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Slayers: Alive

By Mikari

Humor / Romance

Chapter 1

Due to peculiar circumstances, Xellos ends up with a deadly curse that can only be broken by the willing kiss of a golden dragon. A tricky conspiracy lurks in the shadows, as the ultimate enemy that stands against the Mother of All Things awakens.

Slayers: Alive

Episode 001: Danger! The Deadly Curse

"Bring in the next course!" Lina Inverse, the gluttonous sorceress extraordinaire, was currently passing by the kingdom of Seyruun, which meant of course, stopping by the palace to visit her dear friend Amelia and her lovely royal chefs. Amelia, being the kind hostess she was, found herself in the blissful obligation to provide Lina with enough food to fill her stomach, the same applying to Gourry. She didn't mind though, Zelgadis had run into Lina on the road to Seyruun and decided to tag along, Amelia was all too happy to see him.

The sun was shining, the land was peaceful and everything was all around just fine, unless you're an exhausted overworked chef. That was why, in the midst of this peace and quiet in the city of white magic, no one expected him to show up. Yet there he was, and the peculiarly observant would notice that he was not happy with his current location, but there seemed to be something else that bothered him so much more, something that he would eloquently describe, should anyone inquire about it, as a secret.

"Mr. Xellos?" Amelia blinked looking at the new arrival escorted to the royal dining hall by one of the castle guards.

"So this is one of your friends, princess," the guard confirmed, taking the monarch's recognition of the suspicious purple haired man as proof enough that he could be trusted. "Have a good time with your visit," the guard excused himself, leaving just as suddenly as he came, but without the company of the unexpected guest.

Lina had to actually pause in her eating and turn her head towards Xellos with imaginary interrogation symbols all over her face. "What are you doing here?" She asked with her mouth still half full before turning her attention back to the food on the table and realizing that Gourry had finished eating all the barbecued ribs during her short distraction. "My ribs! Gourry, those were mine!" Their usual antics followed as they disconnected themselves from the rest of the world.

Amelia and Zelgadis however, were still waiting for Xellos' reply, perplexed about his presence and, in the chimera's case, not at all glad for it. "I just thought I should come to visit," Xellos grinned that familiar little grin that seemed to annoy everyone, which was his purpose anyway.

"Like we're going to believe that," Zelgadis accused, clearly suspicious and with good reasons. "What kind of trouble do you have in mind this time?"

"Oh, there is no such thing," Xellos innocently replied, though he was indeed thinking of something very troublesome, but this time it was troublesome for himself. He couldn't help it though, it was the tradition of every hundred years and he would look like a coward if he didn't attend. It was the monster's version of truth or dare. All the high level monsters, Xellos included of course, would get together and play their version of the classic game.

Most of the time, the players would choose truth, being placed under an instant curse that would destroy them if they lied. The peculiarity was that the asker could throw out up to a hundred questions concerning a single subject matter, so ambiguous yet truthful answers wouldn't be enough to get past the curse, only enough to delay it until the cursed was pushed to a verbal corner and had no choice but to reveal the coveted truth or lie and die. The death in itself would provide a hint at the truth, thus making it pointless to sacrifice themselves for those who valued a secret more than their life. It was a grand way to obtain information, every one hundred years during their little reunion.

Xellos was well informed about a number of things and served as a great source of information every century. The monsters would draw lots at random with each name being available once and cheating being punishable by a deadly curse whether they got caught or not. It was every monster's wish to draw Xellos' name and interrogate him about some important strategic matter, inquiring about every little thing concerning some topic of significant power. This time though, Xellos couldn't risk it. He had been order to keep his mouth shut or be killed by his superior, which meant that he had to choose dare, otherwise he would be killed by the curse if he remained silent. It was a matter of survival since being absent and coming off as the biggest coward in monster history was simply not an option, Beast Master would probably kill him for that too.

After expecting a valuable source of information to be handed to him in a silver platter by the good fortune of having drawn Xellos' name, the monster whose name is of no importance was sorely disappointed. Xellos chose to undergo a dare, which shocked all those present and filled them with interest. Angered, the monster in question took a hasty and humiliating revenge, "I dare you to... have a golden dragon willingly kiss you, standard time limit." Oh yes, the dares did have a time limit to be accomplished and Xellos could already feel the seconds ticking in his mind as his eye twitched.

"I will accomplish this dare as it is demanded of me," Xellos growled and promptly killed the monster who threw such misery upon him and that was why his name was of no importance, he was dead anyway. Of course the curse itself was another story, a product of the united power of all the attending monsters, even Xellos himself. There was no escape even if the one who dared him was dead. Worse yet, there was no cheating either. He couldn't just pop out of thin air, plant a kiss on a golden dragon and call it done; the dragon had to kiss him.

Thus that brings us back to the current scenario. Xellos had chosen his target to be Filia with some obscure plan involving emotional manipulation forming in the back of his mind, yet not fully matured yet. His strategizing was sluggish and Xellos hated it, he blamed it on the terrible dread that was in fact so terrible that not even a monster who enjoyed negative emotions could enjoy it. He decided that a simple process of information gathering was in order, least he made a mess that caused the prospect of being kissed by Filia to become even less likely, so as to not say impossible, than it already was. It was time well invested in the end, all for the sake of doing things properly and not wasting his chance, it wasn't stalling at all.

Thus Xellos felt the need to involve Lina and her friends by embarking in an odd quest to make them kiss each other. Xellos was no romance expert; he knew nothing about love except for the fact that it was unhealthy, him being a monster and all. Even if this put his health in even more danger, none the less he needed to observe. Under Zelgadis' impatient glare, Xellos continued, "I simply came to invite you all to go on vacation." He produced a group of tickets from his cloak holding them up with a grin. "This resort is renowned for several reasons, one of them being the grand buffet, they say the cuisine knows no rival and it's all you can eat. I've already taken care of all the arrangements, so the buffet is completely free."

The mention of free food caught Lina and Gourry's interest instantly. "How do we know this isn't a trap?" Lina raised a suspicious eyebrow, when something sounded too good to be true, it probably was, especially if Xellos was involved.

"Why don't you go and see for yourself?" Xellos suggested, knowing that there were few believable excuses he could give, plus he wasn't going to waste his time on them. Lina wasn't convinced, but that changed when Xellos tossed a bag of golden coins in her direction. Lina caught the plain brown pouch and looked inside, her eyes lighting up in pleasure. "That's a security deposit; if I'm lying you can keep it."

"Tell you what, Xellos," Lina grinned greedily. "If you give me this as spending money I'll go on that vacation. After all, what's a vacation without being able to buy souvenirs?"

"Very well, I should have expected as much," and he did. With Lina and therefore Gourry ready to go, Xellos turned to his next victims of trickery. "This particular resort also has quite a collection of magical books, I'm sure they're quite interesting."

"Not buying it," Zelgadis grunted. "You may be able to trick Lina and Gourry into this but not me."

"I understand..." Xellos feigned resignation. "Lina, Gourry and I will go on ahead and you can stay here... it's clear you want some time alone with Miss Amelia."

Zelgadis and Amelia promptly blushed with Zelgadis letting out a stream of incoherent excuses as he mentally cursed Xellos, not knowing that the monster was already cursed. The stream of gibberish ended up with an embarrassed, "fine I'll go," with Amelia adding a similar barely audible acceptance. Thus the group set off towards Filia's residence, because Xellos insisted that he wanted to invite her too.

xoxox xox xoxox

The trip to Filia's shop in a city a considerable distance away, went strangely without any problems. Lina and Gourry scared a few innkeepers with their voracious appetites that drained a hole in Xellos' wallet as Lina insisted that he paid since he invited them on the excursion. There was also the occasional unfortunate highwayman who, not knowing who Lina was, demanded that the 'flat-chested girl' gave up all her money and valuables before being ignited by the wrath of a fireball. All in all, it was an okay journey.

The bells attached to the door of Filia's shop chimed as the cheerful shop keeper gave her usual greetings with a smile. "Welcome to-" then she stopped, her smile turning into a scowl, "why are you here?" She pointed an accusing finger at Xellos.

Xellos remained silent for a moment and considered his options. Outright inviting Filia to tag along in a little vacation was both ridiculous and suspicious... but he wasn't in the mood to try too hard. After all, even a monster can feel drained when facing a task so excruciatingly difficult and unpleasant that even getting started feels like a dying effort... maybe literally this time. "You owe the honor of my visit to Amelia over there." He tilted his head in direction to the princess. He didn't like lying, but he simply wasn't in the mood to make an effort.

"Me?" Amelia looked left and right as if something in the atmosphere could provide her with a clue that could help her make sense of Xellos' false claim.

"By the way, here are the tickets you asked me to hold for you," Xellos handed the tickets to Amelia, knowing that in her distraction she wouldn't examine them too closely, at least not until it was too late. "You said some terribly unpleasant things about friendship and what not, but since I'm bored, I'll tag along anyway."

"Oh... yes," Amelia thought she understood. It might have been wishful thinking, but maybe justice had finally found its way into Xellos heart and he was beginning to see the value of friendship. He wanted to express his feelings of companionship to the entire group, Filia included. If that was the case, then Amelia felt the need to assist him by coaxing Filia into joining them by pretending that she was the one who came up with the invitation. Surely then it would be far less suspicious and once they were blissfully vacationing, things would flow on their own. "I wanted to invite all my dear friends to the," she looked at the tickets, "Amor Resort?" Wait a minute, didn't amor translate to love? It sounded like someplace people would visit on their honeymoon, but love was not limited to couples, so there was probably plenty of room for friendship too. "To have fun and celebrate our friendship," Amelia finished.

"Oh..." Filia blinked, recognizing the translation of the word. Though Lina's breathing rhythm went hectic for a split second, she calmed down before anyone could notice her gasp any more then Zelgadis' blush and sideways glance at Amelia. Gourry remained blissfully ignorant. What's in a name anyway? This was about food and magical research and at the very most friendship, not romance. She looked at Xellos suspiciously. "Why would that," she pointed rudely, "even consider acknowledging the existence of friendship?"

Xellos had a good excuse for this, which consisted of guilt tripping Filia, but fate seemed to be in his favor in the face of adversity, as Amelia did it for him. It was about time he caught a break... then again, the hardest path lay ahead. "Miss Filia, I'm sure that a kind person such as yourself can find it in her good heart to overlook the past without holding a grudge and have a fun time with an open mind."

"Well, I..." Filia wasn't sure what to say, but she was giving in. "I suppose that I shouldn't let the presence of such a foul creature stop me from having fun vacationing with the rest of you." It wasn't exactly the type of response Amelia was hoping for, but it was progress. Filia had been working hard, she needed a break. She could leave Gravos and Jillas to take care of Val's egg and the shop for a little while. It would be okay... "Alright, count me in, I'll just have to pretend it's just us good people in the group," she agreed.

Okay, so Filia was not very likely to kiss him any time soon, but she was at least tagging along. Why did Xellos even choose her as the target anyway? Well, she was the easiest to find and manipulate... Yeah, that was it; that had to be it... Right, it was time to start the process of observation and gather data to put into action.

xoxox xox xoxox

The journey the rest of the way to Amor Resort, located on a small island some distance away, was somewhat similar from the journey to Filia's shop. Lina and Gourry stuffed their faces on Xellos' account, Zelgadis and Amelia made polite small talk with each other and Filia conversed with each member of the group equally except Xellos of course, to whom she had only the most varied repertoire of insults. He didn't reply to any of them, holding his tongue as best he could with a fake smile plastered on his face. It was creepy. After a while, Filia was in fact so disturbed that she stopped insulting Xellos in favor of ignoring him, save for the scattered occasions when she shot him a suspicious glare.

When the group of six arrived at the Amor Resort via ferry, they presented their tickets and were given three keys, pertaining to the rooms each couple would share as the clerk assumed. The group thought nothing of the three rooms since no one said anything about sleeping arrangements, and they roomed as they usually did, the girls in one room and the guys in the other, leaving one room vacant.

From there on out, everything went rather well for most of the integrants of the group. The resort was huge and they each had things they wanted to do, so they went their separate ways with Lina and Gourry heading off to the open buffet. Zelgadis went off to check out the library and Amelia tagged along to help in his research. Xellos decided it was time to begin his experiments. Instead of going through the trial and error himself, he would make the others do it for him and copy the winning strategy. Normally he would come up with his own tactics, but he was a monster and winning a kiss was not something his nature allowed him to properly strategize for. Besides, he wanted to get it done as fast and painlessly as possible, let the others suffer the awkwardness in his place. It wasn't stalling, not at all, and it certainly wasn't fear of failure, absolutely not.

xoxox xox xoxox

At an outdoor table in a fancy restaurant with couples all around, Lina and Gourry ate to their heart's content. If they had noticed Xellos sitting a few feet away hidden behind a large potted plant with odd plastic pink leaves, they didn't show it or didn't care. Xellos pondered his next move until his train of thought was interrupted by Filia taking a seat across from him at the table. "I've been thinking," she stated in response to his questioning look. "You've been acting strange lately, which means you're plotting something evil. I don't know what you intend to do, but I won't let you ruin the vacation Amelia so kindly arranged for all of us. Besides..." she admitted with a discreet glance around the fake pink plant, "even if this amusement park has room for friendship, it's obvious that they have room for more. Since I don't want to play the third wheel, it looks like I'll have plenty of time to keep an eye on you."

"Is that so?" Xellos' mind felt awake again. He hated to admit it, even only to himself, but in the privacy of his own mind he knew that he was at a loss of what to do. Essentially, he was playing matchmaker, for observational purposes only, fueled by entirely selfish reasons, but he was playing matchmaker nonetheless. "This means that you won't let me interfere in their developing romance?"

"Aha!" Filia exclaimed, her accusing finger readily pointing at Xellos. "So that's your plan. Naturally, since monsters hate love, you must hate it when people are in love. Well I won't let you ruin this for them. What was planned to be a vacation of friendship might turn into a romantic getaway for Lina and Gourry, and perhaps even more so for Amelia and Zelgadis and you won't get in the way!"

"What if they mess things up on their own?" Xellos inquired purposefully. This part of the plan at least was easy, maybe too easy. Manipulation was one of the many talents that Xellos prided himself in possessing.

"I won't allow it!" Filia firmly declared with unbreakable determination.

"So you're going to play matchmaker for them?" Which would entail unknowingly helping Xellos in his research. Furthermore, the tactics that she considered to be the most effective would probably be the most effective on her. Once the script was complete, Xellos would just have to put up a little act and after a terribly disturbing and most likely absolutely disgusting experience, he would be curse free. Then he could say something mean and break Filia's heart; that would certainly make him feel better after the humiliation of being kissed by a dragon.

"As a matter of fact, I am," Filia all too easily accepted the idea that had been put into her head, believing that it was her idea all along and that Xellos simply guessed it because it was oh so clear that it was her initial intention anyway.

"All of this while keeping an eye on me?" Which in essence meant that she wouldn't mind if he tagged along and observed the entire process unfold. A real grin full of cunning adorned Xellos' face.

Filia didn't like the look on his face, but challenged him with her response, "yes," her eyes adding a silent ' what are you going to do about it?'

"Interesting," Xellos continued to grin in a way that unnerved Filia, but she decided to stay strong and alert. No monster was going to stop the matchmaker extraordinaire... even if she had virtually no experience in romance what so ever. Either way it didn't matter, she had read plenty of love novels and that was more than enough knowledge right there.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 002: Silence! There Are No Words

Xellos, the subject of an unfortunate and terribly humiliating curse watched as Filia, the self proclaimed matchmaker extraordinaire, observed Lina and Gourry, the buffet staff's worse nightmare. The pair a few feet away appeared to be content with munching down on every delicious culinary delicacy they could find in the buffet, apparently without a care in the world. Filia however decided that they needed a little help, a small push in the right direction.

The determined dragon got up from her seat, being followed by Xellos, and headed over to the assortment of candles that was placed on a table in a corner of the open buffet. They were clearly there so that couples could pick out whichever they liked best and place them on their table. She then proceeded to separate the assortment of scents, by smelling each candle closely one by one, until she settled for a rose scented red heart shaped candle.

She paused and wondered how she should go about this. She needed to add the candle to their table somehow, but didn't want to be seen. Then again, given how focused Lina and Gourry were on their food, maybe they wouldn't see her anyway. None the less, she had to at least try to be sneaky, just to be sure. She went down on all fours and crawled towards the table. A perplexed Xellos decided to follow suit, also crawling behind Filia until she stopped abruptly, causing his head to collide with her backside.

The unfortunate, though surely accidental, mishap provoked a tiny undignified squeak to issue from the back of Filia's throat as her hands flew to her behind dropping the candle in the process. With both hands clasped over the 'perversely invaded' area protectively, Filia turned her head towards Xellos and glared. "Just what do you think you're doing?" She growled.

"The same thing you're doing," Xellos replied innocently with an ever present grin.

"Excuse me?" Filia's indignation was evident. I'm not going around touching people without permission," she frowned. This was wrong, Xellos was evil, annoying, perverse, cruel, dishonorable and just downright unpleasant, but not a pervert, she couldn't handle adding that to the already overflowing list.

"Accident, please do proceed with what you were doing before." Xellos encouraged hoping that Filia would just let the matter drop. It's not like he made a habit of smashing his face into dragon tail on purpose.

With a hint of doubt in her eyes, Filia picked up the candle and debated her next action. Having Xellos directly behind her was bad. "If you must tag along, then crawl next to me, not behind me."

"I fail to see the purpose of this," none the less Xellos did as he was told, crawling next to Filia now.

"I want to set a candle on their table so that there's a romantic atmosphere," Filia explained and immediately regretted it. She shouldn't be telling Xellos about her plans so he could ruin them! "Don't try to stop me," she crawled away faster with Xellos keeping up.

"You know, people are staring," Xellos pointed out, not really caring too much, but feeling stupid none the less. However, it was still a good venture. He got to observe not only the matchmaking, but also Filia's behavior, which in the end had to equate to something in his favor when it was time to make his move.

"They're not," Filia whispered, referring to Lina and Gourry who were still focused on their food. The sneaky pair reached the area of the floor next to Gourry and Lina's table. Filia carefully used her laser breath at minimum intensity to light the candle and reached up to place it on the table. She then crawled backwards away from the table and took refuge behind a plastic pink potted plant; the color was rather predominant in the resort.

Gourry was the first one to see the candle; he nonchalantly picked it up, blew it out and took a bite out of it. "Hey! That flaming candy was mine!" Lina snatched away the remainder of the candle and devoured it herself while Gourry protested that he saw it first.

