Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia were piled into Xellos' small hospital room. The local doctor had given him medicine, ordered him not to scratch his rash, which was all over his body, and left him overnight at the hospital for observation. Xellos of course couldn't help it but to scratch, while Filia tried to stop him. "If you want to get better you have to listen to the doctor!" Filia had enough of trying to wrestle Xellos into staying still, especially when he resorted to hair pulling after he realized that no human could possibly physically overpower a dragon. "That's it! I'll make you stay still; this is for your own good!" Filia stormed off, leaving a heavy feeling of foreboding in the air.
"Stupid dragon," Xellos growled, then decided to seek out more information about his pitiful human condition. The doctor was in his opinion very unhelpful. He claimed to need Xellos to stay for overnight observation at the hospital before the intensity of his allergies could be determined. Apparently, if he was lucky, the medicine should have him fully healed by morning. Xellos wasn't getting his hopes up for the idea of being cured by the next day, because his luck had been anything but good as of late. "Amelia, what do you know about this... disease?" He finally swallowed his pride enough to ask, the suspense was killing him.
"It's an allergy, not a disease," Amelia pointed out. Xellos gave her an impatient look, silently indicating that it was just a figure of speech and he knew the difference well enough, so she could skip that explanation and move on to the more important information. "My friend, Kally, got a red rash all over her body just like what you have, but that was only on the first day. She got medicine and stayed at the hospital overnight."
"Then she was fine the next day?" Xellos inquired with a thin thread of hope clinging to his voice.
"Oh no, the next day she was far worse!" Amelia grimaced. "Her skin was only red and dry at first, just like yours, but on the second day it started cracking and bleeding, it was... rather unpleasant. They had to wrap every inch of poor Kally in bandages. She was like that for about two weeks and she said it hurt as if she was constantly being burned alive. The poor dear kept crying in agony day and night and not even the best healers could help her. Only herbal medicine was able to cure her, then at the end of the fifty days of treatment, she was as good as new, though a little traumatized by the experience. She can't even see a picture of an octopus without screaming, crying or fainting."
Fear, this was fear, Xellos recognized it. As a monster he enjoyed it very much, but as a human it was terrible. "Sounds like you're in trouble, I do hope you recover," Zelgadis grinned and Amelia failed to see the enjoyment in his remark. It wasn't that she wanted to be mean; she was just stating the facts as they were with the story about Kally. Lina and Gourry were quick to add in their condolences as well, though only Gourry's seemed to have a shred of sincerity.
"I'm back," Filia returned to the room with a bundle of ropes in her arms. "This should keep you still."
"No!" Xellos attempted to run away, but Filia dragged him back and tied him to the bed forcefully. "Stop it! Let me go!"
"Yell all you want, that's just going to give you a sore throat, it won't convince me to let you go. This is all for your own good." Filia took up the chair closest to Xellos' hospital bed, guarding him.
Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis looked at each other and unanimously decided it was time to leave. Thus they left the miserable ex-monster in the capable care of the temperamental golden dragon.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was the most unpleasant night of Xellos' life, spent at the hospital like a fragile human, which he hated to remember he was. He woke up feeling terribly stiff and painfully turned his head to the side to see Filia leaning on his bed in an odd position, the rest of her body on a chair beside it. "Filia, wake up, you stupid lazy dragon!"
Filia woke up startled and looked around in every direction until it sunk in where she was and why she was there. "Xellos, are you in pain?"
"Yes," he snapped from his position, immobile on the bed. "But it's not because of some octopus allergy; I'm stiff from laying still."
Filia gently caressed his face, which only further annoyed him. "Your temperature is normal and the rash is gone. It looks like your allergy wasn't as bad as what Amelia's friend had."
Xellos was worried he would end up wrapped in bandages like a mummy too. How was he supposed to break his curse then? Who falls in love with a mummy? Okay, so maybe he kind of figured Filia would take care of him either way, but that would just make things worse.
"Yes, I'm cured, the medicine was a success, I have no reason to scratch anymore, untie me!" Xellos yelled in humiliated frustration. In an attempt to get back at Filia, he gave her a suspicious look and winked. "Unless it was your plan all along to take this opportunity to fulfill your bondage fantasies. Are you going to try to take advantage of me?"
"No!" Filia's face turned crimson and she fumbled with the knocks to untie Xellos as quickly as she could. She stumbled back as soon as he was untied and watched him stretch from the corner of her eyes as she rummaged through the bag the doctor had dropped off that morning while Xellos was still sleeping. She yawned, "you know, I just recently fell asleep." She tried to change the subject.
"Then you spent the whole night watching me?" Xellos made a fake exaggerated shuddering motion. "Creepy!"
"Stop it! You know I wasn't watching you with bad intentions!" Filia insisted still red-faced. She handed the doctor's bag over to Xellos. "There's some spare medicine in there, just in case, and some herbal soap. I suggest you use it now since it will probably be a long walk to the next inn." She handed him his clothes as well, since the doctor had made him change into baby blue hospital pajamas the previous day. "I also washed your clothes."
"I'm glad you finally learned your place, slave. Are you going to give your master a sponge bath too?" Xellos teased.
Trying to avoid a long argument, Filia growled in response, "just go and try to hurry, everyone is already prepared to go, we're just waiting for you."
"Have a good time waiting then," Xellos walked away towards the bathroom at a luxurious pace, which he knew would annoy Filia. Just as he closed the door he heard her let out a stream of angry mutters that were most certainly directed at him. He slightly opened the door again and poked his head out, "no peeking." The simple phrase was enough to anger Filia further as she denounced that she ever would. Xellos shut the door once more, locking it with more force than needed, so that the click of the lock was annoyingly obvious to Filia. It's not like she would actually try to open the door, but making her think he thought she would was amusing.
