|Pulling the Strings
Author: TheGuineapig3 PM
-REWRITE- When Lina decided to help out a mysterious young aristocrat, she could tell that there was more to the child than met the eye. Now because of it, she and her friends have to stop a strange, evil plan with a mysterious source... LG/AZRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Amelia S. & Zelgadiss G. - Chapters: 31 - Words: 114,845 - Reviews: 79 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 06-23-12 - Published: 02-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7856647
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Alright, finally. I don't think this needs much of an introduction by now. As always, I don't own anything pertaining to Slayers, I'm just a fan writing some fiction. Do enjoy!
31- Battle plans and future plans- Every ending is a new beginning!
"It's crazy, and maybe a little bit backwards," Lina began. "but I think this might be just impossible enough to work. Before, while fighting, I've seen a Dragon Slave fired at or into the Sword of Light… and the Sword of Light absorbed the power of the Dragon Slave."
"So, what you're saying is, that you shoot a Dragon Slave at me, and see if the sword will absorb the power?" Gourry asked.
"Yeah- but I don't want to fire a spell like that at you unless I know for sure that the weapon will absorb the spell so that it won't hurt you." Lina replied. "I know that the real Sword of Light could do it, but I'm not so sure it'll work with the replica. I've channelled a Ragna Blade into that replica before, twice, and while that seemed to work well enough to defeat Phibrizzo, I'm not sure if it's done any damage to the sword itself. If so, it could break apart, but if not, then we'd have a potent weapon using the power of both the Sword of Light and the Dragon Slave."
"But Lina, wouldn't attacking Shabranigdo with a weapon powered up by the Dragon Slave be pointless?" Pokota asked.
"No necessarily." Lina replied. "Y'see, the way I think is this- the Sword of Light is a Dark Star weapon, which draws on the user's spirit. Powered up by the power of the Demon Lord Shabranigdo, it should be potent against either of them because it mixes the two magics- sort of like magical fusion. If Gourry were to strike with that, while I threw in a Ragna Blade for good measure, I think we'd have him! You guys just have to cover for us so that we can get close enough to strike!"
"It does seem backwards… but just maybe…" Pokota murmured.
A few shrieks from their companions brought them to attention. "We can't just keep sitting around and talking like this! We've got to do something!" Lina exclaimed. "Hurry, Pokota! Go help them! Gourry and I will take care of the rest!"
Pokota stared at them for a moment, but nodded. "I really hope you know what you're doing, Lina…" He jumped back to join the fray. "Amelia! Quick! We have to do something to distract Shabranigdo!"
Amelia turned around quickly. "What? Where's Miss Lina and Mister Gourry?"
"They're preparing an attack! Lina has an idea, but it's crazy! Meanwhile, we've got to keep Shabranigdo away from the two of them!"
"You've got it!" Amelia smiled. She knew the perfect way to distract an enemy- her own personal method, of course.
"Shabranigdo, King of Darkness, your reign of terror will not prevail against the forces of goodness which you seek to destroy! Your plans have come to an end, and we are here to see that they are put to rest once and for all! Prepare to be destroyed by our Justice of love and joy and peace and happiness!"
"…and everything else." Zelgadis mumbled, not sure he wanted to be lumped in with the 'joy and happiness' group. Still, he met Amelia's gaze, and nodded, knowing what she had in mind.
Marielle-Shabranigdo had been listening to Amelia's speech in amusement, but suddenly became aware that the group was attacking once again.
"RA TILT!" Amelia and Zelgadis attacked together, causing Marielle-Shabranigdo to have to create a barrier to defend against the spell.
"Pokota, buddy!" Naga whispered. "Back me up! Double Freeze-Arrow!"
"Right!" Pokota nodded, and combined his attack with hers.
Once again, Marielle-Shabranigdo shook off the spell as though it were nothing. He attempted to attack the humans who were firing all the spells, but Xellos kept getting in the way, doing his best to block the Demon Lord's attacks, in order to buy the group more time.
Miss Lina, Mister Gourry… whatever you're doing, hurry up. I don't know how much longer we can keep this up… even if his power is limited within that doll, a Demon Lord is a Demon Lord, and he's more powerful than any of us…
Lina and Gourry had ducked behind a pile of rubble, and were trying to figure out exactly what to do.
