Xellos and Filia had a nice meal at the Golden Dragon Cafe. Even if Filia had taken advantage of Xellos invitation by purchasing a large amount of food to feed the townspeople, things were progressing relatively well; the key word being 'were'. Just as they were starting on Xellos' favorite part of any meal: dessert, the young waiter who had been serving their food the whole evening approached nervously. "Excuse me, Mr. Metallium; it seems there's a... situation."
"What situation?" Xellos asked calmly. He couldn't imagine anything happening that could really affect him. Plus the waiter looked like he was easy to upset, he was probably overreacting.
"Well... you see... The local inn and the Golden Dragon Cafe belong to the same person, thus their respective managers are familiar with each other. A letter arrived recently, but the inn keeper had been unable to locate you for information, though he did mention it to the manager of this cafe. I was told about it, but I kind of forgot... You see, Mr. Metallium..." The waiter shifted nervously some more, staring at his feet. "It seems your account's funds are... insufficient."
Xellos raised an eyebrow in disbelief while Filia began to worry. "Insufficient?" Xellos questioned. "I'm sure there must be a mistake. Do you even understand how this works?"
"Yes, sir, I do," the waiter assured. "The establishments you visit accept your signature as a form of payment and bill the central bank where your account is. They later take care of sending someone to deliver the payment." It was something similar to how royals did it, passing the bill to their kingdom's treasury instead of carrying a huge load of money in their travels. The practice was later adopted by rich families even if they were not of royal blood. "However, instead of the payment arriving, a courier came with a letter claiming that your account was... empty." Given the considerable expenses Xellos had underwent, generous tip aside, there was no way he had enough money concealed in his person to pay for everything.
"There's no need to worry," Xellos still kept his cool, certain that there had to be a mistake and it shouldn't be too hard to fix. "I'm sure it was all a mistake, in fact, a letter correcting this misunderstanding will probably arrive before we're done with dessert."
"If you say so..." The waiter didn't look like he believed it, but didn't want to continue insisting. "I will leave you to enjoy your dessert then." After excusing himself, the waiter left.
"I knew that fake account of yours had to blow up in your face eventually," Filia scolded after the waiter was gone. She was frowning in that disapproving way of hers in which her eyes screamed, 'I told you so' even if she had not exactly done so.
"My account is not fake," Xellos defended. "Lord Beast Master runs a lot of businesses and has more followers than anyone would admit. A lot of merchants make their fortune with the help of monsters. Human businesses like that and businesses that are directly operated by monsters for various purposes such as research, as is the case with Celo, all pay income taxes to Beast Master. The merchants think that Zelas Metallium is a business woman who worships Lord Beast Master and thus has adopted such a name. They see her as a rich lady to be cautious about, but they believe she's human, or mostly so. The rumors still go around that she made a pact with Lord Beast Master, but making pacts with monsters is more common among merchants than most would ever admit. They're too stupid to realize she is Beast Master, or maybe they know, but they're too afraid of the consequences of openly admitting it. Zelas has funds automatically transferred to my account at the start of each month, so that I'll have a good budget to work with while spying."
"But you're not working right now," Filia reminded. "You haven't been doing a whole lot of work since the entire curse thing started and Zelas wasn't exactly pleased with you when we last saw her. What if she stopped paying you?"
"Even if my budget was suspended, I would still have enough money to last a while in my savings," Xellos insisted. "I'll take care of this; I'll just send a letter to Zelas' accountant. If I summon a monster courier bird, the letter will be delivered through the astral side in no time."
"I have a bad feeling about this," Filia warned.
Xellos ignored her, instead signaling the waiter to approach the table. He requested pen and paper to be brought over, which the waiter swiftly fetched, once again leaving Xellos and Filia to have some privacy at their table. Xellos quickly wrote a letter, short and to the point, addressed to the monster that took care of organizing Zelas' financial undertakings. Such ventures were lucrative in both money and all kinds of gourmet negative emotions to feast on. "Swiftly deliver the letters, by the trail of astral feathers!" The monster courier bird, Jarde, answered to the summoning and started pecking at Xellos' pie. "I didn't call you here to eat!" Xellos pulled the bird away from the pie. "Deliver this letter to Erosnum right away."
Jarde chirped in response and pecked at the pie some more as soon as Xellos let him go. He dodged when Xellos tried to grab him away and flew straight towards the ceiling, disappearing into the astral side before he crashed into it. Seconds evolved into minutes, until Jarde finally returned with a reply letter.
Xellos took the letter and started reading it while Jarde took the opportunity to continue pecking at Xellos' pie. Erosnum's letter was simple and to the point, being more so a note than a letter. It was written in plain white paper with black ink. "General Xellos Metallium: Due to your recent expenses at Amor Resort and other establishments, your account has suffered a considerable deficit. The maximum grace period to amend the red numbers has already expired. Enclosed is Lord Beast Master's judgment in the matter. Detailed account statements and transaction logs may be requested if needed. -Erosnum, Lead Accountant." There was another white paper behind that one, adorned with golden lining that framed the short message written in red ink. "You spend too much. I'm cutting your allowance. -Zelas" Xellos stared at the paper as he read over it again and again. What about his spying budget? Was Amor Resort really that expensive? Lina and the others had been billing things to his name, but Xellos didn't think they would burn through his savings this quickly.
"You're in trouble," Filia pointed out. She had just finished eating her dessert and Jarde had finished Xellos'. It didn't look like there would be another letter to be delivered, so the bird faded away into the astral side once more.
"You mean to say we're in trouble," Xellos corrected. "Your food hasn't been paid for and it was your idea to buy food for the townspeople."
"You're taking me out to dinner, it's your treat," Filia argued.
