Upon seeing the mirror image of Luna, Lina had ran off in a panic, all through Zelas' palace. The so called Luna changed back into the appearance of Zelas, proving that it had been a trick to scare Lina. Amelia frowned in disapproval. "Miss Zelas!" She spoke in her most scolding voice, ignoring Zelgadis, who was trying to get her to calm down. "You've been picking on us too much. You've caused stress for everyone, you've terrified Miss Lina." Never mind that Amelia had also terrified Lina along with Zelgadis with their Luna lies. Amelia reconciled with her conscience by concluding that it was all directly or indirectly Zelas' fault. "The worse of all you did was that you interfered with true love!"
Xellos had a strong foreboding feeling that Amelia was talking about him and Filia. He immediately joined Zelgadis in an effort to make her stop, but it all proved to be fruitless.
"For what purpose?" Amelia demanded to know. Zelgadis was seriously close to just grabbing her and holding his hand over her mouth. It would be for her own good anyway. "Why?" Amelia continued her dramatic declaration, pointing her accusing finger of justice at Zelas. "Why have you done this? What benefit do you get from all this suffering?"
"A good meal," Zelas stated simply in a matter of fact sort of tone, unfazed by Amelia's audacity. "That's why I sent Lina on a panicked run, her fear that borders insanity will be a good treat for my monsters. I need to keep them well fed for what's to come."
Throwing caution to the wind, Zelgadis dared to ask. "What is to come?"
"It is far too early to share that information." Zelas grinned mockingly with the joy of someone who knows a secret that everyone wants to know. "Now I must go tend to another guest." Leaving the group thirsty for answers, Zelas disappeared.
Gourry didn't really know what was going on. He lost track around the time Luna randomly showed up and was deep in confusion by the time she turned into Zelas. He still wasn't sure who had been addressing them. Zelas who had been disguised as Luna, or Luna who disguised herself as Zelas? Never mind that a person of at the very least average intelligence, would reason that the transformations to so easily change her appearance fitted the astral nature of a monster, thus making it a logical conclusion that the one who had been there was Zelas. Confused and clueless as he was, Gourry at least knew that there was one thing he needed to do. "I'm going to find Lina." Without further ado, he ran off in the general direction she had dashed off in.
"I don't think Lina is in mortal danger if Zelas only intends to have her monsters feed on her fear," Zelgadis theorized. "Nonetheless, it's obvious that something big is happening behind the scenes and I want to know what it is." Zelgadis gave Xellos a critical glare.
Xellos only grinned in return, "that is a secret."
"I'm not going to take that line for an answer this time!" Zelgadis warned.
"It's the only answer I have," Xellos truthfully replied, though to Zelgadis and Amelia it might have looked like stubborn annoyance.
Amelia sighed hopelessly, "forget it; he's not going to tell us." Then her mood underwent a dramatic change and she was optimistic and energetic again. "It doesn't matter, because justice is ready for anything!" Except maybe a panicked Lina Inverse. "We better go help Mr. Gourry find Lina before she starts shooting Dragon Slaves at random around here."
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia Ul Copt was a golden dragon whose clan had been wiped out during an incident involving a threat from another world, Dark Star Dagradigdu. Since then, following the discovery of the fate of the ancient dragon race, she had virtually no contact with other golden dragons. Or at least no golden dragons that were still a true part of the race's main group. She was an unusual one, she admitted to herself as she coughed madly and came to an ungraceful landing among thick black fog that she desperately hoped wasn't poisonous. Well, she didn't feel like she was dying, though a heavy air of malice hung in the atmosphere.
Filia didn't bother turning into an elf. If she ran into trouble, and she expected to, she would be better off fighting in dragon form. 'So this is Wolf Pack Island,' she mused. A pack of wolves, some seemingly regular wolves and others wolves possessed by monsters, soon surrounded her, growling threateningly, baring their claws and fangs. Filia bared her claws and fangs right back roaring like one of those wild ferocious dragons in fairytales. "I'm here to speak with your leader, let me through!"
The beasts looked unsure. Filia noted that aside from the wolves and the monster wolves, there were also several unidentifiable animals, possibly chimeras. They appeared to be having a conversation among themselves with their growls, until they finally reached a consensus and stood aside. Filia was taken by surprise; she had been prepared for a massive struggle, expecting to be granted a word with Beast Master when she was barely alive. She hurried through the path they opened for her, standing left and right of her as if guiding her. Filia reached a cave with a set of doors inside it. The doors opened by themselves and she went in.
The inside of the place was dark at first, then strange blue fire lamps were lit one by one through a specific set of hallways, the others left in darkness. The halls of carved gold decorating ivory marble were large and spacious enough for Filia to walk through in dragon form with ease. In fact, five golden dragons could walk in arm in arm without bumping into the walls left and right, not that any golden dragons at all should be traversing those halls. The ceiling was three times as tall as Filia, with diamond chandeliers holding glass orbs that served as lamps to light the way with their blue flames.
Finally, Filia arrived at a set of golden double doors. She concluded that she was supposed to go inside and slightly opened one of the doors. "Excuse me..." she called shyly as she peeked inside.
"Come in, I don't have to help you with the door, do I?" Beast Master was sitting upon her throne, well aware of the fact that Filia had arrived. That didn't take a very long time at all.
"No thanks," Filia gulped; this was it, the moment of truth. She opened one of the double doors sufficiently for her smaller form to pass through. Then she stepped back behind it and changed back into an elf. She was ready to fight Zelas' minions if she had to, but not Zelas. Filia knew she couldn't win, so she might as well make it obvious that she wasn't there to pick a fight. She entered to the sound of her nervously beating heart. She had thought of many things she could use as arguments for Zelas to allow Xellos certain liberties. She had thought of reasons as to why it could be beneficial, but all those arguments were gone. Filia's mind was suddenly left in a total blank; she could barely remember her own name. She stopped in front of Zelas' throne, her face pale, her hands fidgeting with her cloak, her tail tracing small circles on the floor behind her. "Um..."
