I, Magus: Memoirs of a Prophet Chapter 2
The True Prophet
By Dawn Wilkins
...And into the darkness I am sinking, beneath the torrent of mortal manipulation. Perpetually, I am a pawnthis time to a man who heralds the godhood of shredding asunder all I embrace dearly. And so, I play this game, as a pawn, to the acrimony of my soul. Far more bitter, however, is that if I am a puppet how much more of an instrument is Schala? Ah, but we are mere fools who dabble in deception in our brief blaze of life...
Descent down the more-than-unfriendly steps gave Magus pause. Nocturnal navy and ebony muted the natural colors of his environment to a dull shade of obscurity. Rotten beams complained in scraping groans that masterminded his heart to ripple. They sagged, swayed, and, even snapped beneath his wary feet. And yet, they were just stairs, more infirm than most, yes, but certainly that should not disturb him. What, then, had him cold in fear?
Jarl, Magus. You are at the indulgence of this lech. One wrong move, one wrong step, one wrong blink, and, he probably wouldn't hesitate to wreck everything you have labored for. Magus gnashed his teeth, the oddly-reassuring glint of his pendant beating...small comfort, but a ravenous man didn't balk at bread crumbs...Why is Jarl dangling this royal heritage of mine above my head? What could he possibly want? What point is he seeking to prove?
Past the stairs the former prince's eyes adjusted to the murky light, a native exercise, and laid his gloved hands on a stone door. Vibrations, of voices, permeated the many cavities.
"Jarl, what are you writing? You are always writing in that. Won't you show me?"
A negative grunt, then a whisper, "Later, Alura. Our friend shall be here soon."
Another time to fry, I see. They are waiting for me. Waiting for a wrong move. A sly smile glittered in his fire-and-lilac pupils. I guess I'll just have to avoid making any wrong moves, now won't I?
The sorcerer yanked the knob. It refused to budge. A second attempt emerged as fruitful. He set a quartet of knuckles to the rock panel and knocked. The door creaked open to permit a sliver of lamplight through. A petite hand snatched his and dragged Magus in. Just as swiftly, the door was shut.
A cascade of honey, framing a lovely oval face, addressed him. Magus recognized her as the female companion of Jarl. She smiled coyly as she lifted her hands to his temples. Before the sorcerer could protest, she removed his hood. His own striking hair fell in disarray. She giggled; he flushed. "My name's Alura," she breathed huskily. Now her hand lowered to his waist and she seized his while at the same moment his injury throbbed.
Pain from pleasure...pleasure from pain.
The pair glanced in the sound's direction.
"Ahem. I am pleased you've meet my assistant. Time is of the essence as the dawn approaches. We should not delay destinynow should we?" The words, impeccable as dreamstone, were no little annoyance to Magus. Were I as half as flawless maybe I wouldn't be in this very predicament.
If anything could be claimed about the chamber it would be that it was definitely not the expected. Normally, every room below the library were web-fraught and not of good repair. As for this room the norm was not. Most noticeable, perhaps, were the abundant bookcases. A wide assortment of books crammed the many shelves...encyclopedias, dictionaries, novels, tomes, and, the like. Big ones, small ones, thick and thin, they were all here, in colors of crimson, azure, black, gold, chestnut, and, green. A single lamp, flaring from a plain wood table, shed light on the room's undoubtably most captivating item.
The item in question was a painting. Magus estimated it to be ancient and valuable. Surrounded by a gold frame stood, from waist up, a man. Satiny brown hair, streaked with silver wisps, reached his shoulders matching his vast moustache. His eyes, sapphire like the waterfall, radiated with inner wisdom, suffering, and, foresight. A name had been engraved on the goldZephyrain.
Alura led him with a hand and soon the three were scrutinizing a map. A map of Zeal. The four sky islands had been detailed to precision and marked appropriately. The sting of returning home was no less fierce but at least Magus could endure it now.
"Ah, the magical Kingdom of Zeala world of profound wonders. This is where we are," he gestured at the Valor Library. A silken dagger, his voice, plunged to a smooth murmur, "And this, as a prophet's prediction, is its fate." Magus was about to demand the reason he was here when Jarl grabbed the design.