"You inconsiderate dragon," Xellos made an exaggerated dramatic expression. "Does this mean that you were after my money all along? Here I thought it was my amazing good looks that had you head over heels."
Filia rolled her eyes at the drama, determined not to let Xellos' mockery annoy her too much. "Be serious, we need to come up with a plan to get out of this! I don't have nearly enough money on me to cover all the expenses and I don't think you do either. Even if we pool our resources we'll still fall short."
"By a lot," Xellos confirmed. "This means that our only choice is to eat and run."
"We can't do that!" Filia argued firmly. She wanted to hold on to at least a shred of decency and basic principals.
"It's not like you haven't done that before," Xellos reminded. "When in Lina's company, situations such as this one happen often."
"That's no excuse!" Filia argued. She realized she was raising her voice too much and tried to keep it down, so as to not attract the unwanted attention of the nervous waiter while they were still plotting an escape. "Alright, let's go, it looks like we have no choice but to sneak out. But just so you know, I'm displeased with our date. We could have just raided Arcius kitchen, made a picnic basket and dined under the stars in a flower covered little hill."
"Why didn't you suggest that from the start? I'm not a mind reader," Xellos argued.
"I don't expect you to be, the truth is that I just thought of it," Filia admitted. "Maybe next time."
"Except for the part about flowers since this whole land is barren and dead." There was a lot of cheer put into the words 'barren and dead', but that was nothing unusual for Xellos.
The pair was about to sneak away towards the nearest exit, when three tall muscular men surrounded them. They were wearing martial arts uniforms that looked like the sleeves had been torn off. Their uniforms were red, blue and green respectively and they were all wearing black belts. They looked identical to each other with dark brown eyes and messy short black hair, as if they were triplets. "You're not going anywhere," the man in red warned.
"Yeah, the boss said you might try to escape without paying!" The man wearing blue added.
"These rich guys think they can get away with anything," the man in green criticized. "That is until their fortune runs out and they're left with nothing."
"Don't worry, honey, we're not blaming you for this, it's just your boyfriend that's in trouble," the man in red tried to assure Filia.
"Or maybe we should say he's your ex-boyfriend. Make the smart choice next time, sweetheart, strength over money," the man in the blue uniform laughed.
"That's right, cutie!" The man wearing green flexed his muscles, "this is a fortune that won't run out."
Xellos glared, not only were these men challenging him, but they were also flirting with Filia. He had a few things that he wanted to say to them that went as follows: "darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond-"
"Stop!" Filia interrupted Xellos' chant. "I don't want you to use magic on them. These... guards," or whatever they were, "are only doing their job."
"What do you want me to do then? Go wash dishes in the kitchen?" Xellos sarcastically inquired.
xoxox xox xoxox
Ten minutes later, Xellos and Filia were washing dishes in the kitchen, with Xellos grumbling under his breath every ten seconds or so. "This isn't so bad," Filia tried to encourage him.
"Oh no, it's wonderful," Xellos replied with heavy sarcasm. "A night of washing dishes in a stuffy old kitchen is my idea of a perfect date."
Filia rolled her eyes at Xellos' little hissy fit and gave him a quick kiss, which caught him off guard. "Thanks for doing what I asked and not using magic on those guys. I'm happy you kept your end of the bet."
Filia was pleased, genuinely pleased, as Xellos could sense it via empathy, she wasn't only trying to cheer the mood. It made no sense to him. "The strangest things make you happy," he shook his head in confusion. "If I couldn't sense it, I would seriously doubt that you're okay with how this so called date turned out."
"You listened to me, that counts for a lot," Filia explained. "In fact, I think I'll reward you."
"You will?" Xellos grinned; maybe the night could still be saved after all.
"Yes, I'm going to teach you that useful spell I promised, even if you lost the bet," Filia cheerfully offered.
Xellos frowned, "that's the best reward you can come up with?"
"Just wait until you see this spell, it's super useful," Filia insisted. "Plus it can help us get out of here sooner and it will help prevent situations like this from happening in the future."
That did sound useful, though Xellos couldn't imagine what the spell could be about, if Filia was clearly against blowing up the guards and making an escape. "By all means, I'm listening."
"It's a cleaning spell!" Filia cheerfully revealed. "We can use it to do the dishes. Then you can learn to do your own laundry instead of spending unnecessary money on the inns' laundry service whenever we reach a new town. You don't have money to burn anymore, so you need to learn to manage a tight budget and take care of your chores instead of hiring a service."
Xellos' disappointment resurfaced in his expression. "I don't want to learn a cleaning spell," he complained.
"Don't you want to get out of here? I don't want to cause any more trouble and getting the dishes done will be faster if we both help with the spell," Filia argued. "It's actually a combination of different spells," she began to explain.
Xellos considered covering his ears and singing some silly random 'I'm not listening' song, but he knew that wouldn't get him anywhere. Plus that cleaning spell could really be useful for his survival until he managed to get his power, and his salary, back. Though it wasn't an actual salary as much as a resource to use in Zelas favor, that Xellos sometimes used for himself. He wasn't expecting to get any direct rewards for doing his duty of serving Lord Beast Master, as it was what she created him for after all.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few minutes later, Xellos and Filia had divided the different parts of the cleaning spell among themselves, making for a faster process. Filia kept the soapy water spinning in mid air and Xellos used magic to levitate the dishes through the miniature cyclone. At the speed they were going, it looked like they would be done with the dishes pretty quickly. Unfortunately, they were interrupted by the three muscular guards from before, suddenly entering the kitchen and tackling Xellos without a warning.
"I have him!" The man in the blue uniform exclaimed.
"I have him too!" The man wearing green added.
"I'll do it!" The man in red announced.
"Let him go!" Filia yelled angrily. She had been keeping an eye on Xellos the whole time. He was helping with the dishes, he wasn't causing any trouble. This wasn't fair!
