The Aftermath Of Mount Woe Chapter 25
A Meeting Of Minds
"...and that's how Vigo saved all of us here today from being destroyed by the Weapons." Schala smiled down at Janus, satisfied with her storytelling abilities. He seemed to think over the story for a few moments.
"But Dalton said that he didn't actually kill any of 'em except Shivan, and that Violen was the one who really killed Serges." Janus protested, unwilling to accept this new information without examining all sides of the story.
"Dalton is full of..." Schala trailed off. "That's technically correct, but without Vigo, we never would have stood any chance against them."
"As long as we're going with technical correctness, isn't it also true that Enhasa never would've been raised off the ground without him? And doesn't that mean the Weapons never would've been summoned?"
"Maybe..." Schala seemed to drift off. "Maybe. But then, I wouldn't be here to argue the point with you."
"Well, whatever anyone says, it sounds like he was pretty powerful. I would have liked to have met him." After a few more moments of silence, Janus burst out, "Wait! What do you mean you wouldn't be here to argue with me? I wouldn't be here either would I? I mean, no one is willing to tell me why, but they all assure me that I wouldn't be here without a father."
"Janus, Vigo wasn't your father." Immediately after she said it, Schala cringed for openly disobeying Zeal's orders.
"What?! But everyone says I'm of royal blood. Doesn't that automatically make Vigo my father?"
"You're of royal Zealian blood yes. As far as Alleganian blood goes, politically yes, but from actual bloodlines, no." Schala sighed at Janus' confused look. "Look, you weren't born until over four years after he died."
"What does that have to do with it?"
"Human gestation only takes..." Schala trailed off as she realized that Janus was a little too young for a lesson on this subject, nor was she the proper teacher. "Never mind. I wish you could have met him too."
"So why don't all of us ever go over to Enhasa?" Janus asked innocently.
Schala thought for a minute. "I really don't know."
"So why don't you go over there today, and see if there's any problem with all of us going?"
"I don't think that's a good idea."
"Why, are you afraid of what you'll find? Are you afraid you'll get in trouble? Or is it both?"
Schala sighed and smiled at the same time. For a four year old, Janus was amazingly insightful. "All right, I'll see what I can do. Now you better hurry down to the kitchens. They'll be done with lunch soon, and you haven't eaten a thing yet." Janus nodded and turned to leave. When he had reached the door, Schala noticed a large and unpleasant bruise on his right arm. "Well, well. How did you manage to acquire that?" She asked, pointing to the angry purple flesh.
"Oh that." Janus tried to dissemble, but the words wouldn't come. He decided to go with the truth. "Yesterday, some guys were standing around talking, and I heard one of 'em call you something that sounded like a "voluptuous vamp." I kicked him in the shin, and he punched me back before he saw who I was." Schala stifled a laugh. "What?"
"Oh Janus, I'm pretty sure that was a good thing!" 'That's the understatement of the year.' She thought to herself.
"Oh. So I should ask questions first, maul later?"
"Yes, you might want to consider doing that." She smiled, then guided him out the door.
Schala concentrated deeply, invoking the summon spell that Violen had taught her. In a flash of green and purple light, the Weapon appeared on the mountain, right below the gates to the Zeal Palace where Schala was standing. She rubbed her head tiredly. "It figures. As soon as you're asleep, the planet screams..." then she looked up, "..or you're summoned away by a spoiled young princess. What's the trouble Schala?"
"I need to go over to Enhasa. Trouble is, I don't know if they'll be too friendly, seeing as its been so long since we were there last. Also, the residents may have made some modifications, so I won't have a clear image to teleport to."
"Uh huh. And what's the real reason?"
"You're much more fun than teleporting." Schala smiled.
"Ack! Such arrogance! I come all the way up here only to find that I'm supposed to be your vehicle for the day. Very well. Let's get going." Violen made an odd gesture, and a fierce wind blew them straight off the mountain, on a direct course for Enhasa island.
"So how is Lavos keeping busy?" Schala asked, half joking, half serious.
"He's still deep asleep, thank goodness." Schala said no more, but just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
A little over an hour later, Schala was slammed roughly into the ground at Enhasa. "Hey, watch it will you?!"
"Sorry." Violen said, not really paying attention. "I keep forgetting what delicate little creatures you humans are. So do you want me to go on ahead?"
"No. I think its better that I go on alone. I'll call you back if I need you for anything."
