a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 9: Dream a Little Dream of Me
Zel opened his eyes and held his hand up in front of him. It was no longer stone. Neither was the other one when he held that up in front of his eyes as well. He smiled widely and sat up, looking around the field he was in. There was a slight breeze. It tickled the once-familiar nerves across his blessedly normal human skin. His dark hair, no longer stiff wire, blew across his face. He laughed as he pushed it away. Looking around, he saw a small stream trickling past, stood up and made for it as fast as he could...so fast, in fact, that he tripped over a stone half buried in the ground and fell, scraping his hands and knees. He felt pain instantly as he picked himself up and brushed the dirt from around the scrape. "Ow!" he laughed as if this was a novel thing, thrilled at the very presence
He gazed into the stream, noting in his reflection that the stone scales around his face were gone, and laughed again. He even allowed himself the indignity of making faces at himself in the water.
Mayaki's reflection appeared in the water next to his. She giggled at one of the faces he was making. He stood up rather sheepishly and grinned at her. She looked like she was holding back tears of joy, and after a moment threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back, not at all afraid of hurting her, then picked her up and spun her around until he got dizzy and fell over backward. She laughed with him. *Just this once,* he thought contentedly, *dignity can go to Hell.*
* * * * *
Mayaki wandered through the city. For once, the nagging itch to slit the throats of the people passing her on the street wasn't there. The desire to cause pain simply didn't exist within her anymore. She sighed, and finally let herself relax. People said hello to her and she smiled and waved back with polite hellos and good mornings.
"Now Miss Mayaki, what have you gone and done?" a familiar voice from behind her interrupted her stroll. She turned to face the source of the voice.
"Xellos? What are you doing here?"
The Mazoku smiled evenly down at her from his lamppost perch. "I've come to bring you a warning. Don't deny your nature, Mayaki. It could make things not only unpleasant but dangerous for you."
She shook her head in disbelief. "No. I'm human now. I'm not going back to how I was!"
"You are a fool then, " Xellos told her haughtily, disappearing into the black cone of a whirlwind, which also faded out.
The city street was suddenly devoid of people. Where once it had been busy, it seemed that people had all reached the places that they were going... or just disappeared? There wasn't a breath of sound anywhere in the city. Even the wind seemed to hesitate in blowing past Mayaki. There didn't seem to be another living soul for miles. "Hello?" she squeaked out.
A new sound greeted her call. It wasn't one she would have liked to hear. It sounded like a combination of grating metal on metal and the burbling of a thick soup brought to a rolling boil... in any case, it wasn't pleasant. She turned to find that the noise had come from an equally horrid sight... one with large fangs and tentacles. Despite having no legs, it roiled down the street toward her at a startling speed. Mayaki screamed and tried to transform so she could fly away. Nothing happened, however. No claws, no wings, no tail. Only her feeble human body. She tried to run, but the thing caught up with her and ensnared her in one of its tentacle arms, hauling her high in the air. She screamed. She was going to die, all because she had no way to attack the thing. All because she hadn't taken Xellos's advice...
"Mayaki!" a voice yelled to her from street level.
"Zelgaddis!" she shouted back to him, twisting around one direction and the other as the tentacle curled around her, turning her slowly around. "Please help me!"
She got her first good glimpse at him as the creature tried to use the tentacle holding her to strike him with. He rolled agilely to the side and looked up into her frightened face. That was when she noticed he was human, with dark hair, but with the same ocean-blue eyes.
Human he may have been, but that didn't stop him from fighting to save her. Sword unsheathed and a spell at the ready, he faced the demon head on. It swung a tentacle at him with amazing speed. Zel slashed and hacked at it as it passed. The thing let out a howl of anguish and immediately swung three more at him. The first he hit with a Freeze Arrow spell that caused the whip to break out in a bad case of ice crystals and fall to the ground as it became too heavy for the creature to lift. The second he also saw coming and leapt over it... just in time for the third to hit him in the back with such speed and force that it instantly broke his spine. He crumpled, sword clanging against the otherwise empty street.
"Zelgaddis!" she screamed, struggling to free herself from the beast's grip. "No! No!" The tentacle squeezed her even tighter as she attempted to escape its grasp. It must have decided that this was a good idea and continued to squeeze, slowly crushing her.
Xellos blipped back in beside her, hovering as if he didn't have a care in the world. "Now, see all the trouble you've caused?"
