The Story Of Magus Chapter 14
MAGUS! Part 2
There are times in a person's life when it seems as if destiny is staring you right in the face. You can sieze the moment or you can let it quietly slip by, never to be seen again. Janus wasn't about to let the moment go. He had dreamed of this for so long and now, it was within his grasp. He looked down at the sword tip leveled against his breast-bone and followed it with his eyes upwards untill it reached a metal clad hand, farther up the polished armor to Sir Cedrick's cold, impassive features. His lavender gaze locked with the old knight's eyes and he had the pleasure of seeing them widen with sudden recognition.
"YOU!," Cedrick gaped, his mouth dropping open in shock. "But it can't be! You're dead!" Janus smiled and gave a slow, lazy shrug.
"Hello to you too, sir knight. I'm glad to see you remember me after all this time," the youth replied. Cedrick flinched and took a step backward, shaking his head in denial.
"But you're dead!," he shrieked yet again. Janus heaved a sigh and placed a hand over his heart in mock sorrow.
"No, really? And here I thought I was just a little under the weather lately." The young magaician threw back his head and laughed long and loud, excitement and the pain from his wounded shoulder making his musical voice harsh and crazed sounding. Breaking off in mid-laugh, he lowered his voice to where it was almost too low to be heard above the sounds of battle around them. "I have returned from the grave to finish things, Cedrick. I have come back to see you die!"
It was a credit to the knight that he was able to pull himself back into his imposing self. "Aye, it is time to end this. I thought you were dead, burried in the ashes of time and inifinity. I see now that I was wrong. I shall complete what I started so long ago."
"Sir Cedrick!," the young knight shouted. Both Janus and Cedrick turned, having totally forgotten the man's presence. "Allow me to fight at your side, sir. I, too, hold a debt to collect from this varlet! He has faught me to a standstill and honor demands that I fight him for dishonoring me."
"Get lost, shrimp!," Janus hissed. "This fight doesn't concern you anymore." He noticed that Cedrick appeared thoughtfull on that score. "What's wrong, old man? Can't fight your battles by yourself anymore? Or would you like fire instead?" The old knight rose to the bait.
With a curt gesture, he ordered the young knight back. "Begone, as he says. This is a private score between us and it t'would be ill befitting your honor to interfere."
The young man gave a half-hearted protest. "But-"
"Go!," Cedrick snapped. Then seeing the young knight's fallen expression, his tone softened. "There will be another time, another place where your honor may be avenged."
"I suppose you are right. Good luck, Sir Cedrick." He gave a snappy salute wich Cedrick returned gravely with his blade. The young knight retrieved his lost sword, gave Janus one last look of contempt, and went running into the dwindling crowds still fighting.
"How noble, and who would have expected it from you?," Janus sneered, carefully bending down to get his own weapon. Cedrick backed away a respectfull distance and took a few experimentory swings.
"I did not do it for him or for your peice of mind, Janus." He spat the name like an oath. "I did it because I do not relish the thought of a witness to what I am about to do to you." He watched as Janus leaned his sword against his thigh so he could twine his long hair into a knot and stuff it into the hood of his red cloak.
Janus noticed Cedrick looking at him curiously for that move. He went ahead and answered the unspoken question. "Too many people are starting to remember me of late. Why invite disaster in announcing my presence?"
"Enough prattle! Time to die!," Cedrick growled, giving the knight's salute to the enemy. Janus gravely returned the salute. Slash had been adamant that the best way to throw an enemy off-guard, especially a knight, was to beat his honor with some of your own. Giving a silent thanks to Slash, Janus just prayed that all the knowledge he'd imparted would be enough to win this battle.
The two men circled each other like sharks, neither one wanting to make the first move. They studied each other's movements carefully, gaugeing the other's skill with quiet respect. Cedrick moved somewhat stiffly from age but there was no doubt that he was still more then a match for most men, let alone Janus who was no virtuoso with a blade. The young magician on the other hand had a cat-like grace in his movements. Cedrick could tell he'd been trained by a master, even if his techniques were not up to par. If anything, his agility would save his life more then true skill with a weapon would.
