Author's Note: A story taking place after Slayers Try. Note that I have not seen Slayers Revolution yet so there will not be any reference to it. The main pairing would be Zelgadis/Amelia with some Xellos/Filia later on. I'm going to try to hold myself to a concrete schedule when I update this, but we'll see how that goes :) By the way, I am aware of just how girly the title of this fic is, but it won out since the rest of my titles sounded more appropriate with "Scooby-doo and the" in front of them XD
It was a good-bye meal of sorts after the commotion that had been following them all this time. Well, not really. They wouldn't call it that. After all, Filia had already gone on her own way and Xellos had disappeared soon after that. Tomorrow Lina and Gourry would be going off on their own to find treasure, cause trouble, and eat up a storm across the land. Amelia would be heading back to Seyruun at sunrise as well. After all, princesses can't just go wandering all the time if they're responsible, she found herself thinking somewhat bitterly. And Zelgadis? Well, you can guess.
"Mister Zelgadis?" Amelia asked tentatively.
The dining room of the inn was fairly empty. The rowdier drinkers were fishing around in their pockets and making sheepish, slurred excuses about their "pants being in their other wallet" before readying to make their staggering way home. The bartender was idly cleaning a glass with a rag. It was more busy work to wait until closing time came then any kind of productive action.
Gourry and Lina had passed into gluttony-induced slumbers after their respective 22nd helping of chicken and 30th helping of lasagna and were currently drooling on the floor. Lina muttered something about not wanting any "lobster pudding" and Gourry something about "rats… always biting my face…", but otherwise the two were quiet.
Zelgadis and Amelia were still picking at the leftovers. Sometimes it's easier to get a real meal after Gourry and Lina have finally finished. There's less chance of losing a finger too.
Zelgadis looked up from the remains of a roasted lamb. "What?"
"I was just wondering," Amelia said, her eyes turned away, "If you'd given any more thought to the idea of coming back to Seyruun with me."
Zelgadis swallowed his food and deliberately put his knife and fork on the plate in front of him. "I have," he said. "Given it some thought, that is," he added to clarify.
Zelgadis sighed and leaned his chin against his hands. "Look, it's not that I don't want to go exactly," he said. "It's just that there are so many leads I've still got to follow. I know it might be a futile quest, and I don't expect you to understand, but it's important to me. So I just don't have time to go with you now. Maybe some other time."
There was a pause. Then Amelia said, "I understand."
Zelgadis had his doubts about that, but had the decency not to say so. He turned to see Amelia loosening one of the white-magic enforced bracelets she always wore. Before he could ask why she reached out, grabbed his hand, and placed the amulet in his palm. "Here."
Zelgadis looked at her quizzically and said, "…Why?" That seemed to about cover it.
Amelia shrugged as though she hadn't really thought out her odd gesture and didn't consider that to be any big deal. "I don't know," she said. "I guess so you won't forget about me when you're out traveling the world." By "traveling the world" she probably meant stealing grimoires, interrogating scholars, and knocking down temples.
Zelgadis looked away. For someone so eager to return himself to all things human, he wasn't so keen on showing human emotions. "Is this one of those 'friends in justice' things?" he asked, trying to recover himself.
Amelia smiled a little smile. "Something like that."
Chapter 1. The Return.
Zelgadis Greywords sat in the ruinous remains of an ancient temple in the midst of a staring contest with his canteen. There wasn't much else to do after all, since the texts that the temple held were completely useless. To be fair, they were quite useful if you wanted to say, conduct a festival to bring rain, or ward off lesser-demons, or even if you wanted to know what Ceipheed considered to be the only proper way to construct an alter to it. They were useless, though, if your goal was to change yourself back to your human form after some freaking red priest turned you into a stoney-faced chimera.
In any case, there was nowhere to go at the moment. A sandstorm of truly epic proportions was brewing outside, so leaving was out of the question. So, Zelgadis shook sand out of his cape for the seventy-fifth time in the last hour and continued to stare at his canteen.
"It's not like I've been avoiding it on purpose," he said to an audience of approximately no one. "There've just been so many other things to do."
The canteen and the object perched on top of it stared back at him in judgment.
