I don't own Slayers. Never will. Wish I did. Kind of a drama fic.
"An Invitation?! The Unexpected Duo!"
There was definitely something strange; no doubt about it. Zangulus was not exactly sure how he was supposed to react to it. The immediate reaction was to scream his head off and pass out, but of course his attitude was way too cool for that, besides the fact that Martina was watching. Of course, a look of horror was on his face at the time.
Zangulus thought it definitely odd. He did not normally receive letters. Well, sure, a lot of things changed since he became king like making sure everyone was healthy, make sure Martina got what she wanted (and that meant EVERYTHING), and praise Zoamelgustar about every ten minutes. Getting a letter was not usually on the list.
Especially letters from his dead mother.
Which is why, you understand, Zangulus wanted to scream.
It could have been fake, one may say. However, the handwriting was exactly as he remembered. Her full name was correct, and the letter knew his full name (which very few people knew indeed). Either he had a stalker doing a very sick joke, or...
Zangulus hated to think that it was his mother. He knew that she died; he was there, for Cephied's sake. She died of a horrifying illness that had swiftly taken over the village; Zangulus was one of the few who did not catch the disease, thankfully. Now, just out of the blue, she was back? Insanity. Absolute insanity.
The letter was written as so:
It has been a long while, hasn't it? Over ten years since I last
laid my eyes on you. I have to say that I'm very disappointed in the profession
that you had chosen in the time I have been gone, but eventually you have
become a king. King Zangulus Montoya of Xoana.
At any rate, I still love my dear son. If you haven't been busy with royal duties (these days it seems like kings couldn't care less about such things, as evidenced by the actions of the ruler of Seyruun) I would very much like to meet you again. Please meet me as soon as you can in Zefilia at your favorite spot.
With much love,
Katherine Montoya, your mother"
Common sense told Zangulus that it was definitely a trap for some reason, but it was an offer that he could not resist. If it was someone tricking him, he would kick their ass. Simple as that.
But if it was his mother...
Perish the thought! People did not just come back from the dead, unless it was at the hands of Hellmaster Phibrizzo who regenerated the entire city of Sairaag, although he was also dead so there was no way that this was possible at all.
So, Zangulus had told Martina that he had business to take care of and that he would be back as soon as possible. And he had to promise to write letters twice a week. And to bring back a souvenir.
With the Howling Sword at his side, a floppy hat on his head, and an abundance determination, Zangulus set off.
Then it rained.
"Damn it. I swear, when I find who the hell wrote this letter, they're going to die VERY slowly," Zangulus growled, plodding through the mud on the road. Occasionally, he stepped under a tree to wring his hat of its soaking-ness.
As Zangulus pleasantly thought of the multiple ways to murder a person in the most painful way possible, he began to see a small town in the distance. Breathing a sigh of almost-relief (for he could not quite yet destroy his cool exterior) he started to move a little faster toward the village, trying to ignore his mud caked and wet boots.
It was not a very exciting village. Just one of those random ones that do have a name but no one cares to know. Zangulus was not disappointed, just so long as he had a roof over his head.
He plodded into the inn tiredly and eyed coldly at the innkeeper, ordering a room and a hard drink as it tended to help him think of more bitter things to do about people who pretend to be your dead mother.
Just as he was about to sit down, Zangulus heard a familiar sickeningly gentle voice call out to him curiously over the mumbled conversations scattered across the inn area. "Mr. Zangulus?"
The former bounty hunter eyed the shrine maiden Sylphiel Nels Lahda, raising a brow at her. "What're you doing out here?"
She looked very uncomfortable at that question. "I was wondering the same about you. Where is Mrs. Martina?"
"Back at the building site in Xoana," Zangulus replied.
Seeing it only fair to answer his question, especially since he had asked his first, Sylphiel said, "I've been hearing some horrible rumors about Rahns."
He blinked in recognition. "Rahns?"
The priestess nodded, "Right. Um... if you're that curious, we'd best sit somewhere to discuss it, Mr. Zangulus."
