Amelia and Zelgadis had been on top of the wooden clock tower discussing a problematic letter that just arrived from Seyruun, when they heard Filia's tortured voice and rushed to her aid. "Miss Filia!" Amelia fell to her knees next to Filia, looking her over for injuries and hugging her, trying to calm her.
Zelgadis searched the room for anything suspicious, but couldn't find anything. "What happened? Were you attacked? Where did they go?"
"Xellos... Xellos..." Filia's quiet strained voice sobbed into Amelia's shoulder.
"Did they take Mr. Xellos away?" Amelia theorized with worry.
"No, we weren't attacked," Filia choked out. "Xellos... he hates me." The golden dragon tried to calm herself, realizing that she was seriously worrying Amelia and Zelgadis. Filia tried to dry her tears though they would stubbornly keep coming out. "He's gone; he broke up with me and left. He wants to be like before, a real monster, he doesn't want to have feelings for me anymore. He thinks I've done something bad to him, he hates me!"
Amelia tensed, her face becoming enraged. "How could he?" If Xellos was still in the room, he would have gotten a very painful extra strong Pacifist Crush to the face that would have probably broken his nose. "Don't cry Miss Filia, Zelgadis and I will find Mr. Xellos and knock some sense into him," literally, or they would break his bones trying.
"Please don't," Filia begged, her strained throat was still scratchy. "I could have done that myself. His fighting style as a monster involved a lot of speed, teleportation and being able to release his power in an instant. It takes time for him to power up the big spells as a human and though it doesn't show too much, his movements don't flow as easily. He's come far, but he's still not adapted to the same level of skill he had before. I can take him, but I won't. I want him to be with me by choice. If he's truly disgusted with how he has changed, then I need to show him it's not so bad. I need to show him he's still powerful, still capable, still cunning, that he's still himself." Which meant accepting that she was still herself. That she wasn't just caught in a series of exciting events and wishful thinking through fairytale eyes. "Let him take a breather, I'll find him and talk to him after we've both had time to calm down."
xoxox xox xoxox
After a while of crying on Amelia's shoulder, Filia finally calmed down. It was just in time for the arrival of several people. "Miss Filia, are you here?" Sylphiel's voice called out from the first floor of the clock tower.
"Filia, we're back with Val!" Pokota added.
"Coming!" Filia replied, her voice still strained from all the yelling, while Amelia continued to give her a concerned look. "It's okay, I can face this... That stubborn piece of raw garbage just needs to cool his stupid monster pride for a while." Filia got on her feet and began to make her way down the stairs, followed closely by Amelia and Zelgadis.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the first floor of the clock tower, Filia, Amelia and Zelgadis found that not only Sylphiel, Pokota and Val had arrived, but also Jillas, Gravos, Elena and Palou. "How are you boss? We came to help with the wedding preparations!" Jillas cheerfully greeted, though his good mood evaporated as soon as he got a better look at Filia's face. Her features were slightly swollen and her eyes were very red.
"Are you sick?" Gravos tentatively asked. Filia looked more depressed than ill though.
Little Val flew from his previous position perched on Jillas' head, into Filia's arms. He looked up at his mother with a worried look, cooing softly. "I'm okay; I just have a bit of allergy today." Filia forced herself to smile and gave quick glances to Amelia and Zelgadis, begging them silently with her eyes to play along. She didn't want anyone else to worry about her... and declare this Xellos hunting season. "The wedding is still a way off; the preparations are taking longer than expected, so it'll be a while. You're all welcome to enjoy the amusement park attractions of the resort in the mean time."
"Are there roller coasters?" Palou excitedly asked.
"Of course!" Filia assured, albeit there was a huge line to ride them. "Why don't you all go enjoy the rides together?" The suggestion was met with unanimous agreements, though the group was clearly not quite convinced about Filia's allergy excuse.
"I should be getting back to my job now," Sylphiel realized. "It was nice meeting everyone," she smiled at Filia's family that she just met. Val had recognized them as they were making their way through the resort towards the tower and they walked there together from that point on. Before leaving, Sylphiel looked at Filia and smiled, "from what I've heard, you're a good and brave person, Miss Filia. I'm sure your dreams will come true."
Filia smiled back, with the first hint of sincerity. She had been through a lot and something as seemingly simple as stupid stubbornness wasn't going to make her throw away everything she had. "Thank you..."
xoxox xox xoxox
After Sylphiel was gone, Gravos, Jillas, Elena, Palou, Pokota and Val went off to enjoy the amusement park attractions. Filia stayed behind with the excuse of having some things to take care of, insisting that the others should go ahead and have fun. Then she set out to go for a walk and clear her head, assuring Amelia and Zelgadis that she would be fine on her own, that she needed a moment to herself. That left Amelia and Zelgadis alone in the clock tower.
"I hope they work things out," Amelia sighed, remembering that Filia wasn't the only one with a problem. She took Philionel's letter out of her pocket, where she had stuffed it in a hurry when she heard Filia's voice. "Everyone is busy; let's take care of this ourselves. There has to be some way to get by this."
"Are you sure your father can't annul the law?" Zelgadis inquired.
"Technically no," Amelia admitted. "Although he is the acting ruler of Seyruun, this is one of the laws that only the official ruler could change. In other words, my grandfather. But even if he does, due to his fragile state of health, my cousin will surely question the veracity of the change. Grandpa has offered to transfer his title to daddy before, but daddy felt that grandpa should hold the title of king for the rest of his life. To accept the title now for this purpose will also look suspicious. The family name has been stained with the traitorous quests for the throne in the past and it will only cause unrest if false rumors are spread claiming grandpa was pressured. If the timing had been different, it would have been okay, but it's too late for that now."
"So basically, an official act while this issue is fresh in the public eye would have negative repercussions on the royal family reputation," Zelgadis interpreted. "What if there was a loophole in that law? An exception of circumstance or maybe even another law that trumps that one? An argument could be made pointing out that it's obsolete."
"I assume they're already working on that in Seyruun," Amelia mused. "But if daddy has sent me this letter, that means the research and appeals are not going too well. They're most likely keeping this at a private level. As a last resort, we could ask for the support of the people, but that would technically be a revolt."
"A revolt?" Zelgadis was taken by surprise. "How?"
"A person who is not set to inherit the throne attempting to reclaim it, even if it is in the future while the current ruler rightfully continues to watch over the kingdom, is technically a revolt," Amelia explained. "I know the Seyruun army will remain loyal to us, but what about the neighboring countries? Some are allies of Seyruun, but others have had their unjust actions found out and punished by Seyruun. There are rulers that only pretend to have polite diplomatic relations with Seyruun, but would gladly welcome new rulers if presented with the promise of an unfair trade advantage. It might all spiral out of control into a real revolt with outsiders invading to defend the so called rightful heir according to the old law. The casualties would be many and we can't take that risk."
Zelgadis felt like he was running into a brick wall with this problem and it all originated because his engagement to Amelia was known. Wait a minute, that gave him an idea. "We could pretend to break up and come up with an excuse so that it doesn't look suspicious. Things would cool off and then Phil could harmlessly change the law because it wouldn't really be relevant anymore anyway. Then we can keep our relationship a secret for a while until we... you know... eventually get married," Zelgadis blushed. "By then, the whole problem would have blown over and everything could be done legally."
Amelia shook her head. "That won't work. They'll just call it an elaborate long term trick and it'll make things look worse. Besides, I don't want to lie to my people and I don't want to break up for real."
Zelgadis let out a disappointed breath; he should have known a solution wouldn't come so easily. "Yeah, you're right, it was a bad idea."
"But it's good that you thought about it," Amelia tried to cheer him up. "I mean, you're trying to think of something and even if one loophole doesn't work, it might give us ideas about others. Eventually we'll come up with something that does work!"
Zelgadis' face shone with absolute devotion. "Amelia, I don't want you to make any sacrifices for me-"
"Don't you even dare suggest I break up with you!" Amelia interrupted.
"I wasn't going to," Zelgadis continued. "Although I'll always feel that you're too good for me, I love you and I can't leave you. We'll figure out a loophole in all of this. That, or I'll miraculously find out I'm long lost royalty," he joked.
Amelia's face matched the pink tint on Zelgadis as her eyes shone with the light of new hope. "Zel, you're a genius!"
Zelgadis blinked, completely missing the point, "I am?"
"Yes! All you have to do is become royalty!" Amelia exclaimed. "Than we can stay engaged and the law can be changed sometime in the next few years to ensure nothing like this happens in the future. It'll be okay because it wouldn't even be relevant to us anymore, so they can't say we're stealing the throne."
"How does one go about becoming royalty?" Technically, if Zelgadis married Amelia, he would be royalty. The problem was that he needed to be royalty before that could happen. Besides, if becoming royalty was really that simple, there wouldn't be so many people trying to steal Seyruun's throne, they would just get their own.
"There are several possibilities, being adopted by a royal family is one or being given a kingdom for some reason. Starting your own kingdom would take too long and we would need a large portion of land and people to live in it. I'm sure there are a few possible strategies available; maybe Celo will have some information," Amelia suggested. "He doesn't want to talk about the enemy, but this is a whole different topic, so he has no reason to use Xellos' secret line on us."
"Is getting information from a monster really such a great idea?" Zelgadis was not liking where the conversation was going.
"It'll be fine; we just need to take everything he says with a grain of sugar," Amelia smiled with determination.
"Don't you mean with a grain of salt?" Zelgadis suggested.
"That too," Amelia agreed and began to make her way to the tower's study for a pen and paper. "Since I don't know where Celo went, it will be faster to send him a message with a courier monster bird." She found a blank sheet of paper on the desk and a pen, writing a quick message. "Dear Mr. Celo: I would greatly appreciate it if you could suggest a quick way for a person to become royalty. Thanks in advance, Amelia." The note was simple and to the point, there was no need to reveal too much, though no doubt about it, Celo would read between the lines and figure it out. "Swiftly deliver the letters, by the trail of astral feathers!" Jarde arrived and was given the letter to deliver to Celo, disappearing back to the astral side with it. "Now all we have to do is wait for a reply."
The seconds turned into minutes as Zelgadis and Amelia continued discussing the situation, with Zelgadis slowly gaining a better understanding about how things worked for royalty. Eventually, Jarde returned with a written reply from Celo, which was as follows. "Your Highness Princess Amelia: I can only conclude that you wish for your fiance to become a prince due to the technicalities of your kingdom. I would be honored to assist in ensuring your future together with the one you love. I happen to know of a relatively simple way for Mr. Zelgadis to become royalty."
The rather lengthy letter continued. "A long time ago, an anonymous business entity purchased a small private island. However, that island was haunted by a terrible monster and no development could be made on it. The unknown business figure thus decided that getting vengeance on the monster that made the purchase go to waste was more important than the island itself, as no one wished to buy it back anyway. This person offered to transfer the ownership of the island to whoever managed to defeat the beast that guarded it."
"The island is small and uninhabited by anyone other than the monster, but precious peridot gems can be found in its caves." The letter explained. "Due to the monster, mining was made impossible in the past. Many thought it made no difference if there were gems there or not, as they could not be retrieved. Of course, there were attempts to take the gems and attempts to slay the monster, but all of them failed terribly. However, I have a strong feeling that Mr. Zelgadis will triumph. If he does, he will become the new owner of that island and thus its ruler. I could assist in finding workers for the mines who could be called the kingdom's subjects if it is necessary. I have enclosed a map with the location of the island. Good luck, Celo Metallium."
"That was a lot more information than I thought we would get." Amelia commented as she and Zelgadis were finished reading the letter.
"Plus we didn't even need to read between the lines to figure out what the catch is." Zelgadis added, though he wasn't sure if that was good or bad. Obviously the big obstacle was the monster.
"I'm sure we can beat that monster, after all, we've been in tough battles before." Obviously that meant that Amelia was going too, though she would give all the credit to Zelgadis to reclaim the island. After this show of courage and power, there was no way anyone could deny that Zelgadis was a true prince where it counted, on the inside. Besides, he would also be a legal prince too, or rather a king.
They looked at the map that came along in the same envelope as the letter. "The island isn't too far away," Zelgadis noted. "I'm sure we could take a ship there."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Amelia was all fired up for the expedition. "Let's go right away!" She raised her fist in determination, her energy coursing through her. "We will defeat that monster in the name of justice and you will become the king of the island!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Amelia and Zelgadis departed towards the port. It was getting late, but Amelia was too excited to wait for the next day. As they approached the port, they saw Gourry and Lina exiting a beachside restaurant. "Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry!" Amelia greeted them, waving at them and calling loudly with the unique energy that characterized her.
"Hey guys!" Gourry smiled, "are you here to eat? I hope not, because Lina and I kind of cleaned out all their food supplies. But I'm sure there are other restaurants at the resort that have food left."
"We're not here to eat, we're here to take a boat to a near by island so that we can slay the monster terrorizing its precious peridots and Zelgadis can become king!" While Amelia let her mouth run away with her, Zelgadis shook his head frantically, making desperate signals that she should keep this matter a secret from Lina.
"I don't know what that king business is about, but what was that about terrorizing peridots?" The redhead wondered if she misunderstood. Lina knew what peridot gems looked like, but jewels were not sentient beings, they were not alive, they felt no fear and thus they could not be terrorized. Maybe this type of peridot referred to some exotic animal that lived on the island or even the name of a village.
"There's no one living on the island, so the monster has no one to terrorize," Amelia mused. "But a fierce unjust monster will always try to terrorize something, even if it is a lifeless gem!"
Lina smiled from ear to ear while Zelgadis grimaced. "Oh yes, you're absolutely right, Amelia. We can't let some terrible monster abuse those innocent valuable jewels."
Realizing her mistake, Amelia wished she had not gotten so over excited and carried away. "Um... Well... We should get going now."
"Wait a minute!" Making Lina Inverse forget about a treasure was a nearly impossible task to accomplish, especially when she had just filled her stomach and could not be distracted by food. "You might need some help defeating that monster. Oh you don't have to beg, I'll be more than happy to assist!"
"But Miss Lina, Zelgadis needs to defeat the monster and claim ownership of the island as its king or my distant relative will steal the throne!" Amelia tried to reason.
"There's another conspiracy to steal the throne going on? They never give up, do they?" Lina shook her head hopelessly. "What's the deal this time?"
Hoping to get through to Lina, Amelia explained. "I have to marry royalty, so by remaining engaged to someone who isn't a royal, I'm technically forfeiting the throne. We plan to fix that by making Zelgadis the king of the island where the monster is. In order to gain ownership of the island, he must defeat the monster," the princess revealed.
"I see," Lina nodded in understanding. "Well, since it's for a good cause, Zel can have the island. In exchange for my help in defeating the monster, and you know you want it, I'll take a few peridot gems as payment." When it came to Lina taking gems, 'a few' meant as many as she could get her greedy little hands on.
"How kind of you," Zelgadis grumbled, while Amelia gave him an apologetic look. The chimera patted the princess' shoulder to assure her that he wasn't angry at her for her slip up and left his arm there as they walked to the docks.
Dark storm clouds loomed in the horizon, painting with gloomy shades of gray the usually beautiful orange shades of the sun set. It could be seen as a bad omen, but nothing could stop Lina Inverse in her quest for treasure. Zelgadis knew that he couldn't postpone his trip to the island because of a looming storm or else Lina would Dragon Slave the mysterious monster and claim the island and its peridots for herself. The chimera didn't care too much about the peridots really, but he needed to claim that island for himself for Amelia's sake.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 092: Intense! Into The Raging Storm
Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry obtained a small ship at the Amor Resort docks and went on their way. They followed the directions on Celo's map, making steady progress towards the small island where a monster resided in caves rich with peridot gems. The sky was filled with dark clouds and it wasn't long before it began to pour, but the group pressed on. Fighting the wind of the storm with wind magic of their own, the brave adventurers pushed the little ship forward towards the small island in the distance.
"We're almost there!" Lina called out from the front of the ship, one foot on the edge of it and the other on the deck. Her cape blew in the wind dramatically behind her as she pointed forward to their intended destination. "Onward to the peridots!" Suddenly the ship rocked violently and Lina stumbled on to the deck.
"Oh, oh," Gourry was looking to the waters below from the side of the ship with a worried expression.
"Is the ship damaged?" Zelgadis urgently inquired.
"Not exactly," Gourry frowned, while Zelgadis gave him a questioning look that requested more information, while wondering what was keeping Gourry from simply revealing what he saw. The blond swordsman glanced at Lina, then back at Zelgadis and Amelia. The princess and the chimera stepped forward, approaching the end of the ship next to Gourry, and the reason for his secrecy became clear to them.
"What are you three looking at?" Lina didn't like this; she had a strong feeling that something was being hidden from her. Well, no one was going to stop her from looking and seeing for herself what the truth of the situation was.
"Miss Lina, maybe you shouldn't look!" Amelia urgently advised, her cape blowing wildly in the wind as she shouted over the noise of crashing lightning in the distance.
"Why not?" Walking past Amelia, Lina approached the edge of the ship, but Gourry blocked her view. "Let me see!" The impatient redhead demanded.
Amelia gasped as she saw something on the other side of the ship opposite to where they stood, "flare arrow!"
By the time Lina turned her head, whatever had been there was gone, thanks to Amelia's attack. Lina only heard the sound of something falling in the water as if it had been knocked off the edge of the ship. "Are we under attack? Why is it such a secret?" The powerful red haired sorceress attempted to make her way to the opposite side of the ship against the wind and rain; she needed to see what this was about.
"Lina!" Gourry wrapped his arms tightly around her, stopping her progress across the ship. "It's okay Lina, I'll keep you safe."
"From what?" Lina demanded to know in exasperation.
"They made it aboard..." Zelgadis pointed out in worry. It wasn't that the foes looked particularly dangerous, but with Lina around, it could be exceptionally troublesome. "Freeze Arrow!"
Lina fought against Gourry's attempts to stop her from looking, until she kicked him painfully, losing her patience. She managed to catch a glimpse of Zelgadis kicking away a block of ice. Encased in the crystalline prison there was the unmistakable figure of a slug. "Slug!" Lina screamed at the top of her lungs. She made a mental note that next time her friends told her not to look, she wouldn't look. She embraced Gourry in a tight hug, burying her face on his chest. "Why are those slugs here? How could they be in the sea? Don't let them get on the ship!"
The wind and the waves continued rocking the ship as the slimy slugs tried to climb aboard. "These are monster slugs!" Amelia realized. She theorized that Celo had something to do with this, probably with the excuse that it was all for the sake of entertaining his guests. "Elmekia Lance!"
The ship continued to rock atop the waves and Lina was starting to get really worried. "Oh no, what if we capsize? We'll fall into slug infested waters! Save me!"
"It's okay Lina, I'll protect you, don't worry," Gourry tried to calm his panicking fiance to no avail. The amounts of slugs trying to make their way aboard the ship continued to increase. Amelia and Zelgadis had dispatched many, but there were even more swimming towards them.
Gourry noticed beyond the sound of the harsh thunder and constant rain that Lina was muttering something against his chest. He tried to make out the words only catching bits and pieces at first. "Twilight... flows... time... power... foes... destroyed... possess..."
The swordsman's eyes widened in realization. He knew those words, he had heard them so many times that he could remember them with relative ease. "No, Lina, don't use the Dragon Slave here!"
Gourry's futile request served as a warning for Amelia and Zelgadis to brace themselves as Lina loudly exclaimed in a panic, "Dragon Slave!" A big explosion followed, annihilating all the monster slugs at the same time that it reduced the ship to scraps.
Just before the flash of light invaded his vision completely, Gourry thought he saw a little calico kitten and wondered how it managed to stow away on the ship unnoticed until that moment. He hoped the kitten somehow survived this, though he wasn't too worried. He had heard that cats have nine lives.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at the Amor Resort island... "Stop following me!" Xellos growled for what felt like the millionth time, but his angry plea fell upon metaphorically deaf stubborn pointy ears. He thought he should have left the resort sooner instead of hanging around idly in hopes of becoming better prepared to face Beast Master in the cool, calm, collected and cheerful manner that he was expected to. Because of his delay in escaping from the premises, Filia caught up to him and kept following him around like a particularly stubborn lost puppy, or more so like a very obsessed stalker.
Thunder echoed following the crash of lightning, as if the skies were being cued to release the vast supply of water that was accumulated in the thick gray clouds above. It was already night as Xellos made his way past the dark plastic forest and back to the lopsided wooden clock tower. The creaking old structure gained an especially creepy atmosphere during the stormy night. It didn't look like anyone was there at the moment. The others were probably off staying in the nicer hotels of the resort while Celo and Tiffany took care of the resort's business.
Xellos made his way up the stairs of the deserted tower, the wood creaking under his feet with every step and then under Filia's. She was still adamantly following him like a second shadow and didn't look like she was going to stop any time soon, if ever. "There are plenty of rooms in this tower." Xellos indicated that he wanted to be left alone, though he had stopped expecting Filia to comply with his wishes long ago.
The stubborn golden dragon merely crossed her arms and glared in a sign of determination as she followed Xellos into his room. Exasperated, he tossed his cloak aside, kicked off his shoes and allowed himself to fall face first on the bed, burying his face in the pillow. He heard Filia take a seat on the chair next to the bed, secretly relief that she wasn't trying to cuddle him like she used to do, that would just make things more complicated and he would never manage to complete a clean break.
Loud thunder echoed again, with Filia jumping a little. "Are you afraid of thunder, stupid dragon?"
"No," Filia denied it, though she certainly wasn't happy with the creepy atmosphere. The room was completely dark if not for the flashes of lightning that illuminated it every now and then without warning, the light invading the enclosed space from the closed glass window against wish the raindrops crashed like bullets. Val was with his uncles and aunts, Jillas, Gravos and the others would take good care of him. Filia just hoped that the storm wasn't scaring him.
A long and tense silence invaded the room as the storm raged on outside. Xellos tried to sleep, but found himself unable to do so, feeling Filia's eyes somehow piercing the darkness to stare at him. Then she spoke, "I've been thinking I've changed a lot, but the truth is that I haven't. I've become more open minded, but I'm only seeing what has been there all along. I'm not a different person; I simply know things now that I didn't know before. I still like flowers and the smell of spring. I still like arts and crafts, especially making and decorating vases from scratch. I still like pink, though I guess I've also taken a liking to purple. I have made new friends and my family has grown, but my wish is still to create many good memories with them. I still hope for everyone in the world to be happy."
"You're a stupid, stubborn and cliche dragon, I already knew that," Xellos retorted, unable to ignore Filia completely.
"You haven't changed much either," Filia continued her main argument. "You're still stubborn, sarcastic, mocking, tricky, mischievous and all around annoying. You're also powerful, cunning, adaptive and perceptive."
"I'll have to agree with most of that," Xellos admitted, wondering where Filia was going on with all of this. Her argument seemed to carry a deeper meaning than just a description.
"My point is that you haven't changed. You're still the same infuriating monster that you've always been on the inside," Filia emphasized.
"So what?" Xellos turned over on his side to look at Filia, his voice no longer muffled by having his face on the pillow. "Where you expecting me to change and turn into a romantic prince charming? Too bad, because that's not happening. Not that it matters anyway, because we're not together anymore."
"I don't want you to change," Filia confessed. "I know I yell at you and let my temper go wild at times. I'm sorry if that gets on your nerves."
"It does, but it's actually kind of fun," Xellos admitted. "It's chaotic and I enjoy chaos. You're a time bomb waiting to explode, I like that." He mentally kicked himself seconds later for admitting it. He wasn't supposed to be thinking about how fun Filia was, he was supposed to be thinking about how to convince her that he didn't want her around.
"Your chaos is fun too. I guess teasing each other is part of who we are." Filia smiled, feeling as if she was finally making progress. She thought she could address the issue more directly now. "When you said you hated who you've become, it made me wonder if I should hate who I've become too. It may seem that I'm being too accepting in certain aspects, but those are not things that I'm doing now, they're things I never had a say in from the beginning. Things that I would have had to allow to pass anyway. You haven't changed either; you're still the same trickster. I'm not expecting you to change nor do I want you to. I just don't understand what the big liability is. If you could just point it out specifically I'll give it some real thought, because right now I don't get it."
Filia was ruining what little progress Xellos had made in getting her out of danger and he didn't like it. He sat up, glaring at her impatiently, "just drop it."
"No!" Filia stubbornly continued. "What was it that you could do before that you can't do now? Run around causing trouble? When you get your powers back you could just teleport away and cause all the trouble you want, I won't be able to stop you. I'll probably yell at you for it, but I won't leave you. If Beast Master gives you an order that I really don't like, I'll accept the fact that you have to do it. I'll probably yell about it anyway, but I won't hold it personally against you." Filia had stood up from her chair, pacing around the room as she threw out her heartfelt arguments.
Xellos got up and walked a few steps towards the door. "Accept it Filia, you have no choice."
"Don't run away, you cowardly piece of garbage!" Filia shouted, her face was red with angry frustration. "Why don't you face me and tell me the truth? Whatever it is your feeling, you should have enough experience with emotions by now to at least have a clue, so tell me. Why do you hate me? What exactly is the cause? What's the big and terrible liability in all this? I'm not asking you to give up anything for my sake! What do you think you're losing?"
Xellos turned around to face Filia, his violet eyes serious and piercing. "Your life."
"What?" The golden dragon was taken aback by his reply, though she could tell he was finally being open with her. "What do you mean?"
"You're no longer useful to me, Filia. Being with you is no longer a matter of life or death to me," Xellos reminded. "Why should I, the general priest of Lord Beast Master want to be anywhere near a golden dragon if I have a different choice?" Filia frowned, Xellos sounded like he was going around in circles with cheap ambiguous excuses again. Then he elaborated and everything became clear. "I shouldn't want to be with you, it's a mistake, a defect, it must be and will be corrected with your death. Don't you see? I've been ordered to kill you before, but back then I still needed the cure for my curse. You were still useful to me, so you were spared. Why would you be spared now?"
Filia's eyes grew wide in shock, her expression horrified. "Beast Master ordered you to kill me?"
"Not yet," Xellos ascertained, "but it might happen soon and I will not be able to defy her orders. If I do, she'll just kill you herself much more painfully. She'll make your end much more excruciating than a quick death at my hands." He looked into her terrified blue eyes. "I don't know exactly what's going on, but I think I really am being trained. It's probably related to this mysterious enemy going by the alias of the Green Alchemist, pretending he's connected to the Mother of All Things. I have to let you go, Filia. I have to endure it, get over it and return to my master's side ready and strong enough to fight for her cause. If I can't do that on my own, I'll be pushed to it."
A flood of tears was already escaping Filia's eyes when she threw herself into Xellos' arms. "It's not fair..." Was Tiffany warning her before?
Filia remembered Tiffany's words clearly. 'Regardless of what happens, whether you spend millennia together or if the world doesn't last long enough to see another spring, never forget the intensity of what you feel.' If the world ends... was that a metaphor? Did she mean the end of their time together?
'She was telling me to treasure the memories,' Filia interpreted. 'Maybe a monster and a dragon being together isn't impossible, but if that monster is both the general and the priest of a monster lord, its different. Xellos was created to serve Zelas, to be her right hand, her main minion. That was his original purpose, the cause of his very existence. Denying that would be denying his existence.'
"Don't cry, stupid dragon. Being your weak and pathetic self won't change anything." Filia slowly became silent while Xellos continued holding her and caressing her hair. She appeared to be lost in thought. "Just let go, forget about me. I'll forget about you right away. In fact, I can't wait to forget. Who needs a stupid crybaby like you?"
Filia had stopped crying, instead looking at Xellos with sorrowful eyes. "I won't forget..."
"You have Val to keep you busy. My lessons were left incomplete, but he was a fast learner. He'll get into mischief and keep you entertained," Xellos reminded.
"Val..." Filia knew she had to take care of him. She trusted her family to care for him, but it was best for him to have another dragon around while growing up. Even if she was a golden dragon and he was an ancient dragon, they were both still dragons and had certain things in common. She couldn't do something reckless, not with Val counting on her. Besides, she knew Xellos wouldn't be happy if she did something stupid and got herself killed either. She couldn't let her temper run wild when it came to Beast Master, the monster lord was far too dangerous.
"Starting tomorrow, we'll go our separate ways," Xellos decided. He could give her just a little while longer to get her frustration off her chest as much as possible and say anything that she wanted to say.
Filia nodded bitterly, "I understand..."
xoxox xox xoxox
Lina's massive Dragon Slave had blown up the monster slugs and the ship along with its crew. The sorceress, the swordsman, the agent of justice and the chimera, were all thrown in different directions by the force of the impact. The ocean was disturbed in a massive tidal wave that formed a tall column of water and carried them away. When Amelia woke up, she had been washed ashore on the island they were heading towards. The massive storm had calmed as if the tempest itself coward before Lina Inverse's mighty Dragon Slave.
The princess sat up in the sandy beach and examined her surroundings. She didn't see any signs of the ship or any of her friends near by. "Zelgadis! Miss Lina! Mr. Gourry!" Amelia called out loudly several times, but received no replies. She looked into the distance at the now peaceful ocean with only light waves moving the waters. There was no one floating there as far as she could see, which wasn't very far since it was night time. Maybe they had made it to the island, she certainly hoped so.
She walked further along the beach side with an orb of light in her hand, until she spotted something in the sand. She brushed off some of the sand and realized it was a head. It was Zelgadis' head and with that realization she screamed at the top of her lungs. "No! Zelgadis was decapitated! Ah!"
"Amelia!" Zelgadis woke up suddenly, to the very loud and panicked voice of Amelia. He found that it was very difficult to move, soon realizing that the reason for that was that he was berried neck deep in the sand. "I'm not dead, just buried!"
Amelia let out a breath of relief. "I'm so glad," she began to help dig Zelgadis out, until he was finally free. "Now we just need to find Miss Lina and Mr. Gourry. Do you think they've gone deeper into the center of the island?" Amelia glanced past the palm trees into the unknown darkness.
"Probably," Zelgadis theorized. "If Lina made it to this island, she would go straight to the gems. If we head towards the mines, we should run into her and probably Gourry too." Thus Amelia and Zelgadis set out to explore the island and locate their missing companions.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 093: Amusing! It's All Fun And Games
As they ventured further into the island, Amelia and Zelgadis found a volcano in the island's center with a cave at its base. Amelia took a peek inside and saw the glitter of gems affixed to the cavern walls. She wondered if this was the monster's lair. The cave was eerie yet beautiful, so it seemed fitting to be the hideout of a cunning villain. It was a tempting and inviting deadly trap. What if the beast had found her friends already? What if the creature was devouring them? "This is it! This is the beast's lair! Let us storm inside and rescue our comrades!"
Zelgadis soon realized that Amelia was in justice speech mode, which meant there was no stopping her. He wasn't even taken by surprise when she dashed into the cave and was prepared to take off after her. Just as he rushed after Amelia, Zelgadis thought he saw a kitten a short way outside of the cave. He had no time to do a double take before he sped up his pace to keep up with Amelia's dash of justice.
Amelia continued running deep into the mines with Zelgadis close after her. She arrived at a larger chamber with peridots all over the walls and thought she saw a kitten hidden in the shadows. She held the orb of light towards it, but it was gone. 'It was probably just my imagination,' the princess quietly concluded. She stepped forward to examine the apparent dead end. "How could this not be the monster's lair? Is there another cave or maybe a secret passage?"
"There could be traps," Zelgadis warned as he hurried to stay close to Amelia. He saw a hint of movement in the darkness, but before he could perceive what it was, there was a flash of light and it was gone, dispelling the orb of light in the process, then there was darkness.
A little dizzy, Amelia stumbled forward, steadying herself with the wall. Her hand accidentally touched a hidden switch and the wall parted left and right, revealing a tunnel with stairs and torches attached to the walls, lighting the way. With the area once again illuminated, Amelia noticed something very peculiar, she saw herself standing before the passage. "Is that me?" She tried to speak, but it came out as Zelgadis' voice.
Hearing his own voice, Zelgadis looked at the source and saw himself. "Who are you? Where's Amelia?" His hands, which were much softer than he remembered, flew to his mouth as he realized that his voice was Amelia's voice. He looked at the human hands, the feminine but strong human hands, the wrists adorned with pink and purple bracelets with blue gems. He ran one of those hands through his hair, which wasn't his hair at all.
"Um... Zelgadis?" The image of Zelgadis spoke unsure, with Amelia's soul within the body.
"Yes," Zelgadis replied from Amelia's body, the situation finally sinking in beyond the confusion. "We're switched!"
"It must have been that light!" Amelia concluded in Zelgadis' voice. "I knew it; there is an evil villain here who is trying to confuse us. You can't escape justice!" Once again taking off in a dash of justice, Amelia, still in Zelgadis' body, ran down the stairs to face the culprit, who seemed to be beckoning them to the battle field below.
"Amelia, wait!" Zelgadis was quick to follow her, although it looked to him like he was following himself. "There are probably more traps there!" The downward tunnel of stairs led to a stone bridge, apparently formed from the cave itself, suspended over boiling lava. The fact that it was ever so conveniently placed made Zelgadis think that some magic was involved in its formation.
A small boulder flew towards Amelia, who was quick to move Zelgadis' body out of the way, though the action seemed to happen slower than she was used to moving. Zelgadis body was heavier, limiting her agility, though the increased defense made it so that dodging wasn't really necessary sometimes. "Watch out!"
In a split second Zelgadis saw the boulder coming right towards Amelia's body like a cannon ball, but he wasn't even sure how to react, to move or to try to withstand the hit. Caught off guard, he could only move back in an automatic reflex. The next thing he knew, Zelgadis saw the bolder through Amelia's eyes, harmlessly passing above her body. It was only seconds later as he tried to get her body to an upright position again that he realized he had made it bend backwards. Fortunately, Amelia's back wasn't in any pain as far as Zelgadis could perceive. "Your body is pretty flexible..." He couldn't help it but to comment.
"Oh yes, daddy likes to limbo in family reunions, I'm pretty good at it." Zelgadis face smiled with a very Amelia style smile. Then the source of the thrown boulder made its appearance. It was a stone golem monster made of redish brown rocks. It was currently running heavily across the narrow stone bridge above the lava. "The monster!"
"Elmekia Lance!" Zelgadis shot out a lance of light from Amelia's hands. Unfortunately, the stone golem jumped, higher and further than anyone would guess it could, and dodged the hit. The creature landed angrily right in front of Amelia.
Given the sudden close proximity of the enemy, Amelia didn't have time to cast a spell and did the first thing that came to mind. "Pacifist Crush!" Guided by Amelia's technique, Zelgadis' stony fist collided harshly with the golem, shattering it on impact, its broken pieces falling to the lava below. "That's it? He wasn't very strong, maybe Celo was mistaken and there's more than one monster."
"Probably," Zelgadis agreed. "I don't think that golem was the one who switched us. Although that cat looked suspicious."
"A cat?" Amelia inquired, they were both still stuck in each other's bodies.
"I saw a calico kitten just outside the mines," Zelgadis recalled.
"Now that you mention it, I thought I saw a kitten before that flash of light that switched us." Amelia began to think of a theory and she remembered who that kitten reminded her of. "Do you think it was Zelas in disguise?"
"Very likely," Zelgadis agreed, with a troublesome thought occurring to him. "If Zelas is the monster that guards this island, then we don't stand a chance. Celo tricked us." The angry, frustrated and bitter look Zelgadis had, didn't fit Amelia's face at all.
"I guess there's no choice but to keep going now. We'll have to ask Zelas to switch us back..." Amelia mused aloud.
"I think we're better off figuring this out on our own," Zelgadis warned.
Just as they were discussing the possible ways to deal with the situation, the mysterious kitten made another appearance. She approached across the bridge and meowed, as if calling them to follow. Then she ran back across the bridge to the opposite side and disappeared into a dark narrow tunnel at the other end of the bridge.
"If Zelas wants us to follow her..." Amelia began.
"Then we have no choice," Zelgadis grumbled.
The switch chimera and princess made their way across the bridge, fully expecting it to fall apart, but it didn't. They arrived at the next chamber expecting Zelas to be there, but she wasn't, or at least they couldn't see her. She was probably hidden somewhere in the astral side near by, watching them and mocking them. As they waited for something to happen, a black orb appeared before them. The sphere rolled towards them all of a sudden, causing Amelia and Zelgadis to jump left and right to dodge it. The black ball crashed into the narrow tunnel, but it was too small for it to roll inside it, so it stopped, stuck at the entrance to the tunnel.
"Elmekia Lance!" Amelia and Zelgadis acted quickly, taking the opportunity to attack. They launched simultaneous spells at the black sphere monster while it was stuck in the tunnel, but it faded into the astral side before the spells could hit.
The fierce black sphere reappeared, spinning in mid air and throwing a multitude of smaller black balls that bounced around all over the cave as if it was a crazy game of dodge ball. Amelia and Zelgadis struggled to avoid the hits but they were inevitably reached by the many bouncing black balls and knocked painfully to the ground. Yet strangely, they weren't injured beyond a few scratches, which were mostly on Amelia's body. Zelgadis looked at the scratches, it made him so angry, he was in her body, so he had to keep it safe, he couldn't expose her soft human body to the same dangers that his chimera body could withstand. That was it, this had to end. "Amelia, my sword!"
Amelia took Zelgadis' sword out of its sheath. "Here it is!" She had not really been using it, since she wasn't experienced with blades. Besides, Zelgadis' solid fists made for a very powerful Pacifist Crush anyway.
Zelgadis took his sword, glad to find that he could still wield it easily in Amelia's body. The strength probably came from the exercise from the Pacifist Crushes that the faces of the foolish bandits that got in her way received from Amelia. "Astral Vine! Time to fight back!" With his sword powered up, Zelgadis charged forward, slicing away at the bouncing black balls that got within the reach of the sharp blade, taking advantage of Amelia's agility.
"Yes, we can do this! Justice will triumph!" Amelia joined the fight, making good use of Zelgadis defense to close in on the enemy. "That's the original one!" Amelia signaled towards the largest black ball.
"Ready!" Zelgadis approached from the opposite side.
Together they assaulted the monster with perfectly synchronized simultaneous spells. "Ra Tilt!" For good measure, before the monster had the chance to recover they attacked again, "Ra Tilt!"
The black ball stopped bouncing, falling to the cave ground and spinning in place as if dizzy from the hit. Its form changed and it became a twin tailed monster fox with large fangs that Amelia and Zelgadis both recognized. Weakened from the attacks, Fang shook his head to clear it and changed into his somewhat human form. The only difference was that he had fox ears and a single fox tail, shorter than the two huge tails he had as a monster. Other than that he looked like a human with black hair and silvery eyes. "You guys are really good at dodge ball. It looks like I have no choice but to admit your victory."
"Fang? You're the monster that terrorized this island? You're the one who devoured all the people who came here in a quest to win the island or mine the peridots?" Amelia requested an explanation.
"That black sphere was my original form. I was fused with a fox to become a monster fox. I wasn't used to it and chewed on everything, so Lord Beast Master let me have this island. She offered to give it away to anyone who could defeat me, so that foolish greedy humans would come here seeking riches. That gave me plenty of chew toys to play with," Fang explained with a grin that fit his name very well. "Eventually I got used to my new form as a monster fox and stopped chewing on the furniture, so my master allowed me to go back home. Isn't she the greatest master ever?" Fang wagged his tail with an expression of loyal admiration upon his face.
Amelia felt her, or rather Zelgadis' eye twitch in indignation. "People are not chew toys, using them as such is unjust!"
"It's fun!" Fang cheerfully declared, as if that justified everything. "Anyway, I don't really need chew toys as often as I used to. I haven't been to this island for a while, but my master told me someone was coming to play with me, so I came right away. You guys won the game of dodge ball, so the island is yours now. Have fun with it, I think I'll go home now and take a nap." Fang faded away into the astral side, teleporting back to Zelas' home base.
"That takes care of the island situation," Zelgadis noted, still in Amelia's body. "But we're still switched."
"Don't worry, I'm sure we'll eventually get back to normal," Amelia encouraged. "And if we don't, then it's not so bad, we can live like this as long as we're together with justice on our side. I'll take care of your body and you take care of mine."
"Take care of it?" Zelgadis mused on the concept. That meant that he would have to regularly feed and exercise this body, which was easy enough. But it also meant that he would eventually have to change its clothes and bathe it, which made Zelgadis, or rather Amelia's face turn red.
Amelia blinked in Zelgadis body. "Is something wrong?"
Zelgadis quickly shook his borrowed head. "No, it's nothing."
Another wall suddenly moved aside to reveal yet another secret passage. Fortunately, no rampaging monster came from it, only a greedy redhead and her loyal blond companion. "Amelia, Zel! It's good to see you're okay," Lina greeted with her cape over her shoulder, fashioned into a sort of makeshift sack that looked quite full, no doubt with gems. "Can I borrow your cloaks? I need to carry some things back and mine is full."
Behind Lina, Gourry carried a large amount of jewels in a big bundle in his arms. He occasionally dropped some and picking them up turned out to be quite a challenge without dropping others. Given that Lina was being her bossy greedy self and Gourry was following her around with his usual adorably dumb smile, Amelia and Zelgadis concluded that those two were still in their normal bodies.
Before the dilemma of the switch could be expressed, a sudden earthquake shook the island with more force than any of the previous recent earthquakes. Gourry dropped most of the peridots he was carrying and rushed to pick them up, dropping more in the process. Lina was taken by surprise, her improvised sack coming open. "My jewels!"
A suspicious light came from the tunnel that led to the stone bridge over the lava. Horrified, Zelgadis, who Lina and Gourry perceived as being Amelia since it was her body, realized that the light was approaching magma. "The volcano is erupting!"
"Oh no! Save the peridots!" Lina shouted in agony.
"Forget the peridots, run Miss Lina!" The breath was knocked out of Lina as Zelgadis, who was actually Amelia on the inside, dragged her away in their hasty escape through the tunnel from which Lina and Gourry had arrived.
"The lava is chasing us!" Gourry exclaimed, seeing the approaching magma being pushed through the tunnels by the active volcano's pressure.
"Ray Wing!" Amelia called out, still in Zelgadis body, encasing everyone in a shield of wind that considerably sped up their emergency exit.
xoxox xox xoxox
The group rushed out of the mines and towards the beach with Lina complaining about her lost treasure all the way. As sparks and ashes rained down on them, Zelgadis and Amelia took turns using Ray Wing until they could go on no further and fell exhausted into the sea. Gourry, who was relatively well rested by comparison, took it upon himself to keep his companions afloat, though it was especially difficult when it came to Zelgadis' body.
"My peridots, my precious peridots, they're ruined!" Lina cried out in agony.
"Cheer up Miss Lina, all that matters is that we made it out of there alive." Amelia smiled through Zelgadis' face.
Lina blinked in confusion. "Why are you so cheerful Zel? It's almost like you're Amelia."
"I am Amelia," she admitted, in Zelgadis' voice.
"I'm confused," Gourry announced, while he struggled to stay afloat and help his exhausted companions do the same.
"So am I, but we better have this discussion on the shore," Lina decided. "Zelas Gort!" A group of jellyfish amassed themselves together into a sort of moving island that carried the group back to the Amor Resort beach.
xoxox xox xoxox
The stars and the moon shone brightly in the sky. What had begun as a stormy night had eventually turned clear and peaceful. At the beach, Lina gazed longingly into the distance and lamented the loss of her precious gems one last time. Gourry placed his hand on her shoulder, trying to cheer her up, as he extended his other hand in front of her, his fingers enclosing something. "This was all I could save, sorry." He gave her a rather large peridot.
Lina greedily snatched the peridot and considered complaining about why he didn't save more, but the truth of the matter was that Lina had dropped all the gems she was carrying, so she was really in no position to complain. Besides, Gourry had that puppy look on his face, like a pet waiting for the praise and approval of his master. "Thanks Gourry," Lina finally whispered. She added with a light blush in a hushed voice that only he could hear. "I'll keep my promise when we get back to the inn."
Gourry looked confused for a moment. He had forgotten all about any promises. He tried hard to remember until it finally came to mind after a vast mental effort. He smiled, after such a swim, a nice massage would feel great.
Clearing her throat and willing her blush to disappear, Lina proceeded to address the confusion concerning Amelia and Zelgadis. "You can start explaining any time now."
"The good news is that we managed to beat the monster that guarded the island in its own game of dodge ball." Amelia began to explain, speaking through Zelgadis' body. Seeing Lina's perplexed expression, she elaborated. "The monster turned out to be Fang, he's pretty strong, it took simultaneous Ra Tilts from Zelgadis and I to beat him and he was obviously holding back because he knew us. After that, he admitted our victory and let us have the island. Now all that's left is for Zelgadis to take care of the paper work. I hope Zelas doesn't cause any trouble with that, but somehow, I don't think she will, she's already done plenty with this switch."
Further clarifying the situation, Zelgadis added from Amelia's body. "I'm Zelgadis, she's Amelia, we're kind of stuck like this."
Lina blinked in surprise, once, twice and three times, while Gourry scratched his head in perplexity. Then the red haired sorceress burst out in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. "Ha ha ha, you say Zelas is responsible for this? He he he, I knew she had to be a trickster, ha ha ha. Xellos had to get it from somewhere after all, hee hee."
Zelgadis crossed his arms over his chest in indignation, promptly uncrossing them again when he realized this was not his chest at all. "It's not funny!"
"Yes it is!" Lina giggled. "It doesn't sound too serious though. I'm sure you'll be able to find a spell to fix it, or maybe it'll just wear off. Maybe Celo will have a clue, although I wouldn't suggest trusting him. You should probably ask Xellos instead."
"How is Xellos more trustworthy than Celo?" Zelgadis inquired in exasperation.
"He's not," Lina admitted. "But as long as he's stuck in human form, he can't escape into the astral side. All you have to do is lower his guard with some chocolate ice-cream pie, sneak up on him and force him to speak. While you're at it, you should also get some chocolate ice-cream pie for me as a reward for giving you such a great idea and to console me for the loss of my jewels, even after I worked so hard to earn them."
"You blew up the ship and didn't help fight the monster," Zelgadis argued.
"I still tried to help and it's the thought that counts!" Lina retorted. When it came to treasure and food, she had a counter argument for everything.
To be Continued