The Devil Wants To Know
"We stop here for the night." Magus ordered
"No!" shouted back the Guardian Princess, "We beat the last one, we're almost there! We can get to the summit if we keep going!"
"I can't believe I'm saying this, Marle, but I'm with Magus on this one!" Lucca called back, the wind of Death Peak whipping her hair in front of her glasses. "It's too dangerous with the sun below the horizon. It'll be freezing out here and we could really get into trouble if we don't set up a shelter." The three travelers were exhausted after fighting not one but three of Lavos's spawns as well as many other monsters while trying desperately to reach the summit. Now, just about another few miles up was the summit, the point they'd be hungry to reach to restore Crono. Marle huffed pulling close her scarf around her neck and beginning to proceed on her own ahead. Taking out her climbing pick and safety hooks, she began to survey the cliff side.
"Marle! Come now, you're being irrational. We'll be no help to Crono if you're a popsicle!" Lucca stated. Marle bit her lip and looked up to survey the pending climb. It's not that far, She thought to herself, if they won't help then I'll save Crono myself.
"Mar—hey!" the scientist screeched as Magus pushed her out of the way, "What the hell, Magus?"
"Set up the shelter." He gestured, "Make sure it's the best we have. We're in for a long night."
"Oh? What are you going to do?" she asked, slowly motioning to her bag to get out the Shelter capsule.
Magus scowled at her and took several quick long strides to Marle, who had already secured her safety line in the cliff. As she moved to dig in the next hook, Magus's hand lashed out and grabbed hers, "Leave it." He said.
Marle glared at him and jerked in frenzy, "Let me go! We have to get to the top to bring Crono back!"
"Crono is dead, princess. I can assure you that he is not going anywhere fast." He stated coldly. Marle stopped fighting and narrowed her eyes at him, "If it was Schala, you'd be behaving just like me… so let me go."
At the mention of his beloved sister, Magus bared his teeth, an animal like sound emitting from his throat as gripped tighter on her wrist. The princess winced but did not cry out, "If I didn't need you to get to Lavos, I would slit your pretty throat for that, your highness."
"Call… me… Marle." She growled.
"Fine, Marle. Climb to your death. You'll freeze as soon as the sun is completely gone. With you will go the Chrono Trigger, the ability to activate the pendant, and all hope for saving the planet. While I have no care for any of you, or your foolish little dead boyfriend, I do have a score to settle and I have waited over twenty years for my shot at Lavos. I will not have some head-strong stubborn girl ruin that for me!" he murmured in a sinister voice.
It was at that point Magus heard a click in is ear and turned his head to see the barrel of Lucca's gun in his face, "That's quite enough, your royalnesses. Now if you please, let's be civil. We can all get through the night in the shelter without killing the other, right?" Lucca suggested, with a smile. Magus growled again as Marle yanked her wrist away. While neither would admit it, they were relieved Lucca set up a sturdy shelter that already had a fire going. The three walked inside and Lucca locked the door. Inside the shelter was big; big enough to have a sleeping area, a small bathroom, and a living/dining area, with a small hearth and warm fire. A unanimous sigh came from all of them as they dropped their bags and weapons on the floor.
Lucca exhaled heavily, moving to the hearth and unpacking some rations to cook everyone, "Who wants lasagna?" she asked cheerfully. However, upon looking at Magus and Marle – both still leering at the other, she sighed and prepared for the long night.
She couldn't sleep with the same nightmare she had over and over ever since he died.
"Crono! Wait! Please!" she screamed, as she saw him in the distance walking away into a dark void where arms were reaching out to eat his body and soul, "Don't go that way, Crono! Stay here! CRONO, PLEASE COME BACK!"
"Crono!" she cried as she shot up in bed. Marle gripped her sheets so hard her knuckles were white, trembling at the nightmare she just had. She let her face fall to her hands as she gasped to regain her breath. The same nightmare again; I hope it means nothing. Glancing over to her companion, Lucca slept soundly in her bed, mumbling about equations and inventions she was dreaming about. Marle smiled and walked over to her cot, passing a hand through her hair and standing up, "I'm so selfish. I keep thinking I'm the only one suffering with Crono gone."
"Why are you awake?" the Mystic King's voice called from behind the sectional. Marle huffed and walked out, ready to battle with her tongue if needed
"If you must know, I had a nightmare!" she whispered loudly.
"You can speak normally. You two sleep like the dead. If anything attacked this place, you would be goners if I was not here." He boasted, "Fortunately, I put a magick protective seal on this place. We are invisible until we leave the door in the morning."
Marle 'hmphed' at his arrogance, sitting down on the far end of the couch he sat on.
"And why aren't you asleep?" she snapped, "Does the mighty King of Mystics find it too weak to close his eyes for an hour or so?"
