Author Notes: Sheesh, it took me long just to finally write this chapter. I'm surprised I got this chapter out. This chapter is dedicated to AsheRhyder and Za - Metallium because had I not gotten the weird urge to read slayers fiction (namely theirs) I wouldn't have been so damn well motivated into writing this chapter. And to ShadowDancer, my Onee-Chan. Because I love you.
'It's never 'just the wind'.'
What Rezo managed to find her wasn't a hot springs. Or even a small lake. It was a river. A cold river. And one weak fireball to the river let her know that as still as it looked... it was moving. What a waste of magic. Lina shivered in the night air. She stank from the fight she'd had, her body was aching like a beaten muscle... and she was going to lose the rest of her powers. If it wasn't one thing removing her of her abilities, it was another.
Stripping down to her bare skin she left boots and weapons behind her and took her clothing into the water. She let a squeal as the cool liquid surged against her skin. Oh lord it was cold! Her skin was all goose bumps and she had half a mind to return to the camp smelling of sweat and dust. She reached a nice sized rock, placed her clothes on it and began washing her shirt. The water was knee level and she shivered. The task took her several minutes cleaning her clothes and several times she caught herself looking up into the trees around her, feeling as if she were being watched.
She had a real good second sense about being watched or in trouble. She didn't feel like she was in danger... but something was watching her... Rezo was blind and she doubted he'd be that rude. Would Zel? No of course not, he was too shy. And she'd kill him if she discovered he was a voyeur.
Twenty minutes of paranoia later she put all her wet clothes in a nice pile and realized she had cleaned everything, leaving herself nothing dry to wear. Not even her cape. She cursed and stormed in deeper to the water. This just WASN'T her day. Taking a deep breath she dived into the water in one shot. Only to emerge from the water with a screech her arms wrapped tightly around her body.
"Mother of Chaos that's cold!" she grabbed the bar of soap that she'd used to clean her clothing and scrubbed her body down quickly. Giving her hair the most basic of washes she finally crawled her way out of the water, shivering and slipping to the shore. Her teeth chattered together and she grabbed her newly cleaned (and cold) cape and wrapped it around her body. With that done she went about the cheersome task of wringing out her clothing.
Xellos watched all this with a quiet amusement. So this was the girl that Rezo had saved. It was little wonder the boy at the inn had been quite taken with her. There weren't many girls around the area with hair the color of fire. It literally was an array of gold, orange, and red strands that when the light hit it, it rippled in a perfect imitation of a flame. Lithe, and not unattractive. And quite amusing. The one bit of magic she displayed while weak, gave away it's mark.
She was the one. She had cause the astral disturbance. Now to see what she would do. His orders were to be discreet. To watch. To see if she tried doing something that might be overly intrusive to Mazoku plans. His mistress didn't care about the humans... only that the Mazoku's plans weren't interfered with.
Done with wringing out her clothes she toddled off in the direction of the camp where Rezo and the violet haired boy had been. She cursed when she stepped on a plant or a sharp rock, or when her clothing was snagged, but otherwise she stayed silent.
"Rezo-" Lina saw both men turn. Zelgadis turned beat red and Rezo raised an eyebrow, "Can you please cast a spell to dry my clothes?"
Rezo held out his hands and she handed the damp clothes to him, grateful he hadn't asked why she needed him to dry her clothes. He probably had assumed that maybe she just didn't know how, and deep down, Lina wanted to let him know that she knew how (because she wasn't an idiot) but if she did... her pride would take a blow.
"Did you enjoy your swim?" Rezo asked after several minutes of tense silence.
"It was fit for a cleansing ritual." Lina grabbed her dry clothes and went behind a tree surrounded by shrubbery to change. She was rather happy that Melandy Greywers had replaced her magenta outfit with another traveling one. Her magenta outfit, which had been covered in food sauces and burns had been replaced with dark green doe skin pants, which clung to her lower body like a second skin. Her shirt was a pale green and was cinched at her waist by her belt, the rest of the shirt flowing over and around her hips. The sleeves were long but fit her arms snugly at the elbow and wrist. It wasn't as flashy as her old outfit, but it complimented her better and wouldn't gain as many insults as her other one had.
She hoped into her dark brown boots and slipped her violet gloves into her back pocket. She'd have to buy matching gloves later, for the time being her vanity could suffer the breakage of color scheme. She stepped back into the little campfire circle and hung her cloak on a branch to air dry.
"So what we eating?" she asked, her tummy following her question in a rumble.
"I made a stew of our jerky and dried vegetables." Zelgadis replied stirring said concoction.
"Will it be ready soon?" she opened her bag and pulled out her demon blood talismans and secured the first one on her belt. Wearing the talisman's gave her a feeling of security. Because even drained of all magic, they gave her some way of tapping into at least a little of it. Even if they belonged to Xellos. Twisted but true. She clipped the second one to her throat and Rezo glanced at her.
Rezo sensed... something.
From her. From around them.
Xellos' amethyst eyes opened. What did that girl pull out of her bag?
He glanced down at his own wrists... his waist. Then back to her. She finished donning her talismans... and Xellos for the first time in his long life felt a sliver of fear run through him.
How had that girl— gained those items? Nothing save death could ever part him from his talismans. They were priceless. Literally. A gift from- - How?
She... couldn't have killed him and taken them- could she?
It didn't feel as if she had that kind of power. Her magical reserves were so low she shouldn't even be able to cast a light spell. But...
He didn't like what this implied at all.
How had she gotten those talismans?
"Miss Lina, what are those that you put on?" Rezo asked cordially.
"Oh... they're my talismans." she finished closing the last talisman, locking it in place to her wrist. "Why?"
