Chapter 13- Winds of Magic
1999ad, SOE lab: SSAF HQ
Sarah was worried about him. He left the room in a mood that she couldn't really pinpoint. She wasn't quite sure what was wrong with him, but something was there, she felt that. She found him standing on the far end of SOE lab with his back to the twin automatic doors. For some odd reason, he wasn't dressed as he was when he had taken the test. He was now in a black, skin tight bodysuit. There were pockets all around the legs, above and below a set of knee pads. He still wore his combat vest and his sword was slung over his shoulder in a new, black sheath. He wore a climbing harness around his wait, black like the rest of his new attire. His hair was down, not tied up in the normal ponytail. It hung down in spikes like the rest of his hair. She thought it was kind of cute. He heard her enter, but didn't turn.
"I can see them, you know?"
"See what?" she asked. He still didn't move.
"Feel them too. I don't know when I noticed them, it must have happened in the beginning of time. Something must have happened to me. It's really been bothering me lately though."
"What are you talking about?"
"Magic," he said simply.
"Magic?" she asked.
"Yes. I just started to notice it recently. For some reason, I felt a lot stronger because of it. That's why I took the Tech Degree test again."
"I still don't understand," she said, shaking her head.
"It exists in winds," he said, turning around and making a wave motion with his hands. "Winds of Magic that blow endlessly across the land. The ebb and flow of them controls the very essence of magic itself."
"How do you know that?" she asked slowly. He paused for awhile before answering.
"I…I don't know," he said somewhat meekly. "I just…I think I always knew, I just realized now."
"What else do you know about these Winds of Magic?" she asked.
"There are all different types," he said. "I can see them. Some are dense and heavy and sink to the ground. Others are light and billowy and flow through everything. They're all around us."
"Does that have anything to do with the type of magic we have?" Sarah asked. Jack nodded.
"The type of magic you use…" he paused in thought. "It has to do with what kind of Wind you're compatible with. You draw from a Wind that is sort of light and celestial in motion. It controls winds and has an effect on the weather as I see it." Sarah nodded. "Rayith controls the violently swirling Winds of Fire. Aragorn controls a denser wind that lays close to the earth, which is why he can manipulate terrain."
"And what about you?" came a voice from behind Sarah. Jack looked over Sarah's shoulder to see Rayith and Aragorn in the doorway. There were no scientists with them. "What magic wind do you control?"
"We heard most of it," Aragorn said. "But what I don't get is where you learned it."
"I told you already," Jack said softly with his head down. "I just…" paused. "It just sort of came to me…"
"So you just magically learned all of this?" Rayith asked, smiling at her own ironic wit.
"No," Jack said. "I feel like the knowledge was in me, but I think Spekkio woke it up along with my magic. I don't know where I got magic from, or why I know what I know. All I know is that for some reason, I can see these winds now. Not just the wind though…"
"What else?" Sarah said softly.
"I can see into the magical aspect of the world. I can see the magical energies flowing through everything. I can see…" he paused. "I can see the restless spirits that are trapped in this world, all killed by Lavos. It's sort of like an alternate vision spectrum that I can't control yet. Sometimes it just snaps into view and I can't do a thing about it. It's never there for long, a few seconds or so, but it's been happening more and more over the last few days."
"What's it like?" Rayith asked innocently.
"It's like…" he started but paused. "It's like this blazingly exciting ethereal world," he said, getting somewhat excited. "You guys stand out heavily against the dull, non magical back round because you possess magic. You're like fiery beacons in a dull world. And the Winds!" He was getting loud now and making large hand movements. "They're amazing! You see them in all their colors and…" he suddenly quite.
"What's wrong?" Sarah asked. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," Jack said, speaking softly again. "In all that excitement though, it's very bizarre and confusing. Scary almost." There was an awkward pause.
"What does the wind that you control look like Jack?" Aragorn asked, repeating Rayith's earlier question." Jack paused in thought before answering.
"There are times when all the Winds merge together, creating a mix. If one were to draw off of this hybrid Wind, then one could control the powers of all the Winds. In other words, use all of the types of magic. It's not very common for winds to come together like this, but when it happens…"
"What?" Rayith questioned. "What happens?"
"They form a chilling Wind that I've been feeling a lot lately. I can guess that it's the source of my powers. My shadow magic. I think we all naturally absorb the winds that pass through us, allowing us to draw on our own supply. The Winds that float around freely could be very useful if I knew how exactly to draw them, but, to be honest, I don't know if I want to draw the Wind that is 'natural' to me."
