired voice whispered from behind the bars. "Crono...please...get me out of here...I think I'm dying..." Crono ground down, and put the torch out, taking hold of his blade with both hands.

"Hang on, I'll get you out...don't worry. I'm here, it's gonna be okay. I promise." He slashed at the bars until his hands hurt, and the sparks stung his skin.

"It's not working..." she groaned. Crono was stumped. In a futile attempt, he grabbed the steel rods, trying to break them off of their hinges, creating such a loud din, that he didn't hear the commotion behind him.

"Woah! Hold up there, big guy. I can help ya with that." Leon ran in behind him, his clothes torn and stained red with blood. The fabric was so bathed in it, that it was a rarity to find a patch of the actual color still showing through.

"Leon! Oh're losing blood! You're gonna die!! Don't exert yourself, man! We'll get you help!" But his friend just smiled, and took hold of the bars, his hands pulsing with power and pure strength. With a yell, he yanked at the bars, the metal posts inverting outward, and then slowly bursting off of their hinges, releasing small clouds of dust and crumbled wall.

"Oh yeah." he said, proudly, and he flung the prison doors down. Crono was completely baffled at this point.

"How did you...what in in the...what about!?!?" he shouted, struck dumb.

"Ah, I'll tell you later, man. Right now, I believe we have a fair maiden to rescue, am I right?" Crono hesitated, but nodded.

"Yeah...alright Lucca. Can you walk?"

"....No...I...I don't have any strength to." He frowned.

"Alright then...I'll carry you. Just try to stay awake. I'm gonna get you to Magus. He'll get you outta here fast." Crono supported her back with one hand, and slung her legs over the other. Her flesh was cold, and clammy, yet her face was drenched in sweat. " must really be sick. We're almost there, just a few more minutes." He tried to calm her, as he traveled up the stairs, Leon in the lead.

"You were taking so long down there, I thought something was wrong, so I came after, lucky for you, dude." He said, over his shoulder.

"Yeah, I had a little trouble, nothing major though." Crono replied. He turned sideways as he passed through the door to the Great Hall, being careful not to bump Lucca against anything. He stopped short, hit with the gruesome sight of dozens of soldier's bodies littering the floor of the hall. Magus was standing in the still-open doorway, with his back to them, as he often did.

"Magus! We got her, here she is!" Crono said, rushing over to the wizard. Before he handed her over to him, he kissed her on the cheek, looking solemnly at her. "Be strong. We'll see you soon." And with that, both young men left through the front door, running to a tree where Leon had left his original clothes, and then finally back toward Midgar, shouting and congratulating each other.

"Be careful..." Magus murmured to their shapes, gradually disappearing from sight.

The Black Wind howls...


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