Chrono Trigger: Dare Chapter 36
Putting the Pieces Back into the Box
I heard noise. My ears picked up the slightest scufflings off in a distance somewhere. I ignored them, but now my eyes registered lights. I quickly refused to accept anything more. Even the idea of light hurt. Even thoughts hurt. But whoever was making the noise wouldnt stop, and finally, unable to ignore it, my other senses oozed into life.
"...See him...Marle. My son...my...in-law."
My ears werent working as well as I had hoped. I forced my eyes open, but everything seemed to be a white, blurry, watery image. Seeing no point in keeping my eyes open, I closed them. I could feel my fingers, but moving them was a completely different story entirely.
In response, I managed to let a barely audible moan out. In an instant, I felt bodies surround, jab, and prod me. Finally, a cup was brought to my lips and a sour, sticky liquid forced down my mouth. I lost track of time, but the darkness engulfed me again, but not as heavily as before. Its promise was only whispered this time, and its conviction had all but disappeared. I reminded it that I never give up.
* * *
My eyes snapped open. This time, I could just barely wiggle my toes and fingers, and my eyes could focus on separate objects now.
"Hes awake. You can see him now."
My eyes focused on a person walking urgently towards me. She stopped at the head of my bed and looked down, her smiling, worried eyes brightened my day.
"Oh my goodness! Youre ok! I thought I had lost you for sure, this time," my mother squealed.
I tried to speak, but I was too tired. Instead, I winked slowly and managed a weak smile.
"I can tell youre tired. Ill let you rest. But you have a lot of explaining to do, young man."
I winked again, but kept my eye closed as I watched her leave. Seconds later, my other eye closed, taking me into a blissful world of dreams. The darkness gave up and slinked away. It wouldnt have me today. You see, I dare to survive. I never give up.
* * *
"Checkmate. That was a great game," Fate said to himself as he slowly laid the king, a miniature version of Ibleess, down on the table. Quietly, he moved all the remaining pieces to Guardia Castle then debated whether to lay the knight down as well.
"No. I think Ill keep Crono alive this time. I can have more fun with him later," Fate mumbled as he set the knight piece upright again. He then sat back in his chair, relaxing for a change, watching the endgame finish itself. After all, he deserved a break.
* * *
Over the following days, I slipped in and out of sleep many times before I had any control over when I wanted to sleep. From my times awake, and even though I was groggy, I found the others shared the same fate I did; they were all bedridden with a myriad of ailments, ranging from broken bones to fevers to concussions. I also found out that we were found lying in the ruins of Fionas Shrine. It seems that our battle with Ibleess took its toll on Earth as well. The shrine and over half the forest had been leveled. I heard that when they found us, there was not an upright tree for miles and the shrine had been reduced to dust. It hurt to hear that we destroyed most of the very forest we had created and the shrine built to protect it, but the alternative was not the most pleasing idea either. A forest could grow back. The planet couldnt. But still, even one sacrifice was too many, and evidently, not enough. Mountains have sprung up where there used to be ocean. New archipelagoes have appeared out of nowhere. Grassy plains are now huge, gapping deserts. Denadoro Mountain is now just a hill with a cave on its crest. Instead of taking two or three days from the Mountain to the seashore, the trip now takes a few seconds. A huge chunk of the continent had been submerged. The Mayors house in Porre, the harbor, the inn, and the market all drowned underwater. Not even the tips of the houses show now. But thanks to the submersible capabilities of the Aeon, we can still visit the town, even though it will do us no good; it was absolutely decimated. The Zealian ruins we found that sparked this entire adventure have surfaced completely, as if to remind us of the civilization that used to exist here and the threat they posed. Thankfully, the only other changes were slight, like the shifting of currents and such.
The few weeks I spent in an out of consciousness felt like months, but I eventually stayed awake long enough to find out what happened to my friends. It seems I took a good deal of damage more than my friends, and so I had to stay in bed while they brought me news of the world.
