SquareSoft: Generations Chapter 3
Allies or Adversaries?
By Dawn Wilkins
"Fed up with my destiny...And this place of no return...Think I'll take another day...and slowly watch it burn...The night made a mess of me...and that beautiful good bye." (Beautiful Good bye; Amanda Marshall; Amanda Marshall)
Magus smiled. Idiot, he thought. Why in the infernal void did this warrior offer a hand to an unknown man? Stupid, very stupid.
"Let me guess," came that warrior's reply, "Beware, the wrath of Magus...whomever he is."
Another smile graced Magus' lips playfully. Well, well, well, maybe he isn't so foolish after all, he thought. Swinging the blade with a swift arc, the mystic reversed the scythe's killing stroke. It cleanly sliced into the mushy ground. Swish.
Still refusing the extended hand Magus drew himself to his full height. His entire, imposing stature.
"May I ask your name, friend?"
The warrior rolled his eyes. "Well, I did just save your life."
Magus' eyebrows rose like curtain. "Really? Hmm. I don't recall that...though I appreciate it just the same."
A tiny gleam flashed in Magus' eyes. "Ah...Master Wizard Magus...Prince of Zeal."
Now the warrior appeared truly puzzled. Magus didn't bother to attempt an explanation. Instead he focused his attention on his most unfortunate predicament.
For nearly as far as the eye could see there was marsh. At the edge of his vision was the mouth of a forest. Probably the ugliest woods he'd ever seen, and he had seen some repulsive forests. They extended not as a normal tree should but bent hellward, grotesque and unshapely. Osseous branches struck out in all directions. A mighty hideous forest, indeed.
"...And my name is Cecil of Baron."
Those words jolted Magus out of his observation as a timid young woman, comely and beautiful, stepped forward.
"She is Terra..."
"Branford." She smiled with a sparkle in her eyes meant solely for Cecil. Magus rolled his eyes. Love. What a distasteful waste of energy. Hate was more productive...in most manners, of course.
Cecil was speaking and Magus decided to listen.
"...so it would seem we have the same problem."
"So it would seem." The mystic sighed.
As Cecil spoke to Terra the wizard felt a droning hum in his head. He squinted in pain, trying to clear his head. But it refused to be released. A voice...
Magus...Magus...Magus...do you hear me?
He remained silent. Throughout his entire life he'd heard voices similar to this one. It had become a mental commonplace. The voice continued.
Come to me, Magus. I'm here to help you. Come into the forest. Head north. Take the girl and the warrior with you.
And then the words trailed to nothing. His headache disappeared. Magus glanced irritably at the duo. Why should he trust them? Why should he even bother with them? And would he ever find out who spoke to him? Ever?
Only one way to find out...he must, for once in his life, follow directions.
"Where are we to go?" asked Terra. Lines marred her smooth skin in worry.
Both warrior and woman spun to face Magus, astonished. The mystic shocked himself. Take these fools with him? Was he insane? He sputtered, knowing he must talk but without words to voice.
Cecil looked dubious; Terra, suspicious.
Haltingly, he resumed his sentence. "You must. I insist."
"Why? I thought you didn't trust us." More than simple doubt creased Cecil's face now.
Yes, Magus, Why? He thought fast. "I... own you...a debt of life...and until I discharge it you will remain with me."
A smile dawned on Cecil's face. Doubt, mistrust, suspicious. All gone.
"At least your honorable, if not overly grateful..." He glanced at Terra who nodded. "All right, we'll accompany you. Where are you bound?"
As the trio prepared to depart the former prince observed both of his companions. The warrior was slightly tall, with muscles and a physique which eluded to battle experience. He wore a traveling outfit stained with blood, with a sword sheathed at his left. A golden mane hovered around his friendly face and determined eyes. Trusting.
Terra was a wizardess with some combatant in her. Expansive green locks swayed in a pony tail as she giggled at one of Cecil's comments. She was dressed as a warrior also though she bore no weapon. Her beautiful eyes twinkled. Trusting.
Trusting. Far too trusting. Ah, well, that wasn't Magus problem. They were allies, after all, not friends.
Cecil spoke again, discussing the events which preceded his unexpected trip here. His eyes sparkled as he related stories of his friends, in particular one female friend. Magus smiled, too, however his was devoid of good humour. A love triangle, how sick.
"Ah, yes, Rosa." Soft, a sigh, came to the warrior's lips. Terra appeared in deep thought.
Again, the mystic mimicked Cecil's action. And again the motions differed as night to day. He sighed. This was, undoubtedly, going to be a long day.
"Ready?" It voiced more of a command than a question.
