But Something Is Different


I haven't really used the character Freya yet.   She will be showing up in Dark Resurrection soon if you have read that fic yet.   Anyway, here's a quick description of her:

She has is short with an athletic build.   Her skin has a fine coat of tiger-striped fur. Red hair, green eyes, and claws. She is a Ryzoku/Mazoku hybrid offspring. Don't ask how.   It'll be explained later in DR.

Thanks for reading the fic.

The funeral of Lina Inverse. No one could have foreseen it. No one would have even imagined it would end like this. But there she was, lying dead and cold in her funeral coffin.   The beautiful sorceress genius was dead.

How it had happened, the message didn't bother to say.   All he knew was less than two days ago he had received a message from the Princess of Saillune informing him of Lina's death.   He had immediately dropped what he had been doing and rushed off to Saillune.

When it came time for the funeral, it was then that he realized he might as well have not come. All the others were arguing and blaming each other for her death, ignoring the fact they were there to pay their respects for the recently deceased.   The whole event was a fiasco.

"You always claimed to be her bodyguard!"

"You're a mage! You were supposed to be able to fight someone like him!"

"Your heart is as cold and hard as your skin!"

"If you would have tried to help me I could have saved her!"

"I was busy trying to fight him! If I hadn't protected us he would have killed you too!"

"Gourry dear, please calm down."

"You just want me all to yourself!"

He watched from the back of the church for nearly half an hour. No one had even noticed his arrival. They were too busy blaming each other when they were really angry at themselves for what happened. He could understand their actions if they had done it any place else, but to do it at a funeral when you're supposed to be paying your respects for the recently deceased...

"All of you, SHUTUP!" he finally snapped.

All heads turned to him as silence filled the room.

No one said a word as he approached, even when walked past them to get a closer look at Lina.

"Is this is how you choose to remember her?"

Amelia was the first to answer, breaking the deathly silence of the room.   "Wha-what do you mean?"

The blue-haired mage didn't bother to turn and face them. "This is the funeral of Lina Inverse. It is suppose to be a time of mourning, a time to remember all the joys you shared together in life, a time to comfort each other in the moment of a friend's passing." He paused as his hand gently stroked the sorceress's cheek.   It felt cold, even through his glove.

"But, this could have been prevented! If only -- "

"That's the point," he glanced over his shoulder.   "It wasn't."


"But nothing! Bickering amongst yourselves won't solve anything. Lina is gone and dead. Just try to accept it and move on."

"You weren't there! You don't know what happened. Mrs. Lina should still be alive!"

"Does placing the blame on someone make the pain any less painful for you?" he asked the teary-eyed princess. "Will it bring Lina back? It may be very easy to place the blame on a single person, but each of you played your own part in her being there at that moment. All of you were there. The choices each of you, including Lina, made lead up to this.   Perhaps if I had been there this would have all been prevented.   Maybe this is as much as my fault as it is yours. You have to understand that dead is simply a natural part of life. It happens all the time. So if you feel someone should take the blame, then we should blame ourselves."

"But that's not fair!" Amelia argued with tears streaming down her face.

"Then stop acting like a spoiled child and grow up.   You should realize there are some things in life you just can't control! Do you think Lina would want everyone to act like this?" He had probably said more than he really should have, but the princess needed to realize life was not as simple as she had been taught to believe.   Life wasn't as clean and neat as it seemed. People suffered and died everyday.

Another moment passed as she silently stared at him, her watery eyes now overflowing with tears. Her lower lip trembled as if she were about to say something, but instead, she dashed out of the room crying her eyes out in between sobbings of "I'm...sorry...Mrs. Lina..."

He looked to the others, but was only met by silence.   Everyone held their heads low.   It was a morbid atmosphere, nothing but the palest of imitations of how the group had been just days earlier.   Everyone was still in a state of shock over the event.   Emotions and tempers ran wild.   No one could think clearly.   They just needed time to vent their frustrations.

