Chrono Trigger: Dangerous Times Chapter 6

By Nihon Soba

Uncharted Area, 12,000,004 B.C.

Though the wind was strong today, the sun shone with a brilliance, warming up the Earth. For thousands of years the world was covered with ice and snow, and now, it was starting to melt. Birds flew in the blue skies, carrying materials to build their nests. Flowers and other plants were popping up across the land, accompanied by bees and butterflies. It was Spring at last. Not only because it was the month of spring, but because at this time the long ice age was coming to an end. A settlement of humans lay on one continent, grown from a ragged band of survivors in tents to a small, fortified town. Houses were built using evergreen lumber from the nearby forests. People were living in peace at last. All except one.

Far from the town of humans, there was a large, rocky cliff overlooking the sea. On this cliff, there was a house made of stone brought all the way from the mountains that were on several other islands in the cold ocean. The house stretched across the cliff, a wodden dock leading down the cliff to the front of the rocky beach by means of wooden stairs. There was something odd about the architecture, a style suggesting a simple home but carrying a sense of, well, regalness to it. The solid rock of which the house was hewn out of was impeccably smooth, with no chips or cracks in the rock. Though the stone was cold as the weather, the house was always warm inside.

Looking inside the house, one might admire the interior decorator’s taste. The floor was hardwood with ornamental carpets stretched across it in various places. Windows fitted with clear glass were at regular intervals on the walls, and a large fire was blazing away contentedly in the fireplace. From the smell of the house, one would guess an apothecary or herbalist lived there. If they would have noticed the door leading to the huge chamber hewn out of the solid rock of the cliff, they would have known better. That was a spellcasting chamber, sturdy and soundproof. Which meant that the owner of this house was affilliated with or was a user of magic, a magus.


Following the destruction of Zeal, most of the remaining “Enlightened Ones” had lost the source of their power, and ceased to use magic. However, there were a select few with the gift, and they were looked upon with disdain from the general populace. Users of magic, or magi, were the scapegoats of society. People blamed magi for just about every bad event, whether it be famine or bad weather. Although most of these rumors were flase, some of them were true, and there were people using their gift of magic as a means for power over people. Due to this, in the following year of the destruction of Lavos several magi grouped together and formed an alliance, called the Conclave of Wizards. It was the Conclave’s duty to train young people with the gift of magic to harness it properly, and not to use it for personal gain, or for power over people. It was also the Conclave’s duty to hunt down any “renegade” (those who abused their gift of magic) and to use any means to stop them, even if it means their death. The Conclave would record the name of every aspiring magus that became a sorcerer in the Conclave, in order to keep track of them and to make sure that they do not abuse their power. Every magic user on Earth was known by the Conclave, every one kept under watch. Except one...


Back to the house on the cliff. Inside the solid rock spellcasting chamber, a man was busy at work. One wouldn’t be too quick to call him a man, though. He had long, flowing blue hair streaked with white that cascaded down his back. His ears were pointed, and his eyes the color of lavender. Around his neck, he wore a silver amulet, one that an astute observer would recognize as the royal crest of the late Kingdom of Zeal.

The man was busy at work, compiling notes in a leather-bound book that he kept open on a wooden table in front of him. Though he would frequently venture outside into the forests or near the human village, he was avoided out of superstition. Not only by the villagers, but also by magi of the Conclave. Rumors were whispered about him. That he was a renegade, so powerful that the Conclave avoided him. That he was a demon, a demi-god. And the rumors just kept on coming.

None of these rumors could be proven, of course. The truth was, the Conclave of Wizards did not avoid him. Rather, he avoided them. The man had no desire to be part of a union of magi. He preferred to work alone, to not be disturbed. And so he wasn’t. Only on certain occasions when the Conclave formally invited the man to certain events--such as the initiation of magi and the dreaded “test” to determine if they were to become a mage (a test that could possibly kill you)--would he join them.


Janus was sitting on the table in his spellcasting chamber, writing notes in his book that he kept open. The quill pen he used was perfectly sharp, not cracking or sputtering as others did. Taking a glimpse into the book at what Janus was writing, one would notice:

“Contrary to popular belief, ‘gates’, or time portals, were not created by Lavos. Time portals have always been around, but they have been mostly inacessible. When Lavos arrived on Earth in the year 65000000 B.C., the effect was a sort of distortion in the fabric of space-time, causing certain areas where the fabric was weak to be torn just a little.”

Janus stopped. He looked up, his weary eyes scanning the area. It was too dark, and he could not see what he was writing. “Shirak,” he said softly. Immediately, a globe of magic light formed above him, illuminating the area around him with an unearthly blue light. Janus smiled for a moment, then got back to his task.

“These tears in the fabric of space-time were unique. A portal could open by itself, but no one could open a portal... no one, that is, except one with the proper tools. My past experiences with the Six have shown me how, but not why, these mechanisms work. Lucca, for instance, had unintentionally opened a ‘gate’ in the Millenial Fair in the year 1000 A.D., using a mechanism of her’s that was supposed to harmlessly transport someone from one pod to the other. Due to a reaction from...” Janus paused here, seemingly in a state of inner turmoil, which quickly passed. “...from Guardia’s pendant (an heirloom which was once the Dreamstone pendant of Schala of the Kingdom of Zeal), as well as from Lucca’s machine, a ‘gate’ was opened up. The realitly was that the combination of the two reactants caused the very small tear in space-time to enlarge, swallowing Marle (Princess Nadia) into it and beginning the grand adventure that resulted in the being known as Lavos’s destruction.”

Janus paused once more. His hand was getting sore from all the writing, and he did not wish to spend the entire day in his study, no matter how much he needed to continue his notes. Alfador would be waiting for him, or course. Janus closed the book, placing it into a drawer inside the wooden desk. He stood up from his chair, stretching out kinks in his muscles. That done, he proceeded to exit his spellcasting chamber (used as his study). Turning back, he eyed the glowing ball of light he had summoned to illuminate the room.

“Dumak,” he said, almost a whisper. The ball of light instantly snuffed out, bathing the chamber in inky darkness.


It was evening. The sunset over the main continent was beautiful, the sky a color of orange and pink. Birds flew to their nests, bringing food to their children. In the human village, lights popped on as the sky became darker. Janus stood behind his house, his long hair waving in the breeze. He wore a purple cloak, fastened at the clasps, the metal from his amulet gleaming silver in the sunset. The glint off of the cold metal caught his eye, and he held it in his hand, gazing at the amulet with sad eyes.

A soft yet startling thump on his back brought Janus back into action, and he could feel something furry crawling on his shoulders. He rolled his eyes: he was expecting an enemy.

“Alfador, how many times have I told you not to do that?” the lavender-coated cat just meowed in reply, nuzzling against Janus’s cheek, purring contentedly. Janus dropped the matter; Alfador always found a way to sneak up on him, no matter if he was on guard or not. The cat was magical, after all. Janus paused to pet the cat’s lavender fur. Not even he knew the extent of the cat’s abilities. Alfador was given to him as a present from his sister, Schala, during the era of the Kingdom of Zeal. The two became literally inseperable, since the haughty, arrogant Prince Janus did not attract many freinds. After Zeal was destroyed, Janus had found his kitten in the Earthbound Village. He did not return for Alfador until after Lavos was destroyed. He had then come to retrieve his long lost cat, now his only companion.

