Pairing: Zelgadis x Lina (unrequited?)
Rating: PG (probably G)
Genre: het, a little drama and angst
Distribution: lina_zelgadis, slayers_fanfics
Summary: An... "embellishment" on the events of Slayers Revolution episode 5
Warnings: Spoilers for up to episode 5 of Slayers Revolution
Disclaimer: Fanfic is, obviously, not my strong suit here. Please be gentle.
The Slayers is the copyrighted property of Hajime Kanzaka. This is a work of fanfiction, for personal entertainment. No money is being made off this fanfic.
"THAT'S NOT IT!
This country erased itself of its own will."
"Pokota?" Amelia tried to interrupt gently. She was always so against anyone being upset or angry, even though it was something that usually couldn't be helped.
"What he said was true to a certain point; this county wasn't destroyed, nor did it disappear." The strange creature that we had been chasing lifted his ear-arm and activated a seal on the ancient ruins in this country once known as Taforashia. Green symbols glowed in the dim fog-filled night, washing our little group in a harsh, alien light.
And the stone door to one of the larger buildings in the ruined city swung open with a high-pitched scraping noise. "There indeed was no remedy for the Durum disease back then, and this country was waiting for it's own death." Pokota continued as he led us into the ruins. Lanterns along the passageway lit with the same unnatural green light as we passed down the hall, and I gripped my sword hilt reflexively. It felt like walking into a tomb, or a trap. "But one wizard showed us the path to salvation."
Down a flight of stairs and through another sealed doorway. What could be hidden behind so many protections? And why did this strange creature have the key to every doorway? I followed behind Gourry, keeping myself between Xellos and the rest of the group. He might not turn on us right now, but there was no telling with that damned Mazoku. I didn't even look back to ensure he was still following.
"Could this place be--"
He didn't let Lina finish the thought, "This room was originally constructed as a underground cemetery."
Hah. I really should trust my gut feelings.
"Then..." Amelia fell silent as Pokota cast a lighting spell, revealing our surroundings fully. "So many..."
Everything was encased in crystals. Impossibly huge crystals that I had only seen the like once before. Amelia and Lina had to be thinking of the same thing. Who could guess what Gourry and Xellos were thinking? I turned slowly, staring as the light reflected through the crystals, revealing the people trapped within. Just like Hellmaste--
"This somewhat resembles a spell that Lord Hellmaster used..." Xellos commented coolly.
"Hellmaster? You mean Phibrizzo?" Lina's sharp eyes focused on Xellos's face, searching for a hint of whether or not he already knew what we had just walked into. She'd have more luck asking Phibrizzo himself.
"Don't worry." Pokota interrupted. He had no way of knowing that we were already intimately familiar with this sort of magic. Far too much so. I could see Amelia's emotions play across her eyes, invisible to the creature perched atop her head. "They're not dead or anything. Everyone's just asleep."
Unbelievable! "Asleep you say?!" That night in Sairaag still haunted all of us. The moments when we each 'died'. The end of the fight, watching the Lord of Nightmares consume Lina. I'd thought the world was ending right there. I'm not sure I could have lived with things ending that way. Somehow, Gourry had dragged her back from Chaos itself. Somehow. It was something that I was too weak to do. I couldn't have touched her heart enough to bring her back from that. I wasn't enough.
"Yeah, the citizens of this country have been put to sleep with magic until a remedy for the disease is found. At the same time, a mist that engulfs the entire country was conjured to hide it from other people."
But--! "Hold it! You said the plague that spread through this country was Durum disease, right? Then, the remedy for that was established a few years ago already!"
"Really?" Lina stepped closer to me as she spoke. We all must have wanted to see that horribly familiar-looking spell broken as soon as possible. It was comforting, the feel of a warm body nearby.
"So these people don't have to fear the disease anymore?" Amelia added.
"Then, why are these people still asleep?" An obvious question, but Gourry was right to ask it. Why was the spell still in place? The cure exists!
