|The Fourth Relevant Truth
Author: Moonraker One PM
Alternate Universe. What if fate had been written differently, and Crono had grown up as an Earthbound in Zeal Kingdom? How would he survive?Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 7 - Words: 19,430 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 11-09-07 - Published: 01-06-05 - id: 2208035
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Fourth Relevant Truth
By Moonraker One
"There are four relevant truths, that make up most of the universe; the first three are the most well-known. They are Life, Time, and Reason. However, it is the fourth one that is the most important: Existence. Without it, none of the other three would be real. Thus, from this day forward, the wisest and greatest four among this new kingdom which bears my name will be known as the Gurus of the truths they represent. The Guru of Life shall be a master of weapon forgery and other artifacts which regard the living, the Guru of Time shall be the most skilled in his wisdom of the various time streams that connect our kingdom, the Guru of Reason shall be the wisest scientific mind in our kingdom, and he or she will assist the other Gurus at their various tasks. Ah! But it is the Guru of Existence that shall have the most important task! He or she shall be the one who is most skilled at and wise about wielding magic, and shall be a master swordsperson. It shall be that person that makes magic flourish within our people!"
- The words of King Zeal the first,
at the founding of the Zeal Kingdom,
circa 14,000 B.C.
Author's Note: Crono has no last name, or at least in the game he doesn't. I'm making one up.
CHAPTER ONE - Just Another Faceless Earthbound One
The sound of swords colliding with each other echoed through the chamber as two young men tried to get the other off guard so as to deliver the final blow of the match. For a certain teenager by the name of Crono, this day would have to be the most important of his thus far. Just his presence here, in Queen Zeal's gymnasium, sparring against one of his friends, was cause for amazement. As it was, Crono had been born into a family that didn't have the ability to use magic, and thus they were considered "earthbound," which simply meant they were not allowed entry into the mighty kingdom of Zeal. His mother had told him that there was simply nothing that could be done about their position in society, but he himself had never bought into that concept. He performed exceptionally well in school, earning high A's in all of his classes, doing so well in fact that he went to high school two years earlier than any of his fellow students. It was after grade school that his abilities caught the attention of the E.E.S., or "Exceptional Earthbound Students" program, a education program set up by the queen of Zeal herself, to gather the most brilliant minds from the planet below in order to tap their maximum potential. He'd gone to high school in the Kingdom of Zeal, and once again excelled at everything he did. Now, he was giving a hard time to a friend of his, whom always got angry whenever outperformed at swordplay.
"Dalton," Queen Zeal asked of her most trusted servant, "tell me more about that kid, Crono. He seems…more brilliant than that friend of his. I don't understand, he's just an Earthbound, compared to his sparring partner who is an Enlightened one."
Dalton lifted his information packet and began to rattle off information. "Name, Crono Tekoris," he said monotonously. "It says he's always gotten the best grades possible. His freshman year he took physics, the required magic course," Dalton's eyes widened at the information after that. He pulled his paper closer to make sure he wasn't misreading it. "It says here that he actually made a breakthrough of such magnitude in magic that halfway through the course, he was automatically given a passing grade." Queen Zeal tore the paper from his hand, almost ripping it. She could scarcely believe what she was seeing; he was the child that wrote a seventy-page published dissertation about the origins and history of magic at the age of sixteen?!
"I'm gonna beat you THIS time, Crono!" Crono's sparring partner shouted.
"Kafta, you've never come close to beating me, and too much is at stake here!" he replied.
Crono saw an opening in his partner's attack pattern that only a veteran knight would see, and thus he took it. He brought his sword up to meet Kafta's above the boy's head, then spun around with speed that most knights would be jealous of, and held his arm out, so that from shoulder to tip of blade was a straight line. He stopped his spin when the blade was an inch short of his friend's neck. Crono grinned as he touched the dull side of his sword to his friend's neck. "Had I been attacking you, you'd be dead already," Crono explained. "You know a triple alpha attack pattern is very hard to counter, except when your opponent has speed exceeding yours. That exception would have been your downfall if I was anyone else."
Kafta fell to a seated position after sheathing his blade. Defeated again? How is it that an ordinary Earthbound teen could best an Enlightened one at swordsmanship? How could he, who had taken numerous swordsmanship classes over his school career, lose to a teen who had the better part of his education with the common folk of the planet? "One of these days, Crono, I'm gonna get you." To this his punk-haired friend only smiled.
"Not if I get you first," he replied. The referee overseeing the match that just occurred, scrawled a lifeless X over Kafta's name, indicating that the boy had lost the match. He then declared that the Zeal Annual Swordsmanship Tournament had come to a close, and that Crono had won overall. In his division, the punk-haired teen had wiped the floor with several swordsmen and women, some of which were seniors in high school, years older than him.