Zangulus was, like any other "Mr. Mysterious-And-Cool-Swordsman," not much for hanging around in groups more than one person. However, to get to Zefilia he might have to go through Rahns, so he was all for listening in on the most recent gossip.
"All right, fine," Zangulus rather reluctantly agreed.
As the two headed for a table, a hooded man took in a long sip of his tea. He eyed the duo carefully, saying nothing as all "Mr. I'm-Probably-A-Plotpoint" people did who were extra mysterious and/or evil.
Zangulus occasionally sipped his ale, which he wished he drank more of to try to ignore all this madness. Sylphiel had taken tea, since she, like any pure maiden, refused any alcohol.
And so Sylphiel began her exposition.
"It seems like any living soul in Rahns has completely vanished," Sylphiel began. Zangulus winced; what a nice way to begin. "Everyone who had remained there died, but no one can recognize the bodies since either they can't stay in the city very long for fear of their own lives, or because the dead people are too... torn up to be recognized anything other than human. Anyone who visits the city and lives nowadays mostly goes mad, but any sane man, if considered as such, has spoken of some kind of demons."
"Mazoku?" the swordsman suggested.
"No. It doesn't appear that way because these creatures are incapable of speaking and they feast off of the dead bodies somehow. Mazoku only feed off of negative emotions," Sylphiel explained, taking a careful sip of her tea since her hands were shaking slightly. "Nobody knows exactly what these monsters are. Those who have seen it don't want to say. They can't say because they're so frightened by memories."
"So overal,l there are barely any dead bodies left?"
"Exactly. I suppose... the creatures may have eaten them," Sylphiel replied, looking sheet white.
Zangulus took in a large gulp of ale. "Wonderful," he grumbled. "Unless these demons eat bones, too, I doubt that's possible."
"True," Sylphiel agreed. "But there's no explanation to what happened to the people of the town, then. They just vanished."
"As sad as the tale is, it's best that you stay away from it, Sylphiel," Zangulus suggested. "Aside from the Dragon Slave, you really don't have any offensive attacks. The Flare Arrow is sure as hell no help to you."
Sylphiel blushed, but shook her head angrily. "I want to help if I can. I can't just walk away from Rahns! My aunt... lived there. I don't know what became of her. I have to find out, Mr. Zangulus!"
"Fair enough, I guess," Zangulus said with a shrug. He was okay with revenge; it worked. The swordsman was all for leaving the priestess to wander off and get torn apart since he had his own business to attend to.
But, he was heading in the same direction; honor told him not to let her go alone and his gut reminded him that she was a damn good cook. His pride barked out that he hated to travel with people and that Sylphiel was probably not going to pay him. While his pride was one of the biggest things about Zangulus, his honor was bigger.
"Shit," muttered the King of Xoana.
Sylphiel, fortunately for her righteous ears, did not quite hear that. "Mr. Zangulus?"
With a very loud and annoyed sigh, Zangulus wiped his face irritably, "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but... Sylphiel, I'll go with you to Rahns. Beyond that, I'm on my own."
The priestess had a mix of shock and confusion; maybe Zangulus had a bit much to drink? "Mr. Zangulus, I really appreciate it, but... are you sure?"
"Rahns isn't that far from where I'm headed, so I don't see why not. Besides, it's not in me to leave you alone with unknown demons; I wouldn't hear the end of it from everyone else if they knew," Zangulus replied, finishing his ale.
Sylphiel smiled and nodded to the swordsman, "Mr. Zangulus, thank you. I'm not much for being alone on these sort of things... You don't know how much this means to me."
"Don't mention it. God, please don't mention it," Zangulus groaned mostly to himself.
Zangulus felt better in the morning. His clothes were washed, his hangover was not that bad, he had a nice long bath, and he was all prepared to go.
Then he remembered he had gotten a party member and then his spirits shattered for the moment. Oh well. Put up with it. At least he would get some good cooking.
Fortunately, the rain had stopped. Unfortunately, new mud had spread on Zangulus's boots, as well as Sylphiel's. The day had its ups and downs.
"So, Mr. Zangulus," Sylphiel started, "why are you heading near Rahns anyway?"
