The group had come together in the kingdom of Seyruun, the final stop of their respective traveling routes. Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis, had joined those who were already at the kingdom, Philionel, Naga, Gravos, Fili and Palou. Xellos, Filia, Elena and Jillas also arrived at the city.
In the mean time, Beast Master was at Wolf Pack Island, going over all the information her spies and researchers had gathered. The information had slowly changed and evolved with every new discovery. Theories were formed, discarded and replaced and the truth had finally come to light. The enemy was stronger than they thought. Zelas was also rather busy overseeing a series of experiments to make sure it would be possible to fuse the End with the rest of the fragments of the Stillness. Another different experiment involved borrowing power from the Sea of Chaos, a project that Celo was working on.
As for the matter of the fragments, they would surely only get one chance for the combination to be carried out and they couldn't risk the Stillness resisting the fusion. Thus they attempted to make Tiffany into a chimera that was a little more similar to the components of the Green Alchemist in hopes of raising the possible success rate of the fusion. As a result of that, Zelas was as of yet to visit Seyruun with any further plans or instructions to try to draw out the Nameless Beast, not that the group was waiting for her to appear anyway.
A very changed Tiffany was trying to practice her instant fusion techniques. Making a chimera that was part monster and part something else was relatively simple because of the way monsters were, but that might not be so beneficial in this case, because the End within Tiffany might end up consuming the monster part somehow. Making chimeras that were not in part monster was something that Zelas had no real reason to often do. Though she did add any beast-like chimera she found to her collection and usually ended up with a few little mutant pets if it bred with her wolves, that was something that mostly just happened, not something that needed to be carefully planned and calculated.
The chamber was a raw cave-like basement with glowing symbols carved on the ground, surrounding the area where Tiffany participated in the experiment. She moved forward within the designated space. Her skin was oddly pale, her hair discolored to white. She had some wolf-like qualities to her, most clearly noticeable in her ears and facial features. She reached for the small tree sapling and attempted to fuse with it, but could not do so instantly, instead taking some time to painfully absorb it, despite being aided by the spells that filled the marked area. Her right hand became like a wooden claw, though she could still move it with the agility of a wolf. A few leaves sprouted from her hair and she gained a slightly green tint on her otherwise pale skin.
If she was enough of a mix, if she was sufficiently chaotic, that could weaken the Stillness after she was absorbed. The plant components should make the merge easier by making her similar to the materials that came from the remains of the Green Alchemist. As for the fusion, it needed to be fast, more than fast, it had to be instant, and most of all it had to be absolute. This was not exactly absolute, as one could still distinguish the pieces of one creature from another in different areas. The dormant End within Tiffany made the chimera blending process more difficult than expected.
Tiffany fell to her knees breathing heavily. She had been participating in such experiments for a long time without rest. At least this time she was actually absorbing something, unlike with the unsuccessful first few attempts where her body refused to become a chimera. This was still not enough though, not nearly enough. When she faced the Stillness, she would have to force herself to unite with it before it had the chance to stop her. "We're going to need a more powerful chimera spell," Zelas concluded. "I have an idea about where to get it."
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At Seyruun, everyone was busy fighting the frequent undead invasions upon the city. A group of survivors from Taforashia had arrived seeking shelter in the renowned holy city after their own kingdom fell to the undead attacks. Dragon's Peak at the Kataart Mountains was another constant target. It seemed that the Stillness saw Seyruun and Dragon's Peak as the two main bases of the enemy.
"Pokota," Amelia hurried to receive the prince and the people accompanying him to Seyruun castle. Pokota looked like he had been in quite a battle and some mending work would be in order to repair his peculiar body. "I'm so sorry that the support troops and supplies we sent weren't enough. After what happened all that time ago, I promised never to allow the same thing to be repeated. I promised that when another land needed help I would make sure Seyruun did all that was needed. Daddy made that vow as well, I'm so sorry."
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Amelia," Pokota tried to make her see that he wasn't upset at her or Seyruun. "I know that you and your family did everything you could. Your forces are already stretched thin trying to defend Seyruun. All we can do now is stand together. Seyruun is all our fortress now, we'll defend it. Then after all this is over, we can always rebuild Taforashia again... and the rest of the world." It was easier said than done, but it was the only option left.
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In a different area of Seyruun castle, Lina stood on a high tower looking over the city. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga soon joined her uninvited, her loud obnoxious laughter making the petite redhead cringe in discomfort. "Do you like to climb up to the tallest tower and laugh too? It's quite a stress reliever! Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
"I was here to have a better look at the city," Lina explained. She had seen it when she arrived of course, but seeing a wider range from a high place would give her a more accurate picture than walking down the street and seeing only that portion of the city. The once majestic city was pretty beat up. The buildings showed the damage they had suffered due to the earthquakes and the zombie attacks. Even the castle was full of hasty patchwork all over it in an attempt to keep it together. "It looks pretty run down..." Lina had to admit.
"Yeah... but we'll fix it! When this is over I mean. If we put too much effort into fixing it now, it'll just get trashed again." Not that anyone had the energy to care about the aesthetic aspect of architecture when the world was on the verge of ending. "A bunch of zombies attacked right after Epona, I mean Filia, Xellos and Elena came by to leave that adorable little fox boy, Palou, in the safety of my care. Gravy and I protected people and sent the undead away, along with some help from the portion of the Seyruun magical army that was still able to fight. I bet it'll be a while before they send more. We exorcised those zombies pretty good! Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
Lina had to take a moment to question if it was really all that wise to leave a child in Naga's care, but she had already heard the full story from Filia and knew they had a reason to be in a hurry, thus they couldn't get too picky with the babysitters. Besides, at least Naga had a fair amount of magic power to her name. Plus that laugh of hers was probably enough to repel the undead. "What I really wish is that we find a way to face the Stillness soon. The enemy is causing damage constantly, but at the same time it stays hidden, it's pretty infuriating. Especially since, even after we beat that thing," assuming they could accomplish the task, "it'll still take a long time for the world to recover, especially the food supplies." Lina shouted at the top of her lungs to the distance over Seyruun. "Will my triple banquet ever come?"
