A Gathering of Heroes

Lou Ole

The gathering was small, smaller than it should have been for such a great man. It consisted only of a few close friends and those who had gotten wind of the farewell ceremony, come to pay their respects to their departed friend and savior. The man to be honored lay cold and pale on the stone bier, surrounded by many of those that he had touched in his life, though by no means all of them. With teary eyes, an old woman strode regally up to the body and laid a single white rose on the chest of Chrono, the leader of the band of heroes that had saved the planet from extinction.

Marle sniffled and said, "Of all the people I had hoped to outlive, you were one who I wished I hadnāt." Another figure walked up to her and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders.

"It happens to all of us eventually," said Lucca. "I think he was expecting it, the way he suddenly became obsessed with finding an heir. Itās a wonder that no one saw it coming."

"That doesnāt make it any less sad," replied Marle. "He was loved by so many. Why did he have to die now!?"

"No one can choose when they wish to die, Marle," replied a new voice. "To think that they can is pure foolishness. Besides, now is as good a time as any to depart this world. His adventuring days were over, and his memory was deserting him rapidly. We can only be thankful that he saw the need to decide upon an heir to the throne instead of adamantly refusing to give up his power in his senility. He saved the kingdom much strife and bloodshed with his foresight."

"You always were one for flowery speeches, Magus," Lucca said with a rueful smile. "However, I really donāt think your little lecture made Marle feel any better." She gestured at the silently weeping queen who had separated herself from them. "Perhaps you should have picked a better subject than Chronoās degrading mental abilities."

"Indeed," said Magus. "Itās a shame that the Epoch broke down after you picked me up. Now Ayla and Frog will never know that their old friend died. I wonder how they are doing."

"I, too, wonder how Frog and Ayla are," spoke a rough, metallic voice. "Why is Miss Marle leaking?"

"Sheās crying, Robo," replied Lucca. "Humans cry when they are upset. It shows sadness." She looked with pity upon the old queen. "I donāt know how long sheāll be able to survive without Chrono. I think weād better keep a close eye on her. She absolutely adored her husband until the very end, who knows what she might do to herself?"

"You arenāt suggesting sheāll kill herself?" asked Magus in a shocked voice. "Do you think she would actually go that far?"

"Of course not," said Lucca. "But after a loved one dies, many people sometimes lose all interest in life. They donāt sleep, eat. They just sit staring into space. Itās been well-documented. We should probably take care that she keeps on taking interest in daily habits."

"So who did Chrono appoint for his heir?" asked Magus.

"He said that Luccaās daughter, Little Marle, should ascend the throne when Marle no longer wants it," said Robo.

"So who is the young lassās father Lucca?" asked Magus with a malicious smile. "Itās common knowledge that youāve never been married."

"Itās also common knowledge that I adopted my daughter," replied Lucca with a lofty expression. Magus chuckled softly, but soon fell silent as the somber atmosphere pressed in on him.

"I wonder if he can hear us," said Robo in what passed as a whisper for a robot.

"I think he can," said Lucca. "I think that one as great as him could not possibly just fade away."

"I think he can hear us also," replied Magus. "But even if he canāt, he will still be remembered in history. He saved the world, brought the kingdom several decades of peace, and was loved by countless multitudes. When all is said and done, I would say he did rather well."

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