It looked as if the wind was blowing, judging by the multitude of cherry blossom petals flying around Filia's dream. Yet the visual effect didn't come with the actual feeling of wind, in an odd contradiction that could only occur in dreams. Filia took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she stood in an endless field with colorful flowers, vibrant blues skies, a few fluffy white clouds scattered about and a pretty rainbow. Cute little birds were perched on the branches of the trees while bunnies and kittens played tag all around.
Xellos twitched, "you're a horrifying person," he tried hard to sense the meager presence of the dream eater. "It looks like the dream eater is gone."
"Of course it is, I was trained to take control of my dreams. I was just a little out of practice, that's all," Filia explained with a smile on her face. Then her smile melted into puzzlement. "That's odd, why are you still here? The nightmare is over. Really, I don't know what's worse, Xellos taking over the world or Xellos playing the role of my knight in shining armor in my dreams." She shuddered. "I think of that idiot too often, now I can't make his image fade away," she glared.
Xellos was feeling rather exasperated. The invisible mist was still around though the lesser imp had turned tail and ran. Regardless of his attempts to run and hide, Xellos would surely hunt him down... and he would find him. He realized that Filia seemed to think that his presence was only part of the dream and the dream eater alone was responsible for the disturbances. Maybe he could use that in his favor. "You know, Filia, if I'm a fragment of your imagination, then anything that happens here is known only in the privacy of your own mind. Which means that no one can pressure you into doing anything and any actions you take are yours alone."
"Why is this subconscious aspect of me stating the obvious?" Filia wondered, then shuddered again at the thought of any aspect of hers looking like Xellos.
Okay, so he would have to be more hands on about this. If he could get Filia to kiss him now, his torture would be over. Xellos approached her slowly and wrapped his arms around her, his face an inch away from hers.
Filia seemed more confused than unnerved, since she thought this was all her. "Ah, of course, dreams reveal one's hidden fears. I should stop being afraid of Xellos' idiocy," she pushed him away with more nonchalance than she had ever before displayed around him. "Now, how to spend the rest of my dream?" She sat down on the ground to ponder.
"Facing your fears? Satisfying your hidden desires?" Xellos suggested as he sat behind her massaging her shoulders.
"Hmm..." Filia allowed herself to relax for a split second before she caught herself and slapped his hands away. "Even in my own imagination this is wrong." She searched for a hidden motivation she might have to keep Xellos in her dream. Usually she got lost in dreams and let things flow naturally, most of the time not even realizing she was dreaming until she woke up. This was one of those rare lucid dreams and she didn't want to waste it. Why was Xellos there? She came up with a theory and grinned. "I see, after that nightmare it's logical that I would want some payback." She snapped her fingers and Xellos found himself wearing a completely silly pair of pink bunny ears and a big frilly pink collar with a large golden tag hanging from it. The inscription on the golden tag read, 'Filia's slave.'
"Are you under the effects of another of those special berries again?" Xellos tried to annoy Filia, but she barely blushed.
"I suppose it wouldn't feel like payback without a little realism. It's creepy how well my subconscious can reenact Xellos." Filia turned away from him again and patted her shoulders. "I'm feeling kind of tense, right here."
"So this is what you've been doing all along?" Xellos wasn't sure if he was amused, disturbed, or strangely flattered. "Fantasizing about having me as your personal slave?"
Filia ignored Xellos and tried to concentrate. "Okay subconscious, time to sort things out and do some good old philosophical thinking. It's been a while since I've done that in a dream, but it can be quite insightful." She paused and brought up the first confusing subject that plagued her. "What could Xellos' next evil plan be?"
"Maybe he just wants a kiss and if you kiss him he'll just go away?" That wasn't a very smart way to go about his goal, but Xellos was tired. He was starting to think that nothing could be worth spending so much time in Filia's head.
"It's odd," Filia continued her insightful monologue, "Amelia also suggested that I should keep an open mind..."
"About kissing me?" That would be weird, how would Amelia know about any of this anyway? Caught off guard, Xellos stopped massaging Filia's shoulders.
"Don't stop," Filia commanded before continuing her musings. "I think Amelia is way too lax with who she gives her friendship too, or the opportunity of friendship anyway."
So Amelia wasn't in on this, it would make no sense for her to know. However, it did sound a lot like her to be all up for friendship. Xellos continued massaging Filia's shoulders and listening.
"There's something in the back of my mind that I can't quite understand. My judgment about cataloguing Xellos as evil feels like it could be flawed." This was something else that caught Xellos by surprise, which Filia only admitted to herself. "If only I could place my finger on the missing detail, why does it feel flawed to think this way?"
"It's just like with the ancient dragons," Xellos suggested. He could definitely use this to his favor, even more so given that Filia was convinced he was a particle of her own subconscious.
A small gasp escaped Filia as she mused over it. "The golden dragons hunted down the ancient dragons because they were fearful of their power. It was terribly unfair, but that can't be the case with the monsters. The monsters are openly evil!" Before Xellos could come out with a counter argument, Filia did it for him. "Then again, there could be an exception, although rare..." She shook her head, her long blond hair bouncing around her. "I should investigate this matter and see if such an event was ever recorded in history."
The rest of the dream was spent with Filia practicing her pottery skills in a visualization technique that was supposed to help her improve her abilities. By Xellos' calculations it was almost time for someone to wake up naturally, possibly him. He didn't need sleep anyway and it was only a matter of time before his body had enough of it. "It's almost time to get up."
"How perceptive of me," Filia put the finishing touches on her last vase; it was pink with white petals painted on it. "This started out as a nightmare but it turned out to be a good dream after all," she concluded with a smile. She strode over to Xellos and blushed. "I can't believe I'm doing this, but I might as well get it out of my system in the privacy of my own mind. Although, I think I'll need a thousand self analysis dreams to figure this out." She kissed him.
