Another life, part 4
Chapter 12 Four dead, not deaths
The first king of Mystics chuckles, places his free fist against his chest and bows.
"At your service," he says.
The voice that ripped out the dark heart.
Warrior gives a laugh and thumps his leader's back so hard that Lizard almost falls over.
"Shame on you, my friend," the powerful voice of Slash's ancestor booms, "you said you'd die before bowing for another human."
You now face two of the four dead...
The black wind wasn't warning for deaths to come, but announcing those who already are...?
"He is dead, barbarian," the doubting voice smiles, "or rather, not even born yet."
Magician, Flea's forefather, materializes just beside his companions.
You now face three... the black wind softly whispers.
"A promise is a promise, right?" Warrior merrily grins.
The grin on Lizard's lips dissolves, and he watches me gravely.
"And I swore that I would repay your and your friends' help, which was vital in our battle for freedom," he grimly says and sighs, "or if I wouldn't be able to do so, one of my family line would repay you in my place."
Magician chuckles and points at Lizard with his thumb.
"Would you believe it?" the softly red skinned monster snorts, "he spends his life fighting against humans and then he turns heaven upside down until they agree to let him return in order to help a few of you."
"Now, now," Warrior snorts, "don't get condemning just because they are humans."
"Mind your manners both of you," Lizard grins.
Behind their backs, Charash is moving again. He's obviously surprised, and very frustrated. His great tail hits the floor and causes another earthquake.
Magician almost falls over, but Warrior grabs his shoulder as all three of them sway by the tremors.
"My belief was that ghosts were untouched by such mortal troubles," Frog says and scrambles to his feet, his voice slightly unsteady of the remaining surprise.
"Frankly we're not really ghosts," Magician confesses, "we're a little more sturdy than when we were during our life span, but if we get killed we're going back up without further notice."
"But you're not even born!" I point out, frowning, "how can you return as ghosts three thousand years from your existence?"
"You are getting on my nerves!" Charash growls and opens his mouth again.
"Spirits have free insight in the whole history, it's really nothing," Warrior calls as he leaps aside with his sword on his back and a companion's shoulder in each hand. I throw my cloak at Molor, Frog and Crono and then clumsily jump to avoid the flames.
It wasn't really needed.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water!"
The roaring flames drown the chanting, but despite that a seemingly fragile figure dressed in a purple cloak halts the powerful heat with an enormous wall of ice.
"What the...?" Charash growls, irritated.
The flames disappears, and after them the ice.
"I don't like it when evil beasts mess with my children," queen Zeal coldly says.
And the fourth, whom you've already met, prince of a fallen kingdom...
"Mother?!" Schala gasps, taking one step backwards.
Marle's jaw is about to hit the floor. Schaliya just watches her own mother with confusion. I'm surprised, but less than my sister and the princess of the future.
"I am sorry from the bottom of my heart for all the terrible things that happened, and I truly mean it!" queen Zeal honestly calls and hurriedly throws up a second wall for the fire.
But this time, she's forced several feet backwards.
"Any of you have strength enough for another magic blow?" Magician shouts, his eyes going over the stunned Cered, Lucca, Marle and me.
"Are you pulling my leg?" the inventor calls back, helplessly shaking her head.
I'm also far too drained of power, and I'm certain that the people still inside of my cloak and mind haven't anything left to give either. Marle shakes her head.
No can do.
Mother is forced to back even more for yet another attack from the dragon.
"Well, I guess we have no choice then!" Warrior merrily says and throws Lizard at me.
The green monster spins around and lands on his feet, looking over his shoulder with a roll of his eyes.
"Stop doing that, for heaven's sake!" he sighs.
"Lizard, quit fooling around!" mother shouts, backing again.
The first king of Mystics gravely nods and turns to me.
"I think we have to try that saving theory again, my friend," he says, "I need to see the snake."
My eyebrows twitch, but I shake my cloak without really questioning him. Frog, Crono and Molor steps out of it.
"What..." my kindred spirit begins.
"Care for a second round?" Lizard says, grinning.
He takes the scythe I'll give him in the future in his left hand instead and reaches out his right hand for Molor.
"I demand that this curse shall be lifted immediately!" the king of monsters growls.
By the powers...
"I accept!" Molor screech, almost madly triumphant.
His long body is covered in a red light, and as soon as it ceases he begins to grow.
"Why you little...!" Charash roars and flies to his feet.
"Keep him occupied, I need a moment!" Molor hisses with an evil grin, his voice growing deeper and more powerful for every single word.
My only begun transformation was burning torture, but my kindred spirit seems to morph with pleasure.
"Janus, take this!" Frog growls.
I spin around at him, and he sends a small bottle filled with a yellow liquid through the air. My hand grabs it by instinct.
"Why didn't you tell me you had one earlier?" I mutter, not really mad at him.
"Thou did not speak the query," he says and rolls his eyes.
I turn around.
"Use everything you've got!" I shout as I rush over the floor towards Cered, "we have to slow him down for a few moments!"
"What..." Cered begins as Lucca's strained but resolute chanting starts somewhere behind the sound of Charash's movements.
"Use that Spirit Flame again!" I tell him and push the potion called full ether into his hand.
He grimly nods.
"Very well, brother."
"And tell your blasted princess to stop looking at me like that," I growl without even looking at the cut off corner of the cave.
"Looking at thee?" Frog's voice calls behind me, disbelieving.
"Oh, good grief..." Marle groans.
"What?" I growl, irritated.
"Cered," Frog yells, grinning, "I fear we must ponder the way that the mind of thy princess works. That lady must simply be mad."
I look around, finding a very stupid grin on both the knight and Crono's lips. The realization makes me feel sick.
"My ears hear naught!" I snarl, "stop being idiots and chant!"
"Thy 'ears hear naught'?!" Frog laughs despite the fact that our situation requires focusing, "Janus, thou art in grave danger!"
"Shut it, reptile!" I growl, and I'm becoming really angry.
Still grinning Frog turns to Charash. The dragon's nostrils and the back of his throat are flaming; he's trying to build up a massive fire this time.
"Now that's not going to work, my friend!" Molor roars mockingly as thin black legs, as a burned skeleton's grow out of his sides, "you should know well that such a move is a grave waste of power." Charash hesitates for a moment, giving Lucca and Marle time to finish their chanting. The princess has more power left, therefore the inventor's flames are nothing but shadows on the blocks of ice.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water!" I mutter.
Marle's magic is the one that seem to work best since it's a magic of material, and it's about what I can handle for the moment.
It could be that the dragon is resistant, but the weight of the ice is still there.
Cered's chanting drowns mine, and I duck to avoid the power dashing from his magic. This blow is weaker than the last one, but still effective. The dragon is forced a few steps backwards, and I drop a couple of cold rocks on his neck. Magician follows my example.
Before the king of dragons' has fully recovered the cave shivers by an unearthly screech. I look up.
Charash looks up.
Both of us freeze. And so does everyone else facing Molor.
His transformation is completed.
He is hideous.
His body is black and thin, not at all muscled as Charash's. He seems to be built up mostly by scales and bones, using as little flesh as possible. More like a skeleton than a living dragon. The enormous wings on his back are shining like fresh blood against the rest of him, his white, bent teeth not hidden behind any lips simply because there are none.
He is absolutely hideous.
And the power he emits is overwhelmingly fascinating; how that thin body can seem so strong.
I get to my feet, and there's a cold smile on my lips.
Molor turns his enormous head at me, and in his yellow eyes there is a triumph that I share with him.
'I will take care of Charash, friend,' he whispers in my mind, in a low voice not to disrupt my spirit with his force.
'That would be appreciated,' I reply, grinning.
He smiles coldly, since he has no lips that smile is living only in my mind.
His long, sharp tail moves into my reach, I grab it with both hands and he sends me flying to the corner where the prisoners stand. I land on my feet without any trouble and reach out my hand for Schala to awake her from the shock.
Schaliya lets go of her mother and reach up to take my hanging hand. With a smile of relief I bend down and take her small face between my scale free fingers and palms.
"I felt no fear, I knew that thee would come!" she smiles.
"You're much braver than I thought, little one," I tell her with a smile, "now I'll bring you to safety."
Schala's hands grab my shoulders as I straighten up, and then she throws her arms around my neck.
"Thank all the powers that you are alright, Janus!" she grimly whispers.
I don't say a word at first, just place my hands on her shoulders and nod.
"Are you alright?" I ask.
Schala's breathing gives away that she's about to speak again, but all of us startle at the two roars. I spin around to see Molor and Charash's heads dash against each other, their claws tearing off scales and dark flesh wherever they can reach. Despite his seemingly loss of muscles my kindred spirit is obviously truly very strong. Charash seems unable to force him backwards even when attacking with all his might.
"Shall we move a little?" Marle suggests with a rather weak voice.
I turn my head and find myself staring into the eyes of Lashey. Her silly little snake is on her shoulder, watching me with similar cold fascination.
"You might as well dream about flying, lady," I sharply say.
Lashey's eyebrows twitch a little, but the creepy interest in her eyes only grows.
Can't I say anything to make her angry?!
"Thou art a proud and stubborn man, lord Janus," she says with a cold smile, "and that is rare these days."
"Charming. Now shut up."
I grab my cloak and sweep it through the air, sending all of the female prisoners and the white little pet out of danger.
At least I won't have to see her when she's inside of my closed mind.
I run and leap past the abyss as Molor crash into the wall where Lucca stood a few moments ago. The inventor had wisely moved though, and is unhurt.
"I can't really see how you can like him," Marle's voice says inside of my head, "but if you're that determined there's a few things I could..."
"I warn you, Marle," I sharply say while Molor gets to his feet and sends a wave of flames at Charash.
The red dragon has to back off, thereby forcing me to hurry down the cave, so as not to get too close.
"Janus, don't be so cold blooded," Schala grins.
"I see you find this really amusing!" I snarl while running.
"Please shed no fury upon thy sister, lord Janus," Lashey calmly says.
"Oh, he's not really mad," my sister tells her.
