Principles of Paradox Chapter 2
Marle's arms felt free from her body as she bounded into the town's centre; her lungs taking in the sour-sweet feel of the air for all they were worth. The sun was all around her, filling her with its silent beauty and effortless light. The ground beneath her was supple to her feet, and even the people all about her seemed happy and carefree. Her world was finally coming together, reaching that elusive little pocket of security that would make it untouchable by even the most hated of forces. Looking forward, to the east, the reason for such assuredness quickly came into view.
Crono's house was small by the standards of some in the village, but Marle loved it for the very same reason. There was only Crono and his mother, and they lived lives almost too relaxed to comprehend. Had she been handed the chance to live such a life, she would've easily taken it. Unfortunately, no such opportunity was presented to one of royal blood, and that, it proved, was the thought Marle hated the most.
Still, as she leapt up the stairs to Crono's door, she was content to merely have a piece of such a life, and in the least, she hoped Crono realized how much he had been blessed. She knocked twice, and looked high into the sky one final time, observing with tranquility the perfection of the skies.
The door swung open, and there stood Crono's mother, plate in hand as she smiled warmly at Marle. "Marle, dear, come right in!"
Marle smiled back and walked into the house, carefully closing the door behind her. The room was empty except for one of Crono's two cats, which Marle fondly recalled having to go rescue, along with Crono's mother, after the gates had closed. The memory brought a smirk to Marle's face, recollecting the look Crono's mother had held when they found her fearfully pressed against the wall, holding onto the cats as a small green imp laughed hysterically at her. Crono had knocked him back a couple hundred feet or was it Lucca? Or maybe it was Marle? The young blonde girl couldn't remember, but chuckled nonetheless.
"I just finished having breakfast, as you can probably tell," Crono's mother pointed a finger at the half-clean dining table, "but Crono couldn't quite join me."
"Why not?" Marle asked wonderingly, her head titled to the side, smile still vaguely present on her face.
"Oh, he's been feeling under the weather the past couple days. His entire body is sore, or so he says." At this the older woman laughed slightly, "of course, he hasn't been saying much lately. His throat is hoarser than an over-worked, over-worried mother." Marle laughed at this as well, but the eldest of the two quickly changed her expression. "In fact, honey, I don't even think he'll be able to go out today. He's been sick as a dog, and I really don't want to risk him coming down with something bad."
"Oh," Marle replied, hurt, her smile gone and her head dropping, "I see. That's ok."
Crono's mom put down the dish she was drying, and walked over to Marle, touching the young woman on the shoulder, and telling her, "I'm sure he wouldn't mind you visiting him in his room though. And it's fine by me too, so long as you don't stay too long, since I wouldn't want you catching whatever he's gotten."
Marle's smile instantly returned. "Oh, thank you so much!" She exclaimed loudly, hugging Crono's mother tightly before letting the exasperated older woman go. "I'll go talk to him right now." She smiled widely, then headed towards the stairs, straight towards Crono's bedroom.
So it's just one small damper I won't let it ruin my day.
* * *
His friends lay in small heaps of beaten rubble before him, and while his body told him to give up, to refute, he would not. Too far had he come to merely allow himself to die. His friends had cheated death for him, altered the course of history forever, merely to have him here, by their side when they needed him the most. He would not let them down.
Glenn and Magus lay knocked down beside one another, both unconscious - mortal enemies united against a common foe. Robo was a pile of useless parts near the corner of whatever kind of room they were in. Lucca, desperate to help him, had been knocked to the wall, completely and utterly defenseless. Ayla still struggled to stand, but it was becoming painfully obvious that she could no longer fight, even though her entire being urged her to. Marle Marle was on the ground, racked in pain, yet concentrating with all her will enough power to restore even one of her fallen comrades. Crono saw with mortal illness the beauty of her in that wallowed position, and it urged him on. As he had done once before, he stood in the face of an un-namable beast.
The decoys of Lavos' core were defeated, and somehow Crono could tell that the being himself had run out of options. Only one thing remained to be done to the creature, and to save the world. The red-haired boy dropped his sword to his side, looked straight at the revolting, pulsating, floating beast, raised his arms to the heavens, and prepared one final Luminaire.
