Upon arriving back at the castle, Ian escorted Jonas directly to the Knights quarters, bidding their new comrades farewell. Crono, Lucca, Frog, and the Chancellor all reported to the throne room to confer with the rather bewildered King after opting to relay their lengthy explanation of the circumstances in person. Once the entire saga had been revealed to him, he sat back, embarrassed for a moment at the realization that he, along with everyone else, had mistaken a stranger for his wife. Queen Leene, on the other hand, took the situation considerably well, despite the fact that her husband had mistaken another woman for her. Knowing, however, that the King had believed a much younger woman to be the real Queen, most of the spectators figured that her temper would be a bit more sustained than in any other case.
Soon, most of the castles inhabitants knew of the return of the Queen and her rescuers. The castle denizens, overjoyed to observe a hint of peace in the land once again, were standing around the throne to see the royal couple reunited almost instantly after hearing the news. Word of the almost devastating mix-up had spread very quickly, thanks, to some degree or another, to the speed of gossip and rich news within the castle walls.
Two castle soldiers stood holding the handles to the mighty throne room doors, awaiting the Kings signal to act. When they received it, they pulled the doors open in unison, and the King stood, meeting his eyes with the Queens. She came forward as the doors were heaved shut, her unrushed pace allowing her to savor the moments of their reunion.
Finally, she stepped up to the throne, and King Guardia took her hand with a warm smile. Lucca turned with happiness to Crono, who returned an affable expression of satisfaction. Frog seemed bluntly serious and paid little attention to his surroundings.
Silence fell in the room like an eerie wind as the King spoke. You had me worried, Leene His wife smiled back at him with love. But Guardia is at peace again knowing that our beautiful Queen is safe and sound. They came together for a brief kiss and sat in their thrones as the Chancellor stepped up to speak.
That no good Yakra! Impersonating me and kidnapping the Queen! We must create a criminal justice system to do away with such fiends. He turned to the crowds, speaking authoritatively from under his snow-white beard. The kidnapping of royalty will not be tolerated in this kingdom! There were many shouts of agreement from the crowd in response to his vow.
Frog suddenly stepped forward and faced the Queen. Your Majesty The crowds cheering died away as the attention shifted to the somber amphibian. I failed to protect Queen Leene. I hath disgraced thee. Having said his piece, he stood, turned, and started towards the doors, solemnity in his bearing.
Leene rose and called to him, Frog!
He stopped, hesitantly turning his head to the side. Without a word, he turned back to her, knelt respectfully, and resumed his course. The closing of the door echoed amongst a hushed, bemused atmosphere.
Controlled whispers began to permeate the area throughout the chatterbox crowd. Didnt know that that frog could be so brave in the first place, said one Knight.
The Knight Captain conversed with a few other high-ranking officials. So! The cathedral was the heart of it all. That Frogs done a fine job.
Yes, but since Maguss troops failed to kidnap Leene, theyll probably be back soon. If only Cyrus were here!
But hes not! returned the Captain sharply.
Heard Maguss troops put Yakra up to it all, started another.
I cant believe the cathedral was their hideout! Those lousy blasphemers!
So that girl wasnt Leene after all Wow.
What?! the chef fumed, overhearing the knights comment. That wasnt Queen Leene?! And I wasted my time whipping up a batch of that Eyes Cream she wanted so badly! Yuck! He angrily removed his gloves and walked out, leaving the Knights to shrug at his sudden and unexpected departure.
Crono and Lucca stood in the center of the happenings, still looking towards the doors. Finally, Leene cleared her throat, recovering their attention. Your timing was perfect. Who knows what would have happened had you not saved me! Lucca knowingly smiled and shifted her glasses. By the way, where is the girl who was mistaken for me?
Suddenly, Crono and Lucca turned to each other, Lucca displaying sudden excitement. Oh, yeah! I forgot all about Princess Nadia! Crono! Where did Princess Nadia disappear? She may still be there!
You forgot ?! He quickly remembered that he stood in the presence of royalty and recouped his manners accordingly. Uh, upstairs, in the bedroom.
Leene watched them go, her confusion keeping her quiet. Theyre strange, but, oddly enough, I feel I can trust them, she finally said to the King. He smiled and took her hand once again as the crowd began seeping out of the throne room in all directions.
Dont worry, my dear. Nothing will happen to you now. I promise. Leene sighed relaxingly and leaned back in her throne.
