Disclaimer: This is a fanfic based on Kat’s novel Sail. Some of the scenes and most of the characters are from Sail. And Kronos is one of Chey’s characters. And the premise to this story is Tyry’s idea. Really I can’t claim anything except the poor writing, the ship, and Retsy.
_Moonlight glittered on the creek and crickets chirped in the night, as Kateiko lay on the bank, confessing to Rhonos her part in Marijka’s death. Rhonos kept control of his outrage, heard Kako out, and offered advice for moving forward.
"You must stay with Tiernan now. Do you understand? I will help you talk to him when I return."
"Fine," agreed Kako, rolling closer to Rhonos and curling up next to him. "I’m so tired."
"Here," said Rhonos, spreading a blanket over her.
"Thank you," she murmured sleepily. "When will you be back?"
"As soon as possible."_
The walls of the Time Control Center were covered with dozens of monitors, each showing a different scene in space and time. Below the monitors, countertops full of buttons, levers, and knobs allowed for potentially interfering with the events of Time. Technically, Kronos was forbidden to interfere, but what’s the point of being a powerful Time Elemental if you can’t help out here and there, amirite?
Kronos watched the endearing scene between Rhonos and Kateiko on one of his many monitors. He couldn’t help but smile, watching the two young people. He had seen so many fall in love - indeed, far more than he could count. And indeed, he had all seen many fall out of love. It was so commonplace that whether or not love would blossom between two people rarely concerned him in the slightest. But these two people were different. There was something about them - Kronos wasn’t quite sure what it was, but perhaps it had something to do with their names - that had Kronos really rooting for them to get together.
Kronos was snapped out of his shipping daydreams by a loud thump.
He jumped and turned around, to find a girl crumpled on the floor behind him.
"Ow," she moaned.
Kronos stared in astonishment. He had lived in the Time Control Center since the beginning of Time, and would continue to until the end of Time, and it was very, very rare for him to have any visitors.
"How did you get here?"
" I don’t know!" snapped the girl. "Ask Suriel."
What did I miss while I was watching Kateiko and Rhonos? wondered Kronos. He pressed a few buttons and one of the monitors switched scenes to show the girl and Suriel atop the Pillared Mountain.
"Suriel, you’re standing in the way of my evil global domination plans!" the girl (on the screen) was saying. Kronos fast-forwarded a bit (you’ve heard one evil monologue, you’ve heard them all). He pressed 'play' in time to hear Suriel say in his eerie voice, "insolent human! Death is too sweet a fate for you, I shall banish you outside of Time so that you can watch me destroy everything you care about over and over for all of eternity!" Suriel glowed, the girl vanished off of the screen, and the girl beside Kronos nodded.
"Yup, that’s what happened," she confirmed. "Who are you anyway? Are you imprisoned here too?"
"No, no. I’m Kronos, I’m a Time elemental. Few have heard of me, since I mostly watch from behind the scenes and only intervene when I deem it necessarily and prudent, but I am free to travel the world, anytime, anywhere."
"Sweet deal! I’m Retsy, by the way. I’m an evil magess destined to take over the world. So can you give me a lift back, uh, into the world?"
Kronos kept tabs on those who were liable to attempt to take over the world, and Retsy had never been anywhere near his radar, but he shrugged that off for the moment. "I’m afraid I cannot help. In order to undo your exile, I would need to go back in time to before Suriel banished you, and somehow prevent him from doing so."
"So, can you do that?" Retsy asked. "This would be a "necessarily and prudent" intervention, right?"
"It’s not that simple. Even the tiniest action in time can cause ripples that lead to massive consequences."
"Massive consequences like stopping a sociopathic air spirit from destroying the world? You’re just going to sit back and watch him kill everything?"
"Hey now," said Kronos, "you don’t know how many would-be-evil-overlords I’ve prevented from taking over! Suriel is different. He’s been planning this for millennia, and has planned against every eventuality. Every time I try to block him, he’s already planned for it and it ends up working to his favour. I’m afraid our only hope against Suriel lies in the various heroes of the world. There is a chance, however slim, that they may yet figure out how to take him down."
"But… my destiny…"
"It’s not so bad here," Kronos attempted to comfort her. "There’s plenty to watch. Check out this scene," he re-wound the scene he had been watching moments earlier, of Kako’s confession and Rhonos covering her with a blanket.
Retsy watched intently. "Aww," she said. "Do they get married and live happily ever after?"
