Until the End of Time Part 1, Chapter 3
The Pages of History
By Demon-Fighter Ash
February, 1005 AD
"The kids are in bed," Marle asked quietly as Lucca walked down the stairs into her living room, Crono and Marle sitting at the dining-room table, studying a strategic map they had brought from the castle to work on, while Melchior sat in a rocking chair with Kid and Magus brooded by the window, the living room bathed in the warm dim glow of the fireplace and two small lamps glowing on either side of the couch.
Lucca sat down on the opposite side of the dining-room table and glanced around at the rest of the room, the twin shaded lamps and warm fire lighting the room and casting flickering shadows across the two upstair balconies that hung beneath the vaulted living-room ceiling. She let her eyes rest on the large glass storage-capsule that lay against the corner, her father's invention, the soft orange light dancing against the curved crystal shell, and then she looked back to Marle as the young queen glanced from the topographical map at her.
"Yeah," she nodded, "Kid can stay down here for awhile, but Sarah and Jacky are tucked in."
"How are they holding up," Marle asked.
"Sarah's doing okay," Lucca sighed, "Jacky's still having a hard time with it, since he's younger. He still doesn't understand why his parents aren't coming back...and I don't know how to begin explaining it."
"It's wonderful of you to take them in," Melchior offered, "after that last attack on Truce."
"Yeah," Lucca said, "I just hope the war ends soon...I can't bear to see any more kids lose their parents."
"Since when," Magus asked as he stared out the window at the night sky, "has the world had two moons?"
"Good question," Lucca replied as she sat down, relieved to talk about something scientific, then glanced up to look at Crono and Marle studying the map and Kid gripping Melchior's finger as he looked over his own weapon schematics. It wasn't the most exciting night, but after six months of battle, they needed a quiet evening.
"That smaller red moon was here when we got back," she continued, "the three of us first saw it during the moonlight parade, but everybody else thinks it's always been here, even Melchior."
"They're fools," Magus answered, still looking up at the blood-red orb in the sky, "it was never in the skies of my world, not before or after the death of Lavos."
"That's interesting," Lucca pondered, "that means it only appeared sometime between 12,000 BC and now, but far back enough that people now think that there's always been two moons."
"Is there ANYTHING that wasn't changed by killing that monster," Magus cried out, exasperated.
"Even better question," she sighed, understanding his frustration--she'd spent years trying to figure out how so much of the past could've changed when the only real change they made was in the future, in 1999 AD.
"Porre also changed," Crono said, glancing up from the map, "for the worse."
"What do you mean," Melchior looked up in surprise, "they've always been this bad, haven't they?"
"No," Marle shook her head, "before we discovered the gates, they were a small fishing village with a ferry running between their town and Truce. They weren't anything like this military nightmare now."
"I have a theory about that," Lucca said, "or at least, a hunch."
"Yeah," Crono asked, looking up at her.
"I studied everything about Porre's history, and their history seems to match the one we know right up until 900 AD, when they discovered the El Nido islands. It was part of a trade-route that used to be empty."
"What happened then," Magus asked, turning away from the window and looking at the fire.
"First there was a war between the dragonians and Porre colonists," she answered, "and the dragonians all died out. Porre became more militaristic, raising an army to defend their borders. They seized control of the El Nido islands and began developing weapons based on the element-crystals the natives use. Within fifty years a military coup overthrew the mayor of Porre, while their weapon technology increased at an exponential rate--within less than a century they've gone from swords to automatic rifles."
"Do you think," Marle asked, "the war with the dragonians changed them?"
"Not really," she shook her head, "even the war was completely unlike the Porre we know, or even the Porre that first landed on the islands less than a year before. It's more like something on the island changed the colonists and they began to affect the rest of Porre, developing them into an army over the course of a century."
"Who could do that," Melchior asked, "perhaps more importantly, why?"
"Who else could it be," Magus hissed, "it's him! Lavos!"
