The rain had returned to Wolfpack Island in a torrential downpour. As the dark sky loomed overhead, bringing with it the winds and the hail, there was a dark cloud looming over the residents of the mansion of the Greater Beast. While yesterday there had been sunshine and pleasant warmth, now there was nothing but cold and emptiness. And there was silence; bitter, aching silence. The rain continued to fall, seemingly with no end in sight.
This was how Filia felt. Looking outside, she saw not the rain but her daughter’s smiling face. Closing her eyes, she saw the same. Opening her eyes, looking at the darkened room where she sat alone, she saw nothing. Elisa was gone. Who knows what could happen to her? Filia knew that her daughter was in danger. Xelloss had finally told her the truth about Grausherra and the plan for Elisa. Now that Elisa was no longer in the safety of the island, she was in even more danger.
Filia felt as though she had been torn in two. All of these years she had been training Elisa simply because Xelloss had insisted that she needed to put her powers to good use. Filia had seen nothing wrong with teaching Elisa white magic, and as Elisa progressed, she had begun to wonder about Xelloss’ teachings of the black magic. His lessons had been getting more and more advanced, and Filia had wondered when Elisa would need to know that kind of skill if she was to remain on the island. Then Filia had found out the truth why Elisa had never been allowed to leave…
It was obvious now why Elisa had left; evidently she had overheard the conversation between her parents. Filia was afraid. Deathly afraid. Her daughter was headstrong, impulsive, and somewhat naďve. She knew nothing about the world. How would she survive out there all by herself?
Filia hugged her arms to her body, feeling chilled. She hated this feeling of terrible helplessness and loneliness. She hated not knowing what was happening to her baby girl. Whether she was alive or not…whether she was eating right. Most of all, when would she be coming back, if ever?
Xelloss appeared in the darkened room, then, the look on his face grim and slightly annoyed. Filia felt her heart constrict in her chest. “Tell me…she’s still alive…”
“She’s alive, and she’s fine for now,” he replied.
“Then why haven’t you brought her back?” another voice cut in as Zelas appeared in the room, looking somewhat annoyed.
Xelloss bowed to her. “Forgive me, Master. Elisa has met Lina Inverse.”
“Lina? She…” Filia stopped in mid-sentence as Xelloss gave her a meaningful look. She bit her lip, and held back her words.
“Go on, Xelloss,” Zelas said.
“Elisa left to find Lina Inverse, Master, so that Lina would help her improve her skills.” Xelloss waited for the outburst. He had been warned not to let Elisa know of the plan, and while he hadn’t done it intentionally, he knew that Zelas was quite angry with him.
“And what did Miss Inverse say to that?” Zelas asked, much to Xelloss’ surprise.
“She agreed, Master.”
Zelas smiled. “I see now. It is possible that she will teach Elisa the Ragna Blade, a skill that could be most helpful in Elisa’s situation.”
Xelloss nodded. “That is what I am hoping, Master.”
“Good thinking, Xelloss. And good thinking on Elisa’s part as well. Apparently she does take after you in some ways.”
Xelloss didn’t miss the flicker of annoyance from Filia’s direction. He grinned inwardly.
Zelas grinned, as well. It was so easy to ruffle that golden dragon’s scales. She took a long drag of her cigar, allowing the smoke to float in Filia’s direction. “Now, Xelloss, I hope you intend to watch her, to make sure by any means necessary that Grausherra does not capture her. It’s possible that he might not know she is missing from the island, but I highly doubt that. We can’t take any chances. If he shows up, hold him back as long as you can and make sure she gets out of there. Unless that happens, let neither Elisa nor Inverse know that you’re there. Understood?”
Filia jumped up. “What am I supposed to do?” she asked.
Zelas and Xelloss both regarded her with impatient looks. Zelas chuckled, and replied. “Why, tend your garden, Filia dear.”
Filia’s face grew red with fury, and Xelloss feared the worst. A fight between these two would not make his day any better. Filia was already on edge because of the fight the night before and now Elisa’s absence. A quarrel with the Beastmaster, who was also on edge, would only end tragically for Filia.
“You’re forbidding me to help my daughter?” Filia accused, her voice unnaturally low instead of high pitched, and steaming with rage. “How. Dare. You…”
Zelas’ eyes narrowed dangerously. “Is there something wrong, Filia dear? Do I understand correctly in that you are questioning my actions? Forgive me, but I don’t believe there is much you can do, if anything. A golden dragon cannot stand up to a dark lord. I’m sure you know that by now, even though it seems to me that that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.”
Xelloss stepped in between them, facing the Greater Beast. “She’s just upset, Master,” he said quickly, knowing that it was irritating Filia even more that he was interfering. He could feel Filia’s anger, hot and boiling over. He reached around behind him and placed his hand on her arm, gripping it forcefully, communicating to her without words that he wanted her to calm down, NOW.
