After the destruction of Sairaag, Sylphiel said that she would stick around the ruins to help rebuild. At first, the memories of her childhood home and of her father were too much for her to handle. After only a few weeks, she decided to travel to the kingdom Seyruun to stay with her uncle Gray and his wife Maria.
However, the stay wasn't all as well as she hoped. Not to say that Uncle Gray was a bad person or that Sylphiel was treated badly. It was just that the last time they saw each other was when she was a young girl, so having her there felt somewhat awkward. Therefore it wasn't long before she gave Sairaag another chance.
With dear Gourry gone, Sylphiel felt lost in the world. Though she tried her best, she wasn't the carpenter type, and was often clumsy when she attempted to help, dropping bricks on someone's feet, or clonking them in the head with a piece of wood. The trip to Seyruun and Sairaag was a lengthy one, and she really wasn't up to going back and forth whenever things didn't go right. So she stayed to stick it out.
Things just weren't going very well for the former priestess. Why didn't she decide to travel with dear Gourry around the world? Without him around for support, Sylphiel was truly alone…
Until one day, a stranger came to Sairaag.
"Excuse me," the young man called to Sylphiel, who was carrying an armful of two by fours. Surprised, she turned around to greet him, only to nearly hit him in the gut with the boards. He jumped back as she tried to avoid hitting him, and wound up dropping half her load.
"Sorry… Here, let me help." The man bent down and started scooping up the wood as Sylphiel straightened up what she didn't drop.
"It's okay," she said, "It was my fault. I'm such a klutz."
"No worries," the man smiled, hoisting up the boards, "I'll get these for you."
"Thank you," Sylphiel smiled back. She blinked, studying the man, trying to recognize him. "I'm sorry, I don't believe I've seen you around."
"Oh, right. Sorry. The name's Raul. I was hired to come to Sairaag to help rebuild. I was hoping you could tell me where I can find the man in charge?"
Sylphiel nodded. "Oh of course. Please, follow me."
She led the way through the city to where the head of the restoration project was at. While on the way, Raul explained who he was and told more about himself. He was a carpenter, hailing from Telmoord. His mother died when he was just a child, and his father would force him to work. He wasn't the most affectionate father and would take his earnings for his drinking and gambling needs, until Raul was fourteen and left on his own accord, working for himself. He came to realize that fixing and rebuilding things was a calming passion, and decided to become a freelance carpenter, taking whatever job he would find, traveling along the Northern Base continent. Sylphiel told her side as well, explaining how Sairaag was once her home, and her father Elc was the Head Priest of the Flare Dragon Ceipheed shrine… That is, until Copy Rezo killed him when he destroyed almost all of Sairaag with a Mega Brando spell. Having told her story, Sylphiel tried to fight back the tears, but Raul was there to comfort her and apologize for what happened.
That was the thing about Raul. He was always there for Sylphiel when she needed it. Whenever she was having a clumsy or awkward moment, he helped her through it, and even showed her how to do simple tasks such as nailing boards and cementing blocks. In return, she would cook him and his colleagues lunches, and heal an injury such as a slip of the hammer and hitting his thumb instead of a nail.
When they weren't rebuilding, Sylphiel and Raul would talk, get to know each other better. Sylphiel told Raul all about her friends and the adventures she had with them, and how she even helped save the world. Raul didn't have as much an exciting life, or that many friends to be honest. He did, however, introduce Sylphiel to his horse, Caballo.
The two had started a close friendship. But they weren't always together. Though the Sairaag project was a paying job, seeing how nearly the whole city was totaled, they didn't have much to offer. So Raul would occasionally take other jobs in different cities, just to earn his living, but always promised he'd come back. Meanwhile, Sylphiel would usually return to Seyruun to visit and stay with her uncle. Both of them were out of town when Sairaag mysteriously was completely rebuilt.
However, it turned out to be the work of Hellmaster Phibrizo, who had resurrected the city and all the citizens to carry out his grand scheme. Lina Inverse, another friend of Sylphiel's, managed to stop him, but in the end, Sairaag was once again destroyed. Raul felt a little discouraged having to start all over, but nonetheless, promised Sylphiel that he would continue to help rebuild her old hometown.
Throughout the years, Sylphiel and Raul did their best to build the city of Sairaag back to its former glory. Slowly it was becoming more and more like the old city that it was before. Not just those two, though. Many former residents and volunteers gave everything they had into helping rebuild. Raul was so impressed, that he even once told Sylphiel that after seeing such dedication and effort from such persistent and kind people, he may even decide to settle down and make a home in Sairaag, much to Sylphiel's delight. She and Raul had grown especially close during the years.
