The kingdom of Guardia radiated in the sunset of the late autumn day. The fervent glow of the golden and ruby leaves of the trees in the Guardia forest gave everything a soft gentle look. Even the most sad of places.
Crono stood, hands in his pockets, admiring the beauty all around him. He took a long deep breath, letting the crisp air of fall fill his nostrils till he could almost taste it. He sighed. Shed loved days like this. He slowly placed his eyes on the lonely craved stone before him. On it he read what he had a hundred times-
984 ~ 1006
OUR THOUGHTS AND HEARTS
ARE WITH YOU FOREVER
He knelt down, letting his forearms rest on his knees. With one hand he traced the carved words on the tombstone and with the other he reached to the ground. He picked up a beautiful bouquet of flowers, Porre green dreams. Her favorite... he said softly. He gave them a quick smell and genteelly placed them on the gravesite.
Crono slipped a slight smile. Well Luc, here I am again. He looked around. Same time I am every year. This is usually the part where I say a little speech or tell you how much I miss you... He laughed out load. You always did listen to me... He sighed again. Well, I must say your little place looks great as ever. Good location and everything... Hey yeah, and your mom and dad wanted to be here to but your dad couldnt get away from work...heh, you know how your dad is.
Yeah well... I really miss you a lot Lucca, secially around this time of year. I can still remember how we used to run around on these autumn days, me, you, Kid, and... he trailed off for a moment. Marle wanted to be here too, but you know how it is, begin princess and all... little busy. The wind softly blew his jacket about.
But I mean, I still love her and everything... Crono said as if trying to defend himself. Just because things never really worked out between us... He smiled at his own words. But oh, I wish you could have met Amber. She so much like Marle...feisty, independent... shes turning into a beautiful young lady. You would have loved her.
Several leaves skittered by as the wind tossed his bright red hair, starting to show a hint of gray. A lots happened in the last 14 years, he continued. New advances in science and stuff, and the ferry between Truce and Median is finished and... Crono couldnt continue. He still felt the pain. The flames. The agony of finding her, his best friend, when...
Uh, I better be going now... he cleared his throat and quickly whipped an eye. I promised to spend the day with Amber. With that, the man stood and started down the hill. Oh and Lucca... He turned back to grave, and almost as an after thought said, Just know that.... you were always my best friend.
Finally feeling done, Crono slowly walked away and left Ashcroft Island.
* * *
Ever been to El Nido?
The young girl looked up at the man next to her. His jagged blond hair came out in bangs that almost covered his dark eyes. She sighed on the inside. He looks so much better with his helmet off, she thought. Finally she answered, No, but Ive seen a bunch of pictures.
He smiled and looked away, out the tower window. Oh.
Arrg, the girl mounded. She didnt want the conversation to stop! Itd been going so nicely. She quickly tried to pick it up again, so not to let the young Porre solider think she had no interest in him or she was just flat out boring.
Umm, so... Hey, whats it like?
The Porre solider looked back at her and smiled again. Oh, that is the cutest smile, the girl thought, trying not to squeal.
Its gorgeous, princess. he said simply. She hoped he might add on But not half as gorgeous as you but instead he went on. Its a tropical climate, so its got a perfect temperature all year round. Theres jungles, and waterfalls, its really a great place, the kind of quiet country life... nice place to get away to, you know?
Not really, the girl answered, looking at the floor. Im so used to the crowded settings of Truce and its even worse up in Porre, I dont know if I could stand it for long- she suddenly reliezed what shed said.
Oh, Im sorry, Im sorry Kessler, I didnt mean Porre was that bad! She stammered again, trying to cover her rudeness. He must hate me, she thought. Porres really very, nice, I love the city life with the machinery and, and stuff, and... if I could Id live in Porre, but I mean...
I hate Porre.
The girls eyes widened. Well, yeah me too! I only meant... oh Im sorry, I-
Princess, princess, Kessler placed a hand on her shoulder. I was only teasing, I love my country. But that doesnt mean you have too, just be true to Guardia, and please, I am only a lowly military solider. He kneeled and took her hand. You neednt try to impress me, your Highness, Princess Amber Guardia. He paused for a moment as the princess looked down at him. For I already am.
