Episode 024: Gloom! A Dark Day
Episode 024: Gloom! A Dark Day
After quietly following Zelgadis to the location of the old Flagoon, Filia made an astonishing discovery, Amelia was with child and her state of health was fragile at best. Flagoon had slowly started to revive, the temple that Fibrizo once put in its place being all but disintegrated by the branches and roots that took on a new life. It was all because of the effects of the energy from the Sea of Chaos that had been used to fight off the Stillness a little over a year ago.
"Amelia..." Filia curiously approached, feeling a concern she didn't even know a monster could feel. It was happening again; emotions that she shouldn't have were surfacing and going wild. This was different from what happened when she was around Xellos; it was another type of connection akin to what she felt for Lina, friendship.
Amelia smiled beckoning Filia to come closer while Zelgadis remained paralyzed and silent. "It's good to see you again."
Filia nodded curiously and with her attention captivated by the situation before her, decided to leave her inner debates for later. "It's... good to see you too..." She wasn't sure what to say, as her mind was filled with unanswered questions that continued to pile up by the second. To ask what happened felt rather silly, as it was plainly obvious. So instead she inquired, "how are you?" Which felt like a fairly stupid question as well, given how pale and sickly Amelia looked.
"I'm fine," the smile was strained for energy but not for sincerity. Not one to be discouraged easily, the Seyruun princess was ready to face any challenge that life might throw at her. "How are you doing? Did you come by Sairaag on your own, or are the others here too?"
"They're here," Filia glanced at Zelgadis for a split second to see his reaction. He remained still with a solemn expression.
"How wonderful," Amelia's face continued to brighten despite her condition. She had lost the perception of time since the area was dark anyway and had to be lit with spells. She didn't realize that it was the middle of the night. "It'll be good to see them again."
Zelgadis' mouth opened to speak, but for several seconds no sounds came out until he finally voiced a quiet, "Amelia..." He tried to gather his words and progress with what he was trying to say, though he wasn't sure of it himself. "You know they can be a little noisy," he warned as gently as possible.
"Don't worry," Amelia assured, dismissing the overprotective concern. "Everything will be just fine. Besides, they had to find out eventually. A baby is not something that can be kept a secret for so long."
Zelgadis nodded, lowering his head and remaining silent. Every time he saw how hard this was on Amelia, his guilt increased, though she had never blamed him for her difficulties. Ever since she realized what was going on, she took the situation in stride and was ready to face the consequences of their actions. They were engaged anyway, she knew she wanted to spend her life with him, so it didn't seem like something all that bad, even if the timing could have been better. As her condition rapidly became obvious, Amelia realized that if a royal wedding took place then, there would be a scandal.
Thus Amelia did what she thought would look best in the eyes of diplomacy as long as the truth was never known, for the sake of her kingdom. She resolved to have the child first, get married and then make the announcement of the child's existence. If anyone inquired about the speed of the process, she would explain that the baby was born quickly due to being a chimera, which was actually true anyway. Albeit she intended to tell her father and sister the truth, Amelia decided that she would speak to them upon her return to Seyruun after the birth.
The original plan was to return to Seyruun quietly and give birth there, but after some complications along the way with which Sylphiel helped when they met on the road, they decided to head to the closer town of Sairaag to get some rest. Sylphiel volunteered to help nurse Amelia, but the Seyruun princess never became well enough to get back on the road. As her pregnancy progressed, she spent more time sleeping and Sylphiel suggested that it was best not to move her. The atmosphere of the reviving Flagoon was calming and filled with positive energy, thus it helped Amelia relax, the reason for which she was kept there.
Giving up on trying to shelter Amelia from the chaos that followed Lina wherever she went, Zelgadis finally agreed. "I'm sure the others will come by in the morning."
"Morning?" Amelia tilted her head in question.
"It's the middle of the night," Filia revealed, which made Amelia looked more curious. "I couldn't sleep so I came by now," she excused herself.
