Chapter 12

Janus slapped his hand into the pool of water, shattering the moonlit reflection before him. Trying to fight down the panic that was building, he took a deep stuttering breath and fell back into a sitting position. With a fearful expression he held out his hand and slowly began to peel the glove away.

A webbed dark green hand emerged from within. Janus shoved the glove back on, hiding his deformity, and spun about to face the hilt of the Murasame with an accusing glare. "What have you done to me?!" he half yelled, half croaked.

He flinched at the foreign sound of his own voice, but it only added to his anger. The noise seemed to echo around the mountain, faint underneath the constantly roaring falls. The Murasame did not respond to him. It lay dormant where he had dropped it. Still not trusting his legs, he began to crawl on his hands and knees towards the silent sword. Snatching it up, he stared at the obsidian blade, its surface thankfully devoid of a reflection.

"What have you done to me?" he repeated, this time quieter, more subdued.

Murasame ignored him once more. He stared at the sword for several moments, then gave up. His arm dropped to the side, but retained a tight hold on the weapon. He looked up and peered at the starry sky above him, then heaved a deep sigh to calm himself down. The calm soon came as the shock wore off, and his mind began to work and put pieces together.

This was Glenn's curse. But it was removed when I died... Why is it on me?

Sheathing the sword into his cloak, he slowly stood on shaky legs. While he thought this over, he told himself, he could learn how to balance and walk on his new feet. Slowly he eased one foot forward, noting how the muscles flexed and the joints pivoted. Putting that foot down, he slowly brought his other up and foward, noting once again its feel, and this time becoming more accustomed to it.

In fact, this is the location I placed that curse...

He brought his feet together, straightening out his legs and making himself as narrow and as tall as possible. After a moment in this pose, he began to lean, tilting backwards as his balance faltered. Quickly, he dropped a foot back to catch himself, the reflex stopping his fall and resetting his balance. He made a note of it.

There is a reason for this. It had to happen on purpose. Janus sighed, realizing he was going in a circle now, So my own curse is on me now. Murasame had to have done it, and had to have done it for a reason. So... Why?

Nothing came to him, the thought reaching a dead end.

He bent his legs down and settled into a squatting position, then jumped as high as he could. Instantly he was reminded of one of the bonuses of this new frog form: stronger legs. The ground below him quickly shrank away as he almost seemed to have taken flight. His cape fluttered behind him and the cool wind felt soothing against his wet skin.

But he wasn't flying. After peaking at about twenty feet, gravity began to pull him back down. Unprepared to fall from this height, Janus could do nothing as his balance betrayed him once more and he began to tilt forward. Helplessly, his arms pinwheeled themselves in a vain attempt to right himself. The ground rushed towards him, and he realized at the rate he was going he would be landing face first. With every ounce of his strength, he twisted his body around to try and avoid that fate.

Janus landed hard on the dirt path with an audible grunt. His shoulder made first contact, taking the brunt of the impact, before the rest of his body followed suit. He felt pain shoot through his arm and knew instantly it had been dislocated. His other hand reached over and grasped the damaged arm, but that only made the pain worse. Janus gritted his teeth and rolled over onto his back. There was only one way to fix this.

Ignoring the pain as best he could, he tightened his grip on his shoulder, finding the point of separation. He tensed himself for what was about to happen. It was hurting now, but he knew it would be even worse fixing it.

This really is a curse,he thought to himself; and then with his magic, he forced his arm back into its socket.

The noise of his scream drowned out the roar of the waterfall.


"Rise and shine, Beta."

Cid's eyes slowly opened in response. Trying to make out his surroundings, he rubbed his eyes and squinted. He was under the bed, his back to the door and the person waking him. This jarred his memory and he remembered his meeting with Celia.

"Come one, get up," the voice persisted, and he now recognized it as Dr. Y's.

Glancing down at his shirt, he quickly wiped away the few remaining bread crumbs. The evidence removed, he then rolled over and faced the old man, "What do you want?"

The doctor was not alone, two guards had followed him inside Cid's room. They stared at him with bored looks on their faces, their guns held with the loosest of grips. The man between them in contrast only held a clipboard which he hugged across his chest with one arm.

Dr. Y smiled and glanced down at whatever was on his clipboard, his eyes darting left to right, then repeating as he read something. As he continued to study his page, he answered Cid, "We need to run a few more tests on you is all. Don't worry, it won't take long."

