By nightelfcrawler

Warnings: Mild language, character death

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!

Ah... Evil.

Few know what it's truly like, but much like bliss and happiness, it comforts and soothes you.

Of course, when it's the only think you've known, you really can't compare it to anything.

Hmm, pity few realize this... it's such a comfort once one does after all.

Of course, then there's the hierarchy of ranking and whatnot... yes,
yes, it's complicated, but so is any democracy if you think about it. Of course, ours isn't a democracy, but that's beside the point.

Hmm, sometimes I must wonder... Do they realize what they're getting themselves into? Do they realize the truth of matters? No, I suppose not... A pity, if the whole world knew of matters, it might be easier for some.

The truth... Ah, that is hard to determine. What is the truth? Well,
for one, we aren't evil. But nor are the others good. Take the whole wars for example. It wasn't US who turned against our kin and murdered them. Why are THEY determined to be 'good' in that instance?

Ah well. Ignorance is bliss they say. Of course, coming up now is the hardest thing that I may have to do... and it involves matters which would be best kept a secret...

"Look out!" Blonde hair whizzed by her face just in time so that what had been coming to meet it, didn't. The spell hit the stone wall,
imbedding itself there instead.

"Damn you, keep still!" Hissed the furious voice.

Lina glanced up from beneath Gourry's body which was the only thing protecting her at this point. Their assailant grinned at their vulnerability and prepared for another attack, however, just as it was to be thrown at them, a dark shape intervened. "My my, seems like you're having fun without me Lina-san!" Chirped an overly cheerful voice.

Her eyes rolled at the thought of yet again, another encounter with the annoying mazoku, but secretly she thanked whatever god or demon that had sent him to them. "Xelloss!" She cried out. "Be careful, he's got tricks up his sleeves."

He raised an eyebrow in interest. "Really?" He smiled pleasantly at the growling attacker. "Well, seems we have something in common then now don't we?"

The assailant merely gritted his teeth and scowled, then threw energy bolts at the smiling mazoku, though they hit inefficiently off of his shield.

"Is that a form of affection, or do you just not like me?" He smiled at him.

This seemed to infuriate the man even more, and darkness began to flood the room, making everyone tense up suddenly, Xelloss included, who indeed looked startled beyond belief. In fact, the look of shock that crossed his face made Lina's heart stop in her gut. If something scared him, this was bad.

They got a taste of it for sure almost instantly. The pillar of black energy rippled in the air, and Xelloss began taking a step backwards.
Lina crouched next to him and Gourry stood beside her. "What's he doing?"

She could hear tension in his voice. "He shouldn't be able to do that..."

She looked up startled to see genuine fear on his face. "Xelloss?"

The mazoku seemed to ponder something, then glanced at her. "I'll take care of him. I advise you to run." And with that he vanished into nothingness, leaving two startled people, and one ticked off opponent.
Gourry and Lina looked at each other baffled, but then their attention was drawn as a sudden flash of dark light appeared by the corner where the man was, and they saw Xelloss hitting him with a full forced spell.

However, they were shocked beyond belief when the man nimbly avoided the attack, and brought the column of power swinging towards Xelloss, and even as the mazoku teleported away, it was rocketing at him with lightning speed.

He reappeared slightly behind the figure, as the two watched with fear,
and behind them two more joined them running forward out of breath. They skidded to a halt, and nearly were run over by Filia who'd appeared behind them suddenly. They watched in silence as the two fought between each other, one getting a spell ready, the other avoiding it.

By the end of twenty minutes of going at it, they could see their assailant tiring, and Xelloss still going strong, though after being hit once his speed had dramatically slowed down. Just when it looked like one had an advantage, the other would foil their attempts, and dash around for another attack...

Perhaps it was overconfidence, or maybe it was unlucky circumstances... but whatever the reason, Xelloss made a slip. He teleported behind him, preparing to cast a spell to throw at him, and the man slid something out from his belt, and turned with a quick motion, and subsequently buried the small silver dagger into Xelloss'
gut. The on-watchers really didn't take note of Xelloss' reaction to that, they thought that since he was mazoku, no normal weapon could harm him, and Zel and Lina were preparing to throw a major spell each once they had an opening. They got their opening as the man stood upright,
and Xelloss was nowhere to be seen from that side, and Lina threw a Gaav Flare at their assailant while Zelgadis chanted a Rah Tilt, and seeing as he was weakened, and not prepared to be attacked from that side, the spells hit him full on, and he vanished almost instantly with a short painful scream.

They stood there in complete silence for a while, getting their breath back, until Zel noticed something. "It's too quiet..." He said slowly with a frown.

They glanced at each other, trying to figure out what it was that was missing, until a sharp gasp from Filia, and her running forward pushing them aside roughly, made them realize that Xelloss was the person missing.

He was lying on the ground, his staff a few feet away, hunched against the wall not moving. Filia was the only one who'd noticed, and she was kneeling by him, supporting his head as she helped him to a sitting position, noting with a distressed expression the large wound in his stomach that didn't seem to be closing.

The others gathered around, and Amelia knelt to heal him, but his eyelids fluttered slightly and slid open halfway. "Xelloss...?" Filia whispered quietly. "I... I thought you couldn't be hurt by swords...?"

A faint smile seemed to touch his lips as Amelia tried to heal his wound, but nothing happened. "That...wasn't just any dagger..." He managed to gasp out faintly, some black substance flecking to his lips as he strained to speak.

"Shh, don't talk." Filia was ripping part of her skirt and applying it to his gut where more black oozed out. "We'll take care of you, stupid Namagomi." She said with a strained voice.

But Lina saw his eyelids begin to droop. "Xelloss!" She snatched his shoulders and shook him slightly. "Don't you dare die on us." She snapped. "We'll have your mistress after us!"

A strange black mist was hanging around him and was slowly traveling towards the ceiling, and the others watched with distressed looks on their faces as they realized what was happening. Amelia struggled to work the healing in a different way, since it didn't seem to have any effect on him.

His eyes slid open a bit more, and he glanced up at them with veiled eyes as Filia cradled his head with shaded eyes. "Free..." He whispered, before his eyes rolled back and the black mist suddenly swirled thick around him, then evaporated slowly towards the ceiling,
leaving nothing of him behind...

There was dead silence for several long seconds, which was then shattered by something exploding, and making them all jump. The whirled around, to see that the staff lying on the ground. The red gem that had adorned it was lying in broken fragments on the ground, their red color fading slowly to black, until they matched the rock on the floor.

There was dead silence, Filia kept her head bowed, and small wet tears seemed to fall into her lap, glistening slightly in the dim light. Lina looked at the staff with a sad expression, then slowly walked forward and picked it up, seeing the wood up top had been scorched by the explosion. She held it for a while, as the others kept silent in remembrance of someone who though they might not have liked, had traveled with them, and saved their butts too many times to be made up.

