"A girl who has justice on her side..." Amelia's voice was carried all over the deck of the party cruise, with the use of a cute little wand that amplified sound waves.
Blocking out the annoying song, Zelas looked at Celo as if silently telling him to follow her. He did, swiftly excusing himself politely from his previous conversation, and following his master below deck. Once they were away from prying eyes and ears, Zelas voiced a simple, yet meaningful request, "report."
Celo's relaxed expression turned serious as he went over the most important aspects that he had to inform. "The research team has reported that there were indeed magical traces in the area where Onyx recovered her elf form. Thankfully, the underground structures were magically enforced so, despite suffering considerable damage due to the recent earthquake, the cave-ins were not sufficient to halt the studies. It seems there was something sealed in her, possibly the reason why her power was so great when she was initially an elf. A seal was placed on her that turned her human and locked that something even deeper, unable to manifest its power."
Celo continued, "the thing sealed in her must have been very powerful to leave such a clear energy signature behind in the astral space near that area. The theory about the power being drained to make Onyx recover her elf form was mistaken. She recovered because the seal that made her human was broken, not only that, but also the seal that held that power inside her was also broken. We have concluded that the spell that the Lord of Nightmares placed in her was actually magic to weaken those seals. When Onyx found herself close to death, the reaction sped up the process of breaking the seals. She is a normal elf now; the thing that was previously sealed in her since birth is gone."
"That thing is..." Zelas questioned, pointing out with her inquiring expression that she did not like the fact that the vital piece of information was still missing.
"My apologies, lord Beast Master," Celo lowered his head apologetically. "We do not know what it was, though it was similar yet opposite to the energy of the Lord of Nightmares, perhaps related to the Stillness, possibly the Void."
"Ah yes, the prophecy written by that dragon," Zelas recalled. A dragon had been on a journey some distance away from Milgazia's main group. That dragon was being tracked by monsters without his knowledge. He received a vision that he wrote on a scroll, but that scroll was never seen by the other dragons. Its author soon became a victim to the monsters and later the main ingredient of Zelas' delectable dragon cuisine. "The prophecy theorized that the Lord of Lamentation, the Void and the End aside from being alternate names for the Stillness that the Lord of Nightmares rejected, are also the names of the three pieces that the Stillness was broken into. The dragon saw them as entities similar to Darkstar, which was a mistaken interpretation. I'm under the impression that the one that is known as the Green Alchemist is the Lord of Lamentation. That being uses trickery manipulating people and their weaknesses, their lamentations."
"Yes," Celo agreed with the theory. "If Onyx's emotionally toned down personality, where she only reacts to extreme situations or particular subjects, is any indication, she was being affected by what was sealed in her, the Void. If our theories are correct, Lamentation is representative of mourning, as opposed to determination. It is to accept things as they come without putting up a fight; it is inaction, a true part of Stillness, the physical part of not doing anything."
"Most likely," Zelas agreed. "The Void would then be the mental part of Stillness, it is the second phase. After action is not taken, the next step of still indifference would be to stop thinking about things. If Lamentation weakens the body with famines and physical harm, then the Void would weaken the mind with apathy and indifference. The last part is the End, the reaper, when the body takes no action and the mind has no thoughts, there is nothing, that being has ceased to exist. Humans are fragile, but if the lowly creatures become extinct, it will be us monsters who will suffer the famine next and become trapped in the same cycle that extinguished human life. I have already decided that I stand for chaos. This world will suffer at my hand for all eternity if it's up to me. I cannot grant it the mercy of dying to become something else, very much less let it die forever."
Celo chuckled with infinite pride and admiration for his master's determination. "Talk about being cruel to be kind."
Zelas laughed at the irony of opposing concepts and how they needed each other to exist. "Without a little bit of kindness, no one would be able to appreciate cruelty. The more comfortable a life style is, the more tragic it would be to break it and the more delicious. Perhaps the Lord of Nightmares isn't simply telling us to stop this, maybe she's asking, are you worthy of existing? Can you defeat what I defeated within myself?"
"The answer should be obvious," Celo smiled with admiration. "The great Beast Master shall be victorious."
With a very wolf like expression, Zelas assured, "at any cost. Be sure to stay alert for the manifestation of the Void, it has been released and will probably not remain quiet for long."
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, on top of the cruise's deck, a pure white dove landed on the railing next to Milgazia and Memphis. The bird was not a monster, as convenient as monster birds could be as couriers; golden dragons preferred not to resort to such tactics and just used normal messenger birds. Milgazia examined the message carried by the dove with growing dread that not even the gallons of alcohol that he had recently consumed could alleviate.
"The lands previously affected by the famine have slowly become unresponsive to recovery treatments." Milgazia grimly informed Memphis, who seemed rather out of it still. "Furthermore, there are other lands that are being affected by famines and the supplies of the golden dragons are running out as well as the supplies from the countries that were trying to help. People are losing hope..."
"Hmm..." Memphis looked at Milgazia, her eyes almost focused, almost. Then she looked back at the sea and let out a tired dazed breath with no further reaction to a situation that would certainly produce a much stronger reaction had she been in her full senses. She would be pissed off the next morning when she had a killer hangover, though she might at least find consolation in thinking that the event involving the dragon cuisine was all a bad dream.
Milgazia knew that the plan the golden dragons had come up with would fail. He couldn't simply say that this was a common enemy of the monsters and dragons and suggest joining forces. Zelas didn't want to join forces and though Milgazia could see the bigger picture beyond all prideful stubbornness, he wasn't fond of the idea either. Besides, he had only spoken about the truth with Zelas, not the other monster lords, whom he suspected were in the dark. Suddenly, their presence at the party made a little more sense.
