Disclaimer: I don't own this series or any of these characters and I don't wish to make any profits from this story.
It was a puzzle. Zelgadis was certain of it. There had to be more to the cabin than what he was seeing. He had spent months looking for this secret lab of Rezo's. The chimera had thought he had managed to locate all of Rezo's laboratories and hideaways. He had a map marked with all of the locations. Then, out of all places, he had gone to a tavern and it was a barkeep that told him over a drink. It had started off as a simple conversation. Zelgadis said that he was searching for any hidden temples or ruins near the Kataart mountains. The bartender replied that if he wanted something interesting to explore, he should go to the old cabin in the woods. Zelgadis had assumed he was joking, until the bartender said that it supposedly once belonged to Rezo the Red Priest.
Zelgadis choked on his wine. The bartender grinned smugly, no doubt amused that he was able to take the shaman by surprise. "That's right. The famous priest himself would sometimes visit there."
"Why?" Zelgadis asked, trying to not reveal his growing eagerness.
The bartender shrugged. "No idea. No one in the village thought it was right to ask him. However, it's been years since anyone has seen him there."
Zelgadis ran his finger around the rim of his glass. "Has anyone been there since?"
The bartender dried a freshly clean mug. "You kidding? What kind of person would invade a holy man's home? Sure some people have been curious, but everyone is worried about getting cursed."
"And you're telling me because?"
The bartender put the mug on the counter and leaned forward on his arms. "You don't seem to be the kind to be afraid of curses."
Zelgadis couldn't argue against the man's claim. Once he was given directions, it only took a morning's walk to locate the cabin. To his disappointment, the inside was as ordinary as the outside. There was a plain bed, a dusty bookshelf, a table and a single chair. Zelgadis wondered if the bartender had played a prank on him, but his gut told him that things weren't what they appeared to be.
There were the books in the bookcase. Rezo has always used magic to help him to read, and he would always carve his name into the spine of the book. The thinly carved "Rezo" at the end of each book spine was all the proof Zelgadis needed.
Yet, that was the only evidence. It made no sense. From what the bartender told him, Rezo had sometimes spent a whole month in this cabin. Why? There was nothing here. Zelgadis tapped the walls looking for any hint of a secret safe, but found none.
Then he noticed the rug on the floor. He knelt and brushed his fingers against the small pink tassels. Then he swiftly yanked it away, smiling in triumph as a door appeared. There was the latch. The cabin was just a way to hide whatever experiments Rezo was concealing beneath it.
His body trembled with excitement. It was a slim chance, but the clue to his cure could be below this dingy cabin floor. Zelgadis lifted the latch. The door was stiff, and it creaked loudly as he pulled it upward. A stairwell descended into the darkness below.
Zelgadis cast a lighting spell and began to descend. The stairway was narrow, but Zelgadis was relieved to see the cellar was twice the size of the cabin upstairs. It was pitch black other than the small ball of light generated by his lighting spell. As he stepped off the stairs, a torch came into view.
Zelgadis cast a small flare arrow and lit the torch. The light spell dissolved as Zelgadis picked up the torch. He ran his hand against the wall and located the other torches. It was not long before he was able to light up the room.
He gazed about the cellar. This looked more disorganized when compared to Rezo's other dwellings. Notes and books were scattered on the tables. Vials, tubes and bottles with unknown liquids sat on a nearby shelf.
Going into scholar mode, Zelgadis glanced over the notes and books on a table. He found a small leather bound book and opened it. He recognized Rezo's handwriting instantly. Many people would have been shocked to learn that Rezo had learned to write as well as read. Zelgadis had recalled asking him how he did it as a child.
Rezo had explained that he had used a version of the scrying spell, but had connected it to his mind. At least that was the brief explanation of it, Rezo had made it clear it was a complicated spell and would take hours to explain it in detail.
He glanced over the journal as he flipped through the pages.
The subject is developing normally. It should reach adulthood within a month. However, in regards to that, I'll have to inject the serum to ensure it remains a blank slate.
Zelgadis read the pages quickly and hopefully, seeking more description as to what exactly the subject Rezo was studying was. He began to pace as he read the pages. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw another chamber extending from the far wall.
He carried the small journal in his hands as he walked towards it, stopping to light another torch as he entered the small chamber.
The journal fell from his hands. He also nearly dropped the torch, but his quick reflexes saved him. As he stared into the chamber, his brain began to create rational and logical reasons for the sight before him. He was seeing an illusion, some kind of cheap trick. This was all nothing more than a dream. The fish he ate for lunch was bad and thus he was seeing things.
He stared at the object before him and slammed down the excuses he had try to think of. No, what he was seeing was indeed real. Zelgadis paced warily towards the incubation tube. He placed his hand against the glass over the creature's chest, eyes locked on the subject's face.
The being was male, his hair a light lavender blue. His eyes were shut, making it seem that the he was merely sleeping. His body was firm, but not very muscular compared to someone like Gourry.
Zelgadis admitted to himself he never imagined Rezo to do this. Rezo had done a lot of crazy things. He had seen the man create chimeras, himself included. Rezo had created an illness and infect an entire country with it just for an experiment. He had forced low-ranking Mazoku to become his servants.
He cursed under his breath. Making a full copy of Zelgadis's human self. That was a new one to add to the list.