Call of Lavos
Author's Warning. This story is rated Triple-I. You must be Incredibly Insane or Idiotic to read the entire thing. This is WEIRD. Please note the capitals in the last sentence. This is not Chrono Trigger fanfiction per se. Rather, I would consider it a transposition of elements from stories done by the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, into the CT universe. A fusion of the two, in other words. You don't even have to have heard of the guy to read this story, but I'll warn you in advance that I'm not even going to try and pass this off as canon.
Though the human mind is a both resourceful and
far-reaching tool, even it too is but a common grain of sand in the vastness
of the far-reaching cosmos. The optimists who would pronounce the inevitable
triumph of the intellect over the universe's innermost secrets. The pessimists
who lament in advance the unavoidable discovery of our own self-destruction.
Ultimately, both fools. The human mind has no grasp of what lies past the horizon of knowledge; outside the grasp of discovery; beyond the barrier of reality. And it was never meant to be otherwise. For even a glimpse of timeless unreality is more than mortal eyes should ever see. The merest touch of the Black Wind is enough to drive men mad.
I have heard the expression that a lunatic will never admit to being mad. Yet what of the one who freely admits her own insanity? Is she still mad? Or does her recognizance indicate some last vestige of remaining sanity? In my final moments, I choose to the believe the latter, for if not altogether driven mad with despair, I am certainly teetering on the very brink of such. And this, I am acutely aware of to the point that my engravings scarcely do justice to the chaotic distortion that my world has become.
Yet I would write nonetheless, stranger. Paradoxically, even as I warn you of the things which I have seen, I would implore the fates to forever hide them from eyes such as yours. Our reality is but a foil for Reality, and if men knew the things which lurk beyond the thin veneer we know as truth, they would be stricken with despair as I am.
Yet in the midst of my madness, I find myself writing this. To whom? To you, stranger, whoever you may be. The red stones upon which my story is set will outlive me, though the period it will survive is but a flicker amongst the eons of time. Read it with care, stranger. You have cursed yourself with knowledge that humanity was never meant to possess, and that knowledge will haunt you to your grave. I only pray that you will live to die. The alternative is far less merciful.
I myself am doomed. The Black Wind howls around me, yet still some baser instinct within myself continues its futile resistance. Clotho no longer spins my thread, Lachesis has determined my demise, yet Atropos disdains to close her sheers and finally sever me from my accursed existence. Perhaps even she has been struck dumb by horrors beyond even her experience.
Whoever may read this, if you lack the sense to ignore these tablets, read them and understand that they are the very hand of a woman who has gone through madness, disembarked upon the other side, and would now return to the madness from whence she came. For reality is but an illusion, yet the illusion is infinitely more comforting than Reality.
Stranger, should you read on, have the grace to see that these tablets are never again discovered again. They are formed of my own magic, born of deeper and darker powers than this world should ever wish to bring to bear, and will hold firm against even the onslaught of time itself. Yet by reading, you surely have condemned yourself to follow in my footsteps. I implore the Fates to see that your demise will be more merciful than mine.
From common blood we are all descended, though I
think it is human desire that it not be so. Whether from a desire from
superiority over another, or from fear of being associated with the same,
a hierarchical existence has long been humanity's fate. From the earliest
primitives to the societies of the future, there will always be a scale upon
which we judge one another. And just as we judge the scales of our ancestors
as inferior, so too shall our own scales undoubtedly be judged by our
Nevertheless, my name shall always be mine, and I shall keep it until my final moment. Firstborn to the woman named Zeal, I am Susanna Schala. Even as I followed in my mother's footsteps, I undertook her journey from an insignificant common person, to a figure of power and reverence to all.
My birth name was Susanna, though few have remembered it. My father chose the name as I left my mother's womb, pronouncing the name with a blessing and a smile as long as he lived. It was only some time after his death that my mother changed it to Schala, saying that my birth- name was wholly inappropriate for the path my life would take. Although she never offered an explanation of why, (and at that point, few saw fit to challenge her decision) with the passing of time I have come to accept and understand my new name. In the Sacred Tongue of Zeal, Schala can be translated to mean either 'set-apart' or 'forsaken'. Though my mother strongly maintained that it meant the former, I have come to understand it to mean both.
My upbringing was strongly two-fold. Birthed in what would later come to be termed 'The Earthbound Village', I was in all respects largely common. My father was what passed for a highly educated man, comparatively knowledgeable in the areas of both medicine and construction. The latter found little use in the caves we inhabited, as the breadth between the rock and our meager tools was vast. But among a largely unskilled population, the former found immense use. Had my father been of a less generous nature, I think he could easily have become the wealthiest man in the village.