Zelas raised an eyebrow and waited a few more seconds, than finally let out a clear and melodious, yet absolutely mocking and superior laugh. "Is that all you have to say? How very eloquent."
"Um..." Filia dumbly stuttered again. She took a deep breath and shook her head slightly. "Xellos," this wasn't working, she couldn't think.
"You're here to see Xellos, like the stupidly loyal little pet you are. Yes, that much is obvious. But have you really come without a plan?" Zelas inquired in amusement.
"I'm here to speak with you," Filia tried to gather her bearings and push her mental capabilities to function.
"Very well then, bark, I mean speak," Zelas grinned from ear to ear.
Filia was too nervous to even get angry at the barking comment. "I think... I think..." Her gaze was on the floor as she fidgeted nervously.
"You do?" Zelas feigned an exaggerated shock before her expression turned doubtful. "Are you sure about that? Right now it doesn't look like you have such an ability."
Trying not to let Zelas get to her, Filia attempted to push her rehearsed speech forward. There was something about strategizing, something about research, something about spying, something about cover-ups, something about information, something about allies, something about tactical advantages, something about pride, something about cunning, something about loyalty, something about strength, something about power, something about magic. Yet at the same time there was absolutely nothing about anything and Filia had to admit she lost all the somethings that she had thought of before. She took a deep breath and began again. "I'm sorry; I had a whole speech prepared for you." She slowly lifted her eyes from the floor to look at the monster lord she was addressing.
"Let me guess, it fell out through the holes in your hollow head?" Zelas teased.
Not even trying to come up with a retort, Filia continued. "I had a lot to say about why it was beneficial for you to allow Xellos a certain degree of freedom. He's very loyal to you and not only because you hold his life in your hands. He admires you truly, I know he does. I suppose, I tried to see what I could come up with that you would find beneficial. In the end, I guess you would want a general priest that serves you properly, that's what you created him for after all. If you think I'm bad for that cause, maybe even bad for him, then I suppose it's only logical that I'm out of the picture. But I think Xellos was happy and he was still eager to serve you. He actually missed working for you, I know he did. He didn't want to disappoint you. For you to let him go, it was worse than for you to simply eliminate him. I didn't understand it and maybe I still don't, but he respects and admired you so much and... and..."
"Are you here to state the obvious?" Zelas interrupted.
Filia had no idea when the first tear escaped her, but she noticed then that she was crying. She tried to calm herself enough to speak clearly once again, throwing out a desperate hasty plan. "Lord Beast Master, do you think you could find some room for one extra golden dragon intern?"
"No," Zelas refused. "One is more than enough to make a mockery of your race. Phythan is stupid and naive. His idiocy mocks the golden dragons, perhaps even more so because he so strongly believes he's doing the right thing. It's all very amusing."
"What can I do then?" Filia desperately asked.
"Why did you come here, dragon? Did you miss Xellos that much? Do you not have others in your life that hold an important place?" Zelas' silver eyes were piercing.
"Yes," Filia's blue eyes were becoming full of fear. "I do not wish for harm to come to them. I was stupid to come here, but I thought that if I spoke to you I could come up with a reason for an arrangement that could benefit you and..."
"And you too?" Zelas laughed as if the notion was simply too ridiculous. "That's doubtful."
Filia lowered her head. "Then I apologize for wasting your time. I'll try to come up with something better to say, I'll write it down so I don't forget it next time."
"Who is to say that you'll leave here alive?" Zelas predatory look would scare anyone to an inch of death.
Filia couldn't take her frightened eyes off Zelas' intense gaze. "You..." she stuttered.
"A correct answer," Zelas agreed, leaning back on her throne, with a rather dismissive expression taking over her delicate yet fierce features. "In the end, everything is as it should be, but I do not believe this detour was in vain. Truths were reinforced and benefits were enjoyed." Filia could only stare blankly. She didn't know what Zelas was talking about, but it didn't look like she was going to attack any time soon.
Then the echo of a screaming voice was heard through the long hallways calling out for help, for Zelas help apparently. Lina Inverse, the sorceress extraordinaire, the extreme glutton, the bandit killer, the dragon spooker, the slug fearer, the Luna-phobic, dashed into the throne room through the slightly parted large golden doors. "Help! Zelas! Save me!" The panicked redhead ran hastily towards the throne, where the monster lord regally sat, and dived behind it. She peeked out from behind the golden throne, thankful that Luna had not caught up with her yet. "She's coming after me, Luna is here, she's coming after me! Don't let her get me, don't let her get me!"
Filia's jaw dropped. "Lina?" She exclaimed in shock.
"Lina? Where did you go? Are you in here?" Another person entered the throne room, this time a tall man with long blond hair. "There you are," Gourry Gabriev, the swordsman extraordinaire, the extreme glutton, the tremendous idiot, the Lina fan boy, smiled at the event of finding his fiance. He had long forgotten why Lina was running away in the first place, but he caught up to her, so it didn't matter anymore anyway.
Filia's surprise continued to grow, "Gourry?"
"Here they are! Oh and Miss Filia is here too!" Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, the loyal agent of justice, the adventure loving princess, the justice speech giver, the hyperactive sorceress, arrived at the throne room. She was being followed by Zelgadis Graywords, the chimera who was unaware of his own coolness, the skilled swordsman sorcerer, the prince of an all but useless island covered in cooling lava, the one who was hard on the outside and lovably soft on the inside.
"Amelia and Zelgadis too? Or is it Zelgadis and Amelia?" Filia wondered what in the world was going on. Why was everyone there? She had not told anyone where she was going, they weren't supposed to know. Did they secretly see her snooping around Celo's library to learn about Wolf Pack Island?
"We switched back to normal." Zelgadis replied, though at the moment their past predicament paled in comparison to the deadly mayhem that would ensue if Zelas anger was provoked.
