Chrono and Lucca smiled as they saw the King and Queen reunite. They could tell the King wanted to take his wife and kiss her senseless, but royal appearances held him back, and he contented himself with a light caress to her cheek, which had Leene closing her eyes happily as she enjoyed the contact.
"You cannot know how I worried Leene." King Guardia murmured as he took in her appearance, seeing the ripped and dirtied clothing, along with the small scratches on her exposed skin. Thankfully that seemed to be the extent of her injuries, the fiends not having bothered with anything more severe before Yakra planned to execute her.
The Chancellor growled audibly, though whether that was his anger or his stomach was unknown till he spoke, stamping his feet. "Yakra, that vile beast! How dare he impersonate me and kidnap the Queen!" He bowed his head to the King contritely. "I'm sorry, your highness, for my part in these events, unwitting as they may have been. I swear to you that I will do all I can to make up for the pain I've caused you and the kingdom. I already have plans for some proposals to make our criminal justice system stricter to ensure such monsters never threaten the royal family's safety again!"
The King smiled at his trusted advisor. "I'm sure you do, Nicholas." He said gently. "We can discuss them once you have had a chance to recover."
Those assembled turned to Frog when he let out a mournful croak from where he stood near Chrono and Lucca. "I am disgraced." He said, eyes fixed on the floor. "I failed to protect my Queen." He turned and began to leave the throne room.
"Frog!" Queen Leene exclaimed, taking a step towards him, making him pause. He turned back to her and knelt, head hanging low, before standing and leaving. Leene frowned, eyes sad as she watched him leave. "It wasn't your fault…" She murmured softly, her husband laying a gentle hand on her shoulder to comfort her. Then she turned to Chrono and Lucca, doing her best to plaster a grateful smile on her face. "We have you two to thank as well, Chrono, Lucca. Who knows what might have happened to me had you not assisted Frog as you did. He is stronger and more skilled than most of our knights, but I fear even he could have been overwhelmed had he been alone."
"Indeed." The King said as he let his wife go. "The kingdom, and I especially, are grateful. If there is anything we can do to reward you, please, don't hesitate to say so."
Chrono bowed as Lucca once again attempted tu curtsey. "We are just glad to have been able to help, Your Highness. We did not do this for a reward." Chrono said as respectfully as he could.
Leene smiled more genuinely this time. "You are truly exemplary youths." She said warmly. "Most would not have hesitated to request a king's ransom for what you've done." She gave her husband a look, the two communicating wordlessly in that way couples often did, before the King nodded with a small chuckle.
Motioning to one of the guards standing around the throne room he took the man's sword before turning to the two teens. "Please, kneel."
Both Chrono and Lucca looked at each other with wide eyes as they realized what was happening before they did as they were told, heads bowed down.
The King brought the sword down on each of their shoulders, intoning solemnly despite the small smile on his face. "For services to the realm and royal family, I dub thee Sir Chrono and Dame Lucca."
Once the small, impromptu ceremony was complete the guards, Chancellor, and Queen all clapped with smiles on their faces as the two teens stood up.
"Thank you, your highness." Lucca said, a blush on her cheeks. "We couldn't have done it without Frog, though…"
Knowing what she meant, the King sighed sadly. "I would gladly knight the man, if I thought he would be of a mind to accept it. However, you saw what he was like when he left. Perhaps some day, when his pride allows it."
Lucca nodded, understanding.
Leene brought a hand to her cheek, trying to change the subject so as to not bring her own mood down again. "I wished to ask, whatever became of the girl that was mistaken for me?"
Lucca jumped slightly. "Oh yeah! I can't believe we almost forgot about pri-I mean, Nadia." She turned to Chrono, giving him a look.
"She's a friend of ours, milady." Chrono said, thinking fast. "The situation regarding her being confused for you is what got us involved in the entire affair. If you don't mind, Lucca and I will go check on her. She'd decided to get some sleep when I saw her earlier after all the excitement, and I think a friendly face when she wakes would be best."