As it was, we merely wanted for little, and sought after little more. Despite my young age, he taught me much about the nature of both the world and the people struggling to survive in its cruelly oppressive climate. Even I watched him stand solemnly before a couple who's child had died stillborn, I learned to understand his acceptance of the inevitable. Effort and resources were only wasted when people fought against what must be. Far better to accept what must happen, then continue onwards from that point. At least, that was the explanation he gave when I questioned him.
I was never a child to question my elders, a trait that perhaps never truly left me as I grew older. In that way, I was the polar-opposite to my mother. She was a strong woman, yet managed to avoid being overbearing in the process. An extremely intelligent woman, I often wonder if perhaps even my father's thoughts paled in comparison to what was contemplated within her mind. To be told that I was gifted with my mother's intelligence was a compliment I would wear with no small amount of pride as I grew older.
Yet her wisdom was not immediately obvious to the casual talker. I do not believe even my younger brother truly understood her. As for myself, throughout the years, I have had ample opportunity to learn this in full. It had its root primarily in dissatisfaction. Even as she complained and verbally degraded everyday life in chorus with the other women in the village, she inwardly took it a step further. To her, nothing in the world was inevitable. Obstacles were merely for facing and overcoming through persistence and application of knowledge. Even the harsh and uncaring world was something with the potential to be changed, provided the means were found. Yet all this, she kept to herself, maintaining all the appearance of an ordinary woman living from day to day.
In time, my mother gave birth to a second child, a son. With mutual consent, he was given the name of Janus, meaning 'Persistence' in the common tongue. Though the future would show this meaning to be prophetic, at the time it was merely a virtue that agreed with my both of my parent's divergent philosophies on the world.
Such were my early years as Susanna, a common girl living in what could only be considered a common village, liked and respected as much as a young girl could hope to be. From my parents, I learned to accept the harsh realities of a hostile world, all the while looking for ways in which they could be overcome. It was less than a year after my younger brother's birth, when I was seven years old, that my entire life was changed.
As with so many pivotal events in the history of
our world, it all began with deceptive innocence. Perhaps I may even go so
far as to invoke the word 'mundane' in this case. Though I know all too much
of the ultimate future of the world, the nearer future is a mystery to me
still. Perhaps the oppressive winter may fade away into the memories of the
aged, with the bitter cold an afterimage in the light of a brilliant overhead
sun. I would sometimes dream of such things as a child, though I lacked any
context with which to describe them upon waking again.
As a child, my mother and I would often make small trips when the storms showed signs of letting up. Though I was young, one does not survive without learning to bear one's own weight. Both my father and mother saw to it that I was taught the use of a spear. A crude weapon in nature, but effective enough against the wildlife that occasionally ventured near our village. Typically, the adult men were the first to bring weapons to bear against a threat, but if occasion warranted, almost any person capable of standing could also defend themselves. A necessity in such a hostile environment, it also enabled a certain degree of freedom. With the means to defend, we could venture from our caves when more favorable climate came to pass. It was times such as these that many people looked forward to. As meager and diluted as I now understand it to have been, even the pale overhead sunlight was akin to the breath of the gods for us.
On this fateful day, my parents and I embarked upon a short trip to the south of the cave. There were signs of abundant wildlife traveling in the area, which meant a good chance of being able to secure an animal or two for food. My mother left Janus in the care of a friend, as a one- year infant is hardly an asset during traveling and hunting.
The trip began well. Shortly into the second day, we were able to down an animal for food. My mother prepared it as best she could with what we had on hand, and we ate together. It was a companionable silence, broken only by my own periodic exclamations of delight as I incessantly took in and reveled in the unending space. My father ate quickly, leaving shortly afterwards in hopes that he might take down a second animal to bring back to the village. More would be impossible for us to carry, but a second animal would be manageable. As the weather was uncommonly favorable, my mother was in complete agreement. Even as they bade each other farewell, if only for a short time, I do believe the image of my parents' smiling faces is a memory I will savor forever.
In the meantime, my mother and I constructed a shelter by means of displacing the deep snow in the immediate area into a wall around us, which served to shield us from the ever-present wind, as well as providing an excellent draft to maintain a fire. Though burnable wood was always at a premium back in the village, our present distance made the wood we were burning impractical for use back in the caves. Thus, we felt free to indulge somewhat, to the point where the fire was large enough even to warrant our shedding of several layers of fur.
It was perhaps several hours later that both of us began to worry about my father, who had yet to return to us. Though a courageous man, he had always been cautious and decisive in action. It should not have taken him so long to catch an animal, nor should his pride have kept him from returning in the event of failure. He should not have lost his way, for the lack of airborne snow made his footprints still stand out quite clearly. All in all, there seemed no explanation for his delayed appearance. Though she remained stoic in appearance, I was able to discern that my mother was becoming worried.
