After a very strange journey, Filia ended up being sentenced to execution and just when she thought the situation couldn't get worse, she became trapped in Zelas' domain. She should have learned by that point that when it looked like things couldn't get worse, it meant that they were about to get worse.
"You will regret Alice's death for bringing her here, Xellos!" Zelas dramatically declared. "My warriors-" Before Zelas was able to give Lina and Gourry the order to devour Filia, a green parrot with rainbow colors at the end of her wing feathers and long yellow tail feathers arrived with a package.
"Delivery for Alice!" The parrot, who had a golden crown with a pair of blue ornaments attached on its sides as if simulating earrings, gave Filia the package and flew away.
"Open it, meow! Open it!" Xellos purred urgently with curiosity. "There might be catnip in there, open it, meow!"
Filia tore the brown paper off the box and opened it. Inside, among small pieces of white paper that served to cushion the box, there was baby Val. "Val?" She looked at the brown wrapping from the box and read the return address. "This is from the Mother of all Things?"
"The Mother of all Things!" Zelas gasped.
"The Mother of all Things!" Xellos cheered. "You do love me!" Xellos started cuddling Filia, refusing to let her go. She was too stunned to push him away anyway.
"Can we eat them now?" Lina impatiently asked.
"Yes, can we? Can we? Please?" Gourry urged.
"Stand down my warriors, be at ease," Zelas commanded, much to the gluttonous pair's disappointment. "When a couple has loved each other strongly for a long time, the Mother of All Things will send a child to them, which they must raise with loving care. That is where all children come from; they are delivered by the minions of the Mother of All Things. I see now that even with all this adversity, love was able to prevail. Maybe the outlands and the peninsula are not so different after all. Perhaps we can finally unite our lands as one kingdom, as it should be. After all, the legends say that when the child of Ceifeed and Shabranigdu comes to this world, the time will come for the bitter rivalry between the outlands and the peninsula beyond the river to end."
Zelas dramatically continued. "When I saw the child arrive, I did not believe it and kept the truth hidden. The child was adopted by the supreme emperor of the peninsula, who raised her as his own, keeping hidden from her the mission she was born to do, to travel the land and restore peace and harmony to the world! Alice... You are not Milgazia's real sister; you are the daughter of Ceifeed and Shabranigdu. You are not related to Milgazia at all, but Xellos is..."
"I am?" Xellos gasped.
Milgazia suddenly stepped out from behind Zelas' large golden throne with a very shocking confession to deliver. "Xellos... I am your father." That was around the time Filia felt her mind explode into many itty bitty pieces.
xoxox xox xoxox
Her head hurt, her head hurt a lot as Filia's eyes opened suddenly and she looked around in every direction breathing heavily. "It's about time you woke up, stupid dragon!" Xellos was there, he was close, he was... holding her?
Xellos didn't have any cat ears or tail that Filia could see and he was fully dressed, as was she. She also noted that he still had the golden dragon keychain she gave him on his bag. "What... What happened?" Filia asked, still disoriented.
"You were tossing and turning on the ground, muttering incoherently," Xellos truthfully replied. "As for what happened, I thought you would be able to tell me that. Are you sick or something?"
"Not that I know of," Filia mused, as she sat up and tried to shake the dream out of her head, but it wouldn't go away. She blushed, remembering the peculiar cat version of Xellos from the crazy dream. "I had a really odd dream." She confessed, immediately regretting it when Xellos looked at her with curiosity. He wasn't just going to pretend he didn't hear, he would want to know more and would get it out of her somehow. Before that happened, Filia tried to diffuse a potentially embarrassing situation. "I was a fugitive," sort of, given the result of her trial, "and Martina was my adoptive sister."
"Martina was your sister?" Xellos laughed, "adoptive or not that sounds like quite the nightmare. No wonder your emotions tasted so chaotic, she must have been driving you insane." He paused, realizing something, "I didn't know you knew Martina. We are talking about the queen of Zoana, right?"
"Yes," Filia nodded, "Zangulus' wife," then she realized that she held no recollection of ever actually meeting them outside of her dream. Yet she must have met them because she knew who they were. This must be part of her missing memories, bits and pieces were finally coming back! Even if the dream was insane, and somewhat traumatizing in certain aspects, Filia consoled herself in thinking that if she was starting to recover from her amnesia, then at least something good came out of it. Plus the hunt for the tea leaves was over and Filia could go home.
xoxox xox xoxox
The tea leaves were collected and Xellos took them to Zelas, who suspiciously decided she didn't need them. Her reasoning was that, "Milgazia doesn't need the extra energy after all." It was just a cheap excuse on Zelas part, because the true purpose of the tea leaves had already been accomplished judging by Xellos report, which mentioned Filia's dream in passing. He told Beast Master about the detail for the sake of amusement only, with Xellos not realizing that it was indeed an important point.
Xellos, who was still caught in the peculiar misunderstanding that had been plaguing him and Filia lately, really didn't want to know how Zelas reached her conclusion. Honestly, what Milgazia did to demonstrate his energy and endurance was none of Xellos' business and he most certainly did not want to know about it.
xoxox xox xoxox
Amelia and Zelgadis were currently traveling around the world, spreading Seyruun's good will and taking a few deviations along the way to follow leads concerning Zelgadis' cure. He wasn't searching for it as if it were something as vital as what he had thought it to be in the past, but rather something he would like to have if it was possible, without getting too distracted from the other more important happenings of his life.
Seyruun was calm, recovering much more easily than most of the other cities of the world. With the princess gone, Filia had offered to assist kind king Philionel in anything he needed; the Seyruun royal family had helped her a lot. Phil appreciated the offer and asked Filia to participate in a task that he thought she would enjoy, managing a small play to entertain children. Palou, Val and a group of children from around the city would participate in a somewhat modified reenactment of a classic fairy tale that existed in both human and dragon culture.
For the humans, the main protagonist of the story was a little girl, whose trademark accessory was a red hooded cape. For the dragons, the heroine was a little dragon girl who wore a similar red hooded cape. For the villain of the story, many of the human variations of the tale depicted the antagonist as being a ferocious wolf. As for the villain of the dragon version of the story, it was, predictably, a monster.
