Black Clouds and Silver Linings
A/N: I... haven't played Chrono Trigger for some time. So, about the device in 2300 AD that heals you: I remembered the name, sort of. But people online spell it a lot of different ways. I don't have Chrono Trigger DS and I don't have a TV so I can't replay my copy of the game, so for now just let it be an Enertron. Sorry about this. I tried to figure out what it was called (or at least get the spelling from the game), but all I could remember is that no matter how many times you went into one, you would come out hungry.
Sorry it's a bit contrived (and that Frog sounds ridiculous). I'll work on it.
The air was flat and dead, but Magus had expected this when he heard Crono and Lucca talking about "the dismal future." He had visited 2300AD before, maybe once, as a child. It was still as awful as he remembered.
Though I didn't really expect that to change much, he thought dryly. The Earthbound ones had always seemed so hopeless; he didn't understand how they'd managed to live through Lavos's attack.
It didn't help that the air was filtered into the domes through an old, rusty piping system. Magus had thought that the air outside of the domes was bad- it smelled like ash and oil and death, seeming thick and almost palpable. If he opened his mouth to speak, he could practically taste the foul flavor of fear and futility. It was disgusting, to say the least. Initially he'd thought there could be nothing worse than that awful, almost acrid air... but then he'd gotten inside and realized that air could be stagnant and lifeless. This entire time period was an abomination. He took a small bit of pleasure in that he would soon eradicate the entire place for something far better. Or I guess we will, he thought as he remembered the group he was traveling with, dampening his mood slightly.
"Magus," The blue haired man lifted his head, glancing behind him. His garishly yellow teammate, Robo, gazed back at him. Do robots gaze? Magus thought idly. Then he banished the thought to the furthest regions of his mind. "The others say that they are hungry. Are you hungry as well?"
Magus snorted and turned away. "I am fine." He ground out. Robo didn't ask anymore questions. He simply turned and went back to the rag-tag group of time travelers huddled by an Enertron. Magus went back to brooding in relative peace. What with the gentle whirring of the machines that kept the dome up and his so called partners chatting, he found himself getting drowsy.
After a couple of minutes of nodding off, Magus got to his feet. Anything was better than falling asleep here, in this freezing hell hole of a dome with no food in his stomach! His movement seemed to startle the group sitting around the Enertron.
"Going somewhere?" The whiny princess brat asked, her voice grating on Magus's every nerve. He didn't bother responding.
Their resident cat-woman perked up then. "Go hunt?" She asked, her voice bright with excitement. Magus started towards the door, but wasn't surprised when the overly-strong prehistoric woman all but bowled him over, tackling him to the ground. "I hunt too!"
"I'm not hunting! Now get off!" Magus growled at her. She gave him one of her brightest smiles. He gave her a scathing scowl in response, but she barely ever noticed his expression.
Lucca spoke up, straightening her glasses though not looking up from whatever repairs she was working on. "Well, if you're leaving, remember to get back by sun-up. We have to leave by then. But if you can find any food, bring that back, will you?"
Magus agreed if only to buy his way into a admittedly foul smelling escape, but what surprised him was that Glenn- or Frog, as he had come to call himself- got up, speaking to Magus. "I shall accompany thee."
Lucca and Marle actually stopped and looked at Glenn oddly, but Crono, Robo, and Ayla were still moving around as naturally as ever. Magus was sure his face hadn't betrayed any emotion, but he was wondering how Crono could manage to be so calm (Robo and Ayla both didn't have any type of quarrel with Magus and didn't acknowledge the burgeoning rage war between Glenn and Magus). Glenn and Magus weren't constantly at odds or anything stupid like that, but at least once a day someone (usually Marle) had to quietly remind Magus not to try to kill Glenn. In a completely related note, at least once a day Crono had to stop an argument between Magus and whomever chose to bother him.
I never expressed the urge to do something so ridiculous either, Magus thought begrudgingly. But that stupid amphibian's been planning my death for weeks and no one says squat to him. Never mind that he tried to interrupt me from stopping Lavos. Obviously I'm the bad guy here.
"Uh, you sure, Frog?" Lucca asked. "...I mean it is Magus."
"Don't hurt him," Marle said to Magus.
He rolled his eyes, annoyed. "I'm sure your slimy green pond slime is perfectly capable of taking care of himself."
Glenn steadfastly ignored Magus's insult, simply telling Lucca that he'd look for food for them. When the girls could do nothing to change his mind, they gave up. Ayla seemed to want to come along, but Magus glared at her and told her to stay. Surprisingly, she didn't seem to mind listening to him. He set that fact aside for later.
