Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 32
The Final Days
The night passed quickly with no worries or doubts like the previous one. By sunrise we were on our way to the shrine, each of us toting a backpack filled with supplies wed need along the way, including the multicolored rocks we used in some of our attacks. By sunset we had reached Zenan Bridge. I had forgotten how beautiful the sunset was over that bridge. The sun touched the water, shimmering and sparkling on the surface, reflecting dazzling reds and stunning purples. The water sparkled as if covered by multi-faceted diamonds and crystals, each reflecting a different color at a different time. At a certain angle, where the suns glare didnt reflect as much, the blue of the water clashed and fought with the red of the sunset, dazzling our eyes beyond compare. The sun was halfway down now, but its light still reflected as brightly as ever. But this time, it cast odd shadows on the waves of the water, further accenting the sparkling surface.
"I never knew a sunset could look so good," Cid mused. He breathed deeply, then continued.
"This is why weve got to stop Ibleess: so that we can continue to see scenes like these."
Lucca nodded and moved closer to him. He put his arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. I smiled inwardly, thanking everything I knew that Lucca had found someone. I felt Marles arm slide around my waist and her head move closer to mine. My inner smile broadened as I slid my arm around her waist and held her closer. Would I be able to do this again? Would I ever feel Marle in my arms again? She meant so much to me, and the thought of losing her was more than I could bear.
"Sunsets. I cant remember when the last one I saw was." Maguss tone was softer than his normal commanding voice. His demeanor changed suddenly, as if he had not said anything earlier. "Hmph. To me, theyre just a trick of the light and nothing more."
"Magus, does anything have any value to you? You cant be the heartless person you seem to be."
"Things once meant something to me. Once. But too much pain and too many years without them have taught me I dont need them."
"Magus, youre a moron. Do you know the last time we could see a sunset without fearing for our lives was? Long before I was born, thats when. Just seeing this one reminds me of how much Zeal destroyed my planet and my life. This sunset any sunset is enough to make anyone fight to see it again," Ecin roared. The red-haired kid spun on his heels and turned to face Magus. Although a good foot and a half shorter than the magician, Ecin seemed to stare Magus right in the eye.
"Dont play with fire, kid. You dont know the half of what Ive been through. And you dont know half of what I can do to you."
"Magus, please calm down. Thats all behind you now," Schala pleaded. Magus ignored her and continued to glare at Ecin.
"Just because youve had a bad life doesnt mean someone hasnt had worse. In fact, it doesnt mean that you have to be so cruel. What could have happened to you to make you this way?" Ecin shouted.
"Calm down, both of you! Were all tired and we need some sleep, so " I began to say, but Magus cut me off.
"So you want to know what happened? Ill tell you. Lavos and Ibleess happened. Lavos took my mother, my father, and my sister away from me. He destroyed my home and polluted my planet. I owe him. Ive survived the void to get even, and if I have to die to do it, then I will. Until then, nothing has any meaning," Magus said with great restraint. His normally placid face was tensing up slightly, although an untrained observer would never notice.
"Magus Im sorry. Lavos destroyed my home too," Ecin whimpered. Magus grunted, then walked to the other side of the bridge. Schala followed him and began talking quietly but sternly.
"Ecin, you shouldnt have done that. You " Cid began to say. Ecin spun on his heels and nearly punched Cid in the stomach. Cid managed to grab the kids fist before the punch landed.
"Urg! Dont tell me what to do!" he exploded.
"Quit whining you sissy!" Kain growled. Ecin turned to face him slowly, his face contorted with rage, tears welling in his eyes.
"Shut up! Shut UP!" Ecin screamed and launched himself at Kain. Kain tried to dodge but failed miserably, ending up pinned awkwardly under Ecin. But before Ecin could do anything else, Cid and I picked him up and pinned him against the guardrail.
"Ok Ecin, whats wrong?" I asked. The kid was weeping openly now.
"Not so tough now, are you?" Kain jeered. "You act strong, but youre really weak. Youre just a sissy."
