III

Date with Destiny
a series of Chrono Trigger shortfics by Dot


III. A.D. 575: Vicious Cycle


By the third day, it occurred to me that I could die.

That had put me in a bit of a panic. Here I was, lost and alone in a strange world, captured by a bunch of lowlife scumbags because I was careless, and now I might check out before I could find my way home and avenge myself on Lavos.

Plus, being tied to a pole by my wrists for three straight days with no food and very little water, while being used as a human whipping post on top of that, made for a rather unpleasant experience, to say the least. I think my lack of screaming or begging for mercy annoyed them, so they made it a point to make my life as miserable as possible.

Good thing I was determined not about to back down now, not even if it—gulp—killed me. I was a Prince (never mind that being the heir to Zeal meant next to nothing here), and I would not going to give those assholes the satisfaction of breaking me.

But I was still a kid, dammit. And it hurt something awful.

I heard the leader’s boots crunch in the gravel, signaling the start of the usual routine. I drew in a quiet breath and forced my body to relax. Tensing up just made the pain that much worse. I opened my eyes and kept my face a blank mask. He was not worthy of my fear or my hatred.

“You’re still alive, brat?” He lifted my chin with the long leather handle of his whip. “I must say I’m impressed.”

A small group of the occupied town’s women gathered at the edge of my vision. I recognized one of them as Ciel, the mute girl who took me in that first night I stumbled down Truce pass, three blue imps at my heels. If I knew then what I knew now—that there were far worse things in the world than monsters—I might have let those things eat me.

The first blow landed across my shoulders, reopening the cut that stopped bleeding last night. Those looked gruesome, but they were the least of my worries as I had since also lost feeling from having my arms held over my head.

The second slapped across my stomach, and I was almost taken by surprise at that one. Pain radiated through my gut, and I fought the wave of nausea that followed.

He must have noticed my reaction, because he smirked. “So you aren’t made of stone, after all.” He raised the whip again. “Let’s see how you like this next one.”

“What the hell are you doing, Drake?”

So the man’s name was Drake. He made an amusing shift from bully to sniveling worm as a man who bore some resemblance to him rode up in a tall horse.

“I-I was just teaching this brat a lesson, Leon.”

Leon dismounted, his sword rattling against his armor. “And what sort of lesson is that? That people like you are despicable bastards who need to be stabbed in their sleep?”

I had to bite back a chuckle as Drake went red with shame and white with rage. (Boy, was laughing ever a bad idea. Ow.)

Meanwhile, Drake stammered something incoherent, then stomped up to me and drew his sword.

I fell to the ground as Drake’s sword sliced through the ropes holding me up.

( xv )

— A.D. 590 —

I watched my troops move through the town, fighting the few hardliners who stayed to maintain an impossible defense. Slash hated our “warn first, destroy later” policy, but I was the leader of the Mystics now and he would have to put up with my so-called quirks. Besides, he would figure out soon enough that it was much faster to build a reputation when you have survivors talking about you and adding their own little exaggerations to the tale as it got passed around.

Speaking of survivors, it was time to check up on the sole prisoner I had taken during this latest attack.

Drake had, as I suspected, elected to remain in the circle I had drawn for him. It was, after all, the single safe place for miles around. My minions, being obedient to my will, did nothing to harm him, but I had given no orders to refrain from taunting him. In his fear, he had almost crossed the line a few times, before he remembered that all bets were off once he left of his own volition.

He was pathetic. I did not even have to torture him; his imagination did all the work for me.

A small blur rushed at me. “Foul demon!”

Ah, the boy. I had almost forgotten about him. I dodged his attack without effort and picked him up by the back of his shirt. “Still around, brat? I seem to remember telling you to scram.”

The boy attempted to twist out of my grasp to limited effect. “I’m not a brat! My name is Cyrus Whitehall, and you’d better let my father go!”

I examined this Cyrus. Yes, I saw the resemblance now. “I am afraid I cannot do that. I made a promise to your father that he would pay for what he did, and I always keep my promises.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Drake exclaimed. “I’ve done nothing to you!”

Drake turned white as I removed my glove and showed him the scars running along my wrist. “I hardly consider torturing a small child who did not know any better as ‘nothing’. But being magnanimous, I am willing to forgive that.” I put my glove back on and stepped into the circle, causing Drake to fall on his butt and begin whimpering. “I was referring to everything else you did in Truce, you ‘despicable bastard’.”

Cyrus slipped from my grasp and begin kicking at my shins. “Take that back! Father is the best knight there ever was!”

“Really, now?” I prodded Cyrus with the tip of my boot so that he stumbled in front of his trembling father. “Do you want to disillusion your boy, Drake, or shall I?”

“He’s lying, isn’t he, father?” Cyrus asked, a touch of desperation entering his voice. “Tell me that he’s lying!”

When Drake did not reply, I spoke for him. “If there were any justice in the world, Drake, you would be forced to live through what you visited upon Truce a hundredfold for all eternity. But I have a reputation to maintain, and I have no desire to stain my gloves with your disgusting blood.” I tossed a short sword onto the ground. “I’m erasing the circle tomorrow. I suggest you make your peace with your son and your god, if you believe in one, before then.”

( xv )

— A.D. 595 —

“MAGUS!”

I did not turn. I would recognize that voice anywhere. After all, when a man makes it his personal mission to hunting you down and destroying you, you make it your business to know him.

Cyrus Whitehall. Poor, deluded fool. He still refused to believe that I was not his enemy, not in the way he thought, at least. I was, of course, a very real threat to the Kingdom he served, but he did not fight for peace or the wellbeing of the people. His goal was revenge for the death of his beloved father.

“You die today!” He drew the Masamune from its scabbard. I could feel the throbbing of its wild energies as he pointed it towards me.

Fool. I was not immune to ordinary swords; I just did my damnedest not to get hit by one. The Masamune may have been more effective in that regard, but it was also a double-edged weapon. I could feel the spirits judging Cyrus by the same standards as they judged me.

We were both unworthy.


Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
Magus is one of the characters in Chrono Trigger that already has an extensive backstory, but I couldn’t help adding a few more details. Nothing is as fun as muddying the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.
The scene divider is the roman numeral for fifteen, which is just a number I picked at random.

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