Before he could muster the strength needed to do so though, the beast hit him with something. It panged him in the stomach, burning through his armor until it connected to his skin. There he felt a pinch, nothing more. Like he had been stung by an insect in its dying breath. With utter contempt, he ignored the stinging feeling, and used all the force he had left, killing the final form of the God called Lavos.
A loud thud echoed in his mind, as he hit the floor.
The loud thud of the door shutting snapped Crono into the waking world. He shot up in his bed, the cold sweat on his face stinging his eyes. He took in as deep a breath as he could, trying to relax his pumping heart. He had been there again, he had been in front of Lavos one final time, and he had killed him, again. Dreams like this were coming far too often to him now, and more and more often the pinch he felt from whatever Lavos had sprung against him hurt more and more, as though in the dream he were actually there.
He heard Marle's joyful voice downstairs, as well as his mother's, and his body started to relax in the dark room he inhabited. For a moment the voices below him lowered, and he worried that Marle would not come to see him, but then an overjoyed shout from her proved otherwise. He smiled. Though he had long since admitted he admired her, seeing Marle now carried a different feeling to him, one he was hard pressed to name. Doubtless though, he was glad to hear she had come to visit him.
She took the stairs two at a time, hurrying up them with reckless abandon. Crono wiped his forehead clean, and cleaned out his eyes of any sleep, hoping he wouldn't look like a complete wreck. Little could be done about his always unruly hair though, so he let it go as she knocked on the wall near his bed, announcing her presence.
"Crono, you up?" She asked.
He opened his mouth to affirm her she could come in, but all that came out was a lot of dry throat and a sort of choking noise. He coughed slightly, and then hit the same wall she had with his feet.
She came around the corner, and the instant she saw him, her face changed into a mix of sympathy and happiness. "Awww you look horrible."
He gave her a sarcastic "thanks" look, and she laughed at him in return.
"You know what I mean. You've looked better." She was smiling widely, and so was he. She walked over to his bedside, and stood just slightly over him, their eyes nearly at the same level. "How long have you been like this?"
He held up three of his fingers, and then coughed once again.
"Aww. I'm sure you're mom's been taking good care of you though, hasn't she?"
"Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less." She reached down and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her and smiled as strongly as he could, which wasn't very considering his health. "You want me to try casting a cure spell on you? It might heal whatever ails you."
Crono shook his head. He'd tried that already, calling Lucca to bring Glenn over so he could try his magic on her. Though he knew Marle had nearly the same magical powers, both he and Lucca had been dying to see Glenn again, and the reunion was much loved. Strangely though, the magic had failed to work. "Thanks though," he mouthed at Marle, bringing his hand across to lay it on top of her own. She took his palm and wrapped her hand around his, looking into his eyes with hope.
"I know you need your rest, so I'll be going pretty soon, but I'm glad I saw you. Come by whenever you're feeling better. I'll probably just hang out with Lucca today."
Crono nodded, regarding how beautiful Marle looked through the filtered sun in his room. Like before, only so much more so.
She slipped her hand out of his, and then leaned over and gave him a hug which he returned. Then she backed away from him, and, giving one final smile, waved goodbye and walked back down the stairs out of the house.
Even after she was gone, he stared at the spot where she'd stood, and then sighed deeply as a strange feeling coursed through his heart. Even in his somewhat dazed state, he knew that it was a good feeling, and cherished it for as long as he could before he felt too tired to do so. Then he set his head back on his pillow and fell into sleep.
Down the stairs, Marle thanked Crono's mother for allowing her to see him, but before she could leave, the older woman asked, "Marle, dear, where's that pendant I always saw you wearing before? I haven't seen you wear it since you saved me, Charles and Neko from that monster in the olden days."
"Oh," Marle answered, grabbing faintly for the naked spot below her throat where the pendant usually rested. "I just haven't felt like wearing it much since then. It's kind of, you know, done its purpose. I figure it should rest for a while."
"I see," Crono's mom replied softly, smiling at Marle as she exited the house. "Good bye for now."
"Good bye!" Marle replied as she closed the door behind her, and walked back down the steps. The air was still perfect, and the sky still flawlessly blue, but as she continued to rub her hand over her neck, she felt strangely that perhaps she should be wearing the pendant.
