Slayers: Alive - Episode 061: Closer! Breaking Barriers
"Xellos!" He knew Filia would come, though he made good time getting a considerable distance away from the estate.
Xellos only stopped running because he realized that even if he used ray wing, Filia would still somehow catch him, she was a speedy flier in dragon form. He was still determined to ignore her though. Who was she to question what-who he was? He focused on his own thoughts in an effort to tune out her emotions.
"Xellos..." Filia stopped a few feet away from Xellos. He didn't look like he was going anywhere. He was just standing there glaring at the full moon as if he found it terribly offensive.
He was ignoring her and he wasn't planning to stop. So she thought she ignored him before? He would show her what it's like to ignore someone. Then if she got too annoyingly persistent he would sarcastically suggest that she should go talk to her mace instead. It was a weapon too, just as unfeeling as him and it wasn't broken, so it was even better. But that remark would be saved for when she dried the last drop of his will to ignore her, for the time being he would act as if she was invisible... Except he found it to be really hard to pretend Filia was invisible when she was tackling him to the ground in a hug and kissing him as if her life depended on it.
"I'm sorry," kiss, "I didn't mean it," kiss, "please forget what I said," another kiss, "just forget about it." Filia paused to examine Xellos' puzzled expression. "Xellos?"
He blinked, as if being woken up from the focus of trying to figure out something particularly complex and pretended to struggle to get away from under her. "Getting vengeance is one thing, but must I die such a cruel death, being crushed by a fat dragon?"
"Idiot!" Filia punched him on the shoulder, hard enough to hurt, but not with enough force to actually break anything. "You're such a stupid sarcastic annoyance!" Despite her words, she sounded relieved. If Xellos was throwing sarcastic critiques at her, then that meant he didn't want to let go of what they had any more than she did. She settled comfortably on him, feeling more reassured when his arms were wrapped around her body.
"Why did you follow me?" Xellos broke the moment of still silence with a question that lacked his usual sarcasm. His will to ignore Filia had swiftly left him completely.
She looked at his face, without the silly cheerful mask, but she couldn't find any hints that could help her interpret the depth of his question. "What do you mean?"
"You know what I am, what I've done and you have an idea of what I might end up doing. You know there are things that can't be changed and believe it or not, for the most part, I'm actually okay with that," though he had not stopped to give it too much thought. There's no sense in going in circles thinking about the inevitable. "Plus it seems that you end up angry or sad more often than happy," except for that big wave of relief she felt just now. "You're an empath's worse nightmare. You're so moody you give me a headache."
Filia bit her lip as she felt dread bubbling up inside her, but it was kept at bay by a stubborn sense of hope and optimism. "I followed you because I want to be with you," Filia tried to explain. "I was mean and wanted to apologize. I didn't want you to leave thinking that I hate you and never return."
"I suppose it would be difficult to be trapped on your own in the past, with the Lord of Nightmares pushing you around like a chess piece," Xellos acknowledged.
"That's not it!" Filia emphasized, "You know as well as I do that I have a better chance of surviving in this time than you, or in any time and place as things stand now. I'm not here because I'm scared of the Lord of Nightmares, as strange as it sounds, I'm not afraid of her. That golden light... it was intense, but not evil. I'm here for you, because... because I love you."
Another long moment of silence passed. Filia's words were true, her feelings showed it in that overwhelming way she had to show her emotions. She didn't feel half way, she could feel two opposing emotions at times, but even then she felt them both with great intensity and without a warning. She really was an empath's worse nightmare and Xellos' most confusing puzzle. "Why?"
Filia opened her mouth to reply with something along the lines of 'I just do' or perhaps she would blurt out an ambiguous 'I don't know', but instead she closed her mouth again. How could she explain it in somewhat logical terms? "Okay... let's see... You're annoying that's for sure, but your sarcasm has its charms once one learns to read between the lines. You certainly know how to keep things interesting and you're amusing sometimes. Hmm... You know a lot of things and can come up with good ideas, you're interesting I guess."
"You're just stating facts," Xellos interrupted. "Isn't love supposed to be about delusions... I mean illusions?"
Filia pouted and rolled her eyes at the sarcasm, "delusions no, that's not real love. Illusions, maybe, but only if they're shared, if they're more like dreams than illusions, like goals I mean. I guess real love is more complex than fairy tale love. It's more than just having a strong liking for each other, there's a lot of things on the side to deal with. I'm learning that as I go along too. It's being able to deal with all those troublesome aspects and still thinking it's worth it. Enjoying each other's presence and..." his eyes were closed, his breathing even, "Xellos! Don't you dare fall asleep in the middle of my explanation!" Filia glared, just when she was all inspired in her love speech, Xellos stopped paying attention.
"Your speech was boring, cheesy, unpleasant and all around unnecessary," Xellos yawned in an exaggerated way.
"Would you stop making light of everything?" Filia screeched, "I know you're confused out of your mind and absolutely beyond terrified, but I'm trying to make it better! You don't have to keep everything bottled up, try to rely on me a little!"
"Excuse me?" Xellos raised an eyebrow as if he had not heard correctly. "Who ever said anything about being afraid?"
"Not afraid, terrified," Filia corrected mockingly.
"Stupid dragon, the only thing I'm afraid of is that my headache will be made worse if I keep listening to you. I was just wondering about your reasons, but maybe you're not reasoning at all." Xellos looked up at the starry skies leaving his gaze there. "I just don't see what's in it for you, I'm not the only smart and amusing being in the world, but I'm probably the most troublesome for a dragon."
Filia gasped in an overly dramatic way, "Do my ears deceive me? Did the lowly Xellos just admit that he's not good enough for the amazing Filia? Sounds like the Lord of Nightmares got bored and decided to return the world to chaos, because this unforeseen event completely lacking in sense is surely a sign of the end!"
"Filia, you're supposed to get mad and yell nonsensical remarks at the top of your lungs," Xellos reminded in a matter of fact tone. "I'm the one who's supposed to come up with the sarcastic replies that turn everything you say against you. Get it right, stupid dragon."
