The Magus Hunted Chapter 3

Encounter at the Sun Cave


The blizzard raged through most of the night but blew itself out sometime late in the morning. Ice covered the windows so thickly that they couldn't see anything but white. When Frog opened the door, however, they realized that the ice wasn't too thick. Snow formed another wall outside the door.

"The blizzard hast snowed us in," Frog said.

"No, really?" Magus flipped his cape over his shoulder and held his arms out, then slowly moved his hands in a set pattern. "Nara seto mezena shire, summon forth the path of fire and open the gates to hell...Frog, you might want to move..."

No sooner did he give the warning than a dense spiral of black fire shot out from his hands. Only Frog's strongest jump saved him from being vaporized, and even then the edge of his cape was singed. The wooden door turned to ash and the stone around it melted, steaming as melted snow pooled around their feet. There was little to puddle as the heat was so intense the snow instantly evaporated. As soon as it started, the firestorm ended, leaving tiny wisps of smoke on Magus' gloves.

"Quickly," he said, "ice the sides or it'll collapse in again."

Mentally cursing the wizard, Frog froze the walls of snow on either side of their newly made path. "I see thou hast learned a few new tricks."

"Of course. I can't afford to squander my talents."

"Some talent. Hast thee learned any healing spells yet?"

The wizard snorted and hovered down their ice path. Frog hopped after him, wishing he hadn't iced the ground so thoroughly as he slid with each step.

"Wait. Whither--"

"Oh for the love of God," Magus growled and clenched his fists. "'Whither' this," he muttered in a poor parody of Frog's accent, "'mine liege' that, 'wherefore art thou'..."

If he had hair, Frog would've bristled. "Mine apologies," he said, deliberately thickening his accent. "'Tis merely the way I speak."

"You're the only one in the world that speaks like that. Did you learn from another idiot or were you a freak even before I changed you?"

No answer. Magus glanced at Frog and found him staring straight ahead, ignoring the mage as if he weren't even there. A hint of a smile passed over Magus' face. Bullseye.

"Actually, as I remember it, you didn't sound at all like this when Cyrus died. Did you change it so no one would recognize you?"

"I'm in no mood for thy words, wizard."

Magus gave a humorless laugh. "It's hard, isn't it? Hide behind a mask long enough, and the mask becomes your true face."

"What wouldst thou know of masks?" Frog said. "Thou hast committed thy crimes with neither shame nor remorse, flouting thy sins and laughing the while. Always time for a bit of fun, no?"

"Yes, defending myself from a self-righteous knight and his cowardly squire, such a sin. I should've just bowed and let him chop off my head, is that it?"

"Cyrus was a good man!" Frog stopped and turned, his hand automatically going to his hilt. "He sought thee out for thy crimes, for thy evil!"

"Evil?" Magus' eyes blazed red. "You're right, I don't feel remorse for any of my actions. I hate your humans as much as I hate the mystics."

"Aye, I gathered as much in our prior travels. 'Twas why I couldst never understand why thou took part in the war--"

"God, the war." Magus looked up at the sky as if expecting a response. "Why should I care about two races not my own, in a time not my own, when there was a giant parasite under the ground?"

"But thou were't worshipped," Frog said.

"I appeared in a flash of light. They thought God had answered their prayers."

"A cruel answer. And thou didst not disillusion them."

"I was a child, give me a break. I was used to royal treatment, and just coming into my powers..." He shook his head. "This is ridiculous. I'm not going to argue out here in the snow."

Frog didn't think their argument was done, but he followed after the wizard with no protest. Towards the foot of the mountain, their uniquely dug corridor tapered off, leaving them exposed to the wind. Frog pulled his cloak closer and felt gratified to see Magus do the same. At least it wasn't Death Peak, he thought.

"Thinkest thou they shall be on the summit?"

"No. There's a cave near the top, an old refuge for hunted mystics."

"Then we may look forward to meeting another small army."


