Escaping Fate Chapter 4

By Taran

Floating through a sea of purple and blue light, everything seemed at peace. There was none of the fighting, of the war that raged from the place that he had just left. Actually, although he did not know it at the time, Crono had not left any place at all. In fact, he was in the exact place now as he was then. Though, those terms held no relevance here either, for this was a timegate: a point in space where time collides with itself and is thus transcended. Despite where or when he was, he drifted across the waves of light, carried onwards by the stream. Soon, another black portal opened up. The river grew more rapid, being consumed by the portal, and he was being dragged in along with it.

Suddenly, Crono’s reality came back to him. He fell out of the gate just where he had fallen in, and continued his steep dive down into the crystal-like lake. A splash shot up into the air as he ripped down into the swirling current. He fought against it though, swimming upwards and downwards, being tossed and turned, loosing all sense of direction. Finally, he breached the surface and managed to stay above water. His entire body ached, not only from the force of impact with the lake, but also from being ‘killed’ only moments ago. He did not think about that now, he only searched.

Bobbing above the surface, his legs fighting a condemned battle to keep him afloat, Crono’s eyes darted back and forth, taking in his new surroundings as well as frantically searching for Marle. Both efforts appeared in vain: everything appeared exactly as it was before and he could not see his beloved anywhere or any signs that she was here. Believing she must have been pulled under, he to went, voluntarily, down into the deep. After staying under as long as he could hold his breath, and then a little longer, he quickly scrambled to the surface where he broke through and gasped for the air.

After several more expeditions to the bottom of the lake, Crono swam over to the dock that Pierre had been standing on. Heaving himself onto the end of it, he sat down and sighed. Everyone was gone. There was no Pierre, no Death Lock, no sounds of battle, no Marle. With another deep breath he laid back and increased the size of the puddle he was creating on the dock. His mind tried to think of what to do next, but he was exhausted and the speed of his thinking reflected that very well.

Several minutes went by, Crono still resting on the wooden dock. Then, something broke the silence. It was a splash. Instantly it was followed by another as Crono jumped right back into the strength devouring current that he had just come out of. With all his might, though he had none left, he crossed the waters between himself and Marle. Placing her limp arm over his shoulder he then took her back to the dock as well. He pushed her up first, then tried himself, but he could not. He pulled and pulled, but he had worn himself out. He just could not get up onto the dock, all of his efforts having to be expended in order to keep himself from being pulled under yet again. Then, someone, Marle, took hold of his hand and together they pulled him up.

As soon as he was lifted to the top, they both fell down onto the wooden pier. They both stopped where they fell, their strength drained from them. The current had seemed as if it had a will of its own, as if it had been trying to pull them down. Whether or not it actually had a will, it had done a good job of pulling them under. They were both dead tired. Although cold, wet, and uncomfortable, the rest did them good. Not after too long, Marle sat up, her legs dangling over the edge, looking out towards the waterfall. “Where are we?”

Gathering the strength within himself as well, Crono too sat up, let his legs fall off the dock, and wrapped his arms around her. “I’m… not sure…”

“You are at the grave of Jedd.” Someone told them from behind. The voice was human, but it had something beneath that. It was something between a growl and a roar buried beneath the words, but neither Crono nor Marle paid much attention to that. Instead, they cocked their heads to glance at the speaker himself. He was a man, draped in a long black cloak. His face was shrouded in the shadows of his hood, so all they could observe were his clothes. Beneath the cloak he wore a white tunic that, after passing under a belt, fell a little over a pair of black pants. “Welcome, Crono, Marle.” He greeted them.

Standing up, Crono turned and looked at him. Despite his efforts, he could not recognize the man. “Who are you?”

“Oh, Crono, I’m hurt.” The man laughed sarcastically. “Do not tell me you do not remember your old buddy Scar!?” The two on the edge of the dock remained silent. “Very well…” He then began to mutter something to himself, but they were able to make out some of it. “I must have arrived before… It would be so easy to kill them now… That would not be honorable… He said not too…” Then, he turned and spoke them again, “We had best leave here before my shielding wares off.”

Crono looked at him perplexed. “What? We don’t even know you, where are we going? What shielding?”

“You must stop using contractions lest you want to stick out like slow prey.”

“Prey? What’re you talking about!?” Marle demanded.

