a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 22: Star of the Astral Plane
Mayaki floated. Eventually her mind grew accustomed to the gray shades of the Astral plane. *Gods, I hope I know what I'm doing,* she thought morosely, at last getting her bearings. She gasped, and her jaw clacked shut, then gaped open again.
Zelas, like any Mazoku, had a gargantuan Astral body, gruesomely designed, hideously thrown together, almost a jumble of mismatched parts left over from the creation of the universe, and every bit as deadly or more so than her physical forms. Being a powerful Mazoku and having stored so much fear, anguish, hatred, grief - great masses of negative human emotions-Zelas's Astral body was absolutely enormous; it would take a lot to injure it at all.
This wasn't what caused Mayaki to gasp.
What shocked her so much was that she recognized the horrible creature. And she'd killed it. The thought was heartening. If she had done it once in her dream when her powers hadn't been developed, she could surely do it again, with her skills honed by Xellos's careful mentoring. She vaguely wondered why he had brought her this particular image in her dream to have her kill. There was nothing that would prevent her from killing the creature again now. The part of her that was still Mazoku was going to enjoy this very, very much. "All right then," she muttered smugly to herself. "Time for a little payback, Beastmaster."
* * * * *
"Okay, Lina... what do we do?" Zel asked, firing up another spell as the wolf creature swooped at them, low enough to make them all duck reflexively.
The little sorceress thought aloud, running through their options. "I could try using the Laguna Blade on her, but my magic is still kinda blah. I don't know how much damage it would do or if it would work at all. Or we could keep picking away at her with Astral attacks, which will hardly do anything to stop her. Which means she'll probably kill us first."
"Encouraging thought," the chimaera sighed.
"Look!" Amelia pointed. "It's Mister Alemo!" The wyvern circled over them until he was close enough to the ground, where he simply transformed and dropped. He straightened from the crouch he'd landed in as if a twenty-plus foot plummet was nothing more to him than a game of hopscotch.
Lina half turned to look at him, keeping her attention on Zelas as Amelia and Zelgaddis continued firing Astral bolts at her. "Did you find her?" she asked, a hint of worry in her otherwise firm voice.
"Yes," he called back over the noise of battle, also watching the wolf-demon. "And Xellos as well. He was in a bad way, but Mayaki insisted that I not finish him off. She's gone to attack Zelas from the Astral plane."
"Whaaaat??" Lina screeched, yanking on her own hair. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
"What is it?" Gourry prompted. This whole monster-attacking-from-way-up-in-the-air thing was way out of his league, even with the Sword of Light drawn and ready.
"If Mayaki is in the Astral plane, she could be injured by our attacks! She won't be safe until she's back in our plane and we can see her."
Zelgaddis sidestepped until he was in range of the conversation. "Much as I hate to darken the mood, I think you should know, Lina, that Zelas has a shield up, and our attacks are pretty much, well, useless."
The sorceress drooped. "This really is turning out to be a lousy day..."
"Look out!" Amelia shouted, barely giving everyone enough warning to dive behind a nearby ridge of rocks. A scorching stream of flame from Zelas's muzzle seared the ground where they had been standing seconds before.
"Miss Lina, please do something!" the princess begged as flames licked around the rock at them.
"I can't! The Laguna Blade is useless until Mayaki gets out of the way! I hate to say it, guys, but we're sunk."
Gourry straightened himself up, holding his chin in his hand. "Hmmm. I may have an idea."
The others blinked at him. "We're doomed," Zel announced.
"No, no, no... listen, you guys! I remember back when we were fighting Shatter-Ringo and er... whatzisname.. the guy in red robes. Oh yeah... Zero."
"That's REZO, jellyfish for brains. And Shabranigdo," Lina scolded.
"Right, right. Well, anyway, Zel and Amelia used their spells on the Sword of Light to, you know, juice it up. And then there was that other time where Lina got past Zozo's-"
"REZO!" the group yelled at him.
Gourry continued, unfazed. "-yeah, him... Lina got past his shield by getting under him." He finished and proudly stuck his thumbs in his pockets. Another gout of flame poured around the outcropping, making all but the swordsman flinch.
"So... what?" Lina grumbled, tapping her foot impatiently.
Gourry was about to continue and effectively confuse everyone even more when Zelgaddis stepped in. "So, Amelia and I charge up the sword with a Ra Tilt."
"Right," Gourry nodded.
He was tired of explaining things. It took too much thinking. "Alemo, how close can you fly to Zelas?"
The half-wyvern answered him with a cocky smirk. "How close do you need to be?" Not waiting for an answer, he shifted forms and bowed over enough for Gourry to jump on his back. Amelia and Zel, wasting no time, both recited the spell for the Ra Tilt, releasing the blue-flaring energy into Gourry's sword. Alemo leapt off the ground, hauling Gourry along with him.