Violen groaned under her mock burden. "Oh, I'm sure you will." With that, she departed. Schala picked herself up, dusted the dirt off, and walked the short distance to the entrance. Once she was close enough to see inside, she observed that everyone seemed to be in a panic. People were running everywhere, putting books on shelves roughly, so that as soon as they turned around, the books flew right off again. Suddenly, there was a large crash, and a cloud of dust blocked her view. Out of all the chaos, a boy who looked to be about twelve emerged, smiling a crooked grin, and eyes sparkling with amusement and intelligence.
"Hello Miss Schala. I'm sorry for the dreadful mess, but when I told everyone I saw you coming, they kind of went ballistic... in a good way." He added, seeing her apprehensive expression. "I'm Ertai Vecar. Its an honor to meet you."
"Hello Ertai. What do you mean you saw me coming? And I didn't think meeting me would be that big a deal for everyone..." While inside she thought, 'This guy's cute, and smart. Too bad he's not a few years older.'
Ertai shrugged. "Well, Violen is kind of hard to miss, you know. I could see her coming when you were still miles away." Then, his voice switched tones slightly. "And if you really feel that way, you should meet my older brother." Schala's eyebrows arched upward in surprise. Ertai grinned and pointed to his temple. "I'm a telepath Schala. It comes with the territory." His mind continued on his train of thought. 'And coming from you, that was high praise indeed.'
Ertai rubbed his shin, as if it was paining him.
Schala was surprised again. "You wouldn't have happened to be in the Zeal Palace recently, would you?"
It was hard to glean anything from his lopsided grin. "Not to my recollection."
"So you don't know of anyone who visits the palace so infrequently my brother wouldn't know who he was and refers to me as a voluptuous vamp, do you?"
Ertai blushed. "Fine. If you must have the truth of it, I'm telekinetic too."
Schala ignored her princessly duties for the moment, and played the part of the teenager she was. Looking at the mess being created inside, she wondered, "How would I know your brother if I saw him?"
Erati resumed eye contact. "Well, look for someone who looks a lot like me, except he has a square chin, is pretty tall, and walks like he's had sex."
Schala laughed. "You can't fake that walk!"
Ertai grinned again. "Tell me about it. I tried once, but I just fell down." They both found this immensely funny, and erupted into laughter.
As Schala wiped the tears away she asked, "So has he really?"
"Oh yeah." Ertai got serious. "He goes down to the Earthbound village all the time. From what he says, there's not much else to do down there..." It was obvious from his expression that he wished he could go.
"So why is he down there so much? It isn't that big of an incentive, is it?"
"It would be for me." Ertai said seriously. Then he looked up, surprised. "Why? You never have?"
"No." 'There's no one worth it...'
"Well that makes me feel better."
"But really, there has to be another reason."
"Well, we were both born down there. The thing is, he was nine when we were trapped up here. I was only three or four, so I hardly remember home."
'Trapped up here. That's certainly a new way of looking at it.' "Doesn't he get in trouble for it? Or is he really good at teleporting away fast?"
"He can't teleport at all. He always has someone else send him down there. There's always a danger of being caught, so he has someone different send him each time. He always tries to stay down there permanently, but somebody who has to be hugely powerful always sends him back up. I guess they don't want him to get in trouble." An understanding look came to his face so fast Schala could almost see a lantern coming on in his head. "Say, it isn't you, is it?"
"Sorry." Schala shook her head. "I don't even know who he is. Its probably one of the Gurus."
Ertai smiled. "I can't believe that actually caught on."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm the one who started calling the old geezers "Gurus." I can't believe people are still using the names." Ertai peeked back at the entrance. "Hmm... Looks like the chaos is dying down. Do you want to go in?"
"Sure. I've been wondering what you people have done to my old room..." She was interrupted as a white beam of energy shot up beyond the edge of the island. It immediately arced back down and slammed into the roof of Enhasa. "What was that?"
A puzzled look crossed Ertai's face. "He's back. But... ..it seems his anonymous benefactor is none too pleased with him at the moment." Both were curious about this new development, so they hurried inside. Ertai gestured for Schala to go ahead of him, and two of his friends ran up behind him, whispering in hushed tones.
"Uh, Ertai?" Schala called. "There's nobody unusual here." Everyone in the vicinity was dressed in typical Zealian clothes.
"Oh, forgive my oversight." Ertai ran forward as his friends snickered behind him. "He prefers to inhabit the Guru of Reason's secret room. Half of the people here know about it, but your mother doesn't. I don't think you'll tell on us though."
