A month after the defeat of Zarok, the real adventure begins...
Final Fantasy III: The New Returners Episode I
By Loren Leah
How am I ever going to tell her...? Magus paced back and forth in front of the cafeteria door.
Just be straightforward about it, said Marle. Im sure shell believe you.
He looked at her like she was crazy. I know shell believe me--after all, all I have to do is show her the Amulet. What Im worried about is, well... Whats she going to think about my waiting so long to tell her? His ruby-red eyes glistened worriedly.
Marle sighed. I really dont think shell care, but I guess well see--here she comes now.
* * *
Hi, said Schala as she walked toward them. So, Magus...you had something you wanted to tell me?
Uh--well, yes... Marle, could you leave? Marle nodded and disappeared into the cafeteria.
Magus sighed. I...I want to talk about...your brother.
I dont blame you for what you did, Schala said quietly. I know...mother...would have fried you if youd tried to save him from that Gate.
Actually, thats not it, he said. He took a deep breath, then continued. I did what I had to do to preserve the time stream. If Janus had never fallen into that Time Gate, I...I wouldnt exist.
He gazed solemnly at her picture-perfect face, and spoke the four hardest words hed ever have to say. Schala...Im your brother.
* * *
Schalas jaw dropped and she quickly covered her mouth, but nothing could hide her gasp. H...how could this be...?
Magus looked a little hurt that she didnt believe him (of course, that could have been Schalas imagination). Its...well... Its complicated, and I can always explain later... But...I think I have something that might convince you.
He reached behind his cape into some unseen place, and took out the Amulet. Rays of sunlight glittered on its crystalline surface.
I kept it all these years, hoping that one day Id be able to give it back to you, he said softly.
Schala stared. Part of her wanted to remain the skeptic. Shed searched for so long, and now here was this man, saying these things...how could it be true...especially after what hed done?
But the she thought again. Why should it matter...especially after what he was...going to do...?
Oh, Janus, Schala finally whispered. She hugged him, and he hugged back.
They stayed that way for a long time.
* * *
So...what do you think? Terra asked Celes as she twirled around her quarters in her lavish new silk dress.
For the zillionth time, I dont know what I think, said Celes as she tossed aside a dark blue skirt. Im dress-impaired.
Well, youll have to have a dress if you want to go to the Chancellors anniversary ball--especially if you want to go with Locke.
Celes blushed a deep red. Whats the big deal about that? After all, you wanna go
with Magus, and Im not criticizing you.
Terra frowned. Okay, she said in an exasperated tone, Ill stop probing into your love life. Just lay off mine.
Celes successfully covered her snickers.
* * *
Pleeeeeeeease!!!!?? Flea was on her knees, begging. Edgar looked quite amused.
Well, I suppose... he started. If you promise to mend your ways and quit the mercenary work...I might have a place for you here.
Flea instantly perked up. Really?
Edgar nodded, and the grin on his face could have been called evil. Magus tells me youre a wonder in the kitchen...
* * *
You look positively magnificent, said Magus, as he looked over Terra in the powder room adjoining the ballroom. Thanks, Terra said. I was wondering if anyone would like this dress. Celes couldnt make up her mind. They both laughed.
Schala sauntered over in a red strapless dress. Well, I agreed to go with Edgar, but hes coming on a little strong... Terra, would you mind helping me with this French braid?
Terra smiled at Magus. Excuse me. Girl stuff. He nodded. I know, he said. Believe it or not, Im used to this. After all, I had to live with her.
Schala rolled her eyes. Oh yeah, youve got tons of experience with women.
From across the room, Lucca said to Marle, Gee, Magus seems a lot more cheerful than usual.
Marle, who was struggling with some high-heeled shoes, said, You can only guess that its Schala. I mean, all he ever wanted was to find her, and now shes here. If I were him, Id be pretty cheerful too.
I guess youre right, said Lucca. Hey, could somebody help me with this zipper? Marle nodded and turned to zip up the back of Luccas dress.
* * *
Well, here goes nothing, Magus said to Terra as the dance music started. The two of them waltzed.
Wow, I didnt know Magus could dance, Crono said to Marle as they waltzed.
Hes definitely had more practice than you, said Marle. Hes pretty good.
Crono rolled his eyes. Yeah, well, he is royalty, sort of...they always know how to dance... Marle giggled a little, and they continued dancing.
