The Last Mazoku

By nightelfcrawler

Warnings: None

Okay so... in chatting with an rp partner, we ended up discovering that we had been a part of the same fandoms some 10+ years ago. She ran a website that hosted some of my old fics... which made me drag out some old dvds that I'd saved my webpages on... and lo and behold, I found these old fics hanging around still and decided heck why not bring them back. So here they are, a trip down memory lane! These were written in the late 90's and early 2000's when I went by too many psudonyms to remember. I actually forgot who I was until I physically saw the fics listed and went 'oh crap I remember those!'. Ahh memories.

Be warned... these were my first attempts at writing and are likely riddled with grammar, spelling and other noted errors. I've read through them, blushed furiously that I used to write like this, and decided to put them up anyway as-is with no revisions. So please enjoy, but don't bother correcting or whining, they shall be ignored!

Lina sighed as they lay down inside the abandoned barn and got themselves comfortable as thunder rolled overhead. The steady beating of the rain soothed their questioning minds... What to do now? They'd been traveling forever trying to find out about the Claire Bible, and had only met with dead ends...

Her head snapped to the side when she caught some movement out of the corner of her eyes. Walking inside, completely dry, was Xelloss. She sat up and glared at him. "Welcome back."

He smiled sunnily and plopped down. "Why thank you Lina-san!" He chirped, then took a fish off the fire and began munching on it directly out of the flame, a happy smile on his face. Lina just made a disgusted sound, and rolled over sighing, and let herself drift off to sleep.

It was about midnight, and Amelia sat up shivering. It was cold, the fire having gone out a while ago. She rubbed her arms and then stood up,
deciding to go find some firewood. She walked outside, and found that it had stopped raining. The moon was out crisp and clear, illuminating the entire land below her... She smiled quietly, then shivered and began looking for dry wood... eventually she reached the crest of the trees,
and stopped to admire the view. As she was lost in thought, she felt something hit her head, and saw a leaf drop to the ground. She glanced up curiously, and was surprised to see Xelloss-san lounging above her in the tree, his head tilted towards the moon. She smiled up at him. "Hello Xelloss-san..." She shivered again, realizing it was frigid out here.
"How long have you been out here! It's freezing!" She commented squinting up at him.

When he'd heard her voice, he'd glanced down and due to the shadows, she couldn't see his face, but she knew he was smiling at her. "Ah...
Amelia-san! What are you doing up so late in the night? I thought you would be sleeping by now."

She shrugged. "Couldn't sleep cause it was so cold. The fire went out,
so I came looking for wood..." She peered up at him. "You haven't been up there all night have you?" She questioned, worry in her voice. "Is it because of Zelgadis-san and what he said to you today? That's not fair,
you'll catch a cold out here!" She determined firmly.

But to her surprise, her speech was met with bright laughter.
"Iyaaaa..." he chuckled. "I'm quite content out here actually." He looked out across the valley. "And the view is worth it."

She smiled softly. "Can I come up Xelloss-san?" As in answer, he lowered a hand to her, and she took it, pulling herself up into the tree, and seating herself on a branch adjacent to his. "Thank you." She rubbed her arms and glanced out across the sight. "It is pretty..."

He nodded, then noticing her shivering, removed his cloak and handed it to her. She looked up at him in surprise. "Won't you be cold?" She asked quietly. He shook his head with a smile. "Domo." She said quietly,
wrapping it around herself. She was much warmer now.

He was gazing up at the moon, and the way the light fell, made Amelia have shivers. His face looked so sinister and...evil... but Xelloss-san was a good person... why did he give her the shivers? She glanced down at her hands. "Ano... Can I ask you a question Xelloss-san?" She asked nervously.

He glanced at her with his smiling closed eyes. "Of course."

"...ano..." She hesitated. "What are you really after when you travel with us, and please don't say 'sore wa himitsu desu'..." her eyes looked pleadingly up at him.

He regarded her with a calm quiet gaze. "Why do you want to know?" He asked gently, his eyes opening slightly and sending more shivers down her back.

She thought about that for a while. Then several minutes later she spoke. "Because I've been wondering for a while... You always seem to like playing tricks on us, leading us the wrong way, or we may think it's the right way, but it turns out to be wrong, and... and you're always by yourself, you disappear at the worst times, and you're just overly..." She hunted for the right word.

"Strange?" He questioned. She met his eyes, and saw their purple depths glittering out at her.

"That wasn't exactly the word I would use..." She murmured.

"But it's the truth isn't it?" He questioned.


He looked thoughtful. "What do you know about the order of the world Amelia-san?" He asked quietly.

She blinked. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, the hierarchy of the gods and lords."

She bit her lip. "Well... the Lord of Nightmares is the Creator of everything, and then there were gods and demons that serve under her..." She hesitated. "that's about all I know."

"Hmm... Yes well you're partially correct..." He leaned casually back.
"To put it mildly, L-sama is at the top. Then there are 8 Gods below her, four are the Mazoku Gods, four are the Ryuzoku Gods. Each has their own universe, and the two for ours are The Ryuzoku God Ceified, and the Mazoku High Dark Lord Shabaranigudo." He glanced at her. "Following me?"

She nodded. "Hai!" She was fascinated by this information. She'd never learned so much in school before, the instructors never knew anything about the ancient races or the hierarchy.

"Well, beneath each God, there are those who serve him. The Ryuzoku serve their god, and the Mazoku serve theirs. They are opposites of each other, good and evil if you will." He glanced at her. "That's how it is,
though humans often think of the dragons as Mazoku as well, calling them monsters since they aren't like the humans themselves." Amelia nodded in understanding. "What do you know of the two races?" He questioned.

She looked thoughtful. "Well...I know that the Mazoku are the demons.
And the Dragons... I guess I never thought of them as good though..."

"It's not so much good as they are the opposites of each other." He said quietly. "There is some good in light things, and dark things. The sun has things the moon does not, and the moon hides things from the sun."