The trek up the mountain became difficult, and they stopped talking. Ice burned their hands through their gloves. Frog fell behind Magus and walked in his footsteps, since they made it easier to follow in the deep snow. He wished he could hop over the snow instead of slogging through, but the winds were too strong and too sudden to chance it. No wonder Magus wasn't flying.

Halfway up he turned and looked over the side. From his vantage he saw the whole country down to Fiona's lonely cottage and the shrinking desert wasteland, all icy grey. Sandorino now looked like a campfire, burned out and ashen. He glanced towards the channel between the two continents and spotted what looked like an army of ants, but he knew those were Guardia soldiers and workers rushing to rebuild the bridge. That they would work even in this weather made it obvious just how much they wanted the two fugitives.

No doubt the smoke from Sandorino would drive them faster. Frog felt his shoulders slump, suddenly heavy as the full weight of what he'd done settled on him. There was no castle to return to, not for him. Perhaps he could return to his old dwelling in the forest? Or maybe travel across the ocean and find a secluded island. Anything so he wouldn't have to see Leene look on him in anger and betrayal. Maybe even another time…

"We're here."

The sorcerer's voice startled him out of his brooding. Frog glanced up at the cave in the side of the mountain, but it too dark to see more than a few feet inside. Without waiting for him, Magus lit a small flame inside his hand and walked inside, and Frog hastened to keep up. It didn't help that Magus could take longer strides.

The first scream startled him backwards. The cave filled with frightened shrieks and cries, and Frog wondered if the wizard had led them into trouble. He'd half-drawn the Masamune as he drew up beside Magus, but he froze when he saw them. Dozens of female mystics with smaller creatures, no doubt their children, all huddled together. Some averted their eyes, some pressed themselves against the cave wall. Most were crying. A few of them, nagas with burns and battle wounds, rose up on their tails, but Frog doubted they would be able to fight at all.

"Did Flea and Slash came through here?" Magus demanded.

The nagas exchanged a glance, and one of them nodded wordlessly. Magus wasted no time and walked between them, his cloak brushing against their scales. None of them moved to stop him, nor Frog when he hopped by. Deeper in the cave there were fewer mystics to hear them, so Frog chanced a comment.

"Hardly an army," he whispered. "Why do they hide here?"

"It's winter, they have wounded, and they've just lost most of their men." He cracked his knuckles one by one, the pops muffled by his thick gloves. "It serves us well enough. I doubt they have any sympathy for my former generals now."

"But…" Frog glanced over his shoulder at the mystics, most of them watching them closely and ready to bolt if necessary. "'Tis winter. If none of them canst hunt…"

"…then they starve." Magus stopped and looked down at him. "What do you care? You cut them down easily enough a few days ago."

"They attacked us! I have never sought out a battle with them."

"Humans did. You fight for the humans." He pulled one glove tight as he walked. "You think your knights will leave them alive when they discover them?"

Frog stopped. Would they? He'd only ever fought mystics already attacking him, in glorious battle where both sides won honor for themselves. But the knights, they didn't think like him. Even before the war, mystics were to be shunned and driven out. Only in the southern part of the continent did a few mystics live side by side with humans, and even those were far and few between. No, he knew if the knights followed them, then all these mystics would die.

"We canst not leave them," he said. "We must protect them, help--"

"Delusional fool," Magus said, turning back towards him. "You think they'll follow you? And even if they forgot how many of theirs you'd killed, do you think you can move so many children and wounded so quickly, outrun your knights? If it came to a fight, would you kill your former comrades?"

"But 'tis wrong to let them die."

"Forget them. They're a lost cause. Hell, they're practically dead already."

"'Tis not fair!"

"I thought you knew life wasn't fair." Magus half-smiled. "You're the frog traveling with the bastard who changed you."

While Frog seethed, the wizard glanced at the back of the cave only a few feet away. In the darkness, a sparkle of light was the only indication that something was there. Magus waved his hand over it, chanting something Frog could faintly hear, and the sparkle turned into a familiar gate that lit the cave blue.

