Come on, son! Try for the goal!
He used to love to play soccer with his father. Of course, back then it was a much more primitive version of football, but he and his two brothers would spend hours with their sire in the fields, kicking the dense hide-covered ball back and forth. Had his school hosted a team, he would have surely played. Had professional athletics existed then, he would have surely made a vocation out of it.
But circumstances dictate ones course of action, and he found the latter thought playing in the back of his mind as he watched the oddly familiar man usher the two young girls up to him. A face entered his conscious, a face he knew from the past, an untouchable soul that all who knew her revered; she resembled one of the two before him. Blonde locks of royalty swayed as the girl and her companion regarded him. An instant stretched into an eternity as he fell back, through the mists of history, to his youth.
His modest one-room school, dilapidated as it was, felt more lively when he was entertaining his peers. Gaining a reputation as a prankster was simple for the boy, yet he never could keep his energy up when he was not telling a joke or fooling his classmates or his teacher. Hours upon hours of lessons could not hold back his desire to amuse his friends; it had become like a necessity. The occasional whippings were worth the invigoration that overtook him at the sight of another victim falling prey to his somewhat odd sense of humor.
The hijinks ended forever one night, however. A smashed door, a broken table, a trodden candle, and the bloodied corpse of his mother were the only traces left after they came to get him and all five of his siblings. He would never see his home again, in all the years that he managed to live.
Perhaps it was better that he never got to go home again. Going home would have meant witnessing the spiral of depression that ultimately took his fathers life some years later. The patriarch never recovered after coming home to find what the Mystics had done to his family.
It was clear that these were not the ordinary visitors he received, if only evident by the third party. He kept his tongue silent as the man joined the two comrades in front of him. They looked at him with no visible reaction whatsoever, but it was the mans lack of a reaction that had the most profound effect on him. Even after all this time it had to be that the man recognized him, or rather what he was, but made no effort to convey that point. In fact, the man remained uncomfortably silent and reserved as the other two spoke.
He was used to making no admission of his own thoughts, so he as well gave no hint that he recognized the man. The man had to be who he thought he was; the vacant eyes, the soulless expression, the very demeanor screamed out the mans true identity. Yet he chose not to say anything to the third party, or even give in to the emotional realization of who the man was.
Daytime was not the proper occasion to allow his thoughts to come to light; his nightmares gave him more than enough opportunity to ponder what his life had become, and how it had become that way. Sleep had been the only vestige of an ordinary human life that he had left to him, and it was bittersweet to want to engage in it yet fear it at the same time, for sleep meant witnessing his life over and over again.
Sometimes the images would present themselves more than once per night. The dank, mossy cell in which he had been kept; the shackles that grinded poisonous rust into his skin; the rough magicians and scientists who kept him alive for their own purposes despite his illnesses and wounds. There had been times when he screamed out for them to let him die, but those pleas always fell to deaf ears. They were exceptionally good at ignoring everything he said, and treating him like an experimental subject, which was precisely what he was.
Since no mirrors were present within the facility, he had no idea what he looked like throughout the various stages of that experimentation. One night, when even the moon chose to hide behind the horizon, he awoke from his terrified slumber to see a pair of creatures dragging a body through the hallway. Torches danced maliciously, and he could barely see the figure. Judging by the size and color of its hair, it could have been one of his younger sisters, but any other humanlike features the body may have had were twisted and distorted such that his eyes froze in shock. He chose at that point never to speak to his tormenters again, lest his sisters name slip out of his mouth and they tell him what they did to her. He never found out what did happen to his family, and to that day he forced himself not to wonder. As far as he was concerned, they were all dead, and he may as well join them, for everything human he once knew had been taken from him.
In fact, the one truly desirable thing that he got out of his experience-- if calling it an experience could lessen the anguish that gripped his psyche-- was the impeccable control he acquired over his mind and emotions. Horrified screams from a young boy wanting to die had to be stifled if he was to maintain his sanity through the torture. Most of his bodily functions had been altered or completely eradicated as part of the experimentation, replaced by alien abilities and methods of action, and his shape as he once knew it was warped forever. The only thing he had left that could deign him human was his mind, but the effects of the Mystics treatments had battered his emotions so much that the only way he could maintain his reason was to keep everything in the back of his awareness, just out of reach of his consciousness. In time this practice became less and less of an effort for him, and after he acquired his freedom much later he managed to assume an impeccable outward composure for the years that ensued.