Magus's crimson eyes shifted to her. She dare not show that his eyes that slit like a carnivorous panther in the light frightened her. Her heart leapt into her throat and she tore her eyes from his as she felt him trying to borrow into her being, "Okay, I'm sorry!"
The dark feeling left her and she managed to compose herself to look back at him.
"I have nightmares as well that keep me awake." He said in a quiet voice, taking from his bag a small flask and sipping it. Marle said nothing and just stared at him. They exchanged glances for an awkward moment before Magus handed her the flask, "Drink this, it'll restore your strength and magick. It's a mega-elixir."
Marle took the flask, suspiciously and put it to her mouth. As soon as the liquid went down her throat, she began to cough violently. Magus chuckled and took it back from her, capping it and putting the flask back in his bag, "It's strong. You'll feel better in a minute."
"Oh my Goddess! How do you drink that crap?" she coughed. He just continued to laugh and it took Marle a moment to realize that Magus was just being kind to her. What was more so was she felt better then ever. Magus nodded, noticing the princess's change in demeanor, "See? All better."
"T-Thanks." She stammered. Magus nodded and turned his attention back to the fire, making some gestures with his hands as he did. Like a cobra to a snake charmer, the fire followed Magus's hand and dancing to his whim. Moments of silence passed between them and Marle herself slowly became hypnotized by the dancing flame. Noticing her eyes becoming glazed over, Magus paused the flame "If you wish to sleep, I can cast a spell so it's a dreamless one."
Marle shook her head, slapping her cheeks then looking at him, "No, no I'm fine. The flame got to me."
"I see." He said, going back to his manipulation.
Another several moments passed and Marle sat there studying Magus. By all accounts, despite being terrifying at times, incredibly rude, and full of himself, Magus was incredibly handsome. His defined jaw and high cheek bones with his perfectly shaped crimson eyes and his long azure locks would surly entice a woman given the right circumstances. She knew he was built; his pale skin like chiseled marble; to see him now dressed only in a peasant shirt and pants was almost disarming. The only thing that set her off was his Mystic-like ears and cat-like eyes. Apart of her pitied him, for he was neither man nor fiend. What horrors and hells did he go through to transform from the timid Prince of Zeal to the fearsome King of Mystics? Her mind dare not think about it.
"Is there something on my face, your highness?" He asked, "Your staring awfully intently of me. Surveying your enemy?"
"On the contrary," Marle said, daringly moving closer to him. Magus froze and narrowed his eyes at her. She looked at him with no fear or malice in her eyes, but instead with eyes he had not seen since he was in Zeal, "I'm trying to make a friend."
Her expression tugged at his heart as his eyes trailed to her pendant, hanging around her neck, "Ha… a friend? You must be exhausted, Marle."
Marle reached up to her pendant and shook her head, "I'm sorry about what I said earlier. About Schala… I was so mad and determined to reach the top that I lost sight of the dangers of going on."
His eyes shot up at her face and glared for a moment before he let out a grunt, "You have no right to speak about her."
Marle tilted her head to the side and scooted a little closer, "You miss her a lot, don't you?"
Silence was her responds.
"I know it's hard but, we have to keep going and trying. If there is a way to get Crono back then I'm sure there is a way to find Schala."
"I've accepted the fact that my sister could've been crushed to death in the Ocean Palace, Marle, and that there is no chance of bringing her back. You should try to wrap your brain around the concept of Crono being unable to be resurrected because of Lavos destroying his body and soul." He stated with a cool and level tone.
Marle's initial reaction was to argue with him that he was heartless but she took a moment to examine what he had just said, "You don't believe Schala is dead. You wouldn't be here if you did. You think that somehow if you can get to and defeat Lavos, you can get to Schala."
"And what makes you think that I hold such a delusion?" Magus barked back.
"I believe it because you love her more then anything else in the Mortal Coil," Marle replied, "I saw the way you clung to her as Janus, the way you obeyed her as the prophet, and—"
"I intentionally made her despise me as the prophet." His voice cut in, with a hint of regret in his voice.
"And why was that? Did you think that if she knew who you were she'd be disgusted?" she inquired. Magus grit his teeth and looked back at the fire, "You didn't want her to get close to you again because it would've jeopardized everything."