"Gourry, are you sure you're okay with this? If that replica doesn't hold up to the power of the Dragon Slave, then it'll blow you up with it."
"It's your plan, isn't it?" Gourry asked. "What choice do I have?"
"Well, we could still try a combination of the Ragna Blade and the Sword of Light- separately, of course. But, the thing is, it's so difficult to get close enough to attack, that I'd never be able to get in with a Ragna Blade in time. What I want to do is to power up the Sword of Light so that we can both get close, and, while you're striking with the sword, I'll quickly cast a Ragna Blade and finish off Shabranigdo with that."
Gourry stared blankly for a moment, taking it all in, and then nodded. "So I've just got to get the two of us in close, and then I'll strike first and you'll strike second. Is that it?"
"That's right." Lina nodded. "C'mon! It's now or never!"
Gourry stood up and clenched the sword in his hands. "Light, come forth!" he called, and watched as the blade materialised. Lina fixed her gaze on the sword, and began the amplification spell.
"Lords of Darkness of the four worlds… on thy bonds I do swear… grant me all the power you possess…"
Lina's incantation caught Marielle-Shabranigdo's attention, and Xellos had to fire a particularly powerful attack to distract the Demon Lord. It would take a lot out of him, but Marielle-Shabranigdo would be forced to turn his attention to the Mazoku, allowing Lina and Gourry to finish their plan.
"Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows…" Lina began, while Gourry braced himself to handle the power of the Sword of Light and the Dragon Slave.
Xellos cringed, as he saw that his attack hadn't bought them nearly enough time as he'd thought it would, as Marielle-Shabranigdo turned back to Lina. He stumbled backwards, grasping his staff for support.
"Mister Xellos! Are you alright?" Naga gasped.
"I'm fine; I just need a minute." the Mazoku replied. "You've got to keep Shabranigdo away from them, though!"
The others nodded, and continued firing attacks, though Marielle-Shabranigdo still continued to focus on Lina.
"…before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand…"
"Doesn't she know that spell is useless?" Marielle-Shabranigdo murmured, watching with rapt curiosity. "Has she lost it?"
"Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess! DRAGON SLAVE!"
Lina cringed as she released the power toward the Sword of Light. "…c'mon, Pokota… your replica has to stand up to this…"
The power of the Dragon Slave swirled around the sword, and was absorbed into the light of the blade. It burst forth with such power, that, for a second, Gourry was sure it wasn't going to hold. But, the sword and the magic had fused perfectly, and the blade was strengthened by the Black Magic into an inferno of light.
Lina didn't even have time to smile in relief that it had worked. "Gourry! Now!"
Gourry took the sword in one hand, and grabbed Lina's hand with the other. The two of them plunged toward the Demon Lord together, with the powered-up Sword of Light leading the way.
"Idiots…" Marielle-Shabranigdo murmured, creating a wall in front of them to block their passage.
"Oh no, you don't!" Lina grinned, watching Gourry slice through the barrier with ease.
The doll seemed so stunned that they made it through the barrier, that she didn't even have time to react. Lina began to chant as she and Gourry grew closer to the figure.
"Lord of dreams that terrify… sword of cold and darkness… free yourself from the heaven's bonds… become one with my power, one with my body-"
"Oh no, you don't!"
Before Lina or Gourry were able to strike, Marielle-Shabranigdo sent out a blast of energy that wrapped itself around Lina's hands, cutting off her spell and tossing her in the opposite direction.
"Lina!" Gourry turned away from his offensive position and went after her. Lina screamed as she was thrown across the rubble, however, before she got too far away, she was caught in mid-air by the back of her cape.
"Can't have your plan backfiring on us, now can we?" Pokota grinned at her. "I'd start that incantation again, if I were you. Get Gourry to clear you a path again, and I'll get you the rest of the way there."
"I've got a better idea." Lina argued. "Toss me back to Gourry, will you? We're going to try this again- but this time, even Shabranigdo won't be able to stop us."
Pokota frowned, but nodded anyway. "I hope you know what you're doing." he murmured. "Gourry! Here!"
The stuffed animal tossed Lina back towards the swordsman, who quickly threw the sword to one hand in order to catch the sorceress with the other.
