The Shadows Chapter 35

The Arrival

By Keith Adams

Schala smiled as the Village Elder approached her. He looked older, but happier now, as if a great weight had been lifted off of him. He was wearing a rather nondescript brown jacket, and his white hair was receding fast.

He glanced at Schala approvingly. Then he looked at Thiek, whom he did not appear to know.

"How are you Schala? It's been nearly two years. When the Ocean Palace was destroyed, we feared you had died. How did you survive?" asked the Old Man in an open, pleasant voice.

"I don't know. I just remember Janus dissapearing, and now I understand he's returned. What has become of him?" asked Schala eagerly.

"Janus? Oh yes. I remember. The Prophet fellow," murmured the Elder.

Schala reeled; Janus was the Prophet? The Prophet - it made sense. Somewhat. The Prophet - he showed concern for her sometimes, did he not? But still - the Prophet forced her to send Crono away - why had he done that? But it explained his attack on Lavos. He must have blamed Lavos for the destruction of Zeal, for everything he had lost. Yet still; could he not tell her? What had he done? Why? It felt like her world was upside down, crumbling beneath her feet.

"Are you alright Schala?" asked Thiek and the Elder in synchronity. Thiek put her arm over his shoulder. "What is wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing," said Schala, closing her eyes as she shook her head "Where did her live?"

"In a cave on the mountain. He said if you ever were to return, to go there. He spent most of two years looking for you. He's been gone for weeks. One person saw him flying west, towards the cave where the timegate was. No one has seen him since. It must have been, two months. since then. There have been a few visitors going near his house, or the indications of such, but who they are, no one knows. Most people around here believe he went off looking for you, and something finally caught up with him."

"You said most people believe," noted Thiek "You were being distant. What do you believe?"

"If I was Janus, and had searched for you for two years with nary a trace .... I'd give up. Something must have pressed him to give up the search. Someone saw an odd wave blurring the stars for a second before passing on the night he left. Something caused him to give up the search and go to another time. Truly, that is it. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you wish for something to eat? Drink?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

"You ought to go to Magus' House in the morning. You need rest. We have soup. Good soup. Come on."

Schala followed the Elder, but noticed Thiek was staying behind. He had a glum, almost moresow look on him.

"I no longer belong. I shall come and visit sometime. But," Thiek shook his head "I cannot stay. I cannot stay." -- and with that, Thiek got back into the airship, which arose and headed south.

"Strange fellow," murmured the Elder.

"Talkative too," noted Schala. What had unbalanced Thiek so? Schala ran her fingers through her dissarrayed hair. "Well, has anyone missed me?"

"More than you know," said the Elder "Come, warm yourself."

Schala approached the fire, which reached several feet in the air and was surrounded by stones. Schala recognized several of the people around the fire, most of them actually. She saw Udian Themolsk, a young Earthbound child, who always wanted to play with her. She saw Julias Feain, a young, enlightened scamp who oftened frequented the royal palace. She saw a blue Nu, sleeping, content. They were her people.

Julias turned around, and looked at her, directly at her eyes and laughed. He grinned devilishly, one side of his face smiling, the other side not.

"Been a long time Schala," he kissed her cheek "Far too long. Come, have some soup. You haven't missed much in your absensce. Not much at all. And what you did miss - will be made up for."

Schala followed Julias to the bonfire, crackling, not noticing the slight wave passing across the sky, obscuring vision for a moment whereever it was.


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