Chrono Trigger

a novelization of the popular video game

by John Martino

Disclaimer: All characters, events, and locations are owned by SquareSoft Entertainment

"Time is short and it doesn't return again. It is

slipping away while I write this and while you

read it, and the monosyllable of the clock

is loss, loss, loss unless you devote your

heart to its opposition."

-Tennessee Williams

Note: The time scale in Chrono Trigger is slightly different from the one we are familiar with. Time periods are as follows:

65,000,000 B.C.: Prehistoric Period

12,000 B.C.: End of Ice Age / Period of Enlightenment

600 A.D.: Middle Ages

1000 A.D.: Modern Time

1999 A.D.: Futuristic Era and Apocalypse

2030 A.D.: Post-Apocalypse Era

I: Collision of Destinies


That sweet voice split the darkness like a crack of lightning. The dreamworld was shattered. Bells chimed in the distance.


Again it rang, this time not so loudly. He opened his eyes. The world around him materialized, the darkness began to fade. A bright beam of light shone in through the window.

"C'mon, get up honey!"

Crono could see his mother at the window, throwing the drapes apart. The brightness blinded him at first. In a few seconds his eyes readjusted. He could see the blue ocean outside his window, the bright blue sky, and the world. Gulls flew around the bay, and boats treaded across the water.

"Gosh, child! You must've been so excited about the Millennial Fair that you didn't get any sleep last night!"

More and more Crono became used to the room around him. He remembered last night, watching the clock tick down the last seconds of the year 999 A.D. There was great celebration when it turned over to 1000. The New Millennium was finally here. Today there was to be a great fair held in Leene Square, the center of the town.

He saw the cat on the floor, looking up at him with its yellowish eyes. It got up and stretched out. Crono's mother came over and gently stroked it. It purred with delight and rubbed up against her leg. "I'll be downstairs with breakfast, honey. You come down when you're ready."

Crono's mother walked downstairs, and for a few minutes he lay in bed. He stared up at the ceiling, thinking about the fair for a few moments. There would be food, games, merchants with all kinds of goods, people, and perhaps even some girls. He could just picture some young beautiful faces.

He got out of bed and stretched. His muscles ached. Next he put on his blue tunic and his brown pants. He opened his bottom drawer and searched through it and came upon his wooden katana. He picked it up and surveyed it. He held it firmly by the handle and sliced through the air with it. This katana was something he hid from his mother, for she didn't much like violence. He pulled out its sheath and put it in, then slipped it under his tunic.

Finally he looked into the mirror. He tied his orange bandana loosely around his neck. He admired his muscles, and fixed his red, punk-type hairdo. Crono's hair was probably the most noticeable thing about him. Most people would ask "Where's that kid with the punk haircut?"

The cat meowed, and Crono made his way downstairs. Welcoming smells of food being prepared drifted into his nostrils from the next room. He pulled back his chair and sat down. His mother came from the kitchen with some breakfast. He helped himself to some waffles, toast, and other goodies.

"Oh, Crono," said his mother, "your inventor friend, um... Lucca, yes that's it. She said that you should stop by her display at the fair today. She said she has some kind of new invention to see. She wants you to help test it out."

Crono nodded. Lucca was one of his friends he had known since childhood. She wore large glasses, had purple hair, and was on the short side. Lucca was a master of machinery. Ever since a tragic family accident, she had devoted her life to science and mechanics. She proudly displayed her latest creations at events such as today's fair. Unfortunately most of her inventions were a flop, but Crono stood by her side anyway.

Crono looked at his plate and realized he had finished his breakfast. "Wow dear, you sure devoured that!" said his mother. "Here's your allowance now." She handed him a bunch of coins. "Now have fun, and be home before dark!"

He stood up and walked out the door, waving goodbye to his mother.

The sun shined brightly. He put his hand up over his eyes to block the glare. Slowly he adjusted to it, and looked around. Several people were standing by a fountain in the middle of town chatting. What else was on their lips but the Millennial Fair. Crono shook his head and walked down the street. He could see the gates in the distance. Huge balloons hung in the sky, and the crowds were pouring into Leene's Square. He smiled and walked off, ready to enjoy the day.

Crono walked through the arch of Leene's Square and stood back in awe. People were everywhere. Stands containing all kinds of goods and foods were set up in every corner. Balloons and tents filled the area. Traders tried to strike bargains. Exotic animals were caged up. He took in the sights and the noise, looking at the crowd-goers.

Suddenly a vision of loveliness caught Crono's eye. She stood in the center of the crowd, looking around, seemingly confused. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She had blonde hair with a ponytail, and the perfect face of a goddess. She wore a loose flowing robe that seemed to grace her body.

Crono caught himself staring, and with his mouth wide open. He shook his head, then decided he had to talk to her.

"Move kid!"

He panicked for a second, then ducked and rolled, and hit the side of a booth just as he was about to be run over by a herd of what seemed to be knights, lizards and cats. After he cleared his head, he realized there was a sort of track set up around this part of the fair. Sprints and races were being run for gamblers' delight. He had been standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Hey kid, are you gonna bet or are you gonna stand there slack jawed?"

Crono looked up and saw a grizzly man working the booth he had just rolled into. Still confused, he ran away into the crowd, shoving people left and right. Most gave him angry glares or gestures, a few tried to trip him.

I've got to find that girl! Crono thought. He stood on his toes, looking across the crowd for the girl. But he couldn't seem to find her. He cursed his luck and tried to get out of the crowd. Wall to wall people prevented him from budging. They filled the area like packed livestock. Finding her would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Crono was then knocked on the ground by someone in a hurry. He looked up and saw the girl, parting the crowd like a knife. She was headed to the northern section of the park, towards Leene's Bell.

More determined than ever, Crono pushed his way through the crowd, knocking people on their backs and into stands. They responded with angry words and comments Most did not see who he was because of the large crowd. He looked for the steps that led to Leene's Bell. He finally caught them in his eye. A set of stone stairs led to an elevated terrace in the northern part of the square. Crono again parted the crowd and ascended the steps.

He reached the top of the staircase and looked around. It was a mirror of the situation below. More people were milling about, going from tent to tent.

In the center of the terrace was Leene's Bell, hung on a great stone arch. It was almost four hundred years old, and was seldom rung because of its structural weakness. It served as the center symbol of the town. Many legends and superstitions surrounded it. It was supposed to ring when a hero would start his journey, or when two people met who were destined to fall in love.

Crono looked around, but there was no sight of the girl. Blast it! he thought. The girl he had been dying to talk to had disappeared. He slowly began to walk, looking off to the side, into the stands that held all kinds of exotic goods. He would find other girls...


Crono suddenly saw the sky in full view. He flattened his palms against the ground and felt his back against the hard stone. He sat up and shook his head, clearing the blur away. He looked around, and saw the girl he had been pursuing. She slowly got up from the ground and brushed herself off. She was even more beautiful than he had remembered.

A strong wind gushed, and the massive Leene's Bell swung back and forth, clanging loudly.

"Hey, the Leene Bell just rang!" shouted a man in the crowd. The mob rushed over and looked at it, oblivious to the young lad and the girl who had been knocked down.

Crono sat there, dazed. Finally the girl spoke in a heavenly voice. "Where's my pendant?"

He once again snapped himself out of a trance. Pendant? He looked around, and saw a necklace several feet away from him. It was decorated with a red crystal attached to a strong. He got up at last, then walked over to it. He picked it up and walked back to the girl. He froze in his tracks, not knowing what to say. She turned and looked at him. Her eyes melted his heart and he was lost for a minute.

"Oh my pendant! It has lots of sentimental value! May I please have it back?" Crono's hand was already outstretched, holding the pendant in his hand. He motioned for her to take it, still unable to speak. She picked it up from his hand and slipped it around her neck.

"Thank you!" His mind then became a total blank. "I'm new around here. Would you mind showing me around?" He nodded wordlessly.

"Oh thank you! You are a true gentleman!" The girl blushed in embarrassment. She realized she had not told him her name. "Oh yes, by the way, I'm Marle."

Marle... the name rang out clearly in Crono's mind. Yet again he snapped himself out of a daze, and motioned for Marle to follow him. She nodded, and Crono headed off towards the stands.

II: Vanishing Act

There were all kinds of stands at the fair. Some sold exotic foods. Some sold odd animals. Some sold alcohol, liquor, and tobacco. Others were game tents, such as the bell game, a soda drinking contest, a fun house, and even a prehistoric dance.

"Ooh! How about that game?" Marle pointed to a large post. A man stood next to it wielding a massive hammer. The object of the game was to hit the stopper hard enough so it would force a metal ingot to hit the bell on top.

Crono led Marle over to it. "One coin a try kid," said the surly owner. Crono searched through his pockets and pulled out a coin. He placed it in the owner's hand and took the hammer. He picked it up over his shoulder. Concentrating with all his might he brought it down on the stopper.

The ingot soared and clanged into the bell. It rung out across the fairgrounds, and several bystanders applauded his feat. "You got lucky, kid," said the owner. He reached behind the post and pulled out a small stuffed animal. Crono gave it to Marle. "Oh thank you, you're so sweet!"

Next the two headed towards a table. A large, muscular man stood by it. "This is a soda guzzling contest, boy," said the man. "See how much soda you can gulp down in thirty seconds. Wanna try?" Crono nodded with a smile. He slapped a fistful of coins down onto the table.

"Your death wish kid." The man brought out a large metal keg and placed it on the table. "Drink it." He smiled and picked up the hose that connected to the keg. He threw his head back and opened his mouth, then thumbed the switch. Bubbly cola flowed like a fountain into his open jaws. He chugged it down quickly. About fifteen seconds went by. He eagerly guzzled the cola. Thirty seconds went by. "Okay kid, that's enough, you only paid for a quarter keg." Crono smiled, knowing he could have easily drank more.

His stomach lurched, and he let loose with a massive belch. He covered his mouth, remembering Marle was standing next to him. She smiled and said, "You're awfully competitive aren't you?"

He smiled and led her away from the table. "Now where?" she asked.

Crono looked around and saw a purple tent. Aside of it lay a collection of swords laid out. An old grey-haired man stood next to it. With an appreciation for fine weapons, he led her to the display.

The man looked up. He was somewhere in his mid-seventies, and wore a black coat with a red sash and a black hat that looked like it was from another era. "Buy something from Melchior, young lad?" he asked in a low voice. Crono nodded, and picked up a sharp sword at his left foot. He glanced at it inquiringly. "Ah, a fine choice lad. An iron blade, a good weapon for a youth like yourself. Only four hundred coins too. A superb bargain it is if I've ever seen one!"

Crono reached into his sack, and pulled out all of his coins of assorted sizes and colors. He placed them in the old man's hand. "Here's your change lad," said the sword smith. Crono refused, insisting he keep the change. "A noble boy you are."

Something caught the old man's eye. He looked at the girl's neck and saw her pendant. At once, he became excited. "Young lad, can you talk your lovely lady into selling her pendant?"

"No," said Marle sharply, giving Crono no chance to make a move.

The old man brought his hand up to his grey beard and scratched it. "On second thought, my dear, keep it. It may come in handy some day!"

Crono removed the wooden katana from its holster and placed it in the hands of the sword smith. He picked up the iron and placed it in his sheath. He nodded approvingly to thank the old man, then walked away.

The two of them walked back into the crowd, wandering aimlessly. So many of the tents looked appealing. It was hard to decide where to go next.

"Crono!" shouted a voice

He and the girl turned and saw someone running down from another terrace north of the Leene Bell area. She wore a metal helmet, large glasses, and had purple hair. Instantly Crono recognized his best friend Lucca.

"Crono, my invention is finished!" she panted. "Come see it, you'll love it!"

He looked at Marle inquiringly. "Sure, I'd love to see it!" she exclaimed.

"Great, follow me!" said Lucca.

They followed the purple haired girl up the steps to another platform. Crono looked around and saw several people standing around. They all had skeptical looks on their faces. He then turned and looked at two large metal platforms that stood next to each other. A red-haired muscular man stood fiddling with a control panel between the two platforms. This was Taban, Lucca's father.

He turned around and for the first time noticed the bystanders. He fixed his hair and wiped the grease off his shirt. "Gather around, ladies and gentlemen! Behold my daughter Lucca's greatest invention: the inter-dimensional transport warp!"

Lucca shook her head and patted him on the arm, then walked behind him to the control panel. She flicked a switch. "Show 'em how it works, Taban!"

Smiling, the man walked over to the platform on the left and gestured to it. "Just step in here," he said, then pointed to the platform on the right, "and you'll end up here! Who will be the first to try it?" He pointed towards Crono. "You sir, with the lovely lady! Will you brave the unknown?"

Lucca turned around and adjusted her glasses, looking at Marle. "Gee Crono, where'd ya pick up a cutie like her?" Crono gave her an angry glare. "Oh, sorry. Um, thanks for volunteering! Taban, take the right telepod!"

"Right!" said Taban.

Crono smiled and looked at Marle. "Go ahead it looks fun!"

He heard several of the bystanders murmuring. "Her inventions all flop!"

Crono frowned, and eagerly stepped into the left telepod and nodded to Taban. "Okay, here we go Lucca!"

"Ready!" she replied. She grabbed a lever and slid it upwards.

"Initializing ionization!" said Taban. The machine hummed and glowed.

Crono suddenly debated whether or not this was a good idea. He looked down at Lucca, who seemed to have a worried look on her face.

The boy felt a strange tingling in his body. Lucca's faced was replaced by a wall. He whirled around and saw Lucca on his right now. He was now standing on the right telepod, when an instant ago he stood on the left one. He had really been teleported! Lucca looked up at him and jumped into the air. "It works! It really works! Haha!"

Taban looked up at Crono and smiled. "My little girl is a genius!"

Crono stepped down off the telepod and walked over to Marle. "You're friend is quite intelligent!" she said. "Mind if I give it a whirl?"

He nodded and looked at Lucca. He wondered if she was jealous...

"Sure, why not?" said Lucca.

"Okay, ladies and gentlemen," said Taban. "Behold the vision of loveliness as she steps aboard the telepod!" He took her hand and led her to the left telepod, then turned to his control box. "Get set Lucca!"

"Right! I'm throwing the switch." Lucca moved the lever, then looked up at the girl.

Something stirred the air. Marle looked down at her chest. Her pendant began to shine. "My pendant... it's glowing!" Without warning, the control panel shot sparks. Lucca and Taban leapt back. Marle held her pendant and looked at it with a worried look.

There was a crack of thunder. A black mass appeared between the two telepods. It grew larger and larger. A strong suction came deep within.

The bystanders screamed and left the area.

"Help!" shouted Marle. She felt the suction from the black mass pulling her in. She gripped the telepod with all her might, but it was no use. The handles were torn right out of the metal. She was sucked up into the black portal. The girl disappeared from sight, and the vortex vanished.

Crono, Lucca, and Taban stood there stunned. "Lucca... what just happened?" asked Taban. "Where did she go?"

Lucca stood up and looked at the space where the black portal had just appeared. "It had something to do with that pendant." She ran through all her knowledge of scientific properties. Something provoked her. She kept seeing Marle's face over and over in her mind. "I know I've seen her somewhere before..." She trailed off. Taban stood there, still puzzled.

As the only one who seemed capable of moving, Crono headed to the telepod that Marle had just vanished from. There sat her pendant. He picked it up and looked at it, then looked at the space where the portal had appeared. He realized what he had to do.

He whistled to Lucca. She looked at him for a moment, then her jaw dropped. Taban said it first. "You're actually going to go through with this? What a fine boy!"

"Okay Crono," said Lucca, "just hang on to the pendant till I crack open the portal. I don't know where this machine will send you." She turned to Taban. "Okay, get set!"

Lucca threw the switch and raised the lever. Crono looked at the pendant, which was already glowing intensely. He clenched it in his fist and closed his eyes.

"Full power!" yelled Taban.

Crono heard the sparks fly and smelled the whiff of ozone. He heard Taban yell and jump back. A whooshing sound swirled around him. He felt it difficult to stand. "Good luck Crono! I'll follow you as soon as I figure out what went wrong!"

With that, Crono lost his footing and felt himself pulled into the portal.

III: The Queen is Gone

The Doronado mountains stood tall and proud behind the Truce Village. Their majestic snow-capped peaks graced the land abroad. Beautiful foliage covered its sides. Hints of the Fall air swam through the town.

Two lone knights traversed the mountainside. Both were clad in armor, and carried large broadswords. They walked along a tired path that circled through the extensive landscape. One looked to the other, wearily. "Let's call it a day, Julius," said one to the other.

His comrade turned to him, and gave him a tired look. "Yes, it has been a long day my friend," said the knight. "Let's start to head down the mountain."

"Right." He nodded, and together they followed the trail down the mountainside. They admired the beautiful leaves turning colors, and how the mountain seemed to come alive.

They came to a clearing. The sun shone through the group of trees, casting heavenly beams of light on the ground.

In the center of the clearing was a lifeless figure. She wore a blue garment and had a beautiful face. She had blonde hair tied into a ponytail, and she seemed to be unconscious. "Julius!" exclaimed one of the knights. "Look at yonder damsel!"

"My heavens!" chimed the other. "We have found the queen at last!"

The transport through the portal was instantaneous. For Crono it seemed to have no measurable time. He could not recall what happened when he was sucked through. He did however, emerge awake on the other side.

Crono was thrown violently onto the ground. For a second he blacked out. He then heard a brook running. He raised his head and slowly opened his eyes. He was met with a blur of colors. Reds, yellows, and oranges stimulated his mind. He opened his eyelids farther.

Instead of the Millennial Fair and Lucca's invention, Crono found himself looking at the thick of the woods. What had just happened?

He stood up and brushed himself off. He looked around. The sun seemed to be halfway through the sky. Trees surrounded him on all sides. The woods were alive with noises. Birds, running water, and the rustling of leaves filled his ears.

Crono looked at the ground and saw Marle's pendant. It did not shine like it had before. It had lost its brilliance, and was as dull as when he had first picked it up after his collision at the Leene Bell. He held it in his hand, surveying it. The pendant, for some reason, had reacted mysteriously with the teleport machine.

He put it in his pocket and looked around. He spotted a path that led down the mountain, so he gathered his gear and slowly started for it.

Crono felt a sharp blow to the back of his neck. He whirled around and saw something running through the branches in the trees. He looked at the ground and saw he had been hit with a rock.

He immediately withdrew his iron blade he had bought from the old man. More leaves rustled. He heard another noise and looked in the other direction.

There stood one of the most peculiar creatures he had ever seen. It stood three feet high, and wore shredded clothing. It was covered with green scales from head to toe and had sharp claws. It curled its lips and revealed a row of fangs looking for blood.

Crono shook, waiting for the creature to make its first move. He suddenly heard a grunt behind him, and he whirled around, swinging his sword as hard as he could. When he regained his vision after his adrenaline rush, he saw that he had neatly cut a gash in the creature that was sneaking up on him from behind. It was now on the forest floor, panting its last few breaths.

While he was facing the slain monster, the other creature jumped onto Crono's back. He spun around so the creature's claws could only dig into his shirt. He ran in circles, trying to free himself from the demon that latched onto him.

Finally, with no resort left, he did a complete flip. The creature lost its grip and fell to its back on the forest floor. Crono raised his sword and drove it down into the monster who had tried to attack him.

The creature gurgled and collapsed. Crono withdrew his blade and returned it to his sheath.

He never thought he could accomplish what he just did. He had single-handedly repelled two attackers.

He looked around, and suddenly remembered Marle. What if there were more of these things out there? What if they had gotten to her?

He decided that he could not let that happen. A deep anger grew within him.

Crono withdrew his sword again. He would protect Marle at all costs. He started down the mountain, ready to beat off more of the scaly green creatures if they came to get him.

Miles away from the Doronado Mountains, deep underground, under a secret fortress was a dark room. A lone man stood in the center of it. He had light blue hair down to his shoulders and wore a cape. A glow seemed to hover around him, illuminating a small portion of the room.

A raspy voice broke the quiet. "Lord Magus..."

The illumination disappeared. The man did not need to turn around to face the intruder and identify him. "Yes, Ozzie?" asked Magus, the man with the blue hair.

The intruder was green and scaly. He wore loose, flowing robes that stretched down to the floor. His eyes were green, and his fangs were sharp. He was very portly, and he seemed to hover over the ground. "Sir, rumors are circulating that the queen has been found..." said Ozzie.

A blue light flashed towards the ceiling, enveloping Magus. It quickly disappeared, returning the darkness. "Impossible," said Magus. "We have the queen in the basement of the chapel!"

Ozzie shuddered. "Um, yes sir, but the reports indicate that the queen is alive and well at the castle..."

The flame once again fired up. Ozzie floated back a bit in fear. "They are mere rumors Ozzie. They have been started to confuse us. Ignore them. But just to be safe, do redouble the security at the chapel."

"Y-yes sir!" Ozzie floated out of the room and up the steps.

Magus revived his glow. He felt a bit of a chill. "The black wind begins to blow..."

The path was not as long as Crono had thought. It was only several minutes before he came to the end of the trail, and ultimately the end of the mountain. He surveyed his surroundings. He could see the familiar surroundings of the Truce Village, but he noticed that there was no Leene's Square.

He stood there and scratched his head for a moment. If he had just come off of the Doronado Mountains, he should now be in Leene's Square. The only familiar landmarks he saw now were the buildings of the town and Guardia Castle off in the distance.

He took a closer look at the houses. They seemed to be archaic compared to the Truce Village he was familiar with. The leaves were not supposed to be multicolored yet either. Just minutes ago, before he had leapt into the portal, the leaves were green...

Suddenly it hit him. Crono had not been transported to another place.

He had been transported through time.

Slowly he took a step back. Leene's Square had not been constructed yet. The houses in Truce Village were not as elaborate as they originally were.

He slapped himself hard. He shook the pain off and realized he was not dreaming. He had really gone back to the past.

To top it off, an iron-clad knight walked to the fountain in the center of town. Crono walked towards it, adjusting his sword so the knight would not react to it in the wrong way. Several other villagers had gathered around the fountain to see the armored warrior.

Their quiet murmur disappeared as the knight raised his hand high in the air. "Loyal subjects of the Kingdom of Guardia," said the iron-clad man, "your queen has been found!" The crowd cheered unanimously. Crono kept silent. He had no idea what the knight was talking about.

"Let it be known that on today, October 12th, 600 A.D., that Queen Leene of the Guardia dynasty has been found! We shall live in darkness no more!" The crowd cheered once again.

So he had been transported back in time by the portal. This was the year 600. Crono tried to remember what had been going on at the time. Something about a war with a magician, a wizard of some sort...

"I am also happy to report that we are rebuilding the bridge to the Southern Continent. That means we will be getting closer to Magus very soon!"

The knight provided the name he was looking for. Magus the warlock, who was rumored to have great power in dark magic. He had an army of minions that had spread across the world in an attempt to overthrow the Guardia dynasty.

Now that he knew where he was, and what was going on, Crono decided to get looking for Marle. But where to start? She was not on the mountain or in the clearing by the portal. She was not in town, or else she would have shown up for this little speech.

Crono decided to go westward, towards Guardia castle. Perhaps they could help him find Marle.

It was late afternoon by the time he had got through the forest to the massive Guardia Castle. It stood tall, the central symbol of the land. Its many spires stretched for the sky; its central tower dominated the others.

Crono ascended the steps to the front door. Its massive frame stretched a good twenty feet over his head. Its heavy wooden doors were as equally high. They must have been thick and good at repelling attacks. He took the massive door knocker and gave it three good bangs.

A small slide in the door cracked open. Two eyes peered out. Crono bent down to look at them, but the slide closed. He cursed his luck and kicked the ground. Why would Guardia castle open up for a kid anyway?

He turned his back to the door and looked across the land. In the distance he could see the Southern Continent. In the East he saw Truce Village and the Doronado Mountains.

Crono heard a loud groaning behind him. He turned around and saw that the massive castle door had swung open. A knight stood in the doorway. He motioned inside and said, "The queen awaits you."

The queen awaits me? Crono inquired of himself. He walked inside the door and took a step back when he saw the castle's immensity.

It was like a cavern. The roof was almost thirty feet above his head. A grand hallway stretched as far as the eye could see to the right, as well as to the left. In front of him was a grand staircase. At the top were another set of heavy wooden doors. "The queen awaits in her chamber, sir," said the knight. "The king would like to have a word with you first, however."

Crono nodded and climbed the steps. The doors at the top of the steps opened, and a small man dressed in red walked out. He wore a large hat and expensive-looking clothes. He carried a scepter in his left hand. He looked at the knight guarding the door. "Soldier!" said the short man.

"Yes Chancellor?" asked the knight.

"Tell the king I must go to the chapel," said the Chancellor. "I feel I must do some... praying." He gave Crono a dirty look and continued down the steps.

The knight nodded and opened the front door of the castle. The Chancellor hobbled out, and the knight shut the door. Crono shook his head and went up the stairs and into the throne room. He stepped inside the room and took yet another step back in awe.

The throne room of Guardia castle was even more elaborate than its exterior. Beautiful tapestries graced its walls, and stained glass windows depicted the ancestors of King Guardia. Two thrones were at the end of a red carpet. One was empty, the other was occupied by the king.

"Come in, boy," said the king.

Crono shook. He walked down the red carpet, glancing from left to right at the beautiful decorations gracing the throne room. Finally he got to the other side of the room. He knelt down on the steps before the throne.

"Queen Leene tells me that your name is Crono. Is this correct?"

He nodded.

"I see. She seems to be acting very odd lately. I noticed she hasn't been wearing her Guardia crest, which is something she treasures deeply. She says that she has been waiting for you, and would like to speak with you."

Crono was still baffled. Why would a queen of 600 A.D. want to talk to a common boy of 1000 A.D.? How did she know he was here?

"She is in the upper tower. Please go and speak with her and let me know what has been troubling her."

He nodded and stood up. A knight came to his side and pointed to a stairway in the back of the throne room. Crono nodded to the king and walked over to the steps.

When he reached the top, he looked out the window. He saw for miles and miles across the land. The sun set in the distance over the ocean, casting a beautiful orange glow across the waves.


Crono spun around. A woman stood in front of him with her arms impatiently crossed. He fixed his hair and straightened his gear. "The queen awaits you, sir," said the maid.

He nodded and followed her down the hall. She stood in front of two large wooden doors. Crono stood there, and the maid pushed the door open and motioned for him to walk in.

Inside the queen's bedroom were several beautiful tapestries. Most depicted past queens of the Guardia family. On his right was a dresser set filled with all kinds of exotic perfumes. In the back of the room was a lavish bed with a curtain draped around the edges.

Crono's eyes eventually came upon a beautiful figure with her back to the door. The woman was dressed in a big white gown, and had her blonde hair done up beautifully. She stared out the window intently. The maid spoke first. "Your highness, the boy you requested has arrived," she said.

"Thank you, handmaiden," said the queen. The voice was very familiar. "Please leave us."

The maid nodded and gave Crono one last weird look. She turned and went out the door, closing it behind her.

"Come here sir," said the queen. The boy stepped forward, trembling. "Closer." He walked across the room and began to kneel down. "Don't kneel, Crono." He did as she said, and yet again he was baffled. How did the queen know who he was?

She let out a slight giggle and turned around.

The boy's jaw dropped as he stared into the eyes of Marle, the girl who had vanished into the portal.

"I knew you would come for me Crono," said Marle. "After the portal threw me into the mountains, the knights picked me up. Everyone here keeps calling me Leene and treating me like royalty." She turned and looked deep into his eyes. "You are a very honorable young boy. We barely know each other, but I could feel that you would do anything to help out a friend."

The boy smiled. Now to get out of here. He turned and motioned towards the door. Marle shook her head. "Now Crono, you came all this way to get me. I think you deserve a reward!" She closed her eyes and leaned forward.

Crono smiled and closed his eyes, anxious to kiss this beautiful woman he had literally chased through time. He bent forward, ready to feel her warm soft lips...

But he did not. He opened his eyes.

Marle was not there.

He looked around and saw no trace of her. He threw open the bed curtains, but she was not there either. She was not in the closet.

Where had she gone? He was just about to...

He shook his head. All this had to be a dream. Girls just do not just vanish like that!

With yet a million questions to answer, he walked to the door and swung it open. He peeked his head out into the hallway and saw no one. With the coast clear, he tip-toed down the corridor to the stairs.

Crono made it to the bottom a bit weary. It was dark out, and he would have to find a place to sleep in the village. No one was in the throne room, so he found it easy to sneak by. Once he was out of the king's chamber, he snuck out the front door to the castle steps.

The night air was crisp, and many stars lined the sky. The moon was full, and shone brightly. The boy heard a sound. Footsteps... He looked down the steps in front of him, and saw a figure climbing them.

"Crono!" called another familiar voice.

The boy ran down the steps to meet Lucca. She stood there panting. "Crono, I cracked open the portal and went through town. Some one said they saw you heading in this direction, looking for Marle. Did you find her?" Crono nodded. "Well where is she?" He shrugged his shoulders. "You don't know?" He shrugged again. "Hmm... just as I thought."

The boy raised a questioning eyebrow.

"You see Crono, Marle's real name is actually Princess Nadia." The boy took a step back in surprise. "She is the daughter of King Guardia of our time, and a decedent of Queen Leene. The Queen Leene of this time was recently kidnaped. Knights have been out and about searching around the clock for her. They probably ran into 'Marle' in the Doronado Mountains when she was unconscious. Marle and Leene look so similar that they brought her back here, thinking that they had found Leene. Instead they had found Marle. When she was safe and secure here, the knights called off their search. As I recall, someone was supposed to save the real Queen Leene. Since they called off the search, the real queen will eventually be killed. Leene will have no children, and the Guardia line of succession will effect our time. Marle will cease to exist!" Crono gave Lucca a funny face. "But apparently she has already ceased to exist." The boy now realized why she had vanished. Right when he had tried to kiss her, too... "You know what we have to do now don't you?"

The boy shook his head, trying to get off the thought of kissing Marle.

"Ugh! We have to rescue the real Queen Leene so Marle will exist in our time. We have to change the past!"

Crono nodded and adjusted his sword. "Let's go!" said Lucca.

The two descended the steps and headed off into the darkness.

Several miles from Guardia Castle was a chapel. It was set in the middle of the woods, far away from the towns and villages. Perhaps the perfect hiding place for Queen Leene.

Lucca and Crono walked up to the front door. They found it was not locked so they creaked it open. The inside of the chapel was made of wood, and was dimly lit. A row of pews were on either side of the center aisle. There was an altar in the front, with a white cloth draped over it. Stained glass windows graced the back of the chapel. Off to the left was a pipe organ.

Two old nuns sat in the pews, rosary beads in hand, slowly murmuring prayers to themselves. Huh. Guess nuns really don't have lives, thought Lucca, especially these two. Praying in the middle of the night.

Crono slowly walked up to her side. He glanced around, looking at some of the statues on the walls. There were also some beautiful tapestries and paintings.

"Come here, Crono," said Lucca. The boy turned from the wall and looked at Lucca. She was kneeling in front of the altar, looking at something on the ground. She reached down and picked it up, then held it in the dim light.

The young lad walked forward to the altar and looked at what she had in her hand. It was a small pin, with a crest on it. It was made of silver, and had the word Guardia on it. "This is Guardia's Royal Crest!" said Lucca. "Leene must be here somewhere!" The sound echoed off the chapel roof.

Something stirred in the pews. The two turned and saw the old nuns getting up from kneeling. They put their rosaries in their pocket and started to walk towards the altar. Both of them had a twisted smile on their faces.

"Hey, what's going on?" asked Lucca.

"You should be home little girl," said one nun.

"You should be home in bed and not causing trouble!" said the other.

Both of the twisted old nuns burst into a brilliant red flame. Lucca screamed and Crono pulled his sword out of his sheath.

When the flames died down, instead of two old nuns there were two horrible beasts in front of them. Instead of legs they had snakes' tails. Their skinny arms were tipped with razor-sharp claws. They had yellowish skin. Their teeth were long and sharp, and they had long, purplish, scraggly hair down to their shoulders.

"Crono!" yelled Lucca.

The creature on the left let out a hideous scream. It slashed viciously for Crono's throat. He held back the creature's claws with his iron blade, trying to push it back. The other creature tried to come up behind the boy. It raised its claws, ready to rip into his back.

It let out a scream of pain. Crono took his eyes off the creature he was defending himself for a split second. Lucca had drove her heavy hammer into the tail of the other creature and had it pinned to the floor.

The first creature was momentarily distracted. Crono pulled his blade out of its claws and drove it deep into the gut of the monster. It screeched in pain. He yanked his sword out and watched as it collapsed to the ground.

The other monster was furiously trying to scratch at Lucca, who still had it pinned down. Crono took his sword and slashed viciously at the monster's side. It went down screaming, and collapsed on the floor next to its companion.

Lucca surveyed the two monsters they had just slain. She looked at Crono and said, "Well, maybe not all nuns are boring."

Before Crono could say something he heard another ear-piercing screech. He turned around and saw another one of the scraggly-haired monsters ready to dig its claws deep into Lucca. She stood there and screamed, ready to meet her maker.

There was a loud crunch, and the creature's face became distorted. Its eyes rolled back in its head, and it collapsed at the girl's feet. "Wha...?" said Lucca.

She looked down at the corpse and saw a half-man, half-frog with a sword deep in the monster's back. It had small whiskers protruding from his mouth, and had green skin. It stood a little over four feet tall and was dressed in a cape, grey pants, and bronze armor. It looked up with its bulbous eyes, and gave a low croak. "Lower thine guard and thou art allowing thy enemy in," said the frog in a raspy voice.

"Eek!" screeched the girl.

The frog man removed his blade from the monster's back and put it back in its sheath. "I hope my guise does not discourage trust," he said. He looked at Lucca's face again, sensing her fear. "Well then, I shall retrieve the queen on my own!"

The frog turned and headed down the aisle, croaking to himself. "Wait," said Lucca. The frog halted and turned around. "You're not such a bad frog- I mean, um... guy." She hated being afraid of frogs and slimy animals, but this man was obviously trying to help them, and he had to be human under that skin somewhere.

The frog croaked and cracked a smile. "My most humble thanks to you, lass," he said, kneeling before her.

She turned to the boy and said, "Crono, this guy may be a little weird, but he might be able to help us find the queen. I say we go with him!" Crono nodded. She turned to the frog. "Okay, we'll help you find the queen. What's your name, by the way?"

The frog looked up at the ceiling in thought. "Frog will do," he said.

Lucca nodded. "Well, there must be a secret passage around here," she said.

"Let us search our environs," said Frog. The three spread out around the chapel, pushing along the walls, searching for a crack that might conceal a hidden door or such. They could find nothing though.

Crono felt along the floor in the back of the chapel. He pressed against the stained glass windows, looking through them for some kind of other room.

Suddenly he tripped and fell onto the organ. It let out a calamity of unpleasant noise. Crono sat up and looked at a loose floorboard which had messed up his footing. He mentally cursed his luck and got off the organ.

"Crono you brilliant fool!" exclaimed Lucca. He looked at her with a curious glance. She pointed to the wall in the right of the chapel which had lowered. Behind the wall was a secret staircase.

Frog looked at the boy. "Good work, lad," he said. He drew out his sword and headed down the steps.

"Coming Crono?" asked Lucca. The boy shook his head and followed her.

The spiral staircase led the trio down into the depths of the chapel. There was minimal lighting on the bottom floor. Several candles cast sparse illumination in the hallway. A few creatures roamed back and forth. Crono recognized several of the scaly-green gnome men who had attacked him on the mountain. Two or three of the half-snake half-woman monsters passed the trio also.

They also saw several new monsters. There were large fat ones who wore tight helmets that restricted their vision. They had stubby little legs and couldn't move fast. Another kind were several snakes the size of dogs. They stood upright and slithered down the hall, with massive fangs that could put holes in concrete.

For some reason none of the monsters reacted to the three warriors. They just passed by as if everything was normal. They acted as if Crono, Frog, and Lucca were one of them.

The three of them came to a door blocked off by spikes that stretched to the ceiling. Frog looked at them. "This metal is strong," he said. "Nary a sword would cut through them."

"There issss a switch over there," said a voice.

Frog turned around and saw one of the snake creatures standing behind him. He reached for his sword. "Nice costumessss," said the snake.

"Costumes?" said Lucca. Frog relaxed the grip on his sword.

"Yesss," said the snake. "You don't have to wear them here you know. We're all the same." The snake slithered off down the hallway.

"They must think that we're monsters in disguise!" said Lucca.

"Aye," said Frog. "Let us see what lies beyond these spikes." He walked over to the wall and looked for the switch. There was nothing but a candle holder protruding from the wall. "I see nothing."

Lucca shook her head and grasped firmly onto the candle holder. She yanked it down.

The spikes slowly buried themselves in the floor, leaving the door free. "Ah," said Frog. "Today is truly a day for secret switches, right Crono?"

Crono shook his head and opened the door. The other two joined him and walked in, and Frog shut the door behind them. The room was made of stone and had a wooden altar in the middle. There was very little in the way of decorations.

"W-who goes there?" called a shaky voice.

Frog and Crono withdrew their swords. Lucca pulled out her hammer. " Who is there?" asked the girl.

An helmeted, human head popped up from behind the altar. The man stood up all the way. He wore heavy armor, but had no weapons. He studied the trio intently and shook his head. "You guys look too weird to be monsters in disguise," said the man.

Lucca frowned and Frog growled. "What are you doing here?" asked the girl.

"I'm one of the queen's knights. Yakra, the... thing that captured the queen and imprisoned me here," said the man. "He's one of Magus's minions. They took my weapons and threw me in here. Yakra is somewhere in the back of this underground place, and he has the queen with him. You must save her!"

"Yakra..." said Frog. "I faintly recall such a fiend."

"There is something else," said the knight. "Somewhere in this chapel is a shrine dedicated to Magus. There are many weapons and items in there. I suggest you find this secret room."

Lucca looked at Crono. "Hey, we need some better weapons if we're gonna take on this Yakra thing," she said. "Let's find this place!"

The knight looked at both of them. "Good," he said, "cause I'm out of here!" He ran right out the door and down the hallway like a madman, heading towards the spiral staircase that led to the chapel.

"There is no real loyalty to Guardia anymore," said Frog, shaking his head at the knight who had deserted them.

"Let's get out of here," said Lucca.

The three warriors walked back into the hallway. No monsters currently roamed it, so the coast was clear. They walked down the hallway until they came to a four-way crossing. "Which way?" asked Lucca.

"I declare we turn right," said Frog.

"What they hey," said the girl. She removed her hammer from her gear backpack and led the way down the new hallway. Crono followed, and Frog brought up the rear.

They walked thirty feet down the corridor before they came to an ornately decorated door. It had on it the carvings of a man dressed in a cape with long hair. "Here we will find the shrine our knight friend spoke of," said Frog. He croaked and slowly pushed open the door.

What they saw inside was the most peculiar thing any of them had ever seen. Five rows of monsters knelt, chanting and growling. A statue of the man carved on the door stood at the end of the room. It was made out of stone, and seemed to be carrying a scythe.

All of the monsters Crono and Lucca had seen were there. The little green men, the snake women, the huge serpents, the monsters with tight helmets and stubby legs, and a new kind that looked like a gargoyle, all growling and chanting in unison to the statue.

"Maaaaaaaaguuuuuussssss..." they rang.

Crono drew his sword and tip-toed in. Frog followed, and Lucca pressed herself up against the rear wall. The boy eyed the group of strange demons, calling out to the inanimate statue that stood proudly.

"Where are the weapons?" inquired the Frog.

"Right there!" whispered Lucca. She pointed to the base of the statue where a pile of swords, maces, scythes, and other goodies lay, waiting for some one to pick them up and use them. Crono's mouth watered. He wanted so badly to pick up one of the steel sabers and rip into these monsters.

"I have an idea," said Frog. He withdrew his sword and narrowed his eyes. He plucked the shield from his back and held it forward. "Stand back until I come out of the fray!"

Frog croaked and held his sword up high. The monsters all turned and looked at him with puzzled looks. The fat ones got up first and roared. Frog ran right into the middle of the group of them, slashing violently.

The monsters all turned and tried to get into the middle of the pack for a piece of the amphibian. A snake leapt high into the air and jumped into the center, fangs wide open.

It caught the back of one of the snake women and bit down hard. The woman screamed and violently slashed at the snake that was biting deep into her back. In her attempt to strike the snake, she instead clawed the face of a gargoyle and drew red streaks of blood. The gargoyle became enraged and tried to kick the woman with its clawed toes, but ended up kicking one of the fat monsters. The other monster reacted swiftly and tried to punch the gargoyle, but ended up punching another monster.

The monsters all started to fight each other instead of attacking Frog. While they were all over each other, the amphibian slid out from under the pile of unruly beasts.

Lucca stood there with her jaw open. "How did you do that?" she asked, still stunned.

"Easy, m'lady," said Frog. "Magus's troops are easily confused. Many a time I have turned them upon each other to get out of a sticky situation."

Crono pointed to the pile of weapons at the statue's foot. Lucca noticed him. "Oh that's right! Let's get them!"

The three scrambled off to the mountain of swords. Crono eagerly threw them apart, looking for a steel blade. He pulled one out and discarded his iron sword. He put the steel one in his sheath and looked at Frog.

"I do not desire a weapon, my dear lad," said Frog. "My trusty bronze sword will suffice."

"Hey guys look what I found!" Lucca pulled a red rod out of the pile. She held it up and surveyed it. It had several bands of gold on it, as well as a red ruby at one end. She held it across her chest and laughed. "I'm Queen Lucca!" The girl looked back at the gaggle of monsters fighting each other.

"Haha! Look at those fools tearing into each other!" She pointed at them with the rod.

A ball of red flame erupted from the crystal. It burned through the air and struck the back of a gargoyle. The monster turned and roared at the trio.

"Foolish lass! Tis a fire rod you have found!" said Frog.

The gargoyle charged at her, and at last the rest of the monsters decided to stop beating each other and turn on the trio. "Cease standing there and burn the beasts!" said Frog.

Lucca snapped out of her nervousness and aimed the rod forward. Another ball of flame shot forth and singed the gargoyle. It fell to the floor screaming.

"More lass!" said Frog.

She eagerly fired more fireballs, but did not hit any of the monsters. She hit the tapestries and drapes and curtains, which burst into fire like a flammable fluid.

Frog shook his head and pulled out his sword. He looked at the boy. "Crono, take thy sword and strike down the demon with the helmet!"

Crono nodded and pulled the steel sword from his sheath. He raised it high and charged. Frog raised his sword and charged towards the last remaining fat monster.

The two of them struck the creature at the same time. They ran past it and turned around. The monster lay in a pool of blood, surrounded by fire. Frog spotted Lucca, who was still standing at the base of the statue launching fireballs from the rod.

"Come on lass!" called Frog. Lucca turned and looked at him, then put her rod away and ran away from the fire and oncoming monsters. She joined up with the trio, and together they ran from the room back into the hallway.

Crono slammed the door shut, sealing the beasts inside their fiery grave. "Twas a close one," said Frog. He turned and looked up the hallway. The other end was marked with a large double-door.

"That is where we will find the queen!"

Lucca tucked her fire rod in her backpack and led the way down the hall. Crono followed, and Frog put his sword away.

Suddenly the door that they had just sealed burst open. A snake woman who's hair was on fire ran out, screaming like there was no tomorrow. A burning snake and gargoyle also jumped out of the room. Their eyes blazed with rage as they charged up after the three warriors.

The girl turned around and saw the gang of angry monsters. "Run!" she yelled.

Frog and the boy wasted no time in listening to her orders. They sprinted up the hallway towards the other door. Crono banged on it, but it didn't seem to budge. He turned and looked at the angry monsters coming down the hallway.

"Stand back Crono!" yelled Lucca. Frog and the boy backed up against the wall. Lucca stood in the middle of the hallway and pulled out the fire rod. She aimed it at the door, and a ball of fire erupted from the crystal at the end. The door caught on fire, and Lucca put the fire rod away again. Frog and Crono pulled out their swords and violently hacked away at it.

It fell apart, and Lucca turned around as Frog and the boy ran inside the new room. She aimed to fire rod at the monsters and concentrated. A huge beam of flame shot out and engulfed the demons. She heard their agonized screams as they were burned to death.

The girl joined the others and ran inside the room. Crono and Frog stood there, waiting for her.

"Now Leene, you will perish!" said a voice.

The trio looked at the end of the room. A short man stood behind an altar grasping the true Queen Leene's arm. He held a rod similar to Lucca's in his hand and aimed it at her forehead. "Noooo!" screamed Leene.

Frog narrowed his eyes. "Tis the Chancellor that has captured Leene!"

Indeed it was the Chancellor that held Leene in his grasp. He turned and faced the warriors that had just broken through the door. He was distracted enough that Leene kicked him in the stomach and swiped the rod from his hand. "Uff," said the Chancellor as he fell to the ground. Leene ran away from the short man and to Frog's side.

"Oh Frog, you have come to my aid! Thank you!"

Frog withdrew his sword. "Stand back, m'lady, and allow us the pleasure of vanquishing this traitor!"

She nodded and ran out the door and down the hallway towards the spiral staircase. Crono looked at the Chancellor who had jumped from behind the altar and was now walking towards them.

"Ah, Frog," said the Chancellor, "we meet again. I have not forgotten what you did to me upon our last meeting!"

A confused look crossed Frog's face. "Who art thou?"

The Chancellor laughed, threw his hands into the air, and burst into flame. Lucca shrieked and covered her face. Crono withdrew his sword and held it ready.

The flame died down, and a huge bug like creature stood where the Chancellor was. It had large horns near its tiny eyes and mouth, and was about four feet long and four feet tall. Three large tubes stood on its back.

"Yakra!" exclaimed Frog.

"That's right!" said the beast. "Now you will perish!"

It charged forward with amazing speed and tackled Frog. The amphibian flew back a good ten feet and laid on the ground, gasping for air. It turned and smiled at Lucca, then charged and knocked her back.

Crono yelled and slashed violently at the monster which had just tackled his best friends. Unfortunately the steel saber could not penetrate the tough shell of the beast. It laughed and tackled the boy.

He flipped head over heels but landed on his feet. Lucca slowly got up, and Frog stood ready to attack. "Mwahahaha!" said the beast. "My tough shell is impenetrable! I shall finish you off quickly!"

With that the monster curled its back. The tube-light projections on his back contracted, and something spat out of them.

Frog looked up and saw a rain of needles pouring down towards him. He rolled to the side and knelt down. One of the needles fell to the floor and stuck right through his cape. He was pinned down and couldn't move.

"Crono!" yelled Lucca. "Set Frog free! I'll try and distract the monster!"

Crono nodded and jumped over the beast. It roared and charged at him, bearing down like a freight train.

"Look out lad!" yelled Frog. The boy turned and was paralyzed with fright as the enormous bug charged towards him.

The beast mysteriously stopped in its tracks. The boy looked at it questioningly. Then he saw a burst of flame hit it in the back. Lucca stood on the other side of the room, waving her fire rod rapidly to hit the monster with burst of flame.

"Hurry boy!" called Frog. Crono turned and pulled the needle out of his cape, freeing the Frog. He looked at the boy and said, "I have a plan, but we must go to Lucca. Hurry!"

The two warriors ran around Yakra, holding their swords in check. They struck at the beast, but it just couldn't penetrate his tough shell. They gave up and ran to Lucca's side.

"I've got him in his tracks, but I can't hold him off forever!" said the girl. "Now what?"

The beast roared angrily as it held off wave after wave of flame from the fire rod. Frog turned to Lucca and said, "Lass, take thy rod and heat the boy's sword until it become hot as the blazes of hell! Crono, stab the monster in his underbelly then! It is his weakest part. I shall keep him distracted!"

The Frog turned with his sword in hand and motioned for Lucca to stop the volley of fire. She held her rod back and watched as Frog charged forward to meet Yakra face to face. "Now, beast, we will finish what we have begun!"

"Haha!" it roared. "I will have myself frogs' legs for dinner!"

Frog leapt into the air. A blast of needles shot out of the tubes on Yakra's back. They stuck to the ceiling. The amphibian dodged them and landed on the beast's back. He grabbed a hold of the tubes and held on tight.

He took his sword and banged on the beast's hard shell. It roared in pain as its eardrums were split with the loud noise. It swatted with its tiny claws, but to no avail. Frog looked up. "Now lass! Temper the sword and strike him down!"

"Right! Crono, hold out your sword!" The boy nodded and stuck his saber out. The girl stood back and pulled out the fire rod and aimed it at the blade. She waved it rapidly. Bursts of flame shot out. The sword grew redder and redder with the heat. Crono had trouble holding it.

Yakra roared one more time and stood up on its hind claws. Frog lost his balance and fell of its back. The beast turned around to face the amphibian. "It's time you jumped off this mortal coil, Froggy!"

Frog ran under its legs to meet his friends. The beast turned around and saw Crono holding the glowing sword. The boy roared and charged towards the beast. He raised his sword and jumped into the air, then plunged it deep into the chest of Yakra.

The beast screamed and toppled onto its back. The heated sword caused the blood inside it to boil, and its heart virtually melted. Its overheated nerves caused its brain to explode, and the beast collapsed onto the floor, thrashing a few times before it was finally dead.

"A fire sword attack," said Lucca. "Good idea, Frog!"

Frog smiled. "Only a heated sword would cut through the thick flesh of the demon," he said. He turned to Crono. "You have done well my lad. Your bravery is commendable."

Queen Leene rushed back into the room. She looked at the dead body of Yakra and twisted her face. She looked at the three warriors, standing with their weapons in hand, who were tired and ready to collapse.

She walked over to them. "You have served the throne of Guardia well, my people," said Leene.

Frog knelt in front of her. "My majesty, it was my honor to slay this horrible beast that threatened our kingdom." He stood up and turned to his newfound friends. "Let us return to Guardia Castle." He gestured towards the door, bowing. "After you, m'lady."

The queen smiled and walked out the door. Crono looked around the scorched room, and saw a heavy chest. He walked over to it and popped it open.

A short round man jumped out, carrying a scepter. He looked around and saw Yakra's dead body. "Oh thank you sir!" he said. "I am the true Chancellor, not like this fake Yakra!"

The real Chancellor saw the queen heading out the door. "Wait for me!" he called as he followed the queen.

Lucca turned to Crono. "Crono, since we saved the queen, that means Marle is safe. We have to go back to the castle and get her, then get back to our normal time before her father finds out she's been gone!"

The boy nodded, and together, Frog, Lucca, and Crono walked through the remains of the singed door, down the hallway, up the spiral stairs, and out of the chapel towards Guardia Castle.

The castle of Magus stood tall in the darkness, surrounded by mist. The moon hung over it like an omen and shone light on the otherwise dim and dismal structure. Strange sounds echoed deep from within the castle.

Magus the sorcerer stood alone in the darkness in the depths of his fortress. He stared at a dimly lit statue of a large monster holding several candles. Soon, he thought. Soon.

"M-Magus," said a voice sheepishly.

Magus turned around and looked at the steps. Ozzie hovered at the bottom of them, fidgeting nervously. "Yes, Ozzie?"

"Sir, Yakra has been slain!"

Magus raised an eyebrow.

The green monster fell to his knees, holding his hands together, begging for mercy. "It's not my fault! The frog rescued the queen and the Chancellor! Please forgive me, please!"

The sorcerer shook his head. "Enough of your groveling, slime bag," he said. "Yakra and the queen are of no concern to me."

Ozzie stood up, shocked. "What?"

"That's right. Soon I shall fulfill my destiny, and no one in this world will have the power to withstand me." He darkened his brow. "But I suggest you keep the Guardia army at bay. I would be severely disappointed if you screwed up and allowed them to get to this place."

The green monster started backing up. "Yes master, I will be sure not to fail you!" He then turned around and hovered back up the steps.

Magus turned around to face the statue. "I will have my revenge very soon..."

The rising sun broke the night sky over Guardia castle, shining brightly and signaling the start of a new day. Two knights stood on the top of the castle on lookout. They could see all the way to the southern continent.

One sat down against the wall. "I'm tired," he said. "Let's take a break before the morning shift gets up here."

The other turned to him. Reluctantly he put down his binoculars on the edge and said, "Right." He turned to walk over and sit down next to his companion. The knight pulled out a small bottle of whisky and unscrewed the cap.

The other knight squinted and looked at the wall. "Hey, where'd your glasses go?" he asked. The second warrior put down his bottle and looked at the wall. His binoculars were not there.

"Oh no!" he cried. He jumped up and walked over to the wall. He looked down and saw the remains of the binoculars shattered in front of the door of the castle. "Blast it," he said.

He noticed a figure moving up the steps of the castle. He narrowed his eyes and could make out five figures coming towards the front door. One was dressed in brilliant white robes.

"It's the queen!" he cried. The other knight shook the sleep from his eyes and jumped up. "Quickly, call the king and have the front doors flung wide open!"

The knight nodded and scrambled down the steps, waving frantically and screaming "The queen has returned! The queen has returned!"

The throne room of Guardia castle was packed with knights and servants. They formed a sem-circle around the steps of the throne. King Guardia sat in his chair, alongside Queen Leene. The Chancellor stood next to the king, and Crono, Lucca, and Frog all kneeled before the royal assembly.

"Crono, you have done the kingdom a great favor by returning Queen Leene to her throne," said the king. "You too, Lucca. Your craftiness came in handy in slaying the beast Yakra."

The Chancellor chimed in. "We must create a criminal justice system to do away with traitors like Yakra and Magus!"

The king nodded. "As for you Frog, you have saved our kingdom yet again. I owe you everything."

Frog stood up and bowed, then turned his head in disgust. "I have failed to protect my queen," said the amphibian. "I have dishonored the Guardia dynasty. Never again will I bring shame to thy people, King Guardia." He hung his head low as he turned around and parted the crowd. He headed towards the throne room door, sulking.

"Frog, no!" called Lucca as she ran after him, followed by Crono. She ran through the door, down the steps and out the front door.

Frog stood there, surveying the land in front of him. He turned around to his two friends. "Why must you leave, Frog?" asked Lucca as she ran out the door.

"I hath disgraced the throne of Guardia," said Frog. "It was my irresponsibility that caused the queen to be kidnaped. If I hadn't been so negligent none of this would ever have happened. I have dishonored myself." He turned to the boy. "Crono, you hath potential to be a good swordsman." Crono nodded. "M'lady, you have conquered thy fear of me and I have earned your respect. Thank you for understanding." Frog turned around and adjusted his sword.

With that he hopped down the steps and onto the plain, heading towards the southern continent. Lucca held out her hand with tears in her eyes, trying to grasp for the amphibian. When he was out of view she lowered her head. Crono patted her back. "He wasn't such a bad guy after all..."

The girl looked up, then remembered something. She turned to face the castle, then looked at Crono. "Hey, if the queen is back here, then something tells me Marle is okay too!"

He whipped his head up. She was just about to kiss him when she had vanished. Maybe there was a chance she still would!

The boy nodded, and together they ran back inside the castle. The throne room was still filled with knights and servants fussing over the queen. Lucca and Crono had no trouble sneaking up the stairs to the queen's bedroom.

Once they had gotten to the large double doors, Lucca looked down the hallway. "No one is here, we can go right in and get out!" Crono pushed open the door, and the bedroom was virtually empty.

"Where is she?" asked Lucca. The boy walked around the room, but could not find her. Then he turned to the large bed with curtains around it. He walked over and flung them back.

Marle lay there in a state of calm tranquility. Her arms were folded over her chest, and she wore the same outfit as she did at the Millennial Fair. Slowly her eyes began to open. She turned her head to look at the boy.

"Crono, it's you," she said, yawning. She stretched her arms and sat up. "I'm so happy you came all this way to get me!"

The boy scratched his head. She was just about to kiss him when she disappeared.

"Ever since they brought me here I just kind of slept," she went on. Crono shook his head. She had no memory of what was about to happen when she vanished. Blast it! he thought.

"Good morning, Princess Nadia," said Lucca, peering out from behind the curtains.

"Oh, Lucca! You came too?" Marle suddenly stopped. "Princess Nadia?" She laughed. "Well I guess my secret is out. I am Princess Nadia, daughter of King Guardia of 1000 A.D. I still can't believe you came all this way for me! You wouldn't have if I weren't royalty, right Crono?"

Crono nodded no. Marle smiled. "That's why I like you so much Crono!"

Lucca turned around. "I hate to ruin the moment guys, but I think we should get back to our time as soon as possible," she said.

"Oh, right," said Marle. "I should be getting back to the castle in my time." She laughed and got out of bed, then started for the door. "Coming, guys?"

Lucca followed her, and Crono sulked behind, angry that he had missed his chance to kiss the beautiful girl.

It was mid-afternoon by the time the group had returned to the clearing in the Doronado mountains where they had emerged from the portal. The bodies of the green monsters Crono had slain were now gone. The clearing was perfectly calm, and birds chirped in the woods.

Marle looked around, and after seeing nothing she looked at Lucca. "Now what?" she asked.

Lucca smiled and pulled a metallic flower-like object from her pouch. She held it high in the air and set a dial on its handle.

The air around them shifted. A whooshing sound could be heard. Then, in the middle of the clearing, a portal appeared. This one however, did not suck in air like a vacuum.

Crono and Marle stepped back, amazed. "How did you do that?" asked the princess.

Lucca held her new toy high in the air. "These portals are passages through time," she said. "I call them 'gates.' Using a certain alloy, I created a device which makes conditions similar to my telepod machine. I call it a gate key. In short, this little gizmo in my hand lets us go back and forth through time using these warps. Same place, different era. I'm sure there are more of them scattered throughout the world."

Marle looked at her, then said, "Lucca, you're a genius!"

"Ain't it the truth?" cackled the girl. She caught herself suddenly. "Um... I mean..."

The princess shook her head. "Enough with the false modesty! You have gift, Lucca. I would trade my royal heritage in a heartbeat for your brains!"

Lucca was dumbfounded. "If you say so, your highness."

"Call me Marle, please. I'm so sick of hearing that around the castle!"

"Okay, Marle." The girl smiled, then turned and looked at the whirling gate. "Well, I'm sure we should be getting back to good old 1000 A.D."

"What makes these gates?" asked the princess.

"Either the telepod, or something else..." said Lucca.

"This is weird..." said Marle. "Let's get back to our time."

The other two nodded and stepped into the portal. Lucca followed, and the gate closed behind them.

The trio instantly emerged at the telepod machine at the Millennial Fair. No one was around, so they had gotten away with it all. The air was crisp, and the trees were green. There were no knights or monsters hanging around. It was midday.

Lucca turned and looked at Marle. "Sorry for putting you through all that, Marle."

Marle looked at the girl with a strange expression on her face. "Are you kidding?" she asked. "That was the most fun I've had in years! We'll have to do it again sometime!"

Lucca laughed. "Okay guys," she said. "I'm going to head back to my house. This fire-rod I picked up is pretty interesting. I wanna give it a look-see." She turned and looked directly at Crono. "Hey, Crono, be a gentleman and escort Marle home!"

Crono nodded and held his arm out. Marle hooked her arm around his. Lucca shook her head and walked down the stairs towards the exit of the fair. "Shall we be off?" asked Marle.

The boy nodded, and walked down the steps towards the Truce Village.

It was evening by the time the two got back to Guardia Castle. After four hundred years, it seemed unchanged by time. Marle knocked on the front door with a heavy knocker.

A small slide in the door opened. Two eyes peered out, searching rapidly. They landed on Marle and opened wide. The small slide closed. The princess looked confuse. "What gives?"

The doors flung open wide, and a barrage of knights ran out and tackled an unsuspecting Crono. He fell to the ground, fighting desperately to escape the grasp of the armored soldiers. Marle turned around and beat furiously on the backs of the soldiers. "Leave my friend alone!"

The knights grabbed both of his arms and held him up. One of them placed a sword across his throat, ready to slit it at a second's notice. The others brought his hands together and cuffed him. He fought furiously against the chains, trying to break loose. He looked at Marle with a confused expression. "What are you doing to my friend?" she asked.

"Protecting your best interests, my dear," said a voice.

She whirled around and saw a short man in green clothes waddling out the front door. He had a white beard and round hat. "Chancellor?" she asked.

Crono looked at the short man, and noticed how similar he looked to the Chancellor of 600 A.D. The Chancellor looked at him. "Ah, Crono of Truce," said the short man. "You have been accused of treason and kidnaping." He waved his scepter in his face. "You will be subjected to a fair trial."

"This is outrageous!" yelled Marle. "He has done nothing to me!"

The Chancellor shook his head and turned to face her. "You have obviously been brainwashed, my dear," said the Chancellor. "This fiend is obviously guilty. Stand back while we decide his fate!"

The knights dragged Crono in the door, and headed down one of the hallways. The Chancellor followed them, chuckling softly.

IV: The Trial

The Guardia Royal Court was a grand sight to behold. The judge's seat sat on the ground floor, and the podium of prosecution stood in the center. Behind the judge's seat was a thirty-foot high stained glass window with a picture of a blind woman holding the scales of justice.

Great balconies hung over the floor, where senators and royalty sat to view the prosecutions. Behind the central floor was a semi-circle of seats for the common crowd. It surrounded the floor, giving the spectators a full view of the person on trial.

Today the seats were filled. Angry and unruly commoners sat anxiously, waiting for the trial to begin. A door behind the judge's seat opened, and a masked man walked out. The bailiff stood and yelled, "All rise!"

The entire crowd stood up. The judge walked to his desk and sat down. "All sit," said the bailiff. The crowd returned to their seats.

The main door to the court swung open. The Chancellor walked onto the floor. Several people cheered him on. He turned and raised his hands in the air, trying to gain more approval. The crowd stood on their feet, whistling and hollering. The short man smiled and turned. He walked up to the judge's stand and sat down on a chair next to it.

"Bring in the accused," said the bailiff. He looked at the main doors.

Three heavily armored knights carried a bruised and beaten body into the court. Crono raised his head and tried to look back at the crowd who was booing him. His eyes were blackened, some of his bones were broke, and he was bruised all over.

The knights walked to the podium and dropped Crono flat on his face. The crowd laughed and cheered. The boy stood up and clasped onto the wooden top of the podium. He looked wearily at the judge.

The masked judge looked at the poor boy. "Crono of Truce Village, you have been charged with the crime of kidnaping Princess Nadia," he said. "How do you plea?"

The boy tried to shake his head, but he could barely move a muscle. He opened his mouth to speak.

"He pleads innocent!" said a voice.

The boy mustered up the strength to turn around. A man carrying a briefcase walked into the court room through the front door. He wore a green vest and a blue hat.

The Chancellor stood up and waved his scepter at the stranger. "This is an outrage!" yelled the short man. "This boy has no rights!"

The judge slammed his gavel on his desk. "Objection overruled. Everyone has a right to a fair trial, which includes a lawyer."

Grumbling, the short man sat back down in his seat.

"I will be Crono's lawyer," said the man. "My name is Pierre."

The judge nodded, and the short Chancellor got up from his seat. He paced back and forth in front of the judge's desk, then turned to face the boy. "Crono, the accusations state that you kidnaped the princess," he started. "After which you went to Lucca's little sideshow and disappeared for a few days. Where did you take her?"

The boy shook his head. He'd never believe me anyway... he thought.

"The young man declines to answer," said the short man. "He is obviously guilty!"

"Objection!" yelled Pierre. "Crono is not much of a speaker. But his character is very good. We have witnesses that will testify to his virtues!"

Crono raised an eyebrow. Pierre motioned to the knight at the door. The armored warrior turned around and walked out of the court. A few minutes he came back, leading a little girl into the court.

She was only about five or six, and had a green ribbon in her hair. The knight pointed to the lawyer standing in front of the podium. The girl giggled and walked in front of the judge's desk. She turned around to face the crowd.

"This nice boy, he saved my cat from a tree!" said the young girl.

Pierre smiled, and the Chancellor's jaw dropped. He jumped up and yelled, "Objection!"

The judge slammed his gavel down on the desk again. "She has a right to speak."

"Thank you for being so kind," said the girl. With that she ran out of the court.

Pierre cracked another smile. "Doesn't the boy deserve a medal?" he asked, facing the crowd. Most of them nodded. He turned back to the boy and walked over to him. "It looks like they're buying it!"

The trial continued on for several hours. Pierre brought out witness after witness, each one telling of good deeds the young lad had performed for them over the years. They ranged from little old ladies, prattling on about how Crono had mowed their lawn, to clergymen, who testified to his honest and moral ways.

Pierre smiled. The jury seemed to be putty in his hands. With all these witnesses testifying to Crono's moral behavior, there was no way they could decide that he had kidnaped the princess.

The judge looked at the crowd, then spoke. "We have seen enough. Are there any further questions?"

"Yes!" snapped the Chancellor. He walked to the podium and tapped his scepter on the it. "Wake up boy!" The Chancellor rose it to strike him, but he resisted when the boy moved back. He chuckled softly. "Now Crono, there was a sizeable reward offered for the princess's return. Somewhere in the area of five-hundred thousand coins."

The court gasped. The Chancellor looked at all the people whispering amongst themselves, then continued. "Now, Crono my boy, did the reward tempt you?"

Crono shook his head no.

"Not in the least bit?"

Again he shook his head no.

"You do remember that you are under oath, correct?"

Crono nodded yes.

"Then did you or did you not kidnap the princess for your own benefit?"

For the last time, the boy shook his head no.

The Chancellor growled and prepared to strike the boy. "That's enough," said Pierre. "My client is obviously a just and moral young man. He would in no way capture the princess for his own well-being."

Growling, the Chancellor returned to his seat and sat down. Pierre also sat down with a big grin on his face. The judge looked at the boy. "Jury, how do you find the defendant?"

Several people in the balcony rose. A tall man in front of them all looked at his paper. "We, the jury of Guardia, find the defendant, Crono of Truce, innocent of capturing the princess."

The entire crowd stood on their feet, booing and banging on their seats. The judge bashed the gavel on his desk. "Order! Order!" He sweated. Something had to be done or the crowd would riot over this boy's innocence. They had come to see a man sentenced to death.

"Looks like you had better do something," said the Chancellor, smiling.

"Well, um..." The judge scratched his beard. "The boy may not have kidnaped her, but... um... he did run off with her. Three days of solitary confinement shall be served."

Crono's head sunk to the podium. It's only three days...

Suddenly there was a sharp pain at the back of his neck. The room started to spin, and he fell face first onto the podium. Then the boy slunk to the floor, unconscious.

"No!" cried a voice.

The Chancellor looked at the front door of the court. Princess Nadia dashed in to Crono's side. She knelt down and patted his head. "Are you okay?"

Two knights walked through the door, and shoved the princess aside. "He's going to jail for a few days, ma'am," said one of the knights. The picked up his lifeless body and dragged him out of the court room.

"No, you can't!" cried the girl. "He didn't kidnap me!" She turned to the Chancellor. "Chancellor, you must clear his name! He did nothing!"

The short man smiled. "My dear, I know," he said. "But there is nothing I can do." He put his hand on her arm, faking sympathy. "Now I must see to it that this villain serves out his term."

With a smirk on his face, the Chancellor walked out the front door, and followed the knights down the hall.

Princess Nadia fell to her knees, looking down the hallway. "Crono..."

Guardia Castle's prison was not located below ground like most castles. Instead, prisoners were kept high in towers above. Attackers and rebels found it difficult to get to the top, and were usually stopped by a group of ready soldiers.

The main prison tower stood high above the ground in one of the castle's spires. Only one route led into it, a shaky suspension bridge with a hundred-foot fall.

Heights did not scare the Chancellor as he proudly marched across it. The two knights carrying the limp Crono were behind him, dragging the pour soul along by the handcuffs. The wind whipped about them, forcing them to keep a steady hold on the bridge.

The party made it into the main prison tower. A man sat at his desk looking over records and skimming them with his pen. He looked up at the short man and the two knights. "May I help you?"

"Yes," said the Chancellor, smiling. "This is Crono of Truce. We have brought him here to carry out his sentence."

The man smiled. "Ah yes, the boy who snatched the princess. He gets three days of confinement, correct?"

"What?" yelled the Chancellor. "This scoundrel is to be executed tomorrow morning!" He smiled.

A confused expression crossed the man's face. "I was told three days in a cell."

Crono looked up with his battered eyes. He focused on the Chancellor. "What do you mean?" cried the short man. "The... paperwork must have been held up in the system!" The boy's eyes grew wide. The Chancellor was out to get him!

The man at the desk shook his head. "Well alright," he said. "Escort him to his cell, gentlemen."

The knights nodded and carried Crono down the hallway. The man sat back down at his desk, and the Chancellor cackled softly to himself, convinced he had gotten back at the boy.

Inside the depths of the prison, the knights threw Crono into a dirty cell. A small window let in a narrow beam of light. They slammed the door shut and walked back up the hall.

Battered and tired, the boy got the strength to slip into the bed chained to the wall. He dozed off, not even thinking about his fate tomorrow at the hands of the guillotine.

"Get up boy!" called a gruff voice.

The world around him blurred painfully back into place. Crono sat up in bed. It all came back to him now. The trial and the Chancellor. The execution...