Leene nodded in understanding. "Yes, I see. I imagine being mistaken for royalty must have been a bit much for the girl. Please do so and bring her down. I would like to meet her."
With a quick bow the two left to do as told, Lucca whispering to her friend. "Fast thinking, Sir Chrono."
"Thank you, Dame Lucca." Chrono said with a brief smile before becoming serious. "Do you think she'll be there?"
"It's the place she disappeared from." Lucca said with a nod. "It makes sense that it would be where she reappears. Maybe if we're lucky she'll already be there."
"We could use a bit of luck after this entire insane day…" He muttered as he walked.
Lucca reached under her glasses, rubbing at her eyes. "Has it really been less than a day since this all started?" She asked tiredly.
Chrono reached over and patted her back lightly.
When they reached the Queen's room they found the maids gossiping near the guard, who looked like someone who was trapped in a bad situation and wanted it to just end. Chrono gave the poor man a commiserating smile as he passed by, the maids going silent as they watched the teens walk by.
Walking into the Queen's chambers they looked around, finding it empty. "She's not here, Lucca." The redhead said seriously as his eyes swept the room.
"Where exactly was she standing when she disappeared?" She asked as she studied the room.
As Chrono led her to the window Marle had been standing by when it all happened they both noticed it. "Think that's it?"
"Mm-hmm…" The scientist hummed as a humanoid shape began to take form.
At first it was barely noticeable, like a smudge against an otherwise clear glass. Slowly it darkened and took on definition, showing Marle as she'd been when she disappeared, in the exact same pose and and with the exact same expression. Finally, when she looked just as solid as the two of them, she dropped to her knees with a whimper, eyes wide and frightened, staring at nothing as she trembled.
Chrono slowly stepped forward. "Marle?"
"Princess Nadia?" Lucca asked at the same time.
The blonde slowly looked up at him. "Ch-Chrono?" She croaked. When she saw it was him she threw herself at him, sobbing into his chest as she clutched at his tunic, trembling. "Oh, Chrono! It was awful! I was so afraid!" She managed to get out through her tears. "I couldn't see or feel anything, but I knew I was someplace cold." She shuddered as Chrono hesitantly wrapped his arms around the girl. "I wonder if that's what it's like to die?"
"It's alright now, Marle. You're safe and sound." Chrono said soothingly as Marle began to calm.
Lucca slowly approached, looking pained. "Your Highness, I-"
Marle turned to look at Lucca, though she still held onto Chrono. "You came to help me too, Lucca?" She asked, smiling gratefully at the other girl. Then she blinked as she registered what the plum haired girl had said. "Wait... 'Your Highness'?" Her eyes went wide. "Uh-oh…" She looked up at Chrono who smiled crookedly and nodded, letting her know that he was aware as well. She stepped away from Chrono, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes before giggling, still a bit wetly. "Guess you guys figured me out, huh?"
"Lucca did, and let me know." Chrono said slowly.
Marle looked away bashfully, obviously doing what she could to push what she'd just been through away for the moment. "Sorry Chrono, I didn't mean to trick you." She turned around and walked to the window, looking out it before speaking quietly. "My name is really Nadia. My father is King Guardia XXXIII." She sighed. "I just wanted to go to the fair and have fun like everyone else. But if you'd known who I really was…" She turned to look at him, slightly despondent. "You wouldn't have shown me around the fair, would you Chrono?"
Chrono looked at her thoughtfully for a moment before approaching. She looked at him with resignation, which turned to confusion and then a bit of pain when he lifted his hand and gently flicked her forehead, a smile on his face. "Of course I would have, dummy."
The princess blinked, surprised, before giving him a radiant smile. "Oh Chrono. That's why I like you!" She said with a happy laugh, giving him a tight hug.
