A Final Gift
"No, Xellos!" Filia rushed forward, putting herself between the ghost and the Mazoku, her arms outstretched protectively. "Don't do it. Leave her alone!"
Xellos turned his menacing gaze towards Filia, giving her a look that would have turned anyone else's blood to ice. She stood her ground, however, as he slowly walked up until he was standing mere inches from her.
"You were ready to destroy her just moments ago, Filia-san. Why are you so interested in protecting her now?"
Filia was slightly shorter than the Mazoku when she was in human form, so she had to crane her neck up to look at him. But she set her jaw stubbornly, regardless. "I targeted Zelgadis-san with that Assha Dist, not Amelia-san. I had no intention of destroying the ghost."
"Really?" He raised an eyebrow with depraved amusement. "Well that's unfortunate. Because I do intend to destroy her, after I punish her."
Amelia pushed away from Zelgadis and rushed over to Dova, limping as she did so from her twisted ankle. "Dova-san," she said to the frightened ghost as she plopped down next to her. "Stay calm, I'm going to exorcise you while we…"
"Oh, I don't think so, Amelia-san."
Xellos raised a hand, and black streams of energy emerged from his fingertips. They shot out, swerving to avoid Filia in every direction, and headed straight towards the ghost. Amelia instinctively fell back to avoid the streams, and heard Dova scream as her spirit body was encased in a transparent skin of black, smoky energy.
Filia turned to look behind her and saw the ghost girl quivering inside the casing, whimpering pitifully. "Xellos, stop it!" Filia turned back to the Mazoku. "That girl has lived inside of your body for over 100 years! Isn't that punishment enough?"
Xellos shrugged. "No, not really." He sneered, and his lavender-eyes glowed with magical energy. Filia could hear Dova scream again from behind her, but she dared not look.
Amelia looked over at Xellos in horror, before turning her attention back to Dova. The ghost was still floating a foot above the ground, but she was curled up in a fetal position, face down, her hands clasped in front of her as though in desperate prayer. Her face was scrunched up in pain and fear.
"So dark. So dark! So dark! So dark!" She repeated it over and over again, and Amelia reached out a hand to try and comfort her. But the miasma surrounding the ghost had a strong aura of evil, and she recoiled.
"Xellos-san!" The princess screamed. "Stop this! She doesn't deserve this!"
The Mazoku glanced over at Amelia, still smiling. "I'm afraid I have to disagree with you, Amelia-san."
"Xellos," Filia placed both hands on his chest. "You owe me a favor, remember? I'm ready to collect on it now."
The Mazoku looked back at the dragon priestess, and his expression went from menacing to confused. "Excuse me?"
"You owe me," she repeated firmly. "Don't forget about destroying Val-kun's bookcase a few weeks ago. I think you owe me a favor for doing something like that."
"Filia-san," he chuckled with amusement. "It was you who destroyed that bookcase."
The dragon priestess was undeterred, and she narrowed her eyes at the Mazoku as she tried a different approach. "Amelia-san and I removed that ghost for you. We are the ones who cured you of the marks, so you owe us big time!"
"That's right!" Amelia shouted back. She started to stand up, but her injured ankle protested and she decided against it. "After everything you put me through, and everything we went through to help you, you owe us!"
The Mazoku stood up a little straighter, glancing over at Amelia, and then smiled down at Filia who still had her hands on his chest. He finally shrugged, "Alright then, I guess I owe you." He asked his next question even knowing what her answer would be "So, what is it you two want from me?"
"Release Dova-san and let us exorcise her!"
Xellos sighed in mock disappointment. "I just agreed to do a favor for you, and this is what you ask of me? Do you have any idea the kind of reward you are throwing away here?"
"That is what we want, Xellos."
The Mazoku opened his eyes again, looking down at the dragon. He leaned forward, forcing Filia to bend her arms to keep from being pushed back. She held her ground, however, even when she found his face mere inches from her own.
He brought an index finger up between them, so close she could feel the warmth from it on her nose. "Filia-san, you know what I am and what I can do. " His voice was just a whisper, but the words rang loudly in her ears. "I have the power to give you almost anything you want. I know the location of manuscripts that could increase your holy power or teach you the truth about the ancient dragons. I know the location of ancient artifacts of great power. And you know I have enough power to destroy almost anyone who threatens you."
He chuckled. "And yet, here you want to throw all of that away on a ghost? An insignificant little parasite that has caused us nothing but trouble since she made her presence known? Really, Filia-san? Amelia-san? You want to waste it on her?"
"Don't try and tempt us with baubles and texts, Xellos-san." Amelia tried to sound unafraid, despite the slight tremor in her voice. "Release Dova-san and we'll consider your debt paid."