He knew he should go after the princess to apologize for what he had said.   His words had been harsh.   Lost in the heat of his own emotions at finding Lina dead, he had let his own temper fly. He should have gone after her, but he didn't.

He left a few minutes later without even asking how Lina had died.

That had been a month ago. He hadn't seen or heard from any of them since.

Now he was walking through the countryside, admiring the view of the grassy hills and the wild forests of trees as he headed towards home from his last assignment the PMS had sent him on. It was a nice, peaceful day, one of those that would make a person feel overjoyed at the fact they were alive to experience it, and yet, he didn't.  

His mind kept drifting back to the events of several months past. He should have at least asked how Lina had died.   Maybe he still would. The princess should be the one to ask. That way he could also apologize for the way had been at the funeral.   Yes, that would be a good idea.

Up ahead there was a fork in the road. The right fork would take him to Saillune. How convenient. That was exactly where he wanted to go.

When he reached the fork he couldn't help but notice a single figure standing alone.   Actually, it was hard not to notice him. He stood out from the rest of the scenery of the countryside. He was clad entirely in black from head to toe. His back was turned to him, the black cape and hood hiding any clear view a person would normally have of the traveler. He almost seemed uncertain of which path to take with the way he constantly glanced from left to right.

"Are you lost, stranger?" the blue-haired mage called out as he neared the traveler.

He spun around, the motion, almost too quick for the eye to catch caused his hood to fall back, revealing the face of a man with blue-tinged skin freckled with rocky pebbles and silvery wire-like hair.

Zelgadis?   Imagine running into him like this.   What was he doing out here?   "Stone boy!" he smiled.   "How have you been?"

"Run while you can," the chimera stated firmly, all trace of emotion lost in his voice.


"You better do as he says," a more familiar voice rang out behind him.   "This is the only chance you'll have, Rune."

He spun around to come face-to-face his favorite student, Lina Inverse.   Her face was only a few inches from his. The usual enthusiastic look she carried was gone at the moment. In its place she wore a more sullen expression.   Something wasn't right considering she was dead.

"Last warning," she said as she floated backwards several feet.   Like Zelgadis she was also dressed entirely in black, only she hovered silently in the air as if she were sitting on a stool with her legs crossed.

What the hell was going on!?

"Now now, my children," Xellos phased in beside him.   "That's no way to greet the soon-to-be newest member of our family."

He glared at the Trickster-priest. If he was around things definitely weren't good.   "What nonsense are you sputtering about?"

"Haven't you figured it out?"

"Figured what out?"

"Well, if you don't know, then that is a secret."

"I'm not about to take part in one of your silly games, Xellos."

 "Ah, but you are," the Mazoku grinned, "much like they are. Only you're a step or two behind."

A step or two behind? "Run that by me again."

The demon cracked open an eye as his grin only grew wider. "Take a look for yourself."

He let his vision switch over to the astral spectrum.   A quick glance at the other two told him more than he wanted to know.   Their auras had changed, both in size and color. They had become Mazoku.   "Darkness, you didn't..."

"Ah, but I did."

Rune looked at the three Mazoku before him. How could he have let this happen? If he had simply killed Xellos when he had the chance...but because he had let that trickster-priest live Zelgadis and Lina were both Mazokus pledged to Zelas Metallium. This was all his fault.

FREYA!!!... he mentally screamed for his familiar.

His mind raced as he tried to decide what to do.   He hadn't been this mad in a long time.   One look at the smug grin on Xellos's face told him the Mazoku was enjoying every minute of it. He would kill that bastard, even if it cost him his life. ptyle="mso-spacerun: yes">  He would pay!

Rune?  What's going on? Freya finally answered over their telepathic link. I've never heard you sound so...why are you so angry?

It's because of Xellos.

The Mazoku priest grinned. "I'm giving you the same choice I gave Lina and Zelgadis.   Join us and become a Mazoku or die."

"What about Amelia and Gourry? Are you going to do the same to them?"