"I don't need people who aren't involved in this getting in the way," he snapped back at the silent objects.
The canteen and the object perched on top of it considered this in an inanimate sort of way, but both seemed unmoved.
"I've-," Zelgadis began before suddenly stopping. He paused and shook his head. "I've got nowhere left to go and I'm talking to myself," he declared before picking up the object on top of his canteen gingerly. He held it warily and took a drink from his canteen.
The storm was raging now, he thought, but it'd be over soon. Sandstorms were common in this region and could be deadly if shelter wasn't found, but they didn't last.
He looked over the top of his canteen at Amelia's bracelet, still in his hand and couldn't help but smiling a little.
"Maybe I have been traveling alone for too long."
"I'm awake," Amelia mumbled groggily as she unstuck a treaty from her face and took her elbow out of the inkwell.
"Now you are," an aide agreed.
Amelia, still in a bit of a daze from her nap, attempted to wipe the ink off of her elbow with a newly proposed law before the aid deftly removed it from her possession.
She yawned and stretched. Sometimes being a princess was such boring work. It wasn't all justice and bravery, she reflected sadly. A very large amount of it was paperwork, and since Daddy was more of a bottom-line kind of person that meant she was stuck with a lot of the clerical duties. It was important work, she knew, but still…
She blinked and looked around. There was a great deal of shouting in the halls and rushing about of the castle guards. "What's going on?" she asked the aide.
"That's what I was trying to tell you," the aide said bad-temperedly. "Some weirdo is out there fighting the castle guards."
"What?!" Amelia shouted as she stood up, suddenly wide awake.
She tore down the passageway scattering proposals and treaties to the wind and leaving the unfortunate aide to clean up the mess. She stopped to catch her breath at the bottom of the stairs only for a moment and heard, in the outer courtyard, the clang of metal on metal.
She rushed out into the sunlight. The situation looked bad, but it could've been worse. About three guards were barely managing to hold back a swords stroke with a single spear, two having been knocked out of their reach. A few other guards were out of the action, but the good news was that they didn't seem to be badly hurt.
Amelia braced herself. If only the guards would get out of the way then she could get a clear shot at the assailant. With the element of surprise she was sure she could…
The guards were flung aside and onto the cobblestones where the worst injury that awaited them was a bruised tail-bone, which isn't fun, but isn't being skewered on a sword point either. Amelia began chanting as the white-clad fighter came into view.
Wait a minute…
"Flare Arrow!" Amelia shouted, redirecting the molten projectile up into the air at the last minute.
The man in white's gaze followed the spell. "Freeze Arrow!" he shouted, sending a bolt of ice straight for it.
The two spells met in the air with a crackle like fireworks and the hiss of steam as the flames were extinguished and a light patter of warm rain fell to the street below.
Amelia held up her hand until the drizzle stopped. "That was close," she said.
"You're telling me," agreed the man, walking forward.
"Well," Amelia said. "I didn't know it was you, Mister Zelgadis."
"I could tell by the way you almost shot me," Zelgadis said, lowering the scarf over his face.
Amelia smiled and there was a glimmer in her eyes. After all, she appreciated a dramatic entrance more than anyone. "It's really nice to see you again."
Zelgadis said nothing, but wished he'd left on the scarf. You'd think that a trade-off for having a stone face would be losing the ability to blush, but no, there can't even be small favors. He rummaged in his pocket and muttered something. He took out the object he was looking for and tossed it in her direction.
She caught it in both hands and looked down at it. "This…"
"Your bracelet," he said.
She grinned broadly and threw it back to him. She held up her arm displaying her left wrist. "It's alright. I've got a new one."
Zelgadis was busy giving her a "and what do you expect me to do with this?" look when the thundering of footsteps attracted their gaze toward the entryway.
"Back villain!" Phil shouted as he burst through the scenery lobbing the helmet of a fallen guard blindly ahead of him. Crash! He paused as adrenaline released his hold. "Oh, it's you," he smiled and looked sheepish. "Sorry about that!"
"I guess I should be used to that by now," Zelgadis said, eyeing the battered helmet wedged two inches deep into the cement wall where his head was just a second ago. He gave the helmet an experimental tug and… nope, wall and helmet will never be torn asunder. You had to hand it to Phil, the man was good.