Finally, Zel moved and stooped to pick up the dagger that was lying on the ground not far away, examining it carefully. "Why would this kill him?"

Gourry scratched his head slightly staring at the plain silver knife that had no markings on it save a smooth hilt. "It looks too simple..."

Amelia picked it up and frowned. "It has a powerful white magic affiliation." She said turning it over.

Their deliberations were broken by a sob from Filia. "It... was made by dragons to destroy... Mazoku..." Her head didn't lift as she stood,
still clasping the ripped fabric stained black. "It... Destroys the Astral Form, which is what Mazoku are..."

Lina nodded slowly. "I see... If their Astral Form is destroyed, then their physical body would disappear with no mind to occupy it..." She stared at the knife. "But how did he get this? Isn't it kind of dangerous to be waving around like that?"

Zel turned it over in his hands. "Well, first off we should find out immediately who that guy was, and where he'll appear next. He wasn't killed by that, only injured I'm sure. He'll be back."

"No..." Came a quite voice from Filia, and they turned to see her lift her head slowly. "Not the first thing..."

The sky was overcast as they walked outside in a solemn procession, the lightning flashing across the sky under rumblings of thunder as the sky mourned one of it's dark servants. The small procession stopped on a small rise overlooking the valley below where a single large tree grew,
its branches stretching out and blowing heavily in the wind. Lina set the staff down in the small hold they'd dug, and they stood there silently as Filia and Amelia recited some prayers for the dead, before Gourry and Zel covered the small grave over, smoothing it out then placing a rock as a headstone.

Each head was kept lowered as they thought about what losing him might mean. He had been powerful, and despite being annoying from time to time, he really helped them out the majority of the time...

So wrapped up in their small eulogy were they, they didn't notice a figure appear behind them, dressed completely in black with a small mask not unlike the one Zelgadiss used from time to time, carrying a long slender pole with some strange sharp crystal mounted on top. It was only when the figure spoke, that they whirled around in shock. "My, what a depressing scene." The soft mellow voice that reminded them of dusk,
spoke up.

Zelgadiss and Gourry's swords were out in a flash held defensively before them as Lina and Amelia stood in defensive stances, while Filia seemed still withdrawn inside herself to act. "Who're you?" Lina asked suspiciously.

"No one of consequence." The figure replied shrugging lightly. "I'm merely a messenger." He bowed slightly, his tall form slender and sleek beneath the billowing cape. "And the bearer of a gift."

Instantly their suspicions were raised. "Gift? What gift, and what message?" Lina snapped out instantly. "Who are you?"

The figure simply stood there unmoved. "As I said, I'm a messenger." He lowered his staff to point at Zelgadiss. "And the gift I bear is for that one." All eyes traveled to Zelgadiss who just narrowed his gaze more at the figure in suspicion.

"What sort of gift?" He growled out. "And why should we trust you when you won't identify yourself?"

The figure seemed to chuckle at that, then before they could act or move, he was moving forward at an incredible pace, and then before they could blink, the tip of his staff was headed straight for Zelgadiss'
chest, then it had buried itself there and the startled chimera was standing with his mouth agape, and his eyes bulged out.

Lina and the others shrieked in worry, and Amelia's eyes lit with a vibrant painful fire as she leapt towards him with a deadly spell on her hands... However she was jerked back into position and Lina was held off as Filia gripped their arms staring at the pair with wide blue eyes.
"Wait!" She cried out. "Look!"

Their gazes flew to Zel and the man in black, and saw that the top of the chimera's head looked darker... Almost as if his hair was changing color... and that became the obvious truth as they held their breaths when the phenomena spread downwards, turning his face peach and making the rocks vanish. They stood there in shock as what seemed to be minutes flew by and all of Zel's body was changing, the chimera part of him seeming to be sucked into the staff. Then, the figure withdrew the staff, leaving no mark in his chest, and took several steps backwards,
and Zel slowly opened his eyes, revealing soft green eyes which abruptly narrowed as his sword snapped back up. "You!" He hissed angrily, his eyes narrowing with deadly intention.

However, Amelia stepped forward and lowered his sword as he turned confused eyes to see that the others were staring at him with wide eyes.
"What?" He said looking at them confused. Amelia brought her hand to his and lifted it to his vision, so he could see for himself that it was flesh, not rock, that she held. His eyes shot wide open and his mouth fell open. "W...what?" He whispered, barely able to breath as he turned his hand over and over, blinking again and again to make sure it wasn't a dream.

The figure chuckled softly, then took a bow. "Then, I take my leave."
And he vanished where he stood like a shadow in the night.

Zel started forward. "Wait!" he cried out, but it was too late seeing that the man was gone. They stood there as the rain began to drip down from the sky, rather stunned by what had happened. Then Zel glanced down at his hand and suddenly swore. "Damn!" They looked at him startled. He sighed in dejection. "He took that knife..."

The small party, minus one old companion, and a newly refreshed one,
stumbled into the small overcrowded inn at the hot spring district nearest to their location late that night. They seated themselves at a table after checking into a few rooms, and rested their feet for a little bit. That day had been tiring, and confusing for them all, and right now, questions about how Xelloss had been killed, and who that stranger was that had reversed Zel's curse were on the top of their minds.

Of course, being randomly lucky, Gourry happened to glance over to the side of the room, and saw a black cloaked figure seated by itself at a table. "Hey, Lina..?" He pointed at the figure as they all looked at him. "Isn't that the guy...?"

Their gazes fell to the black cloaked figure who appeared to be drinking some wine and relaxing at his table in the corner. Lina stood up slowly.
"Yeah.." She said slowly. "I think it is."

And with that, the whole group stood up, and made it's way to the other table, and gathered around, making the cloaked figure look up startled as they all sat down at his table. "Hi again, now this time, maybe you'll share your name with us." Lina drawled with a fiery smile at the figure. "And give that knife back to us please."

The figure seemed unsure of what to do, glancing around and seeing that he was surrounded, he seemed to sigh in resignation as he had little choice. He gestured with a slender black gloved hand. "Sit."

Lina, who was already seated grinned. "Why thank you, don't mind if we do." The others sat down and they all ordered something to eat and drink, then turned their attention back to the man.

He wore a long black cloak with a cowl that covered his whole face and shadowed it so that they couldn't see inside of it other than his nose protruding slightly. He wore a black tunic and pants with black leather boots as well, and it seemed most of it was made out of silk.
"So..." Lina drawled leaning forward. "Maybe you can tell us who you are?"

But Zel was the one who got the individual's attention by grabbing hold of his shirt and yanking him across the table with his own face pressed to his. "And how you knew to cure me." He said quietly.

The man seemed to gulp slightly in Zelgadiss' grasp. "Ok ok..." He said faintly, and the ex-chimera let him go as he settled back in his chair.
"Darknyte..." He said quietly. "That's my name." Zel narrowed his gaze more and he waved a hand quickly. "I'm coming to that!" He sighed.
"Reversing that was simple elemental manipulation." He shook his head. "
Not hard for me to do."

