Perchance to Dream
Lina was quickly returning to her old self. Or, rather, Lina was becoming an altogether new version of herself. Sitting in a warm room in the palace and watching Jedah repeatedly making Zelgadis blush, she reflected on how much of herself she had shut away when she’d left. I didn’t even know myself when I looked in the mirror… and I didn’t know that it was all because… because I loved him and didn’t want to admit it.
“Lina… are you okay…?” Sylphiel’s voice was fairly close, and Lina hadn’t even seen her coming. She sat beside Lina, her wedding band catching the light and Lina’s eye for a moment.
The redhead turned her head to look to the cleric and smiled faintly. “Sylphiel… is this… what you feel for Gourry? That without him… you aren’t a whole person? That your whole life is so tightly entangled with his… that without him, you don’t know who you are anymore?” Crimson eyes searched the startled cleric’s expression.
After a moment, Sylphiel blushed. “Lina… do you remember the day that we fought Kopii Rezo? Our discussion about why you were traveling with Gourry dear?”
How could I forget that day… Lina thought, the memory coming back to her.
Lina grinned at Sylphiel as they continued walking. “After all... I'm after Gourry's Sword of Light!”
The cleric-in-training paused to look at the sorceress. “The... The Sword of Light?”
Lina’s eyes lit up and she nodded. “Sure! You saw how powerful it is! If I had that, I'd be the most powerful person in the world! I can't stand thinking that someone else owns it!” Seeing the strange look on Sylphiel’s face, she paused. “Eh? What's wrong? Does your stomach hurt or something?”
Sylphiel shook her head. “No, no I'm fine. So, that's the only reason you stay with Gourry?”
Lina nodded. “Yeah… I told you that it was because of the Sword of Light. You got such a funny look on your face… oh.” Realization finally dawned on Lina, and she started to blush. “You mean… you thought…”
Sylphiel smiled. “The two of you seemed so close at the time. I didn’t know then that you were more like the little sister that he had to protect from the world.”
Lina snorted softly. “Not like I needed protecting…” She glanced over to Zelgadis, who seemed just on the edge of losing his temper with his brother.
“Enough questions, Jedah!” Zelgadis said abruptly, setting down his coffee on the table with the sharp retort of ceramic on wood. “You’re doing it again.” The last comment still directed to Jedah, he glanced over to Lina, who looked rather embarrassed with her discussion with a similarly blushing Sylphiel. Wonder what that is about…he thought, only to be sideswiped by Jedah again.
“But it’s been almost three years, Zel! I’m sure you’ve had all sorts of adventures to tell me!” Jedah protested, his own coffee forgotten beside him.
Zelgadis shook his head. “You’ll just have to wait. It’s getting late, anyway. And look…” he pointed over to the blonde swordsman who was sound asleep in the chair nearby. “He’s already snoring.”
“Like that’s unusual,” Lina retorted. A shadow fell over her and she looked up to see Naga standing there with a strange look on her face. “Naga…?”
“Lina… I need to talk to you. Privately.” Naga’s voice was tight, and Lina got the distinct impression that something was wrong.
Concern flickering across her face, Lina stood up and looked to Naga. “Uh… excuse me, guys…” She looked to the group for a moment, then started to the door with Naga. In a low voice, she asked the question. “What’s going on?”
Naga remained silent, not giving Lina an answer until they had walked outside and into the garden by the pond where Jedah had first encountered Lina. The entire way there, Lina watched her once-companion. She’s changed… almost… subdued. There’s something really wrong here…
Naga turned to Lina, looking to the shorter woman. “Lina. While you were gone, Saillune suffered an attack from a lesser monster. No-one else was here at the time… it was only Amelia to protect the city. Prince Philionel… my father… had been injured badly, and Amelia was going to cast the Dragon Slave.”
Lina paled in terror. “There’s no way! I never taught it to her! She’d have lost control of it if she had managed to cast it!” She shook her head. “No offense, Naga, but I can tell that it runs in the family… black magic just isn’t your strong suit.”
Naga turned to look at the water. “I was the one who cast it, Lina. I had learned it by watching you, but had never tried to cast it.”
“You!??” Lina blurted in spite of herself. “But I didn’t see any signs of damage…” She started looking about for any indication that a Dragon Slave had gone wrong.