The bathroom was particularly small and just as white as the hospital room. The tub had been filled with water. Xellos set his clothes aside and tested the temperature, finding that it was pleasantly warm. Filia must have gotten the bath ready for him too before she dozed off for a few short minutes. A quick curious peek at the mirror confirmed that his skin was completely back to normal. His hair was also darker then the day before, almost completely black with only a few strands of purple left. His eyes had remained the same amethyst color, as it was pointed out before, some humans have eyes so blue that they looked purple, though his pupils were rounder. He glared at his reflection, not out of distaste, but just to see what he looked like with a different expression. His face was the same as ever, except that constantly wearing a squinting smile got tiring. Humans were truly pathetic, even their tiny facial muscles needed rest.
Glaring at the mirror, Xellos ironically realized that he looked more so like a monster now than before. Perhaps not really a monster, but more like an evil wizard. The black hair did give him a certain sinister quality, especially when he had his eyes open. Upon further observation, he realized that he must have unknowingly run a fever at some point in the night because he was a little sweaty. He wondered if those instances when he half woke up to find Filia cleaning his face with a cool towel in the middle of the night were real or just a product of his tortured mind.
In any case, he would much rather leave the terrible octopus calamity behind for good. He tossed the pajamas on the floor and hopped into the tub. The warm water felt like a great relief on his stiff body. He didn't care if the others were waiting; he wasn't getting out of the tub any time soon. After a while, before the water cooled off completely, he rummaged through the bag Filia had given him for the medicinal soap he was supposed to use. The stuff smelled like something that belonged in some old granny's stew and he didn't like it, but thinking that the rash of itchy doom could return, Xellos decided not to take any chances and used the soap just as he was told.
He noticed that there were several bottles inside the bag. Aside from the medicine, there was a small traveling size bottle of shampoo with nothing particularly medicinal about it. There was also another bottle of... cologne? Why would they give that away at the hospital? It was appropriate, since it would get rid of the smell of the weird herbal soap, but it and the shampoo looked store bought. A small note at the bottom of the bag listed the two items. This had to be Filia's hand writing; she looked like the type to dot her i's with little hearts.
Filia did say something about helping Xellos take care of his hair the previous evening. She must have also smelled the medicinal soap and decided something had to be done about it. The note proved that she did indeed stay by his side the whole night, having sent someone else to get the items for her. Stupid dragon thinking of every detail and annoyingly going out of her way for him...
A knock on the door interrupted Xellos' peaceful soaking in the bathtub. "Xellos, you've been in there for an hour!" There was no reply. "Xellos?" Filia repeated. "Are you okay in there?" A few more seconds passed, slowly turning into minutes as Filia's mind went crazy with tragic theories. Was it that Xellos had not fully recovered and fainted? Or maybe he slipped on the tub, fell and hit his head. Maybe he was unconscious under water in the tub. Maybe he could still be saved. "Xellos, answer me!" Filia's voice turned desperate and frightened, which further amused Xellos. He felt the tickle of a laugh wanting to come out, but managed to keep it in check.
He remained perfectly quiet and waited for Filia to break down crying in desperation. What was her problem anyway? He was only taking a bath; there was nothing that could possibly hurt him during the process. He would have to remember to ask her if she was afraid he would go down the drain or something. With Filia's melodious desperate shouts in the background, Xellos decided it was time to get out of the tub; the water had cooled off by then anyway. He stood up and just as he was about to reach for one of the white towels that was almost invisible against the white wall, the door burst open. The door knob had been shattered, lock and all, as Filia barged in with a panicked expression.
Time seemed to stand still. There was Xellos standing against a pure white backdrop, dripping wet and with absolutely nothing in the way to obstruct the view. There was Filia in a panicked state caused by her baseless worries, with a rush of adrenaline coursing through her body that heightened her senses, allowing her to better take in every detail before her. A single second passed and the frozen state was broken as Filia's face turned a glowing shade of scarlet and she screamed at the top of her lungs. She made a hasty retreat, slamming the ruined bathroom door so hard that it fell off one of its hinges and hung lopsided from the doorframe.
xoxox xox xoxox
Fifteen minutes later, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos and Filia were on the road again. Thankfully they managed to elude the octopi waiters and upset human chefs that wanted them to pay for the previous evening's meal. Thus once again, Lina Inverse and company skipped another town without paying their food bills. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Xellos were walking at a normal pace, while Filia lagged behind, staring at the ground in embarrassment, her face still flustered.
"Are you alright, Miss Filia? Your face is all red; did you catch a fever somehow?" Amelia inquired with all the good intentions in the world.
"I'm alright," Filia snapped awkwardly. She tried to put on a happy smile and hope that Amelia would keep any further questions to herself. "I mean, I'm perfectly fine, really! It's a lovely day and life is wonderful!" She laughed awkwardly. "It's just a little warm out today, that's all."
"If you say so," realizing that she wasn't going to get any more information out of Filia, Amelia mercifully dropped the subject.
A short moment of blissful silence passed by, being filled only by the soft sound of their foot steps on the dirt road. "Seriously, Xellos," Lina broke the silence holding her nose with the index and thumb of one hand, while fanning the air in front of her face with the other hand. "That cologne smells nice and all, but you didn't have to bathe in it!"
"I had to use it," Xellos innocently replied. "It was a gift from Filia." He drew closer to his bodyguard as if to whisper a secret to her, though it was just loud enough for the whole group to hear. "I think she wants me."
"I do not!" Filia immediately screeched. "You're delusional, you monster!" this time she was using the word monster in a metaphorical sense.
"Really?" Xellos grinned evilly. "So the whole thing with you ripping off the bathroom door, which I had locked, and rushing in when I was innocently taking a bath was all part of my imagination? That ruined door back at the hospital looked pretty real to me. Besides, I'm sure that everyone heard you scream."
All eyes landed on Filia as her face glowed crimson again. She seemed unwilling to communicate and eager to leave town when she caught up to the group. "I didn't mean to and you know it!"
