Lina: Hi!  Lina Inverse here!  Well, you’ll never believe what happened last time!  Hellmaster Phibrizo showed up just in the nick of time to, uh, dispose of Gaav.  But he kidnaped Gourry after he was done!  So, to save him, we all went to Sairaag, meeting up with a couple of familiar faces along the way.  Even though Sairaag had been destroyed during our battle with Copy Rezo, there it was, as though nothing had happened, because Phibrizo was controlling all the souls of the dead!  After a very intense battle, I was forced to use my Giga Slave, even though I knew what it would do to me!  I managed to save Gourry and the others, but according to Xellos, I was possessed by the Golden Dark Lord herself, the Lord of Nightmares.  Gourry!  What are you doing following me in there like that?  Are you crazy?

Title: Slayers Wild
Episode 1: Eternal Darkness?  The Reawakening of the Sword of Light!

    “Good morning!” Amelia blurted at the top of her lungs as she descended the stairs of the inn and joined Zelgadis and Sylfiel, still half asleep at the table.
    “What’s so good about it?” Zelgadis asked dourly, wincing at the princess’ tone.  “I could sleep for another week, straight.”
    “I’m with you, Mister Zelgadis,” Sylfiel agreed.
    “Gee, where is everyone?” Amelia asked, AI thought we were going to meet down here now.”
    “They’re all probably still asleep, like I want to be,” said Sylfiel.
    A gloved pair of hands slammed down on the table between them all.
    “What kinda attitude is that?” Lina demanded as her friends all jumped a mile.  “Today, we celebrate!  Waiter!  Give me everything on the menu, triple portions!”  As the waiter’s jaw dropped, Lina sat in the nearest empty chair.  “After all,” she continued, “We know where to find the original Claire Bible, Martina and Zangalus are out of our hair and married, and best of all we beat Hellmaster Phibrizo!”
    “And this means we can’t sleep why?” Zelgadis inquired.
    Lina fell to the table only recovering when the waiter brought the first of her food.  “Still,” she said around a mouthful, “it feels like there’s something missing.”
    Sylfiel took a sip of her coffee and set it down calmly.  “Miss Lina, where’s Dear Gourry?  He’s usually awake and down here by now, isn’t he?”
    Lina stopped, mid-bite, and looked at the empty chair next to her.  “Come to think of it, yeah,” she said, putting down a drumstick of poultry, “I wonder what’s up.”
    “He’s probably just wiped out,” Amelia commented, cheerfully, “I’ll go check on him.”  She bounced back up the stairs as the others watched.
    “So, after our celebration, where to next?” Sylfiel asked.
    “I say we head back to the Valley of Dragons,” said Zelgadis, “perhaps if we find Milgazia again, I can touch the Claire Bible and learn how to change back into a full Human again.”
    “Um, I don’t know if you remember this, Zel,” Lina interrupted, “but Milgazia wasn’t exactly thrilled to let me touch it, remember?”
    “Well, he seemed like a perfectly reasonable Dragon.”
    A rather large sweat drop had appeared on Sylfiel’s forehead and she smiled nervously.  “You guys met and talked to a Dragon?”
    "Yup!” Lina proclaimed.  “A golden one, in fact!”  She was about to launch into the tale of just how they had met Milgazia when Amelia’s small voice broke into it, calling Lina from the bottom stair.
    “I think there’s something wrong with Mister Gourry,” she announced.
    “What, is he sick?” Lina asked.
    “I don’t think so.  But he won’t answer the door.”
    “That’s weird,” said Sylfiel.
    “Oh that’s it!” Lina exclaimed.  “He’s waking up whether he wants to or not.  And we are gonna have fun even if he doesn’t enjoy himself one bit!”
    The sorceress tramped upstairs and stopped at Gourry’s door.  One hand on a hip, she knocked on it three times.
    “Amelia, can you please leave me alone?” came a voice from inside.
    “Call me that again and I’ll Damu Brass you!  Now are you going to open this door, or do I have to break it down?”
    There was a long silence.
    “It’s unlocked,” Gourry called.
    Carefully, Lina opened the door, almost fearful of what she would find.  For a moment, her eyes found nothing.  Then they adjusted to the darkness of the room and she was able to make out the shapes of some furniture in the room.  Despite the fact that the room had an east-facing window, it was dark as night.  Gourry had the shades drawn closed and was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the bladeless hilt of the Sword of Light.  The bed looked remarkably un-slept in.
