The Story Of Magus Chapter Three
Power The Pendant
"Eureka! That's finally done it!"
"Belthazar, please don't scare me like that! I almost jumped out of my skin!," Melchior complained, laying aside his magnifying glass and a chunk of Dreamstone he was inspecting. The quality of the stone was incredible. It was pure, unpolluted, perfect for creating a weapon worthy of a Guru. Though I have little need for one, Melchior chuckled to himself.
"Oh, Melchior! You need to cut back on the coffee. You're getting jittery again," the Guru of Reason replied, slapping the Nu's hand as it fiddled with a wrench on the work-table. The two old men stood in Belthazar's laboratory in Kajar. The room was crowded with the many inventions the Guru had crated over the years and stashed away. The gadgets were in sore need of a dusting however. In some places, you couldn't distinguish what color the object had orrigionally been, the dust was so thick! Obviously, the Nu hadn't been doing his job and keeping the place neat and tidy.
"Stop blaming the coffee, you tea fiend! And I am most certainly not jittery! You disrupted my concentration is all."
"Yeah, sure, whatever you say Melchior. I belive you. And don't knock the tea!," Belthazar responded with a grin. "Any way, I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so happy to be finaly done with it!"
"Whith what? What did you finish?"
"Oh, this!" The old scientist lifted up a large and heavy-looking gizmo with flashing lights and whirling cogs and springs. "Isn't it beautifull?"
"Astonishing," Melchior returned dryly. "What is it?"
"The inner core to the Mamon Machine. I've finally finished it. Now all I need is something to power it...something to draw the energy into the core so the Mamon Machine can begin to store and distribute the power through-out the Kingdom." Belthazar scratched his beard. "I don't know what I could use though."
He replaced the core on the table and set about to oil the springs. Melchior studied the contraption carefully with quiet awe. He had to admit, this was some of his friend's best work. The Mamon Macine had become Belthazar's entire life, ever since he'd been first handed the plans by Queen Zeal herself, personally assigning him to the project. The Queen had told him of her plans to harness the mysterious power and how soon she wanted the Machine built. The old Guru had wracked his brain, trying to find a way to create this energy pump in the short time allowed him.
The Mamon Machine was to act like a giant battery, storing the power inside it and distributing it all through the Kingdom, providing energy for the many different uses the Enlightened could divise. The trick was now, as he had stated, to find a way to transfer that energy into the vast confines of wires and circuitry.
"Her Magesty will be very pleased to know you have finished the task she set before you," Melchior said at last. He didn't really approve of Queen Zeal's little plan. He viewed it as a desperate move to controll a force barely understanded and explainable. If the Enlightened had one major flaw, it was the fact that they liked to re-shape, dominate, and organize anything remotely outside of their controll. Such was the case with this new power.
Also, the Guru of Life was one of the few Enlightened to actually sympathized with the Earthbound over their plight. He appalled the way they were treated and frequently went to visit them, often talking with the elders for hours on end and working side by side with the magic-less humans as if there were no difference between them. In his opinion, there wasn't.
Though his convictions were quiet and often un-voiced in the Council, Melchior had gained a few supporters, one of them being the sixteen year old Princess Schala. She had developed a taste for visiting the Earthbound colonies and they enjoyed her company. Melchior was very proud of her for that.
Janus, on the other had, was as typical of his kin. He saw the Earthbound as little more then slaves to serve him and he treated them with very little regard. Before he'd aquired that blasted cat, Alfador, the boy had at least been reasonable out of loneliness. Now, there was no living with him. As long as he had his pet, he needed no one, becoming more reclusive and withdrawn then before, barely talking to anyone except to insult them. Schala remained his confidante, the one person he really opened up too, though even she had trouble curving his cutting remarks.
"I hope you are right that Her Magesty will be satisfied with this work," Belthazar said sudenly, dissrupting Melchior's thoughts. "I'm getting terribly sick of that woman, to be perfectly frank."
"Yes. She's getting so...demanding!"
The Guru of Life laughed at that. "Well, she is the Queen, after all. It's well within her rights to be demanding."