I found out that Magus was alive and, relative to me, uninjured. Schala too was hardly injured at all, besides a few broken bones, of course. Unfortunately, Magus used spells to cure both he and his sister, allowing them to vanish without a trace. Both had disappeared about four days after they entered the hospital. On journeys in time, Lucca and Marle often spot them together; apparently, Schalas magic allows her to travel through time. Once in a very long while, they have both been invited to share a meal with us. Marle and Lucca both agree that Maguss attitude has improved, but he still has his rough demeanor. Every time I hear of Magus and Schala, I wish them well. No two people have gone through more than they have, and they deserve their respite. I hope theyve found what they were looking for.
More bits of information floated to me. Cairns were built for Ecin and Kain and were placed in their own small plot of the cemetery. Larger and more detailed Cairns were built on Aire, and both now serve as a memory of the heroes and for what they stood. Since we couldnt find their bodies, we placed the next best thing, their weapons, in shrines within the tomb. Fortunately, everyone else survived because of the shield the Aegis erected. Unfortunately, those two will be sorely missed. Some might say that two deaths in a war to save the world are a good sacrifice. I wish it werent so.
I also learned that my mother almost overpowered the entire kings guard when they would not let her enter to see Marle and me. They let her in, but ever since then no guard ever came within ten feet of her. I now know from whom I get my spirit. As for my other traits .
I have no reason to believe that Tsern is alive. I cant say that I miss him. And yet . I guess the jurys still out on him. He and I reached a sort of understanding that night outside my house and I want to believe that that man was the real Tsern. My real father. But then again, after the revelations with Ibleess, I always wonder if I want him as my father. Like I said, the jurys still out. It may be out forever.
Before going back to the future, Robo told me that the recent events had blown all his theories out of the water, but, of course, those werent his exact words. He also told me that until given more time to process the new data, he would stick with the original theory that the entity died, or was very close to death, five years ago. Personally, but dont tell him this, I hope he never finds out who or what the entity really is. I have nearly had it with superbeings, and one more will only complicate matters. The less we know about that subject, the better off we are at the moment. Robo, Lucca and I have also come to a startling realization regarding our metallic friend. The fact that he was with us in Unis means he has a soul like ours, a human soul. After asking Lucca and Cid about this, weve come to the conclusion that Robo is human, despite his metal exterior. On a separate note, Robo was the only one who suffered no injuries; a metal body can take much more damage than a flesh body can. I say fortunately because he was a great help in healing both Marle and me.
Marle took the brunt of the damage from Ibleess. You see, the damage she took from Ibleess would kill anyone under normal circumstances. However, her strength was bolstered by the spell, and so was the amount of damage she could take. So now, when shes back to normal, the damage she took must be reflected but scaled down proportionally. The fact that he took such an immense beating from Ibleess meant that it would show when she returned to normal. Plus, the fact that Unis was a draining experience must be taken into consideration, especially when trying to figure out how bad she must have looked. But when I saw the true effects, I nearly died. By the time I recovered completely, Marle was still under constant watch. Bruises covered nearly every square inch of her body, except for the parts that were covered by burns. Scars crisscrossed her skin, and wounds looked ready to burst open at any second. My friends assured me that she looked better now than before, but I did not see how that could have been possible. Even despite the curative magic my friends used and the surgical techniques Robo used, it all came down to whether her body could heal itself. Night after night, I prayed for her to get better. Finally, and day by day, we saw small improvements. Later on, the big changes occurred, and we were able to get rid of the scarred and burnt tissue without risking her death. The one remnant of the injuries she once carried is a small scar on her stomach where the doctors made their first incision. Ahh, the wonders of modern science.
Lucca, Ayla, and Frog got their fair share of injuries, but none of them were too serious. A month and a half in the doctors ward had healed any maladies they had. After fighting Ibleess, Ayla and Frog were really eager to get home, where nothing as demonic or as deadly ever happened. After fighting Ibleess, I hoped they lived quiet, boring lives.
