The Sentinel Chapter 4

Visit From a Stranger

By Kay

"So, I don't have a fever…?" Marle inquired, noticing the frown of puzzlement on the palace physician's face.

Marle was propped up comfortably against her soft pillows, watching the old doctor and a nurse study her thermometer intently. She had awakened from a long nap almost an hour ago. It was late afternoon. The doctor had been called to see her, but so far, he had only taken her temperature. Then he turned to look at her, suddenly realizing she had asked a question.

"Ah…no, princess, you do not have a temperature…but… you show symptoms of a fever. Are you sure you were holding this under your tongue correctly?"

Marle looked upwards for a moment, contemplating, and then shrugged.

"Well, why don't we try again?" she offered.

"Very well," the doctor agreed. "And remember, try to keep it still - in the same place, under your tongue…"

Marle nodded as he stuck the instrument in her mouth. She couldn't decide if it was good or bad - that she didn't have a temperature. She wanted to ask, but would have to wait a few minutes now that she had the thermometer in place. Marle sighed and sank deeper into her pillows. She wondered what her friends were doing now, without her…

The doctor took the thermometer from her and brought it over to the window, studying it closely. The princess saw him shake his head and hand it to the nurse, who looked at it bemusedly. Marle frowned. She didn't like all this head shaking and confusion.

"So, I don't have a fever?" she asked again, sounding less hopeful and more suspicious this time.

The doctor sighed.

"No temperature. Well, this might complicate things a little. How do you feel right now?"

"I feel good…but," Marle added hastily, "I felt good the last time I woke up from a nap. I don't think it's been long enough to say for sure…"

"How long was your first nap?" the doctor questioned, cleaning the thermometer and putting it away.

"About three hours…" the nurse replied.

The doctor nodded.

"And this time, you've had the whole night and most of the day to rest…"

Marle's face brightened.

"So you think I might feel better … for longer… this time?" the princess asked optimistically.

"…Possibly. I think what we'll do is see how you feel tomorrow. If you feel good - then wonderful, you might be getting better. If not, we'll have to do some more thorough testing. "

Marle's mood withered at the prospect. Finger pricks. Shots. How unpleasant.

The doctor gathered his instrument case and followed the nurse out the door. He said goodbye, and then shut it gently behind him. Their footsteps gradually faded away, and Marle was once again left in the silence of her room. The princess yawned listlessly. She rarely had this much time to herself, to be bored. Marle glanced around her room for something to do. She mulled over her armoire, playfully considering to dress up in some of the gowns she never wore. Marle didn't think they were practical enough for her energetic life, but secretly loved to wear them like costumes in the privacy of her room. She remembered the time when she was mistaken for her ancestor - her dress up skills acquired from these games had become very useful then. Ultimately, however, she decided this activity would be too strenuous. Her eyes drifted over to a bookshelf beside her window. She had read most of the books there dozens of times, back when she was younger. She preferred fairy tales, but there were a few history and other non fiction novels Marle hadn't touched. Seeing that there was nothing better to do, Marle climbed out of bed and crouched in front of the small shelf, studying book titles intently. She hadn't looked for long when her eyes flickered over a thick book titled Guardian Legends: Ancient Mythologies to Middle Age Folklore. Ordinarily, the princess might have found this title to be moderately interesting. But, lurching back on her heals in surprise, Marle now realized that the book might tell of her time traveling adventures - like when she was mistaken for her ancestor, the queen; when she and her companions fought and conquered the Mystic army at Zenon bridge; the story of the Hero and the Masamune…

"Wow…I wonder if any of our names will be in here…" Marle whispered excitedly, pulling the book from the shelf.

It had never occurred to Marle to read any history books and search for herself and her friends. The princess returned to her bed and hastily made herself comfortable. She eagerly opened the first page and began to read. Although Marle wanted to skim the pages to look for entries on specific events she assisted in, she didn't want to miss anything that might be said in the beginning. Maybe it would mention her early ancestors - like Ayla's tribe. Maybe there would even be an ancient myth about Lavos - the great, massive parasite that crashed into the earth and distorted time.

Marle was mostly through the second chapter when a loud, bold knock came from her door. Whoever it was was rapping noisily enough so that she would wake up, were she asleep. The princess frowned slightly - none of her servants would have the guts to knock so daringly. Then, slightly annoyed that the person had not let up over a passing moment, Marle scrambled out of her bed. She slowly approached the door, trying to see if she could discern who it was on the other side. Her friends were close enough so that they would knock perhaps once, and then walk in if she didn't object. Whoever was outside probably wasn't Crono or Lucca.

