A Test of Truth Chapter 1
Honor Among Thieves (or Lack Thereof)
By Loren Leah
Ky glared at the pale man peevishly. And whats so funny, huh? she demanded in a low growl, scratching at her neck under the high, itchy collar of her gown.
The two were walking side-by-side down one of the few back streets of Truce village, staying in the shadows of the trees and buildings in an attempt to gain some tiny measure of comfort from the sun beating down above. Ky, ever sensitive to temperature like all members of her reptilian branch of the Mystic species, was tense and agitated, a timebomb of suppressed energy ready to go off at any second. Garran seemed perfectly content, though it was equally likely that he was simply masking his discomfort from his young companion.
Garran looked down at Ky impassively for a long moment before shaking his head ever so slightly. I still cant believe this job, he said in his usual near-monotone, the faintest hint of a grin crossing his face. Killing the Magus.
Ky shrugged, irritated. Garrans feelings about most everything were a total enigma to her, and this particular subject was no different. It makes sense to me. Some powerful bigwig has his significant other murdered by the Magus, possibly during the war, and he decides to take his revenge.
But have you stopped to think about all the paradoxes we could possibly create by going back in time and getting rid of someone who shaped a large portion of history?
Ky snorted. I thought assassins just did what they were paid to do, and didnt worry about the semantics of it. Since when has that changed with you?
He favored her with a large, predatory grin. Oh, I always think about the semantics. I just dont act on my thoughts.
Ky fell back a bit, walking behind her master and sometime-companion, wondering at this ever-present enigma in her life that had chosen to call itself Garran. The tall man, with his half-Mystic looks and short dark hair and red-brown eyes the shade of dried blood, had intrigued her from the moment shed met him. She was fascinated with him to the very edge of obsession, and despite her exasperation with him at times, never regretted the day shed sold herself as a slave to him. It let her get that much closer.
Someday, she swore to herself, shed finally crack open that tightly sealed head of his and have a look at everything that seeped out. One way or another.
The two were slowly approaching the backyard of one of the village houses. There was nothing terribly special about this particular house; it was modest and plain and had a very lived-in feeling about it, which was helped by the picnic table, gardening supplies and sparring equipment scattered around the grassy area. There was no fence around the backyard, which probably meant that either its owner had no young children, they felt very safe in their home, or both. Garran and Ky happened to know that both were indeed true.
They circled around to the front door of the small home, brushing the traveling dust off their ornate clothing and generally trying to make themselves look more respectable. The costumes Garran had produced for this ruse were horrid, as far as Ky was concerned; they looked quite regal, with their purple and gold designs, but the fabric chafed horribly against her sensitive skin. Not to mention they made her sweltering discomfort even worse in the heat of the day. Garran, of course, seemed perfectly unaffected within his similar attire.
Well, here goes nothing, Ky murmured under her breath as her tall companion stepped up to the door and knocked.
Did you ever wonder why theyre called watches?
Marle turned toward Crono, a decidedly perplexed look on her face. Uhh... What?
I said, did you ever wonder why theyre called watches? he repeated, looking down at the aforementioned object on his wrist. Is it because you need to watch them constantly so youll know what time it is? Or maybe to remind you that if you watch the sun up in the sky, you can figure out the time of day like that, too...
Marle walked over and put her palm to the forehead of her husband of four years. Are you feeling all right, Crono? she said, half-playfully.
Crono grinned. Just fine. He scratched his head. Actually, now that I think about it, I suppose I ought to ask Lucca that question--
He was interrupted by a knock on the door. Marle turned to answer it, but Lara was already there, admitting two visitors: an exotic-looking tall man and young woman, dressed in flowing robes and gowns that were vaguely familiar to the two time-travelers. The man looked around the room almost desperately and, upon spotting Crono, rushed over to him. The woman followed silently.
Garran was doing a wonderful acting job already.
Ky grinned inwardly. If shed learned nothing else about Garran in all her time with him, she had deduced that he was a real ham. He enjoyed playing parts; deceiving people about who he really was. Perhaps, she mused momentarily, thats why he keeps me around. He knows how I feel about him, and thinks its a fun game we two are playing. It was certainly possible. Aything was possible with that one.