Amelia, Zelgadis, and Naga were still throwing attacks at Marielle-Shabranigdo, to keep the magic from reaching Lina and Gourry as they regrouped their attack, but things weren't exactly looking good for them if they had to keep it up too much longer. Zelgadis eyed the two. "…they're not trying the same thing again, are they…?"
"Lina, what are we doing now?" Gourry asked, regaining his grip on his sword, now that Lina was safely on the ground.
She placed her hands on top of his, also gripping the hilt of the sword. "We do the same thing we did earlier- except, this time, we're going in together. You lead the way!"
Gourry figured that he ought to trust her, as she seemed to know what she was doing, and nodded.
"Haven't you fools tried that approach enough? It's the definition of stupidity to try the same thing over and over and expect different results!" Marielle-Shabranigdo chided, doing his best to fend the two off. However, the powered-up Sword of Light was still able to cut through all of the barriers in its path. As Gourry led the way, slashing through magic barriers left and right, Lina followed, doing her best to keep her hands over his, channelling her magic into the sword.
"Lord of the dreams that terrify, sword of cold and darkness, free yourself from the heaven´s bonds… Become one with my power, one with my body, and let us walk the path of destruction together!"
Gourry easily saw what Lina was doing. "Lina, do you really think the sword can hold the power of a Dragon Slave and a Ragna Blade together?"
"That's what I'm counting on!" Lina shot back. "Power that can smash even the souls of the Gods,
With the last words of the incantation chanted, the chaos magic surged through the sword, and Gourry and Lina closed the distance between themselves and the doll.
"…a replica of Gorun Nova, my own power, and the power of the Lord of Nightmares, all in one?" the Demon Lord murmured. "That's… that's… impossible…"
Just it was said, the sword struck its target, slicing through the magic surrounding the doll with ease, and tearing through the astral presence of the Demon Lord himself.
The explosion rocked the whole area, creating a flash of light and an immense shock wave. Amelia dove into Zelgadis' arms, and he and Pokota created a shield around the four of them.
"Are Lina and Gourry okay?" Naga gasped, unable to see through the smoke created by the explosion.
"I hope so…" Amelia murmured, clutching Zelgadis a little tighter.
A few minutes passed, and finally, the smoke subsided.
Lina and Gourry were left in the epicenter, clinging to one another. The blade of the replica Sword of Light had dissipated, leaving just the crater to show how much power had once been coursing through it. Lina pulled herself from Gourry's side, and looked around.
"…hey, we're alive…" she observed bluntly. "I didn't think there was time to create a barrier before all that power was released, but I guess we survived it… somehow…"
"Well, of course you did, Miss Lina. I couldn't let you or Mister Gourry be harmed. That would make my superiors very unhappy."
Lina turned to the Mazoku in surprise. "Xellos? You're the one who protected us from the blast?"
"Oh, just doing my job." Xellos chimed in return. "As I told Mister Zelgadis and Miss Amelia earlier, I am charged with the safekeeping of you and your friends- especially you and Mister Gourry, now that the two of you are married, or so I hear."
Lina narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean, Xellos? Why should our marital status have anything to do with you?"
Xellos chuckled. "Well, obviously, it means that there is a much better chance for the potential that you two could produce some sort of magic-wielding progeny that could be useful to the Mazoku in the future."
Lina's face went red. "Th-the potential that we could WHAT?"
"M-Miss Lina! Mister Gourry! You're alright!" Amelia had good timing as she interrupted Lina and Xellos' conversation before it could take a turn for the worst.
"You guys!" Lina smiled as she greeted their friends. "Hey, Pokota, nice job! Your replica held a Dragon Slave and a Ragna Blade. I'd say that's pretty good workmanship right there!"
"Well, I did say that it was my best replica." Pokota chuckled nervously.
Gourry tapped the hilt of the sword. "Well, it doesn't look like I'll be able to get it to work for quite a while until it recharges or whatever… but I don't think that'll be a problem.
"Why? Is Marielle… dead?" Naga exclaimed.
Xellos stepped forward. "Well, 'Marielle' has been dead for years. But… the Demon Lord Shabranigdo- at least, the piece sealed within that doll- is also no more."