"That's it Lina, express your feelings with your voice," Naga encouraged. "Do it louder and with a laugh, like this," she proceeded to demonstrate, even if it was certainly not necessary, nor was it in the least bit wanted, "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
Cringing at the sound, Lina let out an exasperated breath. The supplies Seyruun had purchased from Beast Master were almost completely gone and the last portion had to be rationed. Zelas had closed shop for the time being, as what little else she had in store would go to feed her wolves. As a result, Lina could not eat to her heart's content, thus she was rather irritable. "Aw, who cares? I'll do it!" Taking in a deep breath, Lina let out a loud, rather high pitched laugh, "Ha! He he ha he he!"
Naga shook her head critically, "that was weak, but I'll give you points for trying." She patted Lina on the head in encouragement, "keep practicing."
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Meanwhile, at the Seyruun castle strategy room, Zelgadis finished his tactical explanation, pointing out areas on the city map that lay spread across the table. On the other side of it, prince Philionel stroke his chin in thought and nodded in agreement. "Yes, yes, I believe that would be the best course of action in case of a future undead invasion." Or more like when the next undead invasion came. "I'll leave the presentation to you during our next meeting with the troops," or what was left of them, "in a few hours." Pausing to try to recollect the passing of time, Philionel wondered if the guests they were expecting were already there. "Do you think our friends from Taforashia have arrived?"
"It's very likely," Zelgadis replied. "When they sent that last message they said they were pretty close by on their way. If they're not already here, then they should be arriving any minute."
"Then we must go and receive them. We must let them know that Seyruun will welcome them and protect them as our own!" Philionel righteously declared.
"Such a noble sentiment... how disgusting." An elegant voice with a rather annoying mocking tone was heard all of a sudden, as none other than Beast Master Zelas Metallium appeared before them, fading from the astral side as if she owned the castle. Then again, in a sense she kind of did.
"Ah, Zelas," Philionel happily greeted her. Even if she was a monster lord, a very sarcastic and mocking monster lord, she certainly knew how to throw a party, as it was proven during her son's wedding, she was an amazing cook and she made a deal with Seyruun to sell them food in their time of need. Even if the fine print was not so beneficial in that deal and even if everything she did had an ulterior motive that would no doubt benefit her sooner or later, as the actions of a true monster would be expected to be, Phil didn't really look that deeply into things. Thus in his generously kind opinion, Zelas wasn't all that bad. "What brings you to visit Seyruun?"
"I'm here to speak with Zelgadis," Zelas revealed, which took both Philionel and Zelgadis by surprise.
Zelgadis was not as trusting as Phil and he had been on high alert ever since he saw Zelas arrive. After hearing she was there to speak to him, his suspicions rose even more, though he didn't really know what he was suspicious about. The group was currently working with Zelas and from what they've heard from Filia, she had temporarily, taken Val under her custody. Hopefully she would return him to his parents when the danger had passed. Truce aside, Zelgadis was still puzzled by what Zelas could want to discuss with him specifically, but if they were all out to get rid of the Stillness, then he might as well go along with it. "What did you want to talk about?"
"I want you to be my negotiator," Zelas ambiguously stated.
"A negotiator for what? Why me?" Zelgadis curiously questioned. He wasn't expecting this sort of request and knew there had to be plenty more to it than what it sounded.
"A diplomat!" Phil suddenly exclaimed in excitement. "Is it that you wish to establish diplomatic relations with Seyruun? A smart and perceptive young man such a Zelgadis would be the perfect mediator, I completely agree!"
"Keep your vote of confidence to yourself along with your ideals of peace, that's not what this is about." Zelas quickly shot down the idea. "According to Xellos' past reports and my own observations, you are a rather stubborn one. Then again, all of Lina's traveling companions seem to have their fair share of stubbornness, some even more than that. None the less, it seems you're my only choice for a negotiator in a situation where death threats mean nothing, for the other party that is."
"Did you just slip in a death threat in what you said?" Zelgadis boldly and possibly unwisely, asked.
"If it sounded as such it is a coincidence to be sure," Zelas laughed with disregard. "My death threats are far more open and direct. They go something along the lines of, if you don't follow my orders I'll rip you apart limb from limb and leave you for my wolves to devour. Of course I'm sure they wouldn't want to chew on someone like you. That aside, you really will die if this doesn't work out, as will the rest of the world."
"This is related to the Stillness I take it?" Zelgadis more so concluded than asked. "But you can't possibly be thinking about reasoning with that thing. Then what could you have in mind?"
Seeing as the strategic discussion was in session, Zelas took a seat at the table. Zelgadis and Philionel, who had previously stood up with the shock of her sudden arrival, sat down as well. "Let's review the vital points briefly, so as to not make this too long. The Stillness was initially broken into three pieces. One of those fragments, Lamentation, fused with the remains of the Green Alchemist. It is very likely, and thus let us assume it happened, that the second portion of the Stillness, the Void, has fused with Lamentation. The final piece, the End, remains separate. As long as one piece is not destroyed, the others will return. The End is well hidden and killing the host will only cause it to reappear in a new host. The most effective strategy to permanently defeating the Stillness without risking a repeat performance of this a few years, or perhaps months later, is to kill the three pieces as one. Only then will it be the true Stillness that is beaten."