    “Hey Gourry, there’s some breakfast with your name on it down there,” said Lina.
    “I’m not hungry,” Gourry sighed, never even looking up.
    Lina allowed her mouth to fall open and she blinked stupidly a couple of times.  “That’s a new one.  You’re not sick are you?  Why’s it so dark in here, anyway?” She strolled over to the window and pulled open the shades.
    Gourry flinched at the light.  “That’s too bright,” he complained, getting up and closing them again.
    “What?  Did Phibrizo turn you into a vampire or something?”
    “That’s not funny!”
    Lina took a step back, not having expected the outburst nor the particularly peeved look in Gourry’s eyes.  He seemed to catch himself, though, and returned to his silent staring at the Sword of Light.  He suddenly looked especially tired, as though he had been fighting a battle endlessly for several days.
    Innumerable moments of silence passed between them.
    “Is that what this is all about?” Lina finally asked.  “Hellmaster?”
    Gourry set the Sword of Light aside.
    “I’m having dreams, Lina.  And, I don’t know where they’re coming from.  That’s all.  I can handle it, don’t worry.”
    “Are you sure?”
    Gourry said nothing, but turned to her with that strangely adorable smile he had when he was trying, desperately, to hide a fear.  When he turned back to his pensive staring, Lina quietly left, closing the door after her.
    “So?” Amelia asked of Lina when she returned to the table.
    Lina quietly sat back down in her chair.  “Amelia, Sylfiel, I may need your help with something.”

    “Mister Gourry!” Amelia pleaded next to the swordsman’s door late in the afternoon.  “Please come out.  We’re leaving for Sairuun tomorrow, it’ll be a long hike.  You need to eat something.”
    “But it’s already the late afternoon.”
    The door opened suddenly and Gourry poked his head out for a look.  “Is it really that late?”
    Amelia nodded.
    Gourry laughed slightly, scratching the back of his head with one hand.  “Guess I lost track of time.  Sorry.  I’ll be down in a second, okay?”
    “Okay,” Amelia agreed, smiling triumphantly.  She bounced back down the stairs and Gourry followed a moment later after having grabbed the Sword of Light and putting it in its scabbard.
    Slowly, he went downstairs and found it fairly empty.  Except for Amelia, none of the others were there.
    “Where is everyone?” he asked.
    “Oh, um, well, they went out.”
    Gourry sat at the table across from the princess with a puzzled look.  “They went somewhere without telling me?”
    “Mister Gourry?”
    Amelia was on her feet again, standing next to him.  “Sorry,” she said, folding her hands in front of her.  “Sleeping!”
Gourry shielded his eyes from the light of Amelia’s sleep spell, but that by no means shielded him from its effects.  He felt something settle over him and he felt more tired than he ever had in his entire life.  So tired that he couldn’t ignore the call to sleep.  As soon as the light cleared, he was sprawled out on the table, unconscious.
    Lina entered the room just then, Zelgadis and Sylfiel in tow.
    “Good work, Amelia,” Lina commented, quietly, then turned to Sylfiel, “now it’s your turn, shrine maiden.”
    “Miss Lina, I still don’t know about this,” Sylfiel said.
    “Look, Sylfiel, we’ve been over this.  I know you don’t like Dream Walk because it’s an invasion of privacy, but you know Gourry as well as I do.  He keeps things like this in so he doesn’t worry people.  At least, that’s what he thinks.  We have to help him deal with this or he’ll never be back to normal and he won’t let us if he can possibly avoid it.”  She placed a hand on the shrine maiden’s shoulder.  “You said you’d use anything to rescue Gourry from Phibrizo, remember?”
    “Miss Lina...”
    Gourry presently let out a moan as if in pain and crinkled up his face slightly.  Zel and Amelia checked on him and signaled all was well.
    Sylfiel looked back to Lina.  “Okay.  But not here.  Upstairs.”
    Lina nodded in agreement.  “Zel, help me get him upstairs.”
    “Got it.”

    Sylfiel settled in, kneeling on the floor next to Gourry.  Lina, Amelia, and Zelgadis all stood a decided distance away, watching as she took a deep breath to clear her mind and put her hands in the air above the swordsman.
    “Blessed light of Mother Earth, you who dwell in the hearts of men.  Reveal to me the hopes and fears of the one before me.  Help me to walk in the thoughts of one who walks in shadows.  Dream Walk.”