He clambered out of bed and fell to the floor. He looked at the cell door. A knight stood there, waiting anxiously for the boy to come to the door. "C'mon, kid! I ain't got all day!"

The boy nodded. To die so young, and without kissing Marle. If I hadn't gone after her in the first place, none of this would have happened... he thought.

He mentally cursed the girl and walked to the cell door, ready to meet his fate. "Glad you didn't make me come in there after you," said the armored warrior. He put the keys in the lock and turned them. The door swung open, and Crono held his hands out to be cuffed for the trip to the execution room.

The knight slapped on the wrist cuffs and led him down the hallway. The boy seemed to recall the events of his short life. His mother and his cat. Slowly he began to realize that he had led a boring life. He really did not do anything throughout his boyhood. He had went to school, helped his mother out, helped some of the neighbors. That was about it, except for the last few days.

He remembered the telepod, and the portal that had given him a wicked ride back to the year 600. He remembered Lucca and her craftiness in figuring out how to work the gate. He remembered Frog, and how he had aided them in getting through the labyrinth under the chapel. He remembered his heroic battle with Yakra. Last but not least, the image of Marle came to mind. She had been so kind to him. He wished there was more time...

Finally he realized that it wasn't such a bad thing that he had followed the girl at the Millennial Fair. He would have lived out a boring and otherwise worthless life for many years. At least he would die, being able to say he had gone back four hundred years and rescued a princess.

"Here we are kid," said the knight. Crono snapped out of his delusion and was back in the hallway. He turned to his right and saw the execution room. All kinds of interesting devices were inside: coffins with nails, water torture, stretching boards, and the infamous guillotine.

Another knight stood by it, with a rope in his hand, ready to drop the heavy cleaver. "Get in there, kid!" yelled the warrior leading Crono. He shoved him inside the torture room. The other knight grabbed him and forced his neck onto the cutting board. A wooden brace was put over his neck so he could not move. The boy looked down into the empty basket beneath him.

"Any last words, boy?" asked the knight with a smirk. He grabbed the rope and prepared to drop it.

Crono closed his eyes and counted to five.


The huge blade did not come. Crono opened his eyes and tried to get a better look. One of the knights lay unconscious on the floor. His eyes opened wider. He craned his neck to get a better view of the knight holding the blade.

"Stop squirming buddy or I'll drop it!"

No... it couldn't be! I must be dead already!

The boy heard a snap, and a great deal of pressure was taken off his neck. He could move it freely now. He pulled his head out from the guillotine and looked at the person holding the rope.

Lucca had never looked so good. He grabbed her and hugged her tight. "Ok, easy there pal!" she cried. She looked at Crono, who had never looked happier. "You're lucky I came just in time."

The boy looked at the fallen knights with a confused face. "Oh, I took care of them with this little beauty." She held up shiny, double-barreled elephant gun proudly. "Titanium slugs. It'll pierce armor like nothing!" Crono stepped back. "It's okay buddy, I won't shoot ya!" She looked out the door. "Looks like we had better get going!"

The boy nodded. "Oh, I almost forgot!" The girl pulled a shiny metallic saber out from her satchel. Crono smiled and took it from her. He sliced it through the air in a mock battle move. "I knew you would like your good old steel sword back!"

Outside the room, several hollow footsteps could be heard echoing against the cold stone of the tower. A worried expression came over Lucca's face. She pumped the slide on her elephant gun. "Let's get going for real!"

The two ran out of the room and faced up the hallway. A large, heavy brown door blocked the entrance to the prison office. "No problem," said Lucca. Crono tapped on her shoulder. She turned and looked at him, and the boy pointed down the hallway.

Slowly a large iron gate began to slide out of the floor. A puff of steam shot through the grating. Two red, slit eyes shone through the darkness beyond the door. "I have a bad feeling about this..." said the girl.

The gate had fully retracted into the ceiling, and a green foot stepped out from the shadow. The foot was attached to a long, thick, green leg. The leg fully emerged from the shadow. The two warriors saw it was connected to a large, green, scaly body. A long neck uncurled, which was attached to a scaly-green head. The monster's mouth was lined with a row of razor sharp teeth. Long yellow whiskers hung down from its nose, and its red eyes glowed with a fiery rage.

The beast gave out a loud roar and stuck its neck high in the air. A blast of fire shot from its open maw, scorching the stone ceiling. Lucca stood there, trembling with her elephant gun. "A real live dragon," she said, staring at the monster. She raised her weapon to her eyes' height and took aim, then pulled the trigger.

The blast echoed throughout the tower, and Lucca was nearly knocked back by the kick from the gun. She looked at the dragon.

It had apparently not even suffered a scratch. "Blast it!" yelled Lucca. The beast roared and scraped at the floor with its claws. It then shot out another blast of fire and began to charge down the hall.

"Run!" cried the girl. She lowered the gun and made a mad dash for the door at the other end of the stone hallway. Crono put his sword in his sheath and followed her.

The two made it to the heavy wooden door. Lucca tried to push it open, but she discovered it was locked. She pounded on it with her fists. "Open up! Open up!"

Crono removed his sword and started to violently hack away at the door. Wood chips scattered everywhere. He struck harder with every blow, getting angrier and angrier.

The dragon roared again. It belched more flame and started running faster. "Hurry Crono! Break through the door!" yelled Lucca.

The boy stopped for a second. He had made a groove about three inches deep in the heavy wooden obstruction. It's too strong! he thought. He looked at the dragon which was seconds from smashing into them. He put his sword away and jumped, knocking Lucca aside. He rolled up against the wall and covered his head.

Roaring, the dragon charged faster. Its eyes opened wider when it realized the two kids had jumped aside. It tried to stop, but its claws could not grip the stone. With an enormous amount of force, the monster slid into the heavy wooden door and shattered it.

Lucca looked up. Dust clouded the air and large pieces of wood were strewn about the floor. Crono stood up and looked into the next room.

The dragon had fallen to the ground. It slowly got up, and the man at the desk got up and ran out the front door across the suspension bridge. The massive behemoth gave another roar. It spread its wings wide and looked directly at the two kids.

Crono and Lucca ran into the room and braced themselves against the wall. The dragon opened its mouth wide and belched out a blast of fire. They rolled aside of the blast, evading the monster's fiery breath.

Raging, the dragon thrashed about. Its tail knocked over the desk and opened the door to the suspension bridge. Candles were knocked over, and tapestries were torn in two. The stone was scorched by the increasing blasts of fire.

"Crono, out to the bridge!" yelled Lucca. She ran around the thrashing dragon and out the door. She stood on the suspension bridge and motioned for the boy to follow her.

He nodded and started to run. He stopped when the dragon swung its neck around and stared him directly in the face. For a moment the boy was paralyzed. The dragon eyed him up viciously, then slowly opened its maw.

Crono wasted no time in pulling out his saber and cutting off one of the thick whiskers that protruded from the dragon's nose. The dragon yelled with rage.

The boy jumped onto the creature's nose. He ran along its spine and hopped off its tail. The door to the bridge was only feet away.

Lucca looked at the boy. She bit her lip, then waved her hands wildly at him. "C'mon, kid! Let's get outta here!"

He nodded and dashed through the gaping door, not giving the dragon behind him a second thought. Meanwhile, the monster managed to turn itself around. It roared again and charged through the door, which was not wide enough to admit him.

A cloud of dust erupted from the room. The two kids turned around and saw that the top of the tower was collapsing. Stones fell over the sides towards the ground, dropping into the mist below.

"Crono, let's move it!" said Lucca, looking at the steps on the other side of the open-air suspension bridge that led to the ground floor. She glared angrily at Crono, who was still looking at the shattered remains of the door they had just exited. The girl grabbed him by the arm and yanked him across the bridge.

"We're almost there," she said. She looked at the steps leading downward and ran faster.


The image of the downward stairs in the next tower were replaced with a massive wall of green scales. Lucca took a step back and looked up at the gigantic dragon which had just landed in front of her. Crono pulled out his sword, ready to do battle.

The girl raised her elephant gun and aimed it directly at the chest of the giant monster. Nervously she eyed up the sight with the demon's heart. She pumped the slide and prepared to pull the trigger.

In a flash, the monster's green tail whipped the gun out of her hands and over the side of the bridge. The shock of the dragon's tail knocked her back on her rear. She looked at the huge creature, which easily stood thirty feet high. It belched fire and steam into the air, creating an impressive display high above the ground.

Angrily the boy withdrew his sword and dashed towards the behemoth standing in front of him. He raised his sword, aiming for the soft underbelly of the dragon.

A wall of flame shot down from the dragon's mouth. It created a barrier between Crono and the monster, preventing him from striking. The boy skidded to a halt a few feet before the fiery wall. He turned around and ran to Lucca's side.

The girl had finally gotten back to her feet. She turned around and looked at the remains of the tower which had just crumbled from the dragon's rampage. Maybe there was a way out in that tower.

"Crono, let's go back to the tower, maybe we can climb down through there!" said Lucca. The boy looked at her and nodded. Together they dashed back across the bridge, hoping there would be some sort of staircase that led to the bottom floor in the prison tower.

"Halt!" called a voice.

The two warriors stopped. Out of the rubble came several heavily armed knights, each carrying swords. They walked onto the bridge, aiming their swords at Lucca and Crono.

With the dragon behind them blocking the stairs tower and the knights in front of them blocking the prison tower, they were trapped.

"We're done for Crono!" said Lucca.

The boy shook his head. He pulled his sword out of his sheath. He motioned for Lucca to grab on to the rope supports that held up the bridge. She looked at him with her jaw dropped. "Are you crazy? This trick only works in movies!"

He smiled and grabbed onto the ropes. He raised his sword high in the air and focused his attention on the cord in front of him. Lucca pulled her fire rod from her satchel and aimed it at the rope on the opposite side.

"On the count of three," said Lucca. "One, two... three!"

A blast of flame shot out of her fire rod and burned right through the ropes. Crono dropped his sword on the ropes and cleanly cut through them.

The ropes snapped loudly and hung in the air for a split second. The planks beneath them hung motionless, then began to drop. The footing left the dragon, the soldiers, and Crono and Lucca. Both sides of the bridge swung through the air and crashed into the towers.

Screaming as they fell through the air, the knights dove into the endless mist below. The monstrous dragon plunged to the depths, frantically trying to pick itself up with its small wings. It roared one last time, shooting a ball of fire up into the air.

Crono looked below into the bottomless fog. He held on tight to the plank, trying not to slip. Lucca steadily climbed the planks, panting and wheezing.

They made it to the top and looked back at the prison tower. It was in shambles, with stones thrown everywhere, and the bridge cut in two. Each side clattered against the stone walls of the towers, blowing in the wind.

"Well, I guess we should get out of here now," said Lucca. Crono turned and smiled to her, then the two of them headed down the steps to the ground floor.

The castle below was quiet. The dawn had not fully called all of Guardia's servants to rise yet. The halls were silent, and no one's footsteps echoed against the cold hard stones that lined the dismal hallway.

At the bottom of the steps that led to the prison tower, Crono and Lucca hid in the shadows. The doors were unguarded, and the hallway seemed clear.

"Okay, buddy, let's get out of here!" said Lucca. The boy pulled his sword out of his sheath and looked both ways before walking out of the doorway. Lucca followed him, armed with only her fire rod.

The two made a mad dash for the front door. Their footsteps echoed off the cold stones that lined the hallway. Their shadows danced along the walls as they ran for their goal.

Lucca stopped at the door and looked down both of the corridors. Crono walked to her side and grabbed the door handle. "Okay, the coast is clear," said the girl.

The boy nodded and swung the front door of the castle wide open. The morning sunlight poured in, filling the room with an orange glow. Lucca stepped outside first and looked at the forest below the castle.

"Going somewhere?" said a voice.

She looked down and saw the Chancellor standing on the steps with a dozen armored soldiers behind him. She shrieked and took a step back. Crono dashed out the door and pointed his sword at the short man.

"Haha, foolish boy," said the Chancellor. "Do you really think you can escape your death?"


Lucca and Crono turned around.

Princess Nadia ran down the steps from the throne room and stood behind the boy and the girl. "These are my friends!" cried the princess. "I will not have them treated this way!"

The Chancellor chuckled. "Oh really?" he asked. "Why don't you ask your father?"

The trio whirled around. Inside the castle, an old man with a red robe on slowly descended the throne room steps. His beard was white, and his skin was aged. "Nadia, move away from the rebels," he said in a grave voice.

The princess smiled and looked at her father, the king. "No."

A wave of awe overcame the crowd. The knights withdrew their swords, and the Chancellor began to ascend the steps. "Surely you don't think your 'friends' can survive either way, do you?" asked the short man.

Nadia looked at him and smiled. "The way I have been treated here is wrong! The outside world is filled with more virtuous people!"

"My daughter, you pick up some strange ideas in the outside world," said the king.

The girl looked back at him with a surprise on her face. "I didn't pick up anything!" she shouted. "It's called 'common sense!'"

"Foolish girl!" yelled the Chancellor. "Arrest them, soldiers!"

The knights marched up the stairs, ready to take the prisoners.

Lucca took a step back and looked at the squad of soldiers coming towards them. Her pulse quickened. She looked at Crono. "You don't have any crazy ideas this time, do you?"

The boy shook his head. "Well, I guess I'll be getting my head chopped off with ya," she said.

Crono nodded.

Marle looked around frantically. She looked at the Chancellor, then at the group of soldiers, then at her father. I've had it, she thought. I'm out of here for good!

She backed up into Crono. The boy looked at her questioningly. Marle then grabbed his arm and moved it up so his sword would be right across her throat. For a second, the boy was shocked. Then it donned on him what Marle was trying to do.

The soldiers halted.

"No!" shouted the king.

Lucca looked at Marle, who had forced Crono to put her in the position to get her neck slit. Then it hit her. She turned and looked at the group of soldiers. "Better let him go, or he'll hack her up good!"

The Chancellor took a step back. His face became sour. He waved a hand to the knights behind him. "Give them a clear passage," said the short man, regretfully.

Crono smiled and led Marle down the steps with Lucca in tow. His sword was still across her throat in a mock hostage take. The knights parted, standing against the railing of the steps. The Chancellor stood at the top, looking down at the boy who was getting away.

When they had disappeared into the thick of the forest surrounding Guardia Castle, the Chancellor raised his scepter. He smiled. "After them, men!"

The knights ran down the steps and off into the forest, splitting up and looking for the escaped prisoners.

King Guardia bowed his head. "Nadia..."

In the deep, dark forest, the knights had spread out to search for the three escapees. They hacked away at the dense brush with their powerful swords. Birds scattered, and the rustling of leaves and dead plants could be heard throughout the woods.

"We don't have much time," said Lucca, peering out into the dense forest.

Crono sat quietly on the ground of a cave. Lucca was at the entrance, looking for any incoming soldiers. Marle paced back and forth, mumbling about how she had gotten the other two into so much trouble.

"I can't believe I got you guys into this," she said. "I'll never forgive myself..."

"Quiet, Marle!" said Lucca. "We need to figure a way out of here!"

The princess clamped her mouth shut. "Marle, I'm sorry..." Lucca shook her head and looked at the two of them. Crono sat with his head in his hands, trying to figure a way out of this situation. He looked around the cave. No sunlight came in anywhere.

Suddenly he heard a buzzing in his ears. He stood up and looked around the dark cave. The sound did not seem to be coming from anywhere else. He looked at Marle, then decided that the sound wasn't coming from her either.

The boy turned his attention to Lucca. "What are you looking at, buddy?" she asked. The noise started to reach her ears too. "Hmm... It sounds like its really close."

Crono walked up to her and reached into her satchel. "What are you doing?" she cried. The boy pulled out the gate key, which was buzzing like an angry hornet. He held it up and studied it. "Of course, the gate key!"

"What's going on?" asked Marle.

Lucca took the key from Crono and showed it to the princess. "I built in a detector of dimensional tears, pulls, and other anomalies," said the brilliant girl.

Marle looked at her with a confused expression. "Okay Lucca," said Marle. "I've never really been outside the castle, save for one trip back to 600 A.D. I have no clue what anomalies or dimensional whats-its are."

Lucca's face turned red. "Oh, of course. In short, this little gizmo can find us a gate!"

The princess's jaw dropped. Crono smiled and pointed to the back of the cave. "My guess is that there is a gate in this cave," said Lucca. "Only problem is, I have no idea where it will take us."

"Hah!" said Marle. "We have nothing here anyway!"

Lucca nodded and looked at Crono. "Are you game?"

The boy nodded, smiling.

"Okay then, get ready to take another trip through time!"

"There they are!" said an all-to familiar voice.

They all turned around and saw the short Chancellor standing at the mouth of the cave with his knights. "You're cornered, Crono!"

Crono pulled out his sword and stood in front of Lucca and Marle. "Lucca, use the gate key! Now!" said Marle.


She held the gate key high and fiddled with a knob. With a great gust of wind, a bluish portal opened in front of the two girls. It violently pushed the soldiers out of the cave.

"Jump in!" said Lucca.

Crono put his sword back in his sheath. Marle ran directly into the portal, vanishing instantly. Lucca put the key in her satchel and dove into the void. Crono brought up the rear, and dove in just before it closed.

The knights were dumbfounded, and the Chancellor's jaw dropped. "Where did they go?"

V: Across the Ruins

For many years, the sun had not shone. It had been blotted out by a blanket of ashes that filled the sky. A dense covering of dust surrounded the globe, creating a virtual eternal darkness. The land was barren and bleak. No green was to be seen anywhere. Miles and miles of rocks and dirt stretched as far as the eye could see.


Lucca was hurled out of the gate first. She tumbled across the ground and landed against a marble wall. She adjusted her glasses and looked around. Her surroundings came back into focus, and she saw the dirty sky and the bleak landscape. What a wasteland... she thought.

The gate still spun wildly. Marle was thrown out next. She flew gracefully through the air and landed face down in the dirt. She picked her head up and looked at Lucca who was sitting against the marble block. "Rough landing," said the princess.

The other girl nodded. "Where are we?"

"I have no idea," said Marle.

The gate threw out one last person before it shut. Crono jumped from the portal and landed gracefully on one knee. He stood up and looked at the barren landscape in awe.

Marle looked at Lucca, then looked up. Her jaw dropped. "Um, guys, take a look at that!"

Lucca stood up and walked next to the princess. She looked up at the marble object which she had rolled into. The boy raised his head and took a step back in shock.

A perfect rendering of Princess Nadia stood before them, carved out of pure marble. It stood ten feet tall. The statue wore a long flowing dress and carried a single rose. Several parts of it were chipped off, but the likeness was remarkable.

"I can't believe it's you, Marle..." said Lucca.

The princess shook her head, speechless. She looked at the base of the statue and noticed some strange lettering. "Look, an inscription!"

Lucca walked to the base and knelt down. She fixed her glasses and read it. "This is a memorial to my daughter Nadia, who disappeared from this spot many years ago. May she return some day and provide a shining light to all the land."

"Daddy," said Marle. "My father wrote that." She gasped. "We must be in... the future."

The other girl nodded. "I would say so. Look up there." She pointed to a crumbling structure atop a nearby hill. It was made of stone and seemed to be falling to pieces, but it had a deathly familiarity about it.

"Guardia Castle?" said Marle. "What happened here?"

Lucca shook her head. "I don't know. Let's see if we can find out." She turned to the south and readjusted her glasses. A collection of two to three story structures stood there.

"That looks like what used to be a city," said Marle. "I say we go check it out."

"Right," said Lucca.

Together, they started off towards the ruined city, fighting against the sweeping winds that nearly blinded them.

The edge of the city was surrounded with rubble. Huge pieces of concrete were strewn everywhere. Shards of metal stuck up out of the ground like rotten teeth. A torn chain-link fence surrounded the perimeter of the ruins. A cloud of smoke rose from the center.

"Looks like something hit here pretty hard, too," said Marle. Crono nodded. They walked through the disaster zone on a dirt path that led into the center of the city.

The buildings became taller as they progressed. The framework stuck out of the top of the shattered structures, making them look even more jagged. Several mangled robot bodies were scattered throughout the streets. A dead stoplight swung by a thin pole, making an eerie creaking sound.

Lucca looked down the remains of the street. A large building protruded from the center of the city ruins. It seemed to have taken the least damage in whatever had happened here. Several chunks were taken out of its side, but otherwise it seemed to be intact.

"Looks like if we'll find anything in this time period, we'll find it in that building," said the girl, pointing ahead.

Marle looked at it and shook her head. "Right, let's go for it!"

Crono nodded, and the three of them began a light jog towards the structure. They passed more shattered buildings along the way, as well as robot bodies and shards of metal.

"We're almost there," said Lucca. The building was no more than four hundred yards from them.

"Good, I'm not too much of a runner," said Marle.

They made it to the building. Its surface was flat, and the only protrusion was the heavy metal door at the bottom of it. Lucca walked up to it and tapped on it. A loud metal clanging echoed throughout the interior. "Hello?" she said.

No answer came from inside. "That's just our luck," said Marle.

The three of them turned around and sat against the door. "Well, what now? Do we sit here and die?" asked Lucca.

"There's got to be some way in there!" said Marle. "We can't give up now! We've come so far!"

Lucca shook her head and looked down in the dirt. She picked some of it up and let it slide through her gloved hands. It formed a pile on the ground. "Oh what are we going to do?"

A loud squeal came from somewhere in the distance. Crono looked up. There was no sign of any movement in the buildings. He stood up and withdrew his sword. His face turned to a scowl.

"What was that?" asked Marle.

She stood up and scanned the surrounding area. She could see nothing either.

"Whatever it is, I'm going to take it with me when I die," said Lucca as she got to her feet and withdrew her fire rod.

Crono held his sword at the ready, waving it back and forth, looking for the unseen enemy. The loud squeal came again, but it was closer this time.

"Up there!" shouted Marle. She pointed to the top of a nearby building.

The boy held his sword in a defensive position and the girl pointed her fire rod at the building.

The creature leapt from the structure and crashed into the dirt not twenty feet from the party. It stood five meters tall on eight tentacles and had an orange head with black, beady eyes. It gave another squeal and raised several tentacles into the air.

"What is that?" said Marle.

The monster whipped one of its tentacles at the group. They each ran in different directions so the thin cord snapped at the building. It took out a large chunk of rock where it hit, leaving a big indentation in the wall.

"Wow! Did you see that?" asked Lucca.

"It took a piece out of that wall!" exclaimed Marle.

Crono beared his teeth and charged after the strange creature. It turned and looked directly at him. Its tentacles lashed out for him, making loud whipping sounds. Crono rolled to the side and brought his saber down upon its tentacle.

The creature howled as its severed appendage fell to the ground. It looked at the stubby remain, then looked back at the boy. With a loud roar, the severed tentacle seemed to grow longer. Finally it returned itself to its original length.

"What?" shouted Lucca. "It can regenerate its tentacles!"

With that the girl aimed her fire rod at the creature and sent out a wave of fireballs. Each one struck one of the monster's tentacles, forcing them back farther and farther. She whirled more and more as the creature's tentacles shrunk.

"Crono, get in there and stab it in the head!" she yelled.

The boy nodded and ran around the stream of fire, making a curved line towards the octopus-like creature. He drew his sword back and leapt into the air, ready to strike the monster's bulbous head.

Before he could react, a wave of tentacles lashed out and wrapped around his waist. Another one whipped the sword out of his hand, making it clatter to the ground. Crono struggled against the immense pressure that constricted his waist.

"Hold on Crono, I'll save you!" said Lucca. She aimed her fire rod at the collection of tentacles wrapped around Crono.

With a loud snapping sound, another tentacle lashed out and knocked the fire rod from her hand, sending it into the pile of rubble. "No!" she cried. She turned and dashed for her lost weapon.

She then felt an intense pressure at her hip She grabbed at it and found that the monster now had a grip on her. She tugged violently at it, but the monster only pulled tighter.

"No!" she screamed as the tentacle pulled her in. She turned her head and saw the monster's gaping mouth full of jagged teeth, waiting to shred her to bits.

She struggled violently and looked at Crono, who had also noticed he was being pulled into the gaping maw. He tugged at the tentacles, but to no avail.

"It's been nice knowin ya, Crono!" said Lucca. She closed her eyes as the stench of the monster's acid-filled mouth overwhelmed her.

The monster squealed violently. Then the pressure at Lucca's and Crono's waist seemed to disappear. They fell to the ground and opened their eyes. The monster lay on the ground in a bloody heap.

"I didn't hear a thank you!" said Marle.

The two of them turned around and looked at a nearby pile of rubble. The princess stood on top of it with a crossbow in hand. She had strapped a quiver of sharp, metallic objects to her back. "Nifty, huh? I found this in the junk pile!"

Crono nearly collapsed and Lucca sunk to her knees. "Well, at least we're still alive," said Lucca.

"Look!" shouted Marle. She pointed to the door on the building.

It had slid open a crack. Two white eyes peered out, looking at the three warriors and the dead monster. A small amount of whispering went on, then the eyes vanished and the door slid open wider.

"I think they want to let us in," said Lucca.

Crono nodded and retrieved his sword, then gestured to the now open door. Lucca followed him, and Marle hopped off the pile of rubble, putting the crossbow on her back and running after them.

The three of them entered the building and the door slammed closed behind them. The interior was dimly lit. Several halogen lamps sat scattered throughout the room on various crates. A few people sat on the metal floor, half asleep. A few children hid in the shadows, chatting quietly. All other eyes were on the three strangers.

An old man walked up to the three kids. He wore a tattered green shirt with several shiny metals on it. "Where are you from?" said the man.

They looked at each other, and Lucca stepped forward. "We came to this era through a time warp," she said. "We crossed the ruins and found that mutant creature."

"Wow!" said the old man. "You actually managed to kill that thing?" He turned to the rest of the people laying around the room. "Hey, we have people who killed the mutant!"

With mention of the mutant, all heads shot up. The people stood and looked at the three travelers. "What?" "You're kidding!" "Impossible!"

The man turned and looked at the boy and the two girls. "You must excuse me," said the old man. "I am Doan, the leader of the Arris Shelter. I'm sorry I didn't let you in at first, but we were afraid of the mutant."

A young girl came up to his side and tugged at his sleeve. He looked down at her. She held out her hand. "Oh, and, we're a bit short on food..."

"Come to think of it, I am a bit hungry," said Marle.

"I see," said Lucca. "Well, we won't take any of your rations."

"Oh, you are too kind," said the old man. "We should give you all we have for slaying the mutant, but I'm afraid it's simply not possible."

Lucca looked around the room. "Well, I guess we've done all we can here," she said. "C'mon Crono, let's see what we can find out there."

The boy nodded and turned to the door. He reached for the release switch. "Wait..." said the old man.

They all turned around and looked at him. "You beat the mutant," he said. "Therefore, you must have special skills of battle."

Crono smiled. Lucca shook her head. "Well, we do okay," she said. "What are you getting at?"

"There is a large stash of food in the basement," said Doan. "It would last us for a long time, but..."

"What?" asked Marle.

"When we were sealed up in here, the guard robots went haywire. When we tried to get to the food, they killed some of our people. They're too big to fit up here."

"So you were trapped between the mutant outside and the robot below," said Lucca.

"Right," said Doan.

"Well, we won't find any food outside," said Marle. "So let's try our luck with the robots below. Ready, Crono?" she asked, looking at the boy.

He nodded and pulled out his sword, ready to fight.

"It's good to see such young and spirited people," said Doan. "The steps are over here. Follow me."

"Wait!" said Lucca. "Before we go down there, we should have some better kinds of weapons or equipment."

"Gee, I didn't think about that," said Doan. "We only have three laser-repellant armors and a rifle." He walked over to a grey chest and popped it open. Inside were three large chest plates made of some shiny alloy. Lucca pulled one out and slipped it over her shoulders.

"Fits like a glove," she said. "Try yours on, guys!"

Crono pulled out one of the armors and slipped it over his ratty tunic. He nodded, approving how well it fit over him. Marle slipped hers on and smiled. She looked in the chest and saw a black rifle at the bottom.

"Since I have my crossbow and Crono has a sword," said Marle, "let's give Lucca the rifle." She picked it up out of the box and handed it to her.

Lucca looked it over. She lined up the sight, then aimed it at the wall in a mock firing. "Bang!" she said. "Oh, this is awesome! Those robots had better look out!"

Crono looked at the stairs leading to the basement below. He gestured towards them and began walking down. Marle and Lucca followed, weapons at the ready.

"Come back alive!" said Doan.

The basement of the Arris Shelter was even more dimly lit than the floor above it. The air below was stale and motionless. A collection of dust particles floated through the air, giving it a hazy appearance.

Lucca switched on her flashlight and cast a bright halogen beam upon the steel-grey wall. "Let there be light," she said.

The wall was marked with two doors, each one made of heavy steel. One was on the left, and one was on the right. In the middle was a control panel.

"Hey Lucca, see if you can get the doors to open," said Marle.

"I'll give it a try," said the young genius. "Hold this, Crono," she said, handing him the flashlight.

Crono shined it on the control panel. Lucca walked over to it and gave it a glance. There was a keyboard at the top of the panel, and two red buttons below it. "This must be a pass-word control release," she said.

Lucca pressed the button on her left. Nothing happened. "Huh. Let me try this one." She pushed the button on her right, and a loud buzz sounded.

"Okay, so the door on the right still functions, but the door on the left seems to be broke. We just need a password for the right door and we can get in."

Crono shined the flashlight on the left door. He narrowed his gaze. It seemed to be hanging off of its hinges. He snapped his fingers and pointed to it.

"Oh," said Lucca. "Well, I guess we can head into the next room then."

The boy handed Marle the flashlight, then gripped the edges of the heavy steel door with his hands. He gave it one good yank and pulled the loose door off the hinges. It clattered noisily to the ground. The three of them walked into the new room.

"Wow," said Marle as she shined the light around rapidly.

The room was huge. It seemed to stretch on forever and ever into the darkness. The princess shined the light ahead. It fell upon a series of catwalks that formed a net-like pattern over what seemed to be an abyss.

"Shine the light down, Marle," said Lucca.

She nodded and walked onto the catwalk, then shined the flashlight into the darkness below. Although the surface was a good twenty feet down, the light did seem to penetrate the darkness. The beam shined on a collection of huge crates scattered about.

"That must be the food storage!" said Marle. "Let's find a ladder!" Without thinking, the girl dashed out onto the catwalk.

"Wait, Marle!" shouted Lucca. "Don't forget about the robot guards!"

"Huh?" said Marle. She dropped the flashlight to her side.

A brilliant flash of light illuminated the surrounding area of the catwalk. The flashlight was plucked from Marle's hand. It twirled end over end through the darkness, sending out erratic patterns of light. Finally it crashed to the warehouse floor below, sending a bright light upon the floor.

"What was that?" asked Marle. She looked behind her. A round, greenish ball floated in the air. It had several red, flashing lights decorating it as well as a central antenna in the back. It buzzed, then floated about some more and floated away into the darkness.

"I'll get him!" said Lucca. She raised her rifle and shot blindly in the direction the green ball had disappeared. Streaks of red light blasted out of the gun barrel in all directions, but they did not find their mark.

"Blast it!" she yelled.

A whirring sound came from above. It continued, and seemed to get louder. "I think you tripped an alarm, Marle!" shouted Lucca.

A bright and blinding light erupted from the ceiling. Crono covered his eyes for a second. Finally when he could readjust, he removed his hand.

In the center of the warehouse floated two of the green ball robots. But they orbited around and even bigger threat.

It was ten feet tall and greenish like the other robots. It floated on an anti-gravity device and had several antennas sticking out of it. Its armor appeared to be very thick, and in its center there was a single optical lense that must have been its eye sensor.

"What is that?" yelled Marle.

"It's the robot that's protecting the storehouse!" said Lucca. "Let's take it out!"

The trio dashed across the catwalks until they were about five feet away from the robot. It was boxed in by catwalks on either side of it, preventing it from moving. Crono had no doubt that it was still a lethal defense.

Marle withdrew her crossbow and aimed for one of the smaller robots that was floating back and forth. She let loose with one of her razor-sharp projectiles. It sailed through the air like a bullet. The arrow found its mark, but clattered off the side of the floating robot.

"It's armor's too strong for arrows!" said the princess. "Lucca, use your laser rifle, it's the only way we'll stop it!"

Lucca raised her gun and eyed up the sight with one of the smaller robots. It darted back and forth, but she was able to get a good hold on it. She pulled the trigger and watched as a red beam erupted from the barrel.

The beam struck dead center in the eye of the smaller robot on the right. It blasted straight through it, and the robot fell to the warehouse floor like a stone.

"Got him!" shouted Lucca.

"Activating security program," said a metallic voice. The eye of the large robot opened wide. A bright red beam shot out, illuminating the surrounding catwalks. It struck dead center in Lucca's chest.

The blast threw her backwards against the catwalk railing. She adjusted her glasses and looked back up at the massive green robot.

"Are you okay Lucca?" asked Marle.

"Yeah, this armor seems to work well," said the young genius. She stood up and raised her rifle at the massive warehouse guardian. She let loose with another blast, dead on for the eye of the robot. It bounced off and ricocheted around the room.

"The big one's armor is too strong for lasers!" said Lucca.

The robot then turned to face the other smaller ball floating around it. Its eye opened once again, and shot directly into the back of the ball.

The ball absorbed the laser shot, then turned to face the catwalk the three warriors were standing on. Its eye opened, an even more massive red blast shot out. The beam struck dead center in the catwalk and tore it to shreds.

Crono, Marle, and Lucca all fell to the warehouse floor below. They landed on the cold steel ground, surrounded by a mountain of heavy crates.

Lucca looked up at the smaller ball which had started fly down from above. "That thing must be able to amplify beams from the main robot," she said. "If we can take that out, we might stand a better chance against the main body."

"But how can we take out the big guy?" asked Marle.

Lucca looked around the giant warehouse, concentrating on the labels of the crates. "There must be something other than food in this giant storage facility," she said. "If we can find some sort of armor-piercing explosive and get it on the main body, we can take it out."

"Okay," said Marle. "I'll take out the little guy while you guys find a bomb!"

"Roger! Here's my rifle," said Lucca. She handed the princess the laser gun. "Good luck!" With that the young genius and the boy took off into the maze of crates, leaving Marle to take on the advancing ball.

She turned around and saw that the ball was about twenty feet away and closing in. She ran behind a crate and hunkered down.

The girl peered up from behind the crate, looking for the advancing ball. She spotted it floating around by a crate ten feet away. She raised the rifle over the edge of the crate and lined up the sight with the robot.

"See ya later," she whispered. The princess pulled the trigger.

The robot whirred around and floated high above, out of range of the beam. The blast crashed into the crate, causing it to explode.

"Damn it!" she yelled. She stood up from behind the crate and scanned the skies for the ball.

A red beam struck the crate she was hiding behind. "Yikes!" she yelled out. The robot was closing in on her fast. She shouldered her rifle and dashed as far away from it as she could.

Far across the warehouse, Crono and Lucca stood before a ten-foot tall crate. On the bottom of it, there was a spray-painted label. The girl bent down to read it. "TST-94 Plasma Explosive Cartridges."

Crono smiled. He brought out his sword. With a moment to concentrate his strength, he slashed viciously at the box and broke through the wood of the crate. He struck again, widening the hole and splintering the wood.

"That's good, Crono," said Lucca. She stepped through the hole and sorted through the black cartridges bound up in bundles within. She gathered some in her arms and gave them to Crono.

"Okay, let's get back to the main body and plant them inside it!"

Marle sprinted through the aisle created by the crates. She dodged the blasts from the robot that was still pursuing her.

She looked behind at the floating ball, relentlessly coming after her. Its red eye glowed with a fury. Its lights flashed rapidly.

Suddenly the princess tripped on something. She fell to the ground and smacked her knees. She looked up and watched as the robot soared over her, unable to stop in time to shoot her.

The girl smiled and picked up her rifle. She took aim and squeezed the trigger.

A red blast shot out from the barrel and cut straight through the robot. It fell to the ground and exploded, throwing bits of metal everywhere.

"Got him!" she shouted.

"Good job, Marle!" said a voice.

The princess stood up and looked at the two figures running out of the darkness. One was carrying a handful of black boxes. The other was carrying a flashlight.

"I'm glad to see you guys!" said Marle.

"Seems you took care of our little friend," said Lucca.

An explosion shook the surrounding crates. The trio was thrown head over heels into another crate. They looked up and saw that the large robot had torn apart the catwalk and was coming towards them slowly.

"Okay, Crono, see if you can get into the underbelly of that thing," said Lucca. "Plant a cartridge and we should be able to chip off a decent portion of its armor so we can take it out with the rifle."

The boy nodded and took three cartridges, then ran off into the darkness.

Crono ran through the aisles of crates, trying not to make much noise as the giant robot beared down on the two girls. He circled around the warehouse and got behind the behemoth.

The robot was passing by a stack of crates about fifteen feet high. If the boy could climb the crates then slip under the armor plating and plant a cartridge or two, he could knock off a good chunk of it and set it up for a shot from Lucca.

He climbed up the boxes, careful not to be detected. He got to the top one, then tucked the bombs in his pocket. The robot was passing by, making a low rumbling sound. He looked at the underbelly of it and saw a metal bar that protruded from it.

Smiling, Crono leapt off of the box and caught the bar with his hands. The robot gave off an unbearable amount of heat, making it hard for the boy to concentrate.

"Hurry, Crono!" shouted Marle.

The boy's face grew determined. He opened up his pocket and pulled out a cartridge. He stuck it to a support beam that was attached the armor plating. He climbed around inside it, then placed another one at another support beam. Finally, he activated the third cartridge and put it on the third beam.

Crono smiled and let go of the bar. He dropped to the warehouse floor below and looked at Lucca and Marle. He waved his hands rapidly, motioning for the two of them to get as far away as possible.

They nodded then ducked behind another crate as the robot warmed up for another laser shot. It aimed directly at the large box. Its optical sensors locked on, and its eye grew red.

The boy looked at his watch, then ran in the opposite direction as far as he could and threw himself on the ground. He covered his ears, then turned around to face the giant monster which was about to blow.

Its optical sensors became scrambled as a series of gigantic explosions erupted underneath the behemoth's metal shell. The support rods broke, and the armor shattered into pieces.

The two girls popped up from behind the crate. They looked at the giant robot. It was now stripped of its bulky armor, and had become a collection of loose wires and support rods, as well as one remaining optical lense.

Lucca smiled. She picked up the rifle and lined up the sight with the top of the robot. "I'll take care of this one," she said. She pulled the trigger. An intense beam shot out and hit the top of the mechanical monster. She lowered the height of the rifle, dragging the beam right down the center of the creature. She finally finished, and had effectively cut it in half.

It wobbled a bit. Several wires inside of it began to split. Metal support rods snapped. The eye lense fractured. There was a loud groaning sound.

"Move!" shouted Lucca. Marle, the young genius, and the boy each ran in separate directions towards the walls.

The robot fell apart. Opposite ends of it crashed into the wooden crates. The sides exploded into a ball of fire, creating an inferno out of the room. The kick of the blast sent the three warriors to the far ends of the warehouse.

An automatic sprinkler high above the catwalks kicked in. A shower of water doused the fire below, cooling off the heated room.

Crono looked up from behind his crate. Marle and Lucca looked up from behind theirs. They walked out into the center of the room, where the robot had fallen apart. "Looks like we got him good," said Lucca.

The boy looked around the room at the few remaining crates. Most of the labels read weapons or building supplies. None of them read food.

"I think we took out the food stores," said Marle.

Lucca looked up from the wreckage of the robot. Indeed, many of the crates had been toasted in the explosion. Most of the remaining ones had nothing to do with food.

"Oh great," said the young genius. "I guess we've screwed up now."

Crono bent over and picked a handful of small objects off of the ground. He held them in his palm, surveying them. He walked over to Lucca and tapped her shoulder.

The girl turned around and looked at what the boy held in his palm. She adjusted her glasses.


The boy nodded.

"Well, I think it's the best we could get for Doan and the others," said Marle.

"Okay, let's get out of here," said Lucca.

"Wait," said the princess. "What about that other room that we couldn't get into?"

The other girl looked at her. "Oh yeah, that's right. But we don't know the password."

Crono whistled. They turned and looked at him. He was holding up a piece of white paper with something written on it. They walked over to him and took it.

"To the one who finds this piece of paper, let it be known that the Guardian Robot is deadly," read Marle. Duh, she thought. "Get out as quickly as possible. The next room which is locked houses a satellite-linked computer. The password to get in is Bangor."

Lucca took the paper and read it over. She looked up at the other two. "If we can get into the computer room, we can hack into the satellite and find another gate!"

"Let's get going then!" said Marle.

The trio returned to the dark room with the computer console and the locked door. It still had a great deal of dust floating through the air. Lucca walked over to the computer console and looked over the buttons.

"Let's try the password," she said. Her fingers danced across the keyboard as she typed in Bangor. When she was finished, she hit the red button on the right. There was a ringing sound, and then the door swung open with a loud hiss. A blast of pressurized air came out.

"C'mon," said Marle, "Let's check it out!"

The three of them walked into the newly opened room. It was a far cry from the size of the warehouse. In the middle of this room, there was a huge computer screen. A keyboard was below it, along with several multi-colored switches.

Lucca walked over to the keyboard and turned the computer on. It whirred to life, and a command menu came up. The genius jumped with joy.

"Hey, we can probably find out where another gate is in this time frame!" she said.

"Lucca, your brilliant!" said Marle.

Crono stood by and watched the huge computer screen as he scratched his chin. Lucca pressed a few buttons, and a huge image of the globe popped up. It spun around for awhile, showing the continents of the planet.

Lucca tapped a few more buttons. "Search for space-time continuum disturbances," she said. The computer screen highlighted a potion of the map. An arrow pointed down, and a caption spilled out under it.

"The place we're looking for is the Proto Dome," she said. "It's across a really big highway, so we'll have to get moving."

Marle walked over to the console, examining the switches. She ran her hands across them. "What does this one do?" she asked, flipping a switch.

The image of the globe disappeared. It was replaced with a large text caption. "Visual Record of the Day of Lavos, 1999 A.D."

"1999 A.D.? Day of Lavos?" said Lucca.

The caption vanished, and the globe reappeared. The screen focused in on a point somewhere in the ocean. Several graphs were on the side of the display.

"What is this?" asked Marle.

The screen fizzled with static. The graphs on the side of the display went haywire. They rapidly rose and fell. A loud buzzing noise sounded.

Next, the ocean seemed to part. A column of steam shot up into the air. Then a thick redness stained the blue sea. The red became orange, then yellow, then white. Chunks of rock where hurled into the air. Lava spewed everywhere.

An object appeared out of the white hole in the ocean. It was covered with sharp thorns all over. Huge blasts of fire and energy shot from inside it. A small eye could be seen at the very bottom of the pin-cushion-like object.

The blasts of fire shot from the object rained down across the land. Cities fell like dominos. Oceans boiled. Mountains turned to dust. Green forests became red fields of destruction. The earth seemed to become a vision of hell.

Crono, Marle, and Lucca each took a step back as the display fizzled out. Their minds were filled with the vivid destruction of the planet.

"W-what was that thing?" asked Marle.

"Lavos," she said. "It must have made the world what it is now. The apocalypse."

Crono shook his head. That monster had unbelievable power. It had turned the planet into dust.

"No," said Marle as she sunk to her knees. "This can't be how it all ends! Our culture, our lives! All burned up in a blast of fire?"

She stood up and looked at the display, then turned to her friends.

"I know what we have to do," she said. She looked at her friends with a passion. "We must go back and change history. Like Crono did when he rescued Leene. We have to beat Lavos and stop the world from being erased. We must change the fate of the world before it is too late. Only we have the power to do it." She turned to the boy. "Right?"

Crono nodded and looked at the display screen, then back at Lucca and Marle. His eyes narrowed with a desire. He would destroy this Lavos at all costs. He would go to any time, any place, to prevent the destruction that was bound to happened.

The boy clenched his fist and held it out. Marle nodded and put her hand on top of it, then turned to Lucca. "Are you in?"

The girl adjusted her glasses and looked at the two of them. She held her hand out and put it on top of the others'. "Count me in."

The display flashed back to life. They turned around, and an entire menu of information on Lavos. Marle looked it over, then saw an interesting one. "Lucca, check the one that says 'Recorded Seismograph Readings Dating Back to 450 A.D."

Lucca looked at the princess lopsidedly. "Um, okay," she said, surprised that Marle even knew what a seismograph was. She turned back to the control panel and typed in a few things. A long list of dates popped up. Marle looked them over.

"There!" she shouted. "There's a big one!"

Lucca looked up at the screen. "600 A.D., near what used to be Magus's castle..."

Crono snapped to attention.

"I know what he's thinking!" shouted Marle. "Magus must have created Lavos! When he used up a lot of energy to make it, it had a large seismographic reading. We have to go back to 600 A.D. and defeat Magus. That way, if we beat him, we'll prevent Lavos from ever being born!"

Lucca looked at the girl. "Right!" she said. "Let's get out of this place and find that gate!"

In the upper floor of the Arris Shelter, the group of refugees sat sulking in the darkness. Doan sat on the cold metal floor, leaning on his cane. He looked at the other survivors, sleeping quietly on the floor. Some were mumbling to themselves.

"What was that?" said one of the people.

A noise echoed up from the basement. The survivors stood up and looked down the stairs. Three armor-wearing figures were ascending towards the upper floor. One carried a rifle, one carried a crossbow, and one wore a sword.

"You made it!" shouted Doan.

Crono, Marle, and Lucca stood in front of the old man. "Yeah, we sure did," said Marle. "That robot was pretty tough to take out."

"What did you find?" said the old man, ignoring the princess's comment.

"Just these," said Lucca.

Crono held out his hand, revealing the small group of seeds that he had found in the warehouse.

Doan surveyed them with a confused face.

"Never mind those, where's the food?" asked an impatient survivor.

"This is all that was left," said Lucca. "When we took out the robot, it destroyed half of the warehouse."

"Seeds..." said Doan.

"You don't know how long the rations will last," said Marle. "These seeds may be your only hope!"

The old man took his eyes off of the seeds in Crono's palm. He looked at the beautiful young princess. "You're strange," he said. "So young, and full of hope... Yes, that is what we need. Hope. We'll try growing the seeds."

A small girl nearby stood up and walked over to the old man. She looked at the seeds in Crono's palm. "What are those?" she asked.

"Those just may be our future..." said the old man.

Crono dropped the seeds in Doan's outstretched hand. He took them close and observed them.

"Doan, sir," said Lucca, "how can we get to the Proto Dome?"

The man looked up from his newfound treasure. "Ah, the Proto Dome," he said. "It is a long way from here, but by jetbike it will take only a few minutes. Here, take this with you."

He reached deep into his pockets and pulled out a rectangular plastic card. He handed it to the young scientist. "It's a key to the jetbike we keep out back. Use it wisely, but watch out for renegade robots."

Lucca took the card and put it in her satchel. "Thank you, old man."

"Good luck in your quest, and thank you for all you've done."

The three of them bowed their head, and they opened the heavy door to the bleak outside world. Doan closed the door behind them, then turned and looked at his people. "Hope..."

The crumbling ruins of the city was just as bleak as when they had first entered the Arris Shelter. Fierce winds blew across the rough, rocky land. The sky was just as grey, and no sunlight cut through them.

Crono led the party around the back of the shelter. Amidst the rubble, a blue fin stuck out from behind the chunks of concrete. The boy walked over to it and dragged some of the heavy rocks off the strange object.

The others pitched in, doing what they could. When all the rubble had been moved, a long, blue, streamlined rocket-type car sat before them. A large nozzle stuck out from the back of it, suggesting a strong amount of thrust.

"Wow, what a beaut," said Lucca. She rubbed her hands over it. "Let's get going, I want to see what this hot rod can do!"

Crono nodded. He jumped in the driver's seat and took the card from Lucca. He put it in the ignition. A ping came from inside, and a green light flashed. "It still works!" exclaimed Marle as she jumped in the back seat with Lucca.

The boy smiled. He felt like he had a new toy to play with. He eased onto the accelerator. A giant flare erupted from the engine in the back. The jet bike slowly moved forward over the piles of rubble and onto the paved highway. Crono turned the bike to face the direction of the Proto Dome.

"Hit it!" said Lucca.

"Not so fast!" said a voice.

There was a nearby sound of an engine running. Crono looked around, then at the top of a nearby rubble pile. On top of it stood a strange robot. It seemed humanoid, but had a metal face with sunglasses and a mohawk. It had tires instead of feet, and on its back were two massive wheels, complete with a set of exhaust pipes.

"My name is Johnny B. Badd, and I own this highway," said the robot. "You can cross, but only if you are brave enough to race me."

Crono looked at him and smiled. He revved up the engine.

"Sounds like a challenge to me, scum!" said the robot. He flipped around so he could ride down the pile of rubble on his wheels. He pulled up next to the jet bike. "Let's drag!"

The robot took off first, streaking down the highway. It spewed a cloud of black smoke as it went, seemingly cutting off Crono's vision. A sneer crossed his face. He pushed the pedal all the way down.

The engine in the back flared up. The jet bike lurched forth at an incredible speed. The Arris Shelter quickly became far behind the three warriors. The rubble on either side of the highway flew past at an incredible speed. The wreckage blurred together. The bike zoomed up to par with Johnny.

The robot looked at the jet bike and smiled. "You can't keep up with me!" He increased his speed, pulling directly in front of the bike. Crono tried to bump him, but to no avail.

Johnny laughed, moving back and forth to prevent the bike from getting ahead. The smoke washed over the trio, who struggled to breathe.

Lucca stood up and yelled in the boy's ear. "Crono, try to bump him ahead, then pull aside of him and try to push him into the rubble!"

The boy nodded and hit the boosters. The bike lurched forward and into the back of the robot. It lurched forward, propelled by the impact. Crono pulled hard to the left and out of the smoke that had been choking them.

"Get aside of him, Crono!" shouted Marle.

The boy hit the boosters again and got alongside of Johnny. The robot looked over at them. "Nice try, kids," he said. "But you'll have to do better than that!"

A set of spikes extended from Johnny's wheels. They were razor sharp and made of titanium. The robot swerved right to collide with the jet bike. Its spikes dug deep into the side of the rocket-like car.

The occupants of the bike were shaken. "Crono, he's trying to get rid of us!" shouted Marle.

Crono stepped harder on the accelerator. Eventually the spikes broke free of the armor, sending Johnny into a spin.

"Aghh!" said the hot-rod robot. He revved up again and chased after the jet bike.

"He's still coming, Crono!" said Lucca. "We have to do something!"

The boy looked over his shoulder. Indeed the robot was gaining speed again and was almost upon them. Something had to be done.

He motioned for Lucca to take the controls. "What? I don't know how to drive this thing!" Without acknowledging her, Crono got out of the seat. Lucca hopped up to the front and tried to control the massive rocket.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "Are you crazy?"

He climbed to the back of the bike, far enough so he could see Johnny approaching. He withdrew his sword and concentrated on the incoming robot.

Johnny looked at the boy with surprise. "What is that crazy kid doing?"

Crono leapt from the back of the bike and grabbed onto the robot's neck. Johnny's eyes widened. "Get off of me! You'll kill us both!"

The boy smiled and held out his sword. He managed to balance himself enough so he could stand on the back of the robot. Johnny swerved back and forth to try and knock him off. "You idiot!"

Crono lost his balance and held his sword downward so he could catch on something. The sword found its mark and buried itself in one of the tires. The boy was thrown from the robot, and Johnny lost control as he tumbled over himself.

He stood up and picked the steel sword out of his tire. He held it up and tossed it aside. Crono knelt down thirty feet back.

"So, you think you can mess with Johnny B. Badd and get away with it, kid?" said the robot. He flipped over and landed on his tires. He revved up and concentrated on the boy. "Time to die, kiddo!"

Some invisible force tossed Johnny aside into a rubble pile. He looked up and saw a blue blur streaking down the highway towards the kid. "What?"

Lucca slowed the rocket car down and pulled the boy aboard. "Quick, we've gotta make some distance before he recovers!"

The boy nodded. Lucca stepped on the accelerator. The rocket car surged with energy and zoomed up the highway towards the Proto Dome.

"Not on my highway!" shouted Johnny. He flipped back into driving position and flew down the highway to catch up with them.

Marle looked over her shoulder. The unshakable robot was still coming after them. "Lucca, we've gotta stop this guy!"

Lucca looked in the rear view mirror and saw the motorcycle-like robot closing in. "You're right. Hang on guys, this may be a little risky but I know how to take care of him!"

Johnny smiled. He was but ten feet away from the rocket car. "Time to die, boys and girls," he said. A secret compartment opened on his back. Two stainless-steel laser cannons slowly unfolded. A low hum came from within the robot. His optical sensors became a targeting sight. It converged on the jet bike. A light flashed. "Locked on!"

"Now!" shouted Lucca.

She hit the breaks. Two large plates unfolded in the back of the jet bike, slowing it down. Johnny sped up, but ran right into the flame that propelled the rocket car. The fuel inside of him caught fire.

Johnny tumbled over and over. He became a ball of blazing fire. Lucca looked back. Eventually, the robot impacted on the pavement and exploded brilliantly. Bits of metal were thrown everywhere, and the highway was blackened.

"Woohoo!" shouted Lucca. "Scratch another one!"

"Good job," said Marle.

Crono smiled his approval of the young genius's ingenuity.

A bubble-like projection slowly appeared over the horizon. At its base was a bluish structure. Several short buildings could be seen inside.

"That must be the Proto Dome," said Marle.

"Okay, let's slow down and take a look," said Lucca.

Crono nodded. The jet bike slowly decelerated along the highway. It came to a complete stop outside of the dome. A large metal doorway lay blasted open, leaving access to the inside.

The trio hopped out of the car. The wind blew even fiercer on this part of the continent. A low rumble came from the sky, and a flash of lightning appeared in the clouds. A small tornado of dust appeared to the east.

"Guess we had better go in," said Marle.

The three warriors walked through the open door into a dark and spacious chamber. Computer parts were scattered all over the floor. Bits of metal and junk were everywhere. A low, grumbling voice came from somewhere within.

"Hello?" said Lucca.

No reply came from the darkness.

Marle switched on her flashlight. The halogen beam cast a circle of light on the wall. She shined it around. The Dome seemed to have the same decor as the Arris Shelter.

"Weeeeeeeeeeeelllllcome!" said a voice.

Crono turned and looked in the direction the voice came from. The princess shined her flashlight into the darkness. Its beam fell upon a lone man standing there. He wore purple robes and a strange turban-like hat. A scarf was draped over his shoulder, and he had a long, white beard.

"W-who are you?" asked Lucca.

"Why, I am Belthasar," said the man in a strange tone. "I own this Dome, which I call the Keeper's Dome. Do you like it?"

"Um, yeah," said Lucca. "So this isn't the Proto Dome?"

"Oh my nononononononono!" said Belthasar. "This is my Dome. I own it. I call it the Keeper's Dome. I was at the Proto Dome once. Lousy place. Ugh. But now I am here, at this Dome. I own it. I call it..."

"Yeah, the Keeper's Dome," said Lucca. She was getting a bit annoyed at this old man repeating himself. Perhaps his isolation led to his insanity.

"Oh! Did you see my inventions?" asked the man.

"Um, no," said Marle.

"Oh you must go see them! I created the Ocean Palace and the Blackbird. Spectacular machines they are!"

"Right..." said Lucca.

A large blue creature walked out from behind the old man. It was as tall as he was, and had long, slender, blue arms. Its head was bulbous, and had dotted eyes. Its legs were short, and it had a green mohawk. "Nu..." it said. "Oh, master, what shall I do with the back storeroom?"

The old man looked down at the creature. "Oh, you shall handle it from now on! I just wanted to see people before you took over!"

The creature nodded and walked into the darkness. Marle shined the light on it. The creature walked to a heavy metal door engraved with a strange crest. It raised some sort of object to the crested door. With a whoosh, the door opened, and the monster walked in.

"Now how do we get to the Proto Dome?" asked Lucca.

Marle shined the light on the old man. "Ah, yes," he said. "This highway ends shortly. When you reach the end, bear East. There you will find the Proto Dome."

"Thanks," said Marle.

"Let's leave this guy alone," said Lucca.

Crono motioned for the trio to exit and get back in the rocket-car.

After another half-hour of traveling, the group of warriors came upon the Proto Dome. It was shaped similar to the Keeper's Dome, but it was a bit smaller.

"Okay, guys," said Lucca. "Let's go inside and find that gate!"

Crono led the way inside the Dome. Marle followed, switching on her flashlight. Lucca brought up the rear, carrying her laser rifle.

The interior of the Proto Dome was pitch black. Marle shined the light back and forth, trying to find some sign of the gate. Her beam came to rest upon a number of objects, including computer screens, scrap metal, and crates.

Lucca pulled out her gate key. She held it high and waved it around. It buzzed strongest when she pointed to the back of the Dome.

"Marle, shine the light towards the back."

The princess aimed the beam towards the back wall. She revealed a large, heavy metal door. Lucca walked up to it with her key. She waved it around, and discovered that the gate must be behind the door. She looked at the wall. There was a red button connected to the door.

"Gate, here we come!"

She pushed the button, but nothing happened.

Lucca cursed several times. "Why do we always have to get stuck behind a door?"

Marle shined the light around the room again. She waved it back and forth, trying to find something of interest. Some large object came into the light.

"Wow!" she exclaimed. "What's that?"

"Huh?" asked Lucca. Crono took his attention away from the door and looked at the new object. It had a large assortment of wires and tubes protruding from it. It seemed to have several rusted appendages.

Lucca walked over to it and began to probe it. She knelt down and fiddled with its switches. She pulled apart its wires and looked inside. "Wow, I can't believe it!"

"What?" asked Marle.

"It's a humanoid robot!" said Lucca. "And I think I can fix it!"

Marle took a step back. "Are you nuts? First we fought that guy in the basement of the Arris Shelter, then we took on that motorcycle guy, and now you want to fix this one up? He'll attack us!"

Lucca lowered her head and closed her eyes. "No it won't. Machines aren't capable of evil. Only humans make them do bad things. The robots we fought went haywire because of the widespread destruction."

Marle put a hand on her shoulder. "You pity them, don't you, Lucca?"

The young genius stood up and shook her head. She wanted space to work. "Just let me get to work, okay? If we can get it online, it might be able to help us crack open the door or at least find some way to manually open it."

"Okay, Lucca." Marle went over and laid down on the floor to take a nap. Crono stretched his arms and looked at the beautiful girl. He could not believe that he had met her just a few days ago, and she was now traveling with him through time. He only wished that she would realized he liked her...

The boy looked at her again and realized how tired she must have been. He looked at his watch. It was two in the morning by Guardia standard time. He had been up since six the morning Lucca cracked him out of the slammer. He shook his head and laid down on the cold metal floor. In five minutes he was fast asleep.

"Hey, wake up guys!"

The darkness was split.

"C'mon, you guys have to see this!"

Crono's eyes readjusted to the darkness. It wasn't his mom's voice calling him...

"Crono you lazy slob, get up and see this!"

"What are you yelling about Lucca?" asked Marle, sleepily.

The boy sat up and looked at Lucca. She was standing next to a huge contraption of some sort. It stood five feet tall, and was made entirely out of metal. It had two bluish eye sensors. A steel grating covered its mouth area. A large fuel tank was on its back, along with a small exhaust pipe. Its feet were large and cumbersome, and its left hand was a laser cannon.

"Good morning," said Marle to the robot.

"M-morning, mistress," said the robot in a metallic voice. "What is your command?"

Marle looked at it strangely. "I don't have a command! And I'm not your mistress. I'm Marle! This is Crono," she said, pointing to the boy, "and this is Lucca, who fixed you!" she said as she gestured towards the girl with the purple hair and the helmet.

The robot turned its head and looked at Lucca. "Understood. Madam Lucca fixed me."

"Just Lucca will do."

"Impossible," said the robot. "That would be rude."

"Look, I hate formal titles, don't you Marle?"

"Do you know who you're talking to?" asked the blonde-haired girl.

Lucca remembered she was a princess who hated royal life. "See?"

"Understood, Lucca," said the robot.

"You got it!" she shouted. "Now what's your name?"

"My serial number is R-66Y."


"No, that won't do," said Marle. "I think Robo sounds better."

"I am Robo." He looked around the Dome. "There is no other life in here. How is it that you survived?"

"We came through a time warp from the year 1000 A.D.," said Lucca. "But to get back to our time, we need to crack open that door there." She pointed to the heavy door ahead. "But there's no power in this Dome."

Robo scanned the door. "There is a power coupling in the wall. If we travel north to the factory, we can take a power cell from the reactor and open the door here."

"Okay, that sounds like a plan," said Lucca. "Marle, you, Crono, and Robo here go to the factory and get the power cells. I'll stay here and open up the power coupling by the time you get back."

"Okay," said Marle. "Let's go, Crono!"

The boy smiled. He led the way out of the Dome and started up the rocket car.

The wind whipped the warriors violently as they traveled across the barren plain towards the northern factory. The dust storms increased in strength, blowing sand in the heroes' eyes.

"There it is!" shouted Marle.

Crono looked over the windshield The factory was like a giant junkyard. A huge crane stood atop the central building. A chain-link fence surrounded the perimeter. Huge chunks of scrap metal were scattered throughout the yard.

"It looks like this place survived Lavos's scourge," said Marle. "Pull up to the main building, Crono."

The boy nodded and increased the thrust. The rocket bike streaked through the junk yard and came to a stop outside of the main building. Robo and Marle jumped out of the back. Crono got out and looked for a switch to the door.

"There is no switch," said Robo. "Allow me."

He raised his laser arm and started to melt the concrete along the sides of the door. It melted quickly, and soon the obstacle toppled inward.

"That's amazing," said Marle.

Crono led the way inside the factory. Unlike the other places they had visited, this was well lit. Sounds of heavy machinery could be heard coming from other rooms. The first one they entered was small. A large computer screen was aside of a laser beam that crossed a conveyer belt, preventing a person from gaining access inside the factory.

"How do we shut off the laser beam?" asked Marle.

"I will take care of it," said Robo. He walked up to the computer screen and scanned it with his sensors. He then pushed a button at the bottom of the screen. The computer hummed to life, and a menu popped up. It was not in any language either Crono or Marle could read. Robo sputtered out some kind of buzzing noise.

The computer ran through a series of menus. Its screen then went blank, and the laser beam that guarded the conveyer belt disappeared.

Crono walked onto the belt and motioned for the rest of the party to follow. Marle and Robo joined him, and the belt took them down a long corridor to another room. Inside this room, there was a green flashing spot in the floor. Robo pointed to it. "That is the elevator. It will take us to the bottom floor, where we can get the power cell from the reactor."

"Let's go then!" said Marle. She walked across the room to the elevator.

A flash of silver leapt in front of her eyes. She nearly fell over. She looked up and saw a strange robot standing in front of her.

It had silver armor coating, a bulbous head, four legs, and a single eye. It hummed angrily and focused its eye on Marle.

She rolled out of the way and joined Crono and Robo. The robot shot out a red laser beam and struck the spot where Marle had just been. It then focused its attention on the others.

Robo raised his laser cannon and shot a beam at the bug-like creature. The robot jumped over the beam and landed right in front of the trio, then shot Crono right in the chest.

He was thrown against the wall with a large amount of force. The armor protected him, however. With a rage, he stood up and withdrew his sword. The bug robot concentrated on him and fired. Crono dodged the shot. He ran to the robot and drove his sword deep into its back.

It hummed, then short circuited and collapsed to the floor. Marle looked at it, short of breath. "What was that?" she asked.

"A Debug guard," said Robo. "Designed to protect the factory." He scanned the surrounding area. "We had better head for lower ground before more enemies arrive."

Crono nodded and stepped on the green spot in the floor. Marle and Robo joined him, and the robot turned around and hit a switch in the wall. The floor began to move steadily downwards to the depths below.

After a fifty foot decent, the trio finally made it to the reactor floor of the factory. They got off the elevator. To their left was an escape ladder. Directly in front of them was a heavy door, next to a blank computer screen.

"I will take care of this," said Robo. He walked up to the screen and turned it on. A familiar display of menus popped up. The robot sputtered the strange code of buzzes, and the computer removed the menus.

The heavy metal door next to the computer swung open. A gust of pressurized air shot out. "Good job, Robo," said Marle.

"Thank you," he said as he led through the door.

The reactor room was almost as big as the warehouse at the Arris Shelter. A single catwalk led to the large power conduit in the middle, which was glowing with green energy. A network of wires were stretched out below.

"Stay here," said Robo. "The radiation level is deadly to humans."

Crono and Marle stood by the door as the robot walked down the catwalk. He reached the conduit and looked up at it.

It stretched thirty feet above to the ceiling. At the level he was standing at, Robo could see inside the core. A ring of six cells glowed brilliantly, providing power for the factory.

Robo leapt over the railing of the catwalk and clung onto the reactor. He hoisted himself up and looked at the power cells.

Marle watched nervously, worrying if the robot would be okay.

He reached for one of the cells. His hand conformed around it, and he slowly brought it up out of its socket. It still glowed brightly, giving off a high level of energy.

"I have it!" he exclaimed.

A loud alarm rang out. Crono and Marle looked up at the ceiling. Several hatches were popping open. Out of each one came a green ball robot like the one at the Arris Shelter.

"Robo! C'mon, let's get out of here!"

The robot leapt off of the reactor core and back onto the catwalk. He looked up at the swarm of green balls that were beginning to get into formation.

"Go to the escape ladder in the next room!" said Robo.

Crono and Marle turned and ran through the door. Robo looked up at the swarm and raised his laser cannon. He shot off several quick bursts of energy, taking down three or four of the green robots.

He held tight to the power cell and dashed down the catwalk as fast as mechanically possible. The robot swarm came after him, firing blasts of red lasers as he tried to escape.

Marle peeked her head out from the door. "C'mon, Robo! Hurry!"

The robot sprinted through the door. He dropped the power cell and turned to look at the large computer screen. He repeated his series of buzzes, and the reactor door closed, trapping the swarm of angry green robots inside.

"Now, up the escape ladder," he said.

Crono climbed the rungs, followed by Marle and Robo, who was still carrying the power cell.

They reached the first floor of the factory and ended up in the room where they had taken care of the Debugger. Alarms were still screeching loudly. Robo looked at the conveyer belt that would take them back to the room with the first computer. "Quickly, across the conveyer belt and we can exit the factory."

Crono withdrew his sword and dashed across it. Marle pulled out her crossbow and Robo charged up his cannon. They prepared for trouble in the other room.

As they got off of the conveyer belt, they looked at the melted door. Standing in front of it were three purple robots, each one identical to Robo. They looked at the trio with contempt.

"R66-Y," said one of them in a metallic voice, "eliminate these humans at once."

Robo looked at his counterparts. "No, these are my friends! Let us pass!"

"You are defective then."

"What? I'm a... defect?" Robo's computer brain became clogged with possibilities and questions. No... I can't be defective!

"Affirmative. Your true mission is to eliminate any trespasser."

"That was my mission?"

The middle robot walked up to Robo. He raised his cannon arm at his chest. "Eliminate these humans now, or else!"

"No!" said Robo. Defect or not, the humans had helped him.

Without further hesitation, a bright, blue beam shot out of the robot's cannon and sliced through Robo's chest. He sparked and sputtered, and his optical sensors slowly gave out. He fell to the ground with a metallic clang.

"Robo!" shouted Marle. She rushed over to her fallen comrade and looked at him. No life was in his circuits.

Crono withdrew his sword and looked at the trio of blue robots. An angry scowl crossed his face. Marle aimed her crossbow at the center one.

"Now to take care of the intruders," said one of the robots.

"Let's get 'em, Crono!" shouted Marle.

Wasting no time, Crono slashed viciously at the robot on the right. He cut through its circuits and motivators. In a flash of sparks, the robot fell to the floor.

The other two robots raised their cannons and fired. Marle dodged the shots and let loose with an arrow from her crossbow. It struck the chest of the left robot. It set off a shower of sparks and toppled over.

Crono stood next to Marle with his sword at the ready. The last remaining robot stood motionless, observing the two remaining warriors. Finally, he raised his laser arm and fired off several shots.

The bolts bounced off the two warriors' armor. The robot scanned them with its optical sensors. "Armor level too strong," it said. "Activate self destruct."

Marle's eyes widened. "No!"

Crono put his sword back in his sheath and grabbed the power cell with one hand. Marle grabbed Robo's wires and pulled his lifeless body past the remaining robot which was counting down to destruction.

"Help me, Crono!" she shouted.

He turned around and grabbed Robo's arm, pulling him out of the front door of the factory.

The robot inside reached zero. In a brilliant flash of light, he exploded, sending metal bits and red hot molten fragments into the air. Crono and Marle ducked to avoid the debris.

"That was close," she said. She looked down at the blank sensors on Robo's face. "Let's get him back to Lucca. Maybe she can fix him."

Crono nodded and threw the power cell in the back of the rocket car. He helped Marle lift the robot's body into the back seat, then helped her climb in. He took out his key and started it up, then turned it towards the South and hit the accelerator.