"I can see past your sarcasm, get it right, raw garbage!" Filia retorted. She let out a deep breath and mused over all the things she had realized. "There are things about the past that can't be changed, the facts are the facts, but people can and do change. There are things about the present and future that are outside of our control, but we can adapt and I think it's worth it. Let's face one day at a time. I'm not going to doubt myself anymore and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. What feels right, that's what's right for me and I won't second guess myself." Filia paused and positioned herself so that Xellos was looking at her face hovering over him instead of gazing at the skies above. "Stop assuming that at any given moment I'll grow a brain and abandon you, because I'm smarter than you give me credit for and I'm still here."
For a split second there was surprise and an expression that told of the sensation of being read like a book. Then Xellos' usual sarcastic grin resurfaced with a hint of something else in his eyes. "You really are a stupid dragon," he pulled Filia down closer and kissed her, until they were both breathless.
xoxox xox xoxox
With all the tensions and adventure, the night had gone by and the sun was starting to rise in the horizon. They sat together for a few more minutes, thinking about what their next move would be. Confusion and uncertainty aside, they weren't worried anymore. They had a certain kind of special confidence that they could take on the world. The energy that came from a strong heart, the same kind of power that even the most powerful being acknowledged, the same kind of power that saved Lina Inverse when she woke the Lord of Nightmares.
Approaching movement caught Filia and Xellos attention. They noticed that Faili was walking towards them. "Good morning, Miss Fluffy, Mr. Ice-cream," she greeted as if she had practiced the line in her head over and over until she could say it with a straight face. "I was taking my usual morning walk when I noticed the two of you here. I take it you also enjoy seeing the sunrise? This hill has a lovely view of it." She let out a soft breath as she gazed into the horizon.
"Yes, it's... very relaxing..." Filia tried to pretend that she wasn't still trying to catch her breath after a major make-out session. She kept her head turned slightly away from Faili with the excuse of admiring the sunrise, allowing her hair to shield her blush like a golden curtain.
"Why aren't you honest and simply tell her we were making-out?" Xellos inquired in his usual innocent yet mocking tone that he loved to use to embarrass Filia.
Filia froze, unable to turn her head and look at Faili. She feared the worse, a terrible expression of disapproval and disappointment. Faili didn't know who Xellos really was, but she still viewed him as a human and Filia was a dragon. Dragons and humans were not supposed to be together as more than friends.
"Making out?" Faili inquired with the innocent puzzlement of someone who holds no accusing suspicions. Then her tone changed to disappointment. "Making your way out of this area without saying goodbye?"
"That's not, we weren't... I mean..." Faili had missed the point and Filia didn't know if she should be thankful or upset that she had something else to deal with.
"My apologies, lady golden dragon, I should have known such a refined lady as yourself would not be familiar with that vulgar human phrase." Xellos' voice was dripping with sarcasm and it made Filia glare in annoyance.
"Ice-cream..." Filia growled in the most threatening tone one could put into such a word.
Not wanting to offend or belittle her new human friend, Faili was quick to excuse herself. "Forgive my ignorance; I would so appreciate it if you would explain what the term signifies in your culture."
"Gladly," Filia was looking distressed while Xellos grinned from ear to ear. "To make out essentially includes, but is not limited to, passionately kissing and cuddling."
Filia's jaw dropped as her face turned scarlet. "That's not... we're not..." she stuttered to excuse herself, but she wasn't getting anywhere fast.
Then suddenly, Faili surprised them both by bursting into a fit of laughter. Between giggles, she remarked, "you certainly have quite a sense of humor Mr. Ice-cream. Oh my, look at poor Miss Fluffy's face, it seems that you've embarrassed her."
"Oh yes, I'm simply too attractive," Xellos joked with a wink, which further served to amuse Faili.
"Oh dear, I have not laughed this much in far too long!" The very amused Faili managed to say between laughs.
"I'm only all too happy to make you smile, my lady." Following up on his act, Xellos kissed Faili's hand, making her giggle like a school girl while Filia's eye twitched.
"You're such a charmer!" Faili caressed Xellos' hair and Filia almost screamed. Gritting her teeth and clenching her fists, Filia counted to ten and reminded herself that this was her dear grandmother, who was petting Xellos on the head as one would pet a particularly cute animal. It was condescending, but Faili was doing all that she consciously could do to treat humans as equals. "I have decided! I must ask for your assistance, please say that you will help me free the town. I cannot bear to let things be for a second longer. Seeing what wonderful friends the two of you are has inspired me. Maybe one day all dragons and humans will have this much trust between them, enough trust to watch the sunrise together and make each other smile. I'll march into town with the two of you and demand that the situation be changed immediately!"
"I'm coming too!" The sudden booming voice that seemed to come out of nowhere, startled all those present, especially Filia and Faili. The two dragons revealed their respective maces and pointed them at the sneaky foe, stopping an inch away from actually hitting him. "Woah, ladies, there's no need to get rough!" Sakel pleaded. He was covered in grass and flower petals that served as camouflage as he became nearly invisible advancing in a low crawl through the grassy field full of flowers.
"Mr. Sakel!" Faili scolded, "why are you here again? I thought I told you to leave this dangerous place at once. It will only be so long before the guards determine that you're more trouble than you're worth and decide to kill you instead of returning you to me. They could easily cover it up and I would never know. Stop trying to throw away your life! Furthermore, why did you sneak up on us?"
"I thought that if I managed to give you a little startle, you'd recognize me as capable," Sakel explained, which only made Faili glare more intensely. "It was all well intended, I wasn't going to do anything bad, I was just going to jump out and say boo!"
