a Slayers fanfic
Chapter 31: Well, Duuuuuuuh!
He absently swirled his tea with a finger and tried to enjoy yet another over-salted crumpet. It turned out that they were the only thing Deep Sea had ever learned to make. One of her previous captives had taught her the recipe; and on another occasion, she managed to trap a ship carrying roughly twelve tons of flour. Alemo, supervising the Mazoku's technique, noted that when the recipe called for two cups of water, Deep Sea would create a stable opening in the glasslike wall and dip the required amount directly from the ocean. He would have mentioned the problem with this, if he'd had the heart to. For a Dark Lord who could create things at will, she was extremely proud of her single culinary achievement. She was already mad; he couldn't bear to damage her ego any further.
The Mazoku seemed fairly tractable at the moment, and almost sane. She sat across from him at a small café-bistro table. He had humored her for three days; now it was time to broach the subject of leaving before the abundance of salt mummified him alive. "Dolphin-Rah," he asked charmingly, "is it possible, my dear, that you could send me back up to the surface?"
She fixed him with a pouting look. "It's not as nice on the surface as it is down here. Why, there are no fish up there at all!"
"Dolphin-Rah, captivating hostess as you are, I need to return to my mission."
"Mission, brave Knight?"
"Dolphin-Rah," he corrected. "My sister is on her way to the Darisalito Mountains to warn my father" -he spat the word venomously-"that I'm coming to kill him."
A sympathetic look graced Deep Sea's insane face. "Oh, that's terrible! How dare they impede you, dear Knight!" She patted his hand. For an evil overlord, she could also be quite pleasant, Alemo mused.
"Do you know of the Darisalito Mountains, Dolphin-Rah?"
The tiny woman blinked at him, the burst into peals of laughter. "Oh, my dear brave Knight, you are funny! What would I know about mountains?" Alemo's heart dropped down amid his intestines. The Mazoku's expression changed from mirth to abject sorrow. "Why does everyone always want to leave meeeeee?" she wailed, the walls of her palace roiling as if the underwater structure would collapse in on itself any second.
Alemo swayed a bit, wary, but used to her sudden outbursts. She enjoyed his company too much to harm him. He hoped that was the case, anyway. "Now, Dolphin, you know I can't stay here, and it'll be impossible to track my father if Mayaki and her allies find him first."
"RAH!" she screamed at him sulkily.
He tried another approach. "There's a certain former-Mazoku enemy of yours, darling, traveling with them."
"I think you know."
"The, um... the one who drove you insane, so you said..."
"AAAAAA!!!" the Mazoku shrieked. Unwitting wish were slammed against the enclosure, driven by the churning waters Deep Sea controlled.
The assassin calmly stepped behind her and muffled her with a hand until the swirling ocean currents calmed. "I can take care of him for you, you know. Now that Beastmaster Zelas has been destroyed, he's powerless. He'll be no trouble at all."
Deep Sea's mouth closed. Alemo removed his hand. "Would you really?" her cyan eyes glittered malevolently.
"Quite gladly. If you'll get me to shore, that is..."
She bounced on her toes. "Of course! Wait a moment, I'll give you something. GUARDS!" She waited a moment. "Oh, nevermind, I'll do it myself." Out of thin air, she produced a glass cruet. Then she wandered over to the wall and stuck her hand through an opening she created. A strange-looking creature obediently scudded over to her, allowing itself to be grabbed in her waiting hand. Its tentacles flopped uselessly as the rest of its body seemed to swell up. The Mazoku gave the creature a violent squeeze, causing it to loose a stream of black, sticky and foul-smelling ooze. She filled to bottle with it, kissed the sea beast lovingly and released it back through the opening. "Puff-squid oil is the most deadly substance in my whole realm," she declared, sounding less like her insane self and more like a Mazoku Lord-evil from stem to stern. "When ingested, it causes vomiting, convulsions, nerve spasms, paralysis, catharsis... all amounting to a painful and slow death." Her eyes gleamed. Alemo felt nailed to the spot as she stoppered the cruet and held it out to him. "This ought to slow your friends down."
He accepted the poison slowly, with extreme caution and a hint of guilt. "Thank you, my lady." He carefully secured the phial in the pouch at his hip.
"Oh, the least I can do," she waved him off. "If you were a little closer to death, I'd just kill you and resurrect you as my new general, but," she shrugged nonchalantly, "such is life."
"Perhaps another time," she breezed, capturing both his hands in hers. He wondered if the puff-squid juice could be absorbed through the skin, if she had any on her hands. You never could tell with insane Mazoku. "Goodbye, darling Knight, and good luck to you on your holy quest. May you be the victorious murderer. Adieu, adieu. I pray we shall meet again."
Alemo played along. "Likewise, my lady. You've been more then generous."
Her face grew wistful, and her eyes filled with the saltwater that was her essence. "Do come back and visit me, Alemo. It's so very lonely down here."
He was about to reply gallantly when a bubble formed around him, shot haphazardly to the surface and sped towards the continental shore as he ricocheted off its walls.
Deep Sea clasped her hands tearfully. "Goodbye..." After a moment, she turned her head to the air beside her. "Oh, Margaret, I shall miss him terribly... he's done us so much good here..." She paused. "Yes, and he does have a nice ass, doesn't he?"
