|The Chronicles of the Abyss
Author: element-earth PM
Gearing up for their final confrontation with Ziekfried, a miscalculation within one of the Elw Shrines causes them to appear in a foreign part of land in the Elw Dimension. With a large structure before them, they can only hope it will lead them home: ON HIATUS: WILL GET RE-WRITTENRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Words: 4,258 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-11-11 - id: 7375120
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Authors Note: I'm so excited to finally bring forward this story! Not quite sure how many chapters they'll be for this, but this is a prelude to the true story that will come. This is largely based more on Wild Arms 1: Alter Code F. Some pairings will come forward in this, but they'll be subtle, so you'll just have to wait and see. And without further ado...
The Chronicles of The Abyss:
The chiming sound of money falling precariously onto the ground and the sight of it spinning manically around a small crevice was enough to cause Jack Van Burace to hold his breath. It was of no use, however, as the ground seemed to suck the coin up, the golden trinket careening forever out of sight into the empty darkness of earthen crust. To the dream chasers disgust, there went one hundred gella.
The older man cursed his silly luck, but really he should be glad it was coin instead of something more precious; he absently touched the hilt of his trusty sword reminding his silly mind that it was still by his side and not lost forever like the coin. Still, less money meant less supplies and where he and his companions were headed, they needed all the supplies they could get. The swordsman shrugged mainly to himself and spun on his heels, trench coat fluttering lightly in the self-made wind, only for the fabric to ricochet off his jeans when he stopped short, a small blue mouse blocking his path.
A sly Cheshire smile was planted on the Hanpan's features as he angled his black beady eyes on his taller friend. "You know, Jack, I saw your clumsy move, it shouldn't be too hard for someone of your speed to catch a coin." The little creature was teasing him and really meant nothing else by it, but it still grated on Jack's nerves, especially when one specific group member was close enough to hear this sort of light-hearted banter.
True to his thoughts, the treasure hunter's ears were big, one moment she was bargaining with the merchant, lowering prices on items like an auctioneer, the next moment she was staring Jack down, a dangerous glint in her eyes. Jane Maxwell was a shine lover and disliked hearing about any treasure, big or small, being lost, especially due to a moment of clumsiness. It boggled Jack's mind how Jane could be so greedy about money when it was known that her family was once well-to-do, but he discerned that it wasn't really any of his business. Jane still dressed as though she were rich, sporting a lovely light orange dress with all of the fixings of bows and ribbons, and heck she even had a butler, yet her choice of clothing was a perfect one hundred eighty degrees compared to her strong personality.
Right now she was showing her tomboy demeanor, allowing anger to seep through her exterior by way of scowl; really the swordsman just wanted to tell her that such a look would ruin her pretty little face if kept up much longer, but luckily there was another intervention. An arm calmly went between the two of them, halting Jane's anger on Jack and instead pulling it onto the one who dared to mettle in their affairs of lost coins.
"You know, its rude to interrupt a lady when…" Jane never finished her sentence when her eyes bestowed upon Rudy Roughknight. It was no secret to anyone how the treasure hunter seemed to turn smitten at the sight of him, although Rudy himself was still rather oblivious.
The boy was a simple one and worried only about his friend's well-being and nothing more. Jack knew from day one that the young wanderlust was a trustworthy friend, a strong helper, and a good soul. He never spoke much, but that sort of added to his charm, not to mention he had enough talking from the Princess as well as Jane now. It was enough to give him a constant headache really with all these chattering young woman.
Lucky for Jack, Jane seemed to remember that she was in the middle of haggling with the merchant; the gentleman in question had the patience of a saint, waiting off to the side calmly while she was in the middle of her rant with Jack. She grabbed a hold of Rudy's good hand and thrust the youth to her side where she began once more auctioning prices in their favor, lost coin far from her mind now. Rudy spared a glance to Jack, the swordsman nodding his thanks to the youth's intervention, although Rudy's happy smile seemed to turn into a confused quirk of the lips, and his eyes held a silent plea for help.
