Perchance to Dream
Zelgadis stepped into the library and looked at the fallen books in dismay. Lina really had a penchant for overreacting when her sister was involved. Shaking his head, he picked an area and began to fish through the books for Lina.
He started to throw books here and there, but stopped when somehow all the books rose into the air. In abject surprise, he turned and saw Amelia standing in the doorway. Her expression concerned him, and he turned to see where Amelia’s gaze was focused.
Lina’s cloak was on the floor.
She was vaguely aware that she wasn’t under the oppressive weight of the books that she had knocked over in the library. In fact, as she slowly came back to awareness, she had a pretty good suspicion that she wasn’t even in the library anymore.
She cracked open an eye and looked.
She certainly wasn’t in the library.
Her other eye opened, and she scowled as she recognized the figure across the unfamiliar room.
He was dressed rather elegantly, his suit a deeper purple than his hair, a white shirt, and the cravat at his neck only a shade or two lighter than his hair. His eyes were open, a glass of wine at his lips as he looked off into the distance. If she didn’t know that it was Xellos, she’d be impressed. As it was, she was only pissed.
She sat up, realizing that she had been lying on a smallish purple velvet couch… something Amelia had once called a ‘loveseat.’ The implications were disturbing, and she stood up rather abruptly. When she did, of course, his attention turned to her and he set the wine down, rising to his feet.
“Why Lina, how nice of you to join me. Would you care for some wine? It’s Zefielian.”
Lina glared at Xellos, crimson eyes narrowed. “I don’t recall joining you willingly, Xellos. And no, I don’t want wine. What I want is to go back to Saillune. Now.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Lina. You see, you’re a guest here,” Xellos replied, approaching, his eyes once again closed in his offhanded way of seeing without bothering to use his eyes.
Lina folded her arms. “Damn funny way of treating a guest, Xellos. I don’t ever recall guests being held against their will where I grew up. We called them captives.”
Xellos grinned as he walked up to her. “What a novel idea… a captive audience! Now then,” his eyes opened with an intense violet stare. “I finally have you.”
Lina snorted, not showing the unsettling ripple that shimmied down her back at his stare. “I hardly think so, Xellos. Just because I am here, held against my will, doesn’t mean that I am yours.”
Xellos reached out, his fingers caressing her cheek for a moment before she stepped back and raised a hand.
“Don’t touch me again, Xellos.”
The Mazoku leered at her. “Or what, Lina? You’ll find that your magic has no effect here. You deal mainly in the black arts, with minor shamanism… and since you hardly have the same power as Garv, your magics will simply be absorbed by the ether that exists here.”
Lina frowned, casting a fireball directly at him.
Uhoh… he’s right. I could be in some real serious trouble…she thought.
A knowing grin formed on his face. “You see…?” He reached out to her.
“Damnit!” Zelgadis cursed.
They were standing in the Royal Hall, having left the servants to pick up the books in the library.
Amelia looked to the once-chimera who paced the hallway with Lina’s cloak crumpled tightly in his hands. “We don’t even know if he truly has taken her, Zelgadis… and I have no way to contact him, not that I really want to… he just always showed up…”
“Without her cloak… Lina doesn’t have these talismans in her epaulets.” Sylphiel pointed to the red orbs on the shoulders of the cloak. “That means that her magic won’t be as strong, and she can’t maintain that many spells without them. And since she doesn’t have much in the field of white magics…” Sylphiel said quietly, not wanting or needing to finish the statement. They all knew that Lina would have a damnably hard time fighting off the Trickster Priest Mazoku.
“I wonder what this can do, Zel… do you think we could find him with his staff?” Jedah asked, contemplating the staff.
“I don’t know. But if she’s-!” Zelgadis came to a halt, turned and ran out of the door. Long used to following someone acting on a hunch, Amelia and Sylphiel followed, Amelia grabbing Jedah by the wrist and dragging him with her.
They followed Zelgadis into Lina’s room, and Zelgadis started looking in various drawers. “Be wearing it, Lina… please be wearing it…”
“Wearing what, Zelgadis?” Amelia asked as she looked under the pillows for something she didn’t even know. “What are you looking for?”
“The necklace… was she wearing it?” Zelgadis asked, fishing around in one of Lina’s pouches. He pulled something white and flimsy out of a pouch, looked at it, and then hastily stuffed it back into the pouch with a funny look on his face.
“I think she was… I saw a gold chain at her neck,” Naga said from the doorway, frowning at the chaos in Lina’s room. “Do you always ransack her things like this? If she comes in here and sees you, you’re all as good as dead.”
“She’s been taken by Xellos, Gracia…” Amelia said as she searched in another pouch. At least she knew that she was looking for a necklace now.
“Oh for goodness sake! I go to get Amelia a drink and the whole place falls apart!” Naga threw up her hands and shook her head. “I’m pretty sure I saw her wearing it when Jedah took Xellos’ staff.”
Zelgadis stopped searching and turned to face Naga. “Absolutely certain?”