Zelas watched him with amusement, feeling his fear of a disaster occurring between she and the golden dragon. She chuckled. “Xelloss, it’s quite alright. I’m fully aware that your little dragon is under a lot of strain, and I suppose she has a right to be. However, Filia must understand that I do not like the fact that Elisa is gone anymore than she does. If she wishes to make a fight of it, then she must have all of her facts in place before she jumps to conclusions. I will do what I can to ensure Elisa’s safety, and I will not tolerate interference. Grausherra would only destroy your little dragon in his path, which would only add more complications. Is this understood?”
Filia nodded, her shoulders slumped in defeat. Xelloss sighed and released her arm.
“Good,” Zelas said, taking a long puff of her cigar, and disappeared.
Xelloss waited a moment before turning around and seized Filia by the shoulders. “Are you insane?” he yelled. “Do you want to get killed?”
Filia wrenched free of his grasp and glared daggers at him. “Don’t call me insane just because I want to get my daughter back! I’ll do anything I can to make sure she’s safe, and don’t think I would mind dying in the process! I’d rather die than have my daughter a servant of a dark lord…or dead…” She buried her hands in her hair, pulling on the golden strands as if to wrench them out. “I…I can’t take this, Xelloss!” she cried, her eyes full of tears. “What if she…? What if I…never see her again? What if…oh Xelloss, I just want her back!” She collapsed to the floor in a sobbing heap.
Xelloss rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. There wasn’t much he could say to her to make her feel better. He couldn’t think of anything, and he knew that anything he would try to say would only make her feel worse. So, he knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her, holding her to his chest and letting her cry as much as she wanted. He knew he wouldn’t have much time to let her cry to him from now on.
If Elisa had been taken by surprise by anything else thus far, including ‘Uncle’ Jillas’ greeting and getting thrown in jail, she was about to meet the Queen of Seyruune. The overly social and vivacious little woman was quite unlike what Elisa had expected a queen to be, though she inwardly admitted that she’d never met royalty until now. She had only read about them in books.
No sooner had Lina Inverse finished introducing her to the King and Queen than Amelia was off of her throne in a flash and was tackling Elisa in a stronger embrace than anyone ever would have thought possible from the tiny woman. Tears of joy streamed down the Queen’s face as she gazed up at Elisa with nothing less than sheer awe and delight. Elisa had no idea what do or say. Was she supposed to bow? Kiss the queen’s hand?
“Miss Elisa, it’s so good to see you!” Amelia gushed, finally releasing the girl from her iron grip. “Why, the last time I saw you, you were just a baby!”
Elisa glanced at Lina questioningly before turning back to Amelia. “You mean, you knew my mother, too?”
“Of course,” the King said, coming to stand beside his wife. “We were all friends with Filia a long time ago.”
Elisa stared at the King curiously. She’d never seen anyone quite like him. Blue skin, seemingly made out of stone, with lavender, spiky hair. His eyes were kind, though she could see them becoming defensive as she stared at him, so she tried to smile reassuringly. She somehow remembered her mother mentioning a chimera that traveled with her group long ago. This man must have been him.
“You are Zelgadis, right?” Elisa asked. “My mother mentioned you. She also mentioned a Princess…would that be you, Queen Amelia?”
They both nodded, and before Amelia could ask any more questions, Elisa looked around and asked, “There was one more…a swordsman, that Mother mentioned. Where is he?”
Lina grinned and spoke up. “That must be Gourry. You’re coming home with me, so you’ll meet him later.”
Amelia led Elisa over to a chair. “Here, sit down. We have so many questions we’d like to ask you.”
The three of them sat down across from Elisa, who suddenly felt like she was being interrogated much like her mother did when she was in trouble. She looked down at her hands nervously.
“For starters, we’d like to know where you’ve been,” Lina asked. “I know you said you couldn’t tell us, but we’ve been in the dark all these years. How can we help you if we don’t know what’s going on and what we’re dealing with?”
Elisa sighed. Zelas-sama would be angry if she told, but she supposed it wouldn’t hurt telling them. They seemed trust-worthy. “Ok, I’ll tell you, but please don’t tell anyone. From what my parents have told me, and from what I just recently discovered, there was a dark lord that wanted me in his service. I think there was other danger but I don’t know what it was…anyway, my father brought my mother and me to his island, where his master lives. Zelas-sama.”
All eyes were bulging out of their sockets as they gaped at Elisa. “You mean you’ve been on Wolfpack Island this entire time? And Filia, too?”
“Yes. It’s been my home all this time. It’s really quite nice. Rainy, but nice.”
“So why did you leave?” Zelgadis asked.
