Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Sixteen ( Chapter 16 )

[ 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 Sixteen
“This really isn't necessary,” Zelgadis groused as he reluctantly lay back down. “I'm perfectly fine.”
“Yeah, and when Xellos gets back here he can confirm that before I kick his ass.”
“But Lina-san, he didn't disappear like he usually does!” Amelia protested. “He faded partway, while we were still healing Zelgadis-san's soul!”
The sorceress snorted. “Oh, please! Like a little white magic could kill him! If it could, he wouldn't have killed most of the dragons off during the War of the Monster's Fall!”
“It's not the same thing, Lina. The dragons wouldn't be able to get near his Astral body because he wouldn't let them.” The chimera hesitated, a little embarrassed. “But he was keeping my soul together using his Astral body.”
Amelia nodded. “Xellos-san was very close to the White magic. He was shaking after a while. I'm sure he was in pain!”
“Xellos did look pretty bad when he helped Zel after those wolves attacked,” Gourry added.
“Argh!” Lina threw up her hands in frustration. “That's it! Gourry, take Amelia downstairs and make her eat something so she doesn't pass out. Zel, I swear if you don't stay there and rest I'll cast Sleeping on you.” Zelgadis opened his mouth to protest, but Lina cut him off. “Don't argue, buster. I don't care if Ceiphied himself cast Resurrection on you. You were at death's door only a few hours ago, and you're going to rest!”
The sorceress shoved Gourry and Amelia out the door, and turned to Zelgadis. “I'll bring food up later. Go to sleep.” The door slammed behind her.
“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled to no one. It hadn't been Resurrection, but the pure White magic made him feel almost like he would never need to sleep again. All this did was leave him with nothing to do but think, and that was something he didn't want to do. He'd managed largely to avoid it since this had started, preoccupied with dying.
Now that he wasn't “at death's door” anymore, his mind was making up for lost time.
Zelgadis didn't have words for what had happened, beyond what he had told Lina. Xellos' Astral body had kept his soul together, but he had no way to describe what that meant. The only experience he had that could compare was what Rezzo had done, the feeling of the brow demon as it fought and tore at him even as it became a part of him.
That was something he didn't talk about, and while that was partly because it had been a horrible experience that he still had nightmares of, it was also because even if he knew how to describe it, not even Lina would know what he was talking about. None of them would be able to relate.
Except maybe Xellos.
And at this point it was entirely possible that the bastard had gone and killed himself.
Zelgadis knew that the Mazoku had been at least injured. Just touching his soul had caused Xellos pain, but he had still been gentle, manipulating the chimera's spirit with surprising tenderness. It had still hurt, of course, but not as much as it had the first time, and certainly not as much as being fused with a brow demon against his will.
Then it hit him suddenly. Xellos had touched his soul with his Astral body, and the only words Zelgadis could think to describe it made him sound like a blushing virgin trying to talk about sex. And that thought did make him blush.
It was time to take Lina up on that Sleeping spell.
Xellos slowly regained awareness, and was mildly surprised by it. He honestly had thought, upon seeing his faded Astral body, that he would not survive. That he would, in human terms, die.
But regaining awareness made him aware that he had survived through the intervention of another. It certainly wasn't Beastmaster; Mazoku were far too stingy with their power for him to expect that. As Gaav had sacrificed Kanzeil and Mazenda in a misguided attempt to kill Lina, and Phibrizzo had his minions in the War of the Monster's Fall, Zelas would not hesitate to leave him to his fate, especially since Xellos was no longer in her thrall.
This Power was greater and more ancient than even that of Ruby-Eye Shabranigdu. It was a Force he had felt before, but both times before It had been a Power of Destruction. In lesser potency It had destroyed part of Shabranigdu. And that same Power had coursed stronger through Lina Inverse to Unmake Hellmaster. This was so much more, unfettered and uncontained, surrounding him.
When he dared to open his eyes, Xellos found what he saw incomprehensible, everything and nothing simultaneously, an endless simple and yet unfathomably intricate tapestry stretching and stretching into forever and never, the endless Sea of Chaos, molten gold and yet darker than darkness, blacker than night, unknowable, empty of all and yet filled with—
He quickly closed them again, his mind rejecting what he had seen. He could not look upon the Mother of All, and doubted anyone could. Even Lina Inverse, the only known mortal to act as a vessel to She Who Shines Like Gold upon the Sea of Chaos, had burned all memory of Her from her mind, and Xellos now knew it must have been to preserve her sanity. The Golden Lord's Power shifted, and he could feel Her Amusement, but She did not Speak.
Could not Speak, he realized after a moment, in any way that he could comprehend. She was Chaos, and had no Voice that could be heard by him. Even a creature such as he, born to chaos and destruction, could not grasp the embodiment of it. And had he been able to understand, it was likely that Her Voice would have Destroyed him, or at least driven him mad.
There was much he wished to ask Her, and the inability to communicate was frustrating. She had saved him, and he had no idea why or what She might Desire in return. Had all the Mazoku lords met Her at some point? No; he doubted that. Had they, Phibrizzo would have known better than to have tampered with Her.
