You've Come A Long Way, Baby Chapter 4

By Imrahil

The waves crashed against the side of the enormous sea vessel, causing a spray of sea water to hit the King precisely in the face. The King closed his eyes tightly and ground his teeth together. He used his robe to wipe most of the salty water off of himself. He quickly looked around to see if anyone had noticed, and seeing no one else on the deck, he stepped back from the railing and continued to watch the horizon.

He was quite upset, but showed no signs of his inner turmoil. His daughter, the only one left to continue the Guardia family line, showed no signs of wanting to get married. They had just come from Choras, where they had met his daughter’s betrothed, the prince of Choras. The King admitted to himself that the fellow had been quite gangly. And rather unsightly. And spoiled, conceited, arrogant…the boy was as repugnant as royalty can become. But he was royalty; the only other royal family in all the known world. And the betrothal had been arranged for decades.

“She had no right!” The King hit his fist against the railing, which he had walked close to once again. He shook his head as he saw the images of his daughter laughing out loud at the prince when they had first arrived.

“This – this is my husband?” She had almost toppled over in laughter. The prince had turned red and run back up the grand flight of stairs he had paraded down only a moment before. The King and Queen of Choras were outraged. It had taken three days to convince them that his daughter was sick from the long trip. So they arranged to have a grand feast to celebrate the betrothal, and hopefully fix the problems which had arisen due to his daughter’s outburst.

The dinner had started quite well; his daughter behaved herself, and the prince maintained his dignity. The King had been conversing with the other monarchs, when he heard his daughter slap the prince. Apparently, the prince had whispered something disrespectful to the princess, and she was rather angry.

“Who does this – this dolt think he is? I will never marry you, and certainly not spend the night in your room!” She shot up from the table and stormed out of the room.

The King of Choras had stood up. “That is all the offense I will take. You may stay here until your boat comes back, but from now on, your kingdom and my kingdom are no longer allies!”

King Guardia couldn’t argue. The boat came a week later, and they were on their way back home. The King was shamed, but his daughter seemed to be quite content with the situation.

“We don’t need allies, father. There are no wars!” she had said laughingly.

She would never understand. Trade was very important these days, and since there was a lack of iron and other metals in the Kingdom of Guardia, there was heavy dependence on Choras to provide the alloys needed. The relationship between the two kingdoms had been poor for centuries, and the betrothal was supposed to finally bring the two empires together forever.

But, now, of course, this dream was unattainable.

The King saw seagulls flying overhead. They were very close to approaching land. He could see the reception at Porre now. Crowds of people flocking to glimpse royalty. His daughter greeting her offensive friends.

The King sighed. He had tried his best to drive a stake in the relationship between his daughter and her pauper friends, but he had been unsuccessful. He knew that since his last effort hadn’t worked, his daughter would probably want to marry that spiky-haired boy who had helped clear the King’s name in that long-forgotten trial…

The King had resisted this thought before, but he now accepted it, with an almost content feeling. The boy had helped save the world, supposedly. Perhaps he was as close to royalty as a pauper could get. In fact, the King had thought about making him a knight, even though such rituals hadn’t been used in centuries.

“Father! The captain says we’re almost home!” Princess Nadia appeared behind the King.

“You love that…Crono…don’t you? The King stared wistfully at the horizon.

The words completely surprised Marle. “Father? Why are you asking me that?”

“I know the prince wasn’t exactly…what you want in a husband, but I think the reason you didn't give him a chance is because…your heart belongs to another.” The King remained staring at a fixed point in the distance.

“Father, the prince was horrid. No one in their right mind would spend more than a day with him. Besides, I don’t think marrying him is what mother would want for me.” Marle stood beside her father now, also scanning the ocean.

“Yes, he was a rather hideous abnormality, wasn’t he?” The King looked at his daughter with a large smile.

Marle looked back at the King, laughing. “I could think of a couple of worse terms for him, father.”

“And I could as well. Forgive me, Nadia, I was only trying to do what was best for the kingdom.”

“I know father, I know.” They stood there for a moment watching the horizon transform into the familiar coastline of Porre.

“I’ve decided to knight your friend, Crono. Then it will be official.” The King had his wistful look again.

“Father! Crono and I haven’t talked about…love…or marriage. We’re not ready!” Marle responded quickly.

“Even so, he deserves a title like that. That and more, if he has done half of what you tell me.” The docks were visible now. They were almost at the Porre harbor.

“Well, if you’re going to knight Crono, you’re going to have to knight Lucca, too.” Marle said.

“Alright. Her father is Taban, correct? He is a good advisor.” The boat finally docked. “We’re a few hours early, but I’m sure the crowds will be here soon.”

“Wha…?” Marle thought she saw a familiar figure leaning against a post of the docks. It almost looked like…

“Let’s go, daughter. If we hurry, we may miss the crowds altogether.” The King gently grasped Marle’s arm and they followed the group of royal soldiers who were disembarking.

