Author's Note: Again, incest warning. But if you've got this far, you already know. As I said last chapter, no more Magus/Queen Zeal! One chapter of that was enough. Young!Janus/Schala in this chapter hinted at much more strongly than before. Queen Zeal/Lavos strongly hinted at. Yes, you read that right.

Chapter 4: The Flaw in the Plan

Schala softly nuzzled her younger brother's silky hair. She had tried falling asleep, but couldn't. The Prophet, Magus, kept coming to mind. Somehow, just one day alone with him made her happier than she'd been in a long time, and something about him was so very familiar. His...aura...may have been full of sadness and loss, but Schala noticed that it was lessened a good deal whenever she was in his presence.

She saw his aura when he was in the presence of her much anger, so much hatred. At first she had assumed this was due to the 'evil doers who would come to bring an end to Zeal' that he had prophesied. Now, after talking to him, she wasn't so sure. Surely, Magus didn't want Zeal to fall...and the Queen could also read auras, so no doubt she interpreted his anger and hatred as such for the possibly fall of Zeal at the hands of evil.

Schala shuddered slightly, just thinking of mother. Or, the creature that called itself mother. Janus was right when he said Queen Zeal wasn't their mother anymore, but Schala dared not say anything, dared not contradict her mother. She was and always had been a dutiful daughter. Janus shifted slightly in her arms, his silvery blue head nuzzling her breasts slightly. Schala sighed and kissed him softly, trying not to wake him.

The princess loved her younger brother so desperately. When younger, she had been betrothed to him by her own mother, to 'keep the bloodline pure' as she said. Schala hadn't minded, nor had Janus. She wasn't sure how Janus felt, but she still felt like she would love to continue to be betrothed to him. She couldn't imagine being with anyone else. They would all pretend to love her for her power, because she was a princess. Janus loved her for who she was, Schala, not the Princess of Zeal.

As if sensing her feelings, Janus opened his eyes slightly and looked bleerily at Schala.

"Schala? Why aren't you sleeping?" he sounded worried. He always did lately, when he spoke to her.

Schala patted his head gently. "I'm just...I can't sleep, thats all. Just thinking." She smiled. "About you, actually. And the Prophet. Well, Magus. His name is Magus, not Prophet. I had a wonderful day with him. He was very kind."

At Janus's alarmed look, Schala soothed him quickly. "Not a better day than I would have had with you, of course. All my days with you are wonderful." The princess hugged the younger prince. "Go back to sleep, Jansy. I'll fall asleep sooner or later."

Janus frowned at the use of the silly pet name. "Don't call me that! It sounds silly for a prince!" He rolled over in the bed, away from Schala, feigning annoyance. Janus didn't really care when she called him that. She knew he only kept up appearances. Much like Magus...not wanting his cold facade to fade...

Janus noticed her frowning once he'd stopped pouting and turned back to Schala. "Schala? Whats wrong? Why are you looking at me like that and frowning? Did-did I do something wrong?" He sounded honestly concerned about this. Of course he would. Schala was his only friend, his only love.

"No! Not at all. I was just thinking about...Magus, and you. How you're rather alike." Janus gasped at this and adamantly shook his head, but Schala stopped him from speaking. "Shush! Let me explain! You both try to keep up these masks, you both try to be cold and collected when I know, deep down, that you're not. I'm not saying this to hurt you, Jansy. Just...because...he reminds me of you, thats all."

Janus still frowned. He sighed and crawled back on top of Schala, laying down, head on her breasts, again. He looked up at her beautiful face, so tired and drawn, still. "Schala...I...I can take off the amulet anytime...please...let me...I can take some of the work, Schala. You don't have to suffer alone."

The princess gasped. The mere thought of her beloved Janus becoming a puppet of Lavos like her! Never. She would never allow it! Schala slapped Janus, hard. Tears welled in his eyes and his lips trembled as he stared at her in shock.

"I have told you, time and again! I will not let you. Never. You won't be a puppet of Lavos like me. Mother won't have you. Its the least I can do. I will keep you from her if it is the last thing I do." Tears were threatening Schala now.

The prince wiped away his tears with the sleeve of his robe. He hated not being able to help. It wasn't Schala's slap that caused him to cry. It was that. She wouldn't ever let him show his powers to mother. If he did...Schala had told him that she would hate him forever, and he wouldn't want to risk that. He hated seeing her cry...he sniffled and pressed against Schala, hugging her tightly.

"I just want to get away from here, my love. Just us. Away from Zeal...far away. Forever." Schala said this as she softly resumed stroking Janus's lovely silver-blue hair.

"We will, Schala. Some day. If...if you don't, I'll escape, then I'll come back for you, I promise." Janus trailed off and fell asleep again. The princess pressed her face into Janus's hair and bit back tears of loss and depression.

Magus sighed and leaned heavily on the door that lead to his bedroom. He was tired, but that walk with Schala was worth every bit of pain. He'd bore far worse pain than a jaunt in the brilliant sunlight if it made his beloved Schala happy. She had seemed happy too. The air about her was so much more full of life and light than it had been when he had been Janus. Despite how happy she had been when she was with him as Janus, there was still the underlying depression and sense of hopelessness.

Schala hadn't displayed that when she was with Magus. It was like she had been a totally different person. Free, perhaps free at last from the grip of her mother and the kingdom. Magus hoped to make that freedom, that delightful, happy personality, permanent. How desperately he STILL longed to simply go in her room and grab her and head back to the time gate.

