Slayers: Alive

Chapter 11

Slayers: Alive

Episode 101: Rush! Chaotic Rampage

The temple where Filia and Xellos unusual wedding was set to take place was full of conversation and tension. The monsters sitting at the groom's side of the structure were talking about how they would love to rip the bride's friends apart, purposely keeping their voices loud to feast on the discomfort the mental images produced. As for the bride's friends, they kept shifting around nervously with Philionel trying to keep the peace by loudly telling lame justice jokes that no one really thought were funny.

"Isn't this taking too long?" Lina whispered to Amelia. Tiffany's odd behavior a few minutes ago got her thinking that there might be a situation that she was thus far unaware of. "Do you think there's something wrong and they're trying to solve it as quietly as possible?"

"I hope not," Amelia replied, trying to keep her worried expression in check, so as to not clue in the guests too much. It was best for them to keep thinking that both the bride and the groom happened to be fashionably late to their own wedding and that there was nothing actually wrong. The Seyruun princess felt a light tap on her shoulder and turned around to see the figure of a person wearing black.

The mysterious person was a female, judging by the shape of her body. The woman had quietly snuck behind her out of seemingly no where, her face was completely covered in black, save for her emerald eyes. Without a warning, the woman snatched away the wedding bands and jumped back.

Already anxious from the long wait, Amelia couldn't help her outburst as she hugged Val protectively and demanded. "Give those rings back in the name of justice!" Her voice rung out crystal clear, echoing loudly across the temple as if she had a megaphone integrated into her throat.

The sheer potency of Amelia's sudden voice made Lina jump back. The redhead knew that her dark haired friend's voice could reach considerably high volumes, but it wasn't until Amelia actually tried to be heard over a noisy crowd that Lina realized just how loud those volumes could be. Needless to say, Lina was thankful that Amelia did not have her older sister's habit of laughing obnoxiously.

The ninja woman did not say anything in reply to Amelia's demands. Instead she backed away and made a swift escape through one of the temple's windows. "Come back here!" Amelia called after her, with little Val screeching loudly in an attempt to imitate his justice loving aunt. The princess and the young ancient dragon both chased after the ring thief, jumping out the window, leaving behind a stunned Lina and Elena.

"Amelia!" Zelgadis got up from his seat and hurried after Amelia, exiting the temple via the same window.

Filia emerged in the main part of the temple from a door to the back room hidden from view behind the altar. Her face was cleaned and her make-up redone. Beast Master insisted that she should at least try to look half decent, even if the attempt would inevitably fail. The golden dragon was holding a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers that looked like they were poisonous, but no one was going to consume them anyway, so it didn't really matter. With tiny steps so as to not show too much leg from the slit of her dark purple dress' skirt, Filia stood beside the altar, in the position normally designated for the groom to wait for his bride to enter the temple. She looked at Lina and Elena, wondering where Amelia, Tiffany and Sylphiel were. Filia noticed that Lina appeared to be rather uncomfortable, as if she was unwillingly stuck with the task of delivering bad news. She listened to the active murmurs of the crowd that not even the arrival of the bride could cease. They were saying something about stolen rings. "Lina? What are the guests talking about? Where are the wedding rings?" Filia questioned with growing worry.

"Um..." Lina shifted uncomfortably. She should have rushed out along with Amelia, then she wouldn't be stuck delivering the bad news. She looked at Elena, throwing the task at her.

"The wedding rings were taken away," Elena confessed, "but I'm sure they'll be recovered soon."

An orchestra composed of both humans and monsters, some in disguise and others shamelessly showing their frightening forms, began to play a wedding march that sounded more like a funeral song than anything else. Lord Beast Master entered the temple and the crowd finally fell into silence. All eyes were on the monster lord as she walked in her beautiful ivory dress decorated with diamonds, the flowing skirt leaving a long trail of fabric behind her that was much longer than Filia remembered it being when she saw that dress before. Her perfect figure was well accentuated, her smooth tan skin glowing, decorated with extravagant jewelry of white gold and diamonds. Her hair was silver to match her stunning eyes, as she marched down the long red golden lined red carpet set along the center corridor of the temple between the rows of seats. The monster lord grinned like a movie star who knows she's about to win an Oscar. Like a beauty queen, she waived regally to the guests with the hand that wasn't linked with Xellos' arm.

Filia didn't know what to do. Two of her bridesmaids were gone, the priestess was gone, the wedding bands were gone. How could the wedding progress with so many missing pieces? While Filia drowned in her nerves, Zelas and Xellos finished making their way to the front of the temple where Zelas released Xellos' arm and gave Filia a critical look. The monster lord glanced at the altar, noticing that several people were missing from their positions. "Did the wedding staff run away? How rude, don't they know they're supposed to wait for the 'speak now or forever hold your peace' line before they express their disagreement?"

"The rings were stolen," Lina informed the groom and his 'mother' in a grim quiet whisper so that only Filia, Xellos and Zelas could hear. "Amelia ran off with Val to try to recover them."

"What was that?" Zelas pretended she didn't hear. "Speak up, Lina, I don't think they heard you way in the back."

"They weren't supposed to," Lina clarified, though it was obvious.

"Oh but they should," Zelas insisted with a grin. "Tell the guests the reason for this delay, it would be rude not to."

Filia had enough; she stepped forward and addressed the gathered crowd. "We apologize for this delay, please give us a few more minutes and the ceremony will resume." She then turned to face Lina, Xellos and Zelas. "I'm going to help Amelia get the rings back. What did the thief look like?"

Lina pointed to the entrance of the temple, "like that." Standing at the open doorway was the same ninja woman from before. She was casually throwing and catching one of the wedding bands tauntingly, the fate of the other unknown.

"That's one of the rings!" Filia spotted the stolen ring and took off in a mad dash towards the entrance to the temple. The slit of her skirt made the material flow behind her like a cape around her waist, giving the flowing gown the appearance of a mid-thigh mini-skirt.

Flirty whistling was heard from the bride's side of the temple as Filia dashed by, her haste to recover the ring preventing her from realizing how much she was showing off her legs. Xellos identified the source of the whistling as originating from a brown haired man, it was the golem maker, Huey. He soon found himself frozen solid in a block of ice thanks to a well aimed Freeze Arrow from Xellos. His sister, Laia, crossed her arms indignantly, making no effort to assist her brother in escaping his icy prison; she believed he got what he deserved.

Lina tried to join the chase to recover the ring, from the ninja woman, who ran away as soon as she saw Filia advancing towards her. The red haired sorceress took a few steps and soon fell flat on her face, tripping because of her high heels. Sirene took a moment to stand up, point at Lina and laugh in her imitation of Naga's insufferable laughter. She was soon joined by Alphonse and even Marty. Growling indignantly, Lina shot a barrage of fire balls in their direction, accidentally hitting the thin and bony knight wanna-be, Jeffrey, with one of them. "Oops..." 'At least his mother isn't here,' Lina thought.

Though she had been no where to be seen before, Jeffrey's overprotective short and chubby mother, Josephine, jumped out of seemingly nowhere. The mallet wielding, executioner mask wearing, super fast terror, set her angry glare on Lina. "You dare to attack my Jeffrey?"

"It was an accident!" Taken off guard, Lina pleaded for mercy. Her dress and heels limited the agility of her movements and she could do nothing more than stumble to her feet and back to the floor in a failed attempt to dodge.

"Lina!" Gourry jumped out from the crowd heroically, using his new sword to block the incoming impact of Josephine's mallet.

The mallet was cut in two upon colliding with the powered up dragon horn sword. One half of it remained attached to the long handle and the other half was sent flying over Lina's head by the force of the momentum with which Josephine had swung her weapon. The detached half of the mallet collided with Celo's head painfully. "Ow, that was uncalled for!" He protested. It was a good thing he was part monster, because he was sure his skull would have been shattered into tiny pieces if he had been fully human.

"I will avenge my Jeffrey!" Josephine shouted at the top of her lungs. She swung her weapon again, each time the mallet losing a piece that was chopped off when it collided with Gourry's super sharp sword.

"I told you it was an accident!" Lina tried to argue. She took off her high heels and threw them away in frustration. "I'm sorry!"

Celo had moved to a different seat, further away from the front in hopes of avoiding any additional pain. Unfortunately, that happened to be where Lina's pink heels landed one after the other colliding with his head. "Ow, not again! How terribly disrespectful."

"Calm down, lady!" Gourry shouted at the stubborn woman in the executioner mask. "Lina's sorry and it takes a lot to get her to apologize, so it really means something!"

With nothing but a tiny piece of the handle left of her mallet, Josephine finally relented. "Oh, alright, if you're really sorry, I'll forgive you; just make sure it doesn't happen again."

Josephine tossed the useless piece of metal handle over her shoulder and it promptly landed on Celo's head. "Is this uncalled for violence day?" He complained.

With her task fulfilled, Josephine left as swiftly and mysteriously as she arrived. Lina let out a breath of relief and went back to the task at hand. "Let's go, we have some rings to recover!"

"We'll get them back in no time!" Philionel joined Lina and Gourry, cheering loudly, deciding that it was time to join the fun. "Zelgadis already ran off after Amelia a while ago. We should go help them search for the missing rings, so that this wedding can finally take place. Did you hear that everyone?" Philionel addressed all the guests. "It's a scavenger hunt for the wedding rings, let's get them back as soon as possible, go!"

The temple was soon emptied, as a stampede of formally dressed guests avalanched out to play along with Philionel's plan as if participating in a sort of party game. Among the stampede, Celo discretely approached Kally, Kalio and Medusa, delivering a secret message to them. In the middle of the distraction, Zelas faded to the astral side with a very amused expression adorning her mischievous features.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, at the main street of Amor Resort, Filia dashed after the emerald eyed ninja woman. Another female ninja, this one with blue eyes, was perched on top of the cupid decorated fountain. The ninja with green eyes threw the golden wedding band to her blue eyed ally, who dashed away in a hurry. Filia stopped to catch her breath, this wasn't fair. She had been chasing the first woman for quite a long distance and they were both tired, but the second ninja had been standing there resting, waiting for her companion to hand over the ring. Plus the whereabouts of the other wedding band were still unknown. As soon as she caught her breath, Filia let out her frustration in the shape of a laser breath aimed at the blue eyed ninja woman.

"Watch out!" The ninja with green eyes called out to her comrade, her voice sounding oddly familiar to Filia's ears.

The ninja with blue eyes pulled out a strange yet familiar talisman from her black identity concealing outfit and used it to create a shield which protected her from the laser breath, allowing her to make a safe get away.

Frustrated beyond words, Filia felt her temper flare. "Give me back the wedding rings!" She was surrounded by a golden glow as she threw a hissy fit and the next thing anyone knew, there was a large golden dragon standing where the elf woman in the purple dress had once been. Unfortunately, at the moment Filia wasn't wearing any sort of enchanted item that would store her clothes and accessories when she transformed. As a result, the purple fabric of her form fitting dress was torn to pieces unable to contain her new size, the ruined shreds of dark purple fabric falling to the floor around her. Her jewelry was ruined as well, all but her engagement ring, which was safely stuck to the very tip of her left ring finger claw.

With a mighty roar, Filia took off after the blue eyed ninja woman. Seeing her large pursuer rapidly approaching, the ninja quickly turned the corner, ducking into a narrow alley between two tall buildings. Enraged beyond reason, Filia came to a screeching halt in front of the alley and pushed the two buildings aside to make room for her large golden dragon body to pass between them. The pair of buildings collapsed left and right, crashing into the structure next to them and spreading the damage like dominos.

This was certainly more than the ninja woman expected. The blue eyed woman tossed the ring she had in her possession to a male ninja, who dashed away with it. Forgetting about the woman, Filia hastily followed the man, shooting lasers at him and spreading destruction in her path.

Milgazia witnessed the scene from several feet away in awe. "I didn't think Filia's temper was like this," he observed. Then again, it took a strong woman to marry a monster general priest.

"Wow," Memphis accurately commented.

"I better go try to talk some sense into her before innocent civilians get hurt," Milgazia decided.

"You mean before innocent civilians get killed," Memphis corrected. "I'm pretty sure the toll of injuries is already quite high."

Ignoring his apprentice's remark, Milgazia transformed in a bright golden light. "Ah, my eyes!" Galathia, who was watching Milgazia hiding behind a heart shaped plastic bush, jumped out holding her hands over her eyes under the thick veil that covered her face. "Don't you know this fabric is enchanted to only block the view one way? I can see just fine with this veil over my head, or at least I could before you shone that ridiculously bright golden light in my eyes!" The Gorgon monster complained, as she rubbed her eyes some more under her veil.

"Calm down," Milgazia, now much larger in full dragon form, spoke. "Just blink a few times and your eye sight will return to normal, that light doesn't cause any permanent damage, not even to monsters."

"She's got a point though," Memphis acknowledged. "It is kind of blinding. I already know to look away when you're transforming, but I'm sure you annoy a lot of people with that overly bright light."

"It's not like they would all be willing to politely look away if I asked them too," Milgazia defended. "Besides, it's faster than having to find a private place to transform every time."

Galathia's eyes were fully recovered now as she glared under her veil with her hands on her hips. "That's the whole point! I didn't want to miss the show!"

Memphis gave Galathia an odd look while Milgazia frowned in embarrassed disapproval. "Aren't monsters supposed to hate golden dragons?" The elf inquired with almost academic curiosity. "Shouldn't you be more disgusted than attracted?"

Galathia shrugged, "lust is a sin too, you know," she pointed out in her defense.

"I've heard enough, more than enough, actually." Preferring to end the exchange before it became even more disturbing than it already was, Milgazia hurried after Filia.

xoxox xox xoxox

Earlier, the green eyed ninja woman had tossed one of the wedding bands at another similarly dressed female, whom Amelia was still chasing after. The busty ninja seemed to be having fun as she dashed away with one of the wedding bands in hand. "Stop in the name of justice!" Amelia kept calling out continuously, albeit it was evident that she was only wasting her breath. Val was flying close to Amelia, screeching loudly and throwing little laser beams at the agile ninja woman. Not too far behind, Zelgadis was following after them in the crazy chase to recover the stolen wedding rings.

The busty ninja woman saw her allies ahead. She tossed the ring to another woman, who tossed it to a man, who tossed it to a ninja clad creature with tentacles, who tossed it to another man. Each time the wedding band switched hands, or tentacles, it got further away from Amelia, Val and Zelgadis. Even so, the allies of justice would not give up the chase and hurried after them as fast as they could.

Not too far from there, Milgazia approached Filia cautiously, an enraged golden dragon female was very dangerous, though one didn't usually become this angry unless her children were threatened, this one was obviously exceptionally temperamental. "Miss Filia," Milgazia tried to address her in the calmest tone he could muster despite the situation.

A loud roar echoed as another female golden dragon arrived on the scene, her head covered with a black mask as she tackled Milgazia behind a row of buildings. It all happened in a split second as Filia turned to look at the one calling her. Instead she saw a rising cloud of dust among the continued panicked screams of the crowds of resort tourists and employees.

Turning her attention back to the ninja she was chasing, Filia realized that the man had regrouped with the two ninja women with green and blue eyes. There were also more ninja joining them, two men, two women and something that wasn't quite human in shape. They were being chased by Amelia, Zelgadis and Val.

Emerging from the debris all around them, Wizer pointed at the gathered ninja. "There they are!" Lina, Gourry, Pokota, Jillas, Elena, Palou, Gravos, Philionel, Phythan, Onyx, Fang, Xellos and Zelas arrived at the scene along with him.

Milgazia stood up from behind the row of almost collapsing buildings with the masked golden dragon holding him back. "What's the meaning of this?" He roared.

"This is Filia's fight, I won't let you interfere!" The masked golden dragon insisted in a familiar voice.

"All the other golden dragons transformed," Phythan observed. "I guess I might as well do it too!" Said and done, Phythan changed to his dragon form. At least he didn't take up as much space as Filia, the masked golden dragon or Milgazia, who was the biggest out of all the golden dragons present.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 102: Together! Ode To Chaos

Just when it looked like things were finally proceeding smoothly for the wedding of Xellos and Filia, at the last moment the wedding rings were stolen by a mysterious person in ninja attire. The unforeseen event caused a rampage of chaos to spill over Amor Resort, as all those present ran off to recover the rings. Filia, transformed into her true dragon shape in a fit of rage, was facing off after the reunited group of thieving ninja. Milgazia had transformed to try to talk some sense into Filia without risking being stepped on, but he had been held back by a ninja masked female golden dragon.

Seeing as there were other golden dragons in their true form there, Phythan decided to transform as well, in the usual sudden way that lacked in modesty. "I never get tired of seeing that!" Galathia squealed in delight. She made her way to the area past the debris just on time to witness the transformation.

"Not again," Zelas groaned exasperated. Phythan was not supposed to so carelessly transform in her presence, but it stood to reason that he had not seen her coming, thus Zelas decided to spare his life, annoyance aside. "For the record if anyone cares to know," even though honestly, no one probably wanted to know. "Milgazia's little light show has no effect on particularly powerful beings, which obviously includes me."

Galathia pouted in frustration, "you're so lucky," she grumbled under her breath.

"What's that? I'm terribly unfortunate? Indeed I am," Zelas dramatically placed her hand on her forehead with an exaggerated expression of misery. Her face soon evolved into warning anger. "The next dragon that doesn't cover up when transforming is going to die, no arguments! All this bare dragon skin is making me terribly hungry."

Phythan backed away in fear, "I'm sorry, Lord Beast Master!"

Unwisely, Galathia half asked and half stated. "Hungry for passion?"

Zelas glared murderously, "hungry for flesh."

The gorgon decided it was time to partially change the subject. "About Milgazia," Galathia began to inquire in a mischievous 'spare no details' tone of voice.

"The next person to ask me to describe things I wasn't supposed to see in the first place will die too!" Zelas warned in a threatening beastly growl.

Galathia slapped both hands over her mouth under her veil and nodded quietly.

The male ninja who had received the ring from the blue eyed female ninja, who was being chased by Filia, tossed it to the busty ninja woman. The man who had caught the other ring after it was passed from one ninja to another tossed it to her as well. The busty ninja woman backed away, giving the other ninja some room. Amelia took the opportunity to take her by surprise and tackle her, but at the last moment, she threw the rings to the ninja woman with the green eyes. However, the tall busty ninja was still caught and Amelia wasted no time in removing the black mask that covered her head to reveal her hidden identity. "Naga?!"

Zelgadis stopped cold in the middle of his pursuit of the green eyed ninja. He couldn't help it but to look back at Amelia's captive, who had been revealed to be her sister. "What in the world is going on here?"

The green eyed ninja backed away and threw the wedding rings at one of the male ninja, who caught them and jumped on top of a pile of debris a short distance away from the area where the other ninja had gathered. He removed his mask to reveal that he was Celo. The green eyed ninja then removed her mask too and revealed she was Sylphiel. "It was only a matter of time before our identities were discovered. Either way it doesn't matter because our mission is complete. Miss Filia has transformed and is ready to face her opponent!"

"This will be a grand show! Ah ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga's laughter echoed.

The masked golden dragon removed her mask as well, to reveal she was Tiffany, though given the limited number of golden dragons that were on the island, that was pretty easy to guess anyway. "I wish you luck, sweet Filia!"

"Luck for what? What is this?" Filia demanded to know as she stomped her large clawed feet angrily.

Xellos levitated over to Filia and perched himself on her shoulder. "I'm not sure what this is about, but it looks like a summoning." He pointed at the ninja below.

"A summoning?" Filia looked at the remaining five ninja all of which had uncovered their faces.

