I'm a powerful swordsman who has been seeking someone for quite a while. Every time we meet and are going to fight, we get interrupted by someone and he runs off! How are we supposed to settle the score if he won't stay put? It's enough to make me want to kill something!
-- Pissed off in Sairag
Hmm... Amelia studied the letter for a moment. It didn't seem too difficult, but then again, it was her first one, so she'd better make sure to answer it well. This had been a good idea, a perfect use for her talents. She could give people advice and lead them down the path of justice! Slowly she put pen to paper.
Dear Pissed Off,
Fighting is wrong, especially if you can find some other way to settle the matter. However, if you really have to, then you should try to make arrangements ahead of time. Maybe your problem is just your timing. Careful planning and consideration can fix that.
"Well, that wasn't so bad, was it.?"
I've been traveling with this sorceress for a long time. She's greedy, eats more than I do, and has no bust to speak of, but somehow I've fallen for her anyway. The only problem is, she's also got a short temper, and if I tell her how I feel, she'll probably fry me with her dragon slave. She thinks I'm just an idiot, and is only traveling with me so she can try to convince me to hand over my sword of light. Is the situation hopeless?
-- Clueless on the road
Poor guy, Amelia thought wryly. It sounds like he's having a pretty bad time of it. Makes me think of someone else I know. Well, in her opinion, love and justice should always prevail! So she quickly scribbled down a reply.
If you're really in love with this girl you should tell her how you feel. Being quiet about it isn't helping either of you in the long run. You'll never find out anything if you don't try, right? Besides, chances are if she's as bad as you say, she'll get more angry if she were to find out on her own without you telling her.
"I just hope that helps..."
This guy I know recently came up to me and told me he was in love. My first instinct was to hunt down the girl and fry her, of course, but the dummy didn't tell me who she was! Now I feel pretty stupid, because I've sort of had it bad for this guy for a long time, but I never told him so. Is it too late to do something?
-- Frustrated and Puzzled out at Sea
Amelia sweat dropped slightly as she read that letter. "She sounds like a really scary person... I'm glad I'm not the one that guy likes... But I've got to write something..."
Given your hot temper, maybe he's not as much of a dummy as you thought not to tell you who she was. But I know that's not what you want to hear. Well then, how about this: It's never too late to do something about your feelings. True love will always prevail in the end after all -- so if he doesn't love you back, you'll know it wasn't meant to be.
"Ok... another sticky situation down. Way to go!"
I'm in love, and I heard you give good advice. The girl I want is princess and sort of a justice fighter, and as if that wasn't bad enough, her father is a complete loony! She thinks I'm cold, but that's just because I don't believe she should have to be stuck with someone like me. I know she loves me too, and that makes it that much the worse when I hurt her feelings. I know it's all for her own good, so why is it so damned hard to do?
-- Cursed and Alone
"Oh my..." Amelia stared at the neat script for a long time. She had the strangest feeling of déjà vu every time she read the words. For some reason it just hit a nerve. Hesitantly she reached out a pen and slowly started to write.
What is it exactly that makes you think she's too good for you? Being a princess surely isn't the only reason. You sound like you're trying to be noble, but I doubt she understands. Why don't you explain how you feel to her and see what she thinks?
"That one was hard..." She murmured as she folded the letter from Cursed and put it away in her jewelry box. Sooner or later, the little itch in the back of her mind would let her know why, but for now she merely kept it around.
I tried doing what you said, but that coward ran away again! And the little witch traveling with him blew me away with a diem wing spell! I'm beginning to tire of this. You must have some better advice!
-- REALLY Pissed-Off in Sandoria
"Uh oh... an unsatisfied customer!" Amelia wrung her hands. "Now what am I going to do?"
Dear REALLY Pissed-Off,
Why don't you try making your challenge a public one. Making it as official as possible will make it almost impossible for any fighter worth his salt to back down.
She kept this message as short as she could, and sighed with relief when it was finally done and sent away.
I told the sorceress how I feel, but for some reason she seemed very angry. Now she's moping a lot and keeps staring at me when she thinks I'm not looking. I know it's not that time of month, so I can't think of any reason she's acting so strange. She's even eating less! It's SCARING me! HELP!!!