“Again with the contractions… This is going to be more difficult than I thought. You will need to change clothes as well. Anyone who just looked at you once could tell you have defiled the holy place.” Taking out two white robes from his own cloak he tossed them to the confused couple. “Here, change into these.”

Crono caught it, looked at it, and then rebuked the man. “Were you planning on doing any explaining, or just giving us more orders to defy?”

“Much better, you limited your use of contractions.” Crono still glared at him. “Very well, I suppose I had best start at the beginning, as far as you know if anyway. I am going to assume you both fell out of some sort of black portal?” The two nodded. “Good. That was a timegate: a point in space where two time periods…” Scar looked back at their still bodies. “This is going to take a long time, and we cannot afford to waste it. Hurry up and change.”

Marle placed her hand on Crono’s shoulder, “I think we’d better do what he says.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Then, as Scar went on explaining what a timegate was, they both began to slip out of their soldier armor. When Marle had removed her borrowed uniform and began to undress of her civilian clothes, Crono looked, first at her, but then at their ‘friend.’ Although he could not see the man’s face, he was quite sure of where his gaze was directed. “Ehem…”

“Excuse me.” Scar said as he turned around, “I had forgotten how delicious human females look.”

“Human females?” Marle inquired. “Are you not human?”

“No, I was just… as opposed to… We have no more time for questions. We must leave quickly. As I was saying, you have arrived in your future, 999 years from your time. Your, our culture has developed quite well. All of the wars have ended, our technology has skyrocketed, and a religion has been developed. Unfortunately for you, that religion is quite popular, and you reek of the scent of pagans.”

“Us? Pagans?” Marle asked as she got into the white robes that Scar had given her.

“Yes. The people of this time have turned away from the old Zeal magic. Such ways are considered unclean to God and his Angels. And, being from Zeal, you have those magical auras around you. That is why I have to shield you from detection.”

“Why are you doing this for us?” Crono wondered aloud.

“Ah. You see, I am not from this time period either. I am a time traveler, like yourselves, though I go by choice. We time travelers have to stick together, so, here I am.”

“Where do you come from?” Marle asked.

“You would not believe me if I told you. So, let us get going.” Deciding now, after his story, that this ‘man’ was indeed their ally, the two followed him. Scar first stretched out his hand and shot out a purple beam, incinerating their Zeal garbs, and then began to walk off the dock towards the waterfall. Surprisingly, he did not descend when his last foot stepped over the dock. Instead, he continued walking forward, on air. Even more astonishing, was that they could walk in the same manor. After crossing the wide lake, they came to the base of the waterfall. There, the mist alone would have drenched them again, if not for the shield that had been placed around them. It was also impossible to hear anything except for the roar of the water, so the two simply shrugged and followed Scar through to the other side.

When they escaped from the aquatic cavern, the sight set before them was an astounding one. They were standing on a bridge, but not wooden. It was made out of a fine, smooth stone, most likely marble. It was stronger than that though, sturdier, for the interior was laced with metal. Not only the bridge, but also whole streets reaching out in both directions were made of this alloy. There were streets below them, and streets above as well. Each was lined with rows of buildings, the ceiling of one set of structures being directly beneath the walkway of the next level up. It was a city, terraced to the shape of the cliffs of Jiddah.

As the place where they now stood, every so often, when nature deemed it best, there would be a break in the buildings, which would be replaced by a waterfall. From one of the bridges that spanned the gap, one could look up to the sky, or down to the swelling mist formed where the cascade crashed into the ocean. There was hardly time to enjoy the view however. As one would expect from such a large city, it was bustling. People were heading every which way, though some at a normal stroll, most walking at a brisk pace. They would come up or down from a different level, hurry down the street to where they were going, and then head back again

Although it was difficult, over the crowds and the waterfalls, Crono and Marle heard Scar speaking to them. “I think I can hold up my shield for a while now that we are out of the Sacred Grave. Go ahead and walk around for awhile. I need to find my friend. In half an hour, meet us over there.” He pointed to a large, easily recognized store, but then redirected his gesture to a small alley right next to the building. The two nodded, and then he was gone.

Taking hold of each other’s hand, both so that they would not become separated and as a sign of affection, Crono and Marle began to amble down the path of the city. There was clearly two separate side of the street. There was their right, the side closest to the steep cliffs, and their left, protruding continually out towards the ocean. The right side was lined with shops, houses, and other buildings, from there one could gaze up to the top of the cliffs and up to the sky. The left was filled with a small row of garden, both green and exotic plants, where one could take in a wonderful view of the rest of the cliff-side city and the ocean below. With the hub of the crowds swarming around the stores and other building, Crono and Marle visited the shops as well.