* * *
A couple of hours later, everyone was leaving. Magus walked Terra back to her quarters.
I had a lovely night, said Terra.
It was nice, said Magus. Thanks for letting me escort you.
Then he pulled something out of his pocket. He handed it to Terra, and quickly left.
Terra examined it. It was a small, greenish box--about the size of her palm. She opened it.
The first thing to come out of it was a note. Dear Terra, the note
read, sorry I couldnt present this to you myself, but Im
discovering more and more that this love thing isnt easy.
I hope you like it.
She looked into the box, and pulled out a pair of exquisite (and very expensive-looking) sapphire earrings. She gave a little gasp.
Celes, who was walking by, gave a little gasp as well. Boy, is he coming on strong, she muttered as she passed.
* * *
Magus yawned as he neared his bedroom. Itll certainly feel good to sleep tonight, he thought as he entered. With one magical word he was in his nightclothes, and after getting a glass of water, he hovered over to bed.
He fell asleep almost instantly, as he had been ever since Schala had come back--just peace of mind, he supposed.
But tonight, he was not to sleep well.
_Hey there, son of Esmeraude,_ a telepathic voice sneered, jolting him from his slumber.
Magus recognized the voice--and its mocking words--instantly. _Its you......I thought I was rid of you!_
_Well, you sure arent,_ said the voice. _Yeah, King and Queen Zeal did a good job of banishin me--but Im back, back to make your life miserable again!_
_I wont let you lay waste to this world,_ Magus told the voice. _Im coming after you, Nefan....._
All Magus could hear in reply was Nefans maniacal, telepathic laughter.
* * *
Schala yawned as she sat up in bed the next morning. She was horribly sore and stiff, as a result of Edgar insisting that they dance the entire length of the ball.
_Schala..._ Her brother was calling her telepathically.
_Yes, Janus?_ she replied.
_Nefan is loose._
_Dont worry. Im going to get rid of him for good._
_But...._ She frantically searched her mind for a reason that he shouldnt go alone, and found none.
_Dont forget, youll need the Prism Orb._
_All right, Ill see you later..._
This would be a nice time to have Father around, she murmured to herself as she got dressed.
* * *
Hey, open up! Terra knocked on Maguss door. Come on!
Celes walked up to her. Having boy troubles? she said. He couldnt be that embarrassed about his little gift.
Thats what I was thinking, said Terra. She moved over to the next door down, and knocked. Just a second, said Schala from inside. She soon appeared at the door.
Let me guess--youre looking for Janus, she said. Terra nodded.
Hes gone, she said.
Terras jaw dropped. WHAT!? Whered he go? Does Zarok have him again?
Far from it, said Schala. He just had to take care of his doppelganger.
Celes looked confused. His what?
Oops, I forgot, Schala said. None of you have twins.
Wait a second, said Terra. Twins?
Yes, said Schala. Everyone born in Zeal has an identical twin called a doppelganger, created by the magic that held Zeal in the air. Generally they turn out evil, but my twin--whom youve met, of course--wasnt too bad and they assigned her to be my bodyguard. Januss twin, however, was an especially bad one. He murdered two people the night after he was born.
Yikes, said Terra. So, what did they do with him?
Most poorer people at the time just tossed theirs over the side of Zeal, she said, and that was the end of them. But it was considered more humane to send them to the mirror dimension, or Otherworld. Nefan was sent to Otherworld, and we havent heard anything out of him since--until now.
Schala shuddered. Somehow, I dont think his stay in Otherworld was much good for his sanity.
* * *
Are you sure you wont stay? Flea asked Slash as he hefted his pack, ready to go through the Vortex and return to his own dimension.
Im sorry, but... He gazed around the castle courtyard, unable to find the right words. My place isnt here. Ive got nothing special to contribute to this little group, and frankly, I miss good old Medina. I have to go back.
Flea sighed sadly. She took a deep breath, and... A perplexed look crossed her face. Wheres he going? she said, sounding annoyed. Slash turned around.
The two watched as Magus strode toward the castle gate, wearing his purple traveling cloak and clutching his scythe. Slash called to him, but he didnt respond.
Hey! Slash called again. This time, Magus turned towards them. Flea motioned him over.
Wherere ya going? Flea asked.
Nowhere special, came the reply.
Slash shrugged. Well, good luck in the future, guys... Wherever youre going, Ill see you later, he said, and then proceeded to walk away toward the basement and the Vortex.