-- Clueless and confused
"Uh oh..." Amelia drooped slightly as she realized this was another person she had given advice to. It looked like her advice hadn't been enough... Oh well, she could do better!
I'm afraid I don't have much I can tell you at the moment. But if you really are that concerned about her, make sure to keep reminding her that you're her friend no matter what. Women really like that kind of reassurance. With luck, she'll get everything sorted out and be back to her old self in no time.
I've been trying and trying, but somehow I just can't find a perfect time to admit how I feel to the guy I love... There have been all sorts of interruptions, and recently, when I finally got some time alone with him, he just put his hand on my forehead and asked if I was feeling ok! And now we've just found out we've got to go to Seirun, because some crazy guy challenged him to a public fight in the arena there! Things are going way downhill! It makes me want to throw a fireball at someone!
-- Frustrated and Annoyed
"They're coming HERE?" Amelia swallowed nervously. "Well, at least they don't know who I really am, so she can't fry ME for giving bad advice..."
Have you ever considered an anger management class? But seriously, maybe this can be a good thing. All fighters like to be sent off with an announcement of love, and perhaps a token. It's the perfect romantic scenario!
"I'm so glad this woman doesn't know my name..."
I'd love to tell you, but I don't think there's anyway I could possibly make you understand the depth of my problem in a letter like this. Thank you for trying to help me anyway, but I need to go to Seirun because a friend of mine just got a challenge letter and I need to be there to provide some backup in case the guy pulls something.
-- Cursed and Alone
It was another letter from Cursed, and Amelia was relieved to get it. Whoever this guy was, she felt a strange empathy for him. "Poor guy..." Then another realization hit. "He's coming HERE!?" She wrung her hands. "And he doesn't know I'm here... darn it!" But if she could find out when this challenge was going on... maybe she could meet him anyway. For some strange reason, she had a really strong need to help the poor guy out.
For a moment the handsome stone face of a certain chimera flashed through her mind, and she fought down a slight wave of guilt. "Mr. Zelgadis doesn't like me anyway...so I guess I've got nothing to lose..."
I'm sorry to hear that you feel that way. You say your friend got a challenge in Seirun? I hope it won't turn out to be some brawl in the streets. I have a feeling the guards there won't like it much.
"Ok...now all he's got to do is reply... I hope he takes the bait."
Amelia checked her mail. There were four letters sitting on her desk, the most she had gotten in a single day. The names were all familiar. They were from her four regular customers: Pissed Off, Clueless, Frustrated and Cursed. She wanted to read the letter from Cursed first... but she forced herself to start with one of the others.
I made the challenge official, like you said. It's being held at the arena in Seirun on the 24th of June. Since you helped me out, I've decided to be generous and invite you to watch me kick this guy's butt. Thanks a lot.
-- Still Pissed-Off (but not as much) in Seirun
"Another weirdo has come to town... these people are haunting me, I swear!" She groaned as she tossed the letter into the trash. "And inviting me to watch, no less! He's nuts." She scooped the next letter off the pile. It was written in a neat printed script.
I think the sorceress must think I've lost my mind or something, either that or she's lost hers. She's giving me some really strange glances, and whenever I look at her, she kind of giggles like she's hiding something. I'm seriously wondering if I shouldn't run while I still can. It'll have to be later though, because I'll be getting into Seirun soon for a match with an old enemy of mine...
-- Clueless and Scared
"Not this guy too... Seirun must be getting really popular for some reason... everyone wants to come here and fight people." With a sigh she tossed the letter from Clueless onto the floor and picked up the letter from Frustrated, which was written in a flowing, elegant script. It was also very short, barely a line long.
I've decided to do it! I'm going to tell him how I feel before his big fight!
-- Frustrated but Hopeful
"At least that seems to have worked out ok..." Amelia finally turned to the letter from Cursed, her breath catching in her throat as she opened it carefully, admiring the slanted writing.
Sorry to have to ignore your advice, and I'm not too worried about my friend, he can take care of himself. I'm only going to be there to make sure nothing unexpected happens. We shouldn't be stopped by any city guards because we arranged to have the arena on the 24th way ahead of time. Again, my apologies.
-- Cursed and Alone
"YES!!!" She had a date, she had a place. She froze as she realized just what the date was. "THAT'S TODAY!!!" She looked at the sun which was starting to ride high in the sky. "Oh no..." Quickly she snatched up all the letters and stuffed them into her knapsack, which she carried in one hand as she dashed out the front gates of the palace.
