The Aftermath Of Mount Woe Chapter 27
The Noble Benefactor
As Schala tenderly rubbed the scar tissue of her wound that night, she reflected on the events of the day. Before they had been so rudely interrupted, Greven had been saying something about not hiding his feelings. Did that mean he liked her as much as she liked him, or was she just chasing shadows? She wasn't even sure why she liked him, she just felt like it was something that was meant to be. She remembered him being really worried about her until she had fallen unconcious. Even while she was asleep, she had imagined something. It seemed no more real than the bubble on a sleeper's eye, but she had felt the light touch of a kiss. Her reverie was broken as her door opened and Janus propelled himself onto her bed.
"What a weird day that was! I can kind of see why you didn't want me to go."
"It was a lot weirder than I would have thought. I'm still trying to sort out everything that happened."
Suddenly, the door burst open, and Dalton stood there, looking very angry. "Princess Schala, you were at Enhasa today when one of my Golems was destroyed. I was hoping you would assist me in finding the villain who commited this heinous act." He said in a tightly controlled voice.
"I did not witness the actual event. I had been injured in an unfortunate accident and was recuperating inside." 'There's more than one of those damn things?'
"Surely you must have seen something. Was anyone unusual in the vicinity? Perhaps a wanted criminal?" 'You bet your royal ass there's more than one!'
"Cut the polite pretense Dalton!" Schala spat. "We both know there's some kind of freaky telepathic link between us. The true story is that your freakin' Golem attacked me when I refused to come back to the Zeal Palace right away!"
"Matters of state come above your personal wishes." He growled in a low voice. "I honestly didn't think the Golem would attack you. But I get the feeling that someone else was there to instigate the attack first."
"Oh, how very clever you are." Schala's voice was the epitome of sarcasm. "It attacked an honest citizen of Enhasa. Unfortunately for it, that citizen was strong enough to overpower it."
"And you helped in this overpowering?"
"Of course! I wasn't too fond of the thing either." Schala parted her royal robe to show Dalton the wide slash in her dress, and the scar underneath. Then she cried out in surprise as Dalton kicked her to the floor.
"YOU FREAKING-" The rest of Dalton's phrase was truly unprintable. "Who saved your miserable hide?! Who helped you beat the Golem?! Talk, damn it!!!" Schala just stared up at him in amazement and defiance. Dalton strode over to her in three steps, and lifted her up by the neck. "WHO WAS IT?!! I'll end your cursed bloodline right now if you don't tell me!!"
Schala couldn't have told him even if she wanted to, which she didn't. His grip on her neck was too tight.
A sudden pain in Dalton's shin caused him to let go. Schala crashed to the floor, rubbing her neck. When he didn't immediately back away, Janus kicked him again. Dalton dealt the young prince such a blow that he almost flew through the window, which would probably have killed him. Schala unleashed a blast of holy power that sent Dalton through her door to land in a hurting heap out in the hall. She slowly got up, then after making sure Janus had sustained no permanent damage, walked out into the hall. Dalton stared up at her through hate filled eyes. "Dalton... What the hell is your deal anyway?"
Dalton achingly got up and resumed his usual arrogant posture. "Wouldn't you just love to know. I'll find your little friend, and you both will pay for what you've done." With that, he hurried on down the hall.
"We... We've got to go tell mom..." Janus said in a thin voice. Schala guessed that he'd had the wind knocked out of him.
"I'd like to," she began, rubbing her neck, "but she would never believe us. She trusts Dalton more than she trusts me right now."
"But why? He's always been rude and mean and..." Janus trailed off to breathe some more. They both looked up as a messenger appeared at the door.
"Miss Schala, her royal highness requests your presence in the throne room." The messenger bowed.
"Guess I'd better go." She turned back for a second. "Are you going to be all right Janus?"
"S-sure." He wheezed, then waved her off as a cough overtook him. Schala followed the messenger, a worried look on her face.
Schala paused at the door to Zeal's throne room. She was disturbed to see a large engraving resembling the Mammon Machine carved onto the door. The messenger came to a halt and waved her inside. Once she got through the door, she saw that the three Gurus were already there, in a discussion, or rather, a debate with the queen. Melchior was holding the plans.