"Xellos! Help!" she gasped, barely able to get air into her lungs.
"Ah, so you want my help now that you didn't listen to my advice?"
"Yes!" she admitted. "Just help me! Please!"
He smirked. "Well, since you asked so nicely..." He snapped his fingers, and instantly she grew in her tail and wings, followed by her beak. She eagerly sunk her teeth into the constricting tentacle as she used her tail like a scorpion sting, wounding the beast time and time again until it released its hold on the thing causing it so much pain. Mayaki folded her wings in and easily slipped out of its loosening grip, soaring quickly away from it and hovering a ways off. The Mazoku side of her savored its pain.
Xellos zoomed up beside her. "Go on," he encouraged in an evil tone, looking into her gold eyes with his own purple ones. "Kill it." Mayaki made up her mind that she would. It would certainly make her feel better. Her beak curled slightly, mirroring Xellos's smirk.
Mayaki's eyes flashed brilliantly as she dove at the monster, slashing and biting and slicing it with her tail until the thing was leaking black mist from more than a hundred wounds. It wailed and screamed as it dissolved into nothingness, one of its tentacles still gripped in Mayaki's powerful jaws until it disappeared. She circled through the negative emotions it had lost, soaking up as many of them for herself as she could before they dispersed completely.
"Beautiful," Xellos applauded, somewhat sarcastically. "What style and grace for a killer!" He swooped over to her, doing delicate loops around her as she flew.
"I don't want to be a killer," she said, though she knew it came out as the raucous cry of her wyvern form.
"I told you once not to deny your nature," Xellos chided, running the tip of his staff gently along her wing. "This is a part of who you are." She backwinged to get away from him, hovering in one place. Xellos adjusted his own course accordingly, seeming to dance around her midair, knowing that it was irritating her. He even had the nerve to run a hand along her manes and the side of her neck during one pass. She flinched away from the stroke with a shocked "Aak!"
He floated around in front of her, taking her jawbone in his hands. If she hadn't been shocked stiff, she would have bitten him. He caught her eyes with his and stared deeply into them. "You were destined to be Mazoku," he told her, his amethyst eyes open wide to back the seriousness of his statement. They sparkled with the evil deep in his heart. "You were destined..." he whispered to her, "to be mine..."
* * * * *
Mayaki gasped and sat bolt upright in bed. She swallowed hard and tried to keep from hyperventilating. She looked around quickly, disoriented by the strange room. A priest of the temple, though not the same one they had met when they came in, hurried to her side. "Miss? Is something wrong?" he asked gently.
"It was a dream," she realized.
"Miss?" the priest asked again.
"N-nothing..." she stuttered. "Just a bad dream."
"A bad dream? Here? Oh dear.. that's not good at all..."
"Really," she protested. "I'm all right now.."
The priest seemed to disagree. "To have a nightmare in the Temple of Dreams is practically unheard of. It's a very bad omen, Miss. If I were you, I would sort out my inner feelings and thoughts to find the root of the problem, and address it at once."
"I'm FINE!" she snapped. The priest quailed and went about tending some of the temple's other visitors, muttering things about not taking advice and silly girls with deep-down problems. Mayaki blinked at herself. Her temper had gotten away from her. Gentle little Mayaki had just bitten the poor lad's head off when he had been trying to help her.
She swung her legs off the bed and sat staring at the floor for a moment, then she held her hand up in front of her eyes. As she focused, it metamorphosed into a two-taloned wingclaw and back. She sighed, half out of relief, half out of regret. Maybe the dream had been right. She wouldn't survive long without her powers in a world this full of danger. She thought back to when the robber band had her and the others captured. Her wyvern form had more or less been their only hope. Another thought nagged at her: if her wyvern side was so evil, why would it have let her save her friends? Certainly that was a good thing. She'd used something evil for a good purpose... wasn't that all right? Mayaki looked at her hand again, turning it over, and gave a little laugh of joy. Being Mazoku wasn't bad; it was just different. Special. Yes, that's what it was. Maybe Xellos was right after all...
Mayaki looked over at the next bed. Zelgaddis smiled in his sleep with a look of happiness and freedom that she's never seen him wear. She sat and watched until his eyelids began to flutter and he slowly opened his eyes. His blissful expression remained for an instant before he fully awoke. When he realized, a look of bitter sadness replaced it. He held both hands up in front of him, as she had done, but without the pleasant afterthoughts she had had. His eyes clenched shut as he cursed silently to himself and sat up on the bed. She watched piteously.
