Lucca stumbles on a red gate and literally falls into Magus' castle. Magus is hiding something, and Lucca is determined to find out what it is. Light LuccaxMagus.

Curiosity

Lucca's Perspective

When I left my house, I was feeling frustrated at the lack of variety in the materials available to me. I wanted to build something grand and I couldn't do that with pieces of scrap metal.

As thankful as I am for Marle's generosity in offering to donate a century old golden statue that was, according to her "sitting around collecting dust," I had to politely decline. Not only to stop her father from having a heart attack when he heard Marle's offer, but also because gold is not the sturdiest metal.

Thus my journey began to find a suitable material for the robot I had in mind, or as Crono called it "the super cool mecha of awesome." I never thought I would end up like this, but here I am, suspended upside-down in a strange castle.

At some point my blood filled head cannot precise, I stumbled into a red gate. It opened without warning, as if it wished to make fun of me. I wasn't even carrying a gate key and I fell in endless swirls of red. My fall continued through a hole in the roof of a ruined castle tower, and through some entwined vines that had taken over what was left of the structure.

The vines formed a sort of rustic net that broke my fall, but they were not strong enough to hold me and most of my body fell right through; save for my right foot which remained tangled up in the vines. That is the only reason why I didn't land head first into the solid stones bellow, where my helmet lies after slipping off my now unprotected head.

I hear footsteps approaching, but I dare not try to turn my head towards the origin of the sound. Even the smallest movement could cause me to fall to my doom.

The footsteps stop directly below me and I can imagine this person is curiously looking at my helmet and wondering how it got there. "Hello?" I call.

I'm sure the person must be looking up now, wondering how I got here. I do hope this person isn't planning to get me down from here by shooting arrows at me or a similar violent measure. The annoyed yet somewhat entertained chuckle that the man produced, I assumed it is a man judging by his voice, does not reassure me at all.

"I come in peace!" I quickly add.

"And you'll leave in pieces," the man replies.

Before I can react a gust of flames flies past me and hits the vines. "Crap!" I flail around, trying to put out the flames, but that only causes me to fall faster. I plummet into the cold hard, stone floor below, thinking that this is a pretty lame way to die.

But I survived, though who knows for how long I'll live considering that I landed in the arms of an angry wizard. Whatever little amusement my predicament had provided him, has seemingly faded away just as quickly as it came.

"What are you doing here?" Magus released me abruptly, causing me to fall on the floor in a sitting position.

"Ow!" Well, I at least avoided cracking my skull, but my behind had to pay the price. "I don't know."

"So you're trespassing without a reason?"

I take a moment to examine my surroundings with a little more detail. "This is your castle?" The place is a mess, overtaken by the flora, a few sleeping bats dangling in the shade.

"I don't make it a habit to spend my time in other people's castles."

"Yeah, we all know you're not social." I dust myself off and pick up my helmet, holding it under my arm.

"I'll ask you again, why are you here?" Magus sounds like he's at the end of his patience, if he had any to begin with.

"I told you I don't know. I accidentally tripped on a red gate. It opened on its own and I fell here."

Magus doesn't appear too convinced, but at the same time he doesn't seem to care if I'm telling the truth or not. "Fine, just leave."

I huff, "I was about to do that," and I stomp my way past him, going as far as the doorway to the tower, leading towards some spiraling stairs. Then I realize that I have no idea what I'm going to do. I pause and consider my options. Crono and Marle are doing the entire king and queen thing, so it might be a while until they realize I'm gone and my parents might assume I'm on another adventure.

Magus begins to tap his foot impatiently.

My fastest way home would be to build another gate key and find a working gate; which makes me think about how odd it is that the gate that brought me here exists. All the time gates should be gone. Then suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder pushing me forward none too gently. "There's no need to shove!"

"There is also no need for you to be here," Magus counters.

I quicken my pace to escape his push and head down the spiraling stairs. I keep going down, then through a few halls that show the terrible shape the castle is in. I finally stop in a large room with ragged red carpets full of holes and countless partially broken bases containing dead flowers. Needless to say, this is weird, even for Magus. "What-"

"Turn right," Magus instructs.

"But why is this room this way? It's different from the others." Curiosity killed the cat, and I would later find out it could also be the death of me.

"Just leave!" Magus is certainly impatient, and I feel as if he's hiding something.

I shiver, even if I'm not cold and I don't think the creepy atmosphere is to blame either. There is something else, a bad omen.

"Magus!" A voice thunders through the empty ruined halls. "If thou are to perish, then thou shall perish by mine sword!"

"Is that Frog?" I inquire and Magus lets out an exasperated breath which serves as enough of an answer.

My question was a rather obvious one. After all, who else would waltz into Magus' castle calling out to the wizard with that form of speech? I should have known that Frog and Magus would end up fighting every now and then. Frog's presence isn't all that much of a shock to me, the cute little picnic basket he's holding is.

"Lady Lucca?" Frog looks positively shocked, his eyes bulging out of his head even more. The picnic basket slips out of his grip falling on the floor with a soft thud. "Why is Lucca here?" Frog asks Magus as though I'm not right in front of him to reply.

"I didn't invite her," was Magus' indifferent answer.

"I came here by accident," I repeated the story about the red gate, but decided to skip retelling my fall. I didn't want to help Frog come up with more reasons to hate Magus; they were already mortal enemies as it was.

"Thou should depart immediately!" Frog insists.

You know that feeling that everyone is hiding something and you're the only one who doesn't know? I'm getting that feeling right now. "That basket..." I'm not sure how to properly word this. "Do you to go on picnics together often?"

In a split second a feel a cold blade on my throat and realize it's Magus' scythe. "Do you want to die?"

"Release her!" Frog readies his Masamune for the attack.

Magus let me go, pushing me forward, "leave."

"It was just a question. But I see I was wrong, the two of you still hate each other's guts. I guess it would be a little creepy if you were friends," I have to admit I'm tad relieved. I'm not sure what came over me a moment ago.

"Thou have mine word that there is an explanation for everything," Frog voiced.

