Without moving a muscle, his eyes rolled from side to side as he tried to identify where he had landed. This looks a lot like Truce Canyon, he muttered softly, adding, mostly. The Truce Canyon he knew towered behind Leene Square. He used to go up there with Lucca to fool around in the winter snow or to look at Truce from up high; and, though he hadnt taken a stroll to the canyon for quite some time, he still got the distinct feeling that something was different. As hard as it was to identify, he couldnt help but feel a vague unfamiliarity with the area, which he thought he remembered well.
Finally, he took a step forward, continuing to glance around in the small clearing. How could the Telepod bring me up here? he thought. He continued to ponder the strangeness of the situation, staring blankly at a near-by canyon wall.
Then he perked into awareness as the orange-leafed bushes around him began to rustle. Just then, three small, blue-skinned creatures like little trolls hopped out and surrounded him.
Drawing his sword, he nervously took stance. They were much smaller than him, peering up through mischievous eyes. Imps he muttered, referring to the known creatures among the Mystics.
One of the Imps ran up and kicked him in the shin. Hey! He swung his sword around him, cutting the repugnant creature. It ran off into the bushes as Crono heaved his foot into another, knocking it flat to the ground. Get out of here, you stupid pests! The third sized up the situation and ran off with the others.
Sheathing his sword, he looked around him. It was extremely unusual for any Mystic to be in the vicinity of Truce, but, then again, perhaps even some Mystics could be drawn by the Millennial Fair, if even just to watch from the canyon.
He left the small clearing, climbing up an unfamiliar rope ladder and crossing over a cliff by way of a short, wobbly rope bridge with wooden planks. After going down another ladder, he followed a small path to a little patch of woodland. After passing through this, he expected to see Leene Square just yards away. Then the eerie reality hit him: The Square wasnt there. What ? he gasped, squinting at the vacant site. Instead, nothing but a grassy expanse faced the land to the downward hill he knew as the route into town.
Then he took a look down the hill, seeing what had to be Truce. He breathed a sigh of relief at the knowledge that something was there. However, the buildings were arranged and styled differently. They were red on the top and brown everywhere elsemuch bleaker than the buildings Crono knew.
This isnt the town that Ive known all my life. Everything has changed He slowly started towards the hill leading to the town below. Ive got to find Marle. I just hope shes safe.
With that, Crono continued down the hill to the village he once knew as home, yet had never known at all
* * *
Walking closer to the town below shocked Crono into a deathlike silence. It was as though his life had been pulled out from under him. The misty clouds passing over the landscape thinned as he approached the imposter village, allowing him to more clearly see the many wooden buildings and the activity in the streets. Upon setting foot on the cobblestone street, he was awestruck by his surroundings. Even the air was different, containing a considerable amount of moisture in comparison to the air he was used to breathing. He noticed that the town seemed more closely situated to the entrance of Guardia Forest, on the other side of town, which actually looked much as he remembered. The general design of the town was the same, though he could tell that there were fewer buildings and houses that were each placed differently than what he recognized. Despite the many differences, the same cozy essence remained. As Crono moved down the northern-most streets with an unnerving and curious face, he noticed the scores of villagers walking casually about and merchants tugging on carts of fruit or bread for sale. Blankly, Crono continued to walk until he found himself looking beyond the town to the cliff up high and beyond Guardia Forest.
Apparently, there was a major parallel between this world and his Guardia Castle stood gallantly on high, as it always had. Feeling only slightly relieved, Crono stopped to ponder these observances. This is impossible Its like Im in some sort of alternate universe but if thats Guardia Castle, then this has to be Truce He looked around dumbly. But wheres Leene Square or the sundial or Luccas house or my house? Indeed, Luccas insular home, among the others, was nowhere to be found. He did, however, notice another building peaking over the treetops of Guardia Forest just west of the main path. What could that be? Ive never seen that building before, he thought.
Dazed and confused, Crono soon found himself under a wooden sign bearing the words Truce Inn. Now I know Im in Truce, or some form of it. In hopes of organizing his thoughts and finding clues as to the whereabouts of Marle, he pushed through the door and entered the wooden building.
A dulled fragrance of evergreen lumber could be smelled inside the inn, a scent that Crono inhaled delightfully. As Crono half expected, it was much different than the Truce Inn he knew. The bar counter was off to the right and stretched all the way down to the wall. To the left and past the check-in counter was a stairway leading up to the inns rooms. Several men were sitting in the dark, wooden chairs before the bar, some waiting for the busy bartender to bring them a drink.