The constant tension between the two was becoming unbearable for Janus. His fingers clenched and loosened around the hilt, itching for action. Attack, you old fool!, he urged silently. But no, the old knight was not going to be foolish enough to do that. You could cheat, a whispering voice said in his head. Use your magic! Destroy him with your power. He can not defend himself from that. Janus was so engrossed in these thoughts that he almost missed the deadly swipe of Cedrick's blade towards his face. He raised his blade and the two weapons clashed. Janus could feel the vibration from the heavy stroke all the way up into his shoulder, making him wince. Blinking back tears of pain, Janus shoved with all his might against the two locked blades. His push barely made the old knight take a step back.
Once again they circled each other. This time Janus made the move. He took three steps forward, stabbing with each lunge. Cedrick was forced back, quickly slapping the blade away each time it was thrust at his torso. Twirling the sword over his head, he shouted, "Nirvana strike!" The sword the old knight held began to glow a deep crimson, electric energy combined with fire crackling along the keen edge. With the empowered weapon, he leapt into the air, bringing it down towards Janus' head. In a reflex movement, the youth brought his sword up to deflect the blow, but as the two swords met, there was a flash and Janus was blown off his feet. He went flying backward a good ten yards, tumbling head over heels into a ruined building, bounced off a wall, and finally slammed onto the charred yet intact wooden floor with stunning force. Janus doubled over gasping, the breath having left his lungs on impact. It was painfull to breathe and his wounded shoulder was in so much agony he could no longer use that arm. Not that it would have done much good if he could have, his sword, the only weapon he had, was shattered, broken at the hilt.
The pain was almost more then he could bear. Blood soaked his shirt and cloak, most of it his own from re-opening his many wounds with this constant flurry of activity. It dripped steadily down his left arm and filled his glove. His fingers were going numb from poor circulation. Stars were dancing before his eyes as he fought to remain conscious. The sound of metal shod boots, knelling like mourning bells, were coming towards him. Blinking his eyes back into focus, Janus looked around for a weapon of any sort. Use your magic, finish the battle with a single word! Give in to the power inside you. Become one with your anger and unleas the furry within you. Controll it into a vortex of dark matter and destroy Cedrick! Janus gritted his teeth and slammed shut a mental door on the taunting, alluring thoughts. No, he would finish this with honor. He was not going to stoop to the level of a Mystic.
His roving eyes fell upon the dead body of a farmer. He was wounded only once but the blow had been fatal. The man had apparently died by falling on his own weapon, a rusty wheat scythe, which he'd probably used to defend himself with, albeit not very well. It was to be Janus' last hope. Using his good arm, he dragged himself over to the body and pried the cold fingers from around the hilt. They clasped the wooden shaft with tenacity that only the dead have. The sightless eyes stared at him accusingly, as if Janus was denying him a weapon even in the after-life. "Give it to me," the young man muttered. "You have no need for it but I do." Surprisingly the stiff fingers relaxed and he was able to slide the weapon out from their grip. Hiding the blade behind his back, he quietly waited for Cedrick to walk in and find him, laying in his own blood on the floor.
Cedrick let the power in his sword die, watching the color leave the shining surface as he would soon watch the life leaving Janus' face. The boy was too much of a threat. He had been a fool not to personaly see his demise when he'd had the chance. Letting him burn in the flames so long ago had been a burst of inspiration, seeing as how Cedrick was squeamish when it came to killing a child. However, Janus was no longer a child. "This will even the score betweenst us one and for all. Fate has played it's part in bringing us together this final time. Now will all be decided," the old knight said to himself. He stood outside the broken door way of the building. Inside, he could see Janus' form on the floor, unmoving. Readying his weapon, Cyrus stepped into the final battle prepared.
"Fredrick Pendil, reporting for duty, sir!" The Knight Captain turned his attention away from the smoking remains of Truce and looked at the young knight who had come to join him. The young man was smeared with ash and multi-colored Mystic blood. His right arm was in a sling and he was trying to salute with his left hand.
"Sir Pendil, I thought I had sent you to the infirmery for medical attention. What are you doing returned?"
"I came to help, sir. I know we are short on able bodied men and I am fit enough to help," Fredrick replied. The Knight Captain looked him over with carefull scrutiny. Seeing his commander's eyes lingering on his wounded arm, the young knight cleared his throat. "It is a mere scratch, sir, nothing more. It will not hinder my competancy to perform a task."
"Are you quite sure? I do not wish to put you in peril with a battle wound," the golden knight asked, trying to hide a smile. When Fredrick nodded stiffly, he forced a solomn look. "You art a brave warrior, comrade. I shall see that you are remembered on the Scrolls of Honor for this noble act."
