Chrono Continuum Chapter 40
Back in the Day
The demon sniffed loudly, trying to catch their scent. They were close by, it knew. If only it could find them. They were much more elusive than normal prey. It wasn't that it was hungry, it just felt like killing these three, but it was getting to be more trouble than it thought.
As the beast brushed the tree she was hiding behind, Lucca held her breath. If she made any noise, it would find her. Although if she had to stay in this place much longer, it would find her by the chattering of her teeth. For, while her new outfit looked great on her, it gave next to no warmth, and this end-of-the-summer day was surprisingly cold. She looked around for her comrades. She couldn't see them. Good. If she could, there was a good chance the creature could as well.
She watched, as the lion-like beast moved right by her tree, and she let out a completely inaudible sigh of relief. The beast stopped. She froze again, but the beast had already figured out where she was. It turned its head, and stared right at her. Red saliva dripped from its mouth, giving the definite impression that it had just drank blood. Perhaps it had.
She reached down to her Wondershot, slowly, so as not to alert the beast to her purpose. It knew anyway. It leapt at her, and she screamed (yes, just like in the horror movies), but managed to draw her gun anyway. She closed her eyes, and fired. She heard a howl, but felt no collision. Had the blast been enough to kill it, or at least knock it back?
She opened her eyes, and saw the beast on the ground, with a smoking hole in its chest. She stepped out from her hiding place. "Wow," she announced, "if I'd known it would be that easy, I wouldn't have bothered hiding."
The beast's form began to soften, and it melted into a smoking mass. Lucca held her nose. It stank. In a moment, Frog and Glenn stepped out from their respective hiding places, and glanced at the beast.
"Well, done," Frog complimented her, and Glenn nodded in agreement.
"Glenn," Lucca began, as the two drew nearer, "Did you have to deal with this stuff often?"
Glenn shook his head. "No, Lucca. In mine... 'timeline', Demons existed, but didn't roam freely around. 'Tis a very bad effect of the latest wave. Art thou cold," he asked, concerned at her shivering.
Lucca looked up through the trees. It was night, although this forest was so dense that daylight looked much the same. She nodded vigorously. "Very. We need to get me a better outfit, at least here. I don't know how Ayla stood it." Frog smiled at the allusion to the scantily-clad cave woman, but Glenn didn't catch the reference. Lucca continued, "Come on, guys. Let's go to-" A growl cut her off.
The three looked around in surprise for the source. The growl didn't cease, or even decrease, but instead grew, as if many creatures were joining in the growl. They backed towards eachother, so that they all faced outwards, but they couldn't see their attackers. "Where are they," Lucca asked, to which the other two merely shrugged.
As one, the menace became apparent. Wolves. Dozens of them. But these wolves were far from ordinary. They were black as night, and their eyes glowed with a supernatural intensity. Their tails were also a dead giveaway that these were demonic hounds. Instead of the normal, slightly bushy tails of wolves, their tails lost their hair near the base, and gained a shell. The tails rose up, and curved over the bodies of the wolves, ending at a point, as with a scorpion. These were not lovable puppies, to say the least. And their attention was riveted on the three they had surrounded, who, by the way, had no doubt as to the intention of the hounds. And as such, Lucca decided to do something about it.
She held out her left palm, while re-holstering the Wondershot with her right, and a ball of flame began to form in it. She hauled back, and threw the fireball forward. It exploded on contact with the ground, throwing several wolves in all directions. Immediately, she and her companions began to run forward, taking advantage of the hole in the ranks. In a moment, they were through, and running for all they were worth. The wolves, however, had quickly realized what had happened, and had begun to follow. None of the three Travelers were dumb enough to think that they'd outrun the wolves, but they hoped to reach an area where the wolves would lose the advantage. It was soon clear that they wouldn't get that far.
One wolf jumped over their heads, and turned upon landing. Glenn jumped forward, and slashed with his Masamune, cutting the beast nearly in two, and rejoined his running allies. Getting an idea, Frog also drew his Masamune, and slashed through a tree that they passed. It fell behind them, crushing a few wolves, and creating a temporary block to the rest. Frog had to do the same thing a few more times before they finally broke out of the forest.
They ran a good thirty feet more, and over a hill, before they stopped, and turned, waiting to see if the wolves had ventured out of the forest. They waited, the night completely silent. A lone wolf rose up over the hilltop, and looked down at them contemptuously. In a few moments, the rest of the pack appeared as well, completely silent. They knew that they no longer held the advantage of the forest, but they still had the advantage of numbers. As one, they began forward, at a leisurely pace, in no hurry to devour their prey. Glenn and Frog both readied their swords, and Lucca drew both her guns.
A bright flash took them all by surprise. But not as much as the concussion that followed. With the force of the explosion of a bundle of dynamite, that made a crater in the ground, the mini-legion of wolves was cast away, row by row, and the three adventurers were thrown back as well. With a tearing sound familiar to Lucca and Frog, a two-dimensional circle of blackness deeper than the night formed. Pulses came out of it, as if trying to push everyone far enough away so that they couldn't see the maker of the gate. Out of the circle stepped a figure, unrecognizable in the darkness. The gate closed behind him, and he looked around.
"Damned gate," he muttered in a deep voice, that was familiar to the three Travelers, "it's still too unstable."