And, of course, in the great matter of things, she should have been.
* * *
"Please, feel free to take a seat, right here if you wish."
Bow nodded and smiled at the young female cook who was guiding him to his meal. "Thank you," he said softly, looking at her intently. She just blushed slightly, then smiled, nodded and left him to bring the food.
The black haired young man gazed across the nearly empty room, regarding the young soldiers to his right with curiosity for a moment, before the young woman returned, still red in the face, and placed his food in front of him. "Thanks," he said again.
It's very different here, from home. A lot darker, more solemn. He started to eat his meal quickly, wanting to meet with the rest of the knights before the day was over. Still, it's not bad I guess. About what I would expect from people of this caliber. He threw away a loose bone from his teeth, then took a deep drink of water before going back to his food. How much longer, I wonder? How much longer till
"Bow! I'm glad I found you!"
The young man turned his head quickly to find the Chancellor walking towards him with obvious intent. "Hello, Chancellor."
"Listen, I have a mission for you to undertake, as soon as you're finished your meal."
"Yes," the Chancellor responded quickly - perhaps too quickly. "I need you to go out and find Princess Nadia, she's somewhere in the town, and I need you to pick her up and bring her back here."
"Of course," Bow replied, gazing into the Chancellor's face, and disturbingly finding it full of insecurity and alarm. "Something wrong with her, Chancellor?" Bow asked coolly.
"No, of course not," the Chancellor replied with undue haste, "the King just thought it would be a good way for you to get used to the land, and you know, test you out a little."
"Ah, I see." Bow nodded gravely, noting with expression the rapidness of the Chancellor's eyes, which darted side to side with no recourse. "I'll get on it right away."
The Chancellor thanked him heartily before quickly dispersing, and as Bow watched him go, he deeply began to wonder if the Chancellor took him as a fool. For Bow, of all people, knew that the King would never, ever leave someone he didn't know to care for his daughter. In this aspect it was known he was very particular. The Knight Captain, perhaps, but definitely not some stranger from Porre. No, this was not the King's doing at all. This was the decision of the Chancellor, and, somehow, Bow felt his intentions were not entirely honorable.
The black and purple haired man finished his meal quickly, rechecked the sword at his side, then headed out to follow his orders. For now, he would play the Chancellor's game. Should the old man step on too many toes though, Bow was determined to not let the Chancellor alter his plans. The game, then, would be ended quickly.
* * *
1300 years in the future, from Bow's point in time, Robo stood looking out into the sky. And, by all standards, it was a horrible sky.
Clouds rumbled everywhere, dark shadows of impenetrable black and grey, rolling endlessly over a lush green pageant of life. Clouds such as these were strange, considering technology had been implemented to control the weather, and they should've easily blocked out such dark clouds. Perhaps something is wrong with the weather-station, Robo thought as he looked out over it all.
Even as he considered the possibility though, he realized that was not the problem. No, there was something wrong, on a whole, here. More and more often, in the past month, he had noticed an increasing amount of errors in various drives and disks on his system. Sometimes even, entire databases had been erased, and over-written. If it were not for the fact that other parts of his memory remembered the original databases, he would have had no idea of such a problem, and would've gone on living without the memories those databases contained. And though Robo was incapable of a tangible fear, the thought of coming out of hibernation at some point, and not knowing who he was, scared him immensely.
Yes, something was indeed wrong, Robo realized as he looked out, and I think I better find out what. Perhaps though, I've merely outlived my intended life span. Maybe I'm just getting to the point that something has to be gotten rid of if I want to continue.
He sincerely hoped not, because that would mean forgetting Ayla, Crono, Magus, Glenn, Marle and even Lucca. And, even after only a few months of his new life in the repaired future, he did not want to forget those people who had shown him so much. Not at all.
Still though, something definitely was wrong. And Robo intended to find out what.
* * *
A thin, tumbling wind churned all around the young boy, whose eyes were so alive. It curled around him, chilling him to the bone, and leaving nothing but pain in its wake. It was frigid, holistic, and frightening to the core. Yet those eyes continued to shine, to flicker in the dim light of the moon, in spite of this wind. These eyes were not to quit, not to forego any ground, and most definitely, not to surrender. These were eyes, as they were meant to be.
