The Price Chapter 2
To Reach and Weep
The name 'Veyl' is pronounced 'Veil.'
--- Amardeh is pronounced; 'ah-mar-deh'
The first thought that occurred to Chrono as he began to wake, was that he
did not want to wake at all. Not unless the voices that echoed from afar
spoke of good things; things that were irrelevant. That didn't pertain to
what he wanted, and wished, and could scream to believe was only a dream.
Hours ago, his head had swam, and he had fallen. The blissful decent into
nothingness that was unconsciousness had claimed him, and now, to awaken?
To find it real?
No. No. it wasn't real. None of this was real unless he opened his eyes; and oh gods, Chrono refused to open his eyes. So? So his face pressed into what felt of a pillow. It was warm with his tears, or what he could allow of them. The small droplets ran from eyes squeezed tightly shut; etching over cheeks blushed with the exertion of sobs. Where was he...?
He hadn't even told her he'd loved her. He'd been irritated. Annoyed. Had never thought...
This can't be happening. This isn't SUPPOSED to happen...
But the part of him that wanted to cry was shouted down by the part of him that wanted answers. Hate and anger was replacing anguish with steady, even strokes. With every beat of his heart, the desire to know built.
You have changed time irreversibly.
You will pay with the Things that are most important to you.
... Yet all the same, he didn't understand, and the anguish returned.
It was with the click of a doorknob that the red-haired youth found his eyes forced to snap open. The trauma that ran behind his gaze snapped him alert, and for a moment? He bolted upright with murderous intent, a hand reaching for a sword that was no longer at his side. His right hand grappled for the lost weapon, and his thoughts muddled. What...? But indeed, it was gone. Struck by indecision, the beat of a frantic heart only began to calm when he heard lucca's voice down what appeared to be a hall outside his small room.
Guardia...? The castle? Is that where I am...?
"Let me see him! STOP it-!!! Let me through!"
But it was not Lucca who joined him inside the sparsely furnished area.
Chrono, somewhere between the aching thoughts that plagued him, recognized the regal waistcoat. Some part of his mind registered the icy blue eyes and short silver hair. He was a small man. Mid-twenties, with an air of defiant stature that was hard, if not impossible to ignore. The figure slipped into the room with a single quiet motion, a pale hand flashing out and catching the door. He shut it with a solid, unnerving sound. Chrono found himself toying with the presence of further unease.
"Stand at ease. You weapon has been confiscated for the time being."
Chrono felt his jaw moving. It opened. It wanted to all but scream questions; even knowing, rationally, that in this situation he should wait to be spoken to. He was confused... nothing wanted to make sense. The only things that did register abounded between pain and anger. Trying to balance himself and THINK... was proving far more of an effort then the youth felt he could bear just now.
"No- I... I need my sword.." And for the first time since those horrible, yet true events; Chrono attempted to get up. His legs buckled as if all the strength had been torn from their very fabric, and with a startled moan he fell to the ground.
Or near fell, in either case.
"My name is Veyl." The stranger offered, catching Chrono's near collision with the hardwood floor beneath them. "Veyl Amardeh."
"Chrono..." Was the red-head's mechanical reply. It didn't occur to him that this 'Veyl' likely knew that. The word just came; as if to assure himself he was still very much in the here and now.
"Your mother is dead."
Another mechanical nod. The images came back; flashing behind dazed eyes.
Veyl helped him back onto the bed; a grip that was surprisingly strong clasping over either of his shoulders until Chrono regained himself enough to sit up fully. When he could focus on the room around them, he was now certain this was Guardia castle. The simple, yet elegant styling of even what appeared to be a servant's room were telltale signs of a place he'd once known well. His stare widened at the realization, coming back to himself all at once.
Yes, his mother was dead. Press back the memory. Press back the sorrow.
Find the will to fight.
"Who?" And now Chrono's voice suddenly came strong. He had a person with him; a directive. Someone that could help. That could put him on the path towards... vengeance? Knowledge? Both? His emotions were torn; they'd been so for some time now. This wasn't helping an only delicate stability; but SOME part of who he was needed to assess things for what they were and carry on.
"What do you want?" He continued.
Veyl's look was unreadable; blue eyes shifting under snowy bangs. There were secrets, there. But when he spoke, he spoke as if there was not a secret left in the wide blue world.
"I Do not have a 'who' for you yet, youngling. I want, however, to speak with you. I have information you'll want to hear; and information you'll need to know. This is going to be a long road, boy."
Chrono swallowed sharply. "It killed her. Someone killed her. Give me your road; I don't give a damned. I need to know."
The blue-eyed man fingered briefly into a pocket, then. When his slender hand turned up once more, it was with a neatly folded parchment shucked between the folds of a protective pamphlet of some sort. Chrono's breath caught, and his hands froze when Veyl held this out to him. Dried blood shimmered on it's ever-fair edges. Cream spattered with the rain of once-crimson that was now a dull, tarnished red. The room swayed. Suddenly, he was on his knee's again, in front of his mother, reading the words he knew the paper splayed so proudly in thick black ink.
And slowly, Chrono did.
"You came to Guardia earlier, correct? To seek the princess?"
"Yes." A hushed word.
