"Are you going to stay with Firia forever, Val?" Demeter asked.

 "What do you mean, Dera-san?" Val looked at her questioningly.

 "Firia may have given up her priestess-hood, but that still doesn't not make her a Golden Dragon. And if they find out that she is living with an Ancient Dragon.. well, I really don't want to think about that."

 Val's face set into stubborn lines. "But they won't know."

 "They won't here it from us," Xelloss said cheerfully. Demeter cast him a withering glance, then turned to Val.

 "Make sure to contact me if they do then," she warned him. "I have several scores to settle with them anyhow." Val nodded nervously as Demeter glared into the air at the thought of the Golden Dragons.

  "It's been so long since I've seen everyone - they all look the same, yet different." Martina wondered to Zangulus.

  "I got a brief from Gourry about what happened in the past year - it seems they're always in some kind of trouble." Zangulus shook his head. "Lina just seems to attract it where ever she goes."

  "I remember a time when I hated her for destroying half my kingdom." Martina smiled. "But I don't now. I learned so much from traveling with her - not to mention I met the man of my dreams."

  Zangulus laughed. "Believe me, the feeling's mutual."

  As the couple giggled together, Firia and Shifiel were swapping tales about their adventures. Shifiel was helpless with laughter as Firia described the time they had lost the Sword of Light.

  "I swear, they oozed all over the floor." Firia giggled.

  "Lina - sama is so funny when it comes to the Sword of Light." Shifiel wiped her eyes. "I'm surprised she let the being from the other world take it with him."

  "You have to come to my shop some day!" Firia told Shifiel. "It's full of antiques, and there are two workers there that would love to meet you. And by the store there's a lake . ."

  The two girls giggled as they made plans for the spring. Zel overheard their laughter and briefly smiled. "Looks like Firia and Shifiel like each other."

  "We should have introduced them earlier." Amelia giggled. She turned to Zel. "So what have you been doing this past year?"

  "After we parted ways? Just . . exploring." He shrugged. "The Barren Desert, the Misty Mountains, all over the place. What about you?"

  "Oh, after my father ascended to the throne, I've been studying." She groaned. "History, Astrology, Sacred Magic - Dera-san sent a teacher for that - Law, Etiquette, everything that could possibly be crammed into my head." She looked up shyly. "Every now and then - during lessons - I'd look out the window and think of you. "

  "I had your necklace to remind me of you." He looked out the window. "So you've learned Astrology?"


  "Can you tell me what that constellation is, up there?" he pointed to a group of bright stars to the west.

  "That's . . ." Amelia squinted. " . .Um, wait a sec. Oh, I remember. That's Heliena's Nightingale. And right beside it is Danc's Harp."

  "Do you know the story of the two?"

  "Heliena was a princess, I think." Amelia smiled as she remembered her lessons. "She had a lover (Danc), but he was a minstrel, a commoner, and of a different blood, so they had to keep their love hidden. Every night he'd come under her window, and play his harp while she sang. Finally one night they ran away, but the king found out and sent soldiers after them. They were chased until they came to a cliff. Rather then be caught they jumped off. But Apollo, who loved Danc because he was a talented musician and Heliena because she had a beautiful voice, turned them into stars and threw them up into the sky. They say if you listen carefully on quiet nights, you can hear them make music together." She sighed. "I love that story, it's one of my favorites."

  "Look at the part where they touch." Zel pointed to two stars that were so close to each other it looked as if it was one star. "They call that Milia, it means music."

  "Don't I know it." Amelia shook her head. "It was on one of my tests!"

  Zel half-smiled "Can you see it from your window?"

  "Yes." she gazed at it. "I can see it the best."

  "Well, then, can you promise me something?" he looked into her eyes. "When you see that star, think of me. And I'll promise when I see it, I'll think of you."

  Amelia's heart skipped a beat. " . . Ok."

  At the other window, Lina and Gourry were also talking. "Where do we go now?" Gourry chewed, then swallowed whatever was in his mouth.

  "I don't know." Lina shrugged.

  "Don't you want to visit your hometown?" Gourry said curiously.

  "NO." Lina paled. "I am NOT going anywhere near my hometown. God knows what my sister would do to me."

  "Why, does she hate you?" Gourry asked.

  "Noooo, she's just scary, that's all." Lina shivered.

  "Demeter said Luna's really nice." Gourry commented.

  "Birds of a feather flock together." Lina muttered, shaking her orange hair back. "How about you, do you want to visit your clan?"

  "No thank you." He laughed. "I don't have any close relatives, and you wouldn't like it there, it's very boring."

  "You could go by yourself." Lina suggested, though she really didn't want to say those words.

  "Don't be silly, I'm not going anywhere you aren't." he smiled down at her. "Little girl."

  Lina laughed as he called her the way he called her when they first met. "Well, I guess we're just going to have to wander around for awhile. Maybe Dera will join us."

  "It doesn't matter, I'm your guardian." Gourry reminded her. Lina's face flushed, but she made no complaint. Presently she turned to Gourry.

  "Why do you call yourself my guardian?" she asked him.

  "Huh?" he glanced at her.

  "I mean, you're a great swordsman, you could make a lot of money being a bodyguard of some rich nobleman or something. I'm just a girl that has a talent for getting into trouble." Lina said slowly.

  "So. . . you don't want me to travel with you anymore? Since I don't have the Sword of Light anymore, is that it?" Gourry turned his back on her.

  "No, no!" Lina impulsively out her hand on his shoulder. "I don't mean that! I just - "

  Gourry put his hand over hers and turned around. "Then don't say anything like that again, ok?" he looked at her with his blue eyes. "I'm your guardian - I'm going to follow you where ever you go."

  "Gourry . . ." Lina whispered.

  "What?" he said quietly.

  ". . . LET GO OF MY HAND!!" she bellowed, giving him a smack. Everybody else laughed. "Never for a minute can we keep our eyes off you two!"

  "Come on, people, enough cuddling in corners! Let's start drinking! We're going to have to drink all night if we want to finish all the wine." Demeter brought out the box Martina and Zangulus had brought.

  As soon as everybody had a full glass, Demeter lifted her glass. "Let's all say what we want to drink for. Xelloss, you start"

  "That's a secret." He winked, causing everybody to groan.

  "To our goddess Cephid! Let her blessings follow every one of us." Shifield smiled. "And to my new friend Firia."

  "To my new friend Shifiel." Firia returned, smiling. "And to us." She looked at Val. "And to my antique shop!" she added. Everyone laughed.

  "To peace and equality to all clans, be it God or human." Val lifted his glass. "And to us lone survivors." He winked at Firia.

  "To high adventure!" Amelia giggled, sharing a glance with Zel.

  "To constellations and studies." Zelgadis smiled at her.

  "To our children!" Martina and Zangulus said together.

  "To food!" Gourry said briefly. Everyone exploded into laughter.

  "To our past." Demeter said as they calmed down.

  Lina raised her glass high. "To our future!" she shouted. "A future built by our OWN hands, and not a future that submits to fate!"

The glasses clinked, and everybody tipped back their heads. "Blessed Be!"