Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Fifteen ( Chapter 15 )

[ 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 Fifteen
“Gentle” was not simply a concept that did not come easily to Mazoku; it was completely foreign, against their natural inclinations. Mazoku were simply not made to be gentle. Even amongst themselves, violence and chaos were innate. Certainly, the hierarchy was set; one did not challenge above one's rank—or below, as it showed weakness to do so unless ordered. But within the ranks the instinct to destroy allowed only for a fragile stability caused by the understanding that infighting would ensure their destruction.
No, Xellos was not inclined to being gentle, though he knew what mortals meant by it. His entire Astral body swirled and thrummed with power even when at rest. Taking the form of a cone, it swirled so quickly and was so dense with power that it was almost solid.
He had taken great pains to ensure that his Astral projection appeared gentle so as to deceive the humans he manipulated, but it, too, was a destructive force. Just the power of his unbridled bloodlust was enough to cause ordinary mortals to fall unconscious from fear. The bloodlust was the only thing he was used to repressing; the rest mortals wouldn't sense anyway.
It, in fact, took a very conscious effort on his part to be gentle with Zelgadis' soul as he examined it. Xellos' purpose now was not to force it to stay together or bind it, the kind of violence he had used before. He had to find a way to repair it, something that his swirling power did not easily allow. Thus he actually had to render his own power inert to avoid inadvertently causing harm.
Despite his care, Zelgadis cringed away from him, but there was little else the Mazoku could do. He studied the damage to the chimera's soul. Tendrils of Astral energy still held the pieces together, but they wouldn't forever; even now they were fading. The tenuous balance between Zelgadis' three aspects was crumbling again as well. Xellos' intervention had not bought much time, and it was clear that if the youth's soul was not truly repaired he would probably be dead—or at least beyond any help—within the next day.
The problem was that Xellos could only think of one way to repair Zelgadis' soul: White magic, which he certainly couldn't use, and which Amelia would not be able to direct in the precise way required. He could direct it, but only at great personal risk. White magic meant death to Mazoku, especially if it touched his Astral body. He would also have to maintain the balance between the chimera's brow demon, golem, and human thirds; otherwise Zelgadis would become unstable and would not survive anyway.
Xellos pulled back, frowning thoughtfully. He could probably manipulate Astral energy to funnel the White magic where it was needed, but the balance could not be handled in such a clumsy manner. That kind of thing required precise management, something that could not be done with the Astral equivalent of a pair of tongs.
The Greater Beast had left Zelgadis' fate up to him, but she had truly wanted him dead. Xellos should have wanted what his mistress wanted, but instead found himself hesitant to abandon the chimera, despite the risk to himself. If he hadn't believed Zelas before, the truth was becoming all too apparent now; she was no longer his master. He was independent. And it seemed that the first true choice of his existence might involve his continued existence.
“Xellos?” The chimera's worried tone very quickly drew him from his thoughts. Zelgadis looked as though he wanted to continue, but he didn't.
The Mazoku knew what he was hesitant to ask, and quickly made a decision. “The damage can be repaired,” he told him, and felt Zelgadis' relief. Xellos decided to keep the details to himself. “It will need to be done quickly, though.”
When he rose, intending to retrieve Amelia, Zelgadis' burst of fear stayed him momentarily. “Preparations, Zelgadis-san,” he said simply, and teleported from the room.
The princess was asleep, still under the effects of Lina's sleeping spell, which he quickly dispelled before shaking her awake. Amelia rubbed her eyes and blinked at him before coloring slightly. “Xellos-san!”
“Zelgadis-san needs your help,” he told her simply, then teleported back. He knew it would be enough to bring her running.
His sudden reappearance surprised Zelgadis, but Xellos ignored him. As much as he would like to believe that he was only manipulating Amelia, it wasn't the whole truth. Xellos could not repair Zelgadis' soul alone. He had to rely not only on a human, but on Shinzoku power, which was a considerable blow to his pride. It was similar to the incident with Darkstar in that way; in order to destroy Valgaav he had been forced to rely on Lina and on, of all people, Filia. Even then, they had only destroyed the bastard hybrid that Gaav had created, and Xellos' actions had inadvertently led to the healing and rebirth of Val as a purebred Ancient Dragon.
On the other hand, he had been right about one thing: this was a matter of healing, even if Zelgadis had been right about it also involving the careful balance Rezzo had set up. He had been attempting to manipulate the chimera then, and though he had not lied, Xellos had not expected his suggestion to be the truth. At least that boost to his ego balanced out the blow of relying on Amelia and White magic.
The door opened to reveal Amelia, who immediately rushed to Zelgadis. “Zelgadis-san! Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” The chimera frowned, and glanced at Xellos. “What's going on?”