This time it was willing, this time it was supposed to work... in theory. Xellos waited for a moment, he still felt cursed. He responded to the kiss, still cursed. He realized it wasn't working, she was kissing a figment of her imagination as far as she knew, not him. Yet he didn't let go of Filia until he faded away from her dream.
xoxox xox xoxox
The first thing that assaulted Xellos' senses in the real world was a pillow being thrown by Lina. How in the world did she manage to wake up before him? She had ripped off the paper mask and was yelling insults at him over the terrible crime of entering a maiden's room without permission. Of course Filia and Amelia woke up soon after, with Filia automatically tossing her dream to the back of her mind. One idea about it remained prominently in her memories though; she had to research monsters and the possibility of the existence of a... not good, but at least half decent monster at some rare point in history.
After being chased out by Lina, Xellos left, off to do some lesser imp hunting and was absent from the breakfast table when the group met downstairs to eat. Gourry and Lina's appetites were just the same as ever that morning and an air of familiarity was around them mixed with the excitement of novelty. Filia's research would have to wait, since she had some roller coaster involving plans to tend to.
"Did everyone sleep well?" Amelia politely asked at the breakfast table, while Lina and Gourry devoured a mountain of food.
Gourry answered something incomprehensible, then swallowed and repeated, "I slept great!" Without a moment's pause, he resumed his eating.
"Me too, up until the incident, anyway," at least Lina swallowed most of her food before her first attempt at a reply. Not all of it, but enough to be understood.
"Incident?" Zelgadis questioned curiously.
"It was that idiot Xellos!" Filia took the opportunity to criticize him. "He was sleeping in our room. After Lina chased him out, we searched the room for traps, but didn't find any. Either way, I think he's plotting something!" Because if history ever remembered a good, or at least half decent monster, it wouldn't be Xellos.
"When is he not plotting something?" Zelgadis agreed. Filia smiled at having someone's support, unlike Amelia who was all out for friendship and Lina who had the nerve to include Xellos in her gift giving spree the day before.
"Exactly," Filia nodded and slapped away Lina's hand as she tried to steal her muffin. Although Filia had some researched planned, her mood towards Xellos that morning was no where near favorable.
"Where is Mr. Xellos anyway?" Amelia took a look around the hotel's food court and was unable to locate Xellos.
"Probably off somewhere plotting," Filia's face brightened at the possibility of spending the day without him. She was strangely moody that morning.
"Well, we're not waiting for him. As soon as we're done eating we're hitting the roller coaster!" Lina loudly declared in the voice of a leader. Filia smiled, for once she had no complaints about Lina and Gourry's speedy way to consume food, though she still wish they had a normal appetite so they could be done before Xellos showed up if he intended to. Then again, this was all going to be charged to Xellos... Filia smiled some more.
xoxox xox xoxox
The line to ride the roller coaster was huge. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia stood out there in the sun, waiting for the line to move. Though the wait was long and Lina was impatient, they could at least chat with each other while they waited, and there was no Xellos.
Meanwhile, on another part of the resort, Xellos was on the hunt for a certain troublesome lesser imp. By the next night, the mist would have cleared out of the girls room and he wasn't about to try that particular useless strategy again, but he wanted vengeance anyway. Pushing his senses to the limit, he managed to catch what could have been the weak aura of the lesser imp. Holding on to the perception, Xellos followed it to a structure with a large sign advertising it to be a mirror maze. He entered and followed the aura, but going in a straight line wasn't going to work, this was a maze after all.
Xellos turned left and right at seemingly random yet well calculated intervals. Albeit the maze might seem complex to a human, it was nothing compared to the collection of caverns that formed the underground hideout of some monsters. He finally spotted the creature in its true form, grinning cruelly.
The being was small and thin, about two feet tall if it were standing upright, though it was currently crouched in a corner in fear. It saw the unmistakable reflection of that same purple haired man from his disastrous venture the previous night and he knew his life was about to end. The being was a of a mud-like color with the shade of dirt brown changing in patches on its dry skin. Its little angular face had glistering red eyes and long ears sticking out from the sides of its head with ragged skin hanging from them.
Xellos glared at the creature. "Before I kill you, I want to ask if anyone sent you here. I will know if you're lying and make your death even more painful." Not that he was planning to have any mercy anyway.
The being trembled and stretched out his right hand, revealing a symbol on his palm. The symbol was not something that belonged to a specific entity, but rather an all purpose symbol for silence that even a lesser human sorcerer could give such a lowly weak creature. This meant that the lesser imp couldn't communicate anything that was a secret, thus he couldn't share any useful information.
"Interesting..." Perhaps someone let the imp loose in the resort as a joke or it was a gift from the competition. Yet the fact remained that Xellos had thought the dream eaters were extinct. If this was truly the last one it seemed off that the previous owner would use a human silence spell on it. It made little sense; maybe the previous owner was just trying to confuse people, but who would even begin to build suspicions anyway? Xellos pushed away the thoughts, this had to be a mere coincidence, the collector had nothing to do with it... maybe.
