Slayers: Alive

Chapter 15

Slayers: Alive

Episode 141: Glow! The Pain Of The Unknown

At the beach, after the massive tidal way panic had passed, Amelia and Zelgadis contemplated the day's events. "It looks like we weren't able to prevent the date's interruption after all," Amelia observed with a little disappointment.

"This was too big to be prevented," Zelgadis commented, not realizing that he wasn't exactly helping console her.

"Maybe so," Amelia admitted sadly, then her cheerful determination rose once again. "But love is greater than anything else. Even with this trial, love will still triumph!" She cheered energetically. After a moment's pause, she glanced at the beach one last time before remembering her planned schedule. "We should probably get going now; we have many places to visit on our journey." Thus the princess and the chimera continued with their trip.

xoxox xox xoxox

Gourry had rejoined Lina. The redhead was, along with Yako, lamenting the cancellation of the scavenger hunt and they were so close to finishing first too. Sylphiel approached the group with a mysterious box in her hands and an interesting announcement. "Since the scavenger hunt was cancelled, our secret sponsor said I was free to keep the prize myself. Your team really worked hard on that scavenger hunt and I'm sure you would have won, so I'll give this to the two of you."

Immediately, Lina and Yako began pulling the box in opposite directions, fighting for what they thought was at least a small portion of dragon cuisine. The cardboard box broke apart and the item it contained fell to the sandy ground. It was a framed autograph of Miku Hatsune. Lina and Yako stared at the item and agonizingly declared in perfect unison, "this isn't edible!"

Neuro, who had been watching quietly from a short distance away, approached. "Such delicious frustration!" He mocked. "In truth, the one that spread the dragon cuisine rumor was me. It was all a joke and you fell for it! Though it was originally only meant as a trap for Yako, I ended up with a double snack."

"Neuro, you're so cruel!" Yako complained.

Lina glared and pretty soon she seemed to be emanating Neuro's favorite food, murderous intent. She didn't care if black magic wasn't ideal to use against a monster, she didn't care if her violent nature empowered him; she needed to let out her tensions in the one way she knew how. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows. Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows."

"Since the Stillness retreated, Shabranigdu's power should be usable for now." Sylphiel reasoned, realizing in just how much danger they were. "Maybe we should give her some space."

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

"That is a secret," Gourry agreed.

"It's no secret that we really need to retreat," Yako urged.

"Ray Wing!" Sylphiel quickly transported herself, Gourry and Yako to a safe distance.

"Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed, by the power you and I possess." As Lina came close to finishing her spell, meal of aggression aside, Neuro decided that it was time to retreat. "Dragon Slave!" A large explosion overtook the beach, yet it wasn't as large as it should be. Lina could feel it, the remaining pieces of Shabranigdu were holding back, retreating away from something, but why? The Stillness had hidden itself completely, had it not? Unless a part of the Stillness remained outside of the enclosed astral space that surrounded Lamentation. Had the Void separated from it? If that was the case, then a fragment of the Stillness was hidden somewhere in the world, waiting to strike.

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After the tidal wave had come and Filia realized she was being blamed for it, though she was fairly certain that it wasn't her fault, the upset golden dragon had hastily flown away from the beach. Eventually, she had stopped rushing endlessly away and allowed Xellos to teleport her. He had thought it was kind of funny how she went from chasing him with violent intentions to flying away in an emotional outburst of offense at the crowds' unfair accusations.

Once in Seyruun, Filia insisted on waiting for Xellos to go away before hiding herself and changing back into her elf form. Xellos perceived that there was an additional layer of worry beyond her usual modesty. It made him wonder what that was about. He waited for a while, floating above the shop, then let himself into her room via the window. Filia was laying on her bed, resting but awake with a swirl of emotions going through her.

Filia felt many things very intensely at the same time. Uncertainty, worry, confusion, frustration, heartbreak and even hope, yet it was all somehow so unknown, so fluctuating. What in the world could be going through her head? Very quiet and sneaky, Xellos made his way closer to Filia, standing behind her as she lay on her side, her eyes closed. She could sense him behind her, but she didn't show any signs of it right away. The seconds ticked away and finally, Filia rolled over so that she lay on her back, looking up at Xellos who was leaning over her with perplexed curiosity. "What do you want, raw garbage?" She fought to keep her voice steady. She needed to talk to someone who knew how to inform her, yet she was so tired, she didn't have the will to do it right away.

"Just curious, stupid dragon," Xellos admitted. "To what do I owe this feast of mostly negative emotions?" He waited for an answer that never came. Instead she sat up and with the motion she removed the hand that had been lightly resting on her stomach subconsciously. She didn't notice it right away, but he did. "That..." he pointed, unsure of if his eyes were playing a trick on him. The sun had set, shrouding the room in darkness, making even the faintest light more noticeable.

Filia looked down at her stomach. The fabric of the robe-like nightgown she had changed into was pretty thin. She had been careless. She immediately turned away and got up, her back to Xellos. "What?" Her voice cracked.

"Is that? Are you?" He walked around her, but she kept turning, refusing to face him. "Stay still!" Xellos grabbed the waist band that held the pale pink nightgown closed and pulled it off.

"Xellos!" Filia screeched, holding the thin pink garment closed with her hands. "Give that back, you piece of raw garbage!" She snatched the waist band back with one hand, still holding her clothing closed with the other.

"Answer me!" Xellos demanded with his eyes open, piercing... Angry?

Filia shuddered at the mix of disapproval and anger in his voice. Then she resolved to be firm. "This is none of your business! So what if I am?" Admitting it aloud for the first time shook Filia to her very core. Her arms fell motionless on her sides, as if her strength left her with the direct acknowledgement of the truth. The pink waistband slipped out of her fingers and fell to the floor. "So what if I am?" Her voice had lost the forced fire it held seconds prior. "So what?" She sobbed quietly, almost imperceptibly. "It's none of your business."

Xellos looked at Filia's exposed abdomen, placing his hand on the faint glow of light. "Your belly is still flat, your dragon hide won't permit the light to be visible and in this form if you wear thick fabric, no one will notice, he observed." He remembered her little outburst at the beach and her necessity to cover her midsection. Yet there it was, the unmistakable glow of a growing egg inside her body. He removed his hand as if it had been burned, not even bothering to take note of the fact that she had not immediately slapped it away. "You're right, this is none of my business." There was a bitterness that seemed very unfitting for a creature so cheerful as Xellos as he faded away to the astral side.

"Xellos, wait!" Filia called to him in agony. What was she supposed to say, what was she supposed to do? She couldn't explain this even to herself. She held no memories of how this situation came to be. The father of her child, where was he? Who was he? Why wasn't he there with her? She fingered the amethyst ring she always wore. If she had loved him so much, enough to let things go that far, then why couldn't she remember him?

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Later, Milgazia landed at Dragon's Peak and went straight home. He changed into his human shape, gave Justice some food and changed his water, then proceeded to rummage through his tea leaf supplies. He found an opened package with a note in Memphis' handwriting. "A package with tea leaves arrived while you were away. They smelled good, so I took the liberty to have some and shared them with Phythan and Kirei, since Onyx doesn't really like tea. I hope you don't mind."

Phythan's internship had ended and he and Onyx had recently come to Dragon's Peak where Milgazia let them stay. The white dragon, Kirei, had come seeking his help for revenge, though Milgazia had mostly persuaded her to stop her plans, albeit he suspected she wasn't quite convinced. Milgazia examined the remaining tea leaves in the mysterious package that a certain someone had decided to send after all and his eyes grew wide with recognition. He hurried to find Memphis and most of all Phythan and Kirei.

Rushing out to the mountains, he spotted a campfire with three people sitting around it. "Don't drink that!" He called out as Kirei was about to lift a cup to her mouth.

The white dragon froze and Memphis blinked, "I didn't think you'd mind," the elf apologized. "Sorry to have taken the tea leaves without asking."

"Has anyone drank any of this tea?" Milgazia urgently asked.

"I have not drank any yet," Kirei responded. "But Phythan has. Does it perhaps, produce sleep? He's been out cold for a while now."

"He drank quite a bit of tea too," Memphis voiced. "He liked it so much that I told him to go ahead and finish the first batch. Kirei was out training, so I decided to wait for her before having some tea myself. So far the only one who has tried it is Phythan."

Milgazia shook his head, already feeling sorry for Phythan. "He's going to be sick when he wakes up."

"You mean, the tea is harmful?" Memphis asked in shock.

"You can't trust mysterious packages," Milgazia lectured sternly. "If I were to take a guess, I would say this is from Zelas. These tea leaves, I thought they were extinct. It seems that they flourished again when the Earth was restored with chaotic energy." Of course, none of the younger people present would know of such tea leaves that had not been seen for over a thousand years. "This tea is actually pretty nutritious for a dragon woman who is with child, but no one else should take it."

Memphis' face contorted with worry and guilt. "Is it poisonous to dragon males?"

"Yes, but it's not fatal," Milgazia explained. "He'll just be sick and in pain for a few days, depending on how much tea he drank. This tea can produce strange dreams in anyone who drinks it. That is as far as its effects go in most living creatures, except dragons. With dragons it is poisonous to males, healthy for pregnant females and has a very peculiar effect on females who are not expecting."

"Really?" Kirei asked in curiosity, glad that she had not tried any of the tea yet. "What does it do?"

"An empty egg," Milgazia revealed. "A collection of nutrients and such that looks like an egg but has nothing inside."

"That would be pretty odd," Kirei observed. Laying an empty egg with tea leaves as the father? That would be very odd indeed.

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Meanwhile, at Wolf Pack Island... "You seem upset, Xellos." Zelas commented as she watched her favorite minion pace about the hallways of her secret palace.

Xellos put on a mask of a sugary smile for his master and tried to act natural. "I am perfectly fine, Lord Beast Master. I'm ready to serve you in any way you require."

"I'm sure," Zelas acknowledged with little pause. "But I must insist that you tell me what is bothering you," she pried with mild curiosity. "What has my favorite general priest so upset?"

"I'm your only general priest," Xellos pointed out with a forced overly cheerful smile.

"Don't change the subject," Zelas smiled very much like Xellos. Her usually open stunning eyes were now closed in the same fashion as his usually were.

Xellos' eyes opened. Zelas only closed her eyes like that when she was indulging in a moment of extreme silliness or when she was holding back a considerable deal of impatience. He knew he better get out with it. "It's nothing really, a detail of no importance. That ancient dragon is going to have a little sibling, that is all."

"Oh?" Zelas let out a light melodious laugh quite different from the full power of her roaring and howling laughter. "So your pet is expecting?" She feigned surprise so well that Xellos believed she was only now finding out about this. "You'll have another little pet then, how nice. What are you going to name it?"

Xellos closed his eyes again and grinned like he always did. "Kooky if it's a boy and Kootie Pie if it's a girl."

"Such fitting names," Zelas chuckled. "Do let me know when the little one arrives; I'm curious to see it."

"Why waste your precious time with such a hideous sight?" Xellos was still smiling in the same superficial way. "A baby dragon of all things is not worthy of being in your magnificent presence."

"I'm sure it's not," Zelas agreed with an amused nod. "However, I'm still curious and I want to see it. In fact, you are to bring the egg to me as soon as it comes."

"Oh..." Xellos' expression slightly fell, but he quickly recovered again. This wasn't a joke from Beast Master, nor was it a request. It was an order and Xellos knew that he had to follow it. "As you wish," he finally voiced.

"Naturally," Zelas agreed with a wide grin.

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After her conversation with Xellos, Zelas teleported to the rebuilt rickety wooden clock tower at the Amor Resort Island. The tower was surrounded by a thick forest that was not plastic this time around, as it had grown back following the apparent recovery of the world. Tiffany and Celo were there, him busily tinkering with machines and her making tea. She was under the effects of a visual illusion spell to look like her normal self. "Lord Beast Master, welcome to our humble home. Would you like some tea?" Tiffany offered.

"Why yes, thank you very much," Zelas replied with a mocking tone of superior politeness.

"To what do we owe the honor of your visit, Lord Beast Master?" Celo curiously inquired, while he, Zelas and Tiffany sat down around a table, where the golden dragon was serving tea.

"Just a casual visit," Zelas picked up her tea cup and took a sip. She set the tea cup down gently while Tiffany went to fetch some cookies. "How is the little resident of the jar doing?"

"He is alright, or as well as one confined to a jar could be." Celo smiled respectfully. He was talking about Solex, who had been preserved in a jar using knowledge originally discovered by Rezo.

"I see," Zelas noted, her eyes traveling to the plate full of brown chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips that Tiffany had brought over. The monster lord took a cookie and ate it. After a pause following the action she informed. "The vessel is being prepared, or a portion of it, I should say."

"That is good to hear," Celo quietly rejoiced with well practiced respect. "After that part of the vessel is ready, it should only be a matter of inserting a sample of General Xellos' energy into it and having the soul of Solex possess it, integrating itself into the new vessel."

"Realistically speaking, what is the probability of a successful salvage of Xellos' minion?" Zelas inquired, taking another sip of her tea following the question.

"It is difficult to say," Celo respectfully ascertained. "The chaotic energy in the atmosphere could be very good or very bad for our purpose. It is true that it pushed Solex to come undone faster before, but it may have a stabilizing effect this time. It is wonderfully unpredictable," Celo smiled with true bliss.

"Yes," Zelas nodded and took another cookie. "Chaos is wonderful indeed."

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It was morning bright and early in Seyruun when Filia considered requesting to speak with Jillas and Gravos, but decided against it. She felt odd and somewhat ashamed not to remember her lover and didn't actually address the situation directly. It was as if she was trying to convince herself, for the purpose of reassuring herself that she had not made a grave mistake, that she did in fact love that mystery man. She wanted to remember him of her own accord. The egg would not be due to be laid for a while and it would be an additional stretch of time before it hatched. Thus she could give herself until then to get her hidden memories to emerge completely before she asked directly.

Deciding that she needed to clear her head and a change of scene would be right for that, Filia decided to fly to Dragon's Peak. After taking care to make sure that everything was running smoothly at home, she took off on her own. She wasn't even sure herself why she was going to such a place, possibly simply because it was different. Though Milgazia and Memphis were kind to her, the Water Clan was still a little nervous around her, though less so than in the past. Even so, she needed to be in an environment that was essentially different from her usual life as of late. Maybe she could have some tea in the mountains and relax.

Secretly, deep down Filia wondered if perhaps Milgazia knew the father of her child. Albeit she did not remember being so close in such a way to another dragon, logic and reason dictated that the father had to be a dragon, or else it would be a biological impossibility. The world might be somewhat chaotic, but not that chaotic. Just as Xellos had pointed out, though the thought of the purple haired monster sent waves of pain through her body at the moment, Filia knew that as long as her clothing was thick enough to hide the faint glow in her belly, no one would notice it.

Filia was well received in Dragon's Peak, having landed near Milgazia's house. She learned from Memphis that Phythan was ill to the point of being bedridden and that a white dragon by the name of Kirei was taking care of him. The name did not settle well with Filia, but she forced herself not to show any outward reactions, instead making a quiet mental note to check on them.

Milgazia wasn't in the best state of health either, albeit it was for entirely different reasons as Phythan. He had hastily flown back to Dragon's Peak after the beach incident while he was still sopping wet with sea water. The flight had certainly dried him off by the time he got home, but the cool evening air made him catch a cold. The golden dragons, known by many as the dragon lords because of their exceptional abilities, were certainly a powerful race, but not even they were safe from the perils of the common cold. Even so, Milgazia wasn't one to let a cold knock him out of commission, thus he received his visitor and did his part to entertain her as well as he could.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 142: Resignation! The Convenience of Burning Bridges

At Wolf Pack Island, little Fili jumped onto Xellos' bed where her master was among purple cushions. She jumped on him and licked his face. He petted her and offered. "How about I rename you Kiri? Filia might be pissed off." Not sure how to react, the puppy let out a little whimpering sound of protest. Xellos sat up and picked up his bag, which he had tossed aside earlier. He removed the dragon Filia doll keychain from it and conjured a small flame in his hand, watching the item burn to ashes.

Fili whimpered some more, she didn't like the sour mood that her master had been in, even if he didn't demonstrate it towards her. Xellos picked up the cub off his lap and placed her on the bed. He got up, putting his bag back on and picked up his staff. He swiftly exited his chambers and went to find Beast Master with an idea in mind.

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"Lord Beast Master?" Zelas knew that tone of voice, she recognized it immediately. That was the tone that Xellos took on when he wanted to do something for fun.

Perhaps she would humor him this time. He approached her while she was in the garden surrounded by her wolves. "What is it, Xellos?"

"Today I really feel like having some dragon cuisine. May I request some of your delicious cooking?" Xellos grinned. "I even offer to help prepare it."

Zelas shook her head lightly, scolding without any real annoyance. "We've been over this, you're not allowed in my personal kitchen. But I suppose you could help find the ingredients. The earth has produced many spices thought to be extinct and though the outburst of fertility seems to be slowly running out again, we can still stock up. Perhaps I should send you in such an errand, since there is nothing for you to do at the moment that requires proper use of your abilities."

"I would gladly overtake any task you assign to me." Xellos offered, with the hint of a coming addition soon to be attached to his remark, not a condition, as he couldn't set those, but a request. "Although, I may not be familiar with all the spices and such, even with my amazing culinary skill," which he was still convinced he had, no matter how many times it was clearly proven otherwise. "Perhaps it would be best if you came with me."

"Perhaps," Zelas agreed and Xellos grinned.

Xellos mused that he could blow off some steam, not that he had any real reason to be upset as far as his consciously accepted thought process went, get a good meal and maybe manage to piss off Milgazia. Then that would contribute to the progress of making him and Zelas break up. Although Lina had sent Jarde over with a message claiming her dragon cuisine reward, Xellos had refused her demands. She didn't help his mission at the beach, so he didn't want to reward her. He would have to watch his back the next time he ran into Lina, who had responded in turn with a rather violent sounding letter expressing her frustrations and claiming more credit than Xellos thought she deserved for that particular occasion.

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A great dark power surrounded Xellos as he allowed Zelas to teleport him away to an unknown location. When they reappeared, he recognized his surroundings as Dragon's Peak. Several dragons ran away in fright while others glared, ready to defend their clan, but they mostly, didn't make too much of a fuss. Though they didn't fully understand, and really who could? The relationship of brass rackets partnership that their valiant leader held with the monster lord, they didn't think that her presence was necessarily for the purpose of destruction. Maybe she was there for more of those odd diplomatic negotiations with Milgazia that the Water Clan assumed must be taking place during some of their time together.

"Why are we here?" Xellos complained, obviously not pleased with his location. He wanted to keep Zelas away from Milgazia at least for the day and there she went teleporting them to his place of residence.

"For spices, of course, it is said there are some rare ones that only grow in these mountains." Zelas explained in a calm, matter of fact, kind of tone.

Milgazia had approached on time to hear Zelas statement. He inquired with suspicion, "is that the only reason why you're here?" He did a fine effort to hide the flu that afflicted him, not wanting to show any signs of weakness to the monsters.

Xellos' frown deepened as he foolishly cut in before Zelas could reply, "yes, we're here for spices, we're not here to see you!"

Milgazia observed his behavior; Xellos was never this snappish in the past. "If that is the case, then I will give you the spices so you can be on your way." The golden dragon elder addressed Xellos, as he had been the one to speak directly to him.

Xellos interpreted Milgazia's reply as an attempt to get rid of him. There was no way he was going to run home with the spices while Zelas remained in Dragon's Peak with that... that... that very infuriating dragon. Xellos firmly planted his feet on the ground in emphasis, "I'm not going anywhere." The purple haired monster pouted.

Finding the behavior to be very peculiar, Milgazia nodded, "very well. As long as you do not cause trouble, you may stand there for as long as you wish."

Xellos crossed his arms stubbornly, "I will."

Zelas let out a breath that combined exasperation and amusement in a single expression, if that was even possible. "Your pet is rubbing off on you. I'm not sure if I like it."

Xellos' firm stance wavered. He did not want to be compared to Filia. "Not at all, Lord Beast Master, I am nothing like her."

"Of course not," Zelas nodded with a somewhat mocking expression. "Well, while you stand there, I shall go find the spices. Milgazia which spices do you think-" would taste better with dragon cuisine? Zelas was about to tease before she was interrupted.

Not wanting to leave them alone, Xellos moved from the spot that he claimed he would not move from and hurried to stand between Zelas and Milgazia. "I'll come with you."

"Xellos," Filia's voice as she approached the other three, made them pause. She froze a few feet away from them. She wasn't expecting to see Xellos, very much less Zelas at Dragon's Peak. She assumed that it was Milgazia who always visited Wolf Pack Island and that Zelas' presence at Dragon's Peak would be rare at most. She didn't expect to coincidentally run into her or Xellos. She didn't like the way she parted with Xellos and wanted to do something about it, but she didn't know what. Filia had to have a word with him though, she didn't like having him mad at her like that, she couldn't stand it. "Can I talk to you?"

"No," Xellos replied.

Sensing the overload of emotional drama coming from Filia, Zelas proceeded to override the answer with a hungry, "yes." Maybe then she would get even more of a meal from the upset Filia.