    The world around Sylfiel seemed to drop away.  It was replaced by a void of almost iridescent blue.  Two forms drifted in the quiet space; one was the swordsman, the other...
    “Hellmaster,” Sylfiel whispered to herself, recognizing the controller of death’s child form that Lina and the others had fought against.
    Between the two forms was the fully illuminated Sword of Light.  Around the ancient artifact was a soot black vapor.  It circled ominously, threatening to envelope the sword at any time.
    Gourry and Phibrizo made a mad rush for the Sword of Light at almost the same moment.  Gourry got there first, just barely, but suddenly had to turn and face a number of trolls, berserkers, and monsters that had appeared.  The dark vapor remained around the sword as Gourry fought, looming ever closer as each enemy was defeated.  A mighty blow took down the last of the dark creatures.
    It was then that Hellmaster began to laugh his terrifying, mocking laugh.  At the same time, the dark vapor found its mark and encased the Sword of Light, turning its blade a deep, menacing black.  Another monster materialized into being.  Gourry faced off with it for several moments before something began to happen.
    The Mazoku began to change.  Its image shifted, rippled, and flickered until Gourry was facing an enemy he had formerly known as a friend, if not more than that.
    “Lina!” Sylfiel exclaimed.
    Gourry Gabriev, the Swordsman of Light, attacked to strike down the one he had sworn to protect with a sword of darkness.
    The spell broke, snapping Sylfiel back into the real world with what felt like extreme force.  She looked about and found all eyes looking past her, at Gourry.
    He was awake, looking about himself.  He blinked a few times as though confused.  But that was soon replaced by a much different look as he seemed to have figured out what had happened.
    “Gourry dear...” Sylfiel began as Gourry got up and pushed past everyone.
    He paused before exiting completely.  “You had no right.”
    “Mister Gourry wait!” Amelia called after the swordsman.  But to no avail.  He completely ignored her and left the inn without so much as another word.
    “Miss Lina,” Sylfiel began after a few moments, “did you get my projection to you?”
    Lina nodded.  “Do you think... that there’s some of Phibrizo left inside Gourry?”
    “It might explain the nightmares,” said Zelgadis, “Humans were never meant to have monsters inside them.  And monsters were never meant to be inside Humans.  Look what happened with Rezo and Gaav.”
    “We should follow him,” Amelia declared, “to make sure he’s-”
    “No,” stated Lina, “just let him be.  He’ll be back before we leave tomorrow morning.  Why don’t we just give him a little time by himself.”

    “Don’t you think we have enough?” Zelgadis lamented upon seeing the pile of fish that was taller than anyone in the party.
    “Are you kidding?  We deserve a feast after walking almost all day!” Lina exclaimed.
    “Besides,” Amelia cut in, “we’ll need that many so that Miss Lina and Mister Gourry don’t fight over who gets the last one.”
    Zel let out a small harumph.  “Like that’ll ever happen.”
    Sylfiel allowed herself a snicker.
    Gourry had remained silent through the exchange, instead staring out over the flowing waters of the river they had decided to make camp next to for the night.
    “Hey Mister Gourry,” Amelia said cheerfully, “remember that story Miss Lina told us about Noonsa?”  Playfully, she attached a sucker fish Lina had caught to her forehead and waved her hands about above her head.  “Oh help!  Help!  He’s kissing me!  Eew!  Fish man sucking head!”
    Zelgadis, of all people, roared with laughter after trying to hold it back, even falling on the ground and pounding it with a fist a few times.
    “That was just how she sounded!” He exclaimed through his hysteria.
    “Shut up!” Lina howled.  “That’s not funny at all!  It was gross!”
    Gourry didn’t change his expression at all, as if he had ignored the whole thing.
    Amelia, fish still attached to forehead, looked back and forth between Zelgadis as he was rendered defenseless by his laughter and Lina head locked him, and the strangely mute Gourry.  She smiled a goofy smile as a sweat drop formed.
    “That’s weird,” she said, “I got Mister Zelgadis to laugh, but not Mister Gourry.  Do you think they switched bodies on us, Miss Sylfiel?”
    “Who knows?” Sylfiel responded, her own sweat drop forming.
    The fish fell from Amelia’s forehead and she scrambled to catch it.  After tossing it back on the pile, she approached Gourry.
    “You’re not still mad at us, are you?  We were only trying to-”
    “That’s not it.”
    Everyone stopped their activities and looked to the swordsman.