Lina frowned. "But how did you know Zel needed it, and what did you mean that it was a gift? From who?" She leaned forward attempting to see inside the individual's hood.

He drew back a bit, only to run into Filia who was standing behind him,
and promptly took his hood and threw it off of his head.

The man was startled, and it showed on his face as they saw it clearly.
He was young and exceedingly handsome, but defiantly unusual as they could clearly see from the start. His hair was snowy white and long and straight falling down his back. It stood out against his darkly tanned face, especially with pencil thin eyebrows that where white framing his eyes which were twin violet orbs wide in astonishment. Two sharply pointed ears stuck out from his hair, revealing the fact that he wasn't human, and his entire face was narrow and sharply carved, familiar to Lina, though there were three sharp scars like something had attacked him, adorning each cheek to his cheekbone from his hairline.

"Ah, so you're an elf." She smiled slightly. "But I've never seen one like you before..." She murmured rubbing her chin.

The elf flushed slightly, and glanced down. "Yes, well that's because..." He hesitated. "...well..." He smiled suddenly and put one hand up to his nose while winking. "Sore wa himitsu desu!"

Every single one of them froze staring at him, as he smiled merrily at them. You could almost count the seconds until they exploded.

"WHAT?" They all shouted at once, and then began snatching him roughly by the collar. Lina was first. "NOT ANOTHER ONE!" She bellowed at him.

Amelia snatched him from Lina. "You aren't a villain are you?"

He transferred to Zel's hands. "You better well damn explain yourself!"

Filia was the last one to snatch him and hold him completely out of his seat. "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

It had gotten rather empty in the inn during this episode...

The man gagged in Filia's grip as she shook him to and fro to get answers from him. "Ack... F...Filia-chan...y...yamete kudasai..." He gasped out, which made Lina's head snap up and she immediately grabbed the dragon's arm.

"Wait... how..." She got Filia to let him go. "How did you know her name? We never told you our names..." Her eyes narrowed dangerously at him as he rubbed his windpipe, glancing up at her with his violet eyes.

He glanced around at their questioning glances, and smiled slightly,
wiggling his fingers in greeting. "Well... actually, I erm.." He paused seeing Zel's narrowed gaze burning into him. "I... Um... have...
metyoubeforeactually." He finished in a rush as they looked about ready to jump him. "Don't... tell me you've forgotten me so soon Lina-san?"
He then leaned forward and pecked her on the lips lightly. "You looked so solemn over that little grave you made for me."

They stared at him, and then her face slowly reddened as she drew back rather flustered, while the others stared at him with startled eyes.
"No..." she managed to choke out. " "Im...impossible!..."

It was Filia who broke the ice then. "X...Xe..." she whispered slightly.

His eyes turned to her, then softened slightly as a quiet smile passed over his lips upon seeing her. "I..." He took Filia's hand in his own and kissed it gently. "I want to apologize to you Filia-chan..." He looked up with honest eyes at her, and her own tears began to spill over in realization before she flung herself at him nearly stifling him upon doing so.

The rest of them stared at him uncomprehending, until Zel spoke. "I see..." He sat down slowly taking a calm sip of his coffee, his green hair falling forward loosely now. "Xelloss... what's going on here?"

The elf was being smothered by Filia who was clinging onto him tightly.
"I...ack... uh...well it's... a rather long story actually..." He sweatdropped slightly as she squeezed him harder. "Itte..."

Filia let him go and stood up with her mace in her hands. "You stupid Namagomi!" She swung the mace and he ducked down rolling onto the floor quickly. "BAKA!" She ran after him and he made a small eep sound and ran as she chased him around the room.

The others sighed and sat down, waiting for them to finish. Lina finally got fed up, and tripped Filia as she ran by, making her sprawl on the floor with the mace burying itself in the far wall. Lina gazed over at the elf slowly stopping gasping for breath. "So...how about explaining this?" She glanced at him dubiously. "Are you really Xelloss?"

He sat down again, wiping the sweat from his forehead. "Um... Yes..."
He glanced worriedly at Filia as she tried to separate her mace from the wall. "As I said, it's a long story."

"Well, we've got time." Lina said flatly glaring at him. "So spill it."

He sighed, and waited as Filia sat down and composed herself before speaking again. "Ok, fine." He crossed his hands and leaned his chin on them. "First off... I know this probably startles and confuses you." He saw nods from them as he continued. "But it all makes sense..." He sighed and looked thoughtful, then glanced at Lina. "You already noted that I was elven."

She nodded. "Yeah, but most elves I've seen are small and they live in the woods mostly." She frowned. "They don't usually have your complexion."

He nodded. "That's true, since most of the elves still existing today are descended from one race of elves." He nodded at their confusion. "So what happened to the others." He leaned back and closed his eyes. "It all started thousands of years ago, when the world was new... there were the basic races back then, humans, mazoku, ryuzoku, elves, trolls,
orcs, and other such creatures. Back then, no one outside of the ryuzoku and mazoku themselves knew the true nature of them, so crossbreeding was not uncommon to create some of the races you know today." He nodded at their questioning looks. "Yes, it's true. Crossbreeding back in the 'dark ages' wasn't uncommon. In fact, that's how different races of elves came into being. There were several breeds. The Elemental breeds,
those who were pure elves, and they were bound to the element that they were used to, for example forest, water, ect. Then there were two other races. The pure and the dark elves. The pure were crossbreeds with ryuzoku, and the dark were crossbreeds with... yes, you guessed it,

"Lemme guess..." Zel said looking at him over the rim of his cup.
"You're a dark elf?"

Xelloss nodded. "Correct. I am one." He smiled lightly. "That doesn't mean that my kind are evil mind you..." He opened his eyes, which were about the same color of his old ones, but not slitted. "But we have some dark powers associated with the mazoku." He sipped his wine calmly.

"So...how does this tie in with you being a mazoku..." Lina said slowly obviously confused.

"Ah yes, well let me explain that." He smiled slightly, though it was a sad smile. "Here's the thing. You knew me as the "Trickster Priest", as did most people. This name originated when I was still normal. I was the head priest of the Dark Elven empire, and I unfortunately..." He sweatdropped. "Have always had a reputation for being a prankster..." He sighed at their knowing glances. "Yes, I know, I should learn right?
You'd think I would have, after what happened to me..." He shook his head at their puzzled glances. "Lets just say, I pulled a prank on the wrong person..."

"Let me guess." Lina said. "The Beastmaster."

