Filia let out a deep breath as she leaned back in her tub and relaxed on the early afternoon of February fourteen. She was still upset over a few aspects of the recent happenings, but she was overall, feeling better. She had inquired more about what happened during the time she couldn't remember with Amelia suggesting that she got the full story from Xellos. She had mentioned that they spent a lot of time together, so Filia assumed that was the reason for the princess' suggestion. Obviously, she didn't know that Xellos had amnesia too. Filia didn't mention it. She didn't prolong the morning conversation too much, since Amelia surely had plans with Zelgadis.
Lina would soon return to Seyruun for a visit and Filia intended to ask her for information too, since she had been, as in the past, leading the group of adventurers as far as Filia understood. Plus the redhead would probably be more direct than Amelia anyway. As for Jillas and Gravos, they were not there while Filia was traveling last year, so they would be telling her a story based on a story, a retelling of a retelling, making it likely for more details to be lost.
Taking in the sweet scent of the candle she had placed in a corner of the bathroom, Filia allowed herself to sink a little deeper into the tub, the water up to her neck as she laid in it. Then she heard it, "emergency!" That was Xellos' voice. Filia was startled and instinctively sat up as he once again called out, "emergency!" Then he suddenly appeared, fading out of the astral side right in front of her tub.
Filia gasped, her face scarlet in embarrassment and anger at the invasion of her personal space. She lowered herself into the tub as much as she could with one arm over her chest, using the other to throw a bar of soap at Xellos. "Get out!" The flying soap was soon followed by a bottle of shampoo and any other solid objects Filia could get her hands on without leaving the tub. "Get out!" Filia paused as Xellos disappeared again. She stared at the floor where a pile of clothes were left where he was a split second prior. Those were Xellos' clothes, but where was he?
Splash! Filia jumped, startled again, and turned to face the other end of the tub, her arms folded over her chest, knees bent against her body. There was Xellos, naked in the tub with her. Filia was about to yell, but Xellos reached over to her first, his hands on her shoulders as he leaned his face close to hers. "Filia, we have an emergency!" He insisted with great urgency, both eyes open showing something akin to terror.
"You... you're..." Filia stuttered, unable to find something sufficiently insulting to say. She settled for her usual "raw garbage!"
"Yes, I get it, I saw you, you saw me, we're even, get over it." Xellos insisted as he drew Filia closer. "We have a big emergency on our hands. That stupid, infuriating, disgusting dragon elder Milgazia gave Beast Master an engagement ring!" Milgazia had called it a gift of peaceful diplomacy, but Xellos' spying position was too far away to hear. Zelas had thought it was silly, but the jewel was very beautiful, so she accepted it.
"What?" Filia gasped, "they're engaged? That's terrible!" She loudly exclaimed. "When are they getting married, how long do we have to stop the wedding?"
"I don't know," Xellos admitted. "I came here to tell you the horrible news right away. I'll go find out!" He disappeared, just as suddenly as he came.
Filia released the breath she didn't even realize she was holding. She reached for a towel and wrapped it around herself as she got out of the tub. Then Xellos appeared again, teleporting right in front of her in the same state of undress in which he had left, picked up his clothes from the floor and faded away again. Filia almost dropped her towel in surprise. "You piece of raw garbage! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" She finished drying herself off and dressed before Xellos decided to pop out again, trying her best to make her wildly beating heart slow down to a normally paced rhythm.
xoxox xox xoxox
Next to the brass rackets court in the surface of Wolf Pack Island, Zelas and Milgazia had, because of the gift, gotten into a conversation on the subject of diplomacy. She pointed out that diplomats were supposed to amuse each other and he actually offered to tell her a joke. Intrigued, Zelas listened. Unfortunately for her, she didn't know how terribly dull Milgazia's jokes were. Memphis found them to be funny and some of the dragons did too, but Lina had said in a past occasion that his jokes would probably cause some serious pain for astral beings. Milgazia thought that humans simply didn't understand dragon jokes, but given that Zelas had been around for so many years, she would surely understand his joke.
There she stood, feeling terribly nauseated, though she tried not to show any outward signs of it as she kept a frozen expression like a statue. That hurt, it actually hurt, it wasn't enough to really injure her, but it was very unpleasant. She didn't want Milgazia or anyone to know of how powerful the mental strain of such a horrible joke could be, so Zelas resolved not to act rashly, but it was too late. Though her face remained still, her body had reacted automatically in the same cliche yet effective action often taken by a woman who had been in some way offended. She slapped him.
Realizing that there was no way to pretend she wasn't annoyed now, Zelas growled a simple, but very commanding, "leave." This time she allowed her face to show her murderous anger. She would come up with an explanation for this later if Milgazia had the nerve to question her actions. For now, she just wanted to be alone so she could compose herself. Milgazia did not push his luck, he was no fool. He swiftly retreated and didn't look back a single time, as he flew away from Wolf Pack Island full speed.
