Introduction to the story, in which we learn about our main protagonist.
It all began on the start of January when the cool winds beat upon the shores of a beach that bordered Guardia Kingdom from the ocean that stretched for hundreds of miles. It was a warm year, and a flock of seagulls that flew in a group were grateful as they circled over the cerulean seas in search of sustenance. Life was plentiful and abundant in these seas and it was usually peaceful. However, there was something different in the air that morning, driving the seagulls further away from the town than they usually were.
However, there was a certain seagull whose curiosity burned within him. While his brothers would soar over the waters, looking for fish, he began to lean to the west and let the wind carry him back to shore. It was an effortless flight compared to going against the wind which he did in order to hunt in the group. He was content to take a few dives as he worked his way back to shore, and when he arrived to the shore the sun was a few minutes away from rising. Everything was still a bluish tint while he soared over the most provincial part of the whole city. The provincial part of the city was charming, with old-time houses made of stucco and old oil lamps that would light the streets at night. There was a main road that was made of brick leading to the center of the city and it branched off to each individual house. The houses became closer and closer as the seagull grew near to the center of the city where a large fountain was erected years past. It was always a good place to go when you were tired of fish and wanted a piece of bread. An old woman or young child would usually be more than happy to spare a morsel just so they could get a closer look at a seagull. Typically, it was peaceful as well.
It wasn't that morning…
The sun had not risen over the forest in the west, yet throngs of people were gathering in the center of town. They numbered in the thousands and the once peaceful place had become a tumult of activity. It was almost overwhelming for the poor seagull, his ears hurting from the constant noise, his eyes becoming dizzy from so many colors and movements of people, yet his curiosity still held a strong command over him. There was a statue of the current king of Guardia that served as a centerpiece for the fountain. Although he was depicted in dull, gray colored metal, one could still see that he was a man of strong stature, befitting that of a king. The seagull only perched on the head of the statue as he had done so many times before in order to observe the chaos.
Imagine his eyes darting back and forth as he viewed what unfolded before him. There were people of all races and from different stations in life gathering together in such a way that they never would before. There were children who ran throughout the center of the town, their feet pounding on the cobblestone streets below them. There were old men gathered with old acquaintances and they laughed, talking about their lives and experiences they had ventured. There were minstrels and musicians, who rehearsed beautiful and cheerful melodies on their instruments. Merchants and salesmen showed their wares and beckoned or begged people to make a purchase. There were young men and women who chattered amongst themselves, their chatter concerning dances that were to be a part of some fair.
The seagull failed to comprehend what could cause humans to act so different then usual. He thought that they had reached the height of their celebrating, but then he realized he was mistaken. Suddenly, the sun rose over the forest, making the whole city glow in its bright light. As it shone upon the crowd all, jubilation had broke loose. Confetti had suddenly rained down from the houses above him, which the seagull had just noticed, had people cheering and throwing handfuls of that same confetti over the crowd below who were as boisterous as they were. People had suddenly broken out into song and the musicians struck up their instruments as those who did not know the words only began to cheer at the top of their voices. Slowly, but surely, and impromptu parade began to circle around the fountain and it began to move up the main road that led to the north.
The seagull, innocent to the ways of man and their strange happenings, simply gave up trying to determine what had made their world celebrate in such a manner. His fragile and small brain began to hurt as the throngs cheered and laughed as thousands more began to follow the chorus and the crowd to the north side of the city. The last straw was a burst of cannon fire that was deafening; not to the crowd, but to the seagull's sensitive ears. He had decided to quit his short-lived quest for knowledge and pushed off the statue and into the air. Within a few moments he was soaring away from the crowds and heading east towards the ocean. As he passed over the houses, which began to thin out in number, he decided that he would rather spend his day resting in the shade of a tree.
There was a certain house that was only a few hundred yards away from the shore side. It had a small garden to its side, thick with vine, vegetables and fruits. The house was very much like the other provincial settlements around them: tan, with dark wooden planks bordering the houses in certain places. A few trees surrounded its area and the seagull nestled itself on one of its many branches. It closed its eyes and relaxed from the strenuous activities while the tree swayed in the ocean's breeze. A bell began to ring in the distance, but it was so faint that it did little to disturb the bird.
Another breeze lazily moved over the face of the land as it found its way to that same house. It flew through an open window, billowing curtains in its wake. It circled about the room until it found a certain youth who was sprawled on a bed under thin sheets. He only sighed comfortably as the wind rustled his red hair and went over his tanned face. A smile formed on his face while he dreamed of festivities that had already begun to start. He was oblivious to the bell that had signified the start of the fair.