"I had to figure out what was going to happen and see if I could get to Lavos. You need to understand, I only knew what happened from when before I was pulled into the gate. I didn't know Zeal fell until I was in a raid on Guardia Castle. I found an ancient diary of your ancestors. The first King of Guardia was what we would've slanged as a mix breed, Half Zealian and half Earthbound. The only distinction of those people is that they have some magickal abilities but either fail to properly control them or they cannot use them limitlessly. While Zealians could use magick when their mana was low or out after replenishing themselves, those who were mixed could only use their powers maybe once a week, a month, or even once every several years. The first king gave a detailed account of the fall of Zeal. I'm sure none of your kin in the era could read it, but even on that weathered paper with the script fading, I could see the language of Zeal. Monarchy's keep such silly treasures…"
Marle felt her heart sink at his words, "Did you ever find out what happened to Schala? Or how the pendant came to be in my family?"
To her surprise, the Fiendlord relaxed finally and looked back at her with normal eyes. He passed a hand through his hair and rested his chin on his palm, leaning against the arm of the sofa, "Just vague accounts and rumors, nothing solid as far as the pendant or Schala goes. The only account of the pendant was 'by the grace of the Gods above we were blessed with the sacred pendant of the holy family of Zeal to be carried on in our new kingdom', there was nothing on Schala and I highly doubt that the pendant could've magickally floated from her corpse in the Ocean Palace up to the surface and so far from the scene."
"You keep talking like you knew she died. You don't know anything, you said it yourself you had no idea about what happened because you weren't there! Was there ever a moment where you witnessed her death? No. So why talk like that?" Marle cried.
Magus was quiet for a moment and looked back at the fired, "Because if I never find her, I need to preserve my sanity with some resolution on the matter."
"That's a load of crap and you know it, Magus." Again, slit eyes flared at her, "You survived all you did, I'm sure Schala has done the same! She was such a strong woman, you know that. There's no way she didn't survive!"
Slowly, his pupils dilated again and his temper calmed, "I know Schala's strength better then anyone else…"
"So don't be so negative! You're going to have a lot to explain to her and talk to her about when this is all over." Marle stated, cheerfully. A half smile graced his face and Marle found herself caught off guard. When he wasn't scowling or otherwise emotionless, she thought him almost attractive. Though she had many handsome suitors come and go in her life, Marle only ever found herself attracted to Crono, but she was so shy and unsure of how he felt about her. It wasn't until when he died she felt a swell of unfamiliar emotions. As a princess, she wasn't able to date or see people. But it was in the moment he died, she felt an overwhelming desperation to see him again. She took a moment to appreciate the man before her though. Magus, by all accounts, was a beautiful man. The long flowing hair, high cheekbones, and defined jaw line; in ever sense of the word he was what royalty regarded as the 'prime leader'. He could be both regal and charming or fearsome and commanding. He gave her a sideways glance and narrowed his eyes again.
"Magus…" she began.
"Is death final for anyone?"
Magus took a moment to gather his thoughts, "I can imagine natural death is since no one lives forever. Perhaps it's the conditions of which someone died that Fate allows the ability to potentially resurrect or prevent one's death. Of course, both I'm sure have an immense effect on the flow of time, regardless of how a person's death is changed."
"So, in bringing back Crono, do you think we'd be causing another chain of events to be set off in a later timeline?"
"There is no doubt about that, your highness. Because if we are unsuccessful, it means we were meant to be unsuccessful and we'll be forced to carry on without him to complete our ultimate goal. Our lives will move on and you will have to accept his ended." That thought terrified Marle. If she could never see Crono again, to hear his voice, or to be around him she couldn't imagine feeling love in her heart again.
"You said 'meant to be'…"
"I did. I've learned there are some things in life that you cannot change no matter how prepared you may think you are to change it. Had I the power, I never would've let Schala be alone…"
Marle nodded slowly, "But we never showed up in your time period, correct?"
"No, but I figured if you were able to do all you did to mount an attack against me and penetrate my fortress that you were not from the Middle Ages. The Masamune was in pieces when even Cyrus went to retrieve it, I knew that because I got there first to destroy it."
"Did you break the Masamune, Magus?"
A smirk curled over his lips once more, "I destroyed the Dreamstone in it which ultimately broke the sword, yes. The twins recognized me even after all those years… I was amazed how unguarded they were."
"So you figured with that sword out of commission and no Dreamstone to repair it, you were free to do as you wished."
"Something like that." He mused, "You all were too obvious."
Marle laughed and leaned back slightly, "I haven't thought about what I'll do if we don't succeed. I guess I just view getting Crono back as impossible to fail."
"Such is the power of our will." Magus replied, calmly, "If you keep intentions focused and true, you'll never waver from your goals."
She turned her head to look at him, "Is that what keeps you going?"
"No," he stated, "I have something I'm willing to do anything for."
"Or someone…?" Marle inquired, leaning towards him. Magus's eyes once again turned to the cat-like slits as a low growl came from the back of his throat, "It's okay, Magus, I know how you feel."
"Hardly, I've been living with this for over twenty years now… you've only dealt with a loss for a few months."
