Author Topic: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche  (Read 408 times)

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« on: May 24, 2021, 10:21:23 pm »
 So, originally I was going to put this in a much larger AU-based plot (The original game, except what if Yakra was secretly behind everything? Cooler than it sounds), but I'm really not up to that kind of chore, and this has just been such a strong concept in my head that I decided to make something out of it.

  The story is an AU version of the events which follow Magus joining the team. Right away, there are some obvious changes to the game's plot, changes which vastly serve to set the framework for exploring the mind of a man who refuses to accept the team as friends, not because he doesn't like them, but because he can't accept that he deserves them. Everyone deserves a friend though, and in this story Magus learns this with a little help from an existing friend.


===================The Friendlord================


Ch 1 - The Survivors

      The scene was iconic enough - Marle and Frog, stood upon the North Cape, facing off against Magus. Marle and Frog had come to this era with Crono in tow, but now he was gone, and the only other person they had left from outside was Magus...    ...except not really, as they had just learned.

       "So..." Frog muttered lowly, as if overcome with a sympathetic sadness, before regaining his composure and reminding himself of who he was speaking to.

       "Thou art...     ...thou art that filthy urchin!!"

        Magus made no gesture or reaction whatsoever to Frog's insults, merely continuing his story.

        "Ever since Lavos's time portal landed me in the Middle Ages, I have waited to even the score...  Had you not interrupted me at my castle, I... !!!"

         Magus caught himself - what if they hadn't interrupted him? Recent events implied he would have fared poorly.

         "...anyways, drawn into another portal, I ended up here - ironic, seeing as how this is where I was torn from. With my knowledge of the future, I convinced the Queen that I was a mighty oracle...  ...but no history book could have prepared me for what happened here last night."

         As he continued, a small hush of hopelessness fell over Marle and Frog both, as it seemed even their most desperate avenue - an unlikely alliance- had given up hope.

         "Great is the power of Lavos," Magus spoke, as if comprehending it for the first time. "All who challenge...   'it'...   will surely perish."

         At those last words, Magus's ten-yard stare curled into a slight smile of satisfaction.

         "Now... heed these words, and leave my time period. Unless of course, you wish to end up like your idiot friend, Crono!"

         "Now wait JUST A MINUTE!" Marle shouted. "Crono saved your life! The least you could do is..."

         "NONE OF YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE", Magus snarled back. "Don't you get it? You keep meddling in affairs which are none of your concern. Perhaps I was ill-prepared for battle with Lavos but I have spent decades of my life studying everything about it! Where it unearths, what its weaknesses are..."

         Marle glared, knowing that Magus would shout over any protest she gave him.

         "...only for a Frog and a stupid group of CHILDREN to swarm in and lay claim to my mission? And how long have you even known this thing has existed? Do you profess to know what you're doing any more than I?"

         Frog wanted to draw his sword.

         Magus just scoffed and turned away.

         "If you hadn't been here... Schala could have escaped, too...   but I guess you already planned ahead for that, right? Knowing so much more than I?"

         "..."

         Magus turned back around and looked them both in the eyes.

         "Crono got what he deserved."

         Frog immediately unsheathed his sword and pointed it right at the wizard. "Thou hadst best rephrase thine words, Fiendlord."

         "Very well," Magus declared. "How can I put this, so that you understand? 'Play with fire, and you get burned."

         "So be it!!" Frog shouted. "Raise arms, Magus!"

         "Yes..." Magus smiled, tearing off his armor, and tossing away his scythe. "Attack me if you will...  Did I ever tell you what Ozzie did with Cyrus's bones before tossing the whole heap off the mountain? This is your big chance! I am unarmed... my defenses are down... and my magic is drained. You'd best hurry."

          Frog stared into Magus's eyes... there was supposed to be a blood-curdling fury in them, only giving way to fear once he'd realized Frog was not to be crossed... except now, all the knight could think about was that Magus was expecting the same thing out of Lavos... for far longer, and over far worse. This...    wasn't right.

          "No," Frog refused.

          Magus's manic grin disappeared. "What do you mean, no?"

          "No," Frog repeated, sheathing his blade. "Killing thee won't bring Cyrus back.... or Crono. I art concerned that thou will not terrorize or threaten mine kingdom ever again, and I canst now confirm that quest is over. Lo, to stay here, in this frozen wasteland, is punishment enough. Come Marle... let's return to the End of Time...  we've much to tell the others."

           A rage brewed in Magus, that Frog would not end his misery... but there was nothing he could do with it except stand there, looking out at the sea in meditation.

           "And then what..." he thought to himself as the waves crashed in. "Are you still going to challenge Lavos? What good could you possibly do without me? Would you even consider it? Even if I told you there was a way that Crono..."

           Magus's meditation was interrupted by the sound of someone crying, getting closer and closer. Whoever it was at least wasn't approaching out of curiosity, but he disliked having his solitude threatened all the same. When he bothered to look up and peer south along the cliff's eastern edge, he was met with a rather shocking image...

           ...a sobbing girl in a tattered purple dress and voluminous blue hair.

           "Schala..." Magus whispered to himself, in surprise. In truth, he knew that Marle and her friends were not to blame for his sister's presumed fate, but he wanted them to feel like they were the ones to blame for everything. If his sister really had wanted to escape, the resources to do so would have been within mere feet of her - assuming of course her pendant was truly so low on power. Otherwise she simply would have teleported herself out as well, and now it appeared as if that was exactly what had happened.

          "So..." he said to himself, with some keen interest in the other party, which had paid him no mind as it sobbed and looked longingly out at the ocean through a blur of tears. "It seems your sense of self-preservation was stronger than you had anticipated..."

          Magus then immediately watched as Schala raised her arms, closed her eyes, and toppled forward, directly into the sea.

          "...perhaps not" Magus said, more in disappointment than in grief, as he adjusted his gloves and began levitating over the spot. "I'm sorry, Schala, but I cannot allow you to kill yourself, today."

          Not far away, Marle and Frog heard a loud commotion of water and wind coming from the North Cape. Curious what Magus was up to, they elected to head back and see...

===================================

So, yeah, a little different than the norm. I've got some stuff to explore with Magus and this is how it all starts.
       

Acacia Sgt

  • Zurvan Surfer (+2500)
  • *
  • Posts: 2539
  • Forever loyal to the Acacia Dragoons
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2021, 01:57:41 am »
Well, this is interesting. Personally, I've always stood on the opinion that Schala could've just used Marle's pendant, since that one would have enough charge, plus it landed not that far away from them after leaving Lavos' pocket dimension. Wouldn't be surprised if that was the case here, but if not... well, I guess that will be revealed soon enough.

In any case, here's hoping to see what happens next.

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2021, 08:44:30 pm »
Ch 2: Conditions

      "Magus!!!" Frog shouted. "What art thou attempting to do?!"

      "Frog, wait!!" Marle cried. "Look down in the water!!!"

      A familiar blue-haired girl was just barely beginning to surface. Magus could not manage any more than this in his current condition. "Can't...    lift her...      ...help... please..."

     Marle and Frog paid no attention to the fact that Magus was swallowing his pride, and simply did what they were good at: healing and water magic. Marle produced a small ice flow underneath Schala, lifting her safely to the surface, while Frog gently surfed it towards land with Water II. Once the princess was docked, Marle quickly pulled her off the ice flow and onto the land, while Frog began drawing the water out of her lungs.

     Magus had to simply stand back and watch. Marle and Frog had completely overtaken his sister's rescue, and what else could he have them do? She was the only thing he had somehow managed to salvage from all this... failure. As Marle and Frog both concentrated healing spells, Magus stood there watching, with an unusually awkward look of concern on his face, bereft of the stone gargoyle it usually was. Once Schala had finished coughing up water and Marle was convinced her lungs were ok, they both carried her to a hut, Magus following behind.

      "Worry not for the lass," Frog groaned, rolling his eyes. "Her life means to us far more than yours could ever."

-------------------------------------------
 
      Alfador had been following Magus from the village, but immediately sprinted towards the unconscious Schala once he had smelled her. Seeing her in poor, wet condition, he immediately curled up alongside her and began purring as Marle and Frog both made her comfortable next to a small fire.

     "There," the elder smiled. "She should come around soon, but she must rest. After all, she has no doubt been through quite a lot, as you all have."

      Magus stayed outside, watching her from the frame of the doorway. There was little more he could offer, and he dared not do anything to jeopardize Schala's life. It was... frustrating, to say the least. "Perhaps even I cannot do everything..." Magus admitted to himself. "Truth be told, I did not expect to ever end up in this scenario... I would summon Lavos to my castle, destroy it, and..."

      ...that's as far as he ever got with that plan. He never cared what would happen once the fiends realized their leader had only his own interests in mind. Now though, he was returned to the land of nostalgia, a warmth that had become but a fleeting memory... all to have it ripped apart once he realized how woefully unprepared even twenty years had made him. "and to think... I still couldn't defeat you? What then, is the point of all this? What am I, if I cannot be granted the power of justice? Punished? Is that it? For demonstrating my resolve..."

       "Yet she has been left behind..." Magus thought to himself some more. "What is the deeper meaning behind this? I could neither have my justice nor change history... but Schala is returned after being cut out of the picture for so long? Why? Sympathy?"

        Then Magus's thoughts turned to his last spoken encounter with her - He had forced her to seal a timegate, so that Crono and his friends could not return to this era.

        "She honestly should have been lost to me, after the way I treated her...  considering what she saw in them...  especially..."

        "...Crono...         ...I wonder... would it be possible to...?"

        Magus shook his thoughts from his head, and leaned into the hut, pointing to both Marle and Frog.

        "Both of you. Outside. Now."

---------------------------------------------

        Marle and Frog stood there, unsure what to make of Magus as he paced back and forth, his normal scowl had since returned.

        "Do you still intend to... destroy? That...  abomination?"

        Frog and Marle were surprised by the question - Ever since everything had happened, they had surprisingly forgotten all about their overarching quest. Truth be told, now that they actually thought about it, having lost Crono and witnessed so much horror was sowing great doubt amongst them.

