Beast Master's latest enigmatic plot involves Xellos and Filia temporarily switching species. The dragon Xellos and monster Filia join Lina and the others, as Zelgadis becomes closer than ever to his chimera cure. Together with unexpected allies, they face a force that threatens to destroy both the over-world and their own world.
Episode 001: Moonlight! The Legendary Maiden
The voice was melodious yet fierce, dangerous. The young merchant rushed his horse, but the large brown animal didn't pick up the pace too much. The steed was tired and the carriage was heavy, loaded with recently imported goods to sell in his village near the Coastal States. The man insisted, trying to make the horse hurry again. That voice was so detached, so eerie, yet so beautiful, it was dangerous. No doubt about it, it was the ghost of a maiden, a beautiful maiden that would lure unsuspecting men to a grim fate should they curiously follow her song.
The merchant shivered. He liked beautiful women as much as the next man, but he wasn't stupid. He wouldn't go chasing after some phantom just so he could suffer and most likely die. The echo of howls was heard in the moonlit night. "C'mon boy, hurry up!" The merchant looked at the full moon. Why did that ship have to be delayed? Why did he have to wait for it? He was better off trying to find sustenance for the next month with nothing to sell, than in this terrible danger. He whistled to calm himself as he looked left and right at the trees and shrubbery at the roadside.
The wolves' growls were getting stronger, closer. The merchant considered abandoning his cargo and riding away on his horse. He even considered leaving his horse on the cargo carriage as bait for the wolves and making his escape on foot, but it was too late. Black and gray beasts surrounded the carriage. Their sharp white fangs and claws glinted in the moonlight. They were ferocious and they would without a doubt devour him.
A woman stepped out of the shadows, the moonlight revealing her beautiful young face. She was dressed in a long white tunic with slits on the sides and golden bracelets and anklets. She showed no fear for the fact that she was surrounded by a pack of large wolves, their strong muscles noticeable under their thick black and gray fur.
The merchant gasped. The moonlight maiden was indeed beautiful as he had heard. She was lovely, ethereal, tempting... but he wasn't stupid. Any other man would chase after this phantom without a second thought, but not him, he was smarter than that. He was also intelligent enough to know that he had no escape. His nervous breaths became ragged as he imagined the wolves tearing apart his flesh. As if that fate was not terrible enough, the maiden would put a curse on him, he imagined, and his pained soul would forever wonder, knowing no rest, just like her.
The maiden smiled with more cheer than one would expect from a being that was supposed to be a specter. She extended her hand, golden bangles jiggling against each other. Her body looked solid, unlike the see through body of a ghost, but the merchant was certain it was only a carefully crafted illusion. "Would you please feed my friends?" She motioned towards the wolves with her hand.
The frightened merchant appeared to hyperventilate for a moment after hearing her speak. He knew it; she intended to feed him to her wolves! The night's soft breeze played with the mysterious maiden's short black hair, her blue eyes sparkling like stars. 'She's beautiful, she looks like a princess, she is...' His train of thought faded into nothing as darkness overtook his senses and he knew nothing more.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days prior... Amelia, being the kind hearted soul she was, had gone off to assist a village in exorcising the ghost of a maiden that was severely affecting their lives. Men would often go missing, sometimes returning to town days later with lost expressions, muttering something about wolves. Their faces were tired and worn, their eyes bloodshot with black rings of insomnia around them, their throats dry, their flesh covered with cuts, teeth marks and dirt. Their memories were wiped clean of the recent happenings. They could only remember seeing an ethereal lady surrounded by wolves and the next thing they knew, days had gone by and they were stumbling around disoriented in the outskirts of the village. Sometimes the missing people didn't return at all.
The villagers welcome the white magic using sorceress and begged her to solve their problem. At night, Amelia and her traveling companion and fiance, Zelgadis, had gone off to investigate the maiden's appearance. The night was dark with only a crescent moon in that occasion. They ventured into the area surrounding the village, into the deserted path that no one dared to walk at night, no one except the exceptionally brave and they were the only ones at the village brave enough to overtake this mission.
The sound of howls was heard, followed by growls and rapid running. They were wolves and they were closing in. The glowing golden eyes of a larger female wolf peeked from the bushes on the road side, then she quickly retreated as if daring the pair on the road to follow her. Amelia took a step forward, Zelgadis watching her back. Rustling was heard from the bushes on the opposite side of the road and the chimera turned around. There was something on that side too.
The black wolf with golden eyes appeared again near Amelia. The beast then backed away, calm, collected and majestic. Curious, Amelia approached while Zelgadis was still tense, observing the movement in the bushes on the opposite side of the road. The chimera drew his sword in preparation for a possible upcoming attack and cast Astral Vine just in case. He assumed that Amelia was inches away behind him. In their recent travels, or as Amelia called it, their crusade of justice, they had gotten even more accustomed to fighting back to back. Albeit they usually fought bandits and other such evildoers, not wolves, or haunted wolves.
The lights of glowing eyes of a silver color were seen on Zelgadis' side of the road and he tensed up at the ready. 'Pounce, just try to pounce and I'll slice you in half...' He thought, ready for a fierce fight. At the same time, Amelia got closer to the black wolf with golden eyes; she didn't look like she would attack. The princess took a few more steps forward and looked beyond the vegetation on the roadside.
There was a woman dressed in a white tunic with slits on the sides of the skirt and abundant golden jewelry. Her skin was tan and smooth, her eyes a glowing metallic silver, her hair a shiny platinum that cascaded to her waist. The elegant woman motioned for silence by placing her right index finger over her lips. Amelia tilted her head in puzzlement and looked back towards where Zelgadis was focusing on the movement in the bushes at the other side of the road. The mysterious woman shook her head and beckoned Amelia to come closer with a gesture of her hand.
The princess curiously approached. Amelia knew this woman was no phantom, she knew exactly who this was, her name was Beast Master Zelas Metallium. In a soft melodious whisper, the monster lord spoke, "would you do me a little favor, Amelia?"
Amelia considered her words. A monster lord who wanted a favor might ask for something sinister, but she didn't want to judge Zelas on the basis of her species alone. So what if she was a monster? So was Xellos and he was a part of their group, even if he often had his own agenda and plans of manipulation. Besides, Zelas had temporarily joined forces with Lina and the others in the past for the sake of defeating a greater enemy during the latest near end of the world. She was Xellos' mother, she was Filia's mother in law, she was...getting impatient for an answer. "If it's nothing bad..."
Amelia was standing right next to Zelas by the time she replied, the black female wolf with golden eyes who answered to the name of Chaos was right next to them, calmly sitting beside her master. Zelas grinned, "not at all," then she and Amelia faded away as the monster lord teleported via the astral side to further discuss her request.
Meanwhile... 'C'mon, pounce already...' Zelgadis glared at the roadside bushes. 'I'm not going to lower my guard, so quit waiting for an opportunity!' He glared some more with growing impatience. "Stay on your guard Amelia," he knew she was aware of that necessity, but the silence between them had become uncomfortable. Why wasn't she saying something along the lines of 'come out of hiding wicked villains! You cannot escape the punishment of justice!' Or something like that? "Amelia?" There was no answer. "Amelia?" Zelgadis turned around to find nothing but empty space behind him. "Amelia!" Where did she disappear to?
As soon as Zelgadis lowered his guard, a large black beast with silver eyes jumped out of the bushes where it had been hiding waiting for an opportunity. The creature tackled Zelgadis to the ground, making him drop his sword in the process. Zelgadis struggled to get free to no avail, the wolf-like beast was as big as a horse and it had him pinned down to the ground. There was no escape...
The beast of silver eyes and black fur had Zelgadis pinned to the ground on the night of the crescent moon. The creature's fangs were sticking out of his mouth unnaturally, like a saber tooth tiger of ancient times. The being opened his mouth and Zelgadis was actually thankful that he was a chimera. He couldn't move, but maybe his rock hard skin would allow him to survive the encounter. Surprisingly, the animal's breath didn't carry the stench of blood. In fact, his mouth smelled oddly minty fresh. The creature licked Zelgadis' face affectionately like a puppy.
The chimera blinked in confusion. Upon closer inspection he realized that this was not a wolf. The large being was the size of a horse and had wolf-like features to it, but it was in fact more so a fox, a monster and fox chimera to be specific. His ears held the trademark style of foxes and he had two big fluffy fox tails that were almost as large as his massive torso. "Fang..." The creature gave Zelgadis another lick. "Get off me."
Obediently, the playful monster fox got off Zelgadis. He was another of Zelas minion's or more like a pet, a very spoiled pet. He was strong, certainly not as strong as Xellos, but none the less with the capability of a high level monster. There was a price to pay though, while circumstances were arranged so that the monster and fox fusion would not diminish his power, it was his monster malice that was sacrificed. Being partly physical, he had added defenses that purely astral beings would not have, though he was still semi-vulnerable to spells design to affect monsters, he was less vulnerable than a pure high ranked monster would be and that made a significant difference in battle. He could be fierce, but only if he was ordered to be. The rest of the time, Fang was harmless.
Zelgadis got to his feet and picked up his sword, returning it to its sheath. He examined the surrounding area. Amelia was nowhere to be found. "Where's Amelia?"
Fang sniffed around as if searching for the princess' scent. He faded to the astral side, then returned and posed like a hunter dog pointing to his master's prey towards the direction Zelgadis had been facing earlier.
"She's not there. I was looking that way," Zelgadis argued. "If Amelia had run in that direction, I would have seen her." None the less, Fang insisted in pointing in that direction and Zelgadis let out a frustrated breath. The chimera assumed that the monster fox had no idea what he was pointing at. In truth, Fang's information was accurate, as Wolf Pack Island was in that direction, albeit many miles away.
Zelgadis set out to look for Amelia in the direction he thought she had gone, with Fang following him wagging his tails. "Your master is involved in this, isn't she?" Fang offered no reply, but none was needed. He was Zelas' pet and Zelas was fond of wolves. She had to be at the center of the problem. "Beast Master!" Zelgadis boldly called. "Beast Master, are you here? Beast Master!"
The atmosphere turned heavy with dread as if there was a vast concentration of negative emotions that this time the source was not trying to hide. In a flash of black light she appeared. She wore her usual white tunic that showed off her slender legs and perfect tan. A multitude of bangles and anklets of gold jiggled together as she took a defiant step forward. Her beautiful platinum hair flowed down to her waist behind her, tugged behind her long pointy ears, her silver eyes piercing, as if looking into Zelgadis' very soul. "You called?" She grinned as she spoke in a melodious voice.
Zelgadis swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. He was generally brave, calm and composed, but for all he knew Amelia could be in grave danger. Besides, only a suicidal masochist would go without worries while in Zelas' imposing presence. "Where's Amelia?" His voice came out quieter than he expected.
"She is, and will be for some time, under my care." Zelas replied with a commanding voice that left no room for arguments.
Zelgadis considered demanding Amelia's freedom, but he knew it would be useless. Instead he attempted to obtain more information in hopes of reasoning with the monster lord. "Why?"
Zelas' grinned as she slightly leaned forward and shook her right index finger in front of her face. Her long perfectly manicured silver painted nails glittered in the light of the crescent moon, golden bangles making soft cling-clang noises as they collided gently against each other. "That is a secret..."
Zelgadis frowned; this was a hostage situation if he ever saw one. "What do you want from Amelia?"
The same gesture from before was repeated once again with the same quote. "That is a secret..."
"Is there anything you can tell me that isn't a secret?" Zelgadis was becoming frustrated. His worry and anger were starting to overcome the caution of his survival instinct.
Zelas adopted a thoughtful expression. "Many things actually, albeit I don't see how they would be relevant to your current situation." She gave him a mocking expression of superiority. "Although..." there was a long dramatic pause. Zelgadis had been about to speak, but he stopped silent, waiting for Zelas to finish with hopes that some sort of agreement could be reached and Amelia would be freed. "I will tell you one fact. If you kill the moonlight maiden that currently haunts this village, Amelia will be freed."
The word currently was emphasized as if it was of peculiar significance, but Zelgadis did not notice. Instead he questioned, "kill? How can she be killed? Isn't she already dead? I thought she was a ghost."
"Oh no, the moonlight maiden is very much alive," Zelas assured. "If you kill her, Amelia will be free. She will be free in every sense. I assure you these words I speak are indeed true."
Zelgadis nodded. He had no doubts that Zelas was telling the truth, but she probably wasn't telling the whole truth. Even the most truthful words could be very deceiving when spoken without completion, without context. "I don't know how it would be of any benefit to you, but..." There was surely a grander scheme at work, something that would probably not come to light until it had already been set in motion, until it was too late. "I will do this task." Zelgadis would be helping a monster lord, but he would be doing it for Amelia's sake. "All that I ask for is Amelia's safety."
"Not I or those under my command shall bring any harm to her." Zelas smiled with superior confidence and noticeable mocking amusement. Her face was that of a skilled manipulator, a cunning master mind, an expert hunter, an invincible beast.
xoxox xox xoxox
Time passed and the moon would be waning that night, but for the time being it was still daylight. The village went about its business in the afternoon with people commenting about the recent happenings. The travelers that claimed they would solve the problem concerning the moonlight maiden had not been able to do so. Furthermore, the lady white mage was gone and the chimera man wondered the town and its surrounding area sleepless and troubled.
That same chimera was currently sitting at an outdoor table in front of a quaint little cafe in the company of another chimera companion, among two others. The villages assumed that the young man with black hair, silver eyes, prominent fangs, albeit certainly not as alarmingly large as in his other form, black fox ears and a tail, was a mix of human and fox, albeit this almost human shape was just a disguise and his true nature was that of a monster and fox chimera.
As for the two others who accompanied the blue skinned chimera, they were a woman with blond hair, who was twitching incessantly in annoyance. Her ears were long and pointy making people think that she was an elf. Albeit a few had noticed the golden scaly tail with a pink bow that peeked out from under her skirt, that young woman was a golden dragon. The final component of the quartet that sat at that table in front of the little cafe in a small village near the Coastal States was a man with purple hair and a seemingly eternal unwavering smile.
The purple haired man was being peculiarly greeted by the fox man, who licked his face continuously. "Xellos!" Fang cheered happily. "I missed playing with you." He was practically on Xellos' lap, which made the scene appear to be terribly wrong from the point of view of gutter-minded or simply misinformed nosy passer-bys. Albeit Fang was perfectly capable of communicating with words and following instructions, he was an innocent pet at heart and saw nothing wrong with licking his master's favorite minion who was also like a secondary master to him.
"I know, but this terrible dragon wants my attention all to herself." Xellos laughed and petted Fang on the head. "She has her reasons to want me around though; she's so stupid and helpless. If it weren't for me, she wouldn't even be able to dress herself!"
Zelgadis waited patiently for the antics to pass, holding his face in his hands, elbows resting on the table, cup of tea untouched. "You piece of raw garbage!" Filia shifted abruptly, her tail tapping one of the table's legs, causing the surface to shake. Her half consumed cup of tea was almost spilled, but she saved it on time.
"What?" Xellos adopted a look of unfitting innocence, making no effort to deny the fact that he was somehow used to answering to 'raw garbage' by now. "Did I get that backwards?"
Filia's face burned red with embarrassment and anger. She clenched her teeth and mentally counted to ten.
To be Continued
Episode 002: Possession! Cue The Exorcist
People were staring as the monster fox chimera licked the purple haired man like a puppy, except the passer bys who didn't know him couldn't picture him as a pet when he looked mostly human. Even if no one else seemed to be concerned, Xellos because he was a shameless monster and Zelgadis because he had his mind on other matters, Filia did care. "Fang, I think you've licked Xellos enough."
"Jealous, are we?" Xellos teased.
"I like you too, Filia!" Moving from his position next to Xellos, Fang looked ready to tackle Filia and lick her face, but he stopped when Xellos grabbed the spiky black collar he wore around his neck, that match the spiky wristbands and the overall look of his dark outfit that some would call goth.
"Now, now, Fang, that's not how you greet Filia," Xellos reminded in a sweet yet serious warning tone. "I've taught you this before, how do you greet Filia?"
"I give her my paw or hand..." Fang extended his hand towards Filia, who shook it.
"That's a good boy," Xellos petted Fang on the head with approval and he wagged his fox tail in response.
Filia grinned, "so you taught Fang how to properly greet me as in not to lick me... jealous, are we?"
"Goodness no!" Xellos laughed with a mix of the amusement that comes from hearing the impossible and the offense that comes from hearing the unthinkable. "I just don't want poor Fang to lick a filthy dragon. He could get sick and even die!"
"Then why aren't you dead?" Filia retorted with what she thought was a smart comeback... until it left her mouth.
Zelgadis slowly lifted his head from his hands to look at Filia as she rotated her head towards him. Her expression changed from the fierce glare she was giving Xellos to a pleading look that begged that any further inquiries be forgotten. "Can we move on to more important matters?" Zelgadis voiced.
Filia straitened in her chair and nodded sagely. "Of course, why did you call us here so urgently?" The letter that had been delivered to them instantly via a spell that summoned a monster courier bird sounded rather urgent. Filia was wondering if it had anything to do with the bad omens she had been getting. She kept spilling things, misplacing items and so on. It could signify the coming of a greater tragedy, a much greater loss. Or maybe it was just more of Xellos mischief. At least that was what Filia thought until she read Zelgadis' letter.
"Oh yes, Zelgadis, do tell," Xellos feigned concerned interest. "Why did you call us here interrupting our vacation? Is it that you had a fight with Amelia and she's not giving you any attention, so you want to share your misery by interrupting and preventing me from getting any attention from Filia? And by attention I mean-"
"Shut up, raw garbage!" Filia demanded, slamming her fist into the table. Her tea was spilled and though she hurried to set the cup up straight and clean the mess with napkins, the tea was already lost. "I've been having so many bad omens lately." She furiously wiped at the wooden table with the napkin. "I keep spilling things and losing things. At first I thought it was just Xellos, but your letter's timing has to be more than a coincidence!"
Zelgadis pushed away his cup of tea, setting it in front of Filia, "here." He hadn't even touched it and he didn't feel like drinking it anyway. "I think all of these unfortunate occurrences really are Xellos' pranks." This was no time to worry about superstitions or premonitions or uncertain things when there was so much more to worry about.
"I suppose..." Filia sighed, "thank you," she took a sip of tea; it had grown cold by then.
"Meow," a black cat with shiny golden eyes walked by and meowed at the group, specifically at Zelgadis.
Xellos grinned, "I thought you were leaving the hints to me," he whispered under his breath. The cat's eyes met Xellos and just as suddenly as the feline came, she was gone.
