Chrono Trigger Novel Demo Chapter 2

The Millennial Fair

By Wayne Kramer

            Truce Village had never seen a more beautiful, joyous day than the first day of the new year, circa A.D. 1000.  Guardia Castle stood high above, just northwest of the village, watching over the Guardia Forest surrounding it and the entire island that it practically held down.  The stature of its location made it the ultimate symbol of authority throughout the land, for it housed a highly respected King and royal staff within its thick walls.  The Kingdom of Guardia consisted of several islands in all, which could be accessed through a variety of means.  Mainly, there were two islands that held the majority of the population.  They were just north or south of each other and were often referred to as the Northern Continent, where Truce was located, or the Southern Continent, where Porre resided on the southernmost tip.

            Truce and Porre were a noteworthy distance from one another, but most travelers chose to walk between the two simply for the varied scenery and exercise.  At the end of the rolling hills that flowed from the castle, the continents were linked about a ten minute’s walk west of Truce and south of Guardia Forest by Zenan Bridge, a popular spot where many liked to stop and watch the breathtaking sunrise or sunset in the distant horizon.  Going from the bridge to Porre required a journey past the Denadoro Mountains east of the bridge through a small sandy landscape in the south.  Many considered this portion of the journey to be a small desert, though, in actuality, it was more of an extended beach that had made its way towards the center of the island in a most peculiar way.  From here, one would continue to trek south-southeast past the Enchanted Forest by the west coast to the grassy site of Porre, which was much like Truce in several limited ways.  Of course, the easy alternative was to pay for a brief ferry ride between the two towns.

            To the east of Truce’s Northern Continent was the location of Medina on a somewhat ambiguous island.  Few citizens from Truce ever made the journey because of the Mystics inhabiting that region.  Everyone knew that Mystics hated humans, and besides, why would anyone want to have an encounter with the various monsters that lived there?  They had, after all, been banished there after the epic war between men and Mystics four hundred years before.  Nevertheless, a dusting of people lived outside of the town, primarily as hermits.

            The other mentionable island contained a number of denizens of the kingdom, most of whom resided in the town of Choras.  Many renowned carpenters lived there, including several who regularly helped in some construction work throughout Truce and Guardia Castle.  The island was a great distance southeast from Truce, and far to the east of Porre.  The only safe way of traveling was by way of charter ferryboats that originated from Porre on a weekly basis or on special occasions such as the millennial celebrations.  Because of the distance, it was more atypical for a traveler from Choras to be seen wandering the streets of Porre or Truce than it was to see someone from Porre or Truce in Choras.

            Indeed, peace was evident throughout the great Kingdom of Guardia.  Everything was at its best in the town of Truce that morning.  The birds were singing gallantly from Guardia Forest in competition with the joyous cawing of the seagulls from the ocean’s shores.  The natural activity and premature green grass were sure signs of an early spring, accounting for the pleasantly mild weather under a bright, shining sun.  Vast arrays of balloons ascended into the air from Leene Square, marking the kickoff of the Millennial Fair as crowds from far and wide flung themselves through the entrance.

            There are always those who find a suitable peace in the simple realm of darkness.  Sometimes our own jumbled stories are told in our dreams, where anything can happen.  Then there is the sudden tug from reality…

            “Crono…Crono!  Good morning, Crono!”  Crono felt all such visions vanish as his mother, Jina, called his name.  He also heard the clear ringing of a large bell coming from outside.  At first, he reasoned that he was recovering from an unfinished dream, but soon realized that it was real.  Then he opened his eyes as though an angry bug had just bitten him, and his mind suddenly connected with his body again.  There his mother stood, by his bed of a straw mattress, gazing down at him with motherly gentleness through small brown eyes.  Her lightly grayed hair was pulled up in the back, and she smiled as Crono met his eyes with hers.  “Come on, sleepy head!  Get up!”

            Crono shook his head wearily and moaned.  He watched his mother walk over to the window at a place where he would have to raise his head to see, an action that was unthinkable.  She whipped open the curtains as Crono peered around the headboard of the bed to see the sunrays radiating from her pink granny dress and white apron.  Crono’s golden-furred Somali cat sat by its dish below the window, patiently watching the always-puzzling things the humans did.  Without looking away from the world outside, Jina said, “Ah, Leene’s Bell makes such beautiful music!”  She finally turned and walked back to the bed, seeing his reluctance to move.  “You were so excited about the Millennial Fair that you didn’t sleep well, did you?  I want to you behave yourself today!”  She began to walk back away from the bed and started to turn a corner to the stairs leading down, but stopped again. “Let’s get moving now!  I declare you teenagers get lazier everyday!”  With that, she left the small, simple room, the cat trailing behind.

            Crono jumped up as though kicked out of bed and grabbed his favorite wraps of clothes to put over the pine green surcoat he was still wearing from the previous night.  They consisted of a blue, sleeveless tunic that looked like a piece of fabric wrapped around his upper body, overlapping itself to make an X pattern across his chest and coming down above his knees and a yellow piece of material tied around his neck like a short lorum or scarf.  He snatched a long, white bandana from a shelf of many books and tied it around his head, leaving the two ends dangling in the back.  A leather belt was fastened around the blue tunic complete with an attached pouch for any little item Crono wished to carry.  Then, he grabbed his wooden bokuto and fit it snuggly under his belt.  He had an immense proclivity for swordsmanship, and often carried the weapon with him everywhere he traveled.  His tunics were quite baggy over his equally big white breeches but made for a look that was considerably fashionable throughout the land.  The green, coverall surcoat that was under everything else was visible where the short white pants stopped and continued down into the light leather boots he had just slipped on.  As he made his way across the room, he glanced casually at the empty cat dish under his window.  “Empty again…” he said, making a mental note of what would soon be a feline emergency.

He looked down at his bokuto, a mere wooden sword used as a training weapon, patting it fondly.   Today, on the first day of the new millennium, he planned to purchase his first “real” sword from one of the booths at the fair, where some of the most renowned merchants in the kingdom would be with their best weapons.  Through boyhood, he and Fritz practiced together on a regular basis, and his admiration of the art of swordplay only grew with time.  Crono had spent the bulk of his teenage years admiring the skilled swordsmen of the Knights of the Square Table, eventually enrolling in a prestigious course in swordsmanship led by one of the castle’s most respected soldiers.  In fact, many top students from the military academy regularly enrolled in the course before their knighthood.  Though Crono only actually owned a simple wooden training weapon, the bokuto, on many occasions, he had practiced with forged blades of iron or steel and still excelled above many of his fellow students from the academy.  So, after a few years of chasing his passion, he felt all too eager and ready to obtain his first sword and sheath, even on his modest budget.

He quickly straightened his spiked, punk-like hair and went down the stairs, grabbing several coins worth 500G (the “G” being a short reference for the word “gold” in Guardia) he had saved.

            Jina stood right at the bottom, waiting for him.  “Finally!  By the way, that inventor friend of yours…Uh…you know…!  Oh dear, I’ve forgotten her name!”

            “It’s Lucca, Mom.”  Crono never ceased to be amazed by his mother’s tendency to forget names.  He sometimes wondered if she would end up forgetting his, too.

            “That’s right, Lucca!  Don’t forget that she invited you to see her new invention!”

            “Trust me, she made sure to remind me last night.  I won’t forget.”

            His mom nodded and handed him four gold pieces.  “Here’s your 200G allowance.  Run along now, and be back before dinner.”  She turned and went around the corner towards the sink and the stove of their kitchen.