"I know dragons are brutes," Xellos continued in his usual super annoying tone, at least that had not changed about him. "But you can't expect me to believe that you accidentally broke the door. I've seen you use doors before without breaking them."
"I thought you were hurt!" Filia defended.
"Did you think I would go down the drain?" Xellos teased with the remark he had thought of earlier.
"I once got my thumb stuck in a tub's drain at an inn," Gourry randomly shared. "Lina had to help me get it out."
The collective stare of the group shifted from Filia to Lina, giving Filia a small much needed break from the analytical visual attention. Lina's face instantly matched the color of her hair as she tried to make up an excuse. "Headband!" She pointed at the black headband she usually wore around her forehead. "I was wearing my headband over my eyes the whole time!" Of course that was after she rushed in to answer Gourry's plea for help, saw everything, screamed her head off and finally calmed down enough to actually help him. That was also after hurling every blunt object she could get her hands on at his head. "Anyway, getting back on topic, we were talking about Xellos and Filia," Lina reminded, sinking poor Filia to save herself.
Filia gave Lina a sarcastic 'thanks a lot' look as she continued in her defense. "I thought Xellos fainted as a side-effect of his allergy, or slipped in the tub and hit his head. I thought he was drowning and honestly needed help!"
"Just because I've been turned into this doesn't mean I'm completely pathetic." Xellos argued with a certain edge to his voice upon being reminded of his fragile mortality.
"I kept calling out for you and you didn't answer!" Filia's tone evolved from defensive to accusing. "What else was I supposed to think if not that you were unconscious?"
Amelia, the self proclaimed just judge of the argument nodded in acknowledgement. "Miss Filia states a valid point."
To answer Filia's rhetorical question, Xellos offered, "you were supposed to think I was ignoring you. It's the most logical conclusion."
"That's a valid point too," Amelia admitted. She silently deliberated for a few seconds with a classic thoughtful expression with one hand on her chin, then finally reached a conclusion. "However, the fact still stands that you did not answer to Miss Filia's calls and purposely worried her. That was a very mean thing to do, Mr. Xellos, especially after Miss Filia showed you such kindness. She stayed by your side the whole night while you recovered and even asked me to run to the store to get a few things, so she could remain with you every second. In life, evil deeds are punished and kindness is rewarded!" Amelia's view of the world wasn't exactly perfectly accurate, but no one pointed it out. There was no destroying Amelia's fantasies of absolute justice.
Instead of trying to point out that the world wasn't always that balance, and that it rarely was, Xellos mused over Amelia's words until he reached a conclusion of his own. "So evil deeds are punished and kindness is rewarded... By that logic that must mean that my evil deeds of the past are being punished by having my very own peeping she-tom stalker."
"What?!" Filia snapped in mortified anger.
Not quite done with his conclusion, Xellos finished stating his observations with a mischievous grin and a conceited tone. "Following the same train of logic, we can also conclude that Filia's kindness was rewarded with some excellent fan service." Unable to respond, Filia could only hide her red face with her hands, while in the privacy of her mind, she wondered if Xellos' statement was somehow true.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 035: You Again?! Relatively Strange Relatives
Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos and Filia were well on their way to Filia's home town. The rest of the trip had gone relatively well, with no further allergic reactions from Xellos or accidental fan service being received by Filia, or anyone for that matter. "If we keep going at this rate, we should be getting there tonight," Filia stated with a hint of homesickness in her voice. She would be glad to feel the comforting familiarity of her shop, make sure that Gravos and Jillas were doing alright in her absence and gently hold little Val's egg in her arms once more.
After Filia's statement, the group made small talk about what they would do when they reached the town. Lina and Gourry were, as expected, looking forward to getting some food. They talked about times past and their adventure during the battle against Darkstar, until the chat was interrupted. Straight ahead in the middle of the road there was a strange being, obviously a monster by the looks of him.
The creature had the lower body of a horse with eight spider limbs sticking out from his back. A muscular troll-like torso emerged from the horse with a pair of thick arms ending in hoofs. The being was completely covered in black fur and had a face that looked like a combination of a spider and a bull. Three glowing red eyes glared at the approaching pedestrians with a pair of long fangs sticking out of the bull's spider-style snout.
"Will you look at that," Lina returned the creature's menacing glare with a confident glare of her own. "It's the welcoming committee!"
"Quite the ugly welcoming committee I would say," Xellos commented as if this was none of his business.
The monster's three red eyes landed on him as he spoke the name in a gruff yet screeching voice that was very unpleasant to the ears. "Xellos! I see it's true, the curse took you out earlier than expected. It goes to show that you weren't as strong as they said you were." The being laughed obnoxiously, vibrating as he did. A small crystal skull that hung from a golden chain bounced around his throat with the vibrations.
Just as Xellos was getting ready to retaliate to the insult and sent his bodyguard on a physical offense alongside his verbal assault, another voice pierced the air. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" The annoyance level of the voice matched that of the monster. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" The voice insistently repeated in the distance, but as of yet its owner remained unseen. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Every time the laughter was heard, it was closer to the group's location. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Even the monster had to pause and wonder what in the world that was. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Finally, the voice sounded very close by. Harsh breathing was heard and one final bout of laughter came. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
The monster stepped aside to reveal the woman who had ran over from the opposite side of the path and was catching her breath. She had come up behind the large monster, thus was unseen by Lina and company until that moment. "You again?" The monster sounded very much exasperated. "Now listen here lady, I'm getting really tired of having you follow me around trying to steal this," he pointed at the glass skull necklace. "I don't know how you survived our last encounter, but this time I'll have to make extra sure you don't make it out alive!" The monster paused with an undignified expression, if expressions were even noticeable on such a strange face. "Hey lady, are you even listening to me?"
