For The Love of Darkness
Prologue: Worth Any Price
No secret codes now
No words as baby goes down
One last dance then goodbye
Practicing his love lies
He runs to his wife
And your left holding the knife
You live your life to take that chance
When your a master of the art of romance
And you know you won't cross that line
Until that last slow dance
We live, we learn, we lie
For the price of love
- "The Price of Love" by Bon Jovi
August 1000 A.D
"So, are you going to go search for Schala?" Marle asked, with a curious tone in her voice. The beautiful princess's voice had grown to annoy him after their task was completed. Everyone annoyed him now that Lavos was gone. The only voice he wanted to hear was that of one person. Without a word, he leapt through the gate and in a flash he was back at the End of Time.
A sly grin of satisfaction crossed his lips as he pulled out the gate key from his waist pocket. The scientist was too distracted by that blasted knight's transformation back into a human to notice that he had taken it from her bag. It didn't bother him though- Magus knew very well that Lucca could create another gate key if absolutely necessary. He slipped the small device back into his waist pocket and proceeded to examine the pillars before him. Magus began to question if the gates would hold up now that Lavos had been defeated. How much time would it give him? He waited briefly to see if anyone else would come through to the End of Time, alas no one came. Perhaps it was a longer goodbye for them then it was for him.
He had work to do and for all he knew time was short.
"Hey!" a familiar voice rang out from the other end of the platform. Gaspar. Magus breathed roughly out his nose and proceeded to turn to the pillar of light to 12,000 BC, "Janus! You come here this instant, young man!"
Surprised by the mention of his real name, Magus turned and proceeded down the hall and through the doorway to the room with the lone lamp post, where the old guru stood. Gaspar stood, relaxed against the lamp post, his long brown trench coat settled against his aged frame. One of his gloved hands lightly grasped his oak wood cane as the other lightly drummed atop it. He looked at Magus as he entered, as if he were waiting for the dark prince.
"Yes?" he asked in an irritated tone. Gaspar tilted his bolero hat back and looked at Magus with eyes filled with wonder.
"You always were such an intelligent and adaptable young man. It's why you were so gifted and full of promise in Zeal and were able to shake an empire in the Dark Ages. Now you've even managed to swipe an item from a rather bright and alert comrade when her attention was elsewhere." Gaspar chuckled.
Magus narrowed his eyes at Gaspar, "What are you getting at, old man?"
"Tell me, Prince," he began, tilting his head to one side and pointing at Magus's waist, "What do you intend to do with that Gate Key?"
"You already know the answer to that, Gaspar."
Gaspar brought his hand back to his cane and nodded slowly, "You know… It's such a tragedy really. I don't know if it's worth the risk or effort, my boy."
Magus clenched his fist tightly as an angry growl came from the back of his throat, "It is worth the risk, Gaspar. Tell me that you would not want to see her again."
"I never said that, Janus." Gaspar retorted, his aged features becoming taunt with mild agitation at Magus's comment. "And don't pretend like I don't! If it was so easy I would've happily returned to Zeal long ago."
"It is not that you did not have the means or knowledge to, Gaspar! Why didn't you?" Magus snapped.
"Because, my dear prince," he began, sadness filling his old eyes, "There is no timeline that exists in which Zeal remains forever. Somehow, someway, she always falls to the earth."
Magus felt a twinge in his chest that he had not felt in years, but one he was well acquainted with. The feeling of sorrow washed over him. There was no hope in any time or space for his beloved home to survive. It's was Zeal's fate to fall to ruin. No trick, no enemy fought, not item brought to it, or event prevented could have saved the Magical Kingdom.
He hung his head, as a few strands of his pale blue hair draped over his shoulder, lightly brushing his cool grey skin, "Why did the Gods curse our home, Gaspar? Were they so jealous of Zeal they deemed her damned?" Gaspar simply shrugged and shook his head.
"The Gods only do so much, Janus, and you know that our great mother does not take sides. She merely executes what is needed to maintain balance in the flow of time," he explained, "I could give you a million answers and they all would be partially right and partially wrong. Sometimes it is simply Fate, my boy."