       Finally, Frog sighed. "Nay..." he admitted. "We cannot continue. We hath seen our own selves fail... and seen you as well. No amount of power canst possibly work to prevent what that creature intends, especially now that we hath lost our strongest. All we canst do now is confess this dark turn of events to our companions elsewhere, and dissolve our union...   ...not to mention deliver this dark news to the boy's mother..."

       Even Magus had to admit, that sounded pretty depressing. Thankfully, he wouldn't need to tell them that... but he had to swallow so much pride right now that he too was almost on the verge of tears. Not sad, sorrowful tears, but more like a child having a tantrum. That isn't what shone in his face, though. Nothing shone, really.

       "Maybe..." he replied. "Maybe not."

       Marle had turned toward the Epoch, but stopped on hearing those words. "What do you mean?"

       "I mean..." Magus explained, "There may actually be a way that you can get Crono back."

       "Enough of this emotional abuse!!" Frog shouted. "To toy with us like so is amount to-"

       "Would you shut up and listen to me, idiot!?" Magus gritted. "It may still be possible for...     us...    to destroy Lavos. But you can't do it alone... I can't do it alone...      WE need Crono. It's the only way to at least... get this mission rolling again. To that end, I honestly believe there may still be a way to put him back in our ranks."

       "Our... We..." Frog smirked. "Thou dost want to join us, is that it? I suppose thou must, truthfully... but do not expect us to invite thee freely. Princess Nadia," Frog turned his attention, "Lass, though I honor your feelings regarding your royal title, I must ask of thee to use it formally upon this...            ...prince."

       Marle sighed and gritted her teeth. "Alright, fine... kneel, Magus."

       Magus awkwardly got down on a knee, his irritation far more apparent. "Alright?"

       "As present sovereign and heir apparent to the kingdom of Guardia, I hereby pardon your crimes and allow you to join us on our mission to destroy Lavos..."

       "Good, let's get g-"

       "HOWEVER", she continued, "there are some conditions you must meet in our union, or we will be forced to abort and dissolve."

       "Fine..." Magus glared. "What are they?"

       "Foremost", Marle explained, "I want you to return Glenn to human form."

       Frog perked up. "What?? Nay! P-perish the thought, Mlady! Although I woulds't greatly desire to see mine true self again, I hath for ten years crafted an art of combat around mine amphibious traits. To lift the curse now is amount to stripping mine capabilities."

       "Alright fine," Marle amended, "But as soon as we're finished, Magus you better turn him back."

       "Very well..." Magus grinned. "Is there anything else?"

       "Aye," Frog added. "I hath spared thee on the assumption that Magus the Fiendlord is now dead, either at mine hand or thine own. As such, I expect thee to take address henceforth as Janus of Zeal."

       "Absolutely not," Magus protested. "Schala just attempted suicide: now is neither the time nor place for her to know what happened to me. I will tell her in my own time, and not a moment sooner. Then, once she has been made aware, I will accept the title of Janus."

       "Very well then," Frog amended. "But we shan't face Lavos at all until thou hast indeed told her the truth of this."

       "Well then..." Magus shrugged, "If that is all, let us leave this place. We must locate Gaspar, the Guru of Time..."
=========================

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2021, 10:29:53 pm »
Ch 3: The Promise

         Lucca was furious.

         Magus had been really pulling his weight on this haunted mountain of ice and snow, and it beginning to make the Lucca feel like she was supposed to be trusting the guy. In fact, now that his power was beginning to recover, Magus was often putting himself in the lead, and finishing off most of the enemies encountered on his own. Lucca and Marle were honestly beginning to feel like they had a bodyguard and were taking their own personal tour of the mountain.

         As for Magus's thoughts, he could hear them some distance behind as he pushed the shell of a Lavos spawn (by himself, he grumbled) up against the cliff edge. They were definitely talking about him, but who knows what about. Why exactly did he care? He didn't need to be friends with these kids, or anything, they just had to work together. That's all he was asking for out of them. The only member of their little group who wasn't their friend. Yep.

        "Ahem", he called back to them, "Would you like to climb the shell, please? The summit is just up ahead."

        "When we're good and ready, Magus," Lucca barked back. "You aren't our leader, you know."

        "And if Crono was here?" He shot back. "Let me guess: He'd be the one doing all the work too, wouldn't he?"

        "Well maybe if you'd save something for the rest of-"

        "Just GET UP THE DAMN SHELL."

        Lucca was tempted to kick him in the face as she scaled the quills, but held her anger in. She was quite shocked to hear the terrible fate of Crono, as were Ayla and Robo, but when they told her they could possibly get him back, her grief subsided - after all, it's common to look for any way to bring back a lost loved one, but very rare to actually succeed. When she learned that monster, Magus, was involved though... it took Frog a little while to convince her that Magus wasn't going to raise a zombie. 

        "This better be worth it..."

        A short distance later, They were standing on a cliff edge, overlooking pitch darkness.

       "So... this is the summit of death peak!!"

       Marle pulled out the time egg, the Chrono Trigger, and held it in her palms.
 
       "To those who fear the night and stand against the darkness... please, hear our cry!! CRONO!!!"

       Marle watched as the egg began to rattle in her hands, as if something were inside it...     and then...

       ...nothing. It split open, and it was empty inside.   

       Magus looked alarmed, and Lucca even angrier. Marle just dropped to her knees, unable to stand anymore.

       "No...      ...please...   I-I've come so far... I can't lose him yet!! Please, give him back to me!! CRONO!!!"

       "So that's it, huh?" Lucca shot back at Magus. "Is this what you had us come all this way here for? An empty egg?"

       Marle couldn't stop Lucca. She wanted to, but she couldn't stand on two feet, let alone find words for the egg. Maybe if she gave it her full attention... things would change... 

       "Precisely..." glared Magus. "I suffered with you through this miserable mound of snow just to get a good laugh out of an impotent egg. That makes *so* much sense."

       Marle had begun to cry as it finally started to hit her that Crono was really, truly gone.

       "Meanwhile," Magus continued, "We've actively made things worse, in case you didn't notice the Ocean Palace hovering the sky...  Indeed, *not* retrieving Crono had to have been my-"

       "Just shut up!!" Lucca shouted. "It's probably all your fault anyways!! Why don't you just go home and look after Schala! ...at least you got her back."

       "I didn't expect any of this!"

       "Neither did I!!!"

       Suddenly, Marle shrieked, clutching her head as if in great pain. "EVERYONE, SHUT UP!!"

       Lucca ran over to hold Marle tightly, while a painful, squealing sob burrowed into the scientist's coat. Hearing it, deep down, Magus felt sorry for the poor girl, but he had nothing that would make her feel better, and that angered him the most: He had one thing to contribute, and it too had failed... or so it seemed.

       "I can't... can't lose him Lucca!! We can't...      CRONO, DON'T IGNORE US!! I BEG YOU!!"

       Magus listened to Marle finally let go of everything she'd been keeping bottled up since the collapse of Zeal, when a shadow fell over his eyes. Opening them, he looked to the sky.

       "Lucca...     Marle... look."

       Marle, amidst tears, looked up with Lucca to see a mysterious force eclipsing the sun, until everything around them had gone completely black...

---------------------------

      "Incredible..." Magus whispered, as they were suddenly returned to a precise moment, frozen in time. "The tiniest, fleeting moment... here before us, as if preserved in a museum."

       Lucca looked around at the scene before them. Queen Zeal's mouth was hung open in a laugh. Lavos's eye was open, and a steady stream of photons had just begun to surge out of it. Frog and Marle were on the ground, mouths held open in a silent scream.

      Magus walked up to Schala, whose expression was the very definition of the past few months of her life. Why did she survive? Why, despite all of his failings, and all of his abuse, did she keep coming back? He was beginning to entertain the possibility that he should tell her the truth soon, and that perhaps no harm could come of it.

      ...then he saw himself, struggling to stand and gritting his teeth at the horrendous scene about to play. "Ah, yes..." he thought to himself. "I recognize this precise moment, surely. This is the moment when I realized how incredibly wrong I was... when I realized I should have attempted to protect her, or dismantle all of this... no! How could I have known?? After all that time preparing..  what did you want from me, that I should team up with these sorts? Real original - How would I have even convinced them?? "Oh hey I know we're kinda at each other's throats, but could you give me a hand?"

        None of this came out of him, though. Just passing thoughts.

        "Pity..." he finally spoke. "We weren't able to change a thing... were we, Janus?"

 --------------------------------

        As Lucca realized what they needed to do, Everyone helped move the heavy figures of Crono and the doll, switching places. Shortly after Crono was in their hands, the time freeze ended, and everything went dark....    everything that is, except for one bright silhouette, fading to daylight, like a fading dream, as it gave way to a figure underneath the tree.

        "Marle..." Lucca's jaw hung open.

        "I know..." Marle smiled. "We did it..."

        There, laying under the tree and sufficiently confused as to his sudden change of surroundings, was Crono. He managed only to speak his friends' names, still very weak from the beating he'd taken.

        "W-welcome...   welcome back..."

        Crono looked up at Marle, uncertain why tears were streaming down her face, but he could see she had missed him dearly and did not object when she suddenly bore down upon him and embraced him with all her might. Before long, Lucca had to do very much the same. Perhaps because she heard Lucca start crying too, Marle didn't even bother holding back anymore, and all Crono could do about it? All he wanted to do? Just hold them both and let them know he was alright.

         Some odd thoughts had been going through his mind when he had stood before Lavos last, namely that if Magus was also trying to destroy Lavos, he couldnt' possibly be their enemy. With that in mind, Crono had been trying to save him, too. He wasn't sure why exactly Magus was here now with his two friends, but the thought warmed his heart. He had been hoping Magus might come with them.

       "While you were gone..." Marle sniffled, "A... a lot of things happened... First we... and then... but after that... Crono?"

       "Wake up, dimwit!!" Lucca screamed. "We went through all this trouble just to get you back, the least you can do is stay awake and listen!!"

