Categories > Anime/Manga > Slayers

Rain and Mist, Shadow and Storm

by BeccaStareyes 0 reviews

What seemed like a simple exorcism goes horribly wrong and Amelia finds another skeleton in the Seyruun family closet. (Slight Zel/Amelia)

Category: Slayers - Rating: PG - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Published: 2006-07-25 - Updated: 2006-07-26 - 4599 words - Complete

"Megido Flare!" Amelia turned back towards her friends. "That should hold things off until I get set up. Come on in, everyone. It's starting to rain."

Lina, Gourry and Zelgadis followed her into the decrepit castle. The air smelled stale and musty, and Lina's Lighting spell illuminated dozens of cobwebs and dust-covered tapestries. "So..." Lina said, looking around, "if this place is so valuable, why hasn't some exorcist from Seyruun cleared it out? It's only a ghost."

"It's a very powerful ghost, Miss Lina. If I didn't need Greyhill castle on short order, I would be waiting for the Temple of Ceipheed to give me a team of exorcists to back me up."

"'In short order'?" Zelgadis asked.

"Well, it's kind of complicated," Amelia explained. "I don't think you three want to hear much about Seyruun politics."

"Not especially," Lina said. "I don't know how you put up with all those old nobles."

Amelia shrugged. "A princess's job isn't all speeches about justice. Normally, Uncle Christopher handles things like that for Daddy, but I want to be able to do it for myself once Daddy abdicates. We're at the room now." She pushed open a rotting, oaken door carefully and entered.

It had once been a great hall. There was a dais on the end opposite the door they had come in. A pile of moldering wooden boards were the remains of trestle tables and benches from forgotten feasts. Amelia could hear water dripping into puddles in the corners. A flash of lightning lit up the dust stirred in the air as she walked to the center of the hall.

"Well, it's your show," Lina said. "You're the shrine maiden here. I'll just stand back and Dragon Slave anything that gets out of hand."

"Miss Lina!"

"Fine, fine... Elemekia Lance. Hey, Zel, Gourry. Did one of you bring a deck of cards?"

"Before you start, Mister Zelgadis, can I borrow your compass?"

"Sure," Zel took it out of his belt pouch and handed it to her.

After using the compass to orient herself, Amelia took out chalk and string and started drawing a magic circle. A more permanent means would have been better, but the Mist Ghost wouldn't give a cleric enough peace to construct one. Even a spell as powerful as Megido Flare was only enough to quell the restless spirit for a short while.

But, with luck, the strength of the custom spell she had worked up would make up for the lack of a permanent circle. She had spent the last couple of days crafting some low-level portable amplifiers. They were toys compared to Lina's Demon's Blood Talismans, being both weaker and designed only for exorcism spells, but they would do the job. She placed them now -- a disk of green glass in the north, dark shale in the east, light wood in the west, and copper in the south. With a thought, she cast a low-level spell -- one barely enough for a peaceful ghost, but enough to check alignment. The stones flared, as they were supposed to. Amelia stood up from her crouch.

"Hey, Amelia!" Lina spotted her. "How's it going?" The group had broken out their supplies and Amelia could see Gourry in the background making the World's Largest Sandwich. "Can you break for lunch?"

"I think so. The spell's set up. All I need to do is chant it."
"Best to do that on a full stomach then. Casting magic when hungry is no fun. Hey, Zel, make Amelia a sandwich. And, Gourry, don't hog all the cheese -- I haven't eaten any yet."

Zelgadis cut some extra bread from the loaf he had been holding. "How do you put up with her sometimes, Gourry?"

Gourry swallowed. "Lina and I always argue about food, Zel. You know that. If she let me eat it all, I'd be worried she was sick or something."

"Never mind. Here you go, Amelia."

"Thank you, Mister Zelgadis." Amelia sat down between Zelgadis and Lina, taking the sandwich he offered her. A roll of thunder caused her to jump.

"I really hope you get this ghost, Amelia." Lina commented between bites. "This castle is kind of dry. Drier than the woods, at least."

"The bridge we crossed on the way up has probably washed out as well," Zelgadis said. "The river was running high even before the storm."

"Are springs in Seyruun normally this wet, Amelia?" Gourry asked.

"Well, we've always had wet springs, but the last couple of years have been stormier than usual. There are some scholars in the capital that think the fall of the Barrier changed the weather patterns."

"People will blame anything on the Barrier's fall," Zelgadis commented. "If it's big and showy, it must be the source of everything. Like Lina, for example."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Lina stopped eating to glare at Zelgadis.