The moment the two men- well, one man and one freakish beast, really- stepped out into the vast expanse of rubble and disarray that was a staple of 2300AD, Magus wanted to vomit. He tried not to think about how disgusted he was with the time period and focused on putting distance between himself and Glenn to no avail, because the medieval knight was stubbornly hopping after him. At least Glenn had some semblance of social decency. He hadn't said a word to Magus for their entire trip into the vast nothingness that was the "future".
The wind howled around them and Magus came to a halt. He could hear something far away howling. There were living animals here? Ridiculous. Still... Magus couldn't shake the feeling that something was out there, watching him, not now that he'd heard that sound. He wondered if she might be in this time... she always liked helping people in need. As a child he hadn't spent all that much time here- perhaps he should've.
Glenn finally spoke up. "What art thou..." He started, looking curiously at Magus. Magus glared at him.
"You were doing fine until then," He muttered.
"I said shut up," Magus responded.
Glenn seemed rather unruffled by Magus's rudeness. "...What art thou up to, Magus?" He asked. His tone wasn't conversational. It rather reminded Magus of when they first met and he let a wry smirk crawl onto his features. Glenn was definitely annoyed by that, if the responding gurgle was to be taken as a negative comment.
"What indeed." Magus murmured, glancing towards the oily ocean. Glenn was silent. "What the hell are you doing?" Magus asked, glaring at him. "Following me around. Talking. You must either be seriously hungry or your brain is slowly morphing to the size of an actual frog."
"Should I not know all about mine enemy?" Glenn asked calmly. Magus snorted. "I was only asking about the nature of thine... hesitation."
"What?" Magus frowned. "Could you talk like any other normal human being, you insufferable frog?"
"As far as I know I speak as normally as any other human." Glenn said. "But if mine voice bothers thee, perhaps it is not my speaking but the curse thou hath lain upon me."
"Right." Magus muttered. "Of course." He expected Glenn to say something along the lines of "so why haven't you undone the spell yet" but all the amphibian did was stare at him patiently. "Don't you hate that form?" Magus asked, finally.
"No." Glenn said. "Though once I had."
Scowling, Magus sighed. "You ruin everything."
Surprisingly, this made Glenn laugh. "...Do I?" He asked, obviously amused. "I suppose killing a man's mentor and turning the same man into a frog is justifiable in some way?"
"Don't turn this into a battle of right versus wrong." Magus muttered. "If you'd stayed out of my way, Lavos would be gone already and you'd have your human form."
"Thou knoweth that not to be true."
"..." Magus glanced into the distance. "...Maybe." He acquiesced.
Glenn was silent, staring out over the darkening landscape. "...Once I heard from a traveler that all clouds have silver linings." He said. Magus looked at him.
Glenn didn't look at him. "If good days are sunny and bad ones are overcast, then the day that thou selfishly turned me into this," He gave a slight nod, "could be equated to a terrible storm."
Magus snorted. "I suppose it could."
"Black clouds..." Glenn murmured. He seemed pensive, almost as though he wasn't paying any attention to Magus. "...In any case, when one looks for a silver lining amongst white clouds, it is near impossible."
"Did you actually try?" Magus sniggered, earning a rather annoyed look from his counterpart.
"Doth thou consider me an idiot?"
"Just a little." Magus said with a smirk.
"I didn't look. However, I do know what clouds look like," He said, seeming even more annoyed with Magus when the warlock grinned maniacally at this statement. "I know that clouds do not have discernable silver linings. Further, it is just a saying."
Magus didn't bother trying to hide his grin. "Yeah, it is. So? What magical deduction has your maggot brain come up with?"
Glenn scowled as best he could at Magus. "Only in dark times do clouds have silver linings. Only when the clouds are black. I thought this, and at that time came to this conclusion..." He said. "...Thou created this body and this body will slay thee."
Magus chuckled, his grin turning sinister at the thought of fighting with Glenn some more. "I don't have time to waste on you," He said. "My purpose is far bigger than you are. Or were."
"Nay, fiend. For as soon as the world is proclaimed safe, I will chase thee to the ends of the earth and put right what was wronged."
"You think by killing me your knight will come back?" Magus asked, brushing some hair out of his face. "Your brain rotted a lot more than I had thought."
Glenn seemed confused. "...It is not for Cyrus. It is for myself that I chase thee."
"Slow down there, froggy." Magus said, smirking. "I don't care what you do. You won't be able to stop me."
Glenn blinked owlishly. Then he laughed. The sound was annoying and Magus was seriously considering breaking the spell for a couple of moments just to be rid of it. "Funny." He murmured. "I had prepared the same thing to say to thee." Magus opened his mouth to retort, but Glenn spoke up first. "I do not plan on stopping thee. I will do my best not to let thine crimes go unpunished."
"Sounds pretty stupid." Magus murmured. "And when I'm dead?"
"I said I would put right what was wronged... however, I did not plan on killing thee until given sufficient cause." Glenn said.