His answer and actions were so quick they caught Filia off guard, and she almost stumbled forward when he suddenly stood up straight, turning around and walking away from her casually.
With a flick of his hand, the shadowy blanket around Dova vanished, and the ghost gasped in surprise. Amelia tried to reach out to comfort her, but her hand went straight through her.
Xellos walked over to a nearby tree, sitting down at its base as he watched Filia join Amelia by the ghost girl. He could see from the corner of his eye as Zelgadis, of all people, started to chuckle at him.
"Funny how not even the mighty Xellos can resist the charm of a determined shrine maiden."
Xellos cracked one eye open to look at the chimera curiously, and with slight annoyance. "I beg your pardon, Zelgadis-san, but I was contending with two determined shrine maidens, if you hadn't noticed."
"Dova-san," Filia said as she kneeled down next to the ghost. Dova was sobbing openly in her hands, like a traumatized child. "Don't be afraid. You're going to be alright now."
The ghost removed her hands from her face, looking up at Filia. She sniffled, wiping her eyes of the tears. "You're going to exorcise me now, aren't you?"
Amelia smiled sweetly at the ghost girl. "Do you want to be exorcised, Dova-san? Do you want to be free?"
The ghost looked up at Amelia, her green-eyes strangely penetrating. "I don't know. Will I be punished when I get there? I've heard stories…" She trailed off, a slight quiver in her voice.
Amelia took on a somber expression. "What you did was wrong, Dova-san, I hope you realize that now. I can understand why you did it, but you caused a lot of unnecessary trouble for us."
Dova bowed her head submissively and answered faintly, "I know."
"Although, personally," Filia intervened. "I think you've been punished enough. And I'm sure you have loved ones who are waiting for you to join them, so I don't think you have anything to fear from the afterlife"
Dova half-smiled, turning away from them to stare into the distance. "I haven't seen my Daddy in so long. It would be nice to be with him again."
Xellos continued to watch from afar, shaking his head. He found it amusing that so many humans, particularly priests and shrine maidens, had this image of a wonderful afterlife. Granted, if humans truly understood the Sea of Chaos and what lay beyond, there would probably be far more ghosts refusing to be exorcised. Maybe it was best that they kept their illusions.
"Alright then," Filia said as she looked over at the princess. "Amelia, are you ready to cast the..."
Amelia and Filia both looked up at the ghost, who had brought her hand up anxiously. "Wait, please, I…" She pursed her lips, turning her hand into a gentle fist and pressing it against her chin nervously.
"What is it Dova-san?" Amelia asked.
The girl took a deep breath, more as a habitual gesture considering she didn't need to breath, and let it out with a sigh. "I just…I want to make it up to you two…for saving me from Xellos."
The ghost dared to steal a quick glance at the Mazoku, who simply smiled and waved at her cheerfully. She shivered and looked away quickly.
Amelia looked at her in confusion. "I'm not sure what you could possibly give us as a reward, Dova-san. You're a ghost."
Dova glanced at the princess sadly. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can give you, Amelia-san, except my eternal gratitude…but…" she turned to look at the dragon priestess. "I know of something I can give to you, Filia-san."
"Huh?" The dragon priestess looked at her confused. 'What kind of reward could a ghost possibly give me?'
Dova waved her hand at Filia, gesturing to come closer. The dragon priestess did so, and the ghost leaned over, whispering into her ear.
They stayed like that for several moments, but because Filia's back was to him, Xellos couldn't see her expression. It didn't take him long to suddenly realize what was going on, and he bolted upright. "Hey! Wait a minute!"
The two of them ignored the Mazoku. Dova finally pulled away, smiling sweetly at Filia. "Okay, I'm ready to go now."
Filia stood up, stepping aside to give Amelia some space. The dragon priestess stole a quick glance over at Xellos, who was staring at her with unbridled curiously, and she looked away quickly. A little too quickly.
Amelia clasped her hands in front of her as if in prayer, and began chanting the spell. "You who are eternally lost, wandering in a place where you do not belong: May the light of purification separate you from your ill-fated existence. Go now to the world beyond our world."
A bright red circle appeared beneath the ghost girl, and shimmering lights floated around her. Dova looked up from the soft, hallowed light, and smiled. "Goodbye, everyone! And thank you!"
A stream of light shot up from the center of the circle, causing Dova's translucent hair and clothing to billow around her. But the ghost girl was not afraid; in fact she seemed more at peace than she had ever been before. She looked straight at Amelia, before letting her eyes squeeze shut in an adorable grin. Her smile could still be seen even as she slowly lifted into the air and vanished from sight.