"I got it!" The man in red announced triumphantly and the other two released Xellos.
Xellos saw that the man in the red uniform was holding a pair of scissors on one hand. He looked at what he held up in his other hand and found it to be a lock of hair, shiny black hair, his hair. "You cut my hair," Xellos growled with growing rage.
"Yes, and with this as proof that you're our hostage, your mom's going to have to pay a big ransom to get you back!" The man wearing red announced with an evil laugh that was echoed by his two identical brothers.
"I don't think Zelas is going to- eek!" Filia didn't even have time to finish stating her opinion when Xellos lifted her skirt and retrieved the mace she kept strapped to her leg. He then went on the attack like a berserk creature pounding the three men with the mace. Filia had told him not to use magic and Xellos was determined to make the best of this opportunity before she requested that he refrain from physical attacks as well. As the fight broke lose, the Golden Dragon Cafe's staff ran for cover so as to not be caught by a stray hit.
Xellos swung Filia's heavy mace at the man in red, being dragged along with the momentum which caused him to spin, miss the target and instead hit the green clad opponent, who was rushing in for a surprise attack from behind. The man in green stumbled back and stepped on the blue uniformed man's foot, who pushed him angrily. Xellos ducked, causing the man in green to trip over him into the one in red. Again Xellos lifted the mace with every ounce of non-magical strength he could muster and swung it at the man in blue, who caught it with a confident smirk. Xellos pulled the mace back, but his opponent didn't let it go, pulling it towards himself. Finding an opportunity in this, Xellos pushed the mace forward, aided by the blue clad enemy's stubborn resolve to take the weapon. The mace collided harshly with the blue guard's abdomen, leaving him out of breath.
By then, the men wearing red and green had recovered from their stumble and attacked Xellos from the left and right. Xellos ducked out of the way and retreated backwards; leaving the red and green uniformed guards to crash into each other and stumble in a dizzy daze in different directions. The man in blue managed to catch his breath, though he was wounded. He launched forward while at the same time the recovering man in red tried to grab Xellos from behind. Xellos tried to ready the mace to defend himself once more, but as he managed to lift it over his shoulders for a good strike, the weight was too much and the weapon ended up pulling him back. As a result, Xellos fell backwards with the man in blue jumping over him. Simultaneously, the mace crashed landed on the foot of the red clad fighter, who hollered in pain and instinctively bent over lightly, enough for his head to be in the unfortunate path of his blue dressed brother's attack.
Xellos rolled away just in time to avoid being crushed by the combined weight of the red and blue warriors. The fighter in green dashed after him, with Xellos running in circles around the beat up red and blue warriors who were trying to get up from their pitiful pile on the floor. Unexpectedly, Xellos stopped running and swung the mace low like a golf club, hitting the green fighter's leg as he dashed to catch Xellos. The green uniformed guard crashed into his red and blue dressed brothers, just as the two had managed to get back on their feet and back in a pile on the floor the triplet warriors went. Again they hurried to their now limping feet and charged towards Xellos. He was not as physically strong as the trio in human form, but had a clear advantage in speed. Xellos jumped out of the way as the trio of warriors crashed into the wall behind him, demolishing the division between the kitchen and storage room.
The sacks of flour, salt, sugar and dust-like spices that were piled against that very wall in the storage room, were torn apart making a thick cloud invade the atmosphere around Xellos. Shocked by the fierce battle, Filia could only react by blowing the cloud away, or at least trying to. She wanted to finally find an opportunity to jump in, though it didn't look like Xellos needed any rescuing from the three big guys. However, since the windows were closed, the cloud had no where to go and though it was kept away from Filia, it focused in the area opposite to her, where Xellos was still fighting the three men. It was like a scene from a comic book with a thick cloud of dust, or in this case dust-like ingredients, covering a big fight scene. Filia had enough of it.
Upset at the whole situation, the golden dragon concluded that those trapped in the thick cloud couldn't see her any more than she could see them. Thus she used the moment of privacy to transform into a dragon, tearing apart the building's roof as she did. Filia blew away the cloud that covered the action to reveal her true form to all those who had been hidden inside it. The three men stared in disbelief, not knowing where the dragon had come from so suddenly. With an angry growl, Filia picked up Xellos and stomped away, while the three beat up men screamed in a panic, scared out of their minds at seeing a ferocious dragon so close. Sure, the golden dragons were supposed to be the town's protectors, but that one looked very angry.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 059: Past! Details That History Forgot
Filia squeezed in between two buildings into a deserted alley, where she put Xellos down. She made a double check that no one was looking before she transformed back into her human, or rather elf, form.
"For a second there I thought you were going to find some tower to climb so you could sit on top of it holding me prisoner and roaring at the top of your lungs," Xellos joked.
"That's just a false stereotype in fairy tales, princess," Filia retorted. If she was the ferocious dragon, then that left him as the damsel in distress.
"If you must, I would prefer to be called prince," Xellos calmly requested with the most annoying air of confidence he could muster as he fingered the mace's handle, balancing it on the ground.
"Yeah, right, the prince of annoyances!" Exasperated, Filia snatched away the mace and put it away under her skirt. She wasn't sure if she should get angry at Xellos, at the three men or at herself. She didn't want to cause trouble, but she ended up losing her temper and ruining the Golden Dragon Cafe, which would need heavy repairs before it could get back to business. Plus the staff that didn't retreat far enough during the beginning of the fight, along with the three fighters, might get the wrong idea from witnessing a golden dragon destroying the place like that.
