Heart of Darkness

Chapter 3


            The ruins weren’t all that far from the town. In fact, the entrance to the caverns was right there on the beach, and tourists walked past without a thought. If one never stopped to ask what was within, one would never have known that there was once a race of demi-humans that were reported to live within the walls of those caverns.

            Lina’s purpose of visiting the ruins, of course, was treasure. And where once, Zelgadis would have searched for a cure, now he was admiring the technical architecture. The entirety of the subterranean caverns were supported by architectural achievements and not magic. Zelgadis found them fascinating. Lina was bored to tears.


            He was busy sketching out a particularly intriguing archway when he heard the silence that usually meant that Lina was up to no good, or had found something and was nose-deep in it. Either way often meant trouble.

            Putting pen and paper down, he stood, brushed the dust off of his black pants, and headed deeper into the ruins, all the while thinking that he really should have packed some of his old tan pants for the trip. It was going to be hell to get the dust out of this pair.

            Far off, down the hall, he could see the eldritch light of her magic, and he used it to guide himself down some nearly invisible stairs and into the room where he could see her flopped out on the floor, poking at some set of runes carved into the stone. Raising an eyebrow, he walked over to the sorceress. “What have you found?”

            Lina tapped a rune with her fingertip. “Well, this is very similar to the language used in the Claire Bible. There are a few changes… but I think this was a temple to someone known as…” She traced a few symbols with her fingers as she read them. “The Demon God Grau.” She paused, looking up at Zelgadis. Grau? You don’t think that it means Grausherra? As in Dynast?”

            Zelgadis folded his arms and considered. “It’s entirely possible. If that’s the case, what does it mean?”

            “Well, we know that up to a certain point in time, Dynast was a fairly influential force. But after the battle with Zanafaar, Dynast pretty much vanished from our records.  Beyond that, there’s very little that we know.”

            Zelgadis sighed, rolling his eyes. “And that’s a lot of help.”

            Lina shrugged, looking back at the runes. “Maybe that’s where this comes in. Maybe this is where he was before, and there’s more to his history here…” She continued to read, paused, re-read a section and then looked up at Zelgadis. “I can’t concentrate with you standing there!”

            It took a great deal of self-control to not roll his eyes again, but Zelgadis managed to smirk instead, and as he turned back to the hallway, he cast a light spell so that he could see his way back. “Don’t start messing with too much, Lina. Try to keep the magic to a minimum, okay? We don’t know what’s down here. Remember Ishii.”

            It had been her magic that had inadvertently started the cataclysm in Shigai no Ishii. They’d been lucky that Amelia had been able to overcome her fear and counter the rampant black magic. She didn’t have Amelia around now. She had Zelgadis. And, when she gave it a passing thought, she couldn’t imagine much that would present a challenge to him.

            Granted, she didn’t give it too much thought. If she had…


            There was a loud clatter, and the redhead looked up from the runes on the floor rather irritably. “Honestly! How can a person work with all that noise?” She scrambled to her feet, the eldritch ball of light following her as she moved to the doorway. “Zelgadis…?”

            A quick glance about the hallway showed it empty, so she walked carefully over the broken floor-stones and looked up the stairwell. “Zel…?”

            There wasn’t an answer, so she climbed the stairs and froze when the hallway came into sight.


            Zelgadis was crumpled on the floor, his stepladder turned sideways beside him.

            With a little cry, Lina darted up the last few stairs, moving to his side with fear in her throat. At her touch, he stirred, opening his eyes and looking at her in embarrassment. “I think I reached too far for the ladder to hold me.”

            She sighed in angry relief. “Why didn’t you levitate?” He sat up slowly, accepting her offered hand for stability.

            “I don’t want to use too much of my magic down here, Lina. We don’t know what might react to our spells. I have a bad enough feeling about this place as it is. I don’t want to do anything that might draw attention to our presence if there is something lurking down here,” he replied testily.

            Lina sighed. “Zel… I know you’re worried, and I know that you’re concerned about the possible limits of your abilities… but you fought Xellos one-on-one and managed to win.”

            Zelgadis slammed his hand onto the floor, making Lina jump. “That’s not it, Lina! I was as good as dead for three days after that battle. What happens to you? What if I overextend myself again while fighting off something and I end up cataleptic for another three days? What happens to you while I’m out of it? I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about you!”

            This profession of concern left a strange uncertainty in the air, and after a few moments of silence, Zelgadis sighed. “It’s late. Let’s go get some food. We can come back in the morning and pick up where we left off.”

            Lina nodded, and allowed the ball of light at her shoulder to dissipate as they both stood and headed for the entrance.