It had been two years since the events of Taforashia. Sylphiel had spent some time in Seyruun with her uncle, helping to serve Prince Philionel, and had come to Taforashia to aide in the kingdom's healing process. She met up once again with her dear Gourry, as well as Lina and the others. As they helped the people of Taforashia, she and Gourry spent some time together, catching up, and telling each other of their adventures… or rather, Gourry telling Sylphiel his adventures while Sylphiel talked about woodwork and how she helped put a house together. Wasn't as interesting as fighting the once-again resurrected Shabrinigdo, or being a father to a fish-boy for a day.
Unfortunately, Lina and her crew couldn't stay long, and that meant Gourry had to leave as well. For a moment, Sylphiel was torn. Should she travel with her beloved in an attempt to win his heart once and for all? She didn't want to push at the subject (at the risk of being on the wrong end of a Dragon Slave), but she had a funny feeling that Miss Lina had certain feelings for Gourry as well, especially since the Sword of Light was long gone and she was still following him around. Sylphiel wanted to go with them, and perhaps impress Dear Gourry by shooting off a Dragon Slave of her own and showing just how reliable she could be.
But other than Lord Ruby Eye's spell, her black magic was severely lacking, and she wasn't considered much of a fighter. What good could she do other than wait until someone was hurt bad enough that she could cast a Recovery spell on them? But then again, if she could learn more about carpentry, then perhaps she could also…
No… Sairaag needed her. Raul had promised to stay as long as he was needed and then some. It wouldn't be fair to abandon him and the rest of her hometown after all they did for her. Gourry would have to wait.
If it was meant to be, then Gourry would return. Otherwise…
… Maybe it was best not to think about it.
"Sylphiel Nels Lahda?"
The former priestess lifted her head at the sound of her name. "Yes?"
On a large, white stallion was a handsome soldier, making his way through the crowd and approaching Sylphiel. He held out a small scroll for her. "For you, my lady."
The soldier bowed his head, turned his horse, and rode away. Raul approached Sylphiel as she examined the scroll. "What is it?" he asked.
Sylphiel noticed a familiar symbol on the scroll and smiled brightly. "The crest of the Royal Seyruun family!" she chimed, "It's from my friend Amelia."
Sylphiel opened the scroll quickly as Raul scratched his head. "The princess, right?" he asked, "Wow, I wish I had connections like you do."
Sylphiel's eyes darted left and right as she read the message. "To Miss Sylphiel Nels Lahda. You and a guest are cordially invited to the marriage of Princess Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun to Sir Zelgadis Greywords." She glanced up at her friend, "How wonderful! Miss Amelia and Mr. Zelgadis are getting married. Who would have guessed?"
She went back to the letter and continued reading. "Alongside the princess and her consort, Miss Lina Inverse shall be wed to…" she began to trail off, "… Mister Gourry Gabriev…" Her hands shook and she slowly lowered the letter.
"Sylphiel?" Raul looked over, concerned. "You okay?"
"Gourry dear…" her voice quivered, "And… Miss Lina…"
Raul thought back. Gourry… He was the swordsman, the one Sylphiel loved. A slight lump began to form in his throat at that thought. "Sylphiel… I'm sorry."
The priestess turned her head. "I… I had a feeling… I knew somehow that they had some sort of connection."
"Sylphiel, are you all right?"
"I…" Sylphiel turned away more, trying to hide her face. "I'm fine. Really. I suppose it just wasn't meant to be. If it was, then he would be here… But…"
"Look, Sylphiel, if you're upset—"
"Oh no. No, no. I'm fine. If this is what Gourry-dear wants, then I'll support him."
Raul narrowed his eyes. "Are you sure about this?"
"Really," Sylphiel put on a smile that looked rather forced. "He's an adventurer, just like she is. I can see why he'd go for a girl like Miss Lina. And I…"
She quickly brought her hands to her face. Raul wasn't dumb. "Sylphiel, it's all right to be upset…"
"No, I'm not," said Sylphiel, "Really. I want Gourry to be happy. If he's happy, then I'm- *huck*"
The girl responded with a sniffle and some tears. She gave a good cry before she choked, "Oh Raul, I'm so sorry. You probably think I'm a horrible person!"
"No!" Raul cried, "Of course not. I could never think that way about you." He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her.
"I don't mean to sound selfish," Sylphiel sobbed, "I really do want the best for Gourry-dear. It's just… it's just…"
"You're human," Raul finished her sentence, "You have feelings just like anybody else. And right now, they're hurt."
