As it always happened, it didn't take long for Xellos to annoy Filia into raising the volume of her voice. "That's not it!" Filia yelled, quickly covering her mouth to avoid waking Val and Palou. "You know that's not what I mean, raw garbage." Surprisingly it was Filia who got the conversation back on track, only because she wanted to get away from the embarrassing topic of her nonexistent attraction towards Xellos. "What were you saying about business?"
Right, it was time to go out with it. "I want you to talk some sense into Milgazia."
That took Filia by surprise. "What do you mean?"
"I know this sounds crazy and believe me it is, but the truth of the matter is that Zelas and Milgazia are... well... a couple," Xellos painfully push the words out with a clear look of intense disgust on his face.
"Excuse me?" Filia blinked.
"You heard me," Xellos insisted. "I'm not repeating such a nasty thing."
"Calumny!" Towards both sides, ironically. "I should wash your mouth with soap!" Filia reproached in the same tone Amelia used for her justice speeches.
"I'm tempted to let you," Xellos considered, quickly dismissing the silly thought. "I wouldn't say such terrible things about Beast Master if it wasn't true. You know I wouldn't, don't you?"
"I suppose..." Filia mused. "Then that means..." Her eyes widened as her expression turned shocked. "It's true?" She finished in an almost fearful whisper of disbelief.
Xellos nodded solemnly. "Beast Master won't listen to me. I can't argue with her about this, but maybe you can bring up a convincing argument to Milgazia. This is bad for both of us. I know you're not really involved with the golden dragons anymore, but I heard rumors that you've been to Dragon's Peak recently, so you must have spoken to Milgazia."
"Yes..." Filia admitted. Being open minded about Val was one thing, but being open minded about nonsensical inappropriate relationships with high ranking monsters was crossing the line. "You're honestly not lying about this?" Filia knew he wasn't, this was too much, even for Xellos. "Alright, I'll talk to Milgazia and try to give him some advice, I'll head out today."
Good, now Xellos only had to wait for Milgazia to realize how stupid he was being, breakup with Zelas and possibly end up as the main ingredient of her next batch of dragon cuisine. This was turning out better than Xellos expected. Now that it was all said and done, he was actually glad he went to Filia with his problem.
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This time, Filia told her family where she was going, albeit she didn't say why she was going to see Milgazia and everyone assumed it was a simple social visit. Filia began to address the difficult subject over a cup of tea, she and Milgazia were inside his house, alone, where no one could overhear their conversation. "I've been thinking..." Filia shifted uncomfortably and fell into silence, staring at her tea.
"Yes?" Milgazia gently prompted her to continue after a long silence, but it wasn't working. "Filia, it's alright, you can be honest. Say whatever is on your mind, I won't take it badly. Don't be afraid to be direct. Honesty is the best way to say things."
Filia nodded and took a deep breath. "Alright, here goes. I've been thinking about dragons and monsters and how different they are. To put it directly, no offense, with all due respect..." After much stuttering and stumbling over her words, Filia finally let it out. "I don't think a romantic relationship between a monster and a dragon could work out!"
"I see," though he was surprised by Filia's outburst, ever the diplomat, Milgazia took it in stride. "I admit I agree with you. Although it is important to respect each individual's decisions. Every person has the right to be the architect of their own future." Naturally, Milgazia assumed that Filia was talking about herself, going to him as a fellow golden dragon for advice. He didn't know if her memories were back or not, but she had to be informed about her marriage to Xellos if she was talking about this.
"Yes, I can agree with that too," Filia admitted, feeling like she wasn't going anywhere with this. "It's just that... well... making things work out..." She fell into another long and uncomfortable silence.
"If it is that uncomfortable, there's always divorce," Milgazia suggested as gently as he could. "But that's a very personal decision, as is marriage. It is important to be careful about who you hold on to and even more careful about who you let go."
Filia's jaw dropped. Milgazia was thinking about marrying Zelas already? "That's fast, don't you think?"
"Excuse me," Milgazia apologized, interpreting Filia's surprise as if it were offense. He didn't want to make her feel pressured when she had come looking for support and he did want to offer her friendship. "Maybe it would be best to move slowly and see how things work out before making a choice. Considering every possibility is a vital part of careful decision making."
"Yes," Filia paused, realizing what she was agreeing to. "I mean no! The choice should be obvious. I mean really."
Diplomacy was one thing, but romantic advice was a whole different challenge. Milgazia wasn't sure what to say that didn't sound biased. "Sometimes the obvious turns out to be a mistake and the real answer is revealed later."
Filia tried to come up with a counter argument but she couldn't. Why did Milgazia have to sound ever so wise, cool, calm and collected? He didn't sound like someone who was being manipulated by inappropriate desires towards a monster lord. At that point Filia blushed and lowered her face to stare at her tea.
"Filia?" She still obviously liked Xellos, or so Milgazia assumed. "Follow your heart; I've heard that's the best advice."
"Yes..." Filia nodded and that was the end of her mission. She couldn't do this; Milgazia had a counter argument for everything and that made her go in circles. He was like a less obnoxious and more diplomatic version of Xellos in that she couldn't argue with either of them. Then again, they really weren't similar and they would probably both be offended if she said they were. The rest of Filia's short visit to Dragon's Peak went by uneventfully.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days later, Filia was at her shop at Seyruun one fine afternoon when Xellos showed up unexpectedly. "Filia..." He said in an overly sweet sing-song tone through unfitting gritted teeth right in Filia's ear, making her drop the vase she was holding. "I thought we had a deal."
"Don't sneak up on me!" Filia snapped as she began to clean up the broken vase. "I tried, I really did." This wasn't a complete surprise, she expected Xellos to show up to criticize her incompetence in persuading Milgazia to join the sane side of the world. She just didn't know when he would come. It figured his timing would be just right to make her drop something breakable. "Milgazia has a counter argument for everything and I don't mean smart-aleck comebacks like yours." Why did she ever think of comparing them before? "I mean deep wise sounding stuff that could be written in a fortune cookie."
