The Story Of Magus Chapter Seven
A New Beginning (2)
Flea trudged wearily up the steep slope of Truce Canyon, sweating and grumbling all the way, while Slash hovered casually beside her. She paused for a moment, leaning against the trunk of an old oak tree, resting her sore legs which ached from the climb. Slash rose above her and reclined on a sturdy branch. He chuckled at the tired magician.
"You didn't have to walk you know. You could have used your magic," he grinned. Flea glared at him, since she hadn't recovered her breath enough yet to retort. "I mean, c'mon toots! Whatever made that energy surge last night couldn't possibly have gone far, and if it's dangerous, well....The sooner we dispatch it, the sooner we can go home and put our feet up."
"Exactly the reason that I wish to conserve my strength, Slash. But I'm sure your pea-brain wouldn't have figured that out," Flea commented sarcasticly. "You'd probably run up to whatever it was and try and stick your sword in it before even bothering to examine or question it." Slash laughed in good-natured contempt and made a bored gesture.
"It beats all that mumbo-jumbo and finger wiggling you call magic!," he chuckled, waggling his own fingers in demonstration. He patted his Slasher sword on the hilt, stroking it lovingly as one does a favorite pet. "Give me a good old-fashioned fight any day. I'll leave those coin tricks and dissapearing acts up to the likes of you." Moving with a grace and agility that seemed out of place in the odd swordsman, he hopped down from the branch. His feet didn't touch the ground and he continued to hover. Flea watched him with a lazy disdain.
"So speaks one of little intelect or understanding. You are so dense, Slash! I'm beginning to think your head is made of wood or something."
Slash shrugged. "Whatever you say, babe. I'm not arguing with you." Turning on the air, since he couldn't very well turn on his heel, he started floating back up the path.
Flea looked at him in shock. Hurriedly she caught up with him. "You're not arguing with me?"
"Well, why not?!" Stopping dead in her tracks, the magician crossed her arms in irritation. How dare Slash dissrupt their rutine! They ALWAYS argued! It wasn't fair for him to start agreeing with her now. "It's because you know I'm right, isn't it? Ha! It's about time you realized that!"
But Slash shook his head. "No, it's just that I realize that you are SO stupid and SO far off the mark that I decided it isn't worth my time or effort to correct you. After all," he grinned devilishly, "some animals can't be trained." He laughed at Flea who's face was so red from furry that she looked positively beet-like. "Anyway, stop lagging behind. I don't want to spend any more time around here then we have to."
"What's the matter? Scared a human's gonna jump out and grab ya?" Flea leapt at him, breaking his levitation and knocking him into the dust. Calmly, the swordsman tripped her from his position on the ground. Flea landed with a thud next to him.
"No, I'm not scared. You should know that nothing short of Ozzie in his underwear could scare me." Slash got up and dusted himself off, offering a hand down to the other Mystic. "I just want to get on with this investigation. I'm hot and I'm getting hungery and I just want to get back."
The two kept struggling up the mountain, Flea complaining about how she was missing her beauty nap and that now she needed a bath because she had twigs in her braid and what all else. Slash kept quiet most of the time because when the magician was on a roll, nothing, except maybe an ambush, could have shut her up.
They eventually came across the two green imps kicking the roly back and forth. When they saw Flea and Slash, they shrieked and tried to escape into the bushes. Flea yawned a waved a hand at them. Imediately, the two imps were frozen in place. The roly, not being very bright to begin with, huddled where they had left it, too scared to move an inch. Slash walked up to the first imp and drew his sword.
"Tell us all you know about that mysterious power that happened last night or I'll slice your greasy little ears off and make you eat them!," he threatened, poking the imp with the blade. The imp wailed.
"I don't know what you're talking about! I don't live around here! I'm his cousin, Harval, visiting from the Denadoro Mountains area. I stop by every day to play roly-ball with him, but I never heard anything about a mysterious power before," the imp wimpered patheticaly. Slash grunted and walked over to the second imp who screamed and tried futily to run away, though he was rooted to the spot.
The swordsman gave a few experimental swings over the second imps head before letting the heavy blade rest on it's shoulder. "So your cousin Harval comes to visit you, eh?"
"Uh, yes, s-sir. I l-like to play kick the roly-ball with him," the second imp murmered weakly. Slash rubbed his chin, a vain attempt to look subtle. Flea would have laughed if she thought she could get away with it.