After we all recovered, the world returned, more or less, to normal. More or less. Lucca and Cid got married, as did Marle and I. Marle, after recovering completely of course, thought it would be a great idea to have a double wedding, and so the King had the giant event take place in the Millenium Square, with both Leenes bell and Nadias bell (ahh, the memories) ringing, instead of in the Castle. Im now happily married to Marle, and were both living in my house. Cid and Lucca lived with us for a time before they managed to build their own house. In the sky. Apparently, with the wreckage from Zeal, theyve managed to build a house that defies gravity. According to Lucca, the position is ideal for experiments, since, among other reasons, no one can bother either of them while they work. She also insists that, if the need arose, it could serve as a headquarters for us. Im doubtful, since from my point of view, the house looks too fragile to even withstand a wrong look. Lucca assures me that its perfectly safe, though. I believe her simply because the house hasnt fallen out of the sky yet.
My house has been renovated for the second time, but instead of being enlarged, it was split between my mother and us. Marle and I now live in the larger northern part, while my mother lives in the southern, smaller piece. She likes it better this way, since she only has to clean a small house.
Lucca and Cid travel back and forth between Aire and Earth using the Ephemeral. They spend most of their time ferrying supplies from Earth to Aire so that the latter planet can rebuild. Any other free time they have is devoted entirely to the creation of machines that seem to work less frequently than they did when only Lucca was inventing them. Aside from their floating home, nothing else theyve built works. Oddly enough, every time I mention it, they both erupt in wild laughter. Ive begun to think that they plan all their failures as a way to keep entertained. They both spend countless hours at my house discussing future plans for everything from Aire to inventions to any names their kids might have, if they ever find time.
Lucca and Cid have also been the poineers in a new area of trade and discovery. They have discovered sentient life forms on other planets. The only story Ive been able to get from them is that they entered the wrong coordinates into the Ephemeral and went to the wrong planet, one called Enwint. Ever since then, Lucca and Cid have happened onto several other civilizations, all willing to trade with Earth. And all of them are against Zeal. Evidently, its taint had spread further than any of us suspected. Oddly enough, none of the civilizations know about the origins of Zeal. They all thought it started on some other planet, which makes me think that it did not start on Earth or on Aire. Every time I think of what type of planet could be the home to a civilization like Zeal, the world feels a little colder. On another note, people from the other planets come to Earth to learn from me, to become knights so that if they ever do find any remnant of Zeal, theyll know what to do. Apparently, were the only ones to have defeated Zeal one-on-one.
My days after I recovered were filled with work, either in training the knights or in being trained myself. The king, seeing that Ive become "monarch material", has begun training me as the next king, though I probably wont take over the position in some time. Hes very patient, but one wrong move means I get the worst tongue-lashing Ive ever gotten, world savior or no world savior. Marle seems to find this hilarious. I see the comedy in, but since its happening to me, its not as funny. My time goes mostly into being around the king, but Ive found some time to keep the vow I made on Aire.
From the day I recovered, I created a group of knights trained specifically to keep the peace on Earth and on any planet known to them. The majority of these "Knights Templar" as they call themselves are from the other planets. I now spend any time not with the King training these future defenders. I hope that these knights will be able to stop any civilization like Zeal from ever destroying another world again. I constantly set them out to search for remnants of Zeal on Aire and so far, they have never come back empty handed. I never dreamt that Zeal would be so widespread. Why do humans constantly choose to be ruled over by a tyrant? Its my fervent hope that they are only forced to, and that its not a decision made voluntarily. My only fear is that these knights lose sight of the ideals I set down and thus become what I want them to quash. But then again, ideals change over time. Maybe my ideals will not be able to exist thousands of years in the future, or maybe theyll be replaced, for better or for worse. But I hope they remember at least one of them, the first one, the one that says, "Dont forget that youre only human, so act accordingly: Dare to survive. Never give up."
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