SquareSoft: Generations Chapter 10
One Soul, One Schala
By Dawn Wilkins
Through constant pained disgrace, the young boy learns their rules...And on, hes known...A vow onto his own...That never from this day, his will theyll take away...What I felt, what Ive known...Never shine through what Ive shown... (The Unforgiven; Metallica; The Black Album)
Enough of it to blind a man in a blink of an eyeas the pun goes. It reeled and coiled and shattered. As it finally dimmed, gray became predominant, eclipsing the edges of his vision. Eventually that, too, gave way to a more defined image. Lines of dimension, color, texture, fused and fragmented to illustrate a final product. His environment.
Magus had awakened.
He sat up, head swimming, and attempted to decipher his surroundings. It was a furnished chamber, complete with slanted table, silver chairs, various adorned chests, and, drawers. A quadrant of pastel-blue walls encompassed with silver molding applied to form panoramic panels. Even his bed was transcendent with navy bedspreads and oak bedposts. With all the amenities and lavishness afoot this could not be a prison cell.
But it was. A prison cell. His prison cell.
His wrath, an almost tangible entity, shrouded his eyes scarlet. As he braced to unleash his anger a sudden affliction clove into his fury and rendered him immobile. The pain drew a hiss of indrawn breath. Magus hunched forward, burying his face in his hands. Swift was the attack and he recognized it well. More profoundly than his own face.
Prophecy! Oh, no. Not again.
His vision no longer exhibited the fancy room. Now before him rose up the opulent Palace of Zeal. Monstrous columns extended heavenward, crowned in gold leaving, and marble shimmered with black-and-blue tiles. An argent statue flashed here, an expansive plant there. But even that did not remain. Just as he was feeling assuaged by some sort of familiarity an even more prodigious familiarity he witnessed.
Tears. Blood. Death. Now he staggered in a reservoir of life fluid, laminated him a vermilion, leaving no fold uncolored. The sky stretched out into the vastness of infinity, expanded into a nocturnal image of utter black. He spun left, blood; he swerved right, blood; altering his course north, south, east, west--blood and darkness.
NO!! But his scream just reverberated to mock him.
SILENCE. The unbroken SILENCE.
Even after Magus emerged from the hellish prophecy it was still some time before he unraveled to face his environment. No matter how much he abhorred humanity the sorcerer would never barter his position in this universe to live that insane existence. But then again, wasnt he living that way now? Fleeing any shred of affection, desperately concealing his every emotion behind a barrier of rage?
His love bled and his hate materialized out of the blackest expanses of his heart. Its all he had left...that and the sacred vow to himself. Exterminate the source of his sad story and never surrender.
Indeed, what had he left?
Folding the reflections and sensations as one might gather cloth the sorcerer straightened in his bed. So, he was a prisoner after all his vain efforts to evade capture, was he? Magus almost smiled, arctic enmity, as his soul vociferated for blood, tears, and, death.
Time for some major massacre.
A fling of his hand, the linen departed and he was on his feet. Gazing down at his hands he realized that his captors had removed his gloves, blood from another age and nameless scars reflected against the dreary dawn. Anger, swift as the black wind, gnawed at his stomach. In fact, he was quite nude save for the pendant Schala had bequeathed him as a child. Whatever the purpose for the disrobing didnt matter. Add another reason for annihilating his adversaries. Detecting the location of his apparel, cleaned and tediously folded, he redressed. They had disarmed him, probably the reason hed been stripped to ensure he concealed no weapon. Again, an item. The dark wizard gloved his palms in a silent manner, benefiting a warrior preparing for warfare.
Major, major massacring. And it would start with his would-be dungeon.
Magus flung his arms forward, chanting spidery words. Azurea...Lumina...Litarie!" He went into a series of motions that the eye could not absorb before gliding forward. A single gold cord encircled him and his eyes sheened to amber. Then the brutal shaft lanced out and battered his imprisoning cell.