"Merely that you tend to get blamed for any event that happens within six months of you showing up in an area. How many times have you been chased down for things you didn't do?"

"Too damn many -- I'm beginning to lose track of where I'm the Heroic Bandit-Killer and where I'm the Enemy of All Who Live." Lina sighed, taking another sandwich that rivaled Gourry's in size. "Amelia, you never did tell us why this dump is so haunted."

"Well, it's kind of a long story, Miss Lina." Amelia swallowed her last bite of sandwich before continuing. "It started about the time of the War of the Demon's Fall. There were two kingdoms in the area at the time, Seylio and Ruene. The king of Ruene favored Lei Magus, but his son, Prince Brennus was in love with Aemil the Pure-hearted, the young queen of Seylio, who favored the Knight of Ceipheed. I'm named for her, actually -- Aemil is the old spelling of Amelia.

"So, anyway, the King didn't care much for his son's opinions on politics or love, so he betrothed him to Aemil's younger sister, the Princess Liv, the Mist Sorceress. She was the lady of Greyhill back then, and promised the king she would keep her sister's army out of the war." Amelia lowered her voice to a whisper. "Legend has it that she did this by cursing Prince Brennus to kill his beloved and lead Greyhill's armies for Lei Magus. But the curse backfired, killing Liv and sealing her spirit in the stones here."

Lina nodded. "Sounds like your standard ghost story."

"It's a very famous story in Seyruun, Miss Lina! If you are in town in a week or so, we're celebrating the millennial of the founding of the kingdom by Queen Aemil and King Brennus. I'm sure there will be performances and songs about the story all over the place."

"Not to mention the food," Lina grinned. "Wherever there's a holiday, there's local delicacies. Right, Gourry?"

Gourry nodded, his mouth full of sandwich.

"What about you, Mister Zelgadis?"

"You know me and crowds, Amelia. I have enough trouble dealing with normal Seyruun City. On a festival-"

The sounds of stones skittering across the floor interrupted him. Gourry stood up, drawing his sword. He sliced the air, blocking a pebble that had been aimed at Amelia's head.

"The spell effect's wearing off," Amelia noted. "I better start the permanent spell." She stood up, taking off her boots. The stones were cold and damp beneath her feet, but bare skin would improve the interface between spellcaster, spell, and circle.

Lina and Zelgadis also stood, taking positions opposite one another outside of the circle. "You probably would be better off with Sylphiel or Filia or one of those exorcists you were too impatient to wait for," Lina said, "but, if anything goes wrong, Zel and I have you covered, and Gourry can go get help."

"Right." His sword still drawn, Gourry took a position between the circle and the door.

"Miss Lina, Mister Zelgadis..." Amelia paused for a moment, framing her thoughts, then continued. "This is a very dangerous ghost. If any of you are in danger, you have my permission to use whatever means necessary to protect yourselves."

"So we are allowed to Dragon Slave the castle." Lina grinned. "Just kidding, Amelia. Go get 'em!"

Amelia took a deep breath and activated the talismans. She started canting the words of the spell.

After the first line, she felt something slam against the circle. /It's here/. She felt it tapping against her protections, first the inner ones that kept the ghost from attacking her, then the outer ones that would allow it to escape. The tapping grew most insistent as she completed the third line of the spell. /One more to go/. The form of a woman, clad in flowing robes and with an elaborate hairstyle that Amelia had last seen in old paintings, appeared, furiously gesturing and circling around her.

There was the sound of shattered glass and something exploded in the back of her head. She fell to her hands and knees. Distantly, she heard someone yell her name. The energies of the spell were spinning out of her control and it was all she could do to hold them up. Slowly, she turned to face behind, getting up. The ghost was advancing slowly towards her, a predatory look on its face. Behind that, she saw a downed Gourry, bleeding form a cut on his face. She looked again -- the glass talisman was gone. /That's what broke the spell -- the ghost must have moved it/.

The ghost grabbed her wrist. It felt like her hand was encased in ice. She tried to break the grip, but failed. "/Visfarank/!" She grabbed the energies in her failed exorcism and gathered them into her fist, striking the ghost. It screamed, a horrible, bone-chilling sound, and twisted her wrist.

Now it was her turn to scream as the bone snapped and pain lanced up her arm. She lost her balance, falling into the ghost. It felt like she was being dipped into ice water naked. Grey mist covered her eyes. she tried to cry out, to find out how her friends were fairing, but the mist poured into her nose and mouth, gagging her. It smelled like must and rot, and it was even colder on the inside.

She felt herself fall, but, at this point, she was too cold to stop it.