The Proto Dome was quiet, save for a few small snapping and hissing sounds. It was dark, except for a small light that hung over the stripped-down Robo. Marle and Crono were sleeping by the back door.

"Are you able to repair me?" asked the robot feebly.

"Shh... don't talk," said Lucca as she fiddled with the wires sticking out of his computer brain. "You took a good beating back there."

"Yes," he said. "Lucca, are you trying to save our world?"

The girl stopped what she was doing and rested her head for a second. "Yes, that's the plan," she replied. "I don't know if we stand a chance against this Lavos thing, but it has to be done." She looked up, then stopped repairing him for a second and looked into his optical sensors. "What are you going to do when I repair you?"

The robot's brain spat out a rapid stream of numbers. Humans are not supposed to ask this sort of question. "What do you mean, Lucca? I am a robot, and I serve no purpose but to protect that which I am assigned to protect."

Lucca stood up and walked over to a toolbox. She pulled out a wrench. "Well, Robo, you sure seem to think differently from your counterparts back at the factory," she said. "You're not a defect, you're unique. I think you have a higher purpose to serve mankind, not destroy it."

Robo's brain recorded the information and began to assimilate it. Unique...

"Crono, get up!"

Not again... he thought. The boy didn't want to have to be nagged, so he sat up and looked at Lucca. She stood next to a fully-functioning Robo.

"Lucca, you're incredible!" said a fully awake Marle.

"Yeah, and I hooked up the power cell to the door," she said. Crono and the princess turned around. A plate had been removed from the wall. A thick bundle of wires stuck out and were attached to the glowing orb Robo had removed from the factory power core.

Lucca walked up to the door switch and rubbed her hands together anxiously. "Open sesame," she said as she pushed the button.

The door hissed open.

"Yes!" said Marle. "Back to good old 1000 A.D.!"

Lucca turned around and looked at Robo, who was standing there watching everyone. "Well Robo, I guess this is goodbye."

The robot's optical sensors blinked. "Goodbye?"

"Yes, when you say so long to someone before you leave them," she replied.

Robo beeped in amusement. "Lucca, I would like to join you in your quest."


"After you told me that I am unique, I am convinced I could aid you in your quest to destroy Lavos. I would be honored to accompany you, Crono, and Marle."

The young genius adjusted her glasses to prevent her watery eyes from being noticed. She looked at the other two who were about to enter the next room. "Well guys, let's go. Lavos awaits us!"

Crono smiled and walked into the next room. It was small and dimly lit. Lucca brought out her key and held it in the air, then flicked a switch on it.

The air around them began to swirl. Particles of dust began to collect in the center of the room. A whooshing sound accompanied to vortex.

The gate sprang open. Its blue interior stretched the light in the room and sucked the dust inward. Crono motioned for Marle to go first. She led the way into the unknown and disappeared into the portal. Lucca went next. She dove right into the void. Robo slowly walked into the gate. The boy went last, somersaulting into the next time frame.

VI: The End of Time

The world around Marle materialized. It was white at first, pure and chaste white. She took a step forward, and the white left her. The sky was purple. There was no wind, and the temperature was fair.

She looked behind her. She had just stepped out of what appeared to be a pillar of light. Several other pillars of light were around her. The ground was made of cobblestone. There was an iron fence surrounding the perimeter of the collection of the pillars of light.

"Where is this?" she asked.

Lucca appeared next in the white pillar. She stepped out and was overcome with the same awe Marle was. "This isn't 1000 A.D."

Robo materialized in the pillar and stepped out. His optical sensors scanned the area. "What is going on?"

Crono appeared next. He stepped out of the pillar and looked at the place he was in. A confused expression crossed his face. He walked around the strange pillars of light, trying to figure out what they are.

A low snoring sound came from somewhere. He turned and looked around. Across what seemed to be a bridge stood a single lamppost. Below it sat a man in a brown hat and a brown trench-coat holding a cane, snoozing. He whistled to the party.

"What?" said Marle.

He pointed to the lamppost across the short bridge. She noticed the sleeping man below it. "Hey, look at that, guys!"

Lucca and Robo looked at the man. "Maybe he can help us out," she said.

"Let's find out!" said Robo.

The four warriors crossed the bridge and opened the metal gate to the square with the lamppost. Crono walked through first. Several feet away from the post was a small fountain. Across the square was a bucket-like object with a crystal inside it.

Lucca sampled some water from the spring. "Wow, this tastes great," she said. "I feel a lot refreshed."

Marle drank some too. "You're right Lucca. This is some sort of magic fountain or something."

Crono walked over to the sleeping man and tapped him on the shoulder. He stopped snoring and raised his hat. He had a grey mustache and deep grey eyes. He looked at the young boy, his brow furrowing for a second.

"Ah, more guests," he said. He stood up and brushed himself off, then picked up his cane and leaned on it.

"Excuse me," said Lucca, "but where are we?"

The man chuckled. Lucca's eyes narrowed. "This is the 'End of Time,' of course!"

"What?" asked Marle.

The old man cleared his throat. "Where are you from?" he asked.

"Lucca, Crono, and I are from 1000A.D.," said the princess.

"I'm from 2030 A.D.," said Robo.

The old man scratched his chin. "When more than three entities travel through a time warp, or a gate as you commonly call them, the Conservation of the Space-Time Continuum Theory states that they will all end up at the space-time coordinates of least resistance. Which is here." He fixed his hat and went on. "Disturbances in the space-time continuum are occurring far too often now these days. People are just popping up here whenever they please. Something is having a powerful effect on the fabric of time..."

"So in short, we have to leave some one here, or every time we go through a gate we'll end up here," said Lucca.

"In simple terms, yes," said the old man.

"Alone?" said Marle.

The old man nodded. "It's pretty boring here, but you can visit your friends whenever you like. All time periods connect here. But you must never travel in groups greater than three."

Lucca, Marle, and Robo turned to face Crono. "Who will stay?" asked Marle.

Crono scratched his chin. He looked at the three of them. Hating to decide between his friends, he pointed to the robot.

He nodded. "Don't worry," said Robo. "Robots have infinite patience."

Lucca nodded. "We'll visit you soon, Robo," she said.

"Now how to we get back to our own time?" asked the princess.

The old man turned and faced towards the area where the four warriors had entered the place. "You see those lovely pillars of light? Those connect you with different time eras. Just step into one of them and you will be whisked away to a different time. Once you use a gate, you can always use it to come back here." He turned and faced the bucket in the corner. "But stay away from that bucket, unless you have a desire to leave this mortal coil."

Crono nodded, then motioned for the two girls to follow him across the bridge.

"Hey, before you leave, check out the room behind me," said the old man.

The boy looked behind the lamppost. An old wooden door surrounded by a frame stood against the wall of the square. Lucca walked up to it and turned the knob. Marle followed her, and Crono went last.

Inside stood a small fluffy creature. It was about three feet tall and had big eyes and goats' horns. It faced the three warriors that had just entered its room.

"Hey," said the creature.

"You can talk?" asked Marle.

"Of course I can talk, blondie!" said the creature. "I'm Spekkio, the master of war and magic!"

Another confused expression crossed Lucca's face.

"How do I look to you? Strong or weak?" asked the monster.

"Why you're just a little..."

Crono interrupted Lucca by putting a hand on her shoulder. He shook his head.

"Hey, that kid with the punk hairdo is alright. Let me put it this way. If you're strong, I look strong. If you're weak, I look weak. Kid, you're strong of will!" The monster raised his stubby arms and continued. "That's why the old man let you through. Many, many years ago, there was a great kingdom in the sky. Magic powers flourished there. But in time, their magic powers brought about their own destruction. Only a wizard or two learned the secrets of magic and passed them down through time." He pointed to the three warriors. "But you have determination! Because of that I can give you magic powers! Not just magic, but everything are based on five forces: lightning, water, ice, fire, and shadow."

Spekkio's face twisted. "You, with the hairdo, you're lightning!" He raised his hoofed hand and aimed it at Crono. A bolt of electricity shot out and struck him. Instead of pain, Crono felt stronger. He looked around the small room and concentrated on a stone which had come loose from the floor.

He closed his eyes, and a flash of lightning erupted from the sky and struck the stone, sending it spinning into the air.

"Very good," said Spekkio. He turned to Lucca. "You with the goofy glasses, you're fire!"

"Hey, they aren't goofy!" she shouted.

He raised his hoofed hand at the young genius and let a blast of fire shoot out. It struck her. Lucca felt energized. She clenched her fist tightly, then opened it. A small orb of fire sat glowing in her palm. She winded up and swung it into the fence surrounding the room. It exploded, creating a brilliant flare.

Spekkio laughed. He turned to the princess. "You, with the ponytail, you are ice!"

"Ice? Cool!" said Marle.

He waved his hand and shot a blue beam at her. Marle flinched as it hit her. She felt a cool calm overcome her. She raised her arms over her head. A bright blue star formed between her hands, and she whipped it furiously at the small creature.

The ball struck Spekkio, and a thick coating of ice enveloped him. For a second, he was motionless inside the cube. Then he effortlessly melted it.

"Haha, very good!" said the goat-like creature. "You're ice abilities may also transfer over to healing magic."

Marle nodded.

"Okay boys and girls," said the creature. "You guys run along now and see what you can do with your new powers."

Crono closed the door to Spekkio's room. Marle and Lucca stretched out, feeling their new power within them.

"Well, well," said a voice.

They turned and looked at the old man standing by the lamppost. He continued. "People a long time ago enjoyed all such powers," he said. "Now I know you're itching to go back and forth through time with your new powers, but you must return to your own time. The Medina Village in 1000 A.D. will give you clues to how to defeat Magus, and therefore prevent that Lavos character from ever being created."

Lucca took a step back. She wondered how he knew about their quest. "How did you...?"

"I see a lot from this little point in time," said the old man. "Just go back to the Medina Village and find out about Magus."

"C'mon guys," said Marle. She led the way across the bridge to the group of light columns. There was one directly right of the column they had arrived from 2030 A.D. "This will probably take us to our time," she said. She closed her eyes and stepped in.

Crono ran after her and jumped into the column.

"Wait for me!" shouted Lucca. She dashed into the pillar and disappeared.

The old man looked at the robot. "You sure do have some energetic friends."

VII: Village of Magic

Many miles across the ocean, far from Truce Village and the Millennial Fair, lay the Medina Village. The houses were similar to any other town in the land. There was a town square, a hotel, and a shop. But there was one thing that separated this village from any other common village.

In a small house at the edge of town, two green-scaled monsters sat at the table eating their breakfast. They were similar to Magus's troops that patrolled the Doronado Mountains back in 600 A.D.

A strange noise came from the cupboard. One monster turned to the other. "Did you hear something?" he asked.

The other creature looked at him. "No..." he said.

He shrugged and stuck his fork into his pie.

With a loud crash, the doors of the cupboard swung open. Crono fell out of it and landed flat on his face on the floor. Marle leapt out next, followed by Lucca, who landed gracefully on her toes.

"Hey! What are you doing coming out of my cupboard?" shouted one of the monsters.

Crono looked at the house, then looked at the short green creature sitting at the table. He reached for his sword.

"Take it easy pal, don't chop me up," said the creature. Crono put his sword away when he realized the short green monster was not going to attack him.

"What is this place?" asked Lucca, gazing around at her surroundings.

"This is the Medina Village," said the creature. "It was started by the survivors of Magus's army over four hundred years ago. We honor the memory of the great Magus and keep his tradition alive."

"I see," said Marle.

The creature continued. "There's an old man on the outside of town. You may enjoy a chat with him."

"Thanks!" said the princess.

"That's another thing," he said. "I personally tolerate humans, but the other creatures in this village aren't fond of them. Watch your step."

Crono nodded and opened the door. Lucca walked outside with him, and Marle followed them.

Outside, the sun was shining brightly. Clouds were scarce in the sky. A few birds soared through the air, squawking away.

Crono looked around the village. Several familiar creatures were milling around. He recognized most of them. The half-woman half snakes were on patrol. Some more of the short green creatures that had clawed apart his back in the Doronado Mountains were there too. The tall snakes slithered upright through the glimmering sun. Last but not least, the fat, helmeted goon squad walked back and forth, looking for trouble.

"Looks like leftovers from good old Guardia chapel," said Lucca. The boy laughed. "I doubt they got any smarter in four hundred years either."

"Let's walk around town and see some interesting sights," said Marle.

Lucca led the way up the cobblestone street. The three warriors were careful not to make any eye contact with the creatures.

"Take a look at that," said Marle. She pointed ahead to the town square.

A statue of a man with long hair and a billowy cape stood on a pedestal. He bore a wicked-looking scythe and had his hand raised in the air like he was about to cast a magic spell.

"It's that statue of Magus we saw in the chapel!" shouted Lucca. She looked around the base of the statue. "And they still worship it."

Sure enough, a group of monsters were moving around the statue in a circle. They chanted an all-too familiar call. "Maaaaaaaagggggguuuuusssss..."

Crono shook his head and held his sword back. "You're right," said Lucca. "I don't wanna tangle with these guys again."

The boy nodded again and turned to Marle. "I take it that these some nasty creatures," she said. "After what we took on in the future, I agree that we shouldn't make it a point to stick out."

"Hey!" shouted a voice.

Crono turned around. Several of the fat creatures had spotted them. "Humans!"

"Let's run!" said Marle.

The trio ran down the street as fast as they could, dodging monsters right and left. They ran past all the familiar types of monsters, until they reached the edge of town. The grassy plain stretched before them.

"I can see the open plain! We're almost out of here!" said Lucca.

"Not so fast!" said a deep voice.

Lucca, Marle, and Crono stopped in their tracks. A rotund, green-scaled monster floated in their way. He wore long, white, flowing robes, and had a short tail.

"I am Ozzie VI, descendant of the great General Ozzie! As the mayor of this town, I will see to it that you humans are exterminated." He snapped his fingers.

The earth shook. A large, hulking creature wearing a heavy chest-plate walked out from behind a building. His muscles were the size of tree trunks, and he carried a heavy mace. He had but one eye, and wore an old warrior's helmet.

"Not another big sucker," said Marle.

"Crush these puny humans!" said Ozzie.

The monster stomped forward and held up his mace. He swung it wildly through the air, ready to bring it down on one of the trio.

"Look out, Crono!" shouted Lucca.

The boy withdrew his sword to strike the monster, but held it back for a second. He raised his hand in the air. A roll of thunder graced the clouds.

Without warning, a brilliant bolt of lightning arced through the sky and struck the creature's mace. The bolt traveled through its body, making it convulse.

A wisp of steam rose off of its body, and it fell backwards onto the ground.

"Good job, Crono!" shouted Lucca.

"My turn," said Marle.

Ozzie turned to face the trio. "What did you just..."

He trailed off as he saw Marle's hands rise over her head. Wind whipped her hair around, and a blue ball formed between her hands. She brought her arms down and cast the ball through the air.

The ball struck the large creature and formed a thick barrier of ice over him. He was frozen solid, unable to move.

"I get the next one," said Lucca, smiling.

The group crossed the endless green field towards the mountains by the ocean. Gulls flew over the bay, and the clouds seemed to increase in number as they neared the water.

As they got within a few miles, a large house appeared at the bottom of the mountain. It was two stories tall, and was coated in a red paint.

"That must be the old man's house," said Marle. "Let's check it out."

They walked up to the door and knocked on it. It opened wide, revealing a spacious interior. Many swords were mounted on the wall, as well as an assortment of spears and knives and other interesting weapons.

"May I help you?" said the old man who answered the door.

The princess and Crono recognized him instantly. "Hey, you're that guy from the Millennial Fair! Um... Melchior?" exclaimed Marle.

The old man squinted. "Ah yes, the young lady and the young lad I sold the iron sword to!" He gestured towards the inside of the house. "Come in, you're welcome in my home!"

Crono walked in first, followed by Marle and Lucca. They sat down on wooden chairs surrounding a wooden table. They relaxed in the seats after their long journey. Melchior browsed his collection of blades.

"Sir," said Lucca.

"Mhm?" said Melchior.

"Do you know anything about the medieval sorcerer, Magus?"

The old man shuddered at the name as he went through a collection of his swords. "Yes, why do you ask?"

"Just interested," she said. "Could you tell me the legend of him?"

The old man sat down in his chair. He laid his cane aside and looked at the three weary travelers. "Magus lived in the Middle Ages during the start of the Guardia Empire. The king did not appreciate having a warlock on the loose, so he was constantly battling back and forth with his troops, trying to find his secret lair."

Melchior pulled out his pipe and put a few pieces of tobacco in. He lit a match and set it to the pipe, then tasted its rich flavor. "A knight named Cyrus found a legendary sword named the Masamune. He went to face Magus, but never came back alive. The sword was lost over time. It was said to be the only weapon that could crack the warlock's dark magic spells and bring an end to his life."

Lucca nodded, absorbing the richness of the story. "What became of Magus?"

The old man shook his head. "Few people know," he said. "One night during 600 A.D. his castle seemed to disappear into a dark mass."

She nodded.

"But that is all in the past... Tell me, Crono, have you a need for a new sword?"

The boy nodded anxiously and withdrew the steel blade. It had been tarnished and nicked, and it was unfit for battle.

The old man stroked his beard as he surveyed it. "I think I have just what you're looking for," he said. He walked over to his collection of katanas hanging on the wall. He laid the saber down on his desk and withdrew a red one from the rack.

"This is a tempered katana," he said. "I'm sure it will come in handy in battle. It is far superior to your steel one."

He handed it to the boy. He swung it through the air in a mock strike. Crono reached in his pockets and pulled out a fistful of coins and deposited them on the old man's table.

Marle looked at him. "Is there any way we can get back to the Truce Village?"

The old man stroked his beard again in thought. "Hmm... In the mountains behind me is Heckran's cave," he said. "There is a fierce creature there who is impervious to physical attacks and is very difficult to defeat in battle. If you conquer him, you can travel through a whirlpool that takes you to the bay by Truce Village."

"Thanks," said Marle. She turned to the other two. "You guys ready to head out?"

They nodded, and Crono led the way out the door as he slid his new red katana into his sheath.

"Bye now! Come back again!" said Melchior.

The trio walked around the back of the house and headed towards the mountains, ready to face the beast of Heckran's cave.

The sun slowly began so sink over the ocean horizon. Beautiful shades of orange and red splashed across the sparkling water. A mirror-like projection of the sky spread across the sea.

The mountain was tall and had uneven terrain. Tall trees blocked out the sunlight from above. Leaves crunched beneath the three warriors' feet as they marched onward to find Heckran's cave and the whirlpool.

Crono hung back as Lucca and Marle walked ahead, talking softly about science and royal life. He longed to be with Marle. She was so beautiful, but she seemed so out of reach to a commoner like him. He was lucky he ran into her in the first place.

"So how long have you been interested in building inventions, Lucca?" asked Marle.

Lucca looked up at the sky. "Well, ever since something happened to my mother as a child, I devoted my life to building things," she said. "At first I made a few gizmos to make her life easier since she was crippled, but then I moved on to bigger and better things."

"Like the telepod, right?" asked Marle.

"Yeah, right," she replied. "So why do you hate royal life, Marle?"

Marle shook her head. "It's my father," she said. "Everything in the kingdom has to be run his way. I have no say in anything. I get pampered all day long, but I just kind of sit around. I got so sick of not doing anything I decided to get out. I went to the Millennial Fair because there was so much going on at the castle, what with the millennium celebrations and all, I could get out unnoticed. Then I ran into Crono, literally, and got taken back through time and realized how much of a boring life I had at the castle."

"I see," said Lucca.

"That kid really changed my life," she said. "Crono met me at just the right time at just the right place. Now we have the opportunity to change the course of history itself."

"Yeah, this is all kind of heavy and stuff, especially for a teenager," said Lucca.

"I know. But if we find this Masamune sword, we stand a chance against Magus. If we can get rid of him, we can erase Lavos from history."

"Well, odds are, the Masamune is back in the 600 A.D. era. If we can get to the Millennial Fair before dawn, we can get into the gate unnoticed."

"Sounds like a plan," said Marle. She looked ahead. Between a group of trees, a dark tunnel seemed to be eager to swallow them up. "That must be Heckran's Cave."

"Yeah," said Lucca. She reached into her satchel and removed her halogen flashlight. She flicked it on, and the cave became brightly illuminated.

Crono caught up with the party and looked into the dark cavern ahead. Several bats fluttered through the air. A collection of salamanders scuttled across the floor. The light reflected off all of the creatures' eyes, creating an eerie scene.

"Watch your step," said Lucca as she walked into the cave. Crono followed, and Marle stepped cautiously around the reptiles.

The bats screeched as the party worked deeper into the darkness. Huge stalactites hung from the ceiling like deadly daggers. A constant dripping could be heard throughout the cave. A shallow stream ran somewhere in the distance.

"Let's keep going," said Marle. They pressed on, past more creatures and obstacles. They continued on for what seemed to be hours.

Finally the cave opened up into a wide and spacious area. The roof stood many feet tall, and a pool of water lay in the center of the room. A whirlpool swung around rapidly in the center of the water.

"That's the whirlpool!" said Marle.

A loud groan came from somewhere in the room. Crono looked around and withdrew his sword. Lucca shined her flashlight back and forth, searching for the unseen enemy.

High above the lake was a ledge. Lucca pointed the beam of light at it. A large monster stood upright. It was six feet tall. On its head was a crown of spikes. It had huge claws and razor sharp teeth.

"Is that Heckran?" asked Marle.

The creature leapt off the ledge and dove into the water. It emerged on the other side of the lake, several feet from the group of warriors.

Crono rushed up to it. The monster swung with its claws but missed him. The boy slashed viciously at it. Each time he struck, the scales vibrated, and a hallow clank rang out across the cave.

Heckran raised its claw and dropped it down upon the boy. Crono flew across the cave and landed on his back. He stared up at the ceiling and could almost count stars.

"Crono!" said Marle. "Melchior said that Heckran is impervious to physical attacks! We'll have to use our magic powers!"

Lucca looked at the monster which was slowly moving towards them. It opened its mouth wide and let a blast of fire out. She rolled to the side, dodging the blast of heat.

"I think I know how we can beat him," she said.

The monster turned its attention to Marle. It belched another fireball. She raised her arms over her head and formed an ice ball, then swung it at the fast approaching ball of fire.

The ball of ice collided with the fireball, creating a tremendous explosion that lit up the cave. Heckran roared loudly and looked at Crono. He sucked in air for another blast of fire.

Crono stood up tall. He raised his hands toward the ceiling, and they began to crackle with energy. The air surged around him, and an unseen wind tugged at his clothing.

A crack of lightning swung from the roof of the cave and struck Heckran. The beast roared again and lurched. It seemed to only be phased by the blast.

"Crono, it's not enough to beat him!" shouted Lucca. "Marle!"

Marle turned and looked at Lucca from across the cave. "What?"

"I'm going to try to push him back with my fire magic," said the young genius. "Once I knock him in the lake, freeze him over. By the time he thaws out, Crono will be able to shock the entire pool with lightning and we'll fry him."

The girl nodded and stood behind a rock. Crono held his sword in a defensive position, ready to ward off any more fireballs.

Heckran shook off the blast of lightning and looked at Lucca. He warmed up his lungs for another fireball.

"You want some?" said Lucca. "Come get some!"

The young genius clenched her fist and revealed a fireball. She swung it at the beast. It impacted on his chest and knocked the wind from him, preventing him from making another blast. He stumbled back a little and looked at the warriors.

"Lucca, that wasn't enough!" said Marle. "Try to form a bigger fireball like I do with my ice ball!"

She nodded and raised her arms above her head. The cave began to grow bright. Small charged particles flew into Lucca's hands.

Heckran roared. His eyes became narrow and full of fire. He gave a loud roar and raised his claws high.

A column of water rose out of the pool. It surged across the floor of the cave and knocked Lucca over. Her fireball died as it fell into the rushing waters.

"He knows how to use magic, too!" said Lucca. She got up off the cave floor and looked at Crono. He stood there, thinking about what to do next.

He looked at Lucca and whistled. She turned to him. He motioned for her to make another big fireball.

"Sure, but what are you going to do?" she asked.

Crono didn't respond as he dashed across the washed-out floor. Heckran raised his hands in the air for another flood attack.

The boy slashed viciously again with his sword, striking his scale armor. The monster roared and tried to strike the boy with his claws. Crono dodged them with skill. He whacked the monster with his red katana again and again, just to keep him distracted.

Lucca had another fireball in the works over her head. It grew bigger every second, filling with powerful charged particles. The cave was bright as day. The walls experienced light for the first time in thousands of years.

"It's almost complete!" she said, struggling to hold the ball of flame.

The ball reached four feet in diameter. Its sizzling energy made Lucca sweat to just hold it. It floated inches above her head like a wrecking ball.

Crono raised his sword to strike the monster in the soft underbelly. Heckran raised his arm high and whacked the boy across the chest, sending him to the ground and knocking the wind out of him.

He looked up at the beast. Its claws were sharp, and they were ready to slit his throat open. "Crono, move!" shouted Lucca.

Crono didn't need a further warning. He slid back just as the monster brought his heavy claw down and smashed into the ground.

Lucca brought her arms down and sent her massive fireball crackling through the air. Heckran looked up and saw it sailing towards him.

Before he could spit out another blast of fire, Lucca's projectile hit him in the stomach. It knocked him back a good twenty feet and sent him into the lake.

"Now, Marle! While he's down!"

Heckran looked up through the water and saw the ceiling cave. He swam upwards rapidly, trying to reach the air. His head broke the surface of the water. He turned and looked at the floor of the cave.

Before he could blink, a large ball of ice soared through the air and struck the surface of the lake. Instantly the water froze around Heckran, preventing him from moving.

The monster roared and thrashed about. He broke pieces of the ice off and began to chop through the rest.

Crono did not wait for Lucca to order him. He raised his arms in the air. A charge of electricity leapt about them, and another tremendous blast of lightning crashed into the lake.

The water surged with electricity. Heckran was paralyzed by the shock. The power traveled through his body and crept into his heart. He slowed down, and finally he could no longer breathe. He sunk to the bottom of the pool.

Crono sank to his knees on the cave floor. He breathed rapidly, trying to squeeze air back into his lungs after spending his energy on the battle.

"Yeehaw!" shouted Lucca.

"Awesome job, Crono!" said Marle.

He stood up and adjusted his sword. He gestured toward the whirlpool in the center of the lake.

"Next stop, Truce Village," said the princess.

After a wild ride through the depths of the mountain, the trio emerged in the bay of Truce. The stars shined brightly in the sky, and the moon cast a beautiful glow on the serene town.

"Ah, Truce," said Lucca.

"I haven't been here in..."

"A couple hundred years?" said Lucca, giggling.

"Haha, yeah I guess you're right," said Marle.

The gentle waves rocked Crono and the others in the ocean. A few boats lay inert in the harbor. A lighthouse cast an eerie glow on the water.

The boy motioned for the trio to swim to shore. They treaded the water for several minutes and finally arrived on the sandy beach.

Crono led the trek through the dark and quiet town. No one was out on the cobblestone streets at this time of night. The shops were closed, and the people were asleep in their bed.

They walked by a very familiar house. Lucca looked at it. "Say, Crono, isn't this your place?"

The boy looked up at it. He took a step back. My mother...

Marle put a hand on his shoulder. "You're worried about your mom, huh?"

He nodded.

"Well, go in quick and visit her," she said. "We'll wait out here."

"Marle!" whispered Lucca loudly.

"It's his mom! She probably thinks he's dead!"

Lucca looked down at the ground "Gee, that's right," she said. "She must think he got executed at the castle."

"I say we let him go in," said Marle.

"Okay, but make it quick, Crono. I don't want to be caught by the Guardia goon squad."

The boy nodded and slowly opened the door. The inside of the house was dark. The dishes were piled up in the sink, and a newspaper lay on the floor with the title "Young Boy Disappears Into Thin Air With Nadia."

He shook the title out of his mind and headed for the steps. The cat sat at the top of them, purring softly. Crono patted its head as he passed.

He slowly opened the door to his mother's bedroom. The room was a mess. A few bottles of liquor were scattered around. Some of them half-empty.

Crono's mother laid sprawled out on the bed. She tossed and turned, clearly not experiencing pleasant dreams. She had cried herself to sleep. Her hair was scraggly from hours of worry, and her pillow was wet from her tears.

Crono walked over to her and rested his hand on her head. She turned slowly. "Crono..." she said dreamily. He wanted so much to tell her that he was okay, that he would be back in no time. She was in such great pain right now. But if he revealed he was still alive now, she would be scared out of her wits.

I'm okay mom, he thought. Just hang in there, I'll be back.

He tucked the loose covers over her cold, shivering body. He gently kissed her on the forehead and turned, then walked to the door, a tear sliding down his cheek.

Lucca waited outside against the wall of the house. Marle stood quietly, tapping her foot. Crono walked out the door and quietly closed it. "Crono..." said the princess as she walked up to him and held his arm.

Tears tumbled down his face as he turned and looked at the second story window where his mother slept. He held his head low, then turned and looked up the street at the fairgrounds.

Slowly, he walked forth. Marle and Lucca followed in silence.

A gentle mist clung to the terrace where the telepod machine was. The forest behind the fairgrounds was full of chirping insects. An owl hooted in the distance.

"I guess they were after you too, Lucca," said Marle.

"Yeah," said Lucca. The telepod machine lay in ruins. The control panel was smashed, and the two platforms were uprooted and dismantled. Pieces of metal were scattered all over the terrace. An arrest warrant was hung on a nearby tree. It had the faces of Crono, Marle, and Lucca on it, with $100,000 in big bold letters below them.

"They must have found out that I was the one who created the telepod machine," said Lucca. "Now they're after my rear too."

"Well, there's no point in standing around here any more," said Marle. "Let's go back to 600 A.D. and find that Masamune!"

"Right," said Lucca. She reached into her satchel and pulled out the gate key. She flicked the switch.

The portal opened wide with the traditional wind. The interior of the void was shifting rapidly, inviting the party in. "600 A.D., here we come!" said Marle as she jumped in. Crono and Lucca followed.

VIII: Quest for the Masamune

The gate trip took place instantaneously as usual. Crono landed without falling this time. Marle followed him, and Lucca leaped neatly out of the portal. The gate closed behind them, sealing the link to the modern world.

The Doronoado Mountains were teeming with life. Birds chirped in the trees, squirrels chatted noisily over fruits and nuts. A squawk came from somewhere in the distance from a crow.

"Looks like we should head for the castle," said Lucca.

"They'll probably have some kind of record of the Masamune or this Cyrus guy," said Marle.

Crono nodded and led the way down the mountain trail into the medieval version of Truce Village.

Guardia Castle gleamed in the midday sunlight with its usual brilliance. Several knights stood on guard high above in the lookout post.

One stood at the wall, looking down to the forest below. Several birds flew over the trees. The clatter of knights marching around could be heard.

He squinted, trying to see the shapes below. "I wish I hadn't dropped my binoculars," he said.

"It's your own fault, moron," said the other.

"Shut up," said the first.

"I'm taking a breather." He sat down and put his back up against the wall. The sky was bright blue and several clouds floated on the horizon.

The other knight looked down at the steps leading up to the castle. Some strange figures seemed to be ascending them. He squinted, trying to make them out.

He recognized one as having spiked, red hair. One was wearing a helmet, and the other was blonde and had a long ponytail.

"Say, is that the lad who saved the queen?" he asked.

The other knight stood up from his resting spot and walked to the wall. He looked down over the edge and noticed the three figures. He narrowed his eyes, trying to detect the details. His brain clicked, and an expression of familiarity came over his face.

"'Tis the boy!" said the knight.

"Open the door!" said one of the knights.

Crono stood at the large wooden door of Guardia Castle. He felt a sense of deja vu, as if he were just standing there a few days ago.

"Well, knock, dummy," said Lucca.

He nodded and reached for one of the door knockers. He grasped it and brought it back, then pounded it on the door several times.

The heavy wooden door swung wide open, revealing the familiar interior of Guardia Castle. The decor was just as he had remembered. Tapestries hung on the cold stone walls. Two knights stood guard by the stairs leading to the throne room.

A short, familiar man walked down the steps. He wore an orange hat and had a long, white beard. "Crono!" he exclaimed.

He knelt in front of the Chancellor. Marle bowed, and Lucca followed her example.

"Crono, the king has fallen ill," said the short man.

Lucca's eyes became wide. "What?"

"The king has been bedridden. He cannot command our armies. He has been searching for you for a long time, Crono. He would like to have a word with you."

The boy nodded and stood up. Marle and Lucca rose. The short man walked up the steps and opened the door to the throne room. "Right this way, if you please."

"At least we're dealing with the Chancellor of 600 A.D. and not the guy who condemned us back in the present," whispered Marle.

After a lengthy ascent up the stairs to the king's bedroom, Crono, Marle, and Lucca had arrived at the bedroom door of King Guardia. The heavy wooden doors were shut. Two knights stood on guard with heavy swords.

The Chancellor walked in front of the trio and raised his scepter. "These are the warriors the king has been seeking," he said. "Please allow them to pass."

The knights nodded and stepped aside. They grabbed the handles and swung the doors open, revealing the bedroom.

King Guardia lay in bed with the covers tucked over him. His eyes were half closed, and his face was red. Several maids stood by him, fussing about with bags of ice and soup. Servants stood by nervously, watching the king. Queen Leene knelt by the bed in her brilliant white gown, her hands gently massaging the king's forehead.

He looked up wearily and saw the trio standing in the doorway. His eyes widened. "Crono!" he said, wheezing.

The boy nodded and walked over to his bed. He looked at the queen and smiled, who backed up and stood by the servants, watching.

Crono knelt down at the king's bedside and looked at him. "Crono, as you can see, I have fallen ill," he said. "My strength has left me, and I am no longer able to command my royal army."

The boy nodded. Leene began to cry.

"Magus's troops are getting closer and closer to the castle every day," he continued. "We currently have them at a standoff at Zeenan Bridge. Magus's general, Ozzie, has troops ready to attack. There is rumor of an even bigger monster coming in. Crono, I need you to command my forces and help them beat off their troops! Can you do it?"

He took it all into perspective. Could he lead the royal troops of the kingdom? Did he have enough battle experience? If the king had been searching all over for him, he guessed that he had been doing something right. Maybe he stood a chance against Magus's forces.

Crono looked the king in the eye. He nodded yes.

"Thank you, my dear lad," said the king. "I shall not forget this. Now, go!"

He stood up and looked at the two girls. "We can do it, Crono," said Marle.

Lucca chimed in. "With our magic, they can't stand a chance."

"Be off, and good luck!" wheezed the king.

Crono saluted. He turned around and motioned for the other two to follow him out of the room. They walked down the hallway and down the stairs.

Leene walked over to the king's side and knelt down. "You really think they have a chance against Ozzie and his forces?"

The king coughed. "They had better," he said to his wife. "That boy has something special about him. I feel it..."

Zeenan Bridge was the connecting point between the Northern and Southern Continents. It was made of a sturdy wood and stretched about a hundred meters over a chasm that was five hundred feet deep.

The sun was setting on the horizon, casting an eerie orange glow on the water. The bridge itself was vacant, but soon it would be full of warriors.

Several knights laid on the ground, their bows trained on the opposite side of the bridge, ready for the opposing force to make the first move. Others stood behind the archers, their swords withdrawn and ready to charge into battle. One knight laid at the very edge of the hill. He wore a suit of bronze. An insignia was engraved on his helmet that represented the rank of captain. His elbows were pressed against the soft grass. He had a pair of binoculars held up to his eyes. He scanned the opposite side for any signs of movement. Something rustled in the bushes near the bridge.

"Anything, sir?" asked one of the knights laying by him.

"Nothing," he said. "Keep your eyes open though. Magus's troops are stealthy."

A rustling noise came from the forest behind them. "Something is coming!" said one of the knights.

Several of them stood up and trained their bows on the moving leaves. They looked intently, ready to strike at a moment's notice.

A young boy with spiked-red hair walked out from behind a tree. A girl with purple hair and a helmet followed, and a blonde girl with a ponytail came next.

"Who are you?" asked the knight captain.

"We're the guys King Guardia sent to command this battle!" said Marle.

"Is that so?" asked the Captain. He folded his arms across his chest and gave a look of disbelief. "I don't remember hearing anything about the king sending officers in to relieve me."

Lucca became disgusted. "Yeah, he sent us personally to make sure you guys do well against Magus's troops."

The knight captain laughed. "The king would not send two little girls and a young boy to do a man's job!" He withdrew his heavy sword. "Now stand back and leave the work to real men!"

"I don't think you understand," said Marle.

"No, leave now, before things get ugly!"

A loud whistle was heard through the air. The knight captain turned around. "Duck!" he shouted.

A huge flaming oil drum had been launched from a catapult on the opposite side of the bridge. It swung through the air, swinging flames in every direction. It struck the hill where the knights were standing and exploded.

Several of the troops were burned up instantly. Others were thrown from the hill by sheer force. Crono and the others had taken cover back in the woods.

The knight captain had not made out so fortunately.

With no leadership and hearts full of rage, the remaining troops stormed down the hill like an avalanche. Their bows were raised and their swords were in the air. They were ready to storm across Zeenan Bridge and destroy Magus's troops.

On the other side, a collection of large, helmeted monsters stood ready to fight the advancing army. There was also a new kind of monster. It could be described as an animated skeleton. It had no flesh, no eyes, and no other organs.

A green creature in loose flowing robes floated out from behind the catapult. "Haha," said Ozzie. "We took most of them out with that shot from the catapult. Skeleton troops, march forward and destroy the remaining knights. Henchmen, man the catapult and fire more! Don't hit the bridge!"

The skeletons rushed across the bridge, bearing sharp spears and swords. The fat, helmeted warriors got behind the catapult and loaded up another oil drum.

Arrows flew through the air like rain. The warriors poured onto the bridge, swinging wildly at the advancing skeletons.

The bony warriors stood still at the middle of the bridge. They held their spears at the ready. The knights charged them, trying to slice through.

No sword cut through the tough bone of the dead warriors. The arrows sailed through them with no apparent affect.

"They're invulnerable to our attacks!" said one of the knights.

One of the skeleton's jaws chattered. It raised its spear and drove it deep into the gut of one of the knights. He keeled over, bleeding profusely.

The skeletons beat back the knights, bowling them over like nothing. The warriors tried to scramble off of the bridge, but many of them were cut down by the attacks of the dead.

"Crono, they're getting beat down there!" said Marle.

He nodded as he stood at the edge of the hill, looking down at the knights who were getting mowed down by the advancing army of bony warriors.

"H-help them," said a feeble voice.

He turned around and looked at the fallen knight captain. He lay on the ground, looking at the three warriors who had survived. "You have to stop them..." Crono knelt at the dying warrior's side. The bronzed-armored captain reached into his pocket and pulled something out.

"Here," he said. He dropped a small vial filled with green liquid in Crono's hand. "If all else fails, blow up the bridge."

With that, the knight captain breathed his last and died.

Marle took a step back and stared at the body of the dead warrior. She held her head low, feeling remorse for the fallen hero.

"Oh my God, what is that?" asked Lucca. She stood at the edge of the hill, looking down at the battle on the bridge. Crono stood up and walked over to her, and Marle followed. She pointed to a horrible fiend that had just joined the fray.

It stood fifteen foot tall and had but one eye. It had no flesh or internal organs and was made of bleached-white bone. It marched slowly behind the crowd of smaller skeletons like a massive behemoth.

The monster gave out a loud roar and opened its mouth wide. A redness grew in its empty mouth, and a stream of flame shout out and scorched the front line of soldiers.

The knights seemed to be losing ground fast.

"Crono, I have an idea," said Marle. "We've gotta do something fast or else those troops are gonna get across the bridge."

"Yeah, but what can we do?" asked Lucca.

"I'll take care of the big guy," said the princess. "Lucca, you see if you can toast the catapult, and Crono, you take care of the little skeletons."

Marle charged off down the hill, her crossbow at the ready. Lucca reached after her. "Wait! Marle!"

The princess didn't hear her. Lucca kicked the ground. "Well, I guess I have to take care of that catapult." She clenched her fist and felt the warmth growing. She turned to the boy. "Let's go, Crono!"

Together they charged down the hill. Some of the knights were already retreating and heading back up towards the castle. Crono and Lucca dodged them, trying to push through the warriors.

The skeletons broke across the bridge, chattering their jaws wildly and holding their spears high in the air. They looked at the two remaining warriors and pointed their spears towards them.

Crono raised his hands into the air. He felt a surge of power on his fingertips. The wind whipped around him.

A blast of lightning shot out of the sky and struck the middle of the pack of skeletons. Several bones flew up into the air, and many others fell to the ground.

They looked at their fallen comrades, then turned to Crono and Lucca and charged again. By now, they had all crossed the bridge and were on their way up the hill.

He looked at the advancing herd of warriors. There would not be enough time to strike them all with lightning bolts. An idea came to him. He reached into his pocket for an object.

"Crono, what are you looking for?" asked Lucca.

He pulled out the vial the knight had given to him. He surveyed its contents. A green liquid swished around inside. He raised it high above his head and whipped it through the air.

The skeletons stopped and looked at the projectile sailing through the air. They chattered their jaws and held their spears. The vial landed in the middle of the pack and cracked open.

A green explosion tore the dead warriors apart. A cloud of gas rose into the air. When it disappeared, bones clattered to the ground in heaps. Skulls, jawbones, and spears lay in a pile. The entrance to the bridge looked like a graveyard.

Lucca looked at the pile of rubble, then at the catapult on the other side. Another oil drum was being loaded. "I have to take care of that contraption!" she said.

On the bridge, Marle stood her ground as the giant skeleton marched to the center. It looked at her and seemed to laugh. It opened its mouth and shot a burst of fire out. Marle stood there, motionless.

The blast washed over her. Lucca ran onto the bridge and froze. "Marle!" she shouted.

When the fire died down, Marle stood there unscathed. A blue aura surrounded her. It was a shield of ice that repelled fire.

Lucca shook her head and ran past the princess and under the legs of the skeleton. It did not even seem to notice her as she crossed to the other side to meet the catapult.

Three henchmen stood behind the contraption, pulling the oil barrel back and getting it ready to be launched into the air.

One of them looked up. They saw Lucca standing on the bridge, her arms crossed. Her eyes grew angry, and a wicked smile crossed her face.

"Hey, get her!" shouted one of the henchmen.

"Oh, me?" she said. She uncurled her arms and held them out in front of her. Energy surged between her palms and formed a giant ball of fire. She aimed it at the catapult.

"Noooo!" yelled another henchman.

Lucca released the wave of fire from her hands. It washed over the catapult. The oil drum exploded, instantly destroying half of it. When the blast of flame dissipated, there was just a charred frame of the contraption and three burnt henchmen bodies.

Back in the center of the bridge, the skeleton shot out blast after blast of fire. Each one washed over Marle, repelled by her shield of cold. The princess stood her ground firm with her arms crossed. She almost felt like yawning.

Finally, the skeleton exhausted his supply of fire. He could spit out no more flame. Marle looked at its head, then felt an intense feeling of cold in her hands.

A thick beam of cold shot out from her arms. It traveled in a straight line directly into the open maw of the monster. The cold enveloped its head. A thick coating of ice surrounded its skull, freezing it solid.

Marle raised her crossbow and aimed it at the monsters head. She placed a metal arrow on it and pulled back the string. She locked the trigger. Then she pulled it.

The arrow soared through the air like a bullet. It completely shattered the skeleton's head into pieces. The bones that made up its frame clattered to a heap below on the bridge.

"Woohoo!" yelled Marle.

"We did it!" shouted Lucca.

Crono raised his sword high in the air.

Lucca ran to the center of the bridge, and Crono left the pile of dead skeletons and joined Marle. Most of the knights that had survived the catapult and the skeletons had now returned to the castle.

"What now?" asked Marle.

Lucca looked at the hill leading to Guardia Castle, then turned to the other side of the bridge. She looked back at Crono. "The Masamune is not in the Northern Continent," she said. "I say we go to the southern continent and ask around."

He nodded. Then he turned and looked at the horizon. The sun was almost below the horizon. He then turned to Marle.

"Yeah, I get what you mean, Crono," said Marle. "Let's stop at a hotel in a town somewhere along the way. I'm dog tired."

Crono led the way through the trail that led into the woods.

Magus stood alone in his castle basement. His arms were stretched out into the air. A light breeze blew around him. He was surrounded by a ring of blue flame. In front of him was a set of candles burning brightly in the pitch black.

A loud panting noise came from the steps behind him. He did not turn around, for he could feel who was coming.

The noise stopped at the bottom of the steps. "Yes, Ozzie?" said Magus calmly, without turning around.

"Sir Magus!" said the convulsing green creature, "We have lost Zeenan Bridge!"

Magus clenched his fists. He kept his focus on the statue in front of him, and did not turn to face his sniveling servant.

Ozzie continued. "We defeated Guardia's army, but there were three warriors..."

"Three?" asked Magus.

"Yes, three! Two of them were identified as the fighters who defeated Yakra..."

"How could three measly..."

"They had magic powers!" exclaimed Ozzie.

Magus's fists loosened. He dropped his arms to his side.

"The boy used lightning blasts on the skeleton troops, the girl with the glasses fried our catapult, and a girl who looked remarkably like Leene froze Zombor in his tracks."

"Keep an eye on their progress, Ozzie," said Magus.

"Y-yes, Sir Magus..."

The green creature turned and hovered up the steps. Magus focused on the statue. "I must hurry..."


The darkness lifted from his eyes.


He opened his eyes slightly.

"You are such a lazy kid!" said Lucca's voice.

The world around him blurred into focus. Lucca was standing at the side of his bed with her helmet off. Her short purple hair hung down to her neck.

"C'mon, let's get downstairs and pay off the hotel clerk," she said. "I'll get Marle up."

He rolled out of bed and stood on the soft carpet. He picked up his sword and clipped it to his belt, then stretched out.

Last night, the three warriors had decided to crash at an inn in a village called Porre. They had arrived somewhere around midnight. They had not slept since they had rebuilt Robo at the Proto Dome. This was a much needed rest.

Crono walked out of the room and down the steps. The lobby was quiet. Two old men sat at a wooden table, and the clerk was sitting on a stool behind the desk.

He looked up at the boy. "Ah, did you have a good night's rest sir?"

Crono nodded and reached into his pocket. He dropped a fistful of coins on the desk. The clerk picked them up and counted them, then put them behind the counter.

"Would you like breakfast, sir?" Crono nodded wearily. "How many?" asked the clerk. He held up three fingers. "Right away, sir. Have a seat over there." He pointed to a table with three chairs around it.

Crono wearily sat down at the table. The clerk went into the back room. The sound of eggs being broken could be heard.

"Didja hear about the hero?" said a voice.

"Whattya mean?" said another.

Crono looked up from the table and stared at the two old men across the room. They were engaged in conversation.

"Well, the word about town is that Tata found the Hero's Medal!"

"Is that so?"

"Uhuh! That means that he's the one to find the Masamune and slay Magus!"

Crono's mind sharpened at the mention of the Masamune.

"Yup. They sent 'im up to the mountains to look for it. If anyone can find it, he will!"

"But he's only a boy..."

"He's our only chance against Magus!"

The clerk walked around the desk and deposited three plates at the table. "Here's your breakfasts, sir!"

Marle and Lucca walked down the stairs and noticed the plates filled with eggs, sausage, and toast. "Oh, Crono, you ordered us breakfast!"

Crono got up from the table and dashed out the door.

"What? Crono, you didn't eat your breakfast!" shouted Marle.

Lucca looked at the old men. "Did he say where he was going?"

One of them shook his head. "No! We was just talkin about the Masamune and how the hero is lookin for it up in the hills..."

Lucca dashed out the door. "Crono, wait!"

Marle ran down the stairs and past the old men, then out the door after the other two.

The old men looked at each other, then at the vacant table with three complete meals, sitting. "Y'know, I don't think they're gonna be back," said one.

"Yeah, and those eggs is gettin' awfully cold..."

They got up from their table and sat down at the next one, and began to eat the untouched breakfasts left by the three kids.

The Porre Mountains dominated the Southern Continent landscape. They were the most prominent feature in the area, towering high above the ground.

Crono stood at the base of the mountainside, looking up into the misty heights. Lucca and Marle caught up to him, grasping for breath.

"So... the... Masa... Mune... is up... there?" panted Lucca.

Crono nodded.

Marle stood upright, trying to force some air back into her lungs. "Well, I guess we had better head up. The sword could be anywhere!"

"Let's... get going," said Lucca.

Crono led the way through a thick trail up the side of the mountain. The terrain was rocky and uneven, much worse than that of the Doronado Mountains. The leaves on the trees were beginning to fall. Beams of light shined down through the open holes in the foliage above.

The mountain became less bright as they progressed. A raven squawked in the distance. No birds were chirping, and no brook was babbling. As they progressed onward, the trees seemed to get thicker, blocking out the sunlight.

"Help!" said a voice.

Crono raised his head and looked up at the trail. A small boy was running like his feet were on fire towards the trio. He was about three feet tall, and had a purple hat on and carried a small sword.

He looked up at Crono and stopped. "You gotta get off this mountain! There are monsters here!"

Crono looked at the kid questioningly.

"What kind of monsters?" asked Lucca.

A loud roar came from somewhere in the distance. The small lad looked in the direction from which it came, then turned around and scampered down the path towards the base of the mountain.

Lucca adjusted her glasses. Something in her mind clicked. "Do you think that was the hero?" she asked.

Marle looked at her. "Whoever he was, he got pretty scared by what's up ahead."

The other girl nodded. "Yeah. We had better watch our step."

They continued onward for a good hour. The trail winded deeper into the mountainside, taking them higher and higher up.

Finally they came to a clearing. The trees parted, revealing a huge cliff. Crono looked downward. All he could see was mist. It seemed to go on forever into the depths of the world.

A narrow wooden suspension bridge ran from the side of the cliff the party stood on across the chasm directly into a waterfall. The water cascaded downward, splashing off the bridge and tumbling downward into the depths.

"There must be something under that waterfall," said Lucca.

Crono nodded. He set foot on the shaky bridge. It blew in the wind slightly. Marle followed him, and Lucca slowly crossed with them.

They came to the waterfall. A thick mist hung about it, spraying them in the face. It was very refreshing. Crono stuck his hand through the waterfall to the other side. He set his foot through, then the rest of his body.

Marle step through gracefully, only getting slightly wet. Lucca leapt into the waterfall, splashing water over the bridge as she passed through.

The interior of the waterfall was cave-like. Several lit torches lined the stone wall. The floor of the cavern was wet and moist. Several bats fluttered about the ceiling.

"This must be where the Masamune is," said Lucca.

"C'mon, let's get it!" said Marle.

They traveled deeper into the cave. It went on for what seemed to be a half mile. The interior was well lit, but the temperature was cold. Drops of water splattered throughout the rocky interior, making an eerie echoing noise.

At last, they came to a large, wide room in the cave. It was thirty feet high, and very wide. A beam of light shone down through a crack in the roof. It landed on a high pedestal in the middle of the room. A set of stairs extended up to the top.

"The Masamune is up there!" said Lucca.

Crono climbed the steps, slowly but surely. The legendary sword was within his grasp...

"Hey!" shouted a voice.

He turned around. A little kid stood at the entrance to the room. He had a haircut similar to Crono's but it was green instead of red. He seemed to be about five or so.

"Are you here for the Masamune?" asked the kid.

Crono shook his head.

"Just as I thought," he said. He looked at the top of the pedestal. "Hey, Masa! Get up!"

A yawning noise came from atop the pedestal. Another kid, identical to the first, but with purple hair, stood up. He stretched his arms. "Hey, Mune. What's the deal?" He looked down at Crono, who was halfway up the stairs. "Oh no, not again..."

Crono backed down the steps and stood with the two girls. The first kid walked around them and joined his counterpart. "So you guys want the Masamune, eh? Buffoons."

An angry look crossed Marle's face. "Hey, we need it to..."

"Get rich, right?" interrupted the purple-haired one. "You humans are so silly. It's not the person who owns the sword, but how it is used."

The green-haired one turned to the other. "So what shall we do, Masa?"

"Test them," he said. "They look a bit tougher than the kid with the medal. Perhaps they won't run away!"

The two kids began to spin around rapidly. The room grew brighter, and a light emanated from within them. A brilliant glare filled the cave, and the kids disappeared.

Two alien-like creatures stood in their place. They had white eyes and olive-green skin. They wore white, flowing robes and had neck-collars that matched the color of their former form's hair.

Crono withdrew his sword, and Marle withdrew her crossbow.

"Now let's see if you deserve to own the Masamune!" said one of the creatures.

Crono ran across the cave, heading for the creature on the right. He raised his sword in the air and brought it down.

He cleaved the air in half. The creature had vanished. It reappeared behind him. With an anger in its strange eyes, it released a blast of cold.

Before he could turn around, Crono was frozen solid. He tried to move, but he was stuck in a block of solid ice.

"Crono!" shouted Marle.

"I'll de-thaw him!" said Lucca. "You take care of the other guy."

Marle nodded. She loaded up her crossbow and looked at the other creature, floating around at the other side of the room. She pulled back an arrow and aimed it in its direction. She pulled the trigger.

The arrow soared through the air. The creature saw it coming and teleported out of harm's way. The arrow struck nothing except the cavern wall.

Marle looked around the cave. She saw the creature standing on the pedestal, looking down at her. It raised its arms and floated in the air, heading towards her. It opened its mouth, and a strong gust of wind came out.

The princess tried to stand her ground, but she could not. She was blown into the rocky cave wall. The creature moved downward, blowing harder. It had her pinned down.

"Help!" shouted Marle.

On the other side of the cave, Lucca stared down the other creature. It looked at her with narrow eyes and an angry sneer.

A beam of cold shot out of its eyes. Lucca brought her palms together and released a wave of flame. The blasts met in mid air, creating a tremendous explosion of energy. Lucca kept the beam in the center, not flinching in spite of the creature's cold attack.

The cold beam began to push back her fire wave. It moved closer and closer. She looked at the frozen Crono behind the creature.

Lucca stared down the monster one last time, then took the fire wave out of the ice beam's path. She rolled to the side and shot directly at the ice block. It began to melt. Crono felt the warmth around him.

"Help!" shouted Marle again, pinned down by the wind.

Crono raised his arms. His eyes narrowed.

Lucca turned around and turned the fire wave back upon the ice creature. She held the beam back as best as she could.

A charge of electricity danced about Crono's hands. He felt a surge of energy in the room. A bolt of lightning arced from the ceiling and struck the creature that had Marle pinned down.

The creature roared loudly. Its gust of wind stopped blowing. Marle raised her hands and formed an ice ball. She released it and froze the wind creature solid. The ice enveloped him, preventing him from moving.

Across the room, the creature with the ice beam suddenly lost its power. It disappeared, along with its powerful ice beam.

It reappeared on the pedestal, then looked down at its frozen comrade and snapped its fingers. The block of ice cracked, and the wind creature was released. It teleported back up to the top of the pedestal and joined its friend.

Crono walked to the center of the room. Marle and Lucca joined him, looking intently at the twin creatures.

"Hey, Masa, they're pretty tough," said the one.

"Right," said the other. "Only Cyrus made it this far."

"This time it's for real!"

"Right, let's sock it to these punks!"

They floated off the pedestal and landed in front of the trio. They looked at each other and raised their arms.

"With Masa's strength..."

"And Mune's knowledge..."

"The two become one!" they said unanimously.

They dashed into each other and formed a strange, shining orb. It glowed white, then began to form a larger shape. It stopped glowing. The trio took a step back.

In front of them stood the most massive looking creature they had ever encountered. It stood ten feet tall and was carved out of pure muscle. Its arms were like tree-trunks, its chest like a mass of steel. Its head was directly attached to its body, and it had a bull-like snout and large, sharp horns. It stood on two tiny hoofs.

It gave an all-too familiar roar. It echoed through the cave and traveled deep into the spines of the three warriors.

Crono withdrew his sword. The monster roared and turned towards him. The boy ran at it, his saber ready to cut.

The monster brought its hands together high over its head. It roared and brought them down with an unbelievable force. Crono leapt aside as the monster brought its heavy hands down. It sliced through a rock, cutting it right in half.

The boy was too quick for the giant monster. His nimble moves allowed him to slide behind it. He raised his sword and sliced through the creature's back.

An earth-shattering roar erupted from the creature's mouth. It turned around and used its open palm to smack Crono in the face. The boy dropped his sword and was sent flying through the air into the cavern wall.

The world shifted around him. There seemed to be three monsters now, and the room was spinning rapidly. It began to get dark.

"Crono!" shouted Lucca.

He shook his head. The room stopped spinning. He stood up and picked up his sword. The monster was now slowly bearing down on him. Crono raised his hands and felt the electricity jump about them.

A flash of lightning arced through the air and struck the behemoth. It roared again, sending vibrations throughout the cave. When the blast died down, the monster continued to move forward.

Marle raised her crossbow and loaded a metal arrow. She leveled it at the beast's back and pulled the trigger. It gracefully sailed through the air and buried itself in the creature's flesh.

It roared yet again and grabbed at its back. After finding the projectile, it grasped it and pulled it out, flinging it to the ground. A red fire seemed to cross its eyes. It raised its arms high in the air. A breeze seemed to fill the cave.

"What is it doing?" asked Lucca.

The air in the cave formed a wind tunnel. A great cyclone buzzed about the monster. It died down, and the creature gave one more terrific roar.

It threw its massive arms on the floor. The ground rumbled. Marle and Lucca were thrown from their feet. The monster opened its mouth. Several tornadoes sprung up from the ground, hurling dust and dirt around the cave. The two girls held tight to some rocks sticking out of the ground. They were blinded by the fierce storm created by the behemoth.

Crono could find nothing to hold on to. He was far to weak to even try. The wind picked him up. The room spun yet again. His vision was blurred as he was hurled towards the ceiling. He felt his body being impaled on the rocky cavern.

The tornado died down, and Crono fell to the ground with a thud. The world went black around him.

"Crono!" shouted Marle.

The monster turned to the two girls and roared. It slowly moved towards them, ready to strike again with its powerful tornado attack.

Lucca turned to Marle. "See if you can heal Crono! I'll distract this guy!"

Marle shouldered her crossbow and nodded. Lucca clenched her fist. She felt an intense heat in her hand.

The creature raised its arms high in the air and brought them together. It was ready to drop them down and split Lucca in half.

She opened her fist and threw the ball of flame right into the monster's eyes. Its hands gripped its scorched eyes, and it gave out a terrifying roar.

Marle ran around the monster's back and went to Crono's side. He lay there, unconscious. His body was bruised and his clothing was torn.

She placed her hands over his forehead. She closed her eyes, and felt a strange calm about her. The room grew warmer. A rainbow-like glow surrounded her body. She looked down at the fallen warrior.

Crono's eyes opened slowly. His bruises began to disappear. He could feel his muscles relax. The pain left him quickly.

He stood up and picked up his sword. Marle stood up and looked at him. "You're alright!" she exclaimed.

Crono pointed to Lucca, who was hurling fireballs at an incredible rate at the beast to keep it way. "Crono, you have to help her!"

He raised his arms in the air. Another lightning bolt shot down from the cave ceiling and struck the monster. It gave out a loud roar and froze in place. The shock of the lightning had paralyzed its muscles.

Marle dashed across the room to Lucca's side. She looked at her, almost out of breath.

"Marle, I want to try an antipode!" said Lucca.

"An antiwhat?" said Marle.

"An antipode," she repeated. "It's a combination of fire and ice. Once you freeze the monster, I'll toast it with my fire. The sudden extreme temperature change will be so powerful it will crash its nervous system. It'll knock this guy out in a flash."

The monster stretched its neck and turned around. It saw Crono standing there with his sword, ready to face the creature alone. It roared and stomped forward. The boy swung his sword at its chest.

The monster grasped it firmly with its hand. It curled its fist to punch the boy. Crono tried to duck, but he was far too slow.

A loud crackling noise came from behind the monster. A blue ball of cold flew from Marle's hands and struck the creature in the back. The ice completely enveloped the beast. It was frozen in a solid block.

"Quick, Lucca! Use your fire blast!" shouted Marle.

Lucca brought her wrists together and felt the intense energy surging between them. She released the wave of fire. The blast surrounded the frozen monster. It evaporated the ice right off of it. The quick shift in temperature caused its nervous system to go numb. Its blood pressure shot through the roof, and its veins expanded.

The creature threw its arms up into the air. It gave one last loud roar. A bright emanated from within it. The shape of the monster disappeared. The light vanished.

Crono sighed. Marle dropped to her knees, and Lucca nearly fell over. They had beaten the beast.

After the smoke and flame had cleared, the two kids with green and purple hair stood in the monster's place. They still looked energetic and youthful.

"They beat us, Masa," said one of them.

"That was fun, Mune!" said the other.

Mune turned to his counterpart with a lonely expression on his face. "Will they fix us? Will they find us a new owner?"

Masa nodded. "It'll be alright." He turned back to the three weary fighters. "You have passed the challenge. You are worthy of the sword known as the Masamune. Come forth to claim the legendary weapon."

The two children disappeared. In their place floated two glowing orbs. They hovered momentarily, then arced through the air to the top of the pedestal.

Crono, Lucca, and Marle wearily climbed the stairs to the top of the pyramid-like structure. The top of it was flat and level. The sun shined brightly on the spot where they stood.

The boy looked down. A pitted, rusted blade stuck out from the ground where they stood. He reached down and withdrew it. He felt so disappointed after fighting such a difficult battle and finding only this lousy piece of rusty metal.

"This... is the Masamune?" asked Marle.

"It must be," said Lucca. "But it looks like its been broken for ages."

Marle looked at it again. "There's no way we could use this bent sword to take on Magus..."

Crono put the remains of the sword in his satchel. He looked up at the hole in the ceiling where the light shone.

A strong wind began to encircle the three warriors. Marle felt herself being lifted up. Lucca began to float in the air, and Crono could not feel the ground below him. "We shall ride the wind to the base of the mountain," said the voice of one of the kids. "From there on, good luck."

Crono looked up into the beam of sun as the blast of air carried him out of the mountain.

Porre Town was in an uproar. The normally quiet village square was filled with people carrying on, talking amongst themselves. A mob had formed in the center of the town, violently yelling at someone or something.

Crono, Marle and Lucca entered the village. They looked around, seeing all the people arguing back and forth.

Suddenly, Crono was knocked on his back. Marle and Lucca picked him up and brushed him off. The princess looked around. The short boy they had seen on the mountain with the sword was standing before them.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" he cried.

"You!" said Marle.

A spark of recognition crossed the young lad's face. "Um... you're the guys I saw on the mountain!"

"Yeah, that's right," said Lucca. "I assume you're the kid who everyone thinks is 'the hero.'"

The boy lowered his head. "Right. My name is Tata. Everyone thinks that I have some kind of magical destiny."

"What?" asked Marle. "Why?"

"I was in the hotel one day, and some frog-like guy dropped this medal," Tata said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold medal. It had the engravings of a high-ranking knight in Guardia's army. "I tried to sell it, but people started calling me 'the hero.' They told me I had to go find the Masamune up in the Porre Mountains. I tried to tell them that I wasn't the hero, but they wouldn't listen. I went up to the mountains, but I ran into these two other kids who scared me. Then I met you guys."

"I see," said Marle.

Several of the people of the crowd turned around. They looked down at the little boy talking to the three travelers. Angry expressions distorted their faces. "There's that no-good kid!" said a man. "Let's get him!"

Tata yelped. He dropped his medal and ran off into the crowd.

Crono bent down and picked up the medal. He looked at it with deep thought, then showed it to the others.

"Wait, Crono, did he say that a 'frog-like guy' dropped it?" asked Lucca.

He nodded.

"C'mon!" she said. She turned around and ran out of the town, heading towards the forest.

"Wait, Lucca!" shouted Marle.

The forest was full of strange sounds. A cooing came from somewhere in the distance. Hisses, chirps, and croaks all came together to form a menagerie of noises. A gentle breeze blew the foliage on the ground.

Crono hacked away at the brush surrounding the trail with his sword. Marle had her crossbow at the ready, scanning for signs of movement off in the bushes. Lucca held some sort of scanner in her hand, trying to pick up signs of some sort of cave.

"These woods must go on forever," said Marle.

Lucca adjusted a dial on her scanner. "I think we're coming up on something," she said. "Something very close."

Crono looked ahead. He raised his blade and stepped forward, ready to slice through a thick vine blocking their way.

His footing gave way. He disappeared from sight into the ground. Lucca walked forward and fell into the trap too.

"Crono! Lucca!" shouted Marle. She looked around, hesitating. She wondered if she should go for help. Finally she decided to follow her friends. She shouldered her crossbow and leapt into the gaping hole.

She landed with a thud on a soft dirt floor. Crono had his sword at the ready, and Lucca held out a small ball of fire to illuminate the area they stood in.

"What is this place?" asked Marle.

The underground hovel was filled with furniture. A small wooden table was in one corner. In the other was a bed made of straw and grass.

"Crono?" said a raspy voice.

Out of the shadows, a small, green figure emerged. He wore an olive cape and bronze armor.

"Frog!" shouted Lucca.

"Eek!" yelled Marle.

The short, green warrior stepped into the light. His bulbous yellow eyes focused on the princess. "Thine resemblance to Queen Leene is uncanny," he said. He turned to the boy. "Crono, 'tis good to see thee. Art thou here to practice thy swordplay?"

Crono shook his head.

"Frog, we have something of yours," said Lucca.

"W-what is that?" asked Marle.

"Shut up, Marle," said Lucca. "He's an old friend of ours."

"I hope my appearance does not disturb thee," he said to Marle. He turned back to Lucca. "What have you?"

"Show him, Crono," said Lucca. The boy reached into his satchel and pulled out the gold medal Tata had dropped. He presented it to Frog.

The amphibian looked it over. "Th-the hero medal..." he said.

Lucca nodded. "I believe it is yours."

Frog held it, gazing into its shiny, gold appearance. He seemed lost for several minutes. Finally he handed it back to Crono.

"What's wrong?" asked Lucca.

"The hero I am not," said Frog. "I hath no right to bear the Masamune..."

"But, Frog..."

"I must be off," he said. The amphibian pulled his cloak close to him and walked to the back of the room. He ascended a set of stairs to the forest floor.

"What was that all about?" asked Marle.

Lucca shook her head. "I don't know..."

Crono looked around the room. It seemed to be in perfect order. Everything was so neat and tidy. He spotted something on the dresser. He tapped Lucca's shoulder.

"What, Crono?" she asked. He pointed to the dresser.

Lucca walked over and surveyed to top of it. She gasped.

A rusty, metal handle lay on top of it. She picked it up and surveyed it. Marle walked over and looked at it. "Do you think...?"

"Crono, give me the blade from the top of the mountain," said Lucca.

He nodded and pulled the mangled blade from the top of the mountain out from his satchel. He handed it to Lucca. She took the handle and attached it to the broken end of the blade. It fit perfectly.

"This is the handle of the Masamune!" she exclaimed.

Marle looked at the handle. Several small letters were engraved on it. "What do those say?" she asked.

Lucca handed the blade back to Crono. She surveyed the writing on the handle. "It seems to say... M-e-l-c-h-i-o-r."

Marle's eyes widened. "Melchior? That guy in the Medina Village with the weapons?"

Lucca nodded. "Let's go check it out."

IX: The Red Rock

Back in the Medina Village in 1000 A.D., two monsters were sitting down at their table in their home to their afternoon tea. The sun was shining brightly. Few clouds filled the sky.

A rumbling noise came from their cupboard.

One of them turned around and looked at it. "No, not again..."

The closet opened wide. Crono, Marle, and Lucca were thrown onto the carpet. The boy stood up and shook his head.

"Hey, you guys can't just come and go as you please!" said one of the monsters.

Lucca stood up and fixed her glasses. "Sorry, we'll try not to inconvenience you," she said.

The other monster looked at them. "Hey, since you guys iced Ozzie and the Omnicrone, the whole town is after your hides," it said. "But because you haven't given us any real trouble, we won't turn yas in."

"Thanks," said Marle.

Crono opened the door and motioned for the others to follow.

Far across the continent, in his quaint little house, Melchior sat eating his dinner. The sun was slowly setting, and the birds were beginning to fly to their homes. He stroked his beard as he looked across the shimmering ocean.

A knock came at the door.

"Just a second," he said. Slowly he got up from his table and walked to the door. He unhooked the lock and turned the knob. The door swung open, and three familiar figures stood at the threshold of his house.

"Ah, greetings, friends!" he said. "Please join me for dinner!"

Crono nodded and stepped in. "Hi," said Marle.

"Hello," said Lucca.

Melchior sat down at the head of his table. Crono sat on his right side, and Marle sat at his left. Lucca sat opposite of him.

"Please, have some food," said the old man. He motioned to the large platter on the table. It had a large cooked turkey, dressed with vegetables. Crono picked up a plate and eagerly took some of the fresh bounty.

"So, what brings you out here, Crono my lad," he said.

Marle poured herself a glass of water and picked up some of the vegetables. She hungrily ate them and sipped at her drink.

"Well," said Lucca as she ate some turkey, "we have come to ask you about a weapon."