"We know he doesn't like reptites," Marle said, "maybe he used Porre to get rid of the dragonians."
"Maybe," Lucca said doubtfully, "but that doesn't really make sense. Why would Lavos have to wait for Porre to do that? There were natives on the island who said they've lived there for generations--why not use them if he wanted to create another Zeal? I just have a feeling there's something else behind this..."
"Another consciousness manipulating history, maybe even using Lavos's power to do it," Melchior said, his voice trailing off, "anyway, I've designed some element-crystal bullets for our own guns. That should give us some advantage in the next firefight with Porre. I just wish we didn't have to make such things at all."
"We should station them here," Crono said, planting two pushpins into the map, "along each side of Zenan Bridge. That's Porre's only land route, and the blockade will hopefully keep them off the coast"
"That may work for now," Magus nodded approvingly as he leaned over the table and studied the troops' positions, "but in time you might have to simply destroy the Zenan Bridge as they're crossing, as I did when Guardia threatened to destroy the mystics' bases."
"That might be a good idea," Crono agreed, "but not unless we have to."
"I wish it were under better circumstances," Melchior looked up at Magus with a warm smile, "but I'm glad to work with you again, my liege. I never imagined that the three of us would end up here, helping to defend the distant future together."
Magus suddenly bristled and slowly turned head from the map, looking at Melchior with one cold eye.
"The three of us," he asked in a clenched whisper.
"You, me, and your sister. A day never passed that I didn't worry about you, or search the pages of history for some word of you, some old record that tell me where the vortex had taken you..."
"Stupid old man," Magus said in a trembling, furious voice, "clinging to life like a coward when you should have met the reaper years ago! I'm not your liege anymore, and you're not a guru! You are just a senile, sentimental old fool who doesn't know when he's not wanted or needed anymore...who can't admit that he's obsolete!"
Everybody stopped and simply stared at Magus, and Crono silently rose to his feet and curled his fingers around the handle of his sword without a word, preparing for the worst. Magus glared at each of them and turned around, his cloak whipping through the room as he hovered into the air and flew out into the night.
* * *
"Hey! Wait just a minute," Lucca demanded as she climbed up the small hill overlooking her house, glaring at Magus as he stood beside the solitary oak-tree atop the hill. The gently sloping hill rose above the rest of the island, the large two-story house and the beaches of the island spreading out below the crest behind her, the forests and twinkling lights of the village stretching silently beyond the bridge on the other side of the tree, "why did you blow up at Melchior like that?"
"Because he's a weak little insect," Magus growled as he turned away from her to look at the silent village and twin moons hanging over the dark silhuette of the castle, "clinging to what might have been instead of accepting his fate."
"That's not an answer," she said sternly, refusing to accept his usual bleak aphorisms, "he's my friend and I really want to know why you hurt him like that. He cares about you--he risked his life trying to save you! The only reason he ended up in this era is because he tried to save you from being pulled into the vortex!"
"He failed. The fires of Hell burn with good intentions. It's only what happens that matters."
"So is that it," she answered, annoyed by his selfishness, "you're just mad because he didn't succeed?"
Magus looked silently out into the forests, gripping a knot on the side of the tall twisted oak tree with his right hand as he stared into the night, apparently waiting for her to leave. He sighed deeply after a few minutes, realizing that she wouldn't go away without an answer, and he finally spoke, without turning, leaning against the tree-trunk.
"That's not it," he said, "my fate was decided the moment I entered the ocean palace. He wasted all his efforts trying to change it. He shouldn't have been trying to save me, he should have..."
His voice fell silent and Lucca quietly finished the sentence, nodding to herself as she understood.
"He should have tried to save Schala. That's why you're always so mad at him."
"They all should have," he answered, the wooden knot smoking and curling around his fingertips as his gripping fingers began to glow with unchecked magical energy, "they just stood there! The Gurus, the Enlightened Ones, they just stood there while she screamed in pain and they did nothing!"