As Crono left the main area of the arena/gymnasium, he was greeted at the door leading out into the open area of Zeal Kingdom by Dalton the bodyguard, and surprisingly, the queen herself. "Crono Tekoris?" she began, making sure she'd gotten the name correctly. He bowed immediately without saying a word before his liege. She smiled and waved for him to stand up, which he promptly did. "I'm rather impressed by your skill with a sword. I'm wondering; how is it that at you, a teen of Earthbound family is able to best some of the mightiest soldiers of the kingdom at the blade?"
He felt mildly offended at the insulting of his person merely due to his origin, but didn't speak out, for Dalton's imposing physical presence was one for mild concern. He merely shrugged. "I've been training since my sixth birthday when I got my first hand-made bokuto," he admitted, patting the wooden sword he carried for training. Tournaments used metal swords but he could still best a soldier with merely his bokuto. "If you think I'm good at swordsmanship, I dare say," he caught her giving him an impressed look, "I do believe I have a bit of talent in the field of magic."
"That's what I want to ask you a bit more about, dear citizen," Queen Zeal interjected. "How is it that last year, your sophomore year in high school, you were able to finalize your second edition of the most widely-accepted theory about the origins and history of magic, that any human being has ever seen?" Crono leaned in towards his queen, as if what he was whispering was top secret information. Dalton grasped his sword, but waited in case he wasn't hostile.
"Meditation," Crono merely stated. "Any secret you want to know, meditate and it'll come to you." He prepared to step out into the immediate courtyard of the arena, to greet his family members with the good news of his victory, when the Queen pulled him closer.
"I'm very pleased to tell you that I'm allowing you to take part in the Royal Trials!" she announced, causing him to halt midstep. He'd been training all month long in order to win the annual swordsmanship tournament, just so that he could have enough of a reputation built up as a sword fighter to apply for the Royal Trials. If he had enough of a reputation as a swordsman, he could easily have a sufficient cause to apply, and none gave him the status he wanted than the tournament he'd just won. The Royal Trials were open to anyone who could put a reasonable answer in the "skills significant to Zeal Kingdom" line of the application, which had every Earthbound kid allowed to get educated in the magical kingdom working their butts off. Now that he had the queen's permission, he could just show up and take part. However, to make sure, he questioned her will.
"Are you sure?" he said, making himself seem smaller than he was. "I mean, there're lots of Enlightened Ones my age that would kill for the same privilege." She waved her hand through the air as though it were a trivial matter, and he was speaking heresy.
"Oh, don't worry, Crono," she reassured him. "I'll have Dalton send word to the officiates that you'll be taking part." He became as giddy as a school child; Dalton didn't. The royal trials were where the best minds, regardless of origin, were brought before a judge and all their talents and weaknesses noted, and after that was done they were given an assignment in the Zeal Kingdom that was financed by the Zeal Treasury. These were big-name projects that enhanced the wealth and power of the very kingdom itself, thus it was a distinct honor to be given a very unique position by the judges. Each job, even if you were assigned to be a foot worker, had more honor (and pay) than a job attained on your own. However, there were some jobs that were given only to the absolute most special. Among these were the queen's private task force, a police-like squad of officers that served matters involving the royal family, bodyguard positions like Dalton's, and the most prestigious of all: being assigned a Guru position. Crono knew in his heart that he'd never in a million years be assigned to a Guru position, but he believed he had the skill—at least, the knowledge—to be a darn fine soldier. He believed that even if he was assigned to the lowest rank of base knight, he could work his way up to general in just a decade's time. A dangerous job also meant hazardous duty pay—an extra few hundred gold coins per week—which would provide enough so that his family would NEVER go hungry again. He'd achieve this or die trying. He never wanted to see his mother eat toothpaste again due to lack of money.
"Crono honey? How'd you do…oh my!" Crono's mother, rapidly approaching her son standing just outside the doorway, saw the queen standing next to her son and bowed immediately. "Queen Zeal, your highness!
"Stand up, Earthbound One," Zeal said in a friendly manner. "You must be proud of your son; he just won the tournament!" Jina almost fainted at the news that her son Crono had won the tournament she believed he didn't have much of a chance in against older boys and girls of Enlightened origin. She waved toward the queen as though such were no serious matter. She acted this way in the queen's presence for the mere reason that the queen was the queen; had Zeal been any ordinary member of the kingdom society, Jina would be bragging her head off. She wanted to leap, sing, dance and shout but restrained herself in Zeal's presence.
"Oh, I always wondered how he'd turn up, what with his constant sword training!" Jina stated. "I mean, he always speaks of a 'triple alpha stance' this and a 'bi-level sigma strike' that…sometimes I just want to scream, but I'm glad its amounted to something."
"Oh, quit being modest…" she looked to her bodyguard, towering above her.