"If you can't argue with a fortune cookie you really are stupid," Xellos grumbled in annoyance. "So much for our alliance."
"It's not over," Filia threw the broken pieces of the shattered vase into the trashcan. "First of all, you're paying for the broken base, and second, we're going to sit down and strategize. We have a common goal to achieve, to make Zelas and Milgazia breakup as quickly and quietly as possible. After all, it would be bad for both their reputations if their relationship was known."
Not commenting on the part about the vase, Xellos grinned mischievously and extended his hand. "Partners?"
To his surprise, Filia actually shook Xellos' hand, "partners." Thus a new alliance was formed, by two peculiar partners in crime with a single goal in mind, to make Zelas and Milgazia breakup. If only they knew that in reality their relationship was professional with slight hostility and not at all romantic. But alas, they didn't know and they were about to go well out of their way for the sake of righting a wrong that didn't even exist... which made it all the more difficult to correct.
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That morning, Xellos ended up having breakfast with Filia and her family. Val knew they were still playing that odd game about not telling Filia about certain people, so he refrained from calling Xellos, dad, daddy, father or any other such variations in Filia's presence. Nonetheless, the little ancient dragon was very happy to see his father again and celebrated by sharing his tricks with him. Although, Val was so excited over the return of his dad, that he didn't even bother being sneaky.
That led to Xellos with a face full of toast, butter side of course. Which in turn led to Filia attempting to scold Val for trying to create a food fight and failing to sound scolding because she was laughing so much. From that point on, breakfast went on without incident, except for Val's yoyo colliding with Xellos' forehead every now and then. Xellos had a thing or two to say about Filia's parenting skills every time Val misbehaved and Filia always tried to scold Val between giggles, which wasn't very effective. If it was Xellos he was annoying, maybe she could let it pass.
xoxox xox xoxox
After breakfast was done, Xellos and Filia headed over to Seyruun castle, as Filia insisted that Amelia's romantic novel expertise could be very useful in the process of strategizing. They agreed that the couple in question would be kept a secret because really, the less people knew about them the better.
"I don't know if Val is really fond of me or really dislikes me," Xellos mused aloud as he and Filia made their way past the castle gates. The guards already knew them and no one tried to stop them from freely exploring the royal residence.
"I don't think Val actually dislikes anyone," Filia truthfully replied. "He just gets a little mischievous now and then. You should have seen what he did to Milgazia."
"I'm curious," Xellos grinned, encouraging Filia to share the story. He really wanted to hear about Milgazia's misery right now.
"Val played a whole bunch of pranks on him," Filia frowned, remembering her shock at finding out her son was misbehaving so much. "Everything from doodling on his face, to sabotaging his shampoo and even the classic water bucket on top of the door and more! But it all worked out in the end and Milgazia even gave Val a yoyo. I'm telling you, that dragon has the patience of a saint to put up with all that."
"So that's where Val got that yoyo," Xellos grumbled, though another detail also caught his attention. "Milgazia forgave all of that?"
"Yes," Filia nodded.
"I see..." That meant that Xellos playing the role of the impossibly bratty step-son and bombarding Milgazia with a multitude of pranks would not work to make him breakup with Zelas. It was a pity, because that sounded like a pretty good plan, but if Milgazia forgave everything, then it wasn't worth the risk of annoying Zelas with the interference. That was one more plan down the drain, so Xellos really hoped that Filia could use Amelia's information to come up with a good strategy.
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Xellos and Filia arrived at Amelia's room, the door was closed and odd noises could be heard from inside. "Almost there!" That was Zelgadis' voice and he was out of breath.
"Don't stop!" That was Amelia's voice and she was also panting.
"What are they doing?" Filia thought aloud before she could stop herself.
"Isn't it obvious?" Xellos replied with more than Filia wanted to hear. "Spring is early and apparently so is mating season."
Filia's face turned scarlet. "I think we should leave them alone."
Xellos considered it, "maybe..." But he was not the most considerate person around. "Or maybe we should let them know that we're here and we know what they're doing. I can imagine their embarrassed red faces." He grinned in mischievous amusement.
"That's mean!" Filia scolded.
More suspicious noises came from beyond the closed door to the princess' room. "Let's try this, you go on that side and I'll go on this one," a breathless Zelgadis.
"Wait..." Amelia panted. "I have a better idea, let's both go on top."
Xellos blinked, "both on top?"
"That's... well... um..." Filia stuttered.
"How is that even possible?" Xellos inquired to no one in particular.
"I don't know," Filia admitted. "I guess we're still pretty innocent by comparison, aren't we?"
"It's a sad day when a monster is more innocent than a human." Xellos frowned and after a pause he knocked on the door.
"Xellos! Don't interrupt them!" Filia tried to stop him, but it was too late.
"That's it!" Zelgadis let out a breath of tired satisfaction.
"Yes..." Amelia sighed happily. "Thank you so much Zel!"
"You're very welcome," Zelgadis replied with a love-struck smile that neither Xellos nor Filia could see from behind the door, but somehow knew it was there.
"I thought I heard someone at the door, come in!" Amelia called out. Xellos and Filia looked at each other, then Xellos bravely opened the door. Filia was ready to cover her face with her hands, but instead she stared. There were Zelgadis and Amelia sitting on top of a large tightly packed suitcase. "Miss Filia, Mr. Xellos, hi!" Amelia cheerfully greeted. "Oh my, I'm still a little out of breath. That was quite a work out."
"Tell me about it," Zelgadis breathed. "I thought we would never get this suitcase to stay closed."
"It's because of all the diplomatic stops daddy asked us to make when we go on our trip in a few days. We'll need formal clothes for the occasions and those take up a lot of room," Amelia explained. Turning back to her visitors, she inquired with a smile, "would you like some tea?"