"Good bye!" Black light bounced off Xellos' fingertips accompanied by violet lightning. The magic hit the target dead on and destroyed it as it let out a wail of pain and was reduced to ashes. The strange part was that some of the magic bounced off the mirror and towards Xellos who dodged it. Those were very peculiar mirrors indeed... He frowned, how in the world did he fall for such an obvious trap? "Interesting..." He stated once more, there had to be a greater power at work. There was no way Xellos could have missed the aura of the second monster that now had him right where it wanted. A power perhaps greater than Xellos' must have hidden that aura, but there were only so many monsters stronger than Xellos.
xoxox xox xoxox
The rush of wind, the moments when she realized she was upside down, the speed, the laughs, it was like flying, only more fun. When the roller coaster cart reached the end of the track, Filia realized that it wasn't long enough. She still felt the need to soar speedily even if it was in the confines of a cart. With a few laughs still spilling out in a fit, the group exited the roller coaster cart and made their way out, ushered by employees. The line outside was constantly growing and it was obvious they wouldn't get another ride anytime soon.
"After all that waiting they should give us ten rides," Lina observed. She could just use magic to fly around, but it wasn't the same as a roller coaster.
"I know what you mean," Filia agreed. "Strangely, I feel like spreading my wings and flying right now. I guess the ride really was too short and left me wanting more." She soon realized in horror that Lina and Amelia were looking at her with plotting expressions. They suddenly reminded her of Xellos, it was a bad sign. "No..." Filia read the thoughts in their eyes. "No, no, no, absolutely not!"
"Please, Miss Filia!" Amelia begged, her eyes becoming big and shiny as she did.
"C'mon, Filia, do it for us!" Lina joined in with a similar expression.
Gourry looked at Filia with a clueless face. "What are you doing for us again?"
"I'm not giving you a ride on my back like a roller coaster!" Filia snapped. She crossed her arms, stomped her feet and put on a stubborn expression.
"You are?" Gourry's face brightened, "thanks Filia!" He smiled.
"I just said I'm not!" Filia insisted to no avail as Lina and Amelia kept giving her sad kitten looks.
"Looks like you're trapped in a corner," Zelgadis stated with indifference. "If you ask me, the easiest way to get out of this is to humor them..."
"Oh, quit pretending, Zel," Lina patted him on the back as if giving him a little push towards honesty. "You want a ride as much as the rest of us!"
"Absolutely not!" Filia remained firm.
Lina sighed and feigned resignation, "if you say so. I guess that's it for roller coaster rides for today. What else could we do? Maybe Xellos will have an idea, we should go find him."
Filia's eyes widened. "We don't need Xellos to tell us what to do. There are lots of fun things to do here; I can come up with a lot of ideas myself!"
"I have an idea!" Before Gourry could state his idea, Lina elbowed him in the ribs. "Ow... I think I forgot."
Quickly catching on to Lina's plan, Amelia fueled it. "Miss Lina is right, I'm sure Mr. Xellos will come up with all sorts of entertaining ideas for us to spend the day together." Amelia felt mean for using Xellos to pressure Filia, but she really wanted a ride, the roller coaster had left her wanting more and she couldn't resist. "Right, Mr. Zelgadis?" Amelia winked as a hint that Zelgadis should follow the plan.
As easily as Zelgadis blushed, his face turned red and he babbled an agreement. He knew Amelia was only trying to reference Lina's obvious plan, but that didn't make her any less cute. Although Zelgadis didn't enjoy Xellos' presence, he was caught off guard and had already agreed to it.
Filia considered the option of simply going off on her own, but she felt that she shouldn't take off in a huff. Besides, if they did find Xellos and send him to her, he would be all too happy to annoy her all day. It was best if Xellos got lost and remained lost. "Alright, alright, I'll play the part of a roller coaster!" Filia raised her hands in an exasperated surrender. "Just let me find a private place to transform."
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 008: Sneaky! Conspiracies and Traps
In the mirror maze, Xellos sat on the floor with apparent patience, talking to seemingly no one, but knowing full well he was being heard. "I do wonder what in the world could have motivated you to try to kill me. It's a bold move indeed." He had the distinct feeling that he was lacking information. "Have any peculiar events happened concerning the monster race that I am as of yet unaware of?" There was no reply. "I suppose I'll know soon enough. Oh yes, I do apologize if I am disappointing you, but I do plan on leaving alive."
A monster cannot be killed unless it is by a force of greater power. But even when the opponent didn't have that power, if it was backed by it, that would present the possibility of victory. Yet still, Xellos couldn't think of a likely reason as to why that particular monster would want him dead. Well he could think of several, actually, but why take such a risk? Furthermore, why conclude that the odds were favorable enough? There was definitely something going on in the high ranks of the monsters and whenever Xellos escaped this death trap, he was determined to find out what it was... somehow. It didn't make it easy that he wasn't supposed to go any where near monster headquarters until after his dare was done, a rule that he could bend only in case of an extreme emergency and this wasn't that bad yet.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Faster Filia!" Lina cheered as Filia soared through the sky in her dragon form with Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis on her back.
"Wee!" Amelia got carried away and raised her hands into the air, forgetting the fact that dragons didn't come with built-in seat belts. "Spin Miss Filia!"
As Filia made loops in the air, too fast to give those holding on time to fall off, it was Zelgadis who saved Amelia from falling since she wasn't properly holding on. "Be careful, Amelia!"
"Oh... sorry about that, I got carried away," Amelia blushed, becoming more aware of Zelgadis' arms around her waist. "Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis."
"This is even more fun than a roller coaster!" Gourry loudly proclaimed as Filia gained altitude.
"Now for the big dive, hold on everyone!" Even if at first she was opposed to the idea of serving as a sort of living roller coaster, once she got into it, Filia was having fun. She flew up high then dived towards the ground at amazing speed to the sound of her friends' delight. She pulled up at the last second, inches away from touching the ground and glided as she slowed to a stop, landing gently. Filia stretched out her tail and positioned her body, leaning back so the group could slide off her back into a pile of amused laughter.
"That was fun!" Gourry cheered, "but all this flying is making me hungry." It was about time he made a comment like that.