"They weren't worth my time, or more specifically, Lord Beastmaster's time.   So I had Lina and Zel kill them as a test."

Rune glared at his former student and the chimera.   They might be Mazoku, but because they weren't pure and had been converted over from being human they stilled retained faint traces of their old emotions. Lina shrugged and Zel merely looked away. They were both ashamed of what they had done. No matter how faint the emotion might be he could see it.

"The swordsman had a quick ending. We merely lured him to an out-of-the-way town, and then Lina destroyed it with a Dragon Slave. The princess on the other hand," he shook his head in a mock gesture, "she didn't die nearly so swiftly or painlessly. Her death was quite messy, I'm afraid. It looks to be as if her funeral will have to be closed-casket. You should have seen her beg for them to kill her and make the pain stop. It was quite amusing watching them peel off her skin while -- "

"Shut up!" the youthful-looking mage snapped through clenched teeth.   He knew they were all feeding off of it, especially Xellos. He would give that Mazoku what he had coming, but he had to make sure his plan went according to plan. If it didn't everything he was about to do would be for nothing.

Rune, I'm right next to you on the astral plain, Freya's concerned voice rang in his head. What happened to Lina and her chimera friend? Their auras look as if they...oh darkness, no.   They've been turned into Mazoku.   Rune, I'm sorry. Xellos did it, didn't he? I'll make him pay.  I swear --


What!?, she shrieked. Don't you want him dead? I thought --

I do, but I'll be the one that kills him.

"What's your answer, Rune?" Xellos opened both of his eyes. The evil grin on his face only spread wider as he waited.   "If you join us you'll be made into Zelas's new general."

You want to kill Xellos? Then why did you call me?

I want you to keep Lina and Zelgadis distracted long enough for me to kill him.

You're going to attack Xellos, head on? That's suicide. You couldn't --

I don't plan on coming out alive, Freya.

The Mazoku/Ryzoku offspring remained silent for a moment. She was relatively young for what she was, but between what Rune and the Mother of All had taught her, she knew enough to understand what he was planning on doing.

So do you want me to kill them?, she finally asked.

No, he cringed involuntarily, not in front of me, not while I'm alive.  Another time perhaps.  Just distract them for now.  I know why they did it, and I don't blame them. If they get to be too much for you then take off. I don't want you getting injured or killed.

Too much for me? Them?  Hah!, her mock laughter filled his head. I should be ashamed if they were to overpower me.

Thanks, Freya, he laughed mentally. I'm glad L-sama sent you to work with me.   Take care.

Thank you for everything, Rune. Goodbye.

Good luck.

"I'm waiting," Xellos snickered as Rune focused his attention back on the Mazoku. "What will it be?"

"Here's my answer, Mazoku," he hissed, his own wicked grin appeared to match Xellos's. "Freya, now!"

Instantly, the Mazoku/Ryzoku half-breed materialized on the physical plane and charged Lina and Zel. As Rune had hoped, they both went after Freya.  At least now this battle would only be between Xellos and himself. Hopefully she would be able to hold the other two off for as long as he needed.

"Still up to your old tricks, mage?"

"Any complaints!?" he replied as he fired off an Elmekia Lance.

"None, whatsoever," the Mazoku smiled as he easily dodged the attack.   "But aren't you afraid of dieing?"

"You're the one who should be afraid," he hissed as he launched another barrage of spells at the demon.

"Oh, really? And why is that?"

"That is a secret.  Demonic Crystal!"

"Touché," Xellos teleported away before the ice crystals even began to form around him.

Rune continued his rapid spell casting. He didn't care how much energy he wasted.   It didn't matter if the spells hit the Mazoku anyway.   They weren't powerful enough to even kill a human. All of his energy was being saved for his big spell.

With each spell the Mazoku moved closer and closer towards him, like a predator stalking its prey.   Unfortunately for Xellos, that's exactly what Rune wanted.