"Jina Tekoris," whispered Dalton.
"Quit being modest…Jina!" she found it slightly difficult to be calling an ordinary Earthbound woman by her first name, but as a queen, she recalled, she could dance around dressed in a turkey suit and she had to care of no one's opinion. "In fact, I'm so impressed with his work in swordsmanship and magic that I've decided to give him honorary permission to partake in the Royal Trials!" It was at this statement that Jina wanted to throw herself at the feet of the queen and grovel out of thankfulness. However, maintaining her composure, she simply smiled.
"Oh, that's WONDERFUL!" she said, hugging her son embarrassingly. "I'm just so glad he's finally getting recognized!"
"Well, see you later in the Royal Trials, Crono!" Zeal cried as she walked toward the main chamber in the palace. Dalton walked lockstep with her, casting glances at anyone who dared take an ill-advised look at the queen. Jina turned to her son with a look of pride that she hadn't expressed in quite a bit.
"Crono!" she shouted. "I can't believe it! You, going into the Royal Trials! A week from today, you'll be given a position in Zeal Kingdom's society, and you'll be making the money we've always dreamed of making! We'll be accepted into a populace we've never been with, and best of all," she yanked her son closer to her with a tight hug, "we'll never go hungry again!" Jina began to cry as she stared into the teenage eyes of her son. He was seventeen; that age in your teen years where you should be preparing for college in the hardest of ways. That age where life is a miraculous thing that never seemed to have an end in sight, where if you had the right things you could ostensibly live eternally in your seventy or eighty years of living. Crono and his mother, however, had never had such a luxury of being born of Enlightened origin. True, Crono himself had possessed the skill—with massive talent—but he'd never been eighteen, which was an Earthbound's requirement to apply for a status change for his family. His mother Jina had never been able to even sense magical energy, so she'd never have passed the status change examination. As Crono headed to a party with several of his friends (Earthbound and Enlightened alike), his mother headed to her temporary home in the Zeal Project Housings, a not-half-bad two bedroom apartment where she'd be until her son's participation in the Royal Trials ended. He drank punch and ate cake with his fellow participants, but really he couldn't bear the thought of how he'd be placed by the judge. Shaking his head, he realized that such worry would be pointless, that whatever god reigned from heaven had already mapped out the conclusion of the trials. The week seemed to be decades away.
Instead, it passed in the blink of an eye, barely giving Crono time to prepare. He'd been going to school during the time frame as he'd always done, he was getting the best of his possible grades just missing a perfect hundred percent on his last test by getting half a point less on a single problem. His drive and determination were the envy of all the students wishing to participate in the Royal Trials, for he had such talent, they reasoned, he squeaked by admission by getting personal permission by the queen. It was a nightmare for many other kids his age, for they had until two mornings before the actual event to register. It normally was only a matter of a few hours before they got their final word back in the mail from the official admission committee. After completing his last course of the day at the high school, he walked home, proudly examining his wooden bokuto, which he still kept around for sentimental purposes. It was a weapon that he'd sharpened to such fine quality in the sword-sharpening shop of his friend Kafta's dad, that many metal swords couldn't cut as well as it. Because it was wood, and dulled far quicker, he refrained from using it, although, he noticed, it could probably halve a human hair more than six times. He used it for a tool more than a weapon, for it possessed a great deal of magical energy; it was made by Melchior, Guru of Life. The old man had cut it from a thousand year-old tree and polished it numerous times with holy water, so it naturally acted like a magical energy magnet, sucking magic energy out of the ambient air and allowing Crono to more perfectly focus his powers.
"Crono!" Jina cried, lifting a piece of paper for him to see. "The queen's notice has come in! Your participation in the Trials are guaranteed, your position is number fourteen!" He practically yanked it from her hand, examining the "official" wordings the committee used with tender care. After reading it, he leaned forward and took his mother in a love embrace. "Oh, dear! I can't BELIEVE how gifted you are!"
"Mom," he said, wiping a tear from her eyes. "God has given me more than I could ever ask for, and I hope to give you something back when I start making my first paycheck." She offered him his favorite sandwich, and he ate only a small half of it, deciding afterward to retire to his room for the evening. He stared at the swords on the wall that his father had used during his days as a swordsman. Oh, father, he thought, looking at the last photo of his departed dad taken before the final death strike dealt to him during his final tournament. I wish you could be here to see this day. He put the picture down, wiped a tear of his own, and fell backwards onto his bed. Blissful slumber should have come, but it didn't.