Janus sighed. Schala was still missing, or maybe even dead, as far as he knew. He had been searching for her ever since him and the companions had finished their journeys through time, though to no avail. He still never gave up hope, and still did not even to this moment. Janus clutched his amulet, his fist shaking.

“I swear, Schala, that I will find you someday. I have spent the past twenty-five years trying to get back to you, and when I did, I lost you again...” he shivered, his thoughts interrupted by something only he could feel. Alfador could sense his companion’s emotions, and mewed softly, curling up in a ball on his shoulder. The Black Wind. Janus had not felt it in years, and now it was blowing once again. And at an alarmingly high rate. The Black Wind pierced through his soul like a dagger of ice, paralyzing him for a minute, the pain, anguish, and fear coursing throughout his body. He cried out, and Alfador jumped off his shoulder, giving his friend a curious look, tilting his small head just a little. Janus fell to his knees, clutching his head... and then the pain vanished. The Black Wind died down to less than a whisper, and was gone. Janus was still shivering from the effects. He knelt still, his breath clouds of vapor in the cold night air.

“Something is wrong...” he whispered to himself, standing up and wrapping his cloak tighter around his frame. “I can feel it...”

Alfador mewed imaptiently, looking toward the warm house. It was getting cold, and Janus felt sorry for his cat. He picked up Alfador and cradled the cat in his arms, walking into his house. He had to continue his notes, anyway. Now especially because of what he felt. Even now, he felt a lingering sense of dread that simply would not go away. Entering the house, he shut the door behind him and placed Alfador on a cushioned chair, proceeding into the kitchen. There, he fixed himself a cup of herbal tea, taking it along with him as sat down on a couch in the living room, thinking.

“I have to leave this place..” he said softly. “I must find out why I felt the Black Wind. Only several times in my life have I felt it, and most times were due to Lavos...” his expression turned into a scowl.

A knock was heard on the door. Janus stood up, wary, placing his tea on a small table next to his chair. Not many people knew that he lived here, and not many people came to visit. Words for attack spells forming in his mind, Janus opened the front door, ready for anything. There was a man wearing a red robe and cloak, fastened at the clasps by a seal, one that Janus recognized as the symbol of the Conclave of Wizards: an eye, the color of white, red and blue. That symbolized the three magicks: Lightning, Fire, and Water. Shadow was not taught, the knowledge of it being scarce and the people that could harness such power rare, if around at all.

The man had a patch on the shoulder of his robe, three horizontal black lines, symbolizing his rank, a beginning mage, still in apprenticeship and having passed “the Test.” His black hair was shoulder length, and his eyes were brown. The red robe symbolized Fire magic, apparently this magus’s field of study. The man looked up, his features calm, with a bit of haughtiness in them. He gave Janus a slight grin before he spoke.

“Forgive my intrusion, sir, but I am an emmisarry representing the Elders of the Conclave of Wizards. My name is...”

“Yes, yes I know.” said Janus impatiently, waving the man off. “Justarius. I was present at last season’s passing of the Test. You were there, of course. Think I couldn’t remember, didn’t you?” under his breath, he added, “You damn cheater...”

Justarius did not hear that last remark. The young mage was at a loss for words, but his arrogance took over, steeling him. “Actually, I did think that you had forgotten, Janus.”

Janus’s hand, in a leather glove, firmly and uncomfortably grasped Justarius’s shoulder. A discharge of lightning was heard with an electric crackle, and the young mage cried out, falling to the floor of the house.

“Watch your tounge, boy!” Janus spat out. “You and every other dimwitted apprentice and archmagus alike know how to address me!”

Justarius slowly gathered himself to his feet, noting that he was not given a helping hand. His lip curled in a sneer, and he looked straight at his tormentor in an angry gaze, But he found that he could not look into those lavender eyes, ones so full of hatred and sorrow, ones giving him a look that could kill, without averting his gaze, and so he willed himself to calm down, deciding that his life and assingment was more important than his wounded pride.

“Forgive me, Magus.” he said, executing a low, formal bow. “I did not mean to invoke your wrath. My most sincerest apologies.”

Janus sighed. “That’s more like it, apprentice.” he said. “Let us stick to formalities, yes?” his tone then changed to an angry, bitter one. “Why are you here?”

Justarius stood up straight, determined to show Magus that he was no weakling. At Magus’s request, he entered the house and shut the door behind him. Out of a pocket from his red robe he pulled out a scroll, the parchment rolled up tightly. Breaking the wax seal, Justarius began to read.

“It is with great honor that we, the Elders of the Conclave of Wiz...”

Janus snatched the scroll away from him. “Better that I read that part and get to the point.” he said, eyes scanning the parchment. “...formally request...bla, bla, bla... Well, it isn’t the Test, that was taken last season. Hmm... get to the point, you damned geezers! ... wish for you to join us at the next meeting of Elders.. hah! What a bunch of doddering geriatrics! Trust the Conclave to write a load of rubbish and send one of their lackeys out here!” Justarius was angered by the caustic remark, but kept silent. Janus took not of that but was not concerned. “...invite you to the next meeting... seventh day of the seventh month... Good, it’s July the second right now so I don’t have to wait too long.” Janus paused with his criticism, noting a passage that caught his attention.

“ discuss matters of dire urgency and of the upmost importance...” he remembered how he felt when the Black Wind howled through him, and shivered at the memory. Janus felt that the Conclave was actually being serious about this, probably the Black Wind had brought a disturbance in the Astral Plane that the magi could detect. Janus raised an eyebrow, actually glad that they had decided to contact him. He rolled the parchment back up, tossing it to a butterfingered Justarius who almost dropped it on the floor.

“Well, it looks like the Conclave of Dimwits finally got some sense knocked into them.” said Janus, tightening his leather gloves, a habit he had picked up long ago and wouldn’t quit. Justarius gave him an agitated look which Magus ignored, proceeding to open the door for the young apprentice mage to leave. As he was doing that, a soft meow could be heard, and Alfador rolled off the couch he was resting on, jumping up on Magus’s shoulder. The sight amused the arrogant Justarius, and he chuckled.

“Well, master Magus, I didn’t expect someone like you to have any pets.” after seeing those lavender eyes narrow and focus on him like a predatory beast, Justarius swallowed nervously, thinking of taking back the remark.

“I prefer the term ‘familiar’ as opposed to ‘pet’, apprentice.” Janus said, in a low yet brooding voice. Alfador was purring contentedly, oblivious to the turmoil around him. Janus reached up and petted his friend, his gaze not leaving Justarius. “You wouldn’t understand, you third-rate fool! Now go, and do not return! Unless you want your life shortened, my dear Justarius. You have already shortened my patience to the breaking point, and if you don’t want your body changed to a form more fitting to one of your kind,” Janus chuckled, thinking of Glenn. “then I suggest that you shut up and leave right now! Begone, apprentice!” and with that, Janus muttered an incantation, and a strong gust of cold wind threw Justarius out of the door and right smack into a nearby tree. Janus shut the door behind him.