"What?" Frog gasped. "I thought those had disappeared!"

"Not quite. Your 'entity' must like a little variety in its life because this is the way I travel." He stepped into the gate, and Frog hesitated only a second before following him in. Even though he didn't know where they would end up, the sensation of traveling through a gate, the rush of colors and speed and nervousness, felt wondrously familiar. This was what he'd missed while living those long boring spaces between battles, throwing himself headlong into the unknown and future combat.

They appeared in the same cave, but even in the darkness they could tell something was different. It was warm and bright sunlight sparkled at the opening. Frog hopped ahead and looked out over the landscape. Everything was green, including what had once been Fiona's desert, and the ground where Sandorino had once stood was now a grassy field.

"I think we mayhaps be in Crono's time," he said, glancing back at Magus. No sooner had he turned than an arrow flew past his face and embedded itself in the rock. He stumbled back a step and drew his sword, looking for his attacker, while Magus drew his scythe. A second later, a blonde female came running out of the bushes.

"Oh geez, Frog, I'm so sorry!" Marle said, putting her crossbow up and giving him a giant hug. "I never expected to see you here. At all! Oh my God, it's so good to see you again."

With a relieved sigh, Frog sheathed the Masamune and grinned. "Princess, 'tis good to see thee again, though I didst not expect thou here either."

"Crono and Lucca are around here, too," she said, then noticed Magus. "Whoa…you two are traveling together?"

"Not my fault," Magus said. "He insisted. Have you seen Slash or Flea?"

"So that's who're we're after," she said, looking down in thought. "We heard about a pair of powerful mystics making trouble near Porre, so me and Crono and Lucca came down to investigate."

"It must be them. Porre, thou sayest?" Frog looked around again at the much changed scenery and took off his cape, folding it over his arm. "Ist' summer? We came during a harsh winter."

"Yup. C'mon, let's go down and meet the others. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to see you." Marle motioned for them to follow and started back down the mountain. "We've been hearing really nasty things about these mystics, and I wasn't looking forward to meeting them."

"How long have they been here?" Magus asked, keeping his own cloak on. He was used to the cool winds on the Zeal continent, and then the subterranean lairs of the mystics. At least this way he could keep the sun off of his back.

"We're not sure, but we've been getting reports since last week."

"Last week?" Frog glanced at Magus. "Mayhaps 'tis not our quarry."

Pausing under a giant oak, Marle glanced over her shoulder at them. Her voice became quiet. "They've been killing people who live out in the woods, outside of the towns. We got to examine one of the houses. It was awful."

"Blood splattered everywhere?" Magus asked. "The bodies seemed to have disappeared?"

"That's it exactly," she said. "How did you know?"

"There's only one reason to slaughter humans, besides revenge. Humans who suffer violent deaths give off a certain type of energy." He tugged absently on one glove, as if he were discussing nothing but the weather. "It's perfect for transformation spells."

Frog stared at him. "Thou thou didst to me?"

"Right. You can save it up, so you don't need to perform a sacrifice before every transformation."

"Save it?" Marle tilted her head, curious despite herself. "How?"

"It comes out as multicolored light that you can catch and bag." He reached into the sash around his waist and produced a small pouch. "I still have three saved."

Marle and Frog looked at his hand with wide eyes and both took a step back.

"You killed people?" Marle whispered. "Innocent people?"

"Innocent? Hardly." He smiled and put the pouch back. "Cyrus is number three."

"What?" Frog gasped. "Thou hast his soul imprisoned for thy black magicks--?"

"Don't be so damn dramatic, it's just energy." Magus waved one hand dismissively and walked past them. "If it was his soul, he wouldn't have spoken to you at his grave, would he?"

"But to profit from death..." Since the wizard showed no signs of stopping, Frog hopped faster to catch up to him. Marle trailed behind.