Xellos frowned. His own master was trying to get rid of him so she could be alone with her lover. Oh how terrible! "You too, Lord Beast Master?"

"Nah, I can still feed on her misery even from a little further away." As a powerful monster lord, Zelas had a pretty good range for such things, better than regular monsters. "I'll get started on picking those spices," Zelas decided. Filia would just hold back on her emotional outbursts if she remained in earshot. "Milgazia-"

"Have a great time looking for spices Lord Beast Master!" Xellos interrupted with an overload of cheer. "We'll be waiting right here so as to not break your concentration. A culinary genius such as yourself needs no interruptions!"

"That is very true," Zelas agreed, again caught between annoyance and amusement. Milgazia and Filia both realized she was referring to Xellos' interruption, though if the purple haired monster noticed, he showed no indication.

"Would you just let them go?" Filia snapped. She knew why Xellos would want to keep Zelas and Milgazia away from each other and honestly, she wanted to do the same. Yet this time, there were things far more important to her than the mission. "Zelas wants spices and Milgazia knows this area so he can tell her where they are, that's all there is to it. Quit stalling, you piece of raw garbage!"

Zelas chuckled, tasting the pain and fear that emanated from Filia. "Well, Milgazia, it seems our presence here is not wanted." She grinned in amusement.

Milgazia didn't know what kind of relationship troubles Filia and Xellos were having, but she certainly seemed eager to talk to him, albeit he did not. Perhaps it would be best to give them some space and talk to Filia later. "Right, let's go."

Xellos glared metaphorical poison covered, not daggers, but swords, at Filia as he watched Zelas and Milgazia walk away. They walked at a diplomatic and impersonal distance from each other, like two people who happened to be coincidentally heading in the same direction but were not walking together. Even so, Xellos shuddered to think about what kind of activities they would engage in behind some rock as soon as they were out of sight. "You're making things difficult, are you satisfied, Filia?"

The way Xellos spat out her name like venom made her quiver with a strong sense of agony. She actually wished he would call her stupid dragon in that mockingly cheerful, playful tone of his. "I need to talk to you." She reiterated, though she still did not know what to say.

"So?" Xellos urged impatiently. "Talk to me, get your useless jabbering done and over with."

Filia lowered her head, terribly frustrated by her own lack of words. "I'm sorry; I don't want you to be angry at me. I don't want things to change. You annoy me, you drive me crazy, but... somehow... I..."

"You what?" Xellos prompted neutrally.

"Miss Filia, Mr. Xellos!" Amelia's cheerful voice greeted them. The princess approached with her beloved chimera following her closely. They had no idea what they had interrupted; in fact they didn't even realize they were interrupting anything at all.

Realizing that she wasn't quite ready for this, Filia took the opportunity to buy more time with real curiosity. "Amelia, Zelgadis, when did you get here?"

"A few minutes ago, Mr. Fang helped with the transportation. He was kind of bored, so he came to hang out with us. He got permission from Zelas first, of course," Amelia explained. Albeit Filia did not clearly remember who Fang was, a vague recollection surfaced in her memories at the mention of the name. Xellos of course, knew who Fang was, as he had known him for a very long time, well before the period hidden from him by amnesia. "I'm so glad you're here," the princess took Filia and Xellos' hands on each of hers. "Let us be comrades for this fine endeavor!" She shook their hands dramatically and elegantly, then let them go.

"What fine endeavor?" Xellos inquired, not sure if he really wanted to know. The last thing he needed was an extra dose of opposition to his quest to restore sanity to his life. Surely, just as it had happened at the beach, Amelia would be adamantly opposed to any plans involving any sort of relationship sabotage strategies.

Zelgadis let out an imperceptibly quiet breath and made a face that communicated 'please humor her.'

"Let me explain," Amelia began. "Recently, Miss Onyx received an invitation to live in an elf village. A reputable family has decided, after learning of her story, that they wished to welcome her into their household and help her to live a peaceful life. Miss Onyx told them she would think about it and has actually decided to go live with them!" Amelia vigorously declared, as if the choice signified a major turning point in the climax of a cheesy overly dramatic novel.

"That's good?" Filia commented unsure. Amelia's tone didn't make it sound like the choice was favorable, but it didn't sound like a bad thing at all. Though still blurry, Filia also felt a recollection of who Onyx was, surfacing in her memories. Xellos remained clueless, assuming this Onyx was one of Amelia's friends or perhaps an acquaintance of most of Lina's traveling companions, who had joined them for their latest adventure, the one he couldn't remember.

"It would be if it were that simple," Amelia elaborated. "But it's not," the energetic Seyruun princess sighed with concern. "Miss Onyx is giving up on Mr. Phythan. She told me herself that she has no intentions of pursuing him. That is the real reason why she's leaving. We need to do something! We have to make sure she considers this carefully before making a choice that she will terribly regret!"

"I have no interest in playing matchmaker." Xellos pointed out with his usual painted grin and squinty eyes. At the same time, Filia tried to remember who Phythan was. A golden dragon, naive, innocent, lacking in modesty, a younger brother figure.

"That's not what I had in mind," Amelia clarified. "I just need someone to help me talk to Miss Onyx. She can be very shy and quiet at times. Actually, I was only going to ask for Miss Filia's assistance, as it would probably be more comfortable for her if it's just us girls. Will you come with me, Miss Filia?"

Filia couldn't wait to fix things with Xellos, if there was any way to restore the chaotic link that they had. Yet she wasn't ready, she was too confused, too mixed up, too lacking in information. "Yes," Filia quickly offered to go with Amelia and the two young women left.

A dull moment of silence passed between Zelgadis and Xellos after Amelia and Filia were gone. The quietude lasted until the chimera inquired half detached and half... concerned? "Everything okay?"

Xellos tilted his head in curiosity. There was that clear air of detachment around Zelgadis as he asked a question that he shouldn't be bothered asking in the first place. Yet there was also something that tasted of concern, but by the laws of logic couldn't possibly be. "Peachy," the purple haired monster answered sarcastically.

"I see," Zelgadis caught the obvious sarcasm and interpreted it as an unwillingness to share information. Aside from the while drama involving Zelas and Milgazia, Xellos seemed to have his own personal problems to deal with concerning Filia, albeit Zelgadis had no clue about what they could be. Addressing the topic about Zelas and Milgazia, Zelgadis honestly stated, "don't you think you're being hypocritical?"

Xellos raised a curious eyebrow. "About what?" He didn't know where Zelgadis could be going with any of this or why the chimera was even talking to him without bitterness, it was confusing. Actually, it seemed that the general attitude of Lina's traveling companions towards him had improved somehow. It had to be due to the events that he couldn't remember, Xellos logically concluded, and it made him even more curious to remember them. Even so, Beast Master had given him a sufficiently functional summary and he didn't want to trouble her for more information if she didn't deem it necessary to share it in the first place. The happenings were no secret though; he could just ask someone else... maybe.

"Zelas and Milgazia," Zelgadis replied. "I mean, you're with Filia aren't you? You're a monster and she's a dragon so-"

"I'm not with Filia," Xellos interrupted. He had been doing a lot of interrupting people in the middle of their sentences lately. "She was a pet and she still is a reliable source of food, but that's all there is to it. Amelia's naivete must be rubbing off on you if you would seriously consider such a thought."

'They're definitely having a spat,' Zelgadis quietly mused.

"Besides, Filia has that dragon," the identity of the non-existent dragon in question was a mystery to Xellos. Addressing the look of confused curiosity on the chimera's distinctively non-hostile face, Xellos elaborated. "She's expecting a child."

"What?" Zelgadis exclaimed, much louder than he meant to. "Filia is... is... she's pregnant? From another dragon?"

"Naturally," Xellos spat sarcastically. "If she's pregnant it has to be from a dragon, as that is what biology dictates."

"Oh..." Zelgadis frowned.

What was that which the chimera was feeling? Pity? Compassion? The taste made no sense to Xellos. He considered being offended, as he did not particularly like being pitied, but he was far too perplexed for that. "Aren't you supposed to hate me?" He asked with true puzzlement.

"Not particularly," Zelgadis stated naturally, the statement showing no signs what so ever of being in any way forced.

"Are you going to tell me that you don't hate anyone?" Xellos recalled Filia saying that in the past.

"No," Zelgadis truthfully replied.

"Who do you hate then?" Xellos tried to upset Zelgadis, to reach some familiar ground. "Rezo?"

"No," Zelgadis replied sincerely. "I hated Rezo and I hated you," he truthfully explained. "But I don't anymore. I've come to terms with Rezo, he was influenced by Shabranigdu and a lot of things happened because of that. As for you, I guess I found any hatred I might have had for you to be useless. I grew out of it, I suppose. I still don't like you very much, but..."

"But you don't hate me, enough to show... concern?" Xellos inquired and Zelgadis nodded. Xellos chuckled, then laughed, loud and clear. "The world really has been turned upside-down; I wish I knew what exactly I've been missing!" Zelgadis wasn't sure how to reply to that, so he remained silent. Still chuckling, Xellos commented in a teasing tone, "the princess' stubborn hope and positive attitude really is rubbing off on you. Who knows what other aspects of her are too."

Catching the hidden meaning of the comment, Zelgadis' face turned crimson. "I will not allow you to say things like that!" With a mocking laugh, Xellos stuck out his tongue and disappeared, fading away into the astral side. Zelgadis crossed his arms and huffed. For someone who just got dumped by his wife, Xellos was handling things relatively well. Still, he had trouble believing the whole thing about Filia being pregnant. Maybe that had been something she had said in anger during one of their arguments and wasn't actually true. Though he feared he would release Amelia's dramatic spirit further if he shared this information with her, Zelgadis still felt like he should.

xoxox xox xoxox

In another area of Dragon's Peak, Amelia and Filia approached an elf girl sitting by herself, writing something in a notebook. Onyx looked at the approaching people from the corner of her eyes, assuming they would simply pass by. When they sat down in the shade of the mountain-side in a circle alongside her, the elf finally looked up with a short quiet greeting. "Hello..."

"Hi!" Amelia greeted with energy and determination.

"Hi..." Filia added in thought. After actually seeing Onyx, a few more stray recollections of her emerged in Filia's mind. Onyx no longer dressed like Xellos, as she had no reason to do so, though her clothing still had the same shades of black and blue that she favored before and a generally similar style to her past attire.

Without further ado, Amelia addressed the issue at hand. "We're here to talk about Mr. Phythan. You shouldn't so easily give up on him!"

With a voice of detached monotone, Onyx calmly declared, "he is of little benefit to me."

"He could be your true love!" Amelia insisted.

"You do not understand," Onyx calmly reflected aloud, as if reaching an undeniable conclusion. Before Amelia could protest, she continued. "I will explain this only once." The elf's statement made the princess fall silent as she listened.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 143: Chaotic! Cheesy Novel Plot Twists

Filia and Amelia were sitting in the shade of the mountain-side at Dragon's Peak with Onyx, who seemed set in putting an end to their interference. "I am... not strong after all." Onyx admitted. "I have been carried by circumstance my whole life and only ever took action when I was pushed to the extreme. I'm not very strong willed. Living with the elves will be good for me, they are very kind, they'll keep me happy and safe."

"So would the Water Dragon Clan," Amelia pointed out. "But if you want to live with the elves, that's fine. I just don't know why you have to cut your ties with Mr. Phythan too."

"I'm a selfish creature, if I am safe and entertained, that is enough," Onyx voiced with the same sense of detachment that she often showed. "Phythan is energetic, cheerful and naive; Kirei can take care of him. I do not wish for these complications. In the Water Clan I would be treated as a member, but with those elves, they would treat me like a princess and I would live luxuriously. The happenings of daily life bore me; I feel only when the emotion is extreme, yet that does not always lead to good results when it's even possible. I will be happier if I go."

Amelia frowned, "you think he's too troublesome? Not worth it?" The princess shook her head. "No, you still don't believe you're good enough for him, even if he thinks you're amazing! A little competition and you run away? Miss Onyx, don't give up, the bond you share with Mr. Phythan is stronger than this!"

"I am such a pitifully idle creature driven by circumstance..." Onyx breathed monotonously.

"Then don't let that go on! Take control of your life!" Amelia encouraged. "

"It is not worth it," Onyx closed her eyes serenely. "This is not your concern. I merely get in the way with my lack of interest in such matters."

"Circumstance..." Filia mused quietly. Her memories were blurry, but she had something to say. "It doesn't matter, regardless of what happened, what didn't happen, what could have happened and what might happen, there are things stronger than that. No matter what, because of who you are, there are things that come from you, regardless of what else is going on. It might be easy, it might be hard, it might even seem close to impossible, completely illogical and frustratingly confusing, but if it is your heart's true desire, somehow, you'll always end up chasing it no matter what the conditions. It's not a mere circumstance, it's more powerful than convenience, it's... it's... it's what you want, isn't it?"

Onyx nodded, "the rush of the moment can only keep me in motion for so long. I don't have the momentum you do. I suppose, if I make a mess of things, I can try to fix it later, or just ignore it and move on even without fixing it..."

It didn't exactly sound cheerful but Amelia seemed to read deeply enough into the answer to smile in response. "Go for it, Miss Onyx!"

xoxox xox xoxox

In another area of Dragon's Peak, Zelas approached Xellos. "Are you done playing around here. Let's move on with our shopping." From a few feet away, Milgazia watched them making sure they didn't cause trouble during their hopefully short visit.

"I can't wait to leave, this place stinks terribly of dragon," Xellos grinned mockingly.

"Wait!" Filia dashed down the mountain path towards the monster lord and the general priest. "Xellos, I need to finish talking to you. I think I can now."

"Too bad, because I'm already leaving," Xellos' cheerful expression stayed intact.

"Let her tag along," Zelas suggested. "She can help carry the grocery bags like a good little pack mule." The monster grinned with mocking superiority.

While Milgazia shook his head in disapproval, unseen by the others whose collective attention was on Filia, she considered the option. Finally, Filia accepted the terms, "alright, I'll tag along and help carry the bags." Then maybe at some point Zelas would leave her alone with Xellos and they could finish their interrupted conversation.

xoxox xox xoxox

Filia spent most of the day from that point on following Zelas around as she hunted rare spices and examined food products. The tired golden dragon set aside the multitude of grocery bags she carried and glared at Xellos for not helping her. He was casually leaning against a wall at a human town marketplace licking an oversized purple lollipop. Not too far away, Zelas was standing in front of a vegetable booth, engrossed in the task of critically poking tomatoes, much to the shopkeeper's annoyance.

Filia remembered when Xellos obtained the large purple sugary treat not too long ago. He had been making a clear point out of ignoring Filia by constantly talking to Zelas and pointing out random things to her. The golden dragon was reminded of a particularly hyper little boy on his first trip to a large marketplace with his mother. Just as Filia became fed up with being ignored, Beast Master became fed up with her general's constant chatter and shoved a lollipop into his mouth with the sweet yet grave order of "take this and shut up."

The sides of Xellos' face had stretched to accommodate the lollipop that shouldn't have fit through his mouth in the first place. Filia found herself thinking for a moment that having an astral body that could defy the laws of physics could be quite comical in certain situations such as this. The shop keeper of the candy booth was too shocked to say anything as the elegant lady, the physics defying purple haired man and the person under the mountain of grocery bags continued walking down the street without even paying for the candy.

Now in a whole different area of the marketplace, Filia decided to try to address the matters she had been trying to discuss again. "Xellos, I've been thinking-" The message that Filia was trying to communicate was interrupted when Zelas shoved a bag of tomatoes into Filia's hands. With the monster lord ready to go off to their next stop and Xellos determined to keep his full attention on his giant lollipop, Filia would have a hard time getting any form of message to reach him.

Finally, the time came for the main ingredient and at that point, Filia, realizing that Zelas did not change into her true form just for show, but rather to hunt, decided it was time to leave. Upset, she set the grocery bags down in front of Xellos, stole his half consumed lollipop and threw it on the ground, changed into her dragon form not caring that he was watching, stomped on the purple candy, then flew away.

xoxox xox xoxox

The days passed by and the time came for Amelia, who had along with Zelgadis, returned to Seyruun, to stop lightly hinting for Filia to say something and instead address the situation directly. As for Filia, her thoughts were in such turmoil she couldn't even react to them and tried to carry on as normally as she could. It was a calm afternoon when Amelia, who had been informed about the supposed situation by Zelgadis, decided to call Filia over to the castle for tea.

Coincidentally, Milgazia happened to pass by, arriving with a fruit basket for Filia when she was on her way to the castle. Amelia and Zelgadis had been in the gardens as the two golden dragons approached. Still out of their hearing range, Filia inquired about the occasion of the gift.

Milgazia, who had gotten over his cold, explained. "Xellos showed up the other day asking me if I knew about your condition. When I realized I didn't know what he was talking about he left, just as suddenly and inexplicably as he came. I thought about it and came to a conclusion." Filia held her breath as Milgazia continued. "I thought I must have given you my cold."

Filia let out the breath she had been holding without realizing it. Her nervous then very relieved reaction stood out strangely to Milgazia, but he didn't comment on it. They had continued walking past the castle gates as they talked and were now in earshot of the pair who was, unknown to them, near by in the royal gardens. "So you've come to take responsibility for my condition?" Filia smiled, glad that this was just about a common cold misunderstanding. Unknown to her, Amelia and Zelgadis, who had seen them and were walking over, stopped cold with shocked expressions.

Noting that she appeared to be in good health, Milgazia observed. "I was rather late it seems."

"It's alright," Filia smiled in a friendly way. "I appreciate it all the same, thanks for taking care of me." She finally saw Amelia and Zelgadis, who were as still as statues and deadly pale. "Are you alright?"

Amelia and Zelgadis looked at each other and nodded for the sake of saving face after having heard something that they were not supposed hear. The chimera occupied himself in giving Milgazia a critical glare of disapproval that the golden dragon elder did not understand, while Amelia led them to the tea room and tried to act natural. This was a fine mess; the princess would have never expected such things from the ever serious Milgazia. 'You can never tell with those diplomatic types,' Amelia mused, her spirit of justice infuriated.

The tea social call went by relatively uneventful. Amelia had planned to talk to Filia alone, but with Milgazia there, that wouldn't be possible. Plus the drama was much more twisted than she thought and the princess wasn't sure how to handle it without causing those involved more heartache. Although she was bursting with the need to reveal the whole situation like the climatic plot twist of a cheesy romance novel, she held back. Contingency measures had to be taken, though as far as Amelia and Zelgadis could interpret there would be little in the way to preserve Milgazia alive when Zelas caught wind of this.

xoxox xox xoxox

It was evening some time later in Wolf Pack Island when Zelas slightly tilted her head upward and informed, "your pet is here."

Xellos looked up from his task of brushing Fang's fur, sitting cross-legged at the foot of Beast Master's throne with the fox monster on his lap. "Filia?"

"Do you have any other pet dragons?" Beast Master inquired with a mix of curiosity and slight amusement. After a small pause, she offered. "If you wish to inquire information of me in regards to the specifics of her condition, you may."

Xellos considered it, then finally concluded. "It is none of my business, unless it involves a task you wish to assign to me of course."

"Not really, not yet at least." Beast Master voiced as if it were a subject of very little importance. "I don't want her to fly around in circles out there trying to enter Wolf Pack Island all night though. Do get rid of her, you may use any method of your choosing."

"Right away, Lord Beast Master," Xellos teleported away and Fang whimpered because the pleasant brushing of his fur ceased.

xoxox xox xoxox

Xellos reappeared on the surface of Wolf Pack Island. The location below seemed ghostly as if it was there but at the same time it wasn't, as it was protected by an astral shield set to only be partially perceivable at the moment. "What are you doing here, stupid dragon?"

Filia was actually glad to hear the familiar insult that was more of a nickname to her now. She was in her dragon form after having flown all the way there from Seyruun. "I came to talk to you. I'm not going to let you ignore me!"

"I don't know if you're monumentally stupid or just suicidal. This is Wolf Pack Island, you can't just come over here whenever you want!" Xellos scolded in all seriousness. "Beast Master ordered me to get rid of you by any method of my choosing. I'm getting rid of you by teleportation so stay still, unless you prefer a more permanent solution to your trespassing."

Filia nodded and allowed Xellos to take her back to Seyruun. He was talking to her and that was what she was trying to accomplish. She felt better once she was in the familiar city. She landed behind her shop and changed back into her elf form, levitating to stand at the balcony of the second floor.

Xellos landed next to her. It was obvious that she wasn't going to stop insisting until he listened to her. "What so important that you need to risk your life to tell me?"

"I don't want things to change," Filia stated with more certainty than she expected from herself. "I've been thinking a lot, wondering why I haven't asked anyone for explanations as much as I should. I have amnesia," she confessed. "The past few months are a mystery to me and though a few details about the people I've met in that time period have surfaced, there's still a lot that's missing. I have no idea where this egg came from and I was afraid to ask, to be reminded." She removed the amethyst ring she had been wearing since she woke up from her coma. "I can't remember who gave me this," it was the mystery dragon in question, she assumed. She tossed the ring away.