Martina stood in the middle of their gathering, holding up the talisman of Zoamelgustar. Surrounding her were Zangulus, Kally, Kalio and Medusa, who were also holding up Zoamelgustar talismans. "Prepare to feel the wrath of the mighty monster Zoamelgustar!" The five talismans glowed unexpectedly as a shadowy figure began to emerge from them, the mist of each talisman uniting in the center.

The mist became more solid, taking the shape of a large mask that looked exactly like the Zoamelgustar talismans. The mask shot out lasers from its eyes, which Filia narrowly ducked out of the way of. She jumped back, slightly flapping her wings and retaliated with her laser breath. The laser went right through the mask, having no effect what so ever. The mask shot more eye lasers at Filia, which she struggled to dodge as they were coming in extremely fast.

"Is it just me or is Filia's stomping around making a much bigger mess than the lasers," Lina wondered.

"It's not just you, the lasers are illusions and so is the mask." Milgazia, who had since been released by Tiffany and gone back to his elf form, joined the others, followed by Tiffany, Phythan and Memphis. The dragons had all transformed back into their elf forms away from Zelas' view, thus her hunger was not further provoked. Unlike Filia, Milgazia had actually planned ahead considering the possibility of needing to transform and his tuxedo was intact when he changed back. Interestingly, he now held a bucket of popcorn which Lina and Gourry were eyeing hungrily.

Zelas looked amused, "I'm sure that Xellos already knows, but I don't think he'll tell her. Let's all watch Filia make a fool of herself in a fine representation of the golden dragon race."

Seeing that the situation was mostly under control, the resort tourists gathered around to watch. The rest of the wedding guests also joined in as spectators. While all of that took place, Memphis looked like she had something to say, constantly opening and closing her mouth. Yet no sounds came out, because she just didn't know how to express what was on her mind. Finally, she poured all her indignation, which wasn't supposed to be her own, into one word, "uncle!"

"Let it go Memphis, just let it go. We're not in danger here," and Milgazia wanted to keep it that way. Most of all he didn't want to anger Zelas and have her take the fight to his clan.

"That's right, there's no need to throw a hissy fit over the fact that dragons are stupid." Zelas cheerfully stated her own form of agreement. She snatched away Milgazia's popcorn and stuffed a handful of the buttery treats in her mouth. Then she made a disgusted sound, "ew, dragon germs!" She threw away the bucket of popcorn.

The bucket of popcorn landed on the head of an approaching Celo. It wasn't as hard as the other items that had hit him on the head that day, but it was certainly stickier. "Is this throw things at Celo's head day?" He complained as he threw the bucket off his head and brushed off the popcorn that was sticking to his hair with the hand that wasn't holding the wedding rings.

"The popcorn!" Lina agonized at the waste of good food. Zangulus and Martina had disappeared towards an unknown destination when everyone's attention was focused elsewhere. They approached the group pushing little popcorn selling carts, revealing where Milgazia had gotten his popcorn. Needless to say, their mobile businesses were immediately targeted by Lina and Gourry.

While all the commotion went on for the crowd to enjoy, Filia was becoming frustrated. Xellos was still sitting on her shoulder grinning in amusement. The monsters that had been invited to the wedding were practically rolling with laughter in the crowd below, making a mockery out of the golden dragons.

A lady with long hair wearing a blue dress and a man in a tuxedo, much like the many that were in use in the area, approached Zelas. "Great party, your staff certainly has a talent for comedy shows." The woman in blue commended.

"Admittedly the entertainment is better than I expected," the man agreed.

Milgazia instinctively inched away from them. He knew he was walking into monster territory, but he didn't expect to find Zelas, Dolphin and Dynast all in the same place. Yet there they were, making a mockery out of his race, but strangely, he wasn't worried. He didn't feel the rush of battle adrenaline that came with the presence of impending doom. This wasn't a battle field, this wasn't a time for war, it was a time for recreation. Zelas would not permit any real battles to take place, not with her general priest in such an exposed state. This was a temporary truce that Milgazia knew was in everyone's best interest not to break.

Filia's frustration grew alongside her exhaustion. When she finally had enough, she rushed towards Martina. "That thing is Zoamelgustar; it answers to you, doesn't it."

Martina was in the process of selling Lina some popcorn, as it was demanded by her current employment, even if she wasn't too happy about having to serve Lina food, or serve her anything at all. Lina had her greedy expectant hands outstretched to receive the large bucket of caramel covered popcorn, her expression denoting her hunger. That's when Martina threw the popcorn in indignation. "Do not call the great Zoamelgustar a thing!"

"No!" Lina agonized over the waste of food.

Predictably, the popcorn landed on Celo's head. He removed the sticky mess, doing his best to clean his hair. "I'm really not liking this running gag," he frowned.

The mask of Zoamelgustar was about to shoot another laser at Filia, who jumped out of the way immediately. The beams of light headed towards her previous location of a split second ago, threatening to collide with the area where the popcorn vendors and their customers were located. "Look out!" Filia warned, but no one seemed inclined to move. The light of the lasers collided with the area but produced no damage what so ever. "What?" Filia stood still as the next blast of lasers from Zoamelgustar came and passed harmlessly through her. "This is only an illusion!" The laughter of the crowd echoed, along with Xellos. Filia grabbed hold of him in her large clawed golden scaly hand and glared, looking very much like a fairytale dragon with a hostage on hand. Except Xellos wasn't a princess in a flowing dress, hoping to be rescued by a brave knight before she was devoured by a fierce dragon. "You knew!" Filia accused while she shook Xellos.

All that shaking was making Xellos kind of dizzy, but not dizzy enough to withhold his classic comeback. Though his arms were being held down by Filia's massive golden fingers and thus he couldn't make his trademark pose, he still spoke the words he was so well known for. "That is a secret."

Filia let out a deafening roar and threw another hissy fit, before running off in the direction of the lopsided wooden clock tower with Xellos, literally, on hand. She ducked into the plastic forest and seemingly disappeared in a golden flash.

"Encore, encore!" The monsters loudly chanted, soon to be joined by the rest of the crowd.

"Hear that, Zelas? They want more, can you provide it?" Dynast challenged.

"Of course I can, I'll prove that I am the best party host," Zelas proudly declared. "Now let's see, who shall be the star of the next part of the show." Her eyes landed on Milgazia, who wanted to fade out of existence.

Galathia immediately jumped forward. "Why don't Milgy and I dance a passionate romantic tango to entertain the guests?" She offered.

Milgazia shook his head, "I don't know how to dance, I'll step on your feet," he lied.

"I don't have any feet for you to step on, hottie," Galatia wiggled her snake tail reminding him that she was a serpent from the waist down.

"Galathia, your one sided flirting isn't funny, it's pitiful," Zelas shook her head in disapproval. "Besides, I have a better idea, Phythan, go behind that pile of debris over there and transform back into a golden dragon."

"Right away!" Phythan cheerfully agreed and obeyed Zelas' request. He emerged from the debris in his dragon form, stepping over it and approaching the group.

"Why did you have to make him hide, just because you don't like golden dragon fan service doesn't mean the rest of us wouldn't enjoy it," Galathia pouted in disappointment.

Dolphin twisted her nose in disgust, "you're weird. Liking a dragon is okay for an odd ball like Xellos, but for us sane, non-chimera, monsters it's weird." Dolphin then added in a whisper under her breath. "Honestly, I think Zelas was drunk on radioactive wine when she made Xellos." Monsters didn't normally get drunk or obtained any sort of effect from beverages beyond taste, although obscure legends told of a special spell that could enchant drinks to induce a drunken state even in purely astral beings.

"I heard that," Zelas growled. "Back to the topic of amusement, gather around for the golden dragon roller coaster, it's a classic ride that no one ever gets tired of!"

"Using golden dragons to carry us around for fun?" Dynast mused aloud. "It seems appropriately mocking," he nodded in approval. "I want to ride that one!" He pointed at Tiffany.

Celo stepped forward with a protective pout upon his face. "That's my wife."

"So? Doesn't she come with roller coaster functions like all golden dragons do?" Dynast inquired.

Dolphin giggled in a way that was too cute for a monster lord. "That went right over your head, didn't it Dynast?"

"What did?" Dynast inquired in confusion.

"Never mind, let me find a private spot to transform and I'll come give the innocent one a nice little ride." Tiffany chirped as she headed over to find a hiding place behind the debris.

"What did I miss?" Dynast insisted on knowing, but no one wanted to tell him. All the while the illusion of Zoamelgustar kept putting up quite the laser light show, which would go on for some time, until the magic faded away.

xoxox xox xoxox

After hiding herself from view among the plastic trees behind the lopsided wooden clock tower and confirming that there was no one in the area, Filia put Xellos down, looking embarrassed. "I had a little accident with my dress," she confessed in a mix of shame and warning.

Interested in hearing more, Xellos curiously inquired. "What kind of accident?"

Filia knew she had to confess because it was about to become obvious anyway. "It was torn to shreds because I had no way to magically store it when I transformed," she confessed. After taking another look around to make sure they were indeed alone, she warned. "Don't say anything!" Then she changed into her elf form and hurriedly made her way into the empty clock tower, thankful that she knew there was no one there. All those who could possibly enter the structure were gathered below the area where the Zoamelgustar light show was.

"It's such a pity that you destroyed that dress, it actually made you look less ugly." Xellos teased as he followed Filia inside the clock tower and up the stairs to rummage around for something to wear.

Surely Tiffany had plenty of clothes in her rebuilt home by now and wouldn't mind if she borrowed some. "I told you not to say anything," Filia growled, not turning around to even glance at Xellos.

"What? It was a compliment," Xellos defended with feigned innocence. "Either way, I like what you're wearing now better."

Filia finally found Tiffany's room, let herself in and began to browse through her closet. "What's that supposed to mean? I'm not wearing anything!" She snapped, while picking up a simple navy blue dress and examining it.

"That's my point," Xellos grinned mischievously, wrapping his arms around Filia from behind. "If you want, we could skip the wedding and move along to the honey moon," he whispered in her ear, nibbling on her neck.

For a moment Filia almost gave into temptation... almost. Then she loudly exclaimed, "absolutely not!" Adamantly declaring her refusal so as to convince not only Xellos, but also herself.

"Why are you being so stubborn? Technically, we already skipped ahead to the honey moon before," Xellos reminded.

"That's not the point!" Filia argued. "I can't get distracted now. I have to show Zelas that I'm strong enough to put up with anything she can dish out, or she'll just pick on me even more. I'm not running away and giving up. This is only a temporary retreat for clothes. I intend to march right back into that temple and get married as soon as possible."

"Someone's really determined, as I suspected, you're completely obsessed with me," Xellos smugly teased.

Filia pouted and finished getting dressed. "That's how you wish it were."

"And how it is," Xellos grinned.

"Let's finish this discussion later," Filia proposed. "We have a wedding to get back to and it's already been postponed long enough."

xoxox xox xoxox

When Xellos and Filia finally reunited with the others, the illusionary image of Zoamelgustar was close to fading away completely. As for the guests, they were being amused by golden dragon roller coasters. It was an activity in which Milgazia was forced to participate under a death threat. After a while of roller coaster fun, the guests returned to the temple and once again took their seats, with the dragons back in elf form, taking their places as well.

Filia was pacing around the back room in the company of Sylphiel, Lina, Amelia, Val, Xellos and Zelas. She was taking a moment to fuss about her lost purple dress and also to apologize to Tiffany for borrowing her clothes without asking, though Tiffany insisted it was nothing to worry about.

"You really are clumsy," Zelas pulled out something out of the astral side and tossed it to Filia.

The soft black fabric hit Filia on the face, though obviously not too hard. "Another dress?"

"You owe me," Zelas declared, then speedily fixed Filia's makeup in a dark style she normally did not wear.

Nonetheless, Xellos decided it was a fine time to give his bride to be a flirty look complimented with a wink, expressing his approval. Before he could make any flirty teasing remarks, Zelas faded to the astral side, taking Xellos with her.

Filia certainly didn't feel like she owed Zelas for the dress. When it came to all the trouble the monster lord caused, the dragon still felt like she got the short end of the deal. Even so, she was very grateful that the wedding was apparently finally progressing and overall concluded that it was worth it. "I'm going to get dressed." Filia took a step towards the smaller changing room attached to the backroom of the temple.

"Sweet Filia," Tiffany stopped her for a moment, "no hard feelings?"

"I would like to apologize too. I stole the rings as part of my job." Sylphiel added.

"It's okay, if anything I'm thankful that the chaos has seemingly appeased the monsters in a way." Filia smiled with more energy than she thought she had left and went to change. The new dress was black, with amethysts lining the top and bottom. Among the fabric Filia found matching jewelry to wear.

The black dress felt even tighter than the first, if that was even possible. The style was similar to the purple one, with the most noticeable difference being that the slit of the long skirt was much wider, cut diagonally on one side. It provided a constant view of one of her legs up to mid thigh and part of the other up to the knee. This wasn't what Filia dreamed of as her ideal wedding dress, but she knew that at least Xellos would like it. More importantly, regardless of what she wore, what really mattered was that the wedding would finally happen.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 103: I do! Terms and Conditions

The guests' chatter once again settled down and the temple became silent as Zelas made her entrance with Xellos on her arm. The audience was perfectly quiet, except for the gnashing of Huey's teeth, as the block of ice encasing him had only recently melted. Beyond the sound of the orchestra's funeral march, Filia could have sworn she heard the sound of her own beating heart. She clutched her new bouquet of black and purple flowers, roses this time, false of course, though they were filled with an alluring perfume that was making her dizzy with its intensity. Finally, Xellos arrived by Filia's side and Zelas released him to join his bride, standing aside to allow the bride and groom to take the center stage.

Of course, the slit of Filia's dress was on the side that faced the crowd, as she took the position in front of the altar where the groom usually stood. She was sure Zelas took that into account too, to further embarrass her. Regardless of the difficulties that she had gone through and the trials and tribulations that were surely to come, Filia cherished the moment. While Sylphiel went on with the less than classic wedding vows, Filia tried to focus her eyes on Xellos, but from the corner of her eyes, she couldn't help it but to see the monsters sitting at the temple making faces at her. Xellos couldn't see them, instead getting a view of Filia and the bride's guests on the opposite direction.

Filia didn't expect anything except disrespectful mockery from the monsters, but they were really getting on her nerves, especially because some of the stupid faces they were making at her were actually funny. Matters got worse when Zelas started quietly blowing raspberries and Dolphin slipped her hand behind Dynast's head creating the shape of horns with her fingers. It was especially silly, since Filia theorized that he probably had horns in his true form anyway. The bride clenched her teeth and tried to focus completely on Xellos while Sylphiel went on and on with the unusually long wedding vows that sounded more like some kind of slavery contract.

In an effort not to be distracted by the monsters' funny faces, Filia paid attention to the vows. "In the event that the golden dragon race should reinstate the bride into their ranks, she will be required to serve as a spy for Beast Master." Sylphiel read from the scroll that she had been provided with.

The words made Filia wish she had been paying attention to the whole list of wedding vows that were very out of place in a wedding. As Sylphiel went on with the ridiculous terms and conditions set by Beast Master, Filia's angry eyes landed on Xellos' amused gaze. He was grinning, almost laughing. She glared and accidentally looked at the audience behind him, noticing that Zelas was still making faces at her, sticking out her tongue and wiggling her perfectly manicured fingers, with a pair of strangely adorable little wolf ears twitching atop her head. Unable to contain herself, Filia burst out laughing despite her anger.

Sylphiel paused, as she was done reading the terms and conditions recorded on the scroll and was left with an unanswered question that required an official 'I do.' The priestess tried to give Filia a moment to compose herself, but the bride had been ceased by an uncontrollable laugh attack. With Filia still laughing her head off, Sylphiel decided she might as well turn her question to Xellos. "Do you, Xellos Metallium, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Filia Ul Copt, who should have been your mortal enemy?"

With her face scarlet red in mortification, Filia managed to calm herself just in time to hear Xellos' mocking and superior, "I do."

Seeing as the bride was somewhat compose, save for the bright shade of red on her face, Sylphiel repeated her question to Filia. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Xellos Metallium, who should have been your mortal enemy?"

"I don't!" Filia snapped. The gathered crowd erupted in shocked gasps and scandalized murmurs filled the temple.

"Such drama!" Amelia beamed in excitement. Little Val squeaked in confusion in the princess' arms. Val wasn't sure what was going on, but the strange looks his aunts, Lina, Elena and Tiffany, were giving her, hinted that aunt Amelia's reaction wasn't what should be expected.

At a loss on what to do, Sylphiel assumed that the bride had given the wrong answer on accident because she was nervous. Once again, she voiced the vital question. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Xellos Metallium, who should have been your mortal enemy?"

"I don't," Filia repeated with stubborn determination. It became obvious that her answer was no mistake and the gossiping murmurs of the crowd increased as a reaction.

Xellos frowned, making an exaggerated dramatic sad expression. "Don't you love me, stupid dragon?"

"Of course I love you, raw garbage, but I can't agree too all those terms and conditions!" Filia insisted.

"True love is supposed to agree to anything," Zelas pointed out.

Filia placed one hand on her hip, the other still holding the bouquet of black and purple flowers. "How would you know, you're a monster lord, you don't feel love, do you?"

With a mix of offense and disgust, Zelas snapped, "I most certainly do not!" Then she added in a calmer tone, "but I have read well researched reports about it."

"I've been abandoned at the altar, oh I'm so miserable!" Xellos dramatized, backing away from the altar and pretending to cry on Zelas' shoulder.

"There, there, we'll find you another slave, I mean bride." Zelas petted Xellos hair in mocking consolation.

Dynast and Dolphin focused on him to try to taste his misery. The misery of Zelas' general priest would surely be a sweet delicacy, but they were terribly disappointed. "He's faking it!" Dynast accused. "More realism!"

"Shut up, don't interrupt, this is the best part!" Dolphin elbowed him urgently. "I hope this soap opera has a tragic ending, I really like those."

Filia sighed hopelessly; this so called wedding was becoming even more of a mockery than it already was. "You know, if you wanted to force me into doing everything that your contract states, you could." She dangerously stated the truth.

"That is very true," Zelas agreed.

"So why should I bother agreeing to all of it if it makes no difference? Can't I at least have a somewhat normal wedding vow?" Filia pleaded.

"That would not please the audience," Zelas pointed out with a predatory look that indicated that by audience she was including herself and she was not someone anyone would want to displease.

"I have an idea," Xellos ceased his silly drama, with a cheerful amused grin that didn't fit at all with his previous feigned misery. "I need a pen."

"Here," Dynast tossed a pen at Xellos with such speed that if Zelas had not caught it, it would have stabbed his throat and killed him.

With a mocking grin that screamed 'you can't kill me, nya, nya, nya, you can't kill me!' Xellos took the pen Zelas handed him. "Thank you," a polite phrase never sounded so smugly mocking before. Xellos turned the scroll Sylphiel was reading from over to the blank back side and scribbled something on it, with Zelas looking over his shoulder amused. With the new vows on paper, everyone took their places again as Sylphiel once again read. However, the priestess paused, causing Xellos to give her a questioning look. "What is it?" He inquired.

"Nothing," Sylphiel replied, "it's just that I didn't think you would dot your i's with little stars. That's not something one would expect a monster to do," it was cute.

"Why not? It's stylish," Xellos defended.

"I guess so," Sylphiel agreed and proceeded with her reading. She wondered if Filia would actually agree to this. It seemed less extreme than the previously proposed agreement, but it still wasn't exactly romantic. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt-"

"I object!" All heads turned towards the loud voice at the entrance of the temple.

"Is that a goblin?" Princess Marlene inquired.

"Maybe it's a troll," Ruuma theorized.