She nodded, but still didn't quite understand. "What has this got to do with you, Xelloss-san?" His eyes glanced over to her, and she caught their dark glitter, and something inside of her froze. She glanced away hurriedly, not wanting to meet his eyes again. "I thought that both races died out a thousand years ago? During the War of the Monsters Fall."

"Hmm...close, but not entirely correct." He mused quietly. "There is a lot of history behind that war..." He trailed off.

Amelia sat their thinking about his words. "But... no one's seen dragons and demons for years... For more than that... They're just legends..."
She looked up, wanting to believe her own words. "They don't exist..."

He glanced at her, and she sensed a sudden sadness in his gaze. "That's not true Amelia... not entirely..." He sighed and crossed his arms.
"How much have you heard about the War of the Monsters Fall?"

"Well, that it happened about a thousand years ago... and it was a war that destroyed both races... That there were no survivors... And that the humans were the unexpected result of the war..."

His gaze snapped to her in surprise. "Humans an unexpected result?" He began laughing loudly, his cold laughter lighting the trees. "Oh my...
that's a new one."

She blinked. "What?"

He continued chuckling. "Humans existed during that time as well, but they weren't involved at all in the war. They were off on their own,
evolving and changing and whatnot." He waved a hand casually. "They had no part in the war... All they knew is that the war happened, and since then very few of both races have been seen."

She blinked. "You mean... Some survived the war?"

"Only a choice few." He answered quietly. "And even then, it was devastating for both sides."

She frowned. "Who won?"

He shook his head. "Well, if you consider the numbers lost, then the Ryuzoku won since they came out with more survivors." He looked at her.
"But, they only had a handful."

She bit her lip. "And the Mazoku?"

He sighed. "They were annihilated... except for one."

She gasped. "Only one survived? How horrible!" She stared at him in shock. "The last of their kind... how cruel..."

"War is cruel." He said matter of factly. "Life is like that."

She bit her lip. "So...what about Shabaranigudo that Miss Lina fought?"

"He was sealed long before, and his resurrection was a different case."
Xelloss replied. "Now that he's dead and the other parts of him dormant,
the one survivor is truly alone."

Amelia looked sad. "That's horrible... he must feel so lonely..."

"Yes.." Came the soft reply from Xelloss, and Amelia's eyes suddenly widened in surprise as she whipped her head to stare at him in realization. "Xelloss... don't tell me that... that..." She stared at him in shock.

He simply smiled, and made a faux bow. "Xelloss Metallium, ex-priest and general of her Lady-ship Zelas Metallium the Beastmaster." He widened his smile. "The last of my kind."

She stared at him in shock. "You're... a mazoku..." She whispered in surprise. "But... How can you have survived then... surely your parents..."

He chuckled dryly. "We are not created and born the same as humans are Amelia-san." He closed his eyes and sighed. "And we don't die unless we're killed."

She stared at him. "So... How old are you then..."

"Over 2000 if I remember correctly... I've lost exact count."

She stared at him. "Then... you were in the wars..."

He nodded. "Yes, I was."

She stared at him, thinking that through. "You must be powerful to have lived through it..." She murmured.

He looked surprised. "Well yes... but I was lucky actually." His look turned dark. "Or unlucky..."

"How so?" Amelia wondered.

He glanced at her. "Well, lucky because those stronger than I died.
Unlucky because now I'm alone." He sighed. "Although I could create more if I chose."

"More what?"

He grinned at her, and she felt that cold feeling again. "More Mazoku of course." He smirked. "That's how new ones are made, out of ourselves, or out of humans who choose to become one."

She blinked then shivered. "I see..." She felt totally frightened of him, but at the same time, she felt sorry for him. He couldn't help being what he was, even if it went against everything justice and righteousness stood for. She glanced over at him, and saw him polishing his staff with a loose piece of his shirt idly, not watching her any longer. "Um..." She started, unsure of what to say or do. "Wait... If you're the only one left, doesn't that upset the balance or something?"
She said quietly, puzzling over it.

He looked surprised, then chuckled. "Yes... it does." He stretched his arms up and sighed. "Which is why I'm here." She blinked in confusion.
He winked at her. "I'm here to restore my race, and due to that, I've gained..." He hesitated..." Much that I wouldn't have gained otherwise."

She blinked, but didn't press the issue. He confused her too much already. She yawned, and rubbed her eyes. "Well... I think I should go back to bed..."

He nodded and gestured a hand. "You can keep my cloak if you want, to help keep you warm. I don't need it for that."

She smiled gratefully. "Thank you Xelloss! I promise I won't tell the others anything about our conversation..." She looked up at him.
"That's what you want, right?"

She nodded, and started to try to climb down, but felt herself being lifted down gently in the air by a spell, though none of the spells she knew. She glanced up at Xelloss as she touched down, waved and headed back to the cave.

Alone in the tree, holding his staff against his chest and staring up at the sky, a lone Mazoku watched the stars with a thoughtful gaze in his dark eyes. "Someday.." He murmured. "I will get my wish."

Lina woke up rather groggily, and sat up rubbing her eyes, aware of the fog that hovered inside the cave as well as outside. It was bitterly cold, and she murmured a heat spell around herself to keep warm, and stood up stretching. She glanced around at the other sleeping people,
and to her extreme surprise, noticed that wrapped tightly around Amelia,
was Xelloss' cloak...

She frowned slightly, wondering what was going on, glanced around for the trickster, and not finding him, she went outside. It was thick fog everywhere around, and she couldn't see any more than a few feet in front of her. "Xelloss?" She called out into the dimness. She glanced around. "Where'd he get to now..." she then caught the movement of something, and turned to see Xelloss emerging out of the fog like a ghost. Sure enough, he wasn't wearing his cloak.

"Good morning Lina-san!" He said cheerily. "And how are we today?"

She scowled at the Trickster. "Just peachy, thanks." She looked him up and down skeptically. "So... Tell me why Amelia was wearing your cloak?"

