a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 13: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Mayaki looked tired out that morning as they set off. She had dark circles around her eyes, her step lacked her characteristic bounce, and she seemed grumpier than usual. She didn't have much to say as she tromped along beside Zel and Amelia, despite Zel's numerous attempts to get her talking.
"I just couldn't seem to fall asleep last night, is all. Leave me alone and maybe I can sleepwalk the rest of the way to the next town..."
"Miss Mayaki is certainly being crabby lately," Amelia observed quietly to Zelgaddis.
"Yes, it is a bit strange for her... but maybe she's just not sleeping well like she says. Besides, I don't know what else to attribute it to... except..."
Zel shook his head. "Nevermind."
Mayaki pulled ahead and strolled along by herself, Xellos randomly floating around her and being a pest. Every now and then she would snap at him, but he never stopped. Zelgaddis found this rather strange, even for as much as Xellos enjoyed teasing. He never focused on one person for very long, preferring to spread annoyance to everyone around. Zelgaddis didn't think his short attention span was long enough to torment one person for long. Zel gritted his teeth. Damn Xellos, couldn't he see that she wanted to be left alone? Why did he think Mayaki was so fun to bother all of a sudden? Idiot Mazoku.
"Hey Zel!" Lina called back to him. "Where's the map? How close are we to the next town?"
The group stopped while Zelgaddis took out his immaculately rolled map and his sextant and calculated their exact position. "I'd say it's another seven miles until we reach Sprogen. We'll get there by this afternoon if the weather holds."
"Great!" Lina crowed. "Then we have time for a break and a snack!" She skipped off to the side of the road and plopped herself down in the grass.
"Yeah!" Gourry seconded, following her and dragging the horse along with them. Everyone else shrugged and headed off the road as well, ready for a rest.
Mayaki flopped out on her back, enjoying the shade provided by a large elder tree. She sighed happily and put her hands behind her head for a pillow. "Mmmh..." she said contentedly and closed her eyes. And then Xellos bopped her with his staff. "Stoppitt..." she giggled, trying to act annoyed. Amazingly, he obeyed her and sat calmly next to her, crosslegged with his staff across his lap. It almost looked like he was watching over her... except for the fact that he was a Mazoku and kept an evil air around himself.
Zelgaddis stared at the two of them with bitter jealousy. He was flirting with her! And damn her, she looked like she was enjoying it! With a snort, he turned his head and adamantly decided not to look at them.
"Mister Zelgaddis, would you like a cupcake?" Amelia offered carefully, holding one out to him from the cache of snacks Mayaki had baked.
He accepted it and smiled at her. "Thanks, Amelia."
"Are you all right?" she asked with concern. "You don't seem very happy today..."
His smile grew a little wider. "I'm okay. And all the better since you asked."
After Lina and Gourry had polished off the last of the cupcakes, Lina announced that it was time to get going. "Okay, everybody up! Let's go, so we can sleep in some real beds tonight!"
"Amen to that," Mayaki groaned, getting to her feet with a hand-up from Xellos. Zelgaddis shot a bitter glare at her. She caught it and looked back, her expression a mix of curiosity and sadness, with a hint of what was possibly guilt.
A new voice echoed around the clearing. Or rather, a familiar voice. One they all recognized at once. "All of you will be quite lucky if you aren't sleeping in pine boxes before the day is out," it called. The group's heads collectively turned toward the road, glaring. Zelgaddis quickly threw up a protective shield, not knowing if any of Race's friends were hiding in the bushes like the time before. Race grinned malevolently from the road. "Of course, it doesn't have to come to that. If you were to simply hand over the wyvern girl to me, I could spare the rest of you."
"You, spare us? Excuse me, but who got their ass kicked the last time he messed with us?" Lina jeered calmly.
"Not a mistake I intend to repeat," Race snorted with amusement. "I lost quite a few good men in that confrontation. But, now that I know what to expect from you..."
