After saving the world, is the fate of a few objects so important? Focused on the Dreams of Zeal. One slight change to canon.
They had conquered time, they had conquered death.
No, no they hadn't. Others had created the objects, and those objects that held the power of time and death in their hands were left safe at the castle, curled up together, having their nap.
Crono hacked away at the earth with a vengeance.
"Thou hast no faith in lady Lucca?"
"What makes you say that?" Crono heaved the dirt over his shoulder, creating a frenzied cloud behind himself.
"Thou slaughters the sediment."
Crono panted, leaning on his shovel. He could feel gravel on his scalp.
"You're one to speak. You're digging like there's candy at the bottom."
Glenn raised an eyebrow at that, but it was true that he had worked himself up to a sweat and was not stopping, even now. A little ahead of them, Alfador was sprawled on a rock. She lazily balanced one pebble on another.
"'s a bit to the right."
"How close be the Dream Stone, now?"
"A day's digging away, Glenn-sama." Her eyes were half-lidded, scowling in a sort of casual way.
"Would take me a second." she muttered.
"You--" Grunt. "Should be resting."
"But I don't get tired, Crono-sama!"
The dreams were trying to hide their presence, using their power as little as possible. This was difficult for Alfador, who called up the map of the universe to remember where she left her keys. She seemed not to understand the concept of a personal memory at all. It was harder on the twins, though; the idea of sitting still made them twitch. They had started randomly breaking things and were kicked out of the palace yesterday.
"I thought you only found dream stone way back in time."
"It doesn't go anywhere, Crono-sama. Well, it does, but it's still there. I don't know what you think you're going to do with it, though. If a human lost a limb, you wouldn't try wrapping hamburger to the stump--"
"Alfador! 'Tis no need to be vulgar."
"I'm just making an analogy, Glenn-sama."
At least they had all managed to find something to distract them. Lucca had finished on Robo yesterday, despite lack of tools. Today, she and Robo were piecing together Epoch's hull, much to his interest.
"What pretty lady and tin man doing?"
Lucca smiled tiredly at the little boy. He was holding Trigger and sucking at the tail end of the long brown hair.
"We're going to fix you up and make it all better, all right?"
Epoch tilted his head to the side. "Kisses?"
"He requires affection?" Robo beeped, adding the data to his banks. He took a personal interest in the dreams.
"Yes, kisses, hon."
"....my daddy was a big eggplant."
Ayla was hauling metal for Lucca, and the rest had gathered with the dreams, trying to see if there was any means of action.
"Stop doing that, you imbecile. You're only wasting magic."
Marle glared at Magus, her hands still cupped around her neck. She had been feeding her pendant soft healing energies for an hour, to no effect. But there was no one who could tell her she was to be useless in all this.
"Please, Janus, we're in this together..." Schala's voice was soft. "But, I'm afraid he is right. A dream won't be healed that way."
Marle finally let go of Doreen, slamming her open hand on the table. "Who would have done this?!"
"Alfador can be trusted to know the past," said Magus, ignoring Marle's outburst. "Perhaps the knowledge was rediscovered in the far future."
"We saw the future, they couldn't find their own noses."
"That was the old future, /princess/," Perhaps Magus would refrain from insults in Schala's presence; that did not make him any less insulting. "We have never visited the new future. Nor has Alfador. She could not have known."
"The new future...?" Schala physically stepped between the two. "What happened to the old future?"
Magus snorted. "Destroyed."
"Wrooong, smarty pants. Never was." Marle stuck out her tongue.
Magus had a hand on his scythe when Schala blocked his target from his vision, her face close and questioning.
"You've been somewhere that never was?"
"You're telling me someone did this because we created them?"
Marle attached herself to Crono. "Er, in a way."
"It's very logical, from a programmer's point of view." Lucca tapped her cheek, eyes up in thought.
Crono and Glenn had just returned with sore muscles, slightly softened nerves and as much dream stone as they could carry. It had been nice to be lost in the counter-contemplation of pure hard work, for a while. This was going to be difficult.
"Explain that again?" Crono scratched his head, finding a few more pieces of dirt.
