After all the explanations about spells were out of the way and Lina expressed her understanding, Celo nodded his approval at her conclusions. He smiled in a similar way to that of a nerd after spotting a collector's edition of a famous book of his favorite subject on sale at his most frequented shop. "The difference between the spells is that young Phythan's spell focuses on the positive side of chance, while Miss Martina's spell attempts to control both the positive and the negative, to attack and defend, all at once, thus making it a more difficult spell. If the two titans of mastering chance collided, then surely the boy would have been driven to the edge. Yet he retreated as if he did not wish to be freed from his prison, that which was stolen."
"Which is what?" Lina growled impatiently. "What was it that was stolen?" Other than a history lesson in spells, all that they knew so far was that something was apparently stolen from the monster race. Phythan seemingly had that something, which Celo attempted to draw out by pushing Phythan to use more of his dragon energy. Yet Phythan seemed to be unaware of what he possessed.
"There was a monster who served Lord Beast Master," Celo revealed. "It was an average monster in the lower end of the middle class. That monster went on a suicidal mission to steal the Genie's Lamp, rumored by humans to be able to grant wishes, but in reality possessing no such power. There are many versions of these events which contradict each other. One version says that the dragons allowed the monster to run away with the lamp, blaming its incompetent guard for the loss, since he fell asleep on the job. The dragon guarding the lamp pursued the monster and was in turn pursued by the dragons. The dragons then slew them both and took back the lamp."
Phythan tried to recall what really happened, his memories were still a confusing mess in need of interpretation, but somehow that sounded kind of familiar. "I suppose something like that might have happened. I don't quite remember, but there was a battle and a monster."
"What came next was the key element," Celo continued. "The dragon boy and the monster were left for dead; however, a small breath of life was still in them. According to my information gathering, it was the mysterious Green Alchemist, or someone working for him, who took the dragon and the monster and fused them together. The dragon was the strongest out of the two, thus he prevailed over the monster and mostly retained his form. He also resisted the fusion, making it incomplete. As a result, rather than a chimera capable of using fusion magic, which was the goal of the experiment, they ended up with a dragon boy possessed by a monster. This was not a complete failure, as in some occasions the subject was able to produce fusion magic when the dragon boy was weak and the monster became his equal. Yet the dragon would eventually repress the monster, though he was unable to expel it and the balance required for fusion magic would be lost."
Phythan stared at Celo in shock, "is that what really happened? Is that what I am?"
"The monster was a servant of Lord Beast Master, thus her property," Celo stated. "The Green Alchemist has no right to use her property, thus I was given the mission to recover it. Of course, the monster would be killed for its betrayal unwilling or not. It seems the monster has more awareness than I thought and hid deeper within you when I tried to push you to throw him out by overwhelming him with a concentration of magic from within, via the use of your good luck spell."
"If the monster has already been sentenced to death, wouldn't it be easier to just kill Phythan along with him?" Xellos cheerfully inquired.
"No!" Filia loudly exclaimed. "I won't let you!"
"Me either!" Amelia joined in.
"Neither will I. Even if the golden dragons condemn me to death themselves, I refuse to give up!" Phythan added.
"Calm down," Celo requested in his tranquil respectful voice. "Killing this young man is not in my plans, I'm afraid she will be quite upset if I do."
"She?" Xellos questioned curiously. The she in question couldn't possibly refer to "Zelas?"
"Master Zelas has left it up to me to decide how I go about this mission," Celo explained. "She doesn't mind if the boy lives, thus I have decided to keep him alive, for her sake."
"Who is she?" Xellos inquired insistently, with a warning tone that let Celo know he shouldn't go on any more circles.
"She is-" The wooden clock tower suddenly shook with the origin of the vibrations coming from above. "She is here." A few more minutes passed as the heavy steps turned so light that they were hardly perceptible in the creaking wood. "Dear, we have guests!"
The nearly inaudible steps became faster and clearer as they drew closer, until an old woman Filia knew she had seen somewhere before, joined them in the tea room. "Not just any guests, I see. Although I never thought I would see sweet Filia and general Xellos sitting around the same table."
Filia's memory fell into place as she recognized the woman. "You're the one who bought that vase from my shop. It's the vase I saw in the north dome!"
"Ah yes, it's a lovely vase," the woman smiled. "Well, since you are not in disguise," she glanced at Celo, "I take it that means I don't need one either?"
"That will not be necessary," Celo confirmed.
"Good," the old woman transformed into a younger shape with long blond hair and pointed ears. She looked like she was in her middle twenties, albeit she was actually a little over six hundred.
Filia recognized her instantly, "Tiffany!" The reason why Celo looked so familiar in his true form also surfaced in her mind. "You're that human... No, you didn't make a pact with a monster that time, you were a monster all along and those others were your underlings. You only disguised yourself as a human. The that means that Tiffany's human lover was... a monster?!" Filia felt her eye twitch in shock.
"Okay, you lost me," Lina frowned; she had been understanding things so far up until this point. Filia apparently knew the old woman who turned out to be a young woman. Then again, judging by her ears she was probably a dragon, and the shaking of the tower from before was most likely her landing on top in dragon form before changing into a human form. "I have a feeling that I'm missing a large chunk of information here."
"Tifa, you're alive!" Phythan ran to his cousin who hugged him and ruffled his hair as if he was a little boy.
"My little Phythan, look how much you've grown, my little cousin. I'm glad to see you well and you've made friends with sweet Filia." Tiffany held his face, examining his eyes. "That monster is still in you, I see. My dear Celo does seem to take his time in getting things done, it appears. Don't worry, I'm back from my little vacation, so I can take care of you now, I'll get that nasty monster infection out."
Xellos looked back and forth between Tiffany and Celo, the wheels in his head spinning wildly. "You two are together?"