"Mr. Sakel," Faili glared as she continued with the most reprimanding tone. It reminded Xellos of when he and Filia argued about which route to take to the Fire Temple and Filia claimed that she couldn't lower herself to agreeing with him. "Do you realize that I could have killed you?" Faili waved her mace around threateningly as she elaborated. "I could have cracked open your fragile skull, sending little splinters of cranium flying all over the place along with a big burst of blood. I could have smashed into your brain, ripping apart your neurons and turning your gray matter into fertilizer for these very lovely flowers. Then your corpse would crash lifelessly into the ground and be abandoned to rot without dignity for the vultures to desecrate. All of us here would be far too horrified by the grotesque sight of a crushed skull with smashed bits of brains dripping out to give you a proper burial. Is that what you were hoping to accomplish, Mr. Sakel?"
Sakel shook his head frantically and stuttered to reply with a terrified, "no, ma'am," he was pale everywhere but the face, where he was turning a vivid shade of green.
With a big happy smile Xellos whispered to the shocked Filia. "Lady Faili certainly has a way with words, she paints quite an in depth mental imagery."
Filia discretely placed her hand on Xellos' shoulder and gave him a warning little squeeze. It was her silent way of saying, 'shut up before I puke.'
"Well, I'm glad that has been clarified," Faili put away her mace and turned to Xellos and Filia with a bright smile as if she wasn't talking about crushed brains just a second ago. "Will you please consider assisting me with my noble mission? Please?" She took both of Xellos' hands in hers, "Mr. Ice-cream, this is your chance to help your fellow humans! Please, say you'll come with me!" Faili leaned close, her eyes shining as she pleaded."
"Of course, I'll go," Xellos had no choice but to agree.
"Thank you Mr. Ice-cream!" Faili cheered. "I shall return home and make ready at once! Please meet me in the outskirts of town so that we may march in together, arm in arm as equal comrades!" She hurried away, running back to her estate at top speed.
"I think she likes humans," Xellos commented, waiting for Filia to freak out in annoyance.
"Of course she likes humans," Filia agreed, missing the true meaning behind Xellos' observation.
"I mean she likes humans as in like-like, in a more than just friends kind of way," Xellos elaborated.
"What?" There was the freak out he expected from Filia. "It's not like that! Not that I have anything against dragons dating non-dragons, but that is simply not the case this time."
Unexpectedly, Sakel burst into tears. "Dragons are too different from humans, they're lives are too far apart. I've been in love with Faili since I was a child and look at me now. She's far older than me, but she looks the same as ever!" Just as suddenly as his crying started, it ceased. "It doesn't matter; having Lady Faili's friendship is more than enough for me!" In another mood swing, he glared at Xellos, "I must still warn you, boy, if you try to charm Lady Faili, I will be very upset!" Sakel shook his fist to signify that it was not a good idea to upset him.
"Oh no, that would be a terribly twisted time travel soap opera," Xellos immediately put Sakel's fears to rest in his own way. "What I mean to say is that I already have Fluffy and she's enough of a handful as it is."
"Then you two are?" Sakel looked back and forth between Xellos and Filia. "I see, good for you! Make sure you enjoy it while you can, because I doubt you'd be able to keep up with a dragon when you're sixty and she still looks twenty-something."
Filia shook her head, "don't be so negative, Mr. Sakel. Though I must say that any advances you make towards Faili will be useless, trust me, I know her better than you could imagine, that doesn't mean that other human and dragon couples can't work out. In fact, even more unusual couples than that can work out, like a dragon and a" monster, Filia stopped herself before she said too much. "Anyway, the point is that there's nothing wrong with dragons and humans being a couple. As long as there's love, they'll enjoy many centuries together... I mean many years."
"Unless you make a pact with a monster and link your life to his, then it's more like many millennia." Xellos innocently suggested, as if the matter didn't involve him at all. "In fact, I bet a dragon could do that too, not necessarily for a life extension, but maybe for power."
"Never! I've never heard of a dragon doing such a terrible thing. No one must ever make pacts with monsters!" Filia shouted horrified. She somehow completely missed the detail that Xellos was basically asking if she was willing to spend many, many, many years with him, though his twisted 'almost marriage' proposal flew well over her head.
Xellos rolled his eyes at the outburst. "I'll remember to ask you again when you're sneezing your head off, hoping that you had monster powers to make you immune to colds. I'm going to be very angry if you sneeze your icky lasers on me."
Sakel shook his head hopelessly. "Boy, if a dragon sneezes a laser on you point blank, not even your ashes will be left." Dusting himself off, Sakel decided it was time to leave. "Well, I better go on ahead, I need to get rid of this camouflage and make myself look presentable. Then maybe Lady Faili will let me tag along with her little group."
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 062: Showdown! Dragons and Magic
As Sakel ran off, Filia let out a breath of contemplation. "No matter how different dragons and humans may be, even if humans live such brief lives, I think there are more similarities than differences." She paused, noticing Xellos' studying stare. "What?"
"Hmm..." He brushed her hair away from her face. "I thought I saw a wrinkle, or was that a zit? Monsters don't get those."
Filia angrily slapped Xellos' hand away. "I'm not making a pact with you!" She stomped her foot stubbornly.
"That's too bad," Xellos grinned as if it wasn't bad at all, but Filia was used to him smiling at gloomy situations. "I bet Lina will be happy though, she'll say something like 'more food for me'." Filia only rolled her eyes and didn't bother to point out that Lina was human and would therefore live a lot less years than a golden dragon. She didn't like to think about stuff like that. "What, you think she won't stick around? Zelas is planning to give the whole crew a life extension if they keep on proving to be useful. Of course, as stubborn as some of them can be, they might not take it, it's still their choice in the end."
"Seriously? Beast Master is planning that far ahead? I guess she must have really liked your reports about Lina and the others," Filia observed. She shook her head and tried to focus on the present, or the past if she was going to get technical. "Let's not worry about that kind of thing right now. We have other business to take care of, hopefully in a way that doesn't mess up history. Let's catch up with Faili and Mr. Sakel before she chases him away with her mace in a well intended effort to stop him from getting into worse trouble in town."
