A Once Distant Memory Chapter 5
By Shaun Curran
Magus, Schala, Shikeo, and I, trailed by Alfador, walked through the streets of Pandora. Magus led, for I not only had no clue where we were, but did not particularly wish to be lost.
"Magus!" I finally shouted," how the hell are we expected to find Quelchen and Sarbll?" Magus simply stopped, and his eyes wandered at every bar and tavern along the street.
"Relax, Janus. This is Pandora. Every hard-ass criminal in the world passes by here sooner or later. Ah. There!" He pointed. A small sign above a door read," Quelchen's Gripes and Ales. Note: People I owe money to are not welcome." I suppressed a laugh.
We walked in. I almost passed out.
"Who is that?" I gulped. Magus smiled.
"That's Sarbll." I stared in horror and disgust and leaned back over to Magus.
"You didn't tell me Sarbll was a stripper!"
"Nor did I mention Quelchen was a drunk. Come on." Magus walked up to the bar.
"Yeah, whaddaya-" The man froze as recognition appeared on his face. "Magus! Didn't you read that sign on the door? People I owe money to are not-" Magus grabbed the man by his collar. He was pretty tall, even against Magus, and was dressed in a heavy jacket and slacks.
"Look, Quelchen, I'm not here for money. I'm here for a favor."
"Sure, Magus, what do you need?" Magus dropped Quelchen. Quelchen regained his dignity, and Magus continued.
"Have you seen Dalton around?" Quelchen looked quizzically at Magus.
"Dalton? He's by here often, but I hardly ever-"
"Have you seen him?" demanded Magus.
"He was here earlier. Was bragging to some old chap about being on the lam."
"He's running from us."
"Ah... And you came here for....?"
"I came here to ask you if you could lend us your sword and hand, and your knack for complaining, and help us defeat Dalton."
"But Dalton's just a servant!"
"So what? We'll worry about Dalton's master when the time comes."
"Dalton's master?" I asked. Both Quelchen and Magus answered.
"Lavos?" I asked.
"Lavos has been asleep for quite a while," Magus said hastily," it's nothing that can't wait." I sighed and nodded. I hate it when people know more than I don about these damn things. Magus ignored me and turned back to Quelchen.
"Can you help us?" Quelchen said nothing but placed a drink in front of another customer. Magus asked again.
"Dalton will know if I'm gone."
"I aim to destroy him and Kamus," I said," from my viewpoint, we need all the help we can get. Please, Quelchen: help us!" I gave my best little-boy face, pouting. Quelchen gave in.
"Fine, Magus: I will help you. But promise me one thing: you take me back to Pandora when you're done."
"Can do," Magus replied," I suppose that's an honest request." Quelchen turned his head over to Sarbll, who had stripped almost completely. Quelchen sighed, jumped up over the bar, and onto the floor. He reached behind him to the bar and took out a towel. Then he walked up to Sarbll, snapped the towel around her chest, and lifted her off the stage. There were grunts and groans from the audience.
"What do you think you're doing?" someone demanded.
"Cora!" Quelchen called. A young girl about Schala's age walked into the room.
"Yes, Quelchen?" she asked.
"Take care of these patrons while I'm gone."
"Yes, Quelchen," the girl replied. We walked out to the street.
The sun was low on the horizon when we exited the bar. Quelchen led us to a small, two-story place that was run down on the outside, and should have been condemned on the inside. I really did not feel tired and had other work to do anyway.
Belthasar's house was not that far from the place we were staying; about ten minutes' walk. Schala had gone there on numerous occasions; I had never been to his house until then. How I even remembered him was quite astonishing; I doubt I had even seen him in years.
"How can I help you?" Belthasar asked.
"It's me, Belthasar: Janus."
"Janus Zeal? Well, it is you. What brings you up around this neck of the woods?"
"It is a long story, Belthasar, I'd really rather not have to get into it right now."