With a horror stricken face, Filia looked back at the candle table, noticing a sign above it that advertised them as 'sweet edible candy candles.' Well at least that explained why Gourry didn't spit it out in disgust, but candles that were promptly eaten wouldn't be around long enough to create much of an atmosphere.

While Xellos did have extensive knowledge about humans, he focused on things such as manipulation and war. Emotional pressure was useful to know about, but romance was not. Okay, so apparently eating candles was romantic. Right, he would have to make a mental note about that.

It didn't look like Filia was anywhere near done yet. She got up and this time walking in a much less crazy manner, made her way over to the jukebox. She searched her pockets for a coin but sadly found she had none, she had left her wallet forgotten in her luggage back in the girls' room. Sighing sadly she felt that she would have to give up on her next hopefully better received mood setting idea: music. "I wish I had a coin." She muttered to herself.

"Here," Xellos offered, eager to see what Filia would do next. He hated to admit it but he was starting to get amused despite the subject of his study being such a terribly fluffy one. Finding amusement in war, destruction and all around chaos was one thing, but in matchmaking? Who would have thought?

"Thank y-" Filia stopped her automatic reply, eyes going from grateful to suspicious. She looked at Xellos who just smiled like he always did. She examined the coin waiting for it to explode, but it didn't. "I'm watching you," she warned before deciding to try her luck with the coin. She inserted the coin into the jukebox cautiously.

The contraption came to life with an odd voice. "Tell me what song you wish to hear." From there on out Filia began to list names of songs, but the machine kept pointing out it didn't know any of those.

"Do you even know what this thing is?" Xellos wondered curiously. He knew exactly what it was and he had a feeling that if Filia knew, she wouldn't want anything to do with it. But maybe he was wrong...

"It's a jukebox," Filia pointed towards the sign attached to the box. It featured a square enclosed bottom and a display of musical notes stone carvings under glass on top. There was an opening to insert a coin with several coins littering the bottom of the sculpture as if it was a wishing fountain. "The instructions read, 'jukebox: insert a coin to hear a song' see?" She stated as a matter of fact, while pointing at the sign. She might have added something about monsters being illiterate, but she stopped and instead theorized about the problem, "the coin was fake."

"No, you just don't know what this is," with a low power magical force of dark waves, Xellos created a small hole on the bottom box to reveal a small monster that looked like a parrot with really big teeth. "It's a magical container for a type of monster that can steal voices; they're rare in this area, hence why it wouldn't know any songs from around here. Some far away cities trap them and use them for entertainment. Of course they would have to sacrifice a few singers to build up the variety first. The people here must have purchased it unknowingly or maybe on purpose." Xellos finished his information.

Filia felt herself twitch in anger as the buffet's manager paused in his recently started activity of complaining to Lina and Gourry about eating too much, to take notice of the damaged equipment. He then proceeded to accuse Xellos and Filia of property damage. "How could you even complain? What you have here is a monster! It can endanger people's voices!"

"Not if you hadn't let it out!" The manager dramatized.

"How could you take such a risk by keeping it here?" Filia argued critically. She was thinking about how terrible it was that the humans would take such a foolish risk and was ready to chastise the manager further, when the odd purple big tooted parrot thing let out a mighty squawk that left her ears ringing and her throat strangely dry. Then she became painfully aware of the fact that her voice was gone. Making mute gestures, she insulted Xellos with her eyes; he was the one that let that thing out after all.

"I honestly didn't think it would want your voice," truly amused, Xellos couldn't help it but to tease Filia. "I mean it's pretty bad, specially when you yell at me for no reason, quite unpleasant to the ears. I feel sorry for that poor creature; it'll probably get a horrible case of indigestion."

What Filia couldn't do with her voice she did with her mace. After all, a hit to the head could be translated into a variety of insults. Seeing the hit coming from a mile away, as that was the predictable reaction from Filia, Xellos easily dodged. The exchange gave the manager enough time to panic and the parrot monster enough time to fly away.

"There goes your voice!" Xellos pointed out as Filia stopped swinging her mace at him and joined the manager in panicking.

"Capture it!" The manager suddenly begged. "Don't think I didn't notice," he looked at Xellos accusingly. "I saw those small rays of energy; they must have been stronger than they looked if you managed to break this container. I know you're a sorcerer. Since you're responsible for this disaster you must fix it! Recapture that creature at once or be banned from this resort."

Xellos was less than happy with being ordered around by this human, in fact, he was most displeased, but he knew that getting kicked out of the resort was a bad idea. "Alright, I'll find the creature and exterminate it." His tone left no room for argument as his purple eyes opened in a rare occasion and his fangs became the prominent feature of a grin that looked harmless a mere second ago.

The manager nodded slowly and backed away. He then took the time to nervously look at anything that wasn't the scary sorcerer in front of him, because he didn't realize Xellos was a monster. That's when he noticed that the two gluttons from before were gone. Then a chef came running to proclaim that a blond man and a red haired girl were assaulting the kitchen. Leaving the manager to his troubles, Xellos promptly left, followed by a fuming Filia.

xoxox xox xoxox

Spotting the parrot monster was very easy; catching it was another story as it moved with amazing speed, gliding through the crowds of people walking down the massive resort streets. Filia let out a stream of silent insults directed at Xellos, who mockingly placed his hand behind his ear and leaned in. "Sorry Filia, could you speak up? I can't hear you." He gestured with fake innocence. "What was that? Could you repeat what you just said? Oh my, how terrible, it seems my hearing is failing me. Don't you feel guilty for leaving me deaf after all your yelling?"

Filia's face turned a distinct shade of angry red as she wielded her mace at Xellos who easily teleported away via the astral plane. A few passer-bys stopped to watch but they were not alarmed. They assumed that the comedy routine of a magic show was all part of the park's entertainment, some even clapped and cheered for Xellos, who was apparently the winning character of the skit. The unwanted attention only got Filia more upset until she paused, realizing that she had lost sight of the parrot. She waved her hand to Xellos and put away her mace. She raised both hands, palms facing him.

"Does this mean you want to call a truce?" Xellos inquired, not quite ready to stop playing, bothering Filia was such a fun game. He watched as she nodded frantically.

Filia then tried her best to signal to Xellos what she wanted to communicate. It didn't help that neither of them knew human sign language, which was the only kind of sign language available really. Dragons thought that those who didn't have a voice were simply destined to be silent observers and that was the natural order of things. As for monsters, when their 'hands' consisted of claws, pincers, paws, twigs and actual hands with a variety in number of fingers it was pretty hard to standardize a sign language. Besides, communication didn't matter much to non-spies anyway. None the less, Filia made a brave attempt and moved her voice-less lips to say 'where is' while shrugging her shoulders, her forearms upwards and her palms flat towards the sky. 'The parrot' Filia's mouth moved without sound as her arms made a flapping motion.

"A bird?" Xellos guessed as if they were playing charades. The crowd of people that had gathered to watch added in their own guesses that ranged from everything from chicken to pterodactyl.

Stomping her feet angrily Filia threw a silent temper tantrum, balling her fists and kicking the dirt, arms moving up and down violently as her angry red face presented a fierce expression of narrowed eyes and clenched teeth. "A monster!" A girl called out.

Filia looked around thinking that it was the parrot, though no one seemed interested in it before. She didn't see the wretched voice stealing monster bird anywhere and instead wondered if they were onto Xellos' true nature. Then she realized that the young lady was pointing at her. In disbelief, she stopped and pointed at herself, her mouth moving without sound to the shape of 'who me?'

"Monster! Monster! Monster!" The crowd began to chant, assuming that was what Filia was trying to impersonate. In which case Xellos would ironically play the part of the heroic sorcerer.

Filia looked absolutely horrified. A few tears escaped from the corners of her eyes before she ran away in silent sobs. The crowd cheered still convinced that it was all part of the show; the blond lady was a pretty good mime. Xellos grinned as the crowd cheered and waved goodbye teleporting away, which only made the crowd clap louder. It could be annoying for a monster to cause amusement for any being other than itself, but this was an exception just because Filia's misery was so delicious.

xoxox xox xoxox

It didn't take too long for Xellos to find Filia. She was sitting miserably on the edge of a fountain with a cupid statue in the middle holding an arrow ready to shoot it to the skies. She was still quietly sobbing, but appeared to be in the process of accepting the fact that she was mute and apparently resembled a monster, the latter of which seemed much crueler to her.

Xellos sat down next to her on the fountain's edge and gave her his usual infuriating grin. She glared in response and crossed her arms over her chest, shifting her body in her seat to face away from him. "I just thought you might want to know that-"

Before Xellos could finish expressing his latest taunt, the voice stealing monster parrot took the cupid statue for a perch and began to sing in a very familiar voice. "Ivory beyond white, everlasting infinite light, brightness that pierces the night, by your endless power destiny ignites, let the world be purified by your might!"

Xellos covered his ears in discomfort and the parrot looked like it was choking on air, until it fell dead on the bottom of the fountain where it promptly disintegrated into black smoke which dissolved into nothingness. The passer-bys pointed and clapped, they loved the little magic show surprises that the resort had.

"That song..." Filia whispered and upon doing so she realized, "my voice! I got my voice back!" She breathed in relief.

"What an awful song, of course it had to come from your voice, I could tell right away given how off-key it was." The remark was expected coming from Xellos even though he was lying.

As for Filia, she couldn't care less what Xellos' opinion was about her singing skills, but she did notice his discomfort. "That song was actually a purification spell designed to kill monsters, it's called Heaven's Light." She explained with a look of vengeance in her eyes. "I suppose singing it in a golden dragon's voice was too much for that weak monster. I wonder how effective it would be sung by the original owner of this voice."

"Not effective enough to kill me," Xellos assured and he knew he was right, as did Filia.

"Maybe effective enough to bother you?" She glared threateningly then put on a sweet expression and sang. "Ivory beyond white, everlasting infinite light, brightness that pierces the night, by your endless power destiny ignites, let the world be purified by your might!"

"Ugh, it's like the opposite of the Dragon Slave," Xellos covered his ears but soon realized that Filia wasn't casting the spell, just singing the chant that went with it without the willing concentration of energy that casting required. It still bothered him, though not as significantly as it could. He noticed with a certain amount of perplexity that Filia's choice to hold back meant that she was trying to get back at him, but not seriously trying to pick a fight.

Xellos told himself it should come as no surprise, he was a very high level monster after all and a single golden dragon didn't have a ghost of a chance of taking him down all by herself. Furthermore, even if she was prone to hit him on the head with her mace and throw out a variety of insults at him, Xellos noted that Filia wasn't seriously out to kill him. Not that it matter to him, because she couldn't.

Satisfied to have annoyed Xellos in some way, Filia triumphantly marched off. So she couldn't create a romantic atmosphere for Lina and Gourry, so she momentarily lost her voice and made a complete fool of herself, so some cold hearted people thought she looked like a monster, so what? She would get over it and get on with her life with the very effective motivation of not letting Xellos win. She would just have to pick up her plan where she left off. She would go off to find her friends and continue playing matchmaker for them in secret and Xellos wasn't going to stop her.

Shaking off the unpleasant feeling of the song and going back into neutral observer mode as much as he could, Xellos followed Filia. She blissfully made a point out of ignoring his presence and continued walking down the resort streets, searching for her friends. It was a big place and she didn't know where to start her search, Lina and Gourry would have probably been banned from the open buffet by now and must have gone elsewhere. For the time being, she just walked, keeping her eyes open for any familiar faces and pretending she didn't notice Xellos walking next to her.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 003: Alarming! Dragon In Distress

Xellos, the still cursed monster and Filia, the somewhat frustrated yet determinately optimistic matchmaker, made their way down the busy streets of Amor Resort in search for Filia's next victim... er... target... of matchmaking. It didn't look like Lina, Gourry, Amelia or Zelgadis were anywhere near by, but they would have to be found eventually. Sure, the resort was huge, but they couldn't miss each other forever.

Sighing as her feet began to ache from all the walking, Filia stopped near a concession stand advertising some candied berries. She eyed the berries hungrily, she could use a little snack, but then she remembered she didn't have her wallet on her and she couldn't very well ask Xellos to buy her food, even if she offered to repay him later.

Fortunately, or unfortunately if she had any idea what was to come, the man in charge of the stand offered her a free sample in the form of a candied berry on a stick. "Give this a try, pretty lady," he winked, holding out the tooth pick with the heart shaped red berry coated in caramel on it. The man had an odd accent, but he was pretty handsome, a fact that flew over Filia's head as she was focused on the berry. Maybe Lina was rubbing off on her.

"Thank you," Filia smiled politely and accepted the snack. She picked the berry off the toothpick with her mouth, first savoring the caramel on top before biting into it. It was delicious, too delicious for words. "This tastes amazing!" She proclaimed with more fascination than anyone should have for a berry.

"Doesn't it?" The man leaned in flirtatiously, the breeze playing with his platinum hair. His blue eyes stood out over his perfect tan. "Maybe you would like to have a box of these?"

Filia was about to answer with the affirmative, but then her smile deflated. "Maybe some other time," she replied in disappointment. She wanted those berries, she wanted them badly and she didn't know why.

"Going on a diet, Filia?" Xellos decided it was as good a time as any to throw another wise crack at Filia. Besides, he really felt like interrupting the flirting, not that he cared, it was just boring. "It's about time."

Filia glared at Xellos, but before she said anything, the berry salesman spoke for her. "Don't listen to him, sweetheart. You're just fine the way you are." He smiled as charmingly as he could.

"I know," Filia threw her nose in the air in an exaggerated expression of nonchalance. "Xellos is just an idiot. Even the simple act of being around him makes my blood boil." She adjusted her cloak, it was hot out today. "I can't stand him," she waved her hand in front of her face trying to fan some air into her warm complexion. "Is it just me, or is it hot?" The last statement was directed at the salesman, who of course, took it the wrong way.

"Oh it's not just you, though you certainly are, I am too," he winked while Filia couldn't make heads or tails of the true meaning behind his odd reply. He did have an unusual accent; maybe he wasn't too experienced in this particular language. Noticing that Xellos was giving him a nasty look, the salesman handed the purple haired man a box of berries. "Here, take this and go away, the lady is now in much better company. Maybe if you eat enough of those you'll actually manage to attract a woman of lesser standards. They're supposed to be some kind of dragon aphrodisiac or something."

Xellos froze in the act of having a berry box shoved into his hands as some sort of pity inspired consolation price after having what the salesman assumed to be his date stolen. Filia froze at that moment too and all the color from her previously flustered face drained momentarily, only to come back full force tinting her skin scarlet as she pushed her voice to function. "Aphrodisiac?" She spoke fearfully, dragging out each syllable as if it was something dreadful, and it was.

"My, my, so that's the kind of girl you are," Xellos couldn't even finish enjoying his taunting before Filia screamed an ear splitting wail.

"These are... these are... are these dragon lust berries?" Filia choked out in a panic.

"Yeah..." The salesman was a bit taken aback, but he bounced into action quickly and he was all too eager. "Are you really into that stuff or something? It's just a legend, they don't do a thing. But you know, if you're in the mood who needs berries? Either way, if you're into it I-"

"No!" Filia screamed at the top of her lungs unleashing a laser light from her mouth to the skies above. The salesman took the laser breath as his cue to leave. He could be open minded, but maybe there was a reason this girl was with that purple haired seemingly wimpy weirdo. He was probably her private punching bag and the salesman was no masochist.

Xellos opened his mouth to let out another teasing taunt, but before he could produce any words, Filia pushed past him in a fit of panic. He decided after less than a split second's hesitation that he should go after her. Thus he followed the stream of uncomfortable and sometimes blasphemous remarks voiced by those pushed aside by the rampaging blond.

It didn't take too long for Filia to find a sort of alleyway between a store and a restaurant and duck into it past the pink plastic potted plant with the giant leaves that were supposed to obstruct the view of the overflowing garbage cans in the alley. There she stood facing the dump with her eyes tightly shut, her hands on the sides of her face and her expression in pure agony as she chanted, "I'm not thinking, I'm not thinking, I'm not thinking..."

Then that voice, his voice, broke her concentration with a simple innocent, "Filia?" That sounded more melodious and attractive to her than it should.

"Go away!" Filia half snapped and half begged. "I've done something terrible! Those berries, those atrocities! Do you know their full story?" She was all out crying now.

"I don't," Xellos admitted a bit dishearten by the fact that he was ignorant of the cause of Filia's misery. He wanted to be the cause of Filia's misery, thus he should be well informed so he could taunt her.

Filia sniffled still facing away from Xellos. "Long ago, some terrible sorcerers kidnapped and tried to enslave two dragons. The dragons were kept under control with cruel magical artifacts and painful spells for the most part, but that wasn't enough. The sorcerers wanted fully trained slaves disciplined into submission from a young age. Yet they knew the dragons closely guarded their young. The two dragons in captivity would never think of willingly bringing one of their own in to such a painful situation, so the sorcerers forced them to ingest some berries that they created by alchemy which made their instinct run wild." Filia paused, too horrified to continue.

"So basically, they wanted to breed the dragons," Xellos summarized. "I do hope you're not going to somehow blame the presence of the berries at the resort on me, because as much as I've love to take credit for your torture, this was all your fault." He hoped that his dismissive attitude was appropriately vexing.

"The dragons died, they killed each other to stop their suffering and the possible suffering of those who could have resulted of their tainted union." Filia continued her story, the lack of accusation towards Xellos indicating that she knew it wasn't his doing. "The rest of the golden dragons eventually found the terrible sorcerers and studied their records to learn of their awful acts. The sorcerer group was destroyed, but it was too late about the berries. The alchemic recipe had escaped into the world and the humans treated it as a delicacy. It's fine for them, it's harmless to humans and completely without effect, but us dragons need to guard against it. I had been warned long ago when I was studying, it was a terribly embarrassing lesson but I-"

Xellos cut her off, "I don't think I want to hear about the particulars of dragon sex-ed." He stated flatly, adding just the right amount of disgust to his tone. "Anyway, are you going to wait out the effects of this by standing around in a smelly alley and staring at garbage?"

"Yes," Filia snapped flustered, "I just wish I didn't have to hear it too."

She was obviously referring to him and as it often happened, Xellos had a comeback. "Then you'll just have to stop speaking."

Angered, Filia couldn't resist the urge to turn around and glare at Xellos. The problem was that every aspect of his unfortunate existence looked desirable to her in her current state. She screamed, disturbed by her own naughty thoughts and dashed past Xellos, only to stop cold in the middle of the busy street of the resort.

Xellos approached Filia and examined her peculiar expression, like a deer caught in a Dragon Slave. "What's wrong now?"

