Disclaimer: I don't own Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, or any of these characters (with the exception of Everstein Bekkler). They are the sole property of SquareEnix, and live only as demented illusions in my head.
Note: "Blah" is someone speaking, and 'Blah' is Schala thinking, unless I specify a different POV at the beginning of a chapter.
'You were born into this world to bring it new life, Schala. You are here to save it.'Slowly, Schala began to awaken, the sounds of a fire crackling nearby. A cold wind blew, the chill causing her to shiver.
That voice…who? What in the world?
Memories flooded back to her in a dizzying flash,
Lavos…Zeal…Mystics…and her captors…
Rightfully so, she became quite terrified once again. She laid very still, keeping her breathing very slow and even until she could figure out where they were. After listening for a moment, she was sure her back was turned to the three men. Finally she opened her eyes, seeing it was very dark, a new moon hiding away from the night sky. She could see flickers of a fire casting shadows upon the grassy field before her, and using it to her advantage, spied on them as they ate and drank.
Another gust of cold wind blew, and she involuntarily shuddered. Her cloak was long gone, and her dress was too thin to keep her warm through the cold night. Thankfully, it didn't seem as if she'd attracted any attention from her captors, so she let out a silent shiver of relief.
As she laid there, she calculated her options, which were very few indeed. She was still bound and gagged, so there was virtually no hope for escape. Her thoughts were halted as her ears faintly detected the sound of water being sloshed on the ground behind her.
'I'm so thirsty…'
Any moisture that her mouth may have had in it was dried by the disgusting mouthful of cloth that had been forced in. And somehow she doubted that there would be any kindness on behalf of her captors…something about the way they'd drug her down the side of the canyon...
On top of that, her neck hurt terribly from having been used 'leashed,' and from having fallen over the edge of the cliff. She counted her blessings that she was lucky enough to not have died instantly... As she laid there, she briefly considered healing herself, but then remembered the bangle that was painfully fastened on her arm. It wouldn't work even if she tried.
'Everything hurts…' She blinked back tears as she tried to hold still. 'I can't believe it, but I really want to go home…'
'Home' of course, was Zeal, under the rule of her oppressive mother. She'd be with her brother…but also forced to power the Mammon Machine daily. Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine the picture-perfect scene of Enhasa—the crystalline blue water, the rolling green fields, and the bright, warm sun. Another cold gust of wind caused her to shudder involuntarily, and she tried in vain to get out of the icy wind.
This of course, only served to inform her captors that she was, in fact, awake. As she heard the footsteps approaching her back, she wanted to sink into the ground. But there was no such blessing, as she felt a pair of hands roughly pick her up and set her on her feet. She could hardly keep her balance, and nearly fell, but she was grabbed from behind and firmly trapped in place.
One of the others slowly undid her gag around her mouth, and pulled out the cloth that was in there. Schala gasped for air, vainly trying to get the disgusting taste of the cloth out of her mouth.
"What's your name, girl?"
A bit dazed, she muttered, "…Wha? My name—?"
Her weak reaction was met with a swift punch across her face, causing the entire right side to tingle in pain. She drew in a sharp breath, trying not to cry.
"Yeah, you know. N-A-M-E. A name. Get with it, lady. I don't have time to put up with you, so just stop being so damn hardheaded. Unless you'd like me to spell things out more clearly?" He finished up the sentence with another punch to her solar plexus.
She cried out sharply, dizzy and sickened from the blow. "I'm…Schala," she finally managed to whisper.
"Schala? Strange name. You're with the mystics, aren't you?"
"No! I'm—ahhh!" She was cut off again by another punch, this one to her jaw again. Blood spattered out from a busted lip.
"Lying is bad, Schala. Why don't you just tell us the truth?"
"I…am…telling you the truth. Oh, please don't hit me again…" She tried to gasp for air, but the stiff upright position she was being held in made it quite difficult.
The man tilted his head slightly at her. "What? You mean, like this?" He carried his entire body weight through and punched her again in the stomach, eliciting yet another cry from her. "Or, like this?" Again, he punched her jaw exceeding hard, another whimper of pain coming out. "Or you know, maybe I'm being too gentle…" This time, his fist connected with the softer tissues of her nose, shattering the cartilage and bone beneath.