Crono stood at the doorway and observed the unfamiliar ambiance, gyrating his head slowly in every direction. He counted a total of three soldiers, judging their occupation by the armor they wore. Two sat at the counter completely engaged in their drinks, and the other stood by the check-in counter, watching Crono glaring around as though unaware of his own existence. After several moments of irritation, the soldier called out to him. You got a problem, son?
Cronos head shot forward indiscreetly. Who, me? No, of course not
Well quit standing in front of the door, then!
Door? He looked back and sidestepped left. Oh sorry. Say, can you help me out? I think Im a little lost He gulped slightly and hesitated, trying not to sound overly absurd. Where exactly am I?
The soldier eyed him strangely. Youre in the inn
No, I mean, where am I? What land am I in?
Where am I? he looked at the others in the room, mocking Crono with hearty laughter. Are you stupid? This is the Kingdom of Guardia! Were battling Maguss army. You did know that, right?
Guardia? Uh of course I knew that. I just wanted to be sure. Knowing he was already making a fool of himself, he began to move away from the conversation.
Then shut your pie hole! The soldier turned to the checkout lady unobtrusively. Lovely we need more ignorant strangers around here!
Crono quickly slipped into an empty seat cattycornered from a large man gulping down mugs of some sort of tasteful liquid and besides a soldier chatting with his comrade. Okay, if this is Guardia pondered Crono, then whats happened to the square and Millennial Fair? Magus that name sounds very familiar. Wasnt he a mighty ruler in the past ? He looked up to see the bartender eyeing him suspiciously. After a moment, he turned, silently rinsing off some mugs.
Crono decided upon a brave move, the impression of his sanity at hand, and leaned towards the large man. So How bout that Millennial Fair? Quite a trip, huh?
He sat his mug down roughly. Millennial Fair? What? Are you crazy?! What nonsense!
Silenced, Crono slithered back with nonchalant embarrassment. The two soldiers were now talking openly to his right and had gained the bartenders involvement, as well. What a relief! They finally found Queen Leene wandering up in the mountains!
Queen Leene? whispered Crono to himself.
What news! replied the bartender. Perhaps I can now work in peace.
She must be glad to be home! replied the other soldier as his hand and mug lifted from the counter.
The Queen has been through a lot! Shes babbling about the oddest thing. The soldier who had started the conversation removed his helmet for a breather.
Everyone was worried! The King freaked when the Queen took off. We all thought Magus had grabbed her. Thank goodness shes safe!
The topic at hand had gathered the attention of all in earshot, including that of another young man, who blurted out his own thoughts. Its too bad how Maguss army destroyed Zenan Bridge! Now I cant leave the northern continent!
They destroyed the bridge? asked Crono; unsure of how they would reply.
Didnt you see it? answered the nearest soldier. Its entire middle section is gone!
Wow Crono turned around, only to be startled by a rough-looking man in travelers clothes and a brown mustache.
Are you a stranger here, too? Crono nodded. Im Toma, the explorer. He extended his hand warmly. If youre buying, Ill tell you a story.
If Im ? He stood there silently, his facial expression compressing into a slightly less welcoming glance. On the verge of refusing, he realized that news from the traveler could yield some clues to Marles location. So, he took out a 5G gold piece and slapped it on the counter. Trained by the sound of money, the bartender rushed to meet them. Sure, why not?
Cider, please! called Toma. The mug appeared instantly. Thanks! Its about the missing queen. She disappeared while visiting the cathedral to the west, and
The Queen? These soldiers say that shes been found.
Beg your pardon? What?! They found her? Never mind He smiled with a small chuckle and took a gulp from his mug.
Wait a minute! Crono was about to demand his money back, but Toma had already gulped most of the cider with unmatched greed. Sighing, Crono turned to leave, but stopped short of the door. I wonder Suddenly, he dashed up the stairs into a three-bed bedroom.
He cracked open the door with controlled speed and gazed around the roomand then he saw it: the black box! He nearly cursed all that was good, but settled down and looked back towards the smooth, impenetrable object. Well, heres one thing thats still the same. I just wish I could open it. Just as confused as before, he left the inn and walked onto the street.
This is crazy! The castles here, the canyons here, the forest is here, the box is here but wheres everything else? Its like everything has been thrown into a cauldron and mixed around! In search for more answers, he ran down the street, finally slowing near a residence, where loud clanging noises were resounding from within.
He cautiously squeezed his head into the small building, which was actually a metalworking shop. A large man bearing some resemblance to Taban, Luccas father, knelt before a beautiful bell, hammering in the final touches. The bell looked so familiar to Crono; in fact, it looked exactly like Leenes Bell from his world, but, then again, how many different designs of bells are there, really?
