12: Explanations, Revelations, and
Dargaard’s Crown, Dargaard.
Darrell woke up screaming in a small, dark room. He looked around himself in a panic, drops of sweat pouring off of his brow as he tried desperately to find something, anything familiar. His parents…
“T-they’re dead.” He said, his voice not carrying at all in the rather small space he now occupied. The young man sat up in the bed, which was little more than a hard pallet elevated a few feet off the ground, and wondered at his words. His parents were dead. He’d never even known them before this harrowing experience, and… even at that, he’d never spoken to them. They’d never truly known who he was.
And at the same time, the wound felt so fresh, so poignant.
“It shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t have happened.” He muttered, pulling himself off of the bed, noting that his feet were bare as they touched a hard tile floor. He was wearing some sort of robe, he could tell, one that stretched down to his ankles, and nothing else.
“Where am I?” he wondered aloud, beginning to fumble around in the dark for a light switch of some sort.
Before he could find one, the overhead lights flared to life of their own volition, and Lucia Meleraii stood before him. “Good, you’re finally awake. Your friends were starting to become… concerned, to say the least.”
“Then… I’m back on Dargaard? How long have I been out?”
“Five days. Whatever you saw in the past must have truly upset you. Zohar was reprimanding me for sending you there.”
Darrell blinked. “Zohar… concerned for my well-being?”
“Don’t tell him I told you that, though.” The Eternal said, smirking. “He’ll simply deny it, or come up with some way to make it insulting.”
“Don’t I know it…” Darrell muttered. “Can I see them? I’ve got a lot of questions for you, and I want Terra to hear them, too.”
Lucia shrugged. “Certainly, if you’re up to my method of travel.”
Just as Darrell was thinking about saying perhaps he’d walk, everything around him faded into green energy – he now noted that this energy structure was similar to that present in the space between times, save in color – and they were off.
Soon enough, they’d reappeared in the large den-type room they’d met in six days ago. Zohar and Terra were sitting before a blazing fire, neither of them talking, really, until they saw Lucia reappear with Darrell.
Terra was the first to greet Darrell, jumping from her seat and hugging the young man so tightly that he could scarcely breathe.
“It’s… good to… see you, too… Terra.” Darrell managed to get out, patting the young woman on the back.
As soon as he managed to get Terra to release him, Zohar greeted Darrell with a nod of the head. “T’sup, Shanning.” The little finori said simply.
“Now, then. I imagine you’ve gone through a lot over these past days… or, from your point of view, weeks.” Lucia said, already sitting in a large leather armchair to the right of the fire. “Perhaps you could relate to us what you saw.”
“Oh, give him a break, Lucia!” Terra said, crossing her arms. “He’s probably still exhausted, thanks to what you did. I mean, sending him back to that time…”
“It’s okay, Terra.” Darrell put in, patting her on the shoulder reassuringly. “I want to tell you guys what I saw back there… and then Lucia needs to explain a few things to me, since I get the impression she knows most everything there is to know about this dimension.”
Lucia rolled her eyes. “Hardly. I’m well-informed, but I don’t know everything.”
“Well, whatever.” Darrell said. “I’m willing to wager you know enough to answer my questions.”
And with that, the young man launched into his long story, sparing no detail. He told them with confusion of the different terms he’d heard his father, mother, and Terin use over the course of things, and he told them of that final battle with tears in his eyes.
When he was finished, Zohar let out a low whistle. “I didn’t know that your planet’s little saga had attracted so much attention… geez.”
Terra was similarly overcome. “The senator KNEW that Grendel was going to surface when he did?! And he did nothing?!?” she shook her head, and slammed one fist down on the arm of her chair.
Lucia just sat in silence, her glimmering eyes seeming to process all of this information.
“I’m sure you can take a wild guess as to my questions, Lucia.” Darrell said, pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace. “What in the world is a Wanderer? And for that matter, what are Hunters, and Riven? Unless, of course, you don’t know any of that.” He uttered the last with no small bit of sarcasm.
