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ULTIMATUM! Kronos' Deal With Zelgadis


(Note: This story is based upon an episode of Highlander. Most of this is from that ep.)
Zelgadis is forced to choose between love and friends, and his 'brothers' of days past, who are perhaps best forgotten.

Hiya, folks, it’s Lina again! Man, things have been so confusing for the past few weeks, it’s not even funny! We found out that Jamar has moved on to Seyruun, and we found THAT out from my older sister Kioko. That was all while we were trying to get used to Zoey, Zelgadis’s twin sister. Both of them left, though.

After that, we found out that Nepha was really a princess! Zelgadis was upset at first, but we ended up running into Zoey again and she got Zelgadis back on the right track, even though she wasn’t too hot about the idea of Zelgadis being in love with a half-Felinic princess.

Now, we’re almost to a town called Utopia, and Zelgadis seems to be really nervous about this. I wonder what’s up with him. . .


ULTIMATUM! Kronos’ Deal With Zelgadis

“Utopia?” Gourry read. “Is this the next town on the map?”

Princess Nepha of Feli read the map again.

“Yep,” she said. “This is it.”

Lina Inverse glanced at Zelgadis Graywords as he pulled the hood over his head and the mask over his mouth and nose. He looked very nervous, his eyes scared.

“Okay,” he sighed. “Let’s go.”

*****

Inside the town, Zelgadis seemed to get a little more nervous. Finally, they arrived at the inn.

“Uh, guys, I think I’m going to. . .” Zelgadis started, but he was interrupted as an elderly woman walked up to them.

She walked around them for a moment, examining each of them in turn. Her eyes stopped on Zelgadis. Though the features of his face were hidden by his hair falling into his eyes, the mask, and hood, she seemed to sense that there was something greatly different about him. She looked at Lina.

“Greetings, friends. My name is Marien of Utopia,” said the woman. “Are you all passing through here?”

“Yes, we are,” answered Lina. “We’re on our way to Seyruun.”

“Seyruun, is it?” asked Marien. “That’s quite a long way from here.” She shook her head a bit. “Would you mind if I asked your names?”

“Well, I’m Lina Inverse,” Lina stated, pointing at herself. She pointed at everyone else in turn, starting with Gourry. “He’s Gourry Gabriev, the half-Felinic is Princess Nepha of Feli, and he’s Zel. . .”

“You know, guys, it’s getting late,” stated Zelgadis suddenly, speaking up for the first time since Marien had approached. “We should go get our rooms at the inn.”

Nepha playfully smacked Zelgadis’s shoulder.

“That was rude!” she said.

“Well, we DO,” Zelgadis restated.

“I believe that the young man is right,” interjected Marien, eyeing Zelgadis carefully. “You should get your rooms in the inn.”

Nepha smiled a little.

“Maybe would could talk elsewhere?” she asked.

“Why not at my home, the small white building down the road from the inn?” said Marien. “You really can’t miss it. It’s the only one with a red roof. Later on tonight, perhaps?”

“Okay,” Lina said. “We’ll see you tonight then.”

Marien walked away as Zelgadis let out a deep, inaudible sigh. Nepha’s ear turned towards him. She had caught the sound, but thought he was just tired. After all, they had been walking for a while.

*****

About an hour later, after everyone was settled into their rooms, the group was standing just outside the inn.

“Ready?” asked Lina.

“Guys, I’m going to take a walk,” Zelgadis stated. “I really don’t feel like being around too many people tonight.”

“C’mon, it’s just a nice lady, maybe with some of her family,” Gourry shrugged. “Why don’t you come with us?”

“I’d rather not,” sighed Zelgadis. “You all go ahead.”

Nepha took his hand and smiled at him a little.

“Come on, my love. It won’t be for long. Then we can come back to the inn and relax,” she said. “Besides, this is a peaceful town. They allow all different species and races here. What reason should they have to fear a chimera?”

Zelgadis pulled his hand away.

“I’ll see you all at the inn later tonight,” he said. Quickly, he waved his hand and turned to walk away. “See ya.”

*****

Later, Zelgadis was aimlessly walking through the woods. It was then he heard the ever slightest sound, one a normal human never would’ve heard, and turned slowly.

