January 24, 2012

Dancing With Death Part I

It was twilight. The last rays of the sun peeked over the horizon and rested on the ground. A pale yellow moon could be seen in the sky, illuminating the theater of war. A dark wind was fiercely blowing through the stands, chilling many of the contestants to the bone. The arena had a buzz of hushed conversation as the crowd filed in and took their seats. Today's fight pitted two formidable magicians against each other, and the crowd hoped it would showcase their skills just as the Gordon and Max fight had shown off what a gunfighter could do.

Magus stood alone in the center of the arena. Ganondorf had apparently not yet deemed them all worthy of his presence. Magus was resting on one knee, leaning on his scythe. He paid no heed to the unseen wind rushing around him. His eyes were closed, but his face bespoke intense concentration. He had been given every opportunity to study Ganondorf. The man's pointless brutality had reminded him of the worst of the mystics of his day.

He has a lust for power, but that is where his goals end. He has no use for power other than to destroy. Magus's soul burned as he thought of what Ganondorf had done. Ganondorf had destroyed another being with potential similar to his own, simply due to lack of restraint. Tidus had shown courage, power, and resolution-the qualities necessary to shape the world, if applied correctly. But he had been intimidated, and cut down before he was able to show what he was capable of.

It was like listening to a brilliant symphony, only to have the conductor die of a heart attack before you could hear the end. It was like watching the development of a mighty oak, only to have it be cut down before it could reach its prime. It would be like watching a fight like this one, only to have one of the fighters win by a cheap shot before it even truly began.

Tidus had reminded Magus of himself in some ways. Magus thought back to all that he had been. Trying to trace his life in any linear fashion was an exercise in futility. He was born over twelve thousand years before he first met Crono. They had first met each other on a night much like this one, on the top floor of his castle. The moon had shown brightly then too, silhouetting his caped form. He had fought Crono and his allies until both of them reached the brink of exhaustion. And then something unexpected had happened. Lavos chose that moment to respond to Magus's summons, and threw all them into the timestream.

Ironically, Crono's ill-timed fight may have saved his life. In Crono's own time, there was no record of Magus ever winning the war, but he was assumed to have been killed. The mystics gave up, demoralized by his loss. If Crono had not arrived when he did, Magus could only assume he would have challenged Lavos on his own. And failed. It would have been a fight for the ages, a chance to have his own pure revenge on the monster. But that chance had been taken from him, and he had been tossed away, hurled thousands of years into the past.

Twice in his life he had been thrown into the timestream without any control over his fate. The first trip came when his own mother used Lavos to send him away. She probably expected it to kill him. She had gone mad with power; she was beyond recognizing the consequences of her actions. The second trip sent him back to his own time, but before the fall of the kingdom of Zeal.

He had disguised himself as a prophet, and used his knowledge of the future, and his intimate knowledge of the events to follow to gain stature and influence. To accomplish his ends, he became a different person, until the time was right. But in doing so, he became conflicted with himself. More specifically, a past version of himself.

He had not always been Magus. Magus had been a construction to manipulate the mystics of his day. The brutes had needed a leader, he gave them one. But before he became the head of the army of magic-users, he had been Janus. A scared boy and the prince of Zeal. Magus had been willing to do anything to accomplish his goals. And his younger self had been willing to go just as far to defend those whom he saw as his friends.

He could have become someone much different if his life had not been stolen from him. He was shaped by circumstance, power, and a desire for vengeance. Tidus had seemed to him another example of potential stolen away. And the only use Ganondorf made of his existence was destroying those like Tidus. From what Magus had heard, Ganondorf had done far worse things than would even be allowed in the tournament held here. He only fought the weak, and killed those who had enough potential to be a threat. But tonight, he would learn to answer to his betters.

An explosion rocked the arena. A puff of smoke billowed from the spot opposite Magus. Ganondorf had chosen that moment to arrive. He had teleported in by some magical spell. An evil grin spread across his face as he gazed at Magus. The crowd cheered at his impressive entrance. It was easy to see whom they favored already.