        Crono stared into Lucca's eyes with a mix of confusion and terror.
 
       "You pull a stunt like this again... I'm not bringing you back, understand? God, you can be so irritating sometimes..."

       Magus gestured blankly. "There. You see? He's back, just like I told you. Now, let's get a move on."

       "Yes..." Lucca sniffled. "You were right, Magus."

       "You were right..."

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2021, 02:07:31 pm »
Ch 4: Say something

         Ayla, Frog, and Robo heard the sound of an incoming time warp being engaged.

         "Goodness," Robo muttered, "if they have returned, then either they have succeeded, or..."

         Ayla shook her head, stoicly. "Crono not time yet. Crono die, affront to gods. Old Man fix."

         Everyone held their breath as Lucca stepped in first, followed by Marle, who gave everyone a brief, forlorn look, which only slowly faded into a big smile.

         Crono was standing behind them.

         Everyone began shouting his voice in cacophony as they all ran up to him, throwing their arms around.

         "Lad," Frog exclaimed, "We thought thou hadst..."

         "Ayla tell you!!" Ayla smiled. "Crono not die!! Crono live!"

         Robo approached in an embrace, but spoke no words. He had felt the impact of Crono's death as harshly as everyone else had, but didn't know what to do with these feelings. All he knew was, right now, he had his friend back and just wanted to be thankful for it.

        "Something wrong, Robo?" Lucca asked him.

        Robo shook the top half of his head. "No, Lucca. Actually... may I embrace you as well?"

        "Huh?" Lucca asked. "Robo, I didn't die"

        "I know..." he explained. "But Crono means a lot to you. I can tell that you were hurt, and now you are healed again. I would like to participate in that feeling, if I can."

        Lucca smiled warmly. "Oh. okay, I think I understand. Sure." And threw her arms around him.

        "Aye, look at thee, ladies weeping to thine left and right..." Frog laughed. "And yet, I cannot help but notice something is amiss. Wherefore art Magus? Surely he didst not intend to exchange, or replace..."

        "Magus is fine," Marle laughed. "There's only room for three in the epoch though. We dropped him off in 12,000 BC for a minute before making a trip here."

        "Ah, I see," Gaspar chuckled. "While I am pleased to see that my egg truly worked, I do wish Janus was here amongst you now - there are a great deal of things I must discuss with all of you, himself included."

-------------------------------

        12,000 BC

        Magus was anxious regarding Schala's mental and physical health. She had attempted suicide last time, and he was worried she might try it again.

        "I wonder..." he thought to himself as he searched the commons. "Do the others expect I will have had my words with her on this trip? I don't think she will be in a condition to hear them... and yet, what will happen if I do not?"

        Not seeing any sign of Schala (or Alfador for that matter), Magus checked back at the hut.

        Not only were Schala and Alfador still there, but it seemed as if Schala hadn't left since they first put her there. At the very least, she was sitting up and...     awake? It was hard to say: her eyes were open, and they would blink occasionally, but they just stared into the fire, and she otherwise remained motionless. When Alfador immediately bound toward his master's feet, she didn't even notice.

        Unsure what to do, Magus just quietly entered and carefully approached. "Schala?"

        Schala did not respond to him. She just kept staring into the fire, like a breathing statue.

        "Schala..."

        Again, no response.

        Magus shook her shoulder a bit and shouted. "Schala!!"

        Finally, she managed to look at him and manage the quietest "what?"

        Now Magus wasn't sure what to ask her. He had meant to see if she was ok - clearly she wasn't. The idea of revealing his true self to her at this point in time was a distant joke, and now it felt not just dangerous, but positively ineffective.

       "Would you say something, please? Anything."

       Schala just stared at the fire again. "I don't want to speak."

       Magus just stared at her, trying to figure something out.

       "Sleep bears nightmares...  it hurts to eat...    and yet there's nothing in the waking world which I deserve. If I am not allowed to end this existence, then what else can I do? Just let me stare at this fire and do nothing else."

       Alfador's plaintive meow accented the hopelessness of this situation.

       Then, Magus had an idea.

       "Can we...  ...talk about it?"

       She didn't move at all to respond.

       "There were..." he started, "many people involved in this turn of events. You were one of them, yes. You worked the machine, aware doing so would result in something terrible...   but there was also Lavos itself, which responded by rising from the sea and destroying your kingdom."

       "..."

       "There was... also your mother, to consider. It is safe to say you did as much as you could to communicate that she should not do this, and yet she made demands... hit you, threatened you..."

       It looked like Magus finally managed to hit something, but he couldn't be sure if this was good or bad.

       "Also, you should consider Dalton...     you made a powerful objection by running away with Janus. It is possible that if he didn't hunt you down..."

       Schala's eyes were narrowing, and her shoulder quivered. Magus had a bad feeling about this.

       "Schala?"

        Schala spoke no words, and simply buried her face into her hands, the tiniest sound from her mouth slowly cascading into a loud, descending wail of tears, as if she had just been forced back into a world of pain.

       "No... wait!! You've done nothing wrong..."

       His sister wouldn't respond. She couldn't. Magus felt as if he had been trying to trying to free her from a block of stone, using a chisel and hammer, but couldn't tell if he was striking into Schala herself and making her bleed.

        "I'm sorry..." he told her. "I just... I'm so frustrated right now... what do you want, Schala? What do you need for all this to go away? Tell me!!"

         Finally, she looked him in the eyes and spoke.

         "I want to die."

         "I'm sorry..." Magus shook his head. "I can't give you that."

          "Then leave, and let me stare into the fire..."

          Magus sighed, upset and helpless, as he turned to leave the hut. As he did, he wondered if he should bother trying...

          "Schala...      I don't know if this is a good time to tell you this or not, but there's something you should know about me..."

          Suddenly, Schala's eyes filled with a manic fury as she thrashed in his direction and screamed.

          "I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE!!"

          Magus had to quickly escape before she picked up a carving knife and threw it at him. Realizing there was nothing else he could do for her, he flew to the isolated gate cavern and left without another word.

          Meanwhile, Schala looked down at her hands and what she did, only bursting into tears again.

         "No... wait... come back.. I'm sorry..."

------------------------------

         A shimmering ring from the pillars on the west island, and suddenly Magus had reappeared in the end of time. Everyone looked up at the wooden fence-gate when Magus crossed by it, holding their breath.

        "So...    how'd it go?"

        Magus responded only by glaring into Lucca's eyes.

        "Uh-oh..." Marle whispered. "Guess it didn't."

        "Janus," Gaspar called out, "Will you be staying for a bit? I wish to speak to all of you."

         Magus said nothing as he approached, just wanting to get this over with. When he had finally made himself comfortable, he muttered one thing, just clear enough for Gaspar to hear.

         "Don't call me that."

        Gaspar pretended like he couldn't hear him, and continued onward.

        "You wish to fight Lavos, correct? Many paths lay open to you. You may use that bucket. Or fly the Wings of Time to The Day of Lavos... Or there's the Black Omen, which floats in the sky above your world. Lavos is somehow connected with it."
 
        Magus shook his head. "We are not prepared for this yet."

        "That is fine," Gaspar assured him, "It is up to you to decide when you will be. When you do however, you must do so realizing you seven will be alone."

        "..."

        "That does not mean, however, that you will not have help. I have had visions of people and places that will help you..."

        As Gaspar spoke, his words resonated with various people. Magus remained dismissive of most of these things, until finally Gaspar mentioned Ozzie.

       "What!?" Magus gritted his teeth. "Ozzie is still alive!?"

       "He is," Gaspar admitted, "Although I cannot tell you where he is now..."

       "That's fine..." Magus grumbled. "I know where to find him..."
« Last Edit: May 28, 2021, 02:10:24 pm by Prince Janus »

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2021, 02:58:08 pm »
Ch 5: The illusion of vengeance

       
       Somehow, Frog had convinced Magus to come with him to Cyrus's grave. Why exactly did he agree? Frog assumed Magus wanted to make peace with what he'd done, and this would be the best way to go about it. In truth, Magus was uncomfortable with it, but felt he would reveal this by declining, and coming along would make him look tough. In a bid to seem completely detached from the matter, Magus shrugged.

       "Here he be," Frog pointed towards a lone gravestone in the furthest reaches of the ruins. Frog lit a few candles around the headstone, and closed his eyes.

       "Cyrus...  I'm back. I know I've been gone for a little while... I'm sorry about that old friend... a lot has happened lately, and I need to tell-"

       "Glenn...." a voice called out above him.

       Frog opened his eyes, and there standing before him was his old friend.

       "...Cyrus!?"

       Cyrus was smiling and laughing. "Couldn't stay away, huh? C'mon, let's take a walk."

 ---------------------------

       Frog had forgotten about Ayla and Magus entirely, pleasantly strolling up what appeared to be Mount Denadoro with Cyrus in tow.

       "Cyrus... look at me... It's been ten years..."

       "And?" Cyrus commented. "Glenn, you've turned into a frog, not a lion. You can't keep focusing on all your weaknesses!! Sure it took you ten years, but you did do it! You defeated Magus, and brought peace to the kingdom."

       "Actually...   Cyrus, I must confess, Magus..."

       "Is as I said," Cyrus reassured him. "Glenn, do you know what a Mystic... a Fiend, truly is?"

       "I know not..." Frog admitted.

       "I don't think any mortal does..." Cyrus laughed, "But in the afterlife, well...     ...it is said that the fiends originated from dreams...    in much the same way the Masamune did. They are manifestations of thoughts and ideas."

       "But Cyrus," Frog protested, "Magus is not truly a fiend."

       "No Glenn," Cyrus explained, "He was. The thoughts and ideas of Janus manifested themselves into a whole other identity. In a way, you could say that this 'Magus' truly was a fiend. That fiend is slowly dying though, yielding a guilty man who needs your help, lest Magus truly return."

       "You're... ok with this?" Frog asked. "After everything he did to you?"

