Lina, Gourry, and Xelloss were standing at the foot of the mountain. To anyone trained in magic, the energy riding off of the rock face was obvious, as well as strange. Lina turned from glaring at the mountain, to glaring at Xelloss.
"You sure they're in here, Xelloss?"
The Trickster Priest nodded. Again Gourry saw the eternal smile falter, if only for an instant.
"Quite sure, now that we're this close. The Mazoku you're after are somewhere in this mountain."
Lina looked dubious, but nodded anyway. "Okay then. But this energy..." Lina placed a hand on the mountainside. The energy crackled in bright colors around her fingers. "It's weird. I've never seen anything like it."
Xelloss placed his own hand on rock. This time the energy was dark as it flashed. "It appears to be Mazoku energy, but there is something else. I can't put my finger on it."
Lina stared at the energy, then pushed up her sleeves. "Well, no time to worry about it now! FIREBA..."
A tap on her shoulder cut Lina short. She turned, glowering, to see Xelloss' infuriating grin staring back at her. "What now, Xelloss?"
Xelloss pointed to the side. A nice sized hole was cut neatly into the wall. Gourry was already inside. Xelloss looked back at Lina.
"Apparently, he's in a hurry."
"Uh, yeah." Lina knew something was up with Gourry. As soon as this was over, she planned to find out what. With a shrug, she hurried inside as Xelloss phased out. "Hey, Gourry, wait up!"
Gourry, who had walked ahead, slowed up enough for Lina to jog up to him. He turned around just as Xelloss phased in beside him. Lina paused to catch her breath.
"Geez, Gourry, what's the rush?"
Gourry didn't bother answering, looking directly at Xelloss. "Which way?"
Xelloss aimed his staff at a wall. "Well, if you prefer the direct approach, then that way." Xelloss and Lina watched as Gourry proceeded to cut another hole, effectively carving a path for them. The sorceress and the priest looked at each other, shrugged, and followed him. Lina caught up as Gourry made another opening.
"Gourry, is something wrong?"
Uh-oh. Gourry flashed a stupid grin. "No, why do you ask?"
"You're acting weird, even for you."
"Weird? Well, I just figured if we hurry up,, we could get back in time for dinner."
Lina gave him a penetrating look. "Are you sure that's all?"
"Well, yeah, what else would there be?" Gourry put his hand behind his head. "Besides, I heard their having a two for one sale at the stands today..."
This lit up the red-head's eyes. "You mean I can eat twice as much for the same price?" She grabbed Gourry by the arm, dragging him roughly behind her. "What are we waiting for?! Let's kill a few demons and get back for dinner!" Lina ran down the hall, tossing fireballs at anything blocking the path, like a wall.
"Not now, Gourry! I want to find those Mazoku! FIREBALL!" Lina ran on as another wall fell victim before here.
"But Lina, I really think you should stop."
"Oh, and why is that?"
Gourry, who had a good rear view thanks to how Lina was pulling him, pointed. "Because their behind us."
"What?" Lina looked behind her. Sure enough, a group of nasty looking Mazoku was chasing them. Lina dropped Gourry like a bad habit. "Oops! Guess we must have run right through their hideout. Well, whatcha gonna do? ELMEKIA LANCE!" A flash of light burst from her hand, spearing one of the Mazoku dead on. "We'll be through in no time, right, Gourry? Gourry?" Lina looked to where she thought Gourry was, but the swordsman was gone. "Gourry?"
A tap on her shoulder, followed by a quick fireball, toast the priest once again. "Why Lina, I'm beginning to think you care."
"Hardly. This is no time for jokes, Xelloss. Gourry's missing! I bet he was captured..."
"He wasn't captured."
Lina was confused. "Wasn't captured? Then where...?"
Xelloss pointed his staff. On the ground were several Mazoku. Some were sliced in half, while others were missing their head. All the bodies had a distinct injury in the groin, causing even Xelloss to wince. Lina was speechless. Sure, Gourry had killed Mazoku before, but nothing like this...
"Okay, so... where is he?"
A demonic wail of pain answered them. Lina and Xelloss run to the source. They both freeze at the sight in front of them.