He put both hands up in defense, his staff magically staying upright as he did so. "Yare yare Lina-san, it's not like that." He chuckled darkly,
and Lina began to wonder if he wished it had been. "She came looking for firewood, got distracted, and I lent my cloak to her for a blanket."

Lina looked skeptical, but didn't protest. She shrugged. "Make yourself useful and help me catch something to eat then." She headed towards the pond they'd passed on the road earlier that day.

Xelloss just smiled and followed her silently like a shadow. Lina kept glancing back at him warily, unsure about his quiet but cocky behavior.
Once they reached the pond, she crouched down and glanced into the water to see if there were any fish. Once she'd determined there were some,
she snatched Xelloss by the arm and threw him in the freezing cold water without another word.

He gave a startled yelp, and ended up in the water. He sputtered, coming to the surface, his staff having clattered to the ground luckily without falling in. "That was mean Lina-san." He whined.

"Catch some fish." She said casually leaning back on the bank and just smiling at him. "You always sit around and lounge while we do the work,
it's your turn this time."

He pouted again, but sighed and dove under the water. Lina watched him and then frowned as there didn't seem to be any movement underneath...
he should have come up for air by now... She sat up slightly worried as minutes passed by without any sign from him, then she crept to the edge of the water and peered in worried. "Xelloss?" She could see something swimming around below, and murmured an anti-water spell, and stuck her head in. Sure enough, there was Xelloss swimming after a particularly HUGE fish... In fact... Lina's face turned from a scowl to a worried twitching as the fish began to chase Xelloss up towards her... She leapt back just in time to see Xelloss burst out of the water howling as the gigantic fish chomped towards him with huge teeth.
Lina couldn't stop staring for some time, then calmly raised a hand.
"Fire ball." She yawned, and the fish was well cooked within seconds.

Xelloss stood there, gasping for breath, looking like a very well drowned rat. "Hidoi..." He murmured. "He would have eaten me Lina-saaaan." He whined.

Lina snorted. "Big baby." She examined the fish. "Never seen anything like this before..." She poked at it and half her stick fried off.
She yelped and stared at it. "What the..."

Xelloss walked up to it with squishing shoes and examined it. "Hmmm...
it has some powerful magic." He touched a hand to it before Lina could stop him, her eyes wide in horror, which changed to confusion as nothing happened to him. "Interesting!" He exclaimed.

Lina stared at him in shock, poked the fish again, and the same thing happened. She glanced at Xelloss again as the priest began to walk around the fish. "So... What is it?"

He seemed quite thrilled. "It's a rare type of demon fish!" He put a hand up in an instructing pose. "One thought to be extinct, the poison grubber."

She blinked. "How the hell did it get here then?" She questioned. "And can we eat it?"

He chuckled. "Oh certainly you can eat it!"

She stared at him, remembering the incident with his cooking back at the haunted tower. "Can we live if we eat it?"

"In that case, no."

She sighed. "I thought so." She sighed. "Well... Were there any other fish?"

"Sorry Lina-san. There wouldn't be with him around the pond."

She groaned. "Great..."

But then Xelloss held up a hand. "Chotto Lina-san. It's not a case of there's no way to eat this fish." He smiled at her.

She blinked. "Huh?"

"Wellll..." He started with a bright smile. "I happen to know a recipe..."

She rolled her eyes. "NO! Absolutely not! I remember what happened LAST time we tried to let you cook."

He looked hurt. "But that time I was TRYING to make it like that." He crossed his arms. "This time I'll cook it so that it will blow your taste buds away Lina-san." He smiled at her.

She looked skeptical, but nodded. "Well, what have we got to lose I guess... LEVITATION!" She cast on the fish, and then started walking back with Xelloss following, squishing as he went, and the fried fish floating behind them...

Of course, they naturally made quite an impression walking into the cave. Amelia's eyes went wide, Gourry scratched his head, and Zelgadis just stared. "Ano..." Gourry said scratching his head. "What have you two been doing...?"

Lina's face got bright red, and Xelloss' smile widened. "Lina and I decided to have an intimate ooof..." He clutched his gut as a hard elbow made contact with it.

Lina knelt down by the fire. "We got breakfast."

Xelloss was wringing his hair out, and Amelia looked up with wide eyes.
"What happened Xelloss-sama?" She asked quietly.

Lina glanced at him sharply at the change of title for the priest...that was peculiar.

Xelloss merely smiled and snapped his fingers, and he was dry. "Ah.. I decided to go for a little swim!" He turned back to the fish, and began working on it.

Lina began feeding the fire and sparked it quickly, then leaned back and everyone watched as Xelloss whipped out a chiefs hat, an apron, and lots of elaborate cooking-ware, and began moving faster than they could see on the fish. Within seconds, it was chopped up, and being saut ed then tossed in the air over the frying pan, the tantalizing smell filling their nostrils and making them all drool. Then, five minutes after he'd begun, he whirled around, threw the plates at them, fully loaded with kabobs of fish and some other things that were unidentifiable. "Bon appetite!" He said cheerily.

They stared at the food, their mouths drooling at the tantalizing smell.
"Oishiiii..." Lina murmured sniffing it. It looked very odd... But it smelled very good... Xelloss was waiting for them to eat with a broad smile on his face, and suddenly Lina was suspicious. "Wait, you're the chef, you taste test it first." She demanded.

He shrugged and took her plate and sampled a bite savoring it. "Mmmm,
oishiiiiii..." He murmured. "One of my best."

Lina took it back, and glanced seeing that Gourry was already devouring it eagerly, and showing no signs of poisoning. So she shrugged and tasted it. To her delight, it was the most delicious thing she'd tasted before. "Oishiiiii." She gasped. "Xelloss... I didn't know you've been able to cook like this!" She exclaimed. "Why didn't you say something!"

Xelloss just smiled. "You never asked."

Lina rolled her eyes devouring the food as the others did. "How did you learn to cook like this?" She asked behind mouthfuls of food.

He just smiled. "When you've been around to different places for as long as I have, you pick a few things up."