“Oh, no. I know exactly what all of those things are… and who Grey Terin is, for that matter.” Lucia sighed and leaned back in her chair. “But I would guess you’re most curious about the Hunters of Riven, given that your parents were apparently numbered among them.
“Basically,” she began, “Hunters are an organization of people similar to the Seekers of Karonne, with a few differences. For one, they were not born on Earth, or any such planet as that. The original Hunters were actually the most powerful magic-using survivors of various planets that had either been taken out or infested by lavoids.”
“Taken out OR infested?” Terra said quizzically. “Isn’t it the same thing?”
“Not necessarily.” Lucia returned. “There are some planets with beings powerful enough to take out a lavoid. Some such beings founded the Hunters.”
Zohar raised an eyebrow. “I haven’t heard of these guys. What’re you talking about, Lucia, the LEA?”
Lucia shook her head emphatically. “No. Oh, no. The majority of Hunters were human, not… tainted like those others. Also, the fact that they still exist should give you a big hint.
“Anyway,” she continued, “The Hunters founded a civilization dedicated to the end of the lavoid menace on the planet Riven, way out in what your cartographers call the Unknown Sectors, where there’re few inhabitable planets, and even less lavoid influence.”
“So… they’re basically a different version of the Seekers.” Terra said, her brow furrowed.
“Again, not really. Where the Seekers simply attempt to influence change, the Hunters often did. There have been a number of planets saved due to their intervention, althought they’ve always kept such intervention hidden in the past. One rather obvious case of this would be your own planet, Darrell. If it hadn’t been for the intervention of Grey, your planet likely could have been saved.”
“And then it wouldn’t have even been my own planet…” the young man mused, finally sitting down in a chair near Terra.
“No use wondering about the would-haves and could-haves, Shanning.” Lucia said. “That’s why the other timestreams, the other dimensions, exist.
“Now then… the Wanderers. I assume you gathered, from what you told us, an inkling of what they are. Like the finori here and myself, the Wanderers are people who have gained the ability to traverse time, space, and the fifth dimension.”
“Yeah, but they’re not the same as myself or Lucia here.” Zohar put in eagerly.
“Shut up, Zohar. If I’m going to have to explain something, I don’t need your help to do it.” Her eyes glinted. “But he’s right. Whereas Zohar and I are able to travel the Multiverse as a result of our own innate abilities, and genetics, the Wanderers were once ordinary humans, demihumans, and assorted other races.
“Basically, through any one of a vast number of circumstances, they gained the – typically magical – abilities necessary to break the dimensional gap. For the most part, people who have mastered such magic also have a limited control over aging, and live on for thousands of years.
“But Grey Terin is a special case.” The eternal rested her chin in the palm of her hand, using the other to brush a strand of blue hair out of her face. “While he is indeed a formidable mage, as you found out firsthand, he does not actually have the magical abilities to break the dimensional curtain. He came across a technological device that harnessed the energy of chaos at some point in his early life, and has since used it to gain a vast amount of power.”
“So, like my parents said, he’s not even really a Wanderer.” Darrell said, thinking hard.
“In that respect alone, no. But, as I said, he has gained a vast amount of energy in other areas, and has thus lived for hundreds of years… though I seriously doubt if he’s hit the thousand mark yet. It is simply that the manipulation of chaos energy necessary to warp through time and the fifth dimension is beyond his ability. He’s an elemental mage, pure and simple.”
Darrell didn’t really understand, but there were more pressing matters on his mind than simply understanding every vague term that Lucia used. “One last question, then, Lucia. I was greatful to learn this, of course, but… how did it help me learn to control my Id at all?”
Lucia smirked, her steely eyes glimmering apart from the light of the fire. “Perhaps you noticed, but when I sent your spirit back in time, I joined it to that of your ‘Id.’ From the moment he stopped correcting you, the seperation of personalities no longer existed.”
“W-what?!?!” Darrell’s eyes widened. “I… I didn’t even notice…”
“No, I wouldn’t imagine that you would. However, if you tap your memories now, you’ll find that you know a fairly large number of magical spells and such, things that were previously locked down by your Id persona. You may also notice that you’re a bit more pissed off at the lavoid and Grey Terin than before… but I don’t suppose you could have gotten much more angry with them, eh?”
