Spoiler Warning: this page contains detailed plot
Please note that the material in the following essay may not be the sole
explanation for the events we see concerning the Time Devourer. There are
other probable hypotheses, but, though intricate, this seems to be the most
logical to me as it incorporates our knowledge of Chrono Cross and
further ties it into Chrono Trigger. This hypothesis is the culmination
of not only my thoughts but of many others with whom I have had written
correspondence. As a result I have included a great deal of speculation to
support this hypothesis in order to fill in various gaps, but as always read
with a critical eye. I repeat: this entire page reflects speculation from
assorted sources and is not confirmed by Squaresoft. Reject it if you
I. The Ocean Palace: a review
To quote Kid, "What in blazes is a Devourer of Time!?" To be honest I sincerely doubt anyone knows. What we are told in Chrono Cross is scant and is summarized only in the last moments of the game. What follows are the few lines dedicated to the description and birth of the Devourer.
"The Devourer of Time is a new life-form... Born out of the fusion of a life-form from this planet with Lavos, who nests on the far side of the dimensional void. In the far-off future, when the fusion becomes complete, IT will awaken... Then, the Devourer of Time will begin to consume all space-time continua... Despair and hatred... To return all things to nothingness... That is what IT desires." - Belthasar
What it all boils down to is that Schala was enveloped by a Gate during the destruction of Zeal, an event which transpired toward the end of Chrono Trigger. Crono thrust Melchiors dreamstone knife into the Mammon Machine which caused it to surge with power and go haywire. Hell, for lack of a better phrase, broke loose at this point as Lavos was inadvertently summoned, killing Crono, and unleashing fiery fury upon the kingdom. While this occurred multiple spontaneous time gates formed, each of which enveloped one of the gurus of Zeal and a fourth which absorbed Janus. While the palace suffered damage and began to crumble, Schala used the remaining power in her pendant to transport Cronos friends and Magus safely to the surface. It is here the screen fades to black, leaving us in the dark for six years as to the fate of Schala. Chrono Cross then revealed what happened next as a fifth Gate appeared to engulf Schala herself.
It is here where the mystery begins.
II. The Foundation of the Beast
Though the text clearly states the Time Devourer is a union of Schala and Lavos there is still a tremendous debate raging as to whether this is accurate. Players have aggregated themselves into two opposing groups and each has nominated its own candidate for what creature served as the basis for the Devourer. One party echoes Chrono Cross and insists Schala merged with Lavos in the Darkness of Time. The other argues it was nothing more than a simple Lavos spawn which served as the source of the monster.
From what we are told in Chrono Cross, it does indeed seem as though
Schala merged with the adult Lavos of Chrono Trigger. In the English
release of the game a spawn is never mentioned. While some say this is a
translation error, I've been told by many who have played the Japanese version
that a Lavos spawn was never referenced and the scenes were translated correctly.
While I have not played the foreign version, I have been shown a transcript
of the scene at Opassa Beach in which the Devourer is discussed. After having
run the paragraphs through a rudimentary online translator I also see no
mention of Lavos' progeny. Rather, the text makes it clear that Schala merged
only with Lavos. This would seemingly make the most sense as Schala had a
direct connection to the beast through the Mammon Machine in the Ocean Palace.
It is through this link to one another that the two met. Also as of 12,000
BC spawns had not yet been conceived, so there would have been little chance
for her to encounter one.
III. Sizing Up The Competition
Many who maintain that a spawn was involved hold to the idea that the size of the Devourer is proof enough, citing it is too small when compared to the real Lavos but about the ideal size for a spawn. While I will admit the Devourer seems small, we must not forget that people often exaggerate the height of Chrono Trigger's Lavos, sometimes claiming it to have been "the size of a city". While this is certainly true when looking at the overworld sprite of the creature, a person of this opinion must also concede Crono as being "the size of a house" or Guardia Castle being "the size of a mountain". Put simply, the objects on the map were not created to scale and thus can be of no use in determining size. Rather we have to look to the sprites used in battles as they portray a much more realistic perspective. A quick analysis of Lavos' size has been provided, in which we see the beast may not have exceeded 30 feet in height. By contrast the Time Devourer was probably only a few feet shy of this, being perhaps at the absolute smallest about half that size.
The primary reason for this size reduction likely lies with the technical capabilities of the Playstation console. When we take into consideration the limitations of game design we can understand why sacrifices must be made. Having too large of a model to manage would have undoubtedly slowed the frame-rate and become too much of a burden to create. A balance between fluidity and style had to be reached and in this compromise the creature was shrunk to a convenient size.
However the size of the Devourer can be explained in terms of the plot as well. We know that at an undisclosed date in the past the Devourer was given the opportunity to absorb the Dragon God. By doing so the two creatures merged, sharing and transforming one anothers DNA. This blending may have certainly resulted in many mutations to Lavos, not the least of which may have been decreased size. In fact the whole of Lavos' body changed drastically. Some of the most visible alterations include the addition of a tail to the creature as well as small purple appendages on its underside. We can also note that the creature has pronounced legs upon which it can stand, a drastic change from either the Lavos or spawns we saw in Chrono Trigger who hugged the ground as they crawled. Lastly, the Devourer seems have considerably less needles and a smaller, more contorted mouth. As the creature continues to evolve its appearance proceeds to change and possibly did so further upon its absorption of Schala. This repeated reconfiguration of the Devourer's DNA distorted Lavos so drastically from its original form that it is not surprising why it looks so differently in Chrono Cross. Whether it is Lavos or its spawn, one cannot deny that its appearance simply cannot be used for evidence as by the time of Chrono Cross it had been warped beyond any previous recognition.
