Chapter 17- Meeting the Magus
600ad, Hallway in Prison Block D
Jack attached the last of his gear and swung his sheath over his shoulder. He had been surprised to find that the Red TAG was in one piece, not dissected like his other TAG was after his last trip behind Mystic lines. He had placed the Red TAG on his belt, not getting a chance to test it first.
All their gear was in one piece when they found it in a room not to far from their holding cell. Tristan had kept watch while the rest of them geared up. The got ready quickly, trying to avoid detection.
"Well I'll be glad to get out of here," Tristan said as he ran a hand through his hair. "I don't really like Mystic hospitality."
"Magus shouldn't be far away from here," Rayith said anxiously, spinning her sword in her hand. "I think we're pretty high up."
"And the big baddie is always at the top," Sarah said. "At least we won't have to climb up to many more stairs."
"Don't get your hopes up," Aragorn said. "We may be high, but this castle is immense. We should stick together this time."
"Agreed," Jack said. "Now can we get going?" he asked Tristan who was watching the door.
"Looks clear," Tristan said. "Let's go." Tristan exited the room and the other four followed quickly after. It wouldn't be long before Magus found that they had escaped…
"What do you mean they have escaped?" Magus asked in an odd mix of calmness and anger.
"I don't know how," the Mystic he was speaking to babbled. "The bars to the cell were bent. They might have crawled out through the opening."
"Don't be stupid, you fool," Magus spat. "And I'm sure Keltar made sure that someone else reported this…" he thought out loud.
"Yes, Lord. Keltar sent me. He said that he has sent Falgroth to look for them." the Mystic said while averting his eyes. "That's not all though," he said with a stutter in his throat. Magus looked at him as if to tell him to proceed. "We have more intruders."
"What?" Magus asked rhetorically.
"Three of them. One boy, one girl, and…" the Mystic trailed off to silence
"And what?" Magus asked bitterly.
"And one frog," the Mystic said hesitantly.
"So," Magus said. "It's time to play…"
"Do you want to speak to Keltar?" the Mystic asked.
"Tell Ozzie to take care of the frog and the others. And yes, get me Keltar," Magus said. The Mystic started backing up slowly, not wanting to turn his back on his Lord. "Now," Magus said through gritted teeth, angry but retaining from yelling. The Mystic didn't need to be told twice before spinning around clumsily and running towards the exit.
Back with the Good Guys…
The five travelers walked around with a relative lack of caution for a group of people who were invading the head quarters of an evil sorcerer. Only Aragorn was tensed up, jumping at every noise and holding a firm grip on the handle of his weapon. He knew the enemy, and knew to be careful.
They had already dispatched groups of guards of various sizes. Together, nothing was to problematic. Aragorn would normally leap into the fray and hack down the mystics while the others took turns providing magical back up. The continued to climb the tower, but it seemed like there was no end. The magical entanglement of the halls was beginning to annoy Jack, who had already brought up the option of combining their powers with the flux of magical winds and just blow the castle and everything in it to hell. Maybe the job of leader was getting to him.
"You said it yourself," Sarah said. "We need this Magus guy for info on Lavos, remember?"
"I remember quite clearly," Jack said angrily. "And I'm wishing I didn't." A sound came from down the hall in front of them. Before anything could round the corner though, Jack brought his hand forward and blasted whatever was coming with a Dark Bomb.
"We've got to be close," Rayith said. "I can feel it…"
"What does that mean?" Tristan asked.
"I don't know," Rayith admitted, "but I can feel his presence. The presence of the Magus is not one that you forget."
"So how many more floors, of seer of the future?" Jack asked, somewhat mockingly.
"Not that many more," Rayith said. "Not that many more."
"Why couldn't there just have been a teleporter like in the video games…" Jack mumbled.
The group continued on, despite Mystics attacks which were becoming more and more annoying. True to what Rayith said, the magical flow of energy was increasing. Jack could see the concentration of magical winds becoming stronger. There was some sort of temple or altar that they were coming from. Jack feared what ceremonies were preformed at such an altar.
As the continued upwards, they noticed the attacks from guards becoming less frequent. Maybe something else needed their attention? The attacks had been easy to take on, however. Most of the group took the lack of guards as a bad omen. Something bigger was coming.