"Hm? Oh. Heading towards Zefilia," replied Zangulus.
"What for?" Sylphiel asked.
"Business," Zangulus grunted.
Sylphiel blushed a little. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be so nosey."
"No," Zangulus agreed. "You shouldn't."
"Sorry," Sylphiel apologized again, quieter this time as she folded her hands in front of herself. She looked at the ground as they walked. "I just didn't think you'd go to many places anymore since you're a king now."
"It was kind of a sudden decision thing. It came up suddenly," Zangulus stammered, trying not to pay much attention to the small conversation.
"So you wouldn't have minded being alone if I didn't come along?"
Zangulus shrugged. "I'm used to it." A pause was there before Zangulus pointed out, "Besides, you're only coming part way."
Sylphiel smiled slightly, "Right, right." Another period of silence went by before she squirmed. "Um... have you seen Gourry dear at all, Mr. Zangulus?"
"No, actually. Wouldn't mind, either. I haven't had a good match in awhile."
She laughed nervously at that, "That's not quite the answer I was hoping to hear, but thank you. I haven't seen a sign of him for a long time now. Unfortunately, it looks like he forgot my address since he hasn't been keeping in touch."
"He probably did," Zangulus answered with a little smirk on his face. "He's somewhere goofing off with Lina. Sounds like them."
Sylphiel lost her smile. "Yes, I suppose he is with Ms. Lina."
Strike one, Zangulus, the swordsman thought. She had an undeniably large crush on Gourry for whatever reason, and considering how close Lina and Gourry were getting... well, it was obvious there.
"As long as he's happy, I don't mind," Sylphiel whispered, more to herself than to Zangulus. Suddenly, she looked up at him with a smile (although to him it looked forced) and said, "Let's take a break and have some lunch, okay Mr. Zangulus? I'm sure you're hungry."
"Yeah, I guess," Zangulus shrugged.
A brief camp was set up. Sylphiel had a nice soup going over the fire (which she managed with a Flare Carrot) that had an amazing scent that impressed Zangulus. He sat down, leaning back on a boulder as he watched half-heartedly the priestess cook. Still, he had a small grin on his face. It smelled a lot like his mother's cooking, actually.
The swordsman plucked the letter out from his pocket with part anger and part depression. Common sense said that it was a trickster on the loose, setting up a trap. However, something nagged at him, telling him that it was real, that it was from his mother. If that were so, then everything on the letter was true and then there would be too many questions like "how did she come back?" and "did it have anything to do with Rahns?"
What hurt the most was that in the letter she mentioned that she was disappointed with the life that he chose. Which was one of the biggest reasons why he wanted to believe it was a fake.
"Mr. Zangulus, your soup is ready," Sylphiel announced, bringing over both her bowl and his. He muttered a thanks and accepted it, setting it down beside him. She sat down beside the swordsman. "I'm sorry to be nosey again, but who wrote you that letter?"
Zangulus, instead of any answering, remained silent as he stuck it back into his pocket. He picked up his bowl of soup. Sylphiel reddened. "I'm sorry."
"Stop saying that already," Zangulus muttered. "You don't have to be sorry all the goddamned time." He pulled up the spoon and sipped his lunch, then got a strange look on his face.
Sylphiel lowered her bowl. "Is it not very good, Mr. Zangulus?"
"Not that," Zangulus shook his head. "Not at all. Far from it. Where'd you learn to cook this soup?"
"My father. He said Mother used to make it all the time," Sylphiel replied, her eyes drifting away from her traveling companion to a rock that suddenly looked very amusing to her.
Strike two, Zangulus thought with a wince. Bringing up her father. "Sorry."
"Now stop saying that," Sylphiel told him with a little smile. Ah-hah. Payback. "It's all right. I just get a little upset now. I really miss him, but... I'll meet him again one day. Just not now. I'll have to be patient, and so will he." She then tilted her head a bit. "What made you ask about the soup?"
Zangulus coughed a little, scratching the back of his head. His eyes drifted to the same rock Sylphiel noticed earlier. "Well, ah... You see... nevermind."