“Nepha?” he questioned softly, hoping that it was her cat-like instincts allowing her to approach slowly and without detection. He finished turning. “Is that you?”

At that point, he was hit by Flare Arrow in the dead center of his chest and pushed back into a tree. He stared at the flaming arrow for a moment, utterly shocked. The spell had pierced, black magic had been used. He looked up as another chimera approached, grabbing the cloak just above where the spell had hit. He smiled a little, evily.

“Greetings, brother,” he said.

“Kronos. . .” Zelgadis uttered hoarsely.

“I’ve missed you, too,” Kronos stated.

Zelgadis groaned slightly and started to slide down the tree. Kronos let his hand follow him down, until he finally let go. He smiled a little down at him. The chimera was completely unconscious. Kronos knew that using an offensive spell with his black magic would take Zelgadis down easily. It contradicted shamanistic magic like poison. So far, he was winning.

*****

In the meanwhile, as Marien seated them, she looked around at the group, noticing that one was missing.

“Where’s the quiet boy?” she questioned. “The one who didn’t speak much.”

“Oh, you mean Zelgadis,” Nepha stated. As she was speaking the chimera’s name, a young woman of about the age of 24 walked through the door.

“Who?” she asked.

All eyes turned to the young half-Vulpine in the doorway.

“Oh, this is my first granddaughter, Jezell,” Marien stated, walking up to the girl.

Gourry watched Jezell for a minute.

“He decided not to come,” he stated.

“Marien, I wanted to know. . .where’s your second granddaughter?” asked Lina.

“Well, I suppose I’ll start from the beginning,” Marien sighed. “Three years ago, our village was attacked by a group of demonic creatures. One, I recall, was named Kronos.”

“The LEADER was Kronos,” growled Jezell.

Marien sighed.

“She’s been hunting Kronos. He’s the leader of a group of nomadic outcast chimeras who at one time worked for the Red Priest.” She sighed again as the others exchanged glances. “Well, continuing. Never had I seen a town so terrified. My daughter had recently given birth to a new baby girl. I managed to get Jezell and her sister Cammi out, but my daughter and new grandchild were not so lucky. The townfolk, along with my two grandchildren and I, feld the village. When we returned, we found the whole place in cinders and ashes. My daughter and infant granddaughter were among the lost. Rumor has it that one of the demons was searching for the magic amplifier known as the Philosopher’s Stone, but it’s unsure if that’s the reason. Since then, my granddaughter Cammi has been searching for that creature. She’s been gone for two years.” There was a knock at the door. When Marien opened the door, there stood a young half-Vulpine. “Cammi! You’re home!”

*****

Later on, back at the inn, Lina and Nepha stood quietly inside Nepha’s room. The dim light of the candle did nothing to dampen the eerie mood, and there was a serious contradiction of attitude. Lina was angry, while Nepha looked greatly upset and hurt. The half-Felinic’s long white tail was curled around her ankles, her ears were laid back.

“You don’t actually believe her, do you?” Nepha asked softly. “I mean, this is Zelgadis we’re talking about, right?”

“I never did trust him, anyway,” Lina grumbled, pacing, a little angry.

“You can’t possibly believe her!” cried Nepha, her ears flattening even tighter and her tail swishing. “He’s the one guy I know that NEVER looks for a fight! PLUS, I never heard his name mentioned! She said Kronos and chimeras, it doesn’t necessarily mean him.”

“Well, why do you think he didn’t come?” Lina bit out.

“Well, he never really liked to meet new people,” Nepha tried to press. “He’s always afraid of what they’ll think of him.” Lina turned to walk out, but Nepha’s voice stopped her in her tracks. “This is three years we’re talking about, right? Someone lives with thoughts of revolution that long, it becomes an obsession. Maybe she’s dillusional.”

“She may be old, but I don’t think she’s that stupid,” Lina replied, looking back at the princess.

“Lina, maybe she’s a liar. I mean, what do we really know about this woman?” Nepha cried.

“What do WE know about Zelgadis?” Lina snapped back.

“Can you imagine him, murdering women and children for pleasure?” Nepha said, as if mentally smacking Lina on the back of the head.

