Next to the campfire, surrounded by the huddled-up sleeping bodies of his friends, a single figure sat alone, awake when he should have been asleep. The night sky overhead offered a beautiful view of the stars, but he was oblivious to it. Crickets chirped their merry tunes, their happy notes floating in one ear and right out the other. The logs in the fire popped and hissed as the moisture finally found an escape, but none of it registered to him.
The man appeared to be in his mid- to late teens with a white headband that held back his overly long blue bangs. He wore a white tunic with a blue vest and matching pants. A blue cape and golden shoulderguards adorned his shoulders. Lying across his lap was a cane. It was a simple design in the shape of a T. The handle was silver and in the shape of a two-headed dragon with each head facing the opposite direction. Nestled in each mouth was a brown amber ball; they were warm to the touch, but only because of the numerous magical enchantments placed upon them.
Amazing, he thought as he stared blankly into the dancing flames of the fire, for all the spells that have been created to cure and heal, no one ever got the damn idea in their head to create a spell to cure insomnia!
Counting sheep never worked so he didn't bother with that. Instead, he hoped to pass the time watching the others. Perhaps watching them sleep might get through his thick skull and tell his brain it was time to for bed. Oh well, at least they were getting their much deserved rest.
He happened to glance at Lina first, not simply because she had been his pupil, but because she was merely the closest to him. She was asleep and in her bedroll off to his right. Several red tresses clung to her face. Ever so gently he brushed them away. The flame-haired sorceress stirred slightly but did not wake. It was ironic how she had enough power to cast the DragonSlave a dozen times over, but when she slept she looked like any other common girl, sweet, angelic, and gentle.
So Lina has finally grown up, no longer a student, but an equal. She may not look that way, but it's not her fault. It's mine. A thousand years old and I'm still stupid enough to make mistakes. Me, a Chaos Mage and personal servant of L-sama. What a joke I am. Any other mage wouldn't have made the same mistake, but would they have even taken the time to notice her talent?
She can be so caring and careless, all at the same time. She looks like a child but has the mind of an adult. I don't regret teaching her what I did. I only regret not being more careful. Perhaps her aging wouldn't have slowed so much. It's amazing how far she's come. I hope she realizes how proud she has made her mother, myself, and Luna, even though the Knight of Ceiphied would never admit it.
A faint smile crossed his face as his eyes moved to the next bedroll.
The Princess of Saillune...so righteous and yet, so naļve. She wants nothing more than to bring true justice to those who need it. Does she even realize what justice is? In this world everything belongs to the eye of the beholder. In the society of elves, nature is worshiped and preserved, but humans cut down trees and plow the land without a second thought. To the elves humans are barbarians, in a way. In the world of the drow, the dark elves, murder is common place and acceptable, provided you do not get caught. Up here in the light such acts are strictly forbidden. For someone such as her...I hope when she does finally see the world for what it is Amelia does not go mad, but maybe she is better off the way she is. Ignorance is bliss, they say.
Then his eyes fell upon the prone form of the blond mercenary, the one person in the group he couldn't make any sense of.
There is no way Gourry can possibly be as dumb as he is letting on to believe. In the thousand years I have lived...even worms aren't this dumb. Possibly, he is trying to hide his past or trying to hide from it. What makes it so hard to determine is the way he acts. When he doesn't seem to be listening, he is, and when he should be, he doesn't. They may believe the act he puts on, but I don't. His skills with the sword are excellent. I've seen the way he moves. He is a trained killer. What worries me is I cannot figure out why he stays. What happened in his past that was so horrible that he changed his ways? They say only time can heal certain wounds. Eventually, he'll tell someone when he is ready. Either that, or I think too much.
Zelgadis was peacefully sleeping in his own bedroll. Most other nights he spent a good deal of the time endlessly tossing and turning. It seemed the nightmares had left him alone for tonight, at least.
A skin of stone, and a head just as thick. You've searched for a cure for years as everyone has told me. Tell me, do you know what you'll do once you find it, Stone Boy? What then? Have you even conceived the thought? If you had not met Lina and the others where would you be? Perhaps you would have turned into a monster. Will you ever understand the key to being happy is being happy with what you have, and you have plenty to be happy about. You have good friends -- an extended family if you wanted to call them that even. Just be happy. Don't let time slip away from you when you have so much to live for.
The final person he saw was across the camp from him on the other side of the fire. A golden dragon. She was strange...and whiney...and obnoxious at times...and then again she would show a bit of wisdom once in a while. Since she was young for a dragon, he sometimes understood why she acted the way she did. She was simply young and inexperienced.
What would Milgazia perceive of you? You can't even completely hold your human form whenever you get aggravated. Still, you do show promise. If only --
"Ow!" the blue-haired mage winced as he rubbed a now-forming bump on the back of his head. An acorn landed in his lap a second later. He turned in the direction the attack had come from and found Lina sitting upright in her bedroll reloading a slingshot with another acorn. "Darkness, what are you still doing with that!? I thought I hid that to keep it away from you!"
She stuck out her tough and launched the miniature projectile.
This time he was ready and caught the nut in his fist. "You know, that stings!"
Lina buried her head in a pillow and burst out laughing, the muffled cries to soft for the others to hear. "That's seventeen times now I have caught you off guard. You owe me a treasure for each one!"
"Haven't you gotten your fill yet?" Rune snapped. "You see more gold in a week than most people see in their lifetime."
"Don't worry," she replied, ignoring the remark, "I'll just add it to my list. You can pay me later."
"So why are you still awake?" she asked, stifling a yawn.
Finally, he let his irritation slip away. He was never able to stay made at her for long. "I couldn't sleep so I was just thinking."
"That's not fair! I asked so you have to answer!" As if to punctuate her statement, she grabbed another acorn and pulled the slingshot back. "Now talk!"
"You shoot that, and I'll use a spell to summon an army of slugs to crawl into your sleeping bag."
Her hands trembled slightly as she lowered the weapon. "You wouldn't."
"You're right. I wouldn't, "he smiled, and before she could react he snatched up the slingshot, tucking it into one of the many hidden pockets in his cape.
"You're never going to get it back now."
"Give it back!" she started to move toward him.
"I told you -- oof!" the mage fell back as Lina tackled him. The struggling quickly broke into a wrestling match which would have quickly gone Lina's way if she had been wearing her enchanted gloves, but being that as it may, they were pretty evenly matched until they burst out laughing. Once they managed to calm down they chatted a bit more before Lina finally went back to bed, leaving the mage alone with his thoughts again.
Damn insomnia! he cursed as the night went on...