To accommodate for more children to appear on the little play, the role of the main girl was modified to be a group of children instead, who attended a school at the edge of a forest. Jillas, Gravos and Elena also became involved in the process of the play and after some rehearsing; the children were ready to put on a show at the park. Families gathered around sitting on picnic blankets to watch the show with Phil himself personally attending with a front row seat.
Filia was on their little improvised stage where a group of children, Val and Palou included, were sitting. "That's it for today's lesson, children, be careful on your way home. I'll see you tomorrow bright and early!" The golden dragon cheerfully went over her lines perfectly.
The children energetically got up, giving Filia their farewells and moving to the other side of the stage, which was outside the classroom area and in the imaginary kingdom where the story took place. Filia had gone on her way, disappearing behind some cardboard trees to wait for her next scene.
"Miss Filia sure is nice," Palou observed.
"Yes she is!" The children chorused.
"We should do something nice for her," Val suggested.
"Yes we should!" The children chorused.
While the scene went on, Filia felt a familiar presence backstage. "Xellos," she eyed him critically, growling in a low tone. "If you ruin this for the children, I won't forgive you," she warned.
"What? Can't I watch?" Xellos feigned hurt.
"You can watch," Filia voiced carefully. "But you can't do anything that will negatively affect the play. The children were really excited about this and if you make them sad, I'll... I'll... I'll make sure you get indigestion!" That wasn't the most threatening thing to say and certainly not the worse Filia had offered to do to Xellos. But in her favor, one could observe that it might be a somewhat doable threat if she ruined his meal of misery by finding a way to fix things fast enough. Besides, Filia was distracted for a second, taking note of the fact that Xellos still had that little doll of her decorating his bag.
Xellos took her threat with amusement. "Children get upset too easily anyway. Their sorrow lacks in flavor, since they are too innocent to fully understand fear and disappointment. They're too naive to think of the horrible possibilities beyond the immediate present. Dragon anguish, now that's a delicious dish!"
Filia placed her hands on her hips and glared, "that's cruel." Well at least he wasn't interested in making the kids suffer. She carefully listened for her cue to go back on stage. The children would go to the bakery, that was Elena's scene, and get some delicious goodies. Then they would head out to the gates, that was Gravos' scene, and after being given some warnings and advice, they would head on to the forest to deliver the baked goodies to their teacher's house.
Gravos was currently explaining about how a fairy that lived in the forest had casted a protective spell on the marked paths that repelled evildoers and that they should never stray from those paths. Next up on the play, the children would go into the forest, leave the path and encounter a wolf. That was Jillas' scene, except Jillas couldn't be on stage because he was currently backstage giving Filia desperate nervous looks. "Jillas? What's wrong?" She asked with gentle concern.
"I... I can't do this..." Jillas whimpered. "Elena, Palou, Val... the children, the audience..."
"Coward," Xellos mockingly chirped with abundant cheer.
Filia glared murderously at Xellos for a second, before turning her kind and encouraging eyes towards Jillas. "There's no need to be afraid, just get out there and do your best. I'm sure you'll do great."
"Or mess up terribly," Xellos suggested, grinning happily, "By the way, it's not bad, pretty good actually." He remarked as if tasting food.
"Stop feeding off Jillas' stage fright!" Filia scolded.
"I... can't..." Finally giving in completely to the stage fright, Jillas removed his wolf costume and practically shoved it into Xellos' arms. "You do it!"
"Me?" Xellos shook his head. "Oh no, I couldn't, don't forget that I'm expected to-"
"I said... I think we're lost!" Val's loud voice coming from the stage snapped Filia, Jillas and Xellos into attention. In the play, the children disregarded the advice they were given and strayed away from the path in the forest, becoming lost deep in it. Now it was time for their encounter with the wolf.
"Jillas, that's your cue!" Gravos joined them backstage with the reminder.
"Right away!" Jillas was full of determination as he picked up the wolf costume, but as soon as it was in his hands, he became once again afraid. "I can't!" He shoved the costume back at Xellos. "But everyone is counting on me!" He took the costume back, "what if I fail?" He pushed it away.
"You know, this costume doesn't even fit me, it's too small," Xellos pointed out.
Gravos searched around a trunk full of costumes for something that would fit Xellos. "The only other wolf-like costume we have is that outfit from the fashion show that was cancelled." He held up the garment, there was a wolf tail attached to it, but it was...
"That's..." Filia pointed at the garment in disturbed disbelief. "Fur speedos?"
Xellos shook his head, "only Marty Lenford..." Then again, Naga might also like stuff like that and that's just about as far as that train of thought was permitted to go.
"You can't wear that, there are children present!" Filia snapped.
"I never said I would!" Xellos snapped right back. "Besides, I'm supposed to-"
"I hope we don't run into any wolves!" Palou practically shouted from the stage, the show needed to go on.
"There's no other choice," Filia picked up the wolf mask and shoved it into Xellos' face. "You'll have to play the part of the terrible wolf before the play falls apart. Go out there and... and... just be yourself." Without further ado, Filia shoved Xellos into the stage. He made a stumbling entrance, causing the audience to erupt into laughter and continued the play, more or less as it should go from there.
"I'm sorry boss," Jillas apologized profusely. "I don't know what's wrong with me. Every time I pick up this costume, I get such terrible stage fright."
Filia touched the wolf costume and peculiarly, she felt stage fright too, then she sensed it. "Wait a minute; this costume is under a spell that gives stage fright! The mask must not affect Xellos because he's a monster. That tricky piece of raw garbage, he must have sabotaged the wolf costume!"
"Actually," Jillas confessed, "that might have been Val. I saw him casting some magic on this costume earlier. When I asked him about it, he said it was a secret and that's what he always says when he gets into mischief."
Filia let out a breath of distressed disappointment, "my little Val, why did you have to turn out to be such a trickster?"
"It's okay, it's just a harmless prank," Jillas tried to console Filia. "I just need to get a different costume."
"It might be a little late for that now," Gravos pointed out. "But you can act out the other scene my character was supposed to play and join in that way."
"Alright," Jillas agreed, "I'll act that scene and figure out a way so that the play can still go on even if Xellos is stuck playing a different character!" He realized only too late that he had said too much, automatically slapping both hands over his mouth.
