A/N: Reviews make me so happy. . .^_^ Well, here's the epilogue as promised. It may be a bit different from normal ones, since it explains a lot of things from the story. I'll let you decide. Please review some more!
Disclaimer: I don't own Slayers or anything else that isn't mine to own.
Epilogue and Ending Notes
Zel groaned as he slowly opened his eyes. He ached all over, although it had a touch of numbness on the surface. As he looked wearily up at a pale peach painted ceiling, he became increasingly aware of his surroundings. Light shown down on the blanket that covered him. The cool breeze affirmed his assumption that there was an open window on the wall behind him. He looked down at the blanket, and found that it was a very warm, insolating quilt. It was a bit faded in color, but still well-stitched and together. He judged from this that he definitely wasn't in an inn. A home maybe?
Zel eased his head sideways to look around a bit more. A dresser stood tall on the adjacent wall. As he scrutinized it a bit more, he realized that the dark wood showed signs of burns, in various places. Although this was beautifully done, as if on purpose, burns were burns. And they reminded him of Lina. Could this be. . .Lina's room?
As if answering his questions, the door in front of the foot of the bed opened, and in came Lina. She was carrying a tray full of food. From what Zel could see, it was a bowl of soup, some fresh juice, and a small loaf of bread. Lina's expression seemed to brighten considerably as she locked eyes with him. She quickly put the tray down on the end table next to the bed, and exclaimed the obvious, "You're awake!"
Zel gave her a wan smile and replied, "So are you?"
A second or two of silence passed before they both asked, "Are you alright?"
They laughed softly at this. Zel responded first. "I think I'll be okay. My muscles still feel sore, but I'm alright."
Lina nodded understandingly and responded, "Well, when I woke up a few days ago, I was fine. You, however, were completely beaten to a pulp." Zel winced at her words. "Sorry, but it's true. I don't even know how it happened." Zel started to blush a little as he remembered. He bid Lina to continue.
She told him how she had taken him to the nearest inn and tried to heal him herself, but the strain was too great, and she fainted before she barely got into it. When she woke up, she decided that the best thing to do would be to return to Zephilia, to seek Luna's help. So Lina had flown him back, and that was where they were now. Zel contemplated this, and suddenly asked how long he had been unconscious. Counting on her fingers while looking up, Lina answered that today would make it four nights, five days. Zel's eyes popped wide open at this. "That long?!" Zel sighed as he turned back to look at the ceiling. "I never realized. . ."
Lina giggled. When Zel looked at her, she apologized, well, explained herself. "Of course not! It's hard to keep track of time when you're dozing like a log!" At this, Zel began to chuckle lightly himself.
Changing topics a little, Zel asked what Lina remembered about before, about that strange dimension. She immediately grew grim, and quietly requested Zel to wait until Luna got home for questions like that. Zel was bewildered that Lina would act so strangely to his question, but he nodded and closed his eyes again to rest.
It seemed only a few minutes later that Lina's soft call woke him up. "Zel? Do you think you're well enough to sit up and eat?"
Zel smiled as he opened his eyes again. "Anything's possible when you're around." Zel slowly eased himself up; Lina helped prop the feather down pillows behind him. When he was comfortable, Zel flexed and stretched his arms to make sure they worked properly. Once he was ready, Lina set the tray carefully on his lap. Zel ate calmly, but his eyes constantly roamed to the ever watching stare of Lina. Before long, this stare unnerved him. He had to ask, "What is it?"
She smiled softly at him, but said nothing, only shaking her head. "You'll know soon enough." Zel raised an eyebrow at her, but she only continued to smile. Zel pushed away the tray, saying that he had finished.
Suddenly, Zel heard the distinct sound of a door closing, but somewhat far away. Lina had heard it too, and her smile brightened. As she stood up, she confirmed, "Luna's home."
Lina asked if Zel could stand. He answered that he probably could, with some help and stretching. So Lina helped him, and together, they traveled out of the room, onto the living room couch. Just as they were seating themselves, Luna came from around the corner with a tea set on a tray. Zel recalled later how much of a contrast there was between the nice, flowery designs of the tea set compared to the grim, foreboding look of Luna. She silently seated herself in the large plush chair across from them. After pouring three cups of tea, adding just the right amount of sugar, cream, and milk, she handed one to each of them, saving one for herself. Taking a long, drawn out sip from her cup, she sighed into it, easing her muscles. Slowly, she set down her cup on the coffee table, and leaned back, turning to face Zel and Lina, Zel in particular.
"Now then, let's begin. Tell me what you remember of your trip."