Sir Pendil beamed. "Thank you sir!"
"The Mystics have retreated for now and we hath procured a search of the surrounding environs for survivers, both from our side and theirs. You canst accompany me whilst we look."
The young knight saluted again, a little sharper this time, and fell into step with his leader. As they walked, they past by a large pile of Mystic bodies that were being gathered up. Later, they would be tossed in a ditch somewhere and covered with dirt. No ceremony to honor the dead was to be performed. In the human's eyes, Mystics were like animals for they did not fight with honor and therefore deserved none imparted on them. Fredrick looked at the piles, wondering if he would see the body of that blue-haired Mystic in the red cape he'd fought.
"What are you staring at?," the Knight Captain inquired.
"Merely looking to see if a score had been settled," the youth answered. As they left the pile of bodies behind, he added, "But I don't think it has." The two men continued walking, watching as knights and soldiers both alive and dead were carried off the battlefield. A field medic bearing the royal colors hastened up and saluted.
"Yes?," the golden knight asked.
"Field check completed on the east, west, and north sides of Truce, sir. Casualty rates are high as are the fatality rates. They hit us harder then we did them," the medic replied sadly. "The names of the identifiable victims killed are being tallied up and a full list will be given shortly."
"Identifiable victims?," Fredrick hedged. The medic gave him a balefull look.
"It's hard to tell who a person is when there isn't alot left to work with, you know," he snapped. Fredrick went a shade paler then he already was and looked ill. The medic returned his attention back to the Knight Captain. "Another thing you may want to know, sir, is that Sir Cedrick is missing in action."
"What?," the golden captain exclaimed. "No body hast been recovered?"
"No sir. At least not in the sectors we covered. He may be located in the southern section of town, where we havn't checked yet," the medic responded. The Knight Captain nodded and turned to Fredrick.
"I wouldst ask you to accompany me to the southern side of Truce, my friend, but with your wounds, I daren't ask it of you."
"Don't worry about me, sir. I can manage," the young man replied.
"I shall come as well. A medic may come in handy if Sir Cedrick is wounded," the man said. Together the three of them started off with hurried steps towards the area where unbeknownst to them, a blood-feud was nearing it's conclusion. As they neared the south edge of Truce, they scanned the imediate area for survivors. Not one body moved under their eyes.
"I don't think he's here," Fredrick commented, turning over another corpse.
"That is a small comfort at least. But then, me thinks he may lieth within yonder buildings," the Knight Captain stated, wiping his brow free of sweat generated by the heat of the smoldering rubble all around him. The three men stood in silence, looking at each other with grim expressions. "Let us split up," the golden knight declared at last. "It shall speed up the search. But be wary! Who knows what manner of filth may be lieing in wait for us." Saluteing their captain, the medic and Fredrick went in their seperate directions, leaving the golden knight to take the road straight ahead. Keeping his eyes watchfull, he proceded with caution.
The first building was deserted and the second one held the remains of a slaughtered family. It made the man's stomach knot in anger as he looked at the children who would never again play in the warm sunshine, and the young parents who would never live to see their grand-children. A sound broke his reverie. It sounded like the clash of metal against metal. There was a shout of "Nirvana strike!" and a flash of light. Racing to the door, the Knight Captain was just in time to see a red-cloaked Mystic fly backwards from the attack and tumble into a building. A few seconds later, Sir Cedrick came into view. He waited a few minutes untill his blade returned to normal before he pursued his foe. The golden knight raised an eyebrow and curiously followed after at a respectable distance. After all, it was Cedrick's enemy and it would not be befitting his honor if the other knight were to barge in. However, he would still be around if the old knight needed help. That thought in mind, he slunk quietly around the side of the building and peeked into the window, to keep a look out for ambushes of course. At least, that was what he kept trying to convince himself. But there had been something in Cedrick's manner he hadn't liked. A movement too vicious, a look too cold, a glint in his eyes too cruel. This man boded watching.
Cedrick approached Janus' body slowly. It lay un-moving, un-protesting within the red cape that covered his entire body. He was lying face down on the floor, his head and face covered with the hood. It was apparent that he passed out from weariness and undoubtably, pain. Gripping the sword he held in both hands, Cedrick raised it above his head for a downward thrust. "Forgive me for not asking if you have any final words, but you understand." Driving the sword down, it penetrated the body and became lodged deep within the wood of the floor as it reached the other side.