Lina's attention was brought about by Amelia suddenly coughing violently as if in reaction to something he'd said. Zel pounded her gently on the back while she recovered. Lina shrugged and glanced back to Xelloss,
only to find him gone. She blinked in confusion, shrugged and finished her meal.

By the time everyone had finished their meal, it was warmer out and the sun was beating down through the fog. They cleaned and packed, and when Xelloss still didn't show up, they exited the cave. Amelia glanced around, holding Xelloss' cloak in her arms, looking about for him worriedly. The others seemed less upset by his absence, and started off down the path in the direction they'd been heading.

Amelia finally followed, trailing behind Zelgadis with a hopeful look in her eyes, knowing that he wouldn't be likely to notice, but still...
The others continued along, each in their own thoughts, Lina making conversation once and a while.

Eventually they reached a wooded area, and Lina hesitated at the entrance. Something didn't feel right to her... She glanced at the others, who were looking at her questioningly. "What's wrong?" Zelgadis asked.

"Something about these woods..." She mused. "It doesn't feel...

"That's probably because they contain a strong negative aura." Came a disembodied voice from above them. They glanced up in surprise to see Xelloss lounging comfortably on the limb of a tree. He grinned down at them and then jumped down, causing Lina to take a step back.

"How the hell did you get in front of us?" Lina asked scratching her head. "We thought we left you back there..." He just smiled and waggled a finger, making her roll her eyes. "Yeah yeah, sore wa himitsu and all that."

He just smiled and accepted the cloak of his that Amelia held out.
"Thank you for letting me borrow it Xelloss-sama." She piped up with a smile.

"Hai hai." He said putting it back on.

Lina scowled. "What do you mean that it has a strong negative aura..."

He turned his head back to Lina and smiled. "Well, it is laced in evil energy."

They all peered into the forest, and Zelgadis crossed his arms. "Mazoku energy... and it's very strong..."

Xelloss nodded as the others looked apprehensive. "True! This forest grew up as a direct result of all the negative energy that was spent here a thousand years ago."

Their gazes wandered up towards the towering branches of green that spread out like fingers above them. "The War of the Monsters Fall?" Lina asked quietly. "Is that it?"

No answer was needed, and they simply watched the silent woods that held an eerie stillness that was unsettling. "So is this where it was fought?" Zelgadis posed.

"Iie, but this was where one of the greater dark lords was destroyed,
and a great number of dragon lords as well as all of their minions."
Xelloss said in a solemn voice. "The energy will remain permeated in the ground for a very long time."

Lina frowned suddenly. "How come we've never heard of this place before,
and how do you know about it...?" She peered at him suspiciously.

He just smiled more. "Most who enter rarely come out." He turned his head towards the woods and glanced in appearing deep in thought. "And I've never been inside myself, only heard about it."

"So... Should we go in?" Amelia asked with wide worried eyes. "It sounds dangerous..."

Lina rubbed her chin. "Yes... but then... it must have been some energy released to create such a powerful aura... just dead monsters won't produce something this big..." She glanced over at Zelgadis and he nodded in return. "It's possible the Claire Bible is inside here."

Amelia and Gourry exchanged glances and shrugged. "So... Let's go then." Gourry said shouldering his blade.

Lina shrugged and walked forward with him, Zelgadis and Amelia followed them, and Xelloss stood behind them for some time, watching them go.
After a while, Lina paused and glanced back seeing him standing there.
"Aren't you coming?" She called back. "You want the Claire Bible too don't you?"

He seemed to falter for the first time she'd seen him and she frowned.
"Well... yes I admit I do, but..." He trailed off.

"What's the matter Xelloss?" She teased grinning evilly. "You scared?"

He seemed to be slightly surprised by that, then managed a smile.
"Mm... It's possible."

She was taken aback by that, and the others stared at him as well.
Xelloss had never seemed the least ruffled, upset, or frightened by anything, and though Amelia was the only one who knew why, this disturbed them. "It's that dangerous?" Lina asked quietly.

He looked thoughtful, then slowly walked towards them and stopped a few feet from them. "I don't know, but being in this place brings..." He hesitated for a moment before continuing. "...bad memories."

Lina looked confused, Zelgadis looked suspicious, Gourry looked lost,
and Amelia looked sympathetic. "Well... are you coming or not?" Lina asked impatiently. He hesitated, then nodded. "Great, let's go." And with that she strode ahead quickly.

They walked for some time in silence and making only small talk as they walked further and further into the woods. The deeper in they got, the darker and more saturated with that negative aura it became. Lina Gourry and Zelgadis were watching their path warily for any signs of danger.
Amelia was walking beside Xelloss who was looking thoughtful. She turned her eyes up to him curiously. "Xelloss-sama?" She asked quietly in a voice the others couldn't hear.

"Hmm?" He glanced down at her, seeing distracted.

"You seem distant... are you OK?"

He glanced over at her with his eyes open, and it sent shivers down her spine. "This place gives me the..." He seemed to search for a word.

She blinked. "You and me both...what bothers you so much about it though?"

He sighed and gestured about with his staff. "It's... a Mazoku graveyard, Amelia-chan..."

She bit her lip. "Oh..." She supposed that made sense... His kin were buried here...forever in the earth. It would be the same if she walked through a famous battlefield where many of her own were lost.

They continued through the trees, until they came to a spot that seemed to be a thinning area... however, the aura was so overwhelming that each of their knees were shaking and their insides felt like jelly. They broke out into a clearing, and stopped with their eyes open and staring in astonishment. Before them was a clearing that seemed perfectly ordinary... only the grass was growing black... Not that it had been blackened by some flame or scorched, but growing black blades of grass... and in the center of it on a large obsidian boulder was a huge anvil with a sword carved out of some black substance and iron. It was completely still, and a single shaft of light streamed down to alight upon the sword...

The group stood there in silence for a long time, not speaking or making a move. Finally after long moments of silence, Lina spoke up. "So...
What is that?"