He nodded. "Unfortunately, I didn't know this, but later when she came with her legions to attack the city, I discovered my mistake. By that time, she was worked up pretty badly, and when she demanded they hand me over to her or she would level the city, the elders weren't quick to linger on their decision..." He closed his eyes, and they saw slight resentment and pain flicker across his face. "I suppose I was due some punishment, but they didn't realize what mazoku were like, for of course we didn't know their nature back then." He lowered his gaze, and raised a hand to touch one of the scars on his cheek. "She took me and made me her plaything... something I'd rather forget..." He shuddered slightly, and the others could only guess what he'd been through at her hands. "But, eventually she grew tired of me, and forgot me... she would come down and visit me to play a bit more, but I think I stunned her by never breaking my will to her treatments...she found me intriguing, and after a few years, she struck up conversing with me on her daily visits rather than torturing me." He closed his eyes slightly at that. "This is where I became a fool I suppose.." He glanced up at Lina. "I'm not sure how much you know of the elven race, but we have short lived lives."

"How short is short?" Amelia asked curiously.

He turned his quiet gaze to hers and shrugged. "Well, most live to be about five years of age."

They stared at him. "Wow..." Gourry said scratching his head. "You die as kids?"

Everyone sweatdropped. "Uh... no Gourry..." Xelloss said slightly embarrassed. "We mature in a matter of months, and then we live for five years or so... Seeing as I was about four at the time, when she offered me an opportunity to live longer, to see things that others wouldn't see, I was a fool to accept it..."

"The terms being that you became mazoku I'll wager?" Filia spoke up quietly for the first time in the conversation.

He nodded. "Yes... The agreement was that she would turn me into a mazoku, and I would serve her and get a longer life span. If I was worthy, I'd rise in rank eventually..." He sighed. "I should have refused... But I was selfish..." His expression turned to one of sadness. "You see... It was either die in the cell within a year, never getting to leave, or do as she wished. And I had a family..." His eyes disappeared behind shadows as he bowed his head. "I had a wife and two children... I wanted to get the chance to see them... One more time."

Sad understanding passed their faces as they heard his words. Filia put a hand on his shoulder in support, and he turned his eyes to her in slight surprise. "I understand what that's like..." She murmured in sympathy, and he smiled slightly back at her.

"Yes... well ironic that I never did get to see them again..." He sighed. "Once she had control of me, I forgot about them since my past memories were locked up tighter than anything." He nodded at their realization. "Yes, I see you understand. The real me was inside of the red gem on my staff... She couldn't make an Dark Elf a mazoku, since we were part mazoku as it was, and had the possibility of turning against our masters. It had been done before, with failure. So she made a new body and transferred my consciousness into it, then locked up my memories in my staff and the rest in my old body which she cast a non-aging spell on, to keep it from decaying since it was part of my essence. She kept that locked up in a vault where I'd never find it." He shrugged. "So, once my 'body' or fake self was destroyed, there was nothing to keep my 'real' self contained, and so my consciousness broke out and returned to my old body, and it didn't take me long to high tail it out of there before the Beastmaster figured out what had happened."
He leaned back having finished his tale and waited to see their reactions.

They seemed to be taking it well, each in their own thoughts. Finally Lina looked up. "So, is that spell of hers still in effect on your body?"

He nodded. "I don't know... but I would think so... So I suppose I'm lucky. I'll surpass any natural age of the average elven life span...
Not that I already haven't..." He sighed.

Amelia looked sad. "You miss them don't you?" He glanced up. "Your family?"

His eyes lowered and they saw tears there. "Yes... while I was mazoku,
I had no memories of my past life, so when I woke up a few hours ago..."
He stopped and trailed off, not looking up.

They all knew what he must feel like, and Lina stood up. "Well, how about taking a dip in the hot springs to relax?" The others nodded at that. "Ok!" She grinned widely, trying to cheer up Xelloss who looked a bit upset. "You guys enjoy yourselves, k?"

They all got up and headed towards the spas, the women on their side,
the men on theirs. Gourry and Zelgadis both were eager to get in, and quickly finished undressing while Xelloss took his own time in doing so.
The two humans waded in and sighed at the hot soothing water of the springs, and glanced back as Xelloss came out rather slowly, still looking slightly disturbed. It was very strange how oddly his hair contrasted with his dark brown skin, and it went past his waist nearly halfway down his legs. He waded in and sank down beside them, closing his eyes in relaxation.

The sweet fumes of the scented water helped relax them, and Zel soon found himself loosening up for the first time in years. He glanced over at Xelloss, seeing the man almost falling asleep. "Yo, I never got a chance to thank you Xelloss." He said as he scrubbed his arms, enjoying feeling flesh instead of stone.

The Dark Elf glanced at him, eyes opening slightly. "Yes, well it's really nothing..." He murmured quietly. "I do owe it to you for making that man kill me, though I may not have known it at the time."

Zel smiled slightly as Gourry threw a brush at him. "Zel, will you?" Zel shrugged and began scrubbing Gourry's back as the blonde man turned. He spoke with Xelloss while Zel was busy. "So, how did you get those?" He gestured at the matching three scars on the sides of Xelloss' cheeks.

Xel put a hand to his face in remembrance. "That was the Beastmaster's little present for me..." He said quietly. "Along with other things."

"Oh, well that was nice of her." Gourry said happily.

Both Zel and Xel sweatdropped. "Um... Well not really." Xel muttered beneath his breath.

Xel relaxed while Zel finished doing Gourry's back, then he turned to the elf. "Want me to do yours while I'm at it?"

Xelloss looked a bit unsure, but shrugged. "If you want." He turned around leaning on the rim of the spa, and Zel grabbed a new brush and pushed the Dark Elf's hair out of the way, and paused at what he saw.
There were numerous scars crisscrossing Xelloss' back like fine ribbons of thread. Some of them were indistinguishable from where they started and ended. But the thing that drew his attention the most was the two stumps in the middle of Xelloss' upper back, right by the shoulder blades. They had long since been healed over, but there was no mistaking that something cruel had been done to him. Zel wondered if he should bring it up or not... He didn't want to pry... Fortunately, Gourry spared him the trouble.

"Whoa" The blonde swordsman said peering over Zel's shoulder. "What're those?" He poked one of the lumps. "Did you get some rocks stuck in your back?"

Both of the others sweatdropped heavily. "Um..." Zel said quietly glancing at Gourry with a deadly look. "That might be personal to him you know."

Xelloss sighed. "No, it's ok..." Zel could hear the pain in his voice,
and he shot Gourry a look that made the swordsman shrink back quickly before he could get in more trouble. Zel silently began to scrub the other's back then, but stopped as Xelloss tensed as if in pain.
"...maybe that's...not such a good idea..." He said quietly, and Zel noted that the scars were turning pink from the pressure, and he nodded,
putting the brush away and sitting back down to relax.

They finished out their soak in silence, listing to slight screeching as the girls played in the water next door. They sounded like they were having fun, splashing and laughing, and the boys listened to their laughter, almost a bit jealous. Then, out of no where, something came flying over the barrier, startling them all, and splashed down right in the center of the pool. They blinked the water out of their eyes, just as Filia came coughing to the surface. She shook her head, then froze seeing the three men before her, just as they turned red at seeing her there. Zel and Gourry quickly turned about and submerged themselves more, but Xelloss stood up and offered her a hand. "Nice of you to drop in Filia-san." He smiled jokingly at her, noting her beet red face and narrowed eyes at his indecency. She scowled and seemed to build up some anger, then leaped at him with her hand, leaving a sharp stinging red mark against the side of his face.