"I've got no reason to." Schala shrugged, effecting indifference.
"All right then." Ertai rushed around, opening spellbooks seemingly at random. All of a sudden, one of the bookshelves slid away, revealing a gaping doorway. As Ertai ran up, Schala could see a dark figure inside. It wasn't due to poor lighting either. He was dressed all in black armor, and was much more tanned than most Enlightened ones. Particles of white energy were still streaming out of the armor, but he paid no attention. He was flipping through a book, turning the pages tenderly, as if his large arms would tear it to shreds if he was any rougher.
'I could be crushed by arms like those and not mind.' Schala couldn't help but smile. Another part of her seemed to scream, 'Whoah girl! When did I start thinking like that?' Schala was glad that Ertai had politely closed his receiving telepathic channels.
"Hey brother." Ertai called, with less enthusiasm than earlier, Schala noticed.
"Not exactly a good time Ertai." He called back, flipping pages faster. "I was finally able to resist the teleportation today- I have no idea how- but apparently they have more than one way to drag me from home."
"Why do you put up such a fight? You know you'll be able to go back the next day. Why don't you just submit to spending the night up here?"
An angry look crossed his face. "What makes you say that? You know I've never wanted anything to do with these people. Except for that one lapse, and I've been paying for it the rest of my life. You sound like you've been talking to- hello!" He stopped as he finally looked up and saw Schala. "Talking to the Zealian princess. That explains a lot."
"Well hello to you too." Schala said, her smile disappearing.
"Well 'scuse my bitterness, but I've got reasons. You probably have no idea who I am, do you?"
Schala gulped, sensing she was being put through a test. 'Okay, that should indicate I've met this guy before. Let's see, fiercely independent, a neutral to surly expression and disposition, a tendency to dress in black...' Her smile returned. "Why hello, Greven Vecar."
Greven gaped. "Well, well." Ertai grinned like an idiot. As soon as she said the name, Schala felt an odd sensation.
'Is it possible there's such a thing as white wind?' She wondered.
Greven looked at Ertai accusingly. "You..."
"I never mentioned you by name. I mentioned our last name, but that was it."
Greven glowered angrily. "Hunh. Then you're a bit better than most. But I've got nothing to say to you."
"What?" Schala exclaimed. "You won't even give me a chance? You don't even know why I'm here!"
"You can stay! I'm the one who needs to leave!" He erupted. "All these Enlightened ones preach about how lucky I am to live above the clouds. Then they boss me around like I'm dirt, because I was once an Earthbound one, even though I've mastered my magic better than anyone here."
An understanding look came to Schala's face. "So you're mad because all these people give you trouble for having been an Earthbound one, when you think you're better than all of them."
"I don't think, I know."
"You think you could beat me?" Schala asked, a dangerous glint in her eye. As soon as she spoke, a purple flame leapt up from her finger.
"Of course!" Greven waved her aside. She assumed a battle stance. "You're really serious huh? Well, if you insist..."
"Uh, Greven... I really don't think defeating the princess will keep the queen's attention off of you." Ertai warned him.
"He won't defeat me, so don't worry about it." Schala grinned rather wickedly.
"You are either very confident, or very foolish." Schala grew a little worried as she saw a smile creep onto Greven's face. "We shall soon find out which!"
Schala nodded, throwing off her royal robes. Then, the eyes of the watching boys widened with hope as she also threw off her dress underneath. When the dress fluttered to the ground, everyone could see that she was wearing tight pants and a tank top underneath. A collective sigh was heard. "Sorry boys." She winked at the doorway. "Maybe in a few years, when I'm not so self-concious." Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something rushing toward her. She jumped out of the way just as a large purple blast slammed into the wall.
"Dirty pool!" Ertai cried.
"She shouldn't be stopping to show off!" Greven responded.
Ertai smiled. "Actually, that was a pretty clumsy blast." He said, turning to the boys behind him. "That was a smart move. She put him at a psychological disadvantage. That is, she's hoping he'll be less willing to beat up a pretty girl."
This whole time, Schala's mind had been reeling. 'He used holy! I forgot about that! Holy, my goodness. It just seems so weird.' As she was thinking, she dodged two more blasts.