"Like hell I'm not!"
"Mind your manners, my son," mother smiles, rushing up beside me as she also moves away from Charash.
"You're telling me how to behave, mother?" I snap.
"I'm just taking my chances now since I wasn't good at it earlier," she merrily replies.
"Aww, show your mother some respect!" Warrior calls, grinning.
I glare at him. Lizard and Magician are behind the purple monster, grinning teasingly.
"Is this something that all of you have planned behind my back?" I growl, "I don't find it entertaining."
"But you'd make a sweet couple for sure!" Marle teases, laughing.
"You say so?"
A cold smile comes to my lips.
"Then tell me, Marle," I say, slowly, "do you actually want me to be your ancestor?"
There's a silence, and I feel Schala fight against a loud laugh.
"You know what," Marle finally says, nervously, "Janus has some really bad habits. Turning his best friends into amphibians and stuff..."
"Frog is certainly not my best friend, lady!" I sharply snap.
"Thou break my poor heart," the knight snorts, hurrying down the wall to escape Molor's violent tail.
"Still I find him genuinely intriguing," Lashey says with a cold smile.
I'd threaten to break her neck if it wasn't for Schaliya...
Closing the room so that I can't hear them at all seems tempting, but I don't want to risk those ladies planning something. I really thought that Schala was on my side...
Molor and Charash's heads almost hit the ceiling of the cave as they stand on their back paws, violently scratching at each other with their several feet long claws.
"I defeated you once, elder!" the blood red one snarls, "you are too old to fight!"
"And you are tired after battling the humans," Molor replies, in his voice a cold sneer, "and anyhow I'm not that old!"
"A wise king should have stepped down by seven hundred years!"
"I still have a couple hundred left, youngster!"
I suppose that he'll live past me, then... if he survives the battle.
Both of the dragons have deep cuts on their backs and front legs, dark blood is streaming over the cave's floor and makes it slippery. It's impossible to judge which one of them who is the strongest. They are swaying back and forth, trying to keep their balance while standing only on insecure back paws and attacking at the same time.
Charash sends out a clawed paw for surely the thousand time, and this time Molor doesn't have the time to move off. He is thrown down, but before the younger dragon has time to close his jaws around the long, black neck Molor sends out his long tail and wraps it around Charash's left back leg. With a roar of surprise the red beast falls, slipping on his own and Molor's blood. His heavy landing causes a smaller earthquake. Cered, who was exhaustedly leaning against the wall after his massive consumption of power, stumbles and falls to his knees. Frog hurries over to him to help him to get up again, I rush trough the air towards them without even touching the ground with my feet. Meanwhile Charash manages get up before Molor can finish him off.
"Get in!" I snarl and hold up my cloak.
"And should the beasts crush thee, all of us will perish together," the knight sighs, but dives into the cloth together with Cered.
"Father!" Schaliya's voice calls.
"Hello, sweet flower," my brother in law tiredly smiles, "art thee all well?"
"We're fine, love," Schala smiles.
"It warms my heart to hear those blessed words, rose of the desert," Cered mumbles in a rather muffled voice.
"Good to see you in one single raw piece, Frog," Marle says with a trace of embarrassment in her voice, surely because of Schala and Cered's kissing.
"I cherish thy faith in me," the knight snorts.
"Thou art as brave as my parents and my uncle!" Schaliya says with a big smile.
"I thank thee, little lady."
"Be thee not a monster?" Lashey asks with astonishment.
"Nay," Frog chuckles, "my guise speaks against me, alas I am human."
"See?" Marle nervously says, "I'm telling you, Janus has a sick sense of humor!"
I would have smiled is it wasn't for the princess' reaction.
I could shout at her to go below. The only reason I don't do it is that it seems like Schala is on her side and for the moment I haven't even the nerve for a jocular argument. You traitor, sister...
"Ah, 'tis a story I must hear one day," the emperor's daughter grins.
"I fear thee will not escape this lady too quickly, warlock," Frog sneers.
"Stop mocking me or I'll throw my cloak down the mountain!" I snap, irritated.
"Dost not be mean to my uncle!" Schaliya snorts.
"No, we're just joking," Schala says with a short laugh.
"Fantastically amusing," I say, cold as ice.
The whole world seems to shiver by Molor's roar.
Charash has buried his teeth in my kindred spirit's back. By instinct I reach for my scythe in order to help, but before I even remembered that it's meaningless, Molor has swung his long neck almost completely around. His teeth disappear into the foundation of Charash's neck and with a roar of pain the red dragon is torn away and down on the floor.
Molor places both his front paws on the battered chest of his opponent before Charash has time to make an attempt to break free.
The black dragon snaps his head upwards and secures his teeth just below the younger one's head.
One movement from either of them and Charash will be dead. He becomes completely tense, his yellow eyes wide open.
'This seems familiar, doesn't it?' Molor snarls with a telepathic voice that everyone can hear, since his mouth is too occupied to use for talking.
Charash says nothing.
'Your life is mine this time, youngster,' my kindred spirit spits out, 'I hope you learn a little respect from it.'
His great eyes move to me.
'I will let you decide this time, friend,' he gravely says, 'I owe you that.'
I look at Charash.
It seems as if everyone is holding their breath. The dragon's eyes are as wide as they possibly can become, staring at me.
I remember the flaring torture, the feeling of being torn into pieces from inside. The bitterness when Molor wouldn't tell me the truth, when the dragon forced him to turn away since that was the law. That deed, persuading my kindred spirit into almost violating our alliance, it was far darker than my agony.
Of course I know what Magus thinks, his voice is calling out to me from deep inside my soul.
I slowly shake my head.
"You know my verdict, Molor."
Charash blinks as the black dragon's teeth move away from his neck.
"What?" Frog gasps inside of my head, disbelieving.
Lucca and Crono are staring at me, just as surprised. My back is turned at the four ghosts, but I can imagine the looks on their faces.
I smile coldly.
There's nothing I enjoy more than defying Magus.
"Return to your world and don't dare to show your face here again," Molor coldly says.
Charash scrambles to his feet, his wild eyes moving between the black dragon and me. The he turns to the closest wall, which is facing the entrance to the cave. The stream of fire leaving his mouth is rather thin and weak, but it seems to work anyway.
It looks like an enormous Gate. A black, flashing hole opens in the cave wall, and with one last glare at Molor Charash dives into it, fleeing.
The portal closes.
Molor takes in a deep breath.
His thin legs bend, and he crash on the floor.
With a growl fused with a shout I rush over to his head, very concernedly putting my hands beside one of his gigantic eyes.
He watches me exhaustedly.
"That was... rather amusing..." he mutters, hoarsely.
His whole body is covered in a red light again, and he rapidly shrinks. In only a few seconds he has turned back into a snake, bloodied and torn. I sit down on my knees, carefully lifting his head from the messy floor. Lucca, mother and the three monsters walk closer, silently watching me and my kindred spirit. Those that I surpassed to my mind stumbles out of my cloak, joining the others watching.
"You did well, Molor," I say, with my thumb drying away a stream of blood that almost runs into one of his eyes, "very impressive indeed."
"I thank you, my friend..."
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water..." mother calmly chants.
Marle and Frog join in into her praying and chanting. Golden stars fall into Molor's battered body, softly covering him in a healing light.
"I thank you," he says and straightens up, freed from wounds.
"Tell me, why hast thee not spoken before, my friend?" Cered asks, carefully.
Molor's forked tongue dance between his naturally cracked lips, a silent laughter.
"The human language burns my throat," he says.
"Personally I always thought that the humans copied our language," Warrior grins, making Magician slap the back of his head with a chuckle.
"You have a wonderful daughter, Schala," I hear mother say, but I don't look up.
"Who is that, mother?" Schaliya asks.
I hear Schala take a deep breath. She's surely tormented by memories and confused gratefulness, and she has to go through all of it by herself.
But I already know the final conclusion.
"She is your grandmother, Schaliya," my sister finally says with a careful smile.
"Hello," Queen Zeal tentatively says.
"Hello, grandmother," the child happily replies.
I look up to see the two blue-haired women reach out for each other's hands, carefully. In the end they hug each other tightly, making up for the wounds that Lavos left. As mother looks up at Cered she smiles warmly. He smiles back, a bit unsure about how to handle meeting the ghost of his wife's mother.
'Why wouldn't you stay a dragon?' I ask Molor, silently.
'Your cloak would be too small,' he says with a short, dry laugh.
I have to smile at that. Then I turn my head and look at Lizard.
"Thank you for lending a hand," I gravely say.
"No problem whatsoever," he smiles.
He turns to Crono, still smiling.
"Ah yes," the first king of Mystics says, "there was one other thing. Both of your cats are in a crumbling castle, one in a distant past and one in the future. And your mother is..."
He frowns and rubs his forehead.
"Help me out, Magician," he finally sighs.
"Seventeenth February, 1984 AD. Just by the Sun Keep," the softly red monster says, grinning at his forgetful friend.
"Are you sure?" Marle asks, frowning.
"Oh, please!" Magician sighs with a laugh.
Lucca is scratching her helmet.
"Hey, now that you mention it... wasn't there a cat in the Tyrano Lair, and one helping us out in Ozzie's castle?"
"Yes indeed, inventor," Warrior says, smiling.
Crono speaks out a very heartily thanking to the three monsters.
"It's only because watching you three going like mad through history was such a sad sight," the ancestor of Slash says, waving with a hand.
"Ignore him, he's a barbarian," Magician sighs.
"Don't tell me you suddenly like humans," the purple one grins.
"You're not going to make me believe that you don't care about those here."
"I only came for the same reason I'm fighting by your side, oh great magic user," Warrior snorts, "because Lizard keeps telling me to."
"This seems somehow familiar," Marle grins, looking at me and Frog.
I ignore her, turning my gaze over the four ghosts.
"You wouldn't possibly have any information to share about these dreams I've been having?" I ask, with a grain of sharpness in my voice.
Mother lets go of Schala and shakes her head.