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelgadis had been returning to the castle after having a little spar with another knight of Seyruun out in the gardens. As he passed by, Amelia was walking down the hallway inside. She stopped at the window with a candle on hand and set it on the window sill as she stopped to talk to Zelgadis. It was supposed to be quick, but they got caught up and ended up talking for longer than they realized, until a small item fell from above and hit Zelgadis on the head, bouncing off his hard skull and landing on the ground beside him.

The chimera picked up the item and examined it curiously. "An amethyst ring?" It looked familiar.

"Isn't that Miss Filia's ring?" Amelia recognized it. "It was the ring Mr. Xellos gave her that she has been wearing this whole time. She must have thrown it away," being a dragon; she certainly had the arm for it. "Surely this means something; it's a sign of a coming dramatic plot twist!"

"Amelia..." Zelgadis smiled, he loved Amelia, he really did, even her overly dramatic naivete. "This isn't a soap opera." He deposited the ring into Amelia's hand.

The princess contemplated the jewelry, "I'll keep it safe for Miss Filia in case she..." pausing dramatically, Amelia rephrased, "for when she wants it back."

xoxox xox xoxox

Back at the shop's balcony, Filia continued her confession. "I was afraid that learning of the past would make me doubt the present. I was afraid that things would change, that I wouldn't be able to handle the truth. Where is he? Why isn't he here? Does he not want to be with me? Has he died? All those things worried me, but what worried me the most was his possible return. Because I can't... I don't feel anything for some mystery dragon and I don't think I would even if it wasn't a mystery. Was it a mistake of harsh times? Did the world's near apocalypse affect me to that degree? Was it all a matter of circumstance? The rush of a moment? It's too much..."

Xellos looked like he would say something, but Filia signaled for silence and continued. "I questioned myself, my priorities, my morals and my very sanity. I even questioned the existence of love itself. Then I realized I wasn't even afraid for the child, I can take care of another child just like I take care of Val. I've only been afraid for myself, because it's frustrating to have something and lose it and I don't just mean my memories. I don't want things to change. I don't want you to leave and stay away. I plan to get the full story and face the truth, but it doesn't matter what happened, what I've forgotten that perhaps you already know. I just don't want things to change and that's my biggest concern right now."

Filia dried her eyes, she didn't notice when they became moist, but the tears had stopped now anyway. She had found her resolve, it didn't matter what anyone said, it didn't matter if she remembered or not, it didn't matter what circumstances surrounded them, this was simply what she wanted.

"Stupid dragon, even with all that's going on, your biggest concern is that you miss me?" Xellos asked and Filia nodded, blushing lightly. Her emotions tasted of... affection? Deep affection? It was even beyond that... Before Xellos could speak again, Filia let out a pained whimper and felt her legs go numb, causing her to stumble into Xellos' arms.

Pain, fear, sorrow, dread, this was different than the pain and uncertainty she felt a moment ago. Fear soon dominated the other tastes as Filia fought to steady herself, her face contorted in a pained expression. "What's wrong?" Xellos urged, she was just fine a moment ago. "What's happening to you?"

"Too early..." Filia whispered breathlessly, "it's too early... ow!" She clutched her stomach with both hands, allowing Xellos to hold her on her feet. "The egg... some kind of complication... need a doctor..." she stuttered in pained alarm.

xoxox xox xoxox

Even if Filia was a dragon, Xellos' first idea was to take her to the infirmary at the Seyruun castle. He teleported her, as gently as possible and appeared in the proper location, startling a healer who was straightening out the white sheets on one of the beds after having changed them. Xellos helped Filia on to the bed, ignoring the shocked white magic specialist nurse. "Get Amelia..." Filia requested in a shaky voice.

xoxox xox xoxox

Xellos faded out of the astral side next to Amelia, who was still inside the castle, with Zelgadis still outside, their arms reaching in and out of the castle respectively, lips locked. Not caring about his rude interruption, Xellos tapped the princess on the shoulder until she parted from her fiance and gave him a curious and embarrassed look, though Zelgadis' face was a deeper crimson than Amelia's. "Filia needs medical attention." Without waiting for any replies, Xellos teleported Amelia away.

xoxox xox xoxox

The monster and the princess reappeared at the infirmary where more healers had gathered and were fussing around Filia. Amelia soon joined them, being filled in on the situation. "I'm sorry, Miss Filia, we have no experience in preventing premature eggs from being laid too early." The princess worried. "None the less we'll try our best, but..." she glanced at Xellos. Perhaps Milgazia would know what to do, he was a dragon after all and he said he'd take responsibility. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Xellos, but there's no one else I can ask. Would you please bring Mr. Milgazia here and please don't take your anger out on him."

Xellos assumed that Amelia's request was due to needing information from someone who knew about dragon biology. Milgazia, being a golden dragon himself and the elder in charge of one of the clans, had to know about dragon biology. "I know, there's no time to pick a fight now." The sabotage of his supposed relationship with Zelas would just have to wait. Thus Xellos faded away.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 144: Eventually! Sooner Or Later, One Way Or Another

"I still need an explanation for this." Milgazia demanded impatiently as he and Xellos reappeared in front of the door to the infirmary at Seyruun castle. "What do you mean there's an emergency and they need information? Who needs my information and about what?"

"Dragon biology," Xellos replied, "although, I probably should have just gotten a book or something." He opened the door slightly and peeked into the infirmary. "Hey, I brought Milgazia!"

"I said you didn't have to!" Filia yelled from her place on the bed, surrounded by healers who were fussing over her. He had not heard that, as he teleported away immediately before.

The round trip to Dragon's Peak and back took a few minutes, since Milgazia wasn't about to let Xellos teleport him away to an unknown place for an unknown reason. The monster did more arguing and threatening than explaining, which was the slower route, given that Milgazia would have gone along if he knew Filia was having an emergency. "Well I brought him anyway, you ungrateful dragon." Xellos entered the room and took notice of the very upset atmosphere.

"What's going on?" Milgazia followed Xellos in, fed up with the random unknown situation.

"Well..." Amelia was holding something in a bundle of yellow blankets. She showed it to Milgazia.

Milgazia examined the small thing that the princess held among the blankets. It was about as big as a marble, a clear sphere with some kind of shiny liquid inside. He had to take a moment to recognize what it was. "An empty egg?" A thought occurred to him and it soon spawned a theory. "I see what's going on, you drank that rare tea too. Zelas has been playing pranks on everyone."

"Tea?" Filia, Xellos and Amelia chorused in perplexity. They didn't know what tea had to do with anything, but the mention of Zelas' name especially caught their interest.

"Don't worry; this will have no further adverse effects on you." Milgazia assured and seeing that his audience was still confused, he gave them the full explanation about the tea leaves and their strange side effects on dragons. Though a empty egg would come out much sooner than a real one, as it was empty anyway. The general timing of the glow could also be a little off and in some occasions it wasn't even bright enough to be noticeable. A heavy silence invaded the atmosphere and Milgazia stated once more. "You just wanted to know if this had any side-effects, right? As I said, it's alright, considered yourself cured."

Filia finally nodded, "thank you for this information." Her emotions shifted heavily and Xellos could feel her confusion giving way to hurt and fury.

"I guess I'll take you back to Dragon's Peak then," Xellos offered, quickly leaving along with Milgazia via the astral side before Filia blew up at him.

The discomfort on Filia's face was obvious and Amelia reasoned that she might not want to be so crowded. The princess sent the healers away and just as the group in white exited, Zelgadis came in. "There you are, what happened?"

"It was just a false alarm," Amelia confessed, "an empty egg."

Catching the hint of something interesting, Filia inquired, "did you know about this?"

"Xellos told me," Zelgadis confessed. Filia wasn't sure what to say to that, but out of all her options, none of them were kind towards Xellos.

"Please remind me, who were the dragons that I was around in the past few months?" Filia requested, trying to remain calm. She'd save her outburst for Xellos.

"Well, there was Mr. Phythan," Amelia began listing off the dragons that interacted with Filia.

'Little brother,' Filia thought, that was how she saw him.

"Miss Tiffany," Amelia continued, immediately pausing when she realized she said too much.

"Tiffany?" Filia gasped.

"I'm sorry we didn't mention her before. We just thought it might be too much of a shock given that her husband is..." Amelia trailed off into silence; there was a bigger shock than that involving Tiffany, the fact that she was the host of the End, set to be sacrificed in the final battle against the Stillness, whenever it finally took place.

"I see..." Filia stuttered in surprise. She was misinformed about the topic and assumed this meant that Tiffany was living somewhere with her supposedly human husband. Getting back into the topic at hand, Filia prompted, "who else?"

"Mr. Milgazia," Amelia replied, pausing to think before concluding. "That's all of them as far as I know and we were all traveling together most of the time. For the short time we spent apart, we were in constant communication, so if you spent time with any other dragons, in more than just in passing at least, I'm pretty sure I would have known. You..." Amelia debated if she should say the next part or not, but Filia encouraged her with a nod and a look that was thirsty for information. "You spent most of your time with Mr. Xellos."

Filia let out a breath, "I guess I would somehow end up spending time with him, impending apocalypse or not." Because this wasn't a matter of circumstance or the rush of a fleeting moment, it was who they were. "Thank you for telling me all this." Filia got up.

"Don't get up so soon, Miss Filia!" Amelia tried to stop her with concern.

"It's okay, I'm fine," Filia assured. "A little sore, but alright. Milgazia said there would be no adverse effects." She forced herself to smile for the sake of not worrying her friends.

Amelia bit her lip unsure and the look of disapproval returned to Zelgadis' face. Given Zelas' supposed involvement in all of this, it was very dangerous. It might be hurtful now, but it was better to get things out in the open before something worse happened, thus the chimera confessed. "We overheard you and Milgazia talking in the gardens when he brought you that fruit basket."

"You did?" Filia wasn't sure where the comment came from, why Amelia looked so concerned or why Zelgadis looked so stern.

"Yes," Zelgadis ascertained, making it clear that it was no use to play dumb. Filia and Milgazia were putting themselves in mortal danger and he would think they were more reasonable than that. "We heard what he said about your... condition." The egg had been a false alarm, but for a false alarm to be taken so seriously there had to be a reason.

"Oh, yes, that was nice of him," Filia smiled, though she was still confused about why this topic was being brought up in such a serious tone. "He felt bad because he thought he gave me his cold, but then realized I didn't catch it after all. He felt responsible, so he brought me something to help me recover."

"A Cold?" Amelia and Zelgadis wore matching shocked expressions. They looked at Filia; they looked at each other, then back at Filia.

While the golden dragon blinked in confusion, becoming uneasy with the strange behavior of her friends, Amelia aimed to obtain a final clarification in a semi-tactful way. "Say, just out of curiosity, do you think Mr. Milgazia is... you know, being totally... er honest with Miss Zelas? You know... loyal?"

"Of course he is," Filia replied with certainty, then tried to support her claim. "I mean, he might be in a relationship with a monster, which doesn't really fit his usual diplomacy, but he's still very much a gentleman. Besides, who would be crazy enough to cheat on a monster lord?"

"Right," Amelia smiled and she and Zelgadis shared a secret look of realization. They had overheard, misunderstood and jumped to conclusions.

As the strange conversation seemed to have ended, Filia decided to go home. At least Amelia and Zelgadis appeared to be in better spirits after the unusual discussion. Seconds after Filia left, Xellos appeared, as if he was purposely waiting for her to exit the area. "I'll be taking this." He took the bundle of yellow blankets where the tiny empty egg rested, then he disappeared. Amelia and Zelgadis found the action to be very strange, but decided not to interfere.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Zelas' throne room in Wolf Pack Island. "I have brought the egg, Lord Beast Master," Xellos reported, as per the orders he had received.

He gave the yellow blanket with the egg to Zelas, who examined it curiously. "It's smaller than I expected, but I suppose it will have to do."

"It's empty," Xellos stated, though it should have been obvious. "It seems the origin of this was tea..."

"Yes, I know, I offered to clarify if you had any questions, remember?" Zelas reminded with a mocking grin.

Xellos remained composed, "of course. I guess I should have asked."

Zelas shook her head, her grin never leaving her face. "You should have answered."

Ah yes, she had asked about what was bothering him, but he had not told her the full story. To think that getting an explanation would have been that easy. Xellos chuckled, realizing that his state of ignorance was in part his own fault. "You're absolutely right, Lord Beast Master."

"Well now, to move along with the plans," Zelas handed the yellow blanket with the miniscule egg back to Xellos.

"What should I do with it?" Xellos curiously inquired and this time, if he had any doubts he would actually ask questions.

"Carefully put your energy into it," Zelas instructed.

"My energy?" Xellos wasn't expecting that. "Is this some sort of fusion-like experiment?" Remembering that he had decided to ask his questions directly, Xellos further inquired. "Can I have a full explanation?"

"There was a creature mostly astral, part monster and part dragon. The being was created on accident by the enemy in an attempt to steal your power," Zelas revealed. "However, having been made from your energy, mixed with that of your pet, the creature recognized you as its master. His name is Solex, your freaky half-dragon little minion. Unfortunately, he was unstable and came close to being ruined. Using knowledge recovered from Rezo's lost research, we salvaged his soul and now he needs a new vessel. The egg will serve as a material for the vessel. A machine has already been constructed where it can be made to grow with closely controlled chaotic energy. A little can be beneficial, though too much would tear him apart in this stage. It is far too early to say if your minion will make it out alive or not, there are no guarantees as things stand now. Even so, if this project is successful, it is likely that he will be able to reach a sufficiently stable state so that he doesn't fall apart again."

Xellos was in shock to say the least. He had his own minion, not simply a monster placed under his command, but one that recognized him as his master for reasons beyond his rank. This Solex was half-dragon no less, quite a rarity indeed. Albeit by the sounds of it there was a possibility that he might not have a minion after all. "That was... unexpected." Xellos admitted. Well, he might as well get this project on its way; a minion meant all the more power to Beast Master, all the more power to him and an extra trickster to train, which might turn out to be amusing.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Seyruun, Filia couldn't sleep; she stood at her shop's balcony contemplating the recent events with fury. She was so stressed, so hurt, and Xellos knew about the whole thing the entire time? He must have been having a feast. She was so angry at him right now she had trouble maintaining her elf form as her tail swished around behind her in furious movements. Then the source of her rage appeared floating before her and soon after had the nerve to land on the balcony next to her. "Xellos," Filia growled.

"Hey, stupid dragon," Xellos greeted with a cheerful grin. "That's a whole lot of wrath you have there, it's very delicious, but do you mind toning down the sorrow, I would prefer the pure wrath." His remark somewhat helped accomplish that. "Ah, much better."

"You horrible piece of raw garbage!" Filia yelled. "Do you have any idea what I went through? How upset I was? Of course you do, you can taste emotions so how could you miss it? I was losing my mind thinking about how illogical everything was. Then, when I finally decided what I would do, it turns out I was being played for a fool!"

"Actually, I didn't know about the truth either," Xellos pointed out calmly. Filia froze, her face was still red with anger, but she fell silent as he continued. "Beast Master offered to tell me, but I decided not to inquire about it least I be a little too tempted to turn your mystery dragon into cuisine. Funny how it turned out there was no mystery dragon after all."

"But you were there with me!" Filia argued. "Amelia told me we spent a lot of time together in the past few months. If anything major happened in my life you would have noticed!" She insisted.

"I'm sure I did notice," Xellos accepted. He swiftly added another argument before Filia's rage made her lose her elf form completely; he could see her fangs and claws showing. "But I don't remember. I have amnesia too, the past few months are a big blank to me. I only know a summary of the events which Beast Master told me."

Filia's rage shifted to focus only on one target. "Beast Master," she growled. "Did she do this for her amusement? She's gone too far!"

"If you don't calm down you'll end up destroying your shop, stupid dragon!" Xellos reminded. He didn't want to say anything so soon, but it looked like it was the only way to calm Filia's rage. "I asked Beast Master about this. She told me I had a minion before, one that was created during the time we can't remember. He was dying and she needed a new vessel for him. At this point, there's no guarantee that it will work, but there's a possibility that it might."

With only that explanation, Filia didn't fully understand the nature of this mysterious minion and why an empty golden dragon egg would be of any help, but that was not the point. "If it was to save someone's life, the life of someone important to you, I would have helped. It didn't have to be this way!"

"Beast Master has a reason for everything she does," Xellos tried to explain.

"Maybe she just wanted a meal!" Filia growled. Her rage was subsiding in realizing that the whole plot wasn't really Xellos' doing.

"Maybe, I suppose I'll ask her later," Xellos mused aloud. "Look on the bright side, stupid dragon."

Filia breathed deeply. Her tail was now still, having ceased it's violent swishing as her temper cooled off. "What's the bright side?"

"You were all stressed out about me not coming back." Xellos reminded with a teasing grin of satisfaction. Filia blushed and tried to come up with an argument, but she could not do so on time before Xellos continued. He opened one eye, expression amused. "I'm here and you can't get rid of me."

With her face still red, albeit it went from being from anger to a different cause, Filia looked away and grumbled in an annoying, yet somewhat happy tone. "I'm not sure if that's good or bad." She felt a great wave of relief in that things were seemingly back to normal. Noticing a peculiar detail, she brought it up, as she didn't want the silence between them to last too long. "You don't have the dragon doll keychain on your bag anymore."

"That little one had an accident involving fire," Xellos chuckled, his expression going from real amusement to a mask of cheer with both eyes closed. "Will you make me another one?"

Filia huffed and placed her hands on her hips. "No way! If you can't take good care of the things people give you, don't expect any more presents in the future!"

"Fine, be that way." The mask of cheer changed back to real amusement, one eye open again. "I guess I'll just have to keep the real one."

xoxox xox xoxox

A few days later at Dragon's Peak, Milgazia admired the pretty yet troublesome cursed jewel. Humans kept fighting for it and by a twist of fate the gigantic diamond ended up in his hands. It was nothing but trouble, but due to the magic placed on it to make it so strong and exquisite, destroying it would be quite difficult. Perhaps he could simply hide it somewhere. He wouldn't keep it so close to his clan, the sense of greed it produced on all creatures that stayed near it was too strong. It only worked on creatures of flesh and blood though, so at least there wouldn't be any monsters showing up to try to claim it affected by its evil enchantment.

Milgazia recalled that this was not the only such jewel that was in such a situation. There was also a tiara held by a human princess centuries earlier, a mere hundred years after the War of the Monster's Fall. The princess, who valued the tiara more than her kingdom and her very life, had run away to the Kataart Mountains to keep it safe from the thievery of neighboring countries that started a war over it. That was a very troublesome occasion, to say the least. Xellos had gone to see what the fuss was about and ended up claiming the tiara as a gift for Beast Master.

Ironically, after the tiara was taken away and hidden, Milgazia assumed deep in Wolf Pack Island, the fighting ceased and those affected by its greed were released from it, as its enchantment became out of range. The princess set out to restore the kingdom and the neighboring countries made peace. Milgazia wondered if Zelas would send Xellos to reintroduce the troublesome tiara into the human world and allow battles to rage over it, but she didn't. Perhaps she took a liking to the well crafted jewelry and decided to keep it to herself, even if she was, being a purely astral creature, immune to its hypnotic effect of desire.

Milgazia traced his fingers over the smooth surface of the large diamond. A golden band was attached to the bottom of it, though the thought of wearing such a large gem as a ring was ridiculous, since it was about the size of a fist. He assumed that the ring, though wide enough to accommodate the slender finger of a woman, was probably used to slip a chain through, so the huge diamond could be worn in a necklace. He felt the jewel's incantation trying to pull him in, to break his determination not to greed for it.

This wasn't a weapon and the only way it could be used as such was by offering its temptation, but as long as it existed it would offer its temptation regardless. It was the kind of strong and unreasonable temptation that, once one fell into it, they would go to such extremes that being manipulated by someone else would not be possible due to lack of reasoning. The pursuit of the jewel would be everything and the one tempted by it would not be patient enough to work for it, but rather try to obtain it by force, even if it was suicide. 'Sometimes the safest place for a dangerous treasure is in the hands of the enemy,' Milgazia mused. He would rid the world of the danger of the large diamond in the same way as the tiara was disposed of.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 145: Restore! The Sparkle Of The Silver Lining

Filia let out a deep breath as she leaned back in her tub and relaxed on the early afternoon of February fourteen. She was still upset over a few aspects of the recent happenings, but she was overall, feeling better. She had inquired more about what happened during the time she couldn't remember with Amelia suggesting that she got the full story from Xellos. She had mentioned that they spent a lot of time together, so Filia assumed that was the reason for the princess' suggestion. Obviously, she didn't know that Xellos had amnesia too. Filia didn't mention it. She didn't prolong the morning conversation too much, since Amelia surely had plans with Zelgadis.

Lina would soon return to Seyruun for a visit and Filia intended to ask her for information too, since she had been, as in the past, leading the group of adventurers as far as Filia understood. Plus the redhead would probably be more direct than Amelia anyway. As for Jillas and Gravos, they were not there while Filia was traveling last year, so they would be telling her a story based on a story, a retelling of a retelling, making it likely for more details to be lost.

