A Poem for Byzantium

Lyrics by Joanna Stevens of Solar Twins

from the Delerium CD: 'Poem'

Ch. 1: In which Zelgadiss meets Prince Phil and receives a request.

unbidden shadows of you formed yesterday.

i ran away to a room here on the bay

interrupted life again, another new beginning

where the silence echoes you're no longer with me.

~*~

Something was missing, Zelgadiss mused as he took a sip of the warm liquid in his cup. The town bustling, people were smiling, the atmosphere was positively cheerful.

And yet, it still felt as if something was still missing.

It was rather annoying, like an itch right between the shoulder blades that you can't quite reach to scratch.

He was sure hadn't been to this seaside town before, so it would be impossible for him to tell if something was missing from the town or not. Having the floating abilities of a marble statue, he tended have a minor dislike of water and strayed away from the larger bodies of water unless in an active search for his cure.

Such as the boat ride back from outside the Barrier Lands.

And he was pretty sure that this wasn't the town that he had left with Lina, Gourry and Amelia on their journey to the outside lands.

Zelgadiss took another sip, wondering where everyone was, and how they were doing. Were he a betting person, he'd place odds that Lina and Gourry were still travelling together, Hikari no Ken or no Hikari no Ken.

Amelia was probably still in Saillune, stopping evil in the name of Justice and helping Prince Phil run the country. A hand reached down and brushed the bracelet still on his water bottle.

He had told Amelia while fighting DarkStar that he would think about going to Saillune. And he had. Even if he had chosen to wander the Outside lands after the battle, he had still given it some serious thought, both before and after he had made his decision.

Saillune was only a few weeks travel away from the port. He could take a detour and give her back the bracelet. It would be nice to see a familiar face again.

Zelgadiss shook his head. He had come back to the Barrier Lands for a reason. If he could find the 'Well of Truth', he could be cured and then he'd have something to rejoice about with friends.

If not, well, it still would be nice to see a friend.

As if summoned, a shadow fell across his table. "Zelgadiss-san!?!" A loud booming voice called.

He tilted his head back to see if the voice could possible belong to the person that he thought it did, his hood sliding off his head in the process. "Hello."

"I thought I recognised your cloak!" Prince Phil clapped him on the shoulder in greeting. "Good to see you again, Zelgadiss-san!"

Not exactly a friend, but a familiar face. Close enough. "Care to join me?" He offered, motioning to the empty chair across the small cafe table from him.

"You're too kind. Thank you." Phil sat down with a relived sigh. The older man looked tired, Zelgadiss noted. Must have been a rough day for the Crown Prince of Saillune. He signalled the waitress, requesting another order. The girl gave a brief nod and vanished into the kitchens.

"Amelia told me you were travelling outside the Barrier Lands." Phil commented. "How long have you been back?"

"My ship just docked a few hours ago." Zelgadiss replied politely, the feeling of something missing increasing as he glanced around. Unusually on political trips, Phil travelled with his daughter, but there was no sign of her. "How are you and Amelia doing?"

"I am much the same as the last time you saw me." Phil smiled as the serving girl returned carrying a tray of various stuffed breads and another carafe. Phil thanked her as she set it down in front of him and handed her a coin in payment. She curtsied and left.

Phil sighed, pouring himself a glass. "Amelia left a few hours ago on an Ambassador Mission to Grimwold." He commented. "It's a state just outside of where the Barrier was."

"I remember hearing about it." Zelgadiss nodded. "Due to the strange fluxuations in the barrier over the years, they don't like magic of any sort." He'd had made a mental note to stay away from there when he had first heard about it. Fortunately, his travels had not strayed in that direction.

"'Not liking' is a mild way to put it." Phil said heavily. "They want the barrier back up to prevent any sort of magic from entering their lands. We now have reports that they are willing to go to war over this."

Zelgadiss blinked. "And Amelia is going -there-?"

Phil nodded. From the expression on his face, he wasn't pleased about the thought of that either. "The Alliance hopes that by sending a White Mage there that they can prove that all Magic is not harmful, and thereby avoid a war."

"And Amelia is the best person suited for the job." Zelgadiss mused, following the trains of thought. It made sense. More sense than sending someone like Lina. Zoana was still trying to re-build from Lina's brand of 'diplomacy'.

"Exactly." Phil looked at Zelgadiss for a moment, a deep searching look. Zelgadiss waited patiently, fighting the uncomfortable urge to twitch. "Where are you going from here, Zelgadiss-san?" Phil finally asked, apparently satisfied with what he found.

Zelgadiss took a sip of his drink. It was cooler than before, but still warm enough to be drinkable. "South." He finally admitted. "Southeast, actually. There's a legend I want to check out."

Grimwold lay to the Southeast as well. With Zelgadiss' speed, it wouldn't be hard for him to catch up to Amelia, especially with only a few hours head start.

The silence suddenly grew heavy, despite the still cheerful atmosphere around them. Phil chewed thoughtfully on several of the rolls while Zelgadiss finished his drink. He was debating refilling his cup when Phil cleared his throat.

"If you see Amelia, would you keep an eye on her?" Phil finally asked, the concern for his daughter clear in his voice. He pulled a bag off his waist and set it on the table next to Zelgadiss' carafe.

Puzzled, Zelgadiss picked it up and opened it to peek inside. It was full of gold, with a few stray jewels thrown in. "That should be enough to cover travel expenses." Phil commented as he ate another stuffed bread.

Understanding dawned. Prince Phil was hiring him to essentially be Amelia's bodyguard, or escort. He shook his head and set the bag back down on the table, this time next to Phil's plate. The prince looked at him with wide eyes.

"I am not Lina." He said calmly, picking up his sword and rising. "You don't need to pay me for something I would do regardless."

The larger man physically relaxed at the words, nodding. "Thank you, Zelgadiss-san. You're a good man."

Zelgadiss shrugged it off. Amelia was a friend, and that was all there was to it as far as he was concerned. She would do the same for him. "I have something of hers to return, anyway." He grumbled. This caused Phil to chuckle.

"Of course, of course." Phil grinned. "Have a good journey, Zelgadiss-san."

"You too. Until we meet again, Phil." He waved, turning and walking off. Phil waved back, turning his attention to the food.

Zelgadiss sighed, pulling up his hood and mask for the trip thru town. Phil wouldn't let Amelia walk by herself, so she was probably riding on horseback with at least one or two people with her. From the town to the barrier had been was at least a few days walk, so it would probably be at least a day before they crossed into Grimwold.

If the information he had was correct, the Well was less than a day from the town, which is why he had chosen to dock here.

So then the plan was: find the Well, get the cure and join Amelia.

And if the Well wasn't the cure he was looking for, like so many other leads had turned out to be, he was still headed in the right direction to give Amelia back her bracelet.

And maybe ask her why she had given it to him in the first place. He still wasn't very sure why he had it.

Plan firmly set in his mind, Zelgadiss left the town.

~*~

here and now, i feel that i'm embracing freedom

even though i may be alone, that's ok

TBC…