Yet she was not a heedless woman. As time passed, it became her decision that my father had found reason to briefly set up camp away from us. Tomorrow would surely see his return, perhaps with food. Though I was but a child, I was able to grasp her logic adequately enough to fall into a peaceful sleep, warmed by the fire.
Perhaps the fire was our downfall. In the barren plains, any source of heat is to be treasured and sought after. At night, light is an elixir of security. A fire, such as the one we presently enjoyed, provided a great deal of both. And our's was found.
I do not believe my mother slept that night, undoubtedly out of concern for my father. But I do believe it saved our lives. At some late hour, I was awakened by my mother's voice, calling out my father's name in a coherent manner that did not suggest mere sleep-speech. Waking quickly, my ears discerned the undisguised approach of an individual.
Though our appearance was far from elegant and sanitary, what our eyes saw in the firelight was truly a visage to repulse the meanest of humans. The eyes were wild, like those of an animal driven mad. The posture was hunched, in such a fashion as I would today equate with a primate. The clothing was but a poor facsimile of the lowest workmanship imaginable, seemingly constructed of random animal hides, worn in what could only be attributed to the inability to fashion them into more practical dress. Clearly shaken by the sight, my mother nevertheless called out a greeting, which the approaching individual did not acknowledge. As the individual grew closer, my mother courageously rose in challenge, though she brought no weapon to bear.
The individual's attack was unfocused, but fierce. Unable to reach her spear in time, my mother was bowled over backwards by the sheer savagery of the assault. I can remember screaming in terror as it pinned her to the ground and began to flail at her with reckless abandon, all the while howling angrily, seemingly mad with rage. I can remember my mother yelling at me, to grab a spear. I can remember scrambling towards my weapon...
To this day, I have yet to believe that what I killed was a rational, intelligent being. Nor did Susanna at the time, for all her seven years of age. Even as I drove my spear through its rib cage, with a strength and purpose beyond my meager years. Even as it slowly weakened and slumped to the ground, its life staining the snow crimson red. Even as it finally gave its last breath and lay still, I do not entirely believe it was a person. Perhaps at one point it may have been... but certainly no longer. To believe otherwise would have degraded humanity below comprehension.
Though my mother was unhurt, save for a few mild abrasions and scratches, it was some time before she recovered her senses enough to tear her eyes away from the cooling corpse before her. Even as the two of us embraced tightly, I can still recall staring at the same cadaver, my spear as yet removed from its body. Even in death, it was a horrific thing to behold, its humanoid appearance still displaying scarcely more humanity than it did in life. Its skin had shrunken across its bones until it seemed scarcely more than a skeleton, provoking wonder that it had lived as long as it had. Yet I still remember one thing to this very day - the eyes. Though the rest of the corpse's appearance remained a bizarre sight to behold, its eyes had reverted to a restful - even peaceful - state. As though I had delivered it from a torturous existence from which death could only be salvation.
I do not know how much time passed before we released each other, but I recall it being my mother who first did. Doing her best to push the sight of the attacker from her field of vision, she rapidly scanned the surroundings, least there be any accompanying attackers. The white fields of snow being the only sight to greet her eyes, she quickly focused upon the attacker's footprints. Although staggered as though made by a drunkard, it could be discerned that in addition to using our firelight, my father's departing footprints had also served as a guide.
This was not a fact that I immediately grasped, but after my mother decided to break camp, it was obvious enough that something was wrong. Even as I donned my layers of clothing and gingerly recovered and cleaned my spear, my mother was rapidly doing likewise. Eating quickly before dousing our fire, we departed quickly, my mother informing me that we were going to follow my father's tracks. Only to warn him, she calmly explained to me as we trudged through the snow. Perhaps it was a good thing she told me this in advance. Otherwise I do not think I would have known whether we were following my father's tracks or those of our attacker.
We traveled for much of the morning, relentlessly
tracking the impressions left by my father on the day previous. Whether it
was by chance or design, my mother seemed to religiously avoid the attacker's
prints, as awkward as the drunken pathway sometimes made the task. When it
finally dawned upon myself that there might be a reason for the attacker's
adherence to my father's path, I asked my mother what she thought. Though
she gave no reply, the look upon her face, coupled with the whitening of
her grip around her spear was enough to dissuade me from pursuing the matter
It was when the sun was cresting in the sky that we finally found a blemish upon the white fields of snow. Up ahead, a small range of hills was becoming visible to our eyes, not unlike those that our village lay beneath. Covered in snow themselves, they barely registered as more than steep uprisings. Yet a faint wisp of smoke was visible, curling lazily upwards from within the hills. Clearly there was more present than immediately met the eye. My first thought was that it was a campsite belonging to my father. Although I have already stated that he was a cautious man, it was not inconceivable that he might have erred in such a way that required him to set up camp for the night away from us. Perhaps my mother agreed too quickly when I suggested this, or perhaps I had inadvertently dangled a thread of hope before her that I should not have.