"And you live in this area, correct?," Slash continued. The imp could barely nod his head but he managed to do so...slightly. "Did you feel any type of strange, magical outflow last night, around oh, close to midnight? Or a little after?"
The imp thought for a second. "Yes, sir. I did."
"Very good! Now, you're going to tell us everything you know about that energy or else I'll get Flea here to turn you into the little roach you are and I'll step on you. Is that clear?" Slash let the swordblade nick the imp's shoulder.
"Okay!," he yelped. "I don't know what caused it or where it came from. But I know that this morning, a human kid came down from the top of the canyon. He was really weird! Funny clothes, blue hair...A real odd ball, that one!" He saw the swordsman's face darken and he gulped loudly.
Flea frowned and spoke up, clearing her throat. "Are you certain it was a human? Not just a Mystic in disguise? It sounds awfully suspicious. Are you positive you didn't make a mistake, because if you did and are leading us on....!"
"No sir, er, ma'am," the first imp, Harval, called out. The two generals turned to look back at him. "At first, we thought the kid might be an imp, going to a party or something, and that he was probably wearing a disguise. I told my cousin there, after the kid left, that I thought it was strange that he didn't talk about who he was or what he was doing...Us imps generaly aren't like that with each other."
Flea waved a hand and the spell was lifted. Harval and his cousin raced off into the bushes, closely followed by the roly. Slash rounded on Flea. "What did you do that for? I could have gotten more information out of them!"
The magician sneered. "Your brain is as thick as your rear-end, Slash! There was no more infromation to be had. They obviously knew nothing more of use." Slash cursed under his breath and sheathed his sword, slamming it into the metal casing visciously.
"But you still didn't have to go and ruin my fun! I collect imps! They're part of my...trophy display."
Flea regarded him with disgust. "Oh, I did NOT want to hear that! You just HAD to go there didn't you? Who wants to collect imps?! Give me human heads any day over stupid little imps like those." Shaking her head, Flea looked around for a moment. "At any rate, we need to give this infromation to Ozzie. The humans are definitely plotting something up here."
Slash nodded. "Yes, but Ozzie won't act unless we have proof of our claims. No Flea. Our word won't cover it.," he said when she was about to protest. "We need evidence, we need facts, we need-"
Slash blinked. "Excuse me?"
"The kid! The one who came down from the top of the canyon this morning! If we could capture him, he might be able to tell us about that power." Flea rubbed her hands together gleefully. "All we need to do is find him." Shading her eyes, she looked at the sky where the sun appeared to be a hazy yellow blur through the clouds. "As you said earlier, he couldn't have gone far."
Her companion whistled and made a "T" with his hands. "Whoa, hold it! Time out here! I never said I was going to go tromping about through human infested towns looking for some kid with big powers. That's like...suicide!"
The magician clucked her tongue at Slash reprovingly. "For shame, Slash! A big tough guy like you scared by widdle itty-bittsy humans? Oh, what ever shall we do with you?" Laughing, Flea swirled her cape around her. All the trappings and glitter that marked her as a magic-user vanished. She now wore a plain brown dress, unadorned and simple. Her face had changed as well. From haughty Mystic beauty to looking like a common peasant, a smattering of freckles erased all traces of her former self. Looking at Slash expectantly, he crossed his arms over his chest.
"No way! Uh, uh! I'm not going into a human village and that is final!"
"Okay, son, drink this and you'll feel better," Toma said to Janus as he handed him a mug of warm spiced cidar. Janus held it in his hands absently and stared off into space. The adventerure shook his head, the mane of unkempt brown hair swishing over his shoulders. Toma twisted his mustash between his thumb and index finger as he took the opportunity to study the boy.
The kid was certainly different from anyone he'd seen, except maybe the Mystics, but he didn't have their flair for the dramatics. Instead, he seemed lost and out of place amongst the other occupants of the Inn. His clothes were fine yet out-dated it seemed, and that hair.....Sheesh! Toma cleared his throat and took a drink from his mug. He wanted some answers from this strange kid.
"So, son, what are you-", he began but Janus cut him off.
"Don't ever call me 'son' again," the prince hissed quietly. "I have no family." The last was said so softly that Toma wondered if he'd even heard it in the first place. Though his face was impassive, Toma felt a welling of pity in his heart. Obviously this boy had been through something traumatic.
