a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 8: Sweet Dreams Are Made of This...
The group looked up at the unexpected slow clapping from the top of a lamppost, where Xellos sat, grinning smugly down at them.
"Excellent job, Miss Sora! I must say you had me worried for a second there. You surprised us all with that sandwich."
Mayaki gave him a scowl. "And where have you been all this time?"
Xellos chuckled a little and refrained from answering her. She rolled her eyes and walked past him with a huff, not really noticing his slit eyes following her. "Where are we off to now?"
"To the Temple of Dreams," Zelgaddis said stoically. "Rumor has it there's a vessel there that grants anyone who holds it one wish."
Mayaki nodded in recognition. "I think a traveler who stopped at our inn told us about it once."
Lina stretched thoughtfully, putting her arms behind her head. "That would be something...to get whatever one thing you wanted, just like that." She looked around at her companions. "What would you guys wish for?"
Amelia was first to pipe up. "That's easy. I'd wish that there would be justice done all over the world!"
Xellos sighed. "Typical Amelia answer."
"I'd wish for an endless supply of Miss Mayaki's wonderful food!" Gourry said. "Mmmm, tarts and pies, and roast, and soup, and..."
"Enough, Gourry!" Lina chided. "We get the idea! What about you, Mayaki?"
Mayaki looked down at her feet as she walked. "I... I'd wish to be fully human instead of Mazoku," she stammered. "I've never fit in anywhere because people knew I was a Mazoku underneath... except for traveling with all of you." She smiled to her friends thankfully.
"Why would you want to give up your Mazoku side?" Xellos asked. Mayaki glared at him in a way that could scorch an iceberg. "Just to play the devil's advocate," he added carefully. "I mean, without your powers against Race and the bandits, where would we all be now?" He floated around like a gnat. "I should pose the same question to you, Zelgaddis. Being part golem and part Mazoku makes your body and your magic more powerful. You'd really want to lose those in order to become a weak, defenseless human again?"
Zel looked angrily at the Mazoku priest as he floated by, smiling as ever. He couldn't say anything in response; it would only make Xellos more proud and cocky.
Mayaki answered for him eventually. "You've never been exiled or ostracized because of what you are, Xellos," she said softly. "You crave pain where we crave the love and affection of others. We want acceptance where you'd prefer solitude. Power doesn't mean anything. You can always become more powerful, but it doesn't mean anything when there's no one to appreciate it. But things like loyalty and friendship and love... those are the things that give real meaning to life."
Xellos stopped, hovering in place while everyone passed by him. He blinked and soared in front of her to catch up. "How would you know what I'm feeling, hmm?"
She gave him another scornful look as she continued to walk. "I may not be full Mazoku, Xellos, but I know what the half I have feels and desires. Hate, anger, and pain. It's there all the time, the longing for negative human emotions... and I don't want it to be." She walked past him without another word.
The silence was deafening. Eventually Amelia spoke up to fill it by asking, "What about you, Miss Lina? What would you wish for?"
"Me? Uhhh..." Lina looked down at her chest. "I...haven't decided yet." she stammered.
* * * * *
There were quite a few people milling about in the Temple of Dreams when they entered. Many of them looked like they had traveled a long distance to be there, still wearing their walking boots and traveling garb. As the group walked through the one of the tall, arched doorways, they took in the immensity of the temple. The height of the dome over their heads was astonishing, as were the tall hand-chiseled statues of the Lords of Dreams. Nosec, the old man with the beard, looked down on them with wizened eyes and one outstretched hand in a blessing gesture, while his counterpart, Willen, the youth, had been carved staring longingly up at the skies.
"It must have taken them years to carve these," Zel observed in a hushed tone.
As they milled through the crowd, a priest approached them. "Welcome to the Temple of Dreams, weary travelers. I hope that your pilgrimage here will not be in vain. If you wish to make offerings to the Dream Lords, the Altars are directly to your right and left. If you've come to present a wish to the sacred Vessel of Dreams, please come with me, and we shall prepare sleeping quarters for you."
"Sleeping quarters??" Amelia asked with a look of panic. "You mean the line is THAT long??"
The priest chuckled. "Oh my, no.. but didn't you know? Once you tell the Vessel a wish, you must spend a night in the Temple for it to take effect. It's mandatory!"
"Sounds good to me, I could use a nap!" Gourry yawned, stretching.
The elderly priest bowed to the group and beckoned them to follow. He led them to a staircase that spiraled dizzyingly up along the inside wall of the temple until it reached the next floor, a much more modest structure. It consisted of a single room, long and rectangular, with windows over each of the many beds in the room, excepting the two rows in the middle. The priest led them down the long line of bunks until he came to a row still marked as unoccupied. He checked them over to make sure each had a pillow and a blanket, then turned the occupied sign over on them. "We'll put the five of you here. There is a small locker beneath the bed for you to store your valuables in, though I would recommend leaving your cloaks or something draped on the end of the bed so that you remember which it is.. People seem to get lost quite easily in this room," he smiled.
