SquareSoft: Generations Chapter 5
Embrace the Darkness
By Dawn Wilkins
"Is it really death you feel...that will bring you peace of mind...Tell me, is it really?...When you lose your self-esteem...that's when love dies...Blocking the sun." (Human Beings; Human Being; Seal)
The pale disk of a moon glimmered against the quiet waves as they struggled to reach Cecil. He was standing at the edge of the forest, staring, pondering, soul-searching, looking for answers...and discovering none. As his eyes panned the area he saw an outcropping, bare of grass, stark against the blackness. And standing like a statue of a god, majesty unparalleled, was the silhouetted figure of Magus.
A gentle breeze caressed his cheek, as Cecil thought. Am I wrong to trust this man? Is he right? Does Terra...like me? What's to happen now?
Again the waves dove for him. The effort fell a foot short. Sullen, the surf retreated to the sea. Cecil sighed. His conversation with Terra aided him little. The wizardess simply did not want to talk. Well, at least she had calmed down from whatever had possessed her. It seemed like only he kept a tight reign on his temper. Reconciling Terra and Magus was not going to be an easy task.
And now he had to speak with this man, this Magus, to hopefully repair the bridges so that their union as allies...and, heaven be praised, friends, would not perish.
He fiddled with his sword belt and finally ascended the hill. Silently he climbed, watching. As he neared the top he saw an odd sight.
Magus gripped one leather glove with a hand and tore it off. It landed with a thud. His other glove received the same treatment. Then, he slid his expansive blood-emulating cape to the rocky ground. Cecil was bewildered. What the heck is he doing?
As the sorcerer lifted his delicate fingers to undo his pendant Cecil detected long white scars on his hands. They were ghastly, like something you'd see from a torture chamber and it made the paladin shudder. He tried to imagine what kind of enemy weapon could create such hideous wounds but could not.
Sigh. Cecil's head snapped up. Magus sighed again, his lavender eyes glistening. He was examining the medallion with tender care. His face was distorted with some sort of pain. Finally, Cecil understood. He's in mourning, that paladin realized. But of exactly what?
Suddenly, Cecil felt immensely sad. He was intruding upon some sacred sorrow, grief that he should not interrupt. Quietly, he gathered his sword so it would not clang and betray his presence. He prepared to descend.
To these words, the warrior slowly turned about face. Magus was collecting his apparel, refitting himself. With a glance, he leapt down the hill and Cecil, with many a shrug, followed.
They strolled the beach, waves lapping their feet. Only the gentle glimmer of stars pierced the darkness of night, tiny suns to guide the lost. Each star reflected against the waters in ripple lines. This in turn reflected a navy blue to mute the natural colors of nature. The trek was not long. Magus walked to the mouth of the lake keeping a perfect inch from the waves. Cecil stood beside him, uncertain yet patient.
Full of purpose, and as though gliding through water, Magus' hand rose. "Beautiful. Silent guardians of us wanderers. They strike a path and we must choose to follow that light or shun it for the night."
Cecil knew his face was helplessly twisted. He, in short time of their acquaintance, never knew Magus to be spiritual. He sighed. A mystery, but that was no surprise.
Deciphering the warrior's confusion the mystic asked, "Why, Cecil? Why have you come for me? Apparently our allyship is incompatible. This is where our paths diverge."
Something inside Cecil agreed with this man, this mystery. Common sense. Magus was trouble and troublesome. Plain and simple.
But in another chamber of his conscience was another voice. It was his compassion. Magus was human and humanly. Plain and simple.
Gathering his courage like resolute soldiers he must trust, he answered, "Magus I don't know how good of a judge of character I am. Perhaps not very." The sorcerer seemed about to reply but Cecil continued determined to finish this, "But I do not sense evil in you. Maybe about you, like an aura, but not within you...Please stay. Terra and I do not know this land and if this land is hostile we need you and as well...we might all be better served as a united force."
Magus' face, a mask of marble, developed fractures. A smile tugged at his mouth. Finally his cheeks drew back into that smile. It was not the chill sneer Cecil was use to. It hinted at understanding and more significantly the wizard knew what Cecil had done. To salvage Magus' pride Cecil had indicated that it was for Terra and his own reassurance that Magus should accompany them--instead of the truth that the wizard himself might need protecting. Magus caught this and was pleased and impressed.
The wizard merely nodded agreement. Cecil sighed.
One battle won. Now onto the next assault, likely the most formidable.
"What is that...amulet you wear?"
Cecil must have jolted Magus out of some private musings because his fire-and-lilac eyes came alive. They trailed from Cecil's face to the medallion he wore. The eyes glistened with unshed tears.
"That, paladin, is a very long story."
The eyes returned to the sea.
Cecil selected his words with caution, "I've got the time if you got the story."
Lavender irises turned on him, frightening with the lunar illumination.
"I do...not...don't think...maybe...perhaps briefly..." the wizard sputtered. He was encased in a struggle. Only he could win...and lose. His face lined in contemplation. Finally, there was a victor.