Flea barely kept herself from sobbing out loud. Im going to miss him, she said.
Didnt he say hed come back to visit? said Magus. Flea nodded. Im still going to miss him.
Magus stood there, at a loss for words. Finally he shrugged and said, Well, I have to be off. My little errand cant wait. He left hastily.
Flea whispered a silent prayer that both her friends would be all right.
And she remembered......
Looks like thats the last of them humans, said Ozzie the Third, son of Ozzie the Second. He chuckled unpleasantly.
Youre correct, said Magus, who didnt seem to care one way or another that he had just slaughtered a village full of innocent, defenseless people. He gestured for his three generals to leave the scene of the one-sided battle. Ozzie and Slash started off, but Flea stayed behind.
Flea, he addressed her. I thought I told you to leave. His tone was cold and calm, but Flea knew that if she didnt come up with a good excuse fast, the full fury of his anger would be upon her.
She looked up into his eyes--and suddenly realized that the mirth, the joy of their friendship had departed from his gaze long ago. She shrank back from him, and he walked away, without showing the slightest trace of sadness that she stayed behind. She crouched on the lifeless grass.
zHow could I let this happen to him? she thought as tears began to stream down her cheeks. They had vowed to let nothing come between their friendship--and yet when the Grand Master had come calling, Janus had yielded, letting the darkness inside, allowing it to twist and contort him until it was all that mattered in his life. The life of a Magus, she thought bitterly.
Yet she had done no better. She hadnt resisted when she was taught the skills and disciplines necessary to be a Maguss general. She had felt a sense of responsibility to her race, as she still did. And she supposed that even if friendship didnt matter anymore, that did.
Thats it, she thought. From now on Im not Flea, the worried friend whos trying to help Janus. Im General Flea, Sir Maguss assistant warlock.
With a new resolve, she caught up with and marched behind the evil creature who used to be her friend.
* * *
Magus pulled up the hood of his cloak as he ventured out into the desert sandstorm. He saddled a chocobo and rode away from the castle, all the while wondering if Terra would even notice he was gone. She probably wouldnt even care, he thought. She probably thinks Im an idiot for even considering......
He couldnt bring himself to say love, even in his mind.
Magus hoped that his plan to destroy Nefan would be clever enough. The only way to kill a doppelganger in single combat was to use the magic of the Prism Orb, which was supposedly housed in a temple that could be reached from any dimension.
Unfortunately, that was all he knew on the matter... But he did know where he could get a clue.
He rode on, hoping he was going the right way to reach the Tower of Zozo.
* * *
Setzer, occupied with fixing a hole in the Falcon, didnt hear the cry until it was almost too late.
Hey, Setzer! I could use some help here!!
Setzer took out his razor-sharp playing cards and turned around.
His jaw dropped.
Seven--no, eight--giant scorpions had ganged up on Magus! He was crouched in the desert sand, defending himself as best he could. With so many, though, it was clear he wouldnt last long. Setzer took out a boomerang and began to aim it.
One of the scorpions brought its giant stinger down next to Maguss face...
Setzer kept on aiming--he had to get it just right...
Several pincers moved toward Magus...
The scorpions never knew what happened as the boomerang, in perfect position, slashed each of their hearts.
Magus stepped out from between the huge bodies, holding his scythe and looking very irate.
What took you so long!?
Setzer couldnt keep himself from grinning.
* * *
Nefans long blue hair moved along with the motions of the gentle mountain breeze. He knew he was somewhere near the village of Tzen, on Vehs in the Earth Dimension, and he also knew that his twin Janus, whose birth had lured him into this horrible mortal existence and whose blood he would wreak revenge on, was here too. But right now, none of that mattered.
He had sensed one of his own.
He sent a telepathic message in the language of demons and spirits, a language no mortal could ever hope to decipher.
_La segla Gouros exttingdovno ggconyilp qwerbuin `yij Galf _
(Greetings, Gouros-exttingdovno-ggconyilp-qwerbuin or Galf.)
The other demon replied.
_La segla Genach kikkollma duccin tilmmm `yij Nefan. Oos grrateta xon bechh nocl_
(Greetings, Genach-kikkollma-duccin-tilmmm or Nefan. Come to where I am.)
Nefan nodded to no one. He would go to meet Gouros exttingdovno ggconyilp qwerbuin `yij Galf, just as the demon had asked.