The night air became quiet again, interrupted only by the occasional sound of a cricket or wind-rustled leaves. Zelgadis stood up from his sitting position, walking over to stand beside Amelia.
The princess looked back at him and she smiled. "I'm so glad that's over."
"Yeah," he smiled back as he helped her to stand on one foot, supporting her. "Me too."
"Ugh," Filia put her hands to her back, stretching. "I don't know about you two, but I'm exhausted. I say we head back to the inn and get some sleep."
The dragon priestess turned to head back to town, but found a certain Mazoku suddenly appeared out of nowhere, completely blocking her way.
"Hey, Filia-san?" His hands were behind his back, and he was smiling innocently at her. "Now that Dova-san is gone, you want to tell me what she whispered to you?"
She glared back at him. "I have nothing to say to you." She side-stepped him and began walking back to town. Much to her annoyance, Xellos continued to follow.
"Oh come on now, Filia-san. What did she say?"
"I don't have to tell you."
"It was something about me, wasn't it?"
"I never said that."
"Oh, come on Filia-san!"
"Get away from me, you creep!"
Zelgadis and Amelia watched them walk out of sight, before turning to each other questioningly. A simultaneous shrug was the only exchange they made before Zelgadis wrapped his arm around Amelia and helped her back into town.
"You guys did what?"
Everyone around the breakfast table cringed at the red-headed sorceress, who was standing and leaning on the table, glaring furiously at Filia, Zelgadis, and Amelia. Gourry was scarfing down his breakfast, seemingly oblivious to the tension. Of course, it was more likely he was just happy Lina's wrath was directed at others for a change, giving him a chance some food without a smackdown.
The inn, which was really just the main lobby where they could get their complimentary breakfast, was empty. They suspected most of the guests were still asleep. Even the waiter had escaped to a back room, supposedly to get some additional work done. It left them completely alone.
"I thought we were going to wait until morning to exorcise that ghost. How dare you guys leave me out of it!"
"Lina-san," Filia spoke up nervously. "There wasn't anything you or Gourry could have done. And we needed to get rid of her as soon as possible."
"You could have waited!" Lina sat back down again, crossing her arms in front of her angrily. "Geez, I can't believe you guys went and removed those marks without me. After everything I went through to help! This is unforgivable!"
"Not everything has to be about you, Lina," Zelgadis said quietly.
He wasn't quiet enough. "What was that you said, Zel?"
Her voice was menacing and the normally cool chimera stared back at her terrified, raising his hands up defensively. "Uh, nothing, nothing at all."
"I'm sorry, Lina-san," Amelia spoke up. "But at least now we don't have to worry about someone coming to kill me."
"For leaving me out of the grand finale, Amelia," Lina glared at the princess, who sweat-dropped in response. "I'm considering killing you myself!"
"Good morning, my friends!" Everyone turned towards the door of the inn, where Xellos had just entered. "It's a beautiful day outside. I'm assuming you are all getting ready to head out."
"Well you sure are chipper, Xellos," Lina said as she turned to the Mazoku. "Although, I guess I can't blame you."
Xellos walked over to Filia-san, leaning over the dragon priestess's shoulder. Filia narrowed her eyes in annoyance, but said nothing. "Good morning, Filia-san. I trust you slept well."
She picked up the cup of tea she had in front of her before speaking. "I slept just fine, thank you." Her eye twitched with anger as she sipped her tea.
Lina could only stare curiously at Xellos' sudden and surprising interest in Filia.
"So, Filia-san. Are you ready to tell me what the ghost girl told you last night?"
She growled under her breath. "Don't you have some assignment from your Dark Lord to take care of? I'd think your orders would be backlogged considerably."
"I have a little time to spare," he answered, still as cheerfully. "Enough time to find out what Dova-san told you. So what is it, Filia-san?"
Filia smirked to herself, putting her tea down. She then raised her hand up, one index finger over her mouth. "It's a secret!"
"Ah, don't be like that!" Xellos whined. "I know she told you something about me. I think I have every right to know what it is."
"Absolutely not, Xellos-san. She told me in confidence. I'm not telling you anything."
He opened one eye, smirking down at her mischievously. "You know I'm going to continue following you until you tell me."
She bowed her head in annoyance. "Oh, I think that ghost girl put a curse on me," she whimpered.
Filia stood up, and Xellos finally backed away to give her room. She put a few coins on the table to pay for her tea.
"Well, I'm going to head home now, everyone. I need to get back to Val-kun and my shop."
