The Story Of Magus Chapter Five
Brave The Darkness
Janus stared at the wall, the same wall in fact, that he's stared at for the past three days. It didn't change color, it didn't move, even the patterns of gold leaf were in the same places they had been ever since the wall had been built, and yet Janus stared at it as if he expected it to jump up and do something wonderfull. After Queen Zeal had made sure he was alright, after the incedent with the Mammon Machine, she'd sent him with Captain Dalton to escort him back to his room. No amount of pleading could save him from being watched like a prisoner. Even his sister couldn't have saved him this time. He'd been confined to his room ever since and Schala was forced to come daily and show the citizens of Zeal the power of Lavos. Queen Zeal had given impassioned speeches durring these energy transfers and now the Enlightened actually believed they were goin to become gods.
Today, the Mammon Machine was being moved to the newly completed Ocean Palace where Queen Zeal would put the contraption into full production, with the help of Schala's pendant of course. Janus knew he had to find a way to stop his sister from going or his Mother from raising Lavos from the Earth. But, how?
"Janus? I'm back," Schala announced, stepping past the guards who were posted at the door. Janus didn't look up or answer her, his eyes stilled stared at the wall, lost in his own thoghts. Alfador sat at his feet, pawing at him in vain. The lavender cat meowed at Schala as if asking her to do something to snap his master out of his own little world.
"Guards, leave us," the princess comanded. It was odd for her to issue commands like that but Janus guessed she probably wanted to talk to him about something important. The guards bowed and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind them. But by the jingle of their armor and weapons, the were still outside with no intention of actually leaving. After all, Queen Zeal had given the order that Prince Janus was to be watched. If the princess wanted privacy with her brother, that was all well and good, but they weren't about to desert their posts.
Schala knelt down by her brother's chair and took one of his small, cool hands in hers. She was startled to hear him speak, for it was an abrupt sound, almost a whisper and yet it resounded in her ears as if he had shouted.
"Well, what could drag you away from your duties long enough to talk to me? You havn't listened to my warnings, despite how often I've told you. If you won't listen to me, I don't see why i should listen to anything you have to say," he pouted. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her hurt expression, the confused pain in her eyes. But she didn't pull away.
"Let me help you, Janus. Whatever the problem is, we can face it together if you'll only open up to me. What happened in the Mammon Room? I'm sure Melchior didn't mean what he said about framing you..."
Janus snatched his hand away and rose to his feet in anger, turning his back on her. "That's not it at all! It isn't about Melchior or me or you or even Mother! It's about Lavos, Schala. Lavos!" He began to pace, hands behind his back. Schala watched for a moment in silence. It was errie. It made him feel itchy between his shoulders the way she looked at him, as if she were trying to read his thoughts.
Finaly she said, "What about Lavos?"
"It's evil, Schala! It must be destroyed. Melchior had the right idea about makeing the Mammon Machine useless. I only wish I had created more damage." He stopped pacing and lifted one arm by his ear, nervously adjusting the cuff of his right sleeve. "But why, oh, why did Melchior have to take the blame? He should have told Mother the truth. He should have told them all what really happened."
Schala stared at her little brother as if he were a stranger. The lack of emotion in her voice when she spoke shocked him. "Janus," she whispered. "I feel I barely know you. Tell me what happened in there. I can't help you if you stay bottled up."
Janus turned to her. His lower lip trembled. Schala reached for him but he backed away. "No, I'm fine, really." He wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve and took a deep breath. "You want to know what happened? Alright I'll tell you. Lavos took controll of everyone, draining their life energies to feed itself. It was horrible and hideous. If my will hadn't been strong enough, I would have given in to Lavos, letting him take my energy. But I didn't give in, I fought him." His eyes shone with a brief surge of pride. "And I won! I was able to free myself of Lavos's power and I freed Melchior as well." Janus related the events that took place. "You see, Melchior saved me from Mother but in return gave up his home and freedom. I must avenge the wrong I have done him. I should have taken his place."
Schala shook her head in wonderment. "Janus, I don't understand. Melchior admitted to having set you up. He was in the wrong Janus, not you. Why do you feel guilty? You should be happy that he is gone! I know I am. He wasn't a good person."
Janus regarded his sister with shock. "Schala, what do you mean? You always liked Melchior." He frowned, this wasn't Schala's normal behavior. His sister shrugged her slender shoulders.