Regardless, the thread was all but severed upon our finally coming upon the site. Several unidentifiable individuals were huddled in a large circle around something that I could not quite make out. Even as I tried, the faint smell of death began to assail my nostrils. Yet unlike the other times I had inhaled it, I recoiled at once. Intimately familiar to one understanding the event of death as being a necessary prelude to the continuation of life, yet alien to my senses in a way that I can still fail to adequately express. Only upon seeing my mother continue onward did I regain enough courage to move forwards myself. Yet remembering the look on her face now, I wonder whether my mother was being driven on by bravery or something else entirely.
Barely aware of my mother's motioning that I should not get any closer, I followed behind her as she approached the group. It was now that one of them finally grunted something that made the rest turn to face us. They numbered five in total, four upon their feet, one remaining sitting before a small fire. All were misshapen and grotesque in appearance, their connection to our earlier attacker unquestionable even to my infantile mind. Though none possessed weapons, their fits were clenched in a way that could only signify aggression and distrust.
My mother quickly demanded that they identify themselves, making no pretense of hiding her weapon from them. Her demand was met with no response, save for several guttural grunts from the seated individual. Even as the four individuals tensed in a prelude to attack, even as my mother and I quickly surveyed the immediate surroundings, the situation rapidly fell into focus.
Next to the seated individual lay a familiar-looking pack, its contents strewn about the ground. The clothing... the spear... the water-skin... without a doubt, all belonging to my father. And to the other side of the seated individual... fragments of a bare skeleton. To this day, I do not care to speculate on the absence of any other remains, but the manner in which the bones had been cleaned was most certainly beyond the means of any common animal.
The effect on my mother was immediate. Even as she screamed a cry of war, she was charging forwards with her spear leveled for attack. It was with unrestrained ruthlessness and efficiency that she drove into the four individuals who abruptly found their role changed from that of the aggressors to that of the defenders. Even as they futilely struggled to resist their raging attacker, one by one they were impaled or slashed to death. Finally, my mother stood before four motionless corpses, her red-stained spear trained inches from the sitting man's neck. Eyes locked with an intensity that I sensed even from my vantage point, neither moved a muscle nor uttered a single word aloud. The fury behind the mother's eyes waged a silent war with the placid indifference and semi-awareness present in those belonging to the man, growing in intensity until an explosion was certain. When it finally came, a conversation ensued that remains imprinted with crystalline clarity upon my mind to this day.
My mother. "Why?"
The man. "Ph-nglui ar'lknos ruglh't, Lavos wgah'manl fhtagn."
"Btlui nib-tsaeg ksmos, dtr-fhtagn-glr."
"A-segh'mlar, fhduri dtr'el skhala wgah'il fhtagn."
As meaningless as the man's speech was, I could detect something behind his chaotic words. Beneath my clothing, I could feel my hairs begin to stand on end, as though a wind was blowing over my skin, colder than any breeze I had ever felt in my life. My heart began beating faster in my chest, my blood racing through my veins with a fervor that bordered on pain. Even as I tried to command my body to flee, I could see black lines of light begin to gather around the man, though I wondered that my mother did not seem to see them herself. Even as I stared in rapt transfixation upon the man, his words were dancing within my mind in a manner akin to meditation. Images appeared before my eyes unbidden, images of things that I had never seen nor imagined before in my life, yet beheld far too clearly to dismiss as fantasy. Images of a monstrosity that defied description, a scream of rage so terrible it could not be said to belong to any man or animal alive; Scenes of terror and destruction that make my blood run cold to this day; Newfound understanding of a language that felt ancient even to my young mind, ancient beyond mankind itself...
"Ph-nglui ar'lknos ruglh't, Lavos wgah'manl fhtagn."
"Within the center of the land, Lavos lies dreaming," I whispered in response, my throat inexplicably dry.
"Btlui nib-tsaeg ksmos, dtr-fhtagn-glr."
"When the stars are right, He shall rise again."
"A-segh'mlar, fhduri dtr'el skhala wgah'il fhtagn."
"And all shall perish, save for His Chosen who shall live forever."
Upon my translating the third statement, the man suddenly looked at me, fixing me in my spot with his eyes. Gone was the haze and the murkiness from his eyes, now replaced with a piercing darkness that seemed to bore right into my very mind. The next words I spoke were not of my own volition.
"That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die. To horror and pain the world shall awake, when Lavos makes Himself known come the end of the age..."