Magus felt his muscles tense as he gathered the courage to next his next question, "So, does that mean that it could always have been Schala's fate to die?"
Gaspar looked at the prince and said nothing. Frustration and anger began to swell in his chest. As they mixed with the sorrow, Magus began to find it hard to breathe.
"Your sister… my dearest pupil and beloved princess… She is a mystery, your highness."
Magus's eyes immediately snapped to Gaspar.
"What are you saying?"
Gaspar sighed heavily and closed his eyes, growing silent, and appeared to be sleeping.
"Gaspar!" Magus shouted, "Wake up! What about Schala?!"
The Guru of Time's eyes flashed open, though the look within them was distant, as if he were looking out over a vast landscape.
"There is something within all of us that refuses to believe that someone of such innocence and purity could die alone and in such a tragic way as she would have in the Ocean Palace. Can you imagine her heart, Janus? She had taken the abuse of her mother and Lavos all in the name of bettering the life of her people. But she realized, sadly too late, that the power she had been trying to help harness would be her downfall. Can you imagine the melancholy that filled her heart as she watched the gate form below you and drag you into it? Or the agony that twisted it when she watched Crono die for her and his friends? Imagine the loneliness she must have felt when she realized that she was going to die alone."
The Guru of Time's words were like daggers ripping through him, "Gaspar… please stop…"
"I'm not finished yet, Janus." Gaspar said, reaching out and grabbing Magus's arm gently, his eyes still distant, "Now… imagine the hate that overcame her when she realized the world she loved and cared for had put her in this position. That the power she had tortured her body and mind for in order to better their lives would go unnoticed and disappear over time. Can you imagine the complete despair and hatred towards the world that left her to die like that?"
His heart wretched further and suddenly Gaspar's words filled his ears and mind like a nightmare that didn't stop once one had woken from it. He fought to keep his emotions in check as he imagined his beloved sister on the cold floor of the Ocean Palace, waiting for the end to come for her, no hope, no one to save her - alone.
"I would've stayed with her. I would've died with her if it meant she didn't feel alone." Magus murmured quietly.
"Nonsense, that would've proved useless for you both. After all, you aided in many events that have occurred over the course of history."
"Me, not her. I went on and she died alone…"
"You know, Janus, you still only have selective hearing after all these years." Gaspar said, blinking and shaking his head as he came back to where they stood. He let out a long tired breath then looked at Magus with a glint in his eyes.
"What do you mean?"
"I said 'would have'. The way she would have died was alone." Gaspar stated. Magus felt everything wash out of him again as his words began to register.
Suddenly, the realization swept over him as to what Gaspar was saying.
"You mean… Schala's alive?"
Gaspar looked down at his cane and shook his head.
"Do you know for almost every choice we make, Janus, a timeline can open up for all options we could've taken? It goes from the option that we choose, to the option we didn't choose, and even to the most extreme circumstance of us even dropping dead before we were ever able to make a choice. It's quite mind boggling really. For example, there is a timeline where you never came down here to speak to me. You went right about your business into the gates and found a way to Schala, only to find her circumstances gravely different than what we could've ever imagined."
"Really? How did I find her?! Where is she?" Magus demanded, Gaspar held up his hand for him to be silent as he continued,
"Be careful, Prince of Zeal. The power of hate can warp a person into a monster, even be consumed by what they fear and despise, such as Schala did Lavos. The only thing that can ever set any of us free is love."
Love conquering hate, how cliché it sounded. However, Magus grew impatient with Gaspar's riddles and aloof conversation. The Guru was alluding to everything but that which he wanted—a way to bring back Schala.
"Tell me what to do, Gaspar."
The old man's eyes became full of concern as he weighted heavily on his next choice of words, "Prince Janus, I am not going to pretend to be ignorant to your love of your sister, for I know it is deeper than that of a sibling bond. You yearn for her as a man might his lover."
