Chapter 5

Long over due disclaimer: Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and their characters are both property of Square Enix. The only characters I own are Lord Serpedes, Talzar, Cassander, Talia, and Cyrus Jr.

One can only run so far with an injury on their leg. This is especially true with one that nearly severed a tendon. Lucca and Kid did not stop running until they cleared the cave that was the only way to the isle the castle was on. At this stop in a deciduous tree grove, Kid pressed a hand to her bleeding gash. It helped a little, but then the blood threatened to seep out from between her fingers. In desperation, she tore off a sleeve from her already lack thereof shirt and tied it tightly around the wound. "God, bugger..." She sighed, more annoyed than in pain. "There's gotta be someone headin' to Truce around here. Unless ya know the way, sis?"

In all honesty, Lucca only had a guess as to how to get to Truce. From the big adventure, she vaguely remembered traveling from Middle Ages Truce to Magus's Castle, which is what she realized was the place they had imprisoned her. Why they chose a half destroyed castle was beyond even her, but she thought of there possibly being a significance to the current occupants of the castle. To simplify her answer to Kid's question, she swiftly shook her head, but continued to look around. There seemed to be a path through the trees, and she made her point more clear by beginning to walk ahead. "I thought the rescuer did most of the leadin'." Kid mumbled to herself before once again following Lucca. It took about an hour to get through the grove, which only led to a wall of trees that signified the start of Fiona's Forest. Kid, not knowing the story of the forest as well as Lucca did, let out a loud, exasperated groan. "Ya think ya know where you're goin', then we only find more bloody trees! I love ya as my big sis, but it's the middle of the bloody night and we need to find... civilization!" As stressed as Kid was, her pride still refused to use the word "help" to refer to what she needed.

Lucca immediately replied to her short rant with a firm bark, which was the only way she could say, "I know what I am doing, just be patient!" She then turned to face the trees and began to walk forward. Kid made one more groan before following after, muttering to herself. "The effin' things I do for me sister!" Lucca's desperation began to show as well, for as she trudged through the seemingly endless trees, she howled and whined loudly to signal for help. Hopefully, someone from the shrine would hear them.

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It was getting to be too much for him. No longer could he sit in his throne like a king should, but only pace around the room nervously, swiftly returning to the proper place at the slightest twitch that someone may be coming. The thought of Lucca being gone forever, it was much like a sister being slaughtered right before your eyes. This was fueled by the fact that the last seconds he saw her was being cursed by that dark amulet.

The amulet.

That sent a whole new volley of questions into his mind. What did it do to her? Will she act differently? Is she being haunted? Or, worst of all, will she be completely unrecognizable? Possibly even forget who he was, being replaced by nothing but pain?

Just as the worst was coming, his attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps coming from the hallway to his bedroom. By his routine, he flew over to the throne and hastily sat down just as Marle appeared at the foot of the steps. She walked the few feet to the thrones and looked at Crono with much worry. "Dear? It's very late. Can you at least come to our bedroom?"

Crono let out a stressed sigh and walked over to his wife. He looked at her only to have pleading sea green eyes look back, which softened him a little. Even though it had been 20 years since they defeated Lavos, he could still remember the feeling of her being next to him, whenever it was battle or walking around the countries. That led to more memories of them together: when he asked her father for her hand in marriage, him approving of it, the day of truth actually happening, when they found out she was pregnant, and when Prince Cassander had arrived. It was then he realized that the whole time, he had loved her deeply, and still did, maybe even more.

Simply put, he loved Marle too much to not tell her everything that bothered him. Once she was in arm's reach, Crono put his arm around her waist and they walked up the stairs together. Now was the time he had to say everything in his thoughts, like having poison within him and to taste it on his tongue as he spoke. "There's a lot more to it than just Lucca. It's the fact that she's been a part of my life for as long as it is. As if it wasn't bad enough they took that from me, or all of us, we also saw them putting that dark amulet on her. God knows what it did to her, but I can imagine it was horrible. We might not recognize her, she might not recognize us, or maybe they even turned her against us. Can you imagine her being by their side? And they send her for us, and all she sees from us was a world of pain and suffering? What if even-"

Marle couldn't listen to him say those things anymore. She put a finger to his lips and started her comfort. "Crono, you can't let anything give you anxiety like this. You could be over thinking. And even if not, is it anything like we haven't handled in the past? I mean, you know that you shouldn't be here today after what happened in Zeal Kingdom, but you are. That's because we were able to bring you back. If we were able to get you back, why not Lucca?"

Crono heaved a deep sigh, then he continued, his eyes half-closed. "I see. It's just, she was like the sister I never got. She was picked on a lot by other kids when we were young. I wanted to make sure she felt fully supported, unlike me, because of my father..."

