Perchance to Dream

Chapter 9



            Lina could hear voices outside the bedroom door. Her mind identified them as they whispered back and forth.

            “Do you think we ought to wake them up…?” Sylphiel.

            “You don’t think he’s really in there with her!” Amelia.

            “Do you really think that he’d leave her in there, knowing that Xellos might come for her?” Gourry.

            “Well, I say if he’s in there with her, then let’s let them stay in there!” Naga.

            “You mean… he’s in there… with her… and there’s no-one else in there? Wow…” Jedah.

            Lina finally registered a now-somewhat familiar weight across her stomach, and she opened an eye and looked over. Zelgadis was sound asleep beside her, a shy smile playing across his lips. She smiled herself, and slipped out from under his arm and got out of the bed, noticing that she was still dressed from the night before.

            As she walked to the door, she heard Amelia whisper frantically. “Someone’s coming!”

            Lina opened the door, glowering at the guilty hoverers, closing the door behind her and stalking to the dining room, not looking behind to see if she was being followed.


            In the dining room, she pulled back her unruly hair and bound it back with her hair-ribbon. Servants scurried to bring her something to eat, and one by one, her friends began to filter innocently into the hall. Someone set a plate in front of her, and she dug into it with a cheerful grin.

            “You look entirely too happy” Naga said as she dropped into a chair beside Lina and swiped a sausage off of Lina’s plate, taking a bite and watching the sorceress.

            “Hey! No stealing my food! Jeez, Naga! Don’t you ever quit? You live here, it’s not like you have to pay for your food or anything!” Lina whined, moving her plate farther away from the elder princess of Saillune. She stuffed a mini muffin in her mouth and glared at the other woman.

            “Lina, I have to ask. What went on between you and Zelgadis?”

            Sylphiel and Gourry froze in the doorway and Jedah paused halfway into a chair to look up at the youngest princess in shock. Lina and Naga just simply turned and stared at Amelia.

            Lina swallowed, picked up her glass and drank thoughtfully from it, setting it down casually and looking to Amelia. “Well, let’s see…” She thought quickly, how best to play the moment for what it was worth. “I woke up sometime in the night and his arm was draped across me. He doesn’t snore, by the way…” She had to look away from Amelia or she’d laugh at the princess’ horrified expression. “And then he woke up and we talked for a little bit before he chased some sort of monster off and I went back to sleep after he told me that he wasn’t about to leave me alone…” Lina considered a sausage. “And then I woke up again to find that he’d fallen asleep and thrown his arm over me again, but I figured that it wasn’t such a big deal, so I went back to sleep.”

            Silence fell in the room.

            Footsteps approached, breaking the silence, and a voice asked, “What did I miss?”

            Everyone but Lina turned to see Zelgadis standing behind Amelia and the varying expressions made him instantly wary. Fortunately, Lina was willing to break the silence as she picked up her drink again.

            “Oh, Amelia asked what happened between us last night, Zel. I told her.”

            Zelgadis faltered. “You… what…?” He wasn’t sure who he was asking, Amelia for asking, or Lina for apparently telling.

            Amelia looked to him, blue eyes wide and threatening to overflow with tears, looking for all the world like the past three years hadn’t happened. “Mister Zelgadis! You’re so chivalrous! And to think I was worried for Lina’s virtue!”

            Lina facefaulted, and Zelgadis looked at Amelia with a long slow blink. Keeping his face carefully blank, he turned around and headed for the door. “I’ll be in the library.”


            He was halfway through the second book when footsteps behind him alerted him, and the seat beside him was quietly taken. Back straight, eyes downcast, and hands folded in her lap, Sylphiel Gabriev took a breath to compose herself before interrupting. “Master Zelgadis… please forgive me for asking such an… impolite question. But you do care for Miss Lina quite a bit, don’t you?”

            There was a long silence before he finally answered. “It’s not an impolite question, Sylphiel. It’s the question asked by a caring friend who worries about others.” He closed the book and looked over to her. “It’s taken me a long time to get used to the thought that I could actually be worth loving, Sylphiel. A very long time.” He looked at his hand, the softly pink fingers.

            “I may not be the one who should say this, but you weren’t remotely as horrible as you thought you were…” She blushed faintly.

            He shook his head slowly. “What… were you all infatuated with me?” He traced the letters on the cover of the book absently with a fingernail.

