For the Love of Darkness
Chapter 12: At The Beginning
By Marle

Dear lord, when I get to heaven
Please let me bring my man
When he comes tell me that you'll let him in
Father tell me if you can
Oh that grace, oh that body
Oh that face makes me wanna party
He's my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds

Will you still love me
When I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will

-"Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey

"I am fine," Schala insisted, as the physician shined a crystal into her eyes, "I was merely exhausted. It's been difficult now that the Mammon Machine is in need of more power."

The elderly doctor stroked his beard as he furrowed his brow, "Are you certain, your majesty? We were all highly alarmed at your outburst. It is possible I may have to recommend you to bed rest for the next several days."

Schala smiled kindly at the old man and nodded slowly in agreement, "Indeed. I could use some time to recover. The last time I prayed… I just—"

Remaining vague and trying to revert to her meek and docile behavior that she was back in Zeal was proving difficult for her. However, she didn't know when she was. As soon as Janus was in her arms, she had all but fallen into a fit of hysterics. It took everything in her to not begin to ask questions that would have made everyone question if she was insane. Her first reaction was to call for Janus, which when she did the small boy nearly threw himself on her, locking his arms around her and panicked. He was truly fearful of his sister's wellbeing. While she desired to be comforted by her lover, she had clung to her brother and sobbed in his shoulder, choosing to ramble about the Mammon Machine and nightmares. Currently, Janus sat beside her with Alfador curled up next to him. As he watched her intently, he gently grasped her hand as the doctor went over her every vital sign.

"Very well then," The doctor said, placing his crystal back into his handbag, "I will inform the Queen at once that you will be out of commission for a few days more."

Schala nodded in agreement, though not for the sake of being spared her mother and the Mammon Machine. She had to figure out what had happened. The last thing she remembered was Janus and her sparring and he picked her up to take her into the castle. "I suggest you tell my mother that the additional days of rest will be beneficial to the overall advancement of our kingdom. After all, should I be sent back too soon… I do fear I'd not be able to give my all to the cause."

The doctor nodded, adjusting his glasses, "Quite… with immortality so close in our reach, we cannot afford to strain you." As he packed up his bag, he glanced her over one more time, "I will tell the queen to give you at least a week."

Schala smiled meekly, "Yes… thank you."

With that, the doctor picked up his bag and left the room. Janus walked after him and closed the door after him. Letting out a long sigh, he looked back at her with a concerned stare, "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yes Janus," she said, opening her arms, "Come here."

Janus walked over to her, climbed up onto the bed next to her, and then leaned on her shoulder,

"You scared me."

"I'm so sorry Janus," she said, lightly kissing his forehead, "I don't know what came over me."

His expression became mildly agitated, "That woman keeps pushing you! You need to stop! You'll get hurt if you keep pushing yourself so hard."

Taking in a deep breath, Schala forced a smile and nodded, "Please don't worry about me, love."

Janus's eyes kept searching her features, his face showing stress and worry for her. Patting his head gently, she rose from the bed, offering her hand to him, "Come and let us go for a walk!"


Janus pulled another book off the shelf, pretending to be interested as he kept peering over at his sister with a perplexed stare. Schala had been pouring over the text in the Library in Kajar at a hastened rate. She went from reading a few pages of the books she picked up to flipping through then either placing them back on the shelf or placing them on the floor beside her. Janus couldn't recall the last time Schala had spent so much time in the library like this. She'd occasionally come and grab a book for her studies or to read for pleasure, but it was obvious to the young prince that his sister was looking for something in particular. "Schala…?"

Her attention did not waver from the bookshelf, "Yes, Janus?"

"Are you looking for a particular book?" Janus asked warily, "I'm here more than you… maybe I can help?"

Schala stopped and glanced over at Janus, "Um…"

Janus huffed and slammed the book he held shut, placing it back on the shelf before moving to stand next to his sister. He crossed his arms across his chest, "Come on, what book are you looking for?"

"Is there one on the theories of out of body experiences? Maybe mind-melding? Time-Space continuum theories of a person over multiple time streams? I don't know-"

Surprised, Janus raised an eyebrow and wrinkled his nose, "Schala, are you serious?"

