Principles of Paradox Chapter 3
Morning had slipped into afternoon, afternoon into night, and still there was nothing but a stillness of wrongdoing in the air. Stars twinkled weakly in the pitch black cloak of night, yet they could not pierce its limitless cove. Tension hung strong, even around the people who were usually immune to its presence. Windows were closed, doors locked, and weapons gripped in the cool night air. Something was inexplicably afloat, and everyone knew it, without knowing what it was.
Something was about to happen.
And it wasted little time in doing so.
As the inhabitants of Guardia Castle slept - including the King, Marle, Lucca, the Chancellor, and even Bow - the small plaque that hung on the Chancellor's door began to change. The word "Green" that was chiseled beside the honorary title began to slip away, fading slowly out of existence. As if someone were slowly erasing it from the surface of the wood, the word began to disappear into nothingness. In a short while, the place where the word had been was empty, the wood perfectly smooth, as if it had never been touched, never tampered with in its existence.
Because, of course, it hadn't been.
Soon though, that began to change. Slower even than the word had disappeared, it began to become replaced, overwritten by another word, another name. The distinct shape of five letters began to weave their way into the wood, indenting themselves in perfect spacing with the title of Chancellor. Five letters that, once before, had been on that very same plaque, that very same title. A name that had been ended, only to rise up again.
And had the soldier assigned to watch the Chancellor's room been awake, he would've seen that very name engraved upon the plaque as though it had always been so. Which, of course, it had been. For the plaque said the truth of the chancellor, and the truth, by definition, does not lie. Of course, time isn't supposed to lie either, or memories. But the name, by equal definition, contradicted both.
Chancellor Yakra, the plaque said.
* * *
Bow awoke with a sudden jolt, snapping up in his bed, his eyes wide and quick, darting to the doorway of the knights' room. Someone was outside the door, and had been so for quite a while. How Bow knew this, he wasn't quite sure, but often since he had been sent out into the world he had felt these pangs of intuition, and experience told him to trust them for all they were worth.
Careful not to wake the other deeply slumbering knights, he picked up his sword and tiptoed as quietly as he could across the room, till he was pressed up against the door, listening for any sound coming from the other side. Faintly, he could pick out some sort of hissing sound, instantly realizing it was not human. He unsheathed his sword, and prepared to attack whatever waited outside. Just as he reached for the doorknob though, there was a particularly loud hiss, followed by the pattering of soft feet outside. He waited till the footsteps had died, then slowly opened the door.
The hallway was empty, but just beyond the door was a trail of faintly visible purple skin, leading straight to another door some ways down the hallway. A mystic snake had been here, and the swiftness of its departure meant little but trouble. Bow's pitch-black eyes scanned the hallway as he stepped out into it, but other than the little markings of shed skin along the ground, there remained no evidence of anyone's arrival.
A thin slice of the sun cut through the bars of an open window, a slice barely existing beyond the horizon of the planet itself. Morning was fast approaching, and someone had apparently sent a spy to watch on the knights of the square table, or at least one knight in particular. Bow was usually suspicious of those around him, but now he had no doubt a traitor was in the midst of the castle. Perhaps this could become a problem.
"New Guy, close the door already, there's still time before sunrise!"
"Of course, sorry," Bow replied to the half-awake shout of one of his fellow knights, coming back into the room and shutting the door behind him.
Bow returned to his bed, and laid his sword by his side, but did not try to return to sleep. Already his mind was churning, listing the few suspects he knew by name, and the numerous more he knew by face. As the sun started to rise, thoughts burned in his head, calling out to him. Perhaps it's already come for me. Maybe it already knows I'm here, and is trying to stop me before I can even start. The thought worried him, but he was confident in his own abilities. If it's weakling enough to send a spy after me, then he shouldn't be a problem when I actually face him.
Gradually the other knights got up from their beds, yawning and heading for the basement to get food. Bow however stayed in bed, and looked up at the ceiling dizzyingly. This could be dangerous, if it doesn't happen right.
He had no idea how right he was.
* * *
As the sun raised high across the border, King Guardia woke up sweating cold in his delirium, the private hell of his dream world coming to meet the reality of the waking one. He blinked furiously, trying to drive the images out of his mind, shaking his head as if the demons could somehow be thrown out.
