Janus of Zeal shivered as he reached the top of yet another hill, wrapping his cloak more tightly about him in an attempt to block out the violent cold. The effort was – of course – futile, just as it always was. He would have to stop soon, if only for long enough to melt the frost that coated his face. Looking around him as he trudged through the deep snow that covered the land, he figured he could go about ten more minutes. Then it would take him at least an half an hour to get a fire burning out on the frozen tundra that was the world in the year 11,980 B.C. But he was used to it. He’d been out here searching the frozen wastes for nearly 15 years, and a little winter storm would not best him today. He couldn’t die until he found her. Schala…
Janus continued to trudge on, thinking of Schala. What would he say to her when he found her? If he found her… he shook the thought of “if” away. There was only the matter of “when”. Schala couldn’t die! Not yet… Not until she’d cured him of his self-loathing and hatred. No, she had to be somewhere, living in a… cabin or something, here on the Earthbound Continent. She had to be.
Janus shook himself from his thoughts as he realized that he couldn’t feel his feet. Looking down, he marveled at how they continued to move on, seemingly without his commands. Seeing several dead trees nearby, he willed himself to move towards them. Amazingly, his numb feet replied, carrying him to them with surprising speed. He forced himself to busy himself by ripping dead branches from the trees and piling them in open, careful to keep the snow off of them. As he did so, he wondered why he was out here. Finding Schala alive out here in the barrens of Earth was a long shot. But she wasn’t anywhere else! She couldn’t be anywhere else! He’d looked everywhere, back in those days fifteen years ago, before this march across the world. And Janus knew that she couldn’t be dead. That simply wasn’t a possibility.
Janus shook himself from his thoughts once again, seeing that he had made a pile of wood sufficient to burn. He found himself retreating inward more often these days, and it scared him. What if I lose myself in my own mind? What would happen to Schala then? He thought. He forced himself not to think about it, instead going into the complex hand motions necessary to cast fire. As he finished them, he laughed out loud at his current state. He didn’t even watch as the flames began to lick at the icy wood before him, for he had retreated inward to his private world of introspection.
Every day, he did the same thing. An unchanging routine. He marched east across the tundra until he came to the ocean, at which point he’d go south for about a mile, then go back west. In this way he had swept about half of the continent that had been resurfacing for years. Through all of this, he’d seen no trace of any form of life, much less that of his sister. But still, some sort of denial controlled his mind, refusing to let him be anything but optimistic about his chances. It wasn’t that he felt he had a good chance of finding Schala – for he didn’t – it was simply that he would not have it any other way. Long ago, he had convinced himself that finding Schala would change him back to the person he had once been. It had since been his only reason to live. 15 years ago, he could have held onto his hate of Lavos, and often had at the time. Now, with Lavos dead… Schala was his only hope to regain his long-lost life.
Janus shook his head violently, and watched as snow fell from his face. He looked around him, and saw that it was now night. His fire had burned out long ago, and there was no trace that it had ever been there. He wasn’t cold, though. For some reason, the howling of the wind made him feel strangely warm. He decided he probably needed to get going, so he looked down, trying to find his feet. He thought it was rather odd that he should have to look for his feet, but shrugged the feeling away as he saw them. He then proceeded to will himself forward. At first he didn’t move, so he tried to emphasize his wish by pointing. However, he found that he couldn’t bend his numb fingers. Before he could wonder at this very long, though, his feet got the message and began moving him forward at a relatively steady pace. I wonder what’s wrong with me, he thought. He started to ponder over the matter, but realized that thinking had gotten him into this state, and thus decided not to worry over it any further.
Unfortunately, he had decided too late. When he next became aware of his surroundings, he found himself lying face-down on the ground. He had apparently been there a while, for the snow had melted all around him. Apparently, in his stupor, he had still managed to use enough magic to keep him alive. He couldn’t feel any part of his body, though, and realized that couldn’t be good. He somehow managed to open his eyes, and found that he lay against something purple. He tried to push himself up, but he was too weak. It was all he could do to just lift up his head and see the face of his sister, perfectly preserved by the ice and snow, lying dead underneath him. With his last breath, Janus cried out in torment and rage, screaming at whatever cruel god had sought to taunt him in this way. His face then fell back to the ground, and Janus, Prince of Zeal, died, his long-dead sister just beneath him.
Janus had found Schala. But it did not matter.
And Lavos, who still lived in those times, laughed.