Chapter 26- Assassinations and Modifications
600 AD, Truce Village. 8:30 AM
It was the day of the commemoration. The day of the assassination. Aragorn was sure that he had found every possible location for an assassin. All that was needed was to located the assassin as he prepared to make his attack. It would work. He was sure of it.
Early in the morning, the group gathered their things from the inn and met in an ally outside of the building. The speech was to be given at the soon-to-be sight of Leene Square, named after the benevolent Queen Leene. While the Square's construction had yet to be completed, there was a long series benches set up in front of a stage with a podium. The make-shift theatre was designed to hold the entire population of Truce, some 20,000 people, with standing room as needed.
The King was set to begin his speech at the stroke of noon. Aragorn had analyzed he list of things that the King's speech-writer would have touched on, and calculated the time of the presentation to be forty two minutes, give or take. For dramatic effect, he was sure that the Assassin would strike as the King delivered his conclusion.
It was in all probability that the Mystics would also be staging a large scale invasion that was timed to the assassination. In preparation of this, Aragorn had asked Rayith to monitor the area surrounding Leene Square. The first sign of Mystic forces would probably correlate with the time of assassination.
Aragorn figured for a very short period between the assassination and the invasion, and he realized that while the military power present at the commemoration was large, it was not enough to hold off what would most likely be the remainder of Mystic forces. This item, however, Aragorn was still thinking about how to solve.
"It's almost time," Tristan said, looking at his watch.
"Right," Aragorn said, drawing his cloak over his face and walking out of the ally. The others followed. They walked towards the Square, trying to look as inconspicuous as three people in dark, concealing cloaks could look.
It was a warm day with a light wind blowing over the landscape. It was early spring. The trek to the Square a was a short, silent one. It rested about a mile outside of town. From a distance, one could see the endless rows of benches set up on a hill side. The seats were already almost full, even though it was only 9:00. Spitting up as they entered the distance a bow could fire to the stage, they began to make their preliminary searches.
They went over the prime possible assassination points for each of the main possible weapons. If one of those points WAS, being used, however, the Mystic had yet to arrive and set up his shot.
Still nothing in the prime points. They were operating on a guessing game at this point. Slowly, they fanned out to the less probable points, Aragorn made a final sweep to check for point which he may have missed over the last weeks examinations of the area.
"Where the hell is he?" Rayith muttered, thinking back as to why she was even here. She was beginning to have problems with this whole ordeal, and to top it off, she never got her shot at Magus. Man, this just hadn't been a month.
"He….or she," Aragorn corrected. "Two thirds of the world greatest assassins are women."
"Whatever," Rayith muttered.
"We've still got time," Tristan said. "He's probably just not set up yet."
They gave up on the possibility of assassination by arrow, as the marksman would not be able to reach his target from anywhere outside of the area that they had scanned. Poison dart also seemed improbable as it's range would be to close for the attacker to escape unharmed. They scanned the points that were discovered for a possible magic assassination.
"He would have had to be in his position, now," Tristan said. "How did he plan on getting that close with all these people here. A mystic can't change form, that much I know."
"If I were him," Aragorn said. "I would have been positioned the night before, waiting patiently. As far as the Mystics are concerned, we don't know about the assassination.
"So where is he?" Rayith asked. "They must be using a form of attack with a much longer range."
"Right," Aragorn agreed, smiling at the young thief who was learning well from him.
"So let's spread out again," Tristan said.
"Right," the others agreed.
Time was growing thin. No sign of an assassin everywhere. Tristan had quickly gone back over the points that they had checked first, hoping to find the assassin there at this point. No such luck. Aragorn was beginning to get worried, but he refused to show it.
"Should we be worried now?" Tristan asked the knight. Aragorn kept his cool and calmly shook his head.
"Not yet," Aragorn said. "Figure that we have at least another hour."
"Are you sure?" Rayith asked. "I mean, what if they decided to kill him right when he walks up to the podium, and not at the end of the speech.
"No," Aragorn assured. "I'm sure Keltar is the one behind all of this. I know him too well for that. He'll do it at the end. That's just his style…."
As the King began his speech, the assassin stealthily touched the weapon of his choice. He was ready to spring. No on would know. He would kill the King of Guardia, and the Mystics would win. All was according to plans of Keltar…
"We're missing something!" Aragorn yelled, getting tense now. "What could we be forgetting!? What did I leave out!?"
"Aragorn," Tristan said. "You have to calm down. We still have time."