"What do you mean a different character?" Filia questioned suspiciously. "It's not like he actually had a character to play in the first place!" She demanded.
A loud and rather realistic sounding growl was heard from the stage. "No one can save you now!" Xellos threatened. The children called out for help, hoping that the hero didn't take as long to get there as the villain, because they could hardly think of more lines to improvise with.
"That's my cue," Filia realized. The kind hearted teacher, who was secretly a forest fairy, was supposed to show up and save the children from the wolf, sacrificing herself to do so. Then the town guard, previously played by Gravos, who had given the next scene to Jillas, would arrive to find the children crying about the fallen fairy. He would instruct them to focus their positive energy and together they would cast a massive recovery spell that would save the fairy's life. Or at least that's how Filia thought the story was supposed to go.
Filia dashed to hide between the curtains that were set up as a sort of change room back stage, then she ran out to the stage in her fairy costume. The only difference was that instead of her fairy wand, she was holding her mace instead. "Terrible wolf, with my fairy magic I shall defeat your evil, even if it takes every ounce of strength I have in me!"
Filia swung her mace against Xellos who, just the same as any other semi-sane being would do, dodged it. "You'll never defeat me, forest fairy! I shall feast on these children, I'll devour them all!"
Filia swung her mace at Xellos again, which he dodged again. He didn't teleport, but he was moving around a lot with great speed. "You're supposed to stay still!" Filia growled under her breath.
"You're supposed to only pretend to hit me," Xellos countered. Though his face was hidden behind the wolf mask, Filia could still clearly imagine his mocking sarcastic grin. It was infuriating.
"Alright, let's just get this done." Determined to progress with the play as smoothly as possible, Filia prepared to hit Xellos with her mace once more, nodding to him slightly as she dramatically moved her mace towards him. It looked as if she wouldn't hit him too hard, but Xellos knew better than to lower his guard. His miscalculation was that he kept his attention focused on the mace to get out of the way if Filia tried to put some real strength into the hit at the last minute. Then suddenly, Filia shot a laser breath point blank that got Xellos square in the chest.
The crowd cheered, assuming it was all part of the play, while Xellos tackled Filia to the floor on the stage. "That hurt, you sadistic dragon." He whispered in her ear as he lay on top of her. If he wasn't such a high ranking monster he would have been seriously injured.
"Get off me, raw garbage!" Filia whispered back, putting every bit of willpower she had into the effort not to further ruin the play.
"Shh, quiet, you're supposed to be unconscious in this scene, remember?" Xellos whispered back.
"You're supposed to be dead," Filia growled in return, in a low tone of voice.
Jillas entered the scene, playing a second, recently added town guard. "I was worried about you children, so I came to look for you. Why have you gone out of the path? What has happened here?"
"We're sorry!" The children chorused.
"We should have listened and stayed in the path," Val voiced with well acted regret.
"Miss Filia, who was secretly the forest fairy, sacrificed herself to save us from that terrible wolf," Palou voiced in a sad tone.
"If only we could save Miss Filia!" The group of children chorused.
"Maybe we can!" Jillas dramatically declared.
The play was almost over, then Filia could stop pretending to be unconscious and Xellos could stop pretending to be dead in such an uncomfortably close proximity to her. Do unconscious people even blush? 'C'mon Jillas, hurry with the lines. Have the children cast the healing spell so I can get away from this piece of raw garbage.' Filia thought. She had no idea that the script had been modified without her knowledge and Jillas was about to implement those modifications along with a few last minute edits.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 137: Trapped! Growing Tensions, Critical Proximity
"To save the fairy we must... get her true love to kiss her!" Jillas declared, as per the modified version of the play. Then he added the last minute edits. "Rumor has it that the prince is in love with the fairy, but unfortunately, the prince has gone missing." Originally, the prince was supposed to be conveniently passing by, having returned from a trip to a neighboring kingdom. "Maybe he has been cursed and is closer than we think," Jillas hinted.
Xellos started getting up, but instead of being relieved, Filia had a very bad feeling about this. Jillas said something about Xellos being expected to play another character. He couldn't mean... Behind her long eye lashes, Filia's eye slightly opened imperceptibly. She saw the wolf mask landing on the stage floor after Xellos removed it and she closed her eyes completely. Everything felt like a distant echo as Xellos exchanged a few improvised overly dramatic lines with Jillas. There wasn't supposed to be a prince in this story, let alone a prince that got cursed into becoming a wolf and ended up kissing a fairy. "Noble fairy, you gave your life to save the children of my kingdom and to free me of my curse! If only there was something I could do to save you!" Xellos played his role.
Filia could no longer feel the brightness of the sun beyond her tightly closed eyelids. She opened her eyes slightly, just as she thought; he was leaning over her with a mocking, teasing grin. "Raw garbage," she growled at him from her position motionless on the floor of the little improvised stage. Oh how she wanted to sink into it.
"The show must go on," his grin was so mocking, so teasing, so infuriating.
'Stupid monster, quit making this last longer than it has to!' Filia screamed in her head. Xellos wasn't moving. A dramatic pause was one thing, but this was ridiculous. Then she realized he wasn't going to do anything.
"Can I?" Filia glared at Xellos' question, it reeked of trap. He wouldn't kiss her regardless of how much he knew it would embarrass her, because that would be his action and it wasn't as satisfying as pushing her into taking action.
Filia realized grimly that she ultimately had two choices, well technically three. She could push Xellos away and end this inappropriate situation, but that would ruin the play. The children would be heartbroken and the audience would be disappointed. She would be the villain who couldn't accept one little kiss for the sake of concluding an activity that brought some cheer to people in a world that was still recovering from a harsh disaster. Every now and then she saw it, the scars of the sadness that overtook the kingdom during the time that she had mostly forgotten. She caught those hints of terrible despair in their eyes, they weren't fully over the recent past and they didn't need any more disappointments big or small.