Lina looked up at the sky where the sun shone brilliantly directly overhead. "It's mid day and the smell of food is getting to me too."
The people lounging around the picnic area above which they had been flying made no motion to panic at the sight of a dragon, so Filia was all too happy to ignore them. That was until several approached and tried to climb on her back. "What are you doing? I'm not part of the resort's attractions!" The people around her didn't seem to be taking her seriously and insisted on trying to climb on her back. "I said no!" For the sake of protecting her personal space, Filia took off once more, disappearing into the skies above. That didn't completely discourage the stubborn couples on the ground, who thought riding on a dragon was oh so romantic. Many followed her on foot waiving at her to come down, without even the smallest chance to actually catch up to her.
"There goes Filia," Lina shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand as she looked in the direction Filia had taken off in. "What do you say we find a place to eat?"
"I think that's a good idea, Miss Lina, I'm sure we all feel like having some lunch by now. I hope Miss Filia is alright on her own." Amelia politely commented with only a hint of pink on her cheeks. She seemed to be pretending she didn't notice Zelgadis' arm around her waist while very much enjoying the close contact. Zelgadis was doing the exact same thing.
Lina grinned upon noticing how close Amelia and Zelgadis were. "Why don't we meet by the fountain after lunch?" There was no real reason for them to further split up after they had decided to spend the day as a group, but Lina wanted to give Amelia some alone time with Zelgadis. Lina didn't think that it also meant that she would be alone with Gourry; because the two traveled together by themselves so often that it was the most natural thing.
"Oh?" Amelia paused, wondering why Lina would suggest splitting up. Zelgadis' arm around her waist became an even more prominent thought in her mind. He stopped her from falling off Filia and kind of forgot to let go. "Okay," she smiled, blushing full force. "We'll see you later, Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry."
Lina grinned mischievously, "have a good time you two!" She was looking right at Zelgadis as if hinting at something.
Zelgadis couldn't help it but to blush, chimera skin or not, he had no control over it. "The same goes to you." He managed to reply somewhat steadily, then wasted no more time before leaving with Amelia.
xoxox xox xoxox
After losing her stubborn pursuers, Filia landed between two buildings and after making sure no one was watching her, she swiftly transformed. She walked out of the alley and into the long main street of the resort. Taking a breath of relief she examined her surroundings. It was midday and knowing Lina and Gourry, they were probably hungry. It stood to reason, regardless of the normalcy of their appetite, that Amelia and Zelgadis would be hungry too, so was Filia.
She was about to search for her friends to join them in having lunch, but stopped as she sensed something. The aura of a monster that had been previously hidden by a power grater than even Xellos' was no longer being concealed. She stared at the mirror maze before her. The energy of darkness was clearly coming from there, though it felt as if the source was the entire building, yet the aura was a singular one so it couldn't be a horde of monsters. Feeling as if it was somehow her duty to investigate, Filia braced herself for the worse and rushed in to save any unfortunate human victims that might have stumbled into a monster trap.
As she made her way through the mirror maze, she realized it was deserted and found it odd. She thought she saw some people going inside as she walked down the street a few seconds ago. The aura of the unknown monster was all around, but there was also a familiar aura which Filia picked up as she approached it. She turned a reflective corner and at the conclusion of a dead-end hallway she saw a certain someone sitting cross-legged on the floor as if waiting for something, or someone.
"Hello, Filia," he sounded mocking, which came as no surprise.
"Xellos!" Filia spat out the name like venom, to her, 'Xellos' was becoming the single most insulting sound anyone could speak. "I'm on to your plans, you and your monster friend," the word friend was coated in heavy sarcasm, "are trying to harm the people in this resort!"
Xellos chuckled despite the unfavorable situation he was in. "Really Filia, I didn't expect any more from you, a failed conclusion, a failed attempt to stop a non-existent plot, getting caught in a trap. I can't really say I'm disappointed because I didn't expect you to know any better, who would?"
Filia let out a sound that could only be described as a menacing growl worthy of the fearsome fame that dragons had in certain parts of the world. "I'm not going to make it easy." She was ready to fight back tooth and nail, or rather fang and claw.
"I'm not the one you should be worried about," Xellos grinned with the mocking look of one who is all too aware of a secret that affects others, but they don't know it. "As it stands, you're already in the belly of the beast." He was too, but he wasn't about to point it out.
"What are you plotting?" Filia's golden scaly tail appeared from beneath her dress, the usual pink bow replaced with a light blue one that better matched her vacation attire.
"I thought you claimed to know exactly what I was plotting," Xellos grinned.
"Speak, monster!" Filia did her best to sound as confident as possible, never mind that Xellos could easily kill her. If he wanted to, he would just do it, so what was the point of pretending to want peace?
"Shut up!" A booming voice that came from everywhere and nowhere echoed through the mirror maze. "I've had enough of your loud mouth, dragon." The atmosphere around Filia began to distort as the mirrors melted into a sort of transparent goop that tried to grab her and pull her in. Filia screamed and struggled to fight back, gathering energy in her mouth.
"That's a bad idea," Xellos pointed out nonchalant. He had not moved an inch the entire time.
Filia let out a powerful laser breath that bounced off the reflective surface and nearly took off her head on the rebound. Fortunately, she managed to dodge it despite her very limited movement. The laser bounced off a mirror behind her with less potency as last time. The odd angle carried it towards Xellos, who had no choice but to finally move. The laser bounced again repeatedly, losing power each time until it harmlessly faded away in the air. Filia was not inclined to try that again and there wasn't much else she could do. She didn't have her mace with her, neither did Xellos carry his staff, not that it mattered much anyway. The transparent goop absorbed her into the wall unpleasantly. For a few eternal seconds, Filia thought she was suffocating before being tossed out through the ceiling of the hallway, landing in Xellos' arms.