Upper Levels of the Castle
Falgroth stormed through the halls down to the level the prisoners were last seen on. Reports were scarce as most of the guards that had seem them were either dead or incapacitated, but Falgroth would get them. He never failed. He got them before, he would get them again. The hunt was the best part of his job anyway…
A Slightly Lower but Hardly Close to the Ground Level of the Castle
They had to be close. The group had climbed endless staircases, bringing Jack back to his original idea of just blowing the castle to hell. The had just arrived in a small room faint sunlight coming in from a vent on the upper left hand corner, casting a beam the shined on another statue of Magus in an alcove in the wall. Everyone was wondering exactly how many statues there were of the mean looking guy in the entire castle. Bets had ranged from 15 to 115.
"I'm getting tired," Rayith said. "I'm tired and hungry."
"Your always tired and hungry," Aragorn said. "Stop complaining."
"At least the guard encounters has dropped," Sarah commented.
"Speak for yourself," Jack said. "Frying bad guys was at least interesting. I'm getting antsy and bored."
"Then welcome to the end of your boredom!" came a voice from above them. They looked up to see a powerful looking mystic drop down from a hole in the ceiling. His English was remarkable good.
"Who are you?!" Jack questioned, cutting past the formalities and getting the point as was usual for him.
"I'm the one who caught you the last time," the Mystic said as he drew a mean, jaggedly intricate blade from a scabbard on his belt. "My name is Falgroth, translating roughly to Shadow Blade in your barbaric tongue." Before anyone uttered a word, Rayith drew her sword and leapt forward with a downward slash. Falgroth effortlessly blocked the attack and her remise before kicking her in the gut and pushing her back.
"He's good," Rayith reassured while breathing heavily.
"You're the one who knocked out all of us last time?" Tristan questioned. The muscular Mystic nodded with a smile. "Then why not do it the same way again?" Tristan asked.
"Well, it's quite simple," he said, waving his sword around. "I've seen some of the damage you can do, especially the blue haired one," he pointed the sword at Jack. "I want to battle you, one on one, and take you each down, one by one."
"I don't get it," Tristan said. "It's about honor?"
"Before, I had a time limit," the Mystic said. "The boss was in a rush. Now, he's worrying about some new intruders."
"New intruders?" Jack asked but his question remained unanswered.
"Either way, I'd rather kill you all in a more, warrior like fashion."
"Instead of sneaking up on us like a rat?" Sarah shot.
"Please," Falgroth said. "Movement in the shadows is an art, not something you can just pick up."
"Can we cut the crap and get down to it?" Jack asked. "I'll go first," he said, drawing his blade. "Now beat me face to face…if you can."
"I'll enjoy fighting you," Falgroth said as he drew his blade into a fighting stance. "And I'll ask you ahead of time not to use any tricks. I know you didn't demolish a whole segment of the castle with your sword."
"No magic?" Jack asked. "Why would I hold back from that?"
"Because if your worth anything, you can beat me without it. Or, are you man enough for it?" Falgroth inched forward with a grin.
"Is that a challenge?" Jack asked, licking his lips.
"Take is as you will," Falgroth replied. Now Jack couldn't use magic. His pride was on the line.
"Fine, no magic," Jack said. "I swear on my warriors honor." Without another word he lunged at Falgroth, being met by his blade. He recovered and took two swipes, one to the head and the other to the legs. Falgroth ducked the first and jumped over the second, coming down with an overhead chop after the jump. Jack parried the blow easily and countered with a blow to the Mystic's flank. The attack was met by a blade, foiling his attack. They both stepped back. About four seconds had gone by since the first attack.
"Your fast," Falgroth said.
"You're not bad yourself," Jack said with a grin as he twirled his sword.
"To bad your not fast enough..." Falgroth ran at Jack with his sword drawn back and cut in a downwards arc. Jack rolled to the side of the attack and leapt from the ground with an uppercut slash, spinning in midair after the attack was dodged and coming down with another cut. The worthy opponent blocked the attack and brought his blade around Jack's sword in an attempt at a head cut. Jack ducked and lunged at the vulnerable Mystic but Falgroth was too fast, blocking the attack with almost no effort.
"Your gonna have to do better than that," Falgroth mocked.
"I'm just warming up," Jack said, licking the sweat off of his upper lip and lunging with a side cut, pulling back as Falgroth went to parry. He lifted the blade around his opponent's and cut downwards. Falgroth jumped out of the way, Jack's blade ripping a gash in the Mystic's garments. As Falgroth stood in shock that he had been hit, Jack lunged again, fainting to the flank but swooping under and cutting upwards. Falgroth jumped back again, this time getting away clean.
