Episode 025: Tragedy! The Guilt Of A Loss
Episode 025: Tragedy! The Guilt Of A Loss
While the gluttonous duo, Lina and Gourry, focused on eating the accidentally over baked bread, blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls, Pokota slipped out of Sylphiel's house to search for her. Xellos didn't have much else to do, so he went out to take a look around Sairaag.
Xellos walked through the gloomy foggy atmosphere. A few merchants had ventured out and were halfheartedly setting up their products on displays in booths in the marketplace. A few shop owners had opened their businesses' doors and sat behind deserted counters leaning on their elbows with the same lazy expressions. It was amazing how a change in the weather could give or take away stamina. It wasn't so much a matter of the temperature, but the mood of the day. It was a purely emotional reaction that affected the core functionalities of those beings called humans in more powerful ways than it should be physically possible.
Xellos made it to the outskirts of town and curiously approached the reviving Flagoon. He heard the echo of a female voice and became more intrigued about what was going on in the cavern. He saw an umbrella near the cavity's entrance that had been set aside and a few more paces deeper in, a basket carelessly thrown on the ground as if the one previously carrying it was in a hurry.
"Medicine! Medicine!" Filia teleported suddenly, making Xellos take an instinctual step back away from the basket. The monster spotted the basket and hurried to pick it up. While healing magic closed wounds and provided energy for the body to fight off diseases, it couldn't heal what the body was unable to heal on its own. It wasn't a cure for an illness, it was healing, it sped up the process and gave the body some help. Yet if the body could not produce what was needed naturally, with healing magic it still wouldn't.
"Filia?" Xellos' perplexed voice made Filia lift her eyes from the basket she was rummaging through to look at him. "What's going on?"
"I don't have time for you now raw garbage," Filia snapped. She found what she was looking for in the basket and shoved the basket and the rest of its contents into Xellos' arms, just because he was there. "Amelia is giving birth a little way that way." She pointed her finger towards the deeper corridors of the cavern. "So don't go in there!" She warned threateningly. "The only man allowed in there right now is Zelgadis, no one else, got it?"
Xellos nodded slowly, caught off guard by the sudden revelation, "got it..." He knew that Zelgadis was hiding something, but he didn't expect it to be the approaching arrival of a child.
"You better." With one last glare of distrust directed at Xellos, Filia teleported once again and was gone from his line of sight, presumably back to the cave chamber where the birth was taking place.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Pokota had asked around town, but no one had seen Sylphiel that morning. A few people mentioned that she was tending to a patient near the old Flagoon and might have gone there. Using that as a clue, Pokota headed there. He arrived at Flagoon a short while after Xellos, having taken his time to ask and search around town. He entered and saw the umbrella which Xellos had seen not long ago. A short way deeper in, Pokota saw Xellos sitting on the ground with basket next to him. A woman's pained screams echoed, but all that Xellos did was calmly eat a sandwich he had retrieved from the basket.
"Xellos!" Pokota accused, wondering if he should just ignore the golden dragon, who used to be a monster, and simply rush in to see what the yelling was about. "How could you just be sitting there eating with all that screaming? What's going on?" Another shout followed and Pokota started running towards the next chamber.
"Stop!" Xellos called out.
The Taforashia prince reluctantly halted his rush and glared back at the golden dragon with urgency. "What's going on?" He once again demanded to know.
"There's a birth taking place in the next chamber and I have been warned that no men, save for the child's father, will be allowed in there until it is finished." Xellos smiled cheerful and carefree as he explained.
Pokota's tense stance relaxed slightly, though his expression was still a mix of doubt and puzzlement. "Really?" Xellos nodded and Pokota mused about what the townspeople had mentioned. They didn't say much about Sylphiel's patient, but who was to say the patient couldn't be a pregnant woman? "Oh..." Well if that was the truth then he couldn't just rush in there. Also, it would explain why Sylphiel didn't go back to the house, perhaps the birth began unexpectedly and her assistance as a healer was needed.
