~* SLAYERS: FALLEN STARS *~
FULL SUMMARY: After fighting mages, monsters, other-worldly forces, reviving an entire country, and defeating pieces of Shabranigdu (one of them twice), an old enemy returns (again?) but in a very different form. Lina and the gang along with a few new faces will have to join forces to stop him (or is it her?) Growing feelings and shocking revelations abound! POST REV-EVO with some novel/manga references. L/G A/Z X/F/OC V/DS pairings. Possibly slightly AU regarding certain characters from another certain manga/anime by Kanzaka. J
DISCLAIMER: You know I don't own Slayers, but I do own every OC here. Please ask my permission should you desire to use them (and please don't be too dirty with them. I think I've done enough damage as it is).
DEDICATION: I dedicate this to my second cousin Audrey who is not even two years old and probably will never read this, but never the less, she is absolutely adorable. She is the first new family member since my mother's death and I just can't get enough of her pictures! ^_^ I hope she grows up to be as sweet as her grandpa and great-grandpa.
Okay, I'll let you read now. Enjoy, review, and remember, Feliz Naviduck! (Yes, I did say duck.)
Chapter One: It Fell From the Sky
Zelgadis secured his mask tighter around his face as the sandy winds picked up in anticipation of a morning storm. He cursed it for the hundredth time as his cape wrapped around his front making it even more difficult to walk. He had hoped his search would not lead him back to this Gods-forsaken place, but having no other leads at the moment the chimera decided to give it another shot.
This time he made sure he stayed on the main road (if you could call what looked like barely a line in the sand a road). A merchant caravan who have been carefully establishing trade with southern countries since they suddenly became accessible three years ago offered him to travel with their group. The pace was slower but a bit more comfortable, and since he had never ventured beyond the border of the Desert of Destruction their knowledge of what to expect might come in handy.
A collection of tall mesas peeked through the thickening dust up ahead. Picking up the pace the caravan hoped to make it and find shelter before the storm hit full force. It wasn't looking good. These storms were what gave this wasteland its name, and they could last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. Nobody was looking forward to slowly choking to death.
It made Zelgadis wonder why anyone would bother taking such a dangerous route all in the name of commerce. I guess some people are just that crazy. He let out a muffled sigh. Jeez, I'm one to talk! As if following a mere rumor for a cure is any better! I should've gone back to Seyruun after the last one didn't pan out.
His hand unconsciously went to his pouch hanging on the back of his belt and fingered the outline of a charm belonging to a certain princess. Not yet. I don't want to see that disappointed look on her face again when I come back looking the same as before.
Zelgadis happened to glance to his right towards the West. A strange orange glow in the sky about the size of the sun was slowly getting brighter. He did a double take when he realized the real sun was on the other side of him and the ball of light was moving at least a hundred times as fast.
"What the hell?" The chimera stopped in his tracks for a second, then sprinted off as fast as the wind would allow. Removing his mask he called out the caravan leader. "RASHAD!"
A large man with a build that could rival that of the crown prince of Seyruun himself slowed down and motioned the rest to stop. His headdress whipped from one side to the other as he turned his horse to see what the commotion was about.
"RASHAD!" Zelgadis called out again. "RASHAD, LOOK!" He pointed in the same direction he was looking moments before.
Everyone including Rashad who turned to look at Zelgadis utterly confused now turned their attention Westward. Their curiosity and confusion changed to fear as they caught sight of the light now hurtling low over their heads towards the sun. A low roar overtook the howling wind and every horse in the caravan whinnied and kicked the air.
Those who didn't have a horse dispersed to find shelter in the dunes while the rest were either kicked off or jumped off and followed suit, and not a moment too late.
First came a blinding flash of light that penetrated even their well covered eyelids, then a bang that caused everyone to go temporarily deaf, and finally a change of wind direction from West to East.
It wasn't just any wind. It was too strong and too hot to be of this world or any known spell from such a large distance away. Anything that was standing was quickly knocked down or scattered, and many of the merchants found themselves blown a good distance away along with the dunes. Zelagadis, who had a body like stone, managed to stay put along with one other man.
As the wind died down Rashad looked over to him from behind what was left of his dune. "Mr. Greywards," Rashad addressed him in a deep voice with an accent desert people were famous for, "Do you have any idea what we just witnessed?"
"I'm not sure." Zelgadis stood up. His ears were ringing horribly. He made a mental note to cast a recovery spell on them and everyone else's before they became permanently damaged. "It could be some sort of meteor."
"A what?" Rashad asked, probably because he was having a hard time hearing too.
"A meteor," the chimera repeated louder, "like a falling star. It's a good thing it didn't explode any closer or we would've been cooked." He pointed out the smoke left in mid-air indicating it never touched the ground. "The heat coming off that blast was almost too hot to handle."
The merchant stood as he shook his head. "I feel sorry for any poor bastard that was near it. There is supposed to be a spring over there where the nomads stop regularly."
The thought made Zelgadis cringe. Then Rashad said, "Look, something is burning." He looked.