Both Xellos and Filia nodded and joined Amelia and Zelgadis around a table. Xellos discretely leaned close to Filia and whispered so that only she could hear. "Your mind is in the gutter."
"You thought the same thing," Filia snapped under her breath, blushing bright red.
Amelia sighed happily as she served the tea. Filia's memories were gone, but Xellos was, according to her interpretation, trying his best to win her heart again. It was so cute how he whispered sweet nothings in her ear that made her face turn such a lovely rosy color. From Amelia's point of view, the odd pair was making wonderful progress in getting back together. "By the way, Mr. Xellos, it's good to see you're back in good health. Life is wonderful, isn't it?" His hair was purple, he was a monster, but he should have developed a resistance to positive feelings. Of course, that only meant something if he actually believed he had it. "You know what they say; true perseverance shall always bear fruit!" It was secret encouragement for his apparent progress with Filia.
"Wonderful," Xellos replied with heavy sarcasm. "Absolutely wonderful." All else aside, he tried to focus on the difficult explanation at hand.
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"I refuse!" Amelia's voice echoed through Seyruun castle in righteous fury after Xellos had shared his story. The princess crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. "You should be ashamed of yourselves!" She scolded adamantly. Filia had just requested use of her knowledge in helping breakup a couple, without saying who the couple was of course. Amelia had in turn reacted with extreme indignation. "How dare you interfere with true love? Don't you know they love each other? The caring looks in their eyes, the calm and peaceful strolls hand in hand through the park, the passion put into every kiss! They should be free to let the world know that they're in love!" Amelia was now standing on her chair, her right hand raised, pointing towards the ceiling in a heroic pose. Never mind that she had no idea who the couple was.
After a moment of silence, Amelia got down from her chair and sat down again. Filia was shocked, Zelgadis was okay, Amelia was appalled and Xellos was muttering something under his breath. "Is he chanting a spell?" Zelgadis asked suspiciously.
Filia curiously leaned towards the purple haired monster, trying to hear what he was so quietly whispering. "No..." She finally replied, surprised by what she heard. "He's saying that life is wonderful."
"Really?" Zelgadis blinked while Amelia's pout turned into an encouraging smile. "Hey Xellos, did you turn into a masochist all of a sudden or are you just immune now?" The chimera inquired.
Ceasing his chanting, Xellos replied, "I'm not a masochist. I'm just trying to create a distraction from a terribly horrifying mental image brought about by a certain someone's speech." After the cheerful explanation, he observed with a touch of perplexity, "although, it doesn't sting as much as it should. Maybe I have gotten stronger somehow."
Amelia's eyes shone with great joy, "even if you're a monster, you can still enjoy the positive things in life. Life really is wonderful!"
Filia sighed hopelessly, "I don't think they're going to understand unless we tell them the specifics."
"We can't," Xellos refused. "Too many people know about this already."
"How many?" Filia curiously inquired.
"You, me, the pair at the center of the problem, obviously, and a few monsters." Xellos gave it some thought and found that he didn't like the possibility of many people already being aware of the circumstances. At least he reasoned that the lack of uproar in the monster and dragon races meant that not too many people knew, or at least the higher ups didn't.
"What's two more? I trust them," Filia encouraged. She wasn't going to break her promise of keeping the secret, so it was up to Xellos to decide.
After some consideration, Xellos finally agreed. "If it'll be helpful in this... But if Lina comes by we can't tell her, she'll blackmail me for food."
"I agree," Filia nodded, while Amelia and Zelgadis remained in the dark about the peculiarities of their conversation.
"I don't think it's such a great idea to tell Zelgadis either." The purple haired monster eyed the chimera suspiciously.
"Zelgadis can keep a secret," Amelia insisted. Her curiosity for the secret was growing more and more by the second.
"Of course I can," Zelgadis assured.
Xellos remained silent and unsure for a while longer, before deciding to be daring and get the vital piece of information out in the open. "Zelas and Milgazia are dating."
A vast silence invaded Amelia's chambers. The princess and the chimera stared in quietude for a long moment, until Amelia's capability of speech returned to her and she exclaimed happily, "that's wonderful!"
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 128: Development! The Procedures Of Forbidden Love
Filia twitched, musing that she should have guessed Amelia would look at the positive side with a very potent metaphorical magnifying glass. Xellos' reaction was far less quiet than Filia's as he snapped, "it's not wonderful! It's terrible! A monster lord and a dragon elder? That's insane!" Zelgadis opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it and closed it again. Though no sounds escaped the chimera, the action did not go unnoticed by Xellos. "Got something to say?" He demanded, feeling like an idiot for letting Zelgadis in on this terribly mortifying piece of information.
"Well," Zelgadis calmly began. "It is alarming, given their positions," he stated truthfully. "But it is their choice in the end and we'll all have to accept it. They're a lot more experienced than all of us; they've been through a lot in their long lives. Don't you think that they must already be aware of the risks of their relationship? I don't think we should interfere. Just let them be, I'm sure they'll figure out a way to work things out."
That was not the kind of verbal vengeance Xellos expected from Zelgadis. Wasn't the chimera supposed to hate him? He did last time Xellos checked, which was before the time period that was missing from his memories. Then why did Zelgadis look so supportive, so positive? "Amelia is rubbing off on you," Xellos finally concluded. Zelgadis was supposed to be gloomy and bitter, but he wasn't. Yeah, the world was going insane alright.
"Zelgadis is right, we should let them work things out," Amelia smiled from ear to ear. "No offense Mr. Xellos, but maybe you shouldn't meddle, this is their personal business."
"They're a monster lord and a golden dragon elder!" Xellos insisted on his main argument. "Of course it's my business. I'm Beast Master's only general and priest, I'm her top ranking ally, this is my duty!" Xellos defended.
