"Subconscious Strange Sensation. Unconscious relaxation. What a pleasant nightmare, and I can't wait to get there again. Every time I close my eyes. There's another vivid surprise. Another whole life waiting. Chapters unfinished, fading... Closer now- Slowly coming into view. I've arrived- Blinding sunshine streaming through." Dream Theater, Strange Deja Vu

"Alright... I want you to just relax, and take a deep breath. Good. Now another deep breath, hold it... and release. Now.. I want you to focus on my voice. Let it fill your consciousness. You are completely relaxed, completely at peace. Deeper... follow my voice. You're falling... falling..."

"Asleep." Red's irritated voice cut through Zelgadis' own with concentration breaking force. The chimera threw up his hands and let out a frustrated groan.

"Mina, please talk to him. OF COURSE this isn't going to work if he won't cooperate." He fixed Mina an irritated glare.

"He won't cooperate because he thinks this is a waste of time." Red snapped, crossing his arms. "Stop talking about me as though I'm not here."

Mina sighed. Upon concluding their little bout of manliness, the group had retreated to Zelgadis' cave (though the term "cave" hardly did it justice. Zelgadis had an amazing ability to transform random items into workable, if odd, furniture, and Pix had added just enough of a feminine touch that the "cave" was actually a rather cozy little home, if one allowed for the occasional bat and the everpresent stalag-thingy or three.) in order to try something that Zelgadis referred to as hypnotism. Mina had heard of this particular technique in the form of a White Magic spell, but when she'd asked Zelgadis about it, he'd gotten awfully defensive for some reason.

"It's not White Magic. I don't touch the stuff save for the occasional healing spell." he suppressed a shudder. "I don't believe in taking a person's will away from them, and the White Magic Hypnotism does that. What I'm talking about is a completely non-magical theraputic technique that can help amnesia patients. It can suggest a course of action, but it can't actually make a person do something they don't want to do."

She blinked. "Where did you pick THIS up?"

He looked evasive. "I pick up all sort of things. If something interests me, I look into it. You never know when things like this come in-"

Pix gave him an annoyed look. "He picked it up from that tart , Doctor Sor-"

Zelgadis clapped his hand over Pix and muffled what she was about to say. Blushing furiously (or at least APPEARING to, it was sometimes hard to tell with his rocky complexion) he laughed it off. "Hahaha... as I was saying... I just sort of picked it up somewhere."

Mina stared at him, a sweatdrop forming behind her head. "Oooookay..." A contemplative look crossed her features. "Why do I get the feeling there's some horribly complicated story behind this? Something vast and terribly convoluted with no apparent end in sight?"

The characters all stared off into the distance... if one were watching them from afar (Which no one is... RIGHT?) one might have thought they were looking at a wall.... far far away.

Somewhere, an author is smacked.


"Red, it's not working because you aren't TRYING!" Mina thwapped him upside the head. He frowned at her.

"Well what do you want me to do? PRETEND it's NOT stupid? I mean, if I knew who I was don't you think I'd have remembered by now?" he glared at Zelgadis, who shrugged and picked up his tea cup, shaking his head slowly.

"Look, you said yourself, your memories are locked up. You DO have them, you're just hiding them from yourself. Maybe we WON'T be able to reach them, but I think you're suffering from something called a Multiple Personality Disorder. You've created a "safe" place for the real you, inside your head. Then this other you comes out and deals with things that are too much for Gaav to deal with."

Red frowned. "This Gaav guy is a real pussy. I'm starting to like me less and less."

Mina looked worried. "But... that raises a valid argument, Zel. If Gaav came first, doesn't that mean that Red is... well..."

Zel grinned. "A fabrication? It's entirely possible."

Red started to sit up, growling. "I'll show YOU fictional, you stone of a bit-"


Red blinked, sat back down and rubbed his head. Pix glared at him in miniscule wrath, a large pan several times her size dangling from her tiny hands.

"What have I told you about threatening Master Zelgadis?"

Red glowered, but continued sitting. Mina smirked. She'd have to remember that technique. She turned her attention back to the problem at hand.

"Zelgadis, if Red gets his memory back, then..."