"Black cats are a warning," Filia commented with wide eyes. "Humans say they are bad luck, but some dragons believe that felines, such as cats, especially the black ones, have an extra sense. They don't bring back luck, they warn you of a coming disaster." She paused, shaking her head. "But that's just a superstition..."
A howl was heard and it was hard to tell if it was a dog or a wolf. "A howl means that death is near..." Xellos warned with a grin. The shadow of a bird passed overhead and Xellos looked up, silently prompting the others to look with the action. It was a dove; it flew in circles above them continuously. "Crows are bad luck too." As Xellos spoke, Zelgadis and Filia automatically looked at him.
"What crow?" Filia inquired. "That's a," she looked up, the bird that she was sure was a white dove before was now a black crow. "Okay, now I know you're messing with us! I'm sure all these bad omens are only a coincidence!"
"Right, I have a real problem to deal with and have no time to worry about superstitions and broken mirrors!" Zelgadis agreed. He had finally lost his patient and needed to communicate his dilemma.
"You broke a mirror?" Xellos grinned mockingly. "With that face I'm not surprised."
Zelgadis glared, "I'm not talking to you." He turned his attention towards Filia. "I'm sorry to have called you here so suddenly, but I really need your help with an exorcism. The exorcism is... I should tell you the full story first..."
Thus Zelgadis began to tell a story that took place in the recent past. He told his newly arrived companions about how he and Amelia had tried to investigate the moonlight maiden. He told them about Amelia's disappearance and about Zelas' involvement. Or rather, he told Filia, because he was sure that Xellos already knew. "That's what happened..." the chimera finally concluded at least the first part of his tale.
Filia was looking shocked, but she also had a 'should have known' look in her eyes. Xellos was giving Zelgadis a look of false innocence that he was not even trying to mask as being real. Taking a deep breath, Zelgadis continued. "After I made that deal with Zelas, I realized exactly what she meant when she said Amelia would be free if I killed the moonlight maiden. Beast Master wasn't lying, but I can't possibly hurt the moonlight maiden in any way! A few days ago, on the night of the full moon..."
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelgadis was prepared for the worse, or so he thought. He researched exorcism spells and tried to remember every detail of what Amelia did when she had to exorcise a few wandering spirits during their travels. Armed with great determination and a repertoire of magic, Zelgadis ventured out on the night of the full moon.
Zelgadis spotted some people ahead, wolves, a human figure, a carriage. He quickly approached, making no effort to hide his presence, by now he knew that a battle was inevitable, so there was no sense in delaying it. A heavy mist invaded the atmosphere as a ball of light formed in his hand, yet it couldn't pierce the darkness of the miasma. He threw the ball of light at the human figure before he could really see her features. He wondered if she dodged, she most likely did.
The miasma covered the whole area, the merchant in the carriage was unconscious and the wolves growled threateningly, their fierce eyes glowing aggressively. "Who dares to attack my friends?" A woman's voice, very much like Amelia's, called out in her justice speech tone. "Evil doer, I will not let you harm them!" Howls were heard followed by the same voice, Amelia's voice, loudly declaring, "Fireball!"
Zelgadis dodged out of the way of the barrage of fireballs heading straight towards him. "Amelia!" He called out her name, this wasn't the moonlight maiden, this was Amelia.
The mist around the area faded slightly. Neither Amelia nor Zelgadis could explain where it came from and where it went so suddenly, but Zelas surely could. "Zelgadis?" There she stood, wearing a white tunic with slits on the sides of the skirt and abundant golden jewelry, anklets and bracelets that jiggled together with her every movement.
This was Amelia alright, and for a moment, Zelgadis felt relieved. He didn't understand why she was in the company of all those wolves and why she was dressed like Zelas, but she was apparently unharmed. "I'm glad you're safe," he took a step forward and the wolves blocked his path. He stopped, more concerned about Amelia then himself, yet the wolves didn't appear to be aggressive towards her.
As if remembering something, Amelia's face became serious. The miasma around her increased, it gave her an otherworldly appearance. Her dress and hair slightly moved in a breeze that seemed to be present only around her and the mist that surrounded her somehow made her voice echo. "I am the moonlight maiden..." Amelia spoke in a lost yet serious tone. "All those who defy me shall perish! Retreat at once!"
Zelgadis stepped back, he understood, or so he thought. The moonlight maiden needed to be exorcised after all, she was in Amelia, she had taken over her! That's what Zelas meant when she spoke of the current moonlight maiden. Amelia had become the moonlight maiden since that time when she disappeared. Zelgadis formed a ball of light in his hands; the spell floated towards Amelia but had no effect on her. The chimera assumed that he simply wasn't skilled enough in exorcism to accomplish this very vital task of freeing Amelia from the spirit that he concluded was possessing her. He couldn't fight Amelia, he could never bring himself to harm her.
Zelas wasn't lying, if the current moonlight maiden was killed, Amelia would be free, her spirit would be free to pass on, free in death. It wasn't a lie; it was a very cruel truth. Zelgadis backed away. "Amelia..." Their eyes met and there was a hint of something. An apology, a request for understanding, a deep connection, a consolation, the silent promise that somehow everything would be okay, trust, love, he saw it all in a split second in her eyes. Then he retreated.
Zelgadis ran back to the village as fast as he could. The being that had entrapped Amelia, making her spirit a prisoner of her own body was strong. He couldn't exorcise it, but he could think of someone who might be able to. Someone who knew holy magic, someone who was a golden dragon, someone like Filia...
xoxox xox xoxox
The moon was waning that night, making the atmosphere around the village darker. Filia lit another lantern and set it up on the side of the road. "This is a special ritual exorcism spell," she had explained when they began the task. "It's powerful against wandering spirits, but gentle with the host."
Zelgadis set another lantern on the ground on the side of the road and stepped back to examine their work. There were lanterns all over on the sides of the rural path leading to the village near the Coastal States. "Do you really think these lights will attract the spirit of the moonlight maiden that's possessing Amelia?"
"Of course!" Filia assured. "The spirit will be drawn to the light and will want to follow the path of lanterns, from the dimmest towards the brightest. Then at the end of the path where the brightest lights are, we have the spell circle all set up. Once Amelia steps into it, she'll be free from that spirit!" After finishing her explanation, Filia glared over at Xellos. "It'll work, right, raw garbage?"
Xellos grinned in return, shaking his finger in front of his face. "That is a secret." He definitely knew more than he was telling, as it was often the case and this occasion was no exception.
Filia huffed, "right... Places everyone!" She and Xellos went to hide behind the bushes on one side of the road and Zelgadis did the same on the opposite side.
The three waited silently until eventually a heavy mist covered the area and only the light of the lanterns could be seen. Amelia walked down the road curiously with several wolves surrounding her. "It doesn't look like any lone travelers are coming this way today. I wonder who set up all these lanterns..." She curiously made her way towards the spell circle which was hidden by the fog. She stopped, standing on top of it along with a few wolves, completely unaffected.
Filia was sure she drew all the symbols correctly, maybe she should pair the spell written on the ground with a holy exorcism spell to be chanted and then it would activate, although it should have been automatic. She chanted softly, though Xellos breathing on her neck was somewhat distracting. She considered elbowing him, but then he would probably make a noise, give away their position and blame it on her. Filia's quiet chants activated the spell circle, triggering it even if nothing actually on it appear to be doing so. The spell Filia chanted, along with the effects of the circle were useless though.
The ground glowed, Amelia looked at it curiously, then she calmly stepped away, exiting the circle on the other side of the path as if it was nothing. The wolves followed her nonchalantly as the mist cleared. "Let's check the roads on the other side, we might find someone to feed you there."
Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos went out of hiding. Frowning deeply, Zelgadis looked at the circle on the ground as its glow faded. "It didn't work."
"I don't understand," Filia was shocked. "I'm sure I did it right, I've done this before, there was no mistake!" The answer to this mystery eluded her. "Maybe the spirit that is possessing Amelia is buried deep inside her soul. This is bad, if the spirit merges with her own soul she'll be its slave forever. But Amelia is strong, so I'm sure there's still a chance to save her. We'll have to try a more complicated exorcism." Filia was determined to save her friend.
Xellos was still grinning in amusement while Zelgadis glared. "If you're holding back vital information that could save Amelia..." The chimera threatened in warning.
"Save Amelia?" Xellos innocently questioned. "Save her from what?" He pretended not to know what Zelgadis was talking about.
Zelgadis groaned in exasperation. "You're impossible!" He concluded, frowning at Xellos. He was sure that Xellos knew something vital and he was determined to get the information out of him. "I'm going back to the inn," Zelgadis announced. Although the truth was that he wouldn't be getting much sleep, he had a lot of plotting and planning to do and he had a pretty good idea of a plan that could work to make Xellos speak.
With Zelgadis gone, Xellos and Filia were left alone on the road, surrounded by lanterns. She glared at him exasperated. "How could you hold back your information at a time like this? Amelia is in danger!"
"She looked perfectly safe to me." Xellos gave Filia an innocent smile that she was determined not to be tricked by.
"You're under Beast Master's orders to keep quiet, aren't you?" Filia pouted.
Xellos once again made his trademark pose and replied with his most well known quote. "That is a secret."
Filia pouted more deeply, then she smiled mischievously. They were alone, there was no one watching. "Can't you tell me?" She wrapped her arms around him, pressing her body against his. "I can keep a secret."
Xellos returned the embrace. "Maybe..." he tempted.
Well, 'maybe' was better than 'no,' and so much better than 'that is a secret.' "Only maybe?" She moved her face closer to his.
"Maybe..." He repeated in a quiet tone. "Maybe we should finish this discussion at the inn..."
xoxox xox xoxox
The next morning, Filia pouted and Xellos grinned. She glared and he grinned some more. The random occupants of the inn's common room and small restaurant paid them no mind, having no idea of what their silent argument consisted. "I did say maybe," Xellos reminded with a smug look.
Filia growled in response with a fierce, "raw garbage!"
"You shouldn't be so bitter, stupid dragon," Xellos chuckled with a teasing tone. "You enjoyed your little game of bribery too."
Filia's face turned scarlet and she suddenly found the table cloth to be fascinatingly interesting. "Shut up..." A moment of silence passed between them, during which, albeit she didn't look up, Filia knew exactly what Xellos' expression was. He was still looking smug, still grinning from ear to ear, eyes squinting with joy.
Before Xellos could throw out his next tease, Zelgadis arrived at the table with a peculiar request. "Xellos... I need to talk with you, man to man, or man to monster or something like that."
"Or freak to man?" Xellos chirped cheerfully. He was clearly in a good mood that morning.
Zelgadis huffed, "whatever, just come talk over a drink for a moment."
"Sure, why not?" Xellos agreed a lot more easily than anyone expected. "See you later, Filia," he winked at her before following Zelgadis upstairs and she pouted in response.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was a little early to be drinking by the definition of most, but Zelgadis didn't look like he had just woken up, he looked like he stayed up all night, even though he said he was going back to the inn the previous night. Xellos wouldn't really know, as his mind was occupied in other matters at the time after he teleported Filia and himself from the road directly to their room at the local inn. The two men sat down at a small table in Zelgadis' room where there was a bottle lacking a label and two glasses.
Zelgadis poured a pair of drinks, "I think it should be obvious why I called you here." The chimera picked up his glass and took a sip. The liquid was strong and it stung all the way down his throat.
"Yes," Xellos lifted his glass towards Zelgadis, "cheers to captain obvious." He took a drink, he was a monster, so it's not like he expected to get drunk off common alcohol. Still, the brew had a particularly stinging quality to it that felt like drinking fire. It was a peculiar taste that rung out bitterly and yet it was the kind of bitter that was good in its own way. He finished the glass.
Zelgadis filled Xellos' glass again and took another sip of his own. "Amelia could be in danger and you know something about that, don't you?"
"That is a secret," Xellos drained his glass again. He didn't know what this stuff was, but it was good.
To be Continued
Episode 003: Misleading! Paraphrasing Honesty
Xellos and Zelgadis were at the chimera's inn room drinking and talking. The drink was quite peculiar; it tasted almost like the substance known as astral wine, which was also called radioactive rum by some. It was a potion so strong that it could even make a monster drunk. Xellos paused, looking at the few drops of bronze liquid in his glass. He set it down in front of him and looked at Zelgadis. "What is this drink?"
Zelgadis filled Xellos' glass again, "radioactive rum," the chimera admitted.
"Not quite..." Xellos took a smaller sip this time, taking a moment to taste the substance. "Radioactive rum, or as some call it, astral wine, has a very strong burning sensation, but it's also surprisingly sweet. This stuff is mixed with something that makes it bitter. It gives it a more alcoholic taste, but the substance of it is watered down."
"True," Zelgadis admitted before finally finishing his first glass. "It's still good though, isn't it?"
"It is," Xellos admitted. "But offering me a drink won't get you any information."
"I suppose not... Not with a common drink at least." Zelgadis gave Xellos a victorious grin. "You know what they say..."
The alarms in Xellos head went off full force. Had he walked into a trap? What could Zelgadis possibly do with a drink? The radioactive rum was watered down, it wasn't enough to get him drunk, not yet at least and he would certainly stop before that happened. "What do they say?"
"Only truths you shall speak, not a lie you shall breathe, until the time is through, because you drank the witch's brew." That wasn't a real saying, it was a spell that Zelgadis had chanted.
Xellos felt an odd warmth inside of him, but just as quickly as it came, it was gone. He gave Zelgadis a smug mocking look. "It didn't work. Although I see now what this is. It's a truth serum activated by a spell. You must have already taken the antidote before you called me over so that you could drink without being affected. You probably also temporarily immunized yourself to the effects of drunkenness as an extra precaution, didn't you?"
"Yes," Zelgadis admitted. "It is true that you're an astral being, but this truth serum doesn't aim for the physical body because it's not a real potion. This is a liquefied spell; it can be used against purely astral beings."
Xellos' look was still victorious and superior. "It's true that this may work from the astral side, but it doesn't work on monsters. You could use it on non-physical beings like ghosts, the spell I mean. Liquefying this particular spell to get a monster to drink it is useless because of the way monsters are made."
"This spell makes telling the truth irresistible. A lie would feel painful, like an astral attack and you'll instinctually avoid it subconsciously," Zelgadis explained. "Normally, I should be able to ask questions and order you to answer them, but I'm not expecting this to be fully effective on you."
"I'm not expecting it to be effective at all," Xellos confidently picked up the bottle and took a long drink. He set it down on the table defiantly.
"It'll work," Zelgadis insisted, "It just takes a little while to work." He held on to that hope. "Even if you are under Beast Master's orders to remain silent, it's not your fault if you had no choice, right?"
"It would be my fault if I placed myself in such a situation, not that I would," Xellos replied.
Zelgadis frowned, "it's not like I'm planning to tell Zelas you told me anything. I just want to save Amelia."
"How considerate of you not to incriminate me and here I thought you hated me," Xellos' voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Last year you were temporarily transformed into a human," Zelgadis reminded.
"So?" Xellos inquired, truly curious as to what that had to do with the current situation.
"You're not as vulnerable to positive emotions as you used to be before that experience. That is because when you were human such elements of human nature became integrated into your very being. When you turned back into a monster, though you once again became a purely astral creature, the emotions that you were able to have as a human were not lost," Zelgadis reminded.
Xellos poured himself another drink, the bottle was almost empty, "another cheer for captain obvious!" He drank. "I thought the whole group was aware of that since last year, even Gourry. So I have added defenses against Amelia's wonderful life songs. I could even feed off them though the taste is so sweet it would still make me cringe. Anyway, I'm stronger because of what happened last year. How does that benefit you now?"
"The smallest hint of a positive emotion can be used to make this spell work. That emotion will be transformed into overwhelming honesty. You're still a monster; you still feed primarily on annoyance and negative emotions, though you can also feed on other emotions now. It's not completely effective, but it should have some limited effect, because you're not composed of pure negativity anymore. It'll be enough..." Zelgadis took a deep breath and asked. "What is Amelia doing for Zelas?"
"Amelia is..." Xellos clamped his mouth shut, he almost answered the question. Oh no... Zelgadis had a point; the liquid spell did have an effect on him, albeit limited. He could still resist it since he had a strong mind. "That is a secret." Xellos grinned victoriously at Zelgadis. "I'm not in the habit of lying anyway," he reminded.
"Why did Zelas take Amelia and don't say it's a secret!" Zelgadis insisted.
"That is..." Xellos paused; his words weren't coming out right. "That is..." he had to fight it! "That is... a..." He was being truthful with his words, but he was also technically hiding the truth, so it wasn't full honesty. "I think Filia is very pretty." He blurted out before he could stop himself. At least his irresistible urge to tell the truth was gone with the revelation of a different kind of guarded truth.
Zelgadis gave Xellos a curious look, then grinned. "You really love Filia, don't you?" He leaned forward on the table, his face in his hands, elbows on the wooden surface.
Xellos remained completely silent for several seconds. He clenched his teeth, he wanted to say something, he needed to say something. Then he glared at Zelgadis, still keeping his silence. A ball of black energy with purple lightning around it formed in his hand as he motioned threateningly.
"You want the antidote, don't you?" Zelgadis remained defiant. "I don't have it and I don't intend to give it to you. Please understand that I need to do this for Amelia's sake and I'm not backing down no matter what."
Xellos pointed at the ball of energy in his right hand with his left, then pointed at Zelgadis with a full open eyed glare.
"Are you trying to say you'll kill me? I don't think Zelas has ordered that." Zelgadis maintained his resolve. "Filia would be very upset."
The ball of dark energy Xellos held dissipated. He huffed and turned away, exiting the room and Zelgadis was quick to follow.
xoxox xox xoxox
Downstairs at the inn's restaurant, Zelgadis kept annoying Xellos so he would say something. The monster general priest could still keep a secret, but he found that though he could resist the spell of truth, he had to bargain with another truth to calm his impulses of honesty. "Just say it," Zelgadis teased, "you love her, admit it, shout it at the top of your lungs. You only said it once didn't you? It was only that one time when you two thought you were going to die. That was more than a year ago."
Xellos paused, glared at Zelgadis and made questioning motions with his hands. "I know because Filia told Amelia and Amelia told me." Zelgadis admitted. Xellos made a very grumble-like gesture, but refused to voice anything. "I bet Filia wants to hear it again," Zelgadis continued trying to torture Xellos into releasing some useful information. Xellos crossed his arms and stumped his feet in a sign of stubbornness. "Do you love Filia?" Zelgadis insisted. "Do you? Do you? Do you?"