At the moment her words came from her mouth, there was a sudden movement from the sword and a brilliant ray of light shot out of it at a phenomenal speed... Letting his actions take his body over, Gourry barely managed to throw Lina to the ground beneath him to miss the beam,
but unfortunately for the individual behind Lina, the beam kept going... Zelgadis threw himself towards Amelia, and pushed her out of the way, but the beam struck him on the arm as he went down.
"Zelgadis!" Lina cried out and reached towards him, but had to throw herself aside to miss another beam directed at her.

Zel pushed himself up to his feet, but clutched his arm tightly with his hand, blood flowing freely through his pressure. Amelia gasped.
"Zelgadis-san!" She instantly brought her hands up and began healing,
but another beam was streaming towards them, and they flattened themselves to miss it. She continued her healing after it had passed,
and the others lay panting.

"What the hell is that?" Lina cried out loudly, and this endued an even larger beam from the sword which she barely managed to duck once again.

Xelloss calmly walked in front of her and peered at it from a distance.
Nothing happened as they sat for several minutes in silence, and Amelia finished her healing on Zel. Once she was done, they looked at each other. Lina scratched her head as Xelloss examined the sword and anvil from a distance. "So... why is that thing attacking us?"

The moment those words were out of her mouth, the sword shot another beam towards her... Xelloss raised a hand since he stood before Lina and raised up a barrier.

The beam shot through it.

His eyes shot open wide suddenly and a faint gasping choke emanated from his throat as the other looked on in horror. He gripped his staff tightly with shaking hands, his head lowered in shadows, then couldn't support himself anymore and slowly began to collapse backwards. Gourry,
quick to move, caught him as he slumped back, his staff clattering to the ground hollowly.

Lina rushed to his side, and her breath caught and a hand flew to her mouth in shock. Amelia and Zelgadis joined her, and their eyes widened as well. Xelloss' face was pale and his body was quivering slightly as sweat beaded his forehead. There was a large gaping hole in his chest,
that wasn't bleeding, but instead a shimmering black-purple was fuzzing the edges. "Xelloss!" Lina managed to gasp out, and she was thrown down as another beam of light from the sword shot towards her again.

They lay there staring at it, and Xelloss who was shivering and seemed in danger of passing out.

/Don't talk out loud! / Came a voice suddenly from inside their heads.
They blinked in surprise for a moment before realizing the voice was Xelloss'. They looked at him, and saw that his eyes were open just enough to see their purple depths shimmering out. /It's triggered by sound... / His mental voice didn't seem steady.

Lina swallowed, her eyes still straying to the gaping hole in his chest.
/What... Should we do then? /

His eyes slid closed and his breathing was harsh. /Try... approaching it quietly.. Pull it out... /

Lina almost shouted out loud, but managed to clasp a hand to her mouth before she spoke. /Are you CRAZY? / She saw everyone wince at the volume of her mental voice. /You want us to get closer to it? /

Amelia was kneeling by his side, attempting to heal his wound, but nothing was happening... In fact, as she tried to use her magic, he seemed to spasm as if in increasing pain. Lina's hand shot out and gripped Amelia's wrist quickly. She found that she couldn't speak mentally anymore, and realized it must have been Xelloss' ability which was now dwindling. She simply shook her head and leaned down to whisper a barely audible explanation to Amelia. "Stop, you're only hurting him..." She glanced furtively at the sword, and was relieved to see that it had no response. It hadn't heard her.

She bit her lip, then sighed mentally and cast a wordless Ray Wing, and flew towards the sword. The others watched wordlessly, their breaths held in apprehension. The sword had no movement, and as she flew around it, she was surprised to see that the opposite side of the sword was white...with gold trim. She frowned, wondering if she should touch it...She didn't know what it was, nor what danger it might have if she tried... seeing what it had been capable of doing, by damaging Zel's stone skin, and passing through Xelloss' magic barrier, she wasn't about to underestimate it for having a trap on it. She glanced back to the others who were watching her with a worried look, and then glanced back to the sword. She took a deep breath, and reached a hand out very slowly towards the sword.

She closed her eyes at the last moment, and took one more breath, when suddenly something strong gripped her hand barely within inches of touching the metal. Her eyes flew open to see someone standing there before her. It was a woman with shocking blue eyes and blonde hair,
dressed in white. "Don't you dare touch that." She snapped out loudly in the clearing, causing the others to wince for fear of the sword triggering again. When nothing happened, Lina glanced at it worriedly.
"Don't worry, I disabled it." She said, still holding Lina's hand with an iron grip. "Now, explain yourselves. Why are you here? What do you want with the holy sword?" Her demeanor was one who was very angry, and Lina had the feeling that she didn't want to mess with her.

"We... came in search of something, and then found this sword here."
Lina stated, trying to jerk her wrist from the woman's grasp and failing. "It attacked us, so we needed to find a way to stop it."

The woman seemed to scowl. "Of course it attacked you." Her gaze jerked to the group standing at the border of the clearing and her eyes narrowed dangerously. "What is that... /thing / doing with you." She spat out bitterly, her eyes cold flames of fire.

Lina's gaze fell back to the others, and saw them looking at Xelloss.
"He's a comrade." She stated blankly. "What does that have to do with anything?"

The woman seemed to grow colder. "A comrade of his is an enemy of mine."
She spat out, squeezing Lina's hand harder.

Lina winced in pain as the woman's hand dug deeper into her wrist. She was loosing feeling in her hand... "Look... I have no idea what's going on here." She threw a glanced back to Xelloss, wondering in her mind what was going on here. "But he's wounded and needs healing...
and it doesn't look like healing works on him, so if you'd be SO kind as to release us before he dies..." She kept her gaze evenly locked with the woman's.

The woman snorted. "It's too late for that. He was hit by an astral attack. It will kill him, slowly and very painfully." Her voice was unemotional and cold, and Lina felt an inner rage begin to build up inside of her.