"We’ll have to keep watching and find out. You wouldn’t want spoilers, would you?"
"Ooh, maybe this will help!" said Retsy, noticing a knob marked "love" and turning it up.
"NO!" exclaimed Kronos, too late reaching out to stop her hand. He gripped his hair in horror. "What have you done?! Was that a necessary and prudent intervention??"
Retsy shifted her eyes back and forth. "Yes?"
Kronos sighed in exasperation.
"Should I dial it back?" Retsy offered. She reached toward the "love" dial again, but this time Kronos stopped her in time.
"No!" he repeated. "It would be impossible for you to get it back to exactly the level that it was. A second intervention could make it worse. We will just have to watch and hope that there are no major problems from this act of foolishness…"
Retsy glanced at the monitor doubtfully. Had she really ruined the world? It looked the same to her. Rhonos had already left, but Kako was still lying on the creek-bank, smiling in her sleep.
_"It’s been a week, Anwea."
Kateiko was in Tiernan’s stable, brushing her horse and thinking aloud.
"I’m so eager for him to return. Yet…" A long silence while she brushed Anwea several times. "…I’m not sure what I’ll do when he does."
Anwea listened patiently. Or ignored Kako. It’s hard to tell with horses.
"He… likes me." A spark in her voice, and brightness to her eyes displayed how exciting Kako found that idea. "I thought he hated me. He was so cold, you know? But then, he brought me a blanket. He sent me zucchini calamari. He trusted me to take care of his friend, despite my recent error in judgment. And he’s a cool guy. Infuriating as woodcarving, but a good person. Always on the move, always learning, fighting the fight. Do you think I really have a chance with Rhonos, Anwea?"
An awkward silence for several moments, before Anwea gave a tiny snort which encouraged Kako to speak again.
"Oh, what should I do?" She rested her forehead in Anwea’s fur. "This is my chance to finally get Tiernan’s attention. He’s shattered, but I’m picking up his pieces. Besides, he really doesn’t have anyone else anymore. I think if I kissed him, he’d really respond to it."
She fell silent again, and didn’t speak as she finished grooming Anwea and left the stable, though she seemed preoccupied and hardly paying attention to what she was doing._
"Man, she’s still going to pursue Tiernan?" groaned Retsy.
Kronos sighed. "We can’t control who will pursue whom. I mean, we could, but it would be incredibly foolish."
"More foolish than kissing Tiernan when he’s obviously still mourning his wife?"
"Well… the point is, we must not interfere. This is Kateiko’s decision," said Kronos gravely.
"Ugh." Retsy crossed her arms and plopped herself down in her chair in disgust.
Kateiko kissed Tiernan, twining her fingers into his dark hair. Raindrops slid down his face. She pressed close to him, but he didn’t respond. When his blank eyes met hers, she let go. She forced broken rock pieces into his hand, mouthed "I love you," and left.
Retsy tsked her tongue and shook her head. "Just turn it off," she told Kronos. "Even a sports game would be better than this."
Kronos shook his head. "You can’t just give up on people every time they disappoint you. When you’ve seen as many missed opportunities as I have, perhaps you’ll understand. Any amount of beauty and victory can still come through any amount of brokenness."
"Whatever," Retsy rolled her eyes.
At The Blackened Oak, Kateiko sat for hours, waiting for Rhonos.
"This is so boring, can’t you fast-forward?" asked Retsy.
"What’s the rush, young one? Weren’t you the one who asked me to turn it off? Of course, I could fast-forward, but this gives me a chance to check the other monitors. Keep an eye on Kateiko for me, would you?" Kronos swiveled slowly around the room, surveying the many different monitors which each seemed to display a different scene in space and time.
"OHSNAP!" Kronos suddenly shouted, startling Retsy. She jumped and looked at the monitor that had Kronos’ attention.
On the screen, various terrifying monsters who seemed to be made out of owwies were violently killing off valiant heroes, while cities burned in the background. "Ew!" exclaimed Retsy, covering her eyes from the grotesque sight.
"I turn my back on the mirror universe for a couple of weeks and look what happens!" moaned Kronos. "Unkillable zombie monsters take over the world! Ugh, what a mess. This is going to take a lot of work to undo. You see, Retsy? This is a necessary and prudent intervention."
Retsy peeked through her fingers and shuddered. "I feel sick," she complained.
"Just watch Kateiko," said Kronos. "I’ll be a while here."