He set off to the south.
* * *
That should do it, Setzer said as he finished patching up the last of the holes in his airships side. He turned toward Magus, who was standing behind him.
So what were you doing out here, anyway? Did you have a chochobo?
Magus nodded, but the direction of his gaze was obscured by his hood. I did have a chochobo, until one of those scorpions ate it. What are you doing out here?
Hold it, Setzer said. I asked you first. Now fess up for me.
Magus sighed. Fine. My evil twin is going to destroy the world, and I have to stop him.
Okay, me next, said Setzer. Some air turbulence tore holes in the Falcon, here, and it crashed. Ive been here a day and a half making repairs, and now Im finally done. So, where to?
I need to go to Zozo.
* * *
Intriguing... Hell make a fine host, Nefan commented as he looked over the beastman.
His name is Zarok, the beastman said in low, guttural tones. This ones got a lot of hate in him.
Ahh, the perfect host, Nefan sighed. Wish Id gotten to him first.
Nefan looked around him. Galf, the lucky demon who had posessed Zarok, had chosen a strange meeting place: a room in the Tzen inn. Not that the townspeople would cause any trouble; Galf already had them under his spell, but the whole place just seemed so...awkward. Normally a demon as high up on the social ladder as Gouros exttingdovno ggconyilp qwerbuin `yij Galf would choose a nice dank, dark cave; something that felt more like home on the Demon Plane.
Go figure... he thought to himself.
* * *
Magus took a deep breath as he attempted to concentrate. He had been through the motions of the Spell of Summoning a thousand times, but since the defeat of Lavos, it had seemed unnecessary to continue to practice them. Now he prayed that his lust for vengeance had led him to rehearse enough, for the fate of Vehs could very well depend on it.
He began to chant those all-too familiar words, although this time he wasnt trying to summon Lavos......
Neuga, ziena, zieber, zom... Now the chosen time has come... Exchange this world for one of legend... Esper kiena, solm Ramuh!!
There was a brilliant flash of light and sound, and then... Darkness. Silence.
Out of the blackness stepped a familiar old man, flowing white beard reaching almost down to the floor, emerald green robes fluttering in a magical wind, wooden staff clutched in one hand.
He spoke in a gravelly but noble voice.
Who summons the Esper Ramuh?
* * *
I dont know, Edgar, sitting on his throne, said as he eyed Terra standing before him.
I have to go find him, she said, walking up to stand beside the young king. I cant let him do this alone.
Why not? asked an irritated voice from behind her. She turned and found it to be Schala, who looked almost as worried as she probably did. Still, she seemed determined to prevent anyone from helping Magus.
Terra scowled viciously. Whats with you!? He could get himself killed, and you let him sneak off alone! I thought you cared for him, yet you wont let anyone help him! What kind of sister ARE you!!?
Everyone in the room looked surprised at Terras outburst, though none more than Schala.
I--I... Schala seemed at a loss for words. I-its something I cant explain, but... He has to do this alone.
Speaking of explaining, said Edgar, you never did tell us how you managed to be in Zaroks palace. What were you doing there?
Schala looked positively ashamed, and averted Edgars eyes. Thats...also something I cant explain. At least not yet.
Terra rolled her eyes. Right.
* * *
I see, said Ramuh. So now you must find the Prism Orb.
Exactly, said Magus, who had just finished explaining his problem. Ramuh, who had once been considered a deity in Zeal, nodded. I am certain the portal to the temple will be found somewhere here, in the Tower of Zozo. It should not be too hard to find, but if you need help, I will wait here...for a time. As you know, I cannot stay long because of the lack of innate magic in this world, the kind of magic--
Needed to sustain you, Magus finished for him. If allowed, the gentleman would go on talking for some time, and that was time he did not have. Ill go now, and thank you.
Ramuh nodded again. Youre quite welcome.
As Magus walked away, Ramuh sincerely hoped the young man would survive the fight with his doppelganger.
He didnt doubt the warlocks strength; no, even the idea of that was preposterous.
But Ramuh had known many Zealots whod set out to do the same thing and never returned...
* * *
Nefan nodded vigorously. I think I like this plan. But...what will you do with this Magus?
Possess him, of course, Zarok (er, Galf) said. And then you can have this host, if you like.
