Chapter 8- New Weapons, New Troubles
600ad: East of Dorino
"The humans have sort of always been at ends with the mystics," Aragorn said. "But it wasn't until Magus appeared that we actually went to war with them."
"When did this Magus guy show up?" Sarah asked.
"No one really knows," Aragorn answered. "Everyone just knows that one day the sorcerer known as Magus showed up and led the Mystic armies to war with the Humans. There wasn't war right away, but for at least a year, the human armies have had minor skirmishes with Magus's troops."
"So he's a general, right?" Jack asked.
"Yes, but he's a cruel, manipulative, murderous person. He kills freely, normally letting his underlings do his work for him. But, every now and then, he comes out of his castle and releases his wrath on helpless victims," Aragorn said.
"So basically he's an extremely powerfully, slightly insane, totally ruthless bad guy?" Sarah said, summing up Magus.
"He uses magic," Rayith said, "that's what makes him so strong. No one knows where he got his powers, but what is known is that he's by far the most powerful wizard in the world. That's why I need to learn Force Tech to beat him." Rayith stood up. "You're taking me with you!" she demanded.
"No way!" Jack said, standing up to meet her. "You attacked us and now you want to come with us?!"
"And besides," Sarah said, "Aragorn here knows the land so we don't need anyone else just because they're 'familiar with the terrain.'"
"Well..." Rayith said slyly. "If you don't take me with you..." she turned and ran twenty feet from the other three. "I won't give you your money back!" she held up a few bags and Jack's wallet in triumph before sprinting away.
"How the hell did she get those!?" Jack screamed before sprinting after her.
"Jack, wait a minute!" Sarah said, her and Aragorn jumping up and following.
"Not a chance Sarah!" Jack screamed back over his shoulder. "Or at least not before I wring that girls neck!" He started to glow green and picked up speed, hoping to catch Rayith before she left the forest.
Jack managed to catch up to Rayith, but she wouldn't give him back his money. Jack was reaching the end of his patience and on top of that, he couldn't bring himself to hurt this girl standing before him. All she wanted was revenge, and she needed the means to achieve it. Isn't that what he wanted? He was looking for revenge also, revenge on Lavos for taking the life of one of his closest friends. He would do what it took to gain the means for revenge, so shouldn't he let her do the same?
"All right, you can come with me," Jack said, after much deliberation with his own thoughts. Rayith started to smile. "But I don't guarantee that you'll be able to learn Force Tech."
"I'll take the chance," she confidently. "And once we get back to your time, I'll give you your cash back."
"If we get back to my time," he corrected her. At this point, Aragorn and Sarah caught up to them.
"What's the deal?" Sarah asked Jack.
"I'm letting her come," he answered. "And she promises that when we get back to our time she'll give our cash back."
"That's if we get back," she said. "But let's not waste anymore time. I want to get to Truce as soon as possible." They were by the edge of the forest at this point and they could see that the sun was starting to set. Without words, the four travelers set out to Truce. They crossed the newly rebuilt Zenan Bridge at around dusk. Aragorn thought that having Rayith with them would prompt some questioning so they decided to sneak past the guards. To the party's delight, they found all three guards asleep.
"What a great job they're doing guarding the kingdom," Aragorn mumbled sarcastically, receiving a harsh 'shhh' from the other three. They continued on without speech and crossed the plains before reaching Truce at about midday. The group wandered into town, both exhausted and starving. The streets were packed with excited townspeople going about their everyday business.
"Shall I show you this sword shop?" Aragorn asked. "It's close to here. I would recommend that someone reserve a place at an inn, before we get closed out."
"Well since I've got everyone's money, I'll take care of the inn part. I know the weapon shop Aragorn is talking about, I'll meet you three there," Rayith said cheerfully, running off down the street. Aragorn turned left and started walking, Jack and Sarah following without conversation. The three of them walked a good distance into town until they came on to a small store. It was nestled between two larger buildings and looked like it needed some repairs. The awning over the entrance was torn and the door appeared broken. The two windows on either side of the door were boarded up.
"This is it," Aragorn said, walking to the store and opening the door, kicking up a cloud of dust. Jack and Sarah followed with puzzled looks, soon finding themselves in a dusty, candlelit room with swords lining the walls. Despite the condition of the store itself, all of the blades looked to be in prime condition. Jack gazed at the weapons wishfully, like a little boy in a candy store.
"If it looked nicer on the outside, more people might actually come in here," Sarah said. "But this certainly classifies as a treasure trove."