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos, Filia, Faili and Sakel met at the outskirts of town. Faili was wearing some peculiar armor. It was made of gold and it seemed to hug every curve far too well. It would make anyone wonder how in the world they could make such form fitting armor. Her white mini-skirt was far too short in Filia's opinion and unlike her, Faili seemed to have better control over her tail making an unwanted appearance, thus the appendage was nowhere in sight. Her golden armor had many diamonds crafted into it, covering it completely. Faili wore matching golden wrist bands also covered in fine diamonds. Her blond hair was up in a ponytail tied in a golden chain adorned with more diamonds. Her knee length, high heel boots were crafted from gold also covered in diamonds. They looked uncomfortable to walk in, but Faili didn't seem to mind as her long slender legs strode confidently in perfect balance.
As soon as Sakel, who was all cleaned up by then, laid eyes on Faili, he burst into tears, witnessing the amazing beauty of the woman he would never have. "Goodness, Mr. Sakel, are you having some form of emotional meltdown? Or are you ill? I told you time and again not to over excerpt yourself. You must get to safety at once; the situation might get a little rough around here. Oh and Miss Fluffy, please make sure to protect Mr. Ice-cream."
"I cannot leave, Lady Faili! Please allow me to stand by your side during this historical moment!" Sakel cried.
"Like I need protection when I have the Dragon Slave," Xellos grumbled under his breath so that only Filia, who was standing closest to him, heard him over the sound of Sakel's hysterical sobs. "By the way, Filia, how come you don't dress like that? I bet you'd look hot."
Filia looked angry for a moment, then a burst of cunning shone through, follow by an avalanche of love. She was focusing her feelings, using them against Xellos as a distraction. She smiled and batted her eye lashes, the seemingly random behavior confusing Xellos further, leaving him disarmed. She approached and wrapped her arms around him, even if Faili could see them. His confusion dominated his thoughts until Xellos heard a click and felt cold metal against his neck. "That's so you don't pick a fight with magic."
"Oh, I'm sure you can trust Mr. Ice-cream without such forceful restraints," Faili frowned at the magic repressing collar.
Xellos glared in annoyance, "give me the key, now," he emphasized each word with a threatening tone.
"No!" Filia considered hiding the key in a similar way to how Amelia had protected the map before, but she knew Xellos would be all too happy to retrieve it, so she kept it in her hand instead.
"Give it to me!" Xellos went on the attack, tackling Filia and tickling her mercilessly.
"Hahaha! Not Fair! Hahaha! Stop!" Filia tried to get away, but she simply couldn't. Xellos had discovered her weakness, she was ticklish. "Hahaha! I give up! Hahaha!"
Xellos gave Filia a victorious grin, taking his time getting off of her so she could get to her feet. "The key?" He extended his hand to receive the small item.
"I dropped it when you tackled me," Filia looked around the ground for the key, but couldn't see it.
"Um... it seems..." Faili began in a nervous voice as she kept her eyes on Sakel, whose face was turning a distinctive shade of blue. "It seems that Sakel accidentally caught the key in his mouth and it appears to be stuck in his throat." Faili gave Sakel a pat on the back which threw him face first to the ground harshly, though that had not been her intention.
Unfortunately, instead of making him spit out the key, the impact made Sakel swallow it. Finally able to breathe once the obstacle was dislodged from his throat, Sakel patted his stomach, "it's too late."
"I'm going to cut you open!" Xellos threatened, preparing to attack Sakel.
"Sit!" Filia shouted, and Xellos was sent crashing against the ground by an invisible force.
Xellos painfully pried his face away from the ground and stumbled to his feet. "What was that?"
"The word of subjugation," Filia explained. There's a magical contract that serves as a purchase form for that collar. It is linked to the collar making it so that it only reacts to the voice of the owner. The word I need to say to trigger that effect is... A three letter word that starts with an S."
"You mean sit?" Sakel dumbly inquired.
"Yes, but it only works if I say it," Filia confirmed. "Sorry about that, Ice-cream. I just didn't want you to attack Sakel. I also didn't mean for him to swallow the key, then again, that was your fault for attacking me in such a despicable way!"
"So this is all my fault now?" Xellos argued. "Stupid dragon, if you haven't put this collar on me I wouldn't be stuck with it!"
"If you would behave like anything other than a piece of raw garbage I wouldn't have to take contingency measures!" Filia retorted.
"Enough!" Faili's voice pierced the sound waves as a beam of laser flew out of her mouth towards the skies above. "I don't want to see such good friends fighting. Kiss and make up immediately!" She commanded with authority.
Filia's expression showed her surprise at Faili's request, or more so at her order. "You want me to kiss him?"
"On the cheek," Faili clarified.
"Oh... Okay, I guess..." still a bit unsure, Filia proceeded to play along with Faili's request, only to have Xellos turn his face over at the last second so she kissed him on the lips. Horrified that she would offend Faili with the display, Filia slowly turned her head towards her younger grandmother.
Far from being offended, Faili was giggling in amusement. "You're such a mischievous boy, Ice-cream!" She pinched his cheek in a way that vastly annoyed Xellos and somewhat amused Filia. "Well, we really should be on our way now, let us march into town together!"
"What about this?" Xellos pointed at the collar around his neck.
"Don't worry, dear Ice-cream," Faili petted his hair soothingly. "Leave the fighting to us dragons, you just stay close to Fluffy and look adorable."
"Actually, I think I can pick the lock," Sakel offered.
"Why didn't you say so before? Get this thing off me!" Xellos demanded impatiently.
xoxox xox xoxox
Several minutes later, the four brave allies marched into town free of any magical restraint devices. Strangely, there were very few dragons around even if it was daytime. They went into the police station where Narez was standing in a corner sleeping on his feet, while Cleo slept with her arms crossed atop her desk and her head resting on them. "Excuse me..." Faili tried to get their attention, but her soft voice didn't wake them. "Excuse me!" She yelled, without the laser effects this time, since that would be inconvenient indoors.
Narez woke up and nearly lost his balance; while Cleo yawned loudly, opening her mouth much larger than one would guess she could. "Good morning, Lady Faili," Narez greeted her.