"Indeed, the remedy to the Durum disease has been found, but now the wizard that cast the seal has gone missing!"
Of all the damned irresponsible things!?
"Ahh, things never work out smoothly." Lina sidled closer and looked up to me. Relief washed over her face. If it was just a matter of finding a missing wizard, these people could be saved. It wasn't hopeless. This wasn't Sairaag. She-- Everyone was still here, no one was trying to kill us, trying to force us to bring the Lord of Nightmares down into the world. No Dark Lords floated there threatening our very existence.
"There sure are irresponsible people in this world." It was such an obvious thing to say, but it gave me the excuse to meet her eyes. To see her relief, to see the eyes that were lit by crimson fire, not a cold golden void; to reassure myself. And I could reassure her with that. Dragging some irresponsible wizard down here to finish what they'd started. That was easy compared to other things we'd done. And Amelia would surely give us the excuse to act. Leaving it like this would be 'unjust', right?
"WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! FOR THIS COUNTRY THAT NO ONE WANTED TO SAVE, ONLY THAT PERSON OFFERED HIS HAND TO US!" I guess my comment struck a nerve.
Gourry pointed out the obvious again, exactly what we needed to do to put our hearts at ease, and to shut Pokota up. "But, if we find that person, then these people would wake up now, right?" Cephied bless him for always getting straight to the point.
"What is that person's name?" Amelia put on the sugary voice to convince Pokota to cooperate. She must be on edge, not even dropping into a justice speech about the mystery wizard abandoning their duty.
"Hmph! He's a person that chump mages like you will never be able to reach!" That brat is really starting to grate on my last nerve, talking down to the very people that can help him.
"Chump... mages?" I braced myself to grab Lina before she went flying at him. Of all the stupid things Pokota could've said...
"Famous wizards that come to mind..." I started searching my memory for mages powerful enough to pull off something like this. It wasn't a long list...
"His name is Rezo."
My heart stopped. I couldn't breathe. The name I thought I'd never hear again. That man. THAT MAN!
"The Blind Wiseman... He's called Rezo, the Red Priest."
I felt the sweat drip down the side of my face. Rezo. My grandfather. The man who cursed me to forever--! I stumbled forward and twisted towards the doorway, still unable to take a breath. Some part of me wanted to run. The very mention of his name and I wanted to run like a child. But my body was frozen in panic.
A small hand reached out and squeezed my own gently. A warm hand. "The Red Priest..." Lina whispered.
I could breathe again. All it took was her touch. Just that solitary kindness and comfort from her, and my body unfroze. On the second breath out, I pronounced the name hoarsely myself, "...Rezo?!"
Pokota reset the seals on all of the doors as we came back outside from that cemetery of the living, and we all gathered at the foot of the stairs leading into the large ruin.
I crossed my arms across my chest and gripped them tightly, trying to desperately hold onto the little bit of warmth and light Lina's simple touch had given me. "Rezo the Red Priest..." I stood across from her, keeping my eyes hidden behind my hair, hoping it would hide the panic and anger still threatening to well up from inside. Trying to remain calm on the surface, but secretly hoping she'd notice. That she'd take my hand and banish that cold darkness again-- If it became too much. Only if it became too much. No. I wouldn't count on that kind of miracle to occur a second time. I wouldn't expect her to take my hand and lead me from my own darkness. I-- "I didn't expect that name to come up."
"You're telling me." Lina stood, arms crossed over her chest, staring at my crossed arms. My knuckles would've been white if they hade been capable of showing that sort of stress anymore. There was nothing for her to see, just my arms crossed, like usual. "But that way, I can understand why this spell resembles Hellmaster's."
"An unexpected name, indeed." I couldn't get my mind off that track. Rezo. Rezo had been here. But that was her point. The spell resembled Hellmaster's. This could be the work of Shabranigdo within Rezo, just as she had tried to convince me that my own cursed body was more Shabranigdo's doing than my grandfather's.