            “No… only Amelia was infatuated with you. I think Miss Lina was in love with you for a long time, though. She and I talked once… and I asked her why she hung out with Gourry. She told me it was because he had the Sword of Light. And Gourry told me once that while he liked Lina a lot, it was more like she was the little sister that he never had.”

            Zelgadis sat quietly, listening and wondering why Sylphiel was telling him this.

He’d all but professed his undying love to Lina… watched her turn away from it… and been drawn back to her like a moth to a flame, against all reason and rationale.

            “What I’m trying to say is that I think you and Lina make a very well-matched couple. There is something special between you, and I’m not sure what it is.” She rose from the bench and moved quietly to the door, closing it behind her.

            He sat quietly, thinking through what Sylphiel had said. There was something, wasn’t there? He’d tried to leave the city, tried to leave her, but every time he’d tried… and the night that he’d come to in the room with all of the candles. Just moments before, what had woken him… that dream that her tears had fallen on his cheek as she’d kissed him, that he’d reached out to her with a human hand. And when he had opened his eyes, his cheeks had been wet. And his skin had been pink.

            He stood, setting the book on the shelf where it belonged. He understood a lot of things now, moreso than he had before. Rezo’s knowledge came only with the slow understanding of the Stone Golem and the Mazoku. The golem gave him strength and invulnerability. But the Mazoku that he was gave him speed and power in addition to strength and invulnerability. He simply hadn’t allowed himself to tap into that which the golem and the Mazoku gave him. He’d been so wrapped up in becoming human again that he’d completely overlooked the possibilities that lay before him.

            Until the day that he’d fought with Xellos. Really fought with him.


            Sometime during the battle, the anger and rage had opened something in his mind, and the knowledge had come. The knowledge that he could do almost everything that Xellos could. Maybe it wouldn’t be as powerful as Xellos’ attacks, but it was bound to get the Mazoku’s attention.

            He concentrated, taking into the air without the use of the Ray Wing. It was one less spell that he had to consider. Senses warned of an inbound attack, and a defensive barrier snapped into place just before impact. He felt distant, somewhat strange as attacks that he could not name rolled from his fingertips.

            Even Xellos was surprised. The chimera was becoming more and more interesting by the minute. He was starting to have to dodge attacks that could give him serious pause.

            There was a build-up, a spell coming to his hands that he couldn’t begin to understand. It was dark in nature, a well into which his anger and rage poured itself. Xellos had chosen the wrong thing to goad Zelgadis with, and this spell was quickly taking on a life of its own, fueled by the pain that he’d tried to lock within himself.

            It left Zelgadis’ hands, a purplish-black miasma that left Zelgadis unable to support himself in the air. As he began to fall, he saw the spell catch Xellos and smiled grimly at the Mazoku’s screams. So… he knows what pain is…

            He hit the ground, unaware that Amelia was running towards him in terror. He saw the Mazoku shudder once, and go limp, fading from his sight. Or was his sight fading? It didn’t matter, not if he had beaten Xellos. He understood now, and as Amelia’s tear-streaked face came into his vision, he lost consciousness.


            “Zel…?” Lina’s voice brought him out of the memory and into the present, where he was standing in the library of Sailune’s palace. He turned to see her standing there, still dressed in black.

            She walked up to him, looking at him worriedly. “I’ve called several times, but you just stood there, lost in your thoughts. Are you… okay?”

            He nodded, offering her a shy smile. “I was just remembering some things. What thoughts have you given to how you plan to attack Xellos?”

            Lina sighed. “I haven’t really decided how I’m going to manage to get to wherever he goes. I think that we’re going to have to wait until he shows himself here again.”

            A scream caught their attentions, and as they headed out of the library, Zelgadis remarked, “That may have been how long we had to wait.”


            The two entered a frozen tableau when they burst through the door of the great hall. Xellos was standing behind Amelia, his staff brought up around in front of Amelia, planted firmly under the princess’ chin. Naga stood across the way, glaring at the Mazoku, hand out with a brilliant sphere of light in her hand. Jedah stood beside Naga with a dark glare in his eyes, but he didn’t have a sword, and he didn’t have any spells ready. Gourry had his sword in hand, even though it wasn’t Golunova, and would do only minimal damage to the Mazoku. Sylphiel’s face was a steady mask of concentration, and Lina gave about a second’s worth of wondering what she was doing before glaring at Xellos.