They passed by stores selling food, clothes similar to the ones they had on, armor, jewelry, potions, accessories, and other items, but the passed them all up because they carried none of this times’ currency. Finally, they came to a shop that perked their interests. Although Marle had enjoyed the display of jewelry, they both browsed through the weapons shop. Strangely, there were no swords, shields, staffs, or any other weapons that they were familiar with. Instead, there were small, finely crafted, metal weapons. They had a long tube connected to a handle along with a trigger. “Excuse me, sir.” Crono addressed the shopkeeper. “Could you show me this?”

“Certainly, sir.” Picking up the weapon, he held it gently with two hands, displaying it to Crono. “This here is the Pagan Pistol, one of our latest handguns. Instead of bullets, it takes small crystals packed with Murak energy.” Taking out a small crystal from his pocket, he showed it to them as he held it with two fingers. It was a perfectly smooth gem, lustrous with a violet glow. The man then loaded it into the gun. “Unfortunately, we have yet to upgrade this new ammunition into the double barrel model…”

“I’ll take it.” Crono, Marle, and the shopkeeper turned to see a young woman. Her hair was, for whatever reason they could not come up with, purple. It was relatively short, about shoulder length, falling down in a crescent around behind her. Despite the unique color of her hair, it went well with her eyes, as they were purple as well. Opposite of her hair, but still yet to clash, was the colors of her outfit. Although she was dressed in the same black and white colors that most people seemed to where now, there was also something about her uniform that screamed out with importance. Just as Scar, she sported a black cloak; hers pulled back over her shoulders. Beneath, she was clad in a white, very tight uniform. It reached from her shoulders all the way down two her toes. It was pure, the only disreprantcies her bare arms, a loose, crooked black belt, and two black stripes that went down each side.

“Lady Goth…” the storekeeper uttered. “I did not know you used guns. I thought your specialty was the cross-blade.”

“It is. I will need a new supply of those as well.”

“Yes Calis. May I ask why?”

“Normally, no, but for you, Gad, I’ll elaborate. Pentance has discovered the location of Heathen Black Market. In just a minute now, we will be making our strike.”

“Ah, very good Miss Goth. I shall return with your order.” The shopkeeper, Gad, then went away into the back of his shop.

The girl, who despite her titles was just nineteen, then turned to the two ‘civilians.’ “How are you today?”

“Very well, thank you Lady.” Marle replied.

“Please, call me Calis. I only allow Gad to use my titles because he is too scared not too.”

“Thank you, Calis.”

She nodded. “So, what do you need weapons for?”

“Uhm, uh...” Crono stuttered. “We, uhm, were just browsing.”

“Ah. Well, if you ever do decide to come into the Pentance fold, stop here first. Gad always carries the most current weapons.”

Just then, Gad came back carrying a whole load of leather pouches shaped like a cross. “Here you go.” They each had a long strap, which Calis placed over her shoulder when Gad gave them to her. He then handed her the Pagan Pistol she had asked for and she put it into a holster in her belt. “Should I put this on your account, Lady Goth?”

“Yes please.”

“Could I see some identification?”

“Ugh, you and your credit. Never mind then, here.” With a quick twirl of her hand, she now held a dozen small gold coins and dropped them into his hand.

“Thank you Lady.”

“Now, I had best be off, good day to you all.” She then pulled her cloak around her. Where the two ends met in the front, a white cross was formed, the sign of the Pentance. Then, slipping into the masses, she blended in and disappeared.

Seeing that there was nothing new to learn here, he turned to Marle and asked, “How long has it been?”

“Oh no! I don’… err, I am not sure.”

“We had better hurry and get back to Scar then. Come on.” Taking Calis’ lead and joining the crowd they hurried back to the waterfall where they had entered the city. They passed by a large building and turned down into a small alley. Instantly the sparkling sun that had shone down upon them was blotted out and things grew dark. They made there way over to a short flight of stairs that went down. From there, they opened a door and came into a small, dark room. Despite the lack of light, they could see things clearly.

Scar was there, wrapped in his black cloak. Someone was behind him, a man, dressed in a white uniform. With one arm around Scar’s neck and the other holding a gun to his head, their friend was not in the greatest position. Seeing them finally come into the room he growled, “What took you so long?”


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