"You don't look like the type to use poison," I mused aloud.

"It is not poisoned," Frog glanced at the picnic basket, its contents covered by a red and white checkered cloth.

"I'll tell you what it is," I look at Magus expectantly, "it's none of your damn business, four eyes." I should have seen that coming.

xoxox xox xoxox

I was shoved out of Magus' castle. I glanced back at the structure then turned around and started walking. There was no point in staying where I wasn't wanted. A sudden explosion made me look towards the castle again. A few seconds passed in silence, then the front door was opened and accompanied by a stream of thick black smoke, Frog ran outside. Magus stood at the doorway, still inside the castle, seemingly unfazed by the smoke, or trying to look as if it didn't bother him. His usually neat blue hair was sticking out in every direction as if it had absorbed a massive amount of static. I could only stand there staring wide eyed and open mouthed, until the smoke made me cough and tear up.

"Thou knew that would be the result!" Frog accused.

Magus merely chuckled smugly and closed the doors, leaving the windows as the only route for the smoke to escape.

"I have never met someone as obstinate as that fiend," Frog grumbled in frustration.

"Care to explain?" Being a woman of science, I like to know how everything works. I want to understand the mechanics of the world around me and I hate not knowing what's going on. Once many years ago someone, I can't even remember who, told me that my curiosity would be my death.

"It is not mine place to speak," Frog shakes his head.

I hate this feeling of confusion. "What do you mean it's not your place? Does that mean that you know what's going on but won't tell me? Why?"

"Thou must not become involved," Frog glanced at the castle; the majority of the smoke was already out. "Come; let us depart from this foul place." I nod and follow Frog.

xoxox xox xoxox

We went all the way to Guardia Castle, where Queen Leene listens to my tale. With the royals helping me find the needed materials, assuming such materials exist in this time, I should be able to get home. Some of the things I need might be a little hard to come by and others will have to be customized, but there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to build a new gate key. Although the task would prove to be difficult if I continue being as distracted as I am right now.

My mind keeps going back to Magus' castle. Something is going on, something big enough for Frog to keep it a secret from me, and I will find out what it is.

Leaving Guardia Castle wasn't hard. It would take a while for the materials I asked for to be delivered, since some of the metals are not commonly imported in the era, but they all exist. I mentioned wanting to take a look around and visit the version of Robo who is always working at Fiona's forest. Frog believed it easily.

I did in fact visit Robo and at the same time made sure I wasn't being followed, just in case. I will find out what's going on and no one will stop me.

xoxox xox xoxox

I made my way all the way back to Magus' castle and let myself in. I looked around, but found nothing out of the ordinary besides the poor condition the castle was in. Magus and Frog didn't look much older than when I last saw them, but the castle looks like it has seen many years go by, it's not logical. Something must have happened to speed the process of deterioration of the castle, and that something might be connected to the secret that Magus and Frog know about and refuse to reveal.

This secret might be something dangerous; maybe enough to make them unwillingly join forces, or at least tolerate each other. I fought against Lavos so I'm not sure why Frog would think I can't handle it.

As I explore the deserted castle halls, with no sign of Magus or any random mystics, the eerie silence starts to get on my nerves. Soon I start to hear a faint sound and identify it as running water. I hold my gun ready and press on.

I come to a medium sized room deep into the castle. A small amulet hangs from the door knob and there is circle painted on the floor filled with complex symbols. My interest is taken and I wish to decode it, but before I can get started, another door across the room begins to open.

A white blur comes from behind the door and I aim at it with my gun, but something slices it in two pieces, leaving me with only the handle. "Why did you come back?" Magus looks angry, he chopped my gun in half with his scythe; the white blur was him. Pale skin wrapped in a white towel. He's pale but well toned and I would be a huge liar if I said he wasn't attractive.

"I um... water... I heard water." I sound like an idiot; an idiot whose entire supply of blood has rushed to her head for the second time in the same day, albeit for very different reasons.

"It's a shower, there's water in it," Magus states, his scythe inches away from my throat.

"Sorry," I can only think of apologizing, I know I'm at fault for trespassing, but I couldn't contain myself. "I didn't mean to... interrupt your shower." This is awkward, very awkward. Magus is just wearing a loose towel around his waist for crying out loud and a second towel on his head. Both his hands are on the scythe and if that first towel slips off I'll die of embarrassment or most likely he'll kill me.

"Out!" Magus returned to the bathroom and slammed the door shut.

I breathe in relief and though I know I should run out of here, I spot the basket Frog brought earlier sitting on a small table and I'm drawn to it. Curiosity will be the death of me for sure.

I lift the white and red checkered cloth and find what looks like the normal contents of a picnic basket. There are jerky, sandwiches, fruits, a couple of bottles of juice, cookies, the basket is packed with goodies.

"You really have a death wish, don't know?" I nearly jump out of my skin, not only because the voice is so sudden but because it's so close I can feel Magus' warm breath on the back of my neck. For how long has he been standing behind me while I pried into the basket? At least he's fully dressed now, though he still has that towel on his head.

"I just want to know what's going on. If there's some sort of danger I might be able to-"

"Shut up!" Looks like a hit a nerve.

"There is danger!"

Magus takes a deep breath. He's probably counting to ten in his head. "The only danger is the danger if me killing a certain nosy four eyes."

"I want to help!"

Magus pauses again, he knows I'm not so easy to get rid of and it seems he has decided to give me another chance to live. "Leene found out I was related to Schala. The royal Zeal family was related to the royal family of Guardia, thus making us distant relatives. She's been sending her little frog knight over here with peace offerings," he pointed towards the basket.

His story makes sense, anyone else would be tricked, but I am a genius. If the situation was as simple as that, Frog would have no reasons to hide it. I can see Frog being upset if his queen gave him the mission of making peace with Magus, but that's not enough to make him hide it from me. Besides, I don't think Leene is that well informed about her ancestry, she might have an idea, but this is too much.