"And you are aware that several attempts on her life have been made?"
At that, Chrono's head snapped up. Worry flashed over his features, an undeniable fear rising in his voice. Marle-!? His hands clenched quite suddenly on the paper in his hands. "No-!!! I thought it had only been threats!?"
Veyl shook his head. "I'm afraid not." And he removed another parchment from his pocket, handing it to Chrono as well. "Four in total have been made; the threats having occurred beforehand. We've tried to keep the situation under a strict 'Need to know' basis for both the sake of our Princess, and the welfare of inevitable gos-"
"-Was she hurt!? is she alright!?"
"- Gossip. Ah... She was wounded in the initial attack, but proved evasive enough to reach the nearest soldiers for help. Otherwise she has remained unharmed, but security is our primary concern at the moment. That note-" And his head dipped, indicating the second paper. "Was left during the last assault. Her highness was attacked in her room by a presence she cannot remember seeing or hearing. In the end, she was yet again spared. She believes her pendant to have had something to do with that fortunate outcome."
Chrono stared at him a few long moment's, a knot tight enough to be painful having worked its way into the pit of his stomach. Quietly, he unfolded the parchment. His eyes traced over the same words. The same handwriting.
You have changed time irreversibly.
You will pay with the Things that are most important to you.
He swallowed hard.
"The Princess was rather afraid for you, boy. That her father's wrath might come down upon you for being involved with this whole affair, in whatever the way. That's why only I have seen that parchment; at her request. The other was tied to the murder of your mother; not her Highness, and therefore you cannot be accounted for more than a victim." Veyl tilted his head as Chrono stared. "And no, I would not attempt to find our assailant through use of the Epoch."
Now Chrono's stare was intense. Intense in the facet of complete and utter shock, staring at Veyl as if he'd grown another head right then and there. No one could know that. Lucca would never have said a thing. Suspicions wanted to leap. This killer- knew. Veyl, knew. But his head spun with thoughts, and all the boy could manage was a weak nod of near denial.
"It doesn't matter. The Epoch is in the process of being dismantled, if your friend Lucca was accurate in giving me information. The point is that you've done a great deal; That someone means your loved ones harm FOR it."
"And you'd care? About any of this? Who ARE you?"
"That too is irrelevant for the time being. You want to talk to your friends, do you not...?"
Veyl was already up and at the door before Chrono could stop him. "I'll leave you to it, then..." And he left the boy with those terrible papers, bowing just a little as his frame once against ghosted from the room. Chrono found himself near enraged at the sudden, drastic dismissal. He came to his feet and made to follow, only to hear Lucca outside once again. She was quieter now. Speaking to Veyl. Before he could even reach the entrance, the door again creaked ajar.
His rage was forgotten in light of the look on his friend's slender face.
Taken aback, he couldn't answer just then.
Lucca looked as if she'd been preparing a speech that had died as suddenly as Veyl's exit. Her eyes were cast under a cloud of worry, saying with expression alone all the small things. The nuances that wanted to revolve around 'I'm so sorry...' and 'I want to help...'
"I was so worried..."
He just shook his head, throat tight. "Don't be. I'm fine."
Chrono slapped a hand to his face with irritable violence. "No. I'm not." And turned away sharply, grasping his head in frustration. Fingers wrapped into the mess of crimson that adorned him. Gods, someone give him the answers. Why couldn't this be a dream? Wake up- Chrono! WAKE UP-!!!
But Lucca's hand fell on his shoulder then, and broken in the light of truth or not, he was thankful for her presence. His head tilted slightly in her direction. It was a gentle movement; weary, sad, and scared. "Lucca... did you see her?"
Silence betrayed her affirmative. The hand on his shoulder tightened, and all at once came a tender little meow. Startled, Chrono turned fully.
Lucca's smile was gentle as she held up his small kitten. "I found him cowering in your room after... after you passed out." She swallowed sharply, fighting back tears despite herself. "I think he's hungry, huh?" And her lanky arms reached, allowing Chrono to take the little one into his arms. It was a small gesture. A small thing to have. Either way, he seemed relieved and grateful both.
"Tiru..." A sort of fond croak escaped the boy as he scratched his pet behind the ears. The small cat purred thankfully, snuggling into his arms, and with a tremble Chrono sat back on the single bed in the room. Lucca slowly took her helmet off, and sat next to him with the gear in her lap. Moment's passed. The kitten purred and pawed in content. When she looked over at her friend again, she found Chrono gently massaging Tiru's fur. Tears were falling, but he made no sound.
".... I'm here."
"I know, Lucca. Thank you."
".... And Veyl? I heard some of the conversation..."
This time Chrono bit his lower lip. "I Don't know."
"... He'd said something earlier. About the strange clouds. About them showing up just before Marle had been attacked..."
Chrono's eyes closed. "Have you seen her? Is she alright?"
His question was answered, this time, by yet another visitor to the room. The light steps had come softly. The guards outside had made to protest at first, and then fell silent. Lucca turned her head upwards, Chrono looked to the door, and Tiru mewed gently.
A few seconds later the hero of time rose to his feet as Marle entered the room, and for a moment? Everything was okay.
Everything. Even if only because, as she threw her arms around him, they were together.
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