There was no reason to tread carefully. No monsters jumped out at them, no bushes rustled as they went by. Nothing but the peaceful twittering of birds and the wind through the trees. That was probably what set Marle so much on edge, Magus figured. When you're used to dozens of creatures attacking you en masse, the sudden silence was unnerving.

"You're so naive, even now," he said. "We profited by Lavos' death, hell, your kingdom just slaughtered a whole army of mystics and will probably finish off the survivors, if they haven't already. Tell me no one was celebrating their victory."

"You fought an army?" Marle asked, putting her hand on Frog's shoulder. "How long ago?"

"Several centuries by thy reckoning, though 'twas less than a handful of days by mine."

"That's not right," she said. "Our history books say that all the fighting stopped after Crono and us came through. Are you sure--?"

"Aye, and we lost our king in the process."

"You're not the best scholar in the world, princess. Maybe we should ask if you're sure?"

She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "I'm not that bad, it's just boring! But I know it shouldn't have happened that way."

"Perhaps 'tis the absence of Lavos that affects time so?" Frog said. "That this is the way things ought to have been?"

Marle shook her head. "I don't know. If time is acting up again, we might have more important things to worry about than Flea and Slash. We need to ask Lucca right away."

"You're the ones still talking," Magus said as he started walking again.

Marle and Frog exchanged a look. "Just as cheery as ever, isn't he?"

"Thou knowest not the half of it."

They met Crono and Lucca at the bottom of the mountain, the pair of them surrounded by a small group of humans, most likely the woods dwellers who had found the bodies or were simply together out of fear. As Magus walked out of the cover of the trees, they backed away, making a path towards the two heroes. When the humans they were talking to spotted him and looked askance, they glanced back and gasped.

"Magus," Lucca said, her hand automatically moving to her gun. In her mind she put together everything they knew about the murders and found a convenient answer presented to her. "Tell me you aren't the one we're looking for."

"Not today. Flea and Slash are the ones you want. They killed your humans for transformative energy."

Marle ran past him with Frog in tow. "Look who I found!" She watched as Lucca grinned and swamped Frog in yet another hug. "He says they just came from a huge battle that shouldn't have happened and they fought a dead dragon and came through a gate."

Crono scratched his head in confusion but Lucca latched onto the most important detail. "A gate? I those had closed again. Have you found a way to make new ones?"

"No need," Magus said. "They already exist. I just travel through them."

"Weird," she said. "We haven't seen any gates at all."

"Nor have I," Frog said. "Though Magus knew exactly where to find it."

"Like last time, they're usually in the same spot regardless of the era." Magus pulled his hood a little lower to shield his eyes. The summer sun was high in the sky and blinding. "Once I find one, it never moves."

"How many have you found?" Lucca started to ask, then shook her head. "No, hold on. We can do this later. First we need to find Slash and Flea and--"

A loud explosion cut her off, drawing screams from the gathered humans. They all turned and saw the fireball rising out of the forest, branches and limbs bursting in all directions, and then two figures flew into the air. One was pink with a flowing white dress, the other was purple with dark stains on his clothes, mostly likely blood. Both now had large wings growing from their backs. As one, they flew off to the east and disappeared.

"Late again," Magus mumbled.

"Was that them?" Marle asked. "Since when do they have wings?"

Lucca looked down at the ground, in deep thought. "They must have wanted that energy to transform themselves. But wait, there were more than two people killed. Why kill so many?"

"How many died?" Frog asked.

"Twenty or so," Marle said. "We can't be sure since the bodies all disappear."

Magus tugged on one glove as he considered. Inwardly, Frog wondered if he could grab those gloves someday and throw them away. The wizard's habit was starting to irritate him.

"Twenty," Magus said, more to himself than them. They listened anyway. "It's enough to lay the groundwork for a large spell. But they can't have enough power between them to carry it through. Flea couldn't even manage very large wind spells when he attacked me before."

"Could they kill more people to get that power?" Marle asked.