"Kain, shut up! This isnt the time!" Cid spat. Kain merely grunted and continued.
"Youre a weenie. You cant even " Kain began, but was cut short when a fist smashed him across the face.
"Kain! You ought to know better than to poke fun at someone younger than you are! Now act your age, and if you insult him one more time, Ill beat your face in," Lucca threatened as she straightened herself. Kain began to open his mouth, but a twitch of Luccas arm convinced him otherwise. By this time, Ecin stopped crying.
"Ok Ecin, whats wrong?" I repeated.
"I I I dont want to I dont want to die," Ecin managed to say between gulps of air.
"So thats it," Cid mused. "Well, youre not going to die. Its that simple."
"But were going against Ibleess! Were going against someone who destroyed planets!"
"And thats why were going to win! He destroyed our planet. We owe him one. And were going to pay him back in full," Cid said.
"But but what if I die?" Ecin blubbered.
"You wont. Ill make sure of that. I promise."
Ecin slumped against the rail, his eyes tearing up again. Cid and I let him go.
"Ok then. Sorry I blew up. I guess Im kinda scared."
"We all are. We wouldnt be human unless we werent."
"If you say so. Im sorry, Kain."
Kain merely grumbled.
"Ok everyone. Weve got another half-day before we get to the shrine. Lets get some sleep." No one disagreed.
* * *
That night, I remembered my feelings when I was going to fight Lavos. I was absolutely terrified. Fear had no meaning to me until then. And then I dreamt that I died at its hands. I dreamt of what would have happened, and then suddenly, it was Ecin instead of me. The kid reminded me slightly of myself five years ago. If he died .
I woke up before my dream finished.
Sunrise the next day was just as beautiful as the sunset. I was the only one awake, staring at the sun as if it were my last day on the face of the planet. After a few minutes of solitude, I felt a presence next to me, and I turned to see who it was. Marles blue eyes, smiling face, and golden hair all glowed with the suns rays, casting an odd nimbus around her. She nestled up against my side, staring at the now almost-unbearable sunrise.
"I know what youre thinking," she whispered softly into my ear.
"Oh really? Its a good thing one of us knows. Tell me, what am I thinking?" I whispered back, only half in jest.
"Youre thinking that we wont be able to defeat Ibleess."
"You know me that well, huh?" I smiled.
"Better. Wanna talk about it?" she offered. I nodded slowly, then turned to face her, the sun too bright to look at now.
"I dont know what the problem is. Theres something about Ibleess that makes me wonder if we even have a chance. At first, I thought it was being cautious, that I didnt want to feel too cocky. But now, I dont know. The more I try to find its root, the more it slips away from me like a bar of wet soap."
Marle put her arms around my waist and squeezed hard. The hug felt amazingly good, as if all my tension had been squeezed out of me like water out of a sponge.
"Thanks. I feel better now," I told her.
"Theres more," she said matter-of-factly.
"Is there?" I replied coyly. I felt playful after that hug.
"Yes there is. Now spill it."
"Ok. Ecin reminds me of myself. I felt the same way when I, we, were fighting Lavos. I survived, but what if he doesnt? Itll be almost as if I died."
"All right. One, he and you are completely different, even with the age difference. I remember. You werent arrogant and cocky. You were gallant, doing everything because it had to be done, not because you were going to be reimbursed. You had only goodwill towards everyone. I remember you well."
I relaxed a bit more.
"Dont think Im letting you get off that easily. Now spill everything before I sqeeze it out of you."
"Fine. But before I tell you, you should know that I just found this out two days ago," I warned. She nodded, and I continued.
"Tsern is my father."
"What?!" Her shout was restrained, but barely.
"Shhh. Yes, the guy whos been bothering us, the man who tried to kill me, is my father."
"Oh Crono, Im so sorry."
"Dont be. He might be my biological, but I dont, I wont, consider him my real father. He left my mother before I was born, telling her that unless he left, all three of us would die. I dont buy his story, coming from the man who tried to kill me."
