Zelgadis had seen a few golden dragons before, with Filia and Phythan being some of them. By his calculations, Filia must be of average size in dragon form. Phythan was as tall as Gourry in elf form, but he was relatively small as a dragon. He was still large enough to carry the whole group on his back with ease and compared to a human, he was huge, but he was noticeably smaller than Filia. That was a sure hint that a dragon's size in elf form couldn't be used to determine their size in dragon form. Even if Zelgadis knew not to underestimate his opponent, he wasn't expecting this. Cleo was huge, much larger than any other golden dragon Zelgadis had ever seen. "You've got to be kidding me, this is her true form?"
Xellos didn't know exactly what was going on, but he knew there was a battle. There were several dragons stomping around judging by the vibrations on the ground, or at least that was his theory. He didn't know it was only one huge golden dragon rather than a group of dragons. Strangely, no attacks had reached him, thus he theorized that the dragons were distracted with someone else, though he didn't know who. If they weren't paying attention to him, thinking that he was harmless in his current state, then this was his opportunity to get ready to attack. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows."
With a mighty roar, Cleo stomped towards Zelgadis, "it will be your end!" She let out a massive beam of laser breath that left a deep indentation in the land.
"Levitation!" Zelgadis dodged the powerful beam and retaliated with "Elmekia Lance!" Cleo easily countered with a laser that canceled out the Elmekia Lance and continued on a collision course with Zelgadis. He dodged the remainder of the laser breath, using the bright light of the attacks when they collided as a distraction to charge forward with his sword. Zelgadis only managed to make a small cut on Cleo's hand, as she quickly reacted by trying to claw him. She growled loudly, shooting out another laser breath that sent Zelgadis on the retreat once more.
While Cleo was focused on fighting Zelgadis, Xellos continued casting the Dragon Slave. "I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands. Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess."
Cleo stumped on the ground making it trembled as she dashed forward, slashing away at Zelgadis who kept narrowly dodging. She suddenly spun on one foot, swinging her tail. The long tail of golden scales collided harshly with Zelgadis, sending him to land hard on the ground. If he wasn't a chimera, he would have probably broken a bone. With another loud roar, Cleo tried to sink her claws into Zelgadis. His skin proved to be resistant enough, but the chimera was still in pain. He knew he better move when he saw Cleo raising her massive clawed foot to stomp on him. "Ray Wing!"
"Dragon Slave!" Zelgadis had retreated just in time to be out of the way of the Dragon Slave that caught Cleo unprepared. The effect was as usual, with a large crater on the ground, but the foe was not disintegrated this time.
The injured golden dragon emerged from the crater in bad shape, though she wouldn't be that way for long. "Resurrection!" Releasing a massive amount of healing magic, Cleo restored herself back to fighting conditions.
The enraged golden dragon targeted Xellos next, who felt the vibrations on the ground and knew there was something coming. He attempted to retreat enough to dodge it, but didn't get far away enough to avoid the hit from the dragon tail that threw him several feet away. Then a very large scaly claw picked him up from the ground.
Zelgadis realized that this battle would be even more difficult than he thought. Any opponent capable not only of surviving a Dragon Slave, but also of using high level healing with such speed and affectivity, was an extremely deadly foe. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite..."
"What are you? Some kind of giant dragon?" Xellos struggled to get free, but could not. At this rate, that big dragon would crush him to dust. Where was the distraction from before? Did the dragons get rid of it?
"Ra Tilt!" Zelgadis released the powerful spell, which hit the target right on. With another loud roar, Cleo was forced to release Xellos, who was caught by Zelgadis' Ray Wing, which provided a much softer landing than he would have otherwise had. "You better not be hurt too badly or Amelia's going to be really upset."
There was someone casting a Recovery spell on Xellos. As soon as he had recovered a little, he also casted Recovery on himself to make the process faster. "Who are you?" He couldn't help it but to wonder. Filia would have given him a panic filled kiss by now, so it wasn't her. Lina would focus more on the fight than on the healing and Gourry couldn't use spells. Maybe it was Amelia who had come to find him.
"As if I can actually answer that right now," Zelgadis grunted.
"Resurrection!" After a repeat performance of the powerful healing spell, Cleo was once again on the attack. She charged towards Zelgadis and Xellos wildly.
"We have to move!" Zelgadis levitated away, grabbing Xellos by the wrist as he moved. At least there was just enough time to heal him.
Xellos only knew one person with such a stone-like grip. "Zelgadis? I never would have guessed."
"I wouldn't have guessed either," Zelgadis admitted, though he wasn't heard. "You need to get out of here; you can't fight this dragon if you can't see her coming."
"I'm going to cast another Dragon Slave to get rid of the reinforcements," Xellos decided. "By that I mean stop trying to drag me around and go create a distraction." Since when was he willing to team up with Zelgadis anyway? Well, he wasn't, it was more like he had no choice, though he hated to admit he wasn't going to get through this battle without help.
"Reinforcements? There are no reinforcements, just one ridiculously strong golden dragon," Zelgadis uselessly pointed out. 'The Dragon Slave and the Ra Tilt alone won't work. We'll have to hit her at the same time, but synchronizing our spells won't be so easy, especially because casting them is near impossible while we're stuck dodging lasers, claws and a tail like this,' Zelgadis thought.
"Didn't you hear me?" Xellos insisted impatiently, "let go of me, I'm going to cast the Dragon Slave."
"This would be easier if we could communicate somehow," Zelgadis was very frustrated with the way things were going. He would exhaust his energy before he managed to land an effective hit if things went on this way. Cleo flapped her large wings, creating a wind current strong enough to blow Zelgadis away, despite his considerable weight, being part rock golem.
"Fireball!" Xellos threw out an attack when he felt a strong wind that blew him away and would have thrown him further if not because Zelgadis still hadn't let him go. The fireball surprisingly hit its target, though with little effect.
"Wind..." Zelgadis got an idea. He moved away from the line of incoming laser breath attacks, creating a wind current in the same direction as they went. "You're terribly annoying, but you're not stupid, so you better understand this." He stopped, let go of Xellos, gave him a little push forward and created another gust of wind in the same direction. Then he created another minor wind current like a miniature whirlwind and placed it on Xellos' hand.
"What are you trying to do?" Xellos paused, giving the situation some thought. "I get it..."
"Let's see if it's true," Zelgadis created another gust of wind that moved upwards.
"Hit the dragons from above? Easy! Ray Wing!" Xellos flew straight up very high beyond the clouds.
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Back at the inn, Amelia returned with a picnic basket in her hands. "Sorry I took so long. One of the shops in town just imported supplies from far away. They were a bit pricey since this land is still recovering from the famine, though it's not as bad as the towns closest to the main farm lands. They had such yummy looking ice-cream sandwich cookies that I decided to bring some to go with the cold lemonade." Amelia paused in the middle of her speech.
The princess had entered the room and started talking immediately, focusing on trying to fill the atmosphere with positive emotions, since she expected the area to be tense, given that Zelgadis and Xellos had been alone in the room for a while and they didn't really get along. She didn't notice until she was done with her speech that there was no one there. "Zelgadis? Mr. Xellos?" Where could they have gone?
Without another second to waste, Amelia went down stairs, asked the inn keeper to please place her basket of snacks in the icebox for a while, then went off to search the town. She knew she could trust Zelgadis to try to get along with Xellos for her sake, but she still had an uneasy feeling about this. On the bright side, the room's condition had not shown any signs of a battle taking place, thus the apparent fact that they left willingly was at least somewhat comforting.
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Cleo charged forward, she swung her massive tail at Zelgadis, who dodged skillfully and responded with "Bomb Di Wind!" The wind attack hit Cleo head on, but it wasn't enough to damage her. Her attention stayed focused on Zelgadis, as she went on an angry rampage of wild claw slashes, until three subsequent Flare Arrow spells hit her from above. Zelgadis took the opportunity to send a Blade Haut attack Cleo's way, following up with yet another Blade Haut and finally Bomb Di Wind again. The wind attack hit Cleo with a remnant current flying past her as a signal of her location.
Cleo was once again focused on Zelgadis, assuming that Xellos' earlier Flare Arrows were just a lucky shot. Then another trio of consecutive attacks came from the sky, this time Freeze Arrows. The distraction was enough for Zelgadis to go all out, attacking with consecutive successions of Blade Haut. Cleo finally decided that staying on the ground was too troublesome. She didn't know how Xellos was managing to hit her from above, but she could take him down more easily and at the same time free herself of being the target of Zelgadis' Blade Haut, plus have better mobility, if she was flying. Thus the large golden dragon flapped her massive wings and took to the skies.
Flying was exactly what Zelgadis wanted Cleo to do. Zelgadis followed with Levitation, flying several feet above the ground, but still remaining below the dragon, trapping her along with Xellos, who was levitating above Cleo. Zelgadis sent out another Bomb Di Wind, this time making it noticeably stronger. He then aimed at Cleo's wings with a series of Flare Arrows.
Xellos could tell her position from the wind current created by the movement of her large wings and knew she was moving around, angrily chasing after Zelgadis most likely. The wind target signal was stronger this time, which meant it was time to cast a bigger spell. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows. I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands."
Cleo was focused on Zelgadis' rapid attacks, trying to knock him out of the skies. The chimera had to put every bit of effort he had into dodging, sending out attacks as often as he could. Cleo appeared to be unaware of it, but several feet levitating above them, Zelgadis saw that Xellos had began to cast the Dragon Slave, which meant he understood the signal and it was time for Zelgadis to add in his own half of the battle tactics. Just as Cleo angrily reached forward to shoot a laser breath attack at point blank, Zelgadis let out a super charged light spell.
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Amelia was hurriedly making her way through the town streets, when she spotted a frustrated looking Filia, "Miss Filia!"
"Amelia?" Filia turned around at the voice, following the sound to spot Amelia making her way over down the street. "I've been searching for that dragon I saw earlier all over town, but I can't find her anywhere. I asked around and people say they saw a pointy eared blond leave town with a man, it was probably her." Filia didn't consider the possibility of Xellos being the man people saw, because he was supposed to be guarded by Amelia. Except for the fact that Amelia was right there without Xellos. "Where's Xellos?"
"Don't worry, he's with Zelgadis," Amelia assured. "I just went out to get a snack for Mr. Xellos. I'll try to help him endure these hard times as best I can."
"Thank you," Filia sincerely voiced. "I appreciate that you're keeping an eye on Xellos and being so helpful, but I thought Zelgadis didn't really get along with him."
"I'm sure they've put their differences aside and become friends by now." Amelia had a look on her face similar to the one she had when giving a justice speech. "In fact, even if the shadow of doubt invades my mind whenever I think about it, even if I can't help it but to feel a little concerned, I know it deep down in my heart that Zelgadis and Mr. Xellos have become great friends! That's why they weren't at the inn when I got back from the store. They must have decided to go out for a walk and get some fresh air like good friends would!"
Filia stared at Amelia. The golden dragon's face went from relatively calm, to concerned, to panicked. "They're gone? We don't know how strong the enemy may be! What if they both got kidnapped?"
"I really don't think that's what happened," Amelia assured. "The room showed no signs of a fight happening there."
"No fighting..." Filia couldn't really imagine Xellos and Zelgadis calmly going out for a walk. Xellos couldn't even tell where he was walking and Filia couldn't imagine Zelgadis being willing to lead him by the hand, very much less Xellos allowing it. Before Filia could decide if she should calm down or worry even more, a brilliant flash of light in the distance outside of town caught her attention. "What was that?"
"I don't know, but my sense of justice tells me that we should investigate!" Amelia bravely declared.
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Cleo was temporarily blinded by the bright light, her movements losing their accuracy, making it easy for Zelgadis to dodge her and cast a spell at the same time. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power hidden in my soul be called forth from the infinite..."
Xellos was almost done casting the Dragon Slave. "Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess..." Finishing the spell, he released its powerful force, "Dragon Slave!"
At the exact same time, Zelgadis released his spell as well, "Ra Tilt!"
The two powerful spells collided with Cleo simultaneously, attacking her from the physical and astral plane, leaving her with no escape. After the attacks had passed, the powerful dragon was surrounded by a bright light as she reverted to her elf form and fell to the ground below. She knew this was her end and she didn't want to die as a dragon, she didn't want the world to witness the death of another of her kind in their true form. She lay motionless in a pool of blood on the ground, feeling as if the broken pieces of her mind were fading.
"Zelgadis!" "Xellos!" Amelia and Filia arrived at the scene, rushing over to hug their respective boyfriends. All four of them landed, watching Cleo with perplexity. Except Xellos who couldn't actually look at anything for the time being, but he was glad to have Filia back. Though he would never admit it, if he was caught in the middle of a fierce fight, he was worried about her being caught in the middle of something worse.
Filia was the first to break the silence and address the dieing Cleo. "Were you the one who poisoned Xellos?"
"Poison?" Cleo choked out. "I didn't poison him, I cursed him. It seems he was already under the effects of a stronger curse, so it is no wonder that he didn't sense mine. It's his own fault for accumulating bad karma; I used the negative energy to curse him. Who knows for how long he would have to remain like that if the curse was only to run out when his bad karma does, a very long time, I would guess. However, it seems he will be undeservingly spared, because the death of the curse caster signifies the end of the curse."
Filia stared at the fallen golden dragon, who looked familiar somehow. "Cleo?"
"My name is Cleo Von Rupee, though I was born Cleo Ai Kant..." She closed her eyes as she continued speaking in a strained whisper. "Are you and him the same? Are you the people who freed that town? How could you be? Was it by the legendary Temple of Chronos or by some other means that you made your way to the past? I must know, before I die." The few people who had heard about the Temple of Chronos had various theories about it. Some said it was a time travel device, while others ascertained that its true function was to connect paths between alternate worlds.
"You really are the same Cleo," Filia realized. "You're the Cleo who was there with my grandmother and my father; you knew them before I existed. That time over nine hundred years ago... Yes, we're the same. We didn't find the Temple of Chronos and I cannot fully explain the means by which we were sent to the past, except by saying it was the will of a being of great power. That was not something we planned, we weren't thrown to that era of our free will, but we ended up getting involved. Are you here because the golden dragons sent you? Have you come alone?"
"The golden dragons are staying out of this, my actions are only representative of my own will," Cleo confirmed. Her voice became weaker and more strained as she went on. "After that time over nine hundred years ago, Narez continued to hold a great admiration for the mysterious human sorcerer and his golden dragon companion. You must have heard the name of Narez Von Rupee before..."
"Of course, who hasn't heard about the mysterious Narez?" Amelia immediately recognized the name. "He's never been known to have public autograph signings, but everyone knows the author of the Fluffy and Ice-cream comics."
"Bad things came from that occasion even if it looked as if it was good," Cleo bitterly revealed.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 074: Teasing! Among Friends
Clinging to life by a thin, breakable thread, Cleo made her final revelations. "Some of the humans that were released from that town nine hundred years ago were terribly bitter and wanted vengeance. They became the Dragon Slayer clan, which has existed through the generations. They especially hated Narez who wished to encourage the peace between humans and dragons through his art. Eventually, they killed him. Long before that, we feared for our son's life because of our past, so we kept our egg a secret. I gave the child to my cousin, thus Phythan Von Rupee took on the name of Phythan Ai Kant. Ironically, he doesn't resemble either Narez or me, but he is the splitting image of Narez's father when he still lived. How did he end up teaming up with a group that protects Xellos? I suppose I don't have the right to complain, since I was not the one who raised him, despite it being my duty as his mother."
Feeling her life extinguishing, Cleo slowly reached for a scroll she kept in her dragon robes. She was half golden dragon and half dimos dragon, albeit she looked like a golden dragon. The mixed blood gave her amazing strength, which was why she had survived that long after the deadly attack that pushed her to an inch of death. Despite the blood on her hands, the scroll strangely remained a pristine white. "I who have worked as a secretary in various aspects of the golden dragons' business for years, became the keeper of the main archives. The magical lists of golden dragon citizens revealed your name for a day not too long ago. I was the only one who noticed, as it was my job to watch over such things. I do not know why you wish to be a citizen of the golden dragons, Filia, but this scroll will grant you that if you sign it. It has no time limit, thus it will be valid until someone discovers you and removes you from the archives."
"With no current keeper on the job, it is likely that your name will slip by unseen. When you are removed from the archives, the signed scroll will disintegrate." Cleo took one last ragged breath. "In the end, I do not know what I was fighting for. To avenge my husband by condemning the one who saved the ancestors of his murderers long ago, since I knew I could not take on the elusive Dragon Slayers myself? Because I was frustrated at what my son had become? Or maybe because I had fallen into despair?" With those final ominous words of parting, Cleo's life finally ended.
As a result of the curse caster's death, Xellos recovered. He blinked in confusion as his sight returned to reveal an unexpected picture. "Just one? Did the other dragons escape?"
"There were no others," Zelgadis revealed. "We were only fighting this one the whole time."
"One dragon gave you this much trouble?" It looked like Xellos was back to his sarcastic mocking self. "I guess that's how it is for a weakling."
"You should talk! If it weren't for me, you'd be dead!" Zelgadis argued reproachfully.
"It was my Dragon Slave that defeated the enemy," Xellos retorted.
"No, it was my Ra Tilt that got her!" Zelgadis defended, though he knew it was actually the joined forces of both spells that were effective.
"The enemy wasn't defeated by the Dragon Slave or the Ra Tilt!" Amelia loudly declared with a definite voice that left no room for arguments. "It was the power of justice and friendship that made this victory possible!"
"There's no way..." Xellos felt his eye twitch in annoyance.
"Absolutely no way..." Zelgadis had a similar expression to Xellos.
With matching faces, they both declared in unison, "we're not friends!" The chorus caused them to glare at each other and reproach the other in a simultaneous, "don't copy me!" It was made funnier by the fact that even their expressions and twitching were in perfect synchronization.
As soon as Amelia managed to calm the fit of laughter that assaulted her and Filia, the Seyruun princess smiled happily. "You really have become friends, or close enough. I can tell that you've at least made peace with each other. I'm so proud of you Zelgadis!" Amelia had her shiny eyes expression of sweetness; it was Zelgadis' absolute weakness. Then she kissed him.
The chimera blushed as he returned the affection. He had a silly smiled on his face when they parted. "If it makes you happy, I guess it's okay."
Xellos snickered as he playfully elbowed Zelgadis, though he did so gently, remembering he was still human and Zelgadis was still part rock golem. "She's got you completely tamed."
Zelgadis returned the mocking expression, "you should talk."
Xellos held a look of unawareness that was probably real, "I have no idea what you're talking about." Never mind that his arm was currently around Filia's waist and he had not let her go for even a split second since she arrived. At least he could see and hear normally again, even if his empathy was still gone. Xellos assumed that it was something separate from the recent curse, something that he couldn't really explain, but was probably related to the time he spent trapped in the black cone gem.
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Filia, Xellos, Zelgadis and Amelia returned to town among the snide remarks of Xellos and Zelgadis about who was being bossed around the most by their respective girlfriends. "Whatever I may do for Amelia, I do it of my own free will, because I want to make her happy."
"I don't even have to do anything for Filia, she does stuff for me," Xellos replied with what he thought was a smart comeback. If he still had his empathy, he would have sensed Filia's increasing anger and realized it was a very stupid comeback. The fact did eventually sink in, but it was too late, as Xellos' indication that he might have said something wrong, was Filia's action of giving him a nasty glare as she removed his arm from around her waist and quickened her pace to walk ahead of the group. "Moody dragon..." Xellos muttered in annoyance.
Zelgadis gave Xellos a smug look as he placed his arm around Amelia's waist and she immediately snuggled up close to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Xellos, who knew he was being mocked, decided that a classic all purpose retort was in order and he stuck out his tongue. A look of disbelief invaded Zelgadis' features, before determination shone through and he responded in the same way.
Amelia sighed and slipped away from Zelgadis, who was surprisingly so absorbed in the task of blowing raspberries at Xellos that he didn't even notice. The Seyruun princess hurried ahead to catch up with Filia. The two women looked back one last time to find that Xellos and Zelgadis had stopped walking and where locked in a raspberry blowing glaring contest in the middle of the town's main street. Shaking their heads hopelessly, Amelia and Filia went on their way, leaving Zelgadis and Xellos to resolve their differences on their own.
Several minutes passed before Xellos and Zelgadis noticed that Filia and Amelia had left. They looked around their surrounding area and noticed that people were giving them odd looks. Then they finally spotted their missing girlfriends a considerable distance away, almost all the way back to the inn. Taking off in a desperate mad dash after them, they only managed to further convince the local town residents that they were both insane.
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At the inn, Filia borrowed a pen and signed up for a golden dragon citizenship in hopes that the name would slip by unnoticed in the magical lists of the archives, while Cleo was without a replacement. That wasn't enough to break Xellos' curse and Filia wasn't even sure if it was even necessary, but she might as well get that detail out of the way just in case. "I feel bad for Cleo. I wonder if Phythan has any idea about his parents."
"I don't know, it would be difficult to tell him, but he has the right to know the truth," Amelia voiced. "Maybe we can ask him about his family in friendly conversation and see how much he knows before deciding what to do with this information. A family are the people who help, protect and care, it doesn't matter if they're not related."
"I agree," Filia couldn't help it but to be reminded of her own family and the new family she had now, they were all the same to her.
Xellos and Zelgadis arrived, hurrying up the stairs to catch up with Filia and Amelia. They both stood at opposite sides with the two women in-between. They glared at each other, then wordlessly looked away, while Amelia and Filia exchanged knowing looks. Seeking a way to break the tension in the air, Amelia remembered her snack basket. "I got some refreshments earlier and left them in the icebox. Why don't we all have a nice snack now?" The suggestion was met with immediate unanimous approval, thus Amelia went off to get the basket with Zelgadis trailing behind her.
A few minutes later, Amelia and Zelgadis returned with the snacks to find Xellos and Filia kissing in the hallway. Accompanying them were Phythan and Onyx, who had just arrived at the inn after their little tour of the town. "It's the same..." Onyx quietly commented, while holding a comic book open to a certain page. The page depicted the main hero and heroine, Ice-cream and Fluffy sharing a moment of affection much like this one.
"They really are the same!" Amelia squealed with joy, which made their arrival obvious, thus Filia parted from Xellos and tried to pretend that she had simply been innocently standing next to him the whole time. "That reminds me, I need to get your autographs! To think that Fluffy and Ice-cream were both here all along!" Amelia gave the comic another glance, "that issue..."
"It's a special edition," Phythan explained. "Many artists have added to the comic series with their own interpretations of what Fluffy and Ice-cream looked like. In many versions, Fluffy is said to be an elf who was granted shape shifting power. It's kind of annoying how they censored the whole dragon and human thing when they realized where things were going with the two main characters. This issue is different, it's an original version with no edits where Fluffy is actually referred to as a dragon and they don't cut out the dramatic kiss scene right before Fluffy and Ice-cream go off to face the evil monster that has challenged them to a duel to the death!"
"You certainly know a lot about comics," Amelia observed.
"That's because my father drew the original version of the Adventures of Fluffy and Ice-cream," Phythan revealed with a noticeable sense of pride. "Many other artists have contributed to the series over time, but my father was the one who started it all, my biological father, I mean."
Amelia and Filia were immediately in attention. "Your biological father?" Filia questioned. She had thought that Phythan didn't know about his parents. Then again, that was before Filia and Xellos messed around with history, leading to the creation of the Fluffy and Ice-cream comics.
"I was raised by my mother's cousin, so Tifa is still related to me, though a little more distantly, but it doesn't really matter," Phythan explained. "My biological parents passed away a long time ago, their names were Narez Von Rupee and Cleo, who was previously of the Ai Kant family before she became a Von Rupee. So technically, even though I've always gone by as Phythan Ai Kant, my real name would be Phythan Von Rupee. I guess that doesn't really matter since I'm not inscribed as an official golden dragon anymore anyway. That was all supposed to be a secret before for some reason, but I think my mom and dad, the ones that raised me I mean, were probably just worrying too much, thinking I would get picked on for being an orphan or something."
Phythan knew part of his origin, though not the whole story. Amelia and Filia nodded to each other in a silent agreement that what he knew was enough for the time being. Xellos wasn't sure what kind of hidden communication was going on between Filia and Amelia, but he had something to inquire about from Phythan, which did not include learning about his family tree. "Phythan, report on Onyx's progress."
"Yes, sir!" Phythan did a funny little salute. "We went around town and Onyx said she was very bored. I showed her to a comic shop and she seemed right at home there. We talked about comics and she knew a lot about the characters and plot for someone with amnesia, I mean for someone who was only recently created. Then when she saw the special edition of the Fluffy and Ice-cream comic she smiled and I got it for her-ow!" Phythan's hastily spoken report was interrupted when Onyx stepped on his foot, an action which surprised everyone.
Onyx didn't even look annoyed, she had the same blank look she always had in her face, though her dark eyes looked a little more focused. "I guess no one likes being spoken of as if they're not even present," Xellos stated while he tried to look for any further indications of a thought process reflected on Onyx's expressionless face. She liked comics and some of her memories about them resurfaced. Maybe having Phythan keep an eye on her turned out to be a better idea then Xellos expected. He had to admit that figuring out the amnesiac girl would be easier if he could sense her emotions, or whatever small traces of emotions she might have.
Yet with his empathy gone and giving no signs of a possible return, Xellos would simply have to rely on more conventional observations. "We're making progress." Xellos said more so to himself than anyone else, with Onyx's response consisting of giving him a blank look before going back to flipping through her comic. This was Xellos' first mission since he started working for Beast Master again, and he certainly didn't want to mess it up.
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Meanwhile, up on the roof of the inn, Lina and Gourry had slept through all the most major happenings of the day. They had actually woken up a short while ago, but they were very comfortable so they didn't move. It was good to take some time off to relax every now and then.
Gourry seemed skilled in spotting all kinds of shapes among the clouds, many of which Lina didn't quite understand. "That one looks like you casting the Dragon Slave."
Lina tried to see herself in the clouds but couldn't. "It looks more like cotton candy to me, all of them do."
"That's because you're always hungry right after waking up," Gourry concluded.
"I guess it could be that," Lina agreed. She had gotten comfortable enough with her current position so that she could talk to Gourry without having her face turn into a fireball, despite the fact that she was still half laying on him. "You know me pretty well." She shifted slightly to see his face, hovering over him.
"You know me really well to," Gourry smiled up at Lina.
"I guess so," Lina felt her blush coming back. It was more difficult to control the coloration of her face when she was actually looking at Gourry straight in the face. She found that she couldn't go back to her previous position and stop looking at him either. Then she realized she wanted to kiss him and the second the thought even began to cross her mind, her blush went from clearly noticeable to alarmingly red.
"Are you okay, Lina? Your face is very red," Gourry inquired with concern as if he had no idea that he was the cause of Lina's current facial pigmentation. "Are you hot?" He was referring to the weather of course.
"Ho-hot?" Lina questioned in a nervous stutter.
"Are you?" Gourry innocently asked. "Because it feels like there's a nice breeze."
Lina shook her head trying to clear her thoughts. "I'm not hot, just hungry!" She snapped defensively. That's right, she was hungry and it was probably the lack of food that was giving her those crazy thoughts about kissing Gourry. Then again, he was her fiance and he had kissed her before. Given all those circumstances and the convenient fact that they were alone, there really would be nothing wrong if she did kiss him. He was obviously okay with having her close to him, a thought that made Lina take extra notice that she was somehow now completely on top of Gourry and he had both his arms wrapped tightly around her. When did their positions change to that? She could feel her heart pounding wildly as if it wanted to burst right out of her chest.
Finally, Lina couldn't stand it anymore. She went ahead and kissed Gourry. He seemed to be taken by surprise for a split second that Lina would actually take the initiative, but he soon gladly responded, intensifying their kiss. That was how they were found when Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan and Onyx arrived at the rooftop. Amelia thought it would be the perfect place to have a snack while enjoying the nice weather, the relative calm of the town and the cool autumn breeze. It was just Amelia and Zelgadis' luck that day that they kept walking in on kissing couples.
Feeling the unmistakable sensation of being watched, Lina parted from Gourry and slowly turned her blushing face towards the others. "What are you looking at?" She jumped to her feet immediately and went on the offensive, "Fireball!"
Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos, Filia, Phythan and Onyx went on an immediate retreat back down stairs, away from the wrath of the embarrassed Lina Inverse. In her haste, Amelia dropped the snack basket, which Lina picked up. Without another word, Lina began to devour its contents relentlessly, while Gourry nervously looked on. He wanted to ask her to share, but wasn't sure if it was the safest thing to do right now.
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After the peculiar detour was done and over with, the group later left town, to continue on their way to Seyruun. Thus Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan and Onyx were on the road again. There was an unspoken rule that no one dared to reference, but everyone knew and followed, that the event they witnessed between Lina and Gourry at the roof of the inn should by no means be brought up or even hinted at. It seemed that Lina was content enough with pretending she wasn't caught kissing Gourry and everyone else was content enough with pretending they had no reason to fear for their lives to be ended at the hands of the fiery redhead.
Time passed with stops at inns and some camping along the way, until eventually the group reached the majestic kingdom of Seyruun. Happy to be home, Amelia led the way to the castle where Philionel welcomed his daughter and her friends. Introductions were exchanged in relation to those who had not met Phil before and the whole group settled comfortably into their usual rooms at the castle. They weren't sure what course of action they should take next, but knew that the way would somehow present itself as it always did. For the time being, they would relax for a little longer.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 075: Ghost! Unfinished Business
The sun sunk in the horizon and night fell over the majestic kingdom of Seyruun. Lina and Gourry were happily raiding the kitchen determined to consume everything that had not been sent off to help supply the other lands. Amelia and Zelgadis were taking a moonlit walk through the gardens, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Phythan and Onyx had been given permission from Amelia to delight in reading her comic book collection, including her priced special edition full series of 'Fluffy and Ice-cream: Justice For All'. It was a peculiar side story where the duo acted as both detectives and lawyers, solving various crimes and defending the innocent.
With everyone occupied in their own tasks, that left Xellos and Filia with some rather peaceful free time on their hands, or so they thought. Xellos finished writing a few notes to send Beast Master, as she wanted him to keep her informed in Onyx's process. He was seated at a desk in his purple decorated room at Seyruun castle, which was filled with too many hints of pink for his liking, thanks to Filia moving most of her furniture there.
Filia claimed it was so that Onyx could take her room and that they wouldn't occupy too many rooms in the castle, which had plenty of vacant guest rooms anyway. She also claimed it was so that she could keep an eye on Xellos, to make sure he didn't cause trouble. Xellos knew it was simply because, one way or another, they always ended up sharing a room somehow, so she finally figured it was useless to try to pretend it wasn't true. His dear dragon was getting smarter...
Filia was brushing her hair in front of a mirror, humming cheerfully as she did. She set the brush down, put her hat on and got up, making her way to the window so she could gaze at the calming night sky. She peeked out and saw something unexpected, there was an adorable little kitten, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand, sitting on the windowsill. The tiny creature was white with brown and black spots and had golden eyes. "Aw," Filia reached out to pet the calico kitten, but the little one swiftly climbed up her arm, to her shoulder and jumped under her hat. Before she could retrieve the kitten from under her hat, Filia saw something else that took her by surprise. There was a semi transparent figure outside, floating near the castle. 'A ghost in Seyruun? I thought such beings would have trouble entering here.' Filia mused. Then the ghost headed straight for her all of a sudden at full speed and she didn't have time to dodge it as it flew, literally, into her.
Xellos took a moment to look over his finished report while the shadow of Filia could be seen from behind over his desk. He didn't move, pretending he didn't notice her. Maybe she wanted attention, which he was all too willing to give. The lighting spell, which was much better than candles to be used as light for writing, was starting to ware off. The brightly glowing orb floating overhead finally flickered and went out. Xellos felt Filia's hands on his shoulders from behind. He relaxed into her touch, but only for a few seconds before it became apparent that there was something wrong.
A pained whisper escaped Filia, "no..." Then her hands tightened around Xellos' neck as she lifted him off the chair. He tried to make her let go, but it took a few seconds for her grip to be loosened. "Run," Filia breathed, "run away!" She held her head in pain, screaming at the top of her lungs.
Xellos lit up the room with another light spell. The orb floated over their heads producing enough brightness for it to be easy to see Filia's face going from desperate to enraged, from fighting, to possessed. "Let go of her!" Xellos wasn't sure who or what was possessing Filia, but he wasn't about to let it take her. Besides, how was this even possible in Seyruun? Shouldn't the city have defenses against this?
"Xellos..." Filia spoke in an ominous voice. Her fangs were showing, her eyes were glowing, her tail was out and her hands were covered in golden scales, culminating in sharp claws. "My Xellos... join me in death!"
She tried to slash at him, with Xellos narrowly avoiding the attack. An exorcism spell would be good right about now, which meant finding Amelia was probably a good plan. "If you want to kill me so badly, you'll have to catch me!" Xellos taunted as he hurried out of the room and down the dim hallways of the castle with Filia close behind.
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Kally was walking down the hallway with a basket of various medical herbs in her arms when Xellos saw her. "I need an exorcism!"
"Oh, hello Mr. Xellos, Miss Filia," Kally cheerfully greeted. Though she was terrified of octopi, she wasn't easy to scare otherwise and she seemed to be a bit slow in taking notice of things, despite being such a genius with medicine.
Xellos ducked as Filia tried to claw his head off, then jumped when she attempted to trip him with her tail. "Never mind the greetings, exorcise her!"
"My apologies Mr. Xellos, I cannot remember why, but I have a feeling I should be upset at you for some reason." Kally mused, she had ran around in a panic after Xellos had said 'pulpo' on that day some time ago, a word that translated to octopus and made Kally think of her fears. All her wild running and screaming eventually made her pass out. She remembered everything up to the last few seconds before Xellos said the terrifying word, but her rampage was a blank. Even so, she did hold a certain amount of inexplicable resentment towards Xellos. "I'm afraid you'll have to endure your relationship troubles on your own."
Xellos narrowly dodge Filia's laser breath. "I'm not having relationship troubles. Filia is having possession troubles!" He argued.
"Nonsense," Kally shook her head in disbelief. "Ghosts cannot easily enter Seyruun and possess someone. This city is protected. I'm sure Miss Filia is simply angry at you. If you think hard you might be able to figure out why. Have you forgotten any birthdays, anniversaries, or any special dates recently?" Kally paused, realizing that Xellos was several feet away, dashing down the hallway with Filia still following him. She shrugged and continued on her way, this was none of her business anyway.
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Kally was of no help, though Xellos was reasonably sure that she did know a few exorcism spells. Of course, that was useless if she wasn't willing to cast them. He made a mental note to say octopus in her presence at some point in the future. Xellos ran for his life, then rolled for his life when he reached the stairs and tripped on them, wishing he had casted a levitation spell instead. He painfully scrambled to his feet and continued his dash through the lower levels of the castle. Wasn't the kitchen near by? If there were evil spirits in Seyruun, then something had to be wrong. It might be a good idea to share this information, thus Xellos hurried into the kitchen where he knew he would find Lina and Gourry.
"Back off, Xellos!" Lina didn't even give Xellos the chance to speak. "The chocolate ice-cream pie is mine and so is the rest of the food!" Lina loudly growled as she aggressively hurled silverware at Xellos. The knives, forks and even the spoons, became embedded on the wall behind Xellos in a shape outlining his silhouette.
Realizing that he would be in double the danger with not one, but two wild women trying to assassinate him, Xellos hastily retreated out of the kitchen.
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Xellos continued his run for dear life with Filia still chasing after him. He hurried out of the castle, running past Kalio, who was standing guard at the back exit that led to the royal gardens. The castle guard sighed sadly, "it seems that everyone has a special someone except me. Maybe one day I'll have someone to lovingly chase me under the moonlight."
Not catching anything from what Kalio said, as he was far too focused on the task of making a speedy get away, Xellos ran across the royal gardens. He jumped over the sign that read 'Don't step on the flowers. -Aeris' disregarding the gardener's request by trampling several white and yellow flowers as he hurried away.
Xellos finally spotted Amelia and Zelgadis, happily walking around at a slow pace, hand in hand; laughing about some joke only they could understand. "Amelia, exorcise Filia!" Xellos ran in circles around Amelia and Zelgadis, with Filia still chasing him.
"Mr. Xellos, what did you do to make Miss Filia so upset? You should apologize at once!" Amelia commanded.
"I'm telling you, she's possessed!" Xellos argued, still running in circles around Zelgadis and Amelia, with Filia continuously chasing him.
Amelia placed her hands on her hips in an upset way. "How could Miss Filia be possessed here in the heart of Seyruun? Not only that, but I'm sure she knows exorcism spells. Miss Filia would not be an easy target to possess. I think you just don't want to admit you've done something to upset her!" Amelia adamantly insisted.
"Filia really is possessed!" Xellos argued uselessly. Why was it that no one believed him? Just because he often upset Filia enough to make her look as if she was possessed by something fierce, didn't mean people should disregard it when he told them she really was possessed. "Can't you cast an exorcism spell just in case? If it turns out I'm wrong then I promise to apologize!"
"Somehow, I don't think you're going to keep your word," Zelgadis doubted.
"I don't think so either," Amelia initially agreed, before giving it some further thought. "Even so, it's only fair to give Mr. Xellos a chance." She casted an exorcism spell on Filia. If she wasn't possessed it would be harmless anyway.
Filia stopped running suddenly in front of Amelia and Zelgadis. Xellos was so focused on keeping his legs moving that he finished running the full circle around them until he bumped into Filia's back. He stumbled back and watched Filia as she stood there with her fists clenched, tail swinging left and right, her whole body twitching with tension. "Get out!" The golden dragon screamed at the top of her lungs. A ghostly figure floated out of Filia, but it was only visible for a moment before it went back in. "No! Get out! Get out... Let me go..." Filia's countenance changed to pure evil and she let out a mighty roar worthy of a golden dragon. "Join me in death, my Xellos!"
Saying 'I told you so' was usually very satisfying, especially for Xellos, but not on that occasion. "You see? I told you she was possessed, I told you so!" After making such a declaration, Xellos resumed his previous activity of running for his life.
Amelia and Zelgadis watched on in shock as Xellos ran all over the gardens, being chased by a murderous Filia. "She really was possessed," Amelia reiterated.
"That was unexpected," Zelgadis admitted.
Amelia nodded, still in shock. "I guess that means we should help out?"
"If you want to," Zelgadis voiced.
"Coming through!" Xellos was running right towards them, causing Zelgadis and Amelia to jump left and right so Xellos could run past them, with Filia chasing him closely.
"Wait up Miss Filia! Let me try that exorcism again!" Amelia joined the mad dash, with Zelgadis tagging along after her.
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Xellos entered Seyruun castle once again, in hopes of losing Filia in its many hallways. Lina and Gourry were just coming out of the kitchen, with Lina holding a chocolate cake, covered in sugary white frosting, with cherries on top. "This will be my midnight snack later," she happily decided in a song-like voice as she practically skipped back to her room with a satisfied stomach.
Lina was about to turn the corner, when Xellos suddenly showed up running as if his very life depended on it, which it did. "Out of the way!" Xellos was followed by Filia, who was followed by Amelia, who was followed by Zelgadis, all of them running in a wild stampede.
"Eep!" Taken by surprise, Lina jumped in a startle and tossed the cake she was carrying into the air. "No!" The world seemed to move in slow motion for the gluttonous sorceress as she watched her precious cake land on Gourry's head. "My cake! You'll pay for this!" The furious Lina ran after the group, with a cake covered Gourry following after her.
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At the Seyruun castle library, Onyx was situated at one of the tables reading a comic, while Phythan sat next to her drawing. He was rather talented in art and enjoyed it very much. It was his dream to become a famous comic artist like his father. His only problem was that though his art was beautiful, he wasn't very good at coming up with interesting stories to tell and often ended up drawing random scenes.
Phythan paused and examined his pencil. He glanced around for a pencil sharpener and spotted one on a neighboring table. He walked over to get it, picked it up and quietly stood over the trash can, that was easily visible next to the entrance, and proceeded to carefully sharpen his pencil. He softly tapped his tail on the floor while his attention was focused on his pencil sharpening task. His tail sometimes came out when he was drawing. It was an automatic habit akin to someone sticking out their tongue on the side of their mouth when in deep concentration.
Xellos continued his desperate exploration of Seyruun castle, arriving at the royal library. He dashed in and accidentally stepped on Phythan's tail as he went, causing the dragon to let out a very loud painful roar. Phythan's pain was made worse when Xellos' little parade of chasers mimicked the action. Filia, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry all dashed by, following Xellos' every step a little too closely. They didn't seem to notice their action in their haste and continued chasing after Xellos between the book shelves with no librarian working after hours to tell them to stop running and be quiet.
"My tail, my poor tail!" Phythan cried pitifully. A loud noise invaded the library as a shelf was knocked over with books and dust flying all around. The shelf collided with the one next to it creating a domino effect that all those at the library scrambled not to be crushed by.
In the hallway outside of the royal library, the group took a deep breath of relief, with some coughing at the dust that was still in the atmosphere. The trance of relief at having escaped being crushed was soon broken when Filia once again growled, "join me in death, my Xellos!" She continued where she left off, once again trying to murder Xellos, who was once more running for his life.
The exasperated Xellos ran away followed by the murderous Filia, who was followed by the excited Amelia, who was followed by the vexed Zelgadis, who was followed by the angry Lina, who was followed by the confused Gourry, who was followed by the upset Phythan, who was followed by the curious Onyx, who was the slowest runner of the group.
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The sound of yelling in the hallway alerted prince Philionel that something was wrong. He sat up on his massive bed and adjusted his light blue hat with little yellow stars that matched the fabric of his pajamas. Curiously, Phil listened to the voices in the hallway, recognizing them.
"Snap out of it!" A desperate Xellos.
"Join me in death!" A murderous Filia.
"Stay still!" An excited Amelia.
"What could have caused this?" An annoyed Zelgadis.
"My cake!" A distressed Lina.
"Wait for me!" A confused Gourry.
"My tail hurts!" An agonizing Phythan.
"This is fun..." An amused yet monotonous Onyx.
All the owners of the voices invaded the royal chambers when Xellos dashed in, with the whole parade still after him. They ran around Phil's room creating a loud ruckus, knocking things over and making a big mess. Then just as suddenly as they arrived, they left, dashing out the door in the same order that they came. Philionel was left in open mouth puzzlement for several seconds before he cheerfully declared. "I don't know what's going on, but you're all so full of energy I want to join in!" Then he ran after them.
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Xellos' random running next led him to the Seyruun castle storage basement area. He reached out to open a large door, finding it to be locked. He turned around just in time to see Filia swinging her claws at him and dodged. Instead of reaching Xellos, Filia's sharp dragon claws collided with the lock on the door, breaking it. Xellos took the opportunity and dashed further into the deeper levels of the basement.
Xellos and all those after him arrived at a large storage room cramped with boxes. He ran for his life leaping and dodging the merchandise as if it was some kind of obstacle course. At the center of the storage room, protected by a magical barrier, there was the magical pearl known as the fickle wish granter, which was said to contain the spirit of a heartbroken mermaid. Amelia threw another exorcism spell at Filia, this time with a good amount of extra power to it. The possessed Filia dodged it and Amelia's magic collided with the force field around the pearl, causing it to short circuit and fade out.
The pearl glowed brightly as a ghostly mermaid appeared floating before it. Stunned beyond words, Xellos, Filia, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina, Gourry, Phythan, Onyx and Philionel watched on in shock. "Lost spirit, I sense that your pain is very much like my own. You too suffer with a broken heart. I thought that no one could understand my sorrow, but you surely can. Allow me to call you my sister and let us find in each other the courage to finally pass on!" The mermaid ghost extended her hand towards Filia.
The ghost within Filia came out, finally releasing her from the possession. Upon closer inspection, the ghost looked familiar. "Saramina?!" Xellos jumped back. He thought she was gone forever, but she came back to haunt him after all.
"That mermaid... that peaceful light around her... I feel that this person truly understands me. Yes, dear lady, I shall call you my sister!" Saramina's ghost glanced at Xellos. "I'm done chasing after you Xellos, my heart will no longer be broken because of you. It is time for me to move on!" Saramina and the mermaid ghosts faded away, and the magical wish granting pearl dissolved into dust, which also disappeared.
"I'm finally free," Filia took in slow calming breaths. "It seems that when I exorcised Saramina, I only destroyed her zombie body and her spirit was left to wander."
"How did she enter Seyruun?" Amelia inquired in concerned confusion.
A little calico kitten popped out of Filia's hat and jumped down to the floor. The tiny creature was surrounded by black light as it took on a different form to reveal her true identity as Lord Beast Master Zelas Metallium. "The answer to that is quite simple, I escorted her here. As for my purpose in doing so, that holds an easy explanation too, I wanted some amusement. Well, it's been fun; I bid you all sweet nightmares!" Fading away to the astral side, Zelas was gone.
To be Continued