Mercy, High Ones. Not justice, please, not justice. We would all be fools to pray for justice. -- Lupe dy Cazaril
"I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happened to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe." -- Marcus Cole
Amelia volunteered to go retrieve Mister Zelgadis and patch him up, after Miss Filia knocked him quite a distance with her mace. It was all a bit irritating, Amelia thought. Sure, Mister Zelgadis was being his usual difficult self, but there was no call to go pushing him around for it. If there was something interesting going on, other than wild speculation about the end of the world, they all would get right on it. As is, it was just a dragon priestess asking them to come visit her temple and knowing Miss Lina's sister, who was the one thing -- besides slugs, and hurting Mister Gourry -- that Miss Lina was truly afraid of.
MIster Zelgadis had found a clear spot to land. Unfortunately, it had been in a trash heap. When she got to him, he was busy untangling a bit of clothes line from himself.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
He gave her an irritated look. "I was sent at least fifty feet into the air, and landed face first. I'm lucky I didn't shatter any bones."
"Sorry I just thought..." Amelia paused, not sure how to say that she tended to think of Mister Zelgadis as nearly invulnerable against normal injuries because his skin was so tough. She knew he wouldn't want to hear that, since it would be a reminder that even his friends didn't see him as a normal human, even if he wasn't normal in the 'bleeds when hit by swords' sense.
Mister Zelgadis sighed. "I know, I know," he said. He tried to stand up, and Amelia offered her hand. "I'll just drag you down here."
"Actually I was going to cast a recovery spell," she replied, starting it.
After about five seconds, he stood up gingerly. "My head hurts."
"Miss FIlia did hit you pretty hard," Amelia said. "The spell should have cleared up any serious damage, though." She could have checked for a concussion, but his landing had left Mister Zelgadis smelling pretty bad. "Come on, Miss Lina and the others are waiting back in the inn room."
Mister Zelgadis had brought up his scarf to cover his mouth and nose, and had grabbed the hood of his cloak and pulled it over his head. There was a muffled splat and he made a face, reaching in to remove a squashed banana peel. "I am going to need a bath and a change of clothing after this." His shoes squished as he walked, and Amelia made a face. "At least something to clean up, even if it's a washcloth and a bucket."
"I'm sorry that happened to you," Amelia said quickly. "It was very unjust of Miss Filia to hit you like that, even if you were getting carried away."
Mister Zelgadis looked straight ahead, not saying anything. The crowd was keeping a good distance from him -- whether it was because he had just gone through town ransacking every temple, ruin and library, or if it was just the fact the heat was slowly making the smell bad enough that even Amelia didn't want to be walking by him, she couldn't tell. After all, one should never attribute to malice what could be explained by a really, really, bad smell. "Unjust, huh."
"Well, she didn't have to hit you that hard, certainly," Amelia said. "She didn't even try to talk to you first, and I totally had the situation under control."
Mister Zelgadis sighed. "Trust me, Amelia. If everyone in this town wasn't scared witless by me, I would have gotten a lot more bad attention than Filia's mace. Generally speaking, justice tends to frown on destruction of property."
Amelia nodded, frowning. Mister Zelgadis was confusing like that. She honestly thought he was a good person, even if sometimes he acted like a villain and had the whole brooding anti-hero thing going for him. He was a bit darker than Miss Lina, who just had the problem of forgetting exactly how powerful her magic was, and for thinking that Saillune could pick up her and Mister Gourry's bills. But he tended to get carried away when he was looking for his cure, like things that normally he would remember got forgotten. "Could it be considered extenuating circumstances."
Zelgadis shook his head, a jerky motion that caused his cloak to rustle and something to fall out. "Don't make excuses like that. I'm old enough to know what I'm doing, and I'm not crazy. There are no extenuating circumstances."
Amelia stopped walking. That wasn't like Mister Zelgadis, who never much cared for justice. At least not in words, though she sometimes wondered if a hero's heart was buried beneath his stony skin. Then again, sometimes she wondered if that was just a flight of fancy from someone who wanted all of her friends to be as passionate about justice as she was. "But... well, it was very unjust for you to be turned into a chimera against your will."
Mister Zelgadis nodded. "I'm not going to argue that. But... I used to think that the ends justified the means. That it didn't matter if I was running pretty much a glorified gang of thieves if it was to give things to a holy man."
Amelia looked at him, wondering if he meant Rezo, the Red Priest. Mister Zelgadis didn't speak much about his life before he was turned into a chimera. Or much about his past at all. Amelia sometimes wondered if he had a family, besides the one who did this to him, or a hometown, or what his childhood was like. Even Mister Gourry, who told his stories halfway through, then forget what happened next, would mention his family occasionally. "Then what happened?"
"Then I got stuck like this," he said. "In a just world, this never would have happened, or the spell would have been broken when Rezo unsealed Shabranigdo or Lina defeated him." He chuckled, but not in a particularly happy way. "Or maybe this is a just world, and this is my punishment for thinking that the ends justified the means. Isn't that a horrible idea -- that this world is completely just, and that we all deserve what we get?"
"I don't think it is at all," Amelia said, quickly. After all, there was plenty of unjust things in the world. Mister Zelgadis's chimeraism, which made him so unhappy. Watching Miss Lina suffer when Mister Gourry had been kidnapped by Hellmaster Phibrizzo. Her mother.
"That it's a just world, or that this curse is my punishment?" Mister Zelgadis asked.
Amelia bit her lip, trying to think about how to phrase what she was about to say. "Maybe the world is unjust, and it's up to us to make it just. Then what happened to you wouldn't necessarily be a punishment. It just... happened. And we'll find a way to set things right. For justice."
Mister Zelgadis didn't meet her eyes. "I don't know if I want justice. Justice had me chasing after Rezo like a madman for wronging me, and fat lot of good that did me. I'd settle for ending this suffering." He sighed, bowing his head to look at the ground. "My head still hurts."
Amelia didn't know what to say to that. She wanted to hug him and try to reassure him, but her words didn't seem to be working, but she didn't think Mister Zelgadis would appreciate it, and there was still the smell. So they walked in silence back to the inn, where Mister Zelgadis wandered off to wash up and she got some water to freeze for his headache and tell Miss Lina that they would be around once Mister Zelgadis changed his clothing.
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