He stood there for some time, the two men, and the two women who were peering over the top of the barrier, keeping silent with their breath held. Xelloss stood there with his hand to his cheek, then cast his eyes down and turned around walking back to the dressing room, a small trickle of blood running down his cheek from the force of the slap against the more tender scars on his cheek. "I'm going to bed.." he said quietly as he got out and closed the door after him quietly.

There was some silence as they all sat there, most of them avoiding each other's eyes. Then Filia lowered her face looking distraught. Lina frowned at that. "Good job Filia..." She said almost tartly.

Amelia watched the door where he'd vanished quietly. "Poor Xelloss-san..."

Filia suddenly frowned and glanced up at the others. "Wait... On his back..." She started, then trailed off uncertainly.

Zel glanced back at the door, then shook his head. "Yeah, he's been abused a lot..." He shrugged. "I wouldn't bother him about it if I were you."

"You know, I never did figure out why he had rocks under his skin.."
Gourry said scratching his head puzzled.

Filia froze at that. "What?"

Zel rolled his eyes. "They aren't rocks, got that dimwit?"

Filia narrowed her eyes in worry. "Wait, what is he talking about Zelgadiss-san?"

Zel shrugged. "I don't know what they are, he was uncomfortable about it." He glanced at her. "They were just two lumps on his back, looked like they'd been scarred a lot."

She looked thoughtful. "Where... Were they on his back?"

Zel indicated on Gourry. "Bout here." He pointed right by the rear of the shoulder blades.

Her eyes widened and her breath sucked in sharply. "Oh no..."

Amelia and Lina in the mean time had joined them, wearing their bathing towels of course. "What is it Filia?" Lina tossed the dragon her towel,
and she wrapped it around herself as she got out.

Filia's gaze fell back to where Xelloss had exited. "It's just... Well,
maybe I'm pushing things, but that's right where..." She glanced at them, then shook her head. "No... it's nothing..." They all looked away, and began readying for bed as Filia stood there, a look of despair on her face.

Filia couldn't sleep…. She kept twisting and turning, and finally lay on her back with her eyes open staring at the ceiling. It kept bothering her….. she couldn't stop thinking about what Xelloss must be thinking of her. While he'd been a mazoku, she'd been tediously denying what she was feeling for him…. It was not only wrong and immoral for her to have such feelings, but traitorous and dangerous. But now… finding out the truth, it wasn't so bad. And the fact that he had entirely changed personalities, and no longer teased her anymore made quite a difference. She really felt bad about treating him the way she had…. He really hadn't deserved it.

She finally got out of bed, stepping over Amelia and Lina as she did so, and walked out into the hallway. Her conscience wouldn't let her be if she just ignored it. She had to apologize to him….

She slid down the hallway in her nightdress, then stopped by Xelloss' door, her hand paused before rapping on it. Should she? It was the middle of the night…. Maybe she should wait…. But then…. She took a deep breath, and tapped lightly on the door. "Xelloss-san?" She whispered lightly. When there was no answer, she slowly cracked the door open, and peered in. "Xelloss?" She poked her head in more, to see him sprawled on the bed, most of the sheets and blankets kicked off, and hugging a pillow to him almost protectively. His breathing was rhythmic, and quiet, and she could see he was deep in sleep…. She felt a twinge of pain at seeing the cut on his cheek where she'd slapped him…. She was about to back out again, when he moaned something incoherable and tossed over, giving her a full view of his scarred back. Her breath jumped to her throat as she looked through starting tears. It confirmed her fears…. And it pained her to even think about what he must have gone through. She slowly closed the door after her, and padded back to bed, but didn't sleep….

The next morning dawned stormy just like the last few nights, and the small group was gathered downstairs having their meal for the morning. Except for one. "Hey, did anyone see Xelloss this morning?" Lina asked before she shoved more food into her mouth.

The others glanced around and shrugged. "I haven't seen him since last night." Gourry said trying unsuccessfully to steal a pancake from Lina's plate without her noticing.

Zel just shook his head, his gaze falling over to see Filia looking distracted. "Filia, what's the matter?"

The dragon priestess seemed to snap out of her trance and glance at him while the three others fought over food. "What? Oh… I…" She lowered her eyes.

Zel glanced at the food fighters, then sighed and moved to sit next to her. "What is it?"

She lowered her eyes. "I'm just a bit upset at myself for what happened last night." Her eyes met his. "He didn't deserve to be hit…. I…" She shook her head. "I guess I'm just not used to him having feelings like that…"

Zel nodded slowly taking a sip of his coffee. "Yes… I can understand. I feel sorta the same way." He sighed and closed his green eyes. "Have you talked to him?"

"I wanted to last night…. But…." She shook her head. "He was asleep."

Zel nodded, watching her face critically. Finally he spoke up. "You care for him don't you?"

Her face turned a rosy pink and she looked down in embarrassment. "…..I…" She murmured looking flustered.

Zel just smiled and patted her hand comfortingly. "It's ok. Have you told him this?"

She snorted. "Zel, think about it…. A golden dragon and a mazoku who murdered hundreds of my kind…" She sighed. "Even if it wasn't really his conscious self doing it, he's still hated for who he is."

Zel cocked his head to the side. "Is he? I would say that Xelloss is hated, not this elf who used to be Xelloss."

She glanced up startled. "What?"

Zel smiled slightly at her. "Think about it. No one knows that this Xelloss is THE Xelloss who destroyed your people. He looks different, feels different, and acts different."

She nodded slowly. "Yes…." She sighed and then stood up. "I think I'll go check on him." She then walked up the stairs and went to his door, rapping gently on it. "Xelloss-san?" She waited, but there was no answer. She rapped again, louder this time. "Xelloss-san, are you up?" After a longer pause, and worry beginning to tickle her mind, she slowly pushed the door open and peered in…. to her shock, the room was empty. The bed was still rumpled, and was obviously the way she'd left him last night, but no Xelloss….. in fact, what was startling as she walked into the room, was that his clothing and the large staff he'd had were still there…..

The others were brought about to this realization as soon as Filia came bursting down the stairs worried and out of breath. They stared at her. "Filia? What's the matter?" Lina asked with her fork in mid-air.

"He's gone!" She exclaimed.

"Huh? Who's gone?" Gourry blurted out, but Zelgadiss had stood up instantly and was following her upstairs. Soon, everyone else had followed them.

They stared at the vacant room baffled. "Where would he have gone?" Lina asked softly.

"Yeah… and without his clothes too.." Amelia said peering under the bed to make sure he wasn't hiding.