One demolished door, two murdered guards, and, numerous dead nightstalkers later the enraged wizard found himself at the head of a treacherous staircase. Actually, treacherous underestimated the decrepit steps, rusted railing, and, abyssal wall. Screeches of hysteria rent the stillness and Magus reeled to face them.
A trio of vaporous fiends, nightstalkers, approached from behind. Deciding to make short work of them, the sorcerer arched one hand and lifted the other. Knowing, through mystic means, that these were no vapid adversaries, Magus channeled to his more prominent powers but as he did so a foreign energy severed his connection. He swore. He swore some more. And then he exceeded the inventory of swearwords and just launched into his curses all over again.
No magic, hmm? Thats one more reason to fry my host. Seeing Magus hesitation the three, expressions undoubtably of malicious joy, sped up. No magic. No weapons. No allies. Back to basics, Magus. Number one. When the first reached him, the dark wizard grabbed a fistful of ebony existence, dragged down, while driving his knee up. It howled, lurched, and lay still. The second arrived, revolving in a mesmerizing dance. Number two. Concentrating his entire prowess, he aligned his fingers flat. A hateful hiss accompanied a disregarded feint. Once it made the miscalculation to genuinely charge, Magus rammed his steel-emulating fingers into its throat rendering the foe prone. It was a costly maneuver, however, because number three assaulted with a trademark three-prong dagger.
The scream of agony and frenzy was unavoidable. No man can deny the cry of his soul; the vicinity where savagery is rejected. As he struggled with his challenger the sorcerer caught sight of his wound. More blood than should be able to escape absconded beneath his sternum. That was the least of his worries. Number three aimed the gruesome blade at his heart. Inches from the wizards face, Magus managed to grasp the wrist (whatever that was) and slow his own execution. Sweat streaked a thousand paths down his face. Blood, that his labored heart pulsated out of his person, made the stone flooring slick. Each breath roused his death closer...
I WILL NOT YIELD! His voice, laced with acrimony of a life that none should bear, seemed alien to him. But it had the desirable effect of daunting his opponent. Ever the opportunist (and who wouldnt be with their life at stake?) Magus propelled back the arm and rose. His red-violet eyes gleamed murderously. If the nightstalker had sentient intelligence it recognized its death reflected in those eyes. And would have fled at first serendipity.
There was no such chance.
Magus exploded over the enemy with terrible efficiency. He tore into the guts devoid of weapons, but with the same result. A torn limb flew there; a devastated organ here. Blood, guts, sweat, tears, and, death hailed the victorious wizard. Once the excitement of battle abated pain resurfaced. Observing his wound, Magus focused to revoke the self-analysis tests that Ozzie had brutally grilled him.
Oh, yeah. I dont remember it now! Terror stabbed his gut when he did remember. Thats a mortal wound! If I dont do something, fast, Im dead. Little good it would do the battle-superior wizard if he bled to death near his slain enemies! Warrior drills from Slash reminded Magus that by stalling his breathing it would decelerate his heart rate, and, thus, offer him more time to formulate a permanent solution.
BEAT! BEAT! BEAT!
Now he had time, if not much. As he desperately attempted to create some solution an eccentric thing happened. The medallion commenced a pulse. Slowly, olive light seeped into animation, weaved like thread, and enveloped his ribs. Becoming one with the sorcerers injury it solidified. Tatters of flesh twined, blood coagulated. After a moment the lone evidence that he had been wounded was his shredded garb. Magus lips tinted ashen. Schala? Was that you? Before he could strive to determine the origin of his savior a voice, frigid as death, brought him short...
Halt or die.
Down several steps stood a plainly robed man. He was clothed from head to toe with the unadorned black cloth. Physically, everything about his attire and his corporal self declared an average wizard. But beyond the aspects of the material level existed a more meacning individual. The mystic sorcerer couldnt even see his eyes.