"I'm here too," yet another person entered the throne room. Xellos Metallium, the annoying trickster, the infuriating manipulator, the vexing spy, the obnoxious secret keeper, the monster that was currently stuck as a human, the favorite minion of Beast Master, the cunning general priest, the chocolate ice-cream pie fan boy, had arrived to the surprise of finding a familiar golden dragon.
Filia Ul Copt, the temperamental golden dragon, the good intentioned drama queen, the artistic vase and mace maker, the kind hearted time bomb waiting to explode, turned towards the door to see her ex-fiance walk in. "Xellos..."
"Good, good, you're all here; you can all protect me from Luna." Lina feverishly demanded. "Maybe if you team up against her, I'll come out of this unscratched!"
Zelas got up from her throne and took a few steps around it. She calmly turned around to face Lina and transformed into the mirror image of Luna Inverse, the sister of the bandit killer dragon spooker, the knight of Ceifeed, the mysterious waitress, the fearsome sorceress. Lina screamed at the top of her lungs for several minutes, leaving everyone's ears ringing, until Zelas changed back. Zelas Metallium, the master of beasts, the queen of masterminds, the cunning wild wolf, the keen monster lord, the trickster of tricksters, grinned with satisfaction. "Such delicious absolute despair!"
The pieces finally fell into place for Lina. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped, her face holding the expression of shock for a few seconds. Then her teeth were clenched, her face was darkened by fury and her whole body was trembling with wrath. "You tricked me," she spoke in a low and threatening tone. "Zelas Metallium, you'll pay for this!"
"Oh look, the little girl is throwing a temper tantrum," Zelas laughed. "Xellos, it looks like our guests could use some fresh air and a little stress reliever. Why don't you take them back to the resort now?"
"Gladly," Xellos grinned. "Gourry, grab Lina and lets go!"
"Right!" Gourry picked up the protesting Lina, who desperately tried to break free with full intentions of trying to rip Zelas apart with her bare hands. It was a suicidal attempt, but in her fury, Lina didn't care, she just wanted revenge.
"Filia, I know you're too lazy to be of any use most of the time, but we need to get Lina out of here before she makes a mess. Now is a good time to conquer your laziness and cooperate by flying us out." Xellos suggested with an amused cheerful grin.
Filia didn't know what was going on or why Xellos was so casually suggesting that they leave, apparently including himself in the group. She didn't understand why Zelas wasn't simply destroying everyone. She didn't understand why they were apparently being allowed to make their escape. In short, Filia didn't understand anything. That must be how Gourry felt all the time, she honestly pitied him. Without further ado, in the middle of the confusion and rush, Filia transformed and the group climbed on her back.
Gourry was carrying a temper tantrum throwing Lina, who was struggling and screaming at the top of her lungs. Amelia and Zelgadis just wanted to put as much distance as possible between them and Zelas, resolving that there would be time to ask questions and sort things out later, when they're lives were not in such impending danger to be abruptly extinguished. Xellos picked up his wolf cub pet and climbed aboard at the lead, kicking Filia lightly, teasingly, on the side, "giddy up, stupid dragon!"
"I'm not a horse!" Filia argued, but took off full speed anyway. She flew through the long gold and ivory hallways, trying to remember the path she took on the way there as the whole place seemed to be illuminated now. Finally reaching the doors that led to the cave, which in turn let out to the surface of the island, she didn't slow down. It looked as if she was going to crash, but at the last moment, the doors opened, allowing Filia safe passage.
As soon as she was outside, Filia headed straight up, trying to get away from the heavy miasma that covered Wolf Pack Island before she coughed out a lung. After a few more seconds of desperate fast flying, the skies began to clear out as Wolf Pack Island was left behind in the distance. Slowing down to a more comfortable pace, Filia glided through the skies, heading back towards the lopsided wooden clock tower at Amor Resort. Once there, she expected to get some answers and maybe even a little bit of hope for the near future.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 098: Return! The Final Countdown
Filia safely landed at Amor Resort, near the lopsided wooden clock tower, with her passengers getting off. Lina was a little calmer, though Gourry still kept his arm wrapped firmly around her waist to make sure she didn't try to return to Wolf Pack Island. This time remembering not to transform in a hurry, Filia ducked behind some plastic trees and changed back into her elf form. "Okay, I'm ready for a lot of explanations right now," the golden dragon impatiently requested.
"I think we all are," Zelgadis agreed and with that, all eyes landed on Xellos.
"Me? What makes you think I have the answer to everything?" Xellos innocently inquired. "It's true that I'm a genius, but not even a genius can know something if no information is available about it."
"Don't stall!" Filia stomped her foot impatiently. "Just tell us what you know, you piece of raw garbage!" She had dried her tears around the time everyone started showing up at Zelas' throne room and visually calmed down during the flight back to the resort. Yet on the inside, Filia's emotions were still in turmoil.
"Is that any way to speak to your fiance? You're so mean." Xellos feigned offense, just like when he used to playfully criticize Filia, just like when they were together. "Keep that up and I won't marry you."
Filia paused, her confused and shocked mind taking a moment longer to process the information. Xellos was acting as if things were back to normal between them, as if their breakup never happened. Her shock turned to hope that she feared would be crushed, but couldn't help it but to hold on to. "You mean... you'll marry me?"
"Possibly," Xellos looked thoughtful. "I'm not sure, I might change my mind. After all, you're terribly stupid and I'm a genius, we're so mismatched."
That sarcastic playful mockery was the Xellos Filia was used to. That could only mean that he really did find a way to convince Zelas to allow them to be together. Things would be back to normal for them, or as normal as it could get for a dragon and a monster that flirted by bickering. In another emotional outburst, Filia jumped on Xellos, giving him a bone crushing hug. The wolf cub he was holding jumped out of his arms to the safety of the ground next to her master's feet, so as to not be crushed along with him. The little cub tugged on the end of Filia's dress, trying to pry her off of Xellos, whose face had began to turn blue. Realizing she was suffocating him, Filia finally released Xellos.
Xellos took in a big breath of much needed oxygen. Being a human who was with a dragon was certainly not easy, especially if the dragon was temperamental, moody and emotional. "It's okay, Fili, the stupid dragon wasn't actually trying to kill me, she's just a clumsy brute."