Dynast and Dolphin were unsure about what was going on and wanted information from Zelas. That's why they were behaving in her party; information was what fueled their truce. Zelas would probably give them a believable lie to get them out of the way. It would be another story of a deranged human turned chimera, who tapped into more power than he could handle and tried to take over the world. They would probably believe it too; it seemed essentially less controversial then the truth.
xoxox xox xoxox
"It's time to cut the cake!" Tiffany happily announced as several very large chocolate cakes were brought over from the astral side.
"Cake!" Lina and Gourry blissfully exclaimed in a happy chorus of gluttony. They were first in line, hoping to each claim a cake to themselves.
While most of the guests were distracted by the sight of the delicious cakes, Naga got a hold of the magically enhanced sound amplifying wand. Martina and Sirene stood left and right of her as the three took in deep breaths and let their laughter of doom echo. The guests, even the monsters, dropped to the floor of the deck holding their hands over their ears in agony. Coincidentally, another earthquake took place, rocking the ship violently. Most actually didn't mind, since it made the horrible laughter stop, causing several people to contemplate that drowning was probably much more pleasant than listening to that infernal laughter again triple and amplified.
The cruise was assaulted by another onslaught of continuous tidal waves, which this time succeeded in making the large luxurious vessel capsize. Screams of panic echoed from the non-monsters as the monsters took refuge by retreating to the astral side. Thankfully, there were enough skilled magic users around to cast a sufficient force of levitation spells to get everyone to safety. Unfortunately, the cakes, which had already been ruined by the tidal waves, were lost at sea.
"The cakes!" Lina Inverse agonized as she joined the survivors on the shore of the disaster zone that was Amor Resort. "Everything was going so well, we had such a wonderful meal. A delicious meal of the most amazing steaks I've ever tasted deserves the perfect dessert!"
"Steaks?" Filia questioned, her face twisting in anger. "You ate that meat too?"
"Yup, we all did," Gourry happily and truthfully replied, not knowing what he was getting into. "Zelas is an amazing cook!"
"That was dragon cuisine!" Filia shouted in angry indignation.
"Cuisine from your home land?" Amelia innocently inquired, hoping and wishing that was the answer.
"No," Filia seriously confessed, her face set in displeasure. "It was dragon meat, golden dragon meat. It was Milgazia's friend."
Amelia felt the guilt rising in her. "I'm so sorry. We didn't know." Zelgadis joined the condolences in hopes of calming Filia's rage.
Lina on the other hand, was walking over to Milgazia, eyeing him suspiciously. He noticed the red haired human looking at him up and down with a foreboding sensation that told him she was not motivated by admiration. "Is something wrong?" He was almost afraid to ask.
"You look delicious," Lina grinned in a wolfish way that reminded Milgazia of Zelas, and he really didn't want to be reminded of her.
Milgazia backed away at the same time that Galathia arrived out of the astral side, just in time to catch Lina's remark. "Milgazia is a total hottie, isn't he? It's a pity he doesn't show as much skin as Phythan. If a young one like Phythan is that hot, I wonder how hot a dragon in his prime could be..."
Zelas joined the conversation, fading out of the astral side as well. "He's not hot yet, but he might be hot soon, in my oven." She licked her lips in an odd mix between hungry, seductive, wild and predatory. Being around golden dragons that transformed right in front of her made her hungry for something meatier than misery.
"Aw, but he's too handsome to eat!" Galathia complained.
Turning her own argument from earlier against her, Zelas replied by pointing out, "gluttony is a sin too."
Milgazia shuddered and backed away. Honestly, he had more than enough of crazy women who wanted to do inappropriate things to him, culinary or otherwise. Memphis would have said something about the improper comments, but she was too out of it to really notice. She would certainly be cursing alcohol in the morning.
While people theorized about if whether or not the earthquake was caused by the massive destructive sound waves of the combined laughter of doom, it started to sink in that the party was over, mostly because the party's location had already sunk. Thus the guests, who were stranded at the resort island until ships could come pick them up to take them to their homes, gave the newly weds their last round of congratulations and went to find places to camp out among the rubble of the destroyed buildings.
xoxox xox xoxox
As she sat around one of the many campfires in the shattered remains of the once splendorous Amor Resort, Filia thought of many things. She had overheard people talking about their homes and how they wished the seismic activities were not too bad there. Courier monster birds were sent to gather news of the state of other lands and to request transportation off the island. Albeit earthquakes had been felt in other lands, they were not as bad as the violent shaking that assaulted the Amor Resort island. It was almost as if the island was being purposely targeted. As if someone wanted to pick a fight, or maybe show off power. It all had to be related to the same enemy.
Reports of the land becoming dried up and infertile were becoming more frequent. When the news reached Philionel and he shared it via Jarde, Lina was very upset thinking that the promised triple banquet at Seyruun would have to be postponed again. She threw a big hissy fit about how it made the wasted cakes even more tragic. The gluttonous redhead spent the rest of the night eyeing Milgazia hungrily along with Gourry, who had taken to doing the same. Poor Milgazia didn't get a single second of sleep, not that he would dare to risk it.
It all made Filia think that the strange tree-like magical chimera device that Narcissus had under his mansion was not the only one. Who knew how many of those there were? It would be very hard to find them all, even harder to stop them and more so to stop them on time, as the land's condition was worsening fast. The lands in other continents across the sea were not holding up any better and couldn't really afford to send much help. Even the emergency supplies of Seyruun and of the golden dragons were running out. Something had to be done or the world was doomed, plus once Milgazia went home, Filia would probably be next on Lina's menu.
Filia was at least thankful to have been able to find a blanket, to avoid freezing in her showy dress. It was a tiny detail, but it would be that much worse to deal with deadly stress and the cold all at once. The temperatures were rapidly dropping as the winter settled in, cutting the autumn short. Filia held little Val in her arms, keeping him as warm as she could as he slept.