"It's an ogre!" Pokota announced. "Can't you tell from the onion smell?"

The chubby green ogre with the funny ears looked embarrassed, as all eyes were on him. He glared at his donkey companion, needing someone to blame for the mishap, then laughed nervously. "Sorry, wrong wedding, please carry on!"

The ogre hurried away, while the Donkey went on and on about how they "should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque."

Sylphiel cleared her throat to gather the attention of the guests once more and continued with the very interrupted wedding ceremony. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to tease and be teased, annoy and be annoyed, give and receive frequent hot fan service and its aftermath..." Honestly Sylphiel would rather not read too deeply into that part, but it was making Filia blush. "And happily bicker with Xellos Metallium, in amusement and in stress, in entertainment and in chaos, in mischief and in insanity, not permitting boredom to ever be a part of your lives, for the rest of your miserable existence?"

The audience waited with baited breath, all eyes on Filia. They wondered if she would decline to those terms as well, most sane people would. But who ever said that love was sane? Filia actually thought this vow was kind of fitting and cute in its own peculiar way, plus Xellos wrote it himself and that made it special to her. "I do."

Murmurs erupted from the crowd, most of them questioning Filia's sanity. They were quickly silence by Sylphiel, who continued reciting the new wedding vows. "Do you, Xellos Metallium-"

"I hate happy endings!" Dolphin called out, initiating a chorus of 'boo' from the groom's side of the temple.

"Summarize it and let's get it over with," Zelas ordered. "The guests are getting impatient."

Sylphiel nodded and continued. Instead of the usual slow dramatic pace commonly used to read wedding vows, she spoke in a hasty voice. "Do you, Xellos Metallium, agree to everything I just asked Filia about?"

"I do," Xellos agreed and with that the wedding vows were officially completed.

As it is traditional, Sylphiel went on with the next line. "I now declare you husband and-"

"Don't kiss her!" Dynast called out. "You're going to make us toss out all that energy we ate from the rampage earlier."

"I hate happy endings!" Dolphin complained again, pulling out a fan out of nowhere and creating a soft breeze around herself. She looked like a snobbish offended aristocrat, which was probably the look she was purposely going for anyway.

While Filia glared at the monster lords who were set on ruining her wedding, Xellos blew raspberries at them and suddenly pulled Filia into his arms. He kissed her with enough passion to make her face turn scarlet and provoke the complaints of all the monsters in the temple, except the monster chimeras, Celo and Fang. Even Zelas was joining in the booing. "Alright, that's enough; break it up before I break you both!" Beast Master warned. Xellos and Filia finally parted, taking in some much needed oxygen into their thirsty lungs.

"Now it's time for the tradition of throwing things at the newly weds." Dolphin had a spiky metal ball ready to throw it and Dynast was about to light up a bomb.

"You're supposed to throw rice!" Filia defended. Her face was still rosy from the intensity of her first kiss as a married woman.

"There are people in the far reaches of the world who are still recovering from the effects of a terrible famine and you want to waste food?" Zelas feigned indignation. "You are such a cruel and inconsiderate dragon!"

Before Filia could come up with any form of answer, and thankfully, before the monsters could start throwing things at the newly weds, the temple began to shake violently.

"Perhaps the union of a golden dragon and a monster has upset the balance of the universe and doomed this world to implode!" Wizer theorized, with more excitement than certain doom should merit.

"I think it's just a regular earthquake," Pokota argued, though it was none the less a pretty unlucky event. "Everyone outside!"

"Let us panic in an orderly manner!" Wizer contradictorily added. The bride, the groom, the priestess, the best man, the bridesmaids and all of the guests, avalanched out of the temple with plenty of pushing and shoving along the way.

xoxox xox xoxox

By the time the harsh earthquake ended, the temple was left in shambles along with most of the structures of Amor Resort. It looked like the place would have to be closed down for repairs for quite some time. Even the majestic glass dome where balls were usually held, the place where they had planned to hold the wedding reception, had fallen to pieces. At least the biggest and fanciest cruise of the resort was still safely at port, having survived the harsh tidal waves that came as a consequence of the seismic activity. Thus the group headed there to have the wedding's after party.

As they walked to the port, making their way through the debris and destruction that was all over Amor Resort, Sylphiel shared her worries with Amelia, Lina and Tiffany. "I have a strong feeling that I'm forgetting something important. With how" unusual, strange, weird, "original this wedding is, it kind of threw me off."

"As long as no one forgets the banquet and cake, any other details can be overlooked," Lina firmly declared. "I never got my popcorn and all that running around after the rings made me very hungry."

"The rings!" Sylphiel, Amelia and Tiffany exclaimed at the same time.

"Oh no, I got so caught up in the drama that I forgot to make sure Val wasn't chewing on them!" Amelia apologetically confessed. "Val, can you give the rings you were holding back to auntie?" Little Val deposited two chewed pieces of gold into Amelia's hand. The shiny materials were impossible to identify as rings.

"All that work to get them back and they weren't even used," Lina stated in disbelief.

"It's not the ring that matters, but its significance... or something cheesy like that," Tiffany cheerfully chirped. "Although, we should get those fixed before sweet Filia remembers them, so we can give them to the newlyweds as soon as possible. I'm sure they won't mind too much. Xellos will be amused and Filia will be okay, thinking that at least she managed to get married despite all the interruptions and difficulties."

xoxox xox xoxox

Filia fingered the wedding band that had been so difficult to obtain. It was ironic that the wedding was halted to recover it and all that mayhem occurred, only to forget about it during the actual ceremony. Well at least she had her wedding ring, though she was sure Xellos would oh so kindly allow Val to use his as a chew toy and criticize her for being a bad mother if she didn't allow their child to chew up her wedding band as well. At least she could keep her engagement ring to herself, probably. None the less, at least the wedding went through, albeit Filia didn't feel any different with the status of being married then she did before, not that she expected to feel too different.

All things aside, the situation was the same. There was a mysterious enemy out there, a hidden conspiracy, Zelas was plotting and after all of that was done and over with, after it blew up in Filia's face, she would have a shop to get back to, a son to raise and a life to live... hopefully. However, there was a more immediate problem to address right now. "Are you sure you're okay with this, Xellos?"

"Of course I'm okay," Xellos grinned in his usual confident way, but anyone who knew him as well as Filia would see past it. His human body was prone to becoming sea sick, though he was fighting it; the constant rocking of the waves combined with the piercing smell of fish wasn't helping. Though the large cruise was not sunk by the massive tidal waves that came along with the earthquake, the deck was showered in salty water and sea creatures. It was a mess and in no way similar to the kind of place one would expect to hold a party at, let alone a wedding party.

None the less, Lina was quite happy, immediately suggesting a fish barbecue, and thus it was done. The S.S. Highwind cruise circled the Amor Resort island, rocking constantly on the energetic waves with the scent of barbecued fish all over the deck. Among the seafood being prepared there was octopus, which Xellos' human body was allergic to. He wouldn't have any serious consequences as long as he didn't eat any, but the smell was clearly bothering him. Then again, such a strong smell of fish would bother anyone. Filia knew that his arm around her waist wasn't just a show of affection to gross out all the monsters present. Xellos was desperately trying to hold on to his sense of balance, so as to not fall face first into the deck in a dizzy daze.

Zelas approached with a bottle of a suspicious looking liquor, which she handed to Xellos. "This will make you feel better about the fact that all the wedding presents that were kept at the dome for the originally planned location of the party were crushed to pieces." Then she added in a whisper. "Besides, I can't have you getting sick in front of my guests; you must not be so weak."

"Sick? I'm not sick at all." Xellos tried to look confident. He would fool anyone into believing he was just fine, except Filia and Zelas.

"Either way, drink, it's an order," Zelas smiled sweetly, her eyes glinting dangerously.

"Cheers!" Xellos uncovered the bottle and began to drink.

The scent of alcohol emerged heavily from the container, invading Filia's senses. Dragons had a higher resistance to alcohol than humans, but even so, she thought the scent was way too strong and Xellos was chugging the entire bottle of the stuff like water. "That can't be healthy," she worried.

"Come now, little dragon, a drop of liquor now and then won't kill anyone... Then again, humans are fragile, make sure he doesn't drink anymore; this is only for a special occasion." Zelas' mocking grin never left her face.

Filia frowned, "if Xellos actually survives this," she certainly hoped Zelas was informed enough about the human body not to make Xellos drink anything too lethal. "He's going to have such a killer hangover that I'm sure he won't dare to drink a single drop of alcohol ever again." At least not while he was human.

"That would make things difficult for you, wouldn't it?" Zelas mused with a pitying expression.

"How so?" Filia inquired, though she knew she didn't really want to hear the answer.

"Any man who stays sober long enough would no doubt dump you." With no further words of sarcastic compassion beyond that mocking utterance, Zelas went off to play hostess.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 104: Party! Festivities of Hilarity

The party guests were spread along the deck of the cruise ship, each enjoying the festivities in their own way. Phythan practically skipped over to Milgazia and chattered about random things for a while. Though he had been warned to be on his guard before Milgazia had no choice but to allow him to leave his group and journey to the fire clan, Phythan had not properly heeded the warning. None the less, he knew that Milgazia wasn't in on the trap that befell him and still looked up to him very much.

After Phythan ran off to try to get some barbecued fish before Lina ate it all, Milgazia resumed his previous activity of staring suspiciously at a certain peculiar item. Memphis had thought that Milgazia was done looking in that direction when his gaze settled politely on Phythan's face while the two talked, but after the younger golden dragon was gone, Milgazia's eyes went back there. Honestly, it was getting on Memphis' nerves and she thought it was about time she said something about it. She downed another glass of wine, her cheeks rosy from the alcohol and spoke in an accusing tone. "I'm sure she's already noticed you're staring and is plotting terrible ways to murder you."

Finally, Milgazia looked away from the black cone shaped jewel on Zelas' necklace. The gem reeked of monster energy, specifically Xellos' energy. The only reason why he recognized it beyond Zelas' own power was because he was looking for anything suspicious and kept his senses on high alert, especially towards the cunning Beast Master. "I know, I'm being too obvious," the golden dragon admitted. "If only I could get my hands on-"

"Uncle!" Memphis scolded, stomping her foot for emphasis. The rosy color of her face seemed to increase and Milgazia wondered if it was really all due to the wine or if there was another reason, such as rage. "For crying out loud, I thought you were a gentleman. I thought you had a lot more decency in you than this!"

It was true that jewelry theft wasn't exactly a commendable action, but given the circumstances it might be for the best, not that it would work anyway. "It's not like I'll actually try anything," Milgazia tried to defend himself, though he wasn't sure why he had to. "I know very well that Zelas could kill me ten times over before I even come close."

Memphis clenched her teeth angrily. "If she did kill you, which I'm sure she would, I wouldn't blame her, given the circumstances."

Milgazia didn't understand why his apprentice was being so harsh. "You can hardly blame me for thinking about it, for wishing I could." If he somehow managed to destroy that jewel, then maybe Xellos would never get his power back. His race would be avenged in a way and Filia wouldn't even need to be saddened by the loss of her husband. She could keep living with Xellos as a human.

"Why?" Memphis huffed. "Because you're a man?"

Milgazia blinked in confusion. When did gender come into the discussion? Furthermore, robbery wasn't a male exclusive activity and there were plenty of female thieves in the world to prove it. "Because I'm a golden dragon."

"So now all golden dragons are perverts?" Memphis huffed, crossing her arms indignantly.

"How is stealing a necklace perverted?" Milgazia inquired in puzzlement. "It's true that stealing is wrong and I'm not crazy enough to think I can actually get away with stealing from Zelas. I would understand if you called it insane or suicidal, but perverted?"

"Her necklace?" Memphis giggled, showing that the wine had indeed gone to her head. "So that's what you were staring at!" She laughed at her own silliness. "For a minute there I thought you were staring at her chest."

Milgazia's jaw dropped, his eyes wide, "are you crazy?" He exclaimed louder than necessary, then laughed nervously when several pairs of eyes landed on him. He pretended not to notice the odd looks that silently turned his own question on him. His face was slightly red, though it wasn't only embarrassment, a clear hint of offended rage could be perceived. He made a mental note not to allow Memphis to drink anymore. She was his apprentice, so he could say it was part of her training.

Memphis giggled and waved her hand dismissively. "Don't be angry, it was just an honest mistake. I mean come on, it was even technically true. I mean that jewel is right on her cleavage. I bet the guests think you're a pervert."

"I was not paying attention to that," Milgazia almost growled.

"I know, I know, you were thinking 'vengeance on Xellos' I'm just saying people might have gotten the wrong idea. If not because I stopped you, they would still be getting the wrong idea," Memphis reasoned.

Milgazia grumbled something inaudible as he ran his fingers through his golden blond hair. Admittedly, Memphis had a point; Milgazia just hoped that if he avoided looking at Zelas at all for the rest of the evening, people would assume the whole staring business was entirely in their imagination. He was sure that if someone brought it up, he would either pass out of extreme embarrassment, or go on a berserk rampage worse than Filia's in offended rage.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Gather around everyone, it's time to throw more things!" Tiffany cheerfully announced. Immediately, Dolphin and Dynast got their spiky metal balls and bombs ready to throw them. Seeing the impending doom, Tiffany clarified, "no, no, the guests' chance to throw things has passed, now only the bride and groom get to throw things." Before the monsters began to protest, Tiffany was quick to signal to Filia to come over, with a very drunk Xellos on her arm. "You better throw the flowers quickly, before the monsters get impatient and start throwing things that hit a whole lot harder than flowers."

"Okay," Filia tried to make Xellos stand still for a moment while she threw the bouquet of black and purple roses. He seemed to be more or less sufficiently balanced not to fall down, so she let him go and looked away for a moment as she threw the flowers over her shoulder.

The unmarried women had been gathered around to try to catch the flowers, or in the case of most monsters, excluding Galathia, to try to avoid catching the flowers. Lina was too busy pigging out along with Gourry, so she did not join them. The bouquet flew over the group of women, escaping the grasp of all the willing females who jumped in a futile effort to catch it. It sailed through the air above the main gathering of women towards the back where Zelas and Dolphin were, uninterested in trying to catch the roses. It would be an embarrassment for either of them really.

Seeing the approaching flowers, with fast reflexes, Dolphin pushed Zelas towards their path, but Zelas ducked, the bouquet safely passing over her and colliding with Celo's head, who was sitting at a table minding his own business behind the group on the deck. "I thought everyone was done throwing things at me!" Celo exclaimed with a frown. "Besides, I'm already married."

"Throw it to someone else!" Naga called out from among the group.

"Here goes," Celo threw the bouquet of black and purple roses into the air.

Wishing for revenge, Zelas pushed Dolphin in its path, holding her in place by the shoulders. Unwilling to give up and suffer the humiliation of catching the bouquet, Dolphin batted it away by swinging her long hair at it. The flowers bounced away, gaining altitude. "You touched the bouquet!" Zelas mocked, finally releasing Dolphin, to occupy her hands in pointing mockingly.

"That doesn't count, I didn't catch it!" Dolphin adamantly argued.

Simultaneously, the flowers were pulled down by gravity, falling at the midst of the group of women who actually wanted to catch the bouquet. A cloud of dirt mysteriously formed out of nowhere as they fought for it, even though the deck had no visible dirt before, just some water, seaweed and sea creatures. Amelia crawled out of the fight, victoriously holding up the bouquet, "I got it!" The rest of the women had no choice but to admit defeat and clap half heartedly, with only Amelia's friends actually clapping for real.

While everyone was still busy, congratulating Amelia and contemplating where the cloud of dirt that covered the battle for the bouquet had come from, Tiffany pulled Filia aside for a moment. "Did you remember to wear a nice garter?"

"I forgot," Filia confessed. She always had a garter to use as a holster for her mace and on the one day she needed it for other purposes she forgot to wear it. Well she wasn't carrying her mace, not with that dress, so she completely forgot about the garter.

"I thought you might have forgotten with how busy things are." Tiffany signaled over to Sylphiel, who was holding a box. "I made sure one was prepared, now all you have to do is put it on so Xellos can take it off and throw it."

It felt silly to put it on just so it could be removed seconds later, but Filia played along with it and put on the purple garter with amethysts. It was pretty and comfortable. It certainly made a good mace holster, so it was a pity she would soon lose it. "Is that a mini-mace in the box?"

"Yes, I thought it would be fitting," Tiffany smiled.

"Here you go," Sylphiel handed Filia the mini-mace with a smile. She didn't catch the bouquet, but she was still having fun.

Filia put the tiny mace on the purple garter. The little mace was black with a pretty purple ribbon tied around it. "Ready Xellos?" She glanced at the spot where she had left Xellos, but found that he was no longer there. "Xellos?" Whipping her head around urgently, Filia finally spotted her husband dancing on a table, previously occupied by Celo, Dynast and Fang, not too far away. Filia's face turned scarlet in embarrassment as she marched over to get him down.

"I thought for sure he would be affected by all this," Filia heard Dynast comment as she approached. "A lot of the humans are sea sick, or drunk or both; except the more gluttonous ones that can only think of eating the barbecued seafood."

"General Xellos is quite strong, even as a human," Celo proudly declared. "That's why the situation isn't affecting him at all."

Upon hearing those words, Filia couldn't help it but to exclaim, "that is unaffected?"

"Of course," Celo smiled with confident admiration. "Albeit Xellos must play his role of snobbish spoiled brat in the human business parties where the Metalliums are invited, this is not one of those events. In this party Xellos can do what he always does in Zelas' personal parties, dance on top of the largest guillotine in a perfect imitation of a terribly intoxicated human, or dance on a table for lack of guillotine."

Filia had a feeling that she did not want to know what Zelas' monster parties were like, nor did she have any desire to ever be invited to one. "I see..." a part of Filia wondered if Celo was kidding, but the part of her that was afraid to find out he wasn't prevented her from asking. Without further ado, Filia pulled Xellos off the table and dragged him away. "Listen, Xellos, you need to throw the garter, can you manage that?"

Xellos smiled like the intoxicated idiot he currently was, his face slightly red from the effects of the alcohol. "Yer pretty," he winked. "I like yuu," he laughed.

Filia sighed, "right, just take off the garter slowly and throw it."

While Filia was trying to make the drunk Xellos understand the process, Tiffany made the unmarried men gather around. "Let go of me, both of you!" Dynast demanded as Zelas and Dolphin dragged him towards the group, each one holding on to one of his arms, and held him still.

"A beautiful woman on each arm, man is that guy ever lucky." Huey grumbled from among the crowd of single men. Thankfully, the monster lords were not paying attention to him, or those might have been the last words of his life.

When Xellos finally threw the garter, it looked like it was heading right towards Dynast, whom his fellow monster lords conveniently positioned in its path. In a desperate attempt to escape humiliation, Dynast shot a beam of power from his mouth, which disintegrated the pretty purple garter to dust.

"Ew, you shot energy from your mouth like a dragon." Dolphin let go of Dynast's arm, brushing imaginary dirt off her hands, the motion being mimicked by Zelas.

"Who are you calling a dragon, you almost caught the bouquet!" Dynast retorted.

With a very mocking grin, Zelas began to sing, "Dolphin and Dynast sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

That was it, Dolphin and Dynast saw red, "kill her!" They unanimously growled and began to comically chase Zelas all around the deck. Perhaps the drinks were enchanted with that secret spell that could make even an astral being drunk. The monster lords shoved and pushed people out of the way as they went and sometimes overboard if they were particularly unlucky.

"That didn't go exactly as planned," Filia contemplated.

"Should I throw the pretty wand?" Xellos slurred, referring to the miniature mace.