Zel took a sip from his cup while he collected his thoughts. Lina seemed to be doing the same thing. Setting down his cup as well, Zel started. He told of how they had been sent tumbling into some sort of room that revealed certain past events. Luna urged Zel to divulge further into these "past events". If her eyes had not been hidden by her bangs, they would have shown Luna's vast astonishment at both of their memorial events. Going on, Zel described the winding roads surrounded by darkness; Luna did not seem surprised by this, or the fact that their magic would not work at this time. When Zel informed her about the abrupt feast, and how Lina had been kidnapped by the darkness, he felt her icy stare locked on him, varying rapidly between softening and hardening.
Zel gulped then, but then skipped to how he had found himself in front of a fork in the road: Lina or the cure. By this time, Luna had crossed her legs and propped her elbow on her knee. As her chin was then positioned beyond her slender fingers, he did not catch the small smile that appeared when he told her his decision. Lina's expression was completely glowing with happiness, increasingly so with every revelation. Zel related his encounter with the emotion-invoked flame, the daunting rope, and finally, Xellos. The sisters' eyebrows jumped at this. Lina voiced the question, "What was he doing there?" Zel shook his head, saying that he still had no idea. He continued, telling of his fight, and how he had beaten him. Lina blushed twenty shades of crimson at this, and found that she couldn't keep direct eye contact with either of them for several minutes. Luna smirked behind her hand.
Luna verified, "Is this the first time you've admitted these types of feelings for my little sister?"
When Zel nodded, blushing himself, Luna let out a hearty laugh. Upon recovering, she remarked, "Imagine that! Ha. . . The first time you say something like that, it's to a high-level male mazoku. Simply Hilarious!"
Zel blushed even more, and caught Lina giving him an uneasy sideways glance. He mumbled to her, "Don't even think it. I don't like guys that way."
With a Cheshire cat grin, Luna asked, "Well then, do you still mean it now? To Lina?"
"Say it," Luna challenged him.
Zel nodded again and turned to face Lina. Holding her delicate hands in his, he locked eyes with her and declared, "I. . love you, Lina. I meant it before and I mean it now. It took this trip to realize it, but now I know better than ever. I've loved you for a long time, maybe since we first met. Now I'm even surer that my love will last forevermore, no matter what."
Lina's whole face was now burning red. She had forgotten that her big sister was there, and Luna knew it. Trembling at first, Lina replied with her own little confession. "It's the same for me. I didn't admit to it when I first went in, but I'm not afraid to say it now. I love you too, Zel."
There was a pause before Luna clapped, a smile on her face. "Bravo, bravo. You finally did it. It took you two numbskulls long enough. Now it's my turn to explain. First off, the realm you were in is always described as "Emotional Torture". Would you agree?"
When they both slowly nodded, Luna continued. "Well, this realm, as it is so obviously dark and negative, was created by a monster. Deep Sea Dolphin to be exact. In fact, if you search in the darkness, very far off of the road, you'll find a passage to her home. Incidentally, she created that place to serve as her 'entertainment'. The ideal was to have a couple with little hope travel through the place, break apart because of the choice the more ignorant one chose, and have neither live in happiness afterward. For many a couple, this has happened. Some have been dealt with most unfortunately. For you see, this 'Emotional Torture' realm nullifies outside help in any way, meaning no magic or special effects, and the pair is left alone, with only themselves and their emotions at their disposal. Therefore, this dimension is programmed to heighten emotions until they can either serve as your power or your downfall or both at once. Works rather well in a Mazoku's point of view, no?"
As they were both silent, Luna went on. "Lina may have said this before, but I'll repeat it. I myself once went into this realm, with a man I care not to reveal the name of. All that happened to you, had happened to me as well. It is a good thing that you did not choose the cure then, Zelgadis. I, however, was not so fortunate in judgment. I allowed my obsession to get the better of me, and thus sentenced my partner to a lifetime of misery and pain, within a secret chamber of the realm. All of the notes that are in there were written by Deep Sea Dolphin herself. The last I read before I was forced to leave, made me the angriest of all. To prove the point of my story, I'll repeat it as I remember it.
As you wish, you are spared
From Death, who was to knock on your door.
However, your partner has not as well fared;
He will remain forever, torture in store.
You have chosen your fate.
Save yourself, kill your one soul mate.
Leave now, for what's done is done.
"I cried at that; I cried for days afterwards. But I was forced to dry my tears, to raise Lina. I have yet to cry since. You should know. . . I still remember the day that you spoke of, in Lina's memory. Our parents died that day, and it was before I ventured to that realm."
Zel furrowed his brows. "I'd hate to interrupt, but I thought the chisel only cured the cursed. What were you cursed of?"
