The Aftermath Of Mount Woe Chapter 43
Heart Of Darkness
Dalton awoke suddenly, ill at ease. He had been having disturbing dreams again. They were always full of Vecars, taunting him about how he had failed his homeland. He got up and walked around, then suddenly noticed something odd. Walking over, he saw it was a simple dagger imbedded in his wall. "What the hell?" He asked the empty air. Looking closer, he saw that it was stabbing through a piece of paper. He made a slight gesture, and the dim golden glow in his room increased. He read the message slowly, a bad feeling in his stomach.
"Not so dear Dalton,
I do hope you haven't forgotten about the Schala's last surviving ally. I certainly haven't forgotten about you. By the way, it may interest you to know that the dead do not always remain so.
Fondest wishes (for you death),
Truth be told, Dalton had almost forgotten about him. But where had he been hiding, and why hadn't he been trying to kill Dalton this whole time? "Sheesh. I'd rather deal with the dead ones." Dalton sighed heavily, then went back to bed.
Magus opened his eyes as the gate closed behind him, taking his new surroundings in stride. He was almost disappointed when the gate didn't reopen. 'Guess those cretins ended up in a different place. Or time.' He amended to himself quickly. Looking around, he saw he was in a small cave, with a cold wind blowing through the opening. 'No point in hanging around here.' He walked outside, oblivious to the cold. 'Hmm... Lots and lots of snow. Could be almost any time.' He walked off through the snow, in search of some sign of civilization.
He hadn't gone too far, or at least, it didn't seem far to him, when he stopped in his tracks. After years of living with mystics, and having to prove his worth or fight for his life on a daily basis, there were very, very, few things that could shock or surprise Magus. This was one of them. 'Unless I've got brain damage from the Masamune, that's a skyway.' He thought, oblivious to the blowing snow. His heart began to beat faster, and he tried to rationalize. 'Now wait. I was never here after... It could be a ruin.' He quickly lifted his feet off the ground, and telekinetically propelled himself toward the odd structure. He actually gulped as he saw the archaic designs on the floor were glowing slightly purple. He paused, looking up vacantly at the ceiling. 'That means... Schala's up there.'
Half an hour later, he realized he was still standing in the same place. 'Why can't I go up there? Is it because... if I kill Lavos here, Zeal will be destroyed anyway? There's no reason for me to go, even if I do want to see her. It has to be another way...' Suddenly, he heard a roaring sound. Running back outside, he saw a section of the clouds was darker than the clouds around it. The shadow was moving fairly quickly. As the sound grew louder, the object dropped below cloud level. It slowed, and started to circle over a point near the horizon. Magus realized that was where Algetty would be. 'That's the Blackbird. Never thought I'd see it again.' He thought, almost amused. Then, a thought thundered into his brain. 'Dalton!!!' Without any further hesitation, he ran back inside. He barely noticed as purple ribbons of energy began to surround him. 'Future be damned! Lavos be damned, for the moment! If it's the last thing I do, that bastard has to die!!'
Once he saw Enhasa in front of him, he knew it was too late to change his mind. He ignored the sleepy village and ran straight for the other land bridge. Once back on the ground, he floated himself across the wastes at a rapid pace, and jumped onto the final skyway. He felt himself floating upward, and the main continent of Zeal appeared in front of him. He ignored Kajar and the Blackbird dock, and quickly made his way through the system of caves leading up to the Zeal Palace. He paused in front of the main gate, realizing his present appearance was hardly commonplace. Not wanting to waste time now that he had decided to get back into things, he quickly unfastened his cape and draped it over his head, forming a long hood. Now he looked even more dark and mysterious than normal. He wondered how he could get Zeal to trust him. For manipulating her was the only way he would eventually get to Lavos, after Dalton, of course. He strode forward and threw the large gate open.
"Can I help you?" A young guard instantly stepped forward to block his way.
"Perhaps. I believe I can be of some service to your queen."
"My queen?" The guard looked at Magus like he was funny in the head. "She's everyone's queen."
"Not Schala's." He said under his breath.
"That's Princess Schala to you!" The guard looked cross. Then he gave Magus another funny look. "You talk like you live around here, but you don't think of Zeal as your queen?"
Magus thought fast. "I'm from Enhasa. Guess we still sort of think of Vigo as the ruler over there." He explained quickly. "Anyway, I figure the queen might have use for a clairvoyant. I'm a prophet by trade."
The guard continued to give him the evil eye, but stepped aside. "Come in. I'll try to arrange an audience with the queen for you."
"Thank you." Magus surprised himself by bowing. Maybe he was a better actor than he had thought.
"So you claim to be prophet." Zeal looked him straight in the eye.