Xellos watched the scene from afar; he was at a safe enough distance not to have heard the joke. A wave of relief washed over him, a slap on the face was a sure sign of a refusal. Zelas must have never wanted a formal relationship, Xellos mused. Since Xellos left to vent to Filia so soon, he missed part of their argument. He reasoned that Milgazia must have insisted on the proposal and Zelas made it clear that it was over by slapping him. This was great! He had to tell Filia.
xoxox xox xoxox
By the time Xellos returned to the shop, Filia was fully dressed, coincidentally wearing the dress he got her last Christmas. She was almost done brushing her hair. He faded out of the astral side, making her drop her brush. Without even bothering to scold him for startling her yet again, she inquired impatiently. "What did you find out?"
Xellos was smiling as he opened one eye and delivered the news. Yet even before he said anything Filia knew something favorable must have taken place. He was obviously feeling much better than a few minutes ago. This wasn't just a cheerful mask, this was real relief. "They broke up!" He happily exclaimed. "She refused him, slapped him and sent him away with his tail between his claws!" Xellos laughed a mocking cheerful laughter.
"Wow," was all that Filia could say. She should have been glad, she should be sharing in Xellos' euphoria, but she wasn't so sure if the news was good or bad after all. She felt sorry for Milgazia being played like that, but at least the terrible relationship was over before it brought about worse consequences.
Two young voices called out, "mommy!" and "aunty Filia!" as Val and Palou made their way upstairs. They found the door to Filia's room was open, seeing her and Xellos inside and let themselves in. Since it was Valentine's Day, Filia offered to take care of the boys so everyone else could enjoy a romantic afternoon.
Smiling, Filia asked them, "are you ready to have a fun afternoon!"
"Yes!" The boys cheered in response.
The golden dragon glanced at Xellos, mentioning what was by now obvious. "I'm taking care of the boys this afternoon so..." She wasn't sure what she wanted to say. Was she going to ask him not to cause trouble for her, or maybe...
"I don't have any plans for today; I guess I'll tag along." Filia didn't protest to Xellos' decision. Val and Palou seemed happy that he was coming too, so she decided it was best to present no opposition, even if it meant she would probably spend the rest of the day trying to stop Xellos from causing trouble and teaching the boys how to be tricksters like him. Filia didn't know how right she was.
xoxox xox xoxox
More than a few dates around the city were sabotaged with everything from sneaking hot sauce into the shared milkshakes of couples who were too distracted looking into each other's eyes, to some minor water related spells to make a few people cool off when they rather stay dry. Filia tried her best to keep her mischievous companions from causing too much trouble, but that usually ended up with Xellos distracting her with something or other and sending his little apprentices to do the mischief in his place.
Filia was determined not to allow herself to be distracted and though she didn't really fall for the distractions, they still worked due to the fact that she couldn't hold the hands of two very hyper boys and get Xellos' arms off her body all at the same time. More than once she resolved to hold hands with Val and Palou no matter what Xellos did, but when the hugs turned to kisses she had to let them go and get Xellos' teasing under control.
After she returned home later that night and the boys went to sleep, Filia went to her balcony and looked at the calm city. She was in a pleasant mood despite the apologies she had to come up with when the boys got caught and she was pointed out to be the one responsible for them. Thankfully, that didn't happen too often and towards the later half of their outing, the boys didn't get caught at all, though their pranks had become more daring. Their trickster skills were clearly developing.
Leaning on the balcony of her shop, Filia breathed, "you're a bad influence." Despite the way her afternoon and evening went or perhaps more so because of it, she was in a good mood.
"Am I, really?" Xellos sounded as if he had no idea what Filia was talking about, though he obviously did. He wrapped his arms around her waist, finding no resistance against the motion.
She turned around to face him, surprised at herself for returning the embrace so openly. He kissed her and it felt comfortable and familiar. It wasn't simply because they had kissed before during the play, there was something else to it, but Filia couldn't quite put her finger on it. For the time being she didn't overanalyze it and just enjoyed the moment.
xoxox xox xoxox
The next day, Filia was happily putting out some new vases, arranging them neatly in her shop shelves when a most unexpected visitor arrived. Filia nearly dropped the vase in her hands, just barely managing to hold on to it. Then she clutched it so hard it almost shattered.
"Careful, you're about to break that." Zelas pointed at the vase with the end of her cigarette, depositing its ashes into the cracked vase Filia was holding.
Frowning deeply, Filia set the cracked, ash-filled vase on the shelf nearest to her and placed her hands on her hips. Before she said something that was probably very foolish given who she was talking to, Val ran up the stairs, speaking before he even reached the second floor completely. "Uncle Phil is giving Palou and me martial arts lessons, so we're going to the castle gardens!" Noticing the presence of Zelas, little Val went over to her. He wasn't sure what to say, since he was still playing secret around his mother, thus he settled for greeting her by saying, "that is a secret." Filia didn't know how to react, she froze, worried for Val.
"Ah yes, I am a woman of many secrets indeed." Zelas patted Val on the head, who smiled up at her. "Go play now, you don't want to be late for your lessons." With that simple statement, Val was safely sent away, off to spend the day with Palou and Phil learning the pacifist crush.
The scare made Filia more aware of the danger. She couldn't let her temper get the best of her with Zelas, but she could, at the very least, show her displeasure, she simply had to. "Have you come to pick on me?"