"Mr. Zangulus," Sylphiel began, looking ready to give a lecture. "I've told you a lot, now. Can't you tell me just a bit about yourself? It'd be easier."
"Easier. Maybe not better," the swordsman responded. He eyed at the soup, wondering if he should just dump the damn bowl over the priestess's head. It would at least get her to stop her curiosity. His honor and gut made him do otherwise. "My mother used to make it exactly like this."
"Yeah. There are just some things y'never forget. Of all things, I can't really forget her," he told the priestess.
"She must be a nice lady," Sylphiel said pleasantly.
"Was," Zangulus corrected with a glare. The priestess flushed and murmured an apology, looking away.
The rest of lunch was quiet.
The traveling was quiet. Nothing unusual occurred. It was boring. Pointless. Meaningless. They arrived at a village, ahead of schedule. Nothing special happened. They went to bed. They slept. Nothing neat went by. Unless you count the horrendous rotting beasts that attacked and nearly killed the two during the night.
It was going to be a nice rest, but Sylphiel awoke to the sound of a disgusting gurgling noise outside her door. Then she smelled something dreadful and tried to keep herself from gagging. What was that? It was repulsive!
The door broke down, and Sylphiel shrieked at the sight.
Ice blue eyes gazed up at the inn, all in silence. It was the best thing he did. He could just look upon someone and they would not want to bother him. Fine thing it was to look scary.
He heard the scream. He knew who was inside. Not a care flickered through his face. Normally he would brush it aside and say "none of my business" but quite the contrary; it was entirely his fault.
For once in who-knows-how-long, the hooded figure spoke to the cold silence in the air, "Perhaps a crutch is needed."
And the silence appeared again, as that was the best thing he did next to being an ultra-creepy wizard.
Zangulus was actually a heavy sleeper. Maybe it had to do with the fact that he barely slept at all, and when he did, he was like a rock (and that would have been a bad pun if I were referring to Zelgadis.) However, with a scream like that, even rocks would wake up.
The swordsman grumbled something incoherently. Somehow that made perfect sense to him no matter how jumbled the sentence was. He did not think he would have any trouble from Sylphiel, especially at the middle of the night.
Then a really bad smell and the glance at a more-than-half-rotten corpse smashing down the door was enough to get Zangulus awake and realize that Sylphiel had a damn good reason to be screaming at the top of her lungs.
Fortunately, swordsmen such as Zangulus were prepared.
He drew the Howling Sword and leapt out of his bed, flinging a shockwave at... whatever the creatures were. They couldn't be called anything. They just looked like humanoid creatures, disproportioned and the skin not fitting on right. Their arms didn't entirely stick out, a few locked within its own skin like a straight jacket. Their twisted and twitching fingers stuck out all over the place on where their hands would be.
One of the terrors had suddenly grown thick vine-like tentacles with skulls at the ends, giving a gurgling shriek as it wrapped itself around Zangulus's legs. He quickly hacked it off, hurrying to get away. The swordsman slashed at the wall, making an unintentionally perfect square as he charged into the next room just as Sylphiel made a bad attempt at a Flare Arrow.
"Howling Sword!" the Xoana king growled, flinging a shockwave at the horrors. "Where the hell did they come from?!"
"Mr. Zangulus, can you cut the wall here? I can try to Ray Wing us out," Sylphiel suggested.
After another shockwave, Zangulus cut open an exit. Sylphiel grabbed his arm and levitated them out of the inn. Struggling to stay afloat, Zangulus swore quite loudly, making the priestess blush at that. "Try to stay up," the swordsman announced, pointing his sword down at the beasts. "Howling Blast!"
The blade of the Howling Sword became black with violet lightning crackling over it. A loud hum sounded as a blast of darkness and purple electricity bursting at the creatures below. Sylphiel soon landed afterwards, bringing the creatures to the duo's rear. A Flare Carrot was flung at the humanoid monsters.
Then the creatures were suddenly encased in ice, shattering immediately to pieces.
"You didn't tell me you could do that!" Zangulus shouted accusingly at the priestess. She flushed.
"I-I didn't," she stammered.