The Mazoku shut the door, then pulled a second chair to the bed and sat, gesturing to the other seat. Amelia took the hint. “I was not lying when I told you that you were missing the larger picture, Zelgadis-san. While part of this has to do with the imbalance of your three aspects, it has much more to do with healing now. Unfortunately, White magic is not my forte, and it is necessary to heal your soul.”
Amelia bit her lip. “But, Xellos-san… I'm not strong enough to heal souls.”
“You're merely unable to direct your magic as necessary. I can do that.”
The princess' eyes widened. “But you can't touch White magic! It's dangerous to you!” Xellos repressed a sigh; she would realize that, wouldn't she? “I might not be able to do it, but I'm sure Sylphiel-san can! I'm only a shrine maiden, but she's a priestess! We can—“
Xellos opened his eyes, and Amelia was startled into silence. “Zelgadis-san will not survive long enough for her to reach him, even if we knew where she was. At this point he has a day, at most.” Amelia gasped, and he continued. “Even a priestess would not be able to maintain the balance between Zelgadis-san's three aspects. The healing would be pointless without that. I do not have to touch the magic to direct it.”
“Please continue referring to me in the third person. I just love being talked about as if I'm not here.” Xellos turned to find Zelgadis glaring. “Even if you don't let the White magic touch you, just being so near it will damage you, especially if you're using your Astral body to maintain the balance again. Even a graze would be fatal.”
“Oh? Are you concerned about me, Zelgadis-san?”
“Yes,” Zelgadis answered bluntly, surprising Xellos. “I don't know what your motivation is, but I really doubt Beastmaster would risk her only servant on some foolish plan like this. Are you trying to commit suicide?”
Xellos closed his eyes, rubbing the back of his head modestly. “Iya, I have no intention of dying. I'm hardly careless, Zelgadis-san.”
The chimera frowned at him. “And yet there's a good possibility of it, careful or not”
The argument was becoming irritating; Xellos hadn't expected the youth to pick up on or care about the risk to him. The Mazoku changed tracks. “Oh, dear. You would simply pine away without me, wouldn't you?”
“Fine. Be an idiot,” Zelgadis huffed, looking away. “At least if you heal me I'll be able to do more than lay here when the Greater Beast comes after me for killing you.”
“My. We'll try not to give her an excuse, then.”
“Xellos-san…” He turned to find Amelia staring at him with watery eyes. “Please be careful! I don't want to accidentally hurt you, even if you are a monster!”
Xellos repressed a smile. “Well, then. Let me prepare before we start with the healing.”
He reached forward. Zelgadis' jaw tightened and Amelia gasped again as his hands appeared to enter the chimera's chest. In fact, he was reaching through his spirit, never touching his flesh. He gathered Astral energy, around Zelgadis' soul, then formed a sort of funnel of it that he could use to manipulate the White magic without touching it. The rest of the energy he clamped around the tattered spirit, before carefully breaking the bonds holding the pieces together.
Zelgadis shuddered, crying out softly, and Amelia grabbed his hand. Xellos pulled one of his hands out and caught her attention. He pointed to a spot on the chimera's chest. “Direct it here. I'll do the rest.”
She quickly placed her palms over that spot. White magic shot from her hands, and Xellos had to repress a short cry of pain himself. It was worse than he had thought it would be. He forced his attention on the task at hand, forcing the chimera's aspects into balance and using the funnel of Astral energy as precisely as a welder would use a strip of lead. Where there was a rip in Zelgadis' soul, he drew the tip of the funnel over it, and where it passed the rip disappeared.
Slowly, the chimera's soul was becoming whole, but Xellos' power was being sapped quickly, though he had more power to draw from. It was becoming more difficult to maintain the necessary balance. His concentration wavered for a moment and he only narrowly avoided touching White magic as another tear was healed. He slowed down. Halfway there. Xellos paused, wondering briefly if this would be enough to buy enough time to find Sylphiel, but if it didn't, he'd have to endure this again, and he really didn't want to.
He reached the three-fourths mark before he realized that his Astral projection was shaking with effort. The pain of being so close to White magic was becoming almost unbearable, and he drew from the Astral energy clamped around Zelgadis' soul to strengthen the barrier between it and his Astral body.
When he was almost done, he managed to say, “You can stop now, Amelia-san.” The strained quality of his voice was embarrassing.
The flow of magic stopped, and he capped the end of the funnel to keep what remained from escaping as he finished. Then he quickly withdrew before releasing the remaining White magic.
Xellos was suddenly aware that both Amelia and Zelgadis were staring at him in something akin to horror, and he looked down to find that parts of his Astral projection were fading.
“Oh, dear,” he murmured, before the last of his energy disappeared and his projection faded completely. Awareness left him.
“Oh, dear,” indeed.