Zelas laughed, "a tempting offer, but no. I wanted to show you something." She dropped her cigarette on the floor and Filia stepped on it to put it out before anything caught on fire. "Come see," Zelas didn't invite, she ordered. Before Filia could protest, she was ceased by the wrist and teleported away.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelas and Filia reappeared at Wolf Pack Island in front of a peculiar machine with spinning gears and a glass orb. Inside the orb there was what appeared to be a dragon egg with black energy swirling within it. "Do you recognize it?" The monster lord inquired.
A strong perplexity made its way into Filia's emotional spectrum to coexist with her still present rage. She looked into the glass, not daring to touch it. "It's the egg I laid, but it's bigger now." She focused on it, trying to concentrate in sensing its energy, it was alive. "This is Xellos' minion? Why this way?"
"He was a half-dragon from the start, an accidental creation of the enemy triggered by an involuntary defense mechanism of Xellos' power." Zelas explained in a calm and neutral tone. "Xellos later recognized Solex as his own person, since the master's recognition is vital for the minion to truly exist, to have an identity."
Filia caught most of what Zelas said, but she was only half listening. She leaned closer to the glass orb and finally reached over to touch it. It felt chaotic, yet not overwhelmingly so. She left her palms resting against the glass as she stared at the growing egg inside the magical machine. "Solex..." she whispered quietly. She felt a wave of emotion overtake her, as if she had been missing this boy without knowing it. "Solex..." Monster or not, beast minion or not, she wanted him to be safe, she wanted him to be happy. "He is half dragon," Filia stated, still looking at the egg. "As such, he might have certain necessities that a monster does not." The golden dragon left the sentence at that and looked back at Zelas.
"Do you feel attachment towards this creature? Are you offering to assist in the fulfillment of such necessities?" Zelas inquired, though the look in Filia's eyes already made it obvious.
"Yes, but I want to ask you something first." Filia dared to request.
Curious about what her question could be, Zelas nodded, "you may."
"Xellos said that you had a reason for everything you did," Filia recalled. "I think he's right, although that doesn't mean it's a justifiable reason. Even so, I wanted to ask for what reason you kept the situation about the empty egg a secret from both of us."
"Xellos inquired about that before. It seems he forgot to mention it or simply didn't care to tell you, since you're so unimportant," Zelas mocked.
Filia remained unfazed. With all that had been going on she could assume that Xellos just forgot to comment on the matter. It's not like she brought up the subject to him anyway. "Would you tell me the reason?" She tried to sound as neutral and diplomatic as she could so as to not further feed Zelas with her anger, though the wrath was still boiling inside her.
"It was for Solex benefit," Zelas revealed. "Dragon eggs are sensitive, I've heard. Exposing the egg to negative emotions would make it easier for it to absorb Xellos' monster energy later, to be a little more stable. This combination of dragon and monster is Solex new vessel, his soul now rests inside the egg. This is all that can be done to restore my minion. A lot of it will depend on his own subconscious desire to exist now."
Filia looked into the glass orb again. "It was necessary for Solex, you're not lying," she concluded.
"Deception by combining truth and silence is a test of wit, but lies are for the cowardly." Zelas stated in a calm yet strong tone. "If you lack the courage to state the truth or if the truth is counterproductive, don't say anything at all, or offer another truth in its place."
"That is a secret," Filia voiced Xellos' usual quote.
"Those words are very true in many situations," Zelas ascertained. "Here's another truth, though I took a deceiving approach for Solex's benefit, I think I would have taken the same action anyway if only for my own amusement."
Filia already expected this. "That's mean to Xellos' too," she frowned.
"I know, I pick on him sometimes too," Zelas grinned. "He's my favorite little minion, but I can't let my precious general priest become too overconfident and spoiled. It might diminish his defenses if he's in his comfort zone for too long and I can't have him getting hurt because of it. It's a pity that he cannot remember his full potential, the special ability that I allowed him to have."
Filia huffed, "that sounded almost caring."
Tilting her head in curious amusement Zelas looked directly into Filia's eyes and inquired. "Are you trying to insult me or compliment me?"
Filia wasn't sure how to answer to that. Instead she asked, "the special ability you allowed him to have?"
Zelas ignored Filia's lack of answer in favor of moving on to the real reason for their meeting. "It's a defense of sorts, albeit someone like you would say it's much more. You would know if you had your memories. Speaking of which, I know of a method to recover them and I am willing to assist you with that if you do a little something for me." She paused with a chuckle, seeing Filia's suspicious expression. "It's nothing too difficult, nothing beyond your low level of skill," Zelas mocked.
"Yuna Wolf," Beast Master's alternate identity as a supposedly human brass rackets athlete, "has been invited to participate in a brass rackets tournament organized by several past participants from the official women's tournament which I won. Even if my place in the upcoming male-female world-wide tournament is already decided, they want another chance to prove their skills I guess. Since this is an all women competition, I need a female partner to play brass rackets with me." There was a reason why Beast Master couldn't tell Xellos to wear a disguise and tag along with her, but she didn't think it was currently relevant, so she didn't mention it.