"This might hurt someone," Filia refused, though to Xellos it sounded like an agreement and even more so like encouragement.

"Yay!" Xellos snatched away the mini-mace and threw it before Filia could stop him.

The tiny mace flew over the group of men, escaping their grasp as they jumped to catch it and headed straight towards Celo's head. Enough was enough and Celo's poor head had been abused more than enough already. He ducked quickly, avoiding another hit to the head. Instead the little mace continued its course through the air and landed on Gourry's plate, turning his barbecued fish with a side of roasted potatoes into barbecued fish with a side of mashed potatoes. "A little mace?" Gourry picked up the mace off his food and was met with applause, albeit he had no idea what it was for.

xoxox xox xoxox

After a while, Zelas managed to slip away from her pursuers and continued playing hostess. "The special treats should be ready right about now," she informed as she approached Tiffany. "It's lucky that I started preparing them when I did, or else the recipes wouldn't have been finished on time."

The mention of special treats, albeit it took place several feet away, did not escape Lina. "What treats?" The gluttonous redhead yelled from across the deck. If it was some kind of time consuming, ultra rare recipe, then it had to be worth looking into and biting into.

"Something delicious," Beast Master grinned. "And don't worry, unlike Xellos who only thinks he knows how to cook, I actually know how to cook. Tiffany, would you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen."

A cold chill ran down Tiffany's spine. She felt that there was some kind of catch she was missing, but knew better than to refuse Beast Master's order, even if it was masked as a simple request. "Sure, no problem."

"I'll help too!" Lina immediately offered.

"Me too!" Gourry volunteered as well. Yet before Gourry and Lina could make their way over to Zelas, the monster lord had already faded into the astral side, taking Tiffany with her.

Time passed as Lina and Gourry impatiently waited to see, and most of all to taste, the treats that Zelas promised. Insecurity invaded Lina as she wondered if Zelas was only getting their hopes up for nothing. She was a monster lord, so she could be that cruel. Yet the worries evaporated when Zelas returned to the deck. Tiffany faded into existence along with her and several food carts loaded with trays and dishes that smelled amazing.

Needless to say, Lina and Gourry immediately attacked the food. "This is awesome!" Lina complimented between big bites, not caring that she was talking with her mouth full.

"Yummy! Super yummy!" Gourry eloquently added.

"I think you're my favorite monster lord." With the proper reward Lina had been driven to forgive and forget the frightening incident involving an angry Luna false alarm.

"It's a pity that you can't return the favor and feed me something delicious right now." Zelas referred to the joy that was eradiating from the gluttonous pair. "But I'm sure your golden dragon friends will make up for that." She hinted ominously.

Amelia and Zelgadis curiously approached, beckoned by the appetizing scents. Zelgadis was especially glad that there was something other than seafood available to eat. He didn't mind seafood, but it wasn't exactly his favorite. Without reading too deeply into Zelas' words, the new arrivals managed to snatch away some plates from the food carts without losing any limbs to Lina and Gourry. "This is amazing!" Amelia exclaimed in admiration. She never would have guessed a monster lord could actually cook something so absolutely delicious.

"I have to admit, it's the best I've tasted," Zelgadis was also nothing short of shocked.

"I'm sure," Zelas grinned. "Do enjoy the meal, the monster guests could use some toughening up, so a little joy won't be too harmful. Plus we have the golden dragons to balance things out if they get out of hand." Zelas picked up a tray of appetizers, consisting of some kind of sauce covered meat on cute little toothpicks, and walked away.

"What is this meat anyway?" Amelia curiously inquired. "It's richer than the meat of a bird, but it doesn't taste like any cattle meat I've tried before."

"Chicken," Tiffany replied with a continuous little twitch in her eye.

"Really?" Amelia looked at the dishes in disbelief. That sauce on the meat must be really super special if it so drastically changed the taste of chicken.

"How can a steak this size come from a chicken?" Zelgadis questioned. "It has to have come from something a whole lot bigger."

"It's chicken!" Tiffany shouted, stomping her foot in emphasis and glaring aggressively. She breathed heavily, her eyes still twitching. "It's chicken, that's what it is, it's all chicken, okay?"

Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis nodded in unison. They didn't understand why Tiffany was so upset, but they did not want to further provoke a dragon. Thus they agreed that the meat was chicken, though it was obviously not.

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelas approached Milgazia and Memphis, who were quietly keeping an eye on all the happenings around them. Memphis had stopped drinking at Milgazia's insistence, though the effects of her drunkenness were not gone yet. Milgazia saw Zelas heading over to them. He hoped and wished with all his might that Memphis wouldn't say anything embarrassing. He drained his glass of wine, which was probably not the smartest thing to do, but unlike his elf comrade, he was a dragon and had a much stronger resistance towards alcohol. He just needed some moisture in his throat in hopes that it would get him ready for a diplomatic conversation. Or at least as diplomatic as he could be with someone he particularly disliked, but knew he had to put up with anyway.

Zelas smiled as if she was actually happy to see them. If she was, that could only be a bad sign. "Are you enjoying the party?"

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 105: Tension! Diplomatic Discussions

Zelas had merrily approached Milgazia and Memphis, with a tray full of appetizers, seeking to make friendly conversation. That, of course, meant that the monster lord intended to make them miserable.

"Uncle Milgazia won't let me drink," Memphis frowned. Milgazia wished that he had never suggested that first cup of wine to help Memphis relax, which should have been the first and only, but turned into many more.

"How terrible! Zelas pretended to feel the deepest compassion for Memphis' dilemma. "This is my party; Milgazia doesn't own the drinks here, so he can't tell you not to consume them. Go ahead and drink to your heart's content!"

Memphis' face lit up, only for her expression to fall seconds later when Milgazia reminded. "Memphis needs to focus on her training."

"Don't work too hard now," Zelas offered them the tray of appetizers. "Have some, I made these myself."

"No, thank you," Milgazia politely declined. Everyone else was eating and drinking, so the food seemed to be safe enough, but eating something directly offered by Beast Master was a whole different story.

"I insist," Zelas glared defiantly. "You don't think I'm trying to poison you, do you? That would be such an anti-climatic death. I assure you, these appetizers are perfectly safe. Besides, if I wanted to kill you, I would have done so already."

Admittedly, Zelas had a point, which Milgazia begrudgingly realized as he took one of the appetizers and ate it. The sauce really gave the rich meat a nice touch. He hated to admit it, but the food was exquisite and the satisfaction the delicate yet pronounced taste produce was revealed in his expression. Milgazia mentally kicked himself for that; he was supposed to be keeping a serious diplomatic face with this infuriating monster lord.

Memphis tasted the appetizers as well, happily receiving the tray that Zelas handed her and consuming them one after another.

"Do you like them?" Zelas asked with growing amusement.

"This is great!" Memphis happily exclaimed.

Milgazia mentally kicked himself for it, but he took another appetizer and ate it, they were simply too good. He wanted to look unimpressed, but not to compliment such a delicious delicacy felt like a terrible crime. "This is quite good," he swallowed his pride and confessed it.

Zelas' mocking grin grew even more, if that was even possible. "I'm only all too happy that you're enjoying my cooking. Eat as much as you like. In fact, I might want to have you for dinner some time."

Milgazia disregarded the so called invitation as sarcasm, but Memphis paused in her eating and gave Zelas a suspicious look. "Did you just ask Milgazia out on a date?"

"Memphis!" Milgazia scolded. The look in his eyes screamed 'are you trying to get us killed?'

"Do not misunderstand," Zelas clarified with a serious look. "I do think Milgazia looks delicious," she paused to lick her lips for the sake of creeping out Milgazia. The golden dragon shuddered visibly, proving that the gesture did indeed creep him out. "But I only mean that in a purely culinary way. Unlike Galathia, I don't enjoy golden dragon fan service, or any fan service, unless you count gore as being fan service. Though lust is indeed a sin, some of us prefer pride."

Memphis nodded, lost somewhere along the explanation. She understood that it wasn't a request for a date and left it at that. Milgazia however, did have something to say, "culinary?" He questioned, wondering if he even wanted to know. He automatically took another appetizer and ate it to calm the tense anger and creeped out frustration that was threatening to blow up like a time bomb.

"Yes," Zelas nodded in ambiguous confirmation. "By the way, my condolences on those golden dragons that disappeared some time ago."

"You were responsible for that?" Milgazia frowned, he was so very angry, but kept his temper in check for the sake of diplomacy and most of all survival.

Not directly addressing the question, Zelas continued. "I'm sure your comrades are with you in a sense and they will continue to be with you... at least until you're done digesting."

"Digesting?" Milgazia felt his heart almost stop. He looked at the last appetizer on the tray, which was soon consumed by Memphis. His brain came to a conclusion that he didn't like at all. "Was that dragon cuisine?"

"Indeed, it was golden dragon cuisine of the best quality, prepared with a special sauce consisting of a secret recipe made by me." Zelas smiled, savoring the moment along with the mix of unpleasant emotions eradiating from Milgazia. He really was delicious, in a purely culinary sense of course.

Milgazia's face went from ghostly pale to slightly green. He muttered a desperate sounding, "excuse me" and ran off to the side of the ship with his hand over his mouth.

"Aw, isn't that sweet?" Zelas chirped with endless amusement. "Milgazia is giving his friends a burial at sea."

Memphis, who was drunk, but not drunk enough to miss the basics of what was going on, was left twitching as she held the empty tray where the golden dragon cuisine appetizers once were.

xoxox xox xoxox

A few agonizingly nauseating minutes later, Milgazia was leaning on the cruise' railing, staring at the waves below. He allowed the sea breeze and the gentle rocking of the ship to calm him or at least tried to. The combination of soft motions, salty air and the scent of sea food and alcohol might have made many sick, but Milgazia preferred all that over the scent of dragon cuisine. He was ashamed to recall he thought it was appetizing and he hated the fact that the taste of the delicacy was still in his mouth. He didn't care if he drank enough to get drunk despite being a dragon, he needed a strong drink. He wouldn't mind if it was strong enough to burn his tongue and throat. He would do anything to get rid of the alluring taste of cannibalism.

Milgazia bitterly reminded himself that picking a fight with Zelas was suicide and when that knowledge was no longer enough, he reminded himself that he would not be the only one to suffer the consequences of his actions. Whatever he said or did there, would surely reflect on the entire golden dragon race and their allies. He concluded that his best course of action to keep a shred of sanity was to pretend he did not eat what could have been, and most likely had been, a friend of his. 'The appetizers were made of chicken. It was all chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken...' He mentally chanted.

"Hi," Milgazia's mental chicken chant was interrupted by Filia's friendly voice. She approached with a drunken Xellos on her arm, raising her voice to be heard above his ridiculous singing, which Milgazia had previously filtered out.

Milgazia was about to reply to the greeting as politely as possible despite his bad mood, but pause when he noticed a certain detail. Both Xellos and Filia were holding sticks with pieces of meat on them. Xellos was singing into his, as if it was one of those enchanted wands that amplified sound waves. After an annoyingly high note, he took a bite of the snack while Filia did the same to occupy herself during the awkward silence that settled in while she waited for Milgazia to reply to her simple greeting. Without a warning, Milgazia snatched away the meat on a stick, gave the snacks a sad look and threw them to the sea.

"I was eating that, you big meanie head!" Xellos complained.

Filia pouted and placed one hand on her hip, her other arm busy keeping Xellos next to her so that he wouldn't wander off to do something stupid that would embarrass her a lot more than him. "That was mean," she disapproved in a much more clear and much less slurred version of Xellos' recent accusation.

"That was my friend," Milgazia frowned, receiving a puzzled look from Filia. Xellos continued his stupid singing about how life was horrible and injustice always won, with a tone that was as cheerful, if not more cheerful, than the tone Amelia had during her wonderful life and justice speeches and songs. Seeing that Filia didn't quite understand, Milgazia elaborated. "That meat was dragon cuisine, golden dragon to be specific, and Zelas hinted who those dragons used to be."

Filia felt as if the deck below her feet had been taken away, like a carpet being pulled from under her feet without warning. She suddenly found herself feeling less balanced than Xellos and held on to the railing for support. "I just ate golden dragon meat?" She stuttered in disbelief. "I'm a cannibal!"

"It was only an accident, you didn't know," Milgazia tried to console his fellow accidental cannibal. "Besides, I had some too before I knew what that meat was. Why don't we just pretend it was chicken."

Filia nodded, her eyes still reflecting horror, "yes, chicken, it was chicken."

Filia froze up, her cheeks flushing slightly when Xellos randomly stopped singing and started nibbling on her neck. "Yuu taste like chicken," he licked.

"Stop it, I'm not edible!" Filia scolded.

"Yer too pretty to eat, but still tasty," Xellos giggled like an idiot and tried to lick Filia again.

"Excuse me; I need to go make some black coffee for Xellos... and for myself." With that plan in mind, Filia gave Milgazia her farewell for the time being and went off to find some caffeine in hopes of helping Xellos fight his drunken stupor and burning the taste of dragon off her tongue. Tea would be far too gentle for those purposes. Honestly, having Xellos get seasick was better than this in her opinion.

After Filia was gone, Zelas approached along with Memphis. The elf woman looked very drunk, but Milgazia wouldn't hold it against her. He would love to drink himself stupid right now to get over his cannibalistic guilt, yet he knew he couldn't. He had to stay sober enough to make sure Zelas' wrath was not provoked, or else the losses among his kind would be far greater. "If you're quite done polluting the sea with the remains of your partially digested comrades, I would like to speak to you about some serious matters where eavesdroppers cannot hear. Let us call it a diplomatic discussion."

Milgazia couldn't help it but to glare in what many dragons would call a very suicidal action. Thankfully, he kept his laser breath under control and did not shoot a beam of power at Zelas' face outside of his imagination. "Right, diplomacy..." Thus Milgazia, Memphis and Zelas headed off to a private cabin below deck.

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelas, Milgazia and Memphis entered a fancy looking cabin with shiny polished wood floors and soft blue walls. Unlike the deck that was disheveled due to the effects of the earlier tidal waves, the area below the deck was free of sea water and sea creatures. The furniture had been previously tossed around in a disastrous mess, but Zelas had the place organized prior to calling forth the diplomatic meeting. The cabin had a circular table in the middle with elegantly carved brown wood chairs round about with sandy colored cushions.

The three so called diplomats took their seats; with Memphis stumbling slightly until she managed to properly sit down. The elf was sitting next to her golden dragon trainer; with Milgazia sitting across the monster lord he dreaded the most. He would have not been happy had he heard Lina calling Zelas her favorite monster lord. Zelas broke the ice with a direct statement. "I understand that you are aware of the truth?"

"Yes," Milgazia ascertained. He was actually thankful he still had a clear head at this point, because he felt that he was going to need it. After the diplomatic meeting was over, then he would drink all the liquor left on the ship.

"Elaborate," Zelas prompted. "What is your interpretation?"

"Life is fueled by chaos," Milgazia stated, the words leaving a metaphorically bitter taste in his mouth, which he wouldn't have minded as literal since his tongue still tasted like golden dragon meat. "Absolute peace would make people get stuck, so to speak. In other words, life is actually linked more closely to chaos than to peace, with chaos and destruction being two entirely different concepts."

"I see, you're clueless, it figures, dragons are stupid." Zelas impatiently interrupted, earning an annoyed look from Milgazia. "For many years the concepts of good and evil have been seen as the ultimate opposing forces. Peace and war, life and death were sub-concepts that originated from those, but good and evil are not the two main opposing forces in the universe. The truth, albeit difficult to understand in its entirety, is related to motion and stillness. The struggle between opposing forces creates motion and the lack of an opposing force, regardless of which one reigns, is stillness. If the world was to become completely still, it would cease to exist. Take those two concepts and apply them to that legend about the purification of the Mother of all Things."

"The legend..." Milgazia remembered it. "It claims that long ago only the Mother of all Things existed in the Sea of Chaos. She wished to become pure and expelled a part of herself that was impure. Along with it, the worlds emerged from her. The legend claims that the worlds are a part of the Mother of all Things, tainted with the piece that she separated from herself. Thus the world has both good and bad people. But that legend... it bases itself on the concepts of good and evil as the main part of its logic. With motion and stillness it would be that the Mother of all Things separated herself from stillness?"

"Exactly, there was something that made her, let's call her Lord of Nightmares, as I'm sure we're both aware that they are truly the same being." Zelas decided, Milgazia nodded and she continued. "There was something that made the Lord of Nightmares still, constant. Who knows what happened, maybe she got bored and decided to get rid of that stillness so that she could change and evolve. From the force of that evolution, from the energy of change, the worlds came into existence. As for the Sea of Chaos, it is the final destination of all. It is chaos because we are creatures of chaos. Even the monsters who seemingly remain the same for centuries, know many changes every day, with each choice we take seeking power, seeking change. Of course, you can't go around telling people that there are other concepts above good and evil and expect them to take it well. I get the impression that the golden dragons are not generally informed, which makes me wonder why you know."

"There have been prophecies about this among the golden dragons, but they were ambiguous and were misinterpreted. As a result, the golden dragon race wishes to help the being known as the Green Alchemist," Milgazia revealed. He knew he was saying a lot, but given the consequences that such mistaken actions could have, it was necessary to reveal the full extent of his current knowledge on the subject. "The golden dragons are trying to help people live through the crisis that assaults the planet. The Green Alchemist wishes to exterminate monsters and the dragons want to use that advantage, to later take out both sides when they're weak."

"The Green Alchemist also wants to destroy the dragon race," Zelas pointed out. It all fits when you think about it. If the monsters and the dragons were gone, the rest of the living creatures of the world would be easy to get rid of, if the famine and harsh environmental changes don't cause them to go into extinction even before the monsters and the dragons. That Green Alchemist, the one who pretends to be Gaia, that entity is part of that stillness that the Lord of Nightmares threw away. It was fused with the remains of the one originally known as the Green Alchemist, its intentions twisted, but still present."

"That means the mission of the monster race was misinterpreted. What they really do is keep up the battles, keep the world in motion," Milgazia mused.

"I can say the same for you, but perhaps that mission had to be interpreted that way for monsters to fight with all their strength and force dragons, humans, elves, beastmen and all other creatures to find ways to live through it. It is like the phenomenon of the barrier in comparison to the outside world. The land within the barrier is richer and more powerful than the relatively peaceful outer world. Of course, the barrier is gone now, but the advantage is obvious." Zelas observed, once again addressing her previously stated curiosity. "What was it that made you interpret the prophecies differently from the other dragons?"

"Dreams," Milgazia admitted. "I've been having recurring dreams that I only recently managed to even begin piecing together. So far it seems to fit with what you said." The guilt of an unwilling cannibal had been forgotten, as Milgazia went to full on diplomat mode. "May I inquire about the source of your knowledge on the subject?"

"The Lord of Nightmares," Zelas proudly replied. Milgazia's look of surprised disbelief obviously requested more information. "It was a dream too, but I'm certain it came from the Lord of Nightmares. I have many spies and information gatherers, who erase the information after it has been properly recorded. It is really not surprising that I would figure this out before you, given my vast resources. This being, the stillness, long lost legends refer to it as the Lord of Lamentation, the Void, the End and many other such names. Just as the Lord of Nightmares is also referred to in certain legends as the Lord of Dreams and the Lord of Chaos, additionally to the Mother of All Things."

"Both a dragon and a monster had the dreams, interesting." Milgazia mused aloud, searching for a hint of a reaction.