“Yeah,” Lina replied.

“Lina. . .” Nepha scolded.

Lina sighed and spoke softly. “No.”

“No,” Nepha repeated, as if agreeing. She sighed. “Sometimes, all you’ve gotta go with is your instinct. If I were you, I’d listen to it.”

*****

As Zelgadis started to wake up, he noticed that he was no longer in the woods, but inside a large storage house. He was lying on his back, drawing his breath in painful gasps, lying on a large wooden table that raised about two feet off the ground.

At that point, Kronos entered, walking over to the table and looking down at Zelgadis.

“It’s been a long time,” he said. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I left my heart in San Francisco,” Zelgadis breathed out painfully, and yet sarcastically.

> Kronos laughed a little.

“I didn’t know you had a heart!” he chuckled. “Does it hurt?”

“What do YOU think?!” Zelgadis snapped angrily.

He started to turn onto to his right side slowly. Kronos knelt.

“Since you asked,” he began, putting his hand on Zelgadis’s left shoulder and pushing just strong enough to get the still weak chimera to lay on his back again, “I think you’re not used to pain, brother.” He laughed a little. “What’s happened, you gone soft?”

“I just passed through my angry adolecence a little quicker than you, Kronos,” Zelgadis bit out hatefully.

Kronos moved his hand and Zelgadis started to roll back to his right side.

“For a long time, I thought you were dead. I didn’t even bother looking for you. But then I heard rumors. Zelgadis, chosen Prince of Feli. You slipped up there, old friend. You got sloppy.”

Zelgadis was now sitting up, his feet hanging over the side of the platform, his hands holding onto the edge, still a little weak and fighting to breathe.

“Well, none of us are perfect,” Zelgadis said.

“I shouldn’t be surprised you’re still alive. You were always the one I counted on. You weren’t always the strongest of the toughest, but you were the survivor,” Kronos stated. He laughed again. “It’s what you do best.” His smile faded. Kronos leaned over and spoke into Zelgadis’s ear bitterly. “Or, did.”

Zelgadis straigtened up.

“So, you’ve come to kill me,” Zelgadis said solemnly, emotionless, almost as if realizing the fact.

Kronos sat down beside him, smiling a little.

“That’s what I do best,” he stated. He hopped off the platform and turned to face Zelgadis, two or three steps between the two. “But you do have a choice.”

Zelgadis’s eyebrows (or the stone scales that justify as such) raised a little.

“Oh, I’m one for choices,” he mentioned.

“Good. You could either die,” he paused to let it sink in, “or you could join me.”

Zelgadis sat thinking for a moment.

“Well, since you put it that way. . .” he said quietly. “Welcome back, brother.”

*****

Zelgadis walked into the inn, hood up and mask covering his nose and mouth. Gourry was just walking away from the desk, and the clerk had gone into the back. Gourry looked up and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Zel, glad to see you’re all right,” he said.

“Yeah, thanks,” Zelgadis sighed. He swallowed hard as he spoke again. “Look, Gourry, something unexpected has come up--”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” stated Gourry. “Look, have you heard of a chimera named Kronos?”

Zelgadis froze.

“Kronos?” he questioned nervously.

At that point, Jezell walked in, the girl they had seen with the old woman. She took one look at Zelgadis, freezing in her tracks. Her eyes narrowed a little. She started to walk towards him.

“You?!” she snapped.

Zelgadis froze for a second, then looked at Gourry.

“Who’s this?” he asked.

She reached over to the desk where Gourry had laid his sword, picking it up.

“Draw your sword!” she growled as Zelgadis backed up a little, knowing the girl probably knew that was the Hikari no Ken.

The chimera moved to the other side of the desk.

“Gourry, who is she?” he asked again.

“Jezell,” Gourry began, “what’re you doing?”

“Stay out of this, Gabriev,” Jezell stated coldly, still staring straight at Zelgadis.

“You don’t know me,” Zelgadis stated nervously.

Jezell was just about to jump over the counter at Zelgadis, and he didn’t look too pleased at this. Jezell continued to speak through gritted teeth.

“Do you think I could EVER forget you? You killed my mother!”

