Lina, Kally, Kalio and Phythan were trying to come up with a plan to defend against the dragon slayers' expected attack. They remained in the small cave under the seaside cliff, planning and plotting, all except for Gourry, who just sat around relaxing to the sound of the calm ocean waves. The peace and quiet was interrupted by a sudden voice, which came from a certain troublesome jellyfish woman, who levitated just above the waves in front of the cavern's entrance. "Phythan, I found you! Oh, Gourry's here too, the pain of heartbreaks past and present."
"Miss Medusa, I was looking for you," Phythan wasn't sure how she managed to find him, but he might as well get his apology out. "I wanted to apologize for-"
"Don't lie to me!" The heartbroken jellyfish cried. "You weren't looking for me, you were hiding from me. Oh cruel love! If I can't have you, no one can!" She laughed insanely, in a far creepier way than Martina and Naga put together. "I've made new friends; they were the ones that told me where to find you. When I confessed what a horrible heartbreaker you are, toying with the emotions of an innocent maiden before cruelly abandoning her with an eternally broken heart, they agreed to assist me in your punishment!" Medusa shouted and sobbed at the same time as if it were all a scene from a very bad soap opera. "My heartbreaks past and present, you shell both drown!"
"Put a sock in it!" Lina yelled all of a sudden as she slapped Medusa across the face. "Are you going to spend the rest of your life whining because some guy dumped you? You're pathetic! Grow some guts and move on!" Lina's speech was interrupted by the arrival of a tidal wave that swept away all those inhabiting the area and threw them to the sea. Lina emerged from the water and started to levitate right above it. "Where did that gigantic wave come from?"
Gourry, who was floating in the water next to Lina, felt accomplished that he knew the answer. "It came from the ocean." Lina decided that such an obvious reply should not be dignified with a reaction beyond a simple groan.
"That wave was made by my friends!" Medusa victoriously declared as she began to levitate next to Lina. "Although, they could have waited for me to get out of the way..." She added addressing the ocean.
Several small rounded heads started peeking out from the waves where Phythan, Kally and Kalio were still floating in the water next to Gourry. "Sorry Miss Medusa, we'll be careful next time!" One of the sea creatures spoke as they became visible on the water's surface.
"Octopus..." Kally's eyes widened as all the color was drained from her face. "Octopi!" She screamed at the top of her lungs and Ray Winged her way out of there, throwing the levitating Lina and Medusa back into the sea.
"I don't know what that was," Medusa surfaced in the water, levitating once more. "But it doesn't matter, that girl has nothing to do with this anyway." She backed away in the air allowing her army of octopi to take the front lines. "Go my friends; drown the terrible men that broke my heart!"
Lina was ready to go on the attack, Gourry couldn't fly and fighting from the water would put him at a disadvantage. Phythan was ill, which left her and Kalio as the main attack force of the team. She glanced at the magic using swordsman about to mention something akin to a plan of attack, but it didn't look like Kalio was quite all there.
"I hate octopi," Kalio's voice was ominous and could be classified as murderous. "I hate octopi!" With some well controlled levitation, it looked as if he was running on the water's surface, swinging his sword wildly, slashing away at all the octopi that got in his way. There was no stopping him, he was completely berserk.
Severed tentacles rained upon the water, giving Lina an idea. "That's it!" She helped Gourry out of the water with one hand, forming a ball of fire in the other. "Hey, Phythan, do you think you can manage a levitation spell in your condition?"
"Yes, I can at least do that," Phythan joined Lina and Gourry in the air, levitating above the water, while Kalio still continued going crazy with his octopus killing spree. "I think there's something really wrong with Mr. Kalio," Phythan stated the obvious.
"Let's make the best of the situation, Fireball!" Lina shot several fireballs in rapid succession at the water below, where the octopi were being torn to pieces. Soon, a peculiar scent filled the air.
Gourry curiously grabbed one of the tentacles from the water, "it's octopus soup!" He bit down on the cooked limb. "The salty water really gives it a nice flavor!"
"Don't eat it all yourself!" Lina protested. She felt oddly proud of herself for having prepared a delicious meal that Gourry enjoyed.
"Here," Gourry held out a piece of octopus for Lina to eat. Without a second thought, she bit into the octopus meat, not thinking about how she might look being fed by her fiance.
Phythan looked at the banquet in the water and wrinkled his nose in distaste. "I think I'll pass. Besides, those octopi saved my life. I wouldn't feel right eating them no matter how good they might taste."
"Octopus! Octopus!" Kalio floated above the water, swinging his sword wildly at the empty air in front of him. "I hate octopi!" He looked around like a wild animal searching for prey to dismember, but he had already massacred all the octopi. "Octopus! There's one left, die!"
Medusa was levitating above the water a few feet away, trembling in fright, scared out of her mind. "No, I'm not an octopus, I'm a jellyfish!"
Kalio only partially heard Medusa; he was starting to wake up from his berserk trance, but his sword was already heading towards Medusa. He tried to stop himself, he tried to hold back, but his blade still reached her, albeit he managed to hold back enough not to kill her. The injured jellyfish woman let out an earsplitting wail of pain as the cold steel of Kalio's sword made a diagonal cut across her face, which was also her torso considering she was such an odd being. "What have I done?" Kalio cried out in horror, "what have I done?" He dived into the water to rescue the sinking injured jellyfish then quickly Ray Winged to another location to treat Medusa's wounds.
"They're gone," Phythan once again felt the need to state the obvious. Everything happened so fast. Medusa's arrival, her attack with the octopi, Kally's panic, Kalio's berserk rage, Medusa's injury, Kalio's retreat with Medusa... It was mind boggling and what was even more perplexing was that Lina and Gourry were so focused on the food and each other that they seemed to have missed the conclusion of the dramatic events. "Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry, Miss Medusa and Mr. Kalio left!"
"Thesh lash teh-tah-clesh ish minefh!" Translated, Lina's speech between her teeth meant 'The last tentacle is mine'. The sound impediment was due to the fact that she had said tentacle in her mouth as she spoke.
"Nofh fairsh!" Gourry retorted in the same way, which in normal speech would have come out as 'not fair'. They both kept competing for the octopus meat until they each consumed half of the last piece, their lips meeting after the last bite of food.
Phythan backed away slowly, then went on a full retreat. He remembered Fluffy and Ice-cream accidentally did something like that in a special edition Valentines' Day comic while distractedly eating spaghetti, but he had never seen it being done with an octopus tentacle. Either way, he figured Lina and Gourry were busy, so it was time for him to leave and let his cousin know that he was alright. That dip in the ocean seemed to wake him from his dizziness enough to journey back to the wooden clock tower at least.
xoxox xox xoxox
For what was left of the day, Kalio and Medusa remained missing, while the disoriented Kally didn't remember anything past the point of the tidal wave. She regrouped with the others at the wooden clock tower, where she learned of the happenings as eloquently told by Lina when she showed up to collect her pay. Of course, the word octopus was conveniently omitted from the narrative for Kally's benefit. As a result of the recent events, Kally resolved to go search for her brother.
Tiffany advised Phythan to remain at the clock tower, where Onyx also was. That left Lina with yet another overpaid job as a bodyguard, which meant she got to laze about eating snacks and reading comics along with Phythan and Onyx, while accumulating more coins to her name. Life was good, for her at least.
xoxox xox xoxox
A new day began at Amor Resort with Kally still out looking for Kalio and Lina still enjoying her easy employment. Elsewhere, at one of the resorts many luxurious honey moon suites, Filia parted the curtains, moved the glass door aside and stepped into the balcony of her and Xellos' room. She took in a deep breath of morning air, feeling revitalized after taking some time to... rest. She felt Xellos coming up behind her, but before he could throw out some kind of snide remark about her hair being messy since she just woke up, never mind that his hair had not been brushed yet either, a familiar melody invaded the sound waves. A small bird perched himself on the balcony, chirping contently.
"Delivering news of an emergency in such a cheerful tone?" Xellos inquired. "Who said you could copy me?" Curious to see what could be annoying enough to have Jarde in such a good mood, Xellos took the small paper the bird carried. "This isn't for me."
Filia caught sight of the name on the envelope and snatched away the letter. "Last time I wrote to Jillas and Gravos I included instructions about how to summon courier birds, I guess this means they figured it out. I can't wait to read what they have to say!"
"Judging by how happy Jarde sounded, it has to be pretty bad," Xellos reminded.
"Maybe he wasn't copying your sarcasm," Filia refused to believe anything could be wrong with her family until she confirmed it, though a part of her was starting to worry.
"He was chanting 'emergency, emergency!' I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying," Xellos insisted with a cheerful grin.
Filia huffed, her best plan of action was to simply open the letter and prove that there was nothing wrong. But that wasn't good enough; she had to throw some kind of comeback at Xellos. It had to be something that would really annoy him. Something that he couldn't counter with criticism of his own, something like a compliment. "It's really cute that you can understand Jarde," she petted the small bird gently. "He's a monster, but he's so cute and it's just adorable when he communicates with you."
Xellos crossed his arms and glared, "stupid dragon," he grumbled in annoyance while Filia grinned victoriously.
Unfortunately, Filia's victory was short lived, because the letter she held really did bring news of an emergency. Her eyes widened as they took in the words written on the letter. Her expression became a sharp contrast to what it was before, she was worried, perhaps even terrified. "Something's wrong with Val," her hands trembled as they gripped the sheet of paper. "Jillas and Gravos can't figure out what to do, but they think something's really wrong. I need to go home right away!" Without waiting for Xellos' reply, Filia ordered Jarde, "find Fang and tell him to come here!" The bird was too small to transport her via the astral side, but Fang should have enough power to take her the long distance with ease.
Jarde chirped indignantly and turned his back on Filia, standing on the balcony railing. He was a courier; he delivered letters and occasionally small packages. It was true that he could communicate with Fang well enough to get the fox to follow him, but that wasn't what he did. He delivered written messages.
Filia grabbed the stubborn bird, holding him tightly in her hand and shaking him. "Go get Fang this instant or else!"
Jarde squeaked in fear and faded to the astral side while Xellos gave Filia a nod of approval. Only a few seconds passed before Jarde returned with Fang, though it felt like much too long for Filia. Once Fang had arrived, Filia wasted no time in demanding to be taken to her home town. Thus Filia, Xellos and Fang, faded into the astral side for a trip that Filia knew would turn her stomach upside down, but this was the fastest way to go and there was no time to waste.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia faded into existence in her living room, stumbling around with her hands on her stomach. "Going through the astral side always leaves me disoriented, but the longer the trip the worse it is." She soon became alert to the sounds coming from Val's room and hurried over, followed by Xellos and Fang. "What's happening?"
Filia's sudden entry startled Jillas and Gravos, who were crowded around Elena, with Palou running in circles around them as if that would help the situation in any way, though one couldn't blame an energetic child for being an energetic child. Fortunately, Elena was able to stay calm and keep a gentle hold on the glowing dragon egg that had been given to her to watch over. She was a mother, thus Jillas and Gravos assumed she would know what to do about Val's glowing pulsations, since she had experience taking care of a baby. Never mind that this baby was of an entirely different species. "Val is glowing and pulsating, I told Jillas and Gravos that I thought he was hatching, but they're afraid it might be some kind of serious illness."
Filia observed the glowing and pulsating egg. She carefully cradled little Val in her arms as Elena gently passed him over, while Jillas and Gravos waited with baited breath for Filia to give her verdict. "Calm down," the golden dragon finally spoke with a smile, which caused the collective held breaths of Jillas and Gravos to be simultaneously exhaled in relief. "Elena is right, Val is about to hatch," Filia gently caressed the smooth see-through surface of the egg and the pulsations seem to increase in a happy rhythm. "It's alright, mommy's here to welcome you into the world," she sighed happily as she cradled her precious child.
"And so is daddy," Xellos added in his most teasing tone.
Filia pouted, a part of her thought it was cute that Xellos called himself Val's father, but the reasonable part of her that still subsisted past the warm and fuzzy feelings reminded her of how mischievous Xellos was. Filia loved him, but that didn't mean she should lower her guard around him and allow Xellos' mischief to run loose. That could only end in troublesome chaos, but she didn't have the heart to snap at him, not this time, not in front of Val. "You just focus on hatching, my little Val, daddy will come visit you again soon. Your aunt, uncles and cousin will make sure he stays out of trouble in the mean time and mommy will be here to guide you through everything."
Xellos raised an eyebrow in curiosity. The aunt, uncles and cousin were Elena, Jillas, Gravos and Palou. Who knows, maybe Filia even counted Fang as another uncle since he was technically a relative of the father, though blood relations obviously weren't important in this peculiar picture. "Why must daddy be kept out of trouble?" Xellos innocently asked.
Filia's pout evolved into a frown, "you know perfectly well why. The first living being a newborn dragon sees is the one the baby will listen to the most. Both my parents and my grandmother were there when I hatched, but since I caught sight of grandma first, I would always listen to her the most." Of course, Filia was a generally obedient child who listened to everything her mother and father said too, but what her grandmother said was always special in a way she couldn't explain. "That's the way it is for golden dragons, so I can only guess it's the same way for ancient dragons."
"Thanks for that valuable piece of information, stupid dragon." Xellos purposely grinned mischievously, getting on Filia's nerves. "Although, I must say, I fear for Val's safety if he only has you to count on through his hatching. It would be for the best if I saw to it that he makes it out alright."
"That shows how much you know!" Filia held Val's egg protectively as she snapped at him and began to share the facts as if giving an academic lecture. "I have experience; grandma told me all about how my hatching went." Albeit Filia obviously didn't remember any of it, since she was a newborn and all. "I know what to do and I know you're not supposed to help the baby dragon out of the egg; that could hurt him. Val needs to overcome this first trial of life on his own and though I want to help him, I will do what's best and allow him to hatch at his own pace. I'll only cheer for him. As for you, I'm not letting Val see you first and listen to you when you tell him to misbehave like a mischievous boy more that he'll listen to me when I tell him to behave like a good boy!"
"If I leave him to you, he'll grow up to be gutless," Xellos continued his teasing.
The pulsations of the egg increased, getting Filia's attention. "He's hatching! He's hatching! Get out!"
"I'm not-" Xellos was going to say that he was not going anywhere, but the combined strength of Gravos, Jillas, Elena and Palou forced him out of Val's room.
Fang stood around wagging his tail, his ears twitching curiously. "Fang, please get everyone. Tell them Val is hatching and help them teleport to the living room, then wait there with them." Without question, Fang did as he was told.
xoxox xox xoxox
It took only a few round trips through the astral side and some minutes for the whole gang to gather at Filia's home. Fang sniffed out Kally, though she seemed too preoccupied with the search for her brother to give Fang more than a split second of attention, excusing herself by saying that an ex-dragon slayer wasn't worthy of witnessing the miracle of a new dragon life. She didn't even try to ask the fox to sniff out her brother's location, almost as if she was afraid to find him before she was ready to face him after all that happened.
In truth the Kalamari siblings shared a special almost psychic connection and the search was just an excuse for Kally to go off and try to compose herself, though she actually could easily locate Kalio if she tried. Thus with the exception of Kally and Kalio, everyone else was there: Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Phythan, Onyx and even Celo, Tiffany, Zangulus and Martina were present.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 080: Rebirth! The Light Of New Hope
Gravos, Jillas, Palou, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Zangulus, Martina, Phythan, Onyx, Celo, Tiffany and Fang watched as Xellos paced across the living room for the twenty-something time. Elena emerged from the hallway with all eyes immediately landing on her with curious expectant gazes. "It will be a little while longer, it seems that first hatching was a false alarm, but it's definitely happening soon. I just finished setting everything up so Filia can bathe him when he hatches. Val needs to concentrate to find the strength to break out of his egg. If there's a big crowd when he comes out of the egg it can frighten little Val."
"Yes! You can do it Val! Keep going, that's it! Go Val!" Filia's voice was heard from Val's room, catching everyone's attention. Val was hatching, this time for real. Xellos attempted to head over, but Gravos blocked the hallway, shaking his head in a silent indication that Filia's wishes should be honored.
"Filia told me where she kept the baby dragon formula, I'll go prepare it." Elena headed over to the kitchen to prepare a bottle for Val.
The rest of the group remained in the living room, listening to Filia's cheers and watching Xellos pace impatiently. Unable to take it any longer, Lina paused her activity of stuffing her face with the potato chips she stole from the pantry and warned, "you're going to make a hole on Filia's rug if you keep pacing around on it like that."
Xellos looked down at the pink oval on the living room floor. "It's an ugly rug anyway," he remarked with his usual squinty eyes grin, though his expression showed impatience shining through the cheerful mask. A well hidden part of him couldn't help it but to wonder what this would signify for him and Filia. It was obvious Filia intended to raise Val and she was being extra careful with that task. Surely she knew better than to actually expect Xellos to behave, he was a trickster, it was in his nature to cause annoyance. Given those two seemingly incompatible facts, where did he stand in all of this, where did they stand? He wondered what Filia expected of him, or if she expected anything at all. "Why must that stupid dragon be so loud?"
"Don't worry, Mr. Xellos, child birth is supposed to be loud, that's perfectly normal," Amelia assured.
"Filia isn't actually giving birth," Xellos pointed out, "or laying an egg for that matter. She's just watching over an egg that's hatching."
"Regardless of the technicalities, when a baby is born a mother is loud," Amelia insisted. "That's just the way it is, I've seen a few births in Seyruun, it's always good to have someone who knows white magic near in those cases and I volunteered to help. I've never seen an expectant mother who isn't loud... or an expectant father who can sit still," the princess added with a smile.
Xellos knew Amelia was referring to his impatient pacing around, though he decided he was probably better off pretending he didn't catch the hint.
xoxox xox xoxox
The glow of Val's egg slowly faded as the sphere cracked and the baby inside it fought to make his way out. He could hear the familiar voice that spoke to him gently in the past now cheering loudly, as if she wanted him to go to her. Answering to his mother's calls, Val clawed at the egg shell with his tiny arms, pushing a portion of the egg aside and sticking out his neck. He finished making his way out of his confinement, crawling out into a soft material, and slowly opening his small eyes. The world was bright, but it didn't bother him, his egg had a see-through shell thus he was used to the light.
"Val," the baby ancient dragon focused on the source of the voice, the image forever recorded in his mind. "I'm so happy you're here, my little Val." Filia gently held her child in a soft blanket. Everything was silent as the world seemed to stop on that very moment. "Let's get ready to meet your family." She set him down next to the small container of water. "The water is nice and warm, whenever you're ready, honey."
The tiny black dragon curiously crawled out of the blanket cocoon. He stretched his small arms and legs, he could move around easily enough, as it was natural for a baby dragon, though it would be a few days before he was ready to fly. He kept his small wings close to his body and was yet to try to extend them. It would probably be a while before he attempted his first transformation into a human-like form. For the time being, he would remain in his true form until he gained enough control to change. Val dipped his tail into the warm water and looked at Filia, who had an encouraging smile on her face. He slowly went into the container, splashing around a little and making a giggling sound, with more of a dragon-like tone to it, though it was still baby-like in pitch.
Filia watched Val play for a few more seconds before she got to work on getting him all cleaned up. He didn't seem to want to extend his wings yet, though she would have to get him to do that soon as the thin membranes of the wings needed to be properly cleaned so as to not risk infection. The black feathers that characterized the wings of the ancient dragons would grow out in a few days. Debating on it for a second Filia, finally called out, "Xellos, come help me get Val ready!"
xoxox xox xoxox
The living room was filled with mutterings about what was happening and why everything was so quiet all of a sudden, until Tiffany spoke up. "Just so you know, dragons don't usually cry at the top of their lungs when they're born."
"Then Val hatched," Xellos assumed. That would explain why Filia had stopped cheering him on, the trial of breaking out of his egg had already been accomplished. He didn't waste another minute, making his way to Val's room as Filia called him, while everyone waited with excitement until Val was ready for them to see him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos entered Val's room, spotting the tiny dragon splashing around while Filia carefully cleaned him with a soft sponge. "Filia?"
Filia received him with a smile that was absolutely radiant. "Look Val, daddy's here." Xellos approached them under Val's curious gaze. "Could you help me finish bathing him? I have to clean his wings."
"I knew you wouldn't be able to do such a simple task on your own," Xellos teased, as it was expected for him to do. Nonetheless, he was secretly glad that Filia trusted him enough to call him over to help her take care of Val. All that teasing Filia by calling himself Val's father was in the past, because somewhere along the way, Xellos ended up being given the role for real.
"I knew you would have something like that to say," Filia retorted, though she was in too much of a good mood to sound annoyed. "Just hold Val still and comfort him. His wings are a little stiff and stuck together. It might annoy him to stretch them out, but it needs to be done."
Filia's request seemed easy enough to accomplish. Xellos removed his gloves and rolled up his sleeves so as to not get them wet. He tried to hold Val still, though it didn't really seem necessary, as Val was only lightly splashing around anyway. Filia gently tugged on one of Val's wings and the little dragon, growled in protest. Filia looked heartbroken. "Is something wrong?" Xellos inquired.
"No, Val is alright, it's just that I know this is going to be uncomfortable for him but I need to do it anyway." Filia frowned. "C'mon, sweetie, please bear with it, your wings will feel much better when they're not stuck together anymore. I'm trying to help you, honey."
"You're a wimp," Xellos teased with a mocking grin.
"Be quiet, I have to be careful. Newborns are fragile," Filia argued with a slightly more defensive tone. As strong as dragons were, their young were exceptionally fragile right after hatching. She tugged on Val's wing again, applying a pale blue baby soap as gently as she could. His wing extended a little, though Val still squeaked in protest and squirmed in Xellos' hands. "Keep him still," Filia reminded.
Xellos attempted to do so, but he realized that Filia wasn't kidding when she said newborn dragons were fragile. Val felt almost disturbingly breakable with such a small body that could only house thin bones in his diminutive size. Surely he would grow and become far stronger than any human could be, but for the time being, he was more fragile than a human baby. Keeping Val still would be a lot easier if accidentally crushing him wasn't such a real and present possibility.
"There, I'm all done with this wing." Filia finally released Val's right wing from her hold. The tiny ancient dragon stretched it fully and flapped it in relief. "See? I told you it would feel better. Now be a good boy and let me clean your other wing." More willing to cooperate now, Val didn't put up much of a fight, instead trying to willingly stretch out his other wing. It wouldn't move so he tried harder, ending the attempt with a cry of complaint. "It's alright, honey, don't push yourself. Mommy's here to make it all better," Filia cooed. She took an extra moment to observe Val's wing. "The wing's membrane is stuck with the fluids from the egg. I'll have to be extra careful."
"How come his wings are like this?" It was obvious that this Val didn't have the memories of his past existence, or else he wouldn't be so calm to be near Xellos. But Xellos did remember that Valgaav's wings were different, they weren't so paper-thin and fragile.
"It's because he just hatched, his wings will develop over the next few days, then he'll be able to fly," Filia explained.
"With how thin his wings are right now, I'm surprised you haven't poked a hole through them with how clumsy you are." Xellos teased with his usual mocking sarcasm.
Filia froze, unable to continue the task at hand. She pouted and glared at Xellos, finally snapping, "don't make me more nervous then I am!" Then she took a deep breath and counted to ten to calm herself before continuing.
Filia was finally done with the cleaning. She gently tugged on Val's wing. He tried to extend it again and succeeded, though it stung, causing little Val to squeak in discomfort and bite Xellos' hand. Xellos immediately moved his hands away from Val in an automatic motion. "He bit me!"
"Don't make a scene, you'll upset him!" Filia warned with emphasis.
"I'm not making a scene," Xellos argued. Val seemed to disagree, as he was letting out a series of upset sounds. "Don't blame it on me; I wasn't the one who hurt him."
"He's not injured, he's upset!" Filia argued. "He only bit you by accident because his wings were stiff and stretching them out hurt. He's upset because you let him go so suddenly."
"It's not like I dropped him," Xellos pointed out. He noticed that Val was looking at him with sad eyes. Dragons could be pretty sensitive at times, if Filia was any indication. "It's okay, I'm not mad at you." Xellos reached out to pet little Val, touching the top of his head and his long neck with the end of his fingers. Val produced a giggle-like sound and happily snuggled against Xellos' hand as if wanting to be held again.
"Here, you can dry him." Filia handed Xellos a towel, though on second thought she added, "just leave the wings to me."
"That might be best," Xellos agreed, missing a chance to tease Filia, albeit there would be plenty more opportunities.
After Val was dry, he was placed into a new soft blanket, snuggling comfortably into the cocoon of baby blue fabric with yellow stars in Filia's arms. "Are you ready to meet the rest of your family?" Filia smiled at the tiny bundle in her arms, the baby gazing back at her with curious loving eyes.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia made her way back to the living room with the newborn Val in her arms. Everyone curiously surrounded her, saying something or other about how cute the baby was. The noisy crowd made little Val retreat further into the cocoon of the blanket, only peeking out slightly. "Aw, it's okay Val," Filia tried to coax him out. "Everyone is just excited to see you, don't be shy." Val peeked out from under the safety of the warm soft blanket and curiously examined the multitude before him.
"You're so cute!" Amelia squealed with joy as she slowly reached out to Val. The tiny dragon observed the approaching hand but decided not to retreat. The following touch on the top of his head was gentle and soft. Val shifted around in the blanket and peeked out further, with growing curiosity about the world around him.
Feeling him squirming around, Filia decided to set him down. "Here you go Val, go greet everyone." The little dragon crawled out of the blanket and took a few steps as the room was invaded with a chorus of "aw!" Val retreated to the safety of his soft blanket for a moment before peeking out again with another similar reaction from the people around him. He journeyed out again and the next thing he knew, everyone was on their knees calling him over.
Val made his way over to Lina, who petted him like Amelia had done before. The little dragon curiously sniffed her hand then eyed the bag she held on her other hand, making a little noise in indication that he wanted it. "What? You want my chips? Do baby dragons even eat chips?"
"They're baked chips, it's okay for Val to have some of those," Filia approved.
"Really? Well okay," Lina took some chips out of the bag and offered them to Val who gladly ate them from her hand.
"Wow, Val is so cute you're even sharing food with him, that's really something," Gourry commented while he gently petted his new little nephew on the head.
"Be quiet jellyfish brain! I'm always a very generous person," Lina defended, everyone knew it wasn't true, but nothing beats the power of cuteness.
In a similar way, Val curiously approached every person in the room one by one. Jillas and Gravos were all too happy to see Val hatched and in such a cheerful mood. Elena was reminded of when Palou was born and treasured watching the two little boys as the young fox told the little dragon about how they would be great friends, promising to come play with him often. Zelgadis was reluctant to hold Val at first, fearing that the tiny creature might dislike the less than soft texture of his skin. Amelia picked up Val and held him close to Zelgadis, then the little dragon playfully jumped on the chimera's shoulder, dissipating any self-conscious doubts Zelgadis might have had.
Tiffany was reminded of her days living among dragons, it had been a long time since she had seen a baby dragon. Celo was quite curious, as a high level of curiosity was in his nature. He also had a feeling that a certain someone would show up soon, which he quietly communicated to Xellos with the look in his eyes. Xellos nodded in understanding, though he made no attempt to give Filia a heads up. Fang was happy to have one more potential playmate, so he was quite cheerful with the event. Phythan was all too glad to be another honorary uncle and thought it would be lots of fun to have a nephew to visit and play with now and then.
Onyx watched in silence until Val curiously approached her. She studied him and he studied her. "Not a drooling screaming creature but a quiet, well behaved elegant being from the start... I like dragons." She finally concluded.
"You like dragons? As in dragons in general or just Val?" Phythan inquired like a little boy with a crush, which he in certain ways was.
"I have not met a sufficient number of dragons to generalize. However, I do not dislike the dragons I have met so far," Onyx replied in her usual monotone, albeit sometimes a hint of emotion shone through.
"That's good, I think," Phythan concluded.
Val had continued his exploration of the living room and examination of its inhabitants. He was a bit startled by Martina's sudden joyous squeal as she loudly exclaimed, while pointing her index finger at him, "I want one!" Deciding to be brave, Val curiously approached the loud creature that luckily turned out to be gentle after all. "Aw, how cute, I want one!" She insisted, while she cradled Val in her arms.
"You want a baby dragon?" Zangulus asked. "Even if dragons have some sort of adoption program, I doubt they would let a couple of humans raise one of their own."
"No silly, not a dragon, a baby," Martina giggled. "It doesn't matter if it's a dragon, a human or a spawn of Zoamelgustar. As long as it is our child, I'll love it with all my heart!"
Zangulus blushed slightly, "our child?" Then he went over Martina's words in his head again, "why would our child be a dragon or a spawn of Zoamelgustar?"
"Well, maybe not a dragon, but Zoamelgustar is kind of like a part of me in a sense, so that might interfere in terms of genetics," Martina mused. "It would be all of our child, yours mine and Zoamelgustar's!"
Zangulus gulped in worry, "great, we'll be a happy little family." He hoped that if they did have a child, the part about it having Zoamelgustar as a sort of third parent was only Martina's active imagination and not an actual possibility.
After having satisfied his curiosity, Val returned to Filia, eyeing the bottle she held curiously. Filia once again wrapped her baby in his blanket and offered him the bottle. "Here's some yummy dragon formula for you, say thanks to aunty Elena for preparing it." Val made a pleased sound as he drank from the baby bottle.
The living room once again fell mostly silent as everyone seemed to be entertained by watching Val drink the milk-like substance that was the dragon baby formula. It seemed thicker than regular milk though, due to the added extra proteins. The quietude was shattered by a loud voice calling out from the front entrance, "Gravy!" The voice got closer as its owner found that the door was unlocked and let herself in. "Gravy, I came to visit! Ah ha ha ho ha ha!"
"Naga," Gravos went to greet his dear Naga, while most of the others present wondered quietly about how such an odd pair could work. "You're just in time to meet Val."
"Val?" Naga curiously approached, making a pause to look around the room. "Everyone is here; this must be quite the occasion."
"It is," Amelia smiled happily; she rarely got to share any special occasions with her sister lately, so she was thankful for this. "Val is our nephew too."
"Aw how cute!" Naga gently tickled little Val who giggled. "Auntie Naga is very happy to meet you! Ah ha ha ho ha ha!"
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 081: Dramatic! Building Up Tensions
"That laugh, that style of clothing..." Martina commented as she observed Naga.
"Yes? Did you say something to me?" Naga inquired.
There was a certain challenging tone to the atmosphere which was beginning to worry all those present. "I am Martina Zoana Mel Navratilova, the queen of Zoana!" The pale haired woman loudly declared with abundant pride. "Ah ha ha he ha ha!"
With the same volume and pride, Naga answered to the challenge, "I am Gracia Ul Naga Seyruun, the legendary White Serpent! But you can just call me Naga... Ah ha ha ho ha ha!"
You could cut the tension with a knife. Amelia wasn't sure if she should interfere with the possible war that was apparently about to break out, or advise everyone to run for their lives. This could potentially be as deadly as a pissed off Lina's Dragon Slave. Time stood still as Naga and Martina stared each other down, until they both loudly declared in unison, "best friends!"
The rest of the group stared in disbelief, with Lina solemnly muttering, "we're doomed." The newly acquainted best friends began to laugh together. Val produced a little high pitched growl of discomfort and hid himself in the blanket, holding his tiny paws on the sides of his head. Then the earth suddenly began to shake, causing Lina to yell, "shut up, you're making an earthquake!"
Martina and Naga quieted, coincidentally just as the earthquake ended. "Such is the power of our combined laughter!" They unanimously cheered.
"I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence," Xellos pointed out. Albeit no one seemed to be listening to him, as their ears were still ringing from having heard the two most annoying laughs in the world simultaneously.
"It could be a bad omen," Jillas frowned.
Then suddenly, another person joined the already crowded living room, teleporting out of the astral side right in the middle of it. Before Filia could stop herself, she voiced, "oh no, you were right, that was a bad omen!"
"What did you say, dragon?" Zelas glared in Filia's direction.
"A good omen, that earthquake we just had was a great omen, because the wonderful Lord Beast Master is honoring us with her presence." Filia laughed nervously, fearing for her life and most of all for Val's life. If she had to take a guess, she would conclude that Fang told Zelas about what was happening.
"It is an honor for you indeed," Zelas agreed with a mocking expression. "Don't worry, I'm not here to put on a pair of white gloves and run my fingers on every dusty surface of the house just so I can criticize how filthy your living quarters are. Maybe I'll do that in another occasion, but right now I'm only here to see Val." Zelas approached Filia, who held Val in her arms, while giving Xellos worried looks. Val peeked out from the blanket now that things had quieted down and stopped shaking, staring curiously at the lady who wasn't there before. "I see..." Zelas muttered mysteriously. Then she stepped back and announced, "well, I've seen Val, so I'll be going now."
"That's it?" Filia inquired in disbelief. This was far too easy and it worried her.
"I did say I was simply here to see Val, have you forgotten already?" Zelas feigned surprise. "There are things that science cannot explain. The fact that you're still alive despite not possessing a brain is one of them," she smiled a mocking smile.
Filia felt herself twitch in annoyance. "Oh yeah, now I remember," she growled through gritted teeth. Zelas wasn't there just to see Val; she was there to bother Filia and the golden dragon knew it. In a grim corner of her mind, Filia knew that she better get used to occasional visits from Zelas, who was without a doubt the most fearsome mother-in-law in the known universe.
"Wait a minute!" Naga and Martina exclaimed in a chorus. Lina wished they would stop being so synchronized, it was creepy.
"There's a certain elegance to her," Martina observed.
"Yes, and I must say I really like the jewelry," Naga added.
Martina and Naga nodded to each other before unanimously inviting, "join us!"
Zelas blinked, finding herself face to face with two of the few humans who were strange enough to surprise even a monster lord. "Join what?" She curiously inquired, while Xellos, Celo and Fang shook their heads frantically, but were ignored.
"Join our group of best friends," Martina explained.
"Of course, you must have the laugh for it," Naga elaborated.
"Laugh..." Zelas grinned, "so you want to hear my laugh?" Celo and Fang exchanged looks, then looked at Xellos, who had a horrified expression upon his face. They had the so called honor to hear a real loud all out laugh from Zelas in the past and it was an experience they would not soon forget. Letting the suspense hang in the air for a few more seconds, Zelas finally spoke. "Perhaps in another occasion, this is a busy time for me. I need to prepare for the winter holidays and all." With that said, Zelas disappeared, fading away into the astral side.
"That was close..." Xellos breathed in relief.
"What's her laugh like full force?" Filia felt compelled to ask.
"It's like a mix between a roar and a howl that makes entire armies run away in fear," Xellos explained. Filia shuddered as she thought about what they almost witnessed.
"That sounds pretty cool," Naga observed.
Martina nodded, "I agree, I would like to hear her laugh one day." Martina and Zangulus had become aware of Celo and Tiffany's true nature, but they didn't know who Zelas really was yet. Albeit they might find out sometime in the near future.
"Me too," Naga concurred among the hopeless head shaking of most of those present.
A few seconds of blissful silence passed before Gourry made a seemingly stupid observation that took him way too long to analyze. "It's still fall, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's fall," Xellos confirmed, remembering his little argument with Filia about the use of the words fall and autumn. "The trees are drying up, the leaves are falling off. All the vegetation is falling and dying." The remark was, as expected from Xellos, spoken full of cheer.
"Actually, it's more proper to say it's autumn," Filia argued. The word autumn was much more elegant in Filia's opinion and less gloomy sounding than fall. Plus it was more season exclusive than fall in terms of what it could mean.
"Oh," Gourry dumbly acknowledge. "I thought so. I guess Zelas must be planning a really big party for the winter if she's getting ready for the holidays this early."
Of all the places to find a clue, in the words of Gourry Gabriev was the last place Xellos would expect it to appear. What looked like too much stupidity to be capable of interpreting sarcasm could be a stroke of genius in disguise... or just a useful observation fueled by dumb luck. Xellos glanced at Fang, who looked like the possible hidden meaning of Zelas' words had gone clear over his head. Then he looked at Celo, who shook his head lightly, in an indication that he did not know what was going on. Xellos couldn't draw much information out of this, but whatever secret plans Zelas had that she couldn't even share with her own general and priest were to take place no later than in the coming winter.
xoxox xox xoxox
Things had calmed down at Filia's house. Celo and Tiffany had returned to their duties at Amor Resort. That meant that Zangulus and Martina had to return to work as well. Phythan, who had been feeling better, got another wave of annoying dizziness and decided to retreat to the Amor Resort wooden clock tower to try to sleep it off. Though one would have to wonder if he wasn't just running away from the possibility of being auctioned again. Onyx's payment didn't go through, thanks to Xellos halting the transaction, leaving Phythan in her property once more. She had a word about it with Xellos, though that was not the only topic of conversation, nor was it the most interesting one.
"I'm not going to approve the transaction, even if Filia gets angry. She's in too much of a good mood to get really annoying right now because of Val. If anything, this is the perfect time to cancel that stupid shopping spree of hers. If you want money, you could track down that jellyfish or I could call up Galathia. I'm sure either of them would be all too happy to purchase that useless dragon Phythan, they both have such bad taste." Xellos stated his case while Onyx remained silent. She had requested to speak to her so called brother privately, though Xellos wasn't sure what sort of argument she couldn't speak in front of everyone else. Perhaps she thought she had blackmail material in her hands, albeit Xellos couldn't imagine what it could possibly be.
"I see..." Onyx didn't look like she would put up much of an argument about her lost fortune.
"So, what was it you really wanted to tell me?" Xellos inquired curiously, maybe she had remembered something. Maybe she knew what the Lord of Nightmares sealed in her.
"I'm a defect, aren't I, brother?" Onyx finally asked. "I have this amulet to rely on for self defense," she referred to the winged wolf necklace Zelas had given her. "Yet I have no power of my own. My monster power has not awakened and it doesn't feel like it will any time soon, perhaps never. I'm a failed experiment, the human side somehow poisoned the monster side, maybe even erased it from existence. Why was I made into a chimera? Why such a weak creature? I'm certain I would have been better off as a monster. What is my purpose, why did Zelas create me?"
"I can't give you that answer," just when Xellos thought he might be getting a good clue, it turned out Onyx had more questions than answers. "Finding yourself and all that cheesy stuff is something you need to do on your own. You should go with Celo and the others and take some time to think, figure out your existence and all that meaningless and insignificant stuff," he smiled like he always did when mocking someone.
"Very well," Onyx replied in a monotone, though there was a well marked hint of angry and sad frustration in her eyes. In the end, Onyx tagged along with the group that headed back to the resort.
A day passed and by then Lina and Gourry had consumed all the food at Filia's house, thus they returned to Amor Resort as well, along with Amelia and Zelgadis. Naga's urge to wander around kicked in and she said her farewells, continuing her trip around the world again. That left a relatively calm atmosphere at Filia's house with just Filia, Xellos, Val, Gravos and Jillas there, plus their close neighbors Elena and Palou. Needless to say, Filia was all too happy to have the chance to relax and enjoy taking care of little Val, even if relaxing with Xellos around often proved to be a difficult task.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, Amelia and Zelgadis were going around Amor Resort enjoying their time together. Things had slowed down for the group once again, though they deep down knew the peaceful and calm atmosphere wouldn't last for long. The princess and the chimera were enjoying a picnic in the park area of the resort, with a checkered blanket on soft grass beside the shade of a tall tree surrounded by fallen leaves and a basket full of delicious goodies. They spotted two familiar faces not too far away, where Phythan was playing fetch with Fang, who was in his fox form.
Everything was peaceful until a loud voice called out, "there he is!" As a tentacle pointed at Phythan. Medusa was back, having survived her seemingly mortal wound with a scar that went down diagonally across her face to show for it.
Medusa only had one companion as her ally this time. He was a young man, whom Amelia immediately recognized and called out to him. "Mr. Kalio! Where have you been? Miss Kally has been worried about you!"
"My sister can find me when she so pleases." Kalio didn't lift his gaze from staring at the ground. "I'm not surprised she hasn't come to face me, after all, I'm a traitor to everyone. I'm a traitor to my promise; I'm a traitor to Seyruun and a traitor to justice!" He dramatically declared.
Amelia gasped with equal drama, her expression filled with disbelief. "This cannot be! Mr. Kalio, you always worked hard at Seyruun and followed the path of justice! Why do you call yourself a traitor?"
Inpatient and angry at the prolonged exchange, Medusa interrupted. "Kalio, if you have truly sworn your loyalty to me, you'll kill that cruel heartbreaker!"
"Miss Medusa, I've actually been meaning to apologize," Phythan began, though no one seemed to be paying any attention to him.
"I'm sorry princess Amelia," Kalio still didn't look up, his eyes sad and ashamed. "I injured this innocent maiden and endangered her life. Though she survived, she has been scarred for life by my lack of control. That is why I must swear my loyalty to her, to compensate her. My life now belongs to Miss Medusa, so I can no longer serve the fair kingdom of Seyruun. Please forgive me, your highness, but I must do as Miss Medusa tells me to. Kally, dear sister, wherever you are, I'm sure you can sense the suffering of my tortured soul. I'm sorry, but I must raise my sword against a dragon once again, even if I swore never to do that." Kalio finally lifted his face and glared at Phythan, drawing his sword. "En guard dragon!"
Phythan stood still like an idiot in shock as Fang kept tugging at his clothes with his paw, trying to get him to notice the little ball at his feed so he could throw it again and continue their game of fetch. With the same exaggerated dramatic flare with which he had delivered all his lines thus far, Kalio charged forward, sword in hand, aiming to pierce Phythan's heart.
"No!" Amelia dramatically cried out, while Zelgadis was the only one who actually moved to do something about the situation.
The chimera unsheathed his own sword and soon the clash of metal against metal echoed all over the park. The clueless bystanders assumed that this was one of the many shows that the resort had to offer and formed a circle around the battle zone to watch the sword fight. "Stop this nonsense!" Zelgadis demanded. "If you don't really want to betray justice and kill Phythan, then don't do it!"
"I have to!" Kalio stepped back, freeing his blade from its lock against Zelgadis'. "Don't you see? This lovely dedicated maiden has stolen my heart, but hers is broken. If Miss Medusa is to gain the strength to love again, her past heartbreak must be avenged!"
Zelgadis blinked with a weirded out expression, "what?"
"Hey, wait a minute! I thought Miss Medusa liked me!" Phythan protested like a child whose candy was stolen by a classmate.
Amelia gasped loudly, "it's a love triangle! How romantic!" She was in her soap opera fan hyper mode, a side of her that shone through on occasion. Such as that time when Gourry was dragged to be involved in that strange dramatic incident with a family of fish people.
Medusa got a starry eyed look with metaphorical hearts floating all around her. "My dear Kalio, I had no idea you felt that way about me! End the life of that horrible dragon so that I can forever put the memory of his hot naked body out of my mind and focus on my new relationship with you!"
Kalio's jaw dropped, his face turned red and his eyes twitched wildly in an alternating rhythm of left and right. "Just what kind of relationship did you have with Miss Medusa you... you... you... you beast!"
"I'm a dragon, not a beast," Phythan pointed out. "Although I am Beast Master's intern, so maybe that makes me like an honorary beast? Anyway, I have no relationship with Miss Medusa what so ever, so you don't have to get all jealous."
"Calm down, Mr. Kalio," Amelia tried to solve the situation as peacefully as possible. "Mr. Phythan is completely innocent in every way. It's just that he has no modesty what so ever when it comes to transforming. In fact, we've all seen him," she paused, noticing that Zelgadis was frowning and looking generally annoyed. "But it was such a long time ago that I barely remember anything," the princess quickly added with a hint of embarrassment.
"I see..." Kalio was visibly relieved, but he wasn't about to back down from the fight. "None the less, I must carry out this battle to the bitter tragic end! Please step aside princess Amelia, I must fight this dragon!"
"I won't!" Amelia adamantly argued. "Mr. Phythan is an ally of justice and I cannot allow you to harm him! Besides, if you act in such an unjust way you'll be hurting yourself too, Mr. Kalio. The terrible regret of injustice will consume you!"
"The terrible regret of injustice is already consuming me!" Kalio stubbornly insisted.
Zelgadis huffed in exasperation, "Amelia, if they really want to fight, let's just let them fight and get it over with. There's obviously no reasoning with this guy."
Amelia looked as if she was about to disagree, but before she could voice her thoughts, Phythan stepped forward. "A brave warrior of justice never backs down from a challenge. I will defeat Mr. Kalio in battle and prove to him that justice always wins against injustice. Then he'll leave his unjust ways behind and once again become an ally of justice!"
Feeling all excited and inspired by Phythan's little justice speech, Amelia joined in with a few encouraging words of her own. "Yes, go forth bravely into battle, Mr. Phythan. The power of justice is with you to help save Mr. Kalio and guide him back into the path of justice!"
Without any further warnings, Phythan transformed into his dragon shape, roaring a loud battle cry. Zelgadis was a moment too late in covering Amelia's eyes, which left him grumbling in annoyance. Medusa wasn't making things any better by shouting out, "kill him dead, very dead! Because otherwise such perfection would be impossible to forget!"
Amelia moved Zelgadis' hand away from covering her eyes, repositioning his arm around her shoulders. He blushed, seeing that though she, naturally, didn't want a hand obstructing her view of the battle now that Phythan was fully transformed and modesty issues didn't apply, she didn't really push him away either. Amelia always made it clear that she very much enjoyed having Zelgadis near her and that made him fall in love all over again every time it happened. "I can't believe how big it is," the princess commented with amazement.
Zelgadis nearly choked on air, almost too afraid to ask. "How big is what?"
"Phythan's horn," Amelia innocently pointed out. "It was barely noticeable before, but now it's like a really big sword."
"You're right," Zelgadis acknowledged and it looked as if Phythan was putting that horn to use by parrying Kalio's sword with it. The golden dragon's movements were clumsy at best, since he wasn't use to wielding a horn like this, but it was somehow effective against every blow. For the eyes of a skilled swordsman such as Zelgadis, it was easy to detect that Kalio wasn't really trying. It was clear he didn't want to fight Phythan, even if he was compelled to do so by some odd sense of obligation mixed with a strange crush on an even stranger jellyfish girl.
To be Continued