There was one true thing about Lina and Gourry. They stuck by each other no matter what.
Notes: This story is set at the end of vol. 5 and the beginning of vol. 6 in the manga series "Slayers: Knight of Aqualord." It recaps the events that take place during volume 5. The two main characters referred to here are Oren, a young priestess helping Lina and her friends reach the Tower of Wind, and Shizuri, an illusionist who accompanies Lina's party (which is Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Lyos, the Knight of Aqualord) so they can obtain a new power for Lina. 95 percent of the spoken dialogue comes from the manga.
Story #10: "One True Thing"
Amelia felt like she was floating. She wasn't suppose to be feeling this way, not at this particular moment in time. But she couldn't help it. She kept replaying the events from the past two hours in her mind over and over, growing more giddy each time she hit the climax of those moments.
Lina blew apart the monster that was about to kill Oren. Oren stood, hands clasped over her mouth as everything started to sink in. This really was evil. The strange sorceress from far away was right.
Before she could process it any further, Lina whirled around. "Everyone! Get inside that building!" she yelled, pointing to the temple, and took off running.
Gourry was on her heels. "Lina, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," she yelled over her shoulder. "The Mazoku won't go in that building."
He got the message and sped ahead to make sure there was nothing inside. Shizuri, Amelia and Oren followed. Lina was nearly to the doorway when she heard a loud explosion behind her. Something slammed into her back and she flew into the building, propelled by the blast. She landed hard on her shoulder as pain lanced through her back.
Lina struggled to get up. She gritted her teeth, willing herself to work past the pain. Before she could manage it, a pair of strong hands grasped hold of her and turned her face up. She found herself staring into Gourry's pale, anxious face as he supported her upper body in his lap.
Gourry ran his hand down her back and quickly drew it away, eyes widening when he saw that both his glove and hand was saturated with her blood.
Amelia sucked in a quick breath when he held it up. "Lina-san!" she cried.
Lina tried her best to give them a thumbs up sign. The best she could come up with was a wave and a wink. "I'm...I'm okay," she rasped. "It's nothing."
"It's not just nothing," Amelia retorted as she knelt by Lina's other side. "Resurrection!"
Amelia fought back her panic as she channeled her spell into Lina's body. She tried not to notice Gourry's shaking hands or his eyes growing bright with unshed tears. She did her best to hold back her own. Would it be enough?
Amelia startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder. "May I intrude, please?" Oren asked in a quiet voice.
Amelia almost shouted a denial, but Lina was already looking stronger. Gourry's grip on her tightened as he helped her to sit up so they could hear what Oren had to say.
Oren revealed to the group that she could use the power of the gods to heal Lina's wounds and that both she and her twin, Fanan, were shrine maidens who served the gods. When she was done, Lina glanced at both Gourry and Amelia. They were her oldest friends. They would understand. She nodded her ascent to them.
Amelia got to her feet and placed her hand on Gourry's shoulder. Without saying a word, he gently placed Lina back on the ground, his hand lingering on top of her head. Then they retreated to a safe distance and put their trust in Oren.
It hadn't been misplaced. Oren cured Lina, but lost much of her own strength in the process. Oren told them about the Tower of Wind and how she realized now that the war between the humans and the Mazoku was coming. Oren told them that she believed she could place their faith in them and would send them to the Tower of Wind.
Before they could leave, a man from Oren's village had come running into the building, telling them of an impending attack.
Oren's face paled as she listened. Then she turned away from them. "I can't go back to the village," she whispered.
"Oren!" Lina gasped with the villagers crying out as well.
"Right now, my duty is to take Lina-san and her friends to the Tower of Wind," Oren explained, unable to meet the shocked looks on her peers' faces. "They have the power to prevent the war between the Mazoku and the humans."
Oren... A lump formed in Lina's throat as Oren explained her duties and the sacrifice she had to make in order to send them to the Tower. It was a brutal choice - saving her people versus saving the world. Guilt welled up inside her at the decision she was forcing Oren to make by her showing up here. She glanced over at Shizuri and Amelia. Shizuri, who was in service to a priest of Aqualord and Amelia, one of the crown princesses of Saillune. They knew what Oren was struggling with.
"Wait just a minute," said a voice from the back of the group. "I'm going to return to the village."