“This is crazy. It wasn’t me, Gourry,” Zelgadis pleaded. Jezell jumped at him, to the left. Zelgadis moved to the right. “Do something!”

When she jumped at him to the right, Gourry grabbed her and held her back.

“Go, get out of here!” he called to Zelgadis, holding her back with both arms.

Zelgadis wasted no time in dashing out of the room.

“Let go of me!! Let go of me!!” Jezell screamed, fighting against the tall swordsman.

“Only if you calm down,” Gourry stated sternly with a slight jerk, as if to shake her out of the fit.

Jezell took a deep breath.

“Okay,” she sighed. When Gourry let her go, Jezell instantly ran towards the door, but she stopped at the doorway.

“He’s gone,” she said. “You had no right to interfere!”

“Jezell, he didn’t even know you,” Gourry told her, taking his sword back.

“He’s a liar!” she cried. At that point, Lina and Nepha ran down the steps to find out what was going on with all the commotion. “Don’t come between us again!”

She started to walk away. “Jezell, he’s my friend,” Gourry sighed.

Jezell turned back to him.

“Your friend was a killer. He masacred and killed all for some damned quest from his grandfather,” she growled out. “He was one of the swordsmen.”

With that, she turned and left.

*****

Later on that night, Zelgadis slipped into the room he and Nepha were to share in the inn and looked at her. She was asleep already.

“I hope you’ll forgive me for this,” he said, picking up the scabbard that held Mystic Blade, “but I’m gonna need this to rectify one of my problems.”

He cast one last look at her, then slipped out again.

*****

When Zelgadis entered the old storage house, he saw Kronos standing by a window on the second level. Zelgadis stared at him for a moment, then started to ascend the stairs.

“So,” Kronos said quietly as Zelgadis continued to walk up, turning and smiling down at him, “you’re back.”

“What did you think I’d do? Run and hide? Go to someplace where you couldn’t find me?” asked Zelgadis, stopping on a platform halfway up the stairs.

“No, you’re too smart for that,” Kronos said, beginning to descend the stairs. By the time he reached Zelgadis’s level, he had begun to speak again. “You know I’d track you down, no matter how long it took, and then I’d kill you.”

“It feels good to be wanted,” Zelgadis stated sarcastically.

Kronos walked past him, keeping his back to Zelgadis.

“Not want,” he corrected, “need.” He kept his back to the other chimera, still speaking, walking up to a desk. “A dozen times, I’ve tried to pick up the old ways. The men I’ve worked with were trash, scum. I had no one to plan my raids. No one who understood the true use of terror. You’re one of a kind, Zelgadis, as we all were. There was never a band like us, never in all history. And to think you joined all because of a stone. It’s amazing how that works out, isn’t it?”

Zelgadis started to walk towards Kronos, who was now leaning against the wooden desk. He didn’t notice Kronos looking at him over his shoulder. He pulled Mystic Blade out from behind his back.

“You took a chance, letting me out of your sight today, didn’t you?” he stated.

Kronos smiled ever so slightly, but Zelgadis couldn’t see it.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve worked together,” Kronos stated. “I had to be sure of you.” Zelgadis lifted his arms to bring the sword down. Kronos lifted his arm and stopped Zelgadis’s swing as he brought Mystic Blade down. With the same arm he stopped him with, his hand grasped Zelgadis’s. In his right hand, he held Black Flare Dagger, a black magic dagger spell that when mixed with Zelgadis’s own shamanist powers could easily kill him, held up to his throat. Zelgadis stiffened, his breathing shaky. He was starting to think he was going to die. Kronos smiled a bit. “And now I am.”

After a short struggle, with Kronos trying to get Mystic Blade from a reluctant Zelgadis, Kronos finally managed to wrench the sword from his hand. Zelgadis instantly used Kronos’s hand as a ground and pushed away, several steps back. Kronos set the two blades on the desk, and the Black Flare Dagger instantly transferred back into a normal dagger.

“Don’t you understand? I’m not like that anymore!” Zelgadis exclaimed. He quieted. “I’ve changed.”

“No,” Kronos stated creepily, “you pretended to. Maybe even convinced yourself you had. But inside, you’re still there, Zelgadis, you’re like me. Your grandfather may no longer be in control, and you may not have that same old quest, but you still have the same darkness in your soul that I have.”

