Disclaimer: I don't own Slayers! There, I said it! ;;
Author's Notes: Inspired by the infinitely kawaii final episode of NEXT. Before I start, I would like to point out that I used a LOT of the original dialogue from the NEXT episode in this. However, this isn't meant to be taken like an MST of the episode, but a continuation of it, maybe? And as for those of you who are going to put "new chapter!" or "sequel", let it be known that this is a ONE-SHOT story, and even though it may end abruptly, I promise you THAT IS THE END. (I have a problem with how to end stories, okay?) That is all. Flames will be directed to Bob, the homicidal flame-eating Puchuu, so don't bother sending them, 'kay? Comments, constructive criticism and chibi bishies are always welcome! And now...
'I don't care who I get it from! Give me the power to kill Phibrizzo! If I can do that, I don't care what happens to me!'
"Darkness beyond blackest pitch, deeper than the deepest night..."
"Oh, yes! At last, you're finally ready!"
"King of Darkness, who shines like gold upon the Sea of Chaos!" If I lose control of this energy, I can destroy the world! But right now, I choose Gourry over the entire world! Gourry... Give me the strength I need! "I call upon thee! Swear myself to thee! Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess!"
"The moment I've been waiting for! Now I'll destroy her body! The chaos energy will run wild! Let your body be pierced by the souls of the dead!"
What? No...NO! I...I can't lose control...I...
Blackness was all she could see as she was enveloped by the power of the Giga Slave. She felt tears begin to trickle down her cheeks. She had played right into Phibrizzo hands, hadn't she? She'd let the whole world down...let her friends down...let Gourry down...
"I'll take over from here," came a voice. Her eyes widened, and she looked around.
"Who are you?" she asked. A golden light shone in front of her eyes, a soothing light, but at the same time a sinister light. She suddenly understood. It was at that point that Lina Inverse's memory stopped; she knew that the Lord of Nightmares herself had taken her body as a host, and it had not been her that had finished off Hellmaster Phibrizzo...she didn't know the details of the battle between the Lord of Nightmares and Hellmaster, nor did she know exactly what happened after that battle...
It was cold. Really cold. Lina sighed as she tossed and turned, trying to find a warm position in the small, cold bed. She couldn't sleep with the constant cold drafts, and she knew it. More to the point, the fire-haired sorceress was beginning to think that she would freeze to death. From the beginning of this entire ordeal she had thought that the drafty-looking inn was a bad choice, but with their lack of funds they'd really had no other alternative. Well, Lina mused, she could have just found some group of hapless bandits and 'fireballed' them until they gave up their money, but by the time she and Gourry had made it into the medium-sized town she was too tired and hungry to do much of anything.
She sighed heavily. Stupid drafty inn, stupid December winds...stupid biting cold! After shivering, sneezing, tossing and turning for a while longer, and cursing the coldness that robbed her of precious sleep, Lina finally gave up and got out of her bed, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders and stalking out of the room.
'I can't believe I'm doing this!' she thought as she made her way down the hall and knocked on a door. No response. Lina twitched angrily and knocked again. Still no response.
'How can he SLEEP in this cold?!' she wondered to herself. 'He may have jellyfish for brains, but still!' After knocking again for good measure, she sighed and opened the door. The room was dark and, Lina noticed, it was a LOT colder than her room had been. Maybe she had no right to complain... but she couldn't sleep in her room anyway, so what would be the point of feeling guilty?
With that decided, she made her way over to the small bed where her friend, protector, and self-proclaimed 'guardian', Gourry Gabriev, slept. He did not look comfortable at all, shivering violently as he attempted to curl tighter and tighter into a ball underneath his blanket. She shivered a little as a draft cut through the room, and lost some of her resolve.
'I can't do this. It's GOURRY.' she thought, but shook her head. 'I also can't sleep, and I really REALLY like sleep!' she reminded herself. Half annoyed, she finally reached a small, cold hand out and shook Gourry awake.
"Gourry! Hey, Jellyfish-for-brains! Wakey wakey!" she half-whispered. He opened his eyes, confused to see Lina in the dark room.
"What is it Lina? Did we get attacked?" he asked, partially still groggy from sleep and partially waking up at an alarming rate thanks to the drafts of cold air that poured over him.
"No, Gourry," she replied, sighing, "It's just too cold for me to sleep, and..."
"And what? Do you want me to stay awake with you?" he asked. She blushed, unable to believe what she was about to ask.
"No, actually, I was wondering if...I could sleep with you?" she asked. "Just because it's so cold!" she added, desperately trying to keep the crimson staining her cheeks under control. Gourry blushed also, taken aback by this, but he smiled.