            Crono looked up from the coins in his hand with a wide smile on his face.  Only on rare occasions could his mother spare him spending money.  “Thanks!  See you later!”  He scratched the cat’s head and darted out the door past the red velvet Chippendale chair.  Once outside, he stepped onto the street and peered around, slightly taken-aback by the masses of people that were heading up the hill towards the square.  “Geez, it’s a seven-day event, people," he mumbled silently, as if talking to the crowd, but keeping the words to himself.  "No need to kill each other over the first morning.”  Then he looked all around beyond the people and was greeted by a gallant, warm sun and puffy, white clouds.  Wow, it is a great looking day, though, he thought to himself.  With that, he turned left and walked off the street corner of cobblestone through the grassy expanse between his house and the chain of buildings south of there.  He saw several white seagulls flying high above in the foreground of a pretty, blue sky.  The ocean’s waves were crashing calmly on the eastern shores as he stepped through the season’s new, soft grass.  In a short time, he arrived at the other street, turning to enter the café for a quick breakfast.

            The café was actually Truce Inn, which served as both.  Crono realized how crowded the place would be.  As he walked through the door, a small group of people flooded out, forcing him to squeeze through the entrance.  “Hey, watch it!” he managed to yell as they ran towards the square.  The last person out slammed the wooden door behind him, leaving Crono speaking to no one but the door.  He turned coolly and walked straight ahead to the counter, passing by a large table to his right.  Much to his surprise, there weren’t as many people there as he had thought there would be. Most of them had probably just pushed their way through the door.

            The weary-looking bartender and innkeeper eyed him as he sat down.  “Hey there, Crono!  You just missed the bulk of the crowd.”

            Crono nodded in agreement, eyeing the hazardous doorway behind him.  “Not by much.”  He turned back to the bartender, perceiving signs of stress in his face.  “Looks like you’ve had a rough morning.  I’ll just have the usual.”  He sat down at the chair closest to him.

            The innkeeper began putting together Crono’s breakfast as he talked.  “Nothing could have prepared me for what we saw here last night and this morning.”  He brought a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs to Crono and set it down in front of him.  “We made plenty of money alright, but we had people who were willing to pay to sleep on the floor!  It was a madhouse!  That’ll be 5G.”  Crono handed him a gold coin worth 20G, and he took it, turning to put it away and get his change.  “We’ve never seen such a high demand for lodging before!  It’s all because of the Millennial Fair, of course!”

            A local resident sitting beside Crono asked, “Have you been to the fair yet?”

            “Me?  Of course not!  I’ve been up to my nose in travelers!”  He laid Crono’s change on the counter.  “Have a nice day.”

            Crono dropped the coins into his pouch with the others, responding to both men at once, “Thank you, and take it easy.  I haven’t been to the fair yet, but I’m headed that way.”

            The man beside him set down his mug and turned excitedly.  “I was there for the kick-off, and boy was that a trip!  All kinds of balloons were released and loud popping noises sounded everywhere!  Then someone rang the bell to signal the start of it all.  The crowds got so dense that I had to leave and grab a bite to eat, but I plan to spend all of my Silver Points at the ‘Tent of Horrors’ when I go back!”

            Crono had started to pick up his plate, but stopped, remembering Lucca’s mention of the new currency from before.  “Silver Points?  What’re those?”

            “Oh…they’re like tokens, but even better!  You can win them and buy prizes with them, or even trade them for real money!  But best of all is using them in the ‘Tent of Horrors!’  Check it out!”

            “I’ll do that…thanks.”  He picked up his tray and sat down at the far end of a large wooden table near a piano below the stairwell.  Hurriedly, he dug into his food as though he hadn’t eaten in weeks, which certainly wasn’t the case.

            He gulped down a glass of water that was on the table, and a waitress quickly snatched it up.  “Want more water?”  Her tone was quick and imperative.

            Crono managed to lift his head to talk from a mouthful of eggs. “Yesh, please,” came the muffled response.  He stopped and watched the waitress rush back to the bar, sloppily pour the water, and rush back, nearly spilling half of the liquid.  As he watched, he realized that he would be watching nearly every girl he saw to find the one he had talked with the night before.  “Rough morning?” he asked when she arrived.

            Crono jumped as she slammed the glass down on the table. “…All these stupid people!  They just come in, sit down, talk, and eat!  What am I doing?!  I’m stuck here, running around, saying, ‘Yes, sir’, ‘Yes, ma’am’, ‘Would you like some more to drink, sir?’  I feel like saying, ‘Come on in!  Take your bloody time!  I’d rather serve you than go to the fair, anyway!’”  Just then, a man at the end of the table raised his arm to signal the waitress, triggering an anguished sigh as she left.  Crono knew she wasn’t the girl from last night.  Her personality was all wrong.

            There were several others sitting at the table, including his next-door neighbor.  She was located in the chair nearest to Crono, but was situated more towards the other end of the table, where she was talking with a man and a woman.  He saw that all of them were young adults and recognizable from the streets of Truce, but didn’t know them well.  Their conversation began to linger into Crono’s ears as they spoke.  Immediately, he heard the young man blurt out, “That brat, Lucca, says she’s made the discovery of a lifetime.”

            Outraged, Crono moved his chair closer and retorted, “Hey!  That brat happens to be a friend of mine, and I’m going to see her invention now.”

            The man turned to Crono and raised an eyebrow calmly; in fact, they were all watching him now.  Crono nodded his head in greeting to his neighbor, but refocused as the other man spoke.  “Yeah, well, don’t set yer hopes high, kid.  You know that stuff never works.”

            Crono shuddered at being called “kid.”  That title had become one of his pet peeves, starting around his sixteenth birthday.  He regained his poise and replied, “We’ll see.  So how are you, miss?”  Strategically, he turned to the man’s wife.

            She smiled cordially and replied, “Great, thank you!  We were just about to head out, as well…The thought of a new millennium is so exciting!  I’m so happy, I could scream!”

            Her husband puffed out a grunt of disapproval to his wife’s overexcitement.  “Humph!  All for one stupid fair!  The only thing that could top this would be some sort of late night celebration.  What a great idea!  We’ll bring all you rowdy kids and invite the criminals of the land to join us!  It’s overblown, ridiculous commercialism, if you ask me!  The people in the castle just want to keep us happy!”

            “Well, nobody asked you, dear…”

            Crono jumped right in, “Come on, you two will have a great time!  A millennium only comes once a lifetime, you know!”

            “Great, no more fairs!” shouted the man.  “I’ll bet every merchant gets robbed at least twice—this morning alone!”

            “Perhaps we should change the subject…” Crono’s neighbor interceded, shifting to a royal topic.  “I believe that the Chancellor has hired a new force of guards for the prison.”

            “I know about that,” replied the man’s wife.  “But I heard that no one is familiar with where they came from or how much skill they have as actual guards.”

            The man leaned forward on the table, saying, “They probably hired them in a hurry to deal with all of the criminal activity they expect from the fair.”

            “What about the King?” continued Crono’s neighbor as though ignoring the man’s previous statement.  “That was a very enthusiastic speech he gave.”

            “It’s the same every year!” he blurted back.

            “Oh, lighten up.  People need to remember their history.  Hard to believe Guardia is now a thousand years old, and our King is the thirty-third descendent to the throne!  What amazes me is how a king can rule a kingdom when he can’t even control his own daughter!”

            “What are you yapping about now?” snapped the man in a foolish attempt to regain his authority.  His wife rolled her eyes at the careless response.