Once a map, the paper now became a shower of ivory tatters as Jarl tore it. Like a snow globe it inundated the black-robed sorcerer swirling in rhythm. However, unlike a snow globe, not a scrape marred his attire or his person. Magus' eyes narrowed. Jarl's eyes gleamed.
"And the point to that was..." Magus purposely trailed off in anticipation of an answer.
The sorcerer replied, "Was to symbolize the end of Zeal and the beginning of my kingdom."
The former prince's shoulders convulsed in laughter. "Your kingdom? Ha!"
Alura observed the exchange like a spectator at a tournament.
"Ah, but I will have a empire. Far greater than this one. Far more perfect." Jarl's lips pressed in a straight line. "And what of you, prince? Want your kingdom back?"
Magus fell silent. My kingdom? It wasn't even my home! Once I save it from itself and Lavos I'll let Schala rule. She would be a good leader. Much better than those power hunger fools. Then she and I can be reunited. To the void with anything else.
Fixing a cool gaze at Jarl he answered, willing an indifferent tone, "My intentions are none of your business." Tossing his hair aside he spun away from the sorcerer and strode to the far side of the room. He halted at one of the many bookcases. Immediately, Alura was at his side. Jarl countered:
"Really? I could quote your intentions like a basic magic theory." Magus retorted with a snort. Jarl continued, "On quote, The prince of Zeal, distraught that his dominion has fallen from grace, shalt design a scheme to deliver his lost people to righteousness. Masquerading as an oracle, he'll attempt to exterminate the beast that shalt be known as Lavos, and fail"
The color drained from Magus' face as he cried out, "NO!!" A brief step and he grabbed Jarl's arm and jostled him hard. "No, you lie! You can't know the future. You CAN'T!" Alura yelled at him to stop. It wasn't until the ebony sorcerer wrenched from Magus' grasp that the situation cooled. The former prince crimsoned furiously.
So easily he angers me. Damn, why can't I control this anger?!
Jarl lifted a blue-bound tome, speaking with infuriating superiority. "I know. I know. It's hard to believe that a man has so accurately predicted your plight. Yet, such a prophet did exist. He knew much and he wrote it all," he patted the volume, "here."
So Jarl deposited the book on the table and, licking a finger, flipped through the pages. It was a fairly sizable primer but he leafed it expertly and in short order the page was before him. "About....here!" Magus shouldered the consummate necromancer aside and read.
The prince of Zeal, distraught that his dominion has fallen from grace, shalt design a scheme to deliver his lost people to righteousness. Masquerading as an oracle, he'll attempt to exterminate the beast that shalt be known as Lavos, and fail, his world shattered and irreclaimable...
Seizing the book Magus flung it with all his might at the portrait of Zephyrain. It rattled the painting but the metal was too durable and the tome collapsed to the floor, opened to some page, upside down. Calm now, Magus. Remember your little haven. He focused the force of his rage, refined yet deadly, at Jarl. "Lies! Whoever wrote this shit isn't playing with a full deck. I refuse to believe it."
Again came Jarl's perfect, aggravating smile. After lifting up the book, dusting it off, he spoke, as if to a child, "My dear Janusha, I mean Magus," the error' provoked a black look from the mystic sorcerer, "but prophecy does exist. Just as normal mortals remember the past their superiors read the future. Surely, you've heard of the eminent soothsayer, Zephyrain?" He gave the book to Alura to replace on the table, which she did, reverently.
The painting. The prophet. THE ZEPHYRAIN.
In the farthest reaches of history there lived a man, a prophet. Zephyrain the prophet. And this man predicated much of what became accurate history itself. He formulated innumerable theories; among his most famous were those of the magic spectrum, of time line fragmentation, and, of the nature of prophecy. Even the majority of the illiterate knew of his most basic concepts. The book Magus had just thrown was the man's own edition of auguries.
Bless the reaper! Fate always conspires against me. Schala...Zeal...everything...shattered... irreclaimable! If it weren't for the hidden rendezvous of Magus' mind he suspected tears would be streaming his face. Frustration, sorrow, bitterness, the entire black rainbow of negativity engulfed him. It would have been physically visible if not for his refuge. But there was a barrier and so his misery went unexpressed.
Muttering, Magus licked his dry lips, "He could be wrong."
"He isn't ever wrong."