            “Xellos, let go of Amelia,” Lina said quietly, walking towards the Mazoku and his captive. She felt a power build-up in the room, and she couldn’t identify it. She hoped that it wasn’t Xellos.

            “I’m sorry, Lina. I just can’t do that. She and I had an agreement. She’s failed, and she knew the price of her failure.” Xellos replied easily, eyes open and fixed on Lina. “And I don’t think that you really want to do that, Gracia. I understand the last fireball that you threw put you in a clinic for a month.”

            Naga scowled at Xellos, borrowing a phrase from Lina. “Filthy Mazoku, get your hands off of my sister.”

            The grip on his staff tightened, and Amelia squeaked. “But my hands aren’t on her, Gracia dear,” Xellos sneered.

            “Excuse me,” a male voice came from behind Xellos and Amelia, a hand tapping the Mazoku on the shoulder. Lina frowned, recognizing the voice, but she couldn’t decide how she knew it.

            A man stepped around the Mazoku and his captive. “I’m sorry to disturb, but I was told that someone had ordered some food… and we were here to deliver it…”

            Lina’s eyes grew round when she realized that it was the bartender from that little bar she’d been in. “Arendil…?” she whispered.

            The bartender half turned to smile to Lina. “Ah… hello.” He turned back to Xellos. “Where should we put the food?”

            Xellos looked annoyed. “No-one ordered food. Go away before I make you go away.” He tightened his grip on his staff, bringing it up a little higher to Amelia’s chin. The princess began to strain to catch her breath.

            “But your pardon… I was told that you had ordered food…” Arendil continued. “There is to be a party here… right? The palace… and funeral service was to be today, with a wake…”

            Lina couldn’t figure out what was going on. A wake? Had someone ordered food? Before she could ask, Jedah stepped forward, eyes bright.

            “Oh! Yes, the food for the wake… but there’s no funeral anymore. I’m afraid that we forgot to cancel the order…” The youth said, walking casually up to the bartender who just happened to be near Xellos and Amelia.

            Arendil looked to Jedah, concerned. “But all the food we prepared…”

            “It won’t go to waste. You’ll be paid. We’ll have a party instead…” Jedah said, turning to Xellos and Amelia, setting a hand firmly on Xellos’ staff and looking at the princess. “Right, Amelia?”

            The princess could only blink in confusion at Jedah. She could barely breathe, let alone reply to Jedah’s innocent question.

            What is he doing? He’s going to get killed! Lina thought frantically. I have to do something, and I have to do it now! But I can’t hurt Amelia… she’d never forgive me…

            But Xellos was only staring at Jedah. Then, to Lina’s amazement, the staff at Amelia’s throat began to be forced lower and lower. The expression of hatred on Xellos’ face turned Lina’s blood cold, but for some reason, the Mazoku didn’t lash out at the boy.

            Silence reigned in the room until seemingly easily, Jedah took the staff away from Xellos and reached out to Amelia with his free hand. “Come, let’s show him where to put the food…”

            No sooner had Jedah taken Amelia from Xellos, than a blast of magic swept past Lina and a black sphere crackling with blue smacked into Xellos. The Mazoku stepped back with a gasp, turning to glare past Lina. “Damn you, Zelgadis. I will win.”

            And then the Mazoku vanished.

            Arendil looked to Jedah, who was still holding Xellos’ staff and supporting a very weak Amelia. “Young man, you not only picked up on my ploy, but you are very lucky to have survived that.”

            Zelgadis walked past Lina and took the staff from Jedah. “He’s always been lucky. Sometimes he presses that luck too much.” He looked to Jedah, indicating Amelia. “Go take her to her rooms. Don’t leave her there.”

            Naga’s fireball faded without incident, and Gourry sheathed the blade. Sylphiel joined Jedah and Amelia, offering a healing spell, and they moved out of the room as Lina walked up to Arendil.

            “I don’t get it. Why are you here?” Lina asked as she approached.

            “I was just delivering this message…” Arendil handed over a small envelope.

            Perplexed, Lina opened it, then turned as white as a sheet. “Cepheid’s blood! She knows…!”

            And with that, she turned around and walked into the library. A sound much like books falling echoed out into the hallway, and Zelgadis looked to the library door. “It must have been a letter from her sister.”