The Miasma shifted again, and Xellos felt that She was Pleased with him. He had pleased the Mother of All, and while the idea made him giddy—or perhaps that was an aftereffect of looking upon Her—he didn't know how. Why She would not want him to merge with the Chaos was beyond him. Whatever he had done had Pleased and Amused Her enough to intervene and prevent his death.
What he had done… Xellos remembered Zelgadis with a jolt, and wondered if he was alive. If he remembered correctly, he had successfully healed the chimera's soul, but he wasn't sure if he had managed to balance his three aspects. His memory muddled at the end, and the thought that he had perhaps failed after all was painful.
Her Amusement hit him again, overwhelming him and stopping his thoughts cold. This time there was more than simple Amusement; it was tinged with Pleasure and a kind of wistful Knowledge that he, again, could not comprehend. She Touched him and the agony of Chaos Tore at him, then was gone. L-sama released him, and he fell through the Sea of Chaos and into the Astral plane, where consciousness again left him.
Lina had decreed that none of them were going anywhere until she was sure that Zel was okay. Amelia and Gourry had agreed, but the chimera wasn't happy with it. She'd cast Sleeping on him that first day, but Lina wasn't willing to take risks when the cost could be his life.
Still, Zel was getting more and more restless as time went on. They were partway through breakfast several days after Xellos had disappeared, when Zel casually raised his hand and cast Lighting without warning.
Amelia's fork dropped from her fingers. “Zelgadis-san!”
Lina glared at him, losing the last piece of toast to Gourry, who nearly dropped it in apparent shock at winning. “What the hell do you think you're doing?”
“Proving that I'm fine,” the chimera replied, maddeningly calm. “I could cast some Spirit Shamanism if you need more proof.”
She decked him, cutting her knuckles on his hair, but he just stared up at her smugly from the floor as the other patrons backed away nervously. “You could've killed yourself, you jerk!”
“We're not accomplishing anything staying here, Lina. I'm sick of being cooped up for no reason.” He picked himself up off the floor. “We might as well continue on to Seyruun.”
“Xellos was going to go there, right? If he's okay, he'll go there,” Gourry said.
“I want to be there to protect Seyruun!” Amelia struck a justice pose, then relaxed and grinned. “We could stay at the palace! Daddy would love to have royal guests, and he likes all of you!”
Lina's merchant fingers twitched. Free lodging and food for the rest of the winter was too much to pass up, especially with how great the palace chefs cooked. And, well, wanderlust only did so much to counter the irritation of trekking around in the snow and dealing with the inconvenience of frequent winter storms. She didn't do well with interrupted journeys.
If nothing else, they'd be able to enjoy Phil-san's hospitality, though Lina figured if Xellos wasn't dead he'd show up there to try to put whatever plan he had for Seyruun in motion. She honestly wasn't sure whether to hope he was alive or not. He'd been a decent comrade at times, and even if he was a Mazoku he'd kind of grown on her, though she was sure his continued existence didn't do much good for the world.
Either way she was going to be there to stop him if it came to it.
Lina crossed her arms. “Fine. We'll go to Seyruun.” The sorceress glared at Zel. “But you are going to take it easy. Don't push yourself. If you get sick again, it'll just hold us up. Plus if we do need to fight Xellos, I want you at one hundred percent!”
The chimera smiled, and Amelia cheered. Gourry, on the other hand, scratched his head. “Why would we need to fight Xellos?”
They started off an hour later, after the swelling went down.
Something people are probably going to note is there is a lot of information in here from the novels, but events like Lina becoming the vessel of the Lord of Nightmares at the end of Next are in keeping with the anime. Uh, yeah. Let's go with that explanation.
I really hope my description of the Lord of Nightmares doesn't sound completely insane. I see her as something that none can understand. Even Xellos, faced with what is technically his own creator—or his creator's creator's creator? Well, anyway, his God—cannot comprehend. I'll hold off on the philosophical explanation. Also, the capitalizations are entirely on purpose and have a logic behind them, but not one I really feel like explaining. I seriously obsessed over that section, and anything that is capitalized should be, and what isn't is on purpose as well.
I know a bunch of folks are reading this, but knowing I have readers doesn't really tell me much about what y'all think of the fic. I enjoy writing this, but I'm in unfamiliar territory with Slayers. I've only been into the series for a few months, and while I've consumed the anime and novels and some of the manga in that period, I'm not as intimate with the characters as I'd like (I don't mean it that way, you pervs).
To stop beating around the bush… Basically, I'd really appreciate reviews. Feedback is the only payment fanfiction writers get, and while I'm not going to do something as childishly sadomasochistic as threaten to stop writing if I don't get reviews, it really helps me not agonize over things if I know I'm at least going in the right direction or not, say, alienating readers because I totally suck.
Chrissy and Chrislea helped me beta again, so kudos to them! Also thanks to Lily for catching a typo!