Darrell blinked. “Y…you’re right. I do ‘know’ how to use the magical energy… and chi, too, it seems… everything that Id kept from me. I didn’t really notice it until you mentioned it.”
Lucia smiled. “That energy is your heritage. It shall serve you well, I trust.”
“Then… the ‘physical’ training was just a ruse for this!” the young man conjectured. “But… why?”
The keeper of Dargaard’s Crown laughed a bit at that. “True, the physical training brought you no closer to your Id, but I wasn’t kidding when I said you needed it. Believe it or not, kid, you’re out of shape.”
Terra and Zohar both started laughing at that, and Darrell found his face turning an interesting shade of red.
“Now, then…” Lucia said. “I believe your business is about finished here, and you must be anxious to go after Grendel.”
Darrell nodded hesitantly. “Yes… but, we don’t really have a clue where to find him. Cynewulf and Meryl talked like they might be able to find some sort of tracking equipment, but I’m a bit skeptical of that.”
Lucia nodded. “And rightly so, I’d say. May I make a suggestion as to your next destination?”
“Go to Riven. I’m not certain of the current state of the Hunters, but they’re certain to have the equipment you need to find the lavoid. Who knows, perhaps they’ll even help you.”
Darrell nodded. “How will I find the place, though?”
The eternal tapped her right temple with a finger. “The knowledge lies within you, Darrell, thanks to the memories of your early childhood… formerly hidden by Id.”
“I…” the young man thought for a moment. “Geez… you’re right again. I don’t know exactly how, but I do know just where to look.”
Lucia didn’t respond to that, and in fact vanished entirely from her seat without so much as another word. Darrell nearly fell out of his chair at the shock – whether or not he knew how to cast it, the sight of magic still managed to surprise him – and Terra experienced a similar reaction. Only Zohar seemed to need what was going on.
“I can’t believe she’s actually going to do it… she must really like you guys.” The finori said to himself.
“What?” Terra asked, looking suspiciously at the little alien.
“Oh, nothing. Just saying I can’t really understand why on earth she can stand you two.”
“As I recall, finori,” Terra returned, “I believe you were rather worried about Darrell when he was out, not too long ago.”
“What does that have to do with me talking about Lucia, Lyles? And besides, I just didn’t want Darrell to spoil the incredibly entertaining, and incredibly fatal, battle with the lavoid you’re all going to have!”
“Hey, shut up, Zohar!” the young woman got out of her chair, gazing at Zohar menacingly. He seemed all too glad to return the gesture, lifting off from the floor so that he could stare her in the eye.
“Hey, hey, you two! Calm down!” Darrell said, trying to put himself between the two.
“Oh, honestly. Can’t I leave you children alone for a minute without a fight breaking out?” the voice belonged to Lucia, who had reappeared where she’d been sitting.
“Where did you go just now, Lucia?” Darrell asked as soon as Terra and Zohar sat back down.
“Just to get a few things. Like I said, Darrell, I can’t fight your battles for you, and I can’t change the timestream, but don’t take that to mean that I don’t want you to succeed. I want the lavoid race to be put out of commission as badly as any of you… I simply have more pressing things to attend to, along with the scant few other members of my race.”
She stood up, and walked over to Terra first. “For you, Terra, for your fight with Grendel… and any others that shall inevitably fall along the way.” She held out a pair of gloves to the young woman… gloves that were only too familiar to her. “The Kaiser Knuckles. They were worn by Sabin Figaro during his battle against the madman Kefka, and now they should be used for a new battle.”
Terra, almost disbelieving what she was hearing and seeing, gingerly reached out and grabbed the knuckles, studying them like a child would a 2-foot long candy bar. “H-how did you know?” she said quietly.
“Thank your little finori friend. When he took you on that mad tour of the premises, he noted your interest in these. I can gain another pair, and your fighting spirit makes you a worthy possessor of them.”