Under the massive cloud of smoke, darker smoke was rising from the ground with a red-orange tint right at the horizon.
"Not much to burn unless you have a bunch of tents," Rashad continued, "It must be one of the larger groups."
Zelgadis didn't want to dwell on this any further. "What are you going to do now?"
"I guess I will have to go back." The merchant shrugged. "Most of my wares are ruined anyway."
"It seems like such a waste for you," the chimera said.
"It is part of the business. This is not much worse than the first time I came out here. The nomads are not kind to those who take advantage of their resources. You cannot blame them. Water is a precious commodity out here. And what about you?"
Zelgadis thought for a moment. The rest of the merchants by now have gained their bearing and were rounding up the horses and what was left of their possessions. He had hoped for Rashad's help after crossing the desert, but now the idea of continuing on his own seemed ludicrous after what he had just witnessed. No telling what else might fall from the skies.
He sighed. "I guess I better take this as a sign to turn back."
It was one of the most beautiful spring mornings Seyruun had seen in recent history. Princess Amelia literally bounded out of her bed with a smile as bright as the sunlight flooding through both sets of large double doors flanking her bed. She danced in it letting her light pink nightgown billow out as she twirled. A week! A whole week to myself!
Being so busy the past year with recovery work in Taforashia left her with little time to take care of her regular duties, let alone to breath. A lot of travel was also involved, and Amelia could have sworn she had visit every major city of the Eastern continents a dozen times.
Each trip was largely uneventful. She devoured every adventure and romance novel she could get her hands on to pass the time during the long carriage rides. It was enough to give anyone brain fry but she didn't care. Audrey, her personal handmaid, warned not to take any of it too seriously. 'Real love never plays out like a novel,' she would always say, 'Once you have your first heartbreak you will never look at them the same way.'
What does she know. Amelia skipped over to one of the double doors and flung them open to let fresh air in. She's only a little older than me and never had a relationship before.
The princess plopped down in front of her vanity, adjusted a shoulder strap and began brushing her dark unruly bed head. In a month she will be nineteen finally. Just one last trip to see Pokota next week and then the last minute planning for the parties would start. She made sure to send out her invitations early enough so they would reach their destinations any day now.
Thank goodness Lina actually bothers to write every once in a while. Filia and Zelgadis hadn't missed a beat writing the last two years. Amelia eagerly awaited their monthly updates especially when she was on the road because it gave her something to look forward to after each trip. I wonder if Zelgadis will be able to make it.
In the last letter Amelia got from him, he ranted on about how he didn't want to go back South. It tickled her when she read the part about getting sand in places where it would take months to clean out. With a body made out of rock that must be tough. She giggled so hard her cheeks turned pink and had to put down the brush.
Amelia knew she should not laugh. It did not matter to her, but it was important to him. The last time he came to visit he did not take her disappointment too well. It was not because he had not found a cure, it was because he could not stay because of it. She had been so lonely lately and even Pokota could not spend much quality time with her. Audrey spent more time lecturing her nowadays like a mother hen. Amelia missed the days when they played together before she became her handmaid.
Sighing, she checked her hair in the mirror to make sure nothing was out of place, then walked over to her wash room to clean her teeth and face.
When she finished she grabbed a fluffy white towel and gently patted her face. As she lowered it from her eyes, Amelia noticed the room brighten for just one second. She sat the towel down and trotted out to her balcony to check what was going on outside.
The loudest sound Amelia had ever heard in her life brought her to her knees with a yelp. It was followed by a strong earthquake shaking the palace, and the princess curled herself up in to a ball with hands over ears.
Something in her room smashed on the floor. Amelia managed to turn her head and saw the small flowery vase she received as a birthday gift from Filia last year in pieces beside her dresser along with less breakable items scattered all over the carpet. A couple of panes on the double doors cracked, and in less than a minute it was over.
Amelia was too scared to move. She remained crouched on her balcony making sure nothing else was coming.
Shouts were heard all over the palace grounds. Feet pounded the hallway outside the bedroom door. A female voice was shouting for the princess. "AMELIA! AMELIA!" It barged in without knocking.
A young woman in a blue-gray work dress with a frilly white apron and wavy light brown hair tied up in a matching bow ran to the balcony somehow missing every object in her path. Amelia stayed put until her handmaid reached her.
"Oh gods, Amelia, are you okay! It's Audrey, honey look at me!" Audrey forced the princess' head up and lowered her hands from her ears.
"I-I'm o-okay," Amelia stuttered. She hated seeing Audrey so scared. Her hazel eyes always turned a stormy blue whenever something upset her. "D-did you see it?"
"See what?" Audrey asked, a little calmer now but confused.
The princess pointed. "There was something that lit up the sky brighter than the sun. It was only for a second…"
"C'mon Gourry! You don't wanna get left behind now do ya?" Lina shouted over her shoulder as she ran down the boardwalk towards one of the piers.
Far behind her a tall blonde swordsman ran as fast as he could. "No fair, Lina! You had a head start!"