Zelgadis wasn't quite sure what happened. He saw the ghost throw something at Gourry, who deflected it, but staggered back, his free hand on his cheek. Motion out of the corner of his eye caused him to turn back to the circle. Amelia had fallen to her knees and the ghost was holding her wrist. "Can you get a clear shot?" he yelled at Lina.

"Not without hitting Amelia," she yelled back. "I'll try to attack it, while you hit it with a Rah Tilt. Hey, Jellyfish Brains? You hurt?"

"Just a scratch. A bit of the glass rock grazed me when I smashed it. I'm okay." Gourry straightened up.

Zelgadis saw the glow of the spell surrounding Amelia and the ghost collapse into an aura surrounding Amelia's fist. She struck the ghost, which recoiled, giving a keening cry, that caused the three of them to wince. Zelgadis had just uncovered his ears to hear a bone-crunching snap and Amelia's cry of pain as the ghost tanked on her trapped wrist.

"Lina -- change of plans! /Astral Vine/!" Zelgadis drew his sword and moved in. He really wished Gourry hadn't returned the Sword of Light -- the blade would be far more useful in close quarters than a spell.

He thought he would have to yell out some not-so-clever cliched dialogue, perhaps with a reference to the ghost's incorporeal nature hidden not-so-subtly in it, but the ghost noticed him without that particular embarrassment. However, instead of dropping Amelia or maneuvering her in front of it, it moved in closer. Zel swore. /It's trying to possess her/. Already a sword hit would probably hit Amelia as well as the ghost -- it was sinking into her and fading from sight.

"/Elemekia Lance/!" Lina's shot went wild, nearly hitting him. The ghost had half disappeared and was so close to Amelia, it looked as if she had been wrapped in mist. The only time Zelgadis had seen anything like that expression on her face was in the caves below Sairaag, watching Phibrizzo snuff her life force out like yesterday's campfire.

/No choice left. May she forgive me/. Zelgadis dropped his sword. Taking a step to the side, he brought his hands out in front of him, in a classic spellcasting pose, and aimed as far to the side as he dared. The blood was pounding in his ears and every breath he took seemed to last for hours. He heard Lina cry out a demand to stop, but he had already gathered the shamanic power for the spell. "/Rah Tilt/!"

The spell struck the spirit full-on, but hit Amelia as well. Two cries echoed up into the hall's rafters. Zelgadis felt his eyes water from the harmonics. Or perhaps it wasn't just the harmonics. His limbs feeling even heavier than normal, he numbly stepped forward to catch Amelia as she fell. Cradling her in his arms, he sunk to his knees.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Lina stormed over to him. "That was the Rah Tilt, you idiot! You know that an on-target shot of that could destroy the spirit of a person!"

"Is Amelia okay?" Gourry asked.

Zelgadis examined her. "She's breathing and her heart's beating." He noticed the talisman on her collar had clouded over. A closer look showed the stone had developed thousands of tiny flaws. The one on her wrist and belt were likewise cracked. He wanted to check the one she had given him, but it was stowed with their gear, and he really didn't want to move Amelia. He touched her face gently. It was as cold as ice. "Lina, give me your cloak. And make a fire, would you?"

"Don't you go giving me orders, Zel. You nearly killed her. Hell, you still could have -- we won't know until she wakes up. If she wakes up." Lina took off her cloak and spread it on the ground. "Set her down here. Gourry, get the camping supplies. Zel, you make the fire yourself."

Zelgadis carefully set Amelia down, taking off his own cloak to cover her. They had carried in some firewood when they had come to this accursed place, and he arranged it methodically into something that would burn well about five feet from where Amelia lay. He used a weakened Flare Arrow to light it. "How's she doing?" he asked.

Lina didn't answer. "She's doing the same, Zelgadis. Sorry," Gourry said.

Zelgadis sighed, moving away from the fire. How could I be so /stupid? /I might have killed one of the only people who doesn't think I'm a monster by trying to save her. Maybe I really am/ a cold-hearted creation of a mad sorcerer/. He paced across the dais. /Lina's still giving me looks she reserves for bandits and mazoku, and Gourry is obviously trying to give me pity I don't deserve. I should just leave/.

He turned to the door. Lina and Gourry didn't seem to notice he was leaving until he stepped in a puddle from the leaky ceiling. Then they both looked up.

"So what are you doing now, Zel? Running away?' Lina demanded.

"I'm not running away." The possibility was tempting, though. Running away meant not having to explain to Amelia what he had done, or trying to think of how to get Lina to forgive him, or Gourry to stop giving him those looks. Running away would be easy. But, if he did run, he would never be welcome around his friends again. "I'm... There's probably a priest or hedge witch or something in town. I know a bit about ghosts, but I'm no expert."