Zelas ignored the comment and continued. "According to my research, the Stillness has been around since the beginning of the worlds, as stated by the recently discussed legend. The Lord of Nightmares has existed in a semi-dormant state with a projection that in rare occasions interacted with the worlds, while the rest of her consciousness remained dreaming. That dormant state generated a sort of protective shield around the worlds and the Stillness, or a portion of it, was unable to pass. When Lina Inverse used the power of the Lord of Nightmares against Fibrizo, the Lord of Nightmares was awakened long enough for the Stillness to enter our world. It fused with the remains of the Green Alchemist and stayed hidden underground, building up power."

"It sounds as if the Lord of Nightmares is telling us that the Stillness," Lamentation, Void or End as it was also called, "is the enemy. That we should do something about it," Milgazia went on, a little more directly.

"Agreed, however, I have no intentions of joining forces," Zelas emphasized. "I'm only sharing this information for you to become my researcher. This hint might lead you to discovering something. You don't need to tell me, I will find out." She grinned confidently with a cunning look in her eyes.

Milgazia looked displeased, "your spies are everywhere, aren't they? May I inquire about Xellos?"

"You may not," Zelas firmly voiced.

Milgazia asked anyway, "his human state was no accident. You're preparing him for something. What is it?"

Zelas' features evolved from a nasty glare to a squinty eyed grin similar to Xellos', which hinted that the serious discussion was over and there would be no more free information. "If you ask unnecessary questions you will only receive unnecessary answers."

"Perhaps this is related to how monsters are purely astral beings," Milgazia theorized. "Will Xellos be needing a physical body for some reason?"

Zelas clapped her hands together, her overly cheerful look still in place. "For his honeymoon, obviously, it might make things more interesting. Although I'm pretty sure he's gotten plenty of practice already, I suppose there are subjects that always merit additional study."

Milgazia soon found himself regretting his insistence. Zelas' warning had been true, that was a very unnecessary answer. "Never mind, I take it this means that the diplomatic discussions are over."

"Exactly, so you can go back to the party and enjoy a lovely night of cannibalism." Zelas grinned cheerfully, then faded away into the astral side.

Milgazia glared at the empty air where Zelas had been, grumbling something about insufferable monster lords, before waking Memphis. The elf had rested her head on her arms on the table early on the discussion and fallen asleep, missing the majority of the diplomatic debate. At least she didn't say anything embarrassing and that much Milgazia could be thankful for.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 106: Cycle! Worse Comes To Worst

"A girl who has justice on her side..." Amelia's voice was carried all over the deck of the party cruise, with the use of a cute little wand that amplified sound waves.

Blocking out the annoying song, Zelas looked at Celo as if silently telling him to follow her. He did, swiftly excusing himself politely from his previous conversation, and following his master below deck. Once they were away from prying eyes and ears, Zelas voiced a simple, yet meaningful request, "report."

Celo's relaxed expression turned serious as he went over the most important aspects that he had to inform. "The research team has reported that there were indeed magical traces in the area where Onyx recovered her elf form. Thankfully, the underground structures were magically enforced so, despite suffering considerable damage due to the recent earthquake, the cave-ins were not sufficient to halt the studies. It seems there was something sealed in her, possibly the reason why her power was so great when she was initially an elf. A seal was placed on her that turned her human and locked that something even deeper, unable to manifest its power."

Celo continued, "the thing sealed in her must have been very powerful to leave such a clear energy signature behind in the astral space near that area. The theory about the power being drained to make Onyx recover her elf form was mistaken. She recovered because the seal that made her human was broken, not only that, but also the seal that held that power inside her was also broken. We have concluded that the spell that the Lord of Nightmares placed in her was actually magic to weaken those seals. When Onyx found herself close to death, the reaction sped up the process of breaking the seals. She is a normal elf now; the thing that was previously sealed in her since birth is gone."

"That thing is..." Zelas questioned, pointing out with her inquiring expression that she did not like the fact that the vital piece of information was still missing.

"My apologies, lord Beast Master," Celo lowered his head apologetically. "We do not know what it was, though it was similar yet opposite to the energy of the Lord of Nightmares, perhaps related to the Stillness, possibly the Void."

"Ah yes, the prophecy written by that dragon," Zelas recalled. A dragon had been on a journey some distance away from Milgazia's main group. That dragon was being tracked by monsters without his knowledge. He received a vision that he wrote on a scroll, but that scroll was never seen by the other dragons. Its author soon became a victim to the monsters and later the main ingredient of Zelas' delectable dragon cuisine. "The prophecy theorized that the Lord of Lamentation, the Void and the End aside from being alternate names for the Stillness that the Lord of Nightmares rejected, are also the names of the three pieces that the Stillness was broken into. The dragon saw them as entities similar to Darkstar, which was a mistaken interpretation. I'm under the impression that the one that is known as the Green Alchemist is the Lord of Lamentation. That being uses trickery manipulating people and their weaknesses, their lamentations."

"Yes," Celo agreed with the theory. "If Onyx's emotionally toned down personality, where she only reacts to extreme situations or particular subjects, is any indication, she was being affected by what was sealed in her, the Void. If our theories are correct, Lamentation is representative of mourning, as opposed to determination. It is to accept things as they come without putting up a fight; it is inaction, a true part of Stillness, the physical part of not doing anything."

"Most likely," Zelas agreed. "The Void would then be the mental part of Stillness, it is the second phase. After action is not taken, the next step of still indifference would be to stop thinking about things. If Lamentation weakens the body with famines and physical harm, then the Void would weaken the mind with apathy and indifference. The last part is the End, the reaper, when the body takes no action and the mind has no thoughts, there is nothing, that being has ceased to exist. Humans are fragile, but if the lowly creatures become extinct, it will be us monsters who will suffer the famine next and become trapped in the same cycle that extinguished human life. I have already decided that I stand for chaos. This world will suffer at my hand for all eternity if it's up to me. I cannot grant it the mercy of dying to become something else, very much less let it die forever."

Celo chuckled with infinite pride and admiration for his master's determination. "Talk about being cruel to be kind."

Zelas laughed at the irony of opposing concepts and how they needed each other to exist. "Without a little bit of kindness, no one would be able to appreciate cruelty. The more comfortable a life style is, the more tragic it would be to break it and the more delicious. Perhaps the Lord of Nightmares isn't simply telling us to stop this, maybe she's asking, are you worthy of existing? Can you defeat what I defeated within myself?"

"The answer should be obvious," Celo smiled with admiration. "The great Beast Master shall be victorious."

With a very wolf like expression, Zelas assured, "at any cost. Be sure to stay alert for the manifestation of the Void, it has been released and will probably not remain quiet for long."

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, on top of the cruise's deck, a pure white dove landed on the railing next to Milgazia and Memphis. The bird was not a monster, as convenient as monster birds could be as couriers; golden dragons preferred not to resort to such tactics and just used normal messenger birds. Milgazia examined the message carried by the dove with growing dread that not even the gallons of alcohol that he had recently consumed could alleviate.

"The lands previously affected by the famine have slowly become unresponsive to recovery treatments." Milgazia grimly informed Memphis, who seemed rather out of it still. "Furthermore, there are other lands that are being affected by famines and the supplies of the golden dragons are running out as well as the supplies from the countries that were trying to help. People are losing hope..."

"Hmm..." Memphis looked at Milgazia, her eyes almost focused, almost. Then she looked back at the sea and let out a tired dazed breath with no further reaction to a situation that would certainly produce a much stronger reaction had she been in her full senses. She would be pissed off the next morning when she had a killer hangover, though she might at least find consolation in thinking that the event involving the dragon cuisine was all a bad dream.

Milgazia knew that the plan the golden dragons had come up with would fail. He couldn't simply say that this was a common enemy of the monsters and dragons and suggest joining forces. Zelas didn't want to join forces and though Milgazia could see the bigger picture beyond all prideful stubbornness, he wasn't fond of the idea either. Besides, he had only spoken about the truth with Zelas, not the other monster lords, whom he suspected were in the dark. Suddenly, their presence at the party made a little more sense.

Dynast and Dolphin were unsure about what was going on and wanted information from Zelas. That's why they were behaving in her party; information was what fueled their truce. Zelas would probably give them a believable lie to get them out of the way. It would be another story of a deranged human turned chimera, who tapped into more power than he could handle and tried to take over the world. They would probably believe it too; it seemed essentially less controversial then the truth.

xoxox xox xoxox

"It's time to cut the cake!" Tiffany happily announced as several very large chocolate cakes were brought over from the astral side.

"Cake!" Lina and Gourry blissfully exclaimed in a happy chorus of gluttony. They were first in line, hoping to each claim a cake to themselves.

While most of the guests were distracted by the sight of the delicious cakes, Naga got a hold of the magically enhanced sound amplifying wand. Martina and Sirene stood left and right of her as the three took in deep breaths and let their laughter of doom echo. The guests, even the monsters, dropped to the floor of the deck holding their hands over their ears in agony. Coincidentally, another earthquake took place, rocking the ship violently. Most actually didn't mind, since it made the horrible laughter stop, causing several people to contemplate that drowning was probably much more pleasant than listening to that infernal laughter again triple and amplified.

The cruise was assaulted by another onslaught of continuous tidal waves, which this time succeeded in making the large luxurious vessel capsize. Screams of panic echoed from the non-monsters as the monsters took refuge by retreating to the astral side. Thankfully, there were enough skilled magic users around to cast a sufficient force of levitation spells to get everyone to safety. Unfortunately, the cakes, which had already been ruined by the tidal waves, were lost at sea.

"The cakes!" Lina Inverse agonized as she joined the survivors on the shore of the disaster zone that was Amor Resort. "Everything was going so well, we had such a wonderful meal. A delicious meal of the most amazing steaks I've ever tasted deserves the perfect dessert!"

"Steaks?" Filia questioned, her face twisting in anger. "You ate that meat too?"

"Yup, we all did," Gourry happily and truthfully replied, not knowing what he was getting into. "Zelas is an amazing cook!"

"That was dragon cuisine!" Filia shouted in angry indignation.

"Cuisine from your home land?" Amelia innocently inquired, hoping and wishing that was the answer.

"No," Filia seriously confessed, her face set in displeasure. "It was dragon meat, golden dragon meat. It was Milgazia's friend."

Amelia felt the guilt rising in her. "I'm so sorry. We didn't know." Zelgadis joined the condolences in hopes of calming Filia's rage.

Lina on the other hand, was walking over to Milgazia, eyeing him suspiciously. He noticed the red haired human looking at him up and down with a foreboding sensation that told him she was not motivated by admiration. "Is something wrong?" He was almost afraid to ask.

"You look delicious," Lina grinned in a wolfish way that reminded Milgazia of Zelas, and he really didn't want to be reminded of her.

Milgazia backed away at the same time that Galathia arrived out of the astral side, just in time to catch Lina's remark. "Milgazia is a total hottie, isn't he? It's a pity he doesn't show as much skin as Phythan. If a young one like Phythan is that hot, I wonder how hot a dragon in his prime could be..."

Zelas joined the conversation, fading out of the astral side as well. "He's not hot yet, but he might be hot soon, in my oven." She licked her lips in an odd mix between hungry, seductive, wild and predatory. Being around golden dragons that transformed right in front of her made her hungry for something meatier than misery.

"Aw, but he's too handsome to eat!" Galathia complained.

Turning her own argument from earlier against her, Zelas replied by pointing out, "gluttony is a sin too."

Milgazia shuddered and backed away. Honestly, he had more than enough of crazy women who wanted to do inappropriate things to him, culinary or otherwise. Memphis would have said something about the improper comments, but she was too out of it to really notice. She would certainly be cursing alcohol in the morning.

While people theorized about if whether or not the earthquake was caused by the massive destructive sound waves of the combined laughter of doom, it started to sink in that the party was over, mostly because the party's location had already sunk. Thus the guests, who were stranded at the resort island until ships could come pick them up to take them to their homes, gave the newly weds their last round of congratulations and went to find places to camp out among the rubble of the destroyed buildings.

xoxox xox xoxox

As she sat around one of the many campfires in the shattered remains of the once splendorous Amor Resort, Filia thought of many things. She had overheard people talking about their homes and how they wished the seismic activities were not too bad there. Courier monster birds were sent to gather news of the state of other lands and to request transportation off the island. Albeit earthquakes had been felt in other lands, they were not as bad as the violent shaking that assaulted the Amor Resort island. It was almost as if the island was being purposely targeted. As if someone wanted to pick a fight, or maybe show off power. It all had to be related to the same enemy.

Reports of the land becoming dried up and infertile were becoming more frequent. When the news reached Philionel and he shared it via Jarde, Lina was very upset thinking that the promised triple banquet at Seyruun would have to be postponed again. She threw a big hissy fit about how it made the wasted cakes even more tragic. The gluttonous redhead spent the rest of the night eyeing Milgazia hungrily along with Gourry, who had taken to doing the same. Poor Milgazia didn't get a single second of sleep, not that he would dare to risk it.

It all made Filia think that the strange tree-like magical chimera device that Narcissus had under his mansion was not the only one. Who knew how many of those there were? It would be very hard to find them all, even harder to stop them and more so to stop them on time, as the land's condition was worsening fast. The lands in other continents across the sea were not holding up any better and couldn't really afford to send much help. Even the emergency supplies of Seyruun and of the golden dragons were running out. Something had to be done or the world was doomed, plus once Milgazia went home, Filia would probably be next on Lina's menu.

Filia was at least thankful to have been able to find a blanket, to avoid freezing in her showy dress. It was a tiny detail, but it would be that much worse to deal with deadly stress and the cold all at once. The temperatures were rapidly dropping as the winter settled in, cutting the autumn short. Filia held little Val in her arms, keeping him as warm as she could as he slept.

Xellos was sleeping next to her, both of them leaning on Fang, who was now in his fox form, playing the part of a warm and fuzzy giant black pillow. Xellos was going to have a killer hangover in the morning and would probably complain about his honey moon being ruined, but that would be the least of their worries with the current happenings of the world. The end of the world was imminent and something had to be done to stop it.

xoxox xox xoxox

Eventually, ships did brave the irritated ocean to pick up passengers and transport them to and from Amor Resort. Celo and Tiffany would remain behind to keep an eye on the rebuilding process. Zangulus and Martina, who had plenty of rebuilding experience from the work in progress that was the Kingdom of Zoana, were given high positions overseeing the process. Kally, Kalio, Medusa and Sylphiel were assigned to help with the process as well. Sylphiel surprised everyone with her architectural talent, designing the blueprints of the new and improved resort. Pokota, Wizer and all the other guests returned home. As for Onyx, Phythan and Fang, they were sent on a journey to travel the world and report their findings to Beast Master; a monster lord could never have enough spies.

Despite the resort being in shambles, after some further consideration, it was opened to the public, advertising a new theme: 'Love at the World's End.' Apparently the tourists thought it was romantic to pretend the world was ending, assuring that even if it did their love wouldn't end. Couples claimed that this was a lovely idea that would bring them together without the distraction of worldly things such as rides and souvenir shops. Many were even tricked into performing free labor, because constructing something together was such a wonderful bonding experience. Of course, they only thought the end of the world was romantic because it was play pretend. If they knew that the end of the world was actually happening, a gigantic world wide panic would ensue.

After many goodbyes and well wishes, Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis joined Philionel on his journey back to Seyruun. Naga went back to roaming the world, while Gravos and Jillas returned to the Maces and Vases shop. Naturally, Elena and Palou also went. Filia wanted to check on her shop thus she, Xellos and Val also returned to town. She intended to catch up to Phil's group later and look into the happenings of Seyruun. Apparently, the prince was being requested to return in a hurry, despite the kingdom not being significantly damaged by the relatively gentle earthquakes that were felt in that area. The problem was that the citizens had become terribly unmotivated and a massive depression was overtaking the whole kingdom, rendering it unable to function.

Filia wanted to do something to help, but she didn't want to place Val in such a depressing setting, thus she knew it was best for him to stay in her town with Jillas and Gravos, assuming that her home there was still standing. When they did arrive in town, they found that the damage wasn't as bad as they feared. There were cracks all over the walls of Filia's shop, as well as every other structure in town, including Elena's house. Many of the vases were thrown to the floor and broken, though no more than the amount Filia had thrown at Xellos' face when he visited her one day some time before he was cursed and his life was turned upside-down.

After the damage report was done, Filia gave her farewells, hugging little Val and telling him to be good. Xellos being Xellos, advised Val to keep things lively by getting into mischief. Thus with their son in the care of his trusted uncles, Filia and Xellos headed off to Seyruun to see just how bad the situation there was.

xoxox xox xoxox

After a relatively uneventful journey with only a few minor earthquakes here and there, Filia and Xellos arrived at Seyruun. The city had an aura of depression around it. It was so strong that one did not need to be an empath to perceive it. Even so, the strangest thing was that it was decorated with bright festive colors, though the zombie-faced, barely alive, people on the streets didn't seem to notice or care. Maybe the decorations were all part of Amelia's efforts to cheer people up, though it didn't appear to be working very well.

Xellos was thankfully long since over his horrible hangover, with its constant nauseous feeling and awful headache finally gone. He passed the time as he and Filia walked to Seyruun castle by throwing around hints about how she still owed him a honey moon, which Filia, with a rosy face, promised she'd give him when they had some time to relax. For the time being however, they would be far too busy getting caught up in Amelia's latest scheme...

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 107: Celebrations! Holiday Cheer

Upon their arrival at Seyruun castle, Xellos and Filia were greeted by an orchestra that seemed to be composed of the royal guards. They were skilled in swords and magic, some even in both, but few were actually skilled in music. The fact that they were attempting to play a seemingly cheerful song, judging by the reoccurrence of the phrase 'life is wonderful' in its lyrics, in such a terribly gloomy tone, made it all the more depressing. "Make them stop before I Dragon Slave them!" Xellos shouted in agony.

Noticing the arrival of her friends, Amelia rushed over wearing a festive colorful dress, with more colors on it than a rainbow. "This is no time to go back to your monster ways, Mr. Xellos. You should just give into the human optimism and admit that life is wonderful!"

"Who could be optimistic with all this noise?" Xellos argued, holding his hands over his ears, a motion that was mimicked by Filia.

Amelia waved her hand at the rehearsing orchestra in a merciful signal for them to stop. "Take a five minute break everyone, then continue rehearsing out in the garden. Maybe the warm and friendly rays of the cheerful sun will make you feel better!" Dragging their feet and their instruments, the members of the improvised orchestra of doom walked off.

After taking a moment to bask in the blissful silence, Filia inquired. "What in the world is going on?"

"It seems a terrible depression has overtaken the kingdom," Amelia's face was full of cheerful determination as she spoke. "We can't allow our spirits to fall. We must be strong as the world faces its trials and remember that justice will always triumph! To cheer up the people of Seyruun I have made an official decree that was approved by my father. What better way to spread joy then with holidays? The plan is to celebrate a couple of major holidays one after another to fill people with wonderful cheer! First up is Valentine's Day, then Easter. That way people will find friends and even love to share the next upcoming holidays with. We hope to get through many celebrations before Thanksgiving, which is the only one that will fall on its usual date."

Amelia's explanation left Xellos and Filia staring at her in surprise. Holidays were enjoyable indeed but they were also busy and hectic. Leave it to Amelia and only Amelia to so bravely face them one after another with her infinite supply of positive energy. "You are the bane of any monster's existence," Xellos half criticized and half acknowledged her 'power'.

Since Amelia was in such a positive mood, she took his words as a compliment and smiled in cheerful gratitude, "thank you. Everyone else is helping with the festivities, I hope you will too."

"Amelia!" Lina Inverse, sorceress extraordinaire, famed dragon spooker and bandit killer, entered the main reception hall of Seyruun castle in a most comical outfit. Her costume was shaped as a red heart, encompassing her petite body with her arms, legs and head sticking out of the red fabric. "Where's the chocolate to go with my costume? I'm a box of Valentine chocolates, aren't I?"