The topic of the tournament made Filia wonder if Zelas would still play brass rackets with Milgazia even if they supposedly broke up. Cautiously, Filia decided not to bring up the subject of Milgazia. She was intrigued and full of suspicion, along with the distinct feeling of having no choice. "Alright, I'll be your brass rackets partner for that one competition."
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 146: Rescue! Break Free And Rise Up
Filia frowned as she glared at the ground. She made a small hole in it and deposited a seed into it, then proceeded to cover the seed with dirt. She never would have guessed she would end up in such a situation. Tomorrow was the day when she had given Zelas her word concerning a temporary partnership for a women's brass rackets tournament, as for today, she was stuck in jail. The rumors came and went about a rare type of particularly delicious apples called banoras, reappearing in their world after they were thought to have been extinct. Filia went to investigate, but ended stopping for directions in the wrong town, a town that did not like dragons. She was quickly taken to jail, detained to await her trial.
At least they didn't automatically believe all dragons were evil, though they did distrust them. The trial was supposed to decide if she was a good or evil dragon. Though Filia could certainly overpower her captors with ease, she didn't. Determined to contribute to the human's positive view on dragons by showing she was good, Filia didn't try to fight back or run away. Thus that led her to her current position, doing forced agricultural labor in a loose fitting dress that looked more like a knee length shirt with black and white stripes. The field was next to the jail building, surrounded by tall brick walls and alert guards.
A few drops of water landed on Filia's head, though it was not raining. Apparently someone thought it was funny to steal her watering can and use it to water her head. Glaring dangerously, Filia stood upright and glared at the person who had arrived to annoy her. Her scolding voice dissolved in her throat as her mouth remained open and wordless. Xellos was grinning at her with the watering can on hand, wearing the same kind of silly black and white striped dress she was wearing, except that one was smaller, hugging feminine curves that shouldn't even be there. A black dragon tail was sticking out of the skirt with a purple bow on it. "What are you doing here?" Filia finally found her voice.
"I came to visit you," Xellos replied in a very girly voice. "I went to your shop first but you weren't there, so I looked around until I found you. Even with all the teleporting, it took me all day." It was evening now and Filia had flown out of Seyruun very early in the morning. "Too weak to escape?"
"No," Filia's explanation was interrupted by a guard calling out to them to stop being lazy. Filia went back to planting seeds as she explained, while Xellos watered them. "I want to prove I'm a good dragon, so I'm not going to escape." Granted that the trial took place tonight as a guard had mentioned earlier, because she really couldn't go back on her word to Zelas.
"Stupid dragon," Xellos watered another of the seeds as he chuckled mockingly, amused by Filia's stubborn predicament. She was in no real danger as she could very easily escape at any moment.
"You can say whatever you want; I've already made my choice, raw garbage." Filia stubbornly insisted. A few more seconds passed in silence until she inquired with mild curiosity. "Is that a disguise or did you just shape shift into a girl?"
Xellos leaned down slightly and whispered in a male voice so that only Filia could hear. "From that angle, you should be able to figure it out."
Filia immediately shot to her feet, making it clear she wasn't trying to look up his skirt. "I wasn't looking!" She shouted, getting odd stares from the other prisoners and a few reprimanding shouts from the guards.
Assuming that the two who were to the best of their misled knowledge both dragons, were plotting something sinister, one of the guards urged. "We should put them in maximum security solitary confinement!"
"But we only have one maximum security solitary confinement cell and there's two of them." Another guard reminded.
"We'll put them both on that solitary confinement cell then," the first guard insisted. "They're both girls, so they can be cellmates."
"Then the confinement wouldn't be solitary any more," the other guard pointed out and was ignored. The first guard only glared, as there was nothing more to argue against that logic.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few minutes later, Filia and the disguised Xellos were escorted to a lonely cell with no windows save for the small one of the heavy metal door, which only showed the dark empty hallway. Filia blamed everything on Xellos and was pouting and glaring with the silent promise of giving him an earful when the guards left them alone. After the guards locked them up and left, Filia glared though she couldn't see anything in the pitch black darkness of the cell. The hallway previously lit by an orb of light held by one of the guards was now in total darkness, as was the small enclosed space of the cell. Before Filia could reproach Xellos for their situation, her stomach growled loudly.
"Sounds like someone wants to devour some humans." Xellos teased, speaking in a normal tone of voice, since the guards were not there to hear him anyway.
"Shut up and give me your apple," Filia grumbled. It probably wasn't a banora, but it would do.
"Apple?" Xellos questioned curiously.
"Apple, orange, whatever," Filia insisted impatiently. They had not given her any food all day just because she was a dragon and she was cranky.
"I think the term you're looking for is banana," Xellos teasingly suggested.
"Bananas aren't round," Filia pointed out as a matter of fact. "Lina told me that Gourry once use fruit as part of his female disguise."
"So you just wanted food?" Xellos asked sounding purposely disappointed.
"What else would I be talking a-" realization fell upon Filia and her face turned red. "I didn't mean it like that and you know it!" Crossing her arms in indignation, regardless of whether or not the gesture was seen, Filia argued. "You've been taking too many liberties in teasing me lately, ever since the fourteenth." Her face turned a deeper shade of scarlet at the thought.
