Jeniam's spot on the web | home
Chapters 1-3 | Chapter 4-6 | Chapter 7-9 | Chapter 10-12 | Chapters 13-15 | Chapter 16-18 | Lost Universe: An end | Deja Vu | And Then There were None | Kane's Cloak Dilemma
Chapter Ten: Relations
Veronica screamed in terror. Her sons rushed in from outside to see what the matter was. Zel sat straight up from his dozing.
After ten minutes, she stopped screaming and was finally calm. When she had sufficiently had enough time to examine her vision, she told her family and guests about it.
"That sounds like something a junkie would see on a bad trip," Jeremy commented when his mother had finished.
"But what does it mean?" Gourry moaned. It didn't matter how many times it was explained to him, magic was magic. Black, white, purple, didn't matter to him. It was all the same.
"Well, the song, I have no idea. The murder, I have no idea," Veronica answered, only to be cut off with Lina protesting, "What kind of fortuneteller are you? You can't even understand your own visions?!"
"Look, you stupid girl, sometimes the images are unclear and personal to the subject in question. Personally, these two elements make no sense in relation to Zelgadis. He has never witnessed a murder, to my knowledge, and I have never heard a song such as the one I heard. Anyway, the last bit makes sense. The temple I saw was obviously a Death Angel temple."
"Please, Gourry, in the name of all that's good and..." Lina started.
"What's a Death Angel?" Gourry interrupted. Lina's head hit the table with a loud BANG. She moaned and looked at him in disgust, "Gourry, when you were born, were your parents insane and thought it would be really funny if they locked you in a closet for 17 years and then let you out and told you, 'Go on, now! Find your fortune!' Huh? Come on, Gourry! Do you know anything?!"
"I want to know is what a Death Angel is, is that so wrong?" Gourry pleaded.
"Fine, tell him. Maybe he'll listen to you, Veronica," Lina waved her hand at Veronica.
Veronica sighed, "Fine. I will." Mysterious flute music started to play. "When we die, our bodies rot away but our souls go to the AfterLife that we deserve. Death Angels are our guides and, some say, our judges. Death Angels rarely interfere with day-to-day activities. So, they're not exactly going to be the ringleaders in any Dark Lord's rebirth. A Death Angel temple is a holy ground. They were built long ago near cemeteries. It is said that they are the 'summer homes' of the Death Angels and building one made the journey to the AfterLife much easier. But, no one builds them anymore since everyone figures that the Death Angels can get to the souls just fine without the temples. There are few left." She paused, and then continued, "I believe that the other parts of Zelgadis are being kept in one of these temples."
"Well, which one?" Lina asked.
"I don't know. It's near a forest and there is a river," she shuddered, "a river of decaying bodies, zombies perhaps. I do not recall the town and although there was mist, I saw no large bodies of water. Malcolm, this isn't the time for your flute practice."
"Okay," Malcolm put away his flute.
"Personally," Amelia speaking up after a long period of silence, "I find the murder the most disturbing part. I was thinking... oh, never mind, it is a silly idea..."
"No," Veronica prompted, "what were you thinking?"
"Well, Victoria was adopted, right? So, maybe, the woman you saw killed was her birth mother."
"Impossible. The woman fell face first. The baby's skull would have been crushed."
"Even though this whole thing is really creepy," Gourry leaned his chair back on the back two legs, "I thought that song was pretty neat!" Lina hit him on the head, making him fall backwards.
"You idiot! We're talking about life and death here and you're thinking about the stupid song?!"
"The song could be important though," Elise interrupted, unknowingly saving her mother-in-law's house, "you even told me once that every element was important, no matter how silly and off-topic it may seem. Maybe the song was a clue to the location."
"There's only one way to find out," Veronica said, "we must visit the one man whom has traveled extensively. The only man whom could solve this mystery!"
"You mean...?" Elise asked, wide-eyed.
"Yes..." Veronica answered.
"WE'RE GOING TO GRANDPA'S!!!" Jeremy and Malcolm cried, in unison, doing a little victory dance.
"Oh, yippee," Lina said, dryly, "we could be morons and consult a map, a history book, or even a bandit gang, but, no, we're going to some grizzled old man's house."
They walked through the street, admiring the dusk sky along with the overexcited Zel, whom had never been out in the streets this late before. All of a sudden, he stopped going on about the colors and just stared at Lina and
"Why is he staring at me like that?" Lina asked herself. Zel stared from Gourry, to Lina, back to Gourry and again to Lina.
Finally, his mind made up, he pointed at Gourry, "#Robin Hood.#" and pointed at Lina, "#Maid Marian.#"
Amelia translated and Lina asked, "What's that all about?"
"#You must hold hands.#" Zel ordered. Upon hearing the translation, Lina barked, "No!"
"I don't see anything wrong with holding hands, Lina," Gourry shrugged, trying to avoid a fight.
"No means no, Gourry," Lina glared, "no matter what Zel says." Zel scrunched his face up and balled his fists.
Jeremy looked on in horror, "Oh no! He's preparing for a major temper tantrum! Hold hands, quick!" Zel started making those "adorable" whining noises that signal a temper tantrum. Lina roared in anger and grabbed Gourry's right hand, "There. Happy?" Zel's face returned to normal and he continued skipping, swinging Amelia's left arm.
"Why did he insist on us holding hands anyway?" Lina grumbled.
"Because he figured you were a couple. Love is simple and clear-cut to a child," Veronica said, trying not to smile too wide. She shook her head. Gourry was trying desperately to not look like he was the happiest guy under the sun's dying rays and she knew Lina would enjoy the moment more if she tried not to be a tough girl all the time. The real kicker was that neither knew why they felt the way they did. Ah, young love!