Taking in the sweet scent of the candle she had placed in a corner of the bathroom, Filia allowed herself to sink a little deeper into the tub, the water up to her neck as she laid in it. Then she heard it, "emergency!" That was Xellos' voice. Filia was startled and instinctively sat up as he once again called out, "emergency!" Then he suddenly appeared, fading out of the astral side right in front of her tub.

Filia gasped, her face scarlet in embarrassment and anger at the invasion of her personal space. She lowered herself into the tub as much as she could with one arm over her chest, using the other to throw a bar of soap at Xellos. "Get out!" The flying soap was soon followed by a bottle of shampoo and any other solid objects Filia could get her hands on without leaving the tub. "Get out!" Filia paused as Xellos disappeared again. She stared at the floor where a pile of clothes were left where he was a split second prior. Those were Xellos' clothes, but where was he?

Splash! Filia jumped, startled again, and turned to face the other end of the tub, her arms folded over her chest, knees bent against her body. There was Xellos, naked in the tub with her. Filia was about to yell, but Xellos reached over to her first, his hands on her shoulders as he leaned his face close to hers. "Filia, we have an emergency!" He insisted with great urgency, both eyes open showing something akin to terror.

"You... you're..." Filia stuttered, unable to find something sufficiently insulting to say. She settled for her usual "raw garbage!"

"Yes, I get it, I saw you, you saw me, we're even, get over it." Xellos insisted as he drew Filia closer. "We have a big emergency on our hands. That stupid, infuriating, disgusting dragon elder Milgazia gave Beast Master an engagement ring!" Milgazia had called it a gift of peaceful diplomacy, but Xellos' spying position was too far away to hear. Zelas had thought it was silly, but the jewel was very beautiful, so she accepted it.

"What?" Filia gasped, "they're engaged? That's terrible!" She loudly exclaimed. "When are they getting married, how long do we have to stop the wedding?"

"I don't know," Xellos admitted. "I came here to tell you the horrible news right away. I'll go find out!" He disappeared, just as suddenly as he came.

Filia released the breath she didn't even realize she was holding. She reached for a towel and wrapped it around herself as she got out of the tub. Then Xellos appeared again, teleporting right in front of her in the same state of undress in which he had left, picked up his clothes from the floor and faded away again. Filia almost dropped her towel in surprise. "You piece of raw garbage! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" She finished drying herself off and dressed before Xellos decided to pop out again, trying her best to make her wildly beating heart slow down to a normally paced rhythm.

xoxox xox xoxox

Next to the brass rackets court in the surface of Wolf Pack Island, Zelas and Milgazia had, because of the gift, gotten into a conversation on the subject of diplomacy. She pointed out that diplomats were supposed to amuse each other and he actually offered to tell her a joke. Intrigued, Zelas listened. Unfortunately for her, she didn't know how terribly dull Milgazia's jokes were. Memphis found them to be funny and some of the dragons did too, but Lina had said in a past occasion that his jokes would probably cause some serious pain for astral beings. Milgazia thought that humans simply didn't understand dragon jokes, but given that Zelas had been around for so many years, she would surely understand his joke.

There she stood, feeling terribly nauseated, though she tried not to show any outward signs of it as she kept a frozen expression like a statue. That hurt, it actually hurt, it wasn't enough to really injure her, but it was very unpleasant. She didn't want Milgazia or anyone to know of how powerful the mental strain of such a horrible joke could be, so Zelas resolved not to act rashly, but it was too late. Though her face remained still, her body had reacted automatically in the same cliche yet effective action often taken by a woman who had been in some way offended. She slapped him.

Realizing that there was no way to pretend she wasn't annoyed now, Zelas growled a simple, but very commanding, "leave." This time she allowed her face to show her murderous anger. She would come up with an explanation for this later if Milgazia had the nerve to question her actions. For now, she just wanted to be alone so she could compose herself. Milgazia did not push his luck, he was no fool. He swiftly retreated and didn't look back a single time, as he flew away from Wolf Pack Island full speed.

Xellos watched the scene from afar; he was at a safe enough distance not to have heard the joke. A wave of relief washed over him, a slap on the face was a sure sign of a refusal. Zelas must have never wanted a formal relationship, Xellos mused. Since Xellos left to vent to Filia so soon, he missed part of their argument. He reasoned that Milgazia must have insisted on the proposal and Zelas made it clear that it was over by slapping him. This was great! He had to tell Filia.

xoxox xox xoxox

By the time Xellos returned to the shop, Filia was fully dressed, coincidentally wearing the dress he got her last Christmas. She was almost done brushing her hair. He faded out of the astral side, making her drop her brush. Without even bothering to scold him for startling her yet again, she inquired impatiently. "What did you find out?"

Xellos was smiling as he opened one eye and delivered the news. Yet even before he said anything Filia knew something favorable must have taken place. He was obviously feeling much better than a few minutes ago. This wasn't just a cheerful mask, this was real relief. "They broke up!" He happily exclaimed. "She refused him, slapped him and sent him away with his tail between his claws!" Xellos laughed a mocking cheerful laughter.

"Wow," was all that Filia could say. She should have been glad, she should be sharing in Xellos' euphoria, but she wasn't so sure if the news was good or bad after all. She felt sorry for Milgazia being played like that, but at least the terrible relationship was over before it brought about worse consequences.

Two young voices called out, "mommy!" and "aunty Filia!" as Val and Palou made their way upstairs. They found the door to Filia's room was open, seeing her and Xellos inside and let themselves in. Since it was Valentine's Day, Filia offered to take care of the boys so everyone else could enjoy a romantic afternoon.

Smiling, Filia asked them, "are you ready to have a fun afternoon!"

"Yes!" The boys cheered in response.

The golden dragon glanced at Xellos, mentioning what was by now obvious. "I'm taking care of the boys this afternoon so..." She wasn't sure what she wanted to say. Was she going to ask him not to cause trouble for her, or maybe...

"I don't have any plans for today; I guess I'll tag along." Filia didn't protest to Xellos' decision. Val and Palou seemed happy that he was coming too, so she decided it was best to present no opposition, even if it meant she would probably spend the rest of the day trying to stop Xellos from causing trouble and teaching the boys how to be tricksters like him. Filia didn't know how right she was.

xoxox xox xoxox

More than a few dates around the city were sabotaged with everything from sneaking hot sauce into the shared milkshakes of couples who were too distracted looking into each other's eyes, to some minor water related spells to make a few people cool off when they rather stay dry. Filia tried her best to keep her mischievous companions from causing too much trouble, but that usually ended up with Xellos distracting her with something or other and sending his little apprentices to do the mischief in his place.

Filia was determined not to allow herself to be distracted and though she didn't really fall for the distractions, they still worked due to the fact that she couldn't hold the hands of two very hyper boys and get Xellos' arms off her body all at the same time. More than once she resolved to hold hands with Val and Palou no matter what Xellos did, but when the hugs turned to kisses she had to let them go and get Xellos' teasing under control.

After she returned home later that night and the boys went to sleep, Filia went to her balcony and looked at the calm city. She was in a pleasant mood despite the apologies she had to come up with when the boys got caught and she was pointed out to be the one responsible for them. Thankfully, that didn't happen too often and towards the later half of their outing, the boys didn't get caught at all, though their pranks had become more daring. Their trickster skills were clearly developing.

Leaning on the balcony of her shop, Filia breathed, "you're a bad influence." Despite the way her afternoon and evening went or perhaps more so because of it, she was in a good mood.

"Am I, really?" Xellos sounded as if he had no idea what Filia was talking about, though he obviously did. He wrapped his arms around her waist, finding no resistance against the motion.

She turned around to face him, surprised at herself for returning the embrace so openly. He kissed her and it felt comfortable and familiar. It wasn't simply because they had kissed before during the play, there was something else to it, but Filia couldn't quite put her finger on it. For the time being she didn't overanalyze it and just enjoyed the moment.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next day, Filia was happily putting out some new vases, arranging them neatly in her shop shelves when a most unexpected visitor arrived. Filia nearly dropped the vase in her hands, just barely managing to hold on to it. Then she clutched it so hard it almost shattered.

"Careful, you're about to break that." Zelas pointed at the vase with the end of her cigarette, depositing its ashes into the cracked vase Filia was holding.

Frowning deeply, Filia set the cracked, ash-filled vase on the shelf nearest to her and placed her hands on her hips. Before she said something that was probably very foolish given who she was talking to, Val ran up the stairs, speaking before he even reached the second floor completely. "Uncle Phil is giving Palou and me martial arts lessons, so we're going to the castle gardens!" Noticing the presence of Zelas, little Val went over to her. He wasn't sure what to say, since he was still playing secret around his mother, thus he settled for greeting her by saying, "that is a secret." Filia didn't know how to react, she froze, worried for Val.

"Ah yes, I am a woman of many secrets indeed." Zelas patted Val on the head, who smiled up at her. "Go play now, you don't want to be late for your lessons." With that simple statement, Val was safely sent away, off to spend the day with Palou and Phil learning the pacifist crush.

The scare made Filia more aware of the danger. She couldn't let her temper get the best of her with Zelas, but she could, at the very least, show her displeasure, she simply had to. "Have you come to pick on me?"

Zelas laughed, "a tempting offer, but no. I wanted to show you something." She dropped her cigarette on the floor and Filia stepped on it to put it out before anything caught on fire. "Come see," Zelas didn't invite, she ordered. Before Filia could protest, she was ceased by the wrist and teleported away.

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelas and Filia reappeared at Wolf Pack Island in front of a peculiar machine with spinning gears and a glass orb. Inside the orb there was what appeared to be a dragon egg with black energy swirling within it. "Do you recognize it?" The monster lord inquired.

A strong perplexity made its way into Filia's emotional spectrum to coexist with her still present rage. She looked into the glass, not daring to touch it. "It's the egg I laid, but it's bigger now." She focused on it, trying to concentrate in sensing its energy, it was alive. "This is Xellos' minion? Why this way?"

"He was a half-dragon from the start, an accidental creation of the enemy triggered by an involuntary defense mechanism of Xellos' power." Zelas explained in a calm and neutral tone. "Xellos later recognized Solex as his own person, since the master's recognition is vital for the minion to truly exist, to have an identity."

Filia caught most of what Zelas said, but she was only half listening. She leaned closer to the glass orb and finally reached over to touch it. It felt chaotic, yet not overwhelmingly so. She left her palms resting against the glass as she stared at the growing egg inside the magical machine. "Solex..." she whispered quietly. She felt a wave of emotion overtake her, as if she had been missing this boy without knowing it. "Solex..." Monster or not, beast minion or not, she wanted him to be safe, she wanted him to be happy. "He is half dragon," Filia stated, still looking at the egg. "As such, he might have certain necessities that a monster does not." The golden dragon left the sentence at that and looked back at Zelas.

"Do you feel attachment towards this creature? Are you offering to assist in the fulfillment of such necessities?" Zelas inquired, though the look in Filia's eyes already made it obvious.

"Yes, but I want to ask you something first." Filia dared to request.

Curious about what her question could be, Zelas nodded, "you may."

"Xellos said that you had a reason for everything you did," Filia recalled. "I think he's right, although that doesn't mean it's a justifiable reason. Even so, I wanted to ask for what reason you kept the situation about the empty egg a secret from both of us."

"Xellos inquired about that before. It seems he forgot to mention it or simply didn't care to tell you, since you're so unimportant," Zelas mocked.

Filia remained unfazed. With all that had been going on she could assume that Xellos just forgot to comment on the matter. It's not like she brought up the subject to him anyway. "Would you tell me the reason?" She tried to sound as neutral and diplomatic as she could so as to not further feed Zelas with her anger, though the wrath was still boiling inside her.

"It was for Solex benefit," Zelas revealed. "Dragon eggs are sensitive, I've heard. Exposing the egg to negative emotions would make it easier for it to absorb Xellos' monster energy later, to be a little more stable. This combination of dragon and monster is Solex new vessel, his soul now rests inside the egg. This is all that can be done to restore my minion. A lot of it will depend on his own subconscious desire to exist now."

Filia looked into the glass orb again. "It was necessary for Solex, you're not lying," she concluded.

"Deception by combining truth and silence is a test of wit, but lies are for the cowardly." Zelas stated in a calm yet strong tone. "If you lack the courage to state the truth or if the truth is counterproductive, don't say anything at all, or offer another truth in its place."

"That is a secret," Filia voiced Xellos' usual quote.

"Those words are very true in many situations," Zelas ascertained. "Here's another truth, though I took a deceiving approach for Solex's benefit, I think I would have taken the same action anyway if only for my own amusement."

Filia already expected this. "That's mean to Xellos' too," she frowned.

"I know, I pick on him sometimes too," Zelas grinned. "He's my favorite little minion, but I can't let my precious general priest become too overconfident and spoiled. It might diminish his defenses if he's in his comfort zone for too long and I can't have him getting hurt because of it. It's a pity that he cannot remember his full potential, the special ability that I allowed him to have."

Filia huffed, "that sounded almost caring."

Tilting her head in curious amusement Zelas looked directly into Filia's eyes and inquired. "Are you trying to insult me or compliment me?"

Filia wasn't sure how to answer to that. Instead she asked, "the special ability you allowed him to have?"

Zelas ignored Filia's lack of answer in favor of moving on to the real reason for their meeting. "It's a defense of sorts, albeit someone like you would say it's much more. You would know if you had your memories. Speaking of which, I know of a method to recover them and I am willing to assist you with that if you do a little something for me." She paused with a chuckle, seeing Filia's suspicious expression. "It's nothing too difficult, nothing beyond your low level of skill," Zelas mocked.

"Yuna Wolf," Beast Master's alternate identity as a supposedly human brass rackets athlete, "has been invited to participate in a brass rackets tournament organized by several past participants from the official women's tournament which I won. Even if my place in the upcoming male-female world-wide tournament is already decided, they want another chance to prove their skills I guess. Since this is an all women competition, I need a female partner to play brass rackets with me." There was a reason why Beast Master couldn't tell Xellos to wear a disguise and tag along with her, but she didn't think it was currently relevant, so she didn't mention it.

The topic of the tournament made Filia wonder if Zelas would still play brass rackets with Milgazia even if they supposedly broke up. Cautiously, Filia decided not to bring up the subject of Milgazia. She was intrigued and full of suspicion, along with the distinct feeling of having no choice. "Alright, I'll be your brass rackets partner for that one competition."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 146: Rescue! Break Free And Rise Up

Filia frowned as she glared at the ground. She made a small hole in it and deposited a seed into it, then proceeded to cover the seed with dirt. She never would have guessed she would end up in such a situation. Tomorrow was the day when she had given Zelas her word concerning a temporary partnership for a women's brass rackets tournament, as for today, she was stuck in jail. The rumors came and went about a rare type of particularly delicious apples called banoras, reappearing in their world after they were thought to have been extinct. Filia went to investigate, but ended stopping for directions in the wrong town, a town that did not like dragons. She was quickly taken to jail, detained to await her trial.

At least they didn't automatically believe all dragons were evil, though they did distrust them. The trial was supposed to decide if she was a good or evil dragon. Though Filia could certainly overpower her captors with ease, she didn't. Determined to contribute to the human's positive view on dragons by showing she was good, Filia didn't try to fight back or run away. Thus that led her to her current position, doing forced agricultural labor in a loose fitting dress that looked more like a knee length shirt with black and white stripes. The field was next to the jail building, surrounded by tall brick walls and alert guards.

A few drops of water landed on Filia's head, though it was not raining. Apparently someone thought it was funny to steal her watering can and use it to water her head. Glaring dangerously, Filia stood upright and glared at the person who had arrived to annoy her. Her scolding voice dissolved in her throat as her mouth remained open and wordless. Xellos was grinning at her with the watering can on hand, wearing the same kind of silly black and white striped dress she was wearing, except that one was smaller, hugging feminine curves that shouldn't even be there. A black dragon tail was sticking out of the skirt with a purple bow on it. "What are you doing here?" Filia finally found her voice.

"I came to visit you," Xellos replied in a very girly voice. "I went to your shop first but you weren't there, so I looked around until I found you. Even with all the teleporting, it took me all day." It was evening now and Filia had flown out of Seyruun very early in the morning. "Too weak to escape?"

"No," Filia's explanation was interrupted by a guard calling out to them to stop being lazy. Filia went back to planting seeds as she explained, while Xellos watered them. "I want to prove I'm a good dragon, so I'm not going to escape." Granted that the trial took place tonight as a guard had mentioned earlier, because she really couldn't go back on her word to Zelas.

"Stupid dragon," Xellos watered another of the seeds as he chuckled mockingly, amused by Filia's stubborn predicament. She was in no real danger as she could very easily escape at any moment.

"You can say whatever you want; I've already made my choice, raw garbage." Filia stubbornly insisted. A few more seconds passed in silence until she inquired with mild curiosity. "Is that a disguise or did you just shape shift into a girl?"

Xellos leaned down slightly and whispered in a male voice so that only Filia could hear. "From that angle, you should be able to figure it out."

Filia immediately shot to her feet, making it clear she wasn't trying to look up his skirt. "I wasn't looking!" She shouted, getting odd stares from the other prisoners and a few reprimanding shouts from the guards.

Assuming that the two who were to the best of their misled knowledge both dragons, were plotting something sinister, one of the guards urged. "We should put them in maximum security solitary confinement!"

"But we only have one maximum security solitary confinement cell and there's two of them." Another guard reminded.

"We'll put them both on that solitary confinement cell then," the first guard insisted. "They're both girls, so they can be cellmates."

"Then the confinement wouldn't be solitary any more," the other guard pointed out and was ignored. The first guard only glared, as there was nothing more to argue against that logic.

xoxox xox xoxox

A few minutes later, Filia and the disguised Xellos were escorted to a lonely cell with no windows save for the small one of the heavy metal door, which only showed the dark empty hallway. Filia blamed everything on Xellos and was pouting and glaring with the silent promise of giving him an earful when the guards left them alone. After the guards locked them up and left, Filia glared though she couldn't see anything in the pitch black darkness of the cell. The hallway previously lit by an orb of light held by one of the guards was now in total darkness, as was the small enclosed space of the cell. Before Filia could reproach Xellos for their situation, her stomach growled loudly.

"Sounds like someone wants to devour some humans." Xellos teased, speaking in a normal tone of voice, since the guards were not there to hear him anyway.

"Shut up and give me your apple," Filia grumbled. It probably wasn't a banora, but it would do.

"Apple?" Xellos questioned curiously.

"Apple, orange, whatever," Filia insisted impatiently. They had not given her any food all day just because she was a dragon and she was cranky.

"I think the term you're looking for is banana," Xellos teasingly suggested.

"Bananas aren't round," Filia pointed out as a matter of fact. "Lina told me that Gourry once use fruit as part of his female disguise."

"So you just wanted food?" Xellos asked sounding purposely disappointed.

"What else would I be talking a-" realization fell upon Filia and her face turned red. "I didn't mean it like that and you know it!" Crossing her arms in indignation, regardless of whether or not the gesture was seen, Filia argued. "You've been taking too many liberties in teasing me lately, ever since the fourteenth." Her face turned a deeper shade of scarlet at the thought.

"You mean since our little make out session at the balcony?" Xellos poured more innocence into his tone than such a statement could possibly merit.

"It wasn't a make out session!" Filia shouted, her face felt very warm and she was sure that the majority of her blood had accumulated in her cheeks. "It was... it was just kissing..." Her suddenly soft voice regained its normal volume. "Besides, you were being forward before that."

"You mean the tub incident?" Xellos reminded with a chuckle. He had been very stressed at the time and didn't have a moment to properly enjoy it. But now that his stress was gone, looking back on it, it was fun.

"And after that too," Filia stuttered while she mentally told her brain to stop bringing back recorded images without her conscious request.

"Admit it, you enjoyed our little afternoon out in the city," Xellos teased. "Besides, all that happened after you declared you're hopelessly in love with me."

"I never said that!" Filia yelled. Her face felt burning hot with a mix of intense emotions that no doubt about it, Xellos could taste. Then it donned on her. "What... What do I taste like right now?"

Taking it as an invitation, Xellos wrapped his arms around Filia, pulling her close against his body, which was not in disguise anymore, and kissed her. She was taken by surprised, but opposed no resistance, instead responding to the kiss. Their eagerness increased, but they were interrupted by approaching footsteps and a faint light that became clearer as the one holding it got closer.

They quickly parted, standing a neutral distance from each other quietly. By the time the guard reached the small window of the massive cell door and peeked in, Xellos was already back in disguise. "The preparations for the trials have been finished," the guard announced. "Your trials will take place in a month. Until then, you'll stay here."

"A month!" Filia exclaimed in upset disbelief. She was still a little breathless from her previous activity, but the guard had no clue about that and attributed her state to irritation. "I'm considered innocent until proven guilty. How can you detain an innocent person for a month? That's ridiculous! Besides, you said the trial would be ready to night!"

"I said the trial preparations would be ready tonight." The guard sternly corrected, trying to hide the fear that attempted to surface, given that the prisoners were dragons. "By that I mean the paperwork and scheduling, not the actual trial." Leaving Filia to protest, the guard swiftly left.

