The Sentinel Chapter 1
Winter In Guardia
Sunlight streamed over the floor of Lucca's bedroom from her nearby window. The young inventor was sitting at her desk - head propped up by the heal of her hand, jaw relaxed - as she gaped absent-mindedly at the view outside. A few inches of snow layered the small island where she lived and blanketed the rest of the land for as far as she could see. The sunlight, although warming her room, would not melt the snow. It was the beginning of winter for the kingdom of Guardia. Abruptly breaking out of her daze, Lucca returned her focus to what she had been working on since morning. Her right arm was positioned over a notebook. Pen in hand, she noticed she had not lifted it off the paper and a dark splotch was forming over her last mark, much to her annoyance. She was writing the final copy of the epic adventure she and her friends carried out almost half a year ago. Lucca had only written to where her friend Marle was mistaken for her ancestor, Queen Leene, after she fell through a time gate to four hundred years in the past. The aspiring genius was anxious to get to the more exciting, scientifically baffling parts of the story where she could begin to discuss her theories. Lucca finished her last thought just as she heard heavy footsteps walk up to her door and turn the knob.
"Who's-" she started, turning herself around, but cut herself off when she saw the form of Crono shut the door behind him.
Her spiky -haired friend smiled pleasantly at her, his cheeks still flushed from the long, chilly walk to her home.
"Hey, Crono! Ah how about knocking next time?" she scolded playfully.
Crono chuckled. He pulled two large, leather mittens off his hands and tossed them onto Lucca's bed before having a seat himself.
"How are you?" he asked.
"Bored " she sighed. When she saw him looking curiously at her desk, she explained, "I was writing about our story!"
Crono nodded and smiled approvingly.
"That's wonderful. I was thinking about doing that too "
He looked away from her desk, slowly observing the clutter of her room. Long electrical cords - black, gray, thick, thin - snaked their way under books, papers, and discarded clothes. Crono shook his head - he thought it was a miracle that her room had managed not to catch on fire. He shifted himself to gaze at the more aesthetically pleasing view outside her window.
Lucca sat and examined him for a moment, noting the thick cape and other extra layers that completed his winter outfit, and twisted in her seat to look out the window with him.
"You know " she began, after a moment of contemplative silence, "I can't believe it's winter already. It seems like it was just days ago that we all said goodbye. Everything is so fresh in my mind you know?"
He nodded again.
"Time seems to fly by these days " she mused, carefully adusting her glasses. "I'm glad we're seeing Marle tomorrow, though. I miss her chattering and all. It seems awful quiet around here."
Crono looked back at her and grinned knowingly. Marle, the princess of Guardia, had a cheerful, bouncy charisma that the two long-time friends grew accustomed to over their long journey. Indeed, since she had been busy at the castle since early that fall, there seemed to be a gaping hole in their lives where her presence used to be. Thankfully, Crono and Lucca both received letters some days ago announcing that she was about to have a winter break, and that they were invited to have dinner with her the first day.
"She'll be free for about two weeks hmmm I wonder what we can do. You have any ideas, Crono?"
"Skiing, snowboarding, sledding " he offered.
"Oh!" Lucca gasped. "Great ideas!! I wonder if she's ever done any of that "
"Hey, why don't we surprise her?! I'll make some reservations for an inn at the Truce mountains .and, ah "
Lucca hopped from her chair and skipped excitedly over to the window.
" We'll need to rent some skis and stuff, and we can put them in the room after I've arranged it," she spun around and faced him. "You know, we should probably do this today. I'll hike up there and book our spot, and you go get the stuff. Okay?"
Crono nodded, a small smile spreading across his lips. Lucca watched as he stood from her bed and thrust his hands into their respective mittens.
"Well, I need to get appropriately dressed " she looked apprehensively out her window. "Ohh man, that is going to be some walk "
She heard Crono laugh and bid her good luck.
Some moments after he shut the door and thumped down the hall, Lucca made a move towards her dresser. She carefully stepped over various items that cluttered the way.
"Heh well, I hope I'll be able to find everything in this mess!"
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The next evening
"Princess, please try to hold still," the maidservant pleaded. "It's difficult to brush up your hair when you are fidgeting in your seat."
"I'm sorry oh, but I'm just so happy! I can finally see my friends!" Princess Nadia squealed, clasping her hands together. It was a gesture she did frequently when she got excited. "It's been way too long gosh, I bet they'll probably look different "
"Well, don't forget the real reason we are having this dinner, princess. You must make a good impression on everyone tonight although I'm sure you will do fine not to dampen your mood or anything, of course," the maid quickly added when she noticed the girl's slight frown.
Nadia, or also known as Marle to her friends, was the only heir to her father, King Guardia XXXIII. She was supposed to make a small inauguration speech that evening to the leaders of Porre and Choras. The Guardian kingdom once completely controlled the two places when they were smaller - the leaders being counts and lords that were members of the royal court. Now, both of the populations had significantly grown, and were more self-sufficient. Porre and Choras were mostly independent areas, but Marle would still govern them, as they were part of the entire human population that was Guardia. Marle would not have any control over the Mystics, however - the neighboring race of magic- bearing creatures that now lived in relative peace with humans. Yet, hundreds of years in the past, a war waged between the Mystics and the Guardian kingdom. Marle and her friends managed to stifle the larger areas of conflict when they traveled back in time to the middle ages, so consequently, in the present, very few Mystics still held a grudge.