"Well that makes sense," I know that Magus will not share any real information easily, so for now I'll pretend to believe him. "I'll be here for a while, in this time I mean. I'm stuck and need to build a new gate key. The materials won't be delivered for a couple of days, so I have time to catch up."

Obviously Magus isn't exactly thrilled. "Then go catch up with the frog and the robot and leave me alone."

"I thought I could catch up with you too," I want to know what this is all about. They say that in science curiosity is a blessing because it leads to discoveries. But right now, my curiosity is a curse that will probably doom me, yet I can't resist it.

"I'm warning you, if you're here by the time the sun goes down, you will die," Magus is so serious, so dark. This is different from his previous threats.

"You'll kill me?"

"I said you would die, not that you would die by my hand." This is the cue for my survival instincts to kick in and tell me to leave, but instead I take a seat.

"You've doomed yourself," Magus announces with a certainty that should worry me more than it does. "I will not protect you."

"I don't expect you too," I replied in all honesty. "Besides, I fought against Lavos, why is it that you and Frog are convinced I can't handle whatever is going on?" So much for pretending I believe him.

"You'll see; I'm done trying to reason with you. Care for a last meal?" It sounds as if he's taken pity on me. As if Magus knows I'll die and wants to at least send me off on a full stomach.

The day has gone by between walking all over the place and sneaking around. The sun will sink in the horizon soon, it's dinner time. "Sure, but I'll disappoint you if you think this will be my last meal."

He laughs, as if mocking my foolishness. I'll show him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Magus and I eat in silence. Half way through dinner he lights a candle, setting it on the center of the table. Other than that one candle, the room is completely dark.

Soon after we're done, I start hearing a faint echo like a cry and it's not just the bats. "I think someone else is in the castle."

"This is what I warned you about," Magus gets up from his chair and picks up the candle.

I follow him silently. The castle looks creepier at night, with the faint glow of the moon seeping in through the small holes in the walls and ceilings. That one room where we had dinner was the only one in decent conditions.

We walk through the long halls and down some stairs, until we reach the room I thought was strange before, the room with the ragged red carpet and the dead flowers. This is where the cries are coming from, but I don't see anyone here.

"Enjoy your last seconds of life," Magus blows out the candle and we're left in darkness.

I try to create a ball of fire in my hand but find myself unable to do it. "Why can't I use magic? Did you do something?"

"When she comes, magic stops working." Magus' explanation is as ambiguous as it can be.

"Who is she?" Then I see it, a glowing figure, pale, transparent, but iridescent at the same time. My gun is in pieces in the room where we dined and my magic won't work. "Magus..." The being, the ghost, comes closer to me and I instinctively reach out for Magus, tugging on his cape, "what is this?" I try my hardest not to sound scared but a million emotions I don't think are all mine flow into me. "Magus?"

"I told you, you will die," his words are nonchalant and cold, but if one should listen closely, it is possible to capture a glimpse of anger, perhaps regret.

The ghost floats before me and I can faintly see the shape of a face, its delicate features resembling a woman, but the being is still transparent and iridescent. "Who are you? What do you want?" I feel so helpless. That thing is doing something to me, messing with my head, amplifying my fear by some dark magic.

"Do you wish to save him?" I hear a voice in my head. It's strangely melodious and soothing. I'm fairly certain that Magus can't hear it.

"Yes," I whisper.

"Then I will spare your life," the ghost disappeared and I felt my magic returning to me.

I lit a small ball of fire, unsteadily making it float in the palm of my hand, the tiny flame flickered and I could see that Magus looked surprised. "I told you I would survive," the unnatural fear from before leaves me, as if the dark power was undone and I breathe in relief.

"What did you agree to?" Magus inquires. "I heard you say yes."

Just as I thought, he couldn't hear the ghost. "She asked if I wanted to save you."

"You fool!" Magus is furious. "Now you've dragged yourself into this too! The ghost will not spare you. She will manipulate you with false hope until you do not have as much as your sanity left."

"She spared my life because I said yes!" I argued back.

"Because she wants to use you," Magus insisted.

"There's nothing I can do about it now!" That ungrateful jerk! Here I am offering to help him with his ghost problem and he's insulting me. I don't need this. "Or maybe I'll leave you to deal with this alone."

"You should have done that from the start." Magus starts to walk away, out of my field of vision in the dim light of my small flame.

"If the haunting is that bad, then why don't you just leave this place? The castle is falling apart anyway." If the ghost cannot be exorcised, if Magus has not done so yet then I assume it can't, it would be best to leave.

"That's my choice," he didn't yell this time and I find it odd. "Don't meddle!" He went back to yelling.

"Fine, be that way. If you want to live with a creepy ghost so be it." I've had it. Magus is a huge pigheaded jerk, stubborn, unreasonable, handsome and just plain frustrating. Crap, I didn't mean the second to last.

"She won't come twice in the same night," Magus informs me.

"So what?" What's it to me if I'm leaving?

"You can leave in the morning."

"I can take care of myself!"

"Do whatever you want, you annoying fool."

I'm pretty sure that while Magus and I were arguing, he was also thinking about what just happened. At some point between then and now, he must have realized something. Maybe, just maybe, he wants my help, but is too stubborn to admit it. Well too bad, because I'm not helping unless he asks me nicely and knowing Magus, that's not going to happen.

However, I am not looking forward to making my way to Guardia Castle at night, so I decide to accept his offer and stay. I return to the only decent room in the castle and sleep on a couch. The cushions are curved as if someone taller than me had been sleeping here. I wonder if this is where Magus sleeps, I can think of no other explanation, but I don't think he'll be coming back to this room. It doesn't matter, when we camped he slept on his feet anyway, he can do that again for tonight.

xoxox xox xoxox

When morning comes, I take a quick shower then go find Magus. I'm giving him one last chance to ask me nicely to help him with the ghost problem.

The castle looks different, not creepy at all, but instead almost poetic like a painting. It's still in ruins, overtaken by the flora save for this one room. The bats had gone back to sleep hanging upside down and the castle is in silence, save for the chirping of birds. A small blue bird flies through the window and perches itself on a four foot tall headless dragon statue, broken and dented in various places. The bird, cheerful, small and cute creates a large contrast with the statue. It pays no mind to me or to the sleeping bats and just sits there chirping and singing.

