The Story Of Magus Chapter Six
A New Beginning (1)
There were lights. Bright, blinding lights, and a sound. Rushing wind. A feeling of both coldness and warmth and a sense of being weightless. There was no sense of direction. Was he moving forward or backward? Up or down or to the side? There was no way to know. Suddenly, a black portal opened in front of him, swallowing the lights in it's maw and spitting him out roughly on some hard surface, then dissapearing without a trace.
He lay panting on his back. That had been a terrible experiance. Black portals, swirling lights...Where was he? Was he dead? But no, he still could breathe, could still feel his heart hammering in his chest. He opened his eyes and heaved a shrill scream. He was still surrounded by shadows. Black, twisted shadows, like in the portal. Hungery shadows that sought to steal his sanity. Shadows like Lavos, shadows like death. Lavos...A name! He clung to it, though it's very thought caused him pain. But why?
Brave the darkness, Janus....
Janus? Another name. It sounded familiar. It was...him. He was Janus.
Ghostly apparitions danced around him. They whispered taunts, they mocked him with sweet words of comfort. They carressed him with spectral wisps, churned and seethed like a sea of living night. He hastily closed his eyes. It was even darker beneath his eyelids. He re-opened his eyes, a strangled, paniced sob rising in his throat.
The shadows laughed in his head at him. Janus, little Janus! Are we afraid, little Janus? No one to save you from us now, is there? You are alone, and we will watch you drown in us, Janus. We want you to be part of us, a servant of the shadows. Serve us, love us, and we will give you ultimate power....
"Get ahold of yourself!," he murrmered desperately, as he felt the power of the darkness around him begin to sap away his will. Like Lavos had tried to do...As he was STILL trying to do!
Nooooo! You will be ours! We will not let you go! We will wait for you, Prince of Zeal! You shall come to us on your knees. We are Lavos, and we will wait. You will be ours!
"LEAVE ME ALONE!!," he shouted. There came the hideous shrieking sound as Lavo's spirit dissipated as smoke does on the wind. He remembered now! He was Janus, the youngest child of the royal family of Zeal Kingdom. And his mother had tried to use his sister, Schala, to power the Mammon Machine, causing a huge portal to open up and....He shuddered. No, he didn't want to think about that. It reminded him too much of Lavos. Instead he looked around, not that he could see much. It was almost pitch black, wherever he was, and it was cold. Not the bitter cold of the Terra Continant, but a damp type of chill that makes the bones ache and the body tremble yet sweat at the same time.
Well, there was no help for it. He couldn't see to travel while it was so dark. He'd wait till light and then take a look around. But what if it never got light here, Janus asked himself with a start. What would he do then? The thought paniced him. He hated to think of spending the rest of his life in endless night. Or maybe he was blind? Thoughts like this terrified him, and though he tried to choke them back, he found himself curled up in a ball with tears trickling down his cheeks.
"Schala, I'm so afraid!," he whispered to himself. "I know you told me to brave the darkness but I can't. Not alone! And Lavos wants my soul...What am I to do? Schala, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry..." His sobs gradually grew less intense and he began to feel drowsy. "I let you down Schala. I'm not brave. I need you. I don't know where I am, and I might never see you again. I'm so sorry...." Though it was cold, Janus's eyes grew heavy and before long he had cried himself to sleep.
In Another Part of the World....
The sorceress Flea raced through the halls of the spooky, gray-stone castle. The spirts and demented, zombie-like apparitions scattered as she sped past them. Finaly having reached the main audiance chamber, she kicked open the doors.
"Ozzie? Ozzie! I need to talk to you!," Flea shouted. Her voice echoed errily around the high, vaulted room. "It's important!"
"What's wrong, baby? Did you break a nail again?," came a smooth, sarcastic voice. The torches went out briefly in the room as a blinding white sillohette took shape in front of her. As the torches re-lit, the white glow faded and there, hovering slightly above the ground, arms crossed over his chest, was Slash. He grinned, purplish-pink lips spreading apart and revealing white, surprisingly even teeth. "Hey, sweet thing. What's up?"
Flea rolled her eyes and curled her lip in disgusted disdain. "You're so sick, Slash!"
The blue-skinned swordsman shrugged. "I'm not the one who thinks I'm of the opposite gender."
Flea glowered and flipped her braid over her shoulder. "Don't talk down to me Slash. I could kick your sorry butt in a heart-beat." She held up a hand to stop Slash's protestations. "Yeah, whatever, Slash. I'm here to see Ozzie, not wast my breath on you." As she said this, the man, or rather, Mystic, himself, showed up.