Schala's mouth hung open for a moment as she raced to find the right words to explain herself. But Janus rolled his eyes and stepped back from the shelf, scanning the books with the expertise of a librarian. Letting out a rough breath, he walked over to a nearby stool, grabbed it and began moving around. He walked the long row of bookshelves, occasionally pausing and then muttering to himself. After several pauses and climbs to higher shelves, Janus returned with five books and held them out to her, "Here."

Schala's eyes widened, "Are you sure?"

Janus nodded slowly, "Yes, Schala. I could copy almost every book in this library by memory." His head crooked to one side, "But why the sudden interest in such things?"

Taking the books, Schala flipped through the first few pages of the one on top, she decided to turn the question back on him "Why would you?"

A jerk rocked Janus's frame and the young prince lowered his head, "I-I can't use magic like you… I need to know everything I can so I can protect you in any way possible…"

"Janus…"

Janus reached over and grabbed Schala's hand that clutched the books he gave her, "Whatever you learn, know it'll get us out of here someday! We'll be free of this place! We can leave! We won't be found. Somehow, I'll find a way to hide us. That way—that way mother cannot hurt you anymore! You'll never have to pray another prayer for that damned Mammon Machine ever again and Lavos won't consume our kingdom – or at the very least you and I!"

Her face fell as she looked down at the desperation in his eyes. Schala saw him so differently now, instead of writing him off as a paranoid and overly concerned child, she looked at him with the respect of his wisdom and intuition to see and feel the things no one in Zeal dared to. Everyone wanted the eternity of glory and life in Zeal that they had turned a blatant and ignorant eye to the real danger that came from relying on Lavos; as much as it pained her to admit, she was naïve in the past as well. The reality of it was that of all the citizens in Zeal only the Gurus and the crowned Prince ever saw the truth. The Gurus… Melchior -

"Janus, where is the Gurus?" Schala asked. Janus blinked in surprise, "Wow, you truly must be tired, sis… Belthasar is working on the Blackbird, Gaspar has been confined to the Sun Palace, and Melchior has been banished to the Mountain of Woe. Do you not remember?"

There was a hint of when she was. The Blackbird was near completion, Gaspar was in solitude, and Melchior was imprisoned. It wasn't much, but it was a start. A nervous laugh escaped her, "Y-yes… and I imagine those terrorists were banished?"

"Yes," he replied slowly, "The Prophet made you send them away last week… he told mother that they'd escape shortly before… Apparently a malfunction in the cell was what he had foretold… but you and I both know –"

"Prophet lied," she said flatly. But he's also here… she commented to herself.

"I dare think he did to spare you… He needs you for greater purposes…" Janus muttered angrily. Schala knelt down so she was at Janus's eye-level, placing the books he had handed her on the ground, and took Janus close to her, hugging him tight, "S-Schala-?"

Schala took a moment to enjoy the embrace of her younger brother. She had not held him like this in so long that she almost forgot what it was like, "Janus… I promise if things take a turn for the worst then we'll run away."

His eyes lit up with hope as he seemed to struggle to suppress a grin, "Oh, do you mean it, big sister?!"

Schala nodded, giving him another quick squeeze before she released him, lightly grasping his shoulders, "Yes dear… You, me, and Alfador will go far away from here."

Picking up the books, Schala stood and began to leave the library, "You mean Algetty?!"

She stopped in her steps then looked behind at him again, a soft smile playing her lips, "Much farther than that, my dearest."

"Schala…"

Schala turned and walked out of the library into the laboratory where she immediately halted as she peered down the stairwell to one of the research tables. He was there, sitting with several books open and working on some potion or other. No one dared to bother him, the adult Janus – The Prophet, as he had an air around him in this era that she had forgotten – his aura was both ethereal and dark. Schala moved down the stairs and past him, her eyes betrayed her as she surveyed him walking by. An unwelcome presence swept over her causing her attention to dart forward. In her way was Dalton, the notorious general from the past that was now reigning terror on the future. Unable to hide her emotions, Schala immediately pivoted and pretended to be captivated by some documents on the table.