Amelia was holding Xelloss' hand in hers tightly, as if he'd vanish in an instant. Gourry still supported his head and watched silently, a worried look on his face. Zelgadis was staring at Xelloss with a suspicious look on his face. Lina closed her eyes, anger twitching on her brow, and then there was a huge explosion as she threw a fireball at the woman. She fell back smoking slightly and coughing, and Lina was running back to the others. She past them, and after they blinked slightly and realized what was happening, they followed suit. Gourry scooped Xelloss up, and Amelia grabbed his staff, and they dashed after Lina.

After running a far distance from any known path, they paused panting heavily to look to see if they were being followed. After seeing or hearing nothing out of the ordinary, they all sat down gasping for breath and trying to breath normally from their fast run. Amelia crawled over to Xelloss' side as he lay on the ground on his back where Gourry had placed him. His face was strained in pain and concentration, sweat beaded on his forehead, and his face was ashen pale. The hole hadn't changed, in fact it looked as if whatever it was that had hit him was spreading like tendrils up and down his chest. Amelia put a hand on his forehead, and felt it was icy cold... that startled her. "Lina-san..."
She turned her head towards the others. "He's getting worse..."

Lina crawled over to his side and took his pulse, not finding it, and examined the wound in his chest. Her brows furrowed. "I've never seen anything like this..." She mumbled. "What's going on here...?"
Xelloss' eyelids flickered slightly and opened the smallest amount. Lina peered over at him. "What can we do to help?" She asked him looking baffled.

He took a shaky breath that sounded hollow and rather ragged. "Nothing..."

They exchanged glances. "Come on Xelloss... This isn't time for games."
She snapped.

His eyes slid shut. ""

Amelia gripped his hand tightly, though it was stone cold in her grasp.
"There's got to be something we can do! You can't die!"

His head moved slightly in a negative motion. "None...astral attacks... most dangerous for me...that one...too much..."

They glanced at each other, and Lina scratched her head. "But... I thought that astral attacks only hurt Mazoku..." Her voice trailed off as it hit her, and everyone but Ameila at once. "Oh..."

He grimaced slightly, and then suddenly, his form began to waver before them, and he arched in pain, and then suddenly he underwent a complete transformation before their eyes. His skin turned pitch black and spread throughout his body like a spreading disease. His back arched as thick midnight feathered wings burst out of his back, his hands grew long claws and his featured underwent a slight twist. What lay before them now was something that resembled a black skinned elf with fangs, wings,
and talons...

Amelia's eyes were wide, Gourry was looking confused, Zel looked grim and smug, and Lina looked surprised. "What..." She began staring down at him with astonishment. "You're a... a mazoku? But... That's impossible!" His face looked more relaxed now, but his breath was coming softly and faint. Lina reached forward to shake him. "Oi! Listen when I'm talking to you!" She shook him harder, but there was no reaction...
She leaned back and bit her lip. "He's out cold..."

Zelgadis leaned forward and took a small dab of his blood from the wound and sniffed it. "Yeah... and he's not going to live if we don't do something." He stated coldly. "If a Mazoku can't hold their illusion anymore, they're really bad."

Amelia stood up. "We have to help him Lina-san. He's the last of his kind." Her eyes were firm with that determination she was known for.

They looked up at her. "The last?" Lina asked. "Then there's no more Mazoku anymore after all... You've known what he was for a while haven't you Amelia..." She didn't need a verbal answer, Amelia avoiding her eyes was enough. She glanced down at him. "I wonder how he survived the wars?"

There was complete silence as they sat there not knowing what to do.
White magic was negative on him, only hurting him more. There were no black magic healing spells... and the had no idea what to do. After some time, Zelgadis spoke up. "Well... this is getting us nowhere."

Lina rose her eyes to him, snappishly. "Well, do YOU have any ideas?"

He shrugged. "No. There's no other Mazoku, so there's nothing that'll help him."

Lina glanced up, catching something he'd said. "What do you mean, since there's no other mazoku? What if there was?"

He shook his head. "Well, I've heard that other mazoku can lend life force to each other and such." He shrugged. "If we had an angry crowd then that'd do the same thing, but with only the four of us, it's hardly enough to help him."

Lina glanced at Xelloss thoughtfully. "So... if there WERE other mazoku then he'd be OK..." She sighed. "But there aren't any?" She glanced at Amelia, and received the answer. "Damn... so we just let him die?"

There was no answer from anyone, and they sat there thinking for some time, before they realized that daylight was fading. They began to set up camp, and started a fire, then sat there silently. Xelloss was barely breathing now, and almost didn't seem to be alive. Amelia sat by him, a worried look on her forehead as she watched him.

"So what now?" Zelgadis said, in an effort to make conversation.

Lina shrugged. "We'll see what happens..." She trailed off. "I just wish I knew what to do... I know so little about him, or his kind even..." She sighed.

Gourry leaned back against a tree. "What were your parents like Lina?"

They blinked and looked at him. "Huh? Where'd that come from?" Lina asked puzzled.

Gourry shrugged. "I've just been wondering for a while. We never talk about our families, and I wondered what yours was like."

Lina scratched her head. "Uh... Well I guess we can talk about that..." She shrugged. "My parents were nice I guess... My mom liked to work a lot in the kitchen, or out in the garden, and my father ran a woodshop in town...uh... I have an older sister... and well,
uh...I dunno, that's about it." She glanced at Gourry. "What about you?"

Gourry leaned back casually. "Me? Oh, my parents were great. We lived in Sayfield up the river in a big house. My dad was some sort of professor of something, and my mother was the town librarian."

Everyone stared at him in disbelief. "You're kidding..." Lina said wryly. "Your family lived in the richest place in all of the country,
and they were both really smart?"

He nodded ecstatically. "Yep! We had a lot of dogs too!" He looked fond.
"I miss Poopkins."

That brought everyone cracking up hysterically, and he blinked as they laughed for several minutes. By the time they'd finished, they were exhausted. "Wh...what about you Zel." Lina said, wiping tears from her eyes. Zelgadis shrugged wordlessly. "Come on, you gotta share, we all are." She prodded.