Amelia jumped up from her seat, running around the table and giving the dragon priestess a big, friendly hug. "We'll miss you, Filia-san! I'll come visit you in the outerworld someday, promise!"
Filia smiled, returning the hug as well. "I look forward to that, Amelia-san."
The dragon-priestess nodded at everyone, before heading to the door. Much to her frustration, Xellos followed. He even went so far as to open the door for her, and received a glare as a "thank you," before Filia stepped through.
"I guess we should head out, too," Zelgadis said as he stood up from the table. "Amelia and I are long overdue to get back to Seyruun."
"Ah," Lina looked at them with disappointment. "I was hoping we could do more traveling together. We all had such great times, after all."
Amelia smiled cheerfully at the sorceress, "You can always come with us to Seyruun, Lina-san!"
Lina thought about it for a minute, but then shook her head. "Nah, I got other places I need to explore. I was just in Seyruun before running into you guys, remember?"
Amelia didn't hide her disappointment, and she leaned down and gave Lina a hug. "I'll miss you, Lina-san."
Lina looked mildly uncomfortable, but she returned the hug, patting Amelia on the back. "Yeah, yeah, I hate these sappy goodbyes. You two just get out of here already!"
Zelgadis put a hand on Amelia's shoulder, and the princess released Lina. Before she went, however, she rushed over to Gourry, who was still eating, and gave the surprised warrior a hug as well.
Gourry swallowed his food, putting his fork and knife down he could hug her back. "Take care, Amelia! Don't forget to write, okay?"
Amelia let him go, and Zelgadis finally took her hand, leading her out of the inn. "See you two around."
Lina and Gourry watched as the couple left the inn. The two of them now sat in the empty eatery alone, and Lina let out a long sigh. "Ugh, Amelia can get so horribly sentimental sometimes."
Gourry grinned, "I think it's sweet of her, Lina. She's just showing how much she cares."
Lina wanted to roll her eyes, but she didn't. Her frowned as she looked at the door, and she turned to her companion with a somber expression. Gourry was no longer stuffing his face, but was instead staring back.
Lina furrowed her brow, and the warrior looked confused, and a bit apprehensive. He took a quick glance around the restaurant, and realized for the first time they were alone.
Gourry gulped as he looked back at Lina. Seems his little reprieve from her wrath may finally be over. "Something wrong, Lina?"
Lina continued to stare at him for a few more moments, not saying a word. Then, without warning, she pounced on Gourry, running her hands through his pockets frantically. "Where is it, Gourry? I know you have it hidden here somewhere."
"Aah!" Gourry cried out, trying to push the sorceress away. "Lina, what are you doing? Gah! That tickles," he laughed suddenly. "Lina, stop that!"
"Hah! Found it!"
Lina pulled away, holding up her prize triumphantly. Gourry took a moment to regain his composure before looking to see what it was she took from him. What he saw caught him completely by surprise. She was holding up the diamond engagement ring.
Lina stared at it for a moment, making one quick, mischievous glance at Gourry, before casually slipping it onto her finger. She turned her hand to look at it, and smiled in satisfaction. "That's better! Let's go, Gourry."
She stood up, casually walking out; but Gourry could only sit there, dumbfounded. Lina got all the way to the door before realizing he wasn't following her, and she turned back in annoyance. "Gourry, you coming?"
The warrior blinked twice, before a huge smile lit up his face and he stood up from the table, rushing over to her. "Lina! You…does this mean you…?"
"Well, duh, you idiot," she said as she held up her hand with the ring on it. "Of course I'll marry you. Now are you coming or what?"
Gourry suddenly lifted Lina up in a bone-crushing hug. "I can't believe it! Do you mean it, Lina?"
"Gourry…I…can't…breath!" She said between gasps of air. The warrior put Lina down, but kept his hands on her shoulders, looking happier than she'd seen him in a long time.
"This is wonderful, Lina. And we're right on the border to Zefielia, too. We could go visit your family, and start the wedding plans and…"
"Woa, woa, woa," Lina held up her hands to interrupt Gourry, and he stopped his rambling. "Gourry, I said I'd marry you. I didn't say I'd do it right away. Geez."
"Huh?" He looked at her in confusion again.
"There are still plenty of places out there to explore, so I have every intention of making this a very long engagement. I am far from ready to settle down."
Gourry relaxed a bit, looking mildly perplexed, and even a little disappointed, but he smiled back at her as he always did. "Alright, Lina. Whatever you want. But don't wait too long, okay?"
Lina gazed up at him, giving him an uncharacteristically caring smile. "I promise Gourry. It won't be too long."
She stood up on her tip toes, pulling the warrior down and giving him a gentle kiss on the lips. Then, just as quickly, she spun on her heels and headed out of the inn.