Lucca smiled softly, pleased to see the blonde happy again. She ruthlessly crushed the small seed of jealousy that tried to take root in her heart, reminding herself that it was just never going to happen anyway.
Pulling away from Chrono, Nadia looked at the two of them. "So, what exactly happened? Why did I…?" She trailed off shivering.
Lucca gave her a quick explanation of where they were and what had happened, Nadia listening intently, nodding her head to show she understood. When the genius was done the princess bit her lip. "So I really screwed things up, didn't I? I almost got my ancestor killed and ended my family line pretty definitively."
Lucca shook her head. "It's not your fault, Your Highness. It's not like you could know that your pendant would react with my Telepod in a way that would send you four hundred years into the past." She sighed. "If anything, I should be the one apologizing to you for putting you through this ordeal."
Nadia shook her head. "Like you said, you couldn't know. Your telepod is brilliant, and it'll change everything once you iron out the kinks and put them into production." Then she scowled. "And enough of this 'Your Highness' crap. Call me Marle."
Lucca looked unsure. "I don't know if that's proper."
"That's an order." The blonde said loftily, a teasing glint in her eye. Then she glanced at Chrono. "To both of you."
Lucca sighed as Chrono chuckled lightly. "Fine, Your Hi-Marle!" She squeaked when the princess gave her a dark glare.
Marle smiled brightly. "There, that's not so hard, is it?" Then she looked down at her dress. "I should probably change so we can go. I can't exactly leave dressed like this."
Chrono was already heading to the door.
Thankfully the servants had kept and cleaned the clothes Marle had been wearing when she arrived, along with the crossbow and quiver of bolts, which she quickly slung over her shoulder. Once she was ready they headed back to the throne room, which led to her and Queen Leene staring at each other intently.
"Goodness, it truly is uncanny." Leene said as she studied her doppleganger. "We truly could be twins. I can see now how you could have come to believe she was me." She told her husband.
"Yeah…" Marle said faintly. "Now that I see you in person, I'm not surprised either." Then she grinned, a bit impish. "We look good, don't we?"
Leene brought a hand to her mouth as she laughed slightly. "Indeed we do."
"Sir Chrono, Dame Lucca." The King said, making Marle jump slightly and look at the two with wide eyes, having not been told about their new titles when they gave her the rundown of what had happened. "Before you leave, there is the matter of your reward."
"Sire, you already rewarded us with our titles." Chrono said uncertainly. "We could not possibly accept anything further."
King Guardia waved his words off. "We insist, especially as it was something that was already offered in this matter." At his words a servant approached, a smallish wooden chest in his hands. He was obviously straining slightly from the weight even as another servant opened it, revealing it to be stuffed full of gold coins, something that made Lucca and Chrono's eyes go wide. "There was a reward out for any information that led to my wife's safe return. Seeing as you went above and beyond to bring her back as well, we added to it. Please, take it."
Lucca was too busy thinking of all the supplies and parts she could get for her experiments with that money, so it fell to Chrono to respond. "It still doesn't feel right…" When he saw the look in both of the monarchs' faces he folded. "But far be it for me to spurn your kind generosity, Your Highness." He took the chest from the relieved servant. "You have our thanks, and a promise that it will be put to good use."
The King smiled as Leene walked back to his side. "I am happy to hear it."
"We should go." Lucca said, getting over her shock at the minor fortune they'd been handed. She curtseyed once again to the royals. "It's been an honor." Chrono bowed as well as best he could with the chest in hand.
Marle moved over to her friends and smiled widely, curtseying as well, since she couldn't exactly act as though she was royalty as well in the situation. "Please get along, and have a happy marriage. For me?"
Leene looked bemused, but nodded. "Of course. We had no plans otherwise, after all."
Marle clapped her hands happily. "Great." She turned to the others. "Ready?"
Chrono and Lucca nodded and, with one last respectful bow/curtsey, headed through the doors leading out of the castle.