Xellos was sleeping next to her, both of them leaning on Fang, who was now in his fox form, playing the part of a warm and fuzzy giant black pillow. Xellos was going to have a killer hangover in the morning and would probably complain about his honey moon being ruined, but that would be the least of their worries with the current happenings of the world. The end of the world was imminent and something had to be done to stop it.
xoxox xox xoxox
Eventually, ships did brave the irritated ocean to pick up passengers and transport them to and from Amor Resort. Celo and Tiffany would remain behind to keep an eye on the rebuilding process. Zangulus and Martina, who had plenty of rebuilding experience from the work in progress that was the Kingdom of Zoana, were given high positions overseeing the process. Kally, Kalio, Medusa and Sylphiel were assigned to help with the process as well. Sylphiel surprised everyone with her architectural talent, designing the blueprints of the new and improved resort. Pokota, Wizer and all the other guests returned home. As for Onyx, Phythan and Fang, they were sent on a journey to travel the world and report their findings to Beast Master; a monster lord could never have enough spies.
Despite the resort being in shambles, after some further consideration, it was opened to the public, advertising a new theme: 'Love at the World's End.' Apparently the tourists thought it was romantic to pretend the world was ending, assuring that even if it did their love wouldn't end. Couples claimed that this was a lovely idea that would bring them together without the distraction of worldly things such as rides and souvenir shops. Many were even tricked into performing free labor, because constructing something together was such a wonderful bonding experience. Of course, they only thought the end of the world was romantic because it was play pretend. If they knew that the end of the world was actually happening, a gigantic world wide panic would ensue.
After many goodbyes and well wishes, Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis joined Philionel on his journey back to Seyruun. Naga went back to roaming the world, while Gravos and Jillas returned to the Maces and Vases shop. Naturally, Elena and Palou also went. Filia wanted to check on her shop thus she, Xellos and Val also returned to town. She intended to catch up to Phil's group later and look into the happenings of Seyruun. Apparently, the prince was being requested to return in a hurry, despite the kingdom not being significantly damaged by the relatively gentle earthquakes that were felt in that area. The problem was that the citizens had become terribly unmotivated and a massive depression was overtaking the whole kingdom, rendering it unable to function.
Filia wanted to do something to help, but she didn't want to place Val in such a depressing setting, thus she knew it was best for him to stay in her town with Jillas and Gravos, assuming that her home there was still standing. When they did arrive in town, they found that the damage wasn't as bad as they feared. There were cracks all over the walls of Filia's shop, as well as every other structure in town, including Elena's house. Many of the vases were thrown to the floor and broken, though no more than the amount Filia had thrown at Xellos' face when he visited her one day some time before he was cursed and his life was turned upside-down.
After the damage report was done, Filia gave her farewells, hugging little Val and telling him to be good. Xellos being Xellos, advised Val to keep things lively by getting into mischief. Thus with their son in the care of his trusted uncles, Filia and Xellos headed off to Seyruun to see just how bad the situation there was.
xoxox xox xoxox
After a relatively uneventful journey with only a few minor earthquakes here and there, Filia and Xellos arrived at Seyruun. The city had an aura of depression around it. It was so strong that one did not need to be an empath to perceive it. Even so, the strangest thing was that it was decorated with bright festive colors, though the zombie-faced, barely alive, people on the streets didn't seem to notice or care. Maybe the decorations were all part of Amelia's efforts to cheer people up, though it didn't appear to be working very well.
Xellos was thankfully long since over his horrible hangover, with its constant nauseous feeling and awful headache finally gone. He passed the time as he and Filia walked to Seyruun castle by throwing around hints about how she still owed him a honey moon, which Filia, with a rosy face, promised she'd give him when they had some time to relax. For the time being however, they would be far too busy getting caught up in Amelia's latest scheme...
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 107: Celebrations! Holiday Cheer
Upon their arrival at Seyruun castle, Xellos and Filia were greeted by an orchestra that seemed to be composed of the royal guards. They were skilled in swords and magic, some even in both, but few were actually skilled in music. The fact that they were attempting to play a seemingly cheerful song, judging by the reoccurrence of the phrase 'life is wonderful' in its lyrics, in such a terribly gloomy tone, made it all the more depressing. "Make them stop before I Dragon Slave them!" Xellos shouted in agony.
Noticing the arrival of her friends, Amelia rushed over wearing a festive colorful dress, with more colors on it than a rainbow. "This is no time to go back to your monster ways, Mr. Xellos. You should just give into the human optimism and admit that life is wonderful!"
"Who could be optimistic with all this noise?" Xellos argued, holding his hands over his ears, a motion that was mimicked by Filia.
Amelia waved her hand at the rehearsing orchestra in a merciful signal for them to stop. "Take a five minute break everyone, then continue rehearsing out in the garden. Maybe the warm and friendly rays of the cheerful sun will make you feel better!" Dragging their feet and their instruments, the members of the improvised orchestra of doom walked off.
After taking a moment to bask in the blissful silence, Filia inquired. "What in the world is going on?"
"It seems a terrible depression has overtaken the kingdom," Amelia's face was full of cheerful determination as she spoke. "We can't allow our spirits to fall. We must be strong as the world faces its trials and remember that justice will always triumph! To cheer up the people of Seyruun I have made an official decree that was approved by my father. What better way to spread joy then with holidays? The plan is to celebrate a couple of major holidays one after another to fill people with wonderful cheer! First up is Valentine's Day, then Easter. That way people will find friends and even love to share the next upcoming holidays with. We hope to get through many celebrations before Thanksgiving, which is the only one that will fall on its usual date."
Amelia's explanation left Xellos and Filia staring at her in surprise. Holidays were enjoyable indeed but they were also busy and hectic. Leave it to Amelia and only Amelia to so bravely face them one after another with her infinite supply of positive energy. "You are the bane of any monster's existence," Xellos half criticized and half acknowledged her 'power'.
Since Amelia was in such a positive mood, she took his words as a compliment and smiled in cheerful gratitude, "thank you. Everyone else is helping with the festivities, I hope you will too."