Xellos felt his eye twitch. Zelgadis was easier to put up with back when he hated him, back when he was less annoying and gloomier, before he became Amelia's fiance and her cheer started to rub off on him. "I lo..." Xellos clenched his teeth. "I lo..." He had to say something, but not that. "I loathe slugs!" The purple haired monster finally shouted.
From across the room at the table where Filia had remained, there was a shrill scream. "Slugs!" A petite redhead that had arrived and joined the golden dragon's table while Xellos and Zelgadis were upstairs leapt into her swordsman companion's arms. She wrapped her arms around him in a panic and buried her frightened face in his chest. Fortunately, Gourry was able to calm the panicked Lina after a few minutes and the group settled back into the table. Lina was tempted to remain sitting on Gourry's lap, where she felt protected with his strong arms around her, but she didn't want to look like a coward.
The petite red haired sorceress glared at Xellos from across the table. "I'm still waiting for an explanation and an apology meal!" She growled angrily. "Slug false alarms are not something to throw around like it's nothing!" She waved her right index finger back and forth accusingly at Xellos. "If you keep crying slug, one of these days you'll find a real slug and when you call for help no one will believe you!"
"I'm not afraid of slugs," Xellos clarified. "I merely think they are disgusting, that's different."
Lina pouted and continued glaring and shouting. "I completely agree on that they're disgusting and beyond disgusting, but it's no excuse! What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Too much, probably," Xellos truthfully replied.
"Too much indeed," Zelgadis agreed with a challenging look.
"Before any unwelcome interrogations take place," Xellos opened his eyes momentarily, giving Zelgadis a serious look. "I would like to inquire how you were able to mix that brew..."
Zelgadis' expression turned solemn, "I had some help..."
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelgadis' memories took him to the events of the previous night. He had run into none other than Amelia in the outskirts of the village. The recent attempt at an exorcism had apparently failed, but perhaps not completely. Amelia looked into his eyes then set a scroll on the ground. She walked away a few steps towards Zelas who faded out of the darkness, then they both disappeared.
Zelgadis thought that Amelia's eyes were too focused for someone who was possessed, yet Zelas was right there, witnessing everything. He didn't understand what this was about, but he had to read that scroll. The chimera picked it up and stretched it, finding a peculiar recipe that took ten odd steps to prepare. He didn't know what to think of it, it felt like a trap, but he couldn't ignore this.
The first step was simple enough; it consisted of gathering a list of ingredients. The market was closed at night, but Zelgadis thought of this as enough of an emergency to put his lock picking skills to the test. The second step was to meticulously measure the assortment of fruits, berries and herbs. Then the third step was to boil them in a pot. The mix of the concoction was strange and it smelled foul at first, but as the ingredients were further cooked, the foul scent went away.
The forth step consisted of putting the mix in a wooden vessel and dancing an odd ritual around it. The fifth step involved passing the mix into a ceramic container and singing a ridiculous song to it until the concoction changed colors. The six step required putting the mix into three round completely sealed containers that would not spill and juggling them without dropping them for a at least a full minute. Zelgadis had some trouble with that step, but he managed to do it.
The seventh step required placing the mix in a blue bowl and stirring it with the hair of a chimera, without actually adding the hair. For that Zelgadis used his own hair. The eight step required a righteous speech to be given directed towards the mix, which would have to be transferred to a yellow bowl. Zelgadis quoted Amelia a lot for that step.
The ninth step required a confession of ten secrets. Zelgadis was not pleased with this but if it was to save Amelia, he would speak of what he hid the most. Albeit this turned out even more difficult than he thought because he didn't even have that many secrets anymore. He felt like he was being watched even if it was supposed to be just the concoction and him. He figured Zelas must be somewhere in the shadows. Finally, the tenth step was to mix the concoction with radioactive rum. The substance appeared in an unmarked bottle out of the shadows and somehow the chimera simply knew that had to be it.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos' face was invaded with disbelief for a split second until his features became thoughtful. Apparently, Zelas had actually assisted Zelgadis in preparing that terrible concoction that Xellos certainly didn't feel any better about drinking after he found out how it was made. He knew about Amelia and about why Zelas had her under custody, but he didn't know what this was about.
Zelgadis crossed his arms and gave Xellos a direct look. "Now I will ask a question."
"What about my meal?" Lina pouted. She wasn't entirely sure what was going on and she would require a full explanation from the beginning rather than an out of context update to understand, but there were more pressing matters to tend to before she could ask about that.
No one supplied Lina with an answer, instead Zelgadis continued. "What can I do to save Amelia?"
Peculiarly, Xellos didn't resist the urge to speak, "nothing."
The atmosphere grew cold and Zelgadis hoped that the reply was simply due to the effects of the brew wearing off. He hoped and wished with all his heart that it wasn't true. He had to save Amelia, he simply had to. "You're lying..."
"I'm not lying," Xellos grinned.
Zelgadis decided to test that claim. "Do you love Filia?"
Xellos placed his hands over his ears, "la la la, I can't hear you!"
Zelgadis continued the odd barrage of questions while Filia, Lina and Gourry watched on in confusion. "Do you simply adore every aspect of her? Why don't you just say it?"
"Life is wonderful!" Xellos sang in desperation.
Zelgadis relentlessly insisted. "Say it for all of us to hear!"
Unable to resist the urge of honesty any longer Xellos blurted out, "I love Milgazia's cookies!" His hands immediately covered his mouth as his violet eyes opened in shock, annoyance and mortification. Then he glared at Zelgadis. "I really want to kill you right now!"
The chimera slumped in his seat, his expression heartbroken. "You're still affected by the brew... You were telling the truth before. There's nothing I can do to save Amelia..." Even so, Zelgadis wasn't giving up; he would keep trying for as long as there was life left in him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Several days earlier at Wolf Pack Island... It was a moonless night, though the crescent moon was well on its way and it would be seen in a few days. Beast Master Zelas Metallium was feeling rather bored. It had been a year ago that a series of peculiar events resulted in the marriage of her general priest Xellos to a golden dragon, Filia. Zelas stretched in her throne and yawned. She didn't actually need to stretch or yawn or even breathe, but it was all part of the realism of her physical form, they were details that she had become accustomed to emulate.
She considered what to do. The world had made remarkable progress recovering from the near apocalypse, but she had leveled the playing field with some dragon hunting so the monster race wasn't in any trouble. With the passing of time and the achievement of a balance that was tipped in her favor ever so slightly, yet ever so significantly, Zelas eased her hunts and decided to take a little vacation. She would pop over to Seyruun, the new location of Filia's shop and home, and annoy the golden dragon for a while when she was particularly unoccupied. Val was a fine little mischief maker, Xellos had taught him well.
The monster lord considered annoying Filia for entertainment, but decided against it. This was their anniversary and Xellos probably wanted Filia's wrath all to himself, not to mention other emotions that quite frankly, Zelas did not wish to dwell on. She would wait a few days and than she would go annoy Filia. Or perhaps she should pick on someone else for a while. Lina maybe? Her explosive temper was certainly entertaining and like Filia, she was so easy to rile. How about Milgazia? He was so serious and diplomatic; he would certainly present a challenge to be angered, maybe too much of a challenge. Sometimes Zelas found that she consumed more energy trying to annoy Mr. Polite and Proper than what she got as nutrients when he finally started to show his misery.
Who else could she bother? Little miss princess of justice? Or perhaps her chimera fiance? He might be fun to pick on. A smile spread over Zelas' alluring features. "Zelgadis..." she considered the idea, "Zelgadis..." she gave it further thought and her eyes glinted with mischief. "Zelgadis..." it was decided. Thus the queen of trickery chose a new target, Zelas' next victim would be Zelgadis Graywords.
To be Continued
Episode 004: Deception! Misleading Intentions
On the night of the crescent moon, when Amelia had disappeared... "What can I do for you?" The justice loving Seyruun princess asked after Zelas had teleported them away so they could speak privately.
Beast Master grinned mischievously. "I want you to keep a legend alive."
The request took Amelia by surprise. It was, to say the least, rather odd. "To keep a legend alive?" She echoed in puzzlement.
"Yes," Zelas elaborated. "You see, legends are part of people's culture. Because of the terrible depression that overtook the planet during the second phase of the near apocalypse last year, people became full of apathy and forgot even their legends. It would help restore some life and energy to the world if people remembered such an aspect of their precious culture." That was all true, but the kinds of legends Zelas liked were the kind that brought fear and discomfort.
Amelia innocently nodded eagerly. "That makes a lot of sense and I'm really happy you would suggest it!" In her eyes, Zelas was changing for the better.
"That's not all; I also want you to remind people about the importance of giving and about living in harmony with nature. All of this can be done simultaneously if you take on the identity of the moonlight maiden. The legend would be remembered and you would motivate those terribly greedy merchants to become kinder, sharing with the other living creatures that reside in the area. I have been doing this myself," Zelas revealed. All that she said was true, but while such an effect could be achieved, the main effect was fear and discomfort, food for her monster minions and stolen goods, food for her wolves. "However, I am quite busy and would like for you to continue my labor."
Amelia beamed in joy, "I would be all too happy to continue your noble efforts!"
Zelas grinned, "oh, I'm so grateful. There is a catch though; it would ruin the legend's air of mystery if anyone knew so you must keep it a secret, even from Zelgadis... especially from Zelgadis."
"I don't want to worry him..." Amelia frowned unsure.
"You won't," Zelas encouraged. "The two of you share a deep bond, he will know in his heart that you're alright the second he sees you. Besides, he's not exactly the greatest of actors and might give away too much if he knows too much. Plus legends are supposed to be mysterious, don't make him miss out, let him enjoy this fine aspect of human culture too." A fine aspect indeed, sometimes humans found more fictitious ways to scare themselves than what actual monsters did, with their many legends of lurking evil.
Amelia thought about it for a moment longer before finally nodding in agreement, "no one has to know."
xoxox xox xoxox
Present time, at a village near the Coastal States... "I loathe slugs!" Xellos chirped. In the final moments of the dreadful, yet hilarious, effects of the serum of truth, he felt compelled to speak all sorts of random truths. Albeit he still had just enough control not to say anything too vital, which was what Zelas wanted to test. "I love cake!" He cheered loudly, making passer-bys down the street stare at him oddly as the group walked.
Said group consisted of Xellos, Filia, Lina, Gourry and Zelgadis. "We get it!" Lina snapped. She was sick and tired of listening to the same random facts over and over again. "If you're not going to tell us something we don't already know, then shut up!"
"I can't!" Xellos truthfully replied. "Filia is cute," he giggled like an idiot. Sure, he had said his fair amount of silly things, but misery loves company and miserable company is delicious for a monster. As long as the others were more annoyed than him, Xellos wasn't so annoyed after all. "Filia and Lina both have bad tempers."
Filia was used to worse critiques from her endearingly annoying husband, but Lina wasn't going to take that without protest. "I do not!" The redhead shouted, pausing her walk down the street as soon as she had moved to stomp her feet in front of Xellos, blocking his path. "Just who do you think you are, accusing this sweet and innocent maiden of having a bad temper? I'm perfectly lady-like!"
"More like barbaric," Xellos argued before he could stop himself. He was immediately put in a headlock, one of Lina's arms tightly around his neck, the other petite fist constantly hammering at his skull.
"Lina, that's a bit harsh," Gourry tried to reason with his fiance. In a rare moment of enlightenment he realized, "aren't you just proving him right by doing this?" His voice was lost to those who were occupied in other thoughts and no one acknowledged his uncommon bout of common knowledge and logical thought.
"I can't save Amelia..." Zelgadis sighed in depression.
Filia placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't give up, we'll find a way to save her."
"Right," suddenly full of determination, Zelgadis was willing to do something crazy for Amelia's sake. "I'll find Zelas and negotiate with her personally... even at the cost of my life! I won't let her get away with this!"
"Wait a minute," Filia paused in worry and concern. Zelgadis had the look of a desperate madman in his eyes, of one who would do anything no matter how risky, dangerous or illogical it was. "What are you planning to do?"
"Annoyance," Zelgadis spoke the word in a low threatening tone, as if it was the forbidden name of an ancient secret weapon of ultimate doom. "No one is immune to it, not even a monster lord. I'll annoy Zelas until she sets Amelia free!"
"She'll kill you for that!" Filia warned. The whole time, Xellos was still sprouting random truths and Lina was still hitting him, while Gourry watched on in deep thought.
"I don't care, I can't live without Amelia!" Zelgadis desperately declared, while Filia tried to console him.
Finally, Gourry stepped forward. "It's okay, Zel, I'll talk to Zelas about freeing Amelia. You can leave everything to me."
A moment of silence passed as Zelgadis and Filia stared at Gourry. Finally, the chimera spoke, "let's not be so rash." Because the notion of Gourry of all people, conducting negotiations with someone as cunning and tricky as Zelas was ever so silly and ridiculous, Zelgadis finally found it in himself to get a grip on logic and reason. "There has to be a way to get Amelia back, a way that doesn't involve any of us getting killed..."
"It's okay," Gourry assured again with a brotherly smile. "Like I said, you can leave it all to me. I'll talk to Zelas, I'm sure she's a reasonable lady if we just ask nicely."
Filia and Zelgadis exchanged concerned looks. They didn't want Gourry to do anything dangerous and potentially suicidal without even knowing what he was getting himself into. Annoying Zelas was a fatal risk indeed, one that would almost certainly result in death. "No, really, it's fine, I'll take care of everything" Zelgadis insisted.
Gourry simply nodded and both the chimera and the golden dragon assumed that meant he understood that it was best to allow them to handle the situation. The truth was far from that, as Gourry had simply assumed that Zelgadis was feeling shy about asking for help as this was a matter concerning his lady love. But Amelia was Gourry's friend, as was Zelgadis, so he was all too willing to help. Thus the blond swordsman quietly decided that he would confront Zelas about the situation, preferably in secret, so that he wouldn't worry the others.
While Zelgadis, Filia and Lina tried to come up with a sensible plan to rescue Amelia from Zelas, Xellos sprouted random truthful nonsense and Gourry was busily thinking about his own plan. He intended to serve as the diplomatic negotiator that would convince Zelas to free Amelia. The group visited the local library and occupied themselves in researching various tales and legends in hopes of finding some kind of clue.
They assumed that Zelas must have a special reason to have chosen to take Amelia away to be possessed, as they still mistakenly thought she had been overtaken by a spirit, and task her with the haunting of that area. Maybe there was something hidden there, maybe there was something about that village near the Coastal States that they didn't know, which was the key to solving the whole mystery. Thus they researched the town's literature, history and folklore.
As for Xellos, he spent most of his time flipping through volume number fifteen of the Adventures of Fluffy and Ice-cream, a comic book about a traveling pair consisting of a human sorcerer and a golden dragon, which were in many ways, very much like Xellos and Filia. Gourry appeared to be absorbed in a random book, though he seldom turned the pages, as if he was stuck reading the same page over and over in a futile attempt to understand it. The others just let him be. Research was obviously not his forte, but at least he was quiet as he gave it his finest effort.
Gourry sighed and closed his diplomacy book. The complex text about the many rules of diplomacy and the importance of recognizing the differences between what is proper and what is not in various cultures was overwhelming. Besides, it didn't say anything about monster diplomacy anyway.
Pushing his brain to work even harder, Gourry tried to think of another way to figure out the proper method to address Zelas without angering her and getting himself, and possibly his friends, killed. He couldn't really come up with anything. He just thought that he should be friendly and nice, but that felt far too simple.
The distressed blond swordsman got up from his seat and placed the diplomacy book on a shelf. He looked through the other books there. Maybe he would find a more beginner friendly version of that text. Then his eyes landed on the spine of a deep red book that, judging by it's worn cover, looked like it had been read many times. He didn't remember who said it, but he had once heard long ago that good books are always worn because so many people read them.
Gourry carefully traced his fingers over the faded title of the book engraved on its spine, 'How to Impress a Woman,' it read. He carefully took the book out of the shelf, treating it gently as if he worried that it would turn to dust at any moment, before he could obtain its secrets. With a hopeful grin, Gourry returned to his seat and began to read through the first few introductory paragraphs of the book.
The text claimed that if its advice was followed, any woman would act favorably towards the one conducting the strategy. The book was very subtle in its words, making Gourry think that it was for general purposes rather than for romance. Since it was placed, unknown to him misplaced, among many books about diplomacy and politics, he assumed that it must be good for such purposes. Thus he began to study the text with great attention and even got a pencil and paper to take notes.
If he did what the book said, Zelas would listen to his reasoning and free Amelia. Then he would have helped not only the princess, but Zelgadis as well, since he was so stressed without her. Actually, they were all worried about Amelia, so Gourry would be doing something good for the whole group. He smiled thinking about the good deed he was doing, Lina would be so proud.
Time passed slowly and quietly at the library. Zelgadis and his not so merry band of worriers were running out of options. "I just don't get it!" Lina exclaimed loudly, her voice echoing through the library.
The librarian, a stereotypical old woman with gray hair in a little bun atop her head, a large nose, tiny glasses and bony hands, called out "shh!" Holding her long a thin index finger over her lips.
Lina ignored her completely and instead settled for sinking into her chair and crossing her arms in frustration. "Just what is Zelas planning anyway?" The question was not loud enough to catch the librarian's attention again as all eyes landed on Xellos. All except Gourry, who had disappeared from their line of vision a little while ago.
"That is a secret," Xellos grinned. At least the brew wore off and he wasn't reciting random truths all the time now.
Filia glared, "we can't count on him for anything."
"Aw, that was mean, my sweet Filia," Xellos feigned hurt.
Not in the mood for his antics, Lina turned her gaze away from the purple haired monster and towards the chimera. "Find anything, Zel?"
"Nothing that we didn't already know," Zelgadis replied with a frown. He looked up from the book he was examining, realizing that there was one less at the table. "Where's Gourry?" He wasn't sure why he felt compelled to ask.
Lina shrugged, "I don't know. He probably got bored and went for a walk around town or something." She never imagined the kind of thoughts that were going through his head of silly plans to befriend a certain monster lord. "I'm sure he'll come back when he gets hungry." Her beloved fiance always came back to her; that was something that Lina could always count on.
At that very moment, Gourry returned to the library with a bouquet of red roses that looked and smelled lovely. Peculiarly, there was not a single thorn to be found among them as if they had all been removed. Lina's eyes were immediately trained on him, as a pink blush invaded her cheeks. Gourry knew by now that the best gift for her was food, but she didn't mind this random sweet gesture. "Aw Gourry, for me?"
"Actually, no," Gourry replied casually, which made Lina's blood run cold.