They paused when they found Frog standing at the bottom of the staircase of the entryway, apparently waiting for them with his head bowed in thought. He turned to them when they approached, Marle's eyes going a bit wide at the sight of him. "It was my presence here that endangered the Queen." He said miserably. "I can remain at this castle no more."
"What are you talking about, Frog?" Lucca asked, frowning.
Frog didn't answer, instead opting to approach Marle, studying her, which made the blonde jump and hide a bit behind Lucca, slightly freaked out by the anthropomorphic amphibian. He croaked as he took her in. "Indeed, your resemblance to the Queen is uncanny." He began walking back down the steps, heading out of the castle, pausing briefly to look at Chrono over his shoulder. "Chrono, you've the makings of a great swordsman." Then he hopped away, much faster than they'd be able to keep up with.
Lucca stepped forward, a frown on her face and her eyes sad. "Maybe frogs aren't so bad after all…" She murmured.
As the three left Marle finally spoke. "Sooo… Who was that?"
After a brief stop at the inn Chrono'd met Toma in to see if the adventurer was there so Chrono could give him part of the reward (he wasn't), the three teens arrived at the point where where they had first arrived in the current time.
"So, how do we get home?" Marle asked as Chrono set the reward chest down to rest his arms.
"Well, Your Highness, we-" Lucca began before being interrupted when Marle let out a cute little growl.
"I told you to call me Marle, Lucca!" The princess said with a frown and her arms crossed, Chrono smiling in amusement behind her..
Lucca winced. "Right, sorry. Anyway, Marle, observe." She brought out a metal rod with what appeared to be a round orb on one end, five smaller orbs surrounding the head in a starburst pattern. She moved to a small orb of darkness with a blue core that Chrono and Marle had somehow missed, holding the rod up and manipulating something on it. Before their astonished eyes they saw the orb turn into the tear in space and time that had originally pulled them in.
"Whoa!" Marle exclaimed, jumping back in surprise. "Lucca, you're amazing!"
Lucca began to cackle. "I know!" Then she seemed to realize what she was doing and cut herself off, coughing. "Sorry, I should be more humble in front of-"
"Enough already!" Marle said firmly, staring hard at Lucca. "I'm a princess, but what's that mean? I can't do anything special. But you!" She grinned widely. "You're incredible! I'd trade my name for your genius in a heartbeat!"
Lucca blushed heavily, especially as she saw Chrono nodding in agreement, looking impressed. "Well, if you say so…" Then she shook her head to shake off her blush. "Anyway, I call these distortions 'Gates'." She began to explain. "They're basically portals to the same location in a different time. But Gates are unstable, that's why they appear and disappear all the time. So I used the principle behind my Telepod device…" She held up the rod she'd used to open the Gate. "...To create this Gate Key! It's what's locking the gate in place."
"Wow…" Marle whispered before frowning. "But why did this Gate suddenly appear in the first place?"
Lucca frowned, crossing her arms as she lowered her head in thought. "Either the Telepod had something to do with it, or something… else made it."
"This is starting to sound complicated." Marle said with a sigh after a moment to take that in, bringing a hand up to her temple to rub it..
Chrono picked up the chest. "Why don't we head back to our own time for now, and we can discuss this some more later?"
The two girls nodded before leading the way into the Gate, which closed shut behind them, leaving a calm forest once again.
Stepping back out of the Gate after the whirling, flying sensation they'd once again endured, all three looked around at their surroundings, finding themselves between Lucca's two Telepods, the sounds of the Millenial Fair surrounding them.
"We're back!" Marle cheered, jumping up and down happily. She turned to the other two with a grin. "Chrono, Lucca! Why don't you come back with me to the castle? It would give me a chance to thank you properly for everything."
Lucca looked unsure, scratching the back of her head. "I'm not sure. It's basically my fault it all happened, after all." She bowed her head in shame. "I'm really sorry for putting you through all this, Marle."