Veronica looked at her young nephew. He looked up at her and smiled. Perhaps he had come to a similar conclusion.
"Never could leave well enough alone," she thought. She smiled back.
"Where is this guy's house anyway?" Lina moaned, trying to ignore how sweaty Gourry's hand was and how much it had engulfed her own. "I never realized how big his hands were," she thought.
"Just a block away. Not far," Veronica answered, cutting off her previous musings. As they turned the corner, they saw the house. It was a two-story house made of unpainted wood. It was clearly an upper class house. "This is my father's house."
"Wait a sec. How exactly are you related to Zel, again?" Lina asked.
"I was his father's cousin."
"Whose side was Rezo on?"
"He was Zelgadis' paternal grandfather and great-grandfather but we won't go into that right now."
"So, that means... your father is Rezo's brother?!"
"Yes, that is correct."
Lina gasped, "He is still ALIVE?!"
"Of course!" Veronica knocked on the huge, brass door knocker. They waited for only an instant but then the door swung open.
The man who opened the door was...
"It's that guy! The creepy one with the chiming staff! It's... it's Mezzo!" Gourry screamed.
"Rezo?" Lina corrected.
"Which ever! He's dead. We killed him, twice!"
Amelia dropped Zel's hand and jumped in front of the party and on to the mailbox and pointed a finger at the man, "How dare you impersonate a dead guy! Especially one sided with evil! Why do you desire to portray a man who wished to resurrect Ruby Eye to serve his selfish needs?!"
"Um... dearie?" The man interrupted with a voice unlike Rezo the Red Priest's, "One, why are you standing on my mailbox? Two, who are you? Three, what are you talking about?"
"To answer your questions, one, when a Champion of Justice speaks to an Evil-Doer, they must go to the highest place available to convince them to change their evil ways. Two, I am Amelia Wil Tesla de Sayruun, the Crown Princess of Saillune, champion of Justice. Three, I am talking about you impersonating Rezo, the Red Priest!"
"One, how does going to high ground help you? Two, why are you here and not in Saillune? Three, I am not impersonating my little brother, may he rest in peace."
"Stop that! Geez, we just thought you were Rezo for a second, sorry. Who are you, anyway?" Lina asked.
"My name is Anthony, I am Rezo's older brother. Now, what are you doing here?"
"We've come to ask you a question about something," Veronica explained.
"Well, come in, at least. I have some tea. Anyone?" Anthony led them inside to a large, richly furnished sitting room with bird cages all around. Zel made a beeline to one of the cages to stare at a pair of songbirds in a wicker cage. Anthony swept out of the room while the group found seats and commented on the birds. Anthony came back with the tea and sat in the large, overstuffed chair.
"So, ask away. What do you want to know?"
"How old are you?" Gourry asked. Lina bonked him on the head. "Well, that's something I want to know."
"Old enough. Anything else?" Lina and Amelia told the story of Zel's attempted suicide and when they had finished, Veronica told him of her vision.
"Do you know that's three Greywords in a row that have tried or successfully committed suicide? What's wrong with this family? I think it's got something to do with Rezo. I'm okay, my children are okay and so on. But back to the issue," Anthony sipped his tea, "the song. Yes, I have heard it. It is a song about the Spring Goddess, Brighid. She was mainly worshipped in the Lazarus Islands. But only one had a Death Angel temple, that island was Mead."
"But the woman's murder, what was that all about?" Amelia asked, concerned.
"I have no idea. Maybe we don't know all of Zelgadis' secrets, maybe he has seen such an event and never bothered to mention it."
"But he has never been to the Lazarus Islands," Gourry added. When everyone gave him a funny look, he stammered, "I bet him once that I had traveled more square miles than he had. So we looked at an atlas and added up all the areas of the countries or regions we had visited. He didn't include the Lazarus Islands. I won, by the way," Gourry smiled. Zel laughed at one of the birds.
Anthony placed his cup down, "Well, is that all?"
"No," Lina piped up, "how do we get there? And what town is the temple in?"
"I know of a boat that is going near the islands in two days but as for the town, I have no idea. I'm sure a local would know where it is," Anthony shrugged, "Since there are no more questions, I'm tired and want to go to bed. So, if you don't mind..."
"Oh, of course, Father. Come on," Veronica made her way towards the door and the others said their farewells.
When Amelia turned to go, Anthony grabbed her shoulder and said, "Just a minute. I need to tell you something alone."
Veronica turned around but Anthony just waved her off. Veronica gathered up Zel, who was still enraptured by the birds, and told the others that Amelia would catch up.
When the others were gone, Anthony beckoned her to reseat herself and he settled himself back into his chair.
"There was something you wanted to say?"
"Yes," Anthony answered, "something I didn't want the others to know. It concerns Zelgadis."
"Is he in danger?"
"Of course, but that's not what I'm talking about. You're 18, correct?"
"Well, when you were born, Zelgadis was six, the age he appears now. Anyway, when you mother went into labor with you, the news spread all over Saillune. Everyone, so I heard, had their fingers crossed. That day was also a market day. Zelgadis' village was in your city at the time. Now, at the time, the people noticed that all the birds were grouping together, even birds that never flocked were grouped together. Predators were eye to eye with prey but
they did not hunt. The birds had formed a huge disk above the square, all of them squawking. The people were very unnerved by this formation.
As the story goes, Zelgadis and his mother were going through the stalls when Zelgadis suddenly sprinted off. His mother, of course, panicked and ran after him. He headed to the square where the disk of birds was. He went right under it when they swooped down, hiding him from view. At first, the people were terrified. They thought he was being eaten alive but the birds soon spread out and formed an hourglass formation around Zelgadis. His mother asked him if he
understood what was happening. He replied that he did. The birds had come to deliver a message to him."