The tension in the air increased as Phil put on his rare serious face and Zelgadis' mind raced. "This means you know who the host is."
"Naturally," Zelas confirmed. "Since I know you people have your annoying little morals and what not, let me put those inconveniences to rest by truthfully pointing out that the host is willing to help out with all the needed plans and procedures. You need not take my word for it and may speak to her directly if you wish. That aside, the point is that the dormant End needs to be fused with the rest of the Stillness right before the battle. The Stillness might see the disadvantages of this and resist, which is why we need a powerful combination spell that binds the three pieces as one. This is the same basic concept as the procedures of chimeras."
Zelgadis frowned at where the conversation was going. "Do you think I know the secret? Do you think I made myself this way on purpose?" He questioned, his tone of voice rising with emotion. Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he concluded. "I have come to accept the way I am, but I did not wish for it."
"I'm aware of that," Zelas simply stated. "Though I have made chimeras before, I've had no reason to conduct extensive research on the subject, or to try to achieve instant combinations. On this occasion, however, it will be needed. There's no time left to figure it out, whenever a path opens towards the Stillness, it must be taken immediately. The best way to go about it is to borrow someone else's research, or better yet, get the information directly from the researcher."
A name came into Zelgadis' mind, the name of the man who had made him this way. A man he once admired deeply, then loathe deeply. A man who was consumed by grief and frustration... no, what truly consumed him was Shabranigdu. Zelgadis could almost see himself holding that jar, wanting to destroy it that time, and yet... "Rezo."
"Yes," Zelas confirmed. Phil opened his mouth as if to speak, then seemed to think better of it and closed it again.
"Rezo is dead, he's been dead for a long time now," Zelgadis stated dryly.
"That has not stopped him from coming back before, has it?" Zelas reminded.
Zelgadis felt his whole body tense up. "You've revived him?"
"Not exactly, but I did manage to call his spirit back to the world of the living," Zelas explained. "He refuses to share his knowledge though," she stated with annoyance. "Plus since he is a dead spirit with no physical body to torture and no life to threaten, there's really not much I can do in the way of convincing him to cooperate. Just keeping his spirit around when he wants to do nothing but rest in the Sea of Chaos is difficult enough as it is."
"The Sea of Chaos?" Phil couldn't help it but to voice.
"Yes, that is where spirits go before they are reborn apparently. In my quest for information about the Stillness I've learned quite a bit about the world. Anyway, that's not the point," Zelas continued, getting back into the main topic they were discussing. "The only thing that got Rezo's attention was when I mentioned you. I brought you into the conversation as a hostage, but rather than acknowledging my threat, the stubborn old fool said he wanted to see you, then he said that he shouldn't. Then it all turned into the ramblings of an indecisive spirit from that point on. It should be noted that the mere mention of your name rattled him. That is why I'm sure that you're the only one who can get that stubborn fool to cooperate."
Zelgadis sat in shock for several long minutes. He shook his head slightly, his eyes on the map on the table, he couldn't look at Zelas' demanding expression and very much less at Phil's supportive and understanding eyes. "I never thought I would have to speak to him again. I never thought I would be able to."
"The best part is that you don't have a choice!" Zelas chirped with the same mocking cheer that Xellos often displayed with equally inappropriate timing. "If we don't take this step to ensure victory, the world will be destroyed anyway and you'll die." It would all return to the Sea of Chaos... but that wasn't the true mission of the monsters. Keeping the chaos going in the world for as long as possible creating the conflict that fuel evolution; that was the true mission of the monsters. Somehow, Zelas knew now. It must have been corrupted over time, but that had to be it and it was so much fun. It wasn't time for the world to restart and would never be time for the chaos to be permanently halted if it was up to her.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 119: Forgive! Put Regret To Rest
Trying to get ready for the upcoming battle against the Stillness, Tiffany underwent many experiments that would prepare her to easily and quickly fuse the end within her with the rest of the Stillness, so that it could be fought and truly defeated as a whole. The experiments did not yield the expected result and time was running out for research, thus Rezo's spirit was summoned for information. However, he refused to cooperate, leaving Zelgadis as the only possible negotiator. That took Zelas to make a visit to Seyruun and order the chimera to speak with his ancestor. Needless to say, the task took Zelgadis completely by surprise.
"Is he still under Shabranigdu's influence somehow?" Zelgadis asked unsure, though he already suspected the answer.
Zelas confirmed his theory. "He is a spirit; he has no physical body and thus no eyes. Shabranigdu might have been so linked to his soul that he even remained when Rezo got a new body, but the situation was different then. This is a spirit called to this world from the great beyond, where the conditions and happenings of this world have no meaning. Rezo is only Rezo; Shabranigdu has no influence over his spirit as it is now. Are you quite done with your useless stalling now?"
Finally lifting his eyes from the map on the table, Zelgadis firmly replied, "yes." The answer was more meaningful than any of those present could guess. "However, I have one condition."
Zelas let out an impatient and exasperated breath, communicating with the expression that she wanted to get this over with and she always got what she wanted. "It's a lie what they say about survival being everything for a mortal if you can still manage to be picky."
"Amelia said she wanted to be there for me. She told me not to keep anything bottled up when we told each other all about our pasts. She asked me to promise her I would allow her to be there for me and I... I think I really do need her there," Zelgadis confessed.
"Such a strong bond," Philionel sighed filled with emotion. "My dear son, you keep proving time and again that you really are my little girl's destined love. Such deep trust!"
Zelas rolled her eyes mockingly with a slightly disgusted expression as if she had caught the scent of something foul. "Alright, alright, hold back on the cheese. You can bring your girlfriend along to stand beside you and hold your hand if that'll make it any better. Just make sure you don't fail to get the needed information out of him. I'll be waiting at the tallest tower; there should be some nice fresh air of depression blowing from there."