Marle shook her head. "We've been over this, Lucca, nobody could have known." Then she grinned widely. "Besides, even though it was scary at points, that was the most fun I've had in months! And I made new friends, too!" Her grin faltered slightly. "Right?"
Lucca chuckled softly, a small smile on her face. "Yes, yes you did." When Marle beamed back at her the scientist turned to her best friend, who had been silently watching with a smile on his face. "Chrono, be a gentleman and escort the lady home. I still need to do a little more snooping into why that Gate appeared." Then she took the chest of riches from him. "I'll take this to my house for now, too. We shouldn't exactly be wandering around with all this money on us."
"Are you sure?" Chrono asked, amused when she hunched over as she took the chest, arms shaking as she tried to hold the weight.
She gave him a glare. "Yes, I'm sure!" She snapped petulantly, well aware physical strength wasn't her strongest trait. Then she turned around and began walking away without another word, leaving Chrono to shake his head and chuckle.
"See you soon, Lucca!" Marle called out, waving cheerfully. Then she turned to Chrono, hands behind her back. "Well, Chrono, are you ready to escort me home?" When he chuckled and offered her his arm she took it with a grin as they began walking, heading to the current time period's Guardia Castle.
It took some time to walk through town and Guardia Forest (pausing briefly so Marle could hide her weapon in some bushes near its exit) to reach the castle, but eventually they made it, Marle chattering happily as she led Chrono to the doors. Once they were through the guards keeping watch looked at her in surprise. "Princess!"
"Hi." She said with a smile, having let Chrono go, figuring it wouldn't be a good idea to be clinging to a boy when walking into her home.
"Princess Nadia!" Another voice said from atop the stairs, revealing a short man with a large grey beard and fine clothing approaching rapidly. "Are you alright? Where on earth have you been?" He looked her over from head to toe. "We heard you were abducted! We had soldiers combing the entire kingdom for you!"
Marle's eyes widened, not having realized the situation before. "No, Chancellor, I-"
The Chancellor finally caught sight of Chrono and spoke again, not letting Marle finish what she was saying. "You. So you're the one, then? You thought you'd kidnap the princess?"
Marle's eyes somehow became wider as she realized just how badly this could go. Chrono himself started to look nervous at the dark looks the guards were giving him. "No! Chrono only-"
The Chancellor wasn't listening. "Seize him!" He shouted to the guards. "Seize that filthy terrorist! He deceived our Princess and plotted to overthrow the Crown!"
Chrono tensed but kept himself from drawing his weapon as the guards advanced, not wanting to make things worse. He hoped Marle would be able to say something to resolve the situation. He highly doubted that anything he said would make things better.
Marle looked around, panicked. "No! No, you mustn't!"
The guards took hold of Chrono's arms, more guards appearing, drawn by the Chancellor's calls, surrounding the redhead to cut off any attempts to escape. The entire time Marle was trying to stop them, moving from one to another and being ignored.
Getting angry, especially as she saw her friend being manhandled, Marle finally had enough and yelled at the top of her lungs, which Chrono then found out were considerable. "Stop this right now!"
The guards immediately released Chrono, kneeling on what seemed to be reflex. Chrono let out a sigh of relief, though he was sure this wasn't over.
"What are you fools doing!?" The Chancellor raged, red faced.
"But Her Highness the Princess said-" One of the guards began.
The chancellor stomped his foot. "It doesn't matter what she said! Seize him!"
The guards surged up before Chrono and Marle could react, one of them striking the young swordsman in the head. Chrono dropped, dazed, vaguely aware of Marle calling his name as he was dragged off.
The next day saw a large amount of people packed into the large, richly appointed courtroom of Guardia Castle, awaiting the trial for the kidnapping of Princess Nadia.
The judge sat in his place at the end of the room, below a large stained glass window depicting Lord Justice, with his balanced scales in hand. To his left was the Chancellor, and to his right was a man of about thirty, who was reviewing some notes.