"Good. That's how it should be." Zelgadis murmured, examining the rubble underfoot. "With that doll destroyed, she won't be hurting any more innocent people."
"And you, Mister," Lina growled, reaching out and pulling on Zelgadis' cheek. "have a lot of explaining to do!"
"O-ow! Hey! I get it, Lina! I know!" Zelgadis growled, pulling away and rubbing his cheek in pain. "Ah, now that's a pain I haven't felt in a while…"
"Yeah! Weren't you supposed to be killed if the pieces of your chimeric body were separated?" Pokota asked, jumping onto his head. "I mean, I'm glad to see that you're alright and everything, but what happened?"
"It's… complicated." Zelgadis groaned. "Look, I'll explain it later. For now, we'd better figure out how to get out of here, and… uh…"
The group heard a small sound, and turned around. Jetta had approached the group, looking terrified and relieved at the same time.
"Is… is she…?"
"She is gone." Lina nodded solemnly.
There was a long moment of silence, and a melancholic smile spread across the young woman's face. "…thank you…" she murmured softly. "…I don't know… how I'll ever repay you… all these years, I was so lost… chasing after an evil that I thought was my family…"
Lina considered asking for a reward, but decided against it. Jetta had been through too much already. The sorceress stepped forward, and put a hand on Jetta's shoulder.
"No need for a reward. Not for this."
Jetta's shoulders trembled, and she reached out, throwing her arms around Lina. The sorceress returned the gesture, staying still to let Jetta cry on her shoulder. Lina wasn't normally one for sappy, emotional scenes, but somehow, it felt right. It felt as though all of the madness had finally come to a close.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Gourry glance over to the side, and her eyes traced his gaze. There, amidst the rubble from the battle, the figure of a little girl stood, watching the scene, her blue eyes fixed on the young woman who was crying on Lina's shoulder. She turned to smile at Gourry, and then at Lina, and softly mouthed the words 'thank you' before disappearing into the night.
Lina and Gourry glanced at each other, and smiled back.
That was one promise fulfilled.
Now, there was one more left.
Lucas and Kasper Arcarti were beyond overjoyed to be reunited with their long-lost sister, who acted at the reunion much in the same way she had after the battle, hugging her brothers, sobbing profusely. It was a heart-warming moment, and Naga and Amelia cried. Lina, herself, might have shed a tear or two, but, if she did, Gourry was the only one who saw it, and he wasn't telling anyone.
After spending much of the day with Jetta and her brothers, helping to collect what she had from the rubble of the mansion she had once inhabited, and move it to her new home with her surviving family, evening was beginning to fall, and Amelia, Pokota, Gourry, and Zelgadis had gathered on the back porch of the Seyruun family's summer home. The fatigue from their sleepless night was beginning to set in, but they hadn't fallen asleep yet. Lina and Naga were both inside. The group knew that Lina was in the library, while Naga said that she would be outside in a few minutes.
"It's hard to believe…" Amelia murmured, leaning on Zelgadis' shoulder. "…that just yesterday, we were out here planning a wedding. It seems so long ago."
"It does, doesn't it?" Pokota chuckled. "Hey, Gourry, tell your wife to get out here, or else she's going to miss your 1-day anniversary."
Amelia and Zelgadis weren't sure what to make of the comment, however, when both Gourry and Pokota started laughing, it was obvious that it was a joke. Amelia chuckled along with them.
"I wouldn't worry too much. Miss Lina and Mister Gourry will have plenty of anniversaries to celebrate in the future."
"The future seems to be an awfully popular thing to think about." Zelgadis mused. "Just yesterday, I didn't think I had one."
"But you do." Amelia smiled up at him. "And it's going to be bright and wonderful- and we'll spend it together."
Zelgadis allowed himself a small smile before he caught himself and straightened up, clearing his throat. "Erm, well, anyway… speaking of the future, what are our plans for tomorrow? I know that Amelia and I need to get to Seyruun as quickly as possible, to make sure everyone knows that she's safe."
"Good idea!" Naga popped out of the house with a large travelling bag thrown over her shoulder.
"Gracia! What's that bag for?" Amelia asked. "You're not leaving now, are you? What about getting some sleep?"