"You think so?" Xellos interjected nonchalantly.
Irritation washed over Lina's face, and she turned away from me. "Hey there, don't you know something we don't?"
"Oh, I have nothing to do with this country's past." A likely story. He might not be lying, but what was that damned Mazoku not saying?
Lina stepped forward threateningly. "Are you sure?"
Xellos's smile seemed to turn nervous for a moment as he scratched the back of his head and looked around the empty town. "Oh right, I had something else to do." And he disappeared into thin air.
"Ah hold it! Wait a minute!!" Damn. Lina must have almost caught him on something. "Good god!"
Amelia took the pause in action to ask the question she'd clearly been holding in, "I've never met this Rezo guy in person, but what kind of person was he?"
Lina didn't even wait for me to decline explaining or try to leave the immediate area. She stepped closer to me, and her proximity seem to unknot a couple of the muscles in my arms as I relaxed minutely. "Rezo the Red Priest, a blind wizard that was called a legendary wiseman. With is rare level of magic power and his abundant knowledge he was a person that saved many people and helped establish mage guilds in many locations."
"Then, he must've been a good guy!" Gourry piped up smiling.
It wasn't a stupid assumption, not really. Given the information. I forgot sometimes how poor Gourry's memory really was. With Rezo and all those who once served him (and me) now dead, Lina was the only one who understood. She was the only person alive with any clue exactly what I'd been through. That not only had Rezo done this to me, that my own Grandfather had done this to me. That everyone I ever trusted had turned against me the moment I stopped serving the man who had cursed me. Except for Rodimus and Zolf, and that had only gotten them killed. Only Lina knew and remembered seeing my life as it was. A man with no hope but vengeance. Now a man with nothing but a hopeless search.
"We fought him, okay?!" Lina growled out between clenched teeth. She sighed and picked up the story again, "However..."
"...That is only how he appeared on the surface." I cut in. This much I could say. The truth about the Red Priest that I knew more intimately than anyone else in the entire universe. "His true side was a person solely devoted to healing his own eyes. A man that would sacrifice anything for his mysterious experiments." I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the looks of disgust on their faces when I did this. I pulled down one sleeve to my elbow. "My body is the result of one of his experiments." I opened my eyes again, but only stared at the exposed stretch of the disgusting blue stone skin.
"So that's how he was," Amelia started, the pity of someone who only half-understood already ringing in her voice.
"And sealed off within his blind eyes was Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo. " Lina continued the story before Amelia could get started.
Then, Pokota came bouncing down the stairs, interrupting us. "Okay, now you know the happenings of this country. Now, would you mind getting out of here? I honestly didn't want to let anyone in to begin with."
"However, there is something that I still need to ask." Lina gave Pokota her full attention now. "First, who are you exactly? And I also need to ask you about the mage tanks and the Sword of Light."
And coming to her real point, Lina stepped forward and kneeled down so that she was almost eye-level with Pokota, "Also, I'll go ahead and tell you this since there's not point in hiding the fact. What would you do if Rezo the Red Priest was not in this world anymore?"
"Rezo not in this world anymore?"
I moved forward swiftly and knelt next to her. This was not going to be easy, and she and I were the only ones alive that knew the full story of Rezo the Red Priest.
"That's even more absurd. If Rezo was gone, then the seal on the country would've been broken already."
"Really?" That was impossible. Rezo was dead. I heard him die. I saw him die. Rezo IS dead.
Pokota jumped up, managing to perch on both Lina and my heads simultaneously. "That's the kind of seal it is. If not, there'd be a lot of problematic issues."
"Well, that's true..."
"Oh yeah, where's that guy with the staff?" Then, an explosion deeper within the city interrupted our conversation.
The fight with Duclis was over, and we outside the ruined city of Taforashia again.
We had managed to travel to a nearby town and get rooms at an inn despite the late hour, but I couldn't sleep. I sat on a stone bench over-looking a fountain in the square just outside the inn.