       The two of them stopped on a tall cliff at the summit of the mountain. Just ahead was a cave where the Masamune had been kept for so long. The stain of ashes was just barely visible on the ground - if one were not looking for it, they wouldn't see it.

        "When I burned away here..." Cyrus confessed, "I wasn't angry or bitter. I was just scared. Scared not for my life flashing before me, but that nothing would protect Guardia anymore. In that moment, I thought the kingdom was doomed."

        Frog stared at the ground with tears in his eyes.

        "But I wasn't the real hero, was I? No, Glenn, I think we both know now who that truly is. Frog or no frog, I can sleep safely now, knowing that under your watchful eye, Guardia is truly safe."

         "Cyrus..." Frog choked up... "Thanks..."

         "Glenn... I have to go, now. Slumber calls and I must answer..."

         "Cyrus, wait!! I-"
 
         "It's okay, Glenn" Cyrus smiled. "Someday. But for now, protect the Queen."

-----------------------------------

         Cyrus had seemed so much taller as Frog was talking to him, but the more his eyes adjusted to the darkness, the more he looked like Magus.

         "Spiritual encounter?" Magus asked, "Or did you fall asleep standing up?"

         Frog looked around, closing his eyes. "Desist, Magus. Tis' neither the time nor place..."

         Unsheathing the Masamune, Frog stared into the blade at his reflection. "Masa... Mune... Hath I perhaps failed to perceive mine true merit beneath this form? Aye..."

         In response, the Masamune split into two creatures. "Well yeah," one of them replied. "How did you go through that creepy castle with us, without figuring out that a hero's *true* power doesn't come from a sword?"

         "Told you Mune, he should've been the one to take our test..."

         "Well," Masa replied, "Sometimes a person doesn't realize what they are truly capable of until you provide them a little white lie...  not that we don't have magic powers of course, just...    a hero's true power comes from within! So, from now on, put your heart and soul into this sword when you wield it! It's an extension of your mind and heart."

         "Yes..." Frog smiled. "I get it!!"

         "Good," Magus groaned, "then we should journey to Ozzie's Fort and put an end to this, once and for all."

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2021, 10:37:06 pm »
Ch 6: The Fat Bastard
 
 
        "MY ESTEEMED FIENDISH FRIENDS..."

        Ozzie was speaking from atop a high balcony, watched by many imps, freelancers, and ogans. Behind him, throughout his fortress, Slash and Flea were keeping watch...

 
--------------------------------

       ...Except Flea was trapped and alone, surrounded by Robo, Frog, and Magus.
 
       "I... I don't believe it!!" Flea cried out in terror. "How? And why??? SLASH??? SLASH, OZZIE, HELP!!"

       "Don't waste your breath..." Magus smiled, his scythe hovering in the air next to him as if being held by some phantom arm. "The bell tolls for you, Flea. It is time to board the vessel off of this mortal coil..."

       Behind him, Frog was unsheathing the Masamune...

----------------------------------

       Ozzie could not hear Flea's screams of pain and terror.
 
       "AS YOU KNOW", he continued, "WE RECENTLY SUFFERED A TERRIBLE LOSS. OUR VERY OWN DARK LORD, MAGUS, WHILE ATTEMPTING TO FASHION THE MIGHTY LAVOS, WAS STRUCK DOWN BY AN INTRUDING FORCE FROM GUARDIA."

       There was sounds of wailing and tears amongst the crowd.

       "BUT LET NOT WHAT MAGUS ACCOMPLISHED FOR US BE IN VAIN..." 

-------------------------------------------

       Slash was holding his own against Frog, but was hopelessly outnumbered by far stronger opponents.

       "Damn!! So strong, in such a short amount of time??"

       "Thou fight with honor, Slash", Frog admitted. "You shalt be remembered for it."

       "I 'shalt' be remembered for taking down the lot of you!"

       Unfortunately the fight did not go at all as Slash planned, when Robo and Magus simply ganged up on him.

       "We are terribly sorry," Robo explained, "But we must put down this movement."

       "My only regret..." Slash spat out with blood, "was not expecting this from you sooner... Magus..."

       The last thing to go through Slash's mind was Magus's scythe.

-------------------------------------------------------

       "OUR VICTORY AGAINST GUARDIA KINGDOM REMAINS AT HAND!! THOSE OF US WHO ARE LEFT MUST WALK THE ROAD OUR FORE-BEARERS PAVED WITH THEIR BLOOD!!"

      Loud cheers erupted from Ozzie's gathered crowd.

       "FROM THIS MOMENT FORTH, I WILL TAKE THE MANTLE OF YOUR LEADER. CALL *ME* THE GREAT MAGUS, OZZIE!!"

      At this, nobody responded, having fallen deathly quiet.

       "...UUHHHHH.... THAT WAS YOUR CUE TO APPLAUD."

      Even still, nobody responded, only staring up at the balcony in shock and terror. Once Ozzie realized what was going on, he turned to see for himself, and was met with a most ghastly sight.

       "L-Lord Magus!! You're alive!!"

       Magus smiled. "Ozzie, you've done quite well."

       Ozzie smiled widely. "Well, on behalf of everyone here, we're all very glad to see you!!"

       Magus warmly put a hand on Ozzie's shoulder, before slowly moving to his neck and squeezing. "That's nice... but there's been a change of plans, I'm afraid..."

       Ozzie's eyes bulged out as he gasped for breath, before Magus suddenly tossed him backward, into the fortress. Ozzie instinctively ran as fast as he could, trying to get away from Magus, who chased after. In the dark confines of the fortress, Ozzie soon lost his way - which direction granted freedom, and which led only to death.

        ...except the truth was even more complex. There in the darkness, Ozzie was cornered by not only Magus, but Frog and Robo as well. "What?? Impossible!! You mean you..."

        "Like I said, Ozzie..." Smiled Magus in the dark, his red eyes shining through. "Change of plans."

        "Just tell me one thing... one thing before you off me..." Ozzie begged. "Why? Why did you do it? Why did you change sides??"

        "Oh, Dear Ozzie... you never understood, did you? I never *was* on your side."

        "Then who???" Ozzie cried. "Who?"

        Magus answered only by bearing his scythe to the cowering fiend's neck. One clean motion, and he fell to the ground in two pieces.

        "Thou didst not answer his question, methinks", Frog commented. "If thou wast not on his side then, whose side wast thou on?"

        Magus glared at Frog as if he had been misunderstood for the fiftieth time that day. "The same side I've always been on - my. Own. Side. Remember that, when you keep trying to buddy up to me."

        Frog sighed as Magus left to threaten everyone who didn't disperse from the crowd. He had hoped that Janus, anyways, might warm up to him and effectively do away with this fiendlord persona, but Magus was going out of his way to suppress any and all invitations of friendship. That made it very difficult to accept him as anything more than an extra hand.

------------------------------------------------

        Following the disappointing conclusion to Magus severing his fiend ties, he and Frog returned with Robo to the End of Time. Crono and Marle were off with Ayla to try and locate the Rainbow Shell, leaving just them and Lucca behind.

        "Hey, so Magus," Lucca asked, "I gotta know where you stand with us..."

        Magus rolled his eyes. "Have I not been over this? I'm not your friend: Just the extra muscle we need to finish Lavos off."

        "Yeah..." Lucca groaned. "Trust me, with an attitude like that, who *would* want to be your friend? I just need to know that you can be trusted, and our mutual need for each other *isn't* doing my beauty sleep any favors."

         "Fine..." Magus glared. "What do you want from me..."

         "I want you to go talk to Schala so we can stop calling you Magus."

         Magus laughed. "And that makes me trustworthy?"

         Lucca shook her head. "Knowing you'll have to answer to her for anything that happens to us? That will."

         Magus's eyes narrowed, Lucca had won the argument. "Now you listen here", he began. "My business with Schala is none of your concern. When I am good and ready, I will go and speak to her myself. What I will *not* do..." he explained, "is visit her because someone told me to. The more  you bring it up, the less inclined I am."

         "Alright..." Lucca smiled. "We should probably wait until just before we fight Lavos, anyways. In fact, I don't want you to go anywhere near her until th-"

         "I BEG YOUR PARDON?" Magus interrupted, loudly.

         "She's a distraction," Lucca confessed. "Obviously you need to focus your mind elsewhere, and the only way to do that is to forbid you from going to see-"

         "You won't FORBID me to do anything!" Magus shouted at her. "In fact, maybe I should just stay there until we're ready to do something about the Black Omen. Until then, good riddance..."

         ...and as Magus stormed off into one of the back pillars, a smirk curled on Lucca's face.

         "That's right you dumb bastard. Go to Schala."

       

       

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2021, 04:00:50 pm »
Ch 7: Second attempt


        Magus's return to the hut in 12,000 BC was not quite the image he expected. When he arrived, he found the hut empty. Initially concerned, he was soon heralded by Alfador, who trailed off in front of him, as if leading, towards the North Cape.

        "No..." Magus grumbled, "Not again..."

        He quickly soared toward the cape, only to find Schala sitting on its edge, eyes open, watching the horizon. She hadn't been crying, and didn't look to be planning another jump. In fact, when Alfador came back, she smiled and pet him. "There you are, little guy..." she spoke. "Did you find him?"

        Alfador looked over toward Magus as he approached, meowing desperately as if trying to communicate something important to Schala. She replied only with a slight laugh.

        "He seems to like you," Schala called. "I was hoping he might have run into Janus, but something tells me he's already moved on...   ...more than I can, anyways..."

        Magus reached down as Alfador bounded to him, meowing pleadingly at Schala from his arms. "It seems he's made quite a few friends in the commons, as well. What about you? You seem to be in better spirits."

        Schala sighed, looking upward at a tiny, floating fortress just about to cross in front of the sun.

        "Don't be fooled by my improvement. I feel used and discarded. My mother does not love me anymore."

        Magus sat down next to her. "She has no concept of it, no. At least she no longer has ears and eyes in all that you do. She has sacrificed everything just so that she might live forever up there, alone but for Lavos. Meanwhile, down here on the surface, who will lead these people to survival if not yourself? If you still feel responsible for these events, then atone."