The judge banged his gavel for silence. "We shall now begin this trial." He motioned to the Chancellor
The Chancellor stepped forward, prompting what people in the gallery were still talking to stop, waiting for him to speak. "I, your Chancellor, shall serve as prosecutor!" He declared before stepping back.
The other man put away his notes and stepped forward as well. "I, Pierre, represent the defense." After he stepped back to his place the Chancellor made his way forward again.
"Members of the court." The smaller man said, addressing the jurors. "I will now bring forth the defendant, Chrono, who is charged with the abduction of Princess Nadia."
Chrono walked forward, back straight and eyes firm. He refused to show any fear or nervousness, despite the fact that he was most definitely feeling both. He knew he hadn't done anything wrong.
Looking around at the gallery his eyes soon found his mother, who sat next to Lucca and Taban. She was clutching the plum haired girl's hand in a vice grip, biting her lip. Lucca didn't look much better, slightly pale and eyes a bit wide. He gave them both a reassuring smile as he took his place in the defendant's podium.
"What shall be his fate?" The Chancellor asked the room at large once Chrono had reached the podium. "To burn at the stake, perhaps? To feel the Tickler, or hang upside down?" His eyes became darkly amused. "Or… shall we employ the guillotine?"
Chrono gave the man a dark look, not happy that he seemed to be enjoying the entire affair. He glanced over and saw that his mother had gone pale and looked faint, Lucca whispering reassurances in her ear.
"The choice is yours, good jurors. Now, let us begin." The Chancellor finished before moving back to his spot by the judge.
The judge looked around before speaking strongly and clearly. "We shall first hear the testimony of the defense."
Pierre stepped forward. "Thank you, Your Honor." He then turned to the jury. "Chrono is charged with premeditated abduction of royalty. The question is, how could he be guilty of a crime that never occurred?" As the gallery briefly erupted into murmurs he continued, pacing lightly in front of the defendant's podium. "The prosecution would have you believe that the defendant kidnapped the Princess. However, the truth is quite to the contrary." He paused, looking around again. "Not only was their meeting a coincidence, but it was the Princess herself who asked Chrono if she could join him."
Pierre stepped back into place as the Chancellor made his way forward to question Chrono. "Is this true? Who was the one to initiate contact?"
"Mar-Princess Nadia was the one who started talking first." Chrono said clearly, making sure he was heard.
"Are you so certain? Our witnesses say that you were the one who bumped into the Princess." The Chancellor insisted.
Chrono frowned. "We bumped into each other. Neither one of us was paying attention to our surroundings, so we're both to blame." He didn't react as people began murmuring.
The Chancellor sniffed. "A likely story. It would be fairly easy to fake such an interaction." Chrono gritted his teeth as the man continued, turning to the jurors. "Having subdued the Princess, the defendant then coerced her into visiting Lucca Ashtear's little sideshow. There were countless witnesses to this. Shortly thereafter, both the Princess and the defendant vanished." Chrono saw Lucca curse angrily from the corner of his eye. "If that is not criminal abduction, I don't know what is." As he walked back to his spot by the judge he continued. "Several other acts have also been brought to my attention that call the defendant's character into question."
Pierre quickly stepped forward. "Objection! This cannot possibly have any relevance to the case!"
The judge looked at the Chancellor. "Care to respond, Chancellor?"
"Chrono's character is at the very core of this case, Your Honor." The short man said loftily. "This evidence will show that his testimony cannot be trusted."
Pierre's eyes glinted in a way that gave Chrono hope. "Very well, we have nothing to hide. We have character witnesses of our own, after all." He cleared his throat as the Chancellor frowned at him, obviously not having expected that. "I would like to call a witness who can vouch for the defendant's good character." He said before moving to the door, shortly returning with a little girl, which caused the assembled audience to mutter to each other.