Zelgadis frowned. "Well... technically there would be no further reason for the..." he looked at Red, "with apologies, fabricated personality anymore... He'd be completely Gaav... The Demon Dragon King."

Mina paled. "No! Red... I'm starting to think maybe this whole thing isn't such a good idea... I mean.. wouldn't that be like dying?"

Red scoffed. "Honestly... I'm still ME... I mean, I know what I used to be, and I'm still who I am." he looked confused. "Look, I don't quite understand all this mental crap, but I do know that right now I feel like I'm only half a person." he looked completely serious. "I want to know who I am. Regaining my memories will finally give me a place."

Mina frowned. "But.. you have a place."

"What?" He blinked.

She grinned nervously. "Oh.. nothing... nothing."

Zelgadis rolled his eyes. People were SO clueless sometimes. Why don't they see things right in front of their faces? Of course, Zelgadis completely missed the look on Pix's face, but that was to be somewhat expected. He was, after all, a rock.

"Look, therapy isn't an exact science. It's more of an art. We have no way of knowing what's going to happen to Red once he gets his memory back, but without them, he's only half a person, like he said."

"Not to mention you don't get the information YOU want." Red grinned cynically.

Zelgadis shrugged. "There is that. Look, I want you to get your memory back for my own reasons, but I won't lie to you, there is a chance that the dominant personality will subsume the weaker personality... and Gaav did come first."

Red grinned his stereotypical cocky grin. "Well then we've got nothing to worry about. I've never been anything other than dominant my whole life."

Mina frowned. "This is nothing to joke about, Red... are you sure about this?"

Red shrugged. "Who knows? I might not like who I am after all of this... maybe it IS a mistake... but it's one of those situations where I'll never know unless I go through with it."

Zelgadis frowned. "Well if this is what you want, then you're going to have to work with me here. Ok?"

Red looked away, set his chin, then nodded. "Alright. I still think this is a waste of time."

Zelgadis scratched his chin. "Pix?"

"Yes master?"

"It's time to break out the big guns. I want you to go get my SPECIAL tea."

Pix frowned worriedly. "Are you sure about that?"

Zelgadis grinned. It was an evil grin. "Oh yeah. I'm sure."


"Oh wow..." Red blinked muzzily and waved his hands in front of his face. "I've got hands. Look Mina... hands! Two of 'em! Wow. I mean WOW... two of em. What a novel idea."

Mina looked at Zelgadis, then in stunned curiousity at the tea cup that Red had set down. "What... the heck was IN that?"

Zelgadis grinned. "Well.. let's just say that's what happens when Mrs. Fenwick's Wicked Brew goes bad."

Mina blinked. Pix nodded. "Yup. Discovered that one day entirely by accident. As I recall that little episode is what made the locals call Master Zelgadis the "Ghost of the Mou-"

Zelgadis cleared his throat. "AHEM. It doesn't matter where it came from, what matters is he's alot more open to suggestion now."

"What the heck have you two been DOING up here all this time?" Mina mused out loud.

Zelgadis blinked. He and Pix shared a guilty look.

Mina shook her head. "Wait a minute... what do you mean by "open to suggestion"?"

Zelgadis grinned. "Watch."

"RED!" Zelgadis barked.

Red blinked, sat up straight and fixed his attention on Zelgadis. "YES?!"

Zelgadis smiled. "Bugs."

Red frowned, then looked down. "Holy CRAP! Bugs. LOTS OF BUGS." His eyes widened. He drew his sword. "BIG Bugs."

"Er..." Zelgadis made hasty shooing motions over Red's lap. Red frowned. Zelgadis grinned. "See... all gone."

Red blinked, then grinned dreamily at Zelgadis. "Wow... you are so.... BLUE."

Mina slapped her forehead. "Ok... ok... you've convinced me. Can we get on with this, please?"

"Ahem. Red?" he snapped his fingers in front of Red's nose. Red fixed his gaze on Zel's hand.

"Wow... you've got hands too..."

Snap snap. "Red?"

"Blue- I mean yes?" he asked curiously, focusing on Zelgadis' face.