* * *
Crono threw the Queens chamber doors open with such force that he nearly lost his footing. He and Lucca slowed, looking nervously around the room. Hesitantly, Lucca took a few steps forward into the roomy chamber and stared at the empty space in the floor between a table and the bed, where the light green hoopskirt Marle had been wearing lay, with no body inside. Her stomach suddenly tightened as she began to fear the worst.
Her eyes moved towards Crono and her mouth began to open, but she stopped herself as she watched his face suddenly brighten after catching sight of something around the other side of the bed.
Marle! cheered Crono. She was kneeling against the bed and looking back at him with bemused, wary eyes.
She raised her head very slowly. Huh? What happened?
Princess Nadia! Lucca called after coming around the bed.
Marle looked vacantly into her face, finally forcing herself to stand on trembling, unsteady legs. She held her hand against her forehead for a moment and then began to feel her arms, face, and legs before lifting her eyes to those of the red-haired fellow behind Lucca. Crono! Her shaky legs gave, and she fell to her knees, gasping and holding back tears. It was awful I cant recall it all I was somewhere cold, dark and lonely. Raising her head again, she said, Is that what its like to die?
Lucca nervously adjusted her glasses without a response, but Crono approached Marle with poise and warmly wrapped an arm around her cool shoulders. There, he comforted her, and she allowed herself to lean into him, smiling with relief.
Lucca reset her glasses and spoke up. I dont know what its like to die, Princess, but you have just returned from a time freeze. We almost lost you. Marle raised her glance to Lucca. You had been mistaken for Queen Leene, your ancestor, when you appeared in this era. The real Queen was still missing, but everyone thought that you were the real Queen! You became frozen in the timeline because Leene was about to be killed, but we found her and returned everything to normal. At any ratewelcome back, Princess Nadia!
Marle listened attentively, standing with Crono. You risked your life to help me, too?! She paused in realization of what Lucca had just said, her smile quickly disappearing. Princess Nadia ?! Crono let her go and stood near-by. Uh-oh
Whats wrong? asked Lucca.
Marle giggled slightly. I guess you guys figured it out, huh? Sorry, Crono. I didnt mean to deceive you
Crono opened his mouth to reply. Thats all She stopped him from speaking by turning away to the old stone wall.
Im Princess Nadia Marle Guardia. My fathers King Guardia the XXXIII. Most people who know me personally do call me Marle, but not formally Crono heard her sigh as she looked down. I really enjoyed walking with you last night. But if you had known my identityCrono, you wouldnt have shown me around the fair She turned back around to him. Right?
Marle thats not true at all. I didnt have to know your identity! The way you looked last night wouldve made nine of ten people suspicious but I guess I was that one who looked past all that. I was nearly driven insane because you kept vanishing. It seemed that every time I got near yousomething happenedbut I knew that I had to get you back! He sighed and took her hand bravely. Anyway, what Im saying is that youre a great person and I really enjoy your company. It didnt matter if I saw a strange girl in a cloak or a princessI like being around you because youre you. After you disappeared from the Telepod, I didnt chase the PrincessI chased Marle. To say that your identity matters couldnt be farther from the truth! As Marle stared downcast at him, a small smile creeping in view, Lucca raised an eyebrow and remained silent.
Marle suddenly jumped into him, flinging her arms around his neck. Oh, Crono! Thats why I like you!
Lucca simply stared at the floor in light of what had perhaps been the most impressive monologue of Cronos life. When Marle released him, she looked him in the eyes joyfully. The real Queens safe, right? So lets go home, Crono! He couldnt help but smile in the bliss of his delightful triumph. His sudden speech to Marle had even impressed himself.
Lets head home, Lucca! Lucca returned a faint smirk and turned to leave.
As they came upon the stairwell, the two maids and the Knight whom Crono had encountered shortly after Marles disappearance were all chatting actively amongst themselves. When they saw Crono, Lucca, and Marle, they suddenly hushed their nattering and acknowledged them.
You guys leaving? Wherever youre heading, be careful! smiled a maid.
Thank you! replied Marle. Im very sorry about the mix-up. I think we were all a little lost.
The Knight responded, Hmmm. The more I look at you, the stronger the resemblance. Astounding! The maids returned to their chatter as the reunited trio entered the tower stairwell that went down into the throne room.
Once at the bottom, they quickly made their way down the short hall, approaching the thrones of the King and Queen from behind. The King heard them coming and looked to his left as they came upon the throne. Crono and Lucca nodded respectfully as they walked past, but the Kings eyes were fixed on Marle as he stared at her with a half open mouth. Marle, unsure of what to say, also nodded her head to him as she joined with Crono and Lucca before the two thrones.