'That guy passing by sure is handsome...' Filia mused against her better judgment. 'His hair is purple too, just like Xellos,' her rampaging thoughts added. 'No, no, no! Don't think of random men in inappropriate ways, especially if they remind you of Xellos!' Filia mentally screamed at herself. 'That other man down the street doesn't have purple hair, it's nice and black... Just like the aura of a monster, an aura of sexy darkness.' That thought was if at all possible more disturbing than the last. 'What about that nice looking blond guy over there? He doesn't look like Xellos at all... except for the acute purple eyes.' To be reasonable, the resemblances between the aforementioned random men and Xellos were small and barely noticeable unless one was adamantly searching for them as Filia's mortifying subconscious was. 'Don't think of Xellos! Don't think of Xellos!' Filia mentally screamed at herself once again. 'Think about... about... about that guy over there! The redhead with the green eyes and the nice built and the expression that's nothing like a grin. No, I shouldn't be having lustful thoughts about random strangers at all!'

"Filia?" Xellos prompted once more. It was as if her mind had experienced a system crash that would be known in a more technologically advanced future society as a mental blue screen.

Filia snapped out of her daze, painfully realizing that she had the hots for every male creature in sight, including Xellos, which was definitely the worse part. "Get me out of here," she pleaded, trying her very best to stop her body from moving, in fear that she wouldn't be able to stop it, falling into a crazy lustful trance. "Please, get me out of here, get me away from people, teleport me, I don't care who sees us, please!"

As enjoyable as the begging was, Xellos decided to humor Filia. It looked like everyone around was inclined to assume that every oddity they saw was only part of the show anyway and certainly not a cause for alarm. He held on to her and took her to the astral plane, reappearing in seconds in an empty hotel room that Filia vaguely recognized as being identical to the room the girls were staying at, though this one might have been the spare room, given the absence of luggage. The closeness needed for the process of a monster teleporting and bringing a passenger along was not broken upon arrival, as Filia held on to Xellos with all her might. If he had been human she would have crushed him with her dragon strength, even if she was in a human-like form. Teleporting usually gave Filia something similar to motion sickness, but this time the effect of the berry was too strong to allow even that.

"Filia?" Xellos questioned once more as the wheels in his head began to turn faster, because they were always turning. "Interesting," he mocked, "if I didn't know any better I would think you want me and by that I don't mean you want me dead."

Filia trembled as the well raised, moral side of her fought weakly against her berry induced lustful instincts. "Don't let me go," the request was rather pointless given how strongly she was latching onto him.

Even if Xellos was a very high level monster, he could still feel the full force of her strength and he admitted in the privacy of his own mind that Filia was a very strong dragon. "You're the one who's holding onto me." He pointed out, just to see if it would annoy her, though she was clearly too distressed to be vexed, even by Xellos. He found that strangely unfair.

"Please, don't let me go or I'll go crazy!" Filia desperately begged. For the time being just holding on to a male specimen with all her might seemed to be enough to keep her insanity at bay. "Please, please," she chanted. "I can't be set loose on the humans, please don't let me..."

"Humans?" Xellos questioned with true curiosity. "Feeling hungry, are you?" He teased.

Filia ignored the teasing and continued in all seriousness, her face buried in Xellos' chest, causing her voice to be somewhat muffled. "If I try to do something crazy and terribly improper, something unthinkable, something... sinful," she summarized, "with a human, he'll be helpless. No human man, strong as he may be, has a fraction of the strength of a dragon and dragon slaying wizards aren't all that common either," not that she would be stupid enough to flirt with one if she knew where one was located, even in her state of loss of mind. "I would... commit a terrible crime!" She cried, her tears fully cascading out to the sound of loud desperate sobs and ragged breaths.

"What if he doesn't try to stop you?" Xellos suggested. It was clear that more than a few men would love to have Filia. Although, he purposefully added in his own thoughts as if to sternly remind himself, that those men were human weaklings with extremely poor taste.

"That's worse!" Filia lifted her face and looked at Xellos, trying with all her might not to find him attractive and failing miserably. "I don't want to play with anyone's feelings, or body. I don't want to do something bad, I don't want to lose control of myself, I don't want to lose sight of morality!"

"And you think I can stop you?" Xellos lowered his voice to a whisper that could be catalogued as seductive, though Filia wasn't sure if he did that on purpose or if it was just her imagination.

"You're strong," she stated simply, noting in the back of her mind that she rather liked violet more than she would ever admit. "You're a high level monster, you can fight, you can defend yourself."

It wasn't that Filia was expecting any favors, Xellos realized. Rather, she was putting them both in a position where he could either defend himself or submit to her desires. For some reason, she was certain that he would fight back and he was probably the only man in the entire resort with the power to effectively do so. "Why would I?"

Filia's eyes widened in horror as her already shaky voice grew in nervousness. "You're a monster, I'm a dragon, we hate each other," she voiced it as if it was the most basic piece of factual knowledge. "You're disgusted by the thought of... you know... with a dragon... aren't you?" The uncertainty tortured her consciousness, while the overtaken part of her mind celebrated the possibility of an effortless surrender on her prey's part.

"I'm a monster," Xellos emphasized, his signature grin of false innocence turning into a much more mischievous one as his purple eyes stared into her azure gaze. "I'm not built to resist temptation," he informed punctuating his sentence with a kiss.

Filia's heartbeats sped up even more, her fingers partially transformed, claws digging into Xellos as her tail popped out from under her skirt and she bashed it harshly on the floor, leaving an indentation. Her eyes glowed golden, but the rest of her remained in a human form. She got over the shock and responded to the kiss hungrily, allowing herself to part from Xellos only when the need for oxygen was too immense to bear.

Xellos was caught up in the moment at first, but after Filia released him to breathe, he realized with disappointment that he was still curse. He could feel the effect of the curse on his body, slowly pushing him towards his death sentence little by little with each passing second. They kissed and she was definitely willing, so why didn't it work? He analyzed the prospect further and came up with a theory, she wasn't willing after all. This was all because of the effect of the berry; she didn't consciously make the choice to kiss him so that didn't count. That was why he ruled out threats, blackmail and bribery in the first place, apparently using raw lust as a motivational tool checked out as well. He could conclude that any motivational tools checked out. Filia had to kiss him simply because she wanted to without any outside influence to push her into it. Well, not Filia, more like any golden dragon, but Filia was conveniently near by anyway.

Xellos concluded that he would have to continue his observations and keep on gathering data. He was planning to trick Filia, but it shouldn't count as a trick if she didn't know she was being tricked. Manipulation or not, she would make the choice on her own with real affections for a lying source, yet the affections would be real even if they were misplaced and that should be enough to break the curse. He would have to match-make for himself and Filia, court her in a sense, he wasn't looking forward to it, but even a monster has survival instinct and he was strongly plagued by the desire to live another day... As well as other desires, given the current circumstances, not that he would ever admit to that.

Filia panted heavily as she struggled to fight a sudden case of asphyxiation. Her tail disappeared and her clawed hands turned back to normal human hands, leaving Xellos' shirt in tatters. The rhythm of her wildly beating heart slowed back to normal and her body appeared to calm down. She let out a breath, thankfully not a laser one. "I'm... okay..." Filia sounded like she was trying to convince herself more so than inform Xellos. One berry wasn't enough to make her go all the way, but she would be weary of food for the rest of her life after this experience. Unfortunately, her stomach chose that moment to growl in hunger, reminding her that she needed to replenish the energy she just used up. She ignored it, she would have to eat eventually, but right now she wasn't in the mood for it. Realizing that she was still hugging Xellos, albeit much more gently, Filia backed away as if she had been burned. She was horrified. "You were going to let me!" She accused.

Xellos shrugged trying to appear nonchalant and ordering his own body to calm down... immediately. "It's what you wanted and you would have enjoyed it too. Like I said, I'm a monster; I'm not built to resist temptation."

"So if a random girl throws herself at you, she can have you?" Filia pointed accusingly at Xellos with disapproval and disappointment fighting for a place in her tone alongside disgust.

"Usually, a random girl's reaction to a monster would be to scream in a panic and run away," Xellos was back to his cool, calm and collected self in record breaking time, with no small effort. "It's a bit of a turn off." He grinned that familiar false grin with his eyes closed in a silly expression that screamed he was blissfully ignorant about everything around him, even if the truth was all the opposite.

"Good for her!" Filia snapped, even if the metaphorical random girl in question didn't refer to anyone specific. Feeling embarrassed, mortified and all around humiliated, Filia stormed out in a huff.

Xellos stood in place for a second, feeling rather disappointed. Of course he was disappointed, he just endured kissing a golden dragon and it was all for naught, that was the only reason he had to be disappointed and a very valid reason it was. He decided to take a break from following Filia for a while and occupy himself with the task of purchasing a new shirt to replace the one Filia destroyed, because simply materializing a new one was boring.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 004: Honesty! For What It's Worth

He looked ridiculous when she found him; then again, the population of similarly ridiculously dressed men in the resort was quite numerous. Taking a deep breath and telling all secondary thoughts along with her common sense to shut up, Filia approached Xellos.

The purple haired trickster was sitting on a bench, apparently minding his own business, though for someone who was supposedly uninterested in his surroundings he had a certain observant air around him. His head turned this way and that way, looking at the couples that passed by holding hands. He might as well add holding hands to his list of tactics to be used later. He considered adding giggling like an idiot to the slowly developing list, but even the mortally cursed have their limits.

Knowing that she was being ignored, Filia spoke up, "can I sit?" She inquired with as much confidence as she could muster. She was ignored again, no surprise there. "I'm sitting." Filia took a seat on the bench next to Xellos, a short way away from the fountain with the cupid in the middle, surrounded by rose bushes. The bushes produced flowers in such a bright shade of hot pink one could only conclude they were fake, or that the gardener was an alchemist obsessed with the color pink. The leaves were a minty green rather than a regular leafy green so as to not upset the calm and romantic feeling of pastel colors, or for some other equally mushy reason.

The second Filia sat down, Xellos made a sudden motion jumping a little as the bench was pushed down on her side and flopped back to its normal position. "Geez, Filia, you're really packing on the pounds, aren't you?" He commented sarcastically.

Trying with all her might to keep her temper down, Filia scowled and pointed out truthfully. "You know as well as I do that you made the bench move. My weight had absolutely nothing to do with it. Then again," she had the daring audacity to pinch his arm as she spoke. "You're so scrawny, maybe you really are that light."

"Can't get your hands off me? I'm flattered," Xellos remarked. He was known for doing all sorts of silly things on occasion so really, the fact that he had changed into an attire like the kind they sold at the local shops wasn't a real shocker. He did look especially silly wearing a short sleeved purple shirt with many yellow flowers printed on it, a pair of red shorts and yellow flip-flops, his signature staff having been left behind at the guys' hotel room. "May I remind you that in your eagerness you destroyed my clothes last time."

Filia turned scarlet and looked in every direction to see if any of the passers care about their conversation... they didn't. Those people were strangers, her friends being no where in sight. Those people didn't know her or Xellos and they apparently didn't care about their antics. "About that," Filia resolutely pushed her voice to work. "I um..." was she seriously apologizing to Xellos? Well no, that was never her plan; she just wanted to let him know she didn't care about the incident. She wanted to show him that she got over it and moved on with her life. She wanted to act like she wasn't terribly ashamed, mortified beyond belief, which she was. But Xellos couldn't know, or else he would exploit it, then her friends would know and even if they claimed to understand she wasn't herself when it happened, Filia would still die of shame. She had to confidently show Xellos that his taunts wouldn't bother her, so that he wouldn't bother using them in the first place. "Sorry if you were bothered by it. I hope you're not traumatized, because I'm not. In fact, it's kind of a blur," it was a lie. Every moment was painfully clear to her.

"Really?" Xellos raised an eyebrow curiously. Filia was a horrible liar and he could see right through her. It probably came because she tended to be too honest and sincere. "I could tell you all about it, reenact it even."

"I don't care," Filia voiced flatly only because it was her most well rehearsed answer that she planned to give Xellos if he threatened for blackmail. Except he wasn't threatening for blackmail, he was offering her another make-out session. "I mean I do care, no, I mean I don't want to. Anyway, I'm just letting you know that the incident is completely unimportant to me."

"So you wouldn't mind if I tell Lina?" Xellos asked with a grin. He knew Filia was feeling particularly tortured right now, it was awesome. It was even more awesome because he was the cause of her misery.

"I don't mind, it honestly doesn't matter," Filia shifted uncomfortably and tried to look indifferent, as opposed to embarrassed. It wasn't working.

"What about Amelia?" Xellos pressed on. He wasn't willing to give up until he got a somewhat truthful reaction from Filia.

"It's the same," Filia choked out.

"Gourry?" Xellos continued.

"It might go over his head," Filia felt a little cruel for pointing that out, but it was true.

"Point taken," Xellos chirped, his usual grin well in place. "Zelgadis?"

"It doesn't matter if they know; it doesn't matter if they all know," Filia snapped. "In fact, it doesn't even matter if the whole world knows."

"That you made out with a monster?" Xellos supplied smugly.

"A kiss is not making out, it's just a kiss," Filia argued with a red face. Other than a few quick glances that avoided his eyes, she had not been looking at Xellos, but knew he was looking right at her.

"Just a kiss, huh?" Xellos pretended to muse over this. A kiss was certainly not just a kiss, it was the cure he needed. "I thought golden dragons had more self respect than that. So if a random guy wanted to kiss you, he could?"

"No!" Filia half-yelled. "That's not what I meant, I wasn't myself and you should have done something to stop me!"

"I teleported you away, didn't I?" Xellos reminded.

Filia opened her mouth to speak then promptly closed it again like a fish person and proceeded to mull over that information. Okay, so Xellos had made himself a little bit useful and she supposed that harming an innocent victim would have been worse than degrading herself with a monster, just because Filia could be selfless like that. Frustrated, Filia let out an exasperated breath. He won, Xellos won, he was going to win no matter what she did. Filia cursed her bad luck. "I can't stop you from humiliating me, can I? Fine, do it, I won't beg you not to!"

"If you really want me to," Xellos grinned annoyingly. "However..." he made a dramatic pause. "I might let your deplorable behavior pass if you do a little something for me."

"I won't do anything bad," Filia outright stated.

"I know, teaching you evil is not possible, you're not smart enough to learn it." Another pause later, Xellos continued, rather enjoying the foreboding expression Filia was wearing. "Kiss me," Filia was sober now, Xellos had to give this one last try.

"What?" Filia stammered, now staring right at Xellos out of pure shock.

"I think you heard me," Xellos stared back with a plotting look. "There is a condition though," of course there had to be. "I give you my word as a monster-"

"For what it's worth," Filia muttered bitterly.

Xellos ignored her, "that I'll keep this incident that happened between us a secret, if you give me your word as a golden dragon that you'll kiss me. Here's the catch-"

"It has to be done in a completely humiliating way," Filia supplied with rising anger.

"I wasn't going to say that, but if you keep giving me suggestions I might take them," Xellos warned. With his signature grin unchanged he finished his proposed deal. "The catch is that you must kiss me of your own will."

"That makes no sense," Filia blinked in surprise. "How can I kiss you of my own will if you're blackmailing me?"

"I'm not," Xellos tried to twist things around a little. "Let me rephrase my proposal." He mused over it for a second and came up with a slightly different deal to similar ends. "I give you my word not to reveal the incident to anyone and ask for nothing in exchange for my silence. Additionally, in a completely separate and unrelated matter, I request, not blackmail, order, or threaten," he specified, "that you keep your mind open to the possibility of kissing me when you are completely sober, with a firm grasp on all your senses and not being pressured into it by any outside force. In other words, consciously and of your own initiative, unaffected by any ulterior motives be them yours or mine."

Filia blinked dumbly and stared at Xellos as if he grew a second head. Actually, that wouldn't have been all that strange, his request, not threat, was far stranger. "Are you asking me to keep my mind open to the possibility of ever wanting to kiss you of my own accord?"

"Correct," Xellos confirmed. "I'm glad you finally got that single brain cell of yours working." So asking a girl to kiss him and then insulting her wasn't a very good tactic, but this was Xellos, he couldn't waste an opportunity to start an argument with Filia anymore than she could waste an opportunity to start an argument with him.

"That's suspicious," Filia honestly stated. "It's too easy and you never make things easy." Yet no matter how many times she went over it in her head, she couldn't figure out what Xellos wanted to do... Then it occurred to her. "Aha!" She pointed her accusatory finger at Xellos yet again. "I know what you're trying to do; you're trying to make me feel better so that the hit is harsher when you make me feel worse. You're trying to make me lower my guard!"

"Whatever you say, Filia," Xellos rolled his eyes. It was clear that Filia wasn't going to stop suspecting him any time soon and time wasn't exactly on his side. "Look, how's this then: let's drop the subject and leave things as they are. If I'm going to do something, you can't stop me anyway so there's no reason for you to worry about it. Then after you cool your temper, give my request some more thought."

Filia glared at Xellos with a great amount of distrust, "fine." She agreed, but only because she had no choice but to agree. She got up from the bench and as she did her stomach growled again.

"Don't tell me you really did go on a diet," Xellos tried to fall back into a comfortable pace of exchanging insults. "You're such a twig without a figure as it is."

"Oh shut up you piece of raw garbage!" Filia yelled. "First I'm too fat and then I'm too thin? Look in the mirror you reject circus clown!" She turned on her heals and threw her head back in indignation, walking off in a fuming huff. Of course, Xellos followed her and of course he had a comeback for her insult. Then they fell into a rhythm of insulting each other that felt almost normal.

xoxox xox xoxox

Taking a break from the activity of insulting Xellos, Filia made her way to a restaurant as the sun began to set. There she spotted Amelia and Zelgadis sitting at a table eating calmly and chatting pleasantly.

Feeling that she was given another chance to perform her good actions as a matchmaker, Filia sat down and observed them from afar from behind a menu. Unlike the open buffet this restaurant was indoors and far homier looking. It had waiters and waitresses on the job and required payments per dish consumed. Luckily, Filia had remembered to go pick up her wallet from her luggage. She had a job to do as a matchmaker, but she couldn't do it on an empty stomach.

A waiter approached with a notepad in hand. "What can I get you?" He paused and took a second look at the ridiculously dressed purple haired man. "You're one of Lina's friends." He pointed his pencil at Xellos.

Xellos gave the man a curious smirk, "Zangulus was it?" He pretended to be unsure, because no human's name was worth remembering all that clearly, yet Xellos made it a point to remember them all. "It's quite a surprise to see you here. How is Miss Martina?"