A bell rang out in the distance…
It rang again, a little louder than before…
Slowly, a pair of eyes began to open…
The red-haired youth sat up in his bed. His apple-green eyes had trouble adjusting at first and it seemed like he was looking at the world through water. A soft voice answered him and he made out a blur that was standing in front of him. "It's about time you woke up. I called your name a thousand times." The youth rubbed his eyes vigorously as his vision began to clear. It was his mother, and now she was walking to the curtain that kept his room dark enough so that he could sleep. A rattle of curtain rings and a bright light filled his room. He shielded his eyes as he half-laughed and half-growled in annoyance.
"Mom! I swear! Why do you always do that? You know it hurts my eyes!"
His mother laughed as she walked back to the side of his bed. She playfully ruffled his messy hair that was styled with spikes. "I know that if I don't do it, then you won't wake up! Besides, I called for you an hour and a half ago when the march for the bell ceremony was close to starting. You missed it, you know." No sooner than she said this, Crono had jumped out of bed with a start, wearing only a pair of boxers. He looked at the old grandfather clock that was in the opposite corner of his bed. It was almost 9:00 in the morning. The ceremony started at 8:00 that very morning.
"Oh no!" Crono slapped his head in frustration. He hurriedly rushed to his drawer, flinging it open and searching vigorously for the clothes he had chosen the night before. A dark green tunic, a dark gray undershirt, khaki colored pants, a leather belt, and a pair of solid leather boots made up his outfit. He quickly threw on every item of clothing he had chosen, much to the amusement of his mother who watched him get his head stuck while he struggled with his undershirt. She gave him a helpful tug and it slipped over him comfortably. He muttered a quick thanks as he began to latch his belt over his tunic, sliding into his boots at the same time. After all that work, he stood with his hands outstretched, panting just a little from rush. Obviously, he expected a quick appraisal from his mother.
Of course this was not the first time he was in a rush. There were many times when her son had unintentionally overslept. She would wonder at times if he would ever overcome that dreaded hobby. Even still, she was a patient woman who was quick to forgive any faults that she found in people. She only looked at him, a feeling of pride and love suddenly seeping into her just like any other mother at certain times. "Crono…You look wonderful." Without warning, she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him tightly.
Her son laughed a little as he pulled away from her. "What was that for, mom?"
She only shrugged, tugging a little on the edge of his tunic just so that it straightened out just a bit. "Oh, nothing really. Just wanted you to know that I love you."
He smiled, "I love you too, mom."
Suddenly, her eyes widened as if she remembered something. She motioned Crono to wait for a moment as she produced a letter from the inner folding of her clothes. It was only a piece of paper that had very little written on it. She handed it to Crono who took it with a knowing look on his face. He unfolded the paper, reading the contents. The contents were thus:
Crono, you lazy bum. I knew you would be oversleeping. I stopped by while you were off in la-la land.
I figured I shouldn't wake you, because you acted like a brat the last time I did it.
Crono sighed, rolling his eyes while muttering to his self, "That's because you woke me up by screaming that my house was on fire!"
So instead, I and my father will be waiting for you in Leene's Square.
We can get a bite to eat and I'll tell you what happened at the ceremony.
Oh! Don't forget, I can show you my invention at the science fair!
Be at the main flower garden by 9:30. You better not be late…
Crono looked at his grandfather clock and back at his letter. He gasped in horror as he realized that he only had twenty minutes to sprint uptown to the fair grounds. He bid his mother adieu as he grabbed a backpack off his desk that had money and other necessities inside. He sprinted down the stairs, which creaked under his weight. The door to their front house banged open as he ran down the path that led to the main street. He was angry at himself for being so late.
Crono was a man of good stature. His arms, stomach, and chest were well-defined and toned. He could run as fast and as long as any marathon runner. Usually people would wonder what his secret was, and it was this: He and his mother had a good garden that had great soil. He would always do the gardening and his mother would be in charge of selling the product. In times of winter, he would help support his mother by chopping some wood in the forest or volunteering down at the docks. Not only that, but he had always liked watching soldiers duel while they practiced when he was a boy. So it was only natural that he took up the hobby as well. If he wasn't working or running around town with Lucca, then he was practicing his swordsmanship. Not only did he swing his wooden sword in pre-determined patterns, but he would fully explore different moves with flips and cartwheels. So when he trained, he not only practiced, but he run around like a little child until he got tired enough. Strangely enough, that was his secret.