        Schala brushed her hair out of her eyes and laughed. "You are truly persistant, aren't you? Relax - I will not attempt to take my life again. I am surprised in you, however. Why do you care so much about me that you felt the need to save my life? To insist that I was still valid?"

        Magus thought for a moment.

        "I'm not sure. When I arrived here, I had a solid plan in mind for how I wanted and expected things to work out. You and the others were simply not a part of it. I suppose you could say, however, that my thoughts and opinions softened the more I saw what you went through...    ...not that I wasn't already aware...     I...    I'm sorry Schala," Magus spoke through pain and closed eyes. "I knew what your new friends meant to you...  and I wanted to help when I saw what the queen was doing to you, but...

       "I understand", Schala spoke. "You came here expecting you could destroy Lavos, but grossly underestimated it. Perhaps everyone made that mistake."

       Magus nodded. Realizing they were alone, and that they were able to at least have a friendly conversation, he steered the subject toward her brother.

       "I...  realize you must have a lot of questions about me," he explained, "so let me explain what I was trying to do, and why...   you see, the reason I was able to, well... see the future so to speak..."

       "Yes?"

       Magus tried to find the right words.

       "The thing is Schala... I uh....      I am actually...  my name is J-"

       KER-SHINGG!!!!!!

       Magus's words were interrupted by the sound of a small vessel breaking the temporal barrier and landing in a field not far away.

       "wonderful," Magus thought sarcastically.

       "What on Earth was that??" Schala gasped

       Magus groaned. "Our 'friends'. Wait here."

=======================================

        "So, did you tell her yet?" Lucca smirked.

        "You know..." Magus growled, "if I didn't need you right now to help me take out Lavos..."

         Crono giggled to himself and Marle smirked. "Guess ya didn't, huh?"

         "And what exactly are you doing here? Can't you give us some privacy?"

         "Oh, hush," Lucca rolled her eyes."I haven't even seen her since your dumb ass booted us out of the time period! Great plan, by the way..."

         Schala came slowly approaching when she saw Crono's red haircut, a smile on her face.

         "Oh my goodness..." She said with tears in her eyes. "You... you're alive!!!"

         Before Crono could even explain, Schala had thrown her arms around him. "Th-this is miraculous!! I thought surely I had managed to kill you too..."

         Crono raised an eyebrow and Marle went wide-eyed. "Huh? Whoa, whoa whoa whoa!!!! Where is this coming from?? How did you have anything to do with that?"

         "I couldn't say no to her..." Schala explained. "Everything that has happened was because of me."

         Marle shrugged. "Okay, yeah I see your point... but Schala, hun, trust me noooooooobody here is blaming you for that! If your mom held a knife to your throat and told you to stab Janus, I mean you'd be in a tough spot there too right?"
       
         Schala nodded, while Magus glared.

         "Besides" Lucca reassured her, "We've already met the angriest, most vengeful person you can imagine over this whole thing, and he DEFINITELY doesn't-"

         "AHEM" Magus loudly interrupted. "Did you come here just to see Schala and bother me?"

         "Weeeellll" Marle smiled, "There was ANOTHER little reason..."

         "Forget it Marle," Lucca shrugged. "He wouldn't like it."

         Magus's eyebrows furrowed, while Schala hid a giggle. "Now, you wait a minute!! I don't even know what it is!"

         "Truuuust me", Lucca smiled. "You'd hate it."

         "Just tell me", he spoke through gritted teeth.

         "Alright, so here's the deal" Lucca explained. "We took care of the monster beneath the desert of San Dorino, and Robo volunteered to spend centuries turning it into a thriving forest..."

          Magus nodded. "Go on..."

         "He wants to hold a big grand reunion in it with everyone!! We're going to camp out under the stars!! But I mean if you don't wanna come, that's your business - There'll be dirt, and bugs, and humidity..."

         "You're right Lucca", Magus said with an unusually sincere smile. "That does sound absolutely horrible. Why don't you all go have fun playing your little games while me and Schala discuss what all has happened..."

         Much to Magus's surprise however, Schala perked up.

         "In a forest, you say? Like the ones we had here once?"

         "Huh?" Lucca replied. "Oh, not exactly... There's no ice age where we come from so-"

         "I'll come with you!!" Schala interrupted excitedly. "It sounds kind of fun!!"

         Magus's jaw dropped. "You've got to be kidding me..."

         "You really should come with us, Magus!" Schala insisted. "I'd invite Janus if I knew where he was..." she spoke, grabbing Alfador.

         Magus groaned. He'd have blurted it out loud if not for everyone else hovering around.

         "Then again, he always did hate the outdoors, didn't he Alfador?"

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2021, 10:34:42 pm »
Ch 8: When You Miss Someone Enough

             
         After multiple trips back and forth, the Epoch sat nestled in a shady catacomb of wood and grass, illuminated by the break in the canopy above. Meanwhile there was indistinct chatter all about as Crono and Frog gathered firewood, while Marle, Ayla, and Schala unpacked a boatload of snacks and drinks. Magus held Alfador and chose merely to watch from a distance, while Robo sat deeper in the woods at the campground, Lucca repairing and replacing several components that had either been worn or rusted out over the past 400 years.

         "Phew, tell you what Robo, you're lucky you turned back on at all."

         "Ha Ha, do not worry Lucca, my internal CPU is capable of lasting approximately 2000 years if properly housed. This was merely a dedicated project which has brought me what I can only identify as satisfaction, as well as perhaps a new-found appreciation for you and our many mutual friends."

          "I suppose that's the short way of looking at it..." Lucca shrugged.

          "...Lucca, my last recorded operation profile was written August 6th, 864. I believe this to be the day when I chose to take my slumber and await you."
 
          "You waited a long time to see us again, huh?" Lucca smiled

          "Indeed. When I concluded my work, I found myself anxious for one desire:, to be surrounded by all of you, to the point of great urgency - it is a sensation which I believe analogue to human crying."

           Lucca's eyes widened. "Oh my god!! Robo... why didn't you say something??"

           Robo replied in a happy tone. "There was no need! To be reunited with my friends again, after so long apart, was perhaps the happiest moment of my entire operation. I am surrounded by all of you again, and while I am greatful for this..."

          Robo's eyes narrowed.

          "My long tenure has also reacquainted with much...     ...darker emotions."   

          "I guess you've had a lot of time to think about Atropos, huh..." Lucca realized.

          "Yes, my thoughts have occasionally turned to those events..." Robo admitted, "But chiefly, I found myself frequently thinking of Fiona and Marco - or more specifically, how much things had changed without them at my side for the majority of my continued reclamation."

          "Oh, wow... yeah..." Lucca thought. "Were you there with them? When they...."

          "Yes," Robo affirmed. "As their mortalities began to be realized, I divided my attention between the land and their care. Marco was the first. It was painful to me that I could not restore Fiona's husband to life... I imagine if I had though, Fiona would feel very much as I did when you reactivated me."

          "Well," Lucca reminded him, "everyone has their time I suppose."

          "Oh yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I've had 400 years to come to terms with it, after all! Ha Ha Ha. Lucca, when you learned that Crono had been killed, how did you feel?"

          "I don't know..." Lucca shrugged. "I couldn't believe it, and I was kind of angry about... just how easily it happened... and how I wasn't there for it, you know? To stop it, or at least say goodbye... I mean I know it wasn't Magus's fault, but oooooohhhh...."

          "...but he offered a way to get him back", Robo added. "Did this appease you?"

          "For a little bit..." Lucca confessed. "It's not everyday you can actually bring back the dead... but when we got to the top of that mountain, Robo, there was a moment I think we all expected it wasn't going to work."

          Lucca had forgotten just how hard that moment hit her, especially when Crono really did return, until she found herself shedding tears again.

          "Apologies Lucca, I did not mean to cause you distress", Robo retracted. "Rather, I am very curious about how you handled this scenario because...     ...I found myself feeling much the same for him. Unable to accept it, pinning a logical error, taking the egg at face value...        ...I felt these same emotions when I was left alone to till San Dorino. Even though I knew that Fiona and Marco could no longer be with me, I found myself with a strong desire to bring them back for just one more day...     Lucca, is this illogical to wish for? Knowing that they lived their full lives and must rest? Or have I grasped the concept correctly?"

          In Lucca's light tears, she smiled and held the automaton tightly. "Don't worry Robo. I think you've grasped the idea perfectly."

          At that moment, Magus was carrying almost Schala's entire load of supplies up the hill toward them. He might even have carried her too, if given the thought.

          "Lucca, I have another question for you. This one regards our new friend, Magus."

          "I think friend is a strong term, Robo, but shoot."

          Robo continued. "Magus is the adult identity of Prince Janus, correct?"

          "Yeah," Lucca confirmed, "He is."

          "Logically, he too has spent a great deal of his life separated from her, and with zero promise he should ever expect to see her again" Robo continued. "Knowing how very emotionally bonded the two of them were, coupled with my own thoughts and feelings about seeing all of you again, I find myself confused - why does he not desire for her to learn who he really is?"

          "Well," Lucca shrugged, "I guess he'd be the real expert on it, but if I had to guess? For one, he probably does not want to be seen crying in front of anyone, and we might have already interrupted his efforts."

          "Was he not alone with her for some time already?" Robo inquired. "What error blocks Magus from speaking the truth? Does he fear something?"

          "Probably that too," Lucca admitted. "Imagine being reactivated, only to find that all of us decided to destroy the world and kill everyone in sight. How would you react?"

          "I would be sad," Robo replied, "but warmed that you determined to reactivate me all the same. To do such a thing, I do not believe you would be irredeemable."

          Lucca smiled widely. "Robo....          ...you're a good friend."

====================================

          Schala sighed, sitting on a log. She was no longer wearing her more signature attire, but rather some of Lucca's old clothes. She also looked quite different with her hair down, coming quite nearly to her feet. "There," she smiled. "That should be the last of it, right Alfador? Magus?"

