Ill Tides Chapter 2
By Average Joe
Crono, Marle, and Lucca trudged through Guardia Forest, exhausted from their long walk back from their most recent camping excursion. They took the trip shortly after the Millenial Fair had concluded, in order to discuss their journeys through time, and what to do with the time machine, Epoch. Marle wanted to have it destroyed, saying that it was not healthy to be mucking about in time. Lucca wanted to dismantle it to find out how it worked. Crono wanted to keep it because he enjoyed driving it. No consensus was reached, so they decided to just keep it hidden at Lucca's for the moment.
Crono suddenly had a problem with that idea as he set down his large pack on the ground and stretched. "Y'know, it'd be a lot easier to get from place to place if we still used the Epoch. And we wouldn't have to lug these heavy things around." He kicked his backpack, knocking it over.
Marle and Lucca giggled, removing their miniscule packs. Lucca walked right up to him, looked up into his face, and pushed on his forehead with two of her fingers. "We can carry some of our stuff, too. We've told you that several times already." She used those same two fingers to slide her glasses back up the ridge of her nose.
Marle giggled again and leaned up against Crono. "I dunno, Lucca," she sighed as she looked into Crono's eyes. "I think it's kinda chivalrous." Crono blushed and chuckled nervously, placing a hand behind his head.
"Blech. Chivalrous-shmivalrous. He's just trying to be macho, as always." Lucca winked at Crono. "Aren't ya, Crono? Showing off to us girls," she made a dainty, girlish pose, "proving how big and strong and muscular you are...?"
Crono blushed even more. "Aw, cut it out, Lucca." He shrugged, grinning. "So you've caught on to my little scheme. Big deal. I've got others."
"Crono!" Marle punched him in the shoulder.
"Wha--" Crono's attention was diverted from Marle as he spotted some movement off in the distance. "Hey. Looks like they're sending a big ol' legion of guards to pick you up, princess." Crono pointed up at the long path leading to Guardia Castle, where roughly one dozen guards were marching in their direction.
"So they've found out I've snuck out again," she sighed. "Oh well. Shouldn't be too bad, this time. 'Cause I've got you guys here to back me up, right?" Marle turned around, spotting Lucca heading off back into the forest and Crono hefting his pack, trying to do the same. "He-e-ey! You guys!"
"Uh, I-I've got laundry to do," Lucca shouted. "I-I need to get home, to do my...laundry, yeah. See ya, Marle." Lucca dashed off on the forest path.
"And you, Crono?" She moved closer, giving him the big eyes routine that always made him melt.
Crono's shoulders heaved and sagged, and he bowed his head. "Alright. I guess I'm staying."
"Good. At least I won't get into trouble by myself." Crono made a noise that could best be described as simply an exclamation point as he watched Marle pick up her dropped pack and strode off to meet the guards.
The air was filled with tension as King Guardia strolled into the room. Princess Nadia, known as "Marle" to her friends, stood proudly, while Crono nervously wrung his hands and shuffled his feet. The king's robes billowed as he thrust out his chest at his disobedient daughter.
"I thought we had seen the last of your--shall we say... inappropriate behavior."
Princess Nadia said nothing.
"We've discussed this, Nadia; no more running off, especially without guards."
"B-but sir, sh-she..." Crono interjected.
"And you..." The king strutted up to Crono, and though he was a couple of inches shorter, with all of his regal bearing he towered over his daughter's significant other. "You permitted this? Shall I dare say even encouraged it? You..." he waggled a finger at Crono.
Marle, Nadia to her father, lowered her father's hand with her own. "Daddy, it's alright. Crono was there--"
King Guardia huffed and glared at Crono, thinking to himself, "He would be..."
"--and Lucca, too. I was fine. No need to worry. We got back okay, didn't we?"
"Well, yes, but--"
"No buts, daddy," she smirked, mimicking her father's tone. "We're fine, and that's that."
"I suppose you are," he sighed in defeat. "Nevertheless, you still have obligations to fulfill here at the castle. For example," he said, sweeping back towards his throne, "we have a scroll, centuries old, that is to be read by the firstborn of the king exactly one week after the conclusion of the Millenial Fair." He took his seat in his throne. "Such was instructed by another, open scroll accompanying it." The king gestured to an attendant at the far end of the room who approached him while he glared at his daughter, saying, "And as you very well know, exactly one week would have been yesterday."
Nadia blushed and smiled sheepishly as the attendant handed her father the scrolls.
The king held up the open scroll and began to read. "'To whomever holds the throne in the year one thousand,'" he read, "'it is of utmost importance that the accompanying scroll be given to the firstborn of the king precisely one week after the conclusion of the celebration of the founding of our kingdom. It is so commanded.' It is signed by King Guardia the twenty-first and Queen Leene. There is a third signature, but time has worn it away." He swept his hand from the attendant to Nadia, and the attendant quickly marched over and handed her the scroll. "I would have suggested that you read it at your leisure, but--"
"--I'm a little late for that, yeah," she said, breaking the wax seal and unrolling the aging paper. She read a few lines of flowery script and exclaimed, "It's from Glenn!"
Crono, peeking over her shoulder, asked, "Glenn? What does he have to say?"
"Nothing good. Apparently some guy named Gerard is responsible for destroying Dorino back in 600. And--" she traced her finger over a line, "--it looks like he's going to strike again. He couldn't beat him... needs our help..." Marle grabbed Crono by the arm and ran out the door, dragging him behind her. "We have to go!" The king shouted for the guards to stop them, but the pair were out of the door long before the guards could catch them.