The little wolf cub whimpered lightly and observed Filia with curious eyes. "Fili," Filia knelt on the ground next to the cub, which had yellow fur and blue eyes with long pupils. She slowly extended her hand, which the cub sniffed before allowing Filia to pet her. Filia adjusted the purple bow on the little wolf's neck and the pink ribbon on her tail, which had become a little disheveled with the strong wind of the fast flight. "Her name is Fili?" The whole group had left their questions for later, waiting to see how Filia would react to this.
"Yes," Xellos confirmed. "Her full name is Fili Algar Metallium, she's my replacement pet and she's way smarter than you. She listens to me like a good pet and even fetches things when I tell her to."
Filia made a long pause, occupying herself in petting the wolf cub while she did. Xellos waited for her to call him raw garbage and complain about being compared to a pet, but she took him by surprise again by giving him another bone crushing hug, along with a loving kiss. "That's so sweet!"
"Huh?" Xellos blinked in confusion. Sweet? What was so sweet about making a mockery of her name by using it for a pet? "You're weird," Xellos concluded.
Amelia was smiling from ear to ear. She was so happy that apparently Xellos and Filia were back together that she couldn't contain the need to cheer, "justice!" At the top of her lungs, raising her fist in the air. She wasn't sure how things were resolved, but she was certainly glad they were. The princess assumed that Filia's presence in Wolf Pack Island had something to do with it. She thought that a heartfelt conversation between the would be mother and daughter in laws was responsible for convincing Zelas to change her mind. Her theory couldn't be further from the truth, but in Amelia's optimistic justice loving mind, it was possible.
"Welcome back everyone!" Phythan approach towards the group from the direction of the lopsided wooden clock tower, which called their attention towards the building. Onyx peeked out from a window on the third floor before returning to whatever she was doing. Apparently it involved writing something on a desk next to the window; she was possibly outlining a story for Phythan to draw. "I was waiting to give you this," Phythan was carrying a sword in a fancy sheath, which he handed over to Gourry. "You're a very skilled swordsman Mr. Gourry, so I'll give this to you. I'm sure you'll put it to better use than I can."
"A new sword for me? Thank you!" Gourry happily received the gift, curiously taking the sword out of its sheath. "Glass?" He observed the blade in surprise. It looked like it was made of glass, but it had some considerable weight to it.
"It's made from my horn. I had a portion of it cut off. It's much smaller now, so it doesn't make me feel all out of balance when I transform. My headaches are also gone." Phythan smiled, relieved that the ordeal with the horn was over.
"A sword made of dragon horn, this sounds pretty cool!" Gourry happily exclaimed.
"It sounds valuable too," Lina eyed the sword greedily. Her temper tantrum had passed, but she still wanted a sort of consolation gift. At least she knew that Luna wasn't after her. "Do you have one of those for me?"
"Only one was made, sorry," Phythan replied, feeling kind of nervous with Lina's greedy eyes fixed on him.
"Don't you have a little bit of horn left that you can give me?" Lina took a step forward toward Phythan.
"Not really, I kind of want to keep what's left of it," Phythan nervously took a step back.
"Don't pick on him," Filia scolded defensively.
"I wasn't picking on anyone, it's just not fair that Gourry gets a gift and I don't." Lina pouted and crossed her arms.
Gourry swung the glass-like sword, which was definitely much stronger than any actual glass could ever be. He slashed the plastic tree in front of him effortlessly and several others behind it, causing them to fall in a domino effect. "How did that happen?"
"It's a special sword," Phythan grinned proudly. "Take a look at the hilt."
Gourry observed the sword's golden handle. At the part where it united with the glowing glass blade there was the silhouette of a wolf standing on two legs, with wings stretched out left and right on its back serving as part of the blade's handle. "That reminds me of the amulet Onyx used to have," Lina pointed out, while Gourry gave her a puzzled look. "You know; that amulet that she used to cast magic while her true power was sealed."
Gourry blinked without a clue, "who's Onyx?"
Lina slapped her forehead in frustration. "Never mind, the point is that the winged wolf is the symbol of Beast Master. She owes me for all the trouble she caused. I nearly had a heart attack back there! I should be the one to get this rare and expensive looking sword."
"Okay," Gourry agreed to everyone's shock.
Lina's jaw dropped, "are you serious? You'll give it to me?"
"I wouldn't be a very good husband if I didn't share my things. I'll give it to you when we get married. But I'll also ask to borrow it, like all the time, okay?" Gourry requested, which didn't really change the situation much.
Lina blushed at the mention of Gourry as her husband. "Okay, you can borrow it all the time. We've been looking for a good sword for you anyway, so you should use it." Technically Lina would own the sword eventually, though Gourry would be the one using it all the time, so he would be more so the sword's owner than her. None the less, having the treasure somehow to her name, Lina was satisfied.
Getting back into the topic of the sword, Gourry inquired something important. "How come the trees behind this tree were cut too?"
"Because of the astral echo of the slash," Phythan uselessly explain, since Gourry didn't understand a single word of it. Nonetheless, the rest of the group was certainly interested in hearing more about it and, unlike Gourry, they could actually follow the explanation. "This is a rare type of dragon horn; it's very sharp and can cut through just about anything. Similarly to how laser breath works, the attack isn't limited to the physical side, it also affects the astral side. The hilt of the sword is infused with monster energy, Beast Master's energy to be specific. It boosts the power of the sword, gives it a fusion magic effect and causes an echo of the slash that can reach targets beyond the physical reach of the sword via the astral side."
While most of the group was fascinated, Gourry was only confused. "What does that mean?"
"Basically," Phythan tried to simplify the explanation to make it as clear as possible for Gourry. "The harder you swing the sword the further you'll cut."
"Oh, I get it!" Gourry's face lit up in understanding. He wondered why Phythan didn't just say that from the beginning.