Feeling calmer after learning at least part of what was going on; Pokota sat down near the basket and peered into it. "These were made by Sylphiel," he concluded, picking up a sandwich and examining it. Xellos raise an eyebrow as if to inquire how he was so familiar with her cooking, but Pokota decided to ignore the gesture and eat. He paused as another scream echoed and gulped. "Poor lady... I hope everything works out..."
The word "justice" was shouted in a very loud voice, echoing through the area around the old Flagoon and beyond.
Pokota almost choked on his sandwich, "if I didn't know any better, I would think its Amelia giving birth in there..."
Xellos grinned from ear to ear, "that's because it is Amelia giving birth in there."
Pokota's jaw dropped, "no... no... no way!" He stuttered, unable to believe it. He jumped to his feet and walked a few steps, then walked back to the spot where he sat before and moved in such a way for a few seconds. "You're lying..." Xellos only smiled and Pokota knew that he was in fact telling the truth. The pink haired prince walked back and forth some more. He was surprised to learn about Amelia, but more so he was frustrated that no one told him about it, that she didn't mention it in her letters. Wasn't he trusted as a friend? Frowning, he continued to pace around and fidget with uneasiness.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, back at Sylphiel's house, Lina and Gourry had an all out battle to decide who would eat the last cinnamon roll. With Lina as the victor, breakfast was officially over. Once that was done, a heavy uncomfortable silence settled in between the sorceress and the swordsman, until Lina decided to go on the retreat. She headed for the door as casually as she could with a light excuse. "I'm going to see what's taking everyone so long to come back."
"I'll go with you," Gourry offered and began to follow Lina out before she could protest. Lina considered her options for a moment and finally nodded. The prideful sorceress wasn't going to let Gourry think she was avoiding him. Never mind that he probably wouldn't notice even if she tried to make it obvious.
The redhead and the blond exited the house and looked around town. The streets had a few pedestrians here and there by then, but they certainly weren't as crowded as the day before. People carried lighter shopping bags and many had umbrellas at the ready for whenever the dark skies decided to release their waters.
After inquiring about Sylphiel, as out of all of them she would be the one the townspeople would be most familiar with, Lina decided to head to the old location of Flagoon. Though no one revealed the name of the mysterious patient Sylphiel was caring for, Lina put two and two together and concluded that it was Amelia. But what could the problem be?
Just as Gourry and Lina reached the old Flagoon, there was a crash of lightning in the distance with echoing thunder and the downpour that was threatening to fall came down all at once. Lina and Gourry ran for cover at the Flagoon cavern. Once out of range of the downpour, Lina squeezed the water out of her cape. "When it rains, it pours!"
Gourry was about to say something, possibly something dumb commenting about the rain, but just as he opened his mouth a female voice yelled. He closed his mouth again, the odd timing making it look as if the sound had come from him.
Lina would have chuckled if not for the fact that she was on edge thinking that an attack was just waiting to happen and that the one yelling could be Sylphiel or Amelia at the verge of death. She rushed deeper into the cave chamber only to stop upon seeing Xellos sitting in an odd pose, using his dragon tail coiled into a sort of stool. Not too far from him, Pokota was walking back and forth continuously. Lina placed her hands on her hips and demanded to know. "What in the world is going on here?"
"It's customary," Xellos calmly replied with his usual cheery grin.
"Customer?" Gourry blinked in confusion. "Did you decide to open a shop here, Xellos?" He looked around. "I don't see any merchandise and what was that scream just now? We were running to see, but Lina stopped to I stopped too."
"Customary," Xellos corrected. "That is to say that it is a tradition."
"Oh..." When the next pained yell came, Gourry didn't seem alarmed, albeit Lina and Pokota both flinched. "That's a weird tradition, yelling like that."
Xellos let out a breath, trying to be patient. "That's not the tradition," he pointed at Pokota, "that is."
"What?" Pokota and Lina unanimously chorused.
"When a woman is giving birth, there's always that family member that's walking back and forth, slowly making a hole on the floor with all that walking, just outside the door to her room, or a short distance away from her cave chamber in this case. But you know, things change, so this time around the father is in there, assisting with the birth, I would assume. Yet it wouldn't be the same without all the walking, so Pokota is filling in with this silly traditional gesture. Isn't that kind of him?" Xellos chirped cheerfully.