Gourry is systematically, castrating, then killing the Mazoku with deadly ease. Even as the group tries to overpower him, Gourry simple evades, taking down another Mazoku. His eyes are hard as granite as the sword of light slid through another Mazoku like water.
"Gou-kun seems to be handling things on his own."
"Yeah, no kidding." Lina watched, stunned. "I guess he really wants to hurry back for dinner."
"Well, it is a two-for-one sale." Even as he said it, Xelloss knew it wasn't the truth. If you'd bother to look, Lina, you'd see he's not thinking about food at all. His feelings are very strong. Could it be... love?
"Hey, Gourry! Hurry it up, would ya?" Lina decided she'd wait till later to figure out what was going on with her friend.
Gourry turn, skewering the last of the Mazoku, disconnecting his upper half from his lower. Looking around, the blond swordsman wiped his brow, grinning sheepishly.
"I think that's all of them, Lina."
"No kidding! Geez, what a mess. Good thing we don't have to clean it up." Lina steps over the carcasses, making her way over to Gourry. "You must really want to get back for dinner."
"Ah, heh heh. Yeah, you could say that..."
Xelloss phased next to them. "Well, mission accomplished. Perhaps we should go back now? I'm sure Zelgadis would appreciate a change in guards."
"Yeah," said Lina. "Who knows how helpful she's been while we were gone."
The priest floated in front of them. "Do you want me to go ahead and relieve her of duty?"
No way! Gourry walked past them, his pace quick. "If we're quick, we can get back in plenty of time!" He walks out the cave, leaving the pair stunned. Lina recovers and chases after him.
"Hey, wait up, Gourry!"
Xelloss floated behind, his smile gone now as he pondered over Gourry's behavior.
You're in love with him, aren't you, Gou-kun? Why else would you fight with such dark passion? Not for food, that's certain. You may like food, but only love can make a person kill with the ease you did. And it wasn't killing to you, was it? They were just demons after all.
Xelloss passed by the pond Gourry looked in earlier. He looked into it, seeing his reflection, which was replaced with the face of a blue skinned chimera, wearing a ghost of a smile.
Just demons. Like me. I understand now. No wonder you didn't want me to go ahead. Well, well. I have competition. But what is it I feel? Is it love? What you did to those Mazoku in there... I would have done something similar, though perhaps let the pain last a little longer. But why? Why would I have... is it possible? But Mazoku can't love, can they?
Xelloss carried these thoughts with him as the trio made their way back to town.
Zelgadis stared out at the night sky. The sun had set a little while ago. He'd laid Amelia out on the bed, and waited quietly by the window.
This is ridiculous. It was just a dream. It wasn't necessarily real. And even if this Mo`re was telling the truth, he didn't say when Ahriman would come for me...
At the thought of his name, Zel shivered. He shook it off, cursing his weakness.
Keep that up and he'll have you for sure. If it's just a dream, then nothing will happen. If it wasn't just a dream, can you risk trying to run? Mo`re said Ahriman would kill them if I ran. I don't know anything about Mo`re though. Still, he admitted to summoning Ahriman, and why. I've never heard of this Ra Lagora. I wonder if Lina or Xelloss have heard about it?
Zel gripped the sill tight, the wood snapping off in his hands. He didn't notice as his gazed turned to the road below.
Where are they? Did the Mazoku get them? But Mo`re said they would be killed if I ran. So they have to be okay now, right? Damn, I hate this. I should be out there with them, not hiding like some invalid who can't fend for themselves. Gods, just let them come back safely...
A soft sigh from the bed caught his ear. Zel glanced over his shoulder. Amelia mumbled something in her sleep, turned, and settled down again. Zel smiled. For all her inane posturing, Amelia was still a kid, with kid dreams and ambitions, but still a kid who needed reassurance and approval every now and then. The smile faded as Mo`re's words came back to him.
He said she'd be okay, that Ahriman was only after me. He'd better be right. If anything happens to any of them because of this, I'll kill Mo`re myself.
The chimera glanced at the road again. There was still no sign of Gourry or Lina. Zelgadis frowned.
It shouldn't have taken this long. Something's wrong. I should go and check myself. But then, Amelia would be alone. If Ahriman came here looking for me and I wasn't here... What would he do to Amelia? Damn it! I hate this. I can't live my life on a 'what if' forever. And I really hate not knowing what's going on with the others. I never even told him... Yeah, like I was going to. And who would want me now? Used goods. I'll probably be alone from now on. Still, they're my friends... he's my friend. I won't... I just want him... them... safe. Please, Gods, let them be okay.