Nefan grinned in his usual evil style. He dearly wanted a good host. Hed been banned from having one at all since the birth of Janus when, hoping to duplicate the boys powers, he had crossed over to the mortal plain to pose as a doppelganger; unfortunately, all it had gotten him was about a century and a half of mortal living and a stay in Otherworld.
According to Galf--and if anyone knew, Galf knew--once this Magus was possessed, Nefan could take a host again.
Which was a little fishy... After all, THAT was only supposed to work with Janus.
Oh well. After all, if anyone knew, Galf knew.
* * *
Magus lightly touched the last panel in the puzzle, and the wall slid open to reveal a Vortex. He pulled up the hood of his cloak, brandished his scythe, and entered.
His first sensation was one of an incomprehensibly vast stretch, as it always was in a time-space tear. But instead of blasting through to the other side, he suddenly...stopped. He was hovering; not of his own power, but from the immense concentration of energies of all types flowing about the inky red void. One of the energy flows caught him, and rushed him right to the steps of a magnificent temple.
The Temple of the Orb......
* * *
Im going to go crazy if I dont find something to do, Terra lamented as she sat down in the cafeteria. Flea walked over with a tray of food, set it down in front of Terra, and sighed. I know what you mean. This Magus thing is kinda getting to everybody. I guess were all just nervous for him.
Terra looked up at Flea. Youve known Magus for a long time, so maybe you can tell me something--does he usually survive things like this?
Flea chuckled. Well, he obviously has up to now, but yeah. He normally does pretty well. I dont think you need to worry too much.
Naturally, Terra worried anyway.
* * *
Its breathtaking, Magus thought as he gazed up at the gigantic temple. He walked up the steps, and entered the main citadel.
It was too wonderful to describe in words. He walked down the center aisle, and eventually came to a platform at the end. On the platform lay a beautiful chest...
And in the chest was the Prism Orb.
Magus forgot to breathe as he reached in and picked it up, examining every centimeter of its glittering, prismatic surface.
Also in the chest was a splendid wooden-coiled staff, designed to hold the Orb on top within three wooden tendrils. Magus put it away in another one of his unseen pockets, then turned back to the business at hand.
* * *
Schala sat on her bed, examining the ancient text that had been hers since birth. A Zealot princesss birthright, the aged tome contained prophecies about things happened, things happening, and things to come.
It was called the Final Fantasy, Book of the Ages.
Schala carefully went over the words of the prophecy for the umpteenth time.
When the Demon comes forth, doomed is the warlord,
doomed to a fate worse than death.
Alone will the Last Prince find his path; the dead come back,
the old restored, the mage-power wrenched away--
the purpose of the Round is sealed.
So goes the Final Fantasy.
The prophecy greatly worried Schala. There were parts she did not understand...
But the most important part, she did.
* * *
Magus was pretty sure what to do with the Prism Orb--get into a battle with a doppelganger, and it would do the rest itself. The big problem was finding Nefan. He would never show his face anywhere near Figaro Castle; not only would that be hazardous to his health, there was no magic to nourish him. He would prefer places like the ones where the Phoenix and other Espers had once rested, where the magic--
Suddenly, Magus realized he knew exactly where Nefan was.
He flew away at top speed.
* * *
Relm yawned as she sat up in bed. Gramps, do I have to get up? she whined.
Strago rolled his eyes. Come on, get up. Our luggage is waiting. You dont want to miss your own birthday vacation, do you?
She shook her head. She was looking forward to going to Figaro Castle, seeing her old friends, meeting the new heroes, and maybe persuading her grandpa to let her join the New Returners.
Another plus was that Edgar was hosting her Sweet Sixteen birthday party...and if this bash was going to be anywhere near as good as the one hed had after the defeat of Kefka, it would be great indeed.
She grinned as she grabbed her paintbrush.
* * *
Nefan sat in the inn, speaking with Galf about all things demonic. Galf, still in Zaroks body, had a lot to say as well.
There was a noise outside. Nefans ears pricked up. What was that?
Galf growled and smiled at the same time. An intruder, of course... Let us hope its the intruder weve been waiting for.
A silent figure listened from outside.
* * *
Magus froze outside the Tzen inn. He hoped that his knocking over of some items at a market stall hadnt attracted any unwanted attention. Likely it had, for this place bore the mark of evil. The townspeople wandered around in a trance and and all the money and food supplies had been ravaged.
And hed heard voices inside the inn...
He scooted back from the inns door. Someone was coming out.