"Yes, your majesty." He said, not blinking.
"I find it curious that you've lived at Enhasa all your life, and neither I or Schala ever noticed you."
"I believe there's a great deal Schala knows that she never tells you."
"A point for you, prophet." Zeal smiled thinly. "Any more predictions?"
"I don't believe Dalton will be overly happy to hear of my arrival. I also believe that you've been thinking about moving the Mammon Machine."
Zeal's eyebrows arched in surprise. Now she was impressed. "Yes. Its current location is nowhere near the optimum spot for gathering energy." She looked him in the eye again. "Would you happen to know where that spot is?"
Magus felt his insides freeze, as he realized that he could be the one responsible for giving Zeal the idea to build the Ocean Palace. He wanted to steer her in the totally wrong direction. But then he would be discredited. He had to gain more influence before he could try to change history. "Yes..." He began slowly. "I believe the spot where Lavos lies closest to the surface lies deep beneath the waves..."
"Would you be able to pinpoint this location?"
"I believe so."
"Excellent. We'll take the Blackbird out later today and see what you can do." Zeal seemed to think for a minute, then sent out a telepathic call. "I'd like you to meet a few of the people higher up in the scheme of things around here. Although I'm sure you already know all about them."
Magus sensed that this was a test, and prepared to sound of bits of information about everyone as they came through the door. "Belthasar, the Guru of reason. Went on the original expedition to retrieve the Sun stone." Belthasar raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. "Gaspar, the Guru of time. Assistant is the leader of the Nus, Spekkio." Gaspar raised his eyebrows as well, but stepped aside, as it was obvious Zeal was waiting for others. "Dalton, who does some of everything." Magus surpressed his desire to kill for the moment, now that he had calmed down. Dalton looked up with his one good eye, surprised. 'Ah, thank you for that, Greven.' Magus thought, seeing his eyepatch.
Then he froze as Schala entered the room. She looked just like he had remembered, only smaller. Then he realized he had gotten a lot bigger, and she had never been that tall in the first place. He wanted to run up and embrace her, before he realized that would just freak her out in his current state. It would also blow his cover, he thought belatedley. He hurriedly forced his emotions down as deep as they could go. A few hours before, he hadn't been aware he still had any. Now, it was hard not to expose them. He tried to withdraw deeper into his hood.
"Something wrong Prophet?" Zeal asked.
"Not at all." He croaked weakly. "This is Schala, Princess of Zeal Kingdom, daughter of King Vigo of Allegan and Enhasa." Schala looked up slowly, wondering what was going on, but not really caring. Then, she stepped aside, and Janus entered the room. Magus smiled.
"And this is Janus, half brother of Schala, owner of Alfador, and hater of meat loaf."
Janus stomped up to the bottom steps of Zeal's throne, where Magus was standing. "You seem very familiar, for some reason." He peered at Magus curiously.
"I don't see why I would, young sir. I am simply a new, humble servant to the royal family."
"The sarcasm is duly noted." He said, frowning. Zeal and Dalton burst out laughing.
"I wasn't being sarcastic." Magus whispered to his young self.
"Ahh, don't be mean to the boy." Zeal said as the laughter died down.
"I wouldn't dream of it, your majesty." Then Magus pretended to search the room. "Someone is missing." He stated succinctly. "Ah yes, Melchior the Guru of life, is absent. Now I see. You sent him- no, he volunteered to go on an expedition to Mount Woe, and he never returned."
Zeal burst out laughing again. Magus noted Schala took an immediate dislike to him, and he cursed inwardly. But he had to get Zeal's trust before he could help her. "I like your style Prophet!" She smiled. "Shall we board the Blackbird?" Dalton immediately 'ported away to get the giant aircraft ready. "I'll explain to the rest of you on the way."
He took a position just behind Zeal. He wanted to whip out his scythe and drive it into her head, but quickly surpressed the urge. 'The only problem now is determining just when to stop supporting Zeal, and start helping Schala. The timing is critical. And that's all providing of course, that Glenn doesn't manage to follow me.' The Prophet frowned, the quickened his pace. He must appear eager to serve...
* * *
Inside a small cave on the surface, where Magus had appeared not too many days before, the time gate opened again, spewing out three people this time. The travelers dusted themselves off and stood up, before attempting to gather their surroundings. "Boy, this is exciting!" One of them exclaimed immediately.
They all looked around the cave again. "Where this, Crono?" Another of them asked. The young man in the lead said nothing, but checked his katana. Despite the fact that there only seemed to be blowing snow outside, he felt like he would be using it again before too long. Crono Triggara shrugged, then stepped outside into the blowing snow, and into history.
"Being the best usually means proving it to everyone." - Gerrard
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