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Making an impatient monster lord wait for too long was definitely a bad idea and Zelgadis wasn't about to make that mistake. He found Amelia as soon as he could, following the directions of the various dwellers of Seyruun castle, asking if anyone had seen her. When he finally arrived in her presence, he found her at one of the many tea rooms of the castle, drinking a cup of rather clear looking tea with Pokota and his father. He stood at the door so silently, that he went unnoticed to the quiet conversation taking place in the room. This was his problem; Rezo was his relative, the burden of his past. He shouldn't be throwing this at Amelia no matter how much she insisted that she wanted to help and no matter how much Philionel seemed to encourage it.
Zelgadis shifted uncomfortably, still not perceived by the three people sitting around a small table in the victorian style decorated room. "Ah, there you are!" Philionel appeared at the doorway."
Zelgadis jumped aside in surprise, though to Amelia, Pokota and the Taforashian king, it looked like Philionel and Zelgadis had arrived at the exact same time. Only Phil seemed to be aware of Zelgadis' hesitation. After giving the guest a polite smile and nod that indicated he would be with them in a moment, he placed one of his massive hands on Zelgadis' shoulder, quietly encouraging him in a hushed whisper, so that only he would hear. "Amelia would always talk about how she wanted you to open up to her, I'm certain she's overjoyed that you have." With that said, Phil walked into the room and greeted the Taforashia royals. The Seyruun prince and acting king, excused himself for not being there to receive the guests upon their initial arrival and casually joined them for tea. He hinted that Amelia had some important business to take care of with Zelgadis.
Though Amelia had no idea what business she was supposed to be taking care of, she played along and excused herself from the meeting, leaving her father to tend to the guests, while she exited the room with Zelgadis. Once the doors to the tea room had been closed and the pair was walking down the castle hallways, Amelia inquired. "Did something happen?"
"I... have to talk to Rezo," Zelgadis confessed, with so little detail to it that Amelia wasn't sure she heard right.
"You mean about Rezo?" The princess gently inquired, because talking to Rezo seemed like quite a difficult, if not impossible task, given that, to the best of her knowledge, he had died for the final time. "I'm here to listen." Then again, Rezo seemed to have a thing for coming back to life one way or another. "You did mean, talk about Rezo, right? Because it kind of sounded like you said talk to Rezo."
"That's what I said," Zelgadis confirmed. He then retold the whole explanation of the story Zelas had told him, as they made their way towards the area where the monster lord would be waiting for them, the tallest tower of Seyruun castle.
Amelia was left in shock, with a million thoughts running through her head all at once. "I think we should definitely talk to the host of the End first, just to make sure Miss Zelas isn't sugar coating the willingness to participate in this."
"Given the state of things, there's not much of a choice..." Zelgadis truthfully pointed out.
"That's true, this is a very sad sacrifice and I don't feel okay with it, but I know it can't be stopped," Amelia frowned with a serious face that didn't fit her. "The world isn't always just," she bitterly confessed. "Nonetheless, if we could make the host understand, make sure this noble and inevitable sacrifice is completely willing, to point out the heroic value of it all, then maybe that will be a consolation for the host... and for me."
"Zelas did say it was okay, so we can do that before going to Rezo." There was no real way to procrastinate for too long, but at that moment, to put off the meeting for even a few more minutes into the future, seemed like an effort worth pursuing for Zelgadis.
"Right, and when we do go talk to him, I'll be right there with you." Amelia linked her arm with Zelgadis as they walked, resting her head on his shoulder and catching a glimpse of a slight smile on his face. Her gestures of trust and closeness, of love, always seemed to put him at ease. "I'm actually glad you'll get this chance. You can get everything off your chest and the one listening won't be under Shabranigdu's influence. You'll finally get to talk to the real Rezo again.
"The real Rezo... I don't know if this real Rezo is any different from the one I hated." Zelgadis bitterly confessed, his mind going back to that time when he stole the jar again. "I spoke to him when he was in the jar and he wasn't under Shabranigdu's influence then. I know it's important that I get this information from him, but it's the very technique which turned me into a chimera. Something like that should have gone with Rezo to the grave, a grave he should have stayed in. What if the information is misused? We're basically putting it all in the hands of a monster lord."
"That's true," Amelia grimly acknowledged. "But what else can we do right now? This is the only way to save the world; we'll have to deal with the aftermath later. Whatever comes, as long as we live, we can face it."
Zelgadis allowed Amelia's positive influence to surround him. "Yeah, you're right. This isn't about me, it's about the world. I think I can go talk to Rezo now, but first, we'll see the host of the End."
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Amelia and Zelgadis arrived at the tallest tower of Seyruun castle, where they heard a very unexpected earsplitting howl. It somehow managed to sound elegant and majestic while still being completely terrifying, violent and threatening. Their ears were still ringing when Lina made her escape from the tower's balcony. "Gourry keeps polishing his sword over and over, I actually considered laughing lessons from Naga and now Zelas is howling at the moon in the middle of the day! I'm going to take a nap and try to salvage some of my sanity!" The frustrated redhead darted past Amelia and Zelgadis in a rush.
Ignoring Lina's outburst, Naga cheerfully exclaimed. "That was awesome! I want to learn to howl like that! Let me try!"
"No!" Amelia and Zelgadis interrupted in a unanimous attempt to save their ability to hear. They could still hear Zelas' howl echoing in their heads and while the effect of Naga's howl couldn't be any worse, it certainly wouldn't make their instant headaches any better.
"You'll have to show me what you have later; I have some business to tend to with these two right now." Zelas left, fading to the astral side along with Zelgadis and Amelia.