"Who needs him? He was always of doubtfull character....And Janus, I think you should reconsider about Lavos. Perhaps you are just too young to understand his power. Mother is very smart and she wouldn't do anything to hurt Zeal Kingdom. Maybe if you let yourself become one with the power of Lavos..."
"But, it feels wrong! All that energy, draining the life from everyone...How can it possibly be right? I won't give in, Schala, I can't!"
She looked at him sadly, like his mother had done in the Lavos Cave, a mixture of confusement and humor. "Then I'm afraid I can't call you brother any longer. I offered you a choice, Janus, to come spend your life with me as a god, to be with me forever. But you have turned me down. Now I must leave you, forever. Good-bye, Janus." The princess rose from the floor and left without a further word.
"No, Schala! Wait! I'm sorry! Come back!," Janus cried in a sudden panic. "I'm sorry!" Janus shook his head and closed his eyes. This wasn't real! Schala would never say that. It wasn't and couldn't be real! Tears welled under his closed eye-lids. They stung with their salty touch. "Schala....come back...."
Janus opened his eyes with a start. He wiped at his bury vision, drying the tears and wiping out the grit from the corners of his eyes. He was still seated in his chair in front of the same wall. Apparently, he had dozed off. "What a weird dream," he said to himself shakily. "What could it mean?"
A knock resounded on his bedroom door. One of the guards opened it and Schala walked in. Janus gulped and wondered if he was dreaming again. But this Schala looked different. While the dream Schala was glowing with health, this one was the exact opposite. Her face was pale and drawn, her hair, once a vibrant blue, now a faded powder blue that only deepened the rings around her glorious eyes. She walked slowly as if each movement were a strain. But from somewhere inside her she managed a smile for her brother. "Hello, Janus. I came to see you before I leave. Mother wants me there to help move the Mammon Machine to the Ocean Palace and I don't know how long I'll be gone."
Janus caught the hint of a tear in her eyes. He rose to his feet and took her hand, pulling her along till she consented and took his place in the chair. "You make it sound as if you won't be comming back," he accused. A lump started to form in his throat. "You will come back, won't you Schala?" No, not this, he thought. Please, anything but losing his sister. The girl sighed and tried to laugh.
"Of course I will silly! It won't be as if I'm really gone, you know. I'll just be a little further away..."
Janus grasped her hands in his and knelt at her feet. "What are you saying, Schala?," he whispered, dread squeezing the air from him. Or was that because of the heat rising in the room? He wiped his brow with his sleeve and then absently fiddled with the cuff, wishing for a breeze. In the back of his mind he felt the stirring of a warm wind, though his thoughts were so occupied he didn't realise what that meant.
His sister stroked his cheek and brushed his hair out of his face, looking at him intently as if she were memorizing his features. "I'm tired, Janus, so very tired. The demands of Lavos are weighing heavilly on me. I don't know how much longer I can win out against him."
Her brother hugged her. "Try, Schala. I can't live without you. If you go, I'll be so lonely. Only you ever truely understand me. What will I do without you? Promise me you'll come back! Don't let Lavos destroy you as it did Mother. Fight against the energy. Don't give in." He felt a cold chain slipped over his head and around his neck. "What's this?" He drew back and looked at the medalian. It was platinum, with a disk hanging from the chain. On the disk was the Zealian royal crest on one side and on the other was the picture of two hearts entertwined, surrounded by the elements but held together by a golden chain in their centers.
"This amulet used to belong to Father before he died. Melchior retrieved it after they found his body. It has always protected me and now I want you to have it. Wear it always."
"I will, I swear it." His eyes found hers. "Please don't go Schala! I can't let you walk to your death."
The princess folded her hands in her lap. "I don't plan on dying, Janus! What ever gave you that idea?," she replied with a genuine laugh, "Here I come in to say good-bye and you act as if I'm going to leap off the parapets! I might be gone for a few days, that's it."
"B-But, you said you didn't know how long you could last...," Janus stammered. Schala laughed again.
"I just meant that I might need to quit before I over exauhst myself. Honestly, Janus! You have to try to be less morbid. You'll scare yourself over nothing."
"I guess you're right. But please, listen to what I said?"
"I will, and I'll take care of Mother too."