I continued on my way, wondering if Magus has gone out. I make it all the way to the main entrance before I find him, just as I was about to leave. He's leaning casually against a wall next to the front door. I pause and wait for him to say something, I give him a good thirty seconds but he doesn't even look my way. "I'm leaving now," I reach for the door knob but my hand stops mid way.

"Stay," I stare at Magus as if he grew a second head. The word is simple but it doesn't sound like an order, more like a request.

"So you do want help with your ghost problem..."

"Magic stops working when she comes, but the spells that have been casted before then will still be in effect. Even spells that are made to activate when she comes will work if they were casted beforehand." I wonder where Magus is going with this explanation.

"So basically, you can set a trap for the ghost," if that is so, then why hasn't he done this before?

"It seems your energy is of the proper kind."

"You mean fire?"

Magus can use fire too, though his element is shadow. "There is more to it than that, but it would be too complicated to explain."

He struck a nerve and I frowned. "Do not underestimate me."

"Fine, then I will trust you to understand as it goes along. No explanations will be needed if you really are as smart as you claim."

I give him a confident look, "just watch me, but what exactly is your plan anyway?" A cold chill runs down my spine, I have a bad feeling about this.

xoxox xox xoxox

"No!" I stomp my foot for emphasis in my absolute refusal.

"This will empower you," Magus insists, trying to sounds as calm as possible and hiding his rising anger.

"I said no!" The piece of furniture he wanted to strap me to, looked like something right out of one of those comic books Chrono and I used to collect when we were children. Back then, before I liked science, it was only natural to look at the scientist as the villain. Those scientists in the comic books created monsters with devices like this one and those monsters were called mystics before we changed history and made peace between the mystics and humans; then the comics simply referred to them as monsters.

"I thought you of all people would appreciate this."

I scoff, "this is no machine," and it wasn't. It was merely a table adorned with cuffs to bind the arms and legs, for the magic that disguised itself as science in the comics, to get to work in the shape of a strike of lightning and create a monster.

"The setting, I mean," Magus clarifies, "it's similar to those comics your red haired friend kept trying to make me read the last time we stopped at his house during the journey."

"Do I look like a mad scientist to you?" I shouldn't have asked that.

"Yes," I should have expected that.

"Never mind that, I'm not doing this, I'm not going to strap myself to a table-"

"I'll do that for you."

"I'm not going to let you strap me to a table to be hit by lightning!"

He chuckles, "this isn't one of those comics, it is to amplify your magic so that you may face the ghost."

"Why don't you use this spell on yourself?" I look at the symbols drawn on the walls and floor of the tiny basement room; I have no idea what they mean.

"My energy is not of the proper kind."

"Tell the truth, Magus!"

"Very well, if you insist on knowing," why do I get the feeling that I'm not going to like this? "The truth is that I intend to-"

"Magus!" An echo is faintly heard.

"Who was that?" I rush up the stairs without giving Magus the chance to answer.

"Magus!" The same echo.

I continue up the stairs and through the castle, approaching the main entrance. Magus follows as well and he doesn't look happy about it.

"Open the door!" Frog is banging on the main entrance.

"Coming!" I reply as naturally as I would if someone knocked on the door to my house, but when I try to open it, I find that I can't.

"Lucca? Thou truly was here!" Frog sounds worried. "Thou must leave this terrible place!" He tried to open the door again to no avail.

"Magus, the door," I don't think he's going to open it.

Magus just stands there with a confident look, "go ahead and try, try to leave; but I've already decided to exchange you for the ghost's defeat." He walked away.

I shrug; the gravity of the situation has not sunk in. I walk over to the window and try to go out from there. But I bump my head in what appears to be glass, except it's not glass. I should have known Magus wouldn't be stupid enough to lock the door and leave an escape route open through the window.

Frog saw me at the window and came over. "If thou is unable open the door, I insist on escaping through the window."

"It's like glass," I press my palm against the material covering the window, "but it's not glass, it's a magic field."

"Thou art trapped!" Frog touched the magical glass like a mime trapped in an invisible box.

"I want to know exactly what's going on," I can't very well formulate a plan with missing information. "Don't say you don't want me to get involved because I already am."

"That fiend!" Frog tosses his picnic basket aside in anger. So he was bringing another one today, but why?

"You can start your explanation with the baskets," I suggest.

Frog sighs, "these baskets are but a way to keep mine promise to both mine dear friend Cyrus and Lady Marle."

That only made it more confusing, "care to elaborate?"

"Good Sir Cyrus perished for mine sake. Thus the duty to avenge his death is mine and mine alone. I cannot let another sword, or person, or being, take the life of mine enemy," Frog explains.

"Okay," I try to organize what I know so far. "Basically what you're saying is that you can't let anyone kill Magus because you want to do that yourself. By 'being' you mean the ghost, right? But how is that connected to the baskets?"

Frog pauses for a moment, as if he's trying to word things in a way that will make sense to me and I sense a contradiction approaching. "I also made an oath to Marle. In the night of the millennial fair, asked of me to promise but one thing, and being it for a descendant of my queen, I could not refuse. She hath taken my word that I will not try to battle Magus, as she wishes for us to be comrades," Frog sounds horrified, "comrades!" He dramatizes.

"Wow, just leave it to Marle," is it wrong that I'm amused?

"Alas, I could not refuse her request, but I have found it infinitely challenging to fulfill. Furthermore, I am still bound by my oath to my dear friend Cyrus. How could I keep both promises? How?" Frog is certainly being dramatic about it. "Then I found it, the way keep both oaths!"

"You found it?" It sounds like such a contradiction that it's hard to believe there is a way to keep both promises.

"Yes!" Frog continued, "that ghostly fiend of origins unknown to me, hath started haunting this castle, leaving Magus trapped within its walls!"