Idiots. Power is not to be found in appearances. And the respect of fools is worthless, Magus thought. Ganondorf raised a gloved hand at him in a mocking gesture. The truly powerful have no need for a show. Power does not exist to be flaunted. His own pride shall doom him.

Magus raised himself up straight and leveled his cold gaze at the other man. They were evenly matched for height. Soon everyone there would know if they were evenly matched in magical ability as well.


Link raced into the arena, trying to grab a seat near the front. The unusual scheduling of the fight today had messed up his schedule. Ganondorf was going to dispose of his last victim before Link had his chance to destroy him. Link's brow furrowed. The warlock must not be allowed to defeat him. If Ganondorf won the tournament... it would be horrific for everyone. Any price was worth preventing the dark magician from taking what he wanted.

For now though, Link could only watch another fighter fall. But he still had to be there, to see Ganondorf in action. The better he understood how the dark wizard fought, the better his chances of winning. Fox had proved that much to him. He smiled to himself. Perhaps his last match had done him some good.

Crono gestured to him a few seats away. The spiky haired warrior had saved him a seat. He was sitting beside another spiky haired fighter, Cloud. Link took the empty seat to Crono's right. "Thanks," he muttered.

"No problem," Crono said. He was rubbing his hands in anticipation as he watched the fighters. "This oughta be good, you can count on Magus to make a battle interesting."

Link had to wonder at that. "You know that guy?"

"Yeah, pretty much." Crono waved down at Magus, and received only silence as his reply. Crono shrugged. "He's good, sorry about you having to fight him later."

Link had to laugh at that one. The red haired fighter was amusing, that was for sure. Cloud and Crono were staring at him with puzzled expressions. Link regained control of himself and made his voice as serious as he could.

"I don't care how skilled your friend is, he's not going to get to fight me next round. Ganondorf is going to slaughter him. There's only one warrior destined to beat him, and that's me."

Crono shook his head and shrugged. "I'm sure Ganondorf is pretty strong..."

"Of course he's strong!" Link interrupted. "He just can't be beaten. He has the Triforce of power. He ravaged Hyrule for years. Only a warrior like me can beat him." Link pointed to the Master Sword knowingly.

Crono shrugged again. "I still wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now."

"Whatever," Link muttered. Apparently he'd have to wait for the fight to prove his point.

Link relaxed into his chair. Ganondorf looked impressive out on the battlefield. His fiery red hair was a stark contrast to Magus's more mellow, long blue hair. Ganondorf was decked out in full armor, from his head to his toe. Cast iron boots and gloves protected his feet and hands. Jewels were encrusted all over his uniform, symbolizing the power which the man inside bore. All that was exposed of him was his head, and that showed his confidence even more. A sinister smile was gazing at Magus. Link could almost feel the power Ganondorf held, just waiting to be unleashed onto the hapless magician. Magus wore a red cape, and simple light tunic that left his upper arms exposed. He held a scythe in his right hand.

He's relying on that physical weapon? Now that's just sad. Link breathed a sigh of anticipation. This was going to be good to watch. He had to see if Ganondorf had improved as much as he had since they last fought.


The dark wind began to circle through the center of the arena, like a miniature whirlwind. Ganondorf looked up at it and laughed. "Heh, the wind, it's blowing..."

Magus nodded his head. It was a familiar omen. "The black wind howls. Death is in the air. One of us is going to perish here."

Ganondorf laughed again. "Ah, so he admits it! Your fate has already been written, wizard. My destiny lies in the next round."

Magus cocked his head to one side and looked at Ganondorf. "You know, I've never been a big fan of destiny."

Ganondorf raised a gloved fist. "Then you must learn to accept your fate. This arena shall be your tomb. The last few minutes of your life will be the most glorious you have ever experienced, for you shall get to experience the most powerful force in existence firsthand. Prepare yourself!"

Magus smiled, and raised his scythe. "Oh, I am. I have lived my whole life dancing with death. Are you prepared for the void?"

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