"What?" The redhead snapped, but quickly composed herself. "Then who are they for?"
Gourry shifted uncomfortably. He couldn't tell Lina about his plan until it was done. What if she worried that it wouldn't work and stopped him? He had to show her he was reliable. "I'm just doing a good deed," it was true. As far as he could interpret, the advice from the book consisted of performing a series of good deeds directed towards the woman he wanted to diplomatically negotiate with, meaning Zelas.
"Oh?" Lina blinked in confusion. She didn't understand what was up with Gourry's answer at all.
Without any further elaboration, Gourry glanced at Xellos. "Could I talk to you in private for a moment?"
Curious about what Gourry could have in mind, Xellos agreed right away, "of course you can." He grinned cheerfully, eyes closed as usual. "Let's go," thus he teleported Gourry away.
As soon as Gourry and Xellos were gone, Lina snickered teasingly. "I see what's going on here." She glanced at Filia with a knowing look in her eyes, to which the golden dragon looked back with true confusion. "Gourry is no romance expert, but he's very sweet. Whatever advice he gives Xellos, although it might be rather simple, it will be good."
"What?" Filia shook her head. "You think Xellos is looking for romantic advice from Gourry? That piece of raw garbage would never do that!"
"And that's exactly what I mean," Lina leaned back on her chair, the knowing look still plastered on her face as she continued the quiet conversation with Filia, hopefully quietly enough for the librarian not to interrupt. "Been giving Xellos the cold shoulder, have you?"
Filia felt her face burn scarlet because Lina was very wrong in her assumption. "That's not... I haven't..." The golden dragon stumbled with her words, unable to form a coherent sentence.
"Well yeah, that's what I said; you haven't... well... you know." Lina paused, her head rotating slowly from Filia to Zelgadis. The chimera had lifted his attention from his book and was staring at her with mild curiosity and a slight blush. The sorceress cleared her throat and casually mentioned. "I think I saw a book about how to cure chimeras way on the other side of the library." She pointed.
A small awkward silence passed. Zelgadis didn't believe it, but he knew how to take a very obvious hint. "Okay, I get it, girl talk. I'll do a good deed for myself and spare my ears." Thus he got up and left, yet he couldn't help it but to gravitate towards the area where Lina pointed, even if he didn't actually expect to find his cure there.
A moment of awkward silence passed until Filia finally spoke. "I really don't think Xellos is thinking about romantic advice. Besides, you and Gourry aren't even married yet, wouldn't that technically make us more experienced?"
"I'm certain you two are very... experienced... with each other..." There was something about Lina's teasing tone that didn't quite sit well with Filia, but the golden dragon decided not to point it out. "But that's not the point. I'm not talking about lemons like the ones on the novels Amelia secretly keeps under her bed." Lina paused to make sure Zelgadis had not heard her, as she wasn't sure if Amelia had shown him the books or not. He seemed to be occupied in looking through the books on the shelves on the other side of the library, good. "I'm talking about the sweet and innocent fluffy stuff."
Filia decided not to comment about Amelia's novels and instead admitted. "I honestly can't imagine Xellos being sweet, innocent and fluffy."
Pausing to give it some thought, Lina chuckled, "neither can I, but if Gourry actually teaches him that, it'll be a really big good deed."
xoxox xox xoxox
The days passed with Zelgadis growing more stressed, Filia becoming more worried and Lina's patience chipping away until it was nothing. While Xellos watched the whole process unfold with a smile, Gourry was busy preparing all sorts of gifts for Beast Master. At first, Xellos assumed it was harmless enough. Gourry was trying to butter her up so to speak, to give her many presents then ask for Amelia's freedom in return.
Yet the gifts followed very peculiar patterns that Xellos actually took a moment to notice. This was Gourry after all, innocent, naive and loyal Gourry. Reading too deeply into his actions was usually not needed or even possible, since his actions and intentions were simple enough to be as clear as day... usually... Yet Xellos had learned that there were exceptions to practically everything.
To be Continued
Episode 005: Calamity! It's Just Another Day
It was with Lina's jealous growl that an argument began between the red haired sorceress and her blond swordsman fiance. She didn't like all the gifts and attention he was directing towards Beast Master. Naturally, Gourry was clueless about Lina's anger and that only made her more upset, which concluded in her storming off out of the library that the group was, quite frankly, sick of visiting.
With such silly thoughts and improbable possibilities placed into his head by Lina, rather than being Xellos the one who placed thoughts into everyone else's heads, the purple haired trickster decided to take a simple and straightforward approach with the situation. Gourry was not a complicated individual and he was honest, sometimes too overly sincere. The next day, Xellos would simply ask what was going on... with small words. "Gourry..."
The swordsman answered to the sound of his name with a smile. "Hey Xellos, thanks for making all those deliveries for me. I wanted to ask you for another favor if that's okay."
Conveniently, it seemed that Gourry had been searching for Xellos in the little Coastal State village just as Xellos had been searching for him. "I will consider it," but first there was something else that needed to be done, a most imperative curiosity that needed to be addressed. "I was wondering why have you chosen these specific gifts for Beast Master?"
"The gift ideas?" Gourry pondered as if searching for the answer in his memories. He knew the information was there, he just had to dig it out of the depths of his brain. "I read about it in a book," he finally replied.
Xellos' facial features shifted slightly, from a false grin to a real one, though only those who closely knew him would be able to tell the difference. "Of course," right, it was harmless; it was nothing to be misinterpreted. "Then Lina's outburst was baseless," naturally, this was Lina Inverse, exaggerated outbursts were her specialty, though she had to be commended this time for commanding enough composure not to unleash a Dragon Slave upon the town.
Gourry frowned. "I think Lina's mad because she's worried about Amelia, so I should keep trying to follow the book's instructions, so that I can convince Zelas to free her." After such a seemingly innocent statement in which he further affirmed that he was completely ignorant about Lina's jealousy, Gourry pulled out the book from his armor.
'How to Impress a Woman' read the title and Xellos stared than glared. "Gourry..." He growled, "let's not forget you are engaged to Lina, aren't you?" After a misunderstanding last year during which the usually smart general priest foolishly reached the wrong conclusion and believed that Milgazia and Zelas were engaged in an improper and very much forbidden romantic relationship, Xellos had become a little more protective of his master. Whether being temporarily transformed into a human and somehow retaining some human emotion after he was changed back into a monster contributed to that child-like attachment to Beast Master was anyone's guess. Although some would say that he already had a deep attachment and admiration for Zelas before that. The point was that Xellos was not amused by people trying to romance his mother.
"Yes," Gourry smiled happily and kind of love struck with an endless adoration for his precious flame haired time bomb. "That's why I want to cheer her up, Amelia is also my friend and Lina's not the only one who's worried about her. If I become Zelas' friend maybe she'll listen to me when I ask her to let Amelia go, then everyone will be happy. The book says this next plan is guaranteed to work. It says that if the flowers and the chocolate don't work I must," Gourry turned the pages and ran his finger over a specific page until he found the right line, "enchant her by the light of the full moon with an ent... intrinsic... entree..."
Impatient, Xellos peeked at the book and corrected, "enticing."
Smiling, Gourry nodded and repeated the unusual word, completing his sentence at last, "enticing serenade."
Despite it all, Xellos chuckled and patted Gourry's shoulder, "if it were anyone else, I would rip his head off." But this was Gourry, innocent, naive and loyal Gourry. He had no idea he was following the stereotypical methods to romance a woman, as far as he knew, he was just being friendly. As long as that much was clear and his master was not in any danger of being stalked by an unworthy lovesick fool, Xellos could breathe easy. In fact, he could even enjoy the jealousy that radiated from Lina. "I'm guessing you want me to teleport you to Zelas tonight during the full moon so you can share a song with her?"
"Yes," Gourry nodded happily.
Grinning in mischievous amusement, Xellos agreed," I would be happy to." Of course, he would also take Lina along for the ride; that should make things interesting.
xoxox xox xoxox
On the night of the full moon at Wolf Pack Island... The terrible song was nothing compared to the terrible rage. The source of the noise was Gourry Gabriev; the reason why it was so terrible was Xellos Metallium. The trickster insisted that he knew Zelas' tastes very well, which was indeed true. Yet at the same time it was misleading, for Xellos was not recommending a pleasant song, but a good meal.
Though Zelas might have been, and in fact was, bothered by the noise, the meal was worth it. The misery that radiated from Lina, Filia and Zelgadis was delicious. Fang, Zelas' pet monster fox chimera that came and went, occasionally crossing paths with Lina and company, was enjoying the meal too, albeit he held his fox ears flat against the sides of his head to block out the sound.
It wasn't that Gourry was a bad singer, nor was he a terrible one, normally he was pleasant enough on the ears...when he wasn't purposely trying to sound terrible in an effort to follow a peculiar style of song suggested by Xellos.
"I see..." Zelas mused aloud. "I knew a culinary genius such as myself couldn't have produced such a mediocre cook as my dear little Xellos. Monster food, that is where your skill is."
"I can cook physical food too," Xellos defended.
Since he had treated her to such delectable misery, Zelas decided to acknowledge Xellos' effort and humor him with a sarcastic reply that he firmly believed was true. "Of course you can." She ruffled his purple hair as she said this, making it more obvious that she didn't mean it, but he still believed it.
"Zelas!" Lina Inverse stepped forward, fuming. "You've gone too far! Gourry is..." Embarrassment and possessiveness fought for control of her emotions, her face as red as her hair. Finally, she shouted "Gourry is mine!"
Grinning with great amusement, Zelas pointed out, "that's not what he said in song."
That was it, Lina lost it and she could only think of one spell that stood a chance against Zelas... "Darkness beyond blackest pitch, deeper than the deepest night, shining like gold upon the Sea of Chaos, I call upon thee and swear myself to thee. Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I po-"
"Miss Lina, please stop!" Amelia dashed over, emerging from another area of the garden where they had been taken to in Wolf Pack Island. "I just came over after feeding the wolves and have no idea what's going on, but justice will prevail and so will friendship! Let us put our past differences aside and support miss Zelas in her quest of justice for such a noble cause: to preserve the excitement of legends and keep culture alive for all to enjoy!"
"Amelia!" Zelgadis rushed towards her. "Somehow, I will save you from this brainwashing!"
Valiant as his declaration was, Amelia merely gave him a confused look. "I'm not brainwashed." Then she smiled happily, looking very much like herself. "I'm here to help miss Zelas with her noble mission!"
Amelia did indeed appear to be in her full senses, as much as she ever was at least. "That," Zelas frowned with disapproval, "was a secret."
Amelia's "oops" only served to confuse the group further.
As it usually happened, they looked to Xellos for answers. "I did say you couldn't save Amelia... That's because she wasn't in danger anyway, so there was nothing to save her from."
"As useful as Amelia's willing help is," Zelas' glare was very foreboding. "It won't be as fun now that my-"
"Very misleading," Zelgadis dared to insert.
"Cleverly phrased reasons," Zelas corrected, "have been discovered," she finished.
"So this was all Zelas using Amelia's sense of justice to her favor," Filia frowned with disapproval.
"Never mind that!" Lina shouted. "What about Gourry? Don't you have enough with Milgazia?!"
"Lina, Amelia is safe so why are you still upset?" Gourry cluelessly asked. "I tried to be friends with Zelas so that she would let Amelia go, but it looks like everything's okay now anyway."
"Friends..." Lina twitched, "friends..." Of course Gourry's actions were innocent; he was like innocence in a human form.
Looking thoughtful, Gourry mused aloud, "maybe more than friends." The atmosphere was deadly still for that split second pause before Gourry innocently continued. "We're comrades!"
Lina let out a tired breath, Gourry wasn't even aware of her jealous outburst. When it finally looked like the fiery redhead had calmed down, the misunderstanding had been resolved, the princess and chimera lovers had been reunited and the danger had passed, something just had to go wrong. With an eerily calm demeanor that contradicted her furious glare and enhanced her lethality, Zelas inquired. "What was it that you said about Milgazia? I do hope you weren't referencing that very false rumor that we supposedly dated for a while."
Actually, Lina was referencing the even more false rumor that Zelas and Milgazia were still secret lovers, but now that her berserk fury was lost to the realization that her fiance was not in danger of being stolen, Lina wasn't about to throw away her life. "I meant to pick on him." She excused herself.
Deciding to accept the excuse, Zelas moved on to more important matters. "Since you are all more or less aware of my plans, allow me to fill you in on the finer details." Beast Master grinned mischievously. "After all, six moonlight maidens are better than one..."
Gourry remained blissfully unaware of the implications of Zelas' assertion, though he, along with Zelgadis, would soon exclaim with a great deal of dread and mortification, "you want me to wear what?!"
xoxox xox xoxox
That was how their lives had gone for the past year after the defeat of their latest big foe. Everything went on in relative peace, but with plenty of chaos to keep things lively. The days turned to months and it had already been a year and a half since the defeat of the enemy known as the Stillness. Yet the eternal struggle of opposing forces was far from over, it was as it should be, for the end of the battle would be the end of evolution... and life. None the less, there were some who grew tired of it and one of them was a being from another world, a creature known as Dark Star Dugradigdu. Unlike most of those who succumbed to apathy and simply ceased to be, Dark Star was determined to shroud the universe in a nightmare that would end in total silence...
"Report," Zelas commanding voice echoed through her throne room at Wolfpack Island.
Xellos stood in front of her, with a mischievous yet slightly serious expression upon his face. He opened his eyes; he only ever opened his eyes if the matter on hand was particularly serious or imperative. "The suspicions were true," he delivered the news Beast Master awaited. "Deep Sea Dolphin has been collecting chaotic energy. I have also heard rumors that she has offered Dynast Grausherra an alliance."
Beast Master chuckled mockingly, her voice ringing out with an air of supremacy. "And he'd take it too, because he has no choice. I knew that Dolphin was worried about the increase in my power above the other monster lords... but I admit I did not expect her to challenge me, let alone so directly. Dynast must be concerned as well, but he can't do much in his current state. His last encounter with Lina and my other little pets left him... bruised." Her smirk was cruel and truly like the expression of someone terribly cruel who thrived in suffering, even the suffering of her own kind. Yet her keen eyes still carried a wild refinement like an elegant wolf howling to the moon, beastly and ferocious, yet beautiful and graceful.
"What shall we do, Lord Beast Master?" Xellos carried an expression very much like that of Zelas. He already knew the answer to his question, or at least he thought he knew. To his credit, he did manage to guess half of it, but the other half would take him by surprise.
"We will..." Zelas let her statement hang, amused by how Xellos' grin grew to Cheshire cat proportions. He looked at her expectantly waiting for her to say what he wanted to hear.
Though Xellos' missions involving Lina and her friends had not always been to do what he wanted, such as in the occasion involving Fibrizo, he didn't think that Zelas would order him to do a job he disliked this time and he did have fun traveling around. Filia would be along for the ride too and he would tease and annoy her even more than usual with the usual audience back to see her face turn red. Never mind that they've been married for over a year, he could still rile her temper and he never tired of it.
"Involve Lina Inverse," Zelas' grin grew as he watched her general priest smiling from ear to ear. She knew that he'd been wanting another mission like this. Going into the details of the plan, she elaborated. "We will collect much more chaotic energy than Dolphin and launch an attack; however, this cannot be done immediately. A lot of chaotic energy has accumulated at the bottom of the sea after last year's near apocalypse and has remained mostly untapped. I'll need to make sure I have enough to counter attack those forces because, if worse comes to worst, even if Dolphin doesn't manage to control the energy she could at least try to take me with her as a sacrifice to release it. When she's angry, she's crazy enough to try that. Although, I'm sure she won't be able to easily handle that energy, so we won't have to worry about it being used in large amounts."
"The chaotic energy that was left at the bottom of the sea came right from the Sea of Chaos during the planet's restoration last year, right? How should we go about preparing for something like that? Should we try to repeat the process and obtain more energy from the Sea of Chaos?" Xellos inquired, alert and attentive to the plan.
"No," Zelas decided. "The planet was in bad shape back then and absorbed the energy, but too much would be pushing it. Plus there's the chance that too little would be taken by the planet and I don't want to benefit it by my effort, this isn't an agricultural venture after all. We will not further involve the energy from the Sea of Chaos. Furthermore if we did, it could react to the energy that is in the bottom of the ocean and cause a chain reaction. I will not destroy this world while I'm so comfortable taking over at my own pace. It shall be destroyed only when I tire of toying with it."
Xellos liked Beast Master's choice in the matter and very much agreed. "What shall we do, then?" He wondered how in the world she planned to get around the present issues.
"We will send the surplus chaotic energy at the bottom of the ocean to the Overworld, then it'll be their problem," she grinned mischievously. Throw the time bomb into someone else's hands, that sounded like a convenient plan, for her anyway... Yet Zelas wasn't sure why such an idea was ever so persistent in her mind. It was almost as if someone had put it there, but that couldn't b it. "As for the method, we will need a more tame kind of chaotic energy, similar but not quite as... flammable as the energy from the Sea of Chaos, and a sort of device. I have a team in mind to construct the device; you need not worry about that. Your task is to obtain the fuel, we will make our own chaotic energy so that it is easier to handle. I will provide amulets to collect it, as for the situations of chaos..."
Xellos was grinning again, his eyes glowing with anticipation... literally. "That's where Lina comes in, along with her merry band of peace Slayers," as in those who slew peace with chaos, rather than those who kept it, even if they tried to.
"No," at his disconcerted look, Zelas grinned.
"No?" Xellos tilted his head to the side, his eyes still open, but with confusion mixing with mischief in his amethyst orbs.
"That is where you come in," Zelas was truly enjoying taking Xellos by surprise. He amused her in more ways than he knew.
"Me?" He grinned as if it were a joke. "Not Lina?"
"Right," Zelas nodded in confirmation. "Lina's job will be to keep things from getting out of hand, but the chaos will come from you..." the mysterious monster lord pause dramatically than added, "and your dragon."
"Filia?" Xellos intended to involve his wife anyway, even if she didn't want to be dragged into this. Yet he didn't expect Zelas to already have a place for her in the game plan.
To be Continued
Episode 006: Uninvited! A Visit From The Monster-in-law
Zelas continued explaining her plans to Xellos at Wolf Pack Island. He was puzzled about how she intended to involve Filia. "I did so enjoy my latest visit to your lovely house in Seyruun. Filia was a very amusing hostess," a hostess who was pushed to the edge of insanity by her monster mother-in-law. "Yet beneath all the chaos there is an understanding between the two of you that I find puzzling, nor do I have much of a desire to understand," and yet she already understood more than she realized. "The tales from your first meeting with the dragon girl," Zelas recalled Xellos' narrations after the Dark Star incident, "were most amusing as well as the tales that followed... There was no such understanding then, yet it was somehow developed and that brought chaos during the process. Let's go back to that, but with a twist, just for a little while."