Naga pondered. “No. But I’m pretty sure.”
Zelgadis sighed. “It’s better than nothing, I suppose. Jedah, hand me the staff.” He extended his hand for it.
“What are you going to do, Zel?” Jedah asked as he passed the staff over. “Can I help? Are we going to go kick some Mazoku tails?”
“No, Jedah.” Zelgadis suppressed a sigh. He’s entirely too eager. Was I ever like that? He closed his eyes, dismissing the thought. With a surge of his own power, the blood-red sphere in the staff began to glow.
If she took another step backwards, she’d end up sitting on that loveseat, and she certainly didn’t want to do that with Xellos anywhere near her. But he was uncomfortably close, and she felt a strange sort of warmth at her chest… as if… No! I cannot possibly be attracted to this… thing!
She reached up to that warmth, starting in astonishment as she felt it physically. A moment of trepidation passed before she realized that it was coming from the pendant that Zelgadis had given her. The pendant! What is it doing?
Xellos reached out to touch her again, but there was a brilliant blue flare, and he jerked back as if burned, eyes snapping to hers in surprise.
It’s Zelgadis! He’s protecting me through the pendant! If that’s the case, then there’s a chance that I can get through this! A warmth spread through her, and suddenly she felt his awareness. It was just like when she had been caught in the spell of Rezo’s, only this time, instead of her going to Zelgadis, she felt him there with her.
A blue hand reached over Xellos’ shoulder, tearing the Mazoku away from Lina, and she gasped as she saw Zelgadis standing there in chimera form. But even more surprising was the fact that Xellos was clutching his shoulder and screaming.
Crystalline blue eyes turned to Lina, and the rough voice of what she now recognized as the Mazoku aspect grated on her ears. “Run.”
Lina didn’t need to be told twice, and she took off out of the room, throwing the door open explosively, and leaving the screaming Mazoku and the chimera-mazoku behind.
In Lina’s room, the observers had no idea what it was that Zelgadis was doing, but they could tell that it was taking a vast amount of control that he had not previously exhibited. Did it have to do something with his human appearance now?
The staff flared brilliantly, power flowing into the bloodstone. Amelia watched in silent amazement as her once companion demonstrated powers that she couldn’t begin to comprehend.
Sylphiel gasped as she watched Zelgadis. He wasn’t, he couldn’t! Is this what Lina tried to tell me about the other night? Is this why she left?
Anger filled him, and he felt the Mazoku side of him straining against the tight control he held against it. A moment of indecision came over him, and then with a firm conviction, he relinquished himself to the wave of power, releasing the Mazoku from internal confinement.
There was a brilliant flare of magic, and when vision cleared, both Zelgadis and the staff were gone.
Lina hated to admit it, even to herself, but she was lost. Worse yet, she was doubly lost, as she had absolutely no idea where she was to begin with. Stumbling along in darkened hallways gave her no illusions of being in control of the situation. In fact, she was all too aware that she was still at the mercy of the Mazoku.
It wasn’t a situation that she enjoyed thinking about.
She turned down a darkened hallway, fingers trailing along the wall. The tactile confirmation of the wall’s presence was somewhat reassuring, but she wasn’t entirely certain what the wall was made of.
It didn’t matter, as long as she could find a way out.
If she could find a way out.
Her lighting spells still weren’t working, and she was as blind as she could get in this forsaken place, and if she got her hands on that damned Mazoku, she’d do her dead level best to kill him.
But how could she fight him in his own territory? Without any of her magics?
She continued to wander along the hallway, wondering what to do next.
Sylphiel, Amelia, Naga, and Jedah stood in the room and stared at the empty space where Zelgadis had been. Finally, Amelia ventured the question. “Where do you think he went?”
Naga shook her head in silence. She’d seen a lot of things in her adventures, but never a grown man vanish in a wave of power quite as strong as that one.
Jedah didn’t need to think about it. “He’s gone after Lina. She’s in trouble, and he’s gone to find that Xellos.”
Sylphiel sighed. What she had sensed was dangerous indeed… and if he had gone off like that… there was no guarantee that he’d come back. She opened her mouth, but thought the better of saying anything until she’d thought it out a bit more.
As Sylphiel changed her mind, Amelia sighed. “He really loves her… we should help him… but how?” The younger princess asked.
A voice at he doorway caught the group’s attention. “What happened?” Gourry had stuck his head in the room.
Sylphiel shook her head. “Zelgadis… disappeared.”
Lina sighed and came to a stop. What could she hope to accomplish by wandering in the depths of a demented Mazoku's realm? Precisely what she was accomplishing: absolutely nothing. With fire in her eyes, she turned around and began to march herself right back towards the irritating Trickster Priest. She might not be able to destroy him, but she'd rather go down fighting than running. And besides... she wanted to know what Zelgadis was doing.
What's wrong with me? Why did I run? I never panic... at least... I didn't used to. I've got a bad feeling about all of this... and somehow I've got to figure it out before someone gets killed...