That bell it cant be
Just then, the blacksmith turned his head and smiled warmly. Good day to you, Sir! Im Banta, the blacksmith, and this is my wife, Rala. He motioned to the thin lady perched in a chair in the back of the shop. What can I do for ya?
Im looking for a lost friend. Shes about my age with very pretty blond hair, beautiful green eyes, and white clothes
Heh Your friend sounds more like an angel. In fact, she sounds a lot like Queen Leene, doesnt she? He smiled warmly, noticing Cronos perplexed stare. Im sorry, son, but I havent seen her.
Crono appeared disappointed, though not surprised. Banta decided to try his hand at comforting him. Well, have you heard about the Queen? They found her, safe and sound! In fact, Im forging this bell for the King to present to his beloved Queen Leene! I lost it when she disappeared. I just couldnt keep working on the bell. But now its business as usual! Anyway, Im sure youll find your friend.
Cronos features blanched. Queen Leene? He suddenly began to wonder about several things, and a suspicion arose in his mind. So, thats Leenes bell?
In his shock, he backed clumsily into the doorframe, staggered a bit, and quickly straightened himself up. Thank you! Good day to you both! He dashed out, almost for fresh air, stumbling in front of a woman and her young son as they passed by. His thoughts were now increasingly restless. How can that be Leenes Bell ? Unless Several events flowed through his mind in that momentCould it be possible that Marle was the queen? Despite the dawn of an immense headache, he remembered the way that Leenes Bell rang when they met at the fair and of how she had felt out of place, especially the night before. Suddenly he began to understand the strange way she had acted. Then he thought, But Leene was a queen from the distant past, which could only mean
Desperately, Crono turned to a woman and her husband, who were walking together along the street. Excuse me, can you tell me the way to the Millennial Fair? You know, the celebration for the new millennium
They returned him expressions that revealed his apparent insanity. She replied, A Millennial Fair? Here? What are you talking about? Its the year 600, and the twenty-first King of Guardia reigns.
Twenty-first?! 600?! The couple left him rather swiftly as Crono fell against the side of the blacksmith shop tensely, his hands on his head. Then this isnt an alternate universeIve traveled back in time! That was Leenes Bell and that is Guardia Castle! This is unbelievable! He looked up into the sky. If this is all true, then Marle must be His eyes remained focused on the distant castle as he began to run through the many sayings of the townsfolk. They said that the Queen had been missing, but then they suddenly found her in the mountains. Now things are making more sense, but theres only one way to be sure
As he stood and headed for Guardia Forest just outside of town, he began to think about Lucca. If Lucca follows the portal here, I wonder how she plans to get us home. If she cant find a way, we could be stuck in this time He shook his head dismissingly. No, I need to remain optimistic. The town was now behind him and the path through Guardia Forest to the castle was drawing near. I wonder how different the castle looks inside seems the same from here, he said, stepping onto the trail. I just hope theyll help me out.
* * *
The path through the forest was short with a sharp uphill incline near the end. As Crono approached the massive, wooden entrance doors, he stopped. Looking up, he felt utterly dwarfed as the stone walls stretched into oblivion. The air rolling off of the castle was dry and dull in fragrance in comparison to the more moist air near the sea. Crono did not even turn to see the gorgeous view belownot wanting to see the town that he would no longer recognizebut continued to look up. He looked up beyond the castle, the highest point in the kingdom, and moved his mouth in a whisper, saying, May my way be guided and my fate secure Then he heaved open the door and stepped inside.
He had only stepped onto the soft, purple carpet and shut the door with a noisy reverberation when two javelins suddenly pointed toward his chest, crisscrossing together from opposite directions. Halt! Who goes there?! Two soldiers were standing at the bottom of an upward staircase with stairs that narrowed in width as they ascended to the balcony and the throne room doors above. Crono knew, because of a memory of the castle in his own time, that the thrones of the King and Queen were behind those two large, guarded, wooden doors.
After seeing Cronos startled glance, the soldiers lowered their weapons and stepped closer to him. Check out that hair! Wherere you from, son? Are you one of Maguss troopers?
Crono opened his mouth to reject the accusation, but they did not allow him to respond. Hardly! This kid would never have made the cut! Show us your stamp collection, son!
Stamp collection ?
Look at im! He doesnt have a clue what were talking about. He turned to the other soldier. This weakling couldnt be a spy.
Har, har! Now beat it, shrimp!
Now wait a minute ! The sound of the throne room door shutting, followed by the sound of an authoritative female voice, cut him short.