Xellos still looked very curious and more puzzled even. "How?"
"By reviving the rivalry between you and your pet dragon." The answer Zelas provided was direct and yet so shrouded in mystery that it might as well been silence. "Let's go back to that... but with a twist this time around..." she repeated ominously and mischievously.
Xellos had no idea what Zelas was planning to do, but he had a feeling Filia would be mad at him. None the less, she would forgive him and he would enjoy the process... and in the end so would she. A million theories ran across Xellos' mind, theories in which he was an actor, but would that work? Wouldn't that mean that Filia would be more so providing the chaotic energy with her volatile emotions and not so much him with his deceptive acting? Zelas did say that he would be the source of the chaos too and why would he need Lina to keep things from getting out of hand?
"Xellos..." Zelas' voice got him out of his thoughts. "If your pet protests, do tell her that the pact is only temporary and if she still protests, tell her I'll kill her if she doesn't cooperate..."
There was a pause during which Zelas continued grinning and Xellos' thoughts raced. A pact, Filia would have to make some sort of pact, with him, Xellos assumed. But it was temporary, so her life wouldn't be changed permanently, not that he would have minded Filia taking a permanent pledge to him. He knew that even if she protested at first, she would be okay with it in the end, she always was, she always forgave him and secretly, he was very grateful. Secretly, yet not so secret that she couldn't see it, he loved her.
"And Xellos..." Again, Zelas' voice woke him from his thoughts. "Try not to get jealous." Xellos' amethyst eyes opened a millimeter wider and he stiffened imperceptibly, yet the tiny changes were not lost to Zelas. "Really now... Do try not to get jealous," Zelas teased, "not too much at least." With such words hanging in the air, Xellos' mind raced. What in the world did Beast Master have planned for Filia?
xoxox xox xoxox
Later that day, Xellos had been sent on a certain mission to Zephilia, the hometown of Lina Inverse, though she traveled around so much that she was hardly ever there. This time however, Xellos did expect to find Lina there. He knew that Luna, the knight of Ceifeed was also in town, but she was not the reason he was visiting, Lina was. With Xellos occupied, Zelas went on a little trip of her own. She teleported herself right in the middle of the busy Seyruun main street, where passers froze and merchants ceased their peddling, the general public stared and little children clung to their mother's skirts.
The noisy street fell eerily silent with the sudden appearance of the lady in the white dress, which showed off her tan legs nicely. The quietude lasted for several seconds until a woman, who had been in the process of examining a tomato from a merchant's booth, shyly whispered in theory, "a monster?"
The young man minding the tomato stand nodded his head in agreement before he finally remembered how to move his mouth and proceeded to metaphorically insert his foot into it. "That's one hot monster babe!" He whistled and stared in a way that would have sent Xellos on a rampage if he had been there. He was rather protective of his dear mother at times. Then in a very suicidal action, the young man proceeded to call out sensually, "I would let you feast on my lust any time, baby!" And he winked.
A gust of wind that came out of nowhere suddenly assaulted the tall stack of boxes on the neighboring booth, which were packed full of cabbages. The mountain of crates avalanched on top of the young man as the woman who had been examining the tomato jumped back with a shriek, crushing the vegetable, or fruit, as the debate seemed eternal among the vendors of Seyruun, in her hand.
"My cabbages!" The owner of the cabbage selling booth, an elderly gentleman, exclaimed. He placed his hands on his head and fretted over his precious merchandise. "I knew it, I knew it!" He cried. "The monster race is out to destroy my cabbages!" He positioned himself in front of the remaining crates full of cabbages protectively, like a human barrier. "Back you beast, back!" He made shooing motions with his hands.
Zelas approached the cabbage vendor, which made him tremble in fright. "Put on your glasses," she calmly instructed.
Fearing for his life, and most of all for his precious cabbages, the man reached into his pocket with shaking hands. He pulled out a pair of thick glasses, with black frames and put them on. He blinked behind the spectacles several times until the tan and white blur before him became a familiar figure. He let out a breath of relief, followed by an inhale of frustration. "Why did you do that, Lady Zelas?" He pouted like a child. "Oh no! My suspicions were true, you were lying to me when you said that one day I would have my own cabbage corporation if I saved my best cabbages for your dragon cuisine side-salads. Why have you destroyed my delicious cabbages?"
Zelas shrugged with cruel nonchalance. "I can't say I agree or disagree about them being delicious, but in theory, they don't look particularly appetizing, though they are certainly decorative. That is what the salads are for, a decoration, I'm a carnivore."
"And I'm a vegetarian, but can't we all just get along?" The old man begged. "Why must my cabbages suffer?"
Zelas took in the misery of the poor old man, it was a good appetizer, but it was time to move on to the main course, Filia's barely contained wrath. "Don't worry," her smile was far from comforting, more like mocking. "Your cabbages will be famous one day..." 'One day when carriages move without horses and humans fly without magic,' she mentally mocked.
"Really?" The man sniffled and saw a small line of hope. That was good; he couldn't suffer disappointment in the future if he gave up altogether. Zelas had learned that the best way to feed off the humans was not to crush them, but to allow them to grow again, for the fruits of their labor to be cruelly consumed once more.
"Of course," Zelas continued grinning. She selected a cabbage and picked it up. "I'm taking this as a souvenir, bye now." She was about to disappear, teleporting to her next stop, but before she did, prince Philionel himself dashed down the street waving at her in a friendly manner.
"Zelas! Good to see you!" He caught up to the monster lord who gave him a peculiar look. "Everything was so still in the market all of a sudden that I thought something bad had happened." He looked around, assuring the citizens. "Carry on with your business everyone, carry on." Then he started walking alongside Zelas. "Amelia has learned so much in the crusade of justice she is undergoing with Zelgadis, she has written a lot about all the places she visited. I have to thank you for that, since the spell she uses to summon courier birds to deliver letters is one of yours. She had told me how she's seeing the world in a new perspective and I've been thinking, maybe we should-"
"All learn to get along, even monsters and humans? You've given me this speech before, Phil, it's not going to work. You're just lucky I have certain investments in Seyruun and have not destroyed the city. Speaking of investments, I need to make a stop here, be a gentleman and carry my things." She shoved the cabbage into his arms.
Philionel took the cabbage without protesting. He knew that Zelas didn't want to hear his same old speech again and wisely decided not to recite it. Instead he addressed a different topic while he followed her into the toy store. "There is something else I want to ask you about. I hope you're not feeling offended because of that law I passed..."
Zelas eyed the merchandise in the toy store with distaste. "You mean the law about banning Xellos' cooking in Seyruun territory, as well as forbidding it on any allied territories of Seyruun in the basis that it is a threat to humanity?" There were stuffed animals, dolls, toy soldiers, horses and carriages, building blocks, board games, card games, art supplies, children's books and a variety of other disappointingly harmless things. None of those items were appropriate, so Zelas exited the toy store. "I'm not offended at all, it's all factual information."
Philionel let out a breath of relief. "I'm glad you're not angry. I told Xellos that he was welcome to join me for some martial arts lessons as I had promised him in exchange for the cooking lessons," which severely malfunctioned, "but he seemed rather upset at me."
"Oh yes, he ranted at Filia, then came home and ranted at me because his oh so traitorous wife wouldn't take his side in the argument. Then he moved back into his room at Wolf Pack Island for a week, which he spent complaining, it was most amusing." Zelas smiled happily, not feeling an ounce of guilt over her son's peril.
"Well, I do hope I can repair our friendship," Phil sincerely voiced.
"Keep trying," Zelas grinned, 'it would be most amusing to hear about later,' she thought. Finally reaching the place she was looking for, she entered the weapons shop. This particular store sold swords, daggers and other such bladed weapons. They didn't sell maces because the owner was afraid of declaring war, even if it was only commercial war, to a dragon. Filia's neighbors already knew what she was, thanks to some Xellos induced temper tantrums.
"I will," Phil assured with well intended determination.
Zelas browsed through the selection of bladed weapons, while Phil stood around looking quite silly holding the cabbage. She finally selected a pair of sharp daggers, which the owner of the shop insisted that she take free of charge. Maybe it was because she was with the prince, or maybe it was because her murderous glare frightened him. She handed the daggers to Phil and, though their discussion was over, he still followed her like a personal servant because it seemed noble to carry a lady's purchases after she had requested it, even if the lady was strong enough to very easily destroy his whole kingdom without feeling the least bit tired.
They arrived in front of Filia's shop, which was actually on the second floor of the structure, the first being occupied by Elena's bakery. At the bakery, Elena was busy in the kitchen, which left Jillas to mind the store front with Palou and Val helping out. "See you later, Phil," Zelas dismissed the prince, taking the items that he carried for her, the cabbage and the two daggers.
"Sure," Phil decided to take his cue, though it wouldn't be so easy to walk away after the next thing that happened. Zelas stomped hard on Phil's right big toe, causing the prince to yelp in pain and hop away down the street before the monster lord decided to express herself further. He told himself that he had to respect cultural differences and forgive her if she was a little rough. She meant no harm, he told himself; after all, people saw him as being a little rough too and he knew he meant well.
Zelas took in the nutrients from Phil's pain as her energy was about to be assaulted by point blank feelings of affection directed straight at her in three, two, one... "Aunty Zelas!" Val and Palou chorused as they ran to her, because she was far too young looking to be referred to as granny, though she was in a sense, Val's grandmother.
"Hi kids," Zelas grinned and from behind the bakery's front counter, Jillas groaned. His stress was good to have in the background as she kneeled to the boys' eye level and allowed her future minions, current mischief makers, to hug her. She kissed each of them on the forehead and presented them with the daggers. "I've brought you each a present."
The ancient dragon boy and the fox beastchild squealed in delight as they received their shiny new toys. Jillas' stress became more apparent on his face. Elena and Filia would be upset if they saw the boys playing with such dangerous looking sharp daggers. The boys on the other hand were nothing short of overjoyed. They immediately started having a play swordfight with the daggers, forgetting about helping out at the bakery.
Zelas left the boys to their games and smiled in amusement at Jillas as she made her way up the stairs to the maces and vases shop that occupied the second floor.
Upstairs, Zelas found Gravos cleaning up one side of the store while Filia tended to a customer on the other. Zelas waved in a fake friendly manner, which made Filia almost drop the vase that was about to be purchased. She hurried to finish the sale as quickly as possible and sent the customer on her way. Filia forced herself to smile and, through clenched teeth, greeted the monster lord. "Hello, Lord Beast Master, to what do I owe the honor of your visit?"
Zelas threw the cabbage at Filia's face, though the golden dragon was ready for such an action and caught it on time before it hit her. "I'm just dropping by for a visit. Look, I brought you a cabbage, since you're a vegetarian."
"I'm not a vegetarian," Filia clarified plainly.
"Really? Then how come you wouldn't eat any roasted boar last time I had you over for dinner?" Zelas asked, feigning surprise and puzzlement.
The boar, specifically, Filia feared was dragon cuisine disguised as something else, though Xellos had told her time and again that it was actually boar. Albeit she didn't like how his method of assuring her was by saying that he had eaten lots of dragon cuisine and easily recognized it when he tasted it. However, she decided not to reference dragon cuisine and instead replied, "for the same reason I didn't eat any of the food, I thought you might poison me."
"Silly girl," Zelas proceeded to pinch Filia's cheek simply because she knew that the action would infuriate the golden dragon to no end. "If I wanted to kill you, I would have done so already."
"Poison isn't necessarily lethal," Filia pointed out as a matter of fact, "but it can be very painful."
"Not as painful as other things," Zelas smiled with a sweetness similar to Xellos and Filia decided that she did not want the conversation to continue in that direction.
"I'm going to put the cabbage in the kitchen," Filia declared. 'To throw away later,' she mentally added. The golden dragon glanced meaningfully at Gravos, who nodded, indicating that he would take care of the store while she tended to the uninvited visitor.
Zelas followed Filia to the living area of the second floor and took a seat in front of the kitchen counter. She placed her elbows on the countertop and observed as Filia's eyebrows twitched slightly into a more annoyed expression no matter how hard she tried to hide it. She didn't like it when people unnecessarily put their elbows on tables and was that ever really necessary? From Filia's perspective, it wasn't.
"So..." Zelas began as Filia took a seat next to her on the counter. "Why don't you tell me your version of the cooking incident? I already heard Xellos' version of it. It was the story of a martyr of a chef... perhaps you can add something to it."
Filia huffed, "martyr indeed," she recalled the event. She wouldn't lower her guard, but maybe she could entertain Zelas long enough with the story so that she would tire of hanging around and leave. "It all began when Xellos told Philionel that he was a great cook and that his skills as a chef had vastly improved. Everyone knows that Xellos is a terrible cook, even Phil, but he decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he had improved."
"That's not entirely true," Zelas interrupted. "Xellos does have some culinary talent, but it lies in monster food."
Seeing it from that perspective, Filia realized that it was a fact. "I suppose he is really good at concocting annoyance and other such unpleasant emotions." The golden dragon cleared her throat and continued. "Anyway, Phil, for some unknown reason, decided that he wanted to cook and agreed to give Xellos some martial arts lessons if he gave him cooking lessons. Xellos went off early one morning in that silly fluffed up white hat and frilly pink apron of his."
"The one with the picture of the yellow ducky on the front?" Zelas interrupted again, just to be annoying.
"Yes, that one." Truthfully, Filia thought the garment was rather cute, but not on men... Okay maybe she thought it was cute on Xellos, but only sometimes... like whenever he wore it. "So," she continued the story. "Philionel shut down the royal kitchen so that he and Xellos could work undisturbed and the disaster began. I'm not sure what it was they were trying to cook, but I'm pretty sure explosions are not edible, then there was that nasty foul smelling gas that spread all over the castle and made people's faces turn green for three days..."
To be Continued
Episode 007: Crazy! This Is Our Life
Flashback... Though the Seyruun royal kitchen was shut down until further notice, a few of the castle guards were curious enough to discretely peek in. Seeing the odd purple haired man who was actually a monster in a pink apron and fluffy white hat was not something to bat an eye at. They had seen him wearing stranger things during the past year which included a rather form fitting red dress in a very believable female disguise among other things. However, seeing their crown prince, king actually, wearing a similar get up was... well it wasn't all that strange either. The king had crazy friends after all, and friends tended to influence each other. Thus without any comments, the curious guards went on their way.
As for the king, as he had officially taken the position about a year ago after the death of his elderly father, he adjusted his fluffy white hat and paid attention to his teacher. Despite being king though, most were still used to seeing him as the eternal prince, since he held the title for so long after becoming the acting ruler, nothing really changed after he became the official ruler. Said king was currently engrossed in the task of stirring a bowl full of a strange mixture that Xellos assured would become a cake if placed in the oven.
"Now we need to add some pepper." Xellos reached into the pocket of his apron, shaking his head at Philionel, who had began to search for pepper in the many kitchen cabinets. "This is a special pepper; it's imported from far away." There was indeed a special pepper made with a secret recipe of the fox beastmen. However, Xellos was not able to find it and what he actually stole from Jillas was a very potent gun powder. He added half of the jar to his dough and gave the rest to Phil to add to his.
The pair continued stirring the dough in silence for a while until Xellos began to hum. Phil soon joined him until they were all out singing a peculiar tune that Xellos had written in case he needed to summon Lina's temperamental wrath. He was so amused by his musical creation that he shared it with everyone, except Lina, he would save that for an emergency. It was odd for a monster to come up with a song, that could almost be seen as a spell, which triggered a human's power to flare along with her temper, but Lina Inverse was certainly special. Xellos had even sung his lyrics to Beast Master and she enjoyed it, even joining in to sing along with him.
"Watch out, look out, take cover, run for your life, it's over." Xellos and Phil lightly danced from side to side as they sang. "Here comes the crimson fury, if you don't run... You'll be sorry!" They started moving their hips left and right to the tune of the song. "A little girl, a tiny lass, her fragile temper made of glass. She's got a right hook made of brass, she's the worse disaster that's come to pass!" The batter was ready and the two wanna-be cooks placed it into molds. The mixture looked green with a bunch of odd herbs and condiments that Xellos insisted on adding.
"Dragon spooker, bandit killer, she's no looker, has no figure, she's so violent, call the healer, only true pain she'll deliver!" The molds were placed into the oven and a fire was lit to make the temperature go up inside the enclosed space. As they waited for their masterpieces to bake, Xellos and Philionel continued singing and dancing, joining hands and spinning around the kitchen.
"She should really be arrested, her gluttony is uncontested!" Phil twirled Xellos around, spinning him away then back towards him. "With utter chaos she's infected," their steps were in perfect sync, their hands were joined, Xellos' other hand on Phil's shoulder and Phil's other hand on Xellos' waist. "And she's really, really flat chested!" As Xellos was dipped, he threw his head back, but his fluffy white hat defied gravity and didn't fall off. From an upside-down angle, he saw the oven's metal glowing red with sparks flying from its interior making their way out from the small openings on the door of the oven. As Phil pulled him to an upright position again, rather than continuing the song, Xellos performed an emergency teleportation which very likely saved Philionel's life.
A huge explosion rattled the castle, making the very earth tremble! The kitchen and its surrounding areas were left in complete ruins. A few guards near the sector were injured and had to receive emergency medical attention from the healers. A vast green smoke invaded the castle, which had to be evacuated. All those who were unfortunate enough to inhale the smoke spent the next few days with green faces riving in pain.
xoxox xox xoxox
Back in the present time, Filia finished her story about the events that led Xellos' cooking to become illegal in Seyruun. "That's the whole story as Philionel told me. Xellos had his own version which was sort of truthful, but with a lot of his own perspective thrown in, which made it sound like a whole different story. He got angry at me when I took Phil's side and... Well, I guess you know the rest. He disappeared for a week, so I figured he had gone back to Wolf Pack Island."
"A pity that he didn't divorce you," Zelas sipped her tea, which Filia had prepared for them while she told the story. The golden dragon decided not to comment about the divorce, or lack thereof. Moving on to the next topic, but still not the main issue that she had come to address, Zelas inquired. "How is Solex?"
