Chapter Two: Unfolding

"Why?" The middle aged woman turned to look at the girl with hair of flame who had somehow blundered into the public library of Guildton. Lina shrugged, looking around at the enormous bookcases crammed to the brim with hundreds upon thousands of texts and manuscripts, fantasies and histories. It was a truly awe-inspiring sight, even if you weren't interested in books. Lina adored any written word she could get her grubby little hands on, and repeatedly wished she had enough room in her backpack to drag her personal library around with her. As it was, she had only taken her ten favorite books with her when she ran away, and they were very obviously loved and read often.

I wonder why there is such a huge Library in such a small town, Lina wondered, craning her neck to see the tops of the shelves high above. Lina could spend her life there if she had to, doing nothing but inhale the beautiful scent of old paper and ink, sitting in the piles of books doing nothing but lying about and reading. If there were a heaven, Lina decided, it would smell like old books. Lina loved the scent more than roses.

"Why?" The woman at the mahogany counter repeated, looking impatient. Lina jumped and smiled sheepishly as the lady glared at her.

"I... ah... I live at the old house..." Lina stuttered. This person was far to easily intimidating to be anything other than a librarian. You could just picture the researching students paling at the sight of the tight-lipped lady glaring down at them as their voices rose over the approved decibel. She certainly made Lina nervous, though the fearless wandering redhead would never admit it. "And I wanted to know more about the stories I heard." No, I am not telling her that I just ran away from the house as fast as I possibly can after the ghost yelled at me. I would rather not live in the loony bin instead.

The Librarian sniffed audibly and tried to look anywhere but at Lina. Did she know him? Maybe I should have looked it up in newspapers... I don't want a crying librarian on my hands... But the woman walked away from her desk and towards one of the little reading coves.

"Zelgadis was a very solitary man," the woman said finally, staring at the ceiling as though it may hold the ghost's face in the paint above. "He didn't like people very much." She sighed and sat down on a large mahogany chair, motioning for Lina o do the same next to her. Lina sat slowly on the hard wood, not wanting to interrupt the woman. So his name is Zelgadis, Lina thought slowly as the woman described him. What an odd thing to call your child.

"Zelgadis was a very, very skilled artist. He had a knack for making a creation perfect as the sun, as lovely as the moon..." The woman trailed off, smiling slightly. "His works were exquisite, perfect symmetry and form pulling the watcher into the beauty of it. The picture would look exactly like a photograph." She chuckled rubbed an eye with one perfectly manicured hand. "But he was always angry. Zelgadis was amazing enough to have an entire town spring up from where he lived, simply because he lived there, but he hated his work."

Lina looked at the woman as though she were insane. "But if he was so amazing, why would he - " The woman shook her head to silence the impatient redhead before her.

"Zelgadis hated his work because it was never alive." The woman said slowly, looking into her lap at the two hands tightly squeezed together. "All his drawings were perfect lines on paper, or perfect cuts in clay. But they weren't alive, there was no emotion. The eyes in his statues gazed out dully - his paintings stood still. The sketches in his books always looked like sketches of perfect statues.

"Zelgadis worked like a madman to become better. Art was his love, but it was also his obsession. And love is only the mirror side of hate; Zelgadis hated art because he would never be perfect, never be as good as he wanted to be." Lina had fallen into a trance by now, staring at the woman who was one of those people who would never grow old. She was a tall, regal woman, her silver and gold hair trailing far down her back. The silver strands in hre hair and slight anger lines between her brows were the only show of age upon her, and her lovely blue eyes staring like lost souls at someone only she could see. Lina shuddered at the thought and tried to refocus her attention on the storyteller before her. The woman smiled into the distance, then continued. "Zelgadis would go days without sleep, slaving away at research and practice. But none of his works were ever alive. Later, he said that his creations were dead because he was dead. Zelgadis had no care for anything other than the art that he also hated, and rarely spoke to other human beings."

"It did not help that his supposed friend was constantly taunting him," The librarian's sweet tone turned angry, filling the area about them with annoyance and an old grudge. "Xellos was always telling him how he would never find a way to become better, that a moron such as Zelgadis could never become more skilled. Zelgadis never showed that any of this hurt him, but it struck him to the bone. Xellos was a large factor in the reason Zelgadis nearly went insane from his obsession."