Elisa sighed and looked away. “Because I couldn’t stay there any longer. Apparently they decided that when I turn sixteen, I was to fight this particular dark lord in order to win my freedom…and my life. I no longer felt safe there; because they had deceived me. All this time I never took my training seriously because I never knew that one day I would have to fight for my life against someone I probably wouldn’t be able to defeat. I know that they were trying to help me because they love me, but I know I won’t be ready. I’m not strong enough to defeat someone as powerful as a dark lord. Even a teleportation spell exhausts me. So that’s why I left, to find you, Lina, because my mother had told me about how powerful you are.”
Lina shook her head woefully. “And I agreed to help her,” she mumbled.
Zelgadis regarded Elisa thoughtfully. “You know, Lina, this could be a good opportunity to learn more about magic fusion.”
“What do you mean, ‘magic fusion’?” Elisa asked, confused.
“Well,” Lina began, following Zelgadis’ line of thought. “During the battle with Darkstar, your parents combined their magic to help defeat him. White and black magic combined makes for some interesting results. Very powerful results. You are the personification of that fusion, so your powers have to be incredible. I’d wager that you haven’t tapped into that power yet.”
“Tap into my power? Wouldn’t I know how powerful I am?”
“Not necessarily,” Lina continued. “There are probably a million things you could do with white and black magic spells combined. And there are probably a lot of higher-power spells you could do without worrying about draining your power. The only problem is as you said; you never took your training seriously.
Elisa felt her mind reeling. “Magic fusion? This will help me cast spells powerful enough to defeat a dark lord?”
“It’s possible,” Lina mused. “There’s also the Ragna Blade. I bet you could cast that spell without the use of talismans.”
“Miss Lina,” Amelia argued. “How are you so sure? If her powers aren’t at their fullest, how could she cast it now?”
Lina smiled. “The Ragna Blade calls upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares. In a sense, the Lord of Nightmares is neither black nor white and both at the same time, and is the most powerful being in the universe. Harnessing that power is very difficult, even with the use of the talismans. However, because Elisa’s power is neither black nor white and both at the same time, and she’s not a human who very rarely has inborn magic skills, she already has the black and white magic fusion within her. Thus making her even more powerful than probably any of us realize.”
Elisa listened carefully; soaking up all that Lina was saying and trying her best to register the information in her mind. Power. She was powerful. She could call upon the Lord of Nightmares. She had heard many times that her powers were improving, but never had her parents called her very powerful. Had they even taken her training seriously? Now that she thought about it, most of her training had been taken up by Filia and Xelloss arguing over what to teach her, which she now resented.
How was she to improve her skills if she didn’t even know how? She felt lost…and thrilled at the same time. To be able to call upon the Lord of Nightmares was something she had not even imagined. Unfortunately, it was that power that had attracted the dark Lord Grausherra. She was afraid of him. And she was afraid of her power. Perhaps that was one reason she had never taken her training seriously.
Ever since she was a child, she had felt something inside of her; a restlessness that seemed to grow each day. It wasn’t just a feeling…it was much like a presence in a way. Somehow, for some reason, she had tried to hold it back. Always, even during training with her parents, she had always felt the unconscious need to hold back. Never let everything go. Never let that which was within her reach its full potential. She had never known why, and now she wondered if she had made a dreadful mistake.
“I’ve got another question,” Zelgadis spoke up, taking advantage of the silence. “If you are both dragon and Mazoku, what kind of forms do you take? Do you take both forms?”
Elisa shook her head. This was another issue that had only come up once or twice with her parents. It had never been fully examined. “I do have somewhat of a dragon form. I can sprout wings and a tail, and my ears get pointy. I don’t transform very often, if at all, because it’s very painful.”
“Why is it painful?” Amelia asked. “Shouldn’t it be natural?”
“I think I understand why,” Zelgadis cut in, seeing the uncertain look on Elisa’s face. “Both Filia and Xelloss have human forms, but those aren’t their natural forms. Somehow, Elisa was given a natural human form, and with dragon and Mazoku blood that’s probably why the transformations are painful. Filia had been melting into her original form when she took on the form of a dragon. Elisa is in her original form.”
“That’s odd,” Amelia said thoughtfully. “It’s still a mystery to me how she was created in the first place.”
Lina blushed. “Let’s NOT go there, Amelia…”
The door to the chamber opened, and a servant stepped into the room. “Beg your pardon, Highness. He’s awake now.”
Amelia rose from her chair. “That’s my cue. It was so nice to meet you again, Miss Elisa,” she gushed, hugging her once more. “I’ve got to go see to my son now. Come again soon!” She said her goodbyes to Lina, kissed her husband, and rushed out the door.
“Son?” Elisa questioned. “You have a son?”
Zelgadis smiled softly. “Yes, a son and a daughter. Gracia is six, and our son Alec is five months old.”