Marle clutched the doorknob, rattling it slightly, and the rapping stopped.

"Please let me in, Princess!" came a female voice.

Marle paused. She didn't recognize the voice at all.

"…Please?" the girl pleaded.

Marle slowly cracked the door open - her combat instincts telling her that the girl might not be alone, and wouldn't knock so audaciously on her door without a very good reason. Marle also knew no one but her father, and maybe Crono and Lucca, would be allowed to visit her.

The princess saw an attractive, dark haired girl standing right outside her doorway, looking nervous and frightened. Marle recognized her from the dinner - she was the girl from Choras, but she couldn't remember her name. She had a very mature form, but the princess knew she was actually a few years younger than herself. There was no one else with her, so Marle carefully let her inside.

"How did you get up here?" Marle asked in an authoritative voice. "…Were you given special permission?"

The girl shuffled away from the door, and turned around at Marle's inquiry. Her eyes flickered to Marle's, and then humbly to the floor. She stroked her dark curls fretfully.

"Please, don't be angry. I wasn't given permission - but it's very very important!" the girl said, balling a fist and pounding it against her open palm for emphasis. "Princess…do you know what's happening, in the palace, right now?"

"…What?" Marle asked, taken off guard. There was something happening, and she didn't know about it?

"Everyone thinks you've been poisoned! The rumor's been spreading all night and day…people think it's a certainty!"

Marle frowned.

"I haven't been poisoned. That's nonsense."

The girl nodded fervently.

"I thought so too!! But there's more…" The girl's eyes turned pleadingly, "…Everyone thinks it was me! Or, that you were poisoned…so that, that -"

Marle held up her hand and cut her off.

"Wait, who are you? What was your name?"

"Oh," the girl blushed, "Sorry…my name is Sabine. I'm with the Choras leaders. I am the mayor's daughter…"

Marle nodded. She turned and walked over to her bed, climbing in gently. Marle motioned to a chair at her desk across the room.

"Take a seat," she offered.

The girl, Sabine, quickly grabbed the chair and set it a proper distance from Marle's bed. She sat down and smoothed her skirts. Then she looked up at the princess, the pained expression returned to her face.

"Please, Princess Nadia…don't believe any of the rumors! The people of Choras would never do such a thing to you! Never!"

Marle shook her head.

"Don't worry, I believe you. Obviously, because I'm not poisoned. I haven't been that sort of sick, really. Just tired…"

The fretful girl placed a hand over her heart. Her sincere, brown doe eyes openly displayed her distress.

"Princess…is there any way we can stop this rumor? Before it completely tears the unity of all the continents apart?"

Marle frowned.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I mean, the Porre citizens are all pointing fingers at me! And for that reason, since we didn't poison you, we are becoming very defensive. The Choras people know we didn't do such a thing, and figured that Porre was trying to cover themselves up by putting the blame on us…so…you see? This could be terrible! This could lead to war if everything goes out of hand!"

iserably. Sabine had a very good point. The rumor was spreading like a plague. People would listen, and believe what they wanted to believe. The people of Porre would be outraged at the people of Choras, thinking it was a treasonous plot ...and likewise, the other way around. The princess shook her head. She was in no condition to make a speech to both of the parties, and even if she was, the rumor might not truly disappear until she was better. If she didn't get better soon, and the story spread far enough and embedded itself deep enough into the hearts of Porre and Choras people, it would still leave a deep wound even after the immediate origin was resolved. The countries might still brawl simply on the fact that they each readily blamed each other for Marle's illness.

"You know…Sabine, you'll have to take this to my father. I'm afraid there isn't much I can do, right now…" Marle looked dismally over at her desk. "Will you bring me some things to write with, and my seal?"

"Of course."

Marle waited while the girl found her things and brought them to her. She then wrote a brief explanation of their problem, and signed it. Marle folded the paper in thirds, and stamped it with her seal.

"Show this seal to any guards that try to stand in your way, and then present it to my father," Marle looked at her curiously as she gave her the message. "Speaking of guards, you never told me how you got up here…"

Sabine carefully took the letter, and blushed at Marle's question.

"Umm…w-well," she stammered, "I kind of hit them…you see. I - clunked their heads together. They…weren't really expecting that."

Marle's eyes widened. There was a moment of silence, and then she laughed aloud, rolling back on her pillows fits of giggles.

"Wow! I would be surprised too! …You don't seem like that type of girl at all!"

Sabine blushed deeper.

"Well, I was pretty desperate…will I be in trouble?"

Marle shook her head and waved her hand dismissively.