"Amelia!" Lina Inverse, sorceress extraordinaire, famed dragon spooker and bandit killer, entered the main reception hall of Seyruun castle in a most comical outfit. Her costume was shaped as a red heart, encompassing her petite body with her arms, legs and head sticking out of the red fabric. "Where's the chocolate to go with my costume? I'm a box of Valentine chocolates, aren't I?"
"Oh no Miss Lina, you're not a heart shaped box, you are the metaphorical representation of love!" Amelia cheered.
Xellos and Filia stared at Lina while she grumbled about how she would much rather be a box of chocolates with lots of chocolates inside, meaning inside her stomach. Before her hungry hissy fit was even half way done, Xellos and Filia burst out in a fit of laughter. Lina was not happy about it, she was already disappointed by the lack of chocolates and her patience was all dried up. "Who are you laughing at?" She roared dangerously, "darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."
"No, Miss Lina!" Amelia exclaimed. "Love is gentle! Mr. Gourry, please calm Miss Lina!"
Gourry ran over in an arrow costume. The tube-like clothing encompassed his torso with an upside down heart shaped arrow point on his hat to complete the arrow look. "Um... Lina?"
"Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows," Lina continued chanting her destructive spell.
"I don't think she's going to listen to me..." Gourry frowned.
"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands..." Lina dangerously progressed.
"Amelia..." Zelgadis, who was dressed as the sun, joined them. His costume was similar to Lina's, but it was round and yellow with orange triangles all around it to represent the sun's rays. The chimera was trying to make an effort not to acknowledge how silly he looked as he approached Amelia with a small pink heart shaped box. "This is for you..." He shyly handed it to her.
"Aw, thank you!" Amelia accepted the gift and rewarded Zelgadis with a kiss. After they parted, she looked at her hands, which were now mysteriously empty. "Huh?" She was holding the pink heart shaped box Zelgadis gave her a second ago and now it was mysteriously gone. Her eyes traveled to Lina, who was hungrily opening the box.
"Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!" The gluttonous redhead had at least been distracted into stopping her spell, but she was very disappointed. The box was not filled with chocolates; instead it had some kind of headbands inside. "This isn't edible!"
"It's mine!" Amelia protectively snatched away the gift.
"Valentine chocolates are out of season in most places, and there's the famine going on, so treats like that are hard to find." Zelgadis apologetically explained.
Amelia didn't really mind, she was beaming with happiness at the gift she got. "These are genuine replicas of the headbands of justice Fluffy and Ice-cream wear in the comics!" There was a pink one and a blue one, both with golden stripes that came at an angle from the purple J in the middle, as if the J of justice shone like the sun. "They're beautiful!" Of course Amelia wanted to wear the Fluffy headband replica immediately and Zelgadis guessed that she would want him to join her by wearing the Ice-cream head band. She happily fastened the pink headband around her head, seeming to gain even more energy from the action. Then, quoting her favorite issue of the comics she had been recently getting into more and more, despite them having been around for a while, she extended her hand holding the blue head band. "Join me in another crusade of justice, my eternal adventuring partner!"
Zelgadis saw this coming from a mile away and was ready to play along, wearing the blue and gold justice headband that couldn't make him look any sillier than his sun costume already did.
xoxox xox xoxox
After hearing some knocking on his door, Milgazia opened the entrance to the cabin where he resided in the mountains. The water clan often remained in their dragon forms and slept out in the open, but they had a village to keep their possessions and rest when they felt the need to sleep on a bed. After all the happenings during his excursion to Amor Resort, Milgazia definitely felt like resting his aching head on a nice soft pillow.
Opening the door revealed the arrival of someone dressed in green holding a clipboard and pen. The young man, looked like he was an experience traveler, thus he was able to overtake the journey to the mountains. He had a horse with him, the brown animal standing not too far away from its master. The mare was occupied in carrying many packages and by the looks of it had not been able to carry the man too. "Mr. Milgazia?" The blond young man inquired.
"Yes," Milgazia confirmed, curious as to who could be writing to him. If it was another dragon, he would expect the message to be brought by a courier dove and not a delivery boy.
"Please sign here," the man handed the clipboard and pen to Milgazia. Being the cautious dragon he was, Milgazia read the document before signing it. There was nothing suspicious about it. It only ascertained that a package was delivered and handed to its owner. Milgazia was about to return the clipboard, but the man was already busy guiding his horse closer to the entrance of Milgazia's mountain cabin. "You need to sign the others too, all the papers on that clipboard." The man spoke in a quiet voice, his blue eyes focused and perceptive, yet also pure.
Surprised at how many packages were being delivered to him, Milgazia went over each document, reading the same lines quickly, but accurately. By the time he was done providing all his required signatures, the man wearing green had already relieved his horse of her burdens and set the packages in a pile next to Milgazia. He accepted the clipboard with a nod and placed it on the bag attached to the horse side, then went on his way, walking next to her rather than riding, to give her a break from supporting extra weight. "Wait, who are these deliveries from?" Milgazia called after the young man. At a closer glance at his ears he noticed their long elf-like shape.
"They are all from different girls," the young man revealed. He had a look of understanding in his eyes, as if he could relate to Milgazia's situation, even before Milgazia himself knew what that situation was.
"I see..." Confused with this information, Milgazia politely thanked the young man for the delivery and turned his attention to curiously examine the mountain of packages. He took them all inside the cabin and set them on the table, preparing to open them one by one and hopefully understand what this was about.
The mountain cabin had a simple yet elegant decor with carved wooden furniture complimented with fluffy cushions. Shades of brown, gold and white predominated, giving the place a gentle and warm atmosphere. A fireplace contained a small flame. The chill of the winter had arrived early all across the land and the weather up in the mountains was especially cold. Milgazia's resistance to it was reduced in his elf form, but there was something especially comfortable about drinking tea wrapped in a warm blanket in front of the fire when it was cold outside.