She was lost enough in her thoughts that she almost walked by the figure without realizing it. But some base instinct took over, and she came to a cringing halt, turning in dread.
Luna Inverse was leaning quietly against the wall, arms folded, eyes hidden behind her bangs. When Lina started to stammer, Luna put out her hand and rested it on her cringing sister's shoulder. Lina held her breath, and somehow knew that under her hair, her older sister had opened her eyes. There was a sickening tug, and the world went even darker than before.
Gourry entered the room completely, looking around at the confusion and concern. "So Zelgadis just vanished...?"
Naga's reply was dry. "It sure seems that way... who is that?"
The waitress set her unconscious charge on the bed. Unseen eyes glanced at everyone, then she rested her hand on the hilt of her formidable sword that was incongruously placed at the waist of her waitress uniform. A very faint smile touched the light pink lips, and the figure vanished.
Gourry's voice broke the stunned silence. "Wow! That was the Cepheid Knight! That was Luna Inverse!" For once in his life, Gourry had no doubts that he was right. After all the tales that he’d managed to pry out of Lina over the years…
Amelia blinked. "That... Luna Inverse..." the last name suddenly clicked in Amelia's mind. "That was Lina's sister?!"
The figure on the bed suddenly balled up and began to shake uncontrollably. "I'm sorry, Luna! Please forgive me! I didn't mean to do it!" It was decidedly Lina's voice, and only Lina had that reaction to Luna Inverse.
Sylphiel walked to the bed, resting her hand on Lina and casting a healing spell. "Lina... it's okay... she only brought you back here... You're in your room." It was clear that somehow Sylphiel understood the inherent fear that Lina had for her sister. "She's gone now... what happened to you?"
Lina opened her eyes and looked around. She was in her room... and Sylphiel was there beside her. A reality check later, and she had to admit that Luna was nowhere to be sensed. Ever so slowly the anxiousness crept out of her, and she sat up to look at Amelia, Naga, Jedah, and Gourry standing in the room. "How did I get here...?"
Jedah bounced up to the bedside and looked at Lina with wide eyes. "The Cepheid Knight brought you! You are so incredibly lucky to have the Cepheid Knight as your sister!!!" There was no denying the awe and envy in his voice.
Lina stared at him. "Lucky?" Her voice took on a tinge of shrill. "You wanna tell me how growing up with her makes me lucky?" She made to lunge at Jedah, but Sylphiel held Lina back. "Let me at him, Sylphiel, I'll show him how lucky I was... having the Cepheid Knight for a sister..."
Jedah prudently hid behind Gourry and peered around the blonde at the struggling redhead. "Does she always get like this?"
Gourry nodded sagely. "Every time anyone mentions her sister. One time she even buried herself over a simple note that her sister sent."
Naga lost her patience and rapped Lina on the head smartly. "Get over it, Lina. This isn’t the time for this mess. Now Zelgadis is missing, and we have to find him."
Lina sat up, away from Sylphiel and looked at Naga, rubbing her head. "Zel's missing? How'd that happen?" She shook her head. "You didn't have to hit so hard, Naga..."
Sylphiel looked to the others for a moment, then sighed. "I felt a strange power from Zelgadis right before he vanished."
"The same power that he fought Xellos with that day..." Amelia said quietly. "He changed... somehow... became something else..."
Lina's blood ran cold. "Became something else...?" She echoed Amelia.
Amelia couldn't look at Lina. "It felt like he had turned into... into a Mazoku..."
The world was dark, but a voice was talking to him. It was Rezo's voice, he knew it without having to think it out. He felt the things that Rezo was talking about, felt the understanding washing over him. No, he was not a Mazoku. No, he was not a Human. He wasn't even a Golem. And yet... he was all of them. Chimera. Construct. He hated it.
He'd been learning to live with it... slowly, painfully. But he was learning. Wasn't he?
He opened his eyes to a strangely quiet sky. Stars shimmered in the sky, and the sounds of water lapping at shore caught his attention. Where was he? How had he gotten here? He sat up, Xellos' staff across his lap, and looked out across the water. Casting a glance up to the sky, the stars weren't in any clearly recognizable patterns.
But there was someone nearby, and he turned to look and see who it was.
Grabbing the staff, he leapt to his feet and glared. "Xellos. What have you done with Lina?"
The Mazoku slipped off of his perch and turned to Zelgadis. "That is a secret."
The dragons' blood talisman in the staff burst into life. "I asked you a question. Answer it," Zelgadis snarled.
Xellos opened his eyes to look at Zelgadis, and there was no emotion within them, no hint of the annoying personality. "She isn't here anymore. Go back to the Palace." He lifted a gloved hand, and Zelgadis felt magic building up around him.
"What do you mean she isn't here anymore, Xellos? Answer me for once!" The staff was being pulled away from him.
"She simply isn't. The Cepheid Knight took her away." Xellos' voice was deathly quiet. "Go away, Zelgadis. Let me die in peace."
It hit Zelgadis with a wave, both the shock at Xellos' words, and the spell that was sending him away from here.
What the hell happened?