"Neat trick," Falgroth muttered. "To bad your gonna need more than tricks to beat someone like me."
"Stop patronizing me, scum," Jack shot. "I've beaten far better swordsmen then the likes of you." The both jumped at each other but Jack managed to leap out of Falgroth's range in a display of acrobatic skill. As Falgroth's blade landed short, Jack jumped back and was barely blocked by Falgroth.
"I haven't even attacked yet," Falgroth said, moving in and launching a fast series of attacks which were barely seen by the people on the sidelines, but Jack managed to block without to much effort. Falgroth tried a series of faints, but Jack didn't buy any of it at and blocked the final cut.
"That was pathetic," Jack shot. "Come on! I've fought amateurs better than you!" Jack's attempt at psychological warfare didn't seem to be working though. Despite Falgroth's slow speed on the attack, he appeared to be extremely confident in his skills and that always proved to be a problem. That was the most important thing on the fencing strip; confidence. Jack had learned it over many years, but it seemed that this guy had it, making any attempts at confusing him probably worthless.
"You're too confident," Falgroth said. "That will be your defeat."
"There's no such think as overconfidence..." Jack muttered under his breath as he drew his blade back and ran at Falgroth. Jack's attack was parried without difficulty, as was Falgroth's re-post, putting them back in a deadlock. They circled around each other menacingly.
"Com'on Jack!" Tristan screamed from aside.
"You can do it!" Sarah assured. Oddly, Rayith was silent. She had realized that despite all of her skills, she would be out classed if her time to fight came up. She sat in concentration, preparing for her time, should it come.
"He can do it, right?" Aragorn asked.
"Of course he can," Sarah said. "He'll do it and we'll be fine." As she said this, Falgroth attacked again, pushing Jack back towards the wall. Jack fought back and the clashing of blades continued. Attack, parry, re-post, parry, counter re-post, parry. It went on and on. Endless battle for over half an hour. Both were getting tired, Falgroth was getting annoyed.
"I grow weary of this!" Falgroth shouted. Good. Jack was finally getting to him. He'll start to make mistakes soon. Everyone did.
"How much more can ya' take?" Jack taunted. "I could go on for at least another three hours."
"That won't happen..." Falgroth said, making another attack, putting all his strength into it. Jack parried, but his was pushed back by the sheer force of the blow. Falgroth cut again, pushing Jack further back. Jack was being backed up against the wall as the full force of the Mystic's power was pushed against him.
Damn he's strong, Jack thought. Didn't anticipate this. Now Jack was against the far wall. Falgroth took one final swing, loosing Jack's grip on his blade and sending the weapons flying from him. Jack panted for air as he looked at his weaponless hands, no way to defend himself.
"You see, no one can last forever," Falgroth said. "Are you ready to die now?" Jack instinctively shot a glance at Sarah, worried that he could no longer protect her. Unfortunately, Falgroth caught this glance.
"Oh, so that's it. You want to save them, hmm?" Jack gritted his teeth. "I think it will be much more interesting if you watch them die first." Jack eyed his fallen sword, sitting on the ground at least two yards away. No time to get it and get back. He was trying not to panic, but couldn't think of any options left.
"Well, they can die first!" Falgroth spun and jumped at Sarah.
"Sarah!" Jack screamed. Sarah reached to draw her weapon to parry the blow but didn't stand a chance. Falgroth was already practically at her neck.
"No!!" Jack screamed, reaching unconsciously for the red rod on his belt. The Red TAG seemed to jumped into his hand as the blade activated and the gleaming red weapon came to life. As everything shifted to slow motion, Jack jumped at Falgroth, visible to the others as merely a blue blur with a bright streak of red. Falgroth saw Jack coming at the last moment, turned and lifted his blade to block but it was useless. The Red Tag slid effortlessly through Falgroth's sword, similar to the way it passed through his neck, severing the Mystic's head from his body in a gory, salient fountain of blood.
Time still passed slowly as Jack slowed back to visible speed about five feet passed the limp body of Falgroth which was still in the process of hitting the ground. Jack stood up and the Red TAG turned off. There was a big sound as Falgroth's body hit the stone floor, a smaller one as the severed head fell, followed by a seemingly distant metal clang caused by the broken blade clattering against the floor.