"I want you to sit back. Relax. That's good. Now take a deep breath. Let it out. Slooooowly. That's it. Just listen to my voice. Red, I want you to follow this compass with your eyes. That's it... no no.. don't try to grab it, just sit back, relax... that's it. Follow my voice. Yes. Now close your eyes, and I want you to see the number ten. Then I want you to imagine that the number ten becomes a number nine... then the number eight... you're very relaxed, very peaceful... seven.... six.... nothing but my voice... five... I want you to imagine that you are in a dark featureless place.... when I get to zero, a man will appear in front of you. That man is you. Gaav... the Demon Dragon King. Four.... three.... two.... one.... zero..."

Red blinked, then sat up and blinked his eyes open lazily. He grinned. It was not a pleasant grin. It was a devil's grin.

"Red?" Mina asked hesitantly.

"I don't think so." Gaav replied. "Naughty... naughty."

Zelgadis frowned and put his hand on his sword. "Wha-"

Gaav turned to him and his grin lengthed into a predatory snarl. "Ah. The chimera. And where is the rest of the little group? Care for another go at me little man?"

He chuckled. "I'm sure you remember what happened the last time."

Zelgadis growled but lowered his hand.

Mina bit her lip. "Red... what's-"

Gaav snapped his gaze back at her. "Stop calling me that. I'm not Red. Red's just a figment of my imagination. I am GAAV... The Demon Dragon King. Red's just a fantasy. A hiding place."

Zelgadis frowned. "A hiding place... from what?"

Gaav snarled silently. "My little pipsqueak of a brother... who else?"

Zelgadis frowned. "Who... Surely you can't mean Phibriso?... The Hellmaster has been dead for-"

Gaav snorted. "No.. not the Hellmaster. He's not my brother..." He grinned nastily. " you can't be someone's brother if you're wormfood. I've known he was deceased for quite some time now. One can hardly miss that fact after ten years."

Zelgadis frowned. "Then who-"

Gaav looked distant. "Haven't you figured it out yet? Oh... I forgot... you don't know about Mazoku do you? Very well... I'll enlighten you."

Gaav's face became deadly serious. "When a mazoku wishes to procreate, and do bear in mind that I use the term in the loosest form possible, it simply splits a piece of its body from itself. The split piece gains its own consciousness... and depending on how much of a piece it was created with, it's own powers and abilities. It becomes a new mazoku.

Phibriso... that little shit... caught me at a very bad time. I was gravely injured by that damnable Spell of the Lord of Nightmares, though I was more than powerful enough to deal with all of YOU." he grinned at the memory. The grin left his face after a moment, replaced with an inhuman snarl. THIS was obviously not a pleasant memory. "Then HE showed up... he destroyed me with a flick of his power... but he forgot one little detail... which is funny, because he mentioned it himself."

Gaav snarled. "I am chained to a human soul. Phibriso blasted me apart, and it shattered my soul into hundreds of inequal pieces. With each piece, a small bit of my astral body was attached, and so each of those things became-"

Zelgadis paled (which is hard for him). "Mazoku! Dear-"

Gaav shook his head. "Don't interrupt, chimera. NO, they DID NOT become Mazoku. They became something else. Something new. Hybrids if you will. Halfbreeds. Mongrels. Just like their dear old dad" He chuckled ironically. "Now that I think about it... they ARE as close as I'll ever come to children.. Hellspawn all..."

His face became distant again. "The most powerful of them began to devour the weaker... and the most powerful of them..."

He snorted. "Well let's just say he's quite the "chip off the old block" as it were. I don't want him finding me until I've regained a bit of the power that was STOLEN from me." he clenched his fist.

"Then that thing that attacked us.." Mina paled. "That was..."

Gaav sighed. "Yes and no. Yes, that was a Shard, but no... that was not the worst of them." Gaav smiled nastily. "No... not by far."

Mina shuddered. "So what you're saying is, something WORSE then Dnarc is after you as well?"

Gaav shrugged. "I suppose. It hardly matters. All I need to do is kill one of the other Shards and I will have more than enough power to deal with an upstart like my 'brother'."

His grin grew devious. He turned to Zelgadis. "Still... though I would undoubtedly have enough power to deal with any eventuality, I am not one to throw away useful tools. You are of some use to me. Serve me, and I will give you what you want, Chimera."

Zelgadis glowered. "Sorry. I don't work for Mazoku. Not even for my cure."

