a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 20: You Spin Me Right Round
"Alemo! Can't you go any faster?!" Lina shouted over the rush of wind in their ears. The four travelers, lined up along the wyvern's back as if they were riding a very long horse, were jarred up and down as Alemo beat his wings, speeding across the Demon Sea as fast as he could manage to go. Already, the shore was only a happy memory and the only thing to be seen for miles around were enormous waves, crashing against one another and causing huge sprays of saltwater to shoot up at them. They were all rather damp, and Alemo's scale-plating had a thin sheet of crusted salt on it. Lina thanked the gods that they hadn't hired a boat like they'd originally planned... it would certainly see the bottom of the sea if they had.
Lightning crashed down from the storm clouds surrounding them. Alemo squawked and dodged sharply to the left, causing his four human passengers to yell in panic as they barely kept their seats. The wind buffeted them from all sides. Amelia shrieked as she was almost blown from the wyvern's back, but Zelgaddis grabbed her and hauled her back upright.
"Thank you!" she shouted bashfully.
"Don't mention it!" he yelled back. He fished his compass out of a pocket and glanced at it, hoping they were still heading the right way. Getting lost in a storm in the middle of an ocean known as the Demon Sea was not high on his list of things to do in life.
Lina, sitting furthest up on the wyvern's neck, leaned forward. "You doing okay, Alemo?"
"Aaaeck..." the rough reply came. She didn't understand it, of course, but at least he was responding. If he hadn't, she would have been worried. Alemo had been determined to get to Mayaki from the instant he had heard the news of her conversion. *Damn that demon,* he thought. *Knew he was no good for her... if he's hurt her I'll...*
He was interrupted as an especially strong gust caught him off guard and flipped him over backward several times. Just as he thought he might recover, his passengers frightened and clinging for dear life but all still aboard, a microburst slammed into him from above and knocked him into the sea, scattering the group all around.
Gourry was the first to surface, kicking his way up, only to be hit square on by a wave. He spluttered after it had passed, then looked around him. "Lina! Where are you?"
A moment later, the little sorceress came up, gasping for air. "Cold!" she screamed.
Alemo was next to be seen, kicking and floundering ineffectually with his wings. He managed to revert to human shape and tread water, but even so, he was having a hard time keeping his head up.
"Where's Zel and Amelia?" Lina shouted over the roar of the sea and the still rising wind.
The three of them peered around, being pummeled by wave after wave as they searched frantically for their friends.
* * * * *
Amelia broke the surface and looked around in panic. "Where is everybody?" she called. "Miss Lina? Mister Alemo? Mister Zelgaddis?" A garbled shout answered her, and she swam toward the source. "Mister Zelgaddis!"
"Amelia! He-glrp..." Zel yelped as a wave washed into his mouth. "Sinking!"
"Aaa!" she squeaked, grabbing onto him and trying to pull him to the surface, but with his stone body, it was all but impossible. She remembered tossing stones into the fountains back in Seyruun: they certainly didn't float. "Help!" she shouted, her voice weak against the howling winds of the storm. "Somebody please help us!" She pulled again on Zelgaddis's arm as his face disappeared beneath the water. Kicking with all her might, she brought him back up.
"Let me go, Amelia!" he yelled at her.
"No, Mister Zelgaddis! You'll drown!"
"We'll both drown if you don't let go of me! Save yourself!"
"No, I won't!" she screamed at him. She suddenly paused and looked around. "Huh?" For a second, she caught a glimpse of Lina's orange hair. She was quite far off, but yes, Amelia had seen her clearly... there weren't hardly any waves between them, just a big dishlike swirl of water. "Miss Lina! Mister Gourry!" she called, and caught the barest hint of their voices as they called back. "What??" she yelled.
Zelgaddis, kicking himself to the surface with every ounce of strength, realized what was happening before she did. "Oh damn.. swim, Amelia! Swim!" He pushed her away, urging her away from the slight inward tilt the water was beginning to form.
"Mister Zelgaddis!" she protested.
