Chapter 7- We Just Keep Meeting People Like This, Don’t We?
600ad: Magus's Castle
A dull chant softly echoed through the dark room. Unseen, the sorcerer known to his enemies as Magus stood in front of an alter, chanting the words for possibly anyone of his dark spells, hopefully enacting a plan that he had worked for so long. The dull hum was broken by footsteps entering the chamber. As the intruder walked towards the altar, torches on either side of the isle lit up.
"Who dares enter my presence?" Magus said grimly.
"It is I, Keltar, my lord." Magus spun around to see the image of the mystic standing before him. "I have come to report the latest actions at our Denadoro camp." Keltar took a gulp before reciting what was unfortunately his to tell Lord Magus.
"Well?" Magus said, inpatient already.
"The two whom we captured, those who used the magic swords escaped earlier today."
"Tell me Keltar, why did they escape?" he hissed.
"The man with the blue hair was able to beat Gilgore. It wasn't my fault, I underestimated his strength," said with a shaky voice. The massive mystic stood almost petrified by the sorcerer before him, though he towered over him by more than a foot.
"Man with blue hair?" Magus raised an eyebrow.
"Yes," Keltar said, relieved to see his master seem less angry. "It was the exact same color as yours my lord."
"It was you that underestimated his strength, correct?" Magus looked angry.
"He would have died!" Keltar now was getting panicky; knowing his life was on the line. "Someone interfered and gave him a weapon."
"Why didn't you stay to observe the fight?" Magus asked, getting angrier.
"Because I - I - I" Keltar stuttered as Magus started to raise his hand. As he started to point at Keltar though, he stopped and withdrew his hand.
"I should kill you," Magus said putting his hand to his chin. "But I have another task for you. If you succeed, this would put you very high in my sights. Higher than Ozzie possibly," he said, using his voice in the most manipulative manner possible.
"What is it my lord?"
"I want you to find this man with the blue hair, and find out away to get him here. You can come up with the plan on your own, but remember," he lowered his eyes. "Your life hangs in the balance."
"Absolutely my lord!" Keltar exclaimed, spinning around and running for the poor. Magus paid no attention to this display of idiocy as he considered it.
Blue haired man, hmm? He thought to himself. This could be interesting. I wonder what he was doing with one of Melchior's toys anyway?
600ad: Northwest of Mt. Denadoro.
Jack couldn't sleep. He had tried, but was to tense to go to sleep. It was now past midnight and he sat against the same tree, staring at the dying embers of the fire.
"Can't sleep?" asked a voice. Jack spun to the side to see Sarah standing over him. She sat down next to him against the tree. "Me neither," she said, somewhat answering Jack's question for him.
"I'm just to confused to sleep. There's so much that's happened in the past few days. I'm just trying to make sense of it all," Jack said, leaning his head against the tree. "Look at him," he said, motioning to the sleeping Aragorn. "As far as he's concerned, this is just another chain of unimportant events. I'll grant that he's been helpful, but right now, he's sort of oblivious.
"It's just us Jack," Sarah said softly. "We're all alone in a crazy new world. We have to stick together if we're going to get back." There was a long pause. Sarah broke the silence.
"Do you ever think about Sean's last words? You know, that thing about you being one of 'hope' and how you have to look for the boy Cro?"
"All the time," he answered quietly. "It's like a puzzle to me, though. I don't know what any of it means."
"I think only Sean knew what he meant when he said it. He didn't have time to explain. I think he wanted you to find out on your own." Jack said nothing in response. The two sat against the tree until Sarah finally spoke again. "Do you think everyone at home is okay. The monster Sean fought against looked like it hit the entire world with those beams."
"I think Sean called the beast Lavos. Let's call it that for less confusion for now on."
"Okay, but what do you think happened to all the people. I hope they're okay. I'm worried for them. I'm worried for us Jack." To Jack's surprise, Sarah leaned her head of Jack's shoulder. Instinctively, Jack put his arm around her, but none the less, this confused him. For as long as he could remember, Sarah had always been one of the strongest people he knew. He used to always saw girls huddled up in the arms of their boyfriends, but Sarah was never like that. It seemed that she had never needed support from anyone, like she wanted to do everything on her own. She was so emotionally strong, but now Jack could finally see behind that strength. Even Sarah needed someone to comfort her, and Jack was happy that she picked him for the job.
