Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Thirteen ( Chapter 13 )
[ 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.
Xellos had always found a crushed soul to be breathtaking. This time it was no different, even as he rushed forward and clamped his astral body around Zelgadis' soul to keep it from fracturing into tiny pieces. The rends in the chimera's soul were complete, and only Xellos' refusal to allow the tatters to dissipate kept them from disappearing forever. But he could not allow the beauty of such utter ruin to distract him. While he was used to destroying—loved it, even—the Mazoku found that he wanted desperately to reverse this damage, to keep Zelgadis from dying.
Zelgadis' soul burned him with its undeniable goodness. Even if he felt himself heartless, cruel, and bought into the idea that he was evil because others looked on him as such, the chimera was none of those. He let it burn, and ignored the pain.
Lina, Amelia, and Gourry were fighting the demonic wolves—Zelas-sama's demonic wolves, he knew. Xellos did not know what the Beastmaster had planned, why she would attack like this after ordering him to escort Zelgadis to Seyruun. But she had not changed his orders, and until he was told otherwise he would fulfill his duty as he saw fit. He formed a barrier that would keep the wolves out and turned his attention back to the chimera.
As he reached in, the chimera's spirit attempted to push him away, his eyes snapping open and staring at him dully. Xellos could feel Zelgadis' terrible resigned acceptance. This was not something the priest could do with Zelgadis resisting, and he stopped, but kept himself clamped around his shattered spirit.
A part of Zelgadis' soul brushed against him, and he felt the request, even as stone lips moved silently. “Let me go.” The soul-touch was overflowing with the chimera's emotion, a terrible desire for release from a body he had always hated and a life he had come to dread. Zelgadis truly did not want to live, something Xellos had not thought possible.
“Please.” This came from the chimera's lips, barely a breath.
Xellos felt pain deep within himself, and quickly searched for a way to manipulate Zelgadis, to convince him to stop resisting. Amelia yelling from afar gave him inspiration. “If you die here, Amelia-san will blame herself. If you truly wish to destroy her…”
The youth's resolve crumbled into regret as he relented, and Xellos immediately reached into the mess that was Zelgadis' soul.
Zelgadis' spirit writhed in agony as he tried to manipulate it and repair the damage that had been done. In truth, Xellos didn't know if it was even possible to save the chimera, but he tried anyway, carefully finding the proper pieces of Zelgadis' soul and binding them together with Astral energy. The wedge that the sorcerer had placed in the chimera's soul tore them apart again immediately. Zelgadis convulsed beneath him, then went still.
He heard Lina yelling at him, and felt her battering the shield, and he spared enough energy to glance over his shoulder. “If you break my concentration, Zelgadis-san will die.” Then he ignored her completely, turning back to the task at hand.
Xellos used a good chunk of power to carefully dissolve the partition. The chimera's pain helped him regain a bit of the power he'd lost, but it bled away quickly as he redoubled his efforts. Xellos was able to use Astral energy to repair enough of Zelgadis' soul to prevent him from falling apart and dying, but maintaining the balance between the chimera's three aspects took nearly everything he had.
As Xellos finally released Zelgadis, the full impact of the power drain hit him, and he was unable to maintain his Astral projection. His own consciousness slipped away.
Amelia shivered as she watched Zelgadis sleep. It had been difficult to transport him back to the inn, and she and Gourry had eventually gone back to the town and rented a cart and horse. Even then, getting him upstairs had been hard.
None of them could see the damage to his soul, except maybe Xellos, and he had disappeared after withdrawing his hands from within Zelgadis' chest. He hadn't returned, and Zelgadis was still unconscious twelve hours later.
How could she have forgotten that Zelgadis was vulnerable to Astral magic? She had thrown the worst possible spell. Even a fireball would have been better. Amelia was shocked that Lina could be so kind to her after she had nearly killed Zelgadis. Even now, she was useless, since they didn't dare use magic on him, even a little recovery to heal the shallow cuts across his chest.
She had managed not to cry, to hold herself together and be strong. Zelgadis had known he could die, and had tried to warn her. At the time she had thought he was being pessimistic, but now she knew better.
But now, as she changed the bandages across his chest, she couldn't hold back her tears, and several splashed on his stone skin as she worked. The cuts were slowly healing, but still Zelgadis didn't wake.
“Amelia, you need to rest.” Lina's voice startled her, and she hiccupped. “Aw, geez, don't cry. Zel wouldn't want you to cry.”