With the distraction in place, Jack picked up Hanpan, giving his partner a quick warning look and plunked the creature onto his shoulder. The wind mouse remained silent on his perch as Jack began moving along in hopes of finding the others and seeing to their progress with preparation. He vaguely remembered something about Emma finding rooms for them to stay the night in their current location of Rosetta Town so he needn't go looking for her, but the Princess's whereabouts were another story. After a moments repose, he supposed Zed's whereabouts counted too. He didn't quite trust the Demon yet and leaving him alone for too long was just a bad idea. Nothing was ever so simple for the swordsman and he shook his head in disdain; not only would he have to locate the Princess, but he would also need to locate and baby-sit Zed. His work was never done.
First things first, his main objective was to find Cecilia. "Where would one find a Princess in this town?" Jack posed the question to his small partner. The Wind mouse seemed to give it some thought, placing his little hand on his equally small chin.
"The most appropriate place would be Mariel's Garden. We haven't seen her since she helped us with Rudy's hand. …And I think Cecilia likes flowers?" Hanpan shrugged in his usual manner and plopped himself down into a comfortable position for the ride over to the garden.
"I knew I kept you around for a reason!" Jack's sarcasm was easy to detect and it left a smile on Hanpan's face, the Wind Mouse used to these jeers.
"You'd be lost without me."
A beautiful group of flowers were settled within in a small garden next to a very plain cottage; it seemed as though the shrubbery was cared for more than the cottage itself. The very existence of each plant was important to their caretaker, Mariel, one of the last remaining Elw's on Filgaea. It had become her life's mission to spread greenery throughout the barren wastelands of the planet, for without the seeds of life it was certain that the planet would inevitably crumble to dust - it was already well on its way with the numerous dunes and deserts that dotted the lands.
She rarely had visitors due to the remote location of her cottage and previous animosity held towards her race; but that was much different today. She wore a bright smile as she chatted quietly with Cecilia Adlehyde, someone she considered to be a true friend, one of the first, in fact. The Princess had surprised her with this visit, showing up with a bright smile and a new, interesting friend by her side.
The contrast between the two of them was that of night and day. Cecilia wore bright colors of rich linen, soft materials and her trusty wand strapped to her back while the other was encased in peculiar armor of dark grey, almost ebony iron. A soft flowing orange scarf was bound around his neck wafting silently in the wind while a jagged looking sword was strapped to his back; there was an uncertain expression on his face.
Mariel felt uneasy until she noted how reposed Cecilia was in his company, so she decided that this stranger was just as welcome in her garden, providing that her flowers remain unharmed. The Princess gave Mariel a quick introduction to the two of them and she found out that this green-haired swordsman's name was Zed. He seemed uninterested with what the girls began talking about and announced his leave quickly, the swordsman walking animatedly towards the woods with some growing anticipation. Cecilia either ignored the strange looking behavior or was already rather used to it, so Mariel decided to ignore the strangeness of it too and continued to chat with her friend.
They exchanged numerous tales to one another like how Mariel had made some friends among the townspeople and became somewhat of an apothecary for the townsfolk and how Cecilia and the others were preparing to embark to their next destination, Malduke. To Cecilia, Mariel seemed to come a long way from being the meek little Elw that tended her flowers; she was quite brave now. To Mariel, the announcement came as a bit of a shock, but she held back her comment knowing wholeheartedly that this what they must do and there was no possible way that she could stop them. All Mariel could do was wait for their return and pray for their success.
And keep tending her garden. Her touch of green-thumb was creating a slow change to the environment around Rosetta Town; she hoped that the effects would culminate across the globe. One day, Mariel mused, the world would be covered in trees, shrubs, and flowers, but it was up to her to help make it possible.