Even after I spoke these words, the man seemed suddenly to wake up, as though he had been merely talking in his sleep until now. Riveting me in place, he opened his mouth to speak the last words he would ever speak in his mortal life.
"F'skhala-al. Ahl-amehr n'glius ftellosi. Kr'no n'aele at-v'glis..."
Without thinking, I repeated the words in my own tongue. "I am forsaken now. The burden rests upon your soul now. Soon you will welcome death as I do now..."
The man spoke no further words, instead falling forwards into the snow, never stirring again, that black lines around him ceasing and faded from my sight. Almost instinctively, I was next to him, though concern for his well-being was the furthest thing from my mind. Several minutes of clueless searching through the man's meager clothing produced what would seem to have been the object I had been seeking out. Although I could not begin to guess at the reason for its importance...
It was a book. Wrapped loosely in an old animal skin, it was perhaps the finest book I had ever held in my hands up to that moment. Bound in a black cloth, the pages were of a quality I had never before seen, let alone held. The literature, though clearly ancient beyond any stretch of the imagination, remained clear and legible, though the language was so unlike what I knew that it defied logic that I should be capable of reading it at all.
Even as my eyes traveled across the pages with unsated curiosity, I could feel the writing drawing me in further inwards. With comprehension beyond my meager seven years of age, I absorbed the text as fast as I could read it. Most remained beyond my immediate grasp, though I could somehow sense its irrelevancy from the start. Nevertheless, I did not stop my quest to digest the contents of the book to completion, even when my mother called out my name. Her attempts at taking the book from me, I unconsciously avoided, never letting my eyes stray from the object of my attention. Even then, I could sense that I was getting close to what concerned me.
It was then that my mother, disdaining the use of more severe force upon her daughter, instead suggested that I read it aloud. Though not replying, I began to read the cryptic language aloud, my lips straining to properly pronounce the syllables of the language to her. My mother quickly, gently, coaxed me into translating the language so that she could understand it as well. There were portions of the book that chilled me to my bones, that spoke of terrible things beyond what this language could ever adequately convey. All the same, every word imbedded itself within my consciousness with the steadfastness of stone, until I could only read mindlessly on. Though I am adverse to copying the knowledge I read in its entirety, suffice to include the first harmless parts of the chapter.
"...Nor is it to be thought, that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen...
"...But of Their semblance, can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man's truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites...
...Banished by the Elder Gods to a lonely time and space, the bearer of the Black Wind sleeps without end. Far from the sunken city of R'lyeh where His cousin great Cthulhu lies, traversing the stars out of time and space, to lands that none may know. Within the center of the land, Lavos lies dreaming. When the stars are right, He shall rise again and all shall perish, save for His Chosen who shall live forever..."
I continued reading the rest of book, though beyond the mention of the strange being named Lavos, little seemed to make any immediate sense to me. By this time, even my mother had taken a seat next to me, her initial protests at my behavior now forgotten. Indeed, her initial horror at what had taken place, even the loss of her husband and my father, seemed to have been regulated to background knowledge in lieu of what I continued to read to her. The Elder Gods, the Old Ones, the lands, the stars... all meaningless, yet the name Lavos stubbornly continued to burn itself into my mind with a ferocity that defied all logic.
Somehow, the idea that this book could be anything less than the truth never once crossed our minds. Merely holding the book, I could feel faint vestiges of energy, forbidden yet enticing all the time. At the very heart of this book's aged writings, immense power lay, power beyond what imagination could even speculate at. I wonder if my mother grasped this fact even before I did, for when I had finally finished the book, she was quick to coax me into reading it aloud a second time. And a third time. This continued throughout the remainder of the day, even into the night, to the exclusion of all else. Yet my mother did not tire, rather she seemed to grow stronger with every subsequent reading. Slowly, she began to develop a grasp upon the ancient language herself, though it lacked the intuitiveness and fluidity that had been mysteriously bestowed upon my own self. At some point in the night, even as my mother continued to read with a fervor that bordered on obsession, I fell into a sleep rife with dreams.
The dreams that spilled forth were unlike any I
had ever had before, if indeed they were merely dreams at all. Even at the
time, they resonated with an unwelcome truth that I was loath to accept.
I wonder now whether they were perhaps something much more... visions or
prophecies even. It was as though time had simply ceased to exist for me.
Enveloping me was a shadowy mantle of what could only be thought of as a
wind of darkness. I not yet recall having seen myself in any tangible sense,
though my mind seemed aware and sentient in the midst of it all.