"No Janus, none of us have anything to do with that. Yet, I have been watching."
Oh, that really brought me into a much better mood. I turn back to Molor clenching my teeth to fight back the feeling of bitterness that someone more has seen me that weakened.
"It couldn't have happened to you," mother calmly says, as if reading my mind, "you are far too strong."
I don't answer. But to hear those words, true or not, lit up some dark part of the shame.
"It's true that we don't know anything about the dreams," mother continues, "but somebody else who's not here suggested that they perhaps are caused by your many journeys through time."
"That my mind somehow caught up with another path, so to speak?" I ask, looking up at her again.
"It's a possible theory, isn't it?" she says, shrugging her shoulders.
"I have to agree on that."
Lizard holds up his left hand, examining it. Looking closer, I notice that he's slowly turning a little more transparent.
"Well then, my friends," the king of Mystics says with a slightly sad smile, "it seems as if we're considered unneeded down here now. Warrior, mind your manners."
The purple monster rolls his eyes, but when he speaks it's with another smile.
"Goodbye. It was really fun."
"Listen to him," Magician sighs, so faded that I'm able to see the cliffs behind him, "now he thinks that it was amusing."
He shakes his head, smiling.
"My blessings, humans and... similar," he says with a wink of his eye.
"You were the one who doubted in Lizard's chances of taking care of the dragon's curses," Warrior points out.
Their voices are still to be heard as they turn into sparkling contours and disappear up through the stone ceiling.
"You weren't too enthusiastic either."
"And you still owe me twenty gold pieces."
"What are you going to do with gold if you're dead?"
"Why would you want to keep any if you're dead?"
They are gone.
Lizard's scythe dissolves in his grip as he reach up to massage his forehead.
"You know, I'm the one who has to spend the eternity with those two..."
"I have noticed that you turn to Snake for help when they become too much for you," mother points out with a laugh.
Lizard tiredly smiles and shakes his head, his gaze going over us living people.
"Fare well," he says as he looses his body more and more, "I look forward to seeing you again."
"Goodbye," I say with a small smile.
As Lizard comes to the roof, he reaches out his arms and pulls the Masamune free from the stone's grip. The sword floats down into Frog's grateful hand. It seems as if he has made peace with his blade once again. I guess that's a good thing.
Mother smiles carefully.
"We will meet again, therefore I don't want to say goodbye," she says and begins to ascend.
"Until we meet again, then," I say, not calling.
I know that she can hear me anyhow, no matter if I speak or merely think the words.
That's my mother, after all. Not the Queen Zeal I killed with Frog and Crono's help.
Schala waves after the disappearing ghost, a warm smile tickling her lips.
"Be well, grandmother!" Schaliya calls and waves with both her small hands.
"Take care!" mother smiles.
She's gone. "How utterly mystifying..." Lashey mumbles, absentmindedly caressing her snake's head with a fingertip.
Intruding, silly little... I grit my teeth, trying to ignore her presence completely.
'I, for one, do not find it amusing,' Molor mutters with a shudder.
My only true ally in this matter, perhaps...
"Maybe it's just me who finds this place rather uncozy," Lucca says, "but I'd be really glad if you would find in your heart to get us away from here, Janus."
"I think I can manage."
I straighten up and throw a glance at Lashey with an inner sigh. Then I put my fingertips together and start to chant the teleportation spell.
Chapter 13 A turn for the worse or the better?
The emperor even rushes from his throne in surprise, the guards draw their swords and the many servants either back in shock or lift their hands for protection or battle as a powerful light explodes from thin air.
"Thy power is great, Lord Janus," Lashey says with a smile that in my view is similar to the sound of a claw against a plate.
"Lashey!" the emperor gasps.
"Princess?" several others call in surprise.
Lashey moves over to her father and takes his hands. I suppose that their strict courtesy forbids greater show of emotions even when the daughter has been imprisoned by a dragon.
Even I find that sickening, throwing a glance at Schaliya.
"I was saved by these brave heroes lead by Lord Janus," the princess smiles.
"Pha!" I snort, perhaps mostly angered because it's she who says it.
"Thee said it best," Frog nods with a roll of his eyes.
The emperor makes Lashey move aside by moving his hands that are holding hers.
'Fall on your knees and find yourself without legs,' I silently snap at Cered.
'But brother, 'tis the emperor!' my brother in law groans.
'And I am serious.'
"I thank thee, warriors," the emperor says, "be there anything that I can do to repay thee?"
"Marry off your daughter to a nobleman of this town. Good day," I coldly say and begin to chant even before Cered has time to attack me.
As we enter the small town square of the village where our family lives, however, my brother in law has the time.
"Brother, hast thee not a grain of mercy?!" he growls.
"No," I reply.
"Why dost thee not simply run thy scythe through my chest and get it over with... being rude to the emperor!"
"I dost not like the emperor either," Schaliya says, wrinkling her nose, "he emits cold air."
"And now he hast devasted my daughter too," Cered moans, "this fair land is falling to pieces."
Schala begins to laugh. Marle joins in after a moment, followed by Crono and Lucca. To the sound of Frog's chuckling, my sister wraps her arms around Cered's neck and kisses his cheek.
"Grieve not, my love," she says with a twinkling of teasing mischief in her eyes, "we must see to it that our friends receive the bright news and then prepare a celebration for victory."
"Will I get to stay up late?" Schaliya happily asks.
I look down at her for a moment. Then I bend down and pick her up, letting her sit on my right arm, leaning against my chest.
"Yes, you will," I tell her with a smile.
"Awesome!" she laughs.
As she throws her arms around my neck she can't notice the killing glare I send towards Lucca. The inventor dives in behind Frog, causing him to laugh even more.
Even though the village hasn't even fully recovered from Charash's first attack, the people here are able to build up quite a celebration anyhow. It's even bigger than Schala and Cered's wedding.
"This is great!" Lucca cheers, her cup crashing into Glenn's.
"Ayla should be here!" Marle sighs, leaning against Crono.
The young man's arm seems to have sneaked around her shoulders, but she seems only pleased when finding out.
"I think she's better off in her own time," I coldly say.
Not really irritated, but I do remember what I got to know about Ayla and myself last time there was a big party in this village.
"Don't be such a bore, Janus!" Lucca grins.
Schala and Cered are dancing somewhere inside of the crowd. This really seems familiar; there are just a few people, a master of war and a robot missing and it would be almost exactly like the wedding. I wonder what they'll unveil to me this time...
Molor is under the table, crawled up by my feet and sleeping. It's been a long day. There have actually been a lot of long days lately. Even those two that I was unconscious.
It's close to midnight, the village is lit up only by torches on poles and the half moon high above the treetops.
I hear a yawn to my left, and Schaliya sleepily leans at me.
"Want to sleep, little one?" I ask her.
"No, just a while longer..." she mumbles, her eyes closed.
With a small smile that I can't help off I carefully lift her from the long bench and start to walk away from the celebrating. Molor awakes by my movement and crawls after me as I enter Schala and Cered's house. He's more asleep than awake, though. It almost surprises me that he manages to get up the stairs. When I go into Schaliya's room, my kindred spirit continues ahead. I can by no means blame him, understanding his exhaust.
I push the blanket aside and place my small niece in her bed.
"Uncle Janus..." she mumbles.
"Yes?" I say, straightening up after draping the blanket around her.
"Would you be very mad if I marry Glenn when I grow up?" she mumbles, half asleep.
It takes me a moment to answer.
"No," I finally say, calmly, "but I would have to cut him in very small pieces."
She giggles sleepily.
"Thou art so cool, uncle..."
"And I'll have to slice up Lucca too, tomorrow morning. Good night."
I exit her room, shaking my head. That child...
Molor sleeps again, now on the floor of my room. As usual.
For a while I was afraid that our alliance was lost. But he's still around.
A true relief.
I stretch out a little, feeling rather stiff now that I have begun to relax after all that's been happening lately.
I roll my eyes.
As I take off my cloak I mumble a spell of silence, cutting off the laughter and music from outside. Then I lie down in my bed and close my eyes.
Now I have time to concentrate on one task again.
When I relax all the events in the past day rush down on me, bringing complete exhaust.
I fall asleep.
Give me another dream, then. I am ready.
"Hurry! Damn it!"
I rush into another room, having to halt violently not to fall into a pond of molten metal. There are a few statues rising from it, standing on the same kind of almost unbreakable iron that the rest of the Ocean Palace is made of. Crono, Marle and Lucca almost crash into me from behind, but manage to stop in time.
"There must be buttons operating a bridge!" Lucca growls, wildly looking around.
"There's no time!" I snarl.
Damn Dalton! His mind is a gift of the underworld! "What'll happen to you if they kill the prince?" Marle gasps, trying to regain her breath.
"I don't know, this is another time stream! History has been too twisted!"
He figured Schala wouldn't work even for queen Zeal after all I had said about Lavos. So the accursed general took the little prince with him too. Should Lavos kill him... I have no idea.
I remember this room... we're so close!
"We're almost there, I know it!" I snarl. Crono asks me if I can make it over somehow.
"Maybe," I say, frowning as I measure the width of the small lake.
The young man grimly tells me to go ahead, if possible. I grimly nod.
They move aside as I hurry a few yards back into the corridor to gain momentum. Then I run and leap with all my might.
For a moment I fear to miss. But then I land safely on the other side. I look around.
"Don't worry about us!" Marle calls, "hurry on, we're catching up with you!"
"Until we meet again, then!" I call back and run into the next open doorway.
I enter a large room, yet it's smaller than the last one. There are only two flows of metal ahead, though, and they're not blocking the way. They're decorating the sides of a smaller path leading to another door.
Dalton is here, I can feel his presence even though he's trying to hide.
My lips draw back from my teeth for a moment.
Dalton, my father... he's prepared to kill both me and Schala to achieve immortality.
Eternal life is worthless in compare to Schala!
For a moment I hesitate.
I haven't got time for him!
Pretending unable to know that he's hiding in the room I rush on and leave it behind me. Hiding from me... he's afraid after all.