Cleo, who was still more so asleep than awake, mumbled a sleepy, "morning."
"Good morning, Narez, Cleo, I'm surprised that you're still here. I would have guessed your shift to have ended hours ago," Faili observed.
"It was supposed to, but the day shift dragons are late in returning from last night's summit. Apparently they spent the whole night discussing things before they could reach a conclusion, but at least it's been decided," Narez pushed away his remaining tiredness and tried to look alert. "The fate of this town will be determined in a battle. Even if the law to ban human slavery was passed, this town will have a special exception if those who wish for its freedom lose. Both dragons and humans are welcome to participate. Honestly, I don't think many dragons will stick around for the battle. The ones representing the side that wish for the town to be excluded from the law have strong warriors on their side. Most dragons don't wish to be caught in the battle, so they left. I doubt anyone will show up for the day shift until the battle has passed. The battle should begin soon."
"So that is the latest news on the matter," Faili had a serious look on her face. "Why was I not informed immediately?"
"Lady Faili... I..." Narez looked at the floor to avoid Faili's critical gaze.
With another big yawn and half closed eyes, Cleo elaborated. "It's because he was worried about you, but by the looks of your armor you came prepared to fight anyway. Narez and I have also decided to fight alongside the humans."
"Excellent!" Faili exclaimed, "join me, my comrades, together we shall free this town!" Her determined cheer was interrupted by a series of loud thuds outside as the ground vibrated with the force of the landing of several fully transformed dragons. "They're here, we must face them!" Ready for battle, Faili, Filia, Xellos, Sakel, Narez and Cleo marched out of the police station into the wide main street.
xoxox xox xoxox
Faili and her troops stood face to face with a dozen fully transformed dragons that towered over the buildings. The few dragon residents of the town had retreated, taking any humans in their custody along, leaving only the two opposing forces to have their showdown. A tumbleweed rolled by across the street and the heavy tense silence was broken. "Charge!" Faili roared as she transformed into her dragon shape, not caring that there were witnesses, this was an important battle after all. Narez and Cleo followed her example.
Filia was the last one to transform, not pleased to have to do so in public. "What about the negotiations? Are we just going to fight?"
"This is how the golden dragons do things," Xellos teased.
"Shut up, raw garbage! Who said you could ride on me?" Filia argued.
"My role in all of this is to stay close to you and look adorable, remember?" Xellos pointed out.
Filia huffed, "good luck with looking adorable, you'll need it."
"Why? Because I'm more sexy than adorable? That doesn't stop you from adoring me," was Xellos annoying reply.
Filia growled in vexation, "we are not having this argument now." By the time the exchange had reached that point, Faili, Narez and Cleo were already battling it out with the dragon warriors. Sakel tried to find an opportunity to strike, but instead ended up running around like a crazy little ant, trying not to get stomped on. Filia charged in, tackling a dragon that was attempting to sneak up on Faili, while the fierce dragon woman sunk her sharp fangs into the neck of one of the warriors.
Narez, a dragon of average size was locked in combat with two others, clawing at each other savagely. Cleo, the petite girl who was huge in her dragon form was the largest creature there, a good ten feet taller than the biggest of the warriors. She swung her massive tail at them, making several of the warriors lose their balance. Narez, Faili and Filia took the opportunity to advance in their attack.
With four of their comrades already knocked out and bleeding on the ground, the remaining eight dragons stood together for a laser breath attack. Realizing what was going on, Faili and her allies adopted a similar stance, combining their own laser breath against the massive beam of the combined attacks of the eight dragon warriors. The two beams of laser collided, sending sparks everywhere that further damaged the already ruined buildings around them. If the battle continued, the town would be destroyed completely.
"I got one! I got one!" Sakel held on to the tail of one of the dragon warriors, who tried to shake him off in annoyance. The dragon finally flung the human off his tail and sent Sakel flying into the sky, heading towards a fall he would not survive.
"I knew you would be trouble!" Faili flew to catch Sakel in her large dragon paws. "For the millionth time, stop being so suicidal!"
"I'm sorry, I just wanted to help," Sakel whined.
"If you must participate you can cheer me on or something." Faili placed the human on her shoulder, where he would hopefully stay safe for the remainder of the fight.
"I'll cheer with all my heart! Go Faili, you're the best!" Sakel shouted with energy.
Narez's sharp claws and speedy slashes took down another of their opponents, while Cleo's raw strength made steady progress as well. "Lady Faili, there's only five of them left!" Narez encouraged.
"Clear the way!" Xellos announced, which caused Narez, Cleo and Faili to scramble to the skies. That left Filia's path clear to unleash her powerful Flame Breath on the five remaining dragons. All five were severely wounded, with two of them falling over in defeat and the other three left barely standing.
"Well done Fluffy, your spells are quite powerful. These three barely have any will left to fight anymore," Faili victoriously commended. It all made Filia wish that she had a better nickname. "Surrender now, you are out-numbered and over powered. Most of your comrades have been defeated and it is obvious that you can barely stand!"
"We will fight to the bitter end if we must and we will be avenged!" One of the remaining dragon warriors exclaimed with difficulty.
"Resurrection!" A powerful roar echoed as the shadow of another dragon was casted on the battle field. The dragon's powerful healing magic rained upon the twelve warriors, healing their wounds and making them ready for combat once more. The dragon landed in front of the twelve warriors, much to Faili and Filia's shock.
"Bazard, my son, you were supposed to be studying at the Fire Dragon temple. Why are you here? Why are you healing my foes?" Faili demanded to know.
"I am sorry mother, although I share your views about humans and hold a certain appreciation for them, I have been ordered to do this by a dragon of a rank far superior to mine," Faili's son, Filia's father explained. "The battle for humans must be decided by a human, that is my mission. Once again I offer you my apologies, mother, but I must fulfill my duty. If there is a human brave enough to face me, let that human come forward!"
"I'll face you, dragon!" Sakel immediately volunteered.
"No you won't, a fragile creature like you won't stand a chance!" Faili argued. "My son has a duty to fulfill and I respect that, he cannot go easy on his opponent."
