Chrono Trigger: ReDreamt

-XIX-

La Grande Isola Sulle Nubi

They reached the crater soon, but found nothing there. The ground was still warm and that odd odor Robo mentioned seemed to hover around the crater. Ayla was down on the ground with her ear to the earth, listening. But she soon sat up and shook her head, looking at the others. "Lavos fast. Already very deep. Ayla cannot hear Lavos…"

"Ugh! Dammit!" Marle kicked a rock out of the way in frustration. "That's not fair!"

The rock came to a halt near a faint, wavering distortion on the ground. Marle noticed and watched over as a time gate fanned out in front of her. She gasped, "A gate!"

"A gate?" Robo looked over, "This was not present before."

Crono walked over, stunned, "Well that right there is damn convenient. He goes and smashes our planet but gives us a way out of here."

"Might as well use it." Marle called over, "C'mon, Ayla!"

The woman walked over, looking curiously at the distortion. Crono, though, counted the amount of people present and looked nervously at Robo, "…But… er…"

"I will return on the Dactyls and… babysit." Robo looked flustered.

"Aw, don't be so SAD about it!" Marle hugged him.

"Technically, I am not capable of sadness because I have yet to have emotional programming installed."

"Okay, mister whiny." She giggled.

"Alright! Let's warp!" Crono pulled out the gate key and the portal expanded to full. Ayla stared in shock, with Marle forced to pull her in with them. They stepped out on the other side into a cavern, the entrance lip covered in icicles. A howling wind was heard outside, with a blistering cold being swept in. Marle came close to Crono with a shiver, looking out timidly. He muttered, "Okay, new time period…"

Marle finally strode out, with the others following. Before Crono could get much father, Marle hit him in the face with a snowball. Ayla bounded out, sinking some in the white material and exclaiming, "Snow! Wind! Much, much ice!"

"Hey!" Crono wiped his face off, then prepared a snowball, "Alright, Missy, you asked for it!"

He lobbed it at Marle with as much force as he could- she narrowly missed it, but suddenly lost balance and tipped over backwards. Before she could fall completely over, she hit into something hard and slumped into a seated position, wincing and holding her elbow. "My funny bone! Gosh darn it! Ow!!"

"Woah! You alright??" Crono ran over to check on her, but something under the snow caught his eye. There was a red, glass-like gleam from under where Marle had fell. He paused and regarded it, and was hit with realization. "…dig it out!"

"Huh?" Marle obeyed, and Ayla came over and helped readily. Within no time at all, they revealed the red, but seriously cloudy, crystal with Reiz incased within. The glass was fractured in places like it had hit against something before it came to 'land'. Crono was absolutely ecstatic, though, to see her.

"Ha! You win at time, Reiz!" Crono knocked on it and waited. It took awhile before the glass shattered around her, and the woman promptly resumed bleeding from a violent headwound. Everyone was startled at the sight, Crono instantly ripping off some more cloth from his clothes and wrapping her head up, "She's bleeding! Hey, hang in there, Reiz. You're gonna be alright."

"Just…" She murmured, with a starry look to her eyes, "Must go up."

"I think she's delirious." Marle commented, worriedly.

"Yeah, but I'm not sure if its from hypothermia or bloodloss." Crono focused on trying to get the wound to stop bleeding. The woman shook her head slightly.

"I am not…. I'm fine."

"That's good to know. Well, let me tell you right now that I'm glad to see ya. I was worried."

"I've been waiting a long time for someone to say that to me."

Marle yelped, "I was so gonna kill you if you died, you know!"

Reiz chuckled slightly, "Oh dear."

"Oh yeah. Marle was most unhappy." Crono glanced at Ayla, who was pouncing around in the snow like it was a toy, "Takes a lot to get her down, but she most certainly was."

"I'm sorry for being a bother." Reiz suddenly stood up, wavering a moment due to dizziness. "…So where to?"

"We should probably bring you back to the End of Time." Marle supported her, "Being in the state yer in and all."

"Yep," Crono nodded firmly, "You're going straight back to base."

She shook her head and started out of the cave, separating from Marle. The princess shouted, "Hey! Where the HELL are you going?"

"Home!" Reiz called back.

"Oh shit. This must be the Dark Ages. Like Hell you're going back there." Crono ran up to her, "What, are you suicidal or something?"

"I might be. I need to see some people I know."