"You mean since our little make out session at the balcony?" Xellos poured more innocence into his tone than such a statement could possibly merit.
"It wasn't a make out session!" Filia shouted, her face felt very warm and she was sure that the majority of her blood had accumulated in her cheeks. "It was... it was just kissing..." Her suddenly soft voice regained its normal volume. "Besides, you were being forward before that."
"You mean the tub incident?" Xellos reminded with a chuckle. He had been very stressed at the time and didn't have a moment to properly enjoy it. But now that his stress was gone, looking back on it, it was fun.
"And after that too," Filia stuttered while she mentally told her brain to stop bringing back recorded images without her conscious request.
"Admit it, you enjoyed our little afternoon out in the city," Xellos teased. "Besides, all that happened after you declared you're hopelessly in love with me."
"I never said that!" Filia yelled. Her face felt burning hot with a mix of intense emotions that no doubt about it, Xellos could taste. Then it donned on her. "What... What do I taste like right now?"
Taking it as an invitation, Xellos wrapped his arms around Filia, pulling her close against his body, which was not in disguise anymore, and kissed her. She was taken by surprised, but opposed no resistance, instead responding to the kiss. Their eagerness increased, but they were interrupted by approaching footsteps and a faint light that became clearer as the one holding it got closer.
They quickly parted, standing a neutral distance from each other quietly. By the time the guard reached the small window of the massive cell door and peeked in, Xellos was already back in disguise. "The preparations for the trials have been finished," the guard announced. "Your trials will take place in a month. Until then, you'll stay here."
"A month!" Filia exclaimed in upset disbelief. She was still a little breathless from her previous activity, but the guard had no clue about that and attributed her state to irritation. "I'm considered innocent until proven guilty. How can you detain an innocent person for a month? That's ridiculous! Besides, you said the trial would be ready to night!"
"I said the trial preparations would be ready tonight." The guard sternly corrected, trying to hide the fear that attempted to surface, given that the prisoners were dragons. "By that I mean the paperwork and scheduling, not the actual trial." Leaving Filia to protest, the guard swiftly left.
After the guard was gone, Filia huffed and stomped her feet in anger. Her tail was out and she looked just about ready to go on a rampage. Xellos' affirmation interrupted her angry growls. "To answer your earlier question, you taste just as disgusting as ever." He teased, the sarcasm turning it from a lie to a joke, though he knew she had been referring to her emotions when she asked before.
Filia mentally counted to ten and tried to keep her temper in check. With a huge effort, she retained most of her elf-like features, though her tail was still out. "Take me home."
"Home? Really? Are you sure that's what you want?" He continued teasing her.
Filia caught the meaning and blushed, though instead of getting angrier, Xellos' teasing helped to calm her this time. "I mean take me to Seyruun, raw garbage!"
"I'm not going to do a favor for you if you don't ask me nicely," Xellos teased.
"I have to do something for Zelas tomorrow. I need to get a goodnight's sleep!" Filia argued. "If I mess up because I'm tired, it'll be your fault. You don't want to disappoint Beast Master, do you?"
Xellos noted with abundant curiosity that Filia wasn't just making up an excuse. Her emotions tasted of honesty and real concern. "What are you doing for Beast Master?"
With a stubborn look of playful vengeance upon her face, Filia replied, moving her right index finger from side to side in front of her face. "That is a secret."
"That's copyright infringement." Unexpectedly, Xellos tackled Filia into the bunk attached to the wall. He laid on top of her and kissed her, going from her mouth, down her neck.
"Stop it, raw garbage, I'm serious." Filia laughed, wrapping her arms around him to pull him closer. How did it come to this? She had a feeling that it was useless to try to explain it, because no matter what series of events took place, the end result would always be the same, it was simply who they were. It was something that was set in motion, perhaps inevitably, from the time they met and would, sooner or later, one way or another, develop. "Xellos, just where do we stand?"
"No where," he replied coolly.
"What do you mean no where?" Filia's quick temper flared and she tried to push him off of her to sit up. Instead she ended up throwing Xellos off the narrow bunk and to the floor, losing her balance and landing on top of him.
Though she was as lively as always, Xellos could taste no disappointment or worry in Filia, as if deep down she knew better than to expect a straight answer. "Stupid dragon, how can we stand anywhere when we're both laying down?" He mocked.
"Don't make stupid jokes, raw garbage!" Filia half-shouted, with no real anger.
"Don't ask stupid questions," Xellos shot back.
Filia adjusted her position to be more comfortable as a bittersweet thought occurred to her. "We're hypocrites," she mused aloud.
"What stupid randomness goes through your empty head now?" Xellos curiously asked, caught off guard by her unusual comment.
"We spent so much time and effort trying to make Zelas and Milgazia break up because they're a monster and a dragon." Filia explained, with guilt invading her emotions. "It's true that in the end their relationship failed, but if we were going to overtake that mission, it should have been for different reasons. Actually, there's no excuse, we should have just let them handle things on their own. It just feels hypocritical that we plotted sabotage and now we're doing this."
"This? As in that?" Xellos inquired with a seductive grin.