"Swim, or you'll be sucked in!" he screamed at her, realizing how steep the sides had suddenly gotten. Somewhere above him, from what seconds ago had been next to him, Amelia shrieked, being swept rapidly along the edge of the whirlpool. "Amelia!" he yelled, watching her head disappear under the water. A few yards beneath him, Lina swirled past, letting out a garbled scream, then Alemo, a few seconds later.
Looking up, he realized how dark it was in the funnel, or rather, how far down in it they were. The walls were getting close together, and the five of them spiraled around faster and faster. *Dear gods... we're all going to die...* he thought.
Across from him, on the other side of the funnel, Amelia's head popped out from under the water and she gasped and coughed. Zel breathed a thankful sigh of relief even as he was pulled under himself.
He tried to drag himself to the surface again, but it was useless.. the current pulling him under was stronger than even his demon strength could overcome. Salt water stung his eyes as he opened them underwater, seeing nothing but the endless swirls of dark water. His lungs ached for air. His limbs felt unresponsive as once again her tried hauling himself toward the surface... except, which direction was it?
*I'm going to drown...*
* * * * *
...and then suddenly he landed on a very hard marble floor. Zel picked himself up confusedly and discovered that despite being out of the whirlpool, the world was still going around and around. He paused and waited to adjust to the new, still conditions. To his relief the others were in the same condition-slightly bruised and soaking wet, but alive-and in the same large, marble-tiled room. They all had equally puzzled looks as to how they were suddenly out of danger.
"Where are we?" Amelia asked, looking around.
Alemo snorted. "I don't care where we are so long as it's out of that whirlpool. It's a convenient-enough miracle for me."
They seemed to be in a very long hall, almost completely devoid of furniture, save a sea-green glass throne at the far end. A small woman with metallic-silver hair was seated in it, though when she spotted them, she got up and scurried toward them. Her face was young-looking, Zel noted, though the silver hair made her appear roughly ten years older. "Ah, guests!" she said cheerfully. "How extraordinary! Do come in! Come in! It's so seldom that I have company anymore! Welcome, welcome!" The strange woman danced merrily around them with excitement.
"Er... not to sound rude, ma'am, but who are you, and could you tell us where we are?" Lina asked as the woman skipped around her.
"Of course! We're in my palace, you silly! And my name's Dolphin, though some people prefer to call me Deep Sea or Queen Deep Sea..." she drifted thoughtfully. "I don't think anyone's ever called me Queen Dolphin, come to think of it. Though you can, if you like. Or Pharaoh Dolphin. I think someone called me that once. Maybe it was me.. hee!"
"Deep-Sea Dolphin?" Lina blinked.
"Someone we should know?" Gourry checked with her softly.
Lina nodded. "She's one of Shabranigdo's chosen five."
"Oh," Gourry whispered, understanding. "Who's he?"
The sorceress sighed. "I should've known you wouldn't remember who he was..."
"This woman is insane," Alemo said in a low tone.
"Not only that, she's really wacky..." Amelia put in.
Deep Sea went on babbling merrily to herself. "...or Tsarina Deep Sea. I rather like that one. Tsarina Deep Sea has a nice rhyme to it, don't you think? Tsarina Dolphin just doesn't have the same ring..."
Alemo risked interrupting her; otherwise she might have gone on all day and night. "Miss Dolphin, er...Deep Sea... did you bring us here?"
"Oh, yes! Isn't it marvelous what you can pick up with a whirlpool? One time, I brought down an entire fleet of trading ships!"
"Yes, lovely. I don't suppose you could send us back up to the surface again, could you? You see, my sister...half-sister, really..."
"Oh, no, no, no... can't do that. You've just arrived, after all!" She added in slightly darker tones, "I absolutely insist that you stay."
* * * * *
Mayaki shuddered as Xellos set her down outside of the enormous throne room doors. He knocked and Zelas, with a much more sober voice than before, called back in a demanding way, "Enter."
Xellos pushed easily on one of the doors, though it was huge and probably weighed half a ton or more-but, when one has the strength to accomplish such feats, the Mazoku philosophy seemed to be, flaunt your power at every occasion.
"No... Xellos!" Mayaki hissed as he pulled her in by her wrist. "Xellos, wait! You don't understand!"