"There you are, Princess!" A deep voice called out. Cecilia turned around to meet Jack's gaze, little Hanpan surfing on his shoulder with practiced ease. The Princess couldn't hold back the curious look in her eyes and Jack answered them in kind. "I was looking for you. Came to let you know the preparations are almost done."
With a simple nod of agreement and a little ad-lib, the wind mouse said, "Jack was really just worried where you had…" A large hand covered his mouth, stifling the rest of his comment, Jack glaring at his partner with mock-hurt.
"Twice in one day you sell me out? I'm starting to think you want to hurt my feelings." The quick-draw master chuckled to himself, removing his hand from Hanpan's mouth, the mouse barely bothered by the interruption; these kinds of antics were commonplace with the duo as they often nagged to each other like brothers. It didn't matter in the least that they were two completely different species.
"It is nice to see you again, Jack, Hanpan." The young Elw walked towards the pair, presenting herself next to Cecilia. She certainly did have many visitors today; she half expected Rudy to pop out of nowhere and greet her as well.
"It is good to see you too, Mariel," Jack nodded, smiling down at the Elw girl. Hanpan looked around, his whiskers twitching with sudden excitement when he had seen the rapid plant growth within Mariel's garden.
"Your garden is taller than last time!" The wind mouse began climbing down Jack's arm, the swordsman used to these movements, arm unconsciously lifting so that it acted as a bridge towards Mariel. With a little hop, Hanpan landed on the Elw's shoulder and squeaked a request to see a tour of her improved garden. While Mariel obliged the wind mouse, Jack gave a soft look towards Cecilia, the girl going relatively quiet during the exchange.
Jack looked over towards the Elw and Wind Mouse noting that they were out of earshot and produced his gaze back to Cecilia. "What's wrong? I wasn't… interrupting anything, right?" He could tell that something was eating the Princess. This kind of concern made Jack inwardly cringe; in the past he wouldn't have cared less how royalty felt. Meeting Cecilia and Rudy had changed that viewpoint drastically as now he couldn't imagine life without traveling with his younger companions.
"Of course not, Jack." It was a simple answer, very unlike Cecilia. Typically she would either lecture him about the matter at hand or begin speaking from the heart, but this, this was very direct. It didn't take a genius to figure out what might be eating at her, so the swordsman took a swing at what the problem could be.
"You don't have to say goodbye, you know. Mariel will be here when we get back from Malduke."
"How can you be sure of that?"
Bingo. Even if she hadn't spoken from the heart, that's where her thoughts resided; it wasn't even about the fact that they could possibly die in the final confrontation. Instead, Cecilia was worried about their Elw friend, what she would do if one or all of them had fallen. With a true smile Jack said swiftly, "How many times do we have to go over this? With your magic, my sword, and Rudy's ARM, were unstoppable! So, don't worry yourself over the details, Princess."
"Do not forget the others, too." A small smile graced her face once more, burden not necessarily gone, but a bit eased by the lighthearted comment. A moment later, Mariel and Hanpan rejoined the duo coming back to silence and smiles. The Elw was rather confused, but Hanpan knew his partner well a knowing smile gracing his small face.
"Now, Jack, wasn't there something we needed to ask our found Princess?" The wind mouse pondered as he removed himself from Mariel's shoulder and back onto Jacks.
It took a second to remember what Hanpan was talking about until the dread crept within him. Of course, he forgot about Zed. The green-haired Demon was the newest part of their team and although the others all seemed to have their own way of grating on the swordsman's nerves, Zed was the worst. It may have had something to do with the swordsman's personal battle and vendetta against any and all Demons. Certainly it could have been that Zed seemed to be on a constant sugar high; there was boundless energy stirring within that mercury blood. Or maybe that the Demon was an egotistical show off? It was hard to tell what the reason could have been, but it was common knowledge that the two of them didn't get along quite so well. He was alone with that feeling either; Jane was on his side too and it was about one of the only things that they seemed to agree on.