There was absolutely no exception to the rule that Crono's dad was a highly sensitive subject. The fact that it was brought up by Crono himself meant that the whole situation became more serious for both of them. At first, Marle thought she had it bad with her father: little to no freedom, having to sneak out to do anything interesting, and being dragged to boring and monotonous Privy Council meetings. Of course, had her father not been so strict, she likely would have never sneaked out to see the fair and, quite literally, run into the man who was now holding her 20 years later. Crono's story, however, is not as happy. He had told Marle the story once, but she didn't want to remember the full details of it. All she had to know was that it involved a major fight between his parents, a sister he never had due to a miscarriage by beating, and the last and bitter words he heard his father say to him as he was being dragged away by the Guardian soldiers: "Son, you better not marry any bitches like this; I will know if you do." That was then the door closed on his insane expression. Presumably he was executed the next day, which was no doubt for the better.

To their relief, they had arrived at the bedroom. Crono reached out and opened the door with his spare arm and let go of Marle to allow her to walk to the bed. He changed out of his robes surprisingly quick and joined his wife, folding the sheets over and climbing in. She turned over and looked at him, noticing he was still quite stiff with worry. "Crono, just try to get some sleep. If we need to, we can send out a search party for her. Just... please rest."

Crono sighed. "I'll try. Good night, Marle." He gave her a peck on the lips before trying to drift off. Marle slowly closed her eyes, but something was nagging in the back of her mind. Was there possibly some truth to Crono's concerns? There was a feel like that. Should she listen to that feeling? After all, she could feel it for days when someone would come for them, and came they did: for Lucca. Despite the worry, she drifted off, though with a slightly less sense of security.

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She could only howl for so long. Lucca began to sway as she walked on all fours, panting for a bit before feebly howling in misery again. Even Kid had sleeplessness in her eyes, who clumsily trudged after the wolf. Soon, it was too much. Lucca whined more than howled before collapsing at the base of a tree. Kid followed suit, sitting herself down to the left of her sister and leaning against the trunk. She let out an exhausted and despaired sigh and felt herself already drifting off. Soft snores were coming from the wolf-turned human as she fingered her dressed wound. The blood had mostly dried and she could feel it trying to scab over, which wouldn't be a big deal if they could get sis's queen friend to heal it. As she lowered her hand to the ground, she slowly closed her eyes, mumbling "We're getting' outta this together sis, I know we will."

It felt like her eyes were only closed for a few seconds before she heard the sound of steps crunching the leaves that made the forest floor. From her gritty raider instincts, her eyes shot open and she turned her head left and right in the near darkness. Lucca was already standing bolt upright and staring straight ahead, her tail wagging and hitting the tree in anticipation. Certainly enough, the dim glow of an oil lamp could be seen several yards away through the trees. When it seemed to move a few feet to the left, Lucca whined loudly to signal the approaching person. This caused the rustling and crunching to stop abruptly. Kid used this moment to jump to her feet, causing jolts of pain from her gash, and called out. "Hello? We see ya there! We need help! Come over here!" After a few tense seconds of hesitation, the mysterious lamp holder began trudging toward Kid and Lucca. "Yes! Over here! Can ya lead us to shelter?" The light grew brighter as it drew near, and after going past one final tree, it blinded the two before being brought down to the side of the holder, which was a woman in a nun's robes. She looked somewhat tired in the glow of the lamp, but also relieved. "We heard something from the shrine. It sounded like it needed help. Would that have been you?"

So, they had been heard after all. Kid smiled in relief and walked over to the wolf, patting her on the head. "Yes, that would've been me doggy here; we both got lost and need to get back to Truce soon as possible." Lucca played along by happily panting. Kid silently praised herself for being able to make up lies quickly. If she couldn't, well, she didn't want to imagine that.

The nun seemed to take this. Then she looked a little confused. "Truce? How did you wander that far away? We can send you on a ferry in the morning, but first, come with me back to the shrine. It's quite late, after all." She didn't question them being from Truce any further and motioned for them to follow her. With the small amount of rest they had, they were able to walk alongside the nun in the lamplight, stepping over tree roots Kid usually tripped over (Lucca could see better in the dark) before they stopped to rest. It was about a fifteen minute walk, which was a welcome break compared to the run, before they could see the spires that indicated the shrine between the trees. Kid was not as familiar with it, so she gazed at the ornately built building dedicated to Fiona and Robo. It looked much like one would expect a traditional chapel to look like with indigo spires and a stained glass painting of a woman that must have been Fiona. Kid and Lucca stopped a few feet away from the door as the nun continued and reached her free hand to open one of the ornately carved wooden double doors. The door swung open to reveal rows of pews with a blue long carpet down the middle. Kid and Lucca continued forward into the shrine, which was lit brightly by torches. The nun turned off the lamp she was carrying and walked over to the others which sat in the pews; apparently, they were also worried about the stranger in the forest. "I have found them. They need to rest here for the night and return to Truce in the morning." She explained to the rest. They all rose from the pews nearly in unison and filed out to the door that led to the rooms. The leader turned to Kid. "I will show you to your room. We will bring you food if you need it."