Melchior laughed. "Ah, you have come to the right place, my dear!"

"It's not just any weapon," said Marle.

"Right," said Lucca. "Show him, Crono."

Crono looked at Lucca, then reluctantly put down his utensils. He reached into his satchel and withdrew the bent blade and the handle. He placed it on the table.

Melchior dropped his turkey leg. "Th-the Masamune!"

Crono nodded.

"How did you get it?"

"Why is your name on the handle?" asked Lucca.

The old man stared at the broken blade. "It's a long story..."

"Is it possible to reforge it?" asked Marle.

"It may be," he said. "If you could get your hands on some Dreamstone, of which the sword is made."

"Dreamstone?" asked Marle. "I've never heard of such a rock."

Melchior dropped his gaze. "It was a rare rock once used as money, eons ago. I doubt there is any left today."

"So then the chance of being able to reforge it..."

"Is slim to none. Unless you could travel through time."

Crono choked on his turkey.

"Are you okay, lad?" asked the old man.

He nodded.

"Well, stay as long as you like," said Melchior.

"I'm afraid we're going to have to get moving," said Lucca.

Melchior put down his glass. "Well then," he said. "Good luck on your journey. Drop by whenever you want to chat about weapons!"

Crono nodded and picked up the pieces of the sword. He placed them in his satchel and motioned for the party to leave. They opened the door and walked onto the open plain, heading for the Medina Village.

Crono stepped out of the glimmering white light. The familiar surroundings of the End of Time were a comfort to him. The pillars of light illuminated the square. Marle jumped out next, followed by Lucca.

In the center square of the area, the old man sat playing cards with Robo.

"Go fish," said the robot.

They crossed the bridge and opened the gate. The old man looked up from his game and saw the three weary travelers.

"Ah, welcome back," he said. "Did you find anything in the Medina Village?"

Robo stood up.

"Yeah," said Marle. "Do you know anything about Dreamstone?"

The old man scratched his beard and adjusted his hat. "Ah, yes. I think I've heard of it. It's a prehistoric mineral. Check the Mystic Mountains, circa 65,000,000 B.C."

Marle yawned. "Oh, I'm so tired..."

Crono looked at her, then looked at Robo.

"Would it be appropriate if I came along to allow Marle a rest, Crono?" asked the mechanical creature.

The princess yawned again. "Oh, I'll be fine..."

Crono shook his head and motioned for her to lie down. Robo walked over to the party. "Glad to have you back, buddy," said Lucca.

"Happy to be of service," he said.

The old man stood back up against the lamppost. "Now you be careful," he said. "The prehistoric era is full of all kinds of dinosaurs. They have tough hides, so be ready to use extensive magic."

Crono nodded and motioned for the party to start off across the bridge.

"Goodbye, and good luck," said the old man.

"Good luck... Crono..." said Marle. She slowly laid down on the floor and fell asleep.

Lucca walked up to one of the light pillars. She put her hand in, then motioned for the others to follow. Together, they jumped into the white column of light.

The green peaks of the Mystic Mountains jutted out over the land. The glowing sun blasted rays of heat down over the plains. Prehistoric pterodactyls roamed the skies in search of prey below. Raptors dashed across the land, chasing the slower beasts.

High above a clearing in the mountains, a black portal opened. It blew violent winds downward on the grass below. Several green reptiles looked up. They were humanoid and had large, bulbous heads and yellow eyes.

They growled angry at the howling portal above their heads. Three mysterious figures fell out of the void. They tumbled down the mountainside and landed in the center of the group of reptiles.

"What are those?" asked Lucca.

Crono pulled out his sword.

"They are a reptilian species," said Robo. "They appear to be humanoid."

One of the reptiles walked forward. It growled some sort of complex message to Crono. It then gestured rapidly above its head.

"What is he saying?" asked Lucca.

Crono did not respond. The reptile grew angrier. It revealed its sharp claws and powerful jaws.

The creature lurched forth and slashed viciously at Crono. He hacked away at some of the beasts with his sword, but he could not cut them all down. Lucca fought bravely to get them off of her. Robo beat them off with his powerful fists.

"There's too many!" shouted Lucca.

A claw lashed across Crono's face. Blood began to cloud his vision. He slashed even harder with his red katana, trying to take out more of the reptiles.

Lucca reached for her hammer, but was pulled by her arm into the fray. She tried to get out, but was lashed by the vicious claws. Robo was knocked down by a tackle from one of the larger beasts.

"Help!" shouted Lucca.

A vicious, cat-like roar came from somewhere in the distance. The reptiles suddenly let go of their pray and stood up. They made a triangular formation and scanned the mountainside.

Out of the blue, a lightning-like streak came by and knocked one of the reptiles dead.

"What was that?" asked Lucca.

Crono stood up and wiped the blood from his face. He readied his sword.

The flashed struck again, this time taking two of the reptiles down.

It stopped in the middle of the group of monsters and slashed viciously at the creatures. She had slowed down enough that Crono could get a good look at her.

She wore a purple lion-skin bikini and had long, billowy, golden hair. Her arms were massive, and her legs were lightning quick. She punched viciously at the oncoming monsters.

Crono gathered his concentration and joined the fray. He cut through the group of reptiles, drawing green blood. Robo charged up his laser cannon and skillfully picked off several of them. Lucca hurled several of her patented fireballs, toasting some of the little green men.

In seconds, most of the reptiles had either run off or were laying dead on the ground.

The woman stood there, breathing hard, looking at her victims. She whirled around and saw the three warriors she had just saved. She took a step back, afraid of the strange people in strange clothing.


She then approached Crono. He dropped his sword and put it back in his sheath. The woman looked him over, observing his clothing and satchel.

"Crono..." said Lucca.

The woman took a step back and looked at him again. "You strong," she said. "What name?"

"That's Crono, I'm Lucca, and that's Robo," said Lucca.

She looked at Lucca, then at Robo, then back at the boy. "Crono, Lucca, Robo?" she repeated. "Good names. Me Ayla." She embraced the boy. "You strong. You beat reptiles. Ayla like those who beat reptiles."

"I think she wants you Crono," said Lucca, snickering.

He looked at her with an angry glare.

Ayla shook her head. "No," she said. "Ayla respect strong people is what mean. You also strong."

Where have they been keeping her? thought Lucca.

The woman turned to Robo. "What you? You look like big toy!"

Robo's computer brain de-scrambled her slurred speech. "Pardon?"

"You seem like made of rock," she said.

"Um, yes..." said the machine. "I am made of rock."

"Ah, so you god?"

"Um, in a way," said Robo.

"Robo!" shouted Lucca. "Just because she can't figure out that you're a robot doesn't mean you should call yourself a god!"

Ayla ignored the girl's comment. "Where from?" she asked.

"The day after tomorrow," said Lucca.

The woman threw her head back and laughed. "I like funny people. My people like funny people. Come to village! Eat, drink!"

Lucca looked at Crono. "We'd love to, but we have to look for some Dreamstone..."

"Stones?" repeated Ayla. "Plenty of stones!" she exclaimed. "Stones, here, there! Plenty! Come to village, you take! Follow me!"

Ayla turned and ran down the mountain trail towards the plains.

Robo looked at the girl. "Shall we follow her?"

"Who knows," she said. "She may lead us to the Dreamstone. It might be fun, too."

Crono stared off into the distance. Lucca looked at him. "Hey, don't worry, I won't tell Marle."

The boy sneered at her, as to say I don't like her.

"Haha, c'mon bud. Let's check it out."

At the base of the mountain was a collection of huts. They formed a circle around what seemed to serve as a town square. It was dark, and a big bonfire had been lit in the center of the square. Several primitive people were dancing around it and chanting.

A large banquet table had been set up by the chief's hut. It was almost thirty feet long, and was filled with appetizing dinosaurs that had been char-grilled to perfection. Exotic fruits and juices were among the food choices. A big bowl of some kind of strange brew was at one end of the table.

Crono, Robo, and Lucca had been ordered to sit on the left end of the banquet table. They were told that Ayla would speak in several minutes, and then they were free to enjoy the food and drink.

"Well, it's hard to believe it, isn't it Crono?" asked Lucca.

He looked at her inquisitively.

"A few days ago who would've ever guessed we'd be eating at a ceremonial feast in the year 65,000,000 B.C.?"

He laughed.

"A few days ago, who would have ever thought I would be repaired?" asked Robo.

Lucca chuckled. "Yeah, if nothing else, this is a lot of fun!"

They turned and saw Ayla moving toward the center of the banquet table. "Shh..." said Lucca.

"Friends!" she said. "Strong people have come to village! Robo, Lucca, and Crono! They beat reptiles!"

The crowd cheered and continued to dance. "Now, eat!" she exclaimed.

Many people from the crowd dashed over to the banquet table and consumed the roast dinosaurs and fruits. Several drank from the bowl of liquid, and others dined on the fruit.

"That stuff in the bowl looks interesting," said Lucca. She walked into the crowd and disappeared.

"I shall observe some of their culture from this vantage point," said Robo. "You go on and talk to Ayla, see if you can find out about the Dreamstone."

Crono nodded and stood up. He walked around the back of the table and fought through the crowd. He walked up to Ayla's side and tapped her shoulder.

"Crono! You enjoy party?"

He nodded.

"Good! You strong man! You fight reptiles bravely. I fight reptiles too. They try to destroy our village. Their leader Azala very smart. He send many beasts to village, but people fight them off. Reptiles have deep layer hidden somewhere in this world. Me no find yet. But I no give up. Only give up when dead."

She shook her head and looked at the table forlornly.

"You friend say something about Dreamstone," she said. "Is this what you look for?" She reached under the table and pulled out a decent-sized red rock. Crono looked it over. It sparkled in the firelight. He ran his fingers over it.

"So you want?" asked Ayla.

Crono nodded.

"Hah!" she exclaimed. "You must beat Ayla in drinking contest then!"

The boy smiled. He was known throughout his town for being able to chug down soda, beer, liquor, whatever they could throw at him. He could drink a river, but he did not let it consume him.

"People say Ayla have iron liver!" said the woman. She motioned for two bowls to be brought forth. She slid the rock back under the table.

Two servants carried three-foot wide bowls of some exotic-smelling liquid. They placed it on the ground in front of the banquet table. Ayla hopped over it and crossed her legs in front of the bowl. Crono followed her example.

"Okay, begin to drink!"

The woman picked up the bowl and held it up to her mouth. She gulped down the liquid rapidly.

Not to be outdone, Crono picked up the bowl and slammed down the exotic drink.

"C'mon, Crono... You can do it..." said Lucca's voice drunkenly.

Other people cheered on Ayla as she gulped down the liquor. Crono drank it as fast as he could, trying to keep up with the woman.

The world began to spin around Crono as the alcohol went through his system. He fought to keep the bowl pouring the liquid into his mouth.

Ayla tossed her empty bowl aside like a disc. She ordered for more liquid to be brought to her. Crono saw her out of the corner of his eye and chugged more.

He finished off his liquor and tossed it aside. He motioned for more to be brought forth. The primitives poured another huge bowl and brought it over. He held it up to his mouth and poured it in. Half of it splashed over the edge and onto his clothes.

Ayla began to weaken. Her eyes fluttered, and her surroundings spun. More of her drink began to slosh over the side.

Crono gulped down half of the bowl. He looked again out of the corner of his eye. He saw that Ayla was beginning to swing. She dropped the bowl of liquid and fell backwards.

The boy polished off the rest of the bowl and set it down. The world was still spinning rapidly, and the fire arced through the air like a demon.

Ayla sat up. "You... good drinker, Crono," she mumbled. "You... deserve... stone..." She reached behind the table and pulled out the red stone. She handed it to Crono.

He held it up in the light of the fire. The world became black and heavy. He began to sway. He dropped the rock and fell back onto the ground.


That not too sweet voice lent a hand to help Crono out of his deep sleep.


Crono opened his heavy eyes and stared up at the clear blue sky.

"Crono, we're missing the gate key!"

He leapt up and looked at Robo. He was standing there with his head rapidly moving back and forth.

"The gate key is gone! Someone stole it!"

A rush of pain went to the boy's head. He struggled to remain standing. Hangover...

Gate key?

Robo saw the confused expression on his face. "I believe the reptiles may have taken it!"

Crono looked around at the remains of the party. The fire had died down, and the table was cleared of all food. The bowls that had contained the delicious liquor had been stored under the table. One feature stood out among the rest. Long, clawed footprints encircled the town square.

He rushed over to Lucca's sleeping body. He tapped her lightly. She groaned, then rolled over, trying to avoid the boy's persistence. He shoved her even harder.

"Damn it Crono, what do you want?" Lucca rolled over and looked at his face.

"The gate key is gone!" said Robo.

"Oh... hangover... what?"


"I heard you, Robo!" said Lucca. "Without the gate key we can't get back to our time!" She looked at the remains of the party and saw the footprints. "Reptiles..."

"Let's talk to Ayla," said Robo.

"Right," she said. They left the square and headed for one of the huts.

The chief's hut was decorated with an assortment of tribal masks. Spears, shields, and other weapons were stacked in the rear of the straw structure. A small fire was lit in the center.

Ayla lie asleep in a blanket on the ground. She did not move at all. Her body was completely still from all the liquor she consumed last night.

"Ayla!" shouted Lucca as she walked into the hut with the others.

"Uhhh..." groaned the prehistoric woman. "What you do up so early? Sleep like stone last night. Too much juice."

"The reptiles stole our equipment!" said Robo

Ayla's eyes fluttered. She looked at the large metal creature before her. "What you say?"

"I repeat: The reptiles stole our equipment!"

The woman's eyes widened. "Reptiles!" she exclaimed as she leapt up.

"Yeah," said Lucca.

"We go to their lair!" she said. "Someone stay here and keep an eye on village for me!"

Lucca raised her hand. "I'll stay here."

Ayla nodded. "Okay, I know where reptiles hide in forest! Come, we go see!" She dashed out of her hut.

"I assume we should follow her," said Robo.

Crono nodded and withdrew his sword. He ran out of the hut, following the prehistoric fighter across the open plain towards the forest.

The sun had risen to the middle of the sky, casting down rays of heat upon the dense jungle. Tropical birds sung within its branches. Several apes swung on the branches, and a few lizards scampered across the ground.

Ayla stood at the edge, looking into its deep, dark interior.

"Wait, Ayla!" said Robo.

She turned around and saw two figures running across the grassy plain. Crono had his sword out, slicing through any obstacles that stood in their way. Robo was trying to keep up as well as possible.

"This is jungle," she said. "Be careful, many poison animals in here!"

Crono nodded. The woman turned and plowed through the thick brush. The boy followed her, swatting at the thick vines that hung across their path. Robo plowed through anything else that was left.

They continued for what seemed to be hours. The sun trekked through the sky, eventually running into some clouds. Later in the day, the rains came. The jungle became humid and moist. Bugs filled the air, buzzing about.

Ayla stopped. She sniffed the air. "Hold up here," she said.

Crono put his sword back in his sheath and Robo relaxed his mechanical muscles. The prehistoric woman slowly crawled on the ground, sniffing lightly.

With a loud crash, Ayla leapt into the air and tackled a shadowy figure. The figure yelled as the prehistoric woman pounded it with her fists.

After giving it a severe beating, she stood up and held the figure in her hands. The limited light shined on it. The figure was a tall, blonde-haired man wearing a purple loincloth with a strap across his shoulder.

"Kino!" she shouted.

"Ayla, me sorry!" said the figure.

"Who is this?" asked Robo.

"This Kino," said Ayla. "He my friend from village. Did you steal Crono's stuff?"

The bruised man closed his eyes. "Yes."

Ayla dropped him. He stood up. "Kino was jealous, because Ayla like Crono better."

The prehistoric woman shook her head and looked at her victim. "No, Ayla like Kino best!" she said. "Crono just friend!"

"Really?" asked Kino.

"Yes! Now apologize!"

"Sorry, Crono," said the blonde-haired man.

"Now give Crono back stuff!" ordered Ayla.

The man shook his head. "I don't have stuff."

A look of surprise crossed Ayla's face. "What?"

"The reptiles take!" he said. "They go that way!" He pointed to a cave several meters away.

Ayla looked at it. "Dinosaur lair," she said. "Kino, go back to village and watch Lucca."

"Right," said the man. He limped out of sight towards the edge of the jungle. Ayla watched him go.

"Kino is man, so if Ayla die, he become new chief," she said.

Crono bowed his head.

The prehistoric woman looked at him. "Come on! We close to stuff now!" She pointed to the dark cave ahead and ran towards it.

In the depths of the cave, several hundred feet underground, a lone figure stood in a fire-lit room. He was three feet tall and had a red robe around his neck. He was similar in shape to the reptile-men that inhabited the prehistoric world. His teeth were razor sharp.

In his hands was a strange, wand-like object. He held it, studying it intently. He pushed several of the buttons with his claws. Nothing happened.

"Could the humans make something this advanced?" he asked himself.

In the shadows, behind a group of stalagmites, the three heroes crouched. Ayla peered over them, looking at the green figure. "Azala!" she whispered.

Crono poked his head up and saw the short, green man. Robo looked over the stalagmites. "Ah, the leader of the reptiles," he said.

"Cover me," said Ayla. She leapt over the stalagmites and made a mad dash for Azala.

The reptile turned around. He put away the gate key and held out his hand. His mind sharpened, and he could feel the air around him.

An unseen barrier Ayla stopped in her tracks. She could not move, no matter how much she struggled. She kicked and punched, but could not break free of the invisible force.

"Ayla, the leader of the humans," said Azala. "I have you in my grasp now. You're done for."

Crono leapt over the stalagmites with his sword in hand. Robo broke them in half and plowed through them, with his laser cannon at the ready.

"You... outnumbered... Azala..." said Ayla.

He took a step back. "My psychic powers will not take care of all of you," he said.

"Give us back the gate key!" said Robo.

Azala took another step back. "Maybe I could use a little help here," he said. He snapped his fingers.

There was a loud, thudding sound. Crono, Robo, and Ayla turned around. In the cave they had just traveled through was a massive monster if ever there was one.

He stood eight feet tall and had powerful muscles the size of watermelons. He had the head of a triceratops. His legs were like powerful pistons. His entire body was covered in scales.

"Meet Nizabel," said Azala. "I'm sure you will make the best of friends." The reptile king released his invisible hold on Ayla and let her fall to the ground. He turned around and ran into a small cave in the back of the room.

The dinosaur roared and flexed its muscles. Crono held his sword at the ready, and Robo charged up his laser cannon. Ayla held out her fists, ready to fight.

The prehistoric woman attacked first. She leapt through the air and tried to punch the creature in its soft stomach. She felt the painful impact on the creature's scales. She rolled away from the beast, back to where Crono stood.

"Get him, Crono!" she said.

The boy needed no further encouragement. He leapt into the air and pointed his sword downward, ready to stab the giant dinosaur. He tried to cut the beast, but he could not penetrate its tough scales.

The dinosaur swatted him with its powerful arms. He flew back against the wall like a rag doll. He slid to the ground and got back up onto his feet.

"Allow me," said Robo.

The mechanical creature raised his laser cannon and leveled it at the dinosaur. An intense surging of power filled the cannon's barrel. He aimed and took fire. The beam soared through the air and struck the dinosaur in the chest.

The creature did not move an inch.

"Is too strong!" shouted Ayla.

The creature flexed its muscles and charged. Ayla was frozen with fear. It shook the ground as it came towards her. It swung its massive fist and sent her flying into a rock. She slid to the ground.

Robo turned around and raised his other arm to fight the monster. He swung it through the air to strike it, but the creature grabbed on to his fist. He picked up the robot and heaved it through the air and into the wall.

He slowly picked himself up and looked at the creature. "He... is... too... strong... for... physical... attacks," said Robo, his computer brain scrambled.

Crono heard the robot. He stood up and concentrated on the dinosaur. He raised his hands in the air and felt the familiar tingling in his fingertips. He saw the bolt of lightning streak through the air and strike the dinosaur.

It lurched. A layer of scales fell off of its body and clattered to the floor.

Ayla looked at it wearily. The monster looked stunned. "Crono! Do again!" she shouted.

Crono raised his arms in the air again. He let loose with another blast of lightning from the sky. It coursed through the dinosaur's body and shook off another layer of scales.

"Do more!" said Ayla.

The boy shot several more blasts of lightning from the sky into the dinosaur. More and more scales fell off, exposing its bare flesh.

The monster roared and ran towards Crono. He sidestepped the beast and drug his saber into its side. Nizabel roared and tripped onto the ground.

Ayla sprung up from the rock and rushed over to the fallen dinosaur. She repeatedly punched its bare hide, beating the monster black and blue. Robo joined the prehistoric woman and pulverized the creature.

Nizabel roared. It jumped up and turned around. It whacked Ayla and Robo, sending them to the ground. It raised its foot, ready to stomp them flat.

Ayla closed her eyes.

She heard Nizabel roar. She slid her fingers apart and peeked through them. A solid beam of electricity coursed over her head and traveled into the body of the dinosaur. It stumbled backwards, trying to deal with the intense pain of the electricity flowing through its nerves.

Crono stood at the opposite end of the room, projecting the intense beam. He held it in his two hands, pushing the beam into the creature's body.

Nizabel gave one final roar and fell over from the intense electrocution. Ayla stood up and watched as currents of electricity danced around the dead dinosaur.

"Th-the apes beat Nizabel?" said a voice.

Ayla turned around. Azala was peeking out from behind a hidden passageway.

"Give back stuff to Crono! Now!" ordered Ayla.

Azala dropped the key on the ground. "Here, take your filthy device!" he said. He looked at the other two.

"Remember, we reptiles will come to rule the world one day!" he shouted. He dashed off into the secret corridor. Ayla walked up to it.

"Ayla no give up! Ayla fight you to death!"

Crono ignored Ayla's threats to the reptile king. He walked over and picked up the key. He reached into his satchel and pulled out the red stone.

Melchior, here we come.

At the hut in the primitive village, Ayla sat on her bamboo chair next to Kino. Crono, Robo, and Lucca stood in the middle of the room, facing the two prehistoric people.

"Well, I guess this is goodbye," said Lucca.

"You go now?" asked Ayla.

Crono nodded.

"We shall visit again someday," said Robo.

"Good luck," said Kino.

Lucca waved goodbye and turned around. Crono shook Kino's hand and waved goodbye to Ayla. Robo bowed and left with the party. They headed towards the mountain with the gate key in hand, ready to head back to 1000 A.D. and Melchior.

X: The Road to Magus

Melchior sat on his porch in his rocking chair, enjoying the evening breeze. He smoked his pipe, watching the sun slowly sink behind the horizon. The grass rolled over in waves. An owl hooted in the distance.

"Ah, this is the life," he said. "Huh?"

Three figures appeared on the crest of the hill. He squinted, trying to make them out. One had spiky hair, one had a helmet, and one was rather large.

"So my friends came to visit me again," he said.

The three figures arrived on his doorstep. He looked them over. "You look tired from your journeys. Please come in and have some refreshments."

Lucca shook her head. "I'm afraid we have some very important business," she said.

"Oh?" said Melchior.

"Let us go inside," said Robo.

Melchior got out of his rocking chair and opened the door. He turned on the light switch and walked in. He sat down in his chair by his coffee table. Crono walked in, followed by Lucca, then Robo. Crono sat down on his couch, and Lucca sat opposite of him.

"So what important business do you have for me?" he asked.

Crono reached into his satchel. He deposited the pieces of the broken Masamune on the table. He fished deeper and pulled out the chunk of Dreamstone and set it down gently.

"So you found some Dreamstone," he said.

"Yes," said Robo.

"Then I can repair your Masamune," said Melchior. "Tell me, where did you get the Masamune and the Dreamstone?"

Lucca shook her head. "I don't think your heart could take it," she said.

The old man lowered his head. "Yes, I suppose your right," he replied. "Give me awhile to fix this." He picked up the two pieces of the Masamune and the Dreamstone and walked down into his basement.

"I shall assist him," said Robo. He walked down the stairs after the old man.

Lucca looked longingly at the stairs. "Well, Crono, I suppose we ought to..." She realized she was wasting her breath when he saw the boy fast asleep on Melchior's couch.

"Can't you stay awake for a little while, kiddo?" she asked. Slowly she sunk into her chair and dozed off.


He stirred. He opened his eyes.

"The Masamune is done!" exclaimed Lucca.

Crono snapped to attention. He sat upright on the couch and looked around the living room. Melchior stood by the coffee table with Robo. "Here it is: the mighty Masamune," said the old man.

He looked down at the coffee table. In front of his eyes was the most awesome weapon he had ever seen. The small holes originally in the blade were gone. It had been bent back to its proper shape, and the handle had been reattached. It shimmered brilliantly in the sunlight. Its very essence seemed to brighten the room.

"What a weapon," said Lucca.

Crono picked it up and examined it. Truly, this was the weapon that was powerful enough to slay Magus.

"I believe that is everything," said Melchior. The party turned to him.

"Thank you for your patience in showing me your ways of metalworking," said Robo.

"Yes, thank you for repairing this weapon," said Lucca.

"Good luck in your journey, and may our paths cross again," said the old man.

Lucca turned to Crono. "I know just who can help us," she said. "Let's go back to 600 A.D."

He nodded and motioned for them to leave.

The End of Time was quiet as usual. Marle sat next to the old man, chatting and telling stories. The old man poked at the ground with his cane.

"So then my dad said, 'Who took my crown?'" She burst into laughter and shook the old man.

He dropped his cane. He looked at the spirited young woman. "Um, yes, quite a story," he remarked. "You should write stories for magazines."

A whirring sound came from the garden of the light pillars. The two turned around and looked at the figures stepping out of the column.

Crono slowly emerged, followed by Robo and Lucca. They turned and walked to the central square where the lamppost stood.

"Well?" asked Marle.

"Judge for yourself," said Lucca. "Show her, Crono!"

The boy reached into his satchel and pulled out the Masamune. Its brilliant sheen cast a dazzling light on the dismal square.

"So you found the Dreamstone," said the old man. "Very good. I assume you wish to slay Magus now."

"Yes," said Lucca. "But after our long journey, we are tired."

"I, too, need recharging," said Robo.

The old man idly stamped the ground with his cane. "Perhaps you two deserve a rest," he said.

"What do you mean?" asked Lucca.

"Crono, why don't you take Marle along for this one and leave the other two here," said the geezer. "She seems to be fully rested. Not to mention that she's been bugging the hell out of me."

"Hey!" shouted Marle.

The boy laughed.

"Y'know what, Crono," said Lucca. "I'd love to see you beat up Magus, but I don't think I have the energy to follow you."

"I support Lucca's position," said Robo. "We shall remain here until you return."

He nodded. Marle stood up. "Well, I guess its settled," said the princess. "You never know, my ice magic may come in handy!"

He nodded. Robo walked over to the lamppost and sat down. Lucca began conversation with the old man.

"Oh, by the way," said the geezer. "Be careful of Magus. He has several potent magic barriers that reflect different types of spells."

Crono nodded. He turned to face the garden of light pillars. He opened the gate and walked to the column that led to 600 A.D. He walked into it. Marle waved goodbye and stepped into it with him. With a whirring sound, they were gone.

"Good luck," said the old man.

A narrow beam of light shined onto the floor of Frog's hovel. He sat in his grass chair, reading a lengthy novel. His cape draped over his coat rack, and his sword was on the table. A fly buzzed about his head.

"Blasted fly," he said. "Taste my wrath." He opened his mouth and lashed out his long tongue. It adhered to the buzzing insect. He pulled it into his mouth and swallowed it.

A figure leapt through the hole in the roof. Frog looked up at it. "Who goes there?" he said aloud.

Another figure fell from above. "It's Crono and Marle," said the princess.

Frog eased back into his chair. "Ah, so thee have returned," he said. "What brings you to my humble home?"

Crono reached into his satchel and withdrew the shiny blade. He walked over to the amphibian and knelt before him. He held the sword in his hands for him to view.

"Th-this sword," he said. "'Tis the Masamune?"

Crono nodded.

Frog ran his hand over its cold exterior and waved it in the sunlight. Slowly he became lost in his own thoughts.

"Frog?" asked Marle.

He gazed into the sword...

Night left an eerie glow on Guardia Castle. Several clouds gathered over it like an omen of darkness. Rain was coming. The birds had returned to their nests and were preparing for the great storm ahead.

Inside the castle, the throne room was well lit and warm. A heavily-clad knight knelt on the red carpet before King Guardia and Queen Leene. His visor was up. Around his neck was a shiny gold medal. In his hand was a shiny, well-sculpted blade. On the blade's handle was the word Melchior.

"My lord, I request permission to seek out and destroy Magus," said the knight.

"You have confirmed his location, Cyrus?" asked the king.

"Yes," said Cyrus. "The scouts report that he is hiding in the Porre Mountains during the weekend to conduct some sort of spell. I shall go there and confront him."

"I shall come, too," said a voice.

The knight turned around. Standing behind him on bended knee was his childhood friend, Glenn. He was around the age of eighteen, and had green hair and wore a vest. At his side was his trusty broadsword.

"You wish to come also, Glenn?" asked Cyrus.

"Yes," replied the boy. "I wish to test my skills against Magus's henchman, Slash."

Cyrus raised an eyebrow. "You believe you are ready to take him on?"

"Yes, my training has been advanced," said the boy. "I wish to accompany you and defeat Slash and Magus."

The knight nodded. "Then it is settled. We shall set out for the Porre Mountains immediately."

Queen Leene rose from her chair. "Cyrus, be careful," she said.

The knight laughed. "As long as there is life in these bones I shall return to this castle."

She turned to Glenn. "You be careful too, Glenn," she warned.

He knelt before her. "Be sound of your health, your majesty."

Cyrus stood up. He looked at the throne room door. "Shall we be off?"

Ten years hath past, thought Frog. I shall never forget what happened next...

The mountain was being doused with rain. It cascaded off the rocks in sheets. Lightning danced in the sky like a demon. The clouds blocked out the sun, plunging the land into a deep darkness.

A bridge extended over a chasm filled with mist. It was made of wood and extended straight through a waterfall. The rain splattered across its wooden planks. Thunder loomed in the distance, creating a dark mood.

Two figures stood on the wooden bridge. One was a strange, humanoid creature that had pale, blue skin with yellow eyes. He wore a vest made of chain-links. In his hand was a sharp katana. "So, you believe you are ready to challenge me, Glenn?"

Glenn stood his ground firmly. In his strong hands was his broadsword. He stared down his opponent with a fierce glare. "I'm ready if you are, Sir Slush."

A red fire came over the creature's eyes. "That's Slash, you blithering fool!" He raised his sword. "For that, I shall cut you open and dangle you over this bridge!"

He charged forth and brought his sword down on Glenn. The boy dodged it and backed himself against the rope bridge. Slash's saber got stuck in the wooden planks.

"A master swordsman, eh?" asked Glenn. He stabbed at Slash.

The strange creature released his saber and leapt over the boy. He swiftly gave him a kick in the back. Glenn fell to the ground and dropped his broadsword over the edge of the bridge.

He watched it plunge into the mists below. "My sword!"

Slash watched as Glenn reached into thin air for his lost sword. He walked over to his saber which was still stuck in the planks. He gave it a good tug and withdrew it.

Glenn turned around. He saw Slash standing over him with his sword at the ready. A bolt of lightning struck behind the swordsman, creating a hellish glow around him. "Dear Glenn, you seem to be in a predicament!"

The boy tried to back up. He panicked. "Uh..."

"You failed the test, my boy!" Slash raised his sword to stab the young lad.

A bright flash swung through the air. Slash's sword was chopped in half. He dropped it on the bridge in pure shock. Another lightning-quick flash took the wind out of the swordsman's stomach. He backed up against the ropes for support. He lost his balance and toppled over the edge to the mist below.

Glenn looked up, horrified. Cyrus stood over him with his sword down. "You may have failed this test, Glenn, but there will be others," said the knight. "This was a learning experience."

The boy nodded.

"Too bad this is the real thing for you, Cyrus," said a voice.

The young lad stood up and took a step back. Cyrus held up the Masamune, ready to strike.

A ghastly image emerged from the waterfall. His face was guarded by his cape. His long blue hair hung down past his shoulders, and in his other hand he carried a scythe.

"Magus!" said Cyrus.

A flash of lightning illuminated the bridge and its surroundings. Magus held up his cape, careful not to allow his visage to be seen. "So you have come, Cyrus," said the warlock. "And you brought your little boy with you."

"Leave him alone, vile sorcerer," said the knight.

"Word has it that you have come to slay me," said Magus. "Is this true?"

"By the Masamune, your blood shall be splattered across this rickety platform!" Cyrus raised the sword, ready to cut down the evil warlock.

"Hah! Take your best shot!"

Cyrus charged forward and prepared to stab Magus. He was within striking distance as he prepared to slice him open.

Magus tightened his glove and held out his hand. A blast of crackling matter shot out from his finger. It traveled through the air and split the Masamune in two. The blade clattered to the planks. Cyrus took a step back and dropped the handle.

"Your sword is no match for me, Cyrus," said Magus.

"Glenn!" said the knight. "Escape, now!"

"I can't leave you, Cyrus!" said the boy.

"That's right," said Magus. He held out his gloved hand again and sent a beam of cold in the boy's direction. The water at his feet froze him solid, preventing him from moving.

"Now watch as I slay your master!" said the warlock.

Cyrus raised the handle. "I'll fight you with nothing but the stub of my sword, sorcerer!"

Magus laughed. "I believe you deserve a most excruciating death for even thinking you could live to tell about my power," said the warlock. The wind picked up, and the lightning flashed several more times.

Magus held out his fist and crossed it over his chest several times in a strange pattern. Several black orbs hovered around him. He pointed his gloved hand at Cyrus.

The orbs floated through the air and formed a circle around the knight. Then several lines connected the orbs, forming a triangle around him. "Behold, my most powerful spell: dark matter!"

Cyrus tried to move, but the orbs held him in place. A strange humming sound surrounded him. The triangle began to spin around him. A shadow enveloped his body. Magus rotated his fist, making the triangle spin faster.

The knight struggled against the intense pain of the warlock's spell. The darkness absorbed his body, corrupting his blood and brain.

"Can you hear it Cyrus?" said Magus, mockingly putting his hand to his ear. "It's the sound of the Reaper calling!"

Magus dropped his fist. There was a loud tearing sound as the orbs disappeared.

Cyrus's armor clattered to the planks, empty.

"Cyyyyyyyyyrrrrrrruuuuussss!" shouted Glenn. He broke free of the ice surrounding his feet and picked up the broken handle of the Masamune. He looked down at his comrade's armor.


"What's the matter, kid? Cat got your tongue?"

He looked up at the warlock. "You..."

"You dare challenge me with the remains of that puny sword?"

Glenn roared and charged forth. Magus held out his hand and cast a blue sphere outwards. It hit the lad in the chest. The energy surged throughout his chest, consuming him.

"I think you need a more fitting form," said Magus.

"W-what have you done to me?" asked the boy.

"Goodbye, young lad." Magus raised his gloved hand and pushed forward. Glenn was thrown off of the bridge and into the mist below.

"Cyyyyyruuuussss!" he yelled.

"Frog?" said Marle.

Ten years hath passed...


Can I possibly do it...?


"Yes?" asked the amphibian.

"Are you alright?" asked the princess.

He looked at the Crono, standing before him holding the Masamune. He looked at Marle, who was holding the Hero Medal.

"I will not aid you in defeating Magus," he said. He stood up from his chair and walked to the stairway in the back of the room. "Crono, you have the might. I shall show you a secret underwater passage to Magus's isle."

Crono put away the Masamune. He looked at Marle who was holding the hero medal with a blank look on her face. "I guess there's some kind of background story here," she said.

He nodded and turned to the stairway that Frog had just climbed. He walked over to it and climbed, heading towards the forest floor. Marle followed him.

The rain poured heavily as the heroes stood at the base of a mountain by the sea. It shattered off of the rocks in torrents. The clouds poured forth a blast of lightning. The wind brought cracks of thunder towards them.

"What are we doing here?" whispered Marle to Crono.

The boy shrugged his shoulders. He stared at the flat, blank face of the cliff before them. It shot up about a hundred feet, and there were no signs of any entrance anywhere.

Frog walked forward and put his hands on the wall. He rested his head against it. Tears flowed from his eyes.

"Frog..." said Marle She began to walk towards him to comfort him. Crono held her back.

The rains poured steadily by the lake under the mist. Glenn had washed up on a stony shore that was deep in the canyon in the Porre Mountains. A waterfall shattered off of the rocks behind him. Droplets of rain cut through the mist above.

Glenn raised his head and opened his eyes. He looked up into the mist above. The rickety bridge was out of sight. "Magus!" he yelled. No response came.

He stood up and called towards him. "Magus! Come down here you coward!"

His voice echoed off of the sheer walls. He lowered his head. "Cyrus..."

Something was floating in the lake. Glenn looked at the strange object on the water. It washed onto the rocky shore. He picked it up. It was Cyrus's medal.

"The Hero's Medal..."

He looked down at the handle of the Masamune in his hand. He turned it over, looking at the blast marks from Magus's spell.

"Poor Cyrus..." He looked at his hand. It was green and covered with spots.

"What is this?" he said. He brought his hands up to his face. They were webbed and green. "No, this can't be!"

Glenn rushed up to the lake. He looked in the water and saw his reflection. Instead of his normal, human features, he saw a frog's face. He had a large mouth and grand eyes. Spots covered his head.


The rain shattered off of Frog's head. He looked up at the face of the cliff. Water poured down in torrents. Lightning crackled in the sky.

He turned to his two friends who were waiting patiently. They looked down at the ground at the puddles forming at their feet.

Frog saw the vision of the ghastly warlock flash before his eyes. He saw the horrible black matter spell being cast. He heard the terrible ripping sound as Cyrus was vaporized by Magus's dark magic. It had been permanently burned into his brain.

How can I be such a coward? he thought. How can I refuse the opportunity to avenge what he did to my best friend?

Frog turned to Crono. The boy looked at him, waiting for the amphibian to speak.

"Hand'eth over the Masamune, Crono," he said.

The boy reached into his satchel and pulled out the sword. Marle handed the medal to Crono. He thrust it into the ground before Frog and held the medal.

Frog walked up to the Masamune and studied it. He grasped it firmly with one hand.

"My name is Glenn!" he shouted. "Before me lies Cyrus's hopes and dreams, the Masamune, and the Hero's Medal."

He grasped it with the other hand. He felt full of energy, ready to fight once again.

"Forth I shall go! I shall slay Magus and restore Cyrus's honor!"

Frog pulled it from the ground and raised it high over his head. A crack of lightning erupted from the sky, illuminating the surrounding area.

He turned and walked to the face of the cliff. He raised the Masamune high in the air and brought it down upon the rocks.

With a thunderous crash, the cliff collapsed inward. A dark cavern was revealed.

"Come! Let us go and destroy Magus!"

Crono withdrew his sword, ready to follow Frog. Marle pulled out her crossbow and loaded it.

The amphibian put the Masamune in his sheath and stepped into the unknown, followed by his two friends.

XI: Magus's Castle

The rain was gone by the time the heroes had reached Magus's island. The clouds of thunder had been replaced by the darkness of night. Stars were speckled everywhere. A full moon stood tall in the sky, casting an eerie glow over the isle.

Frog walked forward and stopped under a wretched, twisted tree. Several bats left the tree in a hurry. They flew towards the moon. Under the glowing yellow orb was a monstrous structure if ever there was one.

Crono looked up at the castle before him. His mind raced in awe. The structure stood twenty stories in the air. At the top was a dome, topped by a horrid statue that looked like a dog with wings.

"This can only be the castle of the Dark Lord Magus," said Frog.

"We're with you on this one, Frog," said Marle.

Crono nodded and withdrew his sword. He walked up to the front door and pushed it open. Frog followed with the Masamune at his side. Marle had her crossbow loaded and ready.

The first room of Magus's castle was similar to that of Guardia Castle. A pale, red carpet stretched from the front door up a flight of stairs. The platform above the floor split off right and left into two wings. On either side of the steps were strange, gargoyle statues. The windows were incredibly dusty and let in virtually no light.

Crono scanned the room with his sword at the ready. Frog ascended the stairs, followed by Marle. They looked around for any signs of movement.

"'Tis a quiet night," commented Frog.

"Not quiet enough," said a voice.

Frog turned around. Crono dashed up the steps. Marle stared dead ahead.

"Ozzie!" shouted Frog.

"Greetings, Glenn," said the floating, green creature. "Or should I say Sir Froggy."

"Where is Magus?" asked the amphibian.

"Oh, I'm afraid Sir Magus is a tad busy right now," replied the creature. "In the meantime, you'll have to deal with me, Slash the swordsman, Flea the magician, and..." He snapped his fingers. A group of monsters walked out from under the steps and ascended towards the trio. "The legion of Magus's troops!"

With a hideous cackle, Ozzie disappeared from sight.

Several familiar monsters were moving up towards the party. The fat henchmen, a group of large bats, and two or three gargoyles made their way up the stairs.

Marle aimed her crossbow at the lead henchman and let fly. The arrow cut through the armor and knocked him backwards. The others struggled under the weight of their fallen comrade and shove him down the stairs.

A large, blood-sucking bat flew overhead. It circled around the trio and dive-bombed. Crono slashed through its wing with his sword, grounding the foul beast.

A gargoyle leapt from behind the rest of the crowd and went after Frog. The amphibian dodged its razor-sharp claws. He held his Masamune and cut through the demon's side. It split it in half with no effort.

The other monsters took a step back. Marle put back her crossbow and raised her hands over her head. A gust of wind sent her hair fluttering. She felt the coldness in her palms. She released the blast of ice and froze the group of beasts.

"Amazing," said Frog. "How did thou create such a frozen blast?"

Marle turned to him. "Magic powers," she said.

Crono nodded.

"After we defeat Magus we will show you how to attain them," she said.

Frog nodded. He sheathed his sword. "Magus has three main henchmen," he said. "They are Slash the swordsman, Flea the magician, and Ozzie the general. Slash resides in the West wing of the castle, while Flea resides in the East. Ozzie's layer is somewhere in between. When we defeat the first two, we shall find Ozzie."

Marle nodded. "Who do we face first?"

Frog looked at the ceiling. "I believe we should face the magician first," he said.

Crono nodded and walked towards the Eastern Wing of Magus's castle.

After a long walk down a dark, dismal hallway, the party came to a throne room. It was smaller than the Guardia throne room. The windows were dark and gloomy, and the shades that blew across them were shredded. Cobwebs hung in the corner.

The dismal red carpet led to a throne meant for a demon. Sitting on the chair was a strange creature. It had a yellow head and shoulder pads. Long, stringy tentacles hung from its head.

"Flea the Magician, I presume?" asked Frog.

The creature growled.

The amphibian wasted no time in withdrawing his sword and slicing through the wiry creature. It cleaved the monster neatly in half, sending its tentacles scattering to the ground.

Marle looked at the fallen creature. "That was much too easy," she said.

"Foolish humans," said a voice.

The party searched the small room. Marle had her crossbow loaded, ready to strike any wandering enemy. Frog held his Masamune, and Crono pulled his sword from his sheath.

A small bat flew from a perch high above. It fluttered downward and landed in front of the heap of tentacles left by the creature.

With a poof of smoke, the bat disappeared. In its place, an attractive, tan-skinned woman stood. Her hair was braided, and she wore white gloves.

"Keep your guard up," said Frog. "This is no ordinary woman."

Flea's face twisted. "Hey, wait up, I'm a guy!"

Marle's eyes bugged. She trained her crossbow on the magician. "That is a guy?"

The magician laughed. "Male... female... what's the difference?" he said. "Beauty is power, and I've got beauty." He turned to the amphibian.

"Oh, poor Froggy. You must be so lonely since Cyrus has left you!"

"Would you like me to carve out thy tongue, Flea?" asked the amphibian.

"To be turned into such a hideous creature... how dreadful!"

Crono held his sword at the ready.

"Well, now that you've brought some friends, I'm sure I can show you all a good time!" He waved his hands in the air. "Prepare to be amazed!"

The surroundings of the throne room disappeared. Stars filled the sky, above and below. They began to spin rapidly. Crono focused on the magician in front of him, not letting the stars distract him.

Marle attacked first with a blast from her crossbow. It sailed through the air, dead on course for Flea. He teleported out of the way, letting the deadly projectile sink into the chair.

Flea turned to the princess. "You had better sharpen your aim, little girl!"

He shrieked as he felt a deep pain flash across his face. He turned and saw Crono standing there, readying for another strike with his katana. Flea felt his face. Blood streaked down his cheek, ruining his face.

He turned and faced the boy. "You wretched little urchin!" he yelled. "You will pay for that!"

Crono laughed, inviting the magician's attack.

Flea raised his hands. Two orbs of fire formed in them, lighting up the strange void they were in.

He released the blasts of flame. Crono ducked and rolled out of the way. The blasts shattered upon the unseen floor.

"I'll get you yet!"

Crono held his sword out and got ready to make a dashing strike. He charged forward, concentrating on the magician.

She held up her palm and yawned. A dark green beam shot out from her hand and struck Crono. He fell backwards and dropped his sword.

"My poison blast will keep you at bay," said Flea.

Crono looked down at his hands. They were turning a pale green. He felt weak, as though he could barley move.

"Lad, you look a bit sick!" said Frog.

Flea turned to the amphibian. "How bout a kiss for a frog?" he asked.

Frog leveled the Masamune at her. "Keep your vile magic away from me, you fiend!"

Flea laughed. He held up his outstretched palm to his hand. He blew an imaginary kiss to Frog. A strange beam of dust filled the air, and it filled the amphibian's sensitive nose.

He looked around the room. Crono began to shift slightly. Flea began to look like Marle. The princess began to look like a demon.

"Ah! More monsters!" he cried. Frog dashed at Marle with the Masamune.

"What are you doing, Frog?" she asked.

"You have even made her sound like Marle!" said the amphibian.

Flea laughed and watched as the princess dodged the swipes with the legendary sword. She ducked and backpedaled, trying to get away from the confused Frog.

"I shall slay thee!"

"Frog!" shouted Marle.

Flea laughed and watched.

Marle turned to the sick Crono. "Crono! Get your sword!"

The boy rolled over and looked at the battle between the confused amphibian and the princess. He looked at Marle with an uncomprehending glance.

"Just do it!" she yelled, dodging another thrust from Frog.

Crono groaned. He felt sick all over. He crawled across the ground to his katana. He stretched his arm out for it, trying to grasp it.

A foot stepped on it, preventing him from picking it up. "I don't think so," said Flea.

The boy looked up at him. He concentrated his mental strength. With all his might, he felt a familiar electricity flowing through his body. He stretched out his hands and pointed them up at the magician.

A surge of lightning leapt from his fingers. It coursed through Flea's body, sending him backwards. He fell to the ground, momentarily paralyzed by the electricity.

Crono picked up his sword and summoned his strength to stand up. He looked at Marle. Between dodging the strikes from Frog, she was concentrating her healing energy. A rainbow-like glow surrounded her.

"Crono!" she shouted. "Reflect my magic and send it across the room!"

He nodded and held his katana up like a baseball bat. Marle held out her hands. The rainbow luminescence crossed the room, forming into a beam. Crono swung at it. It traveled down the sword and coursed through his body. He felt the sickness brought on by the poison leave him.

The beam scattered across the room. It struck Flea, enveloping him in a wave of pain. He struggled on the floor, trying to endure it.

Marle's healing beam penetrated Frog. The amphibian's mind began to clear. The demon in front of him was replaced with the image of the princess. The world stopped shifting, and everything became normal again for him.

"I... tried to kill you, m'lady?" he asked the princess.

"Just forget it and let's finish off this cross-dressing freak!" she said.

"Right!" said Frog. "Crono! Let us strike her down with our blades!"

The boy nodded and smiled. He held up his katana, ready to charge at the magician.

Flea stood up, confused by the electricity blast and the heal wave. The world blurred back into focus. He saw Frog and Crono, their blades up and ready to strike.

"No!" he shouted.

The two warriors simultaneously charged forth. They raised their blades high in the air. A red rage came over the boy's face. He felt the anger of a raging volcano. Frog beared his teeth, ready to strike down the magician.

Their blades converged on Flea's chest. They sliced straight through and emerged at the other side. Frog and Crono turned around.

"How can this be?" asked Flea. "Sir Magusssss..."

A tremendous burst of flame consumed him. The flare illuminated the room until it finally died down. Nothing remained but a wisp of smoke. The world of stars stopped spinning. They disappeared, and were replaced with the familiar surroundings of the throne room.

"Well, one down, two to go until we get to Magus," said Marle.

Frog turned and looked at the exit. "Yes, let us face Sir Slash," he said. "I have an old score to settle, and a lesson to finally complete."

With that, the trio left the smoking pile of ashes left by Flea.

The party traced their steps back to the center room of the castle where they had first arrived. They then continued on to the west wing.

Crono, Frog, and Marle entered into a new throne room. This one was different from Flea's though. The carpet on the floor was shredded apart. The walls were made of solid brick. There were no windows.

Many bones were scattered throughout the room, giving it the image of a graveyard. Empty eye sockets glared up at the three warriors. Several rusted swords and shields lay next to the long dead men.

"It looks like this guy keeps his victims around," said Marle.

A strange groaning filled the throne room. "What was that?" asked Frog.

Strange, bluish glows filled the empty eyes of the skulls. The bones rolled together and formed skeletons to support the heads. They stood up and retrieved their weapons.

"Not again," said Marle. She shouldered her crossbow and raised her arms over her head.

Crono shot a blast of lightning and took out two of the dead warriors before they even had time to attack. The electricity plowed through the skeleton warriors, sending their bones flying in all directions.

Marle formed an ice ball in her hands. She tossed it into the crowd of skeletons. It froze them upon contact, preventing them from moving.

Frog raised his Masamune, ready to combat the remaining two. They leered at him with their empty sockets, their rusty weapons ready to cut. One slashed at the amphibian with its blade. Frog ducked and cut the skeleton at the mid-section. It toppled over backwards and shattered on the floor.

The other leaped at him with its spear. Frog lopped its head off with his Masamune. The rest of the bones fell to the ground and shattered. The skull rolled over.

The remains of the skeleton warriors slowly disappeared into thin air. Their rusty weapons also vanished.

"Very good," said a voice. "At least you passed the welcoming committee."

Frog turned around. A familiar, blue humanoid stood at the door to the west throne room. "It's been ages, Sir Slush!"

A red anger filled the creature's eyes. "That's Slash you slimy amphibian!" said the swordsman. "Still playing the comedian, eh Glenn? You would be singing a different tune if Cyrus had not been there to save you. You would have fit right in with those skeleton warriors you just defeated."

Frog withdrew the Masamune. He stared down Slash.

"Ah, so you have repaired your friend's sword," he said. "Too bad it will do you no good."

The amphibian growled. Anger flowed through his thoughts. "Thy blood shall drip from the Masamune when I am finished with thee," said Frog.

Slash pulled a wicked katana from his sheath. He waved it threateningly at the party. "Let's see if your friends have the skill it takes to defeat a master swordsman."

He looked at Marle and charged. Anger filled his red eyes as he beared down on the princess. He held his saber in the air and prepared to strike.

Marle pulled her crossbow of her shoulder and snapped a shot off at the oncoming swordsman. It hit him in the chest, but ricocheted off of his steel armor.

Slash brought his sword down on the princess. With nothing left to defend herself, she fell backwards. The swordsman dropped his saber and landed it between her legs.

"That was too close," she said.

Crono raised his arms high in the air. Electricity crackled about his fingers. A blast of lightning erupted from the ceiling and struck the blue warrior. It deflected off of his armor and traveled into the cold ground.

"Magic attacks do not work against me, boy," said Slash. "You'll have to cut me up with your sword."

Frog looked at Crono. "Let us join together and defeat this foul creature!"

Crono nodded and withdrew his katana. Frog gripped the Masamune tightly and looked at the blue warrior.

They charged forth with rage. Slash turned around and held up his saber, ready to fend off the advancing warriors. Crono struck first with his red sword. Slash blocked it with his katana and kicked him swiftly. The boy fell to the ground and rolled out of the way.

Frog spun through the air and brought his blade down on the blue creature. They locked swords, attempting to slice each other. The amphibian broke the clash of blades and tried to strike Slash in the mid-section. He jumped backwards, avoiding the deadly Masamune.

"Indeed you have become more powerful, Frog," said Slash. "But you pale in comparison to my skills."

He charged forward with his katana. Frog raised his sword in the air and blocked it. Slash pushed down on the Masamune, trying to break the amphibian's strength. "Give up, tadpole!"

"N... never!" he said. Frog pushed the blue warrior back and freeing himself from the clash of swords. He became tired from the intense battle.

"Today we will be dissecting frogs, class!" said Slash. He charged back at the amphibian, trying to drive his sword into his side. Frog jumped back, still trying to catch his breath from the unending onslaught of the blue warrior.

He struck again and again. Frog became backed up against the wall. He blocked the strikes from Slash with all of his might.

"Tiring, Frog?" he asked. He raised his sword high in the air, ready to deliver the fatal blow to the amphibian.

Crono held his katana, and charged towards Slash.

The blue warrior dropped his blade. Frog raised the Masamune and deflected it, clashing their blades together again. He spotted Crono on the way to help. "No, Crono!" he shouted. "I must defeat him myself!"

Marle rushed to the boy's side and held him back. "Let him go, Crono," she said. "He can beat that guy."

Crono slowly put his katana back in his sheath and watched Frog struggle under Slash's unending attack.

"You're toast, slime wad!" said Slash, pushing downward on his katana.

"N-not this time!" said Frog. He closed his eyes and concentrated. A new strength began to flow from within him. He felt it spread to his arms and legs. His whole body felt energized. I cannot lose to this scum!

Frog pushed the blade backwards, breaking the clash. Slash raised the katana to strike. The amphibian drove the Masamune towards his stomach. He jumped back.

"You will be joining Cyrus!" shouted Slash.

Frog charged forward and struck with the legendary sword. The blue warrior just managed to deflect it in time. Frog struck again, this time draining the energy of the swordsman.

"No! This cannot be!"

With one last mighty blow, Frog swung the Masamune. It knocked the katana from Slash's hand, sending it across the room.

"Surrender now, Slash!"

The warrior laughed. "You forget I am also a skilled martial artist," he said.

Frog raised the sword and sneered. The swordsman held his hands in striking position. He began to circle around the amphibian.

He leapt through the air with a flying kick. Frog ducked it and watched as the warrior sailed overhead and landed gracefully on his feet. He turned around and held out his fists. He dashed back towards him.

Slash punched left and right, trying to knock Frog out of his misery. The amphibian ducked the blows, concentrating on the blue warrior. He held his Masamune in check, eyeing up the creature's mid-section.

Frog heaved the legendary sword forward. It split through Slash's armor and sliced through his chest. He withdrew the sword and took a step back.

Slash reached down and felt the blood oozing from the wound. He felt his lungs fill with blood. "Unbelievable..." he gasped. He looked at Frog. "But falling in the line of duty for Magus... leaves me with few regrets!"

His eyes rolled into the back of his head. He fell over onto the cold floor and stiffened like a statue.

"At last I hath proved myself as a skilled swordsman," said Frog. He turned to the other two, who were standing there watching him. "Thank you for allowing my to finish this battle alone."

Crono nodded. He looked over in the corner where Slash's blade lay. He pulled out his katana and saw that it was scratched and slightly bent from all of the battles he was in. He tossed the red blade aside and walked over to the swordsman's weapon. He picked it up and examined it. It had a brilliant shine to it. He cut through the air in a mock attack.

"It shall suit you perfectly, m'lad," said Frog. He turned to the door. "Our work here has been finished. Let us find Ozzie!"

Marle shouldered her crossbow and followed the amphibian out of the room. Crono put his new saber back in his sheath and walked out of Slash's chamber.

After a long walk down the hallway of the west wing, the trio returned to the center room of the castle where they had first arrived. The moon had risen higher in the sky. The curtains by the broken windows blew harder.

"We hath defeated both Slash and Flea, yet there is no route to Ozzie," said Frog. He looked around the room. There was indeed no other wing besides the two hallways.

Marle looked around. "There must be some hidden passage," she said. She began to explore the walls, pushing in and feeling for any sort of hidden panel.

Frog turned and noticed a candle holder in the wall. He walked over to it and applied pressure. The holder slowly bent downward. A low grinding sound was heard.

The wall next to the candle holder slowly began to sink into the ground, revealing a dark passageway. A chilly gust of wind came out of it, blowing Marle's hair around. Frog looked into the dark hallway.

"How did you know that was there?" asked Marle.

Frog turned and looked at her. "The last time we were in one of Magus's strongholds a candle holder was the key to opening a door," he said. He looked back into the dark hallway. "Let us continue. Magus must be slain soon."

Crono walked up to the dark passageway and motioned for the other two to follow him. He withdrew his sword and started walking.

"He has a good sense of direction," said Marle.

They came to a large, round room with four pillars. A figure stood in the middle, cloaked in darkness. Several torches in the room flared to life, casting a warm glow on the person. Crono immediately recognized her.

Mom? he thought. He was overcome with emotion. At last, he was reunited with his mother that he had not seen for days.

She came forward and hugged him. "Oh, Crono! Where have you been? I thought you were dead!"

Marle looked at her with a questioning glance. Frog grabbed the handle of the Masamune and prepared to withdraw it in case.

His mother took her arms off of him and took a step back. "Too bad they didn't drop the guillotine," she said.

The words took a second to penetrate Crono. He was so overwhelmed with emotion that he did not realize his mother lived in 1000 A.D., while he was in 600 A.D. right now.

"Look out, lad!" said Frog.

A burst of blue flame engulfed his mother. Crono pulled his sword out and prepared for whatever monster lay behind the disguise.

A full array of monsters leapt out of the flame. There were two of the tentacle creatures with shoulder pads, two crows dressed up as ninjas, and a creature that looked like some sort of genie with pointy ears.

"Crono, wait, we shall help!" said Frog.

The boy turned around and motioned for them to stay back. This was his battle. Magus had used the image of his mother to trick him. These monsters deserved a good thrashing.

He charged forward and cut through one of the crow ninjas. It squawked and dropped the throwing star it was preparing to toss. Blood leaked from its chest.

Its companion turned and released the projectile. Crono dodged it and raised his arms in the air. He released a lightning bolt and shocked the crow monster. It squawked and died. A black wisp of smoke escaped from it.

Crono turned to the two monsters with the shoulder pads. He raised his sword and charged at one with a violent rage. It wrapped its tentacles around him and delivered a powerful shock. Not even the attack could slow the boy's rage. He yelled as he swung with his sword, ripping off the creature's tentacles.

He raised his sword in the air and plunged it into the creature's head. It screamed and fell to the floor in a bloody mess.

He turned to the other tentacle creature. It roared and extended its tentacles, ready to strike him. He yelled angrily and charged, swinging with his sword. The monster tried to dodge the slashes, but Crono cut straight through the wiry appendages of the monster and sliced through its head.

He turned to the genie with a wolf's face and pointy ears. It raised its hands in the air. A crackling jumped about his fingers.

The castle shook. A group of bricks erupted from the floor, flying upwards towards the roof. Crono was injured by several of them. He tried to dodge them, but they smacked him hard. He fell to the ground and looked up at the demon.

He looked up and raised his arms toward it. A crackling of electricity jumped about his fingers. He released a powerful ray of lightning and struck the monster. The power flowed through its veins. It fell to the floor and died.

Crono stood up and wiped his bloody nose. He looked at his companions, standing there silently. He put his sword back in his sheath and walked over to them. Marle put her hand on his shoulder, extending an unspoken gesture of comfort.

He raised his head and looked at the double door. He pointed towards it.

"Ozzie is just beyond that door," said Frog. "Let us defeat him and confront Magus!"

"Right," said Marle. She unhooked her crossbow and walked across the room to the door. She pushed it open, revealing a flight of stairs leading upwards. Crono ascended them first with his sword at the ready. Frog followed with his Masamune.

At the top of the stairs, they found a grand room with a large throne. Several windows sat behind it, casting the moon's haze upon the empty chair. Four long chains extended from the ceiling to the floor.

A deep, roaring laugh echoed throughout the chamber. Ozzie appeared in front of his throne, hovering in the air. A wide smile creased his broad face.

"Thy time hath come, Ozzie," said Frog. He withdrew the Masamune.

Ozzie laughed again. He looked at the amphibian. "Foolish Frog," he said. "Magus has already called for reinforcements! Wait until Lavos arrives. You will never be able to stand his fury!"

"Magus did create Lavos then," whispered Marle. "Or at least he will."

"But I shall take care of you in the meantime," said the green gelatinous monster. "Nothing can crack my barrier!"

He raised his arms in the air. A thick, crystal-like coating began to envelop his entire body, forming an armor around him. A muffled laughter came from within.

"The Masamune shall crack you, Ozzie!" said Frog. He charged forward and swung his sword at the crystal barrier. It bounced off of it, leaving not even a scratch. The amphibian stared in wonderment at the barrier.

A blast of energy radiated from the crystal. Frog was knocked off his feet by the wave of intensity. He looked up at the crystal, then back at Crono.

"Crono! Use your magic!" shouted Frog.

The boy nodded and threw his hands in the air. A blast of lightning shot out of the roof and struck the crystal. The electricity washed over the barrier, not even penetrating it. He took a step back.

"I told you! You cannot crack it!" said Ozzie from within.

"Let me try," said Marle. She withdrew her crossbow and took careful aim. She released an arrow. It soared through the air, dead on target for the crystal. It bounced off of it, leaving no trace of any damage.

A deep rumbling shook the room. A blast of energy was released from the crystal, knocking the three warriors off of their feet and draining them.

Frog stood up, weary from the blasts. "There must be another way to defeat him!"

Marle climbed to her feet. She looked at the chains running from the ceiling to the floor. "Frog, you said Magus has lots of traps in his castle, right?" she asked.

"Yes, why?" said Frog.

"Let's see what traps those chains trigger!" she said, pointing to the long supports.

The amphibian looked at them. "Yes, let us try!" He looked at Crono. "Lad, use your sword and chop through the links!" he said, gesturing towards the chains.

He nodded and withdrew his sword. He walked over to the first chain and tapped it for aim. He pulled it back and swung with all its might. The saber sliced through the links, making a perfect cut. The chain fell apart with no support remaining. A loud grinding was heard.

"I'm over here, fools!" said Ozzie.

A loud thud was heard as a trap door opened near Marle.

"They must be trap door triggers!" said the princess. "Frog, get the other one!" she ordered.

Frog nodded and walked over to the other set of links. He cut through them with the Masamune. The chain rapidly fell through the floor. Another loud groaning sound was heard. A thud accompanied the trap door that sprang open.

"Idiots!" said Ozzie, waiting patiently inside his barrier.

Marle raised her hands over her head. A cool feeling appeared between her palms. She felt the ball of cold form as she held it in front of her. She released it at another one of the chains. It froze on contact. In a matter of seconds, the links were weakened by the ice. They snapped with a popping sound. Another thud was heard as a trap door fell open.

"It's gotta be this one," said Marle, pointing to the last chain running from the ceiling to the floor. Crono nodded and withdrew his sword. He walked over to it and sliced through it. The chain fell apart.

"Hey, what are you guys doing?" asked Ozzie nervously from within the barrier.

The support below his protective crystal was removed. He felt his stomach flutter as the last trap door opened wide and swallowed him whole.

Frog rushed over to it and looked into the bottomless pit. He could not see Ozzie as he plummeted downward. After a half of a minute, he heard a loud shattering sound.

"Killed by his own trap doors," said Marle.

Frog walked behind Ozzie's throne. A spiral staircase lead downward into the depths. "This must be the path to Magus," he said.

Crono and Marle walked over to it. They looked down into the darkness. "This is it," said the princess.

"We must stop him before he works his magic," said Frog. He sheathed his Masamune and started down the stairs. Crono followed him, and Marle brought up the rear.

The three warriors came to the bottom of the steps. They arrived in a pitch black room. Several tall columns supported the ceiling and formed a large broken circle around the central part of the room. In the center of the circle was another circle. It was engraved on the floor and made of metal. It was decorated with ornate carvings. Several small flames were set up around the engraving. At the far end of the room was a strange statue with many arms. Two sets of candles were set up on either side of it.

"Look!" said Marle. She pointed to a lone figure standing in the middle of the engraving on the floor.

He had long, wispy blue hair down to his shoulders. A purple cape hung from his neck down to his ankles. His arms were stretched out to his left and right. On each hand he wore a brown glove.

"Neuga, ziena, zieber, zom..." he chanted.

Crono stepped forward into the circle of pillars. He pulled out his saber. Frog followed him, swallowing. Marle joined the party.

"Now the chosen time has come..." he continued, unaware of the warriors.

Frog stepped onto the engraving which the figure was standing on. Crono and Marle joined him.

"Exchange this world for..."

"Magus!" shouted Frog.

There was a deathly silence in the chamber. Marle's heart beat rapidly in anticipation of the growing conflict.

Magus stopped his chanting. He did not turn around, but continued looking at the statue in front of him. "It's that wretched little Frog," said the warlock. "Kissed any princesses lately?"

A scowl crossed the amphibian's face. "I rather enjoy this form," he said. "And I oweth it all to you." He grabbed the handle of the Masamune. He withdrew it from his sheath. "I have something for you."

Magus could taste it in the air. "Ah, the Masamune," he said. "I'd bet your just dying to use it on me." A breeze blew through the room. The flames on the candles shuddered. The breeze became stronger. Magus raised his head and looked at the statue. "The black wind begins to blow..." He curled his hands. "Okay, give me your best shot!"

He leapt over the circle of flames and stood by the statue. He turned to face the three warriors. "If you're prepared for the void!"

Magus raised his arms in the air. The wind picked up. He crossed them over his chest in a bizarre pattern, then pointed at the three warriors.

A rumbling filled the chamber. Magus released a blast of lightning that filled the room. Frog, Crono, and Marle were electrocuted by the intense lightning attack. They struggled against the onslaught.

The warlock crossed his arms over his chest. He laughed at the three warriors who struggled to stand. "That was my first attack," he said. "I'm just getting warmed up!"

Marle's face twisted. "How bout I cool you down?" she said. She raised her arms over her head and formed her patented cold ball. Magus looked at her and smiled. She through the blast at him.

It sailed through the air, leaving a trail of ice bits. It struck the warlock and washed over him. The ice ball did not freeze him. Instead he seemed to absorb the energy.

He laughed and released another blast of lightning. They ducked for cover and tried to ride out the blast as best they could. The electricity flowed through their veins, slowing them down.

Magus stopped the flow of energy and laughed at the three warriors. "Is that the best you can do?" he taunted.

Crono looked up. A ball of electricity seemed to envelop the warlock, like a barrier. He managed to climb to his feet. He stared down the evil sorcerer. "What do you hope to do, boy?"

He raised his arms in the air. A familiar tingling crackled through his fingers. The wind blew his tunic around. Magus stared at him.

Finally, Crono released the blast of electricity in the form of a lightning bolt. It arced from the ceiling and pierced the electric barrier that surrounded the warlock. The blast shocked him. It scrambled his brains and slowed down his thoughts.

"Wh-what sort of trick is this?" he asked, recovering from the blast. "Are you a magic user?" He shook the last of the volts off of his body. Crono stared him down.

Marle stood up and joined the boy. "We're not as easy as you thought we'd be," she said.

Magus laughed again. "You're still no match for me!"

He crossed his arms in another bizarre pattern, smiling. He raised his arms in the air and closed his eyes, chanting.

A blast of cold filled the room. Crono shivered. Then a wave of ice froze the three warriors in their tracks. Marle tried to look up, but she could not. Magus crossed his arms again. Several pieces of ice crashed from the sky, raining like hail from hell.

The three warriors fell down among the ice on the ground. Marle struggled to get up. She pushed off the block of ice and stood up to the warlock.

"Oh, so now you think you can take some?" he asked. "Here's a blast to wake you up!" He released a cold ball. It arced through the air towards the princess. She stood there, motionless.

At the last second, she whipped out one of her one ice balls. They collided and formed a thick wall of ice between the two opposing forces.

Magus held out his gloved hand. The wall of ice shattered under the pressure of his invisible force. He looked at the princess, an intense fire in his eyes.

Marle noticed that small bits of ices were revolving around the warlock, instead of lightning. She recognized it as her own ice shield technique. Invulnerable to everything but ice...

The princess closed her eyes and brought her hands together like she was about to play. Her mind became a steel trap. She concentrated on the cold, freezing feeling around her. She opened her eyes and looked at the warlock.

A wave of cold shot through the cavern. Magus was frozen solid. His mind spun, trying to formulate a spell to break the ice barrier. Marle wasted no time in mentally picking up the ice fragments on the floor. She rolled them into a ball with her mind and swung it at the warlock. It collided with him, sending him into the statue.

A blast of electricity melted all the ice in the room. Marle was knocked on her back. She looked up and saw Magus hovering at the edge of the engraving.

"How dare you strike me like that!" he said.

Marle noticed small waves of electricity revolving around the warlock now.

"You've switched to lightning magic," she said.

"What?" he said.

