The guests' chatter once again settled down and the temple became silent as Zelas made her entrance with Xellos on her arm. The audience was perfectly quiet, except for the gnashing of Huey's teeth, as the block of ice encasing him had only recently melted. Beyond the sound of the orchestra's funeral march, Filia could have sworn she heard the sound of her own beating heart. She clutched her new bouquet of black and purple flowers, roses this time, false of course, though they were filled with an alluring perfume that was making her dizzy with its intensity. Finally, Xellos arrived by Filia's side and Zelas released him to join his bride, standing aside to allow the bride and groom to take the center stage.
Of course, the slit of Filia's dress was on the side that faced the crowd, as she took the position in front of the altar where the groom usually stood. She was sure Zelas took that into account too, to further embarrass her. Regardless of the difficulties that she had gone through and the trials and tribulations that were surely to come, Filia cherished the moment. While Sylphiel went on with the less than classic wedding vows, Filia tried to focus her eyes on Xellos, but from the corner of her eyes, she couldn't help it but to see the monsters sitting at the temple making faces at her. Xellos couldn't see them, instead getting a view of Filia and the bride's guests on the opposite direction.
Filia didn't expect anything except disrespectful mockery from the monsters, but they were really getting on her nerves, especially because some of the stupid faces they were making at her were actually funny. Matters got worse when Zelas started quietly blowing raspberries and Dolphin slipped her hand behind Dynast's head creating the shape of horns with her fingers. It was especially silly, since Filia theorized that he probably had horns in his true form anyway. The bride clenched her teeth and tried to focus completely on Xellos while Sylphiel went on and on with the unusually long wedding vows that sounded more like some kind of slavery contract.
In an effort not to be distracted by the monsters' funny faces, Filia paid attention to the vows. "In the event that the golden dragon race should reinstate the bride into their ranks, she will be required to serve as a spy for Beast Master." Sylphiel read from the scroll that she had been provided with.
The words made Filia wish she had been paying attention to the whole list of wedding vows that were very out of place in a wedding. As Sylphiel went on with the ridiculous terms and conditions set by Beast Master, Filia's angry eyes landed on Xellos' amused gaze. He was grinning, almost laughing. She glared and accidentally looked at the audience behind him, noticing that Zelas was still making faces at her, sticking out her tongue and wiggling her perfectly manicured fingers, with a pair of strangely adorable little wolf ears twitching atop her head. Unable to contain herself, Filia burst out laughing despite her anger.
Sylphiel paused, as she was done reading the terms and conditions recorded on the scroll and was left with an unanswered question that required an official 'I do.' The priestess tried to give Filia a moment to compose herself, but the bride had been ceased by an uncontrollable laugh attack. With Filia still laughing her head off, Sylphiel decided she might as well turn her question to Xellos. "Do you, Xellos Metallium, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Filia Ul Copt, who should have been your mortal enemy?"
With her face scarlet red in mortification, Filia managed to calm herself just in time to hear Xellos' mocking and superior, "I do."
Seeing as the bride was somewhat compose, save for the bright shade of red on her face, Sylphiel repeated her question to Filia. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Xellos Metallium, who should have been your mortal enemy?"
"I don't!" Filia snapped. The gathered crowd erupted in shocked gasps and scandalized murmurs filled the temple.
"Such drama!" Amelia beamed in excitement. Little Val squeaked in confusion in the princess' arms. Val wasn't sure what was going on, but the strange looks his aunts, Lina, Elena and Tiffany, were giving her, hinted that aunt Amelia's reaction wasn't what should be expected.
At a loss on what to do, Sylphiel assumed that the bride had given the wrong answer on accident because she was nervous. Once again, she voiced the vital question. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to all the terms and conditions hereby stated and shamelessly confess your traitorous lustful feelings for Xellos Metallium, who should have been your mortal enemy?"
"I don't," Filia repeated with stubborn determination. It became obvious that her answer was no mistake and the gossiping murmurs of the crowd increased as a reaction.
Xellos frowned, making an exaggerated dramatic sad expression. "Don't you love me, stupid dragon?"
"Of course I love you, raw garbage, but I can't agree too all those terms and conditions!" Filia insisted.
"True love is supposed to agree to anything," Zelas pointed out.
Filia placed one hand on her hip, the other still holding the bouquet of black and purple flowers. "How would you know, you're a monster lord, you don't feel love, do you?"
With a mix of offense and disgust, Zelas snapped, "I most certainly do not!" Then she added in a calmer tone, "but I have read well researched reports about it."
"I've been abandoned at the altar, oh I'm so miserable!" Xellos dramatized, backing away from the altar and pretending to cry on Zelas' shoulder.
"There, there, we'll find you another slave, I mean bride." Zelas petted Xellos hair in mocking consolation.
Dynast and Dolphin focused on him to try to taste his misery. The misery of Zelas' general priest would surely be a sweet delicacy, but they were terribly disappointed. "He's faking it!" Dynast accused. "More realism!"
"Shut up, don't interrupt, this is the best part!" Dolphin elbowed him urgently. "I hope this soap opera has a tragic ending, I really like those."
Filia sighed hopelessly; this so called wedding was becoming even more of a mockery than it already was. "You know, if you wanted to force me into doing everything that your contract states, you could." She dangerously stated the truth.
"That is very true," Zelas agreed.
"So why should I bother agreeing to all of it if it makes no difference? Can't I at least have a somewhat normal wedding vow?" Filia pleaded.
"That would not please the audience," Zelas pointed out with a predatory look that indicated that by audience she was including herself and she was not someone anyone would want to displease.
"I have an idea," Xellos ceased his silly drama, with a cheerful amused grin that didn't fit at all with his previous feigned misery. "I need a pen."
"Here," Dynast tossed a pen at Xellos with such speed that if Zelas had not caught it, it would have stabbed his throat and killed him.
With a mocking grin that screamed 'you can't kill me, nya, nya, nya, you can't kill me!' Xellos took the pen Zelas handed him. "Thank you," a polite phrase never sounded so smugly mocking before. Xellos turned the scroll Sylphiel was reading from over to the blank back side and scribbled something on it, with Zelas looking over his shoulder amused. With the new vows on paper, everyone took their places again as Sylphiel once again read. However, the priestess paused, causing Xellos to give her a questioning look. "What is it?" He inquired.