Cid crawled out from under his bed and stood, his legs complaining all the way. Before he was even squarely on his feet though, one of the guards broke out of his lazy stance and reached forward, striking like a snake. He grabbed Cid's arm and jerked him forward roughly.

"Hey!" Cid demanded, trying to fight his way out of the man's grip, "I'm cooperating, there's no need for that!"

In response, the guard spun him and slammed him against the wall, pinning him easily. Cid could feel the barrel of the man's gun press against his back and he stopped struggling. Behind him the guard responded, "I'll just make sure you don't have a reason to even think of notcooperating."

Cid waited and hoped for Dr. Y to reprimand the man for treating him like this, but only silence followed the ultimatum. He was on his own. The gun pulled away from his back and he was spun around once more, then before he could orient himself, he was shoved out the door. His legs couldn't keep up with his forward momentum and he pitched forward as he crossed through the threshold. He caught himself with his hands but couldn't stop his momentum. His tumble turned into a roll as he crossed the hall and slammed into the far wall. Footsteps trailed behind him and he heard a door shut.

"Get up, Cid."

For the sake of self-preservation, Cid fought down his initial response and slowly staggered back to his feet, using the wall for support. He turned around to stare back at the doctor, who smiled, "Good, follow me."

Dr. Y turned and walked down the hall, leaving Cid alone with the two guards who simply watched him. He got the hint. Putting one leg forward, he started to pace unevenly behind the doctor. The guards filed in behind him, making sure he didn't try an escape. He had to walk faster than his body wanted in order to keep up with the other man, and each step brought more pain to his legs. But he refused to show weakness. It would only encourage the guards to beat him around even more and he needed to save his strength for his real escape that he hoped Celia had planned.

He needed to save his strength just to fend off Lavos.

They reached the elevator again that would take them down to Project Lavos. As they stepped inside, a sense of fear that he had been able to hold down so far suddenly rose up his back. He had hoped they were going somewhere else this time. Performing some other test. As small a hope it had been, he had held onto it. A hope that the tests would be harmless and tame until he could be rescued. Those hopes were permanently removed as the doctor pressed the button that would seal his fate.

He would indeed need his strength to fend off Lavos again.

He looked into the reflection of the elevator doors, eyeing the guards behind him. They were still holding their guns loosely, casually. If he could take one...

But he knew he couldn't. Not only was he weaker than them, he was too scared to resist anymore.

The elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing once again the nucleus of his fears. They stepped out and made a beeline down the path that led to Lavos. His state of panic began to rise with each step. Ahead of him, he could see two more guards waiting before the door that led to the final hall.

"How many times will I have to go through with this?" he demanded after working up the courage to speak again.

"We'll see," was the only response.

They reached the door and one of the guards quickly punched in the password, granting them entrance.

"Well whyare you doing this?" he pressed after the door behind them slid shut, "Are you just torturing me?"

The doctor sighed, not breaking stride, "I will not hear another word from you. One way or the other."

Cid felt a jab behind him from one of the guards, getting the point instantly. He remained silent as they reached the final door. This time the doctor got the passcode correct his first try and the door slid open easily. Pitch black stared back at him from within. Then before he could think to move, rough hands grabbed at his shoulders. Cid became disoriented by the world spinning around him as he was literally thrown inside. He landed in a heap, the soreness wracking his body becoming stronger.

The door shut behind him and the panic within hit a boiling point as the darkness swallowed him. He began to hyperventilate as the faint glow of a monitor reached his eyes and he was once again staring at himself. Words flashed across the screen once more.



Guardia Castle lay dormant beneath the moonlight, sullen and quiet. Though the war with Magus had ended years ago, peace was still a tentative thing, and guards continually patrolled its parapets. However, scores of uneventful nights left the patrollers bored and half-asleep. Their once proud posture toned down by the acceptance that nothing would everhappen on their watch.

Perfect conditions for the figure currently scaling the west wall.

His black cloak stood stark against the castle's grey in the dim light, but nobody thought to look there. There was no need, it would be humanly impossible to climb solid rock.

The being's webbed hands and feet however, were far from human. They stuck easily to the stone, one after the other as Janus made his way up. He paused for a moment as he reached a window, closing his amphibious eyes in concentration. The Masamune was near, its power blindingly bright to his mind's eye. Very near.