He sighed. "Well... my parents weren't rich like blondie's were..."
He leaned back against a tree. "They were merchants... And I had to work everyday to earn enough money for food...which is why I wanted to become a swordsman, to earn money and become the best."

Lina nodded. "So that's why you're so passionate about everything, eh?"
She smiled. "What else?"

He shrugged. "Well... nothing really... The only high point in my life turned out to be the lowest when Rezo took me in." He looked bitter. "I can't believe that bastard was related to me..."

They all stared at him. "Huh?" Lina blinked. "How so?"

"Grandfather or something." He shrugged. "I don't consider it much."

They decided not to press him. "What about you Amelia... I mean, we know Phil well enough..."

She shrugged. "Well, Daddy raised me after Mommy died giving birth to me.." She said quietly. They looked sympathetic. "But we had fun!
Except, we never did find my sister..." She looked up. "She ran off after Mommy died, and we never saw her again."

"Amelia..." Lina murmured looking sadly at her. "I'm sorry...what's your sister's name?"

"Gracia." Amelia answered. "I really want to see her again.. I want to ask her why she ran off... the only thing I have to remember her, since I was too young really when she left, is the picture in the palace." She sighed and glanced over to see with some surprise that Xelloss' eyes were open slightly. "Xelloss-san!" She bent over him, and the others glanced over as well.

"He's awake?" Lina craned her neck to see.

Amelia knelt by him and helped him raise his head a bit. "Are you feeling better?"

He managed a faint smile. "If having no feeling is better than pain..."
His voice was back to normal, but it sounded much weaker than it had been previously, and the hole in his chest, though it was closed, was still the same black color and seemed to be spreading even faster.

Lina noted his evasion and decided to change the subject. "So, what about you Xelloss, what about your family?"

He blinked in slight surprise. "Mine?"

"We were all sharing about our family." Amelia explained.

He blinked uncertainly. "I..." He frowned. "It's been a while since I tried to remember them..."

Gourry cocked his head to the side. "You don't remember your family? Did you get amnesia?"

Everyone rolled their eyes, and Xelloss managed a tiny chuckle, but winced afterwards. "No... only that with new experiences and lots and lots of time, one forgets their past life..."

Lina frowned slightly. "Wait... You mean you weren't always a mazoku?"

He smiled slightly, closing his eyes. "Iie.." He whispered.

They seemed to be slightly surprised at that. "Well... You were human then?" Lina asked gently, seeing the strain on his forehead.

"Mmm..." He murmured faintly, and Amelia shook him slightly and he seemed to wake up again. "Sorry... what?"

Lina's gaze was one of worry at seeing him drift off like that. "I said,
you were human once, right?"


Amelia shifted his head in her lap so that he could see upwards at the others without difficulty. "How old are you Xelloss-san?"

"...uh..." He twitched slightly at that. "...about 2000 or so..."

They stared at him with incredulous looks. "That old?" Gourry said scratching his head. "You look good for your age."

They all sweatdropped at that. "...thanks..." Xelloss managed wryly,
then coughed suddenly, some black liquid rising to his lips and trickling down his chin. Amelia wiped it away carefully.

Lina bit her lip. "There's got to be something we can do for you...
isn't there any form of healing we can use?"

His voice sounded even weaker. "Iie... you should know how Astral attacks work on Mazoku... That... was a special spell meant...
for slowly destroying..."

Zel frowned. "What about repairing damage from the Astral Plane?"

"Can't... too weak to take myself there..."

Lina frowned. "Could one of us take you?"

His eyes opened at that, looking slightly startled. "You?..." He looked thoughtful for a second. "I... Yes... Zelgadis could..." All eyes went to the chimera. Xelloss continued weakly, his voice barely audible now. "Being... Part mazoku... could get in easier... And get out..."

The three human's eyes were locked on Zel who was staring with a cold glare at the dying mazoku. "Why should I help you?" He said emotionlessly. "You've caused us nothing but grief."

Xelloss seemed to smile slightly. "Hai... no one's...forcing you..." He took a faltering breath. "It's... my time...anyway...been...alone for...too long..."

Lina stood up and snatched Zelgadis' shirt with strong force. "On the other hand, think about what will happen if he does die..." her eyes bore into his. "If he's the last of the Mazoku, then there'll be little evil left in the world, and thus an imbalance and one of two things will happen." She held a finger up. "One, the world will end because good must be eliminated to equalize the balance, and therefore we're all doomed. Two, more mazoku appear, stronger and more dangerous than him."

Zel kept his gaze on hers, thinking about the consequences inside of his mind as she spoke. Though he hated to admit it, she was right. He sighed and separated from her. " I guess I don't have a choice."
He glanced at Xelloss who was unconscious again in Amelia's lap. "It's either him and the world die, or they live..." He scowled, but at a pleading gaze from Amelia, he glanced away. "Fine."

Lina looked doubtful, watching him carefully, keeping her distance.
"So... you'll do it?"

He didn't answer, but went forward and crouched by Xelloss' body. He moved Amelia away from him, and bent down with a hand over the mazoku,
and began murmuring something. Before they could blink, there was a flash of light, and they'd both vanished.

It was a large void of nothing...sparkling stars glimmered everywhere, with strange nebulous clusters of color floating around.
Xelloss was nowhere to be found, and Zel turned around looking for any indication of where he might have gone... He bit his lip, and yelped in pain, tasting blood. He wiped his hand against his face, and was startled to find flesh there. "Sou ka..." He murmured, realizing that here, all physical limitations were shed. He was his true self here...

He shook the pleasant thought of being human for a short while out of his mind. He had to find Xelloss before it was too late... he focused around for any strong negative disturbance, and located it. He walked towards it through the open space, and seemed to go on forever... He scowled and then realized that he could also perhaps manifest his demon portion if he wished... After all, this was the land of no reality. He closed his eyes, and found it, then utilized it's powers to teleport to Xelloss' location. It worked, and he found himself there.