"That's it! I'm done playing around!" Greven grinned like a maniac. He floated in the air for a second, then a large purple explosion engulfed the half of the room Schala was in. Tables and chairs went flying, but he didn't seem to care. As she was thrown into the wall, Schala guessed this wasn't the first time he had fought someone in here. Schala finally fired a returning blast, which Greven parried easily with more of his energy. "Ha! As I thought, your skills are pathetic." Greven began to gather more energy. Suddenly, he backed up a step as Schala began to grin. Then, three distinct beams of energy raced toward him, one on the left, one on the right, and one in the middle. Greven struggled to fend off all three, only to be nailed in the back of the head by the fourth blast that he hadn't even seen coming. He toppled forward, only to be nailed in the stomach by a full force beam of power, which smashed him into the wall.
Growling, Greven leapt forward almost faster than the eye could follow, his arm pulled back in preparation for the strike. A split second later, there was no movement in the area, as everyone was frozen by the sight of the Dreamstone dagger pointed at Greven's neck. "Let's keep this contest magical, hmm?" Schala asked dangerously. Greven gulped and nodded imperceptably. No one had seen the dagger hidden underneath Schala's near skin tight pants. Apparently, "near" was the key word. The opponents backflipped away from each other, then resumed their spell hurling.
Neither could gain a clear advantage, until Greven realized he might actually lose. The thought angered him so much that he put all his remaining energy into one series of spells. An explosion under Schala's feet sent her flying into the air. A series of energy arcs carried her upward, pounding her into the ceiling. They stopped suddenly, and she fell over ten feet to the floor, where she landed face down, and lay still.
Ertai stepped back into the room. "That was over the line Greven. I think you really hurt her!"
Greven ran forward and leaned over her. "I guess so. I didn't mean to. I wasn't thinking." He felt her for a pulse, and when he detected that, he was relieved to see that no blood was flowing out from her head. He lifted her head up by her hair to make sure she was okay. Suddenly, her eyes fluttered open, and she quickly grabbed his arm.
"Don't mess with my hair, or you're really be sorry!"
"Look Schala, I'm sorry I..." Greven trailed off and his eyes opened wide. His grip on her hair loosened as Schala's grip on his arm increased. Somehow, she flipped up from her position on the floor, managing to kick Greven in the stomach as she did so. She used the momentum from that to rebound off the wall. Then amazingly, she began to spin around in midair, and a tornado like funnel surrounded her. Greven's jaw dropped just before her feet connected with his chest, sweeping him into the funnel as well. It spun vertically around the room, rotating wildly, before finally smashing through the roof of the secret room, and carrying them both outside.
Ertai and his friends rushed outside in time to see the funnel smash into the ground, raising a huge cloud of dust. When it cleared, they saw Schala standing tiredly, breathing heavily. As the dust drifted away, she stretched her hand out to help her opponent out of the Greven-shaped crater, but he was unconcious. "Nice try." She grinned, tossing her hair like the type of arrogant person she definitely was not. Ertai ran up to her.
"I'm so sorry about all this! He gets carried away sometimes, but I never thought he would do this! I'm sorry I introduced you two."
"Are you kidding? I had a blast! It was nice to let myself go, and not act the part of a proper princess."
Suddenly, a mental shout cut through the area that was so loud every telepath heard it. 'Schala!!! What the hell are you doing?! Get back over here NOW!!! There's important news!'
"Oops." Schala smiled weakly, rubbing her temple. "Guess that my cue to skee-do." A white flash came from her hand, and suddenly all her clothes were just where they had been, as though nothing at all had happened. She waved goodbye to the gathered crowd, then teleported back to the Zeal Palace.
Greven began to stir in his crater. The crowd drifted away, afraid of his temper. Ertai, who knew him better, walked right up. "Unh... Is she gone?" Greven groaned.
"Yep. Guess her mother found out where she was."
"Where did she learn that wind magic? I thought that holy was all she knew."
"Just cause its all you know..." Ertai teased. A few moments passed in silence. Then Ertai decided to plunge ahead into dangerous territory. "You like her, don't you?"
"Of course!" Greven was always brutally honest, and he never evaded a question. "She's not a hypocrite like nearly everyone else here. And boy, what power!"
"Hmm... Then why did you try to smash her face in? Twice?! If that's your way of expressing affection, I wish you hated me!" Ertai said, rubbing his shin. "First, you nearly break my leg, and then Prince Janus tries to complete the job."
"Think we'll be seeing more of her?" Greven asked, standing up.
"Of course! After a swell experience like this," Ertai stretched out his hand to show the damage their battle had caused, "I don't see how she can resist!"
"Are you kidding? That's the most fun I've had in months! And I found some great new friends too!" - Nadia
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