"Oh my... I didn't even realize." Amelia looked at Zelgadis with concerned eyes. He was trying so hard to be strong for her that it was at times easy to miss the exhaustion in his face. "Please get some rest, Zel. My fellow insomniac and I will find ways to occupy ourselves."
Amelia made it sound simple, but for Zelgadis, restlessness was all he knew lately. "I'm not tired," he insisted, suppressing an ill-timed yawn.
"Please rest, do it for me," Amelia insisted, her big blue eyes pleading.
Filia wasn't sure what came over her when she volunteered. "Sleep, I'll stay up with Amelia. Monsters don't need sleep anyway and I'm not in the mood to put myself in a sleep-like state tonight."
Filia as a monster was unusual, but Zelgadis resolved to think that this was the same Filia he knew deep down. Furthermore, if he stayed there to try to keep his earlier performance a secret it wouldn't work anyway, if Filia wanted to reveal his run away act, she would, no matter if he was listening or not. "Alright," he finally nodded, accepting Filia's suggestion. Then he gave Amelia a serious look, "you must wake me up if you're not feeling well. Even if you think you can handle it, promise you'll call me."
"Don't worry," Amelia continued to smile.
xoxox xox xoxox
When dawn came to the town of Sairaag, the day was rather gloomy. The sun was covered by thick rain clouds, making it look as if dawn had never happened. A persistent fog clung to the atmosphere, making the day feel even gloomier. Early in the morning, even if the rays of the sun were not there to greet her as they usually did, Sylphiel was up. She and Lina slept in sleeping bags, at it was customary of a sleepover, though the kind hostess did offer Lina her bed. "Good morning, Lina!" Sylphiel greeted cheerfully, even if neither the day nor the situation was cheery.
Lina groaned in response, not in the mood to be woken up so early in the morning. It seemed that not even the sun itself wanted to face the new day. The redhead turned over in the sleeping bag and buried her face in the pillow. Her voice came out muffled against it, "I don't want to get up." The rain wasn't pouring yet, but the clouds persisted in covering the sunlight. They neither released their waters, nor went away with it, they only loomed as if wanting to prolong the dread of the coming downpour.
Ever patient, Sylphiel did not insist. Lina shifted some more as Sylphiel stopped at the door. "The sleepover is officially over now; you can use the bed if you want."
With a few more sleepy incoherencies being mumbled with a drowsy expression, Lina got up from the sleeping bag. She lay down on the bed and on the second that her head touched the pillow, she immediately fell asleep again.
xoxox xox xoxox
A short while later, downstairs, Sylphiel busied herself in the kitchen. She was preparing breakfast for her house guests and the other two no longer secret guests that were in her care, albeit not in her house. She left some bread, blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, which would take a while to be ready, though not as long as with a regular oven, as Sylphiel's was magically enhanced.
She packed some sandwiches that she made a few hours ago while Lina was sleeping, thus salvaging them from the redhead's voracious appetite. After adding some medicines to the basket she was carrying, the kind young woman headed for the door. She paused before going out, glancing out the front window next to the door. She picked up the umbrella from the umbrella bucket next to the cape rack and went out the door.
Sylphiel let out a breath as she looked at the gray skies. She didn't like the atmosphere; it amplified the feeling of foreboding that already hung heavy in the air. Walking briskly, Sylphiel made her way out of town. The bustling marketplace from the day before was completely different that morning, as if the day invited even the usually eager merchants to stay in bed. With the street clear, almost deserted in the early morning, Sylphiel hurried out of the main street and towards the area where Flagoon was reviving.
xoxox xox xoxox
Mist and humidity hung in the air as Sylphiel entered past the roots and ruins into the inner chambers of Flagoon, covered in vines and the seedling-like branches of the reviving tree. She set her umbrella aside and called forth some illumination. "Light..." Sylphiel voiced softly in case Amelia and Zelgadis were sleeping, she knew that they hardly got any rest lately. In Amelia's case it was because of her insistent pains and for Zelgadis it was his need to watch Amelia twenty-four seven, driven by both love and guilt.
