"It's been more than 6 years." Lina Inverse mused, her huge ruby eyes taking in the landscape. She fiddled nervously with the talisman at her throat. "And nothing has changed."
"You're lucky, Lina." Zelgadis Greywords remarked darkly from the depths of his hood, from which escaped a few blue-grey strands. His sharp eyes were unfocused with memories. "At least you have a home to return to."
"Don't be so blue, Zelgadis-san, you're spoiling the moment." Amelia Wil Telsa Sailune nudged her companion, shaking her black head. Zel always like to inject depression into the most joyful occasions.
"Where does your sister live, Lina?" Gourry Gabriev asked of the red-headed sorceress. His blue eyes watched her carefully as she pointed to the east.
The four friends had met quite by accident on the road. Lina and Gourry had been wandering here and there - only a few months ago they had met Dera on the road and the three of them, along with Dera's warriors, had ruined a kingdom ruled by a certain King Marc who had robbed Demeter's temples of their offerings. After that, Lina's elder sister Luna had sent a letter to Lina asking her to stop by her home - in short, to visit the hometown Lina had been banished from after she had tried out a destructive spell that had blown away nearly half the village. On their way there, they met up with Zelgadis, who was of course still on his quest to find a way to turn his body back into human. And the three of them met up with Amelia and her escort on her way home after visiting a neighboring kingdom. She promptly left her retinue and joined her old comrades. And so the four headed toward Zefilia.
Lina pointed as the village came into view. "That's it. And there - that red roof - that's where she works."
"Cephid Knight, isn't she?" Zelgadis asked. Lina winced. "Please don't remind me." Her usually mischievous eyes were clouded. "You have no idea what it's like to have a sister you love and fear at the same time."
"I wish my sister was still at home." Amelia said wistfully. Her elder sister had ran away quite awhile ago. "I barely even remember her."
"Dera always complains about her brothers and sisters." Gourry recalled.
"She also said that Xelloss was the best out of the lot." Zelgadis said amusedly.
"Then I don't even want to imagine what the rest are like." Lina snorted as they reached the village.
"Lina? Lina Inverse?" a young girl with curly brown hair was standing in the doorway of one of the houses. She was holding a baby in her arms.
"Kate?" Lina exclaimed.
"It is you!" Kate cried. "I can't believe you're really here! Welcome back!!" her face slightly darkened. "You won't ... blow up half the village again, will you?"
"^^; ... Of course not." Lina laughed.
"Will you step in for a mintue?"
"Thanks, but we have to go see -"
"Luna-sama?" Kate finished. "She's not back yet. She took a trip to the Temple of Cephid. I'm sure she'll be back soon. In the meantime, why don't you and your friends join us for dinner? I'm sure Philip wouldn't mind."
"Sure!" Lina smacked
her lips at the smell of beef coming from within. Her friends were also faint
with hunger, They thanked Kate as they stepped inside, ready to eat her out
of house and home.
Up on Mt Olympus, things were rather noisy. The ground trembled and shook slightly, and everyone guessed that Demeter was riled.
They guessed accurately - Demeter was furious. She slammed her staff into the floor as she faced her nephew. "I said no, Ares!"
"Come on, Demeter." Ares begged.
"If you think I would ever ever let you have Espasia, let me assure you right here and now I would not, not until Helios drives his chariot over the western horizon." Demeter snapped.
"She's just a servant, for heaven's sake." Ares pointed out.
"She is not a servant - not that I would let you have her if she was. She is my adopted daughter and the sole survivor of the Dark Moon faery clan. And I hope you know that even if was crazy enough to let you have her, Hecate would be on your back in an instant." Demeter smirked. Hecate was the goddess of the Dark Moon.
"Just forget it, Ares." Athena advised. "You know Demeter."
"And Demeter knows me, I'm sure." he snarled. "Hades did it once with Persephone, don't think I can't."
"Is that a threat?" Demeter flew up, her golden eyes burning. Aphrodite laughed and pulled her down. "Calm down, Demeter, Ares is just trying to make you mad."
"I don't know." Apollo mused as Ares stormed out of the pavilon. "I'd keep an eye on Espasia if I were you."
"I will. But Espasia can defend herself." Demeter said empathetically as she returned to the document she had been reading.