"Nothing," Sylphiel replied, "it's just that I didn't think you would dot your i's with little stars. That's not something one would expect a monster to do," it was cute.
"Why not? It's stylish," Xellos defended.
"I guess so," Sylphiel agreed and proceeded with her reading. She wondered if Filia would actually agree to this. It seemed less extreme than the previously proposed agreement, but it still wasn't exactly romantic. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt-"
"I object!" All heads turned towards the loud voice at the entrance of the temple.
"Is that a goblin?" Princess Marlene inquired.
"Maybe it's a troll," Ruuma theorized.
"It's an ogre!" Pokota announced. "Can't you tell from the onion smell?"
The chubby green ogre with the funny ears looked embarrassed, as all eyes were on him. He glared at his donkey companion, needing someone to blame for the mishap, then laughed nervously. "Sorry, wrong wedding, please carry on!"
The ogre hurried away, while the Donkey went on and on about how they "should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque."
Sylphiel cleared her throat to gather the attention of the guests once more and continued with the very interrupted wedding ceremony. "Do you, Filia Ul Copt, agree to tease and be teased, annoy and be annoyed, give and receive frequent hot fan service and its aftermath..." Honestly Sylphiel would rather not read too deeply into that part, but it was making Filia blush. "And happily bicker with Xellos Metallium, in amusement and in stress, in entertainment and in chaos, in mischief and in insanity, not permitting boredom to ever be a part of your lives, for the rest of your miserable existence?"
The audience waited with baited breath, all eyes on Filia. They wondered if she would decline to those terms as well, most sane people would. But who ever said that love was sane? Filia actually thought this vow was kind of fitting and cute in its own peculiar way, plus Xellos wrote it himself and that made it special to her. "I do."
Murmurs erupted from the crowd, most of them questioning Filia's sanity. They were quickly silence by Sylphiel, who continued reciting the new wedding vows. "Do you, Xellos Metallium-"
"I hate happy endings!" Dolphin called out, initiating a chorus of 'boo' from the groom's side of the temple.
"Summarize it and let's get it over with," Zelas ordered. "The guests are getting impatient."
Sylphiel nodded and continued. Instead of the usual slow dramatic pace commonly used to read wedding vows, she spoke in a hasty voice. "Do you, Xellos Metallium, agree to everything I just asked Filia about?"
"I do," Xellos agreed and with that the wedding vows were officially completed.
As it is traditional, Sylphiel went on with the next line. "I now declare you husband and-"
"Don't kiss her!" Dynast called out. "You're going to make us toss out all that energy we ate from the rampage earlier."
"I hate happy endings!" Dolphin complained again, pulling out a fan out of nowhere and creating a soft breeze around herself. She looked like a snobbish offended aristocrat, which was probably the look she was purposely going for anyway.
While Filia glared at the monster lords who were set on ruining her wedding, Xellos blew raspberries at them and suddenly pulled Filia into his arms. He kissed her with enough passion to make her face turn scarlet and provoke the complaints of all the monsters in the temple, except the monster chimeras, Celo and Fang. Even Zelas was joining in the booing. "Alright, that's enough; break it up before I break you both!" Beast Master warned. Xellos and Filia finally parted, taking in some much needed oxygen into their thirsty lungs.
"Now it's time for the tradition of throwing things at the newly weds." Dolphin had a spiky metal ball ready to throw it and Dynast was about to light up a bomb.
"You're supposed to throw rice!" Filia defended. Her face was still rosy from the intensity of her first kiss as a married woman.
"There are people in the far reaches of the world who are still recovering from the effects of a terrible famine and you want to waste food?" Zelas feigned indignation. "You are such a cruel and inconsiderate dragon!"
Before Filia could come up with any form of answer, and thankfully, before the monsters could start throwing things at the newly weds, the temple began to shake violently.
"Perhaps the union of a golden dragon and a monster has upset the balance of the universe and doomed this world to implode!" Wizer theorized, with more excitement than certain doom should merit.
"I think it's just a regular earthquake," Pokota argued, though it was none the less a pretty unlucky event. "Everyone outside!"
"Let us panic in an orderly manner!" Wizer contradictorily added. The bride, the groom, the priestess, the best man, the bridesmaids and all of the guests, avalanched out of the temple with plenty of pushing and shoving along the way.
xoxox xox xoxox
By the time the harsh earthquake ended, the temple was left in shambles along with most of the structures of Amor Resort. It looked like the place would have to be closed down for repairs for quite some time. Even the majestic glass dome where balls were usually held, the place where they had planned to hold the wedding reception, had fallen to pieces. At least the biggest and fanciest cruise of the resort was still safely at port, having survived the harsh tidal waves that came as a consequence of the seismic activity. Thus the group headed there to have the wedding's after party.
As they walked to the port, making their way through the debris and destruction that was all over Amor Resort, Sylphiel shared her worries with Amelia, Lina and Tiffany. "I have a strong feeling that I'm forgetting something important. With how" unusual, strange, weird, "original this wedding is, it kind of threw me off."
"As long as no one forgets the banquet and cake, any other details can be overlooked," Lina firmly declared. "I never got my popcorn and all that running around after the rings made me very hungry."
"The rings!" Sylphiel, Amelia and Tiffany exclaimed at the same time.
"Oh no, I got so caught up in the drama that I forgot to make sure Val wasn't chewing on them!" Amelia apologetically confessed. "Val, can you give the rings you were holding back to auntie?" Little Val deposited two chewed pieces of gold into Amelia's hand. The shiny materials were impossible to identify as rings.
"All that work to get them back and they weren't even used," Lina stated in disbelief.
"It's not the ring that matters, but its significance... or something cheesy like that," Tiffany cheerfully chirped. "Although, we should get those fixed before sweet Filia remembers them, so we can give them to the newlyweds as soon as possible. I'm sure they won't mind too much. Xellos will be amused and Filia will be okay, thinking that at least she managed to get married despite all the interruptions and difficulties."
