Disclaimer: Slayers doesn't belong to me, but to Hajime Kanzaka, Rui Araizumi and the companies that represent them. I'm just borrowing them for awhile.

Spoiler Alert: This fic begins during episode 12 of Slayers Evolution-R and continues through the end of the series. It will contain major spoilers for the entire series, and is my interpretation of what an epilogue could be like for this series.

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Prologue: The Land of Confusion

I won't be coming home tonight.
My generation will put it right.
We're not just making promises,
That we know, we'll never keep.
- "The Land of Confusion": Genesis, 1986

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Kingdom of Taforashia - Two hours before the battle between Lina Inverse and Rezo the Red Priest

Gourry Gabriev wasn't known for his brains - even he knew that fact. Magic, history, books … he left those things to Lina Inverse. That was her world, and he was happy enough playing the role of bodyguard and sometimes baby-sitter to not worry too much about it. Lina could chatter for hours on end about obscure artifacts and spells; and while he always fell asleep, he was content just listening to the animated sound of her voice.

He was known for his swordsmanship. Lina had said on more than one occasion that she could only think of one better swordsman than he, and he took that as a serious complement - a far better one than that Gioconda woman was making in trying to entice him to become her fifth husband. That'd been more than a little creepy.

Gourry was also know for his intuition, that nagging feeling in the back of his mind that told him that everything wasn't okay despite the celebrations going on in Taforashia. He stood on the balcony while the feast the king of Taforashia sent up to the group was being laid out. He watched as people danced in the streets below, hugged each other fiercely, and cried over the lost of loved ones. It's not over yet, he thought and prayed to whatever deities there were that he was wrong.

In any case, he'd better be prepared. Gourry turned just in time to see Pokota bound out the double doors and onto the stone ledge. The small creature's chest puffed out with pride, even though the look in the his eyes was a mixture of pride over his people and sadness over the fact that he couldn't join them.

Gourry leaned on the ledge, a smile tugging at his lips. "They look so happy," he observed.

"Yeah," Pokota said with a nod. "I don't think it's hit just how much out of time we are. The world … technology, politics, everything … it's a good decade ahead of where we are now."

"But you don't think of things like that." Gourry tilted his head toward the rising moon, and enjoyed the light breeze on his face. "You're just happy to be alive. It'll be rough, but in about nine to ten months, there'll be signs of the kingdom moving forward."

Pokota's brow furrowed. "Why nine to ten months?"

Gourry chuckled a bit. In his days as a mercenary, he'd seen war-torn countries with people grateful to be alive and the results of those celebrations of life nearly a year later. "It's nothing," he replied and changed the subject. "Say, do you mind if I borrowed the replica from you?"

"Hmm? The Sword of Light?" Pokota took the sword hilt out of its storage space and handed it to Gourry. "Sure. I don't really need it any more. I've done what I set out to do."

"Thanks." Gourry took it and noticed, not for the first time, that it just didn't feel quite right. He stared at the hilt in his hand. It's only a copy, he thought before closing his fingers over it, then tucked it away in his belt just out of view. If this uneasy feeling didn't pan out, he didn't want to keep it. He'd return it to Pokota before he and Lina left Taforashia.

"Hey, you never told me what happened to the original," Pokota realized. He faced Gourry. "Lina said you were the Swordsman of Light and it's true. You handle the replica better than any of us, like you were born to do so. How was the original Sword of Light lost?"

Gourry's gut churned uncomfortably, but he didn't dare let Pokota see that. Instead, he smiled. "It's a long story."

"Yeah, but …"

"Hey, food's ready!" Lina bounced onto the balcony and grabbed Gourry's arm, hauling him back into the room where Amelia and Zelgadiss were quickly trying to load their own plates before Hurricanes Lina and Gourry hit. "If you don't get your share, I'm eating all this myself!"

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Kingdom of Taforashia - 30 minutes before the battle between Lina Inverse and Rezo the Red Priest

In the middle of eating a most excellent side of marbled beef, Lina tossed down a bone and stood, stretching. She glanced at Pokota, Amelia, and Zelgadiss watching the celebrations from the balcony and make her decision. "I'm hitting the washroom," she informed Gourry, "then let's take a walk."

"Okay." Grabbing one last piece of meat, Gourry abandoned his own plate. They took turns in the washroom, Lina being very good and only nibbling at Gourry's food while she waited on him, then headed out into the city.

Lina also had keen intuition. Something about this entire set up never felt right to her, not from the moment she'd heard that Rezo's soul had been sealed inside the jar. Rezo had spoken like he knew the events of the battle against Shabranigdu, though there should be no way possible the soul should know that. According to what Pokota and Wizer had told them before the fight with Zanaffar, Rezo's experiment with Taforashia had taken place more than ten years earlier. Lina had been barely 10 years old at the time, and hadn't even begun the experiments that led to the creation of the Giga Slave much less started down the route that eventually led her to Rezo the first time.

Which means, she thought as she and Gourry made their way toward the spot where Rezo had been resurrected, that the rest of Rezo's soul had rejoined the portion in the jar after that particular battle. And if that piece had done so, then could it also mean … the thought made Lina's blood run cold. If Rezo had what she thought he had done, there was a very good possibility that none of them would survive the night. She considered her options and they were quite few. There was no way to do Fusion Magic, not without Filia there to control the Holy Magic needed. Amelia didn't know it, and Lina didn't want her, Zelgadiss, or Pokota involved. They'd been through enough.

And Gourry …

"Say, why don't you go back? I think the dessert tray's probably out," she blurted out.

Gourry rolled his eyes. "That's a pathetic one."

Lina glared at him. "What does that mean?"

He nudged her side and ruffled her hair fondly. "You're thinking of a way to protect me from whatever it is that's scaring you at the moment. I'm your bodyguard. I'm not letting you go face whatever it is that has you so worried by yourself." He smiled softly at her, not wanting to bother her with his own sense of uneasiness twisting in his gut.

"It's probably nothing," Lina lied with a dismissive wave of her hand. "I just want to have a chat with Rezo, clear some things up before we leave Taforashia." But she allowed the other hand to slip into Gourry's. For the first time that night, Lina was at peace with whatever lay ahead of them. If her hunches were right and she had to make a terrible decision once more, this time she wouldn't be alone.