He stood before a large black crackling mass that seemed intertwined inside of Xelloss... it was like tendrils sucking life from the mazoku... Zel watched for some time, seeing that his body was slightly transparent, meaning he had little time left. Zel walked up slowly and figured out what he could do to break the spell's hold on him...
Nothing came to him however... This attack was based on stealing the mazoku's life force from the astral level... So there had to be someplace where it was going... his eyes traveled up to the direction that the energy traveled in... he saw it there. It was a dark orb of crackling purple and black energy. He floated up to it, and studied it,
then took a large breath and mumbled a low spell beneath his breath.
"Flow Break." He shouted as a pentagram surrounded the black orb, and shattered it instantly.

However, now the energy was rampid and unchanneled... it began to wander about, and Zel quickly slapped a containment spell on it around Xelloss as well...he'd broken the spell, but he had to channel the energy back into his body...

He had no idea how to do that...

Suddenly, he felt a light touch on his shoulder, and glanced back to see someone who was a stark resemblance to Xelloss in every way, only female. "Let me help." She said in a smooth gentle voice, and then floated closer to the mazoku, and began a spell. Zel watched wordlessly,
and when she'd finished, all the left over energy was gone, and Xelloss seemed solid again. She turned back to him, and smiled quietly then began to fade away.

"Wait!" Zel called out reaching for her, but she'd vanished already,
leaving him alone with the Mazoku... He glanced at Xelloss, whose face was now relaxed and calm. "You're one lucky bastard..." He mumbled.

At that, Xelloss stirred slightly, and his eyes slid open slowly. He lifted his head, and straightened upright to stand next to Zel. "You helped me..." he said, seeming slightly surprised.

Zel just snorted. "Don't go out of your way to thank me..."

Xelloss gave him a wry look, his black wings stretching out behind him.
"Humph, have more pride in yourself Zelgadis-san!" He smiled irritatingly at him. "Besides, you look halfway decent as a human!"

Zel tried hard to resist the urge to throttle the mazoku into the nearest dimension. "Thanks."

Xelloss' expression changed then. "But how did you channel my life force back in?" He frowned. "I didn't think there were any spells you knew that could do that."

"To tell you the truth, I didn't do it." He turned his back. "Shall we go now? This place gives me the creeps."

Xelloss' hand gripped his shoulder. "Wait...who then?"

He shrugged. "I dunno, some girl who looked like you."

Xelloss seemed to look shocked for a moment, then a strange smile crossed his face. "Sou ka..." He smiled, a very rare quite genuine smile of happiness. "Arigatou..." he murmured softly. He then looked up. "Right, we'll go. However..." He held up a taloned finger before his nose.

Zel rolled his eyes. "What now?"

"You must be rewarded my heroic friend." He winked and there was an explosion of bright light, then darkness...

He slowly came aware of a gentle breeze blowing his hair across his nose and tickling it. He brought a hand up to idly brush it away, not wanting to quite wake up was nice being in a half daze... He heard soft voices whispering somewhere, but didn't really pay them any heed.
He sighed to himself as he heard someone speaking his name, and he slowly opened his eyes. Amelia and Lina were peering down at him,
worried looks on their faces. He felt so peaceful though...

"Zel?" Lina waved a hand in front of his face, and he reached up and caught her hand. "Oh... Good you're awake..."

"Are you OK Zelgadis-san?" Amelia's voice was filled with worry.

He sighed and slowly sat up stretching his arms above his head.
"Yeah... just dandy." They were still looking at him strangely.
"What?" He asked slightly irritated. "If you're worried about Xelloss,
he's fine."

Some relief showed there, but that wasn't the main problem that showed on their faces. "Great... and you're OK?" Lina pressed.

He was getting slightly irritated now, and he stood up brushing himself off. "Yes, I told you that." He glanced over at them.

They exchanged glances and shrugged amongst each other. "Right... Want breakfast?" Lina handed him a stick with some cooked things that smelled foul on it. "Doesn't taste half bad."

He wrinkled his nose, but reached out a hand and took it from her...
Then froze, his eyes locked in place with shock. He couldn't move...
it couldn't be...could it?

"Was wondering how long it would take you to notice." Lina commented taking a bite of her food.

His eyes slowly lifted to the others, to see Amelia smiling warmly at him and the other two eating non-chalantly. He reached down and put his other hand on his right one, and pinched to make sure it was was... "Kami-sama..." He whispered, barely daring to believe it. He rose to his feet, and walked out of the clearing towards the nearby stream. He bent down to look, and there shimmering in the water beneath him, was his own refection... He raised a hand to feel the warm soft skin beneath his finger tips, and to stare at his soft green hair. Tears of joy welled up and spilled into the water as he couldn't rip his gaze away.

"I told you that you had to be rewarded." Came a soft voice from above him.

He glanced up to see Xelloss in his human form sitting on a tree branch above him. "You...did this?" He asked incredulously.

The Trickster smiled and nodded. "Simple trick really. Just left your chimera part in the Astral Plane. So long as you don't go back there,
you're set for life." He smiled at him with his eyes open and glittering at him.

Zel stood up slowly tilting his head up at the mazoku. "Thank you..."
He managed softly.

Xelloss leapt down from the branch and stood beside him. "No, thank you Zel-kun." His eyes were serious. "I owe you my life. And much more than that you realize..." He trailed off only to hint at his meaning.

Zelgadis nodded in understanding. "Yes..." He looked over at the mazoku. "Who was that girl that I saw there? The one who helped me?"

Xelloss seemed to smile fondly for a moment. "Ah... My sister."

His eyes widened. "Sister?"

Xelloss nodded. "She died when I became a Mazoku, and since we were so close, part of her spirit remained with me..." He chuckled quietly.
"I suppose she's the 'sane' part of me... "

Zel smiled slightly. "I see..." He put a hand on the mazoku's shoulder, startling him slightly. "Well, you're really lucky."

Xelloss shook his head and put his hand on Zel's shoulder. "No...I'm not, but you are." And with that he vanished.

Zel stood there for some time with a faint smile on his face then turned back towards the others and walked back to them with a confidant quiet smile on his face...