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia fingered the wedding band that had been so difficult to obtain. It was ironic that the wedding was halted to recover it and all that mayhem occurred, only to forget about it during the actual ceremony. Well at least she had her wedding ring, though she was sure Xellos would oh so kindly allow Val to use his as a chew toy and criticize her for being a bad mother if she didn't allow their child to chew up her wedding band as well. At least she could keep her engagement ring to herself, probably. None the less, at least the wedding went through, albeit Filia didn't feel any different with the status of being married then she did before, not that she expected to feel too different.
All things aside, the situation was the same. There was a mysterious enemy out there, a hidden conspiracy, Zelas was plotting and after all of that was done and over with, after it blew up in Filia's face, she would have a shop to get back to, a son to raise and a life to live... hopefully. However, there was a more immediate problem to address right now. "Are you sure you're okay with this, Xellos?"
"Of course I'm okay," Xellos grinned in his usual confident way, but anyone who knew him as well as Filia would see past it. His human body was prone to becoming sea sick, though he was fighting it; the constant rocking of the waves combined with the piercing smell of fish wasn't helping. Though the large cruise was not sunk by the massive tidal waves that came along with the earthquake, the deck was showered in salty water and sea creatures. It was a mess and in no way similar to the kind of place one would expect to hold a party at, let alone a wedding party.
None the less, Lina was quite happy, immediately suggesting a fish barbecue, and thus it was done. The S.S. Highwind cruise circled the Amor Resort island, rocking constantly on the energetic waves with the scent of barbecued fish all over the deck. Among the seafood being prepared there was octopus, which Xellos' human body was allergic to. He wouldn't have any serious consequences as long as he didn't eat any, but the smell was clearly bothering him. Then again, such a strong smell of fish would bother anyone. Filia knew that his arm around her waist wasn't just a show of affection to gross out all the monsters present. Xellos was desperately trying to hold on to his sense of balance, so as to not fall face first into the deck in a dizzy daze.
Zelas approached with a bottle of a suspicious looking liquor, which she handed to Xellos. "This will make you feel better about the fact that all the wedding presents that were kept at the dome for the originally planned location of the party were crushed to pieces." Then she added in a whisper. "Besides, I can't have you getting sick in front of my guests; you must not be so weak."
"Sick? I'm not sick at all." Xellos tried to look confident. He would fool anyone into believing he was just fine, except Filia and Zelas.
"Either way, drink, it's an order," Zelas smiled sweetly, her eyes glinting dangerously.
"Cheers!" Xellos uncovered the bottle and began to drink.
The scent of alcohol emerged heavily from the container, invading Filia's senses. Dragons had a higher resistance to alcohol than humans, but even so, she thought the scent was way too strong and Xellos was chugging the entire bottle of the stuff like water. "That can't be healthy," she worried.
"Come now, little dragon, a drop of liquor now and then won't kill anyone... Then again, humans are fragile, make sure he doesn't drink anymore; this is only for a special occasion." Zelas' mocking grin never left her face.
Filia frowned, "if Xellos actually survives this," she certainly hoped Zelas was informed enough about the human body not to make Xellos drink anything too lethal. "He's going to have such a killer hangover that I'm sure he won't dare to drink a single drop of alcohol ever again." At least not while he was human.
"That would make things difficult for you, wouldn't it?" Zelas mused with a pitying expression.
"How so?" Filia inquired, though she knew she didn't really want to hear the answer.
"Any man who stays sober long enough would no doubt dump you." With no further words of sarcastic compassion beyond that mocking utterance, Zelas went off to play hostess.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 104: Party! Festivities of Hilarity
The party guests were spread along the deck of the cruise ship, each enjoying the festivities in their own way. Phythan practically skipped over to Milgazia and chattered about random things for a while. Though he had been warned to be on his guard before Milgazia had no choice but to allow him to leave his group and journey to the fire clan, Phythan had not properly heeded the warning. None the less, he knew that Milgazia wasn't in on the trap that befell him and still looked up to him very much.
After Phythan ran off to try to get some barbecued fish before Lina ate it all, Milgazia resumed his previous activity of staring suspiciously at a certain peculiar item. Memphis had thought that Milgazia was done looking in that direction when his gaze settled politely on Phythan's face while the two talked, but after the younger golden dragon was gone, Milgazia's eyes went back there. Honestly, it was getting on Memphis' nerves and she thought it was about time she said something about it. She downed another glass of wine, her cheeks rosy from the alcohol and spoke in an accusing tone. "I'm sure she's already noticed you're staring and is plotting terrible ways to murder you."
Finally, Milgazia looked away from the black cone shaped jewel on Zelas' necklace. The gem reeked of monster energy, specifically Xellos' energy. The only reason why he recognized it beyond Zelas' own power was because he was looking for anything suspicious and kept his senses on high alert, especially towards the cunning Beast Master. "I know, I'm being too obvious," the golden dragon admitted. "If only I could get my hands on-"
"Uncle!" Memphis scolded, stomping her foot for emphasis. The rosy color of her face seemed to increase and Milgazia wondered if it was really all due to the wine or if there was another reason, such as rage. "For crying out loud, I thought you were a gentleman. I thought you had a lot more decency in you than this!"
It was true that jewelry theft wasn't exactly a commendable action, but given the circumstances it might be for the best, not that it would work anyway. "It's not like I'll actually try anything," Milgazia tried to defend himself, though he wasn't sure why he had to. "I know very well that Zelas could kill me ten times over before I even come close."
Memphis clenched her teeth angrily. "If she did kill you, which I'm sure she would, I wouldn't blame her, given the circumstances."
Milgazia didn't understand why his apprentice was being so harsh. "You can hardly blame me for thinking about it, for wishing I could." If he somehow managed to destroy that jewel, then maybe Xellos would never get his power back. His race would be avenged in a way and Filia wouldn't even need to be saddened by the loss of her husband. She could keep living with Xellos as a human.
"Why?" Memphis huffed. "Because you're a man?"
Milgazia blinked in confusion. When did gender come into the discussion? Furthermore, robbery wasn't a male exclusive activity and there were plenty of female thieves in the world to prove it. "Because I'm a golden dragon."