"Likewise," Zangulus decided that small talk would be acceptable enough. He had left in decently good terms with Lina's group, though he still very much considered Gourry to be his swordsmanship rival. "Martina's doing well; she's working here too, though at a different part of the resort. We've been working to save up and restore her kingdom. It's along road but we're getting somewhere." He glanced curiously at Filia, "I take it this lady is your date?"

Filia slammed her fist into the table breaking it. "No!" She bellowed.

Zangulus stared at the broken table in surprise as did a few people including Amelia and Zelgadis from a few tables away. The murmurs of conversations and the sound of silverware on plates heard at the restaurant were suddenly silenced so that the awkwardness could be more clearly perceptible. "Um... Let me show you to another table." Zangulus graciously saved the situation and the murmurs of conversations and the sounds of silverware on plates continued normally. That was save for the conversation previously being held by Amelia and Zelgadis who paused in their eating and talking along with everyone else, but didn't resume the activities after Zangulus' line.

Instead they stared as Zangulus showed Xellos and Filia to a different table, were they silently sat and were too far away to hear when Filia mumbled a barely audible, "sorry..."

Zangulus however, was at hearing distance. "Never mind, it's not a big deal, the table was obviously about to fall apart anyway." Because there was no way this girl could have caused it to break, at least not without magic. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," Filia automatically replied, though she felt that she was anything but.

"She's a bit possessive," Xellos stated with nonchalance. "My dear Filia always corrects people when they say I'm her date or her boyfriend, the proper term would be lover, right darling?" He winked.

Filia turned scarlet yet again, she had been doing that far too often in the past twenty-four hours and was starting to fear that it might begin to affect her circulation... or give her an anger fueled heart attack. She remembered her little conversation with Xellos before and realized that if he wanted to say something stupid no one could stop him, but no one had to believe him. In fact, she was sure that anyone who knew her wouldn't believe his nonsense, but Zangulus didn't know her. Rather than adamantly denying the so called accusation of being Xellos' lover, Filia allowed rage to take over and tried to throw him for a loop. "Actually," she regained her cool in an almost frightening manner. "I think fiance would be the proper term, honey."

Xellos' face twitched in surprise, but only slightly. For the most part, he managed to maintain his smiling expression. Then his smile grew in amusement. "Of course, you're absolutely right, sweetheart." It was as if words such as darling, honey, sweetheart and the like had become the worse possible insults.

There was something odd about the atmosphere between those two, but then again, Zangulus' beloved Martina wasn't exactly like other girls either. Who was he to judge Xellos' taste in women? He waited as Filia and Xellos engaged in a glaring contest with each other while pretending to read the menus, until they finally each ordered something. In Xellos case it was mostly for show really since monsters didn't need food the way humans and dragons did, but he could still consume it if he so felt like it and there were certain tastes he very much enjoyed, like popcorn, but that wasn't on the menu.

xoxox xox xoxox

By the time Zangulus returned with the food, Xellos and Filia had fallen into an unspoken truce, so that they could enjoy a meal focusing their mouths in eating rather than in speaking insults. By that time, Amelia and Zelgadis had also stopped staring and were finishing their food, once again conversing with each other. However, their topic had shifted considerably.

"I still say it's impossible," Zelgadis assured. The justice loving Amelia sometimes got some silly notions stuck in her head. At times Zelgadis thought it was noble or even sweet, but this time it was downright weird.

"Have hope, Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia insisted cheerfully. "Maybe Mr. Xellos and Miss Filia really are getting along with each other." It's not like she was suggesting they were on a date or anything, just that they looked like they had become friends... sort of.

"Look at them glaring at each other!" Zelgadis insisted. "Then there was that broken table a while ago. Xellos must have said something that angered Filia. He seems to have a very annoying talent for angering people."

"At least he's trying to change," Amelia maintained her point. "He did invite us over here and we were able to do a lot of research in the library."

Zelgadis huffed, "you mean we wasted the day sorting through an endless supply of cheesy romance novels and," he blushed, "rather inappropriate books?"

Amelia blushed as well; browsing that particular section in the off chance that they might have missed something useful was a very embarrassing endeavor that Amelia would rather not think about. "It's still a nice vacation. Even if the library isn't useful, we can at least enjoy the rest of the resort, there's certainly a lot of variety. Tomorrow we should all go somewhere together, it'll be fun!"

Zelgadis wanted to point out that one of monsters' favorite pastimes was ruining fun, but he decided to remain quiet. Amelia was determined and Zelgadis knew he would be wasting his breath if he tried to change her mind. "Fine," he adopted a look of resignation. He would still be on guard though; Xellos was definitely plotting something, that much was obvious given the fact that he was Xellos.

"It's settled then," Amelia chimed happily. "I'll talk to Miss Lina and Miss Filia about it tonight and you can talk to Mr. Gourry and Mr. Xellos," she smiled. Tomorrow would surely be a lovely day; Amelia felt it in her heart.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 005: Fantastic! A Vivid Dreamscape

By the time Filia was done with dinner, Amelia and Zelgadis had already left the restaurant. It wasn't that Filia's appetite was anywhere near Lina's, she simply started her meal when Amelia and Zelgadis were almost done and was distracted by it long enough to miss their departure. With a full stomach, Filia noticed that it was already dark and she was certainly exhausted. Her matchmaking plans would just have to wait for another day. Hopefully whatever Xellos was planning would wait for many, many days, because she would seriously need a long time to recover from today.

Although they had paused their insults that pretended to be flirts, or was it flirts that pretended to be insults? The routine was resumed when Filia requested the bill and Zangulus handed it over to Xellos. The golden dragon had shrugged and held a tiny victory in watching him pay, though she was the one to provide a tip for Zangulus, because she knew Xellos wouldn't.

After leaving the restaurant, the silly insults did not go on, instead the pair walked in silence to the hotel, with Xellos occasionally glancing here and there as if studying the movement around him. In front of the hotel, Filia paused and asked the question that was floating on her mind. Given her already bad position, what could it hurt? "Does it feel bad?"

The question which was rather lacking in context and information, took Xellos by surprise and was addressed with nothing but a slight raise of the eyebrow.

"The atmosphere here, does it hurt you?" Filia once again proclaimed her curiosity. "I mean," she elaborated, "it's so full of love and happy thoughts, it must be unpleasant to you, since you're a monster."

"It is," Xellos admitted the obvious as it was of no use to deny it. "But I'm a very strong monster, you said that yourself." He alluded to something that was spoken during Filia's distressful time. He knew she didn't want to remember that, so he made a mental note to hint at it whenever he could. He would, however, keep the embarrassing secret between them, for the time being at least.

Filia only looked away as a response. She didn't know why she asked that question, the answer was obvious and it didn't matter anyway. Without another word she began to walk towards the stairs.

"Are all dragons rude enough to walk away in the middle of a conversation?" Xellos tried to get the insults rolling again, it was fun.

Filia gave him no response save for a glare, but decided that she wouldn't humor him. Xellos wanted to argue and though she would normally answer, Filia was simply too tired at the moment. She kept making her way up the stairs ignoring Xellos as he followed after her.

When she got to the girls' room, Filia retrieved her copy of the key from her pocket and made her way in. On one of the four beds, it was beyond her why so many beds per room were needed, there was a box with a note attached to it. Filia curiously picked it up and read it. 'Hey Filia! After Gourry and I got kicked out of the buffet's kitchen, I said I would sue them for false advertisement because it was supposed to be all you can eat. They offered me store credit if I didn't and since I don't know any lawyers anyway, I took it.' That would explain the pile of bags and boxes in the corner. 'This one is for you! Enjoy, Lina.' Filia thought it was sweet of Lina to have gotten her a gift, until she reached the foot of the note. 'PS: You can show your gratitude by taking me out to dinner sometime.'

Filia sighed, regardless of what Lina got her; it couldn't have been more expensive than taking her out to dinner would be. Even so, Filia tried to look on the bright side, it was the thought that counted and she really needed some optimism. She opened the box to find a cute little dress with yellow sunflowers on pale blue fabric and a pair of matching flip-flops. It was sleeveless and about knee length, going will with the resort's general atmosphere, though it wouldn't provide enough space under the skirt to hide her mace. She couldn't imagine Lina buying it, some random shop keeper probably forced it on her somehow. It must have been a dangerously fierce shop keeper, or maybe Lina decided to try to look extra cute and didn't want to make the effort alone. Maybe it was a good sign, maybe Gourry would compliment her and things would roll from there, but Filia knew she was getting ahead of herself.

Ignoring Xellos' still looming presence silently behind her, Filia noticed that there was another note on her bed. That second note was from Amelia, she must have come into the room and left again when Filia and Xellos were at the restaurant. She read the note with curiosity, wondering in the back of her mind if Amelia had seen her little table breaking display at the restaurant. 'Dear Miss Filia, I hope you are enjoying your time at this resort. Lina told me she purchased a dress for you, she got me one as well and suggested that we should all wear them tonight to go see the fireworks display from the central plaza. I think it's a wonderful idea and hope you'll join us. Also, we should all enjoy the resort together tomorrow, but we can talk about that later. Best wishes, Amelia.'

Relieved that the note didn't mention anything about the restaurant incident, Filia took another look at the dress. She was tired and not in the mood to stay out waiting for fireworks, yet she didn't want to disappoint her friends. She concluded that being tired wasn't a good enough reason to miss out on the fun; there would be plenty of time to sleep later. Besides, just because she was in the mood to hide under warm covers and sleep away her sorrows it didn't mean that she should. That was probably what Xellos wanted her to do and she wouldn't give him that.

She would go out and have fun, being filled with all kinds of positive emotions, especially the kind that bothered him most, whichever those were. She honestly didn't understand the source of her curiosity, but she decided that she had no reason to try to understand Xellos. He was a monster; he was evil, end of story. The notion didn't feel completely right, but she couldn't quite place why. Letting the matter drop in her mind, she turned to face Xellos with the dress in her hands. "Leave, I'm changing."

He didn't move and he didn't say anything. Filia knew this was Xellos' little revenge for being ignored earlier.

Crossing her arms Filia stated a valid, although from her perspective nonsensical, point. "If you want me to consider the thought of kissing you to be remotely passable, let me say that you're not making any progress by being a pest."

Xellos faded into nothingness without a word. There was something unnerving about how he silently agreed to leave her alone with relative ease, but Filia couldn't put her finger on it.

Filia changed as quickly as possible, fearing that Xellos would teleport back into the room at any random moment. Once she was wearing her new dress, she exited the room, locking it behind her. Downstairs she found Xellos, leaning casually against the wall at the foot of the steps. She walked past him without a word and he followed her.

The walk to the central plaza was not a long one, the bad news was that they couldn't make it to the plaza because it and the area around it was so terribly crowded. Who knew for how long some of those people had been waiting.

"Miss Filia!" Amelia waved for her attention, cheerfully making her way over to the familiar new arrivals. She was wearing a pink dress with red roses in a similar style to Filia's. Apparently Gourry and Zelgadis also received gifts from Lina in the form of the male attire that dominated the resort, very much like Xellos'. They were both wearing shorts, dark blue for Gourry and gray for Zelgadis, which were not as brightly colored as Xellos' red shorts, but their shirts were certainly just as festive. Gourry had jellyfish pictures all over his light blue shirt, while Zelgadis had the classic dark green palm tree patterns on a lighter green background. They were all wearing flip-flops.

Lina looked the most different in her orange and white checkered dress; she must have thought a flower pattern was going too far. She did however have a single white lily on her hair. "Glad you made it," Lina greeted casually, though with a hint of annoyance that was not directed at any of her companions, but rather at the crowd. "Unfortunately, we were too late and all the good spots are taken, as you probably already noticed." A crowd of that size was impossible to miss.

"That doesn't mean we can't still have a good time!" Amelia tried to maintain a cheery atmosphere. Xellos was not fond of her attitude.

The fireworks began, a fact that Lina's group was only aware of judging by the sound of the explosions in the distance and the atmosphere around the central plaza lighting up. They couldn't see the fireworks though, the numerous crowd was packed too tightly in front of them and there was just no way to see them. "What a rip off," Lina muttered as she scanned the area for a way to get a better view. "We might be able to see the fireworks from the top of the hotel, it's a bit further away, but it's close enough and we should have a clear view from up there." Without waiting for any opinions of different suggestions, Lina ran off in direction to the hotel. Gourry automatically followed her and soon the whole group trailed behind.

xoxox xox xoxox

A pleasant breeze was blowing that night, though it was imperceptible from the ground level due to the gathered crowd. From the hotel's roof there were no obstacles in the way. The group approached the railing at the edge of the roof terrace most of them automatically leaning on it luxuriously. Lights of many colors painted the skies in a beautiful display as the fireworks exploded brightly. For a moment they were all focused on the lights and peace reigned supreme among them. Then it ended all too soon.

As if hoping for more, the group stayed silent, looking at the sky, before they realized that they couldn't coax more fireworks out of thin air with their eyes. They resolved to go back to their rooms, heading down from the roof, men and women parting ways in the hall with a wide exchange of good nights and such well wishes. The resort's activities went on twenty-four seven, but this was only their first day there and after traveling all the way to the resort, a good night's sleep was in order to recover from the trip. Perhaps tomorrow they would stay out late enjoying the festivities.

xoxox xox xoxox

At the girls' room, the three had showered, changed, brushed their teeth and finished all the activities normally done before going to bed. "Where do you think we should go tomorrow?" Amelia inquired, reminding the others of her suggested plans.

Lina answered immediately, "the roller coasters! I spent today at the buffet, then finding something to buy with my store credit so I didn't have time to go on the roller coasters. I think that's something we can all enjoy," she grinned, clearly looking forward to it.

"I didn't really have time to look around either," Amelia admitted. "Unfortunately, the library here isn't as useful as Mr. Xellos made it sound. Mr. Zelgadis and I were not able to find any remotely useful clues towards his cure. At least we got the research out of the way just in case and maybe now that it's done, Mr. Zelgadis will be more open to enjoying the resort."

"Research, huh?" Lina grinned mischievously with the look of one who is about to tease her friends. "I thought you two were on a date."

Amelia blushed, "it wasn't like that, Miss Lina. We're just friends." There was something about the way she said it that hinted she would be more than happy if they were more, but she didn't really feel like discussing it. She could ask Lina about Gourry, but instead decided to bring the quiet Filia into the conversation. Filia had not said a single word for a while and Amelia didn't want her to feel left out. "What about you Miss Filia? Did you have fun today?"

No, she did not have fun today, but Filia couldn't very well say it so bluntly. "Kind of..." Seeing Amelia's somewhat disappointed and inquiring look she added more cheerfully. "I think tomorrow will be better, since we'll all be hanging out together." Which meant that Xellos might give someone else a little of his annoying attention and less to her... Or he could open his big mouth and try to embarrass her in front of everyone.

"You spent the day with Mr. Xellos, right?" Amelia encouraged Filia to elaborate.

"Not by choice!" Filia frowned. "He just kept following me," she crossed her arms and made it clear she didn't really want to talk about him.

"And that's why you destroyed his clothes?" Lina laughed, causing Filia to blush.

"Did Xellos say that?" The embarrassed golden dragon was about to come up with some sort of denial, but realized it might not even be necessary. The piece of knowledge Lina had about the day's events was incomplete and out of context.

"Yeah, he said you attacked him with your dragon claws and his shirt paid the price, but that he was otherwise okay. I ran into him at the store when he was shopping for a replacement," Lina explained.

"Then that outfit he was wearing, it was actually a gift from you too?" Filia confirmed. Never mind that Xellos could just materialize some new clothes for himself, being a high level monster. Oh no, that wouldn't serve to provide information to Lina about the incident, because even if it was incomplete information, Filia would get annoyed and possibly embarrased by it anyway and Xellos knew it.

Lina nodded, "yeah, I know Xellos is annoying, but I got something for everyone, so I figured, why not?"

Taking the opportunity to encourage peace and friendship Amelia added, "I think we should take this vacation as an opportunity to become closer friends, all of us, even Mr. Xellos."

Filia huffed, "like that's going to happen."

"C'mon, Miss Filia, you should keep an open mind about Mr. Xellos," Amelia smiled encouragingly.

The comment about keeping an open mind reminded Filia about Xellos' odd request. She still didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish. Letting out a breath, she decided to humor Amelia, "alright, I'll keep an open mind." She was just saying that really, she would have to be on her guard. "I'm very tired now, so if it's okay I'll be going to sleep."

The girls all decided that it was best to go to sleep. After exchanging good nights, they got comfortable on their beds and blew out the candles, letting sleep come.

xoxox xox xoxox

It was still night time when Xellos appeared in the room where Filia, Lina and Amelia still slept. He placed an odd gray cloud shaped candle with swirls of white and black in it on the night stand next to Filia's bed. He would continue his research if this didn't work, but if he could spare himself that, he would.

Xellos then placed some odd masks over Lina and Amelia's faces. The so called masks looked more like paper boats then anything else. He lit the candle, leaving Filia unprotected against its effects then took up the extra bed in the room, which happened to be next to Filia, Amelia was in the opposite corner and Lina snored loudly between the two girls behind the paper that stuck to her face even when she tossed and turned. Xellos closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of the candle, allowing sleep to overtake him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Filia found herself in a strange place. The skies were painted in the color of the sunset and a vast field of flowers spread out far until it faded into white sand with a calm ocean reaching out endlessly in the opposite direction. Filia breathed in the fresh air and stretched out her arms, the scene was absolutely beautiful. She didn't know where she was, but she didn't question it, she only enjoyed it. Had she stopped to think about it for a moment, she would have realized that this was a dream.

Xellos crash landed into Filia's dream several feet away, falling into a flowerbed. She seemed to remain unaware of his presence, entranced by the task of dipping her toes in the ocean. The purple haired monster lifted himself to a sitting position and examined his surroundings in horror. The scent of the candle should allow several people to share a dream and the current dreamscape was definitely Filia's. Xellos had heard that when humans are fond of each other they dream of each other. He knew for a fact that humans also tended to rely on dreams for a way to predict the future and be guided. Dragons were just as stupid as humans in his opinion, if not more, and humans were easy to manipulate. They tended to switch up cause and effect. Liking someone was a common reason to dream about them; therefore a dream about someone had to mean they liked them. Xellos was unsure if his curse could be broken in the dream world, but it was a possible shortcut worth exploring.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, in the real world, Lina turned over on her bed facing in Filia's direction. The light of the candle on the night stand woke her and she sleepily opened her eyes not quite all there. She didn't even notice the paper structure attached to her face as she softly blew on the odd candle that she had not noticed being there before. The candle wouldn't go out, so the sleepy Lina waved her hand, sending a small gust of wind at the candle. The candle was not blown out immediately, but it was knocked off the night stand.