"Like I said," Aragorn said proudly, "it's the best sword place around. You don't find a sword like this anywhere, you know." He fondled his mammoth sword. "There's something for you no matter what you specialize in." Jack grabbed a long, slightly curved sword off of a rack and held it up. It was about six feet long with an extremely sharp, single edged blade. Sarah also played around with a number of weapons.
"I like this," Jack said softly, "but I don't really do long blades. I need something shorter and a little wider." He was talking to himself, but Aragorn overheard and handed him a different blade. It was about three and a half feet in length, double edged, two inches across at the hilt. The hilt itself was adequately decorated with two golden spikes facing the tip of the blade, and a blue gem above the grip. Jack handled it with a smile.
"It's light as a feather," he said, somewhat surprised.
"You'll find most of my weapons are superbly balanced, jus like that one," came a voice from the a door on the far wall. A short old man with a beard walked into the room, obviously the owner of the store. "It's actually not that light, it's the balance of weight that makes it seem like that."
"Are you the owner?" Sarah asked, playing around with a two blade set, a decorous rapier and a long dagger.
"Yes, this is my store," the old man said.
"How are you doing Cid?" Aragorn asked the old man.
"I'm managing, my fine young man," Cid replied. "It's about time you brought someone new around."
"Well, I figured if they needed weapons, why not have the best?" Aragorn once again handled his sword. "If you guys have any questions, ask Cid over here. He knows just about everything as far as I can tell," he told the others.
"You flatter me," Cid said sarcastically.
"I have a question," Sarah said, walking over to the old man. "Why don't you make the outside of this store look more inviting, you might get more customers like that." Cid thought about the question for a moment before answering.
"The only people that have business here are those who demand the highest quality in weapons. This store is not open to those who don't. It is through faithful customers like Aragorn here that other customers find this place. If someone is looking for the highest quality in a blade, they eventually find my store." No one argued with this. Jack walked up to the old man and held out the blade he was holding.
"Two questions," Jack said. "How much, and does it have a sheath?"
"The sheath is on the wall over there," Cid said, pointing to the wall that Aragorn had originally taken the blade off of. "And that blade is 1200 gold."
"Do you mind if I wait until the person with our money comes? She shouldn't be long."
"Make yourself at home," Cid said with a smile. "There are many blades which I'm sure you would like to examine." Jack wandered around the store, examining each weapon with interest. Sarah was doing likewise, until she found something that confused her.
"Jack?" she said, in an almost worried voice. "Come see this." Jack walked over to where Sarah was as she held up a small rod with a dull red coating.
"It's…" Jack started, but loosing his voice.
"It's a TAG…" she finished his sentence.
"It's not just any TAG," he said, sounding very confused. "This looks identical to the TAG that Sean battled Lavos with…" Jack slowly took the rod from Sarah but as he wrapped his hand around it, a brilliant red blade shot out of the handle, the same color as Sean's red TAG. Soon after though, a few sparks shot out of the handle and the blade disappeared.
"Hey!" Cid shouted from the opposite corner, running over to where Jack was standing with the seemingly dead TAG. "How did you do that?! I've been trying to see what that thing does for at least ten years!"
"I just grabbed it, that's all…" a puzzled Jack said, examining the TAG closer. "But it doesn't make sense," he whispered to himself. "TAGs weren't invented until the 1980's. How is there one in the year 600…"
"This is weird," Sarah said, analyzing the situation. Jack turned to the old man, still stunned at the turn of events. At this point, Aragorn had finished examining a number of swords and had walked over.
"How much do you want for this?" Jack asked very sternly.
"Well, since you're the only one that's ever actually gotten that blasted rod to do anything, it's yours."
"You're giving it to me?"
"Yes," Cid said with his hand to his chin. "I think this is definitely something for you." Jack thought about for a moment before sliding the rod into a pocket in his pants. Before he could thank the man however, Rayith came storming into the room, screaming.
"You call this money!?" she screamed, tossing Jack his wallet. "It's only paper!" Jack suppressed a smile. Sarah could do quite the same, giggling shyly. "Anyway, thanks to that, I had to pay for the room myself. Plus, there were a bunch of people looking at me like they wanted to lynch me!"
"How are you Rayith," Cid asked with a hint of sarcasm.
"Oh, hey old man," she said, pausing her scolding of Jack. "You get that blade I wanted?"
"Yes, it's back here," Cid said, walking through the door he came out of previously, reappearing with a thin, single edged blade with a simple hilt. "Here it is," he said, handing it to Rayith. Rayith made a few swipes with it before switching it's position with her old sword, placing the new one in belt sheath and handing the old one to Cid.
"I'll give you 300 gold and my old sword for it," she said with a smile.
"500," Cid said simply.