            “It’s just some gossip, that’s all.”  She threw back her chest-length blond hair.  “I only heard that the King is in anguish over his tomboy daughter.  Apparently, she’s very rebellious, and the King can’t keep control of her…”  She leaned in slightly closer and added, “At least, not as much as he’d like.”

            “Really?  Who cares?!”  The ill-tempered man leaned back as though untouchable.

            His wife soon silenced him.  “Honey…”


            “Shut-up!”  He looked at her with great puzzlement, his mouth half-agape.  Crono decided it was time to leave, so he picked up his plate and glass and moved to the counter.

            Crono handed his dish and glass to the confused innkeeper.  “Here.  I think your waitress has got enough stress as it is…Seems like everyone who’s not at the fair does, actually.”  The innkeeper accepted the items, and Crono turned to leave.

            “Hey, Crono.”  Crono turned back around to the innkeeper.  “Have you figured out a way to open that black box upstairs yet?”  The box he referred to belonged to the owners of the inn, and it had been passed down through countless generations before.  Confident that it couldn’t be done, they had told Crono that if he could ever find a way to open the stubborn thing, then he could have whatever was inside.  So, Crono had tried every method known to open it, but was always unsuccessful.  It was a very unique box with no apparent openings, locks, or breakpoints.  The box could not be broken, and had almost become like a curse on his life.  Shaped into a perfect cube with rounded edges, there was a type of golden crest on the front.  It had baffled every person who ever had tried to open it, leaving only two options: Either the box had been designed long ago as a frustrating practical joke, or it had been sealed by some sort of mysterious force.

            Crono smiled and answered the bartender’s question, “I’m working on it!”  Of course, he had no idea how he would accomplish this, but was always determined to try something.  With these words behind him, he half-ran out the door and made a right towards the square, which resided at the base of Truce Canyon at the northern edge of the village.  As he joined the apparent exodus, he could already begin to hear the joyful noises of the festival.  He breathed a deep breath of fresh air and continued up the hill.  “This is going to be a great day,” he said to himself.

            As he left the town with the wave of people, staring up the hill pensively, his thoughts were suddenly concentrated on the many conversations he had heard while at the square the night before.  “I hope Fritz has made it back from his buying trip,” he said as he walked.  “Elaine’s going to be really upset if he hasn’t…” He continued to stroll up the path in a pensive, unhurried way.  He kept thinking of Fritz and later thought of Lucca’s poor mother, Lara.  She had been caught up in a terrible accident involving a large machine with a conveyor belt ten years prior.  Lucca rarely spoke of how she had tried to save her mother, but was too young to understand how to turn the scathing machine off.  As a result of the accident, Lara lost the use of her legs, and Lucca vowed to learn more about machines with her dad, Taban.  It was highly uncommon to see Lucca and Taban doing anything together other than working on contraptions of all sorts.  Crono knew that they would both be at the fair, which would leave Lara by herself at home, having no method of mobilization.  As he passed between the break in the woods’ line of foliage, he decided that he should probably pay her a visit later.

            With that out of his mind, he stepped onto the sandstone block surface of Leene Square, knowing that nothing could possibly ruin this glorious day.


*     *     *


            “Welcome to the Millennial Fair!  Have fun!”  Crono was slightly taken-aback when a short, old man standing at the square’s entrance suddenly shouted this ecstatic greeting.

            “Uh…thanks…” He cautiously stepped around the man and into Leene Square and could scarcely believe his eyes.  The entire square had been transformed into a bustling carnival.  All around were bazaars, merchant tents, oddly shaped balloons, tables, carts, and games.  People were scattered everywhere, but did not obscure his view of the many attractions.

            The entrance level of the square was the largest single section in terms of area.  In the center was a fountain, made from a white sort of building stone.  The base was square with a statue as the focal point, which yielded four separate streams of water—one on each side.  Crono walked straight, towards the north section, where Lucca’s invention would be set up.  “Wow!  I’ve got to check this stuff out after I see Lucca’s display!”

            He walked to the fountain, turning his head every direction as he walked.  To his left he saw several people lined up for their chance to make an elevated bell ring by pounding a target with a large mallet.  There were several merchant tents all around him that sold everything from food to clothing to weapons.  The tents with weapons particularly caught the attention of his wandering eyes as he kept walking.  Far to his right stood a towering tent back in the corner.  Judging by the entrance through the open mouth of a horned skull, he concluded that this was the “Tent of Horrors” he had heard about.  He also observed a large crowd of citizens who were competing in and betting on races around the lower section.

            When he had marveled long enough, he hurried up the steps to the uppermost section, where the King had given his speech the night before.  Leene’s Bell stood gleaming in the morning light as it hung from its tall, arched structure.  Two men who were blocking the north section stopped him.  “They’re still setting up,” one said.  He then turned around, adding,  “I think they should be done in just a little while.”  Crono thought to himself that Lucca and her father, Taban, must surely have something exceptionally complex for their setup to be delayed.  Disappointed, he nodded and approached a near-by candy stand.

            “That’s a lot of candy, there!  Stocked up for the fair?” he said to the merchant, who was a rather large woman.

            “Humph!  I hate fairs!  Say, do you know the latest gossip?”

            Crono sighed helplessly, “I don’t believe so…”

            “Well…Just between us, I heard that the King’s daughter has caused uproar in the castle, and the King is all distressed.”

            “Really…?”  He raised his eyebrows with mock interest and moved his head away as though seeing something of greater significance.  “Well, I probably need to be going now.” He turned away and went down to the west section, which was slightly lower than the upper section he was on.  “I can’t stand gossip,” he muttered solemnly.

            Walls from the above section and from the main section enclosed this western portion of the square.  The other boundaries consisted of surrounding trees from the edge of Guardia Forest.  After reaching the bottom of the steps, he followed the wall to the right, where two long tables sat with various goods resting under brightly striped canopies.

            At the end of one of the tables sat a satchel of seemingly unclaimed food and a cat sitting below it.  “Hey, there, little friend.  Did you want something to eat?”  It rubbed against his legs with its intrinsic suave.  He looked around and saw no one watching, so he reached into the satchel and dropped some small morsels before the cat, taking a little for himself.  “Sure is nice to leave free food lying around for people, isn’t it?”

            As the cat ate, Crono looked into the satchel for more goodies.  Just then, he heard the call of a fairly distant voice, “Hey, you!”  An enraged old man with glasses and a perfectly smooth head was running from the other end of the table, waving his arms with rage.

            “Oops…that must be your owner.”  He patted the cat’s back and ran back up to the upper level.

            As he dashed towards the bell, he looked back to see if the man was coming.  In his haste, he failed to notice the beautiful young lady also cantering around the bell.  Unable to stop in time, they collided with a hard thud and fell like rocks.  “Hey!” gasped the girl as the air was knocked from her lungs.  “Ouch, that hurts!”  She got up, caught her breath, and leaned over Crono, who was still rubbing his head from the fall.  “I’m sorry!  Are you okay?”

            Crono shook his head and leaned up.  He opened his eyes and looked straight into hers, suddenly in hypnosis.  The girl seemed equally frozen as Crono looked her over from head to toe.  Her pale, soft skin matched the stunning features in her face and her shining hair of gold that was loosely fastened into a ponytail.  Her top left the shoulders uncovered, coming down to a large gold-colored belt with a small, decorative chain fastened in the front and continuing around the right leg to the back.  A small, green pouch was hanging from her belt.  On her right arm were two large, close-fitting, golden bracelets—one around the upper arm and one below the wrist.  She wore another on her left forearm.  A quiver of arrows and crossbow were secured around her back.  She wore harem pants that matched her top’s pearl color and appeared quite baggy.  On her feet were brown leather sandals with a loop for the big toe.