"Does that offend you in any fashion, old man? For it does not matter to me what you or anyone else thinks about my feelings. Schala is the only woman who I've ever loved."
"Yes, I know. Every woman you've pulled to you or had under you, you've imagined it was her. Tell me prince, how many of those women did you break the hearts of?"
"No woman who didn't mournfully move on, returned to her husband, or adjusted to being a widow and remarried." Magus sneered, "They all were absolutely nothing to me. They were just enough to satisfy my physical needs as a man."
"Even as a boy you were jealous of any suitors who came to court your sister. Tell me, prince, when did your love for her surpass that of a sister? Was it really all those years ago when you were so young and craved for her attention more than anyone else's?"
Magus narrowed his eyes and breathed heavily, "Schala was the only woman to ever love and care for me. I have always loved her, but it was not until I was older that I realized my feelings for her were more than that of a brother. I wrestled with it, Gaspar, and don't pretend you don't know that I did. I am sure you watched me deal with it, even from your all-seeing post you have here. But I got over it and decided no matter what would happen that I had to see her again. When I did, I longed for it to be forever even though I knew our fates."
"And I have seen what your love will do to have her and, quite frankly, I worry you do not understand the gravity of what you are intending to do."
At last, Magus's patience snapped. In a fit of rage and frustration, he materialized his scythe and grabbed Gaspar roughly by the collar, bringing the Guru close to him and his menacing blade.
"Then you know how deep my love runs and how I'm willing to spill blood for it." He growled through his fangs. Gaspar did not react to the threat. He was calm and collected looking deep into Magus's blood-thirsted eyes.
"Tell me, Prince of Zeal," Gaspar began, "How many lives would you be willing to risk or ruin to hold your beloved sister again?"
December 1003 A.D.
Lucca sat under a tree in her backyard, watching Kid play with Prometheus as a light breeze washed over Ashtear Island. It was a lovely winter afternoon with crisp air and yet warm enough to enjoy the outdoors in a light set of layers. Life was simple, slow, and quiet but it was how she had always wanted it to be. It had been three years since Crono, Marle, and her had returned home and Glenn had made a choice to stay with her. While she had her objections at first, the truth became clear that there was no happiness in a future without Glenn by her side. She smiled as Kid danced and twirled with the tiny robot, as she would occasionally glance back and wave at Lucca.
"Lucca!" A familiar voice called. Lucca looked back over her shoulder to see the King and Queen of Guardia moving towards her. She stood and ran to her two friends, who greeted her as enthusiastically.
"Marle! Crono! What a surprise!" She exclaimed.
"Oh, if you only knew what we went through to get here alone!" Marle giggled, "The guards have to listen to us now when we say we want to go off alone somewhere!"
"I suppose there are advantages to being king and queen now." Lucca laughed, "Crono, how does it feel to be king?"
"Odd. There's a lot more politics involved then I was originally thinking but… it's going well. The people are happy and we're becoming a wealthy nation with good relations so I guess I'm doing well."
"The people love you." Lucca interrupted, "Don't be so modest! They see you as one of them so the fact you've helped to develop the towns and cities as well as build a better road system and travel way is appreciated. Plus, with the opening of the lab in Termina, we've got some bright minds coming up!"
"No one is as bright as you are though, Lucca. I wish you and Glenn would consider moving in with us. We could use a mind like yours at the castle!"
"Thanks Marle, but Glenn and I like our life here. The bridge is our gateway to and away from people. We have our own little paradise here, plus I have to look after my parents. They're not getting any younger, you know."
It was at that time that Kid ran over to the three and waved enthusiastically at Marle and Crono.
"HI!" She cried joyfully.
"Hello Kid, you look very pretty today! Is that a new dress?" Crono asked, crouching down to the toddler's level. Kid twirled in her jean jumper with a red tee shirt underneath. There was light blue embroidery on the hem of her skirt, accented by butterflies and faeries.