"It's gonna be okay Sarah, I'm sure of it," he said reassuringly. "Everyone is okay, and we're gonna go back home, and everyone is going to be so happy to see us, and we're going to tell everyone what happened and..." he looked down at Sarah to find that her eyes were closed and she was asleep. "And I'll tell you how I feel about you Sarah," he whispered softly. He kissed her lightly on the head and then leaned his head back and tried to fall asleep.
Jack awoke the next morning to the smell of breakfast frying. Without opening his eyes, he inhaled the scent and hazily said, "oh Mom, you're so good to me, making me breakfast in bed..." Soon, however, he snapped back to reality opened his eyes to see Aragorn standing over what looked to be frying pan set up on a device which was holding up over the flame beneath it. He looked to his left to find his arm still around a sleeping Sarah. In reaction, he withdrew his arm quickly and stood up.
"You cooked?" he asked Aragorn.
"I killed an uribo and found some chocobo eggs while you two were asleep. I cut the uribo meat into strips and..." as he was saying this, Sarah arose and took a sniff of the air.
"Is that what I think it is?" she asked inquisitively.
"Yeah," Jack said, still surprised. "Chef Aragorn made us bacon and eggs. Is there anything you don't do?"
"Why, do you eat this meal in your time?" Aragorn asked, using a dagger to flip the uribo strips in the pan.
"Actually, it's one of my favorites," Sarah said, rising and walking over to the fire. "But where did you get the pan and the thing you have holding it up."
"Always be prepared," Aragorn answered cryptically. He moved the bacon strips around some more. "It's almost done, are you two going to eat?"
"We don't have any plates," Sarah said bluntly. "Or silver-wear for that matter."
"You eat it from the pan with a dagger or your fingers," he said simply. "This is the middle of the wilderness you know." Sarah sat down next to the fire and inhaled the smell again.
"It smells really good. What did you use instead of butter for the pan?" Sarah asked.
"Well," he started. "A lot of an uribo is fat so I simply..."
"That's enough!" Jack cut in, also sitting down by the fire. "I don't want to know. All I care about is that I haven't eaten in days and I'm starving. Can we eat it yet?"
"Yes," said Aragorn, picking up a previously unnoticed pail of water and putting out the fire. "Just watch out, it's kind of..." Before he could finish, Jack and Sarah both grabbed a strip and engulfed it. "...Hot," Aragorn finished, Jack and Sarah not caring about it being just of the stove. After the bacon was gone, Jack ventured to try to eat some of the eggs with his hands. He was again shocked at how good they were and had to be pried away so Aragorn and Sarah could have some. After all the food in the pan was gone, the three of them all sat back, their hunger satiated for the time being. They sat in silence for awhile before Sarah spoke.
"Where did you get that water?" she asked Aragorn.
"There's a clear shallow river over that way. If you want to wash your hands..." before he could finish, Sarah jumped up and ran off in the direction he had pointed.
"Finally, I get to take a bath," she said as she ran off, automatically placing the men second in line for washing off. Aragorn and Jack sat in silence for half an hour until Sarah came back, her hair still substantially wet.
"'Bout time," Jack said teasingly.
"I haven't taken a bath in almost a week Jack! And as it is, I still didn't get to use soap," she said. "I'm ready to leave when you are." Jack and Aragorn didn't make a move. Jack started to giggle childishly. Aragorn soon chimed in also.
"What?" Sarah said innocently. Jack, still laughing lightly, took off his vest and tossed it to her.
"Put that on," he said, still laughing. Sarah looked puzzled until she realized that her white shirt was soaking up all the water that was on her. She almost immediately turned bright red and put on the vest as fast as she could before giving Jack a dirty look.
"You're terrible!" she exclaimed, before starting to laugh herself.
"No, actually I'm just looked for an opportunity to show off my pecks," the now bare-chested Jack said. Sarah stared at him for while and then started to laugh again.
