~* SLAYERS: FALLEN STARS *~
Hey, long time, no update! I was sick for a good part of May, literally bed ridden for a few of those days, so I wasn't able to get this chapter out in a timely manner. I had to use what little time I had left to finish a costume project for the convention my sis and I go to every year. I got the ticket before I became unemployed and so decided not to waste it. It was a lot of fun, though sadly, our cameras weren't working most of the time, so no actual con photos. . A lot of other people took my picture, but its always hard for me to find those darn pictures. I'm glad at least one person gave me a specific address this year. I've got to make a few improvements to the costume before taking any more on my own (in case you didn't know, I went as Filia again. ^_^ ) If things go well, and I find a job by September, I'll be going to another con where there will be an actual Slayers group. One of them came to me at the last convention and begged me to come because the needed a Filia!
On a bit sadder note, the Spring storms have been doing a good deal of damage close by, and I'm sure most of you from the US already know what happened in Oklahoma (I'm in North Texas). Thoughts and prayers please as they continue to clean up the mess. I didn't think that tornadoes could get that big. They said the base was TWO miles wide at one point! Pretty scary. All this unusually wet weather is also what's been making me and everyone I know very sick. A very wet Spring indeed. Now we're supposed to hit our first 100 degree day by the end of this week too. Ouch.
Alright enough about me. Please enjoy!
Chapter 66: Mission Topsy-Turvy Part V
Visions of flames and dead bodies flashed before her. She was running, always running. No life, only death laid everywhere at her feet, no matter where she turned. The air was filled with screams, voices that belonged to people she loved, but they were nothing more than ghostly sounds emanating from the fire. The flames themselves were robbing her of breath, causing her legs to weaken and eventually collapse from under her.
Then everything blacked out.
A strange rumbling from a distance alerted Samira from the brink of consciousness. Her arms and legs felt heavy from shock of the impact. She opened her eyes and attempted to focus on the large figure standing over her, and her body jolted when she remembered what just happened.
Oldhin laughed at her reaction. "So, you remember! I'm impressed! This wouldn't be as near as much fun if you suddenly lost your memory again." He raised his massive broadsword. "I'm glad to finally get one good fight out of you, but I'm afraid this is goodbye-"
Pokota's voice shouted the words before Oldhin had finished and caught the monster completely off guard, engulfing him in a lance of bright light. When it disappeared, Oldhin was not there, but Samira guessed that it was only a retreat. The dread in her stomach hung there and refused to go away.
Pokota hopped on over when he knew the coast to be clear. "You okay, Samira? Are you hurt?" She was still staring at the spot where the monster had been. "S-Samira?" he asked again.
The second time caught her attention. "Y-yes…" Then she saw on of the prince's ears dangling by a thread with stuffing coming out. "Your ear!"
The prince touched it, understanding how strange it must look to her. "Oh, that's nothing. I'll just have someone sew it up, and I'll heal up just fine!" He gave a bright smile for reassurance.
Samira noticed movement in Gourry's direction and realized he was waking up. Ignoring the heaviness of her limbs, she forced herself off the ground. "Lets help him."
"Right." Pokota bounded ahead towards the blonde swordsman.
Then a ball of energy blasted Pokota back. Oldhin suddenly reappeared in front of Gourry and picked him up before he had a good handle on his sword knocking it out of his hands. The monster then proceeded to beat him up by hand.
Samira went after Gourry's sword, and with a fresh wave of energy coursing through her body she charged after Oldhin.
Oldhin threw Gourry away when he saw her coming and easily dodged her swings. As he flew out of her reach, Samira impulsively taunted, "I thought you said you did not rely on magic tricks to save your own skin, like Xellos!"
"Sadly, there has been a change in plans, and I must take my leave. I just wanted to give you a bit of information before I do," he said.
Samira could tell he was not pleased about it. Something must have happened to have changed his attitude so quickly.
Pokota came up beside her and was getting ready to cast another spell.
Her hand shot out in front of him. "Hold your fire!"
The prince gave her a confused look but complied.
Oldhin put on a more monstrously pleasant face and chuckled. "Yes, save that energy. You'll need it when you try to rescue those poor unfortunate desert dwellers when they begin dying by the thousands!"
