The Children Of Zeal Chapter 1

The Plague

By Froborr d'Wiggy

Chapter One characters:

Crono: Level **
Weapon: Rainbow Sword
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Moon Armor
Accessory: Frenzy Band

Marle: Level **
Weapon: Siren Bow
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Prism Dress
Accessory: Ribbon

Lucca: Level **
Weapon: Wonder Shot
Head: Safe Helm
Body: Prism Dress
Accessory: Gold Stud

Note: The “original adventurers” are presumed to be those from my Megabuffed party: Basically, New Game +’d a dozen times, for level ** on everyone, effectively unlimited equipment and items, and at least four stats at ** for each person (pwr, mag, spd, and m def; most people have five stats at ** and ALL of Magus’ stats are **).


Crono stood on top of the Black Omen, watching as Queen Zeal’s head took form before him. On either side of the floating mask hung her gloved hands, both of which turned to point at him. He shook his head, knowing that this couldn’t be real—he’d already fought Queen Zeal, seen Magus kill her after she had used some sort of perverted Aura Whirl to stun the rest of them. Even as he thought this, the Queen pointed at him, draining the life from him.

No, he thought desperately. This isn’t real, this is another nightmare… Magus killed her! She’s dead!

As he thought this, a swirling, chaotic Gate opened. Out of it dropped Magus, his hood up to cover his face and a sword gripped in his hand. Magus leaped at Queen Zeal and struck her mask with the sword, shattering it.

At that moment, Crono was aware of three things. The first was that the weapon Magus was carrying should have been the Doom Scythe, not the Rainbow Sword; second was that the face behind Zeal’s mask was Marle’s; and third was that the face under Magus’s hood was not Magus’s, but his own.

He watched in helpless horror as he/Magus attacked Zeal/Marle viciously, slashing at her again and again. Marle screamed, “Crono! Help me, Crono! Crono! Crono!”

“Crono! Wake up, Crono! Crono!”

Crono jerked awake, to find his mother standing over him. The early morning sunshine drifted in through the closed window shades, and he could dimly hear birdsong in the distance. His mother walked over and pulled open the window shades, blinding him.

“C’mon, Crono, up and at ‘em! You’ve got a busy day today. Mrs. Trent across the street wants you to find her missing dog, and then you have to go meet the ex-mayor of Medina when his ferry comes in, and there’s some guy called Dr Levine from Porre who was asking about you at the town meeting last night.” She glared at Crono as he shook his head. “Look, Crono, you’re a hero, and everyone in Guardia knows it. If you don’t want to help these people, just come to a town meeting and say so! The mayor of Truce will get word to all the other towns, and you can get a rest.” She watched Crono for a response, but he just sat there looking sullen. She sighed. Crono hadn’t said a word in nearly fifteen years now, and she was starting to despair that he ever would again. She had tried everything to make him speak, but even his adventures of the past few months had failed to make him talk. Even Marle was unable to get him to say anything, and she had tried everything imaginable (and a few things Crono’s mother flatly refused to imagine). She sighed again, and headed downstairs to fix breakfast.


After breakfast Crono headed out of the house, and supposedly across the street to Mrs. Trent’s. However, as soon as he stepped out of the house, a strange person in a white coat rushed up to him. “Crono? I’m Dr Levine,” he said, pumping Crono’s hand vigorously. “Miss Marle said I could find you here,” he continued, letting go of Crono’s hand to push his glasses back up his nose. “You must come with me immediately. The King needs your help.”

Crono nodded, realizing that this might be his chance to do something more interesting than rescuing dogs. He rushed back into the house, and came out a moment later dressed in the armor he had brought back from his journeys in time: the Moon Armor, the Safe Helm, and the Frenzy Band. Belted at his side was the Rainbow Sword.

“I really don’t think that’s necessary,” commented Levine. “Guardia Forest was cleaned of monsters only just last week; I’m sure they haven’t returned by now.”

Crono shrugged and started walking towards the castle.


A couple of hours later, Crono and Dr Levine entered the front gate of Guardia Castle. The guards bowed to them, then stood aside. The door to the throne room burst open and Marle came rushing through, crying.

She ran up to Crono and threw her arms around him, sobbing, “You’re finally here! You have to help us! Daddy’s dying!”

Crono’s eyes widened. As soon as Marle had calmed down a little, he, she, and Dr Levine headed up to the King’s bedroom. The King was lying in his bed, looking decidedly green. His breathing was ragged, and his eyes were half-closed.

“He’s been sick for about a week,” said Levine. “I’d been fighting a similar disease in Porre, where it was hitting a lot of people, especially children, so I was called in to treat him. He had all the symptoms of Levine’s syndrome, fever, chills, stomach problems, and greenish skin, so I began trying the things that had had some success in Porre. Unfortunately, nothing I tried seemed to work; only Marle’s talents seemed to help, and even those are losing their effectiveness. Which means…” Levine took a deep breath. “Which means, King Guardia has about a week to live.”

