Hello! It's been a little while, but now I'm back with chapter 2 of Time Comes Around. Thank you to everyone who's favorited and followed the story so far, and thank you DragonHunter320 for reviewing. I'm glad you're all enjoying it.
Also, thanks to chaosphoenix123 for looking over the chapter for me. Go check out his stuff when you get the chance.
Since I last updated, I have changed the formatting for this story a little bit, showing the dates and times at the beginning of each chapter and/or major scene jumps or timeskips. The reasoning for this is pretty simple: since this is a time travel story, it's important to keep track of when certain events happen so there can be a consistent timeline(s). So I figure adding the dates and times to certain places will help both you and me keep track of all that.
The way it's set up, it shows Year, Month, Day, Military Hour, Minute, and Second. You may also notice a greek letter next to the Year, which will be explained next chapter.
With all that out of the way, here's the next chapter!
End of the End of the Beginning - Omega Convergence
x∞ ∞. ∞. ∞:∞:∞
When one thinks of destiny, what they're truly perceiving is the universal law of cause and effect.
You make choices based on prior outcomes. For every choice, there is a decision. For every decision, there is an action. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Then there is a new outcome, what you might call "consequences," the results that you humans always despise and want to change. In the face of these consequences, you make a new choice. And the cycle continues evermore.
"It's truly commendable that, even in the face of this, you humans would derive the concept of 'free will.'"
Romeo's eyes crept open. His head swayed and his body burned, power surging through his veins. It left him petrified in place, able to do little more than twitch his muscles and turn his head. He felt his own heartbeat pulsing to the rhythm of a clock, ticking away every second he was in this strange place.
The boy could guess what this sensation was. Time, in its purest form, flowing right through him, ready to bend to his will. He knew the energy was enough to send him to the year x784 as planned, but he started to wonder what other things this power could be used for. What other places he could go to, times he could visit, events he could change. Looking into the sun and moon on his hands, glowing brightly like the rest of his tattoos, he felt the whole world resting in his palms.
His breath quickened. Fingers twitching, he lifted his head back up, and a familiar figure entered his vision.
"Chelia?" he asked, his mind still swimming as he felt the whole world hurtling around him. He blinked, and his vision and mind focused back in. "Chelia?!"
The girl did not answer him. She stood still, almost statuesque, with her eyes obscured in shadow. Taking a second look, he didn't even believe her to be Chelia. The woman before him looked similar enough, but she was several years older than the Chelia he was accustomed to, to the point where he could almost mistake her for Sherry. But her trademark pigtails and guildmark on her thigh told him otherwise.
The fire mage tilted his head. "Chelia? Is that you?" he questioned, "Is this… the future?" Shaking his head, he immediately refuted the idea. "No. No, that can't be right!" He smacked his temples. "Zeref's formulas were definitely for traveling into the past. He didn't even bother with forward time travel.
"But if that's the case…" He put his fingers to his chin, taking a sideways glance at the mystery woman. "Who are you?"
But his eyes reached just beyond her, into the inky black void he now realized he was in.
Looking around, he only saw miles and miles of emptiness. The boy wasn't even sure he could describe it as being nothing, for the feeling of this realm felt like the absence of "being" entirely.
All that could be felt was the strange pulse below his feet. Daring a glance down, he saw a red mass of pulsating energy, beating like a heart.
"It's a star." He realized. "It's a collapsing star... About to become a black hole!" The discovery would've fascinated him had he not been standing far too close to it. His eyes were entrained on the dying star as its energy continued to radiate outward. Yet, for as massive and as unstable as it appeared to be, it didn't appear to change all that much. Moreover, he didn't appear to be falling into it, which was an even better revelation.
Letting out a sigh, his eyes returned to "Chelia." Only now, he realized that the two of them weren't alone. Others were floating in the void with them, all standing in a perfect circle in states similar to the woman beside him. None of them moved, none of them even breathed, and all of them had eyes hidden in darkness.