"No, it's no good for boosting power, just transformations. It's very specific." He looked back at the spot where the pair had disappeared. "They must have transformed to get to some sort of booster."

With a startled gasp of realization, Crono grabbed Lucca's shoulder.

"Oh my God, the Sun Stone," she said. "I put it back in the cave after I used it. They must be after that."

"Impossible," Frog said, "'twas used up when thou made thy weapons."

"True," Magus said, "but obviously those two know how to find and use gates. Maybe there's one on the island that I never found."

"If they take it before we used it," Lucca said, "it'll cause a paradox. Who knows what might happen?"

"We have to follow them," Marle said. "And try to beat them there."

A bitter laugh made them all look at Magus, who swept one edge of his cloak back. "You'll never catch up to them. Try not to be too upset when I bring them back in pieces, Frog. Wouldn't want to offend your sensibilities."

Lucca put her hand out, trying to catch his cloak as he bent slightly. "Wait, Magus, you can't--"

"What, did you forget I can fly?" He leaped into the air and didn't come down, moving high up into the clouds until they couldn't see him anymore.

"He hasn't changed at all," Marle said, "has he?"

Tapping the Masamune's hilt as he thought, Frog stared into the sky after the wizard. "'Tis difficult to say. He's as arrogant as ever, yet he did promise to bring them back to us. And he hath aided Guardia in her latest battles against the mystics, as reluctant as he was to do so." He smiled despite himself. Though he was exiled in his own era and he didn't want to dwell on his loss or how he would explain the situation, being with his former comrades again facing a worthy enemy made the pain ebb. While his era knew mainly winter and darkness, summer never seemed to leave Crono's time.

Sighing, Lucca put her goggles down over her face and headed for the edge of the forest. "Great, so he's still an idiot, just a nicer idiot. Come on, let's go after him before he gets into real trouble."

"But thou destroyed the Epoch," Frog said, hopping after her. "Unless thou hast learned to fly...?"

"Dismantled, not destroyed," she said, grabbing the edge of a bush and pulling it up, revealing a camouflaged canvas and the stainless steel beneath it. "Behold, the Epoch III! It flies faster, farther and now seats up to five people! No more of that three to a life-threatening trip anymore." She pressed a button on a remote and the clear plastic top slid back, revealing two front seats and three behind those.

"'Tis truly impressive," Frog said, climbing in with Marle and Crono and letting her fasten a safety harness across his lap. "But why Epoch III? Because of Dalton's interference?"


Marle laughed as she buckled herself in. "Because the Epoch II blew up."

"What?" Strapped in as he was, Frog found that he couldn't escape his seat. He glanced at Crono and found him sitting with his hands tightly gripping the armrests, his eyes squeezed shut. "Ah, perhaps we shouldst wait for Magus' return, loathe as I am to suggest it."

The console lit up with blinking buttons and read-outs and the plastic top slid back over them, clicking into place. Lucca readjusted her goggles and grabbed the steering rig. "Engines to power..."

The engines whirled beneath them, making the vehicle hum. An electrical whine filled the cockpit. "Turbines to speed..." The hum turned into a loud vibration and white smoke poured from beneath the exhaust pipes. The Epoch rose a foot off the ground and hovered, lurching slightly to one side. She pressed her foot down on one of two pedals on the floor, revving the engines once. "Hang on tight! Here we go!"

With a brilliant flash, the Epoch zoomed into the sky, leaving behind an amazed group of people and a patch of steamed grass.

Farther ahead, Magus held his hand in front of his face to block the wind. He'd grown more powerful in the last year, allowing him to fly faster, but that didn't help his eyes or the threat of crashing into a flock of birds. The cold air in the higher atmosphere was a welcome relief, as was the cover the clouds offered. Ice crystals formed along his cloak and his hair.