"Yes, now that I remember… Have you seen Zed?" The question threw Cecilia off guard as she knew how much Jack disliked him.
"Well…he was just here before. He said that I should not walk alone in the woods or some such like that, and escorted me to here, to Mariel's garden."
Jack held his tongue before he could comment on what was said, knowing that his words would be sarcastic and hurtful and he really didn't want to make Cecilia uncomfortable, so he took a moment of respite before responding. "So where is he now?"
The Princess shrugged giving that as her only answer. In truth she hadn't a clue. The Demon walked away and entered the woods, where his destination was, was only known to him. That didn't mean she hadn't an inkling though; the Demon was most likely around the area, honing his skills or in hiding, listening to their conversation. She half expected the Demon to excitedly jump out from somewhere.
"So what do you suggest, oh great mouse, where do you think he is?" Jack regarded his partner with a questioning look, just hoping that the mouse may have caught the Demon's scent or something.
In the meantime, Cecilia was certainly curious to why Jack would be searching for the Demon. "Jack, what is your interest in finding him? Surely Zed will find his way back to town."
"I know that, Princess, he's like a groupie—he keeps coming back." The swordsman turned himself around, ready to comb the woods if need be for the green-haired Demon, but he subtly regarded Cecilia over his shoulder, deciding to humor her and give an answer to her inquiry. "Simply put, Princess, I want to make sure he isn't causing us trouble."
As Jack walked off, little Hanpan squeaked a quick farewell to Mariel. The Princess was a little put off by what Jack said. Sure Zed was a little hard to take sometimes, but he was still part of their group, he was still putting his neck on the line like the rest of them. He was fighting for someone too. Surely that made him a little more noble than Jack thought of him?
He was surrounded by all sides. Normally something like this would be a concern when fighting alone, especially when one was uncertain of their whereabouts. But this situation was truly unlike anything normal nor was the individual considered even remotely normal.
From the silence of the surrounding forest any other sound that could be heard was the growls and spattering spit of the Garum pack that inched closer to his still form. His shrill voice cut that silence like a knife when he raised a battle cry, excitement and ambition laced within his vocals. Within that instance his sword was pulled from the awkward position behind his back and swung like an arc towards his front, eliminating one of the beasts.
The slain creature thudded to the ground in a pool of its own murky blood; bones cut clean, lungs extinguished of oxygen. Its friends grew angered by this display, growling louder, letting out howls and baring teeth, but this did nothing to deter the green-haired Demon. A cocky grin was on the trespassers face, his body standing in a ready position, no fear in his eyes even though he was surrounded by at least ten of these beasts. Even though he was technically hurt.
One lunged at him from the front and he brought his sword forward just in time to catch the beast across the stomach, eliminating the threat immediately. Two more monsters had come from his side, but he crouched and leapt out of the way in time for the two targets to collide together and collapse to the ground where he just stood. Even when he touched down from his jump, the tall, armored swordsman continued to move, spinning around with his sword to catch another pursuing monster. However, the pain was finally winning out.
The spinning move brought on a forgotten pain in his chest and thus slowed down his maneuvering. When he sensed another beast behind him, ready to attack, his sword barely blocked the creature's first blow, while the second attack still succeeded, a jaw clamping into his armored right arm. It took a moment to shake off the beast, his fang still managing to draw some blood underneath. However this new scent did not craze the monster's as it would a typically with human's blood, because his blood was not red, but instead a silver mercury color and because he was not human to begin with.
Zed felt that it was unfortunate for these monsters for whom they picked a fight with, because as a Demon, he provided more challenge in killing; and clearly, this green-haired Demon didn't feel like dying today. After botching his block, Zed spun on his heels and relied on speed to push him forward a bit, although he had to admit, he did look rather foolish fleeing from a pack of monsters, however, gaining a bit of space was necessary in this case. The injury in his chest was really such an unfair advantage. It wasn't any monster that caused his grief, but the very group he now traveled with.