One moment's shock, that was all I gave him. And during that time he grabbed the prince too, and teleported himself, the little me and my precious sister out of the cave. We hunted him to the Zeal palace, but there a few battles halted us enough for him to escape further. I mustn't be too late this time, I have to stop...
The Mammon machine.
Queen Zeal is standing beside Schala, who's chanting with tears in her beautiful eyes. The queen's eyes are like ice. Behind her one of Dalton's ninjas stand, holding a desperately struggling little Janus.
"You know what he said! Stop...!" the prince screech.
The queen coldly looks around, and the ninja forcefully presses his hand over the prince's mouth. The boy wriggles in pain, but can't get free.
A few Enlightened ones are there, almost all of them nervously glancing at the struggling prince and the crying princess.
I hardly feel the ground below my feet.
"Schala! Stop!" I growl, already touched by an intense, dark power.
Only a brief taste of Lavos... and I'm still far away.
Schala spins at me, her mouth open in a silent, helpless cry for help. Her brother... that little me is being held hostage. Just as I suspected.
"Schala, keep chanting!" the queen demands.
"Zeal, you don't know what you're doing!" I shout, standing frozen on the bridge leading over to the machine and the nervous crowd.
"Who are you, who dares to disrupt the work of Zeal?" the queen snaps.
"I am Janus, Zeal!" I growl, "I am Schala's brother!"
"You're mad," she snorts, "Schala, keep rising the Mammon machine's power or your little brother dies."
"Mother..." Schala groans, tears flooding from her cheeks. "She isn't our mother, Schala!" I call, desperately feeling the dark power drawing closer, "our mother is dead!"
The Enlightened ones stare at me, but the queen only watches me coldly.
"Leave, imposter. You have no right to be here," she coldly says.
I open my mouth to snap back, but my throat turns into a knot as I see what's happening to the prince.
A black hole opens in thin air behind him. It's only a growing opening now, but in a few seconds it'll...
My feet doesn't touch the ground, I throw the Enlightened ones and even queen Zeal aside as I dash through the air, reaching out...
The ninja recoils in surprise at my charging, dropping the prince. Immediately he's being drawn into the Gate, his eyes wide open in fear and his numb lips apart as he tries to scream without succeeding.
He's out of...
I get a hold of his wildly flapping robe.
"I'll come back, Schala!" I shout, looking around but only finding the flashing darkness.
I can only hope that she heard me.
The prince stumbles before I can get a safer grip of him, and the Gate opens up before us. I stagger out of the darkness, my fingers loosing the prince's robe. I stumble and fall by the speed, somehow turning over as I fall.
The back of my head hits something hard, and black stars begin to dance before my eyes. They seem to cut through my whole body, piercing my lunges...
"Where are we?!" I hear the boy harshly whisper, desperately confused and lost, "wake up!"
I feel his small hands on my shoulder, but I can't...
"Where the heck did you come from?" a hoarse, piercing voice gasps.
My fading mind turns over itself.
The boy's hands leave me. I can hardly hear him at all as he screeches:
"What do you want?! Leave me alone!"
"Fascinating..." Ozzie's voice says.
The last thing I hear is that accursed demon's order.
"Get both of them!"
I slowly raise my head, blinking to regain my sight. My neck seems almost out of control for the moment being, therefore I can't shake my head to get my senses back.
It's so dark... only a lonely, dirty candle lit up a small, just as dirty room.
My throat thickens.
No, no, no... I take in a deep breath. It's not here, I'm not the Pawn of the Mystics. It's just the same damn room I used to have. But the hay I had as a bed isn't there.
They didn't plan to have me sleeping, I guess. Not yet.
My feet are on the floor, but I'm still more hanging than standing. Irons encircle my wrists, and that they don't feel very cold shows that I have been trapped there for a while.
By the powers... the boy! Oh no, if he's awoken earlier...!
I straighten up to the sound of clinking chains, clenching my teeth as I try to assemble my strength. Or focus... whatever I manage first will do, I have to save him!
The door suddenly opens, and I blink at a magical flame. Its light dance over the room and the visitor. My teeth almost crush each other.
"Well, well," Flea smirks, "even the big boy's awake."
The words cut through my head.
"The boy...?" I harshly stutter, my throat so dry that I hardly can produce any sound.
"You mean the kid?" Flea says with another sneer, "he's having a talk with Ozzie right now."
My teeth and lips fall away from each other, unable to create my scream of anguish.
"Such a face you're making," my magic teacher says, raising an eyebrow.
"You demon, Flea..." I growl, balling my bound hands into fists.
"How do you know my name?" he demands.
I almost start to laugh, bitterly. But I manage to fight it back.
"I'd tell you if I had the time," I snarl, "but right now I have more urgent business."
"You actually don't think that you're going to..." Flea scornfully begins.
The wall behind me makes a cracking sound, and the magician's eyes grow. He raises his hand...
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Ice!" The aching back of my head is forcefully hit by a cold rock, and my strength slips away with my weakened consciousness.
How could I be such a fool?!
Chapter 14 Payback
The next thing I know is that a few liters of water hit my burning head. Spitting and gasping for air I straighten up my neck again.
The whole collection of masters. Lovely... and the prince is crouching in a corner of the room, as far away from everything as he can get. He stares at me in terror, I can see a dark stream blemishing the side of his robe. Too late... I am so sorry...
The weight and clinking sound tells me that there's even more chains keeping me bound now. And there are several goblins and heavily armed freelancers outside of the room, too.
This attempt to change fate seems to have taken a turn for the worse.
"We have plenty of time," Flea says, crossing his fine arms, "and this should be interesting."
I darkly glare at him, then I turn to Ozzie and last Slash.
For a moment I'm about to spit on the floor, but a movement behind the three monsters in charge makes my mind revolt and almost force me to recoil.
A goblin holding a red, glowing whip.
I clench my teeth, forcing back my instinctive fear.
No. I mustn't let them conquer me again. No matter how dark things look now, I must find a way out. I must save that boy at all costs, I can't let my story repeat! I have to win some time to recover, then maybe...
Just some time... I fear that it won't be enough. I haven't eaten since before I met Schala, and I'm still dizzy after the two hits in my head.
I have to try... anything. Even the truth.
"It's not that complicated," I harshly whisper, unable to speak louder, "that boy over there is me as a child."
All of the monsters watch me with disbelief.
"You're out of your mind," Slash says, frowning deeply.
"Slash, you tried to teach me how to handle a sword," I coldly whisper, "I never became very good at it, though."
The swordsman almost takes a step backwards, watching me with that sharp look that always tried to cut through my tortured soul. I don't allow it to hurt me now, though.
"Flea, you taught me all you knew about magic and more," I go on, "and Ozzie..."
I manage to assemble enough power to snort scornfully.
"I guess you never did anything except watching and commanding."
"How does the spell of Dark Mist go?" Flea sharply asks.
Oh, by the powers... don't start with that again...
I fight back the terror filled memories and with clenched teeth mutter in old Zealan.
Flea is silent as I stop muttering.
"Well?" Ozzie demands.
"Perfect," the magician mutters, frowning, "how about second level Lightning?"
I hold back a groan.
"I spent ten years of my life with your questions, Flea," I harshly whisper, "I knew it all after that, so let me be now."
"If he's speaking the truth we obviously should have taught him some better manners," Slash coldly says.
This time I can hardly fight back a bitter, surely maniac laughter. Manners, manners, manners... how I should behave was all you talked and beat me about, curse it all!
Win time, talk! I have to gain more time!
"You want proof of that I grew up among you?" I growl, "should I tell you about Lizard, the first king of Mystics?"
Now that startles them. No human can probably remember that story, but it's a sacred part of the monsters' history. It's a tiny pleasure to see them all really taken aback.
"Lizard, an enslaved monster serving a human named Sorden. When a female monster named Snake was going to be punished because Sorden's son was crying when she was watching him Lizard tried to escape with her. But they were caught, yet as he was about to be executed an outlaw monster with knowledge of magic, Magician, saved both him and Snake. During their escape, hunted down by Sorden's cousin Lardon, another refugee came to their help; an escaped gladiator named Warrior. Magician, Warrior and Lizard were your ancestors. Should I continue? I know the whole story because Flea thought that I should know the history of those I served."
My voice hardly exists by now, strained to its limits.
Ozzie, Flea and Slash exchange glances twisting with questions and thoughts. Even the goblins and freelancers do the same.
They aren't looking at me!
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire..." I whisper, but no sound leaves my hardly moving lips.
It's scarcely even breathing as I chant.
I bend my little fingers behind the irons so that the fingertips touch the metal. Careful...
There are irons around my ankles too. I never thought about using my heels for leading magic, but right now I just have to invent that technique. Go through my boots without burning the leather, don't let them catch fire...
"But tell us then," Ozzie slowly says, counting as usual, "how did you manage to come from the future?" I have to almost violently clear my dry throat in order to speak. Just a little more time!
"About thirteen years from now a group of time travelers will show up," I mutter with a cold smile, "meeting them was a turn for the better for me."
"And why did you return?" Ozzie asks.
A growl runs through my throat.
"Isn't that obvious?" I harshly snap, "you never were the smartest, of course..."
Flea's hand shots forward and grabs my chin even before Ozzie has time to turn pale of anger. I know that grip, but I can't help trying to break free in tired rage. The pink monster's fine fingers are like iron, impossible to budge.
"Now, now," the female looking monster says, soft as silk, "you're not exactly in a situation where disrespect is healthy. If you've been living with us and you truly are Magus, then you should know that."
"My name is Janus!" I snarl.
Ozzie throws a glance at the shivering prince.
"It's really him," the fat monster mutters, "fascinating..."
I can feel the irons around my ankles budge and melt. My magic heat can't harm me, but I have to be very careful. Should one chain fall before the others, while I'm still bound, the Mystics will have time to stop my escape again.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Slash says, grimly crossing his arms, "I say we kill him."
"Which one?" Ozzie absentmindedly says, watching me in a disgustingly measuring way.