Lord of the Darkness and of the Four Worlds, I pledge myself to you...

"As amusing as this is," the trickster priest smirked, dodging another spell -- a fireball this time, "it must come to an end. I do have engagements to keep."

By all the power you and I possess, grant me the heavens' wrath to my hand...

"Don't be late on my account. Mega Brando!"

Unleash in me the sword of the dark, the power to smash even the souls of the gods...

With a slight nod, Xellos teleported away from the spell and appeared in front of Rune. Before he had a chance to react the Mazoku shoved his staff through his chest.   Rune wouldn't be able to regenerate from this. The staff was enchanted with several wards, among other things, to negate any regenerative spells.

By our combined power, our combined might, let us walk as one along the path of destruct --

Rune stood unable to move for a moment. Xellos had done exactly what he had wanted, however, he didn't expect it to hurt this much thought. The pain had stopped him from completing the chant to the last spell he expected to cast. The end of it was on the tip of his tongue.   If he didn't finish it now, he wouldn't be able to kill Xellos. But he already felt so weak. Did he have the energy to finish it?

"Don't worry," the purple-haired demon sneered, opening one of his eyes again, "I'll take good care of Lina and the chimera."

Bastard!  "RAGNA BLADE!!!"

Nightmare energy ran down his arm, forming into a blade as it reached his hand.   White hot-needles tore through his arm, but he held onto the spell. Such power always came with its price. The pain was irrelevant at this point.

He plunged the blade into the evil Mazoku's heart and pushed upwards with it until he was split in two.   Xellos tried to let out a scream, but where there should have been sound only black lightning poured out of his mouth instead.

Rune knew how to manipulate nightmare energy. It was a versatile weapon when used efficiently. Used in this manner it would eat away at anything and everything until nothing was left. It worked like a poison or a disease might. It would leech away at the victim's life force. Xellos would simply waste away into nothing. There was no way he would walk away from this.

"Hurts, doesn't it?" the mage sneered. "I guess Lina never told you she taught me how the Ragna Blade works.   It was quite ingenious the way she figured it out. I, of course, have made a few improvements to it beyond what she ever thought she could do with it.   Having your life drained away is merely one of them."

True to his plans Xellos evaporated into the air.   He was dead. The Mazoku was dead! Thank L-sama!

Rune collapsed to the ground, exhausted beyond anything he had felt before.   The weapon in his hand dissipated back into nothing, and he let out a sigh of relief, which came out more as a hacking cough. He thought about pulling out the staff buried in his chest, but that seemed pointless. He was going to die either way.

Freya...get out...of here. Xellos is dead...run...

Whether she answered or not he didn't notice. What he did notice were the two Mazoku silently hovering around him.   He gazed up at them wearily.   Lina and Zelgadis stared back at him.   They seemed like they didn't know what to do now that Xellos was dead. Oh well.   It wasn't his problem, was it?

Lina was the first one to speak. "What do you expect us to do now?" she asked.

He looked into their eyes. They both seemed to express concern over his condition, but was it for his well being or something else? Beyond that he could also see something else.. The Mazoku part in them was feasting off of his pain.

The blue-haired mage closed his eyes and sighed heavily, which turned into another gurgled cough.   Blood trickled down his chin and it would have continued on its way had not a gloved hand wiped it away.

He knew what was coming. It was inevitable. He wished more than anything the Lina and Zel he knew were still alive, still breathing, still enjoying life. Unfortunately, they were gone. They were no longer human.   They were nothing more than Mazoku now.   How he wished things could have turned out differently.

After another moment he opened his eyes.   There was only one possible answer to their question.   "I expect you to do what a Mazoku would do."

A devilish grin crossed Lina's lips. Her ruby eyes flashed at him before she stood up and glanced at Zelgadis.   He too seemed to share the evil smile.   They both looked at him, a predatory look of hunger haunted their eyes. Shortly thereafter, they faded from view, and intense pain raked his body as the world around him was swallowed up by darkness.