Several of them were familiar to him. The first figures he saw were his Natsu-nii, Lucy-nee, Wendy-nee, and Master Makarov! The sight of them made the boy's heart race. He nearly rushed over to them, but his own petrified state prevented him from doing so.
The boy let out a whimper, then a malcontent sigh. He shook his head. 'They're dead,' he reminded himself, 'This must all be an illusion of some kind.'
It was a bitter conclusion, but a seemingly accurate one, as the next person he laid eyes on looked like another Chelia just across from him.
Now he was certain this was a delusion of some kind. This second Chelia looked much more like the one he was used to; same age, same Academy uniform, same everything. But there was still something off about this one as well. Something about her demeanor that he couldn't quite recognize in his Chelia. It took him a moment, but he figured out what was wrong;
She was smiling.
His heart skipped a beat. It wasn't some fleeting smile, either; one that would appear only in momentary joy. It was that passionate smile she wore when she talked about love, or magic, or her guild, or her dreams, or anything or anyone she held close to her heart.
It had been some time since he'd seen that smile. He'd almost forgotten what it looked like. It had to have been… probably around the third time she tried to stop the Eclipse Gate project that he'd seen it last.
What felt like a hand clenched at his heart. He quickly pried his eyes away to see the other figures.
The rest were people he didn't quite know. Or at the very least, he wasn't personally familiar with. There was a burly, dark-skinned man in armor with a rather stern look on his face; a woman with short, golden hair and shadow of a dark, powerful humanoid figure behind her; and a stout, elderly gentleman that Romeo recognized to be the king.
What the latter one was doing here stuped Romeo, even if this whole ordeal was an illusion. As did the presence of the other two figures to a lesser extent. So he decided to move on from that for now since he still had two more to address.
The penultimate figure was yet another he didn't recognize, yet the sight of her made his heart rate quicken slightly and cheeks pinken. She was a young, fair-skinned girl around his age. Neck-length jade hair adorned her head like a crown. Her attire mainly consisted of casual clothing; a rather plain-looking skirt, some sneakers, a t-shirt, and a hoodie he himself would probably wear. Though the boy didn't know who she was, he couldn't help but feel that there was something important about her.
The final figure, rounding out the eleven—twelve counting himself—floating aimlessly through the void was… himself.
A younger version of himself, probably no older than six. He was the only one whose eyes were not hidden away, who wasn't standing completely still. Though he remained in a single spot, his eyes darted around everywhere, like he couldn't actually see where he was. He seemed to be saying something, but what it was, Romeo couldn't hear.
Romeo tilted his head. In a sudden, jerky motion, his younger copy did the same. He raised an eyebrow, and his younger self did that as well. Curiously, he looked down and saw a green thread of light emerging from his chest, connecting him to his doppelganger via their magic containers.
The boy snickered. Then that snicker grew into a chuckle. Then it became a full-on maniacal laugh.
It worked! He'd done it! Though the process was not yet complete, he'd connected himself to his past self! Using his very soul as a conduit, he'd found a means of sliding his consciousness through time!
He took another look at his hand. The skin had already melted from his flesh, and that flesh was quickly giving way to bone. His very form was being converted into energy, into that final push he needed to cross the temporal barrier into the past. He wanted to laugh, but that laughter quickly gave way to agony. But it wasn't like the pain he felt mattered, anyway. Once the process was complete, everything would fall into place.
However, despite the agony of his body being destroyed, he could still feel that something was… wrong. For looked at his hand again; sure enough, it was being converted into the magical energy needed to complete his voyage. But just as his skin, flesh, and bone vanished, it would return to him. Some force was preventing him from being completely destroyed, and therefore preventing him from possessing his younger form!
And he knew exactly—rather, who—was doing it.
"Dammit!" Romeo yelled, "Chelia! I demand you stop this at once!"