"What was the message?" Amelia asked.
"That is what his mother asked and he told her that 'the princess that will save my soul has come'. That exact moment, I hear, news reached the crowd announcing that the second princess of Saillune had been born. And, as suddenly
as they came, all the birds flew away."
"What did Zelgadis mean by that?"
"I used to wonder that myself," Anthony sighed, "I thought it made no sense. How was she going to save his soul? And did his soul need to be saved? But as soon as I saw you and how Zelgadis interacted with you, I think I understand." He leaned forward, "I think you are the only one who can save him. You are the key element in fixing this problem. Perhaps, you _are_ his innocence. But, I am only musing here. The musings of an old man, despite my looks."
He rubbed his hands together, "Well, you should be off. Do you need directions?"
Amelia stood up and shook her head, "No. I can find my way."
Anthony showed her out and she began to walk back to Veronica's house. She look at the early stars and thought over what Anthony had told her, " 'The princess that will save my soul has come'? But how do I do that? Why is
everything so confusing all of a sudden?"
To be continued...
Author's Notes: Geez, I don't have any. No, wait! I do! I hear that the reason that Gourry is "stupid" is because the audience would be totally lost if Lina didn't have to stop and explain the "simplest of things" to him. Now, I know how useful the flaw is! While I was writing, I realized that no one knows what a Death Angel is except me! Bless you, Gourry! C&C are needed and welcome at email@example.com!
Chapter Eleven: Meanwhile
Amelia felt dirty and slimy. If she could just rinse the grime away, she would be all right. But after three hours in the bath that night, she realized the grime had become one with her skin and no matter how hard she scraped,
it never went away.
She could hear that creature snoring. She felt like throwing up. If she had just made a decision right away, may be the Council would have not taken matters into their own hands. She had been adventuring with Lina and Gourry at the time when she had seen the announcement in the local news of the village.
"What do I know?" she had thought, "Maybe they chose a prince that was all for peace and justice!" She bid farewell to Lina and Gourry. They wished her happiness in her marriage and promised to visit soon. She hurried home to meet her husband-to-be. She was a little dismayed at his figure, which was round, but "looks aren't important". She married him after only a few conversations with him.
When the priest had said, "And you may kiss the bride," and he had kissed her, she then realized her mistake. His kiss was slimy and it felt like he was trying to eat her rather than kiss her. At the reception, he announced that he had banished Gourry and Lina Gabriev from Saillune, "to protect this city." Amelia could do nothing, not for lack of trying, but the Council had agreed on the issue and the law had already been laid down, irreversible.
Then they arrived at this honeymoon resort and she had to submit to his... desires. This was Hell in its purest form. No sugar added, no artificial flavors, no preservatives, just good wholesome Hell. Tomorrow would be the same. And the next day. And the next day. Forever and ever more.
That's why she was filling up the bath again. The sound was calming and innocent. No one would think twice about the bath filling up. No one would even bother to turn their heads around the corner. Perfect. Of course, no one knew that she had already filled up the bath and then pulled the plug. The water was still at the same level, the same amount flowed out as it rushed in. No point flooding the place. The bathroom was nice, no need to give it water damage. That
wasn't very polite.
Deciding that the noise was not going to wake the creature, she slid in the bath with her new-found friend. A razor blade. She stuffed a rag in her mouth to keep from involuntarily screaming and waking the creature and positioned the blade on her wrist. She could have never used a knife, still had a morbid fear of them. But razors, to her sub-conscious, were safe. If you can fool your friends, you can fool your enemies.
She looked at the room, admiring the color scheme and replayed all the good times she had. Dressing Gourry as a girl and him getting hit on by that silly captain, being the star in a play, catching lake dragon, singing that silly song with Lina, playing brass racquets with Xellos, dressing Gourry up as a girl AGAIN and getting Zelgadis in a dress too. She smiled. She had heard that when one dies, their entire life flashes before their eyes. So, she would be able to relive all of those moments again.
She took a deep breath. She felt a little sorry for Lina and Gourry but she would see them again on the other side. Before then, she could watch over them and see them have kids whom would have adventures too. She could be their guardian angel. She would like that. And she would be with her mother again, so she wouldn't be lonely. Maybe Zelgadis was there too.
"I guess we'll finally be together, Mister Zelgadis," Amelia said quietly. Then she cut herself and smiled.
"NOOOO! That can't happen! I won't allow it! It's not fair!" Hannah cried and banged against the steel viewscreen, "What is the probability of this event occurring?"
The asexual voice replied, "If events flow as they do presently, then there is a 40% to 50% chance of this occurring."
"No. Why my little girl? I want her to be happy, why does she have to die like that? In such pain?" She lifted herself away from the viewscreen, which had since gone blank, "What can be done to prevent this?"
"To prevent this event," the voice responded, "two events must occur and the second depends on the first. First, the human known as Zelgadis Greywords must live. Second, the human known as Zelgadis Greywords must marry the human known as Amelia Wil Tesla de Sayrunne."
Hannah's face flushed with anger, "That little twerp! Ha, Zelgadis is nothing more than a whiny brat! I wouldn't allow it," she paused, "but if I don't, my little baby will die. And I can't permit that. But what can I do? The Death Angels want him for something. I can't stop them." She exited the Prediction Hall and went towards her Viewing Pool, in frustration, she stomped her foot and said, "It's not fair!"
"It's not fair!"
The words echoed back to her but they were spoken by another woman. She went towards the source of the sound. When she came upon the site, she didn't know whether to laugh or scream in terror.
The voice belonged to a certain purple haired woman. She too was dead, as Hannah was, and had wrapped her arms around a Death Angel's leg. That woman was Victoria Greywords.