Gaav shook his head, closed his eyes and smiled. "Heh. How hypocritical of you. You KNOW that I am Gaav... you KNOW that I am Mazoku, and yet you serve this "Red". We are the same."

Mina snapped. "NO! You are NOT the same. You're CRUEL... and EVIL... a small little man who cares for nothing other than himself! Red's nothing like you. Red's-"

"A fairytale! He cares for nothing! He is ME. I am HE. How COULD I care for YOU? A human? HA!" he stood, grinning evilly, a dark red shadow appeared behind him, hatred writhing around him in the form of a monstrous dragon with three heads... hissing it's fury at the world. "Look upon me and despair, mortal! Little man? I am chaos incarnate... KING of demons... the very FURY of the Mazoku Race! What use is a speck like-"

Hia diatribe was cut off abruptly by a bout of sarcastic clapping, and Gaav turned to Zelgadis in confusion. The Chimera shook his head mockingly. "That's a very interesting little show you have there Demon Dragon King, but I'm not very impressed. If you and Red are one and the same, and you care so little for Mina, why does Red save her time and again? Why did he come back from the dead... if not to save her? Serve Red? I do nothing of the sort. We're helping each other. If you ask me... YOU'RE trying really hard to convince YOURSELF that you AREN'T the same person. The Red I've seen, granted only a short time, cares for this girl enough to give his life for her. Yes, you may indeed be the Demon Dragon King..." He spat out the title scornfully, "But you are also a little speck.. as you call it. A mortal. Just like us. And mortals CARE. DON'T they... Gaav?"

Mina looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "Red..."

The Demon Dragon King frowned, and his aura vanished. "I am not mortal. I will admit that I am shackled to this human soul. I will also admit that it has it's uses... and it's... hindrances. If I could be rid of it I would. It does not change the fact that I am mazoku. More importantly, I am a Mazoku Lord."

He turned to Mina. "Your attachment to this... fabrication will only bring you pain. Mazoku ARE pain my dear. It is time you understood that."

Mina snapped. "No! I refuse to believe it!" She rushed up to him and pounded on his chest, sobbing. "Bring him back. Bring Red back, damn you!"

The Demon Dragon King's eyes widened in surprise. "This... this is..."

"Bring him back.. bring him back! I won't LET him be a fantasy!"

For the first time in his life, Gaav looked unsure of himself. He made no move to stop the girl's feeble attack on his person. He seemed to be at war with himself... and perhaps that is the best analogy that can be drawn from a being that is conflicted against the need to destroy everything... and the need for another human being. The Chaos Dragon threw back his head and howled. His aura burst forth, scattering furniture around the room in a whirlwind of destruction. Zelgadis was thrown against a wall hard enough to knock the wind out of him, and he barely had enough strength to reach out a hand and catch a shrieking Pix before she made a Pix-sized splatter mark on the wall.

As suddenly as it began, the miasma of violence stopped, and the room was quiet save for Mina's quiet sobbing and the large man's laboured breathing.

"Bring him.. back." Mina sobbed, and started to pound his chest again. Huge hands engulfed her own, surprisingly gentle... and she stopped, looking up.


Red grinned tiredly at her. "Hey... what's wrong? Did I tell you you were fat or something?"

Mina wrinkled her nose. "What? Red? Is that you?"

It was his turn to look confused. "Who the hell else would I be?"

Zelgadis coughed behind his palm. "Gaav."

Red turned. "Huh?"

Pix nodded. "That's right." she frowned (and yet somehow still managed to look amazingly perky and cheerful). "Do you have any idea how much of a mess you made for me to clean up?"

Red looked around, bewildered. "I... I did this?" He raised an eyebrow in wonder. "Man... I really AM an asshole!"

Mina hugged him desperately, her eyes full of happy tears. "I... I'm so..."

"My My My.... quite the heartwarming little love scene you've got going on here, pretty boy." A baritone voice like a bandsaw cutting through a half ton of beef sounded from the entrance of the cave. The startled group looked toward the entrance, where it appeared as though a large boulder had been placed in front of the only way out.

A large boulder clad in stygian black platemail armor and carrying the mother of all axes.