"Good afternoon, all." Dalton bellowed, sauntering in. The researchers and guests all became hushed and particularly engrossed in what they were doing. Schala noticed out of her peripheral vision that Prophet had not moved, though Janus now stood at her side, grasping at her robes. Dalton's gaze swept the room then locked on her. As he began to meander towards her, she refused to move, though she felt her breathing increase and her chest tighten. Stay calm; she told herself, you can do this. He was behind her now, the heat of his body uncomfortably close to hers. Unlike before, Schala was more heightened in her awareness now, she could feel Prophet's eyes shift to watch her and Dalton. Knowing that if Dalton got too close that he'd find a way to step in made her ease slightly; however she needed the brute gone if she was to get the information she needed and research in peace. To her dismay, Schala felt her hair move from her back and a slight tension on her scalp. She had suppressed how he would torment her, never quite laying a hand on her but smelling her hair or towering over her, menacing and frightening. It made her stomach turn, as no longer was she afraid but filled with resentment and disgust. She began to search the table when she noticed a letter opener not too far from her grasp.

"Sweet princess, I heard you were in need of rest… and yet I find you here, frolicking with your younger brother. If I tell your mother, I'm sure she will be displeased." He cooed, bringing the strands of hair to his nose and inhaling.

"I thought a stroll would clear my mind and allow my body to stretch. Sleeping for days does not necessarily mean rest, milord." She replied, her voice remaining soft and meek. Despite her tone and forced expression, she could feel the aura down the table beginning to grow. Turning her head slightly, she looked directly at Prophet, whose eyes were covered by the darkness of his hood. She didn't need to see them in order to feel the rage emanating from his gaze. This is a game of humiliation, Janus… her heart whispered, and I will not allow him this time. As her attention moved over the room, she noticed everyone was staring now. Some were observing in fear, others were observing in anger; however all showed the helplessness they felt behind their eyes. Is this how the people of Porre looked at you, Dalton?

"Get away from Schala!" Janus barked. Dalton's attention shot to Janus, a smirk curling on his lips, "Ha! Ha! The prince is ordering me?"

"It's alright Janus…" Schala began, her hand moving ever so slowly towards the opener, "General Dalton, you will maintain your distance."

Taking her hair and lazily coiling it around his fingertips, a low and sinister chuckle came from Dalton, "Come now, you didn't say please, Princess Schala."

Snatching the small knife, Schala whirled on her heels, her hair tugging as some strands were pulled from her scalp; she stood with the letter opener up under his chin, pushing the point into his neck so that he stepped back, "Please…"

A wave of surprise and shock filled the room, while Dalton himself was caught off guard. He groaned a little as she stepped forward, forcing him to step back, "I could have you punished for this."

Unable to hide her pleasure at his discomfort and embarrassment, Schala grinned in reply, "I need my rest, Sir Dalton… The doctor has decreed me rest for at least the week."

He scoffed and growled lightly, however Dalton backed away slowly, "You'll regret this."

"I don't see at this point how I could possibly…" Schala sneered, "No leave my sight."

Bowing slightly, Dalton flipped his cape and left down the corridor. As soon as he was from sight, the observers began to applaud. Schala's hand began to shake and she dropped the blade as her knees weakened, then she fell to the floor. The adrenaline rush was hitting her and she couldn't help but feel pleased – she had stood up to Dalton. Janus was at her side almost immediately, "Schala, are you alright?! That was amazing!" the boy exclaimed, gleefully.

She was relieved that her brother was not alarmed by her change of demeanor, but rather encouraging of it made Schala feel a little more at ease with showing her true nature. No longer was she weak and feeble, nor would she cower or back down without a fight. However, her body was weak and she needed to be mindful of her limits. At this point, she had her duties she'd only be able to neglect for so long.

"Are you alright, your majesty?" his voice rumbled behind her. Schala felt her breath cut short and the hairs on her body begin to stand on end. Unable to control the thudding pulse in her heart, Schala's eyes trailed up to see Prophet standing above her, his hand extended down. Breathless, she took it as he pulled her to her feet – she stood there for a minute, her hand in his as she peered into the darkness under his cloak.