"No one is infallible."
Standing at an angle so that he faced both Magus and the prescient prophet, Jarl waved a hand at the portrait. "Him? Him? The man who created modern mysticism and defined the spectrum and even time periods itself? Him?"
"He's dead, isn't he?" Magus grinned indulgentlypleased it was him for once. "His infinite knowledge' must have failed him on that one!"
Without answering Jarl opened the book again and paged it through. A satisfied grunt and he began reading. "On quote At age sixteen, the prodigious Janus, an outcast in every sense of the word, will make a vow unto himself. Do what they will to me I won't kill anyone. I won't became the monster they want of me, the monster inside of me!' Janus' sacred word was crushed when an assassin, Ozzie's agent, was sent to kill his spirit against murder. Or kill him. As the would-be slayer attacked Janus"
"Enough! I've heard enough! So, I'm damn well screwed againwhy would you care!?"
Again, the smile. "Because I can help you."
"Help? How?" Magus kept his voice neutral. And yet he knew that every crevice of his soul cried for some sort of salvation from the fate that always tripped him.
It was Alura who answered him now, bubbling over with zeal. "Join us! Be a part of our great nation! You are especially talented, Janah, Magus."
"Yes. We can do nothing to aid this doomed land. But we can create a new one." The black-robed necromancer echoed her sentiment, albeit with less effervescence. His eyes penetrated for the kill. "And Schala shall be saved."
The only indication that their offers had affected him was his eyes sealing. The room was starting to swim and became unbearably sweltering. Acknowledge Lavos' victory, allow my devil-tainted mother to destroy the lives of so many, watch a whole world explode into a mass of rubble to rise as a shadow of its former glory? How can I do that? How do I know they won't just build another tyrannical Zeal? How could I live with myself? To stare into my face in the mirror, every day, knowing I could have done somethinganything differently?!
But think, Magus. If there's nothing to do for this land of you-can't-do-shit-to-help then why refuse their offer? Shattered...Irreclaimable...what choice do you have?
Opening his eyes he noticed the two gazing at him in anticipation. He sighed. "I need time. To think..." The wizard wanted to add more but words failed him. What am I going to do...tell them I'm doubting even myself?
"Fair enough. Alura show our friend out." With the business dismissed Jarl immediately paged through the primer. Not a mar of thought crinkled his face, so smooth with flawlessness. Magus would have died to be that immaculate but, as usual, fate was not so kind. Emotion forever held him prisoner.
Startled was the mystic sorcerer as Alura snatched his hand. The other hand flung open the door and soon they were on their way. Through the main chambers and corridors they passed as they exited the Valor Library. Magus breathed in the crisp night air with relief. The entire discussion had made the room stifling. Distant stars shimmered in the velvety sky. Not a word was exchanged until they both stepped on the skygate. It was a flat, blue platform that brilliant light shot down and absorbed the person(s) in the teleportation pad. As with them, there were no exceptions. They were deposited on the main continent.
In such close proximity Magus felt uncomfortable. He had always been ill at ease around people; he was a loner by nature. However, Alura's odd smile and small talk' made the situation additionally disquieting. Needless to say, he was more than pleased to be off the gate. "Well, I'll be leaving now." Magus turned to go but she grabbed his cloak and pulled him back.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Her cheeks drew back in a girlish grin. She replaced the hood on his head. "There. What would you and Jarl do without me?"
Magus flushed. He had forgotten about the hood.
"My appreciation. I'll be going now."
"No, no, no! Let me come with you. At least till you reach your quarters."
The wizard opened his mouth to decline but, from the set line of her jaw, he realized resistence was futile.
So she joined him.
Through leafy paths and gold paved boulevards, through bounteous foliage and phenomenal edifices, she questioned him. So, what's it like being home again? How did you first learn to cast magic? Do you really like prophecy and do you honestly believe you are an oracle? How does it feel to be a prince? Who was your first girlfriend? What was she like? The inquires went on like that, an endless stream of interrogation. He replied as sincerely as he could but he often found them personal.
"Have you ever made love before?"
Magus froze dead as if striking a wall. The seductive wizard didn't live in a vacuum. He did have a few relationships, the art of lovemaking known to him. But all of his lovers had turned sour and cleaving a person in half was more amusing than taking them to bed. "That really isn't any of your business." And why would you want to know, anyway?