Ayla watched this and caught up with everyone, "Where going?"

"Missy here apparently wants to go back to her home." Crono explained, "Where people want to kill her. Are you sure you won't reconsider, Reiz? Just rest up for a bit?"

The woman came to a halt, gazing skyward a moment. "I don't know how long I have, though."

"Have for what?" Marle got in front of her.

"… Fine." Reiz shook her head. "I'll go back. But not for more than five minutes."

Marle followed as she turned around, whispering to Crono, "I think she's gone insane."

"I'm not so sure… I get the depressing feeling that whatever curse she has over her head is a lethal one." He spoke up as he followed Reiz, "Hey, Reiz… this… thing you've got a assigned to you… what does it all entail?"

"That I suffer so my people do not."

Marle sighed, then glanced at Ayla who was prancing around beside her, "How can you not be cold?"

"Cold? Never cold!"

Crono ignored this, "And what happened to the last couple of folks who had this job?"

"The first one was slain in combat." Reiz recalled, "The second died, as did the third and fourth."

"Died from… what?"

"The common cold."

"Yeeep. Lethal."

The group re-entered the time gate and were deposited at the End of Time as per the rule. Ayla blinked numerous times, gasping some, before looking all around at the nothingness with a sense of business. Marle watched her, "She's so busy!"

"She's like Lucca in 2300 AD." Crono shivered.

"Who IS she?" Reiz watched as well.

"Ayla. She's a chief from 65,000,000 BC. She'll also knock you clear on your rear if you cross her."

"Ah! There you all ar-" Lucca looked up, before letting out a loud squeal, suddenly attaching to Reiz in a hug. "Don't DO that anymore!"

"Okay, okay!" The woman laughed.

"Eh heh." Crono nodded, "Yeah, we found her. In the Dark Ages."

"Lovely." Lucca looked her over, "You okay and everything? What'd you do to your head??"

"I'm not quite sure, actually."

"…And WHERE is my robot?"

Marle gasped, "Oh, we left him behind!"

"WHAT?!?"

"He should be babysitting right now." Crono interrupted quickly, "Either that, or looking at that crater Lavos left."

Lucca shrieked, "GO FIND HIM AND BRING HIM BACK NOW!!!"

Reiz was slightly cowering, along with Marle who yelped, "Woah."

"E-err… Y-y-yes'm." Even CRONO was shaking. Quick as a wink he took off, shortly thereafter coming back with a paper mache'd Robo. Lucca stared in horror as the robot walked up to her.

"…oh god." She yelped.

"The children were feeling… inventive." Robo explained.

"That CAN'T be good for you- Let's get that all cleaned off ASAP!" Lucca instantly got to peeling what she could off. Marle on the other hand gazed around and noticed they were missing someone important.

"…Where'd Reiz go?"

"Aw shit." Crono groaned, "She didn't go back, did she?!?"

"I didn't see her leave…" Lucca paused, taking a moment to look around. Marle dipped her head into Spekkio's room to look as well. Crono shook his head in frustration.

"Man, she's in so much trouble if she…"

"No Reiz here!" Marle pulled her head back out.

"Not this way either." Lucca shrugged.

"Good escape!" Ayla grinned.

"Don't compliment her, Ayla." Crono scolded, "Alright, so she's back in her hellhole. Guess we'll have to get her out… Alright, I think Robo's had his fill of adventure for awhile. I KNOW you have to be tired, Marle."

"Only a teensy bit…"

"Teensy enough. Sorry, but considering where we're going… I need everyone sorta fresh and in one piece. Don't worry, Marle, I'll be okay. Ahm… sorry to keep you stuck here, Lucca, but… I'd rather not put you in the kind of danger we're going to get into."

She didn't even notice, continuing to clean off Robo, "Oh, and they got it into your joints…!"

"Ayla come, will help Crono keep safe!"

"You, uh, sure?" Crono looked at her skeptically, "I recall you being just as beaten to pieces as me and Marle… You can't SERIOUSLY be at top condition."

"Ayla strong, always! Ayla will come, no matter what Crono say."

"Alright, um…" Crono then walked over to a sleeping Frog and tapped him on the shoulder. "You awake?"

Frog blinked awake with a ribbit, "Mm? Ah, Crono!"

"Proof that even the mighty knight gets some sleep every now and then. That makes me feel better about sleeping in. Listen, Frog, we need your help. Mind coming with us to the Dark Ages?"