"Sure, Lina! But are you sure you want to, 'cause I don't want to do anything wrong and get 'fireballed' for it, you know!" he answered. She just rolled her eyes and smiled.
"Just...scoot over, you big dumb goof. I promise I won't burn you to a crisp, though that may be a welcome change from the cold..." she answered. He obliged, and she uneasily climbed into the bed, still wrapped in her blanket, and settled down, still shivering, with her back to Gourry. After a few silent minutes, Gourry sighed.
"Lina...you're still shivering, which means you're still cold," he pointed out.
"No kidding! At least this is better than bef-" she started, but a sneeze cut her off. Gourry rolled his eyes.
"I said I'm fine!" she protested. He gave up and settled down, with his back to Lina. A few more silent minutes of shivering went by, and Lina finally began to break down.
"Gourry?" she asked. No response. She twitched, turning to him, to find him asleep, also shivering. She glared.
"Gourryyy..." she growled. As if on cue, the blonde swordsman turned to face her in his sleep, and before she knew it, she was wrapped in his arms, pressed against his chest. Her skin now matched her eyes as her entire body seemed to blush. She started to struggle away, beat him into a pulp, or scream at him, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it.
'I'll just beat him up and yell at him in the morning,' she decided, and yawned. 'Gourry's not so bad, and, hey, it's warm...something about this just seems so...familiar though...'
Blackness. Darkness. That was all Lina could see, for miles and miles.
"You who stand before me, desiring destruction..."
'Wait...isn't that MY voice? No...it's different somehow...'
"It can't be...!"
'Hellmaster Phibrizzo? What's going on there? Where are they?' Lina could hear their voices clearly, but saw nothing but darkness on all sides.
"...my power shall destroy YOU!" Sounds of a battle suddenly flooded Lina's ears, a battle she had not witnessed but somehow knew she was involved in. "That won't work." The terrified scream of Hellmaster Phibrizzo only confused her more than she had been already.
"Wh-Who are you?" he asked.
"I am the mother of all darkness."
Lina's eyes widened in realization. Her own voice was speaking the words...
"I am the one who has dreamed for years uncounted of regaining my form. I am a darkness beyond deepest pitch...deeper than the deepest night. I am the Sea of Chaos. The source of all chaos. That is how you describe me...I am...the Lord of Nightmares."
Lina was not as shocked at the fact that the Lord of Nightmares was speaking through her voice as she was about the fact that this was beginning to seem like history repeating itself, a history she had never known about. Could this be the missing fragment of her memory where the battle with Hellmaster Phibrizzo was supposed to be? If this was truly what happened in that battle, then would she now finally find the answers she had been searching for in her inexistent memory for the past few months?
After the battle, she had been unsure of what to think. She knew that she had developed strong feelings for her jellyfish-brained, blonde-haired protector/mercenary/friend, especially when Phibrizzo kidnapped him. She had even gone so far as to, in essence, sacrifice the world in order to save him. However, when the final battle had ended and she returned to her world, she couldn't remember anything from after when she'd cast the Giga Slave, and apparently Gourry didn't remember much either. Nor did anyone else, having been imprisoned in crystals for a great deal of the battle. Not even the mysterious "priest" Xelloss had any idea of what had happened--not that he's been a big help with his protest of "sore wa himitsu desu" anyway, but still...she had no clues, no-one to ask, no nothing. It was as if she wasn't meant to know just what happened after she lost control of the Giga Slave. Her unsureness had caused her to withdraw from everyone, often breaking off from the group when they weren't watching to go off alone. She didn't even take her faithful companion Gourry with her, as he was the main source of her troubles in the first place. After a while, she decided to just act like nothing had happened: like they'd killed Gaav and that had been the end of it.
So why, now, was she being told what happened in the battle she couldn't remember?
"It...it can't be! The Giga Slave... That spell...It doesn't just call upon power from you?! This can't be... This can't be! I thought the spell only drew power from you! How can you possibly be here?!" Phibrizzo protested, truly afraid.
"My mind is my power. Power is my mind. When uncorrupted by other elements, my mind is my pure power."
'So the Giga Slave...is the Lord of Nightmares?'
Lina suddenly heard Phibrizzo laugh a bone-chilling, maniacal laugh. "I honestly never expected THIS to happen. After finally having my wishes so close to being fulfilled, to have this sudden reversal waiting for me at the end! My...my plan... To have this happen to it... All my calculations... My plan, with all my perfectly-set schemes...so close to it's fruition..."
Lina only listened intently as the Mazoku carried on insanely, while the Lord of Nightmares surely watched with uncaring eyes.