Lina peered around at the three hundred or so beds. "Yeah, I can see why..."
The middle-aged man looked skeptically at the group of young people. "Remember to please refrain from sexual activities within the temple," he said, glaring.
Amelia blushed, as did Mayaki. Zel stared rather nervously at the man. Gourry blinked at him, and then blinked at Lina.
Lina screeched. "What?!?" and began pummeling the priest for the outrage. "What exactly are you trying to imply here? What's the big idea?! We're all just friends!"
Mayaki looked around them. Something clicked in her mind. "Five of us? Where's Xellos now?"
Amelia looked over at her. "Oh, he offered to stay outside and watch the horse for us. He said that he didn't have any wishes anyway."
"Strange..." Mayaki's brow wrinkled.
* * * * *
After Lina's berating ebbed and they had all laid their cloaks out on their beds, the priest led them back downstairs to the large room housing the holy Vessel of Dreams. The line leading to the Vessel was long, which was to be expected from a vessel that would grant wishes. The vase itself seemed to be black, though after looking at it, no one could really tell what color it had been. It was large, too large for one person to pick up, with a wide-lipped mouth and curled handles on either side. It also seemed to be speckled like a field of stars, Mayaki thought, but every time she tried to focus on one of the tiny points of light, it failed to be there, like she was seeing something just on the edge of her vision that wasn't there when she turned her head.
"It's so pretty.." she said aloud, starting at it.
"Remember to be careful with your wish... you only get one," the priest instructed. "Sweet dreams, friends." With that, the priest left them to attend the next group.
The line moved quickly, for as long as it was. They weren't in the line more than ten minutes before they had moved halfway to the Vessel. Mayaki and Zelgaddis exchanged a look as they got closer with every minute. They watched as person after person took hold of the Vessel's handles and whisper a wish into its wide mouth. She took hold of his hands and squeezed them excitedly. Her eyes danced, and her feet looked like they were about to join in at any second. "We're going to be human!" she cheered softly.
"Yes, I know," he said with a slight smile. He sobered slightly and let out a troubled sigh. "I just hope there isn't a catch..."
Mayaki stopped bouncing. She looked at him curiously. "You mean, like what Xellos said?"
Zel shook his head. "Not just that... I can't quite explain..." He looked down into her watchful eyes. "Nevermind. It's probably not that important." He smiled to her reassuringly. After a moment he thought of something else. "Mayaki... about the other night..."
"Look, look!" she interrupted. "It's Gourry's turn!"
"Joy of joys," he replied, rolling his eyes. Ahead of them, Lina cut in front of Gourry and skipped up to the Vessel, whispered something to it, and bounded back down with a squeal, heading for the sleeping room. Mayaki and Zel stared after her, then bust out laughing (or is that a bad choice of words, regarding Lina?).
"It's your turn," she grinned at him, indicating the steps up to the Vessel.
"Ladies first," he insisted, helping her up them with a hand.
She solemnly stepped up the three stairs, felt the body of the sparkling vase with one hand, then took hold of the handles and whispered into the Vessel. "Dear Vessel of Dreams, my wish is that I may become fully human so that I may finally fit in with the rest of the world." Mayaki felt a surge of power rush from the vase through her body and back into the vase. As she descended the steps, she began to realize that she was quite tired.
Zel looked back over his shoulder. "Amelia? Ladies first?"
Amelia looked up from some deep inner though. "Oh.. that's okay, Mister Zelgaddis. I'm still... thinking." She grinned, but it was forced.
He nodded back to her and climbed the steps himself.
When Amelia's turn came, she cautiously took hold of the Vessel. She could do so much good for the world with just this one wish, but that wasn't what her heart was focused on for the moment.
She whispered to the urn, "I wish that Zelgaddis would love me instead of her...Mayaki."
* * * * *
Mayaki barely made it up the stairs. She could see why the period of sleep was required... it was more or less essential after touching the vase. She swooned as she reached the doors to the sleep chamber, and Zelgaddis steadied her from behind, leading her to her bed, though his own eyelids were drooping. Sleep completely overcame her as she toppled into her pillow
Zelgaddis smiled at her tiredly as he sat on his own bed. He shucked his boots off and lay back, staring up at the ceiling for an instant before he began to drift off to sleep himself. "We'll both of us finally be human..." he mumbled as his eyes refused to stay open any longer.
Disclaimer in short: Slayers and related characters aren't mine. Mayaki and various other incidental characters are.
Thanks for reading! Please leave me some feedback; I live and thrive on criticism! (not to mention, I'm a perfectionist. ;)