Another man stepped out from the woods and into the road beside Race. He was solidly built, though slender and obviously swift moving. He stared at them all unsmilingly with golden-green cat's eyes. His thick jaw was set firmly in hatred. He looked vaguely familiar to all of them, though none of them could place ever seeing or meeting him, with Race or otherwise.
"We're not sacrificing Mayaki," Lina said firmly.
"Yeah, you take on one of us, you take on all of us!" Gourry backed her up. Lina was impressed.
"Wow, Gourry, that was really good! You almost sounded smart!"
Gourry scratched the back of his neck. "Thanks, Lina!" he grinned.
Race growled at being ignored. "Very well, we'll do things the hard way. Alemo, take them out. Leave them alive if you can, but if you have to kill them..."
"I'll be sure they die slow, Race."
Race grinned triumphantly. "Good man."
"What, didn't you bring your buddies to pick on us this time, Race?" Lina called after him sarcastically as he headed back into the woods.
He chuckled, not even turning around. "Alemo is more than a match for all of you, even if his... unique services did much to lighten my purse. It's been a pleasure, Miss Inverse."
The little sorceress raged. "I don't believe the nerve of that guy! Fireball!" She sent the flaming projectile after the bandit, but he was already long gone into the trees. Some of the drier brush ignited and then slowly burnt out, sending tendrils of smoke into the air.
"He sent one guy to take us out?" Zel said in disbelief. "One against five doesn't even stand much of a chance in a fight without magic."
"Yeah, what's the deal with this guy?" Mayaki added. "Even Amelia would have no problem taking him down."
"Right. Come on, guys, let's get going..." Lina said with a sigh at the pathetic effort of their foe. She led the group back to the road, making to go around the man, who moved to bar their path.
"And where do you think you're going?" he asked her, putting his hands amusedly on his hips.
"Anywhere you're not," she snarled back, pointing a finger at him. "Fireball!" The ball of flame gathered at her fingertip and she flicked it easily at Alemo. He looked unimpressed and deflected it over his head and off somewhere into the meadow. He looked as if where it landed was really no concern of his.
"I think not," he said arrogantly.
Lina backed off a few steps. "Gourry! Zel!"
"Right!" Gourry shouted, leaping over her with his empty sword-hilt drawn. "Light come forth!" he yelled, and the sword erupted with piercing white light that formed the sword's blade. Zel, with his smaller one-handed blade, ran in beside him to attack. Alemo drew the sword at his side and prepared for the oncoming swordsmen. In one motion, he blocked Zel's swing and tripped Gourry, grabbing him by the shirt and throwing him into the road forcefully. It knocked the wind out of the blonde swordsman as he hit, and also knocked the Sword of Light out of his hand on impact. It clattered across the stones of the road and came to rest a few feet away. Gourry sat up, coughing. It was obvious it would take him a few minutes to recover.
The man was an excellent swordfighter. Zelgaddis spent most of the battle defending himself. The man rarely let him get a strike in, and when he did, every time Zel found his swing blocked. He was losing ground fast, and Alemo was pushing him toward the uneven ruts of the road, where Zel would be more likely to loose his footing.
Mayaki ran into the road a few yards in back of him, facing their attacker. "Zel! Hit the dirt!" she shouted, grabbing a knife from each hip and pulling them far back behind her head.
Zelgaddis dropped to his side and rolled off the road, blocking one last strike from Alemo's sword as he did. Alemo growled, but did not pursue him, instead facing Mayaki, who loosed both knives at him simultaneously.
"Hah!" she yelled as she let them fly, spinning toward their target.
Then she stared. He caught them both, one by the blade, the other by the hilt. He dropped both, along with his sword, and ran straight for her. Mayaki let out a little shriek of fear and quickly transformed, preparing to snap at him or at least kick him if he dared to get too close. Alemo didn't even flinch as she changed, and , in fact, sped up to leap at her. Mayaki gasped and fell on her back with her feet up as suddenly it wasn't a well-built man but another wyvern falling on her with its jaws ready to catch her throat. She kicked out with her feet and tossed him over her head, slashing at his underbelly as best as she could, but mostly striking his stomach armor and doing no damage. The impact bounced her off the ground and the two of them went rolling. Mayaki intentionally rolled further off and used her wingarms to stand herself back up as the other wyvern struggled to right himself.