"So close to it's fruition..." another bout of maniacal laughter echoed from the boy, before he continued. "I want to be destroyed! I want to be destroyed... Destruction? Yes...destruction is the ultimate wish of any Monster. That's what we were created for...isn't it? Isn't it?! That's what we were created for...that's what YOU created us for! But this destruction shall consume all things! It shall consume the entire world!"
'Why isn't the Lord of Nightmares saying anything?' Lina thought.
"I understand now, Mother! That girl is too small a vessel for you! Too small!"
'HEY!! YOU LITTLE PUNK!! Don't YOU dare make fun of MY size!'
"That's why I have to destroy her! I'll free you! I'll set your power free! All the world! Let the world be destroyed with me!" Phibrizzo exclaimed. There was a sudden blast of energy, and then...silence. Overpowering silence.
The silence was broken by a terrified Phibrizzo.
"Only my mind exists in this place. You, who so desperately seeks destruction...as you wish, you shall be destroyed!"
Sudden screams of pain and terror from Phibrizzo made Lina jump, and left her to wonder just what the Lord of Nightmares was doing to him.
"What...what's going on?"
Lina gasped, truly surprised for the first time in a long time. That voice...it was Zelgadis!
'That must mean they've all returned to their bodies,' Lina reasoned. A sudden gasp from Sylphiel, Zelgadis and Amelia confirmed her suspicions, but she was truly unprepared for the next thing Zelgadis said.
Her heart leapt.
"Gourry-dear!" she heard Sylphiel say.
Sudden rabid growling sounds startled her as well as she was sure they startled the rest of her companions, now alive and well. But, as soon as the rabid growling sounds began, they were stopped.
"Phibrizzo..." Zelgadis said.
"He's gone!" Amelia added.
Phibrizzo had been defeated, everyone was alive...Gourry was alive...now what? This was the part of the story Lina could never figure out.
"Miss Lina...?" she heard Amelia ask.
"No. That is not Lina." came the familiar voice of Xelloss.
'Well well well! Looks like Xelloss did see the battle! That little sneak! 'Sore wa himitsu desu' my ass! I'll beat him into the ground next chance I get!'
"I saw all that has occurred here. That person is the source of all chaos. The Golden Lord," the purple-haired Mazoku continued.
"You mean, the Lord...?!" Zelgadis started.
"The Lord of Nightmares! Then Miss Lina cast the Giga Slave!" Sylphiel gasped.
"She said it herself. 'My power is my mind...' " Xelloss explained.
"Meaning the Giga Slave is the Lord of Nightmares herself?!" Zelgadis was quick to reply. "What about Lina? Where's Lina now?!"
"That's right! Where's Miss Lina?!" Amelia demanded. She received no audible reply from Xelloss, but Sylphiel gasped in shock a few seconds later. Lina swallowed.
"I appeared on this world because the one called Lina willed me to. She sacrificed all that she was...all to save that man's life. Gourry Gabriev," the Lord of Nightmares explained. "The wish that the girl named Lina sent me... Her honest thoughts, her pure heart...because of those thoughts, I am here now."
Hearing someone else say it made it sound kind of ridiculous to Lina. She would have laughed, but it somehow didn't feel appropriate. Ridiculous as it was, it was what she had wanted after all...
"She sacrificed all that she was...?" Amelia repeated, disbelief reeking from her words.
"Are you saying that's what Lina wanted?!" Zelgadis demanded, incredulously. Lina only listened, trembling at her friends' responses.
"The polar opposite of nothingness is existence. In other words, when a pure wish is made by existence to call forth oblivion, it must itself return to oblivion. I suppose that's to maintain balance." Xelloss explained.
"Then Miss Lina... What about Miss Lina?!" Sylphiel demanded.
"The chaos that exists within me...has consumed her."
Lina quivered at this.
"Is that where I am now? In the chaos?" she asked no-one in particular, trembling.
"Damn it all!" Zelgadis cursed.
"No!" Gourry suddenly shouted, causing her to jump. He had been silent all of this time, and now he chose to speak up. She swallowed a little, steadying herself. "It can't be true!"
"Gourry!" Zelgadis exclaimed, surprised. Apparently Lina wasn't the only one startled by this sudden outburst from the blonde-haired swordsman.
"I dunno what's going on here, but if Lina's disappeared, I want it all undone! I want it undone!" Gourry continued.
"That's right! What's the point of you saving all of us and Gourry if you aren't here anymore?!" Martina spoke up.
'Martina? Wasn't expecting that...'
"That's right! That's exactly right!" Zelgadis exclaimed.
"Lina! Wake up! LINA!!!" Gourry shouted.
'I wish I could...'
The sounds of rocks crumbling and howling wind suddenly surrounded her.