Zelgadis and Amelia stepped out of Burto and headed west, towards the capital of Seyruun. The warmth of the morning sun was soothing to the traveling couple, and Amelia stretched her arms over her head, smiling.
"I'm so glad we are finally going home," she said as she brought her arms down. She looked over at her traveling companion, who was smiling back.
"We can only hope we don't get stopped this time. I'd like to make it to Seyruun without another life-threatening disaster."
"Ugh," Amelia made a face, "You had to remind me. I sent a letter to Daddy telling him everything, but I'm sure he must be worried sick. Best to get there quickly."
Zelgadis smirked to himself. "Well, let's not dawdle this time, Amelia. I say we head straight home so we can get there as soon as possible."
The chimera turned to walk away again, but hesitated. Something caught his eye and he turned to look at the princess. She hadn't moved at all, but stood staring at him, her expression now soft and misty-eyed.
She smiled at him, blinking a tear away. "You…you called Seyruun home again."
Zelgadis could only give her a baffled look. "Well, yes. It's not the first time I've done that, Amelia."
"I know," she said, shaking her head as though tossing the sentimentality aside. "It's just…I don't know, I guess it didn't sink in before. I'd dreamed for a long time that you might see my home as yours."
Zelgadis opened his mouth to say something, then shut it with a defeated sigh. He smiled as he shook his head in disbelief. "You can be so strange sometimes."
Amelia grinned back. "You know you wouldn't have me any other way, Zelgadis-san."
"No, I suppose not."
Zelgadis reached his hand out to her, and Amelia rushed forward, taking it into her own. He held her hand for several moments, looking into her eyes and his expression softened. Amelia looked back in concern as Zelgadis lifted up her hand, gazing down at it reverently. She looked as well, watching as his stony fingers tenderly held hers, his thumb caressing her ring finger where the mark used to be.
"I couldn't help but think back," Zelgadis said quietly, "To the time before we found out Xellos was marked. I'll be honest, Amelia, I…really liked having a link with you. I wasn't sure if you missed it, but I know I did."
Amelia blinked in surprise. "Zelgadis-san, you never said anything before."
The chimera shrugged, bringing her hand down to their sides so he could look at her again. "I didn't think it was worth mentioning before."
Amelia glared at him, "Hmph, not worth mentioning? That's so typical of you."
Zelgadis blanched, "Excuse m…"
Before he could finish Amelia practically leaped forward, planting a quick kiss on his lips as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled away from him, grinning mischievously. "I wouldn't have you any other way, Zelgadis-san."
Xellos was in the outerworld, watching the Physical Plane from his comfortable spot in the Astral Plane. He was outside of the pottery shop that Filia owned, watching the goings-on inside.
Filia had just come home. He had watched her convert from her dragon form to human outside of town, and walk the rest of the way. She was greeted at her door by Jillas, the fox-beastman, who ran up to welcome her right away. Another beastman, Gravos, greeted her as well. Gravos looked more like a half-troll, half-reptile, and he brought with him, holding his tiny hand, a young Val.
Xellos grinned. The little dragon hatchling had taken the form of a small human boy with shoulder-length turquoise hair, and he gazed up at his mother proudly. Val was now indistinguishable from a normal human toddler, just as long as you ignored the long feathery wings on his back. Oh, and the equally feathery tail.
Filia knelt in front of her adopted son to bring herself to his eye level, clapping her hands proudly. She then gathered him up in a tight, loving hug, singing her praises to the smiling boy. The whole scene was so touching it made Xellos feel a tad bit queasy even from the Astral Plane. He continued to watch anyway, as Filia pulled out the bag of sweets she had purchased in another town to give to a very happy little dragon.
Every time Xellos had had some time to himself, he'd find Filia on her flight back and harass her about Dova's secret. Filia had stubbornly refused to tell him anything, so he had continued to pursue her. He had followed her into towns and cities that she visited along the way; he even tried to ride on her back as she flew in her dragon form, which infuriated her, much to his delight. He never knew she could tailspin so violently.
In truth, Xellos had a very good idea of what Dova had told her, and it only annoyed him somewhat. Trying to drive the secret out of Filia was just an excuse to continue to pester her as often as he wanted. And he intended to pester her on a regular basis for as long as he possibly could.
Author's Notes: The Holy Bless chant was created by me, based off of rough translations I found on KanzakaDex.
Big thanks to Koochikoo and Ichiban for Beta Reading my story and helping me with story and ideas. Also a big thanks to my friend and roommate, Mojosam, for his input and for putting up with my moodiness while writing. Love ya all. 3