Sort of a stream-of-consciousness as Magus thinks back on his childhood while trapped in the middle ages. (Originally posted in 2006, but I still like parts of it.) Spoilers for Zeal, of course.


Losing contact with Schala was the one thing that had made Magus realize just how deep her influence on him had gone.

Falling through that time portal had rid Magus of Schala's 'influence' over him. He didn't lose the desperate need to see his sister, nor the fierce love that he had survived on for years, those remained strong even now. It was the layers of magical protection that she had wrapped around him that had failed to follow him on his jump through time.

Those protective spells must have been shredded somewhere along the way. They had fallen away so fast, and Janus, Magus remembered cynically that he had still been Janus then, had been so shocked and so scared by the sudden appearance of Ozzie's imps that his underdeveloped magic had burst forth all at once, with extremely violent results.

Ozzie had survived, hidden in his ice shield until Janus had exhausted himself. He had no experience and no focus then, and it hadn't taken long. Ozzie had taken the half-conscious boy home with him, not seeming to care about the offense of having his followers fried. The boy, after all, was obviously a dangerous Mystic. It had probably never even occurred to him that Janus might be human.

That had been the death of Janus, the end of his childhood, Magus realized. He hadn't given his real name. Even dazed and lost as he was, it had occurred to him that it would be dangerous to give any shred of truth to the creatures who suddenly surrounded him. At that moment he had become Magus.

Magus was sure that Schala had been the only thing that made it possible for him to hold on to his childhood. She had kept him safe by holding him back, making sure his magic was useless. She kept it coiled up and hidden and untested. Magus was sure he would have lost his childhood the moment his magic had developed, if not for her.

His earliest memories were all of Schala. He remembered the serious look in her eyes after their father had died. Had he known his father? He must have, but Magus couldn't remember his face. He remembered his mother becoming stern and serious and having no time for him, though that had been long before she had been lost to Lavos' madness.

But it was Schala that he remembered best. He remembered her kneeling beside him, her skirts spreading into a silver pool around her, reaching out her hands to welcome him. Magus remembered her robes with an odd clarity. The material was cool and slippery and silky, and it had been very comfortable to curl up in her lap while he was still young enough to do so. That material felt like it had been made with magic, as everything in Zeal felt faintly of magic, but there was nothing quite like the familiar tingle of Schala's magic.

"Come here, Janus," she would whisper, and because she sounded so worried for him, he had always come. Her hands were warm and her smile was kind and she was his only sister, so he had never hesitated in trusting her. She would lift him into her lap and Janus would feel secure.

"Here is a charm to keep you safe," she would tell him, stroking his hair. Janus would feel her magic then, trickling down through his scalp to spread out through his body and slowly settle into his bones. He had never doubted that this was a protection spell. It made him feel safe, hidden and self-contained. The most vital part of his soul was completely hidden from view. It made him feel invincible, as though no one could ever touch the secret bits of his soul that really mattered.

She had told their mother once that the charm was only because Janus was so active, and because he still could not float on his own if he fell. Janus thought that maybe the top bits could have been to protect him from a fall, since their mother accepted this. He knew the spells he felt under his skin were the true protection she had given him.

He had never doubted then that she meant only to protect him. It had never occurred to him that her protection might be the reason his own magic never surfaced. He had loved her unconditionally, and never doubted that what she did her best for him, if not for herself.

When Magus had first realized why his magic had come to him so suddenly, he had hated her for it. After all, hadn't he been shunned for never displaying any sort of magical gift? Hadn't he spent his childhood desperately wishing that some spark of magic, even a speck, would appear in him at last? Hadn't that been all his mother had ever wanted for him?

His anger at being sealed up had turned into a tireless fervor in his training. He had wanted nothing more than to show her what he could do with his powers free, never mind that he had no way to find her again.

He had wanted to become so powerful that no one would ever be able to control him again.