She had forgotten how dark he was in this time, withdrawn and cut off. All traces of fondness and affection were buried from plan view, but she couldn't help but notice he didn't drop her hand immediately. It was in that moment that Schala was reminded that he was focused during this time. Magus's attention was not necessarily on her, but on getting to Lavos and destroying the parasite. Somehow, she was back in this era and perhaps it was a sign she was to assist him. While all hope of saving Zeal was from her mind, she could at least preserve Janus and herself. It only weighed on her for a moment that she would lose her lover, but she could not let her own selfishness cost Janus his innocence if it was possible.

A few moments passed by before he lightly dropped her hand and continued on past them.

"Schala?" Janus's small voice brought her back. Schala smiled cheerfully, "Please do not worry. I am fine."


Later that night, she crept down the hallway, past the Royal Suites. Schala pulled the hood of her cloak farther over her head, concealing her face as she walked along the quiet hallway. She had to find Prophet… She had to find Janus and speak with him. Her stomach plunged and she felt her chest tighten with anxiety as a light sweat began to form on her brow. Fumbling a little, she lightly knocked on the door. She waited there in a stillness where the silence somehow was deafening to her. It seemed to be an eternity before she heard the door unlock and creek open. Before she could bring herself to look up, she heard Magus's voice. His dark voice... how it managed to make her very core shake.

"I didn't send for a woman tonight."

She felt her mouth go dry. Schala recalled hearing rumors of women begin seduced by the Prophet, but she never much paid them mind. However, this time it bothered her slightly. Her mind began to echo on gossipy servants, who would appear flustered in the morning or follow him off to disappear in the dark corners of the palace, outside in the gardens, or under the castle stairs
.

"No matter," He said brusquely, "I can use you. Come in, pet…"

Her mind began to reel, how many could it have been? Had he been driven mad by desire for her so he took it out on other women? Somehow it didn't seem like an opportune moment to throw back her hood and surprise him. He had mistaken her for a servant girl, or worst. Her face still concealed by her hood, Schala entered in and closed the door behind her. She locked it and moved towards him, her head remaining lowered. There was a soft, humorless laugh that didn't sound at all like her Janus, "Anxious this evening?"

He left her then, striding to the window to close the heavy velvet curtains against the moonlit sky of Zeal. A single lamp strained to illuminate the dimness of the room. Schala glanced at him quickly. She knew it was Janus, but she was caught off guard by his figure. He was huge, lean, and rawboned, his body radiating with the dark power that he possessed. The neck of his shirt hung open, revealing his white, hairless chest, the gleaming curve of powerful muscle and traces of deep scars. She felt herself become flustered, as if she was gazing on him for the first time again.

He came to her then. Schala hastily lowered her head. Magus reached out to her, and felt her flinch. He must have detected the tremors that ran through her frame, for which he stated in a dry tone, "You're new at this."

She managed to whisper, "Yes."

"I won't hurt you…" Magus guided her to a nearby table. As she stood facing away from him, he reached around the fastening of her cloak. The heavy garment fell away, revealing her flowing strands of light blue hair, which she had taken down from her up-do. She heard his breath catch followed by a moment of stillness. Schala closed her eyes as Magus's hands traced her sides. She wore only her dressing gown when she came to him this eve. As he leaned over to lay her cloak at the side of the table, Schala felt the unyielding surface of his body brush against hers. The scent of him unlocked a flood of memories. He smelled of magic, strength, and lust. He smelled like Magus, her lover, the King of Fiends.

It frustrated her to admit that she was so undone by him. And yet it shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, he was Janus, her Janus, Magus… He was the only man able to reach through her composure, deep into her being and reach the purest of emotions in her veins. The raw exhilaration was terrible and sweet, and no man had ever done this to her except him.

"Don't you wish to see my face?" She asked huskily, her voice barely above a whisper.

A cold and even toned replied, "It's not a concern of mine if you are beautiful or not." But his breathing hastened as his hands settled on her, one sliding up her spine, urging her to bend forward. And his next words fell on her ears like red velvet.

"Put your hands on the table." Without even thinking, Schala obeyed. She felt her pulse quickening, almost unbearable as she struggled to maintain her breathing. He stood behind her. His hand lazily tracing up and down her back, making no distinct pattern or process but it awakened her senses in ways he only could. However, he did not touch her with love, but with a chilled and processed skill. She comprehended that he fully intended to take her, use her, and after being intimate with her – to him a complete stranger – he would send her away with only memories. He never had loved another as he did her, had he?

