Disclaimer: I do not own Dark Cloud, Dark Chronicle, or Final Fantasy III.
"Maybe history, as you know it, isn't the one true history." – Max
Cold. All coming back in a brisk rush of cold.
Wind, she remembered the wind, brushing over her father's balcony on its timeless journey to nowhere.
Time. She remembered time, going home through a cloud of red and coming back through one of blue…
One hundred years between them. But there was something else she remembered, something she desperately wanted to remember. Why? If she could just reach it, that phantom at the edge of her memory…
A bedtime story. From her favorite voice of all times, a story about a war eight hundred years past, about a prince turned king who lost himself to darkness, darkness so deep that one of his own people tried to kill him for it. The assassin was foiled by a beautiful princess the king was courting, and she nearly died for it. Then together, they built a kingdom…
The story always ended there and she remembered feeling like there was something more. But father was sad at the end, so she never asked.
Now she couldn't.
Why couldn't she ask?
Because he was killed. Murdered by a man in red. Gaspard.
Name. Names. Names were important. She felt coarse grass beneath her. What was her name?
"Mo–" she coughed, throat dry and scratchy, "Monica." Monica Raybrandt.
It came back. Her mission in the past, meeting and enlisting Elena's son, Max. The war against Griffon, Sirus. The moon, the decision to go back… and a fat pink genie at the bottom of Zelmite Mine. What was that?
And what had happened after they'd beat it?
They. She and Max.
Monica snapped out of her haze, pushed her drowsy limbs to get up. Where was–
Max lay just a few feet away, snoozing peacefully. They were safe.
And maybe lost, she noted as she stared up, and up, and up at the single building in sight. A lone tower piercing the sky, rising further than she could see.
The pink genie chortled even as its form wavered, barely able to hold together after the beating they'd dealt it. And she thought it was over, all the pain from this endless war across the eons.
"You made the Dark Element?" Max asked, horrified.
Turned out there was still one more loose end.
The chortle grew to a full-on laugh, the genie's body solidifying again. It was regenerating. And retreating, the ground beneath it collapsing with the roar of an avalanche.
Escape? As if she'd let it! Monica dashed toward the pit. She couldn't see the bottom and didn't care. So long as this thing was alive, there could be another Griffon.
Max was right behind her, "He's getting away!"
"No he's not!" One last step, foot hooked around the ledge to give her one last push–
She hurtled into darkness.
Monica remembered blurry changes of light and dark after that, some frantic voices, and the briefest glimpse of bunny ears… and then nothing. Nothing between that and waking up here. Wherever 'here' was.
She heard bells, their soft tolls ringing from – probably somewhere inside the building. Though she stood on her feet, she felt more like she was floating several miles above ground. Moving toward Max's body, she kept her eyes on the green and yellow grass.
The atmosphere was grey, washed out. It reminded her of Kazarov and its monochrome landscape, those pale blue stones alone in the silver sand.
"Max," she said, clearing her throat and sliding down beside him. Coughing, swallowing, she tried again. "Max, wake up."
"… Monica?" he murmured into the grass.
"Are you hurt?"
"I don't think so…" He squinted in the light, sluggishly coming to. "Where are we?"
"I was hoping you would know."
"It's not the mines." Max rolled over. "Oh. That's a big tower."
"Yes, it is."
Max chuckled and rested his hands behind his head. "Did you also black out?"
"Yes." Monica craned her neck to see if there was any end to the thing. "Mn, not looking very good for us, is it?"
Max jumped to his feet. "We're not going to get anywhere just laying here. Let's check it out."
They approached and huge double-doors parted for them. Upon entering, they found glowing lamps guiding their way to the end where a solitary suit of armor stood etched into the stone.
"What's that?" Max asked.
"Plate mail." There was nothing exceptional about it. Her old home had more impressive displays. Or will have, depending on when they found themselves. "It's not very well cared for."
"No, I mean… don't you feel that?"
"Feel what?" Monica glanced around. Moss crept in through cracks, the stones were large and uneven beneath her feet. But nothing felt–
"Oh." That familiar taste of dark.
Max tensed. "Got your sword?"
"Of course. Wrench?"
