The wind howled outside the Truce Inn. As twilight settled on the quaint medieval village, a thunderstorm could be heard approaching and sending a volley of wind to announce its arrival.
The young lady leaned on the tavern counter with her back to the bartender. Propping herself up with her elbows, she watched the closed door and listened to the coming squall. With a flip of her ponytail, she turned a glance towards her mop-topped companion and gave a knowing smile. Her friend was nursing a mug of cider, having felt pressured to make a purchase while the two waited for their comrade. The bespectacled companion returned a forced grin; the ale was bitter and all but nauseating to her.
A bearded man at the end of the bar began staring at the two. Squinting his eyes, he slowly stood and walked up to the pair. To the ponytailed lady he said:
“No, I’m not,” Marle interrupted with a smirk, “but I get that a lot.”
It took a great deal of concentration to suppress her laughter as the man confusedly returned to his stool. The Guardian princess from the year 1000 A.D. enjoyed her uncanny resemblance to her 400-year-old ancestor. Her friend, the inventor Lucca, chose to release her own chortle over the incident.
Marle leaned over to speak to her companion, but her words were cut off by a flash of light accompanied by and ear-splitting clap and metallic whine. While the other tavern patron dismissed the occurrence as a nearby lightning bolt, the two young women knew better and ran outside to meet their comrade.
The futuristic time jet called Epoch had landed only about a dozen yards from the inn. Its once-spotless exterior was now badly soiled from its travels. However, it had proved to be more than ready for the numerous tasks its owners had placed upon it. Silently, Lucca thanked the Guru of Reason for his costly efforts to finish what was his greatest invention.
The top-oriented hatch opened and a red-haired boy popped out. The young swordsman beckoned to his friends, but they were already nearing the craft by the time he saw them.
“Hi, Crono!” Marle piped as she hopped into the Epoch.
“How did your mom take the news?” Lucca asked as she climbed into her seat next to the princess.
“I told her as little as I could to stay out of trouble,” the lad answered.
It was not until after Crono and his friends had rid the world of the menace called Lavos that their families at home discovered what they had been doing for the benefit of the world. However, a celebration in honor of the group was cut short when Crono’s mother, chasing after her unruly cat, inadvertently entered the waning Timegate created at Lucca’s Telepod. A short trip in the epoch found her and her cat near Truce Canyon in the year 600.
Once she was found, the trio’s only problem lay in convincing Crono’s mother that the boy was safe throughout their entire journey, when they knew that things were just the opposite.
“How much does she know?” the Guardian heir queried.
“She knows that we did some favors for some people in the past and future; that’s all. She thinks we should all get a medal for being civic-minded,” the young ronin explained.
“Yeah, I suppose saving humanity deserves a medal of some sort,” Lucca kidded.
After a few adjustments to the Epoch’s time gauge, Crono elevated the time machine and prepared to send it back to his present era.
“You know,” Marle suggested, “we could visit Frog while we’re here.”
“I don’t know,” Lucca protested. “It would be best if we didn’t stick around here for too long. We don’t want to do anything that might change history again.”
And with that, the time jet soared northward, splitting the fabric of time-space with a monumental boom.
Fifty yards away, a body rustled through a large bush. A diminutive figure sprung out from its leafy hiding place. The bald-headed, pointy-eared Imp had seen the fancy metal bird disappear after the three familiar characters had boarded. He excitedly seized his canoe and oar and headed for the southern shore.
Reaching the coast, the Imp threw his boat into the water and paddled furiously towards the nearby island. Hastily leaving the dinghy behind, he found the place on the isle called Vortex Point. A feeble jump turned into a majestic leap as a magical force grasped the troll and pulled it through a little-known passageway that lead to the wizard Magus’ ruined fortress.
Junco’s master would forgive him for using the new secret shortcut. The news he had would be very valuable to the Mystic leader.
A blinding shimmer of light preceded the Epoch’s return to the trio’s home. Momentum carried the craft northward as its pilot searched for the dismantled Millennial Fairgrounds so he could park the time jet. But as Crono scanned the surroundings he could not find his intended landing spot. In fact, he could find no buildings at all.
Marle, initially wanting to see the view from the lofty air chariot, found herself leaning as close to the window as her seat harness allowed. Confounded, she inquired:
“Crono, isn’t this Truce Canyon?”
“It should be,” the pilot replied.
Soon all three youths were gazing at the unfamiliar landscape. Lucca stated, “Well, those look like the Truce Mountains, but there’s no village around here.”
“And there’s where Guardia Forest should be,” Marle declared, pointing at a scant collection of trees to the west.
Crono put the Epoch in a holding pattern above the place where Truce Village should have been. As they circled the area, the three adventurers pondered their situation.
“The Wings of Time don’t transcend space when they are activated,” Lucca thought aloud. “We should have ended up in the place we occupied in the Middle Ages. This coast must be Truce Harbor. Look; there’s the island where my house… should be,” she said, indicating a now-barren land mass.
“What happened, then?” Crono asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Wait a minute!” the princess exclaimed “I think I see some house to the west!”
After following the young lady’s directions and landing the Epoch several dozen yards from the strange collection of buildings, the trio cautiously approached the village.
The layout of the community resembled Truce to a point. An inn, market, and large estate resembling that of the mayor resided where they had in the familiar Truce. But, as the three wandered around the deathly quiet hamlet, they failed to recognize most of the houses and other establishments.
Crono noticed a house that held an oddly personal air about it. He stopped in his tracks and addressed his compatriots:
“I think… this is my house.”
“How do you know?” Marle queried as the boy walked up to the front door and tentatively rapped just below a strange rounded window.
Opening slowly, the portal revealed Crono’s mother, looking slightly haggard. Sighing in relief at the sight of her child, the woman threw the door open and stepped aside to allow the trio entrance.
“Where have you been, son? You know I don’t want you outside for too long,” she scolded.
“But it’s still light out,” Crono protested as he and his companions filed inside and seated themselves at the kitchen table. “Don’t you remember where we’ve been?”
“Daytime has nothing to do with it,” his mother retorted, returning to her preparation of dinner. “And as long as you stay inside the city, you can go wherever you want.”
The children shot bewildered looks among themselves. Brow furrowed, the young swordsman asked slowly: “Mom, why isn’t Truce on the east coast?”
Slamming her cutting knife to the kitchen counter in frustration, the boy’s guardian turned to him and declared, “Crono, you know that the city hasn’t been on that coast for generation. We just moved it to this spot ten years ago.”
“But why would we move it?”
Annoyance quickly yielded to anger as the woman commanded: “Son, stop talking about this right now!”
“About what?” Crono inquired apologetically, growing more confused as the conversation persisted.
Stepping up to her son, the mother said, almost in a whisper, “Crono, you know it’s bad luck to talk about the Curse of the Mystics.”
Speechless, the youth turned an astonished glance to the middle of the kitchen table. The Guardian princess stood slowly and pronounced grimly:
“I think something terrible has happened to our history.”
To Chapter Two
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