"Don't toy with me old man," she said somewhat maliciously. "I'll give you 425 for it."
"Done," Cid said. Rayith handed him some gold coins. "And I suppose you'll be paying for these two as well," Cid said, indicating Jack and Sarah with a smile. Rayith grimaced before grabbing more gold out of a pouch.
"How much?" she said angrily.
"Including trade-ins, It'll be 300 for the young man's blade and 250 for the rapier-dagger set the young lady has chosen." Without a word she handed him more coins before walking towards the door.
"We're at the Gorgon Inn," she said bluntly. "I'll see you there tonight." Rayith then stormed out of the store, going to her own business.
"Probably going to pick pocket some helpless victims," Jack mumbled. "Anyway, where's the sheath to this baby," he said, holding out his new blade. Aragorn tossed him a leather sheath with a shoulder strap. Jack put the sword in the sheath and strapped it on his back. "Ready?" he directing the question to both Aragorn and Sarah.
"Yup," Sarah said, putting the dagger in a sheath on the back of her waist and the sword in it's belt sheath. "Let's go." The three of them walked towards the entrance. Jack opened the door.
"Thanks Cid," Jack said with a wave.
"Come back anytime," he answered. The three left the store and started walking down the road. "What an interesting group," Cid said to himself. "Interesting indeed."
Time Unknown, Location Unknown
"It wasn't me," Topik said innocently.
"Yeah right," Jal said. "That kind of thing happens every day."
"I swear, it wasn't me!" he said again.
600ad, Town of Truce
Jack and Sarah were sitting at a table in their room at the Gorgon Inn. Jack was fiddling madly with both his old TAG and his new mystery TAG. He started helplessly at the innards of the mystery TAG. He had spent the last hour opening it up, and now it provided him with no answers.
"It doesn't make sense," he said softly.
"What doesn't?" Sarah asked walking behind him and looking over his shoulder at the dissected weapon on the table before them.
"There's no tritanium in this thing. Most of the rest of the layout is basically the same, but there's no tritanium."
"What's that thing" she asked, pointing to where the tritanium would normally be mounted in the butt of the grip. It it's place was a rod of red crystal-like material that was semi transparent.
"I don't know, but it looks like the exact same stuff that the focusing crystal is made out of," Jack said, removing the focusing crystal from it's mount above the red rod. He held it up to the light to examine it. It was dark red and semi transparent like the rod, but instead of being a smooth rod, the crystal was about the size of a quarter, cut in a style that Jack had never seen before.
"Do you recognize this red stone?" Sarah asked, taking the focusing crystal from Jack and looking at it.
"I've never seen it before in my life," he said with a shrug. "The stone isn't what bothers me though. What really gets to me is that unless that without tritanium, I don't know where it gets it's power from." At this moment, Aragorn walked into the room. He propped his sword against the wall and sat down at the table.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," Jack said, replacing the focusing crystal and putting the part of the TAG's outer covering he had removed back into place. "We were just looking at this weapon, trying to see why it shorted out like it did back in the store."
"Did you figure it out," Aragorn asked.
"Not in the slightest," Sarah said with a sigh. "To bad too. If we knew how this one worked, we might be able to fix our own TAGs."
"Actually," Jack said, lifting up his new sword, "I kind of like this thing better than that crappy TAG. I'll bet my new sword has more cutting potential anyway…"
"It doesn't really matter," Sarah said, walking over to her bed and sitting down. "But we're gonna be in a bit of trouble when we get back and HQ finds out we busted these things." She held up her non-functioning TAG. "I don't think that they're cheap to make."
"You worry to much," Jack said, jumping on to his bed and taking off his vest. He had gone shopping earlier that day and had bought a shirt. It was white, much like his old workout shirt. He had to pick pocket a villager to get the money for it, but it wasn't too difficult as the guy had been totally oblivious. Jack also picked up a new pair of pants and a black shirt for Sarah, for the next time she decided to take a bath without drying off. "As for me, I'll see you all in the morning." The exhausted Jack lay down and closed his eyes.
"Whatever…" Sarah mumbled before trying to get to sleep also. Aragorn did likewise after blowing out all of the candles. No one heard when Rayith entered the room, much latter that night.
Sarah gazed with lidless eyes at the spectacle before her. It looked like the whole world was on fire, the heat burning at her skin. She could see Jack standing at the edge of the cliff that was before her. His hair was a lot longer than she thought it was, reaching down to his waist, and there was a gapping scar down the right side of his face, but other than that, he looked the same. Slowly her turned toward her and started walking.