"Oh no Miss Lina, you're not a heart shaped box, you are the metaphorical representation of love!" Amelia cheered.

Xellos and Filia stared at Lina while she grumbled about how she would much rather be a box of chocolates with lots of chocolates inside, meaning inside her stomach. Before her hungry hissy fit was even half way done, Xellos and Filia burst out in a fit of laughter. Lina was not happy about it, she was already disappointed by the lack of chocolates and her patience was all dried up. "Who are you laughing at?" She roared dangerously, "darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."

"No, Miss Lina!" Amelia exclaimed. "Love is gentle! Mr. Gourry, please calm Miss Lina!"

Gourry ran over in an arrow costume. The tube-like clothing encompassed his torso with an upside down heart shaped arrow point on his hat to complete the arrow look. "Um... Lina?"

"Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows," Lina continued chanting her destructive spell.

"I don't think she's going to listen to me..." Gourry frowned.

"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands..." Lina dangerously progressed.

"Amelia..." Zelgadis, who was dressed as the sun, joined them. His costume was similar to Lina's, but it was round and yellow with orange triangles all around it to represent the sun's rays. The chimera was trying to make an effort not to acknowledge how silly he looked as he approached Amelia with a small pink heart shaped box. "This is for you..." He shyly handed it to her.

"Aw, thank you!" Amelia accepted the gift and rewarded Zelgadis with a kiss. After they parted, she looked at her hands, which were now mysteriously empty. "Huh?" She was holding the pink heart shaped box Zelgadis gave her a second ago and now it was mysteriously gone. Her eyes traveled to Lina, who was hungrily opening the box.

"Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!" The gluttonous redhead had at least been distracted into stopping her spell, but she was very disappointed. The box was not filled with chocolates; instead it had some kind of headbands inside. "This isn't edible!"

"It's mine!" Amelia protectively snatched away the gift.

"Valentine chocolates are out of season in most places, and there's the famine going on, so treats like that are hard to find." Zelgadis apologetically explained.

Amelia didn't really mind, she was beaming with happiness at the gift she got. "These are genuine replicas of the headbands of justice Fluffy and Ice-cream wear in the comics!" There was a pink one and a blue one, both with golden stripes that came at an angle from the purple J in the middle, as if the J of justice shone like the sun. "They're beautiful!" Of course Amelia wanted to wear the Fluffy headband replica immediately and Zelgadis guessed that she would want him to join her by wearing the Ice-cream head band. She happily fastened the pink headband around her head, seeming to gain even more energy from the action. Then, quoting her favorite issue of the comics she had been recently getting into more and more, despite them having been around for a while, she extended her hand holding the blue head band. "Join me in another crusade of justice, my eternal adventuring partner!"

Zelgadis saw this coming from a mile away and was ready to play along, wearing the blue and gold justice headband that couldn't make him look any sillier than his sun costume already did.

xoxox xox xoxox

After hearing some knocking on his door, Milgazia opened the entrance to the cabin where he resided in the mountains. The water clan often remained in their dragon forms and slept out in the open, but they had a village to keep their possessions and rest when they felt the need to sleep on a bed. After all the happenings during his excursion to Amor Resort, Milgazia definitely felt like resting his aching head on a nice soft pillow.

Opening the door revealed the arrival of someone dressed in green holding a clipboard and pen. The young man, looked like he was an experience traveler, thus he was able to overtake the journey to the mountains. He had a horse with him, the brown animal standing not too far away from its master. The mare was occupied in carrying many packages and by the looks of it had not been able to carry the man too. "Mr. Milgazia?" The blond young man inquired.

"Yes," Milgazia confirmed, curious as to who could be writing to him. If it was another dragon, he would expect the message to be brought by a courier dove and not a delivery boy.

"Please sign here," the man handed the clipboard and pen to Milgazia. Being the cautious dragon he was, Milgazia read the document before signing it. There was nothing suspicious about it. It only ascertained that a package was delivered and handed to its owner. Milgazia was about to return the clipboard, but the man was already busy guiding his horse closer to the entrance of Milgazia's mountain cabin. "You need to sign the others too, all the papers on that clipboard." The man spoke in a quiet voice, his blue eyes focused and perceptive, yet also pure.

Surprised at how many packages were being delivered to him, Milgazia went over each document, reading the same lines quickly, but accurately. By the time he was done providing all his required signatures, the man wearing green had already relieved his horse of her burdens and set the packages in a pile next to Milgazia. He accepted the clipboard with a nod and placed it on the bag attached to the horse side, then went on his way, walking next to her rather than riding, to give her a break from supporting extra weight. "Wait, who are these deliveries from?" Milgazia called after the young man. At a closer glance at his ears he noticed their long elf-like shape.

"They are all from different girls," the young man revealed. He had a look of understanding in his eyes, as if he could relate to Milgazia's situation, even before Milgazia himself knew what that situation was.

"I see..." Confused with this information, Milgazia politely thanked the young man for the delivery and turned his attention to curiously examine the mountain of packages. He took them all inside the cabin and set them on the table, preparing to open them one by one and hopefully understand what this was about.

The mountain cabin had a simple yet elegant decor with carved wooden furniture complimented with fluffy cushions. Shades of brown, gold and white predominated, giving the place a gentle and warm atmosphere. A fireplace contained a small flame. The chill of the winter had arrived early all across the land and the weather up in the mountains was especially cold. Milgazia's resistance to it was reduced in his elf form, but there was something especially comfortable about drinking tea wrapped in a warm blanket in front of the fire when it was cold outside.

A framed color drawing of medium size hung on the wall, depicting a skilled artistic impression of a slightly younger Milgazia standing next to a human woman who carried a special sword. The painting was reinforced with magic so as to not loose its rich colors with the passing of the many years. The lady warrior's smiling face, pretty cheerful features and long flowing hair were still captured perfectly in the canvas. The author was a young human girl of exceptional artistic skill by the name of Relm. She was no longer among the living, as it had been far too long since the time when she painted that picture.

The world was certainly an ever changing place and that was why it continued to exist. For a fleeting moment, Milgazia wondered what it would have been like if he had interpreted his feelings for that human lady as something other than a deep friendship and admiration. He pushed the thoughts away without bitterness. He shared some good times traveling with her and those were precious memories that he would forever treasure. As for her, she eventually retired from her travels and settled down with a human man. Her descendant was alive and well, keeping up the family tradition of practicing with the sword and traveling across the land.

Milgazia had never thought of mentioning he had known his ancestor and simply let things be the way they were, but he knew it had to be him, Gourry Gabriev. That time when Lina, Xellos and the others came seeking the Claire Bible, it was Gourry who dispelled the tension between the group with his comment on how young Xellos looked despite being over a thousand years old. Milgazia had commented on what a strange group they were and felt assured that there was nothing to fear even though Beast Master's general was there. It was that same optimistic feeling that she had around her. Though Gourry seemed more naive, they both had the same kind heroic heart. Remembering her made Milgazia think of their travels together and about how she would always be ready to courageously face any challenge with determination and optimism.

Milgazia discovered a box of chocolates within one of the packages he received. He opened up the pink card with red hearts all over that was attached to it and curiously read the message inside. "Dear Mr. Dragon, I want to be your damsel in distress, please steal me away. With love, Momoka." He blinked, doing a double take on the card. Some humans had a very peculiar view of dragons as being prone to kidnapping young ladies, especially princesses, but this was the first time a lady asked him to steal her away.

Setting the card aside, Milgazia examined another of the packages and found a chocolate cake. The card accompanying the gift was red, with the word love written on its cover with pink glitters. He opened it and read. "Hi sexy dragon! Take me to your lair and devour me, rawr! I'll be waiting for you, Laiki" Setting that card aside too, Milgazia examined one package after another finding chocolates, cakes, cookies, candy and all sorts of chocolaty and sugary treats. All of them were Valentine themed, even though February was a good way away, as it was still early November.

The cards' messages were varied, yet they all had the same flirty theme to them. Some were sweet, others were funny and others were so direct, lustful and graphic that they made Milgazia's face turn red. Where did these girls get off sending him all those flirtatious messages when he was sure he had never even met them? The next message he checked was from someone he had met before, not that the detail was comforting at all. The envelope attached to the gift held a lengthy high rated letter from Galathia detailing all the activities she was willing to partake in with him. Needless to say, Milgazia was most certainly not willing to do anything of the sort.

Then finally the answer to the mystery of the Valentine gifts flood came along with yet another gift. The box contained an assortment of beautifully decorated chocolate cupcakes that seemed to stand out from the others because of their perfect shape, extra alluring chocolaty scent and gorgeous shiny frosting decorations. They were also set apart from the other gifts because there were no hearts among the sugary depictions on them. There were pretty stars, dots, lines and even a detailed picture of a frosting wolf, but nothing particularly mushy. The card was shaped in the silhouette of a winged wolf; it was black with red ink, scented in an exquisite perfume with a hint of something else as if an elegant queen just came home from a bloody assassination.

Upon closer inspection, Milgazia realized that the ink was not really ink. It was blood, dragon blood to be specific, golden dragon blood. "Dear Mr. Cannibal, I wish to thank you for your contribution to the 'Stupid Dragon Fangirl' project. All the funds gathered by the delivery service of gifts from the eligible, though very idiotic, bachelorettes will be put towards the restoration of Amor Resort. Please accept these delicious treats as a symbol of my gratitude. With appreciation (in a purely culinary sense), Beast Master Zelas Metallium. PS: Put some meat on your bones, I'm looking forward to having you for the dinner of ingratitude!"

Ah yes, the dinner of ingratitude, it was a monster celebration that took place on the same day as Thanksgiving. However, instead of giving thanks and being grateful, the monsters would gather together to pig out, whine and complain about all the things they wanted that they did not have. It was a bit late to get started on most dragon cuisine dishes, but if this was a monster only party, then Zelas wouldn't have to worry about completely de-poisoning the dragon meat, since the poisonous properties wouldn't really affect the monsters anyway.

Milgazia was very tempted to rip the card apart, but he remembered that Zelas mentioned she would be spying on him. He would not dignify her with a hissy fit, he was above such behavior. Thus forcing himself to appear to be cool calm and collected, he set the card aside with the others in a pile of annoying correspondence. He hated being used in Zelas' schemes, but knew there was little he could do about it. He wasn't surprised that she managed to get her hands on so much food to sell though; Lady Metallium did have many connections in the business world.

At least Milgazia could share the chocolates with his clan; he just wouldn't tell them where they came from. Besides, poisoning really wasn't Zelas' style, more so if she wanted his meat to stay fresh and healthy for whatever recipe she had in mind for him. He picked up a cupcake and ate it, at least the rich chocolaty taste could help somewhat reduce his stress. The taste was outstanding, though something about the center of the cupcake was off. It wasn't a creamy center, it was more like... meat, dragon meat, golden dragon meat.

Milgazia examined the center of the cupcake and realized that apparently Zelas had some left over dragon cuisine after all. His face started to gain a slightly green tint and he felt his stomach turn, but he refused to get sick and make a mad dash to the bathroom to spit out what he just ate. Oh no, he would be cool, calm, collected and dignified. He had to show that he wasn't going to allow himself to be tortured. He didn't eat another cupcake though; he didn't want to be even more of a cannibal again.

It was kind of annoying that the meat filling aside, the cupcake itself was so good when it was made by someone so evil. Whoever said food tasted better when cooked with love was a big fat liar. Speaking of fat, though Milgazia certainly wasn't, the thought of a monster lord wanting to cook him made him want to start an intense exercise regimen. Maybe if he lost some weight, Beast Master would leave him alone.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Seyruun castle, everyone was practicing their assigned roles. "I'm the sun, I'm cheerful and happy," Zelgadis' tone didn't match his lines at all.

"I'm a rainbow of bright colorful joy!" Amelia cheered, with enough bliss to make up for the others' collective lack of enthusiasm.

"G-go C-cu-ppid Aa-rrr-ow..." Xellos shivered in the cold.

"The cupid's bow shoots the arrow to the heart!" Filia was dressed as a giant bow, with her tail housed inside the lower curve of the bow and her limbs sticking out much like with Gourry's arrow costume. She tried to play along, but she was more distracted than enthusiastic.

"Here I go, full of love!" Gourry was totally into his role, though certainly not as much as Amelia, he came in a close second. He picked up love, which was Lina's role, and ran forward, then placed her on her feet.

"I'm the love that blossom's in everyone's hearts!" Her stomach growled. "Arg! I can't act on an empty stomach!"

"It's too cold for this," Filia argued. "Xellos is turning into an icicle!"

"No-not aat all... I'm ff-fi-ne..." Leave it to Xellos to pretend he was strong when he was obviously freezing. He was the cupid, thus his costume consisted of a short white cloth tied a little below the waist, covering only what vitally needed to be covered and little fake angel wings on his back, which took a while to convince him to put on.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 108: Memories! Regretful Nostalgia

"Cheer up everyone!" Amelia declared at the top of her lungs. "We need to finish getting into character and practice our song and dance so we could put on a show at the public plaza!"

"What?" Filia snapped. "Are you really expecting us to do all this in public, in song form?" Wearing a ridiculous costume in front of her friends was one thing, they were all like family. But Filia did not approve of her husband prancing around in a tiny white cloth outside in the freezing cold of an unusually early winter that felt like mid winter. He would get pneumonia, or be assaulted by insane obsessive fan girls, or both!

"We have to; we're the opening act for the fashion show!" Amelia continued trying to talk her unwilling band of actors into acting. "Naga joined in helping with the situation. She convinced Miss Marty to bring her fashion show to Seyruun. Since Amor Resort is so deeply involved in the copyright I had to ask Miss Tiffany to help us with that. In the end it was all arranged and the fashion show will take place this evening at the plaza for the whole kingdom to see!"

Lina let out a tired breath, "I really don't think Marty's designs are winter functional."

Before any counter arguments could be produced, a familiar loud laugh invaded the castle. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga approached in her usual attire, laughing constantly.

"Are you alright, sister?" Amelia wondered with concern, Naga was laughing much more than usual, it went on none stop.

"Of course, I'm just fine. I just need to keep laughing to stay warm!" Naga proudly declared, with another bout of obnoxious laughter. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"

"Or you could just wear a coat," Zelgadis usefully suggested, his advice falling on metaphorically deaf ears. Albeit very soon the whole kingdom would be left deaf for real if Naga wasn't stopped.

Fortunately, Amelia had a secret weapon for just such an emergency occasion. "Sister, please cosplay as the rainbow with me! Let's wear pretty matching dresses, please!" Her eyes were shiny and looked larger than before, as Amelia used her little sister charm.

"Aw!" Naga patted her younger sibling on the head. "Alright, I'll cosplay with you. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" With Naga in a matching dress like Amelia's she would no longer be cold. Thus she would not have the constant need to warm up by laughing.

xoxox xox xoxox

Unfortunately for those who were looking forward to a genuine Marty fashion show, the designer caught a bad cold and was no longer in any conditions to direct it. The show had to go on though, thus Naga was assigned the task of directing, which, if anything, made things much worse. She paced around Amelia's crew of Valentine cheer in her rainbow dress that matched her sister's. Additionally, the models from Marty's show that didn't catch colds because of her winter dysfunctional designs had joined them, though the additions were only two, Phythan and Fang. "Now all together, take a deep breath and... Ah! ha ha ho ha ha!"

"I've had enough of this!" Lina yelled at the top of her lungs.

Naga ignored her and shook her head. "You three," she pointed at Fang, Phythan and Xellos. Xellos, being human, was the one who was worse off. Fang was part monster, but he was a chimera and his fox part longed for its natural fur coat. As for Phythan, he wanted to transform, as his golden scales were much more resistant to the cold than his human skin. Fang and Phythan were wearing the showy outfits Marty had recommended for them, the Wild Feline Trio for Phythan and the Wild Beast Tamer for Fang. "Stop shivering!" Naga ordered. "If you would just laugh with all your heart, you would warm up in no time!"

"Do I have to blow something up just to get people to listen to me?" Lina shouted exasperated. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."

"Alright, alright!" Amelia interfered. "Maybe it is a little too cold for a fashion show like this. Maybe our hastily," and poorly, "planned shows are not working out how they should."

"O-on-ly M-ma-y-be?" Xellos snapped sarcastically, though his sarcasm just wasn't the same when he was shivering so much that he couldn't even speak properly.

"That's okay, because we can come up with something else!" Amelia cheered, trying to keep everyone's spirits high.

"Hmm..." Naga looked like she was plotting and everyone instantly started to worry. "Amelia..." She leaned over close to her younger sister's ear and whispered something to her.

Amelia's face immediately lit up, "really? Do you think we could do that?"

"I think we can manage," Naga nodded. "I'm sure Zelas has a lot of supplies in secret warehouses."

"Alright!" Amelia cheered, then paused to ask, "when did you get acquainted with Miss Zelas?"

"During the wedding party," Naga replied with admiration. "I talked her into popping over to the astral side for a moment and showing me her laugh. I must say, that roaring laughter of hers is really something. It's too bad she doesn't show it to just anyone. It would have been an honor for the other guests to hear it." Xellos was pretty surprised that a mere human listened to that and lived, but then again, Naga was certainly not an ordinary person.

"What's the new plan?" Filia inquired suspiciously. If the scheme somehow involved Zelas, that was a good reason for her to worry.

"That is a secret," Amelia chirped cheerfully. If Xellos wasn't about to fall over with hypothermia, he would have said something about his line being stolen.

xoxox xox xoxox

Several hours later, Naga, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina, Gourry, Filia, Xellos, Fang, Phythan, Onyx and Philionel were all over the city, handing out hot chocolate and chocolaty heart shaped cookies. Well, Lina and Gourry were eating most of the supplies, while the others were actually doing their job. The cookie recipe was custom made by the late queen of Seyruun. She used to bake with her daughters years ago. It filled Philionel with nostalgia and fatherly pride to see his daughters make the special cookies that the queen use to make and share them with the citizens of their fair kingdom. The prince was in fact so filled with emotion that he didn't even mind that he was now indebt to a monster lord, as the prices for the ingredients were stiff according to the situation of supply and demand.

It had been years since the citizens tasted those special cookies that the queen use to share with them. Many were filled with nostalgia and became more open to Amelia's speeches about hope, friendship and love. The fashion show didn't go through, albeit maybe that was for the best. Thus the costumes were replaced with much more comfortable and functional coats and winter clothes. Yet the atmosphere around the group was just as cheerful as Amelia wanted it to be with their brightly colored coats. Xellos' fuzzy purple coat even had a hood with adorable little weasel ears on top. He would never admit it, but he was really glad to finally be able to warm up.

At the end of the day, the Valentine celebrations were declared a success. The festivities went on for a while and it all turned out so nice that Filia had Fang go to her town to get Jillas, Gravos, Val, Elena, Palou and Fili so they could join in.

xoxox xox xoxox

A few days later, the time came for the celebration of the next holiday on the list, Easter. While the group occupied themselves painting eggs and making paper bunnies to decorate every surface, a gloomy presence watched it all, hidden in the shadows. The being scoffed, unheard from her place in the astral side. "All this cheer must be extinguished..."

Encouraged by the royal family and their friends, the citizens of Seyruun were running around all over the kingdom, searching for Easter eggs. Amelia's not so willing, merry band of cheer givers were dressed up as Easter bunnies with some being more enthusiastic than others. The city was finally starting to recover its characteristic cheer, with the streets being flooded with smiles and laughter. Fili, the wolf cub, was with Xellos, Filia and Val. One moment she was happily enjoying the festivities, following them wagging her tail and the next she was howling in alarm for no apparent reason.