His hand closed in her skirts now, easing them upward. Schala felt the slight draft brisk up her ankle, and she couldn't help but imagine what it would be like if she let him continue.

Aroused and snapping back to reality, Schala slammed her fist down and managed to choke out, "Is this how you treat women, Janus?"

Everything stopped. Time froze.

Her gown hem dropped, and she was seized in a fierce, hurtful grip and spun around. Caught helplessly, she looked up into his dark face into those deep crimson eyes. Magus was expressionless, save for his widening eyes. As he stared at her, a flush burned across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose.

"Schala." Her name wracked from his lips. She tried to smile at him, to say something, but her mouth was trembling and words failed her.

One of his hands came upward. The calloused tip of his thumb smoothed the soft skin beneath her eyes. His hand brushing the side of her face so gently that her gaze fell and she couldn't help but lean into him. With a swift, greedy move, he reached for her back, her hips, clutching her hard against him. She reached up for him, her mouth being engulfed by his with a hot and urgent pressure. A sound came from his throat, low and hungry with need. He broke reluctantly, hands cradling her face, "How did you know?"

"It is a long story," A shiver went through her as his hot breath fanned against her lips, "I have so much to tell you… To ask you—"

He took her mouth again, no longer gentle. He sank his tongue into her, aggressively searching. He tilted her head so that he could have full access to her mouth and she reached around him. Magus groaned as she began to claw at him, "I'll answer you anything you wish."

"Not now." She demanded, roughly taking his mouth to hers again. She bit his bottom lip, which seemed to stir him more. Pulling her head back, he sought the fragile skin of her throat and dragged his mouth along it. She knew he was getting to the point where words would be lost to him. Selfishly and with lustful greed, she only made noises and gestures to encourage him. Magus scooped her up with ease, carrying her to his bed and laying her swiftly down upon the mattress. His lips found hers again as her arms reached up and cradled him to her. He lowered himself to her, gripping her dressing gown, pulling it so hard she thought the fabric would tear. A sound of ripped fabric cut the air but distracted her only for a moment as Magus cupped the soft shape of her breast. To her surprise, he lowered his head and lightly bit against the cloth until her nipple was caught in the light clamp of his teeth. A whimper escaped her, and her hips jerked upwards unwillingly. Though she suspected her body was completely chaste as it was in Zeal, certain instincts to his body remained engraved in her mind.

Magus crawled over her, his mouth desperately searching for hers. The front of her gown had ridden up between them, and as he tugged them higher and placed himself between her thighs, he shifted until she felt the thick ridge of him between the layers of her undergarments and his trousers. Her eyes flew open and she stared up into the black fire of his gaze. He moved again, this time with an agonizing pace that let her feel every inch of him. Letting out a long gasp, she opened herself to him further. He made a primitive sound as he rubbed over her again, caressing her with intimacy and a tender stroke.

"Janus," her voice quaked, as he yanked away the remaining barriers of clothing between their nether regions, "Janus –"

He practically tore himself away from her, and in a last grasp of sanity and with regards to consequence, he reared his head back and gasped, "We should not do this –"

Schala greedily grabbed the back of his neck, bringing him back down to her, "Take me now and forget tomorrow." His mouth covered hers once more before practically leaping off of the bed. She jolted up with a start, staring bewildered at him. Visibly shaking, his breath wracked, and gripping at the bedpost as he stared at her with a dark desire. "W-what's wrong?"

"Stay there." he ordered sharply. Schala shook her head in disbelief and moved towards him, reaching for him. As she did, he took a step back, growling as he jerked his pants shut, "Schala. Stay. There."

Schala recoiled, her heart pained with the stark rejection. She quietly began rearranging the remains of her tattered nightgown. His eyes didn't leave her, teeth clenched as he struggled for his composure, "Please, just... a moment... please..." he painted, his voice desperate.

Smiling warmly, she stood up and walked over to the window, pulling back the curtain to see the full moon. It was overwhelming for her – the beauty of her beloved lost home. Surveying the horizon, her eyes became hot with tears and she gently wept. "I-I can't believe… I forgot this."