Stop that at once! Both soldiers performed a hasty about face and knelt at the foot of the staircase.
Queen Leene! The Queen came through the doors dressed in a classy, light green hoopskirt, stopping midway up the staircase. Her face was paled with white powder and her hair had been raised into a large mass atop her head. Regardless, her eminent beauty showed through. Crono looked up, a glimmer of confusion in his eyes.
Show your manners! This is a friend of mine!
But theres something odd about him!
She looked them over challengingly from under shiny, golden, styled hair. Crono watched her with fascination, focusing primarily on her face. He knew that the queen of his era had long passed away, and he began to reason that his theory was correct. You refuse to obey my orders?! she barked.
Forgive me, my lady! Please enter, Sir! said the rightmost soldier as he stood and took Cronos arm to tug him forward.
Crono thought he heard her giggle as she turned and walked out of the entrance hall. The soldiers addressed him apologetically. I envy you, whom the Queen calls friend!
Please pardon us! We revere our Queens guests!
Uh no problem, guys. He started up the steps in pursuit of the Queen, thinking, in his head, of the remarkable though growingly disappointing chain of events taking place. He recognized the identity of the Queen right off by the delicate and lovely features of her face, and he found it quite distressful that, if his theory proved true, she was a married queen in a completely different era. He shook his head and approached the doors.
Two more soldiers stood on either side of the doors into the throne room, waiting for him. As they moved to let him in, one bellowed, Mind your manners! Crono promptly raised an eyebrow to him and entered.
Much to Cronos disappointment, Queen Leene had already vanished from the throne room. Instead, the King sat in the left of two thrones. Wow, Ive never gotten any kind of royal treatment before, he said in his mind as he tried to subdue his apprehension.
The King was fully decorated with royal robes of red, purple, and with trims of gold, all of the finest quality. Under a brown beard, he beckoned, Ah! Youre the brave soul known as Crono, correct?
Crono, amidst his surprise at the King knowing his name, stopped a fair distance before him and knelt respectively. He did, of course, realize that the Queen must have already mentioned him. Yes, your Majesty. I am Crono.
Come nearer, Sir! Crono stood before him and knelt respectively. Sir! I understand that you are the one who saved my dear wife, the Queen!
Me, saved ? No, your Highness, I he began to hesitate in thinking of a proper and adequate explanation.
The King chuckled lightly. Youre quite the modest one, arent you? No need for that, Sir! The Queen told me all about how you rescued her from Maguss trap in the canyon. But can you tell me what happened? Leenes acting rather odd, and she seems to have lost her coral pin, which is something she guarded with her life. Ive been meaning to ask her about it, but with all of this chaos going on with the bridge, Im afraid I havent had the chance to meet with her.
Crono thought intensively about his place in this discussion. Your majesty Im sorry, but I
Stand, my good man. Theres no need to grovel! Forgive me! You must be tired. We can talk about this later. Please rest in the Knights quarters, which are downstairs and down the hall on the right. Crono nodded respectively and stood as the King motioned for him to leave and turned to a few of his advisors.
The Kings Chancellor was motionless except for his watchful eyes. Crono saw him moaning to himself, suddenly dashing off to the left. He went around the corner, through a short hallway, and into a spiral staircase going up one of the castles four soaring towers. Crono remembered those stairs leading to the Kings room from a tour of the castle in his time. In search for answers, he followed the Chancellor up the stairs, which led him past several small storage rooms along the way.
He saw the long white hair from the back of the Chancellors head as the old man stared at a wall pensively. Crono approached him with a purpose.
The Chancellor jumped in having his thoughts interrupted, snapping, What do you want? Get out of my face!
Two knights appeared in the hallway leading from the end of the room to the Kings chamber. Whats happening over here?
Nothing! Get back to your posts! The Chancellor turned, mumbling to himself as he left the area.
Crono approached the two knights, who were clad in silver armor. I was just going to ask him a question.
Dont worry about it, said one knight as they walked down the short hall to the Kings chamber doors. The Chancellor is a good man, but sometimes he likes to keep to himself.
Speaking of nutcases, added the other. I havent seen the Queens guard, that frog-thing, recently.
Im sorry to interrupt, but is there anyone in the Kings room right now? asked Crono.
Just a maid. What do you need?
Im inquiring on a missing friend.
Feel free to enter, he replied, returning to his post.
He watched the two soldiers walking back to the other end of the hall and entered the room quietly. Inside was a single maid in a simple, purplish gown making the bed. Excuse me, miss. She jolted upright as though startled. Would you know where I could find the Queen? I tried asking the Chancellor, but he blew me off.
