The Children Of Zeal Prologue

By Froborr d'Wiggy

The Gate swirled dizzyingly, hovering between the two Telepods at the north end of Guardia Square. Finally, the pathetic fools I had used to destroy my nemesis had returned to their own times, leaving me to pass on through the slowly collapsing Gate to my own time.

They were fools, all of them—everyone I had ever met, with only a vanishing few exceptions: Schala, the Gurus, and, surprisingly, that pitiful child, Glenn, whom I had long ago turned into a frog. And of them all, only Schala mattered.

I had been bored out of my wits by the endless good-byes of the fools, with one amusing exception, when that insipid child Marle kissed Frog. These fools knew nothing of the theory of magic, the laws which govern it—all they care about is that the lighting bolts go where they’re told. So, of course, they would be quite surprised to learn the consequences of Marle’s action.

Ah, well, I thought. It was time to return home, and learn if I still had one.

“So,” asked Marle as I approached the Gate, “you’re going to search for Schala?”

Without response, I strode into the swirling blue vortex. Immediately, I knew that something was wrong. I had, I realized, delayed too long, and now the Gate was collapsing with me still passing through. I vaguely wondered what that would entail, somewhere deep underneath the part of me that was screaming in unbearable agony and abject terror, when I found myself in a place I knew, the pain suddenly gone.

I was standing in the Gate chamber at the End of Time. Before me, was the door to Gaspar’s chamber, torn off its hinges. Through the doorway, I could see the broken remains of Gaspar’s lamppost, Gaspar’s hat lying at the base of it. I flew (quite literally) into the room, searching for Gaspar. I was busy checking the now defunct Gate to the Day of Lavos when Spekkio entered from his room next to Gaspar’s. I was shocked to see his condition—he was gashed and bleeding, and in spots burned by magic spells. He staggered into the room and crumpled to the floor, unconcious.

It was nearly six hours before Spekkio finally awoke. He looked up at me and smiled weakly. “Well,” he said. “If it isn’t the Marlin.” He then degenerated into a fit of coughing.

“What happened here?” I asked.

He gasped a little before managing to croak out, “The Masters… took…” He gave a shuddering cough, and was still.

I stood over his body in silence a moment before shaking my head and standing. I wasn’t going to get involved in any more cosmic battles. I didn’t owe Spekkio anything, and his death in no way required me to go off on any quests.

Just as I was realizing there was no way I could accept that sort of rationalization, a voice from behind me gasped, “Wait a minute! I’m the Master of War!” As I watched, amazed, a cloud of some powder, looking suspiciously like salt, swirled around Spekkio, and he stood.

“You see,” he said. “I AM the Master of War!” He stood and began walking around the remnant of the lamppost, studying it.

“You said something about the Masters?”

“Hmm?” he responded. “Oh, yes, the Masters. You see, they are—“

“None of your concern,” interrupted a cold voice. As it spoke, a swirling patch of madness, like a thousand Gates, all just slightly off center, appeared. Standing in the center, wearing a black hooded cloak, was a man.

“And you are?”

“I am Janala. Come.”

My mind spun. It was simply too much for me to accept in a few brief minutes, to accept that this was Janala, the same Janala who—

“Yes, Janus. I am the Janala you will come to know. Now, come with me.”

“Where?” I asked, but I knew it didn’t matter. If Janala asked me, I would go.

And so, I went. I knew that I would be leaving behind my vendetta against Lavos, my quest for my family, leaving behind the fools who had clung to me, and most of all, leaving behind time travel.

I was never more wrong in my life.


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