Another moment of silence passed after the strong argument until finally, Amelia reached across the table and took both of Xellos' hands in hers. "Mr. Xellos, don't worry, I understand completely now. I promise I will do all that I can to help you."
"You will?" Xellos was taken by surprise. He was starting to think he wouldn't be able to reason with Amelia at all.
"Of course I will," Amelia assured. "After all, I went through this myself too!" She started down the path of memory lane, though her story was still quite different from Xellos' situation. "After mom passed away, daddy never really showed any interest in other women, but women showed an interest in him, since he was a prince and all. Instead of letting him handle the situation I thought it was my duty to protect him and swiftly dispatched all his potential dates with fists and fire. Looking back on it, I wish I hadn't. Maybe most of them were just mean ladies trying to take advantage of daddy's status, but some of them might have actually been nice. It wouldn't be a bad thing for daddy to have a companion, I'm sure mom would understand."
By then Xellos was really dreading the comparison as he slipped his hands out of Amelia's. "It's not the same thing!" He firmly argued.
"You're right, it's not," Amelia admitted, to the relief of Xellos, though it was short lived given her next statement. "It's not the same thing because back then I was a little girl, I didn't know any better. But I think that by monster standards, or any standards for that matter, being over a thousand years old means being a grown up and that means you should have the maturity to deal with this, Mr. Xellos. Miss Zelas must have gone through difficult times as a single mom-"
Interrupting, Xellos argued. "Monsters are born from their master's energy, if you call a minion a child, then all monsters are single parents."
Ignoring the argument Amelia continued. "No matter how old you get, I'm sure Zelas will always see you as her precious little boy, but right now she needs your support. She has the right to have some romance in her life too! I'm sure she'll still care for you as much as always. You're not losing a mother, you're gaining a father!"
Xellos was twitching and he looked rather pained. Filia thought about the fact that monsters were purely astral beings and psychological warfare had an acute effect on them. As twitchy and pained as he was looking, it made Filia think that all of this was actually painful to him in more ways than one. Well he certainly had to be deeply disturbed by Amelia's final statement about gaining a father, because Xellos was once again singing the life is wonderful song under his breath in a desperate effort to either distract himself, or knock himself out. He would do anything to stop the scary thought process going through his aching head.
Filia sighed hopelessly. Maybe telling Amelia about this was a bad idea after all. She was far too optimistic to understand the horrors of the situation. As for Zelgadis, well he was probably just agreeing with Amelia. "Let's give Xellos some time for everything to sink in, okay? I'll make sure to give him lots of... emotional support." Filia offered in an effort to end the conversation that was becoming so painful for Xellos. "Can you at least lend us your knowledge in figuring out how far along their relationship is, so that we know how serious this is?"
"Sure," Amelia smiled. "As long as no sabotage takes place, I'm all too happy to help. Let's see now..." The princess paused, going over a list in her head. "I think it's fairly easy to conclude that the type of love they share is forbidden love. It is one of the most intense types of love there is, as it becomes stronger with each conquered obstacle, although it is also one of the most difficult to deal with. As for the stage it is in... Forbidden love tends to go through different stages such as hatred, dislike, attraction, confrontation, acceptance, understanding and closure. Because of the strong emotions involved through the process of the development of the forbidden love, all the stages are full of passion."
By this point, Xellos was resting his aching head atop his folded arms on the table. Telling Amelia about this was a very bad idea, this is what he got for listening to the advice of a stupid dragon. Albeit said dragon looked like she was sincerely regretful for his suffering, if the fact that she was patting him on the back in a supportive fashion was any indication.
Blissfully ignorant of the true intensity of Xellos' predicament, Amelia continued with her explanation. "First, there's hatred. At this stage, the potential couple has their first meeting and it's not a pleasant one. Right away they antagonize each other and possibly drive everyone around them insane with their fights. As they continue to interact with each other, that hatred simmers down to dislike, that is the second stage. They still have adverse feelings towards each other, but they learn to tolerate each other. Then comes the third stage, attraction. After the hatred has been conquered, mere dislike doesn't stand a chance against the power of growing attraction. They start to see the better side of each other and begin to realize they enjoy each other's company. The attraction stage can be interpreted by many as a friendship, though it has deeper underlying feelings that, at that point, the couple may not be aware of themselves."
The whole thing about hatred turning into dislike, which could be interpreted as growing tolerance, reminded Filia of Xellos and herself during the whole Darkstar ordeal. Of course, that was as far as it went, because she was in no way attracted to a monster, goodness no, that was both unnatural and terrible, a sinful catastrophe.
"I think it's fair to say that the couple in question has already gone through those stages and experienced the forth as well, the confrontation," Amelia theorized. "Unable to contain their feelings any longer, the couple acknowledges them. This does not always happen at the same pace for both of them. Sometimes one manages to deal with the situation sooner than the other and that one must continue to guide the process along. Yet being aware of feelings doesn't mean they'll be immediately accepted. The confrontation stage often involves a stubborn state of denial that must be slowly broken, leaving no doubts of the fact that love is growing between them and there's no stopping it!"
After pausing for breath, Amelia went on. "The fifth stage is acceptance. Shows of affection often begin to appear during the confrontation stage even if the feelings are not fully sorted out. It is very difficult to wait because of all the accumulated passion. That often leads to heartache as a full acceptance has not yet been reached. Then finally, once the facts are accepted and a compromise is reached, that's when the really deep development beyond the passion truly begins. The stage of understanding, I suppose you could say is the test of disenchantment. The illusion of new love fades away to give way to either heartbreak or true love. They see each other for what they are and they are able to accept each other with all their differences and faults."