"Ugh," that same booming voice from before complained while making gagging noises. "I can't take it, golden dragons taste terrible!"
"Excuses, you are simply incapable of digesting a power greater than your own. When that power is a golden dragon that's the first sign that you're a weakling!" Xellos teased, golden dragons were powerful creatures, but not in comparison to him. "If not for the help of a certain someone, you wouldn't have been able to hide your aura from me either."
Any further comments on Xellos' part were interrupted by Filia's hand colliding harshly with his face. "Put me down!" She demanded, already bracing herself to be dropped, thus easily landing on her feet when Xellos let her go.
"Hmp!" The booming voice that came from nowhere and everywhere sounded smug. "Regardless of what you say, you're both my prisoners. I might not be able to digest you, but I'm completely invulnerable on the inside. You'll just have to sit there and die of starvation. The dragon will no doubt go first, then you Xellos, there's no energy for you to absorb here."
"What in the world is going on?" Filia yelled beyond the end of her patience. "Xellos, what is this? It almost sounds as if this monster is your enemy too."
"Give the girl a price for getting her single lonely brain cell to work," was Xellos' sarcastic reply.
"Stop dancing around the issue you piece of raw garbage!" Filia demanded.
Xellos chuckled, "I suppose that if I don't tell you directly, explaining things step by step with small words, then you'll never understand."
"Will you two shut up?" The booming voice yelled, making their ears ring. While Filia cringed at the noise, Xellos managed to maintain an indifferent expression.
"No," Xellos smiled. "As I was saying, Filia, this here is a monster and by this I mean the mirror maze. It's one of those monsters that normally is quite weak and can be slain by any semi-decent human sorcerer. This isn't how this type of monster looks normally. The appearance it usually has can be compared to a giant worm. This type of monster often pretends to be a cave so it can eat unsuspecting travelers. There is another monster involved in this. It is made of transparent goop. It has no offensive power what so ever. It can try to suffocate its victims, but even a normal human can literally brush it off and escape, although destroying the creature is extremely difficult. Those two monsters were fused together like chimeras and a new one was created. As a result, the worm gained the defense of the goop on the inside. The new product was then caused to shape shift via magic and transformed into the mirror maze."
Filia had heard about both types of monsters, but she had never heard about them being fused. Monster alchemy was a very scary thought. "Then we've already been eaten? But if the defense is all on the inside, then wouldn't that mean that this thing can be defeated from the outside?"
"Remind me to stick a gold star on your forehead later," Xellos was evidently still in the mood to provide sarcastic replies, he usually was. "There's only one problem, who would think to attack an innocent looking mirror maze? The monster's aura is hidden; I know you couldn't have been able to feel it on your way in. Or were you stupid enough to come in anyway?"
"Shut up!" Filia growled, "you're in this too. Or do you have an explanation as to why you got eaten too? Are you stupid or just masochistic?"
"I am neither, sorry to disappoint you on that second one, but you'll have to take your mace wielding inappropriate fantasies elsewhere." Even if he was in a lot of trouble, Xellos still had the motivation to throw out his annoying witty replies.
"Ew!" The echoing voice of the chimera mirror maze monster loudly exclaimed. It made Filia jump, couldn't that thing give a bit of a warning when it was about to speak? "I really don't want to hear about the strange things you two do. It's disgusting, what are you? Humans?"
Xellos gave the walls a dirty look, "I will kill you for that offense."
"Go ahead and try," the mirror maze monster taunted. "Watching you struggling helplessly," because the being was indeed able to see all that happened inside it. "Is still better than watching you two make out. A monster and a dragon? Unthinkable! It makes me want to puke!"
There was a long awkward silence between Xellos and Filia. Neither of them looked at each other as they processed what the echoing voice had just said. Then Xellos ever so slowly turned his head towards Filia with a mischievous grin. Filia felt Xellos purple eyes burning into the side of her face, not literally thankfully, and quickly looked at him with an expression of horror. "No," she firmly declared, stomping her foot for emphasis.
"It might be the only way out of here," Xellos pointed out, pretending that he didn't at all feel kind of odd about the so called escape plan.
"No, no! Absolutely not! I would rather stay here until I die!" Filia dramatized, though she soon took it back. "Actually, who says I'm going to die? Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis are out there. We had a great time together, without you," she gave Xellos a pointed look. "They'll wonder where I went and come looking for me. It's only a matter of time before they find me, then Lina will Dragon Slave this gluttonous monster to oblivion!"
"I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not likely that they'll find us. Even if they do, they'll probably get themselves caught before they even know what's going on." Xellos explained with superficial calm.
"What about you?" Filia glared, all too happy to point out what she pointed out next. "Are you helpless against this thing? Why haven't you killed the monster who dared to eat you and compare you to a human? You looked rather offended, are you just going to take that?"
"I'll get my revenge," Xellos assured with sinister certainty. "I'll get my revenge on this monster and on the monster lord trying to kill me."
Filia's face paled. "The monster lord trying to kill you?" She stuttered.
"Yes," Xellos confirmed. "Due to reasons that are not your concern, I've been a little out of communication with the monster race. It seems another of the monster lords decided it was a fine opportunity to lower Beast Master's ranks by getting rid of me." It was only a theory, a suspicion, but a guess was all that Xellos could currently come up with. "It is that monster who granted this one additional power and used the circumstances to its favor. Weak monsters with special abilities, normally they're nothing, but with some power-ups and some strategizing, additionally in this case a combination, they can be... vexing." Xellos returned his face to his usual carefree expression. "Oh, but don't worry, I won't let a little thing like an assassination attempt ruin my vacation."