"No one said life was fair," The Death Angel said. She was blonde and had green eyes.
"Life was fair? I'm dead! I think the AfterLife should be fair!"
"Well, no one said the AfterLife was fair. Let go of me!"
"No! You promised me that if I died, you would let Zelgadis go free. You said you wouldn't take him!"
The Death Angel laughed and bowed to Victoria's level, "I'm afraid you misunderstood me. I never said I wouldn't take him. I said, 'I will not take him NOW, erase his memory of you and William and leave you sterile.' Am I doing exactly what I said? I never said I'd never take him."
"I never lied. It's not my fault you didn't understand my intentions. Besides, you betrayed US, by marrying that stupid man over there, breaking every rule we live by. You could've been a great queen but you had to sabotage yourself. But, your son, at that age, had such promise! He has no one left anyway. No one to love him, no where to go. Only a non-existent cure kept him going and even that didn't last long, as I'm sure you observed. I will not waste such power and ability! It's too late for you but he will make a fine king. Maybe even better than you could've been. But, that's not important right now, I have matters to attend to." With that, she shot a shocking spell at Victoria's fingers and released herself. She "hump"ed and continued on her way.
Victoria mimicked her own son's gesture by hitting the ground with her fist in anger. All was lost. He was mortal. He was MORTAL. They couldn't make him into their perfect king because he was perfect as he was, with all his flaws and quirks. That why she liked mortals, they were perfect in their imperfection. But to make him their perfect king, they would have to sandblast his perfect flaws and he wouldn't be her precious little boy anymore.
She felt someone watching her. She whirled around, catching Hannah off-guard, "Enjoy the show?" she asked gruffly, wiping the tears away.
"I'm... sorry. I just heard you and wondered if there's anything I can do?" Hannah stuttered pathetically.
"No, there isn't," she turned away then did a second look at her guest, "You're Amelia's mother, aren't you?"
"You mean Amelia of Saillune?"
"Yes, her. Pretty girl."
"Yes, I am her mother. Are Zelgadis Greywords' mother?"
"Yes, he is my son."
Hannah resisted the urge to scream at her for having such a spoiled brat for a son. Instead she asked, "What exactly is the problem?"
"My sisters made a promise to me and now they have broken it... and there's nothing I can do."
Hannah nodded. She remembered what she had seen in the Prediction Hall. "You shouldn't give up!"
"Never give up! You're a mother, full of love for Zelgadis! Love is on your side. Love always prevails!"
"Geez, now I know where your daughter gets it."
"I'm serious!" Hannah struck a Justice pose, complete with the pastel laser beams and stars behind her, "You can't just sit back and watch your son get taken or whatever it is they're trying to do to him! Love will always triumph no matter the odds!"
Victoria balled her fists and stood up beside her, "You're right! I have to do something! Will you help me?"
Hannah took Victoria's fists in her hands and nodded, "Yes, of course!"
They then pumped their arms in the air, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"
"No. No. No!" William Greywords shook his head ferociously.
"Why not?!" Victoria pleaded, "He's your son too! And I can't do it alone!"
"No means no! If we fail, we're all doomed. We are powerless!" He held on to his wife's shoulders, "Look, I know it's horrible and it shouldn't be happening but there's nothing we can do. You just have to accept it."
"No, she shouldn't!" Hannah interrupted, "Children are the most valuable treasures, they are our future! Nothing should stand in a parent's way when it comes to the safety of their children!"
"Okay, great. Back to reality," William sighed, "look, he wanted to die anyway, we all saw that. They're giving him a chance of a better life! It's true what they say, he has no one to look after him and no where to go."
"Hm... I wonder why..." Victoria asked, sarcastically.
"What is THAT supposed to mean? Are you saying this is all my fault?"
"No, it's not all your fault, it's Rezo's too!"
"What do you mean it's my fault?" Rezo asked, shocked out of his silence.
"Well, the only reason my son is such a crackpot is because he was traumatized by his father committing suicide right in front of his face and don't get me started on the torment Rezo, his own grandfather, put him through. Yes, I think it's both of your faults this is happening!"
"Yeah, you're not exactly great in the parenting department," William said to Rezo and Rezo snapped, "Well, at least I didn't commit suicide when your mother died!"
"Oh, you mean my sister?" William replied sarcastically.
"It was an honest mistake!"
"Enough!" Hannah did a karate chop between them, "fighting is not going to help your son or grandson. We have to bond together, united as one force!"
"You can't just run away from this!" Victoria added, "If you want to redeem yourselves in the eyes of Zelgadis, then you must help me!"
"Fine, we'll help but now what? How are we going to help him?" William asked.
"I know how," Victoria said, giving them all a serious stare, "We must go to the Palace of the Death Angels and stop them ourselves!"
To be continued...
Author's Notes: Tehehe! That was fun to write even though the first part was hard. But, I prepared myself beforehand by reading dark, angsty fics! By the way, I really do like Zelgadis and Amelia, I just think it's fun to point out Zelgadis' bad points. Also, parents rarely like their child's spouse, so... Anyway, C&C are welcome and needed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come back soon!
Chapter 12: Justice
Cold. Still. She felt cold and still to his touch. It's not true. It can't be true. Katherine was behind him, silent as stone.
He said to the wall, "It's not true. Young people never die. Only the old do. Everyone knows that."
"Dis, she's dead. Accept it!" Katherine snapped back with a solemn expression.
Zel spun around, "You lie! She's just asleep, s'all. Just sleeping." He began to shake her, "Wake up. Show her you're alive." She did not respond. "Come on! Wake up!" He lost all his strength and began sliding to the floor, "Only old people die... wake up..." He began to wail. His mother did not respond to his cries. She never did again.