"What? What's natural to you?" the others all questioned. Jack lowered his head an spoke in a grim voice.
"The Black Wind…"
Beginning of Time
"Well, you certainly blew it didn't you Topik?" yelled one voice.
"Shut up Gatille," Topik said calmly. "It's not that big a deal."
"Not that big a deal?" another voice said. "He's supposed to be training now, but now what? Now he's afraid of the power that he could harness for so much energy."
"Like already said, it doesn't make a difference how he figures it out," Topik shot back.
"You were supposed to explain it to him!" Hal yelled. "Instead, he figured it for himself, but he doesn't know the whole truth. Without the whole thing, he can't make good use of his powers!"
"It's not my fault," Topik said. "I thought he was ready."
"Well obviously, he wasn't," came a new voice.
"You're turning on me too Fenreir?" Topik asked.
"No one is turning on you Topik," Jal said. "You just can't rush into giving someone 'the training' when they obviously aren't ready."
"The fact that he noticed the Winds on his own proves that he is ready…" Topik said, trailing off. "All of you need to trust me on this one…"
1999ad, SSAF HQ
After Jack had finished explaining the logic behind the Winds, he slowly reached behind his head and drew back his hair into it's usual pony tail. It was longer now that it had been when this whole thing had started, reaching the base of his shoulder blades.
"We're going to meet with this Magus," Jack said. "I just intend on avoiding the Mystic army this time." He grinned.
"Oh really?" Rayith asked. "And how do you expect to do that?"
"I'm not quite sure yet," he said. "But if it can be done, I'm going to find a way."
"It's just an army," Sarah said. "How hard can it be to get around?" The group chuckled uneasily. Jack pulled the gate key out of one of the many pockets on his pants, but before opening up a gate to the end of time, Jack reached into the pocket on his vest. He pulled out a chain with some sort of charm on it.
"What's that?" Sarah asked. Jack held it up as he answered.
"Oh this? I found it in the wreckage of my house. My mom said that it was the only thing I had with me when they took me in." He handed it to Sarah as she answered. She examined it while Jack pulled out something else.
"I also found this," he said, producing a small gold stud earring. "It was my mom's."
"You don't have pierced ears though," Sarah commented. Jack smiled, brining the earring to his left ear and pressing it into place. With a little bit of magic, he pierced his ear painlessly and locked the earring into place.
"Wish it was that easy when I got mine pierced..." Rayith said, indicating her earrings. It must have been hard indeed to get pierced ears in 600ad, and the techniques would have been bloody at best. She turned her attention to the charm in Sarah's hand. It looked to be some type of crest, with many inlaid red jewels. It looked very intricate, but no one could recognize the symbol from anywhere.
"What does this symbol mean?" Aragorn asked, leaning over Sarah's shoulder to have a look.
Jack shrugged. "I dunno," he said. "Like said before, apparently it was with me when my parents took me in." He took the chain and clasped it around his neck.
"That makes me think," Rayith said. "Where did you're parents come across you anyway." Jack thought about it silently.
"The story they always told me is that I was found by a river bed in a park outside off of Trann City. I think my parents were having a picnic or something and my dad sort of stumbled on me…" he paused, when instantly, a flood of memories came to him. "I was in some sort of blanket. I remember that blanket. It was very fine material and looked as if it was sewn by hand. It looked almost…royal." He didn't say anything more.
The team was silent before Aragorn brought everyone back to the task at hand. "So when do we leave?" he asked.
Jack reached down and picked up a black bag that had been previously unnoticed by anyone. "Now," he said simply, holding up the gate key.
"What's with the bag?" Rayith asked. "And come to think of it, what's with the change of clothing?" Jack just smiled, hit the button on the gate key and watched the gate form. As the wind picked up, he tossed the key to Sarah and jumped in. He didn't look to see if anyone was following, but he knew they would come. What other choice did they have?
End of Time
The group stepped out of the iridescent blue light into the dull bleakness of the End of Time. Tristan was already waiting impatiently for them, end of a cigarette in his mouth, apparently having already learned magic.
"What took you?" he asked bluntly, flicking the butt of his cigarette to the floor and stepping on it.
"It was that bad?" Rayith asked.
Tristan put his hand to his chin. "Actually, it was quite nice when that blonde girl was here. We talked for a bit but she said she had to go. Something about a Frog and Masamune or something like that."