"I'm being serious!" Filia reprimanded, though she still formed a smile. It was useless to feel guilty, their relationship sabotage mission failed anyway. Suddenly, the whole building vibrated, making Filia think it was an earthquake. For a second she thought it was the Stillness, as massive earthquakes had been mentioned in the stories about it. She froze as she listened to the distant echo of the guards panicking. However, she soon realized that the shaking had not been from an earthquake after all. "What was that?"
Filia's question was soon answered as a hole was punched through the wall with Xellos teleporting them away at the last second. They reappeared outside of the main building in the yard within the tall brick walls. There was a very angry looking white dragon there, while a golden dragon approached from the distance.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at the marketplace of that very same town, Lina and Gourry had been following clues trying to locate an establishment that sold banoras. They were said to be rare and delicious so they had to try them. "I don't want regular apples!" Lina yelled at the merchant who insisted on offering to sell her apples at extraordinary prices.
"That's what I'm trying to explain, miss," the apple merchant, who answered to the name of Won, insisted. "These are not ordinary apples!" He was wearing yellow clothing with a silly hat; he had black hair in a braid and glasses.
"Just because you give them fancy long names doesn't make them anything other than regular apples!" Lina argued. "Besides, all I wanted were directions to Banora!" She growled with frustration. "Stupid incomplete maps. Just because a village is tiny doesn't mean it can be omitted, especially if it has good food!"
Gourry spotted a white dragon landing near a building in the outskirts of town. "Look, Lina, a dragon," he pointed at the large flying creature that could be seen in the light of the full moon. Another dragon, that one golden, approached in the distance. "Two dragons... the white one looks mad."
The white dragon had begun to tare the building apart, which caused a panic to erupt in the town. The frightened merchant clutched his bag of apples and ran away, one of the apples falling out unnoticed. Lina picked up the apple, cleaning it with her cape and took a bite as she watched the chaos unfold. "That golden dragon that just arrived looks like Phythan. We might as well go see what's going on."
xoxox xox xoxox
Phythan landed near Kirei, who was on a rampage. "Miss Kirei, please stop making such a mess!" Onyx was riding on his back, holding on in an attempt not to fall off. "We were just supposed to be looking for banoras, not destroying random towns! I know it's frustrating that we haven't been able to find them, but-"
"Quiet, this doesn't concern you!" Kirei growled. "Don't you see my time is almost over? I won't die without revenge!" She could feel the force inside her eating away at her very soul faster by the second. Her will was fading, she had nothing but anger.
Phythan frowned, insisting on his argument, "Milgazia said-"
"I don't care what he said!" Kirei roared. "This is all I have." She glared at Xellos. "My vengeance for that insect!"
The purple haired monster was no longer in the silly black and white striped dress, but back in his normal clothes. "Your emotions have changed; you're not a firecracker anymore. It's as if you've given up. What's eating you, Kirei?"
"A monster," Kirei replied with sad anger, though this was different from a monster, she saw it as such. "This monster overtook me on the same day that the planet was restored. It keeps draining me away and I cannot get rid of it. I will die soon, but not before getting my revenge on you! The only good thing about being possessed is that I'll be powerful enough to do this; or rather it will do it for me. It was even able to track you down, you have no escape! Monster of nothingness, become tainted with my will and carry out my vengeance!" Darkness surrounded Kirei, her white scales becoming a translucent black. She no longer feared being consumed, she embraced it. Milgazia suspected something, but held insufficient proof. The glow around Kirei changed to silver until it consumed her and all that was left was a silver mist.
Lina arrived on the scene via Ray Wing along with Gourry. "That's the Void!" They recognized it. "No wonder Shabranigdu was still somewhat unresponsive, he was guarding against this creature." The mist disappeared, though a feeling of emptiness hung heavily in the air.
"Miss Kirei... where did she go?" Phythan changed back into his elf form without warning, to more directly address his friends.
As a result of the transformation, Onyx got caught in his cloak, since she was riding on him before. "Think before you transform, stupid!" She had another rare outburst of emotion as she untangled herself from him with a rosy tint on her face.
"Oh my!" Filia exclaimed, "you still have no modesty!"
"Sorry," Phythan apologized, though he wasn't entirely sure what he was apologizing for. He was slightly less naive now than when the adventure started several months ago, but he was still pretty naive overall and the concept of modesty still escaped him.
The silvery mist reappeared again, suddenly around Filia. She gasped and made a choking noise. Xellos tried to get rid of the creature that attacked her, but instead he was thrown back by the force of a powerful astral attack. "Xel... Xellos..." Filia felt her senses fading.
"Be more careful, Xellos. You don't have a physical shield against the Void's attacks right now," Lina warned with great urgency. Of course, there had to be a reason for her unusual concern for Xellos. "I still have a few more months of bodyguard salary to earn and I won't get paid if you're dead!" Though she had stopped guarding him, especially now that he was a monster again, Lina was still getting paid monthly, even if his curse was cured. That meant that she would be expected to do something about it if Xellos ever needed any backup.