"Fine. You better come back, Zel, or I'm going to hunt you down and you'll be damn lucky if all I do is blast you with a fireball," Lina told him, ice in her voice. That unnerved Zelgadis even more than the threat itself -- a Lina who wasn't screaming was far scarier than one who was, if only because he knew what a screaming Lina would do.

Zelgadis unbuckled his sword belt and threw it to the ground. It clattered against the flagstones. He detached his belt pouch as well and threw it on top of the sword. "Even if you don't think I'll come back for Amelia, or Gourry or you, Lina, you know enough about me to know I'll return for my things." He turned around, heading for the door.

"Hey, Zelgadis!" Gourry yelled. "The thunder's died down, but the rain's still pretty heavy and the wind's picking up. The path's going to be slippery."

"I'll manage," Zel said curtly. "Being heavy helps."

"Don't you want your cloak back?"

"Amelia needs it more than me." He turned back towards the entrance, heading down the corridor to the rain outside.

"Zel! Your best bet is Brookton. Follow the river downstream. They have a decent-sized temple there." Lina's voice echoed down the corridor. Zelgadis turned to nod acknowledgment before heading into the night.


It was dark, and it was damp and she appeared to be naked. The first two weren't especially pleasant, but it was the third that really made Amelia nervous. Nudity in dreams usually meant whatever shields and protections the dreamer had were down. And, since the last thing she remembered was the ghost approaching her...

Well, this didn't bode well at all.

"/Lighting/!" The light spell she cast scattered off mist in the air. Amelia frowned. She could barely see anything outside the reach of her spread arms -- it was like looking through fog. She sighed and willed the light spell to intensify. It started to burn off the mist around her.

Something tried to grab her leg. She yelped, kicking out at it. "Hello, Princess of Seyruun." The ghost rose from the shadows behind a rock about a yard away from her. "It's been a long time since family came to call."

"Where are we?" Amelia demanded.

"Where else?" The ghost laughed. Amelia noticed she was solid here, though her feet floated a couple of inches above the misty floor. "We are inside your own mind, Your Highness. It seems Astral magic has an unusual reaction when one is being possessed. One I'm sure your spellcasting friend had not intended. The spell weakened both our spirits enough that you could not fight off my influence, but I could not take control of your body. So, here we remain until one of us weakens the other enough to establish dominance. How very interesting."

"All right, then." Amelia spread her hands. "Rah- hey!" Again she felt something grab her ankle. This time, concentration on her spell, she didn't have the chance to dodge it and was knocked off-balance.

The ghost chuckled. "I do have power over shadows and darkness, Princess. As long as you have that light, there will be shadows. And, should you put the light out, I've as good as won. It's only a matter of time, I suppose."

Amelia considered that. I need to get rid of the shadows/. she closed her eyes and readied a spell. "/Lighting/!" This spell wasn't like her first -- instead of a steady glow, it was a flash. "/Visfarank" She charged forward, towards the position the ghost had been, hearing a hiss of pain as the light spell went off.

She felt her fist connect, and she felt the ghost grab her, throwing her to the ground. The light spell went out as she lost concentration. "Damn fool brat of Aemil. Never knows when to quit." The ghost muttered. "Do you want to know an interesting fact, Princess? I never did betray Aemil, no matter what stories they tell. She killed /me/. I wouldn't help her join the war, the traitorous slime. Your kingdom is founded on the taint of fratricide, Princess, and I intend to put an end to the whole sordid affair. Now, how do you feel about that?"

Amelia's first reaction was a 'that can't be true' with a dose of 'you're lying' for good measure. She bit her tongue too stay silent. She's mad. All these centuries of being trapped here drove her mad. All she is is hate and revenge against someone who died centuries ago. She's obsessed with this -- if she was a good person once, she isn't any more.

That reminded her of something Zelgadis had once said about Rezo, back when they met in Sairaag, when he was telling her his story. Lina had said much the same thing, earlier, but... well, it had been hard for her to see that someone with as wonderful reputation as the Red Priest had done the things that Lina and Zelgadis had spoke of.

"Does it bother you to be related to someone you think is so horrible?" she had asked Zelgadis. It had been blunt and rude, but her social graces weren't very developed back then.

Zelgadis had looked cross, and she had been about to apologize when he spoke. "Of course it bothers me. But I'm not him -- why do you think I learned swordsmanship? I always wanted to make a name for myself outside of 'Rezo's grandson' or 'Rezo's chimera servant'. I don't think the Wanted posters Eris's lackeys put up were quite what I had in mind, but a bit of a reputation couldn't hurt."