Belthazar was writing out a letter now, and from the way he was using carefull strokes of his quill pen, it was obvious that this was going to the Queen. "I don't care! She's been acting odd, lately. I mean, she never used to boss me around. But now she seems to be almost enjoying ordering me around."
"Women always enjoy ordering men around, Belthazar, you know that. It's a passing fling, it will fall through. You must remember that the Queen has been doing an awfull lot lately. The King never used to interact with anyone outside of the Enlightend, and even when he did visit the Earthbound, it wasn't for lengthy periods of time. And here we have our respected Queen Zeal spending eight to ten hours a day tramping around in drafty caves with who knows what lurking in the shadows."
Belthazar shook his heavy old head. "Yes, it surprised me too when she decided to oversee my research teams down there. But personally I think she's spending an unhealthy ammount of time around that power out-flow."
Melchior raised a startled eyebrow. "She what?"
"Yeah, Queen Zeal is spending most of her time around the cave where we discovered the energy-flow. The first time she felt it, she exclaimed with a laugh that all that energy made her feel giddy and energetic. Since then, I have heard reports that she arrives there early each morning, usually before my teams show up, and stands alone in the cave and savors the energy. Just stands there! She doesn't talk or move, but is stone still, smiling and staring at the wall in front of her almost as if in a trance."
Melchior made a face. "Now that is weird."
Belthazar nodded. "Yeah, tell me about it. Gaspar said the same thing."
"Speaking of which, where is he? I havn't seen him all day."
"I'd be surprised if you did. Schala talked him into taking her and Janus on another one of her moral boosters for the Earthbound."
Melchior laughed, pulled out his pipe, and put some tobacco into it. Striking a match, he lit the pipe, waved out the flame, and puffed on it. "How did they talk Janus into going, that's what I'd like to know. He ususally hates leaving the palace."
"Don't I know it. He threw a fit when I had to take him to the library in Enhasia once. I swear! He simply said, 'I'm comming with you' and they let him come. I don't know what thoughts run through his evil little mind and I really couldn't care."
The old weapon's master sighed. "He's not evil, Belthazar." The Guru of Reason waved his hand in a dissmissive gesture.
"I wasn't meaning it literally. But that isn't the point. The point is, I don't understand him and I don't want to try." Belthazar poked the Nu who had fallen asleep while polishing some unidentifyable strip of metal. The creature awoke with a start, throwing the metal into the air which Melchior deftly caught, his reflexes just as sharp as they were in his youth. Belthazar gave the Nu a shove. "Instead of snoozing, why don't you make yourself usefull and make me some tea, you irritating thing!"
The Nu started to shuffle off, but Belthazar caught his arm. "Wait. Send this letter to the Terra Cave while you're at it. And make sure it is given to Queen Zeal post haste!" The Nu took the sealed envelope and departed to the kitchen. Melchior shook his head with a smile. Those two were inseperable, despite the annoyance the researcher showed towards the blue creature.
"Anyway, about Janus..."
Belthazar groaned. "Not him again, Melchior? Honestly! The way you go on about him, as if he were your own son-" He stopped short, biting his lip. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean to...Melchior I-"
The Guru of Life was stony faced. "It's alright, Belthazar. I know."
But it wasn't alright, not with Belthazar, who wished he had never opened his big mouth. Though it wasn't common knowledge, Melchior had a tragic past. Of the three Gurus only he had married. His wife had bore him a son, whom he named Evdar. The boy was bright, agile, and extremely athletic. The weapon's master had high hopes of his son one day inheriting the title of Guru of Life.
He trained his son in the arts of war and Evdar fast became almost as good as his father was. Unfourtunately, he was hot-headed and loved to go to Terra Continant and explore the caves, fighting the Beasts he found there. It was while on one of these escapades with his father, that he fell in battle and was severely wounded.
The Earthbound tried to keep him comfortable untill Melchior could take him home. The Healers did all they could, but he was left without the use of his legs, a cripple who could barely hold a cup let alone a sword. The tragic accident scarred Evdar emotionaly and days after his recovery, he was found dead, having taken his own life, unable to deal with his condition.