Moving on to the next subject, Phythan reminded. "Everything is almost ready for the wedding. Tifa asked me to remind you to visit the atelier today to make sure all the clothes fit properly.
"I can't wait for the wedding banquet!" Lina cheered happily.
"I wonder what kind of dress Miss Zelas will design for Miss Filia." Amelia mused aloud, while petting little Fili.
The spoken thought served as a frightening reminder for Filia. Apparently the wedding was on again and she was happy about that, but now she had her dress to worry about. Xellos had a big mischievous, amused and mocking grin plastered on his face. "So Zelas is designing your dress? I can't wait to see it."
"You'll have to wait until the wedding," Amelia pointed out. "The groom is not supposed to see the bride's dress until then."
"Is that so?" Xellos continued grinning in amusement as Filia's worry grew. She was imagining all sorts of terrible dresses that not even Naga would wear. "Then let's get this show on the road, my curiosity is killing me."
xoxox xox xoxox
Over the course of the next few days, the final preparations for the wedding were finished and all the guests showed up. The ceremony would take place in just a few hours and Filia was stressing, running around making sure everything was ready. It was true that if Zelas wanted to ruin the event, she could, but Filia would be terribly disappointed if the occasion was ruined by a cause other than Zelas, a cause that could have been avoided.
There was also the matter of the dress to consider. Filia had not seen it yet and she had not spoken to Zelas since her visit to Wolf Pack Island. Maybe the monster lord would say something about forgetting the dress because it was so unimportant, at least Filia hoped that happened. Then she would have the perfect excuse to wear her backup dress, which she actually liked, instead of whatever monstrosity of a dress Zelas could come up with.
"Is everyone ready?" The bride to be asked Amelia and Lina for what probably was the millionth time.
"Yes, we're ready," Amelia and Lina chorused yet again.
"Where's Tiffany?" Filia inquired impatiently.
"I'm right here, sweet Filia." Tiffany entered the atelier, already in her bridesmaid dress, standing next to Amelia and Lina, who were wearing matching gowns. "I just had a little something to take care of first, but it's all done now." There was a hint of mischief in Tiffany's eyes that reminded Filia of Xellos and Zelas. Perhaps Celo was rubbing off on her; he was one of Beast Master's tricky monsters too.
"Okay," Filia took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. She had already taken all the damage control and contingency measures that she possibly could. Now all that was left to do was hope that Beast Master was feeling merciful, if such a mood could even exist in her. She allowed her eyes to wonder across the atelier, a spacious place with sewing machines, needles, threads and various rolls of fine fabric all over the place. The walls were decorated with scrolls featuring various color palettes to serve as inspiration for those who worked there, a contrast to the plain white tiles that covered the floor, the place they looked to when they needed to rest their eyes from the bright and varied colors on the walls.
The sound of sizzling electricity was heard coming from the door, along with a complaint in Xellos' voice. "Who electrified the door?"
"I did!" A female voice from behind the door replied. "This is a place to create amazing sexy designs. I suspect that men might have set foot on my atelier while I was out recently. I can't have something like that happening, no man must see my designs until they are fully completed to their maximum splendor!"
"So you design clown bikinis?" Xellos inquired with a tone of sarcastic mockery that was so very Xellos.
Annoyed, the female voice retorted. "I am the great Marty, world famous fashion designer! How could you not know this?" She paused with a rather suspicious "hmm..." left hanging on the sound waves. "Although, I could forgive you if you serve as the model for my new line of men's clothing. It will be fabulous!"
The next sound that followed from behind the closed door was laughter, which lasted several seconds until Xellos stopped and spoke, with exaggerated surprise. "What? You weren't joking just now?"
With her curiosity getting the best of her, Filia decided to open the door. Being female, she was not electrocuted by it. This Marty person reminded her of Naga in regards to her style of clothing. However, there were far more colors involved in her skimpy outfit. Xellos was right; it really did look like she was wearing a clown bikini.
Marty was wearing a bra consisting of blue and yellow stars. Her bikini bottom was a bright shade of pink with little blue stars. Her knee high Boots were yellow with blue stars over the knees. She had a pair of fingerless gloves that were pink with yellow stars on the back of the hands. Her lipstick was the same bright pink, with blue eyes shadow over her eyes and yellow star earrings. Her yellow hair was long with a few blue and pink dyed strands. There was a short cape attached to her shoulder straps, blue on the back and yellow on the inverse side with yellow and pink stars on the back and blue and pink stars on the other side. "Of course I wasn't joking!" The strange woman pulled out a rolled up piece of paper from a pocket on her cape and stretched it out for all those present to see.
The paper contained a sketch of a man, who was not meant to resemble anyone in particular, just a generic model. Only the clothing was colored, while the man's line art was left unfinished with no detailed features added in. The unfortunate caricature was wearing a rather short tiger print loincloth with a tail attached to the back of the garment, leopard print boots and fuzzy arm bands like a lion's mane, along with a necklace decorated with fake fangs. "It's my Wild Cat series' main design; it's called the Wild Feline Trio!" Marty proudly declared. "It will soon be distributed in the lovely boutiques of Amor Resort. To announce the grand arrival of my new Wild Cat line, there will be a grand fashion show and I'm running a little short on models. Consider yourself very fortunate that your gorgeous eyes have inspired me to offer you the honor of being the first of many to wear this in front of hundreds, no, thousands of people!"
There was a silent dramatic and suspenseful pause, then Xellos, Filia, along with Lina and Amelia who gathered near the door, took a moment to laugh at Marty and her ridiculous drawing. Filia and Amelia didn't want to be mean, but they couldn't help it. Xellos made a mental note to keep his eyes squinty all the time, not just most of the time, especially around strange women, and they didn't come much stranger than this one.
Tiffany was there as well, though she held in her laughter as best she could. "They are all overjoyed!" Tiffany loudly exclaimed, excusing the others. "Your designs are as amazing as ever, Marty, you're an absolute genius!"
Filia, Amelia, Lina and even Xellos couldn't help it but to give Tiffany strange looks, as if she had gone insane. "I knew you would love them." Marty smiled proudly.