The cloud shape shattered upon hitting the floor as if it was made of the most fragile glass. The flame flared then promptly died, letting out an invisible smoke that was trapped in the room to be breathed in only by Filia, Xellos and a certain unseen other. Reacting on automatic, Lina shot a freeze arrow of lesser potency at where the already extinguished flame should have been, then returned to sleep instantly, the consequences of her actions remaining completely unknown to her.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 006: Terrifying! In The Land of Nightmares

The calm sound of the ocean, the scent of the flowers, the oh so gentle breeze. The picturesque scene was only a dream, Filia's dream, but it was starting to get to Xellos. Taking a deep breath and immediately regretting it he coughed as a manifestation of his discomfort. For someone who was so temperamental when she was awake, Filia sure emanated fuzzy feelings in her sleep. It was time to change that. Xellos willed the dream to take a different shape. If he was going to motivate Filia to kiss him by eliminating the possibility of being embarrassed, after all, this was the privacy of her own mind as far as she knew, then he couldn't make the atmosphere too sinister. He couldn't leave it as it was either; it was just too nightmarish from his perspective. He willed the scene to change some more... then it happened.

What happened was not the change that Xellos had in mind, but a completely different one. The flowers all wilted and died, sure he was wishing for it in the back of his mind but he didn't will it, then the sea dried up. The scent of dead sea life, fish, jellyfish and the like, was left behind as the water evaporated. The grass withered, going from brown to gray, turning to ashes and Filia screamed. Zombified hands with bony fingers and ragged rotten skin popped out of the ground grabbing the terrified Filia. She had no time to fight back as she was dragged in, the sand beneath her feet turning into black quicksand.

"Filia!" Xellos called out as he rushed to her. He wanted to tone down the fluff, not turn the dream into a horror house.

"Xellos!" Filia's shrill scream wasn't one of accusatory anger, it was a desperate call for help. She was sinking fast, the sand up to her neck.

Xellos dived forward to grasp her outstretched hand as her head went below the quicksand. He managed to reach her hand and pulled with all his might. Filia's head reappeared above the sand as Xellos kept trying to pull her out. Her expression was contorted in pain and she was still mostly stuck, but Xellos wasn't about to give up. He couldn't sense it, but he knew it was there, the presence of another monster. What he didn't understand was why he was unable to sense it. Perhaps it was one of those weak monsters with a special power. The answer was in the back of his head, but he couldn't access the memory when he was so focused on something else.

Filia emerged from the sand up to her waist. She managed to pull her other arm free taking hold of Xellos to attempt to pull herself all the way out of the sand, which was certainly not like normal quicksand. "Why is this happening? Who's attacking us?" She asked frantically.

"I don't know," voicing the truth tasted sour for Xellos, knowing things was part of his job and he hated that he had been caught off guard. In hind sight he could almost see the entire plot unfolding, but it was too late.

More zombified hands with rotting flesh, that were far longer than any human arm would be, though they were vaguely shaped as such, popped out of the sand and took hold of Xellos. They pulled him back away from Filia, trying to force him to let her go. They somehow mustered the strength to drive him to his knees and drag him away. There was a force at work that severely weakened him.

The zombie hands finally succeeded in pulling Xellos and Filia apart, with Filia sinking into the sand and Xellos being left face first in it. The hands sunk back beneath the surface and everything was left in silence. Xellos lifted himself up with some difficulty. He had enough of this, and he knew what this was. The memory surfaced, he figured it out.

The source of his predicament was no doubt a dream eater. It was a very weak monster that even a human child could beat to a bloody puddle if the being decided to pick a fight. Some humans called them lesser imps. They were small and annoying creatures that could do virtually no harm by lack of power when people were awake. They created the illusion of might by entering people's dreams and praying on their fears. They were indeed so weak that it was no wonder Xellos missed the hidden presence in the room. The creature didn't know who it was messing with. Xellos focused on making himself wake up. He would go back to the real world by waking up and deliver a painful death to the being that dared to challenge him. Then he would go back to sleep and fulfill his experiment properly.

Xellos waited but nothing happened. He focused harder and a peculiar scent invaded his nose. He realized that the scent, which could only be perceived by monsters, was not an illusion originating from the dream. As he focused on waking up, he managed to connect to his real senses. He had no image to look at save for that of the dream since his eyes in the real world remained closed, but he could faintly feel the pillow and mattress under him and the covers over him. He could also smell the candle, but the scent was far too strong.

The feeling of a soft pillow was replaced by a pounding headache and the scent of the candle left his perception as he was dragged completely into the dream. The candle was actually a container with a very special liquid inside. The flame extracted the liquid releasing it into the air in small portions over a limited range. The container must be broken; it was the only real explanation. It was odd in itself since usually dream eaters are not too smart. He doubted that the creature would have the plotting skills to know how beneficial breaking the candle would be.

Xellos focused some more, he could only feel Filia's presence in the dream world, which meant that Amelia and Lina had not been dragged into it. Sitting on the sand, Xellos looked exasperated, his usually squinting eyes opening with a dangerous glare. He was trapped and the power he could use in the dream world was limited. The dream eater couldn't harm him or even Filia, but he could terrify her and maybe even traumatize her. That would certainly interfere with his plans. He hated the feeling of being weak, even if it was only a strange illusion. Dream eaters could take control of everything, leaving the consciousness of their victims to struggle. He would have to save Filia and the odds were already against him, since the power he had at his disposal was no where near the real level.

Well he might as well get started. He began walking through the ashes that were piled where the field of flowers had once been. He saw a dark shadow looming in the distance which was worth checking out. He attempted to teleport towards it to no avail. He tried levitating and it also refused to work. In the end he had to run through the ashes that were piled deeper and deeper with each step.

By the time Xellos reached the pillar of darkness he was waist deep in ashes. The darkness emerged from a hole in the ground that was pitch black. A few haunting wails were heard from it followed by a scream that echoed from deep within. Just as he thought, the tunnel must lead to Filia. The stupid dream eater could not know who Xellos was. He was giving him the standard treatment, allowing for the perception of hope that was scheduled to be crushed.

If only Xellos could make himself wake up this would be different, but he knew that after being overtaken by the spell of the candle this deeply he wouldn't be able to wake up by sheer will. He wished that something would wake him up from outside, a noise or something. Maybe Lina or Amelia would wake up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. They would see him and yell at him for sleeping in their room, maybe even throw a pillow or something harder. That would be his ticket out of this nightmare and the first thing he would do would be to kill that insolent dream eater.

Without further ado, Xellos dove into the pitch black hole. He knew this was all an illusion, he could focus on that, but Filia would probably give into her fear and give the dream eater more false power. Xellos' landing was harsh, but he knew the pain was an illusion, he was a high level monster, he wouldn't feel pain from a simple fall like that. He landed in a sort of puddle in the darkness.

Flaming torches suddenly lit up on their own as if marking a path through the deep cavern. It was then that Xellos realized he had landed in a puddle of blood and the dark red substance was sticking to him. "Seriously, why must all idiots use the same old gory sceneries?" He couldn't do much, but he could at least clean himself up. He stood and focused, the blood disappearing from his skin and clothes. He dashed into the tunnel following the torches. He knew he would find Filia, he was supposed to catch a glimpse at his so called prize right about now, those dream eater scenarios were far too predictable.

As he made his way deeper into the tunnels, they became dimmer with the torches on the black stone cavern walls being more far apart. He finally arrived at a set of large doors and with more effort than it should require if any of this was real, he pushed one of them open just enough to squeeze in.

The next room was of the same fashion as the rest of the cave, black stone was all over and it was dark, save for the eerie glow of a throne crafted from bones adorned with human-like skulls on the armrests and the top of the backrest. It looked very uncomfortable to sit on. Filia was sitting on the floor next to the throne with a distant lost expression. She had cuts and bruises all over, mixed with dirt and grime. She heard his steps and looked up, "Xellos?"

"Yes," he hurried towards her purposefully. "I know this sounds crazy, but all of this is a dream, or rather a nightmare."

It didn't look like Filia was really listening to him. She stood shakily and approached him. "Xellos?" She inquired again, stumbling forward to be caught by him. "The real one?"

Her question caught Xellos' attention, "what do you mean?" Was there a fake him running around? It wasn't an unusual tactic for a dream eater to use on a human. Create a false copy of an ally and have the copy commit some sort of evil action that makes the victim feel betrayed and hopeless. Then when the real one shows up, they will get the accusations and consequences. Humans were too easy to manipulate and sometimes the accusations of dreams evolved into real accusations. If only they could differentiate dreams from reality and prophetic dreams from stupid dreams the humans wouldn't be such easy pray... or the dragons in this case.

"He looks just like you, but I knew he wasn't the real you," Filia revealed. "When you took over the monster race I thought you changed, that you turned even worse than you were. Then I realized that it wasn't you. You're evil, but you're the kind of evil that finds amusement in his actions. The impostor, the one who calls himself the monster king is just cruel." A few tears escaped her. "It's strange; when I realized it and yelled that I knew he wasn't the real Xellos he got angry and left. I've been sitting here for a while, knowing that he would return to kill me. I can't believe their all dead," she sobbed. "Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Val-"

"That's a lie," Xellos interrupted before Filia could finish listing off the names. "Whatever background you're provided with your weak subconscious accepts it, but it's a lie. Think of the details, of the specifics. Don't think of an explanation that makes sense, try to remember it rather than find the logic in it. This is all an illusion!"

"I'd like to think that," Filia sobbed. "Where have you been? Where you frozen like some of the monsters who opposed the new rule? Did you just escape?"

Xellos knew that he wasn't getting anywhere fast and the dream eater probably wouldn't give him much more time to talk to Filia. "Don't resist, relax, leave your mind at a blank and don't do anything. Close your eyes and just breathe." She didn't know why she was doing it, but Filia did as she was told. "You can look now."

Perplexed as to what Xellos meant, Filia examined her surroundings which were all just the same. Then she looked down at her clothes. Rather than wearing dirty rags, her clothes were fully repaired and perfectly clean. She had no cuts or bruises what so ever. "How did you heal me? You even fixed my clothes, how is that possible?"

"Since this is a dream I can influence you," and she could influence him, but Xellos decided not to point that out. "You were attacked by a dream eater," okay time to pretend to be gallant, it might benefit him in the long run. "I came here to save you, risking my own life!" He added in a lower tone, "and sanity..."

Filia only stared at Xellos unsure, she looked as if the phrase 'dream eater' stirred up some memories but they were so deeply buried that she couldn't immediately drag them out.

The scene was interrupted by the appearance of the dream eater, teleporting into a sitting position on the bony throne in Xellos' appearance. The appearance decayed to a rotten zombie version of Xellos with glowing red eyes. "You're so well informed, human; could you be a dream guardian?"

Xellos seriously considered smacking his face with his palm at this point in disbelief of the dream eater's stupidity. However, he decided against the action as it would probably mitigate the effect of the deadly glare he was giving that lowly monster. He didn't realize zombies could sweat, not that it was a real zombie anyway.

"What's he talking about?" Filia inquired in confusion. She was beginning to get used to the idea of this being a dream by trying to remember, not explain, how the chain of events took place which ended up with that Xellos look alike taking over the world and not even having the mercy to put her out of her misery instead keeping her as his personal slave. It was her worse nightmare, but it didn't feel so real once she realized that the finer points of the so called happenings didn't make sense. Besides, she vaguely remembered hearing about what a dream eater was, though she wasn't too clear on it.

"A long time ago, the dream eaters wrecked havoc among humans," Xellos explained. "They have no real power and they're rather stupid. They invade people's dreams and take on the form of their worse nightmare, information that people unwillingly project when they show extreme fear in a subconscious state. The humans considered the dream eaters to be dangerous because they could drive a person into madness. However, they eventually discovered that their attacks were purely psychological and that they had no physical power what so ever. Once they conquered the psychological attacks by holding on to the idea that dreams are not real, a turning point was reached."

The zombie Xellos twitched. He didn't like where the conversation was going. He thought he was in trouble and he didn't even know the half of it. He was still unaware of the fact that Xellos was a very pissed off high level monster that would painfully kill him when he got out of this.

Xellos concluded his explanation, "once the humans figured out how to beat the dream eaters, a few were trained in such techniques and used a special scent that only monsters can smell, though it is nonetheless effective on any creature, humans and dragons included. Those who inhaled the invisible miasma would share a dream, thus the dream guardians could protect others from the dream eaters until the actual dream eaters were found in the real world and exterminated. Humans got the hang of it and drove them to extinction, or so it was said. As it sometimes happens when it is thought there isn't a single specimen of something left, it turns out that there might be a few left after all." It was his understanding that the last dream eater was kept in suspended animation in the private collection of a certain someone. It was very suspicious indeed. Xellos doubted that it would be likely that the creature actually escape. He assumed that this was a different one entirely and that there were more than one left after all, though not for long. He would still keep his mind open to the possibility that the creature had been set loose on purpose, though it seemed unlikely.

Filia nodded at the explanation, remembering when she heard about it during her education when she was little. "Human, you really are a dream guardian!" The dream eater gasped.

Xellos felt his eye twitch in annoyance at being called a human. He in turn answered with the more degrading name later given to the dream eaters, "lesser imp," a mere imp, an annoyance more so than a threat and the least significant of them all. "You will die a very painful death! Seek him, Filia!"

"What?!" Filia glared fiercely at Xellos. Okay, so she was dreaming, she wrapped her mind around that idea already. Even in her dream Xellos was just as annoying, but not even in her dreams could she forgive him. "I'm not a dog!" She made a giant mace about three times her size materialize in her hands and smashed it into Xellos' head, pleased that when she lifted it he was stamped into the floor and having some difficulty getting up. At least he seemed to be significantly less powerful in her dreams.

Xellos muttered something angry and possibly too offensive to fit in the PG-13 category. Because of that stupid lesser imp he couldn't fully influence Filia's dream beyond a few small details, not until the imp let go of it and Filia was the only one who could make him do that. Being the primary dreamer in the equation, only Filia could defeat the imp from the dream world. Though that wouldn't kill him, Xellos would take care of that when he woke up.

"If this is my dream it's about time I took control of it! March forward my friends!" An army of adorable fuzzy kittens and bunnies appeared out of thin air and attacked the dream eater. Xellos backed away horrified, Filia's mind was a very scary place, not that he would ever admit that to her. Another thing he would never admit was that he kind of thought that evil sounding "mwahahaha" laugh of sweet revenge she was doing was almost worthy of a monster.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 007: Furtive! In The Privacy Of My Mind

It looked as if the wind was blowing, judging by the multitude of cherry blossom petals flying around Filia's dream. Yet the visual effect didn't come with the actual feeling of wind, in an odd contradiction that could only occur in dreams. Filia took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she stood in an endless field with colorful flowers, vibrant blues skies, a few fluffy white clouds scattered about and a pretty rainbow. Cute little birds were perched on the branches of the trees while bunnies and kittens played tag all around.

Xellos twitched, "you're a horrifying person," he tried hard to sense the meager presence of the dream eater. "It looks like the dream eater is gone."

"Of course it is, I was trained to take control of my dreams. I was just a little out of practice, that's all," Filia explained with a smile on her face. Then her smile melted into puzzlement. "That's odd, why are you still here? The nightmare is over. Really, I don't know what's worse, Xellos taking over the world or Xellos playing the role of my knight in shining armor in my dreams." She shuddered. "I think of that idiot too often, now I can't make his image fade away," she glared.

Xellos was feeling rather exasperated. The invisible mist was still around though the lesser imp had turned tail and ran. Regardless of his attempts to run and hide, Xellos would surely hunt him down... and he would find him. He realized that Filia seemed to think that his presence was only part of the dream and the dream eater alone was responsible for the disturbances. Maybe he could use that in his favor. "You know, Filia, if I'm a fragment of your imagination, then anything that happens here is known only in the privacy of your own mind. Which means that no one can pressure you into doing anything and any actions you take are yours alone."

"Why is this subconscious aspect of me stating the obvious?" Filia wondered, then shuddered again at the thought of any aspect of hers looking like Xellos.

Okay, so he would have to be more hands on about this. If he could get Filia to kiss him now, his torture would be over. Xellos approached her slowly and wrapped his arms around her, his face an inch away from hers.

Filia seemed more confused than unnerved, since she thought this was all her. "Ah, of course, dreams reveal one's hidden fears. I should stop being afraid of Xellos' idiocy," she pushed him away with more nonchalance than she had ever before displayed around him. "Now, how to spend the rest of my dream?" She sat down on the ground to ponder.

"Facing your fears? Satisfying your hidden desires?" Xellos suggested as he sat behind her massaging her shoulders.

"Hmm..." Filia allowed herself to relax for a split second before she caught herself and slapped his hands away. "Even in my own imagination this is wrong." She searched for a hidden motivation she might have to keep Xellos in her dream. Usually she got lost in dreams and let things flow naturally, most of the time not even realizing she was dreaming until she woke up. This was one of those rare lucid dreams and she didn't want to waste it. Why was Xellos there? She came up with a theory and grinned. "I see, after that nightmare it's logical that I would want some payback." She snapped her fingers and Xellos found himself wearing a completely silly pair of pink bunny ears and a big frilly pink collar with a large golden tag hanging from it. The inscription on the golden tag read, 'Filia's slave.'

"Are you under the effects of another of those special berries again?" Xellos tried to annoy Filia, but she barely blushed.

"I suppose it wouldn't feel like payback without a little realism. It's creepy how well my subconscious can reenact Xellos." Filia turned away from him again and patted her shoulders. "I'm feeling kind of tense, right here."

"So this is what you've been doing all along?" Xellos wasn't sure if he was amused, disturbed, or strangely flattered. "Fantasizing about having me as your personal slave?"

Filia ignored Xellos and tried to concentrate. "Okay subconscious, time to sort things out and do some good old philosophical thinking. It's been a while since I've done that in a dream, but it can be quite insightful." She paused and brought up the first confusing subject that plagued her. "What could Xellos' next evil plan be?"

"Maybe he just wants a kiss and if you kiss him he'll just go away?" That wasn't a very smart way to go about his goal, but Xellos was tired. He was starting to think that nothing could be worth spending so much time in Filia's head.

"It's odd," Filia continued her insightful monologue, "Amelia also suggested that I should keep an open mind..."

"About kissing me?" That would be weird, how would Amelia know about any of this anyway? Caught off guard, Xellos stopped massaging Filia's shoulders.

"Don't stop," Filia commanded before continuing her musings. "I think Amelia is way too lax with who she gives her friendship too, or the opportunity of friendship anyway."