Naga sighed. “That’s because I didn’t lose control of the spell. Perhaps the only time I ever cast a thing that didn’t go horribly wrong. Instead, when I came to, I was in the care of the city clerics. I burned myself out that night.”
Lina stared at Naga. “Burned… yourself out? You’ve lost your magic…?” Oh no… poor Naga…
“For a while, Amelia had thought that I was dead. She blamed you bitterly for it, too, because it was the Dragon Slave spell. But once she found out that I was injured, but would live, it wasn’t so bad. Until he came.” Naga’s voice hardened at the last sentence, and Lina’s head snapped up.
“His name is Xellos.” Naga said quietly. “And against everything I have ever known from Amelia… she…”
Lina’s stomach sank. In a bleak voice, she asked. “She what, Naga?”
Naga looked off to the dying sunlight. “I did not discover this until tonight… I went to talk to her before going to bed… and I overheard them talking. I think that she formed an alliance with him so that Saillune would be protected from further monster attacks.”
“What kind of alliance…?” Lina had to know, even though she knew Xellos and could imagine any number of ways he would go about it.
Naga spun with tears in her eyes, grabbing Lina’s arms and startling the redhead. “Lina, you have to help her! He’s trapped her into something, and I heard her talking to him… he sleeps with her in her bed, and it’s destroying my little sister and I can’t even cast a fireball to stop him!”
Lina blinked, absorbing all of it at once, gaze hardening. Fire lit within her eyes, and in a low voice, she growled. “Why that low-down perverted Mazoku! He’s trying to claim Amelia for the Monster race!” Her hands clenched into fists. “That would explain why she’s so… different.”
Naga shook her head, letting go of Lina and looking off to the water again. “No… Lina… his target is you. He told her that she was still supposed to bring you to him. But that the return of Zelgadis presented a problem. She threw him out, but he’s coming back later tonight.”
Lina blinked, the fire suddenly blown out within her. “Me? His target is me? Then why in Cepheid’s name is he using Amelia…?” Her mind started working, calculating. Of course… he knows that I’d see through him in a heartbeat. But after all that Amelia’s been through… he could manipulate her and I wouldn’t have… didn’t even see it. She sighed heavily. “So I have to figure out a way to free Amelia… Naga, I have to know… does she really hate me?”
Naga pondered for a moment. “I don’t really know, Lina. Amelia’s become so… withdrawn. Possibly to protect herself from Xellos… and I’m so worried about her.” The emotion alone in Naga’s voice told the sorceress that much, even though it was strange to hear Naga worried about anything.
Lina reached up and patted Naga’s arm. “I’ll do what I can, Naga.” Magic began swirling around her skirts, lifting her up into the air. “And I’m going to start right now.”
Naga turned to Lina, but only watched the sorceress head off for a balcony that she knew was not Amelia’s. I wouldn’t approach Xellos in a skirt, either, Lina… please, be careful.
“You know that Xellos will figure it out,” a voice came from the shadows nearby.
Naga spun, anger at being watched building in her eyes, as impotent as her fury could be now without her spells. “How dare you… oh…it’s you…”
Zelgadis stood against a tree, watching her with quiet ice-blue eyes. He unfolded his arms and walked silently over to her. “I came out to bid you both a good evening and overheard. I apologize for that, but I want to tell you that Xellos won’t win in anything that I choose to fight him on. And both Lina and Amelia are my friends. Which ultimately means that I’ll be fighting Xellos again.”
Naga smiled in relief, her shoulders lowering somewhat. “It’s so frustrating… I can’t even cast a fireball to help either one of them now.”
“Have you tried?” Zelgadis countered.
Naga nodded. “Every time I try a spell, I end up having to go back to the clerics. This last time took a month for me to recover.”
“What did you do?” he asked, walking over to the pond and looking down at the fish within.
She sighed. “I cast a fireball spell… and it felt as if I had thrown it on myself. Amelia said that she didn’t see any flames… but I felt them burning me. It was so bad that I passed out. When I came to, I was in the care of the clerics again.”
“Hm,” he pondered, watching a fish jump in the water. “And you don’t recall miscasting?”