"Well, we're done with the atelier now, so it's all yours. Don't worry about the models, I can get you some. My cousin Phythan has no modesty and will wear any sort of skimpy rag if you tell him it's for the sake of justice, er I mean, he's very open to new fashion and will wear your fabulous designs if you tell him it's for the sake of justice, you know, fashion justice. Plus his eyes are kind of a similar color as Xellos'."
"If he's as hot as this guy, that would be awesome!" Marty happily accepted the offer.
"I could also ask Fang to participate," Tiffany suggested. "He has cute silver eyes and a black fox tail and ears. He'll do just about anything if you scratch him behind the ears just right."
"Oh, he sounds like he would look great with this design; I call it the Wild Beast Tamer!" Marty pulled out another extreme design from her little cape. The sketch featured the same generic male figure as the previous one, with only the outfit being detailed, though it was not as colorful as the previous one. The outfit consisted mainly of black belts with silver buckles. The man in the sketch was wearing two thick belts over each other in the shape of an X, diagonally with the top of the belts on the waist and the other end on the thighs, just barely covering what had to be covered. He had belt anklets, wrist bands and armbands, matching a belt collar around his neck.
"Wonderful, I'll let them know to be ready for an audition. We must go now, see you later Marty!" Tiffany happily went on her way, beckoning her guests to follow.
As Lina, Amelia, Filia, Tiffany and Xellos made their way down the stairs, Marty pause and looked at Lina. "Have I seen you before?"
"I'm sure we've never met!" Lina hurried down the stairs away from Marty's view. In truth, the redhead remembered the atelier golem battle of Marty and Naga versus Tatjana and herself all too well, but she rather not bring that up ever again.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 099: Surprise! I'm On The Guest List
Filia was feeling extremely nervous as she went down the stairs away from the atelier and into the boutique below. After seeing Marty's designs and her outfit, she was starting to fear that the dress Zelas expected her to wear for the wedding would be much, much, worse. "Filia, sweetie," the bride to be snapped out of her worried daze when Tiffany called her for the third time, though it was only the first time Filia actually noticed. "Are you feeling alright?"
Filia forced a nervous smile, "great!" The exclamation came out slightly out of breath from the force of the stress it carried.
"Aw, how cute, I was nervous before my wedding too," Tiffany giggled. "You better go get into your dress now. I think I saw Zelas browsing around the boutique; she was probably waiting for you to give you the dress. You should go talk to her."
"The dress... right..." Shaking with every fearful step, Filia moved out of sight among the many boutique displays.
Lina brought up a question that had been bothering her since she saw Marty. "Why do you sell Marty's designs at the resort? Does anyone actually buy them?"
"Oh yes, they sell quite well!" Tiffany happily exclaimed. "Honeymooners love that kind of thing."
"Okay, that's enough information," Lina quickly took back her question.
"Well, we should be on our way," Tiffany announced with a smile. "Xellos, you'd best go change into your tuxedo, Zelas should come get you soon. She said something about throwing away the groom."
"You mean giving away?" Wasn't that the bride's role? Ah well, this wasn't a conventional wedding anyway. "I'll make sure not to keep her waiting." Thus the group went on their way, Xellos to get into his tuxedo and the bridesmaids off to the temple where the guests were.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia was having a bit of trouble locating Zelas. She asked the shop keeper at the boutique and was told that the lady matching that description had already left. Apparently, most of the human employees of the resort were unaware of Zelas' status as the boss of their boss. Thus Filia made her way down the main street of Amor Resort, searching for her would be mother in law. Her fear of the wedding dress of doom that awaited her grew with every step, but Filia knew that avoiding this was not an option, if anything, it could only make matters worse.
While searching among the crowds, Filia saw someone that she recognized. His golden hair made him stand out in the crowd. She had seen him briefly shortly after the fall of the barrier, just barely exchanging a short introduction. It was only politeness, she was only there to greet her father's guest and serve some tea before leaving them to discuss their business. Nonetheless, she knew who he was and his position. "Milgazia," the name escaped Filia in a terrified whisper. It wasn't that she assumed that he was there to pick a fight, the leader of the remnant dragons who served Aqua Lord Ragradia had to be smarter than that. He couldn't be there to interfere, but he was there and that reminded Filia of many things.
Filia might have forgiven Xellos, but was it okay? She might not be directly involved with the golden dragons anymore, but she was still a golden dragon and she couldn't let go of that. She had to admit that despite it all, she still held a high esteem and respect for the part of her race that had been her family growing up and for her family's friends, which included Milgazia. Her father had always spoken highly of him. Filia froze in place unable to say or do anything. It looked like Milgazia was turning around, he would see her, he would see her for sure. What would he say? Filia didn't want to imagine it. So many golden dragons were killed; the War of the Monsters' Fall was especially harsh on the dragons of the water clan.
Suddenly, just as Milgazia turned around, someone pulled Filia behind a big heart shaped plastic bush with mint green leaves and hot pink roses. A tan hand, with perfectly manicured shiny silver nails with little diamonds on them, covered her mouth to stop her from making a sound. "Shh," Zelas made the universal sign for silence with her other hand, holding her index finger over her crimson lips.
Filia, who still looked like a kicked puppy, nodded her head, indicating that she would be quiet and Zelas released her with a warning look in her predatory silver eyes. While this was happening, Milgazia walked by. He paused in front of the bush, glancing at it suspiciously, then went on his way again. After Milgazia was gone, Filia let out a breath she didn't even realize she had been holding. Zelas was hiding her monster power, just barely projecting herself in the physical world, while her true self remained mostly on the astral side. Filia looked towards Milgazia, who was walking further away, then back to Zelas with a questioning look in her eyes.
"We're going to follow him," Zelas decided as she picked up one side of the large white pot adorned with red hearts containing the silly fake bush.
"Why?" Filia automatically grabbed the other end of the pot and moved along with Zelas, using the plastic shrubbery as a shield to stay hidden from view.