So Amelia wasn't in on this, it would make no sense for her to know. However, it did sound a lot like her to be all up for friendship. Xellos continued massaging Filia's shoulders and listening.

"There's something in the back of my mind that I can't quite understand. My judgment about cataloguing Xellos as evil feels like it could be flawed." This was something else that caught Xellos by surprise, which Filia only admitted to herself. "If only I could place my finger on the missing detail, why does it feel flawed to think this way?"

"It's just like with the ancient dragons," Xellos suggested. He could definitely use this to his favor, even more so given that Filia was convinced he was a particle of her own subconscious.

A small gasp escaped Filia as she mused over it. "The golden dragons hunted down the ancient dragons because they were fearful of their power. It was terribly unfair, but that can't be the case with the monsters. The monsters are openly evil!" Before Xellos could come out with a counter argument, Filia did it for him. "Then again, there could be an exception, although rare..." She shook her head, her long blond hair bouncing around her. "I should investigate this matter and see if such an event was ever recorded in history."

The rest of the dream was spent with Filia practicing her pottery skills in a visualization technique that was supposed to help her improve her abilities. By Xellos' calculations it was almost time for someone to wake up naturally, possibly him. He didn't need sleep anyway and it was only a matter of time before his body had enough of it. "It's almost time to get up."

"How perceptive of me," Filia put the finishing touches on her last vase; it was pink with white petals painted on it. "This started out as a nightmare but it turned out to be a good dream after all," she concluded with a smile. She strode over to Xellos and blushed. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but I might as well get it out of my system in the privacy of my own mind. Although, I think I'll need a thousand self analysis dreams to figure this out." She kissed him.

This time it was willing, this time it was supposed to work... in theory. Xellos waited for a moment, he still felt cursed. He responded to the kiss, still cursed. He realized it wasn't working, she was kissing a figment of her imagination as far as she knew, not him. Yet he didn't let go of Filia until he faded away from her dream.

xoxox xox xoxox

The first thing that assaulted Xellos' senses in the real world was a pillow being thrown by Lina. How in the world did she manage to wake up before him? She had ripped off the paper mask and was yelling insults at him over the terrible crime of entering a maiden's room without permission. Of course Filia and Amelia woke up soon after, with Filia automatically tossing her dream to the back of her mind. One idea about it remained prominently in her memories though; she had to research monsters and the possibility of the existence of a... not good, but at least half decent monster at some rare point in history.

After being chased out by Lina, Xellos left, off to do some lesser imp hunting and was absent from the breakfast table when the group met downstairs to eat. Gourry and Lina's appetites were just the same as ever that morning and an air of familiarity was around them mixed with the excitement of novelty. Filia's research would have to wait, since she had some roller coaster involving plans to tend to.

"Did everyone sleep well?" Amelia politely asked at the breakfast table, while Lina and Gourry devoured a mountain of food.

Gourry answered something incomprehensible, then swallowed and repeated, "I slept great!" Without a moment's pause, he resumed his eating.

"Me too, up until the incident, anyway," at least Lina swallowed most of her food before her first attempt at a reply. Not all of it, but enough to be understood.

"Incident?" Zelgadis questioned curiously.

"It was that idiot Xellos!" Filia took the opportunity to criticize him. "He was sleeping in our room. After Lina chased him out, we searched the room for traps, but didn't find any. Either way, I think he's plotting something!" Because if history ever remembered a good, or at least half decent monster, it wouldn't be Xellos.

"When is he not plotting something?" Zelgadis agreed. Filia smiled at having someone's support, unlike Amelia who was all out for friendship and Lina who had the nerve to include Xellos in her gift giving spree the day before.

"Exactly," Filia nodded and slapped away Lina's hand as she tried to steal her muffin. Although Filia had some researched planned, her mood towards Xellos that morning was no where near favorable.

"Where is Mr. Xellos anyway?" Amelia took a look around the hotel's food court and was unable to locate Xellos.

"Probably off somewhere plotting," Filia's face brightened at the possibility of spending the day without him. She was strangely moody that morning.

"Well, we're not waiting for him. As soon as we're done eating we're hitting the roller coaster!" Lina loudly declared in the voice of a leader. Filia smiled, for once she had no complaints about Lina and Gourry's speedy way to consume food, though she still wish they had a normal appetite so they could be done before Xellos showed up if he intended to. Then again, this was all going to be charged to Xellos... Filia smiled some more.

xoxox xox xoxox

The line to ride the roller coaster was huge. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia stood out there in the sun, waiting for the line to move. Though the wait was long and Lina was impatient, they could at least chat with each other while they waited, and there was no Xellos.

Meanwhile, on another part of the resort, Xellos was on the hunt for a certain troublesome lesser imp. By the next night, the mist would have cleared out of the girls room and he wasn't about to try that particular useless strategy again, but he wanted vengeance anyway. Pushing his senses to the limit, he managed to catch what could have been the weak aura of the lesser imp. Holding on to the perception, Xellos followed it to a structure with a large sign advertising it to be a mirror maze. He entered and followed the aura, but going in a straight line wasn't going to work, this was a maze after all.

Xellos turned left and right at seemingly random yet well calculated intervals. Albeit the maze might seem complex to a human, it was nothing compared to the collection of caverns that formed the underground hideout of some monsters. He finally spotted the creature in its true form, grinning cruelly.

The being was small and thin, about two feet tall if it were standing upright, though it was currently crouched in a corner in fear. It saw the unmistakable reflection of that same purple haired man from his disastrous venture the previous night and he knew his life was about to end. The being was a of a mud-like color with the shade of dirt brown changing in patches on its dry skin. Its little angular face had glistering red eyes and long ears sticking out from the sides of its head with ragged skin hanging from them.

Xellos glared at the creature. "Before I kill you, I want to ask if anyone sent you here. I will know if you're lying and make your death even more painful." Not that he was planning to have any mercy anyway.

The being trembled and stretched out his right hand, revealing a symbol on his palm. The symbol was not something that belonged to a specific entity, but rather an all purpose symbol for silence that even a lesser human sorcerer could give such a lowly weak creature. This meant that the lesser imp couldn't communicate anything that was a secret, thus he couldn't share any useful information.

"Interesting..." Perhaps someone let the imp loose in the resort as a joke or it was a gift from the competition. Yet the fact remained that Xellos had thought the dream eaters were extinct. If this was truly the last one it seemed off that the previous owner would use a human silence spell on it. It made little sense; maybe the previous owner was just trying to confuse people, but who would even begin to build suspicions anyway? Xellos pushed away the thoughts, this had to be a mere coincidence, the collector had nothing to do with it... maybe.

"Good bye!" Black light bounced off Xellos' fingertips accompanied by violet lightning. The magic hit the target dead on and destroyed it as it let out a wail of pain and was reduced to ashes. The strange part was that some of the magic bounced off the mirror and towards Xellos who dodged it. Those were very peculiar mirrors indeed... He frowned, how in the world did he fall for such an obvious trap? "Interesting..." He stated once more, there had to be a greater power at work. There was no way Xellos could have missed the aura of the second monster that now had him right where it wanted. A power perhaps greater than Xellos' must have hidden that aura, but there were only so many monsters stronger than Xellos.

xoxox xox xoxox

The rush of wind, the moments when she realized she was upside down, the speed, the laughs, it was like flying, only more fun. When the roller coaster cart reached the end of the track, Filia realized that it wasn't long enough. She still felt the need to soar speedily even if it was in the confines of a cart. With a few laughs still spilling out in a fit, the group exited the roller coaster cart and made their way out, ushered by employees. The line outside was constantly growing and it was obvious they wouldn't get another ride anytime soon.

"After all that waiting they should give us ten rides," Lina observed. She could just use magic to fly around, but it wasn't the same as a roller coaster.

"I know what you mean," Filia agreed. "Strangely, I feel like spreading my wings and flying right now. I guess the ride really was too short and left me wanting more." She soon realized in horror that Lina and Amelia were looking at her with plotting expressions. They suddenly reminded her of Xellos, it was a bad sign. "No..." Filia read the thoughts in their eyes. "No, no, no, absolutely not!"

"Please, Miss Filia!" Amelia begged, her eyes becoming big and shiny as she did.

"C'mon, Filia, do it for us!" Lina joined in with a similar expression.

Gourry looked at Filia with a clueless face. "What are you doing for us again?"

"I'm not giving you a ride on my back like a roller coaster!" Filia snapped. She crossed her arms, stomped her feet and put on a stubborn expression.

"You are?" Gourry's face brightened, "thanks Filia!" He smiled.

"I just said I'm not!" Filia insisted to no avail as Lina and Amelia kept giving her sad kitten looks.

"Looks like you're trapped in a corner," Zelgadis stated with indifference. "If you ask me, the easiest way to get out of this is to humor them..."

"Oh, quit pretending, Zel," Lina patted him on the back as if giving him a little push towards honesty. "You want a ride as much as the rest of us!"

"Absolutely not!" Filia remained firm.

Lina sighed and feigned resignation, "if you say so. I guess that's it for roller coaster rides for today. What else could we do? Maybe Xellos will have an idea, we should go find him."

Filia's eyes widened. "We don't need Xellos to tell us what to do. There are lots of fun things to do here; I can come up with a lot of ideas myself!"

"I have an idea!" Before Gourry could state his idea, Lina elbowed him in the ribs. "Ow... I think I forgot."

Quickly catching on to Lina's plan, Amelia fueled it. "Miss Lina is right, I'm sure Mr. Xellos will come up with all sorts of entertaining ideas for us to spend the day together." Amelia felt mean for using Xellos to pressure Filia, but she really wanted a ride, the roller coaster had left her wanting more and she couldn't resist. "Right, Mr. Zelgadis?" Amelia winked as a hint that Zelgadis should follow the plan.

As easily as Zelgadis blushed, his face turned red and he babbled an agreement. He knew Amelia was only trying to reference Lina's obvious plan, but that didn't make her any less cute. Although Zelgadis didn't enjoy Xellos' presence, he was caught off guard and had already agreed to it.

Filia considered the option of simply going off on her own, but she felt that she shouldn't take off in a huff. Besides, if they did find Xellos and send him to her, he would be all too happy to annoy her all day. It was best if Xellos got lost and remained lost. "Alright, alright, I'll play the part of a roller coaster!" Filia raised her hands in an exasperated surrender. "Just let me find a private place to transform."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 008: Sneaky! Conspiracies and Traps

In the mirror maze, Xellos sat on the floor with apparent patience, talking to seemingly no one, but knowing full well he was being heard. "I do wonder what in the world could have motivated you to try to kill me. It's a bold move indeed." He had the distinct feeling that he was lacking information. "Have any peculiar events happened concerning the monster race that I am as of yet unaware of?" There was no reply. "I suppose I'll know soon enough. Oh yes, I do apologize if I am disappointing you, but I do plan on leaving alive."

A monster cannot be killed unless it is by a force of greater power. But even when the opponent didn't have that power, if it was backed by it, that would present the possibility of victory. Yet still, Xellos couldn't think of a likely reason as to why that particular monster would want him dead. Well he could think of several, actually, but why take such a risk? Furthermore, why conclude that the odds were favorable enough? There was definitely something going on in the high ranks of the monsters and whenever Xellos escaped this death trap, he was determined to find out what it was... somehow. It didn't make it easy that he wasn't supposed to go any where near monster headquarters until after his dare was done, a rule that he could bend only in case of an extreme emergency and this wasn't that bad yet.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Faster Filia!" Lina cheered as Filia soared through the sky in her dragon form with Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis on her back.

"Wee!" Amelia got carried away and raised her hands into the air, forgetting the fact that dragons didn't come with built-in seat belts. "Spin Miss Filia!"

As Filia made loops in the air, too fast to give those holding on time to fall off, it was Zelgadis who saved Amelia from falling since she wasn't properly holding on. "Be careful, Amelia!"

"Oh... sorry about that, I got carried away," Amelia blushed, becoming more aware of Zelgadis' arms around her waist. "Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis."

"This is even more fun than a roller coaster!" Gourry loudly proclaimed as Filia gained altitude.

"Now for the big dive, hold on everyone!" Even if at first she was opposed to the idea of serving as a sort of living roller coaster, once she got into it, Filia was having fun. She flew up high then dived towards the ground at amazing speed to the sound of her friends' delight. She pulled up at the last second, inches away from touching the ground and glided as she slowed to a stop, landing gently. Filia stretched out her tail and positioned her body, leaning back so the group could slide off her back into a pile of amused laughter.

"That was fun!" Gourry cheered, "but all this flying is making me hungry." It was about time he made a comment like that.

Lina looked up at the sky where the sun shone brilliantly directly overhead. "It's mid day and the smell of food is getting to me too."

The people lounging around the picnic area above which they had been flying made no motion to panic at the sight of a dragon, so Filia was all too happy to ignore them. That was until several approached and tried to climb on her back. "What are you doing? I'm not part of the resort's attractions!" The people around her didn't seem to be taking her seriously and insisted on trying to climb on her back. "I said no!" For the sake of protecting her personal space, Filia took off once more, disappearing into the skies above. That didn't completely discourage the stubborn couples on the ground, who thought riding on a dragon was oh so romantic. Many followed her on foot waiving at her to come down, without even the smallest chance to actually catch up to her.

"There goes Filia," Lina shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand as she looked in the direction Filia had taken off in. "What do you say we find a place to eat?"

"I think that's a good idea, Miss Lina, I'm sure we all feel like having some lunch by now. I hope Miss Filia is alright on her own." Amelia politely commented with only a hint of pink on her cheeks. She seemed to be pretending she didn't notice Zelgadis' arm around her waist while very much enjoying the close contact. Zelgadis was doing the exact same thing.

Lina grinned upon noticing how close Amelia and Zelgadis were. "Why don't we meet by the fountain after lunch?" There was no real reason for them to further split up after they had decided to spend the day as a group, but Lina wanted to give Amelia some alone time with Zelgadis. Lina didn't think that it also meant that she would be alone with Gourry; because the two traveled together by themselves so often that it was the most natural thing.

"Oh?" Amelia paused, wondering why Lina would suggest splitting up. Zelgadis' arm around her waist became an even more prominent thought in her mind. He stopped her from falling off Filia and kind of forgot to let go. "Okay," she smiled, blushing full force. "We'll see you later, Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry."

Lina grinned mischievously, "have a good time you two!" She was looking right at Zelgadis as if hinting at something.

Zelgadis couldn't help it but to blush, chimera skin or not, he had no control over it. "The same goes to you." He managed to reply somewhat steadily, then wasted no more time before leaving with Amelia.

xoxox xox xoxox

After losing her stubborn pursuers, Filia landed between two buildings and after making sure no one was watching her, she swiftly transformed. She walked out of the alley and into the long main street of the resort. Taking a breath of relief she examined her surroundings. It was midday and knowing Lina and Gourry, they were probably hungry. It stood to reason, regardless of the normalcy of their appetite, that Amelia and Zelgadis would be hungry too, so was Filia.

She was about to search for her friends to join them in having lunch, but stopped as she sensed something. The aura of a monster that had been previously hidden by a power grater than even Xellos' was no longer being concealed. She stared at the mirror maze before her. The energy of darkness was clearly coming from there, though it felt as if the source was the entire building, yet the aura was a singular one so it couldn't be a horde of monsters. Feeling as if it was somehow her duty to investigate, Filia braced herself for the worse and rushed in to save any unfortunate human victims that might have stumbled into a monster trap.

As she made her way through the mirror maze, she realized it was deserted and found it odd. She thought she saw some people going inside as she walked down the street a few seconds ago. The aura of the unknown monster was all around, but there was also a familiar aura which Filia picked up as she approached it. She turned a reflective corner and at the conclusion of a dead-end hallway she saw a certain someone sitting cross-legged on the floor as if waiting for something, or someone.

"Hello, Filia," he sounded mocking, which came as no surprise.

"Xellos!" Filia spat out the name like venom, to her, 'Xellos' was becoming the single most insulting sound anyone could speak. "I'm on to your plans, you and your monster friend," the word friend was coated in heavy sarcasm, "are trying to harm the people in this resort!"

Xellos chuckled despite the unfavorable situation he was in. "Really Filia, I didn't expect any more from you, a failed conclusion, a failed attempt to stop a non-existent plot, getting caught in a trap. I can't really say I'm disappointed because I didn't expect you to know any better, who would?"

Filia let out a sound that could only be described as a menacing growl worthy of the fearsome fame that dragons had in certain parts of the world. "I'm not going to make it easy." She was ready to fight back tooth and nail, or rather fang and claw.

"I'm not the one you should be worried about," Xellos grinned with the mocking look of one who is all too aware of a secret that affects others, but they don't know it. "As it stands, you're already in the belly of the beast." He was too, but he wasn't about to point it out.

"What are you plotting?" Filia's golden scaly tail appeared from beneath her dress, the usual pink bow replaced with a light blue one that better matched her vacation attire.

"I thought you claimed to know exactly what I was plotting," Xellos grinned.

"Speak, monster!" Filia did her best to sound as confident as possible, never mind that Xellos could easily kill her. If he wanted to, he would just do it, so what was the point of pretending to want peace?

"Shut up!" A booming voice that came from everywhere and nowhere echoed through the mirror maze. "I've had enough of your loud mouth, dragon." The atmosphere around Filia began to distort as the mirrors melted into a sort of transparent goop that tried to grab her and pull her in. Filia screamed and struggled to fight back, gathering energy in her mouth.

"That's a bad idea," Xellos pointed out nonchalant. He had not moved an inch the entire time.

Filia let out a powerful laser breath that bounced off the reflective surface and nearly took off her head on the rebound. Fortunately, she managed to dodge it despite her very limited movement. The laser bounced off a mirror behind her with less potency as last time. The odd angle carried it towards Xellos, who had no choice but to finally move. The laser bounced again repeatedly, losing power each time until it harmlessly faded away in the air. Filia was not inclined to try that again and there wasn't much else she could do. She didn't have her mace with her, neither did Xellos carry his staff, not that it mattered much anyway. The transparent goop absorbed her into the wall unpleasantly. For a few eternal seconds, Filia thought she was suffocating before being tossed out through the ceiling of the hallway, landing in Xellos' arms.

"Ugh," that same booming voice from before complained while making gagging noises. "I can't take it, golden dragons taste terrible!"

"Excuses, you are simply incapable of digesting a power greater than your own. When that power is a golden dragon that's the first sign that you're a weakling!" Xellos teased, golden dragons were powerful creatures, but not in comparison to him. "If not for the help of a certain someone, you wouldn't have been able to hide your aura from me either."