Beneath him, the ocean spread out in all directions and sparkled in the sun. A pod of dolphins skimmed across the top of the water, while darker shapes swam below the surface. He watched them for a moment. Thousands of years in the past, he had looked over the edge of his world and watched them, wishing he could get a closer look. In all the years since, he'd never gone. He looked ahead again. There still wasn't time.

Not far ahead, the Sun Cave rose into view. He spotted his prey landing on the beach and heading inside. A few minutes later, he landed and paused a the cave's entrance. He hadn't seen anyone come out again. He brought his scythe out from under his cloak and held it ready to swing.

A meow whispered in his head. "Not now," he said, stepping inside. "First I have to kill these two."

For something called the Sun Cave, there was little light inside. Only a strong ray coming down at the far end of the cave. The rest of the stone swallowed up any reflections or diffused light. His boots made little noise as he walked, glancing around himself even though he didn't hear anyone else. Putting one hand over his eyes to shield them, he stepped right up to the light and knelt, examining the ground. The stone was gone. Footsteps ranged over the loose sand of the area, along with long streaks that showed where a robe's edge had dragged.

"They were here already," he said to himself. "And they couldn't have gone far yet." He glanced up. He hadn't seen them come out of the front, and maybe they'd seen him giving chase. They'd probably escaped up as he came in.

There was a rustle from the cave's mouth and a bit of sand that slipped over the lip, drifting down in front of him, as if someone trying to be quiet had accidentally nudged it. He grinned and drew the blade back, ready to swing it when he was at the top. Deep breath, and then he flew straight up.

A searing burst of fire through his body told him he'd flown into a trap. Light erupted around him and he shut his eyes before they could be damaged. Crying out, he blindly sliced his scythe out and felt it meet some resistance. Another scream, this time Slash's, and he smiled despite the pain. Unable to see where he was going, he slammed into the side of the entrance and lost his bearings. As he began to fall back towards the ground, he flung the scythe down out of his hands and cast a spell, sending dark mist shooting up towards his enemies. The spell left his hands just seconds before he hit the sand below.

Silence. They hadn't followed him, then. Hopefully the dark mist had caught one or both of them in full. He groaned and turned on his side. Now that whatever spell they'd cast on him was gone, he was left with a sharp knife's edge over most of his arms and face, as if he'd been cut and the wounds exposed to air. At least he had fallen in the dark, he thought.

Outside, the Epoch came to a halt in front of the Sun Cave in time for everyone inside to see the two figures standing on top of the cave swallowed in a dark, roiling mist. Slash was already down on one leg, the other gouged and bleeding, and was thus out of the mist's range. Flea tried to dodge, but it ran past his face and hands, scalding them like hot acid. He screamed and stumbled backwards.

"Looks like Magus has 'em," Lucca said.

"I fear not," Frog said, leaning forward over her shoulder. "Why doth he not press his attack?"

Flea stopped flailing as the burning ceased, moving slowly so as not to pull the mangled skin. He froze when he saw the Epoch hovering not far away, but after a moment's thought grabbed a bag from the ground and put one arm around Slash, lifting them both into the sky. This time instead of flying, they simply vanished.

"Damn," she muttered. "Hold on, guys, I'm landing."

Smoother than he expected, Frog still held his breath until the craft landed on the beach and the top slid back. He watched how Marle unbuckled her safety straps and did likewise, hopping over their heads to escape the ship. Though they had arrived safely, he was certain his stomach was still a few miles behind him.

Frog went ahead inside, coming to a stop at the ray of light. The scythe was here, blood staining the long edge. "Magus?" he called. "Art thou here?"

"More or less."

The shadows made him hard to spot, but Frog eventually noticed the wizard sitting against the rock wall, shoulders slumped. His hands hung limp in front of him, showing Frog how hurt they were despite being covered in gloves, and as the knight stepped closer, he spotted the long welts across Magus' throat and face. On his too white skin, they stood out like whip marks.

"Once again I must needs bring thee back from death," Frog said. "This is becoming a habit, wizard."

