Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Twenty ( Chapter 20 )

[ 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 Twenty
Lina woke confused and more than a little disoriented. It was still dark, and she seemed to recall talking to Xellos, but she was still in the chair where she'd been reading. Maybe it had been a dream. Except that the book in her hands was upside-down.
The conversation came back to her. Ah, yes. Xellos was no longer a servant of Beastmaster, and had implied that he was actually a Mazoku Lord. And then, her last memory…
I doubt the Mother of All would take kindly to me killing Her General.
Oh, this was not good at all. Whatever was going on, Lina wanted no part of it. But as usual it was looking like her desires weren't going to be considered. Xellos seemed to think that she was actually L-sama's general, which probably meant that the Mazoku were going to mess with her again. Though if Xellos knew what had happened to Phibrizzo… Lina just didn't know anymore.
Lina stood, letting the book fall to the floor without noticing. Zel. Her first priority was making sure Zel was okay. She couldn't do anything about the other stuff, but she could beat the crap out of the chimera for pulling something so stupid and nearly getting himself killed for the umpteenth time recently.
Zel wasn't in his room. She made sure to check the balcony in case he had decided to revisit his stupidity, but he wasn't there either. And he hadn't left, because his traveling gear was in his room. Thank L-sama for small favors. The problem was that there simply weren't many places the chimera might be. She'd just been in the library, and she hadn't seen him there. She checked the armory in case he was goofing off down there, but no dice. Wandering down random corridors wasn't very helpful either.
Finally Lina decided to take a break and get some food to stop her stomach from gnawing away her spine. And, of course, the kitchen was exactly where she found him.
“Finally decided to stop starving yourself, huh?” He looked up at her, startled. “Almost dying a wake-up call?”
Zel looked away. “You talked to Xellos, I take it. It wasn't intentional, even if he seems to think it was.”
She sat down across from him and snagged a baked sweet potato from his plate to munch on. She honestly wasn't sure whether to believe him, but she'd give him the benefit of the doubt. At least, she figured, he was finally eating. “So what happened?”
The chimera didn't answer for a moment. Lina was ready to physically convince him that it wasn't optional when he finally spoke. “I felt trapped and went out for fresh air. I didn't realize how exhausted I was. I'm not suicidal, Lina.” Zel pushed some food around his plate. “I… Part of me always knew I'd never be human again. But I still had hope, that maybe there was a way. Now I don't.”
“Zel, there still might be—”
“Don't.” He still wouldn't look at her. “It'll be worse if I delude myself. I just have to accept it, that I'll always be a monster.”
Lina barely restrained herself from hitting him. “You're not a monster!”
“Pitchfork-wielding villagers seem to think I am. They tend to have the final say.”
Now she did hit him, and stood over him glaring. “I'll Dragon Slave their asses if they do! Who cares what you look like?”
Zel was silent for a moment, then finally looked at her. “Lina, even you thought I was a monster at first. So did Amelia. People are always going to have that reaction, and not many are willing to look past what I look like. There's no chance of me ever leading a normal life.”
Lina looked away, feeling a bit ashamed, as Zel got up. She had thought of him as a monster at first, and not just because he had kidnapped her and was running with a gang of beast-people at the time. She had judged him based on his appearance. “You have us, Zel. We're not going to leave you behind. We may not live normal lives, but you're part of them.”
“I know.”
She patted his shoulder awkwardly. “Things are going to be okay, Zel.”
The chimera sighed. “Maybe eventually, but not right now.”
“Dammit, Zel—”
He cut her off. “What do you want me to do? Pretend I'm just fine when I'm not? Plaster a fake smile on like Xellos? I'm not like that, Lina. I need some time.”
Lina deflated. “Just… We're here for you. You know that.”
“Kind of hard to forget. You're loud.”
She nearly broke her hand on his face.
Xellos was starting to question his sanity, as questionable as its existence already was. He had, again, given Lina far too much information. And then he had kissed Zelgadis, which certainly wasn't the wisest course of action. It was, in fact, probably one of the most foolish, but there was no taking it back now.
He lounged against a cloud, lazily watching the earth below as snow fell from behind him. There had to be something for him to do aside from think about his own foolishness. He could, perhaps, go harass some dragons, though that could have the unsavory side effect of starting another war—something that, he hated to admit, the Mazoku could hardly afford at this point. Filia was, of course, fair game since she had gone loner, but he could think of far less irritating ways to find entertainment.