"Uh huh, Glenn bought it for me when we went to the market last week!" Kid said, with a big grin on her face. It was obvious that the little girl found Crono handsome as she always got a shy face yet talkative when he came around. Lucca laughed and patted her on the head.
"What else did Glenn get you at the market?" Lucca asked her. Kid thought for a moment then jumped and pointed to the top of her head where a bright red ribbon was laced into her pony tail
"Glenn got ribbon!"
"And what color is the ribbon?"
"Red!" she exclaimed.
"Wow Lucca, she speaks so well and is so smart for someone her age!" Marle commented with a smile.
Lucca nodded, "Ain't she though? Glenn and I talk to her often and ask her all about colors, shapes, numbers… she's caught on quite well."
"She'll be just as smart as her big sister someday!" Crono boasted, smiling at Kid who blushed. Crono stood up and stretched wide, looking around, "Speaking of which, where is Glenn?"
"He's out getting some things for an invention I'm working on. I needed some scrap metal so he should be back shortly. I'm building a Jet Bike!" Lucca declared.
"Really? You figured out how to make one?" Crono exclaimed, obviously becoming excited for the prospect of having the wind in his hair again. While the future they experienced was bleak, it was the one joy and fun he had there racing Johnny through the ruins.
Lucca tapped her glasses and winked at him, "Of course I did! I'm the great Lucca Ashtear, aren't I? No machine is too great for me! I already made a prototype of Robo! Say hello, Prometheus!"
Marle and Crono turned their attention to their miniature friend whirling and clicking around the yard. Prometheus looked over at the group then dashed over, bowing before them.
"Greetings Marle and Crono, it is good to see you both!" it said.
"Good to see you too, Prometheus!" Crono replied, turning to Lucca, "So when you master building a humanoid are you going to transfer him into Robo's body?"
"Something like that. We'll see. I'm years off from being that good. There's a lot of technology that needs to be developed in order to make such a complex robot. I may have to do it myself." She explained, "I'm learning a lot about the human body and how it functions. I'm basically learning to be a doctor right now too in order to bridge the gap between biology and technology!"
"Well I think that's great!" Marle cheered. Crono smiled at his wife and leaned over, kissing her on the cheek. It was at that point that Glenn returned with Taban's chestnut mare and cart full of scrap metal.
"Hey Glenn! Good to see you!" Crono yelled, waving at his friend. As Glenn approached the group, his short green hair waved in the breeze and his cape flowed behind him. He wore a blue shirt with black pants and black leather riding boots that went up to his strong calves. His amber eyes sparkled with joy, as he smiled warmly. As he approached the group, Glenn extended his hand and took Crono's forearm, as Crono grasped his own.
"Tis good to see you, Crono. And you as well, Marle."
"Glenn! You cut your hair!" Marle exclaimed.
"Actually, it's grown out a lot since he did." Lucca said, running a hand through his emerald locks. Glenn looked at her warmly and took her hand from his hair and kissed it gently. She giggled and blushed slightly, flashing Crono a look of excitement of a girlish nature- one only Glenn seemed to arouse in her. Suddenly, a thought crossed Lucca's mind.
"Oh, hey, it's not like I'm not happy to see you guys without the precession, but is there an occasion for the surprise visit?"
"Actually, there is because we're not ready to tell anyone else yet. We wanted you to be the first to know." Crono said, his face beaming with news.
Lucca looked at her best friend and then Marle, "Well? How long will you make us wait?"
"I'm pregnant!" Marle cried, grinning from ear to ear. Lucca took a moment to process the information just presented to her then let out a shrill of excitement and began jumping up and down. She hugged Marle and the two of them began gabbing in a swell of joy.
Glenn smiled and extended his hand to Crono's arm and took him into an embrace, "Congratulations, my friend. Thou shall make a fine father."
"Thanks." Crono said, patting his friend on the back and then standing back to look at him, "I'm scared as hell."
"Nonsense, you will have a healthy child." Glenn assured.
"Oh Gods! How far along are you?!" Lucca asked
"About two months," Marle said, touching her stomach lovingly, "We wanted to tell you guys before they rang Nadia's Bell to announce it."