"Not enough, though," Aragorn corrected. 'We're running out."
"Well, arguing isn't going to give us any time back, Aragorn," Rayith said. "We should just keep looking."
Aragorn quickly went back over everything. He examined all the facts. He went over all the evidence. "What did I miss…" Aragorn spoke to himself. "What could they be planning. There is no one in the range of a missile weapon in any of the potential spots. If he was in the crowd, it wouldn't work, as people would see him as a Mystic…"
Aragorn's eyes suddenly lit up and his head jerked into attention. "Oh, shit."
"What?" Rayith asked. "What is it?"
"No time!" Aragorn said, running from where they were and into the crowd. "We're almost out of time!" Pushing through the crowd, Aragorn made his way towards the stage…
"And So!" the King spoke, finishing his speech. "Fair people of Guardia! No more shall you live in the fear of the Mystics! No longer shall your lives be in danger at all moments! For we are victorious and victorious we shall remain!" As he lifted his hands in conclusion, the crowd exploded with cheers.
Aragorn has miss judged the speech time. He knew it to, as he heard the crowd cheer. He needed to make it up there. Pushing through the crowd, be came ever closer.
On the stage, there was an unseen flash of light as a blade was drawn from it's sheath. Keeping the blade concealed in his robes, the King's Prime Advisor, Balreis, stepped closer to the king, aligning himself for the attack. He readied the knife.
"Treachery," Aragorn cursed under his breath. "That had to be it!" Aragorn was now insight of the stage. Pushing his way to the front he looked on to the stage. He soon found himself looking up at the King. For a moment, the King and Aragorn met eyes, a look of fear in both of their faces.
"Aragorn?" the King mouthed. His lips moved, but no sound came out. Aragorn didn't have time to waste, however.
Now practically behind the King, the assassin loosened the knife from the robes, shifting it into his right hand. The time to strike was now. Very quickly and silently, he attacked….
Aragorn looked pass the King and saw the advance of his Lord's attacker. There was a faint glimmer from a dull blade as Aragorn suddenly felt his world shift into slow motion.
Not thinking, he launched himself on to the stage, drawing his broadsword out of it's resting place within his robes. Suddenly, he could see the armed guards near the king reach for their weapons as it surely looked as if Aragorn was attacking the King. Aragorn ignored their shocked faces as he landed on the stage and pushed the King out of his way with a swift arm motion.
As the King looked up, he saw the assassin that had just lunged at with a blade; a blade that would have killed him if Aragorn had not pushed him aside.
Bringing his blade around in a sweeping parry, Aragorn caught the incoming knife of the assassin, sending the knife flying away. Aragorn then looked into the eyes of the King's attacker. Balreis, one of the King's advisors, that was certainly it. Treachery from within. Aragorn had never thought of it until the end.
Balreis looked at Aragorn in a mixed feeling of shock and dread. Aragorn, however, didn't have time to analyze the assassin's response or the assassin's reason for betraying the King. He quickly brought the blade back around and rammed it through the assassin's abdomen. The assassin looked up at Aragorn with the same look of shock and dread, coughing up a spew of blood. In a fluid motion, Aragorn ripped the blade out of the assassin, spilling his entrails on the floor.
Silently turning and looking down at the King, he motioned his hand to the dead body on the floor. "Your assassin," he said. The King was too confused to know if he should be scarred or grateful.
Aragorn then noticed that the crowd had become silent, looking up at the spectacle that had just happened. The guards around the stage had begun to move in as if to arrest Aragorn, but the King waved them off. Then, through the silence of the crowd, Rayith's voice came.
"They're coming!" Rayith screamed, pushing through the crowd and up to the stage. She was being closely followed by Tristan. "They're coming!"
The King looked up at Aragorn. "Who's coming?" he asked Aragorn.
Aragorn held out a hand the help the King climb from the floor. "The Mystics," he said dimly. "The Mystics are coming."
12,000 BC, Kajar.
Masa and Mune had retold the story of Melchior's capture. How Dalton had come in and taken him away, just after he had successfully completed the magical anchoring of Masa and Mune to the aptly named Masamune.
Masa had quickly explained anchoring as the process of attaching the meta-physical form of a Planeswalker (which the Finori sometimes call themselves) to an object in an unstable plane for 'anchorage.' If such anchoring is not accomplished, the Planeswalker will be sucked out of the unstable plane, cast back into the warp space that exists between Planes of a universe.