"It 'twould be an honor." He got up right away, looking cheerful.

"Great! Alright, folks, we're gone. We'll be back, hopefully with our stray mother."

"Mother?" Ayla looked curious.

"Well… Reiz was a mother. She acts the part, if you ask me."

"Lost child?" Ayla frowned, "Was ill, or accident?"

"I think the first… Let's get going, though, she moves fast when she wants to avoid us."

They passed through the gate and back into the cavern - Frog shivered instantly, but Ayla began looking around for signs of Reiz. She left some very obvious, unavoidable footprints in the snow, which Ayla started to follow. "Reiz come this way. Follow!"

"Not very covert, Reiz." Crono muttered, plodding along.

"'Tis a frigid cold!" Frog let off a shivery ribbit.

"Just use that fiery soul of yours to keep warm."

"Fiery soul? I hath many things, but thou must know that mine form is of a COLD BLOODED amphibian. What tortures this world must hold for us."

Ayla eventually lead them through the blinding snow to an odd dome shaped building. She (skin now flushed red and no doubt very close to being frostbitten) cautiously peered in, finding it empty. The walls were covered in beautiful, intricate gold glyphs, and a big stone platform stood in the center. A magic circle was carved into it, which glowed vibrantly.

"What is…?" Ayla walked up to it, passing a hand through the light, "Like fire, no heat?"

"Looks like a portal? Maybe?" Crono scratched his head. Ayla cautiously stepped into it - not a second later, she was engulfed in light, which concentrated and shot skyward, not leaving a single blonde curl behind. Crono was bewildered, but Frog let off a ribbit.

"Another magic trick. I grow tired of these. An intelligent fellow surely wouldst have installed a set of stairs, a reliable thing, rather than such a device as this…"

"Say that when we reach the top." Crono followed Ayla's footsteps. He felt the oddest warm sensation before being shot up at ridiculous speeds. He could FEEL himself passing through solid floor, rematerializing in an identical room. Stumbling off the platform, he felt a little ill… however, Ayla was kneeling over a collapsed figure on the floor.

"Here, Reiz!" Ayla scolded, "Run away, huh?"

"Maybe." She groaned.

"You are in big-time trouble, Reiz. You don't just run off without telling us." Crono knelt down beside her, "You gonna be alright?"

"I just tripped…" She got up, and started back out, just as Frog warped in.

"Jesus, and I thought I could be stubborn."

They stepped outside to find themselves standing on a road, surrounded by fields of green grass and flowers… clouds softly rolled across them and off the edge of the visible earth. It was soon that one realized he was standing on a floating island, indeed; further on were several beautiful looking houses and palaces, and various other islands. Birds flit past in the warm sunshine, landing in bright green trees… The building they exited from, even, was decorated vibrantly with great artificial ponds surrounding it. Everyone was forced to stop and catch their breath at the sight.

"…" Crono blinked a few times, before his eye twitched, "Lucca would never quit."

Frog peered over the edge, only to scamper back in shock. Ayla gasped in sheer amazement, rendered speechless. Reiz pulled her cloak's hood over her head and started off in silence toward the houses.

"We follow Reiz, yes?" Ayla pointed.

"Yep. She's gonna be just like you, I see." Crono followed after, curious though to where she was heading too. Eventually, passing through heavily populated streets where everyone wore grandiose clothing, Reiz walked to a huge, fenced property and passed through the torn-open gates. Down the path lay a huge, burnt, stone frame of what had to be a manor, complete with balconies and several fountains. For the longest time she just stared, prompting Crono to walk up to her. "What's this place? Or, rather, what was it before the laundry machine caught on fire?"

"My house…" She walked to the door and peered in at the ashy remains. All the objects inside had been damaged to the point of no salvation. Yet, she stepped in around the debris, walking around some.

"Hm…." Ayla followed her, looking about, "Not seem safe… but Reiz looking for something?"

"Yes, just back this way." She lead everyone to a back room which was completely torched, causing the decorative floor to curl. Reaching down, she pulled it up to reveal a hidden, heavy wooden door that escaped damage. "I thought so… I just need to step down here to get a few things."