He reached over and grasped the lip of the window, then tugged himself through. The curtains stroked him soothingly as he passed through and his feet touched down noiselessly onto the rug of the dark bedroom. He ignored the resting figure mere feet from his position and eyed the chest resting against the far wall. Very near indeed.

He crept across the room silently, coming to a stop and kneeling before the container. It was locked of course, but he had little need for a key. Janus pressed his palm against the metal and focused sharply. A click erupted from within, echoing loudly.

Janus glanced behind him briefly, making sure the bed's occupant was still asleep. He was met by stoic silence. Satisfied, he fit his fingers under the lid and lifted slowly. The chest was in good condition however, and remained noiseless regardless of his efforts. A bright red glow filled the room as the chest opened, clashing bizarrely with Janus' green complexion. His large yellow eyes reflected the contents, his prize.

The Masamune.

Forgetting himself for a moment, he reached down to claim it. As his hand wrapped itself around the hilt he remembered what this was. But before he could draw away from the imminent blast of energy, two voices filled his mind.

Glenn, welcome back.

Yeah, we thought you'd leave us in that old box forever.

He fought down the panic, and then fought down the smile, realizing that bearing the guise of the frog was enough to fool the blade itself. He quickly thought up a response to whisper back to them, "Yes, your rest was well earned, but I have need for you again."


I hope it's imps again. I hate those guys.

It had been unnoticeable at first, but now he felt it. There was a warmth against his leg, where he kept the broken black blade, getting hotter as time passed. Murasame detected his kin. Numbness began to grow along with the warmth, Janus ignored it as best he could as he continued to keep up his own facade. "No, it's something else," he responded finally.

The voices continued, but he mostly ignored them as he prepared himself for what he had to do next. He gripped the Masamune more tightly as he prepared to pull it up. But with this, a connection was made. The Murasame's darkness spread rapidly through his body, through his arm, and into the Masamune.

Wait a moment, one of them finally said, realizing something at the final moment, I thought you turned back into-

The voice was silenced immediately as the blackness of Murasame enveloped the red blade.

Janus' entire body went numb and he staggered to his knees. The Masamune sliced downward as gravity overpowered his weakened arms and cleaved through the chest effortlessly to strike the ground below. A solid ringing of metal against stone erupted from this, a chorus to the sparks that shot into the air. Almost as an afterthought, the chest caught fire from the blade's power.

There was a shuffling sound behind him. Even if he had the strength to do so, Janus didn't need to look. He could sense his roommate was awakened by the commotion.

"What's going on here?" demanded the voice of Glenn, now cleaned of the interruption of a croak.

Janus didn't respond; he couldn't. His body was no longer his to control. His arms rose back up, bringing the Masamune with them and pointing it downward. Then they thrust the blade into the floor, burying it halfway into stone.

What are you doing? Masa or Mune demanded of him, he couldn't tell which.

He sensed Glenn approach, but before the knight could reach him, the flames jumped from the burning chest and wove themselves along a path of the carpet, encircling him. Protecting him. Janus' lips began to move, murmurring a chant he had used once before, long ago. His deadened arms reached into his cloak and drew the half-sword out. Finishing his incantation, he touched the broken tip of the blade against the dreamstone sword's center.

All noise seemed to stop when contact was made.

Where the black blade was touching, a crack formed. The crack expanded rapidly along the width of the Masamune, forming a jagged path. A red glow seeped from the wound like blood before it was enveloped by blackness.

And as it had done once before, long ago, the Masamune broke in two. Like a felled tree, the hilt slowly leaned over, picking up pace as it went. Then with a dead ring it struck the ground.

He reached forward to pick up the hilt end of the now-broken sword, but before he could touch it, hands grabbed his arms and yanked him away. Janus' legs spun him around rapidly to come face to face with a human Glenn. A burning blanket was draped around the green haired man, which he quickly cast off now that it had shielded him through the flames. "Who are you?" he demanded, his eyes set in anger, "You have no idea what you've done."

"I know," Murasame spoke through Janus' mouth, "I've done it once before."

Glenn's eyes widened as the realization swept through him. He quickly drew back his fist and punched at the frog, who nimbly dodged the attack, using its powerful legs to hop backwards over and beyond the flames. Landing softly, Janus retaliated quickly by throwing his free arm outward. In response to the gesture, the chest jumped from its spot on the ground and struck Glenn straight in the chest. Embers and ash exploded from the impact, showering the man. Glenn staggered back, stunned briefly. He tripped over the burning blanket he had cast aside and fell backwards into the fire that surrounded him.