The heat of the funeral fire made his sweat drip down his face in long lines. He was not crying now. Neither was his father. The rest of the village was bawling their eyes out, including Eris. He looked indifferently at the dancing flames. He could hear his father say something to himself but he could not hear the exact words. His father was patting his shoulder. He bent down to his son's height.
"You'll be okay. Life will move on."
"I know," he was saying back, without feeling it. He had been hearing only that for the past week. "Okay" was beginning to mean nothing to him.
"Just promise me something." Zel nodded, he wasn't listening though. "I want you to be strong. And to help others. And remember to stand up for yourself. Lead a good life. Remember your parents." He took a breath, "Remember that whatever you do, we will always love you. You are our golden child, remember that. I promise me that you'll never forget how special
and beautiful you are."
He went to a standing position sharply and strode elegantly to the fire. Zel could hear everyone whispering to give his father his space. In a blink, he was jumping and flames were consuming him.
Chaos erupted. Women screaming, children asking questions or crying, men running around, shouting orders that no one was following. And Zel's father cremated himself before their very eyes. Zel's knees started to give and he didn't fight. He slid to the ground, emotionless. He was just sitting there, apart from the chaos around him. It was just him and the fire. Not a tear fell. He was staring at the ground now. He said aloud, though no one alive was
listening to him.
He was in one of his grandfather's many labs. He was also bound to a tilted metal table. He couldn't move.
"Grandfather?" he called. No answer. "Grandfather? Can you let me go now?"
"Zelgadis, I want you to stay calm."
"Calm? Just let me go!"
"You want to stop hurting yourself, don't you?"
"For the last time, I don't do those things! Let me go!" He began to cry.
"I want to try something. It may work, it may not." Zel could hear a switch clicking somewhere in the darkness.
"Grandfather? What is that sound?"
"An invention of mine. I vow I will cure you of your ailment."
"Stop it, Grandfather! You're scaring me! Let me go!"
"Now, stay still. Stay calm."
"ERIS!!! HELP ME!!! MAKE HIM STOP THIS!!!!"
"Stay calm. You'll feel better soon."
He began to beat against the metal plank he was bound to.
"Let me go! Grandfather, let go!"
"Who's there?" Zel asked the darkness. No one answered but he could feel someone in his room. He heard someone skitter across the floor quickly but no one was there. He turned the oil lamp on. Nothing was there.
"The treatment is just making me paranoid, that's all. It's all in my mind, just like Grandfather told me." He blew the lamp and now he clearly could see a decaying woman with a knife in her fist.
The woman cackled, "Die, Befallen Prince! DIE! FEEL MY TORMENT AND SUFFERING!!!"
"I have no quarrel with you! I have no quarrel with you!" he chanted as he had chanted numerous times before just as his mother had instructed him so long ago. But it didn't work. The knife collided with his ribs and stayed there. The woman cackled and dissipated. Zel screamed for help and turned on the oil lamp. The knife slid out of his body painfully, all by itself. He ran to the single mirror and saw the growing mass of blood spewing out of his chest.
The door swung open and Eris ran in. She screamed at him as he fell to his knees in agony, "What in the HELL did you do to yourself?!"
"Try not to get into trouble, okay?" Eris asked.
"Yeah, yeah, sure," Zel waved her off.
It had been three years since his parents had died. Most people recover from such an event in that time, he suspected, but not him. He could still feel her cold fingers under his and he could still feel the heat of the fire on his face.
He never mentioned this to his grandfather, "Such feelings are pointless," he had once said to him. End of conversation. Besides, his grandfather was too worried about his grandson's "condition". Telling him that he was still upset over the deaths would just make things worse.
As far as Zel could tell, he was more distraught because the medication was not working. It was actually making things worse. Grandfather thought it was all Zel's subconscious fears and anguish coming out to play but Zel knew himself better than that. He was stronger than that.
Currently, Eris and his grandfather were debating whether or not to quit the treatment.
But, in Sailunne, that issue was unimportant. Zel was going to forget about his grandfather's creepy, dark mansion and have some fun with his old friends.
Now that he was thinking about it, everyone seemed very somber. He looked up. The flags were at half-mast. He went over to a shopkeeper, "What's wrong with the flags?"
The shopkeeper sadly looked in the direction Zel was pointing, "Oh, a great tragedy has struck our great city. Our beloved Princess, Hannah, is dead."
"Dead?" He asked, not out of pity, but out of curiosity.
"Yes, an assassin came in and killed our beloved Princess."
"Oh. Well." He walked away. He was not saddened by the news. Over the last three years, he numbed beyond measure to anyone else's torment or sorrow.
"I don't see why everyone is so sad, though," he thought, "sure, she's dead and all but it's not like they knew her personally." The more he thought about it, the more confused and angry he became. It didn't make sense.
He found himself in the dark alleys, the places that Sailunne does not advertise. It is simply swept under the carpet when special guests arrived but the bulge is clear to one who knows it's there.
He sat on the curb and watched blue-collar workers go back to work after lunch. A woman in a pink frock with a white apron was walking past him. Another woman in a yellow frock with white daisies on it ran up to her.
"Hey," the yellow dressed one said, "how's it going?"
"Alright, I guess," the pink dressed one replied.
"Did you hear about the Princess?"
"Shame, shame. She was pretty, wasn't she?"
"Beautiful hair, all done up in a bun, like last time she went in the city."
"Yeah. How's your mother?"
The yellow dressed one frowned, "Not well. The sickness is getting worse, I'm afraid."
"Yeah. She had a good life. I'll miss her though. The doc says there's nothing he can do. She came to him too late."
"Never could ask for a hand, could she? You going to be okay?"