I leaned backwards on the bench, my hands balled into fists in my lap, my face looking skyward, teeth clenched together.
Rezo. Hearing that name again. I hadn't expected to ever hear it again. I hadn't expected the affect it would have on me. Freezing up like that. In pure child-like terror. His absence seemed to have only increased his power in my mind. Made him more flawless, less defeat-able. I felt small and truly weak for the first time in years.
I was grateful everyone else was sleeping. The last thing I needed was them seeing me like this. When I felt like this.
Lina had reached out to me on reflex in the cemetery. I couldn't count on that. I didn't deserve that. Not with this body. And our group did not need someone who froze up at the sound of a single name. I had to move past this. On my own.
The sound of shoes crunching on gravel caught my attention and I jerked my head in the direction of the noise. "...Lina?"
"I figured you'd be up." She sat a small distance away from me on the bench.
"It's cold out. And late. You should be sleeping."
"I could say the same thing to you."
I stared at her for a long few moments. She had a down blanket wrapped around her shoulders rather than her typical black mantle, and loose from it's headband, her red hair left fly-aways framing her face and reflecting the moonlight. She was beautiful. "Go back to bed, Lina."
"Zel, how are you doing?"
"With what?" If I annoyed her enough, she'd go back inside on her own. And I'd stop wanting to... I wouldn't be tempted to brush the hair out of her face.
"Rezo. Based on what Pokota said, he might still be alive somehow."
"I--" I leaned my head back again and closed my eyes, fighting the surge of panic welling up. "That's impossible. There's no way that the man we killed was a fake."
"I know, but every time I think something's impossible, it seems like I get proven wrong. Not only did we fight the Dark Lord from the Over-World, we won Zel. That should've been impossible."
"Zel..." A small hand reached out and covered one of my fists, squeezing it gently. "Zel, I-- we're with you. Nothing is going to tear this team down."
I didn't say anything. Couldn't. The familiar clanging of Rezo's staff echoed through my head, and even though I knew the sound was only in my head, it chilled my blood and froze my body.
And then I was being pulled forward. Lina forced me to sit up properly on the bench. Wrapping one arm and half her blanket over me, she pulled me into a hug, her other hand still gently covering my clenched fist.
"You were shaking, Zel."
"Now stop trying to piss me off, and just let me be there for you for once." She squeezed my shoulder once to re-iterate her point. "I don't know if Rezo is alive or not. I don't know what's going to come out of this mess with Taforashia and Ruvingald. But you are not alone Zel. Whatever happens, we're going to face it together."
I could only stare at her. Her red hair reflecting the moonlight and crimson eyes that looked straight at me, without flinching from my horrible appearance, without even noticing it. An intelligent and powerful woman who knew my past, really knew it. Knew that I had once only lived to kill the venerated Red Priest, and yet, she still accepted me without flinching. And she said exactly what I needed. Didn't let me sink off into my darkness, but took my hand and led me into her light.
"Got that, Zel?" Her eyebrows creased as she tried to read my thoughts.
"Yeah, I got it Lina." I unclenched my fist and leaned forward against her, hugging her tightly. "Thank you."
She didn't respond at first, but then hugged back, fiercely and gently cradling me, as I let my body relax and the knots came out of my shoulders. Shaking at moments as the clanging staff still moved at the edges of my mind. I lost track of how long we sat there, her just holding me together, keeping me from falling to pieces.
I think I might love her, even though I don't deserve it. There's certainly no chance she loves me. I wouldn't count on that kind of miracle to occur. I wouldn't expect her to love me back. No. But, she cared for me, which was more than I had ever dreamed I deserved.
And to make myslef more generally useful, I bring Slayers Revolution screenshots, useful for making Zel-Lina icons and etc. If you like 'em, let me know, I can grab more screencaps of this sort, I just ran out of RAM, and I need to go to bed.