"Whoa…" Tristan murmured. Jack turned to the group, wordless.
"That was awesome," Rayith said, jumping up from her sitting position. "How'd you do that?"
"Is everyone okay?" Jack asked, ignoring the other comments. Everyone nodded. "Then let's go…" he turned and headed towards the exit to the room past the fallen body of the worthy Mystic opponent. Tristan, Aragorn and Rayith ran past him. Sarah slowly walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Thanks," she said, her heart still beating fast from almost being killed. "I mean, well...thanks again."
"Umm..." Jack stood at a loss for words. She's searching, Jack thought. Think about what Tristan said. Come on and say something! Sweep her off her feet!
"It's no big deal," he said, finally coming up with something. "I would have done the same for anyone." He said this, but immediately thought something along the lines of, what the hell was that you moron?!
"Yeah, well, that's twice you've saved my life," Sarah said. Jack walked over and picked up his sword from it's resting place on the ground.
"I can't have you dying on me now can I?" Jack asked, sheathing the sword. That was better, he thought to himself.
"Still, I owe you some thanks."
"No you don't," Jack said. "It's my job. I...I had to protect you." He tried not to blush. It didn't work too well.
"Jack? Are you blushing?" Sarah asked with a giggle.
"No!" Jack said, spinning around to put his back towards her. "Come on. The others are waiting." He started to leave the room. Sarah soon followed, still giggling.
The group was getting close very quickly. From the concentration of the winds, Jack guessed that Magus's main place of spell casting was close.
"It's amazing," he said as he walked in the lead of the five. "It's like this entire castle was built as a giant magic magnet. It's like all of the winds in this section of the world are being pulled to a central location that's…" he paused and looked up. "…Almost directly above us."
"So he has all the power he even needs for spell casting…" Tristan managed to conclude.
"But what would he need with all of this energy?" Sarah asked.
"I'm not quite sure," Jack said. "But I can tell that someone is up there manipulating the winds right now!"
"You sure about that?" Rayith asked.
"It's got to be Magus," Jack said. "The magical presence is huge."
"Straight above us?" Tristan asked.
"We're close," Jack said. "We're definitely close." He broke into a run, turning up the next stair and running up it. He nearly ran in to the brick wall that was at the top, blocking any area where a door would be.
"What the hell?!" Rayith shouted as she ran into Jack.
"It's blocked!" Jack screamed.
"No way!" came the almost unison voices of Tristan, Aragorn and Sarah.
"Wait a minute...." Sarah said, pressing her ear up to the wall.
"What is it?" Jack asked.
"There's fighting going on..." she said. "On the other side of the wall." Everyone pressed their ear against the wall similarly to Sarah. Sure enough, they could hear a distant clanging of metal and the sounds of spells being fired back and forth.
"What's going on?" Aragorn asked. "Who's fighting?"
"I don't know..." Jack said, drawing back his arms and cupping his palms. "But we're gonna find out!" He gathered a mass of magic into the space between his palms. "Water!" he yelled, the energy in his palms turning blue as he thrust his arms forward and blew a hole in the wall with a wave of water.
The group rushed through the new hole and found themselves at the base of staircase that curled upward. As the gathered on the entrance landing they could hear the fighting that was going, seemingly at the top of the stair case
"I guess we go up..." Aragorn said, walking forward slowly.
"How did the people up there get here?" Sarah asked, pointing to where the fighting was.
"I don't know," Jack said, looking around for an explanation. "Wait..." he said, pointing to and area off to the left of the landing. "Look at that," he exclaimed. The area that he was pointing to seemed to bend, like when thermals rise up off of a hot parking lot pavement.
"What is it?" Rayith asked.
"I'll wager it's some sort of teleporter," Tristan interjected. "That's how the other 'intruders' beat us here."
"So now what?" Rayith asked.
"Like Aragorn said," Jack stepped forward. "We go up..."
Beginning of Time
"So now what?" Fenreir asked. "So he meets Magus and they battle to the death?"
"No," Topik said slowly. "The truth is, I'm not sure what's going to happen now."
"You did check the streams, right?" Hal asked.
"Yes," Topik said. "But a lot of it depends on how quickly Jack makes up the stairs."
"What do you mean?" came a previously unheard voice.