"Oh, but I do have some last words, Sir Cedrick." The old knight whirled around and stared straight into a pair of lavender eyes. Janus drew back his arm. A wickedly curved scythe was held in his grasp. "Rot in hell you bastard!" With all his strength, he brought the weapon down acrossed the knight's chest. There was a flash of light as the metal parted, quickly filling with red. Cedrick staggered back, his hands involuntarily clutching at the gaping wound. It was mortal, both knew it. The old man fell heavily back against the wall and slid to the floor with a grinding sound like rusted gears as his armor scratched the burnt wood. With his failing eye-sight, he watched as Janus grasped the hilt of his sword and yanked. It took a few tries but finaly the heavy blade came free of the wood and the body, dragging the cloak with it. The person Cedrick had thought to be Janus was not him at all. Where the young magician should have been laying was a stanger.
Janus replaced his cloak over his shoulders. The stains on it felt clammy and sticky but he ignored them. His sudden inspiration had paid off. It was only at the last minute that he had the idea to disguise the other body as himself and take Cedrick by surprise. Luckily, the gambit had paid off. Giving one last look at the dying man, he prepared to leave.
"Don't think you canst leave me here to die like this!," Cedrick gurgled. "Honor wouldst not allow it and I know you have some honor in you. For the sake of my son, you canst not-"
"Cyrus isn't your son," Janus cut him off. "And you are wrong. I don't have honor." Walking away, leaving the wounded knight to die, he added to himself, "Not any more."
The medic and Fredrick were approaching the building when they caught sight of the Knight Captain walking quietly away. The two men ran up and saluted but he ignored them, as if pre-occupied with his own thoughts. Confused, the aids followed him.
"Sir, we checked the areas all around the left and right sectors of the south side but neither of us could find any survivors, nor the body of Sir Cedrick," the medic informed his commanding officer. When he received no response, he looked at Fredrick who shook his head. He was as lost as his companion. "Sir?," the medic tried again.
"I heard you. It doesn't matter now. Cedrick is dead," the golden knight replied. The two men walking beside him were shocked by the coldness in his voice.
"You mean, you found him? You saw his body?," Fredrick asked. He gulped uneasily when the superior knight's eyes turned on him.
"I mean, that as far as I am concerned, Cedrick is-"
"Sir, look!," the medic interrupted. "A Mystic!" Fredrick turned and gasped. Janus had limped out, looking ragged and worn in his shredded cape, a scythe brown with rust and drying blood in his hand.
"That's him, sir!," Fredrick hissed to the Knight Captain. "That's the Mystic I was telling you about!"
"Looting the bodies, no doubt!," the medic growled in disgust. The Knight Captain's face was furious but he held his tongue. His companions didn't know what he knew, hadn't seen what Cedrick had done when he thought no one was around to witness it. Wether or not that body he had run through had been a Mystic, had it been an uncontious enemy, then that would have been out and out murder. The Knight's Code strictly forbade a person to strike down an unarmed opponant or one unable to defend himself. And yet, despite that, Cedrick had been willing to do just that, to take a life of one who, despite the fact the cur most likely deserved it, could not defend himself. The Knight Captain was disgusted at such an afront of honor.
"He shall not return to his friends except perhaps in a pine box!," the young Fredrick cried, drawing his sword and pointing it in the direction Janus was leaving. Suddenly, another figure appeared in the doorway.
"Wait! Look!," the medic shouted, drawing his eager companion up short. "Isn't that...Sir Cedrick?!"
The old knight teetered in the doorway. His face was ashen, even down to his mustash that was shot with grey. In his hand he held a dagger. He'd used every ounce of strength to drag himself to his feet and over to the door, nearly falling with every step. His legs could barely support him and his vision dimmed and cleared at will. His breath wheezed in his chest, growing further and further apart. The small weapon he held had been concealed in his boot where Janus hadn't seen it. The metal felt slippery in his grasp from the blood on his metal gauntlets. He focused on Janus' retreating back, red cape billowing in the smoky air. Drawing on the force of his hatred, he raised the dagger...
"He isn't...He CAN'T be...!," the medic gasped in shock. "I do believe he's going to throw that knife at the Mystic's back!"