"So now all golden dragons are perverts?" Memphis huffed, crossing her arms indignantly.
"How is stealing a necklace perverted?" Milgazia inquired in puzzlement. "It's true that stealing is wrong and I'm not crazy enough to think I can actually get away with stealing from Zelas. I would understand if you called it insane or suicidal, but perverted?"
"Her necklace?" Memphis giggled, showing that the wine had indeed gone to her head. "So that's what you were staring at!" She laughed at her own silliness. "For a minute there I thought you were staring at her chest."
Milgazia's jaw dropped, his eyes wide, "are you crazy?" He exclaimed louder than necessary, then laughed nervously when several pairs of eyes landed on him. He pretended not to notice the odd looks that silently turned his own question on him. His face was slightly red, though it wasn't only embarrassment, a clear hint of offended rage could be perceived. He made a mental note not to allow Memphis to drink anymore. She was his apprentice, so he could say it was part of her training.
Memphis giggled and waved her hand dismissively. "Don't be angry, it was just an honest mistake. I mean come on, it was even technically true. I mean that jewel is right on her cleavage. I bet the guests think you're a pervert."
"I was not paying attention to that," Milgazia almost growled.
"I know, I know, you were thinking 'vengeance on Xellos' I'm just saying people might have gotten the wrong idea. If not because I stopped you, they would still be getting the wrong idea," Memphis reasoned.
Milgazia grumbled something inaudible as he ran his fingers through his golden blond hair. Admittedly, Memphis had a point; Milgazia just hoped that if he avoided looking at Zelas at all for the rest of the evening, people would assume the whole staring business was entirely in their imagination. He was sure that if someone brought it up, he would either pass out of extreme embarrassment, or go on a berserk rampage worse than Filia's in offended rage.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Gather around everyone, it's time to throw more things!" Tiffany cheerfully announced. Immediately, Dolphin and Dynast got their spiky metal balls and bombs ready to throw them. Seeing the impending doom, Tiffany clarified, "no, no, the guests' chance to throw things has passed, now only the bride and groom get to throw things." Before the monsters began to protest, Tiffany was quick to signal to Filia to come over, with a very drunk Xellos on her arm. "You better throw the flowers quickly, before the monsters get impatient and start throwing things that hit a whole lot harder than flowers."
"Okay," Filia tried to make Xellos stand still for a moment while she threw the bouquet of black and purple roses. He seemed to be more or less sufficiently balanced not to fall down, so she let him go and looked away for a moment as she threw the flowers over her shoulder.
The unmarried women had been gathered around to try to catch the flowers, or in the case of most monsters, excluding Galathia, to try to avoid catching the flowers. Lina was too busy pigging out along with Gourry, so she did not join them. The bouquet flew over the group of women, escaping the grasp of all the willing females who jumped in a futile effort to catch it. It sailed through the air above the main gathering of women towards the back where Zelas and Dolphin were, uninterested in trying to catch the roses. It would be an embarrassment for either of them really.
Seeing the approaching flowers, with fast reflexes, Dolphin pushed Zelas towards their path, but Zelas ducked, the bouquet safely passing over her and colliding with Celo's head, who was sitting at a table minding his own business behind the group on the deck. "I thought everyone was done throwing things at me!" Celo exclaimed with a frown. "Besides, I'm already married."
"Throw it to someone else!" Naga called out from among the group.
"Here goes," Celo threw the bouquet of black and purple roses into the air.
Wishing for revenge, Zelas pushed Dolphin in its path, holding her in place by the shoulders. Unwilling to give up and suffer the humiliation of catching the bouquet, Dolphin batted it away by swinging her long hair at it. The flowers bounced away, gaining altitude. "You touched the bouquet!" Zelas mocked, finally releasing Dolphin, to occupy her hands in pointing mockingly.
"That doesn't count, I didn't catch it!" Dolphin adamantly argued.
Simultaneously, the flowers were pulled down by gravity, falling at the midst of the group of women who actually wanted to catch the bouquet. A cloud of dirt mysteriously formed out of nowhere as they fought for it, even though the deck had no visible dirt before, just some water, seaweed and sea creatures. Amelia crawled out of the fight, victoriously holding up the bouquet, "I got it!" The rest of the women had no choice but to admit defeat and clap half heartedly, with only Amelia's friends actually clapping for real.
While everyone was still busy, congratulating Amelia and contemplating where the cloud of dirt that covered the battle for the bouquet had come from, Tiffany pulled Filia aside for a moment. "Did you remember to wear a nice garter?"
"I forgot," Filia confessed. She always had a garter to use as a holster for her mace and on the one day she needed it for other purposes she forgot to wear it. Well she wasn't carrying her mace, not with that dress, so she completely forgot about the garter.
"I thought you might have forgotten with how busy things are." Tiffany signaled over to Sylphiel, who was holding a box. "I made sure one was prepared, now all you have to do is put it on so Xellos can take it off and throw it."
It felt silly to put it on just so it could be removed seconds later, but Filia played along with it and put on the purple garter with amethysts. It was pretty and comfortable. It certainly made a good mace holster, so it was a pity she would soon lose it. "Is that a mini-mace in the box?"
"Yes, I thought it would be fitting," Tiffany smiled.
"Here you go," Sylphiel handed Filia the mini-mace with a smile. She didn't catch the bouquet, but she was still having fun.
Filia put the tiny mace on the purple garter. The little mace was black with a pretty purple ribbon tied around it. "Ready Xellos?" She glanced at the spot where she had left Xellos, but found that he was no longer there. "Xellos?" Whipping her head around urgently, Filia finally spotted her husband dancing on a table, previously occupied by Celo, Dynast and Fang, not too far away. Filia's face turned scarlet in embarrassment as she marched over to get him down.
"I thought for sure he would be affected by all this," Filia heard Dynast comment as she approached. "A lot of the humans are sea sick, or drunk or both; except the more gluttonous ones that can only think of eating the barbecued seafood."
"General Xellos is quite strong, even as a human," Celo proudly declared. "That's why the situation isn't affecting him at all."
Upon hearing those words, Filia couldn't help it but to exclaim, "that is unaffected?"