"I mean..." Topik paused. "Well, I mean you'll have to sit back and watch. How is Chrono doing?" he asked.
"He's winning," Jal said. "Magus is losing his concentration on the spell which he was going to summon the Lavoid with."
"Good," Topik said. "Maybe our friend Jack can make sure he loses his concentration completely. The last thing we need is that manic trying to fight the damn thing now."
"Ahhh!" the Magus screamed, falling to his knees. "What…what have you done to the Masamune!?" he demanded. The Frog held his sword out in victory, ready to finish off his opponent. The boy stood back with the robot, know all to well that it was Frog's fight to finish. He would remain silent while his amphibious friend finished off the sorcerer.
As the Frog drew his sword back to make the finishing blow, a rumble spread through the room. The rumble resembled a noise that stomach makes when it gets hungry.
"Oh, bad timing!" Magus spat, drawing his cape around himself. "Don't wake up on me now!" Soon after, the rumblings increased and the fabric of the third dimension began to buckle…
"What the hell was that?" Rayith questioned as the stairs they stood on shook with the same energy that passed through the previous room seconds before.
"Something big is happening!" Tristan said.
"We have to hurry!" Jack yelled, overcoming the rumbling stairs and making his way to the top faster.
"Wake up?" the robot questioned. "According to my data banks, Lavos was created here, at this very time." Winds had started to pick up around the room. The blue flames that lit the passage remained alit through the building winds.
"You fools!" Magus yelled. "I merely summoned him!" Magus's cape kicked up in the wind as he spoke. A fabulous light show was beginning. Blue energies spun in a spiral, starting to gather at the space in front of the wizard. "Lavos has been here for eons, living in our planets core, soaking up it's energy!"
The energies formed a ball and started to grow, spewing off energy in every direction. Fabulous patterns of light and geometric shapes grew and refracted off of the growing vortex's own energies.
"According to my sensors, it's a giant time gate!" The robot shouted, projecting loudly through it's speakers to make itself heard over the roar of the germinating time portal…
"We're almost there!" Jack shouted as he reached the top of the staircase. It was hard because it seemed that the entire castle was falling apart. The staircase had begun to crumble from the bottom. Jack and Aragorn had made it to the top, leaving the other three racing against the clock as the staircase crumbled.
"Jump!" Aragorn screamed to the others over the roar of the temporal distortion in the next room. Sarah made it to the top, finishing her sprint with a leap to the top platform. She reached out and grabbed Jack's outstretched hand, Jack then lifting her up. Rayith started to fly, lifting a confused Tristan up by his trench coat. Tristan's legs still kicked in the air as Rayith rose up and landed on the upper platform with the others.
"Thanks," Tristan said. Rayith simply nodded.
"No time for formalities," Jack muttered. "Let's get in their and find out what the hell is going on!" Jack sprinted through the door into a corridor with a high vaulted ceiling. Blue flames flickered on each side. Down the way, an immense blue sphere pulsated with energy. There were four people there. A boy with spiky red hair, a giant frog, what appeared to be a robot, and a vampiric looking man with long blue hair; it was the exact same shade as Jack's.
"What's happening?!" Sarah questioned. "It looks like a time portal!" she exclaimed, answering her own question.
"And it looks like those people are getting pulled in!" Tristan yelled. Indeed, the portal was getting smaller and the four individuals around it were being lifted up and tossed around like rag dolls.
"That's Magus with them!" Aragorn said, pointing to the blue haired man.
"Then what are we waiting for!" Jack yelled, breaking into a sprint for the portal. The others soon caught on and followed. The five sprinters exploded towards the conflagration of energy. The gate was beginning to close, the winds not dying down however.
"Hurry!" Rayith screamed for no apparent reason. It was highly unlikely that anyone was listening though. As they sped across the floor, the neared the portal quickly, but it was already almost gone and the other people were no longer visible.
"My time magic should stabilize it while we jump in!" Jack said. "Let's go!" As they neared the closing gate, Jack made a leaping dive into the blue matter, disappearing almost instantly, but forcing the gate open slightly larger as the other four reached the vortex and made a jump for it. As Rayith slid past the surface of the sphere and passed into fourth dimension travel, the vortex shrank into nothingness, the winds only dissipating when the portal was completely closed.
."How ironic, that being pulled through yet another gate, I would end up back here…" -Magus
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