"What did you say?!" Samira demanded.
"There's been quite a bit of fighting in the last couple of days between Xellos and one of our other lieutenants, and it looks like the inhabitants are caught in the middle," the monster happily explained.
Just as Oldhin thought, his little scare tactic was working. The desert woman's anger shriveled up, and the underlying fear came out to the forefront, making Gourry's sword she was pointing at him shake a little.
"I do not believe you," she finally said as evenly as possible. "Our people are not caught off guard so easily, and we have powerful sorcerers protecting us!"
"Suit yourself if you don't want to believe me." Oldhin shrugged. "But I doubt even your best defenses will hold out for long."
Samira refused to let her gaze up on him until he finally phased out, then she lowered Gourry's sword and let out a worrying sigh.
She was not bluffing. It was true that her tribe and other more nomadic tribes had a deceptively strong magical defense, but compared to that of Lina Inverse and Pokota, it was sorely inadequate in dealing with so many monsters at once. The best they could probably hope for was lay low like they would during the worst desert storms or take refuge in well hidden caves like the sand people. Moving into towns on the desert's edge would only make them more vulnerable and put a strain on resources in addition to what the monsters were already destroying. The desert itself was already a dangerous place even for its long-time inhabitants, and with an actual war going on, things could become desperate real quick.
Gourry was able to get up despite his numerous injuries and gave Samira a good pat on the shoulder. "Thanks Sam. That was close! If I let a monster kill me like that, I don't think Lina would ever forgive me!" He laughed, but then he noticed she was not listening, just staring at the pavement. "Sam?"
"I need to go home," she said, not lifting her eyes.
"But why?" Pokota asked. "He could be bluffing you know."
Samira nearly shoved the sword into Gourry's hands, then turned around to look for her own. "He said Xellos was involved, so we need to find Xellos."
"But he could be anywhere by now!" Gourry exclaimed, then walked after her with Pokota following. "Sam!"
She did not look at either of them until she had both her swords in her hands. "Then we need to go back to the last place we saw him. If he was severely injured, then chances are he is still hanging around."
A virtual lightning storm descended on Lina and Zelgadis sending them scrambling to find shelter. The random strikes kept them on their toes and unable to put up a proper barrier while Grau was laughing his head off at them.
"Makes you wish you took more dancing lessons huh, Lina Inverse?!" the monster priest taunted as he watched her stumble around and run into the chimera, who was not faring much better.
"Aaargh! I HATE DANCING!" Lina screamed as she jumped from the ground to avoid yet another blinding strike.
"Then stop dancing and head for that building in front of you!" Zelgadis yelled at her. He was doing his best, but the constant strikes and the horrible tingling in his ears was making him a little disoriented.
"I'M TRYING! I'M TRYING!" But she did not want to leave Zelgadis as she noticed him wobbling in his steps like he was ill. Lina managed to get close enough to grab his arm. "Come on!"
The storm had lasted for a good couple of minutes before the strikes let up just enough for them to finally make it to the abandoned building.
"That won't work!" Grau called out, still laughing. He could not remember the last time he had so much fun. His rod sparked again as he gathered more energy to charge his next attack.
"We better keep away from the windows," Zelgadis warned, trying to fight off a new wave of tingles assailing his ears.
"No problem there!" Lina knocked over a heavy table to cover them and pulled him down behind it. "You okay, Zel? You looked even more uncoordinated than me out there!" she nervously laughed but with an undertone of real concern.
"Y-yeah…" He shook his head. "This is why my ears hate natural lightning storms-"
He was cut off by a loud bang causing the building to shake.
Lina snuck a peak above the table to see out the window. "Looks like he's trying to take the building down…"
Another strike shattered all the windows, and she ducked back down again.
"…and lead us out in the open again…" Zelgadis added.
Something clicked in the sorceress' brain, and she looked at him. "Wait a minute, aren't you part rock golem?"
The tingling in his ears was making his stomach turn, so he did not immediately get what she was hinting at. "Yeah, what of it?"
"Well, lightning can't conduct through rock, right?" Lina asked matter-of-factly.