The happy atmosphere was interrupted by a blast of dark energy thrown at the crowds roaming the streets. Strangely, the energy did not cause any physical damage, but many people collapsed in depressed agony. "Who did that?" Amelia, who played the role of an Easter bunny, demanded to know.

"I did," a being Amelia had not seen before was floating above the panicking crowds. Her robes were ragged like what one would picture the grim reaper wearing, but the fabric was somehow elegant. The torn material reflected a beautiful starry night sky of pure black with glittering silver points of light more majestic than diamonds as if the cloak was made from the sky itself. Her face was slightly reminiscent of Onyx, though her messy wavy hair was longer in a dark navy tone rather than black. Her eyes were a blood red tone and her pointy ears had small patches of navy fur at the ends. "Your attitude, little princess, is not appreciated by the bringers of the end. Lamentation was tainted with the remains of the Green Alchemist, but I am not a chimera, I am a pure fragment of the Stillness. Let your mind surrender to the Void!"

A beam of dark energy emerged from Void's outstretched hand, hitting Amelia square on the chest. The princess stumbled, no physical damage was evident, but her mind was a whirlwind of pain. Amelia saw herself no longer standing in the street. Instead she was running through the halls of the castle. There were screams; she pushed her legs to carry her faster, her heart beating wildly as if wanting to burst with the pain of a coming tragedy, her lungs thirsty for air as if she was breathing in fire rather than oxygen. She stopped, there was blood everywhere, there were sharp blades covered in red, her mother lay motionless as her sister tried desperately to bring her back to life with healing spells that would not work. The assassin was dead too, the cruel angry face something that could inspire nightmares.

Her sister was crying, she was crying too and she knelt next to her and placed her hands atop Gracia's on the lifeless queen's chest. The blood of their mother seeped through Gracia's fingers into Amelia's smaller hands as they both called forth every ounce of white magic they knew to no avail. Heavy footsteps were approaching, Amelia had heard them in tune with her own, but they stopped a while ago, Amelia didn't know for how long her father stood still in agony. A loud noise was heard, the prince had fallen to his knees, the royal guards in shock behind him, not knowing how to face this tragedy. Abundant tears were running down Philionel's face. He knew that his daughters' efforts were in vain; his beloved queen had already perished.

Philionel crawled to Gracia and Amelia, unable to find the strength to get on his feet. He took their delicate blood stained hands in his large trembling hands, the blood of his beloved sticking to his fingers as it was in theirs. No matter how much he washed his hands later, he would always feel her blood on his hands, because he wasn't there to protect her. He wrapped his arms around his daughters and together they mourned for a time period unknown, as even the passing of time felt as if it had stopped.

"Where was your precious justice then?" A monotonous yet cruel and haunting voice mocked, echoing in Amelia's mind. "What did taking justice into her own hands do for your sister? What did your kind mother do to deserve such a painful death? How was that just? Do you remember the expression of fear embedded in your mother's face? She could not even close her eyes as she fell to the floor lifeless and covered in blood." The images kept running through Amelia's head over and over. "She died in agony, she saw her eldest daughter running to her in a panic right before she died. She passed away thinking that her first child would surely be next. Her last second of life was spent in unbearable sorrow; she knew no closure, no peace."

"Amelia!" Zelgadis was holding Amelia, her body limp in his arms. He called her name more urgently each time until he was shouting desperately for her to respond. "What did you do to her? What did you do, monster!?"

The Void looked indifferent. "I only showed her the truth that she kept locked away deep inside. Isn't it better if you simply do not feel? Then you wouldn't feel the pain of losing her. You call me a monster, yet you are one yourself. She's the only one who could truly see past that. She was so selfless in loving a creature like you, and you couldn't even protect her. You were never good enough for her. She gave you so much and you didn't even keep her safe even if you were right there next to her. You're such an ingrate, such a cruel heartless monster!"

The others, who had been spread across the area, were running towards Amelia and Zelgadis from different directions. Philionel was the first to get close to the pair. Void looked at him with her pupil-less blood red eyes. "Her blood is in your hands," her final words were directed at both Zelgadis and Philionel. The prince stopped cold, as if a deep sorrow he kept hidden in his heart had reemerged. Naga caught up to him, shaking her father out of his sorrowful daze, then the two continued running towards Amelia and Zelgadis.

The Void faded into a shadowy black light and flew away like a wind of darkness. Filia and Xellos were running over, with Val riding on Xellos' basket of Easter chocolates, previously enjoying the treats. The Void, in her semi-transparent state, headed towards them. Filia picked up Val automatically and hugged him. In an instant, the Void passed between Filia and Xellos before fading into nothingness.

xoxox xox xoxox

Later... "Is she going to be okay? Is she going to wake up? What's wrong with her!?" Zelgadis shouted, his upset demanding voice resonating all over Amelia's room at the castle where the group was gathered. It was causing the castle head physician to back away in worry. Zelgadis hated that look of fear in his eyes; he looked at him like a monster.

"Calm down, Zel!" It was Lina who stepped forward to take hold of the situation while Gourry, Filia, Xellos, Sylphiel, Gravos, Naga and Philionel remained quiet. Jillas was with Elena, Palou and Val, trying to help the kids cheer up after the frightening event. Phythan, Onyx and Fang had left to report back to Beast Master. "Everyone will do the best they can. We're all worried about Amelia, but you need to calm down. Having a nervous break down won't make things any better."

Zelgadis moved his glaring frustrated and pained gaze away from the doctor in front of him and to the floor under his feet. His teeth were clenched, his fists tightly trembling at his sides. He must have terrified the doctor with his anger. If Lina Inverse of all people was advising self control, then he must badly be in need of it. "I know... I know... I'm sorry, I just... I just want Amelia to be okay."

With Zelgadis backing away to give him some room the doctor got to work. The physician went through a standard routine of taking the princess' vital signs, her heart rate and breathing rhythm. He examined her head and gently pried open her eyes. Her gaze was sorrowful, but otherwise presented no signs of major physical consequences. The physician took a deep breath, as he placed his instruments back into the bag. His raspy elderly voice encompassed everyone's attention instantly. "The princess has no physical wounds or abnormal conditions that I could detect. Her vital signs are all normal." No wounds meant that a Recovery spell wouldn't do anything and there was no illness for medicine to cure.

"I see," Philionel voiced. He looked at Sylphiel, who had taken a break from her architect job at the resort and come over for the festivities, only to find they had been cut terribly short. "Miss Sylphiel, could you try?"

"I'll do my best," Sylphiel stood next to Amelia's bed. "Please give me some room." Everyone stood back to allow her to concentrate. She began to chant a prayer, both Sylphiel and Amelia surrounded by a gentle glow. A long moment of suspenseful silence that felt eternal passed. "Miss Amelia shows no signs of possession, curses or similar magic based conditions. Her energy waves were disturbed though. I could call it mental exhaustion, but that's not entirely accurate. It's..." Sylphiel paused, searching for the right words.

"It's sorrow, isn't it?" Filia filled in. "That thing depresses people. She's making the citizens of Seyruun terribly sad. I felt it when she passed close to us. I saw terrible visions. Val was alright, frightened, yet otherwise unaffected, but I saw the vision meant for him in addition to mine. I saw the ancient dragons in their last moment. The attack wasn't as harsh as it was with Amelia, she must have seen something terrible."

A thick silence hung in the air for a moment longer until Naga spoke in an uncharacteristically serious tone. "Mother's death... That is what she saw. Her blood in our hands... in all our hands... We couldn't save her even if she was so kind to us. Being here brought back bitter memories, that's why I left..."

"Wow... I never knew your past was like that." To say Lina was in shock was an understatement. She always thought of Naga as a stupidly cheerful showoff who couldn't take anything seriously. She never would have imagined her journey around the world had such a tragic beginning.

Gravos quietly hugged Naga, which seemed to instantly change her back to normal. "Thanks Gravy, having your support makes me feel better. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha! My little sister is a fighter; she won't lose to sadness. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Lina wasn't sure if she should commend Gravos for getting Naga back to normal, or find a blunt object to throw at his head as punishment for the same reason.

"That's right..." Philionel agreed quietly at first, then he continued with more energy and true hope. "Amelia has the fighting spirit of justice in her heart, she will not give up. She will defeat all sorrow and continue bringing happiness to all those around her!"

"What exactly was that monster anyway?" Zelgadis looked at Xellos, the usual source of answers that had not been very informed recently. Not that he was helpful in the past when he kept his information to himself.

"It definitely wasn't one of Lord Beast Master's monsters or any monster I've seen before," Xellos revealed in a surprisingly cooperative mood, despite not having too much to offer in the information department. "I don't think it was even a monster in the usual sense. It's probably related to the whole Green Alchemist thing."

"I thought so..." Zelgadis admitted. "Amelia," Zelgadis sat beside her bed, holding her hand, it was so cold. "Why is she so cold?"

"Her mind is exhausted. Miss Amelia needs to conquer this sadness or else her energy will escape her," Sylphiel gently explained. She didn't need to be direct or elaborate for everyone to understand what that meant.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 109: Strain! Worries and Concerns

A dreadful silence hung in the air of Amelia's room at Seyruun castle as Sylphiel revealed her diagnosis. If Amelia didn't get over the terrible sorrow that had taken over her heart, she would die. The gentle Sylphiel dared not speak such words so directly, but everyone knew what she meant by saying that Amelia's energy was escaping her.

"That means Amelia is going to..." Xellos was about to deliver a more direct rephrasing of Sylphiel's verdict in his usual mockingly cheerful tone that he used to speak of bad news, but a warning glare from Filia was enough to make him reevaluate his words. It was not in his best interest right now to seriously offend Zelgadis, Philionel, Naga or any combination of them and the others present. Xellos had a feeling that in their full wrath he would be overpowered in his human state and this time Filia wouldn't step in to save him from their punishment.

Yet he had already opened his mouth and let a few words escape. As a result, everyone was looking at him, or rather glaring murderously at him. Xellos knew they were waiting for him to say something inconsiderate so they could hurl the nearest blunt object at his face, or a spell, or a not very pacifistic pacifist crush. "Be okay because she's an overly cheerful justice freak who's the bane of any monster's existence?" Xellos finished unsure.

Unanimously, all those present nodded, save for the unconscious Amelia of course, releasing Xellos from their deadly glares. They might have to put up with his mocking sarcasm when he was a monster, but until he recovered his power, they wouldn't allow him to misbehave too much. The unwilling hopeful encouragement gave way to a justice speech from Philionel, with Naga adding her own twisted version of justice to it and it all spiraled into randomness from there. Thus all those who witnessed the event were further convinced that the Seyruun royal family was a little bit insane... or maybe more than just a bit.

xoxox xox xoxox

Far from Seyruun, in the mountains where Milgazia's group of golden dragons lived, he had just finished sharing the abundant chocolaty treats with his friends, not revealing where they came from. He just told them someone sent them as a gift, but didn't specify what kind of gift. The chocolates were safe, so it was okay to share them, all except Zelas' special cannibalistic treats of course. "Justice, no!" Milgazia pulled the box of chocolates away from the canine that was trying to eat them. "Chocolate is bad for dogs, I'll give you some food that's good for you."

Milgazia didn't really keep the pale yellow husky as much as the dog stayed on his own. He showed up one day in front of the mountain cabin, surprisingly unafraid of the many fully transformed dragons in the area. Milgazia felt sorry for him and fed him, from that point on, the dog would hang around and follow him as much as he could. When Milgazia flew to places that the dog could not reach, he would simply return to the cabin and wait there. Since he kept staying, Milgazia kept feeding him and before he knew it, he had a pet. He named the pale yellow husky 'Justice' after a dog that appeared in the Fluffy and Ice-cream comics that resembled him.

Milgazia placed a dish of food on the floor for his pet. It was true that food was scarce, but he couldn't let his little friend starve, he felt responsible for his well being. Besides, while Justice could not eat the chocolate, Milgazia could, so Justice could consume the food Milgazia would have otherwise had. Then again, Milgazia was on a diet anyway, so as to not appear appetizing to the murderous culinary inclinations of a certain monster lord.

xoxox xox xoxox

Jillas, Elena, Palou and Val had returned to the town of the Vases and Maces shop. Filia thought it was best that way, so that they wouldn't be so close to that dangerous being known as the Void. Amelia was still unconscious. Philionel was called over by the royal council to address the threat upon their kingdom and had to take care of his royal duties. Naga claimed she had a plan and occupied herself searching for something in the castle vaults with some help from Gravos. No one really knew what her plan was.

In the mean time, Zelgadis remained at Amelia's bed side, watching her and giving her words of encouragement, hoping that she would wake up soon. Lina was restlessly assaulting the castle's food supplies with Gourry, continuously stating her frustration with the situation. The enemy had taken way longer to beat than any past one and she was at the end of her patience, especially with the whole famine situation to pressure her.

Filia and Xellos were in their new shared room at the castle. It was a mix of purple and pink, as some of the furniture from Filia's old room at Seyruun was moved to a larger room for them to share. The worried golden dragon paced around impatiently, while her husband watched her walk and rant, from his position on the purple couch among the pink heart shaped cushions. Xellos made a mental note to get rid of those ridiculous cushions later, when Filia wasn't looking. "Are you even listening to me, Xellos?" Filia stopped her pacing abruptly and Fili walked into her, as the cub had been following her, walking in circles.

Fili shook her head to clear it, then walked over to Xellos, standing on her hind legs, her front paws on his legs in an obvious indication of wanting to be picked up. "You worry too much, stupid dragon. It's obvious Beast Master has a plan." Xellos picked up Fili, letting her sit on his lap. Her reaction before the Void showed up was interesting; she somehow sensed that being was coming even if no one else did. Maybe it was a beast's instincts, Zelas must have that too and so would Xellos if he wasn't stuck as a human.

"You may be able to trust her without knowing what you're getting into, but I can't." Filia sat down next to Xellos, joining him in the activity of petting Fili's soft pale yellow fur.

"We don't have a choice," Xellos reminded with his characteristic mocking grin.

Filia huffed, "I know." She leaned back on the couch and looked at the wolf cub, that didn't look entirely like a wolf. "Fili's pretty dog-like for a wolf, isn't she?"

"That's because she's a mix breed mutt, she doesn't even look like her mother, though most of her siblings do. She was the ugly runt of the litter. I guess she reminded me of you because she's a pitiful, pathetic and hideous creature." Xellos smiled with the same cheer he always used to insult Filia. Little Fili whimpered, licked Xellos and wagged her tail. "See what I mean? She's hideous and pathetic."

"Don't listen to him Fili, come here." Filia picked up the little cub and cuddled her. "You're the cutest puppy I've ever seen."

"You have terrible taste." Xellos shook his head in mocking disapproval. "I'm not surprised though, you are a golden dragon and Fili looks a lot like Milgazia's ugly pet dog. All golden dragons have terrible taste."

"Really? In that case, I'm sure Milgazia's pet is adorable!" Filia adamantly assured. She paused going over the notion in her head again. "Wait, how do you even know Milgazia has a pet dog?"

"A yellow husky with blue eyes named Justice, nothing like Zelas black wolf with golden eyes, Chaos," Xellos revealed. "It shouldn't surprise you that I know this, Beast Master has monsters keeping an eye on all the happenings of the world, especially lately. It's only a matter of time before she sees it fit to share some information. Whenever the time comes for my true mission, she'll give me all the detailed specifics then." Going back to the topic of Fili, Xellos remembered just why he decided to keep her as a pet. Sure she looked harmless, but she had a highly volatile fighting spirit that violently came out when she was provoked, even if she was a total sweetie the rest of the time. "Her siblings don't really like Fili very much. It was kind of funny watching them gang up and pick on her, but then she fought back and gave them worse bites and scratches than they did to her. She can be such a temperamental sadistic little mutt."

"Fili's a sweetheart, I'm sure she only fought back in self defense, didn't you, honey?" Filia hugged the puppy that was named after her, then a thought finally clicked in her head. "Is Fili the daughter of Chaos and Justice?"

"It took you that long to figure it out?" Xellos mocked.

"I never would have guessed Milgazia and Zelas' pets knew each other." Filia defended, still in deep surprise over the revelation.

"A monster who was walking Chaos lost track of her while trying to get two chores done at once, walking her and spying on the golden dragons. She was eventually found, but she had already gotten into mischief by then. Milgazia's dog is the only one in that area, plus the color and mix of races fits the description, so they must be his cubs. I don't think Milgazia even knows and Zelas isn't about to tell him. Even if they're mutts she said she was keeping all the cubs to herself. Fili's the only really ugly one that looks like Justice, the others look mostly like Chaos," Xellos explained.

"That's not fair," Filia pouted. "They're Milgazia's puppies too, they're his dog's children after all. He should get to keep some."

"Nah, Milgazia would train them to be wimpy. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are better off growing up with Zelas' other wolves," Xellos reasoned. "Then they can learn to terrorize humans like proper wolves should."

Filia pouted, but knew any further arguments would be in vain. Even so, she at least had to express her surprise at the names. "Clyde I can understand, but Blinky, Pinky and Inky don't exactly sound like ferocious names."

"When you have thousands of pets, you start running out of name ideas," Xellos defended. "Besides, you have to give Beast Master credit for actually remembering them all."

"I'll admit to that much; it's quite a feat if she actually remembers all their names." Filia cuddled closer to Xellos. She couldn't precise when during their peculiar conversation she shifted positions, but she was cuddling close to him now, resting her head on his shoulder while Fili napped on her lap. Now that Filia's head was a little clearer, she brought up the previous subject again. "What kind of vision did you get from the Void?"

"That was random," Xellos teased. "I thought you had forgotten what we were talking about before. It's quite unexpected for your tiny brain to be working overtime like this. Be careful, that single brain cell of yours might overheat and cause you to combust."

"Xellos," Filia insisted for her question to be answered. She was going somewhere important with all of this. It was something that she needed to discuss with Xellos sooner or later, so it might as well be now.

"It was nothing important," he nibbled on her neck, creating a momentary distraction. Though Xellos no longer had his empathic abilities, he still knew by the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes when Filia was going to jump into a serious topic that made her worried and emotional.

"Don't distract me," Filia's tone and actions didn't match her words as she gently placed the sleeping puppy on a cushion on the couch next to her and shifted to face Xellos, already half on his lap. "I relived the whole Darkstar incident and the most difficult parts of our recent journey. I saw it all in my memories and I also saw memories that weren't mine, a vision meant for Val that I'm glad didn't reach him. What did you see?"

"The destruction of the golden dragons, the plot to turn them against the ancient dragons and what happened when we met Beast Master at the spa... All of that in a short instant," Xellos confessed, seeing that Filia wasn't simply going to drop the subject. "I could tell the visions were altered though, a series of what ifs that would have significantly changed the present if they had occurred that way." Filia didn't press the matter further, but nodded in understanding. "What's eating you, stupid dragon?"

Though the question had nothing to do with it, the phrasing reminded Filia of the dragon cuisine from her wedding party and she shuddered involuntarily. Focusing on the matter at hand again she shared the worries that had been floating in the back of her mind since she saw the vision from the Void. "Val was reborn and he's an innocent child without any bitterness or malice right now. Even so, who is to say his past memories are not locked deep inside him? What if those memories surface when he's all grown up? Even if we try our best to raise him properly," she paused and rephrased. "Even if I try my best to raise him properly while you teach him to get into mischief, he might be upset that his past was hidden. But then, if we do sit down to talk about it when he's old enough to understand, before his memories resurface, it might bring unnecessary bitterness if his memories turn out to be forever gone."

"Then don't tell him," Xellos simply suggested.