Zeal was stunning in the night sky. The warm lights of the glowing cities, the abyss of the sky illuminated by the milky waves of stars, and the large silver moon that hung high in the night sky, her heart lept with nostalgia as she feared she was only dreaming. Wiping her eyes, she turned back to Magus, who was studying her, "What?"

"Trying to regain my composure." he admitted bluntly, "Your silhouette is beautiful in the moonlight."

Schala laughed quietly as she peered back outside. It warmed her soul to see her kingdom in the full moon once more. So many nights she had never appreciated the beauty of Zeal. Now, she could hardly contain her desire to simply gaze over the landscape.

"So many nights I went to bed early," she sighed, leaning her forehead against the cool glass, "I can't believe I took this view for granted."

"Who are you?" Magus demanded.

The answer came from her lips without a thought, "I am Schala, Princess of Zeal."

"I can see that... but something isn't right here... How did you know who I was and what do you mean when you say you 'forgot' the view?"

Sheepishly, she looked back at him then down at the floor, "I am not sure what happened."

He stood up then moved slightly towards her, "Explain."

Nodding, she turned towards him, taking a few steps before he raised his hand up. "What is it?" she asked

"Schala, stay there... Don't come any closer." He couldn't help but be entranced by her figure as she moved towards him. It was enough to make him lose control completely if she came to him again. The light from the moon outlining her figure with a hue of white, she looked almost angelic. The highlights and shadows cast on her slender form, the round curves of her hips, breasts, and thighs, the soft glow from her azure locks, the Princess of Zeal was a sight to behold. She stood before him, her eyes falling as a deep sigh came from her lips, "I woke up in my room, but I don't remember being in my room."

"How so?"

Schala held her head, lightly swaying back and forth, "It's like… What was before is becoming hazy. I don't know if I was dreaming it but… I was in the future. You had saved me from the darkness… We had friends there, a life… something terrible was happening because of Dalton."

As she spoke, Magus's face went from warm to dark. His eyes growing cold and jaw taunt, "When are you from?"

"What?"

"I said, when are you from?" he asked again. Schala wet her lips and debated her next choice of words, "My mind is from 1005 A.D. in the Kingdom of Guardia, but my body seems to be from Zeal."

Magus's frame became stern, his features becoming dark and a swell of fear began to stir in her chest, "Lavos?"

"Defeated," She confessed, her voice quiet, "Y-you defeated it with the assistance of allies."

"When?"

"You told me the year 1999 A.D."

A wrack of anger quaked through his body as his fist clenched and stared deeper at her, "So I do not defeat it here…" Schala shook her head, beginning to find it hard to breathe as the air around Magus began to turn black with the power of his Shadow magic, "N-no… Zeal falls… Zeal will always fall… and I— I…"

A few swift strides and he was on to her again. His hands came to hold her face as he kissed her deeply, this time possessive and promising. She reached up and grasped his wrists as she felt herself begin to weep before him. It dawned on her in that moment that potentially in a few more weeks or even days she was going to die. They'd be transported before Lavos, where Magus would lose his powers, Crono would die before her and his friends, Janus and the Gurus would be pulled into the gates, and her body and soul would be flung into the darkness at the brink of the mortal coil, "I don't want to die, Janus." She murmured against his lips.

Breaking from her, he pulled back enough from her to look deep into her eyes. His dark gaze turned from menacing to soothing somehow, though still contained malice and rage, "I will do whatever I can then to get you out then."

Schala looked away solemnly, "You do know some things are set in stone, right? Zeal's fate is… mine perhaps is as well."

"And if I take you away?"

"I don't know." She whispered, "I don't know what would happen to your younger self though then."

Gently, he passed a hand through the locks of her hair, lightly entwining his fingers around a few locks, "That is a point… Without him there'd be no me…"

"Yes," she replied, with a small sad smile, "And I dare not think of a life without you."

To her surprise, he smiled then, a genuine smile that warmed her heart and made her feel loved. She leaned over, resting her forehead against his for a moment before he withdrew and turned away from her. He moved to the window, his broad frame encompassing the payne as he reached his arms to either side.

