STRANGE! Another of the Five Priests?
Big surprises ensue when Tannah Wyndstarr, the White Priestess, arrives.
Hey! It’s me, Lina Inverse, once again! You know, Nepha’s not so bad. We met her after she had been chased by some strange men wanting her sword, called Mystic Blade. We found out the true strength of the mystic sword after it actually cut through Zelgadis’s stone skin and nearly killed him twice!STRANGE! Another of the Five Priests?
Then, of course, there’s those bounty hunters. They still have a price on me, Zel, and Gourry!
We did run into Zelgadis again, and that’s how he’s travelling with us again. Well, more to the point, HE ran into US, or me in particular. Man, that’s like slamming head-on into a boulder!
And Nepha. . .she has weird taste in men. She seems to be falling in love with ol’ Zel!!
Now, we’re trying to protect Nepha AND that weird sword! Why do we always have the trouble?
Lina Inverse, Gourry Gabriev, Zelgadis Graywords, and Nepha of Feli were travelling quietly once more, after another encounter in which Zelgadis was nearly killed by Mystic Blade.
A small figure watched them from the shadows, her pale blue eyes flashing. She lowered her head as she faded once more into the shadows.
“Did you hear that?” questioned Gourry, turning to the woods, his eyes darting to and fro to see if he could find whoever had been there.
“No,” Nepha responded, turning her ears ever so slightly towards the woods. “I don’t hear anything, come to think of it.”
Zelgadis, a hand against his chest, which beneath his tunic was bandaged, turned.
“There’s nothing there, Gourry, you were hearing things,” he stated.
As the group continued on, a young woman dressed in mostly white, with off-sets of blue, stepped out of the shadows. Her name was Tannah.
“They will need my help,” she uttered quietly. “I will follow.”
“So, how many priests were there originally?” questioned Nepha as she walked next to Lina.
“Four priests, and a priestess,” Lina answered. “All are believed to be dead. Except for the Red Priest, Rezo. . .but we haven’t heard from him in quite some time. I’m almost positive we killed him.”
Suddenly, a small group of Ralfo’s men leapt out in front of them. Zelgadis growled slightly, clenching his fist at his side, keeping one hand against his chest.
“Don’t give us any trouble,” said one man. “Just give us the girl, and Mystic Blade, and you won’t be hurt.”
The group was prepared to fight.
After several minutes of fighting, things started to look hopeless. Both Lina and Gourry were wounded, and Zelgadis couldn’t fight up to par as it was. All seemed lost, when out of the shadows stepped Tannah, short turquoise hair accenting the soft features of her face. She was dressed in a sorceress’s outfit, much like what Lina wore, except it was mostly white.
“I’ll have to ask you to leave them alone,” she stated softly.
“And who are you to tell us?” stated a short, burly man. “Come on, girl, let’s see what you’ve got!”
“Purity of newfallen snow, I pledge myself to thee. In thy name, Great Ceiphied, I pledge myself to light. Strengthen my hands, give power to my fingertips. Thou and I shalt not be defeated,” uttered Tannah, putting her hands together. Her whole being radiated with light as her cape blew back, her hair brushed from her face. She lifted her eyes and threw a wave of fire at the group of men. “FIRE STORM!”
That caused the group to high-tail it. Lina forced herself to stand, walking over to where Tannah was still standing with her back to them.
“Thanks a lot, ma’am,” she said softly. “My name is Lina Inverse. Who’re you?”
Tannah turned, a gentle smile on her face.
“I am Tannah Wyndstarr,” she stated softly.
Lina’s jaw dropped. Gourry looked at her strangely.
“You know her?” he asked.
“You. . .” Lina blurted. “You’re the White Priestess!!”
Tannah lowered her head and smiled meekly.
“Yes, but please. Just call me Tannah,” responded the young woman humbly.
“Another one of the five wise ones?” questioned Zelgadis curiously. “I thought all but Rezo were dead, and even he is now.”
Tannah lifted her head at the sound of the name ‘Rezo.’
“You have encountered the Red Priest?” she asked, a little harsh.
“Met and had trouble with,” Gourry grumbled.
“You should stay away from him. He is not the same man he was before that day. . .ten years ago. . .” Tannah stated, turning her head to avoid showing her tear-filled eyes.
Nepha was still standing quietly, one ear perked with the other down. She switched their positions and sighed, her tail swishing. Suddenly, she heard something.