Cecil held up a hand. "Wait. If we are to travel together don't you think it would more productive if we knew something of each other?" Terra nodded her agreement.
A very long day indeed.
Magus bore his eyes into Cecil's. "Magus, master wizard, leader of the mystic's, prince of Zeal. I have an immensely impatient nature and do think it wise that we save the formalities for later."
Cecil's eyebrows rose. "Very well. Lead."
No such order was necessary. Magus was already on his way toward the forest, cape billowing like a fan, blood-red. He kept his pace swift but effortless and reached the woods in short order. However, by this time, mud caked his boots and slacks and when he reached the woods he halted for a breath. Then he was off again, Terra and Cecil in his shadow. The trek through the woods was far more treacherous than the former prince surveyed. It demanded a sluggish walk, laden with branch slashes and matted hair to proceed. With the silence Magus' mind wandered.
What am I doing here? What has happened? Is this another one of Lavos' schemes? Why must every time I can almost feel Lavos' downfall that I must be warped to some forsaken place to rot, my dreams unfulfilled?
Cecil's cry of warning shattered his thoughts. The air become alive. Suddenly all became a slow, timeless dance. Magus spun about face. Terra screamed. A chant sounded. Cecil swung his sword. The mystic felt a colossal weight pin him to the leaf-infested ground. He struggled to rise but the force did not relent. And then he saw them.
Dancing like the shadows they emulated, silhouetted creatures whirled about him. A dozen or so circled his inert body as he desperately fought of the spell that constricted his movement. The monsters were almost vaporous in nature, semi-transparent and reflected a black glow. In their hands (whatever that was) they held wicked-bladed knives. One of them menaced frightfully near Magus' throat.
"Are you Magussss?" the shadowy creature hissed.
Before the wizard could response (a shame, too, because Magus was just warming up his spittle) another monster dove to his side. It whispered, "Get both the girl and this man. Massster wantsss them alive."
Magus began to lose his patience. And with patience gone, reason would follow. He had been ripped away from his dream of slaughtering Lavos and, yet again, tossed into a vortex. He had no intentions of becoming someone's prisoner to torture.
Delving into the rind of his soul, his reservoir of hatred of everything that existed and half that didn't he discovered that old madness that drove him to power. And to murder.
He focused his energy, raw and dark, on the constraint against him, willing it to shred. Slowly, as he heard the cry of battle, the spell dissipated. Liberated, he waited until a desirable portion of his captures surrounded him. He lay in wait, soundlessly chanting that incantation. The hate pulsed and throbbed making it seem alive.
Yes, prince of hate, butcher you foes. Slay everything and come to me. Seek and ye shall find.
Magus sighed. He had heard that voice almost all his life now and was beginning to tire of it. But he be damned if he let it distract him now. The time was his. He unleashed the energy.
Crimson cords of flame laced into his enemies, slaying some on the spot, thrusting the remnant back. Another column followed suit as the sorcerer leapt to his feet. Everything faded into the background. Hate consumed him even as it consumed his enemies. It blazed a trail even as the fire incinerated the shadows. And when it was all over his senses returned.
Magus slumped against a tree. He surveyed the scene. Dozens of creatures lay on the ground, some slain by him, some not. He glanced at Cecil and Terra. The warrior was trying to comfort Terra, as he extended the blade to her.
"I'm sorry. I should have returned the sword. Here," he said.
She shook her head. "Keep it. I'm a wizardess and not exactly powerless," she mumbled, gesturing to some corpses.
Something felt wrong. It was too tranquil. Magus shook his own head, irritably. I must be crazy, he thought.
But no he was not. He felt more than saw the monster soar through the air. His time. He slid his hand down his leg. His fingers encircled the knife that he'd worn for so long. The creature was inches from the warrior and girl. His time. He hurled the weapon into the air. It swirled. Then thud.
Both Cecil and Terra gasped as the body slid to the canopy of marshy vegetation. Cecil turned to him and gapped, "Thank you...Magus. I didn't realize the danger."
"Apparently," Magus couldn't help snarl.
After tending to their wounds and examining the dead for clues to who they were (an attempt that proved fruitless) the three continued their trek. They made good time, always heading north, aimlessly it seemed. Unexpectedly, Cecil spoke:
"Magus, now that you saved both our lives, why do still want us to continue with you? Not that I won't go but why?"
The wizard found articulating a reply most difficult. "Just trust me," he murmured.
The warrior shrugged and went on walking. Magus was about to say more when that familiar drone throbbed in his head once more:
Well done. Continue north. Keep them with you. I await your coming.
The mystic sighed. Indeed, a long day.