His own eyes scintillating, Magus whispered, Who are you to threaten me!? No answer came as he approached. The dark wizard reiterated his inquiry. No response. A radical sound was heard. It ribonated in his soul as surely as only prophecy. It was prophecy.
The black wind?
The anonymous wizard ascended the stairs. Once he reached the head, parallel to Magus, he rotated forty-five degrees. As if the black winds were lost souls of another realm the deadly breeze whimpered. He curled a finger in a beckoning gesture. Magus didnt move. Interpreting that his charge simply did not comprehend he hissed:
Come or die.
Tossing his bloodish cape aside, the mystic wizard exhibited his middle finger. I dont think theres room for misinterpreting, now is there, you speechless smut!?
At the speed of light Magus sailed at the opposing wall. He crashed with such ferocity that the debilitated wall splintered and he fell through. Magma, thicker than ones own blood, was his initial image. The next, being face to face (could black nothingness be considered a face?) with the enigmatic robed man. The ebony-cloaked man had weaved a floatation spell which kept the former prince aloft. Magus realized that he had been thrown by him, but, also saved by him. It was a perplexing situation.
One more reason. This is becoming another long day. Deciding to humor this mysterious man Magus nodded. Satisfied, the robed individual conveyed Magus down a corridor, up a flight of stairs, twisting a few bends, past numerous chambers, and lobbies, and ascended more stairs. Tracing the configuration in his mind, should he need to exit posthaste, he nearly collided with the maverick figure as he halted before a door.
He lifted an eyebrow.
Enter. So he did. What did he expect to find?
Anything but this.
Ah, Magus. I hope youve found your stay well, though I bet those feeble-minded nightstalkers stuffed you in a pigsty. If so Ill...discipline...the offending individuals. Nildemar! Get him a seat!
Where the voice came from Magus couldnt tell. The black-cloaked man, presumably Nildemar, strolled into the room and melted in the darkness that seemed native to him. A creak of wood succeeded Nildemars movements. The dark wizard smelt incense, dissolved wax, and, perspiration. Then the enigmatic voice asked, infused with amusement and curiosity:
How do you like this room? Its quite lovely, isnt it?
Im sure it is. Now if I could see anything in this damn darkness...
A blaze of illumination as never before savaged Magus delicate eyes. Fearing blindness, he shielded his pupils with his arms. Once the offensive light dulled he lowered them. Candles and candelabras glittered in myriad regions of the nocturnal chamber. A massive candelabra hovered from the ceiling shedding the most incandescence. Strings of flares lit another path along the bookcase, as well as a single candle that blazed from the table before him.
And yet the radiance only acted to rouse the shadows of the room further. Invited them home.
Invited him home.
Nildemar, a being that was native to the penumbrae, slid a cushioned chair out for the sorcerer. Magus, his attention riveted elsewhere, did not notice. He drank in the features of the abode, from the left, a horrific obsidian altar, to its right, an awe-inspiring full length mirror. With a forceful shove Nildemar seized the wizards shoulder and constrained Magus to sit. Magus stood up, aggravated.
Magus was seated before he could think. Turning his head he saw a towering figure across from him rise. Resting two cultivated hands on the table before the mystic sorcerer the source of the dominating voice smiled. A gruesome smile with all the amusement and none of the warm-heartiness.
Greetings, Magus. My name is Master Tarus. Im glad you awoke. I was afraid my servant, he gestured his eyes to Nildemar, might have put you out for good. So pleased you returned to the land of the living. And there are many good reasons to be alive. With a wave of his arm he highlighted the rooms more entertaining features.
Painted, exotic, and very, very naked, women occupied a godly area of the chamber. Blonds, brunettes, redheads, and, black-haired females, each ravishing and provocative, not a single one of them had even a shred of fabric to cloth them. Colored lines imitated raiments in a sexily arousing manner. After receiving an eyeful Magus gaze reverted to his host in distaste.