"Another wyvern?" Lina yelled.
"No wonder he was so strong!" Gourry added.
Amelia piped up. "We have to help Miss Mayaki somehow..."
Zel stared at the two wyverns squaring off. "We can't do anything until he drops that forcefield... And they're too close together for Lina to throw a Dragon Slave at him..." He looked on helplessly, clenching a fist in anger. "Mayaki..." he whispered.
The other wyvern was bigger, an aspect attributed to most males in nature. His coloration was red, slightly darker than Mayaki's rose-colored hue. His horns towered high above his head, long, lethal spikes where hers barely made a crown through her manes, and the scythes on his tail put hers to shame. Mayaki glared at him, eyes flashing, and knew she was down to her wits on this one.
Xellos hovered anxiously behind the rest of the group. He masked it, of course, with a mildly amused grin. *Come on, Mayaki... you can beat him... at least, I hope you can...* Lina angrily asked him why he wasn't helping Mayaki at all. "Miss Lina, I'll gladly step in if she gets herself in a fix." It wasn't a good thing to say to Lina. She fireballed him on the spot.
Alemo charged at Mayaki. She stared him down icily until he was just about to ram her, then hopped to the side and clamped her jaws around his neck. As he continued to charge past on his momentum, she hopped up on his back and sunk her talons in, adjusting her hold on his throat.
"Go Miss Mayaki!" Amelia cheered.
"Watch his tail!" Zel called to her. It hadn't escaped her attention. She was busy dodging this way and that as it swung wildly at her. Eventually she was forced to drop her hold on his neck in favor of dodging the scythe that was coming at her like a scorpion's sting. Once she almost didn't dodge fast enough and received a long cut along her cheekbone.
"Ouch!" she yelped, loosing her hold on him. "That really hurt, you friggin' bastard!" she said with a clawing leap off his back.
Alemo hopped another few steps, turning around and giving her a curious look. "What did you say?"
She flattened herself out, looking like a serpent ready to strike, with her wings out to the sides like a toreador, hiding her body from him. "What, the part about how much that hurt, or that you're a frigging bastard?"
"You can talk?" he asked her, pausing his attack for a moment. "Can they understand you?" he queried with a sideways nod to her friends.
"Of course I can talk, you idiot. But they can't understand me. Except for Xellos, because he's a Mazoku."
Alemo looked rather puzzled. His dark russet manes bristled in curiosity. "Oh well... I suppose it doesn't matter. I still have to kill you." He charged her again and she jumped, kicking him in the back of the head. He staggered down the road while she glided a short distance away and landed, facing him again. He shook his head to clear the stars and faced her again as well, pausing. "Do all wyverns look like us? Or just the red ones?"
"I don't know!" she answered angrily. "Do you always gab so much during a fight?"
"I've never met up with another wyvern, so excuuuse me!" he sneered.
"Well, neither have I! Apparently we're not that common anymore."
"How do you know?"
"Do you see any other wyverns hanging around here, genius? I've been traveling with a Mazoku, you twit, they know these things."
"All the better reason to kill you all. You've been infected with Mazoku evil."
Mayaki reared back and screeched. "I'll kill you before you even DARE to touch my friends!" She charged him, raging. Before he even had a chance to react, she gored him in the chest with her short horns and flipped him over her back, slicing at him with her tail as she ran past. He received long cuts along his haunches and back before she was clear of him and turned to attack again.
"Go Mayaki!" Lina and Gourry shouted.
"The spirit of Justice is on your side, Miss Mayaki! You WILL triumph!" Amelia yelled.