Zelgadis shook his head a little.

“Not anymore,” he said, in a soft defiant tone.

“No?” Kronos asked with a slight smile. He leaned against a railing. “Tell me how you’ve missed it.”

Zelgadis looked a little disgusted.

“The killing?” he asked bitterly.

“The freedom, the power!” Kronos exclaimed, seeming proud of all they had done. He looked down a little, an excited glint in his eye. “Riding out of the sun, knowing you’re the most terrifying thing they’ve ever seen. Knowing that their weapons and their gods are useless against you. Knowing that you’re the last thing they’ll ever see.” He looked back up at Zelgadis again. “That’s what you were meant to be, Zelgadis!” Zelgadis didn’t want to hear any of this, but he remembered. In his mind, he heard the terrified screams of the people he had killed, the people he had murdered, the people whose lives he had ruined. He was shaking his head, mentally begging Kronos to stop. Kronos noticed the look. He walked up to Zelgadis, noting that he was fighting the memories. “Don’t fight it, feel it!” Zelgadis didn’t speak. Kronos leaned against the box again. “You know, Jezell’s around.”

Zelgadis lifted his head to look at him in a sideways glance.

“Well, we didn’t exactly exchange gifts,” he muttered.

“And you know she’ll kill you if she gets the chance, and the means,” Kronos told him. Zelgadis didn’t respond, but nodded and looked away a little. Kronos laughed a little. “You never could bring yourself to kill her, could you?” He waited a little. “So I’m going to do it for you.”

Zelgadis looked at him.

“And in return?” he asked quietly.

“You kill Gourry Gabriev.”

*****

At the inn, Zelgadis had returned. After a short talk with Nepha, and about an hour of being deep in thought, she had fallen asleep and he had gotten up. Now, he was packing his belongings. All this made him want to leave. He didn’t want to kill Gourry. This town held bad memories for him as it was, and he knew he would cause grief to his friends, especially Nepha. She was the one person he didn’t want to hurt, and as forementioned, he didn’t want to kill Gourry! He glanced at Nepha, her back was turned to him. She had the cover pulled up over her shoulder and she was sound asleep. Zelgadis kissed her very gently on the cheek, fixing the cover a little and brushing her thick blue hair out of her face. He fought back tears.

“Farewell, my dear. Perhaps one day we will meet again.”

He then turned to the door and exited into the hallway. As he walked out of the inn, he was prepared to leave in the middle of the night so no one would notice. It was the outskirts of town, but it seemed like they were so far away. He could see some lights in the village. Before him was a dirt path, everything dark around him, with the sky an illuminated color of dark blue, the same color as his midnight blue eyes. There was a new moon and no stars, but no clouds. There was a fine mist barely clinging, drifting like a mysterious river around the chimera’s ankles. There was no wind, and it would make a person wonder what was moving the fog. As he began to walk away, someone walked up to him.

“Going somewhere?” the person asked.

Zelgadis stopped and turned. When he saw who was standing there, he gave an annoyed sigh and turned straight ahead, closing his eyes.

“You shouldn’t be here,” he said.

“What are you running from?” asked the person. Zelgadis fell silent. “A question with an answer?”

“There is no answer, Gourry, let it be,” Zelgadis bit out.

“Is what the old woman said true?” Gourry questioned.

Zelgadis stared at him, a look on his face as if Gourry really expected an answer. As he realized that Gourry really was wanting an answer, he started to walk away.

“I’m outta here,” he said quietly.

Gourry stepped in front of him, putting a hand in front of Zelgadis to stop him.

“No, you’re not. No, you’re not ‘outta here,’” Gourry stated. Zelgadis stepped back a little as if Gourry pushed him with his outward hand, looking a little annoyed. “Is what the old woman said true?”

Zelgadis seemed to fight himself for words he couldn’t seem to find.

“The times were different, Gourry. I was different. The whole damn world was different,” Zelgadis stated, exasperated and a little bitter. “Okay?”

Gourry stepped up to him, looking half disappointed and half pleading.

“Did you kill all those people?” he asked.

Zelgadis straightened up.

