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 trip through the gate was unlike anything either of the two had ever experienced. They were flown at high speeds through a long blue tunnel that looked as if it were made from pure light. The tunnel twisted and turned in gut wrenching fashion. Then suddenly it slowed, and the end of the tunnel opened. The gate spat them out, hummed for a few more seconds, and closed behind them.
"I am...sooo...dizzy," mumbled Tai.
"I think I'm gonna-uuhhrrrggg," Flare's voice cut out as he vomited over the table's side.
Tai realized that the two of them were sitting on a large rectangular wooden table. The room around them was made from stone, but unlike the room they had come from, the stone was not cracked or crumbling, and fancy tapestries still hung from the walls.
The walls themselves were smeared with old dry blood, and littering the floor were the corpses of dozens of combatants. Some looked to be human, but others were obviously mystic. They were strewn about in exaggerated death posses, and in the areas where the heavier fighting must have taken place the decaying bodies were stacked several layers deep. There were even bodies lying on top of the table.
"Dear god!" Flare exclaimed when he discovered one such body laying right beside him.
"Where the hell are we?" asked Tai as he gazed around the grotesque scene.
"We must still be in Fort Ratcleff only in the past," Flare reasoned. "This battle couldn't have taken place more than a few weeks ago. Look, there's still flesh on the rotting corpses."
"Let's get out of here. This place is even creepier now than it was in our time," Tai said.
They slipped off the table and made their way to the door, carefully stepping around the dead. The wooden door had been shattered and the bodies were piled thickly around it. In the hallway the corpses thinned out but were still present.
"I'll never get this stench out of my nose," complained Flare.
"Shhhhh! Do you hear something?" Tai stopped them suddenly halfway between the gate room and the front entrance.
They stood straining there ears in the silence. "I don't hear any th-," Flare started.
"Shhh!" Tai hushed him.
After waiting a few more moments Flare started to hear it too. The noise was low and watery. It sounded like raspy wet breathing. The walls echoed with the noise that seemed to come from everywhere at once. It was getting louder too. Before long the hallway was rumbling with the disturbing sound.
"Let's go. Now," said Flare.
As Flare took another step forward his leg was suddenly seized by a rotting slime covered hand. He yelled in surprise and kicked the nasty thing away, but all around them the other bodies started to rise.
"This can't be happening," said a shocked and frightened Tai.
The corpse that had first grabbed Flare was now standing, and it made another sudden lung at him. With lighting quick reflexes born from training Flare drew Crimson Eon, and slashed at the zombie, whose head went flying off its shoulders.
It stumbled backwards then fell to the ground with a thud, but other zombies all around them started closing in. Flare struck another one, and another, as they pounced for him. Tai too had drawn his blade and was attacking any zombie that got within his range.
"This is crazy!" Flare announced loudly.
"Tell me about it," Tai said as he decapitated another undead opponent.
As they struck down the few zombies in the hallway a much larger group began pouring out of the room they had arrived in. These zombies carried with them the weapons that they had wielded in life, and were comprised of both human and mystic. In death they had put aside their differences and risen against a common foe: intruders of their resting place. An even greater number of undead warriors approached from the opposite direction.
"We're surrounded! And we can't take all of them!" shouted Tai.
"Dammit!" swore Flare. "The exit's blocked. We'll have to find another way out."
They retreated down a side passage that lead into another hallway full of zombies. Taking out whatever ones got in their path, they continued down various passages searching for a clear way out. Unfortunately, none presented themselves and the two came to a halt.
"Dead end," Flare said disappointedly.
Behind them the zombies continued to follow. A great wave of undead warriors surged from the way Flare and Tai had come from. The only way they had out was up a staircase.
"We have to go up," Flare decided. "Otherwise we're zombie bait."
"Think that they'll actually eat us?" Tai wondered.
"Don't know and don't want to find out," answered Flare who headed up the stairway.
The next floor was worse if anything. The two found themselves fighting for every inch of ground as they moved from room to room. One zombie mystic had nearly lopped Flare's head off with a great battle axe. Leaping nimbly to the side he regained his footing, before returning the favor by cutting the monster cleanly in two.
Several undead imps fell to pieces moments after they decided to rush Tai. More still fell to the hands of Flare who rampaged through a cluster of zombies. "Barricade the doorway!" he yelled as the last zombie imp slumped to the floor.
Tai ran up to the door they had come through slamming it shut. Flare quickly shoved an overthrown table in front of it. They ran around the room grabbing everything they could find to throw in front of the table. Eventually, they even piled up the headless corpses of defeated zombies in front of the makeshift blockade.
They could soon hear the sounds of their zombie pursuers beating on the sealed doorway. "It won't hold forever, but we've got more pressing problems." Flare pointed to the other door where a fresh batch of undead warriors had appeared.