"Alright, because I think the next off breeze that comes by is going to knock this place down." Crono helped get it all cleared and the door open for her, walking down with her. It was pitch dark until Reiz clapped her hands. In an instant several magic-powered lights flickered on in the room. Storage at best, it has numerous bookcases and shelves, and a few chests. But also, in one corner, was a bed and some pictures hung up of Reiz. "Wow, hey! This is pretty clever."

"Mm." She walked to a chest and opened it up with a key in her robes, digging out a new walking staff. Other personal items lay inside, such as clothes and trinkets of sentimental value. Meanwhile, the rest of the group were examining the paintings. There was a gorgeous portrait of two girls sitting on some stairs, with the eldest two steps higher. They wore elaborate dresses of silk and posed prettily with gay expressions on their faces. A second was of Reiz in royal dress and bearing a tiara, and a third was of her in a wedding gown with a handsome looking man at her side.

"'Tis quite the picture of happiness… how odd. I didst expect much less gaity."

"You and me both, Frog," Crono spoke quietly, "I guess things went pear-shaped pretty suddenly…"

"Who is in pictures?" Ayla looked back at Reiz.

"Well, the first one is of me and Souseira… that was the first painting we had done. The second was my coming-of-age portrait, there was several variations of it until recently, since it is my official one… then, of my wedding day with my husband. Somewhere I have a few others…"

"That's your sister?" Crono pointed at the younger one, and Reiz nodded. "She, uh... doesn't look like the violent type. Weird hair, though. What in the hell happened?"

"To her hair?" Reiz responded.

"You know? I'm kinda curious about that, too. But let's stick with what made her go cuckoo for Coco Puffs."

"It's inbreeding."

"Well that adds a new layer of screwery to this." Crono couldn't begin to imagine…

"Nay, lad!" Frog interrupted and explained, "'Tis quite common among the nobles! Our own King and Queen were borne of the same blood."

"You know," He groaned, "This could explain a lot about the state of our government."

"But her children's hair is just fine." Reiz smiled.

"That's good, because I don't think I could live with everyone in the world having Troll hair."

Frog, however, realized she had distracted them from the topic. "Yet… many pardons, Sister Reiz, but thou hast not yet explained the tragedy that hath befallen these lands."

"Reiz is older, should be chief of tribe, yes?" Ayla looked confused, "Why younger sister queen, why go nuts?"

"Well… when my parents passed away we were still pretty young… I was sixteen and in line to take the throne, and did become Queen for a short time. But I was lost in such grieving… Souseira married and had two children… She also sort of adopted my position because I was mentally unfit at the time to rule."

"Wow did those tables ever end up turning…" Crono blinked.

"She was… rather interested in a project that was started by our father, which I believe was key to his and Mother's sudden illness and death. A project to find new energy sources… and they found it, I believe, in Lavos. It was… almost overnight that Sosueira changed, too." Reiz stared at the portrait for a long time, "Her husband most suddenly passed away and then she changed. But I fear she actually had killed him."

"Greeeat." Crono held his head, " Bringer of obliteration -and- insanity. And I thought ending the world was as bad as it got. Okay, so they tapped into Lavos, she went crazy, started making people 'mysteriously' pass away, and... and nobody is doing anything? Everyone seems pretty content around here."

"She immediately persecuted those who dare question her and had them killed. She even replaced our general with a complete idiot just because he hasn't the capacity to THINK of going against her… She obliterated any foreseeable force against her."

"What horrors… how didst she eliminate so many so fast? If the general of these lands was against her, surely he would have had some strength to stand against her. Didst the people not rise up in unison?"

"No… because it happened so quickly news simply didn't get around, and by the time everyone knew, they were terrified…"

"Mngh…" Crono sighed, "Well, good thing you have us around, huh?"

"Reiz stay safe, Ayla, Crono, Frog make sure! Beat silly Queen!"

"No. I won't let you do that."

"Why not?!?" Ayla was just as confused as everyone else.

"She is my Souseira. My little sister. My family…"

"She's nuts. Kills people. And is high on Lavos." Crono looked at Reiz straight in the eyes, "Your little sister? Ain't in there no more."

"She is." Reiz stared sternly back at him.

"...okay, apparently this is a bad time for talking about this. Maybe we should tackle that subject later."

"Yes… I can't bring any of the rest of this with me. Let's be off, hm?" Reiz smiled disarmingly and started back upstairs.

"What ways a lady has with the events about her…" Frog ribbited and followed her up, the other two coming along shortly after.