Chapter Two: Precious Tragedy! Zelgadis's Lucky Tears!

I collapse in the garden on the same bench where Zelgadis had kissed Xellos. An appropriate place to cry one's eyes out- the place you lost your first love to a violet-eyed demon with Chinese silk for hair, flawless ivory skin, and legs that just won't quit. Worse still, a male violet-eyed demon with Chinese silk for hair, flawless ivory skin, and legs that just won't quit.

But Xellos is beautiful, and I am not. And he is with Zelgadis, and I am alone.

This is so confusing- one minute I'm happy for Zelgadis; the next I feel like wringing Xellos's throat. Or both of their throats.

I feel a hand suddenly descend on my head, rough stone gently smoothing back my hair and a soft voice whispering: "You okay, little sister?"

"No," I mutter, burying my face in my arms. "I got a letter from the Council. Daddy's sick." 'And you're fucking the mazoku instead of me.'

Zelgadis sits on the bench and I move my head to his lap. "I'm sorry," he says gently. "I know how close you are to him, and I understand how you feel."

"How could you?" I ask bitterly.

"I don't have a father anymore, you know," Zelgadis tells me. "He died a long time ago. It was . . . quite distressing."

I have to ask. "How did he die?"

"His heart was very sick," Zelgadis replies quietly, his fingers combing through my hair a bit distractedly. "And . . . when he saw what I had allowed myself to become . . ."

A tiny, sparkling sphere falls to his lap. For a moment, I almost fool myself into thinking it's a tear. But it sits on his leg, glittering, blue, and perfectly round, and I recognize it as a jewel.

"What on earth . . .?" I ask wonderingly, reaching out to touch it. Another, darker, one joins it, and I look up just in time to see a third fall from Zelgadis's eye.

It IS a tear.

He smiles down at me brokenly and makes a noise that would be a sob coming from anyone but him. "He died . . . in my arms. No one even blamed me. But that was the first time I cried like this . . . So you see, I cannot even mourn like a real human."

"Screw humanity," I say fiercely, hugging his waist. "You're my brother. You'll always be my brother, even if you become a human again. Even if you become a mazoku, you will always be my brother."

"A mazoku?" He blinks, suddenly puzzled. "Why would I become a mazoku?"

'Because Xellos is so beautiful, and I'm afraid that he is as seductive to you as the thought of your cure is. Because he has control over you now, and that means that he could talk you into serving his mistress,' I think, but I only say: "I just meant that your body doesn't matter as much as you say it does. Especially not to me."

"Thank you," Zelgadis says softly, crossing his ankles and reaching into his pack. He pulls out a large drawstring pouch and drops his three tears inside. He pauses for a moment; then holds the bag out to me. "These . . . I sell them sometimes, with luck charms or, um," he blushes slightly, "love spells on them. Magic takes very easily to them, you see, and I have lived off the profits without trouble before. They're part of the reason I don't need to steal like Lina does to support myself. So . . . I want you to have them, just in case. They come in handy."

I take the bag and let it fall open. Brilliant blue jewels spill over the dark velvet, and I can barely keep them all in my hands. "There are so many . . ." I whisper. "Onii-san, why do you cry so much?"

He doesn't answer me, only sighs.

"You shouldn't need to cry," I say tightly, blinking back my own tears. "You're such a wonderful person, you have lots of friends . . ." not to mention a lover . . . "plus, you're really strong and even Xellos admits that you look cool."

Zelgadis blinks at me; then bursts into laughter. "Amelia!" he cries.

"Whaaat?" I say defensively. "I mean, if you're just bummed out because you can't get any- well, if all else fails, you could always go out with him."

Zelgadis literally doubles over laughing. "Oh! My! GOD! Amelia, are you nuts?!"

So, their relationship is a secret then. How . . . appropriate.

"Or I guess you could try Miwan again . . ." I add thoughtfully.

"Please, Amelia-chan, I'm DYING!"

* ~ * ~ * ((-^_^-))v champion of justice! * ~ * ~ *

In the morning I feel slightly better and slightly worse at the same time. Xellos's smile seems somehow more genuine than usual, and Zelgadis blushes even more than he does on a normal day- which admittedly can be a lot, so Lina and Gourry don't seem to notice that anything's different.

Breakfast, as always, is a raucous affair, and Xellos eats the most sugary ice cream confection I've seen outside of Seyruun while Zelgadis won't touch anything that doesn't come in a coffee pot. Lina and Gourry are less picky and eat whatever's put in front of them, including certain portions of my meal and almost a chunk of the waitress's hand. If it weren't for the locals' certain mental skills, she probably would've lost a couple of fingers. This leads to the cute busboy from yesterday being sacrificed- um, "volunteered"- to take care of our table for the rest of the morning

He's a good sport, at least, and doesn't mind being pounced when he brings food, so he and Lina are getting along as well as the Dragon Spooker and anyone in the restaurant business could be expected to.

