The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
In a game with time-traveling frog knights, sentient robots from a future hellscape, and a spikey apocalyptic hell-beast, what could it be about a meek, morally weak lass which could overshadow the journey to save the Planet and launch a nearly two-decade quest to search for some way to defy her fate?
After visiting the end of the world and the farthest reaches of time itself, the magical Kingdom of Zeal appears as an oasis for our heroes, magnificent palaces and scientific wonders gleaming before the party as if to defy their every experience of the horrors facing reality. It is here where the reserved, melancholy, blue-haired Princess of Zeal, Schala, is first met.
Possessing grace, compassion, and a hint of tragedy, Schala bears the burden of enacting the dark ritual which is the source of the glory of her people and her kingdom. The world of never ending dreams that is the Kingdom of Zeal is borne of the agony of the Planet itself.
And it is by Schalas' own hands that such darkness swallows the earth, and casts its pale shadow across the whole of Time.
It is this moral weakness which defines Schala Zeal, leads to her tragic fate, and leaves her abandoned by the party, the Planet, and "Chrono Triggers" equivalent of the Creator.
Yet does Schala Zeal deserve to be The Girl Who Time Forgot?
Schala is directly responsible for the total annihilation of her kingdom and people. The pinnacle of human ingenuity, passion, and civilization obliterated in a moment, toppled from its lofty empyrean height and left to decay beneath squall-savaged waves, the light of progress to fade into obscurity and mere myth. The near extinction of the Earthbound Ones is invoked with her silent acquiescence to the sins of her Zealotry.
Schala is directly responsible for stranding her brother, Janus, in time, left to be literally raised by monsters and become one himself. Schala, sister to Janus, is in truth the mother of Magus, and the evil and madness he unleashes.
Schala Zeal is undeniably a monster.
Schala Zeal is undeniably human.
Schala is the loftiest member of a humanity which had slipped loose the surly bonds of the Earth, harnessing a might outshining even that of the Sun. Hers is the conscience of a people who have forsaken the burden of the physical world, with its limits and impossibilities and cold realities, to indulge in every decadent desire and depravity they could dream. Hers is a sublime and ethereal grace willingly descending amongst those whose sole existence is one defined by squalor, misery, tears and toil: the choice was hers to covet and control the power to walk amongst the stars, and yet she forsook all to remain Earthbound.
Schala is directly responsible for the glittering glimmer of humanity in the dark soul of the Magus. The life of the party spared due to the direct intercession of Schala, causing even the darkest wizard in history to withhold his wrath. The hard road to redemption Janus Zeal embarks upon navigable due to the beacon of love Schala serves as.
Could one attain heights greater than that of Schala? To possess a grace able to encompass the most vile, and the most forsaken?
Could one fall farther than Schala? To surrender herself body and soul to one which ravishes Planets and Creation itself?
s Schala Zeal the arbiter of the sacred and the profane, her existence a mere howl of madness and misery corrupted by her weakness, her "crime" one of not being able to reconcile within her soul that deepest darkness which she communes and shares of, and the demands of a Planet and Entity which asks of her to redeem IT?
And yet......redeem it she does.
Placing her love for humanity and existence itself above that of her own, she willingly, with her own hands, sends to safety the only possibility ever granted for her own redemption and rescue from darkness. Her body and soul the prize Lavos claims as the party is set reeling through time and space, and away from the wrath of the Fallen Bright Star, Lavos.
Is Schala a sacrificial maiden, a necessary casualty for the sake of the Planet?
No. She is not Aeris.
Aeris was remembered.
The party never speaks of Schala ever again.
And yet, it seemed that not all was lost:
Gaspar: One of you is close to someone who needs help........
Surely she had to be out there! Surely her sacrifice was worthy of notice by the Planet, Time, the Entity:
Surely her fate was not to become defined by despair and self-loathing, bereft of love and peace. To be punished for the sins and weakness of Creation itself.
I don't know why I was kept from unleashing Luminaire on the damned NPCs who offered side-quests to change the fate of tree-hugging hippies, temperamental chefs, and jerky-loving jerks, but not the gal who saves the world.
But no matter where I looked, no matter which era of history the Epoch and party scoured, no trace of Schala was ever found.
She became The Girl Time Forgot.
New games would come and go, villains were vanquished and worlds of ever-increasing polygonal and processing prowess were explored, yet I was not willing to abandon the sad, slender blue-haired lass to the cruel purgatory left for her by apathetic Entities and self-serving "heroes" like Chrono, Lucca, and Marle. Eventually, as I considered the various thematic and philosophical questions raised in "Chrono Trigger", the search for Schala became no longer focused on physically locating her, instead becoming a quest for the meaning behind her fate.
Was it a statement on the impotence of "gods", to be able to truly save or redeem? The inability of the gamer, so often taking on the role of Savior of Mankind, to rescue a paltry teenage girl?
Was it the nature of Time itself to leave us all behind, as it had the Reptites, and Schala was just the figurehead of the race of Man which shall one day too pass utterly from this Earth?
Was it commentary on the place or nature of morality and justice in Creation? After all:
She does not seek to stir the wrath of gods, doomed by her own hubris.
She neither covets nor worships the pain of the Planet and Life itself.
She does not measure her naiveté and righteousness to be the equal or superior of evil and chaos.
She knows she is weak. She knows she does wrong. She does all she can to minimize the destruction her moral cowardice creates while finding the strength to accomplish what she and only she can do, to enable those who CAN stop Lavos to do so.
And for this she is damned?
It is not unusual for videogames to ask of the audience to "Rescue the Princess." Surely, the graceful and doomed Princess of Zeal was no exception?
Yet, all these years later, I still have not found a way to rescue Schala Zeal from her fate.
One might thus state the search for Schala is meaningless. Hopeless.
But would she say so herself? Would she say that her love and existence had no meaning?
The hope she gave the party. The hope she had for her brother. The hope she had that Life itself may find champions to withstand the might of the harbinger of chaos and the despair, the ravisher of Planets and Creation.
Hope, you see, is where Schala is found.