Melchior and his wife grieved bitterly. Melchior felt that it should have been him who took the hit, not Evdar. He never really forgave himself that it wasn't. But while, eventually, the weapon's master swallowed the pain and moved on, his wife never did. She refused to eat and gradually wasted away before his eyes. She died of heart-break, the Healers said. For a while, Melchior lost it. He began to drink, to fight, and caused a general uproar untill Belthazar, who was his closest friend, snapped him out of his depression and whipped him back into shape.
The Guru of Life never re-married and though he loved children dearly, even the bratty Prince Janus, he refused to talk about his past and became upset whenever it was brought up in his presence.
"Hey, look. I have some stuff I need to do. I'll catch you later, okay?," Melchoir murmered softly, removing his lab-coat and laying it on the table. Without further words, he departed, leaving Belthazar to stand alone watching after him. A crash from the kitchen alerted the Guru that his Nu had probably fallen asleep while bringing his tea and spilt it, making a mess. With a sigh, he went to go deal with it.
"What a filthy little hovel! Why do we have to go in there? It smells, Schala!" Janus held his nose pinched shut and at his feet, Alfador imitated him by holding his paw over his nose. The royal children stood outside of a cave, one of the many that covered the walls inside the gigantic Terra Cave.
"Oh, Janus, hush! I know it smells bad, but the Earthbound can't help it. If Zeal Kingdom didn't float above the continent, there would be no blizzard and they could live outside in the fresh air. As it is, they have a bad enough time warming the air that does circulate in here," Schala replied sternly. Janus shrugged.
"Okay, okay! But I came here to explore the caves, not visit these cretins!"
Schala rolled her eyes. "Janus, I told you before. I'm not taking you through the caves."
"No buts! Gaspar left you in my care so he could go see how the research is progressing. I want you to stay by me."
"I wanna go see the research too!"
"Don't be silly! You're too young. You'd just get in the way. If you don't want to come visit the Earthbound, alright. But I expect you to wait out here untill I come back," Schala told her brother. Janus sighed in dissapointment.
"Okay, fine! Just go!," he snapped, crossing his arms and pouting. The girl rolled her eyes at the tantraum and reminded herself that little brothers were still considered people, and if she wrung Janus's neck, she'd probably get in trouble.
Janus watched her go. "Phooey! I came to this wretched place expecting to have some fun and all I get is boring! What a rip!" Alfador jumped and pawed at his leg with a meow. The prince scooped up his cat and stroked the silky lavender fur. "I can't go anywhere because Schala said not to, but I want to explore the caves and see what it is Gaspar was so hyped up about when he said, 'The new discoveries'." An idea struck the boy.
Setting Alfador on the ground, he pushed the cat and made shooing motions. "Go! Run away! C'mon, Alfador! Humor me! Scat!" The cat must have caught the hint for it ran a good distance before stopping and looking back at his young master. "Oh, dear!," Janus said loudly. "Alfador has run away! I must chase him and get him back." Grinning at his own cleverness, the boy took off after his cat. He wouldn't be gone long, and if Schala missed him, he could say that Alfador had run away, which was sort-of the truth...
He caught up with Alfador, scooped him up, and began to wander. The Earthbound caves were chill and damp, the smell filling the air unpleasently, but other then that, it was a remarkably friendly society. The magic-less humans mingled together, smiling and waving and children played with a ball made off weeds and hay. Janus saw all this but was, as is expected of an Enlightened, unimpressed by the display of togetherness in their culture.
As he got further and further into Terra Cave, Janus noticed an abundance of orange-badged Enlightened Ones from Zeal Research and Tech. They were mostly heading in and out of a tunnle directly ahead of him. Deciding to check it out, the boy walked that way. As he drew closer, he saw many men and women clustered around what apeared to be crude drawings on the cave wall. One of the people was Gaspar.
The Guru of Time caught sight of Janus. "What are you doing out and about? I thought I left Schala with instructions to watch you. I can't baby-sit you two all the time, you know. Now, go back directly!"
The prince shrugged and sneered. "I go where I please, Gaspar. You of all people should know that." He looked the wall over. "Huh. Rather shoddy artwork I must say."
"Shows how much you know of primitive art. This is fairly advanced drawing for it's age," Gaspar replied. He pointed at the first picture. "It tells a story, if you follow the pictures in order."