Oh! Im sorry; people dont walk in here often. Im afraid not. He wouldnt help you? Hes probably just having a rough time. People say the Chancellor has gone crazy, but I dont believe it. The Chancellor is a great man. Why, he goes to the cathedral in the west everyday.
The cathedral in the west? In his time, there was no such structure anywhere in Guardia.
Yes, she answered. Surely youve seen Manoria Abbey?
Yes, of course, he replied, still with no knowledge of the location. He nodded respectfully. Thank you, miss. Then he left, jogging down the stairs, through the throne room and all the way back to the entrance. From there, he turned to the right, and went around a corner to a hallway brazened with many coats of arms.
He gazed at the displays on the wall, knowing that each contained a life code for every brave knight in the kingdom. Soon, he approached two soldiers posted by a stairwell with steps going to the left and down. One of them nodded cordially, The Knights quarters is downstairs.
Thank you. Thats what I was looking for. He needed answers, for he wanted to know as much about the girl, whom he had known for a short time as Marle, as he possibly could. Though it was apparent that she was acknowledged as the Queen, despite her remarkably young age, he still had to be certain that his theory was either correct or completely inaccurate. He hurried down the stairs, knowing that at least one of the knights would have to know about Marle, or Leene, if anyone in the whole blasted kingdom did
* * *
Lucca, this is insane! How can we possibly get them back?
Dont worry so much, Dad. Im almost finished with this Lucca sat at the worktable in their homes living room, tinkering with a small, jeweled item.
What are you working on? He stepped over several piles of books and tools in an attempt to get a closer look. Lucca, we dont have time for any new inventions
She stopped and turned to face him. Alright then tell me exactly how were going to get them back.
Taban stood without anything to say in response. What do you have there?
This She held up a colorful little device perceivably akin to a magic wand. The end resembled a flower with a center containing a large, round, blue gem that yielded a green, starburst middle. The petals consisted of five smaller, circular emeralds. is the Gate Key. The gems were key components in the Telepod that should allow us to trigger the portal that Crono and that girl disappeared into. Theres really no time to explain right now. We just need to get to the Telepod.
What? What are you going to do, Lucca?
Im going to get them back.
Now wait a minute! How are you planning to return? Im not going to let you get yourself stuck in that thing, too!
Look if what I think has happened really has happened, then I should be able to get back using the Gate Key.
Tabans features grew into a desperate panic, for he knew the stubbornness of his daughter. How?! Do you know what this is?
She breathed a hurried sigh of hopelessness. I believe its a breach in time. Ive studied this phenomenon before, and all of the properties are there. Im not really sure why I studied itI just, somehow, felt compelled to once before. Anyway, once its been opened, the breach should remain in the form of a Gate, which can be opened with the key. She grabbed her pouch and strapped it around her neck like a purse. Then she placed a small gun-type weapon in the holster on her belt. Tabans eyes were following her nervously.
I dont see how you could possibly know this. Its practically impossible! How can a breach in time just open out of nowhere?
Something in that girls pendant reacted with the teleporting aspects of the Telepod. That girlshe seems so familiar. I just wonder No, thats probably not true. Never mind. She shook her head at the loss of thought. Anyway, Im not sure what could have caused such a reaction, but it doesnt seem to make any scientific sense. She started for the door, hopping over the scattered junk. In any case, I have to go in.
Why not let me go?
Thats very thoughtful of you, Dad. She opened the door and he followed her out, talking as they walked. But you dont fully understand how this works, and I dont have time to teach you. She stuffed the Gate Key into her pouch.
Well if its a Time Gate, then dont we have all the time we need? They crossed the bridge leading from their insular home to the mainland.
Not necessarily. Its quite possible that they traveled to the same location and time of year and day as what were in now. Thats a general property of these Gates. They neared the peaceful setting of Truce Village. They will be moving through the day just as we are, progressing in conjunction with this era. Its the first day of a new year here, as it is there. Traveling through Gates is like traveling into an already-evolving alternate universe. I just wish I knew when they had ended up! Of course, Lucca knew that, since this had never really been tested, it was all purely theory; but she wasnt going to mention that to her father in a moment like this. They were now most of the way through town. Come on. We have to hurry!
* * *
Crono approached the Knights of the Square Table cautiously in fear of disturbing an important meeting. The Knight Captain, clad in gold armor, stood at the end of the table, addressing the other four knights.
Zenan Bridge is our last line of defense! We must guard it with our lives! He saw a couple of the knights watching Crono, himself turning to see who was coming. So youre the one who helped the Queen. Talk to the maid if you need to rest. Several beds were further down the room, one containing a knight who had been wounded in battle.