“Yes,” he snapped bitterly, straightening. “Is that what you wanna hear? Killing was all I knew, is that what you wanna hear?”

“It’s enough,” Gourry said quietly.

Zelgadis turned and grabbed Gourry’s collar, shoving the swordsman into a tree. In that instant, he pulled Gourry back and slammed him into the tree again!

“No, it is NOT enough,” he snapped through gritted teeth. His expression relaxed a little, but he didn’t let go of Gourry’s shirt. He nodded a little, as if he was agreeing with the thought of him being so murderous. “I killed, but I didn’t just kill fifty. I didn’t kill a hundred. I killed a thousand. I killed ten thousand.” He hatefully emphasised the ‘ten.’ “And I was good at it.” His face lightened a little. He started to shake his head as he spoke. “And it wasn’t for vengence, it wasn’t for greed, it was because,” he released Gourry’s shirt and put his hand against the tree, leaning, “I liked it. The search for that stone and the people I killed made me feel alive!” He laughed a little. Gourry smiled nervously, nodding very little. Zelgadis pulled his hand back from the tree, now making arm gestures as he spoke. “Cammi was nothing, her village was nothing.” He paused for a second, now motionless. “Do you know who I was?” Gourry wished he hadn’t heard the next statement, for the chimera said it as if he was Death itself. “I was Death.” Gourry wasted no time in grabbing Zelgadis’s tunic and swinging him around, shoving him into the tree. He knew it did no damage, and it was obvious Zelgadis let him. Strangely enough, Zelgadis was laughing as he was being forced against the tree! He nodded a little. Gourry nodded as well, with no fear on his face, eyes focused on the chimera’s. “Death, death with a sword. When mothers warned their children that the monster would get them, that monster was me. I was the nightmare that kept them awake at night.” As he spoke the word ‘night’, his voice came out in a mysterious drawl, spooky and very creepy. He suddenly snapped out the next sentence. “Is THAT what you want to hear?!” He calmed down greatly and spoke quietly. “The answer is yes.” His voice grew even more quiet, and he nodded again. “Oh, yes.”

“What about Nepha? You’d leave her, just like that?” Gourry managed to ask, a little cold in his words. “You know she’ll be devastated when she finds you gone.”

“You’d expect me to say you’re right, wouldn’t you?” Zelgadis sighed. “But for once, you’re wrong.” Gourry blinked, surprised. “Right now, I have more important things to worry about than Nepha.”

Gourry narrowed his eyes.

“We’re through,” he said.

They nodded at each other slightly, almost as if agreeing. Gourry then let go of Zelgadis’s tunic, turned, and walked away.

*****

Zelgadis moved quietly through the woods, hurrying away from where he had his confrontation with Gourry. He didn’t need any more conflict in his life, not after all he’d been through in the past two days.

“So, you’re running away.”

The mysterious feminine voice caught Zelgadis off-guard and he lifted his head.

“Zoey,” he said.

He looked at the slender figure that was leaning against a tree. The figure stood and smiled at him.

“You’re not very good at sneaking when you’re upset, my dear twin. I think you’ve gone completely soft, a coward and a weakling now,” Zoey stated, a wry smile crossing her face. Her sharp blue eyes flashed. “Or am I wrong? Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll apologize.”

Zelgadis looked away from her.

“Leave, Zoey, I have no time to deal with you right now,” he murmured softly.

“I was right, then?” chuckled Zoey. “Figures.”

“Zoey, I’m not soft, and I’m not a coward. I just don’t want my friends to be hurt,” Zelgadis growled.

“Your friends? Or just that kitty princess?” Zoey asked sarcastically. “Admit it, bro, you’re doing this because you think it’s,” she made quotations with her fingers, “‘best for the girl you love.’ Give it up, Zel. She doesn’t love you.”

“So you think!” snapped Zelgadis. “Besides, with Kronos around, her life would be in danger. He may try to kidnap her in order to keep me in line.”

“Kronos?!” exclaimed Zoey, laughing. “Oh, yeah, that sounds like something he would do. I was thinking more along the lines of he would kill her, steal Mystic Blade, and use it to keep you in line.”

“Don’t start,” growled Zelgadis, watching his sister warily.