"Quite the controlling one, aren't you now?" a voice laughed, "She won't hear you."
The boy jumped at the sudden intrusion. The scenery around him had changed, and he now found himself standing upon the face of a clock, specifically over the twelve, with the hour hand pointing directly at him. Surrounding him were various images—various moments of his life, framed in mist to create a living collage. He saw moments from his past; his own birth, growing up, being with Fairy Tail, meeting Totomaru, meeting Chelia, and building the Eclipse Gate. But he also saw visions of his future, a timeline where his Gate fails, and he is stranded in his original timeline; him being incapacitated from the failed Gate, him graduating from the Academy, him becoming S-Class, him looking at Chelia in a white dress…
The boy shook his head at the thought. At this point in the process, the idea wasn't even worth entertaining. That timeline would never be! His plan will succeed!
Most of the illusory figures that had surrounded him had also vanished. The only one that remained was his younger self, standing opposite to him on the clock with the minute hand pointing directly at him. The younger copy's movements still mirrored that of his own, and the two were still connected by the thin string of light.
But balancing delicately atop that string of light, right above the clock's center, was something… else. A shadow of a humanoid form, with golden magic swirling around it from its right eye, which was the only distinct feature it seemed to possess aside from its wide, grinning mouth.
"It seems you've tampered with the natural order of things, Romeo Conbolt." Its voice sounded young but ancient, and containing great multitudes, as though it were overlaying the voices of everyone who has lived and will ever live.
Romeo took a step back, heart racing as the thread of light between him and his double grew taut. He felt the edge of the clock face, glancing back to see nothing but void.
The being snickered. "Careful, now," it said, playfully jumping on the line while still maintaining perfect balance, "You wouldn't want to be lost in the Ravines, would you?"
"'Ravines?'" Romeo repeated. His head moved from side to side, carefully analyzing his surroundings one more time. Eyes lighting up in epiphany, he slammed a fist into his open palm. "The Ravines of Time!
"I thought they were just a myth," the boy gushed, "An old Mildian legend explaining how their Time God could exist across all of time. But they're real!" His eyes lit up in excitement. This had to be among the greatest magical discoveries of the century, and he alone got to bear witness to it.
"So you're familiar with my home, then? For it is true that I can watch the entirety of time from this domain." The being cocked its head. Its wide, unceasing grin reflected the boy's face in its teeth. "But if you know that, then pray tell, might you know who I am?"
The boy's face hardened. He found himself glaring at the entity. "Of course. If these are truly the Ravines of Time, then you must be the guardian of time…" He glared. "Chronos."
"The one and many," Chronos laughed.
"And if I had to take a wild guess, I'd say you're here to stop me?" Romeo questioned.
"Time flows in but one direction. It is not up to me to stop its flow, only guide it." The being stepped closer toward the time traveler, never failing to keep itself suspended on the light string. "But I'm afraid the direction you're going in is quite dangerous.
"Heed my warning, child of man. If you succeed in your goal..." It stopped a foot away from the boy, bowing its head down suddenly to put its face mere inches from here. "You will only bring about more misery than you can ever imagine." It turned its head to the side.
Romeo followed its gaze back to the images of his past and future. He saw all of them being blotted out one by one, swallowed in a white mist. All of them vanished into nonexistence. The last one to go was a vision of Chelia and all his friends at Fairy Tail, smiling and laughing together.
"So what?" the boy retorted, looking back at the entity, "I already knew that I'd vanish if I completed this mission. Why would that stop me now?"
"Oh, child," it softly spoke, "You truly understand nothing.
"Allow me to return you to your time," Chronos continued, "Your Head leads you astray, but I know the Heart can return you to the path of light. Let yourself be redeemed of this sin, and all shall be forgiven."
Romeo chuckled. "No thanks. Not exactly the religious type."
The being frowned. It lifted its head away from Romeo. "Very well." Its hand outstretched. "Then be lost in the void of eternity."