She gave him a hurt expression. Words were about to spill from her lips but then Alura's eyes brightened with a thought. Jarl's assistant' shut her eyes dreamily and swayed to rest her head on his chest. Two arms cinched his neck and brought his face closer to hers. Her breath, moist and inviting, warmed his face. Her lips pressed on his.
A moment later the pair parted. Magus didn't say anything. He didn't know what to say. Ambivalence thieved the air from his lungs. Alura was beaming, her lips sultry.
"Tell me, darling, don't you find me attractive? Desirable?"
Magus remained silent.
Smiling, Alura added, "I guess I really must be going." She blew him a kiss and darted along a side path.
Alone, he could finally breath deep. What in the void was she trying to do? Irritating woman.
Thought fled him as a magical word was uttered and a flash of fire ignited the sky. His fire-and-lilac eyes dilated. The blaze was headed for him! Magus wanted to move out of harms way but he limbs seemed paralyzed and ignored his demands for action.
It landed on his thigh. Right on his wound. Pain flared up. And laughter drove him wild with rage.
After Magus successfully extinguished the flame, Dalton spoke, voice laced with humor, "I can see that...ha!...your passion...ha!...with the girl...(snicker)...has you blazing all over! Ha, ha, ha!"
The snickers were almost as infuriating as Jarl's smile. Unfortunately, since Dalton hid behind one of the many trees, Magus couldn't taste vengeance. Then a dreadful thought seized him. What if he heard about my past as I described it to Alura? Damn! He chided himself quickly on his error. What was done could not be undone. Chances were the queen's advisor had not heard the conversation.
"I got you back, prophet, for that nasty stunt you pulled in the throne room." The words were smug. "If I didn't know better I'd say you've been getting ideas off of that brat Janus." A pause. "Don't worry. Queen Zeal will realize who her second-in-command should be. Yeah, real soon. Have a nice day, you jackass."
Another spiteful spurt came at him but Magus dodged, anticipating the move. The shadow belonging to Dalton (or where the sorcerer suspected him to be) disappeared leaving him to his seething agitation. Damn them all to the void! Everyone seems to want to get a piece of Magus. Jarl demands I join him. Dalton wants to get even. Alura...well, I can't even tell what she's after. But none of this must curb my waiting vengeance. Their lust cannot stop my mission...not even Schala...
Oh, dear sister...what ever I am to do? At first I thought it prudent to reveal my identity to you but now my resolve falters. If I allow myself to fall to saving our sibling ship shall I be condemning you to a worse fate?
"Hey, you! Get over here!" The voice, ever bit Magus' own, sliced through his misery-induced trance. He glanced about seeing no one. Blinking, he answered, "Get over where?" The answer: "Are you as blind as the Gurus? Down here!"
At least two feet down stood an indignant Janus. His blue hair, not quite at home with his face, flopped down over his ears. As well, his royal robes seemed too immense for his diminutive form as he scowled self-righteously at Magus. The sorcerer could have roared. Did I really look that goofy? No wonder no one took me seriously! I wouldn't take me seriously appearing such as that!
"Yes, your highness," he replied, only a glitter in his eyes betraying his amusement.
The subdued laughter was not lost on his former self, however. Janus puffed himself up to build his confidence, "Well, Mr. Prophet, the Princess Schala, demands to see you. And you'd better not keep her waiting!"
Another glint of humor. "Of course not. Please attend me to her, your highness."
The two had to avail of a secret teleportation pad to reach the Zeal Palace. Midnight was evident and neither desired a fatiguing climb up the mountainside, no matter how nurtured the path was. The waterfall, pouring a curtain of crystal liquid seemed especially eerie tonight. The accompanying mist furthered his mood. Expelling waters emulated the populace of Zeal as the determined, passionate, and, overwhelming force gushed.
They continued to stroll in silence which suited Magus just fine. He knew that at Janus' age he was unsociable and ill-mannered. Engaging in conversation would likely lead to a confrontation with himself. Gazing at his alter ego, the mystic sorcerer realized the old proverb was truein a real quarrel it only takes one to start.