The woman in question was not listening to the monster whose treasure she was pursuing. She was instead staring straight ahead at the group of travelers, while the travelers stared at her. Lina and Amelia's faces were especially shocked. Gourry was confused, but there was nothing new there and Zelgadis looked like he was thinking 'where did this weirdo come from?' Xellos appeared to have some amount of recognition about who the scandalously clad woman was and waited for the revelation to be spoken.
"Naga!" If Lina was deeply surprise at that point, her shock was about to double.
Simultaneous to Lina's voice, Amelia also expressed her recognition of the woman in the black leather bikini. "Sister?"
Both Lina and Zelgadis stared at Amelia in shock, or in shock and dread in Zelgadis' case. "What?" They unanimously chorused with Zelgadis hoping and wishing with all his might that he heard Amelia wrong. Then again, her family was anything but normal.
"Amelia, Lina!" Naga ran past the vexed monster and towards the familiar people. "What a grand day it is to be reunited with my sister and my rival at the same time!" She wrapped one arm around each girl, pulling them into an excessively tight hug against her abundant chest.
When Lina and Amelia managed to get free of Naga's affectionate grip, explanations were swiftly demanded, though Lina and Amelia's questions came out as a jumble of stuttered syllables. Finally, Lina lost her temper and shouted, "what's going on around here?"
"Miss Lina... Everyone..." Amelia faced the group, signaling to Naga. "This is my older sister, Gracia Ul Naga Seyruun."
"Sister! She's really your sister!" Lina's brain was being forced to assimilate an idea that simply made no sense what so ever, no matter how she looked at it. She had seen her fair share of strange things during her travels, but this took the cake by far.
Filia eloquently summed up the situation with an expressive, "oh my!" She didn't know what to say. For one thing, she didn't approve of Miss Gracia's attire, or lack of attire rather. But she didn't want to sound offensive and this was only their first meeting. Needless to say she simply didn't see the resemblance between Amelia and Gracia, or Naga as Lina had referred to her.
"Yes, Miss Lina," Amelia confirmed, "Naga, as she prefers to be called, is my sister."
"That's Naga the White Serpent," the eldest Seyruun princess corrected. "But you can all just call me Naga since you're friends with both my little sister and my main rival."
"Sisters... They're sisters..." Lina muttered in disbelief, suffering from what a later more advance society where computers exist would call a mental blue screen. She took a deep breath and tried to get over the shock, concluding that there are things in life that simply cannot be explained with anything resembling sense or logic, or cannot be explained at all. Besides, Lina wouldn't call her own sister normal either.
"Hi!" Naga cheerfully waved with a big smile, "nice to meet everyone!"
"You already know Miss Lina," Amelia continued with the introductions, making the verbal annotation with a tone that hinted she would require further information about how they met. "Have you met Mr. Gourry Gabriev? He's Miss Lina's fiance."
Naga made an exaggerated gasp, "her fiance? Really?" She gave Gourry a critical look, leaning in close to his face with an analytical "hmm..." She placed her right index finger under his chin and further examined his face with another, "hmm..." her nose almost touching his.
"What's the big idea, Naga?" Lina was positively fuming at the invasion of personal space Gourry was too stupid to realize he was suffering.
"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga laughed as she finally gave Gourry some breathing room. Her fit of loud laughter went on for several seconds until a full minute passed. Finally, Naga made a dramatic pause and declared, "I approve."
Gourry blinked in slight confusion. He wasn't sure how, but apparently this lady had just given him her approval. Approval was generally a good thing, so he concluded that he should thank her, thus he did. "Thank you," and he smiled.
"What are you thanking her for?" Lina screeched in exasperation. It was just like the old days; Naga could drive her insane in seconds. The difference was that this time the whole gang was along for the ride.
"Shall we continue the introductions?" Amelia prompted awkwardly, hoping to diffuse the situation. "This is Zelgadis Graywords, he's..." she blushed. She didn't think she would be introducing Zelgadis as her boyfriend to a member of her family so soon.
"He's blue," Naga stated with curiosity. She removed her right glove and took his face in her hand, once again invading someone's personal space.
Zelgadis wasn't sure if he should pull away or not. What if she didn't like chimeras? If this was anyone else, it wouldn't matter, but Naga was Amelia's big sister. Zelgadis didn't want to cause a discord between the siblings, even though before that day he had no idea Amelia had a sister like that. He did know that she had an older sister who was traveling around the world, but Amelia had not spoken too much about her and Zelgadis didn't press the matter. Needless to say, the picture of Amelia's sister in Zelgadis imagination was very different from Naga. With the limited information about her he possessed, he could only imagine an older Amelia. He remained still, quiet and uncomfortable, hoping that he could pass Naga's scrutiny like Gourry had and fearing that he would fail in her eyes.
Naga's bare hand traveled to Zelgadis' hair, which she carefully petted, then she lowered the hand to his face again, running her index finger down his cheek, to his neck. That's when Amelia had enough and decided to interfere with as much anger as Lina had before. "Sister!"
Just as Amelia was ready to Ra Tilt her own sibling, Naga was finally satisfied. She backed off and put her glove back on with a challenging serious look. "So you're my sister's lover," she bluntly stated critically.
"Her lover?" Zelgadis stuttered in disbelief, his face as red as Amelia's. "I'm not... we don't... we haven't..." He tried to explain the difference between lover and boyfriend but he was simply too embarrassed to do so.
"He's my boyfriend!" Amelia corrected, putting as much volume in her voice as her mortification allowed her to produce. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to be heard.
"A gentleman, is he?" Naga inquired with the same critical look that was making Zelgadis seriously nervous. If facing Amelia's sister was this nerve wrecking, how difficult would it be to face her father eventually?
"Very much so," Amelia assured, hoping that the detailed inspection would end. She was feeling terribly uncomfortable and her dear Zelgadis looked like he was being tortured.