"I'll keep practicing!" Naga cheered and proceeded to begin what would turn out to be a long, and for the city torturous, howling practice session.
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Amelia and Zelgadis were first taken to the chamber where Tiffany was. "Hear it to believe it," Zelas stated as they reappeared out of the astral side. The fact that she was a tricky monster and known as such by the group made it obvious that they would need to hear Tiffany assure that she was willing to go with the plan before they believed a word of it.
Zelgadis and Amelia couldn't help it but to turn surprised expressions at Tiffany at first. The golden dragon walked a few steps towards them, showing with the movement that though she was very exhausted, as it was to be expected, she was not injured in any way. "Hello," she greeted casually. Her voice seemed to be the only thing that remained unchanged in her. Her eyes were swirls of pink and green with small golden specks. Her hair was completely white and recently cut short to keep it out of the way as the experiments progressed. One of her arms seemed to be made of wood, her wolf-like ears had leaves on them and her face was very wolf-like as well. Her skin's color had a green tint that reached slight shades of yellow in random areas.
"Miss Tiffany!" Amelia exclaimed, trying to break the ice and get herself out of her surprise. The princess didn't need to ask Tiffany if she was willingly going through this because it was obvious. Tiffany did not have the look in her face of someone who had no choice but to go along with the circumstances, she was determined and strong. "What you're doing for the world is very noble, but it also makes me sad because..." she would have to die.
"I've known of what is inside me for many years," Tiffany revealed, which brought a new wave of surprise to Amelia and Zelgadis. "I have lived for longer than I expected and though like anyone, I would like to experience more, I am satisfied with my life. I can do this; I can face what I must." She paused and allowed her gaze to travel from Amelia to Zelgadis. "I don't know the specific details between you and Rezo and I only know of Rezo from what I've heard of him." Admittedly, those accounts might be incomplete or written to be perceived in certain ways and Tiffany was aware of that. "What I do know is that you're most likely the only one who can get him to speak. I tried to talk to him myself, to tell him no one was forcing me to do this. He disregarded everything, even the world, and only wanted to speak to you."
"He wants to talk to me that badly? Even if there's nothing to say?" Zelgadis mused aloud, more so to himself than to anyone else. Yet he knew that was a lie, there was in fact a lot to say. There was so much to say that an entire lifetime might not be enough. "There's no use in postponing this." He nodded at Tiffany and glanced at Amelia's kind supporting eyes. Then taking a deep breath, he bestowed an expectant look upon Zelas, who was standing in a relaxed position with her eyes closed as if meditating. "Ehem," Zelgadis cleared his throat.
Upon the sound, Zelas opened her eyes and took in a satisfied breath, as one would take in after enjoying a meal. "Oh, I was just enjoying that feeling of fear, dread and sadness around you," the monster lord admitted. "Do you know what could be good right about now? To sit in my throne enjoying a big helping of your negative feelings and a good cigarette. I haven't been smoking much lately because I've been so busy thinking of other things, I just haven't had the time. Ah well, I suppose such things will have to wait even more. Let's be on our way." Zelas moved her passengers swiftly through the astral side again, this time taking Tiffany along with Amelia and Zelgadis.
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Zelas, Amelia, Zelgadis and Tiffany appeared in a room covered in gray stones. It was dimly lit, with many platforms surrounding a deep circular hole on the ground where the stone floor ended. Swirls of many colors emanated from the clear crystals that were piled into the hole, giving the chamber a very ethereal feeling. The sight was both beautiful and frightening. An assortment of monsters, some with wolf-like features, other so strange they were unidentifiable and others covered by cloaks, stood on the platforms maintaining a unanimous quiet yet ominous chant of words neither Amelia nor Zelgadis understood. Even if they had spoken aloud, they wouldn't have understood the ancient language anyway.
Among the wisps of light that floated out of the many crystals in the chamber that seemed to go up eternally into pitch blackness, there was a ghostly figure. The spirit of Rezo had taken a form, visible in a semi-transparent silhouette that looked like the man had when he was alive. It was only a projection of the mind and as such, details such as hair style and clothing were crafted from what was most common in the mind of the spirit. The one big difference, which Zelgadis noticed right away, was that Rezo's eyes were open, gazing right at him.
"You may step onto the crystals," Zelas quietly prompted. She and Tiffany stood aside and watched the scene unfold.
Without letting go of Amelia's hand, Zelgadis stepped forward to the edge of the hole filled with the crystals and the mysterious twirling ribbons of light that they gave off, changing colors and fading a few feed above the source. He paused and slowly released her hand, taking a few uneasy steps on the crystals as if he was worried that he would sink into them. The chimera slowly maintained his balance, careful not to fall, and took another few steps forward towards the center of the chamber where Rezo's summoned spirit waited.
Amelia soon crossed the threshold of the gray stone and made her way towards Zelgadis on the crystals, carefully keeping her balance at a measured pace. Zelgadis looked back at her as if saying he could do this. Amelia nodded as if saying that she knew, but wanted to be there for him anyway. She stood still, her eyes on him, until he nodded and held out his hand to her, inviting her to join his side. Hand in hand they stood before Rezo who seemed to smile at seeing Zelgadis holding hands with Amelia.
Zelgadis tried to find the words to say, but instead he found himself staring at Rezo's actions as he picked up one of the crystals despite his hands being see-through and ghostly. The clear crystal glowed with black light as a red liquid seemed to spread inside it like blood, even if the crystal looked solid. Finally the crystal was no longer clear, but pure red with a golden glow around it. The red priest addressed Zelas, "the information that is needed is contained in this crystal. Someone of your power will have no problem accessing it." Rezo tossed the crystal up where it was caught by a red parrot that was hiding in the darkness watching the scene. The parrot took the crystal to Beast Master and perched himself on her shoulder.