"LINA!!" Gourry shouted. "Wake up, Lina! You belong here, with me! Not inside that key-os!"
Lina suddenly found herself blushing.
'Stupid idiot Gourry can't even get romantic lines right...'
"I think he means 'not inside that CHAOS'." Zelgadis remarked. Gourry suddenly shouted her name again, and Lina got the feeling that something was happening, but she didn't know what from the sounds she was hearing.
"After him, Amelia!" Zelgadis suddenly exclaimed.
"Ray Wing!" Zelgadis and Amelia both shouted, followed by Sylphiel's startled "wait for me!"
'Since when can Gourry fly?' Lina thought, a bit sarcastically, to calm her nerves.
"You think I'm gonna let you take Lina like this? This time I'm gonna save you! I'M GOING TO SAVE YOU!!" Gourry shouted. His voice kept getting less and less faint than it was before, as if he was getting closer and closer to where she was...wherever she was. She heard the Sword of Light ignite and Gourry shouted angrily as he slashed through...something, Lina had no idea what.
'Curse this stupid never-ending blackness! Why can't I see anything?!'
She heard Zelgadis say something, or at least she thought she did, but couldn't be sure, as the howling of the wind was getting louder and louder.
"I won't let you go!" Gourry exclaimed, and there was suddenly a loud explosion. She heard Zelgadis shout something, and then he, Amelia and Sylphiel screamed for some reason, and the winds were no more. Everything was silent...
"LINA!!" Gourry called, breaking the silence. "Maybe you're stubborn and sort of perverse...maybe you trick people with your charm...maybe you look down on anyone who's weaker than you, but..."
'You got a point, there, Gourry?' Lina asked, glaring almost evilly in the direction she assumed Gourry was in, though his voice was coming from all directions in the darkness.
"But I...I need you!"
She hung there in the darkness, stunned. She surely couldn't have heard him right...right? He didn't just say...
Suddenly, there was a chuckle that echoed through her mind.
"Well, I don't suppose I have a choice." the voice said. It was the voice that was hers but wasn't hers. She gasped. "I thank you for letting me take your body. I am sorry...I thought you would be a suitable host, but I suppose I was wrong."
"LINA! DON'T LEAVE ME!!" Gourry shouted. She heard another strange laugh from the voice that was not hers.
"A suitable host...would not be needed by another being. A suitable host would have no strong ties to the world. You sacrificed all that you were...that sacrifice need not be in vain. You can have your body back."
Her vision was suddenly filled with gold, intensely, blindingly bright as opposed to the darkness that she had been surrounded with until now.
"Lina! Hey, Lina! Are you all right?" she suddenly heard, and she opened her eyes as she was begins shaken awake. She looked up, startled. There were tears in her eyes; she knew it, and tears running down her cheeks. She had been sleeping? That couldn't have been a dream!
"...Lina?" Gourry asked, a little warily. She suddenly remembered where she was. Sitting up, she realized that she had been crying for quite some time now, in her sleep apparently, because the cold hit her tear streaked cheeks and tear-stained shirt like a pillowcase full of bricks. (a/n: Yeah, a PILLOWCASE full of bricks. Don't...ask...) She looked over to see a very worried Gourry. He, of course, had good reason to be worried. Throughout all of their travels, she had only cried once, and that was the morning after Gourry had been first taken by Phibrizzo. He had never seen her cry, or even come close to crying, so of course he was worried, maybe even scared.
'Was that all really a dream? No way...that was too real. Either my memories came back to me, or I was shown those events for a reason,' she reasoned with herself.
"Lina?" Gourry asked again. She looked over at him, and suddenly couldn't stop the remaining tears in her eyes to slide down her cheeks, as she shivered. Gourry moved, hesitated, seeming to be deciding on something, then he wordlessly enveloped the small girl in a hug, hoping to comfort her in whatever way he could, but expecting her to shout "FIREBALL!!" at any given moment. She didn't.
'For some reason, this feels so familiar...'
In a flash, the rest of what happened in that sea of chaos returned to her, and she felt her cheeks heat up suddenly, the blush spreading to the rest of her face. Gourry felt her tense up, but before he could release her and run for cover from a most assured Dragon Slave, she pushed him away slightly, looking up at him, with apprehension at first, but there was something else in her eyes that he'd never seen. He didn't have long to contemplate this (with his limited capacity jellyfish brain), though, as she suddenly and unexpectedly rose up and kissed him, surprising him completely.
This time, Lina would remember. No matter what. She sent off a silent thank-you to the Lord of Nightmares, because somehow, Lina knew the Golden Lord, Mother of all Darkness, source of all chaos, was behind all of this.