Cold. I am so cold. I feel the warmth flow away from me like water, leaving me cold and berift. Opening my eyes, I see two blurry forms in front of me. I blink and they resolve to two people, a tall man in red robes and a young woman in the robes of a priestess. She speaks. "The expirament is a sucess, Rezo-sama."
"Excellent, Eris. Then I will begin the procedure at once." The man's voice is deep, formal and cold.
"What shall we do with him?"
"I do not care. Do what you like with him, Eris." He turns and leaves. Eris comes over to me and kneels down, placing her hands on my shoulders. Her hands are soft and warm, like her voice and her eyes are filled with compassion. "Are you all right? Let's get you some clothes."
II finish the report on the latest test. Although sucessful on others, like other attempts, it still was useless in Rezo's case. He suddenly overturns the table with a crash. "Why?" he shouts. "Why will my eyes not open? Why must I be cursed to this darkness?" He sits down again and draws a few shuddering breathes. I keep silent. "Eris?"
I step closer. "Yes, Rezo-sama?" I am afraid of what will come next.
"We have tried every possible method in white and shamanistic magic." he says. "It appears that there is only one possible avenue left to explore. Black magic."
I am saddened, although not surprised. Over the past ten years, Rezo has been growing more and more desperate to find a cure to his blindness. That he should finally turn to the arts forbidden to a priest of Sairaag is not unexpected. Yet I am disappointed, for I can no longer aid him in his reasearch. I have laquired much skill in white and shamanistic magic in addition to my work with clones and chimeras over the past 10 years, but I have no talent for black magic. Now, he will take a new assistant, and I will be forced to leave him, to some stranger who will not care, who will not love him the way I do. I feel the tears come to my eyes, but I fight them back. "Yes, Rezo-sama. I will begin packing immediatly."
"Packing?" He looks surprised.
"Yes. You will need a new person to assist you, someone who can cast the demons' spells, as i cannot. I would prefer to allow you as much space as you need for your new servant."
"Hmmm, how inconvenient. A new person will require a lot of training in my methods, which will take time from my research. On the other hand... " he leans forward. "It would be a simple matter of altering your body a little."
"What?" He cradles my face in his large hands. "A mazoku-human chimera would be usefull" he says.
Suddenly, power flows through my body, bringing pain. It is as though I had been struck by lightning, except it goes on for several minutes, changing the cells in my body. When it is over, I collapse, weak from the transformation and overwhelmed by the new sensations. I am on the cold floor, paralyzed by the change, and I feel him walk away. I want to call out, but I cannot say anything. I am left alone, and berift of all comfort.
I am fending off Rodimus with a practice pole when Eris comes in. She smiles at us all, and sets the trays down. "Here is your lunch."
"Huh" Zelgadis snorts. "If it is'nt Grandfather's favorite slave."
"Why do you say that?" she queries him.
"You help that madman and yet are still human. Why else?" He grabs his tray and turns to eat in the corner with Rodimus and Zolf. He is still bitter about his transformation, and although Eris had nothing to do with it, he still blames her. She manages to hide the hurt from her face, but her eyes are filled with pain. Zelgadis's continued hostility and scathing comments were making a mockery of their former close friendship. She turns to escape, but I manage to catch her arm. "Ignore him. You can join me for the meal." She smiles gratefully at me and sits down with me across the room from the trio.
"Why do you not tell him about what happened to you?" I knew all about the ordeal she went through, after I had found her curled up on the floor of the lab, still trying to deal with the psychic onslaught.
"What would be the point? He still would not believe me, and it would just make him angrier. Maybe later, after he has calmed down a bit, I will tell him."
I shake my head. Zelgadis does not realize it, but he has more in common with us than he thinks. We all have been wronged by him in some way. Zelgadis's scars are more visual, but he is not the only one who has been betrayed. After all, the same thing that happened to him happened to Eris. She trusted Rezo, and then he altered her very being. And to be created like I was, just to test one procedure, and then to be scrapped, is more than coldly callous. That is why I owe Eris my life. If she had not defended my right to live, even as a clone, Rezo would have killed me after the failed procedure. But she is right. To try to tell Zelgadis this, at this point, would be mere folly.