Crono decided to stand near the table to hear their discussion. Oh! If only Sir Cyrus were here! one of the soldiers cried.
Who? asked Crono as he passed by. He inwardly rebuked himself for speaking at this point, suddenly realizing the likelihood that he was intruding.
You dont know of Sir Cyrus?! Every knight looked at Crono accusingly. From which land do you come? Or are you simply a fool? Sir Cyrus was the Commander of the Knights. His mission was to protect the King and Queen. He and a friend left on a journey ten years ago. No one has heard from them since.
He nodded dumbly. Well I come from a very, very very far land, actually. Do you know where the Chancellor has gone?
Not sure. You should check at Manoria Abbey in the western forest.
That place has quite a history! added another. Long ago, a beast named Yakra lurked in the western forest. It was responsible for the deaths of many innocent citizens and soldiers. But after the cathedral was built, Yakra disappeared. Were thankful for that.
And what a relief that the Queen has been found. Now we can concentrate on the war added another knight with mock enthusiasm.
The Knight Captain grunted deeply to snatch their attention. Excuse me if Im interrupting, but we have business to attend to.
Crono began to back away, adding, Thank you all, and Godspeed in your war! Journeying back up into the main level, he thought, What has she told everyone to make them believe that I saved her? He quickly made his way to the other side of the castle.
Before going down another set of stairs, two soldiers greeted him as in his previous encounter. The dining rooms below.
The chefs got a nasty temper, so dont get in his way! After these words, Crono went down into the kitchen to continue his investigation.
* * *
Lucca wandered through the town of Truce, circa A.D. 600, in search of Crono. The time travel had been successful, though Taban had many regrets for letting her go. She had found several citizens, who remembered seeing Crono, and most had a thing or two to say about his intelligence, or, as some put it, ignorance. Lucca had received many similar responses, but it meant nothing to her.
How ironic that I ended up in this time. This is when Queen Leene was rescued from the Mystics. I wonder if theyve done that yet She made her way into the café, where the two soldiers who had spoken with Crono were still sitting.
Good afternoon, she said. So hows the Queen doing? They looked at her as though her very existence offended them.
The nearest soldier looked over her garments before replying, You havent heard? They found her up in the canyon, and shes safe in the castle. Ive heard shes been acting a bit strange, though.
They found her where?
In the canyon.
How has she been acting strange?
He slammed down his glass irately. I dont know! What business have you with the Queen, anyway?
No businessIm a part of this kingdom, just like you! Ive every right to be concerned!
Toma, whom Crono had purchased cider for, was still sitting in the same place. Excuse me. I couldnt help but overhear your conversation. I had thought that Leene had disappeared into the cathedral. I mean, I saw her go in, but she never came out
The soldier heatedly leaned towards the man. Is my voice gone? I said they found her! I saw them escorting her into the castle before I came here!
Hmmm guess I missed her.
The soldier mashed a coin onto the counter impatiently. How many buffoons are to pass through this place before the day is done?! Bartender, another drink!!
The mans words did not reach Luccas ears. Her eyes glared forward, and her body went rigid After several tense moments, she muttered one name, Marle Then, without a word, she got up and ran out of the inn, making her way towards Guardia Forest. Ive got to find Crono!
* * *
The dining room contained two very large tables, one already occupied by several soldiers waiting impatiently for their food. Straight ahead from the stairwell and past the chairs was a small passage to the kitchen, where chaos had broken loose. In the dining area, only one lone maid was trying to tend to everyone with clear difficulty.
Without much thought, Crono made his way into the kitchen, picking up several conversations from the knights about the battle over the bridge.
Did you see me hack that beasts arm from his fat chest?
What carnage! Its terrible how many we lost when that bridge fell terrible!
God forgive us all, lads, for our time could come soon.
Those Mysticsll get theirs. Ill fill the river with `em, I will!
Ive lost my appetite.
Crono had difficulty deciphering every conversation, but the content was far more gruesome than he cared to hear. Then again, exposure to the battlefield seemed unavoidable as he stepped into the kitchen, where two maids and the chef were running around as if they had gone mad. A maid turned to look at him, saying, So! You must be the stranger who saved Queen Leene!
Uh responded Crono, and sighed as she ran off.
This is a mini war zone! screamed the other maid.
This is no place for kids! bellowed the chef from under a large, white chefs hat. Wait! Maybe youd know! Whats this Eyes Cream stuff that Queen Leene wants so badly?
You mean ice cream? he answered.
Whatever! Get out of the kitchen! Youre no help!