He had dreamed of something. Strangely, as soon as he tried to recall what had stirred him to wake up in fear, he could no longer remember. The figures in the dream were evil, haunting, and disfigured to the extreme - that he knew, but little else could he recollect. All that was left was the intensely enduring dread that paced his heart and stung his head. Yes, the demons had been there, in his dreams, even if he couldn't remember them exactly.
He got out of bed quickly, anxious to get out and see if his daughter had made it home safely last night. Once Nadia failed to return to the castle after sunset, the King was becoming too anxious to stay up, so he resigned himself to his room, only to find sleeplessness there as well. He had ordered his servants to tell him as soon as Marle had arrived home, but he knew none of them dared enter his room once he was supposedly asleep. At least he didn't wake up with the sun in his face again apparently the workers of the castle were good for something.
The King hurried outside, but was already too late. Lucca and Marle were up and about, and what was about to happen to them would not stop for anyone. Not even the King.
* * *
Hours before the King had awoken, and even moments before Bow was first awakened, Lucca was dreaming.
The crunch, the scream, the turn of the corner, and then the horrifying visions of blood. The small, powerless Lucca looked onwards, terrified and feeble. "Mommy," she whispered to herself.
The vision of her writhing, bloody, destroyed mother was too much, and she began to fall to the floor, gasping for air that would not come to her. The knock on the door, as she kneeled on the ground, helpless. She turned to face the wooden frame, stomach churning, her eyes hazy and barely taking in a fragment of what lay around her.
A voice called out, for her. A familiar, important voice. "Lucca!"
Her father, at the door. "Lucca, please!"
The screams overrode her, immobilizing her in her place. She wanted to go, but she could not. Only the shrill screams, and the powerful call.
The young girl's eyes tore open, and she found herself facing the roof of Guardia Castle, with the beads of cold sweat dripping down her face. She pushed herself up from the bed, and looked towards the hard wooden door from which the voice came.
It was Marle's voice, she quickly realized. Not her father's at all. She rushed out of bed and moved across the guest room she had been lodged in, opening the door for the young princess. Marle's expression was haggard and worried as the door swung open, but Lucca's showed nothing but relief.
"Marle," she said weakly between deep breaths. "I'm glad you're here."
"Is something wrong?" Marle asked, her voice chided with concern.
"Yes," Lucca instantly replied, holding her forehead in her palm as she tried to wipe away the stinging drops of water. "No," she paused, "sort of, I guess."
"Well what is it? I could hear you talking and rustling in your sleep from my room down the hall. What's the matter?"
"I I don't know," she replied truthfully. "I've been having these dreams, over and over lately. And, they're, well, scary."
Marle moved into the room and shut the door behind her. "What are they of?"
"This bad thing, that happened in my past."
"Oh," a sentimental pause, "that thing that you don't like to talk about, right?"
Marle was silent for a moment, gazing Lucca up and down for a moment, thinking of something to say. "Are you ok now, though?"
"Yeah, I guess." The purple-haired girl's voice was still shaky, but she looked calmer, and her breathing was nearly back to normal. "I'll be fine in a little while." She managed a weak smile, which Marle returned with equal force. "Sorry for waking you up."
"Actually, I was already up. The sun's rising soon, and I'm usually up with it anyways. Today though, I was worried about a couple of things."
"I'm not quite sure, but lately I've just had this feeling. Like like there was something up. You know what I mean?"
"Sort of. Ever since these dreams have been coming, I've been really uneasy. It's just like there's something big coming, and I know it."
"Yeah, exactly. I just have no idea what."
Lucca replied with silence, signaling she too had no idea. A thought, or rather a question, quickly shot into her head though. "Who was that Bow character from last night, though?"
Marle instantly looked at Lucca with powerfully intent eyes, almost staring with bewilderment at her friend. She found herself having to put a silence on her own thoughts before she could voice them. "He's a brand new knight that the Chancellor recruited a little while ago. What of him?"
"He's different," came the hesitant reply. "There's something about him that's kind of off-setting. Like he has an aura or something."
"He's quite good-looking too, isn't he?" Marle found herself surprised to be telling her thoughts so freely, yet couldn't help from asking the question.