Uhh... Amber head spun as she searched for the right words. Did this guy actually like her? And after she acted like such a moron, and why was she so worried, she was the princess, and...
Thank... you. it finally came out. But please Kessler, just call me Amber.
And please, Kessler said as he stood up, call me Dominic. Thats my real name, Dominic Kessler... or just Dom if want.
Amber thought for a moment. Dom... what a nice name.
* * *
Just downstairs from the Guardia Castle tower, the Chancellor was talking to Princess Nadia, as he follow her up the long staircase. Hes always talking, she thought.
...the commission of the first party states that in order to proceed with the afore mentioned committees proposal a second non-negotiable committee must first take part in an official hearing to take place on the third Thursday of every other month, but not Leap Years-
Chancellor! Ok, ok! The Princess spun around to the old man following her up the tower stairs. All I want to know is could Crono have custody of Amber if anything happened to me? The Chancellor looked speechless.
And please, Im dumb, use small, easy to understand words, please? she added, sarcasm obvious.
Well, uhhh... he seemed to be struggling. Nadia rolled her eyes. We dont really have a law for that, you see, we uhh... he took a breath and continued. Weve never had a Princess divorce her chosen husband before...
Well you have for a while, Chancellor! she snapped. Youve had it for almost 14 years now!
The Chancellor looked embarrassed. Nadia turned and started up the long stairway again. The old man rushed to keep up with her. Im sorry my dear, but this is simply new territory we are dealing with. The executive board has acknowledged the question, but its been on the back burner for so long...
Nadia wasnt even listening. Her thoughts were far from the Chancellor or his committee or any of that political mumbo jumbo. Her thoughts were on Amber, her only child. What would see think of all this change? And how to tell her that her grandfather was... no, she pushed that out of her head. The top level was finally reach, and she quickly walked down the hallway the her old room, the Chancellor falling behind.
* * *
So how often do you get outside the castle?
Not nearly enough. Amber laughed. She was feeling so much better now. This sweet guy actually seemed to like her, and after what he said, Amber felt so comfortable around him. Last time I went out they were still cleaning up the Millennium Fair!
Did you go to that? Nah, that was what, 20 years ago? Or I dont know you could be that old... what are ya now, 30? 31? Dominic smirked.
Amber eyes grew, her mouthed dropped, and she screamed Why you! as she threw a pillow at Dominic. Im only 16, you dork!
Oh my bad, he said, putting his palms up in defense. Amber pelted him again. Ok now Amber- oof! Amber- Amber stop! Stop it!
But she kept coming after him, wailing on the solider with her pillow. And laughing the whole time, of course.
Oh, think thats funny? Youll love this-! Dominic threw his arms at her and began the worst form of torture he knew- tickling.
NO! No Dom! DOM! she fell onto the bed laughing. He followed her and continued his assault. The two of them gasped for air between laugher as they rolled around the bed, the floor, the rug or anything else, attacking each other.
It was a wonderful moment...
Until Amber saw her mother in the doorway, with a near faint Chancellor. Nadias expression was hard as nails.
Hee hee The two of them picked themselves up and tried to look innocent, as if nothing happened. It didnt work. Dominic readjusted his uniform and cleared his throat as Amber timidly approached her mother.
Ummm... how long, exactly, have you been there?
* * *
Crono slowly climbed the stairs to Guardia Castles main gate. He was glad he king had had a decent road put through the forest, making the trek from town a bit less eventful. Although ever since the peace treaty signed with Median, there hadnt been to many troublesome forest creatures anymore. Crono shook his head. He could never get used to not only remembering his own time line, but also the slightly new one that had evolved from his quest to save time.
He hardly ever thought of those days now. The End of Time, the Reptites, the battle on Zenan bridge, the Ocean Palace... Crono felt a slight chill of that memory. It all seemed like a dream now. He recalled the Nus in the Black Omen, that referred to life as a dream. Mabye this is what they meant. He was almost the gate now. He smiled at remembering Glenn as he hoped around the castle in his own time. But Glenn was dead now, wasnt he? So was Alya, and Magus,... and in a way even Robo. Hed dealt with that pain already... now if he could just quiet the memories.
His thoughts where cut off by a shrill voice. Halt!
Crono snapped back to the present and looked around. What, how, what? he thought. State your business boy! the voice said again.