Images were presented, as though meant solely for my previewing. Things (Which my imagination had not the slightest inkling of) flashed before me, yet I immediately comprehended what I saw, never once questioning the identity of what was being presented. A strange world, far away in a sense that mere distance could not correlate. A star falling to the ground in a wave of fire and chaos. A vast city in the sky, a paragon of greatness and power that was fated to fall even more spectacularly. A great war being fought between two armies, both unaware of far greater chaos being summoned under the guises of injustice and hatred. A land of peace and celebration, blissfully lying atop thousands of graves, optimistically heading forwards into the future. Indiscriminate destruction, wrought upon an unsuspecting land, on a scale beyond anything ever known before. And finally, an eroding wasteland, slowly devouring any remaining vestiges of life and hope, seemingly determined to make the destruction seamless and complete.
And through it all, a terrible presence lurked in the background, radiating an indifferent malevolence towards it all. The cause of it all, yet at the same time, merely an indifferent observer. The ultimate beneficiary of the carnage, yet strangely enough, doing nothing to encourage it. I could feel its vast wisdom and power coursing through my veins, yet I could feel a methodic gleaning of my own comparatively infinitesimal knowledge. Though its mind held unfathomable secrets of universes beyond my comprehension, it was somehow innocent to my bland and comparatively simple reality. Some fragments of knowledge were familiar to myself, as though seen through the eyes of another person. The endless winter that I had grown up in was already known to it, though the presence seemed to take my own impressions and weigh them with the others. Mundane, everyday things that were habit to me back in the village were taken in as something new and unknown. Whatever else I could say about this presence, it was truly alien to me, both in nature and knowledge.
The focus shifted, until I found our positions reversed, myself now peering into the abyss of the presence's knowledge. Would that I found the greatest artist, the most gifted author, the most fluent speaker, justice could never be done to the things displayed before me. Cities long since built and destroyed, their geometry alien to a mere triad of dimensions; Bizarre beings who moved seamlessly through time itself in their quest to further extend their knowledge; Idiot-gods who thrived through chaos and confusion; Hideous rites dedicated to winged beings of darkness; Wars of such magnitude that the four corners of the world could not have contained the chaos rent in their path...
All this and far more, ancient history for the creature that I could feel now. Banished from a place separated by both distance and planes of reality, it was a survivor in the truest sense of the word. Even now, it was adapting to its new environment at rate that evolution could not possibly do justice to. It grew stronger as the ages passed by, yet was still powerless on its own. Only through dreams could it breach its bindings and reach out to ones such as myself. And through those it made contact with, it had learned to use them to further its own adaptations. Lavos was the name bestowed upon the creature, given by a language inadequate to the task. For Lavos had arrived thousands, perhaps even millions of years past, at a time when simple humanity was but learning to harness the element of fire.
But this situation was not to last forever. The time would come, though countless generations come and pass, when the stars would be right. At this time, through the knowledge contained within the black book, the Chosen would release Lavos from his prison. The Chosen would then live forever through Lavos, even as the psuedo-god vented his rage upon the rest of the world. The Chosen would see that the book and its knowledge was carried down through the generations intact, that there might always be someone prepared for when the stars were right.
And I was now the Chosen.
This revelation was enough shock me from my slumber, gasping to regain my breath. A short distance off, my mother was still awake and reading the black book. Upon realizing that I was awake, she closed the book and gave me her full attention. After receiving assurance that I was both unharmed and awake, the fruits of her nighttime vigil came to light. Though not as intuitively as myself, she now understood what had happened with frightening clarity. Yet she saw it all through a different lens. As she carefully explained it to me, the scope and grandeur of her plan soon become apparent even to my young mind. A considerably different lens indeed.
By the time she had finished explaining, my own mind was all but comatose in response. What she was proposing was full-fledged madness. Even if it succeeded as she planned, it could only result in destruction in the end.
Yet, was not such destruction the ultimate fate of the world in any event? Why should the vice or time matter? The one who would deliver the destruction was both ageless and timeless, able to wait for eternity if need be. In lieu of such, what was the point in prolonging the inevitable? Though my mother only considered that a possibility, I understood better than she. Try as she might to bend Lavos' power towards her own benevolent ends, the power would never truly be her own. And it one day, I would backlash at her with redoubled fury and vengeance. Yet that did not matter. In the end, all would be destroyed nonetheless. In my response to my mother, I was mute, merely nodding my head once as she entreated me to gather our belongings that we might return.
I was all but in a stupor upon once again setting foot within the caves we knew as home. Had I been drugged into submission for medicinal purposes, I think I might have been more coherent and aware than I was then. Even as the villagers gave shouts and joy upon seeing us, I could vaguely hear my mother clearing her throat. Even as I saw traces of the blackness begin to gather around many of the villagers, I could see my mother beckoning them to hear what she had to say to them. They were words that would signify the end of one age, and the dawning of another.
"All who would end this winter of death and live forever... Follow me!!!"