Terra bowed her head in thanks, and slowly and reverently pulled the gloves on over her hands. They fit perfectly.
“And for you, Zohar…” Lucia said, stepping over to the little finori. He grinned eagerly and held out his hands for whatever gift the eternal would bestow upon him. “A word of advice. Watch your constant sarcasm. You know as well as I the reason you’ve traveled alone for these many years. These people… are the closest to friends you’ve had in a long time. Trust them.”
Zohar rolled his eyes, but Lucia could tell her words had had an effect, especially when the little finori resisted the urge to make a sarcastic quip in return.
“And lastly, for you, Darrell.”
First, Lucia pulled a pair of thin long daggers from her belt, and held them before her face. “These,” she said, “are the Ilinumbar. You may not recognize them, but they are daggers identical to the ones your parents used in their last battle with Grey Terin, save from a different timestream. There is an enchantment on them that amplifies the force you put into them, so that it becomes almost effortless to defend or attack. Use them well.” She handed them to Darrell. The young man studied them intently, slowly twisting them about in his hands.
“Also, here’s something you’d do well to study over.” As she spoke, the eternal pulled a book forth from thin air, it seemed. It was thick – probably well over 1000 pages – and leather-bound. On the cover, the title “Multiverse Theories, and a Compendium of Magic” was embossed. “This basically can tell you in depth the things that Zohar explained to you… and the last five to six hundred pages are a compendium of useful battle and healing spells. It is through tomes like this one that you increase your magical arsenal… well, that and actual experience. There’s no substitute for that, as I’m sure you’ve learned.”
Darrell nodded, and reverently pulled the book to himself, looking at it as he would a close friend. “I… I don’t know how to thank you, Lucia.”
Lucia smirked. “Kill that lavoid, and prove all of the Multiverse travelers wrong. Prove that the power to destroy something like that… abomination exists even in the hearts of humans.
“Now then.” The ancient one continued, “It’s probably best that you head back for Karonne to pick up your Seeker friends, and get to Riven. I imagine you can track down Grendel, but wait too long and he’ll simply infest another planet. And believe me, what you’ll have to go through to stop him at that point won’t be fun.”
Without another word, she teleported the lot of them back out to the roof of the building. Fortunately, Darrell had gotten used enough to the spell that the sudden lurching didn’t make him sick.
The winds were still just as strong as they had been a week before, but thankfully, their ship was only a few yards away. As Terra entered the code to open the door, the three of them bid a final farewell to Lucia.
“Thank you again, Lucia, for… for everything you’ve done for us.” Darrell said, nodding at the woman.
“Yeah, Lucia. Thanks for not blasting us out of the sky as soon as you found out I was aboard, too. The ethereals know our last… experience together wasn’t entirely pleasant.” Zohar added.
The eternal smirked. “I shan’t be so kind next time, perhaps, finori. And Darrell… you are most welcome. To paraphrase the eternal Lucent Mazer, your company, all of you, has been most… entertaining. It’s been years since I really spoke to anyone.”
“Perhaps we shall be able to return one day, when this is all over.” Darrell said.
“Oh, I don’t know about all that, now. If my presence in the Multiverse becomes too widely known, I’ll simply have to move on, and believe me, that would be an inconvenient process.” She smirked with the words, and her eyes glittered. “But I suppose another visit wouldn’t hurt, some time in the future… just make sure to keep it private.”
Darrell nodded one last time, then turned and boarded the ship. He was followed closely by Zohar and Terra. They all took their seats in the cockpit, surprised to see that nothing had been disturbed even slightly. As Terra started up the engines, her spiked knuckles strangely complementing the circuitry and steel of the ship, she said something that Darrell found all too fitting to the situation.
“What a strange being… and yet… she was passionate. Her actions almost contradict her every word.”
“Ah, that’s not so strange.” Zohar said, surprisingly serious, as Dargaard’s Crown disappeared beneath the cloud cover.
Darrell didn’t respond to that, but a small smile formed on his face.
anytime. We'll ride the wind, babe.”
-- Jonny, Chrono Trigger
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