"Sorry," the man replied gruffly. "I don't know your name."
"You may call me your-" Janus stopped as he realized he had been about to say, "Your Highness". What good would titles do him now? Toma had laughed at him once before over that score and the former prince refused to be insulted once more. Instead, Janus took a deep breath and replied, "You may call me Janus."
"Janus, huh? That's an unusual name," Toma commented casualy. Then, seeing the boy's face darken, he hastily amended, "But I like it just the same. It suits you well." At that, the boy's brow furrowed even more. Obviously this kid was quick to anger so it would be best to walk carefully on this dangerous ground. Hastily, he changed the subject. "So, Janus, where are you from?"
"Uh..." The boy thought quickly. He couldn't very well explain that he was from the past. People would definately lock him away, thinking he was insane or something. Finaly, for lack of a better response, he replied, "I...don't really know...where I'm from."
Toma raised an eyeborw. "You don't know where you're from?"
Janus flared. "That's what I just said, didn't I?!"
Toma held up his hands. "Okay, okay, sorry! I just wanted to make sure I'd heard you correctly. Mind if I ask why you don't know?" The boy's face fell again. Toma waited patiently to hear the kid's response.
"I can't really seem to, uh, remember."
"You can't remember?"
"Do you have a hearing problem or was your mother a parrot?," Janus asked in disgust. The man's face flushed angrily. The little brat! But even as he thought this, the anger died. The boy was scared, that much was obvious. Oh, he might try to hide behind all that bluster and show of temper, but under the surface, he was a frightened child.
Toma tried again. "Okay, where did you come from this morning?"
Janus seemed to relax, as if back on known territory. "From that mountain behind the town."
"I see. How about you tell me all that you remember about who you are and what you know and we'll see what we can piece together."
Janus struggled with that. He didn't really want to tell Toma anything at all, but it would look suspicious if he didn't. And besides that, he would need a place to stay, at least untill he was able to find a way to get back to his own time, if that was possible. "Well, let me see here," he stalled, thinking up a plausible story. "Well, I woke up on the mountain-"
"Truce Canyon," Toma interrupted.
"Right. I woke up in Truce Canyon and I had no idea how I'd gotten there. So I was walking down, trying to find a town when I came acrossed....Um, anyway, I came to the town and-"
"Whoa, slow down there. What were you about to say? What did you come acrossed?"
Janus shifted uncomfortably. "It's dumb, let's just skip it. I was probably mistaken anyway, delerious or something."
"No, what was it, Janus?," Toma demanded sternly. The boy sighed and mumbled something. "Huh? Speak up. I can't understand a word of what you're saying."
"I said, 'I found some green children' okay?", the boy snapped, embarressed. "I know it sounds wierd but -"
"No, not wierd at all. Those weren't green kids, they were imps."
Janus frowned. Obviously this man had never been taught to let a person finish his sentance. Honestly, Janus thought, I've never been interrupted so much in my entire life! "Imps?," he repeated. Oh, great! Now he was doing the word repeating too! Toma was not a very good influence.
"Yes, imps. Slimy, boot-licking lackeys for the Mystics. They pop up almost everywhere around here. They are such a damned nuisance, but unfourtunately, there's not much we can do about them. Go on with your story."
"Well, anyway, I came acrossed those...imps, and they scared me half to death. They said they wanted whatever money I had and when I told them I had none, they...kicked a ball at me. It hit me and I went tumbling down the mountain. I think I knew where I came from this morning, but since I fell down from Truce Canyon, I'm an empty book." Janus finished with a wave of his arms as if demonstrating his words with actions. He was quite pleased with the tale. It was part truth, part fiction but he hoped Toma would buy it.
Toma scratched his chin thoughtfully. The story he'd been told seemed credible, for imps were know to be that way to strangers traveling alone. But, on the other hand, what buisness had a kid up in Truce Canyon? Something didn't add up but he couldn't put his finger on it. Oh well, he thought, it's probably none of my buisness.
"So, where are you staying, boy? You can't plan to just wander around untill your memory returns," the adventurer stated bluntly. Janus shifted uncomfortably. He didn't like the idea ofaccepting charity if Toma did ask for him to stay with him for the time being. Angrily, the boy pushed the thought from his head. Fool!, he thought, this is a matter of survival!
Raising his head, he met Toma's gaze squarely, proudly. "I have no place to stay." Toma snorted.
