Ashes to Ashes

Rating: T

Author's Note: Heeeeey. Yeah, I know. Apparently changing my email address and not updating my account was a bad idea. Also, life is crazy. But here we are. I'm reposting this story (because there were about a billion typos that need to be corrected), and I plan to continue with it. It's been a while, though, so we'll see how it goes. Thanks for reading, guys.

Summary: "There was no way the age of magic would last forever." Xellos/Lina

Prologue


When he had last seen her, he knew that her time was nearly over.

Sharp foresight is an occupational hazard of being a high-level mazoku.

At the time, the grim premonition that emanated from her did not bother him. He saw no problem for himself connected to her fate.

Blindness to the interconnectedness one's own life to that of another is a hazard of being a living being of any sort.

She had always been perceptive, herself; he suspected that she probably had as much of an idea of her fate as he did—possibly more, though he didn't care to determine if that was the case. Her parting words to him had been cryptic, uncharacteristically dark and foreboding.

"Do you think you'll miss this world when it ends?"

She didn't wait for his answer.

"I will. But time moves on, I guess."

On some level, he must have understood her meaning, but at the time, it didn't seem terribly important.

Now, as he stood, watching witch hunters burning down the shrines and libraries of Atlas City, it was clear.

The time of worldwide acceptance of magic was drawing to a sudden and violent close. All it took was one sorcerer misfiring a spell—the accidental death of a noblewoman. The world was suddenly full of anti-magic vigilantes. Practitioners of the art were being systematically sought out and murdered.

And even the great Lina Inverse was unable to avoid the inevitable.

The mazoku race had been able to carelessly dismiss the havoc until the news of the infamous redhead's death reached them.

Lina had done a great deal of good in her lifetime. True, most of it was unintentional, but even so many owed her their lives. She had made enemies, there was no denying that, but most of them were supernatural, and that she could deal with.

Innocent people calling for her blood was another matter entirely.

Lina had gone surprisingly quietly—despite her abrasive nature, she didn't enjoy harming innocent people. He assumed that was why she didn't fight back.

The more he thought on it, though, the more he was convinced that she had seen her demise and thought it unwise to fight fate.

None of that really mattered at this point. After Lina was killed, the mazoku race was forced to become more discreet with their workings. True, it took magic to kill them, but that didn't mean that anti-magic sentiment wouldn't cause a problem for them. What was worse was that the stories of the Gods and the dragons and the mazoku were no longer being told. It's difficult to intimidate and manipulate people who believe that you're only a figment of their imagination.

It had taken years to come to this point. Thousands of sorcerers had died, and the world was all but purged of those who practiced magic. At least, those who practiced in public. Atlas City was the last safe haven for sorcerers.

At least, until now.

From his vantage point on a hilltop just outside the city, he had a good view of the carnage ensuing. Lina's words tumbled around in his mind.

"Do you think you'll miss this world when it ends?"

"It couldn't last forever," he mumbled to himself.

"That's true," a voice from behind him said nonchalantly.

The appearance of the Beastmaster was no shock to him. He turned his back on the destruction and faced her.

"What are we to do now?" he asked.

Zelas didn't respond immediately. Her eyes fell on the scene in the fast burning Atlas City; she studied it for a moment.

"It's best for us to just… disappear for a while," the Beastmaster said slowly. "There's nothing we can do as long as humans are denying the existence of magic."

"That makes sense," he said quietly.

"We'll wait until the world is willing to accept magic again," Zelas continued. "Then we'll come back. Start over."

He was silent.

Zelas smiled. "It won't take as long as you think. Maybe a thousand years at the most."

"We just wait?"

"Yes."

He turned his eyes back to the city—or what was left of it. "It's a shame, really," he said thoughtfully. "This age had such talent in it."

"Well, the greats will return," Zelas said confidently.

"Really?"

"Of course, Xellos," Zelas laughed. "And you'll be the one to greet them."

The Beastmaster placed a cool hand on her servant's forehead.

And that was the last thing Xellos remembered for a very long time.


End Prologue