Crono and his companions challenged everything in order to save the future. Still, they were only one group of adventurers to travel the sea of time. Now a new group of heroes have their own challe...
The next five days were the longest of Flare's life. They had been given strict orders not to do anything but rest. Unfortunately, resting was the last thing on Flare's mind. The frustration of not being able to help Gina right away was starting to drive him mad; sitting around Refla's house with nothing to do was not helping matters any.
Refla had set out before either Flare or Tai had awoken on the first day, leaving a note outlining what he had set out to do. First he had gone to the orphanage to tell them that the boys would not be returning, and also to retrieve their personal belongings. His next stop had been to the town guard, so he could report Gina as a missing person. He of course had fabricated a story to keep it believable.
In Refla's version of the tale, Gina had been kidnapped by a giant of a man, someone who had been strong enough to beat the piss out of both Flare and Tai. Then the man had headed south to Porre with Gina in tow. Thanks to this story the townsfolk now considered Flare and Tai to be some sort of heroes, for the way they stood up to protect her.
This only made the two of them feel worse. They didn't feel like heroes, that was for certain. They felt like helpless children, and failures, that couldn't even save one of their closest friends. They knew that they were being harsh on themselves, after all, what unarmed man could take on a powerful sorcerer?
Taban had come to visit them every day after he had found out, but beside him they had few visitors. Flare was torn between wanting company and not wanting it. He felt too ashamed to face anyone, yet he was restless and bored out of his mind.
The following days droned on slowly and uneventfully, but on noon of the fifth day, Refla finally returned. He walked into the house with a large bag full of traveling supplies hung over his shoulder, and a long thin package in his other hand.
"How do the two of ye feel?" he asked as he dropped the bag of supplies to the ground and sat the long box on the table.
"Fine," Flare answered. "Still a little sore but otherwise I've healed up pretty well."
"And how about ye, Tai?" he asked his other student.
"Not bad I guess. Like Flare said, sore but otherwise okay," he said.
"Glad to hear it. I got yer swords right here boys. Ye'll both be pleased to know that they're absolute beauties. Both of 'em," Refla opened the long slender box, and produced two katana style swords still in their scabbards.
"This one is yer's and this one's yer's," he said tossing Flare one with a bright red pommel, and Tai one that had an ice blue pommel.
Flare drew the blade and studied it with awe. Refla hadn't been lying when he told them the swords were beautiful. It was without a doubt one of the finest weapons Flare had ever laid his eye's on. The pommel was bound with red dyed leather and the blade glimmered in the light.
He took a couple careful practice swings to get a feel for his new weapon, "The balance is perfect. I...I've never had a blade feel so natural in my hands."
Refla nodded smiling. "Melchior is a brilliant sword smith."
On the other side of the room Tai was also testing his new blade, "I agree with you Flare. These swords are simply amazing. This Melchior must be a true master of the craft."
"He is," said Refla, "And these two swords are among his finest works. Yer's is called Crimson Eon, Flare. And yer's, Tai, is Azure Wind."
"Crimson Eon...," echoed Flare, "...Eon...isn't an eon something that has to do with time? Like a measurement or something?"
Refla raised an eyebrow at the assessment. "I'm impressed ye recognize the word, Flare, but yeah it means something along those lines."
Flare shrugged. "I think I've heard Taban use it before, but considering our current situation. I think the name is quite appropriate."
"These are for the both of ye as well," Refla said as he rummaged through the large bag he had brought, "ah, here we go. Melchior forged this chain mail himself. It's mithril, so it'll be strong, but flexible so it won't hinder yer movement."
He handed them the chain mail and then the bag it had come out of. "I picked up some travel food as well. Jerky and the such, also there's water skins in there. Fill 'em up before ye leave. I'll give ye a little gold as well, but ye don't need to worry about bringing much of it. After all it might not be worth anything where you end up. I'd go with ye, but I think I'll look into some o' me connections. See if I can't find a way ter help ye. Pack yer things today, and finish restin' tonight. Ye'll leave in the mornin'."
The early morning air was cool and breezy as they left for the port that next morning. The wind whipped Flare's hair around in an unceremonious fashion. He wished that he still had his white bandana too keep it out of his eyes, but it had been missing ever since the encounter with Xavius.
Flare had thrown his travel tunic on over his clothes, and underneath it he wore the chain mail he had received. On his left side he wore his new sword, Crimson Eon, and on his right hung a crossbow that Taban had crafted. Besides sword play Flare excelled with the crossbow. If it wasn't for the time it took to load between shots he might have considered it for his primary weapon, but swords don't need to be reloaded, so they were still his top choice.