"Your majesty, I simply don't see the need for a machine of this scale. The machine we have now already more than meets our needs."
"That means we don't need enough!" Zeal smiled unpleasantly. "Not to mention its very draining on the control mages. I'm sure nearly everyone is fed up with it by now."
"But without the control mages won't we, well, lose control?"
"That's the last thing I'm worried about. I want you three, and you Schala," she said, noticing that Schala had entered the room, "to build a machine that will collect more energy than mere mortals could stand. I don't want my orders questioned. I know what I'm doing here." With that, she dismissed them.
"She has no idea what she's doing here." Melchior said in the hallway.
"I agree." Schala frowned. "But what can we do? We have no power to question her orders."
Belthasar looked thoughtful. "That's not necessarily true."
"What do you mean? She is the rightful ruler."
"I think I know what's on his mind Schala." Melchior said. "Technically, YOU are the rightful ruler. Truly, she has no royal blood in her. The main reason she has ruled since Vigo's death is that you weren't old enough... ..but that's really no longer the case."
Schala looked shocked. "You can't just depose her!"
"Not without your order, no." Gaspar frowned. "Oh well, looks like we're not going to get out of this project. See how you feel after you've built this machine Schala. We won't bring it up again until then." The three Gurus walked away, leaving Schala to ponder their words.
For a few minutes anyway. But soon Schala caught a fleeting glimpse of something dark moving in the shadows, of which there weren't many in the golden palace. She couldn't resist unleashing a small amount of holy power. The figure collapsed to the ground in mid movement, groaning. Schala ran up as quietly as she could. "Ugh... Very funny Schala." Greven groaned.
"Are you crazy? What are you doing here? You could get killed, or worse! You're a wanted man you know."
"That doesn't matter now. I'm here for two reasons. First, the Earthbound need help, and since you actually seem to have some compassion, I figured you're my best bet. We're almost out of food. I need some way to transport massive amounts of food from Enhasa to the ground. I hoped you would have an idea."
"Not off the top of my head, but I'm sure I can think of something."
"Great. I also need to find out who my noble benefactor is. We could really use his help too."
Schala blew a stray strand of hair out of her eyes, and raised herself up on her toes for a minute, before bobbing back down. She always did that, or something similar, when she was trying to think. 'Oh god, how sexy was that?' Schala heard Greven think. She tried to avoid letting him see her blush, which was nearly impossible at this close quarters.
"Oh damn. You're telepathic, aren't you?" Greven looked at the floor.
"What gives you that idea?" Schala asked as seriously as she could.
"Don't play dumb with me!" Greven looked annoyed. Schala was puzzled.
"Anyway..." She continued as if this hadn't happened. "Tracking this guy down could be difficult. But maybe not impossible. It has to be someone powerful enough to avoid mother and now, Dalton."
"Well, I appreciate your help, whatever you can do." Greven turned around to walk away.
"Wait a minute!" Schala cried. "What was your second reason for coming here?"
"That wasn't two?" He asked nervously.
"Not in my book." Schala grinned, enjoying herself.
"Well, I was wondering if, maybe... you would... go out with me sometime!" Greven said the last part in a rush.
Schala stared at him, wide eyed. "What were you thinking?" She asked scornfully. "I'm the princess of Zeal kingdom!" Schala finally saw a flicker of real emotion in his eyes. Then, before he could form his mouth into a vengeful sneer, for she didn't expect any other reaction from him, she propelled herself into his arms. Greven gaped in amazement now. "Which does not mean that I'm not a normal person! What took you so long?" Greven was about to smile in relief, but then another angry look crossed his face.
"Doubts like this. I would love to believe this situation," he gestured his arms in a limited manner under hers, "but I've got to be sure you didn't mean those first two statements. You definitely are a normal person, but I've got to be sure this just isn't pity."
"Has pity ever done... ..this?" Taking the initiative, Schala stood on her toes and kissed him on the lips. He responded eagerly, but she didn't care. She was eager too. He ran his hand through her hair, then brought his arms down around her waist. Schala didn't realize it, but he had to struggle to stop there. He sternly reminded himself that Schala was not an Earthbound woman, and a whole new set of rules went with her.