Filia's second option was to grant Xellos permission to kiss her. Then he would tease her endlessly about how she was the one who told him to do it. He wouldn't let her live it down, she would be mortified. Her third choice was to do nothing, to lie there pretending she really had passed out until Xellos did something. Yet she knew he wouldn't do anything and ultimately, the play would be ruined anyway after the scene remained frozen for too long. That made that third option as bad as the first in consequences towards others and even worse in consequences towards Filia. If she chose inaction, Filia would ruin the play and get Xellos' teasing because of her lack of open rejection. She would end up suffering both of the main consequences of options one and two combined.
She had to do something. Then she realized it. Bitterly, Filia mused that it was more so the aftermath of the kiss that worried her, rather than the action. Shouldn't she be worried about the action more so? She opened her eyes and noticed that Xellos had his eyes open staring at her with mocking curiosity. He could taste her every emotion, the fact surfaced clearly and prominently in her mind, refusing to sink back into the depths of her subconscious. It made her feel terribly exposed. No wonder he could always tick her off, he knew exactly what buttons to push to produce certain reactions. What could she do about that? How could she become unpredictable? She didn't know how unpredictable she already was to him.
The murmurs of the crowd reached Filia's ears while Jillas was saying something akin to encouraging the prince not to be shy. She couldn't stay trapped in this standstill for any longer. She couldn't disappoint everyone to avoid whatever it was she was trying to avoid, which she didn't even understand herself. She moved her lips without sound. He gave her a questioning look. "Do it..." she pushed the simple syllables out. He did as he was told. She closed her eyes again and her mind was so overflowing with emotions, that she could interpret none.
Finally, after what felt like too soon, they parted. There was a pause, as if they momentarily considered doing it again, but the sound of clapping forced them to remember where they were. They stood up, a few more lines were spoken, the crowd cheered, the children were happy. Congratulations were given, laughter echoed, people moved around and Xellos slipped away. Filia kept pretending that nothing happened; she kept acting as if she was perfectly fine, but she was going on automatic. The whole afternoon and following evening was a complete blur.
xoxox xox xoxox
Elsewhere, at a restaurant... "May I join you?" Xellos asked with mock politeness the morning after the play incident. He had gone back to Wolf Pack Island that evening and obtained some valuable but vastly disturbing piece of information. The situation was getting worse and something had to be done.
"The only one welcomed to join us right now is the main course," Lina replied. She and Gourry had been waiting for their breakfast to be brought when Xellos entered the restaurant and sat at their table, asking to join them only after he had already done so. "Unless of course, you're here to treat us. In which case, by all means, join us Xellos!" The condition of the world was improving, but that was not something that could happen overnight, much less completely. At least not until the Stillness had been defeated rather than simply pushed back. Plus the initial miraculous fertility of the land was starting to ware off, pushing the price of food back up as people feared a repeat of the famine. The Stillness was hidden, but alive and it wouldn't stay hidden for much longer.
"I've concluded that my less than grand financial state was your fault." Xellos stated and Lina looked like she would kick him out of the table, literally. Before things got violent, Xellos continued. "I could treat you to a meal, but not now."
The promise of a future meal was at least better than no meal at all, thus Lina decided to inquire for further information. "What's the catch?"
"Is it tuna? Salmon? Octopus?" Gourry added with his mouth watering. Both Lina and Xellos gave him strange looks, which made him explain. "You said catch, so I thought that must mean that Xellos is treating us to some seafood that he caught himself."
Letting out a 'should have known' breath, Lina tried to explain. "I meant to ask what he intends to request of us in return for that meal. Anyway," after clarifying for Gourry, the redhead turned her attention back to Xellos with a critical stare. "Seafood is good and it makes no difference who caught it, but no one wants to eat your cooking. So if you planned to treat us to a meal you cooked yourself then forget it!"
"Clearly your unrefined culinary taste doesn't understand my genius," Xellos defended. "How about a dish prepared by Beast Master?"
With a starry look in her eyes, Lina slammed both hands on the table and leaned forward towards Xellos. "Zelas' dragon cuisine?" She almost squealed in excitement.
"Really? Dragon cuisine made by Zelas?" Gourry joined in with a similar expression.
Xellos pouted, it wasn't fair that his cooking never got this kind of reaction. He was made from the very essence of Beast Master. If she was good in the kitchen, he stubbornly reasoned that he had to possess commendable culinary talents too. It just didn't make any sense that such a talented chef could produce such a mediocre cook. Zelas sometimes secretly wondered about that herself, but was never able to pinpoint where she went wrong. "Yes, Zelas' dragon cuisine. Naturally, you can't tell Filia about that."
"Do we look suicidal?" Lina snapped. Going back into the main order of business, she questioned. "So, when will Beast Master be treating us to her delicious cooking?"
"She's not," before Xellos could be strangled for getting Lina's hopes up falsely, he clarified. "I'll convince Zelas to make some dragon and deliver the cuisine to you. How about some dimos steak?"
Lina and Gourry nodded eagerly. "Yes, dimos," the sorceress agreed, "that sounds meaty."
"As for the catch," Xellos continued, Lina's eyes immediately becoming focused, while Gourry was still in the blissful land of his gluttonous imagination. "I want your assistance in breaking up a couple."
Immediately, Lina's focused critical eyes increased their suspicion. "Stop beating around the bush and get on with it already."
"I am not in the liberty to discuss it openly here and now." Xellos glanced around the restaurant, eying each customer suspiciously without actually opening his eyes. "Let's just say that their union is politically adverse. I will also require absolute secrecy on both your parts." He was getting desperate, he didn't want to include more people in this, but he had to. Besides, involving Lina Inverse in important situations had generally let to their solution, more or less, in the past, so perhaps it could work this time too. "I see the waiter is on his way, we will discuss this further later. I will be waiting."
xoxox xox xoxox
That afternoon at Filia's shop in Seyruun... "Hey, Stupid Dragon," Xellos appearing out of nowhere was nothing unusual for Filia anymore. The fact that he waited until the afternoon on the day following the play to appear was the real surprise. She thought he would come gloat sooner.
Determined to take his teasing in stride and allow him to get to her as little as possible, Filia turned around from her task of polishing a vase and resisted the urge to break it on Xellos' face. "What do you want, raw garbage?"
"I'm just dropping by to tell you to get ready." Xellos smiled with an overload of sweetness that added more suspicion to his already suspicious nature.