Any further comments on Xellos' part were interrupted by Filia's hand colliding harshly with his face. "Put me down!" She demanded, already bracing herself to be dropped, thus easily landing on her feet when Xellos let her go.

"Hmp!" The booming voice that came from nowhere and everywhere sounded smug. "Regardless of what you say, you're both my prisoners. I might not be able to digest you, but I'm completely invulnerable on the inside. You'll just have to sit there and die of starvation. The dragon will no doubt go first, then you Xellos, there's no energy for you to absorb here."

"What in the world is going on?" Filia yelled beyond the end of her patience. "Xellos, what is this? It almost sounds as if this monster is your enemy too."

"Give the girl a price for getting her single lonely brain cell to work," was Xellos' sarcastic reply.

"Stop dancing around the issue you piece of raw garbage!" Filia demanded.

Xellos chuckled, "I suppose that if I don't tell you directly, explaining things step by step with small words, then you'll never understand."

"Will you two shut up?" The booming voice yelled, making their ears ring. While Filia cringed at the noise, Xellos managed to maintain an indifferent expression.

"No," Xellos smiled. "As I was saying, Filia, this here is a monster and by this I mean the mirror maze. It's one of those monsters that normally is quite weak and can be slain by any semi-decent human sorcerer. This isn't how this type of monster looks normally. The appearance it usually has can be compared to a giant worm. This type of monster often pretends to be a cave so it can eat unsuspecting travelers. There is another monster involved in this. It is made of transparent goop. It has no offensive power what so ever. It can try to suffocate its victims, but even a normal human can literally brush it off and escape, although destroying the creature is extremely difficult. Those two monsters were fused together like chimeras and a new one was created. As a result, the worm gained the defense of the goop on the inside. The new product was then caused to shape shift via magic and transformed into the mirror maze."

Filia had heard about both types of monsters, but she had never heard about them being fused. Monster alchemy was a very scary thought. "Then we've already been eaten? But if the defense is all on the inside, then wouldn't that mean that this thing can be defeated from the outside?"

"Remind me to stick a gold star on your forehead later," Xellos was evidently still in the mood to provide sarcastic replies, he usually was. "There's only one problem, who would think to attack an innocent looking mirror maze? The monster's aura is hidden; I know you couldn't have been able to feel it on your way in. Or were you stupid enough to come in anyway?"

"Shut up!" Filia growled, "you're in this too. Or do you have an explanation as to why you got eaten too? Are you stupid or just masochistic?"

"I am neither, sorry to disappoint you on that second one, but you'll have to take your mace wielding inappropriate fantasies elsewhere." Even if he was in a lot of trouble, Xellos still had the motivation to throw out his annoying witty replies.

"Ew!" The echoing voice of the chimera mirror maze monster loudly exclaimed. It made Filia jump, couldn't that thing give a bit of a warning when it was about to speak? "I really don't want to hear about the strange things you two do. It's disgusting, what are you? Humans?"

Xellos gave the walls a dirty look, "I will kill you for that offense."

"Go ahead and try," the mirror maze monster taunted. "Watching you struggling helplessly," because the being was indeed able to see all that happened inside it. "Is still better than watching you two make out. A monster and a dragon? Unthinkable! It makes me want to puke!"

There was a long awkward silence between Xellos and Filia. Neither of them looked at each other as they processed what the echoing voice had just said. Then Xellos ever so slowly turned his head towards Filia with a mischievous grin. Filia felt Xellos purple eyes burning into the side of her face, not literally thankfully, and quickly looked at him with an expression of horror. "No," she firmly declared, stomping her foot for emphasis.

"It might be the only way out of here," Xellos pointed out, pretending that he didn't at all feel kind of odd about the so called escape plan.

"No, no! Absolutely not! I would rather stay here until I die!" Filia dramatized, though she soon took it back. "Actually, who says I'm going to die? Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis are out there. We had a great time together, without you," she gave Xellos a pointed look. "They'll wonder where I went and come looking for me. It's only a matter of time before they find me, then Lina will Dragon Slave this gluttonous monster to oblivion!"

"I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not likely that they'll find us. Even if they do, they'll probably get themselves caught before they even know what's going on." Xellos explained with superficial calm.

"What about you?" Filia glared, all too happy to point out what she pointed out next. "Are you helpless against this thing? Why haven't you killed the monster who dared to eat you and compare you to a human? You looked rather offended, are you just going to take that?"

"I'll get my revenge," Xellos assured with sinister certainty. "I'll get my revenge on this monster and on the monster lord trying to kill me."

Filia's face paled. "The monster lord trying to kill you?" She stuttered.

"Yes," Xellos confirmed. "Due to reasons that are not your concern, I've been a little out of communication with the monster race. It seems another of the monster lords decided it was a fine opportunity to lower Beast Master's ranks by getting rid of me." It was only a theory, a suspicion, but a guess was all that Xellos could currently come up with. "It is that monster who granted this one additional power and used the circumstances to its favor. Weak monsters with special abilities, normally they're nothing, but with some power-ups and some strategizing, additionally in this case a combination, they can be... vexing." Xellos returned his face to his usual carefree expression. "Oh, but don't worry, I won't let a little thing like an assassination attempt ruin my vacation."

Filia's brain was on overdrive analyzing each new fact she had learned. If the monster race was on the move, that could spell trouble for the whole world. Then again, from what she could gather, this sounded like an internal conflict, which at least meant that the different factions of the monster race could ultimately weaken each other. Although they were monsters, so they would probably drag innocent people into their quarrels and ultimately cause a considerable number of catastrophes. Xellos sounded oddly truthful about his revelations. If even he didn't fully understand what was going on despite usually being a step ahead of everything, then whatever was going on was a closely guarded conspiracy.

Filia went over the possible culprits in her mind. She could just ask Xellos what he suspected, but she had a feeling that he wouldn't tell her anyway. It couldn't be Shabranigdu himself, if he was back and wanted to take out Xellos, then he would have already done it. That meant that it couldn't be someone in the same level as Shabranigdu either. That left the monsters below Ruby Eyes, of which Garv and Fibrizo could be eliminated. If Xellos worked for Zelas Metallium, whose forces would be affected by the loss of Xellos to her ranks, that left the main suspects as "Dynast Grausherra or Deep Sea Dolphin?"

"Unlikely," Xellos replied thoughtfully, "but not impossible." Deep Sea had not been particularly hostile towards Zelas in the past, one might even say it was the opposite, but who could say for certain, really? Dynast had been overall rather quiet in the recent years, but Xellos had a feeling that the monsters, Zelas included, would have noticed if he was plotting something. It was all too strange, almost as strange as Zelas' insistence in Xellos keeping his mouth shut during the entire truth or dare thing. He had a lot of information, but when it came down to it, even if it was known and used to strategize against Zelas, she could just as easily mount a counter attack. Yet his risky silence made it look as if he knew something particularly vital that Zelas wanted to keep under wraps. The feeling of unknowing confusion was new and irritating to Xellos.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 009: Stressful! Desperate Times

A terribly uncomfortable silence had invaded the atmosphere inside the mirror maze monster, whose composition made teleporting impossible. Well, it was uncomfortable for its latest meal anyway, but pretty comfortable for the gluttonous monster. Xellos and Filia sat on the floor wordlessly, waiting for something to happen. They were both thinking about the same thing and stubbornly refusing to discuss it. Who was trying to kill Xellos? What did that mean in the grander scheme of things? It didn't make sense that someone would just randomly try to kill him, even if no doubt about it, many would be happy to. There had to be a plan behind it, a big plan.

Loud snoring suddenly began to echo through the reflective hallways. Filia wore an expression of discomfort, which lasted until Xellos pinched her cheek between his index finger and thumb. She yelped and slapped his hand away. "Don't touch me!"

A loud yawn echoed. "Oh, great, just when I thought I could get some sleep." The mirror maze monster complained.

"Not with me around you won't," Xellos cheerfully declared, with far more joy than the situation even remotely deserved.

Filia glared and returned the action, pinching and pulling both sides of Xellos' face. "If you want to torture this thing don't include me in it!" She let him go angrily. "I can torture the monster my own way. Needless to say, the mirror creature didn't like the sound of that.

Xellos rubbed his face. "What exactly are you going to do? Use your laser breath and have it bounce off the walls and decapitate you?"

"No," Filia grinned in a surprisingly sinister way, then her expression morphed into something completely different, she looked happy and angelic. "Life is wonderful!" She bellowed at the top of her lungs.

"No!" Xellos backed away and covered his ears.

"I'm so very happy because I live a wonderful life," Filia continued making her best impression of Amelia. "The world is a beautiful and peaceful place and I have lovely friends that I care for very much. Life is truly wonderful!"

"Shut up!" Both the mirror maze monster and Xellos snapped at the same time. With Xellos emphasizing the order by clasping his hand over Filia's mouth, his other arm around her waist as he held her still from behind. Then she bit him. He pulled his hand away but Filia's partially transformed dragon fangs wouldn't let go. Feeling particularly vengeful and given that his posture made the area easy to reach, Xellos bit Filia's neck. The gasp that escaped her effectively freed Xellos from her grip.

"Stop that!" Filia stumbled forward away from Xellos. Her hand flew to her neck in anger. She made use of the mirrors all around to examine her reflection. It wasn't so bad, there was no blood involved. Compared to her savage bite, this was nothing, though the area was looking kind of red. "This... this... this..." She couldn't find the words to express her indignation.

"I believe it's called a hickey," Xellos provided with all the nonchalance he could muster. Disgusted grumbles invaded the atmosphere and the structure of the mirror maze shook, but it wasn't an earthquake. Xellos began to walk away, followed by an angry Filia who threw out a variety of insults at him. He stopped in front of the door that would have led outside if not for the fact that it was tightly shut. The door was also covered in mirrors, though it was vaguely identifiable. "If we stand near the mouth, it'll be easier to escape when the monster coughs us out."

Horrified, Filia asked, "are you still trying to disgust it into spitting us out? What about tickling its throat?"

"It's a building; it doesn't really have a throat. Any physical action will be in vain," Xellos explained with a hint of annoyance in his voice. "Whatever we do must affect it mentally, if it thinks it has to spit us out, it will. Unless you want to stay here?"

A certain part of Filia's dream the previous night resurfaced in her mind. She sometimes had prophetic dreams, but she didn't think that particular detail was one of them. All she could clearly remember at first was the resolution to research the existence of a good monster, which after spending some time with Xellos, was starting to look more impossible by the second. But there was more to that dream, she vaguely remembered kissing Xellos, was it a warning from her subconscious about her terrible fate?

"What's going on through that head of yours?" Xellos wondered as he observed Filia's horror stricken expression. As a sincere afterthought he added, "then again, I don't think I want to know."

"If... if... if..." Filia paused, took a deep breath and pushed the words out. "If it has to be done, I guess I could, for the sake of survival and survival only," she emphasized. "You know..." Xellos prompted her to continue with a silent raise of the eyebrow. "Kiss you," she finished.

If it was for the sake of survival and survival only, then it wouldn't do Xellos any good in terms of his curse. However, it might at least solve the problem of him being trapped and allow him to get his revenge on the mirror maze monster. "Alright," Xellos agreed with less smugness and a longer pause than what Filia expected.

They approached each other. Filia's arms rested at her sides. Hugging wasn't necessarily a vital bonus torture in the process of making a sentient building spit them out. Still, it might make the sentient building more disgusted and thus cut the kiss short. She reluctantly wrapped her arms around Xellos, allowing him to do the same. Then they stayed that way for several seconds, their faces mere inches away from each other. Impatient, Xellos decided to get this done and moved forward.

"Wait! Wait!" The echoing booming voice of the mirror maze monster interrupted the scene. "Dragon girl, are you really willing to kiss a monster? Because it looked as if you don't like him very much. Are you going to let him do this to you? I thought golden dragon girls were supposed to be pure maidens or something. I didn't think one would be so easy."

Filia immediately pushed Xellos away and glared defiantly at the walls. "I'm not easy!"

"No you're not," Xellos agreed completely, "you're difficult, you're very, very difficult."

"Shut up!" Filia growled at Xellos. She sighed in resignation. "This thing is right though." She hated to admit that a monster was right; she might never forgive herself for that one. "I shouldn't be kissing random monsters just for the sake of survival."

"Really?" Xellos put on a purposely incredulous expression. "Here I thought most living creatures would do almost anything for the sake of survival. I guess you must not really care a whole lot about dying."

"What's it to you?" Filia retorted. "You're a monster. Monsters are all for chaos and death and whatnot. So why don't they just kill themselves and get it over with!"

"You're so mean to me, dear Filia," Xellos pretended to be hurt.

Filia huffed, if there was someone completely incapable of making her feel guilty, it was Xellos. "You deserve worse."

"Excuse me, but I am rather inclined towards the probability of the preference of survival." Xellos regained his cool and collected expression, but only superficially. A little bit beneath the surface his annoyance grew.

"Good for you," Filia crossed her arms and looked away. This conversation was over as far as she was concerned and she refused to speak to Xellos any more. She was angry at him, which was nothing new, but she was also angry at herself.

"Filia, you're not making this very easy." It could only be so long before even Xellos would get tired of playing around, especially when a likely solution to his most immediate dilemma, because it certainly wasn't his only one, slipped through his fingers when he was so close to it. That was it, the solution and nothing more, a sacrifice for the sake of survival, and a big sacrifice it was.

"Well I have to draw the line somewhere!" Filia retorted. Wait a minute, wasn't she determined to ignore Xellos? She couldn't help it but to reply, his tone was slightly different and it caught her off guard, though she wasn't sure why she was paying such close attention to his tone anyway.

"And you're drawing it because some stupid monster told you to?" Xellos retorted. "Of course, you have no morals of your own, I witnessed that first hand."

Filia's face turned scarlet and her eyes shone with tears of frustration. He was never going to let her forget about the berry incident. She could argue that he had no morals either, but he was a monster and while morals were indeed very important to dragons, monsters weren't supposed to have them. "I... I hate you!" It wasn't the smartest comeback in the world, but it summed up Filia's feelings pretty well.

Xellos opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by the echo of the mirror monster's complaint. "You two argue like an old married couple. Shut up, you're giving me a headache!"

Instead of pointing out that the monster was in the shape of a building and therefore didn't actually have a head, Xellos decided to try another tactic. If that thing was going to keep him captive he was going to make it very unpleasant. "Filia," he gave her a purposeful glance.

Filia realized another change in Xellos' tone. He wasn't being mocking this time as much as he was being decisive. It was the kind of tone that spoke paragraphs in just one word, the kind of tone that said, or rather demanded: 'pay attention to me because I have a plan.' "What?" Though her voice was still charged with a noticeable amount of upset fury, she was more focused, waiting to hear the plan that Xellos might have come up with.

"I think it would do us some good to exercise our vocal cords." Xellos suggested with a sly smile.

Filia blinked, what did that have to do with anything? Then a look of realization invaded her face. The mirror maze monster was complaining about the noise. Maybe if they were noisy enough they would be released. "Sure, why not."

They nodded to each other and covered their ears tightly. They took a vast amount of air into their lungs and finally let it all out in massive sound waves that could be heard outside the enclosed space. The mirror maze monster replied in turn by screaming, "shut up!" The loud voice echoing all over.

Filia cleared her strained throat and eased her breathing. "I think we might just lose this competition," she painfully admitted. "It was worth a try though," why was she even bothering giving some credit to Xellos? He gave enough credit to himself.

"Shh, do you hear that?" Xellos listened beyond the closed door. It was very faint, but people outside were talking. "They can hear us."

Filia's face instantly brightened as she came up with a plan. She took in another deep breath and screamed out without warning, "Lina! We've been eaten by a monster, get us out of here!" On second thought, Lina might Dragon slave the entire monster with them still in it. Thus Filia called out to the less rash members of the group, "Amelia, Zelgadis, Gourry! Help!" Filia coughed, her throat felt dry. She looked at Xellos who seemed to be fighting with all his might to maintain his expression of false cheer. "You could help me."

"No," Xellos couldn't manage to put any false cheer or even a hint of mockery to his reply. His voice came out serious and flat.

"Why not?" Filia demanded.

"I'm not calling out for help," Xellos stated what he thought should have been obvious. Then he added for emphasis, "because I'm not helpless."

"If you're not helpless than why haven't you defeated this monster? I know for a fact you don't believe in mercy." Filia found a small victory in throwing the circumstances in Xellos' face, even if it would have been so much more fun if she wasn't in the same predicament. Xellos glared and Filia felt a cold chill run down her spine, but she ignored it. Okay, so maybe given who Xellos was, her behavior could be catalogued as suicidal, but despite being aware of the fact that he could and, being a monster, probably would kill her, it somehow managed not to faze Filia. Even so, without a verbal prompt from Xellos, she had nothing else to say.

A moment of silence passed while Filia allowed her tired throat to recover before she attempted to call for help again. In the mean time, Xellos kept listening to the faint sounds coming from outside from lack of anything better to do.

"I'm so hungry!" A familiar voice complained. "I can't believe all the restaurants are full. I know it's the midday rush, but this is ridiculous. They won't let us go back to the buffet, which I still say is an unfair discrimination, and none of the restaurants have room! I'm going to starve if this keeps up!"

"I know, I'm hungry too!" Another familiar voice agreed. The first was female and the second male.

Seeing the look of attentive concentration that appeared on Xellos' face as he tilted his head ever so slightly towards the door, Filia strained her ears to listen. Those voices... she knew them! "Lina! Gourry! The mirror maze is really a monster, I'm trapped here, help!"

"Did you just hear Filia?" Lina's voice wondered.

"I don't know..." Gourry blankly replied; he had not been paying attention anyway.

"I'm here! I'm trapped, help!" Filia insisted, screaming as loudly as she could. "The mirror maze is a monster, the building itself is a monster!"

"Filia?" Lina replied with a hint of doubt. "What do you mean the mirror maze is a monster? It looks like a normal building to me." She tried to open the doors but they wouldn't move. "It's locked."

"Shut up!" A very loud echoing voice was heard, even outside. If the fact that the building had a very eerie booming voice didn't hint that it was a monster, or at least somehow haunted, the fact that inanimate objects, such as buildings, shouldn't be talking in the first place would give it away.

"Stand back!" Lina commanded in a warning voice that could only mean one thing. The very likely possibility was confirmed when she began to chant a familiar spell. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, hidden in the stream of time is where your power grows!"

Filia gasped and backed away from the door. Where could she take cover inside the target anyway? "Wait, Lina, you're being too rash!"

Lina's chanting continued, "I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy ooh..." Lina's stomach growled loudly as her spell deflated and disappeared since the caster lacked the needed energy to fuel it. "I'm so hungry!"