    “No, I’m not mad.”
    “Then spill it, Gourry,” Lina demanded, “what in the Hell is up with you?”
    “I really don’t think this is a good time.”
    “Deal with it!” Lina shot back.  “You’re going to tell us what’s-”
    Gourry put a hand on his sword and stood suddenly, gazing across the river.  “Later, there’s someone over there.”
    A particularly large fireball presently came into existence and sped toward them from across the river.  Immediately, Amelia and Sylfiel moved to the fore of the group and simultaneously cast a Ballus Wall.  The fireball split in two and deflected off to either side of the group in streams of heat and light.
    “Well played,” said an oddly nasal voice as the attacker came into existence, “just as I’d expect from the ones who killed Lord Gaav.”  As the Mazoku materialized, its form became more substantial and recognizable.  It was a little odd looking but had one, small, advantage...
    “Slug!” Lina exclaimed in terror, gloming on to the nearest person.  Zelgadis became slightly annoyed.
    It appeared to be just that; a giant slug with rather scrawny looking arms and legs.
     “Lina, get off,” Zel scolded, “this is no time to discover your phobia.”
    “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” Lina repeated over and over, not letting go of the Chimera.
    Gourry took the initiative and demanded the slug’s name, moving to the fore of the group with Sylfiel and Amelia.  He left poor Zelgadis to deal with the fear-stricken Lina.  Needless to say, stone skin wasn’t helping him much.
    “I am Gershee,” the slug responded, Amaster warrior of the Monster Race.”
    “You’re kidding, right?” Gourry asked, transfixed with the oddly proportioned limbs of the Mazoku.
    “Li-naa, get off al-re-diee,” Zel intoned, attempting to use the flat edge of his sword to pry the sorceress off his person.
    “IhateslugsIhateslugsIhateslugsIhateslugs,” Lina continued to chant over and over.
    A rather large and imposing sweat drop formed on the side of Gershee’s head as he watched the folly, hoping that he didn’t look that ridiculous to his opponents.  Suddenly, he remembered the reaction from that blond swordsman in the front of the group.
    “Why do I always get that reaction?” He asked rhetorically, stomping the ground several times.
    Sylfiel snapped her fingers just then.  “Anyone have some salt?” she asked.
    Everyone looked at her and blinked, several times.  Many times, in fact.
    “It was just an idea,” she explained.
    “So, you’re a monster, huh?” Gourry demanded, pulling his sword out of its sheath.  “What do you want?”
    Amelia seemed to go a little crazy at the question and began jumping up and down, running her hands through her hair.      “Mister Gourry!  Don’t you know, never ask that question!?!” (Author’s note: sorry, couldn’t help myself.  Berz.)
    Gershee took a few steps toward the group.  “You are the ones who caused the death of Lord Gaav!” He exclaimed.  “For that, I shall kill you, in his name!”
    “See?  I told you!  We didn’t want to know!” Amelia vociferated.
    Gourry and Sylfiel both allowed themselves a moment to produce a sweat drop.
    “Enough of this,” Gershee stated.  All mayhem ceased, amazingly enough, and the Mazoku launched a fireball at the group.  In the bubble that Sylfiel’s protection spell created, Zelgadis managed to get away from Lina, draw his sword, and cast the Astral Vibe spell on it.  “Lina Inverse!  You will be the first!” Gershee screamed, launching himself at the still fear-frozen Lina. Gourry managed to get in between them just in time and moved to block the Monster’s attack spell with his sword.
    But Gourry had been so rushed that he had forgotten that he had not called on the Sword of Light’s true blade.  The one he was using at that moment was still the regular metal blade found on all swords, the one he used to disguise it from the general populous.  The blade broke in half, the top crashing into his face and he was lucky it was the flat that made contact.  He took the rest of the blast full on and was pushed back into Lina.  Somehow, as they were both flying through the air, he managed to turn around and cover Lina’s head with his arms.  They crashed into the ground like that, both only semi-conscious.
    Zelgadis stepped in and went spell to spell with Gershee, casting a Rah Tilt.  Gershee easily deflected it.  Amelia tried her hand with an Elmekia Lance, but that, too, was deflected.
    Gourry dragged himself to his feet, Sylfiel next to him, insisting on a healing spell, but he refused.