"Oh! I can't wait now! A baby! Did you hear that, Kid? We're going to be Aunties!" Lucca exclaimed, picking Kid up and twirling her around in the air.
"AUNTIES! AUNTIES!" Kid laughed.
"Come! Thou must stay for dinner and celebrate this joyous event! Mrs. Lara and Taban are away on business, so it would be wonderful to have company tonight."
"That sounds lovely! We will!" Marle declared.
Crono rubbed his stomach hungrily, "You know Glenn, the castle has some good chefs but you make meat like no one I've ever met before."
"I do not know. Ayla knew how to make a wonderful roast herself."
"Oh… I miss Ayla." Marle said sadly. The three of them nodded in agreement.
"We should toast to her and all of our friends tonight!" Lucca stated, with a big smile. The others concurred whole heartedly.
Glenn cooked a mighty pot roast with hearty vegetables and broth, while Lucca enjoyed some wine with Crono, while Marle sipped water. They laughed and ate together, toasting to their friends no longer with them and mused about the future. After dinner, Glenn and Lucca left briefly to put Kid to bed with Prometheus. The two returned and sat down again, continuing their conversation.
"So Marle, do you want a boy or girl?" Lucca asked, swirling her wine in the glass then taking a sip.
Marle smiled and looked at Crono, who reached over and took her hand, "I don't really have a preference. As long as my child is happy and healthy, I don't care."
"You know, Marle, I'm testing out some genetic research. I could probably tell you the gender further along in your pregnancy."
"Really? You've learned that much?" Marle exclaimed.
"I'm awesome like that. It's worth a shot if you want to know."
"I'll think about it," she replied, patting her stomach with her free hand, "A part of me wants to be surprised… but if I knew it would help in preparing and thinking of a name."
"They say that a mother doth not know her child's name until she holds them for the first time." Glenn pointed out, sipping his wine.
"Perhaps but once it gets out that Marle is pregnant, she will be under heavy watch." Crono said, "After all, it's her first trimester and our first child."
"It'll work out fine." Lucca reassured them, drinking some more.
"So, what about you two?" Marle asked, cheerfully. Lucca's face became bright red, as did Glenn's at the mention of the two of them having children.
"Um… we're just dating, Marle." Lucca stammered, blushing feverishly as thoughts came to her head of being intimate with Glenn. Perhaps it was the wine or the fact that the two of them had little alone time lately due to Lara and Taban being away and taking care of Kid, but the thought of Glenn making love to her made her heart race and her mind swirl, "Glenn's very traditional."
"T-tis true, Marle. Children would be a blessing but I will honor the lady's chastity until I have made her my wife. It is only decent and respectful." Glenn added.
"Oh! So, you two are engaged?" the queen asked, with a teasing tone. Lucca's face became even hotter.
"I-I have not asked for my lady's hand."
"Oh.—" Marle's face changed, clearly showing she felt silly for making such comments and assumptions.
A few moments of awkward silence passed between them before Crono took a large drink of his wine to finish it off. As the red liquid warmed his core, he began to think about their adventure and one loose end that had plagued his mind every now and again.
"I wonder if Magus was successful…"
"Successful with what?" Lucca asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Finding Schala." Crono murmured. A wave of sorrow came over the room as they recalled their lost aide.
"The locals claimed to have not seen the maid after the disaster of the Ocean Palace." Glenn commented, "Mine instincts do not know if she survived or not."
"If she did, she certainly wasn't in the Dark Ages…" Lucca sighed, finishing her glass of wine, "She had to have survived somehow. I mean, how did her pendant get passed down from generation to generation to get to Marle if she didn't?"
"No one ever said anything about the pendant being from her though, Lucca. The only thing mentioned even from that era about it is that the first king and queen who established Guardia in that time had it. There was no mention how they came to possess it."
"Might there be a chance that the first queen of Guardia was Lady Schala?" Glenn asked.
