Lord of Terror Chapter 9

The Cloaked Stranger

By Iced Blood

We were back in the dungeon by dawn the next day, confidence filling us. I now donned proudly the crown of my father, and Glenn held his sword. The great articles gave us new, re-enforced courage.

Upon reaching the lair of Leoric, I looked around near the threshold for a new path. To the left, I saw a winding maze of blood-colored stone, littered with the bodies of zombies cut down with a single slash of a great blade. As I walked past the bodies, I looked up, and saw a fleeting glimpse of silver disappear around a corner.

I ran past the corner, and skidded to a stop as an even bigger group of still walking zombies made their way toward me. I raised Demonslayer, backing up against the wall. I hacked at the zombies as they closed the gap and boxed me into a corner. Schala ran up to me from around the bend, holding her sword in front of herself.

The zombies turned their attention from me, and looked to the new prey, the insatiable hunger apparent in their lifeless eyes. Schala swung her sword wildly, cutting down a few, but more kept coming. I ran to help, chopping them near in half from the outside.

The damned creatures seemed to appear out of nowhere as we killed them. As soon as one fell, another came up behind it, seeming to rise from the floor. This thought just fueled my battle rage and I swung all the harder, leaving savage gashes and chopping off arms and legs.

“Janus!” Schala screamed, and I saw that one zombie had hold of her sword and was swinging it at her. She was barely escaping the blade as it sang in the air. I figured the only way to save would be to leap at the zombie. But then, I remembered the nightmare, where I had done that very same thing and it had cost Schala her life.

I hesitated, and that hesitation meant the end of her. The zombie raised the blade immediately after a sideways swing, and was about to cut down. I watched, helplessly, at what would be the end of my sister’s life…

…And then, the zombie stopped, in mid-swing. I couldn’t see anything that would cause the halt, until I looked at the zombie’s torso. A long blade stuck out from the creature’s chest.

It twisted, so the sharpened blade faced upward, and it raised, cleaving through the torso and head of the zombie. Schala’s sword fell to the floor with a clang as the body fell in a heap.

Then, I saw the killer. There stood a tall man, an inch or so taller than me, clad in a black cloak that covered his body, and a white scarf that hung loosely around his neck. Silver hair flowed down past his shoulders and down his back. Two clumps of hair hung over his solemn face, and his aqua green eyes glowed softly in the blackness of the dungeon. In his left hand was a katana, the blade of the eastern lands, whose blade reached almost six feet long.

“Lady!” He said sharply, turning to face the zombies around him. “Stay behind me!” He raised his blade and swung so quickly that his sword was a blur of steel. The rotting bodies fell like flies as his sword struck them down with the speed of a god. With one final downward swing, he stood on one knee, the zombies all dead, some still standing. As he rose, those remaining zombies collapsed, and he looked at me.

“I’ve seen you before, Sir.” He said.

“I have also seen you, swordsman. From where do you hail, and what are you called?” I responded, sheathing Demonslayer.

“I hail from the rainforest capital Kurast. I am called General Sephiroth Lendell. What are you called, Sir?”

“Ruler of the Mystic Empires, and heir to the throne of Westmarch. I thank you for your assistance, Sir Sephiroth Lendell.” I said, and extended a hand. He took it.

“Truly, I helped you because I need a group behind me in my quest.”

“I see. What is your quest?”

“I am here to vanquish Diablo.” He announced, and my eyes widened.

“Ah, as are we, Sephiroth. You are in luck. We are already allies of yours.”

“I am quite pleased to hear this, Milord. But, might I ask, how much have you accomplished in your quest?”

“We have, for one, made it here. Next, we cleansed the poisoned water supply, killed the Butcher, the demon who is responsible of killing many of Tristram’s soldiers, and have vanquished the Black King, Leoric, who had possessed the soldiers who were left over.”

“Leoric and the Butcher, you say? Quite impressive, I must admit. Your skills I trust to guard my back.” He said with a smile.

When he walked past me to greet Glenn and Garnet, I saw that Schala’s gaze was locked on him. I thought for a second it was because he had saved her life, or maybe because his speed and skill was so incredible.

No, that definitely wasn’t it. I knew exactly what it meant.

“Schala.” I called softly. She didn’t move her gaze from Sephiroth. “Schala? Hello?” I waved a hand in front of her face. She still didn’t budge. “Uh…Hey, Sephiroth.”

“Yes?” He responded, walking up to us. I pointed a thumb at Schala. He looked at her, smiled, and crossed his arms. He drew his sword, and made a globe of light in his other hand. He studied magic, apparently. Then, holding the globe out, he let the blade of his sword catch the light and reflect off the shining steel and into her eyes.

She blinked several times in surprise. Both Sephiroth and I started laughing. Her face turned red with embarrassment.

“I…I, uh…” She stammered, and Sephiroth tilted his head to one side, smiling broadly. She put her face in her hands.

I walked toward her, put one hand on her shoulder as if to comfort her. Then, with a grin, I pushed her to Sephiroth. He caught her in his arms. I chuckled slightly, trying to look innocent as she turned and glared at me.

“That wasn’t necessary, Janus.” She said in a low, solemn tone.

“No, it wasn’t. But you don’t mind it so much, now do you?” I asked, a mocking smile on my face. She stammered, tried to say something, but couldn’t. She sighed heavily, obviously annoyed, but she never answered my question, and she never moved from Sephiroth as he put his hands on her shoulders.

I laughed and walked past them, heading to Garnet. She turned and put her arms around my neck as I approached, kissing my cheek. “What was that about?” She asked, smiling slyly.

“Don’t know. Just decided Schala needed a little push, and I was always one to take things literally.” I replied, smirking. She giggled and punched my shoulder. “Ow.” I said mockingly, rubbing my shoulder as if it hurt. I looked back at Schala, who had turned and was talking to Sephiroth. He nodded, then looked over at me as she pointed. I put a hand to my chest as if to say,

“Who, me?”

Sephiroth nodded again and said something like, “Okay, so why wouldn’t he?”

I walked up innocently, keeping my distance, and relied on my expert sense of hearing to catch the rest. Schala sighed and continued,

“I know he has a good reason to try to protect me, but I can take care of myself.” She said, and I raised an eyebrow. Turning, drawing Demonslayer, I sneaked up behind her but made enough noise to make any veteran warrior cringe. She didn’t do a thing. I swung Demonslayer around her and held it to her neck.

“Can you, now?” I asked, removing the blade. She let out her breath. “I think you should rethink that statement.” She turned to me and stared straight into my eyes. My breathing quickened, and I absentmindedly put a hand on her shoulder. She put her hand over mine.

“Janus. I know you’re trying to prove a point, but I’m more careful when I think danger is near. I can take care of myself.”

“That,” Sephiroth interrupted, raising a finger, “Is where you would be wrong. A warrior should be alert at all times. A false sense of security could make you wind up dead.”

“I…uh…” Schala didn’t have a reply.

“It’s okay, Schala.” I said. She turned to Sephiroth and I put a hand on her arm again. Sephiroth chuckled and walked away. A few seconds later, I pushed past her and shielded her, catching a knife just inches from my face. Sephiroth smiled.

“You’re better than I thought.” He said. I tossed the knife up, caught it by the blade and threw it back at Sephiroth, who caught it effortlessly and stuck it under his belt. Schala looked perplexed.

“What would have happened if Janus hadn’t stepped in front of me?” She asked. Sephiroth smirked.

“Well, the blade would have lodged into your skull, hit your brain, and killed you.” He said, waving a hand as if it meant nothing. Schala gasped. “I thought you had more faith in your brother than that.” She said nothing. “Besides, I wouldn’t have let that happen.”

“How would you have stopped it?” She asked.

“Like this.” He took out the knife again. “Hey, you, girl!” Garnet turned and looked at him. He threw the knife straight at her, aimed at her head, before I could move. Just as the blade was about to enter her head, my face just as pale as hers, Sephiroth raised his hand, palm faced toward Garnet, and the knife stopped, suspended in mid-air. I ran to Garnet and caught her just as she collapsed. She sobbed into my shoulder as my arms wrapped around her.

“It’s okay, darling. Calm down, honey.” I said, lifting her chin and kissing her gently. Her eyes were wet with tears.

“I could’ve…He could’ve…” She stuttered, and began to cry again. I stroked her hair softly, pulling her closer to me. Her hands dug into my back. I held onto her with one arm and used my right hand to pluck the knife out of the air. I threw it back at Sephiroth with all my strength. It caught him in the shoulder and pitched him towards the wall. He rolled backwards and took the knife out. He wiped it on his cloak, which I now knew was a trench coat, and put it back in his belt. He looked at his shoulder, and shrugged.

“Scare Garnet again, and you’ll die. I don’t give a damn how good of a swordsman you are.” I said sternly. “Oh, and in case you two have a fight, the same goes for Schala.”

“Thank you, Janus.” Schala said sarcastically. I shrugged.

“You act as if I do this out of choice.”

“Don’t you?” She asked, tilting her head.

“No, of course not.” She looked at me as if I was insane. I just shrugged again and sat down, looking around, trying to find something interesting in this hellhole. Ha, hellhole. Sephiroth did the same, muttered an incantation to make a small fire.

“It’s night about now.” He said. “So, what exactly do you do around a campfire? Cook food? Tell stories?” He chuckled, conjuring up a stick and poking at the magical flame.

“Nothing really.” I said, moving closer to the fire. “I usually work on a sketch of a map of this dungeon.” I took out the pieces of parchment and showed them to him. He nodded, looking at them with a critical eye.

“Impressive, Janus.” He said. “You aren’t half bad with a pen, to say nothing of your memory.” He handed me back the parchment, and I spread them out on the floor. Looking over the maps kept me occupied for a while, but I looked up when Garnet sat down next to me and put her arm around me.

“I’m bored.” She pointed out. “We never do anything fun. It’s all either dangerous or boring.” Sephiroth chuckled again.

“And what do you suggest we do, with Diablo lurking somewhere about? Invite him to play a game of hide-and-seek?” Garnet frowned, but I laughed.

“No. I suppose not. But still, I wanna do something.”

“Like what? We have six people and a campfire.”

“Well, I know Sephiroth meant it as a joke, but when I was young I did like to hear stories. I found it interesting, hearing how the person presented it.”

“You want a story?” Sephiroth asked. “I got a story. About nine years ago, in my hometown, there lived a boy about…oh, eighteen or so. His mother was a cleric, a beautiful, wise, caring person. His father was an insane alchemist with a taste for poisoning people. He hated his father, but idolized his mother.

“The young man was a swordsman. He wanted to be a knight, to serve his town. A noble goal, but he found that he didn’t really want to fight. There was a war going on at the time, and he knew that unless it ended before he came into the knighthood, he would have to.

“He trained with a small group of friends every day after his schooling. They had fun, training, joking around, talking about which of them was the bravest or the strongest, just doing what friends do. Anyway, after a day of training, the young man walked home. He was in a good mood, looking forward to reaching his home. I think it was his mother’s birthday.

“His mood darkened when he reached his house, however. He could hear his father yelling, and his mother sobbing loudly. He kicked open the door, and saw his poor mother up against a corner, curled up in a ball, as her husband, in a drunken stupor, threw dishes and chairs at the wall.

“You’ll pay for betraying me, wench!’ He shouted. She tried to say something in her own defense, to say she would never do such a thing. He paid her no heed. He just stormed into his lab, slamming the door and locking it. The poor woman cried pitifully, blood dripping from a cut on her forehead. That was his birthday gift to her, the bastard.” Sephiroth stopped, looking into the fire for a moment. I could tell this was a sort of autobiography, if no one else could.

“So, the young man helped his poor mother clean the house, lifting all the heavy things and picking up the broken wood and glass. By the end of the day, the house was clean, but a few things were missing. He…kissed his mother good night, and went to his bedroom, throwing a knife into his father’s lab door as he passed.

“He didn’t sleep. He sneaked out as his father came out of his lab at about midnight, a glass of wine in his hand. He used the stealth of a cat as he followed him into his parents’ bedroom. His mother was sitting up in her robe, on the bed. She sprang to her feet as his father approached.” His voice became very bitter as he continued. “I’m sorry, darling.’ He says. ‘Here, take this. You must be thirsty.’ The young man saw a hint of a smile on his father’s lips as his mother took the wine and drank it quickly. She looked at the empty glass, and put one hand to her stomach. She doubled over in pain, complaining that she felt like her stomach was on fire. Her husband laughed.

“I told you that you would pay for betraying me, wench.’ He said. She looked at him, her eyes full of terror. Then, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fell to the floor. The goddamn bastard had poisoned the wine. She was…dead.

“The young man took a knife from his belt and sneaked up behind his laughing father, and put the knife to his throat. ‘And now, you die.’ He said. ‘Say hello to the demons of Hell.’ And he cut through his father’s throat, throwing the knife out the window as the corpse fell to the ground, his frozen face devoid of sanity.

“With his mother and father dead, the young man joined the knighthood at his first opportunity. Soon, he was a man of power, a force to be reckoned with. His heart was cold as ice, he cared for nothing. If he died, so be it. If a colleague died, so what? He cared for nothing at all.

“One day, as he was walking out of his house, something strange happened. The scenery outside his door was completely different. He walked outside, and closed the door. As he looked back, his door, and his house, had vanished. He saw only trees. After about an hour of wandering, he found a small town, which he found out was called Tristram. He wondered how he ended up there, but just decided he was supposed to be there. Perhaps, the Angels of Heaven wished him there. He found that there was a cathedral, which was the entrance to a large labyrinth. He walked aimlessly through it, cutting down all opposition he came across.

“On the second floor, he found a lair, home to a large demon with a wicked cleaver in his huge hand. He watched it carefully, using his knowledge to find the best way to obliterate it. The night he was to kill it, he saw a man in a cloak walking towards it. He hid, and watched as the man proceeded to do battle with the Butcher demon. Quite good, he was. “Then, on the third level, he found the lair of the Black King himself. Again, he saw the cloaked man. He walked into the lair, followed by a few other people. One, and only one, caught his eye. It was a young elven woman, a plain sword at her side. She was beautiful.

“Surprising to the young man, the group eventually did defeat the Black King, and set off to proceed through the labyrinth. They ran into trouble with a group of zombies. The young elfmaiden, particularly. So, the young man’s heart was melted by a woman he knew nothing of, and he saved her from death by a sword in a zombie’s hand. And just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the young man was I, General Sephiroth Lendell.”

“The cloaked man was myself.” I said, “And the young elfmaiden was my sister.”

“Precisely.” He said, and poked at the fire again. Schala was staring at him. Marle and Garnet both had sorrowful looks on their faces.

“Your father poisoned your mother?” Marle asked. Sephiroth nodded solemnly, closing his eyes.

“Yes, and now…I have no one.”

To his surprise, Schala put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her. “You have me…” She said softly. He smiled slightly, and put his hand on hers. She gripped it tightly, a look of heartfelt sincerity in her eyes.

I rose silently to my feet and walked up to Sephiroth. “Rise to one knee, Sephiroth.” I said, and he did so. I drew Demonslayer, and held it above him. Schala looked from me to the sword to him and back to me again. I tapped each of his shoulders once with the blade. “You are an ally to the Mystic Empires and the Westmarch Armies. I hope that you will be loyal to us, but more importantly I hope for you to be loyal to my sister. Should you betray her, I will no longer consider you friend, but instead be forever at the ready to strike you down.”

“That shall never happen, I assure you, Lord.” He said, his head bowed.

“Good. Now rise, Sephiroth. But do not call me by any title. I am simply Janus to you, my friend.” I said as he stood up. He smiled and drew his own blade, holding it up in salute. I did the same. “Remember, Sephiroth. It is my belief that word is honor, and honor is life. If you break your word, you break your honor, and your life is meaningless.”

“You need not worry.”

“I know that.” I said, and sat down again. Schala got up and hugged me.

“Thanks, baby brother.” She said. I smiled broadly. She hadn’t called me that since I was eight. I hugged her back tightly.

“No problem. Don’t mention it.” I replied when we parted. She sat down next to Sephiroth again, taking his hand in hers. “I’m not completely heartless.”

Glenn scoffed, then acted innocent when I looked at him.

“Shut up, Glenn. No one asked you.” I said harshly.

“Janus, don’t ruin the moment.” Schala said, smiling. I shrugged and looked into the fire, letting my mind wander. I looked around at my colleagues. My eyes stopped abruptly at Sephiroth, and memories that had settled into my subconscious awoke and came back to me. My thoughts came out of my mouth involuntarily as they came.

“Year 1593, Kehistan Prison. I was there upon being caught as a spy for the Mystics, which I was. About a month afterward, I got a cellmate, who was there for the murder of his father. That man was you, Sephiroth Lendell. That is how I remember you.”

“Hmm, yes, that does sound familiar. Though as far as I remember, you still called yourself Magus then. I remember leaving for home after that. Honestly, I can’t stand Kehistan. I also remember that you helped me escape that prison.”

“That I did.” I said, crossing my arms.

Garnet put an arm around me and complained that she was tired. I smiled and told her to go to sleep, and that I would be with her in a minute. She nodded, kissed my cheek, and left the rest of us around the campfire.


I ended up being the last one awake, sitting at the dwindling light from the near-dead campfire, alone with my thoughts. I looked at Schala, who was sleeping soundly, snuggled close to Sephiroth, who slept on his back, his arms behind his head. Garnet lay near them, her blanket tightly wrapped around her. Glenn and Marle were farther away, and I couldn’t see them.

My gaze kept on Garnet for a good twenty minutes. For the first time in about eighteen years, ever since I’d become leader of the Mystics, someone other than Schala loved me. My heart swelled with love and admiration for her. I was surprised at how far our relationship had come in the short time I’d known her. Still, I loved her, and she loved me. That was all that mattered.

My thoughts drifted from my past to the problem at hand. I was on a mission to kill the strongest Prime Evil to exist, and I would probably die trying. I hated to think I would leave Schala or Garnet, but I knew that death was a probable outcome of this quest.

“Or worse…what if one of them dies, and I’m left without them?” I wondered aloud. I suddenly stood up, drew Demonslayer, and lifted it in the air. “Diablo, O Lord of Terror, hear my words. If either my sister or my love meets her death by your or any of your minion’s hand, you shall meet your own end at my blade.” I swore, and sheathed my sword. With that, I walked to Garnet, lay down next to her, and took her in my arms, falling asleep quickly.


I awoke the next morning to see Garnet sitting next to me, looking at me with a loving smile. She bent down and kissed me, and I sat up, handing her the blanket. She draped it over her shoulders, using it like a cloak.

I looked over at Sephiroth, who sat next to Schala, still sleeping, writing something on a piece of parchment. He looked at Schala every once in a while, then continued writing. I stood up, restarted the fire with a flick of my wrist and a quick incantation, and stretched. I checked my sword to be sure it was loose in its scabbard, and drew Soul Harvest. I looked at Garnet, who was twirling her staff in one hand. She smiled at me.

“Care for a duel?” She asked, and I chuckled, crouching into a fighting stance. To my surprise, Garnet took the offensive side and ran at me, swinging her staff in a carefully placed blow that would have sent me sprawling onto my back. I blocked at the last moment, and pushed back, thinking she would lose her balance. She jumped backward gracefully, and I was caught off guard. She swept her staff downward, and caught my leg. I stumbled, and fell. I rolled to the side and found my footing.

“Good, very impressive. I must admit that for five years no one has been able to do that. Be proud of yourself.” I praised. She blushed slightly, smiling. By then, Schala was awake, and she walked over to me and gave me a hug.

“Hi.” She said. Sephiroth looked up at her, and scratched something out on the parchment, then continued writing. I put Soul Harvest back behind my cloak and drew Demonslayer.

“Care to try your hand?” I asked her, and after a moment she drew her sword. I smiled and stepped backward, twirling my sword in one hand. She swung at me, and I blocked it. I pushed back, and she jumped backward, just as Garnet had. We circled each other a bit, and I thrust forward. She danced gracefully out of the blade’s path and countered my attack. ‘She does know what she’s doing.’ I thought. Each time I tried to swing at her, she danced away, keeping a safe distance away until she attacked. She ran forward, her sword in a deadly arc. I jumped straight in the air, floating about six inches off the ground. She closed her eyes and her lips moved slowly, her voice inaudible.

After a moment, white, transparent glowing wings sprouted from her back, and she flew up to me. We exchanged blows, each one only meeting a blade. The lust of battle entered my veins, and suddenly I couldn’t control myself. My swings became harder, she grew afraid, and started to frantically swing into my sword, and began to fly backwards, away from me.

I grew rather careless in the heat of the fight, and one of her swings went past my blade and bit into my side. I fell to the ground, the magic fading as I dropped my sword and clutched my side. The gleam in my eye disappeared, and I looked at my sister, who was breathing hard.

“Wha-What was that about?” She asked, sheathing her sword.

“I don’t know,” I said, casting a minor healing spell on my wound, “My arm took over, and I couldn’t stop it. It was a real battle to me then, and until you landed a hit, I didn’t know anything. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Janus. It gave me practice.” She said.

“I must admit, though, you are good at battle when you know what you’re up against. I’m…impressed.” I said, sheathing my own blade. Schala smiled.

“That means a lot to me, Janus.” She said softly. Sephiroth, still holding that piece of parchment, walked to Schala and wrapped his arms around her waist, hugging her.

“Hi, Sephiroth. How are you this morning?” She asked.

“I’m fine. I’ve been awake for a few hours, watching you sleep. I’ve figured out why I was automatically attracted to you, Schala. You remind me of my mother. Same ambition, same caring nature, same intelligence.” He closed his eyes for a moment. She put a hand on his shoulder, and he looked at her.

“What’s that?” She asked, eyeing the parchment in his left hand. Sephiroth looked at it, and gave it to her.

“Read it. I wrote it this morning, while you were asleep. I might not be a professional poet, but I’m proud of it.” He said as she took it. As she read it, I noticed something change in her face. She seemed…enthralled, hypnotized. She finished it, and handed it to me.

“Look at this.” She said simply. She had a sweet smile on her face. I looked at the parchment and read aloud:

“I look upon your youthful face
Your golden smile, angelic grace
Your eyes, silver, shine like stars
Binding me within love’s bars
Your hair, flowing, blue as the sea
Soft as silk, it captures me
My love for you is never-ending
As endless as the soul I’m lending
To ensure you happiness exists
Forever, never to desist
You are happiness, salvation
As I walk, you are my destination
I scale the stairs, leave my brethren
And walk to you, my Child of Heaven.”
I finished, and a small tear came to my eye. I’d read
a lot in my life, but this was about the most
beautiful thing I’d ever laid my eyes on. Glenn, who’d
heard it also, walked up to Sephiroth and clapped him
on the shoulder.

”Tyrael Himself, in all His wisdom, couldn’t have said it any better.” He said, and Sephiroth smiled, a smile of pride. Marle was smiling too as she came up beside Glenn. She was anxious, I could tell, though. She looked at me. I nodded.

“I don’t mean to cut this short, but we need to get going. We pretty much wasted yesterday, and we need to make up for lost time. I don’t know how long we have, but I take no chances with so many lives at stake.

“Sephiroth, you stay near Schala. Anything comes within range of your blade, cut them down. Glenn, you keep near Marle, and do the same. Garnet, you stay near me. Let no demon escape. Last time we grew careless a man died. Move out!” I commanded, and we moved into formation, walking straight ahead into the pathway that, hopefully, led to the stairway to the fourth level.

We ended up face to face with a swarm of skeletons. One in particular caught my eye. It had a bluish tinge to it, and its blade had a wicked edge. It saw me first and went straight toward me. I lifted Demonslayer and waited.

Then, suddenly, it rushed forward, and caught my shoulder. I fell backward and Garnet barely caught me. I bounced back and slammed Demonslayer into its neck. It practically flew to the side, but kept its footing. I ran to it and slashed at it again. It parried and thrust forward, aiming for my chest. I was able to block and counter with an upward swing that I reversed and came down onto its shoulder blade. The bone chipped but didn’t break.

I had an idea. I sheathed Demonslayer and brought out Soul Harvest. Using my magic, I made the blade shorten until it was barely existent, and used it as a staff. I slammed into the skeleton’s ribcage, and the emerald atop the scythe glowed. The blue hue of the undead in front of me changed to the bright green of the emerald itself. It was poisoned.

It staggered, unable to stand straight. The ribs on its right side were broken and pieces were falling to the ground. I tackled it, sending it flying down to the brick of the floor, where its sword arm broke and fell off. I smashed its skull, and it broke clean in half. I stepped back, and picked up the unique skeleton’s sword. It was a well-crafted, jagged scimitar. Also, I noticed, after sheathing the sword and strapping it loosely onto my back, that the skeleton wore an amulet. It glowed blue, showing that it had magical qualities. I picked up the piece of jewelry and put it into a pouch to show to Cain later.

Garnet walked up, breathing heavily, to me. “Are you okay?” She asked. I nodded. “Good. Because right now, I’m not.” She looked me over. “Oh, my! What happened to your shoulder?”

“My own idiocy, really. I wasn’t using my head. I’m fine.” I said. She nodded, but her face showed that she didn’t believe me. I kissed her softly and walked past her to check on the others. Schala looked at me and smiled. Not a scratch was on her. Sephiroth was grinning.

“Good.” I said to him. “Very good.” He looked at me and nodded. Schala walked over to me and saw my shoulder.

“Janus, that should be looked at. I think we should go back.” She told me. I was about to protest, but she gave me a look that I knew very well. It would be useless to argue. I recalled the town portal spell after a moment, and recited the incantation. The blue portal appeared in front of me a moment later. In went everyone, I being last.

Upon walking to the square, I saw that the innkeeper was talking to Cain. We decided to see what was going on.

“…And, when I went outside to check on the noise, the demons were gone. They’d taken my sign, also. What could it mean?” The innkeeper was asking as we approached.

“Well,” Cain replied, “the denizens of the labyrinth aren’t very intelligent. Perhaps they think the sun painted on your sign has magical powers. As for how we get it back, I don’t know.”

“We can handle it.” Sephiroth said, approaching the two men. Cain looked at him oddly.

“I haven’t seen you before. Who are you?”

“Sephiroth Lendell, General of the Kurast Armed Forces.” He announced proudly. Cain nodded, smiling. “So, you need some help retrieving a sign from the inn?”

“Yes. Some nights ago, I heard something from outside my tavern. I looked out the window and saw some dark shadows running off back toward the monastery. When I walked outside, I noticed nothing had been harmed, but the sign of the Rising Sun was gone. The demons had stolen it."

“I see. Well, we can find it.” Sephiroth turned to me and I nodded. “Oh, let’s get that looked at.” He beckoned me forward and we both walked to Pepin’s home. He was outside looked around.

“Oh, my.” He said when he saw us. “That’s quite a nasty wound. Come inside and I’ll see what I can do.” We did, and I sat down. Pepin inspected the wound for a minute or two. “Ah…Might you have the weapon which inflicted this?”

I slung the scimitar off my back and handed it to him. He unsheathed it and inspected the blade. It was then that I noticed a slight violet tinge to the edge.

“I suspected this. The same poison that infected Miss Alexander has been laced onto this blade. I will make the potion again, but you must rest that arm for a few days. Your allies will either have to wait for you, or go back without you.”

I nodded, and looked at Sephiroth. “Sephiroth, you’re in charge for now. Guard the others with your life.” He smiled and nodded.

“Sure thing, Janus. Nothing will get past me.” The sincerity in his voice, the complete lack of doubt, assured me that he would do as he said.

“Good. Find Ogden’s sign and come back up as soon as you can. By then I should be healed.” I told him, and he nodded again.

“I’ll make sure everyone’s okay by the time we get back. You can trust me on that.” He said. “As an ally of your empire, I have an obligation to help you.”

I smiled, nodded, and Sephiroth left. Pepin gave me an estimate on how long it would take for my wound to heal: Five days. If they didn’t get back by then, I told myself, I would find them. By God, I would find them.

Little did I know how bizarre our adventure would get after they did come back.

Chapter 10

Chrono Trigger Fanfic