"Very," Lucca replied with a smile, staring numbly at the wall, trying to recant the man's face. "But still, there's something about his, his "
"They're so dark."
"But they have something under them. Something he wants to hide."
"Why would he have to hide something?"
"I don't know, but it's there, that much I'm sure of."
Marle looked down for a moment, trying to recall the few glimpses she had dared to take into Bow's beautiful eyes. She tried looking past them for a moment, to look deeper, but she could not. "I don't think so, Lucca."
Lucca stared at the blonde-haired princess for a moment, before saying, "We'll see. If there's something there, it'll come out eventually."
Marle nodded, "yeah, it will."
Lucca sighed strongly, before trying to change the subject. "How about we go down to the kitchen and see if we can pick up some early food?"
Marle grinned, and then agreed, "Ok, let's get going. Get dressed and I'll meet you in front of the stairs in five minutes."
"Alright," Lucca replied cheerfully.
Marle smiled, heading out of the room, towards her own in order to change into some day clothes. As she did so, she reminded herself to go see her father sometime soon, as she had been told he had waited up for her most of the night before, and gone to bed right before she arrived home. He was probably worried about me. She walked into her room, and began to change into something appropriate for the kitchen.
Unfortunately she never got close to the kitchen. In fact, in little time, the kitchen would be the farthest thing from her mind.
* * *
The wind was silent, which was very strange to the boy's ears. Usually accustomed to its tenacious on-turn, and its deafening hallow, the sudden silence was almost disheartening. Of course the rumbling in the boy's stomach more than made up for it.
Too many days he had gone without food, and even though the cold of the night no longer accompanied him, the pain in his stomach was a valid substitute. He had been wandering now for countless hours, searching for a place where light would pierce the branches of the trees. Perhaps then he would find a way out of the forsaken place in which he resided.
The ground still rumbled often, but now he was having trouble hearing the word it spoke. His mind had turned numb in its lack of use, and nothing was about to interact with it. The few unnamed beasts and rodents that inhabited the wood strayed away from his dainty presence, and the masses of trees were nothing but that; nameless, imageless masses. This would not do well for anyone, much less a six year old boy lost and alone.
Strangely though, as he continued to push onwards through the brush, he had not cried. In all the fear, pain and apprehension of his mind and body, he had not cried. Whether it was because he realized such an action would do nothing for him, or merely because the thought had not occurred to him was unknown, but he had not done it. And soon, he wouldn't even have a need to.
Ahead of him lay a small clearing - a very unnatural, very strange clearing. For just moments before, there had been a tree there - a very large, tall tree. And now, it was gone. In its place was something else entirely. Something strange and unnatural in itself. There, in a small patch of grass, was a ball.
Now this ball was unlike most others of such design. True, it was round and had dimensions like that of any other ball, but beyond that, it was nothing like most balls. For starters, its color was not constant, which is strange for anything in general, especially such a ball. Its tinge changed from blue, to purple, to black, to red and then to green slowly over time, always alternating between the five, and never staying as one color for too long. Even through these color changes though, the ball was somewhat transparent as well. Should one feel the need to, they would be able to see the green grass beneath the ball; if they looked hard enough. It was also a fairly large ball, nearly half the size of the small boy himself, and almost as wide as the tree-trunk that had once been in its place. It was also perfectly smooth and cool to the touch. Never did it grow warm or cold, or rough in disgust, instead it was in a constant state of perfection. You could imagine, then, the young boy's surprise, when he saw such a ball, directly in front of him.
The boy stopped in his tracks, his eyes - always alive and powerful - growing wide in amazement at such a strange sight, here, in the middle of an otherwise empty forest. For several tense moments, he did nothing but stare at it, watching it change color from green to blue, and then to a dark shade of black. The boy's nearly ghost white eyes reflected the black in sheer understanding.
Then, though, the ball did something that was perhaps the most disorienting of all its properties. It talked to the boy.
The boy jumped back, pressing his back to a small tree-trunk. The word slithered from the ball, echoing around the boy, and through the rest of the forest.
"Crono," it whispered hoarsely, as though it were struggling in its last breath. The boy was only slightly alarmed, only slightly worried, but very much intrigued. Though it said another's name, he felt as though it were somehow calling to him, telling him something; warning him of something.