"Figures. Oh, well. It can't be helped. I'll tell you what, kid. I know this family who has a son about your age. They owe me a couple favors. If I ask them, I'm sure they'll give you a place to stay for a while."
Janus nodded absently and took a long drink of the tangy cidar. He would have perfered to stay with Toma, but that was only because the uncouth human was the only person he actually was aquainted with. But seeing no other alternative, Janus grudgingly was forced to accept his fate.
Toma led Janus to a small house near a small forest that grew outside a huge stone castle. Janus wrinkled his nose in sardonic humor. Well, it wasn't a surprise to see that the Earthbound descendants weren't as advanced as the Enlightened had been. Their dwellings, though a good deal better then the caves they'd inhabited on Terra Continant, were still fairly primative in comparison to Zealian architecture. Though every now and again, when the smoky sunlight filtered through the clouds and mist, Janus would wince as he saw shadows of arches and shilohettes of towers that were achingly familiar.
"C'mon, kid, don't lag behind. You'd think you'd never seen Guardia Castle before," Toma chuckled. Then, realizing that perhaps his companion might not remember seeing it, he stopped laughing and cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Um, ahem! Anyway, this family I'm taking you to live with is really nice. You'll like them, I'm sure, especially their son. He's a bright young thing. He'll be quick with a sword, that's for sure." Toma grinned rather proudly at that in such a peculiar way that Janus was forced to wonder if Toma was keeping something a secret.
As the approached the house, the door was flung open wide and a boy with sandy blond hair that flew wildly about his face came running out. "Uncle Toma! Uncle Toma!," he cried gleefully, throwing his arms around the adventurer. Toma returned the hug just as warmly.
"Hey, squirt! How ya doing?," he asked, ruffling the boy's hair. Janus watched all this with a bored expression. Family scenes always seemed to make him nauseus. Toma was oblivious to all, even the former prince, and hefted the boy up on his shoulders. "So, been practicing with that sword I made you?"
"Yes, sir! I betcha momma can't wait to see you Uncle Toma. She's up at the castle with pappa," the boy informed them. Toma groaned and set the boy down.
Shading his eyes, Toma looked at the hazy sky. "I guess there's no help for it." To Janus, he said, "You stay here and get aquainted with each other. I'll be back in a little while. Don't get into mistchief, understand?"
"We promise, Uncle Toma," the boy said solomnly, putting a comradely arm around Janus's shoulders. The former prince found this familiarity to be extremely irritating but he ground his teeth and reigned in his temper. Hitting the other boy would solve nothing and only accomplish his losing the first chance for shelter and food...and a possible friend. Having been seperated from most children because of his position, and though he'd never admit it, his temperment, Janus found the idea of a companion his own age to be most apealing.
The boys waved farewell to the adventurer as he headed into the spooky looking forest that surrounded Guardia Castle. He was soon lost from sight in the dense ground mist that continually swirled in the still air. Janus lowered his arm and looked expectantly at the other boy who grinned at him. The former prince raised an eyebrow slightly.
"So", he siad, "what are we going to do now?" The blond boy shrugged.
"Dunno. What do you want to do?"
Janus checked a sigh of exasperation and rolled his eyes. Peasants! "Why don't we start by telling each other our names?"
The blond boy smacked his forehead and laughed. It was infectious. Janus started to chuckle hesitantly as if unsure what he was laughing at. But in a second or two, he was laughing right along with the other boy. It felt good to laugh. It seemed as if it had been ages since he'd felt so alive. The laughing chased away the darkness that remained in his soul from the events he'd so recently faced.
"I'm sorry! I was so rude! I should have introduced myself right away," the boy gasped, taking a deep breath to help calm himself. Janus waved a hand, dismissing the statement as he wiped tears from his eyes.
"It's quite alright." Holding out his small hand in a gesture of friendship, the former prince of Zeal said, "My name is Janus." His companion placed his grubby, play-worn hand in his and shook it firmly.
"Pleased to meet ya, Janus," he replied. With a huge smile, he announced, "My name is Cyrus. I hope we get to be good friends!"
If Toma had known when he'd introduced these two pawns of fate the courses their lives would take, he would have gladly admitted that it would be one adventure he would want to miss. But he didn't know, for he was doing only what he felt was best for Janus. And so, the true tests for the former prince of Zeal were about to begin.