Elisa stared at him in awe. She had never seen any other children besides a few portraits of herself painted by Zelas-sama.
“I’d love to see them,” she said sincerely.
“Perhaps the next time you come,” Zelgadis replied, and rose to his feet. “Until then, goodbye. I’ve got some things I need to see to.”
Lina stood to her feet. “Well then, time to go, Elisa.”
“How many children do you have, Lina?” Elisa asked as they exited the city and walked over the countryside. She could see the blinking lights of a small house in the distance.
“Just one,” Lina replied. “And he’s not really a kid anymore. He’s just about your age.”
“I see…” Elisa said slowly. She suddenly felt nervous; she’d never met anyone her age, either. What would he be like? Would he think her strange because of what she was? Lina hadn’t thought her strange. And she had never been anyone else’s houseguest. She had no idea what to do or how to act. She felt as though Lina were someone she could trust. However, she didn’t want to make a nuisance of herself.
“Um…are you sure that I’m not being a burden on you?” she asked.
Lina glanced at her. “Why do you say that?”
Elisa fumbled with the hem of her shirt nervously. “Well…it’s just that…I never thought about you having a family of your own and, well…I don’t mean to impose on you…”
Lina laughed. “Geez, you sound nothing like either of your parents. Are you sure they didn’t adopt you?”
Elisa blinked. “What does ‘adopt’ mean?”
When they arrived, Lina opened the door and yelled, “I’m home!” At that instant, a tall blonde man with dirty clothes and an equally dirty face came strolling into the kitchen. Elisa was at a loss for words; he was extremely handsome, and had the most kind and gentle eyes she’d ever seen. He welcomed Lina by bending down and giving her a soft kiss. She undid her cape and handed it to him, after which he hung it neatly on a coat rack. He then stopped and stared at Elisa, noticing her for the first time.
“Well, who’s this?”
Lina sighed as she sat down in a chair at the table, leaning back and relaxing. “This, Gourry, is Elisa. Elisa, this is Gourry.”
He extended his hand to her. “Hello, there. You look awfully familiar…” He scratched his head. “Where have I seen you before?”
“She’s Filia’s daughter, Gourry. Can’t you see the resemblance?”
“Filia?” He rubbed his chin. “Oh yeah! The girl with a tail. This is her daughter?”
Elisa took his hand and shook it. “Yes, Filia is my mother.”
Gourry smiled. “Well, nice to meet you. You’ll be staying awhile?”
“Yeah, she’ll be staying with us, Gourry,” Lina answered for her. “Why don’t you bring down some blankets from the attic? She can crash on the couch.”
“All right, Lina.” He started to walk out of the room when Lina stopped him again.
“Hey Gourry, where’s Vashon?”
“He went fishing for supper. He should be back soon.”
Lina licked her lips and rubbed her stomach. “Mmmm…sounds good.”
Elisa sat down at the table, feeling extremely out of place and quite tired. “Vashon?” she questioned.
“My boy,” Lina replied. “He’s an interesting kid. Takes after me a lot, which is a good thing.” She winked. “Gourry’s a bit on the slow side. He’s nice to have around, though. They both are.”
Elisa cleared her throat. “I’ve never…met anyone my age…”
“Really? Well, you’re in for a real treat. He’s an active kid, so if you don’t mind him dragging you around a lot, you’ll be fine. Oh, and don’t mind him if he’s a little overbearing at first…” Lina trailed off as she watched Elisa stifle a yawn. She could see that the girl was extremely tired. It was no wonder, with the kind of day she’d had.
About that time, Gourry came back into the room and smiled cheerfully. “I put those blankets on the sofa,” he announced.
“Why don’t you get some sleep, Elisa?” Lina suggested.
The girl nodded and dragged herself off of the chair. “I think I will,” she mumbled. “Thank you, Lina.”
The sorceress smiled. “No problem.”
She and Gourry watched as Elisa stumbled off into the next room, then Gourry turned to Lina with a confused look on his face. “Lina…what’s wrong with her eyes? There was something weird about them.”
“She’s half-Mazoku, Gourry,” Lina replied. “Remember Xelloss? He’s her father.”
Gourry scratched his head. “Xelloss? I thought you said Filia was her mother.”
“Filia is her mother.”
Gourry thought another moment, and then shook his head. “No, that’s gotta be wrong. They hated each other!”
Lina was amazed at Gourry’s memory. Normally he didn’t remember this much, especially THAT far back. “Wow, Gourry, that’s pretty good. Anyway, evidently they didn’t hate each other as much as we thought…”
“I guess not. Well, it’s nice to have her here, anyway. She seems like a nice girl.”
Lina nodded. “Yeah, she does. Almost too nice.”
Nice little filler chapter, there. Sets some things up for the next chapter, which will be the start of Elisa's training with Lina. What will happen? o_O