The Mazoku was considering what other forms of mayhem he might wreak when he sensed and narrowly dodged an energy blast, summersaulting off the cloud as though it had a solid surface. He turned to face his attacker, only to be taken aback as he recognized her.
This Mazoku was not one of Dolphin or Dynast's, but instead was a minion of the Beastmaster. While he wouldn't necessarily put it past Zelas to get rid of him before he became an opponent, he doubted she would use such a direct method or one of her best remaining spies. It was simply wasteful to send someone as unfit for combat as Nyx.
Nyx was a river of black, streaking across the bright sky. There were simply no shadows to blend into here. She was unsuited for combat, and an assassination attempt would best be done in a setting where she could blend in. Zelas would have known better than to send even Nyx's combat twin, Xiuh, after him here.
This did not make sense.
“Yare yare. Your brother would be better suited for this battle.”
She did not respond, instead attacking him awkwardly. Xellos frowned as he dodged; Nyx was anything but clumsy. Instead of following him here, she would have bided her time, waiting for him to be in a place where he could be ambushed, then attacked him with subtlety and poise. Instead of moving with fluid grace, her body moved like that of a marionette, in short jerks.
Xellos decided that it would be best to capture her and take her to Zelas. If this was one of the Beastmaster's orders, he would be surprised. Whatever was causing this was not natural, and if Dolphin and Dynast had somehow manipulated one of her minions, the situation could be more dire than they had thought.
He surrounded Nyx with Astral energy, forming it into a net and moving swiftly down her serpentine body to trap her. She hissed with pain, flailing ineffectively as he wove the ends of the Astral net together.
But before he could take her to the Astral plane, to Wolf Pack Island to confer with Zelas, Nyx exploded, eaten away somehow from within by White magic. Xellos was barely able to shield himself from its remnants.
Something was very wrong.
Zelgadis found that he wasn't surprised by Lina's account of her conversation with Xellos. Amelia and Gourry had joined them in the kitchen as dawn broke. That was apparently been what Lina had been waiting for. Their reactions were, of course, predictable.
“Xellos-san has become a true enemy of Justice!”
It wasn't anything different from what Amelia had said on a regular basis about the Mazoku, and it was all Zelgadis could do not to roll his eyes. He somehow doubted that Xellos was any more of a threat than he ever had been.
Gourry scratched his cheek, his brow furrowed in thought for a few seconds. “Ano, Lina, what's the difference? I mean, he was Mazoku before, right?”
“He's higher ranking now, Jellyfish Brains. He's independent, meaning he can cause all sorts of new trouble,” Lina continued after Gourry retrieved some ice for his head. The sorceress looked at Zelgadis. “You don't seem too surprised.”
The chimera sighed. “It makes sense. He mentioned he was no longer Beastmaster's priest, but didn't really go into detail about it. She's apparently pretty pissed at me, by the way. It seems that I've been blamed for whatever's going on. I'd say I'm a little more worried about that than Xellos. I doubt he really knows what to do with himself.”
Zel had lied, he realized. He was, in fact, more worried about Xellos' intentions than the Beastmaster's wrath, but there was no way in hell he was telling them about what Xellos had done. He couldn't quite figure out what the damned Mazoku meant by it, anyway. It hadn't explained a damn thing about what was going on and why Xellos had helped him. The bastard insisted on kissing him to avoid giving him a real answer.
Zelgadis would have rather been told it was a secret.
Lina frowned and studied him, and he just stared back at her, giving her nothing. He had the right to his own secrets, and knew well enough that she was keeping her own. She didn't pursue it. “We'll be on guard, then, in case she does come after you. She'll have to get through me.”
Zel wondered who would guard him from whatever Xellos had planned for him.
Bet you can guess what secret Lina's keeping.
I sincerely apologize for the delay between chapters. I didn't expect such a long delay, but… Well, I'm a lesbian (yes, I realize it's strange that I write slash) and I live in CA. You can imagine how my last few weeks have been: a complete fucking nightmare. It's basically meant that outside of my IRL duties I've basically been incapable of doing anything productive. I'm finally out of the “crying, raging, drinking, and sometimes all three at once” stage, which is a plus. Getting drunk, crying, raging, and then passing out never really does anything except give me a hangover. Y'all should see my Facebook feed for the past few weeks. Ho~oly shit.
In any case, it's on with the show now. I have the end in mind, as well as the rest of the story, which hopefully won't get the same results as it did with “Suicide” (i.e. never finishing it). I'm sure Chrissy will keep kicking me in the ass until this is done, so that's a blessing for all of you.
Chrissy and Chrislea, again, did the beta reading for me.