The king waved his arms at her. "Monsters don't just suddenly freeze for no good reason!" he snapped, then instinctively slashed a beast. "Damn! I think there are only a few left. Get out of here and I'll finish them as fast as I can."
Sylphiel nodded silently, speaking before flying back to her room, "Be careful, Mr. Zangulus!"
The priestess got dressed as quickly as she could, although her mind seemed elsewhere. Maybe it was because she was still, amazingly, half asleep, but she felt so... useless. She appreciated Zangulus being there, but Sylphiel couldn't fight on her own. She couldn't blame him if he felt like she was just dead weight. Sylphiel hadn't done anything except help feed him and cause him to think about his deceased mother.
Sylphiel grabbed her bag and ran through the hole in the wall, hoping that she gathered up Zangulus's belongings. He traveled a lot lighter than her, so she took a moment to look around the room before heading back outside.
"Mr. Zangulus!" she called out.
The swordsman noticed her, then nodded. "All right. Let's hurry up until we're at the town's outer limits," he ordered. "I think I got all the ones in this area." The two started off.
One of the "corpses" popped an eye open, staring at the duo. A tentacle jerked out of the body, swung toward Zangulus, and then--
Sylphiel shrieked as the vine-skull bit onto her arm as she pushed away the swordsman. Zangulus stumbled a bit, then looked at the priestess in fury at first for being shoved, then his expression looked horrified. "Sylphiel!" he yelled. Immediately, he pried the creature off of her and blasted it with a shockwave from his sword.
The swordsman glared at Sylphiel, muttering a curse as he held her up by the arm. "Idiot!" Zangulus hissed at her. "What're you trying to prove?! I can handle myself." His expression softened a bit, noticing how pale she was becoming. "Are you all right?"
"Y-yes," Sylphiel swallowed, holding her arm. "I'm fine. We'd better hurry." She started to heal her wound. "Can we check the town first and see if there are any survivors?"
"Fine," he sighed. Just remember, he thought, only until Rahns...
Our Two Adventurers had "borrowed" a horse, making the traveling around the village quick. Needless to say that any survivors had fled the village, and any behind had just vanished. There were some horrific remains of people.
Although with a squeamish face, Sylphiel had buried the remains with flowers on top of each burial. To leave them as they were just seemed improper and heartless; at this point, Zangulus didn't really blame her. It was, after all, only fair.
As the two moved on, Sylphiel seemed to get paler and paler. She often ran off by herself suddenly to do something unexplained to Zangulus, and just looked worse when she returned.
It was only a few days later after the incident with the strange monsters, and Sylphiel ate less and left more often on their stops. They seemed to be getting closer to the city of Seyruun.
Still riding the same horse as before, the priestess looked over Zangulus's shoulder, "That's where Ms. Amelia should be."
"I'm sure you'd like to visit, but I'd rather that we just continue on our way, Sylphiel," Zangulus answered to that statement. A pause. "Unless you're hungry. We are getting low on supplies, I guess."
"No," Sylphiel replied with an empty expression. "I'm fine."
Soon after that was said, the priestess's grasp onto Zangulus's cape tightened. The swordsman choked as the cape around his neck was suddenly tighter, "Are you okay?"
"We have to stop," Sylphiel said suddenly, jumping off the horse. She went into a run, but suddenly had fallen, not moving.
"Sylphiel?!" Zangulus called after her, stopping the horse and running to the priestess. He helped her up, only to find her starting to gag and vomit up blood. "Damn, when the hell did this start?!"
She didn't answer, continuing to vomit, then fainted. Zangulus caught her.
"Shit!" the king swore, carrying her back to the horse and turning the stallion around. He had the horse break into a run, heading toward Seyruun. While Zangulus didn't know any healing that could cure a thing like this, someone in the White Capital had to know something.
As any good hearted series, this is to be continued in...
"Treasure Hunt! There's Gotta Be a Cure Somewhere."
...where Zangulus and Amelia seek the ingredients for Sylphiel's cure, and Amelia is apparently the new team member, along with someone else unexpected. Oh, like I'll tell you who it is.
And, yes, I did make up Zangulus's last name. Sorta.