The girl smiled when she saw Chrono and and spoke clearly when Pierre encouraged her. "That man brought me my kitty back." She moved over to him and gave his leg a hug. "Thank you, mister!"
Chrono smiled and patted her head gently before she was escorted out, wondering if he was just imagining that the audience commentary sounded a bit more positive now.
Pierre spoke again, a smile on his face as he made his way next to Chrono, gesturing to him. "How about that? The man before you is a fine, upstanding youth. He deserves to be honored, not put on trial!" In a quick undertone he spoke to Chrono. "Looks like it's working, kid." Then he stepped back, closer to the judge, who was watching intently. "The real issue here is motive. Was there any motive for this good youth to kidnap Princess Nadia?" He shook his head firmly. "Absolutely not."
The Chancellor then stepped back up to the plate apparently taking the opportunity to change tack after his initial idea was scuttled. "Pardon me, but I believe the motive was quite clear: greed." He turned to look at Chrono. "Her fortune did tempt you, did it not, Chrono?"
Chrono immediately shook his head. "No. It didn't even cross my mind that she might have money."
The Chancellor frowned and opened his mouth to continue, but Pierre picked up one of his documents. "Actually, I have here a statement from Melchior the Swordsmith. According to this, Chrono stopped by the man's stall in order to buy himself a sword. He first wanted a fine Silver Sword, but unfortunately could not afford it. Princess Nadia actually offered to cover the cost herself, but Chrono refused her generosity and settled for a more simple yet still good quality Bronze Blade." He handed the paper to the judge, who looked it over quickly to confirm what it said. "I think this settles the issue as to whether Chrono had any interest in the Princess' wealth."
Chrono kept from smiling as he could practically hear the grinding of the Chancellor's teeth.
"Is there anything else?" The judge asked the two. When both shook their head he then turned to the jury. "Members of the jury, it is time for a verdict. If you believe the defendant guilty, stand to the left. Innocent, to the right."
To Chrono's profound relief five men took their places on the right of the judge, the remaining two standing on the left. The judge banged his gavel as members of the crowd cheered and expressed themselves. He turned slightly to see that Lucca was holding his mother, who'd burst into happy tears. She gave Chrono a grin and a thumbs up as she patted the older woman's back.
"Order in the court!" The judge called. Once everybody had settled he began to speak. "A verdict has been reached! The defendant has been found Not Guilty!" Another short round of noise as Chrono's smile widened. Said smile was then wiped off his face at the judge's next words. "But even if he did not kidnap the Princess, the fact remains that he aided in her flight from the castle." He looked at Chrono in the eye. "I sentence the accused to three days of solitary confinement as punishment."
Chrono closed his eyes briefly, but then opened them and nodded to the judge, accepting his ruling, which made the man smile behind his mustache.
"Take him away!" The Chancellor ordered to the guards that approached to take Chrono to the prison tower.
Everybody was surprised when Marle suddenly burst in behind the guards. "Stop!" She called.
"P-Princess Nadia!" The Chancellor blustered.
"Marle?" Chrono asked, confused as he watched the blonde glare, her fists clenched at her sides.
He was further surprised when the king walked in as well, glaring lightly at his daughter. "That's quite enough, young lady!"
Marle turned to her father, a look of desperation on her face. "But, Father-!"
King Guardia spoke sternly to his daughter. "All I asked was for you to remain at the castle and behave like a princess." He shook his head. "What's done is done. Even royalty must obey the laws of the land. Leave the rest up to the Chancellor and forget about your little escapade in town." Then he turned around to leave when it looked like she was going to argue. "We are through here!" He barked before walking out, shortly followed by the guards leading Chrono away.
"Chrono!" Marle called as she fell to her knees, eyes wet.
He gave her his best reassuring smile, letting her know it would be okay, before he lost sight of her on his way to prison.
Chrono walked over the bridge joining the castle to the prison tower, his wrists bound in front of himself as he followed the Chancellor, a guard following behind him in case he tried to make a break for it. He wasn't looking forward to three days of solitary confinement, but he knew it could be worse, so he went along quietly.
