Did Harle really merge with the Dragon God before the end of Chrono Cross? What is the nature of her existence?
After the real Dragon God was originally a singular plasma life-form, which was a living accumulation of the planet's energy that was consumed by the Time Devourer. Because of this, it would presumably have access to Schala's genome to create a daughter-clone in a similar way that Schala did. The fact that the Dragon God's remaining physical avatar is a quasi-entity that it uses to appear in this dimension. The fact that it bears some physical resemblance to Lavos also seems to hint at some sort of crossover of information between the two entities. If the Dragon God's physical avatar resembled Lavos, it would make sense that when it also generated another daughter-entity it would resemble Schala/Kid. What's interesting is that this relationship suggests that Harle and the Dragon God are both a single entity, as well as two individual entities, much like the Time Devourer.
The Dragon God's physical avatar was split into the six individual plasma life-forms (known as Dragons) by FATE in, order to control the Elements. This shows that their natural state is when they're merged. When Chronopolis was temporarily shut down during the magnetic storm, the six Dragons combined to create Harle. Since (given this translation) Harle is then not a broken piece of the full Dragon God like the other six Dragons, she is a unique entity that's separate from the Dragon God, while also being a part of it. She's still considered the "7th" or "Dark Moon Dragon" (a connection to her Japanese name being Tsukuyomi), but Belthasar even refers to her as their child, which makes her innately different than them.
Some proof of this can be seen in the ending "Return of the Downtrodden". The Dragon God wipes out humanity, and (some years) later, Harle is seen in El Nido, eventually flowers at Cape Howl. The dwarves mention that the Dragon God is watching over them, which would suggest that The Dragon God still a complete entity as seen earlier on just as it was when it first merged, even though Harle (the 7th Dragon) is not merged into it.
This also brings up the question as to whether of not Harle would have needed to merge with the Dragon God at all, or once she delivered the Froze Flame to the Dragon God, was she free to do as she pleased as an individual entity. We see her vanishing upwards to deliver the Frozen Flame to the Dragon God, but unlike with the other Dragons, we don't see her merging with them. The most insight comes again from Belthasar's quote, "The seven dragons travelled across time to reunite into a single entity." The phrasing strikes me as odd (though it may just be the translation), because it states definitively that "they travelled" but only states their intention to unite as a single entity, not whether or not it was completed. Harle may not have merged with the Dragon God at all, but rather fled into hiding after delivering the Frozen Flame to Terra Tower. If that was the case, she would likely have stayed away from the party after abandoning them to fulfil her mission, and is emotionally distraught over the Dragon God's goals as well, as we see in the "Return of the Downtrodden" ending.
Essentially it comes down to the question of whether or not Harle appears in "Return of the Downtrodden" because the Dragon God is still alive, or in spite of the fact that it is still alive. ]This is where the text in the game seems to have a bit to offer.
When confronting Kid before she takes the Frozen Flame, Harle says the following,
- "NO! Stop. Don't touch it. Kid! I know the feelings you have inside of you. The urge to bring everything to nothing is now stronger than your desire to save everyone. You may want to throw yourself down the cliff to destruction. That's your imperative... But please, Kid... do not drag Serge and the others down into destruction with you."
This is interesting, because it offers up the fact that Harle seems to know the feelings that Kid has, which are also the same feelings that Schala is harboring. This also points to an innate connection between the two involving Schala. When Kid refuses, and Harle is knocked to the ground, the Dragons leave their individual resting places and gather together.
Water: FATE has fallen, FATE has died! Fire: Finally, the time has come. Green: Indeed... The long, endless night shall finally come to and end. Earth: Now... For mankind... Black: I shall make you bleed!!! Sky: Feel a million years of this planet's agony, pain, and suffering...!!!
Harle then awakens as they begin to merge together, leaving with the following comment,
- "I feared it would come to this. I didn't want to have to fight with you if it could be avoided. Goodbye, Serge."
This marks the last time that we see Harle, but both her attitude here, as well as a quote from Belthasar about her purpose seems to pain a picture of the Dragon God.
- "Five brother* stars that correspond to the five colored dragons, ruling like gods over the night skies... One moon that corresponds to the white Sky Dragon, and another darker, daughter moon to counterbalance them."
- The term brother is used, despite the fact that the Dragon's gender is only 3/5ths Male.
Due to Harle's disposition towards Serge, and the humans in general evident in her above dialogue, as well as her role in "Return of the Downtrodden" it's clear that Harle exists as a foil to the Dragon God's sentiment towards humanity. Any proof of Harle joining with the Dragon God is going to be evident in this attitude, which brings us to the dialogue at Terra Tower. The first, and potentially most disturbing in the text seen as you climb the stairs towards the top of the tower.
- "A-ARRGH... HELP... S-STOP IT... KILL ME... WELL COME... Welcome... Humans... Those who know the torment and joy of creation also know the pleasure and pain of destruction. Therefore all that pass through here must be prepared to share the burden that I carry."
Given that this dialogue lacks a direct source, it gives the impression of Harle attempting to communicate to them, as well as her own individuality being overcome into consciousness of the single entity of the Dragon God.
- "In order to survive, all living things in this world fight desperately, and devour those they defeat... Must one kill other living things in order to survive? Must one destroy another world to allow one's own world to continue? The wounded in turn wound and torment those weaker than they themselves are... There are only the killers and the killed... The sinners, who are judged, and the victims that do the judging... What meaning is there to such a world?"
This, to me, is the largest representation of Harle's counterbalance in the Dragon God's persona. This mirrors her sentiments that we see in "Return of the Downtrodden" almost exactly, and seems to be definitive proof that Harle has indeed merged with the Dragon God.
Kid's response to this is,
- (paraphrased) "Whether there's meaning or not, we just keep living. You have no right to deny that."
Which elicits this harsh reply from the Dragon God.
- "I will cleanse this blue planet of you filthy humans once and for all."
(and after its defeat)
- "Now I shall truly awaken again... This too is destiny..."
To wrap things up, it's worth making this comparative analogy; Kid/Schala is to the Time Devourer, what Harle is to the Dragon God. Harle and the Dragon God are both quasi-entities that are being projected from the original Dragon God (absorbed by the Time-Devourer) from the DBT. The Dragon God's projection bears subtle physical resemblances to Lavos in the same way that Harle bears subtle physical resemblances to Schala/Kid. Each one also exists as a counterbalance to the other, and is a separate entity while also being part of the whole.
Given this relationship, and all the information above, we should be able to definitively say that Harle merged with the Dragon God, and when defeated, she fell back into the DBT with the Time Devourer. Whether or not any aspect of her was reabsorbed by Schala in the TD, is likely to fall into the same questionable area of whether or not Kid and Schala merge at the end of the game.
From: Theory (People)