"I thought something was eating you. When did you find out?"
"Two nights ago. My mother told me that she was married to a man called Tsern, and that he left before I was born. Later that night, I couldnt sleep so I went outside for some fresh air, and thats when I met Tsern. He confirmed it," I told her. Marle said nothing, only pressing me closer to her. After a few seconds of silence, she spoke.
"So hes your biological father. So what? He tried to kill you. He tried to kill us. A father is someone who helps raise you, not someone who tries to end your life. A father should look after you."
Marle was right; she was speaking from experience. Until the end of our adventures, Marle believed that her father didnt care for her or for her mother. She was unaware that her father was doing the best he could to bring her up. But towards the end of our adventures, Marle realized her error. Ever since then, she and her father have been on the best terms.
"So youre saying hes not my father?"
"Exactly," she responded. I thought for a moment, digesting what she had said.
"I guess youre right," I admitted.
"I know Im right," she said as she planted a long kiss on my lips. When would I feel those lips next? I didnt know, but her presence was enough to make me not care at the moment.
"Could you two not do that here?" Ecins voice broke us apart. Marles face turned beet red for a few seconds before she managed to regain her composure.
"And a good morning to you too, Ecin," she rejoined.
"Keep it down! Im trying to sleep," Kain grumbled loudly, sprawled out a few feet from Ecin.
"Not anymore. We have to get to Fionas Shrine," I told him. He cursed too quietly for me to hear exactly what he said.
"Good morning, Crono! Good morning, Marle!" Schalas cheery voice cut through the air like a note struck on a harp. We both turned to look at her as she poked Magus in the ribs. The two hadnt slept near us, preferring to disappear into the night. It seemed the entire Zeal family liked vanishing into thin air. Magus responded to Schalas prod, mumbled a good morning before shooting me a dirty glare. By now, everyone had started waking up, greeting each other and packing away whatever belongings they had. Half an hour later, we were ready to finish the trek to the shrine, and to fight the final fight with Ibleess.
* * *
"Wherere the attendants?" Lucca thought aloud as we entered the shrine. Fionas Shrine, where we had planted Fionas Forest 400 years earlier, was the center of a lot of magic power, all of it springing from the massive forest surrounding it. And because all the plants in the forest needed caretakers, there were always attendants in the shrine. However, none of them were here now. The world was disconcertingly quiet.
"I have a bad feeling about this." Ecin warned.
"Ayla no like. Bad thing here," Ayla told us.
"Everybody, be on guard. Who knows what tricks hell pull," Cid cautioned. We all bundled together as we made our way up to the altar, all our senses strained to the maximum. If Ibleess were here, at least one of us would be able to find him.
"There you are. I was wondering when youd show up. Are you ready for the void?" Ibleesss voice echoed through the cathedral, reverberating as if it was the voice of God Himself.
"Thats a question you should ask yourself," I rejoined.
"Hmm very well. We shall see if you are as good as you think you are. Prepare yourselves for your final battle." His voice boomed again, seeming to shake the world as drumstick would a drum.
"This is it! Weve had enough of being pushed. Today, we show you were not toys to play with!" I growled.
In response, the world rumbled, throwing us to our feet. In that instant, the sun was extinguished and the world was torn apart. I could feel myself sliding from this dimension and into another. Closing my eyes, I hoped that I could dull the sensation, but to no avail. After a few gut-wrenching moments, I opened my eyes, letting them focus on the pulsating blue limits of the new dimension. The world seemed to be made of undulating azure waves each flowing towards a central point: Ibleess. As far as I could see, the world held no boundaries. Ibleess hovered in the distance, easily discernable. He faced us, taunting us, beckoning us to come forward and face him.
"Do we dare?" I turned to face my friends, studying their faces until one by one they nodded.
"We have no choice now. We dare," Cid said after everyone had agreed.
"Then get the rocks out and have them ready. And no matter what, stick to the plan," I admonished. When they nodded, I continued.
"Lets go. And good luck. Well need it."
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