Leene smiled warmly to Crono and Lucca and soon turned to see Marle approaching. Immediately, her smile disappeared into her agape mouth as her eyes locked with Marles, who was in equal shock. After a few rather tense moments, Leene said without moving, Its as though Im looking into a mirror
Marle shook her head slowly in disbelief. So youre the real Queen Leene, huh? Amazing!
You really could be my twin, replied Leene. Please, come closer. Marle did as she was asked, and Leene stood to meet with her. Together, they stood side by side and faced the King, who stared back and forth with great interest.
After he had seen enough, he exclaimed, Remarkable! I must admitits almost scary how close the resemblance is! Leene left Marle and joined her husband back at the throne. Thank goodness youre safe!! You may resemble Leene, but you sure dont act like her! One thing still puzzles me, though. If you werent Leene, and you really hadnt been kidnapped, why did you tell us that Crono had saved you?
Marle hesitated, her pale cheeks slowly blushing as she searched for the right words to say. Well nobody believed me when I said I wasnt Leene, and somehow I knew Crono would come looking for me, so I had to figure out a way to get him in here.
And, dear lady, I must ask, why did you continue to act as the Queen when you surely knew better?
She stood in silence for a moment. His question was, indeed, a valid question. Well, she started, if I had told you that I was the Queen, then I probably would have been killed for acting like her. I really didnt know what else to do.
He nodded slightly. Yes, youre right. There probably would have been a number of charges against you. It is a good thing that we now know the truth. After a moment, he leaned forward just a little and motioned with his hands while speaking. But why did you order everyone to see to his comfort once he arrived ?
Marle breathed a small, nervous laugh and stood speechless, unable to think of a response. Leene watched her and grinned widely, turning to the King. Oh, this reminds me so much of how we met, dear! You always made sure that every servant around was tending to me whenever you managed to get me into the castle; that is, whenever you could keep it from your father.
Oh, yes! he chuckled. He never understood that such feelings could exist for a simple commoner until I gave you that coral pin! He leaned toward Leene for a kiss and turned back to the three travelers before him.
Just then, Crono spoke up. Your Majesty ! He began searching through his pouch until snatching a small shiny object and holding it out to Leene. We found this in the sanctuary. Then he pulled the pendant he had been carrying from his pouch and showed it to Marle. And, Marle I believe this belongs to you. He then reached in front of her and placed it around her neck carefully.
She smiled with relief at the sight of her pendant. Thank you, Crono! Ive been losing this way too much.
King Guardia XXI turned to them all again, saying, I do hope youll be joining us this evening to celebrate Leenes safe return and the turning of the new year.
Lucca spoke up in response. Thank you, your Highness, but we must be on our way home. It is a verylongway from here.
Thats a shame, Queen Leene replied. I do hope that Frog will be there. He really is quite devoted to his job as my guardian.
Yes, your Majesty, Crono responded, and Frog was the true hero in your rescue. Without his help, it could not have been done.
The King smiled and directed his words to all of them. Anyway, youve really helped me. Let me know how I can repay you.
Thank you your Highness! returned Marle as the others nodded. Well, you two better get along or Ill be in big trouble. Ill keep my fingers crossed!
After a long pause, the royal couple looked to each other ditheringly. Excuse me?
Lucca gave Marle a quick jab. Um never mind! I guess its time to go!
Please, visit whenever you can. Youre like one of the family now!
Marle grinned at the comment, responding, Well, I certainly feel like part of the family! With a farewell wave, they left the throne room with Crono at the head.
Crono froze on the balcony just above the steps to the exit, watching a bygone acquaintance turning to meet him. Frog!
Marle suddenly came around to see what was happening. She stood stunned as she looked upon Frog, her eyes quickly widening.
`Twas a fault of mine, which endangered the Queen. I shall depart for good. His eyes veered to Marle, initiating him to approach her with interest.
Eeeek! she shrieked.
He croaked loudly, which silenced her. Indeed, your resemblance to the Queen is uncanny. He then walked halfway down the stairs, turning to add, Crono, you hath the potential to be a good swordsman! He then hopped out of the castle with no further words.
Lucca was not swift enough for him to hear her last words to him. Froggy, you werent such a bad guy, either.
Come on! said Crono, running outside with the obvious intent of chasing him down. Sensing his desire, they dashed down through the forest path, spotting Frog hopping nimbly toward the remains of Zenan Bridge in the distance.
Huffing, Crono reached the bridge before the others, who had stopped midway down the hill. A soldier there, who seemed rather jittery, spoke. That frog made it across the bridge by swimming to the other side!