He could remember the numerous meetings between himself and the three humans blessed by the Guardians. They bested him every single fight. After the entire Gate Generator fiasco, Zed thought he would never meet them again; instead blissfully spending his day's protecting his new and only friend Aura. However, the tides of fate were cruel and he met them one last time and truly lost it. The rage stirred within him so strongly that it reacted with an experiment that Alhazad had forced upon him previously and he transformed into a stronger beast. They still bested him. The fight left him defenseless and with a rather bad injury in the chest; he never told his new team-mates and he carried on, nursing the wound himself.
It was when he made some room between his targets that he stopped abruptly and channeled some strength into his sword, the blade was thrust into the air by the hilt; a whitish light released from the blade and enveloped four of the monsters from above, eradicating the beasts where they stood. "Ha! How'd you like that super move? I call it Heaven's Wrath!" The Demon was rather pleased with himself, he thought long and hard on that name. However, soon he wasn't so smitten with himself as he leaned on his sword a bit, feeling some of his bustling energy evaporate from use of such an attack; his sword was cursed after all and the curse of using its power hurt him each time. This was something he often forgot about.
Now there were only four monsters to deal with, but because of the insistent pain in his chest and the evaporation of his energy, which was no thanks due to his sword, Doom Bringer, Zed felt like a sitting duck. The pack of remaining Garum didn't bother with intimidation like before, while Zed was using his sword as a makeshift cane, all four beasts lunged at him and all the Demon could do was slam his eyes shut and prepare for the pain that was sure to come.
Instead of feeling nails and teeth bite into his armor, Zed felt himself get thrown into the ground, his body colliding harshly with the dirt. The Demon cracked open his golden eyes thinking that he would be face to face with one of the monsters, yet instead he saw someone else entirely. Zed looked on in utter shock as Jack stood up from the ground, brushing himself off calmly and turning to stare at the monsters whom crashed together when Zed was pulled away. The Demon tried to stand up, not willing to allow himself to look weak in front of his former enemy.
"I knew you were getting yourself into trouble…" Jack grumbled to himself. With his quick-draw technique, Jack sprang into action a moment later, slashing his sword in the air, sending a pulse of energy towards the enemies; to the untrained eye it would seem that the attack instantaneously hit its two targets, the pulse was so hasty. Unwilling to be shown up by the swordsman's sudden appearance and daring rescue, Zed got himself up and charged at the final beasts, instantly destroying the Garum with a strike of his cursed sword.
Zed stood slowly from his attack, knowing that moving too quickly would re-agitate the injury in his chest. The Demon wanted to compose himself before he would turn to Jack, but he couldn't hide his pain so easily this time; all the movement really wracked his injury with more pain than he wished. He also wasn't so willing to get healed by Cecilia; he thought they would view him as a weakling if he asked. So he put on a brave face and gave a half-hearted smile as he turned and surveyed the swordsman. Jack was nonchalantly placing his precious sword back within the confines of its sheath as he looked up to meet Zed's gaze.
"If you are done messing around, I suggest we head back into town. Everyone's nearly done preparing." His voice wasn't light like when he would talk with Rudy or Cecilia, it was cold and Zed could feel the chill. However, for once he didn't make a big deal of it, decided not to jump around and annoy his fellow swordsmen. Zed quietly complied and waited for Jack to move, considering that he had no clue how to get out of this forest. It was rather quite a shock for the Demon to comply so easily and it made Jack rather distrustful, but nevertheless, the swordsman spun on his heels and walked, looking back after a few steps to see if the Demon was following.
In a rare moment, Jack had seen Zed in a new light. The Demon didn't quite start following him yet, but instead had slung his arm across his chest, taking a deep breath, wincing. The moment was so quick as the swordsman released his chest and started walking, not really paying attention enough to notice Jacks gawking. Hanpan saw the same moment and the both wondered silently if that really was Zed following them.