She turned to Crono and Frog who were just getting up from the blast. "What are you speaking of, lass?" asked Frog.

"Whatever kind of magic he uses, we have to use back on him!" she exclaimed.

Crono looked at the shield that encircled the sorcerer. He smiled and raised his arms again. The familiar crackling sensation coursed through his arms. He brought them down and aimed it directly at Magus. He released another intense beam of energy at him. It penetrated his shield and shook his body.

Magus struggled to stand up. He tried to clear his mind from the blast of electricity. There must be some way to defeat them!

He looked at the trio. "Two can play at this game!" He crossed his arms in a bizarre pattern again. The chamber grew hot. The candles flared up.

The small fires around the engraving flared up. Magus waved his hand. The flames scorched the three warriors. Crono felt his skin being burned. Frog struggled under the powerful magic. Marle concentrated, trying to form an ice barrier.

"None of you have fire magic!" said Magus, laughing. Small tongues of flame encircled him.

"Where's Lucca when you need her?" mumbled Marle, struggling to move from the blast.

Crono looked up at the warlock. He had an idea. He would do what he did to Yakra. He held his sword out, and placed it over the intense flame. It began to grow hot. The boy felt the heat surging through the handle.

The young warrior stood up and charged at the sorcerer. Magus turned to him and laughed again. He waved his hands, preparing a blast of fire.

Crono sliced through the tongues of fire with the hot sword and sliced a thin gash in Magus's side. He jumped back to his friends.

Magus roared from the pain of the heated sword. He grabbed his side and looked at the young lad who had just beaten his fire barrier. "You! Now I know the one magic that none of you can possibly use against me!"

He smiled and crossed his arms in yet another pattern. Crono watched, perplexed by Magus's moves. The sorcerer formed a ball of black, crackling energy in the palm of his hand. He threw it at the boy with all his strength.

The blast hit him in the chest. He felt the life being drained from him as a wave of energy encircled his body. He felt weak. His body was drained of its energy. He felt on the border of death itself.

"Crono!" shouted Marle.

The boy lay on his back on the engraving. He looked up at the laughing warlock. He tried to move, but the attack had drained him of his life.

"Nothing can beat shadow magic!" said the sorcerer.

Frog stood up. He looked at his fallen comrade. He looked at Marle, who struggled to stand. Finally he looked down at the Masamune. Magus turned to him and laughed. "And you, Frog! You have no magical skill whatsoever!"

The amphibian narrowed his gaze. A dark haze seemed to revolve around the warlock. He raised his Masamune. "No magical skill is needed when you possess the sword of Cyrus!" he shouted.

Frog charged at Magus. He stood there with his arms crossed. He laughed at the little creature who beared down upon him with the massive weapon.

He roared as he brought the sword down upon Magus. The Masamune shattered the barrier of darkness that surrounded him. The very impact of the weapon sent the warlock flying across the room. He hit the statue and fell face first to the ground.

"Indeed the power of the Masamune has been increased," said Frog.

Crono and Marle rushed to the amphibian's side. They looked at the fallen sorcerer.

Magus lifted himself off of the ground. He floated in the air and looked at the three warriors with a glare of contempt.

"We have defeated you, Magus," said Frog. "We can outlast any attack you throw at us."

Magus laughed. "Do you forget the attack that befell your dear friend Cyrus?" he asked.

Frog closed his mouth. The dark matter spell. Magus's most powerful and deadliest attack. The triangle of death. Nothing could outlast that.

"Run!" shouted Frog. He had to escape Magus's spell. He turned and dashed to hide behind the broken circle of columns. Marle and Crono followed him, trying to get as far away from Magus as possible.

A blast of cold death struck each of the warriors. They were drained of their energy and suspended in mid-air. They felt their spirit almost leap out of them.

"My geyser of death will hold you until I ready my spell," said Magus. He slowly crossed his arms, making sure he got the technique perfect.

Frog struggled to turn his head and look at his two companions. They floated lifelessly in the white columns of death. He reached for his Masamune at his side, but could not muster the strength to withdraw it.

Three black orbs formed around Magus. He smiled and juggled them in his hands. He looked at the three lifeless warriors floating in his trap. "Goodbye, simple fools," he said. He tossed the black balls into the air and watched them float.

"No..." said Frog.

Three lines connected the black balls, forming an all-too familiar triangle. Darkness spread throughout the inside of the figure. Frog felt it consume him. He felt the unimaginable pain that only those who are damned for all eternity experience.

He lifted his hand in the air, trying to move. "C-Crono!" he yelled.

Crono looked up at the amphibian.

"Y-you must move!" he said. "This spell will kill us!"

Crono summoned his strength. He felt the last bit of it leave him as he tried to move his arms. He felt no energy left in his bones.

He turned to Marle, who was floating in the space of the dark matter spell, drifting in and out of consciousness. She looked at him.


Frog turned to her. He had an idea. "Marle! Use your healing power and break the spell of the geyser long enough for us to escape this deadly spell!"

She nodded. The princess closed her eyes and felt an eerie calm about her instead of the pain brought on by Magus's spell. A rainbow-like luminescence surrounded her.

She opened her eyes and felt re-energized. She broke the geyser barrier and fell to the ground.

"Do you hear that, Frog?" called Magus. He put his hand to his ear mockingly. "It's the sound of the reaper calling."

"No!" shouted Frog.

Marle dashed over and punched the geyser holding Frog with her rainbow-luminescence. The barrier disappeared. He fell from the air and ran behind one of the marble pillars in the back of the room.

The princess ran and leapt through the air. She dragged Crono out of his geyser and landed just out of range of the dark matter spell.

Magus closed his fist. There was an intense tearing noise as his spell sliced through the air. He looked up to see his victims caught in the middle of the deadly triangle.

They had vanished.

"Blast it!" he shouted. "Now I shall create a greater one!"

The warlock formed three new orbs and began to juggle them. He laughed as he scanned the chamber for the warriors.

Frog, Marle, and Crono hid behind one of the marble columns at the edge of the room. They peeked out and looked at the insane warlock juggling the spheres of death.

"He is weak while he is preparing his spell," said Frog.

"What?" asked Marle.

"While he is preparing his spell, he has no magic barrier," he repeated. "If we could mount an attack, we could surely defeat him."

Marle looked at Crono, who was bleeding from the mouth. The boy looked at her, thinking of a plan.

"I think I have one," said Marle.

"Share, lass," said Frog.

"You distract Magus while Crono and I use a killer attack to put this guy out of his misery," she said.

Frog looked at the ground thoughtfully. I want to finish Magus off for Cyrus...

"We'll beat him within an inch of his life and leave the rest for you," she said.

"Good!" said the amphibian. "Let's go!"

Frog slowly walked out from behind the pillar. He crossed the broken circle of small flames and stood on the metal engraving in the floor. Magus looked at him and laughed, still juggling his shadow spheres.

"You dare challenge me alone, Frog?" asked the warlock.

"I shall slay you and restore Cyrus's honor," he said.

"Fine, if you say so," said Magus, laughing. He threw his spheres into the air. They began to circle around Frog.

Behind the pillar, Marle was going over the plan with Crono. "Okay, remember how you used that heated sword to slice him?" she asked.

Crono nodded.

"Okay, I want you to run out there and jump into the air like you're going to stab him," she said. "I'll throw an ice ball. I want you to catch it on your sword and stab him! It'll freeze his entire body!"

Crono smiled.

"Let's get him!" she said.

Frog stood calm as the lines formed between the dark spheres. The black matter began to fill the empty triangle, moving in towards the amphibian.

Magus laughed. "You don't even fight back!" he said. "You are a disgrace to Cyrus's legacy and the Masamune!"

Frog stood tall while the darkness enveloped him. He fought off the pain as best he could with his battered body.

The warlock raised his hand. "Now it's time for you to join Cyrus!"

"Not in this lifetime!" said Marle's voice.

Magus lost his concentration and looked in the direction of one of the pillars. Crono was charging out at an incredible speed with his sword high in the air.

"You're no match for me, boy!" said Magus. He curled his fist and formed a fireball. He released it at the boy.

Crono dodged it and continued charging. He leapt into the air.

Marle yelled as she threw the frozen ball of ice towards the boy. She watched it streak through the air, leaving its trail of ice particles.

Crono held his sword up and caught the blast on the tip of the blade. He looked down at the horrified sorcerer.

The boy buried his blade deep in Magus's shoulder. The ice ball that was on the tip of the sword traveled into the warlock's body. It froze his insides and his outsides. Crono stood there with his katana still in his shoulder. The ice finally formed a solid block around Magus.

He pulled his blade out of the block of ice. Marle dashed over to his side. Frog readied his Masamune.

Magus shattered the block of ice around him. Shards were scattered across the room. The intense cold brought on by the ice sword attack filled the chamber. The warlock roared with an intense fire in his eyes.

He sank to his knees. He pushed off of the ground with his hand, supporting his battered body. The ice sword attack had torn his body to shreds and drained him of his power.

Frog slowly walked over to the heavily injured sorcerer. He aimed the Masamune at his temple. "Now I shall slay thee, and restore Cyrus's honor at last."

The very presence of the Masamune had an adverse effect on Magus. He felt its powerful presence draining what little energy he had left. "Go ahead... slay me..." he said.

Frog raised the sword high in the air and prepared to bring it down on his mortal enemy.

The castle shook violently.

The amphibian stopped. "What was that?"

Magus looked around the chamber. "Bad timing... don't wake up... now..."

Marle looked at the warlock with a strange expression on her face. "What do you mean, 'don't wake up?' I thought you created Lavos!"

Frog took a step back. Magus stood up and looked at the princess. "You fool. I never created Lavos. I merely summoned him!"

"What?" she shouted.

"Lavos lives within the core of the earth," said the warlock. "He consumes its energy, growing stronger every day."

The castle shook violently again. The statue behind Magus tumbled down. He turned and looked at the three warriors angrily.

"You!" he shouted. "If you would not have come here!"

The ground shook again. Pieces of debris fell from the ceiling.

"What is that?" asked Frog. He pointed to the center of the engraving with his sword.

A large hole had opened in the middle of it. It was like a vortex. Inside it was swirling rapidly, like a torrential storm. The hole grew bigger. Soon it encompassed the entire engraving. It spread outward more.

"A gate!" shouted Marle.

"You will pay for this!" shouted Magus. He looked down at the ground. He began to lose his footing. He slipped over the edge and fell into the expanding hole.

"Magus!" yelled Frog. "I should hath slain him when I had the chance!"

Marle looked down at the rapidly expanding gate. "We have to get out of here!"

They turned and ran towards the staircase that led to Ozzie's room. A large chunk of concrete fell from the ceiling and blocked their way. They turned around and looked at the gate.

"Well, there's only one way left!" said Marle. She looked down into the huge, swirling vortex.

"On three..." said Frog. "One, two..."

An inhuman sound echoed throughout the chamber. It was deafening, and sounded like the roar of all of hell's fury. "Is that Lavos?" asked Marle.


Frog, Crono, and the princess jumped into the swirling vortex. The world went black as they fell into the abyss of no return.


The familiar voice split the darkness.


Marle's voice was a welcome wake-up call to the young boy.

"C'mon, sleepy head!"

He laid in his bed, trying to adjust to being awake. A smile crossed his face. His life was perfect. He had married the princess of Guardia and now lived in his own house with her.

She threw open the curtains. The cat on the floor meowed as it rubbed its leg up against Marle. It jumped up onto the window sill and watched the birds fluttering by.

"Crono, you said you were going to look for a job today," she said.

The reward money he got from the king was enough to make him happy for the rest of his life. Why did she want him to get a job?

"C'mon, we can't keep sponging off my dad!"

He shook his head, trying to doze back into dreamland.


His name echoed over and over in his mind.

XI: Battle for the Past


It was not Marle's voice this time. It was familiar, however.

"Crono okay?"

He opened his eyes. The comforting view of Ayla's hut made him feel safe and secure. He slowly began to sit up.

A sharp pain in his back, his head, and his leg hit him all at once. He fell back onto the soft bed of straw.

"You hurt bad," said Ayla. "Rest."

His mind began to slowly go into motion again. He remembered the intense fight through Magus's castle. He remembered fighting the dark warlock. Images of the spells flashed through his brain. He recalled how they all fell into the gate after hearing the roar of Lavos.

Crono recalled the strange dream he just had. He remembered Marle's voice.

The princess opened her eyes. She rolled over and looked at the prehistoric woman sitting behind her. She looked at her inquisitively.

"Wh-who are you?" she asked.

"Me Ayla," she said. "Who you?"

"I'm Marle," she said. "You must be the woman that helped us find the red rock. Which means we're back in 65,000,000 B.C."

Ayla nodded. "When walking through Mystic Mountains, found Crono and friends lying there hurt. Ayla carry back to hut."

Frog heard the sound of the conversation. He opened his eyes and looked at the strange hut. One thing came to mind. "Magus!" he yelled.

Ayla looked over at the amphibian and licked her lips. "Yummy frog," she said. "For Ayla eat?"

After calming down, Frog looked at the woman and analyzed what she had said. "P-perish the thought, lass," he said. He looked around the hut. There was no sign of the warlock he had come so close to slaying. "By the way, whither the blue-haired one?"

Ayla looked at him with a confused expression. "Only find you three on mountain," she said. "Blue-hair one more tasty?"

"We hath lost him..." said Frog. He lowered his head and looked at the ground.

"Wait a minute," said Marle. She turned to her companions. "If Magus didn't create Lavos, then what era was it born in?" The question sunk into Crono. It was a good one.

"Lavos?" asked Ayla. She shook her head, not understanding. "Don't worry about. You rest now. Hurt bad."

The boy laid back onto the straw and closed his eyes. Marle followed his example and fell asleep. Gradually, Frog closed his eyes and drifted off, dreaming for another chance to get the warlock he had fought so hard to challenge.

Crono opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling of the hut. He threw off his covers and stood up. The long sleep had helped him tremendously. The aches and pains he had suffered during the battle with Magus were dim now. He felt re-energized.

Marle yawned and stood up. She rubbed her eyes, clearing the sleep from them. "I really needed that sleep," she said.

Frog stood up and stretched. He blinked his eyes several times and looked at his companions. "I trust everyone is feeling better now," he said.

Marle nodded. "That battle took a lot out of me," she said.

Crono smiled and nodded.

"Hello?" said a voice.

They turned and looked at the entrance to the tent. Kino walked in to greet the three weary warriors. "Crono okay now?" he asked.

The boy nodded.

"Good," he said. "Ayla out looking for reptiles."

Frog looked at Crono. "I say we begin to search for Magus as soon as possible," said the amphibian.

He shook his head in agreement.

"Kiiinoo!" said a voice.

The prehistoric man turned around and looked at the entrance of the tent. A frantic villager charged in with labored breathing.

"What going on?" asked Kino. "Crono still tired here!"

"Huts in village on fire!" said the villager.

"What?" asked Kino. "Me go see!" He charged out of the tent and followed the villager into the town square.

"What was that all about?" asked Marle.

"Let's go find out," said Frog.

The village square was a mass of hysterical, screaming primitives. Mothers ran out of flaming huts carrying their children. Men carried buckets of water from the well, trying to douse the unquenchable flame. Animals scurried into the woods, trying to find cover.

Crono ran onto the scene with his sword in hand. Frog and Marle followed, their weapons ready for action.

The amphibian searched the chaos. "Where is that Kino?" he asked.

Slowly, the smoke parted. In front of a large fire in the center of the village stood the blonde-haired caveman. He had his fists out and was staring down a short, green humanoid reptile with a heavy cape.

"Kino no afraid of Azala!" he said.

The reptile laughed. "Your primitive fighting techniques are no match for my advanced telekinetic powers!" said Azala.

Kino held up his fists and charged. He wound up a heavy sucker punch and aimed it at the reptile's head.

Azala held out his clawed hand. An invisible force froze the caveman in place. He tried to break free of the mental hold the reptile had on him. "Perhaps you will fight more wisely in the future," said the creature. "If you have a future."

The caveman growled and struggled to break out of the hold. The telekinetic forces acting on him held him tight in mid air.

"My work here is done now," said Azala. "I suppose I shall take you back to my lair and feed you to my pet."

"Azala!" said a voice.

The reptile king turned around. A familiar blonde-haired woman walked out of the thick smoke surrounding the village. Her face was full of anger and rage.

"Ayla, stand back or the boy dies!" said the reptile king.

The prehistoric woman drew her fists. "Me no afraid of you!"

"That's what your friend here said! He's not in a good situation now."

Ayla roared and charged at the king of the reptiles. He could not keep focused on two people at once. He looked at Kino and closed his hand. The caveman involuntarily flew to his side. Azala raised his hand in the air.

A fierce wind swept through the town square. Dust, debris, and smoke clouded Ayla's vision. She covered her face to protect her eyes.

"Goodbye, dino woman!" said Azala.

"Azala!" she roared. She ran through the cloud of smoke, lashing out in the hopes of striking the reptile king.

The wind picked up. The smoke and debris were cleared out of the village meeting center. The fires died down. The full extent of the damage had been revealed.

Ayla searched the area for signs of the reptile king. "Where Azala go?"

"Look!" said Marle. She pointed up to the sky. A large flying lizard streaked across the sky towards the horizon. Two riders were on it.

"Ayla!" said one of them. "Help!"

"Kiiiiiinnnnnooooo!" said the prehistoric woman as she ran blindly towards the escaping pterodactyl.

She sank to her knees as it disappeared over the horizon. "Kino..."

Crono, Marle, and Frog rushed to her side. They looked down at her, their hearts sharing her pain. They spoke no words.

Ayla closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. Her hands curled into fists. A red anger filled her lungs. She stood up and opened her eyes, looking at the horizon. "Ayla no give up," she said. "I coming, Kino."

"Ayla!" said a voice.

They turned around. A short, old man waddled towards the four of them. He looked up at the young warrior. "Look what you did," he said. "Reptiles hurt all who fight. You think you can fight them. Look what they do now."

He gestured to the remains of the village. Huts were burned to the ground. Families were weeping over their losses. Several villagers lay dead from massive burns. Animals cried for their food which had gone up in smoke.

"You no realize, old man," she said. "This is rule of life! Fight and live! Lose and die! Never change!" She looked him over and shook her head. "Old man breathe, but dead on inside."

He shook his head at her. "You make big talk," he said. "We have no power."

"I have power!" she said. "I alone fight if no one with me!"

"Your funeral!"

"Where is dactyl?" she asked.

"You fly to Tyranno Lair? To fight Azala?"

Ayla nodded.

"That place dangerous!"

"Going to rescue Kino!" she said. "I fight to last breath. Give me dactyl!"

The old man shook his head. "I can no talk sense into you. Dactyls live on Mystic Mountain. Good luck." He walked quietly back to his hut.

Ayla turned to her friends. "I go to Tyranno Lair," she said. "Azala keep his troops there. Is too dangerous for you. Goodbye, Crono."

She turned and headed in the direction of the Mystic Mountains.

"Wait!" said Marle.

Ayla turned around. "What?"

"We're coming with you, right Crono?"

The boy nodded in agreement.

"We're not going to let you die, Ayla," she said. "We'll help you find Kino."

"Ayla have strong friends..." She looked at Frog. "What of him?"

Frog shook his head. "I am still injured from the battle with my mortal enemy," said the amphibian. "I would only be a distraction to thy quest."

"Frog, we'll send you to the End of Time with our other friends," said Marle. "You can recover there and join us when you feel well again."

"I am sincerely sorry for my inability to fight," he said. "If thou make it back alive, I shall prove my true worth."

Ayla turned and looked at the looming Mystic Mountains. Several pterodactyls circled around the summit. "Let's go," she said.

A fierce wind blew Ayla's long golden hair wildly about her face. The clouds were below her, and the sun shone brightly down on her back. She looked down at the plains far below. Many herds of dinosaurs crossed them.

A small spot stuck out on the horizon. She narrowed her eyes at the point. "Tyranno Lair," she said to herself. She kicked her pterodactyl, making it soar faster. She looked back at Crono and Marle, who were struggling to remain on their prehistoric birds.

"Not far now!" said Ayla. "Follow me!"

Ayla turned and looked up at the sky. A lone, red star stood in the middle of the vast expanse. It loomed like an omen.

"Red star bad," she said.

Soon Tyranno Lair was no more than a few miles from the trio. It stood on a twisted perch of rock hundreds of feet high above an ocean of molten lava. It was a castle that looked like wretched animal. It was mangled in every way. Spikes and bones stuck from exterior like unkempt hair. The lair itself was like a blemish upon the land.

Ayla let the dactyl's reins loose. The prehistoric bird swooped downwards, heading for the mangled castle. Crono and Marle followed her example, guiding their beast in for a landing on the high platform above the lava pit.

The pterodactyl squawked and halted its wings to glide gracefully to the ground. It landed on its claws and lowered its back for Ayla to get off. Crono landed next and leapt off, ready to fight. Marle gracefully dismounted and looked at the castle in front of them.

"This Azala's hiding place," said the prehistoric woman. "Let's get Kino!"

Crono nodded and walked through the open front door. Ayla followed him, and Marle pulled her deadly crossbow from her shoulder.

The first room they came upon was immense. It was made entirely of huge stone bricks. Large skulls of deceased dinosaurs lined the walls. A large chandelier made of bones of dead animals swung overhead, lighting the area.

"Dungeon is downstairs," said Ayla. "Let's go!" She pointed to a stairway in the back of the room that went downwards into the darkness.

A loud roar came from somewhere in the cavernous chamber. Out of a pile of bones stood a huge primate. It was ten feet tall and had large horns sticking from head. Long wings protruded from its back.

Ayla put up her fists, ready to fight. The monster roared and curled its hands, swinging them in the air in an impressive display of power.

Crono withdrew his sword and sized up the creature. He raised his saber and charged in toward it, readying a slash. He growled angrily, raising his blade to slice through the ape.

The monster swatted at the boy before he could land the slice. The full impact of the ape's broad hand nearly broke Crono's neck. He fell to the ground and looked up at the roaring beast.

A cold blast of air filled the room. There was a cracking sound. A thick layer of ice crept over the beast's body. It traveled across his face and sealed him solid in a block.

"I got him!" said Marle.

The block shook. A crack appeared at the top and traveled down the sides. A popping sound echoed throughout the chamber. The beast shattered his ice barrier and turned around to see the princess who had tried to freeze him.

"Uh-oh," said Marle.

The monster slowly moved in towards her, growling. It raised its fists and prepared to strike her down.

"Marle!" shouted Ayla.

She turned to see the prehistoric woman standing behind the ape anxiously. "What?" she asked.

"Give me ice! I throw at ape!"

Marle nodded and took a step back to delay the arrival of the beast. She concentrated her magic power and raised her hands over her head. The familiar orb of cold formed between her palms. She threw it towards the prehistoric woman.

Ayla's fingers twitched. Her mind focused on the incoming ice ball. She held up her hands. The ice ball stopped short of her and turned into a massive chunk. It fell to the floor with a crash.

The prehistoric woman picked up the humongous block of frozen water. She sized up the ape that was bearing down on Marle. She summoned her strength and lifted it in the air, then hurled it towards the beast with incredible power.

The block hit the ape and knocked it over. The sheer weight of the chunk kept it from getting up again. It struggled, but could not move.

"Hurry!" said Ayla. "Go to dungeon!"

The dungeon of Tyranno Lair was littered with even more bones than its front room. They formed miniature mountains throughout the chamber. Skulls and jawbones were among the most horrifying images.

Three purple-scaled reptile men stood in front of a bony cage. Their mouths watered in anticipation of their upcoming meal.

Inside the cage, Kino looked at his captors. A look of dread dominated his face. He rattled the bones, but to no avail. His mind raced with images of his own doom at the hands of the reptiles. Would he be served for dinner after being cooked alive?

"Kino!" said a voice.

The reptiles turned and looked in the direction of the voice. On top of the mountain of bones stood Crono, Ayla, and Marle.

"Humansss..." said one of the creatures.

Ayla grabbed one of the large bones. She slid down the mountain and charged at the trio of beasts. She raised the bone in the air and brought it down upon the lead monster.

It fell like a stone to the ground. Blood oozed from its ears as it convulsed and died.

Another creature extended its sharp claws and slashed at Ayla. It cut her side, leaving a small tear in her abdomen. The prehistoric woman roared and swung the bone like a baseball bat. It crashed into the reptile and sent him into another mountain of fossils.

"Ayla!" shouted Marle.

She whirled around and saw one of the reptiles leaping towards her from high atop one of the mountains. It had its jaws open, ready to clamp down on her neck.

A blast of lightning sailed through the air and electrocuted the reptile moments before it got to Ayla. It flopped on the ground, toasted. Crono dropped his hands to his side and slid down the pile of bones.

Marle skidded down the mountain and landed gracefully on the stone ground. She rushed over to the prehistoric woman's side.

"Kino!" said Ayla, looking down at the caged caveman.

"Ayla!" he shouted, relieved.

With a roar, Ayla grabbed the cage and pulled the bones apart. She ripped them from the frame piece by piece until a hole was big enough for Kino to escape. He crawled out from the prison of bones and hugged her.

"Sorry, Ayla," he said. "All Kino's fault."

Ayla shook her head. "Is nobody's fault," she replied. "Azala very strong, but Ayla is going to fight him."

"Kino help!"

Ayla put her hand on his shoulder. "No, Kino," she said. "If I die, you new chief. Go to village and protect from reptiles."

"What you do?" he asked.

"Going to put end to Azala once and for all!"

Kino nodded. "I going to show you way," he replied. "Follow me."

He turned and dashed between the pile of bones, heading for the stairway back to the main floor of the Lair.

"Let's go," said Ayla.

The trio followed him up to the main floor. They found him picking through the pile of bones like he was searching for something.

"What you looking for?" asked Ayla.

Kino picked up a big skull and heaved it aside. He cleared the bones away from the wall and pointed to a small crawlspace. "This is way to Azala's throne room," he said. "Good luck!"

Ayla looked deep into his eyes. "Kino..." She grabbed him and kissed him tenderly. Kino took a step back, then turned to the entrance and dashed away.

Crono and Marle remained silent. The prehistoric woman turned to them. "Come! Azala is no far away!" She got down on her knees and gradually pushed her way into the small crawl space. Crono followed her, and Marle brought up the rear.

Azala's throne room was fit for a reptile. Several eggs were scattered throughout the room. An assortment of bones formed into lamps illuminated his chamber. Two windows looked out onto the endless plain of lava far below.

The reptile king himself sat on a chair made of white, polished bone arranged in the shape of a skull. He tapped his fingers gently, thinking about the rich meal the chefs were going to make with the captured human.

He glanced at the sun outside the window. It had almost set. "Where are those lazy pathetic slobs?" he asked himself.

A knock came at the door.

"Ah, that must be them now," he said. He got up from his throne and walked over to the heavy wooden door that sealed off his chamber. He swung it wide open. His jaw dropped.

Ayla wasted no time in pouncing on him. She knocked him to his back, clawing at his eyes and punching his face. She grabbed him by his cloak and bashed him against the ground.

"Time for you to die!" she said angrily.

Azala groaned. He focused his strength.

An invisible force knocked Ayla off of the reptile king. She fell to the ground and bounced back up, her fists drawn to attack Azala.

"So you made it all the way to Tyranno Lair and released your friend," he said. "Too bad for you."

"I no give up, Azala!" said Ayla.

"This is it then," said the reptile king. "Today there will be a conclusion. Will it be the reptiles or the apes who end up ruling the world?"

"I fight you now Azala!"

The castle shook. An inhumanly loud roar shook the throne room.

"What was that?" asked Marle, who still stood with Crono in the doorway.

"Since you destroyed Nizabel, I got myself a new pet," said the king. He turned around and leapt over his throne. He walked to the back of the chamber and threw open another set of double doors.

Ayla turned to her companions. "Let's get him!"

They walked around the throne and rushed out the door.

Across a stone bridge that extended from Tyranno Lair, Azala stood in front of a tall tower. He gazed up into the sky, staring at the red star which had recently appeared.

"Fall, red star!" he said. "Stain the earth red!"

Ayla, Crono, and Marle ran across the bridge and stood before the king of the reptiles. Crono withdrew his sword and stared him down. Marle pulled out her bow and aimed it at him. Ayla raised her fists. "You are cornered, Azala!"

"I do not think so, my dear," he said. "Though it may be our fate to perish, I will not simply hand the world over to your kind." He snapped his fingers.

The wooden door on the tower behind him opened. Ayla gasped.

A monstrous dinosaur slowly trampled out of the tower. It was thirty feet tall and had thick, impenetrable scales. A collar of spikes surrounded its neck. Its head was enormous, and it sat on all fours like a dog.

"This is my new pet, the Black Tyranno," said Azala. "With it, I can finally exterminate you and your kind!"

He boosted himself up behind the monster's collar with his telekinetic powers. The monster gave a terrifying roar which the trio had heard in the throne room before.

Crono withdrew his sword and readied himself for battle. Ayla curled her fists, and Marle loaded her bow.

The dinosaur opened its mouth wide. Crono could feel the raw heat coming from deep within the creature's gullet. Steam escaped from its esophagus. Its eyes burned with rage as it concentrated its power deep within.

"Toast them, Tyranno!" said Azala.

The monster roared again. A thick wave of fire blasted from its stomach. The trio fell to the cold stone of the bridge as the flame washed overhead.

The wave of fire disappeared, and the reptile king looked down at the bridge. Crono, Marle, and Ayla were huddled close to the ground. The prehistoric woman stood up and looked at Azala. "You no beat me yet!" she said.

The reptile king growled. He extended his clawed hand and sharpened his mind.

Ayla felt her arms being moved for her. They flopped around like she was a puppet. Her legs walked for her. She felt herself being lifted up into the air.

"W-what going on?" asked the prehistoric woman.

"Behold my telekinetic powers!" said Azala. He waved his claw in the air.

Ayla felt her mind spin as she flipped over. She tried to move her arms, but the reptile king's psychic hold prevented her from getting free. "Argh!" she yelled.

"Ayla!" shouted Marle.

The prehistoric woman felt herself increase in speed. Azala used his mental powers to smash her directly into the tower wall. She felt several of her bones crack against the hard stone that made up the castle.

Ayla fell to the bridge. She slowly picked herself up and looked at the Black Tyranno and its master. "I... no... give... up..."

"Then maybe this will change your mind!" said Azala. He waved his claw again.

Crono looked up into the sky above him. Out of nowhere, a large brown rock seemed to materialize. He teleported that rock... he thought. He looked over at Ayla who was still reeling from the psychic attack.

The boy rolled over and pulled her out of harms way. Azala dropped his claw.

With a whistling sound, the boulder dropped like a bomb onto the bridge. It made a tremendous crashing sound as it shook the stone arch between the castle and the tower. The Tyranno nudged it over the edge with his nose.

"Blast it!" said Azala.

Crono set Ayla down a good distance away from the dinosaur. He withdrew his sword and jumped into the air.

He leapt onto the Tyranno's nose. It shook its head back and forth, trying to shake the boy off. Crono stepped on its head and looked at Azala who was standing on the beast's spiked collar.

"You dare challenge me, boy?" he asked. "Take this!" The reptile king held up his claw. An invisible force hit Crono. He was knocked off of the Tyranno's head and over the edge of the stone bridge.

"Crono!" shouted Ayla. She rushed over to the edge and looked down. The boy had one hand desperately clasping to a rock overhang.

Ayla pulled him up and looked at the dinosaur and its master. "There must be way to beat him..." she said. She looked at Marle.

"Use bow!" she yelled. "Hit Azala, then we take care of Tyranno!"

Marle looked at her and nodded. She loaded an arrow onto her crossbow and pulled the string back. She leveled the weapon at the king of the reptiles.

Azala raised his claw in the air. Another rock materialized above the castle. "Now you will be destroyed, Ayla!"

He heard a loud snapping and turned to the girl with the ponytail. Azala felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down and saw that he had been pierced with an arrow. Blood poured out from his wound.

"No," he said. He felt feint. The pressure seemed to leave his head. He toppled backwards and fell off of the Tyranno, landing in the darkness behind the beast.

"Now let's take care of the dinosaur!" said Ayla.

The Black Tyranno obviously had other ideas. It opened its maw and released a powerful roar. It closed its eyes and seemed to be concentrating.

"Is powering up!" said Ayla. "Big ball of fire! Hurry! Attack now!"

Marle nodded and shouldered her crossbow. She turned to the boy. "Crono! Let's try another ice sword attack!"

The boy smiled. He withdrew his sword and leveled it at the beast. He leapt high into the air and raised the saber.

Marle closed her eyes and felt a familiar coldness between her palms. She formed the ice orb and tossed it through the air.

Crono caught it on the tip of his blade and brought it down upon the monster's nose. A loud crackling echoed throughout the castle as the ice enveloped the monster's face.

The boy withdrew his sword from the ice and jumped off. He backpedaled towards Marle and Ayla, then put his sword back in his sheath. He waited patiently for the monster to die.

A crackling came from within the block of ice that surrounded the Black Tyranno. Cracks appeared in the solid sheet. Bits and pieces broke off, and a snapping signaled that the dinosaur was about to shatter the barrier that encased his mouth.

The monster roared as the pieces of ice fell off of its face. It slowly calmed down and resumed its concentration.

"Hurry!" said Ayla. "Is going to make big fire soon!"

Crono raised his arms in the air. The crackling of electricity danced about his fingers. The wind picked up.

A large bolt of lightning shot down from the sky. It hit the Black Tyranno and washed over its thick skin. It roared again, then closed its eyes and concentrated.

"Crono, its skin is too thick!" said Marle.

The monster's eyelids raised. Its pupils dilated. It opened its mouth and gave a roar of warning.

"Run!" shouted Ayla.

Crono turned on his heel and dashed as fast as he could. Marle followed him, and Ayla sprinted to get away from the dinosaur.

The bridge began to shake. The trio stopped and turned to see a massive wall of flame erupt from the Black Tyranno's mouth. Its heat was strong enough to melt stone. It rolled across the bridge like a cannonball.

Marle stretched her arms out in front of her. An orb of blue ice formed between her hands. She closed her eyes and shot out a steady beam of cold. It collided with the massive fireball, momentarily stopping it.

The princess fought to control the ball of flame. The sheer weight of the projectile nearly pushed her over the edge of the bridge. Its heat made her sweat in buckets.

Marle shifted the beam of ice she was projecting out towards the side. The ball of fire, caught in the beam, was redirected to fall over the edge and down into the molten lava far below.

She sunk to her knees and looked at the massive Black Tyranno. His eyes were closed, concentrating on another massive fireball.

"We must stop now!" said Ayla. "Fireball too strong! Marle can no handle another!"

"That's... right..." said the princess. "We... need... a plan..."

Ayla turned to Crono. It hit her.

"Crono! Shock me!"

A confused expression crossed the boy's face. What on earth...

"Just shock me!" she repeated.

Marle looked at the prehistoric woman. Her fists were curled, and she looked like she knew what she was doing. "Just hit her with lightning, Crono!" said Marle.

Crono shook his head and raised his arms. He felt the electricity on his fingertips. A familiar bolt of lightning arced from the sky and struck Ayla.

The blast coursed through her body. Her strength enabled her to keep the lightning from hurting her. Bolts of electricity revolved around her, forming an orb. She turned and looked at the Black Tyranno.

"What are you doing, Ayla?" asked Marle.

The prehistoric woman dashed towards the dinosaur at a rapid speed. She leapt into the air and landed on its nose. She crawled up over its head.

The Black Tyranno roared to life. Its large eyes opened and search for the unknown attacker that was climbing all over its back. It roared and shook its head, trying to discourage the attacker. Ayla jumped onto its metal collar and placed her hands firmly on two of the spikes.

The electricity leapt from Ayla onto the collar. A powerful shock traveled through the dinosaur's body. It screamed and jumped up and down, shattering the tower above it. It whipped its tail, bringing down the stone wall.

Ayla leapt off of the monster's collar and joined her friends. They looked at the thrashing behemoth, who had collapsed most of the tower.

"Is still kicking!" said Ayla. "We have to knock into lava below!"

"But how?" asked Marle.

Crono sized up the Black Tyranno. He withdrew his sword and dashed across the bridge.

"Crono!" shouted Marle. "What are you doing?"

The boy stopped in front of the enraged dinosaur. He withdrew his sword and waved it back and forth, hoping to taunt the beast.

The Black Tyranno took a second to stop its thrashing and eye Crono's saber. It roared loudly and whipped its tail. The boy danced back and forth. Roaring, the beast snapped at him with its powerful jaws.

Crono took a step back, leading it on to the bridge. The monster followed him, trying to bite down on him.

He stopped and raised his sword. The Black Tyranno shifted its weight on its hind legs and stood tall. It towered high in the air.

Marle did not hesitate to release another blast of ice. She focused the beam directly into the monster's chest. It wobbled back under the intense power. A thick coating of ice formed over its body as it was pushed further and further backwards. Crono ducked to avoid the beam.

The monster stood on the edge of the tower it had destroyed, on the brink of falling into the lava. It struggled to regain its balance.

"Goodbye, Tyranno," said Ayla. She raised her fists and charged across the bridge to the giant behemoth. She jumped into the air and curled herself into a ball. She struck the monster in the stomach. Her impact provided just the right amount of force.

With one final monstrous roar, the Black Tyranno tumbled over the edge. It turned over and over on the long journey down towards the lava. It splashed into the flaming lake, sending a spout of liquid rock into the air several hundred feet high.

Ayla watched the dinosaur's vaporization from the top of the tower. Crono and Marle came to her side and looked down at the wisp of steam that marked the spot where the Tyranno had plunged into the lake of fire.

"We did it," said Marle, panting.

Crono nodded and put his sword back in his sheath.

"Yes," said Ayla. "Now reptiles are gone." She turned around and surveyed the destruction of the tower.

Azala lay on the stones of the bridge. Marle's arrow stuck through his chest, forcing the last bit of his blood out. He turned to Ayla.

"Could it be? Could the heavens truly have sided with the apes?" he asked himself.

"Azala!" said Ayla. She walked to his side and looked down at him.

He looked at her. "Listen, leader of the primates," he said. "Let it be known that we reptiles fought to the bitter end."

"Ayla understand..."

Marle turned from Azala's death scene and looked up at the sky. The red star they had seen earlier on their flight from the Mystic Mountains had grown considerably. It was almost bigger than the sun now. "What is that?" she asked.

"Soon, stones of fire shall rain down," said the reptile king. "Flames will scorch the land. Dust shall be kicked into the air and block out the sun. The plains will freeze from the lack of sunlight. The ice age will begin and last for millions of years." He laughed. "You will wish you could have gone with us!"

In the depths of space, an orb rotated rapidly. It spun towards a bluish planet, heating up as it neared its target. Its back was marked with hundreds of sharp spines, and it was several miles in diameter. It was not an asteroid, but Lavos.

It plunged down into the Earth's atmosphere.

"Lavos..." said Marle.

"What?" asked Ayla.

"It's Lavos who's coming," she said. "Not stones of fire, but the destroyer of the world."

The brightness of the projectile illuminated the remains of Tyranno Lair. Crono shielded his eyes as he watched the mighty beast plunge towards them.

A sharp cry came from the edge of the bridge. Ayla looked over and saw Kino riding a prehistoric bird with three pterodactyls behind him.

"Kino!" shouted the prehistoric woman.

"Ayla!" he replied. "Get on dactyl!"

Crono rushed over and jumped on one of the lizard birds. Marle jumped on another. Ayla turned and looked at Azala.

"Come, Azala!" she said.

The reptile king groaned and grasped the arrow through his chest. "Absolutely not," he wheezed. "The powers that be have spoken."

"Ayla, hurry!" said Kino.

The woman lowered her head. "Me no forget," she said. She rushed over to her pterodactyl and mounted it.

"The future..." wheezed the reptile king.

"What about future?" yelled Ayla.

"We have no future..."

The four pterodactyls turned away from the shattered tower and flew as fast as they could.

The massive Lavos spun through the atmosphere, passing through the clouds and burning holes through them. It crashed into the last layer of the atmosphere and plummeted like a falling cannonball towards Tyranno Lair.

The ancient dinosaur lair was burned up in a millisecond. Lavos crashed through the crooked stone platform it stood on and crashed into the lake of fire below.

A tremendous explosion kicked up fire into the atmosphere. The lake of lava swelled. Dust filled the sky. Waves of molten rock crashed upon the shore of dry land. Several mountains crumbled. A familiar unearthly roar filled the air.

The four pterodactyls hovered over the destruction left by the falling creature. Marle looked down at the small remains of Tyranno Lair that stuck out above the lava lake.

"So Lavos is not of this earth," she said. "And it descended in this time period."

"Crono fight Lavos?" asked Ayla.

Crono held tight onto the pterodactyl's reigns and shook his head.

"Lavos huge!" she exclaimed.

Marle looked down at the small speck that stuck out from the lake. "It just landed, so let's go see if there's something we can do."

The prehistoric woman snapped her reigns. The pterodactyl soared downward, heading for the speck of land left by Tyranno Lair. Marle and Crono followed her. Kino turned and flew back towards the village.

Only a small portion of Tyranno Lair stuck out of the lake of lava. It consisted of the uppermost part of the fortress. Beams of metal protruded from the surface like a bad haircut. Several bones decorated the top of the castle.

The three pterodactyls and their riders slowly glided to the small area of land. Ayla landed hers first and dismounted. When her feet hit the metal floor, it seemed to bob up and down.

"Careful," said Ayla. "Tyranno Lair sink soon."

Crono slowly got off of his pterodactyl and joined Ayla. Marle gracefully dismounted and walked across the metal protrusion.

"Lavos isn't here," said the princess.

"Lavos deep underground already," said Ayla.

Crono looked around. He saw nothing but miles of lava in every direction from the small island. Lavos was nowhere to be found.

Something caught his eye. He walked to the edge of the floating island and saw a small, flashing orb. Small bits of lightning radiated from it. He whistled.

"What is it, Crono?" asked Marle. She turned and saw him pointing to the orb. The princess walked to his side and looked it over.

"What is?" asked Ayla.

"Is it a gate?" asked Marle.

Crono reached into his satchel for Lucca's gate key. He pulled it out and adjusted the dials. It hummed to life.

"See if it is, Crono," said Marle.

A buzzing came from the device. Slowly the orb began to expand. It became several feet wide. A strong suction began to pull the party in.

"It is a gate!" said the princess.

"Crono!" shouted Ayla. "What is it?"

The wind whooshed around them. Crono put the gate key in his satchel and stepped into the vortex.

"He's crazy!" said Marle. "But I guess I'd better follow him!" She jumped into the swirling portal.

"Wait!" shouted Ayla. She ran into it just as it closed.

XII: The Kingdom of Zeal

The gate trip took place instantaneously. With a loud whirring, the portal opened. Crono, Marle, and Ayla were thrown onto a cold rock ground in a small cave. A small beam of light penetrated through the entrance.

"Where are we?" asked Ayla.

"I was just about to ask the same thing," said Marle.

The swirling gate closed behind the party. Crono felt an intense cold about him. He noticed a great deal of ice hung from the ceiling.

"Cold here, too," said Ayla.

Crono walked to the entrance of the cave. Marle and Ayla followed him. They looked outside and were amazed.

For miles and miles there was nothing but snow. A virtual endless blizzard covered the land from north to south and east to west. The clouds were dark. Very little light shined through to warm the earth.

"Its so very cold here," said Marle. She looked around. A small, white pyramid-like structure stuck out from the snow.

"What that?" asked Ayla, pointing to the structure.

"Let's go check it out, Crono," said the princess.

Crono nodded and put his arm over his eyes to protect them from the fierce winds and snow. He trudged through the deep white powder until he reached the pyramid. He ascended the steps and waited for his female companions to do the same.

The top of the pyramid was flat. A circular, purple engraving covered it. It glowed brightly, providing some warmth. Crono bent down and looked at it.

"What is it?" asked Marle.

The boy ran his hands over it. The princess did the same, and Ayla stepped on it.

In a flash, the cold, desolate plain had been replaced with a warm, grassy hill. Several flowers surrounded the pyramid, which had mysteriously become a bronze color.

"What happened?" asked Ayla.

"We must've been teleported," said Marle.

They walked down the steps of the pyramid. Not far away was a steep cliff. Crono walked over to it and looked over the edge.

Nothing but clouds were below him. There was no river or ground. He realized he was standing on a floating island. We must be in the sky... he thought.

"Hey, what's there?" asked Marle. The princess and Ayla walked over to the edge and surveyed it. "We're in the clouds!"

Crono looked across the endless chasm. A larger chunk of land was across the sky. A grand mountain was topped by a huge palace, from which sprung a waterfall. A strange, bird-like structure was on the edge of the piece of floating land across the sky. Not far was another floating island, marked with a single palace.

"Look!" said Ayla.

The other two turned around and looked at where the prehistoric woman was pointing. A huge, marble city was across from the teleport pyramid.

"Let's check it out," said Marle, striking out towards the marble structure.

Crono followed her, and Ayla brought up the rear.

The gate around the marble city gave way to a grand courtyard. Hundreds of people milled around. They wore exotic, flowing robes with rich gems. Many carried books and read them as they walked. Many exotic plants and statues adorned the sprawling arches and stone walkways. Stained glass windows were set in beautiful marble buildings.

"What is this place?" asked Marle.

"Welcome to the City of Enhasa," said a voice.

Crono turned around and saw a woman with a large blue hat and a flowing gown standing next to them.

"Excuse me, but could you tell me where we are?" asked Marle.

"This is the City of Enhasa, where people can dream away," said the woman.

"Yes, but where are we? What year is it?"

"Why, this is the Kingdom of Zeal!" said the woman. "You are in the year 12,000 B.C."

"Kingdom of Zeal?" asked Ayla. "What happen to village? What happen to lava lake? Where Lavos?"

The woman laughed. "The Kingdom of Zeal is also known as the Land of Magic," she said. "All people who know how to use magic live here among the clouds and are called Enlightened Ones. Those who don't are damned forever to the Earthbound villages below. They live in clustered underground villages."

"Magic?" asked Marle. "We know how to use magic, right Crono?"

The boy nodded.

"Ah, I sense your powers," said the woman. "They don't feel as strong as ours though. You must have some sort of primitive form of magic."

Primitive my...

"Here in the Kingdom of Zeal, we enjoy eternal bliss. Our leader is Queen Zeal. She governs the land from her palace over there." The woman pointed to the distant floating island with the mountain and the palace. "She is advised by her three Gurus, the Guru of Life, the Guru of Wisdom, and the Guru of Time."

"How interesting," said Marle.

"The Guru of Wisdom has just completed the Queen's Mammon Machine. It is a powerful energy-siphoning device made from the royal family's Dreamstone treasury."

Dreamstone! thought Crono.

"He seems to have disappeared though. The Guru of Time has not been seen in awhile, either. He is rumored to be on some distant island working on a 'Chrono Trigger' or a 'Time Egg' or some silly thing."

Crono listened as the woman continued.

"The Guru of Life is working on the Blackbird, that large flying device over there." She pointed to the black, bird-like object on the floating island far away. "He has also been instructed to build the Ocean Palace."

"Ocean Palace?" asked Ayla.

"The Ocean Palace is being constructed as a new home for the Mammon Machine. The Mammon Machine draws energy directly from Lavos, the world's energy source. Once it is moved there, we can enjoy even more power!"

Marle's mind raced. "But Lavos is..."

"We used to rely on the Sun Stone for power," said the woman, interrupting the princess. "But the prophet said that it was useless to rely on earthly objects for power. He had it sealed up in the Sun Palace over there. It is now guarded by the Son of Sun." She pointed to the small island with the single palace.

"The prophet?" asked Ayla.

"Recently, a wandering prophet came to Zeal. He is not an Enlightened One, but he is not an Earthbound either. His aura is full of darkness and sorrow."

"How very interesting," said Marle.

"But enough about our kingdom," said the woman. "You must be tired from your journey. I will show you our hot springs, where you can relax." She turned around and walked through the crowd of people, heading towards a large building.

"Ayla tired!" said the prehistoric woman. "Let's follow!"

Crono nodded and pushed his way through the crowd. He walked past people of all ages, old and young. Many were reading books. Some were reciting poetry.


Crono was knocked to his back. He looked up to see his assailant.

A young lad stood before him. He was no more than three feet tall and had bluish hair. His clothes were purple, and he had pointed shoes. Behind him was a strange, purple cat with a golden collar. It meowed at him.

"Hey, what's the idea?" asked Marle.

"Odd boy," said Ayla.

"The black wind begins to blow," said the boy. "I feel doom in your future."

"What?" asked Marle.

The small lad continued onward, pushing through the crowd of people.

"What was that all about?" asked the princess.

"So I see you've met Janus," said the woman who was guiding them. "Don't feel frightened. He's only a small boy. Janus is the son of Queen Zeal. He is the younger brother of Schala. He comes here often with his cat, Alfador."

Crono shook his head and stood up. He followed the woman towards the hot springs, eager to feel refreshed after his long journey.

After his trip to the spa, Crono found Ayla and Marle before he set off. They felt refreshed after their long journey through Tyranno Lair and the battle with Azala.

They stood in front of the central gates to the city, ready to leave. Crono checked his satchel to make sure he had everything.

"Where we go next?" asked Ayla.

Crono thought for a minute. Where would they go next?

"I say we check out Zeal Palace on that other floating island," said Marle.

"Yeah, but how we get there?" asked the prehistoric woman.

"Good question," said Marle. She looked around the area. A strange blue creature made his way through the crowd. He had long, skinny arms and a green mohawk. His body was large and bulbous, and he had strange eyes.

"Excuse me," said the princess.

The creature turned to her. "Yes?"

"How would we get to Zeal Palace?" she asked.

The creature used its long arms to scratch its head. It looked up at the sky for a moment, as if thinking to itself.

"The best way is to take the teleport bridge," it said. "You'll find it right outside the city gates, a few hundred yards from the teleport down to the ground."

"Thanks," said Marle.

"Nu..." said the creature as it hobbled off.

The princess watched it walk away for a second. "That guy seems very familiar..."

"Let's go!" said Ayla.

They walked through the city gates and climbed another mini-pyramid. From there, they were teleported to the larger island.

The magnificent chamber of Queen Zeal was well furnished. Exotic plants hung from the ceiling like pendulums. Beautiful tapestries adorned the walls. A beautiful red carpet stretched from the heavy door to the throne, which was ten feet high with a grand design to it.

Queen Zeal herself was in her early fifties. She sat on her throne with her long, grey hair down to her shoulders. She wore an elaborate headdress and had long, flowing robes down to her feet.

Dalton, her military commander, stood by her side, bored out of his mind. He had long, dirty blonde hair. His right eye was covered by a patch. He had a long, orange cape down to his ankles.

A whirring came from the door. "Come in," said Zeal.

The door opened, and the Prophet walked in. He wore a heavy purple cloak which covered his face and the rest of his body. He was a strange man. People said that he came from a far away place. He somehow had the ability to predict the future.

"Yes, what is it, Prophet?" asked Zeal.

"My Queen," he said, "we should step up the building of the Ocean Palace."

"Ah yes," she said. "The power of Lavos emanates from the Mammon Machine. If we moved it closer to Lavos himself, we could receive more power."

"Yes, my Queen."

"Is there something else you would like to ask me about, Prophet?"

The man thought for a second. "Yes," he replied. "I fear that there is a group of travelers that will arrive soon. They will attempt to overthrow the kingdom."

"A group of travelers?" she asked. "How many?"

"Three, your highness."

"Do you know them?"

"I... have had run-ins with them before."

"So be it," she said. "Any one who opposes me shall meet the fate of the Gurus!" She began to laugh. The prophet stood up and left the throne room.

Crono stepped off of the teleport pad and looked up at the mighty mountain of Zeal. High atop its peak sat Zeal Palace. Several dark clouds swirled around it. A path led from the teleport pyramid they were standing on all the way to the top of the mountain.

"Shall we go on?" asked Marle as she stepped out of the teleport pyramid.

Crono nodded and started up the path. Ayla and Marle followed after him. After about an hour of climbing, they reached the palace.

Marle turned around and looked at the land far below. She saw all the way to Enhasa City, where they had just come from. She saw the Sun Palace, where the Sun Stone was kept. She saw the Blackbird, the flying ship on the edge of the floating island.

Crono walked up to the large double doors of the palace. He took the enormous brass ring in his hand and hit the door several times. The boom echoed throughout the halls of the palace.

The door slowly creaked open. A man dressed in expensive-looking robes walked out and bowed. "Ah, travelers," he said. "Welcome to Zeal Palace. Please make yourselves at home."

The boy walked through the heavy metal doors. Marle and Ayla followed him. They stood back and looked at the marvelous interior.

The Palace of Zeal was like a greenhouse. Giant terraces stuck out from the walls and had humongous trees growing on them. Great plants draped from the ceiling. Their leaves hung downward like strands of hair. Flowers sprouted up from gardens on the ground. Bridges spanned across the floor, complete with coverings of moss. The sun shined down from a glass window in the ceiling, casting spectacular light displays through the droplets of water in the air.

"Wow," said Marle. "What a beautiful place."

"Is incredible!" exclaimed Ayla.

Gardeners floated throughout the palace using their magic powers. Some had hedge trimmers, others had watering cans. Several of the blue creatures with long arms wandered about, pruning flowers and bushes.

"We could get lost in this place," said Marle.

Crono laughed.

The platform they stood on had a series of steps in front of it that led downwards to the main floor. The boy led his companions down the steps and wandered across the expanse of gardens that sprawled throughout the palace.

Several strange birds roamed the trees, singing merrily. Monkeys swung through the branches, squabbling over pieces of fruit.

Crono spotted two familiar looking creatures standing in the garden conversing. They were alien-like creatures with white eyes and olive-green skin. White garments covered their bodies, along with collars around their necks.

"I wanna be the wind, Masa!" said one.

"Maybe tomorrow."


"So, where's the Guru of Life been...?"

"Hey Crono, look!" said Marle.

He stopped looking at the two creatures. Marle was pointing to a small boy standing under a tree. He had a familiar bluish hair and a purple cat with him.

"That's Janus, the kid that ran into you," said the princess.

Crono raised an eyebrow. If he's the son of Zeal, we should follow him... He motioned for Marle and Ayla to press themselves against a tree.

Janus petted his cat and turned to a nearby staircase. He snapped his fingers and the cat followed him up the stairs. The child crossed one of the great bridges and walked into a room.

"Let's follow him," said Marle.

Crono walked up the staircase and crossed the bridge. Marle and Ayla followed him. They stopped at the large doorway and pressed up against the wall.

"Shh... listen," said Ayla.

"Oh, you're back Janus," said a voice. It was sweet, heavenly, and comforting. Crono listened intently. "Is something wrong?"

"It's the black wind..." said Janus.

"You feel it too?" The voice paused. "Don't worry, it'll be alright. Now here, I want you to have this."

"What is it?" asked the bluish-haired boy.

"It's a magic amulet that will protect you from danger. I wish I could stay with you, but mother has other plans."

"That must be Schala!" whispered Marle. Crono nodded in agreement and continued listening in on the conversation in the next room.

"She's not our mother," said Janus. "She's the same on the outside, but inside, she's changed..."

A well-dressed woman walked up the staircase and crossed the bridge to the room. She looked at the trio hunkered by the door. "May I help you?"

Crono snapped out of his listening act and looked at the woman.

"Um..." said Marle.

"Please leave. This is the bedroom of the royal family," said the woman.

Crono nodded and motioned for his friends to follow him. They walked back across the bridge and down the steps.

The woman shook her head and walked into Schala's and Janus's bedroom. She looked at the daughter of Zeal. "Your highness, the Queen is preparing a trip to the Ocean Palace."

"All right, I'll go," said Schala. She followed the woman out of the room and across the bridge. Crono, Marle, and Ayla were standing at the bottom, pretending not to be doing anything.

Schala turned and looked at them. "Oh," she said. "Who might you be?" She had bluish hair tied up in a ponytail. Her face was beautiful, and she had long, flowing, purple robes.

"Miss Schala!" said the impatient woman.

The daughter of Zeal shook her head and followed the woman through the garden towards the throne room.

"Crono, I say we follow her!" said Marle.

Crono rolled his eyes. Had they not done enough following for one day?

"C'mon, let's see this big Queen!"

The boy shook his head and followed Schala and the woman through the garden.

The hall in front of the throne room was large and full of huge statues of members of the Zeal dynasty. Portraits and tapestries decorated the walls. Several blue creatures with long arms roamed the hallway. A few other people stood by, reading books.

Schala walked up to the heavy, green door of the throne room. It had a strange crest engraved on it. The daughter of Zeal removed a pendant from her neck and held it up to the door.

She began to chant. The pendant glowed.

With a buzzing sound, the door opened. Schala walked into the throne room. The heavy door closed behind her.

"Did you see that?" asked Ayla. The three warriors were hiding behind a large statue, watching the daughter of Zeal open the door.

Crono nodded. He looked at the huge door, then thought about the pendant Schala had used. He looked at Marle.

"What?" she asked.

He motioned for her to give him her pendant.

"What do you want that for?" she asked, handing him the charm. He walked up to the door with the crest and held up the pendant.

Nothing happened.

"Hmm..." said Marle. "Well, let's go look somewhere else in this place. There's bound to be something else of interest."

Crono nodded and motioned for the two girls to follow him back down the throne room hallway.

After walking down the staircase that led to the hallway of the throne room, Crono stopped and looked up at the tropical gardens high above him. Marle and Ayla searched the skies with him, admiring the exotic plant life.

"Excuse me," said a voice.

Crono looked ahead. An old woman stood in front of him. She had on long robes and had a cane in her hand.

"Yes?" asked Marle.

"Have you seen the Mammon Machine yet?" she asked.

"No," said the princess.

"I suggest you go see it," said the old crone. "Its raw power made me feel young again."

"What the hey," said the princess. "Let's go check it out while we're here, eh Crono?"

The boy nodded.

"The Mammon Machine is across that bridge there," she said, pointing to a staircase that connected to a bridge leading into another hallway.

"Let's go see big machine," said Ayla.

Crono walked up the stairway and crossed the bridge. He looked down at a running stream through one of the flower gardens.

The next hallway led them into a large, circular chamber. Several banners hung down from the ceiling. A large, demonic looking statue stood in the center of the room. It was cast out of solid Dreamstone and had long arms that reached down into the floor. A red light emanated from the statue.

"Is this the Mammon Machine?" asked Marle.

"Is very hot!" said Ayla.

The statue gave off a large amount of heat. Crono could feel it just standing in the doorway. Marle walked over and looked at the strange machine.

"So the Guru of Wisdom built this thing," said Marle. "He sure did a heck of a job."

Crono looked at the red energy pulsing from the Mammon Machine. He pulled the pendant out of his satchel.

"What are you doing?" asked Marle.

The boy held the pendant close to the Mammon Machine. Its red energy flowed throughout the chamber.

The pendant began to glow red. Its crystal became luminescent. Crono showed it to Marle, who smiled. "Maybe now we can open the door to the throne room."

"Let's go!" said Ayla.

The hallway to the throne room was vast and empty. Crono stood before the large, green door. He looked at the engraving. Something seemed familiar about it.

"Well, what are you waiting for, Crono?" asked Marle.

The boy snapped out of his stare and turned to the princess. She motioned for him to use the pendant.

Crono pulled the pendant out of his satchel and held it in front of the door. It glowed brightly, casting a red luminescence on the door.

The heavy barrier buzzed and slid open.

"Yes!" said Ayla.

"My pendant must be made of the same red rock as the Mammon Machine," said the princess. She looked ahead into the throne room. "Let's check it out! Zeal, here we come!"

Marle walked into the throne room first. Crono came next, and Ayla followed last. They were instantly amazed by the beautiful decorations throughout the room.

The Queen sat in her throne. Dalton was at her side. The Prophet stood on her other side, and Schala knelt before her.

"Who are these people?" demanded the Queen. "How did you get in here?"

The Prophet moved in front of the Queen. "Your majesty, these are the trespassers I warned you of," he said.

Zeal's eyes bugged. "How dare you come into my kingdom, thinking you could oppose me!" she said. "Dalton! Take these traitors away!"

The general laughed. "Of course, your majesty," he said. He raised his hand in the air. The Queen, the general, the Prophet, and Schala were instantly teleported out of the room.

A new, strange creature materialized in their place. It was five feet tall and had a wide, gaping mouth. It had a group of cones on its head that resembled a crown. Two stubby arms stuck out from its sides. Scales that seemed to be made of gold covered the demon. Its eyes burned white with rage.

Ayla leapt through the air like a panther. She curled her fists as she sailed towards the golden monster. As she drove her hands into the demon's hide, a loud, metallic clang echoed throughout the throne room.

"Ow!" said Ayla as she rolled away from the monster.

Marle shouldered her crossbow. Her arrows would never have an effect against such a thick coating of armor.

Crono raised his arms in the air for his lightning spell. Out of the glass dome in the ceiling, a blast of electricity fell. It struck the monster in the large cone atop its head and traveled into its body. The creature scrunched up like a bowling ball.

"What is it doing?" asked Marle.

The monster unfurled and threw its stubby arms in the air. The chamber filled with electricity. The trio felt the lightning traveling through their veins.

Crono's hair stood on end as he struggled to stand up under the intense pummeling. Another powerful wave of lightning was released by the demon, knocking him down.

The electricity ceased. Marle turned to Crono. "Crono, he must be able to absorb lightning!" she wheezed.

He nodded.

"Shell too hard!" said Ayla. "What we do?"

"I'll take care of him!" said Marle. She stood up, still weary from the severe shocking. She raised her arms over her head and formed an ice ball.

The creature floated in the air, making no attempt to strike back.

The princess released the blast of cold. It soared across the throne room, leaving small bits of ice particles in the air. It struck the monster dead center. A thick coating of ice formed around the demon. It fell to the floor.

Marle stood motionless, waiting to see if her attack had worked.

The thick coating of ice split down the center. A popping came from within. Bits and pieces broke off. Inside, the monster flailed its limbs and shook its body to crack the barrier. With one strong heave, the block around it shattered.

"No!" said Marle.

The creature resumed floating in the air. It curled back into its bowling ball form. The room began to grow chilly.

A wave of cold air radiated out from the gold demon. It struck the trio and froze them solid. Crono tried to concentrate his lightning power to de-frost himself.

Before he could summon the mental strength, the gold demon formed several large pieces of ice in the air above the throne room. The monster dropped his arms and released the huge chunks of frozen water. They crashed into the trio, knocking them to the floor.

Crono failed to pick himself up. The impact of the giant bricks had taken all of the strength out of his already battered body.

Marle managed to stand up and face the floating monster. She tried to reach for her crossbow in a last ditch attempt.

The creature curled itself up. Several red, glowing orbs appeared above its head. They hovered in mid air for a second before it waved its arms. The orbs made a direct line towards the princess and struck her.

The orbs released powerful waves of energy over her body. She passed out from the blast, falling unconscious to the floor.

Ayla struggled to her feet and turned to the demon. She raised her fists into a defensive position. The monster curled up into a bowling ball and began to glow.

The prehistoric woman took a step back as the monster uncurled.

With a monstrous belch, the demon opened its mouth and shot out a massive projectile traveling at an unbelievable rate. It collided with Ayla, sending her into the throne room wall. The sheer impact of the blast knocked her unconscious.

Dalton teleported back into the room and looked down at the lifeless bodies strewn among the ground. "Good work, Golem," he said to the demon. He snapped his fingers. The Queen, Schala, and the prophet teleported back.

"Excellent, Dalton," said the Queen. She returned to her throne and waved her hand. The Golem disappeared.

"Now for these intruders," she said. Zeal waved her hand again. A bright orb appeared in the center of the room and sucked the three unconscious warriors towards it.

She waved her hand again. A purple pyramid trapped their lifeless forms motionless. Crono woke up and tried to break free of the magic barrier.

"I'm afraid it's useless to try, young lad," said Queen Zeal. "You won't die. Immediately anyway. By the time we're through with you, you'll be begging us to end your suffering!"

The Prophet watched as Crono beat on the wall of the pyramid encasing them.

Far from the throne room, there was a remote prison chamber. A central pillar of light dominated the small circular room. At the bottom of the pillar was a square control panel for releasing the captives. Inside the light beam floated the unconscious forms of Crono, Marle, and Ayla.

The door to the prison chamber opened. A bright light illuminated the otherwise dark room. Crono slowly opened his eyes to make out the intruder.

Three figures walked into the prison room. One was rather tall. Another was a little on the shorter side. The third figure appeared to be some kind of animal. The glare prevented Crono from making out the faces of the figures.

"Hmph," said the voice of Janus. "Idiots." He looked up at the three figures suspended in the column of light.

The boy turned to the other figure. It seemed to be fiddling with the control panel. "What are you doing, Schala?" asked Janus.

"I'm going to rescue them," said the familiar voice of the daughter of Zeal.

Janus shook his head. "It's useless," he replied. "They'll escape and you'll be in trouble."

"Don't worry about me," she said. "Did you see them battle the Golem? They might be the only ones who stand a chance against the Giga Gaia!"

"No one can beat him!" said Janus.

Schala pulled the lever back.

The column of light vanished. Crono, Marle, and Ayla landed on the beam projector with a thud. "Ohh..." groaned Ayla.

"Are you alright?" asked Schala.

"W-what happened?" asked Marle.

"Head hurt bad," said Ayla.

Crono stood up and massaged his aching back.

"Quickly, you must escape from the palace!" said Schala.

"Schala?" asked Marle. "Why did you let us go?"

"I need a favor of you," she replied. "You must rescue the Guru of Wisdom from the Mountain of Woe. He was sent there for opposing the Queen! Hurry, you must rescue him!"

"I'm afraid I can't allow that," said a voice.

Schala turned around. Janus looked behind him. Crono raised his head, and Marle and Ayla looked up.

"Your meddling tires me, Schala," said the Prophet.

"No!" replied the daughter of Zeal.

"You'll just have to... disappear!"

"Stop!" said Janus. His face was stern as he stared up at the Prophet. He stared back at him. His heart began to melt.

Alfador the cat meowed his support.

The prophet looked at the children of Zeal and the three warriors.

"I will spare your lives," he said. "But you will cooperate with the Queen, Schala."

She nodded.

The Prophet turned to the three warriors. "Now, you will show me how you came to arrive here."

Crono nodded. He motioned for the others to follow him out of the prison room.

After a long journey to the city of Enhasa, the group teleported down to the solid ground far below the floating islands. The blizzard still whipped fiercely across the land, blowing huge snow drifts around the plains.

They returned to the cave in which the gate had first thrown Crono, Marle, and Ayla into this era. The black, electric orb floated in the middle, waiting to be opened.

"This is how you came in?" asked the Prophet.

Crono nodded.

"Open it," he commanded.

The boy reached into his satchel and pulled out the gate key. He fiddled with the knobs. The orb expanded into a swirling vortex. A strong wind blew out of the portal.

"Now, Schala," said the Prophet, "after I force them in, you will seal the portal shut with your magic."

An expression of horror invaded the daughter of Zeal's face. "No! You can't make me..."

The Prophet snapped. "Do it! Their lives are at stake!"

She lowered her head. "Yes..."

Crono jumped into the void. Marle slowly stepped in. Ayla followed her. The portal shut behind them.

Schala raised her hands over the orb. She closed her eyes and began to chant. With a loud snapping, a purple triangle appeared over the orb, sealing it shut.

The Prophet turned and walked out of the cave.

Schala fell to her knees. "Forgive me..."

XIII: Back to the Land of Magic

Crono made a mad dash out of the pillar of light at the End of Time. Marle rolled out, and Ayla leapt from the beam. The pillar slowly began to disappear.

Ayla turned and looked at it. "Schala seal shut," said the prehistoric woman.

Marle rested her chin in her hand, thinking. "The key to defeating Lavos must be in that period," she said. "It has something to do with that Mammon Machine. We have to get back there!"

"But how?" asked Ayla.

"Oh, I might know how," said a familiar voice.

The trio turned around. In the center of the square across the bridge, the old man with the hat looked at them from his seat on the ground. He slowly drew his cane across the cobblestone floor.

Crono crossed the bridge and walked up to him. Marle and Ayla followed the boy. The old man fixed his hat. "So, you've been to the Land of Magic, eh?" he asked.

The boy nodded.

"Indeed you are correct," he said. "The secret to defeating the immortal Lavos exists in the 12,000 B.C. era. But since Schala has been forced to shut the portal, you must look for an alternative way of getting back there."

"But how?" asked Marle.

The old man scratched his head. "Well, I seem to remember someone working on an invention called the Wings of Time," he said. "Unfortunately, he became a tad psychotic."

"Wait," said a voice.

The trio turned around. They saw Lucca walking into the room from Spekkio's chamber. She seemed to have been listening in on the conversation. "I remember some guy who we ran into in 2030 A.D.," she said. "He was in the Keeper's Dome. He was working on something."

"That's right!" said Marle. "He was some kind of inventor. Wait, I'm remembering something else. What about that door that the blue creature walked through..." She scratched her head. "I saw that same exact door in 12,000 B.C. And I saw one of those blue creatures too!"

"So that's where the door and the creature came from," said Lucca. "I say we go check it out!"