"He's fine..." Filia replied with a hint of worry in her voice. Solex was by Xellos' initial conclusion, his minion, a creature made out of his own energy mixed with the energy of a golden dragon for the purpose of severing the monster energy from its original. He was made by a past enemy who had stolen Xellos' power, but the being, at the time without a name, had a mind of his own and with it, the ability to choose his own loyalties. Thus he became as Filia's child. Yet he was an unstable creation as he was made forcefully, rather then by his master's will. Eventually, he came close to disappearing, but was preserved by being given a vessel to possess, a vessel made especially for him by means of a potion which caused Filia to lay an empty egg, which was not empty for long. Yet a year passed by and the child had not hatched.
Filia wasn't worried for Zelas. As far as she knew, the monster lord would rather preserve Xellos' little minion alive. Since then Xellos had recovered his full power, but Beast Master could never have too many allies, especially one who could be potentially powerful if the combination of dragon and monster favored him. He could be as Valgaav was, but loyal to her. Filia's fears were, she realized with surprise, worse than that. Zelas was certainly someone to worry about, but at least she was an entity that, albeit stubborn, could be reasoned with. Situations were different from entities; they happened for better or worse and had no mind to be changed. What if the whole process had failed?
"You worry for him," Zelas concluded, the expression was plainly visible on Filia's face and the taste of her peril was strong. "There is nothing to be done except wait." It was not a consolation, as Zelas had no intentions of speaking such things, very much less to Filia of all people, let Xellos console her if he so chose to do so.
Yet Filia found a small measure of comfort and at the same time, hopelessness. Not even Zelas with all her power, knowledge and cunning could do more than what was done. Solex would live, or die, or perhaps exist in an eternal comatose dream within a dragon egg full of monster energy.
"Has Xellos told you about my visit?" Zelas changed the subject, moving on to the main reason for her presence at Seyruun.
"Yes," Filia had dreaded this moment. She wasn't expecting Zelas to visit when she did. When the time came for her to explain the pact that was, according to Xellos, temporary, but Filia dreaded all the same, the golden dragon expected the general priest to be there. If Zelas came by herself, Filia had hoped, she was there to address something else. Yet her hopes were dashed and it was time to face her fears. "He didn't tell me what the pact was about, only that it was temporary and that if I resisted, I would be killed." He had sounded annoyingly cheery as he explained it too, for the most part at least. "And he..." Filia paused and left it at that, wondering if she should mention the strange event.
xoxox xox xoxox
Flashback... Xellos' periodical visits to Wolf Pack Island had become rather frequent. At first Filia paid it no mind, though not long ago he spend a whole week over, perhaps it wasn't enough. Maybe even a monster got homesick at times, maybe he was entertained hanging around his mother all day and playing with her many pet wolves, or maybe there was some terrible plot in the making. As there was little to be done about it before she knew what she was up against, Filia decided to fight that fire if, and most likely when, it burned, hopefully not literally.
When Xellos returned, things seemed normal enough. He played with Val for a little while and was especially creative about suggesting mischievous things to do to poor Phil. Yet that was likely due to some lingering resentment over the whole illegal cooking law, he'd get over that soon enough, Filia reasoned. Everything seemed more or less calm as Filia put Val to bed and went to check on Solex. The glowing translucent sphere with swirls of black and gold inside it was the same as ever. She spoke softly to it, as if the monster dragon child inside could hear her, and she believed he could. Then she went to bed.
Tired from a busy day at the shop, Filia was in no mood to fall victim to a prank from Xellos. The reason for her suspicion was his very cheerful face. She guarded her back as if she were in the middle of a tempestuous battlefield as she got ready for bed. Finally, she examined the bed analytically before climbing into it, where Xellos met her suspicious glare with amused curiosity. "Did you lose something, stupid dragon?"
"My sanity," Filia admitted, "back when I married you, raw garbage." Cautiously, she snuggled to him, her tail slightly twitching behind her as if she was ready to jump into a defensive stance.
"Because I'm so attractive it's crazy?" Xellos teased.
Filia's eyes met his as she searched for something in the amethyst orb that stared back at her in a reverse wink, a hidden purpose, a well kept secret, something. "Is there something you need to say to me?"
"Yes, actually," Xellos admitted, seeing as Filia could read him like a book. When did she become so good at it? "There is a pact you must make," Filia's face constrained with the shaping of a defensive argument in her mind. "And before you protest, let me assure you that it is temporary." She pulled away to glare at him while he continued. "And if you refuse, Beast Master will kill you, so if I must, I'll force you into it myself."
His eyes were both open now, denoting that he was completely serious. She knew she had no choice and she huffed in indignation. "What do I have to do?"
"That is a secret," Xellos replied with a smiled, his eyes closing again.
"Tell me," Filia demanded dryly. It was bad enough that she had no choice but to accept a sort of pledge, even if it was temporary, on top of that she wouldn't be kept in suspense.
"It is a secret, even to me," Xellos confessed. He watched as Filia's face showed surprise, then worry. She bit her lip as if she couldn't decide what to think. The last time Zelas had a secret plot that she kept even from Xellos, it turned out to be a pretty a big ordeal, a very life changing ordeal indeed. "It'll be alright though; they say idiots always come out on top." He pushed her head gently back on his shoulder, fingers entangled in her long golden hair.
"And you trust Beast Master," Filia added, her voice a little muffled against Xellos' chest. "You're very loyal to her..." 'She won't hurt you, right?' Filia mentally asked and if she had a positive answer to that, she felt that she could include her own as well as Val and Solex's safety in that.
"Speaking of loyalty," Xellos' tone was still cheerful, but there was something more mixed in, curiosity, a hint of worry, puzzlement and confusion. "Always stay loyal to me, stupid dragon."
Filia could have rolled her eyes and dismissed the comment at any other time, because he knew she was and always would be. Yet this time, it puzzled her. "Xellos?"
"Go to sleep," the conversation was over, he decided.
Filia knew that she would get no further information out of him. "Good night, raw garbage."
xoxox xox xoxox
Present time... Zelas raised an eyebrow at the way Filia suddenly ceased her speech. "And he, what?" The monster lord curiously prompted.
"He told me to always be loyal to him," Filia revealed. She observed the blossoming of understanding on Zelas' face. Just as she thought, those words had not been random, they had a meaning that Xellos didn't reveal or perhaps didn't fully understand, but Zelas knew it.
Zelas made no motion to hide the fact that she knew what that was about. In fact, she made it obvious as she laughed. "His theory is way off," she chuckled. "Who'd want an ugly thing like you anyway? I would have my work cut out for me finding you a suitor to steal you away." After she was done laughing, long before Filia was done pouting, Zelas elaborated. "I told Xellos not to be jealous and it seems he misinterpreted my advice. Oh but I do hope he doesn't get jealous over a temporary arrangement like this. I shall have to tell him, after he recovers, that he is indeed my favorite general priest."
"He's your only general priest," Filia pointed out as a matter of fact.
Zelas' eyes shone with mischief, "not for long." She grinned forebodingly. "That will be your job for a while."
Filia's jaw dropped as she struggled to force her throat to produce sounds. Finally, she managed to push out an unsure, "excuse me?"
"Your stupidity is excused," Zelas smiled sweetly, with an expression very much like that of Xellos. "But I shall not go easy on you; do your job well, my minion. Come now, it is time to make preparations."
"Preparations?" Filia sunk into her chair. "But I can't be your general priest. What would the other dragons think?"
"Isn't Milgazia's clan the only one willing to receive you now a days?" Zelas reminded.
"Yes, and he'd be so disappointed!" Filia frowned. Though she went through a period during which she almost completely shunned her own race, she had gotten over that and found a friend in Milgazia. He was wise and caring, more open than the other dragons but at the same time sticking to his principals strongly. He had led his clan to achieve a balance that took many years to form, but it was now finally showing.
Zelas shrugged, "couldn't you just call him a hypocrite then?"
"How so?" Filia fretted.
"He plays brass rackets with me now and then. In other words, he has no problems with putting up with my whims. Why should you, my dear daughter-in-law?" Zelas teased.
"He only plays to keep you busy so you won't turn his clan into dragon cuisine. He amuses you to protect them!" Filia argued.
"Yes, I know, now it's your turn to amuse me to protect yourself," Zelas gave her a predatory grin.
Filia sighed as she frowned. This was no argument because really, who could argue with Zelas? "I guess I have no choice, but I really don't know how to do Xellos' job, so please don't take it out on anyone innocent if I accidentally mess up."
"Don't worry, your mission will not be particularly difficult and you'll have Lina to help guide you," Zelas offered.
Lina... when the monster race involved Lina Inverse, there was something big going on. Filia suspected that, even if Xellos wasn't aware of the specifics of Beast Master's plan concerning her, he must know about the general situation, perhaps even of the goal of the plan. "Lina... Lina Inverse..." Filia spoke the name in a whisper. She let out a breath that mixed exhaustion with nostalgia. "It seems another crazy adventure is about to start."
Zelas smiled, her face showing real joy, "a very chaotic adventure indeed."
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, before Xellos had gone to Zephilia, Lina and Gourry had arrived in the town. Lina and Luna's parents, Light and Labyrinthine Inverse, welcomed their daughter and her fiance happily. Labyrinthine, whose name Gourry couldn't pronounce for the life of him, received him with appetizers and the promise of a big meal that was almost done. Naturally, Gourry was most pleased with the welcome and gladly continued to call Labyrinthine 'mom' as she had previously requested in a past visit.
Soon Gourry got caught up with Light, aka 'dad', in a conversation about the swords and sword-fighting styles that he had seen during his travels. Lina knew that they would remained caught up in their little world of swords until the food was ready and let them have their future father and son-in-law bonding time. The red haired sorceress retreated to the kitchen to help her mother finish preparing everything, which meant that Mrs. Inverse would spend more time stopping her youngest daughter from eating the half cooked food and less time actually preparing the meal, but she was glad to see her little Lina again and welcomed the so called help anyway.
Luna was off working at the cafe as a waitress. She would get off work early that day and would very soon join the rest of her family to catch up on the latest happenings of Lina's adventures that were not communicated via letters, or were simply better off told and half-reenacted in person. The knight of Ceifeed arrived as expected and the meal commenced. Gourry and Lina actually minded their manners more than usual, as if wanting to give a good, responsible and mature impression.
When Lina and Gourry had become engaged, it was due to a misunderstanding which made them legally married. Rather than breaking up entirely and getting a divorce, they decided to remain engaged instead, after the situation pushed them to be more open about their feelings. Gourry had told her than that she should tell him when she was ready to be his wife, hinting that he would be willing to marry her right away if she so wished it. As for Lina, she had hinted that she had something to tell Gourry and also that she wanted to visit her hometown. He played along, clueless of her true intentions, but he would soon find out, as Lina intended to soon tell him she was finally ready. Yet as it often happened with situations concerning Lina Inverse, chaos is just around the corner and nothing ever turns out as planned.
To be Continued
Episode 008: Pain! Heartbroken Fury
At Zephilia, the atmosphere was merry in the Inverse household. The group had just finished a meal and Luna conveniently suggested that Lina should help with the dishes. "You too dad," Luna added, purposely doing so before Light could resume his conversation about swords with Gourry. The blond swordsman was about to follow the majority into the kitchen with plates to be washed, but Luna took them off his hands and gave them to Lina. "The guest shouldn't do the dishes."
Lina struggled to balance a mountain of plates that was taller than her. "What about you, Luna?" She asked with guarded irritation from behind the barrier of ceramic.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of entertaining the guest," Luna offered, purposely misinterpreting Lina's comment. The younger Inverse daughter knew better than to question her sister, thus she went off to the kitchen along with her parents.
Gourry shifted uncomfortably as he felt Luna's eyes examining him critically. "Um... shouldn't we go help them?"
"I want to talk to you," Luna indicated. She moved from the dinning area to the living room and sat down on the couch, motioning for Gourry to take a seat as well.
The swordsman sat across from the knight of Ceifeed. The atmosphere was serious and tense; it was making him terribly uncomfortable. He shifted and looked into Luna's face. Her hair was in a similar style to Xellos', perhaps an inch or two longer. The bangs were noticeably longer though, enough to cover her eyes with a deep purplish crimson-curtain. He thought he saw her eyes flicker with eerie lights behind the hair, but it might have been his imagination.
"So, you want to marry my sister," Luna spoke abruptly.
Gourry sat up straight and adopted a serious expression. "Yes, ma'am," he had never felt like this before. Luna's energy was practically pulsating in the atmosphere around her.
"It would be a pity if she didn't feel the same way," Luna continued seriously.
"It's okay," Gourry took her words with optimism. "I can wait until she's ready."
Luna shook her head and tilted her face downward slightly, as if expressing pity. "What would you do if she broke up with you?"
Time felt like it stood still. Gourry had to tell himself not to stay frozen, to ask, "what makes you say that?"
"Answer my question," Luna's voice was commanding, as she was true to the title of knight of Ceifeed.
"I would..." Gourry thought about what he didn't want to think about. "I would be sad."
"And then you'd leave her side?" Luna's question was laced with a protective tone that was almost threatening.
"No," Gourry replied sincerely. "I'm Lina's protector... Although she's strong enough to protect herself, I can still help. Besides, I can protect her from other things, like being lonely or bored. I'll stay by her side, unless she tells me to leave. But even then I wouldn't go too far, so that if she calls me I'll hear and I'll be there right away."
"She's a selfish brat you know," Luna pointed out.
Gourry smiled fondly, "I know, I don't picture her to be an angel, she's a human being with flaws and virtues. She's a hot tempered loud mouth, greedy little brat, but all of that can be cute when it's on Lina. She's also brave, determined and energetic, and I..."
"You?" Luna prompted.
"I love her," Gourry finished.
Luna smiled as if this was exactly the kind of answer she was looking for. She saw the look in Lina's eyes; she knew her little sister was ready to spend her whole life with this man. She just wanted to make sure beyond a doubt that he was right for her.
Before the eldest Inverse daughter could express her support, Lina emerged from the kitchen. "Mom and dad said I didn't have to hang around doing the dishes," she excused herself with Luna.
"Very well, I'll go help them then." Luna got to her feet, she seemed rather cheerful, Lina silently noted. "Why don't you and Gourry go out for a walk?"
Lina nodded eagerly, she had to talk to Gourry in private anyway and there was no time like the present. "Let's go, Gourry!" She practically dragged him out of the house, though he opposed no resistance.
xoxox xox xoxox
After taking a nice relaxing stroll through town, waving to childhood neighbors and taking in the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere, Gourry and Lina arrived at the Zephilia park. They found a secluded spot under the shade of a large tree and sat down to talk. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you," Lina shifted somewhat nervous. She already knew what Gourry's answer would be, or at least she thought she knew, but it was still hard to communicate this.
"What is it?" Gourry smiled in a friendly and encouraging way, like he often did.
"We've been together for a long time, haven't we?" Lina asked a rhetorical question and continued before Gourry could answer it, because he didn't really know what a rhetorical question was. "Our relationship has also changed overtime," she blushed. "And I was thinking it's time for a change."
Gourry felt time stop again as a feeling of deja vu sunk into the pit of his stomach. Had Luna been trying to warn him of this? Was Lina breaking up with him? "I... I understand..." He voiced sadly.
Lina mistook his tone for being a little nervous, "really?" If he actually took the hint, which she certainly wasn't expecting, and propose, it would save her a lot of effort. "Then you agree?"
Gourry's eyes were on the green grass that covered the ground; he didn't want to look at Lina. He said he would stay by her side and he meant it, but he couldn't look at her now. Perhaps this was what heartbreak felt like. "Let's stay friends; even if we break up, I still want to be your friend." Gourry told himself to be strong as he put on a cheerful mask for Lina's sake and smiled at her.
Gourry's smile was very false and forced, but Lina was too shocked to take note of his expression as his words rung out repeatedly in her head. Pain took hold of her, extinguishing all other emotions along with her use of reason. Then came the anger. It was like a wildfire that lit up inside her and spread from the center of her body to her limbs down to the tips of her hair. Her face was red; her eyes flared with heartbroken wrath and one might have mistaken her for Ruby Eyes himself. "Get lost!" She screamed murderously.
Gourry looked like a kicked puppy. "But Lina, can't we be friends?" He whimpered sadly.
"Leave me alone! I'm sick and tired of you; I don't even know how I put up with you in the first place. You're nothing but a useless idiot who's always in my way. I never want to see you again!" Lina's shouting resounded strongly, but it was all distant to her. It was as if she was watching a tragic scene in a terrible play full of bad taste drama. But it was real, it was real and it hurt.
"Lina..." Gourry frowned, eyes reflecting a deep sorrow.
Blinded by painful fury, Lina began to chant a familiar spell, her face was haunted as if she had been possessed by something terrible, but the only thing possessing her was her own deep pain. "Darkness beyond twilight..."
Gourry gasped in disbelief, was she really attacking him? "Lina, wait!"
She continued the spell as if she couldn't hear him. "Crimson beyond blood that flows..."
Realizing that there was no way to reason with her, Gourry decided to leave for the time being. "Goodbye Lina... If you ever need me, just call, I won't be too far away." Then he ran away without looking back.
"Buried in the stream of time..." Lina's voice grew softer as Gourry disappeared in the distance, until it was a barely audible whisper. "Buried in the..." The power that she held in her hands dissipated as she lost her focus on the spell. "Buried..." She fell to her knees, hands gripping blades of grass and ripping them off the ground as abundant tears of agony flowed down her face. "Gourry..." she sobbed quietly and remained that way for she didn't know how long.
Some time later, "oh my..." A familiar, somewhat nasal, male voice accompanied the redhead's agony. "Have I arrived at a bad time?" Xellos leaned over curiously, wondering what the feast of sorrow was about. It was nutritious yes, but he didn't like sorrow much, he found its taste to be somewhat bland. He very much preferred wrath, it was spicy and delicious. Lina was usually a good source of that, but today she had fallen apart and she wasn't even responding to him. "Lina?" He had to wonder if she had even heard him. This was becoming somewhat unnerving; Lina Inverse did not fall apart easily. "Lina?" Xellos placed his hand on her shoulder and that seemed to wake her up.
With an echoing wail that would put a banshee to shame, Lina jolted to her feet, took hold of Xellos' shirt with her grass stained gloves and buried her face on his chest. Her mad wailing continued until she felt Xellos shift and her gut instinct told her he was about to say something stupid, something that would most likely further infuriate her. She was most certainly not in the mood to be teased. "Shut up and console me, useless item number four!"
"Useless?" Xellos repeated somewhat offended. Not only was he still number four on the list, but now he was a useless item rather than a useful one.
"Now!" Lina screamed into his face with such a commanding voice paired with such a murderous look that Xellos felt compelled to hug her.