Janus was interrested dispite himself. "Really? Can you explain it to me?"
Gaspar beamed at the boy, loving it when he was asked to explain something to someone who actually wanted to listen. "Okay, let's look at the first picture, shall we?" He pointed at the first picture. "Okay, long long ago, the world was covered with these big areas of land covered with plants and they were called jungles. See how there are pictures of plants in this drawing?"
"Yeah, well, those are jungles."
"Oh, okay. It looks like it would be rather weird, all those plants everywhere. We don't have that many plants in Zeal Kingdom do we?"
"Not that many, no. Anyway, let's move on to the second picture." Together the boy and the Guru of Time moved on to the second picture. "Okay, here we have another jungle picture."
Janus pointed at some stick-like figures. "Are those people? They look awfully skinny. And look at those terrible toothy creatures! I'm glad we don't have scaly creatures like that anymore!"
"Yes, apparently they were common back then. We found some of their fossils while digging. Anyway, in this picture, we see these creatures and the humans fighting." And so they were. The toothy creatures killed many humans but the humans killed many of them as well.
"What's in the next picture?," Janus asked. Gaspar ushered him along. "Oh, look! Theres a BIG scaly monster! And it's eating the humans too!," he giggled. The drawing was a bit funny as it showed the humans running in all directions, arms waving, while this huge toothy creature spit fireballs and devoured the fleeing people. On it's shoulder was a smaller toothy creature, head thrown back in a roar, displaying jagged teeth.
"I believe those creatures were known as...well, the name escapes me, but I'm sure they were some sort of lizard, or reptile," Gaspar said, rubbing his chin with one hand in thought. They continued to the next picture which depicted the lizard people and their human adversaries pausing in the fight to stare in horror at the sky where a big red ball was streaking down.
Janus got an itchy feeling between his shoulders as he looked at that red spot on the wall. Though it was just a picture, he could almost feel the dread these people must have felt upon looking at the flaming mass. He shivered. But why was the picture so upseting, he wondered. It was only that, a drawing, and a bad one to be sure. So why did he get this odd feeling while looking at it? Shaking his head, he moved along.
The picture before the last, the one the two now stood gazing at, displayed the flaming star crashing into the ground, setting things on fire, and killing all the toothy creatures and many humans. "Well, at least the star was good for something," he muttered. Gaspar looked at him and silently pointed to the last picture which was further down the wall.
"Before you say that, take a look at what it was."
Janus did as he was bid. As he neared the picture, a cold sweat broke out all over his body. He looked at the picture and frowned, slightly relieved, slightly perturbed. "It's...it's nothing but a dark, shapeless mass Gaspar. I can't make out the picture."
"Look closer, Janus."
Swallowing, the young prince took a deep breath. He stepped closer to the picture. A vague outline was done in red under the black, coal-like smear that covered the picture, as if the artist couldn't bear to see his own work. Janus nearly had his nose to the wall when....BAM! The picture seemed to stir into life under his very eyes. A name resounded in his head, the same name that was printed in crudely formed letters underniethe: LAVOS.
A wailing screech filled his head. Hot wind stirred his garments, though only he could feel it and see the effects of it. Turning his head with a moan, he stumbled away from the picture and was forced to sit down or be violently sick.
"Janus? Higness, are you alright?," Gaspar asked in alarm. The prince gasped in gulps of air, moaning. "Janus!"
"I'm...alright. I was just...so shocked...The picture...it frightened me."
"I understand. I'm sorry, I should have warned you. Rats! I should have figured it might scare you!," the old Guru stated. "You just rest, okay? I'll get you a glass of water."
"No! Don't leave me! Don't leave me alone wih that...that darkness!" Janus grasped the old man's arm desperately. What he'd seen, it would haunt his nightmares till the day he died. He had seen some huge spiny creature, bigger then the biggest of the toothy monsters had ever been. And he had seen the picture move! He had seen it burrowing into the ground, filling every dark crevice with it's essence. And it was hungery! Janus had felt it's hunger as the Black Wind swirled around him. He'd felt the entity's ravenous soul reaching out to him, trying to drain him of his life, his very spirit, to feed one vast, all-consuming void within itself. If he were to have stayed a moment longer, it would have devoured him, he was certain...