Ozzie, leader of the Mystics, was a fat green imp who was about four feet tall with expensive silken robes on his expansive frame. Because he was so short, Ozzie levitated off the ground to make up for it. He was a ridiculous sight but no one dared to cross him, for though he was privately considered a wimp, everyone knew that he had a nasty temper. Such was the case as he appeared in the room.
"Alright, Flea! What is SO important that you had to come in here, screaming like a siren, whith that annoying voice of yours?" He placed his stubby hands on his sides, since his arms were too short to reach his hips. Both Flea and Slash bowed respectfully.
"Oh, great Ozzie. I have some strange and rather disturbing news," Flea said, after her superior waved for her to rise. She took some small pleasure in seeing that Slash hadn't been bid to do the same, and as such, he had to stand doubled over in his bow. She sent a smirk in his direction before continuing. "A little after midnight I felt a tremendous power surge. I mean BIG! I've never felt such raw power in my life! And it was comming from the direction of Truce Canyon, too. I'm sure those humans are up to something."
Ozzie rubbed his chin in thought. "The king of Guardia is an old fool. Everyone knows that his son does the real ruling of the kingdom. Why would the humans be stirring up trouble?"
Slash, greatly daring, took the opportunity to interject into the conversation. "We all know that the humans fear our power. They would rather see us dead then living in their precious kingdom." He risked a glance at his leader, ignoring Flea who glared daggers at him. "I say you let me go down their with a patrol and kick some flabby human butt."
"That is very true, Slash." Ozzie paced a bit, one hand behind his back, the other still rubbing his chin. "But I don't want start any trouble before the time is right." Though not noted to be incredibly quick witted, the Mystic leader wasn't stupid. It was very true what the swordsman had said. For many, many years, long before Ozzie had been even born, humans and Mystics had held a grudging respect for each other, living side by side, but not interacting if they could help it. Humans were magicless while the Mystics controlled the power of the arcane, effectively segregating the two races from each other.
Now, however, the occupants of Guardia Kingdom were starting to form dark opinions of the Mystics, despising their use of magic, their freakish appearances, and most of all, their growing ambitions. Many of the younger Mystics began to believe it was time for their race to take the power from the weak humans and transfer it to themselves. It was the Mystics who should rule the land, they belived, not the spinless wimps like old King Guardia and his snot-faced son.
Slash and Flea, though as different a two sides of a coin, were agreed on that point adamantly. They had even started a resistance force to train as warriors and magicians to help in battle, if that's what it came down to. They believed that an armed force would undoubtedly scare the old king right off the throne and whip the humans into line. And while Ozzie didn't like the idea of war with the humans, he had to applaud his bumbling captains for their efforts.
"I don't know, Ozzie. I think Slash is right, for once," the sorceress replied, leaning one elbow on Slash who was still bowing. The swordsman ground his teeth as the weight made his back begin to cramp. He swore silently and reminded himself for the hundreth time that week to teach Flea who her betters were. "I mean, if the humans are plotting something, then we should check it out. Maybe not attack them, because that's just dumb, but at least do some scouting."
Ozzie nodded at that. "Yes, Flea, that seems to be a reasonable plan. I aprove of it. Very well, you may do your scouting," he said. Flea ground her elbow into Slash's back, just out of spite, and flashed him a smug grin. Ozzie decided to pop her bubble, just because he liked to keep the captains on edge. "I also want Slash to accompany you, my dear."
"WHAT?!," she cried in shock. Slash stood up so fast that he threw her off balance and the Mystic went sprawling on her back. The swordsman drew his sword, from which he was named, and sliced at the air.
"Thank you, great Ozzie! I won't let you down." He prodded the stunned Flea with the toe of his boot. "And I'll keep this fashion freak in line." He laughed at Flea's outraged expression and twirled in the air, vanishing to his room to prepare for the journey.
"Hey! Wait for me!," Flea snapped, a wind howling around her and raising her cloak like wings. In a second she two had dissapeared. Ozzie stood there a moment longer, thinking. Though he hadn't said it, he too had felt the power surge that Flea had spoken of. The leader of the Mysics had the feeling that something or someone very benificial to his plans was about to come his way.
Janus groggily rolled over on the hard ground he was laying on. Wet grass brushed his hand, tickling him. Irritably he rubbed the itch and squinted, trying to block the light from...Light?! The prince sat up so fast that his head spun dizzily. He waited for it to stop before attempting to open his eyes. After a moment, his head cleared and he took the first look at the world around him.
