Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Twelve ( Chapter 12 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

by Rose Thorne
Disclaimer: Slayers is owned by a bunch of folks who aren't me. I'm borrowing them for my perverse pleasure, much as Xellos borrows emotions for his.
Chapter Twelve
After Zelgadis relented, Xellos allowed him some privacy—perceived, anyway. In reality, he didn't leave. His anger had left him when the chimera's feeling of hurt and betrayal hit him. Those emotions had surprised Xellos, because they implied at least some level of trust. Zelgadis knew his nature, knew better than to trust him, and yet he apparently had on some level. For all the time he spent around humans, their emotional complexities still confused Xellos at times.
Or maybe it wasn't trust at all. Zelgadis had realized that Xellos had been ordered to accompany him. Perhaps the sorcerer believed Xellos was helping him altruistically, something that went against Mazoku nature. It was, to some extent, true, but the priest was shocked that he was foolish enough to believe something that should have been an impossibility.
Nonetheless, he found that the youth's emotions bothered him for some reason, and he found himself unable to leave completely. Zelgadis bathed quickly and retired, and Xellos watched him sleep for a while before retreating more fully to the Astral Plane.
Beastmaster had already refused to let him out of this mission, and her true motivations were a mystery to him. Perhaps she had plans for Zelgadis that Xellos was unaware of, or plans for Seyruun that required the chimera's presence. Or perhaps she was truly just bored. Xellos knew better that to return to her and plead for relief.
He allowed himself to drift in the refreshing chaos of the Astral Plane, in what, for Mazoku, passed for sleep.
Lina brought coffee and breakfast up to Zel the next morning only to find that he was still sleeping. She set the tray on the dresser and sighed.
“Oi, Zel, you going to sleep all day?” She reclined on the chair.
The chimera stirred and blinked at her. “All day? What time is it?”
Lina grinned. “After nine. You're usually up at the crack of dawn, and we need to get going if we want to reach the next town by nightfall.” She shrugged. “Unless you want to rest here for a while. We're only a few days from Gyria. That might be a better place to relax, since it's bigger. It prolly has a decent library.”
Zel shrugged. “I've been there. Nothing on chimera, so it wouldn't matter.” He didn't look at her, and Lina had the impression something was wrong. “I figure Seyruun's the best chance, since Sairaag's been destroyed.”
“You okay, Zel?”
He sighed. “Xellos decided to show up last night.”
Lina stiffened. Even if Xellos was sometimes useful and occasionally helpful, his presence meant a Mazoku plot. “What'd he want?”
Zel didn't answer for a moment. “He wants me to go to Seyruun. I guessed that it had to do with his orders, and he became angry.”
“Wanna go somewhere else, then? I mean, we can go to the coast, like Atlass or somewhere, and avoid Seyruun altogether.”
The chimera shook his head. “I might as well find out what kind of plot he's got going. He won't leave me alone if I don't go. You don't need to come, if you'd rather stay out of it. I don't want to drag you guys into a Mazoku plot.”
Lina scowled at him. “Stop talking crazy. We're coming with you and helping you. There's no way you can take on the Mazoku alone.”
Zel laughed humorlessly. “Even together, even if I was able to use magic, we wouldn't stand a chance against Xellos.” He shrugged. “I don't think he wants me dead, anyway.”
“What makes you think that? We can't exactly trust him.”
Zel pulled a pendant from under his thermal pajama shirt, one she'd noticed before but hadn't paid attention to. “He made this. To protect me from spells, he said. It's probably the only reason those villagers didn't succeed in killing me.”
Lina leaned forward and examined the blood-red stone. It resembled her Demon Blood Talismans, and she could feel a protective magic emanating from it. “Huh. It's pretty strong. But he could destroy it easily when he's done using you.”
“He could destroy all of us. I'm already going to…” To Lina's relief, he didn't complete that statement. “I don't want you guys to get hurt because of this.”
“We're still coming. Seyruun's Amelia's home, and me and Gourry aren't going to miss this.” Even if they had no chance, Lina wasn't going to let Zel face this alone. He hadn't abandoned her when they'd faced Gaav and Darkstar, and she wasn't going to abandon him. She stood and waved her hand at the tray. “Eat your breakfast before I do. I'm gonna go get supplies for the trip and explain what's going on to Amelia and Gourry.”
“Lina.” She stopped at the door and looked at him. He smiled, the first real smile she'd seen from him in a while. “Thanks.”
“No problem. We'll figure things out, ne? Stop worrying.”
The truth was, she would worry enough for the both of them.
Amelia and Gourry had been just as determined to help as Lina, and Zelgadis had given in. He couldn't make them leave, even if he thought they were making a mistake. Part of him was grateful that they were accompanying him, but he would have preferred to at least keep them from having to watch him die.
Zelgadis' thoughts were dark, but he wasn't relieved when Amelia started up a steady stream of excited planning. Phil-san, she said, had plenty of pull with the sorcerers of Seyruun, and together everyone would be sure to find a way to help him. Her optimism wasn't contagious, and Zelgadis actually found it a little painful; at some point her bubble would burst, and it would hurt her.
“Maybe together we can even find a cure to return you to human, Zelgadis-san!”