The ghost of Rezo then turned his attention to Zelgadis one last time before he began to fade away. Taken aback, Zelgadis tried to stop him. "Wait! You tell me to come here and then you don't say anything to me? Why didn't you just give up the information this easily before? You know what's going on, don't you? You know this is to save the world!"
"I wanted to make sure that the world was worth saving," Rezo explained.
"As if it should be your choice!" Zelgadis reprimanded. He didn't mean for this to turn into a discussion that involved shouting, but he was just too upset by what he perceived to be extreme arrogance.
"If this world still only offered you grief, then it should be destroyed," Rezo elaborated. "If you must exist in sorrow, then let the Stillness consume the world and even the very Sea of Chaos if possible. It is not my choice, it is yours. I see now that you've found a reason to want to be in this world. I see that you are living rather than only surviving. You no longer pursue mere unimportant necessities or perceived necessities; you pursue something far greater than necessities, a true desire."
Zelgadis opened his mouth to speak again, but wasn't sure how to react. A necessity was something people pursued simply to keep on living or to get through a situation, because they felt that they had no choice. Desires were pursued with a passion, with energy, with eager willingness, they were indeed more precious. But how did all of that apply to him? Zelgadis felt Amelia's hand in his and thought of all the time he spent away from her looking for his cure, even if he wanted to be with her. His so called necessities no longer controlled him. He was after what really mattered now, what he wanted, what made him happy. "So you just would have let the world be destroyed, worse yet erased, if I wasn't happy?"
"Yes," Rezo's spirit answered without hesitation. "For all that I took away from you; this is the least I could give you. Now I must go, after seeing this... Though I still hold many regrets... Maybe..." The ghost continued to fade away.
Zelgadis watched in astonishment and let out a barely audible whisper, "rest in peace..." At that moment, the monsters' negative emotion snacks were ruined as a sense of peace and closure invaded the room.
Just as Rezo faded away completely, Zelgadis thought he heard his voice reply. "I think I finally can..."
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 120: Identity! Name It And You'll Get Attached
"So the Nameless Beast is you, but also the opposite of you?" Filia inquired during one of her conversations with Xellos in their pink and purple room at Seyruun castle, concerning the mysterious being.
"What would you call a creature like that?" Xellos wondered with curiosity.
"Isn't he already called the Nameless Beast?" Filia reminded. "Unless he is literally nameless, rather than nameless being his name. I thought things like Nameless, Nothing, Nobody, No-one and such names would be proper names that the minions of the Stillness would have, it fits the theme."
"I think in this case it means he is literally nameless and Nameless Beast is just a term to call him something," Xellos determined. "Things would get confusing if the Stillness called all its followers 'hey you' after all," he chuckled, finding humor in a situation that was too gloomy to be humorous for most.
"You and the opposite of you... Monster and dragon... I'm not sure what to call him, if he's really your opposite maybe Sollex would be okay, it reminds me of our visit to Luna. Make it Solex, with one l, just so that it's different," Filia mused aloud.
"One changed letter is supposed to make it more original?" Xellos teased.
"Oh quiet you," Filia retorted. "What would you name him?"
"I would name him Stupid, after you," Xellos replied sweetly.
"You already named Fili after me," Filia reminded. "He can choose a name for himself later. After Lina shared her theories, I think it's worth a try bringing him to our side."
"Maybe he can be persuaded," Xellos agreed, then added in a barely audible whisper. "But he cannot give himself a name, he cannot make himself complete; only his true master can complete him, if it is convenient..."
"What was that?" Filia raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "What were you muttering about just now, raw garbage? What are you plotting to do?"
"Nothing at all, stupid dragon." The intonation turned the words from lies to sarcasm, by making it purposely obvious that they were not true. Xellos wrapped his arms around Filia and let his most enjoyable tactics of distraction take over, exploring every inch of exposed skin with his lips and uncovering more as he went along. This would not only distract her, but it would very much distract him as she was eager to respond, encouraging his journey through her body and going on a journey of her own.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at Seyruun castle... "Grandpa!" Amelia's pain-stricken voice echoed all over the hallways as she went. She and Zelgadis had returned from Wolf Pack Island teleported back into Seyruun castle via the astral side by Zelas. Their arrival was not a pleasant one, as Amelia found the royal attendants buzzing about busily to prepare for the tragic event that would send the kingdom into a further depression. The king had passed away and his funeral was to be held soon.
The Seyruun princess skidded to a sudden stop as she turned a corner to take a moment to think in the middle of her pained disorientation. As she halted suddenly, she flailed her arms for balance, instinctively placed a hand on the wall, then took off in another dash down a different hallway, having decided that was the way she should go. Zelas couldn't miss out on the banquet of grief and followed Amelia, comically imitating her movements like in a twisted game of Simon Says. The monster lord was completely ignoring Zelgadis who was, by this point, almost begging her not to make things worse for Amelia. Of course, his plea was totally overlooked.
Amelia finally arrived at the king's chambers. She stopped in front of the partially open door, listening to the sound of crying coming from inside. Zelas halted her advanced next to the princess, standing with her arms at her sides as she was. They took simultaneous deep breaths and straightened their clothing and hair, though in Zelas case it was unnecessary. Amelia placed her right hand over her heart as did Zelas, or at least the monster lord placed her hand over where a heart would be if she had it. "Grandpa..." Amelia whispered softly and solemnly. Zelas moved her lips in imitation, but without producing a single sound.
Amelia turned to look at Zelgadis, who had been following her, not noticing that Xellos was approaching from the other side of the hallway. Amelia wiped her tears, hoping to become a pillar of strength for her family when she entered the chambers. Zelas made a tear wiping motion to mimic her, even though her face was perfectly dry. By then, Xellos was standing next to his master, watching the scene unfold curiously, as he quietly inquired. "Are we playing Follow the Leader?"