Their kiss only ended when Schala got tired of standing on her toes. She closed her eyes, and a soft gasp escaped her lips as they separated. Greven's ego rocketed into the stratosphere. "Wow." She whispered, barely audible.
"I'm convinced." Greven smiled softly.
"About what?" Schala asked, glassy eyed. She seemed to have lost herself in the moment.
"Nothing. We should have done this from the start. What was that stupid fight about anyway?"
"We couldn't have from the start." Schala sighed. "Not with Ertai hanging around. And especially not with Janus..." Schala looked around suddenly, slipping out of his arms completely. "Crud! Was anyone watching us?"
A frown returned to Greven's face. Schala had hoped he would be able to retain his smile for just a bit longer. "I didn't see anyone. But then, I was really only watching you." Suddenly, they both froze in place as Melchior rounded the corner. Greven tensed, preparing to jump to whatever meager cover he could find, but it was too late. Melchior had already seen both of them. They both tensed as Melchior neared them, but to their surprise, he walked right by.
"Don't mind me." Melchior said nonchalantly. They were about to relax, but then he whirled around. "Oh, Greven," Greven nearly jumped out of his skin, "if you do get down to Algetty tomorrow, don't resist the teleportation again. Its for you're own good." With that, Melchior walked away. Greven turned to run after him.
"Don't." Schala held her hand out. "Dalton's quarters is down that hall. I'll talk to him. You, on the other hand, better get back to Enhasa."
Greven just shook his head in disbelief. "All right. I can hardly believe the past five minutes are real. When are you coming over again?"
Schala turned away from him. "As soon as I can, but that may not be for a while."
"I can't tell you. Something big is about to happen, and believe me when I tell you that anyone who knows something they shouldn't will die for it. Now you really better get going before Dalton shows up."
"Sure. I didn't plan on being here this long anyway. I have to confess its making me uneasy. But how am I supposed to get back? I didn't really arrange any return transportation. I was kind of hoping-"
"Say no more." Schala smiled. "Prepare to travel Air Schala!" A light purple glow surrounded Greven, and with a light flash, he disappeared from the palace. Schala immediately rushed off to find Melchior.
The Guru had retreated to his workshop, where he was peering over the Mammon Machine blueprints. "So you're the one who's been helping Greven out!" Schala wasted no time.
"Well, yes. Although he doesn't view it as such."
Schala sighed. "I assume you overheard... the whole thing. Do you have any ideas about how we might move massive quantities of food to the Earthbound village?"
"It would require a lot of teleportation. Easy for someone like you, but inconvenient all the same. We need some kind of permanent teleportation beam."
"Melchior, you're a genius." Schala smiled. "The wavelength is so easy, we just need a small amount of power to keep it going permanently. You think you'll be able to start on the Mammon Machine without me?"
"Start yes. Finish no. This side project had better be quick, and covert, if you value Greven's life."
"I sure do! You really think mother wouldn't forgive him after all this time?"
"If one thing's for sure, that lady knows how to carry a grudge. Especially against traitors and men who get close to her. Its really bad luck that Greven sort of falls under both."
"Why would she object to someone being involved with me?"
"She will think you're too young. And I could almost agree with her in this case, giving Greven's way of life."
"He would never hurt me, emotionally anyway. I can tell that much already."
"I believe that he'll TRY not to. But there's a big difference between trying and doing. He's rebelled against our civilization so much that he really is quite a rude brute." Melchior grimaced.
"I can't argue with that. I just have to say that there's another person entirely inside. Someone like... like father was."
"We could really use someone like that right now. I think that Vigo would be the only one who could deter Zeal away from this obsession with Lavos. Our bad luck he's dead."
"Tell me about it. Well, I'll get started first thing in the morning, and I guess you three will too."
"Yes. Well, good night Schala. And be careful. I really don't know how safe any of us are anymore."
"Good night Melchior. Don't worry about me. Just worry about that machine."
"God you're green! Could you really change anything? Even if you wanted to?" - Wiegraf
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