Moonlight mingled with chimes from Nadia's Bell high above Leene Square. Below, a chanting festive chorus and countless strings of blue-green parade lights threatened to drown both out. Costumed dancers strode the circumference of the square, and in the middle sat a silent and still crowd, awed by the spectacle and respectful of the occasion. The atmosphere at Princess Nadia's wedding lingered around the golden mean between gravely solemn and ritually joyous.

Nadia herself stood atop a platform at the north end of the square. She required every ounce of self-control to keep her eyes from straying down the aisle in anticipation of the telltale spiky hair that would herald the arrival of the groom. Her role, as per standard royal wedding protocol, required her to face east, only seeing her beloved when he at last alighted next to her on the platform. The narrow focus of her vision during the first part of the ceremony stood for her unwavering love and devotion for the future king and had been a staple of every wedding in the Guardia family for centuries, and if Nadia's ancestors had the strength to endure such a restrictive rubric for the sake of the ceremonial atmosphere, then she could, as well.

The chorus fell silent as the minister – the royal Chancellor himself – rose from a chair at the side and took to the podium at center stage. He began uttering a few historic words about marriage and about the future of the kingdom and about the glories of the past, and as he did, Nadia felt herself relaxing and settling into the moment. This scene was a part of Guardian history, and she was a part of the scene. Even the natural and artificial lights reflecting off her dress in a kaleidoscope of blues and greens marked her as nearly an object in the ethereal scenery.

A lapse in concentration led to a quick glance at the crowd. In the front sat some of those she loved most, including King Guardia XXXIII and his queen, Taban, Lara, and Lucca Ashtear, and, of course, her friends from the castle. All wore stoic expressions save Lucca, who, clad in a formal dress with done up hair and makeup streaked by half an hour's tears of happiness, hardly looked like herself. A few companions from the campaign to destroy Lavos dotted the landscape, but most of the rest of the crowd comprised Nadia's relatives, their families, and a few historians and reporters along for the thrill of seeing history unfold in person.

The Chancellor finished his speech, and Leene's Bell tolled in a mighty rhythm as two new figures began a steady march down from the very end of the aisle towards where Nadia stood. The one on the right was a middle-aged woman with a happy expression on her face and clothes that looked like they had been recently tailored. On her arm walked a young man with wild hair and a heart dedicated to his new bride.

Someone began beating an enormous kettle drum. The rhythm signified the inevitable march of time, the changing of the rule of the kingdom from the old generation to the new, and the relentless thumping of the organic heart of the land, the Guardia Dynasty. Their rule, now Nadia's, meant peace and prosperity, a fair system of laws instead of tyrants, and the highest standard of living in the world. Or so the Chancellor announced.

By the time Chrono reached the platform and took Nadia's hands in his own, the soon-to-be Queen could already feel her pulse racing to keep up with the drumbeat. She felt as close to Chrono as at any time since they met atop Death Peak. Thinking of that time, and seeing his face, she felt deep down that she could never lose him again, never let him go, and never forsake him. Even death could not part them, though on two occasions it had tried. What was left after that? Nadia would love Chrono until the end of time.

"…Until the end of time, until death do you part," spoke the Chancellor.

"I do," said Nadia.

"And you…" began the Chancellor, but Nadia's attention fell squarely on the groom's face, not his vows.

And Chrono nearly answered, but someone cut him off.


Her cry cut through the night. It stunned the Chancellor. It shook the audience out of their trance. It mangled the drummer's concentration and rhythm.

It was a reaction to something else she saw, as Nadia noticed when she turned in the direction Lucca was pointing.

Behind the stage, partially drowned out by the celebratory lighting fixtures, hovered a glowing orb roughly the size of a melon. Nearly as soon as she saw it, the orb began to expand, and within the span of a second, it became the largest Time Gate Nadia had ever seen.

Lucca was no longer the only one screaming. Nadia joined in when she saw Chrono floating into the Gate, upside down. Reflexively, she lunged in Chrono's direction, but he was too high above the ground to be caught. And with a cry, a desperate cry, of "I do!", he was gone.