Zelas looked up interestedly from her chair as Xellos continued to tow the struggling girl along behind him. "Well, the little wyvern has come home to roost," she said smoothly. Mayaki detected a hint of insult in her tone. "Tell me, Mayaki, my little minion, how did the killing go? And be honest with me... I do hate when people lie."
Mayaki gulped. Xellos piped up in her stead. "It went just fine, Beastmaster. Couldn't have gone better!" Mayaki paled. Xellos nudged her. "Right, Mayaki?"
"I wasn't asking you, Xellos. I want Miss Sora to answer me herself. Another outburst and you'll have to be punished," she breezed, adding strictly, "You won't enjoy it much, I promise you." The priest-general shrunk back slightly, thoroughly admonished. "Now... How was it, Mayaki? Did you have fun? Tear their heads off? Rip their veins out? Flay them alive? Don't spare me the details.. I enjoy tales of conquest very much." The platinum-haired woman took a long drag on her cigarette holder and gazed piercingly at Mayaki through the smoke as she exhaled it, adding to the haze around them.
"Er..." the wyvern girl began to answer. Xellos looked at her curiously. A wave of misery washed over her. She tried to cover it with a smile, but it came out more like a nervous grimace than she would have liked it to. "I... haven't quite killed them yet," she whispered, barely audible, though in the utter silence, her words echoed as if she'd dropped her iron skillet on the marble floor.
"What?" Zelas said flatly.
"Mayaki?!" Xellos stared at her.
Her temper boiled up unexpectedly. "Well, I was working up to it! I was going to, and then you showed up and carried me back here without so much as a by-your-leave before I even had a chance to tell you I hadn't done it yet!" Xellos quailed.
Zelas calmly took another drag on her cigarette and tapped the ash into the large, standing ashtray beside her throne. "So. They still live." It was definitely not a question. Both Mayaki and Xellos froze in place, Mayaki staring wide-eyed and frightened at Zelas, and Xellos staring at Mayaki in disbelief. "You haven't done as I asked."
"I just need a little more time, Beastmaster, honest. And a little less interference..." she added irritably. Outside, the wolves broke into a chorus of howls. Mayaki shivered as chills raced down her spine.
"Three days should have been plenty of time, girl. Your performance is unacceptable."
"Master Zelas, please," Xellos begged.
"Silence, Xellos." Her hard eyes focused on Mayaki after glaring at her priest-general. She opened her hand face-up toward Mayaki, then made a yanking gesture in the air. Mayaki gasped and broke off a scream as it felt as if her skin was being torn off. Collapsing to the floor, she could scarcely move, watching as streams of blacker than black mist poured out of her and floated to Zelas's waiting hand. She absorbed them without a thought or reaction. "Half Mazoku you may be, little one, but your heart is too pure to fully become one of us." Mayaki coughed and sat up to her knees as the sensation passed. It was almost a release, except that Zelas still had her fixed in her vision. She felt half paralyzed. "Xellos," the Mazoku lord spoke with a voice like ice, "kill her."
The priest's jaw dropped. He'd known something like that was coming all along...but now he had to kill her? He refused to believe what he'd heard.
"Kill her, Xellos, or else your fate will be worse than hers," Zelas demanded coolly.
Xellos paused, looking from Mayaki to his master and back. Mayaki was more or less rooted in place by her fear. Zelas didn't move either, giving him the impression that he was the only person in the world moving at that point in time until she smirked at him, giving him the indication that he was to make his decision. Usually, he would have had some witty response to give her as an answer, the same way he'd been vaguely defiant of Gaav, Seygram, Erlobos, Sirius... all the rest. But for now, his cynicism had deserted him, and he was left completely speechless.
For once, it wasn't a laughing matter.
Zelas's opinion seemed to differ. She cackled shrilly at his inability to choose. "Don't make me decide for you. You remember what happened last time, don't you? The other girl.. what was her name? Oh yes... Aryssa, wasn't it?"
Xellos looked utterly shocked. "Aryssa?" he breathed softly. Mayaki's breath hitched as well in recognition of the name, and she turned to see his reaction. Zelas was hitting below the belt. Mayaki's brow knit sympathetically. Xellos finally shook himself out of his memories. "Aryssa committed suicide. You were supposed to have made her Mazoku when she did."