The chimera raised a suspicious eyebrow. "What are you suggesting?"
She smiled, and the building shook violently.
He hated that smile. "OH, HELL NO! I'M NOT BECOMING YOUR DECOY!" he yelled incredulously.
Lina put a hand on his shoulder. "Relax! If it works out, you'll only be hit once."
Zelgadis' head was now beginning to hurt. "Once can still be enough to kill me!" To him, this was worse than being used as an anchor.
Another direct hit caused some of the walls to crack.
Lina was not going to let him back out. "Just listen for a minute, will ya?! We don't have much time!"
Grau was getting ready to send yet another strike when he saw the chimera calmly step back out into the middle of the street, sword drawn, where he had created a shallow ditch a few minutes ago. Thinking that this was a silent challenge, he lowered himself to hovering just above the street, all the while keeping an eye out for Lina.
"About time you two got a little more organized. I was starting to wonder," he taunted.
The chimera said nothing, just stared him down.
The monster priest chuckled, understanding that he was the diversion. "Sacrificing yourself just so she can get a clear shot at me is useless." He raised his rod. "But that's just fine with me!"
Zelgadis braced himself and raised his sword. "Astral Vine!"
"That won't work!" Grau shouted as he pointed at the chimera and unleashed another bolt of lightning.
Zelgadis smirked and quickly chanted at the same moment as he gripped his sword with both hands, "Earth below me, submit to my will!" and thrust the tip of his sword into the torn up street. "DUG HAUT!"
Just after the spell left his hand, the bolt struck his body.
As the ground shook violently, Grau only had a second to wonder why the chimera cast an earth spell before spikes pierced his sides. He yelled in pain and surprise as he flew away to escape the ground.
Then he heard Lina's voice yell, "ZELAS BRID!"
A ribbon of light wrapped itself around Grau's waist, where he was already injured, and injected him with a shot of destructive energy directly into his astral body. He let out a torturous scream like he was being burned to death from the inside out.
When it was over and the ribbon faded, the monster priest's limp body fell to the street from mid-air, his metal rod clattering beside him.
Lina cautiously flew down from an upper story window of the building she had been hiding in and looked over to Zelgadis. The chimera slowly lifted himself up from the ground looking a little worse for wear but by all appearances was okay.
She then walked over to where Grau lay barely conscious and too stunned to move.
"That was a little present from Beastmaster," Lina smilingly quipped. "She'll owe me for bringing you down. I told you, You'll never know what I can pull off at the last second."
"D-don't… thi-ink… y-ou can… bring… me… d-down… so… e-easily…" Grau inched his arm towards his rod as he gasped between each painful word.
The sorceress kicked the rod out of his reach. "Man, you just don't wanna to give up, do ya? Do you really want me to finish you off that badly?" The suicidal nature of the monster race honestly baffled her at times.
As Zelgadis struggled to get back on his feet, he felt the odd tingling in his ears again. "L-Lina! Get away from him! Now!"
Lina half-turned at the sound of her name but quickly brought her attention back to Grau right before he touched her leg and gave her such a shock, her body was thrown back several feet landing in an unconscious heap.
"LINA!" Forgetting his own pain, Zelgadis forced himself up and run to her side. He rolled her over into his arms and checked her heart.
Nothing. No breath, no heartbeat, nothing.
"Oh shit…" He slapped her face. When he got no response, he growled. "Dammit, Lina! Wake up!"
Grau gave out a weak laugh as he grabbed his rod and pulled himself up. He took a small step forward then stumbled, clutching his middle where there was a visible tear across his waist. "That damn woman is too cocky for her own good!" He took another more careful step. "All it took was one little shock through her body, and she's dead."
Zelgadis knew he was exaggerating, he had spent enough time in laboratories to know that a person could easily survive if they were given proper resuscitation in time, but Grau was obviously not going to give him the chance. He needed to think of something and fast.
The Astral Vine was still glowing on his sword, so he picked it up and held it in front of him. The only other thing he could probably do at this point was put up another protection barrier.
"Shield yourself while you can," said Grau, reading the chimera's mind, "I'm going to grind you two into the ground!"