A beam of golden light blasted out of Chronos's hand towards the boy. What remained of the teenager's body writhed in agony. He could feel his connection to his past self slipping away as the strand of light grew thinner; soon, his lifeline to the past would be gone completely, leaving him lost in time. The boy screamed out as his very being was undone.
But just as Chronos shot his destructive light, the healing force Romeo condemned earlier kicked into full blast. The boy could feel it combating the entity's magic and winning. He wondered if it was due to the god-killing properties of his partner's magic, but he didn't really have the time to dwell on the idea.
"Ha! You see?!" Romeo grinned, his body flickering as it slowly reassembled itself. "Even you can't stop me from saving my friends!"
Frowning, Chronos retracted his hand shooting magic. "Then all is lost."
The boy raised an eyebrow at that. Before he could even begin to question what that meant, a loud, thunderous CRACKing sound erupted through the Ravines. A wave of black winds came crashing down, washing away Cronos and shattering the clock face. The stream of light serving as Romeo's lifeline snapped, and he fell backward into darkness.
x784β 12. 16. 03:32:16
Waking up for real this time, Romeo found himself in a nearly unlit alleyway, tucked between two large brick buildings with some dumpsters right next to him. The only light sources he had were the light of the stars and the nearby streetlights.
He groaned as he tried to get up. His entire right side—the side he'd been laying on—ached like hell. Touching that side of his head near his eye, he could even feel a little blood leaking out.
"Damn, must've had a pretty shitty landing," he half-laughed, half coughed.
A frigid wind stung his skin. Glancing downwards, he realized his clothes, as well as anything else he'd previously had on his person, hadn't survived the trip. The thought didn't concern him too much, though. It appeared to still be nighttime, and looking around, he recognized the building with the dumpster by it to be the old thrift shop that used to be a few blocks from his father's house. With any luck, he'd be able to fish some old pants out of their trash and use them for the time being.
Romeo stepped towards the dumpster, about to do just that, when he froze.
He looked over his body once again. Much of his skin had been covered in large, pink blotches. At first, he mistook them for burns, but taking a closer look and stepping more into the light, he realized it was more like the top layers of his skin had been completely stripped away. Or rather, his skin in those areas had failed to grow back completely.
Luckily, aside from his eye injury, all of his wounds appeared to only be skin-deep. He felt no internal pain (in fact, much of his insides felt better than what they did when he leaped through the Gate), and miraculously, his tattoos had somehow survived the process.
But there was a much more pressing matter at hand.
"Why am I me?!" he yelled, pacing around the alley and not giving a damn if anyone heard, "This isn't how this was supposed to go!" He gripped the sides of his head, an act that told him a good amount of his hair didn't survive the trip, either. "I'm supposed to be in my younger body! I was supposed to take control of it when I made it… to the… past…"
The boy perked his head up. For in all his confusion and frustration, he failed to register one simple, very important fact;
It was freezing out.
It had been summer when he entered the Eclipse Gate, but now, it had to be below thirty at least. He was protected from the cold somewhat due to having a Fire Mage's naturally high body temperature (though not as protected as he figured he'd be. Something he may have to look into later), which he was thankful for, given his lack of attire. But if it was this cold, that could only mean one thing:
It was winter.
He, Romeo Conbolt, at the age of thirteen and one month, had successfully traveled back in time.
Romeo has successfully gone back in time! He's naked, in the completely wrong time and place, and without most of his magic power, but he's a time traveler!
Now, I do understand that Romeo's whole plan with his time travel operation may be a bit confusing, but I do plan on elaborating it more in the next chapter.
And of course, can't leave out Chronos and the Ravines of Time! What did Chronos want? What was he trying to stop? And who were the people Romeo saw in the Ravines? More answers to come as the story continues!
Thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed this chapter of Time Comes Around. If you did, then please be sure to follow, favorite, and review!