The boy took a hesitant step forward, and the ball almost sighed, as though it were in fact alive, and struggling for life. Another step, and then it was within reaching distance. The boy extended a hand, and reached to touch the perfect shape of the ball, now returning to pitch blackness.
* * *
Marle tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for Lucca to come from her room. She sighed in an annoyed tone at the slow pace which her friend moved at. Surely she was faster than this surely she had to be, since she had at one time managed to dodge a certainly lethal attack from Lavos. Obviously, after such an experience, everything else seemed to move at a snail's pace. Even so, Lucca sure was taking her time.
Because of this, before the two could even set off for the kitchen, Marle was startled by a soft touch on her shoulder. She whirled around to see a young-faced page, with a note in hand. "Princess Nadia," he began, looking hesitantly at her and waiting till she prompted him to go on. "The Chancellor would like to see you in his room, as soon as possible."
Marle nodded, catching her surprised breath before smiling and chuckling easily, "I wonder what our dear Mr. Green needs with me now."
"Excuse me?" The young boy asked, almost as though she had talked about a totally unrelated subject.
"What?" Marle replied, almost as bewildered.
"Did you just say 'Mr. Green'?"
"Yes, of course. It's the Chancellor's last name."
The young man regarded the princess strangely, like she had been speaking incoherently. "Excuse me, Princess Nadia, but we don't have a Chancellor Green at this castle."
Marle fired an estranged look, lack of understanding obvious in her eyes. "What do you mean we don't have a Chancellor Green?"
Lucca finally stepped out of her room, jogging quickly to catch up with Marle, about to apologize for her timing when she saw the strange look of the boy in front of Marle. Her curiousness was instantly peaked.
"I mean, ma'am, that that is not the name of our Chancellor."
Lucca heard the last snippet of conversation, and as she stepped up beside Marle, she asked, "What's this about?"
Marle didn't answer her, her attention purely resting on the words of the boy. "Then what, pray tell, is the name of the Chancellor?"
The boy's face reached a climax of confusion, right as he answered her, "Well, it's Yakra, of course."
Lucca and Marle's expressions were instant mirrors of one another - a perplexed mixture of horror and non-understanding. Surely they had not heard the boy right. "Say that again, please."
"Yakra, ma'am, Chancellor Yakra."
Marle and Lucca looked at each other, reading the expressions they saw with perfect clarity. Both knew with absolute certainty that Yakra was not the proper title, but both knew with equal certainty they were not sure.
"Marle," Lucca gasped. "Marle, I I can't remember now."
Neither could Marle. When she'd asked the playful question of the boy, she'd done it purely from reflex. Ever since coming back, she had called the Chancellor by his last name. It had always been the same since, so why not now? But even as she tried to recall the last time she had called him by that name, she could not. She searched frantically in her mind for a point in time that would confirm her reflex, hoping to remember even one instance when she had called him Chancellor Green. Strangely though, she could not.
"Neither can I." She replied to Lucca, her face abhorred in confusion. "Lucca, I can't ever remember calling him Green." The incongruity of the situation caused her heart to pump at inhuman speeds, her mind racing anxiously for even the most fleeting of memories, the most basic of situations. Try as she might though, she could not bring any to mind. The only reason for this, obviously, was that the Chancellor's name was not Green, and was, in fact, Yakra. The realization of such a thing scared her immensely.
"Wait a minute," Lucca cried, grabbing onto Marle's arm with a shaking hand. "Marle, I don't even remember beating Yakra now. It's like it was erased from my memory."
"Or " Marle looked into Lucca's frightened eyes, asking her of the truth they both suddenly knew was there, yet failed to accept. "Or, erased from---"
"No!" Lucca almost shouted, defiantly putting down the idea that was prevalent in her mind. "We did defeat him. I know it!"
"But I can't remember it, Lucca! It's like it never happened!"
"But it had to, even if we can't recall it directly."
"No," Lucca reaffirmed, "no 'buts'. We had to have killed him; it just wouldn't make sense if we hadn't."
Marle was silent, looking downwards, and still trying to recall the Chancellor's real name. Only one came to mind. "Lucca, did you bring any weapons?"
"No, of course not."
"Wait here, I'm going to get my bow. We have a meeting with the Chancellor after all."