            They stared at each other in perpetual remembrance as the events from the night before filled their minds.  Visions of their first encounter became alive to them as though they were reliving the entire episode all over again.  The midnight celebration where she had slipped away; the unlikelihood of them meeting again; the unforgettable walk they had taken through Truce and to the ocean’s peaceful shores—all these things became animate like flowing winds within their memories.

            They both snapped into reality when Leene’s Bell suddenly rang out.  Its music sounded more like the beautiful ringing of chimes than that of an ancient bell.  The girl looked back, expecting to see the catalyst, but saw no one other than the candy merchant and another man who exchanged Silver Points for gold currency.  Neither was close enough to the bell to ring it, and neither seemed phased by its impulsive resounding.  Suddenly, as though realizing something, she began to feel around her neck, Crono watching in fascination.  “Oh no!  My pendant!  I was holding it…It must have fallen somewhere!”  She got up and frantically started searching the grounds.

            Crono leapt up and joined her.  “It can’t be far.  Are you okay?”

            “Yes…I’m okay…”  She turned to him desperately.  “Don’t tell me I lost it!”

            He began searching like a starving animal seeking food.  Not far from the base of Leene’s Bell, he saw a small pendant with a chain of gold containing some sort of gem that was dull red, almost purple, in color.  Grabbing it, he shot an odd glance at the bell and rushed it to the girl.  “Oh, thank goodness!  My pendant!  It has a lot of sentimental value!”  Crono watched as she fastened it around her neck securely.  He wasn’t sure what to say, but he knew that this was the girl he had been with the night before.

            After securing the pendant, the girl looked back up at Crono, revealing a bit of shame in her face.  “I suppose I owe you an explanation…”

            “Yes, please!  I mean…I thought I might never see you again…Well, I mean…”

            She smiled a bit more comfortably.  He had a way of making her feel more at ease in the nervous way he would speak.  “I’m not sure what to say.  I’m a little nervous around soldiers…and I had to get home.  It’s very hard to explain.  I just wanted to see the festivities with the rest of the people…and meet some people.  You…live in this town, don’t you?”  Before Crono could respond, she shook her head in self-retribution.  “Of course!  How could I forget that lovely town?!  Forgive me; I feel a little out of place here.  Would you mind if I walked around with you for awhile?”

            Both stunned and overjoyed, Crono quickly answered, “Sure!  Uh, I mean, not at all, er—you know—sure!”

            She smiled again.  Crono believed that it was the most amazing smile he had ever witnessed.  “You’re a true gentleman!  Oh, by the way…my name is, er…um, Marle!  And you’re?”

            Now Crono smiled too, despite Marle’s slight stutter.  “I’m Crono.”

            “Crono?  What a nice name!  Pleased to meet you, at least, without a disguise!  Now, lead on!”

            “What’s that you have there?” asked Crono, pointing to the strange item by her side.

            “It’s a crossbow.  I carry it around wherever I go.  Self-protection thing…”  It wasn’t unusual for citizens to carry a weapon of some sort with them on a regular basis in the Kingdom of Guardia.  It was a practice that had originated those four centuries ago during the battles with the Mystics.

            “Oh.  Hey, I don’t think that’s weird.  I’ve got a sword that I always carry, too.  Well, actually, it’s not a real sword, but I’m going to buy one today.  I’ve been practicing for years.  Not that it’s anything much, being as cheap as it is—and kind of a…stick—but I know how to use it!”

            “I’m sure you do.”

            “So, have you been to any of the attractions, yet?”

            “Not anything in particular, though I did hear some strange music coming from down there,” she pointed to the far corner of the eastern section, which was basically a mirror image of the west section.  “We could check that out, I suppose.”

            Crono nodded his head, half attentive to her words and half attentive to her smooth, striking face.  “Sure, that sounds great to me!”

            The two of them proceeded down the steps into that section, where they soon passed a wooden table with several red soda cans sitting in two lines.  By the table was an incredibly large stash of more sodas and a large sign reading “Soda Guzzling Contest!” in black painted letters.  Crono, intrigued by the sight, was not immune to the boyhood action of showing off.  “Let’s try that out!”

            The contest was quite simple: Drink eight cans of soda in one minute and you would get five Silver Points on your card.  Crono and Marle stepped up to the stand.  “Try your luck at soda guzzling, kid?” bellowed the large tenant.

            Crono snatched up the first soda, outraged at once again being called “kid”.  “Yes…I am.”


            It was a grueling minute for the determined Crono, but he managed to gulp down all eight just in time.  A large belch followed, and the tenant appeared impressed.  “Not bad!  Here’s a card with five Silver Points for the ‘Tent of Horrors’ and other stuff.”

            Marle laughed as Crono held his stomach.  “You’re awfully competitive, aren’t you, Crono?”  She gave him a comforting pat on the back as they continued towards the deep, resounding music around a corner ahead.

            Once they had reached the area where the prehistoric music was originating, they pushed through a curtain of leafed vines hanging from a green horizontal pole and entered a small, square section surrounded by trees and set up with tables in the middle and a large stage at the far end.  Various assortments of foods were set on the tables, but much of it looked slightly unpleasant to the common, modern villager.  All around people in primitive attire were dancing to the Jurassic style rhythm being played on antediluvian instruments such as hide-based bongo drums and tambourines and a long sort of woodwind clarinet carved of a light variety of timber.  To their amusement, there were even a couple of bizarre looking men beating hollow logs with bones.  The smooth beat of the music soon stuck in their heads as they curiously gazed around the scene with complete fascination and amusement.

            “Uncanny!” Marle exclaimed at the sight.

            “Do you suppose this is really Jurassic music?” asked Crono.

            “Beats me,” she answered.  “It sure sounds authentic though!”

            He glanced at the food assortments, even though the stuff didn’t really seem to invite his appetite.  “You hungry for some prehistoric food?”

            Marle’s expression revealed much disgust as she looked over a bowl of raw fish.  Quite obviously, the designers of this attraction had been going for authenticity.  “No, not really…but I do have a real craving for ice cream for some reason…”

            “Oh, really?  We’ll see if we can find some later!”

            She smiled at his offer, “Sure!”

They stayed there for a short while, though long enough for the redundant music to surely stick in their heads.  From there, they headed back up towards Leene’s Bell and down the steps to the main section.

            For over an hour the two of them ran around the square, participating in every event.  Crono had rang the bell with the mallet several times, each time gaining a Silver Point and Marle’s growing admiration.  After he finished there, the two of them managed to find an ice cream stand off to the side within the main section, but the merchants there had already used up their supply and were waiting for more, so Marle’s craving remained unsatisfied.  They placed bets on the races, which were no-lose, win-only bets worth twenty Silver Points.  Someone could lose the bet, but they wouldn’t lose any Silver Points.  One time, Crono even ran, and won Marle the twenty points for her bet on him.  The day was going better than either of them could have imagined it would.  After a while of dashing around, they stopped at Leene’s Bell for a break.  “How many points do you have?” asked Crono.

            “Twenty, thanks to you!”

            “Hey, you knew who the champion was!”  he replied, provoking a snicker from Marle as he checked his card.  “I’ve got twelve…I wonder where…Hey, I know!  My friend, Lucca, made this big robot that people can fight for Silver Points.  Wanna try it out?”

            “Sure.  It’s not dangerous, is it?”

            “Not as long as it works.  Well…Just stick with me!”

            “Okay!  Let’s go!”