Amelia smiled. Zelgadis always did have an interesting sense of humor. she stood up, still shaking, and stared into the darkness. "I'm not my ancestor, Princess Liv. She may have done some unjust things, and I wish I could make amends for them if she did. But nothing I do will really make you feel better, will it? Everyone involved has been dead for so long. You are going to have to move on too, and stop taking your anger out on innocent travelers."

There was no answer at first. Then, from all sides, Amelia heard the ghost start laughing. "Is that it? You give me some speech about being a good little girl and rolling over and expect me to go away? It seems the family's blood has weakened if you really think such simple words will work."

Amelia sighed. Well, there goes expecting her to see reason. She really is insane. "That wasn't a request -- it was a warning. Now I'm getting serious." If only she had a way to hit the ghost. Or even to see her without making shadows. It was so dark here, though -- even the cloudy, pale light she had produced at first would be better than this.

Cloudy! That's it!

"/Demona Crystal/!" Amelia didn't see the thousands of ice motes that crystallized out of the misty air, but she felt them hit her face. They swirls around in the air, wrapping around her like a robe. She quickly followed the spell up with a light spell.

As she had hoped, the light scattered off the crystals, looking like she was in a snowstorm of glitter. Best of all, the million points of light lit up all the shadows. The ghost shrank back, trying to get out of the reach of the light. Amelia spotted her by looking for a place where the light wasn't. Everything was so /bright/, like a sunny winter's day, but she didn't dare look away. She began to chant.

Source of all souls, which dwell in the eternal and the infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite -- Rah Tilt!

She saw the ghost consumed by the astral energies. Saying a brief blessing for the spirit of Princess Liv of Seylio, she closed her eyes against the blinding brightness.


The head of the temple was no help. Zelgadis had been told that either Amelia would wake up on her own, or the ghost would, in which case, there was probably nothing anyone, outside of experts in Seyruun City, could do but restrain her. He had been given a charm that would glow red in the presence of ghosts and a lecture on Not Using Astral Shamanism Near People and sent on his way.

Damn it! What was I supposed to do, hit her with my sword. It's not like I'm a priest who /knows any exorcism spells/. The worst part was he had a sinking feeling they were right. Which was why he had actually bothered to listen to the lecture.

He landed, splashing into puddles in the courtyard. The rain had been blocked by the Raywing spell, but it hit him as he sprinted the last few feet into the castle.

Lina and Gourry looked up as he entered the great hall. Amelia was apparently unchanged -- still lying there, as if in state. "They said there was nothing they could do," Zelgadis told them. "We should try to get her back to the capital when the rain stops."

He wasn't sure who noticed it first, but they all turned towards Amelia as she started to twitch her hands. The color had returned to her cheeks and she looked like she was merely waking up from a night's sleep. She sat up, opening her eyes. Zelgadis checked the charm -- it remained a placid green. He inwardly sighed with relief.

"Amelia! All you all right?" Lina asked, rushing to the girl's side.

Amelia nodded. "I'm a bit cold, Miss Lina. But I think I'll be fine How long was I out?"

"A couple of hours."

"I hope I didn't worry you too much. It was very reckless of me to try this without backup. I see that now."

"There's plenty of blame to spread around, Amelia -- the recklessness wasn't just you." Lina gave Zelgadis a pointed glare.

Amelia to also look at him, a wide-eyed expression on her face. "Mister Zelgadis? Did you try some Astral Shamanism trying to stop the ghost?"

Zelgadis looked at the floor and nodded. "Yeah. I did." He turned towards the door, seeing her disappointed look. She's probably furious at me now.

"Mister Zelgadis?" He turned back around, seeing what she had to say. Amelia smiled at him. "Thank you for following my instructions, even if they weren't very good. You were trying to be heroic and save me in your own way, weren't you?"

"I was being reckless, like Lina said. I should have seen the risks involved." There was no way she was forgiving him. She had to be secretly mad or upset at him, even a bit. No one, not even Amelia, was really that nice.

"You were in the middle of a fight. I know I've done some stupid things in fights. Now, sit down and dry off. Tomorrow will be a beautiful day to ride home in." She sat down by the fire and gestured for him to join her.

He wasn't sure if she was mad at him still or not, or if Lina would forgive him, or what Gourry thought of him now, or if sitting next to Amelia and starting some stew cooking was the right decision. He would just have to hope she was right and tomorrow would be a good day to do more than ride home in.


Author's Note

This was written for the Mediaminer Spring 2005 Quarterly Contest. I would like to thank my beta reader, Zanne Chaos.
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