"I see," Naga nodded and paused as if in deep contemplation. Her critical eyes landed on Zelgadis once again. "His skin is stony and cool to the touch," she stated judgmentally. "It is..." As Naga made a suspenseful pause, Zelgadis felt the whole world crumble around him. This was it, Amelia's sister would express her absolute disapproval of him and forbid her younger sibling from seeing him. He didn't think Amelia would just abandon him; she had a lot more loyalty than that. Yet he didn't want to be the cause of her fighting with her family. "It's..." By the time Naga finally found the word she was looking for, Zelgadis had braced himself for everything from grotesque to preposterous. "So cute!" Naga squealed in absolute joy.
Zelgadis' jaw hung open as everyone shared in the surprise. No one was expecting Naga to react like that, except maybe Amelia who muttered, "you did always like suspense."
Lina followed up with a comment of her own, "I should have known all that serious business stuff was fake!"
With another round of annoying laughter, "ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga reaffirmed her unmistakable consent, "I approve. It's good to meet you, dear brother. Please make me an aunt as soon as possible! I want to have lots of cute blue golem-like pointy eared nieces and nephews!"
Far from being happy, Zelgadis looked seriously worried. When he decided to date Amelia, he wasn't thinking about having kids. Naturally, it would be far too soon to be thinking of children, as he was still at the stage where he worried about meeting her family. "Mutant children..." he felt his countenance becoming deeply depressed, but he couldn't stop it. What if any future descendants of his inherited his looks? He wouldn't be able to give Amelia any normal children. Then again, sometimes chimeras had normal kids, didn't they? Or perhaps the child would be a mix of all their attributes, which brought a hopeful prospect at the thought of being more than half human.
"Yes!" Naga cheered happily, not realizing how she was traumatizing her future brother-in-law.
"I'm sure any kids we have will be perfectly fine, mutant or not, and everyone will love them." Amelia was trying to console Zelgadis, though she seemed to make him blush even more.
"Um... ah... yeah... you're right... no use worrying so soon..." Okay, so the chimera thing wasn't a big deal to Amelia. Naga already approved of him and Philionel had never appeared to be the superficial type. Besides, there were some who claimed that Philionel kind of looked like an ogre. Not to be mean or anything, but there was a certain resemblance, if only physical. He was thankfully, nothing like an ogre in terms of personality... as long as he wasn't angry. Given the fact that Amelia's family was so varied, so as to not say weird, the eventual addition of a chimera wouldn't really be much of a shock after Zelgadis took some time to think about it.
To save herself from further awkwardness, Amelia continued the introductions. "This is Miss Filia Ul Copt, she's a golden dragon."
"A dragon, really?" Naga was quite excited about the news. "I always wanted a pet dragon; let me borrow her Amelia, please! I want a ride! Transform Quicksilver and take to the skies!"
"I'm not a pet!" Filia yelled in indignation. Her first impression of Naga was not a pleasant one. Yet after seeing her express her support for Amelia and Zelgadis' relationship, Filia thought that maybe it was too soon to judge. Right now, she was back to her bad first impression.
"Why would you name a golden dragon Quicksilver?" Gourry inquired as if it was a very important detail. "Shouldn't it be Quickgolden?" He suggested.
"I suppose so," Naga mused. "You snagged yourself a smart one Lina!" The worse part about Naga's compliment was that it was not sarcastic at all, she was being completely sincere. "Either way, now that I think about it, I just remembered that Quicksilver is a boy name and this dragon is a girl. I think it was the name of some super fast running chimera guy, or was it a mutant? I forget. Anyway, Quickgolden doesn't have the right ring to it. What to name my ride..."
"How about Epona?" Gourry oh so helpfully suggested with a cheerful smile. At least his intentions were good. "One of the best swordsmen from my village who is also a good childhood friend of mine, named his horse that."
"Brilliant!" Naga joyfully declared. "I shall borrow the name for my dragon steed if you think your friend won't mind. You shall be known as Epona!"
"I'm not a horse!" Filia screamed at the top of her lungs as Naga attempted to jump on her back to try to get her to transform into dragon form.
"Naga, please stop!" Amelia pleaded in shame. "I thought you knew how to behave better than this!"
Naga ceased her antics and patted Amelia on the head. "Aw, don't worry little sister. I'm just kidding around; I'm not going to try to steal your friends... as long as you're kind enough to share them with me." She then turned to face the fuming Filia again and with the grace of a princess, she extended her cape in a light curtsy. "It is my pleasure to meet you, Filia Ul Copt is indeed a lovely name. What a coincidence that we both share a part of our names since I am called Gracia Ul Naga Seyruun. I hope that we can be good friends and I extend the same wish to all of you."
"That's much better," Amelia commended.
Lina was suffering from another huge shock. "Where did that come from?"
As he watched the scene unfold, Xellos felt that tickle again signifying that a fit of laughter was trying to come out against his will. He pushed it back; he didn't want to make any noise now. As mocking as he could be, he was only mocking when he had calculated that it was the right time. Laughter was a willing and controlled reaction, as were most, though he would mistakenly claim all, his reactions as a monster. Yet being human was different, his body didn't always do what he told it to.
Filia looked at Xellos curiously after she managed to tare her shocked expression away from Naga. Her reaction to Amelia's plea was behaving like a perfect lady. How in the world did she switch between the two personas so easily? That mystery would have to wait, because another more pressing matter was at hand. While the rest of the group was still focused on Naga, Filia noticed Xellos' discomfort. He had both hands over his mouth and was making muffled noises. "Are you choking?"
Choking on what, Filia couldn't possibly imagine. There was nothing but clear air to choke on around them, and people rarely choked on that. Xellos appeared to have mastered the art of breathing as a human easily enough, so what was his problem all of a sudden? Did he have asthma? Given his earlier unexpected octopus allergy, the possibility of being asthmatic could not be carelessly discarded.
Then Filia's theory went out the window when the source of Xellos' discomfort was revealed to be accumulated laughter that needed to be released from his throat. He couldn't help it, the laughter simply exploded and forced its way out in the sound waves around him uncontrollably. Everyone was staring at him in a instant, but even with their puzzled gazes on him, Xellos simply couldn't get himself to stop for several minutes. Finally taking a deep breath, he got all the laughs out of his system and calmed down.
Naga smiled blissfully, "you're quite a cheerful one, aren't you? Let's finish our introductions, Amelia?"
Still confused over the sudden laugh attack displayed by Xellos, Amelia woke up from her puzzled daze and completed the introductions. "This is Xellos, he's..." The younger princess was at a loss for words on how to describe one of their most unusual traveling companions, though they were all a little unusual in their own right.
"If I didn't know not to judge by appearances, I would say you're some kind of evil wizard," Naga interrupted in a joking tone. "Or maybe you're a monster in disguise!" She took his face in both hands, examining his eyes. "You have such amazing eyes and your hair looks so silky and soft," she rubbed her face against his hair.
"Stop it! Don't you know anything about personal space or modesty?" Filia blew up before she could stop herself or even think about the consequences of her outburst.
"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga laughed loudly, it was really getting on Filia's nerves. "You get stressed out too easily, Miss Epona."
"Filia!" The enraged golden dragon screeched, "my name is Filia!"
"Please forgive her, she has no manners, golden dragons are such rude creatures." Xellos patted Filia's shoulder. It was easier to deal with his own unwilling reactions such as the intense laughter he went through, when Filia was blowing up right next to him. At least he could say he wasn't the only one who had lost control. Then again, Lina had her temper tantrums too and Amelia had her justice speeches. Maybe losing control wasn't so rare in their group after all.
All the while, the evil spider-bull monster stood around shocked and appalled that he had been forgotten so easily.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 036: Insomnia! No Rest For The Wicked
Naga loudly laughed once more, just as she had been doing since she ran into Lina's group. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha ha! Don't worry, Filia, I'm not going to try to steal your lover. You two make such a cute couple!" She had completely misunderstood Filia's relationship with Xellos and it was making Filia too embarrassed to even be angry.
"He's not my lover..." The golden dragon argued in a defeated tone. Some people were just impossible.
Naga placed a comforting hand on Filia's shoulder, "don't worry, you're quite pretty, I'm sure you'll capture his heart. Just try to keep your temper in check and smile a little more. You should get a new outfit too, something like what I'm wearing." Filia could only growl and shoot a laser to the sky in response.
This was priceless; Xellos decided that Naga wasn't an unpleasant person at all, because anyone who was his ally in teasing Filia was okay by him. "That's right Filia, try to be a little more charming, show some skin, smile, and I might fall for you."
"Grrr!" Filia looked like she would go on the attack. It wasn't unusual in the past for her to go on the physical offensive alongside the verbal assaults directed at Xellos. "You piece of raw garbage!" She began to charge her laser breath.
"No!" Lina jumped in front of Filia in a defensive stance.
The angry golden dragon stopped herself just in time with a perplexed look. "What are you doing?" Filia forcefully withheld her laser, coughing a little as a result. "I could have blasted you and at point blank a human would be..." Filia's eyes grew wide in realization. She lost her temper and forgot that Xellos was no longer a powerful monster general who could take anything she could dish out. He was a human, a fragile human still becoming accustomed to his new body.
"Killed," Lina finished unnecessarily. "Which means my bodyguard job will go down the drain." She reminded with emphasis. "This goes for everyone, if any of you kill Xellos, I expect you to pay up the full value of the coins you'll make me lose!"
Xellos frowned, deeply annoyed, while Filia appeared to be shaken. "I'm sorry," Filia softly voiced, vexing Xellos further. He hated being weak more than anything.
Naga shook her head, "you have to be gentle with men, they're such breakable creatures." Her advice sounded as if it was based on experience. Honestly, no one wanted to know about that, so they all just pretended they didn't hear her.
"Don't ignore me!" The black spider bull monster demanded angrily. His patience had been tested more than ever on that day.
"I thought you wanted me to stop paying attention to you," Naga pointed out as a matter of fact. "Well fine, now my attention is back on that treasure!" She pointed at the crystal skull necklace on the golden chain around the monster's neck. "Give it to me or face the wrath of my golems!"
"Enough!" The monster screamed angrily. "I can't stand having you trying to steal my treasure anymore, but I have some important business to take care of first." He turned his attention from Naga to the pissed off frustrated Xellos. "Xellos, you have no idea what you did to me that day!"
"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga's laughter interrupted the monster's frustrated speech of vengeance. "I have heard your laugh, monster! You are no match for me with such a weak laugh! Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
"Shut up and let me finish!" The monster snapped in absolute frustration.
"Man, I'm actually starting to feel sorry for this guy, having to put up with Naga." Lina commented sincerely. With a mischievous grin, she began to power up a spell, "I'll be doing him a favor by putting him out of his misery."
"Stop interrupting me!" The monster stomped around, throwing a hissy fit because no one would listen to him. He was determined to finish his speech of dramatic vengeance. "Ever since you took my title I've been trying to get my revenge. I even went on a treasure hunt for this as a good luck charm," the monster signaled to the skull necklace. "I finally found it and felt ready to take you on again, but you never entered the tournament. Even if I won, they still considered you the champion; they wouldn't accept my victory unless I defeated you. I will kill you for what you took from me Xellos, then I will show everyone your dead human face and they'll know the truth. They'll know I'm the ultimate mysterious expression champion, I am the face of mystery, not you!"
"Wait a minute!" Lina spoke up, "what's this about being the face of mystery? I thought you were talking about some kind of fighting tournament between monsters, but now it sounds like you were modeling in a beauty pageant."
"It's the Wicked Cool Annual Competition," Naga explained, drawing the group's attention to her unexpected information. "There are a lot of categories such as best evil laugh, most alluring expression of mystery and others. The judges evaluate contestants based on stuff like how cruel and tempting they look and so on. This pathetic loser used to be the champion, but I took the title for best laugh and became the undisputed champ. I heard that someone else had taken the title for most mysterious look from him before."
"You took away no such title, only monsters can enter and when you were discovered to be human you were disqualified and the title of best evil laugh went back to me!" The monster argued insistently.
"Details, details," Naga waved her hand dismissively. "Who cares about the rules, the judges unanimously selected me and you know it. That medal is mine!"
"Medal?" Lina's confusion grew as she tried to keep up with what was happening. "You mean the crystal skull? Isn't that some ancient treasure?"
"The Wicked Cool Annual Competition wasn't always so varied," Xellos began the lesson in monster history and culture for the benefit of those who were not familiar with it. "It used to be only about evil laughs and the relic that Mr. Runner-up has around his neck was the symbol given to the winner to wear. One year, the winner did not return to defend the title. It was tradition that the medal should be returned if the past champion chose not to compete. However, the champion had suffered a minor inconvenience, meaning death," this was spoken in the classic Xellos cheer. "Thus the medal was forever lost... until now, it seems. Either way, after the categories of the competition were broadened, one prize was no longer enough. The judges decided to adopt a more conventional method of symbolizing the winners and give away gold, silver and bronze medals, which the winners could keep regardless of if they returned the next year or not."
Naga was nodding her head the entire time at Xellos' explanation. "Exactly, but since it's clear that I am the ultimate champion of laughs, I should keep the original relic medal for myself. Besides, it's a really cute necklace."
"Have I ever shown you the expression that won me first place? It was like this." Xellos smoothed out his hair with his hands, just to make sure it was in place and looked slightly to the side to create the appropriate angle. He had a grin that was just the right size, with exactly the proper amount of alluring mischief. His attractive eyes were open, but not entirely, his eyelids slightly lowered, enough to give his gaze an air of mystery while leaving his amethyst orbs clearly visible. Filia blushed, she couldn't help it, she just did.
"Ah! That face! You look even more mysterious with your darker hair making your eyes stand out, but I am the king of mystery. You cannot compete!" The monster, that the gang didn't think was important enough to ask his name and dubbed him Mr. Runner-up instead, made a grotesque expression. His fangs became twisted and his three red eyes narrow.
"Ew!" Amelia loudly declared, "that isn't mystery, it's evil! Elmekia Lance!" After Amelia's instinct of justice got things started, the rest of the group was quick to join, reducing the monster to ashes.
Naga triumphantly picked up the surprisingly resistant necklace, which other than being almost unbreakable didn't actually have any special powers at all, and put it on. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" She modeled the necklace as she laughed until she was finally satisfied. "Well, now that my quest has been fulfilled, I think I'll hang around you guys for a little while. Were you heading to the next town? Let's go, we're almost there!" Naga began to march forward.
"I'm the leader!" Lina tried to march in front of Naga, which led Naga to quicken her pace. Lina started moving faster in response until they both broke into a run towards Filia's home town.
The golden dragon sighed hopelessly. "Here I was hoping to relax at least a little while I visited my home."
xoxox xox xoxox
The first thing the group did when they arrived at the town where Filia lived was to go to her shop. Once there, another bunch of introductions followed as Jillas and Gravos were presented to Naga's scrutiny. She seemed to develop an instant fascination with Gravos, but the group preferred not to read too deeply into it. They also decided to overlook the fact that she patted Jillas' head as if he was some kind of pet. Really, they were too tired to make a fuss about anything at the time.
The next event in the agenda after the introductions was to get some food, because that was the first thing Lina wanted to do in any town she arrived at. Thus they went to try the local cuisine, arguing about what restaurant was the best. It was an argument that Filia had to break up with her expert opinion, which in the end, Lina didn't listen to anyway and dragged everyone into the restaurant she liked best. With full stomachs, rather than registering at the local inn, they all returned to Filia's home for a massively cramped sleep over.
First the whole group piled around the living room to hear stories about Lina's travels with Naga, which consisted of Naga exaggerating her own accomplishments and taking all the credit and Lina adamantly claiming that the credit was her own. Stories about Lina's most prominent adventures with Amelia were shared, including the mention of a certain festival dance performance the two did thinking it was some kind of powerful protection spell. After the chaotic conversation finally reached a point of rest, the girls retired to Filia's room, while the guys went to room with Jillas and Gravos.
For Filia, it looked as if the long day was finally over after being stretched well into the night. The sun would be up long before anyone was in the mood to interrupt their slumber. Then suddenly her breath was knocked out of her by a foot to the stomach, it was Lina's foot. Filia was about to reprimand the red-head for the uncalled for attack, until she noticed that Lina was sleeping and remembered that this was her usual amount of tossing and turning. There was no space to get far enough from her in the tiny room and sleeping on a bed was like taboo during a sleeping bag sleep over. Either there were enough beds for everyone, or everyone slept on the floor.
Not really caring about breaking the rules, Filia got up, but she didn't occupy her bed. Instead she ventured into her living room, hoping to get some much needed rest on the couch. Upon arriving quietly at the living room, she found Xellos occupying the couch, sitting quietly, staring at the walls absentmindedly to pass the time. "What are you doing here?" She sat down beside him without a second thought.
"Nothing," Xellos replied simply and for the benefit of Filia's suspicious and insistent gaze, he added, "Gourry snores too loud and Jillas whistles in his sleep."
"Insomnia," Filia concluded.
"No," Xellos had enough of human troubles and didn't want to admit he additionally suffered from insomnia. "Just noise, besides, I don't feel like sleeping anyway. I hardly ever did, I had no reason to."