On the other hand, Filia's reaction was only due to the fight that Xellos started. Albeit she knew it wasn't exactly fair to blame it on Xellos. He did snatch away her precious mace from under her skirt, but he did it in self defense. Filia knew that she would have a worse reaction if anyone attacked her hair. If she had been the victim of that particular assault, the barren lands around the town would look livelier than what would be left of the town after her wrath. Plus there was the fact that he still kept his word about not using magic to attack his opponents. Sighing hopelessly, Filia gently touched Xellos' bruised face causing him to wince involuntarily. "Looks like those guys landed a few hits too."
"I was winning," Xellos defended, not that Filia seemed to be interested in that.
She felt guilty that she didn't interfere sooner and prevent Xellos from getting hurt, but at least he didn't seem to have any broken bones. He was considerably bruised, with a few light cuts and rips in his clothes, which were anything but clean. "I'll heal you," she offered, noticing that Xellos looked distracted and... shocked?
The cause of Xellos' surprise was behind Filia at the alley's exit, away from her line of vision. Celestina Ilumina, or rather the being pretending to be her, was standing there. Filia turned to see what Xellos was looking at and caught a glimpse of the white haired golden dragon. The second she looked into her golden eyes, there was a blinding bright light that made Filia close her eyes. When she opened her eyes again, everything had changed, though she didn't notice it right away. What she did notice was that the mysterious dragon was no longer there.
A man with a physique similar to Philionel suddenly approached, running from the side of the alley opposite to Filia and coming up behind Xellos. The man had short black hair and pale green eyes. "Dragon!" He exclaimed as soon as he spotted Filia. "Don't just stand there, boy, run!" Without any further explanations, the man picked up Xellos, threw him over his shoulder and ran away.
"Come back here!" Filia screamed at the top of her lungs and took off after the man.
Filia's voice alerted the attention of two armored men who were walking down the street. "There he is!" One of them called out as the pair hurried to join the chase.
At the other side of the alley, the tall man hurried down the backstreet with Xellos still thrown over his shoulder. "Put me down!" Xellos angrily demanded as he flailed around helplessly. He was tired and beaten from his previous non-magical combat experience and he really didn't want to deal with stupid people kidnapping him because they thought Zelas would pay to get him back. They would be sorely disappointed.
"Quiet down, boy," the man attempted to sound soothing, but it came out as a growl. "I'm saving you from that vicious creature that held you prisoner. We humans need to stick together if we're going to escape from those evil dragons!"
Okay, so this wasn't a greedy man looking for ransom money, this was an insane man looking for trouble. "Idiot! I wasn't in any real danger back there; I don't need to be saved!" Sure, he was looking beat up, but that wasn't Filia's doing, she was about to heal him. Besides, weren't the people of that town supposed to like golden dragons? Though most seemed to have mistakenly assumed Filia was an elf. The golden dragons had not visited the town for so long that they expected it to be a big event if one did.
"Poor boy, that dragon must have really messed with your head," the stubborn man insisted. He glanced back to see Filia dashing after him along with two armored men with pointy ears. They too were dragons. Furthermore, there was an even larger number of elf form dragons wearing armor gathering to block the path ahead. Where had so many come from? Why were they there? "Oh no! We're surrounded!"
The armored guards formed a circle around the tall man and Xellos, blocking Filia's path. Filia was starting to fear that the dragons knew who Xellos was and had come to kill him. Yet strangely, they appeared to be more interested in capturing the tall man.
"Fireball!" Xellos exclaimed, breaking his word to refrain from using magical attacks given the fact that this was an emergency.
"He knows magic! Restrain him!" One of the armored guards called out. Xellos was quickly outnumbered and in his exhausted state there was little he could do against so many dragons.
"Let me through!" Filia tried to force her way into the circle of guards, but another guard stopped her.
"Calm down miss, your property will be returned to you. Please come with us to the station." The armored dragon looked as if he didn't know her or Xellos.
Filia was left in shock. This wasn't a hunt for a weakened minion of Lord Beast Master, this was an arrest of some sort. The part about her property made Filia think that the tall man might be a thief and that the guards, who knows where they came from, assumed that he stole something from her. The entire scenario made little sense, but she played along and followed the guards. As she walked, Filia noticed that the town looked different. She didn't recognize any of the buildings and she was especially surprised by the large number of dragons in town.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos and the large man were harshly tossed into a cage that held two other humans. They're forms were frail and thin, they were covered in rags, their faces so filthy and bruised that Xellos couldn't even tell if they were male or female. The humans didn't say anything, scooting away against the bars as if they wanted to show they had no intentions of associating with the newcomers. They seemed to hold anger towards the tall man, but they only showed it with their eyes.
"There goes another failed attempt," the tall man sighed. "You surprised me with that magic of yours, boy, too bad it wasn't enough."
Xellos tugged at the metal collar they forced around his neck. "It'll be enough now," he wasn't certain what was going on. The dragons seemed to assume he was an ordinary human. Regardless, he didn't want to stay there. "Darkness beyond-ah!"
"Be careful boy," the big man warned all too late. "That collar they put on you will shock you if you use magic. It's different from the restraint circlets they put on some prisoners. That's an extra strength edition you got there, I doubt you'd be able to endure it."
"You could have said that sooner!" Xellos yelled as he tried to ease his aching body into a sitting position.
"Quiet in there!" One of the armored dragons peeked into the room with the cage, then shut the door again after the order was given.
Xellos looked around the room; most of the cages were empty, though a few still held humans of all ages, mostly young adults, some in worse conditions than others. "What is this place?" Xellos inquired, making sure to keep the volume of his voice low enough so that the guard couldn't' hear him outside the cage room.
"It's a slave trade, boy. What else?" The big man looked as if it should have been obvious. "I would think you would know the story of your life. That dragon you were with, she looked like a sweet girl, but it's obvious she's bad. She wasn't a very good master to you by the looks of it."