She looked around... She hadn't expected the place to be so crowded... she would never find Cursed in this mess... With a mournful sigh she turned to leave, only to hear a voice calling out her name.
"Hey, Amelia!" She recognized that cheerful tone.
"Mr. Gourry!" She turned back to greet the swordsman, and saw Lina there with him. That wasn't entirely unexpected, but she was surprised to see Zelgadis there as well. "Miss Lina! Mr. Zelgadis, what are you all doing here?"
"Just a bit of pest control," Lina said. She was looking up at Gourry with a suspicious hint of blush to her cheeks. "They're about to get started, Gourry...You'd better get out there before Zangalus throws a fit or something."
Amelia blinked, looking from one to the other and trying to figure out what was going on. Had she missed Cursed's match?
Lina's voice rang out again as Gourry started to walk towards the center of the arena, startling Amelia out of her disappointed thoughts.
"Hey Gourry! Hold on a second!"
"Lina?" Gourry's blue eyes were wide beneath his golden spill of hair. "Is something wrong?"
"No... it's nothing like that..." Lina trailed off for a moment, hesitated. Then finally she blurted out something so fast it was barely understandable. "ILOVEYOU!"
"What?" Huge sweat drops formed on the heads of everyone within hearing range.
"I said..." Lina took a deep breath, "I said I love you, you moron!" She glared at Gourry as if daring him to challenge her statement. He just stood there, looking like a fish out of water, his mouth hanging open slightly.
"Uh...." He was apparently shell-shocked. Amelia couldn't blame him.
"Hey, are we going to fight or what?" Zangalus hopped over the rail impatiently, stomping over to the group. His elbow banged into Amelia's shoulder, knocking her over. Her knapsack hit the floor, the letters inside scattering to the wind. She didn't hit ground though, because Zel reached out and steadied her with one strong arm.
"T...Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis." She looked up in horror as the letters swirled down among the crowd. Lina frowned and caught one as it fell down.
"Hey! That's MY letter! How did it get here!" Gourry stared over Lina's shoulder at the letter.
"M...Mr. Gourry? You're Clueless!?" Amelia nearly fell over as she began to put the pieces together. "But..."
"You wrote to the 'Ask Amelia' column too?" Lina stared at the letter, looking shell-shocked. She swallowed and looked up at the swordsman, who seemed both embarrassed and nervous.
"Y...yeah..." Gourry blinked. "What do you mean, 'too'? Did you write her Lina?"
"Miss Lina... you're Frustrated, aren't you?"
"Well she doesn't look very frustrated to me, more like confused." Zangalus sounded icy. "And I for one am getting very pissed-off about being ignored yet again."
That also sounded familiar, and another piece of the puzzle clicked into place. She mouthed the word 'pissed-off' under her breath. A letter fluttered to the ground at her feet and she bent down to pick it up. A strong hand reached down at the same time, and closed over hers, quite inadvertently. She flushed and looked up into Zel's handsome face, feeling suddenly lightheaded.
His expression was one of confusion, mingled with disbelief. He moved his hand slowly, allowing her to pick up the letter. It was the one from Cursed, and now she had a really good idea just who 'Cursed' was. "Mr. Zelgadis...?"
For a moment it seemed he would say something, but slowly he shook his head, dashing her hopes. "We'll talk about this later... There's still a fight." His words turned Amelia's attention back to the others.
Zangalus had his sword out, and was glaring grimly at Lina and Gourry, who were both occupied with staring at each other. "Fight me!"
A small sigh escaped Lina's lips. "You'd better hurry up and beat him, Gourry."
The sorceress cut off his protests by reaching up, grabbing a handful of blond hair and pulling him down into kissing range. She then planted a small peck on his cheek. "Beat him and there's more where that came from." Her voice was pitched barely low enough for Amelia to hear, even as close as she was.
The swordsman's eyes glazed for a moment, then he shook his head to clear it and drew his sword, a sudden feral grin on his lips. "Well then, are we going to fight?"
The black-haired fighter had barely opened his mouth to reply when Gourry jumped into the arena, drawing his sword in mid-air. Zangalus grinned and brought his sword around in a wide arc that could not fail to miss...