"Whoa! You mean he's running around out there naked?" Gourry blurted out, promptly to be smashed against the wall by Filia's fist.

"This doesn't make sense…." Zel said slowly.

Amelia was examining the area by the window, then stopped. "I found something…" The others joined her, and she pointed at the spots of blood dotting the windowsill, where the window had been broken from what looked like the outside in. There was some red splattered on the shattered glass as well.

"Damn, I figured this'd happen…" Zel sighed quietly and the others looked worriedly at him.

"What are you thinking Zel?" Lina said quietly. "That Zelas took him?"

"Probably…" He glanced at them. "Think about it, he was her head priest and general, and whatever prank he pulled, she must still be pissed at him. He knows a lot of valuable info that humans and whatever else shouldn't know." He shook his head. "Of course she'd want him back."

They nodded slowly, the truth sinking in deadly like. "So… what should we do?" Amelia asked quietly, her blue eyes wide with fear.

Filia stood up firmly. "We have to go and find him." She declared firmly, a fire in her eyes. "We can't let her have him to do as she likes." Her eyes blazed to a fiery flame that flickered brightly.

The others weren't about to argue with her. "Well, how are we going to find her then?" Lina pointed out. "We don't know where it is, and even so, isn't it an island?"

Filia stood up and started for the roof. "I know where it is."

Everyone stared at her rather blankly, not truly comprehending her words. "You…. What?" Amelia said quietly. "But, I thought the dragons and demons hated each other, why would you have gone to one of their strongholds?"

She lowered her gaze. "It was… an accident actually. I got sidetracked, and stumbled upon it to rest….." She shook her head. "I didn't know it at the time however, and it would have been best that I hadn't. The only thing I recall is that I was scared to death while there, and only stayed enough time to rest up before I left."

They all nodded in understanding. "Yeah, I'll bet.." Lina muttered as they all began to head for the roof.

Once up on the roof, Filia wasted no time in shifting back to her natural form, and the others sighed then climbed aboard as quickly as they could, and with that she leapt off of the roof, startling nearby passerbys as she soared into the air with the speed and grace that dragons possessed.

Within no time at all, they were speeding over the ocean faster than they could hold on… it was so fast that their hair was flying into their eyes and becoming tangled as they increased velocity to the speed of a jet engine. Within no time, they saw on the horizon, an island rising out of the sea like some strange mound, complete with volcano and it's own shrouded fog and mist. Filia wasted no time in circling it once, letting them know that they were there, then landing in an open field not far from the largest and only structure on the island.

By now, the others were sweat dropping as packs of wolves began to surround them with glowing eyes and growling voices that promised nasty things. However, Filia didn't seem phased, and she let go a ripple of power at them that fried several and sent the rest howling away.

The others merely stood back and let her work her anger out as she cleared their way to the mansion on top of the hill, and by the time they reached it, no wolves were approaching them. Filia had shifted into her human form, and was gripping her mace tightly, stalking right up to the open doors and through them, into the main room where a woman, looking not to happy, was sitting on a couch sipping wine.

"WHERE IS HE?" Filia screamed at her, virtually shaking in anger.

The woman simply opened her eyes calmly. "Do not yell in here young lady." Her voice was smooth, but commanded a certain respect and need to be obeyed in it. This was enough to make Lina grab Filia's shoulder and jerk her backwards hissing in her ear to behave herself as she stepped forward.

"You are the Beastmaster?" She asked quietly. The woman nodded. "Then I suppose you know why we've come?"

She regarded them quietly, then closed her eyes and downed the entire glass, then poured another. Lina began to suspect that she was getting drunk for some reason…. "Yes. Because of my dear Xelloss."

Filia however wasn't showing any tact. "HOW CAN YOU BE SO…." She trailed off as Lina glared at her.

The Beastmaster seemed to be ignoring her. Lina sighed and tried again. "It's not fair to do this….. doesn't he have a right to a life on his own?"

The Beastmaster's eyes snapped up suddenly, full of fire and fury, and she righted herself up on the couch, holding the bottle tightly in her hand. "YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FAIR CHILD SO DON'T PLAY WITH ME!" Her eyes could have started a fire and all of the group took a big step back in shock at her reaction. She seemed to try to calm herself a bit, and lowered her voice slightly. "Not fair…. I'll tell you what not fair is child. Not fair is searching for one person a majority of your life. It's finding that person, and taking the initiative to train his mind, then carving him from your own soul to perfect everything that he is…. It's having someone who cared…. Someone who was a precious son…. Devout and loyal…. Someone intelligent and honest, and then having him work hard for you, only to die miserably after all your work!" Tears were rolling down her cheeks.

The others glanced at each other slightly. They could tell that she was upset over Xelloss' death…. They'd never considered what she might be going through at this point, and they felt slightly ashamed at jumping out and accusing her so quickly…. Lina spoke softly, and gently. "I'm sorry…. I know you must have been very close to him…. Like his mother." She nodded faintly. "However, don't you think he deserves his own life now?" The Beastmaster raised her eyes puzzled to Lina's. "I mean, yes, he was yours, but you forced him into the position in the first place, it's not fair to force him back again after what he's been through."

The Beastmaster was watching her with surprised eyes, and she narrowed them slightly. "Wait wait…" She put a hand up. "I don't think we're talking about the same things here…."

Lina paused surprised. "What?"

The Beastmaster lowered her hand. "You make it seem like I have control over his death….. I have none." She shook her head. "He's gone, so that's that."

Lina exchanged glances with Filia, who stepped forward. "Are you saying that you didn't kidnap him then?"

"Kidnap him? I thought he was dead…"

"No, we meant his elf person."

"Oh…" She shrugged. "That." She shook her head. "I came to check on it and found him gone. I figured he'd earned his freedom, so I let Darknyte go."

They exchanged glances. "Then…. Who kidnapped him?"

The Beastmaster shrugged. "Don't look at me. Darknyte is only a shadow of Xelloss, and he hates me with a vengeance for what I've done to him. However, Xelloss had many enemies, and if they found out the truth, they'd take advantage of his weakened state."

"Then,…. Who…" Filia's voice shook and this caused the Beastmaster to glance at her, then smile with a strange evil twist.

"Ah, so the enemies have fallen…." She giggled a lot like Xelloss used to, and they knew where he'd picked up his attitude from. "How ironic." Filia's gaze just lowered more, and the Beastmaster seemed to grow softer. "Look….." She stood up and walked to the dragoness. "I know how you feel. I was amused when I saw your reactions to Xelloss, and he was amused as well… of course Darknyte is different. He has all of Xelloss' memories, but is his own person, mixed with Xelloss. He's been changed from what he was before I owned him. But there's no doubt that he's fallen for you as well." She smiled and winked at the dragon. "You're lucky dearie. He's the last of his kind."

They stared at her. "What… happened to the rest of them?" Filia whispered quietly.