"Indeed," Celo replied with respectful cheer, as if it was not an unusual situation at all.
"And Lord Beast Master knows?" Xellos continued.
"Of course," Celo nodded firmly. "Getting close to a dragon was part of my research mission, yet things turned out differently in the end. Nonetheless, thanks to this resort, I am able to observe humans and come up with methods to train monsters into being more resistant to positive feelings. Although Lord Beast Master usually only sends those who have failed her and they tend to refer to the training as torture, but that's not the point. I keep my research flowing smoothly and Master Zelas allows me to live here with my beloved." Xellos twitched at the word beloved and was suddenly very thankful that he was a full breed monster and not some weird monster human chimera freak like Celo.
At the same time, Filia was struggling to recover her ability to speak. She finally managed to find her voice as tears rolled down her face. "Tiffany, I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have turned you in, that was terrible of me. I was supposed to be your best friend, but I betrayed you."
"It's alright, sweetie," Tiffany forgave her all too easily. "I don't bare a grudge against you. She pulled both Filia and Phythan into a bone crushing group hug. "The ways of our people were outdated and close minded, for that we all had to suffer, but don't worry, it's all in the past. You have no idea how happy I was when I saw that you had left the temple and were running your own business. You broke free of the erroneous ways of the golden dragons and I knew then, that after what you had accomplished, after gathering the strength to leave your own kind in search of a better life, I could not stay angry at you. I'm sorry I did not reveal myself at the time, I thought it might be troublesome for both of us if I did."
"It's such a touching story!" Amelia watched on with a dreamy expression.
"You mean you know what's going on?" Zelgadis inquired in surprised. Even if she appeared to be justice obsessed and quick to get carried away, Amelia could be very perceptive at times.
"It's Romeo and Juliet all over again!" Amelia declared with an enamored sigh. "A monster human chimera in love with a dragon. Her family wouldn't accept him and love was not common in his. Yet against all odds they realized their love and lived happily ever after!"
Zelgadis blinked, he didn't get why Amelia was so into their story. "Romeo and Juliet died," he pointed out, "those two are still alive."
"It's a better version of Romeo and Juliet!" Amelia cheered contently.
"Right," Lina spoke in impatience. "So, to clarify, Tiffany was Filia's friend when she lived with the dragons, but she ran off with Celo, which was forbidden. Now Filia and Tiffany have been reunited and rekindled their friendship. Additionally, Phythan is Tiffany's cousin." Lina placed her hand on her head. "Talk about twisted family ties. You're a real freak, old man. Furthermore, the part about taking back what was stolen isn't even about recovering an item; it sounds more like performing an exorcism."
"Indeed," Celo nodded calmly. "However, even if the union between Phythan and the monster turned out to be similar to possession, the methods use were more so those of creating a chimera. Therefore, an exorcism by traditional means will not work, especially since the monster is so deeply hidden. I can tell by the color of his eyes."
"I was wondering about that," Lina prompted for further information.
"Phythan's natural color is violet, while the monster in him had bright red eyes in a fully powered state and dark redish-brown in a low power state. When they are balanced, his eyes are a wine color, when the monster is in control his eyes are red, when the monster is dormant his eyes are brown. All of this influences his personality as well," Celo explained. "The fact that one of Phythan's eyes returned to his natural color, while the other is brown, means that the monster is hiding deep within."
"What?" Filia explained suddenly, all eyes immediately landing on her. So the charming Phythan was the version of him that was influenced by a monster, the sly tricky version? Monsters were not supposed to be even remotely charming! Although that explained why she was kind of reminded of Xellos, there was a monster involved. Realizing that everyone was staring at her, Filia cleared her throat in embarrassment and tried to act natural. "What a terrible thing, we must cure Phythan of the horrible monster in him!"
"Yes, we must!" Amelia joined in affirming the declaration.
"Then I could probably get cured by the same method." Zelgadis had a hint of hope in his eyes that he had not so strongly felt for a long time.
"I cannot assure that," Celo warned. "Phythan and the monster have not fully united, the dragon keeps resisting constantly. If you have already fully integrated your chimera parts to your being, the situation might be different for you. Even so, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to recreate the conditions used for Phythan and use them on you as well."
"It's worth a try," Zelgadis settled.
"So is this why you wanted to hire me?" Lina asked in disappointment. "Exorcism isn't really my strong point," she admitted, but was quick to add, "even so, if the pay is good I'll still give it a try!"
"I'll help," Amelia immediately offered, "and you don't need to reward me because I'm doing this to help Mr. Phythan."
Lina frowned; there went her chances of cashing in some coins. "I guess you don't need me for anything then," she pouted.
"There is another job I have in mind that will better fit your skills, Miss Lina." Celo's respectful tone had a clear hint of secrecy that made it extra suspicious. "However, I will not require your services right away, nor do I guarantee that I will, but it seems very likely. If I do offer you the job, the pay will be considerable."
"Then quit doubting and hire me!" Lina exclaimed.
"Not yet," Celo shook his head meaningfully. "The task would make no sense at this point."
Not wanting to further jeopardize her future earnings, Lina decided to leave it at that. "Fine, just let me know when you're ready to share the details." She noticed that Xellos was giving both her and Celo a suspicious look, with an eyebrow raised and one eye open, but ignored it.
"It's late and I'm sure you're all tired," Tiffany finally concluded. "Why don't you all get some rest, there are plenty of rooms here at the clock tower. It's a bit rickety, but cozy once you get used to it. We can talk about our plans tomorrow." She smiled, "and before we go to bed we should... make smores!"
Filia laughed, "you still love making smores."
Tiffany nodded cheerfully, "some things never change. I can't sleep without having some good smores."
"Count me in!" Lina couldn't be happier with the suggestion.
"Me too, I like smores!" Gourry woke up from his staring blankly at the walls hibernation at the mention of delicious food.
"We should all go," Amelia happily declared and the group went off to make classic campfire smores in the forest near the tower.
xoxox xox xoxox
The next day, the group was glad to find some boxes that had been left in front of the doors to their respective rooms. The boxes contained clothes identical to their classic traveling outfits, except they were clearly new and of very high quality. Glad to be out of the costumes and wearing something that felt familiar, Lina and her friends went off to the tea room to have some breakfast. They were all there, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan, Celo and Tiffany. A feast was already waiting for the guests, which they happily enjoyed, especially Lina and Gourry.
"This is great!" Lina exclaimed between bites. The pancakes, the toast, the eggs, the bacon, the cinnamon rolls, the mixture of juices, it was all perfect. "My compliments to the chef!"
An obnoxious laughter filled the air as Martina entered the room. "Then you admit that I am the best? For it was I who cooked this delicious meal for Master Celo's guests. Although at first I didn't realize his guests included you. This is indeed far too good for you."
"Martina!" Lina felt her stomach turn. "You cooked all this? Suddenly it's less tasty." The unthinkable had happened, Lina stopped eating. Nevertheless, the order of the world was restored soon enough when Gourry made a move on the last cinnamon roll. "That's mine!" Then their battle of gluttony continued as if it had never paused.
"Such a lack of table manners," Martina huffed.
"Miss Martina, I'm glad to see you're feeling better." Phythan smiled, he still had one brown eye and one violet.
Martina did a double take; that young man didn't have eyes like that before. But she soon shrugged it off, it was probably a trick of the light or something. "I feel as good as new today. Lady Tiffany, Master Celo's kind hearted wife stopped by to see me yesterday night and used her healing magic."
"I'm glad everything worked out," Amelia good naturedly smiled.
Zangulus soon entered the room with a letter in his hand. "I see you're all enjoying my Martina's delicious cooking. Lina, you have a letter for when you're done."
"Really?" Lina inquired between big bites of food. "Who's it from?"
Zangulus read from the envelope, "it's from... Luna Inverse... Inverse, huh? So it's a relative of yours?"
Lina had stopped eating and grown terribly pale. Gourry took the opportunity to steal her last piece of pancake and she couldn't even react to stop him. "Lu... Lu... Lu... Luna?!" An ear splitting wail followed. "Hide me! Hide me!"
"Calm down, Miss Lina, it's just a letter!" Amelia tried to console her.
"She might be there; she might be hiding in the envelope!" Lina screamed nonsensically.
"How can a person fit inside such a small envelope?" Zelgadis tried to reason with her to no avail.
"Give me the letter," Martina took the letter from her husband and opened it.
"Hey, what are you doing reading other people's mail!" Lina snapped.
Martina held out the letter to Lina, "I thought you didn't want it."
Lina looked terrified and hid behind Gourry, "get that thing away from me!"
"Oh, stop it! It can't possibly be that bad!" Filia took the letter from Martina and read it aloud. "Dear Lina, I heard that you got married without even telling me or our family about it. I am very upset to have missed the happy occasion of my sister's wedding. You better have a good explanation for this. Love, Luna." Filia finished reading. "It's a short letter and to the point," she commented.
Lina let out another ear splitting wail. "Pen and paper, give me pen and paper!" Celo, who was getting a headache from all of this, hurried to fetch the requested materials by teleporting away and back, he brought an envelope too. Lina snatched away the materials and began to write desperately. "Dear Luna, It was all a misunderstanding, I did not get married, so there's nothing to be angry about. Love, Lina."
"Aren't you going to tell her you're engaged?" Gourry gave Lina his best sad look, which was more convincing than a kicked puppy and a kitten in the rain put together.
"I... ah... um..." Lina felt her face heat up as her blood rushed to it. "Sure..." She added to the letter, "PS: I'm engaged to Gourry Gabriev, but don't worry, I won't get married without inviting you and our family." Lina sealed the letter inside the envelope, which fortunately already had a stamp, and hastily scribbled in the address of her home town on it. "I need this letter to be sent right away, my life depends on it!" Lina dramatized.
"Oh, don't worry sweetie, we have the fastest courier pigeons in the land," Tiffany assured. That Luna person must be a truly fearsome being.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 029: Evesdropping! Jumping To Conclusions
"I can't take it anymore!" Lina screamed at the top of her lungs as she threw a book clear across the spacious room. The book collided with the opposite wall and fell on the floor, open in a random page that was just as boring to Lina as all the others. "When Celo said that we would discuss the exorcism plans after breakfast, I thought he actually had a plan. Now it turns out that his so called plan was to do research until we come up with something!"
Lina's traveling companions were all scattered across the room. Xellos was standing around idly, leaning against a wall, refusing to partake in the research. He would only act as a neutral observer and he made that point clear. He was keeping his word so far, at least until something of interest might happen.
Zelgadis ignored Lina's outburst for the most part with a simple, "I'm disappointed too, but I'm not complaining." He was used to extensive research so his eyes were not watery from reading and his rear end was not in pain from sitting for a long time. Both symptoms assaulted Lina strongly.
Lina looked to Gourry for support, but he seemed happy enough looking at a picture book about jellyfish, which had absolutely nothing to do with the research, but just happened to be laying around Celo's immense library. Other than the guest room and Celo and Tiffany's living quarters, the wooden clock tower was composed entirely of rooms filled to the brim with books.
"Have hope Miss Lina!" Amelia cheered with her usual optimism which was not welcomed by Lina, who only growled in response.
Celo had ran off, saying that he had some business to tend to related to the management of the resort; financial matters and the like. Martina had reintegrated herself into her role of Red Queen of the casino and Zangulus was filling in whatever position needed help at the time. Tiffany had stayed at the tower to tend to the guests, but she was not very helpful in terms of doing research because she spent all her time chattering to Filia who was made in turn not very helpful herself. Phythan seemed to be focused on a book, but it turned out to be a comic book, which wouldn't be useful in helping the situation, even if he was at the center of it.
"I've had it!" Lina shouted. "Let's just go with Celo's original plan of pushing the monster out from the inside. Amelia, perform an exorcism on Phythan, Filia, Tiffany, give him your dragon energy, Phythan, push the side of you that's a dragon to the limit and make that monster come out!"
"Yes, miss Lina!" Phythan stood to attention, then sat back down, "as soon as I finish reading this chapter. The protagonist just recovered his memory when he held the-" the comic was snatched away. "Give it back, Miss Lina! I must know what will happen to the cheese cake obsessed detective!"
"Cheese cake will be the last of your worries if you don't cooperate!" Lina yelled.
"Wait," Tiffany stepped forward in protest. "Celo's plan involved redirecting the strain of forcing the monster out of Phythan into the stream of chance. If chance is not involved in the process, the strain will go to the host. We cannot force the monster out by this method without severely endangering Phythan's life. He will almost certainly die."
Lina raised her hands and screamed. "This is impossible!"
Phythan gave her a sad look that reminded her of an upset Filia. "Then I'm hopeless? I'll forever have to live with a monster inside me? What a terrible fate!" He dramatically exited the room, his steps making the wood creak as he rushed up to the top of the tower with a unique dramatic flare.
"Mr. Phythan!" Amelia cried out, reaching out a hand to him and almost falling to her knees as if the whole thing was a cheesy soap opera. Instead she resolved that it would be more effective to simply run after him, thus she did.
"Amelia," Zelgadis set aside the book he was holding and debated if he should go after Amelia. He would never admit that the way she identified with Phythan made him jealous.
xoxox xox xoxox
While Zelgadis hesitated and the rest of the group tried to stop the angry Lina from burning down the whole clock tower in her hissy fit, Phythan stood at the top of the clock tower. Amelia made it up and joined him in looking out the window to the vastness of trees all around. "You shouldn't give up Mr. Phythan, I'm sure that things will work out." She tried to cheer him up.
Phythan just looked sad. "It's really difficult, Miss Amelia. Before, I was not myself; it was like waking up from a long sleep. Even now I'm still confused, but I know one thing, hardship is to come, perhaps for the rest of my life."
"Don't think that way, you have to stay positive!" Amelia insisted. "Just look at Mr. Zelgadis, he's a chimera too, different from you, but he has not given up on finding a cure, even if he has been searching for a long time."
"He is very different," Phythan emphasized, "I'm not in control of who I am. The monster is hiding now, but he may resurface and make me do something terrible. Mr. Zelgadis' change is only superficial. I would rather have a different appearance than to have to battle for my identity. Mr. Zelgadis can live happily without endangering those around him if he so wishes it. I can never be sure of when I will be forced to betray those who are important to me, forced to commit terrible injustice that cannot find redemption."
Amelia's infinite compassion fell upon Phythan. "Don't worry; we'll stay by your side. Filia, Tiffany and I will make sure that your innocent hands are never stained by injustice!"
"I do not know what I might have already done before having met you," Phythan sadly declared.
"You've done nothing wrong! You're only a victim in this too!" Amelia assured. A long moment of silence passed between them as she found herself musing over Phythan's words about Zelgadis, "I wish he knew that..."
"What do you mean?" Phythan asked, catching Amelia's soft whisper.
"It's nothing," the princess sighed. "I was just talking to myself. It's true that Mr. Zelgadis could live a normal life as he is. Even if people might give him odd looks at first, they would get used to him and I'm sure they would admire him once they get to know him. At least I know that the people of Seyruun would." All thanks to the rumors about how their princess was in love with the chimera. No one wanted to cause misfortune to their dear princess, or themselves, by mistreating he who could one day become their new king. "He really wants a cure and I know he's focused on it. I just think he would be happier if he accepted himself, I think he's cool the way he is."
"You really love him, don't you?" Phythan whispered the question as if that would make it any less embarrassing, which it didn't.
By that point, Zelgadis had gotten over his indecision and gone after Amelia. He peeked into the room where Amelia and Phythan stood near the window and observed them quietly. He didn't hear what Phythan said, but Amelia's face was bright red. He watched as Amelia took a deep breath and voiced a conclusion that was out of context from Zelgadis' perspective. "I guess I really am in love..." Hurt invaded the chimera's expression as he hurried away before Amelia and Phythan could see him.
xoxox xox xoxox
The morning passed and when the sun was in the center of the sky, Tiffany and Filia took on the roles of chef while Martina took a break. The dishes they prepared were typical for dragons, but strange and unknown for humans. None the less, Lina was not one to refuse food without a good reason and gave the cuisine a try to find that she liked it. The meal transpired in a similar fashion to breakfast with Lina and Gourry eating the most.
Celo joined in and ate along with Xellos, both of them consuming the meal to enjoy the taste more so than out of necessity, since they were monsters, or mostly monsters, and had different eating patterns than humans and dragons. Tiffany, Filia, and Phythan were able to enjoy cooking that reminded them of the pleasant side of their past. All the while Amelia wondered where Zelgadis had gone off to, as he never showed up for lunch.
As the afternoon arrived, the group returned to their labors at the library, with Lina grumbling about it until she found a rather interesting magic book about chance. Despite her impatience, she had actually found Celo's lecture to be interesting since she was a big magic enthusiast and all. Thus Lina was entertained with the magic book, Gourry had picture books to look at, Phythan was reading manga, Xellos was standing around idly, Filia and Tiffany were talking and Amelia was left as the only one actually doing some research for both Phythan and Zelgadis.
It looked as if the afternoon would go by uneventfully, except for the mystery of Zelgadis being missing, although everyone silently agreed that he probably needed a break and would soon return on his own. He was fine when they last saw him after all. The atmosphere of uneventfulness was shattered by a loud explosion near by. The group rushed to the nearest window, only to find that the forest was on fire.
Alarmed, yet somehow glad for the break in the monotony, the entire group hurried out of the clock tower and towards the source of fire. To their great surprise, they found Zelgadis being absorbed into a tree. "Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia rushed to the rescue, attacking the malevolent tree with a Ra Tilt, which was enough to free Zelgadis. "Are you alright, Mr. Zelgadis?" She hurried to his side looking for injuries. Other than a few tears in his clothes, he was fine.
"I'm fine," Zelgadis looked away from Amelia with bitter sadness and distanced himself from her immediately. He than addressed the group as a whole. "Whatever is here, it can control trees!" It was a tragic event to have been leaning against a tree contemplating his brokenhearted sorrows, only to have the tree attack him, as if he didn't have enough upsetting things going on already.
"Mr. Zelgadis..." Amelia noticed that Zelgadis was more distant then usual, but didn't understand why. Either way, she knew that this was not the time to ask about it as they were in the middle of a battle. It was a terrible fight indeed, trees were supposed to make good perches for heroic speeches; they were not supposed to be the villains.
"Over there!" Lina spotted a man in a black cloak, hiding among the thick vegetation of the forest. She immediately sent a Fireball his way, even though Filia and tiffany had been trying to put out the fire.
"Lina, sweetie, please use a Freeze Arrow next time!" tiffany requested with gentle but firm insistence as she trapped the charred form of the man in a block of ice, leaving only his head free of the ice.
"Fine, I'll remember next time," Lina approached the suspicious man and removed the cloak that covered his head. From his messy brown hair to his dark green eyes, there was nothing about him that stood out. He wasn't particularly young, nor particularly old, not particularly handsome and not particularly ugly. He was simply an average man with average looks and proportions, who was encountered in a situation that was certainly not average. "Do you know who I am?" Lina asked in a threatening tone.
The trapped man shivered, not only from the cold of the block of ice encompassing his recently burned form, but also out of fear. "Lina Inverse, the bandit killer, dragon spooker!" He stuttered.
"Enough with that dragon spooker stuff! There are three dragons here with me and I haven't spooked any of them!" Lina retorted angrily. "Anyway," she continued in a calmer confident tone. "I see that you're the one who was making the trees go crazy. It's good that you know my reputation, since I assume that means you'll be more willing to cooperate. Start talking! Who are you? What were you trying to do?"
"I am a servant of the Green Alchemist!" There was too much pride in his voice for someone who was trapped and defenseless. "The dragon boy has been claimed as the property of my master. It was our great leader who made him what he is now!"
With an angry glare, Phythan walked up to the trapped man and smacked him on the head. A rather large bump formed almost instantly from the force of the hit. "Sorry about the interruption, Miss Lina, I just had to do that."
"No problem, it's understandable," Lina nodded at Phythan, then turned her attention back to the man who worked for the Green Alchemist. She was about to inquire about his goal, but Amelia cut in.
"Why did you attack Mr. Zelgadis?" Amelia demanded to know with a certain protective aggression that she wouldn't show for just anyone.
The mysterious man hesitated to answer, but a menacing growl from Lina was all the motivation he needed to speak. "Our great leader, the Green Alchemist, thought it would be good to collect such a fine specimen of chimera, rumored to have been made by Rezo. The all powerful Green Alchemist is very fond of chimeras." Zelgadis looked like he wanted to rip the guy's head off and the lackey didn't know if he should be more afraid of Lina or Zelgadis at that point.
"The Green Alchemist..." Lina repeated; it sounded like it was pretty certain that would be their next big enemy to take down in their endless adventure. She was ready to continue the interrogation, when tree roots suddenly shot out from the ground, grabbing the frozen man and pulling him underground.
Everything happened very suddenly, before anyone had time to react. A wail of agony was heard as the man disappeared underground and the tree roots pushed the soil to cover the area. Then everything was dead silent and the tension in the atmosphere was gone. Amelia gulped and looked at the disturbed soil under which their prisoner was dragged. "Is he... dead?"
"So it would seem," Xellos smiled cheerfully as everyone already expected him to do. "It sounds like this mysterious Green Alchemist isn't too keen on the idea of his lackeys revealing too much about him. Strangely enough, it feels as if he has fled. The sensation of magic in the air is gone."
"How suspicious indeed," Celo agreed. "If the Green alchemist can control the trees, this would be a grant time to ambush us, since we are in the middle of the forest. Although, he must not be happy that we have taken Phythan away, I think he'll probably return."
"We'll be ready for him!" Tiffany cheered, "won't we?" She asked in a less than encouraging voice soon after, which made everyone almost fall down in disbelief of the sudden change in tone.
"This Green Alchemist is he really a monster, a human or a human allied to a monster?" Lina inquired.
Celo shook his head, "my information is limited, I thought for a time that he was a human, but I cannot be sure. It at least appears that he has some followers, who knows how many."
"Well, whatever he is, he'll come back," Lina concluded. "Let's go back to the clock tower for now and continue our research. We should be high enough not to be taken by surprise if any other tree roots try to attack. At the same time we are in the middle of a forest, so that might give the Green Alchemist a sense of advantage that will probably help motivate him to come face us."
"I see, then the plan is to draw out the Green alchemist with bate," Filia surmised. "We'll have to be on our guard."
"I can't agree to that," Zelgadis spoke up. He seemed somewhat tragic, more so than usual.
"Do you have a better plan, Zel?" Lina asked curiously, wondering if Zelgadis had noticed something before their arrival which could serve as a valuable clue.
"I'll go off on my own, I don't want to travel with this group anymore," Zelgadis' words shocked everyone, especially Amelia.
"Why, Mr. Zelgadis?" The hurt was clear in Amelia's face, but he refused to look at her.
"It's best this way!" Zelgadis snapped in frustration and began to walk away. "Phythan has the potential to be able to use fusion magic, even if it is on occasion. The Green Alchemist will probably be more interested in recovering him. I'm just a side project, so your plan for bait will work out just the same without me."
"But Mr. Zelgadis, you'll be all alone out there. You'll be in danger!" Amelia argued.
"I know what I'm doing!" Zelgadis yelled angrily, then hurried away.
"Mr. Zelgadis... I don't understand..." Amelia sadly watched him leave as everyone else looked on in shock.
"This is a bad time to throw a hissy fit, but in the end, Zelgadis is free to do what he wants. We can't keep him here against his will, even if it is for his own good," Lina admitted.
"So we should just let him go?" Gourry asked, finally finding a point in the conversation that was simple enough for him to comment on, though he was as confused as everyone else, if not more, about Zelgadis' odd behavior.
"Go back to the clock tower," Amelia advised with determination. Her downcast eyes were raised as she spoke the next part in a distinctive 'don't even try to stop me' tone. "I'm going after Mr. Zelgadis."
"You shouldn't go on your own," Filia stated with concern. "We can divide into two groups, or better yet, we can stay together and all go after Zelgadis."
"No, you have a plan to fulfill," Amelia disagreed. "If the Green Alchemist comes here, I trust that everyone will be strong enough to defeat him. Mr. Zelgadis was right; the Green Alchemist only attacked him as an opportunity, but recovering Mr. Phythan is probably his priority. Now that Mr. Zelgadis is on his guard, I don't think the Green Alchemist will go after him again so soon. The plain to bait him to come out looking for Mr. Phythan will work. I'll at least make sure that Mr. Zelgadis stays away from the vegetation, he probably already figured out that precaution anyway. If he wants to be alone we need to respect his space, but I won't let him be hurt either. I'll follow Mr. Zelgadis and watch him from afar. Don't worry, we'll be fine. Please allow me to do this on my own."
Lina had never seen such a determined look on Amelia. "Fine," the leader accepted the conditions. "If you get into any trouble, shoot a Flare Arrow straight up into the sky and we'll go back you up."
"I'll remember that," Amelia nodded, "thanks for understanding." She swiftly left, following in Zelgadis' general direction.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 030: Revelations! In Love And War
Zelgadis paused his determined stride through the resort and looked at a nearby plastic plant. Since it was fake, he didn't think it represented any danger, but that wasn't the point. The point was that he noticed a familiar person hiding behind it. "You can come out now Amelia; I know you've been following me."
Seeing that she had been found, Amelia came out of hiding and approached Zelgadis. "I just wanted to help."
Zelgadis tensed up as if he would snap at her. He looked at Amelia, his eyes accusing, then his look softened to sadness. "It's really not your fault. I wonder if things would have worked out differently if I had found..." He paused his train of thought. This wasn't about his cure and he knew it. Amelia didn't care about his appearance; she had made that much clear. For a time he thought he could accept himself as he was as long as she was by his side, then that nosy dragon had to enter the scene. Then again, if he was able to steal away Amelia, then what Zelgadis thought he had with her wasn't as strong as he wished. "It's not your fault, I don't blame you."
Amelia was confused by Zelgadis' words. This might take a while to clarify. She took a seat on a bench not too far from the fountain with the cupid statue. It was the same bench where Filia and Xellos spoke before. She indicated silently for Zelgadis to sit beside her and he surprisingly did without further protest, knowing that he couldn't escape this talk no matter how much he wish he had left the Green Alchemist take him so he wouldn't have to face this.
Taking a deep breath, Amelia finally spoke. "Mr. Zelgadis, I know you've always been reserved with how you feel and I try to respect that. I don't want to sound like I'm prying, but the truth is that I don't understand. Why did you leave? Why are you upset? I thought it was because you remembered bad memories, that you were saddened by the past and by what Rezo did. But that came up after you left and skipped out on having lunch with us. What is it that's bothering you really? I don't think it's actually about the Green Alchemist. This is something else, I just don't understand what."
How could Amelia not understand? Zelgadis felt like an idiot for ever thinking she had feelings for him. She was just humoring him, only pitying him. She must have assumed he knew not to get his hopes up. Yet that didn't sound like Amelia at all. Zelgadis couldn't help it but to believe in her, even after what he heard. He didn't understand how he had gotten so attached to her. "I want you to be happy," he finally voiced. "I..." He was tempted to look away from Amelia's gentle face, but he couldn't. She would follow him to the ends of the Earth if he didn't get the truth out. "I heard you talking to Phythan," the last part was all that he had really caught, a reply that was heard out of context.
Amelia felt her face burning red, "you heard what I said?" Her heart painfully sank and she looked as if she would cry. "You heard me and that's what made you leave?"
She seemed to be fighting with her tears that threatened to come out. Zelgadis assumed it was out of guilt. "Don't be sad, it's best if I leave. You'll still have everyone by your side and Phythan is well suited to be a defender of justice, even if he has his own problems, he's at least enthusiastic. We can... be friends," he reluctantly added almost losing his voice to sorrow.
"Mr. Zelgadis..." Amelia was all out crying now. It broke Zelgadis heart and he didn't know what to do.
He resolved to run away. Amelia would be fine returning to the clock tower on her own. Phythan would console her once she arrived. She would be okay and Zelgadis' continued presence there would only make things more painful for her and himself. "Goodbye, Amelia..." Zelgadis stood up and began to walk away.
Amelia sat on the bench crying for a few more seconds, before she stood with a burst of courage. "Wait, Mr. Zelgadis! Even if I have already heard your answer, even if this makes it more painful for both of us, please forgive me, but I have to say it to your face." She closed her eyes for a few seconds, breathed deeply, dried her tears, then looked at Zelgadis. "Zelgadis Graywords... I love you."
Zelgadis was completely frozen in place unable to move. He couldn't detect any sounds in their surroundings except for the echo of Amelia's voice in his head and the loud beating of his own heart. "Wha... what did you say?"
"You heard me," Amelia felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders, even if it was bittersweet and sorrowful. "If you don't feel the same way about me, I understand and I still want to be friends forever. I just had to tell you how I feel properly, even if you overheard when I was telling Phythan."
"Wait a minute!" Zelgadis felt his face practically glow in a brilliant shade of crimson as he struggled to push the words out. "Weren't you confessing your feelings about Phythan? Or corresponding to his feelings for you?"
Amelia blinked in confusion, "No... I was trying to cheer him up. I was telling Mr. Phythan how he should follow your example and never give up. Then he noticed my feelings for you and mentioned it. I couldn't tell him he was wrong, everyone in our group already knows too. I think even Mr. Gourry is aware of it." A long silence followed as Zelgadis struggled to internalize the concept of Amelia having confessed she was in love with him. She broke the silence by asking shyly, "so this means that it was all a misunderstanding? You're not leaving because you're rejecting me?" Yet he hadn't exactly accepted her feelings either. She closed the distance between them, standing only a few inches away in front of Zelgadis. "Please tell me how you feel. Even if you don't feel the same way about me, please be honest. It's okay if you don't love me, we could still be friends. I just want you to be honest and-" Her words were cut off when Zelgadis, unable to regain the capacity of speech, instead demonstrated his answer by kissing Amelia.
xoxox xox xoxox
Back at the clock tower, the research process had continued. Filia approached Xellos in his little corner with a highly critical look in her eyes. "You could try to make yourself helpful," she ordered.
"You're not exactly being helpful yourself." Xellos criticized in return. "This whole time you've been chattering pointlessly with your dragon friend and not doing any real research. It must be in a dragon's nature to be lazy and ineffective, even Phythan is slacking off and this is his problem more so than ours."
"Leave him alone," Filia defended. "Phythan has a lot to deal with and he needs to find a way to cope. It's only natural that he needs to have a little distraction to release his tensions. Furthermore, I haven't been chatting uselessly. I was discussing some interesting things with Tiffany and getting better educated in the topic of monsters." To satisfy her curiosity about the existence of good monsters and to better understand Xellos, not that she would ever admit it.
Xellos gave Filia a quizzical look. "So you're interested in monsters?" The implications were obvious.
Filia ignored the message between the lines as best she could. It turned out that good monsters were an extreme rarity and the part about them being good was a perspective by comparison. There were plenty of such tales out there, but they were mostly fiction. When it came to reality, there was usually some ulterior motive or a benefit involved. "It's to help free Phythan of the monster in him, it's useful research." Filia threw out her perfect excuse, yet she somehow knew that Xellos could see right through it, even if it was in many ways still true.
"Right, it's not like you have any personal interest in any monsters," Xellos grinned, adding a special almost seductive intonation to the words 'special interest.'
"Right," Filia affirmed. "Anyway, since you're not being as obnoxious as usual, I thought I could get you to help. What a silly thought it was!" Honestly, Filia didn't know what she was thinking. It wasn't that she was starting to miss bickering with Xellos in his long silence, not at all. It's just that... he could be plotting or something. Yes, plotting, so she had to keep him busy to make sure he didn't run off to fulfill his terrible plot, whatever it may be.
"That's it!" Lina suddenly exclaimed as she read through a specific paragraph in a big ancient looking book once more.
"Did you find a possible cure?" Phythan asked hopefully.
"Possibly," Phythan, Tiffany, Celo, Filia and Xellos all placed their undivided attention on Lina. Gourry did the same thing, but he probably wouldn't understand anything anyway. "This is similar to the plan Celo attempted to use before and it could only work because of Phythan's peculiar chimera conditions, where the monster isn't fully integrated into him. We might not have the stream of chance to absorb the strain of the separation, but we can redirect it at a different target using the spell in this book. Of course, the process would take time and the target might notice what we're doing and try to stop it. That's where this other spell comes in." Lina picked up another magic book that she had been reading over before. "Those two spells are the main ones, but at the magnitude that they'll be used it might be a little dangerous, which is why the spells must be encompassed by this." She held up an ancient scroll.
The group looked at the spells Lina pointed out one by one, trying to figure out how they could use them for their needed purposes.
"Let me elaborate," Lina began her detailed explanation. "This here is a spell used to redirect energy called Pursuit. It's a sniper spell in other words. It's conventional use is to give other spells an enhanced homing effect so that far away targets can be efficiently eliminated. The spell locks on to an energy source, for example a Fireball, and guides it to the target. In this case we'll use it to lock on the monster in Phythan and guide it to one of the Green Alchemist's trees. Just as it tried to absorb Zelgadis, it'll absorb the monster. Under normal circumstances, the friction of energy would create a fusion, thus making us end up with a monster tree chimera, except in this case, the strain will be so great that it will surely kill both the monster and the tree, thus eliminating the problem. Phythan will be free and the Green Alchemist will be weakened. Then we can finish the job of defeating him."
"Then for the plan to work we must do this while we are facing the Green Alchemist and we need to push him into using the same technique he tried on Zelgadis," Filia reasoned.