Glenn looked clueless. "A programmer's--?"
Lucca nodded. "A switch."
"She feels the need to translate it into her native language," Magus leaned against the wall like a loaded rifle, "Techno-babble."
"Look, that's just the easiest way of understanding it. A ruined world means no new technology, means no new dreams. By saving the world, we flipped the switch. A prosperous future means progress, means the possibility of new dreams. I'm just adding in a creationist view."
"....Ayla did know, Ayla no know now."
"We came up with this, and I have no idea what you're talking about." said Marle.
"Look, we had this discussion, right? That it felt like we were being guided by someone--I mean, apart from you, Alfador. Like all this happened because someone wanted it to. And, from that perspective, this dream makes sense. He insures that ... well, he prevents bugs. Er. Things that weren't apart of the creator's plan."
"Worse and worse," Glenn shook his head. "Unreachable foes in the void, coupled with mysterious unknown beings."
"That doesn't matter. While you're going on about invisible bogeymen, we're losing time." Magus got up and paced, his cape swirling in a wake behind him. "He was created in the future. We're in the past, we can prevent it."
"Ayla want find stranger." She smacked her fist against her palm, grinning. "Ayla make big hole in rock. Stranger be bigger hole."
"We could use up all the dream stone!" Crono thumped the rock. "No dream stone, no new dreams! ...but then, if we were wrong..."
"How could we be wrong?" Lucca had grown annoyed; no one was paying her any mind.
"There are no other options." said Robo.
"There are many options."
The soft voice floated by them, unfamiliar and hard to catch. They searched the room with their eyes before alighting upon Doreen, observing from the corner. They were sure she hadn't been there before, because she was wearing Trigger on her head like a hat, his hair combed over his face so that she seemed to have his hair and a massive skull. Which was giggling.
"They could be somewhere else. They could be upwhere, downwhere, sideways, byways, they are here, there, they are nowhere and everywhere."
They stared at her in silence.
"Erm," said Alfador, "She's never made sense."
"I make perfect sense, you are the blind, I the one-eyed octopus." Their attention was starting to flicker; she raised her voice. "Dreams live outside of time, outside of time. If you prevent the creation of the one who has broken us, we will be broken just the same."
Their faces were varying degrees of incredulity.
"But... that doesn't make any sense!" Marle's hand reached to zip her pendent on its chain and groped blindly a moment.
"It makes perfect sense," said Doreen. "It's just that you're blind."
"She's right," Alfador grinned in an embarrassed sort of way. "You should know. We play by our own rules, and you've been playing by them too."
The lack of comprehension was so thick in the air, it was beginning to give them all a headache.
"Look, Lucca-sama, you remember growing up with an invalid mother, right?" Alfador waited patiently for the nod. "But your mother isn't an invalid. She never was. You've been to a broken future that never was. You've met people that never were, been changed by people who never were. And we can be broken, are broken, by someone even if they never existed. Time is just a place to us--and to you too."
They had gone to bed, their heads full of thoughts, too many to place or number. They slept the sleep of those determined to dream an answer. They slept with one ear open, waiting against the crack of another broken dream.
The gathered dream stone glowed softly, calling ideas and filling to its brim with inspiration. Mune's face was odd, lit by it; it made him look less the young man or the hero, and more the instrument of death.
"You know," said Masa, coming up on the table's other side, "We are in a palace. They have influence. They hand things down. I bet they could get something to someone, even if they were, you know, 400 years in the future?"
"That's just what I was thinking, Masa."
They each put a hand on the dream stone. It felt like an primal egg.
"We never were much for quiet, were we, Masa?"
"No, Mune. We never were."
"Or for peace?"
Masa thought. The red gleam danced in his eyes.
The sword that protects is still a sword. And this one was not made with a sheath.
"Peace ... is arrived at through war, Mune."
The room brightened. No figures crowded the table. No shadows danced on the wall. There was just the castle, at night, as it always was. A table, gems and, ancient, young, broken, fixed, blade bright with liquid sheen as though blood still streamed down it, crimson light, dripping on the floor, there was a sword.