"Oh, they died out a long time ago, one of the first wars. Since they had a short life span, all we had to do was wait. I actually believe that it might have been the dragons, the ancients I think since it was so long ago, that wiped out most of the elves."

They nodded slightly. "Then…. What should we do?" Filia asked quietly, looking up at the Beastmaster slightly with blue eyes full of tears.

The Beastmaster seemed to hesitate slightly, then she glanced down at Filia, saw her misery, and for some odd reason, felt sorry for her. She closed her eyes and stepped away from them, with her arms crossed in thought, then she turned and regarded them. "Let me take care of this. I feel semi-responsible, and he was mine so I feel attached to him." She nodded. "You wouldn't be able to handle a major Dark Lord in their home, so I'll go bother them." She smiled almost ferally, and then vanished right where they stood.

They blinked for several long seconds, then sighed. "Well…. Isn't this just peachy…" Lina mumbled to herself. "Left alone in a Dark Lord's home."

They stood there, not moving for some time, then finally sat themselves down around the room, not sitting on the couch since it had the look of something that you didn't want to push your limits for. Several hours went by, and they dozed off. Around midnight, the Beastmaster appeared with a figure draped over her shoulder, to see all the others sleeping around the room. She snorted and dumped Xelloss' unconscious body on the floor, then retired, leaving them where they lay.

When dawn came, the group was wakened abruptly by shaking under their feet. They all sat up, to see the ceiling begin to cave in, and things tipping over. The Beastmaster came running and shouted at them to get out of her house, then vanished outside. Thinking quickly, they got up, and Gourry luckily noted Xelloss lying there, and swiped him as they dashed out. They ran down the hill towards the shore, and as they did the island seemed to be breaking up. The volcano was spouting molten lava, and they could see a battle being waged between the wolves, and some other creatures that they were better off not knowing. They made it to the cliffs, avoiding huge crevices that lined their path as they ran away. Once they reached the cliffs, they stopped to catch their breath. That's when Lina noticed that Gourry had Xelloss over his shoulder. She immediately saw he was injured badly. "Gourry! Lay him down!" She bent over him as the swordsman did so, and bit her lip. "Amelia? Zel?" She glanced up and the two of them went and knelt by Xelloss' side, and Amelia placed her hands over his body and began healing, and Zel joined in not too long afterwards. For several minutes they were involved in healing the gashes and burns that covered his body, then they stopped suddenly as more tremors shook the island.

"We gotta get off of this place." Lina said quietly. "You ready yet Filia?"

Filia stood up and just as she did, more tremors hit and she nearly lost her balance and fell off the side of the cliff. Luckily, Zel was there to grab her hand before she did. "D…domo…" she murmured, still shaken. "I don't know Lina-san, I'm very tired from the flight over here…" She glanced around as the island continued to break apart as the Beastmaster warred with her assailants. Amelia was helping Xelloss to stand, who looked barely conscious, not sure where he was.

"We gotta get out of here, we can't afford to wait Filia." Lina said as more tremors shook the ground they stood on.

Just as she finished however, disaster struck. The entire cliffside gave way and they all felt themselves sliding down. Lina, Amelia, and Zel were quick to act, Lina grabbing Gourry with Amelia's help, and Zel snatching Filia so she didn't have to try and transform in such a sort fall…. However…..

Xelloss had slipped further away than anyone's hands were, and still half out of it, he tried to grab onto something, but the rocks broke apart and he fell away from the others. Filia's shriek could be heard as she watched with horror stricken eyes as he began to fall towards the sharp jutting rocks that were below just hidden by the crashing waves.

Lina and Amelia watched in horror, and Zel strained to keep Filia in his arms since she couldn't have made it to save him in such a short distance, but all of them couldn't believe what they were seeing…. And they couldn't do anything…

Then, something happened that made all of their breaths suck in sharply. It was as if his back began to ripple and flux, then explode outwards. A gigantic pair or black feathered wings erupted from his back and caught on the wind, and slowed his fall so that he landed rather awkwardly, but safely on the rocks below, then he slipped and fell on his back again, but was apparently unhurt as he looked around rather dazed. The others immediately flew down and joined him on the rocks, and Filia flung herself at him worriedly. "Xelloss! Are you…?"

He blinked and rubbed his back as he slowly sat up. "I'm fine…" He said quietly, still a bit dazed.

Amelia was peering at his wings, and Lina took one and lifted it, seeing that his back was slightly raw and bleeding from where they'd burst out. "Xelloss… how did you do this?"

He blinked and slowly stood up with Gourry's help. "What?" Then he caught sight of the large wings and his breath sucked in sharply and he nearly lost his balance again. "….wha…." He lifted one out of Lina's grasp, so he could stare with wide violet eyes. "…kami-sama…" He whispered softly, something akin to joy in his eyes.

They looked puzzled as a few tears trickled down his cheeks as he smiled and closed his eyes. "Yokatta…"

"What? What is this about?" Lina practically shouted in frustration.

He looked over at her with smiling eyes. "I never expected to see them again…" He shook his head at their confused glances. "The Dark Elves prized themselves on the beauty of their wings." He nodded to his and got a bitter look on his face. "I was quickly deprived of them upon my captivity."

Then, everything made sense to them….. the huge scarring on his back, and his reluctance to talk about it…. Filia smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm glad you've gotten them back then."

He returned her smile. "Hai…. Me too."

Then, Filia took her opportunity to change, and the others mounted her back as she prepared to take off. Minutes after they were safely in the air, they heard explosions, and they glanced back to see the entire island erupt in a bright flash of light. They watched silently, glad they were off of it….

The glide back was calm…. And Xelloss was enjoying himself stretching his revived wings as he soared beside Filia. She didn't seem to mind him buzzing around her head, occasionally landing on it and talking to her up front. The others just leaned back and enjoyed the ride as they headed back to the shore.

They reached the shore in no time at all as the sun was setting into the horizon behind them. They landed back at the inn, and sighed in relief, now that everything was over with. Filia looked exhausted, and nearly collapsed as they stood out front, but Xelloss wrapped an arm around her, supporting her lightly and smiled gently down at her whispering something in her ear, making her blush brightly. The others exchanged glances and winked as they went inside.

A bit later, they were going to the baths, and decided to all take one together so they could talk with each other. Lina and Amelia were relaxing in the water, towels wrapped around them and Zel and Gourry were leaning back soaking as well. Then Filia and Xelloss came in, and they smiled quietly knowing how close the two had fallen together as they slipped in. Xelloss' wings took up a lot of space, but Filia leaned against them since they were soft and he didn't seem to mind.

Lina sighed. "Well…. All's well that ends well, right?"

There were numerous chuckles from the others. "Yeah… guess so." Amelia giggled.

Zel cracked an eye open. "Yeah, things are working out great for once, ne?"

Everyone had peaceful looks on their faces, but Xelloss….. there was a disturbed look on his face, but no one noticed since they were relaxing…..