Lucca nodded gravely, realizing even in her brashness that she could not escape the situation. The Chancellor was Yakra, and it had always been so. Their petty denials and attempts to reclaim their memories were useless. Nothing could escape the righteous flow of time. Not even the memories of a two young girls, who had seen the world, from several different points of view.
Marle hurried to her room, and rummaged through her boxes of mementos from her various travels. Tonics, armors, glorious and beautiful charms and all the like. Finally her hand came to rest on a small, folded bow that had once been laying in an old Grave, for a legendary warrior. She withdrew the Valkerye, loaded it fully with the small yet powerfully charged arrows, and then tucked it into her large side pocket - thankful for its compact size. Then she closed the old chest, and breathed deeply, hoping she would not be forced to use the weapon. She hoped her memories lied, and her basic intuition reigned supreme.
Her hopes, however, were sorely misplaced.
* * *
Everywhere the bodies: nothing but the absolutist presence of them, surrounding him in air-choking death, obsolete integrity fading ever-faster. His friends, the ones whom he had come to cherish so, ones he knew cherished him just as much; perhaps more. He would not die.
He rose up defiantly, body surging with newfound power. The pang in his chest, ripping through his body, surging through his blood, and creating him anew. Like an insect - that was all Lavos was - nothing but a worthless insect, about to die. He fulfilled the idea, bringing it to its full potential. Lavos was killed, by this boy's hand.
Strangely though, even as he felt the eternal life-force being drained from the creature, he had an intuition, a moment of understanding between beast and man. A moment of infinite potential. Then it was gone, only to be forever present.
Crono turned restlessly in his sleep, kicking off what remained of the blanket that covered his body. His fever had grown, passing the limits of most illnesses known within the Guardian kingdom. He had only been able to eat small morsels of food brought by his mother, and his sleep was becoming more and more troubled. He often merely laid awake, shivering under covers and trying to calm his mind to a point where he could rest. When sleep finally did claim him, it was often filled with visions of horror and painful memories. Images burned their way into his mind, images he would've rather forgotten long ago. The few patches of dreamless slumber he had were small and worthless in their lack of quantity; and nothing he tried could induce such sleep in longer periods of time.
He tossed and turned, mumbling something inaudible and barely of the English language, his lips too dry and parched to allow him to speak correctly. Something about the dreams called out to him, warning him of something much larger coming on the horizon, something that threatened him far more than this sickness. Far more, perhaps, than even Lavos himself ever had.
* * *
Bow stalked the hallways intently, looking for nothing but searching for something.
The thought in his head would not leave him, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it, to push it away. Someone, or something, had wanted to keep an eye on him, and for what reason he could not say. No one knew his motives for being in the castle, and no one yet knew what kind of power he truly donned. He had been careful to keep such secrets to himself, and to make sure that no one came close enough to him to find anything out. His assurances of this were strong, but still, the thought hung to him.
If this was happening too quickly and the timing of the entire project was thrown off, it would all be for naught. The fate of something far more important than either he or anyone else lay in his hands, and he did not intend to allow that something to just slip away. So much had it done for him, and so little could he do to repay it.
But still, what if?
* * *
Marle walked with a concentration about her that had rarely been seen since Lavos' destruction. Her eyes were more tunneled than the hallways she haunted, and even Lucca, despite her growing apprehension that perhaps Yakra had returned, walked powerfully and with the utmost confidence. Marle's hand had not left her Valkerye since she had escaped her room, and her heart was thudding with each step she took, her legs shaky beneath her.
Across the castle's main lobby she walked, and past the throne room, up towards the Chancellor's bedroom. Upon reaching it, they asked the attendant outside if they could speak with the older man. The young female worker told them he was not in his room, and had gone to the basement before the sun had come up, mumbling about a shell of some sort.
The pair quickly thanked the young woman, and then headed back down, towards the basement. Marle's strides quickly became longer with each step, till she was forcing Lucca to jog in order to keep up. Her mind was no longer locked on merely finding the Chancellor, and finding out if their memories lied or not, but on determining if Yakra was the only thing that had been erased from her memories. In a bout of fear, she determined it was not.