Through the immense pain, Schala heard herself scream in pain. "Please…no…stop," she gasped, trying to find her breath. Blood trickled down her face and into her mouth, and she grimaced at the metallic taste. "I don't know where I am. I was just looking for my brother."
They all laughed at her. "Right. That's why those mystics were helping you."
"I fell and they healed me. That's all."
"A mystic wouldn't ever help a human. Not unless it was planning to have it for lunch."
Schala grimaced. "It's the truth…" Tears now poured down her face again, as she readied herself for another blow.
He leaned forward, and grinned a terrifying grin. "I believe you."
"I believe you. I believe they healed you and helped you. I just don't believe that you're human like you claim, that's all."
"But I am!"
"Humans don't use magic."
"Well I do!" Her response was a bit too emphatic, and it earned her another punch across the face. Tears streamed out of her eyes as she sorely regretted her words.
"Don't raise your voice to me, you demi-human scum." He glanced between the other two men, an icy look in his eyes. "Drop her on her stomach. Get the staff."
She landed with an unceremonious thud on the ground. With her arms bound behind her back, and her feet bound together, she could still do little else than move her head. And she watched with wide eyes as her interrogator came back with his weapon.
The first strike was to her left shoulder, and she screamed in pain as she felt it shatter underneath the wooden staff. "Please…don't!" she choked, but couldn't finish when another blow snapped the bone above her elbow in two, half of it puncturing the skin. He finished off the left arm by breaking the delicate wrist and finger bones, making any movement she might attempt excruciating.
Schala was on the verge of passing out, and in reality, she prayed she would. She buried her face down in the muddy grass, and screamed when the same assaults were carried out on her right arm. By the time it was over, she was sobbing so hard she could hardly breathe.
The man was obviously very irritated. "You know what, we're leaving. Put the fire out and grab her. We're going to get our money tonight."
'I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home,' she cried silently. What had she done to deserve this? Was it channeling the powers of Lavos for her evil mother? She quieted her cries, and instead sobbed into the ground, her mouth miserably dry, and her body aching so terribly that she wished she'd died in the Ocean Palace.
Once they were done, they roughly grabbed her and threw her over a shoulder, and continued on. Of course, with a multitude of broken bones and a bleeding nose, every step they took was pure torture for her. She could feel the bone puncturing the skin and protruding out of the left arm, and every other broken fragment in her body. She groaned and sobbed, trying not to raise her voice too much, lest she get beaten again.
"That's IT. Gag her again, cause I don't want to listen to her whine all the way to the Cursed Woods."
She was dropped on the ground again, and she sharply cried out. The pain felt as if it were too much for her to endure, and she cried and cried, hoping that she'd pass out like before.
But there was no such luck this time as the same vile cloth was forced in her mouth, and she was gagged.
After what seemed like an eternity of torture, they arrived at the strangest house. Schala couldn't get a very good look at it, nor did she care at the current moment. She tried to think of anything else other than where she was, of what she was feeling, until once again, she was thrown down on a warm, wooden floor.
"You know, I do prefer my subjects in one piece when I receive them…" she heard a cold voice comment.
The room was very bright and warm, compared to the outside, and she squeezed her eyes shut to try to block out the painful light.
"She is. Just a few broken bones."
"A few…? Hmm, well, I suppose I can't be so choosy. Set her up on the couch. I want a good look at her before I pay you."
Again, she was all but slung into the seat, her eyes opening wide with pain. She'd landed on a particularly bad spot on her right arm, and she tried and tried to move off of it. Unable to fight it any longer, she tried to heal herself, which resulted in the same, painful reaction as before. Tears streamed down her face as she looked into his eyes, watching his stare with terror.
"Vos, heal her. I can't tell anything as long as she's squirming like that. Hurry, before she gets blood everywhere."
Schala's eyes fell upon a short, scaly green creature standing beside her, who held up his hands and brought down the restorative healing energy she so craved. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind to best accept the magic, as she was quite desperate to make the pain stop. The spell was strong enough to restore her broken bones, and a bit of her energy.
"That's better. Now tell me, why do I want to pay you for an elf when I can just go hunt one?"
"You saw her. This one can use magic!"
"They all can."
"Not like her. She snapped her finger and killed one of my guys without even blinking." He pointed at her, feigning anger.