"Ah!" The sudden scream that pierce the gloomy silence made Sylphiel jump and shattered her concentration. As a result, she accidentally dispelled the light as if driven by an instinctual reaction to seek cover as if she was going to be attacked. Yet a split second later she knew that she wouldn't be needing to put the offensive magic she learned over the past year to use in defending her home from bandits and the like, not this time.
"Light!" Sylphiel recasted the spell hastily and dropped her basket carelessly in her rush. Amelia's pained voice became clearer as she got closer. It was white magic that Sylphiel would need now. She was surprised to find Filia next to Amelia's bed on the side opposite to Zelgadis. They had combined their efforts to try to ease Amelia's pain with healing magic. With no time to ask about the specifics, Sylphiel joined the healing with a Resurrection spell.
xoxox xox xoxox
Back at Sylphiel's house, when Xellos woke up, Gourry was still sleeping and Pokota was awake, but he had not gotten up yet. The blonde swordsman's snores were muffled under a mountain of pillows. The scene made Xellos remember the previous night when Gourry was the first to fall as sleep. Since the three men shared Sylphiel's guest room, they didn't even have the comfort of a thin inn wall to serve as a barrier between them and Gourry's snores. Thus, following a silent agreement that came to out of shared desperate looks, Xellos and Pokota set out to gather every spare pillow and cushion they could find in Sylhpiel's residence to pile them on top of Gourry.
The Taforashia prince seemed to be absorbed in his own thoughts that morning, but soon after Xellos got up, Pokota did too. Then Xellos, perceptive as he was, realized that Pokota must have woken up more than just a little while ago, the evidence of his uneasy slumber clear in his tired face. Yet the pink haired prince didn't want to be the first one to make it downstairs, least he find himself alone with Sylphiel as she, ever the sweet girl she was, prepared food for her guests. He wanted to talk to her in private, but he wasn't sure he wanted to hear what she would say. More so, if she refused to say anything at all, he was sure that he wouldn't be able to contain a sea of questions that would probably make her silence harder on her and more hurtful to him.
Silently and without as much as a verbal greeting, Xellos and Pokota made their way downstairs. Appetizing scents were coming from the vacant kitchen hinting that Sylphiel must have already been there, though she didn't seem to be in the house at the moment. They reasoned that she would be back soon enough if she had gone off for some early morning grocery shopping or something. As for Lina, if she had not gone with Sylphiel, it was only a matter of time before the scents of freshly baked bread, blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls called her out of dream land and into the kitchen downstairs.
With not much else to do, Xellos and Pokota sat at the table quietly and waited. It didn't look like Filia was back yet, Xellos silently noted. The atmosphere and weather were very gloomy and quiet, thus he wasn't even in the mood to try to come up with a sarcastic remark to tell Pokota as a means of entertainment until Filia returned or either Sylphiel or Lina, of both, made their appearance.
The boring silence didn't have to stretch for too long, as the scent of food did give Lina the motivation she needed to drag herself out of bed and head towards the kitchen. "Something smells good!" The petite redhead exclaimed, surprised that only Xellos and Pokota occupied the dinning table. The scents made her think that Sylphiel would be there taking care of the kitchen and that just as she got up, Gourry would be awake by now too. Where are Sylphiel and Gourry?" A jolt of panic overtook Lina as she thought that wherever they disappeared to they could be together. But that couldn't be, right? Sylphiel only saw him as a friend now, right? She had demonstrated it herself after all.
Xellos caught the hint of jealousy in Lina's voice and thought about teasing her. However, Pokota, who was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice Lina's suspicious tone, answered first. "Gourry is still in the guest room sleeping. I'm not sure where Sylphiel is..."
Lina became visibly relieved. "Sylhpiel probably went out to the market or something. She wouldn't have left the kitchen going like this if she didn't intend to come back soon," she logically concluded. "I'm surprised that the scent hasn't woken Gourry."