Slash catches the tone in his leader's voice and rolls his eyes. Typically Ozzie... won't throw anything away if it's still interesting in some way.
Just a little longer...
"You never answered my question properly," the green monster says with a small sneer.
I find a bitter smile on my lips.
"I came to save the boy," I coldly say, "is it that hard to understand, you idiot?"
Flea's nails cut into my cheeks, I wriggle more of anger than pain even though it burns.
With a hoarse growl I tear my hands free and throw the surprised Flea aside, rushing forward and thereby freeing my ankles from the molten irons.
My fist hits Slash's face before he has time to draw his sword, with a flame of contentment I feel his nose crush aside, hear his snarling of surprised agony.
I reach out for the boy in the corner while I'm still dashing through the room, he desperately hold his hands aloft, trying to get a grip of me before...
The goblin hits my back with the devilish whip, lighting agony even though my cloak and back plate of hard leather stop the worst hit. I crash on the floor with a roar of pain trying to cleave its way through my throat. The pain itself isn't as bad as all the spinning memories it awakes. Hours upon hours of the same pain smash down into my mind, all at once. My soul twitch, splitting... I can't think properly...
I hear the boy's weak yelp of horror, the sound of heavy footsteps...
The memories keep whirling around, edges of burning torture scratching my writhing mind...
With a growl I force myself to brace my mind, tearing an image of Schala into the pain's way. I reach out a hand, the boy grabs it as if it was the last grain of hope left in his life. Which it truly is.
"The Pawn of the Mystics is dead!" I snarl, throwing my other hand at the approaching monsters, "powers of the world, lend me the power of Lightning!"
It's as simple as it possibly can get, but I haven't any time to chant.
The few bolts of lightning coming from my fingertips surprise the monsters just enough to give me a moment...
The first place coming to my mind is the Zenan Bridge. Anything!
I fall out of the flashing light of long teleportation, holding the boy's hands in a safe grip. The grass feels so soft, a blessing... I could laugh if I wasn't so exhausted.
I sit up on my knees, taking the prince's shivering shoulders in my hands. The back of his robe is torn, blood has stained it. The wounds are still open. Only three, though... not as bad as I feared.
"It's alright," I say in a low, hoarse voice, "I won't let them harm you again."
He's shivering, of pain and remaining shock.
"Wh-what happened to you...?" he weakly whispers, stuttering.
I begin to shake my head.
"Tell me!" he screeches, trembling even worse.
For a moment I silently watch him. Then I slowly reach up and loosen the laces on my shoulders, which hold up my chest- and back plate. I don't have to release those by my waist; able to bend the hard leather downwards to unveil my collection of scars.
The prince falls to the ground, tears of shock streaming into the autumn grass. Silently I secure my plates again, then rather awkwardly lift the trembling boy in my arms and wrap my torn cloak around him. I don't know anything about children, not even this boy who is me. But I remember how Schala used to comfort me when I was even smaller than he is now. I'm careful not to touch his wounds.
"It's alright," I mutter again as he helplessly cries against my chest, "it won't happen to you."
Funny... I can't remember crying like he did. Perhaps I was too desperate.
"Sch-Schala...?" he stutters.
"I don't know," I sigh.
I look down at him, and he turns his pale face at me. Tears are freely streaming from his red eyes.
"But listen," I grimly say, "I'm going to look for her as soon as I know that you're safe."
"I want to look for her too..." he whispers, raising an arm and resolutely rubbing away the tears from his face, "and Adolfus..."
"Yes, I understand. But in order to do that, you have to grow stronger." "But..." he begins.
"I understand how you feel," I gravely say, "but in order to help Schala, you have to become stronger and meet those time travelers I was talking about."
He looks at me with pain in his eyes.
"Thirteen years?" he groans, but he has stopped crying.
I nod with a sigh.
"Yes, Janus," I say.
How utterly peculiar it feels to call someone by my own name. I manage to get to my feet, looking northwards. Past the bridge is the capital of Guardia, Truce. Dorino to the east is closer by, but it's also closer to the Mystics and will be temporarily engulfed in the war. It's several years away, and I'm not even sure if it'll go exactly as I remember it now that the Mystics haven't got their finest warrior. But I won't take any chances.
Clenching my teeth against my own exhaust I begin to walk over the great bridge, carrying the little Janus.
"What can we do?" he mutters, not even sobbing anymore.
There's a determination in his voice that startles me. But at the same time, it fills me with a warm, strengthening feeling of triumph. I know now that this boy might grow even stronger than I am, because he will fight by own will. A smile is on my lips as I speak.
"I will explain my whole story to you, and what I think needs to be done. But first we have to find someone who can take care of your wounds."
He groans weakly, perhaps the shock had made him forgot about the pain.
"Hold on a little while longer," I tell him, "I don't know anything about healing, but we should be able to find someone in town."
I think about it for a moment.
"Now this is important," I tell him without slowing down the slightest, "I think it's best that the humans here doesn't know that we are the same person, and neither that you're a prince from the past. People might react strangely at such facts."
"From the past?" he whispers, his voice weaker again.
I gravely nod.
"That black hole that we went through is called a Gate," I explain, "it's a portal to other times. This is 587 AD, over twelve thousand years from the kingdom of Zeal."
"By the powers of Lavos..." he weakly groans.
I look down at him, raising my eyebrows.
"You better not talk about Lavos either, he's completely forgotten by now," I tell him. "Dead?" he asks, and there's a grain of angered disappointment in his voice.
"No," I say, "he's only sleeping, deep below the surface of the Earth. But in a distant future he'll awaken and smash all civilization. That's what those time travelers try to stop him from doing."
The prince grimly nods.
"What happened to Schala and the rest of Zeal?" he wonders.
I shake my head.
"I don't know, but Zeal is forgotten now, just as Lavos. Me, I mean you and me, were thrown through time, and so were the three Gurus. Therefore I'm certain that Schala also can be found somewhere, lost in history."
I look up. Were they guarding the north end of the bridge even before the war? Three Guardia soldiers watch me suspiciously as I come over the bridge.
"What business do you have here?" one of them asks as I don't stop walking.
"We were attacked by monsters," I grimly say, my voice still hoarse since it hasn't gotten any rest or water, "this child is injured."
The prince looks around at the soldiers and then resolutely hides his face against my chest again as I move my cloak aside to unveil the three long wounds on his back. The three men look at the bleeding, thick lines in shock.
"Would the monsters even beat a child?!" another one of them hisses.
"He needs some care," I say, emotionless.
"Indeed," the third soldier grimly says, throwing an angered glance at the east's island, "come, I'll bring you into town."
What were those words again? I guess I should...
The three of them smile a little.
I follow the third one up the hills into Truce while wrapping my cloak around the prince again, protective.
"Where were you attacked, and by how many, by the way?" the soldier asks, walking beside me.
"A couple of imps and Ozzie," I mutter before considering it.
I need to rest, obviously...
The man startles.
"Ozzie?" he stutters, "you mean the leader of the Mystics?"
"Green, fat, stupid," I mutter through clenched teeth.
The soldier silently watches me and the boy for a moment. Then he clears his throat.
"Perhaps you should report to His Majesty?" he says, a bit nervously.
I hold back a sigh. Well done, brother of Schala, well done.
On the other hand...
"Very well, but I want to see to that this boy gets a doctor's help first," I finally reply.
"There's healing quarters in the castle too," the soldier says, carefully.
I shrug my shoulders.
We turn and walk over to the distant road leading into Guardia forest, over a meadow fading in the growing autumn.
"What are you doing?" the boy whispers.
'I'll have to leave you here to look for Schala,' I tell him through telepathy, 'but first I have to see to that you're safe from the Mystics until you're strong enough to fight.'
He says nothing.
Somebody comes walking out of the forest.
A young boy, perhaps eleven or twelve years old. He's blond and dressed in simple, common clothes. Tall for his age, too.
Behind him is an even younger boy, nine or ten. He's much shorter and is angrily rubbing his face with his sleeve. His red brown hair is swaying as he moves his head.
I frown as I look at them. They seem somehow familiar.
As they come closer I see that the smaller one has bruises on his arms and blood from his nose has stained his sleeve. It seems as if he's been into a fight.
"Good afternoon, you two," the soldier says, trying not to look at the beaten boy.
"Hello," the younger one snarls, staring at the ground.
"Good afternoon, Andrew," the older calmly says.
He turns to me and the prince, puzzled. I watch him for a moment without a word.
By the powers...
"How are you?" the soldier asks, carefully.
"My hero Cyrus came to save the day again!" the small boy bitterly snarls.
Just as I thought. Such a twist of irony.
"Glenn..." Cyrus says, frowning.
The younger boy stares at the ground, clenching his jaw. I look at him, a frown growing into my forehead.
Strange... just a few years older and he could look just like Crono... could Frog be the boy's ancestor?
I clench my teeth, realizing that if that's true, then I must see to that Frog turns back into a human. Otherwise Crono can't be born. The amphibian can't exactly get married while he looks like that.
One thing at the time. First I have to take care of this boy, then I must find a way to open a Gate and return to fight Lavos. After that I'll search for Schala. Then...?
"You have to talk to your parents about the kids bullying you, Glenn," Andrew grimly says.
The boy says nothing. Andrew sighs.
"Well, we have to get going," he says, "see you."
"Good day," Cyrus says.
I say nothing. It's tempting, but I don't say anything.
All of us start walking towards our goals again.
'That boy with the red hair is one of the time travelers,' I tell the prince.
'Is he?' he mumbles, a bit disbelieving.
'Now I don't know how it'll be, but in my story Cyrus became a great hero of this land. Together with Glenn he went on a quest to slain Ozzie. I killed him, however.'
The prince's hands squeeze my shoulders, and I hear him hold his breath for a moment.
'Furthermore,' I continue, 'I turned Glenn into a frog.'
'Ozzie thought it would be fun,' I mutter, 'like this.'
I send him a mental image of the short, green warrior. He squeezes my shoulders again.
