"What is it really that is in your head? What little life that you had just died. I'm gonna be the one who's takin' over, now this is what its like when worlds collide." -When Worlds Collide, Powerman 5000

When stacking the advantages that a high level mazoku has against the average human, one quickly comes to the conclusion that the Lord of Nightmares has an extremely warped sense of humor. Had Xellos been a human being, unless he had access to a pair of very fast horses, it would have been extremely unlikely he could have beaten Mina and Red's exhausting pace to the elder Inverse's home. Red was a tireless and fast traveler, and Mina was well accustomed to the exertions of a life on the road. Still, even though they moved at an inhumanly fast pace, they were only human (at least in perception, in some large and surly cases) whereas Xellos was a Mazoku.

Besides... Xellos cheats. To put it more succinctly, in the great poker game of life, the dealer is often the winner; he gets to set the rules, and he has the deck first in hand. Xellos has not only memorized the worn edges of the deck of life, he has spent several hours at a very high quality Kinkos making copies in order to stack the deck in his favor. This puts him in the position to win rather consistently, much to the other players' consternation, and as we all know, the winner gets to deal.

Rather a vicious cycle that.

Xellos exited the tunnel he created through the Astral plane (and out of the smoking ruins of the author's attempt at metaphor, but then, trying to typify Xellos will do that to you) a few hundred yards from Lina and Gourry's domicile and proceeded to walk the rest of the way so as not to attract undue attention. A note at this point; Xellos does not teleport, though to the uninitiated it may appear so. No, Xellos is able to travel through the Astral plane, a place that not even the Mazoku have ever bothered to define. Time moves differently there, distances warp and twist, and one is never quite sure where one is at any given moment. Unless of course, one happens to be a creature of that realm (or naturally warped and twisted anyway) in which case moving through the astral ether is as natural as breathing. This would explain why sorcerors have never managed to develop true astral travel or teleportation. The former being mainly that if the Mazoku have some secret to astral travel, they have never revealed it to humanity (the answer normally given to such inquiry is extremely unpleasant and involves trying to find one's various internal organs at varying points in astral space). The latter resulted in some rather... unpleasant experiments that resulted in what was undoubtedly a closer study in internal human anatomy than the bystanders would have wished. Thus, it was determined that there were just some things that human sorcery was simply too imprecise to do.

All of this is rather beside the point, as the current mode of travel that Xellos was using is available to a majority of earth's creatures. Knocking soundly on the stout wooden door, he waited patiently.

No answer. Xellos frowned. He'd have to search her out, which was an annoying, if hardly insurmountable obstacle. It was late evening... There was no reason Lina Inverse should be out and about, particularly in her weakened condition. He grinned slightly at that. The sorceress' predicament never failed to invoke a sense of satisfaction in him, mainly because the blame for it rested entirely on his shoulders. All because of a simple, half considered whim years and years ago...

His grin widened to a full-on smile. He'd long since learned not to ignore his odd sense of humor, more often than not the results of his twisted idea of amusement yielded unexpected benefits in the long run.

Besides... life wouldn't be nearly as much FUN.


"WHAT DO YOU MEAN KIDNAPPED!!!" Lina Inverse bellowed as she put a little more pressure into the headlock she currently had Xellos in.

Xellos sighed (or tried to). Time had apparently mellowed the volatile Sorceress... a few years ago Xellos would have been on fire at the moment.

"I meant what I said Miss Lina... urk... your daughter has run into an old enemy of yours... sadly..." Xellos didn't particularly NEED oxygen, but it was amazing what a distraught Lina was capable of.

"What old enemy?" Lina Inverse had a valid reason for asking this question; she didn't exactly leave a whole lot of enemies still alive (or even in one piece) behind her.

Even in her painful headlock, Xellos managed to smile. "Why... Gaav the Demon Dragon King."

Lina turned pale and let Xellos go. This was exceedingly bad news. "Gaav? Bu... But how? I saw him obliterated by Phibrizo almost 20 years ago..."

"Nevertheless, Gaav it is. I might also mention that he is probably not overly pleased with you. I believe he is trying to get at you through her."

Lina looked down, still pale. She remembered that terrible fight. Zelgadis and Gourry beaten and at the end of their strength, Amelia... brave, overzealous Amelia scared out of her wits... then the Ragna Blade... Gaav descending to earth in a ball of fire...

Only to reappear again when everything seemed calm, completely unharmed... exuberant even... In that moment Lina had known that she faced a foe that she could not destroy without the GigaSlave... that terrible spell that she dare not cast. Apparently not even Phibrizo was capable of destroying him... without her powers... how could she HOPE to destroy him?