Xellos frowned with a deadly glare, "Filia is not my master and my injuries are not her doing." He was still beaten from his fight with the muscle-headed triplets back at the Golden Dragon Cafe as Filia was interrupted before she could heal him.
"So who was she? Your rescuer? There are a few good golden dragons out there. I dare to say that most of them are good. It's just this outdated group that still trades humans as slaves because it's not officially illegal yet. If only it was outlawed they would have to stop, but the higher ups have more important things to deal with. It's been over a hundred years, but the world still hasn't recovered from the War of the Monsters' Fall." The man's face turned sad for a few seconds, before his expression brightened beyond the situation. "Let's keep our hopes up, okay, boy? If that dragon girl was one of the good ones, she'll be back for you, so don't worry, boy."
"My name is not 'boy'." Xellos pointed out in annoyance. The part about the War of the Monsters' Fall taking place over a hundred years ago puzzled him. The old man had to be crazy; it had been over a thousand years since the war.
The man laughed loudly. "Sorry boy, when you're as old as me, any young man is a boy by comparison." He was around thirty, although his many experiences and close calls in life made him feel much older. "The name's Sakel. What should I call you instead of boy?"
Xellos thought it was a bad idea to reveal his name, even if he could say it was just a coincidence that he happened to be called the same as that monster who was a prominent figure in the war. "Your majesty will do just fine."
Sakel laughed loudly, not caring if he got the attention of the dragon guards. "You have a sense of humor, that's important in these hard times!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia followed the armored dragons into a building resembling a police station. "Have a seat miss, the paper work will be done soon and don't worry, everything will be okay." The young dragon with dark blond hair and brown eyes smiled as if trying to ease Filia's nervousness. He obviously had no idea why she was really worried. "Hey Cleo," he addressed a female dragon sitting behind a desk. "Could you get the paperwork done for the lady? She's here to claim her human, who was stolen by that troublesome Sakel."
"In a minute, Narez," Cleo, was a very petite woman with pale platinum hair and light green eyes in elf form, but she was ironically larger than most golden dragon males in dragon form. That was probably due to the fact that her father was a dimos dragon, albeit she looked more like her golden dragon mother. "Lady Ul Copt will be here for Sakel soon, no doubt about it. She always says she'll discipline him better, but he always escapes and causes trouble. I don't know why she even bothers."
Filia tensed at the mention of Lady Ul Copt, though it was clear that the two dragons were not talking about her as they continued their conversation without sparing her a glance. "If she doesn't bail him out they'll kill him," Narez, the young guard, reminded.
Cleo rolled her eyes, "that's not our problem. We just need to do our job." She seemed rather displeased with her job, but quietly accepted it.
"Sometimes I think that doing our job isn't quite enough..." Narez remarked ambiguously.
Cleo raised an eyebrow warningly, then shook her head and turned her attention back to her paperwork. Filia sat quietly in a small waiting area across from Cleo's desk, staring at the floor. She didn't understand this. Where had they taken Xellos? Why did they act as if they knew nothing about her? Most golden dragons knew about Filia, the survivor from the Fire Dragon clan who got kicked out of their society for sheltering an ancient dragon. They knew to steer clear of her if possible and defend themselves if she ever picked a fight, which she had not. She glanced at Narez, who smiled reassuringly, then she noticed something peculiar about his armor. Golden dragons didn't wear that particular style of armor anymore. The design was something she had seen in a history book and it was outdated by several hundred years.
A lady entered the station flanked by two men wearing dragon robes rather than armor, perhaps part of her personal guard. "Greetings, my apologies for troubling you so late in the night."
"It's no trouble at all, Lady Ul Copt," Narez clearly had a lot of admiration for the older dragon woman as he bounced over to her immediately and kissed her hand. "Besides, we have the night shift, so we have to stay up all night anyway."
"Ah yes," Lady Ul Copt smiled politely with no real cheer in her expression. She noticed a young female dragon looking at her from one of the chairs in the waiting area, but the younger woman looked at the floor immediately as soon as their gazes met.
Filia could feel herself trembling. She knew that lady and there was a reason why they shared not only a surname, but also similar features with the main distinction between them being that Filia was younger. Her suspicions were confirmed when Cleo turned a paper over on her desk so that it faced the lady. "Lady Faili Ul Copt, if you would please sign here, we will return your confiscated property to you."
"Of course," Faili signed the paperwork without even reading it. She had read that form so many times she had the whole document memorized. Filia tensed even more, Faili Ul Copt, that was her married name. Filia couldn't believe it, this was the woman she had been named after, Faili, known to Filia as grandma Fai. She passed away in the Darkstar incident. How could she be here and several centuries younger by the looks of it?
"Miss, excuse me, miss..." Cleo's voice got Filia out of her thoughts and she jumped to her feat in a startle. "Sorry, I didn't mean to surprise you. No offense, but you look a bit out of it. I guess not everyone is used to being awake at these hours of the night. I know I had to get used to it when I started in this job." She motioned to the chair across from her desk which Faili had recently vacated. "Have a seat, read the forms and sign them when you're ready. This here is the claim form, and this is a bill for the collar. I think it is best if you purchase it and keep it on, if your slave causes damage with his magic, it will be billed to you." Cleo placed down a pen next to the paperwork and watched as Filia nervously took a seat across from her in front of the desk. "Try to relax, it's not like you're in any real trouble or anything."
Filia nodded and tried to play along. "Right..." She read the paperwork, still confused about their nature. It was almost as if... as if this was the era of that town's dark past when humans were traded as slaves there, before the golden dragons officially outlawed it. The old style architecture, the outdated design of the armor, seeing her grandmother alive and younger then Filia could remember her; it was as if they had been thrown into the past.