"Cedrick, no!," the Knight Captain shouted in despair, whirling around. "Do not compile your sins!" The words travled in the air, but didn't phase the knight. His lust for the magician's destruction was blocking all rational thought. Things seemed to happen in slow motion. The dagger flew from Cedrick's hand just as Janus started to turn to see what was going on. The Knight Captain reached out with one hand as if he could pluck the spinning weapon from the air. In a reflex action, Janus whipped his hand out to stop the blade. A wall of pure dark energy reflected it, reversing the dagger straight into Cedrick's chest, striking through the armor as if it wasn't even there.
"A magus!," the medic breathed in awe. His companions looked at him in confusion. "A magus is an extremly powerfull magician. I remember my grandfather telling me stories that his grandfather told him about these extrordinary magic users who could use more then the meager spells we use today. They were masters of the elements."
Janus gaped in disbelief at what he had done. Cedrick wavered on his feet, one hand clutching at the hilt that protuded from the metal of his breast-plate. The force of the spell had plunged it cleanly into his heart. With a final look at Janus, his legs gave way beneath him. It seemed as if the whole world held it's breath as he slowly...slumped...and fell to the ground, dead. Then time started again. Janus fell to one knee breathing hard. Fredrick and the medic began to hurry over. And suddenly a black body imposed itself between them.
"Back! The next one who moves gets a chest full of bolts!," Drek squawked. The Knight Captain motioned and his companions stopped in their tracks. Drek backed up untill he was beside Janus. He thrust a small bottle towards his hand. "Drink this, kid. It will help with the pain." Janus' hand was trembling with fatigue as he uncorked the bottle and swallowed the contents. It was a cold drink, akin to water but he had the faint impression of lemons and mint mixed in. As the liquid splashed down his throat, he felt a tingling warmth spread through his limbs as the potion's currative powers kicked in. He felt minor cuts begin to mend and the pain in his shoulder lessen. Drek's arm slipped around his shoulders and helped him stand.
"Hasta la vista, you simps! We are outa here!," the Owtlaw cackled, tossing down a smoke pellet and invoking a minor teleportation spell. The three men choked on the smoke and waved it away irritably. Fredrick took a few steps forward as if he wanted to follow the vanished pair of Mystics. A heavy hand fell on his shoulder, however.
"No, let them go," the Knight Captain said. "They have won his victory. They fought with honor."
"But sir!," Fredrick protested, his young face flushing with anger. "They are Mystics! One of them just killed a fellow knight and you are letting them escape?"
"Yes, I am," the golden knight replied, turning away. Fredrick, forgetting his status in his anger, grabbed the superior knight's arm and forced him around.
"Honor demands that we not let them escape!," he grated harshly. A dam seemed to break loose and the golden knight began backing the younger knight up with each cold word he spoke.
"Honor also demands that you not question a superior officer. Honor also demands that a knight obey the Knight's Code." He pointed in the general direction Cedrick's body now lay. "He did not obey the Knight's Code and he hast paid the price for it. But what is more, he is now disgraced and those of his ilk are disgraced with him. It falls upon me to diliver these unhappy tidings of not only his death but of his downfall to his widow and his son, who is one of the best of the trainees and was destined to to follow his father into greatness. But now it is never to be all because of a lack of honor! So remember your place, sir, and do not presume to tell me of what honor dictates, for I have had my belly full!"
The teleportation spell deposited Janus and Drek along-side a road where the victorious Mystics marched wearilly, but sated, back towards Ozzie's Fort. Drek helped support Janus who limped along slowly through the crowded highway. The sounds of his fellow Mystics laughing and celebrating was like the dull roar of the ocean, breaking in waves against his ears. His head felt stuffed with cotton or something just as thick. Janus also felt strangely empty and extremely tired, as if he was missing a part of himself on the inside.
"Doing alright?," Drek croaked. His beady little eyes gleamed brightly as they looked up at him. Janus managed to nod but the movement made him dizzy and sick to his stomach. "Well, you don't look alright. Drink another one of these." The bird-man handed another flask of potion, but this one was sweeter then the last one and it made the empty feeling diminish a good bit and the weariness become managable.
"What is that stuff?," the youth asked, eying the flask as he finished the last of it and handed it back. Drek took it and placed it into some hidden pocket in his uniform.