She gritted her teeth and looked at Xellos coldly. "I doubt you're telling me the whole story, Xellos, but thank you. I'm going to have to... ask you a favor."

Xellos raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Lina Inverse? Asking... ME a favor? Why I do believe this is a first in human history."

"Please?" she asked sweetly as she put him into another headlock.

"Ack... since you ask so... nicely... Sure..."

She let him go and frowned thoughtfully. Time to gather some extra help.


"Uh... so why is this Gary guy so dangerous anyway?"

"ERRR... GOURRY!" she batted him on the head. "That's GAAV you pudding head!! GAAV! The Demon Dragon King? Remember? Bad fashion sense, BIG sword, BIGGER ego, kicked us all over the Katatoe Mountain Range?"

Gourry blinked and got a thoughtful look. "But... I thought... that Smellmaster guy killed him."

Lina blinked several times trying to translate Gourry's response. Gourry's world was a very simple one, and it didn't have room for unimportant details like foes fought several years ago.

"Yeah Gourry... thats right. He's back though. Apparently he wasn't killed dead enough."

Gourry looked confused, but Lina took this for a normal sign and continued.

"Anyway, Gaav has Mina, and-"

Gourry's look of confusion disappeared so quickly that Xellos raised an eyebrow.

"Thats all you had to say Lina. If Mina is in trouble with this Glay guy, then we have to help her."

Gourry's eyes had turned to steel.

He could be a very scary man when he wanted to be.


Thus, our desperate (or in some cases, clueless, and in one case, devious) band of adventurers set off towards their next and closest stop... the capital of Sailoon, Sailoon City (oddly enough). Lina may have been a very proud woman, but when her daughter was on the line, and she no longer had the power to save her by herself, it was time to look to outside sources.

Besides... Amelia had the resources of a Kingdom behind her... surely an army could stop Gaav.

It could have been considered ironic that Mina was more or less willingly leading Gaav to Lina's doorstep, and that Gaav felt no pressing need to kill the famous sorceress (at least, no more pressing need than he felt to kill anyone), and who would now be missing one another by approximately one day....

It could have been considered ironic, if it had not been completely engineered by a professional bastard.


"Valgaav?" the voice was so soft that Valgaav lazily opened one golden eye and grinned at his hesitant lover.

"You know, you are amazingly cute when you're unsure of yourself."

That earned him a gentle thwap with a pillow.

"Val... I.. when I told you about my story, you said it reminded you of someone. What did you mean by that?"

Valgaav frowned gently and rolled onto his back, hands behind his head. "Hmm."

"Well.." he sneaked a grin at her. "You probably figured out I'm not human by now."

She blushed. "Yeah well... some... er... things gave it away."

"Well... now bear in mind that I don't remember what I'm about to tell you... it was told to me when I was a child."

He proceeded to tell Tess about Gaav, and his vengeance sworn against Lina and her gang, and his attempt destruction of the world, his rebirth...

"...So Mom thought my ties to him were severed when I was "born" without the horn he gave me along with his power, but then when I was about 6 months old, it just started growing in, with no warning. Mom never could figure it out, and she could never get Xellos to give her a straight answer. I don-"

He stopped suddenly when he realized that her gaze was very distant. "Tess? What's wrong?"

"I-I..." Tess stopped, eyes closing, in the depths of a memory she could swear was not hers. Valgaav, minus his horn battered and bloodly, his eyes defiant. She remembered feeling a kinship... finding a soul on the run like himself.. (HIMself?) he (HE?) asked Valgaav a question but the roaring of sound in Tess's ears drowned out the words. Valgaav seemed to agree, then.. and then...

Tess's eyes flew open wide. "Noooo!"

Valgaav shook her, his face anxious and worried. "Tess... Tess whats wrong? Whats-"

With terrible strength, Tess involuntarily threw him loose, shaking in fear... all her life she had been unsure of her past, no parents, no family... growing up not knowing... had been hard. Now she knew... and knowing....


Knowing was worse.

Elsewhere, a gray, almost shapeless form hidden behind a mask threw its gaze outward, seeking the source of that cry...

A black armored warrior with an even blacker heart looked up suddenly from his butchery, the blood running slowly down his ax. Something had startled his reverie... some nameless urge told him to stand... to search...

The wandering one in the shadows smiled. It was time. The shards were awakening. Soon. Soon the war would begin.


"Red? Red... what is it? You look like someone just danced on your grave."

Red, who up until this point had shouldered all the strange happenings in his life without concern, shivered involuntarily and tightened his grip on his sword.

"I think... someone just did..."

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All original, creative-type stuff on this website is copyright to Chris Cuellar and Teresa Dietzinger, 2002