Now that I think about it, yesterday Magus didn't step outside; he only went as far as the doorway. Then today when I thought he had gone out, he was actually still inside the castle. Suddenly the picnic baskets make sense. "If Magus can't leave, that means he would starve to death if he was left here alone."

"Precisely," Frog confirms. "I can keep my oath to Marle by assisting him, and at the same time I will also honor my oath of vengeance to Cyrus by forcing Magus to accept help from his enemy, which I am certain is a punishment to him."

"Knowing Magus, he might choose to starve," I muse aloud.

"He has other motives to live, a motive that is perhaps stronger than his hatred towards me. I do not know what those motives art, but I imagine it is vengeance towards the ghost who cursed him. This is his battle and I must not interfere," Frog reasons.

Vengeance this and vengeance that; knightly logic sometimes eludes me. Besides, if Frog cannot kill Magus because of his promise to Marle, and he cannot allow anyone else to steal his vengeance by killing Magus because of his promise to Cyrus; wouldn't that mean that technically Frog has to protect Magus, while coming up with ways to annoy him in revenge? If I say something like that, they would both be very upset, Frog would be offended and Magus would kill me. One thing is clear though; whatever grudge Magus has against the ghost must be a big one if it forces him to accept Frog's help for the sake of living to go against that ghost again. "I'll get to the bottom of this."

"It might not be too late, thou can still leave unharmed!" Frog tried to change my mind, but it's not going to work.

"I'll be fine, I already saw the ghost up close and I'm alive." I have no intentions of being the sacrifice in a spell against that ghost, who ever she is. Who would want to take revenge on Magus so badly that they would return from the dead? Cyrus was a wandering spirit, but even he did not haunt Magus directly and he was already put to rest. During his time with the mystics, Magus must have made many enemies, but who was that woman when she was alive? This hidden history; it makes me curious.

"Alas, it may appear that thou's mind cannot be changed. Thou hath been deceived and trapped within the accursed castle!"

"I'll figure something out," just leave it to Lucca the great! I will not become part of a strange magical experiment or a sacrifice and I will unravel the mystery of the ghost. I should start by finding out who she was. It's clear that Frog doesn't know and Magus won't easily tell me. But Magus is so confident that I can't escape from castle, that he's not even keeping an eye on me, this is my change to investigate and search for clues.

xoxox xox xoxox

I was feeling pretty sure of myself when I told Frog I would figure something out. But right now I'm caught between fearing for my life and wanting to end Magus' life. "You inconsiderate, ungrateful jerk, I was going to help you!" I squirm and kick to no avail.

"You will help," Magus sounds so certain that it makes my blood boil even more.

I'm currently being carried off to the site of the sacrifice. A human life is needed for the spell to work, I presume. "If you think I'll die so easily-"

"The objective is not to end your life."

I pause in my yelling, "then what is it? Why else would it be a sacrifice?"

"The objective of this spell is to make the ghost possess you, then I'll properly put her soul to rest when I kill her a second time," which is the same as killing me since I'll die along with her. He's so cold, calm and collected even saying this, but I guess I should expect no less.

"Idiot! That's the same!" I continued to squirm around and flail, refusing to let Magus carry me off like a resigned shopping bag. He has one arm around my waist, and holds my wrists captive with his other hand. One of my hands slips free and I grab a handful of soft blue hair, then pull with all my might.

We both fall to the floor. Magus allowed his head to be pulled along and threw his entire body down in the process, all for the sake of avoiding losing that piece of hair.

I tug and he spins around in the same direction, trying to follow my hand and reduce the pressure on his hair. "This is like guiding a horse."

That does it; Magus releases my other hand and firmly grabs my throat instead. "Let go of my hair."

Luckily he's not squeezing my throat too much yet so I can still speak. "Looks like I found your weak point."

"Let go!" Magus growls.

"You first!"

"I'm warning you!" He gives my throat a small squeeze.

"I can use fire," I choke out the warning with some difficulty. I know he can feel my body heat start to rise as I prepare to summon the flames, eyes wide in alarm, he lets me go. "You can't beat Lucca the great!" I laugh victoriously.

Magus checks his hair for any possible damage, looking relieved when he finds that his hair is alright. Then he sees red and I don't just mean the color of his eyes, he's as angry as I've ever seen him and he snatches my glasses away.

"Cheap shot!" I desperately try to recover my glasses but it proves to be very challenging. Not only is Magus taller than me, but he can also float. Add the fact that the world just turned into a blurry mess and recovering my much needed glasses becomes nearly impossible. "Give them back!"

"You deserve this punishment," I hear the crack of glass and panic, "my glasses!"

Magus deposits my broken glasses into my hands and though I cannot see him clearly enough to tell, I know that he must have a smug victorious look on his face right now.

I trace along the frames and reach inside where the glass should be, but my fingers go right through, brushing against the shards left on the round frames. The sharp pieces of glass cut my skin like knives and warm blood trickles into my hands. I toss the useless broken glasses aside and feel my fury raise. "Magus, this went too far!" If he wants a showdown, he's going to get it.

"Do you want to fight me?" A sense of deja vu washes over me. Back then, in the Northern Cape after the fall of Zeal, Magus asked us this question.

Marle and Frog were with me at the time. Marle was too distraught over the loss of Crono to even acknowledge Magus' presence. Frog wanted to fight Magus, blaming him for everything that went wrong in the world, from Cyrus' death to his current amphibian form, which Magus did cause; and from the attack of Lavos to the fall of Zeal, which Magus was actually trying to stop.

At that time, I stepped forward and stopped Frog. I became the self appointed leader of our group in Crono's absence and I decided that the battle would be pointless, Magus was not our true enemy. I knew that Frog wasn't happy with my choice, but he respected it. I imagined Marle must have been relieved; she didn't need to witness another battle when the wound of seeing Crono's life being stolen was still so fresh it bled sorrow.

Right now I find myself questioning my decision, even if back then I was so certain I made the right choice. Magus told us how to bring Crono back, or at least provided a clue on finding someone who could help us accomplish the seemingly impossible task.