Breathing deeply, Crono took one look into the distance, seeing chimney smoke from a faraway village. He stared at the unrecognizable town and muttered his final words to that slightly unorthodox individual who had helped them in their ventures. Farewell, Frog He joined the others soon after, and they all headed back towards the town of Truce together. In the duration of Cronos chase, Lucca had relayed to Marle all of the information on Frog and what he had done to aid them.
As they walked down the street, where there was a dwindling number of bustling people, Marle spoke. You cant help thinking, thoughIs our time going to be any different since you guys saved the Queen?
I doubt it. I dont believe anyone actually knew our names, and the Queen seemed to give most of the credit to Frog.
Speaking of our timeHow exactly do we get back home?
Well I have a theory, but lets get back to the canyon before I say anything more. She looked around the medieval town with fascination. I wonder where my family is I believe I still had a very great grandfather and a grandmother in Truce in this age, but Im not completely sure. All I can remember is that they often talked to the King about making something for the kingdom. Crono, did you see anyone that could be my ancestor? She thought to herself for a moment as they walked and suddenly threw her fist down with mock frustration before Crono could answer. Darn! I should have asked the King about him!
Crono turned to her, shrugging his shoulders in dismissal. Therere a lot of people in Truce, Lucca. To be honest, my memory of my first visit here is kind of a blur.
She sighed in return as they walked past the blacksmith shop, where Leenes Bell sat awaiting future glory, Oh well, I guess its all for the better. I mean, Id love to meet my ancestors, but weve seen what kind of trouble that can get us into!
* * *
Crono, Marle, and Lucca fondly remembered the path into Truce Canyon. Before long, they had found their way back to the clearing where they had first appeared.
Lucca led them through the brush, stopping to pull out the item she had been working on with such speed and precision before her initial departure into the past. She held it out in front of her as she slowly stepped forward. Suddenly, as she neared the center of the clearing, the phenomenon she was expecting occurred.
Whoa! exclaimed Crono, Look at that! A wavy, almost fluidic blue sphere with a pulsing region of light in the center had appeared, hovering over the brown grass and dirt of the clearing.
Marle stood close to the peculiar object, intrigued. What is it?
Lucca seemed to smile at the sight of the orb. Your Highness, er, Princess We
Please call me Marle!
Well then, Marle observe! She waved the small device close to the sphere. With an abrupt spark, it expanded to form the eerie portal that had claimed Marle initially. Waves of energy flowed chaotically inside the hole, which appeared endless in both number and distance. Its brilliant display of illumination, for the first time, appeared unimaginably beautiful to them all.
Wow! Lucca! Youre amazing! cheered Marle.
She laughed heartily. Aint it the truth!
Nerd, joked Crono.
Oh, um, I mean She sighed, looking at Marle and dropping her shoulders helplessly. Im so sorry. I must sound very rude
What are you talking about? replied Marle with an inviting smile. You can talk to me normally, Luccalike you would to a friend.
Well, I can get a little carried away
Enough with the false modesty! added Marle. You have a real giftsomething that I could never have, Princess or not! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!
Well, if you say so
Crono appeared antsy. Alright, so what do we do with this?
Right. I call this thing a Gate. Its kind of a portal that takes you to the same location in a different era. It seems that time is more structured than many have imagined. Thats just a thought of my own, though.
Anyway, Gates are very unstable. So, I used the principle behind my Telepod device She held up her creation, which resembled a flower of jewels geometrically positioned with exactitude. to create a Gate Key. Now we can come and go as we please.
But why did this Gate suddenly appear? asked Marle.
Lucca crossed her arms and pensively stared at an orange-leafed plant near her. Either the Telepod had something to do with it, or something else made it.
This is getting pretty weird, answered Crono. Lets at least get back to our own time while we know we still can!
All right! Hop aboard!
Together, they jumped into the portal that now granted them passage into the vast flow of timea flow that seemed to determine, with a guiding force of intervention, the Gate through which they would depart.
* * *
With a deeply resounding rumble, a doorway through time itself opened to spit out the three travelers into the year 1000 as though they had reached a ferry stop. Crono, Marle, and Lucca plopped clashingly onto the cobblestone floor of Leene Square between the two pods of Luccas short distance teleportation device, the Telepod. Little had she truly known how far her invention would take them that day.
Phew! Were back! exclaimed Marle, jumping up from the heap.
Well, that was sure interesting, replied Lucca. Ill make sure this area gets sealed off so no one sees the Gate.