Finally after having navigated corridors with lush plants and argent statues their destination was met. Schala's door loomed at them. Magus lifted his eyebrows in question and pointed at her chamber. A confirming grunt came from Janus. Sighing, he prepared to enter.
"Wait! Wait! Blessed Zeal. I need to talk to you! Shessh!"
He was starting to realize how annoying he could get.
"Yes, you highness," Magus responded, everything smiling but his eyes.
"I'm just letting you know that I'd seen that lewd look you gave my sister. If you dare touch her you are going to regret it! And don't forget, I'm the prince. Yeah, real important. I can get you in some big time trouble!"
At first Magus was about to burst out laughing. The incredibility of the situation was so ironic (brother desiring sister and how important' Janus was) it just seemed another chapter of twists in his warped life. But then the amusement died. This is who I was. A real brat. And with that attitude it's small wonder I ended up the way I did.
"Hey, mister! Are you even listening to me!? I'm the prince! Listen! Listen! LISTEN!"
Janus' exasperated demands became squeals of sheer terror as his older self grabbed him by the throat. Easily, Magus heaved the prince off the marble flooring in one hand and menaced the other over his head. His eyes gleamed with self loathing. Janus proceeded to struggle. Recognizing his captor as the stronger he cried furiously:
"You let me down this instant! If you don't I'll scream at the top of my lungs that you're kidnaping me! Let me down NOW!"
Magus' retaliation was to squeeze that much harder. Labored breaths came from the prince's lips. The sorcerer shoved his face threateningly at Janus. His eyes, blood-violet, had the favorable affect of hushing Janus. The child's own pupils enlarged as he spoke, "...You...you...look...like...someone...I...know...know..."
No, Janus, he retorted acrimoniously, I don't.
"Now you listen to me, Prince Janus! I'm not lusting after your sister! Understand?!"
All Janus could do was nod.
"And you'd better not get me into even the smallest bit of trouble or else..."
The prince had just enough air to mutter what?'.
Magus thought of an appropriate determent. The memory of a green little man offered him one.
"Or...or else I'll turn you into aa toad!"
As if the sorcerer had polymorhed Janus already the zeal royalty converted to a mild shade of lime.
"...Yes...yes, let me down..." So faint, in dread, was his voice. Magus cringed clandestinely at the recollection of how he had whimpered before as he became submissive to Ozzie in fear of his life. He lowered the squirming prince down, who immediately dusted himself off. He stuck his tongue at Magus when he thought the wizard wasn't looking. But he was.
"Hear me, you brat! If there is but one good thing you do in your life then stay out of harms way when the disaster strikes!!"
Before either could initiate a conflict the door swung open. Beneath an archway of stone an azure-robed beauty stood, her eyes astute and infinitely loving. Violet ribbons of hair swayed as she shook her head in disapproval. Apparently, she had overheard the disagreement'. Right behind her came a blur of purple fur.
Oh, no, not Alfador, again! Magus had not forgotten the earlier incident where the feline had nearly betrayed his identity. And from the look on the cat's face he was about to have an encore.
"Meow, meow, meow!"
All twelve pounds sprang at him. Though Alfador could only leap high enough to reach his knees the cat, nevertheless, continued to yowl, insistent. Attempts to discourage him were in vainignoring, shoving, muttering, even a short kick did little to faze the feline.
Schala smiled genuinely. "He seems to like you. Give him a pet and he'll leave you alone."
He instantly heeded her advice. Soon Alfador was purring in his arms, delighted to be addressed by his long-lost master at last. Magus received a rambunctious purr for the scratch under the ear. Though his inner haven held true the self-proclaimed prophet couldn't help a single lonely sigh, eyes squinted. It was unendurably prolonged since he had even done something as basic as patting his cat. Eventually, Alfador became satisfied and demanded to be released. He was.
On his stubby legs the four-legged personality returned to his other master. Janus was more than grateful to have possession of his pet again. Glaring at Magus, the prince snatched up Alfador. However, the cat, high-spirited, darted around Janus' legs resulting in the prince's frustration. Schala giggled ever so faintly. Magus, seeing that vitality, couldn't restrain a chuckle himself. To be in this moment...of innocence and mere merriment...yes, Magus, you had the world. Key word, had.
What is the world if it is but a dead world?
Nothing, that's what.