'Revenge... revenge...' A voice in Filia's head chanted, sounding vaguely like Kirei, but also very different at the same time. 'Her will tainted me, her will for revenge... It doesn't matter if she wouldn't have understood why killing you is revenge on him, she is dead anyway. Only I will remain, only the Void. When I fulfill her vengeance, her tainted will shall fade away from me and only nothingness will remain, a nothingness that will consume my enemies. Death to those who oppose the Stillness!'
"Phythan, try exorcising the Void out of Filia with holy magic!" Lina commanded, assuming the position of leader that she would always claim was rightfully hers.
"Right!" Phythan began to chant a spell, pouring all his power into it. "Ivory beyond white, everlasting infinite light, brightness that pierces the night, by your endless power destiny ignites. Let the world be purified by your might, Heaven Light!" Both Phythan and Filia were surrounded by a bright golden light, but it wasn't enough.
"Lina," Xellos rejoined the group, though he still had not fully recovered from the strong attack he recently received. "What is that thing doing to Filia?" His eyes were open, expression angered.
To be Continued
Slayers: Alive - Episode 147: Life! The Chaotic Force That Unites Us
Xellos rarely opened his eyes and when he did, it meant something. Even so, Lina had no patience for him. She knew the Stillness would eventually manifest itself again and she had been expecting it to happen soon since that time at the beach when Shabranigdu was so guarded. By now the fragment of Ruby Eyes probably sensed that the Void was released from its temporary hiding place and was likely holding back even more. The Dragon Slave's power would no doubt be significantly reduced again, perhaps rendering it almost impossible to use.
The red haired sorceress looked at Filia, finally answering Xellos' question. "It's consuming her, isn't it obvious?" She snapped. Now was not the time to ask about things that she assumed he knew. Lina wasn't aware of Xellos' amnesia, she only knew about Filia's. "It must be like what it tried to do with Amelia, except rather than leaving her after the attack, the Void is still in her."
"Then get it out of her!" Xellos snapped. He reached over to Filia, but the holy magic around her stung him with a mere touch, as it would for any purely astral being.
"Don't touch her now, you'll just hurt yourself!" Lina scolded as she pulled Xellos away. "Onyx, you must have had time to train with your own power by now. Let's give Phythan more energy for his spell with recovery."
"Yes," Onyx nodded quietly and stepped forward. "Brother, make way." Both Lina and Onyx continuously casted recovery on Phythan. Xellos wasn't really paying enough attention to her to even question why Onyx, would call him brother, though they were obviously not related.
Filia lost consciousness completely, but Gourry caught her before she hit the ground. Being human, he wasn't adversely affected by Phythan's spell, which was powerful against astral beings and was aimed at the Void. Xellos could feel the energy being poured into Filia, it was exceptionally powerful, with Lina and Onyx giving their energy to Phythan, even a high ranking monster would have a severely hard time dealing with such an attack.
The unconscious Filia remembered her discovery about the ancient dragons and the most critical parts of the battle against Dark Star. Her missing memories from the past few months were resurfacing, but she was forced to focus on the hardships. The near death experiences, the emotional pain, the trickery, the deception, the perceived betrayal, the struggle. 'No... Stop... Please stop!' Filia begged in her mind to no avail.
'Let go... let go of your will and you shall feel no pain... Let yourself sink into the relief of indifference... Feel no desires... Give up...' An ominous voice echoed in Filia's mind. It no longer sounded like Kirei; this was an unidentifiable sound of emptiness.
"Don't stop now!" Lina insisted, though all the energy she was giving to Phythan was leaving her in exhaustion.
"I won't give up... I promised myself not to let anyone get hurt again..." Phythan was dizzy from the strain. He had never poured so much energy into a spell before. The Void was very strong.
Lina gasped for breath, "that thing... has to... come out..." Amelia was in mortal danger from the after-effects of an attack from the Void. Having the Void remain in her like that had to be worse for Filia. No doubt about it, she was facing her worse fears and reliving her most painful moments.
"This isn't working," Xellos complained.
"You're right," Onyx agreed, but didn't stop casting recovery. "The Heaven Light spell is effective, but the Void is too strong, it cannot be defeated as if it were only a monster."
"Filia is getting cold," Gourry frowned in worry.
Lina ceased her spell casting and closed her eyes in thought for a moment. This whole thing started back when Lina faced off against Fibrizo. By calling upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares she allowed the missing fragment of the Stillness to enter the world and begin the cycle. She just wanted Gourry back and she admitted that she was willing to give up the world for that purpose, but the world was not hers to give away. "I can fix this..." Lina whispered under her breath, she had stopped casting recovery, though Phythan was still keeping up the holy magic with Onyx's help. "I will fix this," Lina assured more determinately.
Placing her hand on Phythan's shoulder, Lina began to chant a spell. "Invisible links of the chain, which binds all in this plane, make the target's struggle vain, follow the inescapable lane, Pursuit!" The golden glow around Filia faded and the line of golden light coming from Phythan's hands became thinner but stronger. "This should make the spell remain focused on the target, so that less of it filters out of Filia, it should be safe enough not to make me fail as a bodyguard now. Phythan, keep this spell going. Onyx, keep using recovery."
"The Void isn't exactly a curse, but it hates emotion, good and bad. It brings bad feelings in order to make people reject their emotions to stop the pain. But it would be a lot harder to force someone to reject positive emotions," Lina explain. "Do you remember the spell you used to cure Filia's poison?"