“Of course not! I, Naga the White Serpent…” She started in a haughty voice, then thought better of it as he turned and simply looked at her. Tapping her first two fingers together, she sighed. “No… I’m pretty sure that I didn’t miscast it… after all… the fireball is the easiest spell in the books…”
He nodded slowly. “It is.”
“And I can still feel things… my magic sense still exists… I just can’t cast anything anymore.” Naga sighed, her shoulders drooping.
Zelgadis narrowed his eyes and wondered if Xellos had anything to do with that. Probably. “I have a few ideas, if you will humor me.” He began to walk back towards the palace
“Ideas…” Naga asked curiously, hurrying alongside him.
Zelgadis nodded as they walked. “To see if your magic is gone, or simply sealed away. But there’s one thing that you will absolutely have to do first.”
Naga looked up to the palace doors, then over to the black-clad shaman. “And what is that?”
“You will have to put some clothes on.”
Lina glanced in the mirror. It wasn’t her normal clothing… that was too flashy for what she intended tonight. Tonight’s ensemble consisted of black pants, a black shirt, and her headband back in place. The talismans remained off, but she wore the necklace from Zelgadis under the shirt.
She walked to the door, paused once in a brief wish for luck, and headed out into the hallway.
Amelia opened the door at Lina’s knock, and was hardly prepared for the sleeping spell that Lina had in her hand. As she fell, she could vaguely hear Lina’s words. “I’m sorry about this, Amelia. But it’s time I put Xellos in his place…”
Lina caught Amelia as the princess fell. She pulled Amelia into a shadowy corner and rested her against the wall. Then, she turned and entered Amelia’s rooms and bolted the door behind her.
She was lying silently in the bed when he phased in beside her, the additional weight alerting her to his presence. A moment of quick relief passed that she really wasn’t noticeably different than Amelia when curled in a bed, but she dismissed the thought and remembered why she was in the bed.
“Hello, princess. Did you miss me?” Xellos asked sarcastically, his hand reaching up and around to her.
Lina rolled over before he could touch her and put both hands around his throat before he could react. Damn! Either he’s gotten soft from dealing with Amelia, or I still have my edge… and I think I know which one it is! “Of course I missed you, you pervert! Now you’d better do some talking, or I’m going to start kicking some ass,” she growled.
Xellos was turning blue, not that it truly mattered.
Outside, Amelia was slowly coming around, shaking her head and trying to make out where she was.
“Why… Lina…” Xellos croaked. “I didn’t expect you to be here…” It was suddenly much harder to talk as her grip tightened.
“Well here I am, Xellos. The girl of your perverted little dreams. So what do you want with me, and why in the name of Cepheid are you using Amelia?” Lina snarled in his face, tiny little fangs beginning to show. Her temper was starting to fray, and she was itching to show Xellos that she wasn’t playing.
“Ano… Lina, it’s hard… to talk…” Xellos gasped.
She only let up a little bit. “There. Now start talking. I want to know what it was that you forced Amelia into, and how hard I’m going to have to hit you.”
Amelia stood up, memory flooding back. Lina had come to her door and hit her with a sleeping spell. She’d said something about putting Xellos in his place… how did she figure it out…?
The princess spun to see her sister standing there. “Grac- Naga…?”
Silently, her sister extended her hand. “You shouldn’t be here. Let Lina take care of him. It’s time we started working together again. Zelgadis thinks he has a way for me to get my magic back, and I’d like you to be with me… just in case…”
Amelia blinked, tilted her head and looked at her bedroom door, then looked back to Naga and nodded ever so slowly.
“A lesser monster had attacked Saillune, Lina. I would have defeated it, but Naga beat me to it,” Xellos managed to say.
Lina snorted, hands still around his neck. “A monster that you sent to the city, no doubt. So you started this little extortion act to get to me. You knew that I’d hear of things going in Saillune and come running to help Amelia.”
“Neh… Lina… you’ll give me a bad name talking about me like that…”
Her grip tightened. “You already have a bad name, Xellos. Now you’d better start talking!”
He smirked at her, and as he faded from sight and grasp, uttered the four words that she hated the most: “That is a secret.”
“Arrgh!” She punched the pillow where his face had been. “That… that…” she searched for a word, and could only come up with what Filia had dubbed him years ago. “NAMAGOMI!!!”