Finally Crono looked down and saw an almost comically short guard standing between him and the castle doorway. The kid couldnt have been more than ten. Crono almost burst out laughing.
State your business or leave this premises at once! the kid repeated. He seemed serious and was wearing an official Guardian uniform, so he must be legit, Crono thought.
Yeah, hi, my name is Crono Arkson and Im here to see my-
Just let me run a little check here, the guard said, through his helmet. You dont see to many Guardian guards with helmets, Crono observed. He must be from Porre, or-
Ah yes, I believe I see that name here. The guard folded up the papers and returned them to his jacket. What business do you have here?
Well, Im here to see Princess Amber, Im her father, and its my weekend... Crono explained, wondering why this guy didnt already know this. Hed been doing it for years! Must be a newby.
Oh, suuuuure you are! The guard stepped once more between Crono and the door. I have to admit thats one I havent heard, but forget it Jack! Hit the road!
Crono couldnt believe his ears. Now wait a minute, sir, Ive had these visitation rights for nearly fourteen years now, and Im always here every-other week, ask anyone!
Oh, how do I know that you are really Crono Arkson, eh? For all you know, I could be Crono Arkson! You got any identification? The guard leaned his back on the door and waited.
Yes, I have identification! Angrily, Crono searched his jacket pockets, his pants pockets, his belt pouches... Uh, I mean no, I dont seem to have any on me.
Mmmmhm. the guard smirked.
Crono kicked himself for not grabbing his wallet before hed left the house. Well, how was he supposed to know theyd have some reject guard on duty today?
Listen mister, Im Crono Arkson, OK? You may have heard of me, I married the princess and saved the kingdom! Crono, you know? No response. Hello?!
Sure Ive heard of him. the guard said, calm as could be. But how do I know youre him? He had red hair. Youre looking a little gray, grandpa. he finished with a giggle.
This kid was getting on Cronos last nerve. Look, kid, I dont know who you think you are, but I came here to see my daughter, and if you dont-
Suddenly the door slid open, and Crono was relived to see the Chancellors wrinkled face poke out. Crono, my boy! Thank goodness youre here! Uh, we have a bit of a situation inside, and-
Im coming Chancellor, Crono said as he triumphantly walked past the bratty guard and followed the Chancellor into the royal palace. He still wondered how they let such young kid guard the main gate, and a punk of a kid too. Brat, he thought as he began the long claim upstairs.
The guard watched him from the open doorway.
Freak, he muttered, and slowly closed the door.
* * *
Mom, I can explain everything, if you just-
Explain what Amber? Why youre alone in your room with a foreign solider who is supposed to be here on business? And why youre rolling all over the floor with him, is that what you want to explain?! Marle was on the verge of screaming, as she seemed to tower over her daughter, who only looked at the floor.
But Marle was far from finished. She made eye contact with Dominic, who was still standing on the far side of the room. Lieutenant Kessler, you may return to your post, Marle spat out through her teeth.
Dominic quickly stood at attention, saluted, grabbed his helmet, and hurriedly left the room. He and Amber only had time for an embarrassed glance. On the way down, he almost ran into the Chancellor, who was pulling along an middle-aged man with graying red hair. The Chancellor was yelling something about how he knew this would happen or something.
Hoy boy, Dominic sighed. He put back on his helmet, readjusted his collar, and headed back down for the throne room. Wait til Commander Norris hears about this...
Back upstairs, Crono arrived just in time to hear Amber yell Mom, how could you do that? We werent doing anything, we were just talking, really!
Thats not what it looked like to me, young lady! Crono heard Marle say as he rounded the hallway corner and caught sight of her. I cant believe you would do this! Marle continued. After everything weve already discussed, and here you go behind my back-
No I didnt Mom, really! Amber interrupted.
- behind my back, Marle repeated, emphasizing every word, and have a fun little affair with our guest from Porre!
Do you know what this could do to our foreign relations, child? the Chancellor suddenly jumped in.
Oh, sor-ry! Amber mocked at the old man. She turned back to her mother. So what, I cant ever see anyone except the hometown boys? No one else is good enough!?
Dont you use that tone with me, Amber! Marle shot back before the words
were out of Ambers mouth. And you wont see anyone for a long time now!