Sylphiel latched onto Raul, burying her face into his shoulder, allowing him to comfort her. "Please don't get the wrong idea," she whispered, "Miss Lina isn't THAT bad. If she's the one to make him happy, then I support it…" She then glanced up at the young man. "Just between you and me, though… I was hoping I was the one that would make him happy."
Raul swallowed, feeling somewhat awkward at the statement, but he continued to hold her as she softly cried into him.
After a long while, Sylphiel finally felt cried out and was able to stand on her own, and Raul suggested finishing up the house they were working on together to help clear her mind.
"Raul?" Sylphiel asked a short time later. Raul glanced over curiously as he continued to spread cement on a line of bricks. "I was just wondering," she continued, "Could… you maybe come to the wedding with me? As my guest?"
Raul stopped cementing and stared at her. "With… with you?" he stuttered, "Like… a date?"
Sylphiel blinked. "Hm? Oh! I mean, well, as my escort. You know…" she looked away, as if ashamed of herself, "I wouldn't quite trust myself if I went alone. I may need you to keep me in line just in case I might do something rash."
Raul sweatdropped. "Aw, Sylphiel," he smiled, "I know a sweet girl like you wouldn't do anything crazy."
"I know," said Sylphiel, "But I'll need you to make sure of it."
Raul blinked. "Sure. All right."
With the ceremony only a week away, Sylphiel and Raul gathered their things, packed them into Raul's small wagon, and rode off together with Caballo pulling them along. The trip to Seyruun took a few days, and they met several obstacles along the way, such as sudden downpours and ratty bridges, but they managed to get there in one piece.
They stayed in Sylphiel's uncle's mansion, where Sylphiel introduced Raul to her Uncle Gray. It was slightly embarrassing, as Gray had mistaken Raul to be Sylphiel's boyfriend and demanded they stay in separate bedrooms, which they would have done anyway.
Sylphiel had thought about going to the castle and visiting Gourry, but Gray had informed her that visiting hours were highly limited, as everyone was busily preparing for the big double ceremony that would take place the next day. Gourry was most likely getting ready for what would most likely be a rather eventful marriage to Lina Inverse. What would he want with her? Perhaps if she could see him one more time before…
No. She can't let herself go down this direction. She didn't want to be the type of girl that stuck herself between the relationship of two people in order to win her guy over. What were they often referred as..? Whores? No! She certainly wouldn't become one of those! She would just learn how to deal with the pain.
Funny. She knew everything there was to know about white magic and then some… But she knew nothing of how to heal a broken heart.
The weddings were held in the chapel area of the castle. It seemed like everyone Lina and the rest have ever run into had attended. There was Martina and her husband Zangulus, Filia along with Jiras, Gravos, and a baby Valgaav, Pokota, Luke and Milina, Ruuma, the elf boy Lark and his sister Rynnea, and even Xellos was seen hanging out in the back of the chapel, while a scantily-dressed woman with features similar to Amelia (only with longer hair and breasts as big as balloons) was spotted in the highest window by guests.
Sylphiel and Raul were seated near the front on the Inverse-Gabriev side, just behind Lina's family. Bells chimed and the orchestra blared while the guests stood from their seats. From the back, the two brides, bouquets in hand, slowly and gracefully made their way down the aisle towards the altar, where their respective grooms stood waiting. Sylphiel noticed how beautiful Lina looked in her light-pink wedding gown, how her hair was done and everything. It almost looked the exact opposite of Miss Lina. Who knew that she'd be able to put her pride aside and dress up all fancy? Perhaps every girl had a dream to be married. Sylphiel had one, for sure. In fact, her dream wasn't just to be married, but to be married to…
She looked over at the groom. Gourry was dressed in a lavender suit. He looked more handsome and dashing as ever. Sylphiel imagined herself getting married one day, having her hair done, her make-up, and wearing a stunningly gorgeous dress. She imagined herself standing at the altar… by Gourry's side. Of course that fantasy was smashed to pieces once Lina had stepped up and took her desired spot.
Sylphiel suddenly felt hot. It was a gorgeous spring day. What could possibly cause this rise in the temperature? It wasn't just her, was it? Was someone casting a fireball? Was she?
Her vision was suddenly blurred. She wiped her hand across her eyes and caught tears before they could fall. Raul had glanced over, looking concerned, but she meekly smiled in response. The two looked back over to the nuptials as the officiant began the long, standard speech on why everyone was gathered here, and the meaning of love and holy matrimony.