Retsy swiveled her chair closer to Kako’s monitor. She was still waiting in the tavern, alone. Boring. Retsy looked at all the buttons on the control panel. They didn’t look that hard to figure out… She glanced back at Kronos, but all his attention was obviously on trying to save the mirror universe. A mischievous smile tugged on Retsy’s lips as she bent over the control panel under Kako’s monitor.
"Okay, I think I got that sorted out," said Kronos, sounding drained. He swiveled back to Retsy to watch KateikoVision. "Rather sloppy. I had to send a time-traveler. But those horrors should be prevented now. Hopefully. Anyway, what did I miss?"
Kronos looked at the monitor.
_The tavern was a mess, with tables and chairs knocked over and puddles of beer on the floor, but Rhonos and Kako sat at a table in the corner, talking.
"There’s something I need to tell you," said Rhonos. He shifted uncomfortably. "This isn’t easy."
"What is it?" asked Kako, looking scared.
Rhonos took a deep breath and stared intently at his mug. "Since I met you, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you."_
Kronos’ brow furrowed. "That doesn’t sound like Rhonos…" He looked at Retsy, who dodged his glance.
"I thought I’d get over it while traveling the world, but it’s only gotten worse," Rhonos continued. "I constantly miss you and wish you were there. It seems I’ve… I love you."
Kronos was horrified. "Retsy! What did you do?!"
Retsy smiled nervously, her teeth clenched. "Uh, nothing! There’s a perfectly logical explanation. Someone spilled a love potion in his drink. Freak accident."
"Rhonos doesn’t consume anything he’s served unless he trusts the person who prepared and served it to him," Kronos pointed out.
"Um, well, there was a brawl in the tavern, see? See all the mess? And during the commotion, someone accidentally spilled love potion in his drink. And no one noticed."
"But he makes sure to keep his eyes on his drink from the time he’s served until he has finished it. If he was distracted by a brawl, he wouldn’t have finished his drink, as a precaution."
"Usually that’s true," admitted Retsy. "But in this case his judgment was impaired because he hasn’t gotten any sleep in four days."
Kronos stared at her suspiciously.
"And he was exceptionally thirsty because he hadn’t had anything to drink all day," added Retsy.
Kronos still didn’t seem convinced, but reluctantly turned his attention back to the monitor.
_Kako’s eyes were wide and her mouth was open in shock.
"Uh, did you hear me?" asked Rhonos.
"Yeah…" said Kako, dazed. "You… love me?"
"That seems to be the case," agreed Rhonos. "I regret to burden you with this information, but I was hoping you’d feel the same way, so we could move forward."
"I just can’t believe it…"
"Do you need time to consider it? I could go on another voyage of indeterminate length, and seek you out whenever I return?" offered Rhonos.
"No!" said Kako quickly. "I’m just surprised. That was completely unexpected."
"I understand, my apologies."
"I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me," Kako began. "And believe me, it’s taking all of my restraint not to throw myself on you right now. But…"
"Er, thanks for your restraint," said Rhonos, looking mortified.
"But I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to be together," finished Kako.
She added quickly. "It’s not your fault! It’s just, you deserve better."
Rhonos scowled. "How could you say such a hateful thing? Don’t I have the right to make my own decisions?"
Kako instantly got defensive. "Well yeah, but so do I! And I’m better off on my own."
"Fine, if that’s what you want. Farewell," Rhonos got up abruptly and left._
"ARGH!" Retsy stomped on the floor. "I couldn’t have given them a better setup, and she rejected him?!"
Kronos raised an eyebrow.
"Alright fine, I interfered!" huffed Retsy. "For all the good it did! It didn’t even change anything."
"We can only hope it didn’t change much. Look, I’m as disappointed about these two as you are. But don’t you see? Interfering usually only makes things worse."
Retsy just crossed her arms and sulked.
_Near the Iyo-jouyen, the newly-arrived Rin-jouyen were having a party with some of their Iyo friends & relations. Kako sat with Airedain, an Iyo friend whom she had grown even closer to since leaving Tiernan’s house. The reunion was going splendidly until Rhonos came to warn everyone that the Corvittai were coming to kill them all. Kako convinced the okorebai-Rin that Rhonos was trustworthy, and he sent Airedain to run to the Iyo-jouyen and beg their okorebai for reinforcements. Airedain kissed Kako before running off.
Kako stepped aside with Rhonos to ask him about Tiernan and Nonil. After a brief discussion, Rhonos sadly asked, "I thought you said you were better off on your own?"