They all pivoted and gawked at the calm swordsman who stood smiling at the group, one hand resting on his thigh guard.
"Gourry?" Lina gawked.
"I won't be of much use when you go to that Tower of Wind," he explained. "But I can help out with fighting monsters back there, can't I?"
Amelia's eyes widened as Shizuri immediately volunteered to defend the village as well. Gourry was right. It was useless for them all to go when Lina was really the only one who needed, or who would be able to handle, the power. "Of course," she exclaimed. "I'm going too. Justice demands that I go save the village from monsters as well."
Lina beamed at her. "Amelia!"
Oren clasped her hands together as it sunk in. This sorceress...her friends were willing to put their lives on the line to save her village. She blinked and was stunned to find tears rolling down her cheeks. She clasped her hands to her mouth, trying to hold back her sobs.
It didn't work. "Tha...," she tried, then took a deep breath. "Thank you so very much!"
Amelia and Shizuri moved toward Oren. Amelia patted her back and was about to whisper some words of comfort when she heard Gourry say Lina's name. She glanced up in time to see the swordsman walking over to Lina.
The calm, happy expression was replaced with worry. "I'm sorry I can't go to that Tower with you," he said in a serious tone. "As your guardian, I'm suppose to remain by your side and protect you, but I can't this time."
Amelia clasped a hand over her mouth and shot a look at Shizuri. She was giving the couple a knowing smile and winked back at Amelia.
Lina blushed, but was a bit annoyed as well. This was a classic guilt trip for Gourry if there ever was one. Why on earth would he even begin to think that she would believe he abandoned her because he chose to stay behind? It was a brave, noble thing he was doing. "What do you think you're..."
"When you obtain the god's power," Gourry interrupted, placing his hands on Lina's shoulders. "Please come back safely. I'll be waiting for you in the village."
The blush on Lina's face deepened. She opened her mouth, but could barely make a sound.
Amelia was speechless as well.
Shizuri grinned wickedly.
He gently squeezed her shoulders. "Don't be rash," he advised.
Gourry... Lina stepped closer to him, allowing him to draw her into a hug and let his warmth push back everything for a few moments. Suddenly, there was nothing more she wanted to do but to stay here like this. She gripped his forearm tightly as the warmth left her feeling both a bit breathless and powerful. Is this...are we really falling...
Before she could consider it any further, she drew away from him. Their eyes met and held. They knew what she had to do.
"Did you feel something just now?"
Gourry's voice shook Amelia out of her thoughts and she scanned the building. "No, not a thing," she replied.
He frowned. "It must be my imagination." Lina...please be safe!
Then all hell broke loose.
Much later, they had their gaze locked on the sky as bright flashes of light darted around. Amelia shielded her eyes and said every quick prayer she could think of.
"Lina-san's not using the god's power against the Mazoku," she commented to Gourry. "I know she doesn't want to hurt Lyos-san, but what more can she do?"
"It's not just that," he replied. "I'm not surprised she's hesitating at using the god's power with Lyos up there, but I'm guessing there's another reason. You know the god's power is extremely powerful, even if just one person uses it. If she uses it, she'll destroy everything around her and we're near the battlefield. That's why Lina won't use it."
Amelia lowered her hand and gave Gourry an appraising look. Wouldn't Zelgadiss-san be amused, she thought as he seriously watched the battle. In many ways, it was a very un-Gourry-like thing for him to say. Most magical discussions went over his head. But he was also a brilliant tactician. If he was approaching this the way that a soldier would approach using a weapon, then that's how he got it.
But there's more than that, Amelia realized, remembering past fights when Lina and Gourry seemed to read each other's minds. Pride and joy mixed with a bit of jealously. She wanted to have a connection that deeply with someone.
She turned her focus back to the battle. "I hope she'll be okay."
"I know she'll be," Gourry said confidently. He grinned at Amelia. "There's one true thing about Lina. When she promises to come back, she'll come back, no matter what."
That's because she has you to come back to. Amelia smiled warmly and took a step closer to him. "There's one other true thing as well," she mummered just loud enough for him to hear. "You two love each other."
Gourry went red, but didn't say a word. But Amelia swore she saw a slight nod in response.