Garran panted slightly, as though out of breath. Are you the hero Crono Silvara, destroyer of Lavos? Surely? Because Ive important information for you, he got out all in a single breath, mixing in a half-accent the likes of which shed never heard before. The woman whose role she played was supposed to be from the same place as Garran; she hoped she wouldnt have to speak too much, and risk botching the accent. Garran would probably take center stage anyway. He always did, after all.
The man--more a boy, really--with the spiky red hair looked Garran up and down a moment, as though recognizing the clothing he wore. Good. That was part of the performance too. Y...yes, Im Crono Silvara. Who are you? What kind of urgent information do you have?
Garran grinned, feigning relief, and bowed deeply. Unlike Crono and the blond-haired princess who stood behind him, Ky managed to notice the mocking glint in his eyes. He was enjoying himself greatly. I am Edain, cousin and humble servant to her highness the Princess Schala, and this is my wife Alleyne. Ky nodded demurely to the two children. That was, in fact, probably all shed have to do. We bring an urgent message from the Princess, directed to you, Sir Crono Silvara.
Cronos eyes, widened at the mention of the name Schala, were now set with something like determination--and perhaps a glint of suspicion, as well. The boy had practice in hiding his emotions...but in this case, it would do him no good. Well, lets hear it then.
Edain produced a slightly flattened scroll from within the folds of his robes, unrolled it, and began to read. Dearest Crono. It is great news to hear that you are alive. I somehow landed in the year 1000 AD after the disaster at the Ocean Palace, and so I yet live to send you this letter as well. Right now I am residing in Choras, in the home of the mayor, who has kindly put me up for the duration. My cousin Edain and his wife were also thrown through to this era with me, and as they do not wish to stay here but rather have a look around this world, Ive asked them to bring this note to you. Tell me, have you seen Janus anywhere? After what happened to me, Im beginning to think that perhaps he might have survived as well. Please write back soon, or even better, come and visit. Always yours, Schala.
Crono was wide-eyed, shaking his head and looking back at Princess Nadia in disbelief. They had him, hook, line, and sinker.
Can you believe this, Marle? he said, grinning like an idiot. Shes really alive! After all this time...
The princess was smiling and crying. She was quite fooled as well. Its amazing, she choked out after a moment. Magus will be so glad to hear about this... Husband embraced wife, forgetting their guests for a moment as they reveled in this unexpected joy. Everything was going according to plan.
Now, all Garran and Ky had left to do was sit back and wait for the right moment.
Cronos mother offered to let them stay in her house that night, but they politely declined, and after a pummeling of thank-yous and various questions that Garran answered readily but Ky found uncomfortable, the duo headed for Truces inn. They bought all three beds for the night to ensure their privacy, and after changing into a more comfortable black tank top and jeans, Garran headed to the bar downstairs. Ky was left by her lonesome, with nothing at all to do.
Well, not quite.
She made her way slowly over to the bed Garran had chosen for himself at the far left corner of the room, walking on cats feet, avoiding every spot in the rickety floorboards that looked as though it might make noise. Shed been trying for weeks now to get at Garrans pack, hoping to find something in there--a journal, a photo, whatever--that might help her understand him better. But every time she got anywhere near the battered leather knapsack, he seemed to just instantly appear--
She turned around, unable to hide the slightly sheepish expression on her face. It had occurred to her more than once that Garran might not like being obsessed over, and as she looked to him the thought suddenly crossed her mind again.
Garrans eyes were narrowed slightly and his voice was very soft. More than enough to tell her he was unbelievably angry. You know youre not allowed in my bag, Ky, he whispered evenly. Dont ever go anywhere near it again, or I will be forced to rip out your entrails and use them for climbing rope.
The scary thing about provoking Garran was that you never knew which threats were jokes and which were real.
She nodded faintly. All right. I wont touch your bag.
Good. He nodded, turned, and descended quietly back down the stairs.
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