Rising up from the ground, the three were about to run to the newcomer, when the wolves charged again. The man turned to them, and raised an arm, pointing at the waves of canine fury. Fire rose in a ring about the man, illuminating his cape, with the red side out, and his long blue hair. A fireball shot from his outstretched arm, making an explosion in the middle of the ranks. Burning wolves landed on eachother, catching eachother on fire. But still they pursued. And still he retained his position. Fireball after fireball detonated, blowing the wolves to bits, and still they came. Finally, having enough, the man raised his arm higher, to point at the sky. His arm glowed with blue light. From the sky, a lightning bolt struck, blowing away many of the wolves. In rapid succession, bolts struck the ground wherever there was a wolf, as if the sky itself had decided to exterminate every last one of them. Finally, there were no wolves, merely burnt craters, and burnt carcasses. The shield of flame died down, and the man surveyed what he had done. And then he collapsed.
The three, getting over their awe, ran over to him to see if he was injured, and if it was who they thought it was. They turned him over, and Glenn drew his Masamune. In a moment, it began to glow, and illuminated the unconscious man before them. In a moment, they had all identified him.
"Magus," they stated, at the same time.
He opened his eyes, by now familiar with waking up after complete exhaustion. It was becoming a daily occurence. It was daylight. His eyes flicked around, as he wasn't sure if he wanted whoever brought him here to know he was awake.
He was in a bed. To his right, a woman was sitting against a wall, asleep. Her outfit would definitely be considered indecent in this time period. He'd think she was from the Kingdom, if her hair wasn't purple. He looked her over. She wore the outfit well. She had two weapons. One was a projectile gun, the other... the Wondershot! He looked back to her face. She had glasses. Could it be? Magus was surprised, who would have thought Lucca would grow up to look like this. Although she didn't look an entire twenty years older. Maybe ten, twelve... His eyes flicked to the other side of the room. A man was sitting at a desk, reading. A candle had recently gone out on the desk, as he had apparently put it out when daylight came. He examined the man from the back. Green hair. The jawline was impressive. And the sword... Magus would recognize that sword anywhere. "Damn," he muttered out loud.
The man spun around. It was definitely Glenn. "Magus," he exclaimed, "thou art awake!"
"As I thought," Magus replied, "if you're Glenn again, I must be dying."
Glenn looked at him oddly for a moment, and then smiled, shaking his head. Magus didn't exactly appreciate that reaction to his condition. "No, Magus. I am an... alternate Glenn. Thine Glenn, whom thou turned into Frog, hath left to get food."
"That's right, Magus," a female voice interrupted. Magus turned his head to see Lucca, still sitting against the wall, but awake, "you're not even close to dying."
Ignoring the good news, Magus instead replied, "You told an alternate about us?"
"More than that, Magus. He's one of us now," she replied, hoping that he wasn't angry.
Magus promptly sat up and cursed. "And I thought you were the scientific one. He's one of us? How am I supposed to get all of us to the Beginning of Time before the Hellbound hunt us down?"
"Beginning of Time," Glenn asked. Lucca shrugged.
She turned back to Magus and asked, "The Hellbound? How do you know about them?"
Magus got off the bed, and walked over to a corner of the room, which he leaned against. He could now see both of them. "Whatever they are, I fought with one of them, along with Robo. I'm not sure we could've won. Have you encountered one of them?" They both nodded. "Great. Just great. Was one of them named Kradish, by the way?" They both shook their heads. He raised an eyebrow. "I don't suppose you met 'Janus'?"
"Thou hast met him as well," Glenn asked. "'Twas a worthy opponent."
Magus was about to reply, when Lucca cut in. "Why are you here? If you met Robo, where is he? Have you met any other travelers? Have you seen Corea, or Rakin, or Gaspar?"
Magus stared at her for a moment. "Well, despite your good looks, you still obviously are Lucca." Before Lucca could consider this and respond angrily (as that was exactly what the remark was meant to do) Magus answered, "I'm here because we thought it wise to gather all the Travelers together. When I say 'we', I mean Robo, Thanatos, Rakin, and myself. So, yes I have seen Rakin. Corea is in 64,999,998 BC, and I'm guessing Gaspar, is still in 1020 AD." Before Lucca could interrupt for another question, Magus continued, "You're much better at telling stories than I am, Lucca, for various reasons, so you should probably tell me what's happened with you so far."
At just that moment, the door opened, and Frog walked in. He immediately looked to Magus, and Magus to him. There was something there, between them, that the other two couldn't quite identify, and then Frog walked over and sat on the bed. Magus looked to Lucca. "You were saying...?"
"Good luck, Magus," Lucca wished him, followed by a hug. Magus remained completely unmoved by the act, and when Lucca pulled back, she looked him in the eye and muttered, "Well, don't get all mushy or anything like that," followed by a quick smirk. She pulled away, to let Glenn through. The two shook hands, and that was about it. When it came to Frog's turn, the amphibian merely nodded, and Magus was perfectly happy to just nod back.
Stepping away from the other three, Magus tilted his head back, and set his arms straight out to the sides. After a few moments, the familiar tearing sound began, and the dark gate formed. As the other three moved toward the gate, Magus issued his only warning, "The Black Wind howls around you three. Don't make any stupid mistakes while I'm stuck in this era." And then he turned around and walked off, not even bothering to make sure they all made it through the portal.
It would be a hard few days, until he once again had the power to make a gate. He had forgotten just how dirty this era was. Oh well, he thought, if I get too disgusted with these people, I can always go out and kill some demons.
How ironic that, having been drawn into yet another portal, I would end
up in this age.
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