Lina and Gourry stood closely together, as did Amelia and Zelgadis. They all looked so happy being together…. Sylphiel imagined something else: Aiming a Dragon Slave at Lina. See how SHE liked it!
She shook her head furiously. No, no, no! Stop it! This not proper behavior for a lady! And how would that make Dear Gourry like you anyway?
Raul looked over again. Sylphiel gave a small nod, indicating she was all right. As he looked back, she sighed. She really did have no ill will against Lina. She sure was short-tempered, violent, screamed a lot, and was marrying her dear Gourry and deserved to die for it—
Augh! She did it again!
'Stop it, Sylphiel!' she mentally scolded herself. 'You weren't raised like this. What would Father think?'
Sylphiel was now distracted. Memories of her father came pouring back. How they played together, how he trained her to become a priestess, how he took care of her… even during her dreams of marriage, how he would escort her to her soon-to-be husband.
He couldn't do that now. Nor would he ever see the grandchildren that he longed for.
Sylphiel felt hot again. She quickly covered her face as tears began to well up.
She could hear small but harsh whispers around her, and was snapped back to reality. She glanced over to some females leaning over to each other, mumbling something, but their attention was to Sylphiel.
The former priestess quickly wiped her eyes once more. She felt a hand slip into hers. "Sylphiel..?" Raul softly whispered.
Sylphiel cast her gaze downwards, almost embarrassed to face the crowd. "I'm… I'm all right," she replied. "Really."
She looked back up at the ceremony. The officiant was already halfway through and was asking the couples if they took their significant others as his or her husband and wife. How much time passed? How embarrassing!
The rings were exchanged, and it was time for the final part…
"If there is anyone here who feels that these two couples should not be wed, speak now, or forever hold you peace."
Sylphiel tightened up and bit her tongue. It was hard enough having to sit through all this. She would not allow herself to further humiliate herself in such a manner… Though it was tempting. No! Just stay still… Don't say a thing…
The entire crowd gasped. The couples looked shocked as they turned. Everybody turned their direction to the girl who spoke up….
… Including Sylphiel. For she was not the one who spoke.
Instead, it was a mink. A female mink, no more than 3 feet tall and with the looks similar to that of the author.
"What's the big idea here?" Lina growled, fire burning in her eyes.
Zelgadis placed his palm in his face. "Dear Lord… Not this troublemaker again."
"Darn right!" the mink jumped on the pewter and pointed at the couples, "What blasphemy! Lina Inverse and Jelly-Fish Brain Gourry Gabriev? That couple makes no sense! And why on God's green Earth would Zelgadis even CONSIDER marrying that annoying little justice-obsessed brat Amelia?"
Gourry looked rather offended, while Lina balled her fists. "Hey you! Nobody calls Gourry a jelly-fish brain except ME!"
"Just what we need now," grumbled Zelgadis, "A crazy self-insert…"
"How dare you attempt to ruin my wedding day!" cried Amelia.
"Shove it, turd!" the mink shouted, "No one loves you!"
"I do!" Zelgadis defended his princess.
"No no no!" the mink grabbed her head, "No! I won't allow for this to happen! I will make things right!" She miraculously flipped through the air and landed between Lina and Zelgadis, taking their hands and putting them together. "THIS!" she shouted, "This is true love!"
Lina and Zel looked to each other… then turned away, letting go. "No it's not."
The mink fumed, and put their hands together again. "Yes it is!"
"No it isn't!"
"DAMMIT YES IT IS!" the mink squealed, "I'll DIE if my OTP doesn't come to fruition!"
Gourry scratched his head. "You'll die if you don't overdose on fruit…?" he attempted to make sense of what he heard.
"See?" the mink pointed, "SEE? You want that mentally handicapped man as your husband? Seriously?"
Lina grabbed the collar of the mink's dress. "LOOK HERE, YOU!" she screeched, "I don't know what your deal is, but nobody tells me how to feel or who I love! He may be a dumb guy, but he's MY dumb guy. Don't like it? Tough shit!"
"But Zelgadis is cooleeeeer!" the mink whined.
Zelgadis groaned and Amelia began crying. "Can't I have a regular wedding without someone interrupting for once?"
Zel glared over. "If you recall, I was the one who interrupted your last wedding, remember?"
"Zelly, come on! You can do better than her!" wailed the mink.
Zelgadis casted a fierce glare at the mink. "I'm happy with my choice, thank you. And I'll also thank you not to call me 'Zelly' again, OR insult my wife."
"Noooo!" the mink screamed. "You don't have to do this! Break free from canon! Free your souls! Lina and Zelgadis MUST forget these two losers and run away together! They have to! I'll make them if I have to! It's my fanfic, I can make them do whatever I want!"