After several more minutes of walking the hallways, the two headed down the stairs to the basement, just as the sun's rays were beginning to overpower the windows of the castle. Elegant yellow light shone in, and ran amok with the eyes of the people within. Their pace slowed slightly as they walked down the stone stairs, a weak odor of some sort climbing up the flight of steps.
They reached the bottom stair, then turned the corner, and faced into the main room of the basement.
The Chancellor was there, standing and facing them. He was smiling.
* * *
Bow found himself in the kitchen, the few early risers of the day eating slowly, as the sun began to filter into the room. His mind was still earnestly confused, and he couldn't even concentrate on one thought long enough to order food, or to formulate a plan to find out who had sent the spy to the knight's room. Somehow, Bow knew the answer to his questions would come upon him - if not by luck then by fate itself. Of this he was certain. How he knew so though, mystified even him at times.
* * *
Marle stopped, barely in the room itself as she stared intently at the Chancellor. Lucca halted directly beside her, staring with equal alarm at the hideously crooked smile of the old white-haired man. Something about it offset them both, something all too familiar for their own good.
"Hello, Princess." The words slithered out of his mouth, as he elongated the "S" sound, worming the noise around all three of them. Marle fought back a shudder. "Anything I can do for you?"
Marle said nothing, her eyes unblinking as she looked at the old man. He knows, she realized. He knows we know. "Perhaps, Chancellor. If only you would remove that silly costume."
Lucca clenched her fists, and Marle gripped the handle of her bow tightly.
The Chancellor just smiled, wider, his face bending at an angle not possible by any convention. An inhuman angle. "But of course, dear Nadia."
* * *
Bow lay back in a chair against the eastern wall of the kitchen, his eyes closed and his mind attempting to settle to a normal pace. He grabbed at the handle of his sword tightly, grasping the strongly wrought piece of metal with both hands. He tilted his head back, against the wall and took in a deep breath, reassuring himself that he had done the right things, made the right moves. He would not be found, not until he wanted to be. His mind began to calm, settling into a peaceful wake.
Through the wall though, he felt, rather than heard, a large explosion, and his wake was quickly shattered.
It had come from the basement treasure room, he quickly realized. The other soldiers had only heard a slight pop, not even enough to garner their interest. But Bow's instincts were too finely tuned to pass up something like this.
He rose up off the chair and sprinted towards the stairs. The others in the room watched him with strange regard, the brashness of his movement catching them unawares.
If that was what I thought it was, this isn't good at all.
* * *
The boy's hand trembled as he reached out, the fingertips wavering in the non-existent wind, his eyes wide and shining back the blackness of the ball. Just a couple more inches, and then they would be together. The ball cried out to him, almost pulling his hand ever closer, the feeble will of a boy against the presence of a dying God.
With eyes burning in splendid white valor, the ball turned to a brilliant luminescent glow, and the boy touched it with the tips of his fingers. Perfection.
* * *
An over-powering clash of raw power meeting tainted flesh coursed through the air, as the fires on the walls began to wane out, and the Chancellor took his true form. A flash of lightning struck his position, and it was as if he were set aglow by it, illuminating his form from the inside out. The Chancellor began to change.
Marle withdrew the Valkerye from her pocket, and made sure it was loaded, as Lucca prepped whatever attacks she could. Then they waited for a moment, as Yakra took form.
He was vile, a pugilistic color of brown stained with black spots that only added to the ghastliness of his features. Somehow, even in his monster form, a voice came from him - a horrible, bone chilling voice that was evil incarnate. "Better Princessss .?"
"Much," Marle replied, quickly taking aim and hitting the immobile form of Yakra square on with a blast from her bow. As the arrow plunged itself into the creature's skin, a shock of pure energy came from it, and coursed its way through Yakra's body.
The creature howled, only able to enjoy its agony for a second, before Lucca sprung a circle of fire, and whipped it at him. Marle and Lucca then split, each taking a flank of the creature as he proceeded to be burnt badly. Marle shot another arrow, and another surge jolted through Yakra. Not knowing which way to turn, he fired a needle from each of the holes on the top of his body, one aimed at each of the women. They both easily avoided the blow though, both taking another pot shot at the monster.
"Antipode!" Lucca shouted to Marle, as Yakra tried desperately to fight off the pain, as well as choose a single target he could corner.
"Right!" Marle shouted back, dropping her bow for a moment, in order to concentrate enough to focus her magic.