"What if his memories do come out and take him by surprise?" Filia questioned urgently. "Worse yet," she shared one of her deepest worries concerning Val. "What if his memories partially come out while he's still a child, he'll be confused and in pain. Then if his memories come out completely when he's still young, the progress that he's made living a peaceful life might be too little."

"You do realize that you're stressing out over something that's not even happened and might not happen, don't you, stupid dragon?" Xellos disregarded the worries, or at least he tried to, but it didn't quite work on Filia.

Filia wasn't about to drop the subject so easily. "This is important! Val is my son and I love him. If he's sad I'll be sad too."

"You certainly get attached fast, not that I'm surprised," Xellos mocked, much to Filia's annoyance. "There's nothing that can be done about such things. What happens, happens and that's all there is to it. You've already thought about the possibilities, so in a sense you've already mentally prepared. That's all that can be done."

Filia searched for something to say, a counter argument to throw out that would make Xellos understand, but she came up empty. Of course, this was Xellos, carefree detached tricky Xellos. He cared about her, she knew, and she dared to think he was quite fond of Val too, but he knew that worrying didn't help any situation and was quite capable of taking each day as it came when that was the choice placed before him. He was tricky and plotting, but he didn't overanalyze things. Her face was red with frustrated anger, her eyes glaring fiercely. "You're very inconsiderate sometimes, you know that?"

Xellos smiled proudly as if he had just been complimented. "I do hope you're not expecting me to console you and say that everything will be okay. As odd as it may sound coming from a monster," because he originally was and fully expected to recover that status when the time was right. "I prefer not to lie if it can be helped. Things might turn out well, or horrible, who knows." He smiled cheerfully as if the uncertainty was a good thing.

Filia huffed at his response, she would probably die of shock if he suddenly started acting all fluffy, it didn't fit him and that was okay really... She was probably really weird for admitting this even in the privacy of her own mind, but his vexation was sort of charming in a very annoying way, an oddly endearing annoying way. "I'm going to keep my hopes up no matter what you say. I'll raise Val well and give him a good childhood, so that even if his past memories still exist and eventually come out, he'll be able to let go of past bitterness."

Any further conversation, or other non-conversational activities between Xellos and Filia, had to be postponed due to the insistent knocking on the door. Filia, who was concerned that it might be an emergency, hurried to open the door to find Fang in his almost human form with the fox ears and tail. "Did something happen?" Filia urgently inquired.

"Lots of things happened," Fang happily informed. "I'm here to get Xellos; Lord Beast Master wants to talk to him!"

It didn't take more than a split second for Xellos to curiously appear at the door. "Let's not keep her waiting then." He stepped around Filia, standing next to Fang. Before they faded into the astral side, Xellos gave Filia one last glance and reminded her, "don't forget you still owe me." The last thing he saw as he was transported away from Seyruun castle was the blush that began to form on her face, replacing the puzzled look that momentarily crossed her features, when she realized he was referring to the promised honeymoon she still owed him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Fang transported Xellos back to Wolf Pack Island where he headed over to the throne room where Zelas liked to sit to receive reports. The fox monster chimera left him when they reached the location, thus the monster general priest turned human and the monster lord found themselves alone like in those many occasions when Xellos came to give her confidential reports. This time the tables were turned in the informative sense. Xellos was not there to give Beast Master any vital piece of information, but rather, he was there to receive information.

"The second phase has clearly begun, it is time that you understood the whole story," Zelas spoke in a serious tone that pierced the sound waves around her. Xellos nodded quietly and paid attention as Zelas continued. "The interpretation of the situation has been vague from the beginning. Continuous studies have been taking place while at the same time you underwent this training, which is indeed vital. To give you the summary from the beginning, the Lord of Nightmares expelled something from herself that kept her as an unchanging eternal being. That something was known as the Stillness. As a result of the Lord of Nightmares turning into a dynamic being capable of changing, she thus became the Mother of All Things and the worlds emerged from her."

With the introduction out of the way, Zelas moved on to more closely address the problem. "The Stillness was broken into three parts that compose a cycle with an order that should not be altered. The first part, Lamentation, affects the physical body. That part was kept out of the world by the semi-dormant presence of the Lord of Nightmares that formed a sort of shield around the world, while a portion of the Lord of Nightmares was able to, though rarely did, interact with the world. When Lina Inverse called upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares against Fibrizo, the Lord of Nightmares momentarily awoke fully and came close to reabsorbing the worlds. That possibility, as proven by the fact that we are still here, did not happen as the Lord of Nightmares released Lina instead. Even so, that event was not without consequences."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 110: Information! Theories and Alternatives

At Wolf Pack Island, Zelas continued her explanation for Xellos. "When Lina fought Fibrizo, the shield from the Lord of Nightmares around the world was momentarily brought down and Lamentation entered the world. It fused itself with the remains of the Green Alchemist and set a series of events in motion, which are as you witnessed. As for the other remaining pieces of the Stillness, they are the Void and the End. Where is the End and what exactly is the End still remains unknown to me, but it is likely that Lamentation was the only fragment that was kept out of the world until recently. The others most likely entered the world during its creation and remained dormant in their hosts, waiting for the missing piece. As for the Void, it was dormant inside an elf girl, the nature of her condition unknown to those around her. We misunderstood her too, but it has all been revealed. The Void was inside Yuuyami, or Onyx as she is now called."

"That Void is the same being that attacked at Seyruun?" Xellos concluded.

"Yes," Zelas confirmed. "Lamentation comes first to weaken the body, then the Void to weaken the mind. This problem is worse than I expected, even us monsters will suffer losses if this goes too far. We are relatively unaffected by the famine of Lamentation, if anything we benefit from the despair. Enough negative energy has been accumulated faster than monsters can consume it. In a sense we delayed this without knowing it, but the Void is free now, thanks in part to the cycle of despair and in part to the Lord of Nightmares herself. That was the purpose of the spell casted on Onyx, to weaken the seal."

"All of this happened because of Lina going overboard with the Giga Slave. It's just as it has been forewarned," Xellos recalled with a strangely amused grin.

"Maybe even in larger proportions, hearing about the end of the world is always different from witnessing it." There was no worry in Zelas' voice, instead there was excitement. Even if she did choose to torture the world in eternal chaos and not to let it end, she still enjoyed the despair. She just had to make sure the world didn't break to pieces completely or the despair would cease to exist along with everything else. "This is the second phase; the Void will try to push people into such a deep depression that they'll denounce their emotions in apathy and hopelessness."

"From negative emotions to a lack of emotions," this was the dangerous part, Xellos realized. "Monsters would have nothing to feed on."

"Worse yet, even monsters will begin to question their existence after being surrounded with such emptiness. Emotions play an important role for a monster, as does identity and a sense of self. Monsters are astral beings, thus cannot be affected by Lamentation, but the Void can seriously affect monsters," Zelas warned. "That means we'll lose our precious fun and chaos and we can't allow that."

"This really is the end of the world. The Stillness wipes out the physical part and even the mental part leaving nothing. Not even chaos, especially not chaos. So it's my mission to stop all this and ensure that the world continues to exist in chaos." Even so, Xellos still had a very important question that he needed to clarify. Since Zelas was feeling so generous in sharing information, he thought he might as well get the full story now. "Why was it really necessary for me to become human?"

"So that you may have a shield," Zelas explained. "Though Lamentation is tainted with the remains of the Green Alchemist, the Void is almost pure and will most likely eventually unite with Lamentation. The being that comes of that fusion will be much more powerful, especially in the astral sense, as that is the original nature of the Stillness. A purely astral being, such as a monster, would be in terrible danger getting too close to the main components of the Stillness. So far you've fought minions, but have not faced the boss. Attempting to fight as a pure astral being would only place you in danger of being absorbed. Your physical body will serve as a shield to guard your astral body, keeping it anchored to the material world. This is not without consequence, as your human body is mortal, however, this is a needed danger given the situation. In the end, it is the only effective strategy."

That clarified a lot for Xellos. By those terms, it meant that Zelas would not be personally joining the fight. "Am I to go to battle now?"

"That is not possible at the moment. Our research indicates that one part of the Stillness can restore the others. Right now, the End is hidden, thus there is no known method of winning. Furthermore, Lamentation is hiding deep underground behind a shield of astral energy that my monster chimeras could not enter. I have a plan to get through that shield that will be set in motion soon." Zelas left it at that, not specifying what exactly her plan was. "In the mean time, your mission is to fight the Void and weaken it as much as possible. It is likely that it will retreat and unite with Lamentation if it is weakened. That is alright; let the Stillness further become impure with the remains of the Green Alchemist; perhaps that is the true meaning of the Gaia prophecy."

"Another prophecy about Gaia? The one where Gaia saves the world from an invader from beyond the stars?" Xellos inquired.

"Yes, though the Gaia theory is flawed, if we place the Green Alchemist in its position, then the fact that the Stillness fused with the remains of a once dynamic being will weaken it. It will connect with the planet and try to use that in its advantage, stealing the planet's energy for power, but it will also become further impure, being exposed to a thing of change. The Stillness is nothing, in its pure form, it is possible that it cannot exist for long." Zelas revealed. "Even the so called pure fragments such as the Void are also slightly tainted to a lesser extent, due to the time spent sealed away inside a living being of change, of chaos. Maybe they kept Lamentation in existence in the place we call Sea of Chaos from a distance after slipping into the Lord of Nightmare's shield before it completely surrounded the world, appearing sealed in different people through the generations."

"It's all very complicated, like some sort of legendary mythology," and Xellos didn't really like to make things overly complicated, he liked to make them fun.

"These are all different theories, but maybe in an alternate timeline somewhere, if such a thing exists, the Stillness remained whole and pure. It disintegrated soon after it came out of the Lord of Nightmares, to be forever forgotten, or rather, never known," Zelas mused aloud. "In such a place, none of these events would have happened. Yet I would imagine that certain key things would sooner or later fall into place in their own way, even if it is with different specifics and different timing." Tired of too much seriousness she added. "Maybe in a place like that I actually have time to dedicate myself to sports and become a world class brass rackets player, without any unfair aid from my monster power, as that would make it far too easy. I suppose it is up to me as the future brass rackets champion of the world to make sure there is still a world, unlike those incompetent golden dragons."

"That sounds like a fun timeline," Xellos considered the possibility. He wouldn't be cursed, he wouldn't be temporarily human and he wouldn't have to suffer from all the hardships of that condition. But he knew that he would still pop over to the Vases and Maces shop on occasion to annoy Filia. Those visits would amuse him and he would end up making them more frequent, until one way or another he and Filia would stand in a similar situation to how they were now, even if it took some time longer. Xellos surprised himself in thinking that, because he never would have guessed when this all started. He didn't expect it to become so long term, so close, but now somehow he knew that it was simply who they were, regardless of if there was a situation to give them a push or not. "What about the golden dragons' incompetence? Wasn't that already a well known fact?" Xellos joked, the serious discussions were over and now they were just chatting.

"I have received reports that the golden dragons have been playing brass rackets a lot lately, well, that was mostly just Milgazia," Zelas explained. "He's on a diet and exercise plan or something, it's a pity since I was hoping to cook him, but even with all the food I've so kindly sent him, he'll never be meaty enough on time for the dinner of ingratitude. As for the golden dragons in general, they're overseeing the gathering of supplies, they've decided to cut all ties with the Green Alchemist and they've reevaluated their previous plans to allow the Green Alchemist to take out as many monsters as possible before doing something about it. It seems they finally became sufficiently concerned with the famine. When the Stillness is defeated, the monster race will have such a feast during the harsh recovery process the world will have to go through. Speaking of brass rackets and golden dragons, I want to play brass rackets with your pet dragon again, for real this time. I held back and humored some silly rules last time, but when this is all over, I want a real brass rackets match."

"If you're going with the classic brass rackets rules all the way, then you can't make the match one on one," Xellos reminded. "My master or my pet, who shall I partner up with?"

Zelas chuckled, truly amused by her general. "Partner up with your pet and I'll take you both on. Unless I find an amusing partner, which I doubt."

"If you don't eat Milgazia, you could invite him to play," Xellos suggested as a joke. "I didn't have the chance to properly annoy him last time I saw him and would like to make up for that."

Zelas rolled her eyes at the idea of Milgazia as her brass rackets partner. "I don't play with my food."

Soft knocking was heard on the throne room door. First Fang peeked in, unsure of if he should be interrupting or not. "Um... Lord Beast Master, Tiffany says she needs to talk to you."

Celo soon peeked in as well from the opposite site in the middle of the two doors. "If you're not too busy that is." He excused his wife, the look on his face hinting that she had been driving him crazy with her insistence to speak with his very busy boss.

"Let me through," Tiffany squeezed in through the small opening between the door in the middle of Fang and Celo.

"Golden dragons are so rude," Zelas criticized, which unlike how it sounded was actually a good sign, since she was throwing taunts at the golden dragon race rather than throwing an attack at Tiffany for the interruption. "You may go now, Xellos. I will contact you with further details as they become available."

"As you wish, Lord Beast Master," Xellos left, along with Fang, back to Seyruun castle via the astral side. The general priest was pleased with the progress despite the seriousness of the situation. At least he found some comforting familiarity in being given a mission by Beast Master and discussing information with her, though this time she was the one providing the news.

After Fang and Xellos had left, Zelas gave Tiffany a serious look. The golden dragon had been joined by Celo standing before the monster lord, the throne room doors closed behind them. "I do hope you have a good reason for your insistence," Zelas warned.

"I do," Tiffany assured with a conflicted and somewhat sorrowful look upon her face. "Celo, darling, please leave me alone with Lord Beast Master now." Celo looked utterly surprised. He had no idea what Tiffany could possibly need to talk to Zelas about that she couldn't share with him. Zelas raised a curious eyebrow as Celo opened his mouth to speak. With the most reassuring expression she could muster, Tiffany cut him off, speaking first. "Go on now, honey, Zelas and I can't have ourselves some girl talk if there's a man present."

"Right..." Girl talk? That was obviously an attempt to lighten the situation. Whether the coming conversation could be classified as girl talk was doubtful. Celo would guess it would be closer to fitting into the category of serious secretive talk that he would rather be informed about. But alas, Tiffany refused to tell him. He wondered if this was her way of getting back at him for not sharing certain aspects of his job despite their marriage. He had thought, and she had assured, that she understood that there were things a monster simply could not talk about to anyone, things that had to remain between master and minion. "I'll wait outside then..." Dejected and worried, yet still putting up a commendably believable respectful and calm front, Celo exited the throne room.

As soon as the doors were shut and Beast Master nodded, indicating that they were indeed in the liberty to speak in full privacy, Tiffany began her seemingly unrelated, but vastly significant story. "A long time ago when I still lived with the golden dragons, I had odd dreams like prophecies that frightened me, thus I did not share them with anyone. I would spend my seemingly peaceful days building rock dolls with Filia and having little tea parties. Then one day what I was, what was sealed in me became evident. I thought that if I died the end of the world would be adverted. I ran away and foolishly tried to take my own life, that day I will always remember..."

xoxox xox xoxox

A young golden dragon maiden ran through a field of flowers a considerable distance away from the Fire Temple. She stopped, out of breath, and took a dagger in her hands. The sheath and handle were adorned with jewels indicating that the blade was meant as a decoration rather than a real weapon. Nonetheless, it was sharp enough to serve its purpose. She should be fragile enough in elf form so that piercing her heart would bring forth her death; or at least her eventual death by leaving the wound untreated. She would twist the dagger in her chest and make certain that the crimson liquid kept on flowing out continuously until her life faded away.

She put her plan into action, plunging the dagger into her heart and allowing herself to fall to the ground covered in flowers. Blood flowed as her heart continued to beat against the metal blade, showing the hidden strength of a dragon despite being in her most vulnerable form. She gripped the handle, intent on twisting the blade until her heart became so torn that it stopped beating.

A shadow obstructed her view of the peaceful clear skies of a beautiful sunny day. "I thought the golden dragons discouraged suicide." The shadow that obstructed her view was a man with amethyst eyes and black hair. He was smiling at her with a meticulously respectful tone of voice, slightly elongated fangs visible in his current expression.

Tiffany loosened her grip on the dagger, instead merely holding it in place, her heart still fighting to keep beating. "What manner of creature are you? A human who has made a pact with a monster? I have no interest in associating with a being such as you before my death."

"Would you associate with a being such as me in life then?" The man respectfully inquired, his question seemingly ignored. "Forgive my rudeness, miss. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Celo Metallium, a monster who has been united with a human to become a chimera. My human side was a scientist, a mad scientist according to some. I have been driven to build trinkets and machines by the instinct to create that came from him. May I show them to you and have your opinion, miss?"

"Be gone, wretched creature!" Tiffany weakly scolded, her senses fading from the lack of blood, as her heart became weaker against its wound that could not be closed.

"To be called a wretched creature by one who throws her life away does not feel fitting." Celo gently removed Tiffany's hand from the dagger, the blood being absorbed by his white gloves, staining them red. He pulled out the dagger slowly, her pulsating heart seemingly thankful for the release. Her head felt light as he casted a Resurrection spell on her wound. It was healing magic that she did not expect a monster chimera or any being related to the monster race to know, let alone be willing to use.

"To be saved by one who claims to be a part of the monster race is not fitting." Tiffany argued, though she did so without much energy, still laying in a pool of blood that was being absorbed into the ground among the white and yellow flowers that had been stained in red.

"This chimera state is a troublesome and interesting thing," Celo admitted. "Although, truthfully I admit it is not as simple or insignificant as compassion. It is not something so short and passing. What I find in you is something deeper, it is puzzling curiosity." He sat on the ground next to her, watching as she rested among the blood tainted flowers. It would take her body a while to regenerate all the lost blood as she came dangerously close to dying. "What is it that you wish to run away from?"

Tiffany remained silent. Her sacrifice was not guaranteed to help anyone. Her fright at realizing what she carried had made her act rash and foolish. If anything, the thing sealed in her would be passed on to someone else. Perhaps it would turn out to be someone who misused it and caused pain to those who were dear to her. At least this way she knew where it was. She had figured out the truth beyond vague dreams and feelings, the truth within her secret fascination with death. "Myself..." she finally replied in a quiet whisper.

"I do apologize for being so blunt, but is that not foolishly over emotional? Even I who has little experience in handling such matters would find a better reasoning than this. Or is it because I am inexperienced that my resistance has not yet been consumed as yours has?" Celo inquired. "I cannot picture myself wanting death, even after a long time of living with the vexing hardships of not being a pure monster."

Tiffany slowly sat up next to him, her pale peach dress ruined with blood. She couldn't go back home like that. "I've changed my mind." She glared at Celo with challenging eyes. "For you to be so open and so smug with false respect, you think you're in no danger, you think I'm very weak." She chuckled mockingly as she got on her feet. "Wretched being, I'll kill you!" If she fought a monster, or something that was close enough to a monster, she would have a good excuse for her bloodied state. Besides, she couldn't let him go spreading rumors about her attempted suicide. Plus slaying a monster was by most dragon standards a noble cause.

Celo got on his feet, jumping back to put some distance between himself and his foe, taking a defensive stance. "Pardon me if I have offended you miss, but I'm afraid I must offend again and point out that you are quite ungrateful." It was ironic how he could maintain such a respectful tone all through the exchange. "I must inquire again, even if I admit it is not my place or business. What was it that drove you to this? What kind of tragedy could make a golden dragon wish to exterminate herself?"

"The kind of burden that you could not reproduce for other golden dragons to bear, even if I told you exactly what it is." Tiffany bitterly challenged. She said nothing more before triggering a transformation that turned out to be a fatal mistake. She had lost too much blood. Her body had not finished becoming a dragon before it reverted back to her elf form and she fell unconscious.

To be Continued

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