After a few minutes, Justarius got up and brushed pine needles and bark off of his red robes, his mind clouded with fury. “That bastard...” he seethed. “Just because I cheated once on the Test, he thinks that he can rub it in and ruin my reputation. Hah! The vote was all for me, the Elders all, and Magus the only opposition, and I passed!” the young mage snickered, his anger fading away. “Ah well, I am patient. I will get the better of you one day, Magus...” he said, and clutching the seal of the Conclave that held his cloak, he spoke a single word.


The teleporting spell took effect, and Justarius was gone.


Janus sat back down on his chair, reaching for his tea. It had cooled down during the past few minutes, and he cursed, thinking that he should have changed the young mage into a peacock after all. Well, it is more fitting to his pride, thought Janus. To a fool who passed the Test by cheating!

The thought of that brought him to thinking about Glenn. Magus had, years ago, killed the great knight Cyrus and cursed Glenn with the form of a frog. Ever since then, Glenn had kept a hostile attitude toward Magus that simply would not vanish. Janus had been thinking about that for the past few days, in fact, he had been thinking about that for the past three years. He thought back to the time when he and the other six had camped out in the woods near Fiona’s shrine. During that time, they had discussed this theory about “gates”, a theory that Janus was beginning to understand better. That all that they have gone through and changed was almost like the life of an entiy, being changed at certain parts that the “entity” had, apparently, wanted to be changed. Janus had a vague idea of what this entity was, but still it was only a theory. To him, this entity was a manefestation of the seven chosen ones’ (him and the others) desires, their past shame, their subconsious. Apparently, what they had changed was for the better. Fiona had accomplished her dream of rebuilding the great forest due to the seven, and Medina village became a peaceful (if somewhat hippie-like) town. Cyrus’s ghost was put to rest, and many other events that were accomplished seemed to help the seven in some way or another, as well as others.

“Maybe this my manefestation,” thought Janus. “Maybe it is time that Glenn should walk free, as a human being.” though extremely hostile and arrogant, Janus, like all other magi, understood the Balance. That no force, not good nor evil, should be given an upper hand. Both forces must equal out in order to keep the Balance. That was just the way things were. He remembered trying to explain that to an irritated Glenn, during his visit to Cyrus’s grave.

“We magi recognize that there must be a balance in the world,” Magus had tried to explain. “Darkness follows the day, both are necessary for our continued existence. Thus the Law, laid down centuries ago, when magic was finally restricted to all but wizards, respects both the dark and light. They ask that, in turn, all magi respect the Law, which had been laid down over the centuries in order to protect magic and those who practice it. The loyalty of any wizard must be to the magic first, all other causes second.”

Needless to say, Glenn had not been convinced. He had remarked about his amphibian form, sarcastically asking if it was as a result of the “Balance” or not. Now as Janus thought about that remark, the more he felt the need to balance the scales once more.

Suddenly, Janus remembered something that had been told to him by Crono. It was when he and the others got Princess Nadis’s pendant to work again, and were exiled by Magus (disguised as a prophet) out of the Kingdom of Zeal and back to where they came from. During the time when the party was using Marle’s pendant to open treasure chests and doors long ago sealed by the pendant, they came across the Elemental Palace, seemingly intact, in the year 1000 A.D., near a village named Medina. They had used the pendant in the “Forest Ruins”, breaking the seal on the remains of the palace. When the seal was broken, a Nu appeared next to two sealed treasure chests. Crono had picked one of the chests (Janus could not remember which one--it was unimportant at the moment), but before he did that, the Nu said something:

“Thirteen thousand years was a long time, guru Belthasar. I shall be seeing you shortly...”

Janus stroked his chin, deep in thought. He tried to remember back to when he was but a spoiled prince, a boy of about ten or eleven years of age. Back to when he was recieving magic lessons from the three gurus. When he wasn’t trying to learn magic, he was learning history. One of these history lessons was in his mind as Janus struggled to remember...


“Belthasar, why must I learn this garbage?” asked an angry Janus. The old man looked at the boy in a manner that one would look at an annoying pest. His features softened, however, and he explained.

“My boy, you can learn a lot from history.” he said. “Certainly more than you could learn from arithmetic or geometry, or possibly even science! No my lad, it is history that is important. Time flows like a river, and history repeats itself.” pulling out a relatively new book from the folds of his robes, Belthasar emphasized what he had said earlier. “We must find out the ways that history repeats, find the mistakes that others before us had made and keep from repeating them. Look here, for instance.” Belthasar flipped the cream-colored pages of the book, searching attentively for a certain section. Janus, already bored, amused himself by dangling a piece of string in front of Alfador, whom he had secretly brought with him, knowing that the guru didn’t approve of him bringing his cat to his lessons. It was too distracting, Belthasar had said. Janus, like any other hot-headed youth, ignored the old fart’s protests and did what he felt like. Alfador, only a little kitten then, was batting at the string with enthusiasm, his sky-blue eyes following the string like a Tiger eyes his quarry. Hunching down, the kitten lept up, his paw swiping the string, only to miss and fall on Janus’s lap (on all fours), making a pitifully cute meow. Janus could not help but to laugh at this, and in doing so caught the attention of Belthasar. Belthasar, seeing that Janus had once again brought Alfador, seethed in anger and frustration.

“Janus, how many times have I told you not to bring that blasted cat with you to your lessons?! This is the last straw! I will take him out personally.” he said, placing the book on the marble table that they were sitting at and rising out of his chair. His hands reached out for Alfador, who had jumped up on to the table for a better view. As the old man drew nearer, Alfador hissed, jumping up on Janus’s shoulders and trying to hide himself from the guru. Belthasar was about to grab the cat when he noticed how Janus was looking at him. It was a gaze of anger, or pure hatred. Those violet eyes could not conceal it. Belthasar was shocked; he had never witnessed such violent emotions from young Janus, even when this had happened before. Wringing his hands, he stepped back and sat down into his chair. Janus seemed to cool down then, reaching to pet Alfador’s lavender fur. Belthasar sighed. Those two are inseperable, he thought. Picking up the book again, he spoke.

“This book is a working of mine, it contains historical information gathered by me and countless other historians. I want you to keep it with you, and most importantly, to read it.”

Janus looked at the book with a feigned interest. The title was “The Mystery of Life”, or something like that. He picked up the book and placed it in front of him, yawning, making a mental note to take it with him befoer he left, just to appease the boring old man who was his tutor.


“Yes, I remember!” Janus exclaimed, almost spilling his cold tea all over the floor. Alfador tilted his head, uttering a questioning meow. Janus patted his cat on the head, smiling.

“Yes, it was “The Mystery of Life’ if I can remember correctly. There was a section in there if I can remember correctly, one on Nus’...” Janus hastily got up, finally knocking his tea cup over. The cup shattered, tea spilling over the carpeted floor. But Janus did not notice. He had other things on his mind. Janus walked down the hall near his living room, until he reached a torch-lit study, adorned with tapestries and dull furniture. Standing in the room, Janus uttered a series of arcane syllables:

“Dagch Magch Czech.”

A large, ornate tapestry depicting the fall of the Kingdom of Zeal slowly became opaque, transparent, then vanished completely. In its place was a pair of metal doors, holding no locks. Yet Janus had created the doors; he knew differently. Breathing a signle word of magic, he held his hands together in a praying positing, slowly moving them apart from each other. The doors slowly opened, and stopped when Janus stopped motioning with his hands. He entered the room behind the doors, and they shut behind him.