The branches of the trees all around him whistled, flapping and whipping all about. They echoed in his mind, numb and pained as it was, and whispered to him, calling out the thing which he was, and would forever be.
They hummed it to him, hollering it in his ears through the mercilessness of the wind. "No," he cried to himself, sobbing through the choke in his throat, "I'm not alone. My parents, they're here."
They chorused back at him, a sudden gust of the infinitely invisible stuff calling him out, asking for proof. He had none, of course, and it had plenty.
He merely curled into a tighter ball, clasping onto the rags that served as clothes, in the face of the wind. His eyes burned in their holes, in spite of the wind, always to battle it, to ward it away from that which lay underneath.
Suddenly though, the wind stopped.
It hung still around him, dropping as if in the face of a greater adversary. He lifted his head, just a little, to look about, and then, a new voice, louder than the wind, spoke to him.
It came from the Earth, the ground and the dirt all around him. It said a word, a name, and instantly, the wind came alive again.
The boy began to shiver, as he became trapped between the two words, the two truths. The sources.
"Crono," the boy mouthed, shivering all the while, his eyes still burning with desire to be free. "Crono."
Across the forest, the young boy's parents clung to each other in tears, their beloved missing, gone. They sobbed his name to one another, sweet nothings passing by in the echoes of the wind. The earth rumbled in their tears, memorizing the word they said to one another, knowing it by heart, then twisting it to its own fashion.
The wind chorused.
* * *
"No, not there, just a little to the right."
"Yes, that's perfect."
Marle pushed down, and with a little effort, slid the cylindrical object into the hole. Instantly energy coursed through it, and the entire project came to life.
"Ah! Yes, that's it!"
Taban got up from the ground, and looked delightfully upon the brilliant invention he had completed. "Brilliant," he whispered to himself. "What do they call this again, Lucca?"
"A toaster, Dad. And I don't think it's something we should be amazed by."
"It cooks your food for you! How could this not be an amazing invention?"
"They have better," Lucca replied, smiling mischievously at her father, delighted to see him so happy.
Marle smiled as well, looking down on the little device before them, which had taken only a couple hours to design and fashion, with Lucca and Taban's brilliant ingenuity. She couldn't help but feel completely out of place surrounded by the genius of the two, but she had long since grown accustomed to the feeling - Lucca was her friend, and no matter what, they'd always have fate to tie the two of them together. Or so it seemed.
"That was fun, I have to admit," Marle sighed as Taban continued to gaze affectionately at the toaster, "we gotta do this again, sometime."
Lucca looked at the young princess and smiled, "yeah, for sure. We'll bring Crono along next time too."
"Yeah, I hope so."
A knock suddenly came from the front door of Lucca's house, and Taban pulled himself away from his stare long enough to open it. "Hello?"
"Hello sir, I'm here looking for Princess Nadia. I was told she was seen around here a little while ago."
Marle instantly recognized the pale voice, and turned around quickly to find Bow standing in the doorway, looking directly at her. Her stare was instant.
"Of course, she's right here. You're from the castle, right?"
Bow just nodded, not letting Marle out of his sight for a moment. "Princess, I have orders to bring you back to the castle. Apparently the King wants to see you."
Marle tore herself away from the pair of black orbs that served as his eyes long enough to reply, "Alright, I'll be there in a minute."
"Of course, Princess."
Marle dared not look at the young man in the door as she turned about to pick up the ribbon she had taken out of her hair. As she did so, though, she caught Lucca staring blatantly at Bow. "Lucca!" She half-way yelled, turning instantly to face her purple-haired friend.
"Huh?" Lucca replied dumbly, barely pulling her eyes away long enough to look at Marle. "Something wrong, Marle?"
" No," Marle answered, surprised at her own response. When she'd caught Lucca staring, almost instantly anger had risen in her. A searing, pained type of anger, almost like jealousy. "No, I was just wondering, if, um maybe you'd like to come over, for supper?"
"I'd love to," Lucca replied, smiling, and almost instantly Marle regretted the offer. Of course she would want to come over - if only to get a closer look at the young man who had caught her attention. Marle caught herself in mid-thought though, realizing how foolish she sounded, even to herself. She can have him, as long as she leaves Crono alone.