After the guard was gone, Filia huffed and stomped her feet in anger. Her tail was out and she looked just about ready to go on a rampage. Xellos' affirmation interrupted her angry growls. "To answer your earlier question, you taste just as disgusting as ever." He teased, the sarcasm turning it from a lie to a joke, though he knew she had been referring to her emotions when she asked before.

Filia mentally counted to ten and tried to keep her temper in check. With a huge effort, she retained most of her elf-like features, though her tail was still out. "Take me home."

"Home? Really? Are you sure that's what you want?" He continued teasing her.

Filia caught the meaning and blushed, though instead of getting angrier, Xellos' teasing helped to calm her this time. "I mean take me to Seyruun, raw garbage!"

"I'm not going to do a favor for you if you don't ask me nicely," Xellos teased.

"I have to do something for Zelas tomorrow. I need to get a goodnight's sleep!" Filia argued. "If I mess up because I'm tired, it'll be your fault. You don't want to disappoint Beast Master, do you?"

Xellos noted with abundant curiosity that Filia wasn't just making up an excuse. Her emotions tasted of honesty and real concern. "What are you doing for Beast Master?"

With a stubborn look of playful vengeance upon her face, Filia replied, moving her right index finger from side to side in front of her face. "That is a secret."

"That's copyright infringement." Unexpectedly, Xellos tackled Filia into the bunk attached to the wall. He laid on top of her and kissed her, going from her mouth, down her neck.

"Stop it, raw garbage, I'm serious." Filia laughed, wrapping her arms around him to pull him closer. How did it come to this? She had a feeling that it was useless to try to explain it, because no matter what series of events took place, the end result would always be the same, it was simply who they were. It was something that was set in motion, perhaps inevitably, from the time they met and would, sooner or later, one way or another, develop. "Xellos, just where do we stand?"

"No where," he replied coolly.

"What do you mean no where?" Filia's quick temper flared and she tried to push him off of her to sit up. Instead she ended up throwing Xellos off the narrow bunk and to the floor, losing her balance and landing on top of him.

Though she was as lively as always, Xellos could taste no disappointment or worry in Filia, as if deep down she knew better than to expect a straight answer. "Stupid dragon, how can we stand anywhere when we're both laying down?" He mocked.

"Don't make stupid jokes, raw garbage!" Filia half-shouted, with no real anger.

"Don't ask stupid questions," Xellos shot back.

Filia adjusted her position to be more comfortable as a bittersweet thought occurred to her. "We're hypocrites," she mused aloud.

"What stupid randomness goes through your empty head now?" Xellos curiously asked, caught off guard by her unusual comment.

"We spent so much time and effort trying to make Zelas and Milgazia break up because they're a monster and a dragon." Filia explained, with guilt invading her emotions. "It's true that in the end their relationship failed, but if we were going to overtake that mission, it should have been for different reasons. Actually, there's no excuse, we should have just let them handle things on their own. It just feels hypocritical that we plotted sabotage and now we're doing this."

"This? As in that?" Xellos inquired with a seductive grin.

"I'm being serious!" Filia reprimanded, though she still formed a smile. It was useless to feel guilty, their relationship sabotage mission failed anyway. Suddenly, the whole building vibrated, making Filia think it was an earthquake. For a second she thought it was the Stillness, as massive earthquakes had been mentioned in the stories about it. She froze as she listened to the distant echo of the guards panicking. However, she soon realized that the shaking had not been from an earthquake after all. "What was that?"

Filia's question was soon answered as a hole was punched through the wall with Xellos teleporting them away at the last second. They reappeared outside of the main building in the yard within the tall brick walls. There was a very angry looking white dragon there, while a golden dragon approached from the distance.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, at the marketplace of that very same town, Lina and Gourry had been following clues trying to locate an establishment that sold banoras. They were said to be rare and delicious so they had to try them. "I don't want regular apples!" Lina yelled at the merchant who insisted on offering to sell her apples at extraordinary prices.

"That's what I'm trying to explain, miss," the apple merchant, who answered to the name of Won, insisted. "These are not ordinary apples!" He was wearing yellow clothing with a silly hat; he had black hair in a braid and glasses.

"Just because you give them fancy long names doesn't make them anything other than regular apples!" Lina argued. "Besides, all I wanted were directions to Banora!" She growled with frustration. "Stupid incomplete maps. Just because a village is tiny doesn't mean it can be omitted, especially if it has good food!"

Gourry spotted a white dragon landing near a building in the outskirts of town. "Look, Lina, a dragon," he pointed at the large flying creature that could be seen in the light of the full moon. Another dragon, that one golden, approached in the distance. "Two dragons... the white one looks mad."

The white dragon had begun to tare the building apart, which caused a panic to erupt in the town. The frightened merchant clutched his bag of apples and ran away, one of the apples falling out unnoticed. Lina picked up the apple, cleaning it with her cape and took a bite as she watched the chaos unfold. "That golden dragon that just arrived looks like Phythan. We might as well go see what's going on."

xoxox xox xoxox

Phythan landed near Kirei, who was on a rampage. "Miss Kirei, please stop making such a mess!" Onyx was riding on his back, holding on in an attempt not to fall off. "We were just supposed to be looking for banoras, not destroying random towns! I know it's frustrating that we haven't been able to find them, but-"

"Quiet, this doesn't concern you!" Kirei growled. "Don't you see my time is almost over? I won't die without revenge!" She could feel the force inside her eating away at her very soul faster by the second. Her will was fading, she had nothing but anger.

Phythan frowned, insisting on his argument, "Milgazia said-"

"I don't care what he said!" Kirei roared. "This is all I have." She glared at Xellos. "My vengeance for that insect!"

The purple haired monster was no longer in the silly black and white striped dress, but back in his normal clothes. "Your emotions have changed; you're not a firecracker anymore. It's as if you've given up. What's eating you, Kirei?"

"A monster," Kirei replied with sad anger, though this was different from a monster, she saw it as such. "This monster overtook me on the same day that the planet was restored. It keeps draining me away and I cannot get rid of it. I will die soon, but not before getting my revenge on you! The only good thing about being possessed is that I'll be powerful enough to do this; or rather it will do it for me. It was even able to track you down, you have no escape! Monster of nothingness, become tainted with my will and carry out my vengeance!" Darkness surrounded Kirei, her white scales becoming a translucent black. She no longer feared being consumed, she embraced it. Milgazia suspected something, but held insufficient proof. The glow around Kirei changed to silver until it consumed her and all that was left was a silver mist.

Lina arrived on the scene via Ray Wing along with Gourry. "That's the Void!" They recognized it. "No wonder Shabranigdu was still somewhat unresponsive, he was guarding against this creature." The mist disappeared, though a feeling of emptiness hung heavily in the air.

"Miss Kirei... where did she go?" Phythan changed back into his elf form without warning, to more directly address his friends.

As a result of the transformation, Onyx got caught in his cloak, since she was riding on him before. "Think before you transform, stupid!" She had another rare outburst of emotion as she untangled herself from him with a rosy tint on her face.

"Oh my!" Filia exclaimed, "you still have no modesty!"

"Sorry," Phythan apologized, though he wasn't entirely sure what he was apologizing for. He was slightly less naive now than when the adventure started several months ago, but he was still pretty naive overall and the concept of modesty still escaped him.

The silvery mist reappeared again, suddenly around Filia. She gasped and made a choking noise. Xellos tried to get rid of the creature that attacked her, but instead he was thrown back by the force of a powerful astral attack. "Xel... Xellos..." Filia felt her senses fading.

"Be more careful, Xellos. You don't have a physical shield against the Void's attacks right now," Lina warned with great urgency. Of course, there had to be a reason for her unusual concern for Xellos. "I still have a few more months of bodyguard salary to earn and I won't get paid if you're dead!" Though she had stopped guarding him, especially now that he was a monster again, Lina was still getting paid monthly, even if his curse was cured. That meant that she would be expected to do something about it if Xellos ever needed any backup.

'Revenge... revenge...' A voice in Filia's head chanted, sounding vaguely like Kirei, but also very different at the same time. 'Her will tainted me, her will for revenge... It doesn't matter if she wouldn't have understood why killing you is revenge on him, she is dead anyway. Only I will remain, only the Void. When I fulfill her vengeance, her tainted will shall fade away from me and only nothingness will remain, a nothingness that will consume my enemies. Death to those who oppose the Stillness!'

"Phythan, try exorcising the Void out of Filia with holy magic!" Lina commanded, assuming the position of leader that she would always claim was rightfully hers.

"Right!" Phythan began to chant a spell, pouring all his power into it. "Ivory beyond white, everlasting infinite light, brightness that pierces the night, by your endless power destiny ignites. Let the world be purified by your might, Heaven Light!" Both Phythan and Filia were surrounded by a bright golden light, but it wasn't enough.

"Lina," Xellos rejoined the group, though he still had not fully recovered from the strong attack he recently received. "What is that thing doing to Filia?" His eyes were open, expression angered.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 147: Life! The Chaotic Force That Unites Us

Xellos rarely opened his eyes and when he did, it meant something. Even so, Lina had no patience for him. She knew the Stillness would eventually manifest itself again and she had been expecting it to happen soon since that time at the beach when Shabranigdu was so guarded. By now the fragment of Ruby Eyes probably sensed that the Void was released from its temporary hiding place and was likely holding back even more. The Dragon Slave's power would no doubt be significantly reduced again, perhaps rendering it almost impossible to use.

The red haired sorceress looked at Filia, finally answering Xellos' question. "It's consuming her, isn't it obvious?" She snapped. Now was not the time to ask about things that she assumed he knew. Lina wasn't aware of Xellos' amnesia, she only knew about Filia's. "It must be like what it tried to do with Amelia, except rather than leaving her after the attack, the Void is still in her."

"Then get it out of her!" Xellos snapped. He reached over to Filia, but the holy magic around her stung him with a mere touch, as it would for any purely astral being.

"Don't touch her now, you'll just hurt yourself!" Lina scolded as she pulled Xellos away. "Onyx, you must have had time to train with your own power by now. Let's give Phythan more energy for his spell with recovery."

"Yes," Onyx nodded quietly and stepped forward. "Brother, make way." Both Lina and Onyx continuously casted recovery on Phythan. Xellos wasn't really paying enough attention to her to even question why Onyx, would call him brother, though they were obviously not related.

Filia lost consciousness completely, but Gourry caught her before she hit the ground. Being human, he wasn't adversely affected by Phythan's spell, which was powerful against astral beings and was aimed at the Void. Xellos could feel the energy being poured into Filia, it was exceptionally powerful, with Lina and Onyx giving their energy to Phythan, even a high ranking monster would have a severely hard time dealing with such an attack.

The unconscious Filia remembered her discovery about the ancient dragons and the most critical parts of the battle against Dark Star. Her missing memories from the past few months were resurfacing, but she was forced to focus on the hardships. The near death experiences, the emotional pain, the trickery, the deception, the perceived betrayal, the struggle. 'No... Stop... Please stop!' Filia begged in her mind to no avail.

'Let go... let go of your will and you shall feel no pain... Let yourself sink into the relief of indifference... Feel no desires... Give up...' An ominous voice echoed in Filia's mind. It no longer sounded like Kirei; this was an unidentifiable sound of emptiness.

"Don't stop now!" Lina insisted, though all the energy she was giving to Phythan was leaving her in exhaustion.

"I won't give up... I promised myself not to let anyone get hurt again..." Phythan was dizzy from the strain. He had never poured so much energy into a spell before. The Void was very strong.

Lina gasped for breath, "that thing... has to... come out..." Amelia was in mortal danger from the after-effects of an attack from the Void. Having the Void remain in her like that had to be worse for Filia. No doubt about it, she was facing her worse fears and reliving her most painful moments.

"This isn't working," Xellos complained.

"You're right," Onyx agreed, but didn't stop casting recovery. "The Heaven Light spell is effective, but the Void is too strong, it cannot be defeated as if it were only a monster."

"Filia is getting cold," Gourry frowned in worry.

Lina ceased her spell casting and closed her eyes in thought for a moment. This whole thing started back when Lina faced off against Fibrizo. By calling upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares she allowed the missing fragment of the Stillness to enter the world and begin the cycle. She just wanted Gourry back and she admitted that she was willing to give up the world for that purpose, but the world was not hers to give away. "I can fix this..." Lina whispered under her breath, she had stopped casting recovery, though Phythan was still keeping up the holy magic with Onyx's help. "I will fix this," Lina assured more determinately.

Placing her hand on Phythan's shoulder, Lina began to chant a spell. "Invisible links of the chain, which binds all in this plane, make the target's struggle vain, follow the inescapable lane, Pursuit!" The golden glow around Filia faded and the line of golden light coming from Phythan's hands became thinner but stronger. "This should make the spell remain focused on the target, so that less of it filters out of Filia, it should be safe enough not to make me fail as a bodyguard now. Phythan, keep this spell going. Onyx, keep using recovery."

"The Void isn't exactly a curse, but it hates emotion, good and bad. It brings bad feelings in order to make people reject their emotions to stop the pain. But it would be a lot harder to force someone to reject positive emotions," Lina explain. "Do you remember the spell you used to cure Filia's poison?"

"No," Xellos replied truthfully. He didn't even remember Filia being poisoned. Gourry passed her over to him, since the Heaven Light spell was not seeping out dangerously anymore.

"You have to remember important stuff like that!" Lina pulled out a scroll from her cape. "I haven't just been traveling around idly. I paid Celo a visit and raided his collection of magic tomes. Here are some of my notes. After experiencing being human for a few months, you should have built up enough of a resistance not to get killed casting a spell like this, even as a monster."

Lina handed the scroll to Gourry, who held it up like a cue card for Xellos to read. "Here you go, heal Filia with a kiss, just like in a fairy tale."

"I'll back you up with some luck. Let the destiny that our fates reach be the one that we pursue! Life is a gamble to be faced without fear!" Lina began to cast another spell. "Ye who flies and never lands, ye who knows and understands, aligning fate, destiny, chance. Eternal clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed mine will, mine stance, deliver triumph to mine hand. Fortune Lock!"

Xellos wasn't even sure what to make from the recent events, but this was not a time for doubts or hesitation. "Potentia, pura amor, vera basium, basiamini, salutes, vitae, nostra corda, iungitis, nego finis, aeterna!" The spell was charged with positive emotions, that was what empowered it. Xellos couldn't remember how he developed a resistance to this, all he could do was believe he had it, which wasn't as difficult as he thought it would be. He kissed Filia. There was an overwhelmingly sweet taste to it, but he found that perhaps he had a big enough sweet tooth to handle it after all. Images surfaced in his mind, they were the memories he had been missing, they were all coming back.

They finally parted, the spell casting ceased completely from all those present and a few silent seconds passed. A silver mist fell out of Filia, the Void sunk into the ground in a hasty retreat. Filia's blue eyes opened, tired but focused. "Xellos... I remember..." She smiled weary but relieved. "I remember everything..."

"So do I," Xellos grinned. It was a lot to take in, suddenly recalling all the events that had transpired all at once, but he was glad to have his full memories back.

Lina felt the ground beneath her feet vibrate slightly. The Stillness was reemerging, that had to be it. "It looks like the Stillness is finally coming out of hiding. It's about time we finished this." Her serious expression turned hungry as she glanced at Xellos. "You still owe me some food, especially after all I did just now!"

xoxox xox xoxox

The next day, Filia paced around the waiting room of a stadium where the women's brass rackets tournament was being held. "Why are we playing brass rackets at a time like this? I already got my memories back anyway. The Stillness is out there waiting to attack!"

"It is best to relax before a match." Zelas, in her Yuna Wolf look, leaned back on her chair and close her eyes. "Celo will take a while longer to finish the gateway to the Stillness' hideout now that it's accessible again." Plus Zelas needed to complete her plan to reveal her identity. It couldn't be done in the world-wide classic brass rackets tournament that would take place in a couple of weeks, since she couldn't wait that long. Yet even if she had to push her plans forward hastily, she still intended to get a good amount of chaos out of them. Yuna Wolf and possibly by association, Angel Dragon, would likely both be banned from the world-wide tournament after it was known that she was a monster. "If you're curious, I can tell you about the cure I was planning to offer you for your brass rackets partnership services, even if you already have your memories back anyway."

Filia allowed herself to fall into a chair. "I thought you'd leave me guessing." She let out a breath of exasperation. "Honestly, I'm here more so for Solex's sake than because I expected help getting my memories back if I didn't have them."

"It would be harmless to tell you. Not particularly fun since you already have your memories back, but still somewhat amusing," Zelas decided. "You know how they say that your life flashes before your eyes before you die? That was the answer. You might not need to be killed to remember anymore, but if you ever decide you want some assistance with that, I'm always available," she offered sweetly.

Filia frowned as she sarcastically replied. "That's very kind of you, but I'll have to decline your offer."

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, at Dragon's Peak. A buzz zap sound was heard as Xellos faded out of the astral side, rather forcefully, just outside of Milgazia's house, as if he had crashed face first into a shield while trying to teleport. "Ow..." The static of the magical shield that blocked access even from astral space, which caught him off guard, was still clinging to him, making his purple hair stick out in every direction. Xellos smoothed out his hair as Milgazia ran out of the house in a white, golden lined bathrobe, still slightly wet as if he got out of the tub in a hurry.

The golden dragon elder carried an oversized mace as big as him, which had been sent as a gift from Filia. He assumed she was just being friendly, although she was actually trying to cheer him up after his supposed breakup. It looked like he had casted Astral Vine on the mace and was ready to cause some serious pain. Milgazia stopped as he realized who it was that had arrived, "it's you..."

Seeing that Milgazia didn't look like he was going to attack after all, Xellos inquired. "Who were you expecting?"

"That annoying snake monster, Galathia, has been trying to teleport into my house at the most inappropriate moments recently." Milgazia frowned in extreme annoyance and disapproval. "I warned her not to try it again if she valued her life." Really, there was only so much even the ever patient Milgazia could put up with. "Anyway, why have you come here? If it is to discuss the fate of Kirei and the issue of the Stillness..." He trailed into silence in frustration. He didn't expect Kirei to give up her very will to exist for revenge when it looked like she was finally becoming accustomed to living in Dragon's Peak.

"No," Xellos interrupted. "I'm not here to talk about that at all. I came to warn you."

Milgazia wasn't expecting that and he wasn't about to so easily believe it. "About what?"

"You've angered Beast Master and because of that, the golden dragon race is doomed." Xellos' violet eyes opened for a second, showing that he was serious, before closing again. "You need to fix it."

Since Filia never got around to telling Xellos what was it that she was supposed to be doing for Beast Master, instead continuously stealing his trademark phrase teasingly, he decided to ask Zelas directly. The monster lord's reply was simple and to the point, truthful, yet deceiving. "I offered to kill her."

Xellos took it all with a calm demeanor. Zelas didn't sound particularly angry or bitter, but even so, her threats were not to be disregarded or taken lightly. He reasoned that she must be upset at the golden dragon race as a whole because of Milgazia. That meant that there was still a chance to repair the damage and for Filia to be spared. Xellos certainly didn't want Zelas to get back together with Milgazia, but if they could tone down the bitterness, then maybe she could get revenge on him only and not on all the golden dragons.

Milgazia remembered that Zelas had slapped him, but he still didn't understand why she did. "I don't even know what she's angry about."

"And you think I do?" Xellos pouted. He had learned and reaffirmed the knowledge that all females, be them monsters, dragons, humans or otherwise, were temperamental sadists, it was simply in their nature. "Either way, the least you could do is go talk to her."

As much as Milgazia disliked the monster lord, he would like to discuss a few things with her, especially concerning the Stillness. "Very well, I will go to Wolf Pack Island then."

"She's not there," Xellos pointed out. "In the place where she is now, if you are to reach her you must go in disguise. There's no time to waste, so let's get ready."

xoxox xox xoxox

A few minutes later, at Milgazia's house... "I'm not wearing this!" The golden dragon elder's voice echoed through Dragon's Peak.

"Are you going to let your race be destroyed just because you're picky with colors?" Xellos argued.

"It's not about the color!" Milgazia snapped.

Just outside of the house, Memphis, Phythan and Onyx were listening. They couldn't see what was going on, but they found the argument to be very peculiar. "I always knew it was only a matter of time before someone made uncle Milgazia lose his patience and snap. He's always so serious, even though he tells great jokes."

Phythan nodded in agreement, he was still sad about Kirei, she was his friend. But at least he had his other friends still with him, including his best friend Onyx, who had started to give him more attention lately and that made him feel better. Onyx on the other hand didn't quite agree with Memphis' affirmation about Milgazia's jokes, which she found to be rather dull.

Memphis, Phythan and Onyx went around the house to the backdoor as the argument continued. Then suddenly, the door burst open and Xellos and Milgazia rolled down the hill behind the dragon elder's house, mixed up in a fight as if they were trying to strangle each other. The struggling pair landed in a mud puddle at the bottom of the hill as the three spectators rushed to see the results of the battle.

Covered in mud, Milgazia stood up and pulled his pants up, he was hoping that no one had seen the ordeal, but he had no such luck. Honestly he preferred Xellos' thinly veiled threats instead of this. "Um... Xellos, did you just pull down Milgazia's pants? I think that's cheating." Phythan pointed out.