Since there was not enough of a charge in the air at the moment, he decided to fall back on a more conventional attack. His metal rod sparked wildly, drawing power directly from himself. With his opponents in a vulnerable position, he would not have to worry about exerting his astral body too much and irritating his wounds.
At this moment, Zelgadis picked up a faint chanting voice, and could have sworn it was coming from the building they were hiding in earlier. Most of the words were undecipherable, except for one familiar phrase: source of all souls…
He put up a barrier right before Amelia's voice rang out. "RA TILT!"
Grau was caught in the blue flame just as he turned his head in response to her words. There was no scream from him this time, at least, not one that was audible over the roar of energy that slammed into his body. When the flame faded, there was no more monster.
Zelgadis waited for a few seconds before finally letting his barrier down. He did not want to keep his hopes up, but he guessed the priest decided to retreat for the evening. A Ra Tilt was not going to be enough to finish Grau.
Amelia ran out to him from her hiding place. "Zelgadis! I'm sorry I didn't stay behind, but Miss Filia and I-"
"-Never mind that! Lina isn't breathing!" He said as he laid Lina flat on her back. Immediately he opened her mouth to begin resuscitating her.
Amelia got to her knees beside them. "Do you need my help?!" she asked anxiously.
Zelgadis placed his hands on Lina's chest to restart her heart. "If this doesn't work, I might!" A few pumps and he was back to her mouth.
All Lina remembered before she blacked out was Zelgadis calling her to get back and turning to find the monster reaching out for her leg. After that, there was complete silence for what seemed like a long while, but eventually, she heard his voice again. She felt the hard stone of the street on her back and someone pressing her against it. It stopped then someone put their lips on hers.
Her mind still felt a bit fried, so her first reaction was to kiss them back.
Zelgadis flinched and recoiled.
Amelia watched him pull away and cough, then heard Lina mumble Gourry's name. Realizing what just happened, she gasped and gave Lina a good punch to her side. "Miss Lina! That's not Mr. Gourry!"
Lina rolled over and wrapped her arms herself as she coughed. "O-oow…"
Zelgadis blushingly recovered himself. "Dammit Lina! What the hell were you thinking!"
The sorceress groggily got up a looked between the two of them. "W-wha… What are the two of you talking about?" Then she looked down the street where she last remembered standing. "Where's Grau?"
"Amelia chased him off while you were out!" he irritatingly explained.
"And what were you doing?" Lina asked.
"TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!" Zelgadis bellowed.
"He was trying to resuscitate you, Miss Lina!" Amelia was blushing madly as well. "And then you…y-you…!"
Lina looked at her curiously, still not quite understanding what just happened. "Wait a minute, what are you doing here, Amelia?"
Amelia did her best to compose herself. "Miss Alyssa took off, so Miss Filia and I went looking for her."
"W-WHAT?!" Lina yelled. "You left Jean ALONE?!"
"I wouldn't worry," she reassured. "He has Miss Filia's pendant after all."
The sorceress shook her head not sure if she understood correctly. "But I thought you said you and Filia were out looking for Alyssa!"
Amelia suddenly became a little nervous. "Y-yeah, well, Miss Filia left the pendant with him, so he could protect Miss Christine and her house in case the monsters came around."
Lina got into her face. "And where exactly is Filia?!"
"Let me guess," Velcarr quipped. "You want to know what Lord Dark Star wants with your girlfriend, the sweet little Gold, am I right?"
"That and where is Dark Star?" Torrin replied, his eyes boring into the monster. "Its clear this is just another trap."
That just made the monster chuckle. "Oh, you knew this was a trap from the start, but Lord Dark Star is here, watching every move you make."
Torrin shook him as he laughed some more, not amused at all. "Bluffing won't get you anywhere!"
"But I'm not bluffing. As for your precious Gold, Lord Dark Star's reasons for her are of a more personal nature, if you know what I mean." Velcarr gave him a nice big smile for emphasis. "A curiosity to him, and good leverage against Beastmaster and her priest."
"Does it have anything to do with Val?" Torrin asked, unfazed.
Velcarr gave a little shrug. "Possibly. The Ancient dragon is all I can think of that would make your girlfriend valuable at all. Though Xellos seems to be taking a great interest in her beyond his lord's commands. Edina is insanely jealous of her."