            Gato, Lucca’s robot, was situated in the farthest portion of the western section, which was a square area set up for battling the large contraption.  When they arrived, a line of people had formed, so they were forced to wait.  A couple of signs were posted on some near-by trees for observation.  Crono read them both to Marle while they waited.  “‘The authorities are always watching,’” read the first.  “Hmmm…Looks kind of like a scare tactic from the castle, doesn’t it?”  Marle smiled slightly and Crono read on, “‘Gato can battle no more than three people at once.  To win, hit all of the targets with a weapon or dare to use your fists at close range.’  You hear that?  Looks like he can beat three people.  Still think we can take him?”

            “Of course!” 

After a reasonable wait, they approached the entrance to the battlefield, where a tenant stood behind a small wooden table.  Upon their arrival, he thrust out a graphite writing utensil and a long sheet of paper with names scrolled down the side.  “Sign this, please.”

“What is this?” questioned Crono.

“It’s a liability statement.  You can battle Gato all you want, but it’s at your own risk, kid.”

With an annoyed glare in his eyes, Crono snatched the utensil roughly and scribbled his name on the list.  “Fine,” he replied.  Marle did likewise.  “So,” Crono said to the tenant, “this robot can battle three people?”

“I suppose.  We had to cut it off somewhere…for the robot’s safety.”  He took the paper and dropped it into a box underneath the table.  Then, Crono and Marle left him to enter the fighting area.

            The tenant closed the gate behind them as they entered and looked at one another with a degree of uncertainty.  The bulky machine stood facing them from at least a few feet above their heads with small, beady eyes over a black cavity.  Its obese body structure made for a cumbersome, though potentially powerful design.  The bronze colored plates and head, hands, and appendages of various sizes made for a rather comical appearance with a round door right in the front of the stomach to top it all off.

Crono knew that Gato was the only violent invention ever created by the hands of Lucca as the product of a period of hardship and distress several years after her mother’s accident.  Her mother, Lara had been ridden of the use of her legs since 990 in a terrible accident that Lucca was too young to stop.  Even years after the tragedy had passed, the family experienced a time of great emotional anguish at the reality of Lara’s injury, and it was during this time that Gato was born.  Not long after Lucca had finished her creation, the large robot went berserk and nearly grounded the entire Ashtear household and the conveyor-based machine that had caused Lara’s impairment.  In light of this, some of the townspeople chose to believe that Gato had been Lucca’s strange way of getting revenge on the machine that had crippled her mother, which was preposterous in reality.  Gato was simply Lucca’s first attempt at a humanoid machine.  In memory of this chain of events, however, Crono fervently hoped that his friend had made some modifications to tame it.

After a small period of tense silence, the robot began to sing a rough little ditty that sounded like something Lucca would compose:


                                    “They call me Gato,

                                    I have metal joints.

                                    Beat me up

                                    And earn fifteen Silver Points!”


            The small, round door opened on the fat stomach to reveal a target under a spring-loaded boxing glove.  Crono drew his wooden “sword” and Marle her crossbow as two more targets appeared on Gato’s sides.  Crono looked at her and smiled his trademark grin.  “This should be easy enough.”  She smiled back and acknowledged with a nod.

            Gato advanced towards Crono as he feigned to the left and swung at the target, hitting it hard.  The robot moved both roughly and sluggishly because of his bulky figure.  Marle loaded her bow and shot the other side target with sportsmanlike accuracy.  Gato turned at Crono and shot the glove at a surprising speed.  It was not, however, an unexpected move, so Crono was ready.  He ducked and neatly spun around to catch the third target with his fist.  Gato stopped and backed away, commencing his tune.


                                                “I lost, you won.

                                                Here’s fifteen points,

                                                Now wasn’t that fun?”


            The points were actually obtainable from the tenant, who was quite impressed.  “You two are the best fighters I’ve seen yet!  Good job!”

            “Thank you!” answered Crono gratefully.

            “Yeah, we make a pretty good team, Crono!”  Marle flung her arm around his shoulder and he did the same, smiling sheepishly at the tenant, who smiled and moved in the next group.

            They went back to Gato several times until they had accumulated one hundred and thirty Silver Points.  In search for more action, they wandered over to the east section of the square’s upper levels.  About the time they reached the Soda Guzzling Contest, which was in full swing between multiple participants, they saw a small girl crying by an empty tent.  “Oh no, Crono!” exclaimed Marle.  “Look!”

            Crono approached the girl with the expression of concern.  “Hey, there.  What’s wrong?”

            The girl, with a green bow tied in her blonde hair, sobbed as she explained, “My kitty ran away and I can’t find him anywhere!”

            Crono stood straight, remembering the cat he had seen before.  “Marle, stay here with the girl.  I think I know where her cat is.”  She nodded and knelt down with the girl as Crono left them.

            He crept down the steps to the west section, hoping not to see the man who had run him off earlier.  Since he had not seen the man in any of their previous trips to Gato, he reasoned that he was safe.  He didn’t have to go far to find the cat, who was lounging worry-free on a mostly-empty cart.  As discreetly as he could, he swept the calm cat up and carried it away.  Crono figured the cat’s tranquility had come from developing a certain tolerance to being played with by the little girl and any siblings she may have had.  It remained mostly still save for a few squirms of discomfort at the passing crowds and walking up or down steps.

            Marle was still squatting by the girl, speaking to her in a reassuring tone.  She turned her head to see Crono coming.  “Look!  Is that your kitty?”

            The girl’s face practically morphed into one of joy and relief.  “You brought my cat back!  Thank you!”  Crono transferred the intervened creature to the girl’s outstretched arms.  He stood back and smiled as she embraced the powerless cat, completely oblivious of her previous state of affairs.

            “You’re so sweet, Crono!” Marle expressed suddenly.

            Crono looked at her with a faintly blushed face, and their eyes met, causing a dual reaction of affable smiles.  Crono had never felt so content in all his life as he was in this moment, and neither had Marle.  He wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it, but he knew that there was a chemistry forming between them with a formula unknown to him.  At all costs, he knew that he must keep her from getting away again, as she had last night.

            His thoughts were interrupted when she said, “So, what’re we going to do with all of these Silver Points?”

            “Well…we haven’t been to the ‘Tent of Horrors’ yet.  Think we can handle it?” he said half-jokingly.

            “You bet!  Let’s go, I’ve heard they’ve got some really neat games and prizes!”  They hurried to the entrance section of the square, turning left at the bottom of the steps.  Around the edge of a corner fence of small posts along the attraction’s side, they came upon a rather short, stocky man standing like a guardian by the entrance.

            The tenant’s beady eyes caught them, and he abruptly became alive.  “Greetings!  This is the renowned ‘Tent of Horrors!’  Spend your Silver Points here!”  He leaned in to add, “Parental discretion advised…Trust me, friends, this show will make you soil your pants!” and resumed his position.  Crono and Marle looked at one another, shrugged, and entered through the skull’s agape mouth.

            The inside of the tent was more like a dungeon, complete with sounds of dripping water amongst utter silence.  Two cauldrons sat on each side of a cell closed off by an authentic-looking portcullis.  The cauldrons contained blazing flames that lit the area several feet before the cell, but left a small region near the entrance still in darkness.

            Crono cautiously stepped in, waiting for some villainous creature or contraption to spring out.  As Marle followed, the entrance closed behind them and a form became visible in the darkness.  “Crono, look!” exclaimed Marle.