Zel glanced around the room nervously. His eyes rested on a pair of black, fingerless gloves resting on the table in the corner. Gourry's gloves. Zel walked over to the table, reverently touching the material. He picked the gloves up, holding them close as he walks back to the window, gazing out at the road.
Gourry, come back safely.
Ahriman looked up at the inn. His darling chimera was staring out again. It would only have been better his desire were looking at him instead of the road.
Soon, my beautiful one, you'll have eyes only for me. Soon, you will be mine, and no one, not even Mo`re, will take you away from me.
The back of his neck tingled. Ahriman looked around quickly. Nothing. He was getting too jumpy. With a shrug, Ahriman gazed back up at the inn. His chimera was still there, watching the road.
What are you watching for, beloved? I'm not coming from the road. I'm here, fair one. I'm here, and soon, you will be mine.
Ahriman's plan was to wait until the humans had all gone to sleep, break in, and take his quarry. But the more he looked at the chimera, the more impatient he grew. Ahriman decided he couldn't wait anymore. He leaped up to the roof, climbing down the side of the wall. He phased into the wall, concealing his presence. The chimera was by the bed now. Dark lords be praised. Ahriman would never get another opportunity like this.
Ahriman moved closer to the window, whispering the spell... "Dark Mist." The thick black fog quickly filled the small room. He could hear his chimera cursing loudly. Ahriman jumps inside, his nose finding the chimera quickly. Determined precision, Ahriman grabbed the chimera, covering his mouth just in time to muffle the roar. He felt his prey struggle against him. A sleeping spell calmed him down quickly enough.
"Mister Zelgadis?! Can you hear me?"
The girl! Ahriman's first instinct was to kill her and be done with it. She dared to think she could keep him from his prey! But he remembered Mo`re's 'advice'. Still, it never hurt to be too cautious...
Ahriman found the girl, hitting her with a Mono Volt. He heard her fall to the floor with a satisfying thump before jumping out the window, prize over his shoulder, howling to the four winds.
They were just coming into town when Gourry felt it. A cold wind passing through him. Unconsciously, he turned to Xelloss, and knew the Mazoku felt it too. Xelloss summed it up in one word, his smile fading.
Lina, who was ahead of them, stopped. "What about Zelgadis?"
The smile returned, but Gourry knew how false it is. He's worried too. Damn, he must be... but how? They don't fall in love...
"I said I think I shall drop in and see how dear Zel-kun is feeling." Xelloss phases out before Lina can protest. The sorceress looks at Gourry.
"We'd better go before Xelloss scares Zel or something." She takes off for the inn.
Thank you, Xelloss. Gourry ran after her, overtaking her as the ran up the stares to Zel's room. He burst through the door, and bit his lip to keep from screaming in utter rage and despair.
Xelloss was standing in the middle of the room, staring at the window. Lina had came in behind him and was kneeling over Amelia. The Seyruun princess was just coming round. Lina was firing questions, trying to figure out what had happened.
Gourry didn't see Zelgadis.
Xelloss pointed his staff to the window. "He took him through here."
Lina looked over at Xelloss. "Who took him?"
"I don't know. It was a Mazoku, a fairly strong one."
"Can you track it?"
"Yes, but we'll have to hurry."
Gourry grabbed his gloves from off the floor. He noticed a piece of Zel's cape, and pocketed it. Standing up, his blue eyes met Xelloss' violet.
"We should leave then." Xelloss gave a small nod, and the two were running out the inn. Lina barked at Amelia to stay put, and followed after them. Gourry thought about his friend, and ran even faster.
Zel, we're coming. Just hang on until we get there.
Mo`re sat in his chair, smiling to himself. He could feel Zelgadis' presence coming.
Soon, all the pieces will fit together. You've done your job well, Ahriman. Your servitude will end. I will have the chimera, and the power will be mine as well.
Mo`re leaned back, humming a tune as he waited for his guest to arrive.
To be continued....
On to Chapter Six or Back to Hibernal Heart or Back to the Thorned Roses or Back to the Roses?