And the years were may. He saw generation span before him, and entire families rise to prominence and fade away. Apparently, part of the Mystics plan was to make him independent of the same forces that had previously governed his life. Hunger, fatigue, and physical damage could only be regarded abstractly for him; it had literally been ages since he had felt any of them. His only crutch was sleep, for his mind determined that it needed to rest in order to keep him levelheaded. Thus, he surrendered himself periodically to the seizure of memory that brought all the horror back to his eyes.
The tools, the incantations, the pain that he once felt existed almost corporeally in his mind, trying to push him to the brink of his wits. It all felt as real as it had when it happened, but he forced himself to endure it so that he could wake each morning and be able to function in the place he had carved for himself in the world.
He remembered the singular moment when he had tried to look at himself. It was but a few days before the destruction of the Mystics castle. Filled with terror, he turned his head downward and glanced at his form. What struck him the most was the delayed reaction he felt after viewing what was left of his former self. The remnants of his original body met his eyes and he almost did not seize in terror. It was as if he was not instinctively surprised at what he had been turned into, as if he knew what he was all along.
Some years afterward he made himself look for a mirror so he could see his visage, or whatever had taken its place. Again, his lack of an immediate reaction was the most shocking thing to him, but by this time he had expected that this would happen. The few souls who had seen him previously offered similar reactions; alarmed, initially fearful, and almost amused expressions danced through his head, and he always greeted them in kind. Maybe the humor in him had not completely left.
Still, as he looked over the trio assembled before him, he remembered all that had occurred, all that he had become, and all that he had done with himself. His mind faded back to the present when they finished speaking to him, offering no fear or pity in their voices. Notwithstanding, he had grown accustomed not to expect sympathy from anybody. The problems of the self always seem to take precedent over the matters of another, at least as far as he knew others to behave.
There was something about their request, however, that struck him profoundly. It was very somehow not what a regular visitor would want. It was as if they knew him, and truly knew what he was capable of doing. They didnt want some tired illusion or haphazard trick of the eye; their request was real. A whisper in the back of his mind wordlessly told him that there was significance in what they wanted. He thought better than to assume that helping them-- that helping anybody, for that matter-- could somehow justify all that had happened to him, but if he knew nothing else he knew that a deed done could never be denied, no matter what the impact.
As he raised his eyes for a moment to the second young lady, a pair of spectacles caught his orb, and, upon seeing himself reflected back through them, a miasma of thoughts dashed through his brain as the torches around him danced languidly.
His many siblings; the abusive Mystic guards; the painful treatments; the centuries of existence as a creature not of any imagination but that of a wizard; the very image of his face through a mirror. Things that played on his mind endlessly once again surrounded his psyche and threatened to crush him. Yet his will had merely to suppress the thoughts as effortlessly as one would scratch an itch. There was no bitterness to feel towards the outside world; there was no use for it. As he had grown accustomed to doing for visitors, he smiled wryly, and betrayed no sentiment as he said:
So, you want a Crono Clone? Normally Id never do this, but today Ill make an exception
He used to love to play soccer with his father.
Factum est illud, fieri infectum non potest.
Done is done, it cannot be made undone.
(from Aulularia by Plautus)
Notes on Reflection
This isnt an attempt to patronize the reader, but Ill clarify the entire story for the record; youve just explored the mind of Norstein Bekkler, whose life began as a small boy in a family of eight around the year 600 or so and ended up as a synthetic Mystic with nothing left to him but his memories. I wanted to take a character and give an entire history behind him/her, and I feel that Bekkler was one of the most ignored characters in the CT universe. He must have some history, because he is a magician (as Belthasar points out in the game) living in a world where Magic had long been outlawed among humans. He obviously isnt human, but I figured he must have some sort of tie to humanity. Hence the formerly human aspect of his existence.
As Marle, Lucca, and Magus enter Bekklers tent at the Millennial Fair to ask for a clone of Crono, he recognizes Marles resemblance to Queen Leene and starts thinking about his youth in the Middle Ages. After he distinguishes Magus as a Mystic (if not their very leader), he recalls what it was like to be a subject of their experimentation into creating Magic-wielding soldiers out of human beings. Finally, seeing his face reflected in Luccas glasses serves as kind of a reminder that he is still a very real being, and can still act without falling prey to his memories.
Overall, I wanted to paint a portrait of a character who, while appearing stable on the outside, was racked with emotions and visions of the past. This story took a lot of revisions, and over half a year to perfect. I tried not to let it ramble on too long, since it was my intention to keep the subject a secret until the second to last line.
I'd like to thank Nightsong of the Fantasy Finale Arts Association for proofreading this and giving me his input; I couldn't have done it without a well-read critic. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and rest assured that Norstein Bekkler will not fade back into obscurity before Im done writing all of the fiction Ive planned. Thank you for reading my work.