"Come on, let's break camp and get back to Truce so we can go back to trying to get home," Sarah said, stopping her laughter.
"Are you two ready yet?" Aragorn asked, tapping his toe on the ground.
"Yeah," Jack said, grabbing his temporary sword from up against the tree and clipping the sheath to his belt. "Let's get out of here. Anyway, I want to go weapon shopping." Aragorn didn't answer, but strapped his shoulder armor on and started to lead the way. Jack and Sarah obediently followed.
The trio walked many miles along the coastline as the trees became plains and the sun rose high in the sky. It was pelting down on them relentlessly until they came upon another sparsely wooded area. In an attempt to take advantage of the limited shade available, Aragorn led Jack and Sarah towards the woods. The temperature was cooler and the sun let up on them inside of the forest, so traveling was made easier for the time being. They traveled for some time in the woods without speech until Jack decided that it was time for a break.
"I think this would be a good spot to sit down an grab a drink," he said, not waiting for a response before sitting down and rummaging through his pockets.
"What are you doing?" Aragorn asked, walking over to Jack and sitting down with him. Jack didn't answer.
"Sarah, I think your shirt is dry now, toss me my vest," he said. Sarah took of the vest and tossed it to Jack. Jack dug through the pockets until he found three quarter sized capsules. He hit a button on each one and in a puff of smoke, the three capsules turned into three soda can sized cylinders. He tossed one to each Aragorn and Sarah and kept the other.
"What do I do with this?" Aragorn asked, handling the item curiously.
"You pull this little thing here," Sarah said, demonstrating for Aragorn. When pulled, a small hiss came out of the can, come of the carbonation leaving the can. "It's soda. You drink it." Aragorn slowly did as Sarah did and put his lips to the opening on the soda can. Diffidently, he took a sip before smiling a very wide smile.
"This is very good!" he exclaimed.
"Yeah, I know," Jack said, opening his and sipping it. "But I don't have to many more of these so savor it while you can." Jack walked over to a tree and sat down against it. "I think we have some rations somewhere in my vest or pants it anyone's hungry. So, how long 'till we get to Truce?" Jack asked Aragorn.
"I'd say another full day's travel," he said with a sigh.
"Well, then I think we should take a break and use the energy to travel through the night when it's not so damn hot out," Jack said. Jack put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. Sarah did likewise but Aragorn remained vigilant for unknown reasons. Instead of relaxing, he seemed to be concentrating deeply. After about five minutes however, he closed his eyes. The three travelers sat in silence, Sarah sleeping, Jack trying to sleep and Aragorn appearing to be sleeping but actually just thinking. Suddenly, there was a rustling noise above them. Aragorn eyes' sprung open, but other than that, he didn't move.
"Jack," he whispered. Jack opened one eye but didn't speak. "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Jack asked.
"Shhh!" Aragorn whispered harshly. "Did you hear that rustling noise?"
"No," Jack whispered back. "What noise?"
"That noise..." he scanned the area without moving his head. "Oh forget it, it's probably just the wind." They didn't speak for about a minute, before the noise came again. Jack and Aragorn both looked up to the trees in time to see a shadowed figure jump from a branch above them.
"Jack! Look out!" Aragorn screamed. Jack didn't need to be told twice as he sprung to his feet and whipped his sword out of it's sheath to block a blade that was coming from above him. The two swords clashed as Jack's assailant landed on the ground. Jack withdrew his sword at the sight of what stood before him. A girl, not more than fifteen or sixteen and short for that age, was holding a sword at him. She had long red hair and was dressed in slightly ragged, obviously weather worn, clothing.
"What are you staring at?!" the pint-sized attacker said, standing at least seven inches shorter than her blue-haired target. "Put your sword up and fight!"
"Umm, excuse me?" Jack asked. Sarah had awoken from all the excitement.
"You heard me! Hand over all your cash gently or fight me! And no one try anything or your blue-haired buddy is dead!"
"Well aren't we demanding for such a little girl?" Jack said, holding back a snicker.