Filia's brain was on overdrive analyzing each new fact she had learned. If the monster race was on the move, that could spell trouble for the whole world. Then again, from what she could gather, this sounded like an internal conflict, which at least meant that the different factions of the monster race could ultimately weaken each other. Although they were monsters, so they would probably drag innocent people into their quarrels and ultimately cause a considerable number of catastrophes. Xellos sounded oddly truthful about his revelations. If even he didn't fully understand what was going on despite usually being a step ahead of everything, then whatever was going on was a closely guarded conspiracy.
Filia went over the possible culprits in her mind. She could just ask Xellos what he suspected, but she had a feeling that he wouldn't tell her anyway. It couldn't be Shabranigdu himself, if he was back and wanted to take out Xellos, then he would have already done it. That meant that it couldn't be someone in the same level as Shabranigdu either. That left the monsters below Ruby Eyes, of which Garv and Fibrizo could be eliminated. If Xellos worked for Zelas Metallium, whose forces would be affected by the loss of Xellos to her ranks, that left the main suspects as "Dynast Grausherra or Deep Sea Dolphin?"
"Unlikely," Xellos replied thoughtfully, "but not impossible." Deep Sea had not been particularly hostile towards Zelas in the past, one might even say it was the opposite, but who could say for certain, really? Dynast had been overall rather quiet in the recent years, but Xellos had a feeling that the monsters, Zelas included, would have noticed if he was plotting something. It was all too strange, almost as strange as Zelas' insistence in Xellos keeping his mouth shut during the entire truth or dare thing. He had a lot of information, but when it came down to it, even if it was known and used to strategize against Zelas, she could just as easily mount a counter attack. Yet his risky silence made it look as if he knew something particularly vital that Zelas wanted to keep under wraps. The feeling of unknowing confusion was new and irritating to Xellos.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 009: Stressful! Desperate Times
A terribly uncomfortable silence had invaded the atmosphere inside the mirror maze monster, whose composition made teleporting impossible. Well, it was uncomfortable for its latest meal anyway, but pretty comfortable for the gluttonous monster. Xellos and Filia sat on the floor wordlessly, waiting for something to happen. They were both thinking about the same thing and stubbornly refusing to discuss it. Who was trying to kill Xellos? What did that mean in the grander scheme of things? It didn't make sense that someone would just randomly try to kill him, even if no doubt about it, many would be happy to. There had to be a plan behind it, a big plan.
Loud snoring suddenly began to echo through the reflective hallways. Filia wore an expression of discomfort, which lasted until Xellos pinched her cheek between his index finger and thumb. She yelped and slapped his hand away. "Don't touch me!"
A loud yawn echoed. "Oh, great, just when I thought I could get some sleep." The mirror maze monster complained.
"Not with me around you won't," Xellos cheerfully declared, with far more joy than the situation even remotely deserved.
Filia glared and returned the action, pinching and pulling both sides of Xellos' face. "If you want to torture this thing don't include me in it!" She let him go angrily. "I can torture the monster my own way. Needless to say, the mirror creature didn't like the sound of that.
Xellos rubbed his face. "What exactly are you going to do? Use your laser breath and have it bounce off the walls and decapitate you?"
"No," Filia grinned in a surprisingly sinister way, then her expression morphed into something completely different, she looked happy and angelic. "Life is wonderful!" She bellowed at the top of her lungs.
"No!" Xellos backed away and covered his ears.
"I'm so very happy because I live a wonderful life," Filia continued making her best impression of Amelia. "The world is a beautiful and peaceful place and I have lovely friends that I care for very much. Life is truly wonderful!"
"Shut up!" Both the mirror maze monster and Xellos snapped at the same time. With Xellos emphasizing the order by clasping his hand over Filia's mouth, his other arm around her waist as he held her still from behind. Then she bit him. He pulled his hand away but Filia's partially transformed dragon fangs wouldn't let go. Feeling particularly vengeful and given that his posture made the area easy to reach, Xellos bit Filia's neck. The gasp that escaped her effectively freed Xellos from her grip.
"Stop that!" Filia stumbled forward away from Xellos. Her hand flew to her neck in anger. She made use of the mirrors all around to examine her reflection. It wasn't so bad, there was no blood involved. Compared to her savage bite, this was nothing, though the area was looking kind of red. "This... this... this..." She couldn't find the words to express her indignation.
"I believe it's called a hickey," Xellos provided with all the nonchalance he could muster. Disgusted grumbles invaded the atmosphere and the structure of the mirror maze shook, but it wasn't an earthquake. Xellos began to walk away, followed by an angry Filia who threw out a variety of insults at him. He stopped in front of the door that would have led outside if not for the fact that it was tightly shut. The door was also covered in mirrors, though it was vaguely identifiable. "If we stand near the mouth, it'll be easier to escape when the monster coughs us out."
Horrified, Filia asked, "are you still trying to disgust it into spitting us out? What about tickling its throat?"
"It's a building; it doesn't really have a throat. Any physical action will be in vain," Xellos explained with a hint of annoyance in his voice. "Whatever we do must affect it mentally, if it thinks it has to spit us out, it will. Unless you want to stay here?"
A certain part of Filia's dream the previous night resurfaced in her mind. She sometimes had prophetic dreams, but she didn't think that particular detail was one of them. All she could clearly remember at first was the resolution to research the existence of a good monster, which after spending some time with Xellos, was starting to look more impossible by the second. But there was more to that dream, she vaguely remembered kissing Xellos, was it a warning from her subconscious about her terrible fate?
"What's going on through that head of yours?" Xellos wondered as he observed Filia's horror stricken expression. As a sincere afterthought he added, "then again, I don't think I want to know."