Filia knew that her grandmother had a soft spot for humans. No doubt about it, she had to be trying to free the town, playing along with their rules until she could permanently solve the situation and Filia was there to witness it. Though the historical recollection of the peace treaty that ended up with the establishment of the Golden Dragon Cafe was short and widely ignored, Filia knew a little about it, even if she wasn't sure about the accuracy of the information. A golden dragon and a human joined together to conduct negotiations, which made the golden dragons more openly recognize humans as beings of intelligence and importance.
Maybe Filia would see the real historical event as it happened. Perhaps the name of the dragon that was withdrawn by the records was actually that of her grandmother. She still didn't know how in the world she got thrown to the past, but it was both worrisome and exciting. She only hoped she could be reunited with Xellos without incident so they could start working on figuring out what to do next.
xoxox xox xoxox
The door to the room with the cages was opened and Faili entered along with her personal guards and an armored guard. She glared at Sakel displeased. She had freed that human several times and he kept going back to free the others in the most troublesome ways. Why couldn't he just stay away and allow her to rescue the others by purchasing their freedom little by little? Why couldn't he hide behind her rank like a sane human would do? She was trying to protect him for crying out loud. All he did was pretend to be strong and risk his life when he should just be accepting her charity. Wordlessly, Sakel was taken out of the cage and escorted out by Faili's personal guards.
Narez joined his armored companion in the cage room soon after, "don't close it, I have to get that other one out too."
"Right, out you go, human," Xellos really wanted to blow up the whole town. Being treated as a weak human, worse yet, a human who was a slave to the golden dragons, was too much for him to put up with. But he was worried about Filia and made a huge effort not to blow his temper before he confirmed her safety. Besides, in his current state, picking a fight would be suicide.
Xellos was let out to the front area of the station, where Filia was waiting with a warning expression that screamed 'don't do anything' louder than words. "I apologize for the trouble, I'll be going now." She told Cleo and Narez, who nodded casually as if this was all every day business to them, though they didn't seem to be at all pleased with it. Giving Xellos one last warning look, Filia exited the station with him. They swiftly made their way walking out of town in silence. They had a lot to talk about, but they wouldn't do that until they were at a safe distance.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 060: Rage! Painful Grudges
Xellos and Filia made their way out of the town and towards a field of flowers that reminded Xellos of the garden in Celestina's villa. She was no doubt responsible for this, but why? "I have the key," Filia revealed a small key that could remove the magic suppressing collar Xellos had and he was all to glad to be rid of it. "This may sound crazy, but I think we're in the past. The buildings look like ancient structures, the dragons are dressed like in the past and I think I saw my grandmother."
"Then that man who said the War of the Monsters' Fall happened over a hundred years ago wasn't crazy after all," Xellos concluded. He had noticed the style of the environment being similar to the past as well, even if it was hard to believe.
"How could this have happened? I only remember seeing that light that came from that dragon and we were here," Filia recalled. "Who was that white haired dragon?"
"A descendant of one of the few survivors of the war within the barrier, which must still exist in this time. She was supposedly killed by Fibrizo, but reappeared after his death. Her father was quick to climb the ranks after Fibrizo's defeat and holds an important position with the golden dragons now, or I should say in our time." Xellos explained, "that's the official version at least." He knew it was best to tell Filia the whole truth, or at least as much of it as he knew. "She was supposed to be the person Lina, Gourry and I set out to capture to get your golden dragon citizenship back, but the real Celestina really was killed. That woman is someone else, so we retreated."
"She's someone powerful, I assume," Filia's face turned serious as she thought about the situation. "Who's powerful enough to time travel? That's supposed to be impossible even for the strongest dragons and monster lords."
"Yes, I believe the only being in existence who is that powerful is the Lord of Nightmares and that is who she is," Xellos revealed. As expected, Filia only stared at him in disbelief. "I know it's hard to swallow, but that's the truth. You've heard stories about Lina's adventures before, during those campfire nights when she's not in the mood to sleep. After we left Celestina's villa, Lina mentioned her first meeting with the Lord of Nightmares, which happened during the battle against Fibrizo, as if she could remember it, but she had claimed to hold no memories of it before. I didn't inquire too much about it, I didn't need to. I somehow caught a glance of the Lord of Nightmares, or I was allowed to see her for a split second. A bright golden light shining upon an endless sea of chaos. A golden light, that's her true form, or perhaps her form is something beyond our comprehension and we simply see her that way. She's been awake since Lina's fight with Fibrizo, but she doesn't seem to be planning to return the world into chaos just yet. Of course, she could have changed her mind and in the end, even if she doesn't destroy the world, she can do as she pleases with it."
Slowly allowing the truth to sink in, Filia managed to find her voice, "why would she send us here?"
"I don't know," Xellos admitted, "maybe for amusement. This is the Lord of Nightmares we're talking about. A being of infinite power who just woke up from a very long nap might be in the mood for some amusement."
"But we're not her toys!" Filia argued.
"To her, we might be," as much as Xellos hated to admit it, he knew it to be true. "There's really not much we can do except to play along and make the best of it."
Filia let out an anxious breath. "First things first, let me heal you." She began the process to heal Xellos with her magic, spending some time on the task.
"Don't look, but there's someone coming this way," Xellos quietly whispered, just as Filia was finishing up with her healing.
"Who is it?" Filia pretended not to notice.
"A dragon lady that was at the station earlier. She took away Sakel, that big stupid guy that got us mixed up in this," Xellos explained.
Filia's eyes widened. "I saw her," she whispered urgently and discreetly glanced at the approaching dragon woman, who was walking nearer to them in elf form. "Don't say anything, but that's my grandmother."
Xellos managed to contain his surprise and remained silent as Faili approached them, examining him with critical eyes. "Excuse me, travelers; do you have a place to rest? It might be best to wait until morning before you are on your way. I hope it is not to forward of me, but you are welcomed to stay at my place."