'But that probably won't happen since you won't serve the Mystics,' I grimly tell him.
'Maybe I should... get to know him,' Janus mutters, reluctantly, 'since we'll fight Lavos together.'
I almost, almost smile.
'You don't have to do that at once,' I say, 'but in the long term it might help.'
The tree's surround us, I...
I awake briefly, a smile touching my lips.
'Fascinating,' Molor mumbles, half asleep.
I turn over and close my eyes again.
Chapter 15 The circle closes
"I have received words that you were attacked by Ozzie himself, sir," king Guardia XXI says, walking down the stair as I look up.
The doctor and nurses spin around in surprise of seeing their king coming to the healing quarters.
"Yes, we were," I say, tiredly wrapping the blanket over the prince's bandaged back.
He turns his head, lying on his stomach not to make the wounds hurt again. He's less pale, now that there's healing ointment working on smoothing his injuries.
I guess I shouldn't risk anything by being rude, but I can't force myself to rise from my chair even to greet the man I hope to persuade into giving the prince a chance of safety.
He seems to calculate my state by my almost numb movements, though.
"If you need to rest you can tell me later, of course," he kindly says.
I ponder it for a moment. Then I shake my head, I want to take care of everything as soon as possible. Better talk to the king now, while he's still concerned about the little Janus' state.
"I would like to tell you about it now, Your Majesty," I say, rubbing my forehead, "it might be urgent."
"You think so?" the king says, sitting down at the empty bed beside the one that the prince is lying in, "then what do you want to tell me?"
"Here, drink this," one of the nurses kindly says and offers me a glass of soft-green liquid, "it's a healing potion."
I gratefully empty the glass in one gulp. My throat burns a little, then the strengthening warmth begins to spread through my whole body.
"Some of what I tell you might surprise you, Your Majesty," I gravely say, "but I'll prove as much as I can."
"I'm listening," the king says, a small frown appearing in his forehead.
"First of all I have to show you something."
I hold up my hand.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Fire."
The king almost falls off the bed and the doctor, nurses and soldiers in the room recoils in shock as a small blaze appears just above my palm. I close my hand and it disappears.
"I am a wizard," I say, frankly.
"You don't say..." the king mumbles, his voice rather weak.
"I thought that only monsters could use magic!" a soldier harshly croaks.
"Normally that is the case," I say, "but there's also me and this boy here, Janus."
I point at the prince. He watches me, a bit puzzled.
"And you see, Ozzie hoped to catch and enslave Janus as he realized what powers the boy has," I tell the shocked humans and clench my teeth, "hoped to turn him into a pawn of the Mystics."
King Guardia looks at the prince, whose face has turned pale again as he understands another part of my story.
"Devilish," the king finally mutters, turning to me once more.
I nod, gravely.
"He's got enormous possibilities," I say, emotionless, "I once met Flea himself, and I believe that Janus might grow even stronger. But he has to recover and learn how to use his powers, grow strong safe from the Mystics. Should they be able to catch and break him down I truly fear the consequences."
Indeed I do...
The king grimly nods, his eyes similar to cold iron.
"I see," he says.
I ponder my next step for a moment.
"There are a few more things," I finally say, "but I have to talk to you and Janus alone about them, Your Majesty."
King Guardia hesitates for a short while. Then he looks around on the others in the room and nods.
A bit distrustful, the soldiers and workers of the healing quarters leave.
"What is it?" the king grimly asks.
I take in a slow breath, hoping that everything will work out fine until the end.
"We weren't only attacked," I tell the king, "Ozzie managed to trap us for a while, but we escaped. However I happened to hear a couple of monsters talking while we were imprisoned. From what I heard I got the belief that the Mystics are planning to start a war in a couple of years."
"What?!" the king hisses.
"They were talking about their weapon industry and about how well Slash would be able to plan their strategy," I go on, "it sounded as if they won't be ready in at least two years, but the threat is there."
"This is very grave information that you provide," king Guardia grimly says, "are you sure about this?"
"Yes, I'm afraid that it's true."
The king rubs his forehead.
"Dear God..." he mutters, "where can they keep their metal smiths hidden?"
"Probably somewhere almost impossible to find, I fear," I say, knowing that it's true.
The ironworks are hidden deep below the east mountain, and I have no idea how to get there. I never had any business in those places.
King Guardia heavily sighs.
"One person can't stop the Mystics alone," I slowly say, "but I hope that with my warning you'll have time to prepare. And..."
I turn to Janus.
'I don't want to work for anyone!' he stubbornly sends out with his thoughts, catching my point.
'I know,' I calmly say, 'but you won't really be working for them. This is simply a sanctuary where you can learn how to exploit your magical powers by your own pace. And it'll give you a chance to repay Ozzie so that it really hurts him.'
He ponders it for half a second, not more.
'Alright then,' he finally says, still a bit unwilling but with a grain of determination that has chances of growing strong.
"It might be much to ask," I say aloud, "but I can't stay here and Janus must be protected against the Mystics while he's still vulnerable."
"I... I want revenge on Ozzie for what he did to me," the boy mutters through clenched teeth, "if it really comes to war I'll help fight him back." King Guardia slowly nods.
"I understand," he gravely says, "if you're right about the Mystics we need all help we can get."
He looks at the boy and manages to smile a little.
"You can stay here in the castle, Janus," he says, "the monsters can't harm you here."
"Thank you," the prince mutters, and I know that it was hard for him to say that.
The king looks at me, the frown returning.
"But tell me... what is your name, and why must you leave?" he asks, carefully.
"I'll stay until Janus is fully recovered and teach him a few basic spells," I say, "because since his magic powers weren't awakened until today when we were attacked, he knows nothing of his gifts. Then there is someone I have to go and search for."
The king nods, not asking about who I'm looking for. I suppose that he feels that it isn't his business.
"Dare I ask for your name, sir?" he asks again, however.
It goes by itself. I know I can't say that I'm Janus, so my brain takes a twist by its own.
All by itself, and I could bite my tongue off.
"I am called Magus."
I feel Janus fight against startling, and I clench my teeth.
"I see," the king simply says.
He stands up.
"Well then, you should rest now," he kindly says, "I'll see to that you won't be bothered until you have recovered."
"Thank you, Your Majesty."
King Guardia XII walks up the stairs and disappears through the door. I rise from my chair and lay down in the bed where he was sitting a few moments ago.
"I'll be here, then..." Janus mutters.
"Yes," I say in a low voice, closing my eyes, "but believe me, it could be much worse."
"I believe you."
"We'll talk tomorrow..."
I am unable to stay awake any longer.
Once again I awake briefly, another smile on my lips. Molor says nothing, sleeping soundly.
It seems as if it's almost dawn out there now, weak sunrays peek inside of the room through the curtain. I shortly wonder if the celebration still goes on.
I want to see the end of this.
With yet a new small smile I turn against the wall and close my eyes again.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Water!"
A few small blocks of ice hit the big stone in the clearing. It's already burnt in several ways.
"Well done," I say with a smile.
Janus grins triumphantly. He's making fast progress, much faster than I did. But on the other hand, I didn't want to be taught anything. And I never got to hear any encouraging words. That seems to be a powerful treatment.
"No matter how often I see it..." one of the soldiers whispers to another.
The king and I agreed on having a couple of guards keeping an eye on Janus, at least until he can defend himself. And since he can already master a few spells I believe that he won't need protection for very long.
"Need a rest?" I ask him.
"Not yet..." he absentmindedly says, already assembling new focus.
I feel proud when I look at him. He will be a pain to the Mystics, and a pain to Lavos when that day comes.
Since his robe was torn he has gotten some new clothes; a pair of soft-purple pants held up by a deep-blue belt. He also wears a pair of small leather boots and a red shirt with short sleeves. I guess the tailor looked at me when he made the clothes... after all we're looking much alike. Go figure.
There's some whispering about me being the boy's father or brother. I can only smile at that.
"Powers of the world, lend me the power of Lightning!"
It's only a week ago that he got out of bed, eager to have me teach him about his possibilities. Flea forced the knowledge into my poor mind, so I try to go slowly forwards with the boy. It's just that he seems to prefer speed in this matter. I can hardly believe that we are the same person, remembering my own education.
Myself, I have been making experiments with Gates. Since I have seen and felt their power I really only have to find a suitable spell that allows me to control them. I think I might have it, but I haven't dared to enter the flashing darkness yet. There is, after all, a risk that I will be unable to return to this different time stream. And before I leave, I have to finish my job here.
And frankly, there is an apparent possibility that I'll get thrown almost anywhere if something should go wrong. But I'll have to take that risk. I have to find the way back to Crono and the others to get my revenge on Lavos, and then go look for Schala.
But so far, everything seems to work out better than expected here, at least. The only thing giving me a bit of trouble is my slip of tongue. It's been a hard week trying to keep from snarling that my name isn't Magus.
"I think that's enough for today," I tell Janus, looking at the smoking stone.
He sighs, but nods. Together with his two guardians we return to the castle.
In his room the two of us sit down by his small table.
"You're impressing me," I tell him, "I think that I can leave now."
The triumph in his eyes is replaced with disbelief and unpleasant surprise.
"But I don't know very much!" he points out.
I watch him for a moment. Seven years old... prepared to study like mad. How often do you see that?
"You know the basics and the whole story of the time travelers," I calmly say, "I'm certain that you can grow without me now."
"Do you think that I'll be strong enough when the war comes?" he asks, unsurely watching his hands.
"As far as I know the war won't start in two years," I tell him, "with your will it won't be any problem. Just don't do anything stupid like allowing somebody into persuading you to make a show of your powers, or attack Ozzie at first sight. Don't underestimate Flea either, he's stronger than he might seem."
"I'm not as stupid as they are," the boy snorts with a small grin.
I smile at that.
"No, I know."
Now let's see here...
I point at the table and mutter a spell of recreation. I should have pointed at the floor... a few of the old scrolls I call forth fall to the ground as the table is too small.
"These are the scripts that I studied," I say, "but you won't be able to read those that are too dangerous to you now."