Phil's smile faded a fraction as he noted his hopelessly defeated personnel. "Not to be pushy or anything," he began in his usual gruff but friendly voice, "but why did you pick a fight with my guards?"
"Hey, that's right," Amelia said as though this had just occurred to her. Which it had.
"I didn't pick a fight with them. They attacked me." Zelgadis, never being one to shy away from playing the chimera card, added, "I guess my appearance put them off."
"Oh!" Amelia said indignantly before leaning toward the nearest guard. "How many times have I told you guys never to judge people by appearances?!"
"He… can't hear you, Amelia," Zel said, giving the unconscious soldier a sidelong glance. Even if those guys had attacked him, being knocked cold should excuse you from having to hear any justice-based lectures.
"Well," Amelia said, straightening up, fists clenched. "Be sure we'll have a word with them about this when they've regained consciousness."
"Good to know," Zelgadis said indifferently.
It was then that Zelgadis noticed the crowd that had gathered to watch the fight. The people of Seyruun have perhaps a greater appreciation for "street theater" then those of any other city due to the, uh, interesting behavioral patterns of the royal family. There'd usually be some good entertainment to be had outside the palace. He put his hood back up.
"We should probably get inside," Amelia said, looking from the crowd to Zelgadis with an apprehensive expression on her face.
"I won't argue with that," Zelgadis said quietly.
Phil waved to his people energetically as his daughter and the hooded man made their way inside the castle gates. "Nothing to see here, good people. Just a misunderstanding."
The crowd looked questioningly from Phil to the out-cold guards and back to Phil.
"A violent misunderstanding."
"You haven't asked me why I came here yet," Zelgadis noted as he and Amelia strolled through the peaceful courtyard. He looked around uneasily, hoping that no one was gawking at him. He always felt apprehensive in big cities and the castle itself was full to the brim with the benevolently curious. He didn't really buy Amelia's idea that, "Maybe they're just looking at someone behind you", but you never knew. Luckily the place seemed fairly deserted today. He guessed that the castle's occupants might have something better to do with their time than studying their strange guest… something like running a kingdom. Amelia didn't seem to be as busy as a princess ought to be considering the royal task he was following her on was basically inventorying the garden.
"Well, no," Amelia said, reaching one of the many bird-feeders that decorated the landscape and checking the seed level. She didn't say anything else.
This response seemed somewhat off to Zelgadis. "What? Do you not want to know?" he asked incredulously.
"It's not that," Amelia said, making a mark in her notepad as they made their way to the next marble feeder. "It's just… well…" She seemed to be having difficulty describing just what it was.
She twisted her face toward him and adopted a watchful, uncertain expression. "It's just that, y'know, I mean, I know you're here for a reason. But I was thinking that I shouldn't assume you do. You don't have to have a reason to come here. So I thought I'd just… act like you were only visiting until you brought it up," she finished somewhat meekly.
Zelgadis considered this doubtfully. Going to the trouble to travel somewhere all for the purposes of shooting the breeze seemed a little bit stupid and, in any case, just wasn't his style. No, he was the type to have a goal in mind and get straight to the point. All the niceties of such social calls seemed like such a waste of time.
On the other hand, though, isn't that what he'd done the last two days? It's one thing to wait until after supper to blurt out the reasons for your presence, but two days? He'd had plenty of time to bring it up but kept letting the opportunities pass him by. After all, it had been… well, nice not to worry about things like infiltrating cults or getting buried alive under ruins for a little while.
"So, why did you come here then?" Amelia asked, knowing which way the winds were blowing.
Zelgadis looked down at the ground. When it came down to it, it was hard to say that… "Unfortunately it seems that, I'm just out of ideas and out of leads." And out of money, he added silently to himself. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to just give up, but I thought I could come here to figure out what to do next."
Amelia nodded, her eyes cast determinedly on the ground. "Of course." When she looked up her eyes were blazing and her fists were clenched. "And I'll do everything I can to help."
Zelgadis sighed and resisted the urge to either roll his eyes or bury his head in his hands at Amelia's typical, poorly thought-out exuberance. "Now look," he began. "As I've told you so many times before this is my—"
"Hold that thought," Amelia said, halting and stretching her arm out in front of him.