"That's what happens when you lose!" the red-headed sorceress taunted. They had another one of their eating contests that morning and Gourry lost again leaving him with the bill. Lina had sprinted out of the restaurant before he could protest.
She skidded and turned left on to the pier with the biggest ship at port weaving around sailors and travelers. Lina always insisted traveling in style while at sea. This particular ship was heading Southwest to a large island just off the West Lands as the new (not really) continents came to be known. The island harbored a prosperous city that was a popular tourist destination in the West with its luxury resorts, hot springs (of course!), and rumors of a vast treasure trove buried somewhere underneath the city.
As more and more travelers came back with these stories, each one wilder than the last, Lina found it hard to resist. And when she found out about the resorts and hot springs, well that just did her in.
Lina halted at the loading ramp to allow her protectorate companion catch up. I've been giving him way too much grief about this trip lately. Poor jellyfish. She smiled fondly at Gourry who was still at the far end of the pier and turned her gaze Westward. If everything goes as planned, we could swing by the mainland and surprise Filia!
It had been too long since they had seen the dragoness, and the only updates they received were through Amelia's letters.
Lina continued to stare at the bright crystalline water listening above the chatter to Gourry's footsteps getting closer. A sudden flash off the water's surface blinding her. She winced and turned away.
"Hey, Lina, what was that fla-"
Gourry was cut off by a deafening clap that made everyone in the vicinity cover their ears. They only had a few seconds to recover, then the pier began to shake violently.
Lina felt herself pinned down by a pair of very strong arms that wrapped around her head as soon as she hit the pier. Her head spinned and barely registered the fact the rest of her body was held in place by another laying on top.
Through the muffled screams and rattling wood she heard a voice say in her ear, "I've got you."
Across the Demon Sea the sound carried past where the old barrier once stood reaching every seaside town of the Western continents and beyond. In a certain town not far from the shore, on a certain street, on the third floor above a certain mace and pottery shop, a young blonde dragoness was startled awake.
She sat straight up from a deep sleep with a gasp and quickly scanned the room with half-opened blue eyes. Her long braided hair stuck out everywhere. "Huh-wha…?" Filia said in her next breath.
The soft glow of a nearly full moon peaked out through the creamy thin curtains beside her bed gently illuminating her neat little room. Nothing had moved from its spot and no way anything on the lower floors could have made such a noise because it had a distinct echo that often came with thunder…or gunfire.
A quick glance through the window confirmed the sky was crystal clear. Well, whatever it was, it isn't moving any more.
A small cry in the next room compelled Filia to get up from her bed. She adjusted the shoulder of her white long-sleeved cotton nightgown that had a tendency to fall down whenever she made a sudden movement. Being early spring it still got chilly at night and the sudden rush of cold air after leaving the covers made the young dragoness shiver as she crossed the floor to the door.
Val was laying in his crib fussing about the sudden disturbance. His tiny wings flittered and his short scaly black tail twitched twisting up the soft deep blue blanket that was tuck around him. At the sound of Filia's gentle hushes and coos he began quieting down and allowed her to lovingly gather him up to her chest.
"Shhh…There, there, hon. Shhh…I've got you." She felt Val's small snout bury into her nightgown and she giggled softly.
"Wut wus zat, Boss?" Jillas mumbled sleepily peeking in from the hallway. His fox ears were as mussed up as Filia's hair.
Fila sighed. "I have no idea. It's clear outside."
There was a low roar beneath them making the walls shudder for half a minute. Val whimpered into his mother's chest and Filia held him tight while trying to remain on her feet.
Jillas latched himself to the doorframe until it was over. "Oh no! Zat can't be good!"
Distant shouts caused both of them to peer out the window facing the street. Lights came on in almost every building, and a combination of pajama clad citizens and city militia were gathering below.
"Oh dear," Filia whispered.
She tried to make out some of the faces seeing if she could recognize any of them. Mrs. Gillet from next door, who had more kids than she could count, was standing outside her tailor shop with her oldest son talking to Neils who was in the middle of night patrol. A teenage girl came running out of a side street, and judging from where she was headed Filia guessed that was Janna, a local artist, coming to check on her pots she fired in one of the shop's kilns just the other day.
"Jillas, unlock the side door. One of the girls wants to check on her pots." Jillas nodded and made his way downstairs.
Filia remained at the window looking for more faces. Gravos must be dead asleep not to hear any of this. She was almost envious. Val rarely slept through the night as it is.
An odd glint caught the corner of her eye. She looked closer into the growing crowd and could have sworn she saw a familiar looking cloak and purple hair. Filia shook her head and looked again. He was gone.
"I'm not getting enough to sleep," Filia said wearily. She lifted Val from her chest. "And its all your fault."
The tiny ancient dragon made hungry sounds, not happy that he was taken away from where his next meal was coming from.
Filia laid him back on her chest. Val began clawing her nightgown. "Alright, hon. I know its time. But lets go downstairs first."