The room was large, and it hadn’t deen used in a long time. Dust coated the floor and shelves, and the air smelled old and musty. Janus sneezed, convering his face and making a sweeping gesture. The dust that was coating every surface gathered into a large pile in the center of the room. Janus’s hand went through several complicated movements, and when he snapped his fingers, the dust vanished. He grinned. The Conclave would soon find a large pile of dust in their meeting room, and would probably wonder how it got there for some time.

The room was larger than most of the other rooms in the house (excluding the spellcasting chamber). It was lit by a glass chandelier that hung from the ceiling, seemingly about to fall down. Several oil lamps were placed at the corners of the room, providing more light. The furniture consisted of several large bookshelves that lined the walls, and a few chairs placed around a small table. It was Janus’s personal library, where he kept what he considered important; tomes of knowledge, long forgotten in a kingdom long since gone, and unable to be found in any of the human settlements. Books lined the bookshelves, covered by a thin coating of dust. Janus knew what he was looking for. He walked toward the center bookshelf, taking a rather old looking book, flipping pages that had once been cream-colored, pausing to look at the title.

“The Mystery of Life: A Compilation of Notes Concerning the History of Man and the Phenomena of Life.” below the title, signed in flowing golden script, was the name of the author of the book: Guru Belthasar.

“C’mon, I know you read me this section once...” Janus said, flipping pages. “Where is it? Ah, here we are.” He reached the chapter that he was looking for. The chapter contained all that was known or speculated about the most enigmatic form of life on the planet: the Nu.

“...have been around since the beginning of our world...” Janus read, walking out of the library. So absorbed was he in this book that he forgot to safeguard his library. Remembering that, he silently chided himself, and spoke the words to seal the chamber once more.


The doors to the hidden library shut promptly behind Janus, and faded away. On the wall again was the ornate tapestry, effectively hiding any trace of the room. Janus walked swiftly out of the hallway and back into the living room, sitting on a couch next to Alfador. The cat sleepily mewed, halfway opening his eyes to see his friend, then shut them, falling back to sleep. It was dusk, around 10:00 at night. But Janus was invigorated by his discovery of the book: one that he had stashed away years ago and hadn’t considered important until now. He began to read again.

“The Nu (which isn’t their true name; what it is we shall never know) are a complex and extrordinary species, one that we, even in our enlightened state (Janus snorted a this comment), still only have brief information of. Therfore, I, Belthasar, have taken it upon myself to gather as much information on these creatures as possible...” Janus scanned the pages, looking for anything useful. He remembered Belthasar telling him a theory he had on Nus...

“...apparently have been on this world since it began, but there is no archaeological or physical evidence of Nus around, nothing but cave paintings and ancient legends, dating back to prehistoric times...” Janus read on. “...we have long since learned to make docile servants of these ‘Nu’. They seem to understand quite well our language, as well as other languages of this planet. The Nu are very powerful, almost unbeatable. Apparently, they have a very lengthy life span, for I have found no Nu ‘children’ (assuming if they do have children). The one drawback of these Nu is that they tend to sleep--a lot. Especially when they are on duty. I have no explanation for this phenomena at the moment. However, this trait makes the Nu an easy target for hypnosis, which is how we have harnessed the creatures’ ablilities for ourselves. Before we learned how to do this, the Nus ignored us and the Earthbound ones completely...”

Janus bookmarked the page, his mind racing. He had already laid out a plan on what to do; he needed this Nu in order to dispel the curse he had placed upon Glenn years ago. There have not been any “gates” around the area since Lavos was destroyed, and Janus did not have the knowledge to create--no, to open the tear in dimensional fabric. According to Belthasar’s analysis, Nus lived practically forever. This would make the creature an excellent vessel for the counter-curse. Janus procured a piece of paper and a quill pen from a nightstand next to him, and took thsoe with him into his spellcasting chamber. Closing the door behind him, Janus stood in the darkness for a moment, reveling in it.


Once again, the globe of magical light formed, illuminating the area with a pale blue light. Janus walked over to his desk, opening the drawer and removing his personal book of notes. He opened to a page in the middle of the book, a spell that he had written while under the tutalege of Ozzie, Flea, and Slash. Flea had been his magic instructor, bringing out the power in his that was long dormant. She was not kind tutor; her lessons were harsh and painful, yet they did their job. Janus chuckled, remembering how he had paid her and the other two back for their years of work. Bite the hand that feeds you, he mused.

The spell was one that he had learned along with the spape-changing spell. It was a counter for the former, it would dispel the polymorph no matter how long the spell had been in effect. Janus’s eyes scanned the paper, reading the requirements for the spell. It required a quill pen for writing; preferably of a strrong feather. Janus’s pen was made from the feather of a raven, strong and efficient. Most others, made of feathers from quails or pidgeons, would crack and sputter easily, but not this one. The ink was to be blood, of any animal. Janus would not even slightly consider using Alfador’s. He pulled a dagger from his boot and laid it in front of him, along with an ink bottle. Grasping the hilt, Janus slowly cut a line along his lower wrist. The blade of the dagger cut into his pale skin, and a slow moving stream of blood followed. Janus did not even flinch as he directed the blood into the ink bottle. He stopped when the bottle contained a shallow but efficient supply of his lifeblood. Janus then wrapped cloth around his cut wrist, pressing hard until he was sure the blood had stopped flowing. Magi never squandered their powers, so he did not cast a healing spell. The blood would clot eventually.

Janus flattened the parchment with his hands, removing his leather gloves for the task. He held the pen in his fingers, stopping a moment to think of what he would write. He had time, since the actual imbuing of magic was after the words have been written. After a few minutes, Janus nodded, dipping the pen in his blood and writing.

“Consider this an act of pity, not goodwill.” wrote Janus.“The Nu are as old as time and almost eternal, and their memory sharp though they are lazy, so I was able to make this one an able courier. Heed my message: you are free. I release you, Glenn, knight of Guardia. Maybe this will change your feelings toward me, maybe not. I could care less. But there is no need for your present state anymore. Farewell.”

Janus put down the pen, deciding whether he should sign the paper or not. He eventually decided not to, waiting until the blood ink dried, and he rolled up the parchment. He knew that it must have seemed strange to mention “this Nu an able courier”, but it would make sense when he found a Nu to be the vessel of the counter-curse.

Now came the part of magic. Janus had to say the incantation, and then the counter-curse would be ready. Holding the rolled up parchment tightly in on hand, Janus closed his eyes, speaking not in the language of magic, but in the common tounge.

Counter the curse, o shining force
the one, true power of this Earth
Take back what was once punishment
And restore the Balance once more

Free this man from form of beast
Balance the forces of Good and Evil
Darkness comes not without Light,
Nor does Life without Death

Janus opened his eyes, tightening his grip on the parchment. He spoke now in the language of magic, the string of commands that would allow the counter-curse to set in.

“Ast sularus tsasarak ginji kamjinn!”