"There, there, don't cry... Or at least tell me why you're crying," Xellos inquired. From the corner of his eyes he saw Gourry hidden among the shrubbery of the park several feet away.
The blond swordsman observed the scene for a moment and, when he was sure that Lina had a friend to comfort her, only then did he go on his way. He would have to thank Lina's family for their hospitality and remove himself from the scene before Lina returned home; he didn't want to make things harder for her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Gourry hurried back to the Inverse house. The dishes were finished in record breaking time, thanks to some magical creativity, and Light was out in front of the house polishing some swords. He wanted to have a little spar with Gourry in memory of his younger days as a mercenary before he settled down in Zephilia and opened the Inverse general store. "Welcome back, son. Lina's not with you? Ah, she must have gotten caught up with the neighborhood girls; she must have many stories to tell them." Then he realized that Gourry wasn't all there and a sad expression hung heavy on his face. "What's the matter?"
Frowning, Gourry hung his head, feeling as if he should be apologizing. "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't have the right to call you father anymore. Lina... Miss Inverse is... she has decided she doesn't want me by her side..."
Light was taken aback by the revelation. As far as he could tell, his younger daughter and the traveling swordsman were very close to each other, very much in love. They reminded him of himself and his wife when they were younger. "What happened?"
Gourry shook his head, "I'm not sure and maybe that's at least part of the problem. I wasn't able to please Lina; I guess I wasn't smart enough to figure out what she wanted."
Light was still shocked. He put down the swords he was working on and approached Gourry, placing a hand on his shoulder in a fatherly fashion. "Don't you do that, my boy. Don't go doubting yourself like that. I did that too, you know. I would sometimes ask myself, what can a beautiful sorceress like Labyrinthine want with a mercenary like me? And because of my doubts I pushed her feelings away for far too long. But in the end, we worked things out and here we are."
Gourry nodded, his head was too crowded with thoughts and feelings he didn't understand, so he really wasn't up to analyzing anything, not that he ever was, but this time he didn't even have his innocent optimism to fall back on. "I'll keep that in mind, thank you for everything." Though he said that, Gourry was unable to absorb the full meaning of Light's words or the hint that he was telling him to be persistent and chase after Lina.
Without another word, Gourry entered the house. Labyrinthine was arranging some fresh flowers on a vase in the living room, a vase that had been made by Filia. Luna was sitting on the couch reading an ancient looking tome. Both women looked at Gourry as he entered the living room and gave them an apologetic sounding, "excuse me," before heading towards the guest room to fetch what little luggage he carried.
Gourry headed for the front door again to find that Labyrinthine and Luna had remained as still as statues; though these particular statues strongly demanded an explanation with their eyes. "I'm sorry, but I must leave, it's best for Lina if I'm gone when she returns. She doesn't want me here anymore. I'm grateful for your kindness and hospitality; I'll always remember my visits to your home."
Labyrinthine's eyes widened, her mouth slightly agape. The crimson flower she was holding slipped out of her grasp and fell on the table beside the vase. At the same time, Luna raise an eyebrow invisible behind the thick curtain of deep purplish-crimson overgrown bangs that nearly touched her nose. Her eyes flickered again, as if they held unnatural lights, lights that demanded answers and would not accept silence.
Gourry was too sad to be afraid of the eerie atmosphere that suddenly surrounded Luna. He met the lights beneath the hair that fell over them with his own gaze and reaffirmed his earlier promise. "I'll keep my word," he assured. "I won't bother Lina, but if she calls for me, I'll be there for her." With those final noble words left hanging in the air, Gourry exited the Inverse house for what he feared would be his last visit ever to Lina's family.
xoxox xox xoxox
A little later, at the park, Lina sniffled and parted from Xellos, not caring that she dirtied his shirt with grass stains. "None of your business," she sobbed. At least it looked like she was starting to calm down. Then she caught sight of the tree she and Gourry had been sitting under. The letters GL were carved into it inside a heart, it had been something Gourry did during the last visit to Zephilia and Lina didn't want to look at it. With a fierce battle cry, she gathered fire in her hands, "fireball!" And burned the tree to ashes.
"Freeze arrow!" A rather large arrow of ice collided with the flames, becoming water and extinguishing them on contact, before the fire could spread through the park. The one who had casted the spell was none other than the knight of Ceifeed herself, Luna Inverse. "What trouble are you causing, beast priest?"
Xellos raised his hands, palms forward, in a sign of defense. "It wasn't me."
Tears had started flowing down Lina's face again after her tantrum. Gourry had been so sweet to her that day and the precious happy memory was now a tragic painful one. Who ever said that it was better to have loved and lost than to not love at all was a big liar! With such bitterness in her heart, Lina started wailing again. She turned around abruptly and ran to her sister, "Lu... Lu..." she sobbed, "Luna!" She dashed past Xellos, shoving him aside carelessly in the process and clung to her sister for consolation.
This was Luna, the sister that Lina both feared and respected, but Xellos was so bad at consoling people that Lina had to rely on Luna. "Shh... it's okay... don't cry..." Luna caressed her sister's hair gently until her wails became hiccupping sobs and she eventually calmed down. "Now," the knight of Ceifeed parted from Lina slightly to look into her red puffy eyes. "Tell me what happened."
"Gourry..." Lina whimpered, "he broke up with me."
Luna noticed the discrepancy between their versions of the event right away. "You didn't break up with him?"
Lina shook her head vigorously. "No, he broke up with me and offered to stay friends, but I yelled at him and threatened him with a Dragon Slave."
"I see..." Luna observed. From what she could perceive, there was some kind of misunderstanding going on, though the knight of Ceifeed never would have guess that she was directly linked to the root of the misunderstanding. Those had not been her intentions, she was merely protecting her little sister, making sure that the man she chose was worthy of her. Gourry had earned her approval and this turn of events was most unexpected. Yet Lina was the only one who could fix this, Lina and Gourry, it was up to them. "Perhaps you shouldn't shut him out completely. Why not accept his friendship? It might blossom into more before you know it."
Lina stubbornly shook her head. "I'm never falling in love again." She furrowed her brow and stomped her feet in determination.
Luna sighed, "if you say so," albeit it would be easier said than done.
"Ehem..." Xellos cleared his throat. "Excuse me," he had been ignored and he didn't like it. "If you're quite done with your bizarre sisterly bonding moment, I would like to speak to Lina about business."
Luna glared, "you will do no such thing." Power gathered around her, it was the energy of Ceifeed.
"Wait, Luna," Lina interjected, stepping forward between her sister and Xellos. "I kind of need this right now, a distraction. If I know Xellos, his business will be something troublesome, but I'll deal with it."
Luna ruffled Lina's hair, "don't do something I wouldn't do." Then she began to walk away, stopping after only a few steps. "And you," her eyes glowed behind her long bangs as she looked right at Xellos who, for a brief instant opened his purple eyes, "don't put Lina through unnecessary trouble."
Then the mask of cheer was back on Xellos' face as he chirped in assurance. "I would never," and smiled with false innocence.
After Luna left, Lina squared her shoulders and adopted a serious look upon her face. "What was it that you wanted to talk about, Xellos?"
Xellos grinned as he finally went down to business. "Lord Beast Master has a job for you. It involves going on another journey, but the specifics of your role were not revealed even to me. Zelas wants to speak to you in person concerning the details."
Lina didn't have a guess about what could be going on, at least not yet. "I suppose I have no choice but to hear her out. Alright, let's go."
To be Continued
Episode 009: Impulse! A Step Forward and Ten Back
Wolves howled as the sea washed against the shores of Wolf Pack Island. Xellos led Lina inside the hidden palace underground, towards Zelas' throne room. "You really are a stubborn one," Zelas' voice was heard, coming from down the hall. "At least you are named correctly." As she emerged from another hallway and into their view, Lina and Xellos realized that there was something peculiar attached to the bottom of her white dress. It was a young wolf-dog with yellow fur and blue eyes. The female was a little over a year old and she was playfully chewing on the ivory fabric in an attempt to get her master's master to play with her.
"Fili," As soon as Xellos spoke the name, the wolf-dog released the fabric of Zelas' dress and ran to Xellos, trying to jump on him. Xellos caught her, but he set her down again. "You're too big to jump into my arms like that."
"Fili has visited her kind long enough, go drop off your pet in Seyruun." Zelas dismissed.
Xellos knew it was his cue to leave Lina alone with Beast Master. "I'll be back in a little while." He teleported away, taking the wolf-dog with him, Val and Palou would be glad to have her back. Zelas never liked her much, though she had a level of tolerance for Fili that amazed even Xellos. The wolf-dog hybrid was the daughter of one of her favorite wolves, Chaos, and Milgazia's dog, Justice, needless to say, Zelas was not pleased with this, but let Fili and her siblings live. While Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde, who took more after their mother with black fur, lived at Wolf Pack Island with the other wolves, the runt of the litter was adopted by Xellos and named Fili Algar Metallium. Her middle name was composed of the forth letters of the names Zelas, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry, possibly because Xellos was Lina's useful and sometimes useless, item number four, though that was somewhat of an unconscious choice in his part.
With Xellos gone, Zelas led Lina into the elegant yet somewhat rustic looking throne room that was occasionally remodeled. Gold and fur seemed to be the theme at the moment. Zelas' golden throne had thick black fur draped over it with a few fur rugs scattered about in a seemingly random pattern that was both chaotic, yet strangely balanced. The walls were decorated in swirls of white, black and gray as if painted with distant galaxies, and the golden throne stood out, though it wasn't blindingly bright due to the contrast of the black fur details on it. Zelas took a seat on the throne as Lina stood before her.
The red haired sorceress chuckled, as if trying to force herself out of the numb state she was left in. Her eyes were still red and puffy, making it obvious she had been crying. The taste of her unpleasant feelings must be clear to Zelas. However, Lina Inverse had her pride and she wasn't about to be looked down on by a monster lord, or by anyone. "I see you've remodeled the place." Lina didn't visit Wolf Pack Island often, but she had been there before during a series of chaotic events that she didn't have the energy to think about at the time.
"Do you like it? I'm remodeling the sitting room that precedes my personal chambers too, but you had not seen that one before." Zelas spoke casually. "That's a pity because it was quite stunning if I do say so myself. But alas, the decorations are lost. Sweet little Val let the wolves into my chambers last time he was here for a visit and he got them so hyper and playful that they chewed up my precious dissected dragons. Of course, Val thought they were just statues, amusing little mischief maker that boy," she chuckled.
"Dissected dragons..." Lina couldn't help it but to wonder what Filia would say to the story of that event.
"I sent the torn up remains to Milgazia as a prank gift and he sent me a rather displeased sounding letter in return, but it was so proper and diplomatic that I couldn't take it seriously. I would laugh my head off the day someone made that oh so controlled and patient dragon blow his temper a la Lina," Zelas grinned.
Lina didn't like being used as a temperamental example, but in her current mood, she didn't really care. "What is it that you wanted to ask of me?" She decided to cut the small talk, speaking sharply.
"Not in a good mood, are you?" Zelas stated what had been obvious to her from the start. Seeing that Lina was refusing to humor her with a response to her comment, Beast Master continued. "For a reason that does not concern you, as it is an internal business of the monster race, I must gather chaotic energy from the beings of this world. I plan to gather it from Xellos and Filia; however, I need you to serve as the leader as they go on a journey. Concerning the specifics of the journey, I will entrust those choices to you as chaos seems to follow you wherever you go. There is another role you must perform too, Xellos and Filia will have their memories temporarily locked and it will be as if this was their first meeting."
"No!" Lina adamantly refused. "I'm not going to deal with that again! Xellos being extra annoying because, I didn't see it at the time but, it's his strange way to flirt. Filia getting angry at him and rampaging through towns, stomping around in dragon form. Not happening!"
"Withhold the tantrum, dear Lina, of course you will be a fine source of chaotic energy as well, so you must not feel left out." Zelas continued speaking calmly to the fuming sorceress before her. "I assure you, Filia will not be stumping around in dragon form, though Xellos might, if he is pushed to it."
That took Lina by surprise. "What?" Even if she tried not to look interested, the curiosity was written all over her face.
"It's only a temporary switch," Zelas grinned, amused by Lina's futile attempt to hide her curiosity. "I have heard Xellos spent a little time as a dragon before, but that was due to an accidental wish granted by the wandering spirit of a mermaid trapped in a magical pearl. He might be stuck that way for longer now, not that he would know and neither will she."
Lina pushed herself to think rationally and consider the very serious risks of Zelas' plans. "Xellos as a dragon is one thing, but Filia as a monster? I thought you wanted to torture the world, not destroy it! What if, due to her missing memories, she goes back to her old temper tantrums with a power like Xellos' at her disposal? I also really don't want to see her pre-reality check with monster views." Zelas only smiled and Lina realized something, "you anticipate all that, even look forward to it."
"Correct," Zelas' grin grew. "I will instruct Filia not to kill you or Xellos. That way Xellos will be free to throw a hissy fit if his dragon form, or Filia, gets to him, and you'll be able to better exercise your authority as the leader. How about it, Lina?"
Lina sighed; she knew she had no choice. It would be worse if Xellos and Filia were left in such a state unsupervised. Besides, she really needed the distraction and another chaotic adventure could be like therapy to her wounded heart. It was decided, "I'll do it..." and in true Lina fashion she added, "but it'll cost you."
Zelas laughed, she wouldn't expect anything different from Lina Inverse. "How about I take care of your travel expenses, including food. That way you can stuff your face in a vain attempt to heal your broken heart."
Lina frowned; Zelas just had to bring up her heartbreak. Well, it would only be worse for her wallet now. "No budget limits," the redhead demanded sternly.
"Feel free to eat the world, so long as you keep the journey and the chaos flowing," Zelas agreed. She materialized something out of thin air and handed the item to Lina.
The item was small, taking up only the space on her palm. It was a sort of royal crest similar to the one Amelia carried to represent Seyruun, except of course the symbol on it was quite different. There was the silhouette of a winged wolf... "You updated this too," Lina noted, having seen Xellos with the older version of the crest before. With that symbol of Zelas' bank account backing up her expenses, Lina intended to eat like a queen... or like a dozen queens.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at Wolf Pack Island, Lina had been sent off to prepare, having been teleported off the island by Fang. Xellos and Filia were both present in a specially designated chamber in the center of the underground palace. The chamber was very tall and elaborate, with marble pillars that reached up to the tall ceiling. The marble became glass mixed with marble pebbles that became less until even the glass ended. It gave the impression of pillars that reached for the infinity of space until they disintegrated into the endless Sea of Chaos. The ceiling was about a hundred feet above, painted black with large diamonds encrusted into it, powered with some minor light spells contained in the jewels, which made them shine like stars.
Yet the beauty of the chamber was not enough to calm Filia as she shifted, standing on the diamond encrusted marble floor. It looked as if stars had fallen in a sort of temple dedicated to chaos, yet the image was also peaceful, balanced, it was Filia's mind that was in a turmoil. She knew that she could entrust Val to Jillas, Gravos and Elena, she knew that he would be taken care of, but it wasn't leaving her child which worried her. She was more so worried about her own actions. What would she do as a monster? Would she have something terrible to regret when she changed back to normal and got her memories back? She glanced at Xellos who stood a few feed away next to her. He was calm, yet anticipating, curious.
Zelas began to chant and circles of light surrounded Xellos and Filia. She held up a necklace with a violet gem, a valuable amethyst and so much more. The jewel was the conductor to absorb the chaotic energy and the source of the temporary change was Beast Master's own power, thus she could undo it at will. Symbols appeared around the borders of the circles that glowed in every color humans had ever come up with a name for. The violet jewel became a multicolored light along with the circles and magic resonated through the chamber in sharp continuous waves.
Filia felt something take a hold of her, as if it was gripping her very soul and injecting power into her being. She looked at Xellos and bit back the need to cry out. It was somewhat painful, but not excruciatingly so, nonetheless she was frightened. Xellos on the other hand was calm despite the unpleasant look on his face that came from having his power drained to be temporarily lent to her. Filia closed her eyes and opposed no resistance as she knew it was fruitless.
The magic continued to flow and the glow of many colors slowly settled into a dark purple. The amethyst's light faded until it looked like a normal, albeit exceptionally beautiful, jewel. Both Xellos and Filia were now unconscious on the floor of the chamber, his hair was a golden blond and hers was purple, though their eyes, Zelas mused, were probably their usual color for each of them. She looked over their sleeping forms and smiled with approval. "Celo," she summoned.
Celo entered the chamber at once. He was a monster human chimera, an actual combination rather than a pledged human. His long black hair was tied in a low ponytail. Purple eyes very similar to Xellos' examined the area attentively and sharp fangs could be seen when he smiled, giving him a somewhat vampire-like appearance, though he wasn't one. "Lord Beast Master..."
"Take her to Xellos' room and let her rest for a while," Zelas commanded.
"Yes, Lord Beast Master," Celo picked up Filia's unconscious form. She reminded him of his late wife, Tiffany, who had been a golden dragon and Filia's childhood friend. Her sacrifice had been vital to winning the battle last year and averting the end of the world. He left with Filia and took her to Xellos' room as instructed.
Zelas picked up Xellos' unconscious form. He shifted slightly in her arms and there was a ripping noise which she realized was due to his tail making its first appearance so soon after the transformation to dragon. He would just have to deal with keeping it out or deal with having a hole in his pants every time it came out without permission. She assumed he would most likely opt for the former. Without further ado, she teleported away, taking the unconscious Xellos with her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelas reappeared at Dragon's Peak in the Kataart Mountains, specifically in front of Milgazia's house. "Delivery!" She called out in a cheerful mocking tone.
Milgazia opened the door and an unconscious dragon who very much resembled a blond Xellos was shoved into his arms. "What is the meaning of this?"
"How rude, aren't you going to invite me in and offer me a cup of tea?" Zelas feigned offense. "Even Filia had enough manners to do at least that."
Milgazia frowned, but knew when not to be stubborn. "Would you like to come in and have a cup of tea?" He asked without any enthusiasm.
"No thanks," cue the sarcasm, "darling," it sounded more like and insult than a term of endearment. "I'm in a hurry." Milgazia opened his mouth to speak again, but Zelas cut him off as she shoved past him into the house. "But if you insist I might just honor you with my presence." She made her way to the kitchen and started sorting through his cabinets as if they were her own.
Milgazia set the unconscious dragon, who looked like Xellos, down on the couch at the living room and quickly followed Zelas. "That unconscious dragon, who is he? Xellos per chance?"