"This is no joking matter!" Pokota snapped.
"What's wrong, are you tired of walking?" Xellos got up from his tail stool and stretched the golden scaled appendage. "I guess I could go for stretching my legs right about now. Do you want me to walk for a little while? Then Gourry can walk for some time too until it's all over."
Gourry wasn't sure what this was about, he only caught something about strange traditions that involved yelling and walking. Whatever it was, it might be fun. "Count me in, I want to be a part of Sairaag's traditions too!"
"Wait a minute!" Lina stepped in with alarmed impatience. "You mean to say that all that yelling is because Amelia is giving birth?"
"Yes, but I didn't say it was Amelia." As Xellos pointed that out, Lina slapped both her hands over her mouth. Albeit to her relief, Xellos soon added, "even if I did already know, I didn't realize you had knowledge of the news as well."
Pokota looked betrayed, as if Lina had also hidden the fact from him. She caught his look and shook her head. "I just found out last night and Sylphiel was supposed to be arranging a visit for us today. But it looks like the baby came unexpectedly."
"I'm confused," Gourry confessed, although it was certainly not a big secret.
"Amelia is further into the cavern having a baby right now." Lina simplified the explanation as much as she could.
"Really? What about the traditions?" Gourry inquired in puzzlement.
"Never mind that!" Lina snapped.
Gourry decided to forget about the complex customs that Sairaag had apparently developed and put his mind into understanding the most important piece of information. Amelia was having a child. "Amelia sounds like she's in pain," he stated the obvious. "Shouldn't someone go help her?"
"Sylphiel is already with her, and Zelgadis too," Lina correctly concluded.
"And Filia too," Xellos added, causing Lina to give him an unsure look. "Why don't you join them," he encouraged, just to see Lina's reaction. "It's just men who are banned from going in there, with the exception of Zelgadis."
Lina gulped, what did she know about children? Nothing, absolutely nothing. "Okay..." she decided to be brave and marched into the cave chamber deeper in, which held the source of the pained voice.
xoxox xox xoxox
When Lina arrived, the birth was almost over. It had actually taken several hours starting before Sylphiel's arrival. Zelgadis had been in a panic, casting healing spells on Amelia and a confused Filia filled with emotions that a monster shouldn't have, could do little else than to follow his example and cast her own healing magic. How and why she knew such spells despite being a monster was still a mystery to her.
Driven by friendship, concern and sibling-like love, Lina hurried to Amelia's side. Sylphiel was directing the process and casting healing while playing the part of the midwife. Filia and Zelgadis were helping with the healing. "Lina?" Amelia was surprisingly the first one to notice the new arrival.
As soon as Sylphiel noticed Lina, she was quick to have her assist. It was something that she was going to ask Filia to help her with, but the monster looked pale enough as it was. Given the fact that she was an astral being, the state of shock must be deep for it to show subconsciously in her projected form. "Lina, come over here, the baby's almost out."
"You... you want me to help?" Lina frantically pointed at herself as if being accused of something fierce.
"Yes!" Sylphiel insisted. With wide eyes, Lina could only nod her head and rush to Sylphiel side. "Okay, aim your healing spells at the child, Filia and Zelgadis will take care of healing Amelia." A few more excruciating minutes later, the baby was finally completely out, but the way Sylphiel and Lina kept pouring all their healing magic into it was unnerving.
Amelia breathed deeply and finally allowed her sore body to relax. "I'm... I'm okay..." she gasped in exhaustion. Zelgadis, who was just about ready to collapse, ceased his constant healing spells and fell to his knees next to Amelia's bed. Her hand was grasping his and if it had not been part stone, she might have broken it with her strong grip. Then again, if he had not been a chimera, her pain and the risk to her health wouldn't have been so terrible. "The baby..." The Seyruun princess gasped with tears in her eyes.
Filia looked at Sylphiel and Lina, who kept persistently casting healing spells on the child that Sylphiel had wrapped in a white blanket. "Resurrection!" Sylphiel called out with clenched teeth and emerald eyes that were blurred by the rivers of tears streaming down her face. The spell never felt so ironically cruel. It couldn't resurrect, it could only heal one who was still alive, but this little one wasn't. "Resurrection!" Sylphiel called out again in frustration and sadness.