    "There’s no time,” he said, observing Zel and Amelia’s difficulties.  He glanced back at Lina and found her still petrified.  “Heal Lina for now.  Those two need my help right away.”  He fished in his pocket for a small needle and sheathed the remains of his sword.  He approached the battle once again, poking the needle into that special spot on the hilt of the Sword of Light that released the regular metal blade.  He drew it once more and pointed it at Gershee.  “Light come forth!” he shouted, brandishing the hilt.
    Nothing happened.  All the action stopped and all eyes were, for about the millionth time that day, on Gourry.  Puzzled, he blinked several times at the artifact.
    Gershee laughed, uproariously.  “So!  The rumors about the Swordsman of Light with Lina Inverse are false!  The swordsman is nothing but a fake!”
    Gourry stood stock still in front of Gershee, next to Zelgadis, still staring at the empty space where the Sword of Light should have been.
    “Gourry, what are you doing?” Zelgadis asked, hushed yet stern.
    “L-light come forth!” Gourry repeated.  Again nothing happened.
    Gershee grunted in contempt.  “Pathetic.  Are you telling me that you are the ones who killed Lord Gaav?  How can that be?”
    “Light come forth,” Gourry repeated again, to no avail, “light come forth.  Light come forth.  Light come forth.”
    Amelia grabbed the bladeless hilt from Gourry.  She turned back to the Mazoku and pointed the open end toward him.  Oddly enough, the blade lit, as it should.
    “In the name of Justice!” She intoned.  “I, Amelia Wil Tesla Sayruun, will no longer tolerate your evil deeds!”
    Gershee took several steps back from her.  “You mean, that really is the Sword of Light?”
    “That’s right!” Amelia proclaimed.  “And now, in the name of Justice, I will punish you!  All souls who dwell in the eternal and infinite, ever lasting flame of blue!”
    “Perhaps another time, then,” stated Gershee, disappearing into the sky as though he dissolved.
    With the giant slug monster gone, Lina regained her faculties and joined the others as Amelia relaxed and let the Sword of     Light return to its dormant state.
    Gourry remained as he was, pantomiming a grip on his sword’s hilt, staring off into space.
    “M-Mister Gourry?” Amelia ventured.  No response was forthcoming from the swordsman.
    “Hey, Gourry,” Lina attempted, but got the same result.
    Zelgadis waved a hand back and forth in front of Gourry’s eyes, but he continued to stare at nothing.
    “He’s... clocked out,” said the chimera.

    Night fell in due time and the group made camp on the same spot they had battled Gershee.  After an eerily peaceful dinner, Sylfiel insisted to a now responsive Gourry that his wounds be healed and he allowed her to cast her magic.  The White Magic’s soothing effect took its toll on the weary and distressed swordsman and finally put him to sleep.  Quietly, Sylfiel rejoined the others around the fire.
    “I don’t get it,” Lina was saying, “Gourry’s always been able to call the Sword of Light before.  What went wrong?”
    “Sylfiel, you’ve known Gourry longer than any of us,” said Zelgadis, “was there ever a time before this that this happened?”
    “No, not that I know of,” the shrine maiden answered.
    “Maybe Phibrizo sealed the Sword of Light’s power,” Amelia put in, “like Mazenda did to you, Miss Lina.”
    Lina shook her head.  “Then why were you able to use it?  No, that doesn’t track.  Legend has it that the Sword of Light transforms the user’s will into a blade.  So, it’s possible that Gourry’s lost the will to fight, for some reason.”
    “No, I don’t follow that,” said Zel, “he was ready to fight Gershee, I could see it in his eyes.”
    “Yeah,” Amelia agreed, “come to think of it, the look was more intense than usual.”
    “I’m afraid I didn’t see,” said Lina.
    “Could that be because you were cowering on the ground?” Zelgadis put in, sarcastically.
    “Don’t mention that,” Lina commanded, blushing up a storm.
    “That’s it, Miss Lina!” Sylfiel exclaimed.  “Maybe just like you were too scared to fight, Dear Gourry was!”
    “What, of that ridiculous looking monster?” Zel asked.
    “Not of the monster, but something else.  Something we’re missing.”
    “You may be on to something, Sylfiel,” stated Lina, “there’s no greater motivation not to do something than fear.”
    “Is it possible that Mister Gourry was afraid to call the Sword of Light?” Amelia asked.
    “I can’t imagine why, but yeah,” Lina responded, casting her gaze to the sleeping Gourry.