Oddly though, she could not.
She frantically tried to remember just what to do, what the thoughts were that could formulate the magic into a viable substance. The very thought of it, though, seemed torn from her memory, like she had never even used magic before in her life. She stood there, motionless, trying to remember for several moments, even after Lucca had fully prepared her side of the attack.
Yakra picked up on the lack of motion from Marle, and turned to face her, a smile present on his face, if one was even plausible on such a beast. He readied an all out assault, preparing the sharpest of his spiked weapons for her.
"Marle!" Lucca yelled, her mind rampant as she tried to determine what was wrong. She's completely unprotected! He's going to kill her if she doesn't do something right now!
Just as Lucca was considering using what she had gathered to attack Yakra, and Marle was closing her eyes in brutal concentration, the creature sprung. Five long tendrils exploded from out of his back, shooting through the air for a moment, before directing themselves right at Marle's frozen position.
A being flashed, and the spikes fell useless to the ground, a fourth presence suddenly having entered the room.
* * *
Bow ran for all he was worth, the direness of the situation somehow filling his mind, though he had no idea even what the situation really was. He clambered quickly down the basement stairs, turning the last corner, and finding in amazed silence the scene of a Marle stuck in a set spot, a Lucca who was screaming in angst-filled peace, and a beast firing some sort of things out of his back.
Bow quickly realized what those things were.
He leapt from his awkward position on the balcony of the stairs, unsheathed his sword, and using a power foreign to most humans, slashed all five of the long spikes from the air, sending them useless into the corner of the room.
* * *
Nothing but helpless screams, that was all. Marle shook in frustration, staring at her unmoving hand, willing it to pull forth some form of the magic she had so grown used to. It would not though. Her heart sank.
She heard the spikes being shot from Yakra's back, listened to them cut through the air with deadly precision, and in a single moment, accepted defeat. She dropped her head, as she waited for the deadly daggers to pierce her body.
They did not.
With silent grace they fell to the corner of the large room, hurled aside by some unknown force. Catching them in the corner of her eye, she brought her head back up, searching for her unheard savior. Bow landed almost directly in front of her, sword in hand, and eyes gleaming in black light. "Are you alright?" He asked, his eyes - so perfect, so black, so true - looking at her with pride-filled concern. She nodded, and he smiled weakly, quickly turning to face Yakra.
The beast screeched as he realized his attack had failed, and, concentrating his effort on the human man, fired volley after volley of tendrils at him, all of which Bow nimbly avoided. Slowly he drew away from Marle, allowing her and Lucca to again flank both sides of the beast.
With the thrill of Bow's faultless eyes still present, a flood of memories long-searched for came flooding back to her, as the icy cold sensation of magic flowed through her hand.
"Marle, now!" Lucca cried, the flames on her hands yearning to be expelled.
The young princess merely nodded, charging as much power as she could into her blast before flinging it with full force at Yakra. It nearly froze the beast upon contact, icy composure overwhelming his form. No sooner though, Lucca had hit the beast with her flames, quickly thawing him out in a painful manner.
Yakra cried, his thick skin peeling from both the freeze and the burns, the deep voice that served him wailing in agony. Bow stopped avoiding the beast's attacks, and flung himself at the creature, sword pointed downwards. Wasting no time, he plunged the blade into Yakra's centre, and pushed with all the force he could muster.
The beast used its last surge of power to shake Bow from his body, despite the fact that Bow still gripped his sword handle tightly. So tightly in fact that part of his sword remained lodged in the being's body, snapping the blade in two as Bow was hurled to the floor, just a few feet away from Marle.
With one last gasp Yakra screamed a freakish cry, and then shuddered to the floor. His body convulsed and began to fade into nothingness, as though he had never been there in the first place. After a short period of time all that remained was the broken end of Bow's sword, and the arrows that Marle had shot into his body.
Bow pushed himself off the floor, and looked from Lucca to Marle, trying to surmise what had just happened. Surely this creature had been the one to spy on him, but why, and who was he? He was not the thing that Bow had come to find, so what? He knew the two young women were far more informed than he. "What was that?" He asked, in his usual calm voice.