Rearranging her bejewelled hem, Schala bent to her knees and looked her brother squarely in the eye. Her younger brother, that is.
"Janus, listen to me"
"I'm always listening to someone," he grumbled, Alfador still scuffling. Then he began mimicking the various inhabitants of Zeal. "Janus...Listen to me...I've got something big to tell ya...Not that they EVER do, mind you..." Schala did not relent. "I'm serious. I want you to return to your room, with Alfador. Don't talk to no one, okay? The prophet," she glanced at Magus out of the corner of her lavender eye, "and I have to discuss something. Okay? Please?"
He's going to give in. I could never resist my sweet sister.
Prophetic might have been the declaration or maybe Magus just knew his youthful self well. Either way, Janus consented. He didn't agree easily. He didn't agree happily. He wasn't about to assent at all first but once Schala promised a gift for his obedience he cooperated. With the rebellious Alfador in one hand and a tongue aimed at his older ego, Janus disappeared, forever giving Magus the evil eye.
After inspecting the hall (and even the next for good measure) to assure herself they were devoid of eavesdroppers, Schala invited him to enter. Magus gingerly stepped in. His sister made one last survey then shut the door and locked it firmly.
She turned around, slowly. Hesitantly. A sigh, a shutting of the eyes, and, another sigh and Schala bade him sit. Whatever she had to impart Magus estimatedfrom the contorted cheeks, the straight set lips, the haunted pupilsit was grim. He attentively refitted his hood then searched for a seat. A chair stood in the corner. It evoked memories for the sorcerer. At first they were fragmented at best but soon the image was vivid.
It was him as Janus, the spoiled brat. Darting this way and that the cagey prince dodged his sibling's arm and leapt onto a golden chair...a golden chair...a golden chair...Magus dragged his thoughts from the reverie. Schala had spoken and he had missed the words.
"My sincerest apologies, Princess. What was that, again?"
The answer was long in coming. Instead, she strolled over to her argent-rimmed window, eyes full of suffering and sorrow. A shadow of misery washed over her, the trapped dove, her wings shattered but her will still very much intact. Certainly, Schala had never appeared this forlorn in his memory! Though Magus witnessed now the disheartening of her as he had not then he still experienced awe. Her undying valor and her prevailing perseverance. This was the stuff his sister was made of.
Horror lightninged down his spine once she recited her request. The shock was so prominent he could have sworn on his soul it was physical. How could she ask that? My beloved sister...pure-hearted and brimming with love...how could she ask THAT? Lips ashen, he breathed, "What did you say?"
A sigh came from her pursed lips. Schala opened her mouth to speak but her voice faltered. Gathering her resolve, she replied, "I know it's a lot to ask but consider how important it is. There isn't a night I haven't lain awake, crying for what must be done. Tonight will just be another episode of tears I suspect. But better that than the lives to be lost...LIVES!"
He had no answer for that.
"Just think about it, okay? And don't tell anyone, whatever you do!" Her eyes narrowed un-Schala-like and she muttered in her pathetic attempt to threaten, "Or I'll deny it all and you'll be exiled for slander. I hope with all my heart you'll read the truth in my words and listen to your own."
"Yes, Princess. I will."
Why don't I just tell her who I am? Tell her that her wild plot is dangerous at best and deadly at worst? That I know the real problem and it wasn't the one she had suggested?
Gazing up into the lavender depths and grinding his fingernails into his palms (unknowingly extracting blood) the sorcerer mumbled, "...I...ah,...have something to tell you...I...I...damn,..."
He dearly wished he had half her conviction, resolve, and, heart.
"Nothing....just thinking out loud." Being of no consequence to her, the Princess of Zeal escorted him to the exit. The lackluster light of predawn dared to peak through her window. He lowered his head to keep his face concealed. Night had elapsed and he hadn't even noticed.
"Not a word..." she warned. He nodded as he passed the threshold. Before he left she asked for his foresight, her eyes corrigible. Magus heisted. What did one tell a doomed loved one when the world was about to be torn asunder? Didn't she deserve to know her fate? "Prepare." That concluded his revelation. The sorcerer was out the doornot giving her a chance to reply.
"Kill our mother?" he murmured. What was this world coming to?
Chrono Trigger Fanfic