Marle reached across and pulled Lucca by the hand, not waiting to see if she was going to bring anything with her. "Come on, let's go."
Hurriedly, she thanked Taban for having her over, and then dragged Lucca with her out the door, allowing Bow to take the lead off of the island. What's with me today? I feel so strange.
"Come on, you two, we have a long way to go, and the sun won't stay up for much longer." Indeed it would not, as it was already beginning to set, crawling its way slowly down the horizon. Marle had seemingly lost track of time, and in the lukewarm winter of Guardia, the setting of the sun meant the lost of safety.
Bow pushed the two of them quickly, walking with a brisk pace. Something didn't feel right to him, and his mind was too worked to worry about safety or battle at a time like this. In the shelter of the castle, he would be alone with his thoughts. Still, he made sure to take the occasional glance back at the two young women, careful to keep them in sight, should something happen. All too often when he looked back, Marle had her eyes on the ground, while her friend constantly gawked at Bow, curiously gazing at him with wonder behind her eyes. Either of them will do, he thought, smiling strongly at Lucca, and causing her to blush, but Nadia would be preferable. She's very pretty, and close to the King as well. "Hurry up; I wouldn't want you two to get lost, now would I?"
Not much longer, I hope.
Just a few dozen miles to the south, nearly 400 years in the past, and near the edge of the forest west of Porre, a young boy went off of a path to pick up a small flower, unannounced to his parents. They continued walking south, entrapped in each other's conversation, around a bend, and then took the left road towards the town. The young boy, whose eyes shone even in the night, didn't see them go, and it took him several moments to pull the flower loose. When he did so, he walked over the bend, but had no idea which path his parents had taken. He walked right, and into the forest.
The wind began to blow.
* * *
King Guardia sat on his throne, and sighed. It was beginning to turn late, and Nadia had not arrived home yet. He was beginning to worry, though according to the Chancellor, someone had already been dispatched to bring her back. This was not comforting to the King in the least, since someone wasn't him, and therefore someone wasn't good enough. Still, there was little he could do but wait, as modestly as he enjoyed the thought of doing so.
"She'll be here soon, King Guardia," the Chancellor assured, his words almost cooing with overly sympathetic tones. "I have my best men on the job."
"I hope so," the King replied. The Chancellor then turned his back to the King and headed out of the throne room, smiling intently under his wizened face. "I hope so," the King echoed again.
The King was left to his thoughts alone for a minute, as he breathed deeply, hoping to expel what ailed his mind. He tried concentrating on some of the matters of the state, but few remained after the work of the day before, and the stuff that did remain seemed trivial and useless. Eventually he contented himself to merely wait, as the minutes crept by, and the sun began to wail in the distance.
* * *
Melchinor looked down on the sword he had fashioned, viewing it through keen, observant eyes, and then struck it forcefully the palm of his hand. A clang shot through the air of his small home, but the metal had held strong. The nearly ancient man smiled, then placed his hands over the long blade, and began to chant some archaic words from ages not even of his original time. The sword began to glow bright pink, illuminating the room beyond the small flame of the lamp on the wall, and pouring light out into the wilderness of the night.
His words slowed in pace, then stopped altogether, and he pulled his hands away. The sword slowly began to dim back to its normal silver color, and the handle rattled on the table that it laid on. Melchinor picked the sword up whole, and looked it over. The metal was flawless, even more so than many of his other creations. Still, it lacked the brute strength of his best creation, the one that at that very time resided in a small drawer in a house across the ocean.
The last rays of the sun crept in through Melchinor's window, and a silent wind pulsed all around the house, wrapping it up in nothingness. Slowly putting the sword back down, the old man stared out of the sun, and for a few fleeting moments, was captivated by its listless beauty. And that's when he realized it.
"No," he gasped to himself, as the brazen truthfulness of the circumstances came to him, rushing into him with power incomprehensible. He shot out of his chair, hurried for his purse of gold, then changed into a warm set of clothes, and prepared to set off. No time could be wasted, for time itself was against him, against them all. Right before he left the small house though, he looked back, and picked up the sword which he had just fashioned, wrapping it in a long cloth and tying it closely to his back.
Just in case.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic