The Shadows Chapter 27

The Survivor

By Keith Adams

The freezing artic wind tore at her, lashing across her face like a whip. The snow was falling harder, now. Her purple robe was buried under a layer of snow. Gray clouds covered the sky, obscuring the Sun; it felt like night, but could be day. The wind howled, screamed, at her. She never knew the weather to be like this before. It was almost like the fury of a being, angry at her - for what.

She knew quite well what, much to her chagrin. She had failed to stand up for what she believed in, gave in, and how many died for it? Janus and the three Guru's were gone, vanished into the mists of the darkness, never to return. Crono - poor fellow. Relaxed, handsome, engaging - he was dead now, dying - for what? Someone who could not stand up for what she knew was right. Even that horrible man, the Prophet, was able to resist Lavos. And after Crono had sacrificed himself for her - what then? She still could not resist Lavos.

She could remember precious little of what had occured after Janus fell into the portal - she remembered being in a room, a small one, with no light. Or perhaps she had but dreamed? Yes, a dream - but something had happened since Janus, but what was it? Maybe Dalton had taken her away - yet the last time she had seen a hair of him, he was fleeing the Ocean Palace. Small chance he would have come back for her.

She was slowing, and she knew it. What happened is now gone. The course of history was set - Lavos now was awakened, and powerful. Could this planet sustain him, or would he move on? Maybe it had already happened - maybe Lavos had already vanished back whereever he came from. What would she do? Where was she? When? Lavos disturbed time; he might view an millenium as a few days, he might rewrite history. No, that was wrong. Lavos had rewritten history by his various presensce. What she wouldn't give to just go back, stop that presensce from ever arriving, sparing Zeal the grief of it's fate. Mot -- the Queen would never let Zeal stand after it's use was done. Destroying 1,000 years of the greatest civilazation man had ever seen - for what? And it layed across her feet - she could have stopped it; saved Zeal, saved Janus, saved Crono. And she didn't. She failed, Misreably.

Why continue? thought Schala to herself - Why continue? It's over. Zeal is gone, along with everyone you ever cared about. You're stuck on a plain where the snow will not stop falling. The snow, the snow - why would it not stop? Why would it not end?

Schala bent down on her knees, feeling the pendant, cold now, pressing against her skin, with her hands - it felt dead, lifeless, something drained of everything it had. She felt along the string , to the back of her neck, and took it off.

Schala dangled the pendant between her fingers. It had the engraved image of a Coral, the symbol of Zeal, when Zeal had bothered with such things. Schala retracted her fingers, and the pendant dropped onto the snow.

That was it. It is nothing. It was Zeal, but it is nothing. Zeal no longer exists, and it hasn't since ... Schala choked bitterly, tears falling along her cheeks .... since her mother had her find a new power source, that of Lavos. It felt so natural, so soothingly warm at the time when she found it; what had happened? Why did it change? No, Lavos never changed. That was a certaintity. Lavos wanted her to find it underneath the ocean seas, to revive it, whether he was aware of it or not. Lavos had used her. Her mother had used her. The Prophet had used her. Dalton had used her. Everyone had a hold on her life - everyone took charge of it, save her.

They used her. Everyone. Schala put her forehead to the snow, feeling it's chill. That would never happen again. Why not just curl up here, and fall, buried among something out of my control - so perfect. I ought to be used to it; my life has been everyone's but my own, under everyone's control save my own; why should my death not be the same way.

Schala stopped. Why curl up here? It's easier, and it won't matter if you die here or die of the cold, save one will be of your own volition and one will be a rage against everything, against the very forces of nature?

Schala smiled. Raging against nature wasn't the most glorious way to fall, but it had a certain ...... charm. Why not? Schala's grin widened, and she gave out a cool, bell-like laugh.

Schala pressed on, and on, for intermitable hours. She did not think - thinking would only paralyze her now. She had to keep moving. Every instinct told her to go north; she went south. The snow lessened, she should stop and rest; she pressed on, exerting every drop of strength she had. The clouds began to part, revealing a rising sun; she looked the other direction; the sun's brilliance was not for her.

A wooden structure appeared in the distance. It was not so much as a hut, but it was something. It stood on a rock, a rather large one. It was small, but as she approached she saw buttresses holding it out from the rock. There was a small set of stairs; the house itself, made of a whitish wood, looked sturdy enough to stand a thousand storms of the snow. It had a small door, made of a dark wood, with a small sign on it saying 'Home of the Inestimable Thiek G. Smada.

Thiek G. Smada - the name was entirely unfamiliar. The name seemed more ... lyrical .... than any Earthbound One's name she had heard, and less formal than any Enlightened One's, yet still it seemed somewhat familiar, as if from her childhood. She walked up the ladder, her slippered feet along the wood, and knocked thrice at the door.

A man answered the door. He was dressed in a black trenchcoat, and had blue gloved hands, with ruffled brown hair and sparkling green eyes, with a nose that seemed almost nodescript. He had a well trimmed mostasche and beard, and his hair reached the upper portion of his neck.

"Thiek G. Smada, Guru of Architecture, Meteorology, Astrology, Apotheosis, Solar Power, Conspiracies, Waves of Energy, The Splitting of Matter and generally helpful person. I haven't had many visitors recently, but you are welcome to my house, but I'm afraid it's not as clean as it usually is," said the man in a light-hearted, lyrical voice.

Schala nodded, a wry smile on her face, as she entered the room, which was immacuately clean. It was not much of a room, with a spiral staircase leading up and down, and with only a black leather couch around a avaj-table, several shurrberries, and some bookshelves covering the rooms walls. There was not a speck of dust, and the ceiling was almost ark like.

"Take a seat. The last time I talked to anyone was over a year ago, and that was to a rather unpleasant, untalkative man," Thiek shook his head a little in disapproval "But enough of that. Would you like something to eat? There's some food underneath the table. Chocalate and the like. Just open one of the sliding doors."

Schala knew where she remembered the name Thiek G. Smada. He was only 15 when he left Zeal, saying the Queen was restricting his work. He was the Guru's most famous apprentice, developing theories about the nature of space and such. Schala looked around; apparently this was where he had been for 15 years, cut off from almost all outside contact. He was holding up remarkably well. Schala had so much to ask him ...

"Oh, Schala," Thiek said politely, ignoring Schala's shock at his remembrance of her "It's a pity you weren't here a while back. That visitor I told you about was looking for you. He said his name was ... what was it again? .... oh, yes. I remember. He said his name was Janus.

Schala had never fainted or yelled in her life, and never both at once, or more miracously, in that order. That record was broken with that last sentence.


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