"Of course," Celo smiled with confident admiration. "Albeit Xellos must play his role of snobbish spoiled brat in the human business parties where the Metalliums are invited, this is not one of those events. In this party Xellos can do what he always does in Zelas' personal parties, dance on top of the largest guillotine in a perfect imitation of a terribly intoxicated human, or dance on a table for lack of guillotine."
Filia had a feeling that she did not want to know what Zelas' monster parties were like, nor did she have any desire to ever be invited to one. "I see..." a part of Filia wondered if Celo was kidding, but the part of her that was afraid to find out he wasn't prevented her from asking. Without further ado, Filia pulled Xellos off the table and dragged him away. "Listen, Xellos, you need to throw the garter, can you manage that?"
Xellos smiled like the intoxicated idiot he currently was, his face slightly red from the effects of the alcohol. "Yer pretty," he winked. "I like yuu," he laughed.
Filia sighed, "right, just take off the garter slowly and throw it."
While Filia was trying to make the drunk Xellos understand the process, Tiffany made the unmarried men gather around. "Let go of me, both of you!" Dynast demanded as Zelas and Dolphin dragged him towards the group, each one holding on to one of his arms, and held him still.
"A beautiful woman on each arm, man is that guy ever lucky." Huey grumbled from among the crowd of single men. Thankfully, the monster lords were not paying attention to him, or those might have been the last words of his life.
When Xellos finally threw the garter, it looked like it was heading right towards Dynast, whom his fellow monster lords conveniently positioned in its path. In a desperate attempt to escape humiliation, Dynast shot a beam of power from his mouth, which disintegrated the pretty purple garter to dust.
"Ew, you shot energy from your mouth like a dragon." Dolphin let go of Dynast's arm, brushing imaginary dirt off her hands, the motion being mimicked by Zelas.
"Who are you calling a dragon, you almost caught the bouquet!" Dynast retorted.
With a very mocking grin, Zelas began to sing, "Dolphin and Dynast sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
That was it, Dolphin and Dynast saw red, "kill her!" They unanimously growled and began to comically chase Zelas all around the deck. Perhaps the drinks were enchanted with that secret spell that could make even an astral being drunk. The monster lords shoved and pushed people out of the way as they went and sometimes overboard if they were particularly unlucky.
"That didn't go exactly as planned," Filia contemplated.
"Should I throw the pretty wand?" Xellos slurred, referring to the miniature mace.
"This might hurt someone," Filia refused, though to Xellos it sounded like an agreement and even more so like encouragement.
"Yay!" Xellos snatched away the mini-mace and threw it before Filia could stop him.
The tiny mace flew over the group of men, escaping their grasp as they jumped to catch it and headed straight towards Celo's head. Enough was enough and Celo's poor head had been abused more than enough already. He ducked quickly, avoiding another hit to the head. Instead the little mace continued its course through the air and landed on Gourry's plate, turning his barbecued fish with a side of roasted potatoes into barbecued fish with a side of mashed potatoes. "A little mace?" Gourry picked up the mace off his food and was met with applause, albeit he had no idea what it was for.
xoxox xox xoxox
After a while, Zelas managed to slip away from her pursuers and continued playing hostess. "The special treats should be ready right about now," she informed as she approached Tiffany. "It's lucky that I started preparing them when I did, or else the recipes wouldn't have been finished on time."
The mention of special treats, albeit it took place several feet away, did not escape Lina. "What treats?" The gluttonous redhead yelled from across the deck. If it was some kind of time consuming, ultra rare recipe, then it had to be worth looking into and biting into.
"Something delicious," Beast Master grinned. "And don't worry, unlike Xellos who only thinks he knows how to cook, I actually know how to cook. Tiffany, would you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen."
A cold chill ran down Tiffany's spine. She felt that there was some kind of catch she was missing, but knew better than to refuse Beast Master's order, even if it was masked as a simple request. "Sure, no problem."
"I'll help too!" Lina immediately offered.
"Me too!" Gourry volunteered as well. Yet before Gourry and Lina could make their way over to Zelas, the monster lord had already faded into the astral side, taking Tiffany with her.
Time passed as Lina and Gourry impatiently waited to see, and most of all to taste, the treats that Zelas promised. Insecurity invaded Lina as she wondered if Zelas was only getting their hopes up for nothing. She was a monster lord, so she could be that cruel. Yet the worries evaporated when Zelas returned to the deck. Tiffany faded into existence along with her and several food carts loaded with trays and dishes that smelled amazing.
Needless to say, Lina and Gourry immediately attacked the food. "This is awesome!" Lina complimented between big bites, not caring that she was talking with her mouth full.
"Yummy! Super yummy!" Gourry eloquently added.
"I think you're my favorite monster lord." With the proper reward Lina had been driven to forgive and forget the frightening incident involving an angry Luna false alarm.
"It's a pity that you can't return the favor and feed me something delicious right now." Zelas referred to the joy that was eradiating from the gluttonous pair. "But I'm sure your golden dragon friends will make up for that." She hinted ominously.
Amelia and Zelgadis curiously approached, beckoned by the appetizing scents. Zelgadis was especially glad that there was something other than seafood available to eat. He didn't mind seafood, but it wasn't exactly his favorite. Without reading too deeply into Zelas' words, the new arrivals managed to snatch away some plates from the food carts without losing any limbs to Lina and Gourry. "This is amazing!" Amelia exclaimed in admiration. She never would have guessed a monster lord could actually cook something so absolutely delicious.
"I have to admit, it's the best I've tasted," Zelgadis was also nothing short of shocked.
"I'm sure," Zelas grinned. "Do enjoy the meal, the monster guests could use some toughening up, so a little joy won't be too harmful. Plus we have the golden dragons to balance things out if they get out of hand." Zelas picked up a tray of appetizers, consisting of some kind of sauce covered meat on cute little toothpicks, and walked away.
"What is this meat anyway?" Amelia curiously inquired. "It's richer than the meat of a bird, but it doesn't taste like any cattle meat I've tried before."
"Chicken," Tiffany replied with a continuous little twitch in her eye.
"Really?" Amelia looked at the dishes in disbelief. That sauce on the meat must be really super special if it so drastically changed the taste of chicken.