“Do you all hear that?” she asked.
Everyone listened, and everyone heard.
“Quickly, we must get out of here,” Tannah explained suddenly. “Lest we be caught by a magic attack that NONE of us will live through.” She looked at Zelgadis as he started to talk. “Not even you, golem.” She turned to the woods. “Shamra, come! And bring four others!”
The group was confused at first, until a pure white unicorn mare stepped out of the trees, followed by four of various colors. Two were stallions, one black and one white, one was a sorrel mare, and the other was a young tan mare.
“What are these for?” asked Nepha as Tannah mounted the pure white mare.
“To ride. They’ll be the fastest means of getting us out of here,” Tannah answered.
The others shrugged and obliged, climbing onto the unicorns. With that, they were off.
That night, only Tannah and Lina sat awake. Lina was watching the White Priestess as she sat, playing with the smoke coming from the fire as if she was bored.
“Tannah?” Lina finally said. “What happened to the other three priests?”
Tannah looked at Lina and sighed, unhooking her cloak.
“Jiro, Ito, and Akira were killed ten years ago,” she answered softly.
“Ten years ago?!” exclaimed Lina in shock. “Wasn’t that when Rezo. . .”
“Disappeared? In a manner of speaking. Some say he went mad from grief,” Tannah interjected. “In any case, he was never the same. Rezo and I were once the best of friends, and we traveled much together.” She folded her cloak and laid it on the ground, now looking less like a priestess and more like a sorceress. “But after the three other priests died, he changed. . .for the worse. He became cold and bitter, turning shoulder on those he once would’ve helped without a second thought. Rezo the Red Priest may as well have been dead himself. In a manner of speaking, I am the last.”
“That’s very sad,” Lina stated, truly sincere in her emotion. “It’s amazing that one thing could change a person so drastically.”
“I never thought he was the kind who would change like that,” sighed Tannah. “But the change was so drastic, so sudden... I never saw it coming. He never would have changed so much had it not been for Shabranigdo.”
“Well. . .I’m sure he’ll be all right. You just have to keep believing in him,” Lina encouraged. She continued in thought. *Even if he is dead. . .* Neither of them spoke for a few minutes. Lina looked at Tannah for a moment. She raised an eyebrow before speaking. “Why do you seem so protective over Zelgadis?"
“It may be difficult for you to believe, but Zelgadis is truly my grandson,” responded Tannah.
“You mean. . .” Lina exclaimed.
“If you’re wondering whether or not Rezo is. . .or was. . .my husband, you’re right. I am indeed married to the Red Priest,” Tannah sighed, looking away.
The silence then was thick enough to cut with a knife, and finally, Lina obliged to going to bed. Tannah, however, sat up for a while, the white unicorn mare lying beside her, nuzzling her softly.
“Yes, Shamra, I know,” Tannah sighed. “I dream a foolish dream. Rezo will never again be the same man he was before.” She lifted her head and looked at the stars above, a ruby glow emanating from beneath her shirt. “But it never hurt anyone to hope.”
The next evening, the group sat in a town after another day’s worth of traveling and avoiding bounty hunters. It was easier, however, with the power of the White Priestess at their hands.
But the priestess herself wasn’t in all that good of a mood that evening. She had finally explained to everyone else how she was indeed Zelgadis’s grandmother, something no one would’ve believed had she not told them she knew Rezo was his grandfather and proved she was married to him. Tannah lowered her eyes a bit. The group was sitting inside the small restaurant, and everyone seemed so happy. Only the priestess seemed forlorn.
“Tannah?” questioned Lina. “What’s on your mind?”
“Just. . .thinking about different things,” sighed Tannah in response, lifting pale blue eyes to look at the sorceress.
“I propose a toast to the joining of my grandmother to our traveling group!” stated Zelgadis, standing as he lifted his glass. “It may lift our spirits. Gourry?”
“Long life for all of us,” said the swordsman, raising his glass.
“Plenty of food and lots of good friends,” Lina continued, raising her own glass.
“True love and a caring family,” Nepha proposed, lifting her glass.
“Mine will be longer, but I’m sure you won’t mind,” she said. Everyone nodded, understanding. “A true friend, someone who cares about you greatly. Living your life to its fullest, and dedicating your life to a person you care for. Remember that while to the world you may be but one person, to one person you may just be the world.” She raised her glass. “Here’s to making it count.”
“Cheers!” rang out the voices of the group.