            The figure wasn’t full, but resembled only a person’s head and hands showing amidst the blackness, a trick that certainly had to be the product of some type of sorcery or illusion.  The face was pale with a white stripe painted across the face and over the eyes and nose.  Marle slowly and cautiously began to approach the form, wondering if it was real or simply an illusion.  Before she was too close, however, the form burst into laughter that died off into the air, sending her clinging onto Crono’s arm impulsively.  His face and arms began to move, and, with a reverberating echo, he cordially addressed them.  “Welcome to Norstein Bekkler’s lab.  I am Norstein Bekkler, a man of age and background unrevealed to your minds.  The spine-tingling show is about to start!”  One of his pale hands pointed to Crono.  “How many Silver Points would you like to pay?  We have attractions for ten, forty, and eighty…”

            “We have one hundred and thirty,” he replied with a small grin.  “So we’ll take them all!”

            The esoteric form remained without an expression until bursting out, “All three games, each worth a very unique prize…Let’s begin!”  The cell’s portcullis shot upward as three men with identical faces and dressed as soldiers marched out.  They formed a horizontal line, blankly staring forward as though hypnotized by the wall behind Crono and Marle.  Starting from the first on the left, they stepped out to state their names and filed back in line like professional army men.

            “I’m Vicks.”

            “I’m Piette.”

            “I’m Wedge.”

            When the third had filed back, they suddenly shuffled themselves, running in confusing circles and dashing back and forth until reforming their line.  Norstein Bekkler shot out, “Find Vicks!”

            Crono looked to Marle, who pensively scratched her head.  “Hmmm…I’m not perfectly sure, Crono, but I think it’s that one.”  She pointed to the man now standing in the middle.

            Crono reaffirmed her answer by saying, “It’s the guy in the middle.”

            Bekkler turned his Mystical eyes to the man in-between.  “State your name, sir!”

            He stepped forward astutely, “I’m Vicks…Is it that obvious?”  From behind his back, he pulled out a small, white, fuzzy doll with stubby appendages and somewhat large eyes.

            “It’s a Poyozo doll.  It’ll spruce up in your room!”  Before Crono could question him on the location of his house, Bekkler went on.  “Let us continue!”  The three men re-entered the dark cell and disappeared.  “You seem like a strong lad.  What if the world had more like you?”

            Marle spoke excitedly to Crono.  “This is so mysterious!  I wonder what he’s up to now?”

            Her answer came as a figure completely indistinguishable from Crono stepped out of the cell.  Crono nearly gasped with shock as he looked the figure over from head to toe, marveling at its likeness to him.  “Wow!  He looks just like me!” he exclaimed.

            Norstein Bekkler commenced a riddle,


“Into my lab you entered, and now see you face to face,                                    I talk right here before you, but my body is lost in space.

                        Now tell me, friend, despite this fact, in my existence do you believe?

                        Then set aside your doubts and disputes…

                        …and mimic what you see!”


            Immediately, the double raised its right arm.  Crono stood confused for a moment, until Marle called out, “Do what the look-alike does!  You might get a prize!”

            Crono went through a series of motions.  The apparent “clone” alternated motions, gradually speeding up.  It forced Crono to mimic several humorous motions.  He bounced on one leg, crawled on the floor, did jumping jacks, punched and kicked air, turned circles, raised arms, faked laughter, and squawked like a chicken, in no particular sequence.  Marle stood aside, giggling childishly in pure amusement of Crono’s motions, laughing harder and harder as Crono made himself look more and more ridiculous.

Finally, the Crono clone stopped, and Bekkler spoke, “Excellent!  Cat food…I’ll leave it at Crono’s house, so his cat won’t run away.  This interested Crono very much.  How could the cat food be delivered to his house, especially when he hadn’t shared its location; and, on a slightly less disturbing note, how could he possibly know that a cat lived there?

“That was a little creepy,” muttered Crono. 

Before he could ponder things further, Bekkler went on.  “Monsters are closing in!  Throw your pack against them and push them back into the cage!”

            Three pudgy creatures resembling a large version of the Poyozo doll hobbled out.  Their arms were not quite as stubby and they had short horns on their heads, but the white fur, small legs, and other features were there.  Crono reasoned that they were either three men dressed as monsters, or an actual type of Mystic called a Kilwala, but couldn’t tell which for sure.

            One of the “soldiers” from the first game appeared from the cell, grabbed a hold of Marle’s arm, and pulled her back to the left cauldron of fire.  He began binding her with rope, as she played along worry-free.  With a startled shriek, she was suddenly hoisted into the air and positioned high above the flame.  “Uh…isn’t this a little dangerous?” she said with a slight quiver of fear.

            Bekkler continued to bellow, “A hostage will be slowly lowered into the flames!  To save the day, you must hit the blue light, to raise the rope.”  Three groups of gray objects shaped like large coins were placed in a row, each group directly in the path of one of the monsters.  A small blue light appeared off to the side in the darkness.  “Defeat all of the monsters before the hostage’s goose is cooked!”

            The game went on from there.  As the monsters advanced at an unchanging pace, Crono threw the objects at the monsters to push them back.  Each time he hit the blue light, it would disappear and Marle would be slowly raised.  The light would appear as Marle got closer to the flame, so Crono had to keep going back while fighting off the monsters, but, after awhile, the monsters started getting closer and closer without the blue light coming on.  As Crono kept knocking the three beasts back, he glanced frantically at Marle, who dangled closer and closer to the large flame beneath.  Finally, the light came on, but one monster began to close in faster, forcing Crono to pause and knock the creature back…but too much time was lost!  Crono glanced up as the light faded and Marle was dropped into the flame, and she instantly became a black silhouette and crumbled into many tiny ashes.

            Furious and bewildered under his dripping sweat, Crono turned to Bekkler, saying, “What is this?!  What have you done to Marle?!”

            “The hostage’s goose has been cooked!” came the reply.

            “What?!  This is outrageous!  Bring her back!!!”

            Suddenly, the portcullis opened and Marle was rushed out to Crono by one of the mock soldiers from the first game.  “Crono!” she gasped, clearly shaken by the whole experience.

            “Marle!  What happened?”

            “They brought me so close to that flame…and then I was suddenly pulled away with my eyes and mouth covered!  It was very scary—too scary!”  She stayed very near to Crono, something that he had no complaint about, as she tried to calm her nerves.

            After a few moments, Bekkler butt in with his response, “Well done!  Take this cat and cat food.”  A female cat of the same breed as Crono’s was offered, along with twenty more ounces of cat food.

            “What?” Crono retorted as he comforted Marle.  “I didn’t even win!”

            “The hostage is safe, Sir!  You have won!”

            Crono, though more than slightly baffled, sighed at the thought of his mother seeing another cat in the house, but said nonetheless,  “Just deliver them to my house with the others.”

            “They will arrive promptly!”  The man acting as a soldier quickly came forth and marked through all of the Silver Points on their cards.  The exit was re-opened and they left Norstein Bekkler’s lab after following his final instruction.

            Marle, now recomposed, followed Crono as he walked towards the fountain in the center of the entrance level.  On his way there, he passed by a merchant with a display of various types of weaponry laid out on a carpeted surface.  He suddenly remembered one of his prior objectives: to buy his first sword.  He stopped as Marle patiently waited.

            The merchant appeared different from many of the other citizens of Guardia.  He was short with a large, round face and small, round glasses.  He held a rather fancy staff made mostly of gold with a blue gem on the top.  He had a very broad and thick snow-white mustache and a uniquely shaped, brimless hat of a blue material and sides coming up to a rounded point around its domed center.  “Greetings!  I am the alchemist and sword smith, Melchior.  Can I interest you in a weapon?”  A girl near-by was watching them, eyeing Marle curiously.