The scroll in which the counter-curse was to be placed shined bright blue in the pale light of the chamber. Janus felt the magic course through him, from all around him. The power spread through his entire body, making his blood rush. The energy found its way into the scroll, and there it stayed. Janus had set it so that it would only release its magic once Glenn opened the scroll and read it. When that was done, the parchment would turn to dust. Now the only task left to perform was to find a Nu to be the vessel of the cure.

Yet this act of creating the counter-curse had exhausted Janus. He placed the magic scroll in a scroll case, clippping it to his belt. He left the chamber, not even bothering to put away his materials. He did remember one thing though.

“Dumak.” spoke Janus, and the magical light once again was extinguished. With that done, Janus shut the door behind him, wearily walking toward the couch in the living room. Without another word, he plopped down on the soft furniture and soon fell fast asleep, unconsiously clutching the amulet, the parting gift from his sister.


It was day. The sun shone with a brilliance, and nature basked in its glow. Birds sang, insects busied themselves with food gathering. Even the human village was awake, people going about their business. The sun warmed the land, providing a relaxing contrast to the cool wind that blew.

Janus felt the warmth on his face, heard Alfador purring loudly in his ear, a message that his friend was hungry and wanted to be outside on this bright, sunny day. Janus mumbled as he woke up, slowly opening his eyes. Bright light streamed into them, and Janus blinked, his vision blurry. He rubbed the sleep dust out of his eyes, slowly sitting up. After a moment, Janus stretched, going to wash himself with cold water in order to wake himself up. That done, he walked outside and let his cat outdoors also. There were four days until the meeting of the Conclave Elders, plenty of time for Janus to complete his task. There was a Nu that lived in the Human village, or at least there was last time Janus checked. He doubted that it had left, since it was a weapon seller. In fact, it was the very weapon seller that was in the city of Kajar in Zeal, while it was still floating in the sky. Most of the other Nus seemed to have died or dissappeared along with the rest of the floating continent. The weapon smith was the only Nu that Janus had come across in the land, and he had been almost all over every spot of dry land, searching for Schala, and he had not seen any other Nus. Plausible, thought Janus, since there were few Nus in the other time eras. How did they live so long? Janus shrugged. Maybe that was something no one would ever know.


Janus was walking down a cobbled road, paved by humans, toward the village. He had wrapped himself in a dark purple cloak for warmth. Even though the sun was shining, the wind still blew fiercly. The human village, or Earthbound village, lay in the horizon, no longer the pitiful settlement of ragged survivors but now a thriving city, with houses or wood and stone, surrounded by tall stone walls and battlements for protection. Janus’s respect for humans went up another notch. These creatures, in only a matter of four years, had grown from virtually nothing into a booming town. And even though Janus shunned the Conclave of Wizards, he had to admit that it was a well-organized group, and that it brought order and discipline to its members.

Soon Janus was near the gates of the town. Looking at the wooden sign above, he could see the word “Truce” carved gracefully into the wood. He chuckled. Obviously the name was a throwback to four years back, when humans and “enlightened” ones were forced to work together to survive in the cold, desolate land. But still, some distrusts remain, thought Janus as he noticed the odd warning look that the town guards were giving him. He raised an eyebrow, smiling slightly, unabashed. Let these fools fear me, he thought. The weak always strive to be weaker, after all.

Once inside the walls, the town was thriving. People walked through the roads on their way to bazzars or to their work. Green grass grew on the sides of the road, carefully tended for and trimmed. A cherry tree or two could be seen, their pink blossoms swaying in the spring wind. People parted when Janus came through, as if in awe or fear. Children stared at him with eyes full of detestion and admiration mixed together. He frowned, disliking the attention, feeling like it smothered him. He was grateful when he reached the weapon’s shop at last, easily found due to its sign with a sword hanging over the door.

The shop was roomy, with racks of swords hanging on one of the walls, followed by spears, axes, and other, more complex or unique weapons such as the bardiche, fauchard, or glaive-guisarme. Behind a counter at the end of the shop, an old man stood, waiting for customers. Janus’s brow furrowed. Where was the Nu?

“Can I help you?” asked the old man, carefully handling a Bec De Corbin as he spoke, gazing at the can-opener like weapon with interest. Janus spoke, carefully choosing his words as to not draw suspicion.

“Well, yes. I requested the smithy to construct for me a ceratin weapon, one that I am checking up on now. I just wanted to have a word with him, if you don’t mind.”

The old man, eyeing him dubiously, said, “He’s gone out for the day, collecting firewood for the forge. Are you sure I won’t be able to procure what you are needing?”

Janus shook his head. “No, but thank you anyway.” he said, walking with impatience out of the store. He knew where the evergreen forests were, and that was probably where the Nu was, as well. Janus swiftly made his way through the crowd, passing out of the gates of Truce, walking in the general direction of North Cape.

When Janus was out of sight in the distance, a shadowy figure made its way out of behind the town walls. He whispered an arcane syllable, and became invisible, silently stalking his target.


The forests were full of the sounds of life, it being spring time. The ground was littered with pine needles and moss. Janus walked silently through the forest, searching. He was intent upon finding the Nu. The ordeal of creating a counter-curse had temporarily drained him, as it was the curse of all magi to have their strength drained whenever they use magic. The larger the spell, the more it sapped from you. Thus Janus was weary, the night of sleep not helping him much.

There was a loud snapping sound, and as Janus paused to listen, he heard nothing. He looked down at the forest floor, seeing branches and twigs along with the other debris. Janus slowly made his way around the twigs, making sure that he didn’t step on another. He didn’t like fumbling. He was normally able to avoid these things.

“Must be the counter-curse.” he thought wearily, truding onward. Then, ahead in a clearing in the forest, was the Nu. The blue creature was busily gathering a cord of wood, the weight of it not affecting him the least. Once in a while, he would make a small noise (“Nu!”), hence the name of his race (or the name given to them). Janus walked up to the Nu, not entirely sure how to persuade this creature, but willing to try nontheless.

There was another snap of the twigs on the forest floor. Irritated, Janus ignored his weariness and looked on the path, seeing for any debris. There was none. Suddenly a great roar could be heard behind him, and he spun around. It was, at least it looked like, an ogre. A huge one. Advancing toward Janus at a fast pace. Janus acted quickly: he leaped aside as the ogre brought its huge fist into the soft earth where the magus was standing only a second ago. The ogre looked around, growling.

There were some words in the ancient tounge of magic, and then a spear of flame hurtled toward the ogre, striking it, engulfing the creature in flame. Janus laughed, exhulting in his victory. His cackle of victory changed to a curse, however, when he saw the creature walk out of the flames, untouched.

“A spell ogre!” said Janus. Of course, he knew what it was. The magic required for summoning a beast such as this was immense. It required knowledge of “Shadow” magic, as well as the ability to harness the creature at your command. Janus smirked. He knew how to deal with such creatures. Retrieving a small, square piece of parchment from his pocket, and his quill pen from another, Janus seemed to study the massive creature of magic before he did anything. Then, apparently satisfied, he quickly but carefully wrote a runic character on the paper, using swift, bold strokes. Holding the paper between his middle and forefinger, Janus uttered a single, but deadly, word.


The paper, the rune etched upon it glowing red, flew from Janus’s hand toward the spell ogre, attaching itself to the creature’s forehead. The ogre gave a roar of anger, then turned into a pile of dust, as did the rune Janus had created. On top of the pile of ashes was another rune etched on paper.