"In theory it can work," Celo's face remained serious, "but it would take too long to extract the monster."
"That's what I thought," Lina pointed out the second spell in her plan. "This other spell called Haste is used to increase speed. The only setback is that it will also increase the consumption of energy. The higher the speed, the higher the energy consumption. I've heard about a different version of Haste, which is more powerful and in turn more costly in energy. However, this book reveals that the so called alternate version called Haste Again, which was corrupted to Hastega, isn't a different version at all. What it really entails is the Haste spell being casted multiple times in a row for its effect to pile up. If we use this, we can shorten the time needed for the monster to be drained out of Phythan."
"You forget the high cost of energy of that spell," Xellos pointed out with far too much cheer in his voice for someone who was supposed to be delivering bad news. "Aiming Hastega at a person for them to be benefited by a speed boost is different from aiming it at a spell. The effects of Hastega might bounce all over the area. It is likely that all the humans in our group will be killed by having their energy drained away and the dragons will suffer greatly. I do hope you weren't trying to dump the Green Alchemist clean up duty on me."
"For the magnitude of Hastega that I intend to cast, all the humans exposed to it would indeed die, so we'll just have to make sure we're not exposed." Lina brought the scroll to the group's attention. "This special spell barrier will limit the affected area, so none of us will be in danger from our own spells. Phythan will be exposed to them, but this barrier can let spells in without letting any out. In other words, we can ensure Phythan's safety by constantly casting recovery spells during the entire process."
"This strategy... it might actually work," Celo admitted.
"I'm ready, I will trust in my new friends," Phythan declared.
"Alright!" Lina was full of determination as she started assigning positions to everyone. "I'll take care of casting Pursuit, at that point, Celo must immediately create the spell barrier, monsters do have a thing for making barriers. I'll follow suit with Hastega. Phythan, try to focus on staying alive and pushing the monster out. Filia and Tiffany, you two will heal Phythan constantly to ensure his survival. All of this needs to be done quickly, we'll be busy casting the spells, so we'll be exposed to the danger, that's where you come in Gourry. We'll be counting on you to watch our backs. If Amelia and Zelgadis come back on time to join in, then Amelia can help with the healing and Zelgadis can guard us along with Gourry."
"Miss Lina," Xellos spoke in a song-like voice, "you forgot someone," he innocently pointed out. "Don't you think I would be a better candidate to take care of the barrier? After all, my monster powers far exceed those of Celo."
Lina gave Xellos a suspicious look as she mulled over his suggestion. Technically they were trying to take back a minion of Lord Beast Master, which was stolen and sentenced to death. Even if that mission had not been directly assigned to Xellos, he wouldn't go against Zelas. However, he could just kill Phythan and Zelas would be okay with the method either way.
While Lina remained in silent thought, Filia looked at Xellos and finally spoke, "let him do it." All eyes immediately landed on Filia, she was the last person they expected to suggest trusting Xellos with an important task. Not only Phythan, but the entire group would suffer the consequences if the barrier failed. "You won't mess this up," Filia stated with certainty.
"And if I do?" Xellos inquired in a tone that was both amused and challenging.
"Then I could never believe it was by accident. If you fail, I can only call it sabotage. I'll never forgive you for that. I'll find a way to get revenge." Filia looked into Xellos' eyes indicating that she knew she was holding something over his head even if she didn't know exactly what that something was. She wasn't referring to the kind of vengeance that would come from battle, but rather revenge in the sense of messing up whatever it was he wanted from her.
"Dragons are such violent and blood thirsty creatures." Xellos teased her as he usually would, but Filia knew they had reached a silent understanding.
"Alright," Lina conceded, "Celo, you're on guard duty with Gourry, Xellos you'll be handling the barrier." She quietly admitted in the privacy of her own mind that it was better this way. She wasn't sure if Celo was a strong enough monster to accomplish the task, but she knew Xellos was. As Filia said, he wouldn't fail unless he wanted to. "Everyone take a break, if the Green Alchemist doesn't show up soon, we'll start burning trees. I'm sure he must be somehow keeping an eye on our movements. He'll come out when he thinks it's best to strike immediately, before his advantage in the forest is gone."
While everyone went over the plan, Lina made sure to memorize the proper spells. The chant to cast Pursuit was: ' invisible links of the chain, which binds all in this plane, make the target's struggle vain, follow the inescapable lane.' The chant to call upon Haste was also a short one: 'multiply my humble speed, let all my energy be freed, to quickly do as I please, accelerate all my deeds.'
Amelia and Zelgadis eventually returned to the tower, looking quite content. Zelgadis had decided to continue researching his cure, but not all the time. After this adventure was over, he would return to Seyruun as per Amelia's invitation. Admittedly, he was oddly nervous about seeing Philionel again, even though he had never felt that way about him in the past. He supposed the situation was made different by the fact that Amelia was now his official girlfriend.
They planned to spend some time in Seyruun and later go on occasional short trips to investigate the cure leads that seemed promising enough to be worth the time. That way Zelgadis didn't have to completely give up on his cure, but he could enjoy life without constantly worrying about it. Then maybe one day he would actually find it, or maybe he would lose interest in looking for it.
No one really knew the particulars about what happened between Zelgadis and Amelia when they were gone, but they knew that the two had clearly grown closer. Zelgadis blushed madly and snapped at anyone who asked him about the details, claiming it was none of their business, while Amelia only smiled with a rosy face and a joyous glow. After a while, they decided to drop the interrogation and focus on sharing the strategy they had planned to face the Green Alchemist and cure Phythan at the same time.
Once all the plans had been discussed, the group had a big dinner and retired to their respective rooms early to get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, Lina specified, they would carry out their tree burning plan to draw out the Green Alchemist. From there, they would execute their strategy and hope for the best.
To be Continued