"Yeah, I guess. She's not dead yet, but the doc said weeks. I knew it was going to happen sometime, I just didn't think so soon. She's my mam, you know?"
"Do you have the arrangements...?"
"Yeah, I took care of most of them two days ago."
"Such a shame. She's done so much for this part of town. It won't be the same without her. If you need anything, just call me, okay? Listen, I gotta go. Hope everything will be okay."
The pink dressed one and the yellow dressed one parted ways.
Zel sat in silence, digesting what he had heard. Then he became very angry.
"That woman's Mama is going to die, and no one is going to care. This Princess lady is dead and people who don't even know her are crying!" He stood up, "It's not fair! No one person is more worthy than another."
He had to make this hypocrisy stop somehow. He ran and ran. He ran into a message board. Removing his face from the surface, he noticed what was on it. It was a flier, saying that the Princess of Saillunne was dead. It went on saying how wonderful she was and what a tragedy her death was. Zel looked at it for a very long time. Then he ripped the paper off the message board and ripped it in half. And ripped those halves in half and those halves in half and so on
until it was confetti.
It wasn't enough. He walked a little farther along. On the wall was a copy of the same flier. In a rage, he torn it off the wall and stomped on it and ripped it up. Again and again, every single flier he came across, he destroyed. Tears came to his eyes, "Hypocrites!" he chanted. All he think about was the cold fingers and the hot flames and the dark mansion and loud machine that made him throw up and the people screaming in his room and opening holes in his chest
and everyone thinking he was suicidal. And how nobody cared.
It wasn't enough. He had to completely destroy hypocrisy, he had to make them see how this treatment was unfair.
Somehow, he had wound up at the Temple of Cephied. He couldn't remember how he had gotten there. He went inside. There was a service going on and it was near the end. They were at the part where they were cleansed of their sins and troubles. The priest was chanting the words of cleansing and sprinkling water on the sinners' heads.
Hypocrites. As soon as they left the temple, they would go back to whatever they came in for. Behind the priest was the most hypocritical thing of all. All their talk of helping the poor was being slapped in the face with the golden banner of Cephied. The banner must have cost as much as the temple itself and it hung in its hypocritical glory.
It had to go. It simply HAD to GO!
Zel joined the procession and slowly inched forward to the priest. When it came to his turn, he kept walking.
"Boy, you're not allowed back there," the priest said to him. Words, just words.
"I go where I please," he answered. He turned to the banner and grabbed the end. With all his strength, he gave it a mighty tug. The ripping of the rich fabric vibrated and echoed throughout the temple. Then, like a waterfall, fluttered down to gather in Zel's hands.
The people stood in shock as Zel darted out the door.
He ran and he ran. There was a port, he had seen it and it was nearby. He ran through the streets of Saillunne, not caring who he knocked over. He could hear the hypocrites at the church following, bemoaning the fate of their symbol of their ways.
Along the way, he snatched a box of matches from someone's open hand.
He finally reached the cliff overlooking the calm and turbulent sea. He struck the match and lit the God's head on fire. He dropped the banner, watching it burn like his father had done. That time, it had been a sorrowful event. Now, he felt happy. Maybe they will at last understand.
He heard a woman scream. "The fools," he thought, seeing them coming towards him, "I am doing them a great service."
The priest ran up to him and screamed, "What have you done?!"
"I have destroyed hypocrisy, sir."
"You destroyed public property, you idiot!"
"Why do you suddenly care? For three years, I have lived in Hell and no one had shed a tear over my plight!" he screamed, lifting up a fist full of hot ashes, which pricked his skin like needles, "Both of my parents are dead. They are ASHES!" He threw the ashes at the priest. The holy man roared and Zel didn't stop. He grabbed another fist full and another and threw the ashes of the banner at the crowd.
He heard patrol guards running towards but he didn't care. None of them mattered. Nothing mattered. Not anymore. Anything that was worth caring about left him three years ago. He kept throwing the ashes until the largest of the guards picked him up (after having ashes thrown into his face by his prisoner) and he screamed at the crowd and the guards until he was finally locked in his cell. Worn out, he collapsed to the stone floor and silently waited.
After an hour or so, a mousy man came in with a piece of paper and two huge guards, "The sooner you cooperate," the man squeaked, "the sooner you leave."
Zel said nothing.
"Okay, what is your name, Boy?"
"I seriously doubt that. What is your real name?"
One of the guards finally got fed up with him. He unlocked the door and punched Zel very hard in the stomach. While Zel lay gasping, he locked the door and resumed his stoic pose as if he had never moved.
"Boy, I need to know your name so we can contact your family so they can get you out. Do you know what bail is?"
"No... what is it?" Zel gasped.
"Bail is money that someone has to pay to let someone out of jail. If no one can pay your bail, you can't leave. So, what's your real name?"
Prison didn't exactly sound like a fun place to live, so he decided to cooperate, "Zelgadis Greywords." The mousy man nodded to the smaller of the huge guards. The man left without a word.
"Would you like to know what you're being charged with?"
"Sure. Got nothing better to do."
"Your charges are: theft, destruction of public property, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and assault."
"Where did I get assault?"
"Throwing hot ashes at people is not exactly the best way to make friends, Mister Greywords."
"What are you going to do with me?"
"First, you're going to tell me whether you plead guilty or not guilty."
"What happens if I plead not guilty?"
"There will be a trial, if you're found guilty, you'll have a very high fine and some jail time. If you plead guilty right off the bat, the fine is lower."
"I plead guilty. What now?"
"Nothing. You wait for your questioner."
"One of the Royal family will see if you should be banned from the city or not." The mousy man left while the huge guard walked over to a desk and sat.