Filia thought it was a bad idea to get involved, but she couldn't resist, this was her dear grandmother whom she missed. "If it's not too much trouble, but we really must be on our way early."
"I understand, please come this way," Faili invited. "Perhaps you already know," because everyone who visited that town seemed to have heard of her and the rumors that she was freeing humans, albeit there was nothing illegal about it, it was her money to spend as she wanted. "I am Faili Ul Copt, may I inquired your names?"
"F-" Filia froze, she couldn't tell her grandmother her name, that might make a mess of things.
"What's wrong? Have you forgotten your name, Fluffy?" Xellos smirked.
Filia felt her eye twitch, but she needed an F name to go with so that it matched the sound she started to produce. Then again, perhaps the fact that she didn't want to reveal her identity had become too obvious already. "Fluffy? That's a cute nickname. If you prefer not to say your names, that is alright with me. What should I call you then?" Faili asked Xellos.
"Ice-cream," Filia replied for him. It was the first thing that popped into her mind.
xoxox xox xoxox
Faili led Xellos and Filia to an estate that served as the foundation for Arcius' estate centuries later. The structure had been enforced and practically rebuilt time and again over the years. The interior decorating was in much better taste than anything Arcius would choose, giving the building a calming atmosphere. Faili showed her guests to their rooms. "Please make yourselves at home, friends."
"Thank you," Filia nervously replied, she was happy to see her grandmother, but afraid of having an emotional outburst that would mess up history somehow. Xellos played his part by remaining silent, though he wasn't happy about it.
"If it is alright, Miss Fluffy," Faili couldn't help it but to giggle at the nickname, though she tried to contain her reaction. "I would like to have a word with you."
"Of course," Filia agreed, though it was clear she was still jumpy. Maybe she shouldn't have come. "You should go ahead and get some rest, Ice-cream."
"Don't stay up too late yourself, we have an early start tomorrow, Fluffy," Xellos replied, before going into his assigned room.
Filia twitched at the name but disregarded it quickly enough and followed Faili.
xoxox xox xoxox
Faili and Filia sat at a tea room where Faili insisted on making some tea. "This tea is good for relaxing, you seem rather troubled."
Filia wasn't sure how to reply to that. She kept switching between staring at Faili and trying to hide her face behind her hair. "I'm not exactly comfortable with what's happening in town."
"I understand and I'm glad you would say that. I wasn't sure about you, given the state of your human companion, so I set out to find you. Please pardon my intrusion; I knew my doubts were baseless after I saw you healing him. He really seems to trust you." Faili spoke with a kind tone as she served the tea. "The law will be passed soon to end the activities in town, I'm sure of it. Yet I wish something would happen that could show the golden dragons who have doubts or who quietly accept the happenings of this town that dragons and humans should live in peace as equals."
"Something will happen!" Filia encouraged before she could stop herself. "A dragon and a human will prove that the two races can live in peace and the dragons will acknowledge humans. Maybe if you work as a team with Mr. Sakel..." Filia stopped, she was saying too much.
Faili laughed, "that fool doesn't know what's good for him. I've freed him countless times and he keeps coming back saying that he wants to prove that a human can also be the one to free the ones held captive here. He's far too stubborn and doesn't know how to accept help. It will take quite a cunning and convincing dragon to make things change around here."
Filia's face fell. Though Faili did have mercy for humans she didn't really acknowledge them as strong. She sheltered them and pitied them without realizing it. It was all done with good intentions, but Filia still thought it didn't quite fit in with the ideals of equality she claimed to defend. "I think..." How could Filia properly phrase this? "I think that in order to achieve equality, humans will have to stand up for themselves. It will take more than just an eloquent dragon, it will take teamwork. It will make forgiveness easier if the humans see that a member of their own kind is trusted and acknowledged."
"Forgiveness is never easy," Faili bitterly voiced with a grave expression. "These people have lost loved ones. Only after losing someone myself did I understand that kind of pain."
Realization hit Filia harshly, "your husband..." She knew about this, she had heard about the fact when she inquired about her grandfather as a child.
"Yes," Faili sighed sadly. "My beloved husband fell in battle fighting against that fiend, the monster known as Xellos, shortly before the barrier was completed. It's been over a hundred years, but it is a pain that my son and I will forever remember."
Filia felt her eyes water. Xellos was Beast Master's loyal minion, he killed countless golden dragons in the past, he caused a lot of pain and suffering. He was an enemy to her race. She might not be an official citizen of the golden dragon race anymore, but she was still a golden dragon, she still carried the same blood as her family. "I'm sorry," looking at Faili's hurt expression, seeing the pain in her eyes, it made Filia feel like a traitor.
"Don't cry, dear, we all regret the terrible losses that our comrades suffered and that horrible barrier is still there. Who knows if it will ever be lifted? I can only pray that I will live to see that day." Faili's face went from sad to defiant. "If I could, I would tare that barrier down myself and hunt down that monster. I would avenge my people."
"If you had the chance..." Filia's voice was barely audible. "If you were given the opportunity, you would kill Xellos?"
"Painfully so!" Faili assured with a temper similar to an angry Filia, though with a little more control. "Ah, my apologies for the outburst. Realistically, there's no way a single dragon can slay the horrible monster who destroyed so many of our kind."
Filia was trembling, unable to contain her tears from flowing abundantly from her pain filled eyes. "Revenge never accomplishes anything. It only brings more pain. If I had that chance, I would... I would..."