          Both cat and man joined the princess, uneasy if for different reasons. Magus's big secret was no secret at all to the cat, who had been constantly meowing and trying to bring attention of Magus's true identity to his worried sister. As for Magus himself, he was ready - so long as everyone else would just stay out of it. This would be a delicate matter before and after, and he didn't want anyone else sticking their noses into it.

         "I think coming here was a good idea," Schala admitted with a smile. "Seeing what the world is like so far in the future, and being here int his peaceful... cathedral of the earth, so to speak... it puts my mind it ease, and helps me to forget about Janus."

         "Hmph...!!!" Magus's eyes widened. "Forget?"

         "Yes..." Schala nodded. "Janus is gone - I just can't accept it yet. I'll keep looking for excuses and possibilities, but... I know that I have to let go and move on, right?"

         "No..." Magus denied, firmly. He'd be damned if his sister just gave up before he had a chance to talk. "Don't... don't even say that. Janus is alive, I promise..."
 
         "You don't have to try and comfort me anymore, Magus", she smiled reassuringly, "It's okay.  I'll be better off this way."

         "No," he denied, "Listen to me very carefully. Schala, the way I knew the future, and my vengeance toward Lavos...    the truth of that is, Schala, it's because I'm actually your-"

         ...once again, Magus was interrupted.

         "BLUE HAIRS!!" Ayla shouted. "Lucca and Robo want all gather!! To big fire, talk! Maybe do big think! Come, come!"

          Magus groaned. "...nevermind, Schala. I'll tell you some time tomorrow...."

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2021, 10:14:47 pm »
Ch: 9 The Big Night

       
         Magus really didn't have much choice.

         Everyone else was gathering around the fire as the last red rays of sunset were disappearing, giving way to the purples and blues of night. Whether he cared to admit it or not, this group was growing on him, although he couldn't fathom why. Besides - Schala was joining the circle too. He and Alfador ought to join.

         "Hello, to all of you" Robo began. "As you know, 400 years ago, I began an endeavor to help Fiona see a great forest restored, where the fires of war had reduced it to sand and dust."

         Magus was slightly surprised that he wasn't mentioned in that.

         "Although you were easily able to pick me up just yesterday, I on the other hand have toiled and labored for centuries. I have asked for us to take this moment and participate in this event because for those many long years, I did not and could not see your faces again.  I have experienced an overwhelming sense of not just longing, but loneliness."

         "Loneliness..." Magus thought to himself. "From a machine? Even after so long..."

         "Thank you, all of you, for coming to participate in this event. Schala, as our esteemed guest, I would like to extend my thanks to you as well."

         Schala smiled and curtsied playfully.

         "There is something else I would like to discuss with all of you, but before I do, Ayla has asked to have words. Ayla?"

         Ayla stood up and smiled. "Ayla make strong friends. Before now, friends always run left and right, tomorrow and yesterday, make Ayla dizzy! Now, friends all together, one place, one time. Ayla think friends should talk! Say hello, big circle!! Bring closer together!"

         "Oh yeah..." Marle smiled. "I get it..."

         Ayla nodded. "Marle go first, or Crono? Lucca?"

         "Well...." Marle began, "Truthfully, I think my story is pretty much the same as Crono's, or Lucca's for that matter. Up North from here is a town festival going on, where we all met. Lucca built some sort of time pod..."

         "It was a telepod, and it wasn't supposed to send you back in time!"

         "Well it did, and we ended up having to fix a whole other mess. Without going into too many details, we realized we could travel through time! Unfortunately, that's also how we ended up in the year 2300..."

         Lucca took over.
 
         "Truthfully, I don't think any of us were willing to believe it *was* our future, despite all evidence otherwise. That's when we found out that in the year 1999, Lavos is to rise up through the crust and lay waste to the entire world."

         "Aye, 'tis the sooth of thy mysterious origins!" Frog laughed. "Bethinks, such bizarre circumstance doth confuse the lot of mine kingdom! But pardon my interruption, lass. Pray tell, may i assume thy voyages becameth much less accidental upon this discovery?"

          "We've had one hell of a journey..." Lucca explained. "Learning magic, meeting Robo, trying to prevent Lavos..."

          "Indeed," Magus spoke. "And no doubt now discovering how impossible that was."

          "I suppose I should be next, as their journey led to my reactivation", Robo began. "I came to in their company, to discover Lucca had given me new lease on life. In return, I sought to help them return home. Unlike many of you, who will never so much as live to see the Day of Lavos come to pass, my home time period is very much the aftermath. Everything around us right now - the trees...   the life...     even the clear sky and air do not exist in my world."

          Robo said those words in a low monotone. Clearly, this hit pretty hard for him.

          "If Lavos can be stopped, it must be stopped. I cannot return to a future where all of this has been for nothing, and my remaining family either seeks my destruction or lays destroyed at my feet."

          Lucca sympathetically held Robo. Magus, though he did not show it, was taken aback. "So..." He thought to himself, "This is why you insisted upon interfering..."

          "Aye, 'tis a great deal of duty, to find one's self capable of extraordinary things, and to declare responsibility over events which doth not intersect with thine own..." Frog admitted. "Had I thought otherwise, I would mayhaps not hath accompanied a dear friend of mine to Guardia Kingdom in the year 588. Thee wouldst' not think it of me, but I was quite different then...   a young man, without these strange features and abilities...    alas, my friend and I hadst met with terrible fates. A terrible, unchecked evil, doomed the both of us. However, whilst my friend was granted the luxury of eternal rest, I befell this bizarre appearance."

           Magus tried to ignore this part of the conversation.

           "That evil lays dead anon, aye, but not Lavos - which didst breathe the fire of life into it. I hath been equally humbled and mortified by the unending waltz of tragedy, hatred, and vengeance. Verily, this must stop." 

           Ayla listened. "Crono friends big talk, save future. Maybe more fight over world, later? Fighting is Ayla reason. All Ayla life, Ayla beat up reptites. Ayla no fight, Ayla die. Ayla not hate reptites, but Ayla want live! Azala know Lavos come, though... Azala know either reptite or human survive, but not both. That why Azala hurt and kill. Lavos no come, maybe Azala and Ayla friends. Ayla promise Azala, Ayla take good care of world. Ayla stop Lavos. Now, blue hairs go?"

          Magus stepped back a bit, letting Schala speak.

          "Well...    my name is Schala, house of Zeal...   a long time before now, I lived in a kingdom which sailed above the clouds... that is, until my mother discovered a lifeform beneath the earth, responsible for our powers. She... had something built to siphon this power, and...   ...I'm sorry, I can't discuss much more... this is all... too..."

          "It's okay," Marle comforted her, "It's alright Schala, you don't have to explain anymore. You did your best. Just tell us this: What do you plan to do now?"

          "I suppose it is my duty to attend to what survivors remain", Schala pondered out loud. "I was worried about Janus, as well, but..."

          Magus suddenly leaned back in some. "!?"

          "I believe it would be best if I let go of him, and moved on."
 
          "No..." Magus thought to himself. "No.. you can't. Not just as I'm about to..."

          "Now hold on a second, there..." Lucca interrupted, not failing to notice the upset on Magus's face. "It hasn't been *that* long, right? Janus is probably just having to... figure things out on his own right now, but I'm sure you'll see your little brother again, very soon..."

          Magus did not fail to notice Lucca's sly smile in his direction. For once he somewhat appreciated it.

          "...which finally brings us to you, Magus," she then commented.

          Magus's expression fully soured.

          "Yes," Schala smiled, "I must say, I'm quite curious about you as well."
 
          Everyone leaned in with smiles, as if expecting Magus to finally divulge the truth to his sister here and now. Magus, though clearly uncomfortable, slowly began to speak.

         "Very well..." he started, "My name is Magus. I am a powerful dark sorcerer with ambitions neither lofty nor complicated. Quite simply, I am here because I have one solitary desire: revenge."

         "Yeah, yeah..." Marle prodded, "but go on. Tell us why!"

         "A long time ago, in a faraway kingdom" he continued, "I was victim to a terrible disaster caused by Lavos. Torn from everything I held dear, I vowed I would one day make Lavos pay at any cost - to myself...   *or others, if need be...*"

        An uncomfortable silence fell over the group at this last part.

        "Is that it?" Lucca coaxed. "Are you sure there isn't...   ...anything else you want to say?"

        Magus narrowed his eyes. "Like what, exactly?"

        Lucca gestured very obviously to Schala. "Something... else about you? That you would like for, say, Schala, to know about?"

        This all had Schala's attention, for sure. "What is it?"

        Magus, seeing her curiousity, silently cursed himself. He had wanted to do this in private. "Very well..." he groaned. "Yes, Schala. There is indeed something else you need to know about me. Something very important, particularly if you are to learn anything else."

        Everyone held their breath. Finally, brother and sister would be joined again. After what seemed like an eternity, words finally escaped Magus's lips.

        "The Frog tells lies."

        Frog and Schala both raised eyebrows. "Huh?"

        "Indeed," Magus continued, "he would speak flowery of what happened, but he avoids the cold and honest truth. He did not slay the evil force which murdered his friend, and cursed him with this appearance."

        "What do you mean," she asked?

        "Janus...." Frog whispered almost silently. "Don't..."

         "Simple," Magus spoke. "I *am* the evil force which did these things."

         "J-Magus-" Frog shot up, "I art trying to help thee"

         "AND I DIDN'T ASK FOR YOUR HELP," Magus shouted. "I DIDN'T ASK FOR FRIENDSHIP, OR KINDNESS, OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT!! I know exactly what I am to you, and what I deserve to be."
 
         "What are you?" Schala asked.

         "A very selfish sorcerer, shamelessly concerned about his own interests above anyone else's." Magus explained. Everything which has happened to Glenn and his friend was because they got in my way. The only reason I am even here is because, regrettably, I need these people in order to get the revenge I seek. I don't care about your future, or honor, or what some lizard in a cape said. I just want catharsis, and I'm not afraid to murder a few people to get it."

        Schala shook her head. "Surely you don't mean that..."