I snap my fingers, and almost all of the scrolls disappear again. Three of them stay, one of them only because I have to talk about the knowledge written down within it. Janus stands up on his chair as I unroll it. The scroll has been darkened somehow, and the words are written in white on the dark surface. I have waited, not told him these things before. I wanted to give him some time.
"As you know everybody who can use magic is devoted to one of the four mystical elements, and that element is the person's greatest strength. You and me are Shadow."
He frowns, looking at the old script's warning for the spells' powers.
"I was evil," I say, "because I was used by it. You can abuse the dark powers and use them against themselves, just as I plan to do. Lavos is the ultimate evil, as you know."
He grimly nods.
"Now then," I continue and roll out the scroll to reveal the last spell in it, "this is our ultimate power."
The white words of warning are twice as big as all the others.
"Dark Matter?" Janus says, frowning even deeper.
"It's the last spell I learned," I tell him, "I used it to kill Flea and Slash. It's extremely dangerous, as you understand. You mustn't even study it until you have mastered everything else to the fullest."
He nods again, gravely. I dissolve the scroll.
"Alright, these are your new projects," I say and push the two scripts left into his reach, "they're a bit stronger spells for the other elements. As you make progress, new scrolls will appear on the table."
"I'll do my best."
A smile carefully breaks through his young, grim mask.
"When you've defeated Lavos with Crono and the other's help, will you come back and see how I managed?"
I have to smile.
"I'll do my best, I promise. I really have to see how you do."
He smiles. I ponder that he, I, almost never smiled in Zeal. But now both of us seem to do it rather often. Perhaps meeting yourself like this is healthy, after all. I feel more alive than ever before as I watch the blossoming strength within the prince.
"And do remember to run ahead in the Ocean Palace to save the next generation of us," I tell him.
"I certainly won't forget," he says.
I rise from my chair. Now it feels painful to leave him, but I know I have to. I'm needed in my own time stream.
"Good bye, Janus," he says, hesitantly.
I reach out and touch his shoulder with my hand.
"Until we meet again, Janus."
Then I turn away and starts to mutter the spell I hope will work.
I concentrate on the year 12000 BC and not on this time stream, the other one...
A Gate opens before me. It has worked so far in my experiments, but I have no idea if it'll take me to the right place.
I throw one last glance at my silent pupil, take a deep breath and enter the darkness. Here goes...
The flashing nothingness surrounds me, and I step out...
I have to be completely wrong.
This is a snowy island, a few primitive tents crouch close to a small forest. All around is only ocean, as far as I can see. The sun is working on the clouds above, trying to pierce them. The cold wind that should pain the world of the Earthbound ones is gone.
Hmm, I better find out when I am and then try again.
I start walking towards the tents.
Enlightened and Earthbound ones, together?
I stop dead, watching the group of people trapped in a deep discussion. The fine robes of the Enlightened ones are torn and dirty, but I know those clothes. Could I be in the right time? Then what on earth has happened here?
The realization steps up, coldly.
Lavos. By the powers...
And what happened to Crono and the others?
I hurry on towards the primal town square, where the people are assembled.
Somebody sees me.
Everybody spins around to stare at me. The Enlightened ones with confusion, the Earthbound ones with relief.
The elder of the Earthbound village hurries over to me.
"What happened?" I ask, taking his old hand between mine by instinct.
His relief melts away, and he sadly shakes his head.
"Ah, for better or worse the kingdom of Zeal is no more," he says, "Lavos awoke and destroyed it. This is all that remains of civilization."
By the powers...! That he has such power...
"And... the warriors I traveled with?" I manage to ask after a moment.
He shakes his head again.
"They came here," he says in a low voice, "then Dalton took them captive and brought them to the Blackbird. And that crashed in the ocean a few moments ago."
My heart is wrapped up in coldness. Those that freed me...?
We still have to kill Lavos!
Wait, it could only have been three of them... Crono, Marle and Lucca. They were here. Three are still...
My lips press together and my mind twitch in disgust at my cold counting. I'm thinking like Dalton, like my blasted father! There might be three allies left, but is that the first thing to ponder? Those people helped me! How can I think something like that?
The other humans, men, women and children approach me and the elder.
"Why... why did they call you prince Janus?" one of the Enlightened ones stutter, staring at my hair.
"Because I am the prince," I say.
It's starting to become a habit to unveil that shocking truth.
The Enlightened ones stare at me.
"I'm here from the future," I impatiently snap, irritated by their stupid looks, "tell me where the Blackbird crashed."
"It's far below the ocean by now, I'm afr..." the elder begins.
But his speaking is cut off by a sudden earthquake, so violent and surprising that it throws all of us to the ground. I see something in the corner of my eye and turn my head to the west.
My throat is filled with needles.
"The Ocean Palace?!" I hiss.
It's floating above the endless sea? It's not meant to fly!
Lavos must be at work, but why?
"Heaven above us..." someone weakly groans.
The tremors stop as suddenly as they came. The Ocean Palace does nothing, only floating peacefully by the horizon like a gigantic black, flashing piranha.
I give, that was a very bad description. But it seems lazily deadly, so...
With a curse I get up, dragging the elder along without really thinking about it.
"Damn you, Lavos!" I snarl.
Is there no end of his games with the human race?
My breathing sounds like hisses, I let go of the elder and hurry past the many scared Enlightened and Earthbound ones, ignoring the few weak calls.
To the northwest is a cape sticking out and above the water. It's not very far, and I rush there. By the end of the land I stand still, glaring at the floating Palace.
Funny, Lavos? To destroy everything and tear away even more people whom I trusted?
I breathe hard, clenching my fists into shaking balls.
My boiling mind catches an image of the little, relieved Janus.
I take a few deep breaths.
Many things have gone lost, but perhaps his destiny will be brighter.
Thinking about that victory I manage to calm down.
The sun has pierced the clouds, already warming up the frozen world. I look down and see a small flower sticking out of the snow. It's got a strong-green trunk and blades, the petals are pure and white as the snow around it. How can a flower bloom in this cold, surrounded by the soft ice?
I sit down, watching the flower. It seems to push my new despair even further away.
Frog, Robo and that blond woman in animal hides probably don't know what has happened. I have to go to the End of Time and tell them. We have to fulfill our quest without the others... assemble the pieces and move on. Lavos mustn't be victorious.
I sit there for a while. Then I stand up and face the north, refusing to look at the accursed Palace. I'll go. I just need a few more moments to calm down completely.
I startle and spin around at the sudden shout of three voices.
Marle, Lucca and Frog are running and jumping up the hill, rushing forwards beside my footsteps in the snow.
But through the relief I feel a scent of worry. I have never seen Marle without Crono before, where is he?
"They said you were here but we couldn't believe...!" Lucca gasps, without slowing down the slightest.
"Janus, you're alive!" the Marle shouts, leaping forward to throw her arms around my neck.
I almost stumble backwards down the cliff of mere surprise.
"Oh God, Janus!" the young, blond woman more or less screeches, and suddenly her wild happiness explodes in tears, "at least you're alive...!"
She desperately presses herself against me, crying against my chest. Confused I sit down on my knees and make her do the same, carefully grabbing her shoulders.
"What do you mean?" I ask, a dark suspicion growing in my chest.
Marle tries to speak, but the words are lost in her sobs. I look up. Lucca turns away, and I see tears in her eyes too. Frog bitterly shakes his head, his hands turned into trembling fists.
"Aye," the knight says in a low voice, "in order to save the people in Lavos' foul presence our dear comrade sacrificed his young, brave life..."
I turn my head at the flying Palace, my eyes turning into thin scars of rage.
Wait a moment...
Time streams. Maybe...
I look down at the shivering Marle, carefully squeezing her shoulders.
"Pull yourself together," I say, sharply yet calming, "there might be a way to get him back."
She looks up at me, a wild hope being lit in her blue, tear filled eyes.
"Do you think so?" she whispers.
"Let's go to the End of Time and see Gaspar," I say, standing up and lifting her to her feet.
I reach out a hand and begin to mumble, opening a Gate.
"Cool!" Lucca says in tired amaze, "we have the Epoch, but..."
Together we enter the flashing darkness, heading for the End of Time.
Epilogue Peace of mind
"Well, I have to get going."
"Where are thee heading, uncle?" Schaliya asks, her eyes twinkling.
"I'm going to fetch your golden knight, of course," I smile.
She laughs, or rather giggles shortly, absentmindedly swinging a pointing finger just into her little brother's reach. Janatzer happily squeaks and grabs her finger, trying to put it in his toothless mouth.
I think he seems to have more red than blue hair, even though it's very hard to judge since there isn't much on his head yet. Still both my sister and brother in law insisted on naming their first son after me. By the powers, I wish that they could stop calling him their "first" son. As if I hadn't enough handling two children...
"Be well, uncle," Schaliya smiles.
"Greet the king and queen for us!" Schala says with a warm smile.
I wave with a hand and open a Gate. Molor is right behind me.
No mistakes now, nothing is disrupting me anymore.
"Good afternoon," I say as I step out on the snow-covered stair leading up to the castle gate, making the guards crash backwards into the walls.
"Ah... lord Magus?" one of them weakly says, "I dare to guess that you wish to see general Glenn?"
"Certainly!" he mumbles.
The gates leading in and the doors inside of the castle are hurriedly opened.
"Err, lord Magus is back again..." the guard announces.
"Oh God, he will slain me...!" I hear Glenn squeal, fighting to hold back a laughter.
King Guardia and queen Leene both seem to be struggling not to laugh as well, and so do several of the knights inside of the throne room too.
"Let's hear it," I coldly say, "what are you planning now?"
"What brings thee that belief?" Glenn innocently says, battling a wide grin.
"Your grimaces," I point out.
"What art thee speaking about?"
I roll my eyes.
"Is this something similar to the little event with Ayla?" I ask, bracing my mind for almost anything.
Glenn unsheathes the Masamune, hiding his mouth behind his hand.
'Watch out...' Molor mutters, just as prepared for a nasty surprise.
