Heart of Darkness

Chapter 1


She stood there, shell-shocked. He was gone. Just like that. Gone.

            The hallway was dark, and she staggered back into the little room they had shared that had seemed so cozy, so safe. Now, it felt empty, foreboding. His presence was missing, and it chilled her to the bone. She made it to the edge of the bed, collapsing onto the mattress, and the reality of the situation hit her.

            She was alone.

            She was stranded in the Outer Continent.

            And, for all that she was, for all the powers she had in the world, she was terrified.


            Far away, on the other side of the world, two eyes snapped open, and a young man sat up in his bed. Something had happened, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. It had to do with his brother, and how he knew that, only he would know. But he had very little doubts that Something Had Happened, and no small amount of damage control was about to become his current job.

            Damn. Just when he had started to enjoy his vacation.

            He whispered a word, and suddenly he wasn’t alone in the room. A silken voice replied in a query. A question was asked; an answer was given. He didn’t like the answer, and he glowered as he climbed out of the bed and pulled a pair of black pants on, tucking his shirt into the waistband.

            He grabbed his cloak off of the nearby chair and flipped it around himself, vanishing out of the room.


            The room where he arrived was dark. It took a moment for him to reorient himself, to sense the layout, and as he did, a voice filtered into his awareness. It was a choked and pathetic little sound that threatened to break his heart. That voice, which had been so powerful in his ears not too long ago, had no business being that… broken.

Cursing himself for being right yet again, he moved across the room, towards the voice, whispering her name, bumping up against what felt like the edge of a bed.

            He heard her choke, then pause, and he heard her gasp his name in return. Her hand flashed past his, and he caught it, pulling her to him, hugging her tightly because he knew that was what she needed. The fear radiating from her was enough to feed several Mazoku, and he wondered absently where a certain one of them was.

            She clung to him, sobbing, unable to form words. But he knew. He knew it all. He could sense it. Drawing his cloak around her, he gave her little words of comfort before he cast a spell and they vanished from the room.


            It was entirely too early for someone to be knocking on the door to her room.

            Amelia stumbled out of the bed, wobbling on unsteady feet as she padded across the lushly carpeted floor of her room and opened the door to blink blearily at Jedah, who was incongruously fully dressed for three in the morning. The look on his face was enough to bring her fully awake, and she looked at him, blinking. “Jedah? What’s happened?” A beat later, and she saw that he was carrying a seemingly unconscious Lina Inverse. “Lina?!” She opened the door fully, following Jedah as he walked in and gently placed Lina onto the bed.

            He tugged at Lina’s gown to straighten it to her feet, looking at her for a moment before turning to Amelia. “I had to spell her to sleep. Something has happened to Zelgadis… I felt the shock all the way to here.”

            Amelia’s eyes immediately turned to the silent redhead lying on her bed. “Oh no… do you have any idea what happened?” She moved to the bed now, an almost protective hand resting on Lina’s shoulder. Even through the sleep-spell, she could feel the redheaded sorceress’ shock and pain.

            “I have a good idea, but we need to hear it from Lina to confirm. Amelia… this could be a lot more dangerous than anything that anyone here has faced before…” And may also reveal some truths that I didn’t want revealed yet… he thought.

            Amelia nodded as she looked to Lina. “It happened in the Outer Continent… Jedah…” She looked to the youth, concern in her eyes. “Can you tell where he is? You once said that no matter where he went… you could find him…”

            He didn’t want to meet her eyes, didn’t want her to see what might slip out from behind the carefully constructed mask. “I…” he sighed and looked away, shaking his head. “I have a vague impression. But I know that it’s not anywhere that I can go, Amelia.”

            Amelia sighed and nodded. “I think we ought to let her sleep… she’s not likely to go back to sleep easily once she wakes…” She reached across and pulled the sheets up across the sleeping sorceress.

            Jedah smiled gently. “You’re so kind, Amelia. Take my room tonight, and I’ll stay here to make sure that she stays safe.”

            Amelia turned, looking to Jedah for a moment, searching his eyes. A quick smile flashed across her lips, and she reached out and caressed his cheek lightly. It always made him blush, and true to form, he blushed again. “Send for me when she wakes, no matter what time.”

            She won’t wake until I let her… “I’ll do that. Now you go get some sleep,” Jedah reached out and gently turned Amelia to the door. He squeezed her shoulders and watched her slip out of the room, quietly closing the door behind her, as if she might wake Lina.

            He sighed and turned back to the sleeping sorceress. She wouldn’t wake unless he broke the spell, and he hated to lie to Amelia. But there was no way that Lina would sleep on her own after what he suspected had happened. And she needed to sleep. The longer he could keep her sleeping, the longer she could heal, and the longer he had to find out what precisely had happened.

            He sat by the bed, looking at her still form, and absently brushed a strand of her hair out of her face as he thought over what he had sensed. The feeling that had woken him was not unlike the feeling that hung around the Mazoku Xellos.

            If that was the case, then they were all in a lot of trouble.