Filia sighed and leaned her shoulder against the soft black feathers and gazed up at his face. "Can't sleep?"

He smiled softly and traced her chin gently. "Nope…"

She leaned against his chest, feeling his heartbeat fluttering there softly. "Xelloss… can I ask you a personal question?"


Filia looked up at his face, staring deep into his violet eyes. "What… was your family like? Your wife and children?"

A sad smile crossed his face but he stroked her cheek. "Like you…." He whispered kissing her nose lightly.

Her blue eyes opened lightly. "Really?"

He nodded and then reached a hand out, and something glowed on his palm, and a small picture appeared in it. He held out the image to her, and she took it and peered at it. What she saw shocked her. There were four people there…. One was obviously Xelloss, laughing with a bright smile on his face as one child sat on his shoulder, their wings spread as if trying to fly off with him. The child had short chin length hair, much like his old cut, but it was white like his, but his eyes were blue. Next to him was a smaller person, a woman who looked astonishingly like Filia, only with white hair and dark skin like his, a bright smile on her face, and a daughter in her lap laughing happily, with long hair like her mothers. The picture radiated happiness…. And she felt sad inside herself. She looked up at him. "I'm sorry…" She whispered. He smiled lightly. "Don't be…. It's not your fault." He stroked her cheek. "She looked like you…. Maybe that's why I love you so much…" He looked sad, but she smiled.

"I don't mind…." She hugged him keeping the picture close to her chest. "If I could take her place in your heart…."

He smiled and leaned down and kissed her. "Yes…"

She smiled happily, and closed her eyes, feeling his heartbeat lull her to sleep….

Xelloss lay there watching her sleep silently, a sad look on his face. He then put a hand on her head and whispered before falling asleep himself. "I'm sorry my love….. I love you…"

Filia awoke slowly, to the sound of birds sweetly chirping out the window and the bright sunlight streaming into her face. Her head was resting against Xelloss' soft wings, and she lifted her eyes to gaze at his peaceful face sweet in sleep. She sighed as she gazed at the ceiling, with sunlight dancing across it as the dew reflected it. How could life be more perfect than now? She heard a few footsteps before the loud thunk of the door bursting open as Lina jumped in the room a bright smirk on her face. "Ok you two lovebirds… up and at em." She winked as Filia blushed and covered herself quietly. "Or you'll miss out on breakfast." Lina winked then left them be.

Filia blushed and looked at him, then nudged him in the ribs. "Oi, wake up you…" She kissed his cheek lightly, and smiled fondly as he didn't stir. "Come on…" She got up and dressed then, and went out to take care of her business, meeting Amelia there as well. They chatted and she brushed her long golden hair, then halfway through paused and realized he still hadn't come out. She sighed and walked back in. "Oi, come on Xel, you can't sleep all day you know." Amelia poked her head in curiously as Filia went over to the bed and pulled the covers off. She poked him in the stomach and scowled. "Come on…. Up."

She walked over and grabbed the windows and threw them open, flooding the room with sunshine, and turned about with her hands on her hips. "Come on lazy."

Amelia had come into the room and was standing there waiting with a smile for them to get about with awaking. However, after Filia kept bothering him, and he still didn't budge, Amelia felt a twinge of worry creep into her mind and she walked forward closer to the bed to glance down at him. She held her breath as she saw how pale his face was. Filia shook his shoulder then, looking rather irritated, and Amelia leaned forward slowly and took his wrist in her hand, and bit her lip as her breath stopped at the realization of her fears. Filia didn't seem to notice, and looked even more irritated. "What, should I bring mace-sama out!" She stalked off and hoisted the large iron mace up, and Amelia glanced up at her with tears beginning to spill over her eyes. Filia then noticed Amelia's stricken look, and paused. "What? What is it?"

Amelia glanced down at Xelloss' calm face again, then up to Filia's and her lip trembled. "Filia-san…."

She looked at Amelia puzzled. "What is it Amelia?" She glanced down at Xelloss then back up at her just as Lina and the others came stomping up the stairs.

"Oiiiiii what's taking you guys so long?" Lina scowled as she walked in, then paused seeing Filia's confused face, and Amelia's deathly pale and stricken one. "What's the matter?" She walked over to Amelia and put a hand worriedly on her shoulder. "Amelia?"

Amelia turned and buried her head in Lina's shoulder sobbing harshly. "L-Lina-s…san…." She bawled incoherently.

Zel walked over to the bedside and slowly put a hand on Xelloss' forehead, an emotionless expression on his face, then his fingers pressed into the mans' neck for a moment, then pulled away. His eyes kept lowered, and then he closed them and shook his head slowly.

Gourry looked from one to the other, to Filia's confused and fearful look, then sighed and slowly walked over to her and took the mace from her grasp and put it on the floor as what was going on slowly sank into her dulled mind. She couldn't rip her eyes away from his smiling peaceful face….. it couldn't be….. he was so… happy before….. She felt tears well up as she looked down at him and felt a sob choke out from her throat. Gourry wrapped strong arms around her, and she buried her face in his chest and began to sob uncontrollably, feeling all her grief spill out unraveling all at once in a flood of emotion.

Lina stared blankly down at him, a slight memory flickering to her mind. "He must… have known… back then when he woke up…. That the spell wasn't there anymore…" She whispered. "Or…. When Zelas…" She stopped and lowered her eyes.

Amelia looked over sadly and then her eyes widened in shock. "Look!" She whispered, causing them all to tear their eyes to him. His body was glowing faintly with a soft light, almost like the slight breeze of the summer was wafting in. There was a faint color around it, a slight golden glow that ran through and over the white that surrounded it…. Then, it seemed to constrict, and encircle him, and it became so bright that they had to shield their eyes. Then when it faded, he was gone…

They stared blankly at the slightly rumpled bedsheets where he'd lain just moments before…. They could hardly believe what they'd seen…. It was as if he was no more at all…. Just a slight memory in their minds of what had once been. Filia's soft sobs began again, and the dreamlike state broke as they realized it wasn't a dream or a fading memory, but reality that he'd not be with them again.

The wind blew the blossoms gently across the single gravestone upon a hill beneath a cherry tree in full bloom. Several figures stood there silently, placing some flowers by the headstone, while one knelt there with head bowed in grief. There was nothing they could say or do that would make it any different for her, nor change what had happened. They could only offer support and condolences, and moral companionship. Knowing that there was little more they could do for their dragon friend, they slowly left her be. She knelt there alone, and once they were gone, she reached into her skirts and pulled out something that glittered sharply in the soft light. She took one final breath, and then smiled quietly and laid her head on the headstone, kissing it lightly with her lips before sinking the dagger home…..

If you were to come back years later…. You might read something on the gravestone that was written in memory of one who was the last of his kind. And below it in a different scrawl, you might see added onto it, the words of a lover who wished to join him forever, despite the boundaries that was rifted between them.

Forever apart, forever as one.