While the concept of Planeswalking was beyond Jack and Sarah's comprehension at the moment, they managed to accept it as a fact and not question it.
When anchoring, though, it was known by Melchior's Finori friends that the process to an object gives it incredible properties. It was through this process that the Masamune was created. Masa and Mune anchored to what had been a simple Dreamstone dagger, making it considerably more powerful.
"So that's why that pole was cleaved like that…" Jack said, imagining the power of such a weapon and the properties which such anchoring could give an item.
"Yes," Mune affirmed, quickly getting back to the story of Melchior. "And then they took him away. They put him on Mt. Woe."
"THE Mount Woe?" Sarah asked. "Like the one in the book? The former island of Enhasa?"
"Yes," Masa said. "The Queen froze him there. Now he's stuck…"
"Can we help him?" Jack asked Sarah. "I mean, what can we do?"
Sarah paused in thought for a moment before answering. "No," she said blankly. "I don't feel that we should go to him." Jack looked at her in puzzlement. She then answered his soon-to-be question. "I….I have a feeling that it isn't our place to save him. For some reason, I believe that he will be saved without our intervention."
Jack stood in confusion for a moment before deciding to trust Sarah. He didn't know why, but something inside told him to trust his companion. Maybe it was the fact that her intuition had gotten then out of many situations before. Or, maybe it was something else….
"Okay," he agreed. "I believe you. I don't know how the hell you're getting that vibe…but I'll take your word." Sarah smiled. "So now what?"
Sarah put her hand to her chin in thought. "Masa, I need to ask you about this anchoring thing. Can it be done to any object?
"Yeah," Masa said. "We can anchor to any object in the third dimension of the plan that we wish to remain in."
Jack interrupted. "I see where you're going…" he said. "The Dreamstone Blade, right?" Sarah nodded. Jack nodded back in agreement. "If we could anchor one of you Finori to this weapon, it would be considerably more powerful. Even capable of slaying the Lavoid, maybe."
"That's not even considering the fact that it's hideously strong, now," Sarah said. "But…"
Masa jumped in. "Myself and Mune are already anchored to the Masamune," he said, sensing what Sarah was going to say. "We can't anchor multiple objects."
"What about you, Doreen?" Jack asked, turning to his new friend. "Will you do this for us?"
Doreen studied the faces of the humans for a moment. She knew their intentions. They wanted Lavos dead just as much as the rest of Zeal. The question was, were they really capable of beating it? It's power had already corrupted the Queen. Exactly how strong were these humans?
She recalled the prophesy, though. How a man with blue hair would save Zeal. She was sure that Jack was this man, but somehow she doubted that he would be the one to fight this Lavoid. Too many things would get in his way, including his family. So how would this prophesy be completed?
"Very well, Lathain," Doreen said, after nearly a minute of contemplation. "I shall anchor to Melchior's final creation."
"Please don't call me that…" Jack pleaded, turning to Sarah.
"Thank you, Doreen," Sarah said. Doreen nodded.
"First, though," Jack said, putting into motion an idea that he had been toying with for some time. "I would like to alter it's form. I have some slight changes which I would like to perform on the Dreamstone Blade."
"Such as?" Sarah asked.
"First off," Jack said. "I've come to appreciate the feeling of weight in the weapon which I hold. The blade made only of energy has no real mass. It lacks the feeling I would like to have in a weapon."
"So what do you want to do?" Mune asked.
Jack frowned. "I don't want to bore you with the technical details of TAG modification, but…" He paused. "Here it goes: what if we were to fixate a blade to the handle that we found at Melchior's other shop?" He reached into his pocket and drew the TAG that was now encased in the ornate handle. "If you look here, there is a slot which appears to have been designed to focus the energies into blade format." Jack activated the weapon and the blade jumped to life in it's focused form of a long-sword.
"And you want to put in an actual blade?" Sarah questioned.
"Yeah," Jack said. "And then, I'd like to set up the weapon so that the arc waves which previously made up the blade would now project and surround the metal blade, creating an energy field around it."
"You want to use Dreamstone for the physical blade?" Doreen asked.
"Not necessarily," Jack said. "The tricky part is going to be fixing the weapon to conduct the arc-waves around the blade, instead of just forming their own blade."
"Would the power of the weapon be the same?" Sarah asked.
"Yeah," Jack said. "I think so. The arc-waves would form an aura around the blade, basically destroying anything the aura comes into contact with, disrupting solid matter in the same form that a TAG does. The blade itself doesn't actually touch the surface of the target."