A framed color drawing of medium size hung on the wall, depicting a skilled artistic impression of a slightly younger Milgazia standing next to a human woman who carried a special sword. The painting was reinforced with magic so as to not loose its rich colors with the passing of the many years. The lady warrior's smiling face, pretty cheerful features and long flowing hair were still captured perfectly in the canvas. The author was a young human girl of exceptional artistic skill by the name of Relm. She was no longer among the living, as it had been far too long since the time when she painted that picture.
The world was certainly an ever changing place and that was why it continued to exist. For a fleeting moment, Milgazia wondered what it would have been like if he had interpreted his feelings for that human lady as something other than a deep friendship and admiration. He pushed the thoughts away without bitterness. He shared some good times traveling with her and those were precious memories that he would forever treasure. As for her, she eventually retired from her travels and settled down with a human man. Her descendant was alive and well, keeping up the family tradition of practicing with the sword and traveling across the land.
Milgazia had never thought of mentioning he had known his ancestor and simply let things be the way they were, but he knew it had to be him, Gourry Gabriev. That time when Lina, Xellos and the others came seeking the Claire Bible, it was Gourry who dispelled the tension between the group with his comment on how young Xellos looked despite being over a thousand years old. Milgazia had commented on what a strange group they were and felt assured that there was nothing to fear even though Beast Master's general was there. It was that same optimistic feeling that she had around her. Though Gourry seemed more naive, they both had the same kind heroic heart. Remembering her made Milgazia think of their travels together and about how she would always be ready to courageously face any challenge with determination and optimism.
Milgazia discovered a box of chocolates within one of the packages he received. He opened up the pink card with red hearts all over that was attached to it and curiously read the message inside. "Dear Mr. Dragon, I want to be your damsel in distress, please steal me away. With love, Momoka." He blinked, doing a double take on the card. Some humans had a very peculiar view of dragons as being prone to kidnapping young ladies, especially princesses, but this was the first time a lady asked him to steal her away.
Setting the card aside, Milgazia examined another of the packages and found a chocolate cake. The card accompanying the gift was red, with the word love written on its cover with pink glitters. He opened it and read. "Hi sexy dragon! Take me to your lair and devour me, rawr! I'll be waiting for you, Laiki" Setting that card aside too, Milgazia examined one package after another finding chocolates, cakes, cookies, candy and all sorts of chocolaty and sugary treats. All of them were Valentine themed, even though February was a good way away, as it was still early November.
The cards' messages were varied, yet they all had the same flirty theme to them. Some were sweet, others were funny and others were so direct, lustful and graphic that they made Milgazia's face turn red. Where did these girls get off sending him all those flirtatious messages when he was sure he had never even met them? The next message he checked was from someone he had met before, not that the detail was comforting at all. The envelope attached to the gift held a lengthy high rated letter from Galathia detailing all the activities she was willing to partake in with him. Needless to say, Milgazia was most certainly not willing to do anything of the sort.
Then finally the answer to the mystery of the Valentine gifts flood came along with yet another gift. The box contained an assortment of beautifully decorated chocolate cupcakes that seemed to stand out from the others because of their perfect shape, extra alluring chocolaty scent and gorgeous shiny frosting decorations. They were also set apart from the other gifts because there were no hearts among the sugary depictions on them. There were pretty stars, dots, lines and even a detailed picture of a frosting wolf, but nothing particularly mushy. The card was shaped in the silhouette of a winged wolf; it was black with red ink, scented in an exquisite perfume with a hint of something else as if an elegant queen just came home from a bloody assassination.
Upon closer inspection, Milgazia realized that the ink was not really ink. It was blood, dragon blood to be specific, golden dragon blood. "Dear Mr. Cannibal, I wish to thank you for your contribution to the 'Stupid Dragon Fangirl' project. All the funds gathered by the delivery service of gifts from the eligible, though very idiotic, bachelorettes will be put towards the restoration of Amor Resort. Please accept these delicious treats as a symbol of my gratitude. With appreciation (in a purely culinary sense), Beast Master Zelas Metallium. PS: Put some meat on your bones, I'm looking forward to having you for the dinner of ingratitude!"
Ah yes, the dinner of ingratitude, it was a monster celebration that took place on the same day as Thanksgiving. However, instead of giving thanks and being grateful, the monsters would gather together to pig out, whine and complain about all the things they wanted that they did not have. It was a bit late to get started on most dragon cuisine dishes, but if this was a monster only party, then Zelas wouldn't have to worry about completely de-poisoning the dragon meat, since the poisonous properties wouldn't really affect the monsters anyway.
Milgazia was very tempted to rip the card apart, but he remembered that Zelas mentioned she would be spying on him. He would not dignify her with a hissy fit, he was above such behavior. Thus forcing himself to appear to be cool calm and collected, he set the card aside with the others in a pile of annoying correspondence. He hated being used in Zelas' schemes, but knew there was little he could do about it. He wasn't surprised that she managed to get her hands on so much food to sell though; Lady Metallium did have many connections in the business world.
At least Milgazia could share the chocolates with his clan; he just wouldn't tell them where they came from. Besides, poisoning really wasn't Zelas' style, more so if she wanted his meat to stay fresh and healthy for whatever recipe she had in mind for him. He picked up a cupcake and ate it, at least the rich chocolaty taste could help somewhat reduce his stress. The taste was outstanding, though something about the center of the cupcake was off. It wasn't a creamy center, it was more like... meat, dragon meat, golden dragon meat.
Milgazia examined the center of the cupcake and realized that apparently Zelas had some left over dragon cuisine after all. His face started to gain a slightly green tint and he felt his stomach turn, but he refused to get sick and make a mad dash to the bathroom to spit out what he just ate. Oh no, he would be cool, calm, collected and dignified. He had to show that he wasn't going to allow himself to be tortured. He didn't eat another cupcake though; he didn't want to be even more of a cannibal again.