This was just like in the play. Filia couldn't simply ignore him because one way or another it would work in his favor. Xellos was not one of those annoyances that went away when he was ignored; he was the kind of deep annoyance that persisted. She also couldn't figure out a course of action that would prove to be beneficial against him, this was a dead end. "Get ready for what?" She finally asked, knowing that it was inevitable to have to play along.
"The beach," Xellos simply stated. As an answer to Filia's puzzled look he elaborated. "That is where we must go to continue with our mission. Leave someone in charge of your shop, say goodbye to Val, do what you must so that you have no distractions when you get there. Things are becoming critical."
Filia was surprised that Xellos had not started teasing her about the kiss, but apparently he had a good reason. Their ongoing mission concerning Zelas and Milgazia had seen basically no progress. She didn't like the sound of this. "What do you mean critical?"
"Public," Xellos stated with dread. "Zelas is spending the day at the beach with Milgazia. At this rate they'll probably be discovered. We need to, not only break them up, but also somehow cover for them. I'm not sure how we'll manage that, but let's just get there first."
"Right," Filia nodded urgently. Without any further delays, she left behind all the needed preparations and allowed Xellos to teleport her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Aside from the slightly lightheaded disorientation that came with teleportation for non-monsters at times, Filia felt no sickness. She recovered in seconds, taking in the scenery before her as she stepped out from behind the closely rooted group of palm trees they teleported behind. Taking a deep breath, she observed the beach below clear skies in front of a beautiful ocean. There were many people there, all dressed accordingly to their location. She reasoned that she would stand out with what she was wearing, as would Xellos, and glanced over at him to express her concerns. Then she noticed that he was not wearing the same clothes that he had on a second ago and quickly looked away. "When did you have time to change into shorts?"
"While we were teleporting," Xellos nonchalantly pointed out. He appeared to be too occupied in the task of trying to spot someone in the crowd at the beach to say anything teasing to Filia. Instead he put his attention into signaling to someone.
Lina waved to the new arrivals and hurried over. She was already in a two piece swimsuit, with Gourry following after her in shorts. Lina carried a bag over her shoulder, which she offered to Filia. "This is for you." She tilted her head to Xellos as she half informed and half accused, "he picked it."
"What is it?" Filia examined the bag. The fact that Xellos had personally chosen whatever its contents consisted of was bad enough.
"Just something for you to blend in." Xellos grinned mischievously before getting back to business. "Has there been any activity?"
"Not much," Lina informed. "They arrived, set up some beach chairs and umbrellas and that's pretty much it. Oh and they didn't put sunscreen on each other, he put sunscreen on himself and she didn't, but I guess she doesn't really need it." Of course, Lina did not point out that she had received and given some sunscreen assistance from and to Gourry.
"I see," Xellos acknowledged the information. "I'm going to check on the targets personally. She must have noticed my arrival, so it will only look suspicious if I'm too avoidant."
Xellos began to walk away, only to be stopped by Filia's complaints. "I'm not wearing this!"
"What's the problem?" Xellos innocently inquired. "I think the purple one is best, but if you really don't want to wear it, there's also a black one and even a pink one."
Filia glared, red faced. "I'm not wearing any of them, especially not the pink one!" Although the pink bikini in the bag did not include any hearts, it reminded her of the pink bikini she wore in that insane dream where Xellos was a cat-chimera and showed too much skin. She assumed that everything was a construct of her own misbehaving imagination and that most of what she saw was probably pretty far from reality, because she had no way to know what certain realities were like. However, she had to admit now that she had a better view of him, that her imagination was disturbingly accurate when it came to Xellos.
"You can stop spacing out and staring at me any time now, stupid dragon." Xellos mocked with infinite amusement. "I know you want me, but try to control yourself, we have a mission to accomplish!"
"I don't want anything to do with you, raw garbage!" Filia threw the bag at Xellos, her face scarlet in embarrassment and anger.
Xellos passed the bag back to Lina, "talk to her, okay? I'll be back in a little while." Thus he left to give Beast Master a casual greeting and pretend that he wasn't sneaking around behind her back.
Lina grumbled something along the lines of, "it better be a big steak," before turning a suspiciously innocent smile at Filia. "Why don't you try on one of these nice bikinis, Filia?"
Filia's face gained a look of suspicious disbelief. Then suddenly it all made sense. "Xellos bribed you with food, didn't he? How could you listen to that piece of raw garbage?"
"That is a secret," Gourry stated as if he had been rehearsing the line many times. Filia was not amused. Because of Xellos' strong insistence in secrecy, which Lina understood when he revealed his dilemma, Lina had made sure to train Gourry to keep his mouth shut. If he felt the need to say something, he was to tend to it by speaking Xellos' trademark phrase. The extreme precaution would go on until Lina explicitly told Gourry that it was okay to speak other words. Of course, she wouldn't do that until after she had feasted on the promised culinary delicacy.
As long as Filia didn't know what kind of food Xellos bribed them with, Lina reasoned that they were in the clear. Besides, she didn't go around whining about human cuisine, although it had been banned from the dragon race for many centuries before Lina existed. Going for a more direct approach Lina revealed. "Gourry and I are in on the situation with Zelas and Milgazia. We're here to help with the mission, so we're all on the same team, you can trust us, right Gourry?"
"That is a secret," Gourry replied with a smile.
"That doesn't exactly inspire trust," Filia frowned.
"Never mind the jellyfish brain; he's just playing a game with Xellos!" Lina laughed, then once again gained a look of determination. "If we're going to save Milgazia, certain sacrifices must be made. Please pick something to wear and blend in with the crowd. If you don't, you might end up accidentally sabotaging the mission!"
Filia sighed hopelessly, "I suppose so. This is the beach and this is how people dress here. Okay, I'll do it, just point me towards the change rooms. When I come out, if Xellos says anything, make him shut up or I won't be able to contain the need to transform and go on a rampage." Honestly, her nerves were on edge enough as it was. She kept wondering when Xellos was going to bring up the play incident.