He was sitting on a damp patch of grass and dirt in the middle of trees. HUGE trees. Trees bigger then some of the buildings in the Magic Kingdom. And there were bushes and flowers so dense that it seemed impossible to get through them. What had Gaspar called places like these? Jungles, he thought. Was this a jungle? And if so, where was he?
There was no snow, so he wasn't on Terra Continant, and it definitely wasn't cold enough to be there anyway. No place on Zeal had trees of this size been seen, so he obviously wasn't there. No continant floated in the sky. Obviously, Zeal Kingdom was either long gone or yet to be. Gaspar had said that these...jungles had been around a long time ago. Was he in the past?
"I hope not," Janus said out loud. "I would hate to run into any sort of big toothy creatures like I saw in those cave pictures. That wouldn't be good at all." He stood up and brushed in vain at the grass stains and mud that marred his attire and clotted in his hair. "I probably look like a royal mess, as Belthazar would say," he murmmured a bit forlornly. He felt a lump forming in his throat as he remembered the faces of those he had privately cared about but never admitted. Schala's face rose to the surface above all others. Poor Schala must be so worried, he thought. She probably thinks I'm gone for good.
Janus lifted his chin bravely. Well, he wouldn't be able to get anything done if he started to cry like some silly little kid. If he ever wanted to see Schala again, he had to pull himself together and face the facts. He was lost in a strange world, so the first thing he needed to do was find civilization, if there was any, and ask some questions. Taking a deep breath, he set one foot infront of the other and began to follow what appeared to be some sort of path.
As he walked, the boy began to notice the sounds of birds. He'd never actually seen live birds outside of cages before. At first he marvled at them but after a while decided that they didn't look too friendly. He followed a ledge and came across a rope bridge. He tested it gingerly, looking at the drop below. It was very sturdy and so he crossed as quick as he could. As he did, Janus noticed some treasure chests lying around. He considered openeing them, but decided against it. After all, he had been brought up properly, and it would never do to snoop into someone elses stuff.
The path curved slightly and became rather steep as it went down. Walking carefully, he made it down to more level ground where he caught sight of two green little kids about his size playing with a ball. They looked nothing like he had ever seen in his life. Besides being green, they had big eyes and wore overalls and had very sharp little teeth. Janus was certain that he didn't want to mess with them at all, so he decided to try and sneak past them.
As he did, however, one of the green kids kicked the ball and it hit him smack in the stomach, knocking him over. The prince landed on his back with a thud. For a moment, he couldn't breath. The ball was surprisingly heavy. To his amazement and sudden fear, the ball popped open two huge eyes and ears and bounced up and down on him waving a little flower. He gave a shout and the ball hopped off him and rolled back over to the green kids.
"Hey, sorry about that. You okay? I didn't mean ta hit ya. Here, lemme help ya up," the green kid said. His buddy went after the ball and stopped it with his foot while the first one helped Janus up. "Why are you wearing a disguise up here? You don't need one around us."
"Huh?," Janus asked before he could stop himself. The green kid narrowed his eyes suspiciously but the second one called to him.
"Ah, don't be so nosy! If he wants to wear a disguise let him. Probably is heading for a party or something," the second one said, standing on the ball and walking on it, making it spin. To Janus, he said, "Don't mind him. He's just a snoop, that's all."
The first one patted Janus on the back in a friendly manner. "Yeah, sorry pal. I'll let ya keep your secrets. But be carefull if you're going into town, okay? If ya let your disguise slip just once, they'll string you up from the nearest tree. And not even Ozzie can save you if THAT happens."
The prince was now majorly confused. Ozzie? Disguise? Green kids and animals for playing kick-ball? This new world was very strange indeed. He wondered, not without some dread, if all the people of this place were like these weird little kids. He mumbled a "thanks" and continued down the path. It wasn't long before he found his way down the mountain. As he walked, a thick mist began to rise up around him, as if the world itself was trying to hide from his view. It choked out the sun, and made the land seem dark and dreary, mysterious yet opressive. It was like some weight had been settled, never to be lifted again. In the distance, the hazy outline of buildings could be seen. Perhaps it was a town.
Janus rushed forward, heedless of what dangers may have been in store. All he knew was that here was civilization. Here he may find a way to get home. It only took his a few minutes to reach the village. It seemed that no one was about, but in this type of weather, who would be? Since it was bad manners to simply walk into a house and ask questions, he looked for some public place where he could perhaps make some inquiries. A sign hung above one of the buildings. It read Ye Olde Truce Inn. Inside, there appeared to be quite a bit of rucus. Laughter and the clank of mugs wafted out to him in little intervals, as if something was going on inbetween to quiet them down. Gathering his courage, Janus pushed oped the door.