At this point I have exhausted all evidences I have detailing why I believe
the Time Devourer is an evolved form of Lavos. But if it truly is Lavos that
Schala merged with it then becomes a dilemma in trying to explain why we
do not see the two connected during the final battle of Chrono Trigger
since the transformation should have begun before the game's end. The most
obvious answer again is an external one. In 1995 when the game was released
the idea had not been thought of as it was retroactively added
to the plot by Chrono Cross. However this is not very satisfying,
especially when it is possible to find a feasible in-game explanation. One
leading notion states that the two didn't actually meet until after that
decisive battle had taken place. There are many variations to this hypothesis,
each of which details specifically how this may have happened, but all
essentially boil down to the same premise that Schala and Lavos met in the
Darkness of Time whereupon they merged into the Time Devourer.
IV. To Shed Light Upon the Darkness
The question then arises as to what precisely the Darkness of Time is. Belthasar describes it as "the far side of the dimensional void", which does little to expound the concept. The idea is possibly linked to Luccas letter in which she ponders where "dead" timelines go, which is itself tied to the concept of the Dead Sea, an area which exhibits a temporal anomaly depicting the averted post-1999 future. This has lead some to hypothesize the Darkness is a sort of "temporal graveyard" which objects not belonging to any timeline are destined to go and where all misplaced timestreams come to rest. The area itself is devoid of features save for endlessly flowing bubbles, in which are images of other (possibly dead) timelines. Of this no one can be sure. This concept may be related to Marles experience in which she finds herself in a region that is "cold, dark, and lonely" after her existence had been erased from the timeline. Perhaps she briefly found herself in the Darkness of Time until Crono was able to restore the natural flow of history by preventing Leene's death.
It may be in a similar manner in which Lavos arrived at the Darkness of Time.
Ideas for this range greatly. One suggests that defeating Lavos in the past
via the Black Omen would avert the apocalypse, denying Lavos of any future
existence. Displaced, it would then seem logical to say that Lavos, too,
would find its way into this darkness.
V. The Nature of Lavos
Another version insists Lavos has always existed in the Darkness of Time. In Chrono Trigger the beast is seen sitting in a blue pool-like distortion with radiating fluid waves; a similar field is seen during the battle with the Devourer inside the Darkness. It has been noted that when the creature appeared within the Ocean Palace it did not physically materialize in the same room the characters were in. Rather it appeared as though it was the characters themselves who were transported to Lavos. Lastly it can be observed the right Telepod at the fairgrounds creates a Gate which seemingly takes Crono through time to a designated realm in which the battle occurs. This may be similar to how the so-called "bucket" at the End of Time takes one to Lavos.
Many have pointed out that Lavos seems to transcend time. For example, if Crono destroys the shell's mouth in the future, a visit to the past will reveal the mouth to have perished in that era also, when logically it should not have. It is as though there is one Lavos existing continuously throughout all eras at once. While Lavos resides in the Darkness it is not affected by time; its condition remains the same as millennia advance around it. If its body is altered the change will be immediately revealed across all time periods. In other words, by taking action against the 1999 Lavos one is essentially taking the same action against the Lavos of 12,000 BC. One could then surmise that to engage Lavos is to enter into the Darkness. Regardless of the date of departure one will always arrive at the same destination as the Darkness exists outside of time and is not bound to it.
In repudiation to this premise it may be said Crono can arrive at the same final battle by flying the Epoch to 1999 AD without ever venturing to another dimension. Also upon first arrival through the bucket Crono finds himself on a rocky substrate, presumably the area surrounding the eruption site. Two explanations have surfaced to refute these claims. The first assumes the Epoch or Crono, upon approaching Lavos, seamlessly get pulled into the Darkness. This utilizes the comment made by Robo that the creatures shell itself bends time, possibly creating Gates. Though this may be possible, little else can be garnered from within the game to show this.
A second justification makes the assertion that Lavos ultimately has two forms. One is physical and exists on Earth. This is the form responsible for the destruction of both Zeal and later the rest of the world, as well as the briefly mentioned earthquakes near Truce. The other is a manifestation within the Darkness of Time. In this scenario it is assumed the two forms are linked, or rather, each is a half of the whole Lavos and damaging one form inherently harms the other. Using this hypothesis, the Epoch would be crashed into the physical shell and this act would likewise inflict damage to the alternate version nested in the Darkness. Likewise, destroying Lavos in the Darkness eliminates him as a threat on Earth. This concept is similar in nature to how the Dragon God is represented as only one aspect of Lavos in Chrono Cross. The dragons are merely physical projections whose true form, the Devourer, rests within the Darkness of Time.
This concept, though intimidating, actually does a good job at attempting
to combine the idea of Lavos ethereal nature with the fact that it
assuredly has a tangible body. A final hypothesis I will only mention also
incorporates Robos idea and suggests that the blue water-like aura
is caused only by the immense energy given off by the shell. This assumes
no involvement with the Darkness of Time and is the simplest explanation
to date. As so little is known of Lavos' true nature we cannot be sure at
this point of the specifics of this distortion.
In the end, whether we choose to believe Lavos was a long-time resident of
the Darkness of Time or if it only arrived there upon his eradication, we
can agree, in some way or another, that it was here where it would be forever
imprisoned. However Schala's accident in the Ocean Palace changed this fate.
She had formed a direct link to Lavos through her pendant, and ultimately,
the Mammon Machine. The device worked much like Lucca's telepod and generated
enough energy to allow a gate to form. At this point Schala was unable to
escape its gravity and she was pulled to Lavos. There the two meet for the
first time as Lavos lie dying after its recent defeat at the hands of Crono.
Schala's presence breathed new life into the alien as they became physically
bound into what then was termed the Time Devourer. While still weak, it was
forced to wait in the hope of being released someday by the arbiter into
a timeline so that it might appease its temporal appetite when its evolution