At this, Jauns exploded. "She's not our Mother, Schala! Why do you still pretend she is? This thing with her face and her voice is soulless, with no feelings, no life! It's dea, like all machines are dead. You might as well love the Mammon Machine for all the response you'll get."
Schala didn't reply at first, though her mouth moved in words she didn't say. Finaly, she nodded. "You're right, little brother. She is changed. Lavos did something to her, but I must rty to reason with her one last time. That is why I must go to the Ocean Palace with her."
Another knock rang on the door. The guard opened it and a servant girl curtsied. "Mistress Schala, Queen Zeal has sent me to fetch you."
The princess nodded. "Alright, I'm comming." To her brother, she said, "Chin up, now. Don't make a scene over nothing." She hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Pulling away, she stepped over to the servant girl, preparing to leave.
Janus called out in a panic, "I love you, Schala!" Even he himself was startled by how lost and small his voice sounded as he said those words. But his sister smiled with such glowing warmth that he knew with certaintly that he had for perhaps the first time in his life, made someone he cared about truely happy.
Schala blew him a quick kiss and said, "And I love you too, Janus, more then you will ever know." The door closed behind her with such a finality that it made Janus tremble. He had to escape and follow her, just to make sure she stayed alright. But with the guards at his door, there was little chance of that right away. He'd just have to be patient and wait.
It was after midnight, the bustle in the palace had long since died, leaving everything so quiet a pin could drop and be heard for miles. The two guards had settled down in chairs, arms crossed over their chests, snoring. Janus quietly opened his window and lowered the rope made out of his blankets from the balcolny. He slid down the make-shift rope with ease and jumped the last four feet. He crept through the garden and found a door that was open.
The door led into the Grand Council but the huge room was deserted. A great beam of orange light was in the center of the room. This was obviously a temporary skygate, designed to move the Mammon Machine to the Ocean Palace. He took a step towards it-
"I wouldn't, if I were you, your Highness."
Janus whirled around in surprise. Dalton emerged from the shadows of a black hole. He stepped out of it's inky blackness but didn't close the swirling shadows behind him. "What do you mean, Dalton? I'm royalty. I can do what I want..."
The captain laughed. "Your little airs don't have any effect on me, Janus."
"I didn't give you permission to call me by my name. It's Prince Janus to you!"
Dalton really laughed at that. "Queen Zeal said you might try to interfere with her plans." He clapped his hands and a huge golem materialized out of the blck hole. "So I brought a friend for you to play with. I'd like you to meet Golem Boss Senior." The wizard ran to the beam of light and stepped in. As he faded in the magic beam, he said, "Now, you two play nicely together. Stay occupied long enough for the rest of us to become gods."
Janus gulped and stared at the Golem Boss Senior. The creature clapped it's hands together and bounced up and down. "I'm gonna pound ya flat, kid!," it shouted. "You'll be so smashed that you'll have to reach up to tie your shoes!" The golem laughed and pounded the floor, shaking it. Janus fell over onto his behind with a thud.
He wasn't scared, actually. He was peeved, but not scared.
The golem must have seen this becuse he cleared his throat nervously. "Um, feel free to run away screaming in terror at any moment before I pound ya good and hard."
Janus rolled his eyes. "Shut up!" The golem appeared upset.
"I can't do this! I'm s-scared! You're a big meany!," it wailed, bouncing once, twice, and dissapearing. Janus stared at the spot it had stood before and blinked. That was very, very weird. Shrugging, he got off the floor, dusted himself off, and stepped into the teleport beam. If his mother knew he was comming, he should prepare himself for anything.
"Now, Schala! Raise the pendant," Queen Zeal commanded. The girl did as she was bid. If she didn't, she knew she had little chance of seeing Janus again. Her mother had made that clear in the first few minutes she'd arrived. Guru Belthazar and Guru Gaspar were present as well as several of the Council Members. (The Nu was there as well but no one really cared about it.) The Gurus had been brought against their wills as Schala had. Guards stood nearby, hands on their swords in case they should try anything sneaky. Since Melchior had been exiled for treason, all the Gurus were suspect to suspicion.
Schala was certain Queen Zeal's threats against Janus's life had all been false. It wasn't in her mother's nature. At least she hoped. There had to be enough of her mother's spirit left to prevent her from harming either of her children. But when Dalton arrived with a smug grin on his face...