Janus felt weakened. His vision was blurring, and in it he could see the Nu, who had witnessed the horrifying spectacle without any emotion whatsoever. The last thing he saw was the Nu hobbling up to him before he passed out, exhausted.



Pain. His head was throbbing, and he felt weak all over. He wanted to fall back into the cold, enveloping darkness... but Janus could not ignore that command, and his will to live was strong. He opened his eyes, seeing light from the sun and the canopy of trees that covered most of the top of the forest. And then there was the Nu.

Janus blinked, confused. “Wha...”

The Nu spoke, it’s mouth forming words in the strange, almost hollow voice of Nus. “Trouble. There’s more where that came from.” he said, pointing toward the pile of ashes that was once the spell ogre. “Leave. Quickly.”

Janus struggled to stand, falling to the ground after an unsecessful attempt. The Nu placed one of its thin, rubbery arms on Janus’s shoulder, and with a single tug, lifted Janus off the ground and on his feet. The Nu’s appearence defied its strength. Janus was not suprised as a casual observer would be, but he had clearly not expected anything like this.

“Go.” the Nu spoke. Janus felt compelled to obey that hollow, unearthly voice, but he then remembered why he had searched for this Nu. His mind was blank on finding a way to compell this Nu to carry out his plan...


“...job is finished.” said the recorded voice of Belthasar, echoing throughout the metal room. “I ask that you let him rest. The switch is located on his stomach....”


Janus blinked. How he had remembered something like that, a memory four years old, was beyond him. But that was beside the point. Janus now knew what he had to do.

“Leave, or I shall use force.” said the Nu, a note of impatience in his voice. Janus, still weakened but not to the point of swooning, looked down at the Nu.

What strange creatures, he thought. They have been around since the birth of this planet, yet they seem... otherworldly. And their strength, their life span... almost as if these beings were engineered...

Quickly, so fast that the Nu had no time to react, Janus brought his fist down where he assumed the creature’s stomach was. He felt a tough object hidden in the folds of blue flesh, which clicked when his fist made contact with it. Almost immediately there was a reaction. The Nu staggered, standing upright but shaking. It opened its mouth, as if in suprise. Suddenly it began to speak. It spoke in a beautiful, melodious language that seemed to come from the Nu itself and not from its vocal chords. Janus stared uncomprehendingly, observing the spectacle.

Suddenly, the melodius voice stopped, and this time the Nu spoke the common tounge, one that Janus could easily identify with. It spoke in seemingly fragmented sentences, so that one could not entirely understand what it was saying.

“...incorporation of polarized silicon cells will ensure survival in environmental extremes...” rambled the Nu, not in his hollow voice, but an almost synthetic one. “ subconsious...” the voice continued, punctuated by hissings of static. Then suddenly it looked at Janus directly in his cold, lavender eyes, the ramblings replaced by the Nu’s original voice. “Protect life.” it said. “In all stages...” then it made a garbled noise, the Nu’s beady eyes blinking rapidly. “Awaiting command.”

Janus laughed, a harsh, grating sound. He knew. He should have known all along. Oh, no one else would understand, of course. Not even if they had Belthasar’s notes on the subject. But Janus... somehow he knew! As if the incoherent sentences were to him, an open book, full of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions in the history of the world...

“Do you understand my speech?” asked Janus.

“Affirmative.” answered the Nu, in the synthetic voice.

Janus placed a gloved hand on the Nu’s shoulder. “You will take this,” he said, handing the Nu the counter-curse written on the parchment. “and you will give it to a man named Glenn, in the year 600 A.D. He can be found in the cursed woods, north of Porre. He is in the form of a species of rana, and should be easy to find. Do you understand?”

The Nu nodded once. “Affirmative.”

Janus patted the Nu on the shoulder, smiling. The knowledge poured into him like a stream of gold. Belthasar would be extremely jealous, thought Janus, even he wouldn’t have guessed about...this. “End of Transmission.” said Janus, rising to his full height. The Nu just blinked, then as if coming to its senses, hobbled away from Janus and went back to its task of gathering firewood. Janus grinned. He no longer felt weak, at least not physically. The sudden epiphony had revealed to him some of the greatest secrets of the known universe, and answered them in full. “Knowledge is power...”

Janus’s gaze went to the pile of ashes that was once the spell ogre. He walked over there, kicking aside ashes as he picked up the rune that was used to invoke the creature. Janus’s eyes opened wide for a moment. There was one who knows the black arts, and apparently he was trying to dispatch me... Janus thought. Then me unexpectedly laughed his grating laugh, crushing the paper on which the evil rune was written.


“Fool!’ he shouted. “You wish to challenge me? Bring it on, then! I have ten times the knowledge and power of every wizard on this wretched planet, and fighting me will only bring your destruction!” Janus gasped slightly, feeling again the gnawing presence of the black wind, quietly shrieking in his mind. “Prepare for the void...” he said solemnly. Janus procured an ether from his purple cloak, and drank the mixture until the glass bottle was empty. He felt a surge of energy, greater than an adrenaline rush, greater than a sexual climax, far greater than any power trip or ecstasy ever experienced. It was the power of mana flowing through his veins. Absolute power...

“Krynau Tsaroth!” said Janus harshly, wrapping his cloak around him, dissapearing into nothingness as the teleportation spell took affect.

In the shadows of the oak trees, another dark and menacing figure cursed. “So be it. If he wants a fight, then a fight he shall have!” The figure snapped his fingers, uttering a word of magic, then sank into the ground, the only thing visible a fragment of red robes.


It was the seventh day of the seventh month. The meeting of the elders of the Conclave of Wizards was taking place. In a vast, ornately decorated room of the Tower of High Scorcery, three archmagi were sitting down around a round table made of polished wood. A chalice filled with hot tea was in the center of the table, and several goblets were filled with the steaming brew. However, not one of the triumvurate touched their drinks. They had more dire matters at hand.

“By the Gods, it has been three hours and still he’s not here!” spoke the red-robed elder. “I saw we go on without him.”

A harsh glare from the elder in white robes silenced the red robed one’s complaints. “Fallagar, we will have this meeting with Magus, and we will not start without him! Is that clear?”

Fallagar, the elder of Fire magic, growled silently but gave no more complaints. Nimuul, the elder of Lightning magic, was not one to trifle with. The soothing controlatto voice of a female pierced the silence that followed the two Elders’ argument.

“I, for one, agree with Nimuul. But--if you’ll pardon my language--that Magus is certainly taking his damn time!” Hepsis, elder of Water magic, spoke. Her hair was silver, and flowed down to her waist, and she had eyes as green as the dark patches of a forest. Though at old age, she didn’t look (except for her hair) a day over twenty. Nimuul, on the other hand, had an appearence that matched his age. His hair was long and white, reaching his shoulders. he had an equally white beard, but his eyes were deep blue and youthful. Fallagar was the youngest by five years. He had short red hair that was streaked with gray, and a clean cut brown goatee. His eyes were hazel, angry, and impatient. yet Fallagar did not become an elder by impatience. He knew his limits, as did everyone else.

Nimuul sighed wearily. “I know Magus is a man of his word. He will be here, you can count on it.”