"There you are! I thought I told you to wait for me outside till I was done!" It was Schala. The princess aproached Janus and Gaspar with an angry scowl on her face. "You have allot of explaining to do, young man."
Her brother opened his mouth to speak, but Gaspar interjected. "Just a minuite Schala. He's had a fright. You see, I was showing these newly discovered cave drawings to him and he saw one that didn't quite sit well with him."
"It was dreadfull!," Janus whispered, shuddering. Alfador cawled into his master's lap and snuggled up to his chest, purring comfortingly. Schala made a small noise and knelt down beside her sibling. She gave him a hug and he put his face in her shoulder, not quite able to earase the images he'd seen.
"It's alright, Janus. I'm sorry I snapped at you. I was just worried is all," she told him. "I get so scared when you-"
"Everyone, shape up! Queen Zeal is arriving!," an Enlightened researcher shouted. Both Earthbound and Zealians hurriedly smoothed back their hjair, wiped sweat from their faces, and tried to look presentable.
"Momma? Here?," Janus exclaimed in shock. Him and Schala looked at each other and shrugged. They hardly saw the Queen, but both treasured the time they spent with her, which wasn't much of late. Who cared why she was there? They got to see her, at least.
Queen Zeal was a tall, atractive woman with dark eyes that glowed with an intense, almost feverish light. This was odd, but no one really noticed. Her long blue hair was spiked in the latest of Zealian fashions and accented the magestic crown that sat upon her head. Her features were much like Janus's. She had delicate, high cheek-bones, slanted eyes, and a tender, slightly sneering set of lips. Her long gown of orange and indigo, (the royal colors), seemed to float around her as she walked briskly down the tunnle. The torchlight reflected off of her rings and bracelets and crown, making her seem surrounded by an aura of rainbows.
Janus leapt off the floor and ran up to her, throwing his arms around her waist. "Hello, momma! I'm so glad to see you!," he cried.
"What the....Oh, hello, Janus! Where did you come from?," she asked, startled by his sudden apearence. "Is your sister with you?"
"I came with Schala, yes, and Gaspar. Have you missed me?"
"Of course, dear. You know I have...." The Queen said this in a vague, rather confused way, as if she didn't quite understand what he was saying. She smiled at him, absently brushing his hair out of his face. "I really must talk with Schala. Where is she, Janus?"
He waved a hand behind him. "Back there. Oh, stay and talk with me for a bit? I've missed you so much! I have so much I need to tell you? Have you met Alfadaor? He's my new cat and-" He stopped. His mother was still smiling but had that confused look again. "Momma, what's wrong?"
"Hmm? Nothing is wrong, dear. Where is your sister?"
Janus took a step back and studied Queen Zeal with a perplexed look. The woman cocked her head to one side, still smiling in that confused way.
"Why do you stare at me so, child? Are you not glad to see me? Where is Schala?," she asked. Though her voice sounded fine, it had the odd repetitive sound of a machine repeating data. "Janus? I asked you, why do you stare at me?"
Janus shook his head to clear it and asked, "Are you feeling well today, momma? You seem, different."
The Queen laughed, though it sounded like a false laugh, the type a person gives when they really don't understand a joke but want to be polite. "Nothing is wrong, my son. What gives you that idea?" She stepped up to him and placed an affectionate arm around his shoulders. But the embrace seemed empty, as if his mother were missing something. She laughed again and kissed him on the forehead. It felt as if a needle had pierced his brain. Janus gasped and clutched his head. The pains were gone, but the memory of them remained. Had it not been for his mother's arm around him, he would have backed away.
Queen Zeal stroked his hair absently, like the way he did to Alafador. He felt sick again. This wasn't his mother, only some sort of shell, some outer covering. Why was she acting like this? He noticed Schala and Gaspar comming up the tunnle. Queen Zeal saw them, gave a glad cry, and apraoched, withdrawing her arm from around his shoulders so fast he nearly did a spin.
A surge of jealousy welled in the prince's heart as he watched his sister recieve a big hug and kiss on the cheek from his mother, which was returned warmly. But he couldn't hate Schala, he told himself bitterly. It wasn't her fault he wasn't as well liked as she was. He came after the Queen and stood on her other side, wedging between her and Gaspar till they let him in.