Torrin flinched lightly at the mention of Xellos. He pressed the blade of his axe against the monster's neck, making a clean cut into the skin. "I'm not all that interested in your insider squabbles. Now, where is Dark Star hiding?!"
Velcarr cringed with pain the cut was giving him, but it did not curb his taunting. "Careful what you say. Edina might kill your girlfriend during one of her fits."
The axe blade pressed deeper into his neck. "If she does, then I'll put her down as well."
After another painful wince, the monster replied, "Such… un-dragon like behavior..."
Torrin pressed blade in further, tiring of his mockery. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not like Lord Milgazia or most other dragons. I'll give you one more chance, Monster, to stop stalling and tell me where your lord is, or I'll cut your head off!"
Velcarr's eyes had drifted to his left not really looking at anything in particular, until Torrin noticed something piqued the monster's interest. The Dimos took only what he intended to be a quick glance, but what he saw caused his jaw to drop.
About a block down, Filia was running across the street in a great hurry like she was trying to find something. Val was nowhere to be seen.
Torrin was about to call out her name when Velcarr wrenched himself away and phased out. By the time Torrin took a second look down the block, she was gone.
Forgetting Velcarr, he immediately ran towards the direction Filia had been going, hoping that no monster was following her and that Val was safe, whatever Filia's reasons may be for not keeping the hatchling with her.
"All right, I'm almost done with this cut," said Alyssa. Despite all the blood that was still on Xellos' face, the massive cut on his cheek was almost gone now.
Xellos nodded as still tried to suppress his discomfort. A little longer, and he would be able to heal himself without much of a problem. Then he can take care of that leftover holy magic Alyssa mentioned that was clinging to his astral body. How he allowed it to stay there without him noticing was a complete mystery to him. Xellos had no desire to be fused with anything regarding holy magic and the gods, even if it came from Filia. At least it did not make him feel any different than before. I guess I got used to it by hanging around her a little too much.
Through his pain, he sensed a familiar presence lurking nearby, but he was not sure until she appeared mid-air in front of him.
"Oh, so you are still alive," Edina said with mocking thoughtfulness as she gently floated to the ground.
Alyssa jumped up and held her sword in front of her without hesitance. The monster appeared to recognize her but did not give any voice to it.
Instead, she stuck to taunting Xellos. "Have you seen your precious pet dragoness, Xellos? I had an interesting little chat with Lina's brave little apprentice, and it turns out she's roaming around without any protection on."
Alyssa felt herself gasp in realization of what this meant. I should've been there! she mentally berated herself. Jean was possibly seriously hurt or worse, and Filia was completely exposed now. And what happened to Miss Amelia?
With a lump of sudden regret over her selfish decision forming in her throat, she looked over at Xellos whose eyes told her that he was not at all pleased with the news.
Curious. Practically everyone has been in danger at some point tonight, but the only one the priest ever appeared to be honestly concerned about was Filia, and the other monster somehow knew how to hit a nerve with the mere mention of the dragoness.
"Oh my," Edina scoffed, "must be frustrating to be in your terrible state and unable to save her."
Alyssa turned her attention back to the giggling monster woman and placed herself between the two of them.
Edina was forced to acknowledge her now. "If you don't want to die, honey, I suggest you move out of the way. This is between me and Xellos."
"Go ahead then. I've already crossed swords with your lord Dynast, and he didn't seem too keen on fighting me." Her words were steady, and her voice, calm. Alyssa was not going to let this monster scare her away.
Edina narrowed her eyes and was about to say something when she was cut off by Xellos' laugh.
"She's right, Edina. Funny, Dynast thought nothing of picking on me when I was severely injured, but when this unassuming young woman stepped up to defend me, he turned tail and ran. The former Demon Dragon King had far more spine and wasn't afraid of taking me on at full strength, or taking on little human girls for that matter."
Edina growled as more veins popped in her forehead. "You liar!" she yelled and pointed. "Don't forget! I was the one who blasted you into that damn building! And don't you DARE compare Lord Dynast to that traitor!"