He groaned in pain as the flames enveloped him, scorching his skin. Instinct kicked in and he quickly rolled away and out of it, jumping to his feet and batting out the sparks that remained with him. His eyes darted around him, searching desperately for a weapon of some sort.

This won't be easy without the Masamune, he thought to himself. The amphibian merely stared back with its large, yellow eyes, waiting for another opening. But before either of them could make a move, there was a loud knock from the door. "Sir Glenn," a voice boomed from the other side, "What's going on in there?"

Glenn's eyes darted to the door then back to his enemy, trying to gauge if he was distracted. "I'm being attacked!" he finally yelled back, "But be careful, it knows magic!"

The door began to open, but Janus quickly gestured towards it. The bed across the room flipped over, suspended upright on one corner briefly, before barrelling forward and slamming into the opening door, slamming it shut. The guards on the other end banged helplessly against the barricade.

But that was all the opening Glenn needed.

Taking advantage of the brief distraction, he dove forward and body tackled the morphed wizard into the ground. The fire raging around them died instantly, as if water had filled the room. Straddling the stunned frog, Glenn quickly reached forward to grasp the hilt of the Masamune half. However before he could reach the weapon, he felt something slimy wrap itself around his neck. he looked back down to see the frog had extended his tongue at him. The ropy muscle tightened as it pulled him away from the sword, beginning to slowly choke him.

Glenn flexed his neck muscles, trying to fight the strangulation as his hands vainly fumbled to find grip on the slippery tongue. His face turned red as he was lifted up onto just his toes.

No longer pinned to the ground, Janus stood back up and stared up at his victim triumphantly. He retracted his tongue, freeing a surprised Glenn who toppled over onto the ground. Janus turned around and reached once more for the Masamune's hilt.

"No!" Glenn cried and tried to throw himself at the wizard once more.

Something struck him in the head from above. It didn't feel solid, but the force of the impact threw him to the ground once more. Glenn turned his head up to see what had hit him to find a pillow suspended in the air. It spun once, then swung down again. He threw up his arm to shield his face, but the impact drove him down once more regardless. Repeatedly, the pillow struck him, keeping him pinned to the ground.

So Murasame has a sense of humor after all... Janus thought to himself as his still-numb armed picked up the Masamune's hilt. His other arm still held the hilt of the Murasame and he raised them up together. He crossed them against each other, and as they connected, the blackness flowed into the Masamune like a virus. The darkness enveloped it completely, trapping it. The other half of the red blade wasn't free of this affliction either. It too succumbed to the Murasame's black poison.

This is self-destruction, you know, the Masamune uttered, its last words.

And then, as if they were made of dust, the pieces disintegrated. The blackened powder of the dreamstone rained down on a now unconscious Glenn. The Masamune was destroyed completely.

Excellent job, Murasame uttered into his head, finally speaking.

The realization struck Janus. He wasn't meant to destroy it, he had been told merely to seal it. The Murasame fell from his hands and clattered onto the ground.

And with that, his body was his again. Not expecting this, Janus fell to the floor in a heap as his muscles gave out. He quickly jumped to his feet, scowling down at the silent black blade on the ground. He vocally repeated his thoughts, "What have you done? You didn't say to destroy it!"

An impact from the door still pinned shut by the bed drew his attention and he glanced away from the blade towards it.

No time to talk, sorcerer, the voice replied, Pick me up and return to Limbo for your reward.

"Answer me!" Janus demanded again, refusing to listen.

The guards threw themselves against the door once more and the bed began to give way.

I will give an explanation when time allows. Reclaim your weapon, the voice soothed, Your sister is counting on you.

Janus stared at the hilt for several moments, glancing over briefly to the unconscious human beside it. He had begun something now and he had no idea where it would end. But for Schala's sake, he had to end it somehow.

He bent forward and picked up the sword.

Its power flowed through him once more, numbing his body, possessing it from him. This was the only path to the end, he told himself. The sword began drawing power from him, forming a red gate. A portal to Limbo. This was the only way to save his sister.

The door was thrown open roughly, throwing the bed away, but it was too late. There was nobody inside but Sir Glenn, lying limply in the center of a devastated room.