Naga grinned. "Oh, I'm not tired! I took a long nap while everyone else was busy moving things! Remember? OHOHOHOHO~!"
"That's right, you slacker, you did." Pokota scolded. "Thanks a lot for all the help."
"Oh, don't be so sarcastic, little Pokota buddy." Naga chided. "It's not good for you."
"But, anyway, what are your and Lina's plans, Gourry?" Zelgadis interrupted, continuing the conversation from where he had left off.
"Oh, us?" Gourry asked. "Well, Lina suggested that we ought to head back to Seyruun with you guys. We'll spend some time with Zara and help you guys prepare for your wedding."
"No honeymoon?" Naga asked, sounding disappointed.
"Lina said that there would be plenty of time after Amelia and Zel's wedding for that." Gourry responded. "We're not in any hurry to settle down or anything, so the open road will always be there. It might be nice to have a little place to call home, but I don't think either of us could ever get used to staying in one place for too long."
"A little place to call home, hmm?" Naga murmured. She paused, and pulled Amelia to the side, much to her sister's confusion.
"Gracia, what are you-"
"Listen, Amelia," Naga whispered. "does Philio- I mean, Dad- have any plans for this house? Is he planning to sell it or what?"
"I don't know." Amelia whispered back. "There had been talk of selling it, but Dad wanted it to stay in the family, or at least with friends, and none of our family or close friends wanted to buy it. We never use it, and it's getting to be such a hassle to keep up, there was talk that they might give it to you, since you were out travelling the world, but we could never contact you about it."
"So… it's mine?" Naga asked curiously.
"Well, that depends on what you want to do with it. Dad definitely says that he wants it to stay with family or friends-"
"So, how close is the royal family to Lina and Gourry? Would they be considered 'friends?" Naga asked. "Because… I just had an idea for a perfect wedding present from me… if 'Dad' would approve, of course."
Amelia's expression broke into a smile as she heard her sister's plan. "Oh, Gracia…"
Lina appeared on the porch, with a big smile on her face, and a large stack of books and maps in her hands. She set the stack down on the porch railing, in between Gourry and Pokota.
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but what is all that?" Pokota questioned.
"What do you think?" Lina asked with a wink. "Honeymoon plans, of course!"
"All that?" Gourry asked, looking at the books in surprise.
"Well, there's just a little bit of information here and there…" Lina replied, flipping through the books. "See, here in the north-western corner of Dils, there is a legend about a cove where pirates once hid a great treasure… and over here, in the forests of Kalmaart, there is an old legend about fairies and a hidden cave of crystals unlike anything else in the world-"
"Lina, are these 'honeymoon plans' just more excuses to go treasure hunting?" Gourry raised an eyebrow. "That's not exactly most people's idea of a romantic vacation."
"But Gourry~" Lina exclaimed, grabbing his hands and pulling him closer. "of course it's romantic! What could be more romantic than risking our lives together, searching for untold riches, staying by one another's side despite any traps or dangers that we are faced with…?"
Lina was just in it for the treasure, and everyone knew it, but it didn't really matter all that much. Gourry sighed, and put his hand on Lina's head, tousling her hair gently.
"Whatever makes you happy, Lina. I'll just be glad to be there with you."
"Yes! Thank you, Gourry! You're the best husband ever!" Lina squealed, giving him a quick hug and then dashing back over to her books. "Now, let's see… about that cove in Dils… it's more dangerous to navigate around the bay in a small vessel, but that would give us a much better chance of finding the entrance…"
"I've got to head back to Taforashia first thing in the morning." Pokota said. "I wrote to them when Amelia and I got out of the mansion, letting them know that I was alright, and that I'd be home soon, but I can't delay getting back any longer."
Amelia nodded. "I understand. You're coming to our wedding, aren't you?" She grabbed Zelgadis' arm again.
"I already told you, I'll definitely be there." Pokota grinned.
"I will too. I wouldn't miss it for the world." Naga said. "But, for now, I have to get back on the road."