"So what happened?" Lina asked, pulling her knees up to her chin to stare at the librarian as the woman's anger died down. She flipped her waterfall of silvery gold over her shoulder and stared at the floor.

"Amelia happened." She said softly.

"Amelia?" Lina asked, moving forwards in her chair. Now I even have a name to go with that sculpture! Lina crowed happily in her mind while listening intently to the librarian. Amelia... she must have hurt him deeply...

The woman stood abruptly, ignoring Lina's squeak of protest. "That is all I will say. Leave the dead their peace, girl, as they leave you yours." The woman walked back behind her desk and proceeded to pretend that Lina was not there. Lina was about to throw a tantrum, but that would defeat any chance of her persuading the old woman to talk to her later. Lina sighed in defeat and left the towering library in a sullen cloud of depression. She went outside and sat in the aging grey cement steps in front of the library.

"Ah, what's you're problem, pretty one?" Lina looked up startled to see a cheerful looking man of perhaps fifty smiling down at her. His soft, purple tinted silver hair fell into his eyes, and his smile was full of sunshine and happiness. Amethyst eyes half closed from the force of his smile, he looked as though nothing could upset him in the world. Though his hair gave away the fact that he was no longer thirty, he would forever look young, no matter what he did. "Did old lizard lips yell at you for talking in the library?"

There was a loud bang, and the perfectly carved wooden doors of the library slammed open, revealing a very annoyed librarian. She stomped down the steps, giving Lina the panicked impression that she was a tornado with a little red button being the only thing keeping it from destroying Tokyo. And this man looked exactly as though he would push that button simply to see what would happen. Lina edged out of firing range.

The librarian stomped up to the maniacally grinning man, looking for all the world as though she was ready to kill him. However, the purple haired man didn't look the least bit scared. He looked more as though he were enjoying her reaction immensely. "Why, Felia! What a pleasant surprise! What are you doing here?"

"I work here, Namagomi," Felia growled, reaching into the pocket of her pink and white ruffled dress and pulling out a small bottle of something. "And I have told you time and again, Xellos, to NEVER call me lizard lips!!" Oh, so this is Xellos. Yes, he does look like someone who would joke to an obsessor about how awful their work is...

"Maa, Felia-chan! It's not my fault your lips are so amphibious! I was only putting truth in advertising - " Xellos smiled happily and held his hands out before him as if trying to block the tempest.

"Quit screwing up using your damn big words, I know that you don't make any sense and so do you!" Lina simple sat and watched as the two bickered cheerfully at each other. Who says romance is dead? Lina mused cheerfully as she watched Felia threaten Xellos with a bottle of mace. They're old and they're STILL acting like teenagers... Lina thought in the tone that all teenagers carried, that anyone over 25 was immediately a withered old crone. It's kind of cute, actually. However, Felia didn't seem to be joking about the mace. Lina quickly got out of the way and hurried off before Felia could accidentally send the spray her way.

Lina jogged down the dirt road, sending dust up into her face and clothes. It had turned her ever-changing hair into a more sunset rose color, and she swore that she would wash it out as soon as possible. While it was better than greasy hair, Lina hated dusty hair with a passion. In fact, Lina truly hated her hair being dirty at all. The dirt and oil of living in the woods was always immediately taken care of each morning my a stream and a little biodegradable soap, leaving her fresh as a daisy. But oh, the wonders of a hot shower. Lina shivered in ecstasy as she remembered the hot spray of water raining down on her, The steam filling the room. Heaven, She decided, is a hot shower filled with the scent of old books.

Lina cane to the main part of the town and slowed to a walk. She was clean and neat, but her torn jeans, ragged tank top and beat up leather boots tended to make people extremely suspicious of her. A new face in town was never welcome, and a young, poor face was highly looked down upon., She hadn't had any cops chasing her since her first three towns, but she didn't want to slip up in her haste and end up in jail for the night. While that worked very nicely if it was raining too hard outside, it was a beautiful day, and she already had a roof.