It was kind of annoying that the meat filling aside, the cupcake itself was so good when it was made by someone so evil. Whoever said food tasted better when cooked with love was a big fat liar. Speaking of fat, though Milgazia certainly wasn't, the thought of a monster lord wanting to cook him made him want to start an intense exercise regimen. Maybe if he lost some weight, Beast Master would leave him alone.
xoxox xox xoxox
At Seyruun castle, everyone was practicing their assigned roles. "I'm the sun, I'm cheerful and happy," Zelgadis' tone didn't match his lines at all.
"I'm a rainbow of bright colorful joy!" Amelia cheered, with enough bliss to make up for the others' collective lack of enthusiasm.
"G-go C-cu-ppid Aa-rrr-ow..." Xellos shivered in the cold.
"The cupid's bow shoots the arrow to the heart!" Filia was dressed as a giant bow, with her tail housed inside the lower curve of the bow and her limbs sticking out much like with Gourry's arrow costume. She tried to play along, but she was more distracted than enthusiastic.
"Here I go, full of love!" Gourry was totally into his role, though certainly not as much as Amelia, he came in a close second. He picked up love, which was Lina's role, and ran forward, then placed her on her feet.
"I'm the love that blossom's in everyone's hearts!" Her stomach growled. "Arg! I can't act on an empty stomach!"
"It's too cold for this," Filia argued. "Xellos is turning into an icicle!"
"No-not aat all... I'm ff-fi-ne..." Leave it to Xellos to pretend he was strong when he was obviously freezing. He was the cupid, thus his costume consisted of a short white cloth tied a little below the waist, covering only what vitally needed to be covered and little fake angel wings on his back, which took a while to convince him to put on.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 108: Memories! Regretful Nostalgia
"Cheer up everyone!" Amelia declared at the top of her lungs. "We need to finish getting into character and practice our song and dance so we could put on a show at the public plaza!"
"What?" Filia snapped. "Are you really expecting us to do all this in public, in song form?" Wearing a ridiculous costume in front of her friends was one thing, they were all like family. But Filia did not approve of her husband prancing around in a tiny white cloth outside in the freezing cold of an unusually early winter that felt like mid winter. He would get pneumonia, or be assaulted by insane obsessive fan girls, or both!
"We have to; we're the opening act for the fashion show!" Amelia continued trying to talk her unwilling band of actors into acting. "Naga joined in helping with the situation. She convinced Miss Marty to bring her fashion show to Seyruun. Since Amor Resort is so deeply involved in the copyright I had to ask Miss Tiffany to help us with that. In the end it was all arranged and the fashion show will take place this evening at the plaza for the whole kingdom to see!"
Lina let out a tired breath, "I really don't think Marty's designs are winter functional."
Before any counter arguments could be produced, a familiar loud laugh invaded the castle. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga approached in her usual attire, laughing constantly.
"Are you alright, sister?" Amelia wondered with concern, Naga was laughing much more than usual, it went on none stop.
"Of course, I'm just fine. I just need to keep laughing to stay warm!" Naga proudly declared, with another bout of obnoxious laughter. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
"Or you could just wear a coat," Zelgadis usefully suggested, his advice falling on metaphorically deaf ears. Albeit very soon the whole kingdom would be left deaf for real if Naga wasn't stopped.
Fortunately, Amelia had a secret weapon for just such an emergency occasion. "Sister, please cosplay as the rainbow with me! Let's wear pretty matching dresses, please!" Her eyes were shiny and looked larger than before, as Amelia used her little sister charm.
"Aw!" Naga patted her younger sibling on the head. "Alright, I'll cosplay with you. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" With Naga in a matching dress like Amelia's she would no longer be cold. Thus she would not have the constant need to warm up by laughing.
xoxox xox xoxox
Unfortunately for those who were looking forward to a genuine Marty fashion show, the designer caught a bad cold and was no longer in any conditions to direct it. The show had to go on though, thus Naga was assigned the task of directing, which, if anything, made things much worse. She paced around Amelia's crew of Valentine cheer in her rainbow dress that matched her sister's. Additionally, the models from Marty's show that didn't catch colds because of her winter dysfunctional designs had joined them, though the additions were only two, Phythan and Fang. "Now all together, take a deep breath and... Ah! ha ha ho ha ha!"
"I've had enough of this!" Lina yelled at the top of her lungs.
Naga ignored her and shook her head. "You three," she pointed at Fang, Phythan and Xellos. Xellos, being human, was the one who was worse off. Fang was part monster, but he was a chimera and his fox part longed for its natural fur coat. As for Phythan, he wanted to transform, as his golden scales were much more resistant to the cold than his human skin. Fang and Phythan were wearing the showy outfits Marty had recommended for them, the Wild Feline Trio for Phythan and the Wild Beast Tamer for Fang. "Stop shivering!" Naga ordered. "If you would just laugh with all your heart, you would warm up in no time!"
"Do I have to blow something up just to get people to listen to me?" Lina shouted exasperated. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."
"Alright, alright!" Amelia interfered. "Maybe it is a little too cold for a fashion show like this. Maybe our hastily," and poorly, "planned shows are not working out how they should."
"O-on-ly M-ma-y-be?" Xellos snapped sarcastically, though his sarcasm just wasn't the same when he was shivering so much that he couldn't even speak properly.
"That's okay, because we can come up with something else!" Amelia cheered, trying to keep everyone's spirits high.
"Hmm..." Naga looked like she was plotting and everyone instantly started to worry. "Amelia..." She leaned over close to her younger sister's ear and whispered something to her.
Amelia's face immediately lit up, "really? Do you think we could do that?"
"I think we can manage," Naga nodded. "I'm sure Zelas has a lot of supplies in secret warehouses."
"Alright!" Amelia cheered, then paused to ask, "when did you get acquainted with Miss Zelas?"