Rezo debated whether he should say anything. Really, it wasn't any of his business and he doubted that such items would have any impact at all with what they had to do. He decided to leave it be. "Oh, nothing. Miss Lina, I have been trying to think of a way to help you... and I think, that we shouldn't go directly to Sairaag. I belive we should go to someone who would know more about this magic, than you or I. I believe we should go to the dragons."
Lina's ruby colored eyes widened. "The wha-?"
"There is a legend that within the Kattart Mountains is a fountain of knowledge, that only the dragons can reach. Something not many wizards know about. The Claire Bible, have you heard of it?"
Lina nodded hesitantly. "D-do you mean the one that only the dragons themselves can reach?"
"You know the tales than. Yes, that is the one I speak of. The memories of the Water Dragon King may just hold the answer you are searching for. A way to destroy the books, yet go back to your time and not cause a sort of... paradox. To just be able to return and ensure your friends are not dead because of the book."
Lina gave a very small smile, "And you think that Auntie- - er, that the Water Dragon King just might have the answers?"
"Yes, I do. More answers than I could give you. If anyone can help you, it's them."
Lina went silent for a moment than shook her head, "I'm not sure that this is gonna work. The last time I went up there, the only reason the dragons let me into their valley was because they were being threatened. And it wasn't me they were afraid of. In fact they were pretty insulted that they were being told to show it to a 'mere human'." she smiled, but it wasn't a happy smile. It was cynical.
Xellos really didn't like what he was hearing. The dragons let her see the Claire Bible? She'd been shown the holiest of all items (to the dragons) and she barely had enough power to cast a lighting? She had HIS talismans on her body- -
She wasn't as powerless as he thought she was. It was as simple as that.
There was no other way for it.
But who could have threatened the dragons? Those sticklers barely listened to HIM... and he was the 'Bringer of Doom'. No other Mazoku had influence on them the way he did. Well... he was fairly sure the five Demon Lords wouldn't have too much trouble getting them to bend. But he was getting off track.
She wanted to destroy the books? Well, that just might be a bright idea. But he'd have to clear it with his mistress. If she said the books mustn't be destroyed, than Xellos would ensure that they weren't.
If she wanted to go home and supposedly leave things as unchanged as possible... than that was fine. So long as he wasn't ordered to kill her.
But while they were on the road Xellos would have to find the location of the other book in Sairaag and read it. He needed to know what the girl knew. And he could than tell Zellas, who with better information, would adjust her orders for what would be best.
"It is true, the dragons guard their treasures fiercely, but I am friends with them. I saved a childling from harm. Some rather nasty bandits were about to try and cook themselves a dinner... the childling had managed to fly... well, glide off from the safety of the valley. It was the first time in their history that a dragon that young had ever gotten past the protection of their parents or the watchers. But because of it, it allowed me a chance to befriend them. One in particular, in fact, should I explain how dire the situation is, hopefully will allow you the chance to speak with the Claire Bible. I have never been allowed near it, despite how I've tried, my blindness does not seem to come into a great enough importance factor for them to allow me to use it."
Rezo's voice held bitterness, and near worry.
Lina lowered her gaze back down to the fire.
"Rezo..." she bit her lip. This wasn't her place. It really wasn't. It wasn't her business. "You're blindness- -"
Rezo lifted his head up to 'look' at her. "What?" his voice was slightly tinged with suspicion.
"You've tried so many ways to open your eyes... have you ever thought that perhaps there has been a reason for why you've been unable to open them?" she kept her gaze firmly on Rezo and watched as he went from surprise, to anger, to indecision.
Xellos watched them, as ever, in interest.
"What reason could there be from robbing a man from the gift of being able to see?" his voice was even and controlled. Meaning he was upset.
Lina wanted to tell him. Outright. But...
"I'm not quite sure I can say... But maybe you should look up for other people who've been blind and unable to cure their blindness. Look up what they did, how they lived, what type of people they were. How powerful they were. Things like that. And maybe see if there's a common thread. Especially if they started acting odd towards the end of their lives."
There, she'd done the best she could. Without outright saying, 'Well see, if you really unseal your eyes you're not only going to die, but you're going to unleash the Dark Lord Shabranigdo upon the world...' He might not take that too well.
What the girl was saying was quite interesting. If Xellos didn't know any better, he might have sworn the girl knew something. Xellos wasn't sure when the girl came from... but the only way she could have known that Rezo held a piece of Shabranigdo within him (assuming she knew at all) would mean she was more than likely from the future. But she wasn't outright telling him anything. Which could mean she knew, or just was suspicious by nature of his inability to heal his eyesight. But Xellos was fairly sure it was the former. So not telling Rezo would win brownie points so to speak, with Zellas and the others... Possibly.
This just might require interaction.
And if Xellos showed up, and she showed a reaction... a specifically odd one... well than, he would know for sure something was up and that he'd have to step up things. To a level he didn't all too often ever have to reach. Not when it concerned humans. Furthermore, Xellos was all too curious as to who Rezo would be asking the favor of.
Rezo instead of instantly dismissing her suggestion took it into serious consideration. But sighed, "Miss Lina, I have been searching for many decades... and I have heard of many people with blindness... one or two were unable to cure their eyes, but I assumed it was because the healing magic's are more advanced now. I can look into what you suggest. But I hope for nothing anymore." he sighed and shook his head.
Lina was once more struck with the thought that the Rezo of now was so much more different than the Rezo she had met. She was glad that she could prove it now without a doubt. He HAD been a good man. But by the time she would see him, he'd be on his last thread of sanity...
She smiled lightly, "You really are a good man Rezo."
Xellos watched them the rest of the night.
1) Masaka - Impossible