Marle began crying again as Levine continued, “Or it would, if I hadn’t made a critical breakthrough. Levine’s syndrome is nothing more than a mutant version of the Imp Pox! A version which infects humans, and is apparently lethal to them. Anyway, the Mystics use an herb called poxbane to treat the Imp Pox, and if I had some I might be able to whip up a cure. The only problem is, poxbane only grows in the woods near Medina, and—“

“And the new Mayor of Medina has banned all humans from Mystic territory,” finished Marle tearfully.

“Right,” said Levine. “So, Crono, will you help?”


A little while later, Marle, now wearing the Prism Dress and carrying the Siren Bow, and Crono set off for Medina. They made it without incident to the Truce port, where the ferries from Porre and Medina came in. There, they found a small cluster of people, including the Chancellor of Guardia and the head of the Palace Guard, standing in front of a ferry’s gangway. As they watched, an Imp, finely dressed, strolled down the ramp and greeted the delegation.

The Chancellor stepped forward. “We of Guardia welcome you, Mayor of Medina” he said in his nasty, sycophantic voice. “We hope your stay in our kingdom is a good one.”

“I am not Mayor anymore,” the Imp said sadly. “The people of Medina have chosen again to be hostile to humans, and have made Ozzie VIII the new Mayor.” He entered the little group and they headed towards the castle. Marle and Crono looked at each other.

“Did you hear that, Crono? Ozzie is back in charge of the Mystics, which means it’s only a matter of time before we have another Mystic war. I think we’re going to need help with this.

Crono nodded, and the two headed off for Lucca’s house.


Upon entering Lucca’s house, Crono and Marle were assailed by a hideous stench, coming from the kitchen in back. Rushing back there, the two found an enormous complex of tubes and beakers on the stove. Lucca and Taban were bustling about them, pouring, mixing, and stirring. After a moment, Lucca noticed Marle and Crono, holding their noses. Wiping her hands off on her lab smock, then taking it off and hanging it up, she came over to them.

“What are you doing?” asked Marle.

“Mom’s sick,” said Lucca. “We’ve been trying to figure out a way to help her, but we haven’t found anything.”

“Oh, no,” said Marle. “She isn’t green and feverish, is she?”

“Yeah, she is. It seems pretty bad—“

“Lucca, my father has the same thing, and the doctor says he’s dying!”

Lucca’s hands flew to her mouth. “You—you mean—mother?”

Marle looked down. “I’m sorry. But… there is a way to save them! The doctor says we need to go to Medina and find some poxbane.”

“All right,” said Lucca. “Let me get my stuff. Let’s see…” Lucca began searching through the piles of junk cluttering her house. Eventually, she managed to find her Prism Dress, Safe Helm, and Wonder Shot.

The party headed for the Vortex, knowing that the Mystics weren’t allowing humans into Medina anymore. They hopped into the massive whirlpool, holding their breaths, swirling down, deeper and deeper, and then suddenly rising again.

They found themselves, as usual, in the Heckran cave, near Melchior’s hut. As they made their way through the cave, they were attacked by a band of Mystics. A pair of monsters wearing armor rushed Crono. He parried one blow, but the other got in a slash to his shoulder. The band around his head flared, and his sword slashed back into the enemy, slicing it in two. Then, feeling the pain in his arm, he staggered back against the cave wall.

Marle and Lucca looked at each other, and nodded, even as a dozen more Mystics entered. The two concentrated, collecting their magical power, and then let it flare out, Ice and Fire combining in an immensely destructive attack. Enormous waves of fire incinerated the monsters, as gigantic chunks of ice crushed and froze them. Finally, two enormous chains of fireballs and two of ice began circling the room, destroying all the remaining enemies. The four chains all met in the center of the room, and exploded in a burst of magical force, sending pulses of healing energy through the three fighters.

Crono stood, his wounds healed by the spell, and looked at Lucca questioningly.

“It’s Antipode Version 4.0,” she answered. “We’ve been working on an improved version for awhile, and we’ve finally managed to tie in Marle’s healing ability.”

“Right!” agreed Marle. “Now, let’s get—eep!”

Crono whirled to find an enormous creature rising before him. It seemed to be made of bits and pieces of most of the monsters he had fought on his adventure, all dead and in various states of decay. In some parts it was almost alive, while in others it was skeletal. And in the parts in between—he tried very hard not to throw up.