They stepped onto a round platform beneath the armor and it jolted to life. Max gave Monica a knowing look before the stone burst upward and they flew to the first floor.
It was a bit like the Moon Flower Palace, Monica thought as they stepped out. Except that while the walls were made entirely of stone and pillars and grand arches, it didn't have any of the glass and carpet from the Palace. Here, the stone had discolored with age and Monica couldn't help but feel uneasy, wondering what she'd do if they collapsed.
"Something's not right," Max muttered.
Another presence entered the hall. "I am inclined to agree."
Monica snapped into a defensive stance at the deep, unfamiliar voice. At her side, Max mirrored her. The speaker, a figure in a heavy cloak and dark armor, emerged from the shadows, stopping under the dusty light of a stained-glass window.
"Who're you?" Max asked.
"A temporary caretaker for this place while its master is away," the man replied, "The Crystals tell me that you were lost to time, and so they pulled you here. You were chosen by two of them, correct?"
Monica frowned, "Are you… talking about the Atlamillia?"
"It is so. This is their touchstone, and now that you are here, they are silent. I suspect they had no intent beyond anchoring you in time. If you are lost, however, I am certain I can point you back home."
"We came from Palm Brinks," Max said, "Do you know where that is?"
"Palm Brinks…" the man was silent for a moment, and then nodded, "Yes, a small village near the western coast, north of the mountains that border the desert. It is on the opposite end of the continent as here – you have a long walk ahead of you."
"A small village?" Monica questioned, incredulous.
Max added, "Near the coast?"
"It is certainly not within sight of the ocean," the man said, "I meant only to say that it is near the continent's edge. And yes, the last I knew, it was quite a small village."
"That can't be right."
"It is pretty small," Monica said, "But I definitely wouldn't call it a village. It's a town, at least. Hey, mister, do you know much about recent historical events?"
"I'm afraid I have been away from the world for many years. However, it would not surprise me if the Crystals have not precisely pinpointed your temporal origin – it may be that Palm Brinks has grown a great deal in the time I've been away, or it may be that you have fallen into the past or future, relative to where you started."
Max groaned, "Aw, man, I hope not."
"It doesn't really matter," Monica said, "We were chasing a fat pink genie – do you know where it might have gone?"
The man tilted his head, "A… I offer apology, please repeat that."
"A fat pink genie," Max said, "It tried to destroy the world. It's probably going to try again."
The man stiffened, and went quiet again. Monica noticed, and pounced, "You know something! What is it?"
"I believe I am familiar with the being of which you speak. It has indeed surfaced recently in this world, in Queens."
"Yes, Queens. Your capitol. I assume you're familiar with it."
Monica exchanged a glance with Max.
The man sighed, "Certainly displaced in time, then. Queens lies on the west coast, north of Palm Brinks. I suspect your village – or town – will be among the first to feel the effects of this manifestation. If you wish to vanquish it, you need merely follow the sunset until you reach the sea. Once you get close, I am certain your foe will rise to meet you – it has an eternal vendetta against those chosen by the Crystals. It will not pass up any opportunity to destroy you, and it will change nothing that you do not possess an Atlamillia at this moment."
"That's perfect," Monica said, "Thank you, sir. Let's go, Max."
"Thank you!" Max said, waving at the man as he followed Monica.
He watched the two children go and discarded the impulse to call them back. They had not balked at the idea of being displaced in time – evidently, they were familiar with travel between years. Furthermore, their readied stances at his approach spoke quite clearly of combat experience, underscored by the immense power that flowed through their weapons.
Yes, they surely needed no further aid from him. Likely they had faced the Cloud at least once already, and now chased it further. Besides, in all likelihood, they would return here after their business on the coast was finished.
I suppose the Crystals did have a purpose for bringing them here, beyond simply removing them from the timeless void.
Not that the Crystals spoke to him much, of late. The chill in his veins kept their voices at bay, whispering to him in their place.
He sighed, turning to pace aimlessly through Demon Shaft's labyrinthine halls. He hoped those children would succeed, and then find a path back to whenever they called home. It was exceedingly difficult to walk across the eons without the aid of a crystal, but to those who knew to look, there were always ways.