What worried him more now was what this meant for his future. True, he'd been found not guilty, but would the royal guard still accept him when recruitment time came? Or would the mere accusation be enough to keep them from allowing him in? The idea that the goal he'd dedicated himself towards for years was no longer possible made his heart lurch.
Arriving at the prison processing center they found the warden sitting behind a desk, several papers in front of him along with a mug full of steaming coffee. He stood up when they entered, nodding to the Chancellor as the shorter man began to speak. "This man is a seditionist who meant to overthrow our kingdom." He said firmly, a scowl on his face. "He has been found guilty by trial. I entrust him to your care."
Chrono's head whipped around to stare at the man, wondering what the hell he was talking about. He'd been found innocent. Before he could say anything he was pushed forward by the guard behind him, making him stumble towards the scowling warden's desk.
"So this is the monster who abducted the Princess!" The warden said, disgust in his words.
"No, I'm not!" Chrono finally said. "I was found innocent!"
"Enough with your attempts to weasel out of your punishment." The Chancellor sneered at him before turning back to the warden. "His execution is three days hence. See that he is still here to attend it."
Chrono's eyes went wide with shock and he paled as the warden looked at the Chancellor in surprise. "Execution?" He shuffled through some of the papers on his desk. "I don't recall hearing anything about that."
"No cause for concern." The Chancellor said dismissively. "There's only been a small delay in the paperwork." Then he raised an eyebrow. "Or do you mean to question me?"
The warden started. "N-never, sir!" He turned towards the door leading deeper into the prison. "Guards!"
As the heavily armored prison guards approached Chrono jumped forward, slamming his bound hands on the desk in desperation and making the warden jump back in alarm. "Wait! He's lying! I was found not guilty! I'm only supposed to have a short sentence of three days in solitary! You can't execute me! I-!" He went silent and dropped to the floor as something solid slammed into the back of his head, leaving him hanging onto consciousness by a thread.
The last words Chrono heard was the Chancellors mocking. "The desperate ravings of the guilty." followed by the warden's "Indeed, sir." Then a boot hit him in the head, and everything when black.
Er, hi everyone.
I really, really want to apologize for not updating this in over a year. It may not be my most popular or most read story, but that doesn't mean I wanted to leave it hanging for so long. It was a combination of it not being voted on in the update poll and my being distracted by other things that caused the delay. But I told myself I'd finish the next chapter before the month was over, and I've managed to keep to that, thankfully.
This chapter is a bit longer than I originally envisioned it being. That was mostly due to the segment set in the Middle Ages continuing to lengthen as I added things.
Knighting Chrono and Lucca made sense to me, especially as certain bits of dialogue don't make too much sense in the game itself. After you rescue the Queen, for example, if you talk to the King he calls you Lord Chrono, which I can see no reason for. It might be a translation error, but still… It also gives them some more authority when they return.
The chest of treasure I thought would be useful to explain how they have the funds to buy the supplies they get going forward. It's not exactly endless, but it's a good start, especially since I haven't found a way to make having them loot their enemies for money more natural. Weapons and items, yeah. Money itself…
As for the trial, one thing that always confused me about the game is the fact that Chrono's mother never has any idea of what the hell's going on with her son. Sure, them not telling her about time travel shenanigans makes sense, but how exactly had she not been made aware of her son BEING PUT ON TRIAL FOR KIDNAPPING THE PRINCESS OF THE REALM!? Makes no sense to me. So I added her in as one of the spectators in the gallery.
In any case, if you would like to have more of a say in what I update each month, whether it be this or another of my fics, please bare in mind that donators to my Pat A Ron get votes in my monthly poll equal to their contributions. That's at Pat A Ron dotcom /athanmortis.
Thank you very much for reading. Please review, and I'll see you next time (in less than a year, this time).