Tannah was bringing the glass to her lips when a voice behind them spoke.
“While to the world you may be but one person, to one person you may just be the world. Here’s to making it count,” said the voice. “Sounds like something I said once before.”
Everyone’s eyes shot to the speaker.
“Rezo!!” exclaimed Lina. “So, you’re NOT dead!”
The group of five was quiet as the priest walked fully into the light, staff in hand. Zelgadis sank into his chair, midnight blue eyes ablaze with a hateful fire, their ocean depths shooting darts at the tall priest.
“I thought I’d find you here, old friend,” Rezo said, turning his face towards Tannah. “You and I, we have things to discuss.”
Lina was going to advise Tannah against the meeting, but the White Priestess stood from her chair.
“If you will excuse me,” she murmured quietly, then turned and followed Rezo out the door.
“Why have you come back?” asked Tannah.
“I’ve come back to find you. Isn’t that good enough of a reason?” Rezo questioned in return.
“I’m sorry to say this, Rezo, but you are not the same man I married. You’ve changed,” Tannah spat, pale blue eyes narrowing.
“There’s absolutely no reason to be hostile towards me,” Rezo sighed. “I am not here to start a fight with you. You know that, Tannah.”
“I don’t intend to begin one. But you changed far too much, Rezo, no one could change that much just by having three friends killed,” Tannah continued.
“Times were different,” Rezo responded. “Jiro, Ito, and Akira did not deserve to die. I only want justice for that. I am going to kill the man that killed them, and in order to look upon his face when I do, I need my sight restored.”
“But you’re wrong,” cried Tannah. “You’re so wrong! You were never this cold, and your sight was never an issue, until Jiro, Ito, and Akira were killed! Your eyes got you in trouble before, with Shabranigdo. Remember?”
“What makes you think I haven’t returned to the old ways?” Rezo asked, his voice growing harsh.
Tannah drew back a little, her hand closing around the ruby amulet that hung around her neck. She swallowed hard.
*What is this?* she asked herself. *Is Rezo truly back to his old self, or is this just a ploy to get me to listen to him? Surely it can’t be true. But, by the gods, how I want it to be.*
“I’ve had no proof,” Tannah concluded. “There’s no way for me to tell if you’re just pulling me along.”
“Tannah, would I have come here if I was not sincere?” Rezo asked. “I’m not trying to lie to you. When have I ever done so before?”
Tannah’s pale blue eyes shifted from the window of the restaurant where she saw Zelgadis, his head still hanging with a thoughtful expression on his face, and back to Rezo’s expressionless face. He seemed truly sincere about this, like he really was telling the truth.
Never in her life had she wanted so badly to believe someone. When she had married Rezo, she had expected that something was different about him, and that something was definitely going to happen. All her pets, her gryphons and dragons and unicorns, saw it as well. She had never thought as far as to believe Rezo could come back, return to the old ways, back to what he once was.
“I. . .” Tannah began. “Rezo. . .it’s been a long time since you’ve actually talked to me rationally. Then, out of the blue, you expect me to believe you’re sincere about this? What proof have you given me?”
“Tannah, you loved me once. Isn’t that proof enough?” questioned the tall priest quietly, hinting on the emotion of sadness as he spoke.
Tannah’s pale blue eyes flashed again. How could she go wrong? After all, this was her husband. What reason would he have to lie to her? She lowered her eyes a little.
“I suppose, but. . .” Tannah began.
But before she could continue, Rezo pulled her out of the way as a fireball struck where she was standing.
“What in the world. . .” Rezo murmured in shock.
A young man with fiery green eyes stood there, a sword in one hand and a spell glowing in the other.
“Both of the remaining priests with one stone, how nice,” he chuckled.
“Who are you?” asked Tannah, standing strong a little behind her old friend.
“My name is Jamar. You would remember me better as the man who killed Jiro, Ito, and Akira!” the man laughed.
Rezo’s face contorted in anger, gripping his staff tightly with his right hand.
“How dare you. . .” he growled. “You’ll die for this.”
“And I will help you, my husband,” Tannah voiced, stepping beside Rezo and allowing her hand to glow with energy for a fireball.
She threw the fireball, but Jamar dodged it.
“Good, but not good enough!” Jamar grinned. He cast a spell at her. “BLAM BLAZER!”
Tannah jumped up out of the way, landing on the other side of Rezo.
“Stand back, Tannah,” the Red Priest instructed strictly. “I’ll handle him.”