He shook his head. Can't sleep, he thought. For hours to come, he tried his best and even took a glass of warm milk. Tomorrow would be the moment of truth, and he couldn't bear to think of what would happen if he was one of the five that, each year, was not chosen and had to return to their homes, broken hearted. Out of hundreds, he reasoned, attempting to set himself at ease, I have a five out of a lot chance of not getting assigned, so I'm in good shape. He attempted to calm down, but he couldn't bear the weight sitting on his heart. He wanted so badly to provide the best for his downtrodden mother, who'd for years taken a lot of abuse during her visits to her sickly husband who was treated in a Zeal hospital until his death. The other women would gossip, wondering how an Enlightened man could take an ordinary, Earthbound wife. They didn't recall that Kairo Tekoris was born Earthbound and became a soldier in the queen's army, nor did they remember that he was one of the best in the kingdom. All they saw was his wife, garbed in normal Earthbound animal hide, visiting him in the hospital after the terrible conspiracy on his life. He wanted so badly to laugh in the faces of those women. He knew if he was given a soldier's position, and made it to a commissioned officer, he'd have made more money in one year than the servant women whose only task was to aide the queen, made in twenty. His dad, being so popular as one of the best soldiers in the queen's army (after only a year, he was made a general), suffered from a poison dealt to him by his opponent in the royal tournament who'd coated his sword with a deadly chemical before the match. When he ran Kairo through with it, it only took a few minutes to put him in a permanent deathly state. The four had hoped it would kill him quickly, but he struggled with it for six years, making him a martyr, and his wife a hero for putting up with abuse from locals.
Sure enough, as he'd predicted, his best friend the morning that followed was his cup of coffee. He entered the main door of the auditorium, showing his paperwork at the door and entering, taking his seat in the second row, seat fourteen. The queen moved to her podium on stage, and began her speech. This is it, many of them thought. this is the moment I've waited for all my life.
"Dear young ones of the Zeal Kingdom and otherwise," she began. "This day marks a special occasion. It is today, that many of you will be assigned a specific job. These jobs are the envy of a lot of people, so take them seriously and you will never have to worry. Today, Earthbound children who've known only hardship all your lives will be given a chance to prove yourselves in the Zeal work force, some of you magic teachers, some of you soldiers, others of you other jobs. Regardless, today, your mere presence proves that you are all special. Today, set aside your differences of Earthbound and Enlightened, and recall that you each are unique. Judges, begin your judgment of these fine young people!" The judges stepped forth, the oldest announcing and the ones behind him handing out paperwork describing their careful assessment of the kids' talents.
"Number one, Kafta Lekronda," Crono looked at his best friend, proudly standing like a Greek God waiting for his answer. "You have been assigned to the position of…" the crowd virtually stood in edge, "…battlefield medic!" The punk-haired warrior cringed; this was not a job he would personally enjoy doing, for he hated the sight of blood, but smiled and wished his friend the best of luck. When he thought about it, he sat confused; since when did Kafta know a thing about medicine?
One by one, the judge announced each and every person until the girl sitting next to Crono stood up. "Number thirteen, Eliza Naakva," he surveyed the girl's blonde curls, seemingly impressed, "you have been assigned to the position of…apprentice to Guru Gaspar!" Crono was taken aback by this; it was quite an honor indeed to be assigned to a Guru's army-like bunch of apprentices. He clapped and put his hand on her shoulder once she returned to her seat, giving her a verbal wish of luck. He stood tense as a bird as the judge looked at his paper.
"Number…fifteen," he stammered. Crono's jaw dropped; he'd been skipped! The judge had looked at his paper, perfectly aware of himself, and skipped him! He bowed his head, simply in shock at the turn of events. His world had just been crushed. He blocked out all other sounds except the fast beating of his confused heart; how could he, who'd been personally told by the queen how special he was, be skipped, when he was one of the best? Breathing came difficult as he waited for all the people to be named. Once they'd all gone up and then returned to their seats, the judge put down his pamphlet and addressed the audience. "This year," the judge calmly stated, "there was one person in this audience who had been skipped." When the judge looked at him, Crono felt as if invisible daggers were penetrating him.
"Crono Tekoris," the judge said, gathering his breath and his courage, "you have NOT been assigned."
Crono fell backwards in his seat; he could have died just at that moment from the let-down.
"Instead, you have been chosen," the judge stated. He motioned for the boy to come to the stage. The word "chosen" had been used; what did that mean, Crono wondered? Nevertheless, he did as requested and left his seat, walking unhappily to the stage. The judge put an arm around Crono's shoulder, and turned to the audience. With a broad grin, he pulled the microphone closer.
"I present to you all," he shouted, then hesitated, building up pressure in the room. The silent moment made the tension unbelievably thick. "I present to you all, Crono Tekoris, our new Guru of Existence!" Crono stood with a confused look on his face, with a mouth hanging wide open. Had he really just heard correctly.
"Say that again," Crono requested. The queen approached from behind.
"You are the new…Guru of Existence!" she reminded him. He fainted, falling forward off the stage into his mother's grip.