"Because I want to know what he intends to do, stupid." Zelas replied in her most mocking tone, while keeping her voice in a quiet whisper. "I rarely do any spying myself, I haven't followed anyone in secret in many years," Zelas admitted.
"Of course," Filia frowned. "You have minions to do this for you."
"Yes, but since I'm here, I might as well stretch my legs and do a little spying myself. It might be amusing." It was obvious that Zelas didn't consider Milgazia to be a threat in the least. Why would she, if she could so easily end his existence?
Filia remained quiet. She wasn't sure what to say to all of this. She had no idea why Milgazia was there and wondered if Zelas had a clue. "Do you suspect why he's here?"
"I don't suspect, I know." Zelas whispered in a superior tone.
Filia waited for the revelation that never came, thus she prompted. "Why?"
Zelas' answer was simple and to the point, but it filled Filia with even more confusion. "Because I sent him an invitation to the wedding."
"You did?" Filia almost failed to keep her voice's volume in check, her hand automatically covering her mouth while Zelas gave her another warning glare. "Sorry," Filia whispered in a barely audible tone. "Why did you send Milgazia an invitation?"
"Because the side of the temple designated for the bride's guests was too empty, given that all your relatives are dead." Zelas smiled sweetly as if she was doing something very considerate.
Filia frowned, anger and sorrow invading her eyes. Most of her relatives were dead because of Darkstar, but some were killed in the War of the Monsters Fall along with many other golden dragons. "Did you enjoy the War of the Monsters Fall?"
Zelas raised a curious and amused eyebrow. "Talk about random topic shifts. Your brain, if it's even there, must have a leak. I'll dignify you with an answer anyway. Yes, it was quite an enjoyable time. Xellos had lots of fun too, he was such a messy little beast, but not much else can be expected from a newborn monster. He's gotten much neater over time."
Filia's frown became more prominent; she threw caution to the wind and bitterly whispered, "I hate you."
"I know you do," Zelas grinned. "I can taste it and it is delicious, yet the flavor isn't pure. Is that the benefit of the doubt? How disturbing," the monster lord wrinkled her nose in distaste.
"Xellos respects you a lot, he truly admires you. You were created by Shabranigdu, much like Xellos was created by you. I suppose it makes sense that you would want to do his bidding, but..." Filia wasn't even sure where she was going with this, she felt like she was speaking at random. "He's been torn apart, the pieces have been sealed. You don't have to listen to Ruby Eyes anymore; you can do whatever you want."
"What makes you think I wouldn't have already noticed the obvious?" Zelas glanced at Milgazia, who had stopped in front of an ice-cream booth. He received a vanilla ice-cream cone with heart shaped chocolate chips from the vendor and sat down at a heart decorated bench to eat it. Zelas assumed that even bitter dragons on business got hungry. It didn't look like he was moving for the time being.
"My point is that you don't have to return the world to chaos if you don't want to." Filia finished her argument even if she thought it was useless.
"Can you really call emptiness chaotic? Chaos, unrest, disarray, turmoil, hysteria, it's all in the eye of the beholder. We are all chaos and the end is nothingness," Zelas revealed. "It's sad when everything you thought you knew turns out to be a lie, but at the same time it's deliciously chaotic. It opens up a world of new possibilities that most would fear sooner than appreciate. To win is to lose and to struggle is to win. A true victory has no aftermath. The aftermath is a loss, because a true victory never ends."
Filia stared at the monster lord that was hiding behind a plastic bush with her. This was not exactly the best setting, and certainly not the ideal company, to have anything resembling a deep conversation. Yet Filia felt as if she had just been told something meaningful, something vital, something that was too deep to be easily understood. "What do you mean?" The anger was overwhelmed with deep confusion and concern for the world as a whole.
"Look, some ditz is trying to flirt with Milgazia." Zelas pointed out, changing the subject and ignoring Filia's look that pleaded for more information. "He's on the move, coward, running away like that. Even if golden dragons are so pathetically weak, a single laser breath would have been enough to kill that human, or just regular golden dragon bad breath."
Filia decided not to reply. She wasn't going to amuse Zelas with an argument. Instead, she picked up her side of the pot that held the plastic bush and moved it along with Zelas to follow Milgazia. He stopped again, this time to speak with an elf woman in armor. "I can't help it but to think someone is watching me. I feel like the fake bushes are following me. Anyway, have you seen anything suspicious, Memphis?"
"They're not following you, those weird fake bushes are just all over the place," the elf woman, called Memphis, replied. Zelas, who was well informed in the happenings of the world, recognized her as Milgazia's apprentice. "Maybe it's the people here that are staring at you, like that girl from a few minutes ago," she grinned. "Anyway, I didn't see any waiting ambushes or anything."
"I thought as much," Milgazia concluded, ignoring the comment about the girl. "If Beast Master wanted to pick a fight, she could bring it to our home."
"Then this means we can safely conclude that the wedding invitation for our clan was not part of an ambush. As if we'd fall for that anyway," Memphis huffed. "It was all probably just a bad joke, Zelas' way of rubbing the wedding on our faces, something about corrupting the golden dragon race, like the invitation said."
Filia felt her heart sink as she listened. Milgazia shook his head in disagreement. "I don't think it's that simple, though the golden dragons have been driven to make mistakes in the past, I think this is different. If Zelas' intentions were only mockery, she could have done that without inviting me to the wedding. Her message to me with that invitation wasn't 'I'm corrupting your race' it was 'I know of the secret.' Don't you see? She's trying to tell me that she knows the truth about the balance needed to maintain chaos in an eternal struggle. Although I would only understand the message between the lines if I knew the truth too."
Memphis sighed hopelessly. "Does that change anything? I doubt most monsters would hold back because of the truth. On the other hand, it is also a truth of hardships."
"Everyone pushing and pulling towards their own side is what keeps the world going. It may seem like we got the worse end of this, but the monsters will be affected too." Milgazia continued speaking of things that Filia didn't understand.
"If they believed," Memphis corrected.
"Yes, but I doubt they will. Maybe it's even best if they don't know." Milgazia paused, giving his next few words some extra thought. "Maybe it's also best if the golden dragons, elves, humans and creatures of this world don't know either, for now at least, until they're ready."
"It does bring a lot of self questioning, doesn't it?" Sighing tiredly, Memphis brought up an important point. "Beast Master may know, but what has she decided upon?"
"Maybe I'll find out today," Milgazia concluded.
Memphis gasped. "You don't mean?"
"I was invited," Milgazia looked determined. He pulled out a golden pocket watch. "It's almost time; I'd best go get changed and ready for the event. Are you coming?"
"Of course I'm going!" Memphis assured.
Milgazia and Memphis began to walk away. Filia automatically picked up the pot with the fake heart shaped bush, but put it down again when she realized Zelas didn't look like she intended to move. Apparently she heard all that she needed to hear. "By the way, did you remember to buy a present?" Milgazia inquired as he and Memphis got lost among the crowds.
"You mean a wedding gift?" Memphis looked surprised. "You weren't just joking about that?"
"It would be rude to show up empty handed." Milgazia pointed out, and that was the last bit of conversation that reached Filia's ears from her current position.
"Interesting," Zelas mused aloud. "This makes things a bit easier, but at the same time, there's also that to deal with..."
"That?" Filia questioned. "What's going on?"
"Nothing for you to worry your ugly little head over," Zelas grinned with mocking superiority. "Now let's get you into your dress and try to make you look somewhat decent for the wedding." A brick of dread settled into the pit of Filia's stomach.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia couldn't retrace her steps even if she tried. She knew she was at Amor Resort, but how she got to that particular building was a mystery to her. All she did was follow Zelas, dragging her feet. Filia's sense of place in the world didn't recover until she saw her bridesmaids near by, along with the guys, who were already dressed up in tuxedos. Xellos was there too, dressed as a groom should be, passing the time by throwing sarcastic comments around that annoyed Zelgadis and flew over Gourry's head. The murmurs of many voices beyond the opposite wall told of a gathered crowd, which Filia concluded were the guests.
Filia finally realized that she was in a structure attached to the back of the temple where the wedding would take place, performed by Sylphiel and made official by the authority of Seyruun royalty. She went over to Xellos, who seemed to be perfectly calm, as if this was just another ordinary day, while Filia was a nervous wreck. "Is everything ready?" She asked, barely finding her voice. "Where are the rings?" She remembered she had not seen the wedding bands yet and those were usually present at weddings, unless of course, Zelas happened to decide they were unnecessary.
Xellos attributed Filia's nerves to the approaching ceremony and didn't think there was anything more to it than that. At least until he saw that lost look in her eyes that screamed of guilt. She didn't seem to want to directly address what was bothering her at the moment though. "The best man has them."
Filia nodded automatically, then paused, glancing around for anyone in the back room holding wedding rings. "Where's the best man?" She stopped again, coming to another realization. "Who is the best man?"
From the lamp above their heads, little Val flew down from his perch and landed on Filia's shoulder as Xellos replied to her question by pointing at the small dragon and stating what had become obvious, "there."
The little ancient dragon had a pair of chewed up wedding bands in his mouth. "Val, sweetie, give the rings to mommy." Val spat out the rings, but his miniscule yet strong jaws and tiny yet sharp growing fangs, had already twisted the valuable gold into something unidentifiable. The purer the gold the softer it was. "Can somebody fix these?" She held out the mashed up rings, giving Xellos a quick glare as soon as she noticed his amused look. He must have known Val would chew up the wedding bands.
"Don't worry, Miss Filia, we'll take care of everything," Amelia graciously offered, taking the near shapeless gold from Filia's hands.
"Enough stalling, your dress is in there," Zelas pointed at an adjacent door which led to a smaller changing room. Filia took a deep breath and bravely marched towards the door, mentally prepared to see something horrifying behind it. While Filia was changing, Zelas waved her hand in the air dismissively. "Finish the last few preparations and take your places everyone. I'm going to change into my dress," never mind that she could do so instantly is she so wished it. "Xellos, I'll see you at the entrance to throw you away or whatever you call that strange tradition that I'll have to take care of in Bazard's place because he's so very dead." Zelas knew all too well that Filia could hear her just fine through the thin door of the changing room. With that final mocking comment in place, she faded to the astral side.
Meanwhile, inside the adjacent small room, Filia found herself staring at the dress she was supposed to wear. It was dark purple, but she should have seen that coming since Zelas did mention it. She examined it carefully and found that it was in perfect conditions and did not look like it would fall apart, or itch, or otherwise malfunction. She ran her fingers on the soft fabric, this was too easy and she was very suspicious. With as much courage as she could muster, Filia began to put on the dress, trying to figure out what the catch was. The answer soon arrived.
Despite the dress being strapless, Filia wasn't worried that it would fall off; it was far too tight for that. What she was worried about was being able to breathe while wearing it. Her back was bare, the top only covering the front, ending below her shoulders. How in the world could a bareback dress hug her torso so closely was beyond the laws of physics. Perhaps the fabric was enchanted to be form fitting, or form squishing. The skirt finally became loose at the hips, flowing to the floor in a way that made Filia worry she would trip over it, or be somehow made to trip over it.
Straining not to asphyxiate, Filia exited the changing room and found that only Zelas was left there, in her pretty diamond covered white gown, because she just had to be the center of attention. The monster lord's hair was also completely silver now and elegantly shiny. "Isn't this dress a little too tight?" Filia inquired in the most inoffensive tone she could push her voice into.
"Nah, you're just fat," Zelas chirped with an infuriating amount of cheer. Filia felt her eye twitch. Xellos was definitely his mother's son, or monster lord's minion or whatever. Filia hated when the similarities between them shone through, it made it feel nonsensical to be so in love with Xellos and detest Zelas so strongly, but what was she supposed to do? Let it all go? She couldn't, not after seeing Milgazia again and being reminded of her race's suffering.
To be Continued