Ah, Magus, Tarus roared in perverted humor. You put too much emphasis on quality instead of quantity. Why, I bet
Magus stood, jaw twisted in anger. Im not interested in your pathetic attempts to amuse me. If you are the one who ordered me abducted I suggest you pray to your maker because you are about to meet him.
Normally any sane man with limited might would have submitted to the sight of Magus but Tarus did not. He glared back at his abductee which meant he was either not sane or had more than limited power. The wizards mind swirled in vexation. Oh, blessed reaper. Ive got a nut or a super-charged foe. Beautiful, just beautiful.
Stepping between the two deadly forces Nildemar announced, I have...duties...that need my attention. May I depart, Master? Tarus dismissed his servant and the unadorned individual vanished. Magic had eaten him up. A swift rotation of his azure eyes and Master strode over to stare at his picturesque mirror. He cast his head in the sorcerers direction and grinned.
Tarus was not a normal man. Nor was he sane or maybe even a man for that matter. He was power incarnate. Solid black strands rippled down a muscular back making his eyes seem that much more vicious. Only slight streams of gray revealed his age. Clothed in garments like the cultist who mugged a prince he exhibited a sensation Magus was quite acquainted with. Unadulterated hate.
A finger indicated Magus chair. Return to your seat. I have much to discuss with you. And once you listen Im sure youll agree it was worth the kidnaping. Tarus howled in humor. He was not laughing a moment later when Magus, deciding he had enough, raised his right index finger and whispered, Lightning. The beam arched and rebounded. It was not headed for Tarus.
Pain erupted from somewhere inside Magus. It absorbed every nerve, leaving no section untouched. He clutched his chest and fell to his knees, gasping in agony. Just as he believed he would pass out from the pain it diminished and he was left panting from the torture. The glares he aimed at Tarus could have cut stone. His voice shook with thinly-concealed rage. What in the void was that!?!
A frown, then a smile seized his hosts face. Oh, I had almost forgotten about that. I had a curse keyed to your pendant. Use any magic against me or against my will and you get fried by the same sorcery. Plenty unfortunate for a wizard with only attack spells, huh?
The color fled Magus cheeks. It was as if he had died of his wound and just hadnt acknowledged it as of yet. His eyes trailed down to the vibrating medallion, salvation and damnation all in one. Holy shit!! This is going to be more than a long day. Its going to be a long life! When Tarus bade he sit down the sorcerer didnt contest it. A foreign emotion had him cold. Fear.
Woman! he hollered, as he seated himself. Get me some wine and two goblets. And make it snappy, bitch! Like Magus the woman he demanded this of obeyed. Soon they had twin jewel-encrusted goblets brimming with a crimson liquid. Wine? Or is this blood? he wondered. Seeing Tarus down his in a gulp the mystic wizard sipped gingerly. It tasted a bittersweet that suffused his mouth with a coppery tang. Now, Tarus murmured as jaw curved, I suppose I should tell you why youre here. Im sure you are dying to know...well, maybe not dying. Magus grit his teeth and said nothing. Ill be blunt. I have something you want. Fortunately for you, you also have something I want. I hope we can come to an understanding that would be beneficial to both sides.
The sorcerer had to wait until a woman refilled Tarus cup. The Master chugged it in a brief moment and continued, admitting, Im not young. Ive fought in many wars against the Avida City and other provinces. My time is almost up. And yet with all these lovely ladies I cant leave this world. Leaning forward he captured Magus gaze. And now I dont have to.
Arrogance offering him confidence Magus laughed. Thats just absurd. The Enlightened tried to do that. Theyre dead. Everyone who lives, dies. Its the law of nature. Nothing can live forever. Not even you.
Or you. What if I said theres a way?
But what if there was?
Tarus rose, paced over to the gleaming altar. He slide one finger over the obsidian. Ah, but I have the solution. Now the finger swung to face another direction. Magus. You. A breeze fluttered in the room. The wind captured both sorcerers manes and flung them erratically. It reeked of ill omens.