"I guess it's up to me," Xellos volunteered, someone had to end this stubborn dragon randomness. Couldn't they make up their minds about what they wanted to do already? Couldn't he and Filia stop being involved in things that he thought were none of their business? If the Lord of Nightmares wanted a show that badly, he would give her a show. Then maybe she would quit messing with their lives.
"Ice-cream!" Faili exclaimed in agony, "I cannot watch such an adorable creature be destroyed."
"Adorable? Ice-cream?" Bazard Ul Copt shook his head. "Really mother, no matter how cute you may find a human to be, I'm quite certain they don't appreciate you putting pink bows on them and giving them cute names, especially the men."
"I don't do that anymore!" Faili argued.
Xellos was not happy to be partially ignored, though he was glad he was spared from the horror of pink bows. "Let's just get this over with!"
"I don't want you two to fight!" Filia complained, stomping her feet in a frustrated hissy fit.
Filia's father, who of course didn't know he would be her father, dramatically declared, "there is no choice! En guard Ice-cream!"
"Ray wing!" Xellos was quick to get himself out of the way of his opponent's attack. Filia continued her complaining about not wanting them to fight, while Faili was content to cheer for both sides of the battle. If Ice-cream won, which she thought was unlikely; the human town would be free. If her dear son won, which she thought was very likely, then it was a victory for her child so it was good too.
Bazard took to the skies, shooting many laser beams at Xellos, who was barely dodging with some fast flying. He didn't look like he would get a clear shot to attack. The chase went on for several suspenseful minutes, while the audience, consisting of Faili, Filia, Sakel, Narez, Cleo and the twelve warriors watched. The spectators followed the action, turning their heads from one side to the other as if witnessing a brass rackets match.
Finally, after maneuvering in the air for a while, Xellos floated still, releasing his Ray Wing in favor of a less power consuming and considerably slower Levitation. His opponent took the opportunity to charge him head on and was met with a sudden burst of energy, "Dragon Slave!" Xellos had been powering up the Dragon Slave at the same time that he used Ray Wing, slowly building it up with vast difficulty. He had felt as if he was draining his very life to maintain the Ray Wing to dodge the incoming attacks and somehow spare energy to power up the Dragon Slave. Xellos was so exhausted that his senses had faded, succumbing to the pain. He heard nothing and saw only a golden blur coming towards him when he released the Dragon Slave.
The blast of energy hit the golden dragon straight on in mid air. When the bright light cleared, Faili's son lay on the ground knocked out, but still very much alive. Next to him on the ground just a few feet away his opponent had fallen. Xellos was motionless, his hair had turned completely white and he was on the verge of death.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 063: Time! What Happens, Happened
Several suspenseful seconds passed and the golden dragon, who would be Filia's father, recovered his consciousness. With some difficulty, he stood up and casted a healing spell on himself. He was healed, but terribly exhausted, still out of breath. However, his opponent had not yet woken up and could easily be killed by being stepped on by the large dragon. He lifted his massive golden scaly foot, hovering over Xellos' motionless form, then put his foot down again, leaving Xellos without any further injuries.
Bazard casted a powerful healing spell with the last bit of energy he could spare, "Resurrection!" That woke Xellos, though his hair would take a while to change back to black. "For a human you certainly possess considerable power. That spell at point blank could have killed me. I realize that the fact that it didn't wasn't simply because you overexerted yourself. For some reason you didn't want to kill me. I'll return the favor and spare your life, but you must tell me, why?"
Xellos stood tiredly, he was not in danger of dying anymore, but he was absolutely exhausted. "I thought there might still be things you need to do in life." Such as for example fathering Filia.
"Indeed, there are many things," Mr. Ul Copt agreed. "My mission has ended, this town will be freed. The humans possess not only power, but also judgment to use it. It is alright to let them grow and discover their own magic and technology." He changed back into his elf form, wearing fancier armor than the twelve dragon warriors who changed back as well.
Faili, Narez and Cleo also shrunk to their elf forms, making the wide space of the wreckage of flattened ruins look even larger by comparison. Too relieved to care about who was watching, Filia transformed as well. "I'm glad that's over," she breathed.
"So am I," Faili agreed. "This town is free and it can no longer serve as a shield for those who keep humans against their will. All humans will have to be freed. After the town is rebuilt, humans will be able to populate it without worries. I think that after my job here is done, I will return to the Fire Dragon temple and leave the estate in the care of a human, who will serve to continue guiding this town peacefully. It will stand to represent the bond of friendship between golden dragons and humans."
Filia couldn't help it but to cry, though she wasn't nearly as loud as Sakel and his river of happy tears. She was witnessing history in the making. "Yes, everything will be much better now." The question still stood as to what she and Xellos should do next.
"Miss Fluffy, Mr. Ice-cream, will you remain here to oversee the process?" Faili invited.
Filia remained in unsure silence, glancing at Xellos for ideas. "We really should continue our journey," he reminded, though he had no idea where exactly they would go.
"I understand," Faili accepted.
"I wish you both well on your journey," Bazard voiced sincerely. "And Mr. Ice-cream, the way I see it, the differences between humans and dragons are not a true obstacle if we do not let them become so. You have my respect." He extended his hand to shake Xellos'.
Needless to say, Xellos never thought he would be shaking hands with Filia's father like this after being given his respect, life was ironic. With his signature mischievous smirk, Xellos couldn't help it but to ask, "so... Mr. Ul Copt, does this mean you approve of me? Enough to say... let me date your daughter?"
Filia gasped and watched in worry as her father's face turned serious. She was about to try to say something to diffuse the situation when Bazard started laughing in good humor. "Sure, if I have a daughter and she develops affection for you, you have my blessing." Of course, there was no way a human could stay alive that long. The powerful and mysterious Mr. Ice-cream would be gone in less than a century and Mr. Ul Copt would be free of his promise, or so he thought. Surely Ice-cream understood that and was only making a joke, so it was harmless to play along.