Amelia hugged herself, unable to stop. “It's all my fault, Lina-san,” she wailed softly. “I almost k-killed Zelgadis-san.”
Lina crossed the room and put a hand on her shoulder, and Amelia couldn't hold back. She threw her arms around the sorceress and sobbed into her chest. “Amelia…” For a moment Amelia was afraid Lina would hit her, but instead she was hugged back. “It's okay. Everything's going to be fine.”
“I can't even heal him. We don't know what's wrong. Maybe Xellos-san knows, but he's gone, and Zelgadis-san won't wake up.” She was well aware that she was becoming hysterical, but she couldn't help it. “If only—“
“Amelia.” Lina's voice was uncommonly gentle, and the princess looked up at her, surprised into silence. The sorceress gently touched her forehead, and whispered, “Sleeping.”
Exhaustion overtook Amelia despite her will to stay awake, and everything went dark.
Xellos was aware of his Astral body being prodded first before he recognized who it was. His mistress willed his Astral projection before her as he regained awareness. Even exhausted as he was, he still found her feral beauty stunning, like a panther in the desert.
“You survived,” she purred. “How amusing.”
He frowned, not understanding her private joke. “Zelas-sama?”
“Oh, of course. You have no idea what has happened, do you Xellos?” That confused him further, and she laughed. “You are an endless source of amusement. Here you've been fighting this for weeks, and you still manage to do the expected in an unexpected way.” Her eyes glowed.
It took a moment for her words to sink in. “You… expected this, Mistress?”
Her grin was predatory, but it was always like that. “When you defied my order, I suspected.” Xellos blinked at her. “In saving the lovely chimera. It was, after all, the first time you failed to follow my orders. I could have punished you, but this is far more useful.” She leaned forward. “Tell me, Xellos. Do you feel different?”
This alarmed him, and he checked his Astral self. But he had no idea what to look for. Except… was that power? “What is this, Mistress?”'
Now her eyes twinkled, eyes that had always caught his attention for how much they resembled those of mortals, even backed by such terrible power. “Should I tell you? Or should it be a secret?”
Xellos bowed his head, subtly supplicating. “Please, Zelas-sama.”
“You are progressing.” The pause afterwards indicated that this was her answer and Xellos looked up at her warily, questioning. “You are bridging the gap, changing, and it is possible that you will become a Mazoku lord. With Gaav and Phibrizzo gone, I suppose it is possible.”
“I do not understand.”
The Beastmaster stood. “The emotions you have felt since defying me, the ones you refuse to even recognize. Those come with the power we enjoy. With the ability to exercise our will.” She placed a hand on his head. “Though you are the first this has happened to. We Mazoku lords were created, not evolved.”
Xellos was shocked. “But I am your servant,” he protested. “Your priest.”
“For the moment, yes.” She turned her back to him, returning to her throne. “But whatever your chimera sparked within you will change that. I should kill him for the transgression.” Zelas smiled at his alarm. “But I will let you decide his fate. I can be gracious. It matters not; a few scant decades will resolve the matter anyway.” She took a drag from her cigarette in a smooth, elegant motion, and let the smoke out slowly. “If you survive, that is.”
With that, she dismissed him, and he collapsed back into the Astral plane as her power ceased to support his projection. There, he drifted and recovered, trying to make sense of the information she had revealed.
I referenced one of my favorite short stories in here, even if I doubt anyone will catch it. For those wondering, it's “Passion in the Desert,” by Honore de Balzac. Perhaps it's somewhat inappropriate to consider Zelas more feline than lupine, but I tend to think of her as incredibly sensual, which to me is a feline trait. But, then, she is Beastmaster, so it hardly manners as long as her traits are quasi-anthropomorphic in nature.
Watch this chapter completely fuck up the fic for some people. I'm kind of nervous about this particular development, even if I've been planning it for ages. Chrissy reassures me that it doesn't suck, but I always have doubts about this sort of thing.
I also am finally reading the novels.
I should also note that I really have to work on things for school now. I have an idea for work of my own, and I need to concentrate on it because that's really why I am where I am. So while it'd be nice to get another chapter out soon, I don't know when that will be, and I'll be actively resisting writing this fic for a while because I have my own duties to attend to. Not that my muse ever listens to me.
Thanks to Chrissy and Fawx for the beta.