Xellos was also covered in mud. "Don't think badly of it. I was only trying to get him to wear a skirt." Xellos explained with a cheerful painted grin as if it was the most logical and reasonable thing in the world.

"Oh, right," Phythan nodded. "You were only trying to... what?"

"I'll handle this," Milgazia voiced sternly. Concluding that it was in their best interest to leave, Phythan, Onyx and Memphis swiftly retreated up the hill, disappearing behind Milgazia's house and leaving the golden dragon elder to deal with the tricky mischievous purple haired monster. "I don't see how this is absolutely necessary." Milgazia tried to reason with Xellos. "Why must we infiltrate the tournament just so I can talk to Zelas?"

"I already told you," Xellos insisted. "This is the only way you can talk to her right now and you can't afford to wait. Quit complaining, I'm infiltrating along with you."

"That's different," Milgazia growled as he forgot about his self imposed rules of diplomacy. "It's okay for you because you have no dignity."

Xellos wasn't sure if he should be angry, offended or simply shocked. "You kind of sounded like Filia just now." He noted, not sure if he really wanted to make such an observation.

Milgazia mentally counted to ten, Filia was a good person, but she wasn't exactly the best diplomat and he was supposed to be. "Somehow, it appears that sooner or later, you're capable of making any dragon throw diplomacy out the window."

"I'll take that as a compliment." Xellos voiced and pushing aside his annoyance, he grinned. "Would you stop being stubborn if I find you a blue skirt instead of pink? Or would you prefer purple?"

Milgazia let out a groan of exasperation. Somehow, he had become a part of that very strange group that Lina Inverse claimed to be the leader of and he knew there was no way out. Although, as straining as it could be at times, perhaps it was for the best. At the very least he could say his life would always be interesting, becoming closer to its essence, closer to chaos.

xoxox xox xoxox

At the stadium where the brass rackets tournament was taking place. All the contestants, including the mysterious late entries, were gathered in a room where a random drawing would determine which teams would participate in the next match. Filia was surprised to see Lina and Amelia were there in a team. Gourry and Zelgadis were spared the trouble of using disguises since Lina and Amelia were partnered with each other. Instead, the swordsman and the chimera would be watching from the audience.

"Miss Filia, Miss Lina told me you recovered your memories and about the dramatic battle against the Void. In light of that, have you and Mr. Xellos reconciled?" Amelia inquired with a hopeful look in her eyes.

Filia blushed, "yes." Although they had actually reconciled before her memories returned.

"How wonderful!" Amelia happily exclaimed, making random people give her odd looks at her outbursts. "I've been keeping this safe for you." The princess revealed the amethyst ring she kept in her pocket. "I knew you would want it back later."

"My ring!" Filia was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't lost after all. Val had chewed up the wedding bands so many times during his first few weeks of life, that Filia had eventually given up on fixing them. "I thought it was lost, thank you."

"You're welcome!" Amelia cheered.

"Um..." Lina lightly tapped Amelia and Filia on their shoulders and when she got their attention, she pointed. The redhead's expression looked like she was making a huge effort not to burst out in a very loud fit of laughter.

Filia and Amelia followed the direction of Lina's pointing finger to find Xellos in a girly brass rackets uniform. Given the fact that this was Xellos and Zelas was participating, they weren't too shocked to see him like that, nor were they particularly shocked at how believable the outfit was, Xellos was a tricky master of disguise. What shocked them beyond belief was the one standing next to Xellos who shrunk into the crowd, leaving their line of sight as fast, quietly and inconspicuously as he could. "Milgazia!?" Filia and Amelia chorused, while Lina's laughter exploded loudly, prompting the same reaction from Amelia and Filia.

"Oh, no, no," Xellos shook his finger, speaking in a feminine voice. "That's my brass rackets partner, Mimi, and I am Xexe, nice to meet you." He added a cute little giggle at the end of his sentence which just made everything even weirder. As for Zelas, she was standing near the front of the crowd, away from the group, not really paying attention to them and had not yet seen Milgazia.

As soon as Lina managed to get her laughter under control, she placed her hands on her hips and pouted. "Where's my food? You owe me!" She demanded.

"Alright, alright, come over here for a minute," Xellos and Lina left the room, while Filia and Amelia discussed what could have possibly come over Milgazia to make him parade around in a blue and white brass rackets uniform, short skirt included, with a big blue bow on his head.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 148: Fight! A Test Of Determination

Out in the hallway at the stadium, Xellos grinned at Lina in his usual trickster fashion. "Be right back," he faded away into the astral side.

Lina looked up and down the hallways to make sure no one had seen Xellos disappear. She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for him to return. A few minutes later, the monster general priest phased back into existence. "It took you long enough!" Lina impatiently exclaimed.

Xellos was holding a very large sandwich. "Beast Master perfected her magical oven which can de-poison dragon meat very quickly. The poison is harmless to monsters, but she likes to go all the way to make her cuisine perfect."

Lina snatched away the sandwich and took a big bite. She immediately spat it out into a potted plant that was decorating the deserted hallway. "I thought you said Zelas made this cuisine!" She reproached angrily.

"She did," Xellos confirmed. "Zelas cooked the dragon meat; I only put it in the sandwich."

Lina parted the two halves of the bred to take a look inside. There were some multicolored condiments all over the inside of the sandwich. "It takes a really horrible cook to mess up making a sandwich," she grimaced in a depressing tone, over the waste of such great cuisine.

"Ingrate," Xellos grumbled.

"I dare you to eat this," Lina returned the sandwich to Xellos with a challenging glare.

Confidently, Xellos took a bite and soon found himself spitting into the same unfortunate potted plant Lina had attacked before with a very similar disgusted expression. "I blame the dragon." He tossed the rest of the sandwich into the potted plant.

Lina pouted, "I blame you!"

Any further arguments were interrupted, by a member of the tournament staff exiting the room where the participants were gathered and spotting the pair in the hallway. A very embarrassed Milgazia was with him, his eyes glued to the floor. The employee was also being accompanied by an energetic Amelia. "There you are Miss Xexe and Miss Lina. You and your respective partners Miss Mimi and Miss Amelia will be participating on the next round. Please follow me to the test room before going out to the court." Xellos and Milgazia especially didn't like the sound of that, but they went along anyway.

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina, Amelia, Xellos and Milgazia, aka Xexe and Mimi, were led to another room which held a pedestal in its center, with a pillow upon which there was a clear glass orb. The employee picked up the orb and it glowed blue. "This orb glows blue for males and pink for females. Please excuse the inconvenience ladies, but we've had some people trying to bend the rules for the sake of taking a shot at the price." He passed the glowing orb to Amelia and it turned pink when she held it. Eyeing Lina suspiciously, the employee mused, 'there's no way that flat chested tomboy is a girl...' Although, to his surprise the orb glowed pink when Lina held it.

Lina held out the orb to Xellos, who hesitated to take it. "What's that?" He spoke in a girly voice, pointing at something down the hallway outside of the small test room, although there was in reality nothing there.

"What is it, miss?" The employee stepped out to the hallway and found nothing. Before he could get back inside the test room, the door was slammed closed and locked. He attempted to open it, but it wouldn't. "Open the door!"

"Oh my, the breeze must have pushed the door closed and it's stuck!" Xellos exclaimed in his acted voice. He picked up the glass orb, which glowed blue. Whispering so that only his fellow brass rackets participants could hear him, he concluded. "There's no way around this."

"But aren't you a cone?" Lina blurted out. "What's the difference between a boy cone and a girl cone anyway?"

Shaking his finger in front of his face, Xellos replied, "that is a secret." Lina huffed in response.

"I think what he means is that a monster's persona, rather than their astral form, is what determines gender," Milgazia pointed out. It was obvious that they already knew who he was, so pretending he didn't know them was useless.

"Which means that no matter how you disguise yourself, you can't trick that thing any more than a non-monster could," Lina concluded.

"But why are you doing this in the first place?" Amelia inquired with curiosity.

"That's what I'd like to know too," Lina added with a suspicious look.

"That is a secret!" Xellos annoyingly replied. He quickly tossed the blue glowing orb to Lina as he heard the door open and it became pink when she caught it.

The same employee from before, now looking rather upset, entered the test room. "I had to use the spare key. Funny how the breeze locked the door in addition to closing it." He frowned suspiciously, eyeing Milgazia critically. 'This one is cute, but kind of tall for a girl and what's with those eyebrows?' The employee mused; he didn't seem to have any suspicions about Xellos yet.

"Oh no, I don't feel good," Xellos exclaimed dramatically, in an exaggerated pained female voice.

Xellos pretended to faint into Milgazia's arms, who was not very happy to catch him. Trying to mask his voice as well as he could, which wasn't all that great, Milgazia excused himself and Xellos. "I should take Xexe to see the nurse, please excuse us."

"You'll be forfeiting the match if you leave now!" The employee called after them as Milgazia ran away carrying Xellos down the hallway.

"It looks like we win by default!" Lina cheered, though her victory was interrupted by an earthquake, signaling that the Stillness was about to go on the attack again.

xoxox xox xoxox

Milgazia dropped Xellos in the hallway after they turned a corner away from the room from where they fled. Fed up with all of this, the golden dragon elder turned to walk away in a huff. Before Xellos could comment on his daring actions, he saw Milgazia stop cold, but not because of the earthquake. From the opposite side of the hallway, Filia and Zelas were coming over. Filia just stared at Milgazia and Zelas noticed him at last.

The monster lord smiled, the expression growing as she tried to contain laughter. A soft melodious giggle fought to come out until she couldn't resist it anymore. The giggle evolved into an all out elegant laugh. Around that time, Lina and Amelia curiously made their way over. Zelas' laughter increased until it became a loud and imposing mix between laughter, roar and howl. Several minutes passed as all those present held their hands over their ears in pain. Finally, Zelas took a deep breath and quieted.

Zelgadis and Gourry, who were supposed to be in the audience, rushed over to see what was going on. "What happened?" The chimera urged in alarm. "There was an earthquake, we heard a roaring howl and everyone in the audience is in a panic! Was it part of the Stillness' atta-" Zelgadis paused, leaving his question unfinished. "Milgazia?"

"That awful sound was Zelas," Milgazia grumbled in embarrassment.

"The earthquake was most likely the Stillness," Lina pointed out.

Gourry placed his hand on Milgazia's shoulder in a sign of support. "They're picking on you too? I know how it feels. I've lost count of how many times Lina forced me to wear a dress against my will."

"So the ever serious Milgazia has a sense of humor after all." Zelas calmly approached, grinning in amusement. "We are no longer partners for LIFE," because there had to be a change of plans due to the Stillness' not waiting any longer to attack. "But you can still be my brass rackets partner every now and then," she mocked.

Xellos wasn't expecting Beast Master to be so easily appeased. Though she wasn't actually planning to kill Filia, her misleading phrasing was still true. Nonetheless, as far as Xellos knew, he just saved Filia from being killed. Amelia, Lina, Zelgadis and even Gourry were also paying attention to Zelas' words. They silently concluded along with Xellos and Filia, that though Zelas and Milgazia broke up, they were somehow still friends. It was a bit odd, they mused, but certainly less complicated than dating. Perhaps this was all for the best. Thankfully, none of them voice their conclusions.

Any reaction Milgazia might have intended to voice was interrupted by another earthquake. "The Stillness is getting impatient," Zelas noted. "There's no more time to waste. Xellos, remember what we talked about when you reported late last night? Go, everything is ready for you to regain your shield."

"Yes, Lord Beast Master," after glancing briefly at Filia, Xellos teleported to Wolf Pack Island. He was going to once again temporarily become human. That would grant him a physical shield against the Stillness' astral powers.

"Fang!" Zelas called out. The monster fox appeared, answering to his master's summoning instantly. "It is time to prepare for the final battle. Take the last ancient dragon to Wolf Pack Island for safe keeping and assist my soldiers in getting ready. Milgazia, you can go home and defend your reptile pals; Fang can teleport you to Dragon's Peak. My soldiers of chaos can handle this. Now I must go, I have some business of my own to take care of." With those words of parting, Zelas disappeared.

"By soldiers, does she mean us?" Gourry inquired with the same cloud of confusion that followed him everywhere.

"Looks like it," Lina confirmed. "Alright everyone, time to finish the Stillness once and for all. If it came out of hiding, it must think it's ready to face us. The Void was weakened because the cycle was moved back after the power of the Sea of Chaos was used to restore the planet. Lamentation, which is fused with the remains of the Green Alchemist, must be stronger than the Void." Lina was now in full on leader mode. "The Void retreated and must have fused with the rest of the Stillness again. Let's stay on our guard and most importantly, let's win!"

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelas reappeared at the main area of the stadium. The panicking crowd noticed her and pointed. They didn't understand where Yuna Wolf had come from and why she was standing there so calmly. Zelas took on her true form, causing an even bigger panic to spread out. Zombies were emerging from the earth again and the vegetation was going crazy. The Stillness was going all out!

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Fang teleported Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia to a new location. They reappeared on a small island covered in cooled off volcanic rock. "This is..." Zelgadis looked around recognizing the area, it was his island. The human Xellos, Tiffany and Celo were already waiting there.

"My mission with you is done, I'll go take my place for my next task. Good luck everyone!" Fang teleported away.

"Greetings everyone, this is where the gate way has been prepared." Celo pointed to a glowing circle on the ground. "The left over energy from the volcanic rocks is a good conductor for magic." The circle was surrounded by many symbols and words written in an ancient lost language. "I modified the spell Solex reported, which was used to temporarily open a gateway. I've made it so that it will stay open. It took a little longer, but it should be worth it. This way some of the energy left in this world will seep into the battle zone and make it a little more bearable. Don't expect Lord Ruby Eyes spell to be too responsive, the Stillness is draining him terribly. Beast Master is not really worried though; the dragons have suffered many losses and are in no position to attack after this is over."

"Tiffany, you're..." Filia was shocked at seeing how much her friend changed.

Tiffany's disguise was gone and her chimera condition was obvious. "Don't be sad, sweet Filia, I've always been the host of the End. It's alright, I've come to terms with this, I'll do everything I can!" She assured.

"This is not a time for doubts," Celo added. Filia knew it was hard for him, but if he could be strong, then so could she, for Tiffany's sake.

Another being emerged from the astral side. He wore dark blue clothes with white details in a style similar to an army general. His hair was the same violet color as Xellos, though in a much less neat style in short spikes. A patch of cyan hair stood out on the right side of his bangs, which fell unruly over the edge of his small rectangular silver glasses. Despite the hair and glass in the way, his golden eyes were very focused and piercing. His ears were long and pointy and he wore an earring on his left ear shaped like a black dice with white dots.

"What a surprise to see you outside of the office, Eros," Xellos greeted him with a grin.

Erosnum, a monster on the lower end of the high rank in terms of power, frowned. "My name is Erosnum," he corrected. He hated when people abbreviated his name. Pushing up his glasses as it was his habit, he went down to business. "I am only here to see you off, out of curiosity. It is not every day that one has to deal with adverting the end of the world. This is certainly not the first time, but this particular coming of the apocalypse has been by far the one that brought the most complications to my accounting duties. A word of advice, if it is possible, try to save the world as economically as you can, I am having a hard time as it is readjusting budgets and keeping things under control. I must return to my duties now, good day."

"Who was that?" Filia curiously inquired.

"Erosnum or just Eros for short, he's Beast Master's head accountant and the lead manager for her business ventures," Xellos explained. "He's a walking contradiction, although maybe he has to be. A monster can't work with predictable numbers for too long before having to find a source of chaos and unpredictability. He spends most of his time working and favors stability and safe investments in his job. In his free time, he's an impulsive gambler who can't get enough of the thrill of risk," the general priest chuckled at the irony. "It looks like he was only here to see us off. Shall we be on our way?"

"This is it!" Lina cheered, "the Stillness will finally pay for causing a famine!"

"Fight hard, don't forget you're representing Lord Beast Master in battle!" Celo reminded. "The Stillness is launching a massive wave of attacks all over the world. Milgazia and the dragons will defend the Kataart Mountains. Since Seyruun is technically allied to Beast Master now because of the fine print of a food purchase contract, she has recruited Phythan and Onyx as her interns again and sent them to assist in defending the city. Fang will help out where he's needed too."

"And Luna will protect Zephilia," Lina concluded.

"For chaos!" Celo cheered.

"For chaos!" Xellos cheered as well.

"For justice!" Amelia was being herself.

"For food!" Lina and Gourry added as they stepped into the circle along with everyone else.

The gateway activated and Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos, Filia and Tiffany were transported away, to the enemy's main base, while Celo remained guarding the portal to make sure it stayed open. Besides, he wasn't sure he could hold back the need to interfere if he actually saw the End's host being combined with the other pieces, but he understood this had to be done.

xoxox xox xoxox

The gateway took the group to a cavern deep underground. Though they could not see a tunnel or any physical path leading to the surface, they could feel the astral space around the island connected to the area they were in, beyond the astral shield that surrounded it. It seemed to lessen the sense of detachment that came with that strange place, as if they were no where.

The stone walls pulsated with glowing energy that lit up the whole space in the center of which there was a giant seed. The seed was surrounded by tree roots that had no perceptible beginning or end, entangling the seed and its surrounding area, sinking into the walls. "So you came... No, I allowed you to come." The Stillness' echoing voice was heard.

Amelia shuddered involuntarily, "why do I feel like the 'life is wonderful' song is silly?"

"Because this place is anti-life!" Zelgadis realized.

"Focus everyone! The atmosphere here is like a constant astral attack!" Lina called out. They just barely arrived at the battle field and things were already looking difficult.

Xellos soon realized why exactly Beast Master couldn't be there. Even with everyone's thoughts anchoring her existence to the world, the astral draining properties of the atmosphere were too strong. Somehow, their bodies were reacting on their own, as if awakening to an unknown survival instinct and redirecting some of the astral damage to the physical plane. The result was pain, a constant pain that wouldn't cease for as long as they were so close to the center of the Stillness. Xellos understood now why he so crucially needed a shield, without the physical body he had, he would be badly drained already.

"I have your other piece right here!" Tiffany charged forward bravely. The brown roots that surrounded the area glowed green, producing a multitude of thorny vines that aimed to trap her.

"Why do you return the missing fragment?" The Stillness' voice echoed ominously. "Erratic creatures of chaos, your behavior makes no sense. None the less, the End should sleep a little longer; it is not yet time to clean the remains of the world, not until it all dies."

"As if we'd ever allow that!" Lina shot a barrage of fireballs, clearing the path for Tiffany, "Fireball! Fireball! Fireball!"

"Life is wonderful and I'll never stop thinking that!" Amelia determinately declared. "Elmekia Lance!" The lance of light flew ahead of Tiffany, colliding with the seed that contained the remains of the Green Alchemist, Lamentation and the Void.

"Ray Wing!" Tiffany sped up her approached to the enemy across the large underground chamber.

"Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite... Ra-Tilt!" Zelgadis released the spell as strongly as he could, aimed at the Stillness' seed.

"Stupid dragon, you know what would really be helpful now, right? Fusion magic," Xellos suggested.

"Yes, but how are we supposed to do that, raw garbage?" Filia argued. "You're a human and if you were a monster, you wouldn't be able to be here." Filia urgently reminded, though she knew Xellos must have some kind of plan in mind if he was bringing that up.

"Beast Master and I planned for this. You just need to take care of the holy magic, I'll supply the monster energy with a direct link to Beast Master's power. Just because Zelas isn't here in person, doesn't mean she can't lend me her power." Xellos ascertained with confidence. "Just give me a few seconds to call it."

"Right, leave these annoying vines to me!" Filia continued shooting the vines with her laser breath, preventing them from trapping her and the others.

Tiffany was almost to the seed when she crashed into an invisible shield. The Ray Wing spell came undone and she levitated to stay in place. At the same time, the ground around the rest of the group began to crack, with rotting corpses emerging from it. "Xellos, Filia, use fusion magic!"

"Fusion magic? Is it going to get rid of the zombies?" Gourry used his special sword to create echoes of the slashes, which chopped a line of zombies to pieces. Even then, the corpses tried to pick themselves up and put themselves back together, albeit they were slowed down.

"No, this is to help Tiffany with her mission." Filia explained, while Amelia exorcised the zombies. Xellos was almost ready, so she would have to call forth her power soon.

"Astral Vine!" Zelgadis powered up his sword and slashed away at the attacking vines. "These stupid vines are still coming, zombies and killer plants? Those are two things that are not supposed to happen at the same time!"

"Xellos, the spell!" Filia called out, gathering her holy magic in a golden ball in her hands. "Ah!" The thorny vines that were heading towards her were reduced to ashes by a fireball.

"You just focus on that spell; I'll guard the two of you." Lina kept them safe while the fusion magic was being casted.

Xellos was perfectly still with his eyes closed, standing motionless like a statue for several more seconds until he appeared to awaken suddenly. "You better be ready!" He formed a ball of black light in his hands that was very much pure monster energy.

"Zelas is possessing you... So that's how..." Filia recalled using a similar technique herself to call the Fire Dragon for information, but this was a more advanced version. It was probably only possible to cast it so quickly because of the relation between Zelas and Xellos.