Before he could do anything, the monster pointed at Lucca and Marle, and they froze, paralyzed. Crono rushed the monster, and slashed at it repeatedly, his sword flickering too fast to see. After the twelfth stroke, he leaped high in the air, and rotating beams of light shone white off his sword. He fell back down, and gave a massive blow that sliced the monster in two. As his blade reached the ground, the Luminaire spell burst out, frying the two pieces of the monster.

Marle and Lucca immediately regained their mobility, and Marle rushed up to Crono and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I guess you’ve been improving your techs, too,” she said, giggling as he blushed. “What are we going to call that?”

“How about Omni-Slash?” suggested Lucca.

“No,” replied Marle. “That sounds silly, and anyway this Tech had magic in it, too. I know! How about, Lumin Strike?”

Lucca shrugged. “Okay. What do you think, Crono?”

Crono smiled and nodded, and then led the way out of the cave into sunlight. The party headed south, to Melchior’s hut, to find nothing there but a burnt-out ruin. Marle let out a gasp at the sight. “What—what’s happened?”

“I don’t know,” said Lucca, “but it can’t be good. Listen, we don’t have much time. Let’s get the herb, then come back and find out what happened, okay?”

Marle and Crono nodded, both obviously upset. The three walked on, alert for any more monsters. They did come across a few, but were easily rid of them. Finally, after several hours they reached the forest near Medina. They searched the forest for a while, and finally found enough of the herb Levine had described to Marle.

As they were leaving, a voice ordered, “Stop right there!” Ozzie XIX stepped out of the trees. “I’m afraid we can’t let you leave that easily,” he said.

“Waddaya mean, we?” said Lucca.

Ozzie laughed. “Flea!” he called. “Slash! Meet Flea XIX, master magician, and Slash XIX, master swordsman.” As he spoke, Slash bowed and Flea curtsied. “Now,” finished Ozzie, “we avenge our ancestors!”

Flea began to cast a spell, but Crono ran her through before she could finish. Slash tried to attack Crono, but Marle froze him in place and Lucca toasted him to a crisp.

Ozzie looked a little frightened, but then shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. No form of attack can break through MY family barrier!” He stretched out his arms, and a crystalline shell formed around him. Crono, Lucca, and Marle looked at each other, and then Crono smiled. A moment later, Marle and Lucca caught the idea and began to smile, too. Then, they walked around Ozzie and headed for home.


Back home, they found a nasty surprise waiting for them. An army of Mystics, helped by a traitor, was even now inside Guardia Castle, battling the Guard of the Square Table! Luckily, the three got there in time to stop the attackers from completely taking over, but overheard from some Mystics guarding the captured knights that the traitor was none other than Yakra the XIV, and he was going to kill the King!

They immediately rushed up to the King’s bedroom, where they found Dr. Levine slumped next to a smashed window. As they helped him to his feet, he told them, “The Chancellor was here, only it wasn’t the Chancellor—it was some sort of monster!”

“Where did he go?” demanded Lucca.

“When he came in the room, I was holding a beaker of acid, trying to see how that affected the pox virus. He changed form and attacked the King, so I hit him with a face-full of acid. Then he screamed and dived out the window, knocking me aside. I was about to get up, when you three came in.”

“WHAT!” shrieked Marle. “He attacked Daddy?”

“Yes, rather severely, I’m afraid. It will take all my skill if I am to save him.” Levine turned to Crono and Lucca. “Please, leave us. Try to prevent the murderers out there from disturbing us in here.”


In a matter of a few hours, Crono, Lucca, and the Guards of the Square had cleaned the Mystics out of the castle, and within a day out of the kingdom. Dr Levine began mixing up batches of the cure, and Taban quickly found a way to mass-produce them. It seemed the plague would claim no more victims. However, Dr Levine, Marle, and the Chancellor (who had been found locked in the castle basement) were still in the King’s bedroom, and it was said that even with the cure, the combination of Imp Pox and the wounds Yakra had given him were too much for his system.

So it was that, three days after the attack, the Chancellor appeared before an assembly of important people of the kingdom and newspeople from around the world. In among them, of course, were the heroes of the day, Crono and Lucca. Behind the Chancellor on the stage stood Marle, looking very pale and drawn.

The Chancellor spoke very quietly and sadly, and there was silence in the audience as he did. “It is a sad day in our kingdom, friends. Last night, despite the best efforts of Dr Levine and all the healing magic Marle could muster, our king, King Guardia XXXIII, died of his wounds. There will be a single day of mourning, and then tomorrow—I would like to make a request that Crono, the young hero of Truce village, lead a small group of his choosing to strike at Medina, and take our vengeance, preferably by destroying the line of Yakra once and for all. Crono, will you accept?”

Crono nodded, once, sharply, and the Chancellor finished his speech. “People of Guardia, I call you to witness.” He brought Marle forward. “The King is dead. Long live the Queen!”


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