"I've been looking for you Schala," Queen Zeal said. "I have things I need to discuss with you. BIG things! But first, I need to show you something." Without waiting to hear Schala's reply, she took her daughter's arm and started dragging her along down the tunnle. Both Gaspar and Janus were forced to hurry to keep up. Finally they reached the end of the tunnle where the energy out-flow was located.
A hole had been dug deep into the cave floor and worers were in the pit now, using picks and shovels to try and dig to the power source. There was energy leaking everywhere in greenish splashes of light that oozed from cracks in the walls and floor. Queen Zeal took a deep breath and exhaled with a sound of delight.
"Isn't it a beautiful sight, my dear Schala? All this power, given to us by a creature so beyond us that we couldn't explain his origions, untill today. He is a traveler from a distant world, an entity of supreme power, one like the world has never seen before," Zeal said, her eyes reflecting the eerie green light.
"I suppose it's rather pretty, Mother, but I find the way the light kees pulsing like that gives me quite a head-ache," Schala returned, faintly. Janus crept up beside Zeal and put his hand in hers. She looked down at him as if seeing him for the first time.
"My dear Janus, what are you doing here?," she asked.
He stared at her in dismay. "Momma, I've always been here. I never left."
The Queen frowned. "You mean to say you've been here in this cave the whole time?"
"Only since this morning....Momma, don't you remember speaking to me when you arrived?" He wanted to scream at her, to hit her, to tell his mother to stop playing around and be normal but instead, she gave that confused laugh.
"Oh, yes. I forgot! How silly of me!" The Queen of Zeal Kingdom patted his head, and turned to Schala. She whispered none to softly, "Schala, I don't mean to alarm you but I'm afraid your dear little brother may have lost his mind." When Schala stared at her in revolted shock at what she'd said, the woman continued, "Oh, don't worry. He's harmless. But keep and eye on him, would you? I don't want word of this to get out. It would be a major scandle and he is much to sensitive to be put away, poor darling."
"Mother, what are you saying?!," Schala demanded in puzzled horror. But her mother wasn't listening, she was pointing at the pendant the girl wore around her neck.
"Daughter, look at your pendant! It's...it's...glowing!"
Schala looked down and gaped. The red Dreamstone pendant she wore was pulsating and the green energy secreted from the cracks was rising as if on a string to the stone where it was absorbed. Queen Zeal clapped her hands like a school-girl and laughed, this time in genuine pleasure.
"Oh, yes! Now, the Mamon Machine will be completed, just as Master Lavos had planned!," she cried excitedly. Janus stiffened at the name. Lavos! That horrible spiky creature! Schala, on the other hand, was confused even more.
"Lavos? Mamon Machine?! Mother, you're talking gibberish!," the girl exclaimed in fear, backing away. But Zeal took her daughter's hands in her own and held them tightly, staring into the princess's eyes.
"No, my dear child! All will be explained as promissed. I mearly wanted you to see this chaimber and to feel the awsome power of Lavos. We are Enlightened, Schala, yet we are mortal. With the power of Lavos behind us, we will become gods!" She released her daughter and turned to Gaspar who had been silent the whole time out of shock and fear. The Queen was acting very peculiar, even for being under stress.
"I want you to call the Council. Schala will attend as will you and your other respective Gurus. I have recieved word from Belthazar that the Mamon Machine is completed save for the vital energy transmitting device. But thanks to this marvelous stroke of luck, Schala's pendant will do the same thing and save us time and energy building it. And of course, we must discuss other things as well," Zeal told Gaspar who nodded and hurried off, shaking his head in bfflement. Schala wore the same look.
"I just don't understand, Mother. Disscuss what things? What is this Mamon Machine? Who is Lavos?"
Queen Zeal laughed, and as she laughed, the royal children drew close together, and held each other tightly. This wasn't thier mother, not by a long shot. This was a demon with her face but the real her was missing. "I'm talking about BIG things, Schala! Big things I want you to be a part of. Only you can make these things happen, my precious daughter, only you can help me lead our people into a golden age like the world has never seen!"