Doom of Guardia: The Great Fire

By Kay

An anguished, spine-chilling wail sliced through stillness of the night.

The horizon glowed - brilliant, flickering, and yellow. Every mountain, hill, tree, and stone was tainted with red. Heat waves writhed above the ground, and the stars appeared to shimmer as though they were underwater. There was not a cloud in the dark, otherwise beautiful sky. Great plumes of smoke billowed up from the scorching land, and curled in soft tendrils around a full moon.

Sitting among the ruins of Leene Square - a place that had held countless festivals and fairs for the past 400 years - knelt the princess of Guardia, doubled over and racking with sobs. She howled and screamed, hardly able to believe that what she saw was more than a bad dream. She expected to wake up any moment. Yet, she knew, deep in her heart, that the raging fire consuming her kingdom was truly there. It was all real...and she was powerless to stop it. Marle no longer belonged to that world - she could not touch, or be heard, or alter anything. She could only watch and suffer.

And she was alone - terribly alone. No one was there to comfort her, as she sat amongst the cracked earth and rubble of her beloved square. Silvery tears flowed down her cheeks, and dripped onto her ethereal white dress. She had returned to her purest, most innocent form - a child, almost an infant. Perhaps this was fitting, because she wailed, unashamed, in the way that only child would seem suitable, or even graceful, doing.

Marle felt she must be in hell, although she couldn't fathom why. She had lived a dedicated, meaningful life. She had saved the world, hadn't she? Why was she being punished? She cried harder - for the loss of her kingdom, and with self-pity. She wondered where her friends were. Especially Crono. She vaguely remembered him being beside her when she woke up and found their bedroom ablaze. Fate had kept both of them asleep for too long. The canopy above them was melting, dripping flames onto their sheets. The smoke and merciless heat made her feel confused, sleepy. The princess didn't try to get out of bed. She lay back down on the charred pillows and curled up next to the sleeping form beside her. She thought it was all a dream. Could he have lived? It seemed impossible. Where could he be, now?

The princess choked bitterly. She sucked in a breath, preparing to fill the forsaken square with another mournful cry, when she felt a light, feathery touch on her shoulder.

It was the spirit of young Lucca. She had tears in her eyes.

Don't try to speak, Marle. There are no words...for what you must feel...

Marle looked up at her beloved friend, and was filled with the profoundest joy, knowing there was someone else, someone to be there with her. Yet, at almost the same instant, her joy vanished, realizing that Lucca had lost her life too. The inventor would not create anything for the world, ever again. The princess shook her head. It was too painful to bear. She wondered, if she had been alive, how she would have survived the horror. She shakily pushed herself off the ground and embraced her friend.

Lucca, what's going on? What has happened to us? Where is...Crono?

Lucca silently held her friend, knowing that the tormented princess did not really expect answers to her questions. She grimly reflected on recollections she had when she and her friends went, for the first time, to the future. There had been no Guardia. Somehow, over the course of time, she guessed, the monarchy had grown insufficient, and ceased to govern the countries. Lucca never imagined that now would be the end. She never thought the spirited Marle would be the last heir. Lucca cringed. The princess might not recover from this. She will never be as cheerful and bouncy as she used to be. She felt the quivering body of her friend, and held her tighter. Suddenly, an image of her flaming home flashed before her eyes. All the children it had provided a shelter for. The mysterious, yet pitiable baby she had found one day while walking in the woods. What would they do, if they survived? And...where was Crono?

Do you think...Crono went to a better place, Lucca?

Marle asked her, mirroring Lucca's own thoughts.

I know...he......didn't live...

The inventor shook her head.

I think we must be here for a reason, Marle...

Marle looked at her, seeming to contemplate what Lucca said. She sniffled, then slowly turned around and sat down. Lucca crossed her legs and lowered herself next to her. Both watched the phenomenon on the horizon - terrified, bewildered, and mesmerized all at once. The princess continued to whimper softly. Lucca could only imagine how she felt...

They sat that way, next to each other, fixated on the burning countryside, for a very long time. The stars began to disappear, and the lightest hint of dawn was glowing to the east. It seemed blasphemous that the sun should rise again, on such a terrible day. Yet, such was the way of things. The smoke clouds had spread across the sky, and would muffle the sun's healing light for a while. Then, if there were any survivors, they would tend to their wounds and rebuild. Life would go on. But, what of Marle and Lucca? Were they to haunt the ruined plaza...forever?

Then, at last, the shimmering glow of another presence appeared behind the two girls. They both looked up at once, and even though the girls knew what had to have happened for Crono to be there with them, they gave the lightest of smiles, welcoming him. The boy looked to his best friend and smiled sympathetically. Then, he knelt by the princess, and held out his arms. She gratefully climbed into his embrace. He was sorry he could not be there for her from the beginning. His heart contracted when he thought about how frightened and alone she must have felt.

Crono settled into a sitting position, and calmly stared at the horizon. It was true, they had died, but he was sure fate had one last thing in store for them. He had spent the night trying to guide a young boy through Lucca's house, in hopes to save the children Lucca adopted. The dark-haired boy could not see or hear him, yet Crono pulled him into various rooms. The youth would have thought he was guided by his own intuition, when really, it was the silent spirit of Crono. Once he safely saw out all the surviving children, and the boy began to carry the last girl out, he disappeared into the night - to find his friends.

And here they were, all together.

He looked down at Marle, and petted the princess' light, curly hair. It made him overwhelmingly sad that she would never be queen. She would have been spectacular. least she was here, safe with him. Safe from the horror, at last.

Marle wrapped her tiny arms around his shoulders, and said soundlessly,

I love you, Crono...and Lucca...

We love you too, Marle... she replied.

Yes, came Crono's thoughts. Silent, but louder than they'd ever been. The girls looked up at him wonderingly. Marle smiled, and kissed him on the cheek. He smiled back at her, and continued:

Now, We have to wait... Someone will come. We must tell him everything. He will look after the world, once we are finally gone...

...And the three children sat, before the once-beautiful bell of the square, comforted by their togetherness and the thought of one last duty. The thought that someone would take their place. They would be patient.

The last of their destiny was soon to be fulfilled.

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