"W-wait! You're not coming back to Seyruun with us?" Amelia gasped. Naga shook her head, and Amelia continued in protest. "But Gracia-"
"Amelia, I love you, and I love the rest of our family, but I can't go back to Seyruun- at least not for good." Naga sighed. "Seeing you and Zelgadis has been wonderful, and it makes me so glad that you've finally found your prince. But it's also a reminder that mine is still out there somewhere, and I have to find him." She chuckled softly. "I mean, if even Lina Inverse can find a lover, there must be one out there for me, somewhere! Preferably a tall, dark, and handsome someone who is incredibly intelligent, with a witty personality and great hair, and-"
"Don't push it." Lina groaned.
"Anyway," Naga continued, glaring at Lina. "that's why I have to leave, and right away. If I don't get myself back on the road, I might miss something, and I want to be ready to meet fate head-on. I'll write all the time, and I'll see you very soon, I promise. But I have to go now."
Amelia gave a solemn nod. "I understand. I'll miss you, Gracia. It's been wonderful having you around. I love you."
The two sisters exchanged a tight hug. "I love you too, Amelia." Naga said. "And thank you for everything. If it wasn't for you and your friends, I might still be working for that little Demon Lord of a girl. I owe you guys."
Naga broke away from the hug and turned to Zelgadis. "I'll see you soon too, Zelgadis." He reached out his hand to shake, but Naga pulled him into a hug instead. "Oh, I can't wait! I'm going to have you as a brother-in-law! I'm so glad that you're not dead!"
"…uh, thank you?" Zelgadis wasn't exactly sure how to follow that. He figured it must be a compliment, so thanks might be in order… then again, they might not.
Naga turned back to Lina and Gourry. "Well, Lina Inverse, my greatest rival, it has been a fun time catching up with you. You've grown up a bit from that scrawny little girl I once knew… though, you've certainly still got the flat chest-"
"NAGA! I will hurt you!"
"OHOHOHO~!" Naga laughed as she watched Gourry attempted to restrain Lina. "But at least there's a man who is nice enough to accept you, flat chest and all. It's been a pleasure to meet you, Gourry. I can't wait to see you too again, someday." She laughed a bit more and then added, "and next time I come visit, I want you guys to have lots of little kids for me to play with~!"
"Okay." Gourry just waved, somewhat oblivious to what Naga had just said.
"Wh-what?" Lina gasped, her face turning red. "Okay? Did you just say 'okay?' You don't just say 'okay' to a statement like that, Gourry!"
Naga smiled as she watched the sorceress attempting to strangle her new husband, as some sort of punishment, though Gourry looked more amused than in any kind of pain. She stopped at the edge of the porch to give one last goodbye before she left.
Pokota extended a hand to shake. "Goodbye, Naga. It's been nice getting to know you. I, uh… well… um… y-you're always welcome to visit Taforashia, whenever you want! Come by sometime, just to say hi… y'know, if you ever have time, and are bored, or-"
"Oh, Pokota~!" Naga grabbed Pokota into a big hug. "I'm going to miss you so much, my little Pokota buddy! We'll have to keep in touch, okay?" She twirled around with the stuffed animal for a moment, and then kissed him on the cheek before tossing him back toward the ground. He was too stunned to do anything, and landed on his head.
"Ow! Uh… bye…" was all he could manage.
"Bye, everyone! I'll see you all again, soon! OHOHOHOHO~!" The sound of Naga's laughter echoed through the area until it slowly disappeared.
Amelia giggled slightly as she watched her friends. Lina was still yelling at Gourry for his casual response to Naga's farewell, and Pokota was still trying to make sense of what had happened.
She rested her head on Zelgadis' arm. "I guess… tomorrow starts a new beginning for all of us."
"I guess so." Zelgadis nodded. "After all, every ending has to be followed by a new beginning. Funny how that works, isn't it?"
A few steady blue lights amidst the flashing yellow glows of fireflies made their way around the backyard, and, for the first time that day, everything was quiet at last.
Or, at least, for a moment, anyway.
With Lina and her friends around, it isn't easy to keep things quiet, after all. But that's just how things should be, right?
(A/N: Agh… over a year of writing, almost a year of posting chapters, and one rewrite later, I didn't let this story beat me! I'm just… so glad that it's over. For all of you guys who have read this far, you guys are awesome… I really have no words! There are so many other things you could have been doing with your time, I'm honoured that you would spend it reading this story. Thank you guys for all the feedback and comments you've given me- I appreciate it so very much! ^_^)