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"Hello, Lord Beast Master," Xellos cheerfully greeted, making a fine effort to pretend he didn't want to kill Milgazia. The golden dragon elder seemed absorbed in the task of covering every inch of exposed skin with sunscreen. His dragon scales could take the sun no problem, but he didn't want to get sunburn in his human form.
"Hello, Xellos," Zelas replied in the same cheerful manner. She had earlier told Milgazia that he was too pale. Her alternate identity as Yuna wasn't as tan as her monster lord form, which she currently had, but she still thought Milgazia needed some color in his skin. That was why she dragged him to the beach. Of course, Xellos thought it was a date, a dangerously public date. Zelas couldn't call this brass rackets business if she was not in the form of Yuna Wolf. "Taking my pawns for a walk?"
"Yes," Xellos grinned. Zelas must have already noticed Lina and Gourry.
"Have fun then," Zelas finished. She had no assignments for Xellos at the moment and it didn't particularly bother her if he spent the day playing with his pet dragon, Lina and her friends.
"I'll try to," after the simple exchange, Xellos left. The only thing he would find fun right about now would be to see Zelas dump Milgazia's sorry tail.
Xellos was focused on how angry at Milgazia he was, until another feeling that was clearly not his own entered his senses via taste. Filia, this was Filia, it was as if Xellos was subconsciously tuned to her whenever she was in range. He moved closer and realized that she was not feeling good at all. Something shook her terribly, but what? There were no commotions going on, as everyone went along with their fun day at the beach. What could have upset and frighten Filia so terribly? Wasn't she with Lina and Gourry?
Xellos hurried towards her. He passed next to Gourry, who was standing in line at a crowded ice-cream stand. That particular business had many more customers than the ice-cream stands next to it, though it was hard to say why. The ice-cream being sold there appeared to be just the same as any ordinary ice-cream. "What happened to Filia?"
"That is a secret," Gourry replied with his practiced line.
"...right," annoyed, Xellos hurried away. He couldn't even begin to guess what the problem was and that really bothered him.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 138: Beach! The Sky, The Sand And The Sea
"Hurry up, Filia!" Lina called in front of the change room Filia had entered. The redhead put her ear to the door and thought she heard sounds of discomfort.
Filia peeked out, her face looking rather distressed. "Could you get me one of those things around your waist?" She pleaded as if she had just received a terrible shock.
"Are you really that embarrassed?" Lina untied the semi-see-through pink wrap around her waist and handed it to Filia. "You can use this one. Seriously, the bikinis aren't that bad. I talked Xellos into not going with his first choice. I know you would have never agreed to wear that even if the fate of the world as we know it depended on it."
After another pause, Filia finally emerged wearing the black bikini with Lina's pink wrap around her waist. "Let's focus on the mission," she breathed uncomfortably.
Somewhat jealous due to her usual chest concerns, Lina pouted. "I don't see what the fuss is about. And by the way, that," she pointed at the pink fabric, "is not supposed to be tied around the waist like that."
"The fabric is too thin," Filia remarked. "If I must blend in, please get me a one piece from one of the nearby shops. Please, Lina..." she pleaded.
"Sheesh, how embarrassed can you be?" Lina was getting very impatient, especially since Gourry wasn't back with the ice-cream she sent him to buy. "If that idiot Xellos told you you're fat, it's a lie."
"That's not it," Filia shook her head. It wasn't really her body that she was set on hiding but rather something that shouldn't be there. It was a nonsensical realization that frightened her with its absolute lack of explanation as far as she could remember. Her recent experiences provided her with no clues and it made it all the more confusing to think about the possible origin of the situation. "Please Lina."
"Alright," Lina finally agreed. Something had truly frightened Filia; it was plainly visible in her face. The golden dragon's expression filled the sorceress with concern; whatever was bothering her was so sudden, yet so serious. Lina wasn't sure what this was about, but she blamed Xellos. The redhead hurried away to hastily pick a bathing suit for Filia.
Filia locked herself in the tiny space of the change room and focused on her breathing. She mentally told herself over and over to calm down, but was unable to. She reasoned that this surprise would not be so shocking if she still held her memories, because then the cause would be evident, but it wasn't. She would tell Jillas and Gravos about it, they would know what answer to give her. Actually, Lina might know herself. She could tell her, she would be back soon, Filia would ask her in a few minutes and her world would make a little more sense. Everything would be okay, this wasn't a huge catastrophe, just a big shock, but she could deal with it, it would be okay... Unless a certain someone interrupted... and he did.
"Filia!" Xellos' sudden voice made Filia jump inside the tiny change room as he attempted to open it.
"You can't come in!" Filia shouted back.
"What happened?" Xellos inquired, the urgency becoming hidden once again now that he knew that she was at least safe enough to answer him.
"Nothing," Filia lied. "I just sent Lina to get me something to wear, because I don't feel comfortable wearing anything that you picked, that's all. When she comes back, I'll change and we can continue with the mission."
"That seems like a pretty poor reason to be this upset." Xellos pointed out with insistence.
"Mind your own business, raw garbage!" Filia snapped, she was hiding something, she was definitely hiding something.
Lina finally arrived with a bag on hand containing her recent purchase. She could have sworn she caught Xellos glaring at her for a split second as if accusing her for leaving Filia alone for a moment. Yet oddly, he seemed to be truly innocent of being the cause of the golden dragon's recent discomfort. It was true that he wasn't even there when Filia's mood shifted so sharply, but this was Xellos, so it was hard to take him out of the suspect list at times. Lina glared right back, pushing Xellos out of the way with her eyes. "I'm back," she simply declared with a neutral tone.
Filia opened the change room door slightly and received the bag Lina offered. Before the golden dragon could close the door again, Xellos pulled it open all the way. Filia was wearing the black bikini with the pink wrap Lina previously wore loosely on her hips tied around her waist, the fabric folded twice over, tied in front in a rather silly way. Odd fashion sense aside, Filia had no visible injuries. She glared at Xellos and close the change room door again, giving Lina a look that requested her to guard the door.
Not entirely sure about what the odd exchange was about, Lina stood in front of the closed door. "No peeking," she warned, leaning her back against the door and glaring at Xellos.
The purple haired monster gave the redhead sorceress a playfully innocent look, silently noting that Lina appeared to be just as confused about Filia's distressed reaction as much as he was. "I wasn't going to."