"The loss of someone loved, be it a day or a decade, still aches in the heart just the same, Magus."
Magus said nothing and looked away from her. There was an undeniable weight in his chest that was making it hard to seem composed. It was in these moments where he preferred solitude that his nostalgia and worry for Schala came through. He had made all attempts to kill his emotions and any kind of softness in his being. The only person he wanted to be close to was Schala, but oh how to tell her what he had been through. The truth was, despite his condescending of Marle's hopes, never once did he consider if it was impossible to retrieve Schala. The reality was he felt it was impossible to lose her forever and he would not rest until she was in his arms again. Lost in his own thoughts he snapped back to reality when he realized that Marle was hugging him. Too stunned to move or push her away, he just sat there for a moment, "It must be so hard for you sometimes. You lost everything and still you press on… you're so much stronger then me, Magus but I can see how this all wears on you too… I know we have our differences but I'm here if you ever want to talk or need someone."
A slight warmth came to his face as he lightly grasped her arm. Marle's embrace reminded him so much of Schala's that it tugged at his heart. As much as he wanted to make her get off of him, the greater desire to stay in her arms overtook him. To Marle's surprise, Magus turned into her and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist, resting his head in the curve between her neck and shoulders. She smiled warmly and passed a hand through his hair, being aware not to overstep her boundaries. Several moments of silence passed between them as they sat there, both appreciating the other's sorrow and wonder on what lie ahead.
"You'll never stop looking for her, will you?" Marle whispered.
Magus shook his head, "Even if the Chrono Trigger doesn't work, would that stop you from trying to find another way to get him back?"
Marle sighed and rested her chin on his head, "No…"
It was at that point he raised his head to look up at her. Marle felt her face grow hot as they were practically nose to nose. His pupils were dilated and a sound that almost resembled a purr came from the back of his throat. Magus reached his hand up and lightly brushed her cheek, admiring her beauty. For being an annoyance, she was a strong woman and had many attributes of his adoring sister. She was kind, caring, and tried to see the best in everyone. While Magus didn't know if he considered that a weakness in Marle, he knew he admired it in Schala. Taken aback by his gesture of affection, Marle froze, unable to react or move but slowly relaxed under his touch. She wanted so badly for him to be Crono, to be holding him so close and having him touch her so gently. They both stared at the other, neither moving back, if anything inching closer. Magus grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her so their lips were just brushing. Marle gasped as he did, trembling in his grasp, not in fear but in anticipation. It didn't feel like Magus touching her, in fact when she closed her eyes she felt Crono. Magus moved to lightly kiss under her chin and neck, moving her so she straddled his waist. It was at that point he pulled her face to his again, "Are you seeing him right now as I touch you, princess?" He whispered in a husky voice.
Marle nodded, "Are you seeing her as you touch me?"
"Yes." He purred, forcing her lips to his kissing her roughly. Marle fell into the frenzy as he lifted her up and laid her back down beneath him, drunk with the thought of Crono flooding her head. The strong hands of the Mystic King explored her body carefully and he kissed down her neck to her cleavage. The princess moaned and arched her back towards him, his lips hungrily searching for hers again. It was when his hands slid down her body to begin to brush her lower regions that something inside Marle snapped back to reality and a wave hit her; He was not Crono and against his lips she murmured desperately "Magus, I'm not Schala!"
Her statement set him back as well, as he stopped immediately and froze. The two lay there for a moment, foreheads touching and panting. Marle put a hand on his cheek and brushed some strands of hair out of his eyes. He said nothing, just hung his head in a mix of shame and disappointment. He was deluding himself to see her through another woman again.
"It's okay." She reassured him, with a small smile, "It was an accident… just two lonely people missing someone else."
"Mmhmm.." He said rising from her and retreating to his cot, "Never speak of this to anyone."
Marle nodded in agreement then returned to her bed. Neither spoke another word to the other for the rest of the night or recalled it any other time.
The gate stood open at the fair grounds as they all said their good-byes. While Crono shook Frog's hand and Ayla bear hugged Lucca and Robo together, Magus mutely crossed to the gate. Marle turned away from her friends and approached him. He said nothing, but turned towards her, "There is no need for some sentimental goodbye, Princess Nadia."
"So, are you going to go search for Schala now?" she asked, with a smile. Magus smirked at her and lightly grasped her hand. He leaned over and whispered in her ear then dashed towards the gate. Marle blushed and looked where he had gone. Crono came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder, "Crono…"
"Did he say something to you, Marle? Are you okay" He asked with a voice full of concern.
Marle smiled and kissed him, "He said I have potential to be a great and gentle ruler."
Crono flashed her a handsome grin and pulled her close, "I can agree with him completely."
What would an angel say? The devil wants to know…