Crono shook his head, "Unless she went under the alias of another, no. The first queen was an Earthbound One. So we don't know how Marle's pendant became an heirloom… It's implied that somehow the first royals came to possess it."
"Perhaps that was how that family gained power? Because they had an original relic from the previous monarchy?" Lucca questioned.
"Who knows? We won't unless we go back and witness it ourselves." Marle stated.
"Which reminds me of something," Lucca began, "When I found Kid in the woods, I noticed around her neck was a pendant that bared a striking resemblance to yours, Marle."
"Really? Do you still have it?" Marle asked.
"Yes, but Kid wears it all the time and refuses to take it off. In fact, she wears it under her clothes all the time and it rarely sees the light of day."
"Huh. I'd like to look at it sometime."
"Thine pendant seems to be the link between us all, Marle." Glenn mused, "Ayla had its primitive form, before it evolved into the pendant Lady Schala wore and used, and somehow through the sands of time entered thine family where both Queen Leene and thyself wore it."
"I wonder what happened to it that it wasn't in Robo's future even."
"I doubt we will ever know the answer to that." Lucca sighed, "Anyway, the hour is late and you best head back before they send a search party."
"Yeah, thank you for dinner." Crono said, standing with Marle. Lucca and Glenn walked the two to the door. They said their farewells and left for the castle. Glenn went back upstairs to the kitchen and began to put away the left-overs and clean the dishes. Lucca changed and walked back into the kitchen, putting her arms around his waist as
"Glenn, are you happy with me?" Lucca asked timidly. Glenn finished drying the last dish then turned and wrapped his arms around her.
"Unimaginably, my love." He whispered, brushing a violet lock out of her eyes, "Why doth thou ask?"
"We've been together for a few years now… I just was worried I would bore you eventually. I mean, I've never had a boyfriend before and I'm not exactly experienced… I mean the only guy I've kissed other than you is Crono and we were like… ten and that was weird."
Glenn laughed and put his forehead against hers, gathering her closer to him, "Only Crono? Really? I am very lucky then he was not the wiser to be with thee."
"No way. We found out when we were ten it'd be like trying to be with my brother. It was one of those things where we had a moment and got over it really quick." She laughed.
"Lucky for me." Glenn said, closing the gap between their lips. Lucca inhaled sharply and wrapped her arms around his neck, moaning softly in the back of her throat as their kiss deepened. Glenn bent down and lifted her up, spinning around and placing her on the counter. It was moments like this when the two of them were tested on how strong Glenn's virtue was. There had been multiple nights where he had just wanted to take her and ravage her until morning, alas he refused to compromise Lucca until he made an honest offer to her father and married her.
"Glenn…" she whimpered, wrapping her legs around his waist and pulling herself against his strong torso and growing member, "Please… please—tonight… can we tonight? Mom and dad aren't home… and… and Kid's fast asleep by now… please…"
It took all of Glenn's self-control to tear his lips from hers. Both of them were shaking, while grasping at the others hair, sweat beginning to form on their brows. Glenn let out a rough breath and shook his head.
"Forgive me, my lady, I forget myself with thee." He whispered, breathlessly as he let his forehead rest against hers, "I promise I shall approach your father as soon as he has returned from his trip with your mother."
"I don't mind. Really, I don't. I know it's you and only you I want to be with forever. I mean it's been three years since you and I have been together… it's not like we're not going to get married." Lucca found herself whining. She hated how she was reduced to a typical female when he was around, but loved him enough not to care.
"Lucca, this is not me rejecting thee by any means." He laughed lightly, kissing her briefly, "I assure thee that I will make thee my wife and mine forever. And it shall be worth the wait, my darling."
Lucca smiled and kissed him again, a warm feeling swelling within her, "I can't wait."
With that, the two of them retired for the evening, curling up in one another's arms as Kidd slept quietly in her bed in their room. The next morning, Lucca awoke briefly to hear Nadia's Bell chime off in the distance. She smiled and rolled back over, curling up on Glenn's chest.
The rest of the kingdom knew the glorious news.