"What?" Zelgadis asked, looking at her irritably. She nodded at the path in front of them. He turned his gaze and found a new question to ask. "What the heck is that?"
"It's the last bird feeder," she said simply.
"But that thing's got to be fifteen feet!" he said, looking up at the marble monstrosity. It was big, it was tall, and it wasn't as covered in bird crap as you might think. It was clearly well maintained and expensive. Friezes of birds of all sizes from hummingbirds to eagles decorated the sides of it and the basin on top which presumably held the bird food was carved to look just like a dragon's mouth. Zelgadis found himself thinking that if he were a bird he'd do his best to avoid that particular "restaurant".
"It's the biggest bird feeder in Seyruun," Amelia said, with civic pride shining in her eyes. "It's mainly for the Vlatian condor, since they fly over here during their migration."
"…And the dragon?" Zelgadis asked with eyebrows raised.
"Oh, that's just decoration," Amelia laughed. "I don't think anyone actually expects a dragon to use it. I guess it is a little extreme though."
"No kidding. What's the bird seed? Rats?" Zelgadis asked jokingly.
"Well," Amelia said, squaring up to do the job at hand. "I better go check on those mice then. See if they need anymore food."
"Hang on," Zelgadis said. "Why do you care if the mice you're just going to feed to the giant birds of prey have food?"
"The condors like live mice," Amelia said, not a little bit uneasy with the notion.
"Of course," Zelgadis said mockingly. "Why didn't I think of that?"
"I better get going then," Amelia said, striding up to the monument. "Here I go." She gripped the edge of a carving of a goose leisurely crossing a busy street and lifted herself up.
Zelgadis watched with slight amusement as Amelia climbed her way up the giant statue. "Couldn't you just use levitation?" he asked perplexedly.
"But I like climbing," Amelia said in a tired but cheerful voice from half-way up.
This time Zelgadis did roll his eyes. Of course Amelia liked climbing and high places and things like that. Back when they were traveling with Lina and Gourry It seemed like every time you turned your back she had climbed a tree and started off a justice speech. Maybe it was because she liked being a booming voice from heaven or maybe idiots really do like high places. Maybe both.
"I hope you like falling too. You're gonna break your neck one of these days."
Amelia laughed, but either Zelgadis's words rung prophetic or had just messed up her concentration, but the next words out of her mouth were "Whoops" as her fingers slipped on a particularly vicious looking relief of an ostrich followed by a scream as she hurtled back toward the ground.
"Amelia!" Zelgadis shouted as he ran toward the base of the bird feeder, arms outstretched and… thlump. Caught her.
"Ow," she said, more out of surprise than pain.
"Ow is right," Zelgadis said irritably. "Next time just use levitation!"
"Sorry," she said, looking up at him in a way that was making him uncomfortable that he was still holding onto her.
Their gazes were broken by heavy footsteps approaching them from the path behind. "Amelia!" a gruff, but familiar voice called. "Have you seen where I put that speech I was writing about the…" Phil stopped short as he reached them.
"Hi Daddy!" Amelia said with her usual smile and wave. Zelgadis abruptly helped her back onto the ground where she belonged.
Phil was quiet and looked miles away. Amelia kept smiling her determined smile and Zelgadis just as determinedly look at the ground. The only sound in the courtyard was the squeaking of mice some fifteen feet above them.
"You were looking for something?" Amelia cued in helpfully.
Phil appeared to come back to reality. "No, it's nothing. What are you doing out here anyway? I thought Marcus was doing inventory this week."
"He was, but I thought I'd show Mister Zelgadis the grounds so I offered to do it."
"I see," the crown-prince murmured thoughtfully. "That reminds me," Phil said, turning to Zelgadis and grabbing his elbow in his meaty paw. "I've got to talk to you about something." He began leading Zelgadis off before he had the chance to protest.
"Is there something wrong, Daddy?" Amelia asked worriedly, jogging to keep up with them.
"It's nothing, Amelia," Phil said with a fake smile plastered on his face. "You go on, we'll see you at dinner."