"Little Girl!?" she said, outraged. "How do you want it? Foil?" she held her sword in a foil fencing stance. "Or Saber?" she switched to saber stance. Jack smiled and lifted his blade up again.
"Or how about epee, or claymore, or broadsword or TAG?" he said smiling, cycling through the stances for each of the styles. "Or katana or knight-blade or duel sword?" he said going through more stances. The little girl started fuming.
"Look buddy, I don't know who you think you are, but I know every great swordsman in this world and you ain't one of them." Jack just smiled.
"Foil it is then," he said with a grin and held his sword out in a foil en-guard and waited for her to make a move.
"Good!" she screamed and lunged at him. He easily parried and came at her but she blocked it out and lunged again, disengaging his parry and making another pass. The swords started to clang a rapid rate as Aragorn and Sarah watched patiently.
"So who are you?" Jack said, beating away her blade and making a cut with she recovered and blocked.
"Just a girl trying to make a living," she said with a grin, lunging, disengaging and lunging again. The fight continued as Sarah and Aragorn made commentary on the sidelines.
"She pretty good," Sarah said, evaluating the performances of both fighters. "But she's in for a surprise."
"What is that?" Aragorn asked.
"Well, since we're not from around here, of course she wouldn't know who Jack is. Jack is just toying with her," she said simply.
"What do you mean?" Aragorn asked again.
"This girl is good, but Jack's sort of out of her class. He normally claims to lacrosse as his big sport because it's more macho or whatever, but he's almost world renowned as a fencer. He's one all sorts of international competitions in all three major weapons."
"But I thought he couldn't even beat your friend Sean when you two double teamed him," Aragorn said.
"Yeah, that's right," Sarah said. "But when we fought Sean, it wasn't a matter of fencing skill, it's more a matter of Force Tech skill. When Jack fences in competition, he has to wear this little bracelet that reads when he's using Force Tech. It's kind of illegal. If he used Force Technique in official bouts, he would win too fast, since he can increase his speed and agility. When we fought Sean, it left the bounds of normal fencing. Sean was such a better Force Tech user than he could beat us really easily. While he would never actually admit it, Jack would have been able to beat Sean pretty bad in a real fencing match."
"So what you're saying," Aragorn said. "That our little thief friend here doesn't really know what she's in for."
"She'll be able to do okay until Jack decides to end the fight, and then it'll be over." The fight continued still, although they had switched to Saber style and Jack's opponent was starting to get tired.
"Your good," the girl said. "I've never fought anyone like you before."
"Yeah well, I've been doing this for awhile. I should be good," Jack said. He started smiling. "But I'm getting tired of this. This fight is over."
"It's not over until..." the girl started to say, but before she could get the words out, Jack sent off a number of blows, finishing with a series of sword twists that threw his opponents blade into a tree five feet away from her. Jack placed his sword by her neck. She stood, obviously shocked, panting heavily.
"Your good..." she said in awe.
"You're not to bad yourself," he said, lowering his sword. "Now how about you explain why you just attacked us. I certainly hope it isn't in my future to keep meeting people by having them attack me when I'm walking in the woods." He shot a glance at Aragorn who couldn't help but grin.
Time Unknown, Location Unknown
"You see, he handled that well Topik. And did you know he could handle a sword like that?"
"Of course I did. I've been watching this one closely too, Hal," said Topik
"I don't know, this whole thing seems to orchestrated. Unless…"
"Topik!" came three voices at once.
"Well he has to get to the end of time somehow!" Topik said innocently. "I'm just rushing it along a little. Anyway, I'm not controlling anyone, just doing a little manipulation. The girl attacked and fought on her own."
"Topik, that breaks about half of the rules in the book," came a new voice.
"My dear Jal, we can't really stick quite to tight to the rules right now," said Topik, defending himself. "And it looks like the other one is already going to get there on his own, being that he'll probably find that robot soon enough."
"I don't know," came one of the earlier voices. "We haven't quite had a lot of luck with this family."
"He's different," Topik said softly. "I know it."
600ad, east of Dorino
"My name is Rayith," the girl said softly. Jack, Sarah and Aragorn sat silently while Rayith stood and started to explain her side of the story. "I'm not going to bore you with my life story, but I'll try to sum it up."