Filia's jaw dropped, that tricky monster just got her own father's blessing and her dear dad didn't even know it. It was all done by trickery so she didn't think it officially counted, but she couldn't help it but to twitch when she looked at Xellos' smug expression.
xoxox xox xoxox
After a peaceful farewell, Xellos and Filia left the town and walked off into the horizon. They were a short distance away from the town when Celestina, or rather the Lord of Nightmares, appeared before them for a split second, fading into existence from the astral side. Her golden light invaded their senses, forcing them to look away. Then when they once again gazed at the place where she once stood, she was no longer there.
"The land..." Xellos observed.
Filia looked at the landscape around them. "It's barren; there are no flowers or grass like before. It's just like... just like our time." She glanced back in the direction of the town, it was far away, but the buildings could still be seen, it wasn't the pile of ruins that was yet to be rebuilt over nine hundred years ago. She then looked towards the direction that the estate should be in. "Everyone..." She needed to make sure that everyone was alright; she needed to see her friends and confirm that they had made it back to the era where they belonged. "Ray Wing!" Filia transported both herself and Xellos in a hurry, landing in the courtyard in front of the estate.
"Look who's back," Lina acknowledge their arrival from her position laying on a chair enjoying the mid morning breeze while she digested her breakfast with a tall glass of juice in her hand. Gourry was sitting next to her waving a fan at the redhead like the personal servant of a queen. "I happened to notice that you two didn't come back last night," Lina teased, before pausing to realize that Xellos' hair was white. "Sheesh, what did you do that required that much energy? No, wait, don't tell me, I really don't want to know!"
"Okay, then I won't tell you," Xellos agreed more easily than anyone expected, but that was just because he was tired. "If anyone has anything of importance to report, I'll be inside." He glanced at Filia, whose face was filled with relief upon their safe arrival in their own time. She nodded at him in indication that he should go ahead and get some rest, she would catch up in a little while.
Xellos might not feel the need to share their little adventure and honestly, neither did Filia, mostly because she didn't want to be assaulted by a multitude of inquiries about her grandmother. Nor did she want Xellos to make a mockery out of having obtained her father's blessing in a very tricky sort of way. However, Filia did think it was important for the whole team to be on their guard. "Has anything unusual happened while I was gone?"
"Not really," Lina stretched in her chair, signaling to Gourry that he could rest. "It's a hot morning, I guess it's because of global warming or something, or maybe this place is becoming a desert. It was certainly cold later last night."
"Can I go polish my sword now?" Gourry inquired hopefully.
"Go ahead, I think I've cooled off enough," Lina agreed with the hint of a loving smile, hidden by a thick curtain of casual behavior.
As Gourry ran off inside the estate, Lina continued. "Arcius left on business a while ago. Apparently he was informed first thing in the morning that last night one of the businesses he owns in town suffered some damage, the golden Dragon Cafe, I think it was called. He left to have a look in person and told us to make ourselves at home. He said he would be back as soon as he could."
Filia bit her lip nervously. She was the one who caused the most noticeable damage to the Golden Dragon Cafe, leaving it without a ceiling. It was only a matter of time before an angry Arcius came back to demand an explanation and possibly repairs. Furthermore, Xellos had a considerable debt that Arcius' employees would surely inform him about. "I don't think it's a good idea for us to be here. Xellos and I might have accidentally damaged Arcius' property last night."
Lina frowned in disapproval, not because of the random property damage, she did that often enough herself, but because her earlier request was not being fulfilled. "I said I don't want to know about what happened last night."
Feeling her face overheat as her wild imagination came up with theories that were probably far more scandalous than any assumptions Lina would make, Filia tried to defend herself. "It's nothing bad!" She paused, giving the events some extra consideration. "Well, actually yes, you could say it was pretty bad, but not in an inappropriate sort of way." She paused again; she couldn't come up with a proper explanation. "It was kind of inappropriate too, but not in a way that you wouldn't want to know about." Giving up on sugar coating the story, Filia realized that if she was going to warn her companions about the dangers of the lurking Lord of Nightmares, she would have to reveal at least some parts of her past adventure. "We had a run in with the Lord of Nightmares."
Lina choked on the juice she was drinking in an effort to distract herself from Filia's ramblings. She spat out the orange liquid on the unfortunate golden dragon in front of her with an alarmed, "what?"
Flinching in disgust, Filia brushed off the juice and reminded herself that she needed a bath and a change of clothes anyway. "I'll explain the details once everyone is present."
"Okay," Lina's face turned serious and determined, as if she was ready for anything, but no one could be truly ready when it came to the Lord of Nightmares. "Amelia and Zelgadis are inside reading Arcius library, old habits die hard, I guess." Just because Zelgadis was okay with being a chimera these days, didn't mean he wouldn't like to find a cure if it just so happened to be on his way.
"Right, let's all meet up there, I'll join you as soon as I'm cleaned up," Filia replied, leaving no room for argument no matter how curious Lina obviously was.
xoxox xox xoxox
Amelia and Zelgadis were examining Arcius' many books, finding nothing particularly useful in them, not that Zelgadis had his hopes up anyway. Amelia flipped through a particularly old historical tome that retold a slightly sugar coated version of how the golden dragons came to be the protectors of the town. "The mysterious sorcerer codenamed Ice-cream..." Amelia voiced as she finished reading over some of the most prominent events of the past. "Apparently, it was he who showed the dragons that humans could be reliable, speaking with the example, as he had earned the trust of a dragon who became his traveling companion. Her codename was Fluffy."
Zelgadis put another book he was examining back in the shelf where it was before. "It looks like some authors found them to be inspiring. There's a whole collection of comics here, The Adventures of Ice-cream and Fluffy, volumes one to fifty."
"They must have been an amazing duo of justice!" Amelia cheered with starry eyes. "They traveled from one place to another, mysteriously disappearing without a trace after their missions had been fulfilled! The amazing Ice-cream and Fluffy, whose true identities remained unknown, but their great deeds were recognized by many! I collected their comics too."