"Why can I not go with you? Why must I stay home?"
"I need someone to take care of the lab for me. You have worked with me the longest, and know enough to keep it running."
I fall to my knees, clutching the hem of his robe. "Please let me come. I would do anything to stay with you."
But he shakes his head and disentagles my fingers from the edge of his robe. "No" he says. "You will remain here and await our return." Then he turns, and without a backwards glance walks away from me.
"Rezo!" I cry, but he does not acknowledge me. Somehow, I feel like this is the last time I will see him. I watch the road until the moon comes up, before returning to the house, where Gemini waits for me. He looks at me with an unusual expression in his mismatched eyes, one that I cannot read.
"Is he gone?" he asks.
"Yes" I say sadly, turning away from so that he cannot see the despair on my face. I walk back into the empty house, feeling my heart break like glass.
"Thank you for telling me. No, I will be fine. You are welcome and you can go now." I listen from beneath the shadow of the stairs as Eris closes the door and then races up to her room. Poor child. She has been waiting for almost a year for him to return, and now he is dead. I slowly follow her. At her door, I listen to her softly sobbing, and feel my heart melt. She was the only one in my life to show me any kindness, and now she lies in her room, broken-hearted. Unable to take it anymore, I quietly enter her room, and see her curled up on the bed.
"Eris?" She looks up at me, then turns away.
"Go away Gemini." Rather than follow, I sit beside her, and hold her in my arms. She is so sad, and it pains me beyond any physical damage. I would do anything for her.
"Eris look at me." She looks at me. It is painful, for right now all she sees is his reflection, a pale shadow. "I will help you get revenge on that flame-haired witch. She will pay for what she has done to you."
"Why ...?" She is confused. Why would I help her? She had heard me complain often enough about being a clone, and she helped create me. But in creating me, she gave me life and in my life she was kind. It is unbelievable, yet I have fallen in love with her. If she could just set him aside ...
"Eris, see me, not the face I wear." I stare into her deep blue eyes and will all my feelings for her to the surface, hoping that this time, her eyes will reflect me, not some dead man's reflection. An eternity later, her tears slow and stop.
"Yes" she whispers. "Yes. I wonder why I never saw it before." Her eyes are now truly looking into mine, and are a glowing amber. I feel my heart leap. This is true wealth, a treasure he could never posess. The look of joy in her eyes, her beautiful smile, are mine. I cup her face in my shaking hands, close my eyes, and lean down to kiss her soft lips...
Behind the desk, I surreptitiously tug my skirt down another meager inch. It took me a while to be able to wear this black leather outfit without constantly blushing. It is so different from my old priestess outfit, but Gemini is right, few priestesses would be out there hiring mercenaries. This outfit fits my new persona better, no matter how uncomfortable I am. I speak to the last applicant. "You are Zangulus, correct? I am Eris. I have looked over your resume and it is very impressive. You have not lost one target, and you also claim to have never lost a swordfight either."
The dark swordsman leans back and smiles at me. "Yeah, I'm the best."
"Mmmhmm. Could you come with me to the practice field and demonstrate your skill for me, perhaps?"
We adjourn to the field. Zangulus turns out to be as good as his claim. Coming back, I decide that he and the second-to-last applicant would be perfect for the job. "How do you feel about sorcerers?"
"As in taking a job? Completely indifferent. As partners, they're great, if a bit loopy sometimes. As a target, however, that's a whole different buisness."
"Do not worry. You will not be expected to tangle with them. Could you please go back to the waiting room and return with the sorcerer Vrumagen. He is the one with the red jewel on his forehead. You can tell the rest to leave" He exits and I turn to the shadow just behind me. "Well?" I ask.
"Perfect" Gemini whispers. "The phoenix will have nothing to fear from the Dora-Mata's powers and the swordsman will give her idiot protector something else to think about."
"I am glad that you approve. However, while the protector is an idiot, he does have the Hikari no Ken. What will we do about that?"
"Leave that to me. Oh and Eris."