The black wind.
You are going to help me revive Nirvana, he declared placidly as if about the weather. Magus started, horrifically astonished. Revive Nirvana? Ben said that beast nearly killed our worlds, if one believes his tales. I guess I have my answer about this guy. Maniac. Raising a finger, Magus gave Tarus the same answer Nildemar had received. Unfortunately, Magus also suffered an almost identical response.
The former prince was right. He was not quite sane. Not sane at all.
Steel flashed. A red haze descended in Tarus eyes. Time stunted.
Slow was his own dagger as it came about at Magus.
Slower it was as the death in a word came closer.
Slowest it was when the weapon hit home.
Blood flared in a crimson display. Magus cried out. More pain assaulted him. Tarus grinned maliciously. Raising his hands to his face the mystic wizard staggered. Gasping, shuddering, and, agonizing he slumped in his chair.
But there was something to be said about still being alive. It was not a mortal wound. The blade had bit into his shoulder, inches from his heart, and the initial stream of blood had been frightening but not life-threatening. Master carefully walked to him and muttered, Not fatal. Good. Ill have one of my nightstalkers tend to you later. However, Ill have no more disobedience from you, you got it?
What could the mystic sorcerer do? He was use to being in control, being the dominant one. His will was others will. Now he discovered someone who was equivalently authoritative. All he could do was stare up at the malevolent face and nod his head submissively. You are going to regret this, Tarus. If you regret anything in your life youre going to sorely wish you had never crossed me.
Tarus straightened and yelled, Bring in the other prisoner!! Now!!
Through the murk of pain Magus witnessed innumerable nightstalkers darting this way and that. They surged over one another in their wild efforts to respond to Tarus command. Prisoner? What prisoner?
If Magus had ever come close to crossing the bridge between life and death now was the day. As the other hostage was dragged in his heart constricted painfully and he feared he was having cardiac arrest. It was a she, also scantily-clad. A shredded red ribbon hung from mangled tassels of lavender hair. Her robe, of royal purple, no longer qualified for adequate clothing as it sagged in chunks and rags.
Shed been tortured. Ribbons of skin exposed brutal wounds. One eye was swollen shut. Its complementary ear had a lobe missing. Her legs were twigs and her ribs punctured a gaunt belly. And the task appeared only to be in the rudimentary stages.
Schala! Schala! Schala!
The tormented woman turned her head as if it weighed more than she could bear. Her gentle eyes were dull a moment. Then they shone with recognition. In that mere glance a world of emotions assaulted the mystic sorcerer.
JANUS! she screamed like a drowning swimmer. And he was her salvation.
In a instant, Magus embraced her. His vision watered. He would not release his grasp. Her could feel her trembling as she buried her pulverized face in his chest. They both sank to the flooring, twined in their bittersweet reunion. It was Schala alright. Of that he could not be more convinced.
Janus, she breathed. Ive missed you terribly.
What should he say to her? How many times had he dreamed of this moment, how many speeches had he prepared? Words abandoned him. He didnt trust to speak with his voice. He didnt have any assurance that he even had one anymore. So he just held her for what seemed like eternity.
Tarus satanic voice rent the beautiful scene.
Ah, how cute. Brother and sister together again. Brings a tear to my eye.
Glaring resentfully at the Master, Magus lowered his long-lost sister lightly. He himself came to his eclipsing height and whispered, each word vibrating, How DARE you hurt her, you BASTARD!?!
The menacing blue eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Then he threw back his head, laughing hysterically. Hurt her? You think that is hurting? His laughter died down, and his eyes gleamed icily, Oh, but I could hurt her...and then youd die just from having to see it...but I could also possibly spare herfor a price.
Now comes the big good v.s. evil battle within me.
Glancing down at Schala, eyes mirrored in sorrow and joy, he knew what would be his answer. He had known the moment he had been so cruelly ripped away from her.