For a moment he stopped, yet his feet kept moving while he jogged in place. A group of giggled girls eyed him over as they approached him. They were fellow students from his school. Occasionally he would see them about when he was with Lucca, but other than that he would see them in school. Usually he would only see them in their drab, school uniforms, but today they were dressed up for the festivities. They wore long flowing dresses that would be perfect for twirling while dancing. They were basically the same dress, but with different colors. It made them look really pretty, but he had other things on his mind at the moment.
"Where's the fire?" one of them asked, smirking slyly while the others giggled.
"I need to get to the square, on the double! If I don't get there before 9:30, Lucca will kill me!" Crono said in desperation.
"Hold on! Are you talking about the science fair?" one asked.
Crono nodded, failing to see where this was going.
"She got you Crono…" said another girl, "It starts at 11:00 this morning."
Crono must have turned fourteen shades of red at that moment while the girls laughed, also awing with sympathy. However, Crono felt better, knowing that he was now free to take his time. He relaxed quickly and smiled along with the rest of them, even laughing at himself for falling victim to another prank. The girls were pleasantly pleased to see that he could probably escort them. They walked along the road; mostly it was Crono asking questions about the opening ceremonies. The girls said that it was a great opening and that the king gave the opening speech. There were representatives from all over the world present at the opening ceremony. The king said that the fair was for bringing all people together to celebrate as one for the New Year. Then, he rang the bell to commemorate the start of the festivities, which was the bell that Crono had heard earlier.
"Sounds great!" Crono said, a bright smile on his face.
"Oh it was!" the girls replied.
"So, why are you guys going home?" Crono said, seeing that they were having a good time and all.
"Well, you were not the only one who was late, you know! We were in such a hurry to make the ceremony that we didn't eat breakfast yet!"
Crono looked them over. Usually, these girls traveled with another person at their side. She was absent at the moment, and it was noticed. "Hey, where is Claire? Did she already go back home?" Claire was one of the girls he did see often. Her family owned a shop that was close to the center of town and they accepted local products. Crono and his mother would always provide their shop with homegrown food and freshly chopped firewood. They were good acquaintances, and even Claire had a small thing for Crono that she never let that out to anyone except that giggling group of young women. Suddenly the conversation took a turn towards a matchmaking session.
"Well, she has been depressed for a while now." One said.
"Really? Why?" Crono asked, a little dismayed at the news.
"Well, her brother Fritz was supposed to be home for Christmas, but he didn't make it back yet."
"What's holding him back?"
The young women shrugged, "Well, no one knows. She hasn't got letter or wind of him for a few weeks."
"It would be really nice if you cheered her up, Crono!" piped in another.
He beamed as he jutted a thumb into chest, "Leave it to me! Where is she?"
"At the docks."
The young women moved off to their homes, giggling just as much as they had before. He shouted out after them that he would see them at the fair to which they agreed. He moved towards the dock, lightly jogging this time. The dock was a while away, but nothing to be worried about. It was actually a short walk since he knew the shortcuts. He had to rush to the docks several times before and those same shortcuts came in handy. He had finally worked on a main street that led straight to the docks. The population here was thicker than over by the fields, for obvious reasons. Guardia was a kingdom known for its exports, so naturally there were a lot of ships and sailors that worked around the area. However, the streets were understandably quiet that morning because of the fair. There were many boats that carried travelers visiting the fair, but besides that there were few cargo ships. Most of the items for the fair had come weeks earlier.
The piers were large and expansive that went out for hundreds of yards, but he already had an idea where he would find Claire. He knew the docks like the back of his hand from all of his work there. He quickly found the ticket office where there was a reception area. It was quaint, just like the rest of the village was: mostly wood floors, save a few woven carpets. He looked to a window, where light flooded in and illuminated the object of his search: Claire.
She jumped with a start, obviously torn away from deep thinking. She quickly regained her composure when she realized who it was. She smiled brightly as Crono walked over, taking a seat right next to her. Already, a tint of red was beginning to color her cheeks. It was always hard for anyone to talk to the object of their affection without blushing. "H-hello Crono. How are you this morning?" He shrugged nonchalantly as he had a seat next to her. He only said that he had nothing going on at the moment and that was enough. They sat there for a moment. Crono was oblivious to the fact that thousands of possible things to say swam around in Claire's head, but finally she broke the silence.
"So, are you waiting for anyone?" She asked.
"No, not really." He replied.
She raised an eyebrow, "Then what are you doing here?"