"You know," he says conversationally as he slips a plate past Lina and to me, "if you still want that new sword, there's a rather interesting one I've heard of in a nearby city . . ."

Lina cocks her head slightly and pauses with her fork still in her mouth. Gourry just about leaps out of his chair, grabs the busboy, and sits him down. The busboy "eep"s in surprise, which must be a first for him; telepaths aren't often surprised, after all.

"What were you saying?" Lina asks innocently, raising an eyebrow at him.

"Um . . ." The busboy sweatdrops slightly at the sudden attention. "It's just, there's a town a few miles down the road . . . it's called 'Onyx'. They're kind of famous in, um, 'certain circles'."

"Oh? I've never heard of it," Lina says, a trace of suspicion in her voice.

"I have," Zelgadis, Xellos, and I all say in perfect unison, though with varying levels of enthusiasm.

The busboy winces slightly as Lina gives him a Look. "Ah, the more . . . 'scholarly' magic-users know it rather well . . ." His voice trails off as Lina's expression gets very, very scary.

"Who needs that junk anyway?!" she yells. "I'm a beautiful sorcery GENIUS, and I learned my spells the hard way, not by being cooped up in some stupid library until I was too old to use 'em anyway!"

"I beg your pardon!" Zelgadis glares at her. "Are you calling me 'old', Lina?"

"Lina-san, it is so unjust to say that we wasted our time like that!" I cry in dismay, jumping to my feet and clenching my fists. "The pursuit of knowledge is a noble and worthy cause for any righteous champion of justice, and we should always answer its call! Nay, we MUST, for only in answering that sacred call may we truly consider ourselves as just and true!" The usual delight and love for mankind that comes with a really excellent speech swells in my breast, and I pause for a moment to relish it.

"Ow," Xellos mutters, wincing slightly and massaging his head.

"Amelia . . ." Zelgadis gives me a dubious look over his coffee cup. "Let's wait until AFTER breakfast to kill the mazoku, hm? I don't want him dying and ruining my appetite."

"What appetite?" Gourry asks, looking genuinely curious. Zelgadis twitches slightly.

"The SWORD?!" Lina yells.

Busboy (for lack of a name) pulls a book out of thin air in a way not unlike something Xellos might do. Another magic-user. Yay. "My name's Sonersay," he says out of what the others probably think is the blue. "And yes, I thought the magic-user bit was rather obvious, though I really wish you wouldn't compare me with the fruitcake mazoku."

"Um, sorry?" I try with a slight wince.

" 'Fruitcake', eh?" Xellos asks dryly. Zelgadis gets a slightly guilty look on his face.

"The sword I am referring to is the Sword of Diamonds, cliché as the name may be," Sonersay explains, flipping his book open and rifling through it. "Now, the town is a rather well-off place. Technically, it should be considered a city, but they pay heavily not to be. They do not like attention, because there are some somewhat iffy dealings going on there most of the time."

Lina raises an eyebrow again. "What kind of 'iffy' are we talking about here?" she asks suspiciously.

"As in the kind that sells things like the Sword of Diamonds with no questions asked," Sonersay retorts sourly, giving her a slightly dubious look. "I love you, Lina-sama; we all do. But I'm not fooling myself about you. It's not the sort of place that you'll have trouble dealing with, believe me."

"Sounds good, then." Lina grins and leans forward, gesturing with her fork. "Now, what's in that book, eh?"

"It's for the Princess," Sonersay tells her. "From Shizuka Kurasawa at the flower shop. Well, actually, I'm supposed to say it's from Dimitri, since Shizuka-chan isn't supposed to be giving you gifts, much less such a valuable one. Dimitri's pretty pissed that she's giving it to you, but if you're going to Onyx, you'll need it."

"What's it about?" I ask curiously, craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the cover. It's tattered and brown, with the words 'El Beso del Corazon' scripted in gold on the spine.

" 'Beso del Corazon'?" Lina reads. "What the heck's that mean?"

" 'Kiss of the Heart'," Zelgadis translates, blushing.

"To be honest, I don't really understand what the book's about, per se; I just know that Shizuka's always writing in it," Sonersay confessed. "It's been in her family for a while now, but it gets lent out a lot to travelers whenever the current Kurasawa heir decides it's 'needed'. Dimitri's ancestors have always been very close to the book too. They're very secretive about it, especially for Clarity, but from what I've understood, it's some kind of reference book."