As he entered, he noticed that several people turned to him with dark glances to each other. Only one man, a dusty traveler in patched and stained leather, ignored him and took a long swig from his mug. Gradually, the people returned to looking at the man instead of Janus, though they did seem to keep a watchfull eye on him.
"So what happened next, Toma?," asked a lovely young barmaid, tossing her blond curls over her shoulder and leaning eagerly towards the man, allowing him a look down her blouse. He smiled apreciatively and chucked her chin gently.
"So there I was," he continued dramaticly to the crowd, though his eyes were on the barmaid. "I had fifty Mystics bearing down on me. I knew my time had come. All I had to defend myself with was a bottle of soda pop and my trusty cat-claws. It looked pretty hopeless." He took another drink from his mug. He set it on the counter and the barmaid filled it up from a jug marked "Cidar".
"What did you do then, Toma?," asked an old man from a corner. The adventurer winked shrewdly and held a finger to the side of his nose. Everyone grinned in anticipation. The old man laughed. "I know that look! It was something devious wasn't it?"
"You bet your bottom coin it was!," Toma smirked. "I knew it was either them or me. So I did the only thing I could think of."
"What?," everyone, except Janus of course, asked in unison. Toma raised his mug to the assembled people in a mock salute. They held their breaths, waiting.
"I took out the soda and offered to pass out drinks on me!," he laughed. Everyone busted up, even though the joke was lost on Janus. He simply rolled his eyes. What did he expect from peasents?
The old man who had spoken earlier wiped his eyes and held out his hand to Toma. "What a tale! Brings back memories of my youth." Toma shook his hand gratefully and leaned closer.
"If you think THAT was good, just wait till I tell you what the Mystics and I talked about while we drank!" Toma pulled up a chair and as everyone went back to doing other things, he launched into a long and rather bawdy story that made the old man's eyes twinkle and Janus and the barmaid blush. But as his flaming face burned hot with embarresment, his mind was working.
Janus could see that Toma was obviously well travled and well versed in the lay of the land. Maybe he was the one who might be able to answer some of his questions. The prince waited patiently untill Toma wrapped up his story with a toast to the old man's health and moved back to the bar. He then aproached the man.
Toma glanced at him briefly as he climbed onto the stool next to him. The adventurer whistled. "Dang, kid! It isn't every day you see hair that color. It I didn't know better, I'd say you were a Mystic." He finished off his cidar and motioned for another to be brought. The bartender slid one down to him and Toma flipped him a coin. "That mop must be a damned pain in the ass. I know I wouldn't want to have it."
Janus touched his matted hair and glowered. "How dare you tell me that!," he flared, the royal arrogance comming into play. "I like my hair, thank you very much! Where I come from, blue hair is a mark of distinction, unlike your common peasent brown which shows lack of breeding. I happen to be royalty!" Toma looked at him blankly and rolled his eyes.
"O-kay! That's a first!"
"But it's TRUE!," Janus wailed. Several people turned around, snickered at him, and turned away. Lowering his voice, he repeated, "It's true!"
Toma laughed long and loud. "Come off it, son! There has never been a blue-haired child in the royal family. Ever! And besides, none of the royal family has even half of your snobishness." Taking a deep drink, he sighed happily. "Not even the Chancellor, and he's got a twelve-foot pole up his...well, never mind."
Janus was silent as he absorbed this news. No blue-haired royalty? If it was highly uncommon for blue hair to be seen, then the world must be populated by...Earthbound or their decendants! That was probably why the Magical Kingdom didn't float in the sky. But if so, what became of it?
After a while, he said, "Mister, uh, Toma, sir? Have you ever heard of a place called Zeal Kingdom?"
Toma frowned and his mustash bristled. "Come to think of it, yes. A long time ago, there was a magical kingdom that floated above the clouds. But some disaster made it crash into the sea. Because of that, new continants were formed down below. Why do you ask? Hey! Son, are you alright? Bartender, pass me another mug of cidar for the boy!"
Janus had gone deathly pale. Zeal Kingdom, destroyed, long ago....Long ago...Schala was gone. His world was gone. If the Magical Kingdom was burried beneathe the waves then he must have been right. The Earthbound did take over, which consequently meant that he was in....the future.