"Right!" said Marle. "So who's coming with us?"

"I am ready to assist thee," said a voice.

Crono turned to Spekkio's door. It opened, and Frog walked out with the Masamune in his hand. He had a proud smile on his face, and seemed ready to do battle.

"I stay here," said Ayla. She walked over to the water fountain and sat down.

"What about me?" asked Lucca.

Crono shook his head.

"Okay, next time, then!"

"Good luck," said the old man. "Use the pillar of light that takes you to the Proto Dome in 2030 A.D. Then use the jet bike to get to the Keeper's Dome."

Crono pointed to the garden of lights on the other side of the End of Time. Marle and Frog followed him across the bridge.

"See you in the future, guys," said Marle. She jumped into the pillar. Frog followed her, and Crono jumped in last.

The Proto Dome was just as dusty and dreary as it had been when Crono, Marle, Lucca, and Robo had first used the gate. Little light managed to penetrate the heavy metal exterior of the dome. Dust floated through the air like a cloud of decay. Several rodents scurried about the floor, desperately searching for food.

The gate in the back room opened, blowing the deep piles of dust around. Crono, Marle, and Frog were thrown onto the cold metal floor. The boy stood up and looked around the darkness. He withdrew his halogen flashlight and turned it on.

The rusting walls of the dome were revealed in the beam of the flashlight. Crono shined it all over the room, looking for the door. He found his target and motioned for his two companions to follow him.

They managed to make their way to the outside of the Proto Dome. There, in front of the main door, sat the jet bike they had used to cross the highway. It seemed to be in perfect condition and still full of fuel.

"It's amazing nobody touched it," said Marle.

"What strange beast is this?" asked Frog.

"Hop in and find out," said the princess.

Crono climbed into his driver's seat and inserted the key he had received from Doan. The engine hummed to life. The control panel lit up. A powerful blast of fire erupted from the back engine nozzle.

"Yes!" shouted Marle. "Let's go to the Keeper's Dome!"

Crono stepped on the gas pedal. The jet bike lurched forth and took off at an incredible speed. Frog was shocked by the immense power of the machine.

"Incredible!" he said.

The bike streaked off towards the Keeper's Dome.

Crono parked the bike outside the front door of the Keeper's Dome. It still stood tall on the side of the highway like a monument. Large cracks could be seen in its glass roof. A low thunder rumbled in the distance.

"Let's go inside," said Marle.

The boy walked through the wide open front door. He switched on his flashlight and shined it around. The beam revealed a familiar cluttering of machine and computer parts. Several broken robots were strewn about the floor. Monitors, keyboards, and computer chips were stacked high in the corner.

"Hello?" asked Marle.

A loud groaning came from behind a computer screen.

"Do not disturb my slumber..." said a voice.

Crono shined the light in the direction the voice had come from. It landed upon a familiar blue creature with long arms and a mohawk.

"What happened?" asked Marle. "Where is your master?"

"Please," said the creature. "I must sleep."

Frog shook his head. "We will not be able to withdraw answers from him," said the amphibian. He looked around the room. In the back, a heavy green door with a crest was in the wall. "Is that the crested door thou hath spoken of?" He pointed to the door.

Crono used the light. He shined it on the door. Marle walked up to it and surveyed it. "This is the exact door that sealed Zeal's throne room!" she exclaimed. "Crono, use my pendant!"

The boy crossed the piles of junk and looked at the crested door. He handed the flashlight to Marle and withdrew the pendant from his satchel.

A red glow emitted from the pendant. The door shined and hummed. Crono held the charm closer. With a buzz and a whir, the door slid open.

"It worked!" said Marle. "C'mon!"

The trio walked into the next room. It was even darker than the previous chamber. Crono shined the beam around, but some sort of force prevented any illumination from falling on the walls. "What gives?" asked the princess.

A blue glow hovered about the ceiling. Crono looked up. Frog took a step back. Finally, a familiar vision appeared among the fog.

It was a hologram of Belthasar, the man they had encountered on their first trip to the Keeper's Dome. His visage filled the air.

"To those of you who opened the door," said the image. "I am Belthasar, Guru of Life. I once lived in the ancient Land of Magic, circa 12,000 A.D. A great disaster somehow through me into this time period. To my surprise, I discovered Lavos exists here, as well as other eras I suspect. I began to research this monstrous creature. Through fossilized testing, I discovered Lavos descended to Earth millions of years ago in a blast that wiped out the dinosaurs. Burrowing deep in the Earth's core, he began to consume our energy. In 600 A.D. I discovered Lavos was briefly summoned away by a warlock. In 1999 A.D. I found out that Lavos has claimed the Earth, and reigns from Death Peak, where it creates replicas of itself for interstellar travel. It continues to replicate. Like a giant parasite, it is consuming our world as we know it. Forced to live here, I continued to conduct research on Lavos. But I am growing old. It is impossible to keep my sanity in such times with no other humans. All I have left is my loyal Nu. So before I lose my mind completely, I shall safeguard my data and my ultimate creation. I long to return home, but I am frail. You who have opened the door, I leave matters in your hands. Only by mastering time itself do you stand a chance against Lavos. You are true warriors. Now I shall reveal to you my ultimate creation: the Wings of Time."

The hologram disappeared. The blue light in the ceiling faded. A powerful blast of bright, white light filled the room they had entered.

"Oh my God," said Marle.

In front of them sat a hulking machine. It was shaped like a pod. A glass dome covered the control cockpit. On the side was a ladder that led up to the controls. A large, aero-dynamic fin stuck out of the back.

"This... moves through time?" asked Frog.

"I guess so," said the princess. "Lucca and Robo would have loved this."

"Well," said a voice. "I see you have found my master's time machine."

The trio turned around. In the doorway stood the blue creature with the mohawk. "Scared you, didn't I?" it asked.

"Who art thou?" asked Frog.

"It's me, Belthasar!" exclaimed the creature. "I copied my memory into this thing. Nifty, huh?"

Crono looked over the creature.

"Now, I must teach you how to use this machine to transcend time," he said. "Climb to the top of the ladder!"

The boy nodded and walked over to the ladder. He climbed the rungs to the top. A small switch opened the bubble dome around the cockpit. He flipped it and jumped into the control seat. A fascinating array of diodes, controls, and gizmos filled the front control panel. Marle and Frog hopped into the back seat.

The blue creature slowly climbed up the ladder and looked in. "This will start up the machine," he said, pointing to a trigger under the control stick. Crono pushed it. The machine hummed to life. The control panel lit up.

"Now, this little keypad will allow you to select the era you wish to visit," said the blue creature. "Suppose you want to see 65,000,000 B.C." He tapped the number 65,000,000 followed by B.C. into the keypad. A computer screen on the panel displayed the number. "Now, you would push this button here." He pointed to a red button below the display.

Crono nodded.

"One more thing," said the creature. "Could you please name my invention?"

Marle looked over the controls, then surveyed the rest of the machine. "Epoch," she said.

"Then Epoch it shall be," said the creature. "Off you go! Good luck in your quest!" He climbed down the ladder and walked out of the room.

Crono brought the bubble dome down around them. He pushed the red button under the year display.

A white aura surrounded the time machine. It hummed and bounced. With a powerful snapping sound, the Keeper's Dome disappeared.

The Keeper's Dome was replaced with the tropical surroundings of a rain forest. Large trees towered in the skies, stretching for the sun. Dinosaurs roamed the ground, searching for signs of food. Birds flew through the air, chasing after insects.

"Wow," said Marle. "It must have worked."

"Indeed it did," said Frog. "These must be prehistoric times."

"Well, I don't think there's anything here that could help us," said Marle. "Let's try somewhere else!"

Crono tapped the keypad, putting in the year 600 A.D. He pushed the red button.

The machine glowed white and began to shake. A loud snapping sound filled the air, as if the barrier of time was being torn in two.

The jungle around them disappeared. It was replaced with a familiar grassy plain between two mountains. Frog looked through the glass dome of the Epoch. "This is Porre Town!" he exclaimed. "There are the Doronado Mountains, and there is the cave that leads to Magus's castle!"

"This is some machine," said Marle.

"Powerful it is!" said Frog. He looked at Crono. "Where to next?"

"Well, we needed to get this machine to go to 12,000 A.D. and find out about Lavos, right?" asked Marle.

"Yes we did," said Frog.

"I say we go to the Land of Magic next!"

Crono smiled as he punched in 12,000 A.D. on the keypad. The number appeared on the time gauge monitor.

The boy pushed the button.

With another loud humming and a white flash of light, the Epoch flashed backwards through time.

The plain between the Doronado Mountains and the cave disappeared. A vast, frozen wasteland took its place, stretching from horizon to horizon. Thick, dark clouds filled the sky, casting down wave after wave of snow.

Crono popped the glass dome over the Epoch cockpit. A fierce blast of wind swept through the interior. Marle and Frog covered their faces.

"Well, I guess the land didn't change much since we left," she yelled against the wind.

Crono peeked over the edge of the cockpit, searching for the familiar, white pyramid that teleported people up to the floating islands of Zeal. He spotted a slight bump in the middle of the vast, pure ocean of snow. He tapped Marle's shoulder to get her attention and pointed to it.

"That's it," she said. "C'mon, let's go!"

The princess leaped over the edge of the cockpit and climbed down the ladder. She landed in the soft snow. Instantly, a cold feeling washed over her toes, numbing them. She felt a deep coldness throughout her body.

Frog leapt out next and felt the exact same numbing pain Marle felt as he hit the white powdery snow. His webbed feet became frozen.

"Tis cold!" he exclaimed. "Let us haste to find the pyramid!"

Crono leapt out next and led the trudge through the snow towards the pyramid. After several hundred yards worth of marching, they made it.

"Let's go to a warmer place," said Marle. She walked up the steps and looked at the engraving. She ran her hands over it and waited for the vast wasteland to be replaced with the city of Enhasa.

Nothing happened.

"What?" she asked.

Frog walked up the steps and looked at it. "Tis just an engraving," he said. Crono walked up and joined him.

"But, it teleported us up to Enhasa! Right Crono?"

The boy nodded.

"They hath sealed it," said Frog. "For fear of our return."

"Then we'll have to find some other way up there," said Marle. A fierce wind shook her body, renewing the numb feeling. "I guess we should find shelter first, though."

"Right," said Frog.

Crono searched the horizon. He remembered the woman at Enhasa saying something about Earthbound Villages where people without magic lived. Could one of those villages exist nearby? More importantly, were they warm?

He turned around and walked down the pyramid. "Where are you going, Crono?" asked Marle.

"He has a good sense of direction," said Frog. "I suggest we follow him."

Marle and Frog walked down the steps of the pyramid and followed Crono through the thick snow, in search of whatever the boy was looking for.

After what seemed like several hours of searching, the trio came upon a shoreline. They looked out to the icy sea beyond. Fog obscured their vision, preventing them from seeing other far off lands across the ocean.

"We hath come up shorthanded," said Frog. "There is nowhere to go."

The fog slowly began to clear. Crono looked through the thinning clouds, concentrating on a large object beyond.

"What are you looking at, Crono?" asked Marle.

The fog lifted, revealing a monstrous sight indeed. A tall mountain floated above the surface of the sea, supported by a series of links that sunk into a hole in an iceberg. The top of the mountain was flat.

"Could that be the Mountain of Woe that the Guru of Wisdom was sent to?" asked Marle.

"Even if it is, how could we possibly make it over there?" asked Frog.

Crono sat down in a nearby ditch in the snow. He thought for a second, wondering about how they could get across the icy sea to the mountain.

With a loud popping noise, the ground the boy was sitting on gave way. He fell through the ice into a subterranean cave. Marle rushed over to the gaping hole that Crono had just created. Frog followed her.

"Lad, are you alright?" he asked.

Crono looked up into the bright light and nodded.

"Hang on, we're coming down," said Marle.

She slowly lowered herself down through the hole. Frog leapt into the cave, landing on his webbed feet.

Crono looked around the interior of the cave. It seemed to be hewn out by some kind of digging tool. It was not made by nature. Several lit torches lined the walls, suggesting that they were not alone.

"This must be one of the underground Earthbound Villages that the woman was talking about," said Marle.

"Yes, you have found the Earthbound Village," said a voice.

The trio turned around. Standing in the mouth of a tunnel was an old man who carried a cane. He wore clothes made out of fur of animals, and his hair was unkempt.

"I am the keeper of the village without magic," he said. "We here do not possess magic powers, and are therefore banished to live below the earth, while the Enlightened Ones live high in the clouds."

Several children dressed in thick animal hides rushed out of tunnel behind the old man, laughing and playing joyfully.

"You are welcome to stay if you like," he said.

"Thank you, but how may we get to the Mountain of Woe?" asked Marle.

"The Mountain of Woe?" repeated the old man. "You wish to rescue the Guru?"

"Yes," said Frog. "Can you show us the way?"

The old man nodded. "Follow me." He turned and walked into the tunnel from which he had arrived. Crono, Marle, and Frog followed him.

The old man led them through a large underground town. Several small, one story huts were arranged in two rows to form a kind of street. Women walked back and forth, carrying food and meat. Men walked through the cave entrance, carrying dead animals ready for the fire for dinner. Children frolicked in the street, playing all sorts of games.

"Wow," said Marle. "A primitive village."

The old man spoke as they walked. "This village is home to the people who do not understand the works of magic," he said. "Instead of killing us, the Queen banished us to the Earth for good. We live our humble existence down here. It may not look like much, but it's a quaint way of living."

Some of the huts were empty and devoid of life. Others seemed to be ruined, smashed, or burned. "What happened to some of these dwellings?" asked Frog.

"When the Queen began her Ocean Palace project, she sent her minions to capture some of our people," he said. "We have not seen them since. We assume that they have been made to work as slaves on the Palace."

Frog nodded.

"What about the Guru of Wisdom?" asked Marle.

"When the Guru of Wisdom opposed the building of the Mammon Machine, she had several of her special forces build the floating Mountain of Woe. It is a remote, floating hill over the ocean. Queen Zeal puts all of her enemies there to rot. She is rumored to have some sort of powerful guardian on the mountain. The Guru was imprisoned there, and no one has seen him since."

"Then we've got to fight to save this guy," said Marle. She looked at the village life as they continued walking along.

"The Mountain is anchored by a thick chain of links that is stuck to a heavy rock in the deepest part of the village," said the old man. "That is your only link to the Mountain. You must climb the chain and look for the Guru. Rumor has it that he is on the very top."

After they passed through the underground village, the group came upon another tunnel. They walked through it, going deeper and deeper underground. Lit torches provided illumination along the way.

They came upon a large chamber that opened up into the cloudy sky. A small amount of snow had build up in the open air pit. A group of huge links traveled up into the sky. Crono followed the chain with his eyes, and looked at the massive base of the Mountain of Woe.

"So this is the way to the Mountain?" asked Marle.

"Yes," said the old man. "You are on your own from here. Good luck." He turned around and walked back through the tunnel to the village.

Frog looked up at the floating mountain. "Well, I say we should be moving soon."

Crono nodded. He walked over to one of the massive links that was embedded in the ground. He grabbed onto it and started climbing.

"The crazy things I do..." said Marle. She grabbed a link and began to climb.

"Let us proceed," said Frog as he leapt up onto the chain.

The trio crawled out of the cavern and saw the icy ocean beneath the mountain. They looked up and continued towards the floating mountain.

After ascending the long chain, the party discovered there was a tunnel inside the mountain. It was dark and frigid. Icicles hung from the ceiling like fangs of a wretched beast. They hopped off the chain and trekked through the cave.

"This shall lead us to the base of the mountain," said Frog.

They emerged from the tunnel and ended up at a broad cliff at the edge of the bottom of the mountain. Marle walked up to it and looked down.

"Wow," she said, looking across the endless blue water to the icebergs beyond. The fog covered the distant horizon, blocking out the sun. Waves of snow came down like wisps of hair, settling on the frozen ocean.

Bitter winds and snow whipped about the trio, forcing them to hold their footing on the frozen terrain. "Tis even colder up here," said Frog. He felt his body shiver in the gusts that scourged the mountain.

Marle felt the numbing feeling creep into her body again. She clasped her arms across her chest and began to shiver.

"We... had... better... get... to... the... t-t-top," she said, her teeth chattering.

Frog drew his cape around his body. "Yes," he said. "An amphibian like myself cannot stand the frigid air for long."

Crono turned around and surveyed the frozen mountainside. The wind came down from the peak in powerful torrents, sweeping down bits of rock and dust. The boy covered his eyes to protect them from the powerful gusts.

Through the waves of snow and ice, Crono could detect a small footpath between the jagged rocks. He whistled to the other two. They turned and looked at him. "Found a path?" asked Marle.

He nodded and waved for them to follow him. Slowly but surely, he scaled the face of the jagged rocks. Frog carefully clambered over the ice and snow, followed by a shaky Marle, who struggled to maintain her grip.

After several hours of climbing, the trio finally made it to the flat top of the mountain. Crono brushed the snow from his hair and body. He flailed his limbs about to increase circulation. His hands were almost numb.

Frog leapt up over the edge and stood on the flat top. He shook his cape, clearing the snow from his body. He turned around and looked down into the fog. "Where hath Marle gone?"

A frozen, shivering figure slowly climbed into view. Her hair was covered in snow, and her limbs were almost blue. She placed a shivering hand on the smooth top of the mountain and pulled herself up and over the edge.

"I'm freezing!" she exclaimed, her teeth chattering.

Crono turned and looked at the flat plain. No snow touched the top, leaving a fresh covering of frozen dirt and gravel. An eerie calm filled the sky. Darkness reigned, but the sky was devoid of stars or a moon.

"We must be above the clouds," said Frog.

Marle brushed the snow out of her hair and desperately tried to warm herself up. "If only we had Lucca with us," she muttered. The princess finally pulled her vision away from the sheer cliff and surveyed the mountain top.

A lone, crystal-like object stood in the center of the mountaintop. Crono wandered over to it and surveyed it. Frog walked to his side and looked it over. "It resembles the crystal that encased Ozzie," he said. "Perhaps it contains the Guru of Wisdom?"

Marle, still shivering, joined her companions. "How are we going to bust it open?" she asked.

"Perhaps my Masamune shall be able to split through this barrier," said Frog. He withdrew the legendary sword and leveled it at the crystal. He raised it and brought it down upon the barrier. With a loud clang, it vibrated, leaving no sign of any damage.

A rumbled filled the air, and a bolt of lightning arced through the sky. The mountain began to rumble. "What's going on?" asked Marle.

The crystal disappeared. Several cracks split through the ground, sucking down the dirt and gravel. Crono, Frog, and Marle ran to the edge of the plain and readied their weapons.

The top of the mountain split open, throwing dirt and debris into the air. A bright light shined from deep within. The rumbling continued, and with a hiss of steam, a gigantic beast emerged from the crack.

It stood twenty feet tall. Its shoulders were broad and massive. Its head was small, with two dotted eyes and a metal jaw that opened and closed like a robot's. Its fists were enormous, suggesting a large amount of pummeling power. Its chest was plated with a thick, purple armor. All across its body were large protruding spikes.

"Crono!" shouted Marle. "Let's get to work!"

Before the boy could even begin to charge at the mechanical beast, it opened its hands wide, revealing two tubes in its palms. A rumbling came from within its arms, and two gigantic blasts of fire erupted.

Crono ducked and motioned for the others to drop to the ground. They hit the dirt and felt the massive blasts of flame wash over them.

After the flame cannon had stopped, Crono looked up. The mechanical monster had its palms facing inward. Between its hands was a giant, bluish ball was forming. Beams of electricity radiated from it.

Marle looked up. Crono pushed her head back down into the dirt.

The blue ball expanded, encompassing most of the flat plain at the top of the mountain. Bits of gravel and dirt were instantly vaporized upon contact with the extreme energy of the guardian's plasma blaster.

Without enough energy to make it to the edge, the blast only expanded to within inches of where the trio took cover. It dissipated rapidly, revealing the scorched ground.

Crono stood up, convinced that the monster was currently recharging. Frog jumped to his feet, his Masamune in hand. Marle stood on her toes, ready to attack.

"Wait," said Frog.

"What?" asked Marle. Crono turned and looked at the amphibian.

"This beast is heavily armored," he said. "An attack with our swords and bows shall not damage it. We need to use our magic powers to stop it."

"Right!" said Marle. "I'll use my ice to freeze its hands shut!"

The princess raised her hands in the air and formed and ice ball between her palms. Concentrating, she split the ball into two separate halves. She held one in each palm, ready to hurl it at the beast's hands.

"Crono, hit him with your lightning when I freeze his blasters," she said. With a cry of rage, she swung the orbs through the air. Leaving trails of crystals behind, they crashed into the open palms of the guardian. With a loud cracking, they formed a thick coating.

"Now!" said Marle.

The boy held his hands in the air and felt a tingling in his fingertips. Lightning erupted from the clouds and struck the mechanical beast in the head.

Its jaw flapped open wildly, then finally settled down. Its eyes refocused and looked at the three warriors.

"Again!" said Frog.

Crono sent another blast of lightning into the monster's cranium. It absorbed the blast, shaking off the volts of electricity.

"It's not working!" said Marle.

A warm heat began to encircle the beast's fists. The blocks of ice that sealed the palm cannons shut melted quickly. Another blast of flame shot out from the tubes in its hands, scorching the flat plain and coming straight for Crono, Frog, and Marle.

The amphibian raised his palms out, almost mimicking the mechanical guardian. He closed his eyes, concentrating. Two jet streams of water erupted from his open fists, beating back the intense flame that had come out of the guardian's hands.

Frog pushed the flame back with his water stream, eventually dousing the cannons in the creature's hands.

Marle stood there, stunned. "Frog!" she exclaimed. "You know water magic?"

Panting, he turned and looked at the princess. "When I stayed at the End of Time during your battle with Azala, I asked Spekkio to teach me water techniques," he replied.

Marle looked back at the guardian. It was cooking up another plasma blast to annihilate the trio. Sparks of electricity shot from the glowing orb between its palms.

"I have an idea," she said.

"What?" asked Frog.

"Frog, I want you to project a couple of gallons of water on that thing's fists," said the princess.

"What for?" he asked.

"Just do it!" she snapped back.

Frog nodded and turned to the beast. He opened his palms and readied himself for another water blast. He concentrated.

Nothing happened.

"Frog, where's the water?" asked Marle.

"There!" he exclaimed.

A thirty-foot wide orb of water appeared over the edge of the mountain, straight from the ocean. It floated through the air and rested over the guardian, who was still warming up for another plasma blast.

"Drop it!" said Marle.

Frog dropped his hands. The orb broke open, cascading like a waterfall down upon the guardian, enveloping its entire body with water.

Marle held her hands together and formed an ice orb between them. She felt an extreme blast of cold shoot out from between her palms. It sailed into the water which now completely surrounded the guardian. The water froze instantly, sealing the mechanical beast in a solid block of ice.

She turned around to Crono. "Now, use the strongest attack you have!" she ordered.

Crono nodded and dashed across the plain. He stood before the mechanized beast and stared at its icy prison. Deep within, he could see the fire blasters already beginning to melt through the thick barrier.

"Hurry before he melts through!" shouted the princess.

The boy closed his eyes and felt the air around him. It was cold and still. He stretched out even further with his mind, feeling the exact height, weight, and depth of the giant ice cube encasing the behemoth.

Marle watched Crono as he stood motionless with his eyes closed. A green aura surrounded him and began to glow. A number of green laser-like beams sprouted from his body. They swept over the guardian's icy barrier, seeming to comb its physical surface.

A clear outline of the block of ice stood out in his mind. He felt a deep energy surge within his body, like a renewed fighting spirit.

Without warning, the thick frozen barrier around the guardian shattered. His head poked out and surveyed the plain for signs of the three warriors.

"Crono! Attack him now!" shouted Frog.

Crono did not hear him. He was too deep in concentration. The energy that surged within him had collected into a unified force. He felt it surge around him. Now was the time to release it.

A thunderous explosion echoed across the plain. The gravel shook, and the other warriors struggled to maintain their footing. A glowing, green orb surrounded Crono. He opened his eyes and began to levitate. With another earth-shattering boom, the orb ballooned across the top of the mountain. It was made of pure, annihilating energy, rivaling the power of an atomic bomb. It instantly vaporized the ice barrier and the guardian in a single second. The blast swept the top of the mountain clear. It became like a mushroom cloud, engulfing the entire top of the mountain and eating up clouds like they were nothing.

The blast slowly began to disappear. Its green glow fizzled away, leaving a haze of energy about the top of the mountain. There were no remains of the guardian, or the ice barrier. The gravel and dirt that was on the plain had been vaporized, leaving a clean layer of rock.

Frog poked his head up from the ground. He saw Crono standing still, looking down at the crack where the mechanical beast had emerged.

Marle climbed up from over the edge of the cliff, surveyed what damage had been done. Crono turned around and looked at her. "What on earth was that?" she asked.

"A blast of pure energy," said Frog. "A luminaire spell."

"Amazing," said Marle. "I never thought such a powerful attack could exist. That's even more powerful than Magus's dark matter spell!"

Crono began to breathe hard. The massive release of power had consumed his strength. He knelt down, gasping for air.

"You did a fine job, lad," said Frog.

A rumbling crossed the mountain. The crack in front of the trio closed up, sealing the grave of the guardian. When it had closed, the crystal that originally appeared when they had arrived came back. It began to glow.

"The Guru," said Marle.

The crystal disappeared, revealing a familiar figure. He was in his mid-seventies and had a long, white beard. He wore a black coat and a black hat.

"Melchior?" asked Marle. How could the old man who repaired their Masamune be living and breathing in the year 12,000 B.C.?

The old man looked up. "Indeed, I am Melchior," he said. "Have we... met before?"


"More importantly, what can you tell me of the Ocean Palace?" he asked.

"It is nearly completed," said Marle.

"Ah," said Melchior. "Queen Zeal is intent on absorbing all the power she can from the almighty Lavos. The more energy the Mammon Machine absorbs, the further she degenerates. Her spirit has been stolen by that vile creature."

Crono nodded.

The ground began to shake again. The crack that contained the mechanical guardian slowly began to open.

"We must flee!" said Melchior. "The Mountain of Woe will collapse soon since I have been released!"

The four people turned and ran down the mountain trail as fast as they could, heading for the cave that led to the chain.

Deep underground, the Earthbounds went about their daily chores. The women and children watched the huts while the men looked through the cold for food.

The elder of the village sat in hit hut, smoking his pipe and savoring the flavor. The smoke rose slowly, entering his nostrils and enriching his mind. He sat back and rested against the straw wall, readying himself for an evening nap.

A man rushed into the hut, his breath short. The elder opened his eyes and looked at him. "What is the trouble, my son?"

"The Mountain of Woe is about to fall!" he exclaimed.

"What?" asked the old man.

"Hurry!" said the other. He ran out of the hut, motioning for the elder to follow.

They ran through the village, dodging the people at work. They ran down the tunnel that led to the anchor of the mountain. When they arrived, they saw four figures sliding down the links as fast as they could.

Crono jumped off first, followed by Melchior, then Frog, and finally Marle.

"Quickly!" said Frog. "The mountain is about to fall!"

The group of people ran through the tunnel to the village, leaving the anchor room behind.

High above the sea, the Mountain of Woe tossed and turned in the wind. Rocks of all sizes tumbled off the slopes and into the icy sea. Cracks split down the mountainside, revealing the deep interior.

The chains that connected at the tunnel broke loose. A gust of wind picked up the mountain and slowly blew it away from the underground Earthbound Village. It slowly descended, faster and faster. It broke apart at the sides, dropping huge pieces into the ocean.

All that remained of the mighty Mountain of Woe, prison of Zeal, tumbled into the sea with one gigantic splash. The peak sunk beyond sight and eventually fell to the bottom of the ocean.

In the center of the Earthbound Village was the elder's straw hut. Several of the chief leaders of the people were gathered inside, along with the elder himself and Melchior, Crono, Marle, and Frog. A small fire was lit in the center.

"Lavos sleeps deep underground," said Melchior. "He consumes the energy of almost every living creature on this planet. His energy grows stronger every day. With the Mammon Machine, the power he absorbs can be multiplied beyond belief. If Queen Zeal brings it closer to him, he will awaken, and the world will be doomed."

A man walked into the hut, interrupting the old man's speech. "Yes?" asked the elder, who was sitting on the ground, playing with his cane.

"Elder, Schala is here," he said.

"Schala?" said several people around the room.

The beautiful girl with long, flowing bluish hair entered the room, cloaked in a beautiful light purple robe. Her face bore the expression of fear and dread.

Tagging along was her younger brother, Janus. His blue hair matched his purple robe and shoes. He looked around the room and saw all the Earthbound people who bowed before the two Enlightened Ones.

"Miss Schala," said the elder, coming forth humbly, "why have you come to such a godforsaken place."

"What a filthy hovel..." mumbled Janus.

Schala shook her head. "Stop degenerating yourselves!" she said. "We Enlightened Ones are the same as you. The only difference is that we are under Lavos's control."

The elder shook his head. Melchior walked forward. "Miss Schala, it is good to see you again," said the old man.

"Melchior," said the daughter of Zeal, embracing him. "After the Mountain of Woe fell, we thought we would find you here."

"Is it safe for you to leave the Palace of Zeal?" he asked.

Schala took a step back. "That no longer matters," she replied. "I bring you unfortunate news. The workers have moved the Mammon Machine to the Ocean Palace. It is now operational."

Melchior lowered his head. "All is lost..."

"But without me," said Schala, "the Mammon Machine won't work. I am the only one who knows how to turn it on or off with my magic powers. I have turned my back on that evil device!" She turned to the door of the hut. "I've re-opened the teleport pyramid to Enhasa. We must go now and stop... my mother."

"Why don't we keep it right here?" said a voice.

Everyone in the hut turned and looked at the doorway. A man with long hair and a patch over his eye walked in. His orange cloak draped to his feet, swaying with the air.

"Dalton!" said Schala.

The general shook his head. "Tisk, tisk, tisk my dear," said Dalton. "Your presence is required at the Ocean Palace. Queen Zeal is waiting for you to turn on the Mammon Machine."

Melchior stepped in front of Schala and came nose to nose with the one-eyed general. "Leave her alone, scum," said the old man.

Dalton spit in his face. "You wretched old fogey," he said. "You should have stayed where Zeal put you."

Melchior wiped the spittle off his face and challenged the general, pressing closer.

"You want to fight old man?"

"I can take you," said Melchior.

Dalton pulled his hand out of his cloak and waved it. A fireball shot out, sending the old man into a pile of hay. Villagers scrambled to douse the flames.

The general laughed and turned to Schala. "Now, it's off to the Palace!" he said.

Crono reached for his sword. He slowly pulled it out from its sheath.

"Do anything and the girl is dust," said Dalton.

Crono dropped the saber.

"Schala!" said Janus, rushing over to her side.

Dalton turned to the boy. "The Queen's children have a problem with authority, don't they?" He turned to the brother and her sister. "Your mother awaits. Let's be off!" With a wave of his hand, the room lit up with a bright flash.

The occupants of the hut were momentarily blinded. Dalton pulled Schala and Janus out of the Earthbound Village and towards the teleport pyramid.

Frog blinked his eyes and withdrew the Masamune. "We won't let that wretched scum get away with this."

Marle turned around and saw Melchior laying in the pile of hay. She walked over and picked him up. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm alright," he said, brushing the bits of charred clothing off of him. He shook his head, looking out of the door of the hut. "We must save Schala, or else..."

"Impossible," said the elder. "Even though it's coming from you, Melchior."

"If the Queen is allowed to fulfill her plan, the world will be ruined," said the old man. "But we have no one who would dare challenge the power of Zeal."

Someone tapped Melchior's shoulder. He turned around.

Crono stood there, shaking his head.

"You're willing to challenge Queen Zeal?" he asked. "To risk life and limb against the most powerful sorceress in the world?"

Crono nodded.

"You've done so much for us," said Melchior. "I don't even know your name!"

Marle giggled. "You will."

"What are you talking about?" asked the old man.

"Crono, let us depart for Zeal Palace," said Frog. "There is bound to be a link to the Ocean Palace there."

"Wait," said Melchior.

"What is it?" asked Marle.

"The Queen is far too powerful to face alone," said the old man. "If the Mammon Machine were to be destroyed, the spell would eventually be broken."

"But how can we destroy the machine?" asked Frog.

"Here," said Melchior. He handed Crono a red knife. "This blade is made of the same rock as the Mammon Machine. It should be able to cut right through it."

Crono took the blade and placed it in his satchel.

"When you get to Zeal palace, you will find a Nu standing in the botanical gardens. Ask him about the Lode Armor. He is supposed to have three sets. They will help protect you in your battles. Good luck. I will be praying for your victory."

"Onward!" said Frog.

The trio left the hut, heading out of the cave for the teleport pyramid.

XIV: Lavos Beckons

Clouds of darkness swirled around the Palace of Zeal. Thunder rumbled through the skies like an omen of doom. Lightning crackled through the sky like the fingers of death. The wind picked up, blowing against the mighty walls of the palace.

In the heart of the palace, in the Queen's throne room, sat Dalton on her chair. He tapped impatiently on the armrests. His fists curled and uncurled, suggesting he was quite angry. He shifted again and again, trying to get comfortable.

"Damn it," he said. "Why does the Prophet get to accompany the Queen to the activation of the Mammon Machine while I'm stuck on guard duty? I know he'll mess up sooner or later."

The door to the throne room opened. Three shadows darted through the doorway. They scattered themselves throughout the plants around the room, hiding.

"W-who's there?" asked the nervous general. He got off the throne and tiptoed around the carpet, looking for the unseen intruders. "I am skilled in the... um... deadly arts..."

Dalton felt a sudden pressure at his waist. He gasped for air and tried to fight off the attacker behind him. Before he could react, the sharp side of a sword was across his neck, ready to cut through his jugular vein at the drop of a pin.

Crono now had the upper hand. Instead of his ratty blue tunic, he had a well-polished metal armor over his chest.

Frog and Marle stepped out from behind the plants. The amphibian wore his green cape, but instead of his ordinary grey pants and bronze chest plate, he had a brilliantly polished metal jacket. Marle had on a vest of the same metal.

"Thou art cornered, Dalton," said the amphibian, his Masamune in hand.

"What do you want? Who gave you the Lode Armor?" asked the general nervously.

"Open the gateway to the Ocean Palace," said Marle.

"I can't!" said the general. "Queen Zeal would kill me!"

He felt the tip of the blade across his neck come closer.

"Do it or Crono here will slice you open!"


"This is the last chance," said Frog.

"We can hurt you way worse than Queen Zeal could," said Marle. She formed an ice ball in her hand.

"Okay!" said Dalton. "I'll open it!"

"Now!" said Marle.

Crono removed the blade from across the general's neck and gave him a swift kick. Dalton stumbled forward to the center of the room where a shaft of light emanated from the ceiling. He removed a crystal from his hand and placed it inside the shaft of light.

It glowed green with energy and caused a light breeze to blow through the room. "This will take you to the Ocean Palace," said Dalton. "Can you please let me go now?"

"Not so fast," said Marle, gently tossing the ice ball from hand to hand. "We don't really trust you, especially after what you did to Schala. So we think it's best if you stayed here."

"No!" said Dalton.

Marle tossed the cold orb at it. It struck him in the chest and spread over his entire body, freezing him solid.

"That takes care of him," said Frog.

Crono stepped into the beam and disappeared. Frog followed, and Marle went in last.

The transport beam shot down from the floating island of Zeal. It sliced through the thick layer of clouds. It dove through the sky and sunk beneath the icy ocean.

Far beneath the surface of the water was a black, mountain-like projection that stuck out of the ocean floor like a blemish. It towered over a mile high, and glowed with a purple radiance. It was completely solid and smooth, save for the flat top. The Ocean Palace was a man-made marvel.

The beam from Zeal Palace traveled through the dark depths until it reached a receptor sticking out of the top of the palace. It picked up the signal and transferred it to a depth in the very heart of the gigantic underwater castle.

A green light surrounded Crono. He stuck his hands out in front of him and they disappeared. He took a step forward and looked at his surroundings.

He had just stepped out of a green pillar of light. He was standing on a small island surrounded by flows of molten metal. The walls, ceiling, and floor were made of a smoothly polished black metal. Ornate statues of demons straight out of hell were on the corners of the island. Everything had an orange glow to it. A bridge extended from the island to a doorway.

Frog stepped out of the pillar and gasped. "What a sight Zeal hath wrought," he said.

Marle stepped out next. "This is amazing," she said.

"Hey!" said a voice.

The three warriors turned and looked across the bridge. In front of the doorway stood a familiar olive-green creature with pointy ears and a white garment.

Now I remember who he is... thought Crono.

They walked across the bridge to meet the creature. It stood there, floating calmly.

"Who art thou?" asked Frog.

"The black energy grows," said the creature. "Something big is about to wake up."

Deep inside the palace, at the bottom floor, a lake of lava filled a circular room. In the center of the lake was a circular island. A single walkway led from the massive door to the island. The mighty Mammon Machine stood tall in its center, glowing with red energy.

Queen Zeal, Schala, the Prophet, and several scholars stood watching the statue, absorbing the raw power.

"Schala," said Zeal, "raise the power of the Mammon Machine to its limit."

Schala bowed her head in silence. She feared having to adjust the power of the demonic device.

"You dare disobey me?" asked the Queen.

"All right, mother..."

Schala raised her hands in the air and chanted. The Mammon Machine glowed even brighter. Waves of red energy surged from its metallic finish. The room grew even hotter.

"Ah," said the Queen, throwing her head back. She felt the waves of heat wash over her, seeping into her pores. The raw power felt like a potent drug. "The power of Lavos."

Schala fell to her knees. She gasped for air.

The Prophet watched her intently. He wanted to say something, but somehow held back. No... he thought. This isn't the right time...

The creature in front of the trio disappeared.

"I know I've seen him before..." said Marle.

Crono pressed on. He walked through the doorway and marveled at yet another amazing sight. The room they were now in was huge. Its ceiling seemed to stretch on to infinity. Four holes in the floor gave a view down into the very depths of the Palace. Two glowing orbs were on either side of the floor.

Incredible... thought Crono.

Four figures descended from above. They landed with a thud on the floor and gave out battle cries. Each of them had on yellow coats and small hats. They carried nun-chucks, swords, throwing stars, and staffs.

Crono, Marle, and Frog readied their weapons.

One of the ninja warriors struck first, bringing his nun-chucks down on Crono. Like a flash, the boy dodged the attack and rolled back onto his feet. He held his sword at the ready.

The ninja gave out a cry and swung his weapon around to invoke fear. Crono ran forth and swung his saber, cutting the weapon in half. The warrior stood there, stunned. The boy wasted no time in stabbing the warrior in the chest, killing him.

Another warrior gave a battle cry and charged at Marle. He threw several stars at her, aiming for her chest. She stood there without flinching. The stars deflected off of her Lode Armor and fell to the floor. The ninja was stunned.

Marle brought up her bow and expended a single shot. It pierced the warrior's chest, drawing blood and knocking him to the ground.

A warrior with a staff ran towards Frog, twirling it in the air. He brought it down on the amphibian, aiming for his head. He dodged it and chopped through the staff with his Masamune. The ninja looked at his broken staff, then at the amphibian.

Frog stabbed the warrior through his yellow coat and into his stomach. He fell over, convulsing on the floor.

One warrior remaining, carrying a sword. Crono motioned for him to come forward with his saber. He wanted a duel.

The warrior spun through the air with his sword, bringing it towards Crono. The boy blocked it and swung at the ninja. The warrior somersaulted backwards and held up his sword.

Crono charged forward, slashing with his saber. The ninja blocked again and again, returning blow after blow. They danced in circles for several minutes. They ended up next to one of the large holes in the floor.

The ninja was backed against the hole. He took one good slash at Crono. The boy somersaulted over him, grabbed his waist, and back-flipped him into the abyss. The warrior screamed on the way down into the depths.

"Where next?" asked Marle, panting.

Frog walked over and sat down on one of the orbs at the edge of the floor. There was a loud clicking sound. The door through which they came seemed to raise.

"Wait, this must be an elevator!" said Marle. "Frog must've triggered it by sitting on that orb!"

The elevator picked up speed and rushed downward into the abyss. A thin whispering echoed throughout the air. Crono readied his sword again.

Three creatures appeared in the middle of the floor. They looked like dragonflies, and were about a foot long each. They had small three-fingered hands and one eye. One was yellow, one was blue, and one was red.

"I got the yellow one," said Marle. She formed and ice ball in her palm and hurled it towards the beast. It formed a block around it, dropping it to the floor.

The creature broke out of the ice barrier. It growled, then released a large amount of electric energy that filled the elevator shaft. The Lode Armor blocked most of the voltage, but the trio could still feel some of it.

"Wait," said Frog. "Crono, shock the yellow beast with lightning!"

Crono nodded. He raised his hands in the air and concentrated. A blast of lightning arced through the air and shocked the yellow creature. It exploded upon contact.

"Tis similar to fighting Magus," said Frog. "Use the appropriate power on the appropriate beast!"

Marle hurled and ice ball at the blue creature. Sure enough, the cold encircled the beast and froze it. It disappeared.

"What about the red one?" asked the princess.

Frog withdrew his Masamune and hacked the red dragonfly in half. He put it back in his sheath and faced the other two warriors.

"We shall soon be at the Queen's floor," he said. "Let us prepare ourselves for battle."

A few minutes later, the elevator grinded to a halt. A door in the wall opened, revealing another familiar figure. It was another olive-green creature with white robes.

Crono stared it down.

"The ancient red rock has been passed down through the ages," said the creature. "From it, a magic pendant and a knife were made. We embody Melchior's dreams, sealed within the knife. If you wish to face the Queen, you must hurry. We're counting on you!"

The creature vanished.

Not far from the elevator, the Mammon Machine glowed bright red with the energy of Lavos. Its waves of pure energy radiated outwards, consuming the mind, body, and soul of Queen Zeal. They went deep within her brain, tempting her with power.

"Ah, I can feel it," she said. She closed her eyes and threw her head back. "The pulse of eternal life."

Schala shuddered. The waves of heat and energy penetrated her, weakening her strong soul. She could not bear this evil. "Dark forces... wild energy..."

She collapsed.

The Prophet held himself back. He wanted so much to intervene. Not now. My revenge is not complete...

"Your majesty!" said a scholar standing nearby. "The Mammon Machine is too powerful! We'll be killed!"

Zeal opened her eyes, revealing a deep, blood-stained red. Her pupils were gone. Her soul had been completely consumed. With a powerful rage, she opened her hand. The scholar was tossed off of the platform and into the lava.

"Mother..." groaned Schala.

"Stay with me Schala," said Zeal. "We are close to what we have waited so long for. Immortal life. I can feel Lavos within me." She laughed.

A black sphere appeared in the Prophet's hand.

Crono, Frog, and Marle walked out of the elevator and onto a platform before a lava-filled room. Across the pool of molten rock was another platform, behind which was a door.

"We must be close to the Mammon Machine now," said Marle.

"Indeed you are," said a voice.

Out of the dark doorway, a figure appeared. He had a patch over his eye, and long, flowing hair. An orange cape draped about his ankles.

"Dalton!" shouted Frog.

"You've made it this far," said the general. "Maybe I've underestimated you. But this is the end. You cannot defeat my Golem!"

He waved a hand over the lake of lava. With a whoosh, a golden creature appeared from inside the door. It had a large, gaping mouth with sharp fangs. A cone stuck out on its head. It hovered past Dalton and flew over the lava.

"Not again," said Marle.

"Goodbye, pesky kids," said the general. He turned and walked back through the door.

"Let us beat this horrible creature," said Frog. He raised his hands in the air. An orb of water appeared in his palms.

"No!" said the princess.

Frog shot out the blast of water. It sailed over the lava and struck the creature. The Golem laughed and curled up into a bowling ball.

"It copies whatever kind of magic you use!" said Marle.

"Uh oh," said the amphibian.

The monster uncurled. It opened its mouth and blasted out a torrent of water. It flooded the platform the trio was standing on, almost knocking them into the lava pool.

Crono stood up, trying not to slip on the wet, slippery stone floor. Marle shouldered her bow, and Frog dropped his hands.

"We're too far away to use any weapons," said Frog.

"My bow can't pierce its armor," said Marle. "Crono, why don't you try that luminaire spell?"

Crono shook his head.

"Why not?"

"We're too far from the Golem," said Frog. "There's nary time to concentrate, either."

The Golem opened its mouth again. Instead of water, it released a heavy steel cannonball. The trio ducked. The ball sailed over their heads and crashed into the wall behind them.

"We've gotta knock it out! Now!"

"What if we were to push it into the lava?" asked Frog.


"If I could form a large amount of water over the monster, you could freeze it. It would then fall and push the demon into the molten lake!"

Marle nodded. She formed an ice orb in her hands.

Frog stood motionless and raised his arms. A swirling mass appeared above the Golem's head. It curled into a bowling ball, readying for another shot.

The mass above the Golem's head turned into a floating blob of water. Sweat ran down Frog's face as he struggled to maintain its levitation.

"A few more seconds..." said the amphibian.

The monster uncurled. Several energy orbs appeared above its head. They sailed into its hands, ready to be hurled.

"Now!" said Frog. The ball of water was large enough.

Marle hurled the ice orb. It streaked through the air, leaving bits of ice behind. It struck the ball of water, forming a gigantic glacier. It sunk immediately and struck the Golem.

Unable to hold up under the pressure of the immense glacier, the golden monster was pushed into the lava. It roared as the intense heat slowly melted its gold skin. The ice was instantly vaporized in a cloud of steam.

Frog breathed a sigh of relief.

Dalton appeared in the doorway across the lake. "How dare you defeat my Golem," he said. "This calls for the Golem Boss!"

A rumbling came from somewhere in the palace. A red haze filled the room. The general took in the mist, feeling energized.

"Could this energy be... Lavos?" he asked himself

The palace shook.

"I've got a bad feeling about this. All my work could be in vain if I die before I'm immortal. I guess I should be leaving then. Goodbye, kiddies!"

Dalton waved his hand and disappeared.

"Good riddance," said Frog.

Marle waved her hands over the lava pool. The room grew cold, and the red glow on the walls changed to blue. The lava became hard and turned to rock. A solid path was now available to cross from the trio's platform to the platform where Dalton had just stood.

"Let's go!" shouted Marle.

Crono withdrew his sword and led the way across the rocky bridge. They crossed to the other platform and walked through the door.

The hall of the Mammon Machine was enormous. A single catwalk stretched out before the trio, leading to a circular island in the middle of a lava lake. Three figures stood in front of the glowing Mammon Machine, absorbing its energy.

"This is it," said Frog.

Crono walked across the catwalk, his sword at the ready. Marle followed, her bow at the ready. Frog's Masamune was at his side.

They walked to the island without being noticed. The three figures could now be identified as Queen Zeal, Schala, and the Prophet.

"We made it just in time," said Marle.

Queen Zeal turned. Her eyes were red with hatred. "What are you doing here?"

The Prophet recognized the trio and gasped. No... How could they possibly get here?

"We shan't allow thee to meddle with Lavos, Zeal!" said Frog.

Schala whirled around. She recognized the three warriors. "You're..."

The palace shook. The Mammon Machine glowed bright red, emitting more energy than ever before. It was almost translucent. The heat it gave off was even more than from the lava.

"Help!" said Schala as she collapsed.

"Schala!" yelled the Prophet.

"What are you doing?" asked Queen. "I need your help before this thing explodes!"

"There's no time!" said Marle.

"Crono," said Frog.

The boy turned to the amphibian.

"Use the old man's knife to stop the machine!" Crono nodded and withdrew the red knife from his satchel. He readied himself to make a mad dash at the machine. Instead the knife simply floated above him, glowing red.

"Here we go, Mune!" said a voice from somewhere beyond.

"Ready, big bro!" said another.

The knife arced through the air and stuck into the Mammon Machine. A blast of light erupted from deep within the demonic device. The room shook harder.

The knife glowed and enlarged. A handle formed at the end of it. It seemed very familiar. Frog looked down at his own sword, then back at the sword stuck in the machine. "The Masamune?"

The Mammon Machine rumbled.

"What's happening?" asked the Queen.

The Prophet stood still. It's coming. It's almost time...

"No!" said Schala, coughing. "The sword enough isn't enough to stop it!"

An inhuman roar filled the room. Crono recognized it. It was the same roar they had heard when the time gate had opened at Magus's Castle.

It was the roar of Lavos.

The entire room flashed white. Crono, Frog, and Marle felt themselves being transported to somewhere.

The whiteness lifted from Crono's eyes. He looked around. There was nothing but a blue blur. Time and space itself was distorted. Somehow he was able to stand. The wind blew with an intense rage.

"Good God," said Marle.

The boy turned and face the princess. Her face was melted with fear. Her eyes were bugged, and her jaw was open. She did not have the strength to reach for her bow.

"What is this?" asked Frog.

Crono turned all the way around. His jaw fell. He was paralyzed with the most intense fear known to man.

In front of him was the most terrifying monster he had ever seen. It made the other beasts he had slain look like petty cream puffs. He remembered this beast's image long ago, when he had visited the Arris Shelter. He remembered seeing the video image of this beast breaking through the earth's crust. He remembered seeing it fall from far above and annihilating Tyranno Lair. Nothing now could shake him of the fear he was now experiencing.

It must have been a mile wide. It was several stories tall. It was loaded with sharp, demented spikes. They stuck from its back like unkempt hairs. It had no appendages, no legs. A single, shut eye was at its front, covered by three flaps of brown skin. The eye itself was as tall as Crono.

The eye opened, and stared down the trio.

"This... is... Lavos!" said Marle.

"We hath come face to face with the real creature," said Frog.

The three flaps of skin over the eye unfolded. A single, clear orb appeared at its center.

"No..." said Marle.

Too afraid to move a muscle, the three warriors could do nothing.

Lavos's roar was even more terrifying up close. The beast's call nearly knocked the trio over. It cast a powerful wind over them.

Crono stood there, still paralyzed.

The creature shuddered. Several blasts of fire erupted from its back. They curved into the air and began to rain back down.

"It can't be!" said Frog.

The rain of fire crashed around them. The ground shook hard, knocking them all to their feet. The intense heat and blasts knocked them unconscious.

Crono struggled to fight it off, but could not.

Lavos roared again in victory.

The three warriors lay amongst the burnt out fireballs, defeated by the unbelievable power of the immortal creature.

The blue space around Lavos was still shifting. Crono, Marle, and Frog lay unconscious in front of the sleeping beast.

A figure appeared behind the three lifeless bodies. At first it was shapeless. Finally, when it had fully teleported in, its shape was revealed.

The Prophet's figure was fully outlined. His purple cloak hung about his shoulders and over his head, keeping his identity hidden. He looked at the sleeping Lavos, then stepped over the unconscious bodies.

"I've waited for this for too long," said the Prophet. He turned his head at an angle. "Do you hear that, Lavos? It's the sound of the Reaper calling..."

The Prophet flung his cloak off.

His long blue hair hung down to his shoulders. His purple cape hung to his ankles. His scythe was at his back. Brown gloves covered his hands.

"I swore long ago, that I, Magus, would destroy you. I have waited for nearly half of a century for the opportunity to get back at you. No matter what price. Now I have you sleeping. I can pick you off. Feel my wrath..." Three black orbs appeared in his hands.

"What do you think you can do?" said a voice.

Magus looked up. Queen Zeal had teleported into the strange blur of the time-space continuum. She stood on top of Lavos's shell, looking down at him.

"A false prophet," said Zeal. "You'll make a nice snack for the almighty ruler of the universe."

Magus tightened his gloves. I can't destroy her too...

"Mother!" said another voice.

The Queen looked up. Behind the inanimate bodies of the three warriors stood Schala. She breathed shallowly because of the immense energy she had absorbed from the Mammon Machine. Her hair was a mess, and her robe was wrinkled.

"You must stop this!" said the daughter of Zeal. "This power can only end in ruin!"

No... thought Magus. Get away from here before it is too late!

"Get away from here, Schala!" roared the Queen. "The almighty life force of Lavos lives in all of us. You are a part of it too. You cannot escape your destiny. Oppose me, and I will destroy you along with this false prophet!"

"No! Mother, you can't destroy him! He's..."

The Queen raised her hand. Schala felt herself being held back by an invisible force. She was pushed to the ground by an invisible weight, unable to move.

"Schala!" said Magus.

"Help..." said the daughter of Zeal feebly.

Magus rushed to her side. He stroked her hair, longing for her pain to be over. He could sense the hurt she was experiencing. He stood up and turned to Zeal. "You! I do not care for you any more! You cannot just order people like that! I shall destroy you along with this horrid beast!"

"Hah!" said the Queen. "You will suffer the same fate as my daughter!" She raised her hand again. Magus felt an invisible force holding him back, preventing him from moving. He tried to budge, but could not.

He closed his eyes and concentrated. A powerful wind filled the area. Magus raised his arm, and found he was able to move.

"You don't understand," said Magus. "I survived the darkness of many years to get back at Lavos. Now watch as I single-handedly take care of it."

He formed three black orbs in the palm of his hand and tossed them into the air. They began to circle around Lavos. They moved faster and faster. Three lines connected the orbs, forming a triangle. A black essence filled the figure, covering the gigantic beast in darkness.

"Now it is time for you to meet your maker!" said Magus. He dropped his hand. A terrifying ripping noise filled the air, as if Lavos was split in two.

The creature awakened. Its shell was barely scratched.

"No!" said Magus. "That was my strongest attack! It can't possibly fail!"

The Queen laughed. "Foolish one," she said. "Your measly power can't possibly touch Lavos. He shall now consume you!"

She stretched her hand out over Magus, Schala, and the three warriors. Lavos roared. A tremendous explosion shook the area.

Crono's body was thrown back several feet away from where he laid. He got up and looked at the situation in front of him. Magus was now on the ground, unconscious.

A powerful force began to draw in everyone that was on the ground. Marle, Frog's, and Schala's body were being sucked across the floor towards the giant beast. Crono was the only one that was out of range of the suction power.

Frog awakened. He looked at Magus's lifeless form as it was being dragged towards the beast. "No!" said Frog. "Magus, thou art mine to slay!"

Marle looked up. "Wh-what's going on?" She saw Crono standing far away, apparently unaffected by Lavos's suction. "Crono! Can you help us?"

"Schala..." mumbled Magus.

Crono looked at Schala's, Magus's, Marle's, and Frog's battered bodies being draw in towards Lavos, slowly but surely. The Queen stood on top of the shell, laughing. Wind whipped about her hair, and her eyes were red as blood.

Crono knew then and there what he had to do. He had to distract Lavos long enough that the suction would be turned off and the others could escape. He had no choice but face the gigantic beast on his own. He would confront Lavos, battered, bruised, and broken.

The boy cleared as his mind as he walked across the sliding bodies. He stood in front of Lavos's open eye, staring it down. He raised his arms in the air, feeling a green energy surge through his weakened body.

"Foolish mortal," said the Queen. "What do you hope to do against the immortal Lavos with your pathetic spells?"

The suction was turned off. Marle blinked and climbed to her feet. She saw Crono standing three feet away from the creature's eye. "Crono! No, stop!"

Frog hopped to his feet. "No, don't do it, lad!"

Magus looked up. "He's distracted the beast!"

Schala hobbled to stand upright. "Crono..."

Crono realized there was no time to cast a luminaire spell. But he had distracted Lavos long enough that the suction was turned off. Schala could now teleport them away.

"You may have distracted Lavos from your friends," said Zeal, "but you won't live!"

A wide beam erupted from Lavos's eye. Crono stared it down as he felt it wash over his body. He felt himself being torn apart. He maintained footing as the creature increased its power. He felt the armor melt from his chest. Just a few more... seconds...

"Crono!" screamed Marle.

With one last pulse from Lavos's energy beam, Crono was disintegrated.

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" said the princess.

Schala held out her pendant and chanted. With a flash, the blue blur around them, the Queen, and Lavos's horrible image vanished.

Marle, Frog, Schala, and Magus found themselves lying in front of the Mammon Machine. The lake of lava around them was bubbling over, and stones were falling from the ceiling. The Ocean Palace was falling apart.

Magus stood up and looked at the Mammon Machine. "My entire life I spent preparing," said the warlock. "And now I have failed to destroy him. I can't beat him..."

Suddenly he turned to see Schala. "Wait, there's still time to get out of here!"

"The palace trembles," said Frog. "We must escape."

"The last of my pendant's power will send you to safety," said the daughter of Zeal. "I am sorry I cannot come with you."

"No, Schala!" said Magus. "Wait!"

"I know you can't forgive her..." said the daughter of Zeal. "Please don't hate our mother. Or our kingdom. I'm sorry..."

She held her pendant in the air and chanted.

"Schala!" screamed Magus.

Frog, Marle, and Magus disappeared.

Schala fell to her knees, unable to withstand the mighty power of Lavos. She began to weep bitterly. "Crono..."

The earth shook with unmatched force. The skies grew dark and thunderous. The land rumbled, splitting open. Mountains fell into the sea, and the ice around the world melted. Earthbound Villages were flattened in seconds.

In the middle of the ocean, a crack opened in the crust. Lavos slowly emerged from the depths, bringing molten rock along with him.

Beams of energy and heat shot up through the water from his back. They broke the surface and went into the sky. They sliced through the clouds, vaporizing the air around them.

The beams cut through the islands of Zeal. The city of Enhasa was melted in an instant. Chunks of rock fell through the clouds, splashing down in the sea. Hundreds of people screamed for their lives, not knowing where to go.

A blast of energy struck the island that Zeal Palace was on. Instantly it began to tumble downwards to the ocean. People inside of the palace struggled to maintain footing as everything slid against the wall. The botanical gardens fell to pieces. The statues crumbled. People were turned upside down and around as gravity pulled the island downwards.

With a tremendous impact, the islands hit the water. They sunk beneath the sea, never to be seen again. Several tidal waves rose high in the air. They traveled to the snowy shores, altering the shape of the lands forever.

Finally, Lavos's rage settled. The world hung heavy with smoke and death. The Kingdom of Zeal was gone.

XV: The Truth At Last

"Crono! No!"

Marle's voice was alarmed and terrified.

"Crono! Crono!"

"No, Crono!" shouted Frog.

Marle opened her eyes. She realized she had been violently thrashing. She sat up and looked at her surroundings. She was sitting on a straw mat inside of a hut. A warm fire was built in the corner of the room.

"Frog, wake up!" said the princess.

The amphibian stopped his thrashing and opened his eyes. He sat up and looked at his surroundings. "Where are we?" he asked.

"So, you're awake," said a voice.

They turned to the doorway. An old man stood there with a cane, looking at them. He had a long white beard.

"You were delirious," he said.

"Crono!" shouted Marle. "Where's Crono?"

"We found no one else," said the old man.

Marle bowed her head. Tears rolled down her cheek. "It wasn't a dream..."

"The boy hath passed on, slain by Lavos," said Frog. He looked around the hut. "Be this the Earthbound Village?"

"No," said the old man. "This is an island. It was the only refuge left after the Ocean Palace disaster."

"This is depressing," said Marle. "No era is safe. There isn't much of a future to look forward to, either."

"Whither hath old Melchior gone?" asked Frog.

The old man scratched his beard. "When the Ocean Palace disaster struck, several black portals materialized. Melchior tried to save Janus, the Queen's son. They were both dragged in to separate voids."

"A 'black portal?'" asked Marle. She thought for a second. "A gate!"

"What of Schala?" asked Frog.

"No one has seen her since," said the old man.

"What about Epoch?" asked Marle.

"Your ship is sturdy and safe," said the man. "It's almost as if it followed you here." He thought for a second, then reached into his pocket and pulled something out. "This must be yours." He handed it to Marle.

"It's my pendant," said Marle. "The one Crono was keeping for me."

"I found it lying on your shoulder," he said. "Almost as if it was guarding you."


"Take all the time you need to rest," he said. "I shall be waiting in the village meeting center."

The man left. Frog looked at Marle.

"I shall protect you from now on," he said.

"Thanks, Frog," she said, placing an arm around his shoulder.

Someone ran through the doorway. She bent down, panting hard. She had on a green helmet over her purple hair, and carried a sack full of all sorts of tools. She adjusted her glasses and looked up.

"Lucca!" shouted Marle.

"I... got here... as soon as... I heard that... Ocean Palace... destroyed..." she said, panting. "Used... gate key..."

"We hath missed you," said Frog.

Lucca looked around the room. "Where's Crono?"

Marle bowed her head. Tears began to roll down her cheeks again. "He's gone..."

"Gone?" shrieked the young scientist.

"We tried to stop Queen Zeal, and we wound up facing Lavos," said Frog. "The beast was pulling us in, ready to eat us. Crono got up and distracted him, but Lavos used some sort of energy beam and killed the boy."

"Crono..." said Lucca. "I can't believe he's dead. He was like a brother to me."

"I know," said Marle, still crying. "He sacrificed his life to save us. What a hero."

"Maybe we can use Epoch to bring him back!" said Frog.

"I'll have to look at it first," said Lucca. "Maybe I can program it so we can go back to the exact instant he was killed."

"Let's go to the town square and thank the elder for his hospitality," said Frog.

Marle nodded. They walked out of the hut.

The trio walked through the village, looking at all the people milling around. The snow had stopped falling. Only a small bit remained on the ground. Most of it had melted when Lavos broke through the crust and destroyed the Kingdom of Zeal.

Several of the people in the village were Earthbounds. They wore animal skins to protect themselves from the cold. Many of the people were Enlightened Ones that had somehow survived the fall from above.

"You think they could possibly coexist together?" asked Marle.

"Whom?" asked Frog.

"The Earthbounds and the Enlightened Ones?"

"Possibly," said Frog. "With no real kingdom in the sky, the Enlightened Ones are the same as the Earthbounds."

"What are you guys talking about?" asked Lucca.

"We'll fill you in later," said Marle. "Let's find Epoch."

They walked through the village a little further and finally spotted something in the middle of the meeting place. It had a bubble dome cockpit with a fin on the back of it.

"There it is!" said Marle.

"Wow," said Lucca. "I'm really mad you guys didn't tell me about this thing!"

They rushed to the vehicle's side and inspected it. No scratch had crossed its white hull. The rung ladder on the side was still in place.

Lucca climbed up the ladder and popped the bubble dome. She sat in the pilot's seat and began to flick on controls. After several minutes, she discovered what each one did. She assumed that the keypad was the time gauge.

"Well," said Lucca.

"Can we use it to go back and stop Crono from getting killed?" asked Marle.

"I'm afraid not," said the young scientist. "It is capable of going back in time, but we would probably screw up the time-space continuum by simply being in the same place where Crono got whacked."

"No..." said Marle. She held back her tears.

"If we could freeze time we could pull him away from Lavos we could save him. But otherwise..."

"The lad is gone for good..." said Frog.

"Crono..." said the princess.

A shout came from somewhere down the street. Frog turned around and withdrew the Masamune from its sheath. Marle took the crossbow from her shoulder.

"We're here for a few minutes and already there's trouble," said Lucca. "Good thing I packed a little something extra." She reached into her satchel and withdrew a wicked-looking rifle.

They walked down the street and saw a group of masked ninjas prodding the village elder with swords and staffs.

"That's enough!" said a familiar voice.

"No, it can't be!" said Frog.

A man with a long orange cape walked out from behind a building. His hair draped down to his shoulders. In his hand he carried a scepter. He approached the old man and struck him across the face with his wand.

"Bow and pay homage to your new leader, old man."

"Dalton," said the village elder. "It is unfortunate that the Ocean Palace didn't swallow you up along with the Queen."

"Hah!" said the arrogant general. "Without the old crone and the Gurus, I have declared myself king over all this land! I have come to see about a rumored mechanical chariot."

He must mean our time machine... thought Marle.

The old man looked at the ground. "I have no mechanical chariot," he said. "You must be mistaken."

Dalton struck him across the face again with the scepter. "Don't lie to me!" he said.

"Hey!" shouted Marle.

The general turned around. He saw Frog, Marle, and Lucca standing in a row, their weapons at the ready. The princess had an angry look on her face.

The old man, the ninjas, and the bystanders scattered.

"You!" shouted Dalton. "You're lucky to be alive. How did you survive the destruction of the Ocean Palace? Where's that kid with the punk hairdo who didn't talk?"

Frog waved his sword. "Pick on some one thy own age, Dalton," said Frog.

The general ignored his comment. "That ship the locals were talking about must be yours," he said. "It was just like the one Belthasar was building. You don't deserve such a toy. Henceforth, I shall make it my own personal chariot!"

"Over my dead body!" said Lucca.

"My, you're a new one," he said. "Can you see the back of the moon with those glasses?"

Lucca narrowed her eyes. She raised her rifle and loaded a single bullet inside it. "Eat lead, scum bag!"

She pulled the trigger. The bullet sailed through the air. Dalton raised his hand and shot out a blast of fire. The bullet was instantly melted as it collided with the projectile.

"So, you wanna play with fire?" asked Lucca. "You found the right gal."

"I don't have time for this foolishness," he said. "You may start a rebellion or something. You'll have to come with me." He threw his hands in the air. An orb of fire surrounded his entire body. With a tremendous rumbling, the orb expanded, engulfing the trio and melting the snow.

"Hah!" said Dalton. He walked over and saw the trio's unconscious forms laying on the ground. "Flare is the ultimate fire spell. No one can beat it."

He signaled for his ninjas to carry their lifeless forms away.

A strange whoosh of circulated air filled Lucca's ears. She opened her eyes and found that she was staring at a metal ceiling. She adjusted her glasses, bringing the world into focus. She sat up and looked around the room.

It was small. Several boxes of supplies were stacked in a corner. In another corner was a pitcher of water and some food. Beside her were the sleeping forms of Frog and Marle.

She shoved the princess. "Hey, Marle, wake up!"

Marle shifted and opened her eyes. "Where are we?"

Frog croaked as he sat up. "This is no Earthbound Village," he said.

Lucca reached for her satchel. She discovered it was not there. "Hey, they took my satchel!" she exclaimed.

Marle reached for her crossbow. "They took my bow too!"

"My Masamune is gone!" said Frog.

"Where are we?" asked Lucca.

Marle turned around. A ladder led up into a small crawlspace. "Let's go check it out." She walked over to the ladder and ascended, followed by Frog and Lucca. They crawled through the darkness until they came to a bright light. A wind gusted in from the opening.

Marle crawled out of it and stood tall. She looked down at her feet. Nothing was in front of her except for the clouds. She looked back and forth, and saw the massive fin, propellers, and wings of the mighty airship she was standing on.

"Eek!" she squealed.

"What?" asked Frog as he stepped out. He walked forward, unaware of the giant gap in front of him. Marle caught him just as he was about to fall.

"What is this?" he asked.

Lucca peeked out from the crawlspace. "Nothing but clouds," she said. "We're in the air on some kind of flying device."

"The Blackbird!" said Marle.

"There is nothing for us out here," said Frog. "Let us return inside."

Marle shakily crawled back into the crawlspace, heading for the small room where they had woke up. Lucca followed, and Frog brought up the rear.

They arrived back at the room where they had woken up. Marle jumped off the ladder and walked to the door. "It's locked," she said.

Lucca descended to the floor. "Duh," she said.

Frog climbed down the rungs. "We must find an alternate passageway," he said. He looked at the ceiling. A metal grating covered a ventilation shaft. Air flowed through it in generous gusts, causing a slight chill in the room.

"We can probably pop that and crawl all the way to this Dalton guy's command center," said Lucca.

"Alright," said Marle. "Let's stack some of those boxes up."

Frog walked over to the corner and dragged a box under the ventilation grating. Lucca pushed one over, and Marle helped her lift it on top of the one the amphibian had moved. They repeated the process, and eventually they created a makeshift ladder.

Lucca climbed up the boxes and stood on the top. She placed her hands on the grating and closed her eyes. An intense heat filled her fists. The metal covering melted, and she was able to pull it off and discard it.

"Bet you guys missed my fire magic," she said. She hoisted herself up into the ventilation shaft and began to crawl.

Marle looked up and shook her head. "The funny one," she said to herself.

"After you, m'lady," said Frog, gesturing for her to ascend the stack of boxes. The princess smiled and climbed into the ventilation shaft. The amphibian jumped to the top of the stack and followed her into the darkness.

After crawling for awhile, they came upon another grating. Several voices floated up from below. Lucca put her ear to the metal screen.

"Shh..." she said, listening.

"... and I want this here, this here... are you listening to me?"

"That's Dalton's voice!" whispered Marle.

Lucca tried to see what was going on. She could see the Epoch, but Dalton was somehow altering it. Several of his masked ninjas were carrying heavy metal plates and welding them onto the ship. She tried to see what he was doing, but she could not tell.

"I shall rename this the Aero Dalton Imperial..."

"Oh brother," whispered Lucca. "Let's get him."

"Wait," said Frog. "We hath lost our weapons. We must find them before we dare challenge Dalton."

"Frog's right," said Marle. "Our magic is strong, but we wanna have our bows and swords before we take him on."

"Let's go then," said Lucca. She continued crawling forward through the darkness.