"They couldn't do anything," she answered softly, "everybody wanted to, but they couldn't."
"That's a lie," he suddenly shouted, still facing out toward the castle, away from the island and Lucca, "they didn't even try to save her, they just stood around and talked! That's all they ever did, they just talked! That old man even wasted his effort on that stupid child instead of her," his voice began to crack, "they should have done something!"
Lucca didn't have a clue what to say as she listened to him, his face hidden as his voice broke into small choked gasps, shaking her head in disbelief as she dared to wonder if the cold-blooded Magus was actually...
"I should," he choked, leaving no doubt anymore, "I should have done something..."
She wondered if he'd even noticed that last sentence or realized what he'd really just said. She stared at the black figure trembling against the tree and shook her head again, trying to convince herself that was really the same man who had waged a bloody war against an innocent kingdom, who'd secretly manipulated a magical empire and fought countless life-or-death battles without a trace of either fear or remorse.
Then she remembered Janus, the frightened little boy, terrorized by his mother, shunned by the Enlightened Ones, whose only kindness came from his sister. She'd never even thought about it before but during the time-crash Janus had gone to the Ocean Palace for the exact same reason she and her friends had, to rescue Schala--and he too had failed. Suddenly she knew which person, between the boy and the man, was talking to her now.
"Janus, it's alright," she said gently, "Schala's safe, and you're protecting her. She's..."
"The past is dead," he answered in a cold empty voice she recognized all too well.
"Melchior is no more foolish than the rest of you for clinging to hope," he continued, his voice steadying as he talked, "in the end there is only the void, and all we can do is prepare for the abyss!"
He suddenly lifted into the air and swept across the hilltops, his cloak drawn tightly around him as he flew toward the forests of Guardia. She knew from experience that he'd spend a few days alone out there, living on wild animals, while he built up his defenses again, drowning out his self-doubt and reassuring himself with his self-important nihilism.
It must be comforting for him, she thought, being out there in the woods alone, in the forests and groves where he'd spent half his life growing up. Over four centuries, or even thirteen hundred centuries, the forests never changed. She shook her head, torn between pitying the guilt-ridden Janus and resenting the arrogant Magus, and turned toward the distant orphanage, wondering how the rest of the gang had held up.
* * *
"Hi everybody," Lucca said as she pulled off her brown cloak and hung it by the door. She looked around at her three friends, Crono still puzzling over the tactical maps, Marle leaning over his shoulder reading, as Melchior sat in her mom's old rocking chair, feeding little Kid and softly cooing at her as she finished the bottle.
"Did you find him," Marle asked, looking up from the papers.
"Yeah, but he's gone off to, well," she thought for a minute, "to sort things out, I guess."
"Janus has led a difficult life," Melchior said as he bounced Kid up and down in his lap, then stopping as he spoke more seriously, "all of our lives have been changed by Lavos, but none more deeply than his. Well, except for one, perhaps" as he started bouncing Kid on his knee again, the baby giggling as he stuck his tongue out at her, "isn't that right, little Schala," he said in high-pitched baby-talk, "yes, you're still Schala, aren't you?"
"Melchior," Lucca said gently, sitting beside him and smiling at them both as he played with Kid, "I think Magus might have regretted some of the things he said to you."
Melchior turned from Kid and gave Lucca a mock-suspicious look, one eye closed and the other wide.
"Now I KNOW he didn't actually tell you that!"
"No, not in so many words," she said with a shrug, "but he did say you're no worse than the rest of us."
Melchior suddenly laughed out, nearly falling back in the rocking chair, then pulled himself back up and handed the gurgling baby to Lucca as he laughed harder, trying to catch his breath.
"No worse than the rest...at least I'm in good company, with three saviors of the future! Aren't we just a bunch of scoundrels, Schala?," he baby-talked, chuckling as Lucca smiled and rocked Kid in her arms.
Part 1, Chapter 4