* * * * *
Filia had bid them farewell early that morning as the group continued their search for the mountains. She and Mayaki had gotten along fine after their initial spat, though the two were still edgy around one another and didn't dare strain their relation further... In other words, they barely spoke to each other unless it was absolutely necessary. Xellos tried to behave himself, but, as he told them all later, "There's just something about Filia that makes her the perfect target." He managed to get himself kicked before leaving. Twice.
He rubbed his bruised ribs again. "Ouch... I'm going to have to start remembering that pain is different for humans..."
"You deserved it," Lina chided. "After threatening to break her pots like that... you're just lucky she kicked you in the ribs instead of your..."
"Miss Lina! Don't be crude!"
"Ohhh, all right..."
"Hey, here comes Zelgaddis," Gourry pointed out.
Mayaki blinked. "Back from the library already?"
Amelia nodded. "If there's an expert researcher among us, it's Mister Zelgaddis. He's been after his cure for years. If there's information about the Darisalito Mountains there, he'll find it for sure."
"Zel!" Lina waved exuberantly. "Any luck?"
The cloaked chimaera man shook his head. "Not a word. These wyverns must be a really tight-lipped bunch. The clerk said that the city east of here has a fair-sized library... that sounds like our best bet for now."
The little redhead let out a puff of breath. "We're never going to find this place at the rate we're going... and it's almost winter. We'll all be decrepit by the time we find this place! There has to be an easier way than going from town to town on the off chance somebody has heard of these stupid mountains!"
Zelgaddis chuffed. "If only we'd done some research before we went to the Temple of Dreams..." He stared vaguely into space.
Amelia took hold of his arm. "Are you all right, Mister Zelgaddis? It's not like you to-" He jerked his arm away from her. She was left stunned. He wasn't angry at her. They both knew it, and so neither one apologized for their action. It wouldn't have gotten them anywhere.
The motley group followed the eastern road out of town, pensively, in silence.
"Wait," Xellos suddenly interposed. He froze in his tracks. The others halted as well, curious. Xellos's seriousness triggered something in them-a communal feeling of significance, set off by the tone of his voice. "We have to go back there."
"To Effigren?" Mayaki asked, looking over her shoulder. She'd rather not visit the golden dragon woman again so soon.
Xellos made no motion, but corrected, "To the Temple of Dreams. To Telgen City."
Zelgaddis growled. "Why do we need to go back there?! We've already been there, used our wishes, and got nothing out of it!"
Mayaki corrected him. "Maybe not 'nothing.' I'm sure we've all learned something from our dreams... I know that without mine, I never would have been able to defeat Zelas."
"We don't need a moral right now," the chimaera snapped at her. He wheeled angrily on Xellos. "And now you want us to retrace our steps because YOU... you..." The anger died on his stone lips. His eyes locked on the priest, expression melting to one of awe and realization. "...you never went in."
The general-priest nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving Zelgaddis's. The chimaera's eyes dilated and moistened. His expression changed like the time of day, from anger to hope to frustration to hope to confusion to hope. If he knew what to say at all, he couldn't make the words come out. Finally, he turned to cut through the forest toward a northeast-bound road that would lead them to Telgen.
Mayaki linked hands with the somber priest as they followed. They exchanged a quiet glance. She finally ended the hush with, "It's so good of you to do this for him."
"And for you," he replied, quirking a smile back at her. "Or had you forgotten that this is your quest as well?"
She chuckled to herself. "No, you would have done it voluntarily for me, but for Zel?"
"True, we've had a bitter relationship. For all I've done to him when I was Mazoku, I owe him this." They watched Amelia scamper past to catch up with Zelgaddis. She took his hand again. This time, he didn't shake her off, and grinned down at her instead. Mayaki turned to Xellos, grinning, to see if he'd noticed. His eyes were fixed on them, but he didn't share her smile. "I'm a horrible person, Mayaki."
"Maybe you were. But you're not now." She hugged his arm, leaning against him. "I'm very proud of you."
The grim look on Xellos's face held its ground. Mayaki felt obligated to expound upon his virtues. "You saved me from Zelas."
"I was the one who seduced you in the first place," he countered.
"Yes, but then you sacrificed your rank and power for me."
"It was a tough decision. I just as easily could have killed you, and blanked it out of my mind. Just like Aryssa."
"But.. the Temple of Dreams," she protested. "I never would have been able to fight Zelas if you hadn't messed with my head like that."
Xellos stared at her. "What do you mean?"
Mayaki's voice caught. Didn't he remember? "In that dream, a big monster attacked me, and I defeated it then. But later, when I fought Zelas in the Astral Plane, she looked exactly like the monster in my dream, so I knew I could defeat her again."
The priest's eyes contained a wild fear. "I didn't do that..."
"I didn't bring you an image of Zelas to kill."
"The monster I sent into your dreams was a giant octopus."
Mayaki shook her hear leerily. "No..."
They walked in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Xellos muttered, "I know I didn't miscast it..."
"It was her... I swear it was her..." Mayaki answered.
"It must've been something in that temple," he mused. "The dream spirits, though I didn't detect them... they knew. They gave you what you needed to see, Mayaki."
"What we both needed, apparently."
A long pause ensued. "Perhaps..."
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. ;)