The two opposing energies were united in a beam of black and gold that disintegrated all the thorny vines that tried to get in its way. The fusion magic crashed into the seed surrounded by what looked like shattering glass as it destroyed the invisible shield around it, which previously shielded it from physical attacks and non-astral magic.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 149: Win! There Are No Impossibilities

Deep underground... While the area of the fusion magic's impact on the seed still glowed with swirls of black and gold, surrounded in purple lightning, Tiffany flew into it. It was obvious she was in a lot of pain as she pushed her mutated body against the glowing surface of the seed and slowly sunk into it, chanting the spell that was obtained from the knowledge Rezo left to Zelas. Tiffany forced the Stillness to absorb the final fragment, holding on to the remains of the Green Alchemist to help the merge progress. A noticeable crack was left on the seed where the fusion magic had hit it.

"Tiffany!" Filia called out to her, as silence invaded the area and the attack of the vines appeared to relent, though the zombies were still coming. "I can no longer sense her presence, but the Stillness feels stronger."

"Not stronger, only clearer because it's not hiding behind that shield anymore," Lina corrected. "Tiffany understood what she needed to do, don't let this dishearten you!"

"You're right... I can't lower my guard," Filia realized.

Xellos was released from Zelas' temporary possession looking dizzy and sick. "I'm back... I think..."

"Xellos!" Filia tried to steady his balance in worry. "All that monster energy flowing through a human body was too much!"

"It doesn't matter," Xellos insisted, stepping aside and finding his focus to continue fighting. "This human body only needs to last out through this fight. It doesn't matter in what conditions I'm left. After this is over, I will no longer need this vessel."

The earth shook as the thorny vines dried up and fell off the roots and the seed glowed, emitting an echoing voice. "Lamentation, the Void, the End, I am the Stillness, I am nothingness. Why do you seek to complete me? Do you really believe you can destroy me if all the pieces are together? Destroying a single piece is useless, but destroying all three at the same time is impossible."

"Where are your chimeras?" Lina boldly challenged. "Why are you not throwing more of your minions at us? Why aren't you sending more of those plant monsters to attack us? It's because you've run out, haven't you? They're all dead and all you can do is throw more zombies at us. I see right through you, by wanting to destroy everything, you'll destroy yourself. You really are nothing and if not for the remains of the Green Alchemist and the other pieces of chaos in you, you wouldn't even be here."

"Silence, insignificant human!" The earth shook more violently and more zombies emerged from it.

"Miss Lina, I don't think making the Stillness angry is a good idea!" Amelia warned.

"I may be just a human, but you should never underestimate an angry human and let me tell you, us humans get really cranky when someone messes with our food supplies!" Lina threatened. "Give me some cover guys, this might take a while longer to cast, but I'll do it!"

"I don't know what her plan is, but we might as well go with it." Zelgadis decided, mostly because he really didn't want to argue with Lina right now.

"Right, we'll follow Lina like we always do," Gourry slashed away at more zombies along with Zelgadis, making it easier for Amelia and Filia to exorcise them.

"Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..." Lina focused hard, speaking each word carefully to allow the energy to go to her.

"The Dragon Slave?" Filia questioned. Wasn't that spell supposed to be unusable at the moment?

"Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows..." Lina continued slowly casting the spell.

"Lord Ruby Eyes is being drained away by the Stillness and the Stillness is right here in front of us," Xellos realized. "I understand; this is the place where Shabranigdu's energy is going. His power cannot be called from the surface, but if it's this close towards the point where his power is being taken to, then it might work."

"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands..." Shabranigdu's energy which the Stillness tried to call towards itself was responding to Lina more and more with each word she spoke. It was as if the piece of Shabranigdu would rather lend its power to this chaotic girl than be used by the being of nothingness that stood against chaos. "Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed..." Lina was expecting the spell to be difficult and drawn out all the way, as it was when she started it, but now it was turning out to be one of the most powerful Dragon Slaves she had casted. "By the power you and I possess..."

Finally ready, Lina released the spell she was so well known for, full force, aiming for the crack left by the fusion magic attack on the seed. "Dragon Slave!" The massive blast of energy collided with the seed, turning it into a ball of glowing fire. The roots connected to the seed and the cave walls around them were ablaze with Shabranigdu's energy reducing them to ashes. The aftershock of energy made the group drop to the ground and cast shielding magic to protect themselves from the massive blast that was entrapped in the chamber.

When the blindingly bright light cleared out, everything was left in darkness. The pulsations of energy in the cave walls were no longer there. Zelgadis and Amelia flooded the area with orbs of light, restoring the chamber back to its previous level of brightness, like daylight. The Seed was still there, floating, but its colors looked gray, dried up and dull with numerous cracks around it. The seed's shell fell away to reveal a silvery mist in the middle of it. "Give up, insignificant mortals, the Stillness cannot be defeated!" The Stillness echoing voice was heard.

Lina was left exhausted with the massive amount of power Shabranigdu allowed her to call. Everyone's capabilities were reduced due to the atmosphere they were in and they were pushing themselves past their limits. At least the zombies had stopped emerging from the ground, at least for now. "We'll win and we'll have another triple banquet in Seyruun!"

"Insignificant creatures," the Stillness' growling voice echoed. "There will be nothing left for anyone to feast on. Not even the monsters can enjoy the world's misery, because only I shall feast on even them."

Glaring fiercely at the silvery mist that was the Stillness, Lina voiced her conclusions. "When I called Shabranigdu's power, I realized that you weren't just draining power from the fragment that is frozen in the northern mountains, there was more power than that. That power was from discarded fragments that were thrown into the Sea of Chaos. For a second when Shabranigdu's energy was coursing through me, I could see it. I saw the true Sea of Chaos beyond the space that separates it and the world," Lina revealed. "You have no intentions of allowing the world to start anew."

"That is the purpose of the End," Lina continued. "It exists to not allow a new world to be reborn from the remains of the old one. I see now how important it was to fuse the End with the other pieces and destroy it. If the End remained, the world could still be erased if the situation got bad enough, even if the roles of Lamentation and the Void were incomplete. You intend to make it so that what's left of the world can't even be absorbed by the Sea of Chaos, so that it's completely gone. Then you intend to attack the Sea of Chaos itself and erase the remains of all things that once belonged to the world, everything and everyone."

"Returning to chaos leaves behind the hope of rising from chaos, because chaos is life. But life is imperfection and I cannot allow that imperfection to go on existing," the Stillness replied. "What you say is true, I intend to erase it all, not simply end it, but make it as if nothing ever started, as if the world never existed. Don't you know? The Sea of Chaos is the source of power of the Lord of Nightmares, if I can weaken the Sea of Chaos, my ultimate enemy, the Mother of All Things, who dared to set this chaotic world in motion, will be weakened too." The Stillness revealed in its echoing ominous voice. "This insignificant world is only a stepping stone; it is the Mother of All Things that I wish to challenge."

"The Stillness may not be a monster, but it's something that doesn't belong in this world and it is mostly astral," Lina mused aloud. "Maybe it can be exorcised; we all saw how Elmekia Lance and Ra-Tilt worked even before the fusion magic destroyed the shield."

"I am indeed no monster; do not compare me to those creatures of chaos!" The entire area trembled as the silvery mist of the Stillness produced many twisting ribbons of light that flooded the atmosphere and made it hard to breathe. The pain was both physical and mental, making giving up just to be put out of the misery very tempting.

Doubts invaded the group's minds and for a moment even Lina questioned if she could get through this. Then suddenly, Amelia's voice was heard, "life is wonderful, living is great, injustice and evil those are the things I hate! Life is wonderful and don't you forget, if we work together we can defeat any threat! Life is wonderful and living is delicious, after this battle we'll have a banquet most nutritious!"

"Triple banquet!" Lina and Gourry exclaimed at the same time.

"There's no way we're going to die without having another banquet like that!" Lina stubbornly declared.

"That's right, we'll save the world and then we'll eat!" Gourry cheered.

"How can you resist?" The Stillness intensified the power of the twisting ribbons of light that flowed from the silvery mist. "Come to me undead minions!"

The ground under their feet shook violently as a creature much larger than a human zombie broke free from it. The being was rotten and decayed, but its features were still unmistakable, though its once brilliant golden scales were now dull and damaged. "A golden dragon zombie?" Filia gasped. The ground continued to shake and break as three more zombies emerged, their rotting scales in different colors from the others. "A Black dragon, a white dragon, a dimos dragon... How could they have been turned into zombies?"

"This is no time to despair," Lina insisted in warning. "All of this has to be draining the Stillness' power. The more the enemy throws at us, the more desperate it is! Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..." Lina paused, Shabranigdu's power wasn't responding at all. "What?"

"Do you really think I would let you pull off that trick twice?" The Stillness' voice echoed. "I'm holding on to Shabranigdu much more strongly now. I will not allow his power to be stolen from me again! Attack undead dragons!"

The four dragon zombies let out a breath of black smoke that flooded the area in darkness. Amelia send out a bright Lighting spell with extra power to try to create enough brightness to see through the smoke as it seemed to consume the light orbs that had been previously created. The light illuminated the area just in time for Amelia to jump back away from an incoming claw attack from the golden zombie dragon.

"These dragons... They're just empty shells, they don't have the abilities of their races when they are alive." Xellos observed, narrowly dodging the dimos zombie dragon's tail as it tried to crush him.

"Right, they're nothing but big animated corpses!" Lina agreed.

Gourry got flung against a wall by the white dragon's tail. "These corpses hit hard," he peeled himself off the indentation in the shape of his body that was left in the wall and fought back with his sword, the echo of the slashes colliding with the dragon zombies' tough hide with little effect. The black dragon tried to slash at him with its claws, but Gourry parried with the sword, pushing against the dragon's claw until the claw was cut off. "The echo slashes may not work against them, but the sword is sharp enough!" Realizing that close range direct attacks was the only way his sword would work against the dragons, Gourry bravely charged forward.

"Fireball! Fireball! Fireball!" Lina shot one spell after another, but it didn't seem to have much of an effect against the dimos dragon's tough hide. She forced herself so much that she fell to her knees after the rapid succession of unsuccessful spells. Amelia and Filia's Elmekia Lances didn't have much of an effect either, even though the dragons were zombies.

Gourry's visibility was limited, though Amelia, Filia and Xellos tried to keep casting light spells as much as possible, while Zelgadis was busy parrying the blows of the golden dragon with his Astral Vine powered sword. It wasn't enough to cut the dragon, but at least it provided some defense. Gourry's whole body ached with every step he took, but he was determined not to give up, especially when he saw how hard Lina was trying. He was supposed to be her protector, though more often than not she was protecting him. More than that, he was her fiance, he couldn't let her down. He attacked the white and golden dragons as they attempted to slash away at him with their claws and cut them off, causing the undead creatures to screech sickeningly.

More black smoke emerged from the cut off limbs of the zombie dragons, making the area darker and more difficult to fight in. The dimos dragon swung its tail at Gourry, while keeping its claws occupied with Zelgadis. Gourry cut off the tail, just as the Astral Vine ran out from Zelgadis' sword and the blade was broken. In a fast motion, Zelgadis jumped back and shot out a hastily casted, but nonetheless powerful "Elmekia Lance!" The lance of light flew past the dimos dragon's body, colliding with its tail and making the creature screech in pain. "Magic won't work on the zombie dragons' hide, but they can be exorcised if we aim for the area were the limbs were cut off!" The chimera realized.

Lina was back on the attack, fueled by her sheer determination. "Gourry, chop them to pieces, we'll cover you!"

"Right!" Following this new strategy, Gourry charged forward while Lina, Zelgadis, Amelia, Xellos and Filia provided support. He slashed away at the dragons, cutting their claws and tails and making as many gashes on their hide as he could.

"Amelia!" Zelgadis called out, "let's finish them!"

"I'm with you!" Amelia responded.

Together, Zelgadis and Amelia prepared for a super powered Ra-Tilt that would weaken the exposed zombie dragons enough to be exorcised. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite... Ra-Tilt!" The zombie dragons were reduced to dust by the force of their combined powers. All four undead dragons had been defeated, but it was clear that Zelgadis and Amelia put all their energy into that spell and were left barely standing.

As a result of the zombie dragons being gone, the black smoke that covered the area dissipated and with another light spell, the battle zone was restored to its near daylight brightness. "We can't give it time to recover, Filia, fusion magic again!" Xellos called out, once again attempting to summon Zelas' power.

"I'm on it!" There was no time to doubt, as Filia powered up her holy magic to fuse it with Beast Master's energy.

"I won't allow this!" The ribbons of light that the Stillness had been producing as an attack, faded into a much dimmer light as it directed its efforts elsewhere. It was trying to close the gateway to cut off the link between Zelas and Xellos.

"Mr. Celo, if you can hear me, keep the gateway open!" Amelia called out.

xoxox xox xoxox

Back on the island's surface, Celo was struggling with all his power to continuously cast the spell to keep the gateway open. If the group was completely cut off from the world that would put them in a severe disadvantage, an even bigger disadvantage than what they were already in. He was only a middle ranked monster, but he was a human chimera and that made him more stable in these conditions than even a high ranked monster could have been. Celo had the abilities of a monster with the determination of a human and their insatiable desire to live. He would not allow Tiffany's sacrifice to be in vain.

xoxox xox xoxox

In the battle field below ground, the silvery mist of the Stillness was distorted. "Celo... I know you're there, I know you're trying your best. I can feel it being one with this creature. Everyone in Seyruun, Dragon's Peak, Zephilia and Wolf Pack Island are trying their best too." It was Tiffany's voice that was echoing within the Stillness.

"Why do you still exist! Your consciousness should have been lost!" The Stillness' ominous voice echoed.

"Rezo's knowledge wasn't only about how to fuse with you, but also about how to preserve my soul for a while after the fusion and use its vital energy to attack from within!" Tiffany revealed. "My spell is finally ready. Everyone, take this opportunity!"

The silver mist of the Stillness glowed golden as Tiffany used her very soul to weaken it, becoming chaos with her very essence to power her final spell. With Celo having managed to stabilize the gateway from outside, Xellos was able to call more of Beast Master's power and fuse it with Filia's holy energy in another massive fusion magic attack. Before the golden glow of Tiffany's last attack faded from the silver mist that was the Stillness, the black and golden energy of fusion magic, collided with the Stillness in a bright display of power.

The group was terribly tired, exhausted beyond anything they had ever felt. Zelas released Xellos again, but this time he was left in a much worse condition than before, coughing out blood, due to some internal bleeding caused by the pressure of so much monster power coursing through him. "Xellos!" Filia shouted worried. "This is different from having a dragon lord possess someone, a monster lord's energy is too harsh. Even if you won't need this human body after this fight is over, you still need to survive long enough to become a monster again. If you die now then... then I don't know what I'll do!" Filia cried as she tried desperately to heal him.

"Stupid dragon... I'm not done yet," Xellos assured with some difficulty. "But it looks like I won't be calling for Beast Master again," it was too risky, too suicidal. His human body wouldn't hold out long enough to finish an effective attack anyway.

"We'll call out monster and holy magic separately and let the fusion happen within the enemy," Lina theorized with a new strategy. It looked like the Stillness was trying to start up with its previous attack with the life draining ribbons of light that had disappeared completely after the latest fusion magic attack. In the conditions the group was in, they would soon collapsed if they were exposed to that again.

In a desperate move to cause a diversion, the Stillness made an effort to call forth more human zombies. They were a lot smaller than the zombie dragons of course, but more numerous and it took a lot less energy to control them. "Gourry, let me see your sword!" Zelgadis rushed to the swordsman's side, who held out his sword to the chimera. "Astral Vine! There, try it now."

"Alright, here goes!" Gourry slashed away at one of the attacking zombies, reducing it to dust. "Wow, that really powered it up!"

"As I thought, the dragon horn has traces of holy magic properties," Zelgadis concluded. "Powered up with Astral Vine, that sword should be strong enough to exorcise the zombies now."

"Good thinking," Lina agreed, getting back into leader mode. "Gourry, we'll leave the zombies to you. Make sure the rest of us don't get eaten!"

"You can count on me!" Gourry assured as he took out the many zombies, guarding the rest of the group.

"Filia, your energy might be drained from the fight, but you can get holy energy from another source." Lina continued swiftly explaining her strategy. "I'm sure Luna is somehow aware of our situation; call out to her in prayer. Call out to the knight of Ceifeed and have her channel Ceifeed's energy through you."

"I understand!" Filia determinately agreed, immediately setting out to do her part.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive

Episode 150: Finale! Every End Brings A Beginning

It was the final effort against the Stillness. Lina had come up with a plan, which she quickly finished explaining. "Xellos, you'll be forcibly pulling Shabranigdu's energy from the Stillness' grasp along with me, but this won't be a double Dragon Slave." The crafty red haired sorceress got the idea from when she saw Amelia and Zelgadis casting Ra-Tilt together before. "This will only be one Dragon Slave casted by both of us. You better make sure not to fall out of rhythm, but don't strain yourself and put your life in danger either. I'll be counting on you to talk Beast Master into throwing a victory banquet for us when this is over with more of her delicious cooking!"

"She better not include dragon cuisine in the menu!" Filia protested.

"Dragon cuisine is the food of champions," Xellos teased, "of course we need to have some of that."

"You piece of raw garbage, we'll discuss this later!" Filia growled and went back to concentrating on calling out to Luna.

"Zelgadis," Lina continued handing out strategic roles in the final effort. "Prying Shabrannigdu's energy off the Stillness won't be easy, especially if it goes on the attack with those draining waves of light again. Keep the Stillness busy with astral attacks!"

"I'll give it everything!" Zelgadis assured.

"Amelia, we'll be counting on you to watch over all of us," Lina set the final piece in place. "Heal us with your magic and keep our spirits high!"

"I'll make sure we all continue our wonderful lives together!" Amelia cheered.

Thus the group effort against the ultimate enemy continued, against one that was in a sense the opposite of the Mother of All Things, and thus the opposite of all of them.

"Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite..." Zelgadis called upon power from the astral side.

"Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows..." Xellos and Lina chanted in perfect unison.

"Ivory beyond white, everlasting infinite light..." Receiving Ceifeed's power from Luna, Filia casted a powerful holy spell.

It was something against nothing, existence against nonexistence, chaos against emptiness. Gourry protected the group from the attacking zombies, using his skills and speed to move around them, not allowing any of the zombies to reach his precious friends.

"Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite... Ra-Tilt!" Weakened by Zelgadis' attack, the Stillness was losing its grip on Shabranigdu's power.

"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands..." Xellos and Lina continued simultaneously.

"Brightness that pierces the night, by your endless power destiny ignites..." Filia continued her spell as well.

To the tune of the improvised rhymes of the 'life is wonderful' song, Amelia constantly casted healing magic to make sure everyone maintained the strength and stamina needed to play their respective roles.

As soon as the Ra-Tilt was released, Zelgadis started casting another one, empowered by Amelia's healing magic. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite..."

"Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess..." Xellos and Lina had amassed a good amount of Shabranigdu's energy, forcibly stealing it from the Stillness.

"Let the world be purified by your might..." Filia was almost done with her spell.

"Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite..." Zelgadis' second Ra-Tilt was almost ready to attack.

"I won't allow this... I won't allow this world to exist!" In a final desperate effort, the silver mist glowed brightly, trying to drain away what little life was left on the surface of the planet, along with the planet itself.

xoxox xox xoxox

In Seyruun, Philionel, Naga, Gravos, Jillas, Elena, Palou and the people of Seyruun felt as if their very existence was being drained. The most recent zombie attack had just ended and Philionel was in the middle of addressing the city and all those present in it when they felt the attack from the astral side. "The enemy is reaching out to us in desperation! That means our comrades are almost victorious, we cannot let their efforts go to waste! We cannot allow the enemy to use our own energy against us!"

"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga laughed loudly and vigorously. "I came to Seyruun to make sure the world could go on after the battle, to make sure there was a place our brave heroes could return to, a place we could all call home." Her royal roots started to show as she addressed her people as a princess would. "Seyruun was and still is one of the places that is keeping the world alive. We are supporting life itself. It's up to us to do our part to help save the world. Everyone, hold on to life, wish to live with all your heart, think of the brave victory that lies ahead! Laugh with all your might and let us celebrate that we're alive!" Naga cheered. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Everyone who was gathered actually started laughing with Naga, not caring about how obnoxious they were. Their combined will sent a rush of positive energy towards the Stillness as it helplessly tried to steal their life force, only to have it work against it.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Taforashia, Pokota had been addressing his people as well. "Our will to live will save us. Be strong, let's show that we can't be erased!"

Similar situations were taking place all over the world, including Dragon's Peak where Milgazia's clan was putting up a strong resistance against the Stillness.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Wolf Pack Island, Zangulus, Martina and Sylphiel stood surrounded by wolves. "We're defending a monster lord's territory, but I guess it's okay this time," Sylphiel concluded.

"I'm pretty sure our boss' boss will be pleased with this," Zangulus agreed. "And these wolves are actually pretty good battle comrades." He patted one of the many ferocious wolves that Zelas kept on her island. Though they wouldn't normally allow humans near them without ripping them apart, they were used to having certain humans around when Beast Master said it was okay and acted more like puppies than wolves with those few exceptions.