"Aaaaa!" the swordsman cried as the wyvern swooped higher and higher. "I forgot I'm afraid of heeeiiiiiiiiighhhts!" His voice trailed as he flew out of earshot.
The remaining three gaped after him. Lina finally stuttered out, "Did... did Gourry just...come up with a plan? By himself?"
"Sure looks that way," Amelia answered, equally confounded.
"I guess that jellyfish brain of his isn't all mush, anyway," Zel added.
Lina ignored the chimaera's cynicism, watching the wyvern and his passenger glide closer to their target, dodging Zelas's fire-blasts. "Be careful, Gourry," she whispered privately.
* * * * *
Zelas was rather distracted, fighting in two dimensions in two different bodies. It was disorienting, and annoying. At the moment, she was focusing her attention on the Astral plane.
"You impudent girl! I'll... argh!" she shouted at Mayaki as the little wyvern shot past, leaving a randomly zig-zagging slice across the creature's body, cutting with her razor-edged tail as she flew. There was triumph in her laughter as she mocked the demon lord, dancing across the ether, just out of tentacle's reach.
As the Greater Beast lurched sideways in the Astral plane to swipe a tentacle at Mayaki, Gourry and Alemo made their move, soaring up from underneath her and giving her a horrible gash from the enchanted sword. "Damn little human pest!" she screamed at him. With minimal effort, she called forth a part of her ether to heal herself. The wound was nothing, really; she could sustain and heal a wound like that fifty times or more without winding herself. It was the little wyvern bitch that was exhausting her. Before she could dodge, the half-Mazoku had sliced one of her tentacles off completely. The useless piece flopped on whatever it took for the ground, since the ether could be solid one second or air the next-however the dimension's users cared for it to be. Zelas tried to grab it with another tendril so she could re-attach it to herself, but the severed energy disappeared before she could.
"Stop it!" she burbled, eyes flashing brilliantly red. Then she yelped as the swordsman in the other dimension took off one of her forelegs. She sent her physical body diving after him while she summoned more of her ethereal self to grow a replacement paw.
With a small amount of luck, she managed to catch Alemo's tail in her wolf-like jaws. The wyvern squawked in shock and annoyance as his forward momentum was halted while his passenger continued on without him.
Gourry blinked as his forward progress slowed and stopped, then screamed as he realized he was falling.
"Gourry!" Lina squeaked. "Ray Wing!" she cast quickly, guiding the falling mercenary safely to the ground for a soft landing.
He opened his eyes and waved to her in appreciation. "Thanks, Lina!"
"Anytime!" she waved back.
Alemo fought like a demon to get Zelas to release his tail, but the harder he tugged against her, the more the giant wolf bit down, holding him firmly by his scythes. He tried swinging underneath her, hoping to catch some part of her in his teeth, but it was no use. He dangled helplessly, occasionally flopping his wings around. *Mayaki, where are you?* he wondered silently, almost pleading for her to come back from the Astral dimension.
Zelas laughed at him through her closed mouth. "You're as foolish as your sister, half-wyvern. And soon, you'll both be dead." Suddenly a bolt of blue light hit her in the snout, a bright contrast with her black fur. It sizzled and burned. She had let her shield down?! When had that happened? Since when was the mighty Greater Beast Zelas Metallium not even able to keep up her magic shields?!
The Mazoku lord yelped and lost her hold on Alemo, who dropped away from her like a stone off a bridge. Once he was out of her range, he simply glided to a landing, waiting for another shot at her.
Zelgaddis glared at Amelia. "I thought we'd agreed not to use Astral attacks..."
"Well... someone had to help Mister Alemo, right? I figured one Elmekia Lance wouldn't hurt."
Zel's glare continued. "Okay, but no more. You might hurt Mayaki or Alemo."
Amelia looked thoroughly chastised and stared down at her feet. "Right..."
* * * * *
Zelas, meanwhile, was concentrating more on her Astral form. That miserable little girl had slashed away more than half of her energy reserves! A new tactic was in order... something that would catch the wyvern-girl's attention, something that would appeal to her human emotions. It was humans' soft emotions that made them weak, after all.
"You fight valiantly, Mayaki Sora. I almost regret rejecting you as my servant."
"If that's an invitation back, I decline," Mayaki snarled, looping over the Beastmaster's weakened body with astounding confident grace.
"Far from it. In fact, I wish to endow you with a gift, one very prized amongst the Mazoku."
"I don't want anything from you, Zelas. Save your gifts and your breath for someone else."
"Ah, but you shall receive it anyway. It's the gift of Misery."
Mayaki hovered, glaring at the wounded demon creature. "There's nothing you could possibly do to cause me any more misery than you already have," she squawked.
Zelas chuckled darkly. "I think there is."
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. ;)