        Magus pointed a finger in her face, barely containing his volume. "Don't test me, princess."

        ...and with that, he stormed off into the woods. Alfador slept through the whole thing,  staying in Schala's lap.

        "Goodness, that got ugly..."

        "Ugh, nevermind him," Lucca dismissed. "Robo, what was the other thing you wanted to talk about?"

        "Yes..." Robo began. "After 400 long years of solitude, I have had a lot of time to think to myself, and I have come to a perhaps startling conclusion - Lavos may not be responsible for the gates."

        "What do you mean?" Marle asked.

        "I have come to think that someone, or something wanted us to see these events unfold", he explained. "It is as if some entity was wanting to relive its past..."

        Ayla sat there thinking about it, before opening her eyes wide in realization. "Ayla... know! Yes!! In Ayla village, elders say when people die, see... whole life! Flash by."

        "Ah..." Frog nodded in understanding. "Yes I hath heard much the same, lass...   except, that typically, such memories are often sad ones, full of regret..."

        "Yes," Robo added. "Thoughts of what one should or should not have done seem to trigger these unpleasant memories."

        Crono shrugged, having apparently not experienced this at all last time. 
 
        "eerie," Marle shivered. "Lucca, you think the same thing will happen to us?"

        "Don't know," Lucca replied. "No way of knowing until it happens."

        "Hmm..." Marle sighed. "I guess mine will involve daddy a lot... I wish it didn't always come to arguments between us..."
 
        Schala stared into the fire, Zeal still fresh on her mind.

        "What about you, Lucca..." Marle asked. "Is there a time you wish you coul-"

        "NO!" Lucca suddenly stopped her. "I mean uh...   n-no... of course not..."

        "I'm sorry..." Marle apologized. "Something I shouldn't have brought up?"

        "I-it's ok..." Lucca shook her head. "It's just something that happened a long time ago... something I don't like thinking about..."

        "Mayhaps..." Frog contributed, "Lavos and this entity are of intertwined fate?"

         "And yet..." Schala finally spoke, "we know not who this entity is. Zurvan, keeper of the sea of dreams, perhaps?"

         "It is unknown..." Robo admitted. "yet, anyways. Perhaps when our quest is at an end, we will have our answer. Well then...

         ...shall we turn in for the night?"

         
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 10:38:22 pm by Prince Janus »

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2021, 10:53:10 pm »
Ch 10: Schala, I'm Janus


       Lucca's sleep that night was plagued with bad dreams. Dreams of memories she would greatly have wished to forget.

       She hadn't dreamt of this moment in a long time, but the setup was nearly identical to last: she was a little girl, standing there with her mom, watching disaster unfold. It was useless to try and stop the machine, because the control panel was a garbled mess of buttons and switches, and Lucca for the life of her could never figure out how they worked.

        "Why can't I figure this out??" Lucca screamed, though nobody could hear her. "Why can't I save her???"

        Suddenly, Robo appeared alongside her, pulling a lever on the controls and, somehow, stopping all of time around them with it. "Lucca," Robo began, "You are in a dream. It is only natural for you to be intimidated by these controls - they represent an element that thwarted you, once...something you vowed you would one day overcome and defeat. However, when you look back on this day, you will only ever see your shortcomings. For that reason, you can never comprehend these controls."

         "Then what do I do?" Lucca asked, practically in tears. "How do I turn it off?"

         "It doesn't matter," Robo told her. "When you wake up, none of what you do here will have happened. I will not even remember talking to you about this - after all, I am only a figment of your own mind."

---------------------------------------

          "THEN WHY DO I HAVE TO..."

          Lucca looked around. She was in the woods again. Robo was in low-power mode next to her, and her companions (sans Magus) were all fast asleep.

          "...dream about it."

          ...Lucca stood there thinking. Did Robo know about... yes, Lucca had mentioned it once. She pondered whether or not to wake him and tell him about the dream, but decided to let him rest. She was overcome with an odd feeling, as if she were still dreaming, but lucidly.

          "An entity.." she thought to herself. "Why show your regrets to us? Why, if you can open time portals. Are we to the ones to fix them for you? Is that what you want?"
 
           As if to answer her, Lucca suddenly heard a gate open in the distance. Quietly stepping over her friends, she tiptoed toward a swirling crimson portal, immediately realizing that this timegate was something special, something just for her... and she had a good idea just what it was.

           No sooner had the red gate closed behind Lucca, then Robo had suddenly reactivated. He seemed to have realized something had happened, and walked over towards where the gate was last detected, patiently waiting there until finally, Lucca had returned.

           "Lucca..." Robo replied. "What happened? Were you... successful?"
 
            Lucca had clearly been crying, but she was smiling widely. "I...     yes... Robo, I did it... I saved her...       did you know about this??"

            "I knew only of my own desires", Robo confessed. "I desired to see you again - that much was a wish I could reasonably expect granted. However, besides this, the only thing I want more than anything else is your own happiness. Quietly, I wished that you would be able to do this, and to change this history - I did not honestly expect our mysterious entity to answer."

           Lucca sniffled. "T-thanks, Robo... you're a good friend."

           "Lucca..." Robo spoke, opening his chassis. "There is something I would like you to have. This item is the byproduct of my trying to revive Fiona and Marco, if just for one day. Although it cannot grant this request, It may prove to work in some other way..."

           As Robo presented Lucca with the green dream item, a pair of red eyes was silently watching them from the bushes.

=====================================

         "Oh..." Magus whispered to himself, watching Lucca and Robo converse. "It's those two. Why are they still awake? What could possibly be so important that they have to talk about it at one in the morning?"

         Something somebody said led to Lucca crying again, holding Robo tightly.

         "Is this what friendship is?" Magus scoffed. "sharing your weaknesses and seeking unity? Farce! If I had ever attempted anything of the sort with Ozzie and the others, they would have..."

         Suddenly, Magus heard a noise behind him.

         "Seems we are not alone, tonight..."

         Quietly making his way through the darkness between the thick oaks, Magus soon came into a large, wooded clearing. It was a long, secluded area surrounded by thick, immeasurably tall redwood all around, and a high canopy which reduced the light of the moon to but a single beam, focused on a lonely fallen stump in the center...

         ...where sat Schala.

         "Oh..." she spoke, startled. "I am terribly sorry Magus... did I disturb you?"

         Magus was almost surprised by the question, but quickly shook it from his head. "What? N-no... not at all. It seems, rather, that neither of us can get any sleep tonight."

         "Indeed," spoke Schala, alone under the natural spotlight. "I keep thinking about what you said back there, at the bonfire. I didn't intend to upset or-"

         "Don't," Magus dismissed. "You didn't do anything wrong, Schala, I just... don't like them teasing me about those things."

         "And?" She asked. "Are they true? Did you really do them?"

         "Like I said..." Magus tried to dissuade her horror, "I'm a very petty, selfish man."

         "No you aren't," Schala protested. "I'm of no use to you, and yet not only did you save my life, but you've shown me much kindness and compassion since."

         Touche'. Magus didn't have a comeback for that.

         "Perhaps it is better," she continued, "to say that we are constantly changing. A man such as yourself who suddenly finds himself saving me is perhaps no different from the kindest, most wellmeaning princess who still manages to allow the ultimate mass slaughter."

         Magus shook his head. "Schala, you are not responsible for that... if anything, even I am more responsible for it than you."

         She only shook her head though. "Was this the reason why I had to know what kind of a person you claim to be?"

         "No..." he replied. "Schala, I-"

         "Don't try to dissuade me with your tales of evil and cruelty, Magus," Schala continued. "By simply obeying my mother, I have killed far more people than you."
 
         "Why do you still believe that??" Magus insisted, with irritation. "Why do you have to be the one responsible for mass murder?"

         "Because," she explained, "I was the only one with power to rival her. With but the words 'no, Mother', I could have stopped all of this. She would be angry, yes, and perhaps try to punish me, but I could still defeat her, put her down if need be...    ...and yet I loved her too much."

          Magus shook his head in lament, as she went on.

         "If Janus were here, he'd agree with me."

         "Janus!?" Magus replied, almost knee-jerk. "Are you meaning to tell me that all of this guilt and self-abuse was born from the pedantic ramblings of some dead child?"

         Schala looked straight at him, obviously offended. "W-what? Don't say things like that!! Janus wa-is..."

         "Don't act like I'm some common fool," Magus continued. "I know full well what kind of secrets Janus was hiding..."

         "Then you know," Schala argued, "why it was so important to keep them hidden! If mother knew there was someone with untapped potential even greater than my own, she most assuredly would have put him in my place! Was that the correct choice? To let Janus suffer my mother's wrath as he powered the Mammon Machine?"
 
         "You cared about him, clearly..." Magus remarked. "sought to shield him, even... but ask yourself this: Did Janus ever actually care about you? When your mother would get angry and hit you, did he ever once defend you? When you practically drained yourself in great agony before that machine, did he just sit on his bed at the palace and complain about things?"
 
         "He had to..." Schala argued. "Can you imagine such an embittered, cynical *child* fully embracing that kind of power? Suppose he did overtake Mother, threw that machine in her face even... then what? Zeal would be subject to an unchecked calamity. Magus, I couldn't bring myself to stop Mother. How could I ever possibly stop Janus?"

         "...I see," Magus replied, quietly. "So, you hoped to protect Janus not just from your mother, but from himself as well...     ...kingdom be damned."

         "..."

         Magus turned away, as if in disgust.

         "...what a waste."

         "HOW DARE YOU!" Schala shouted, before remembering her sleeping companions not far away. "You know nothing of me or my reasons for trying to help my brother! I was trying to save him from the darkness that gnawed at him every single day! Where do you get off, calling my brother a waste?? What gives you the right??"

         To this, Magus said nothing at all. He simply unhooked something from his hip and gently dropped it in Schala's lap before turning away. Schala was of course confused at first, until she held the small, silver crescent up close, clearly recognizing it.
 
         "What? This amulet, I..."

         ...slowly and silently, Schala was putting two and two together, her head gradually turning toward Magus, who replied only by looking over his shoulder at her, in a poignant mix of both sadness and anger.