As she said that, Kid realized how hungry she was. She hadn't eaten since last evening, which was when she was having dinner, a loaf of bread, under a tree near Truce. That was when she saw the blokes of soldiers walk past her carrying a tied up unconscious wolf, saying things like "We got Ashtear; our master will be so proud!" Thus started this whole run-away-like-a-fugitive operation. Not needing to go into those details, she simply replied, "Yes, thank yew." and followed after her. In truth, Kid felt a little awkward, since she wasn't used to being treated in such a way outside of her sister and brother-in-law. Normally, people took a look at her clothes and scowled at her for being a pirate and raider. Maybe it's somethin' to do with nuns. Religions can be weird. It was only a walk down the hall and three doors down on the left before she opened the door to a rather simple room. It was about fifteen by fifteen feet with a simple bed in the far right corner paired with a nightstand and a table oil lamp. There was also a small bookshelf on the left wall flanked by two armchairs. The whole room was tied together with a coffee table in the middle set on a wavy weave oval rug. Kid and Lucca stepped in, with Kid sitting on the bed almost right away and Lucca walking slightly toward the bookshelf.

"Stay here, and I'll return with some food." The nun said gently before closing the door, followed by footsteps down the hall. Kid pulled back the blanket on the bed and half way got in. The softness of the sheets immediately made her miss the little house she stayed at with Serge. The two always had a spark between them, but it was able to cultivate after their journey had ended. Mostly, they owned a small house on the continent east of Truce, but they traveled a lot, both together and alone. The last thing Kid said to him was that she felt the need to visit Truce again. She replayed the conversation in her mind.

"Serge?" Kid called as she looked over to him.

"Yes? Is there something you need?" There he goes, showing his protectiveness, mostly in voice inflection.

"Well, I've just had this feeling, it's a might strange though. It's telling me I need to visit Truce alone sometime. Ya know, my big sis' an' all..."

Serge had a bit of concern in his chocolate eyes, and not from the alone part; he was used to that. "What do you mean, feeling? Is there something else going on?"

Kid had to break the eye contact somewhat. "I... can't really describe it. It's somethin' that's been botherin' me a while. I think it has to do with sis', but all I know is that I have to be there. Ya understand?"

Serge had heard Kid talk about Lucca a lot. However, he didn't get to meet her until after his adventures, because she had been killed by that psychopath Lynx in the now alternate time line. If he didn't get to see this time line where Lucca was never murdered and Kid wasn't a walking storm of negative emotion, he probably wouldn't even have a will to live in it. After having to go through that, he completely understood the concerns for her sister. He took a deep breath, then responded. "Yes... I do. Just, promise me you'll only spend as much time as needed. And please... come back." The last words were something he didn't want to think of, let alone say. Though he wasn't even engaged to Kid, it felt like the two were bonded in such a spiritual way that one would think they were married.

Though Kid knew his seriousness, she couldn't help but tease a little. "I know, but ya know I can take care of me self quite well!" Her tone became more serious. "I bet ya all the things I've ever stol'n that I'll be back in this house. I've too much here to leave behind, right?"

Serge actually smiled at her confidence. "You're right. I believe in you. You may go. When you return, I will be here, waiting for you." At this point, Kid walked over to Serge and embraced him, which he returned. She also managed to sneak a hard kiss on his lips before they broke off and she grabbed her dagger and a loaf of bread. She walked over and opened the door to the late afternoon. As she was about to close the door, she took one last glance at Serge, who echoed his final thought once again. "I'll be here, waiting for you." Those were the words that reverberated for both of them long after the door slammed shut.

As she looped Serge's last words in her mind, she looked over at Lucca. Amusingly enough, she managed to paw a book off of the shelf and was laying in front of it, obviously reading. She smiled at her big sister. So typical of you big sis', doing anythin' to read a book. Her moment was interrupted when there was a knock at the door, which was the nun with the food.

"C'm in!" she called out simply. The door then swung open to reveal her carrying a small basket filled with apples and a few loaves, and something wrapped in parchment, which Lucca sniffed a little at, intrigued. She set the basket on the coffee table and held up the parchment package. "We managed to find something for your dog as well." She unwrapped the top of the parchment to reveal a medium-sized steak, cooked, much to Lucca's relief. She set it on the ground, using the parchment as a plate, and began to leave the room. "I'll come back to wake you up around nine thirty. The next ferry to Truce leaves about an hour after that, and it's not a long walk to the dock from here. In the meantime, I hope you are comfortable here." Then, she closed the door, leaving a peaceful atmosphere in the room by the lamplight.

Lucca had managed to make herself comfortable by chewing small bites off of the steak at a time. Kid also offered her an apple, which she accepted and gnawed on. Kid took a loaf from the stack and began to devour it, considering she hasn't eaten for over 24 hours. It was gone within two minutes, and she moved onto an apple. Once she had eaten her fill, she laid down in the bed and slowly dimmed the lamp. By that time, Lucca had finished her steak and apple and had laid down on part of the rug, drifting off to sleep. Kid took one last look at the wolf, imagining her sister's real face the last time she saw it, and then turned off the lamp completely. She laid her head on the pillow and thought of how long it would be until she could return. No doubt she would return to Serge, that much was sure, but she wasn't leaving until her sister was freed from the wolf's bind. As much as she hated to admit it, she knew this would require some of her friend's help as well. After all, they probably know her a might better than I do. The thought was strangely comforting, and she found herself drifting off for the night. The last thing she could remember before she lost conscious was hearing it again, though it seemed even more real.

I'll be here, waiting for you.