"Too bad for you I've always been fonder... of tragedies." From the entrance, Dnarc glared in balefully. There was no escape for them this time.


Once again, Garret had drawn guard duty outside the Southern Gate of Sentinel, and once again he was bored out of his skull. He didn't know what he'd done to piss off the Captain, but it must have been pretty bad. Ever since that huge reprimand the Sentinel Garrison guard had gotten after some damn fool archer had gotten piss drunk and fallen off the side of the North Wall, the Captain had taken to doing regular inspection rounds at extremely odd hours of the day and night.

Which of course meant that one never knew when the Ice Queen would show up, which meant that one now had to stay awake, attentive, sober, and bored for the entire eight hour shift.

Garret wished SOMETHING would happen. Anything... Like that Bandit King character trying to sneak through again... why if Garret had his way, he'd show that upstart a thing or two. Pow! Whack! Right in the kisser. He grinned. Speaking of kisser, the Captain wasn't perfect either. She'd sported a nice bruise on her pretty jaw for a week afterward. Too bad the ol' Bandit King hadn't put her out of Sentinel's misery.

He stretched lazily and cricked his neck, then blinked when he heard a strange whistling noise followed by a muted thunk. Turning, he looked at the sentry next to him.

"Hey Ed... did you hear that?" he asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Ed responded after a long silence by reasonably collapsing face forward into the dirt.

One generally did this when one had an arrow sticking out of one's eye socket.

His eyes widening, Garret looked behind him to the wall he had been leaning against. An arrow quivered silently. If he hadn't stretched... he'd have been a dead man too.

"Holy Cephied! He dropped his spear and ran inside, dodging a sudden, disturbingly quiet hail of arrows. Hitting the lever for the portcullis, he then rang the watch bell, shouting at the top of his lungs.

The scouts slipped quietly away. The siege of Sentinel had begun.


"Why won't you talk to me, Tess?" Valgaav frowned in quiet frustration. "What happened?"

"Look Valgaav, I don't WANT to talk about it ok? It's nothing you can help with. It doesn't matter anyway." she turned and touched his face. "It doesn't change anything between us."

"But it troubles you. I want to help." his eyes pleaded with her. Though still strong, that odd night of revelations had strained their relationship. For weeks now she seemed to be on the verge of revealing what was haunting her, then that same stubborn determined look she always got when she was discussing her duty would appear on her face, and she'd clam right back up again.

She sighed. He just didn't understand. "Look I-"

Someone burst in on them, which was exceptionally bad timing because they were naked. The guard gulped. This was almost worse than what he had to report.

"Er... sorry sir... Er ma'am... Er..."

"Nevermind that, Sargeant." Tess snapped, unmindful of her nakedness as she began pulling on a shirt and her boots. Valgaav did the same.

"Er... yes sir... er.. Ma'am. Sir the watch reports.... that... we're... we're under attack."

Her eyes widened and she stopped in the process of tying up one of her boots. "What? When? Nevermind... Assemble the gaurd. Man the walls. Lieutenant-" she turned to Valgaav, all business now.

Valgaav turned to her. "Yes Ma'am?"

"Get with the officer of the watch and get me a status report... I'll be out shortly."

He nodded crisply. "Yes sir." He threw on his uniform and prepared to go out the door. The guard stood with him, babbling a muddled report.

She continued to dress for a few more minutes before looking at him furtively. Her face softened. "Valgaav..."

He turned to her and frowned. "Yes?"

"We'll talk.. later." she said quietly.

He nodded. If there was a later.


Tess stood on top of the wall in full battlegear (field plate) and frowned. There was no sign of the enemy... perhaps the guard had made a mistake...

A soldier next to her gasped and pointed.... "There! Dear... gods... there's thousands of 'em! Wha... what are they?!"

"Secure that shit, soldier!" She snapped, looking where he had pointed... and her eyes widened as well.

A veritable sea of black forms, some huge and nightmarish, others small and almost human made their way towards the walls. A thousand torches burned in the night like a sea of flame... A strictly regimented group of monstrosities hovered above this host like a cloud of terrible black flies preparing to feast.

She licked her lips. "Oh... my." Her grip tightened on her bastard sword.

Talon's War Host had arrived... and Sentinel City was all that stood between it and Sailoon.


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