"What Blonde girl?" Sarah asked.
"She said her name was Marle," Tristan said in remembrance. "She's traveling with Lucca at the moment. I didn't get to mention that we were going after Lavos also because she did most of the talking. Nice girl…"
"It doesn't matter," Jack said, stepping forward. "We need to get going."
"Magus's?" Tristan asked. Jack nodded
"What magic did you get?" Aragorn questioned.
"Lighting," Tristan said simply. "It's pretty cool, actually."
"Good," Aragorn said. "We'll need it if we're going to take out Magus."
"We're not taking him out," Sarah corrected. "We're going to find out what he knows about the Lavoid."
Rayith let out a grunt. "Speak for yourself. His sorry ass is mine if I get a shot at it." Jack held up a hand, signaling her to calm down.
"So you're going to confront Magus?" Gaspar said, opening his mouth for the first time since the group showed up." Jack nodded, answering for the whole group. "I can only advise you to be careful. I don't think that he is going to just accept an appointment and discuss what you what calmly. Just be prepared to defend yourselves."
"If I can get this to work, it won't be a problem," Jack said, holding up the slightly modified red TAG. "The scientists got a reading on it. It's power output is completely beyond anything that I've ever seen before. I don't understand why, but do know that if the thing doesn't short out on me again, it will be a serious help."
"You should try to restore that thing to it's original power," Gaspar said with a grin.
"What do you mean, original?"
"Oh, nothing…" he said, still grinning. "Let's just say that it's my guess that no scientists in your world could have truly restored that thing." Jack gave him a puzzled look but didn't pursue the cryptic speech any further.
"We should probably get going," Aragorn said. "It should be getting close to dark, making it the opportune time to get to the castle."
"You still haven't told us how you plan on getting in," Sarah said. "I don't think the door is just going to swing open." Jack didn't answer, but instead grinned wildly and hoisted the black bag onto his shoulder.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this…" Rayith remarked.
"Don't be such a party crasher Ray," Tristan said, patting Rayith on the back.
"I'm just thinking about the group," She said. "And don't call me Ray," she shot at Tristan in an annoyed voice.
"No problem…Ray," he said with a grin and flicking out another cigarette from his unseen storage point.. Rayith started to fume Sarah got her to calm down. Tristan started speaking again as he lit the cigarette that was hanging from his lip. "Anyway, you all ready?" The others nodded and Jack pulled out the gate key. He tossed the key to Tristan.
"Sarah and Aragorn will come in with me as a stabilizer. Rayith, you'll go with Tristan using the key. Wait for the gate to close before activating the key." Tristan nodded. Jack walked up to the pillars of lights with the other four in tow. He held out his hand and closed his eyes. He started to glow a pale blue as his magic stabilized the gate and he stepped in. He was sucked up the pillar, hoping that he would end up where he was supposed to. He looked down and saw Aragorn and Sarah close behind.
600ad, Truce Canyon.
The group moved silently through the still, cold evening. The sky was beginning to set, making for the perfect time for their infiltration mission. They exited Truce Canyon into the open plain, making their way to the village of Truce. The town was bustling was activity but the five travelers didn't have time to join in. The proceeded south of the village, coming up tot the southern shore, looking out onto the ocean and the many islands inhabiting the area closer to the shore. It was a low tide on the beach, the water lapping against the sand gently at the base of the beach. By this time, it was almost completely black, the pale light of the moon providing them with their only light source. As they came to a halt, Rayith held out her hand and a ball of fire formed in it, illuminating the surrounding area. Jack unzipped the black bag and pulled out what looked like a set of high-tech binoculars.
"Where is this castle?" Jack asked Aragorn and Rayith collectively.
"It's on an island in the ocean, but that's many miles from here," Rayith said. The island is off of the southern continent."
"Not a problem," Jack said. He closed his eyes. "Levitation," he mumbled to himself. Instantly, he glowed a soft blue-black and started to float. He took to very high in the air, hardly visible to his companions on the dark ground below. He put the binoculars to his eyes and fiddled with some dials on the device. He magnified his zoom percentage and cast a small spell on the binoculars to pick up on any magical sources in the area. As he had planed, a brilliant red object came into view on the far horizon. He zoomed the lenses in further to find that it was in fact the castle that Rayith had informed him about. It stood out like a sore thumb on the bleak surroundings.