"I've heard of you," Aragorn said. "You're wanted in Truce for a big reward."
"Really!" Rayith said, kind of excited. "Yeah, well, I'm not popular with the law. Wait a minute, I've seen you before too," she said, pointing to Aragorn. "You used to be a Knight, right?"
"Used to be," he said, emphasizing the 'used to' part. "But I'm not gonna…"
"Hey that's right!" Jack jumped in. "Sarah and I told you everything about our adventure, but you haven't told us jack about your past."
"My past is my business," he said bitterly. "If I choose to reveal it is my prerogative." Jack held his hands up in front of himself in a defensive gesture while Rayith started talking again.
"I believe I'm the one that is talking," she said impatiently. "Anyway, my parents died when I was really little and I had to fend for myself at a young age. I saw being a thief as an easy route, but I needed to learn to defend myself first. I studied swordplay from the greatest swordsmen in this time. I rank myself up there as one of the best fencers in the world, but I've never seen anyone fight with you before," she said, pointing to Jack.
"Well…" Jack started to say.
"We're not really from around here," Sarah said somewhat shyly.
"Are you from Choras?" Rayith asked. "I haven't been there in a while."
"Not really…" Sarah said. "It's not important where we're from. Let's get back to your story."
"It's pretty much finished," Rayith said with a shrug. "I was naturally good with a sword so I started robbing people passing through this region as a way of making cash."
"How did your parents die?" Jack asked.
"Jack!" Sarah scolded him.
"They were murdered," Rayith said grimly. Ignoring Sarah.
"By who?" Jack asked, also ignoring Sarah.
"I this day and age, it's an easy guess."
"Magus…" Aragorn said.
"Yup," Rayith said. There was a long pause "And I'm gonna get him back for it. I think deep down that's the real reason I wanted to learn to use a sword; so I could slit his throat."
"Who is this Magus guy?" Jack asked. Aragorn and Rayith immediately looked at him like he told a bad joke.
"You're kidding right?" Rayith asked. Aragorn was going to say something, but then realized why Jack wouldn't know who Magus was. He didn't pursue it any further, leaving Jack to come up with his own explanation.
"Well…" Jack said, looking at Sarah who nodded. "We're really not from around here. Well, we are, but, we're not. It's like this: we come from a different time." Jack proceeded to tell his story once again. Rayith listened with interest for a little while, but soon got impatient. Jack told the story up until when he, Sarah and Aragorn ran into her. When he finished, Rayith let out an exuberant sigh.
"Are you done?" she asked impatiently.
"Yeah," Jack said.
"Well that explains why I've never seen or heard of you, but that still doesn't explain why you beat me," Rayith said with a thoughtful expression. Sarah jumped in.
"As I told Aragorn before, Jack's out of your league. He's almost world renowned where we come from."
"Oh really?" Rayith asked sarcastically.
"Let's put it this way," Jack said. "I could have beaten you with one hand behind my back and both eyes closed. I'm probably better with a sword than most people in this realm, and I could beat even those who were better than me using that Force Tech stuff I told you about." Aragorn gave him a dirty look, somewhat insulted. Jack looked at Aragorn. "Well, I think I could anyway," he said with a grin.
"I like this guy," Rayith said, standing up. "He's got an even bigger ego than me!" Jack frowned.
"So now what?" Sarah asked. Rayith decided pondered her next move for a moment. Before speaking.
"Take me with you," said. "If you can get back to your time, I can learn some of that Force Tech stuff and then I can surely beat Magus."
"No way!" Jack said. "Let me just say two things." First off, it's not that easy to learn Force Tech. I've been studying it for almost eight years and I'm still not that good with it."
"I thought you were so good at it that 'you could beat everyone,'" Rayith mocked.
"Well…" Jack paused, his ego trapped by his own words. "Never mind that. What I do know is that you can't 'just learn Force Tech.' Also, will somebody tell me who this Magus guy is!" Aragorn looked at Rayith who motioned back to him, telling Aragorn inform his history-impaired friends about the scourge of his time.
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