"Killing your friend wasn't enough?"
"He is at peace. I do this, as I have said, for myself."
Magus fell silent. He didn't know what to say. Finally he said, "I could kill you right now and no one would know." He said idly.
Glenn, unfazed, said, "Thou could do no such thing." He said.
Magus glared at him. "I'd hope you knew me better than that."
"Aye, and it is that fact alone that makes me say that thou could do no such thing." Glenn said peacably.
"Hold still. I should recast this spell. Even I hadn't imagined I'd make you go insane by turning you into a frog." Magus quipped, which made Glenn's annoying laugh come back. When it died down, Magus welcomed the silence.
"Thou hath already claimed thou art far too busy to murder me. Even if thou so chose, now would not be the right time." Glenn pointed out. Magus scowled. The stupid amphibian was right about that. "Thine search for thine sister hasn't been faring well." Glenn said, suddenly. Magus couldn't help his absolute shock at how out of the blue that comment was. Glenn noted this and said, "...I hath no love for thee, warlock. But thine sister did not deserve what she was given."
Magus bristled. "What are you talking about," He demanded.
"Lady Schala, of course."
He glared at Glenn. "What makes you think-"
"I know." Glenn said. "There was only one survivor. And even if there were more, Janus was the strongest warlock in Zeal... or at least, he was rumored to be..." A pause, so brief Magus nearly missed it and then, "Magus," Glenn tacked his name to the end of his sentence as if it were a challenge.
Magus grimaced. "...Is that why you don't want revenge?" He asked. Glenn chuckled. "Stop that!"
"It was thou who made me this way," Glenn said with mirth, "And no. That is not why I do not seek revenge."
Magus scoffed. "For Cyrus?"
"I don't believe you." Glenn laughed again. "I told you to stop that. Why the hell don't you want revenge?"
"Because thou would've wanted that," Glenn said. "After this, there is nothing left for me in my time period. But thou will continue to search for Lady Schala. I would like for her to be found safely." Glenn hesitated. "But I pity thee, Magus. That is the only other reason why I would follow you."
"Pity?" Magus asked, without hesitation. "You pity me? Shouldn't that be the other way around?"
"I am sure that my situation is not... enviable." Glenn said. "But I have seen far better days, even in this accursed form, than thou hath in thine entire life. It has turned thee into a madman who believes that when he finds his sister, she might forgive him for all the cruel things he hath done up to now. A sister who bade him remember to treat others fairly, who hadn't wanted to leave him and was torn from him too soon. Perhaps Lady Schala has gone through her own trials and tribulations..." Glenn said, his voice lowering. "...which would make her less reconciling to thine monstrous deeds."
Magus opened his mouth and then snapped it shut immediately. He'd thought about all of this already and there was no reason to give the stupid frog anymore leverage! He turned and began to stalk back to the dome. Glenn didn't follow.
Magus hadn't made it very far before Glenn called out to him, "Wait." Without thinking, Magus turned and faced Glenn.
"What?" He seethed. "Are you going to tell me you hope I never find my sister? Or that you hope she's dead? Or that you hope she hates me?"
Glenn seemed surprised. "I would never wish harm upon someone I have to qualms with."
"I killed your best friend."
"All of the things that thou mentioned previously seem to be wishing harm on Lady Schala. To be lost forever, to be dead..."
"And hating me?"
Glenn shrugged. "Hating something one once loved must be painful." He said.
Magus snorted. "So what, then?" He asked snidely. "What are you going to tell me? Let me guess. All clouds have a silver lining, right? Because it helped you so much before."
Glenn turned away. "Silver linings are tricks of light." He said, surprising Magus. "So truly all clouds do have a silver lining, but one would only see them on black clouds." When Magus opened his mouth to retort, Glenn continued, "I pity thee because there are no light tricks. Even after Lavos is defeated, there will only be black clouds for thee." Then, Glenn looked back at Magus, a strange, frog-smile on his face. "...And is it so horrible that this is the silver lining of my curse?"
For a while they just looked at each other under the dark clouds in a bleak, dismal sky, breathing in air seasoned with tears, fears, and despairs until finally, mood darkened even further by the conversation he'd had, Magus turned and stalked back to the dome, alone.
The lone animal cry from before sounded again and he paused, looking back at Glenn once more. The tiny amphibian swordsman was watching him go, neither smug nor sad.
Maybe Glenn had just followed him out here to issue that challenge. To tell Magus he knew about Schala and that he wanted to see him fail. It was nothing like the wimp of a man that Magus had cursed some time ago. Hell... this was downright evil. Magus realized with a start that a smirk had peeled across his face until Glenn gave him a slightly froggier mimicked response.
Well then, Magus thought, turning away with grim humor. Challenge accepted.