“Don’t start what? Don’t start telling you the truth? Face it, Zelgadis Graywords, you’re up the creek without a paddle. I say you just face up to it and get it over with. Fight Kronos and kill him,” Zoey shrugged.

“Kill him with what?!” Zelgadis bit out, on the verge of snapping again. “My fists?! Without Gourry’s Sword of Light, or the Mystic Blade, I’d be helpless against him, especially since HE has Nepha’s sword!”

“Then get it back. You can do this, bro.”

Then, as suddenly and mysteriously as she had appeared, Zoey disappeared into the trees, leaving Zelgadis standing by himself, his bag dropped to the ground at his feet.

*****

“You can’t defend it, Nepha,” Gourry said.

He was talking to Nepha, who was facing him with defiant eyes.

“I’m not defending it,” Nepha stated, “I’m trying to understand it.”

“What’s there to understand?” asked Gourry. “When he went into a village, there was life. When he left, there wasn’t.” “You weren’t there. Different times, Gourry, different rules, different morals,” replied Nepha defiantly. “You can’t compare it.” “I’m won’t compare it, and I can’t excuse it,” Gourry said with a shake of his head.

“How many men have you killed? How much blood have you shed in anger?” Nepha questioned, her fists clenched at her side, her ears flattened, and her tail swishing furiously.

“Look, I know what I’ve done, and I live with it. But I’m tellin’ ya, this is different,” Gourry explained.

“What the Hell are you talking about?” growled the half-Felinic.

“I’m talking about a bunch of murdering bastards who burned and robbed across the country,” Gourry snapped. “They butchered innocent women and children, Nepha! You live with that. You see that.”

“I have. The Kani/Feli wars?” Nepha said, as if Gourry should know. She narrowed her eyes. “They took on a village, they couldn’t tell the farmers from the soldiers. You think somehow. . .the swords and arrows happened to miss all the children?”

“This is different,” Gourry pressed on softly.

“How?” Nepha bit out.

“Because he loved it,” Gourry sighed, looking taken back by just having to say that. “Because he took pleasure in killing.”

At that time, there was a knock at the door. Nepha answered it to find Cammi.

“Kronos,” she stated, extremely serious.

“Where?” Gourry asked, walking up beside Nepha.

“The old storage house, at the edge of town,” Cammi explained.

Gourry picked up his sword, then looked at Cammi.

“I thought you said your sister was after Kronos,” he said.

“She is. She led us to him,” Cammi responded.

Gourry brushed past her quickly and left.

*****

Kronos, at the time, was sitting and skimming through a spell book. He heard someone approach from a safe distance behind him. He spoke without turning.

“I hope you brought me his sword,” he stated.

“I brought mine. It’s all I need.”

Kronos got up and turned around, finding Jezell, who appeared ready to find him. He was extremely amused by seeing her there.

“Well, it’s good to see you on your feet instead of your back,” he said.

“Years pass, kingdoms come and go, but you. . .you remain the same,” Jezell said, almost trying to strike at his pride.

“I try,” Kronos responded with a shrug. The two were circling each other, still facing each other. “Did’ya come for me? I’m afraid Zelgadis is busy. He’s out killing Gabriev. Let’s see if you’ve learned anything over the past three years.”

The two started their fight. It was obvious Kronos was overpowering, and with each strike Jezell was being pushed further and further back. Suddenly, Jezell began a mind control spell.

“You’re weak, Kronos,” she said, her voice almost echoing. “Your sword grows heavy. All you want to do is close your eyes. You must close your eyes.”

“Why?” chuckled Kronos, keeping an attitude to where it wouldn’t work against him. “So you can kiss me?”

“No, so I can do this!!” shouted Jezell, leaping at Kronos. The fight, however, went the same way. Jezell was being overpowered, again, and she was being pushed back again! Instantly, Jezell cast a spell. “Dark mist!”

The darkness cloaked the area, and Jezell took the opportunity to run. Kronos, checking to see if she was still there, slashed at the misty air.

Jezell, however, was running down the steps as quietly as she could. Then, she heard a sound, someone walking towards her.

