Amelia sighed dreamily, leaning
into Jedah as she watched Lina turn and kiss a fairly startled Zelgadis.
“It’s so sweet… don’t they just make the perfect couple?”
Jedah grinned as he watched his brother caught between surprise and embarrassment as Lina kissed him. “Yeah, isn’t it great?”
Amelia lifted her head and looked to Jedah. “Jedah…? I don’t… bother you… do I?” Worry flickered in her blue eyes as she searched his eyes.
Jedah looked to her, turning on the full force of the Greywords charm (which was something Zelgadis never did, largely because it had such a profound effect on women.) “Of course you don’t bother me, Amelia! How could someone who burns with the fire of Love and Justice such as you be a bother?”
Little stars formed in Amelia’s eyes, and she clasped her hands together and looked at him enraptured. “Oh, Jedah!”
A slipper smacked Amelia across the back of her head. “Oi, oi. Take it somewhere else, you two. Zelgadis and I were here first.”
Amelia looked over to see Lina laughing softly as she stood just inside Zelgadis’ personal space. She suddenly realized what Lina and Zelgadis had seen… and while it was okay for Amelia to see Lina and Zelgadis being sweet together, it was another thing entirely when it was yourself being seen being sweet with someone.
Zelgadis looked quietly to Jedah, the two girls unable to read what was in his eyes. Jedah, however, had grown up being able to read Zelgadis like a book, and therefore saw the quiet approval and gentle warning: Don’t hurt her.
Jedah’s smile in return was equally as vocal.
Lina and Amelia stepped off
to the side, watching the two brothers. Lina leaned into Amelia. “I’ve
heard that close siblings can talk without saying a word, but this is just
amazing. Do you think they’ve even noticed that we’ve moved?”
Amelia shook her head slowly. “No… I don’t think so…”
Lina sighed. “Unbelievable.”
Zelgadis blinked away from
his silent conversation with Jedah. The girls were gone. As it crossed
his face, Jedah looked around sheepishly. The both of them had missed it
completely. But where had they gone?
“It’s all your fault, Zelgadis,” Jedah quipped as he turned to look for Amelia in the hallway behind him.
“My fault? Why is everything always my fault, Jedah? You’re old enough to take responsibility for not seeing Amelia walk off,” Zelgadis grumbled as he looked for Lina.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t see you keeping an eye on Lina, either. I’m going downstairs to look,” Jedah said with a grin as he walked off towards the stairs.
Zelgadis sighed. He’d never win with Jedah. The boy was just too damned cute.
Lina and Amelia sat in the
drawing room laughing at the two they had left behind. Sylphiel overheard,
and walked in with a curious expression. “What happened?”
Lina laughed as she explained it to Sylphiel, who started to smile. “Mister Zelgadis loves his brother very much, Miss Lina. Those two are possibly the closest siblings I have ever seen. They’re closer than I was with my brother.”
Lina blinked. “You have a brother, Sylphiel? I didn’t know that. He wasn’t in Sairag…”
Sylphiel shook her head. “No… he’s older than I am by several years, and moved away early. We occasionally write… but he is married and happy, so I don’t bother him.”
Amelia’s head tilted. “You don’t get along, do you, Sylphiel?” The question was asked much softer than it sounded.
Sylphiel sighed, looking off into the distance. “I’m afraid that I was more of a nuisance to him than anything else. An apprentice swordsman doesn’t want his younger sister clinging to him all the time.”
“Then your brother wasn’t appreciative of his sister, Sylphiel.”
Sylphiel turned as Lina and Amelia looked up to see Zelgadis standing in the doorway. He walked into the room and looked at the Cleric. “Jedah may have driven me nuts as we were growing up, and on occasion, still tries his best to do so. However, he is my little brother, and I still love him very much.”
The moment was completely shattered when Jedah flung himself into the room and caught Zelgadis around the neck in a gleeful hug. Zelgadis staggered under the sudden weight for a moment, and then looked to Sylphiel, completely deadpan. “As I said, still tries his best.”