A large building with a bright red roof told the world that it was 'Sylphiel's Bakery' in large, purple letters. Outside a soft looking woman of about thirty five swept off the steps in front. Her raven hair fell in rivlets down her back, and her huge, sapphire orbs of eyes looked up to see the redhead walking down the road. She smiled, and the feeling that radiated from her was full of milk and candy. She simply oozed 'older sister' and had a perfect, sweet personality that entranced all who saw her. She set her broom aside and padded softly up to the bewildered Lina.

Lina turned to look at the woman, who simply gave her candy-sweet smile and held out a hand. "Hello. My name is Sylphiel." She said, in a voice full of bells and angel song. "You must be new in town, I haven't seen you before. Won't you come in? I like to know everyone in town." Sylphiel motioned towards her bakery, and Lina almost complied before remembering she was on limited assets.

"I can't," Lina said, lost in the deep blue depths of the woman's eyes, "I don't have the money to spare, I'm sorry - "

Sylphiel laughed. "It's on the house, dear! I wouldn't charge you for your company." She pulled the amazed redhead into the store and sat her down, before pulling a fresh pan of gingerbread from the oven. "Here, have some," she offered, holding out a square of the dark brown cake on a beautifully painted plate. Lina nodded, still in shock, and the woman put the rest into the display case on the counter.

The inside of the store was what every homemaker wanted. Honey-hued wooden walls were decorated along the corners with beautifully carved flowers, set into the molding as though the artist had simply decided one day to carve them into the already finished room. The warm brown of the tables matched their overstuffed chairs perfectly, setting off the green velvet beautifully. It was softly lit, with chairs, tables, and couches strewn about the room in a careless pattern that probably took hours to achieve but looked as though they had simply been dumped off the truck. It gave the shop a homey, intimate feel and Lina felt immediately at home. Home... Lina felt herself fall from her temporary happiness back into the depression she had found herself frequenting far too often. This shop was filled to the brim with pure happiness and love, and it was obvious that the owner lived in the back of the shop. No one could put this much love into a room without living in it. It wasn't work, it was something to do on slow afternoons. I wish I had that... Lina sadly thought to herself, as Sylphiel made her cheerful way over to the couch Lina had plopped down upon. I wish I had a home. Lina stared morosely at her gingerbread as she pulled herself further and further into depression. Lina had always hated staying in one place, but she wished she had a choice. She would always hear one of her temporary traveling companions complaining about the weather and praising the perfect weather 'back home'. Never mind the weather was never as good as they recalled it, they had a home to remember and wish they were at. A place sometime, somewhere, that they could look forward to seeing again. A place that was full of only them. Not an apartment, not a hotel room. A house as full of love as this little shop was, a room that was entirely theirs and filled with their very being. A home. Lina sank in her chair and glared at the innocent brown gingerbread in front of her.

"Miss?" Lina looked up to see a worried Sylphiel looking down at her. "Is there something wrong with the gingerbread?" Lina shook her head quickly, trying to come up with something to say. Lina hated being caught sulking. But this town was too full of love, Lina somehow felt left out.

"I...Isn't gingerbread usually a cookie?" Lina covered, smiling slightly. The only gingerbread she had ever seen was the little man-shaped cookies the stores put out at Christmas. To tell the truth, Lina had never been very fond of them.

Sylphiel laughed. It was the sound of birds and joy. Lina found herself wishing that she could hear that laugh always, and to never leave the woman's loving store. "That's what everyone says," Sylphiel explained, smiling from ear to ear and somehow making it seem delicate. "This is really more of a ginger and molasses cake, but it's the original gingerbread, before someone came up with the idea of making cookies." The gingerbread was a slightly sticky deep brown, and smelled of molasses. "It's my favorite. I'm sure you'll love it. Try a bite." Lina hesitantly took a bite of the bread, and felt ecstasy soar through her mouth. It had the consistency of a perfect brownie, and it tasted of molasses and brown sugar with only a hint of ginger. Lina had never really liked molasses or ginger, but the gingerbread blended so many other flavors she couldn't place around the base flavor that I was heaven to taste. The gingerbread was gone in seconds, leaving behind only a happy smile. Sylphiel laughed again, offering yet another piece, which Lina devoured just as fast.