Zelas paid Milgazia's disapproving look no mind as she examined a dark blue tea cup with golden details. She tossed the tea cup over her shoulder carelessly, though it was fortunately caught by Milgazia. "Xellos Ul Copt, as his temporary identity goes." She moved her attention away from the cabinets that were not hers to ravish and finally looked at Milgazia in the eyes. "Here's the story, Xellos Ul Copt was a dragon from the Flare Lord's clan whose clan was destroyed during the Darkstar incident. He later joined your clan and has been living here since. Unfortunately, he was injured in a battle against Beast Master's monsters and suffered a partial amnesia because of it. The general notions of the story are already in his head, all you need to do is enforce it."
Milgazia was taken by surprise and for an instant longer than he would have liked, it showed clearly on his face. "Why all this?" He had to ask.
"That is a secret..." Zelas shook her finger at him in a very Xellos-like expression. "You need not worry though," she added before he could protest. "Lina Inverse will be here to take Xellos off your hands very soon. Of course, I can still do this without you and if you don't cooperate I'll eat you."
Milgazia frowned, he didn't want to become dragon cuisine, but there was something else about the statement that caught his attention. "If my participation in this charade is not vital, or even truly necessary, then why bother threatening me?"
"Because it's amusing," Zelas stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Besides, you're so terribly dull, I want to see you lose your cool one day, it would be entertaining, I imagine."
"Dull?" Well now, there was no need to throw around petty insults, was there? "The last time I tried to tell a joke in your presence, you slapped me as if I had terribly offended you," which left her burning red hand print on his face for quite a while.
Zelas almost shuddered when she recalled his dull joke. It was so dull it hurt like a high level astral attack. It actually caused her pain, her, Beast Master Zelas Metallium. "We will not speak of that."
It made Milgazia wonder if his innocent joke was indeed somehow offensive to her. Wisely, he decided to drop the subject. He already knew what came next, so before she spoke he did, "now I'll refuse to cooperate and you'll threaten my clan to push me into it."
"Correct," Zelas nodded. "It's odd how the thought of being cooked and eaten doesn't concern you as much as the safety of others. You're a stupidly selfless creature, you know? Maybe that's why you're so dull, you have no personal desires."
What ever happened to being called pleasant Milgazia? "There is really no need to stand here insulting each other."
"I don't remember being insulted," Zelas pointed out. "You don't have the guts."
"I have no liking for unnecessary rudeness," Milgazia argued. After making a small pause he inquired. "Was there something more you wished to discuss?"
"No," Zelas confirmed, then she disappeared. That was it, she was gone.
Milgazia heard a tired groan from the living room and left the kitchen, placing the tea cup he had caught on the counter as he exited. He noted with a touch of physically invisible but very much present annoyance that his unwanted guest, Xellos, was awake. He wanted to get rid of him before any further trouble arose, but he decided to investigate just what state of mind the monster turned dragon was in. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got run over by an army of monsters," Xellos replied rubbing his head. He focused on the dragon who had spoken to him. Milgazia, his name came into his mind. "I'm at Dragon's Peak?" He asked a little unsure.
"Yes, there was a battle and you were injured, but you're okay now..." Milgazia played along. He didn't catch any hints of deception in Xellos' still purple eyes. Perhaps Zelas was telling the truth about his state of mind after all.
"I see..." Xellos closed his eyes and tried to organize his thoughts. He couldn't clearly remember anything at all and he attributed the partial amnesia to being dazed after the battle, which he couldn't remember either. He did have vague bits and pieces of memories of a false past, though it appeared more so as information in his head rather than images, because unknown to him, such images did not exist.
To be Continued
Episode 010: Switch! Put Yourself In My Shoes
Xellos had just woken up at Milgazia's house as a dragon with partial amnesia and false information. He tried hard to remember. He was a dragon born in the fire clan, who joined the water clan after the fire clan's destruction during the Darkstar incident, which he very blurrily vaguely remembered. Yet his role and the roles of the others were different, with some elements being completely absent from this new version. He decided to leave things be, he knew the basics of life, who he was, Xellos Ul Copt, and where he was, Dragon's Peak at the Kataart Mountains. He knew that Milgazia was his current clan leader and he knew what he was supposed to do. No wait, he didn't know that. "Was I trying to accomplish anything?"
"There is something you need to do," Milgazia wondered if this would actually work to his favor. It puzzled him that Zelas would leave the opportunity open to him; she was more cunning than that. None the less, Milgazia would take this chance to get more information from Xellos, though he would take it with a grain of salt, so to speak. "A human sorceress called Lina Inverse will be here soon. You must accompany her in a journey and report on the actions of the monster race."
Xellos took in the information. He was being given a mission by his leader. That made sense, though there was also something off about it, this leader was different. Perhaps he was assigned missions by the Flare Lord's clan elder before and was still getting use to the elder that represented Aqua Lord Ragradia's clan. Xellos nodded as he stood up. "Understood, Lord Aqua Elder," that had a particular odd ring to it. Did he address someone so formally and respectfully before? Was it his previous clan elder? He shook his head, all of this, it didn't quite fit.
Milgazia saw a hint of doubt in Xellos' eyes, but it was heavily shrouded in real confusion. "Milgazia will do."
Xellos nodded and dismissed the thought of confusion, "right... Is that what I usually call you? My memories are very fuzzy right now."
"It must be because of the battle, I'm sure you'll recover with some rest," Milgazia played along. "Do you think you're well enough to go on this mission?"
Xellos nodded eagerly. He didn't want to sit around waiting for his head to clear. The thought of going out on a journey with a secret mission was much more appealing to him, and wasn't that Lina girl the human involved in the Darkstar incident? He wasn't clear on the happenings though he knew he was there. Perhaps a journey with her group, if they came along as well, would help him properly remember. "I'm alright, no big deal, I'm certain I can accomplish this mission just fine," he grinned his trademark grin.
"Very well," Milgazia agreed, "take a moment to rest for the time being, I'll go make some tea." Because really, Milgazia could use some tea right about now.
The golden dragon elder headed to the kitchen, leaving Xellos to rest in the living room. One cup was already out; he opened the cabinet Zelas had been rummaging in to retrieve another cup and a blast of purple smoke suddenly exploded from inside it. Milgazia coughed repeatedly and tried to push the smoke out the window with a minor wind spell. After the smoke was gone, he moved his other hand away from his face, as it had instinctually gone to cover his mouth and nose, then notice the purple tint on his hand. This was not good. He washed his face, hoping that the purple would come off. Fortunately it seemed to be washing off, judging by all the purple water that sunk into the sinks' drain. Unfortunately, some purple still clung to the end of his long golden lined white sleeves and he had a feeling that he wouldn't be able to wash it off.
Searching for a reflective surface, Milgazia exited the kitchen and headed for the decorative mirror on the wall on the living room. He noted that Xellos had since left his position on the couch and was entertaining himself by looking at the various portraits that hung on the walls. He seemed particularly curious about the picture of himself with a human female warrior that lived in an era that from a human's perspective could be called a long time ago, but not long enough to be ancient history.
Turning his attention back to the mirror, Milgazia realized that the purple dye was stuck to his hair in streaks of color. Great, now he'd have to bleach his hair. Zelas and all those linked to her were such trouble makers, except Filia who tried her best to set things right. Feeling the sensation of eyes on him, Milgazia turned his face to look at a curious Xellos, "that," Xellos pointed at his hair, "is kind of cool," he admitted.
"This," Milgazia frowned. "Is the result of a prank from a very annoying woman," or monster more accurately.
Xellos chuckled, "you should thank her then, she just did you a favor. Maybe she likes you," he teased jokingly.
Oh yes, Xellos was amnesiac alright, Milgazia concluded. 'You'd be quite angry at yourself if you knew the terrible thing you're suggesting,' he mused, because he knew that from Xellos' perspective, such an impossible possibility would be a terrible offense to Beast Master. "No, I'm sure that's not it, she's just an annoying trickster, that's all."
"You think she'd do that to my hair?" Xellos curiously inquired.
Milgazia could hardly believe this. "You really like this strange style?"
"It's cool," Xellos admitted and Milgazia couldn't even come up with a reply. "Speaking of hair," Xellos continued, glancing at the portrait of the human warrior and the younger Milgazia. "I feel like I've seen that hairstyle before."
The hair was long, going all the way to her waist. The bangs reached just below her nose and they were parted to the side over one eye. "Maybe," Milgazia voiced. He doubted that Xellos had actually met her, though it wasn't impossible. The hairstyle was very much like that of her descendant, Gourry Gabriev and that was most likely where Xellos had seen it. "A few people might have that style."
With Xellos entertained enough with his examination of the portraits, Milgazia returned to his previous task of making tea, this time much more cautious in his own kitchen.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at Wolf Pack Island, Filia slowly opened her eyes. Though she expected drowsiness upon waking up, she had none. Then she dismissed the thought as being nonsensical, monsters didn't get drowsy, then again, monsters didn't need sleep either. She sat up among purple sheets and cushions, wondering where she was. Information came to her from the far reaches of her mind and she knew, rather than remembered, that she was at Wolf Pack Island, in her room to be specific. Her memories were fuzzy and when she tried to recall everything was blurry. Reasoning that the best course of action was to report to her master immediately, Filia teleported away.
She reappeared in front of Zelas' throne room, as it would be rude, she reasoned, to teleport directly inside. Her blue eyes examined the door, before she stepped forward, long purple hair flowing behind her. "Lord Beast Master!" She called.
"Come in," Zelas' voice replied from inside.
Filia phased through the door with no necessity to open it. She walked a few steps in front of Beast Master's throne and kneeled with her head slightly bowed, as if she were being knighted. "Pardon my intrusion, Lord Beast Master, but I must inquire of the latest happenings. Please excuse my incompetence, but my memories seem to be unclear."
"Do you know who you are?" Zelas asked curiously.
"I am Filia Metallium, the general priestess of Lord Beast Master Zelas Metallium," she replied with pride.
"Then you know what is most important for you to know," Zelas concluded. "As for your awakening, you were injured in a battle and have just recovered. That is all you need to know about that."
Filia's eyes widened, though she kept her head bowed. She was injured? Lord Beast Master's general priestess was injured?! How could she have been so careless? "My apologies, Lord Beast Master," she wanted to know more about the details of the battle, but dared not further question the monster lord she served, or at least thought she served.
"I will give you a second chance." Already Zelas was amused, albeit she thought that the amusement might not last. Filia was dedicated and perhaps even highly effective, but she was too dedicated and lacked Xellos' free spirited, yet loyal nature, for now at least. This was the Filia that Xellos told her about from before she opened her eyes to the world, this was the sheltered Filia, except this time she thought she was a monster. How would she relearn life's lessons then? It might be interesting and most importantly, chaotic. Zelas removed the amethyst necklace she had been wearing and caused it to float towards Filia, it was a symbol of the temporary pledge. "Take this with you and should you need additional power, it shall provide it. It will also gather chaotic energy that I need to accumulate, so you must not waste its power."
Filia received the necklace and put it on. "Thank you, Lord Beast Master! I won't let you down!" There was that hint of optimistic innocence, she sounded like a child who had been given a fun new toy. "What shall my next mission be as I gather chaotic energy? Should I use a specific method?" She inquired eagerly.
"You will travel across the land accompanying a sorceress called Lina Inverse," Zelas commanded.
Lina Inverse, the name sounded familiar to Filia. Ah yes, the human involved in the Darkstar battle. "I understand, Lord Beast Master."
"There is another important detail, two details, I should say," Zelas elaborated with emphasis. "You must accept Lina's leadership in the journey. She has an exceptional ability to surround herself with chaos, so following her will be beneficial to your mission. The other detail is that there will be a golden dragon by the name of Xellos Ul Copt traveling with Lina. You must not kill him."
Forbidding her such an action puzzled Filia. Was she not the dragon slayer who eliminated so many dragons during the war of the Monster's Fall? Though it was knowledge rather than a memory and it felt very much as if it had not happened, Filia attributed it to her proper lack of conscience, she was a monster, she wasn't supposed to dwell on such insignificant details. All the more reason why Beast Master's warning puzzled her. Why would that Xellos dragon be any different from the others? She felt bad for daring to question the orders she was given, but Filia couldn't help herself as a curious "Lord Beast Master?" escaped her.
"Do not question me," Zelas spoke commandingly. "You will not murder the golden dragon called Xellos, that is an order."
Filia bowed her head in apology, "yes, Lord Beast Master."
"There is no more time to waste," Zelas ordered. "You must depart at once for Dragon's Peak at the Kataart Mountains. Lina Inverse will meet you at the home of the Aqua Lord's clan elder, Milgazia."
"Right away, Lord Beast Master, I won't let you down!" Filia assured and with those final words spoken, she teleported away.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at the Kataart Mountains, "we're here!" Fang happily announced, wagging his fox tail. He had just teleported Lina to Dragon's Peak near Milgazia's house where she was to meet her traveling companions.
"So it begins again..." Lina mused aloud. Except this time her adventure would be without Gourry. He had been traveling with her for so long; she couldn't imagine what it would be like to be without him. 'Don't think of Gourry,' she told herself firmly. 'Don't think of the past, think of the present and future.' With renewed determination, Lina was ready to face the chaos that was to come. Surely, once she was caught up in Xellos and Filia's antics it would keep her mind off Gourry... hopefully.
"See you later Lina!" Fang disappeared, leaving Lina to face the trials before her.
With a deep breath and a steady stride, the sorceress knocked on the dragon elder's door. Milgazia opened the door and invited her in with questions all over his face. Lina stepped inside and shrugged her shoulders, silently communicating that she wasn't fully informed either. The scene she found inside the house wasn't particularly chaotic just yet, possibly because Xellos and Filia were not yet in the same location. Lina had decided, after a moment of staring curiously, that she would not inquire about the violet tips she doubted Milgazia had willingly dyed into his hair. She wondered if Xellos was to blame, because he seemed entertained dying a purple line into his hair rather clumsily.
Dye dripped into the tea cup that sat on the coffee table which also held the hair supplies, labeled as temporary, Lina observed from the bottle, though she wondered if Milgazia's dye was temporary too. Done with his attempt at making his hair more interesting, Xellos picked up his teacup and drank, immediately feeling an odd unpleasant taste and spitting it out. He stuck out his now purple tongue trying to look at it to examine the extent of the damage, which just gave him a cross-eyed expression. Observing the scene as Xellos ran off to wash, Lina shook her head and crossed her arms, "too harmless to b real," she mused aloud.
"Harmless, you say?" Milgazia pointed at the ceiling, "I can only hope it doesn't rain until I can get that fixed."
The ceiling was full of holes that looked like they had been made with laser breath. "What was that about?"
"He got the hiccups," Milgazia frowned. "I don't know just how many memories were locked away, but it's not just memories, it's life lessons too. He's like at the War of the Monster's Fall, curious, playful and lacking full control of his power. He's still cunning and tricky, but he might believe his loyalties lie with the dragons. Albeit it's only a matter of time before he finds that something is amiss. Memories can be locked away and feelings repressed, but instinct always resurfaces. After all, he still knows bits and pieces of the past, modified to fit a different identity."
Lina groaned, at least she was already becoming engrossed in the chaos that would take her mind off heartbreak. "Which means that it's going to be as I feared, a pre-reality check Filia with a monster mindset."
Milgazia wasn't fully sure about what that meant, but it didn't sound good. Having cleaned out his tongue of the purple dye, Xellos returned to the living room and took note of the new arrival he was too busy to notice before. "Lina?" The name seemed to fit the face, though his memories were fuzzy.
"Hey," Lina greeted casually. "Are you ready to go on a new journey?"
"Of course I am," Xellos grinned.
"I take it Filia isn't here yet?" Lina inquired.
"I am here," Filia's voice replied from a few feet away. She had suddenly teleported into the house without warning, just on time to hear Lina's question. With a dignified stride, Filia approached the group and officially introduced herself, though she vaguely remembered that she already knew these people. "I am Filia Metallium, general priestess of Lord Beast Master."
Milgazia was, Filia vaguely knew, the golden dragon elder who took on the leadership of the water clan after she had slain the previous elder during the War of the Monster's Fall. Lina inverse was the younger sister of the knight of Ceifeed, she was the human sorceress who was involved in the Darkstar battle, as well as several other noteworthy incidents. Xellos Ul Copt was the infuriating golden dragon who tagged along with Lina's group when they faced Darkstar and provided his energy for a fusion magic attack, not that she needed help from a dragon of all creatures anyway.
Lina saw that Xellos and Filia were sizing each other up and quickly intervened. She had a feeling that her job as referee would keep her very busy. "Good, we're all here, let's go!"
Filia completely ignored Lina and instead extended her hand to touch Xellos' purple lock of hair with the tips of her fingers. "You made a clumsy job at this, dragon. There are splotches of purple all around the strand and it's not even in a straight line."
"At least I didn't spill the bottle on my head like you did," Xellos retorted.
"This is my natural hair!" Filia argued.
"You don't have any hair, or skin or anything, because you're a monster. You're not a real person, just a monster, only energy, I guess you can't help what you are," Xellos mocked with a clear hint of superiority.
Infuriated, Filia growled, "well I guess you can't help it but to be a piece of garbage, you filthy raw garbage dragon!"
Lina buried her face in her hands while Milgazia continued to observe the scene unfold. "I can see it now; it's Darkstar all over again, only worse." She very much doubted the lack of a reincarnated monster lord, a vengeful dragon-monster and an explosive obsessed fox would make the situation any easier to deal with.
Remembering what Filia's temper was like, Milgazia joined Lina in musing. "I believe there was a reason why those two were born in the races they were. Having one of them change, I fear may seriously upset the balance of the world, but with both... maybe..."
"They would reach a balance, which means just the right amount of chaos, except the novelty of it all, for them at least, will create more chaos," Lina continued. Once again, she tried to gather their attention. "Okay everyone, I'm ready to start the journey now!"
"And what is wrong with pink?" Filia continued arguing with Xellos, oblivious to Lina's pleas for attention.
"It doesn't match that necklace of yours, lavender would look better on you, as if to hide your hideous true self a little," Xellos replied with a very matter of fact tone of annoyance.
"Dragons have terrible taste!" Filia shouted.
"Monsters know nothing about taste!" Xellos retorted, his ever present golden scale covered dragon tail twitching.
"Enough!" Lina shouted over all the noise. "I would like to start this journey some time this century, if you don't mind!" She threw her hands in the air in exasperation.
Xellos and Filia glared at each other and threw their heads back with undignified "hmp!" sounds. Finally, much to Milgazia's relief, they followed Lina out of his house and towards the mountain path that lead to the foot of the Kataart Mountains.
To be Continued
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