Filia noted the use of the past tense, which meant that Xellos was aware of the fact that he needed sleep as a human. She decided not to point that out, though she was tempted to make a comment about there being no rest for the wicked. However, she decided against voicing that as well. She could have pointed out that the noise of the snoring didn't make it past the door, through the hallway and all the way to the living room, so he could sleep there if he wanted. It was obvious the cause of his insomnia was not noise, but she didn't point that out. Instead she quietly mused that Xellos might miss having the ability to stay awake all night and still be full of energy during the day. Life had become more difficult for him than he would ever admit and Filia knew it.
"Will you stop that, it's annoying," Xellos snapped, his face automatically matching his words. It took more effort to control his expressions in his current state, more so adding the fact that he was tired.
Filia gave Xellos a perplexed look, "stop what? I'm not doing anything."
"Stop pitying me," he glared darkly with more of a monster look to him than when he actually was a monster.
Filia bit her lip, instantly being consumed by the guilt of her own kindness. She was hurting Xellos by trying to help him and she didn't understand why it bothered her so much. Would it be better for him if she just pointed and laughed? Did he expect that? He couldn't, not from her... "You can't read my emotions, you can't feed off my frustration," she pointed out.
"I may not be able to taste your guilt, but I know it's there," Xellos admitted. "It's strange, I can sense it and it sticks somehow. I have to remind myself that it's not mine, because it would make no sense for me to have such thoughts." His defenses were crumbling and he knew it. He had been invaded by other people's emotions the whole time he was a human, especially Filia's. So far he had been able to discern her reactions apart from his own, but it was becoming difficult. He supposed it was what humans called identifying with others, even if Filia was a dragon.
The golden dragon was giving Xellos a puzzled and disbelieving look. She shook her head as if her thoughts made no sense. "It couldn't be..."
"What couldn't be?" Xellos inquired. "Something unbelievable, surprising, yet confusing... It's blurry, what's the emotion?" He tried to remember what confusion tasted like and to link it to the feeling he was getting from Filia. "Denial?"
"Wait, just a minute," Filia swiftly stood. "I'll be right back with something to show you." She quickly but quietly left, off to rummage through the supply closet. Paints, brushes and cleaning products and utensils occupied most of the enclosed space. After pushing a box of detergent aside, she spotted what she was looking for. She took the box out of the closet and returned to the living room, thankful that she had not caused an avalanche of falling supplies while she was looking for it.
Xellos observed the box Filia had brought, which she set on the coffee table in front of the couch where they sat. It was a wooden box with spiraling abstract carvings and a mirror on the inside of the lid. Within the box there were many gems, though they were made of glass. It was not a particularly rare set of magically enhanced stones. She only purchased it because the box was cute, even if it ended up in a supply closet when she was cleaning one day. It could be used to play a guessing game of sorts, but those who had the ability it was made to measure would always win.
Filia set the lid aside and offered the box to Xellos' participation in the experiment. "Each of these crystals is infused with magic to represent something. Take any of the crystals and hold it, tell me what it represents."
Xellos gave her a look that indicated he wasn't sure what in the world she was trying to do, but it sounded like nonsense. He played along anyway and picked up a random crystal. The round clear gems were all identical in appearance, but when Xellos touched one, he immediately noticed something unusual. "Fear? Whose fear is this? Certainly not mine." Oh no, he kept anything resembling fear locked away as tightly as he could. Such a thing had no reason to pop out.
Filia extended her hand and received the gem from Xellos. She put the clear crystal on the mirror in the box's lid and placed her hand over it. "Yeah, that's fear alright." She removed her hand as if it had been metaphorically burned. "Try again."
"Is there a point to this?" Xellos picked up another crystal. "Happiness," it was odd, the gems were giving off emotions. Those must be the incantations placed into them. "Wait a minute, is this... it can't be." Filia's earlier disbelief became clear to Xellos. The golden dragon repeated the process with the next crystal on top of the mirror. She felt the happiness, another correct conclusion. They continued at the same pace until Xellos only had one crystal left. "This is... attachment? Protectiveness? Loyalty? Foolishness maybe? This is... strange. I can't feel any taste from it; this is different from how I sensed emotions before. I would know it if I could taste it."
"It's love," Filia pointed out, it was the last crystal left. "You got them all right," except for that last one, which seemed confusing to him, but that was expected given his previous nature. Xellos was all too eager to put the crystal down. "This is a test. Normally, people can't feel anything just from holding these crystals, but touching them while they are on top of the enchanted mirror makes it so that anyone can sense the incantations meant to simulate emotions. You can sense it either way."
"It doesn't mean anything," Xellos insisted with the smallest most well hidden hint of embarrassment. "As a monster I could taste emotions and feed off fear, anger and the like. I can sense these things because I'm truly a monster, even if I'm currently trapped as a human. That's the explanation."
Filia shook her head in disagreement. "I can sense your energy. Regardless of what you originally were, you're a human now. You shouldn't have this ability, even I don't have it. This is a rare and sometimes underrated unique ability. It's a little unbelievable and ironic I'll admit." Filia couldn't help it but to laugh at the strange twists and turns life sometimes presented. "I suppose your long life and many experiences as a monster have given you the ability to keep a cool head and discern your own emotions from those of others. That's why you are not to be easily swayed by your ability. Even so you are without a doubt..."
"Don't say it," Xellos really didn't want to hear it being confirmed as if thrown in his face.
Filia smiled, "you're an empath."
Xellos pouted stubbornly and crossed his arms over his chest, "I think we both know I'm not an empathic person."
"True," Filia admitted, "but you have the abilities of an empath. You can feel what others feel as if it came from you. You're smart enough to control your abilities and keep a good grip on logic, yet nonetheless you have the gift of empathy and it's nothing to be ashamed of."
To be Continued