Crono sighed, turning to face her. There was an expectant look on her face; the face of a young school girl who had naïve fantasies building up within her. Whatever she was expecting, she strangely didn't expect something so simple. He shrugged as he turned to her, saying, "Well, your friends told me that you were upset. I thought I would come over and see if you were feeling okay." Her rising hopes quickly tumbled down to ashes, and her reply was one without voice or emotion. Maybe there was even a small amount of anger in her voice, "I'm fine. I'm just waiting for my brother."
"I heard it's been awhile."
"When he gets back, I'm sure he'll let you know. Why don't you enjoy the fair? I know you've been talking about it for months!"
"I have no one to go with…" she said, speaking between her teeth.
"I'll go with you!"
Any feeling of anger or resentment instantly vanished and it was replaced with a look of great excitement. In fact, it surprised Crono a little. Her hands were clasped tightly and she looked into Crono's eye, her own twinkling. "Really? You would go with me to the fair?"
Crono laughed as he said, "Of course! But I can only wander around until 11:00, because if I don't go to the science fair Lucca will kill me."
She laughed and said, "I would love to go!"
"Let's go then!" Crono wrapped his arm around hers and she blushed a deeper crimson.
The fair grounds were beautiful. They had always been. The fair was being held at an area that was known as Leene's Square. It was a tourist spot that was property to the king. All year round there were gardeners that would plant flowers and till the soil. No scrap of garbage was to be seen on the ground, despite the fact that thousands of people were walking over its brick walkways. Even the walkways were intricately detailed; light tan bricks were interlaced with faded red bricks so that gave a faint contrast to the yellow and purple tulips that were planted all over the grounds. The flowers were sweet-smelling and exotic. It was a rumor that the king would change the color of the flowers every week during the fair; just to make sure they didn't get old. All these steps and more were taken to make the grounds as extravagant as possible. One could get a feeling of joy and excitement just by entering the square.
Crono was amazed at the transformation that had come over the plaza. It was much larger than he thought, certain areas opening up for exploration that were once closed before. Booths were set up all over the grounds, and all manner of goods were being sold. Performers acted in the streets and music was coming from everywhere, although there was a larger commotion in the eastern section of the square. There were even Ferris wheels and rides that didn't cost an ounce of gold; well, technically, it only cost silver points…whatever that was…Suddenly Crono felt a tugging on his arm.
"Hey! Let's go over here!"
"Okay, okay! Don't tear my arm off now!" He laughed.
She began to drag him towards the eastern end of the plaza. The music grew louder and louder until they rounded a corner. There were hundreds of people packed into a small area and they were all dancing to the beat of some prehistoric rhythm. The musician themselves were danced in animal skins and they donned shaggy beards. Obviously, there was some kind of theme at work here. He looked at her, not knowing that she had finally gained enough courage to do something she wanted for some time now…
"C'mon! Let's dance!"
It was a lot of fun for them both. Crono felt better, having calmed down Claire, and of course Claire felt better, finally getting a feel for what it was like to be around Crono longer than a business sale. By the end of it, they were both laughing and holding each other. (Of course, this was what Claire enjoyed the most). The band had taken a break to rest and the crowd dispersed for the time being. They were the only few people in that part of the square at the moment.
"Thank you Crono. I had a lot of fun." That expectant look returned.
"I did too. We should do that again soon." Crono said, beaming.
"Yeah! That would be great!" she said, clasping her hands together.
"What are you so excited about? The next dance is in twenty minutes!"
"Oh…" she said quietly, "you were talking about dancing."
"Well, yes. What did you think I meant?" He said, a little confused.
She smiled, laughing a bit and squeezing his arm, "You have a hard time reading between the lines sometimes, don't you?"
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing!" She replied with a bright smile, "Just as long as you dance with me again sometime!"
"It's a promise!" Crono replied with a grin.
"Claire!" Crono and Claire spun on their heels to see that same group of giggling girls. They laughed amongst themselves as Claire quickly pushed herself away from Crono, blushing furiously. "So what are you two doing?" asked one of the girls coyly. Crono laughed as he replied, "No, we were just dancing." Claire nodded in agreement, her face still as red as a cherry. The girls saw Claire mouth to them with a smile, "I will kill you guys!" while Crono wasn't looking. Suddenly a look of fear came over his face, "Wait a second! What time is it?"
Claire looked at her watch, "It is about…Oh no! It's 11:00 right now!"
"I have to get going! It was fun hanging out with you Claire!"
"Thank you Crono! I feel much better now!"
He dashed his way towards the northern most part of the square, leaving Claire to admonish her friends and spill the details.