If Amelia had to take a guess, though she wouldn't voice it, she would conclude that the stage of understanding for Xellos and Filia truly began after they got together again following their difficult break up after leaving Seyruun. That time in the town where they fought Narcissus and most likely during their strange trip to the past, they had progressed considerably. It was a pity that Filia didn't remember it, but Amelia had heard from Jillas that Xellos was working hard to try to charm Filia all over again, even if he was obviously a little distracted by his family situation at the moment.
"Finally, there's closure," Amelia finished her explanation. "The couple's bond has conquered all the hardest challenges of forbidden love and they have formed a stable relationship. I don't think Miss Zelas and Mr. Milgazia are quite at this stage yet. Given their high ranks and vast political influence, I don't think they'll be able to go all the way through the process this quietly. It's hard to say without more information, but I think they might still be at the stage of confrontation. They're allowing their mutual passion to show, but they still need to get to know each other better to fully accept each other. The stage of confrontation is usually characterized by passionate love scenes in novels."
Xellos was starting to pale and Filia was really becoming concerned for him. As far as psychological attacks went, this was stronger than all the life praising melodies in the world. The golden dragon smiled casually. "Thank you very much for all your help," she voiced politely. "This has all been very insightful and we appreciate it. I think I'm going to... um... take Xellos out for cake to help him relax and get used to the idea of having someone new in his family." After goodbyes were exchanged, Filia and Xellos made a swift retreat out of Amelia's room and out of Seyruun castle, not stopping until they were out of the castle gates.
xoxox xox xoxox
Walking through the streets of Seyruun, Xellos tried to clear his head and recover. He honestly didn't want to think of Beast Master as a character in a romance novel, especially with Milgazia as the other protagonist. He made his way down the street in silence next to Filia until finally, he spoke, "chocolate, a la mode."
"Pardon?" Filia questioned curiously, not quite understanding what his words had to do with anything.
"My cake," Xellos reminded. "The cake you offered to get me, remember?"
"Oh..." Filia did remember saying something along those lines while making excuses to retreat. He should be thanking her for getting him out of there when he was obviously in pain and too stubborn, or prideful, or both, to go on the retreat of his own accord. "Fine, let's go to Elena's bakery, we'll be able to find some good cake there. Afterwards, we can confirm if what Amelia theorized is accurate. The confrontation stage of forbidden love would be the perfect time to go on the attack. We cannot allow them to reach acceptance, it's for their own good."
Filia's statement caught Xellos attention as he inquired. "What do you mean confirm?"
"The signs should be clear," Filia stated as a matter of fact. "With the information Amelia gave us, we can interpret our observations much more accurately and come up with a better plan of action. Of course, before we can interpret anything, we need to actually observe."
"You want to spy on Zelas and Milgazia?" Xellos concluded. "What a naughty dragon."
"It's for a good cause!" Filia defended. "Besides, we shouldn't start with something as direct as espionage. Let's observe their environment first. I was at Milgazia's house not long ago and I didn't see anything out of place. However, Milgazia might be purposely trying to hide all indications of his relationship at this point, so as to avoid a confrontation with his clan. Zelas would probably be able to act more freely in her home, right?"
"No one dares to enter her chambers at Wolf Pack Island without permission," Xellos confirmed.
"Then that's where we need to go," Filia decided. She couldn't believe she was actually planning to snoop around a monster lord's room, but it had to be done. It was all for the sake of restoring order to the world and ending that insane forbidden love before things got out of hand.
"I'm not sure if you're very stupid or very suicidal," Xellos mused aloud. "But I suppose we'll need a proper investigation if we are to take effective action." Knowledge was important, awareness, accuracy, it was all a part of being a spy and Xellos had plenty of experience in that department. There was a certain trill to it that he had not felt in a long time. He was doing something he knew he shouldn't do, something he could get into trouble for, but if he had the skills to do it without getting caught, then everything would work out. He grinned in anticipation, his terrible mood giving way to the delight of misbehavior.
"Milgazia and Zelas like to play brass rackets together," Xellos informed. "Their matches get pretty intense sometimes. If we do the spying while they're playing, Zelas should be distracted enough not to sense our presence in her chambers. We'll have to be very careful though. It's bad enough that I'm sneaking you into Wolf Pack Island without permission, but I'm also sneaking you into Zelas' room. If we get caught we'll probably both be dead, or at least you'll be dead and I'll be agonizing for the next few months."
"Then we can't get caught," Filia agreed. She felt a certain thrill in all of this. She didn't want to admit it, but this was pretty exciting, like those novels about secret agents.
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After Xellos got his cake, the purple haired monster and the golden dragon, headed out to Wolf Pack Island. Just as Xellos thought, the brass rackets match between Zelas and Milgazia was going strong. They snuck into the palace that gave Filia a feeling of deja vu, even though she couldn't actually remember being there before. They had not teleported directly to the island, thus Filia had some time to get over her teleportation sickness as they traveled the rest of the way there.
"We'll have to sneak into Zelas' chambers on foot," Xellos had explained. "I'll have to keep my energy hidden and not use my power so that I don't get Zelas attention; that means no teleporting while we're here."
"Understood," Filia nodded with excited determination. She waited as Xellos peeked down the hallway discreetly and saw that the coast was clear. They advanced swiftly but quietly, avoiding being seen by anyone as they made their way through the massive, elegant maze that was Zelas' palace, towards the forbidden territory of the monster lord's private chambers.
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Xellos and Filia quietly made their way through Zelas' palace at Wolf Pack Island with the daring intentions of investigating her personal chambers. Footsteps were heard approaching, but teleporting was out of the question, as it would make Xellos' energy and thus his current location, far too obvious. Once Zelas noticed him, she would surely notice the presence of a golden dragon other than Milgazia too. That would mean big trouble for Xellos and Filia. While Filia remained frozen in place, Xellos tried to look for a way out of this predicament. He spotted it in the shape of a near invisible compartment on the wall, which he swiftly opened pushing Filia inside, then going in himself and closing it.