"Lucca!" Marle yelled, banging on the door. "Hey, Lucca, we got a note from Glenn! Come on out, Lu--" The door swung open abruptly, and Marle's fist narrowly avoided colliding with Lucca's face. "--cca..."
Lucca's hands and face were covered in black grease, as was her clothing. A screwdriver was in her mouth, a pencil behind her ear, and a large wrench was in one hand. The look on her face was a mixture of slight annoyance, surprise, and guilt. She opened her mouth to speak, dropping the screwdriver into her waiting hand. "Uh, heh-heh, hey you two, what's going on?"
"We got a note from Glenn... Say, Lucca, you've got some stuff on your face... and your hands... and your clothes... You sure you don't want to clean yourself up before you hear this?"
Lucca beckoned Crono and Marle inside and set her wrench and screwdriver down on the table, trading them for a greasy rag. She wiped herself off as best as she could, but the rag did more to smear the grease than remove it. "S-so... what brings you guys here?"
"I already told you," Marle sighed, exasperated. "We got a note from Glenn."
"So you did." Lucca adjusted her glasses nervously. "Well, what's it say?"
"Glenn says he lost a fight to some guy named Gerard, and he destroyed Dorino, and he's going to attack the cathedral, and--"
There was a beeping noise as a curious Crono started meddling with a discarded invention in a corner, and Lucca leapt up to turn the machine off. It was just at that moment that her grease-stained father Taban opened the back door, carrying in a sheet of metal with the letters E, P, and half of an O on it. "Say, Lucca what do you want done wi--Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know you had guests. I'll just get back to work. Hi Crono, Marle." Taban waved and shut the door behind him, leaving a dumbstruck Crono, a speechless Marle, and a very guilty Lucca.
"Lucca!" Crono and Marle shouted in unison.
"Uh, it-it was my dad's idea?" Lucca tried to put on her most innocent expression, but she still exuded guilt. "S-sorry?"
"How could you--" Marle began to say when Crono stepped in front of her.
"How long'll it take to put back together?" Crono, having known Lucca since very early childhood, knew exactly what to say in instances like this.
"I can have it all put back together by tonight, guys, I promise." She leaned forward, clasping her hands together in earnesty, pleading for forgiveness.
"Okay. We'll gather our things and say our goodbyes, and we'll see you in the morning." Crono led Marle out the door, where she decided to have a few choice words with him.
"She took the Epoch apart already, Crono!" she wailed.
"Yeah, she did. And she'll have it put back together by tomorrow morning."
"But--we didn't decide on what to do with it..."
"And we also neglected to gather anything we might need and tell our folks goodbye. It all works out." He clapped his hand on her shoulder. "C'mon, we should probably get moving. We'll stop by my place first."
"Okay," she sighed, defeated by Crono's logic.
It was mid-afternoon by the time they strolled into Crono's house. Marle flopped down on the couch just inside the door and pulled off her sandals, rubbing her aching feet. Crono said a brief "Hi mom!" before rushing upstairs to gather his travel essentials. Crono's mother sat down next to Marle and offered her a sandwich.
"Thanks, Miss--" Marle started, chomping down a corner of the sandwich.
"Mom'll be fine," she smiled, getting back up to fill a glass of water for Marle. "I've told you before, all of Crono's other friends call me that. I've even been able to get that little green guy to call me mom. And if I can get him to call me mom, Marle, I think you can do the same."
"Okay, thanks, m-mom." She still felt awkward calling her that.
Crono's mom handed her a glass of cold water. "Although I haven't been seeing much of them, lately. Why doesn't he bring them over to visit anymore?"
Marle shook her head, still somewhat perplexed by the fact that Crono's mother had the uncanny ability to ignore how downright bizarre the collection of friends Crono had was. Two seemingly normal girls, a little frog man, a robot that somewhat resembled a yellow kettle, a woman nearly dressed in animal skins, and a frighteningly pale man with blue hair and pointy ears; shouldn't that be at least slightly odd to anyone?
"We haven't been time traveling recently," Marle said, taking a sip from her glass and slowing down on her sandwich.
"Oh, that must be it."
"Mi--mom, don't you think it a little unusual--?"
"That my boy's running in and out of the house with this odd group of people?" Crono's mom shook her head. "No. My mother always told me that when I have kids, they'd be hanging around with a bunch of people that might seem strange to me. She always said that my friends were strange to her, and that my kids' friends would be even stranger." She stared at the wall wide-eyed for a moment. "I just had no idea how strange they would be."
Crono's footsteps were heard clomping down the stairs, and Crono's mom stood up. Marle finished off the last bite of her sandwich, gulped down the rest of her water, and set the dishes in the sink.
"Gotta go, mom," Crono rushed, giving her a brief embrace and a peck on the cheek. "We should be back later."
Marle looked like she was about to say something when Crono's mom replied. "Won't you have a quick bite to eat, Crono? I have a sandwich ready for you."
"I'll have to grab it and run. We've got to sneak into the castle and sneak back out without being seen, and Marle's gotta say bye to her dad, which makes it a little harder."
"Oh, okay. But you'll be back tonight, right?"
"Yeah, so have the couch ready for me. Marle'll be staying in my room."
"Uh, h-hey, uh..." Marle was at a complete loss for words, so Crono grabbed his sandwich and dashed out the door, pulling Marle along with him.
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