Soon, he heard light footsteps coming down the steps. The guard said, "Halt!" and stood but immediately sat back down. An overly-endowed girl came into his line of vision.
She was in traditional shrine priestess garb with her long, black hair strewn out behind her. She didn't look much older than Zel, if she was indeed older. If he had not been angry for being locked in the dungeon, he would have thought she was quite pretty. Of course, he was VERY angry about being locked in a dungeon.
"You royalty?" Zel asked.
"I ask the questions here!" The girl replied, "to answer your question, yes, I am the Crown Princess of Saillunne."
"So, are you just going to stand there and lecture me to death?"
"No! I have some questions to ask."
"Why doesn't your father come here himself?"
"He has other official duties!"
"So-rry, Miss Prissy. Are you going to ask me something or what?"
"Listen you! My mother has just been..."
He tilted his head and snapped back, "My mother's dead too. Don't act so high and mighty because your mother just died."
The over-endowed girl screamed, "You just don't care! You're completely heartless."
He began to laugh insanely, "Oh, I forgot, my pain doesn't matter to you. My pain is heartless and your pain is noble. That is justice to you."
"Your mother was just a peasant! Who cares?!"
"Your mother was just a queen! Who cares?"
"My mother was beautiful woman. The most beautiful woman ever to walk."
"So was mine!"
"My mother had a heart of gold!"
"Mine did too!"
"Everyone loved her!"
"Well, someone sure as hell didn't like her!"
The girl's eyes brimmed over with tears.
"Of course, what do I know... I'm just a peasant."
"Come on, come on," Zel gasped as he worked the pin into the lock of his cell. It clicked and the door swung open. The guard was fast asleep and Zel silently thanked his cousin Jer for teaching him how to pick locks. "Now to get out of here."
He tiptoed around the guard and went up the stone steps. He then realized that through all his kicking and curses, he never had a chance to see how he got from the Outside to the dungeon. Now, he was hopelessly lost.
"Big deal," he thought, "I'll find a way out. I got 8 hours at least." He began to wander around aimlessly and critiqued the decor along the way, "They sure like blue and pink around here."
He wandered for about an hour before he saw someone. He ducked into a nearby corridor to watch the movements of his intruder. The intruder was tall, large (not fat), and had a black, bushy mustache. He seemed a depressed calm, as if he had signed his own death warrant. He held a knife with some family crest on it, Zel couldn't tell whose crest it was.
"What is he doing?" He didn't seem to be going anywhere fast. He was idling around, looking at the decor without seeing it. He adjusted a painting. He smoothed out the red rug. Satisfied, he looked around and sighed. He bellowed, "Everything's in its place. Just like Hannah would like it. Everything in its place."
What is with this Hannah woman? Was she God or something?
The man continued, "I have had a good life. I have had two beautiful daughters. Soon, I will be with you, Hannah. My heart will be unburdened."
"No, don't," a voice whispered in Zel's ear. Zel turned around to see who had spoken. It was a curly-haired woman and she seemed very distressed.
"He'll hear you better if you shout at him," Zel whispered.
"Oh, he couldn't hear me even if I was... Wait a second! How can you hear me?!"
"You're standing right next to me, you dope," Zel snapped quietly then realized, "Oh, wait, you're dead, aren't you?"
"Well, I think I am. I was down here to see if my family was alright but I didn't expect this!"
"Well, you're a first."
"First in what?"
"You're the first dead person that wasn't screaming at me or trying to kill me. Who's that guy, anyway?"
"My husband, Prince Phil of Saillunne."
Oh, so he did know her. Well, that was okay, he guessed. He turned to say something to the woman but she disappeared before his eyes.
"That's new. She left without me telling her to." He shrugged and turned his attention back to Phil. He soon figured out that he was going to commit suicide. At first, Zel was unfazed and numb. But then he remember the over-endowed girl from earlier. Sure, she was a Priss but if her father died, she was never going to be the same. Phil had mentioned he had two daughters. The other one, whoever she was, would probably be heart-broken. He thought of his own
father, how angry he was at his father leaving him behind. For being a coward. He remembered laying in bed night after night, seeing the sure warning signs and wondering why no one had said anything or tried to stop him. He remembered he swore he would never go out like that. He would never take his own life. He would stronger than his father.
He would be strong!
"STOP!" Zel leaped out of the shadows of the corridor.
Phil turned around, startled. Phil regarded him, blindly, "Who are... ?"
"It doesn't matter who I am or where I came from! Just listen to me. Don't do this. Think of your daughters! Who will tell them what's what? I heard that your wife was assassinated, who's going to tell them who they can trust? Who's going to teach how to keep a city-state running in spite of trials?" He took a step forward and pointed an accusing finger at Phil, "What are you teaching your daughters? That when the times get hard, you just give up? You just get out of the race? That is not what a parent is supposed to teach! How can they survive your and your wife's deaths if you show them that suicide is the only way to cope?! They need you, your people need you! Your daughters are learning from your example, teach them how they can be strong! I know you're hurting, my father was too when my mother died but he was weak, he left me here, all by myself! Your daughters are hurting, too, but even so, you have to be their rock, they need something they can trust and hold on to! I got nobody! If I could stop my father from killing himself, I would. But I can't, and your daughters wouldn't be able to neither! Give them the chance I never got!" He started to cry but he brushed the tears away, "Please, sir, don't do this! If you die, your daughters will never, EVER recover."
Phil dropped the knife on the ground and knelt to Zel's height, he said, softly, "You're a sign from Heaven, aren't you?"
"No," he sniffed, "just a guy visiting Saillunne."
Phil patted Zel on the head, "It doesn't matter who you are or where you came from, you're right about that. I was about to do a terrible thing to my daughters, and you stopped that. I owe you a great deal."