Lina realized it was futile and stopped pouring out her healing magic. With a solemn tear-filled face, she bravely took the small bundle from Sylphiel's arms, allowing the tired young nurse to lean on her shoulder for support. "I'm so sorry..." She whispered in a tone that was much more sorrowful, gentle and afraid that anything they had ever heard Lina say before. "So sorry..." she clenched her teeth in bitterness. This wasn't fair, Amelia and Zelgadis didn't deserve this, the little boy didn't deserve this. A golden light began to surround Lina and her body trembled with power. 'Why do you allow this to happen? What can it help? What can come out of this? No one wants to feel this; it'll just make them not want to feel at all,' she screamed in her mind.
"Lina, calm yourself!" The sudden voice started all those present, including Lina, who seemed to snap back into reality. There stood none other than Beast Master Zelas Metallium. Her pristine ivory dress was revealing, but not enough to lose its elegance as it accentuated her tan figure. Her eyes were silvery, as was her hair in this occasion. She approached Lina and looked into the human's pained eyes. "You were summoning her, without words, your feelings, your magic; your very being was calling her. It is not wise to summon the Lord of Nightmares just so that you may demand answers. It is what it is and no one can change it, not you and not even me."
Lina nodded and lowered her head, a vast deep sorrow invaded the room, a sorrow that strongly eradiated from all those present and even those who were waiting in the next chamber and not hearing a child's cries after Amelia's silence. "Would you have?" Zelgadis muttered under his breath, his voice cracked with sorrow, he didn't seem to notice that he was crying or that he was barely producing any sound as he spoke. He didn't want the mocking, cruel, monster lord there, especially not at that time.
"That is a secret," Zelas replied, though her smile was more so bittersweet than mocking. Zelgadis said nothing in reply and Zelas continued in a neutral tone. "Martina's little boy, whom she name Zoamelgustar, was filled with chaotic energy that she herself unknowingly summon to him. With a vast investment of healing magic and even chaotic energy, she was kept alive and lived through the birth to later achieve a full recovery with a magic prodigy as her child. Yet this time it was not a matter of energy, but of flesh. Such an inconvenience."
Sylphiel lifted her head from Lina's shoulder with a frown. "I'm sorry; I tried my best to create medicine that would simulate the nutrients that the non-human parts of the child would need, but... I failed."
"It's not your fault," Amelia chocked out. "Lina, please, even if he didn't make it, I want to see him."
Even if it made Amelia's heart break even more, Lina could not deny her that request. She approached with the motionless bundle in her arms and carefully gave the child's body to Amelia, as if it were a fragile living newborn.
Amelia cradled the baby in her arms. The hue of his skin was in some areas similar to Amelia's and in others similar to Zelgadis, fading smoothly from one color to another. The shadows of a few stones were visible beneath the flesh as if they would come out later. His eyes were closed and his ears were pointy. His little hair was the same color as Zelgadis, but with a very soft texture, like Amelia's hair.
"This is all my fault, because I'm a chimera." Zelgadis quietly blamed himself with infinite sorrow and bitterness. "I shouldn't have... I shouldn't... Amelia, I'm so sorry, you deserve so much better than this, so much better than me."
"Hush, Zel, don't say that." Amelia held the dead child in one arm and pulled Zelgadis closer to her with the other. "I was only unprepared, that's all. I still love you and I always will!" Yet nothing seemed to be enough to console Zelgadis.
As far as he knew, he had stolen the life of Amelia's firstborn, the life of his own child. He couldn't do this to her, he couldn't do this to her family, to her kingdom, he couldn't do this. 'A chimera doesn't belong with a princess, with a human.' Zelgadis thought bitterly that he should have never forgotten that truth. 'A chimera, a mixture of creatures that don't belong together, doesn't belong with anyone.'
To be Continued
This is a tragic story arc, but there will still be humor in future arcs so you don't need to worry about this turning into a completely sad story.