Zelgadis couldn't help it but to roll his eyes, not at Amelia whose speeches he was used to and had began to find endearing, but rather at the mysterious duo of justice. "They could have picked more heroic sounding nicknames."
"Maybe they were trying to say that cuteness can be heroic too?" Amelia theorized.
Their discussion was interrupted by a loud voice calling out "Stop! Stop! STOP!" From a different area of the estate. Amelia and Zelgadis recognized the voice as being Xellos and rushed to see what kind of trouble he had gotten himself into.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos' echoing voice drew the attention of Filia, who dashed down the hall half hopping on one foot. She had just gotten herself cleaned up and didn't have time to finish putting on her shoes. His loud desperate cries also got the attention of Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis. They caught up to Filia, following the source of the sounds and running into one of the manor's guest room.
That particular room was adorned in every shade of purple the eyes could see, except they couldn't see much of it beyond the white that faded to gray, that faded to black, that was attached to... something that lay beyond the sea of hair. "Xellos!" Filia spotted a hand sticking out of the massive amount of hair that was all over the room. She levitated over it and grabbed the hand, pulling Xellos out. Xellos took in a big breath of precious oxygen; he almost suffocated under his own hair. "What happened? Why is your hair this long?"
"I wanted to fix it after those guys at the restaurant cut it on one side," Xellos revealed. After catching his breath, he casted his own levitation so that Filia didn't have to hold him in mid air above the flood of hair.
"You mean you weren't just going for an asymmetrical cut? I thought it was on purpose," Lina commented as she curiously examined the hair. "I bet I could sell this hair to a wig maker for a good price. It's shiny and pretty, I bet nobles from across the world would pay a lot of money for a wig of this hair."
"Leave my hair alone," Xellos defended, "if anyone is going to sell it, it will be me."
"Why do you need the money? Don't you have some endless fake credit account?" Lina greedily argued.
"That's none of your business!" Xellos retorted, not wanting to get into the subject.
Yet Filia got into it anyway, "Zelas cut his allowance, so he's broke. We got into trouble for it last night at dinner."
"It's not an allowance, it's a spying budget!" Xellos argued, because to call the money spy funds was so much cooler than to say it was an allowance. What man well over a thousand years old still received allowance from his mother?
Lina rolled her eyes, "call it what you will, but I'm still keeping the hair. Think of it as a bodyguard tip, you haven't given me any tips at all!" She stomped her foot to emphasize her demand.
"You were the one who spend most of my money at Amor Resort," Xellos retorted.
Filia thought the argument had gone on long enough, especially because they had important things to discuss. She went off to find a pair of scissors while Lina defended her tip and Xellos argued against it. Filia returned with the scissors and cut Xellos' hair in his usual style, now once again black, as the white and gray had grown out. Immediately, Lina greedily tried to braid the hair so she could carry it away more easily. "Just let her have it, you know she's not going to give up on this argument," Filia suggested.
"Fine, but next time there's a battle, she better earn this tip." Xellos pouted, knowing that when it came to Lina's greed, there was no argument that could stand against it.
While Lina continued to braid the hair, she brought up an important subject. "Filia, about what you were going to tell us..."
"Yes..." Filia breathed, with Xellos giving her a curious glance. "The Lord of Nightmares is... awake, out and about. She sent Xellos and me to the past, where we got caught in a battle and brought us back to the present shortly after the battle was over." She gave Xellos a warning glare not to tease her about the events of the past concerning her relatives, especially since she had managed to paint a concise yet ambiguous picture that served as a warning without setting her up for teasing. "We don't know what the Lord of Nightmares wants. I just wanted you all to be on your guard."
A heavy silence fell upon the atmosphere around them. Amelia and Zelgadis exchanged puzzled looks, with no clue as to what plans the Lord of Nightmares could have. Lina had an alert and determined look on her face, as if becoming mentally prepared for anything, though she didn't pause her task of braiding the hair. Gourry wasn't sure what was going on, but there was nothing new in that fact.
The contemplative quietude was interrupted by James, Arcius butler, who gave the large amount of hair an odd look before nodding politely at the group. "Excuse me, honored guests. I must request that you meet Master Arcius, he has expressed his wishes to speak with you right away."
Arcius was back and he was surely upset, Filia just knew it, but she couldn't bring herself to run away from the situation without at least apologizing. Seeing her uncertainty, Amelia tried to save the situation, "we'll be right there."
The attempt failed as James clearly wasn't going anywhere, refusing to give them some time alone to deliberate. "Please, walk this way."
Lina finished braiding the hair into a very long rope that she coiled in multiple circles and threw over her shoulder. She nodded to the rest of her band of travelers, indicating that they've been in these sort of situations before and gotten through them well enough, so it was nothing to worry about. Maybe if they all apologized, Arcius would forgive them and keep feeding them for a while longer. If not, then they could always make a hasty escape. Their attempt to bless the farm lands had failed and it was about time to move on and possibly report back to Seyruun, where they might not get a triple banquet as the situation stood, but they would at least get a good meal.
Thus Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos, followed James, with Gourry marching in the same fashion as James with his back and arms straight, moving his arms and legs at a perfectly parallel rhythm. No one even tried to question Gourry, as they all guessed that he would take James' request literally. The group followed the butler down the long elegant, yet blindingly colorful halls of the estate until they reach a set of large redwood doors carved with detailed flowers of many kinds. James opened the door, revealing some peculiar looking stairs, which he began to descend in the same formal march. "This way," the butler invited the guests to continue following him.
The stairs were different from the fashion of the estate. They were made of simple grayish-brownish stone, lacking the plush carpets that covered every inch of flooring in the manor. The walls were made of stone as well, in what appeared to be a considerably deep dark tunnel. Lina's eyes lit up, this couldn't simply be any basement, maybe it was a magical laboratory. It was probably a bad idea to rush in, but she was curious about this sort of thing and followed James without complaint. Given that their impulsive courageous leader was going, the rest of the group resolved to go as well.
To be Continued