She studied the man her captors were conversing with. He was tall and had black hair, and he seemed to be as pale as a ghost. "Really…?" He got down close to her face and examined. "Yes, yes, I see elemental magic here… Why, she…!" He went silent and stood up, turning towards the men quickly. "I suppose since I've had a famine of test subjects lately I'll pay you the maximum five thousand."
Schala nervously darted her eyes between the two parties. 'Pay? Wait a minute here, I'm not a slave!' Her face was drenched in sweat
"No way. Twenty thousand easy for a catch like her. She told the mystics she was with that she was related to Flea!"
If she could've protested, she would have, but her mouth was still tied tightly. 'I never said that,' she silently glared.
"Hmm, too bad then. I suppose you'll have to take her somewhere else."
"Guardia Castle will pay us that, easy!"
The tall, skinny man crossed his arms. "You forget that Guardia is not so interested in our little endeavors. They'd pay you a small sum and then execute her for treason."
"Twelve. Four thousand for each of you."
There was silence for a moment. Finally, after glancing between the other two, he said, "Deal."
Schala glanced back and forth in horror as the money changed hands, and her previous captors left, laughing in glee at their fortune.
'Oh no, what am I in for now?' This new man didn't look like he was too kind… He was tall, dark, and almost sickly looking. He had long, slender arms and long legs, and he looked deathly pale, reminding her of a vampire. He shut and locked the door behind them, and turned back to her, a sickening grin on his face.
"Well, hello there." He slowly walked over, and to her amazement, took the gag off her mouth and began to untie her. "This is no way for you to be welcomed into my home, now is it?" His breath was deathly cold against her neck as he worked to untie her arms, but he was very gentle. "What is your name, dear?"
"Are you cold, dear?"
"Um, yeah. A little."
"Vos, would you fetch Miss Schala a blanket?"
She watched as the scaly creature waddled off and returned with a big, fluffy blanket. Maybe things weren't going to be so bad after all, she mused. "Thank you," she quickly whispered, wrapping herself up.
"You're quite welcome." He moved to untying the bounds from her legs. "Forgive me, I've been quite rude. My name is Everstein Bekkler, a scientist from Porre." The ropes snapped free.
Schala swung her legs over the side of the chair, and rubbed them gingerly. "Umm, why exactly am I here?" She'd tried to say it with a steady voice, but it had come out as a terrified shiver.
"Those men brought you here because you can use magic. They assumed you must have been one of the mystic elves from the Evergreen Forest. But let me tell you something, dear. I've seen many elves in my day, and you are neither elf nor mystic. So what is a human like you doing with magic?"
"I was born with it." She responded immediately, but sorely regretted as soon as she'd said it.
"Humans aren't born with magic."
"…" She rubbed her wrists slightly. 'Great, another interrogation.' She had to careful what she said. If she really was in another time, whenever 590 AD was, she had to be mindful not to corrupt any timelines. She had a sneaking suspicion that she was in the future—the ice age was gone, humans had seemingly spread out to the corners of the world, and—most disturbing for her—Zeal was missing from the sky.
Bekkler mindfully crossed his arms. "Who are your parents?"
Schala frowned. Maybe it was best that she try faking amnesia once again. "I don't remember."
"What do you remember?"
"Not much. I'm Schala, and I'm from Zeal. That's about it."
The other creature there, 'Vos', came in once more, carrying a tray that had a plate of bread and pitcher of water. He set it down in front of her and stood back.
Her eyes wandered to the full pitcher of water. She was so thirsty, and that glass looked so inviting.
"Are you hungry, Miss Schala?" Bekkler asked her.
"Yes, very much so…"
He smiled that bone-chilling smile, and motioned towards the tray. "Please, help yourself."
She didn't need to be told twice as she snatched the pitcher and began to gulp the water without bothering with a cup. After a few moments, she realized how terrible she must have looked, and her royal properness caused her to reprimand herself. "Sorry."
"Don't mind me. Those idiots probably didn't give you any water, did they?"
"No," she muttered as she poured water in the glass cup on the tray, and with a trembling hand, gulped it down quickly. She tried not to look so awful, but in truth, she was famished, and gave up trying to look decent. She grabbed a piece of bread and all but stuffed it into her mouth, washing it down with another gulp of water.
"…Or food, I surmise."
She swallowed her mouthful and wiped a few crumbs off of her mouth. "I'm sorry."
