hile Lina was busy gnawing on roast leg of animals as of yet unidentified, Gourry was busy studying the room.
    He didn't have a keen analytical mind, but he did know what a proper celebration was like.  His family tended to party at the drop of a hat.  New baby in the family?  Barbecue.  Someone died?  Pork chops.  Little Billy lost his first tooth?  Steak night.  And while there was plenty of meat on the table, there was an important element missing.
    "Nobody here is having any fun," Gourry said.
    Lina, who was busy filling her stomach, paused between bites to talk.  "What (munch) makes (gumph) you (mmm!) say (chomp) that (gnaw) Gourry?"
    "Well.. look at them," Gourry said, gesturing.
    The chimeras were busy partying down.  Apparently, Chi'Leas had set up a welcoming committee, of a number of stone faced folks -- in that they didn't express much elation at the wondrous coming of the Knight of Chaos.  There were banners reading WELCOME and some folks were setting off firecrackers and party streamers were in abundance... and yes, a few smiles... but they didn't feel right.
    "Okay, so they're not the most exciting folks in the world," Lina shrugged, setting a chicken (hopefully) bone down.  "What's the problem?"
    Gourry leaned over in his chair, and tapped the chimera sitting next to him.  "Excuse me, why are you throwing this party?"
    "To celebrate the Knight of Chaos coming to help us," the man said simply.
    "How do you feel about it?"
    "Good," he said, in the same tone one would say 'nine'.
    "Just good?"
    The chimera seemed confused.  "I'm supposed to be happy about it, right?  I am happy."
    Lina paused before she began on the next chicken leg.
    "I think I see what you mean," she said.  "What gives?"
    "What do you mean, copies?" Zelgadis asked, alarmed.
    "Copies to avoid our end," Chi'Leas sighed.  "It's our greatest sin against Chaos.  To avoid the random end of a mortal person, we've been re-using the stone of dead chimeras in rituals to resurrect them, again and again.  Slowly losing something in the process... I have been recreated sixteen times so far.  Chi'Leas, the elder, again and again, through time to fill his function..."
    Zelgadis didn't follow.  "Why are you telling me this?"
    "Everything changes," Chi'Leas said.  "We've lost our humanity.  Don't you understand what that means, Zelgadis?  I can see it in your eyes.  You are human."
    "Are you going blind, old man?  I'm a chimera--"
    "Humanity isn't just a species, it's a frame of mind," Chi'Leas said.  "We've lost ours.  We're beings of order now, going through the paces of our lives, emotions slowly bled out of us with each resurrection.  But what could we do?  We can't reproduce naturally to keep us going, not being such a wide variety of chimeric lifeforms."
    "Ridiculous.  Your daughter, Chi'Nai--"
    "My daughter, she... my daughter is gone.  Her smile, her laugh, her personality... all drained over the years, and she didn't even notice.  I'm the only one alive who knows what our way of life will lead to.  I do the ceremonies that keep us going.  There is no spark of humanity left in us, just a dry shell, repeating forever in perfect order, in perfect isolation Below.  You saw those statues on the way in?  Chimera who realized what was happening to them, and wanted nothing more to do with it.  All that's left is the stone.  I've kept on.  I held my emotions, no matter how wild and unpredictable they could be... so I could REMEMBER all this.  And wait."
    Zelgadis sat in stunned amazement.  The giddily happy old guy, now leaning heavily on the railing of his balcony, a great weight on his shoulders... and dumping it onto Zelgadis's in return.
    "What are you waiting for?" Zel asked, hesitant to speak.  "It's Lina, isn't it?"
    Chi'Leas shook his head.  "Lina is Chaos embodied, and she will hopefully save us all.  But... you.  I was actually waiting for you.  I saw you, in my dreams, several weeks ago."
    Zelgadis's weird meter started ringing like a hotwired alarm bell.  He briefly considered running.
    The elder walked over to his easel.  "I saw you in a cave.  And I saw this."  He pulled the cover off his easel.
    ...kneeling before a chained goddess; a woman who, despite being bound to her altar, was blessing them.  Then they'd walk off beyond the altar, and be transformed from chimera to human...
    The vision vanished, replaced by the more simplistic painting.  Zel stepped forward, ignoring his weirdness meter, and spoke.
    "The colors are wrong," he said.  "The altar isn't gold, it's silver.  Plus, the hair on the figure there should be yellow, not gray.  It's reversed, gold to silver, silver to gold."
    "But is the rest right?  Did I see what I thought I saw?" Chi'Leas asked.  "The chimera being restored to humanity?"
    "That's what I saw," Zel agreed.  A pang of reason hit him.  "But how did you see what I saw?"
    "The winds of chaos blow in strange ways," Chi'Leas said reverently.  "Perhaps I'm one of the only ones among us who truly believe in our Lord, despite my sins.  The rest just go through the motions, as they would anything else in the day.  But I can feel when my mind goes, starting to break down and lose its emotions... do you know how hard it is, me speaking to you like this, trying to form every word and not fly off on a tangent?"
    "Then WHY are you doing this??" Zelgadis asked, frustrated.
    "You can help," Chi'Leas said, grasping at Zel's shoulder, leaning; he was getting tired from the effort.  "We're not gone, not dead.  I can feel it somewhere inside me.  We need to be awakened, restored from our prisons of stone.  There is power in your journey, power to be harnessed once it's understood, and you can understand it.  You've seen visions from the Lake of Reflections, haven't you?  None of us can see those things!  Not anymore.  You're only a chimera on your skin, Zelgadis, no matter what you think.  Skin means nothing!  You're just the right person with the right qualities at the right time.  You ARE a human, and you can help us!"
    Zelgadis supported the man, who now was near collapse.  The younger man's eyes were wide with terrified delight.  "What.. what can I do about this?  Lina's the Knight, not me!  The one who's probably center of more prophecies than I can count on three hands!"
    "Help her," Chi'Leas begged.  "Help her understand, understand what she has to do..."
    "I don't know what she has to do.  I didn't even know she was this Knight thing until a day ago!"
    Something changed in Chi'Leas's eyes.  He shifted, away from his focused concentration, back to the shaky emotional ground he addressed Lina through.  This relaxed him tremendously, more stable, while not stable at all.
    "I think.. I need a nap," he said.  "Yes yes, a nap would be good.  Rest is just the ticket for a solid day's work, after all.  Isn't that right, boy?  Right, that's right."
    "Hey, don't flip out on me here!" Zelgadis ordered.  "What do you want me to do?  Simple words only!"
    "Do?  Do, do, mmm... why don't you be a nice lad, and take my daughter down to the reflecting pool?" Chi'Leas suggested.  "Very relaxing place, very nice.  She'd like that.  She's so sullen lately, not like when she was young... I'll go rest, rest is good..."
    He elder looked at his blue sky and balcony, before shuffling to the door.
    "I'm a silly old man with silly chimera wishes, you know, lad," he said.  "About as crazy as a blue sky underneath the ground.  But who knows?  If a nice sunny day in this place is possible, what other things could be possible?"
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
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