After several minutes of crawling, the group arrived at another vent. Below was a flickering light. Marle could hear someone snoring below.

"One of the guards must have fallen asleep," she said.

Frog crawled between the two girls, trying to get a glance into the room below. "What is below?" he asked.

There was a sudden snapping sound. The grating below the trio shook. In another second, it gave way, dropping them on the floor of the room.

The guard lay on a pile of items. He opened his eyes and saw Frog, Lucca, and Marle standing up to brush themselves off. He fumbled for his nun-chucks, trying to find them so he could defend himself.

"Get him!" said Lucca.

"He's mine," said Marle.

The ninja stood up and revealed his weapon. He swung it through the air, hoping to ward off the intruders.

Marle formed an ice ball over her head with her hands, then whipped it across the room and froze the warrior solid.

"What a pushover," she said.

"Look!" said Frog. "Our weapons!"

Behind the frozen ninja lay the pile of weapons and items. Marle's crossbow and quiver were untouched. Frog's Masamune was on top of the heap, and Lucca's rifle lay below it. Her ammo shells were scattered about the floor.

Frog walked over and picked up his sheathed sword. He attached it to his hip and withdrew the blade, slicing it through the air. "Tis good to have my Masamune back," he said.

Marle shouldered her crossbow. "Glad to have my bow back," she said.

Lucca popped several bullets into her rifle. "Just wait till I see that puke, Dalton," she said as she pumped the slide. "I'll teach him to mess with the Epoch."

Frog crossed the room and opened the door. With a hiss of steam, it revealed the empty corridor of the Blackbird. "There is no one here," he said. "Let us proceed with caution."

Lucca held her rifle at the ready. "This is all the caution I need."

The amphibian stepped out into the hallway and made sure it was clear. One corridor branched out in front of him, one to his right, and one to his left. A steady sound of air circulation machines rumbled overhead.

He turned and motioned for the other two to follow him. They slowly stepped out of the room, looking down the corridors. Marle led the way after she felt it was safe, creeping down the corridor directly in front of them.

After tiptoing for several feet, they passed another corridor running perpendicular to the one they were in now. A loud alarm rang out.

"I didn't trip anything!" said Marle.

"T'was not you," said Frog. He withdrew his Masamune and pointed down the corridor.

"Oh no," said Marle. "Not again."

A familiar-looking green ball hung at the end of the corridor, beeping and blinking. It opened its optical sensors and locked on to the trio.

Lucca raised her rifle and pulled the trigger. With a loud echoing sound that bounced off the metal of ship, a bullet sailed through the air and struck the computer brain inside the green orb robot. It buzzed angrily and fell to the floor.

"Let us depart!" said Frog. "More shall be coming shortly!"

"There they are!" said a voice behind them.

The trio whirled around. A group of masked ninjas stood at the doorway where they had retrieved their weapons. "Get them!"

"Run!" said Lucca. She motioned for Frog and Marle to turn and high-tail it up the hallway. The young scientist backpedaled, shooting down some of the ninjas with her rifle as she went.

They came to another door at the end of the corridor. Marle hit the release switch. The door hissed open, revealing a ladder that went upwards.

"We're trapped!" said Frog.

"There's no way out but up!" said the princess. She grabbed the rungs of the ladder and climbed. Frog put his Masamune back in his sheath and followed her. Lucca shot several more advancing ninjas down before she too turn and ascended.

Marle popped open a hatch at the top of the ladder. She climbed out of it and found that she was standing on the Blackbird's wing.

Frog jumped out of the hatch and looked down the wing. "There is no way out but down," he said.

"Well, we'll jump if we have to!" said Lucca, shouldering her rifle as she shut the hatch behind them. She carefully walked across the massive wing, heading for the edge.

The princess shook her head, slowly treading out across the projection. It was incredibly difficult to stand up against the wind. Frog followed her, using his webbed hands and feet to cross the wing.

Lucca crawled to the edge of the wing. A rumbling came from somewhere in the distance. Several blasts of electricity appeared at the edge.

"Something cometh," said Frog.

The electricity cleared, and a familiar visage stood in front of the trio. It was shaped exactly like the Golem they had faced earlier, but its covering was pink instead of gold. Its lips were blue, and its fangs were sharper.

"Not another," said Frog. "This must be the Golem Boss Dalton spoke of."

The monster's eyes widened. It seemed to suddenly be aware that it was on the edge of the wing of the Blackbird and not on the solid ground.

Its teeth began to chatter as it looked down at the endless expanse of clouds below the massive ship. It slowly began to back up. It curled into a cannonball and pressed closed to the ship.

"It's afraid of heights!" said Lucca. "Let me roast it with fire!"

"No!" said Marle. She grabbed her hands before she could form a fireball. "These things absorb magic and turn it back against you! We have to shove it off!"

"Right!" said Frog. He withdrew his Masamune and charged forward. The Golem remained curled up in the ball as the amphibian proceeded to whack it. Fearing the blade, the monster moved back.

"It's a coward," said Lucca.

Frog repeatedly slashed at the creature, pushing it further and further back. Finally it had no room left. It uncurled and prepared to launch one of its patented cannonballs.

Lucca held her arms out in front of her. An orb of fire appeared in front of her wrists. A steady blast erupted from the ball and landed directly in the open mouth of the Golem. It was shoved backwards and over the edge of the Blackbird.

Frog looked over the edge. "It hath been destroyed," he said.

"Now what?" asked Marle.

Deep inside the Blackbird was a large hangar. It was filled with boxes of equipment, tools, cargo, and many spare parts. It was dimly lit by several lamps that swung back and forth overhead. A thick coating of dust filled the floor.

In the center of the room was a large object under a heavy sheet. Several mechanics stood in a line before the object, facing the self-proclaimed king of the land.

"Is it ready?" asked Dalton.

"Yes sir," said one of the mechanics.

"Have the controls been calibrated to my exact specifications?"

"Absolutely, sir."

"Good," said the king. "Remove the sheet."

A mechanic stood by a large control panel. He flipped a switch. There was a loud groaning sound throughout the hangar, and the sheet covering the object lifted up.

The sheet cleared the object, and Dalton smiled. The vehicle he had captured from the three warriors stood before him, re-painted. Its exterior was well polished. It looked brand-new, along with one special modification.

It now had two great wings and a rocket thruster. The Epoch was now able to fly.

"Excellent," said Dalton. He walked across the deck of the hangar and ascended the rungs on the side of the ship. He popped open the bubble dome and sat down in the cockpit. He reached for several switches, and the thruster in the back came to life with a tremendous roar.

"Yes," he said. He flicked several more switches.

"Weapon systems on," said a computerized voice.

"Sir!" said a voice.

Dalton hesitated to close the protective dome. He looked at a catwalk high above the deck of the hangar. A lone ninja stood there, panting.

"What is it, soldier?" he asked.

"The prisoners have escaped!" said the warrior. "They are out on the wing!"

Dalton smiled. He turned to the deck operator. "Open the hangar doors! I am taking my Aero-Dalton Imperial for a test run!"

The deck operator smiled and pressed a switch. The heavy metal doors that closed off the hangar bay opened, revealing the brilliant sunlight. Clouds whizzed by as the Blackbird hovered across the sky.

"Here we go!" said Dalton. He switched on the accelerator, and the Epoch crossed the deck and flew through the open doors.

An explosion shook the wing of the Blackbird. Frog, Marle, and Lucca were hurled to the metal. They hung on under the extreme wind. The princess looked up, searching for the attacker that seemed to have come out of nowhere.

"What was that?" asked Lucca.

Marle spotted an object turning around in front of the Blackbird and heading back for another strike at the three warriors. It had a familiar pod-like shape to it, with a fin at the back and a bubble dome.

"The Epoch?" asked Frog.

The object shot out several red laser beams that impacted the wing of the giant airship. The three warriors ducked again, hanging onto the metal plating. The Epoch soared by, firing volleys of laser blasts as it went.

"It's flying!" exclaimed Lucca.

"And it's deadly!" said Marle as the Epoch swooped around for another shot.

Inside the cockpit, Dalton pulled hard on the control yoke, flipping the flying time machine and readying for another attack. He powered up the laser systems. Using the control stick, he locked on to the three warriors with the targeting scope.

"Ready torpedo launchers," he said. He flipped a switch, changing from the laser cannons to the high-impact torpedo launchers he added to the Epoch.

"He's gonna fire!" shouted Marle.

"I shall thwart him," said Frog. He raised his hands in the air. An orb of water appeared over his head. He dropped his arms, and the orb flew through the air towards the flying time machine.

Dalton saw the incoming projectile. He tried to slow down to avoid it. The orb hovered in front of his winged machine, blocking his view. He slowed down considerably and aimed to fly under the wing of the Blackbird.

"The water will block his vision," said Frog. "But we must board the Epoch in order to retrieve it. When he passes beneath us, we shall jump!"

"Are you crazy?" asked Lucca. She already knew the answer.

The Epoch slowed down as it passed beneath the Blackbird's wing. Frog leapt first into the cloudy void and caught on to the tail fin. Dalton did not notice him.

Marle and Lucca dashed to the other side of the wing. The Epoch was about to pass beneath them.

"Ready when you are," said Lucca.

Marle shook her head and gracefully dove off of the wing. She soared through the air and landed on top of the Epoch's bubble dome with a thud. The orb of water that clouded Dalton's vision was instantly shattered.

"What?" he yelled as he saw Marle's face pressed against the glass.

Lucca jumped next and caught onto the tail fin of the Epoch. She pulled herself onto its smooth surface and clung to an outcropping to keep from sliding off. She slowly climbed up to the bubble dome.

"This guy's mine!" said the young scientist. She reached into a vent between the metal plates and hit a release switch.

Marle slid off of the bubble dome and grabbed onto an outcropping. The cockpit lid popped open, much to Dalton's surprise. He whirled around in his seat to see the young girl with the large glasses.

"Wanna see some real fire magic?" she asked.

Dalton pushed up his sleeve and unbuckled his safety belt. He stood up in the cockpit, and Lucca jumped into it to confront him.

The king closed his eyes and concentrated. A large orb of fire began to surround his entire body as he prepared for a flare attack.

Without even concentrating, Lucca whipped a decent-sized orb of fire into his chest before he could fully form the ultimate fire attack. He sunk to the floor of the cockpit, grasping for air as he felt his lungs burn.

"You..." he said.

"No one makes fun of my glasses!" said Lucca. She reached for her rifle and leveled it at his face.

"This calls for the Golem Boss!" he shouted. He raised his hand in the air. A mass of electricity formed above the speeding Epoch.

Nothing appeared from the cloud.

"What? Where is he?"

Before Dalton could figure it out, he was sucked from the cockpit and hurled into the cloud of electricity. The trio could hear his loud screams as he was shocked to death. Frog looked behind and saw his charred body fall from the sky.

"A lesson he hath learned today," said Frog.

Marle jumped into the control seat and strapped herself in. Lucca and Frog jumped into the back, looking over her shoulder to see what she was doing. The princess closed the bubble dome and pushed a button.

Two bright red beams of laser shot out from cannons in the underbelly of the Epoch. They streaked out into infinity, slicing through the clouds.

"He changed the controls!" said Marle. She realized that she had just activated the weapon systems.

"Let me drive!" said Lucca. She motioned for Marle to get out of the front seat and hop in the back. The princess nodded and left the piloting to the young genius.

Lucca sat down and pulled back on the control yoke. She flipped the Epoch, setting it up for a dive bomb at the Blackbird. She flicked several switches and watched a weapons display panel light up.

"What art thou doing?" asked Frog.

"Putting that big ship to rest!" she said. She locked on to the engine vents and pulled the trigger.

Two bright blue torpedoes erupted from hidden compartments in the Epoch. They blazed out and homed in on the giant engine. They impacted, creating a humongous explosion. The Blackbird began to droop, losing altitude.

"Goodbye," said Lucca. She fired several laser blasts at the main body of the giant airship.

The Blackbird exploded, sending metal debris throughout the sky. Bits of fire arced downward like the legs of a spider.

"Okay, I got it now," said Lucca.

"Fantastic," said Frog. "He modified the Epoch so it could fly. We are in his debt."

"It needed a remodel anyway," said the young scientist. She looked at the land far below, and saw many people coming out from their huts, cheering at the ruins of the Blackbird.

"I think we should land," said Marle.

"I'm taking her in!" said Lucca. She pushed forward on the control yoke.

Lucca set the Epoch down in the middle of the village center. Hundreds of cheering people applauded the three heroes' valiant effort to thwart Dalton and his mighty Blackbird.

Marle popped the bubble dome and climbed down the ladder. Frog followed, and Lucca slowly descended. The village elder stood before them.

"How can we thank you?" he asked. "You have destroyed the last remains of Zeal's henchmen!"

"It was nothing," said Marle.

"By the way," said the elder, "someone was here looking for you."

"Who?" asked Lucca.

"He was a strange man," said the old geezer. "He had long blue hair and carried a scythe."

Frog withdrew his Masamune. "Where did he go?" asked the amphibian.

"Oh, he headed up towards the coast..."

Frog did not let the elder finish his sentence. He dashed through the village, heading for the coast of the island.

"Wait!" said Marle. She dashed after him, followed by Lucca.

The endless waves of the sea crashed upon the rocky shoreline of the lone island. They hammered the sides of a cliff, gradually chipping away at its foundation. A lonely point of rock jutted out from the shore, standing over the sea like an outstretched finger.

Magus stood at the edge of the cliff, looking across the waves that rolled in. He folded his arms, silently thinking of his grave loss.

His pointed ears stuck up. Several footsteps approached the cliff that he stood on. He did not bother to turn around, for he knew who was coming.

"Magus!" said a familiar voice.

"So it is the little Frog and his friends," said the warlock. He slowly turned around, facing the blonde haired girl, the girl with glasses, and the short amphibian.

"What are you doing here?" asked Marle.

"Behold," said the sorcerer. "Everything is at the bottom of the sea. The magic kingdom of Zeal exist no more. Gone are the dreams and hopes of its people. The ambitions. The power."

"Twas Lavos's power that destroyed it," said Frog.

"I once lived in the floating islands of Zeal," he said. "But I was another person then..."

"What are you talking about?" asked Marle.

"Listen, if you have time. I shall tell you an interesting story."

The hall of the Mammon Machine rumbled. Shards of rock fell from the ceiling, crashing into the lake of lava below. The demonic statue itself lurched, sending forth waves of powerful red energy into those who stood by.

Queen Zeal, Melchior, Belthasar, Gaspar, and Schala stood by and watched as the horrible machine quaked and rumbled.

The air grew thick with energy. The very image of the Mammon Machine became twisted and distorted. It was as if the fabric of time was being torn apart by its intense energy. The island in the middle of the lava lake shook.

"A dimensional warp," said Gaspar, the Guru of Time.

"This power is beyond human control, Queen Zeal!" said Belthasar, Guru of Life.

"Silence!" said the Queen. "I shall have my full power at the hands of Lavos! Immortality, here I come!"

"Your majesty, we shall be dragged in!" said Melchior, Guru of Wisdom.

The distortion around the Mammon Machine grew.

"Schala!" said a troubled voice.

The daughter of Zeal turned around and saw a frightened little boy standing on the catwalk leading towards the island of the Mammon Machine in the middle of the lava lake. He had blue hair, and a purple cat tagged along behind him.

"No, Janus!" said Schala. "Stay back, it's too strong!"


There was a loud snapping sound, as if time and space had been shredded. The people in the room all found themselves in a strange, warped place. The walls of the Mammon Machine room had been placed with a blue blur.

"Lavos!" shouted Schala.

In front of the figures lay the immense spiked beast, Lavos. It opened its solitary eye, concentrating on the three Gurus.

"Hah!" said Zeal. "Now is my time to soak up Lavos's immortality! Remove these pesky children of reason, my lord!"

Lavos roared, and a hole appeared under Melchior. He felt a violent pulling on his body as he was sucked into the hole. "It's a..."

The hole closed behind him.

"A time gate!" said Gaspar. He felt his body fall into a hole similar that Melchior's had just fallen into. The void closed behind him.

"No!" shouted Belthasar. A hole opened up beneath him, and he felt himself being sucked through time.

Janus stood, looking at the monstrous Lavos in front of him. Its lone eye concentrated on the young boy. It roared and formed a time gate under his feet.

"Schala!" he shouted.

"Janus!" yelled the daughter of Zeal. She dashed towards the young boy. He was sucked up into the time warp.

"No..." she cried.

Lavos roared, shaking time and space itself.

Melchior felt himself being thrown onto the ground. He got up and looked around. He seemed to be in a house of some sort. He had just been hurled out of what seemed to be a kitchen cabinet. Two green monsters sat at a table, drinking.

"Hey!" said one of them. "Who do you think you are, coming out of our closet?"

Belthasar was thrown onto a cold metal floor. He picked his face up and saw piles of dust scattered about a dark, dismal room.

"Where am I?" he asked.

He picked himself up and walked out of the room. He walked into another room, full of robot parts and assorted junk. Shaking his head, he continued onward through the exit of the strange building he had been warped to.

The sky was dark and cloudy. The terrain looked as if it had been scorched by rain of fire. Several storms gathered at the horizon.

"Could this be what happens to mankind?" he asked himself. "Did Lavos destroy this place?"

Gaspar felt himself thrown onto a cold, stone floor. He picked himself up. A lamppost was behind him. A garden of pillars of light was to his right, and a door to a separate room was behind the lamppost.

"There's nothing here," he said. "This must be the End of Time."

Janus felt himself being hurled to the ground. He tumbled downward through a group of trees. Branches snapped around him as he struggled to stop the forward momentum that hurled him down a mountain path.

He stopped and landed in a clearing. Several green-scaled monsters were approaching him. He stood up and panicked.

"What are you doing here?" asked a gruff voice.

The young boy turned around and saw a green monster with white robes floating behind him. It was rather large and heavy.

"W-where am I?" asked Janus.

"Why this is the Middle Ages!" said the floating green monster. "Who are you?"

"I... I don't know where I am..."

"Get him, boys!" said the green monster. The other green monsters advanced towards the young boy.

Janus panicked. He felt his body being warped by some mysterious force. Three black orbs shot out of his body and surrounded the monsters. They spun in a circle. Three lines connected the orbs, forming a triangle.

The boy ducked. A terrific ripping sound shattered the air. He looked up and saw the dead bodies of the green reptiles.

"Y-you know magic?" asked the green creature.

"Y-yes," said the boy. "I am from the land of Zeal."

Frog's mind grasped Magus's story. He finally added together all of the details and realized the true identity of the warlock.

"Thou art that filthy urchin!" said the amphibian.

Magus continued. "Lavos's time gate stranded me in the Middle Ages. He tore me from my family. He separated me from my sister Schala and corrupted my mother. All throughout my life I wanted to get back at him. He destroyed me. I was consumed with revenge. I breathed, slept, and thought vengeance. I swore every night that some day I would destroy Lavos and get revenge for what he did to my family. It was the only thing I held on to.

"I became stronger in my magic," he said. "I learned to control the elements of lightning, fire, water, and shadow magic. Eventually I perfected my most powerful technique, dark matter. I felt ready to take on Lavos. I was ready to settle the score. I began to summon him, but you interrupted me at my castle. After the battle, I could not control his rage. He formed another time gate."

"You were thrown into 12,000 A.D.?" asked Frog.

"Yes. How ironic that, having been drawn into yet another portal, I would end up in this age. Having already experienced the rise and fall of Zeal, my knowledge enabled me to convince the Queen that I was a mighty prophet. I became afraid when you showed up. I feared you may wreck my chances to get back at Lavos. So I told the Queen you were trouble-makers. When I did get my chance at the great immortal beast, I discovered that even a lifetime of preparation could not begin to match the power that he possesses. He endured my dark matter spell and prepared to swallow me whole. Unimaginable is the power of Lavos. Anyone who opposes it will meet certain doom. If you seek to destroy him, you will end up like that idiot, Crono."

Frog's eyes widened. His mind raced. He became angry at Magus's insult towards the mighty warrior. "How dare you insult him!" said the amphibian. "He saved our lives!"

Magus tightened his glove. "He's history," said the warlock. "Play with fire and you get burned."

"Magus!" said Frog. "Hold thy tongue!" The wind around the cliff intensified.

"You wish to challenge me?" asked the warlock.

Frog held his Masamune at the ready. "At last I shall slay you in the name of Cyrus! Stand back, Marle and Lucca! This is my battle."

The two girls turned and ran.

"I never dreamed we would settle our differences in this dusty old era," said Magus. "Come, let us finish this charade!" He reached behind his back and pulled out a wicked-looking scythe.

Frog slashed at Magus. The warlock lowered his weapon and blocked the blow from the amphibian's sword. A loud clash was heard as an immense release of energy erupted from the clash of weapons.

Magus raised his scythe and hacked downward at Frog. The amphibian ducked and rolled, avoiding the deadly blade. The warlock sliced again and again, trying to cut him in half.

"Even the mighty Masamune cannot save you now!" said the sorcerer.

"Perhaps not!" said Frog as he slashed at Magus. The warlock jumped back and readied his weapon for another blow. "But maybe my new skills shall aid me!"

The amphibian raised his arms in the air. Magus looked back and forth. "How dare you lower your defense before me. Prepare to meet your maker!"

There was an intense rumbling through the water. A great wave crashed upon the rocky shore. It traveled up and washed across the cliff. Magus was knocked from his feet, and the receding water nearly brought him back out to sea.

He stood up and put his scythe away. He wiped the salt water from his face and shook his hair. "So you wish to play with magic, eh?" he asked. "Well, then you shall surely meet your doom!"

The sorcerer raised his arms. He then crossed them in a bizarre pattern. The sky rumbled, and blasts of electricity danced among the clouds. A shield of electricity surrounded him.

A bolt of lightning erupted from the thunderous clouds and traveled straight down to the cliff. Frog closed his eyes as he felt the electricity wash over his body. He fell to the ground, depleted of his energy after Magus's attack.

"All too easy," said Magus. "You're nothing without your friends!"

Frog stood up and held his Masamune at the ready. He waved it back and forth, inviting another attack from the sorcerer.

Magus began to cross his arms.

The amphibian charged at him. The warlock was caught off guard. He stopped crossing his arms and lost his balance as he tried to dodge the legendary sword. The blade cut through Magus's electricity shield, shattering it. He tumbled to the side and stood up again.

"No! My magic barriers are ineffective against your Masamune!" shouted Magus.

Frog slashed again at the unprotected warlock. He managed to just miss the sharp slash to the stomach.

"Prepare to get a taste of dark matter!" He raised his hand, and Frog found himself caught in a geyser, much like he felt at the castle. He was trapped.

"Do you hear it, Frog?" asked Magus. He put his hand to his ear. "It's the sound of the Reaper calling!"

Three black orbs jumped from his hand. They encircled the lone amphibian, spinning faster and faster. Lines connected the orbs, forming a triangle. The figure grew dark, surrounding Frog in a barrier of blackness.

"No..." said Frog. "Cyrus... give me strength..."

"Hah!" said Magus. "It's 12,000 A.D. Cyrus doesn't even exist yet!"

"We're here to help you," said two strange voices.

Frog looked around. "Who art thou?"

"We are Masa and Mune, the spirits of your sword," said the voices. "We shall help you break the warlock's curse of detainment so you can destroy him!"

The Masamune floated in front of him. It glowed and divided the white column that held Frog in the triangle of darkness. He felt free, so he ran and dodged the dark matter spell.

Magus dropped his hand and heard the intense tearing sound of the air. The triangle disappeared, leaving a black scar on the rocky cliff.

"At last, I have rid myself of that pesky Frog," he said.

"I'm afraid not!" said the amphibian.

Magus turned and saw him standing there with the Masamune in hand. "No! It cannot be! I shall finish you now and forever!" He withdrew his scythe again.

Frog charged forward, sweeping at Magus's mid-section. The warlock held up his weapon and blocked the blow, pushing the blade back. The amphibian struck again, and the sorcerer repeated the defensive block.

He stepped back and raised his sword in the air, trying to divert the warlock's deadly hooked blade as it came down toward his bulbous eyes. He pushed the scythe back with all his might.

He slashed again and again, but Magus blocked all of his blows. They were locked in a dance of death, the duel to end all duels.

Magus raised his scythe high in the air. It gleamed in the sunlight, creating an imposing image for the short Frog. He looked up and saw the warlock's eyes blaze with fire. "It ends here, tadpole!"

Frog swung with the Masamune just as Magus brought the weapon down. He neatly cleaved the scythe in half, sending the bladed end over the edge of the cliff and into the water. The sorcerer realized he was holding nothing but a stick.

He sunk to his knees. "No..."

Frog brought the Masamune to Magus's neck. "Now, Cyrus, I shall avenge thee."

Magus laughed. He felt the energy of the Masamune creep through his body, slowly draining him. "Go ahead! Cut me! Get your revenge!"

Frog pressed the sword closer to his neck. He stopped.

"What?" shrieked Magus.

The amphibian thought for a second. If he were to slice open Magus's neck, he would bring himself down to his level. He would be the person consumed with revenge, not Magus. He would have wasted his life. He knew what to do.

"Vanquishing thee would not return Cyrus or Crono," said Frog.


"Your entire life has been squandered in pursuit of revenge against Lavos," said the amphibian. "If I were to slay you, I would be no better than you are. Learn from my lesson. Give up your vengeful ways. Find a better meaning of life."

Frog removed the Masamune from Magus's neck and put it back in his sheath. He turned and began to walk away from the coast.

Magus was stunned. How could that insignificant pest come so far and then not kill me? I'll make him sorry for not taking his chance!

The warlock stood up. "Frog! If I cannot have revenge on Lavos, I shall certainly get revenge on you!" He pulled a dagger out from under his cloak.

Frog continued walking. He shook his head. I hath taught him nothing.

"You dare walk away from the great Magus?" asked the warlock. "It's over!"

The sorcerer charged like a madman towards the amphibian. He held his dagger at the ready, prepared to stab Frog directly in the heart.

He whirled around and saw Magus charging. He held out the Masamune, hoping to just scare off the sorcerer's attack. He closed his eyes.

Magus did not see the blade. He raised his dagger in the air and charged faster.

Without noticing that Frog had out his Masamune, he stabbed forward, aiming for his heart. He fell inches short. A powerful sensation attacked his stomach.

Frog opened his eyes. Magus's face was full of shock. Slowly he drew away and backpedaled.


A deep wound was in the warlock's stomach. Blood oozed out. A red stain covered the Masamune.

"I did not mean to slay thee..." said Frog. "Twas your own obsession that drove your body upon my blade."

The warlock knelt down, nodding. He gasped for air. "I have squandered my life. It was all a waste... Vengeance... it's an animalistic thing."

"The lesson came too late, Magus."

"Oh Schala!" cried Magus. "Forgive me! I have failed. I should have rescued you some other way! My hatred for Lavos consumed me!"

Frog sheathed his bloody sword. "Magus, we should forgive each other before it is too late..."

The warlock suddenly noticed the amphibian. "Yes... Frog... I forgive you. Please forgive me for what I did to Cyrus..." He coughed up some blood. "It will take awhile, but after I die, the curse on you shall be lifted... You shall regain your human form... It is the only way I can possibly attempt to make amends..."

Frog knelt before him. "I am sorry it has ended this way."

"Before I go... if you want Crono back..."

"Crono?" asked Frog.

"Yes... there is a way..."


"The Guru of Time... Gaspar... knows how... ask him... at the End of Time..."


He turned to the sea. "If history is to change, let it change. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If my fate is to die, I must simply laugh."

The cliff rumbled. He stepped backwards as a powerful force shook the projection. Magus and the rock were washed into the ocean, never to be seen again.

A small pendant lay at the edge of the cliff. Frog walked over and picked it up. "An amulet to guard someone..." he said. "I must rescue Crono now..."

He walked away from the cliff. In his heart, he had forgiven the warlock.

Marle rushed up to him. "Frog!" she shouted. "Is he...?"

"In his rage he drove himself upon my defensive blade," he said. "He told me that to bring Crono back, we should see the Guru of Time."

"Crono!" shouted Marle.

"Yes," he said. "Let us take Epoch there."

Marle noticed something in his hand. "What is that?" she asked.

"An amulet," he said. He handed it over to her. She looked at for several moments and recognized it.

"Lucca's got the Epoch ready," said the princess. "Let's go."

Together, they headed back towards the Earthbound Village.

Lucca sat in the controls of the Epoch silently. It was parked in the vacant center of the Earthbound Village. She had the bubble dome open, breathing the chilly air as she calibrated the time machine for its journey. Ice crystals formed clouds in front of her face.

"Fire 'er up, Lucca," said Marle's voice.

The young scientist turned around and saw Frog and Marle walking towards them. She hit the ignition switch on the time machine. It hummed to life and began to float.

"Hop on in!" she said.

The princess climbed the ladder, followed by the amphibian. They hopped into the back seat of the Epoch and buckled up.

"Where to?" asked Lucca.

"We are to go to the End of Time," said Frog. "There is a good possibility that we can revive Crono."

"What?" she exclaimed.

"Just take us there," said Marle. "We'll explain on the way."

"Okay. Next stop: End of Time." She pulled backwards on the control stick, forcing the time machine to fly upwards and into the sky. The large engine boosters kicked in, propelling them through the air.

The Epoch soared gracefully through the scattered clouds. Birds scattered as the mechanical creature invaded their territory.

Lucca pushed downward on the control yoke, skimming the time machine across the water, creating a series of waves as they traveled. Bits of ice and fish left a trail several hundred feet long. The sun shone brightly, signaling a change for the better.

Frog sat back in his seat, wondering about Magus. He had killed him by accident, not in battle. Cyrus would be ashamed...

A blast of air erupted from the water, sending a column of vapor high into the sky.

"What was that?" asked Marle.

Lucca checked the controls. "I'm not sure," she said. "There's some sort of time and space disturbance coming up from the ocean floor."

The waters parted in front of the Epoch. More vapor shot up into the air like explosions from far below.

"What monstrosity cometh?" asked Frog.

A black shadow came up from the waters. It had traces of purple and blue. It looked like a deformed mountain made of pure black. A dark energy flowed from within, scrambling the Epoch's circuitry.

"What is that?" asked Lucca.

"It looks like the remains of the Ocean Palace," said Marle.

"Then Queen Zeal lives," said Frog.

The Epoch shook. Several specks began to appear from the dark mountain. A few laser blasts erupted from turrets scattered on the surface.

"Lucca, get us out of here!" shouted Marle.

"What number year do I punch in for the End of Time?" she asked in a panic.

"Hit them all!" exclaimed Frog.

Lucca closed her fist and banged on the keypad. A large E appeared in the year monitor screen, signaling an error. "That should get us there! Hang on!"

She threw the switch.

With a loud snapping sound, the Epoch disappeared.

Queen Zeal sat in the top of the Black Omen, looking down at a blue orb that showed the vast ocean before her. Her throne room was pitch black, save for the red energy of the power source behind her and several cylindrical tanks.

"Blast it," she said, looking at the orb. "They escaped. No matter. They cannot defeat Lavos. I shall encounter them again. Then they shall know the true power of Zeal."

She laughed and shut off the light.

XVI: Quest for Crono

The sky stopped spinning. The blackness disappeared, and was replaced with a gentle blue and orange mix, signifying the calming presence of the End of Time. Several clouds rolled by gently, and the stars began to shine.

"We made it," said Lucca. She shut down the time gauge on the Epoch. The displays and buttons became dark. She sat back in her seat and sighed.

"What was that thing?" asked the young scientist.

"Twas the remains of the Ocean Palace," said Frog. "Queen Zeal hath resurrected it."

"Let's not worry about her now," said Marle. "Let's find the Guru of Time and see what he has to say about restoring Crono."

"Right," said Lucca. She hit the release valve on the control panel. With a hiss of depressurized air, the bubble dome opened to a stone bridge floating in mid air. The outcropping led to a familiar square with a lamppost, where Robo and Ayla sat in conversation.

Frog hopped out of the Epoch first and walked across the bridge. Marle followed him, and Lucca closed the bubble dome as she walked to the lamppost, where the familiar keeper of the End of Time sat sleeping.

The old man sat with his brown hat over his eyes, snoring softly. A bubble formed under his nose.

"Hey," said Marle.

He snarled and tipped up his hat. "Oh it's you!" he said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "What brings you back here? Where's that young kid with the punk hairdo who never talked?"

Lucca, Frog, and the princess bowed their heads.


"Vaporized by Lavos in the pit of the Ocean Palace," said the old man.

"What?" shrieked Ayla.

Robo snapped to attention. "Crono has been eradicated?"

"How did you...?"

"I can see pretty much anything and everything from up here," he said.

"Where looking for the Guru of Time," said Marle.

"An old friend of mine told us that he possesses the knowledge to restore Crono," said Frog.

The old man lowered his head. "I don't believe you will find him here," he said. "To bring back loved ones... It's what everyone wants to do. Crono must be proud to have friends like you."

Marle fell to the ground. Her eyes watered. She drooped her head and began to cry. "We've come so far," she said. "There's no way we can ever bring him back. I only wish that I had told him..."

"Wait," said the old man.

"What?" asked Lucca.

The geezer reached into his coat. He fished for a moment, then smiled as he found something he was looking for. He drew the prize out from his coat. It was in a felt bag with two drawstrings. He held it in front of Marle.

"W-what is it?" asked the princess, sniffling. She took the soft bag from him.

"Open it," he said.

Marle nodded. Lucca, Frog, Robo, and Ayla drew close as they watched her pull the drawstrings. She reached into the bag and withdrew an egg-shaped object. It glowed with an awe-inspiring brilliance that lit up the nearby area. It had a strange aura that surrounded it, giving Marle a renewed feeling.

"Egg," said Ayla. "For eat?"

"Let us call it the Chrono Trigger," said the old man. "It was created long ago by the Guru of Time. When it is brought near certain places where time and space are warped, it can actually transport you to any desired era and freeze time for several seconds. Like an egg, it represents a possibility. It may, or may not hatch. But it gives you the potential to get your friend back. It will be a difficult journey, but you can only hatch the egg if you put all your heart into it. It will have an effect equal to that which you put in your search. No more, no less. Just keep trying, and you may see Crono again."

Marle held the Chrono Trigger in the palm of her hand and examined it. Its aura surrounded her, giving her newfound hope. "Crono..." she said.

"Wait, it's you, isn't it?" asked Lucca, gesturing towards the old man.

"Eh?" he asked.

"Thou art Gaspar, the Guru of Time," said Frog.

"Er..." he said. "That's what they used to call me. Ages ago..."

Marle placed the egg back in its bag and tied it to her hip. "Thank you," she said softly. Her mind filled with thoughts of seeing Crono again.

"Ask the inventor of your Wings of Time how to operate it," said Gaspar. "He knows several disturbances where you can set up a time freeze."

"Wait," said Robo. "I would personally like to accompany the party on this adventure."

"Okay," said Marle. "So it's me, Lucca, and Robo. Frog, you stay here and rest. You've been with us long enough that you deserve a break."

"Yes, Marle," said Frog. He walked over to the spring and sat down, slowly closing his eyes for a well deserved break.

"Okay," said the princess. "Let's get going." She dashed across the bridge towards the Epoch.

"Wait up!" said Lucca.

"I am coming!" said Robo.

The sky surrounding the Keeper's Dome was dark and cloudy. Flashes of lightning lit up the belly of the clouds. Balls of dust blew across the open plain. Fires burned in the distance, and clouds of smoke arose from the distant cities.

A loud crack of thunder sounded. A brilliant flash of light lit up the sky, and the Epoch time machine streaked across the clouds, leaving a vapor trail as it emerged safely in the year 2030 A.D. It soared towards the Keeper's Dome.

"I never thought I'd have to go back here," said Lucca. She flipped several of the switches on the console of the time machine and pulled back on the steering control. It slowly began to arc downward.

"Nor did I," said Robo.

"It's so bleak and lifeless..." said Marle.

Lucca brought the Epoch to fly across the barren plain. She passed the long highway, blowing around rubble scattered on the sides. She approached the Dome and set it down. A hiss of steam allowed the time machine to land gently.

"Here we are," said Lucca. She turned off the instruments and opened the bubble dome. The stale air of the cockpit was replaced by the polluted air of the outside world.

Marle stood up and looked as far as the eye could see. "It hasn't gotten any less dismal since we've last been here," she said.

Robo slowly climbed down the ladder and looked at the remains of the Keeper's Dome. Its glass roof was shattered. Piles of rubble surrounded it, and the inside of it was pitch black. "I shall use my lights to illuminate the interior," he said. He led the way into the building.

The familiar interior remained unchanged. Computer parts, robotic arms, legs, and torsos were strewn about the floor. A computer screen sat in the middle of the room. The green door that led to the back was sealed shut.

A lone, blue creature with a green mohawk sat in front of a computer console. He was snoring rather loudly and drooling a bit.

Marle walked over to the blue creature and poked him. It groaned and rolled over. Angrily, the princess punched him in the snout.

It stopped snoring and opened its eyes. "Ah, it's you," he said sleepily. "How has my Wings of Time served you?"

"It's working well," said Marle. "But we need a favor."

"Well, I'm here to help," he said. "What can I do for you?"

Marle took the soft bag off of her hip and opened it. She pulled out the Chrono Trigger and showed it to the creature. Its blue luminescence cast an eerie glow inside the Dome.

"The Chrono Trigger. So you have been to the End of Time," said the creature. "How is Gaspar doing?"

"Good," said Lucca. "He said you know how to work this thing."

"Indeed I do," said the creature. He used his long blue arms to boost up his bulbous body. He turned and headed for the back room. "Follow me."

Marle put the Chrono Trigger back in its bag and hooked it back on her hip. She crossed the room, followed by Robo and Lucca. The blue creature opened the green door and walked in to the vacant room where he once kept the Epoch.

He flicked a light switch. A blinding white light filled the room. Where the Epoch used to sit was a long, cylindrical tube. Inside was a clear blue liquid.

"What is it?" asked Marle.

"Gaspar gave you the Chrono Trigger in order to revive a friend, right?" asked the blue creature.

"Yeah," said Lucca.

"The Chrono Trigger creates a time freeze," he explained. "If you want to pull someone out of the time freeze right before his or her imminent death, you need to replace them with a clone to eradicate suspicion."

"A clone?" asked Lucca. "I never thought it's possible."

"Oh it is," said the blue creature. "Belthasar also had a cloning tank in the works before he died. After you guys left in the Epoch, I finished his cloning tank. I even used the hair sample that your friend left behind."

"Won't this Crono be as good as the original?" asked Lucca.

"Unfortunately, no," said the blue creature. "He will look exactly the same as the original, but he will have a clear mind. Cloning doesn't copy a person's memory. I guess I should throw the switch."

He walked over to a console and pulled back a lever. The blue liquid inside the tank swirled rapidly. The console lit up brightly.

After several minutes, a fully formed humanoid being sat inside the blue tank. He seemed to be unconscious as he bobbed up and down in the suspension. His red hair was wet and stuck to his head. His mouth was closed.

"Crono..." said Marle.

"All done," said the creature. He pulled the lever back. The blue liquid drained out of the tank, leaving the clone sitting on the grating. The monster threw another switch, and the clear glass surrounding the false Crono raised.

Robo walked over and picked up the lifeless body. "It does not appear to be animated," he said.

"I special made this one," said the creature. "All you have to do is drag it to the right spot."

"Where is the right spot?" asked Lucca.

"Unfortunately, you must ascend Death Peak, located on the lower portion of this continent."

"Death Peak?" asked Marle.

"Ever since Lavos burst forth from the crust in 1999 A.D., he has buried himself inside a mountain south of here. Due to his size and mass, he warps space and time. The very tip of Death Peak would be perfect to set up a time freeze. Oh that reminds me. Hand over the Chrono Trigger and tell me the year you want it to set up the freeze in."

"Okay," said Marle. She withdrew the egg-shaped object and handed it to the blue creature. He looked it over and walked to a workbench. He picked up a black, scanner-like object and held it up to the Chrono Trigger.

"What year?" he asked.

"12,000 A.D.," said Marle.


"Ocean Palace."

"I need latitude and longitude coordinates," replied the creature.

"By my calculations, they would be X: 53 degrees, Y: 34 degrees, Z: 0.002 degrees," said Robo.

The creature nodded and waved the scanner over the egg. It glowed blue and then stopped. "It is all set. Now you must climb Death Peak. Keep the Crono clone safe until you reach the top."

"Okay," said Marle. She took back the egg and bowed in front of the blue creature.

"One more thing," he said. "I have fulfilled all that Belthasar has programmed me to do. Please turn me off. The switch is on my stomach."

Marle nodded and touched a red button on the creatures stomach. It became still and silent like a statue.

"Well," said Lucca. "I guess we should head for Death Peak."

"Right," said Marle. "Robo, light the way outta here."

"As you wish," said Robo. He turned and walked out of the room, using his lights to penetrate the thick darkness in the next room.

Death Peak stood five miles tall into the atmosphere of the earth. Its snowy top pierced the thick blanket of clouds that blocked out the sun. Its slopes were treacherous and rocky. Huge crevices warded off any travelers who were lucky enough to make it past the vicious winds that swept the base of the mountain.

The Epoch soared across the open plain, approaching the unforgiving mountain. Huge lightning bolts erupted from the clouds. Small tornadoes tossed around dust that came too close to the flying time machine.

"My sensors indicate we should land," said Robo, still hanging onto the Crono clone. "Those tornadoes will clog the instruments of the Epoch."

Lucca nodded. "Yeah, you're right," she said. "From here on in we walk." She gently eased forward on the control stick, bringing the time machine lower. She decreased the throttle power and brought it to a halt, landing in the barren plain.

She popped the bubble dome and climbed out. Marle climbed down the ladder, and Robo carefully eased the clone out of the vehicle.

"Would ya look at that?" asked Lucca, gesturing towards Death Peak. It towered above them, stretching far above the clouds. Lightning blasts rumbled across the sky, forewarning anyone who dared challenge the mountain.

"C'mon!" said Marle. "We're so close to getting Crono back!" She walked across the plain and headed for the base of the mountain. Lucca charged after her, and Robo tried the best he could to keep up with them.

They reached the almost vertical base of Death Peak. A tall cliff extended for a good fifty feet upwards, acting like a barrier. "How are we supposed to climb that?" asked Lucca.

"Allow me," said Robo, putting down the clone. He took a step back and raised his laser cannon. It hummed to life, glowing with a green energy.

In the space of a few seconds, the robot made several dozen strategic blasts in the face of the cliff. The blast sights dropped huge pieces of rock to the base, forming footholds and crevices for the trio to ascend.

"These blast points should enable us to climb the cliff," he said.

"Amazing," said Marle. She walked to the first crevice. She placed her foot in it and reached upward. Slowly but surely, she ascended the face of the cliff, holding tight to the Chrono Trigger at her waist.

Lucca followed in her path. She tied a rope to the clone to ease Robo's job of lugging it up the side of the mountain. Together they supported the false Crono as they climbed upwards.

Powerful and foreboding winds continually gushed downward, trying to knock the three warriors from their thin holds. Marle clenched her teeth. This is ten times worse than Mt. Woe was.

After several minutes of climbing, they reached the top of the cliff. The princess helped Robo and Lucca lug the false Crono to the point they were at. They took a break for a minute. Marle looked up at the steep climb in front of them.

"We've got a long way to go," she said.

"Well, let's get moving," said Lucca.

Robo picked up the clone and nodded. Marle led the way.

After what seemed to be several days of climbing, the trio made it to the near top of the mountain. They had just passed the thick cloud lair. The ground was several miles below. One false step meant certain doom. Winds intensified, forcing them to put all of their energy in every step as they climbed.

They came to a flat point a half mile from the top of the mountain. Lucca knelt down in the icy snow, breathing intensely. She threw her head back and fell. The sky above was blue and clean. The sun shone brightly now that they had penetrated the cloud layer.

"I never thought I'd be so happy to see that sun," she said.

Marle panted as she pulled herself over the edge and gasped for breath. Robo came up next, faithfully carrying the Crono clone without complaint.

"We're so close now," said Marle. "Let's not give up."

"Wait a minute," said Lucca. "How are we supposed to know when we hit the spot where the time and space warp is?"

Marle looked at her, then lowered her head. "Well, we... I guess we don't know..."

Robo looked back and forth. "There is a strong disturbance in the time and space continuum directly ahead," he said.

"Where?" asked Lucca.

"In that cave." He pointed to a dark cavern directly ahead. Icicles hung downward, making a false row of teeth at the rim.

"Well, I guess we should go in," said Marle. "Come on!"

She led the charge into the cavern. She stopped and waited for Robo to illuminate its dark and icy interior. He turned on his lights and looked back and forth.

"Wow," said Lucca. The entire cave was comprised of ice. It glittered brightly upon contact with the robot's light sensors. Sparkles set off across the walls like an infinite number of diamonds, stretching as far as the eye could see.

"My sensors indicate that the disturbance is not far from here," said Robo. "Let us press onward."

Marle led the way through the icy cave, stepping over holes and crevices. She snapped off icicles that barred her way.

Finally the trio arrived in a large room. It stretched thirty feet high and very wide. Several icicles hung from the ceiling.

"This is it," said Robo.

An inhuman roar filled the cavern. It shook the bits of ice and the precarious spikes high ahead. It sounded vaguely familiar.

"No, it can't be..."

Robo shined the light on the source of the roar.

A scaled-down version of Lavos sat before them. It was ten feet tall and had a full set of spikes as well as its single eye.

"It must be a spawn of Lavos!" said Marle.

The creature did not wait for her to attack. Several pores between the spikes on its back opened up and released a volley of fire into the air. They did not go high, but instead landed downwards on the three warriors.

Marle took cover behind a group of icicles. Robo hid the clone, and Lucca stood at the entrance to the room, loading up her rifle. The blasts of fire impacted the icy floor, melting it instantly.

The princess formed an ice ball in her hands. She swung it over the icicles and threw it directly at the open eye of the creature. It snapped and crackled as it covered the entire eye in a thick block of ice.

"I got him!" said Marle.

A muffled roar came from within the block. It shattered, throwing fragments around the entire room. The beast growled again. Several of the needles from its back flew outward, raining down on the princess.

She ducked and rolled as the lethal spears shattered the icicles that protected her. She stood in the mouth of the cave with Lucca.

"His skin is too thick for ice!" said the princess.

"That rules out my gun," said Lucca.

Robo hobbled over to their side. "Allow me to try my laser cannon," he said. He raised his arm and aimed it at the thick skin of the Lavos spawn.

With a whine and a groan, the cannon shot out a thick, green beam. It hit the shell. After a few seconds of exposure, it began to glow.

"It's breaking through!"

The monster roared and released another blast of red-hot molten rock. The trio scattered behind a group of icicles, dodging the lethal rain.

"I cannot concentrate the beam long enough on the shell," said Robo.

"Then we'll have to hit it right in the eye," said Marle. "But with what?"

"Wait," said Lucca. "Robo, hold out your fist."

"Certainly," said the robot. He held out the hand without the laser cannon and presented it to Lucca.

The young scientist raised her hand in the air. A red glow filled the room as she formed an orb of fire in her palm. It grew bigger and bigger.

"I'm going to heat up your hand," said Lucca. "The metal will be so hot that you can punch the monster's eye right in like a hot knife through butter." She dropped the large orb on his hand. She held it there for several seconds, then let it go.

Robo's fist glowed bright red. He held it up and observed it. "My nerves are slowly melting," he said.

"Hurry up and whack the thing before it cools down!" said Marle.

Robo beeped affirmatively and jumped over the icicles. He crossed the floor to the unsuspecting Lavos spawn as fast as he could. The beast opened its shiny, opaque eye and looked at the oncoming metal creature.

The robot rammed his heated fist into the open eye of the young Lavos. It broke through the thin skin that covered it. A hot, purple liquid bubbled out. The creature screamed with a rage and released several spikes from its back.

"Run, Robo!" said Lucca.

The robot nodded and withdrew his fist from the shattered eye of the creature. He turned and ran as the monster released all it had.

"I'm gonna finish him off!" said Lucca. She spread her arms wide and stood before the blinded monster. A large orb of fire surrounded her entire body. It began to grow.

"She's using Dalton's flare spell!" said Marle.

There was a tremendous boom in the cavern. Lucca's fire orb flared up intensely, encompassing the entire room. It melted right through the thick skin of the Lavos spawn. The blast radiated to the outer edges, vaporizing the ice that hung from the ceiling instantly.

The flare subsided. Marle and Robo looked up. Lucca stood there with singed clothing and hair. "You did it!" said the princess.

"Yeah... I guess I did..."

"Look!" said Robo. He pointed to the ceiling.

Brilliant rays of light shone through a gaping hole. The fresh air of the top of the mountain filled the stale cave.

"You broke through to the peak!" said Marle. "Let's get up there and activate the Chrono Trigger!"

Robo picked up the clone. He pulled the scorched shell of the Lavos spawn over to form a ladder to the hole in the ceiling.

Marle stood at the very tip of Death Peak. The thick layer of clouds was far below. The sun shone brilliantly above. Few winds swept the peak, leaving an eerie calm to the environment about them. A withered old tree grew out of the rock.

"This is the summit of Death Peak," said Robo, holding the lifeless clone.

"Even life can grow at this dismal altitude," said Lucca, gesturing to the tree.

The princess ignored her comment and unhooked the Chrono Trigger from her waist. She pulled the egg-shaped object out of the pouch and held it in front of the tree. Its blue aura made a brilliant light at the top of the peak. A silence fell over the trio.

"All who fear the night and stand against the darkness... give us strength!" said the princess. She held the Trigger high in the air.

It floated for several seconds, glowing brightly. Finally its brilliance was so powerful that none of the party could stand it.

With a loud popping sound, it shattered. The fragments floated to the ground.

Marle opened her eyes and looked at the pieces of the Chrono Trigger. "No..."

"Marle..." said Lucca. "I'm... sorry. I know how you felt about him..."

"I feel a blankness in my circuits for him," said Robo.

The princess sunk to her knees in the soft snow. "We've come so far... It can't end like this for him! It just can't!" She fully immersed herself in the snow. Tears poured from her eyes as she bitterly wept for the lost Crono.

Lucca wiped a tear from her eye. She noticed a dark shadow in the rim of her glasses. She looked up at the sky.

"Wow," she said. A black orb was floating in front of the sun. "An eclipse."

"But the lunar calendar says that an eclipse is not due for another few months," said Robo.

The sky grew dark. The peak was enveloped in a blackness.

The freezing cold of the snow disappeared from Marle's body. Instead, she felt a different, more empty cold. She halted her crying for a second and looked up.

"Oh my God..." she said. "It worked!"

"It sure did," said Lucca.

The icy Death Peak had been replaced with the bluish blur of the time warp that surrounded Lavos at the Ocean Palace.

Another form of Marle lay unconscious on the ground. Frog's inanimate body was sprawled out beside the others. Magus lay face down. Schala was at her knees, drooping. Queen Zeal stood on top of Lavos's shell with her hand in the air. Crono stood in front of the beast's eye, preparing a luminaire spell.

None of the figures moved at all.

"They're frozen in time!" said Lucca.

"We've created a real time freeze!" said Robo.

"We can replace Crono with the clone and no one will know!" said the young scientist.

Marle shakily crossed the inanimate forms of the fallen warriors. She was careful not to disturb any of their frozen forms for fear of the time freeze being shut down.

She walked up to Crono and looked at him. His frozen face was full of determination. She wanted so much to rip him away from Lavos there and now.

"Robo," said the princess. "Bring the clone."

The robot complied. He carefully stepped around the inanimate bodies, carrying the clone. He presented it to Marle.

"On the count of three, we grab the real Crono and put this fake one in his position," said the princess.

"Affirmative," said Robo.

"One," said Lucca.

"Two," said Robo.

"Three!" shouted Marle.

The princess pushed Crono out of the way. The robot quickly positioned the clone in his place. Lucca rushed over to the boy's side.

"It's him!" she shouted. "Let's get the hell outta here before they all wake up!"

Marle held Crono in her arms. "Yes," she said. "Back to Death Peak."

The scene frozen in time vanished.


He could hear the heavenly voice clear as a bell.


It sounded again. Had he died and gone to heaven? Had he been vaporized by Lavos?

"Crono... it's you!"

He felt a pair of arms surrounding him. The cold air was replaced by someone's warm embrace. He opened his eyes.

A familiar, blonde-haired girl was hugging him tightly. He pushed his head back to get a look at her face.

"Welcome back, Crono," said Marle.

He looked around. He was sitting against a withered tree. A thin blanket of snow covered a rocky peak. Clouds were far below, and the sun shone brightly in the sky.

Was he not just about to fight Lavos? Was he not just in the depths of the Ocean Palace, distracting the fearsome beast while his friends escaped?

"Good to see you, kid," said Lucca.

"I am overjoyed also," said Robo.

"Oh Crono," said Marle. She was crying, but also full of joy at the same time. "You won't believe what happened. First we... and then we... and finally..."

Crono was overwhelmed. He looked at the princess. He felt a sudden sense of discomfort in her. She slowly loosened her grip on him and began to pull away. Marle felt a bit awkward, showing her affection for him in front of the other two.

"Um..." said Marle.

Not again! he said to himself. Just like when she was about to kiss me at Guardia Castle!

She stood up and brushed the snow off of her. "C'mon!" she said loudly. "Let's go get Lavos!"

Marle turned and began walking down the mountain. Robo and Lucca followed her.

The princess turned around and looked at the young lad who still sat against the tree, baffled beyond belief.

"Come on!" said the princess. "We're so close to the end now! You just sit there like a big lump!"

The boy shook his head and started down the mountain after her.

The End of Time was quiet and peaceful as usual. Frog sat on the ground with Ayla, chatting idly to each other. Gaspar sat next to the lamppost, sleeping softly. His brown hat covered his eyes, and his cane was on the ground next to him.

A loud crack of thunder filled the air. Gaspar felt his hat being blown off. It tumbled into the garden of light.

"What the...?"

He saw the Epoch soar through the air. It had just come through the time barrier, and was now gliding smoothly towards the square with the lamppost. It stopped in mid-air, then slowly touched down on the ground.

Frog and Ayla jumped up. They rushed to the Guru of Time's side and fought to control themselves. They all wondered if the Chrono Trigger had worked.

The bubble dome opened with a hiss. Lucca stepped over the edge and walked down the rungs on the side of the ship. She stood at the bottom and folded her arms.

"Well?" asked Frog.

Robo jumped down next and waited next to Lucca.

"Where Crono?" asked Ayla.

Marle slid down the rungs and stood with her arms folded.

"Did my device work?" asked Gaspar.

"Judge for yourself," said Marle. She gestured towards the cockpit.

A figure leapt from the cockpit and stood in front of Marle, Lucca, and Robo. He looked at Gaspar, Frog, and Ayla. His red punk hairdo bounced as he landed.

"Crono!" said Ayla.

"Good to see thee again, lad," said Frog. "I hath something." The amphibian handed him the amulet that he had found on the coast after the battle with Magus. "It shall protect thee in the future."

"So," said Gaspar, "it looks like you were successful."

Marle walked in front of Crono. "Yes, thank you so much."

"Don't thank me," said the old man. "I just gave you a place to start and an egg. If you really want to thank me, you'll make me a member of your team."

Lucca snorted.

"Now that you have retrieved your friend, nothing is left but to face Lavos himself," said the Guru.

Crono nodded. He was ready.

"We've conquered every monster we've come across so far," said Marle. "We're more than ready to take on Lavos."

"I'm ready to get him," said Lucca. "He doesn't stand a chance against all the firepower I'm packing!"

"Lavos is inhuman and not of this earth," said Frog. "He is the ultimate beast to slay."

"Lavos destroy Ayla's way of life!" said the prehistoric woman. "Me make sure he no destroy world again!"

"He destroyed my masters and the people I served," said Robo. "Although I am incapable of perceiving revenge, I must follow my human masters even to their deaths."

"So then it is settled," said Gaspar. "Many paths lie open to you. You can use the bucket with the crystal over there to take you directly to 1999 A.D. when he breaks forth from the earth." He pointed to the strange bucket with the crystal. "Or you can fly the Wings of Time to the Day of Lavos. There's also the Black Omen. Lavos is somehow connected to it through Zeal's power."

"The Black Omen?" asked Marle.

"The Black Omen is the giant metal mountain you saw arise from the ocean before you came here," said Gaspar. "It is the resurrected Ocean Palace. It exists in all eras, even in the Middle Ages, the Present, the apocalypse, and the future. If Zeal was to be thwarted in the Black Omen, you could open a direct link to Lavos and destroy him with relative ease before he even bursts forth from the crust."

"I guess we should try going through the Black Omen then," said Lucca.

"Queen Zeal was actually killed at the Ocean Palace disaster. Her body, mind, and soul are under Lavos's control, making her seem immortal. If her body were destroyed, her spirit would be free and Lavos may lose his grip on this world. But defeating Zeal will not be easy. Her powers are far beyond anyone you ever faced. You will need sufficient weaponry and armor if you are to defeat her."

"Where are we supposed to get some then?" asked Marle.

The old man smiled. "From my vantage point here I have had visions of places and people who will empower you. In the future, there is a task to be completed in the place where the machines are controlled. In the Middle Ages, there is a special item which is a beautiful sight but also blocks the most powerful of magic. There is a swordsman in the present who can fashion a blade that could pierce the heart of the very essence of evil. Last but definitely not least, there is a brilliant object which casts an eternal glow upon every generation.

"Now I bid my last farewell. Just as you touch the lives of every life form you meet, so, too, will their energy strengthen you. Fail to live up your potential, and you will never win... I am sorry that I must simply witness the coming spectacle from my vantage point here..."

Wordlessly, Crono, Marle, Lucca, Frog, Ayla, and Robo climbed into the Epoch. Crono took the controls like a pro and started up the engine. He lifted the time machine off of the ground and zoomed across the sky.

"What date should we put in?" asked Marle.

"The Queen will least expect us in the year 1999 A.D. Set it for twelve hours before Lavos erupts."

Crono nodded and set the number into the pad. He hit the red button. The Epoch lurched forth and flew through time.

XVII: The Fated Hour

The world was quite peaceful. Luscious, green grass covered the entire planet. Proud mountains jutted up into the air, reaching for the clouds. Highways divided the plains, stretching from city to city. Giant domes stood out on the land like spectacular monuments. Sparkling oceans surrounded the lands. One giant, black mountain hovered over the crystal blue water, waiting.

In twelve hours, it would all end unless something was done.

The Epoch slashed through the time barrier and emerged in the thick white clouds. A vapor trail followed it as it streaked across the sky, heading towards the giant Black Omen.

"There it is," said Lucca, watching over Crono's shoulder as he piloted. "The Black Omen. The funnel of all Lavos's power here on earth. Queen Zeal's throne."

"How can we board that monstrosity?" asked Frog.

"You'd better worry about getting there first," said Marle. She pointed to the radar on the console.

A swarm of red blips appeared at the edge of the screen. They moved increasingly closer to the blue dot that represented the Epoch.

"Fighters," said Robo.

"Crono, get out of the pilot seat," said Lucca.

The boy did not bother to put up a fight. He knew Lucca too long.

She hopped in his place and strapped herself in. She flicked several switches and watched the weapon systems power up.

"This is Red Five, I'm going in!" she shouted as she pushed forward on the throttle.

The Epoch soared through the clouds and beared down on the fighters. The pesky, smaller ships increased in speed as they headed towards the time machine.

The smaller ships were strangely shaped. They had three bent wings that jutted out from a central column. Two laser cannons were welded under the cockpit pod. A missile launcher was located on the top.

Lucca did not hesitate to arm her targeting systems. She used the cross-hairs to lock on to one of the fighters. It bleeped red for a second. "Fire!" she said as she pushed down on the red button on the control stick.

Several short, red bursts erupted from the twin laser cannons under the Epoch. They lanced out and tore into the oncoming fighter. It exploded into a brilliant fireball as it fell downwards.

"You got him!" said Marle.

The swarm of fighters caught up to the flying time machine. They surrounded it on all sides, firing short green bursts of energy. Powerful shields protected the Epoch from damage as Lucca searched for a way out.

"They're all over!" shouted the young scientist.

She pulled downwards through the fray. A trio of fighters followed her move and slid through the swarm. They fired several green shots at her.

"The shields can't take this much punishment!" said Lucca.

A red missile shot out of the lead fighter's cannon and homed in on the Epoch. It impacted on the time machine and shorted out the back shields.

"Rear deflectors are gone!" said Robo.

"Epoch too slow!" said Ayla.

"Head for the Black Omen!" said Marle. "We'll make a break for it!"

"Right!" said Lucca. She increased the throttle to maximum and flicked several switches. She drained the energy from the lasers and pumped it into the engines. The Epoch soared across the clouds, heading for the giant black mountain.

Frog turned around and looked out the rear of the bubble dome. The fighters were slowly going farther and farther away as they tried to keep up with the flying time machine. "The pursuers are falling behind," he said.

"Good!" said Lucca. "Robo, switch all power to front deflectors so we can survive an attack from the Omen!"

"Copy," said Robo. He reached over the front seat and adjusted several settings on the control panel.

The Epoch was several kilometers from the Black Omen. Already, the weapon systems of the giant black mountain were locking onto the incoming craft. They charged up their laser batteries and aimed at the time machine.

Lucca looked at the display panel on the console. It showed the weapons batteries targeting the Epoch. She flicked several switches. Bright, red brackets surrounded all of the laser emplacements on the Black Omen.

"I'm going to take out all the guns on the facing side," she said. She adjusted the flight stick and locked on to one of the turrets.

She pushed the button. Bursts of laser fire shot out of the cannons and impacted on one of the guns. It lit up in a brilliant fireball.

"There goes one," said Marle.

The Black Omen opened fire on the tiny craft coming in. Lucca swerved back and forth to avoid the bursts of laser fire all around her.

"I can't hit all the guns before I run into the Omen!" she said.

"We'll have to blast our way inside!" said Marle.

"What?" shrieked Ayla.

"I got you," said Lucca. "Arming torpedoes."

"This is irrational!" said Robo.

Lucca aimed the targeting cross-hairs at a smooth, black point in the giant metal mountain. She pulled the trigger.

Two bright projectiles flew out from the Epoch. They made a straight line for the surface of the Omen. In an instant, the metal skin was torn open, revealing a large entranceway for them.

"I'm taking her in!" said Lucca. She pushed downward on the control stick and cut her speed. The laser bursts continued to pound the ship.

The Epoch zoomed into the gaping hole created by the torpedoes. Lucca brought it to a grinding halt. Everyone inside the ship was jerked against their harnesses.

Lucca picked her head up off of the console. "Is everyone okay?" she asked.

"I'm here," said Marle.

"I hath made it," said Frog.

"Ayla okay," said the prehistoric woman.

Crono raised his hand.

"I am not," said Robo.

Lucca unstrapped her harness and turned around. "What happened?"

"My circuits have been jarred by the impact," he said. "I cannot fight to my maximum potential."

"Robo..." said Lucca.

"I shall stay behind in the Epoch."

"Robo, if worse comes to worse, take the ship and destroy the Omen," said the young scientist. "Just fly out of this hole and head for the main core. It's somewhere under the mountain."

"Yes, Lucca," he said.

Crono stood up and popped the bubble dome. He withdrew his sword and motioned for the others to follow him.

They walked down the ladder on the side of the Epoch and looked around. Everyone's jaw hung open in amazement.

They stood on a thin bridge that led from the wall of the Black Omen to a central column. Molten rivers of metal poured out of fountains from above. Columns of metal supported the huge infrastructure of the floating mountain. Hundreds of projections crossed back and forth above. No solid ground could be seen inside the Black Omen. It was all one big open hole, waiting to swallow someone up.

"It looks like Hell's parallel of Zeal Palace," said Marle.

"They hath hollowed out the entire Ocean Palace," said Frog.

In the center of the floating mountain was a large column that stretched up to the ceiling, many thousands of feet above. A circular disk traveled up and down the column.

"That must be the elevator," said the princess. "It would probably take us right to Zeal."

"Let's get going!" said Lucca.

Crono held his sword at the ready and charged across the wide walkway towards the column.

After several minutes of running, two figures descended from above. They were identical. They had short, yellow wings. They had the feet of birds, the arms of a gorilla, and the head of a wolf.

Lucca wasted no time in forming a fireball in the palm of her hand. She hurled it through the air and hit one of the flying beasts in the chest.

It grabbed the ball of fire in its bare hand. It crushed it, seemingly absorbing its energy.

"It's impervious to magic!" said Marle. "Use your weapons!"

Frog charged towards the beast. He leapt through the air and cut through the wing of one of the beasts with his Masamune. It roared as it landed on the floor.

With a tremendous roar, the monster released a gust of wind. The entire party was nearly blown off of the walkway. They struggled to hang on.

Ayla stood up under the intense wind and readied her lance. With a deadly eye, she hurled the projectile through the air and pierced the heart of the winged monster. It convulsed and fell to the floor, growling.

"I got it!" said the prehistoric woman.

The other beast roared at the sight of its fallen comrade. It flew through the air, it's claws extended.

Marle shot an arrow through the air with her new crossbow. It lanced out like a beam of light and tore through the monster's wing. It fell to the floor and turned around.

"He's mine!" said Lucca. She raised her new rifle and aimed at the beast. She pulled the trigger.

The blast was not spectacular. It fizzled out as it crossed the walkway, not even damaging the beast.

"What the...?"

Crono sneered as he held out his sword. He dashed across the walkway and raised it high in the air. Like a flash of lightning, he cut threw the monster again and again. He moved so quickly that the beast did not see him. The new sword sliced through the flesh like it was thin air. By the time Crono was done, he had cut dozens of deep gashes in the monster. Bleeding profusely, it fell to the floor and groaned.

"That takes care of those goons," said Lucca. "Let's move on!"

Crono put his sword back in his sheath and dashed across the walkway. The group followed him, carrying their weapons.

After another few minutes of running, they encountered a strange creature. It was a purple eye that had wings.

"What is it?" asked Marle.

Without warning, two identical creatures sprouted out from its side.

"Get to work!" said Lucca.

"Kill small eyes first!" said Ayla.

Crono withdrew his rainbow saber and charged at one of the smaller eyes. He swung it through the air and brought it down on the creature. His sword sliced right through it. Apparently, he had done no damage to the small creature.

Marle turned to the other small eye. She loaded up one of her new arrows and pulled back the trigger. She took careful aim and released. The projectile sailed through the air and straight through the small eye.

"They're invincible!" said Lucca.

The larger eye that had spawned two of its kind bounced up and down. It opened its pupil wide and glowed. A burst of fire swept the platform. The warriors felt the intense heat wash over their protective armor given to them by Gaspar.

"If we attack the small creatures," said Frog, "we will be attacked by the larger creature. Attack the large one!"

Crono did not need to be told twice. He leapt away from the smaller eye and turned to the larger one. He held his rainbow saber at the ready. The eye turned to stare at him. The boy punctured the pupil of the monster with his blade.

The creature roared and collapsed into a loose puddle. Crono withdrew his blade and turned to the other eyes. They seemed to fade out of existence.

"That takes care of them," said Marle.

Frog turned to look at the bridge. The large column that was supposedly an elevator was not far away. "Let us proceed! Zeal awaits us!"

Zeal's throne room was quiet. A thick blanket of darkness surrounded the objects scattered throughout the arena-like chamber. A ring of progressive steps surrounded the elevator platform. Several cloaked cylinders lined the top step of the ring. In the center was Zeal's empty throne. Behind it was the red, glowing Mammon Machine. It had been preserved through the ages, and now powered the mighty Black Omen.

In the center of the room, at the bottom of the steps, the floor split into two. With a whine and a hiss, a platform replaced the floor. Five figures stood on it with their weapons at the ready.

Crono, Marle, Lucca, Frog, and Ayla were tense as they looked around the room. They waited silently for their enemy to arrive.

"It is too quiet," said Marle, scanning the room with her crossbow. A gentle light bathed the throne.

"Fools!" said a voice.

The party turned to the throne. The light in front of it became distorted, and a figure was teleported in. She had long, flowing robes with bluish hair. Her face was mangled, and her pupils were replaced with red slits. She raised an arm.

"Ever since the Ocean Palace, Lavos has given me immortality," said Queen Zeal. "I have lived for several thousand years. Within an hour, he will awaken. He will destroy this world with a rain of fire. It is destiny in its most brutal form. All the dreams, sorrows, and happiness created by all of humanity shall be wiped away in the space of several minutes. Gone forever. The Black Omen transcends space and time. Lavos has led you here. He will keep you here, unless you defeat me and smash my fortress. But you won't even get a shot at me!"

Crono withdrew his saber.

"Since all of you have transcended time, my minions have been able to take samples of you," she said. "You have not even noticed. I have used these samples to create your worst nightmare."

"Samples?" asked Lucca.

Zeal raised her hand. Five lights flickered on, revealing the contents of the clear, liquid-filled cylinders that lined the top row of the steps.

They were all horrified. One tank contained a perfect copy of Crono. One had a duplicate of Marle. One housed a double of Lucca. Another held a copy of Frog. In yet another tank was a drifting parallel of Ayla.