All three girls started to laugh, and Jedah peered around Zelgadis. “What?”
Sylphiel shook her head, laughing. “Jedah, you’re a very lucky boy, do you know that?”
Jedah let go of Zelgadis, landing on his own feet, and grinned. “Yeah, Zelgadis is just the coolest brother anyone could have.”
This time, Zelgadis blushed. “Cut it out, Jedah.”
Lina snickered quietly, and Zelgadis shot her a look. “And not you too.”
In a near-perfect imitation of Amelia, Lina clasped her hands and forced stars to appear in her eyes. “Oh, Zelgadis… you’re just too much for us!” She false-swooned against Amelia and everyone but Zelgadis burst into more laughter.
Zelgadis only sighed. Sometimes, no make that most of the time, he got no respect.
Over dinner, the conversations
turned to what was to happen now, and Lina mentioned traveling back out
into the Outer Continents and seeing the rest of the world. Surely there
was something to see and do.
Naga looked over to the sorceress. “Well, don’t expect me to stay here and be bored. If there’s treasure to be found, you bet I’m tagging along.”
Lina blinked. She hadn’t thought about that…
“Me too, Lina! Someone has to start trade relations with Saillune!” Amelia piped up.
“If Amelia’s going, I’m going to go too!”
“No, Jedah. You’re going back home,” Zelgadis countered.
Lina sighed. This wasn’t what she’d expected. It was snowballing faster and faster as everyone started to talk about traveling again. Putting up her hand, she got everyone’s attention. “Now look, that wasn’t an invitation to join me.”
Naga shrugged. “Don’t need an invitation, Lina. Besides, it’s been a long time since the two of us went anywhere.”
Lina glared at Naga. “And no inns have burned down around me lately, either!”
“But Zelgadis! If Amelia’s going, I’m going too!” Jedah complained at his brother.
Zelgadis folded his arms. “Who said Amelia was going?”
Amelia frowned at Zelgadis. “I said I’m going, and that’s final, Mister Zelgadis.”
Sylphiel looked to Gourry. “What do you think, Gourry dear? It might be interesting to see the Outer Continents. I haven’t been on an adventure since we ran up against Hellmaster Phibrizo.”
Gourry thought about it. “Sounds good to me.”
Lina collapsed onto the table, head buried in her hands. No… no… no… I can’t do this. I did not intend for everyone to just jump on in with me! This is turning into a nightmare!!
Oblivious to the redheaded sorceress’ reaction, the occupants of the dinner table started bickering about who was going, who wasn’t going, and where those that were going were going to start.
“Hey, Lina… I’m sure my Daddy will give me a boat if I tell him that I’m going to try to start peaceful trade relations. That will make getting over there much easier… as long as we don’t run into any dragons…” Amelia said eagerly.
Lina lifted her head and looked at Amelia. “Now, look! I never asked you to come along!”
Amelia pouted. “But Lina… I want to go! And if I’m going, you may as well book passage on my boat!” A sly look crept into the princess’ eyes. “And you can either go with me and let me join you, or you can pay for passage and I’ll drop you off at the first town.”
That, of course, got the desired reaction. “Amelia! Why do you think I want to pay you for passage if you’re going to be going anyway?”
“So we’ll go as a group, Miss Lina?” Amelia asked.
Zelgadis sighed, seeing it coming. Really, Amelia was beginning to get good at manipulation. Almost as good as Lina, in fact.
Lina scowled. “Of course we’ll go as a group, Amelia. Honestly, if you think I’m going to pay you one single silver…” It dawned on her what she’d just agreed to. “AMELIA!!!”
Amelia beamed happily. “Then we’ll all go!”
Lina collapsed on the table again.
The city of Saillune was
unprepared for seven adventurers to storm the gates in the morning with
intent of purchasing supplies. Fortunately, with all the various shops,
there was enough to go around and no fighting ensued within the group.