Zelgadis hugged Amelia, who buried her face on his chest, while he alternated between giving warning and pleading gazes to the monsters over her shoulder. "Something like that," Zelas mimicked the princess again and pretended to seek comfort in her general. "Where's your pet? She always gives things an interesting flavor."
"Filia has been asked to perform a prayer for the late king," Xellos explained. "She's getting into the royal robes that are traditional in Seyruun for the person leading the prayers of a big event like this to wear." Xellos' voice was as expected, very cheerful. It sounded like he was announcing a party rather than a funeral.
Amelia parted from the hug and looked determined to be strong, though there was still regret in her eyes. She probably wouldn't forgive herself for not being there when her grandfather passed away. She had gone to see him earlier, but her visit was short, since she was busy with everything else that was happening. She nodded at Zelgadis, indicating that she was ready to enter the royal chambers. At the same time, Zelas released Xellos from their hug and nodded, copying the princess' expression, which further amused the general.
Amelia entered the royal chambers holding Zelgadis hand and Zelas followed the motion with Xellos. They even stepped at the same time and glanced in the same directions. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here," Amelia spoke with Zelas mimicking her expression and the movement of her lips perfectly, but without any sounds. Zelgadis kept giving the monster lord upset looks, which Xellos copied to perfection.
"Little sister!" Naga, who looked like she was about to make Gravos suffocate with the way she had her arms wrapped around his neck, subbing into his chest, finally released her boyfriend from the death trap of her embrace and gave her younger sister a big bear hug. "Grandpa knew you were doing something important, and he was able to see you earlier, so don't feel bad." Breaking away from the mirror move pattern, Zelas instead made quiet dramatic motions as if choking to death this time.
"Your sister is right, daddy passed away knowing that somehow we would bring peace back to Seyruun." Philionel was actually the one crying the loudest. He looked tough, but he was a big softie on the inside. He held Fili in his arms as if she was a living plush toy. Pokota was all too grateful when the cub relieved him of his confort toy role a few minutes ago. There was the fact that the king probably would have lived longer if not for all the trouble that was all over the world. His medicine could no longer be produced, as the herbs became unavailable. Plus the gloomy atmosphere wasn't doing wonders for his fragile health. Yet no one wanted to mention that, because the fact was that the king was gone. Thinking of the what ifs that couldn't be achieved would just give everyone more sorrow.
xoxox xox xoxox
Philionel, Amelia and Naga tried to pull themselves together so that the king's body, which was still on his bed in his chambers, could be prepared for the funeral. Zelgadis, Gravos and Filia did their best to console them, while Zelas and Xellos kept playing their strange little mimic game. Meanwhile, Pokota and his father were getting ready to attend the funeral and offer Taforashia's official condolences. They were also busy preparing a speech to give in the late king's honor as it was traditional for other countries to do when a royal of an allied kingdom passed away. While all of that was taking place, Lina, Gourry, Jillas, Elena and Palou were already at the temple where the prayers would be given, helping make sure the structure was ready.
Simultaneously, Filia was in her and Xellos' room at the castle. She had put on the royal robes of a priestess of Ceifeed from Seyruun. Xellos would probably make fun of her, but that wasn't really what worried her. She was no longer a priestess of the Fire Dragon, but as a golden dragon, she could still easily come up with a proper prayer to give. That was not the problem; the problem was that all of this got her thinking about the losses that could never be recovered and about the fact that even if they defeated the Stillness, the world would be left in shambles. Could it still be saved or would it be inevitably condemned to a slower death?
Filia sighed and took one last look at herself in the full length mirror, making sure she was wearing the white, golden lined robes and all their accessories properly. She straightened the crest of Seyruun on her chest and was about to turn away from the mirror when she saw something peculiar reflected behind her. The shape of a person emerged seemingly out of thin air, out of the astral side. It was a man quite similar to Xellos, but it wasn't Xellos. His hair was purple with two strands of gold, framing his face, while the rest was held in a low ponytail. His eyes were very much like Xellos' eyes as a monster with their long pupils, but his ears were long and pointy, very much like hers.
The mysterious man, whom Filia identified as being the Nameless Beast, held a mace much like her own. He swung the weapon at her strongly, as if trying to decapitate her and that was probably indeed his intention. Filia ducked and jumped out of the way as the weapon collided with the mirror behind her and shattered it. "You're the Nameless Beast," she was seeing him for the first time and it felt quite surprising even if she already knew what he looked like from the descriptions the others provided.
"Don't call me that, don't mock me!" The Nameless Beast shouted angrily. "Where is Xellos? I can feel it, I can feel traces of his energy on you, it's all over the surface of your body. He was near you not long ago."
Filia blushed upon remembering just what they were doing before a messenger started knocking on the door to bring the tragic news of the king's death. She tried to take the opportunity to reason with him, embarrassment aside, it didn't look like the Nameless Beast had a proper explanation or theory about why Xellos' energy was on her anyway. It was probably like the astral version of a scent that physical beings couldn't quite perceive, like traces of an aura. "Listen, we don't have to be enemies. Why don't you join us?"
"It's too late! I have already lived incomplete long enough. This is all Xellos' fault and he must pay. I will not forgive him. He wants me to disappear anyway, doesn't he? Well he can have it, he can have all his power back, I don't care!" The Nameless Beast revealed that he was carrying the black cone jewel. "I refuse to feed off his power further. The power that I have of my own, what was created by the fusion, it is not much now, but it will grow. I'm no ordinary monster; I can grow in power as I go through life. Just like a dragon, my power is not determined upon creation. I don't need this!"