The founding of the kingdom of Zeal... is it not
recorded in the annals of Zeal itself? Then I need not elaborate here. The
kingdom was built in the sky, a monument to a people who would not allow
themselves to merely die out passively. Faithfully trusting in and rallying
behind my mother, they focused their efforts into creating a bastion of safety
and greatness in which none wanted for anything.
Mere writing cannot adequately describe the grandeur of the kingdom, floating above the clouds like a goddess upon her ethereal chariot. The polished ivory buildings that caught the sunlight as only the finest of stone could, a burning bonfire to a people raised to treasure the sight of their own sun-cast shadows. The waterfalls that cascaded over the precipices, looking like nothing so much as silver-blue ribbons adorning the sides of the kingdom, before heeding the call of gravity and falling away into oblivion. The libraries of Kajar, a city of learners who anxiously sought to know more of their reality, though never understanding how little they would ever learn. The black-pearl and golden hallways of Enhasa, the city for dreamers who were loath to suffer utopia, instead striving to mimic the fathomless sleep of Lavos. The Blackbird, a machine to defy even the base force of gravity, held aloft through a combination of science and raw power. The Mammon Machine, harnessing the residual power of Lavos that Zeal so eagerly consumed. And the palace itself, an everlasting monument to the paradise borne of, the people believed, nothing less than their own sheer tenacity.
If darkness could throw shadows, they would be of light. And this light was all the citizens of Zeal ever truly understood, seeing but the shadow of the truth behind their city. I cannot begrudge them this, for even my younger brother could not see everything. He could feel the Black Wind as it whispered quietly in his ears, heralding the death of those who sated Lavos' appetite, but he could never truly understand as I did. My mother heard and understood, though I wonder whether she even cared in the end. Perhaps she was originally able to justify it for the good of the many, but as I continued to watch her steadfastly ignore it, my faith in such an explanation soon faded into nothingness.
It was at the age of ten that my mother, before an audience of the people of Zeal, declared that my name would be changed to Schala. 'Set apart' it meant, in the ancient tongue I now knew so well. For all her efforts, my mother informed her subjects, it was me who would ultimately bestow the final gift of eternal life upon them all. It was at the point I think, that I finally understood and became resigned to my fate. For all the trivial events and random happenings throughout history, certain things were inevitable in the end. As great as Zeal might become, as high as any future civilization might rise, there would come a time when they would all learn to whisper the name of Lavos in fear and horror. With the inevitability of time itself, Lavos would awaken and all world would perish in the ensuing wake of violence and destruction.
And I, His Chosen, would be in the center of it all.
That I endured this revelation as long as I did is perhaps a miracle in itself. Certainly, I tried many things to distance myself from the touch of the Black Wind and what it foreboded. I familiarized myself with all that the library at Kajar had to offer, but could find nothing that I did not already know, for I understood Lavos' nature far beyond what mere researchers and scientists ever would. I flew the skies aboard the Blackbird, as though I might somehow distance myself enough from Lavos, but succeeded in little but silently cursing the spherical nature of the world. I tried to lose myself at Enhasa, but awoke in a cold sweat, screaming alien syllables that none could later manage to repeat. Standing enthralled in the power the Mammon Machine unceasingly emitted, I could almost feel the cares of my troubled existence fall away, but such Elysium could be nothing but short-lived for my fragile human body.
As a last resort, I would oft times venture across the barren plains of snow, to walk amongst the village of the Earthbound. It was there that I was able to gain some small measure of relief. Away from the palace, from the Mammon Machine, and from mindless paradise the Enlightened Ones all embodied. For all their hardships and crude means of surviving, the Earthbound people possessed a contentment that I envied. Not in the sense an Enlightened One would understand, but in a way that I could both remember and wish for once again. Perhaps they sensed this envy, or perhaps they were simply kind in a way that I have since forgotten, but they seemed to look with fondness upon me. Even as I basked in the innocent affections of their young ones, I would speak half-truths to their faces and tell them that there was no distinction between Earthbound and Enlightened. I do not think they would have believed me had they realized how desperately I, an Enlightened one, wished to trade places with Earthbound ones such as them. It was all I could do to avoid retaliating against those who wished to be in my place, but I could see the envy many of them had for me. Perhaps my brother Janus was right be scornful of Enlightened and Earthbound alike.
Remember all this, and remember that however history may treat the people of Zeal, the true blame lies squarely on the shoulders of my mother for leading them thus. And even more so, on my own, for not having tried to stop everything before it even began. As hopeless an attempt as it may have been to fight the inevitable march of time and That which is timeless...
...I never even tried.
I am alone now, no longer within the Ocean Palace,
left with the thoughts of Lavos' and myself. Lavos has come, if only for
a brief time, yet that was more than adequate to bury Zeal in ashes and rubble.