"No, don't worry. They might come running up here sooner or later, to check on me, but that wont be until someone finds them in the stairway," Marle chuckled, "Wow…I wonder why I've never thought of that…"

Sabine smiled apologetically.

"I'm sorry I had to do it, though…but this is a very urgent matter. I will deliver this to your father as soon as possible. In the mean time, please rest and get better soon, princess…"

She bowed slightly, and then walked towards the door.

"Wait!" Marle exclaimed.

The girl turned around.

"You know, I'm not supposed to tell anyone about this…I don't think my friends even know about this, but…" Marle pointed to a tall armoire standing against the same wall as the doorway. "There is a secret staircase in there. The back of the armoire is fake."

Sabine looked surprised, and then slowly made her way over to the piece of furniture.

"…You move the stopper out of the way, and then push on one of the sides. The door spins around. There will be a light switch when you get inside," Marle explained. "I'm telling you this, but it's a very big secret, okay? This way you can come up to my room whenever you want, without having to get past the guards. It connects to other secret corridors, but I don't know where all of them go. Just feel your way around and try not to end up where you think the throne room, or the kitchen, or one of those busy places might be. It's a long walk…but worth it, in my opinion. I don't want to see them throw you in the prison…because even I can't protect you from that…"

"Thank you, princess…" Sabine breathed. "I'm so…honored, that you seem concerned for my sake. I won't tell anyone about this…no one,"

Marle nodded her head.

"Well, tell my friends - Crono and Lucca, do you know them? Tell them about the passageways. It may come in handy for them too."

Sabine was quiet for a moment, seeming to ponder something she wanted to say.

"Does Crono have spiky red hair…?" she asked.

"Yes, he does. And Lucca is usually with him. She is thin and has big glasses," Marle explained. "Have you met them?"

Sabine shook her head.

"No. But I saw them at the dinner…" her voice got quiet. "I'm…kind of afraid of Crono. I saw him look at me once. He looked suspicious, distrustful…do you think he would really help me?"

Marle looked around her room. She realized she couldn't exactly write them a message and seal it - because neither of her friends really had the opportunity to become familiar with her writing or her stamp of authenticity. She needed Sabine to give them something that would prove she was on their side.

"Here…go to that music box over there, sitting on my desk. There's a pendant inside. Take that with you - Crono and Lucca will immediately recognize it. Give it to Crono when you see him and say that it's from me,"

The girl walked over to her desk and obtained the pendant from the small box. A soft, slow lullaby Marle had known since she was a child began to chime as the box sat opened.

"This is a beautiful object, princess…" the girl said admiringly. Marle could see the familiar, mystical blue stone of the necklace resting in her hand. "…Are you sure you want me to take this?"

Marle nodded.

"It's the only way they will be sure. Just be careful with it. But if it makes you feel better, we'll always be able to locate it…with a device Lucca has."

The girl nodded and placed it gingerly in a pocket of her skirt, patting the outside reassuringly. She made her way back over to the armoire. Sabine shifted some things around, and then carefully pushed the right side of the back of the armoire. Sure enough, the door swung open with a slight creak, and was now dividing the passageway entrance in half. The girl climbed in, feeling around the darkness for the light switch. A moment later, dull light flooded from the armoire, and the girl took one last look at Marle.

"Thank you so much princess, for understanding me…and trusting me. I promise I won't disappoint you. I will find Crono and Lucca as soon as possible."

Marle smiled.

"You're welcome. Thank you for having the guts to come up here - you have to be pretty determined to do that. I think you will make a fine leader of Choras, one day."

Sabine, for the first time since she walked in, smiled cheerfully.

"You really think so, princess?"

Marle nodded.

"Well, I'll be leaving you now. I will come back this way, like you said, should I need you. I hope I haven't kept you from resting for too long,"

"I'm okay," Marle assured her. "Be careful."

"Bye," came her response.


Sabine pulled her dress in behind her, and then pushed from other side of the door to swing it back into position. Light sealed off as the cracks of the door came together, and Marle heard the girl thump it shut. There were shuffling sounds emanating from the wall, and Marle suddenly hoped she wouldn't make too much noise. Then, the sounds stopped - the princess guessed Sabine had been turning around - and there was silence. After a moment, Marle guessed the girl was gone. She picked up her book, but decided her mind was too occupied with worry to read. Marle leaned back on her pillows and lay the book open on her chest, folding her arms over top of it protectively. Her stomach churned at the thought of Porre and Choras getting into a major clash over this poison gossip. Everyone had been so wonderful and cheerful at the dinner last night. The princess sincerely hoped her father would be able to settle the dilemma, before it turned into an absolute disaster.

Chapter 5

Chrono Trigger Fanfic