"I suppose you're trying to figure out what to do now?" She asked. He didn't answer her. The space between them seemed to be a visual representation of how it was here. He was keeping his distance now, but always close enough to be within view. Here in this time, Magus was focused on Lavos and she dared to say even their mother. Her revealing of her affections was just a part of the experience now.

When he finally spoke, his voice reverted back to the cool and even tone he spoke with as Prophet, "What would you have me do?"

Schala shifted, pulling her gown closer at her chest, "There's no hope here..."

"You're correct. So what do you want me to do?"

"I don't know!" She whispered sharply, "Why should I know?"

"Of the two of us," he began, "You're the one who knows more about what will happen currently. You're more of a 'Prophet' then I could hope to be in this instance."

Sitting down in a nearby chair, Schala clasped her hands together and her thoughts began to race. What should they do? A part of her wondered if she began to train with Magus if she could be strong enough to face their mother, the other side of her was how would she keep the younger Janus safe? It would be a balancing act to keep the young prince ignorant of her knowledge. He was always so bright as a child, she couldn't lie to him either.

"I could hide in Algetty."

"How long would that last until they decided to blow that hovel of a city into oblivion to flush you out?"

"I can pretend to be weak longer so progress on the Mammon Machine cannot continue."

He turned and glanced back at her over his shoulder, "Now there's an idea..."

"Janus I don't think-"

"Magus or Prophet," he ordered, "You're too comfortable saying my name. You can't be so open about my identity in this era."

Whirling to him, her eyes narrowed harshly on him, slightly hurt by his statement, "Why are you being this way?"

Taking in a deep and slow breath, he closed his eyes and shook his head slowly as he exhaled, "Because this is how it has to be in order to maintain all I've put into place."

That did it for her, she jumped to her feet, her fist dropping fiercely on the table at her side, "And what am I to do, exactly? Pretend like there's nothing between us?!"

"There is nothing between us, Schala." He replied, his voice remaining completely level as he looked her dead in the eye.

His words were like knives going into her heart, but she stood firm, doing her best to keep back the growing stinging of tears in her eyes, "You're a terrible liar." she declared darkly from the back of her throat.

Turning towards her, he stood there with his arms crossed, head slighted to one side, "There are things that must be done, Schala."

"And I'd be a distraction, is that it?"

"Princess, please keep your voice down. If someone hears you, please think of your reputation."

"The hell with my reputation!" she shrilled, "Do you know what kind of agony I've been through? What I'm going through right now?!"

He was on her almost immediately, clasping his hand firmly over her mouth as she continued to shout and fail, glaring at him with eye filled with confusion and frustration. "Shh! Calm down, you'll wake someone or summon the guards."

Fuming a few more breaths, she dropped her head, a few tears coming from her eyes, which she immediately wiped away, "Y-Yes... I suppose that would be an issue."

He didn't release her immediately, surveying her condition, his eyes giving away how he really felt to her. Magus brushed the tears away with one hand, but Schala turned her head away defiantly.

"You've certainly changed..." he remarked coolly, a slight smirk coming across his lips. Schala looked up into his eyes, "I am not afraid of anyone here in this time anymore. Not you, not mother, not Dalton... no one. And I will not be disrespected or compromised of the things I wish for."

A slightly sinister laugh came from the depths of his chest, "So I noticed."

The two of them stood there for a moment more, neither moving or making an effort further to part from the other. Finally Magus spoke, "Go back to your room, Schala."

"But I-" she began. He placed a finger to her lips, leaning over and kissing her forehead. She grabbed at him as he did, a part of her practically dreading him sending her away.

"I'll come for you in the morning. See no one until I send someone to retrieve you." he murmured against her forehead, "We have much to talk about and I don't want mother taking you near that machine..."

"I have a week of freedom." she replied, breathlessly.

"Then we don't have a day to waste. Go back to your room and rest." he stated again, this time moving from her, picking her cloak up and wrapping her in it. As she tied the front and replaced her hood, Magus opened the door quietly for her. Sadly, Schala moved to the exit but before she did she stole another kiss from his lips, then dashed down the hallway into the darkness where she came from. Magus shut the door behind her, fell against it, then slid to the floor shaking as his fingertips brushed against his burning lips.