Just as told, he left the kitchen area and made for the stairs. However, as he turned to go up, the Knight Captain and two other knights were coming down, so he was forced to step aside.
Wheres supper? demanded the captain.
A waitress hesitantly came forward. Oh, Captain! Im sorry
at the nearest table by the Knight Captains leave. Were
fighting a war out there! Cant you even keep us fed?
Crono watched as the chef appeared from the kitchen. What are you fussing about? Youre not the only one whos fighting out there!
Hey, I dont have time for this. He stood, saying, Just feed my men, okay? Then he marched up the stairs, his red cape flowing brilliantly.
Shut your trap! Ill decide whos going to get fed, and when!! That fool, he thinks hes the boss! The chef ran back to the kitchen with a grunt. With that, Crono knew that the soldier had been right: The chef certainly had a terrible temper.
The waitress stood by Crono, who seemed fascinated. Those two are brothers. Youve heard the expression, sibling rivalry, right?
I see he responded.
The two knights spoke as they removed parts of their armor, placing them on the floor. The Knight Captain is trying to fill the shoes of his predecessor, Sir Cyrus, Commander of the Knights.
Hes normally very kind. The chef just rubs him the wrong way. Crono nodded attentively after hearing the second knight speak.
Seeing nothing helpful in the line of clues or information, Crono left the dining room, sprinting on the textured stone floor and up the stairs into the throne room. He had suddenly gathered that there was one remaining option: the Queens chamber. Surely confronting her face-to-face about everything would yield some answers. So, he left the dining hall and ventured back towards the throne room. Once in the royal hall, he went around to the right of the throne chairs, where he saw a single knight looking his direction.
The Queen seems to be waiting for you upstairs in her room, he said brusquely.
Crono stopped short of the knight and stood still, his eyeballs still wandering around the room. His confusion ended upon realizing that the knight had spoken to him. Oh Thanks, I was just going that way.
This side of the castle was almost unjustly similar to the side where Crono and the Chancellor had encountered one another with a less than gratifying outcome. At the top of the long flight of steps coming from the tower, he met another knight standing in the open ogive leading to a hall, which itself ended at the Queens chamber doors. The Queen awaits, he said, backing away permissively.
Crono entered the room, where two maids and the Queen were standing apart from each other. The Queen was facing the wall at the end of the room, standing next to her bed, while the maids were busy cleaning and tidying up the area. As he stepped further inside, the nearest maid looked him over, saying, You saved our Queen? You dont look that tough.
Just then, the Queen turned, and Crono squinted at her face suspiciously, forgetting about the maid. Ah! There you are. She then spoke to the maids, Please leave us. I need to talk to this individual. That sweet yet commanding voice struck Crono in the midst of his heartbreak. Now he knew for certain that this was she. Certainly, your Highness. They bowed and brushed past Crono toward the door. He could hear them whispering between themselves as they left.
How does she stay so youthful?
I know! In fact, she looks even younger now than on her wedding day!
Crono smiled somewhat dismissingly as they closed the doors behind them, for he really didnt care. I hate gossip, he thought.
Come nearer, Sir, said the Queen. She smiled as he obeyed and continued glaring at her face, drawing a response from him.
He leaned in very close, paying rigorous attention to the details of her face. Your Highness, I
Fooled you, didnt I, Crono? Its me! But everyone calls me Leene!
His head suddenly jolted back, his previous thoughts now coming back into question. Fooled me ? Again, he shook his head in an attempt to clear the chaotic stream of thoughts. Yes they do call you Leene.
She smiled at his response. The soldiers came to me after I appeared in the mountains. I know about Leene. She she was the Queen of Guardia during the war with the Mystics. She turned, silently approaching the other wall.
At this point, Crono felt great relief and happiness swelling within him. She wasnt the Queen! Apparently, she had looked so much like the Queen of this era that she was mistaken as such. Though this still left a few questions in his mind, he did not dwell on them in the overwhelming presence of his inner joy.
Suddenly, she became quite emotional, and Crono saw her eyes water slightly. Im so relieved youre here! she said, momentarily breaking into a sob.
You dont know how glad I am that I found you!
We barely know each other, but somehow, I knew youd come for me She turned and came a few steps closer to him, her tears now subdued. Thank you, Crono!
The sentimental moment Crono had hoped for stopped there. Darkness fell upon them as though a cloud had loomed into the room. A green illumination appeared behind Marle, an ominous premonition dawning within the realm.
S, somethings wrong whispered Marle with an instant quiver of fear.
Marle? Whats happening? Are you okay?