Yet I wonder, would it had been possible to just beat the information out of him? I doubt it, unless he was willing to tell us either way. But back then, I'm sure we could have won, Frog could have won, I could have won. Magus didn't look like he was in the disposition to fight at his best; almost as if he had for a small moment contemplated the possibility of giving up and placing his life in our hands, perhaps assuming we would take it away if he didn't.

Then I shake my head, trying to push the distracting memories away, but they only flood my mind faster. So many things happened in our travels and the evil wizard turned out to be much less evil than I thought, yet every bit as powerful as I heard.

This time Magus has not given up. I'm sure he has gone through many things in his life that made him stronger and many of those experiences must have been unpleasant. But I would like to think that even after all that, he was not indifferent to our journey. He was also affected by it, as were the rest of us. Maybe, that's the experience that makes him go on this time around.

"Do you want to fight me?" Magus repeats his question.

"Yes, but I won't do it." Because he's not in the same condition as he was in the Northern Cape and I know that this time, as things stand now, I'll be the one to lose.

"Because you'll lose?"

Screw it all, "flare!"

"Dark Matter!"

"Your highness, please Wait!" Frog's voice is followed by a scream.

Queen Leene came out of no where and got caught in our fight. Frog jumped in to protect her and absorbed the majority of the magic himself. But the castle was sealed, how did they get in?

"Frog! Frog!" Leene desperately tried to wake him. I wish Marle was here, she could heal him, but I can't.

"Magus!" I watch as he does nothing but flip his cape and walk away. He probably thinks I should be thankful to be let off easy. "Magus, come back here!"

"Stay with them, I'll find a healing potion." I stop in my tracks and simply nod, letting Magus walk away without further protest. He's so hard to read sometimes.

"Queen Leene, don't worry, Frog is strong; he'll recover." I try to reassure her.

Leene nods, "I'll trust you, but that man who you were fighting, you called him Magus."

Magus was with us during the entire rainbow shell incident, including the occasion when we went to ask for Leene's help in storing it at Guardia Castle. I was shocked that Magus, whom I would expect to be treated as a public enemy in the middle ages, could waltz into Guardia Castle as easily as the rest of us. Then it came to my attention that nobody recognized him. "Yes, but I don't think he'll be a danger to you." It would be logical to think that Magus wouldn't harm someone linked to his sister, as I believe Leene is.

"And Frog?" Leene inquires with worry.

"They pretty much hate each other," that's something I can't deny, "but they won't fight to the death," at least I think they won't. Then I realize that I should have worded the undeniable truth differently.

Magus returned with the healing potion and handed it to me. "If the Frog asks, it was for the queen's sake, you know why."

I receive the potion and say nothing, I only nod to indicate I heard him, this isn't the time to argue. I was right about Leene being safe because of her connection to Schala. It's clear that Magus doesn't really want to help Frog, but this might also be a way respond to the picnic baskets.

I think Leene wants to tend to Frog, who just woke up, so I give the potion to her and she helps him drink it. But Frog is still too out of it to speak.

"Your highness, how did you get inside the castle?" My curiosity is running away with me again, but I don't think it can get me into any more trouble than it already has.

Leene takes a deep breath. "My pendant reacted to something and the force field around the castle disappeared. I found out that Magus is linked to my family. I wanted to make sure everything is alright and that there won't be another war." She's hiding something, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

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After Frog was healed and he escorted the run away queen back to Guardia Castle, I asked Magus about what happened. "She wants me to turn Frog back to normal. She has a soft spot for him or something, but I told her I can't do that. I don't know what she was thinking running away and coming here. Leene is more reckless than she'll admit, not quite like Marle, but I can see where that came from."

"You mean climbing the castle walls and literally breaking in during a royal trial, among other things?" I laugh.

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I remember how Magus had been dragged into the ordeal of proving the king's innocence when Marle realized that their families might be linked through Schala.

Well actually, I was the one who pointed that out because of the pendants and Marle decided that Magus should be included in the mission. Thus it was Marle, Magus and I, much to Crono's boredom. He was used to being in the team all the time, but after his revival the position of leader was lost and everyone led for a little while, then passed on the leadership to someone else.

Marle had chosen me as the third member, claiming that she was doing me a favor, which I would have preferred she did not announce, because she was under the impression that I liked Magus. I never said such a thing, but Marle was convinced and unreasonable, while Magus could only grumble a simple, "just ignore her," so I followed his advice, not completely ignoring Marle, but ignoring that one comment and the other comments of the same nature that followed.

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"So Leene likes Frog," this was no secret. "Arranged marriages suck," I don't mean to ruin Marle's existence as she is a dear friend, she jumps to conclusions more often than healthy, but she's still a dear friend. Even so I can't help it but to feel sorry for Leene, living with a man who did not win her heart. She just wants to give Frog a little bit of happiness by having Magus change him back. "Are you sure you can't change Frog back?"

"Sacrifices are necessary; I'll show you something interesting four eyes." Magus starts to walk away, assuming I will follow.

"Don't call me four eyes, especially after breaking my glasses! What do you mean by interesting?" Okay maybe he's got a point, I am following him, albeit with difficulty, even if I know I shouldn't follow him at all. I have to get out of here while I still can, but be it by foolishness, bravery or sheer curiosity; I want to know what this is about. "Magus, what do you mean?"

"You'll see."

"Not without my glasses," I argue.

Magus takes the pieces of my glasses and chants a spell, it is not until he places them on my face that I realize what's going on. Everything looks clear again. "That's useful."

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We went into a deep basement, to a room I had not visited before. A pool of silvery water lies in the center. "Don't fall in," Magus warns.

"I'm not going to fall in," I pout.

Magus starts to chant, the words are complex and he's whispering them at high speed so I only catch bits and pieces of the spell, which includes "neuga ziena zieber zom..."

The silver pool reflects an image like a mirror, but the surface is full of ripples confirming its liquid composition. All I see is chaos, it's hard to focus on the image, it's all moving very fast. "What is this?"