Filia found herself face first against an assortment of cleaning supplies with Xellos pressed against her back behind her. One of his hands held the compartment closed behind him, just in case, while the other rested on the edge of the shelves on the opposite side of the supply closet, next to Filia's shoulder. Xellos felt a tug on the closet door, but kept a firm grip on it from the inside, while a lesser monster on clean up duty grumbled about how long it could possibly take to house train wolf cubs. The lesser monster in question kept pulling at the door that blended in with the wall to no avail, obviously no match for the strength of a much higher ranked monster.
Xellos assumed this would just be a matter of waiting for the weak monster to give up and try to obtain the needed cleaning supplies elsewhere, but it seemed that things would not be so easy. Life was never easy really, especially not lately. Xellos noticed that Filia was face to face with a feather duster, making odd expressions as if trying to contain a sneeze. Her features contorted in discomfort as she fought a losing battle against the tickle in her nose.
Finally, it happened, "achoo!" Along with the loud sneeze, Filia's concentration gave way and her tail popped out without her consent. The appendage stretched out suddenly, passing between Xellos' legs, as he was directly behind her, and colliding with the door, almost making Xellos lose his grip on it.
A moment of awkward silence passed as the world stood still and the lesser monster out at the hall wondered if it was wise to continue trying to open that particular supply closet. Then finally, Xellos felt the need to point something out, "Filia, your tail is touching-"
"I know where my tail is!" Filia grumbled with a scarlet face.
"You're such a naughty dragon," Xellos teased.
Growling something inaudible and most likely insulting, Filia tried to turn herself around to move her tail away from where it should not be. With some difficulty, she managed to do it, noticing even more just how close she and Xellos were. She wanted to reach for her mace and hit him, but she knew that would only cause them to be discovered and who knows what that would lead to.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 129: Detectives! Close Calls And Clandestine Investigations
After a seemingly eternal minute, the lesser monster on clean up duty at Wolf Pack Island decided to give up and walk to the next utility closet for supplies. As the footsteps faded in the distance, Xellos cautiously opened the door and went out, followed by Filia, who released a breath of relief. "That was close."
"In more ways than one," Xellos reminded in his most teasing tone.
Filia glared with her face still crimson in embarrassment. "That was an accident and you know it!"
"Oh, I'm not so sure..." Xellos feigned offense. "I think that can be classified as sexual harassment."
"Shut up, raw garbage!" Filia snapped as she hurried down the hallway.
Realizing that provoking a temper tantrum in this situation was a very dangerous idea, Xellos hurried after her. "Don't forget where we are, stupid dragon! We can't get caught, keep your temper in check!"
Filia stopped, mentally counted to ten and tried her best to be less furious. "It would be easier if you weren't purposely making me angry."
"You have no sense of humor," Xellos critiqued.
Filia pouted and huffed. "Fine, I'll try to have more of a sense of humor then." Maybe if she teased him back the next time he tried to tease her, he wouldn't find it amusing anymore and would stop. Of course, she would have to keep her temper in check and a semi-clear head in order to test that theory, which wasn't easy. The pair of detectives of relationship sabotage continued on their way towards Zelas' room in silence.
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Meanwhile, Chaos, one of Zelas' wolves and the mother of Fili and her siblings, had stolen Milgazia's sports bag while he was busy playing brass rackets. Zelas didn't want her chewing on her things and Xellos didn't want her chewing on his things, but no one had said anything about chewing on that dragon's things. Chaos took the prize to her master's room and shook it in her mouth. The bag came open and with the movement, its contents, which included a spare brass rackets uniform, became spilled all over the room.
Amused, Chaos dropped the bag and picked up a shoe, she rolled on the bed making a wrinkled mess of the once perfectly laid out black silk sheets until she rolled off it and chewed on the shoe some more, before tossing it under the bed. A peculiar scent invaded the wolf's sensitive nose, it was a golden dragon, but this one was a female. Chaos let herself out of the room and made her way down the hall.
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Hearing the approach of someone else, Xellos and Filia ducked behind a corner and Xellos cautiously peeked out. He saw a large black wolf with golden eyes heading towards them and walked out of his hiding place. Interpreting that there was no danger, Filia followed him. "Hey Chaos," he petted the large wolf, who went up on her hind legs and licked his face. "You're going to be quiet and pretend you didn't see us, okay? That's a good girl."
With the possible crisis of having a wolf howling an alarm adverted, Chaos went quietly on her way doing as she was told, while Xellos and Filia continued towards the forbidden chambers.
They finally arrived in front of the double doors that led to Zelas' room, noticing that the golden doors were slightly parted. Xellos said that no one dared to go in there without permission anyway, so Filia didn't find the lack of lock surprising. The monster and dragon carefully made their way in. Filia felt her feet sink into the plush carpet. There was a lot of black in the room with golden details that stood out. The decor reminded her of the Lord of Nightmares, the gold that shone upon the Sea of Chaos. It made Filia wonder if that's where Zelas got the inspiration to design her room.
The chambers were very spacious with a very high ceiling, a colossal sitting room, then the bedroom further in, though the bed was more so a decoration than anything else since Zelas didn't need sleep and rarely indulged in it. There were shelves lined with magic tomes that looked valuable and rare, reaching up endlessly into the ceiling that seemed to depict outer space. There were diamond chandeliers impressively glowing with magical light and there were... dragons? Filia raised her hand to point at the dragon statues because she simply couldn't find her voice at the moment.
"They're dissected," Xellos stated as a matter of fact. "Trophies from the War of the Monster's Fall. That one over there..." He pointed at a majestic golden dragon with an intricate assortment of horns upon his head like an impressive crown. "He was the elder of the Aqualord's clan before Milgazia took over."
"You... you did this," Filia stuttered. She told herself not to cry, but she knew her eyes were watering.
"Yes," Xellos admitted, "gifts for Beast Master." Before Filia went crazy with her mace in the worse place possible, Xellos tried to distract her attention towards something else. "Look at this!" He hurried to the coffee table in the middle of the sitting room. It looked like it was made of pure gold decorated with diamonds. On top of it, there was a black vase with shiny golden paint and diamond-like rhinestones decorating it in swirling patterns. "I gave this to Beast Master too."
"A vase I made?" Filia stuttered, trying to stop her tears. "It's so mockingly ironic..."
"It was my Christmas present last year," Xellos continued trying to distract her from a ferocious hissy fit. "Christmas is just around the corner now. I wonder what I should get her this year?" He wrapped his arm around Filia's shoulders and pulled her close, the side of his face against hers. "Such soft skin, your pretty golden scales are nice and smooth too, aren't they? Maybe I can turn you into a dragon skin purse; Beast Master has been hinting that she wants one." Filia still looked like she was on the verge of a breakdown and to top it all up, now Xellos' face was wet with her tears from having pressed his cheek against hers, which didn't even get a reaction from her anyway. So much for distractions. "C'mon, stupid dragon, it's a little late to mourn their deaths, don't you think? Besides, it's not like you didn't know about the results of the war before."
Filia had made herself a promise not to fall apart, to be strong and to face hardships in stride. Yet she didn't expect her resolution to be so harshly tested so soon. Getting back into the subject at hand, Filia stated with certainty. "Milgazia has never been to this room. If he had seen this, then he wouldn't still be with Zelas. If he saw it, it would be over for sure."
"He already knows about how the war went too," Xellos reasoned. "He was there after all."
"The past can't be left behind like this," Filia motioned towards the dissected dragons. "It's obvious that Zelas isn't serious about Milgazia, otherwise she would have removed them from here."
Xellos felt a wave of relief wash over him. Of course Zelas wasn't serious. Maybe the unusually early spring time just went to her head, though he really didn't want to think about that either. The point was, that after she was done playing with Milgazia, she would probably kill him and everything would be right in Xellos' life again, the insanity would end. "I guess you have a point," Xellos was about to call the investigation done, but he paused as he spotted something.
The suspicious item was peeking out from under the luxurious curtains that separated the sitting room from the bedroom area. Xellos approached and picked up the thing. It was a white headband very much like those that athletes wore while playing sports. It smelled like dragon, like a male golden dragon to be specific. Like a moth to a flame Xellos peeked into the bedroom and immediately wish he hadn't. He stumbled back in shock as if he had seen something terrifying.
Filia dried her tears and approached Xellos to investigate his unusual reaction. She looked into the bedroom beyond the soft curtains and found a most disturbing sight. Shocked beyond words, she stepped inside. There was a shirt lying on the floor near by. She looked at it, examining it without touching it so as to not disturb anything in the room. Her unmistakable conclusion was that the shirt did not belong to Zelas, it was not the right size at all and it was obviously men's clothing.
Filia ventured deeper into the bedroom, closer to the bed. She found some shorts that matched the shirt completing the sports outfit on the floor not too far away. Her eyes traveled from the discarded article of clothing towards the messy black silk bed sheets. There were black golden and white cushions messily occupying a portion of the bed, while others were on the floor next to it. Her mind conjured up scenes that she did not want to imagine as she fought with herself to decide if she should be angry, disappointed or pitying Milgazia.
Finally shattering the long silence, Xellos voiced softly, "I think I'm going to be sick."
"Me too," Filia agreed. How could Milgazia do this? He must have seen the dissected dragons on his way to the bedroom and he still did this? It was terrible. Yet he had been so kind to her and Val, Filia couldn't think of Milgazia as a bad person. They did say that love could blind people and twist their judgment. She had to save him; she didn't want Milgazia to go through what she went through being regarded as a traitor. He had worked too hard over the years to keep the Water Clan together after the fall of the Aqualord. She couldn't allow him to throw it all away now in a fit of nonsensical passion. His clan needed him, the dragon race needed him; she had to save him.
Footsteps were heard as a lesser monster entered Beast Master's personal chambers. It was true that no one would dare to invade Zelas' room without permission, but it wasn't really trespassing for someone who was given permission for the purpose of performing basic cleaning duties.
"I thought you said no one would come here," Filia whispered. "Is that Zelas on her way? Her energy still feels like it's on the surface of the island."
"That's certainly not Zelas," Xellos confirmed. "It's the cleaning monster. Let's hide!" They dashed into Zelas' closet, which was, unlike the utility closet in the hall, very spacious.
Filia looked around the walk-in closet that was like another room. "Why does Zelas need so many clothes, she can materialize herself wearing whatever she wants anyway."
"Inspiration, I suppose," Xellos theorized. Filia made her way deeper into the massive closet towards the shoe section where she gasped and pointed at a pair of black boots with a feathery trim on top. "What is it? Do you want them? Too bad, because you can't have them. I know Zelas owns a ridiculous amount of clothes and shoes, but she'll notice that something is missing if you take anything."
"Those boots are made of ancient dragon skin!" Filia angrily exclaimed, with Xellos rushing over to cover her mouth.
"Do you want to get us killed?" He half growled in her ear.
Filia shook her head and Xellos released her. Frowning, she spoke in a much quieter volume. "Just how many dragon trophies does Zelas keep around here?"
"Plenty, Beast Master has been collecting trophies since before the war," Xellos admitted. "This is a monster lord's room; you can't expect it to be pink and frilly like your room is," he reasoned.
Frowning in disapproval, Filia questioned quietly but fiercely. "What's your room like?"
"Purple," Xellos stated as a matter of fact.
"I want to see it," Filia demanded. "Take me to your room."
"Isn't this going a bit fast?" Xellos teased.
The meaning of his words went over Filia's head in the middle of her rage and she once again demanded. "Take me to your room now!" She considered stomping her foot for emphasis, or better yet, hitting Xellos on the head with her mace, but both possibilities were dangerously noisy.
"I don't think I'm quite ready for that," Xellos teased. "Would you settle down if I just give you a kiss?"
Realization invaded Filia's features along with a bright red blush. "You know I didn't mean it like that!" She growled, the volume of her voice rising dangerously.
"Do you, perchance, come from a family of kamikaze?" Xellos inquired in a warning tone.
This time Filia caught the meaning of his words right away and quieted down. "As soon as that cleaning monster is gone, you're showing me your room." Filia growled threateningly. "And I mean that in a completely innocent and non-perverted way," she quickly added.
"Fine, fine," Xellos agreed at last. "If it means that much to you... stalker."
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After waiting for the cleaning monster to go away, Xellos and Filia emerged from the large closet and snuck out of Zelas' room, noting that the bed had been tidied up and the clothing that was scattered around was gone, probably taken away to be washed. They snuck out without incident and made it to Xellos room, which was, as he had said, purple. Filia looked around critically, "where are your dragon trophies?"
"I don't have any," Xellos informed. "Beast Master kept them all. It's okay though. Dragons are ugly; I don't want any dragon statues in my room anyway."
The room in question was quite large, though certainly smaller than Zelas. Filia's exploration was interrupted by a wolf-like puppy approaching her wagging her tail. Xellos found it odd, as he held no memories of Fili ever meeting Filia. "Hi there," Filia petted the little cub. "Aw, she's so cute," she took note of the fact that the pale yellow cub had a purple ribbon around her neck and a smaller pink one on her tail. Such a little cutie was the last thing she expected to find in Xellos' room.
"Her name is Fili Algar Metallium," Xellos stated.
"Fili?" Filia questioned in surprise. "Fili A.?"
"Yes," Xellos didn't remember why he named her such, as it had apparently been his idea. He did notice, wondering if it was a coincidence or not, that her middle name had the forth letter of the names Zelas, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry. As for her first name, it sounded a lot like Filia's name. Xellos reasoned he must have named the pup that as a joke. He wondered if Filia would get mad at him for naming her like that. He waited for the rage that never came.
"You actually named her after me?" The golden dragon held the little cub in her arms. "That... well... it's"
"Terribly offensive?" Xellos suggested.
"Actually... it's kind of sweet," Filia confessed with a slightly rosy tone on her face.
Xellos blinked in confusion, where was his delicious wrath? "You're weird," he concluded.
Filia made a soft 'hmp' sound, though it didn't really carry any reproach. "So are you," she countered. Letting out a somewhat tired breath that carried the pressure of the day's strain, she concluded. "I guess we can call our investigation of Zelas' room done." She didn't want to go back in there. "I'll talk to Milgazia again; maybe I'll be able to reason with him if I try harder."
"Right, don't let his fortune cookie wisdom distract you from your mission," Xellos teased.
Although Xellos was joking and teasing as usual, Filia took the advice seriously. Poor Milgazia must have been brainwashed or something and she had to save him. With renewed determination, Filia put Fili down and smiled at her. "It was nice meeting you Fili." The resolute golden dragon headed towards the door. "Let's sneak out of Wolf Pack Island."
"Aren't you going to snoop around my room, roll around on my bed, cuddle my pillows and smell my shoes like a stalker?" Xellos inquired with a mocking teasing grin.
Filia glared, "I'm not a stalker!" She snapped. "Besides, who would want to smell your shoes? They probably stink of raw garbage!"
Thus Xellos and Filia snuck out of Wolf Pack Island, thankfully without incident. They were still determined to set things right and dissolve Zelas and Milgazia's nonexistent relationship, though they might end up getting a little distracted by the holidays, after all, Christmas shopping is a very time consuming activity.
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Later, Xellos concluded that it didn't matter how many times he called Filia a stupid dragon. The fact of the matter was that this time he had to admit that she had outsmarted him by a lot. There she was, happily humming a cheerful tune as she gift-wrapped a vase and handed it to her customer on Christmas Eve. He had seen the Christmas tree that she shared with the fox family, which was overflowing with presents. Xellos on the other hand, still had not obtained the thing that Beast Master had been hinting she wanted, a dragon skin purse. He had gone out and slain a white dragon, carefully removing and cleaning her hide. Zelas had caught him in the act, but humored him by pretending she didn't see the big dead dragon in the middle of her garden.
The problem was that the purse had not yet been crafted and it had to be done by tomorrow. Minions were supposed to give their masters presents; it was the way Christmas worked for monsters. At least Xellos didn't have that many people to shop for, since he was the second in command of Beast Master's forces, next to Beast Master herself. The lesser monsters were in real trouble, trying to find gifts for all their superiors. Even so, Xellos knew he couldn't just pop into Filia's shop, hastily pick a vase and pretend it was the perfect present again this year. Beast Master humored him last year, but this time she had clearly hinted at what she wanted, so he knew he better get it.
It wasn't that Xellos was careless enough to forget to commission a major fashion designer to craft the purse. He had gone to see Marty Lenford a few days ago with a big roll of white dragon hide and explained that he wanted her to design a purse, crafting it from the material. It was true that the woman looked like a clown in a bikini, but she was still a famous fashion designer. Unfortunately, the purse turned out to be a disappointment.
The dragon hide was purposely ripped, showing the red fabric inside the purse, with red paint dripping all over the white scales. The design of the purse reminded Xellos of the mess he made in the garden trying to skin the white dragon he had hunted. It didn't matter that he was a purely astral being, he still spent a good five hours scrubbing himself clean in the bathroom, convinced that he still smelled like bloody dead dragon.
The whole ordeal left Xellos at quite the predicament. The designer purse he had wasn't good enough for Beast Master and he knew it. He had been contemplating such thoughts as he walked down the streets of Seyruun with the purse in hand.
To be Continued