"I have used your DNA and Belthasar's technology to create clones of you!" said Zeal. "They have been altered to fight stronger and harder than you. They have each been taught magic, too."

The liquid in the tanks was drained out. The clones woke up. The glass tube was drawn up into the ceiling, permitting them to move. They started walking down the steps towards the huddled warriors on the elevator platform.

"Now I shall watch perhaps the most interesting battle of all time!" said Zeal.

The Crono clone looked at his counterpart. The real Crono withdrew his rainbow sword and waved it back and forth. The copy mimicked him, ready to do battle. The boy charged forth and clashed swords with the fake. He felt as if he were looking right into a mirror.

"Marle, duck!" shouted Lucca.

The princess stopped watching the battle between the two Cronos. She turned to the side and saw her copy aiming a crossbow at her.

Lucca tackled her, knocking her out of the path of the projectile. It soared through the air and stuck into the steps on the opposite side of the room. The clone cursed her luck and shouldered her crossbow.

"Thanks, Lucca," said Marle.

A laser beam soared over their heads. Lucca looked up to see her clone standing at the top of the steps with a rifle trained down at them.

"Run!" she shouted.

The two girls dashed up the stairs, dodging the shots from the clone's laser rifle. They singed the steps, creating large black spots as the deadly beams missed their targets.

Frog stared at his duplicate, who was standing on the steps with his sword unsheathed. They locked eyes. The real Frog withdrew his Masamune and waved it back and forth. He held it down, ready to charge.

"Prepare to experience the might of the Masamune!" said Frog.

"Not even a legendary sword can save you!" said the clone.

The real amphibian charged forth and locked blades with the clone. They released their lock on each other and clashed again. They repeated it several times, trying to slice through their blades to reach the enemy's heart. They locked swords at the side. The duplicate kicked Frog in the stomach, knocking the wind from him and sending him down the stairs. The clone charged after him.

Ayla looked around the room for her enemy. She waved her lance back and forth, scanning the steps. She seemed to be nowhere in sight.

The prehistoric woman felt a thud from above. She was knocked to the floor in a flash. A woman in a purple bikini had descended from the ceiling and now had her in a chin lock. Ayla felt her neck being torn apart.

Crono locked swords again and again with his clone. He tried to take advantage of a momentary pause to form a bolt of lightning, but he did not have enough time. He wanted to yell out in rage against his enemy.

The clone laughed in his face. "What's the matter boy? Too stupid to talk?"

The boy raised his sword and prepared to strike the duplicate.

The clone pushed his palm on Crono's stomach and released an intense blast of lightning. He felt himself tumbling back down the steps. He remembered again what it was like to actually feel pain in a battle.

"Duck!" said Marle.

Lucca fell to the floor as soon as she saw an ice orb erupt from the fake Marle's hands. It soared through the air and over her head, crashing into the steps behind her. A thick coating of ice covered the steps.

Marle was currently dodging blasts from the clone Lucca's laser rifle. She shakily tried to load the arrow on her own bow as she danced back and forth. The beams desperately lanced out, trying to kill her.

The clone Marle took her eyes off of the real Lucca and turned to the fake. "Clone Three!" she said.

"What is it, Clone Two?" asked the fake Lucca, still snapping off shots at the real Marle.

"Let's form an antipode and take care of these two!" said the fake Marle.

"Good idea!" said the fake Lucca. She shouldered her rifle.

The real Lucca gasped as she stepped back.

"Lucca!" said Marle. "Let's try and match their strength!"

The real Lucca held out the rifle she got from Gaspar. "No, Marle. I'll take them both myself!"


God I hope it gets a good shot this time, thought the young scientist. She held out the rifle.

The two clones raised their arms in the air. The Marle formed an ice ball twice the size of her counterpart's standard. The fake Lucca became enveloped with an orb of fire. They held out their hands, ready to concentrate their opposite powers into a ball of potential destructive energy.

The real Lucca pulled the trigger on her rifle. Nothing happened.

"Aw, God dammi..."

An ear-shattering boom filled the chamber. A huge beam of energy that was eight feet wide erupted from the nozzle of the gun. It streaked across the room and instantly disintegrated the two clones that were preparing their antipode attack.

Lucca held her gun, dumbfounded. "How come it didn't do that before?"

Ayla was still pinned down by her clone. Her duplicate was pulling harder and harder upwards on her jaw, trying to break her neck. She smiled, eagerly anticipating the snapping sound that would accompany the prehistoric woman's death.

The real Ayla spotted her lanced not a foot away. She reached for it with a gaping hand, trying to bring it within her grasp.

"Die, Ayla!" said the clone.

With one last bit of energy, the real prehistoric woman grabbed her lance. She gripped it firmly and swung it around. The broad side of the weapon smacked the clone in her cranium. She lost her concentration and her grip on the real Ayla's neck.

The real prehistoric woman jumped up and swung her lance forward. It dug deep inside the clone and popped out the other side.

"No one ever get drop on Ayla!"

Frog battled back and forth with his adversary. They clashed again and again with their swords, trying to slice each other's side open.

"Putrid amphibian!" said the clone.

"No copy is as good as the original," said Frog, pushing back on his enemy's sword, trying to cut the duplicate.

The clone laughed and prepared to kick the real amphibian.

"I don't fall for the same trick twice!" said Frog. He kicked the duplicate before he himself was tricked. The clone fell to his knees, the wind knocked out of him.

Frog raised the Masamune in the air and brought it directly down on his kneeling counterpart. The blade sliced through him cleanly, leaving him cleaved in half.

Crono stood on the stairs, rapidly exchanging blows with the clone. They walked in circles, each one trying to find an open spot to move in and make the kill. Each one tried to concentrate his own lightning powers into a final and devastating blow.

"Give up, kid!" said the clone.

Crono held his mouth in check, clashing again and again with his counterpart.

"How come you don't talk?" asked the duplicate. "You stupid or something?"

The real Crono became enraged. He slashed viciously at his enemy.

"I say, you oughta stop being so retarded and learn English!"

Crono had enough. He raised his sword in the air and readied himself for a strike.

The clone opened his palm, revealing fingertips filled with dazzling sparks. He closed his fists and aimed for Crono's stomach.

The boy sucked his stomach in just enough to avoid the blast. He put his sword back in a defensive position.

The clone locked swords with him again, pressing forward. He used all of his might to break the hold.

Crono smiled. He simply pushed down on his opponent's sword. The sheer metallic makeup of the rainbow sword began to cut through the steel of the clone's blade.

"What gives?" he asked.

The boy pushed downward, effectively slicing the duplicate's saber in half. The clone was amazed. He looked at the boy in shock.

Crono wasted no time in cleaving him at the waist. His adversary fell to the ground, separated at mid-section.

The five warriors left their counterparts and regrouped at the elevator platform at the bottom of the rings of steps.

Queen Zeal stood in front of the Mammon Machine with an open jaw.

"I... can't believe it..." she said. "Those clones were perfect! They were stronger than the original."

"But they didn't have the awesome firepower of the Guru of Time!" said Lucca, loading up her rifle.

The Queen laughed. "Fools," she said. "Those clones you faced were for my mere entertainment. I shall give you no mercy. Prepare to die!"

"Frog!" whispered Marle.

The amphibian turned to face the princess. "Yes?" he asked.

"Use your sword on the Mammon Machine!" said Marle. "They're both made of the same red rock. You should be able to destroy it and break Lavos's hold over Zeal!"

Frog withdrew his Masamune. "Tis over for you, Zeal!" he said.

The old hag turned to him laughed again. "So, puny frog," she said. "You have survived the Ocean Palace disaster to return here again and challenge me. You cannot defeat me when the Mammon Machine is with me." She gestured to the pulsating statue behind her which was absorbing Lavos's energy. "So be it! You get the first shot!"

Frog smiled. "It will be enough!" He raised his legendary blade high in the air. He charged up the stairs, heading for Zeal.

She laughed and teleported out of his way.

Frog did not seem to care. He leapt onto the throne, then over it. He landed on top of the Mammon Machine. He felt the raw energy penetrate him.

"Now it is time to turn off this infernal contraption!" said the amphibian.

Zeal teleported to the other side of the steps. She looked back at Frog who had his Masamune high in the air, pointing downwards. "No!" she shouted.

He thrust the sword deep into the statue's head. It split down the center, releasing a flowing wave of energy. The red light emitting from the statue was unbearable. The five warriors closed their eyes, trying to protect themselves from the blast.

The Black Omen rumbled. Everything went dark.

Crono opened his eyes. The throne room of the Black Omen had vanished. The dead bodies of the clones were far away. The tanks were gone. The Mammon Machine was far away. It was probably in shambles.

Instead of the throne room, Crono could see a thick curtain of stars all around him. Not far off, he could see the spinning hemisphere of the Earth, far beneath the massive fortress of the Black Omen. A gentle blue haze radiated from the surface.

"Where are we?" asked Lucca.

Crono looked at his feet. The five warriors found themselves standing on a smooth, circular platform high atop the Black Omen about two hundred feet wide. A black crystal stood in the middle of the circular peak, glowing with blue energy.

"This must be the very top of the Omen," said Frog.

Crono heard a whooshing in his ear. He tore his gaze from the planet far below and turned around.

Several feet above the black crystal floated Queen Zeal. Her robes blew violently in the wind. Her eyes were full of red rage.

"Cretins..." she said. "Now that you have destroyed the Mammon Machine, the Black Omen will cease to exist in a matter of minutes. The Mammon Machine drew energy from Lavos, supplying my entire fortress with power. Since it is gone, it will not be able to stay afloat for more than fifteen minutes. We will all vanish together in the ocean below. Except for me. I plan to be immortal and live with Lavos forever. Since you have obviously chosen the other path, I must kill you here and now!"

The five warriors readied their weapons.

"You will have to ponder such regrets in the afterlife!" roared the Queen. She held out her hand, ready to begin the battle.

Crono held his hands high in the air. He felt the familiar shock of electricity dance upon his fingertips. He curled his fists. A tremendous bolt of lightning erupted from the sky and coursed through Zeal. She laughed as the energy washed over her.

The Queen put out her hand. A sharp, purple beam came out from her palm. It swept around the flat base of the top of the fortress, then found its mark on Crono. He felt an intense pain shoot through him as the dark shadow energy penetrated his soul.

"Marle!" said Frog.

The princess turned to him. "What?" she asked.

"Let us bury her in ice like we did at the Ocean Palace to the Golem!" he said.

She nodded. She closed her eyes and raised her arms in the air. An intense cold jumped in her palms. She felt it travel through her body.

Frog raised his arms also. An orb of water rose from the ocean far below. It hovered up to the platform and began to fly over the Queen.

Zeal stopped her attack on Crono and smiled. "Do your worst!" she said.

Marle hurled the ice orb at the water bubble over the Queen's head. It hit it, changing it into a large glacier. Frog dropped his arms.

The piece of ice fell downward. Zeal remained motionless as it hit her. Her intense power was enough to melt a hole right through the glacier, preventing her from being harmed.

"It doesn't work!" said Marle.

Zeal laughed. She held out her hand again. This time, several rapid, rectangular sheets of light erupted from the sky. They encircled Marle and Frog, shocking them. They felt the electricity attack their inner bodies, nearly draining them of all their life.

"Lucca..." said Marle. "Heat up Ayla's lance!"

The scientist looked over to the princess. "Right!" She turned to the prehistoric woman, who already had her special lance ready. "Hold that high! I'm gonna put a ball of fire at the tip of it!"

"Good!" said Ayla. She raised her lance.

Lucca hurled a large ball of fire through the air. The prehistoric woman caught it on the tip of her blade, then turned to Zeal.

"Let's see what you've got, ape woman!" said the Queen.

Ayla roared as she charged across the top of the floating metal mountain. She raised her lance and leapt into the air. She shoved it forward, aiming for the wicked Zeal.

She laughed as she teleported out of the way. Ayla fell through the air. The ball of fire fell from the tip of her lance and burned out on the metal. She whirled around to see Zeal teleport back to her original position over the crystal.

"No one can defeat me!" she said. "Prepare to endure my halation spell!"

Zeal raised her arms in the air, laughing like a mad woman. A deep sound filled the air. The five warriors looked up. The sound grew higher in pitch, nearly tearing apart their eardrums. A wave of colors erupted from the Queen. They covered the top of the Black Omen. Their waves penetrated the five warriors, knocking them to the ground. They gasped for air, but all they could feel was the deadly energy of Zeal's spell.

The Queen stopped her spell. The waves disappeared. Crono, Marle, Lucca, Frog, and Ayla were on the ground. They had been beaten within an inch of their life. None of them had the strength to move. They gasped for air.

"Now I shall end your miserable lives!" said the Queen.

She raised her arms in the air.

"We can't allow that, mother," said a voice.

Zeal whirled around in horror. At the edge of the top of the mountain floated two shadowy figures. One had blue hair braided up in a knot. She wore a fine, purple gown down to the ground. The other had long, blue hair that flowed freely. He had a purple cape and a bronze armor vest. On his back was a scythe.

"Schaha?" said Zeal. "And... the prophet?"

"Yes, mother," said Schala's shadowy form. "We have come to save you from Lavos's grip."

"No!" she said. "You died long ago in the Ocean Palace. You, prophet, you must also have died."

"I am not the prophet..." said the man with the long blue hair. "I am your son, Janus. When I returned to Zeal, I attempted to slay Lavos to prevent this dismal future. Unfortunately, because of my rage, I was killed. Now I realize that revenge is not the answer. Instead, I have decided to take from Lavos what is mine."

"And what is that?" asked Zeal.

"The soul of Queen Zeal," he said. "It has long belonged to Lavos. Her body is only reanimated by his evil power. If I destroy her body, her soul will be free."

Zeal laughed. "You're welcome to try, my son."

"Be careful, brother," said Schala.

Janus laughed. "Now you will fight your ultimate match, Zeal!" He threw back his cape and tightened his glove.

Zeal held out her hand. A black beam of energy arced out from her palm. It soared through the air and headed towards Janus. The beam did not phase him. It simply passed straight through his shadowy form.

"What?" shrieked Zeal.

"Take another shot," said Janus. "You seem to have missed."

The Queen roared. She held out her arms wide. A wave of colors filled the entire platform, enveloping the warlock and his sister. They felt no pain and were unaffected.

"No..." said the Queen. "This can't be! I cannot fight the dead!"

"Indeed," said Janus. "But the dead can fight the living." He crossed his arms in a bizarre pattern. He held out his hand and pointed directly at the Queen.

Three orbs floated out from him. They began to encircle Zeal, spinning faster and faster. Three lines connected the orbs, forming a triangle. A dark mass filled the shape, enveloping the Queen in a black seal.

"Do you hear that?" asked Janus. "It's the sound of the Reaper calling!" He dropped his hand.

A horrible tearing sound filled the air. Zeal felt as if she were being torn apart. The black triangle disappeared, leaving her floating in the air, gasping for breath.

She regained her strength. She raised her arms in the air and stared down Janus and Schala. "Now, fools, I shall put an end to your misery," she said. "You will no longer walk the Earth as lost souls. I will be the ultimate victor, because Lavos is on my side. Prepare to cease to exist!" A massive orb of energy surrounded her.

"Now, Schala!" said Janus.

Schala crossed her arms in a pattern similar to her brother's. A triangular prism encased the Queen. She beat on the sides of it, trying to break free. She concentrated, expanding her orb.

"It will hold..." said Schala.

With nowhere to go, the orb could not expand any more. The intense energy bottled up inside the triangular prism entered Zeal's body. She felt as if she were being torn apart. Finally, with a muted explosion, Zeal was blown away inside the prism.

Schala dropped her hand. The prism disappeared, dropping the ashes that were once Queen Zeal's body. They scattered in the wind, leaving no trace of her.

Crono looked up. He saw the two figures standing, looking at the space where Zeal had floated just several moments ago.

"Crono!" exclaimed Schala. "You're alive."

"Indeed he is," said Frog, who struggled to get up. He turned to Janus's ghastly form. "I congratulate you, Magus. After several thousands of years, you learned that revenge is not the answer. By destroying Zeal's body, you hath saved her soul. She is now free."

Janus nodded. "I am no longer Magus, dear friend," he said. "I am Janus, son of the once great Queen Zeal. Soon she shall rejoin us, and we shall be a happy family for all eternity."

Marle stood up. "Schala, it's good to see you," she said.

The daughter of Zeal nodded. "It is good to see you also, Marle."

Ayla and Lucca stood up, gazing at the ghostly figures.

"We thank you for all you have done for us," said Janus. "Without your help, we would never have regained our mother's soul."

Crono nodded.

The Black Omen rumbled again.

"Oh no," said Lucca. "It's about to fall!"

"No," said Marle. "Worse." She pointed to the ocean far below.

The waters of the ocean parted, revealing the flat, sandy bottom. The sands disappeared. They were slowly replaced by a deep redness. The red grew darker and darker. Finally it became a glowing white.

"He's coming..." said Schala.

Rock, sand, and dirt erupted from the earth and were thrown into the sky. Out of the white-hot lava came a huge ball of spikes. The warriors could see the minuscule eye at the base of the ball of spikes. Lava spewed everywhere, slowly reaching out towards the shoreline far away.

"It's the Day of Lavos," said Lucca. "1999 A.D. We're here to witness it."

Crono watched with amazement. Lavos's shell pushed further upward, eating through the tough crust of the earth.

They had come so far, and now they had failed to beat him in time.

"We've lost..." said Frog.

"No..." said Schala.

"What?" asked Ayla.

"There's still a chance you may be able to beat him," said Janus. "If you could penetrate his tough shell, you could destroy his inner core. He would therefore be powerless."

Crono considered it. He nodded his approval.

"But there's not much time. You would have to break through his shell with a powerful force."

"How?" asked Ayla.

"I believe I know how," said a metallic voice.

The group of warriors turned around. At the edge of the platform floated the Epoch. Robo sat at the controls, trying to keep it level.

"Robo!" shouted Lucca.

"Hurry!" said Schala. "Escape the Omen and destroy Lavos with your time machine! I shall try to control Lavos's destruction while you battle his inner core."

"But what about you?" asked Marle.

"We shall be one with our mother soon," said Janus. "The Omen is about to collapse! Get going, and good luck!"

Crono nodded and turned on his heel. Frog bowed to Janus and followed them. They hopped into the Epoch and closed the bubble dome. Robo pushed forward on the control stick and hit the throttle.

Janus and Schala stood by. They watched the flying time machine zoom downwards through the clouds. The Omen rumbled and began to sink. Finally, they felt together.

XVIII: The Final Battle

Robo flicked several switches on the console of the Epoch. The weapons system display screen activated, showing the lasers and the torpedoes. He held onto the control stick, diving at a steep angle through the clouds.

"This is it!" shouted Marle.

They pulled through the thick blanket of the atmosphere. The ocean sprawled out before them. It boiled intensely from the heat of Lavos. Bursts of flame erupted from his back, raining down across the earth.

"We're almost within firing range!" said Lucca, pointing to the computer.

Robo nodded and flicked several more switches. "Arming torpedoes," he said.

The Epoch spiraled towards the giant beast. It strafed back and forth, dodging the balls of fire being tossed up into the atmosphere.

The robot at the controls grabbed the firing stick. He steadied it, locking onto the giant beast at the bottom of the ocean. The controls bleeped, confirming a lock-on.

"Fire!" said Marle.

Two blue projectiles soared out from under the Epoch. They accelerated towards Lavos at an incredible rate. Traveling through the air, they struck the beast's back, creating a tremendous explosion that could be seen from the sky.

Robo looked at the controls. "Confirming damage..."

The computer screen spat out several numbers and letters. Robo read them over.

"The torpedoes were ineffective," he said grimly. "Lavos's shell is too strong. It would take an impact of an incredible caliber to crack it."

Lucca lowered her head. "It's over," she said.

Crono shook his head. His eyes burned with rage. Deep in his heart, he knew there was still a way to defeat the mighty Lavos.

"Wait!" said Marle. "Crono's right. We've come this far, we're not giving up yet!"

"Me with Marle!" said Ayla.

The boy motioned for Robo to take a backseat. The robot nodded and hopped in the back. Crono jumped up to the controls and snapped in his safety belt.

"What are you going to do, Crono?" asked Frog.

The boy pushed the throttle up to maximum. He pushed downward on the control stick, heading directly for the giant creature.

"You're going to ram him?" asked Lucca.

Crono nodded.

"Epoch can take it," said the young scientist.

"This is the only way we can possibly break through to the core," said Robo.

"I am prepared to die for the world," said Frog.

"Ayla fight to very end!"

Marle placed her hand on Crono's shoulder. "Max it out, buddy," she said. "Put a hole right through him."

Crono flicked several switches, pumping the power from weapons into the thrusters. The Epoch picked up speed as it continued to dive bomb towards Lavos.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the amulet that Frog had given him. He looked it over, then hung it around his neck for good luck.

The controls began to wail. Diodes flashed rapidly, and meters rose. The computer screens warned Crono to turn back from the projected flight course.

The boy only smiled as he pushed the throttle beyond maximum, ignoring the flagrant warning signs going off all over the control panel.

The space outside the cockpit grew red. Friction made the air glow as they dived faster and faster. Blasts of molten rock continued to erupt from the beast's back, trying to break the Epoch. They went faster and faster as they dived.

"Three kilometers to impact!" announced Lucca.

The red was replaced by the walls of the ocean. They entered into a tunnel of water, heading towards the mighty creature at the bottom of the sea. They became closer and closer to Lavos as they dove into the corridor of water.

The occupants of the Epoch were pressed against the seats. The space directly in front of them was blurred. They gritted their teeth, preparing for the final impact up ahead.

Marle watched the distance display on the console. The seconds till impact ticked downward. "Three... two... one..."

Crono closed his eyes as the Epoch became closer and closer to Lavos. He closed his eyes as the time machine impacted the monster's shell. A white blaze filled his eyes. His life flashed before him, full of great battles, his friends, and Marle. His mind became a vast blank filled with the noise of the time machine being torn to pieces.


Marle's familiar voice filled his ears.

"Crono, get up..."

He opened his eyes, expecting to see the pearly, white gates before him. He sat up.

Crono found himself in a dark, cavernous room. The ceiling, walls, and floor were made of what seemed to be scales. Thick streams of a green liquid oozed down from pores all around, forming a stream around him. An acidic stench filled his nostrils. Have I died and gone to Hell? he thought to himself. No, this isn't Hell. But it's close. It's Lavos's interior...

To his left, Lucca was pulling herself out of the rancid mire. Ayla was standing up, clawing at the walls. Robo was checking his laser cannon, and Frog looked back and forth with his Masamune.

How did we survive? He looked above him. A dark tunnel was in the ceiling.

"Epoch..." said Lucca.

"I saw the whole thing," said Marle. "When we crashed into Lavos, the ship nearly burned up on impact. We were thrown out of the cockpit and fell down that big dark tunnel. We landed here."

"The Wings of Time hath served us well," said Frog.

"I'm gonna miss that ship..." said Lucca.

Robo nodded. "I feel the loss of my mechanical companion."

"Ayla like Epoch..."

Crono stood up and looked around. A cavern lay ahead of them, leading downward at a slight angle. He stepped up to the mouth and looked into it. The putrid slime which oozed from the wall glowed, illuminating the corridor.

Lucca walked to his side. "If we're inside Lavos, this must lead further downward."

"To the core..." said Marle.

The rest of the warriors walked up to the mouth of the cave. "Let us proceed," said Frog.

Crono led the way into the eerie cavern. He watched his step as he walked downward. The mire was up to his ankles, and it was very slick. His footsteps were accompanied by a soft suction sound.

They traveled onward for several minutes. Finally they reached the end. The green flow of slime cascaded downward into the darkness like a waterfall.

"Well, if we survived the crash with the Epoch," said Lucca, "we can survive a leap of faith."

Crono nodded. He looked down into the darkness, then stood straight up. He placed one foot forward and shifted his weight. In a second, he fell into the bottomless abyss.

Lucca leapt off next. Marle did a swan dive. Frog leapt like he was built to. Ayla somersaulted, and Robo ungracefully jumped.

The boy landed in a purple fluid. He looked around him as his companions fell from the sky. In front of him was a circular island. He climbed onto it.

The chamber was filled with a loud groaning sound, as if air was passing over a rusty grating. The dimness throughout the room lifted, revealing an incredible sight.

The other warriors climbed onto the island. "Oh my God..." said Marle. "This... is... Lavos..."

The Lavos Core lay before them. It stood thirty feet tall, reaching for the roof of the chamber. It had no legs, but was implanted in the floor. A full metal coating covered its torso. Its arms were curled up over its chest. In its palm was a massive energy cannon. At the tips of its fingers were razor-sharp claws. Its mouth was covered by a metal grating. Two tubes connected the nostrils to the purple sludge surrounding the island. Its eyes were white with two black dots. Its forehead was massive, complete with an extra eye. Two claws sprung out from its back, holding onto a webbing on the ceiling.

Crono withdrew his sword and stared at the Core. The beast unfolded its arms and extended its fingers, revealing the cannons in its palms. A powerful wind swept through the chamber, blowing through the warriors' hair.

"This is it!" said Lucca. "No turning back now!"

Two plates in the Core's chest popped open. Long barrels popped out and swivelled around, searching for a target. They trained their sights on Crono.

"It's a machine gun!" said Lucca.

"Look out, lad!" said Frog.

The boy rolled out of the way. The barrels in the creature's chest spun at an incredible rate, firing an unbelievable amount of bullets at the space he was just standing in. Crono jumped back and forth, trying to avoid the storm of fire.

Marle loaded up her bow. She pulled back the string and aimed it at the Core's eye. She pulled the trigger. The projectile sailed through the air. It found its mark, but bounced off with a metal clanking.

"What?" she asked herself.

Lucca held up her rifle. "That thing is inorganic!" said the young genius. "Weapons like arrows and swords will probably have no effect on it!"

"I shall attempt to take it out," said Robo. He raised his laser cannon and aimed it at the face of the Core.

The monster turned and looked at the robot.

Robo's laser cannon glowed. Several rapid beams of energy leapt from the barrel. They slammed into the creature's metallic body and bounced off. They hit the walls and ceiling of the chamber, providing some illumination.

"It's armor is too strong for laser!" shouted Lucca.

The monster roared. It opened its palm and held out its arm. With a whining sound, several blue bursts of energy erupted from the cannon in its hand. They sliced through the air and slammed into Robo. The explosions lit up the room, but the robot kept his ground.

"Robo!" shouted Lucca.

"I'm... okay," he said. "Use your rifle!"

Lucca nodded and took the rifle off of her back. She aimed it at the creature's head and pulled the trigger.

The gun whined. She braced herself for stupendous impact.

A small ball of electricity traveled out of the barrel. It fizzled out before it hit the Core's face. Lucca through the rifle to the ground.

"Why can't this thing ever work?" she yelled.

The Core roared. It held out its arms wide again. A black mist began to pour out of holes in its hands. It filled the chamber, cutting off the remaining light. The warriors gagged for air, desperately trying to fill their lungs with clean oxygen.

Crono gasped for air. He suddenly realized that he could breathe cleanly. The acrid smoke that had poured out of the Core had not affected him. He stood up and searched the room. His vision was still impaired.

He raised his arms in the air. A crackling came to his fingertips. Out of the ceiling arced a great lightning bolt. It struck the metal Core, traveling through its body. The impact of the bolt diffused the thick smoke.

Lucca, Marle, Frog, Ayla, and Robo stood up. They looked around the room at the thinning cloud of poisonous particles.

"Crono!" said Lucca, still wheezing. "That lightning attack weakened him! Hit him again!"

The Core became enraged. It opened the panels in its chest and stuck out the large machine gun barrels. They swept around the room and found Crono.

The boy quickly raised his hands and cast another lightning bolt. It arced from the ceiling and struck the creature again. The Core lost its concentration. The machine guns fired rapidly in all directions, splashing bullets randomly at the wall.

"The lightning confuses the beast," said Frog.

"If we hit enough times with lightning, we may be able to destroy it!" said Marle.

Crono nodded. He raised his hands again. This time, several rapid blasts of electricity arced from the ceiling. They hit the creature several times. The beast roared, thrashing about, desperately trying to slash the warriors.

"We've got him!" said Robo.

The Core rumbled. Its arms in the air. The webbing about the ceiling started to glow. Currents of electricity traveled along the thin wiring, reaching the edge of the chamber.

"Duck!" said Ayla.

Blasts of lightning filled the room. They slammed into the ground all around the warriors, tearing up dust and dirt. The rain of destruction continued, ripping apart the ground.

The blasts stopped, and the monster folded its arms across its chest, seeming to concentrate.

"Now's our chance!" said Lucca.

Marle nodded. "Frog, let's form a glacier!"

The amphibian nodded. He raised his arms into the air.

Particles of water collected in the chamber. They grew in size and weight. The droplets collected in a central point above Frog's head, forming a larger and larger orb. Soon it was almost ten feet wide.

"Can't... hold... it..." said the amphibian.

Marle raised her arms in the air. A ball of cold formed between her palms. She held it in front of her, then whipped it through the air. It struck the orb of water. With a crackling sound, it became a solid chunk of ice.

"It's too heavy!" shouted Frog.

Ayla tossed her lance into the purple muck. She dashed across the island and grabbed the enormous block of ice, just as it was about to fall on the poor amphibian. She held it in her two hands proudly and turned to the Core.

"You next, Lavos!" she shouted.

With a loud roar, she tossed the humongous piece of ice through the air. It crashed into the folded arms of the Core. The impact created giant dents in the monster's chest from the arms. The block shattered, leaving chunks all over the island.

The creature roared and opened its folded arms again.

"This isn't good," said Lucca.

The Core through its arms high in the air. The wind in the chamber picked up. Particles of ice, dirt, debris, and rock were levitated. The warriors closed their eyes, trying to protect themselves from the building maelstrom.

The bits of dust became hot. The Core concentrated its mental powers on the debris, heating them to a high temperature. The warriors felt the sharp sting as they were hit.

"Crono!" said Frog. "Distract the Core!"

The boy heard the amphibian's cry for help. He turned to monstrous Core and raised his arms in the air. He shot another powerful lightning bolt through the air. It struck the creature in the head, traveling through its body and causing it to lose its concentration.

The particles that were swirling around the room stopped. They fell to the ground and lost their heat, remaining the dust they had once been.

The Core roared. It threw its arms back into the air, ignoring the attack from Crono. The eye in its forehead swivelled back and forth, scanning the six warriors who were recovering from the attack.

A long, red beam shot out from the Core's eye. It struck the island and grew in depth, becoming almost five feet wide. It traced its way to the edge of the island and found its mark in the purple muck.

A tremendous explosion filled the chamber. The purple fluid exploded like gasoline. The flames covered the island, singing the six warriors. They shuddered under the intense heat.

The flames slowly died down. A ring of fire surrounded the circular platform, cutting them off from the outside.

Lucca panted. "We... have to... take it out... now!"

"Right..." said Frog.

"We don't have enough time for Crono to cast a luminaire!" said Marle.

"That doesn't matter," said Lucca. "Robo, Crono, you keep whacking the monster with your attacks. Me and Marle will create an antipode."

"What antipode?" asked Ayla.

"Just stand back and watch," said Marle. "Help Crono and Robo!"

The four warriors nodded. Crono and Frog withdrew their swords. Ayla cracked her knuckles, and Robo readied his laser cannon.

Marle and Lucca stood side by side. "Okay, put all of your strength into this one!"

Crono and Frog stood side by side in front of the immense beast. Its eye was swivelling again, searching for a target.

"Let's each take an arm, lad!" said Frog.

Crono nodded. He darted left, and Frog darted right.

The monster's right arm opened its palm to Crono. Several quick blasts of energy erupted from the cannon. The boy threw his arms up wide and took the blasts in the chest. The energy diffused across his armor, barely damaging him.

The boy laughed. He jumped into the open palm of the Core. He charged up its forearm, slashing away at the metal plating. The powerful alloy that made up his sword cut right through it, exposing the wiring and gears inside.

Crono walked up to the shoulder joint. The Core turned its head and stared directly at him. The boy smiled as he raised his sword and rammed it deep into the creature's shoulder. He withdrew it, then slashed straight through the coupling between the shoulder and the arm.

The huge, metal arm fell off and clattered to the ground. Crono rolled off of it and stood at the side with his sword in a defensive position.

Frog leaped back and forth, dodging the blue energy balls from the creature's palm cannon. He searched for an opening, aiming for the monster's wrist.

Robo raised his arm cannon. He trained it at the Core's face and fired several rapid shots. They exploded in the monster's eyes, momentarily distracting it.

The Core stopped its barrage of blue energy balls from its wrist cannon. Frog raised his Masamune and leapt behind the monster's hand. He slashed downward at the wrist joint, severing the hand from the arm. It clattered to the ground, sparking and hissing.

Ayla pounded on the metal casing of the Core. She leaped back and forth, punching in certain places to keep the monster looking. It roared angrily as it tried to track her with its chest machine gun.

"Ready?" asked Lucca.

"Ready," said Marle.

The princess brought her hands together in front of her face and closed her eyes. A chilly breeze swept the chamber. She felt the cold whip about her. Several shiny particles of ice began to surround her. They multiplied, growing greater in number. Their sized increased, eventually becoming the size of her normal ice orbs.

Lucca held her palm out towards the Core. A trail of fire curled around her legs, across her torso, and up her arm until it landed in her hand. She closed her fist.

"Now!" shouted the young scientist.

Marle opened her eyes and thrust out her hands. The dozens of ice orbs that collected around her formed into one central ball. It was almost the size of the Core. She waved her arm forward, and the orb arced across the island. It smashed into the unsuspecting monster. It sealed the beast up in a tight block of ice. Slowly its metal became weak and unstable. Its elements were replaced by ice.

"Go!" said the princess.

Lucca opened her fist. A loud rumbling filled the chamber. Hundreds of huge orbs appeared above her. They ranged from five feet in diameter to twelve feet. The young genius dropped her hand. The orbs flew directly at the weakened Core. They impacted, one after another, shattering the ice that encase the monster.

The metal had mixed with the ice, making it easier to melt. The unending wave of fire quickly liquified the Core's metallic armor. It gradually grew weaker and weaker. Holes appeared in its side. It melted faster and faster.

There was a tremendous explosion, accompanied by what sounded like a wheezing. The chamber was filled with white light. The six warriors closed their eyes and guarded them with their arms, trying to avoid the deadly rays.

The heat slowly began to disappear. Crono opened his eyes. He adjusted to the darkness of the chamber, now that the light was gone. He looked at the remains of the Core.

A slick puddle of rapidly cooling metal lay where the mechanical beast had just been. The machine guns, the eyes, and the arms had all been vaporized in the antipode attack.

"Is it... gone?" asked Marle, opening her eyes.

"My sensors detect a powerful presence..." said Robo.

Lucca held her breath. Frog stood his ground. Ayla cracked her knuckles.

The puddle of liquid metal shifted. It parted in the middle. A head poked its way up, followed by a body. It floated in the air.

"This is the true brain of Lavos," said Frog.

The creature was seven feet tall. It had long, powerful looking arms with three fingers. It had long legs with orange, webbed feet. It wore a thick suit of red armor over its chest. Large shoulderpads protected its upper arm. Its head was sealed inside a space helmet. Inside was a ghastly face. It had empty eye sockets, a gaping mouth, and long, white cheekbones. It gasped for air, making a hollow breathing sound.

"The metallic beast we just fought was a mechanical protection device for this creature," said Robo.

"I get it now..." said Lucca.

"What?" asked Marle.

"This creature lands on a planet. It sucks its energy dry. It mixes the DNA it found here with its own self to give life to its spawn. Like the thing we saw up on Death Peak..."

"Are you saying it's the reason we're all here?" asked the princess.

"We've been grown like farm animals waiting to be slaughtered. All our science, culture, and art were mere toys of humanity until this thing woke up and ate the world whole. Eventually its offspring must leave the planet to repeat the cycle."

"It's power is frying my circuits!" said Robo.

"And this creature before us controls Lavos?" asked Frog.

"Right," said Lucca. "This is a genetically engineered monster created to be self sufficient. The beast here is an alien from another planet, here to consume the world for his own life."

"Ayla understand," said the prehistoric woman. "Not going to let world go to waste for alien's sake!"

"She's right!" said Marle. "This is our world, not his!" She loaded up her crossbow.

"I shall not let an outsider meddle in my masters' life!" said Robo.

"Cyrus, this be our finest battle," said Frog, waving his Masamune. "Let us slay this beast and teach him that the world is not to be toyed with."

Lucca raised her rifle. "Let's fry him."

Crono withdrew his sword and clenched his teeth.

The monster roared. It spread its palms open. Two metallic orbs floated out of its hands to flank the beast.

The warriors heard the inhuman roar of Lavos. It filled their ear drums with terror as they stood their ground.

The surrounding chamber seemed to melt away. The purple fluid vanished along with the flames. The island disappeared. The bits of dust became a memory. The ceiling full of green sludge evaporated.

The six warriors found themselves and the Lavos Brain in a strange, shifting place. The walls faded different colors and blurred together in a kaleidoscope.

Crono withdrew his sword and stared at the Brain. He charged forward with all his might. He slashed at the monster with his rainbow saber, aiming for the glass dome surrounding its fragile-looking face.

An invisible force blocked his sword. Crono tried again, but he could not break the barrier.

"Crono!" shouted Lucca. "It's got some kind of shielding! Back off!"

The boy did not hear her. The Lavos Brain raised one of its powerful arms. It swiped forward at the human in front of it. Crono was blown backwards a good twenty feet. The world spun around him.

The beast roared again. It waved its arms in the air. There was a loud snapping sound that filled the area.

"What is going on?" asked Marle.

The colors in the kaleidoscope surrounding them disappeared. They were replaced with a dense rainforest setting. It was strangely blurred, as if it was being looked at through a multi-faceted gem.

"It's a time shift," said Robo. "The Lavos Brain can warp time!"

The orbs that flanked the Brain on its right side started to bounce. It floated forward and headed for Robo. The robot crossed his arms over his face, hoping to block the incoming projectile. It increased speed and bowled him over.

The orb floated back to the Lavos Brain's side and continued to hover slowly. Robo sat up, somewhat scrambled from he creature's impact.

"It's incredibly powerful!" he said.

Marle raised her crossbow. "I'm not going down without a fight!" she said. She aimed it at the orb that attacked Robo and pulled the trigger. The arrow sailed through the air and stuck into the metallic orb's side.

The orb buzzed angrily. It spun around rapidly, shaking the projectile from its side.

"It didn't work!" said Marle.

The Lavos Brain roared. It raised its arms in the air. Slowly it began to levitate off of the ground.

"What is it doing?" asked Frog.

The creature continued to levitate. Finally there was a flash of light above the six warriors. They looked up and saw the underside of a fifty-foot wide slab of rock. The creature had teleported it in.

"No!" said Ayla.

The Lavos Brain drifted back to the ground. With a popping noise, the slab of rock fell from the sky. "Run!" shouted Marle.

Several small explosions filled the underside of the rock. Bits of dust flew everywhere. Chunks of stone fell around the six warriors as they covered their head. The ground shook as the stone impacted.

Crono looked up. He saw the blurred jungle around him. The Lavos Brain was still flanked by its two orbs. He looked around and saw Marle, Frog, Lucca, and Ayla.

"What happened?" asked the prehistoric woman.

The boy looked down at his feet. Evidently, the small explosions that had filled the underside of the rock created holes that allowed them to survive the crash unharmed.

"Someone shot holes into it before it fell!" said Marle.

"Robo!" said Lucca.

Their robotic companion was nowhere to be found.


Crono raised his hands in the air. A blast of lightning came down and shattered the rock that surrounded them. The fragments disappeared into the shifting walls of the jungle.

Robo's body lay in their midst. Gears, wires, and circuits were sticking out of him. His eye sensors were blank.

"Robo..." said Ayla.

The Lavos Brain roared. It raised its arms into the air and began to float again.

The jungle disappeared. It was replaced by a warmer setting of red lava, demonic statues, and a familiar machine made of Dreamstone.

"The Mammon Machine!" said Marle.

"Lavos shifted us from 65,000,000 B.C. to the Dark Ages, right before the collapse of the Ocean Palace!" said Lucca.

Robo buzzed a little. "D-defeat him... for me..." His circuits went blank.

Tears began to roll down Lucca's cheeks. "We won't forget..."

The Lavos Brain slowly began to walk forward. It swung its giant arms, ready to strike down its prey. Ayla stood before it, her fists ready. Her face held an expression of anger.

"Ayla no forget Robo!" she shouted.

The creature seemed to ignore her. It continued walking, ready to swipe her aside in a single blow.

"Come and get me!"

The creature roared and swung its enormous arm at the prehistoric woman. She leapt into the air and bounded off of its glass helmet, landing safely behind it.

In a flash, Ayla leapt into the air. Her legs were extended forward, and her fists were out. She drop-kicked the Brain in the chest. The impact of her raw strength sent the beast flying back several feet and knocked it on the ground.

"Ayla!" shouted Marle.

The prehistoric woman looked up from the woozy beast.

"Ayla, get ready to drop kick the orb on its right!" said the princess.

"But kick is not enough to destroy orb!" she shouted.

"Just do it!" said Marle.

Ayla nodded and readied herself.

Marle turned to Crono. "Crono, before she crashes into that orb, I want you to make a sphere of lightning next to the sphere of ice I'm gonna create, okay?"

The boy nodded. He still had no idea what she had up her sleeve.

The princess turned to the orb. She closed her eyes and concentrated. A large ball of cold appeared in the palm of her hand. She tossed it towards the orb flanking the Brain. It stood still right before impacting.

"Now!" said the princess.

Ayla leapt into the air with her feet at the ready. She arced through the cold sphere, picking up the ice energy on her feet. She hit the orb, coating it with a thick layer of ice. She bounded back and stared at the orb.

"Again!" said Marle.

The prehistoric woman nodded. She leapt into the air with her feet sticking outwards.

Crono tossed a ball of lightning. It hung in front of the Lavos Brain's orb, remaining motionless. It crackled with deadly energy.

Ayla kicked through the ball of lightning. The electricity filled her legs as she crashed into the Brain's orb. The power traveled out of her body and into the floating ball, electrocuting it.

The prehistoric woman leapt up and punched through the orb with all her might. It shattered into millions of pieces and scattered into the wind.

"Ayla did it!" she shouted.

The Lavos Brain let out an earth-shattering roar. It got off the ground and hobbled over to Ayla. She turned around and stared it straight in the face.

The creature raised its arms. Ayla took a step back.

A massive column of electricity erupted from the sky. The prehistoric woman looked up. She felt her body being charged with millions of volts. She struggled to endure it, but to no avail. After several seconds, she collapsed on the ground.

"Ayla!" shouted Marle.

Ayla was unconscious. Her eyelids were closed, her clothing was singed, and her muscles were twitching.

The Lavos Brain roared again. It raised its arms in the air and began to levitate. The wind picked up, blowing fiercely around the four remaining warriors.

The background image of the lava pool, the statues, and the Mammon Machine melted away. A new surrounding appeared. The black, marble floor was replaced by a detailed engraving. Pillars sprung up around the edges of the chamber. A multi-armed statue stood behind the warriors. Candles were set up everywhere.

"It's Magus's chamber!" said Frog.

The Lavos Brain floated back down to the ground. It lowered its arms and looked at the amphibian.

"How can we beat it?" asked Marle. "It's armor is too strong!"

Frog waved his sword back and forth, eyeing up the seven foot monster. "The Masamune shall cut right through this beast!"

The amphibian charged forward. He leapt into the air with his sword high. The Brain looked up and wound its huge hand back.

Frog swung at the creature. A hollow clanking sounded as the metal of the sword smashed into the invisible barrier. The amphibian landed on the ground and looked up at the blank face inside the helmet. The creature swatted at him with his heavy arm. Without time to think, he was struck down and thrown back several feet.

"Frog!" shouted Lucca.

The Lavos Brain roared again. It raised its arms in the air and slowly lifted off the ground. A red, glowing ball appeared in front of it. A loud grinding sound filled the area, as if time and space itself were being ripped.

"What's he doing?" asked Marle.

The ball increased in size, becoming almost ten feet wide. The Brain landed back on its feet and dropped its arms. It placed one hand on the orb and stared at Crono, Lucca, and Marle.

"He's gonna toss it!" said Lucca.

The Lavos Brain took his hand off of the projectile.

With a loud whooshing, the orb sped across the area. The warriors covered themselves.

Frog dashed between the three warriors with his Masamune at the ready. He held it in a defensive position and waited for the projectile to hit him.

A deep booming filled the chamber. The orb shattered into millions of energy fragments, scattering throughout the air. The blast hit the Masamune and absorbed into the blade. The sheer impact of the projectile launched Frog backwards several feet.

"Frog!" said Lucca.

The amphibian looked up at the Brain, then fluttered his eyes and gave into the darkness.

"He's out for the count!" said Marle. "We have to get this thing soon before it gets us!"

The Lavos Brain began to hover again. The metallic ball flanking its side began to bounce up and down rapidly.

The dark, gloomy background of Magus's chamber melted out of sight. The statue and candles vanished. Slowly, a new image was pieced together. Balloons filled the sky. Tents surrounded them. Behind the creature was a familiar stone arch with an old, copper bell.

"We're in 1000 A.D. at the Millennial Fair!" said Lucca.

The Lavos Brain returned to the ground and stared at the three remaining warriors.

"How can we possibly take it out?" asked Marle.

Lucca raised her rifle. "It's a long shot, but I think I can get him!"

"Are you crazy?" asked the princess. "That thing never works!"

"I know," said the young genius. "But there's nothing left to throw at him. If this thing hits maximum energy, we can probably disintegrate him!"

"It's worth a shot," said Marle.

The Lavos Brain stood motionless and watched its adversaries.

Lucca held up her rifle. She gazed into the scope and lined it up with the monster's glass helmet. She flicked several switches and held her arms steady.

"Three... two... one..." She pulled the trigger.

The rifle whined to life. Its barrel glowed brightly. Particles of energy filtered into it. Lucca felt an immense kick as the rifle released an incredible stream of energy. It streaked across the area and struck the monstrous Brain. A brilliant blaze of energy surrounded it.

Marle stared at it. "Did we get him?"

The energy dissolved. Smoke slowly drifted away. The Lavos Brain stood motionless, staring with its empty eyes at the young genius.

"It didn't break through his shield!" said Lucca.

The monster slowly began to levitate again. It threw its arms straight up.

"Oh no..." said Marle.

Several bright particles of yellow energy collected over the creature's glass helmet. They formed a large orb.

"We're toast..." said Lucca.

The Lavos Brain dropped its arms. The orb above its head formed a thick beam of energy. It passed through the young scientist and disappeared.

"Lucca!" shouted Marle.

The princess looked at her. She was motionless. Her eyes were wide open, and her mouth was agape. Her palm was outward, as if she was trying to stop the beam of energy.

"She's been... frozen in time!"

The Lavos Brain floated into the air. The familiar setting of Leene Square shattered into millions of tiny pieces. The world blurred around Crono and Marle. It slowly was replaced by the ruins of a long devastated city. Stop lights swung mindlessly through the air. Chunks of rubble and bits of metal surrounded them. Collapsed buildings could be seen in the distance.

"This is the future..." said Marle.

The Lavos Brain floated back to the ground.

"Crono, we have to find a way to bring down its shield," said the princess. "I think it has something to do with that metallic orb flanking it!" She pointed to the buzzing ball that stood by the creature's side.

The boy nodded.

"Let's try an ice sword attack!"

Crono smiled. He withdrew his saber and stared at the metallic orb.


The boy dashed across the area. The ruined city around him blurred out of existence. He saw only the metallic ball hanging by the Lavos Brain's side.

Marle formed an ice ball in the palm of her hand. She threw it across the chamber.

Crono leapt into the air and raised his saber. He caught the ball of cold on the tip of his blade, then looked down at the metallic orb. He swung downward with his katana. The sharp edge pierced the metallic skin of the ball. The ice ball went directly inside of its mechanical circuits. It expanded and froze the sphere inside out.

The boy yanked his blade from the ice block that surrounded the orb. He raised it high, then slashed several times through the thick coating. The block and the orb fell to the ground and shattered on impact.

The Lavos Brain roared. An electrical discharge surrounded it, then disappeared.

"Crono, we broke the shield!" said Marle.

Marle turned and faced the monstrous creature.

It slowly began to levitate. It then held its massive arm out and opened its clenched fist.

The princess was lifted off the ground. A pyramid of pure energy surrounded her. It tumbled end over end. She felt the life being drained from her. Her skin was on fire. Her muscles were burning. Her brain cooked.

"Crono!" she shouted.

A massive ball of energy surrounded the trapped Marle. It expanded to fill the entire area. The princess closed her eyes and felt the powerful pain around her.

The Lavos Brain clenched its fist.

The pyramid shattered, and the orb of energy disappeared.

Marle's body fell to the ground. Her eyes were closed. Her body was singed. Her leg was twisted at a strange angle. Her hair was grey instead of blonde.

Crono's jaw hung wide open.

The Lavos Brain roared in triumph.

The boy turned his head and looked at the monstrous creature. It looked back at him, locking eye to eye.

Crono could suddenly sense a fear in the alien. Its mouth was wider than before, and a thick fog had appeared on the glass surrounding it. It slowly took a step back, aware that its metallic guardians were gone.

The boy was left alone with the creature.

First you destroy my world, then you harm my friends. I will not allow you to destroy any more!

He dashed forward in a rage, his rainbow sword in his hand. His muscles were tense. The surrounding of the dying city was gone in his own mind. All he saw left was the Lavos Brain, singled out.

The creature raised its arm and clumsily swung at the boy. He sidestepped the attack and slashed viciously at the creature's stomach.

The blade found its mark. A loud suction could be heard as the lining of its armor was punctured. Crono could see green blood pouring out of the wound.

The creature looked down at its wound. It felt the green liquid with its palm, then it looked back at Crono.

The boy slashed again with his sword. He cut through the creature's hand, drawing more blood. He can be beaten...

Crono slashed again and again. Each time his blade found its mark. The Lavos Brain was too slow to swing back at him. Soon it became a mass of dark fluid, oozing all over its body. Its armor was cracked in several places.

The boy did not stop. He raised his saber high. With a powerful anger, he brought it down upon the monster's glass helmet. It shattered instantly. The Lavos Brain fell to one knee, gasping for air. Its lungs filled with oxygen, burning its insides.

Its head was full of pores and blood. The eye sockets were empty holes. It had nothing but a gaping pit for a mouth.

Now it ends!

Crono put his sword and his sheath. He closed his eyes.

The Lavos Brain looked up at him, gasping for air.

Crono felt the area around him sharpen. He could feel the depth, shape, and size of the alien creature before him. He held his hands high and opened his fists.

Several green laser-like beams radiated out from him. They scanned over the Lavos Brain's body, giving the boy a sharp mental picture of the creature. The beams disappeared.

Crono felt an enormous amount of energy inside him. He felt it expand outwards, surrounding his body. It formed a green orb around him.

He pushed his hands outward.

The green orb that surrounded him expanded rapidly. It consumed the area around him.

The Lavos Brain stared at the massive energy moving towards it. It stood up and tried to cover itself. The green blast expanded and consumed the beast. It felt a deep pain all around itself. Its suit of armor was torn off. Its skin disintegrated, exposing its vital organs. The muscles, the blood vessels, and the other parts were burned up from the explosion. Finally, its skeleton became dust fragments that broke down into atoms.

Crono pushed the limits of the green energy blast. The image of the city was replaced with the chamber where the Core once stood.

The boy pushed as hard as he could. The green blast consumed the island and radiated outward. It melted the ceiling and continued onward, eating through the shell of the giant creature.

Crono blanked out.

In an underground military complex, a lone general sat in his chair, looking at the console before him. It was lighting up with hundreds of reports.

Apparently, some kind of anomaly had appeared under the Black Mountain over the sea. The satellite photos showed that a large shell covered with spikes had eaten up the bottom of the ocean and boiled the water. A steady rain of fire, destruction, and debris was moving closer to the shoreline, spelling impending doom for the world.

"Sir!" said a voice.

The general turned around. A man in a uniform stood before him. "Yes, lieutenant?"

"Sir, satellite observations show that the anomaly at the bottom of the sea was consumed by a giant blast of green energy! It's been destroyed!"

The general's jaw hung open. "What?"

"We sent fighters out to combat whatever it was, but the pilots said a giant explosion wiped it out for them! They said that the Black Mountain that usually hovered over that spot also sank into the sea!"

"Incredible..." said the general.

"We also obtained this photo..." The officer handed him a picture. It showed a clear sky of the

ball of spikes at the bottom of the ocean. Between the stones of fire was a single, pod-shaped craft.

"Was it one of ours?"

"No, General Doan. It was an unidentified craft that supposedly rammed the anomaly."

"What brave souls..."

XIX: To Good Friends


The boy instantly recognized his mother's sweet and comforting voice. Bells chimed in the distance. Birds squawked as they soared over the sea.

"Crono, get up you lazy bum!"

The boy opened his eyes. He sat up in bed and saw his mother standing in the stairway to his bedroom. The cat was stretching on the floor in the morning sunlight.

"C'mon, dear," said his mother. "Breakfast is ready." She turned and walked back down the stairs.

Crono shook his head. What a weird dream...

He had been drinking a lot the night of the millennium party. It must have affected him so much as to spin the crazy dream he had just experienced. He remembered the gorgeous princess, the epic battles, his magic powers, the awesome Epoch, the treacherous Lavos.

Only alcohol could create such an adventure.

He shook his weary head and walked down the stairs. His mother was busy setting the table. He saw bacon, eggs, and toast.

"Sit down and eat!" she ordered.

Hungrily, Crono pulled up a chair and tore into the food that was scattered about the table. He downed the bacon and eggs and drank several glasses of orange juice.

"My, you sure are hungry," she said. "I had the strangest dream last night..."

The boy looked up. The bacon slipped off of his fork.

"I dreamt that I sent you to the Millennial Fair," said his mother, "and then you vanished for hours. Next I heard that the Royal Court had ordered you to be executed! Then I started drinking, and I saw you in a dream..."

Slowly the boy pieced her mother's dream together with his. He remembered the Fair, journey back to 600 A.D., the trial, and the escape. He remembered comforting his mother in the middle of the night on his battle with Heckran.

"I know it's strange..." she said. "But I drank a lot that night. What about you?"

A knock rattled at the door. Crono looked at it, his fork still in his hand, baffled by his mother's tale.

His mother pushed her chair back and walked over to the wooden door. She turned the knob and pulled it back.

Two heavily armored knights stood in the doorway.

"King Guardia wishes to speak with your boy, madam," said one of the armored warriors.

She turned to her son. "It wasn't a dream..."

Crono finally realized that all of his adventures had not been a dream. Somehow he had wound up in 1000 A.D. at his house after fighting Lavos. King Guardia obviously had not forgotten about his execution.

"Crono, no... fight your way out!" said the woman.

The boy stood up and walked across the room. He stood facing the knights, then raised his hands up in a surrender.

"Come with us..." said the warrior. They led him out of the house and started through town.

"Crono..." said his mother.

The throne room of Guardia Castle was decorated with grand tapestries of many colors. Stain glass windows depicted ancestors of the dynasty. Beams of light shone through them, casting heavenly glows on the red carpet that led to the king's throne.

King Guardia sat in his wooden throne. His grey beard hung down to his chest, and his wrinkled face was ravaged by time. Several guards flanked him left and right.

The heavy double door of the throne room opened. The two armored warriors escorted a young boy with a red, spiked hairdo into the room. He had a somber look on his face as he walked up the red carpet and knelt before the throne.

The king cleared his throat. "We've been looking for you Crono," he said.

The boy looked up.

"Where did you take my daughter?" he asked.

The twin doors of the throne room burst open. A young girl with singed blonde hair rushed into the chamber. Her leg was taped, and she hobbled a little up the aisle. She had obviously been injured recently.

"Marle!" said the king. "You should be resting! You are quite injured!"

"Daddy, don't!" she pleaded. "Crono hasn't done a thing!"

"You say he has been a perfect gentlemen..." said the King. "But his deeds have had an enormous impact on the kingdom."

"How could you?" she asked. She began to cry. "You must listen to me! We had to..."

"Save the world, right?" asked the King.

Marle looked up and sniffled. "What? How did you..."

The twin doors to the throne room opened again. Several familiar figures walked in. Marle recognized all of them.

An old man approached Crono. He had an olive green general's uniform on. "You changed our lives when you defeated Lavos in 1999 A.D.," he said. "You also beat the demons that trapped us inside our shelter. You gave us hope with your seeds!"

"Doan!" said Marle. "The guy from the Arris Shelter!"

The old man nodded and stepped aside.

A middle-aged man with a brown beard walked up to Crono. He carried a scepter and wore expensive-looking red robes. "You waged war at the battle of Zeenan Bridge," he said. "You also defeated Magus and his troops and brought peace to Guardia Kingdom in 600 A.D."

"King Guardia!" said the princess.

He smiled and stepped next to Doan.

Another figure walked up the aisle and approached Crono. He had shaggy, blonde hair and a purple loincloth. "Crono beat reptiles!" said the man. "Also save me and village! Crono real brave warrior!"


The man smiled and stood next to the others.

"What's going on here?" asked the princess. "How did they all get here?"

The throne room doors swung open one last time. All the occupants turned around and saw a lone figure walking towards them. She had large glasses and wore an orange dress. She wore a green helmet and carried a satchel. In her hands was a familiar wand-like object with several switches on it.

"Lucca!" said Marle. "You brought them all here, didn't you?"

"I couldn't resist!" she said. "It's the only way we could clear Crono's name!"

"Your kinsmen told me of your incredible mission," said the old King Guardia of 1000 A.D.

"They're my... ancestors and decedents?" asked the princess.

"Yes," said Guardia. "Here I was fussing over a simple young lad escorting my daughter to the Millennial Fair, when it turns out that you all worked together to save the past, present, and future."

Marle walked to Crono's side and looked at him. She hugged him tightly.

The boy smiled. Everything had turned out fine.

"Now we shall have a true victory celebration!" said Guardia. "Marle and Crono, enjoy the last night of the Millennial Fair!"

The stars filled the heavens on a warm night. The moon was high in the sky, and the insects chirped in the distance. The grass blew slightly as the wind tickled it.

Truce Village was truly alive. Leene Square was packed solid with people from all over the globe. Tents sold their wares rapidly. Balloons were released into the air and traveled up into the atmosphere. Fireworks were being prepared.

Crono had his arm draped around Marle's shoulder as he led her through the crowd. He proudly wore his armor that Gaspar had given him. Marle wore the original blue garment she first wore to the Millennial Fair. Hundreds of people slapped him on the back, congratulating him on a job well done. The crowd whistled their approval as he passed.

The boy saw his mother sitting on the fountain, smiling. He rushed over to her and gave her a deep hug. "Oh, son," she said. "I'm so proud of you. And I missed you so." She turned her head and looked at the beautiful girl with him. "And who is this?" she asked.

"I'm Marle," she said.

"Oh, nice to meet you, Marle," said Crono's mother. "Thanks for taking care of my boy along the way!"

"It was a pleasure!"

Crono smiled and waved goodbye to his mother as he trekked back into the crowd. He saw several familiar sights. The man working the drinking game was getting rich quick. Taban was dancing with his wife in an open circle.

Marle noticed an old man standing by a tent. He wore black clothes with a red sash and a hat. He stood in front of a blanket full of swords, guns, and charms.

"Melchior!" she exclaimed.

The girl rushed through the crowd to meet him. He looked up and smiled at the youthful woman.

"Well, it's been ages since I've seen you," he said.

"Thanks for all the help you've given us," said the princess.

"Oh, it was an experience," said Melchior.

"So how's business nowadays?" she asked.

"Not much in the line of weapons," he said. "But I like it that way."

Crono saluted the old gentleman and wrapped his arm around the princess's shoulder. He led her back into the crowd, where he was loved by the people.

The boy looked in the distance. High up in a tree, he thought he saw three ghostly figures. One had long, blue hair down to his shoulders. One wore a purple dress and had blue hair tied in a pony tail. One wore elegant robes and had a royal crown.

"Crono!" shouted a familiar voice.

He turned around, tearing his gaze from the specters in the tree, and saw Lucca pushing her way through the crowd. He stopped and turned around, waiting for the young, purple-haired genius to catch up with them.

"Crono," she said, "everyone is up at the telepod."

"What do you mean, 'everyone'?" asked Marle.

"Just come and see!" said Lucca. She turned around and dashed towards the stone steps leading to an upper terrace.

Crono and Marle followed her.

The terrace with the telepod was lest congested than the rest of the fair. It seemed to be a welcome break from reality. The wind gently caressed the area, blowing leaves through the air. The wanted signs on the trees had been torn down.

Lucca stood by her repaired teleport machine. It glowed with a radiant luminescence. She tapped her foot, waiting for the other two to arrive.

Crono and Marle came up the steps, hand in hand. They saw Lucca standing between the two pods, waiting anxiously. "So, where is, 'everyone'?" asked the princess.

"They're right here," said Lucca. She whistled.

Three figures walked out from behind the trees. One was a bulky, metallic creature with optical sensors and a cannon mounted on his hand. He gleamed with a new shine. One had a green skin with a sword strapped to his side. Several bruises could be seen all over his body. One wore a purple animal fur bikini. She had dark circles under her eyes.

"Robo! Frog! Ayla!" said Marle.

Lucca turned around. She held the gate key high in the air and flicked several switches. The space between the telepod platforms hummed with electricity. Finally, a bluish-black portal appeared with gentle wind. It swirled rapidly.

"Guys, we have to say goodbye..." said Lucca.

"Goodbye?" echoed the princess.

"The fabric of time is growing stable again," she said. "If we wait too long, we won't be able to return anyone to their own times. So this is it."

"Each to thine time," said Frog.

Ayla nodded. Kino walked up the steps and joined her side.

"Ayla have fun," said the prehistoric woman. "Long journey, many adventures. Pass down to children and children's children! Good times!"

Marle nodded. "Well, if you're my distant ancestor, you'd better have kids or I'm in deep trouble!"

Kino snickered. "No worry, Ayla very strong!"

The princess nodded. "Right," she said. Something failed to click in her mind. "Wait, what do you mean by that?"

Ayla growled and wrapped her arm around Kino's neck. She rubbed her clenched fist across his scalp as he tried to break free. "Kino got big mouth! Go home! Wait for me in village!"

The prehistoric woman let her grasp loose. Kino rushed across the terrace and jumped into the void, disappearing with a whoosh.

"Me hope Crono not so dumb, Marle!" said Ayla. She laughed, then waved to the rest of the warriors. She walked across the terrace and leapt into the portal, disappearing from sight.

"'Tis a feisty crowd," said Frog. "But they are of thine kin, and 'tis of consequence."

King Guardia of 600 A.D. walked up the steps and looked at the amphibian. "Well, Frog, Queen Leene awaits."

"Right," said Frog. "Let us depart!"

The King walked across the terrace and stepped into the portal. He vanished with a whir.

Frog nodded and followed him. He raised a foot, prepared to step into the swirling gate.

"Frog," said Marle.

The amphibian turned around and saw the princess standing there. "Long farewells are never necessary," he said.

Marle smiled and walked over to his side. "Actions speak louder than words," she whispered. She bent over and kissed him on the cheek.

Lucca began to laugh. "These things always end with the princess kissing the Frog, don't they?" she asked.

Frog closed his eyes. He began to glow with a white light. It began to blur the others' vision. Finally, his short, green form vanished.

Lucca opened her eyes and saw a young man standing in his place. He had long, green hair down to his shoulders and a strong build.

"Frog?" asked Marle.

"I... I'm human!" he said, looking down at his hands. He looked at his feet and noticed that the webbing was gone. His skin had returned to a normal tone. "Thank you..." he said, hugging Marle. He turned and walked to the portal. He looked at Crono. "You hath been a good friend, lad. Keep thy sword sharp and thy skills sharper!"

He smiled and walked into the gate, disappearing from sight.

Robo watched the young man vanish. Doan walked up the stairs and walked into the gate. The robot turned to Lucca, who had her back to him. "I will miss you," he said.

Marle looked at her. "What's the matter, Lucca?" asked the princess. "Aren't you going to say goodbye to Robo?"

"She knows..." said Robo.

"Knows what?" asked Marle.

Lucca sniffled, still not facing the robot. "Robo was born in a bleak future. When we defeated Lavos, we changed the course of time. He may not exist in the future anymore."

"Please relax," said the robot. "The new future will have a place for me."

She whirled around and pounded on his chest in anger. "Damn it, Robo! Don't pretend things are all right! You may not even exist when you walk through that portal!" She fell to her knees and cried.

"Lucca," he said softly, kneeling down to speak to her, "you have taught me that I am unique. You told me that I am the master of my own life. You taught me emotions, and you have set me free. Thank you."

"Robo will be there," said Marle. "Trust me."

He stood up slowly and turned to the gate. He began to walk towards it. Suddenly, he tripped over a loose stone in the ground.

"Caution!" he said. "Oil has washed over my optical sensors. Sight diminishing..."

Lucca turned and saw him. She rushed over and helped him up slowly. She began to laugh at his awkwardness and wiped away her tears.

"Good... bye, Robo," she said, kissing him on his metallic cheek.

The robot nodded in an effort to respond to her human emotion. "Goodbye, Lucca," he said.

He patted her on the shoulder, then walked across the terrace and disappeared into the swirling vortex.

Lucca raised the gate key high in the air. She flicked several switches. The gate stopped gushing wind, and slowly collapsed in on itself.

"I thought Lavos had always made the gates," said the young genius. "But I guess I was wrong."

Marle looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"I have a feeling that some kind of greater force wanted us to witness these events that shaped history. Something or someone wanted to change the course of time for humanity to survive."

Crono nodded.

"Time travel," said Marle. "How exhausting!"

"Ahem," said a voice.

The trio turned around. Standing at the top of the steps was a knight in heavy armor. He waited patiently.

"Yes?" asked Marle.

"The King requests your presence, Princess Nadia," he said.

She nodded. "Lead the way."

The center of Leene Square was empty in the late hours. The moon was high in the sky, and the stars were sprinkled about it. Most of the crowd had gone home.

The stone arch stood in the center of the middle terrace of the Square. It had once held the four hundred year old Leene Bell. King Guardia had requested it be taken down for this special occasion. He stood beneath the arch, awaiting the arrival of his daughter.

Crono, Marle, and Lucca walked down the steps to the middle terrace.

"Ah, so glad you could come," said King Guardia. "I have something for you, Nadia."

"What is it, dad?" she asked.

"Taban, bring it forward!"

Taban wheeled a heavy wooden cart up a flight of stone stairs to the terrace. On top of the cart was a beautiful silver bell. Engravings were carved on the edges, and a wooden beam was slipped through a hook on the top. A large bunch of balloons was attached to the hooks.

"This is the Nadia Bell," said King Guardia. "From now on, it shall ring out every morning across the land."

Taban wheeled it under the arch. "Would you do the honors, your highness?"

"Certainly," said Marle. She walked over to the bell and grabbed it in her arms. She looked up at the arch high above. "Um, it's a bit high, could someone give me a boost?"

Crono walked over and hopped up on the cart. He grabbed her waist and pushed her upwards. The balloons lightened the weight of the bell, allowing her to easily hook it onto the heavy stone arch.

"Done!" she said.

Marle pulled her hand away from the bell, but noticed that her hand was caught in the rope that was attached to the balloons. She tried to tug it out, but she only freed it from the hook that it was attached to.

"Wait a minute..." she said

The helium inside of the balloons lifted her off the cart. She saw the ground slowly leave her feet, becoming smaller.

"Help!" she shouted.

Crono leapt up and grabbed a hold of the rope. Even his weight was not enough to pull them both down.

"Get down from there, you clowns!" said Lucca.

"Nadia!" shouted King Guardia.

The balloons lifted Crono and Marle higher up.

After several minutes, Lucca, Taban, and the King were out of sight. The Millennial Fair was very far below. Crono and Marle clung to the rope, fearing the long drop below them. They went higher and higher in the sky, and were alone in the clouds. The boy hung onto her tightly, as to not allow her to fall

Crono could see the hundreds of balloons attached to the stands. Several fireworks were already erupting from cannons set up on the ground. Beautiful patterns of light radiated from Leene's Square.

"Wow..." said Marle. "That's beautiful."

Crono nodded.

She looked at him. "Crono, you've really come after me so many times," she said. "You risked your life time and time again to save me. I missed several... chances to show my thanks."

The boy looked at her, bewildered.

Marle closed her eyes and leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. They were wrapped together in a passionate kiss. Crono's mind was swimming. He remembered the time he had just missed her in 600 A.D., then when he had returned at Death Peak. He had finally kissed her, at long last. The feeling was incredible.

They kissed for several minutes more, until the air got colder. Marle smiled at him, her eyes looking deep into his. "I love you," she said.

He smiled back.

She looked down at the Millennial Fair far below. "I wonder how we're going to get down..."

Crono thought to himself that eventually the helium would wear out. They would gently glide back to earth, safe and sound.

For now, he would enjoy the time alone with Marle.

The End.