    They were back on the road the next morning, Lina proudly leading the way as usual.  But where Gourry walked normally, next to Lina, was Sylfiel instead.  Amelia and Zelgadis were just behind them, the princess glancing behind every so often at the silent and distraught swordsman behind them.  She was about to go back and say something, anything she could, to help cheer him up but felt Zel’s strong hand on her shoulder, stopping her.
    “Guy stuff,” Zelgadis stated, dropping back next to Gourry.  He walked in silence for a moment before speaking.  “So how long are you going to sulk?”
    “Hmm?  Sulk?” Gourry asked, as though just noticing Zelgadis.
    “Yes, sulk,” Zel confirmed, “about what happened with Phibrizo.”
    Gourry stopped in his tracks, never having looked at Zel.  The Chimera followed suit and they allowed the rest of the group to continue on a ways.
    “That is what this is all about, isn’t it?” Zelgadis forged ahead.  Gourry looked at him, a mixture of fear and amazement.          “Yeah, not much else it could be, now is there.  So spill it, Gourry.  Why are you afraid to fight?”
    Gourry glanced at the three ladies ahead of them, still continuing on, before turning back to the Chimera.  “You won’t tell Lina?”
    “I won’t promise that.  If you can’t tell her after all the time you two have been together-”
    “Zel!  Promise me!”
    Taken aback by Gourry’s sudden forcefulness, Zel nodded.  Gourry calmed a bit and cast a glance toward Lina before saying anything further.
    “You remember when you guys were traveling to Sairaag after Phibrizo.  You had to fight a swordsman.”
    “Yeah, and it turned out to be you.”
    “Yeah, it was me.” He paused.  “I’ve been thinking about that and... it was really me.”
    “Gourry, I thought we’d been through this.  That wasn’t you at all.  It was Phibrizo.”
    “How do you think he was able to get me to do that?” Gourry nearly bellowed, hands balled into fists.  He glanced to them and forced them to lower, almost unwillingly.  “I... don’t want to...”
    “You’re afraid of turning back into that, is that it?  If that’s all, then you don’t have anything to worry about.  That still wasn’t you.  Remember, Mazoku have control over negative emotions.  Phibrizo just put something inside you.”
    Gourry nodded.  “And it’s still there.”  He gripped the Sword of Light in his hand.  “Phibrizo powered up the Sword with negative energy and it’s still there.  Every time I pick it up, I can feel it.”
    “Here, let me see that,” Zelgadis ordered, snatching the Sword from Gourry.  The Shamanist held it in both hands and closed his eyes.  “Everlasting Flame of Blue, force of life that flows through all.  Show me the world that eyes cannot see and reveal to me what curses lie near me.”  Zel was silent for several moments before his eyes snapped open and he dropped the Sword as though it had just burned him.
    “What’d you see?” Gourry asked.
    “The smell of smoke.”
    “Don’t think about it too hard.  The Astral Plain is hard to put into words.  The long and short of it is that you’re right.  There is something there, and it’s connected to you somehow.”
    “Can you get rid of it?”
    “Not without help,” Zel commented, glancing after the ladies as though to make a point.
    None of them were there.
    “Where did-”
    “You idiot,” said a voice above them.  Gourry and Zelgadis looked up and found Lina, Amelia, and Sylfiel levitating over them and looking down.  Lina canceled her levitation spell and landed next to the men.  “Just how long did you intend to keep this from me, huh?”
    “Zelgadis!” Gourry snapped at the Chimera.
    “I didn’t say anything!” Zel shot back.
    “Knock it off!” Lina commanded, scooping up the Sword of Light from the ground as Amelia and Sylfiel landed.  “So, Phibrizo’s final legacy.  How bad is it, Zel?”
    “I can’t get rid of it, not without help.  And no one here is strong enough in the Shamanist arts to help me.”
    “It sounds like what we need is a massive amount of positive energy,” Amelia put in, ever so cheerfully.
    “What about a Megado Flare?” Sylfiel asked.
    “No, that won’t work in a case like this,” stated Lina.
    “Damn it!” Gourry suddenly blew up, grabbing his sword from Lina’s hand.  “This is my problem!  I’ll deal with it myself!”  With that, he stalked off into the woods away from the group.
    “Mister Gourry!” Amelia called after him.
    “I guess we aren’t going anywhere for a while,” commented Zel.
    “I’ve had it with this,” Lina stated, evenly, making her way after Gourry, “enough is enough.”

    Upper cut, parry, thrust, parry, stop cut...