The first zombie was human, but unlike the other dead soldiers he wore gold plated armor giving him the look of high importance. In life he might have even been in charge of the doomed fort. Behind him were two other human zombies who were dressed in standard armor, and coming through the doorway behind all of these, were half a dozen battle axe totting mystic henches.
Both Flare and Tai dropped their packs to the ground, knowing that they'd need all of their agility in the coming battle. "I don't suppose we can convince you guys to surrender now?" Flare asked humorlessly.
In response the zombie in the golden armor raised his sword above his rotting head and let out an earsplitting howl. Flare shuddered in spite of himself. "Guess not," he said.
The zombies charged recklessly at the two companions, howling and slashing. Flare parried the first few blows from one of the zombie humans but took a glancing blow from a battle axe wielding grunt. The axe struck his shoulder and sent him spinning to the ground. Seizing the opportunity the first zombie stabbed its blade at Flare's unprotected throat.
At the last second the zombie's sword flew to the side as Tai's katana knocked it away. Tai followed through with an upward slash that took the zombie's sword arm at the elbow. It stumbled backwards then made a desperate grab for the weapon with its remaining hand. Tai took the opening and severed the one armed zombie's head.
Flare had already regained his feet and taken on two of the undead mystics. The henches were powerful, one well placed hit could cut a man in two, but Flare had a great advantage over them in his speed and agility. Dodging their strikes with ease he waited for the perfect moment before striking back. When one of them made a lunge in his direction he worked his way in between the two. Flare kicked out behind him and felt his foot hit the back of the mystic's knee, causing the undead brute to collapse. Simultaneously he sliced the other grunts head off. Turning back around, he brought his sword down upon the fallen mystic's neck.
No sooner had Flare finished off his two opponents when another pair took their place. He could see that Tai was now surrounded by the remaining three zombies, so he knew that he had no time to play it safe. He feigned to the left with a quick jab but quickly reversed his motion and shoulder rammed the other zombie mystic. This allowed the first monster enough time to bring his axe up but not enough to bring it down. Flare on the other hand had plenty of time to severe both of its rotting arms with one arching sweep of his sword.
Turning his attention back to the zombie he had rammed, Flare overwhelmed it with a series of lightning fast jabs. Then he aimed a lethal blow to the creature's throat; when the undead fighter brought his arm up to block, Flare stopped the strike in mid swing and reversed it completely. His blade came back around from the other side too fast for the lumbering beast to react.
Tai was fighting furiously against three opponents at once. The last two mystic henches struck at him from both sides, while the human zombie took him head on. Tai parried every blow that they sent his way, and returned with his own swings aimed for their neck and head area. He made these swings as wide as possible, so the zombies would instinctively fall back giving him room to breath.
Flare grabbed the crossbow from his side and loaded a bolt. He took aim for just a second and then pulled the trigger. The bolt flew forth with a satisfying twang and struck the human zombie in the back of its neck, in between its helmet and breast plate.
The zombie stopped attacking and grabbed at the bolt. Tai seized the chance and sprung forward. His sword cut easily through the decaying flesh and the zombies head toppled off its rotting shoulders. Reloading as quickly as he could Flare sent his next bolt at the hench to Tai's right. It struck the beast square in the face. Tai finished the job with another well placed slash.
The last zombie continued its attack without hesitating in the slightest. Tai kept it occupied as Flare snuck around its backside. Tai let loose with a series of thrust attacks; as the zombie worked to parry these, Flare claimed its head.
The pair panted slightly after the excursion of energy and turned to face their only remaining foe. The gold clad zombie had watched from the sidelines as its minions had fought the pair.
"Are you going to try your luck with us, or just stand there all day and rot?" Flare taunted.
The gold clad zombie made no move for them, but instead sheathed its sword and left the room from the doorway it had entered.
"Think we scared it away?" asked Tai hopefully.
"I don't know, but somehow I doubt it," answered Flare. "I don't think those things can be scared."
After the noise from the battle had faded, the room was silent again. Even the zombies that had been trying to knock down the barricaded door had stopped. The only sound was the low wet breathing noise that echoed eerily through the room.
"It's getting louder," Tai remarked darkly.
"I know," Flare responded.
"It's coming from in there," Tai stated this as fact and not a question.
Flare nodded gravely, "We can't head back. There's no way in hell that we'd have a chance against those numbers."
"But what kind of chance do you think we stand against whatever's making that noise?" asked Tai.
Flare thought for a moment and then shrugged as a reckless smile formed on his face. "There's only one way to find out. Besides, after the welcome we just received, we need to repay the owner for his 'hospitality'."
Tai nodded his agreement. After all, what other choice did they have? Flare nocked another bolt in his crossbow. With it in one hand, and the Crimson Eon in the other he walked through the door toward the ominous noise. Tai braced himself for the coming confrontation and followed.