Though I had anticipated - even hoped for - my death in the destruction of
the palace, it appears that Lavos' Chosen was indeed meant to live forever.
As for where I am now, I can only speculate. The five senses which have always
led me, I cannot bring myself to trust any longer, though the only logical
alternative is to consider myself blind.
I am not dead, of that much I am certain, but of little else. Even these tablets that I have etched my story upon may be but a figment of madness. Yet as I read them over repeatedly, I find that I doubt nothing they say thus far, which gives me hope that what I believe happened was not merely an illusion.
What is my ultimate fate to be? Without knowledge of where or when I am, I can only speculate. If Lavos' Chosen is truly to live forever, I can see no foreseeable change in the future. Whether the future is even a meaningful term, I cannot even be certain, as the creature known as Lavos is not one for whom time has any meaning. Past, present and future are as one for it, and even as I unwillingly partake in its unceasing dreams, they are made known to me as well.
I can see a group of people as they pass through Lavos' tears in the fabric of time, desperately struggling to effect a change to the future they know is otherwise inevitable. Crono, Lucca, Marle, Glenn, Robo, Ayla... I talked with them at one point, though I entertained little true hope of their success. Strong of spirit but weak in knowledge, it would have been futile to try and dissuade them from their path. Though it was for naught, blocking them from my era had been the best I could do to allow them chance at a natural lifespan. Try though they might, they would surely learn one day how little they understood. I can only hope they may derive some sense of contentment from their struggle, the one that I was too weak to bring forth myself.
I can see my younger brother, Janus, growing up in a vastly different world. I can see him finally turning his bitterness towards a purpose, futile though it proved to be in the end. Like the others, he too refuses to accept the inevitable, no matter how great the odds against. Though I was aware of his disguise from the start, I chose not to deny him his efforts at revenge, for I denied him altogether too much as he grew up. Though my heart ached painfully for him as we grew up together, I would endure this for eternity in lieu of subjecting him in my place. As may well be my fate. In the very end at least, I granted him a chance to make his stand against that which destroyed our family.
I can see my mother, the woman who somehow faded from existence, to be replaced with a queen in her likeness. Betrayed by the black book which she never once relinquished after that fateful first day, she did her utmost to twist the translated words towards her own ends. Despite my protests, she would never accept the truth behind the translations of the ancient writings, which proved to be her ultimate downfall. I understood the meaning behind the writings, unobscured by decryption and spoken words. Where she saw hope and the potential for changing the world for the better, I understood from the beginning that nothing good could possibly come from Lavos.
As for why I did not try harder to stop everything... perhaps it was because it never mattered in the end. One day, though the day might be many years in the future, the stars will once again be right, and Lavos will be awakened from his slumber to wreck havoc upon the world. When that happens, all will perish, save for his Chosen, myself. Though I yearn for it to be otherwise, I will never die as long as Lavos himself continues to live. How long will it be before I finally go insane from languishing in eternity, continually witnessing the horror and desecration inflicted by Lavos?
I cannot say. Though I am privy to Lavos' memories, though time is scarcely meaningful to me any longer, the future becomes blurry past a point. I can see Crono and his friends, along with my brother, still driving forwards with a persistence that defies all logic and probability. Though the exact time is uncertain, at some point they will surely make their final stand against the monstrosity. To fight against that which is both timeless and all powerful? I foresee no victory on their part. But neither can I foresee failure. And this gives me a spark of hope to look towards and grasp. Not too tightly, for to see it ultimately extinguished would be more than I could bear.
But I can dream...
This little avant-grade story was the product of getting a lot of positive feedback from my first CT fanfic 'Bitterness and Obsession', coupled with reading a bunch of stories by the author H.P. Lovecraft, all after reading a few other excellent pieces of fanfiction fused together with H.P. Lovecraft's writing. Somehow - without the aid of drugs/alcohol - it occurred to me that Lavos fit surprisingly well into a number of the stories he wrote. You don't actually have to have read anything by him to make sense of this story, but if you have, you might notice a few elements from Lovecraft's stories 'Call of the Cthulhu' and 'The Shadow Out of Time', as well as exerpts from 'The Dunwich Horror'.
So how _did_ the Kingdom of Zeal start? No, I don't think it started like _this_. But I don't believe that the question is really answered in the game. You have Ayla & other primates in the Stone Age, about to enter an ice age... and then you've suddenly got a two-tiered caste system complete with all-powerful ruler who has somehow learned a way of harnessing the power of Lavos. You think something happened in between? Who can say?
This author would like to thank Dawn Wilkins and various Stabbing Westward albums, for respectively keeping the story from getting too weird and keeping it from getting too normal. And all those people who emailed me after my first CT fanfic and suggesting I give it another go. This is what you get for your trouble. Until next time.