Lina placed her hands on her hips and reminded in a quiet whisper so that only Xellos could hear. "Filia still has amnesia, you'll creep her out if you move too fast."
Xellos sensed that there was some kind of hidden meaning to Lina's words, but unfortunately he was unable to decipher it, given the fact that he was suffering from missing memories himself. "Of course," he grinned as if he knew exactly what she was talking about.
"I'm ready," Filia called from inside the change room, prompting Lina to move aside and grant her exit from the enclosed space. The golden dragon emerged in a pale blue one piece swim suit. The fabric was so form fitting that it left very little to the imagination and made Xellos muse that it made no sense what so ever that Filia would be so insistent on wearing something else, if despite showing less skin in the middle she was in a sense showing her body just as much as before. Maybe she just wanted to contradict him; that certainly sounded like something she would do. Feeling rather uncomfortable under Xellos studying gaze, Filia urged them to move on with the mission. "We should get to work now, before the wrong people find out about-" she stopped as the unmistakable sensation of a powerful monster arriving ran down her spine.
Xellos looked towards the beach. Beyond the shore where Beast Master and Milgazia were, in the distance, in the water, that's where that newly arrived power was. It was Deep Sea Dolphin. "I'll be right back." Xellos ducked into one of the unoccupied change rooms and teleported away. He was off to casually greet the monster lord of the sea, pretending it was a mere coincidence that he was there. Perhaps if she inquired about Zelas and Milgazia, Xellos could come up with some sort of excuse to tell her.
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"Greetings, Lord Deep Sea Dolphin," Xellos floated above the water while Dolphin stood on a surf board with amazing balance.
"Greetings to you too, Xellos," Dolphin replied. "I take it your arrival to greet me means you are aware of my intentions?"
"That is a secret," Xellos replied with what he said when he couldn't or didn't want to directly reply to something. He didn't lie if it was his choice, but he kept a lot of convenient silences at times. In truth, he didn't know what Dolphin intended to do, but whatever it was, he theorized that he wouldn't like it.
Dolphin shook her head, "not really," she casually replied. "It's not a secret at all. I'm sure it's rather obvious for you that I intend to make a big tidal wave and cause chaos. I'm sure that Zelas must have guessed my intentions as well. She overdid it with the whole power of the Sea of Chaos incident and the world was fixed more than necessary, was she ever angry about that miscalculation." Although there were certain details that Zelas had not entirely shared with Dolphin, she was a little more informed now than she had been before. But I suppose I can't stay angry at her forever, it would not serve any useful purpose to do so," Dolphin concluded. "Has Zelas sent you here to buy time? I see, so she's not done with her day at the beach with Milgazia yet."
At the shock of the casual tone with which Dolphin address the situation that should have been a secret, Xellos felt his ability to levitate weaken from the mental hit and he fell into the water.
Dolphin ignored the mishap, assuming that Xellos had allowed himself to fall into the water on purpose. "Fine, there is no rush. I'll save my tidal wave for later, it will give the beach more time to continue getting crowded and make the event even better. Besides, I want to see what happens if Zelas' determination to put some color on Milgazia's skin backfires and he gets sunburn. That would be hilarious."
"You know about that?" Xellos couldn't help it but to ask. "About them?"
"That Milgazia is Zelas' partner for LIFE?" Though Dolphin was talking about the League of International Fellowship on Earth, once again, it was impossible to hear capital letters being spoken when one spoke them as a word rather than spelling them out. "Of course I know about it. Dynast knows about it, everyone and their minion knows about it."
This was bad, very bad. Almost afraid to ask, Xellos prompted for more information with a simple, "and?"
"And what? I think it's a fine idea, I'll be there to feast during the big event, it'll be deliciously chaotic." Dolphin concluded as she thought about the scheduled to be ruined brass rackets tournament that was to come.
Xellos assumed that Dolphin was referring to what would happen when the dragons decided to make their move to take a stand against the odd pair. Or at least against Milgazia if they didn't dare to pick a fight with Beast Master. "I see..." Xellos managed to voice. A larger portion of the monster race than he thought was aware of this? Dolphin and Dynast were not trying to use the fact against Zelas? It was all so terribly suspicious. Maybe they were only holding back for the time being to see what would happen. Then, after the dragons snapped and dragged Milgazia's good reputation through the mud, it would be time for the other monster lords to do the same with Zelas' evil reputation. A stop had to be put to this madness before it was too late. Surely Beast Master would be glad for Xellos' interference when she went back to her sane senses after he got rid of that meddlesome golden dragon. "Well then, I guess I'll leave you to your surfing." With those words of parting, Xellos disappeared from Dolphin's side and returned to rejoin his comrades of relationship sabotage.
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Xellos found Lina, Gourry and Filia eating some ice-cream. Filia offered him an extra cone that she had protected from Gourry and Lina, who claimed that Xellos' didn't need ice-cream anyway. In his defense, Filia noted that it would help him blend in with the crowd if he had some. The four stood around casually under the warm sun until Lina made a comment that, according to Filia was very inappropriate. "Xellos is back now, are you sure you don't want his help?"
"I already finished on my own," Filia huffed. She seemed to be displeased at Lina, possibly due to something the redhead said while Xellos was away.
"What are they talking about?" Xellos asked Gourry.
"That is a secret," Gourry replied with a casual smile.
"Right..." Xellos recalled Lina mentioning something about training Gourry to keep the secret of Zelas and Milgazia, which Xellos had realized was not so secretive after all. "What was it that you wanted to ask of me, stupid dragon?"
"Nothing!" Filia snapped.
"I just told her you could help her with her sunscreen, but she didn't take to the idea very well." Lina explained, adding with slight exasperation. "It was just an innocent suggestion."
"I wouldn't have minded," Xellos offered with a teasing mischievous grin.
"No," Filia affirmed flatly. At least she had mostly calmed down from her previous mysterious panic. Maybe she was worrying about something trivial after all, yet it had tasted so intense...
"This ice-cream is pretty ordinary." Lina commented in an attempt to diffuse the tension in the air and also because it was true. "It's still good, but ordinary, don't you think so?"