            “I’m looking for something better than this,” said Crono with a hint of sarcasm as he pulled out his wooden bokuto.

            “Ah…I see you’re wanting to move up from your training weapon to the real thing!  I have an iron blade for 350G, and a lode sword for 4000G.  The lode is definitely an upgrade.”

            “Four thousand?!  Hmmm…I’m pretty sure that the iron blade will suit me fine.”  He reached into his pouch and grabbed his stash of coins, counting out the proper amount and placing the remaining 145G back inside.  Melchior took the coins and placed them into a near-by sack, turning to retrieve a single-edged katana-style blade of iron in a shiny black sheath.  Crono’s eyes seemed to glisten as the merchant carefully turned the weapon over to him, and he promptly attached the sheath to his belt and pulled out the sword to look it over more closely.  He stared into the immaculate dull gray blade for a short time with a smile of delight forming on his face, and then he placed it back into its sheath with a breath of accomplishment.

            “I live on the continent to the east, outside of Medina,” continued Melchior.  “Come see me sometime.”  He looked oddly at the girl standing near-by and then turned to Marle, noticing the pendant around her neck.  “By the way…could you talk that young lady into selling her pendant?”

            “I’ll try.”  He turned to Marle.  “Marle, he’s interested in buying your pendant.  This guy seems pretty wealthy.”

            “No way!  I could never sell this!”

            Melchior watched Marle as she answered, then lifted his glasses wide-eyed and shot back.  “Oh my!”

            “What?” asked Crono.

            “It’s…the pendant…!  Er, sorry, but I can’t buy that!  It’s…far too special!  Keep it safe!”

            “What…?  The pendant…?”  Marle was about to ask for an explanation, but they heard the shout of a man from the top of the steps.

            “Hey, everyone!  Come check out Lucca’s new invention!  She’s at the north end of the square!”

            Crono sat down on the fountain, as though frustrated.  “She’s going to kill me!  I haven’t even been to see her invention yet!”

            Marle threw a glance at Melchior, who was still staring at her pendant with a far-away, almost psychotic look in his eyes.  She turned away, put a comforting hand on Crono’s shoulder, and decided to dismiss the merchant’s strange comment regarding her pendant.  “Don’t worry.  I’m sure she’ll understand.  I say we go right now!”

            As if out of nowhere, a young girl in a dress ran up to them.  “Hello!  You know what?  They say people who hear Leene’s Bell ring will have interesting and happy lives!”  She then ran off.

            “What was that all about?” asked Marle.

            “I don’t know.  Doesn’t everyone hear it?”

            “Well, I sure did, and I’ve been having a great time!  Come on, let’s see Lucca’s invention!”  They ran up to the next level and past the bell until passing by the candy stand and the gossip-loving merchant, who had told Crono about the unbridled princess or some similar gibberish.  “Hold your horses, Crono!  I’m going to get some candy!”

            By now, Crono was wondering about Lucca’s invention and the wrath he would face from being much later.  “Let’s be quick, please…”

            “Give me just a second!”  Crono walked around nervously, the gossiper eyeing him.  “Don’t be in such a hurry, Crono!  It’s not like you’re a kidnapper or anything.  We don’t have to be in a rush to get anywhere.”  She smiled and showed a small piece of yellow candy to the merchant.  “Hi!  I’d like some of this.”

            “Sure, young lady.”  Her eyes seemed to be fixed to Marle’s face as though identifying an escaped convict.

            “Thanks for waiting, Crono!  Now, let’s go!”


*     *     *


            “Step right up, any of you who have the time and the courage!  Our ‘Super Dimension Warp’ is the invention of the century!”  They had arrived just in time to hear this announcement given by Taban, Lucca’s father.  In the small north section surrounded on three sides by forest stood two large platforms, or pods.  Over each platform was an overhead, dome-shaped contraption, and each pod had a set of controls to the side.

            Taban stepped over to the left pod, where Lucca was standing.  “To use it, jump up here…” running to the next pod, “…and you’ll teleport here!  It’s the masterwork of my beautiful daughter, Lucca.”  Lucca raised her glasses and waved to the crowd of several.  Her brown work tunic, brown leather belt, pouches, boots, double-headed hammer, and creative helmet fulfilled the stereotype of her as an inventor.

            Crono heard some of the crowd’s comments as he made his way through:

            “Lucca’s inventions never work right…”

            “Check out that girl’s glasses!”

            “She could probably see the back side of the moon with those!”

            Crono stepped up, catching Taban’s eye immediately.  “Give it a try, kid?  …Oh, it’s you, Crono!”

            Lucca jumped off the platform.  “Crono!  Where have you been?!  No one wants to try the Telepod!”  She straightened her helmet.  “How about you?”

            Suddenly Marle pushed through and stood beside him.  “It looks like fun!  I’ll watch while you try it out!”  Lucca paid little heed; unaware that she was anything more than a spectator.

            “Just hop onto the left pod!”

            Crono’s doubts surfaced.  “Are you guys sure about this?”

            Taban tried to reassure him, “Don’t worry, we tried it on our pets!  There’s no reason why it shouldn’t work as well on humans!  So step right up!”

            Crono’s expression didn’t improve, but he stepped onto the left blue platform anyway.  Taban eagerly hopped to the controls, with Lucca moving to her own controls at the right pod.  Crono’s eyes moved toward Taban, who smiled in return as he grasped a large crank in his hand and began turning it.  The machine began to hum softly and grew in volume as Taban turned the crank gradually faster.

            I hope I’m not making a serious mistake… thought Crono as he listened to the machine humming all around him.

            Taban continued to turn while glancing over to a vertical series of lights at his console indicating the machine’s power level.  He watched as it crept up past the red lights at the bottom and into the yellow lights in the middle, waiting for the green lights to shine beside a small arrow that indicated when the machine was at the minimum power level for operation.  Once the indicator’s first green lights finally came on, he reached out, flipped a couple of switches and pressed a few buttons.  Lucca watched him closely and did the same on her end.

“All systems on!” shouted Taban as the Telepod hummed much louder than before.

            “Begin energy transfer!” replied Lucca.  She threw back a large lever on her console and stepped back to watch.

            Crono began lighting up, suddenly closing his eyes nervously as he disappeared into microscopic particles that soon reformed in the right pod.  The amazed audience applauded resoundingly, “Oh wow!  That was great!

            Taban’s eyes were wide in his large head as he released the lever and allowed the machine to power down.  “It…worked?!  I can’t believe it!  Uh, er, a thrilling display of science at its best, ladies and gentlemen!”

            “I guess even Lucca’s inventions have to work every now and then!” added a young woman from the crowd.

            Crono stood frozen on the right pod for a moment and began to feel his arms and legs, mostly to be sure that they were still present.  Then he hopped down and ran up to Lucca in extreme excitement.  “That was amazing!”

            “Want to try it again?” she merrily replied.

            “Sure!”  He stepped onto the platform again, and they went through the same procedure.  The crowd was just as dazzled the second time as the first and soon began forming a line behind Marle.  After rematerializing into the right pod, Crono dashed to Marle excitedly.  “Marle, this is incredible!  The experience is unlike anything I’ve ever felt!  You’ve got to try this out!”

            Without wasting any time, Marle quickly stepped forward to take her turn.  “What a kick!  I want to try it, too!”

            “Huh?”  Lucca then realized that she had come in with Crono.  She shot him a teasing glance.  “Hey, Crono, how did you pick up a cutie like her?”

            Marle looked Lucca straight in the face, recognizing her as Crono’s friend.  “Oh, hi!  I’m Marle.  Crono’s told me all about you!”