Marle was getting closer to the figure. It was definitely Magus. She stared at him wide-eyed as she walked past. He didn’t say a word. In fact, he seemed to be deep in thought. She didn’t know what she would have said to him, anyway.

When the royal troop had marched completely past Magus, Marle heard him shout from behind them.

“The other two are almost here, Nadia. You may want to stay for a little while.” His voice was loud, but didn’t sound strained like most people’s voices get when they yell.

The escort stopped, and the King looked back at Magus, who was now standing in the center of the dock, cross-armed. The King looked at Marle with a puzzled expression.

“It’s alright, father, I’ll only be a little while.” Marle touched her father’s arm.

If there was one thing he had learned from past experiences, it was that his daughter could take care of herself. He nodded to his daughter, and then to the soldiers, and they all continued on their way. Marle walked back to where Magus was standing.

“Magus, I must say I’m surprised to see that you’re part of the welcoming crowd,” Marle spoke with obvious nervousness.

“Oh, there won’t be a crowd this afternoon. Everyone here seems to be a little…too tired to receive you.” He nudged a snoring dockhand who was leaning against a post.

“You…made them sleep?”

“Just for a moment. I hate crowds, you know.” Magus half-grinned in a way that startled Marle.

“Right…you said Lucca and Crono were coming soon?”

“They’ll be here in about five minutes. You are early, you know.”

“Yeah, we didn’t stay long. So when did you…arrive here?” Marle kept looking down the docks, hoping her friends would arrive soon.

“Oh, a little while ago.” Magus turned his head towards the sea, and said no more.

Marle waited as long as she could, and finally broke the tension with a question. “So, did you ever find Schala?”

Magus snapped his head back to Marle with an extremely angry expression. The hostility quickly melted away, however, and Magus became his usual indifferent self. He looked at Marle for a moment, and then turned back to the ocean. Marle decided to keep quiet until Crono and Lucca arrived.

Ten minutes of excruciating tedium ensued. Marle sat at the other side of the dock while Magus stayed where he was. Both were silent throughout the awkward moments, and they were both overjoyed when Crono and Lucca finally came.

Of course, the newcomers looked completely mystified when spotting Magus leaning on a dock post.

“Magus, is that you?” Lucca lifted up her glasses to see Magus more clearly.

“How did you get here? Taban said you have to rest!” Crono was walking very quickly towards the mage.

Magus calmly turned his head in the newcomers’ direction, but said nothing. Marle got up and ran over to her two friends.

“Crono! Lucca! It’s so good to see you! I’ve missed you so much!” The two friends hadn’t seen Marle yet, and were quite surprised to see her appear from behind a dock post.

“Marle –!?” Crono was cut short as Marle put her arms around him.

“When did you get here, Marle?” Lucca was just as surprised as Crono.

“We just got here a second ago. We had to leave Choras a few hours early.” Marle pulled herself off of Crono. “Any idea why Mr. Happy is here?”

“I was just about to find out myself.” Crono continued walking toward Magus. “So, I guess you really weren’t as weak as Taban thought, eh?”

“True. He is an incompetent, like I said before.” Magus said this as he examined his gloved hand.

“Did I miss something?” Marle’s expression changed from joy to one of confusion. “That’s enough Magus! He and I are responsible for saving your life!” Lucca had her fists clenched at her sides, and an angry expression on her face.

Magus shrugged, and Marle interjected again. “What happened to him? Someone talk to me!”

Crono turned to Magus. “Only he really knows. Can you remember what happened, now, Magus?”

“No, he doesn’t remember. He used magic to heal himself, so he still hasn’t had enough time to recover his memories,” Lucca said, cross-armed.

“If someone does not explain what is going on, I am going to have you all arrested!” Marle jumped between Crono and Lucca, and Magus.

“Alright, alright. Well, this is what happened, I guess…” Crono recounted every event that had occurred since Magus’ arrival ten days ago. Lucca helped to explain what had been done to Magus and why, of course. “And we have no idea why he’s here. And he doesn’t know, either.”

“It is as if the memories unfolded before me as you told the story. I remember everything…except why I’m here…” Magus was holding his head in his hands.

“Don’t worry, the memories will come back, you’ll just have to wait.” Lucca touched Magus’ shoulder comfortingly.

“Wow. What could have done that to you, Magus?” Marle looked overwhelmed.

Magus looked up at her. “Believe me, I wish I knew. It is just that…everything is a blur before I arrived here, in this time. But I must remember, now!”

“Let’s all go back to my house, and we can talk about this there,” Crono said. The four said nothing else, and they walked the path to Crono’s house silently. Every once in a while, Lucca would look over at Magus, about to say something, but always stopped herself.

The group finally reached Crono’s house. Unfortunately, it seemed to be covered in flames.


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