"Hardly dead," Magus said, standing before Frog could do anything. "And I don't need your help."

As he spoke, the welts faded and disappeared and he stood with only a slight wince.

"Ah, thou hast healing draughts with thee."

"Magus," Lucca said as the others ran in. "What happened? Why did you let them get away?"

"'Let them'?" he asked, looking down at her. " No 'let' about it. Little bastards had a surprise waiting for me."

"Are you hurt--?" Marle started to ask, but he waved her off.

"I'm well enough." He watched as Lucca knelt by the ground in the circle of sunlight. "They took the stone."

She nodded and stood up. "Doesn't look like they had time to cast any spells in here, though," she said, pulling her goggles on top of her helmet. "Maybe it's a good thing you followed so close and didn't give 'em a chance to do anything."

"I wasn't trying to stall them," he growled, "I was trying to kill them."

"If it's any consolation, you nearly did. Slash looked like he was holding his leg together and Flea...his head got caught in that mist of yours."


"It looked bad where we were," Marle said, "like his skin was coming off."

"Good. He'll take at least a day or so to recover. Time enough to find them." He started towards the cave entrance.

"Wait," Lucca said, running in front of him. "You can't just go off on your own."

"Why not?"

Happy that he'd actually stopped to listen instead of walking around her, she crossed her arms as she spoke. "They didn't fly off like before. They just disappeared. You won't be able to find them."

"I'll find them," he said, unimpressed. "They cast one spell and I'll know exactly where they are."

"Which is why they won't use any spells," she said. "They'll probably just use a healing elixir. You'll just be wasting time waiting in the clouds."

"And you have a better idea?"

"Yes. We haven't seen you or Frog in a year and I, for one, wanna catch up a bit. And I'm tired, and you must be tired. We've been traipsing through the mountains all week, Frog said something about a battle and a dead dragon and none of that should have happened in our timestream."

"Sandorino was gone in this time," he reminded her. "That didn't change."

"You see, that's something we need to talk about," she said. "C'mon, dinner at my place?"

Marle sighed and shook her head. "Geez," she whispered to Crono, "next she'll be taking him to a movie."

He glanced at her and wished he'd gone on more of her shopping trips to the future with Lucca. Obviously they'd been doing things he had no idea about. What the heck was a movie?

Magus considered for a moment, then nodded once. "Fine. I'll meet you there."

"Or you could just ride with us," she said.

He opened his mouth to say something, then frowned and looked back at the three behind him. "How did you get four people here? I thought your contraption only fit three."

"Five now," she chirped, "with my new modifications and an all-new design." She led the way out, climbing into the open cockpit and plopping down in the driver's seat.

Without a word, Magus joined her in the front passenger seat, sweeping his cloak entirely inside. Lucca heard him whisper something and looked at him, wondering if he was talking to her. A flash of purple fur caught her eye and she smiled as Alfador curled up on Magus' lap.

"You went back and got him," she said.

"Of course. I couldn't just leave him there."

Crono, Marle and Frog climbed in after them, the men pushed aside as Marle leaned forward between the two front seats to get a look at the purple cat. "Ooh, he's so cute" she squealed, daring so far as to rub behind Alfador's ears. Magus glared, but as long as his cat did nothing but purr, he didn't move. "Where were you keeping him? Your cloak?"

"My shadow."

"Strap in," Lucca said, a little surprised when Magus managed his safety belt easily. "Have you been to the future?"

He nodded once. "A waste of time. The archives were useless."

"Archives...?" she asked, revving the engines and bring the Epoch into the air. "But there are so many other things there. The movies, the malls, the huge parks and--"

"I have no use for them." As the Epoch turned, it faced the setting sun and the glare over the ocean, blinding him. He scowled and drew his hood low over his face.

Lucca took that as her cue to stop asking questions. She slipped the Epoch's engines into the next gear, adjusted their altitude and accelerated until the water turned into a blur beneath them, flying towards the horizon.



Chapter 4

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