As his eyes gazed longingly into the moon-lit liquid, and as it mirrored his face, he commenced.
"My life is but one long path with fate tripping me every time. I was an orphan--"
"So was I. So was Terra."
"If you interrupt me once more you'll be going for a dip."
Cecil nodded, not wholly tempted by freezing waters.
"In my world existed a kingdom; the Kingdom of Zeal. After a scandalous affair with an unknown wizard my mother, queen of Zeal, gave birth to me--a bastard prince. My stepfather, and the monarch of Zeal, hunted down this mysterious wizard. It's not verified if he succeeded in his quest of murder or not. The king was forced to give me the royal surname or stir controversy. But in his bitterness the first name I received was Janus--deception in our ancient tongue."
As Magus features contorted further with anger Cecil remained silent. The sorcerer gazed at the waters as if they could conjure up images of his past.
He continued discussing his mother's madness and how Schala, a half-sister, had given him the pendant. He did not halt there but discussed his being tossed into another time, there to be raised as a tool of Ozzie. He discussed his fateful meeting with a band he would later join to fight a beast known as Lavos.
A slight twist of rage alerted Cecil to Magus' hate of Lavos, but he said nothing. It actually reminded him of Zemus. He waited a moment so the mystic (his self-proclaimed race) could catch his breath. All this time the fire-and-lilac eyes did not stray from the glimmering waters as milky foam breathed onto the beach. Then, like a fearful weapon, he locked them on Cecil.
"What else would you demand to know, oh noble knight?" he whispered, soft and deadly. The look which accompanied it could have cut stone.
Wind rustled. As worried as he was Cecil didn't surrender ground to the wizard. "What about that knife you carry? Where did you get it?"
"It was my coming of age gift."
"Which age?" Cecil asked.
"The age when I first murdered."
Cecil said nothing, mostly because there was nothing to say. The night was no longer young, the deep purple of early night had given way to the black of midnight. Waves slurped onto shore, hands ribonated onto the sand, failing to find purchase, and forced back to sea. It was his time to spill guts and Cecil knew it.
"I was an orphan, too. I lived in Baron, a massive fortress. My parents died when I was little. My mother was a "commoner", a beautiful woman I was told. My father was a lunarian from a moon." Magus' eyebrows rose in question. "Yes, a moon. My girlfriend, Rosa, and I worked, she a teacher of white wizards, I the captain of the red wings. Everything was fine until one day."
Now Cecil detailed a long history. From his battle with a man named Goblez, whom would later be revealed as Cecil's older brother, to the betrayals of his best friend Kain. There was the discovery of the Excalibur and the final, desperate confrontation with a evil alien called Zemus on the moon of his father's birth.
Silence pervaded the atmosphere and Cecil couldn't tell if Magus hadn't heard a word or was privately digesting this information. Finally the wizard's deathly voice was heard, "You claim no royal blood and yet you wear a crown. How is that so?"
Cecil smiled as he flipped the light-weight coronet into his hand. Delicate star-light glinted off the surface.
"My first 'crown' was a gift from my father. This one is a good luck charm from Rosa." He refitted it.
Magus lost interest. Again silence descended. Cecil remembered several questions he had for this mysterious wizard. He gestured to Magus' hands and asked, "Why do you have such hideous scars?"
The lavender eyes flared and Magus flexed his fist. "Never you mind about that. Aren't you curious how I knew about Terra?"
Cecil would have to be blind not to see that the mystic was desperately attempting to change the subject. He decided not to pursue the topic, fearing to alienate Magus further. Instead he repiled, "Why, yes, I would like to know."
Duo purple-red eyes flashed dangerously. There was a swish sound and Cecil found himself at pinpoint with a scythe. Normally he would have been worried even frightened but he remained calm. From experience, Cecil knew this was a mere scare tactic.
"Why didn't you flinch?" Magus' smile indicated approval.
"You've done this before and nothing came of it."
The smile widened. The scythe vanished.
"Exactly. Experience. I've seen women who've fallen in love."
There was a moment's hesitation then a response. "Yes, me, though all of it turned sour. Alura, Veronica...all of them could not accept me for whom I was."
Cecil nodded not knowing an appropriate answer. He received a slap on the back as Magus grinned. "Don't worry about romances for me, friend. Worry about your own."
With that the wizard, sky-blue hair swirling, crimson cape billowing, started toward the woods. Cecil pondered these words. Friend? Was Magus finally going to trust him now? Well, if Cecil had to go the first half toward faith he would. And worry about his own romance! What did he mean?
Cecil wanted to ask these questions and many more but only posed one:
"Magus," the mystic halted in midstep. "How did you know I was here?"
Magus glanced at his medallion, especially at Cecil's face reflected against it, and smiled ruefully. "Experience."
Sudden winds snatched up Magus' attire and mane, tossing them erratically. At that moment he appeared as a god again, lordly and sinister. Cecil noted that this breeze did not affect him.
"Trouble," Magus breathed. Without warning he dashed to the forest.
Cecil, premonitions aglore, followed.