"I'll take care of it," he said, very confidently. He reached for the sword that was on his back but as he pulled the blade out of it's sheath, the hilt slowly changed from a very simple design to an extremely ornate design, making the sword look almost like it had wings. That was when she noticed the sword itself. It was glowing red, almost a transparent blade, starting three feet long but growing to almost four feet as he pulled it in front of him. He held the seemingly mythical weapon very confidently until a scream no human could make filled the air.
"Jack?" She asked somewhat scarred, but receiving no reply. Instead Jack started to run towards the source of the scream. "Jack?!" she asked again, this time screaming it, but still not receiving a reply. Jack continued to run until he left to sight, disappearing into the fire. "Jack!!" she screamed seemingly into nothingness until everything went black.
Sarah nearly jumped out of her bed, covered in sweat. She was about to scream, but couldn't find her voice. "Just a dream?" she asked herself. "But it seemed so real…" Sarah wiped the sweat off her face with the covers and put her head back on the pillow and tried to go back to a hopefully peaceful sleep.
The party all arose the next morning easily, except Sarah who needed a little more coaxing. Jack shook her shoulder gently as she slowly opened her eyes and stared at him.
"Jack?" she asked, hoping for an answer.
"Yeah, I'm Jack," he said, somewhat sarcastically. "Something wrong?" She shook her head and climbed out of bed.
"No, it's nothing," she said, starting to gather her stuff. "We better get going. Is Rayith here?" Rayith was sitting on the far end of her bed, tying her shoes. She looked over her shoulder to address Sarah.
"Yeah, what?" she said, slightly bitterly.
"Nothing," Sarah said. "I was just making sure you were still alive." Rayith gave her a dirty look as she walked out of the room. He group packed up quickly before going out to the town. It was late in the morning already but they hadn't eaten breakfast so everyone hoped that this excursion wouldn't take long. They questioned the townsfolk about the appearance of a girl with purple hair. Most people looked at them oddly but they got a few responses. Apparently, Lucca had passed through here about three days ago. According to most people, she was traveling with a boy with spiky red hair and girl with a long blonde ponytail. That was all most people could tell them, but the party received a few responses including the location "Truce Canyon." Apparently, about three people had seen them headed that way.
Aragorn soon took the lead and led the group to Truce Canyon. It wasn't very large and monsters around didn't seem intent on attacking so everyone proceeded up the rocks and across a small bridge without difficulty. They cam on to small clearing that was empty at first site, but upon further investigation, Aragorn located a small blackish blue circle in the middle of the clearing. It was floating in the air, not more than the width of a quarter, but no one knew what it was.
"What is that?" Sarah asked, not expecting an answer.
"I've never seen anything like it before," Rayith commented, going to touch it, but her hand passed right through the anomaly. Jack walked slowly and silently to the thing, hovering without noise at his waist. I reached his hand out very slowly and to his surprise, his hand started to glow a blue-black. As he came closer to the circle, the glow around his hand intensified until came into contact with it. With a spark, the circle began to grow at a steady rate until it became a sphere about six feet in diameter. It crackled with energy as a very surprised Jack jumped away from it.
"What'd you do?!" Rayith exclaimed.
"I-I don't know," Jack said, stuttering a little. There was a slight wind picking up from the vortex that they were staring at.
"What is it?" Aragorn asked in mixed awe and excitement. "I've never seen anything like this in my life. Jack dropped his head, staring at the ground.
"I have," Sarah said softly.
"I have also," Jack said. "This is a lot like the thing that swallowed me and Sarah up when we fought Lavos."
"It's time gate?!" Rayith asked.
"I think so," Jack said. "But I would figure that it would be unstable just by itself."
"It looks okay," Rayith said. She paused for a bit. "Well, I've never been one to think things through to much. I'll see you all on the other side." With that she jumped into the sphere, disappearing as she entered whatever was within. Jack tried to stop her but it was too late.
"Well?" Sarah asked.
"Well what?" Jack asked back. "Do we have much of a choice. The only way we're getting home is by time travel," Jack started to say something else but closed his mouth and walked up to the vortex. After a short pause, he leaped into it, being swallowed up with Rayith. After Jack entered it, the sphere started to get smaller.
"Hurry Sarah!" Aragorn said. "It's closing!"
"I hate you sometimes Jack McKlane!" Sarah screamed before jumping into the portal. It continued to shrink and started to emit a sucking noise. Aragorn took that as his cue and jumped in as well. As he entered the unknown, the portal stopped it's shrinking before cackling with electricity. It flashed a few times before starting to close again. This time, it finished closing, locking Jack and his friends fate to what ever was on the other end.
"There is no spoon." -Neo from "The Matrix"
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