Neither girl replied, both staring with dazed looks at the ground where Yakra had been. Both realized the severity of what had just happened - what it meant to them, to the timeline, to the entire world. Yakra had never been defeated. It was as if they were the only ones to remember such a thing occurring. This was because, simply, they were. In the history of the world, Yakra had never been revealed as a fraud, never been attacked and killed by Crono, Lucca, and Marle. It had never happened.
And that, of course, begged the question - what else had never happened?
"I think we better see Gaspar at the End of Time. This is serious," Lucca said in a quiet voice, not wanting to upset the tense emotion of the realization. Marle said nothing in reply, but instead began to cry, silent, burning tears streaming down her face. It had been erased, everything that had happened when they had defeated Yakra. Marle could not even remember the conversation she had had with her father that day, not even recall just what had been said. Mere days before, she could remember the exchange word for word, without pause or precedence - so important was it to her. Now, nothing. Nothing except the void that was left behind by something; something of a promise that she had created, and had returned. A promise that now had never been made.
Marle lowered her head, hiding the tears, and Lucca quickly moved beside her, hugging her young friend tightly. "It's ok Marle, it happened. We know it did."
Marle, however, was no longer so sure.
* * *
The boy placed his hand on the ball, and was surprised by the sensation he received.
Smooth. It was absolutely and bitterly smooth, as though it had been locked up for eternity, and only now brought out into the rigors of the world. The strange reality was that it had been.
For a few moments he did nothing but feel its perfect texture, running his hand over it for several seconds, enjoying the thrilling exhilaration of something so perfect. Quickly though, the ball began to talk to him again.
The words were no longer being said out loud, but were being transmitted through the boy, as though the ball and he shared some sort of mental link. The boy merely stared at the ball, again switching between different colors, watching it with unblinking eyes, wondering how such a perfect thing could be. It spoke again.
"Crono must End."
The words were useless to the boy, so enamored was he by the ball itself, that little thought was given to the gasping, heeding voice. The ball began to quiver though, rumbling under the boy's touch, telling him to listen to the words, to pay them great attention. The boy began to do so.
"Who who is Crono?" The boy asked, his voice raspy from lack of use in the past days.
The boy opened his mouth to ask just what this Crono was the end to, but before he did so, he found his question had been answered. Not answered, but rather, known to him. As though he had always known the answer. He felt foolish for even wanting to ask it.
"Yes " the voice scratched again.
The boy then closed his mouth, and put his other hand on the ball. The object then quickly began to change its shape, losing its ideal texture in the face of something more important than perfection. The boy, though wanting to pull away, clung painfully to it, feeling it change to a scalier, more gritted surface. Its true state.
The ball then turned to pitch black once more, and the boy was completely enclosed in its trap, looking with white eyes wider than humanly possible at the thing. It began to glow, a dark, black glow that trapped away all light and brought nothing but sweet, harmonious darkness. The glow wrapped itself around the boy, and then filled him whole with its lack of light.
Suddenly, the ball exploded.
In a single, amazing moment, the ball and its black glow shattered from the face of the planet, right in the hands, and eyes, of the young boy. He was suddenly knocked over, his head hitting the tree trunk behind him in his rapid descent. Pain shot through his skull, as he tried to get up from the floor. The black explosion of the ball had blinded him, and he blinked painfully in order to try and clear it from his vision. In time he did so, and he was suddenly shown the true nature of the ball.
Where the large orb had stood was now a tree, a tall, green-filled tree that had always been there. The boy looked up and down the tree, admiring the width and age of it, yet knowing that it was not there at all. He had been told, told by the tree's creator, that it was not really there. No - he knew what had really been there. Perfection had been there, nothing else. The tree was a contradiction to the truth, yet so was the ball supposedly.
The young boy smiled, then with renewed purpose, stood up, and began to walk forward; in the direction he knew the exit to the forest was located. The voice told him that was the direction. The voice, now, was with him, forever. The boy knew this, and smiled at the thought.
"Crono " it called to him, in his mind, echoing through his brain and saturating it with the name. The purpose. The source. "Crono "
The rumbling in his stomach gone, the young boy walked out, black eyes suddenly shining wide, alive with the fires from within. His eyes were now dark, darker perhaps than even the ball's glow had been. Or perhaps exactly so. These were his eyes now, his true eyes.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic