Once again like many other times, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos, found themselves on the road to Seyruun, simply because they were not sure of where to go next. Seyruun seemed like the obvious choice since it always had food waiting for Lina, or so she hoped, in spite of the kingdom's generous efforts against the famine. It would take time, but the land was set to recover as far as they knew, so maybe Phil would still be willing to generously feed them.
Unlike in other past occasions, this time around, the group had an additional companion, a golden dragon by the name of Phythan who was ironically Beast Master's intern. There was also a lot more uncertainty in the air, due to the unanswered questions in regards to Zelas' plans, which even Xellos himself was unaware of and even more uncertainty related to the Lord of Nightmares.
Uncertainty or not, however, Lina was still Lina and she still had a monstrous appetite to feed, metaphorically speaking, since an actual monster would be easier to feed than Lina Inverse. Given that circumstance, the travelers found themselves stopping at another restaurant where their discussions went in circles to the background sound of Lina and Gourry's loud and fast chewing noises.
"What I can't understand is why, if Zelas knows the answer to the curse, she can't just say it." Filia was feeling frustrated. "She wants to have her general priest back, but she's making things awfully difficult and throwing threats around. She already got what she wanted, whatever that is, so why all of this?"
"A test I would assume," Xellos theorized, though Beast Master had never tested him in such a way before. He had always done well on his assigned missions, so she had no need to provide him with a test. He glanced around the restaurant as if looking for something, though it was something invisible. He then stared at Filia, who was still muttering under her breath in frustration, possibly fearing for his life. She appeared to be debating how truly valid Lina's point was about Xellos still being useful in the long wrong as seen from Zelas' perspective. "Filia..."
"What is it? Can't you see I'm trying to vent my frustrations?" Filia growled threateningly.
"You're as moody as ever, stupid dragon," Xellos observed. This was a big difference from waking up to be hugged, cuddled, kissed and overloaded with affection before he even got the beginning of an explanation about how and why he was back. Yet there was something different, "I thought I was just tired, but if it's not back by now, it might not come back at all. It was annoying, but insightful. It's like losing a sense I was accustomed to having, albeit in a different form than what I originally had."
Filia gave him a curious look, "what are you talking about?"
"Empathy," Xellos simply voiced. "I can't tell how anyone is feeling right now. At least not beyond visual conclusions, but that can be misleading."
Filia huffed, "it's not like you were considerate to other's emotions anyway, raw garbage!"
"I was very considerate... in properly manipulating people, stupid dragon!" Xellos argued smugly.
"Quite an interesting conversation to be sure," the sudden voice at the sudden arrival of Beast Master made the occupants of the table jump in their seats. "Yet I must interrupt." No one seemed to be screaming among the other clients of the establishment; hence they concluded that she teleported out of sight and quietly, very quietly and sneakily, walked over to their table. She raised her perfectly manicured right index finger, slightly pointing towards the front entrance of the restaurant. "Xellos, a word."
"Yes, Lord Beast Master," Xellos got up from the table among the curious stares of his companions and followed Zelas outside.
The minutes ticked away as Filia drummed her fingers against the table in an increasingly faster rhythm. The action was getting on everyone's nerves, but they dared not complain to an upset Filia. "What's taking him so long?"
"Relax," Lina tried to diffuse Filia's growing anger, though she was far less effective as she paused to stuff her mouth with more food after each word. "He's just having a word with his mommy, he'll be back."
"Zelas said not to call her that!" Filia reminded.
"She told you not to call her that," Lina clarified and ended the argument in favor of focusing on her eating.
Filia pouted and sunk into her chair. If Xellos was a monster she wouldn't worry as much. Surely Zelas could see his usefulness more clearly if he recovered his powers. Then the danger of not being able to constantly keep an eye on him would be less. Not that Filia could do anything to defend him against Zelas anyway. The golden dragon sighed hopelessly. She actually liked Xellos as a human and a part of her was afraid that all the... development, he had accomplished would be lost when he became a monster; after all, he would be a full monster, not a chimera like Celo. Yet, she knew it was necessary for him to go back to the way he was and that was what he wanted.
The minutes dragged on until Xellos finally returned, followed by an unknown yet somehow familiar girl. "I'm back and I have another traveling companion for our little group. Tell them who you are and why you're hear."
The girl had black hair and eyes with a distinctly blank look upon an expressionless face. Her bangs and hair length were similar to Xellos', although the hair that reached to her shoulders was noticeably wavy. "I am Onyx, a monster human chimera created by Lord Beast Master. I am here to train so that I may learn to properly serve Lord Beast Master."
The group stared at the girl, blinking in confusion at the unexpected twist. "She kind of looks like..." Amelia left her observation hanging, though it became apparent that the others understood her message.
"Huddle!" Lina declared loudly and urgently like some kind of football captain trying to come up with a strategy to win a decisive game. The group moved from the table to the corner as Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos and Phythan formed a tight circle. "That girl is the same one that had the run in with the Lord of Nightmares, isn't she?"
"What did Zelas do to her?" Amelia asked with worry. "She seems almost brainwashed."
"Believe it or not, that wasn't Zelas' doing. When she woke up she had amnesia," Xellos explained. "Zelas only had Tiffany take care of her wounds and give her a little makeover. It seems that whatever magic the Lord of Nightmares placed in her, it was sealed in her memories."
"Kind of like how a piece of Shabranigdu was sealed in Rezo's eyes," Lina recalled. It was a foreboding theory.
"It's a similar concept, but I don't think Shabranigdu has anything to do with this." Xellos smiled cheerfully, "it might be something much, much worse. My mission is to keep an eye on her and figure out what that something is. In other words, I'm back on the job curse and all, at least I have my spying budget back."
Lina's face became a predatory grin, "does that mean you're treating your amazing bodyguard to a meal?"
"That means I'm not going to let you dry up my account ever again," Xellos assured with his usual squinty eyes grin.
"I don't think it's right for us to lie to that girl," Filia frowned in disapproval. "She's a human, even the part about her being partially a monster is a lie. What if she tries to use her monster powers and finds out too late she has none?"
"She thinks she was just created and that the process of uniting her with a human part left her weak. She's not expecting to have any monster power now; she's hoping that it'll awaken soon. Besides, Zelas provided her with an amulet that can simulate magic without being harmful to her so she'll have a means of defense, but I'm sure that won't be necessary." Xellos pulled an envelope out of his cloak and handed it to Lina.
"A letter for me?" Lina opened it and read. "Dear pawn: Since it looks like the moody dragon is doing a good enough job of guarding Xellos' body, probably in more ways than we want to know, I'm assigning you to be the bodyguard of this girl for the time being. Good luck, Zelas Metallium - Lord Beast Master. PS: I'm sure the two of you will be great friends, since you're both just as flat-chested." Lina let out a loud ferocious growl and tore the letter apart into tiny confetti pieces, throwing them on the floor and stomping on them in rage.
"I guess that's the whole story, Onyx, as Zelas has called her, will be traveling with us for a while. Let's be on our guard for random strange occurrences, though there's no guarantee that anything will actually happen," Xellos cheerfully concluded.
Filia pouted as she gave Xellos a sharp look. "You're actually happy; you're not just acting cheerful, you're really glad."
Xellos' replied with a cheerful yet confused look. "Happy to play big brother to an amnesiac girl who could be a time bomb waiting to explode for all we know? I suppose that could be entertaining."
"Not that," Filia clarified, "it's not about the mission, it's about the fact that you have a mission. You're glad to be working for Beast Master again." Deep down, Filia was glad about it too. She wasn't fond of Beast Master, but Xellos working for her carried a sense of comforting familiarity. It was as if things were slowly going back to normal and Xellos' life was in less danger.
"I think I said it before that I actually like my job most of the time," Xellos reminded. It was reassuring to have been assigned a mission. It confirmed that Zelas did see his usefulness, which made the test theory seem further off. If she was testing him, why would she entrust him with a mission before the test was completed? If this mission was really that important, why not end the test and return his powers? What kind of strategic gamble was Zelas getting herself into? Furthermore, what was that secret that exposed him to choose dare and be cursed in the first place? The willing kiss of a golden dragon... What did it all mean? What was the hidden secret?
"Let's be positive, if there's something going on with that girl, isn't it better to keep her near by, so we can help her if needed?" Phythan tried to brighten the situation by looking at the good side.
"I suppose so," Amelia agreed, "she does have amnesia, so I guess it might be okay to treat her as Mr. Xellos sister for the time being. This way she can feel the security and comfort of having a family, even if it is a rather unusual adoptive family." Not that Amelia should be talking about unusual families.
"That girl is Xellos' sister?" Gourry caught up a little too late, sort of.
"Something like that," Lina decided it was best to keep things simple and not try to explain the whole situation to Gourry. He wouldn't understand it anyway.
"So that's why she's dressed like that," Gourry concluded.
"Dressed like what?" Xellos inquired. "Zelas said something about her probably tripping one too many times as a kid and her scratched knees not looking good with her dresses. So she gave her that sorceress outfit."
"It's like your clothes," Gourry observed, displaying a power of perception far beyond his usual attention span. "Does that mean you're identical twins?" Then again, maybe he had not surpassed his limitations after all. "Don't mothers dress their kids alike when they're twins?"
Xellos' eye twitched and Lina rolled her eyes while Filia attempted to explain, "she's a she, he's a he, they can't be identical twins. Besides, twins don't just dress alike, they look alike. The only thing Xellos and Onyx have in common is the hair color, they don't even look similar."
"If they're not twins, how come they dress like twins?" Gourry cluelessly inquired. "It's confusing."
"We're not dressing like twins," Xellos argued. "Our clothes are completely different."
"Yeah, real different," Lina laughed, "her shoes are black, her shirt is light blue and her cloak has sapphires instead of rubies with an added hood. Other than the colors and the hood, you two are dressed exactly the same. Oh yeah, and there's that wolf head amulet with the wings that looks like that seal you have. I take it that's her power amulet?"
"Yes, you are correct about the amulet, but wrong about everything else. How can we be dressed the same if you just listed all the differences?" Xellos argued in his 'I'm smarter than you' voice.
"They're only small differences!" Lina insisted.
"She even has the same purse as Mr. Xellos," Amelia pointed out, soon realizing her mistake and trying to repair it, "I mean the same bag in a different color."
"It's not a purse," Xellos emphasized, despite Amelia's correction.
"It sure looks like one," Zelgadis pointed out with a... mocking grin?
"You were much less unpleasant when you were gloomy," Xellos glared.
"Forget about Xellos' purse," Filia tried to get the derailed conversation back on track, causing Xellos' to twitch at the mention of his 'purse'. "We're getting weird looks from everyone because we're huddled up in this corner. Let's go back to the table."
Said and done, the group moved back to the table. Onyx had stood motionless the entire time with the same blank expression, seemingly not caring about the oddities of the group she would be traveling with. After joining the table, she ate with them, thinking that it was for the sake of feeding her human part, not realizing that she was completely human. The meal finally came to an end with the group debating on what to do next.
"Rather than rushing to Seyruun, I think we should gather information as we go along. Who knows when and where the Green Alchemist will strike again," Lina stated. "Let's spread out through town and have a look around," she yawned. "I'll join you right after I'm done with my nap; they say people shouldn't be running around right after a big meal."
"Really? Then I should take a nap too," Gourry concluded.
"I don't mind getting started on the investigation," Amelia kindly offered.
"I'll go too, someone has to get things done." It was obvious Zelgadis' comment was directed at Lina, who was clearly throwing the work at everyone else.
"Onyx, you can hang around with Phythan, he'll show you around the town," Xellos suggested, giving Phythan a meaningful look that warned him to notify him of any peculiar happenings immediately.
"Huh? Me? Um... okay," Phythan looked at Onyx, who said nothing to him.
Instead she voiced a monotonous, "yes, brother," at Xellos.
With the group taking their separate ways, that only left Filia and Xellos at the table with a grim apprehension. "Lina dumped the bill on us, didn't she?" Xellos realized.
Filia shook her head in disapproval, "we should have seen it coming."
"I'm so used to getting a warning in the form of sensing the sneaky plotting feeling Lina gives off when she's about to do something like this that I missed it." Xellos never thought he'd see the day when he actually missed his empathy this much.
"I guess you're stuck interpreting the world with as little information as the rest of us," Filia concluded. "I think I'll go take a nap too. It's a pity that you're putting a dent on your allowance so soon." Her tone was far from pitying and suspiciously close to amused. She got up from the table, glancing towards the door.
"Mission funds! It's not an allowance, they're mission funds," Xellos corrected before signing the bill and leaving the restaurant with Filia.
xoxox xox xoxox
Back at the inn, Xellos followed Filia to her room, an action that she did not try to prevent. "Filia... be honest," there was that serious look with his eyes open. Filia could clearly imagine what was to come. Xellos would switch his expression to his squinty eyes, smug grin as he completed his sentence with a confident 'you want me'. It would make her pout, glare and call him raw garbage, but she had no intentions of refusing him this time. Then he took her by surprise by holding out his bag for her to have a clear look at it. "Does this really look like a purse?"
Filia opened her mouth but no sound came out, as her planned response did not fit the occasion. She closed her mouth again and tilted her head, observing the bag from different angles. "It looks like a normal unisex bag to me. It could be a pretty purse if I tied a few pink bows on it."
"Not happening," Xellos immediately warned. He gave her his smug, mocking squinty eyes grin. "I appreciate your honest opinion, have a nice nap." Then he turned around and walked out the door, closing it behind him.
Filia stood in her inn room blinking in confusion. That was random. Maybe Xellos decided to stop being so annoying and give her some time to rest and relax. Maybe his lack of empathy prevented him from realizing he just missed his opportunity to... enjoy her company. She shrugged, it was alright, she could use a nice relaxing nap anyway. She laid down on her bed and stared at the ceiling for several minutes. Her expression turned into a pout, that stupid piece of raw garbage, being so randomly unpredictable. She got up, knowing that she would not be able to fall asleep. She was going to give Xellos a piece of her mind. She marched towards the door determinately, planning all the insults she would throw at him in her head.
As soon as Filia opened the door to her room, she saw Xellos leaning against the wall in front of it in the hallway. He had a very familiar smug look on his face. "It took you long enough, stupid dragon." He couldn't read her emotions as he did before, but if he was observant enough, he found that he could still predict her behavior.
Filia's face turned red in anger and she clenched her teeth and fists, "you piece of raw garbage!" She punched the wall next to his head, leaving a hole in the shape of her fist. Of course, for those who didn't know she was a dragon, they would never guess that the pretty blond in the pink dress was the one to damage the wall in such a brutal way.
Xellos didn't move an inch, his expression frozen in his usual smug grin. He knew that she would miss on purpose and was entertained by her temper tantrum. After amusing himself with Filia's absolutely murderous expression for a few more seconds, he kissed her, just as she appeared to be preparing to throw out her next argument.
The next thing Filia knew, she was walking backwards. She was retreating back into her inn room. She was unable to say anything because Xellos had her mouth occupied in activities that did not include the formation of words. Then there was the sound of a door being closed. It was followed by the click of a lock being secured. After that, Filia stopped paying attention to the world around her, instead focusing only on Xellos.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 071: Terrible! Cruel Tactics
"It's such a nice day," Lina observed as she looked out the window at the end of the inn hallway. Her and Gourry's rooms were just across from each other. "I kind of want to take a nap and relax before whatever is to come comes, but at the same time I don't want to stay indoors."
"How about we go up to the roof?" Gourry suggested, "I bet there's a nice breeze up there."
"You do have good ideas sometimes, Gourry," Lina opened the window. "Here's a shortcut, levitation!" She took Gourry along with her as she floated out the window and landed on the roof of the inn. She gazed at the town's landscape as the calm breeze played with her fire colored hair. "It's pretty relaxing," she looked at where Gourry was standing next to her a second ago and found nothing.
Lowering her gaze, Lina saw that Gourry had already lay down on the roof and seemed comfortable enough to actually fall asleep. "Hey Lina, doesn't that cloud look like a sheep? And that one over there looks like a sheep too. One, two, three, four, five... There are so many clouds that look like sheep it's making me," he yawned, "sleepy."
"Of course you'll get sleepy if you count them," Lina looked up at the fluffy white clouds; some of them actually did look like sheep. She sat down next to Gourry. "The atmosphere up here is relaxing enough, but I don't think I'll be able to sleep laying my head on the hard roof. Maybe I should go get a pillow." Gourry began to remove his armor, which made Lina blink in confusion. "Why are you taking off your armor?"
"So it's comfortable for you," Gourry smiled innocently.
"Comfortable how?" Lina questioned in puzzlement.
"If you don't want to lay your head on the roof, you could just rest it on my shoulder, I don't mind," Gourry offered with a sweet smile.
Lina's face was instantly scarlet. "Rest my head on your shoulder? How did you come up with an idea like that? I mean c'mon, I could just go back to the room and get a pillow. Besides, the roof isn't that hard anyway, it's not so bad."
"Oh," Gourry seemed disappointed. "If you don't want to..."
"I didn't say I wouldn't do it!" Lina immediately argued. With her face still burning red, she snuggled close to Gourry, remaining perfectly still.
Gourry was more relaxed than Lina was at first, his eyes closed as he looked at the sheep shaped clouds passing through the skies above, gently moved by the breeze. "Hmm... Li... na..." He muttered quietly.
Lina looked at Gourry, but he was already asleep. A well hidden part of her thought it was sweet that he would say her name in his sleep. She felt his arm unconsciously wrap around her waist and her blush intensified. Yet Gourry was already asleep and no one was there to interrupt their moment alone. Feeling herself finally relax, Lina cuddled against Gourry's chest, made herself comfortable and entered into peaceful slumber.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia slowly opened her eyes; she got her nap after all, but only after using up a considerable amount of energy. Xellos was still sleeping next to her, his arms tightly around her body. He was warn, perhaps too warm. It was odd, the temperature of a human shouldn't be warmer than that of a dragon. She touched his forehead curiously, a fever? But why? He was perfectly fine before, in fact, he was full of energy, a thought that made her blush. Perhaps the strain of being trapped in a crystal for several days was having some delayed side effects.
Maybe it was best to get him some medicine just in case, to make sure his fever didn't worsen. Except it would be difficult to get him to actually take it. Maybe if she added some sugar to it he wouldn't protest. She paused in her action of attempting to get up; Xellos was sleepily pulling her back as if unconsciously seeking the heat of her body. "Xellos?" He was awake, she settled back into bed, she could take care of finding a remedy later. "How do you feel?"
Xellos rubbed his eyes and stared at her. "It's cold for it to only be the start of fall," he observed tiredly.
"That's because you might be getting ill. I suppose it's just a random autumn illness. It's probably due to being exposed to the cool wind when we travel or possibly due to having only recently been released from the crystal. Maybe your body needs to get accustomed to the outside world all over again," Filia theorized.
"Muttering gibberish? Really Filia, you're turning even more rude, you stupid dragon." Xellos blinked and rubbed his eyes some more. "Why is everything so blurry?"
Filia frowned, "you must be really sick if it's affecting your senses!" She spoke louder that time, expecting Xellos to complain about the volume of her voice despite their close proximity.
"What kind of an illness causes blurry vision? And why are you whispering?" Xellos attempted to rub his eyes again, but Filia stopped him.
"Don't do that, it'll just make things worse," she shook her head emphasizing the message," I'll get you a remedy, wait here." She tried not to show it, but she was worried. What if Xellos somehow caught some strange decease? It seemed that one thing was solved only to give way to another problem. Filia got dressed quickly, signaling to Xellos once more to stay in the room, making sure he understood, then she left.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia hurried out to that little herbal remedy shop down the street she saw when they arrived in town, walking briskly. She felt almost short of breath, not in the physical sense, but metaphorically. She shook her head to clear it as she hurried down the street. This was probably just a common ordinary human illness; it was nothing to worry about. Xellos would be fine.
The little bells on the door chimed as Filia entered the herbal remedy shop. She approached the counter to find an old lady flipping through a book. The elderly woman noticed the customer and seemed to wake up from her concentration. "Hello, welcome to Healing Herbs, how may I help you?" She was wearing a green dress with red details and a red headband.
"I'm looking for a remedy for..." Filia had no idea what Xellos had and she knew dragging him to a doctor unless he was in extreme pain would be impossible. He wasn't happy about seeing a physician during that octopus allergy incident, albeit he couldn't do anything to stop Filia from taking him to the hospital. "Something that's good to cure blurry vision and a hearing loss."
"That would be the fountain of youth dear, and as you could probably guess, I have no idea where it is." The old woman replied jokingly, gently pushing a strand of long white hair over her shoulder. "I can offer you something that can help against those conditions, but not entirely cure them."
Filia laughed, clarifying, "he's still too young to be feeling the symptoms of old age." Well technically, Xellos was over a thousand years old, but his human body appeared to have started out as twenty-something. If he aged normally from there, he should still have plenty of youthful years left, plus he didn't show any signs of having aged.
"A bad cold or perhaps an infection?" The old lady held a long wooden cane, which was noticeably taller than her. She balanced herself on the cane, climbing it to reach a bottle of liquid on a high shelf behind the counter.
"Isn't that dangerous?" Filia observed with worry.
"Don't worry; I still have some balance left in me." The old woman hopped on her cane as if it was a pogo-stick, reaching for another bottle on the high shelf on the opposite side. She jumped down with ease and placed the two items on the counter. "This one," she pointed to a light blue liquid, "is an extract that can clear one's vision. If your friend really has some kind of eye infection, it will be most effective. This here," she pointed at a thicker pink substance with yellow dust particles, "is good for hearing."
The old woman appeared to be healthy enough despite her advanced age, thus Filia assumed she could trust the remedies to be effective. "Do you have anything good against a fever?"
"Of course, do you prefer pills or liquid?" The elderly shop keeper inquired.
"Pills," Filia replied without a second thought. At least then Xellos wouldn't complain about the taste of the remedy. After all, the best medicine usually tasted bitter.
The old lady reached for a bottle of pills, much lower on the shelves, thus she didn't need to use her staff to reach this time. "Is there anything else that ails your friend?"
'Yes, a curse that changed him from a monster to a human, which can only be broken by the willing kiss of a golden dragon. Except it's actually some kind of puzzle that's turning out to be really hard to solve.' "I don't think so," Filia replied, keeping her truthful thoughts to herself.
The old lady tallied up the purchases and placed them in a bag, with a few instructions for each item. She picked up a pen from the counter, quickly writing on a notepad as she spoke. "The dosage for the pills are two every eight hours until the fever is gone. The light blue liquid for the eyes has a dose of one drop on each eye every four hours. The pink and yellow medicine for the ears has a dose of one drop on each ear every six hours. Even if only one eye or ear is affected, I recommend using the medicine on both as a precaution to stop the infection from spreading." The shop keeper tore the sheet off the notepad and handed it to Filia.
"Thank you," the golden dragon voiced politely as she paid for her purchases. She stopped on her way out, noticing the vase near the exit. "This vase..."
"It was a gift from my granddaughter," the shop keeper explained. "We used to run a restaurant together, but I've since retired from that busy atmosphere and left the Cat Cafe to my granddaughter. She bought that vase when she was on a trip some time ago. Ah, but I'm probably boring you with my stories."
"Not at all," Filia smiled fondly, not revealing that she was the one who made the vase. "Have a good day."
"The same to you," the old lady replied.
As Filia exited the shop, she caught sight of a peculiar woman with pointy ears and pale platinum hair. She was very short, though she wasn't a child; Filia could tell she was probably a little over a thousand years old. Why was a dragon in town? Feeling uneasy, Filia hurried back to Xellos.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia headed back to the inn with her purchases, swiftly making her way to her room where she expected to find Xellos. Maybe he had fallen asleep again by now. She opened the door and entered the room, not bothering to close it as she caught sight of Xellos seemingly searching for something by feeling for it on the floor. He was fully dressed, save for one missing shoe and he also didn't have his cloak. "What are you looking for?"
Xellos didn't answer. His hand touched the texture of fabric and he picked up the item, feeling it. A cloak, was it his? He assumed it to be and put it over his shoulders, but then something felt off. The gems on his cloak weren't there and there was a bow to be tied. This was Filia's. She got dressed so quickly that she only put on her pink dress and white boots, leaving her cloak and mace in the room. She would be back in a short while anyway. Xellos dropped the white cloak and resumed his odd search.
Filia blinked in confusion and glanced at the other side of the room. "It's right there," she pointed, blushing slightly at their previous lack of organization.
Again Xellos ignored her. His hand reached something small and soft. He examined the thing in his hands, identifying it as the so called holster of Filia's mace. He quickened his search in the area around the item, until he reached her mace. He ran his gloveless hands over the handle and picked it up with some effort. He held on to it, gripping the handle with an impatient look on his face, almost as if he expected to be attacked.
"Why are you acting so oddly?" Filia asked, starting to get really annoyed. She approached, setting her medicine bag on a table. "You could at least answer me raw garbage!" She yelled loud enough so that if his hearing was failing he should still hear her, unless his sense of sound was completely gone. The thought worried her, "Xellos? Can you hear me? Can you see me?" There was no reply, Xellos just stood there gripping the mace and looking tense. She cautiously approached him, walking a full circle around him. She stopped directly behind him and reached out to tap him on the shoulder.
Xellos jumped in surprise and swung the mace at whoever was behind him in an automatic motion. Filia saw it coming and easily caught the handle of the weapon, taking it away from Xellos and tossing it behind her back. The mace damaged the floor as it fell, but Filia wasn't paying attention to the property damage at the moment. She tried to hold Xellos still; he struggled for a few seconds, then stopped. "Filia?" He reached out, fingers going up her arm, to her shoulder, neck and finally her face. He held her face with both hands, tracing over her features, then her pointy ears and at last running his fingers through her hair. "You are Filia," Xellos finally ascertained beyond a doubt.
"What happened?" Filia asked in worry, "can you see me? Can you hear me?" There was no response beyond a blank unfocused look. "Xellos!" She shook his shoulders, trying to get some form of reaction from him.
"Are you yelling?" Xellos finally spoke. "Are you throwing a temperamental hissy fit? Of course you are, because that's what a stupid dragon would do. If you're still yelling, don't waste your breath, I can't hear you. I can't see you either; I guess looking at your ugly face for so long finally had consequences." He had a mocking expression, but it didn't come as naturally as before, it was forced.
"You piece of raw garbage! This is no time for a petty argument!" Filia yelled into Xellos' face, receiving no reaction from him what so ever. "Stop trying to act like this is no big deal!" She felt warm tears run down her face; she was scared for his well being. His behavior when she returned to the inn room made sense now. His fever was gone, but that was probably just a side effect while the real problem developed. Xellos managed to find most of his clothes, except for that missing shoe and the cloak that was still on the other side of the room. He finally got a hold of Filia's mace and held on to it, ready to fight anything that might try to attack him while he couldn't see it or hear it coming. Then he waited, he waited for Filia to return.
Filia hugged him tightly, just when she thought they could finally take a break from most of the tension, at least for a short while, something like this had to happen. Just when she thought she could find a moment of peace in the middle of her chaotic life. Did that dragon she saw in town have something to do with this? They all ordered different things at the restaurant; it wouldn't be difficult to figure out what was intended for Xellos. What if this was some kind of poison? Worse yet, what if it wasn't? Most types of poison had antidotes at least.
Xellos' empathy was gone; it was like an extra sense to him. What if it was all connected and all his senses were fading away for some unknown reason? What if he was stuck like this until he became a monster? They still didn't know how to change him back. Did Zelas know this would happen? Why would she give Xellos his job back if she expected him to be rendered unable to properly perform it? Was that why she sent Phythan along? But if that was the case, wouldn't she have also sent Fang? Maybe Zelas didn't know about this. There were too many questions and not nearly enough answers.
Xellos' fingers brushed the moisture away from Filia's face. "Why are you crying, stupid dragon? It's not like I'm dying. This is probably just some random human illness." Xellos knew it wasn't true, what illness could have such terrible symptoms that acted so quickly? There was probably someone behind this, someone who was purposely causing trouble. He just didn't know who, how or when it was all set up. Filia could feel Xellos' warm breath on her neck, his body pressed against hers. "You still smell just as bad," he teased. He nibbled her neck gently, "you taste just as disgusting too. I'm sure you're just as loud and hideous. What insults are you yelling at me now, stupid dragon? Something along the lines of raw garbage? How unoriginal."
"Idiot..." Filia whispered bitterly. "Why are you consoling me? Why are you trying to reassure me when you're the one who's in danger? I'm supposed to be supporting you. You're the one who's in the most danger." She sobbed almost uncontrollably for several more seconds, letting it all out. Then she took a deep breath and looked at Xellos' face, his eyes were closed and the tension in his features seemed to fade when the shaking of her sobbing stopped. She kissed him and he eagerly responded to it. After they parted, she observed his face again; he looked almost relaxed, much calmer than when she found him gripping her weapon almost desperately. "Is this really enough to calm you?" There was no response as he did not hear her question. "I guess you must really trust me if you're so calm even if you can barely perceive the world around you..." The last few tears escaped Filia's eyes, but she quickly dried them. "I'll find a way to heal you, I promise."
Filia led Xellos to sit down on the bed, "it might not help much, but I got you some medicine." She let go of him for a moment to go pick up the bag she had brought. She hurried to his side again as if she couldn't stand to let him go for too long. Since he didn't really have a fever anymore, maybe he didn't need the pills, she didn't want to overload him with medicine. The remedies that specifically targeted his most prominent symptoms might as well be worth a try. Filia sat down on the bed next to Xellos. Feeling the motion, he turned his head towards her general direction, but he was only staring blankly at the wall behind her. Filia bit her lip and told herself she wouldn't cry anymore, it wouldn't help the situation anyway.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 072: Truce! An Unlikely Alliance
"These drops might help... maybe... But even if I say that you can't hear me..." Filia took the eye drops out of the bag. "Okay, just one drop for each eye... Right, lay your head back." Of course, there was no reply, so Filia gently pushed Xellos back until he lay down on the bed. "Don't start squirming now, you have to stay still." She exhaled, "but of course, you can't actually hear me. Right, just stay still." Trying to communicate like this was very difficult. She climbed on top of him, one leg on either side.
"Really Filia, this is hardly the time, but I'm not complaining." Xellos ran his hands from her knees to her thighs, before they were slapped away.
"Stop it! I'm trying to give you some first aid over here!" Filia argued uselessly. At least Xellos seemed to somewhat get the message from getting his hands slapped away, since he stopped being so grabby. Filia applied one drop to his right eye. Xellos immediately reached over, but Filia stopped him. "Don't rub your eye!" He didn't hear her, but he got the message from having her stop him from reaching his face.
Xellos blinked a few times in rapid succession. "Eye drops? That does feel refreshing, but I still can't see anything. It's all pitch black, not even the faintest hint of a shape or color." He expected another drop to be applied on his left eye, so he didn't move. He blinked a few times, then kept his eyes closed for a few seconds. Filia guided Xellos to turn his head to the side and brushed his hair out of the way of his ear. "Ear medicine too? I don't think something you got at the local pharmacy will be of any use." He paused, then hastily added, "not that I'm suffering from a horrible deadly disease. I'm sure it's nothing too serious, so don't start crying again, stupid dragon."
"I'm not crying," Filia argued, though her retort fell, literally, on deaf ears. She leaned forward and kissed him. It was her way of letting him know that she was okay, or at least not panicking.
"Miss Fi-eek!" Amelia's sudden presence at the door made Filia fall off the bed as she tried to get off Xellos in a hurry. "I'm sorry; the door was open so I didn't expect to see anything too personal. Please remember to close the door next time!" The Seyruun princess closed the door in a rush, blocking the suspicious view from herself and Zelgadis, who was standing in the hallway right behind her. Their investigation was not going so well, but Amelia wanted to share what they heard from the townspeople anyway.
"Wait a minute!" Filia hurried to the door, opening it and calling out to Amelia and Zelgadis, who were hastily making their way down the hallway. "Please come back, I need your help with something!"
"Filia? Were you just clumsy or are we under attack?" Xellos asked with unsure urgency.
"It's okay, no one's attacking," Filia hurried back to Xellos' side and kissed him to let him know that everything was fine.
At that moment Amelia and Zelgadis had returned to the room at Filia's request. "Excuse me, Miss Filia, but it doesn't look like we should be here."
"I really don't want to witness this," Zelgadis added with distaste.
"It's not like that; I really do need your help!" Filia insisted. Before Amelia and Zelgadis decided that they've seen enough and got themselves out of there, Filia hastily explained, "I don't know how, but Xellos can't see or hear right now. I saw a dragon in town a short while ago and suspect the golden dragons might somehow have something to do with this. They could have poisoned his food back at the restaurant. I don't know what exactly is going on, but I'm going to have a word with that dragon I saw. I need you to keep an eye on Xellos until I return."
Amelia gasped in worry, "this is serious, Miss Filia, you shouldn't go alone!"
"It's okay, I won't leave town," Filia assured. "I'll try to talk things out first and see if this can be resolved peacefully," and if that didn't work she would beat the antidote out of the sneaky dragon, if her theory about her involvement was correct. "If I get into trouble I'll send out a super charged light spell as a signal. Then you can follow the flare to my location, okay?"
"Things might get hostile if too many of us show up," Zelgadis understood the point. "Even so, it might be a trap, not that I'm concerned about him of all people," he still didn't get along with Xellos, though he seemed capable of tolerating his presence.
Amelia quickly diffused the situation before Filia could go from pouting to speaking a few upset words in Xellos' defense. "I guess that's alright, but please be careful. Leave Mr. Xellos to us, we'll make sure he's safe."
"Thanks Amelia, I'm counting on you," Filia looked at Xellos; he didn't return her gaze, holding the same blank look in his eyes. She let him go, gave him a quick kiss and patted his shoulder, hoping that he understood that she had to leave his side for a while, but that she would be back as soon as possible. Then she walked out of the room, giving Xellos one last glance before she left.
"Don't you worry, Mr. Xellos, I'm sure Miss Filia will be alright. Who ever did something so cruel to you will surely receive the punishment of justice! Miss Filia will be back soon and she'll bring an antidote for you. Life will be wonderful again!" Amelia tried to cheer him up.
"Um... Amelia," Zelgadis quietly pointed out. "He can't actually hear us."
"Oh, right..." Amelia looked disappointed, but then cheered up again. "I'm sure he can hear us in his heart!"
"Filia?" Xellos inquired unsure. "Are you still here?"
"How to let him know that Filia will be back soon?" Amelia wondered. She placed her right hand on her chin, her left hand resting on her right elbow in a classic thinking pose. "I know!" She approached Xellos, took his hand and placed it on her bracelet. "Do you recognize this?"
There was a hand, fabric and a smooth sphere. It reminded Xellos of something, it was like Amelia's bracelet. "Amelia? I guess this means Filia has gone off somewhere? She's probably off hunting for an antidote. Does this mean she somehow found a clue? Don't bother explaining it, I wouldn't hear you anyway. Although I can almost imagine your justice speech, not that I want to imagine it."
With the idea that justice was something that could magically reach people's hearts, Amelia gave her justice speech anyway. The speech had no effect what so ever on Xellos, but at least she did something a little more useful by showing him to a chair so he could sit around and wait impatiently for Filia's return with no idea of what was really going on. Needless to say, Xellos was quite displeased with the situation.
"Zelgadis, could you help me find Mr. Xellos' shoe?" Amelia requested with her big and shiny, pleading eyes. "He only has one shoe on, so I guess that means he couldn't find the other."
"I thought we only had to make sure he didn't get into trouble," Zelgadis made a brave effort to resist Amelia's pleading face.
"Please, Zel, pretty please?" Amelia insisted, her eyes appearing to be about three times the size they normally were.
Zelgadis couldn't resist, he looked around the room, trying to spot the shoe. "I don't see it, but I'll find it." Great, all Amelia had to do was look sweet and call him Zel, then he was willing to make it his life's mission to track down Xellos' shoe. Yet he had to draw the line somewhere, he would not put the shoe on Xellos' foot, he absolutely refused to do that. Unless Amelia asked him nicely, then he knew he couldn't refuse even that. He peeked under the bed and finally found the shoe, reaching over to retrieve it. "Here it is."
"Thank you!" Amelia took the shoe and rewarded Zelgadis with a kiss. If that's how it went, then Xellos should misplace his shoes more often. "Here you are Mr. Xellos, it's your other shoe."
Something was handed to Xellos, which he identified as being a shoe, his shoe to be specific. He assumed that Amelia must have noticed the missing shoe and located it for him. He put on the shoe; at least he wouldn't feel silly wearing just one, though that minor development was hardly enough to make an improvement on his overall mood. "I'm bored," Xellos declared, interrupting Amelia in the middle of her words of encouragement which made use of shoe metaphors. "And I'm thirsty," he added. Perhaps Amelia would feel it was just to get him something to drink, maybe even whatever he wanted. "I want some cold lemonade." The information was passed along, now he just had to wait for kind Amelia to place a glass of lemonade in his hand.
"Don't worry Mr. Xellos, I'll get your lemonade right away and I'll make sure it's nice and cold!" Amelia purposefully declared, in the same tone she would use for her justice speeches. Filia had entrusted her with taking care of Xellos in his time of need and Amelia believed it was her duty to make sure he endured the situation as pleasantly as possible. "Zelgadis, please keep Mr. Xellos company and make sure he's as comfortable as possible." After entrusting her beloved chimera with a mission that he was not exactly thrilled to receive, Amelia leapt out the window, "levitation!" It seemed like the fastest route to go out to find some cold lemonade.
"I want chocolate ice-cream pie too," Xellos continued, not realizing that Amelia was already gone. "Don't forget to put extra sugar on my lemonade."
Zelgadis frowned, he didn't want to be stuck babysitting Xellos. He got up from his seat across from Xellos abruptly and walked around the table, while Xellos kept going on about the snack he wanted. He tapped Xellos on the shoulder, making his speech about snacks pause.
"What is it? Did you bring it already?" Xellos carefully reached to the space atop the table in front of him, slowly so as to not knock over the lemonade glass if it was there. "Where is it?" At least Zelgadis could get a little bit of payback out of this. He stood to Xellos' right and tapped him on the left shoulder annoyingly. "What?" Xellos automatically turned his head to the left, though there was nothing there. "What are you trying to communicate?" He paused, realizing something. That poke on the shoulder was too solid to be Amelia. Where Amelia was, usually Zelgadis could be found not too far away. "Zelgadis? You're just trying to be annoying, aren't you? My guess is that Amelia is gone, or she wouldn't let you act in such an unjust way."
"Unjust? You don't deserve all the help you're getting," Zelgadis argued angrily, though Xellos didn't hear him, thus presented no reaction.
Xellos waited a few more minutes. Why was Amelia taking so long with his snack? More importantly, why was Filia taking so long with his antidote? "I'm going out," he finally decided and stood up. He walked a few steps, reaching in front of him until he found a wall. He followed it until he found a door and opened it. Then he walked into the closet. Zelgadis watched the scene, his previously upset face changing into a growing smile until he was laughing. He could hardly remember the last time he laughed that hard. Xellos couldn't perceive Zelgadis' laughter, but it was easy to guess it was there. "I meant to do that," lame excuses aside, Xellos managed to find the actual door and exited the room.
Finally calming his laughter, Zelgadis declared to no one in particular, "good riddance." He sat down and leaned back, rocking back and forth slightly on his chair. A few seconds passed and he swiftly got up. "What was I thinking? If Xellos gets into trouble Amelia will be very upset!" Not to mention that though Zelgadis would gladly accept the title of heartless mythical swordsman, he was not actually heartless and deep down thought it was kind of mean to let Xellos wonder around in his current state. He had to admit that the monster turned human had his fair share of bad times lately and his trials weren't finished yet.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelgadis arrived just on time to see Xellos reaching the bottom of the stairs, using the banister to guide himself and making his way towards the inn's exit. At least he didn't trip and break his neck or something. The chimera was wondering how he should go about bringing Xellos back to the room, since if he was feeling particularly stubborn he might make the task of being dragged back rather difficult by throwing fireballs at the one doing the dragging. Plus fighting back would defeat the purpose of keeping Xellos safe to avoid the heartbreaking disappointment of failing the mission entrusted to Zelgadis by his beloved Amelia.
Then something peculiar took place near the inn's main entrance. There was a rather short woman standing there. She was just going in when Xellos was making his way down the stairs doing an admirably fine job of pretending he could see exactly where he was going. She had paused and waited for him, this was almost too easy. She glanced around the establishment; there were too many unrelated people there. Thus she took Xellos' hand without warning and proceeded to try to lead him away down the street. The woman had pointy ears; maybe she was the dragon Filia saw earlier, though she appeared to be a particularly tiny one. Her full height would barely reach Lina's shoulders. None the less, Zelgadis followed them.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos made his way down the street, led away by an unknown person. "Who are you supposed to be?" The hand was small and somehow feminine, but ordinary little girls didn't try to steal strangers away. "Are you with the Green Alchemist?" If she replied, Xellos wouldn't hear her, not that she had said a word anyway. Her grip was consistent as if Xellos' words weren't getting to her. "Are you a monster?" There was no reaction. "Are you a dragon?" Her grip tightened and her pace quickened. "So you are a dragon. A golden dragon I presume? What are those dragons thinking, sending children to do their bidding?"
The dragon woman glared, she was well over a thousand, certainly not a child despite her small stature. She tried to ignore Xellos' words. He couldn't hear her even if she did give him a piece of her mind anyway.
"Don't worry kid, I have no intentions of making you mess up your mission," Xellos grinned smugly. "I'll let you take me to your superiors. Then I'll beat them all." This was better than sitting around in a room, being guarded as if he was helpless, while Filia was off somewhere, probably getting into trouble without him. She might be stomping around in annoyance and screaming out insults directed at him in the public plaza because she was frustrated that she couldn't find an antidote. Or maybe she was crying, or maybe she was both throwing a temper tantrum and crying at the same time. Either way, Xellos wasn't going to sit around doing nothing. He didn't need a babysitter and he would prove it.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos and the unknown dragon made their way a considerable distance away from the town. Once there, the dragon let go of Xellos' hand and looked back at the roadside bushes. "You can stop hiding, I know you're there."
Zelgadis jumped out to the open road. "Don't misinterpret, I wasn't planning to stay hidden, I just wanted to see what your intentions were."
"Is it not obvious? I plan to kill Xellos," The dragon revealed.
"You're no child," Zelgadis observed.
"Indeed, I am over a thousand years old." The golden dragon recalled being seen by Filia, though it was only a quick glance. "Filia must know I was around, she looks so much like that other person, just as he resembles... Never mind, it makes no difference."
"What are you talking about?" Zelgadis demanded to know. "You sound almost as if your reason to do this is beyond the enmity between the golden dragons and the monsters. Who are you?"
"My name is Cleo," the dragon woman revealed, though it didn't provide any information for Zelgadis. "The golden dragons decided not to interfere with Xellos. Even if he is in a weakened state, he's still not helpless and he has strong allies. Furthermore, it seems Beast Master would prefer to keep him alive, thus the dragons decided not to pick a fight."
"Then this is a personal grudge," Zelgadis concluded.
"It doesn't matter if you understand or not, I only wish to know the truth. I wish to know if they are the same," Cleo roared. "If Xellos is really the same as him, he'll somehow overcome this!"
"The same as who?" Zelgadis demanded in confusion. He didn't have the slightest idea of what Cleo was going on about and she seemed more interested in fighting than in talking. She appeared to be tiny and almost fragile, but Zelgadis knew not to underestimate her, especially since she was a dragon.
"Fireball!" Xellos shot out a fireball that flew past Cleo, missing her by several feet. The flame rushed by close to Zelgadis, crashing into the bushes on the roadside and setting them ablaze.
"Watch where you're aiming at!" Zelgadis shouted in annoyance, his cape had been close to catching on fire.
"I don't know what's happening, but it's suspicious that I haven't been attacked yet," Xellos voiced. "Are you still here, dragon child? Hurry up and get the one behind this!"
"As tempting as it may be to sit back and watch Xellos helplessly get beaten up by a dragon, while he can't even hit a target point blank with a fireball, I can't really do that." Zelgadis unsheathed his sword and casted Astral Vine on it. "I promised someone that I would keep Xellos safe and I intend to keep that promise."
"Your face tells me you're not particularly fond of him, and yet you'd still take his side in battle? Why would such a terrible monster deserve such treatment?" Cleo growled in anger, her long fangs and sharp claws starting to make an appearance.
Impatient with the lack of response he was getting, or rather because he couldn't perceive any sort of response save for the scent of something burning near by, Xellos casted another spell. "Freeze arrow!"
Zelgadis had to jump out of the way of Xellos' spell, something that he was not happy about. "Stop it! If you can't aim, don't fire!" Of course, it was useless to say that, since Xellos couldn't hear him anyway.
"We've wasted enough time. If you choose to defend that terrible creature, then you'll die along with him!" Cleo was surrounded by a bright golden light as she transformed into her dragon shape, ready to put up a fierce fight.
To be Continued