"PAY ATTENTION MORON!!!" Lina's voice was a roar. Amelia gasped and covered her eyes. Zel flinched for a moment, then froze.
There wasn't a sound for several long seconds. Slowly Amelia dared to bring her hands away from her face and snatch a glimpse of what was going on. She gasped when she saw what had happened.
Gourry hadn't bothered to try blocking the blow. He had simply reached up and grabbed the blade of Zangalus's sword, effectively halting the swing. It probably hurt too, considering that there was a thin trickle of blood running out from beneath his glove. With his free hand he had flipped his own sword around and driven the hilt into his enemy's stomach, knocking the air out him. Slowly Zangalus crumpled to the ground.
"Alright!!! We have a winner!" Amelia jumped down into the arena and landed flat on her face. When she finally managed to get up, she went to meet Gourry, but he had already vanished. She glanced around in puzzlement, and saw Zel pointing one finger.
"I won!" Gourry was standing next to Lina, his eyes bright and hopeful.
"So I see... Well, how about this," Lina leaned against the swordsman, looking smug and languid, like a cat who has just gotten exactly what it wanted. "You remember that dinner promise from way back when?" He nodded and she continued. "Well, I've finally decided to take you up on it..." Her hand closed over his and she dragged him off in the direction of the best restaurant in Seirun.
"Didn't she promise Mr. Gourry that she'd buy him dinner?" Amelia blinked.
"Of course she did. But he's not going to remember that, is he?" Zelgadis came up behind her, and offered her a smile that was nearly timid. "So... Amelia... Are you still answering those letters?" His voice was quiet.
"Y...yes..." It hadn't been what she'd been expecting him to ask at all. "I am."
"Well then... that's good." He turned away, using his levitation spell to fly over the far wall of the arena.
"Mr. Zelgadis..." Sudden tears welled up in Amelia's eyes as she realized he had just effectively run out on her.
Amelia stared at the unopened letters on her desk. She didn't feel like answering them right now, even though they had been starting to stack up over the last two days. Maybe this had all been a bad idea to begin with... With a sigh, she rested her head in her hands and continued moping. She tried to take comfort in the fact that her advice had gotten Miss Lina and Mr. Gourry together, but somehow it wasn't helping.
A knock at the door startled her into awareness, and she turned as it opened, eyes wide. Who could it...
A familiar figure in a long cloak entered the room. He hesitated as he saw the unopened stack of letters on Amelia's desk. "Are you not answering letters anymore?" He glanced down at the envelope he held in his hand, then slowly offered it to her.
She took it, feeling a slight tingle run through her fingertips as they brushed his. Slowly she opened the unsealed flap and pulled the letter out.
I guess it was foolish of me not to figure out it was you I was writing to. I guess I sort of assumed Amelia was a common name. Either that or I didn't think it was something a princess would do. But then again, you're no ordinary princess.
She glanced up at him, wondering if that was a compliment or an insult. He waved at her to keep reading, so she went back to the letter.
In light of this revelation, I wasn't really sure what to write. I couldn't very well say that I love you...
Amelia swallowed painfully, then sighed in relief as she read the next lines.
Because you already found that out two days ago. And I know you love me, so you don't need to say that either. I would like to apologize for leaving so hastily the other day, but I needed some time to get my thoughts sorted out on paper.
Without speaking, she nodded in agreement with that last remark.
So I went ahead and wrote you this letter. I think that it just about covers the gist of what I'm trying to say to you. I still plan to go ahead and keep looking for my cure...
That was all? Amelia frowned as she saw the signature. She'd been hoping for... well, something more positive. Maybe even... A few words written near the bottom of the letter in small script caught her eyes, and she had to read it twice to make sure she understood it correctly. A small squeak rose in her throat, and she picked up a pen and scribbled something beneath it, at the very bottom margin of the letter. Then she leapt out of the chair and gave Zel the biggest, longest kiss she could manage. And that WAS some kiss.
As Zel staggered under Amelia's sudden pounce, the trailing end of his cloak knocked the letter onto the floor.
On it, in very small letters at the bottom were the sentences: But I hope we can find it together. Will you marry me?
Below the question was the word "YES" written all in capitals, underlined, circled, starred and followed by no less than five exclamation marks.