"Eat and drink as much as you want. You'll need all your strength."
She could detect a sinister sneer in his last sentence. Swallowing another mouthful of bread, she weakly asked, "For what?"
He leaned forward and looked at her in the eyes. "Miss Schala, there is terrible war about to start. Surely you remember this?"
She shook her head. "I don't remember anything."
Bekkler sighed. "There are us humans, and then there are mystics. Mystics represent a whole broad range of creatures, everything from elves to monsters. We try to live in peace, but the mystics are pressing on our borders, attacking our towns, and savagely killing our children. They use magic to terrorize us." He pointed to the scaly, green creature that had brought Schala her food. "This is Vos, and he is a mystic. He's the one who healed you when you came in. He has been rehabilitated from his savage ways to be a peaceful creature."
Schala took a small sip of water this time. Her stomach was sickly churning, letting her know she was drinking much too fast. "Why do they attack us?" She set down the cup, and grabbed a towel on the tray. Pouring a bit of water on it, she tried to wash away some of the blood and mud from her face.
"They have a new leader, one that they call Magus. The previous three mystic lords made him their king. His power is beyond anything we've ever seen before. Those that go against him disappear, and never return. Two of Guardia's best knights recently had the misfortune to run into him and the three mystic lords, and they've not been heard from since."
"Flea, the feared magician, Slash, and Ozzie. Their names strike fear into every human's heart."
Schala coughed, and took another sip of water. She was getting quite dizzy, trying to figure out all the information. Didn't the mystics that had helped her want to take her to Flea for her own protection? And didn't they lose their lives trying to defend her? She shook her head slightly. They must've sensed how strong she was, if it were true that no magic-using humans remained. But if that were the case, wouldn't they have just told her the how to get there and sent her on her way? She'd received much more consideration from the mystics so far than from humans. If she were free to go, which she knew she wasn't, she knew she'd try to find her way to Flea for safety.
"The only mystics I remember seeing were running from a hunting party." She quickly took another sip of water, the dizziness in her head getting worse. And she was getting so hot… Strands of her sapphire blue hair were sticking to her forehead, and she tried to wipe them away.
"Yes, unfortunately, they leave us no choice but to keep them away from our children." He grasped her shoulder and pulled her close to him, mere inches from her face. She felt sweat beading on her forehead, and she grunted as he wiped it away with a cloth. "But that is why you're here. We need your help, you see." He released her, and stood. "With your help, and your magic, perhaps we can find better ways of healing our sick children, and our wounded soldiers."
So that's what he really wanted—her magic. And his attempt at moving her by mentioning 'young children' didn't sway her in the least. "And killing even more mystics…? What about their children? What about their wounded soldiers?"
He laughed that chilling laugh once again. "Ahh, there is no need to pretend they have feelings. Besides, we must kill them before they kill us." He turned his back to her. "So, will you help us?"
Schala shuddered. "I…. But isn't senseless killing wrong?"
Like a flash of lightening, he'd swung around and grasped her shoulders, pushing her back in the seat. "I won't ask you again. Will you help us?"
She shivered. "…No. Now, let me go." She'd tried to sound strong, but her voice was barely a whisper.
He slowly stood and crossed his arms. "Ah, that is unfortunate. But I do commend you for your bravery. But the answer is 'no,' you may not leave."
Schala tried to stand, but dizziness overwhelmed her and she fell to the floor. What was going on? Why was she feeling so sick all of a sudden? Panting, she tried to crawl back into the seat, but her arms didn't have the strength. Suddenly, the sickening realization hit.
"The water…you drugged it…"
Bekkler laughed. "Oh, you are a smart little girl. Yes, I did, because you see, you will help us, whether you want to or not." He picked her up and helped her back into the seat. He then snapped his fingers, and two men walked into the room. "Take Schala to her room."
"You bastard," she finally managed to croak. "I won't help you."
"I have my ways to persuade people. A fragile little flower like you won't last very long. You'll be begging me to let you help before it's over."
Two pairs of hands grasped either arm, and she felt herself being drug down a set of stairs. As the drug-induced darkness enveloped her, she faintly heard a whisper in her ears.
'Don't be afraid, Schala.'
AN: The 'two knights' comment is a reference to Glenn/Frog and Cyrus.
Update coming soon. Thanks for reading!