I’m going to cover two story beats in this post, and we’re all going to savor the first one, because it’s one of those rare times in this game where a character gets some extra development after they join your party.
Following our conversation with the Safe of Marbule and his bequeathing to Lynx a fiddler crab, it’s now time to try to access the Dead Sea, which has been the objective ever since Lynx escaped the dimensional vortex and found that he was unable to travel back to Another World. Of course, because nothing is ever simple in this game, we use the fiddler crab to open the way into the Dead Sea only to travel about ten feet before reaching a new roadblock: the Masamune.
Anyone who’s played Chrono Trigger will recognize the Masamune as the magical dreamstone blade that was forged by Melchior, one of the Kingdom of Zeal’s three Gurus and wielded during that adventure by Frog. It’s apparently been through some stuff in the intervening four hundred odd years since we last saw it in action. Now a sword that’s soaked in unbridled bloodlust (this is why you always stick to mundane, non-sentient weapons, people) the Masamune has earned a reputation as a cursed object that drives any wielder mad with power.
No, I don’t know why it’s blocking the entrance to the Dead Sea at this point; Radius, who remembers his last encounter with it from only a few years earlier, cast the thing away after it fanned his jealousy of his friend Garai into a murderous intent that ended with Garai’s death. Radius’s shame over having murdered his friend drove him to retire from the Acacia Dragoons and seek penance as Arni Village’s chief.
All of this only becomes relevant when Radius explains that the only artifact powerful enough to counter the Masamune’s dark energy is the holy sword Einlanzer, which marks Garai’s grave. Seeing as Garai was murdered, his ghost is restless, and the island where Radius laid him to rest has been corrupted by Garai’s anger. In order to obtain the Einlanzer, the party is going to have to appease Garai.
Naturally, this means a boss fight, because the obvious answer to an angry ghost begotten by wanton violence is more wanton violence.
The less said about the narrative oddity about this boss fight the better, although I will note that Garai uses lots of white element attacks, which made me regret doing it with a party including two black innate characters. For the first time on this playthrough I found myself nearly wiped out by a boss fight and forced to run away so I could start over (I’m sure it won’t be the last).
Anyway, once Garai is appeased with a good old beating, he gives up the Einlanzer, and we’re finally free to enter the Dead Sea (cue Radius’s complete irrelevance to any further plot points; he still gets better treatment than most of the people who join you).
Now, the Dead Sea is probably my favorite set piece in Chrono Cross. It happens close to the midpoint of the game, and it marks the beginning of what’s going to turn into an incredibly convoluted tangle of plot points. All of that headache is in the future though, and for right now, we’re just going to marvel at the idea of an entire futuristic city frozen in time at the moment of its sudden, catastrophic destruction.
As we explore the ruins, we get a few bits of information about what’s going on. This place is apparently a city from the year 2300, and it has in its records data about the Day of Lavos from 1999. We know from Chrono Trigger that the Day of Lavos happens in the future, but Chrono and his friends travel to that point in the timeline and destroy Lavos before it can do any permanent damage to the world (the apparent prosperity on display in the city suggests that this has to have been the case, since this is not a remnant of the broken future that we saw in Chrono Trigger). Unfortunately, there’s not much beyond that bit of information right now, so we’re all left with the question of what a city from 1300 years in the future is doing stuck in time in the middle of collapse in 1020.
One mystery that does get solved here is the fate of the Acacia Dragoons in Home World. They’ve been missing for several years, and at the heart of the tower in the middle of the Dead Sea, we find all of them (Viper, Karsh, Marcy, Zoah, Glenn, and Riddel) frozen before what looks like a time gate. Whatever cataclysm caused this city’s destruction, the Dragoons were present when it happened (for those savvy readers who’ve been paying attention, yes, that means that this future city has been around in the present for some time).
To go with the smattering of answers, we get a new mystery. At the center of all the chaos, the party encounters an unassuming man named Miguel who is the guardian of the Dead Sea. He recognizes Serge, even in Lynx’s body, and explains that this city is the place where he and Serge’s father Wazuki brought the boy fourteen years earlier after he was attacked by a panther demon. Wazuki was desperate to save the boy’s life, and he found something that did just that, though Miguel doesn’t tell us what. For whatever reason, Wazuki and Miguel were trapped in the future city, and Serge returned home alone.
At this point, Miguel starts to wax philosophic about the futility of fighting against fate, and then he says that he can’t let the party leave, so there’s a fight. All there is to say about fighting Miguel is that he’s stronger than Garai, he has great unique boss music, and if you need to run away, he’s gracious enough to give you a minute to collect yourself before he tries to kill you again.
Once you defeat Miguel (because this is always how things work in awesome dungeons like the Dead Sea) the whole place becomes unstuck and the city’s collapse runs its course. Fortunately, a dragon swoops in at the last moment and saves the party, so that’s kind of cool.