"They're adorable once they know who their allies are," Martina agreed. "With the reward Lord Beast Master will give us we can rebuild the kingdom of Zoana and maybe even build a shrine to Zoamelgustar and a shrine to Beast Master! Ah! He he ha he he!"

Fang came running over in his semi-human form, with little Val flying by his side in dragon form. "Val is a fast learner; I've taught him a few tricks that are useful for battle!"

Sensing something in the atmosphere, Sylphiel pointed it out. "Do you sense that? It feels like the enemy is trying to drain our energy. I can't allow that!"

"The Stillness has another thing coming if it thinks it can steal energy from us!" Zangulus resolutely declared.

"We're too strong for it! Right, Val?" Fang cheered.

Val was all too happy to agree, "right!"

"We're protected by Zoamelgustar and by Beast Master, we can't be defeated!" Martina shouted victoriously.

xoxox xox xoxox

In a random little town where human survivors had gathered, Zelas was wrecking havoc. "Are you just going to give up? Are you just going to die? Feel fear, feel anger, feel a thirst for vengeance, feel alive!" Fighting a hopeless situation depressed people, but when the problem was an enemy rather than a seemingly hopeless situation, having a face to blame for their trouble gave people a target for their efforts. With that came the motivation to bring forth those efforts seeking vengeance, even if it was an impossible revenge.

The townspeople fought against the wolves that accompanied Zelas with no real chance of victory, but a stubborn lively determination. They didn't know she was planning to spare their lives to use their frustration to feed her monsters. This also contributed against the stillness because even negative emotions could encourage living when they fueled a strong fighting spirit. The monster lords couldn't get too close to the Stillness and the atmosphere was uncomfortable to them, but they were far stronger than regular monsters and could still put up a fight.

In other survivor settlements across the world, Dolphin and Dynast were bringing terror to the citizens in a similar way to Zelas. They never truly understood all of the complex details of the hidden truth, but they knew this was a good way to generate anger, fear and despair. The kind of negative emotions that had some substance to them, rather than that empty sorrow of quiet acceptance that tried to overtake the world. Overall, Zelas was enduring much better than the other monster lords because of the links she cunningly constructed with the chaotic living creatures of the world.

xoxox xox xoxox

In the main battle field, Gourry continued his efforts until every zombie had fallen to his powered up sword and the Stillness could no longer call anymore undead minions, as it braced itself for the impact of the powerful magic that was about to assault it.

"Resurrection!" Amelia extended her magic to the other spell casters for one final boost of power.

"Ra-Tilt!" Zelgadis released his spell, opening the path for the final blow.

"Dragon Slave!" Lina and Xellos released their team-casted spell.

At the same time, "Heaven Light!" Filia released the spell she had been casting with Luna's energy.

The magic hit the Stillness all at once, causing the silver mist to glow in all the colors visible to the eye as it finally began to fade away. The Stillness' final effort to drain away the energy from the people left on the planet backfired and it continued to disintegrate without a defense against the power of its opponents' magic and will to live. "It is not my end, not until everything ends!" The Stillness screeched as the silvery mist that formed it started to fade away.

Lina had begun to cast another spell soon after the Dragon Slave she casted with Xellos was released. "Multiply my humble speed, let all my energy be freed, to quickly do as I please, accelerate all my deeds. Haste!" Lina was drained from the battle and using a haste spell would only cause the remainder of her life to be drained away faster. Her hair was already starting to lose its color from her dangerously low energy level. Yet she knew this was necessary. "I won't let you escape; you won't retreat to come back again!"

The Stillness was an inch away from being completely destroyed and Lina knew they couldn't afford to go through a battle like this more than once. This enemy had to be defeated permanently now. "Invisible links of the chain, which binds all in this plane, make the target's struggle vain, follow the inescapable lane! Pursuit!" Lina casted the spell on herself, linking herself to the Stillness so that it wouldn't get away. This time it was different from the way the spell was used in the past. Probably because of the properties of the atmosphere where they were, Lina could clearly see a chain of astral energy linking her to the Stillness and dragging her along as it faded away.

"Lina!" Gourry struggled to reach Lina, but there was no way he could get to her fast enough. He could hear everyone calling out her name, none of them would be able to reach her. No one would be able to stop the Stillness from taking her away; Lina had chained herself to it. "Lina, take this!" Gourry couldn't reach her, but he could at least lend her his sword. Lina caught the dragon horn sword just in time as she faded away completely along with the Stillness. "Lina... Please win and come back like you always do."

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina held on to Gourry's sword as she went through a tunnel of light, the astral chains binding her to the silver mist ahead. "Human, there is nothing you can do. This is my final ability, the power of rebirth. I was destroyed back there, but I was not erased. What I have learned, I'll take it back with me to the past and come back stronger. This war will be repeated until I win and I know this second time will be the last!"

"So you're going to the past to merge with the past Stillness. That would create a paradox that would shake the very foundations of the world and make it that much more chaotic!" Lina threatened.

"It doesn't matter, because all that chaos will be gone in the end. The world will simply be even more imperfect than it already is!" The Stillness argued. "Don't you know? The illusion of logic is nothing but a lie, because the chaotic world is a mass of energies pushing and pulling with the random whims of those who inhabit it. You strive to create the effect that you expect and call it logic. Yet in the end the chaos of the world is ready to make it burst at the seams at all times with all its inexplicable phenomenon, starting with life itself. Existence is illogical, what is to live? What is to be? What is to exist? It is all imperfect chaos!" The Stillness bitterly accused.

"Bitterness," Lina observed, "even you who are nothing have become an entity. Hypocrite, if not for the chaos that contaminates you, you wouldn't exist. Since you hate chaos so much, I'll be taking it away, leaving you as a pure nothing that will forever fade into the emptiness of nonexistence! I will not allow you to reach the past! I was the one who caused the Lord of Nightmares to stop shielding the world for a moment and set the cycle of the end in motion. In a stubborn foolish whim that only a chaotic existence such as a human could have, I exchanged the world for the life of the man I love... Even though no one has directly blamed me, this time I'm going to take responsibility for my actions!"

'I allowed you to live even after you gave up everything, do not expect it to happen again...' Lina remembered the words spoken to her by the Mother of all Things.

"This sword's blade is made of dragon horn and the hilt is infused with monster energy, the dragons and the monsters, the representatives of the opposing forces that fuel the chaos of the world. Let this blade be tempered with the energy of the Mother of All Things, the Lord of Nightmares!" Lina shouted with unbreakable determination.

'I have been avoiding using this type of spell since your warning. I know I shouldn't abuse this power, but this time I'm not giving up anything. This time there's not a hint of desperate resignation in me,' Lina called out to the Mother of All Things in her thoughts.

With the power of chaos surrounding her, Lina chanted a powerful spell, using the dragon horn sword to channel it. "Lord of dreams that terrify, sword of cold and darkness, free yourself from the heaven's bonds. Become one with my power, one with my body and let us walk the path of destruction together! Ragna Blade!"

The dark chaotic energy of the Lord of Nightmares covered the sword becoming one with it as Lina attacked the Stillness one final time. The blade cut through the silvery mist, dissolving it truly and completely by absorbing anything related to chaos into it and leaving the Stillness as a pure nothing that could not exist. Finally, the Stillness was no more. The Ragna Blade faded from Lina's hand, the sword in its core being reduced to dust along with Lina's body, leaving her with a ghostly appearance.

Lina looked into the distance and saw the Sea of Chaos. A ghostly Tiffany that, other than being partially transparent looked like her original self, floated towards the Sea of Chaos. "This isn't your place, Lina. Don't you hear him calling you?"

Lina focused and she could hear it, faintly at first, then almost as clearly as if he were standing right next to her, it was Gourry's voice. "I hear him and I'm sure Celo is calling out to you too."

"He is..." Tiffany smiled with more warmth than anyone would guess a ghost could have. "But I don't have enough energy left to answer right now and he understands that. You're still charged with chaotic energy, so you can go back, you can be restored to how you used to be."

"Sorry for all the trouble I caused..." Lina apologized.

"It's okay," Tiffany assured. "You are the manifestation of chaos, acting rashly and evolving as a result is part of change, of motion, of life. I am free from the End and for that I'm thankful. Now go, Lina Inverse, let the strong emotion of the rush of a chaotic moment take you back to those who wait for you. Go and be alive!"

The ghostly Lina nodded with a bittersweet smile as she looked towards the blue sphere with patches of green and swirls of white, surrounded in a red glow of magical energy, that was her world. "Victory banquet, here I come!" Surrounded by a bright chaotic light, Lina flew towards the world from whence she came.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Lina... Lina... Lina..." She slowly opened her eyes and saw Gourry's smiling face with a background of clear blue skies. The group had returned to the surface and were at Zelgadis' island. "How do you feel, Lina, are you okay?"

Lina smiled, glad to be back. "I'm better than okay, we won, the Stillness is gone for good." She took in her surroundings, glancing around. Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos and Celo were all there. "I lost your sword, broke it actually. Sorry about that."

"It's okay," Gourry smiled sweetly, lovingly. "I'm just glad you're back."

Lina leaned into Gourry with the smile remaining on her face until she noticed a peculiar detail. "Why am I wearing Filia's cloak?"

As if it wasn't a big deal, Gourry explained. "You were naked when you fell from the sky, so Filia's letting you borrow her cloak so you don't catch a cold or something."

Lina's face turned an impossibly bright shade of red. She discretely peeked into the cloak, while making sure to keep herself covered. "I fell from the sky na... na..."

"Now you know how I felt during that town rampage incident," Filia commented with a teasing smile.

Lina felt her whole body shake in mortified rage and she reacted in the only way she could think of right now. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."

"The Stillness was destroyed, so Lord Ruby Eyes is no longer being drained by it," Xellos pointed out. That meant that the Dragon Slave should be back to normal and given Lina's temper that translated to trouble.

Lina continued, "buried in the stream of time is where your power grows..."

"Lina, don't destroy this island, I need it!" Zelgadis pleaded.

Too mortified to listen to reason, Lina did not stop. "I pledge myself to conquer, all the foes who stand..."

"Forget the island; if anyone tries to interfere with us again they'll have to answer to me!" Amelia bravely declared with more aggression than anyone expected from her. She wouldn't let anyone come between her and Zelgadis again, especially not because of an outdated technicality.

Lina kept going, "before the mighty gift bestowed, in my unworthy hands..."

"Amelia..." Zelgadis was taken by surprise with Amelia's determination and it made him very happy. He too was set on making things work by any means necessary.

Lina was dangerously close to finishing her spell and it didn't look like anyone, not even Gourry, could stop her now. "Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed..."

"Everyone gather around for an emergency teleportation!" Celo urgently called out.

"By the power you and I possess!" Everyone except Lina was teleported away from the island. "Dragon Slave!" The island was no more...

xoxox xox xoxox

Several days later, Seyruun was full of great festivities. Amelia and Zelgadis were enjoying their time together. He expected trouble to arise because his island was destroyed, thus he was no longer the ruler of anything. Yet surprisingly, no one tried to steal away the throne after all. Maybe the stubborn distant relatives of Amelia came to their senses, perhaphs because Amelia got fed up and threatened to break their bones with a pacifist crush. Either way, the point was that the happy couple was allowed to be together without any further complications.

Lina and Gourry were pigging out. King Philionel was giving a victorious justice speech. Naga and Martina were laughing loudly. Gravos and Zangulus had formed a mutual understanding for each other and became good friends. Martina had recently noticed she was pregnant, she and Zangulus were very excited about baby Zoamelgustar, or excited and terrified in his case. Jillas and Elena were talking animatedly, clearly enjoying each other's company. Fang was playing with Val, Palou and Fili. Milgazia, Memphis, Phythan, Onyx and Sylphiel were also guests at Seyruun. Solex was safely sleeping inside his egg. Xellos was a monster again, continuously teasing Filia as he always did, but she was okay with that.

Even Zelas attended the party at Seyruun... and brought some dragon cuisine to share. Lina and Gourry appreciated her cooking, though none of the dragons present were happy about it. Enjoying the festivities, despite the inconveniences, Filia mused about how much her life had changed and yet the essence of it had been preserved. Life was certainly full of a lot of crazy twists and turns. The unexpected occurred and the impossible was discovered not to be impossible after all. Life was unpredictable, erratic, hectic, confusing, exciting, amazing, chaotic... Chaos, that's what it was to be alive. Filia realized that deep down she didn't want it any other way.

End

I used the Kanzaka Dex and Slayers Universe for information references on characters, places, magic and other details.

I don't own the anime, video games, movies or tv series mentioned on this site. I'm only doing this for fun and no profits are being made.

The Slayers and Lost Universe original novels were written by Hajime Kanzaka.

There are a whole bunch of the challenge themes from Beloved Enemy scattered throughout both parts of the story.

Some of the original characters that appear in this story are Phythan, Onyx, Celo, Tiffany, Fang, Kalio, Kally, Medusa, Galathia, Erosnum, Jewel, Kirei, Topaz, Saramina and other minor characters.

The title of Slayers: Alive is a reference to the Alive Beam from Phantasy Star Portable 2 as the theme of the story centers around the will to live on.

The monster parrot that first appears on Episode 002 is partially based on Neuro's true form from Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro.

Episode 006 was inspired by the movie Inception.

The dream eater or lesser imp from Episode 007 was based on the evil Gremlings, the version they turn into if fed after midnight. The sad kitten look from the same episode was inspired by Puss from Shrek 2.

The giant worm that pretends to be a cave and the transparent goop monster in Episode 008 are based on the Exogorth from Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back and the Revival Jam from Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Battle City episodes respectively.

The design of the fairy from Episode 011 is based on Navi from Legend of Zelda. The story about the mermaid is a combination of The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.

In Episode 012, Lina's dresses were based on dresses worn by Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Jessica was also the model in the poster. Lina's final dress was inspired by Serena's princess dress from Sailor Moon.

In Episode 013, Amelia's dresses were based on Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. Amelia's chosen dress was partially based on Tiana's costume party dress from The Princess and the Frog and Queen Serenity's dress from Sailor Moon, with the brooch partially based on Peach from Mario. Filia's first two dresses are based on Peach and Daisy from Mario. Deedlit and Parn are from Record of Lodoss War.

The Kompeito mentioned in Episode 018 is a type of sugar candy from Japan.

Giovanni from Pokemon and three of my Pokemon fanfic characters Comet, Pixel and Laiki, appear in Episode 024. The novel Zelgadis read was a reference to Don't Give Me Diamonds.

The manga collection Lina mentioned in Episode 026 was Dragon Ball Z. The plushie prizes were based on Hello Kitty, Fantastic Four (the Thing) and Superman.

The costumes the main characters wear on Episode 027 were based on Rika from Phantasy Star IV (Lina), Link from Legend of Zelda (Zelgadis), Wonder Woman from the DC comics (Amelia), Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII (Gourry), James from Pokemon (Phythan), Sailor Venus from Sailor Moon (Filia) and the Dark Magician from Yu-Gi-Oh! (Xellos).

Phythan was reading the Death Note manga in Episode 029.

The Haste and Hastaga spells first mentioned on Episode 030 are from Final Fantasy.

The mutant called Quicksilver Naga mentions in Episode 035 is a reference to Pietro Maximoff from X-Men: Evolution. The swordsman with the horse named Epona, mentioned by Gourry is Link from Legend of Zelda.

The names of Aya and Kyle on Episode 040 are a reference to Parasite Eve and the names of Alys and Chaz are a reference to Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium; they are not the same characters, they only share their names. Sasha, Anna and Manna from Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town are cameos by the characters from the game.

The animals Filia and Xellos imagine in Episode 044 are Babs, Fifi and Dizzy from Tiny Toons and Pikachu from Pokemon.

On Episode 046 pulpo is Spanish for octopus.

The title of Episode 052, Show Me How To Care, comes from the song Sweet Kiwi by Marooned 5.

I couldn't find any official names for Lina's parents first mentioned on Episode 053. I named her father after Light Inverse from Slayers Light Magic. Labyrinthine's name represents the mystery of Lina's parents and I thought it would be funny if they all had simple L names, except for one with a complicated L name that's too long for Gourry. The swords are: Elsydeon (Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium), Espelancer (Legend of Heroes: Tear of Vermilion), Masamune (Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, others), Muramasa (Samurai Deeper Kyo, others), Tessaiga (Inuyasha).

Jarde, who first appears in Episode 056 of Alive, is from Valkyria Chronicles II. The episode title Get Along! Try Again is based on the Slayers opening theme.

Credits to Rinoaebastel for the Xellos ice-cream cone joke on Episode 057.

The three figthers wearing red, blue and green on Episode 058 are based on the style of Street Figther characters.

Xellos' nickname of Ice-cream first used on Episode 060 is a reference to Hey Arnold! since it's Helga's codeword for Arnold. It also fits with the ice-cream cone dream on Episode 057.

Xellos' collar reacting to the word sit on Episode 062 is a reference to Inuyasha.

The piranha plants in Episode 064 are based on the ones from Mario. Lina and Amelia made Sailor Moon poses.

In Episode 066 there's a small reference to Pokemon in Zelas' line, from the episode where James' parents say that that Jessebelle is "too good for our delinquent son."

The Scream mentioned in Episode 067 refers to the famous painting by Edvard Munch. Zelas' alias of Yuna is after the character from Final Fantasy X since she is a summoner and Zelas is Beast Master.

The golden pyramid in Episode 069 looks like the Millennium Puzzle from Yu-Gi-Oh!

Filia's explanation of "she's a she, he's a he" on Episode 070 is a reference to when Yusei meets Leo and Luna in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds.

The old lady from the shop on Episode 071 was Cologne from Ranma 1/2.

The title of Episode 073, Size Matters, is a reference to Ratchet and Clank. The Temple of Chronos is from Slayers: Light Magic.

In Episode 075, Justice For All is a reference to the Phoenix Wright game series. The sign in the garden signed by Aeris is a reference to Final Fantasy VII.

The purple haired girl with glasses on Episode 077 was Lucca from Chrono Trigger, who was traveling with Magus.

The spaghetti kiss on Episode 079 is a reference to Lady and the Tramp.

The title of Episode 084, Prepare For Trouble, is a reference to Team Rocket from Pokemon.

The octopice quotes on Episode 086 have references to: "bare my children" (Miroku from Inuyasha), "I will never be a memory" (Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children), "ogres are like onions" (Shrek), "may the force be with you" (Star Wars) and "they've got more fur than any turtle ever had" (opening song from Samurai Pizza Cats). The mirror of truth is based on the one from (the original) Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.

Howl, Sophie, Markl and Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle are referenced in Episode 088. The spell Xellos casts is in Latin.

The name Yuuyami, first mentioned on Episode 089, means dusk in Japanese.

First appearing on Episode 100, Neuro and Yako are from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. Zenki, Chiaki and Lupapa are from Zenki.

On Episode 103 the wedding crashers were Shrek and Donkey. The 'left turn at Albuquerque' is a reference to Bugs Bunny. The cruise ship is named after the airship from Final Fantasy VII.

On Episode 107, the man in green and his horse were Link and Epona from Legend of Zelda. Relm is from Final Fantasy IV. Momoka is from Zombie Loan. Laiki is one of my Pokemon fanfic characters from Don't Give Me Diamonds.

Fili's siblings first mentioned on Episode 109 are named after the original four ghosts from Pac-Man, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

The title of Episode 111 Hope Is Hard To Kill is from the Prince of Egypt movie song. I'm basing my dragon weight estimates on dinosaurs, specifically the T-Rex.

On Episode 116, Prisoner Island is a reference to Samurai Pizza Cats, although, unlike the secret resort in that series, the Prisoner Island in the fanfic is actually a jail. Piquel is a reference to Bonkers, not the same character, they only share a surname.

The red parrot in Episode 119 is Iago from Aladdin.

The last part of the spell Xellos casts in Episode 121 is in Latin.

Zelas calling Xellos brat boy on Episode 123 is a reference to Madame Boss from Pokemon.

The dragon keychain Filia gives Xellos on Episode 133 is based on Ly-Xu's fanart.

Filia's peculiar adventures from the end of Episodes 134 and Episode 135 are based on Alice in Wonderland.

The green parrot from Episode 135 is Thundra from Aladdin.

The title of Episode 136, All The World's A Stage, is a reference to Shakespeare. The "I am your father" quote is from Star Wars.

On Episode 138, Cactuar is from Final Fantasy. The hypnotic cactus in an ice-cream stand situation is based on Outlaw Star episode 13.

Ash, Misty and Pikachu from Pokemon make an appearance on Episode 140.

On Episode 141, Miku Hatsune is from Vocaloids. Kooky and Kootie Pie are Ludwig and Wendy's names from the Super Mario animated series.

The title of Episode 146, Break Free And Rise Up, is a reference to Zenki. Banora apples are from Final Fantasy VII. Won is from Harvest Moon.

My Main Site: http://azurelight.net
Deviant Art: http://mikaristar.deviantart.com
Fanart Central: http://fanart-central.net/user/AzureMikari/

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