         "Oh my god..."  she whispered.

         "it's you..."   

         Magus's eyes narrowed more, tears originating in some personal fury.

         "Like I said..." Magus glared, tears streaming down his eyes as his hands turned to fists.

         "It was a waste."

         "Janus..."   Schala whispered, gently reaching out to him with sweet sympathy, only for her brother to deny her and turn away.

         "Just leave me alone..."

         ...and without a word more, Schala respectfully let him be, returning to the camp as the moonlight faded around Magus, leaving him alone in the dark.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 11:09:14 pm by Prince Janus »

Prince Janus

  • Black Wind Agent (+600)
  • *
  • Posts: 696
  • What?? what do you want?
    • View Profile
Re: Friendlord - an AU-based exploration of a guilty psyche
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2021, 02:23:48 pm »
Ch 11: And That's OK

 
         Afternoon had arrived on the following day, and Magus had completely disappeared.

         "Ugh..." Marle shook her head. "Don't tell me he got cold feet..."

         "Who?" Schala asked.

         "Oh, Magus. He... wanted to talk to you alone about something, but now I have no idea where he went..."

         "Oh..." Schala nodded, already knowing. "Yes... of course. Marle, what is your opinion of him?"
 
         "Of Magus? Well... I'll be honest - I know he's done some shit, but I can't help feeling sorry for the guy. I'm not saying that makes it ok, but I'd be down for opening up to him - if he'd just take the damn offer. He doesn't want that, though - Dude's got a one-track mind, you know what I mean?"

         Schala sighed in agreement and amused disappointment. "All too well."

        "You know what..." Marle continued. "Screw it - worry about him later. Right now though? Let's you and I have some straight talk."

        "Oh?" Schala replied. "I'm feeling a lot better now..."

        "No no, not about that!" Marle shook her head, before showing off her pendant. "You and I are 'pendies'! It's crazy to me, that this thing survived for thousands of years and ended up in my hands!"

        "Maybe this was more than a coincidence," Schala suggested. "After all, if yours was a royal heirloom, well..."

        "Yeah... that's the other thing," Marle explained. "You. When I first saw you, you had it all down so neat and tidy... Princessing I mean. How do you do it? Come on, that kind of pain cannot come natural."

        Schala giggled. "My life was not always so rigid as it may appear...   between you and me, I used to sneak out from time to time, as well. Janus used to come with me, on my midnight escapades. We did a lot of bonding then, he and I."

        Marle sighed and frowned. "Hey, Schala, don't worry about Janus. I promise you'll..."

        Schala only smiled. "Don't worry, Marle. I know I will."

        Schala might not have recognized him right away, but she knew Janus better than anyone in the world. He needed his solitude after last night, and now it was time for her to find him - Her, and nobody else. She didn't want to possibly attract spying eyes from the group, so she kept quiet about what she learned.

        "Magus has been gone for quite a long time," she commented. "I think I should go look for him - After all, I believe we are returning to the same era."

        "Alone?" Marle asked. "Are you sure you don't want any company?"

        "I'm sure," Schala smiled. "I too enjoy a bit of solitude from time to time. Especially in a sanctuary of trees such as this."

        Marle shrugged, and before long Schala was traipsing the narrow paths and hills of a grand catacomb of leaves and wood. Gentle hills crossing up and down, log bridges over gentle rivers, and the distant ambiance of birds echoing through the great forest all around her. Janus would have been a trifle difficult to find in here, but as Schala continued onward, she was greeted with a playful, familiar "Meow" from the treebranch ahead.

        "Oh," Schala smiled. "Hello, Alfador."

        Alfador replied by nuzzling her ankle and meowing.

        "Have you come to lead me to Janus?"

        Alfador meowed loudly, obviously wanting to be followed. Thus, for about an hour longer, Schala continued passing between bushes, over streams, and along cliffsides before finally coming to a clearing, leading to a wide sunny meadow with a single massive oak at the center, and a figure leaned against it.

------------------------------------------

        Magus kept his head down, thinking to himself about the events to come.

        "Well, now you know... as if I hadn't caused you enough grief over all this, now you know that everything you had hoped for me was a lie - everything you suffered and sacrificed was for naught. In retrospect, I suppose it is fitting that I too suffered for nothing, in exchange."

        "I've never been good to you..." he convinced himself. "Maybe now you'll see that."

        ...No sooner did he think this to himself than he heard footsteps, and turned to see Schala approach.

        "Or not..." he thought last.

        Schala smiled warmly. "I hope I'm not disturbing you, Janus."

        Magus looked at her with surprise. After all that last night, and she's almost jovial?

        "You..." Magus began, picking up Alfador, "are rather persistent. You aren't, perhaps, somehow convinced you were still right are you?"

        "I know I am," Schala replied, standing alongside him. "But let's... 'have some straight talk', as Marle would put it..."

        Magus nervously looked around. "She didn't come with you, did she?"

        Schala laughed. "No...    I haven't even told anyone yet about... this..." she said, handing him back his amulet from last night, before going into things.

        "Janus," she started, "you were born with an incredible gift. There comes a time in every Enlightened One's life when they began to realize the fruits of this gift."
        As she spoke, she began to hover a hand over her brother's back, but stopped.

        "...Janus, may I touch you? I know how you are at times."
   
        Magus shook his head and spoke very quietly. "I appreciate that, but please don't. At least... not yet."

        "Very well," she replied calmly. "To carry on, every Enlightened may determine for themselves what it is they want to do with that power...     ...and I had hoped that, free of the Mammon Machine, or of all this drama, the world would have allowed you to find something peaceful."

        Magus closed his eyes. "I didn't..."
 
        "But in doing so, Janus I failed you as well."

        Magus opened his eyes in surprise. They were a tad wet. "What do you mean?"

        "I mean..." she explained, "that when you told me you didn't want anyone to know about this...   ...I was too willing to help suppress it. In reality, I should have been helping you come to terms with it, learn to use it, maybe even find something good you can do with it."

        Magus sat down against the tree, covering his face and shaking his head. "Stop..."

        "Knowing how you were, though... your frustrations, your fears... I don't think I ever could have prevented this... 'Magus', as you call yourself."

        Magus looked up, his eyes a bit redder than usual. "huh?"

        "After all, as I've been trying to come to terms with, before learning just how near you really were", she laughed, "What you do is your responsibility, not mine, Janus. It's up to you to figure out what you need to do, and to weigh the consequences for yourself."

        "..."

        "However," she continued, "I have seen that the others, regardless of how much you push, desire your camaraderie. They're not looking at 'Magus'. They're looking at 'you', and 'you' are still very much..  ....Janus."

         Magus said nothing, but was shaking slightly.

        "Honestly," she continued, "I'm not surprised you ended up lashing out eventually. You ran loose, let your power go, and had your fun. In the end though? you clearly still have a heart, and that is perhaps much more than I could have ever expected from our Mother at this point."
 
         "You.." he barely replied, "you believe that so?"

         Schala nodded, with a validating smile. "I do."
       
         For several moments, Magus said nothing, highly unstable after having some rather sensitive topics and fears forced to the surface. After about ten seconds though, he did finally speak.

        "Schala," he asked, very quietly. "You...  you are... certain? We... we are alone?"

         She nodded. "Absolutely so."

         Magus gestured for her to lean in and listen closely, as he couldn't easily speak with much volume at the moment.

         "Please..." he whispered, in stutters. "Hold me..."

==================================

         Lucca looked up into the sky, hearing a very faint sound echoing through the woods.

         "The hell kind of bird is that?"

         "Bird?" Ayla shrugged. "Ayla think sound like Kilwala scream."

==================================

         Schala stayed in solitude with Janus for the remainder of the day. As the sun began to set, Schala's thoughts turned towards the long trek she made to get here.

         "Oh no...", she spoke. "We'll never make it back before nightfall! It's a long path through dense wood..."

         "Don't worry about it," Magus reassured her. "I'm at home in the darkness, now. We'll navigate just fine."

         "Well," she continued, "Should we get going?"

         Magus shook his head. "Not yet..." he spoke. As the skies turned dark, he looked up into the sky at the glowing lights of the Black Omen. "Look at it...", he spoke, pointing.

        "Still up there," she replied, "even after thousands and thousands of years. Do you think she's still in there? Looking down at us?"

        "She must be," Magus mused. "This much wasn't supposed to happen. She didn't get this far in the version of events I remember. This facet of events is completely new, and I think perhaps Lavos is scared now."

        Schala shook her head in amazement. "I never thought I'd hear of anyone actually trying to kill Lavos, especially not after having attempted once before."

        "Maybe that's the problem," Magus replied. "Maybe what I'm supposed to be doing with this 'gift' as you call it, is uniting with them... the others... suppose they will accept me?"

        Schala smiled, gently stroking her brother's back. "They already have."

============================================================

        The next morning, Marle awoke, somewhat blearily, and around the same time as Lucca. Everyone else was either still asleep or only just beginning to stir.

        After a few moments, Marle realized she was supposed to be worried - Schala hadn't returned yesterday, after searching for Janus. Did she ever... !!

        "Oh..." Marle laughed in relief, spotting Magus's silvery blue hair on the other side of a fallen log. "Well there you are, I guess... did you come back with..."

        Marle stopped in her tracks when she fully saw. Gasping, she ran to Lucca with the sound of desperation and, perhaps, excitement in her voice.

        "Come on!!! You have got to see this!!!"
 
        "Alright, alright!! Geez..."

        Marle dragged Lucca by the arm toward the log. Once they got around to the other side, Lucca's eyes went wide and she covered her mouth.

        "OH!!" she gasped. "...oh my god...     ...that is adorable..."

        Magus was fast asleep, with his cape around him. Wrapped up in it, in his arms, was Schala, just as deeply resting. They both looked as if it was the first peaceful sleep they had in ages.

        "I...   guess we can call him 'Janus', now."
« Last Edit: June 13, 2021, 02:48:46 pm by Prince Janus »