"So what brings you to Guildton?" Sylphiel asked after Lina had guiltily devoured the entire pan. Lina offered to pay, but Sylphiel had refused, telling Lina that if she hadn't wanted her to eat, she wouldn't have offered. Lina was too skinny anyway, she said, and she needed some good food.

"Wandering feet," Lina replied. It was her reply every time anyone asked her. Lina just couldn't stay still. She would find a nice place that bought her paintings, sit around for maybe a month at the longest before her roaming feet carried her away again. "I heard it was welcoming to artists."

Sylphiel clapped her hands happily and smiled. "Oh, a wandering artist! We had one of those when I was small. He loved it here so much that he came back every half a year or so." She gestured towards the plate and the carved flowers. "He did these. One day he came in and said it needed something before asking for my mother's permission to carve the flowers. The plates were for my birthday. He would always draw little flowers on my cheek when I asked him to." She smiled happily. "I miss him so much. I was so proud when he called me a big girl on the day he gave me those. He said I was going to make my business boom, and I would need a lovely set of plates to go with my fabulous cooking. He may have been lying through his teeth, but it was sweet."

Lina looked up at the flowers on the molding. So it had been directly carved in. "Who was he?"

"I'm sure you've heard of him, everyone has. It was Zelgadis Greywyrds." Lina looked abruptly at Sylphiel, and the woman gave her a confused look. "Is something wrong? I didn't mean to - "

"No," Lina said, interrupting her quickly, waving her hands cheerfully, "Nothing's wrong. It's just I've been trying to find out more about him ever since I came here. I live in his old house, you see." Yes, the flowers were in his style. They were carved with the happiness and love of a young child, and that was one of the reasons this little shop had such a beautiful feeling to it. "He made you talk to him while he carved them, didn't he?" Lina said softly, staring at the flowers. They had a certain feel to it, something that whispered Sylphiel. If the woman had been an artist, Lina would have suspected she had carved them.

Sylphiel looked at her oddly. "Why yes, he did. How did you..."

"You're in them." Lina said softly, still looking at the flowers. "Zelgadis wanted you there so he could give them your life." He had no life to put into her things, he wanted them to be part of her... Lina was amazed. Zelgadis was an artist. He must have had such amazing ideals to be able to do that, place another's love into something he was making. Perhaps he had no love to give it, and the talent grew from necessity, Lina mused, gazing at the entwining buds and blossoms making their way about the room.

Sylphiel stared at her. "That's what he said," she whispered softly, tears forming in her eyes. "Zelgadis said that. I'm glad." Then the woman burst into tears, leaving a thoroughly confused Lina to dry them.

"What... why are you glad?" Lina stuttered, trying to comprehend the sudden flow of tears. The woman's thin, graceful shoulders shook with every sob, and her slim, lovely hands were held tightly over her sapphire eyes. Lina awkwardly put an arm around her shoulder and tried to comfort her. Being used to living alone, Lina was really not very good at this.

"It's just.. it's just I..." Sylphiel halted her flow of tears, smiling through them and wiping them away. Woah, can we say mood swings? Lina thought, staring at the sadly happy woman before her. Lina hadn't know anyone could be sadly happy, but Sylphiel managed it. "I'm glad you moved in."

That threw Lina for a loop. "Why?" This woman didn't even know her. Why would she be so...

Sylphiel smiled, staring at the flowers. "Because you are like he was. He had the life, he just had it buried. Iw as afraid some rich investor would buy the house. Zelgadis would hate that." Sylphiel smiled at Lina now, taking one hand in hers. "Please help him. He's very hurt. He needs someone to give him life again."

Lina stared at her, confused by the cryptic remark. "But... he's already..."

"Life isn't just being in a body," The raven haired woman silenced Lina quickly, "It's being in love. In love with nature, flowers, someone else. In love with a mother, a child, a cool summer breeze. Zelgadis had the ability to love, but he was afraid of it. When he finally opened up, it was thrown back into his face. Now he's dead in every way. He needs someone to teach him love again before he can ever do anything other than haunt that old house." Sylphiel looked as though she were about to say more when the door opened and a tall blond walked in, weighed down by a huge pile of groceries. She rushed to help him before the bags fell over the perfectly polished wood floor, and Lina saw herself out.

Chapter 3   |   Fanfiction