"Well, you can repay me by showing me the way out. I'm kinda lost," he laughed nervously. Before Phil could reply, guards ran up to them, "There he is! The little lock pick!"
One guard made to grab Zel but Phil demanded, "What is the meaning of this?"
"That boy was arrested and pleaded guilty on the charge of theft, destruction of public property, disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and assault! He has somehow managed to pick his way out of his cell!"
Phil looked sharply at the guards, "I hearby clear those charges. Go back to your posts."
A shorter, blond man with a sharp nose stepped forward, "Look, I am as deeply distressed at my sister's death as you are but you must be reasonable! This boy is a danger to everyone around him!"
The man roughly grabbed Zel's tunic but Phil placed his hand around the newcomer's wrist, "Let that boy go, Charles." Charles let go of the tunic and looked Phil straight in the eye.
Zel felt wet where Charles had grabbed him. He looked down at the area.
Blood was dripping on to the floor from his tunic. That man! He did it!
He looked at Charles' hands. They were dripping in blood. Zel's eyes widen and he covered his mouth in disgust.
"Boy?" Phil asked, concerned, "are you alright?"
Zel shook his head feverishly, "No. His hands... his hands..." He removed his hands from his mouth to speak clearly and turned to Phil, "That man killed your wife! His hands are covered in blood! He did it! Please believe me!"
Charles scoffed, "My hands are clean, Phil! This delinquent is trying to get out of trouble! He's probably on some sort of hallucinogen. Ignore him."
"I'm not on drugs! I'm cleaner than you are, you murderer!" Zel shouted, knowing he was losing an important fight.
Before Charles could respond, a little voice piped, "Daddy? What's going on?"
The crowd of guards turned to the little voice. She was about six years old and had big, blue eyes with black, short hair. She was dragging a stuffed blue rabbit by its foot behind her.
She rubbed her eyes and yawned and repeated, "What's going on?"
Charles said, "Amelia, go back to bed. Nothing is going on."
Amelia looked at Zel and said, "Someone should give him a clean shirt."
"Whatever do you mean, Amelia?" Phil asked.
"He's got a big red splot on his shirt."
"What does it look like?" Zel asked. At last, she could make them see it. He wasn't insane!
"Kind of like... how Mommy looked all over. Is he hurt or something?"
Charles laughed, "What an overactive imagination your daughter has, Phil. She probably still recovering from the shock of her mother's death. She's only a child, Phil." Phil looked completely indecisive, he didn't know who to believe.
They heard more guards running, "Your Highness! Your Highness!" Three guards came around the corner, panting.
"Yes? What is it?" Phil asked, turning towards the men.
The leader panted, "A signed confession. It tells everything. Our partner has him in custody."
"But how? Gracia killed the assassin already!"
"There was another one. He was supposed to kill you, Your Highness and supposedly, her Highness as well. He didn't realize Gracia and your wife had changed rooms. He chickened out at the last moment when he heard Gracia screaming. He also said who hired them, Your Highness."
"Well, who was it?"
"Your brother-in-law, Charles, Your Highness."
Charles shrieked, "He lies! I never would lay a finger on my sister's family! It is all lies!"
Phil whirled on his brother-in-law, "You were the one who was telling lies. Guards, seize him!" The guards grabbed Charles before he had time to react and dragged him away as he screamed his innocence. One guard stayed behind, "What should we do about this one, Your Highness?"
Phil sighed, "Give him proper quarters. I believe he has fully repaid his crimes."
"How...?" Eris was saying when she was told that Zel was having breakfast with the royal family. At first, she didn't believe it but Eris saw Zel sitting at the long table, eating eggs when he should be rotting away in a dungeon.
"I cleared the boy of his crimes. But I am surprised. It never occurred to me that he was related to the great Red Priest. But I thought..."
"I am not the Red Priest. I am Eris, I serve in his stead. He has other matters to attend to. But why has his crimes been cleared?"
"He found the ringleader of my wife's murder. He was my own brother-in-law. He sought to control my precious Amelia and thus control the throne. I can't believe I trusted such evil."
"But how did he...?"
"I believe he had a psychic premonition! I shouldn't be surprised, he is the grandson of the Red Priest."
Eris raised an eyebrow at Zel and said, "Well, finish eating, Zelgadis. We're leaving for home."
Zel politely thanked the Prince for his hospitality and quickly followed Eris.
"That condition saved us a very huge fine, Lord Rezo," Eris said, in conclusion, "Besides, maybe his mother was a psychic and she never bothered to mention it."
"Perhaps you're right. It isn't him, it's the entire world of the dead."
"It's not funny, Lord Rezo."
"I wasn't making a joke. Call Zelgadis in and let yourself out while I speak to him alone."
Eris opened the door and let Zel in. Zel was shaking in his boots. He was expecting a huge lecture. Rezo sat there, lost in his own thoughts. Zel then remembered he had to announce his own presence before Rezo would say anything.
"You wanted to talk to me, Grandfather?"
"Yes, I want to discuss your 'visions' with you."
"I'm stopping your treatment."
Grandfather was sighing, "I can't deny it. I can't rid of it. Just don't it again. It frightens people."
Zel lowered his eyes, "I did help them..."
"Yes, but, it could've gotten you killed. Or sent away. Do you want to be sent away?"
"Then you'll follow my advice." Zel began to nod.
"Do you wish to be strong, Zelgadis? You'll completely transformed."
The blonde woman had just kissed him. It began to grow dark. He could hear his mother screaming his name. He could also hear someone laughing. He didn't even hear the joke.
To be continued...
Author's Notes: Eek! That was long! And half of it is old stuff! Ah, the pleasures of cut and paste. C&C are welcome and needed at email@example.com