"Uh," Kako fiddled with her hair. "I didn’t mean that, exactly…"
"You meant you were better off with him?" Rhonos nodded to the now-far-off figure of Airedain, running across the plain.
"…yeah," Kako admitted.
"I see." Rhonos turned to leave, but Kako grabbed his arm.
"Please, try to see it from my side."
"You prefer be with him than to be with me. That’s your decision."
"It’s not about who I prefer," said Kako. "I wasn’t good enough for Fendul. I wasn’t good enough for Tiernan. I wasn’t good enough for Parr. Even if you’d be okay with it, I don’t want to spend my life being not good enough for you. You don’t know what that’s like. But with Airedain, it’s different. A goldfish would be good enough for him. I’m sufficient. I’m good for him."
Rhonos just looked at her, sadly.
The ground lurched beneath them.
Kako gave a small yell of surprise at the sensation, then another when she saw her surroundings. The forest and fields were gone. She and Rhonos were standing on wooden planks, with large crates stacked on either side of them. "What-? What-?!" she sputtered
Rhonos pulled her into the shadows, and crouched down, gesturing to her to be quiet.
"Where are we?" whispered Kako.
"We’re aboard some sort of ship," Rhonos whispered back. Looking between two stacks of crates, Kako could make out a railing, and beyond that, blue waves. "I know nothing more about this than you do, but we must stay hidden until we figure out if we were summoned here by allies or foes."_
"What. Did. You. Do?!" demanded Kronos.
"I don’t know!" Retsy answered. "I thought that was the code to ship them!"
Kronos groaned. "You shipped them alright - on a cargo ship."
"Ohh! That doesn’t count as a mistake then, I just misunderstood the wording of the code!"
"I thought you learned your lesson last time! Why, why would you interfere again?"
Retsy looked at her feet in shame. "I’m sorry. I’ll never interfere in Kako & Rhonos’s lives again, ever. I promise."
Kronos looked at the remorseful, repentant girl before him, and sighed. On the screen, Rhonos and Kako crouched in the shadows of the crates. The ship swayed, knocking Kako onto Rhonos’ lap. Their faces turned red.
"I have to go to the bathroom," said Kronos. "Then I’ll see if there’s any way I can correct this. Touch nothing while I’m gone."
Retsy nodded dutifully. As soon as Kronos went into the bathroom and shut the door, she turned to the control panel and rapidly typed in a long string of code. The truth was, she hadn’t been interfering with Rhonos and Kako just because they belonged together; she had also wanted to learn how to use the time controls for her own reasons. Her finger hovered over the "execute" button. Do it now , she told herself. But she hesitated.
The bathroom door opened, and Retsy jumped. "HI!" she exclaimed.
Kronos’ eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Hi…"
"I have something to tell you," she blurted out.
"What is it?"
Retsy took a deep breath. "Thank you. For taking care of me the last couple of weeks. And putting up with my mistakes. But I think it’s time for me to go."
Kronos gave her a sympathetic smile. "You are welcome, of course. But we’ve been over this. It would be too risky to put you back in your own time."
"I know. And besides, I’m an evil magess. And I’m not even very good at that. I’ve only ever been a burden on my friends, and if I went back, I’d just continue to fail everything. So, the best thing would be if I never existed." Retsy leaned down and hit the "execute" button.
"RETSY, NO!" Kronos lunged to grab her, but she was already gone. He was alone in the Time Control Center. "No, no, no," he whispered in dismay, while hastening to change channels on the monitors, and rewinding. There were Retsy’s fellow adventurers, taking down a ruffian encampment, rescuing a magess who had been kidnapped by a demon, attending a wedding… all adventures Retsy had been on, but now she was absent. Kronos rewound further and found Retsy’s brother Toreon, growing up an only child.
"She erased herself from time," murmured Kronos. But he couldn’t let that happen. This was why he had an "undo the last command" command! Rapidly he began typing in the code. In his haste, he made typos that he had to stop and correct. But he would get her back, he had to!
His typing slowed and then stopped as he looked up, a puzzled expression on his face. What was he doing? Something about a girl who had been with him. But what girl? No one had been with him. He shook his head to clear his thoughts, deleted the code he had been typing and sat down. Now, what was he doing? Oh yes, watching Kateiko and Rhonos!
There was Kateiko on one monitor, fighting the Corvittai with her friends and family. On another monitor was Rhonos, traveling Eremur on his own. It was a shame those two never got together, they would have been perfect for each other.