First came Nefan, as hed suspected. His not-so-better half leered at him.
Hey, son of Esmeraude...found your mother yet? he mocked.
Then...Zarok, of all people, stepped out. To normal senses, he seemed unchanged.
But as a child of Zeal, Magus wasnt limited to only normal senses.
He let his eyes fall half shut as he concentrated, forming a mental picture of Zaroks aura...and gasped. Zarok had been possessed by a demon!
But this wasnt just any demon. This was the Demon, the Ravager of Souls, the Ancient Evil, the one whod created and ruled the Zenobian Empire for a time before disappearing.
Galf the Black......
* * *
The young man brushed dark brown hair out of his eyes as Cyan watched him. I have an urgent message for King Edgar. Please, it cant wait--you must let me pass!
Cyan frowned. Clyde struggled to pretend this was a stranger, a man hed never met, and failed utterly. Fortunately, the elderly knight didnt notice.
Cyans brow furrowed, thinking hed seen those eyes before, but finally stepped aside. You may pass.
As Clyde passed, Cyan gave him a curious look. Wh...what is your name?
The younger mans dark blue eyes sparkled. Clyde. Call me Clyde.
* * *
Hey, whos that? Terra, standing beside Celes outside the cafeteria, watched as a stranger passed by. He stopped for just a second to gaze at them, then went on his way.
Celes smiled a little. Boy, doesnt he remind you of Shadow?
Terra rolled her eyes. How could anything but black cloth remind you of Shadow?
Well, yeah, but look at those eyes. Dont they remind you of...? She trailed off.
Terra rolled her eyes again. I dont see any resemblance, but you obviously paid more attention to him anyway.
Celes blushed. Okay, I admit it. I have a thing for mysterious men.
* * *
Magus gulped, but retained his courage. Galf the Black... What a wonderful time for you to show up.
Zarok grinned. Dont I know it. [Authors Note: From now until further notation, all actions by Zarok are Galfs actions--like you hadnt figured that out already.]
Nefan grinned as well. Dont suppose you bothered to check my aura, so-called brother. Im not what you make of me.
After that remark, Magus was a little less than surprised to find that the doppelganger Nefan was actually the demon Genach kikkollma duccin tilmmm `yij Nefan.
He frowned. Well, the Prism Orb can still do its work.
Zaroks maw opened wide in a gruesome expression of happiness. You have the Orb!?
Nefan nearly jumped with joy. Once youre possessed, the greatest power in the universe will be ours!
Things werent turning out quite the way Magus had hoped they would...
* * *
You heard me right, said Clyde. Demons.
Edgar looked worried as he fidgeted on his throne. Do you know their names?
He shook his head. But one of the voices I heard sounded like Zarok. I think hes been possessed.
Edgars chin came to rest on his hand. Hmm... Well, thank you for telling me. What did you say your name was?
The young king frowned. You...dont happen to know a guy named Shadow, do you?
Acually, yes. Were...uh...related.
Edgar smiled. Well, any relative of his is welcome here. Please, stay as long as you like--at least long enough to attend Relm Arrownys Sweet Sixteen birthday party.
Gee, said Clyde, I may just have to stick around for that.
* * *
Hi, Relm! Terra waved as Relm ran toward her. Strago followed behind, huffing and puffing. Behind him were Locke and Sabin, carrying luggage. Last came Setzer, cursing himself under his breath for forgetting to bring his roulette wheel.
Its good to see all of you again, said Edgar, who had just come through the cafeteria door trying to balance an armload of presents.
Relm nearly gasped in spite of herself. Are all those presents for me!?
Locke nodded. Somebody-- he looked in the direction of Strago-- sent Edgar a list of the stuff you wanted most.
Terra laughed. Lets put the rest this way: Youre lucky to have a king for a friend.
* * *
Later that night, Setzer was walking toward his guest quarters, and away from Lockes room. He hadnt a single GP on him; hed lost bad to Mog in a game of cards.
Stupid moogles... Why do they have to be so good at poker!? he muttered.
He heard an almost-silent shuffling near him, and looked around, but there was no one in sight.
* * *
Magus took a few steps back of the demons, who had started to move toward him. He saw only one way out of this mess, and it would be very risky.
He would have to teleport.
He stopped several yards away of the advancing demons, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and concentrated. He ignored the searing pain as all of his reserves of magical energy--not to mention much of his physical energy--evaporated in his effort.