"That is a secret," Gourry voiced with a nod of agreement.
Wanting to move the conversation into neutral territory, Filia spoke. "I agree." She looked at all the ice-cream stands. A particular one was full of customers with a long line, while the other businesses around it were empty. Anyone would guess that the ice-cream from that particular stand was special, but it wasn't.
"It's Cactuar," Xellos pointed at the cactus that was next to the ice-cream stand. Upon closer inspection the odd plant didn't appear to be a plant at all. It was actually a monster. "He attracts people and when they touch him they're in for a lot of pain because of his needles. Then he can feed off their pain. It looks like the ice-cream is distracting people though. They keep thinking that's what's attracting them and line up to buy it instead of going over to try to hug Cactuar. I bet he's frustrated he has to compete with ice-cream. He's probably too prideful to move from there until he manages to get at least one victim to pick him up."
Lina was about to comment on the newly obtained information, but she was interrupted by a beach ball to the face. "Who threw that?" She shouted enraged, her face red with wrath.
"Over here!" Martina waved. "I'm so sorry about that," she didn't really sound sincere. "Would you mind throwing the ball back?"
Sensing that a battle was about to break lose and their game of beach volleyball would not be resumed any time soon, Zangulus approached the group and found another way to entertained himself. "How about a spar, Gourry?"
Gourry nodded eagerly, "that is a secret!" He quickly finished his ice-cream and followed. Zangulus didn't understand his strange reply, but Gourry seemed eager to spar and that was all that really mattered.
"Martina!" Lina's blood boiled. "I'll get you for this!" She threw the ball violently towards Martina, who ducked out of the way. Coincidentally, a thin young man happened to be passing by behind Martina, minding his own business, and got the full hit of the spherical projectile. The man, who happened to be none other than Jeffrey Mailstar, was knocked to the sandy ground harshly. Lina gasped in horror and Martina didn't quite understand her fright.
"You hit Jeffrey..." A woman whose face was covered by an executioner mask showed up out of seemingly nowhere. Her voice was ominous, threatening, creepy and there was a murderous feel to her aura.
"It was an accident!" Lina wailed at the top of her lungs. Hoping that she was able to make up for the accidental attack before Josephine lived up to her executioner image, Lina dashed over to Jeffrey. "I'm so sorry!" She picked him up off the ground and set him on his feet like a particularly thin and fragile rag doll. "I didn't mean to hit you, it was an accident!" She brushed the sand off his thin form desperately. "You're okay, right? You forgive me, don't you?"
Jeffrey coughed out sand; he had gotten quite a face-full of it when he fell. "I'm alright miss, don't worry. A strong knight like me can't be hurt so easily." Once he managed to rub the sand out of his eyes, he noticed that the girl who had helped him up looked familiar. "I have met you before, haven't I? Oh yes, I remember, you're Lina Inverse!"
Lina nodded nervously, as she still felt Josephine's critical murderous gaze burning a metaphorical hole on the back of her head. "That's right, I'm your friend, remember? We're great pals!"
"We are?" Jeffrey smiled, "of course we are!" He stood proudly in a pose that, given his extremely lanky physique, only managed to look ridiculous and not at all dashing. "I'm really lucky. Wherever I go, people are always very nice and friendly towards me, especially those masked tourists." Who were in reality his mother playing bodyguard from the shadows.
Josephine's wrath appeared to have calmed down, thus Lina breathed in relief. Martina on the other hand, was still stunned. "What just happened?" She wondered aloud. "One second you're a total fury and the next you're acting like that scrawny kid's personal maid."
"You dare to call Jeffrey scrawny?" Josephine's rage was once again provoked as she dashed towards Martina swinging her hammer violently.
"Ah!" Martina was quick to dodge the deadly blow and broke into a run, trying to escape from the seemingly insane hammer wielding lady in the executioner mask. "Save me Zoamelgustar!"
Zangulus and Gourry were amused by sparring, Martina was busy running for her life and Josephine was giving chase. All the while Xellos and Filia watched the scene with amusement. Just when Lina thought the surprises were over and she could concentrate on the mission that Xellos hired her to do, a familiar voice called out. "Miss Lina, Miss Filia, Mr. Xellos!" Amelia approached the group waving cheerfully.
Zelgadis was running after her. It looked like the chimera couldn't decide if he should be embarrassed of showing more of his blue rocky skin than he had ever shown before in a public place or be fascinated staring at Amelia in her bikini. "Amelia, Zel! I knew you were traveling around, but I wasn't expecting to run into you," Lina greeted them.
Xellos mused that this was not a good development in terms of his mission. If Amelia heard about his plans to sabotage Zelas and Milgazia's beach date, she would surely set out to sabotage the sabotage. Perhaps they could pretend that they were all just there for a fun day at the beach and the naive princess would actually believe it.
Or perhaps not... "Maybe you can help us with our mission. We need to make Zelas and Milgazia break up for the good of all that is fair and just in the world." Lina declared. Gourry would probably be distracted with his little spar with Zangulus for a while, so Lina reasoned that they could probably use some extra help.
Amelia frowned, Filia cringed and Xellos reproached, "Lina!"
"What?" Lina wasn't sure what she had done wrong. Then it came to her, or so she thought. "You don't need to worry about Amelia and Zel, I'm sure they can keep a secret and they can help us." Turning her attention back to the pouting Amelia, Lina, who didn't know why the princess had such a sour look on her face all of a sudden, proceeded with her main argument of persuasion. "Zelas is totally using Milgazia and that's not fair. So in the name of justice, we need to save him from a harmful relationship with a monster lord."
"That's not true," Amelia firmly declared as she pointed her accusing finger of justice at Xellos. "Mr. Xellos is just being overprotective of his mother; you can't believe what he says. You saw Zelas and Milgazia dancing that romantic tango at the party at Seyruun before. Don't you see that they're in love? Xellos is just having trouble accepting it. Miss Lina, instead of helping fuel his undue resentment, you should be helping Mr. Xellos come to terms with his troubled emotions and accept Milgazia as his step-father!"
While Amelia went on with her horrifying speech, Xellos desperately tried to distract himself by singing the 'life is wonderful' song.
To be Continued