"If... if... if..." Filia paused, took a deep breath and pushed the words out. "If it has to be done, I guess I could, for the sake of survival and survival only," she emphasized. "You know..." Xellos prompted her to continue with a silent raise of the eyebrow. "Kiss you," she finished.
If it was for the sake of survival and survival only, then it wouldn't do Xellos any good in terms of his curse. However, it might at least solve the problem of him being trapped and allow him to get his revenge on the mirror maze monster. "Alright," Xellos agreed with less smugness and a longer pause than what Filia expected.
They approached each other. Filia's arms rested at her sides. Hugging wasn't necessarily a vital bonus torture in the process of making a sentient building spit them out. Still, it might make the sentient building more disgusted and thus cut the kiss short. She reluctantly wrapped her arms around Xellos, allowing him to do the same. Then they stayed that way for several seconds, their faces mere inches away from each other. Impatient, Xellos decided to get this done and moved forward.
"Wait! Wait!" The echoing booming voice of the mirror maze monster interrupted the scene. "Dragon girl, are you really willing to kiss a monster? Because it looked as if you don't like him very much. Are you going to let him do this to you? I thought golden dragon girls were supposed to be pure maidens or something. I didn't think one would be so easy."
Filia immediately pushed Xellos away and glared defiantly at the walls. "I'm not easy!"
"No you're not," Xellos agreed completely, "you're difficult, you're very, very difficult."
"Shut up!" Filia growled at Xellos. She sighed in resignation. "This thing is right though." She hated to admit that a monster was right; she might never forgive herself for that one. "I shouldn't be kissing random monsters just for the sake of survival."
"Really?" Xellos put on a purposely incredulous expression. "Here I thought most living creatures would do almost anything for the sake of survival. I guess you must not really care a whole lot about dying."
"What's it to you?" Filia retorted. "You're a monster. Monsters are all for chaos and death and whatnot. So why don't they just kill themselves and get it over with!"
"You're so mean to me, dear Filia," Xellos pretended to be hurt.
Filia huffed, if there was someone completely incapable of making her feel guilty, it was Xellos. "You deserve worse."
"Excuse me, but I am rather inclined towards the probability of the preference of survival." Xellos regained his cool and collected expression, but only superficially. A little bit beneath the surface his annoyance grew.
"Good for you," Filia crossed her arms and looked away. This conversation was over as far as she was concerned and she refused to speak to Xellos any more. She was angry at him, which was nothing new, but she was also angry at herself.
"Filia, you're not making this very easy." It could only be so long before even Xellos would get tired of playing around, especially when a likely solution to his most immediate dilemma, because it certainly wasn't his only one, slipped through his fingers when he was so close to it. That was it, the solution and nothing more, a sacrifice for the sake of survival, and a big sacrifice it was.
"Well I have to draw the line somewhere!" Filia retorted. Wait a minute, wasn't she determined to ignore Xellos? She couldn't help it but to reply, his tone was slightly different and it caught her off guard, though she wasn't sure why she was paying such close attention to his tone anyway.
"And you're drawing it because some stupid monster told you to?" Xellos retorted. "Of course, you have no morals of your own, I witnessed that first hand."
Filia's face turned scarlet and her eyes shone with tears of frustration. He was never going to let her forget about the berry incident. She could argue that he had no morals either, but he was a monster and while morals were indeed very important to dragons, monsters weren't supposed to have them. "I... I hate you!" It wasn't the smartest comeback in the world, but it summed up Filia's feelings pretty well.
Xellos opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by the echo of the mirror monster's complaint. "You two argue like an old married couple. Shut up, you're giving me a headache!"
Instead of pointing out that the monster was in the shape of a building and therefore didn't actually have a head, Xellos decided to try another tactic. If that thing was going to keep him captive he was going to make it very unpleasant. "Filia," he gave her a purposeful glance.
Filia realized another change in Xellos' tone. He wasn't being mocking this time as much as he was being decisive. It was the kind of tone that spoke paragraphs in just one word, the kind of tone that said, or rather demanded: 'pay attention to me because I have a plan.' "What?" Though her voice was still charged with a noticeable amount of upset fury, she was more focused, waiting to hear the plan that Xellos might have come up with.
"I think it would do us some good to exercise our vocal cords." Xellos suggested with a sly smile.
Filia blinked, what did that have to do with anything? Then a look of realization invaded her face. The mirror maze monster was complaining about the noise. Maybe if they were noisy enough they would be released. "Sure, why not."
They nodded to each other and covered their ears tightly. They took a vast amount of air into their lungs and finally let it all out in massive sound waves that could be heard outside the enclosed space. The mirror maze monster replied in turn by screaming, "shut up!" The loud voice echoing all over.
Filia cleared her strained throat and eased her breathing. "I think we might just lose this competition," she painfully admitted. "It was worth a try though," why was she even bothering giving some credit to Xellos? He gave enough credit to himself.
"Shh, do you hear that?" Xellos listened beyond the closed door. It was very faint, but people outside were talking. "They can hear us."
Filia's face instantly brightened as she came up with a plan. She took in another deep breath and screamed out without warning, "Lina! We've been eaten by a monster, get us out of here!" On second thought, Lina might Dragon slave the entire monster with them still in it. Thus Filia called out to the less rash members of the group, "Amelia, Zelgadis, Gourry! Help!" Filia coughed, her throat felt dry. She looked at Xellos who seemed to be fighting with all his might to maintain his expression of false cheer. "You could help me."
"No," Xellos couldn't manage to put any false cheer or even a hint of mockery to his reply. His voice came out serious and flat.
"Why not?" Filia demanded.
"I'm not calling out for help," Xellos stated what he thought should have been obvious. Then he added for emphasis, "because I'm not helpless."