Kronos, in the meanwhile, was stopping from where he had started to run. He heard someone, and, figuring it was Jezell, he spoke.

“You witch, you’re dead!” he shouted. “Come out now, I’ll make it quick.” As Kronos spoke, Jezell was still moving, now walking quickly, watching over her shoulder. Still walking forward quickly, she turned her head to the front again. . .and ended up getting slammed in the face with the hilt of a sword, right between her eyes. She fell unconscious. It was Zelgadis. Kronos had been speaking over this. . . “If you don’t, you’ll be begging for me to kill you!”

As he said this, Zelgadis was picking up Jezell and carrying her out of the old storage building.

“Then make it quick,” said a voice from the shadows, “‘cause I can’t wait.”

Kronos turned towards the voice. Gourry stepped out, extending the blade of the Sword of Light. It was instantaneous. The fight began.

*****

At a pier at the edge of town, Zelgadis was placing Jezell inside a small boat. She looked at him with half-opened eyes.

“You should’ve killed me when you had the chance,” she muttered, serious.

Zelgadis didn’t speak, and his expression didn’t change. He simply pushed the boat away with his foot. He then glanced at Jezell’s sash in his hand, and tossed it after her.

Then, he headed back for the storage building.

*****

The fight between Gourry and Kronos was growing in intensity.

As they fought, Zelgadis was dousing the place with lamp oil. Moving up to a level above, he carelessly tossed down Flare Arrows.

The fire was lighting around Gourry and Kronos as they continued their fight.

Suddenly, as a huge wall of fire was starting to move towards the two, Zelgadis tossed down another Flare Arrow that exploded between the two, knocking them both back. When they stood, Kronos pointed his sword at Gourry.

“I can wait!” he shouted over the roar of the flames.

Gourry didn’t respond. He turned to the side, keeping his eyes on Kronos, and walked out.

***** When Gourry arrived back at his room in the inn, he found Jezell standing there.

“I’m glad to see you’re still alive,” he said quietly.

“Did you find Kronos?” Jezell asked.

“Yes,” responded Gourry.

“So he’s dead?” Jezell asked, almost hopeful.

“No,” Gourry said quietly, his voice fading a little.

Jezell walked a little towards the door, stepping behind Gourry.

“Then I’ve failed.”

Gourry turned to her. Jezell’s back was still to him, so Gourry put comforting hands on her shoulders.

“No, you didn’t. You’re still alive.”

“Well, so are they.” She held back tears. “It’ll never be over until both are dead.”

Gourry sighed, then gave her a comforting hug.

*****

Zelgadis, meanwhile, was leaning on the railing of a dock. It was still night-time, the lights of the town were far behind him. Kronos had Mystic Blade against the left side of Zelgadis’ neck.

“Why did you stop the fight?” he growled. “You saved Gabriev!”

Zelgadis was still calm. Both hands were in front of him, arms down, one hand holding his wrist. He moved his head a little towards Kronos as he spoke.

“Could’ve gone either way. I couldn’t take the chance,” he responded.

Kronos smiled a little, almost teasing Zelgadis with the blade.

“Were you afraid of me losing. . .or him?” he asked. “Maybe I was wrong about you. Maybe I should kill you right now and make absolutely sure.”

Zelgadis glanced down at the blade a little, smiling very little

“Do that and you’ll never have the Four Swordsmen,” he said quietly.

“What’re you saying?” Kronos asked, almost an accusation of a lie pointed towards Zelgadis.

“Silas and Caspian are alive,” Zelgadis stated in a matter-of-fact manner.

“You’re lying,” growled Kronos, almost cutting off Zelgadis.

“Oh really?” asked Zelgadis, lifting his head ever-so-little. He looked off to one side. “I can take you to them.”

Kronos smiled a little, dropping the sword from Zelgadis’ neck and leaned it against his own shoulder.

“Then you live,” he grinned. He turned from Zelgadis. “The Four Swordsmen rise again.”

He walked off. Zelgadis watched him quietly, then turned his head back towards the horizon.

What’s up with Zel?! I don’t get it, where’d he run off to? Who’s this Kronos guy? Why is Jezell so determined to kill him and Zelgadis?! You’ll have to wait to find out. . .

To Be Continued!

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