Xellos just kept on laughing as he soaked up her anger, feeling a million times better. "Oh yes, that fluke? That was probably just your jealousy showing."
"I'M NOT JEALOUS OF YOUR FUCKING PET DRAGON!" Edina's shrill voice echoed against the building, and her hands were balled into fists so tight her knuckles turned white.
"Could've fooled me! You're the one whose obsessed with whom I spend my time to the point you ruin your lord's plans. Do you seriously think you'll win my affections that way? Honestly, if I had to choose between you and a dragon, I would choose the dragon." It was too much fun. Xellos felt like he was taunting the old Filia, except Filia had a strange sweetness and purity to her that Edina seriously lacked, but at the moment, he was willing to take anything he could get.
It took Edina a few moments to calm down a little and finally let up on her clenched fists, but her face still remained flushed with rage. "Is this your indirect way of telling me you actually like that bimbo blonde? I think Lord Dynast gave you one too many hits to the head!"
Somehow, the 'bimbo' rubbed him the wrong way. "And Lord Dynast needs to put you on a leash after all the trouble you caused throwing a fit! You just can't get over the fact that not everyone's impressed with what's between those things you dare to call legs."
"Oh, and what you have is so damn impressive?!" she shot back. "Your pet dragon certainly doesn't think so!"
"Well, it obviously impresses you enough to fawn all over me every chance you get during the past several hundred years!" Xellos gave her a nasty grin. "There must be something you're not getting from those countless flings you like to brag about that only I can provide."
Still clinging to her sword, Alyssa was now staring at the two of them like they were crazy. The whole argument sounded like a lover's spat. However, upon closer inspection, she could have sworn Xellos' face had more color to it, and the cuts and bumps on it were less pronounced than before.
Edina barked out a laugh. "Ho, what an ego! I can certainly live without providence from you!"
Xellos simply grinned a little wider. "It didn't look that way when I had you on your back earlier."
"You're just sore because I took you down with my own power!" she pointed out.
"Don't forget that I was the one who drew it out of you," he countered with a little wave from his finger. "I bet you didn't know your lord actually thanked me! Now, whose the useful one?"
Edina did not like that. "I HAVE LORD DARK STAR'S FAVOR!" she screamed.
"Yes, the job of official bed warmer is rather strenuous, Xellos chuckled as she was running out of clever things to say. "Be thankful he gave you a break tonight."
Edina's darted to Alyssa at his last sentence, then her voice dropped dangerously low. "I don't care if Lord Dynast wants to keep you alive, I'm going to pound your face in with everything I've got-!"
Alyssa's sword whipped out in front of her again before she could take a step. "You have to go through me first."
Again, Edina gave Alyssa a strange look of familiarity and seemed hesitant to take her up on her challenge.
"If that's what you want," Edina finally said.
The monster grabbed her sword to yank it out of her grasp, but the power she had infused her blade with burned to the touch. Edina screamed and pushed it away. Alyssa remained where she stood, encouraged by the reaction.
Then Edina conjured up spears made out of air and threw them. A barrier went up in front of Alyssa before she could react, and she turned to see Xellos just smiling with his eyes open.
"Keep out of this, Xellos!" Edina warned.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to interfere," he acidly replied, still grinning.
Then her body began to glow with the same ghostly blue as before when the whole fight began. "In that case, I'll just have to pound you both at the same time," she said with a strange coolness.
But somewhere out of the dimly lit street to her right came an echoing voice that seemed to bounce off too many walls to tell who it was, or whether it was male or female.
"Anak Salm Natak Sakum! CHAOTIC DISINTEGRATE!"
Hmm, I wonder who that was... You'll just have to wait and see!
I found this really interesting note in the Kanzakadex about the Astral Vine. Apparently, it enchants the ground around you, so earth spells that normally don't have any affect on monsters can be used against them. Pretty cool. I just had to use it! And there were a lot of surprise attacks in this one wasn't there? I didn't think much about it until I gave it a couple more read-throughs before posting. Well, I like them, so there!
This is the last of this fighting arc, so now we'll be wrapping things up in the next chapter and moving on to the next story arc! Yes, exciting, no? I can't wait. This next arc is what I've been waiting for! ~NB~