Her panic began to escalate as she fell to her knees. W, whats happening?!
I dont know whats happening All he could do was watch her in agony as her head tilted forward and tears began to glint in her frightened eyes.
It feels like Im being torn apart! she shrieked, crouching over and clutching her stomach.
Crono came closer, but was startled and thrown back as Marle faded into a ghostly image of glowing white. Marle!! Dont leave me again!!
Help me, Crono! Im scared!!! Again, he lunged for her, but it was impossible for him to reach her. She cried out to him again, her words beginning to fade with her presence. Please Crono h, help me!
Marle!!! A blinding light grew from her body as though devouring her very existence. He jumped for her once more, falling into nothing but tiny points of light and colliding against the unoccupied hard floor of solid stone with nothing in his arms but the purple carpet. Marle ! but she was gone.
He allowed his head to slump to the floor as he lay there in utter disbelief, burrowing his face into the carpet. What is this? How can this be?! Why does she disappear every time I see her?! Finally, he got up and ran out, shutting the chamber doors behind him.
The two maids and the knight were waiting at the halls end. Did you notice anything odd about the Queen? asked a maid.
Odd? Of course not! She would like to be left alone Excuse me He tried to leave, but they continued talking.
Has she dismissed you already? You were polite, of course?
Yes I was polite. Now, excuse
You didnt do anything funny, did you?
No, of course not! Please
Are you sure?
Yes, Im sure! Get out of the way!
The knight seemed visibly frustrated. Leave the man alone! I grow so tired of the gossip around here! With that, Crono pushed through and ran out.
* * *
Youre a friend of that red-haired punk?
Yes! I must speak with him at once! Its important! The soldiers at the front entrance seemed completely incapable of understanding Luccas words.
Ive never seen a female dressed like that. You folks must live in a strange land! I saw him go up into the throne room.
Thank you! she said in exasperation. She dashed up and through the doors, darting past the King and the dazed knights. Crono! Had she not called him by name, the soldiers would surely have seized her without question.
Crono stopped at the foot of the stairs of the tower stairwell, watching as she fell to her knees huffing and puffing. Lucca!
Youre okay! Did you find the girl?
Oh yeah! he returned a wide grin of sarcasm. Found her no problemand now shes gone.
Gone?! Whaddya mean shes gone?!
Shes gone! She just vanished into nothing Nothing!
She stood from her knees, facing the floor with her arms crossed. Hmm its just as I thought.
What? What did you think?
I knew I recognized her!
Really So, what?
And this castle looks identical to the castle in our time!
So, what? What does that mean?
Ill bet they mistook that girl for her ancestor You see, shes a member of the royal family in our time!
Huh? His eyes grew wide and his ears pricked.
Lucca turned to look directly at him. Shes Princess Nadia!
Whoa! Are you sure?
Yes, positive Marle, that is, Princess Nadia, is a descendant of Queen Leene! Queen Leene has been kidnapped.
Kidnapped? He stopped to ponder all that he had seen and heard. Oh, boy I may know where this is going He sat down on the last step in trepidation.
As I recall, someone was supposed to have saved her. But history has been changed! Marle looks so much like Leene that they probably called off their search when she appeared here.
Yes, that makes sense with what everyone has been saying.
She continued, But if the real Queen is killed Marle will simply disappear
Then were too late. Marle has already disappeared. He rested his head in the palms of his hands, unable to grasp all that was happening before them. Then he began to think harder about everything, focusing on his memory of Marle at the fair and Luccas recollection of Leene being rescued in history. Let me get this straight: The real Queen of this era has been killed because of this mix-up which would mean that Marle was never born? He watched Lucca to be sure she was with him. Well, shouldnt that mean that I never met her and followed her into the portal? Shouldnt that mean that you have no knowledge of Leene being saved because it was never written in history?
She thought for a moment. It could mean that weve simply been unaffected by the changes in the timeline or it could mean that there might still be time! If we can save Leene, history as we know it should remain unchanged!
How much time do we have?
Im not sure, but the records indicate that she was rescued about the time I arrived here. Thats where history changed and is now yet to be decided. Something must have happened to the Queen in this era. As a result, Princess Nadia ceases to exist!
Then we have to hurry and find the real Queen!
Thinkhave you heard anything about where the Queen could be or who could be responsible?
He thought and said, Well I remember a man in the café mumbling something about the cathedral.
Yes! Thats it! I just saw him, too! That rough bumpkin was right after all!
In fact, I think the Chancellor goes there a lot, too! Ill bet hes involved!
Perhaps. Cmon, lets go save the Queen! We havent any time to lose!
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