"A paradox, one that will be automatically fixed," then the image shows the future as it was when Lavos destroyed it.

"Why?" I don't understand.

"Changing history is more difficult than it seems, it's not all that linear. There are little details to be considered that are easily overlooked. The Entity, time itself, or maybe more than that, will try to fix things, to stop a paradox from forming and time from collapsing, or to delay it. Look at this," Magus changed the image.

"The wedding of Leene and Frog? But he's still a Frog, they're getting married? But he's still a Frog, then, will it happened anyway? No, Marle is still in the future so... Magus, what is this?"

"A possible future, one that didn't happen and it seems it won't happen, but there is more." Magus changed the image again. This time the image displays a world populated by reptites. "If Lavos was defeated too soon, then there would have been consequences. All the twists and turns are part of a complicated arrangement that has already been thrown off balance. The wedding of the queen and the frog would be a result of the king's death because of a misplaced detail in time. Leene would become a widow but she would keep the throne even if she married again."

"How is it all liked to what's happening now?"

"Had I been killed in the northern Cape, then Frog would change without affecting Marle's line. Leene wouldn't lower her guard and allow herself to get too close, she wouldn't feel the same strong need to console him and would be able to convince herself he would be alright. However, if he becomes human now, after Leene has already become close to him. They will run away together and Lenne's connection to Guardia will be lost."

This is so complicated, it makes me more curious. "What about Marle?"

"Marle would not have been born without Leene. Leene is Marle's main ancestor, if she marries someone else and remains queen, Marle will exist, but if Leene's descendant isn't a royal, the chain of events will be broken and Marle will be lost. Time is too sensitive to changes, more than we realize and the consequences don't always make sense because there are details that are too small for us to see, this makes time hard to predict. Though time tries to retain its course, when it's at the brink of being broken, it only takes a small detail to push it over the edge. Time would have been reset with Marle being replaced by a well behaved prince."

"Not a male version of her, but a completely different person." I realize it's not just about what action is taken, but also when, the difference can have huge consequences. Those consequences are hard to predict since they're based on a bunch of tiny details instead of one big event, but those tiny details can change the main event into something completely different. Now it is no longer the right time for Frog to be a human, that chance was lost. "If Crono had not met Marle, we wouldn't have gone on our journey, and if we didn't go on our journey eventually causing Marle to disappear, then she would be there, but if she's there we'll end up time traveling. It's a contradiction, a big one. I had no idea you staying alive was so important right now, at least until the king and queen have a child. What about the ghost?"

"Your life is doomed to end anyway," Magus is saying strange things again and I don't like how it sounds.

"My life is not about to end, I'll fight to stay alive!" I'm ready to defend myself.

"I thought about it and found it ironic, that the force you control, that same force you use to defend yourself, would end your life, but perhaps I am wrong to think so. Our actions have consequences, serious consequences and in the end, there might not be an end. Perhaps I'll go to that place, maybe you will as well."

I'm becoming increasingly frustrated, "can't you speak clearly for once?"

"I am yet to see things clearly," then why is he speaking as if he knows something? It makes me so mad!

"Those who mess with time are destined to be scarified as long as they possess such a power, a self defense of time itself in a way, an ungrateful time, or maybe a reward from an unknown Entity, to go to that place."

I sigh, "enough with the metaphors!"

"Later, we'll talk later." I couldn't get any more information out of Magus after that.

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Magus had started to prepare a different spell. It's foolish but I'm so curious I can't help it. If I hear half a story, I want to hear the rest, if I hear an unknown sound, I want to find out what it is, if I see something unusual, I want to understand it. That's just the way I am, even if I know I'm pushing my luck, maybe even shoving it.

"I felt the flow of time, and thought of a new spell, or rather, learned one that has been long lost." It was first thing Magus voiced to break the silence. I feel as if he has come to a realization still obscure to me and it has changed his mind.

"My guess is you've gained a certain affinity to magic well beyond what was accomplished ever before," I conclude. That would explain why he speaks as if he knows more than he should, summoning images of things that never happened, but he's still haunted by a ghost. "Will you tell me the identity of the ghost now?"

"Queen Zeal," I can do nothing more than stare at Magus. "Her soul seeks vengeance against the prophet, or perhaps the child who could not use magic but had a different ability, an ability that suppressed the possibility to become a great wizard by overwhelming him, but in the end he obtained both."

"Zeal..." I echo, "Zeal... What can be done? That other ability, what is it? Is it the Black Wind?"

"The Black Wind, the movement of the reaper, that is but one. I can feel the winds of time, they mix together making them hard to read, but every day the winds of time blow. I felt it coming, this spell, this solution, a way to finally put her soul to rest." Magus holds an amulet in his hands. "This item will be the sacrifice."

"As long as it's not me," I'm relieved. "I'll help you out with this, can I do anything?"

"Provide extra energy," I'm surprised he accepted my help so quickly, "and don't die," I have a bad feeling about this. "It will be similar to a double technique, but you don't need to do anything save for letting your energy go, let me lead it."

"If this spell is really that deadly-"

"No, you will survive this for certain."

"Then why-"

"That comes later, let us end this," there is so much more he's not telling me and it makes me more and more curious, just when I thought my curiosity had finally been satisfied, I guess it never will be.

That's part of being a genius, being perpetually willing to learn. "Alright, let's do this."

"We'll start tonight, we'll draw her out. The winds of time feel like listening to a thousand voices, a thousand unclear thought at the same time. A prediction is not a cause." Magus truly is a mystery. Since he was a child he had that air of mystery, I remember it from when we saw him as Janus.

I think I've gain a little insight into Magus' past. He must have predicted something that upset Zeal, something that maybe was not easy to explain, or the explanation was lost. Then, by lack of assignable cause, the prediction was blamed and the child that was different was accused.

It's a common mistake, to blame an event preceding another of being the cause of the second event, only because it precedes it. But sometimes the cause can be the latter. B only happened because C was ready to happen, but A was overlooked and B was linked as the cause of C. When in reality A caused C and B was only a symptom of C. "What did you predict?"