He aimed his staff at Jamar and released a powerful wave of energy. However, unlike most times (because the almost unmatchable power of the Red Priest has pretty much never been deflected), Jamar was able to knock the spell right back at him!
Rezo didn’t have time to move, but someone jumped in front of him!
“No!!” cried the person.
“Tannah?!” cried Rezo. “Tannah, NO!”
When the smoke had cleared, Tannah stood in front of Rezo, shaking, eyes closed tightly.
“I. . .couldn’t. . .” she started, then let out a weak sigh and fell back.
Rezo caught her.
“Tannah, no, why did you do that?” he uttered.
“One is good enough for today. Rest assured, Red Priest, we will meet again!” Jamar said, then used teleportation to disappear into nothingness.
“Rezo. . .I couldn’t just let him kill you. . .” Tannah breathed, barely able to lift her head to look at her friend and husband. “I had to stop the spell.”
“But Tannah, you didn’t have to,” Rezo said with a shake of his head. “I could’ve easily dodged.”
“But. . .not in. . .time. . .” Tannah told him weakly as Rezo carefully picked her up. “And. . .now. . .as a true friend and your wife, I now say. . .good-bye. . .”
She fell completely limp as Lina and co. ran out.
“Rezo!” Lina shouted angrily. “What have you. . .you killed Tannah!!!”
Rezo lowered his head a bit, his face towards Tannah’s. He then lifted his head towards Lina.
“If you wish to believe that it was my doing, go right ahead,” he bit out, more emotion in his voice than any of the others had ever heard. “But at least I know that I would never have any compunctions like this to try to kill the woman who almost 50 years ago became my wife, and still believed that I could change.”
With that, the priest turned and, still carrying Tannah’s lifeless body, walked away.
Zelgadis sat with his head in shaking hands, Nepha rubbing his back gently.
“Are you all right, my love?” she asked.
Zelgadis only shook his head, not looking up.
“He knows his grandmother truly cared about him, unlike Rezo,” Lina sighed, her voice growing hateful as she spoke the Red Priest’s name. “I just can’t believe Rezo would murder the woman who loved him.”
“I can’t believe she actually loved him!” Gourry continued on.
“Maybe before, he wasn’t such a bad guy,” shrugged Nepha. She looked again at Zelgadis, brushing his thick silvery hair out of his face. “But one thing’s for sure, he’s definitely NOT dead.”
“You’re right on that one, Nepha,” sighed Lina. She looked at Zelgadis as well, fiery red eyes flashing. Her thoughts continued on. *But if he killed her, why would he have carried her body off? Was he trying to dispose of the evidence?* She blinked as Zelgadis’s shoulders shook violently and he lowered his head further. *I wonder. . .*
Gourry watched Lina for a moment, looking at an object in the sorceress’s hand.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Oh, this?” Lina asked, holding up a glowing ruby amulet. “It’s Tannah’s ruby amulet. I found it on the ground after Rezo left with her body. As long as it glows, Tannah still believes Rezo will return to the old ways. Even from beyond the grave.” She sighed. “I suppose she still believes.”
Gourry tilted his head to one side, then looked at Zelgadis.
“Zel?” he questioned. “Are you okay?”
Zelgadis suddenly slammed his fist into the ground beside where he was seated on the floor.
“Damn him!” he growled, his voice pained and grievous. “Damn him for everything he’s done!!” He barely contained a sob as he lowered his head again. “Damn him. . .”
In the meanwhile, at Tannah’s cottage in the Forbidden Wood, the body of the White Priestess was being laid on her own bed. Rezo stood straight, sighing a little. He lifted a hand.
“Restoration bubble,” he said quietly. A misty bubble appeared over the bed and Tannah cringed. She wasn’t dead!! Rezo lowered his head, his hand laying against the misty bubble as he spoke. “And now, my dearest Tannah, I will continue what you started. I will continue protecting our grandson and his friends from the shadows.” He sighed. “But rest assured that before you closed your eyes to rest from injury, and looked upon my face as you did, that was the last you would ever see of me.”
At that point, Rezo turned his back and walked off into the shadows.
That settles that. I guess Rezo really is alive. But why did he kill Tannah? Will Zelgadis be able to pull out of this pit of depression? I really hope so. It’s just not like him to be so down in the dumps. What will become of us as we continue our journey to Sairaag? You’ll have to wait until the next story to find out!
To Be Continued!
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