Crono had been in the shadows this whole time watching. But when he heard them scream I never see anyone anyway! and Youre grounded! at the same time, he figured it was time to save the day.
Yes grounded. Crono quickly stepped into the room and Marle and Amber finally noticed him. Now sweetie, you know you shouldnt have boys with you alone up in your room.
But Dad, it was just for a few minutes, nothing happened!
Nothing happened?! Marle screamed. Crono put a hand on her shoulder. You call rolling around on floor like a couple of dogs in the heat nothing?!
Dogs in the heat?! Amber screamed, her eyes wide.
The Chancellor looked at Marle in disbelief. Your Highness!
Ok, ok, thats enough! Crono said, taking authority of the situation. Now Nadia, thats enough, ok, shes learned her lesson, shes grounded, alright? Marle calmed a bit. Crono put his arm around her and ushered them out of the room. Crono looked over his shoulder at his daughter. Now Amber, get your stuff ready, Ill be up for you in the few minutes, ok?
Whatever. she murmered. She pulled her red bangs behind her ear and sat on her bed. Crono closed the door and left the princess to herself.
* * *
It was a quiet night in Memoria forest. Amid the typical night sounds of crickets chirping, and owls hooting, there was also the gentle crackle of a fire. It sat in the midst of the ancient burnt ruins of the Memoria Cathedral. It was overgrown and hidden deep in the forest and few people ever found it, let alone knew it still existed.
Around the fire, a man stood, a bright white coat draped around him. His crystal eyes stared off into the fires flames, almost transfixed. A voice called out to him from a rotted away ledge held up by several reinforcing wooden beams.
Here he comes, Guleo! The voice belonged to an old dwarf of a man. He was at work at a giant mechanical telescope with huge pipes, wires, and crane connections running in and out of it. The dwarf hopped off his platform and ran for the door.
Thanks Fritz, Guleo called. As he turned to greet their expected guest, his pony tail whipped around over his shoulder. His long gray hair gave him an elderly gentlemen look at first glance, but a second look found him to be a very tall, handsome young man.
Fritz leapt into a huge confusing mess of levers and began to flip and kick at the controls. Slowly, to the deep grinding of chains and cogs, an ancient door, reinforced by steel and iron plates, was opened to let the night air in. And also a small Guardia guard.
He was instantly met by a women. Not friendly met, no. The women jumped him, threw him to the ground and knelt on his arms, rending him powerless. The women whipped off his helmet and grabbed his face in her hands. A faint smile spread across her lips.
Snow, would you get off me? Snow laughed and helped the child up. Her hair and features were as white and beautiful as her name implied. Man, do you have to do that ever time? the small kid whined.
Sorry. Snow smiled. Guleo came up behind her.
Well, Nip, whatd you find? Guleo asked as the guard slipped out of his disguise.
Not much, the little Nip said. So far.
So you still dont know where it is? Snow asked. Fritz clumsily ran up and tried to listen.
I didnt say that! They looked at him hopefully. I know where it is! Its in the castle somewhere... he added sheepishly. The other three groaned in response.
We need that shell, Nip... Guleo started.
Dont sweat it, Jack! Nip reassured. Ill get myself posted at a new spot tomorrow and see what I can find then. Feeling he said all he needed to, Nip walked over past Snow and toward the makeshift kitchen. So whats to eat...?
Snow rolled her eyes and looked at Guleo, who gave a confused look back. But Snows eyes said it all... Go talk to him!
Guleo sighed and followed Nip a few steps. Just be careful is all, kid. We want you to come back safe...
Fritz spoke up. We dont want you lost too, like Kid, he said in a thick gravelly voice.
Snow spun around to face Fritz. Shes not dead, Fritz! Shell come back any day now!
Yeah, Nip forgot the food and joined the others at the mention of his friend. We all know Kid, nothing got to her, shed give em heck before anything hurt her! Guleo nodded, wanting to believe it. Besides, Nip went on, its not like its easy to find a treasure like the Frozen Flame!
If it exist, Fritz reminded.
Guleo licked his lips and looked to the floor. I still believe Kids out there. He looked, to see the others looking to their leader for reassurance. He smiled. It takes more than a few setbacks to get the best of a member of the Radical Dreamers!
The things that are hardest to bear are sweetest to remember.