"It was a dream," he whispered bitterly. Mayaki got up and sat next to him on his bed. She knew how much he had wanted to be human, and how disappointed he must be. Sympathetically, she patted one of his stone hands. He looked at it and sighed, clenching his teeth.
Zelgaddis had searched for a way to cure himself for a long time.. since before he had met Lina and Gourry, in fact. He had run across several potential cures... so many possibilities that had turned up with nothing in the end. After the first few, he got used to the idea of things not working. All the same, he refused to give up his quest... some part of him kept saying that the cure was out there somewhere, waiting for him to find it... it wasn't going to come to him; he had to go to it.
This loss hurt him the worst, though. He had had renewed hope when he met Mayaki and found out that she, like him, longed to be human. He finally had a companion who knew some of what he was going through. Then there was the dream. It had been the most wonderful dream, everything his heart desired. Just before waking up, he remembered, was the best part. He'd kissed her. He remembered the sensation of the flesh of his lips pressed gently to hers, the sweet taste of her mouth (like berry wine, he thought, how wonderful!), the surprised, shocked expression on her face... it had been perfect. It had been the happiest moment of his young life.
Or, rather, it would have been, if any of it had been real. This wasn't how it was supposed to be... his wish was supposed to be granted for him, in a more permanent way! Instead, it was dangled in front of him, just out of reach. Damn it all! He had been given a taste of heaven itself only to have it jerked away from him again. For one night, he had been human again. For one night, he could feel and laugh and love...and it was over. Gone, like so much dust in the wind. He pulled his hand away from Mayaki's comforting and rested his head forlornly on his fist.
Across the aisle, Lina awoke with a yawn and a stretch. Mayaki giggled as she looked down at her chest and groaned disappointedly. "Hey, what's the deal? We were supposed to get our wishes!" she whined.
"They were granted," Mayaki grumbled. "But in the form of dreams. That's what the Temple of Dreams is all about. Reality not included."
Lina drooped. "Ohhh.. that's no fair... it just figures." She looked over at the next bunk. "Hey Gourry! Wake up!" A snore issued from the swordsman's lips. Lina kicked his bed, hard enough to turn it on it side, spilling Gourry out of it in a heap. He sat bolt upright.
"Huh? Hey! Where's all my food?"
"You were dreaming, Gourry. This whole wish thing is all a hoax."
Gourry deflated. "But... my foood...Aaaaa!"
"Come on..." Lina said, dragging him by the ear. "Let's get out of here."
"Wait," Zel halted them. "Amelia." He pointed to the little justice crusader, splayed out across her bunk in every possible direction. A wide grin was plastered across her face, and she drooled contentedly from one corner of her mouth. "Amelia," Zel called softly.
"Mm?" she whispered as her eyes slowly opened and focused themselves. "AAAGH! M-Mister Zelgaddis!" She turned beet red. Her face showed intense guilt and embarrassment. "I.. uh..."
Zel looked a little shocked at her reaction. "Er... yes?"
"No! This isn't right! Unless.. it was all..."
Lina started teasing her. "So, how was the world of Justice, Amelia? Looked like you were sure having fun."
"Uhhh..." Amelia looked nervously around at everyone. She blushed deeper and scrubbed at the corner of her mouth, erasing the drool streak. "Fine! Er.. just fine..."
"Was it everything you expected?" Lina mocked, poking her.
"Lina, enough. Let her be," Mayaki scolded. "Unless you want me to start bringing up some certain matters abreast?"
The sorceress's jaw dropped with a little shriek. "Time to go!"
* * * * *
Though Mayaki walked next to him down the long staircase, Zelgaddis remained silent and pensive. He ground his teeth, inwardly raging. Mayaki was hesitant to speak to him, but her concern finally got the better of her. "Are you gonna be all right?"
He sighed. "They should have told us. If I'd known," he said regretfully, "I could've wished to know where to find the cure, or even what the spell was! Instead of..." He curled and uncurled his fist in front of him.
She took his hand and patted it comfortingly. "It's all right.. I know you'll find it eventually. Like you told me, it has to exist somewhere." His head snapped up so fast and he glared at her so hard that she gasped and shrank back from him, letting go of his hand.
"Don't patronize me," he snarled at her and hurried down the stairs, leaving her to stare after him.
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. ;)