    With almost no feeling to it at all Gourry moved through an old routine his father had taught him when he first picked up a     sword.
    Head cut, parry, riposte...
    The movements were almost mechanical; feet were in perfect harmony with arms and body, moving with a much-practiced fluidity.  But the swordsman was only half conscious of those movements, too many thoughts running through his head to be concerned with the physical world.
    “Still fighting, huh?”
    Gourry pivoted on the ball of his foot and pointed his sword at the person standing against the tree.
    It appeared to be a boy of eight or nine years of age, short black hair, dressed in a simple outfit of purple.
    “Why won’t you leave me alone?” Gourry asked the child figure.
    Phibrizo gave a short, yet frightening, laugh.  “I can’t do that.  This is my job, now, you see.”  He deftly pushed aside the blade.  “I’m a part of you.  And pretty soon, you’re going to give in to me.  After all, you’re nothing but a weak swordsman who’s lost his nerve.”
    Gourry was about to spout a few words to the Mazoku when a hand clamped down on his shoulder.  On reflex, he turned and pointed his sword at the person.  But once he saw who it was, he gasped and froze.
    Lina had taken a step back, unprepared for the reaction from her traveling companion.  The two of them looked at each other in amazement for a moment.
    “Gourry... you’re shaking.”
    The swordsman realized it was true as he lost his grip on the sword hilt and let it fall to the ground with a metallic clatter.  He held his hands up in front of his face, looking at them as they trembled as if they were not his own.  Lina, meanwhile, seemed at a loss for what to do, to say.
    It was hard to tell whether it was lucky or unlucky that the uncomfortable silence was broken just then by a rather large fireball.  It exploded just between Lina and Gourry, sending them both flying in opposite directions.  Gourry was picking himself off the ground as the smoke cleared, revealing an all-too-familiar monster.
    “Gershee,” he muttered.
    “Slug!” Lina exclaimed in pure terror, gloming on to the nearest tree and climbing about half way up it.
Sweat drops were all the rage for a moment as both Mazoku and Swordsman stared at the sorceress in puzzlement.  Gershee was the first to recover from the confusion and launched a fireball at Lina.  The tree she had attached herself to disintegrated into ash, leaving her petrified on the ground.
    “For Master Gaav!” Gershee proclaimed, readying another fireball.
    “Stop it!” Gourry roared, coming up to the monster from behind and landing a slash that would have killed a human.
    “Hmm,” Gershee mused as his two halves rejoined, “perhaps I should dispose of the boy who wants to be a Swordsman of Light, first.”
    Gourry went through the movement with the needle with a quick fluidity, dropping the useless, regular blade on the ground.  He held the bladeless hilt in both hands, pointing it toward Gershee.
    “Light come forth!” he commanded.
    Again, nothing happened.
    Gershee seemed to roll his eyes.  “Pathetic.  I’m busy just now.  Be gone.”  With that, he launched a fireball at Gourry, sending him flying backward into a nearby tree.  He hit the trunk, full force, pain radiating from his spine down his arms and legs and into his hands and feet.  It overtook him enough so that he never even felt himself fall to the ground in a small pile and black out for a moment.
    As he regained his senses, Gourry’s vision was met with the sight of Gershee’s back moving away from him and heading toward the still terrified Lina on the ground.  The monster had his hand out, a glow building for yet another attack.  His closeness to Lina was enough to ensure a death blow.
    He wasn’t even sure how he had gotten on to his feet once again; wasn’t even sure what was driving him to do so.  Gourry was only sure that he was still standing and fighting, as he should be.
    “I... said... STOP IT!”
The Sword of Light exploded with life, still in Gourry’s hand.  Somehow, he hadn’t dropped it when he impacted the tree.  A glow built first around the top of the hilt in a ball.  That lit the whole area of shadowed trees as though they were out in an open field at noonday.  Then, the ball of light exploded at both ends, forming a blade on the sword almost twice its normal length, where it should have been.  Oddly enough, however, two powers seemed to be vying for space inside the blade; one of the artifact’s pure white, the other of polar opposite black.
    By this time, even Gershee had been watching the Sword with amazement for quite a few moments and was taking several steps back.  He was stopped from retreating entirely by the black energy that was inhabiting the Sword of Light; it arced from the blade over to the Mazoku, striking him square in the chest and wrapping him in a ball of darkness.  Gershee seemed to absorb it, yet changes began to occur.  When they were finished, the slug-like Mazoku was no more; in its place was a giant, rabid creature that strangely resembled a black cobra.