The wizard captain bowed low before Zeal and laughed. "The deed is done. Prince Janus will bother us no more."
"What?!," Schala exclaimed. This couldn't be right! "Mother?! Is it true?! Did you order the death of my brother?!" She nearly let go of the pendant to attack Dalton. She would ip his eyes out, then his heart. "I don't believe you! Not even you are that cold-blooded! You didn't kill him, Dalton!" To her mother, she cried, "You didn't....Not to Janus...He's a surviver. Like you, and like me. Mother, tell me you didn't hurt him!"
"Dalton isn't a liar, my daughter," Zeal replied with a laugh. The Queen put her arm around Schala's shaking shoulders. "You are the true heir of Zeal Kingdom. It is fitting that you and you alone to share in the glory of Lavos. Janus was a freak, a blight upon our family, but no longer. No longer! It is only you and me now, my daughter, and together we shall become gods!"
But Schala wasn't listening. She was staring at the pendant in her hands. The Dreamstone glowed bright green at first then changed to blue, and then a deep, angry red. The floor suddenly lurched. Everyone stumbled but no one fell.
"What the hell was that?!," Dalton snarled. The floor buckled again, knocking him to the floor. The two Gurus cried out and fought to keep their balance. Another tremor rippled through the room, and then another. Queen Zeal began to laugh insanely.
"That, Dalton, was Lavos! He is awakening! Can't you feel his power?," the Queen giggled, her voice shrill and errie, her face bathed in the red glow of her daughter's pendant. The air was suddenly filled with a high-pitch shrieking whine. The voice of Lavos tore around the room. The people gathered clutched their heads in pain. Green life energy began to seep from them towards Schala's pendant. Slowly the Council fell to their knees, the Guru's fought with all their might to remain standing. The floor shook and pitched uncontrolably now.
"Schala! I'm here, Schala! I've come to save you!"
Schala turned and looked. It was Janus, he was still alive! He looked very bruised and battle-word. Obviously the boy had faced the occupants of the Palace and survived. The lights in the room were flickering madly. The air itself seemed to be distorted.
"No, Janus! Stay back! It isn't safe here!," the princess cried. But Janus didn't listen. He kept running forward. Suddenly, the air shimmered and several black holes opened. Belthazar and the Nu were sucked into one, their screams being cut short as the portal closed. The Gaspar was drawn into another. An especialy large one opened behind Janus.
The suction was extremely strong. The prince fell to the floor and clawed at the smooth tiles, digging his shoes into the cracks. "Help! Schala, help!"
Schala started to run to help him but a cold hand gripped her arm with a talon-like hold. Queen Zeal laughed. "Isn't this wonderfull Schala? This is the power of gods! We are gods now!"
"Let me go, Mother!," the girl cried, trying to break the woman's grip. She reached out a hand to her brother, straining to reach him, though still too far away. "Janus! Let me go! Let me go, Mother! Janus! JANUS!!!"
The prince was sliding slowly into the portal. His legs were already half in. The Black Wind howled around the room, adding to the shrieking Lavos. "Schala! Help me! I'm scared! Schala!" He felt his hips sucked into the void. "Schala, the darkness! Don't let the darkness get me!"
Tears streamed down her face. She knew her brother was going to be lost. "Brave the darkness, Janus! Be strong! I love you, baby brother! I'll find a way back to you, I promise!" She watched as he continued to call for her as the portal swallowed him up. First his chest, then his face, and then slowly up his arms. Schala was seized by a sudden thought. She bit her mother's hand.
Queen Zeal screamed and let go. Schala raced forward, diving for her brother's hand...and missing it as the portal dragged him in, closing without a trace. "JANUS!!," she cried again, sobbing. He was gone.
That was the end of the Magical Kingdom of Zeal. Lavos emerged and sent lasers through the floating continant, sending it crashing into the sea below. The Ocean Palace was smashed beneathe the weight of so much rock. The eternal blizzard on Terra Continant was ended and the Earthbound, combined with the few surviving Enlightened, formed a new world. Though it was thought that no one survived, it was rumored, however, that not everyone was killed in the Ocean Palace disaster. The rumors said that Princess Schala and Queen Zeal lived. Though whether it was fact or fantasy....that has yet to be seen.