Doubling back, the group quickly found themselves dashing through the restricted halls of the Mystics’ jail, led by the two Imps.
The brown creature raced in front of them and announced: “By the way, my name is Conger.”
Huffing, Melchior replied, “Forgive us for not shaking your hand.”
The troop’s race was cut short, however, when they spotted a dozen gargoyle-like Diablos charging down the hall towards them.
Turning back in unison, the escapees saw another dozen guards rounding the corner of the hall, just as Conger had warned.
Reacting swiftly, Lucca commanded: “Back to our cell!”
The adventurers followed her lead and piled past the mangled bars into the cell that previously held Crono, Marle, and Lucca as the inventor rummaged through her bag of supplies. Producing a round metallic object, she warned: “Give me room.”
The orb, which Lucca had dubbed a “Mega Bomb,” commenced a series of beeps and drones as she pressed a quick combination of buttons. With lights flashing, the Bomb increased the frequency of its beeping as Lucca set it on the floor next to the wall that faced the inner area of Medina.
“They’re getting closer!” Panlo warned.
“Just a little longer,” the young lady assured.
“We’ll be caught for sure!” Conger wailed.
The blue Imp grasped his partner’s shoulder firmly. “Maybe WE will, but these four will escape,” he declared, motioning towards the humans with his thumb.
Panlo responded with a grim nod.
“Okay,” the brown troll consented. Then, stepping into the hall, the two Imps faced the advancing guards, back-to-back. Crono and his friend watched in amazement as the two dwarves crouched into primitive fighting stances, gritting their teeth and clenching their fists as hard as they could.
“Go on,” Panlo ordered, “We’ll hold them off for you!”
But, instead of running to attack, the Imps stood in position, muscles tensed. Suddenly, each Imp was enveloped in an odd purple aura that rippled in the air surrounding them. As their alien glows increased, the trolls let out blood-curdling battle screams and threw themselves in both directions down the hall.
Crono leaned out of the cell in amazement and watched the blue Imp launch himself at the Mystic guards. It looked as if he wasn’t running, but rather flying towards his assailants. Just as Panlo delivered a crushing head butt to the lead monster, the Mega Bomb detonated.
In the smoke and confusion, the boy felt an urgent tug at his sleeve. With Marle in his arms, the youth leapt out of the gaping hole in the cell wall after Lucca. As he left, he could hear horrible cries of agony coming from the halls of the prison. He forced himself not to think about who was winning and who was being slaughtered as he fell out of the second story of the brig.
Landing gingerly in the prison vegetable garden, Crono quickly made way for Lucca as she pushed a cart of freshly-picked lettuce under the hole to catch the elderly weaponsmith. Landing clumsily in the leafy cushion, the Guru of Life pointed his staff towards the front gate of Medina’s fortification.
Fortunately, the sprint to the fort’s entrance was short. However, the constant volley of arrows from the parapets complicated the trip, especially for Crono, who had to carry the unconscious princess of Guardia. As they neared the hefty wooden doors, Lucca suggested: “Leave this to me.”
Dashing ahead of her comrades, the inventor tried her hardest to focus her energies while running and dodging bolts from the Mystic guards. Closing her eyes and concentrating, she leapt in the air as hard as she could. Spinning once, Lucca threw a palm towards the door. Instantly, a shower of flame erupted from her hand and rammed itself through the huge portal of the fortress.
Crashing clumsily to the ground, Lucca yelled, “Go!” as Melchior and Crono caught up with her. She now followed them through the charred and splintered doors, frantically scrambling to her feet and demanding that her body ignore its many sprains and bruises for the time being.
The group ran as hard as their elderly, weighed down, or injured legs could take them. Luckily, their rapid escape and the distraction provided by their Impish allies put a healthy distance between the troop and their Mystic pursuers.
Epoch silently greeted the winded adventurers at the end of their run. Placing the sleeping princess in the back seat of the time jet, Crono turned to Melchior.
“Give me your hat and jacket,” he requested.
The Guru relinquished his outer garb without question. The boy proceeded to tear up the regal Zealian clothes. Anticipating an inquiry, he explained: “When they see this at the end of our trail, they’ll think we were killed by an animal.”
“Ah ha,” Lucca realized. She then proceeded to rip a chunk of her own jacket off, using a small screwdriver from her belt to start the tear. Crono followed suit, and left his boots behind as well.
“But... my entire jacket,” the elderly man protested.
“Don’t worry,” Lucca reassured, “When we go back and fix this your jacket will never have been ripped up.”
“But I’ll probably remember it anyway,” the Guru pouted.
Corralling his friends into the aircraft, Crono leapt into the Epoch and steered it swiftly to the south, knowing that his hoax would be ruined if the Mystics caught sight of the plane.
When the Epoch reached a safe distance away from Medina’s mainland, the youth increased its altitude and turned it westward towards Guardia. With the Guardian heir perched in her lap, Lucca looked back and respectfully mused:
“I wonder why those two helped us out.”
“You’ve met them before,” Melchior claimed.
A second’s thought allowed Lucca to conclude: “Were they the Imps from the house that had the Timegate?”
“Indeed,” the wiseman answered. “Panlo and Conger: even in this day, they questioned the Mystics’ incessant hatred for humans. They helped convince the Mystic leaders to spare me at the expense of their own reputations. Frequently they were able to sneak into the prison and smuggle me food. I told them about you kids, and although they didn’t remember you, they were prepared to help you when you came for me.”
“Wow,” the inventor marveled. “But what did they do back there?”
The old man’s tone suddenly became very somber; his eyes closed behind his shaded spectacles. “Although the Imps are physically weak, they are able to, in rare cases, summon great destructive powers.
“However,” he added, lowering his eyes behind their glasses, “the strain often costs them their very lives.”
“You mean, they...?” Lucca trailed off. An ominous silence fell over the cabin of the Epoch; only the faint breathing of the unconscious Marle could be detected. The young scientist felt a hot, tingling sensation in the back of her head. She turned in her seat and gazed back towards Medina, and a mosaic of thoughts ran through her head: the memory of the group’s first arrival in the Mystic village, their numerous battles with the monsters and aberrations that infested history, their confrontation with Lavos, the Moonlight Parade, the view of Truce village after it had been moved, and her father leaning on his workbench, telling her that her mother was dead. Eyes closed as tightly as possible, she bowed her head in reverence for the sacrifice made by the Imps whose names she had just now learned.
To Chapter Six
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