"Oh that? That was just a few swallows left of a special elixer that helps heal wounds and replenishes magic power. It isn't a good substitute for your body's natural magic power, but that can only be regained after rest. You see, every magician has his or her limit of how much energy they can use to cast spells. If too much energy is used, then a magician will pass out from the exauhstion. It's like when running. You may be able to run really far in a short period of time, but the more you run, the more tired you become, untill you just can't run anymore. Oh, you can push past the normal limits and achieve greater stamina, but eventually everyone hast to rest."
"Where did you learn all this?," Janus asked curiously. "It sounds like you know alot about magic. Flea never told me any of this stuff."
"I'm not surprised. She is very stupid. I think she is afraid that if everyone knew about stuff like this, we'd gang up on her and give her a stomping. I have the privilage to know certain things because-" Drek stopped, looked up at Janus sharply, and finished carefully. "Because I'm a friend of Ozzie and he tells me these things."
Janus didn't appear to notice the slip up and mentally Drek heaved a sigh. He had come dangerously closed to saying that he was really a spy and it was his job to know things like that. As it was, he didn't want Janus to think he knew Ozzie too well, or else he might get suspicious. As it was, the Owtlaw suspected that maybe Janus had been leading him into a trap to get him to admit his real nature. A second look at the young magician said that he probably was thinking nothing of the sort. The few sips of elixer he'd drunk helped some, but it would be days before he was the same again. And even then, mental scars don't heal as fast. Luckily, the battle had achieved Ozzie's final goal. The youth was broken, pliable, easy to corrupt, now that he was at his most vulnerable. The Mystic leader would reward him and Flea well for their work this day, though she didn't play as big a role as he had.
"I'm so proud of you!," the Owtlaw went on, once he was reasured Ozzie's little toy wasn't going to die on him. "I watched you out there on that battlefield just ripping those suckers apart! You brought glory to the Mystics this day."
"My amulet," Janus mumbled through numb lips that were slowly getting a bluish tinge from lost blood and from breathing too much of the smoke polluted air back in Truce. "I want my amulet back." Drek squirmed a little uncomfortably. He clacked his beak nervously.
"Amulet? What amulet?," he asked, feigning confusion to buy for time. He liked the shiny little bauble and was loathe to give it up. Storm clouds hovered around his companion's face as it darkened with anger. If the bird-man could have licked his lips to releave his tension, he would have. As it was, he could only ruffle his feathers. The smell of sweaty chicken filled the air as he perspired. "I don't recall any sort of-"
"Don't play stupid!," Janus snarled, closing a hand around the Owtlaw's throat. "Either you give it to me or I'll squeeze you till your eyes pop!" Drek squirmed and flapped his arms in a vain attempt to fly away. His animal instincts were taking over and he cawed and cackled in desperation.
"I don't have it!," he choked out at last. The hand around his neck tightened and he felt his eyes bulge from their sockets. "Alright, alright! I do have have it! Let me go!"
"And let you get away? I don't think so! Hand it over!," Janus demanded impatiently. Drek blinked and made unintelligent bird sounds as he faught to free himself. "Give it to me or prepare to meet your maker!"
"Let me go and I'll give it to you!" Once more the hand tightened. "I...swear...I won't run away! Telling...the truth! Can't....breathe!" Suddenly the hand was gone and the ground rushed to meet him. Drek coughed and wheezed, trying to fill his lungs. Palming a dagger, he was prepared to teach this whelp just who he was messing with. But by the time he scrambled to his feet, Janus was already holding his scythe at battle position. Cursing, Drek put the knife away and pulled out the medallion from within his shirt, wishing for the first time he had never agreed to take this job himself.
Janus snatched it away with such vengence that Drek felt like counting to see how many fingers he had left. Quickly turning the amulet over and over in his hands, regardless of the grime and gore that covered them, Janus checked for any damage. At first he found none, but then he noticed a slight scratch that marred the surface. Dreadfull fury rose in his head. Janus whirled around to punish the stupid Owtlaw but he was nowhere to be seen. Carefully slipping the chain over his head, he placed it back inside his own shirt. The cool metal was reassuring as it lay in it's customary place over his heart. There would be time enough to get even with the Owtlaw who had tarnished the beauty of the carefully engraved amulet. It wasn't just a piece of jewelry to him, not by a long shot. It represented his entire past. It was the last vestiges of his home and his sister. Schala...A swift ache contracted his chest as he thought of her. What would she think of him now? Would she recognize him, covered as he was in blood and dirty and sweat? Not likely, Janus thought bitterly. Not very likely at all....