Crono, Lucca, why dont you come home with me to the castle? Id like you to come over for dinner!
Crono rubbed his stomach nostalgically, remembering how long it had been since he had last eaten. Wow, I guess it is almost suppertime. Im famished!
Lucca turned to Marle. Sorry for putting you through all that, Marle.
Are you joking? Thats the most fun Ive had in months! And I have some new friends, too!
Nodding, Lucca addressed Crono. Crono, be a gentleman and take her home. Ive got work to do. Ill drop by as soon as I can! With that, she hurried off.
See you soon, Lucca! Marle smiled as she left, spinning around to meet Crono. Will you escort me home, Crono?
With a large grin, Crono offered her his arm as they strolled out of the square towards the town of Truce. This time, to Cronos relief, they would go past his house on their way into the version of Truce he had known all his life. Simply knowing that his house was actually there, in that cozy spot on the side of the hill, was enough to push the traumas of their experience from his mind.
* * *
En route to her insular home, Lucca decided to make a quick stop into the market to pick up some supplies. As she strolled in, Frederick, the owner and Elaines dad, stood yelling into the back room. Silently, she approached the counter as he continued his rage. Elaines down at the pier again? That Fritz! Where could he be? He turned from the doorway and snapped his eyes to Lucca. Oh! Hello, Lucca! What can I do for you?
I was just picking up those pieces of metal I ordered.
Oh, yes! The blacksmith recently brought them in. Youve already paid, right?
Well, here you go. He handed her a bundle of various metal shapes. Have a nice day!
She took the pieces into her arms carefully. Sure Fritz still not back, eh?
That boys in for some hard labor when he gets back!
She smiled, knowing his way with his son. Im sure hell be fine. See ya around. She left for her house, concerned that Fritz was in some certain trouble.
* * *
Crono had decided to inform his mom of his new plans for the evening. She was sitting at the kitchen table when he and Marle entered.
My, how nice! she responded at the sight of Marle. Ive only seen you with Lucca! Whos your pretty new friend?
Marle smiled warmly, thankful for his mothers kindness. Hi, Im Marle!
Eh?! Marle? Hmmm Im sure Ive seen you before, dear! Now, where was that ?
Crono cut in quickly. Marles invited me to eat supper with her. Lucca should be coming along later. Just then, two cats approached Crono. Eh?
Oh yes I see you did well at the fair. A strange soldier came here to deliver a Poyozo doll and this female cat! I hope you can handle them, Crono!
He smiled playfully at Marle, who also appeared amused. Sure, Mom!
Okay you two have fun, and try to be home before dark, Crono.
Alright! See you, Mom!
Nice to meet you! waved Marle. The two then ran out happily, his mom watching them melt into the warm, inviting picture of Truce Village. The setting sun added to the convivial scene with its gallant display of golden rays strewn across the sky. She smiled contently and got up to wash the dishes.
* * *
So what kind of food do they serve up there? asked Crono, eagerly hurrying through town with Marle.
Anything you want! The chef is excellent! Youll never go hungry again!
Mmm Youre making me even hungrier! He began scratching his chin as though making a decision on something. Hmm, lets see I think Ill have him cook me up a whole pheasant with some crusted sea bass and honey-dipped apple slices on the side. That should be enough to get me started!
Marle reared her head back in laughter. Im sure he can handle that!
After a moment, he reverted from the subject of food. So, the Kings your dad?! I bet hes a really great man! he exclaimed enthusiastically. This has got to be the most exciting time of my life!
She smiled pleasantly. Thats my dadthe King of Guardia. They were now well on their way into Guardia Forest, where the crickets were just beginning to make their music as though practicing for the main symphony to come at night.
So, how often do you have guests in the castle?
Well actually, I havent had but a couple of friends there over the years, but my father invites people all the time. Theyre usually mayors or people of importance.
Only a couple? Crono smiled inwardly. So Im one of the fortunate few, eh?
Marle continued to walk as the leader. Yeah, I suppose so, she replied with a small snicker.
Well Im honored to have dinner with such a lovely host.
They emerged from the forest and hiked onto the smooth steps of stone pieces leading up the steep hill to the door above. Marle finally turned and smiled happily, offering her arm to him. Im sure everyone will love your company, Crono. I know I do!
Content in the presence of each other, they entered the castle excited about their big meala meal that they would share together.
© 2003, Square-Enix, Ltd. and Chrono Trigger Novel Project Establishment. All rights reserved.
Wayne Kramer's Fanfiction