Luna scornfully replied, "A boundless love of my parents, the burden of raising my little sister alone, the burden of supporting us both and our home, the inability to work because of my sorrow – just to name a few."
When this reply was met with a sullen silence, Luna went on with the next subject. "Enough about me. You're probably wondering why Xellos was able to be 'killed' the way he was. If you think about it, it's very simple. I said before that emotions are heightened to their utmost capacity. Love and hate are the strongest emotions one can feel, and thus have the most potential to grow there. So, your declaration of love then had such truth in them then, that it overpowered Xello's natural hate towards positive emotions. Love vs. Hate, Good vs. Evil. Do you understand?"
Slowly, the pair nodded, as it began to dawn on them how simple it was. Luna assented to their silent answer with her own nod. She took one last sip from her cup, set it down, and leaned back again. She turned the table over to Lina, asking for her to relate her side of the story, after she was kidnapped.
Lina told that from when she was taken from the table, she had fallen unconscious. The next thing she remembered was waking up as she and Zel hit the dirt of town square, in front of the opening. The two people at the doorway had asked if she had found what she wanted. She smiled as she replied to them, "Well, I did, and I think he did too." She checked Zel to make sure that he was okay before taking him to rest in the nearest inn. The rest, she had already told Zel, and Luna already knew.
Nodding, Luna stood up. "If there's nothing else, I have a job to get back to. Feel free to stay here as long as you want. Without Lina, these past years have been extremely lonely. Oh, before I forget, here, catch."
Luna took something from her apron pocket and tossed it in the air, directly into Zel's hands. "It's the cure you were looking for. Use it on the pebbles on your skin. Your declaration of love already nullified your demon counterpart. But in moments of anger or heated wrath, it will rise again. If you chip away every last one of your pebbles on your skin, then your human hue will return to you. Leave but one pebble, and you will keep the golem hardness in your skin, but everywhere but the area of the last pebble will be a normal peach/tan color. Now I really must be going; I've wasted too much precious time already."
As Luna left the room, Zel stared down at the object in his hands. Chisels were very crude in that day and age; made of stone and rather large. But this one, even though it had the shape of a chisel, it was gold, and was much finer by far than any chisel he had seen yet. As he held it, it let off a gold aura, and a light humming sound. Zel broke his stare to glance at Lina, who only smiled in return. Deciding to test it, Zelgadis carefully held out his arm, and scraped off a pebble as he would a chip in a wall. Without an additional sound, the pebble popped off effortlessly. The small place that the pebble had been as well as a few millimeters around it, slowly turned from green to "pink" (When I say pink, you know I mean simply a human hue). Realizing how utterly simple it all was, Zel's face lit up with utter glee. After almost fifteen years of endless searching, he had finally found it, within the household of the Inverses. He tried to show his gratitude to Lina, but she shushed him, saying that no thanks was necessary; they knew he wanted it.
A question dawned on Zel then. "Where did you get this from? I chose the path without the cure, didn't I?"
Lina nodded. "You did – this is Luna's. She told me that the chisel grants someone three cures/curses. She used it to first grant her the strength to defeat any adversary, and second to forget her sorrow enough to work and live comfortably. She saved the last, in case an emergency appeared. Luna said that you could have the last wish, but you'd have to do it by hand because it would take too long for her to explain how to properly wish with it."
Nevertheless, Zel shook his head. "That's fine. After all this time, if I'd only have to chip it off, I'd be so happy. I think I'll do what Luna suggested, and keep, well, three areas stone, and take the rest off; in front of my heart, and on my shoulders. Although, for places like my back, I really could use some help. . . Do you think. . .?"
Lina agreed. "If you'll let me, I don't mind helping. I just have to ask. . .What will you do afterwards, now that you finally have your cure?"
Zel took a deep breath. He looked Lina in the eye and responded, "Well, if it's not too much to ask, I'd like to live with you, marry you."
Lina's heart skipped a few beats, and her cheeks became flushed once more. Gripping his hands as he had done earlier, she answered, "If my sister will allow, which I think she will, my answer is a whole-heartedly 'YES!' to both."
Bright smiles were plastered on their faces as they stared into each other. With every second, their faces became increasingly closer until. . .
I leave the rest to your imagination. Use it well.
A/N: ^_^ There's the end of it! Lots of fluffiness no? ^_~ Well, even though it's the last chapter, I still expect reviews! (More want than expect)
Usually, at the end of my stories, I have a little profile for the most important OC. However since I made such a long epilogue, and there weren't any real OCs in this story, I've decided not to put it on. Thank you for reading my story, and thanks ten times more for every review. They've made me very happy. Oh, I should say, at least now, that this was a request story from Graywards-girl. Hope you all enjoyed it! Ciao!