As the Nameless Beast prepared to throw away the necklace with the precious gem that contained Xellos' power, Filia grabbed it. "Give it to me, this is important; you can't just throw it away. Please listen to me," Filia tried to continue reasoning with him.
"Why shouldn't I throw away his power?" The Nameless Beast yelled, "Master Xellos threw me away!"
"No he didn't!" Now Filia saw exactly what Lina meant when she said the Nameless Beast was like an upset child. "You were made from Xellos' energy and golden dragon energy by the Stillness. Xellos did not will for it to happen, but he has no reason to hate you simply because you exist. He might have been worried about his power, but if you return it to him, I'm sure he'll appreciate it. You can join us; we can save the world and live happily as a family."
The Nameless Beast paused unsure. "I know Xellos is my master, but I have the energy of someone else in me too. I recognize it now, the sample of the energy and scales of a golden dragon that was used in my accidental creation... I know it now for certain, it was you."
"Me?" Filia gasped. She had been in many battles, so she supposed it to be possible that a sample could have been extracted from her at some point. "You are part Xellos and part me?"
"I'm a nameless freak..." The Nameless Beast grimaced. He returned his mace to his belt, not bothering to try to recover the black cone gem from Filia. He turned away as if to leave. "I need to get my revenge, I'm so angry at Xellos for allowing me to exist without a name. That's all I have in life, the need to get revenge and nothing more."
"It doesn't have to be that way!" Filia insisted. It broke her heart to see him like this especially because she was reminded of Valgaav.
At that very moment the door to the purple and pink room was opened by Xellos. He had been sent away to see if Filia was ready after the group at the king's chambers had left towards the temple where the prayers would take place, where the king's coffin would be set up soon. "Stupid dragon! They want to know if you're ready to whine at a dead shinzoku about the dead king!" That was Xellos' way to ask if Filia was ready to pray to Ceifeed in the late Seyruun king's funeral. He was surprised to find, none other than the Nameless Beast there along with Filia.
"Xellos!" The Nameless Beast drew his mace again and went on the attack.
Xellos didn't flinch; he simply pointed his right index finger at the Nameless Beast and calmly spoke a single word, a name, "Solex."
Filia freaked out and scrambled to stop the Nameless Beast from harming the human Xellos. However, she soon realized that her interference would not be necessary. The Nameless Beast was frozen in place, with his mace inches away from Xellos' face. He slowly lowered the weapon and placed it back on his belt, his gazed becoming fixed on the floor for a long moment. "Solex..." The no longer nameless monster dragon repeated. "Solex," he spoke the name once more, feeling like a complete being for the first time in his entire short existence. He finally lifted his eyes to look at Xellos and smiled, "I like it."
Filia's jaw dropped as she switched back and forth from looking at Xellos and looking at the newly named Solex with puzzlement in her eyes. "What just happened?"
"I completed him," Xellos simply stated. "It is quite painful for a monster to exist without an identity. For an astral being, or one who is similar to an astral being, a name is very important. Those who have no real physical bodies to hold on to, hold on to their names even more. A monster is not a complete being until its master grants that monster a name, an acknowledgement of existence."
"So... Solex, you're not angry at Xellos anymore?" Filia inquired hopefully.
"I suppose I could forgive him," Solex decided. "Besides, you're my master in a sense too and you seem nice."
Filia shook her head, "I'm not your master, I'm your mother." Xellos raised a curious eyebrow as he listened to her go on. "You're a combination of Xellos and me, so you're our son. We can all live happily together as a family. I can't wait to introduce you to your brother Val, your cousin Palou and all your uncles and aunts!"
"Aren't you getting a little carried away, stupid dragon?" Xellos tried to get a word in, but Filia's mind was already made up.
"So... I'm your child?" Solex mused. "I suppose I should take on a more fitting form." He changed his appearance to that of a younger version of himself. He still had the same face, the same pointy ears, the same mischievous eyes and the same hair. The difference was that he was a whole lot smaller, appearing to be no older than a four year old human boy. It all made the mace he carried looked oversized in comparison to his new small body.
"Aw!" With her eyes shining with motherly pride, Filia hugged Solex, welcoming him into their odd little family.
"You're already attached, aren't you?" Xellos correctly concluded. "By the way, stupid dragon, what's that black jewel in your hand?"
"Oh, this," Filia seemed to remember just what she was holding and its significance. She gave the black cone gem to Xellos. "Here's your power back, Solex returned it."
"I can't reabsorb it now, not until this is over, but it's still good to know it's not in the enemy's hands anymore," Xellos voiced. With an inquisitive look he asked about a very important matter that had been hanging in the balance during this whole plan. "Solex, do you know how to enter the fortress of the Stillness?"
"Of course I know how, I had to learn the spell to unlock a gateway so I could go in and out of there," Solex confirmed. "The Stillness is your enemy, right, dad? I can tell you all about the gateway spell. We can storm the place any time!"
Oh great, now his minion was calling him dad, at least Filia seemed to think it was cute. Then again, Xellos had realized some time ago that his life would be nothing like the ordinary life of a monster. A monster with a family and friends? Now that was strange, yet oddly fun. "This is definitely important news. Filia, go take care of business with the dead king and while you're at it, inform everyone of this development. I'm pretty sure Beast Master is still in the castle. I have to take Solex to see her."
Filia nodded as the truth of the situation finally sunk in. all the pieces were at last in place. "Does this mean that...?" She didn't even need to finish the question for it to be obvious what she was going to ask.
"Yes," Xellos confirmed with more eagerness than most would have to face such a situation. "The final battle is at last upon us," or so he thought, yet nothing was ever easy anymore.
To be Continued