"Why not just keep the weapon the way it is, then?" Mune asked.
"Actually," Jack said, "Now it will be more powerful. Or, at least that's my hypothesis. You see, the arc-waves will have a point of stabilization, namely the physical blade. In a standard TAG, they don't have a stabilization point. I have a hunch that the waves will actually be more effective like this, due to various theorems on the concentration of arc-waves and co-indexes of tampered energy waves…" he quickly caught himself before going to deeply into something that only he and Sarah would understand. Jack also quickly found himself wishing that Tristan could be there to confirm his theory.
He quickly got back on track to explain his plane in layman's terms. "Secondly, I can easily turn the energy field off if I choose to fight with just the blade." Jack deactivated the TAG that was in his hand. "Lastly, I want to add an 'ejection' device that allows the weapon to discharge the blade from the handle and then fight with a pure energy blade, should situation demand a lighter weapon."
"Why would you want to fight with just the blade?" a bewildered Mune asked. "Why settle for something less powerful?"
Jack tried to explain. "As Sarah knows, in our world, we have protective shield technology which blocks out energy weapons. That includes Arc-Wave projectors, too. I would hate to have to come up with an enemy with similar shielding and find that my weapon was useless."
Jack went back to explaining his ideas. "One final modification," he added. "And possibly the most powerful, would be the a modification of the sensor matrix."
"The device that activates the weapon," Masa clarified. Jack nodded.
"What will you do to it?" Mune asked. "I watched Melchior create it. It's a pretty complex device." Jack smirked.
"Well it's based on the factors involved in the energies that exist within me." He paused, thinking how to explain his next point. "Think of it this way," he said. "All creatures that are capable of using magic naturally absorb energies from the Winds of Magic. This provides us magic users with our source of power." He started to pace around the room.
"Now, I house a particularly powerful energy which I've found myself referring to as the Black Wind. This energy courses through me, and Schala and Janus as well, I may imagine. It's basically the source of my….powers."
"When you say powers…" Sarah started to say.
Jack answered her question. "My high level magic capability along with my magical prowess. My speed. My agility. My sudden increase in Force Tech ability. Probably all the stuff that's linked to the color of my hair. That kind of stuff."
"Oh…" Sarah said, trailing off.
"Anyway, if I could draw on these powers of mine, along with the powers of the magical winds…"
"And put them into the sword…" Sarah finished. "In the same way we draw from Force Tech to amplify our fighting power, you would channel your magical power through the sword, amplifying it's power."
"You catch on fast," Jack said, walking over to the nearest workbench, sitting down, and placing the Dreamstone TAG on the table.
"Sounds like a project," Doreen said. "And I'm sure you don't want me to anchor anything until you get the blade in the form that you wish."
"Right," Jack agreed. "I think that if I use Melchior's tools, I should be able to convert the blade in few days…."
"What do we do until then?" Masa and Mune asked.
"I dunno," Jack said. "What do you normally do when you're bored?" Masa shrugged.
"Normally, we just pestered Melchior," he said with a grin that quickly turned to a frown of worry. At this moment Doreen suddenly perked up, her eyes shooting open.
"New people…" She said quietly. "New travelers in Enhasa…."
"What do you mean?" Jack asked.
"There are three entities whose energy signatures do not resemble that of a Zealian."
"That boy and his friends?" Jack asked Sarah. Sarah shrugged.
"It's possible. I'm not sure how they would have gotten here, though. Unless…"
"Unless what?" Jack asked.
"That would imply that there was a temporal disturbance somewhere that created a gate that they must have come through," Sarah said.
Jack carefully thought over the situation. "Right…" he finally agreed. "So that should mean that there is a gate we can go home through now."
"Possibly…" Sarah said, wrapping a small strand of loose hair around her finger.
"Hmm…" Jack put his hand to his chin. "We still haven't seen what happens here," he said. "You know, the event that must have sent me through time as an infant."
"You want to stay?" Sarah asked. Jack nodded.
"I want to alter the TAG as well. Also, having Doreen anchor to it will be nothing but a help if we wish to combat the Lavoid."
Sarah sat down in thought. "Okay," she agreed. "I just hope that gate doesn't disappear like the last one…"
"Humans are so...silly! It's how you use the sword that's important...not who owns it! You can't even understand something as simple as that! That's why you're human." -Mune
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