"During the wedding party," Naga replied with admiration. "I talked her into popping over to the astral side for a moment and showing me her laugh. I must say, that roaring laughter of hers is really something. It's too bad she doesn't show it to just anyone. It would have been an honor for the other guests to hear it." Xellos was pretty surprised that a mere human listened to that and lived, but then again, Naga was certainly not an ordinary person.
"What's the new plan?" Filia inquired suspiciously. If the scheme somehow involved Zelas, that was a good reason for her to worry.
"That is a secret," Amelia chirped cheerfully. If Xellos wasn't about to fall over with hypothermia, he would have said something about his line being stolen.
xoxox xox xoxox
Several hours later, Naga, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina, Gourry, Filia, Xellos, Fang, Phythan, Onyx and Philionel were all over the city, handing out hot chocolate and chocolaty heart shaped cookies. Well, Lina and Gourry were eating most of the supplies, while the others were actually doing their job. The cookie recipe was custom made by the late queen of Seyruun. She used to bake with her daughters years ago. It filled Philionel with nostalgia and fatherly pride to see his daughters make the special cookies that the queen use to make and share them with the citizens of their fair kingdom. The prince was in fact so filled with emotion that he didn't even mind that he was now indebt to a monster lord, as the prices for the ingredients were stiff according to the situation of supply and demand.
It had been years since the citizens tasted those special cookies that the queen use to share with them. Many were filled with nostalgia and became more open to Amelia's speeches about hope, friendship and love. The fashion show didn't go through, albeit maybe that was for the best. Thus the costumes were replaced with much more comfortable and functional coats and winter clothes. Yet the atmosphere around the group was just as cheerful as Amelia wanted it to be with their brightly colored coats. Xellos' fuzzy purple coat even had a hood with adorable little weasel ears on top. He would never admit it, but he was really glad to finally be able to warm up.
At the end of the day, the Valentine celebrations were declared a success. The festivities went on for a while and it all turned out so nice that Filia had Fang go to her town to get Jillas, Gravos, Val, Elena, Palou and Fili so they could join in.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days later, the time came for the celebration of the next holiday on the list, Easter. While the group occupied themselves painting eggs and making paper bunnies to decorate every surface, a gloomy presence watched it all, hidden in the shadows. The being scoffed, unheard from her place in the astral side. "All this cheer must be extinguished..."
Encouraged by the royal family and their friends, the citizens of Seyruun were running around all over the kingdom, searching for Easter eggs. Amelia's not so willing, merry band of cheer givers were dressed up as Easter bunnies with some being more enthusiastic than others. The city was finally starting to recover its characteristic cheer, with the streets being flooded with smiles and laughter. Fili, the wolf cub, was with Xellos, Filia and Val. One moment she was happily enjoying the festivities, following them wagging her tail and the next she was howling in alarm for no apparent reason.
The happy atmosphere was interrupted by a blast of dark energy thrown at the crowds roaming the streets. Strangely, the energy did not cause any physical damage, but many people collapsed in depressed agony. "Who did that?" Amelia, who played the role of an Easter bunny, demanded to know.
"I did," a being Amelia had not seen before was floating above the panicking crowds. Her robes were ragged like what one would picture the grim reaper wearing, but the fabric was somehow elegant. The torn material reflected a beautiful starry night sky of pure black with glittering silver points of light more majestic than diamonds as if the cloak was made from the sky itself. Her face was slightly reminiscent of Onyx, though her messy wavy hair was longer in a dark navy tone rather than black. Her eyes were a blood red tone and her pointy ears had small patches of navy fur at the ends. "Your attitude, little princess, is not appreciated by the bringers of the end. Lamentation was tainted with the remains of the Green Alchemist, but I am not a chimera, I am a pure fragment of the Stillness. Let your mind surrender to the Void!"
A beam of dark energy emerged from Void's outstretched hand, hitting Amelia square on the chest. The princess stumbled, no physical damage was evident, but her mind was a whirlwind of pain. Amelia saw herself no longer standing in the street. Instead she was running through the halls of the castle. There were screams; she pushed her legs to carry her faster, her heart beating wildly as if wanting to burst with the pain of a coming tragedy, her lungs thirsty for air as if she was breathing in fire rather than oxygen. She stopped, there was blood everywhere, there were sharp blades covered in red, her mother lay motionless as her sister tried desperately to bring her back to life with healing spells that would not work. The assassin was dead too, the cruel angry face something that could inspire nightmares.
Her sister was crying, she was crying too and she knelt next to her and placed her hands atop Gracia's on the lifeless queen's chest. The blood of their mother seeped through Gracia's fingers into Amelia's smaller hands as they both called forth every ounce of white magic they knew to no avail. Heavy footsteps were approaching, Amelia had heard them in tune with her own, but they stopped a while ago, Amelia didn't know for how long her father stood still in agony. A loud noise was heard, the prince had fallen to his knees, the royal guards in shock behind him, not knowing how to face this tragedy. Abundant tears were running down Philionel's face. He knew that his daughters' efforts were in vain; his beloved queen had already perished.
Philionel crawled to Gracia and Amelia, unable to find the strength to get on his feet. He took their delicate blood stained hands in his large trembling hands, the blood of his beloved sticking to his fingers as it was in theirs. No matter how much he washed his hands later, he would always feel her blood on his hands, because he wasn't there to protect her. He wrapped his arms around his daughters and together they mourned for a time period unknown, as even the passing of time felt as if it had stopped.
"Where was your precious justice then?" A monotonous yet cruel and haunting voice mocked, echoing in Amelia's mind. "What did taking justice into her own hands do for your sister? What did your kind mother do to deserve such a painful death? How was that just? Do you remember the expression of fear embedded in your mother's face? She could not even close her eyes as she fell to the floor lifeless and covered in blood." The images kept running through Amelia's head over and over. "She died in agony, she saw her eldest daughter running to her in a panic right before she died. She passed away thinking that her first child would surely be next. Her last second of life was spent in unbearable sorrow; she knew no closure, no peace."