"You can do it, Mayaki!" Zelgaddis added, then turned to a rather charred Xellos. "What are they saying?"
Xellos groaned and sat up. "They're trying to figure out what they are, I think..." he said groggily.
"Skraaaaak!" said one of the wyverns.
"Wraaaaaawwk!" the other answered.
* * * * *
"Son of a b-!" Alemo wailed, stepping tenderly so as not to open the wounds further.
"Get up and fight, ya pansy!" Mayaki scolded.
"That does it... you're going down. Now."
"Oooh, I'm so scared," she mocked. "Like to see you try. I already cut you to ribbons."
Alemo growled at her and his eyes flashed, familiarly golden. "Today you die, else my name's not Alemo Debarro!" he snarled and ran at her.
"Debarro?!" she realized, standing up in shock and freezing in place. He hit her full on and she sprawled across the road, rolling to a halt with a nice gouge in her side to show for it. She weakly tried to get her feet under her, only to be stepped on by a taloned foot as Alemo pinned her to the ground.
"Now," he chuckled wickedly, "we'll see how long it takes to skin a wyvern alive."
She ignored the toes digging further into her back and instead of reacting to him asked quietly, "Elric Debarro?"
He shrank away from her, looking shocked. "You knew my father?"
"Only knew of him... he left my mother pregnant and in disgrace," she said softly, her voice getting weaker. Alemo lifted his foot off of her, but she remained on the ground, exhausted.
"But... that would mean..." After a long pause he stooped down and nuzzled his beak under Mayaki's wing, helping her to her feet. She staggered a few steps, so he put his head against her chest to prop her up. The two wobbled haphazardly off the road. They had barely gotten that far when Mayaki fainted, reverting to her human form en route to the ground. Alemo transformed shortly after and carried her the rest of the way to Lina and her friends, warily noting the Mazoku hovering around.
"You, sorceress! Do you know how to cast a recovery spell?"
"What? Of course I do! Haven't you ever heard of the beautiful and talented Lina Inverse?"
"Only that she had an awful temper and a very flat chest..." Alemo mumbled.
"WHAAAT?!?" Lina shrieked, trying to attack him as Gourry held her back.
"Don't worry, Miss Lina, I'll take care of the healing spell!" Amelia volunteered, preparing her magic.
Zel blinked. "Okay, what in the world just happened?" he asked in confusion.
Xellos answered him. "Isn't it obvious? Alemo here and Miss Sora are related! In fact, he's her half-brother."
"That was supposed to be obvious?" Zel asked cynically.
Mayaki sat up woozily after the recovery spell Amelia had cast on her took effect. Xellos was the first at her side, supporting her as she got to her feet. "Perhaps we should clarify, Miss Sora, that when you fight a battle, you are supposed to win it without getting yourself critically injured," he smirked.
"Oh, shut up," she said acidly, accepting his hand and letting him pull her to her feet.
"Mayaki? You all right?" Zel asked concernedly.
She dusted herself off. "Better now," she said with a grin. "Well, guys, are we leaving or what?" I want that soft bed tonight more than ever!"
"Right!" added Lina. "Sprogen, here we come!"
"Sprogen? You're headed for Sprogen?" Alemo asked.
"Yyyyeah..." Mayaki answered cautiously.
He picked her up and hugged her. "That's wonderful! I can introduce you to my mother that way!"
"Well, um... sure, I suppose..."
"I assume it's safe to say there's no cure for us there if that's where you live," Zel told him flatly, starting onto the road with the others.
"Er... cure?" Alemo blinked confusedly. Mayaki explained.
"Zelgaddis and I are looking for a way to make ourselves fully human. There isn't any way to change us in Sprogen, obviously, or you would have used it. Wouldn't you?"
"Ahhh," he nodded in understanding. "No. I've been looking ever since I was old enough to leave home on my own, both east and west of here, and also searching for our father."
"Why's that?" she asked.
He clenched a fist. "Revenge."
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. ;)