"Something is troubling you. I can see it in your eyes." I finally wound up telling him everything, and in great detail as well, about the whole mess we had gotten into. He did not ask any questions; he seemed to understand everything.
"You have to get that pendant back, Janus."
"To be frank, I don't even know what it does!"
"You are the Guardian Shadow, right?"
"I know that. What does the pendant do?"
"That pendant is a trigger of sorts. Where did you get it?"
"I don't know. It just appeared on my dresser one morning. It was the day mom left."
"That pendant triggers the awakening of Lavos. Dalton has to have taken it for that reason. He's Lavos' servant."
"Who is this Lavos, a god of some kind?"
"Partially. I have something here... if I can find the blasted thing! Yes, here it is." Belthasar pulled out a tablet and rested it down in front of me.
"What is the writing on it?" I asked.
"I cannot decipher everything, but what I do know is this: Lavos is scheduled to awaken some time n the year 1999."
"And that's how many years away?" Belthasar laughed.
"It could be today, tomorrow, or a million years in the future. Right now your main concern is getting that thing back." He handed me a small pendant, made of pure silver. "This will give you partial invincibility. I say partial, because it will not keep you safe from magical attacks. Use it wisely, Janus! Too much strain on its powers will destroy it." I decided that it was time to go.
"Well," I said," I had better be going."
"Janus, you have gold? Go see Melanchior. He might have something you may need."
"What could I need?"
"Potions, anything. A dragon, perhaps?" I hated dragons.
"I don't know about dragons, but I'll go take a look anyhow."
So off I went to see the Melanchior. He was an odd sort of wizard; collected valuables such as swords and shields. I had met him on several different occasions when he came to Zeal to sell Schala some stuff. I doubt Schala bought anything, but I did: Alfador. Why I did so is beyond my comprehension, but I love Alfador and he loves me.
"Hello, Janus," he said as I walked in. "I knew you were coming."
"Hello, Melanchior. How did you know?"
"I saw you walking down the street, so I assumed you were coming here."
"You assumed correct," I replied. "I need help. Dalton and Kamus have stolen my Guardian Shadow pendant and I need to get it back." He stared at me with his eyes gaping.
"I tried to tell you about that pendant: to keep it locked up, but you wouldn't listen to me." Indeed he had. Stupid me.
"I apologize, Melanchior."
"No need to apologize to me; you have to apologize to the rest of the world. No matter: Lavos will awaken on his own time. But you need help, eh?" He reached under the table and took out a small clear flask with reddish liquid in it. "This is healing potion." A smile grew on my face. Exactly what I needed!
"Thank you," I said.
"Wait!" he said," one thing more." Another flask was given to me, this time with greenish liquid in it.
"This will protect you from poison attacks and such. A small bit of it will be sufficient. Use it sparingly." I attached both flasks by their drawstrings and tied them to my belt. I felt my sword.
"I think I need a lighter sword." Melanchior smiled.
"I can't give you any more, Janus, bad for-"
"No, no! I wouldn't dream of you giving me a sword, Melanchior. I do have some gold." I glanced around the room to the left wall. Swords covered the entire wall from top to bottom. Most were for people bigger than I was, but it did not matter. My eyes downcast to a small sword in the corner. I lifted it up and hefted it. Surprisingly lightweight!
"A young girl gave that to me a while back. She said it has some magical powers, but as for what, is beyond me." I swung the sword carefully. It sliced through the table next to me as easy as cutting cheese. I gasped. Melanchior waved his arms around.
"Janus! Be careful!" I frowned and apologized.
"I'll buy the sword and give you my old one, does that sound all right?"
"I guess, if the sword is going to be of some use to you, Janus. I don't like weighing people down with unnecessary material." Like fun, he did. He tried one time to fill me up and weigh me down with drawing salve.
"I can use it." I plunked down the six gold coins for the sword, plus three extra for the table.
"Janus, that table is only going to cost me one gold coin."
"I know, but I shouldn't have ruined it. You keep it." Belthasar thanked me, I apologized once more, and I left.
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