"How can a steak this size come from a chicken?" Zelgadis questioned. "It has to have come from something a whole lot bigger."
"It's chicken!" Tiffany shouted, stomping her foot in emphasis and glaring aggressively. She breathed heavily, her eyes still twitching. "It's chicken, that's what it is, it's all chicken, okay?"
Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis nodded in unison. They didn't understand why Tiffany was so upset, but they did not want to further provoke a dragon. Thus they agreed that the meat was chicken, though it was obviously not.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelas approached Milgazia and Memphis, who were quietly keeping an eye on all the happenings around them. Memphis had stopped drinking at Milgazia's insistence, though the effects of her drunkenness were not gone yet. Milgazia saw Zelas heading over to them. He hoped and wished with all his might that Memphis wouldn't say anything embarrassing. He drained his glass of wine, which was probably not the smartest thing to do, but unlike his elf comrade, he was a dragon and had a much stronger resistance towards alcohol. He just needed some moisture in his throat in hopes that it would get him ready for a diplomatic conversation. Or at least as diplomatic as he could be with someone he particularly disliked, but knew he had to put up with anyway.
Zelas smiled as if she was actually happy to see them. If she was, that could only be a bad sign. "Are you enjoying the party?"
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 105: Tension! Diplomatic Discussions
Zelas had merrily approached Milgazia and Memphis, with a tray full of appetizers, seeking to make friendly conversation. That, of course, meant that the monster lord intended to make them miserable.
"Uncle Milgazia won't let me drink," Memphis frowned. Milgazia wished that he had never suggested that first cup of wine to help Memphis relax, which should have been the first and only, but turned into many more.
"How terrible! Zelas pretended to feel the deepest compassion for Memphis' dilemma. "This is my party; Milgazia doesn't own the drinks here, so he can't tell you not to consume them. Go ahead and drink to your heart's content!"
Memphis' face lit up, only for her expression to fall seconds later when Milgazia reminded. "Memphis needs to focus on her training."
"Don't work too hard now," Zelas offered them the tray of appetizers. "Have some, I made these myself."
"No, thank you," Milgazia politely declined. Everyone else was eating and drinking, so the food seemed to be safe enough, but eating something directly offered by Beast Master was a whole different story.
"I insist," Zelas glared defiantly. "You don't think I'm trying to poison you, do you? That would be such an anti-climatic death. I assure you, these appetizers are perfectly safe. Besides, if I wanted to kill you, I would have done so already."
Admittedly, Zelas had a point, which Milgazia begrudgingly realized as he took one of the appetizers and ate it. The sauce really gave the rich meat a nice touch. He hated to admit it, but the food was exquisite and the satisfaction the delicate yet pronounced taste produce was revealed in his expression. Milgazia mentally kicked himself for that; he was supposed to be keeping a serious diplomatic face with this infuriating monster lord.
Memphis tasted the appetizers as well, happily receiving the tray that Zelas handed her and consuming them one after another.
"Do you like them?" Zelas asked with growing amusement.
"This is great!" Memphis happily exclaimed.
Milgazia mentally kicked himself for it, but he took another appetizer and ate it, they were simply too good. He wanted to look unimpressed, but not to compliment such a delicious delicacy felt like a terrible crime. "This is quite good," he swallowed his pride and confessed it.
Zelas' mocking grin grew even more, if that was even possible. "I'm only all too happy that you're enjoying my cooking. Eat as much as you like. In fact, I might want to have you for dinner some time."
Milgazia disregarded the so called invitation as sarcasm, but Memphis paused in her eating and gave Zelas a suspicious look. "Did you just ask Milgazia out on a date?"
"Memphis!" Milgazia scolded. The look in his eyes screamed 'are you trying to get us killed?'
"Do not misunderstand," Zelas clarified with a serious look. "I do think Milgazia looks delicious," she paused to lick her lips for the sake of creeping out Milgazia. The golden dragon shuddered visibly, proving that the gesture did indeed creep him out. "But I only mean that in a purely culinary way. Unlike Galathia, I don't enjoy golden dragon fan service, or any fan service, unless you count gore as being fan service. Though lust is indeed a sin, some of us prefer pride."
Memphis nodded, lost somewhere along the explanation. She understood that it wasn't a request for a date and left it at that. Milgazia however, did have something to say, "culinary?" He questioned, wondering if he even wanted to know. He automatically took another appetizer and ate it to calm the tense anger and creeped out frustration that was threatening to blow up like a time bomb.
"Yes," Zelas nodded in ambiguous confirmation. "By the way, my condolences on those golden dragons that disappeared some time ago."
"You were responsible for that?" Milgazia frowned, he was so very angry, but kept his temper in check for the sake of diplomacy and most of all survival.
Not directly addressing the question, Zelas continued. "I'm sure your comrades are with you in a sense and they will continue to be with you... at least until you're done digesting."
"Digesting?" Milgazia felt his heart almost stop. He looked at the last appetizer on the tray, which was soon consumed by Memphis. His brain came to a conclusion that he didn't like at all. "Was that dragon cuisine?"
"Indeed, it was golden dragon cuisine of the best quality, prepared with a special sauce consisting of a secret recipe made by me." Zelas smiled, savoring the moment along with the mix of unpleasant emotions eradiating from Milgazia. He really was delicious, in a purely culinary sense of course.
Milgazia's face went from ghostly pale to slightly green. He muttered a desperate sounding, "excuse me" and ran off to the side of the ship with his hand over his mouth.
"Aw, isn't that sweet?" Zelas chirped with endless amusement. "Milgazia is giving his friends a burial at sea."
Memphis, who was drunk, but not drunk enough to miss the basics of what was going on, was left twitching as she held the empty tray where the golden dragon cuisine appetizers once were.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few agonizingly nauseating minutes later, Milgazia was leaning on the cruise' railing, staring at the waves below. He allowed the sea breeze and the gentle rocking of the ship to calm him or at least tried to. The combination of soft motions, salty air and the scent of sea food and alcohol might have made many sick, but Milgazia preferred all that over the scent of dragon cuisine. He was ashamed to recall he thought it was appetizing and he hated the fact that the taste of the delicacy was still in his mouth. He didn't care if he drank enough to get drunk despite being a dragon, he needed a strong drink. He wouldn't mind if it was strong enough to burn his tongue and throat. He would do anything to get rid of the alluring taste of cannibalism.