"Spare him?" Faili huffed. "I was innocent like you once. I thought that all creatures had good in them, even monsters. I know it's a shock for a golden dragon to say such a thing, it's even blasphemous, but I believed. He proved me wrong, Xellos changed my mind about monsters and made me see them for the horrible creatures that they truly are. What sets us dragons, humans, elves and even beastmen apart from monsters is that we have feelings. We feel love and pain, but monsters feed on hate and hold no feelings of their own. They cannot learn from their atrocious actions, they know no guilt, no regret. The only thing left to do to preserve ourselves is to destroy them."
"So it would be different if they had feelings?" Filia insisted in a barely audible voice.
With the bitterness of broken hope, Faili voiced a soft, "if only that were possible." She let out a breath that seemed to carry all her tensions as she tried to get her turmoil of emotion under control. "Back to the subject at hand, I think I see your point. If the humans see that we dragons can understand their pain and stand side by side with them, then maybe they'll forgive." Filia nodded her head, though she kept her eyes low. She tried to dry her tears as best she could, an effort that did not go unnoticed by Faili. "I apologize for upsetting you. I'm sure you must have lost someone in the war too, there doesn't seem to be a golden dragon in existence who has not. Please, get some rest. I'm sure you'll feel better after a good night's sleep."
"Yes," feeling quite shaken, Filia returned to her assigned guest room. Filia knew that she had picked after her grandmother in many ways. Their resemblance had been pointed out by family members in the past, but it wasn't until now that Filia saw how similar they were in more than just looks.
xoxox xox xoxox
Although she was tired, Filia couldn't get to sleep. After her family passed away in the Darkstar incident and her citizenship as a golden dragon was annulled, she eventually moved on and it no longer mattered to her that she was a golden dragon. She was no longer a part of the group and she would carry on minding her own business, leaving the official golden dragons to mind theirs. However, she was still a golden dragon of birth. Her family was gone in her time, but their existence was still important to Filia and she felt that she wasn't honoring them. What would they think if they saw her now? What would they say if they knew how close she was to Xellos? She could disregard the opinion of the dragon race in general, but not that of her closest relatives whom she grew up with.
The movement of the sheets in the dim room, got Filia out of her thoughts. The light of the full moon that seeped in through the glass windows revealed the identity of the familiar shadow getting comfortable next to Filia. "Go away Xellos, I'm not in the mood to... keep you company."
"You're certainly in the mood to give me insomnia," Xellos retorted without much of an edge. He caught the hint of a puzzled look appearing in Filia's obscured features. "The walls aren't thick enough here, I can sense how upset you are from the next room. What's your problem this time? You weren't this scared when we first realized we're in the past."
"It's odd, you're such an annoying trickster that it's easy to forget that you've been around for such a long time. Zelgadis has a lot more maturity than you, even if he's a whole lot younger," Filia began ambiguously. "You're sarcastic, you make mocking jokes and you... you get chocolate all over your face when you eat chocolate ice-cream pie. You can make yourself appear to be as harmless as a child if you want, but you really do have the cunning of all your years, even if some experiences might still be new to you as things stand now."
Xellos really didn't know where Filia was going with all of this. She wasn't exactly criticizing him as much as stating facts, though he could argue that he only got chocolate on his face when he had to rush to eat his pie because it was in danger of being stolen by Lina and that he was a perfectly neat eater when no one was trying to steal his precious pie. It felt all too natural to reply with a sarcastic comment. "Yes, I get it, I'm charming, you adore me, thanks for the reminder." Filia burst into all out crying, which was certainly not the reaction Xellos was expecting her to have to such a light remark. "What's wrong with you, stupid dragon? I sense that you're angry at yourself, but I don't understand why."
"Idiot! Filia got out of bed, pacing around angrily. "You're the one that killed grandpa, that's why I never got the chance to meet him. As for my other grandparents on my mother's side, they got caught inside the barrier, separated from their daughter and you probably killed them too."
Xellos followed Filia and held her by the shoulders to stop her frantic pacing around the room. "Are you realizing this just now? You've known about my past all along and you never made the connection? I don't have my full power now. You could rip my head off before I'm half way done casting a Dragon Slave. You can kill me and be a hero to the golden dragons; they'll welcome you back with open arms. If you want revenge that badly, why don't you take it? What are you waiting for, an apology? I'm sorry for killing a bunch of dragons long before I even met you and I'm especially sorry if any of them were your acquaintances. Oh wait, that's right, you didn't exist back then, well it's too bad you never got to meet any of my war victims." The slap that Filia gave him made it clear for Xellos that sarcasm was a very bad idea.
"You monster!" Filia growled. Monsters were cruel because they felt no pain; there was no guilt to hold them back. "Even if you were following Zelas orders, you had no problems with what you were doing. Of course you didn't, you were created as her slave, that's who you are! More so that's what you are, not a real person, just a tool, a thing to be used for the convenience of someone stronger. You're nothing but a weapon and not even your master has any regard for you, she'll kill you soon because you're not beneficial to have around anymore. You're a useless broken weapon that was tossed away, a real piece of garbage!"
Xellos was shaking with anger, fists and teeth clenched, glare enraged. He wanted to say something that would make Filia shut up, something that would take away that fierce cold look from her eyes, but the only thing he could come up with was an unsure sounding, "I am... my own person... Stupid dragon, you wouldn't understand!" He was done arguing. He didn't want to look at her any more, so he left, he ran out of the room and out of the estate as fast as he could.
Filia stood frozen. Monsters don't have emotions, monsters don't feel pain. Monsters don't laugh, or get annoyed, or have a sense of humor, it's all just acting. Monsters feel no sorrow, monsters can't be hurt. But even long before he was turned into a human, Xellos could make stupid jokes, get annoyed and even be surprised. Humans were not all the same, dragons were not all the same, monsters were not all the same. Filia got her vengeance, she fought back. She knew she managed to hurt Xellos; she got back at him for all the pain she blamed on him. Yet that only made her feel worse, so much worse.
To be Continued