"A reference book named 'Kiss of the Heart'?" Lina inquires flatly.

Zelgadis perks up. "Oh? What kind of reference book?"

"Sorry, no 'cure', as you so cutely phrase it," Dimitri says dryly, startling everyone but Sonersay as he leans over my shoulder and onto the table. "It's got maps and definitions for some pretty obscure stuff, but you, Prince Chimera, are one of a kind, and it doesn't get any more obscure than that."

"I hate to keep sounding stupid, but what the hell do you mean by 'Prince Chimera'?" Lina demands sourly.

Dimitri just shrugs and scoots up a little closer to me. "I have a present that's really from me," he tells me, pulling a beribboned pouch out from his vest pocket. "Seeing as the book's just a loan, and more Shizuka- chan's than mine, anyway."

"Th- thank you, Dimitri-san," I say automatically, catching the pouch as he drops it into my hands.

"Feh," he mutters, shrugging again. "It's just a few magical trinkets. You can look them up later in the book- it's easy to operate. You just stroke the spine, say what you want to look up, and let it fall open."

Lina snatches the book, runs two fingers up its spine, and says, "Sword of Diamonds," in an authoritative tone. She drops it open, and reads aloud, " 'La Espada bonita de Diamentes . . .' Oh, for crying out loud, it's all written in gibberish."

Zelgadis takes the book from her, raising a pebbled eyebrow. "For heaven's sake, Lina, it's only Spanish. Wait, let me guess- you took Latin instead." He clears his throat and begins to read haltingly, translating for our sakes as he goes. " 'The beautiful Sword of Diamonds . . . is legendary for the unbreakable quality of its blade . . .' "

"That'll come in handy, all right," Lina grumbles with no small amount of resentment. Gourry has already broken three swords this month in minor bandit-related skirmishes.

Zelgadis ignores her and continues: " 'The sword's blade is said to be made completely of a powerfully enchanted diamond . . . and is capable of damaging even high-level mazoku. It is also an excellent conductor of magic, especially . . . black or Nightmare magic. White magic is not as . . . potent, because a sword is designed to . . . do damage and it is designed to heal and purify. Shamanist, while not the sword's specialty . . . works far better than white magic . . .' "

"I can still hit stuff with it, right?" Gourry asks worriedly.

"Yes, Gourry, you can still hit stuff with it," Zelgadis replies dryly, closing the book and sliding it over to me. "Besides, if we go after this sword, it will be for the strength of the blade, not its magical abilities. You wouldn't need the channeling abilities, though Lina may be able to make use of them if we ever run into another Dark Lord or anything to that effect. To be honest, the thing's so perfect for our purposes that one might call it a deus ex machina."

"What, like L-sama got writer's block?" Xellos looks amused. "Interesting view, Zel-kun."

"You said it, not me." Zelgadis smirks into his coffee cup and Xellos chuckles almost warmly.

I open Dimitri's pouch and shake it out into my hand while the others debate the merits of the sword vs. the possibility of yet another trap. Four small clear crystals and one larger one drop into my free hand. For a second, they spark the same cerulean as my remaining two pentacles, and then all trace of color vanishes from their surfaces.

My fingers stroke the book's binding briefly, and I mutter, "Dimitri's gift," for lack of a more technical name.

Curiously enough, the book opens to a page labeled "Regalo de Dimitri", with an ink sketch of the four crystals, each with a blurred silhouette behind them and a brief incantation that I couldn't even begin to pronounce scrawled underneath them.

"Translation?" I ask hopefully. The words blur; then come clear in recognizable script, thankfully. " 'These are my loves,' " I begin under my breath.

" 'This is my soul

These are the ones

Keeping me hale and whole . . .

Spirit Charm.' "

I realize a moment too late that I don't know what in hell this spell is going to do.

~ * ~ * End Chapter Two * ~ * ~ *

Author's Notes:

In the likely case that you haven't read my webjournal, here's a copy of the post I put up today, because you'll most likely be interested if you're a fan of this story.

"Good news for those of you who read "Slayers REGAL"- I'm finally getting off my butt and writing in it again. I should be posting the new chapter by the end of the day.

It takes a while for me to finish an update in "REGAL" since the chapters tend to be longer than the typical installment for (the prologue was brief enough, but chapter one was about seventeen pages long. O_O;; ). Meh. I'll most likely be making them shorter from now on. Either way, you guys get more bang for your buck; either because I'm updating faster or because I'm giving you longer chapters."

* ~ * ~ * ((-^__^-))v champion of justice! * ~ * ~ *