Lina was really regretting the fact that she’d opened her mouth at dinner. “Look, can’t we talk about this, Amelia? I mean… I don’t think that seven people can travel well…”
Amelia looked at Lina over the leather pouch she was considering. “Um… but Lina… we’ve traveled with seven people before…”
Lina sighed and folded her arms. “One of them was Alumace, and the other was Xellos. They didn’t really count!”
Amelia rolled her eyes. “Trust me, Xellos counts in more than you can imagine.”
Lina smirked. “You sound like Filia. But then, I suppose that you have good reason to, but I’m not happy about this, Amelia. I mean, what happens if something goes wrong and we run into something big?”
Amelia ran a mental tally. “Let’s see. You’re a powerful sorceress, and Naga can cast spells again. Zelgadis is… well… powerful. Jedah has his own talents… and I’m pretty good with Shamanic spells. Miss Sylphiel is a full Cleric now, and Gourry’s a really good swordsman.” She looked to Lina with bright eyes. “What can we possibly run into that stands a chance against us?”
Lina scowled. “Another Mazoku Lord.”
“Then let’s see…” Amelia thought as she paid for the leather pouch. “Garv is gone, and so is Hellmaster. That leaves Beastmaster, but she seems content to let Xellos irritate us. And no-one has ever heard of Deep Sea Dolphin or Dynast Grusherra beyond that which is taught in the books.”
Lina nodded. “Which is exactly what I’m worried about! What if we run into one of them?”
Amelia shrugged. “We’ll figure that out if it happens, right Lina?”
Lina followed the princess out of the leather shop, sputtering with irritation. “It’s that sort of blind eagerness that gets us into trouble!”
Amelia grinned, posing. “But we always come out on top. The Champions of Love and Justice always triumph over Evil!”
Lina fell over as the people in the street burst into cheers and applause for the princess who was perched triumphantly on the signpost for a local store. The whole city is full of Justice nuts.
Lina took her leave of shopping
early, retreating to her rooms in the Palace and hiding in the bed with
the pillow over her head. Oh… what am I going to do about this… This
is insane! Why me??
There was a knock at her door, and she rolled over and out from under the pillow and grumped. “What is it?”
Lina sighed and sat up. “Come on in, Zelgadis.”
The door opened slowly, and the black-cloaked figure of Zelgadis stepped into the room. “You know, we could leave now… It could take some time before they caught up.”
She grinned at him. “You think? But how would we get passage on boat out to the Outer Continents?”
Zelgadis smiled faintly. “Who says we need a boat?”
Lina tilted her head. “Because I can’t swim that far?”
Zelgadis chuckled faintly. “Xellos doesn’t use a boat, Lina. I don’t necessarily need one, either. And that would be at least a week’s head start on them.”
Lina’s eyes widened. “You… can do that…?”
Zelgadis walked over and took Lina’s hand. “You do remember what you saw before… what the Mazoku aspect of myself was capable of…”
She considered. “Well… yes…”
Lina smiled at him.
Amelia was glad she’d followed
Zelgadis back to the Palace.
She stood in the doorway, watching Lina and Zelgadis fade from sight and sighed happily. Yes, let them have a week on their own. And then when she caught up with them, she’d give them just enough Hell about it to make the point. But she wouldn’t ruin their getaway.
“Are they gone?” Jedah asked, spooking her from her thoughts.
She turned, looking at him. “How did you know, Jedah?”
Jedah grinned. “I can find him if I want to, no matter where he goes. So we give them some time alone, and maybe by the time we catch up, they’ll have figured out how they really feel for each other.”
Amelia nodded, looking down. “They’re so perfect for each other… it makes me wish…” Her voice trailed off as Jedah put his arms around her. She blinked once, then twice, and smiled into his shoulder as she rested her head on him. And maybe I won’t be alone by then either…
And none of them knew that
their adventures together were only beginning.