Zelas laughed hilariously at him. "My boy, are you really still that naïve after all these years?" Xellos's eyes went even wider and his teeth clenched together in hatred. "She didn't kill herself. You did. On my orders."
Xellos shook his head. "No..."
The Mazoku queen took another puff on her cigarette and added, "I couldn't have her getting in the way of our little plan, just like I can't have this girl messing things up for us."
"No... I couldn't have... You're lying!" he shouted in a rare outburst.
Zelas chuckled at his pain. "Oh, it was quite a spectacle to see, the fear in her eyes as you went in to blast her to pieces. She really didn't know what she'd gotten into, falling for you!" The priest-general ground his teeth, trying to keep tears from forming in his amethyst eyes. "I can't imagine why you don't remember this yourself," she smirked. "Blocked it out, I suppose. That happens now and then when you experience... trauma. Not that it matters, of course, because you're going to do it again for me now." Another puff, smoke wreathing her delicate frame and her diamond circlet gleaming in the remaining sunlight from the room's high windows. She added a final insult, basking in all the pain she was causing her servant. "I suppose it's not really your fault though, Xelly. You just have bad taste in women."
*Including you, you witch,* he spat mentally.
"Enough playing around, though. Dispatch her, if you would, Xellos."
The monster closed his eyes and bowed slightly. "As you command, Master."
Mayaki squeaked a little as she rose to her feet with a small-sounding gasp of fright. Xellos gave her a mournful, whipped-dog look as he aimed his staff at her with gritted teeth. Was he really betraying her? She felt completely helpless. Her knives wouldn't work against him, and there was certainly nowhere she could run and hide... there was only her wyvern form to turn to...and still, that wouldn't be much against such a powerful Mazoku...
*What am I going to do? I don't want to die yet!* her mind screamed as she scrambled for options.
Xellos kept staring at her, looking as if he was trying to muster enough gumption to blast her. Amazingly, she found herself gazing back with such intense love for him.
"I'm so sorry, Mayaki..." he choked out, sounding more honest than she'd ever heard him.
"I forgive you," she replied quietly. "Do what you have to."
The Beastmaster cleared her throat. "Aren't you going to run, small one?" she interjected. "Or scream, perhaps?"
Mayaki wasn't going to give her that pleasure. "No use prolonging my own death."
"I know you're afraid. I can taste your fear."
"Yes. Of course I'm afraid. I'm afraid it will hurt. But it'll only be for a little bit."
Zelas sneered. "Oh, don't worry, we'll make the pain last for a long, long time... well after you're dead." She grinned with sadistic pleasure.
Mayaki hesitated, seeming to think that over and saddening, before adding strongly, "And I won't run from someone I love."
The Greater Beast cringed. "Kill her NOW!"
Xellos tightened his grasp on his staff and summoned a spell into it. The red crystal eye glowed ominously at Mayaki. "I love you," she mouthed to him silently, standing perfectly still and being a good little target.
"I know," he answered softly. "You too. Dam Bras!" Mayaki flinched as the spell charged through the staff, expecting to be filled with agony at any second. Instead, though, at the last moment, Xellos spun, sending the Dam Bras at Zelas's throne.
"What--?" she had time to say before the blast hit her.
"RUN, Mayaki!" Xellos urged, grabbing her arm and uprooting her from her frozen state. He all but dragged her through the castle, leaving Zelas howling behind them.
"I really thought you were going to kill me for a second there!" she panted, rounding a corner after him and picking up her skirts to jog down a short flight of stairs.
"So did I," he replied, a little more honest than would have been comforting. "Nevermind that for now, let's just get some distance between her and us!"
After dashing down another passageway and bounding down an elegant if somewhat neglected staircase, Xellos made a sharp right and threw open a door, slamming it behind them once Mayaki had gotten through. She breathed a sigh of relief as she leaned against the outer wall in the last fading rays of the sun as it disappeared past the horizon, then gasped as a string of howls reached her ears. They had made it outside, but what Mayaki had forgotten was that the castle had been the only barrier between her and the hundreds of ravenous, vicious wolves.
And those howls sounded awful close.
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. ;)