He concentrated on his destination: Figaro Castle.
He collapsed, but by that time he was already on his way...
* * *
Oh! Schala gave a cry as Magus materialized in her room, still unconscious. She murmured a few words, and brought his levitated body back into his own quarters. She put him to bed.
Oh, Janus, she thought, I warned you about teleporting without practice...
She left Magus and went over to the cafeteria, where Terra was still moping around. Terra spotted her and scowled.
What do you want? she said in a hateful tone. And make it short.
Schala glowered at her. Shortly, she said in much the same tone as Terra, Janus has returned.
Terra gasped. Where are Crono and the guys? Ive got to go tell them! She raced off.
Schala looked the area over, but she didnt see them either. Oh well, Im sure Terra will find them, she thought. Id better go tell Edgar.
* * *
So, what is it? Marle asked. She was sitting beside Crono, Glenn, Ayla, and Robo in the castle basement. Lucca, clearly pleased with herself, held up a small remote.
My newest invention, she said proudly. I call it the Gate Generator. It can make Time Gates leading to any time and any place, and...
What was that? Crono wondered. Everyone listened, and they could hear footsteps.
A girl came around the corner. Hey, Terra, said Marle. Howd you find us?
Never mind that, said Terra. Magus is back!
None of them wasted any time rushing to his room (although Lucca did complain the whole way that she should have gotten to finish describing the functions of her invention).
* * *
Really, said Edgar. Well, Im glad hes all right. He, Strago, Celes, and Relm were sitting at a card table in the throne room, taking turns at chess. Relm sighed. I forgot how boring it is over here, she said.
Schala smiled a little. Well, I just wanted to let you know, Edgar. Ill let you get back to your game now. She started away from the group.
Relm shot after her. Hey, Miz Schala, could you introduce me to your friends?
* * *
Magus sat up in bed. He smiled warmly as Terra entered his quarters, closely followed by Crono and company.
Terra looked a little worried. Youre in bed... Are you all right?
Magus nodded. I had a little case of energy drain from teleporting. Im just fine now.
Glenn and Crono looked a little confused. Energy drain... Glenn said. What doth this nomenclature denote? [Authors Note: For those of you who dont speak medieval English, this means What does this phrase mean?]
Maguss expression betrayed his amusement. In laymans terms, I fainted. He got out of bed just as Schala came into the room, followed by Relm.
Whoa, talk about weird, said Relm as she scrutinized him.
He gave her a look.
Um, I think I take that back, she said. She sat down as far away from him as she could get.
Schala giggled. Relm, Id like you to meet my friends Crono, Marle, Lucca, Glenn, Robo, Ayla...and my brother, Janus.
Janus still looked a little angry at Relm. Call me Magus. He walked out of the room.
He isnt the greatest conversationalist, said Marle. Relm nodded.
Schala followed Magus out of the room. Somethings wrong, I can tell...but what?
Magus didnt meet her gaze. I found out something about Nefan that I didnt know.
Well, first of all, I cant use the Orb on him.
Schala was about to ask why, but Terra interrupted her. Cmon, lets party! Relm ran toward the cafeteria.
Schala stayed behind. Now, why?
Hes a demon, said Magus. Which means well need...
Th--the-- Schalas voice failed her entirely, and she started over. You dont mean...
I do, Magus said grimly.
* * *
The party went smoothly, without the chaos Terra had expected after Magus had told everyone his story. There was chocolate everything: chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, fondue, candy, and anything else the caterers could think of.
Celes walked up to Terra, who was standing by the punch bowl (actually, it was chocolate milk). Gee, Relm sure likes her chocolate, doesnt she?
Terra nodded. Hey, have you been watching that guy? The one you thought looked like Shadow?
As a matter of fact, said Celes, I have. I wonder why hes following Relm around like that?
Oh, well. Terra shrugged. Probably just wants to congratulate her. Maybe hes an old friend! She smiled.
Before the two could do anything about it, Crono, walking toward the punch bowl, tripped and fell.
Into the chocolate milk.
He brought up a dripping wet, brownish-tinged head, grumbled something about slippery floors, and headed off to clean up.
No one in the room could restrain their laughter.
* * *
Whats going on!? Want to find out? Read Time Gate Trouble, coming soon, and find out why you should never test one of Luccas inventions!
Final Fantasy III: The New Returners