Tai was dressed in a similar fashion, but he had donned a hooded cloak instead of the tunic that Flare preferred. He too wore the chain mail under his clothing, and had his new sword, Azure Wind, on his side. Unlike Flare, he did not bring a crossbow. He was never very good with aiming one, so he had never had any interest in them, instead he wore a simple hunting knife on his right hip. The two of them both wore backpacks full of food and spare clothing.
Refla had purchased a small boat for them to use. They stood on the dock for a few moments in silence. Flare looked at Refla and said, "I don't know how to ever thank you. You've done so much for us, and not only in these last few days, but before them as well. Ever since you came into our lives you've done so much for us."
A warm smile played across Refla's face as he regarded the two boys. Then dropping all pretenses of his gruff manner, he wrapped Flare into a hug. Then he turned to Tai and hugged him as well. "The two of ye have been like son's to me, and I love ye as if ye were me own. Now I'll tell ye what ye can do to thank me. Ye can put all the things that I've taught ye to good use and save that girl o' yers. And while yer at it ye can send that bastard back to hell and give him this old man's regards."
Flare opened his mouth to say something but overcome with emotion he just nodded. "But firs' things firs'," Refla said after a moment. "In order to open that gods damned gate, yer gonna need this."
He reached down the front of his shirt pulling out a round blue gem that hung around his neck on a gold chain and handed it to Flare, "That's it. As long as ye have this with ye, ye can control the gates."
Flare stared down in disbelief at the necklace in his hand. "This is it? The old necklace that you've always worn is the key to time travel?"
Refla chuckled, "Aye, that it is."
"But how will we find the gate again. If we can't see it, how will we reopen it?" asked Tai.
"Don't worry 'bout that. Once ye've seen one gate something in yer head changes. If there's a gate ye'll see it. Ye'll also smell it and feel it in your blood, but I believe that its time for the two of ye to get a move on."
Flare put the necklace on and nodded his agreement, "Yes, its time, but there's something I'd like to know."
"And what might that be?" Refla asked.
"Where did you get the necklace from? I mean, time traveling gemstones aren't something that people happen upon every day you know," Flare said.
"Me own master gave it too me when I was about yer age. He never did explain where he found it himself," said Refla. Flare accepted the explanation with a nod, and climbed down into the boat, Tai followed. They started rowing and didn't look back.
Refla watched the boat until it faded from view. He let out a deep sigh. Things had changed, and they would never be the same, "I'd help the two of ye out if I could. Ye know I'd come with ye in a heartbeat, but this ain't me story anymore."
Refla walked back to his empty house. A house that would no longer be the training ground of two young men. He sighed again. Now it was his turn to wait, and like Flare patience had never been his strong suite.
The two friends reached Ratcleff Isle around mid morning. Even in the full light of day the small island seemed dark and unfriendly. It was as if life itself had been banished from the place. No birds flew anywhere near the island, and as far as they could see, there was no other animals making the island home.
Even the trees looked sickly, and the grass was parched and yellow. "This place is almost as cheery during the day as it is at night," Tai said sarcastically.
"C'mon, let's spend as little time on this island as we have to," said Flare.
They entered the ruined fortress through the same entrance they had used before, and made their way through the front hall into the back room. The insides of the fort choked most of the light from the air, but enough remained for them to recognize the place they had been several nights back.
"Hey Flare, there's your lucky bandana," Tai pointed out.
Sure enough Flare's white bandana was lying on the ground by the wall he had been slammed into. He picked it up and examined it briefly. There was a small splotch of blood on it from where he hit his head during the battle against Xavius. He shook a bit of the dust off and tied it back onto his head.
Tai walked to the center of the room and looked around. At first he didn't see anything, but then a slight flicker caught his eye. Floating in front of him was a small round orb. It was transparent and glowed with a faint blue light. How he hadn't seen it before was beyond him. Now that he could see it, he couldn't seem to unsee it.
"Its right here, Flare," he said with awe. "Here's the portal through time. The gate."
Flare walked over to Tai and he too saw the shimmering blue orb. He pulled the necklace off and held it out to the gate. The blue gem started to pulsate with light as it approached the floating blue orb. Then all at once the gate opened.
Just as it had done the time before, it swirled like a large floating whirlpool bathing the room with pale blue light.
"This is it," said Tai, "We're about to become genuine time travelers."
They leaped into the gate and instantly vanished within its spiraling depths. The gate held for a moment and then closed. The room was empty of all life once more.
*Author's Note: This is the end of Part I: Kidnapped. Hope you enjoyed it. There's plenty left to come, seeing as this is just the start of the journey. I estimate that the story will end up having five parts of roughly equal length, though it may very well end up being longer or shorter. We'll just have to see.