            “He did, eh…?”  She added a sly smile and turned back to her controls.  “Hop aboard!”

            Marle opened her arms and pointed to the opposite pod, saying, “Hang on, Crono!  I’ll be right there!”

            Spreading his arms wide, Taban commenced his announcement, “Behold, ladies and gentlemen, as this vision of loveliness steps aboard the machine!”

            Marle strolled to the pod, turning to add, “Don’t go away!  I’ll be right back!”

            “You’re sure about this?  There’s still time to change your mind!” added Taban, slightly nervous for some unseen reason.  The invention had worked twice, but he knew that three successful demonstrations might have been asking too much.

            “No way!  Throw the switch!”  She went into the pod.

            “Okay, everyone, let’s give her a great big hand when she reappears!”  He took his station and grasped the crank, going through the same procedure as before.  “All systems on!”

            “Begin energy transfer!” shouted Lucca, grabbing the lever and throwing it down.

            After several moments of inactivity, Marle looked down, horrified, to see her pendant strangely shimmering as the Telepod hummed deeply.  Her confidence shattered, she unlatched it, but it continued to levitate before her.  “What’s happening?  My pendant…it’s…”

            Taban looked up as he turned the crank, noticing Marle slightly fading in and out.  “Hey, I think something’s wrong…” he said to Lucca.

            “Huh?” gasped Lucca as a surge of electricity became visible at the console.  She frantically began pushing the buttons at her console, shouting at her father, “Shut it off!  Shut it off!  Now!”  The console suddenly began shooting sparks at Lucca, startling her and knocking her back to the floor.  She watched as Marle’s pendant shimmered, unable to explain the sudden occurrence.

            With a look of terror growing on her face, Marle’s body slowly lifted into the air and began spinning, slowly at first.  Soon, however, she began to shriek as she rotated faster and faster.  The members of the crowd stood with their mouths agape and were desperate to help her as an eerie anomaly formed in the space between the two pods.  Then, the spinning blur that was Marle burst into small pinpoints of light and shot towards the phenomenon as it opened into a blue colored abyss with many waves of energy pulsing inside.  Marle was materialized into the portal, powerless against its pull.

            Crono lunged towards her, reaching out helplessly.  “Marle!”

The pulsing blue circle vanished into nothing, with Marle inside.  All eyes were focused onto the space where she had just disappeared.  Not a word was spoken, and not a thought was clear.  In the silence, the pendant dropped to the pod with a small clink.

            Taban dashed to Lucca madly.  “Lucca!  Where is she?!”

            “I…I don’t know…”  She was still staring into the space where the anomaly had formed and now ceased to exist.

            “Okay, show’s over, folks!  Let’s head along now!”  The crowd left with their murmurs and chatter.  Crono stayed with Lucca and Taban, completely at a loss for words.  “What’s going on Lucca?  Where is she?!!

            Lucca stepped away with her back to them, her arms folded.  “The way she disappeared—It couldn’t have been the Telepod!  The warp field seemed to be affected by her pendant…”

            Crono became tense, “Of course it was affected by her pendant…!!!”  He threw his arms into the air hopelessly.  “This is all making a lot of sense!  So now Marle’s gone because of a pendant?!  This can’t be happening!  I thought this thing was supposed to work!

            She spun around to Crono.  “Hey, it’s not my fault that she disappeared!  You brought her here, why don’t you go and get her back!”

            Taban jumped in quickly, “This isn’t going to solve anything!  What are we going to do now?”

            “…You’re right.”  She turned back away.  “She’s so familiar!  I know I’ve seen her somewhere…!”  She began scratching her chin and moving her glasses up and down her nose.  “I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to do.  I guess there’s nothing we can do until we figure out what happened and how to safely get her back.”

            Crono regained his composure only slightly.  “But how long will that take?”

            “I don’t know, Crono…For all I know, it could take weeks.”

            “Weeks!!!  We may not have weeks, Lucca!  Who knows what’s inside that thing?!  She could be in trouble, or in danger…!  And I’m sure she’s scared!  We’ve got to do something now!”

            Taban spoke out in his daughter’s defense, “Patience, Crono.  We just want to be sure that we can get her and anyone who goes in after her back.  Until we can find a way to see what’s on the other side of that portal, it’s just too risky!  Don’t worry, though, we have no idea what’s on the other side!  It could be a real happy place instead of a scary place…”

            Crono rolled his eyes repugnantly, his patience clearly worn.  “There isn’t any way that you’re going to figure it out in time at this rate!  She could be dead before you do for all we know!”

            Lucca continued to pensively scratch her chin.  “I don’t know…I’m out of rational ideas for now.  Maybe we should just send in the Guardia Task Force or the Royal Guards…”

            Even Taban was beginning to see the despair of the situation.  “This is getting too hopeless!  Maybe Crono’s right…but, then again, we have no idea…”

            Crono looked at the left pod, the pendant still lying on its floor.  Where could she be?  Was she safe, or was she in grave danger?  He remembered the fear he’d seen in her after the last game at the “Tent of Horrors,” knowing that it was probably more like a bedtime story leading up to the nightmare that she could very well be living in at that moment.  The tension was too much for him to take…He was right.  A decision had to be made.  So, at that moment, Crono marched up and grabbed the fallen pendant from the left pod.  He hesitated for a short moment, still nervous about what could be inside that portal.  Soon, however, his doubt became decisiveness as he stood there on the platform and said, “I don’t have time for this, and neither does Marle.  Start `er up!”

            “Crono…” Lucca’s expression attempted to warn Crono not to act like a hasty idiot.  She began shaking her head in thought, her face downcast until she snapped it back towards him.  “Crono!”  Contradicting her previous thoughts, she ran to her station at the Telepod.

            Taban grinned largely, mostly out of relief.  “You’re actually going to do it?!  What a fine lad!”

            Lucca spoke directly at him with alacrity as he waited on the platform.  “Listen!  I don’t know where this machine is going to send you, but we haven’t any other choice.”

            “Won’t they both be lost?”

            “This is our only hope!  That pendant seems to be the key, so hang on to it, Crono, and brace yourself!”

            Taban scampered to the crank and turned it until the green power indicator lights lit up.  “All systems on!”  Lucca, too, did her part at the controls.

            “Crono…you’d better be careful!  Begin energy transfer!”  She watched the console carefully, noticing that the Telepod was having a more difficult time mustering up the power it needed to make the transfer.  “Power to full!” she shouted above the machine’s humming.

            “Roger!”  He continued to turn the crank even faster to increase the power level.

            “More!  Give me more power!”  Responsively, the humming grew much louder and deeper at her command.

            “Roger!” Taban breathed as sweat beads began to form on his face.

            The electric shock occurred as they stepped back in anticipation.  “There!  We did it!”  Taban finally drew back from the crank and crouched over in exhaustion.  Crono closed his eyes, bracing himself for what would certainly be the wildest ride of his life.  He felt as though he was being ripped apart as he was dematerialized and reformed inside the portal, suddenly finding himself in an array of multicolored waves of magenta, blue, and green.  In the distance, he heard Lucca’s final words; “I’ll follow you after I know what went wrong.  Good luck, Crono!”  Then he disappeared with the portal.

            Lucca turned to Taban, shifted her glasses wordlessly, and ran off to devise a plan of how she would find Crono and Marle and bring them back from wherever they had gone…if they even still existed…

© 2003, Square-Enix, Ltd. and Chrono Trigger™ Novel Project Establishment. All rights reserved.

Chapter 3

Wayne Kramer's Fanfiction