The chimera doubted it, but faked a smile that seemed to please her anyway. “Lina might know some sorcerers,” he told her, hoping that she would try to plan with the sorceress for a while.
“You're right! And Gourry-san could contact Sylphiel-san! She knows a lot about healing magic. Remember when she saved Lina-san?” The princess smiled. “If you hadn't gotten them way from Copy Rezzo-san, Lina-san would have died.”
Zelgadis didn't answer for a moment. “I guess so,” he finally said. “Lina might have some better ideas than me.”
Amelia looked surprised, then hurt, as his meaning got through. Her face brightened in a false way that reminded him uncomfortably of Xellos and she tried to look reassuring. “It's okay, Zelgadis-san. You've been through so much. Don't worry. We'll figure everything out.”
She gravitated toward Lina, who gave him an irritated look when she realized what had happened. He looked away and didn't notice Gourry until the swordsman put an arm around his shoulders.
“I know you're not okay, Zel,” he said, his face serious. “And I may not be all that smart, but I know it's not looking good for you. But at least pretend for them.”
Zelgadis frowned at him, more than a little surprised by the blonde's perceptiveness. “Gourry, if I pretend everything's okay, it'll just hurt them more when it's not.”
Gourry patted him on the back. “Zel, it's gonna hurt us anyway. Even if you can't hope, at least let them.”
Zelgadis suddenly felt horribly ashamed at his behavior, and he nodded, not looking at Gourry. For someone with such little intelligence, the swordsman sometimes had the best insight of any of them. “I'll try,” he whispered.
“Good.” Gourry squeezed his shoulder lightly in manly-hug fashion and then let go of him, turning to Lina. “Oi, Lina! How far's the next town? I'm hungry!”
This, predictably, resulted in Gourry and Lina arguing and Lina, of course, winning. Zelgadis was sidling up to Amelia, intending to apologize, when they heard the baying.
“Ano… Wolves only come out at night, don't they?” Amelia's voice was wavering.
“Maybe they're hungry?” Gourry suggested, then yelped when Lina hit him again.
Zelgadis caught sight of something that was decidedly bigger than a wolf, with eyes that glowed unnaturally. He pulled out his sword. “Or they're not wolves at all.”
“Mazoku,” Lina growled, tensing. “Aren't wolves Beastmaster's thing? I mean, Wolf Pack Island and all.”
“If it is, at least she's finally making a move instead of circling around like a vulture,” Zelgadis said, not caring that he was not only referring to himself as carrion but also probably insulting one of the most powerful Mazoku lords still in existence.
There were eight of them in all, and Zelgadis slashed at one that leapt at him. He felt someone at his back and glanced around to find Gourry. “Got your back if you got mine,” Gourry said cheerfully, and the chimera smiled grimly in reply. Lina and Amelia seemed to be thinking the same thing, and Zelgadis turned his mind toward the battle as the creatures attacked as one.
Slash, block, slash again. The wolves didn't seem injured by his sword, unenhanced by Astral Vine. But when he one of the clawed paws evaded his block, he felt stinging pain across his chest and looked down to find blood seeping through several shallow cuts. Either these wolves could cut through his stone skin, or the imbalance of his three aspects had left his skin vulnerable.
He was so startled that he failed to move with Gourry in their battle-dance, leaving him cut off with several wolves leaping at him.
Amelia screamed his name, and he looked at her as she threw a Ra Tilt at the wolf in front of him. But it evaded, and Zelgadis could only watch, horrified, as the attack headed straight for him. The strong Astral spell tore right through the shield Xellos' pendant threw up in an attempt to protect him, and then there was nothing but pain.
The pain seemed endless, and then something terrible and cold clamped around him, reaching inside and pulling at the tattered edges of his soul. He tried to push it away, but it was immovable. And it felt… familiar.
Zelgadis somehow managed to open his eyes to find Xellos' face far too close, his eyes open and his face determined and more serious than he had ever seen it before. The sound of Lina and Amelia casting spells and Gourry yelling as he battled were muffled and far away. He could feel the Mazoku trying to reach into his soul, foreign thoughts and feelings brushing against him and burning with a terrible cold fire.
Xellos was trying to save him, attempting to fuse his soul back together somehow despite the fact that it was fragmenting, too late. Zelgadis resisted. He could feel Xellos' pain, knew that even touching the chimera's soul was hurting him. He didn't care why it hurt him, or why the priest wanted him alive so badly. He only cared not to cause anyone any more pain. The Mazoku stopped reaching, but kept hold of him anyway, kept him from shattering.
“Let me go.” He wasn't sure if he managed to speak it or only thought it, but he saw Xellos' eyes widen in shock. The priest shook his head. “Please.”
“If you die here, Amelia-san will blame herself. If you truly wish to destroy her…”
Zelgadis relented, and cold fingers slid into his soul, prodding and pulling, attempting to force together the pieces of a broken puzzle. The pain intensified before fading into nothingness.
Oh, I am so ending the chapter there. Because, like Xellos, I have sadistic tendencies. That and I have to read for class tomorrow and this is a good stopping point.
Chrissy and Chrislea again helped me with this. Chrissy's been helping a lot with letting me talk out developmental stuff at her, and Chrislea is awesome with beta-reading (and is currently begging me to write more now).