"You know, I am very happy for you, princess," the maid babbled on. "You really deserve a break I haven't seen you this excited since the day the millennial fair opened so many months ago."
Marle smiled pleasantly and leaned back in her seat, allowing the maid to efficiently brush her hair. She repeated the scene from memory where she bumped into Crono at the festival, inadvertently starting the entire fateful quest when he took her to try out Lucca's newest contraption, the teleportation machine. The "Tele-pod," as Lucca called it, accidentally created a time gate from a pendant Marle used to wear. The pendant actually belonged to a different era, and caused the tear in time when the princess stepped onto the device, expecting to be teleported from one platform of the machine to another. Instead, she was thrown 400 years into the past. Then, Crono gallantly followed her into the time gate in attempt to rescue her, when they had only just met. A wave of guilt suddenly overcame her when her thoughts drifted to just how long she had been away from the two of them. But the feeling quickly evaporated when she remembered she'd be seeing them in a matter of hours. She sat up suddenly - her excitement rekindled. Instantly she felt a sharp, burning pain to her scalp. Marle cried out, causing the maid to release the hairbrush in alarm. It dangled in her hair for a moment, and then dropped to the floor.
"Oww " she moaned, rubbing the top of her head.
The maid sighed in frustration and picked the brush up off the floor.
" Oops! Sorry," Marle mumbled.
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Crono watched Lucca shift her weight impatiently from one foot to the other. The two friends were standing outside the main entrance to Guardia castle, and had been waiting several minutes for the guards to open the doors. The sun had dipped behind the trees, and the temperature outside was plummeting rapidly.
"Ohh, just let us in already!" Lucca grumbled bitterly, puffs of vapor swirling around her face and fogging her glasses. Her arms were folded stiffly under her chest. "This is no way to treat guests do you think they forgot about us, Crono?"
As if in answer, the colossal wooden doors before them creaked and moaned in protest when two uniformed guards pulled them open from the inside. Bright light and merciful heat welcomed the two half-frozen companions. They quickly shuffled inside.
"Well, it's about time," Lucca muttered under her breath.
"You are Crono and Lucca, Princess Nadia's guests, I assume?" one of the guards inquired.
"Yes, we are," Crono responded.
"Right. I will bring the Princess word of your arrival,"
The young man turned on his heel and swiftly darted up a small set of stairs that lead to the royal throne room. Crono and Lucca both took off their gloves and stuffed them into their capes. Lucca gingerly wiped the lenses of her classes on the hem of her tunic. Both were fidgeting in anticipation.
Seconds later the entry of the throne room burst open. The princess was hastily bobbing down the stairs. She cleared the staircase in a matter of seconds, a bright flash of pastel colors and blond hair, and barreled into Lucca, throwing her arms around her friend. The flustered Lucca back-pedaled a few steps before regaining her balance. She then carefully hugged Marle, as if the unpredictable, boisterous princess was a bomb expecting to go off.
"Luccaaa!" She squealed.
"Heyyy, Marle," Lucca huffed, finding her breath.
"I'm so glad to see you!" Marle exclaimed.
Lucca pulled back and held her friend at arm's length. Marle's hair was pulled up in an elegant bun; a few stray curls framed her face. She wore her favorite pair of white pants tucked into soft leather boots, those being more suitable for winter than her preferred sandals. A long-sleeved, light blue tunic came almost to her knees - the closest Marle would ever get to wearing a dress in front of her friends - and was cinched at the waist by a solid gold belt. What particularly caught Lucca's attention was the flashy jewelry that sparkled from her neck and ears.
"Wow, you got this dressed up for us?" Lucca asked incredulously.
"Well, no I mean, you guys are special and all! But actually, I have to make a small presentation at dinner tonight "
Marle looked from Lucca to Crono, who was smiling slightly with his arms folded, watching them. She felt something tug deep within her chest when she realized how handsome he looked; he appeared slightly older, more mature but still had boyish sparkle in his eye. Her smile widened and she bounced over to him, throwing her arms around his shoulders.
"Crono!! I'm so glad to see you, too!!" she giggled.
The calm, yet expressive swordsman embraced her heartily before letting go.
"You have a presentation?" he asked curiously.
"Well, yes. The leaders of Porre and Choras will also be here. I'm to give them a convincing speech that one day I will do an excellent job as their queen "
"I'm sure you'll do fine. We'll be there to cheer ya on!" Lucca exclaimed.
"Thanks guys. You know, dinner wont be ready for almost another hour, why don't we go up to my room and wait?"
"Sounds okay to me," Lucca replied.
Marle looked up at Crono, who nodded in agreement.
"Mmm'kay, lets go!"
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