Milgazia bitterly reminded himself that picking a fight with Zelas was suicide and when that knowledge was no longer enough, he reminded himself that he would not be the only one to suffer the consequences of his actions. Whatever he said or did there, would surely reflect on the entire golden dragon race and their allies. He concluded that his best course of action to keep a shred of sanity was to pretend he did not eat what could have been, and most likely had been, a friend of his. 'The appetizers were made of chicken. It was all chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken...' He mentally chanted.
"Hi," Milgazia's mental chicken chant was interrupted by Filia's friendly voice. She approached with a drunken Xellos on her arm, raising her voice to be heard above his ridiculous singing, which Milgazia had previously filtered out.
Milgazia was about to reply to the greeting as politely as possible despite his bad mood, but pause when he noticed a certain detail. Both Xellos and Filia were holding sticks with pieces of meat on them. Xellos was singing into his, as if it was one of those enchanted wands that amplified sound waves. After an annoyingly high note, he took a bite of the snack while Filia did the same to occupy herself during the awkward silence that settled in while she waited for Milgazia to reply to her simple greeting. Without a warning, Milgazia snatched away the meat on a stick, gave the snacks a sad look and threw them to the sea.
"I was eating that, you big meanie head!" Xellos complained.
Filia pouted and placed one hand on her hip, her other arm busy keeping Xellos next to her so that he wouldn't wander off to do something stupid that would embarrass her a lot more than him. "That was mean," she disapproved in a much more clear and much less slurred version of Xellos' recent accusation.
"That was my friend," Milgazia frowned, receiving a puzzled look from Filia. Xellos continued his stupid singing about how life was horrible and injustice always won, with a tone that was as cheerful, if not more cheerful, than the tone Amelia had during her wonderful life and justice speeches and songs. Seeing that Filia didn't quite understand, Milgazia elaborated. "That meat was dragon cuisine, golden dragon to be specific, and Zelas hinted who those dragons used to be."
Filia felt as if the deck below her feet had been taken away, like a carpet being pulled from under her feet without warning. She suddenly found herself feeling less balanced than Xellos and held on to the railing for support. "I just ate golden dragon meat?" She stuttered in disbelief. "I'm a cannibal!"
"It was only an accident, you didn't know," Milgazia tried to console his fellow accidental cannibal. "Besides, I had some too before I knew what that meat was. Why don't we just pretend it was chicken."
Filia nodded, her eyes still reflecting horror, "yes, chicken, it was chicken."
Filia froze up, her cheeks flushing slightly when Xellos randomly stopped singing and started nibbling on her neck. "Yuu taste like chicken," he licked.
"Stop it, I'm not edible!" Filia scolded.
"Yer too pretty to eat, but still tasty," Xellos giggled like an idiot and tried to lick Filia again.
"Excuse me; I need to go make some black coffee for Xellos... and for myself." With that plan in mind, Filia gave Milgazia her farewell for the time being and went off to find some caffeine in hopes of helping Xellos fight his drunken stupor and burning the taste of dragon off her tongue. Tea would be far too gentle for those purposes. Honestly, having Xellos get seasick was better than this in her opinion.
After Filia was gone, Zelas approached along with Memphis. The elf woman looked very drunk, but Milgazia wouldn't hold it against her. He would love to drink himself stupid right now to get over his cannibalistic guilt, yet he knew he couldn't. He had to stay sober enough to make sure Zelas' wrath was not provoked, or else the losses among his kind would be far greater. "If you're quite done polluting the sea with the remains of your partially digested comrades, I would like to speak to you about some serious matters where eavesdroppers cannot hear. Let us call it a diplomatic discussion."
Milgazia couldn't help it but to glare in what many dragons would call a very suicidal action. Thankfully, he kept his laser breath under control and did not shoot a beam of power at Zelas' face outside of his imagination. "Right, diplomacy..." Thus Milgazia, Memphis and Zelas headed off to a private cabin below deck.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelas, Milgazia and Memphis entered a fancy looking cabin with shiny polished wood floors and soft blue walls. Unlike the deck that was disheveled due to the effects of the earlier tidal waves, the area below the deck was free of sea water and sea creatures. The furniture had been previously tossed around in a disastrous mess, but Zelas had the place organized prior to calling forth the diplomatic meeting. The cabin had a circular table in the middle with elegantly carved brown wood chairs round about with sandy colored cushions.
The three so called diplomats took their seats; with Memphis stumbling slightly until she managed to properly sit down. The elf was sitting next to her golden dragon trainer; with Milgazia sitting across the monster lord he dreaded the most. He would have not been happy had he heard Lina calling Zelas her favorite monster lord. Zelas broke the ice with a direct statement. "I understand that you are aware of the truth?"
"Yes," Milgazia ascertained. He was actually thankful he still had a clear head at this point, because he felt that he was going to need it. After the diplomatic meeting was over, then he would drink all the liquor left on the ship.
"Elaborate," Zelas prompted. "What is your interpretation?"
"Life is fueled by chaos," Milgazia stated, the words leaving a metaphorically bitter taste in his mouth, which he wouldn't have minded as literal since his tongue still tasted like golden dragon meat. "Absolute peace would make people get stuck, so to speak. In other words, life is actually linked more closely to chaos than to peace, with chaos and destruction being two entirely different concepts."
"I see, you're clueless, it figures, dragons are stupid." Zelas impatiently interrupted, earning an annoyed look from Milgazia. "For many years the concepts of good and evil have been seen as the ultimate opposing forces. Peace and war, life and death were sub-concepts that originated from those, but good and evil are not the two main opposing forces in the universe. The truth, albeit difficult to understand in its entirety, is related to motion and stillness. The struggle between opposing forces creates motion and the lack of an opposing force, regardless of which one reigns, is stillness. If the world was to become completely still, it would cease to exist. Take those two concepts and apply them to that legend about the purification of the Mother of all Things."