"I noticed that Zangulus was eyeing you during the interview. Do not let him grow too friendly. Remember you are mine." Gemini jealous? It is so flattering. I try to supress my blush as the mercenaries come in.
"Ahem, the two of you are the winners to the job. I will pay you half now, and the rest after you have brought the targets back to Sairaag." I say.
"And who are the targets?" Vrumagen lives up to his reputation, of being curt and buisness like in all circumstances.
"The targets are Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev and Zelgadis Greywords" Sending bounty hunters after Zelgadis might not have been the best idea, but I had been trying to contact him for a month, and was at my wits' end on methods of reaching him. "I will only pay you the balance if none of the targets are killed. I would prefer that all the targets be lured to Sairaag, but I will pay at least three-fourths if only Lina Inverse is brought to the city. I would recommend that you start in the city of Sayluun."
"Gabriev, isn't that the name of the Swordsman of Light? What am I supposed to do about him?"
"No need to worry." We all turn to look at Gemini. In his arms is a sword, which he gives to Zangulus. "This is the Demonic Howling Sword. It can cut through anything and produce sonic shockwaves. I will loan it to you for the job, and you may keep it as part of your fee, should you suceed." Gemini also does not look precisely like a priest of Sairaag, but Zangulus is too awed at being presented a sword by the Red Priest that he does not look to closely at this suspicious buisness. Vrumagen follows the theory of "What you don't know, you can't reveal" and does not press too strongly on the somewhat thin story of needing the Hikari no Ken for an expirament.
In the shadow of the alcove, I listen as Eris confronts Lina Inverse and her companions. With her are the Swordsman of Light and a crazy girl. For a while it everything goes fine and it seems like my aid will not be needed, but then Zelgadis shows up and defeats the current incarnation of Vrumagen. After a few moments of conversation, I step out of the shadows. At first they try and fight me, but I drive them off before they reach the obvious conclusion.
I close the door after paying both the swordsman Zangulus and the phoenix Vrumagen. I then sit down across from Gemini at the dining table. "Zelgadis will come back."
"Are you sure?" I ask Gemini. He nods. "Yes, he has come back to the library to research his cure. And I see that he will be with someone."
"I will go and confront them."
Using my Mazoku abilities, I silently enter the library and make my way over to the open window. Zelgadis and whoever his companion is are very quiet, they would be undetectable by human hearing. When I reach the window I close it and seal the other exits. "Lumos!"
Zelgadis and his companion whirl around to face me. "Hello Zelgadis."
"Eris!" he snarls and draws his sword. Rushing at me, he makes as though to split me in half, but I dodge and catch his sword, adding a slight jerk to pull him off balance.
"I knew you would be back."
"What is it to you?"
"You want your cure."
"As if you did not know that from the beginning."
"I could give it to you."
"It is true. You have heard of the Wishing Stone? Rezo had it locked in the vault."
"What? If that was true, why did you not use it to your own gain?"
"I tried. But like Rezo's own wish to see, the Wishing Stone could not grant my wish."
"What was your wish?"
"The Wishing Stone cannot raise the dead. So I wished for vengence on Lina Inverse."
"Hmph. Even if I believed you what is to prevent me from taking the stone for myself and killing you?"
"You do not really hate me, you would only kill those who would get in your way. And I am offering a solution. Even so you need me anyway. The vault is protected by Rezo's own spells and as good as you are, even you cannot break them. I am the only person living who knows the password.."
He thinks for a moment. "How were you able to dodge me? Only a mazoku should be able to do that?"
I wince. "You were not the only one who Rezo altered on the way to his cure"
His eyes widened. "You too? But ..."
"Not all scars can be seen on the skin. I am now half Mazoku."
New respect begins to grow in his eyes. "What do I need to do?"
"Something simple. Help me get my revenge."
"Wait!" We turn to look at the other person. A young woman of average height and build with long wavy, white hair and stormy grey eyes, dressed in deep green and white priestess robes. "Help you kill my sister?"
I turn to look at Zelgadis. "And this is?"
He winces. "Eris, meet Leda Inverse, Knight of Shabranigdo and my fiancee. Leda, this is Eris Rashaine, a former priestess of Ceipheid and servant of my grandfather."
