The Fated Hour (6)
One the rise of the machines is halted, the party is just about ready to face Lavos, and all that remains is one last task. Gespar mentions a woman in the middle ages who is trying to restore a forest who could only be Fiona. Not surprisingly, when the group heads to 600 A.D. they see something fishy going on in the desert north of Porre. Frog, Robo, and Magus land the Epoch near Fiona’s Villa to talk to her and see what might be going on. Before they can speak to her about the gigantic sinkhole in the desert however, Fiona has some good news to share with the group; now that the war against the Mystics is over, her husband Marco has returned home safely. Marco then pledges to not leave home again now that the land is at peace. Turning to the subject of what’s going on in the desert, Fiona tells the group that everything that she tries to plant is dying before it can grow because of the monsters lurking in the desert.
Fiona has been trying to restore the area for some time. The land has been devastated during the last ten years presumably because this is where the bulk of the fighting in the war against the Mystics had taken place. She tells the group that she has a special tree that has been cultivated through the ages that she believes could restore the forest. Fiona is hesitant to try to plant the tree with the monsters still about, however. It seems very likely that this is even the same tree that the woman in Zeal Palace refused to burn because it was giver to her my Melchior, the Guru of Life. Perhaps that woman is even an ancestor of Fiona.
Naturally, the group agrees to look into the monster problem and a quick conversation with Marco reveals that the monsters in the desert are afraid of water. It’s a good thing we have people proficient in water magic. The team sets out to enter the Sunken Desert southwest of Fiona’s house and begin to clear out the monsters. In the deepest part of the Sunken Desert the party comes across a large creature moving though the sand. Robo seems worried about facing a monster powerful enough to move through sand like it does but Magus seems to recognize it. Perhaps he has some familiarity with the creature, or these are a band of monsters who fought on the side of the Mystics and now resorted to causing trouble in the desert? Regardless, despite Robo’s reservations, the team defeat Retinite and with all of the monsters dealt with, return to Fiona’s to inform her that she can continue her work. Fiona is of course thankful that the team took care of the monsters but fears that it will takes ages for her to plant enough trees to reforest the area. If only someone could help her… Robo instantly offers to help with Fiona’s massive project since he has the advantages of never getting tired or ageing. He tells the party that he can stay here and work while they go into the future and retrieve him after his work is complete. With everything sorted out, Robo begins his work and the group board the Epoch and travel to 1000 A.D.
When the Epoch arrives in 1000 A.D. the team finds where there was once a desert, there is now a vast forest. At the center of the forest, where Fiona’s Villa stood, is now a large shrine dedicated to her. The whole structure has a nearly religious aesthetic to it with the people inside even dressed much like nuns. When the party enters the shrine they are greeted by the caretakers of the shrine who inform the group that they give thanks to Fiona and Robo for restoring the forest after the war against Magus. Another of the attendants tell the group that they can see the “remains” of Robo in the inner sanctum. The group heads to the back of the chamber and find Robo resting on a large pedestal in noticeable disrepair. The group bring Robo down from the pedestal and Lucca reactivates the robot. Robo is confused as to where he is at first but cheers up when he realizes that his friends have finally come to retrieve him. He tell that group that even though it’s only been moments for them, a long 400 years have passed for him and he wants to celebrate long awaited reunion.
That night the entire party is camping out in Fiona’s forest. While Lucca is conducting some minor repairs on him, Robo decides to share a revelation he’s had during the course of his work. He tells the group that he does not believe that Lavos is the cause of the Time Gates. Robo now believes that some other entity wanted them to witness the events that have occurred during the time periods that they’ve seen or perhaps even wanted to see the events for itself, as if it were reflecting on the past. Ayla likens it to someone’s life flashing before their eyes before they die. Frog second’s Ayla’s notion suggesting that it could be some kind of reflection on significant events, both good and bad, as someone nears their end. Marle wonders if the same kind of thing will happen to them when it’s their time but Lucca is a bit more skeptical. Marle then asks Lucca if there is a particular time that she would like to return to if she were able. Lucca ponders the question for a moment before giving a half-hearted “not really.” Sensing that she may have touched a sore spot, Marle apologizes for bringing it up but Lucca blows it off and says that it’s just something that she doesn’t like to think about a lot.
Looking to change the subject, Frog points out that even if Lavos didn’t create the Time Gates, it’s fate is somehow bound to the one who did, given that Lavos has played a significant role in nearly every time period that they’ve seen. Magus then askes the obvious question of just who they think this entity is. Robo suggests that the entity is something greater than any of them and that they may not know until after they pass. Admittedly a vague and noncommittal answer. Once the group has reached this philosophical dead end, the party turns in for the night.
Late in the night, after everyone is asleep, Lucca awakens and finds her attention drawn to an area just outside the party’s campsite. Once outside the site, Lucca comes across an odd Time Gate unlike any of the others that they’ve come across. Lucca enters the Gate and when she emerges, finds herself in her bedroom. On the floor of her room she finds a journal entry dated June 24 990, the entry has Lucca complaining that her father has blown her off for a planned hiking trip so he could conduct some research. This entry seems to have inspired some hostility toward her father’s interest in science and machinery. Lucca then leaves the room of her younger self and begins to explore the house. In the kitchen she finds another document on the dinner table written by Taban reminding himself that the password to shut off his latest machine is his beloved wife’s name. Well at least he like to keep it simple unlike most password requirements that need 16 letters, at least one number, a symbol, and the blood type of your first love.
Eventually, Lucca makes it to the main room of the house and finds her mother and a much younger Lucca fussing over a large piece of equipment taking up most of the area. Lucca’s mother decides she is going to clean up the dirty machine a bit but accidentally activates it and her dress gets stuck in some of the machinery. Young Lucca rushes over to help, but the two of them together aren’t enough to free the dress and her mother is getting pulled into the machinery. Thinking on her feet, future Lucca goes to the device’s control panel and enter the shutdown password L-A-R-A before anyone gets seriously hurt. Once the machine is shut down, Lara and young Lucca manage to free her dress and then breathe a sigh of relief.
Sometime later, Lucca is back in her younger self’s bedroom emotionally drained and taking in what happened. She’s just saved her mother from the devastating accident that paralyzed her so many years ago. On the floor of the room, Lucca finds another journal entry dated July 2 where young Lucca recognizes the close call that occurred with the machine and this has prompted her to study up more toughly from now in so she’ll know what to do if there is ever another situation like that and they aren’t so lucky. Wait, where was future Lucca when young Lucca was writing this? No matter, with her work now done, Lucca re-enters the Time Gate to return to her friends.
When Lucca exits the Time Gate, she finds Robo waiting for her. Robo, somehow knowing what Lucca has been doing, remarks that event has been weighing heavily on her for a long time. Robo commends Lucca on how she’s always thinking of others then opens his casing and hands her a piece of amber. Robo tells Lucca that he created what is called the “Green Dream” from the sap of the trees in the forest and it has taken centuries and lots of pressure to make it for her. Lucca thanks Robo and is taken aback by the kindness of his gift to her then the two return to the camp.