"The legend..." Milgazia remembered it. "It claims that long ago only the Mother of all Things existed in the Sea of Chaos. She wished to become pure and expelled a part of herself that was impure. Along with it, the worlds emerged from her. The legend claims that the worlds are a part of the Mother of all Things, tainted with the piece that she separated from herself. Thus the world has both good and bad people. But that legend... it bases itself on the concepts of good and evil as the main part of its logic. With motion and stillness it would be that the Mother of all Things separated herself from stillness?"
"Exactly, there was something that made her, let's call her Lord of Nightmares, as I'm sure we're both aware that they are truly the same being." Zelas decided, Milgazia nodded and she continued. "There was something that made the Lord of Nightmares still, constant. Who knows what happened, maybe she got bored and decided to get rid of that stillness so that she could change and evolve. From the force of that evolution, from the energy of change, the worlds came into existence. As for the Sea of Chaos, it is the final destination of all. It is chaos because we are creatures of chaos. Even the monsters who seemingly remain the same for centuries, know many changes every day, with each choice we take seeking power, seeking change. Of course, you can't go around telling people that there are other concepts above good and evil and expect them to take it well. I get the impression that the golden dragons are not generally informed, which makes me wonder why you know."
"There have been prophecies about this among the golden dragons, but they were ambiguous and were misinterpreted. As a result, the golden dragon race wishes to help the being known as the Green Alchemist," Milgazia revealed. He knew he was saying a lot, but given the consequences that such mistaken actions could have, it was necessary to reveal the full extent of his current knowledge on the subject. "The golden dragons are trying to help people live through the crisis that assaults the planet. The Green Alchemist wishes to exterminate monsters and the dragons want to use that advantage, to later take out both sides when they're weak."
"The Green Alchemist also wants to destroy the dragon race," Zelas pointed out. It all fits when you think about it. If the monsters and the dragons were gone, the rest of the living creatures of the world would be easy to get rid of, if the famine and harsh environmental changes don't cause them to go into extinction even before the monsters and the dragons. That Green Alchemist, the one who pretends to be Gaia, that entity is part of that stillness that the Lord of Nightmares threw away. It was fused with the remains of the one originally known as the Green Alchemist, its intentions twisted, but still present."
"That means the mission of the monster race was misinterpreted. What they really do is keep up the battles, keep the world in motion," Milgazia mused.
"I can say the same for you, but perhaps that mission had to be interpreted that way for monsters to fight with all their strength and force dragons, humans, elves, beastmen and all other creatures to find ways to live through it. It is like the phenomenon of the barrier in comparison to the outside world. The land within the barrier is richer and more powerful than the relatively peaceful outer world. Of course, the barrier is gone now, but the advantage is obvious." Zelas observed, once again addressing her previously stated curiosity. "What was it that made you interpret the prophecies differently from the other dragons?"
"Dreams," Milgazia admitted. "I've been having recurring dreams that I only recently managed to even begin piecing together. So far it seems to fit with what you said." The guilt of an unwilling cannibal had been forgotten, as Milgazia went to full on diplomat mode. "May I inquire about the source of your knowledge on the subject?"
"The Lord of Nightmares," Zelas proudly replied. Milgazia's look of surprised disbelief obviously requested more information. "It was a dream too, but I'm certain it came from the Lord of Nightmares. I have many spies and information gatherers, who erase the information after it has been properly recorded. It is really not surprising that I would figure this out before you, given my vast resources. This being, the stillness, long lost legends refer to it as the Lord of Lamentation, the Void, the End and many other such names. Just as the Lord of Nightmares is also referred to in certain legends as the Lord of Dreams and the Lord of Chaos, additionally to the Mother of All Things."
"Both a dragon and a monster had the dreams, interesting." Milgazia mused aloud, searching for a hint of a reaction.
Zelas ignored the comment and continued. "According to my research, the Stillness has been around since the beginning of the worlds, as stated by the recently discussed legend. The Lord of Nightmares has existed in a semi-dormant state with a projection that in rare occasions interacted with the worlds, while the rest of her consciousness remained dreaming. That dormant state generated a sort of protective shield around the worlds and the Stillness, or a portion of it, was unable to pass. When Lina Inverse used the power of the Lord of Nightmares against Fibrizo, the Lord of Nightmares was awakened long enough for the Stillness to enter our world. It fused with the remains of the Green Alchemist and stayed hidden underground, building up power."
"It sounds as if the Lord of Nightmares is telling us that the Stillness," Lamentation, Void or End as it was also called, "is the enemy. That we should do something about it," Milgazia went on, a little more directly.
"Agreed, however, I have no intentions of joining forces," Zelas emphasized. "I'm only sharing this information for you to become my researcher. This hint might lead you to discovering something. You don't need to tell me, I will find out." She grinned confidently with a cunning look in her eyes.
Milgazia looked displeased, "your spies are everywhere, aren't they? May I inquire about Xellos?"
"You may not," Zelas firmly voiced.
Milgazia asked anyway, "his human state was no accident. You're preparing him for something. What is it?"
Zelas' features evolved from a nasty glare to a squinty eyed grin similar to Xellos', which hinted that the serious discussion was over and there would be no more free information. "If you ask unnecessary questions you will only receive unnecessary answers."
"Perhaps this is related to how monsters are purely astral beings," Milgazia theorized. "Will Xellos be needing a physical body for some reason?"
Zelas clapped her hands together, her overly cheerful look still in place. "For his honeymoon, obviously, it might make things more interesting. Although I'm pretty sure he's gotten plenty of practice already, I suppose there are subjects that always merit additional study."
Milgazia soon found himself regretting his insistence. Zelas' warning had been true, that was a very unnecessary answer. "Never mind, I take it this means that the diplomatic discussions are over."
"Exactly, so you can go back to the party and enjoy a lovely night of cannibalism." Zelas grinned cheerfully, then faded away into the astral side.
Milgazia glared at the empty air where Zelas had been, grumbling something about insufferable monster lords, before waking Memphis. The elf had rested her head on her arms on the table early on the discussion and fallen asleep, missing the majority of the diplomatic debate. At least she didn't say anything embarrassing and that much Milgazia could be thankful for.
To be Continued