Magus doesn't reply but now that I think about it, it should be rather obvious that Janus predicted someone's death. Maybe the death of someone dear to Queen Zeal, then that person died with little to no explanation and Janus was labeled as bringing bad fortune. While I was there, I never saw the king, could it be?

This is only a theory but Janus, a boy who had difficulty with magic and no one would suspect could become such a great wizard, predicted the Zeal king's death and gained the Zeal queen's blame. The king's death must have been not only untimely, but also hard to explained, possibly related to magic or Lavos, yes, Lavos.

I'm only throwing theories in the dark, but this is a possibility. Of course I'm not mentioning it to Magus. Regardless of if I'm right or wrong, I'm sure that Magus won't appreciate me prying into his life, even if it's just in theory.

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After the preparations casting a spell into the amulet were complete Magus went to the tower where I arrived. He was trying to avoid me, but I kept following him. "Do you have any thoughts on the red gate?"

"I don't know why you fell here."

"You're lying, I can tell."

"A choice, an offer, a rare chance in which one has the opportunity to start a new chain of events," great, he's talking in riddles again.

"To help with the ghost problem?" I receive silence and leave it at that. "When you told me I would die, what did you mean?"

"I haven't decided..." Magus makes a small pause, as if debating if he should say this, "if you should exist outside of time, but I feel it, that moment, the fire."

"Now you're confusing me again."

"Think nothing of it, if you should exist in such a place then I will show you the way, until then, do your part."

"What place?" This is becoming more and more frustrating.

"Think nothing of it," Magus insists.

"I can't stop thinking!"

"Good, think then, continue thinking," Magus glares.

I pout, "you're impossible."

"Accepted and reciprocated."

"I'm not impossible to understand," am I?

"Lucca, why do you think the red gate threw you here?"

I am about to answer then change my reply to something else, "you called me Lucca."

"Is that not your name?"

"You used to call me four eyes."

"Do you prefer it?"

"No!" A small silly silence forms. Then I proceed as I should have. "I don't know, is it related to my future?"

"Yes, a chain of events will occur. There are some who are doomed but some, like me, can escape their fates."

"Well then," I speak without giving my words too much thought, I consciously lack the understanding of Magus' words, but subconsciously maybe I know. "If I'm doomed, take me along so that I can escape my fate too."

"You'd be stuck with me."

"That's not so bad, just as long as you cut back on the riddles." I never thought this strange conversation would have much of a meaning but it did. It made all the difference.

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"Shall we begin?"

I nod, "let's get this over with." Then he extends his gloveless left hand, holding the amulet with his right. I take his hand, immediately feeling his energy link with mine, stealing it away.

"Let it go," Magus reminds me.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, allowing my energy to leave my body, a pale blue silvery glow surrounds Magus, lightly extending around myself. The ghost has been drawn out, her shape becoming more defined similar to the way she was during that final battle in the Black Omen. I suddenly understand, she was toying with me when she spared my life, she intended to kill me later, after letting me spend some time with Magus, hoping to amplify the feeling of loss.

"Prophet! Janus! DIE!" A wave of energy hits us both.

We try to defend the best with can with a combination of Magus' Magic Wall and my Protect spell. "Lucca, you'll have to attack her while I finish the spell."

"Got it!" I summon up my Flare spell, but it feels strange trying to allow Magus to use my energy and also drain at it to power the fire. The connection between us increases and for a moment I can feel what he feels, sensing things I've never noticed before, as if constantly surrounded by magic. This is truly amazing, powerful, confusing, overwhelming, how can he live like this? I feel pain, I can't focus, I sense too many things at once, then suddenly, it's all dark.

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"Lucca, Lucca... Lucca!"

"Ow," my head hurts like never before.

Though Magus is in a better condition than I am, I can see the fatigue in his eyes; he can basely stand, let alone support both of us. "What were you doing passing out right before it was over, bad timing."

"I couldn't really stop that!"

"You'll get better if you're well enough to argue."

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We somehow managed to get back to that room, the one that had not been overtaken by deterioration. We sat there on the couch, too exhausted to do much else. "Is she gone?"

"Yes forever, I'm sure this time." Magus confirmed.

I breathe in relief, "what now?"

"You'll go home to await your fate but I've decided it will not pass."

"I'm not sure how you can decide that but I guess I'll understand later. Either way I'm not going home."

"Why?"

"That time, during the spell, your energy, your thoughts," it's hard to explain. "You're so hard to read, an enigma, a mystery." One that I want to solve, I'm curious, I want to know everything there is to know about Magus.

"Not yet," I wonder what he means. "There is something you need to do; I'll come for you after it's done."

"After what's done?"

"You're curious, when you hear a sound; you want to know what it is and when you see something unusual you're more likely to take it home than to leave it alone."

"The riddles Magus, the riddles," I shake my head.

"It will all become clear when the time is right; it's all about time after all."

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I returned home after that. The materials were waiting for me at Guardia Castle and I was able to construct a gate key. Even the smallest detail can make the biggest change, and I believe that some change, though unknown had been set to happen.

Time passed by and one day, there was a fire, my element threatening to take my life. I felt my soul begin to leave my body as the smoke suffocated me. Then there was a rip in time, a strange reaction coming from the fragility of time itself, a child-like ghost, perhaps streaming from my desire to save the children I cared for. That child ghost of me flew away. She flew as if seeking her companions, her friends. Maybe she was searching for the ghosts of Crono and Marle.

A red gate appeared swallowing me and throwing me into a chaotic vortex of colors and energy. Someone pulled me out and I could see the world like never before, as if I existed outside of time. "To escape fate," it was an unmistakable image, deep red eyes, blue hair flowing gently in the soft breeze of nothingness.

"Magus," the mystery has returned, and with him my curiosity. But I am here, in a place where mortals should not be, did I die? "My journey ended..."

Magus extends his hand to me and I take it, "everything ends with a beginning."

End

Disclaimer, I don't own Chrono Trigger.

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