Filia breathed in relief when the chanting stopped. The bad part was that she was still trapped, but being trapped was better than being blown up. "Maybe you should try something other than the Dragon Slave!" Filia suggested, especially because she was a dragon and she certainly didn't want to be slain.

Exasperated and not in the mood to be rescued, Xellos decided to take matters into his own hands. Without a warning, he grabbed Filia by the shoulders, spun her around to face him and before she could protest, he planted a kiss on her lips. "Ew!" A loud disgusted sound was heard as the transparent goop of the walls abruptly propelled them outside through the suddenly open door.

Xellos and Filia landed in a heap on the road on top of Lina and Gourry. The four disentangled themselves from each other and got to their feet as gracefully and quickly as possible, which wasn't much. While Lina questioned their exit, Filia's face went from one shade of red to another. "You!" She pointed at Xellos accusingly with unparallel fury.

Xellos, who was very much still cursed all thanks to Filia's unwillingness to cooperate, asked challengingly, "what about me? How could I just watch? Well I wasn't going to help you, but that thing got tired of your foul taste and spat you out anyway."

Filia then realized that no one, aside from Xellos, herself and the mirror maze monster of course, had noticed the kiss and she was certainly not going to point it out. She growled fuming and reiterated, "I hate you!"

"The feeling is mutual," Xellos smiled, his amused expression returning full force. He looked at the mirror maze and glared. He raised his hands and gathered dark energy. Several people stopped to watch the show. Then finally Xellos released the mixture of dark energy and purple lightning at the building. The entire place lit up and a scream of agony was heard, then the monster's aura was gone.

Filia blinked, the building looked just the same as ever, "it's dead," she realized. It was no longer a sentient building, but it was still a building, so she wasn't sure if the term corpse could be used in this situation.

"I don't know what kind of craziness is going on," Lina was not in a good mood, "and I don't care!" She yelled. "If I don't get a decent meal right now I'll go crazy! You know what they say about dragon? They say dragon is delicious!" She eyed a horrified Filia hungrily.

"I beg to differ," Xellos teased.

"I'm sure we can find a nice restaurant!" Filia insisted. "Look, isn't that a restaurant just down the street? Let's go there!" the place looked full, but Filia would make room for Lina if she had to. Seriously, she had enough near death experiences to deal with already and being eaten wasn't a very dignified way to die.

"Food! Food! Food!" Lina chanted as she dashed towards the restaurant down the street hungrily.

"Food! Food! Food!" Gourry joined in and ran after Lina.

"I better make sure they get a good meal," Filia took off after them as well.

Xellos paused; he had a lot of thinking to do and a discreet investigation to conduct. This wasn't only about his curse anymore. As if things were not already complicated enough as they were, they just became more complex. Who could be after him and why? He would have to be extra careful from now on. Then a thought occurred to him. Whoever was behind all this should be aware of the curse upon him, most high level monsters were. He found it odd that Filia, his possible cure, had not been directly attacked yet. Xellos would just have to keep an eye on her, least he rid himself of his assassin only to be taken down by the curse. Protecting Filia... it was a task he was certain that he wasn't looking forward to performing, but it was all for the sake of survival.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 010: Invader! A Little Competition

"Zangulus!" Filia recognized the waiter and rushed to him desperately. "We need a table right away!"

Zangulus' eyes were not on Filia, who was speaking to him, but rather on someone behind Filia. Lina had a rather fierce expression that called all attention towards her. She almost glowed with chaos and looked as if she would pounce any second. "Is something wrong with her?"

"Yes, she's hungry and she wants to eat me!" Filia gushed out before she even had time to properly phrase her reply.

Zangulus' eyes bulged open wide for a few seconds; he blinked looking back and forth between Filia and Lina. "Cannibalism," he finally concluded adopting a 'should have known' expression. "I wouldn't really put it past Lina."

"She might also Dragon Slave this place to dust," Filia urged, making it clear that Lina wasn't just her problem; she was everyone's problem in the ten mile radius. Sure, Lina had been without energy before, but if it involved food she could make some pretty amazing recoveries.

"Martina will be upset if I lose this job," Zangulus worried. He glanced around the restaurant, but it was full. "How about I escort you all to the special table?" He didn't even need to wait for a voiced reply as Lina and Gourry's stomachs growled and Filia nodded quickly. The entire time Xellos only watched quietly.

Zangulus led the group to the kitchen where they were met with the chefs' critical eyes. Even so, he settled them into a table where dishes were set to be taken out as a set and food was prepared, it wasn't a table for the purpose of eating at. "Zangulus, what do you think you're doing?" The head chef complained with a disapproving expression.

"Saving our lives and unless you want my efforts to go to waste, you need to start serving the food," Zangulus urged. "That girl over there is Lina Inverse!"

"Lina Inverse!" The main chef exclaimed, joined in his surprise by the voices of several others. The rumors of Lina Inverse the bandit and pirate killer, dragon spooker were quickly spreading beyond the world outside the barrier and all around the globe. That was all the motivation the chefs needed to start feeding Lina and her traveling companions immediately.

"By the way, Filia," Lina inquired with a steak in her mouth. "What's that on your neck? It looks like a hickey."

"What's a hickey?" Gourry predictably asked.

"A love bite," Lina explained simply, with her mouth still full of food.

"Oh, you mean how I bite this food because it's so delicious and I love it?" Gourry gave Lina his usual look of ignorant bliss.

"It's a couple thing, never mind." Lina decided to leave it at that and turned her attention back to the mortified Filia. "Is it?"

"No!" Filia loudly denied it. Doubtful, Lina glanced at Xellos, who gave her a toothy grin as if inviting her to make a visual comparison of his mouth and the mark left on Filia's neck. Catching on to the silent implications, Filia defended, "it's a bug bite!"

"That was a pretty big bug," Lina suspiciously commented. "I would say it was a monster of a bug." The obvious reference to Xellos, which was the monster part albeit Filia thought both terms fit him, made the golden dragon blush even more. At least, to Filia's benefit, the subject was dropped shortly after that comment and no more was spoken of it as Lina accused Gourry of stealing her roasted potato.

After calming down sufficiently, Filia let out a breath of relief, though she was still self conscious about the mark on her neck. Maybe she should buy a scarf, she didn't care that it was warm there. "Thank you," she told Zangulus with all honesty once the worse had passed.

"No problem, it was a survival effort on everyone's part anyway." Zangulus replied with relief, seeing that the possible catastrophe was adverted.

Observing the scene, Xellos concluded that there was no immediate danger to Filia's life. Lina was there to fight off any attacks and she was rapidly replenishing her energy so any future attempts at casting the Dragon Slave would be nothing short of absolutely destructive. He could leave without worries for the time being, thus he faded away, teleporting to a different location.

After a while, a few tables in the restaurant became unoccupied, though Lina and Gourry were still consuming dish after dish. With some persuasion from Zangulus, saying that the chefs would be able to work faster if they had more room to work in, the group was moved to a table in the official eating area of the restaurant. The chefs were a little less uneasy after the move, but they were still exhausted, yet willing to survive.

During the entire process, Filia took a moment to notice that Xellos was gone. He came and went whenever he wanted, for which teleportation came very much in handy. It wasn't really surprising that he would disappear without a warning, thus for the time being she just disregarded the fact and tried to enjoy her peace while it lasted. She had even managed to get her order in and have a good meal. Despite being a dragon and having a healthy appetite, Filia still didn't eat anywhere as much as Lina and Gourry, who were still absorbing all the food placed before them at an alarming rate.

Time passed until finally, Lina and Gourry leaned back in their chairs with satisfied expressions. "Ah, what a good meal..." Lina sighed contently. Filia thought they were done until Lina added, "now for some dessert!" She began to scan the menu.

Filia let out a breath; she should have known this was coming. She idly thought that instead of sitting around she should try to do some match making. Although it looked like Lina and Gourry were more focused on the food than each other, she could at least give them some privacy. "I'm going to... stretch my legs. Enjoy your dessert."

Just when she thought she had not been heard, Lina looked up from behind her menu and voiced a simple, "okay, see you later."

Gourry smiled and added his own, "later, Filia!" Before both of them turned their attention back to their menus. What was the point of browsing? They were going to order everything anyway and in triple portions, just like they always did.

Filia exited the restaurant and mused over her matchmaking strategy. Given the extreme focus on food that Gourry and Lina possessed, a meal was not the ideal atmosphere for matchmaking. She reasoned that a resort as big as this, which was love-themed in many ways, should have an activity similar to a ball going on. In the stories she had read romantic things always happened in balls. If she could find out about the time and location of a ball in the resort, she could invite everyone to go and maybe even get Amelia to help out if any additional convincing was needed.

With that plan in mind, Filia set out to seek information. She entered a random souvenir shop not a far walk away from the restaurant and took a moment to admire the multitude of keychains. They were pretty, but ridiculously pricey. "Excuse me," Filia addressed the shop keeper, a girl not much older than Lina with a freckled face and wavy brown hair. "Do you happen to know if any balls are celebrated at the resort?"

"Of course!" The girl cheered in an overly sweet voice, her green eyes lighting up in excitement. "We have balls every night. The biggest one is a masquerade ball held at the dome at the north end of the main road."

A dome, huh? Not a castle? The resort was certainly large enough to have a castle and a dome didn't seem too romantic. Then again, Filia didn't want to shoot down the plan so quickly. "Thank you, I'll make sure to check it out." With her plans for later decided, Filia exited the keychain souvenir shop and made her way down the street. Lina and Gourry were probably still eating dessert and she didn't know were Amelia and Zelgadis were at.

Filia saw a free bench not too far away from the fountain with the cupid in the middle and sat down. It was the same bench where she sat when she was talking to Xellos. He was such an annoyance, she was glad he was gone and hoped he would never return. The nerve of him, kissing her without permission, it didn't matter if it was for the sake of survival. She never thought she would kiss, or be kissed by, a monster once, let alone so many times. How many had it been? She blushed and decided not to count them; it was too many, end of story.

"Would you like some ice-cream?" Filia jumped at the sudden voice and turned her head to look at the man sitting on the bench beside her. She had not even noticed his arrival. "I apologize if I startled you," he smiled in a friendly way, his wine colored sharp eyes projecting an alluring atmosphere. He had golden hair and elongated elf-like ears, he was a golden dragon. He wore the classic white and gold robes that many golden dragons favored.

Filia managed to pry her eyes away from his handsome face to the cookies & cream ice-cream cone the unknown dragon was offering her. She accepted gratefully, "thank you."

"You're welcome," the golden dragon smiled. "You seemed as if the warmth of the day was getting to you. I thought some ice-cream might help you cool off."

"I'm grateful," Filia smiled, "but I don't think I know your name." She was starting to feel a bit awkward and perhaps just a tiny bit intimidated. There was something about this guy... "Um... I'm Filia..." no doubt about it this golden dragon was from a different temple as her, she had never met him before.

"My name is Phythan; it's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Filia." His eyes seemed to focus for a moment on the still visible mark on Filia's neck. It was only for a second, but Filia noticed it.

Feeling self-conscious, Filia's unoccupied hand went to her neck covering the spot. "Bug," she muttered before licking her ice-cream as a distraction and hopefully a clear enough hint that her mouth was busy and couldn't utter any further explanations.

"Oh? That looks painful." He couldn't have believed it, no one was that stupid. It was obvious that Phythan was just humoring her by pretending to take her word for it. He gently touched her neck, causing Filia to tense up at the sudden contact. "The neck is a sensitive area, it should be protected." he untied the sky blue bandanna he wore around his own neck and tied it around Filia's in a more scarf-like manner. "Keep it," he smiled charmingly.

Filia blushed scarlet and nearly buried her face in her ice-cream. Why was she so nervous? "Thank you," she finally managed to say. Feeling as if it wasn't enough she added, "you're very kind."

"You're welcome," another charming smile. "Are you enjoying the resort? I came all by myself and it has been fun, but it would be more enjoyable with some good company. How about you?"

"I came with a few friends," Filia tried to get her voice to work naturally. "It's been fun," it had in deed been fun sometimes, but had also been stressful because of that nuisance Xellos. "Although, my friends are a bit busy at times and I don't want to be in the way."

"Dates?" Phythan guessed and Filia nodded. "So your friends have dates, but you don't have a date of your own?"

"No..." Filia admitted, focusing once more on her ice-cream. If their group was on a triple date, she would have gotten paired off with Xellos. She wasn't sure why her brain kept reminding her of him, Filia just wanted to forget he existed, she honestly did.

"I can't see why, you give off such a nice aura, even so soon I can tell you're pleasant company." Yet another charming smile, Phythan gave those away quite often. "And dare I say it? You're very beautiful."

"Thank you..." Filia pushed herself to speak. It was polite to thank people for their compliments after all. Unlike Xellos, who always insulted her, Phythan was very nice.

"You seem a little bit shy." Yes, you guessed it, another charming smile, it was something Phythan did constantly. "But I think it's cute."

"Thank you..." Filia had finished consuming the top part of her ice-cream and was now biting the edge of the cone. She watched Phythan with the corner of her eyes; he had amazing eyes, piercing, intelligent and captivating.

Phythan laughed in a melodious, yet still distinctively masculine voice, "you're certainly very grateful."

Filia had to stop herself from automatically saying thank you again. "I... um... think you're very nice..." and handsome, and gallant and polite, and respectful, and considerate, and kind hearted, unlike Xellos, who was a monster and didn't have a heart anyway. Her eyes were caught by his, so that's what was so familiar about him; the shape of his eyes was kind of like Xellos' eyes when he opened them. It was just the color that was different, though the two shades, Xellos' lighter purple and Phythan's darker wine, could probably be fitted into the same color wheel. Wait a minute; didn't she just think not long ago that Phythan had attractive eyes? How could she then compare them to Xellos? That was a huge contradiction!

"I think you're nice too, and I would like to see more of you if that's alright." Was that the hint of a seductive undertone? Maybe she just imagined it. "There's a masquerade ball at the north dome tonight. Well, not just tonight, they have it every night, but if you're free tonight, then maybe you would consider going with me?"

Filia reasoned that she was planning to go anyway and she didn't have a date, while Amelia and Lina did. If she was going to play matchmaker she might as well contribute to the feeling of a triple date. If she was the odd one out, it would be more of a friendly outing. Besides, Amelia might feel the need to keep her company so she didn't get lonely and that meant she would have less time to dance with Zelgadis. "I would love to," Filia agreed, pouring as much confidence as she could into her acceptance. "Actually, I was planning to go with my friends. It would be nice if there are six of us, since that's an even number." She refrained from going any further so as to not babble any more about odd and even numbers.

"Ah yes," Phythan looked satisfied, almost smugly so, kind of like Xellos, but in a charming way that was nothing like Xellos. "Then everyone would have someone to dance with."

"Yes," Filia agreed, mentally adding 'except Xellos' but he wasn't supposed to be in the picture anyway and she didn't know why she kept thinking of him. It was creepy, she should be more than happy to forget about him. Maybe she was afraid he would show up and ruin everything, since he's Xellos and ruining things is something he has a lot of talent for, but life is for the brave. Filia was resolute not to worry; she would just enjoy her time at the ball. Filia stood up from the bench. "See you tonight?" It sounded as if she was pushing him away, she didn't mean to, but she needed a breather and more so she needed to stop thinking about Xellos.

Phythan stood up as well. "I will look forward to it, Miss Filia," he took her hand and placed a kiss on it, then dramatically walked off with an ever present charming smile.

Filia sighed, the odd feeling she got went away when Phythan was gone. She wondered what it meant. Did she like him? Probably, he was a golden dragon and a very nice one at that. He had a number of positive qualities, or at least it looked like he did. She would just have to keep talking to him and learn more. Eating the last bit of her ice-cream cone, Filia walked off with a confident pace. Maybe after all her trials and tribulations, fate was finally smiling upon her.

"Miss Filia!" A familiar voice called, originating from near the fountain with the cupid statue. Filia looked over to see Amelia waiving one hand towards her, the other arm linked with Zelgadis'.

She walked over to them, "did you two have a nice lunch?" Filia asked cheerfully.

"Oh yes," Amelia blushed.

"It was... good," Zelgadis commented with a similar reaction, though it wasn't clear if he referred to the food or the experience as a whole, probably the latter.

"I'm glad," Filia smiled, she was feeling rather cheerful all of a sudden. She wasn't sure where her shyness came from before. "Lina and Gourry are eating at a restaurant near here. They were ordering desert when I went for a walk, so they should be done by now."

As if on cue, a well fed and thus cheerful looking Lina and Gourry approached the fountain. "Hey everyone, any ideas on where to go next? There are a lot of tourist attractions around here, but not the roller coaster since we just ate. Besides, it probably still has an impossible line anyway."

"I don't know about right now, but how about attending the masquerade ball tonight?" Filia suggested. "It will be held at the north dome."

"Oh, that sounds like fun!" Amelia instantly cheered. "Let's go!"

"A ball..." Zelgadis voiced unsure, though the masquerade part was something he could normally use to his benefit, no one seemed to be bothered by his appearance at the resort, though they sometimes mistook him for a hired entertainer.

"Let's go, please Mr. Zelgadis?" Amelia gave Zelgadis her best cute pleading expression, her big blue eyes appearing to be even bigger and shinier, accentuated by her long lashes.

"Um... okay..." Zelgadis finally managed to agree.

Lina nodded, "it might be fun, what do you say, Gourry?"

"Jellyfish!" Everyone stared at Gourry, he could be random at times, but this was too random.

"What?" Lina slowly asked.

"When you asked if anyone had any ideas where to go next I tried to remember an idea I had a while ago," Gourry explained. "I remember walking past some place that I wanted to visit, but I couldn't remember what it was. I just remembered it was a place with jellyfish!" He smiled an accomplished smile.

"You mean an aquarium?" Lina inquired with a bit of annoyance twitching in her eyes. "Did you hear anything that was said after that question? Did you hear anything about the ball?"

"Ball?" Gourry tilted his head to the side in confusion. "What ball? A round ball? Oh wait, all balls are around, aren't they?"

Lina brought her palm to her face. "Not that kind of ball, we were talking about the kind of ball where there's music dancing and food!"

"Oh!" Gourry didn't see the logic in calling a party, a ball, why didn't they just say party? That's what it sounded like it was. "That sounds like fun too. Can we do both?"

Lina let out a hopeless breath. "The ball isn't until tonight, so I guess we could check out the aquarium now." With a plan decided upon, the group went on its merry way towards the aquarium so Gourry could befriend the local jellyfish.

To be Continued

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