It was a typical afternoon on Mt Olympus. Ares had been pestering Demeter to give him Espasia - her adopted daughter and ruler of her house when she was gone. Persephone now lived with Hades, and Demeter cherished Espasia as much as she had cherished Persephone.
"Where is Espasia now?" Hera asked Demeter.
"At the foot of Mt Olympus, with Seph." Demeter replied. "I'd better go get them before the sun sets."
"I'll give you an extra hour, if you'd like." Helios whispered in her ear as she stood up. Demeter laughed and they shared a lingering kiss before she walked out.
She motioned for her retinue to stay put as she transported herself to the foot of Mt Olympus, where she found her golden haired daughter picking flowers. Espasia was nowhere in sight.
"Hello, Seph." Demeter greeted her daughter. Persephone kissed her mother and showed her the flowers she had picked. She longed for blossoms in the dark Underworld, and a chance like this was rare.
"Where is Espasia?" Demeter asked.
"I don't know." Persephone shrugged. "She'll be here presently, I suppose - she wandered off a little bit to find some bluebells."
"Oh? I'd better go find her .." Demeter glanced at the sky, which was already turning purple as the sun started to dip below the western horizon. Being off Olympus in Goddess form was dangerous. She left Persephone and searched here and there for her other daughter.
"Demeter-sama!!" Espasia suddenly appeared. Demeter was relieved. "Where have you been?!"
"Demeter-sama, hurry!" Espasia dragged her lady to where Persephone was. "They're after Seph - they said they would kidnap her to threaten you .."
"What? What are you talking about? Who could capture a daughter of Olym -"
Demeter turned pale and stopped in the middle of her sentence as she remembered something from a few months ago. About the kingdom she and Lina had turned into a sea of fire. The king - Marc - was said to be a friend of the Mazoku, and cousin to Mutor, the king of Gaer and commander of an army that rivaled Cephid's own. And Persephone had no fighting powers ...
Demeter and Espasia hurried to the spot where Persephone has been. A white cloth bearing a message greeted them, Demeter read its contents and looked up with fire in her eyes.
"Demeter-sama?" Espasia looked scared. "What is it? Have they taken her?"
" ... " Demeter
took out her emerald band and set it on her head. Her aura vanished, and her
outfit changed to that of a traveling gypsy - into Dera. She recited a quick
summoning spell, and a horse appeared by her side. She mounted, and with a "Hurry
up, Espasia, the sun is almost about to set." she sped off into the growing
darkness. Espasia tried to gather her senses and figure out what had just happened
as she hesitantly transported herself back up Mt Olympus.
"Ah~ ~" Lina leaned back in her chair. "That was a good meal."
The rest of her friends agreed with her as they patted her stomachs. Kate glanced at the pile of plates and laughed nervously.
"I wonder what's taking unee so long." Lina said presently. "She should be home - it's almost dark."
Just then there was a knock on the door. Lina froze and turned a curious shade of blue. Kate went to open the door.
"Are you that scared of your sister?" Gourry whispered.
Kate returned with a scroll in her hand. "No one there but this lettter .."
Lina started breathing again. "God, I'm never going to live through this."
Zelgadis took the scroll and unrolled it to see what was inside. His face changed as he read it. "Lina, you should read this."
Lina took the scroll and glanced at it. Amelia read it over her shoulder.
"Dear Miss Inverse
Your sister is in our hands. Care to come get her? We promise to provide entertainment for both of you."
It was unsigned, but Lina knew who it was. "Marc ... "
"King Marc has captured Cephid's Knight?!" Gourry exclaimed. "No way, that's impossible!"
Lina crumpled the note in her hand. "I swear I'm going to kill him ... "
"Wait a sec." Zelgadis said coolly as she started to stalk towards the door. "Are you even sure where he is?"
"Isn't it obvious? He's probably with Mutor ... who is going to find his kingdom in tiny pieces by the time I get there." Lina marched out of the house, her friends at her tail. "Wait a minute Lina, are you going by yourself?"
"Luna's my sister ... I don't see any need to drag you guys into it." she snapped.
"But we're your comrades." Gourry reminded her, putting a strong hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him, and suddenly drew her hand over her eyes. " ... Thank you."
"Good luck!" Kate
shouted as the friends started out again. The light of the full moon lighted