The Prophet sighed heavily. He couldn't do that, no matter what. Even if it DIDN'T screw with the timestream in some way, there would be Guardia's army to deal with, the Mytics, the fiends, that had become his allies and made him who and what he was today, to contend with. He was still Lord Magus, the King of Mystics, in his time. Sweet, gentle Schala wouldn't be able to handle that, not even if she did know he was Janus. When the time came, he intended to take her to some other time period.

He'd been reading some of Gaspar's books on time travel since he'd arrived, and there were ways of traversing the timeways without the gates. He would take her to a peaceful time...she would never have to know of Lord Magus, King of Mystics, mass murderer and torturer. Magus smiled ruefully. At least his mother would be proud. He'd become a ruler very worthy of her. Just a single-minded in his goal to get to Lavos as she had been. The only difference was that he was trying to get to Lavos to kill him, while she was trying to get to Lavos to...fuck him or something. Magus did not know, or even WANT to know.

The Prophet was not lying when he'd told Schala he had some documents to read over for the Queen. Something about her continued plans with the Mammon Machine. After looking around his quarters for quite some time, Magus could not find the documents that had been there earlier. He rubbed his head in frustration. That asshole Dalton. Of course, the mage had left his door unlocked and the jealous moron had decided to attempt to sabotage his position as the Queen's new favorite by stealing work he was supposed to do for her. Magus would just have to go to see his mother again, his least favorite thing to do.

In the Mammon Machine chamber, Queen Zeal communed with Lavos. The feeling of the power surging through her was like an orgasm. No, it was better. Nothing in the realms of mortals was like the power of Lavos. When she was immortal, all that power would be hers. She stroked the machine, almost lovingly, thinking of Lavos and how they could, would, become one when she achieved immortality. How they would rule the world, together...Queen Zeal and Lavos...eternal rulers of the Kingdom of Zeal...or the Kingdom of Lavos. She had yet to decide on a name for her new kingdom.

Schala was the first step. Schala and the Prophet were the second step. The final step, the only that she had recently set into motion, was to get Schala with child, the powerful Prophet's child, and use that child's energy to empower Lavos. Who cared what happened to it once Lavos was at full strength? No one would ever have to worry about death again, thanks to the child of Schala and the Prophet, if they managed to produce one.

A wave of ecstasy swept over the Queen as she felt Lavos' energy surge through her, his thoughts fill her mind.

He comes, my love...the Prophet. The one who will provide the means to bring us together. The means to bring this world to what it is meant to become...

Lavos trailed off in the Queen's mind. She managed to compose herself as best she could, recovering from the throes of passion offered by the mighty Lavos was not an easy thing. The Queen sat on a nearby throne-like chair she'd had installed in the room and adjusted her gown, making herself more presentable. There was a knock at the door.

"Come in, Prophet."

The Prophet entered, giving her a quizzical look.

"Lavos told me you were coming, sly one. What is it you wish at such an hour? Shouldn't you be sleeping?" Queen Zeal eyed the handsome man in an amused manner.

The Prophet went to a knee before the Queen. "It seems someone broke in to my room and stole the documents about the machine that you wished me to work on. I have my suspicions about whom, but I'll keep them to myself for now. Perhaps you can provide me with another copy?" The Prophet's voice was as toneless and dry as ever it was, but the Queen sensed something else. He was almost...happy. Yes, the aura of hate and anger was no longer emanating from him like a cloud.

It seemed to have lifted. The Queen smiled. It could only be because he had mended fences with Schala. Of course.

The Prophet stared at her, still keeping silent, wondering at her strange smile.

"Of course, Prophet. My apologies. I just noticed that your aura is much less full of anger this time. You're nearly...happy." Queen Zeal laughed. "Its because of Schala, isn't it? You've already endeared yourself to her, haven't you?"

Magus gritted his teeth and forced himself to tell her. "Yes, Your Majesty. I...took Schala out on her day off yesterday. She enjoyed it very much. Should she continue to enjoy herself with me, perhaps you will have your Lavos-siphon sooner. The key to immortality is that much closer." Magus hesitated, something the Queen noticed.

"Yes, Prophet? What else? I'm pleased with the swift progress you're making on my daughter, but don't lie to me, ever." The last bit was said with a hiss, an underlying threat.

"Your Majesty, should you wish me what you ask...perhaps it would be more prudent to give the Princess more days off? It is hard for me to court her when she is only allowed one day off a week. I cannot make her love me if she only sees me as a friend for one day a week." There. The mage had said it. Now, to wait for mother-monster's answer.

The Queen tapped her nails on the edge of the chair, contemplating. She needed Schala to constantly pour magic into the machine, but the Prophet was right. If he were to succeed in his...endeavor...he certainly needed more time with Schala...

"Very well, Prophet. You are right, of course. However, I cannot allow her full days off. I will tell her that she will be allowed to spend half the day off, and the rest of it working on the machine. Every day, with her one full day gone from the machine. That should still give you plenty time to win her, Prophet." the Queen smiled. She wouldn't lose all of Schala's power this way, and the Prophet would still be able to try and get her with child.

Magus cursed inwardly. He had wanted the queen to say Schala could have three, four full days would give him plenty of time to tell her of his plans, to eventually reveal himself as Janus...but this was better, much better, than the way Schala was being treated now. At least this way she could get some rest if she needed it, spend time with his younger self, and, if he were lucky, his current self as well. His plan to take Schala with him all hinged on her being able to love and accept him for who and what he was. A monster, a murderer, a mage, a man, and her brother. Magus loved his sister, in every way possible, and he would do whatever it took make her his.