Chapter 30

Locke slumped to the floor. The manacles around his arms and legs had just plain disappeared.

He looked up.

Ghaleon and the other guy were really going at it. Locke almost had to do a double take at the sight of the Star Dragon Sword slashing at Ghaleon’s back. So that was where it had ended up.

He glanced to his side.

“Celes!” he shouted. She was lying on the dirt floor. And not moving.

He ran over and knelt next to her. He put his hand on her shoulder.

She opened her eyes. “Locke... ?”

“Are you okay?” he asked, thinking of what he was gonna do to Ghaleon if she wasn’t.

She nodded and smiled. “I’m all right. Just... stunned, that’s all.”

Locke pulled her up into his arms. He started to kiss her, but there was a loud clang behind him. He looked back. Ghaleon was laughing, which Locke figured for a bad sign. The other guy backed up a step.

“I have to help him,” Celes said.

Locke shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he was gonna say, but he sure couldn’t see that it wasn’t true, either. “No! Ghaleon’s too powerful. We don’t stand a chance against him.”

“Locke,” she said, taking his hands, “Do you really believe we will have a chance if Ghaleon wins?”

He nodded. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

“No, Locke. I must do it.” Celes picked up her sword.

“No way,” Locke said. “I’m not gonna let you do this alone.”

“You don’t even have a weapon,” she said, shaking her head. “Besides, there is something more important that you must do. The man fighting Ghaleon is generating that silver shield.” She pointed to the glowing shield that held up the ceiling of the other room. “It has to be a drain on his powers - please, Locke, get the woman and child out of there.”

Locke held her closer and kissed her. She was right. “You be careful,” he said.

“I will.” She pulled away. “I promise.”

Locke sprinted to the iron grating that held Ghaleon’s other prisoners. They still couldn’t see him - an illusion, he figured. Ghaleon was big on those. Locke felt along the grating. There had to be a gate somewhere.

He had to fight to keep from looking over his shoulder.

Celes knew what she was doing.

Right?

He gulped. He had to do this. Any advantage he could take away from Ghaleon was a big plus for Celes, and if that other guy could use this power, too, well... Well, Locke still didn’t know if they could beat Ghaleon, but they’d sure have a better shot at it.

There!

He couldn’t see the gate, but there was something there all right. It felt like a lock. “Time to live up to my name,” he muttered. He didn’t have any lock picks on him, not real ones. He dug into his pocket and pulled out the wire he kept there. Ghaleon hadn’t picked up on that, and it hadn’t gotten too messed up by the stuff Loke had been through.

As soon as he’d slid the wire into where he’d thought the lock was, it disappeared. Not a bad trick, he had to admit. But any treasure hunter worthy of the title knew better than to try and pick locks by sight - that was impossible. It was all feel, instinct, and just plain old luck.

Locke hoped the luck he’d been having wouldn’t hold.

He closed his eyes - it was hard to concentrate when his brain kept telling him there was no lock to pick.

Something was moving in the lock, all right. Ghaleon had hidden it, but he hadn’t bought a very good lock.

And then, it was open. Locke grinned and pulled it off. He still couldn’t see the gate, but he kicked at where he figured it had to be. It swung open.

He leaned inside. From this side, he couldn’t see out - he probably looked like he was coming right through the stone wall. “Come on!” he shouted. “I’m here to get you out.”

The woman didn’t look like she trusted him much. “Who are you, sir?” she asked. She had a real high-class accent - it reminded Locke of Edgar’s.

“I’m Locke Cole,” he said. He thought back to the taunts Ghaleon had been throwing at the other guy. “Your husband sent me here to rescue you - it’s kinda important that we go now, though, so no time for introductions.” No time to worry about telling nothing but the truth, either.

“Jowy sent you?” the woman asked, incredulous. But she looked down at the girl and said, “Come on, Pilika. This man is going to help us leave.”

“We have to walk through the wall, mama?” the girl asked.

“It will be all right,” she said, looking to Locke. Probably, she hoped he could tell her that was right. He hoped so, but it wasn’t the surest thing he’d ever heard, not with Ghaleon involved.

But he nodded. “Yeah, it’s fine. The wall’s not really here.” He held out his hand.

They ran over and he pulled them through.

Locke hoped they couldn’t hear his sigh of relief. There hadn’t been any other kind of magic keeping them in - the kind that would hurt, say.

His relief didn’t last long. Ghaleon stood over Celes and the other guy - Jowy, the woman had said. And Ghaleon looked a hell of a lot happier than Locke thought he had any right to.

Dammit!

There had to be something Locke could do! He was gonna let Ghaleon hurt Celes, even if it killed him. “Stay here,” he said to the woman and the girl. “Right here, no matter what.”

It was crazy to think he could stop Ghaleon, or even slow him down. He didn’t even have a weapon.

But he could sure as hell see one.

Maybe it wasn’t so crazy after all.

Locke ran along the edge of the room, around the fight in the middle. Ghaleon had said something about going home, and he’d brought along the tool to do it, too.

The relic weapon was sitting on a table, almost invisible in the shadows. Locke grabbed it and spun around.

It was time to pay Ghaleon back a little.