Control. That was what it all came down to in the end. It had taken Magus a long time to realize that. He had been so close to slipping completely under his mother's control when she started to lose herself to Lavos. Schala must have seen what was coming long before anyone else had any idea. She had shielded him, made it so that he wouldn't end up as a tool.

Once Magus realized what would have happened to him if his powers had developed in Zeal he had known why Schala had done what she did. She hadn't been sealing him up just so that she could keep her own privileged place, as he had actually convinced himself in a few painful months of childish rage. He had tried so hard to hate her for it that he had made himself sick at heart. He had never truly wanted to believe she would have betrayed him.

It was Ozzie that Magus actually had to thank for the revelation. It wasn't until he realized, in bitter fury, that he was being used by his teacher, that he started to understand what could have happened to him. Ozzie had absolutely no qualms about setting his pupil tasks that would advance only himself. Magus was, essentially, a tool for him.

Magus had to admit that Ozzie had been a good teacher, although he really had nothing to measure him against. He had taught Magus enough magical theory for Magus to control his own powers and to focus at last, though he found that he preferred lashing out at a wide range of enemies instead of focusing on a single one.

All of those teachings had been in the interest of Ozzie having a more powerful pawn at his disposal, since his own offensive power was limited. Magus had eventually realized that. He should have been able to gloat at that, knowing that he had surpassed his teacher so readily, but it reminded him too much of the way his mother had used Schala. He could not be content to follow Ozzie's lead forever.

Still, Ozzie's control was far less complete than his mother's would have been. He wasn't mad, or haunted by paranoia, he was simply overzealous and greedy. Magus knew he would be able to break free of that control without too bloody of a struggle.

Magus was convinced that sooner or later there would be no question of where the two of them stood in relation to one another. Magus would lead, and Ozzie would follow. For once in his life Magus would be the one in control.

Remembering how Schala had been used was what made him understand why she had done what she did. She had never lied to him, never meant to hurt him. She had hidden him and kept him safe, probably waiting for a time when she could train him herself without letting any taint of Lavos' power touch him.

With that understanding, Magus was no longer at war inside himself. He did still want to question Schala, to know why she couldn't have spirited him away, or trained him in secret, or at least let him know what was sleeping inside of him, but he no longer felt wronged. He found himself loving her even more, trying to make up for the lapse.

Magus wanted nothing more than a chance to guide Schala away from her fate. If only he could pull her free of Lavos' influence, then everything would be right. They would be on even ground. She had saved him by giving him a chance to master his own magic away from Lavos' influence. Magus wanted to save her in return. He didn't want the fact that she had given him a chance to grow strong in a new time to be in vain.

Life could be perfect, Magus was sure. They would be able to stand together against anything, both of them far too powerful to need saving from anything once their mother was no longer ruling Zeal in madness, breathing down both of their necks. They could even break Lavos' power over her. All of them could be free.

Only, there was no way back. Magus had never found a way. It seemed that the gate he had fallen through was not going to re-open for him, though he had tried several times to locate it again. It was because of Lavos that he was stranded here in this strange time, and apparently, Lavos had closed off his way back to Zeal.

Life could have been perfect if not for Lavos. Schala would never have sealed his powers away in the first place if Lavos hadn't driven their mother mad. Magus was sure she would have trained him herself, taught him to master his magic until they were perfect equals. . .

There was no use in thinking on what could never be. All Magus had now was revenge. Schala might not have lived on into the time he found himself in, but Lavos had. Lavos was still within his reach, still a foe he could unleash his rightful vengeance upon.

Then, once he had avenged himself, he could go on trying to fight his way back to Schala for the rest of his life.

"Come here, Janus." That voice that promised shelter, Magus could almost hear it. He could almost remember the feeling of gentle hands weaving magic over him, the most subtle of spells. "Here is a charm to keep you safe."

There was no Schala anymore, and so there was no Janus. His comfort and his childhood had both died the moment he was pulled through that gate. There was no one to save, and no one to protect.

Now there was only Magus, and there was only revenge.