"Must be all the pillows and cushions we piled on him to block out his snoring," Xellos commented. His curiosity was mildly sparked as he inquired. "I wonder why he's not that loud when we camp out?"
"Sleeping outside and sleeping indoors are different for Gourry. He always snores a whole lot louder at inns. It also depends on his mood." This was something that Lina knew well as a result of her years traveling with Gourry. Then she realized that she had more insight into his feelings than she knew. Something was on his mind; he always snored louder when something was bothering him. For him to be this loud, he must be pushing his brain to think about something a lot.
The scent of something burning in the oven interrupted Lina's train of thought. She, Pokota and Xellos sniffed the air with slight alarm. Then the golden dragon asked with a cheery grin that was very much like him. "Is it supposed to smell like that?"
"No!" Lina exclaimed as she jumped over the counter that separated the kitchen and dinning area and scrambled towards the oven. She opened it, but the tray of over-baked food inside was too hot. "Ah!" She had to pull back her hands in pain, muttering some less than nice words under her breath that Luna might scold her for and hastily casting a healing spell on her hands.
Mere seconds transpired until Gourry came rushing down the stairs, with the sword of light in hand. "Are we under attack?"
"No, I just burned myself a little. It's no big deal, I already healed myself," Lina explained. Then she took note of Gourry's attire, or lack there of. "Why in the world are you only wearing a towel?"
"When I woke up I was by myself in the room." Gourry explained as he put away the sword of light seeing as there was no immediate threat after all. "I got up and went to take a morning bath, then I heard you yell and came running."
"Oh..." Lina blushed, thinking that it was sweet of him to come to her rescue. Filled with hope, she asked, "you were worried about me because you care?"
"Of course," Gourry replied with a friendly smile. Yet there was a hint of sadness in his eyes, or perhaps longing, that was too well hidden for anyone to notice. "That's what friends are for, right?"
Lina frowned, "right..." Gourry only tilted his head in curiosity upon seeing her expression fall. Not in the mood to deal with Gourry's apparent lack of perception, Lina sent him away. "Well, there's no danger here, so you can go finish getting dressed." Gourry wasn't sure why Lina's mood had suddenly shifted for the worse, but he didn't question it and returned up the stairs. Maybe he would be able to think better with his pants on.
All the while the exchange between Lina and Gourry was taking place, Pokota had found some thick kitchen gloves that allowed him to pick up the trays and set them out on the counter without hurting his hands. Xellos let out a little giggle. "Those gloves match your hair." He teased, referring to the pink kitchen gloves.
Pokota frowned and set the gloves aside, "I don't see how that's funny." He looked at the ruined bread, blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls. "I don't see how any of this is funny."
"I bet Lina and Gourry will still eat this," Xellos teased.
Lina made no direct reply to him, while Pokota expressed his concern. "I wonder why Sylphiel isn't back yet?" There were too many things about the current situation that he didn't know, but he did know that the monsters were up to something and that was enough to make him worry. "I'm going out to look for her."
Lina picked up a slightly burned cinnamon roll and took a bite. "These aren't that bad, with some butter or jam on top they'll be alright."
Gourry returned fully dressed and looked at the food trays hungrily. "Are we going to have breakfast now?" He looked around the group and made an observation. "Aren't we missing some people?" It was enough that he remembered that much, to ask him to name them would be too much.
"They're not here," Lina declared. She wasn't in a good mood and she wanted to console herself with food, even if it meant having to deal with sharing breakfast with Gourry. She would show him, she would eat as much of the food as she could. "I'm hungry so I'm starting on breakfast now."
Gourry shrugged, "if it's okay then me too."
To be Continued
I've been caught up with a lot of web-design projects lately. For more details check out my main site's link at my profile. No worries, I'll still update this story regularly and my X-Men fanfic too. That one only needs one more chapter... but this one had many more chapters to come!