The Crimson Pendant Chapter 1

Hole in My Soul

By Crowdia

Janus leaned against his bedpost, arms folded, head lowered, and eyes closed in deep thought. He sat there silently, awaiting a call from his commander, thinking of things far beyond the castle walls. “It’s been eleven years, Lavos,” He thought to himself, opening his scarlet eyes to the floor, “Eleven years ago today, remember? You stuck me in this miserable hellhole.” He gripped his arms tightly, trying hard not to let his pain and frustration show, “You took everything away from me eleven years ago. And still, after all this time, I have not been able to get my revenge.”

An echo silenced the boy’s thoughts and turned his mind to the solitary sound of boots against the corridor’s stone floor. Janus again shut his eyes as a bald-headed, blue mystic slowly opened his bedroom door.

“How rude of you, Slash,” Janus bemused with an awry smirk, “Didn’t your mother ever teach you to knock before entering someone’s courters?”

“Ha!” The mystic laughed dryly, “Like you would have ever answered!”

The pale boy didn’t answer. He simply opened his eyes and glared at the General in front of him.

“You have been summoned by Ozzie, to discuss the strategy for tomorrow’s plan of action.” The purple lips of the mystic formed a smile, “Tomorrow will be a grand day.” He then took his leave, the door still open behind him.

Janus sighed and lifted his body from the post, “Tomorrow,” he mumbled aloud, “Tomorrow will be like any other day. More death, more hate. The only difference is it will be called a war,” he wrapped his cloak around himself, “and will be given the logic thereof.” With that he vanished into the shadows, teleporting to his commander’s location.

Ozzie was relaxing in his private wing of the castle. There, mystic females surrounded him, eagerly trying to win the high official’s affections. Janus sneered at the disgusting display, but obediently bowed and held his tongue.

“You called for me Ozzie?” The boy rose to his feet.

“Yes,” Ozzie’s shrilly voice replied. He shooed away his woman to their chamber and rose to his feet (which made him look incredibly small next to the large Janus). “I wanted to go over our plans for tomorrows attack.” The fat mystic then floated over to a table. Placed on it was a map with small wooden figurines plotted atop.

Janus followed his Commander obediently to the table. “Commander,” he sighed gruffly, “We have already been through this at least seven times. I know the plans by heart. Wouldn’t it be best if we began preparation instead of planning?’

Ozzie gave a scolding look up at the boy, “What are you talking about? You’ve never even been to war. This is your test to see if you’re qualified to lead this country into glory!” He turned back to the map, “I want you to know this plan like the back of your…glove. So that you can concentrate more on finding a way to unleash that hidden power of yours.”

“But Commander, I have no hidden talent.” He folded his arms and shook his head assuredly, “I’ve been training hard all these years and still I cannot come by the power that I released on your minions the day you found me.”

Ozzie’s face began to flush an odd color, “That’s ridiculous!” He screeched in a controlled anger. “One does not just ‘come across’ that kind of power and then lose it just like that!” He snapped his fingers and his face resumed its normal color. “I know you have the power inside you somewhere boy,” the commander pointed to Janus’s chest with a vindictive smile, “And whether you’re just hiding it from me or you can’t tap into it will be revealed tomorrow. You are already a very strong soldier, both physically and magically. But with the control of that awesome power you displayed years ago, you will be as invincible as a god.”

Janus’s stomach turned. Those words, ‘invincible as a god,’ were the same ones his mother had used before she destroyed the kingdom of Zeal.

“You may leave now,” Ozzie remarked, waving his hand toward the door, “Rest and get prepared for tomorrow, I want you in tip-top shape for your first assault.”

Janus smiled at his Commander, bowed, then took his leave. He was beginning to feel uneasy about this battle. Perhaps it was just paranoia and he needed some rest.

“Janus,” The sweet familiar voice awoke him from his sleep. “Janus, are you awake?” Janus opened his eyes to see Schala’s glowing face smiling above him.

His heart began beating rapidly. “Schala,” He managed to choke out as he sat up in his bed. He was back in Zeal, in his own bedroom, with Schala sitting there at his bedside.

“Good morning sleepy head!” His sister chimed, “You’ve been asleep for a long time. Me and mother were beginning to worry.”

“Mother? Mother is worried?” Janus questioned curiously.

Schala laughed at her little brother’s innocents, “Of course she’s worried silly! Mother and I love you. You know that!” The girl tousled her brother’s hair playfully.

“This must be a dream,” Janus murmured, smiling up at his long lost sister.

“What are you talking about silly?” Schala giggled, “This isn’t a dream. Now get up and get dressed! Alfador is waiting outside for you and mother wants us to have lunch with her today. Just the family.” With that, Schala left the room.

Janus’s heart became sore with happiness. He was home; it was all over, all of it. Quickly, he hopped out of bed and looked at himself in the mirror. He was five years old again, innocent and unchanged. Even more contented, he dressed in his favorite outfit, and rushed to the door. There he found Alfador, meowing sorrowfully until his eyes met those of his master’s. “Alfador,” Janus whispered happily, “I missed you old friend.” He leaned down and scratched the purring kitten behind the ears, then left for the throne room and his mother.

Inside his mother’s throne room sat a large banquet table. His mother was seated at the head of the table and beamed brightly as the boy entered. “Good morning Janus! My what a late sleeper you were today. Are you sick?”

“No mother,” Janus remarked, “I was just a little tired from yesterday, that’s all.”

“Mother!” Schala cried, bursting into the room excitedly, “Mother, they fixed my pendant!” She began waving the necklace up in the air happily.

“That’s nice dear.” The Queen encouraged, “But which one did they fix?”

Schala gleamed at her mother, “The only one that was broken.” She extended her hand to reveal a small heart-shaped charm.

“Well, I’m glad it’s alright,” The Queen remarked with a smile.

Janus stared down at the necklace. Set in the gold of the pendant was a portion of polished dreamstone with a carving of her father’s crest inlaid in gold on it. “I remember that pendant.” He thought to himself, “It was one of the three pendants Schala almost always had around her neck.” Then something occurred to him, “But she had lost that pendant two years before I was…” He stopped and looked down at his own neck. The silver pendant that Schala had given him before Lavos had come was still hanging around his neck. Intrigued, he glanced up at Schala’s neck to see the exact same pendant. “Schala,” The boy inquired, “Why do you and I have the same necklace?”

Schala turned her attention to him with a smile. She opened her mouth to reply when a loud shriek came from the direction of their mother.

Janus turned to see his mother being swallowed by a monstrous beast. “Mother!” Was all he could cry as the beast shrilled again. The cry was so familiar to him. Like he had heard it before. Next it went for his beloved sister. With one snatch, the creature had consumed her and was staring down at the quaking boy. Again, it shrilled at him, almost like it was laughing at his misfortune, and at that moment, it occurred to him where he had heard that cry before. “You took them from me!” He screamed at the towering beast. “I hate you!” The giant monster screamed one last time, then disappeared, leaving Janus alone with the darkness closing in around him. “I hate you!” He screamed one last time before his body began falling into the void of nothingness below him.

Janus jumped to an upright position, his heart racing rapidly, his body dripping with sweat. Hesitantly, he scanned the dimly lit room and his heart sank. It wasn’t Zeal, it was the dank castle he had fallen asleep in that night; he had only been dreaming.

“Lavos,” He whispered into the cold air. “Mother…Schala, the only people who cared,” He rested his head on his sweaty palms, “Why them?” He swallowed hard and it felt as if a void had formed in his chest, like his soul had left him. The emptiness began to swell inside him as he sat there, consuming him. “I have no one,” His voice was weak and trembling, “I am truly alone.”

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