"Bingo…" he said to himself before floating back down to the ground and putting the binoculars away.
"So now what?" Tristan asked. "Did you see it?"
Jack turned to Aragorn and Rayith. "Do you know the Force Tech manipulation for flying?" he asked. "It might have been referred to as 'Ray Wing.'" The both of them shook their head.
"It's real simple," Sarah said. "Just concentrate on creating an negative magnetic barrier around yourself. You should repel the planet's natural magnetic fields and float. Just use some more energy to propel your self." Reluctantly, Aragorn and Rayith tried and managed to do it. Rayith let out an explicative in shock when she started to float. Aragorn remained silent. As they rose into the air and started to move forward, the three veteran Force Tech users floated up into the night sky as well.
"Just follow me," Jack said as he propelled himself forward towards the castle. The five of them flew swiftly through the light. The dull trail of magical energies that Jack had left provided a path for the others to follow. The flight to Magus's castle took about half an hour, leaving everybody almost all drained. Jack was the first one to land on the island. When the others arrived, they found him practicing his magic. Mostly just small things. He lit a few trees on fire, summoned some lightning, and put out the mess with water. He wasn't very confident in his actual battle magic yet, but he knew that if the time came where he had to battle the Lavoid, he would need it. He was beginning to feel his ability to draw down the Winds of Magic, molding it to his will.
He didn't notice when the other four showed up on the island, landing on a beach that was north of his location. When they made their way to him, he turned and nodded before starting to walk, taking the lead. The island was cold. Jack could feel strong concentrations of the Black Wind circling around the castle. Magus must be a strong user of Shadow magic. He would never win in a magic war if it came to battle. As they made their way through the dense forests surrounding the castle, Jack wondered if Magus would tell him what he needed. He knew that he would probably have to fight him first, but could they win a fight of that caliber? This was a man who had put the entire world into a state of emergency. Could five people really take him out? Where they strong enough?
The castle was in view from the moment they set foot onto the island, but as the made their way around it, the group realized how huge it really was. Magus was probably deep within the fortification. Getting into the castle itself would be hard enough. Then they had to neutralize the guards, avoid the many traps that were most likely filling the castle, and then put the all powerful Magus in a position where he would divulge the information that was needed. Oh yeah, Jack thought. Piece of cake. Why am I doing this anyway? There's got to be an easier way to find out how to kill a Lavoid. He shook his head at his subconscious thoughts of not succeeding. He couldn't think like that. Not at this time. He had to win. He had to make it right. Everyone was going to go in and come out alive. That's what Sean would have done. He wouldn't have lost a single man. That's what Sean would have done…
Beginning of Time
"He's awfully motivated, isn't he?" Fenreir said. "But he's still oblivious to his destiny."
"He doesn't believe in destiny," Hal said. "He said it himself. He thinks he acting of his own completely free will."
"He'll figure it out," Topik said. "He's smart. He just doesn't know how smart he is."
"What did you tell him to go to Magus's?" Jal asked. "What is the point of having Jack fight him?"
"Maybe he won't have to fight?" a new voice suggested. "Maybe Magus will just talk to him peacefully. Or is it possible that Topik is trying to rush his discovery of the something that Jack really needs to find on his own…"
"Remember, Magus doesn't know anything either," Topik said defensively. "And I didn't rush anything. This is his destiny…"
600ad, Gate to Magus's Castle
"Shit, it won't open!" Rayith cursed, pushing and pulling at the giant double doors.
"What did you expect?" Sarah said, her annoyance with the situation only further aggravated by Rayith's comment. "That the door would just swing open as we walked up to it?" Rayith crossed her arms and tried to look mad.
"It's magically sealed," Jack said, analyzing the door. "It opens only for people who it's set to open for. There's also a heavy magical disturbance in the area, making the use of magic or Force Tech either useless or impossible, I'm not sure."
"So what?" Tristan asked. "It's over? Is this it?"
"Of course not Tristan, my friend," Jack said triumphantly. "I accounted for this and came prepared."
"What does that mean?" Rayith asked in a mocking tone.
"It means I brought this…" Jack said, pulling out a small pole from an equipment pocket on his left leg, hitting a button on the device. The group watched as the pole went through a series of shifting in it's outer shell, reaching it's final form in the shape of a grappling hook. "And this," he said, finishing with an indication to the climbing harness around his waist.
"Always be prepared," -The Boy Scout motto
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