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Prologue | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Ending Number 2
The closer they came to Zephilia the more green and lush the country became. Green hills rolled lazily before them, truly it was a beautiful country and no would deny that about Zephilia. Soon after crossing the into the country they began to see fields of grapes, the vines hung heavy with the purple fruit . The villages they passed all looked happy, people smiling talking of what a good harvest they were having this year. Life would have seemed perfect had the an underlying feeling of dread not settled over the party.
"Mr. Zelgadis look ahead of us, smoke.!" Everyone turned their attention to what the young Princess had pointed out. Drifting lazily in the sky were clouds of black smoke. Too much to be a camp and not enough to be a forest fire. Breaking into a run, they went to investigate.
A village or the remains of one at least, was what they found. Timbers from houses were all that was left standing, everything was smoldering. People walked around dazed, moans from the injured were carried on the wind, wails from ones that had lost family rose to everyone's ears. Slowly people were digging the dead from the burnt remains of the buildings.
"What did this? How did this happen?" The chimera pulled his hood and mask up before approaching anyone.
"Last night a mazuko came, he destroyed everything. Not many survived from this village. The towns people looked at the travelers with distrust. "There is nothing left to loot if that's what your thinking."
"No please, we're not looters. We are going to see your Queen. We saw the smoke and came to see what happened." Amelia felt her eyes burn, she understood what it was like to the target of monsters.
Gourry had been silent, looking at the damage caused by the monster. "You said it was just one mazuko that did this? Why did it destroy your village?"
"This isn't the first village to end like this. Survivors from other villages said he looked almost human. That he demanded that Lina Inverse come and face him. He is trying to draw her out, but we all know that she isn't a sorceress anymore. I sometimes wonder if that girl that claims to be her really isn't just an imposter."
Before anyone else could speak, Zelgadis decided it was time to leave. "Thank you and we are sorry for what happened. We will be on our way." Leaving he motioned for the others to follow.
They traveled for the rest of the day in silence, as no one felt like speaking. Everyone's thoughts were on the village. Xellos was slowly destroying village after village in attempts to draw Lina out. In a way it doesn't shock them that the Cephied Knight, Luna Inverse hadn't done anything to stop this, she did leave saving the world from Dark Star up to Lina, so she could work her job. In the distance they could see their goal, the capital city of Zephilia. Tension rose for everyone as they got closer to it. Gourry worried how is return would be greeted. Amelia and Zelgadis had been regular guests to the Inverse home.
"Do you think she will even want to see me?" Looking straight a head, his voice was the only thing that gave away the doubt that he was feeling.
"Of course she will, Mr. Gourry! Don't even think like that! What true warrior of Justice like Miss Lina wouldn't want to see an old friend that stood beside her all those times fighting in the name of Justice!" Amelia summoned all her positive emotions, raising her hand her she was about to go in for another round of speeches.
"Oh great, Gourry please don't make her go through that again. I was just getting her to stop that annoying habit." Zelgadis walked along looking green.
"Mr. Zelgadis that was mean! Am I really annoying?" Big brown eyes looked to the chimera starting to brim with tears.
Gourry looked at them and couldn't help it. He laughed at them raising his hand in apology to Zelgadis as the shaman tried to stammer out an apology for calling Amelia annoying.
The sun was setting as they came up to a house near the out skirts of the city. Stopping, Gourry just stood there looking at it. The first time he had come here was the last time he had seen Lina. He felt Amelia touch his arm and he knew she was talking to him but he didn't hear her. All he could do was look at the figure sitting on the porch of the house speaking with what looked to be a young mage. She looked to be even smaller than when he had known her. He hoped it was the fact that she was wearing a plain dress and not the colorful outfit that marked her as a sorceress. He could her hear speaking, her voice was softer than normal. He had only heard that tone a few times in his years with her. Her hands moved with motions that he knew well, she was giving instructions on a spell. His heart ached as he looked at her hair. Wild and free as she was, the flaming locks that hung in cascading waterfalls down her back were as white as snow. She had burnt her magic out and this time her hair wouldn't regain it's color.
"Gourry come on, we can't stand here all night." Zelgadis knew it was now or never and he wasn't sure how close Gourry was to turning back and leaving. The pain was cleary visible on the swordsman face.
Amelia took off away from the men and ran toward the house to her friend. "Miss Lina!!" She smiled startling the young mage as she threw her arms around the small woman.
"A..Amelia?" Lina Inverse let her arms embrace the girl that had knocked her back into the seat she had just rose from. She could feel the familiar texture of her traveling outfit and the talismans she wore. The smell of the road mixed with her perfumes drifted to her nose. "Amelia what are you doing here? I didn't expect you!" She smiled glad to have her friend here again letting her go.
Pulling away she stood next to Lina as Zelgadis made his way onto the porch. "Well she heard you were having a bit of problems with some pest so Amelia and I thought we would come and help you out." Zelgadis smiled and took Lina's outstretched hand pulling her to him and embracing her.
Lina felt the strong grip of the chimera and let herself be pulled into his arms. He had changed and she could feel it. His movements were softer, he had relaxed a lot since she first met him. Amelia was doing him a lot of good. She heard him chuckle and tell Amelia to stop sniffling as he let her go. She stood there facing them, happily listening the light banter of her old friends.
"Miss Lina, are these your friends we've all heard about?" The young mage finally found his voice as he stared at the chimera.
"Yes they are, and I hate to do this but I think the lesson is over for tonight." Lina smiled an apology to the boy as she followed his movement of gathering his things and leaving the porch.
"It's ok Miss Lina, see you tomorrow." He jumped off the porch looking nervously at the man in armor that hadn't said a word.
Lina smiled as she heard him running off down the road, he was her best pupil. "Come one sit down, I know you guys have to be tired from traveling. Hey Zel, stick your head inside the house and tell mom we have guests will you?" She laughed listening to Zelgadis protest being her lackey.
"Some things will never change." Looking back at Gourry he looked at Amelia, nodding. He had determined that Gourry wasn't going to speak up for himself. "So just tell your mom to have three extra plates ready and triple the food?"
"Three, who else is with you? Oh no Amelia, you didn't bring Phil along did you??" Lina stood up quickly bracing herself for the assault from the giant, Justice wielding Prince.
"Miss Lina that was mean! You still talk about Daddy like he was some sort of monster!" Amelia pouted.
Lina laughed at the young princess as she stood there. "So who is this third person?" Her impatience showing.
Gourry stood at the steps of the porch looking at Lina. As he moved closer, he could see faint strands of red mixed with her white hair. Too few, they only served to remind him that it took two years for that many to appear. Her eyes rested on him, but they didn't see him or anything else now. They had become as white as her hair. He stared into them, tiny specka of the once bold crimson glittered in the white depths. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he willed his voice to come out without shaking or betraying the emotions he felt. "Lina.."