"Amelia!" Zelgadis was holding Amelia, her body limp in his arms. He called her name more urgently each time until he was shouting desperately for her to respond. "What did you do to her? What did you do, monster!?"
The Void looked indifferent. "I only showed her the truth that she kept locked away deep inside. Isn't it better if you simply do not feel? Then you wouldn't feel the pain of losing her. You call me a monster, yet you are one yourself. She's the only one who could truly see past that. She was so selfless in loving a creature like you, and you couldn't even protect her. You were never good enough for her. She gave you so much and you didn't even keep her safe even if you were right there next to her. You're such an ingrate, such a cruel heartless monster!"
The others, who had been spread across the area, were running towards Amelia and Zelgadis from different directions. Philionel was the first to get close to the pair. Void looked at him with her pupil-less blood red eyes. "Her blood is in your hands," her final words were directed at both Zelgadis and Philionel. The prince stopped cold, as if a deep sorrow he kept hidden in his heart had reemerged. Naga caught up to him, shaking her father out of his sorrowful daze, then the two continued running towards Amelia and Zelgadis.
The Void faded into a shadowy black light and flew away like a wind of darkness. Filia and Xellos were running over, with Val riding on Xellos' basket of Easter chocolates, previously enjoying the treats. The Void, in her semi-transparent state, headed towards them. Filia picked up Val automatically and hugged him. In an instant, the Void passed between Filia and Xellos before fading into nothingness.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later... "Is she going to be okay? Is she going to wake up? What's wrong with her!?" Zelgadis shouted, his upset demanding voice resonating all over Amelia's room at the castle where the group was gathered. It was causing the castle head physician to back away in worry. Zelgadis hated that look of fear in his eyes; he looked at him like a monster.
"Calm down, Zel!" It was Lina who stepped forward to take hold of the situation while Gourry, Filia, Xellos, Sylphiel, Gravos, Naga and Philionel remained quiet. Jillas was with Elena, Palou and Val, trying to help the kids cheer up after the frightening event. Phythan, Onyx and Fang had left to report back to Beast Master. "Everyone will do the best they can. We're all worried about Amelia, but you need to calm down. Having a nervous break down won't make things any better."
Zelgadis moved his glaring frustrated and pained gaze away from the doctor in front of him and to the floor under his feet. His teeth were clenched, his fists tightly trembling at his sides. He must have terrified the doctor with his anger. If Lina Inverse of all people was advising self control, then he must badly be in need of it. "I know... I know... I'm sorry, I just... I just want Amelia to be okay."
With Zelgadis backing away to give him some room the doctor got to work. The physician went through a standard routine of taking the princess' vital signs, her heart rate and breathing rhythm. He examined her head and gently pried open her eyes. Her gaze was sorrowful, but otherwise presented no signs of major physical consequences. The physician took a deep breath, as he placed his instruments back into the bag. His raspy elderly voice encompassed everyone's attention instantly. "The princess has no physical wounds or abnormal conditions that I could detect. Her vital signs are all normal." No wounds meant that a Recovery spell wouldn't do anything and there was no illness for medicine to cure.
"I see," Philionel voiced. He looked at Sylphiel, who had taken a break from her architect job at the resort and come over for the festivities, only to find they had been cut terribly short. "Miss Sylphiel, could you try?"
"I'll do my best," Sylphiel stood next to Amelia's bed. "Please give me some room." Everyone stood back to allow her to concentrate. She began to chant a prayer, both Sylphiel and Amelia surrounded by a gentle glow. A long moment of suspenseful silence that felt eternal passed. "Miss Amelia shows no signs of possession, curses or similar magic based conditions. Her energy waves were disturbed though. I could call it mental exhaustion, but that's not entirely accurate. It's..." Sylphiel paused, searching for the right words.
"It's sorrow, isn't it?" Filia filled in. "That thing depresses people. She's making the citizens of Seyruun terribly sad. I felt it when she passed close to us. I saw terrible visions. Val was alright, frightened, yet otherwise unaffected, but I saw the vision meant for him in addition to mine. I saw the ancient dragons in their last moment. The attack wasn't as harsh as it was with Amelia, she must have seen something terrible."
A thick silence hung in the air for a moment longer until Naga spoke in an uncharacteristically serious tone. "Mother's death... That is what she saw. Her blood in our hands... in all our hands... We couldn't save her even if she was so kind to us. Being here brought back bitter memories, that's why I left..."
"Wow... I never knew your past was like that." To say Lina was in shock was an understatement. She always thought of Naga as a stupidly cheerful showoff who couldn't take anything seriously. She never would have imagined her journey around the world had such a tragic beginning.
Gravos quietly hugged Naga, which seemed to instantly change her back to normal. "Thanks Gravy, having your support makes me feel better. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha! My little sister is a fighter; she won't lose to sadness. Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Lina wasn't sure if she should commend Gravos for getting Naga back to normal, or find a blunt object to throw at his head as punishment for the same reason.
"That's right..." Philionel agreed quietly at first, then he continued with more energy and true hope. "Amelia has the fighting spirit of justice in her heart, she will not give up. She will defeat all sorrow and continue bringing happiness to all those around her!"
"What exactly was that monster anyway?" Zelgadis looked at Xellos, the usual source of answers that had not been very informed recently. Not that he was helpful in the past when he kept his information to himself.
"It definitely wasn't one of Lord Beast Master's monsters or any monster I've seen before," Xellos revealed in a surprisingly cooperative mood, despite not having too much to offer in the information department. "I don't think it was even a monster in the usual sense. It's probably related to the whole Green Alchemist thing."
"I thought so..." Zelgadis admitted. "Amelia," Zelgadis sat beside her bed, holding her hand, it was so cold. "Why is she so cold?"
"Her mind is exhausted. Miss Amelia needs to conquer this sadness or else her energy will escape her," Sylphiel gently explained. She didn't need to be direct or elaborate for everyone to understand what that meant.
To be Continued