    The Sword of Light burned in Gourry’s hands, clean and white, still twice its normal size.
    Gershee’s slug-like form gone, Lina was able to gather her wits about her once more and circled around behind Gourry to get out of what she saw as a particularly dangerous line of fire.  By this time, enough ruckus had been made to draw the attention of Zelgadis, Amelia, and Sylfiel and they came bursting on to the scene, just behind Lina.
    “What is that thing?” Amelia asked.
    “Look, Gourry’s using the Sword of Light again!” Sylfiel exclaimed, but was largely ignored for the moment.
    “Whatever that thing is, it’s gotta go,” said Zelgadis, preparing an Elmekia Lance.
    Lina put a hand out to stop the Chimera from casting his spell.  “No,” she stated, “this one’s Gourry’s.”
Gourry tightened his grip on the Sword of Light and charged at the black creature.  No one was entirely certain what happened after that as light permeated every space within view.  The four spectators were forced to look away, but once they could see again, there was no disputing the victor of the battle.
    The thing that the Mazoku Gershee had become was gone, leaving only Gourry, holding a flickering Sword of Light in hand.
    “He did it!” Amelia blurted after several moments of pure silence.  There were small cheers in agreement all around.
    Except in the victor.
    Gourry, completely spent from the battle, collapsed to the ground, allowing the Sword of Light to flicker out to its dormancy once again.
    “Gourry!” Lina exclaimed, worry evident in her voice.
    “Gourry Dear!” was Sylfiel’s similar statement.
    The two ladies were by the unconscious swordsman’s side in an instant, Zelgadis and Amelia hot on their heels.
    “I- is Mister Gourry all right?” the princess asked as Zel picked up and examined the Sword of Light.
    “I’m... not sure,” Lina admitted.
    “I imagine he’s just completely drained,” stated Zelgadis, handing the Sword to Lina, “the smell of smoke is gone.”
    “I didn’t think someone who’s not magically inclined could do that,” said Lina, “how did he...”

    Gourry awoke to find himself covered in a blanket, lying next to a fire.  He lifted his head up a bit, looking about, and found everyone else asleep around the fire, each making their own little sleep sounds.  Amelia was mumbling something or other about justice...
    Next to him, Lina was sitting crossed legged on her own blanket, head hung, and a soft snoring noise was coming from her.  It was apparent that she had fallen asleep keeping watch.  Zelgadis would be furious if he found out, so Gourry did the only logical thing to keep the peace.
    He sat up, covered Lina with his blanket and prepared to take her place as watchman.  But a hand reached out a pushed him back into a laying position.
    “You idiot, get some rest,” Lina mumbled, eyes half open.
    Gourry blinked.  “Lina?  You’re awake?”
    “I’m on watch, aren’t I?”
    “You look pretty tired,” he stated, sitting up again, “I’m fresh, why don’t you get some sleep while I-”
    “You’re anything but fresh after breaking that spell.  You did that with pure will, Gourry.  Eight hours of sleep isn’t going to be enough rest for someone who’s not magically inclined, like you. So go back to sleep, before I get angry.”
Gourry stared at her blankly for a moment.
    “You heard me,” Lina reiterated.
    “Can I at least have the blanket back?”
    The swordsman sighed and resigned himself to her orders.  Laying back, he put his hands behind his head and stared up at the night stars.
    “You really do remember, don’t you?”
    “Remember what?”
    “What happened in... in the... that big black thing.”
    “The chaos void?  Why?”
    “Just a question.  So do you?  Just between you and me.”
    “Just between you and me?”  Lina seemed to ponder for a moment.  “No... no, I don’t.  You?”
    Gourry turned on to his side and faced the fire, away from Lina.  “Why would I remember if you don’t?”
    Several moments of silence passed.  “Right,” Lina responded.
    The fire crackled for a fairly good amount of time before either of them spoke again.  “One of us has to take the first step, you know,” stated Gourry.
    Lina smiled.  “Yeah, I know.  But for now,” said Lina, “I’m just glad to have our good old Swordsman of Light back.”
    “Thanks Lina,” said Gourry, “for giving me the strength.”
    “Huh?” Lina exclaimed, opening her eyes once again and looking to him.  She found him sound asleep on his side, turned away from her and facing the fire.  She smiled a soft smile and went back to her duty as watchman for the night.