"Salutations and condolences."
She waves my greeting away and gives me a severe glare. "You will only help my beloved if he helps you kill my younger sister?"
This could be a severe setback. "Yes"
"How can I help you?"
Now this is a surprise. "You do not object?"
She grimaces. "I have despised my younger sister for years. Her constant upstaging of me and Luna has endeared her to no one in the family. I would happily assist in her demise."
A stroke of luck! I turn to Zelgadis. "And you?"
"I am not a berserker, nor am I excessively blood-thirsty. However, I will not let anything get in the way of my cure, short of the ones I love. What do I need to do?"
I listen with baited breath as Zelgadis leads the red-haired witch deeper in the forest. My analysis was right, she is in love with him. According to our plan, Zelgadis told the group that we had confronted him when he broke into the library and that Eris had told him to deliver a challenge to the witch. Then later, he took her aside and told her that in fact he had discovered a secret laboratory of Rezo, deep within the area shrouded by Flagoon. He asked her to go with him, alone that night and she, blinded by love, followed him. And now here she is. "Well, where is it Zel?"
"I have a confession to make, Lina. There is no laboratory. That was just an excuse to get you away from the others, alone."
Her eyes shine and she begins to hyperventilate. "R ...really? Why?" She is quivering with anticipation.
He nods. "You see the real reason I brought you out here ... is to kill you."
We, Leda, Eris and I, step into the clearing. "No, Zel, how could you do this?!? I love you!"
He shrugs. "And I love Leda. Anyway they offered me my cure. And nothing will stand in the way of my cure."
She turns to Leda. "Leda, sister!"
Leda's smile could freeze the sun. "Lina, everyday since you were born, you have taken advantage of Luna and I. And then you ran away, seeking to upstage us from afar. You seek to contend with the gods themselves. The only solution to your arrogance is death."
Then Lina turns to us. "I didn't kill him Eris! And Koppi, why would you follow her of all people!"
I smile and answer for the both of us. "You must pay Lina. I swore I would kill you for the sake of the one I love, the one who truly loves me."
She turns around and around, seeking an exit and only finding hostile enemies. While she is facing the impassive Zelgadis, Eris hits her with a death-spell. Her last vision is of the man she loves, reveling in her death.
After Lina's disappearance the group, Zel included, wait two weeks for Lina, before they decide that she has gone AWOL. A search is proposed, but does not enter Flagoon's shadow. When concluded, the group breaks up. Amelia is escorted back to Seyruun by Zel and Gourry. A month later, Gemini and Eris sneak out of Sairaag, after having given the Wishing Stone to Zel. They settle in Atlas City, taking the names Kitzero and Rasha Piyaral, a married couple. There, using the remains of Rezo's possessions they set up a magic shop. After ten years, Gemini, under the name Kitzero, becomes the president of the Atlas City Sorcerers's Guide. Zel and Leda, use the Wishing Stone, not to cure Zel, but to enable him to change forms, between human and golem. They then travel the world, meeting up with Kitzero and Rasha. They set up a partnership, Zel and Leda bringing back magical artifacts and ingredients for Rasha and Kitzero to sell. Eventually, Zel and Leda build their house next to Kitzero and Rasha, and although Zel and Leda never really settle down, thier children grow up together and intermarry. The Greywords-Inverse-Piyarai extended family, in later years, becomes rich and famous, and individuals are well known for thier beauty and magical power. Pillars of Atlas City.
Gourry Gabriev, after escorting Amelia, returns to Sairaag. He eventually marries Sylfiel and they become the rulers of Sairaag. Amelia stays in Seyruun and eventually marries Prince Garnier Toma, of a neighboring kingdom. She later makes an alliance for Seyruun with the Gabrievs of Sairaag, the ruling class of Atlas City (influenced by the President of the Sorcerers's Guilde, Kitzero) and Zefilia. The Atlas-Sairaag-Seyruun-Toma-Zefilia is the strongest political power in the world(much to the dismay of such kingdoms as Zoana). And as for Lina? Her body was not discovered until two years after her death, a moldering skeleton in the shadows of Flagoon.
III | Fanfiction