"If you're not helpless than why haven't you defeated this monster? I know for a fact you don't believe in mercy." Filia found a small victory in throwing the circumstances in Xellos' face, even if it would have been so much more fun if she wasn't in the same predicament. Xellos glared and Filia felt a cold chill run down her spine, but she ignored it. Okay, so maybe given who Xellos was, her behavior could be catalogued as suicidal, but despite being aware of the fact that he could and, being a monster, probably would kill her, it somehow managed not to faze Filia. Even so, without a verbal prompt from Xellos, she had nothing else to say.
A moment of silence passed while Filia allowed her tired throat to recover before she attempted to call for help again. In the mean time, Xellos kept listening to the faint sounds coming from outside from lack of anything better to do.
"I'm so hungry!" A familiar voice complained. "I can't believe all the restaurants are full. I know it's the midday rush, but this is ridiculous. They won't let us go back to the buffet, which I still say is an unfair discrimination, and none of the restaurants have room! I'm going to starve if this keeps up!"
"I know, I'm hungry too!" Another familiar voice agreed. The first was female and the second male.
Seeing the look of attentive concentration that appeared on Xellos' face as he tilted his head ever so slightly towards the door, Filia strained her ears to listen. Those voices... she knew them! "Lina! Gourry! The mirror maze is really a monster, I'm trapped here, help!"
"Did you just hear Filia?" Lina's voice wondered.
"I don't know..." Gourry blankly replied; he had not been paying attention anyway.
"I'm here! I'm trapped, help!" Filia insisted, screaming as loudly as she could. "The mirror maze is a monster, the building itself is a monster!"
"Filia?" Lina replied with a hint of doubt. "What do you mean the mirror maze is a monster? It looks like a normal building to me." She tried to open the doors but they wouldn't move. "It's locked."
"Shut up!" A very loud echoing voice was heard, even outside. If the fact that the building had a very eerie booming voice didn't hint that it was a monster, or at least somehow haunted, the fact that inanimate objects, such as buildings, shouldn't be talking in the first place would give it away.
"Stand back!" Lina commanded in a warning voice that could only mean one thing. The very likely possibility was confirmed when she began to chant a familiar spell. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, hidden in the stream of time is where your power grows!"
Filia gasped and backed away from the door. Where could she take cover inside the target anyway? "Wait, Lina, you're being too rash!"
Lina's chanting continued, "I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy ooh..." Lina's stomach growled loudly as her spell deflated and disappeared since the caster lacked the needed energy to fuel it. "I'm so hungry!"
Filia breathed in relief when the chanting stopped. The bad part was that she was still trapped, but being trapped was better than being blown up. "Maybe you should try something other than the Dragon Slave!" Filia suggested, especially because she was a dragon and she certainly didn't want to be slain.
Exasperated and not in the mood to be rescued, Xellos decided to take matters into his own hands. Without a warning, he grabbed Filia by the shoulders, spun her around to face him and before she could protest, he planted a kiss on her lips. "Ew!" A loud disgusted sound was heard as the transparent goop of the walls abruptly propelled them outside through the suddenly open door.
Xellos and Filia landed in a heap on the road on top of Lina and Gourry. The four disentangled themselves from each other and got to their feet as gracefully and quickly as possible, which wasn't much. While Lina questioned their exit, Filia's face went from one shade of red to another. "You!" She pointed at Xellos accusingly with unparallel fury.
Xellos, who was very much still cursed all thanks to Filia's unwillingness to cooperate, asked challengingly, "what about me? How could I just watch? Well I wasn't going to help you, but that thing got tired of your foul taste and spat you out anyway."
Filia then realized that no one, aside from Xellos, herself and the mirror maze monster of course, had noticed the kiss and she was certainly not going to point it out. She growled fuming and reiterated, "I hate you!"
"The feeling is mutual," Xellos smiled, his amused expression returning full force. He looked at the mirror maze and glared. He raised his hands and gathered dark energy. Several people stopped to watch the show. Then finally Xellos released the mixture of dark energy and purple lightning at the building. The entire place lit up and a scream of agony was heard, then the monster's aura was gone.
Filia blinked, the building looked just the same as ever, "it's dead," she realized. It was no longer a sentient building, but it was still a building, so she wasn't sure if the term corpse could be used in this situation.
"I don't know what kind of craziness is going on," Lina was not in a good mood, "and I don't care!" She yelled. "If I don't get a decent meal right now I'll go crazy! You know what they say about dragon? They say dragon is delicious!" She eyed a horrified Filia hungrily.
"I beg to differ," Xellos teased.
"I'm sure we can find a nice restaurant!" Filia insisted. "Look, isn't that a restaurant just down the street? Let's go there!" the place looked full, but Filia would make room for Lina if she had to. Seriously, she had enough near death experiences to deal with already and being eaten wasn't a very dignified way to die.
"Food! Food! Food!" Lina chanted as she dashed towards the restaurant down the street hungrily.
"Food! Food! Food!" Gourry joined in and ran after Lina.
"I better make sure they get a good meal," Filia took off after them as well.
Xellos paused; he had a lot of thinking to do and a discreet investigation to conduct. This wasn't only about his curse anymore. As if things were not already complicated enough as they were, they just became more complex. Who could be after him and why? He would have to be extra careful from now on. Then a thought occurred to him. Whoever was behind all this should be aware of the curse upon him, most high level monsters were. He found it odd that Filia, his possible cure, had not been directly attacked yet. Xellos would just have to keep an eye on her, least he rid himself of his assassin only to be taken down by the curse. Protecting Filia... it was a task he was certain that he wasn't looking forward to performing, but it was all for the sake of survival.
To be Continued