Fallagar remained unconvinced. “That pointy-eared bastard better do it quick, then.” he said “Or by the Gods, I’ll--”

“You’ll what?” came a deep, menacing voice from the front of the room. The elders, suprised, turned swiftly toward the direction of the voice. There, in front of the doors, stood Magus, looking ever-so ominous and threatining in his dark purple cloak. Locks of silvery-blue hair were dangling out of the depths of his hood, and his lavender eyes shined from within the darkness of it. The elders were stunned; only Hepsis was brave enough to be the first one to extend the greetings. “Greetings, Magus.” she said. “We are honored by your prescense.” in time, the same phrase was repeated by the other two elders, and they all bowed low in reverence.

Magus bowed low, returning the elders’ show of respect. “As I am of yours.” he said, with a slight sneer in his voice but not one of disdain. “I believe you mentioned ‘matters of dire urgency and of the utmost importance’ in your invitation, yes? Pray, tell me what troubles all of you so?”

The Elder triumvurate sat down in their chairs, and Magus sat down in the fourth one brought for him. Nimuul of the white robes was the first to speak.

“You know what this matter is, Magus. A disturbance, felt diffrently by each individual but felt nontheless. To us, it was like a tremendous loss of life. It is no good omen, and we must look into it.”

Magus raised an eyebrow. “Why did you request my presence?” he said, although he knew the answer already.

Nimuul answered immediately, as if anticipating the question. “We represent three of the groups of magic: Fire, Water, Lightning. You are the only magi that has knowledge of Shadow, and we needed you to have present all of the forces of magic, to maintain the Balance.” the other two elders nodded.

Magus smiled slightly. “I guessed as much.” he said nonchalantly. “Other than this disturbance, has there been anything else like it? Anything at all?” Magus snapped his fingers, and the chalice of tea rose off of the table, pouring its contents into a goblet, which floated toward his hand when it was filled. The chalice lowered itself gently upon the table, and Magus sipped the green tea, the aroma clearing his nostrils.

Fallagar frowned. “We do not take liking to magi who flaunt their skills, Magus.” he said darkly. “It shames the Conclave.”

Magus glanced toward the Elder of the red robes. “I might remind you that I am no member of the Conclave, and that you have no power over my actions!” he hissed.

“Please, stop this nonsense!” spoke Hepsis of the blue robes. “You are bickering like children. Now Magus, you mentioned something about something like the disturbance we felt, is that right?”

Magus looked toward the silver-locked woman, his respect for her rising another notch. Of all the elders, she seemed the most competent. “Yes, that is what I said.”

Nimuul rapidly interjected. “Did you feel the disturbance, Magus? I have no doubt that you did, but I wish to know how.”

Magus shuddered, remembering the chilling effects of the Black Wind. He stared at Nimuul right in the eyes. The elder did not flinch, his sad eyes locked into Magus’s lavender ones. “That is none of your business, Nimuul.” said Magus. “I believe I mentioned something about another disturbance. Now, if we could stop being rudely interrupted,” he said, giving harsh glances to Nimuul and Fallagar. “maybe we might learn something.”

Fallagar, still angry but willing to help, spoke. “Though I was not an archmagi at the time, I remember the disturbance when Lavos destroyed Zeal Kingdom 4 years ago.” he said. “Just yesterday, we have felt a similar disturbance. Not the same, mind you, but just similar. We do not know if it is Lavos--”

“Lavos is dead.” stated Magus bluntly. “I, with the help of others, have destroyed him and all of his spawn in this world.”

“Nevertheless,” said Hepsis in her soothing voice, “we cannot overlook the fact that it is similar to the disturbance that Lavos caused. Maybe it is him, maybe not. The best guess would be another spawn, but then again it could be... something else.”

Magus smiled to himself. He knew. These fools were on the right track, but they did not know as much as he did. The information absorbed from the Nu (by a process still unknown to Magus) had asserted his fears, and he knew how to deal with them. But he would not just tell the elders. He would explain slowly so that they could grasp the concept firmly.

“I believe I know that these disturbances portend.” said Magus. The elders all looked toward him with a wary interest. “Allow me to explain...”


“...therfore, we must act quickly, lest the problem gets worse.” Magus said, finishing up his explanation. The triumvurate of elders were all wrestling with the concept. It was not a very common theory, but then again it was not impossible.

“Are you certain of this, Magus?” asked Fallagar, giving him a wary look. Magus glanced toward the elder, anger in his voice.

“Yes, I am!” he said harshly. “And if you do not believe me, then go ahead and walk blindly into your destruction!”

Hepsis fixed Magus with her piercing gaze. “I believe you.” she said. “Out of curiosity, however, I would like to know how you came across this information.”

“Yes, I too wonder at this strange turn of events.” said Nimuul. “How did you...”

Magus banged his hands on the table, his lavender eyes burning with anger. “That is not for you to know!” he hissed. “I am not one of your lackeys that answers to you! I do my work alone... and I shall leave if you people don’t stop pestering me!” suddenly Magus clutched his head, screaming.

Hepsis looked at him with suprise and concern. “Magus! What is wrong?” But Magus could not hear her, nor the pleas of the other elders. The Black Wind stabbed at him like spears of ice, reducing Magus to a tortured shell, writhing and screaming. Fallagar looked at the magi with fear in his eyes. Nimuul, however, got up off of his chair and walked toward Magus. He placed a hand on his feverish forehead, whispering some arcane words. Almost immediately Magus stopped writhing and screaming. Peace settled upon him like a warm blanket, soothing his soul. Nimuul made his way back to his seat, his sad blue eyes scanning Magus. The dark mage sat up, coughing.

“Water...” he whispered, barely heard. Hepsis helped him stand and directed him toward the nearst communal water bucket. Magus walked out of the door, pausing before he left.

“Nimuul.” he said, and the old mage looked at him. “Thank you.” and with that, he walked out of the door and down the halls of the Tower, finally reaching the bucket. Once there, he retched, coughing, fighting back the nausea and pain that the Black Wind invoked within him. Janus took hold of the gourd that was used as a cup, and drank three full helpings of the cold water, taking time to breathe haggardly in between drinks. He let out a deep breath, finally feeling at ease. Looking at the water-clock on the wall, Janus saw that it had been thirty minutes since he had left the elders. He frowned, pondering, then shrugged, making his way back to the elders’s room. Once there, however, he was in for a suprise.

“What the...”

The polished wood table was split in two. Fallagar was lying in a heap of red robes, his blood spreading across the floor, matching his robes. He had been struck in the back of the head, Magus noted, probably by a force bolt. Pieces of skull and brain matter were splattered on the floor near the dead elder. Nimuul was also blood stained, though he had been hit in the midsection, and was still alive. He was being cradled in Hepsis’s arms while she casted a healing spell, laying her gentle hands on the wound. Magus rushed up to the two remaining elders.

“What... who did this?” he asked with sincere concern. Hepsis finished her spell, gently laying Nimuul down on the floor, tears in her beautiful green eyes.

“It was... Justarius...”

Magus raised his eyebrows. “What? Why would he do a thing like this?” he demanded. “And how did he do it? Last time I recall, he was only an apprentice, recently having passed his Test (by cheating, Magus added to himself). He couldn’t do this, unless...”