"FIREBALL!" Lina shouted as she hurled a powerful fireball into the mink, slamming her through the ceiling, and blowing her up into a million pieces… as well as the entire roof of the chapel. Everyone shielded themselves from falling debris. Raul hovered over Sylphiel to protect her, while she looked up in awe at Lina. She may be violent and short-tempered… but she certainly knew how to protect the one she loved.
Perhaps she was worthy of Gourry after all.
For the first time, Sylphiel felt happy for the two.
Lina casually brushed her hands up and down as everyone stared stunned, wide-eyed, mouths agape. Amelia's eye twitched, while Prince Philionel's hands shook with both shock and rage over the destruction of the castle's chapel.
"Anyone else object?" Lina sneered.
"That's what I thought." She turned back to the officiant with an innocent smile. "Continue."
Xellos brushed debris out of his hair. "Goodness," he sighed, "Even on her wedding day, Lina still has to cause such attention. Glad I'm not the one marrying her."
Naga, the scantily dressed woman, was lying on the ground, twitching and nearly burnt to a crisp. She had been sitting on the highest window, after all, when the fireball hit. "Why can't nice things ever happen to me…?"
The reception, fortunately, went smoother than the ceremony. Everyone had a chance to congratulate the newlyweds, including Sylphiel, who seemed surprisingly cheerful. She hugged both Lina and Gourry and gave her best wishes. Gourry only smiled and thanked her, while Lina looked almost sorry for her, but gave her thanks as well. She was even the one who had caught Lina's bouquet, to which Lina had teased her about marrying her escort, much to Raul's embarrassment. Things only got worse when Sylphiel wasn't around; Gourry gave Raul a little "pep talk".
"Listen," he said, grabbing on the young man's shoulder and squeezing tight as he glared at him, "Sylphiel is a really special girl who went through a lot and she deserves the best… so you better give it to her! 'Cause if I find out you aren't treating her right…" Gourry tapped the hilt of his sword, "I'll know."
Raul gulped. He thought this man was much nicer than this, at least that's how Sylphiel described him. He rapidly nodded his head, while sweating. Gourry's harsh demeanor suddenly switched to a friendly face, and he playfully slapped Raul hard on the back. "Okay!" he laughed, "Just wanted to make sure, that's all! Ha ha ha!"
Raul rubbed his aching back. At least Sylphiel was right about him being the protective, yet dimwitted type.
Speaking of Sylphiel, he wondered where she wandered off to. Seyruun's ballroom was huge, but regardless, he figured he'd be able to spot her somewhere. Yet no one else seemed to know where for him.
Hoping she was all right, Raul gave his final best wishes to the brides and grooms and headed out to find Sylphiel.
Sylphiel laid on the bed in her room, staring up at the ceiling, which seemed to serve as a screen that projected all her memories. Gourry first coming to Sairaag, his returning with Lina and Amelia, their battle against Copy Rezo, trying to save him from Phibrizzo, him protecting her as they fought against Zanaffar in Seyruun, meeting up one last time in Taforashia…
Tears rolled from her eyes down her cheeks. Tears filled with memories that she was letting go.
"Sylphiel?" there was a knock on her door.
Sylphiel quickly sat up on her bed and wiped the tears away. "Yes? Come in."
The door opened, and Raul poked his head in. "There you are," he said, "I was wondering where you went off to."
"Oh! Raul. I'm sorry," she put on a smile, "I didn't mean to abandon you at the reception. I just…" She turned away, "Had to leave before I lost it. I can only take so much of this."
Raul came over and joined Sylphiel on the bed. "You all right?" he asked.
Sylphiel nodded. "I'll be fine," she responded, "It hurts… But, if I can survive losing my father, I can certainly survive this."
Raul smiled and placed an arm around her shoulder. "I'm proud of you, kiddo," he said, "You held out pretty well. I don't think you needed me at all."
Sylphiel smiled. Sincerely this time. "Thank you, Raul," she spoke, "I couldn't have gotten through this without your support. You don't know how much it means to me."
"Anytime," Raul squeezed her shoulder, "You know I'll always be here for you when you need it. Be it Sairaag, or, well… this."
Sylphiel suddenly embraced Raul in a tight hug. "Oh Raul, you're the best!" she chimed, "Thank you for everything. I'm so lucky to have a friend like you."
Raul returned the hug and patted her back, but he also casted his gaze downwards, his smile dropping. "Yeah…" he mumbled, "… Friend."