"What on earth are you doing?" I ask Glenn, raising an eyebrow.
"I am following a piece of advice thee lent me a month ago," the general smiles.
I haven't been here since the middle of December in their view, fetching Glenn for the celebrating of Janatzer's birth. Now it's February in this time.
"The truth that shalt be spoken be something similar to the event with our prehistoric lady, I fear," the general says, "I face the joy of marriage in a few weeks' time."
"Oh, dear..." I sarcastically snort, raising an eyebrow.
What has he done now?
He turns to the door leading to the stairways, right of the thrones.
"Show thyself, love," he says, still smiling widely.
There's a soft laughter coming from above, and swift footsteps hurry down the stair.
'By the sacred fire!' Molor mutters.
I guess I'm staring. I can't help it.
For a tenth of a second I almost believe that it's Schala. But that young, slender woman with blue hair, about twenty years old, dressed in the simple yet fine clothing of a staff carrier and with such a weapon in her hand is not my sister.
"Hello, uncle," she smiles, her green, gem eyes twinkling with laughter.
"Thou hath been toying with time, my comrade," Glenn grins, "a future thee brought her here some humble weeks ago."
He was wise to draw his weapon.
Schaliya leaps in between me and the knight with a laugh.
"Oh, spare him, uncle," she smiles, "'twas not completely his idea."
"You were four years old when you said that you wanted to marry him!" I mutter, rubbing my forehead.
"And seventeen years later I found that my childish vow carried a flower of truth," she says with another soft laughter.
I watch her for a moment, feeling Molor fight against a silent chuckling. I have my suspicions about the looks of the other people in the room, but I don't care to turn my head.
Finally I sigh.
"I suppose that you've already had a long talk with me about this," I tiredly say.
"Indeed," she smiles, "a very long talk. You said a lot of things about Glenn, but in the end thou gave in to my will."
Glenn hides his mouth behind his hand, and I roll my eyes.
A realization suddenly cuts through my mind, and I clench my teeth so that my jaw almost breaks. If she is here, in this time, and everybody knows that I am her uncle...
Schaliya tilts her head, a frown appearing in her forehead as she obviously can sense my tension. Then she suddenly smiles carefully.
'I know, uncle,' she whispers to my mind, 'thou hast told me about Magus thyself. I don't care what you hath done, thou art my uncle Janus.'
Very slowly I release a deep breath, shaking my head.
'I planned not to ever let you get the slightest clue, you know,' I tell her, silently.
'I know. And I was shocked at first, but thee told me everything from the very beginning, and thus I can put it aside.'
I smile a little.
'That makes me very relieved, little one.'
She smiles back, warmly.
'I grew to truly love Glenn as thee brought him to visit two or three times a year in our view but only with a couple of weeks distance in his life, uncle. And he loves me. Thee will accept that.'
'As if I had a choice,' I silently sigh.
'Oh, thou art so cool, uncle,' she says with a glistening of mischief in her unheard voice.
'Which reminds that I have to make stew of Lucca.'
I reach forward and take her now grown, beautiful face between my hands, as I've always done. Why not... my reputation here is ruined completely already.
"I won't bore you with anything you've already heard, little lady," I say aloud, "because I guess I've told you everything I can think of about this dark era."
"Thee know thyself well, uncle," she smiles, touching one of my hands with her own.
"And as far as I know it's your fifth birthday tomorrow," I report with another smile of mine, "and you really wanted Glenn to come."
She laughs once more, bends forward and gives me a quick hug before moving back again.
"You are smashing my torn reputation completely, Schaliya," I sigh, shaking my head.
"Only fulfilling the deed thee already hath begun," she replies and sits down to touch Molor's black head as I let go of her.
He hisses, smiling to the mind. Schaliya blinks at him.
"I would really love to follow thee back in time," she says, straightening up, "but I have been told about the dangers of meeting thyself."
"I will survive," Glenn grins, "if thy uncle dost not perform a disgraceful assault."
I snort and reach out a hand, muttering the spell of time travel. Plans of returning for a longer talk with Schaliya are already growing inside of my head, but right now I'm looking forward to her birthday. One thing at the time. We can talk when I bring Glenn back.
The general touches Schaliya's arm as he walks over to us, with a warm smile. She looks back, and I have to succumb to that whatever I'll tell her when she's older than I know her to be in the past, it won't save her.
The Gate opens before my hand.
"One more thing, before I forget," Schaliya says as I am about to say good-bye for now.
"What then?" I ask.
"Do be stubborn about the body transforming spells," she says and sighs, "I'm still feeling a bit guilty for what happened to Sean."
I raise my eyebrows.
"You didn't turn him into a..."
"A goat?" I repeat, slightly surprised, "didn't you ask me to turn him into a tadpole?"
"I did," she smiles, "but I ended up becoming rather fond of... frogs."
Glenn chuckles, and I sigh.
"Don't go turning people into animals, little one," I say with a roll of my eyes, "they seem to end up becoming even dreadfully closer relatives. Good bye for a while, Schaliya."
"Good bye, uncle Janus."
I enter the flashing darkness.
"You know that I'll have to kill you," I tell Glenn as we step out just before Schala and Cered's house.
"Thee said so when thee blessed me with her graceful presence to me as well," he smiles, calmly.
The door opens before we can continue our talk, and my soon-to-be five year old niece rushes out.
"Hello, Glenn!" she squeals and throws her short arms around his neck as he sits down on one knee with a warm smile on his lips, "I am so glad that thee came!"
"So am I, Schaliya," he softly says.
'I find it fascinating,' Molor says, calmly.
'I guess that I have no choice but to play along,' I mutter, following Glenn as he allows Schaliya to drag him into the house.
I think that's all I have to tell. This part of my story ends here.
No, wait a moment. There is one more thing.
One last dream.
I tiredly blow on the dusty line of standing books on the endless shelve, causing a cloud of dust to dance down towards the floor far below.
How long have I been searching through the library for the slightest clue? Surely a month.
This library was built in the year 1106 AD, and already, 28 years later, it contains almost all important books and scrolls that have survived the history so far. After traveling randomly through time for what seemed like a grayer and grayer eternity of hopelessness I found out about this place. If there's something written about a woman with blue hair, it should be available here. If Schala was thrown into a time when script and preserving of such was invented.
It's a small ray of hope, but it's there. Random time travels are fruitless.
Lavos is dead, or he will be as soon as he shows up in 1999 AD.
For a moment my tired thoughts drift away into a lighter stasis as I think of all that happened.
A wonder; though his body was destroyed we could bring Crono back to life. I have never seen anyone as happy as Marle was...
And then, after cleaning up history a bit we defeated Lavos.
Among the things we did to mend our time stream we took care of what was left of queen Zeal.
I purse my mouth.
It wasn't her anymore. Just a puppet of Lavos.
My vow is fulfilled. Now I only have to find Schala.
With a sigh I turn to the shelve again. There are thousands upon thousands of books here. The librarians couldn't help me, so I have to look for myself. At least they promised to tell me if they found anything. A couple of times I have been forced to make them forget the pictures of the historic warrior knows as the Pawn of the Mystics, though.
Now and then I think of the boy. I want to know how he managed in the other time flow.
One day I'll find a way back there. But first I'll find Schala. I can't rest before that.
Randomly I take out a book from the far-reaching line.
Its cover is of dry, cracked, soft, wood, and there are pointy shadows on it. The spots lead to assuming that there might have been jewels attached to it once upon a time. The pages are yellowed by age, and it seems to be well studied. Without real enthusiasm I open it on the front cover's inside, investigating what book it is and who the author was.
The neat, careful writing says:
Diary of queen Leene, queen of Guardia - 585 - 662 AD This diary covers the years 595 - 603 AD, provides detailed information of the last years of the Mystic war.
Hmm. What a coincidence.
I hold up the book, idly allowing it to turn its pages by itself. Displaying the most studied parts.
Suddenly a few words passing catch my eye as they run past, and I catch the pages.
Frog. Dead. Strong magic.
I know I saw it.
Frowning I turn the pages. My eyebrows twitch as I read the text of the tenth of March, 601 AD. The fine writing is shaking and encircled by spots that must be tears.
Today the troop my husband sent to Ozzie's old lair returned, and my heart is still frozen solid with fear from when they left their terrible rapport. I should have followed my hunch and not have let Frog lead the expedition! The soldiers told us that as soon as they landed on the beach, the ground suddenly opened and swallowed our faithful general!
When they finally found Frog, inside a great cave, he was already dead. At the sight of his body, which they brought back, even I can conclude that he had suffered attacks from strong magic. The soldiers also found a message on the cave floor by poor Frog, written in his blood. It said "Let everyone know that the Mystics' great warriors were victorious in the end". If only I had stopped Frog from going there!
There's a big plump of ink after the last words, seems as if the queen hadn't the nerves to dry it up.
Great warriors of the Mystics killed Frog? What the...!?
With a snarl I surpass the diary to the depths of my cloak and jump off the ladder I was standing on, ignoring the fact that the floor is seven feet away. I land safely, look around and begin to harshly mumble. It's a one-day sail to the capital from the island of the Mystics where Ozzie's lair was, so if they landed, found Frog and hurried back...
With all my might I concentrate on the ninth of March, 601 AD. Early morning, Mystics' island.
That is one part of the history that I cannot accept.
That's it. I think you know the rest. Ah, and not to confuse... remember that in my dreams, Ozzie's castle was on the island to the northeast of the magic cave, not further east as it is in my real life. Therefore that Janus found and saved Frog one day later. It's not that hard to grasp, is it?
There, I am done telling this story. You might ask why I bothered. I have my reasons.
Author taking over from Janus for the after word:
I have only two things to say.
1. Where did all these pages come from?!? ;) This story was violent as I wrote it.
2. If you have compliments, threats or anything else you want me to hear about, feel free to mail me. I will reply if I'm not suddenly turned into a snail by Magus (our relationship has faltered for every crossover I have written). Ooops, here he comes again, I have to hide...