“That is right, Magus!” came a shreiking voice from above. “And you shall meet your doom just like the others!” Justarius fell from above and landed on his feet on the broken table. His robes were stained with the blood of the elders, and lightning crackled in his hands. But he was a Fire mage, and couldn’t control Lightning! Unless...

Magus narrowed his eyes, sneering at the young mage. “So, you whelp, you have decided to take the dark path, yes? Thinking you can control the magic of Shadow? You have a lot to learn, boy... and I do not take people who send spell ogres after me kindly.”

Hepsis, tears in her eyes, defiantly rose to meet the young renegade’s gaze. “How could you, Justarius? After we nurtured the gift of magic within you...”

Justarius growled, waving his hand, knocking Hepsis down on the floor with a gust of wind. “My name is not Justarius anymore!” he screeched, hurling a fireball toward the stone wall where it exploded, raining rocks down on the floor. “Justarius is dead! My name... is Shin!”

Shin. It was the word used in the most deadly of Shadow magicks, one for spells that involved death. The spell Magus had used to destroy the spell ogre was an example of this, and so was the spell “Black Hole.” Magus looked at the man who had once been Justarius with a look of pure hatred and malice.

“So be it, Shin.” he spat the mage’s name out with disgust. “However, do not think that you can master the dark arts. They will consume you and tear you apart, and discard your withered husk...”

“Shut up!” screamed Shin. “Look at you! You are still intact! Don’t give me that load of excrement! You let the darkness consume you! I can handle the powers of darkness! I will let them flow through me... consume me... and be at my command!”

Hepsis was weeping next to Nimuul’s resting body. Magus spared her a glance, then spoke. “No, Justarius, you are wrong.” he said, using the mage’s real name. “I did not let the darkness consume me. I braved it, and came out intact. I was the darkness’s master, not its puppet, as you are. And I will not suffer the horrifying fate you arte bound for... as a boy who cannot control the powers of darkness, and as a cheater and a failure of the Test!”

“SHUT UP!!” screamed Shin, hurling lightning at the ceiling. “I don’t care! I will be the master of darkness! I will surpass you, Magus! And I will kill you all!” he said, clapping his hands together, his red robes flapping in the unexpected wind, his hood thrown back, his long black hair swirling. He spoke a few words of magic, punctuated by “Shin” at regular intervals. Then, pointing toward Magus and the two elders, he shouted a single arcane word, a black ball of fire flying toward the three. Magus cursed, then spoke.

“Ast Sularus Karkonesti!” a wall of blue energy surrounded the three. The black fireball hit the shield, fizzling out on impact. Magus lept up, pointing a finger toward Shin, and a ray of cold air hit the young mage, slamming him into the wall, encasing his arms and fet in ice.

“You still wear the red robes...” said Magus, his scythe materializing in his hands. “And now, I shall do what the Test should have done to you long ago!” he said, walking toward Shin, the metal of the scythe gleaming.

Shin chuckled, spitting out blood. “Red robes, yes. I still wear them.” he said ominously. “But not for long!” his hands and feet flared with fire, and the ice binding him to the wall melted away. Shin stood in front of Magus defiantly. “Soon they will be black... as will your corpse when I am finished with it!”

Magus was undaunted. He grabbed the young mage by the collar of his robes, causing Shin to cry out as his protection spells fizzled out uselessly. Magus grinned, brandishing his scythe. For the first time, Shin looked directly into the eyes of Magus... and saw that he was looking at a demon, a man who had braved the darkness and came out alive, and who was the most powerful mage in the world...

“I will spare you for now.” said Magus, still grabbing Shin. The young mage almost sighed in relief, his bowels stopping their clenching. “But know this: I know of your plan, of the pact you made for you power.” at this, Shin whimpered softly, but then boldly curled his lip at Magus. “And I assure you.. it shall fail. You will die, and your master’s ultimate plan is in ruin!” he shoved Shin against the wall, spitting on the mage. “Now go! And do not return!” Shin got up to his feet, casting a teleportation spell, the mage’s body dissappearing into nothing.

Hepsis looked up from where she had been lying. “Why didn’t you.. end his life?” she said. “Why did you spare him?”

Magus looked at her with compassion. “Because of what the disturbances are. I know that Justar--no, Shin is connected to them somehow, and I need him alive. He will go whimpering back to heal up, then will undoubtedly go to see his master... in that place.”

Hepsis looked shocked. “That place? Are you sure that you want to follow him there? From what you described, that realm is one where you might not return...”

Magus silenced her with a glance. “That is a risk that I must take... and I feel that I will not be alone.” he said, looking out a window into the night sky. “Maybe it’s fate... but I will probably see at least a few of... my allies over there. Who knows? It’s not Lavos... but it could be something just as deadly.” Magus stopped, turning toward Hepsis. “I must go now. I must prepare the spell to open the tear in space-time, in order to take me to that place. I have learned it at the same time that I learned of what the disturbances meant... I felt them as the Black Wind, like cold death...” he puased, then continued. “Farewell, Hepsis. Nimuul should be well shortly, though I can not say the same for Fallagar. I am sorry about his loss. He was rash, but made a good elder.” with that, Magus turned toward the window, speakign the words of magic that would teleport hiom back to his home.

Hepsis watched as he vanished. “Good luck... Janus...” she said when he was gone.


Janus entered his spellcasting chamber, followed by a curious Alfador. He walked toward his desk, scanning the room for anything that might disrupt the spell. He noticed Alfador by his feet, and smiled, picking up the cat.

“My friend, you must not follow me.” he said, stroking the cat’s lavender fur. “For I go where it could be dangerous for you... and I want you to be safe.” Janus closed his eyes, fighting back tears. “I already lost my home, the gurus, Schala... you are all I have left. Now go, and be safe!” he said, placing the cat outside of the chamber. Alfador gave his friend a sad look, mewed once, and left toward the living room. Janus sighed, shutting the door. Instantly the darkness closed over him, blinding him.


The room lit up from the ball of light, and Janus prepared to cast another spell, a very powerful one. He held his hands out, palms open, chanting. Blue energies swirled about the room, centering on a spot in front of Janus. Almost like a tear in paper, a gate, a rip in the fabric of space-time, began to tear open more and more, the blue energies keeping it open. When the gate was the size of Janus, he stopped the spell, and the gate stood where it was. He grinned, reveling in his acheivement, preparing for his journey.

“Dumak.” he said, and the chamber turned dark, illuminated only by the blue portal that was the gate. Janus wrapped his cloak tightly around him, making sure he had brought all that he needed, then proceeded to step into the portal. Before doing so, he noticed the leather-bound book on the desk. He picked it up, admiring it, gazing over the notes he had written over the course of years. He thought back th Zeal Kingdom, to his days as a child, before he had worked with Ozzie and the Mystics, with Flea and Slash, before his journey with his companions...

“Would I give it all back?” said Janus. “Would I trade all that I have learned... all of the power... to go back to those days, to be carefree again, to Schala, the gurus, to Queen Zeal...” Janus shuddered suddenly, frowning, then chuckled. With a haughty grin, he picked up his quill pen, turning the leather-bound book to the cover, dipping the pen in ink.

“I, Magus.” he wrote in bold, black calligraphic letters.

With a swift, bold stroke, he underlined it.


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