"No," Xellos replied truthfully. He didn't even remember Filia being poisoned. Gourry passed her over to him, since the Heaven Light spell was not seeping out dangerously anymore.
"You have to remember important stuff like that!" Lina pulled out a scroll from her cape. "I haven't just been traveling around idly. I paid Celo a visit and raided his collection of magic tomes. Here are some of my notes. After experiencing being human for a few months, you should have built up enough of a resistance not to get killed casting a spell like this, even as a monster."
Lina handed the scroll to Gourry, who held it up like a cue card for Xellos to read. "Here you go, heal Filia with a kiss, just like in a fairy tale."
"I'll back you up with some luck. Let the destiny that our fates reach be the one that we pursue! Life is a gamble to be faced without fear!" Lina began to cast another spell. "Ye who flies and never lands, ye who knows and understands, aligning fate, destiny, chance. Eternal clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed mine will, mine stance, deliver triumph to mine hand. Fortune Lock!"
Xellos wasn't even sure what to make from the recent events, but this was not a time for doubts or hesitation. "Potentia, pura amor, vera basium, basiamini, salutes, vitae, nostra corda, iungitis, nego finis, aeterna!" The spell was charged with positive emotions, that was what empowered it. Xellos couldn't remember how he developed a resistance to this, all he could do was believe he had it, which wasn't as difficult as he thought it would be. He kissed Filia. There was an overwhelmingly sweet taste to it, but he found that perhaps he had a big enough sweet tooth to handle it after all. Images surfaced in his mind, they were the memories he had been missing, they were all coming back.
They finally parted, the spell casting ceased completely from all those present and a few silent seconds passed. A silver mist fell out of Filia, the Void sunk into the ground in a hasty retreat. Filia's blue eyes opened, tired but focused. "Xellos... I remember..." She smiled weary but relieved. "I remember everything..."
"So do I," Xellos grinned. It was a lot to take in, suddenly recalling all the events that had transpired all at once, but he was glad to have his full memories back.
Lina felt the ground beneath her feet vibrate slightly. The Stillness was reemerging, that had to be it. "It looks like the Stillness is finally coming out of hiding. It's about time we finished this." Her serious expression turned hungry as she glanced at Xellos. "You still owe me some food, especially after all I did just now!"
xoxox xox xoxox
The next day, Filia paced around the waiting room of a stadium where the women's brass rackets tournament was being held. "Why are we playing brass rackets at a time like this? I already got my memories back anyway. The Stillness is out there waiting to attack!"
"It is best to relax before a match." Zelas, in her Yuna Wolf look, leaned back on her chair and close her eyes. "Celo will take a while longer to finish the gateway to the Stillness' hideout now that it's accessible again." Plus Zelas needed to complete her plan to reveal her identity. It couldn't be done in the world-wide classic brass rackets tournament that would take place in a couple of weeks, since she couldn't wait that long. Yet even if she had to push her plans forward hastily, she still intended to get a good amount of chaos out of them. Yuna Wolf and possibly by association, Angel Dragon, would likely both be banned from the world-wide tournament after it was known that she was a monster. "If you're curious, I can tell you about the cure I was planning to offer you for your brass rackets partnership services, even if you already have your memories back anyway."
Filia allowed herself to fall into a chair. "I thought you'd leave me guessing." She let out a breath of exasperation. "Honestly, I'm here more so for Solex's sake than because I expected help getting my memories back if I didn't have them."
"It would be harmless to tell you. Not particularly fun since you already have your memories back, but still somewhat amusing," Zelas decided. "You know how they say that your life flashes before your eyes before you die? That was the answer. You might not need to be killed to remember anymore, but if you ever decide you want some assistance with that, I'm always available," she offered sweetly.
Filia frowned as she sarcastically replied. "That's very kind of you, but I'll have to decline your offer."
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at Dragon's Peak. A buzz zap sound was heard as Xellos faded out of the astral side, rather forcefully, just outside of Milgazia's house, as if he had crashed face first into a shield while trying to teleport. "Ow..." The static of the magical shield that blocked access even from astral space, which caught him off guard, was still clinging to him, making his purple hair stick out in every direction. Xellos smoothed out his hair as Milgazia ran out of the house in a white, golden lined bathrobe, still slightly wet as if he got out of the tub in a hurry.
The golden dragon elder carried an oversized mace as big as him, which had been sent as a gift from Filia. He assumed she was just being friendly, although she was actually trying to cheer him up after his supposed breakup. It looked like he had casted Astral Vine on the mace and was ready to cause some serious pain. Milgazia stopped as he realized who it was that had arrived, "it's you..."
Seeing that Milgazia didn't look like he was going to attack after all, Xellos inquired. "Who were you expecting?"
"That annoying snake monster, Galathia, has been trying to teleport into my house at the most inappropriate moments recently." Milgazia frowned in extreme annoyance and disapproval. "I warned her not to try it again if she valued her life." Really, there was only so much even the ever patient Milgazia could put up with. "Anyway, why have you come here? If it is to discuss the fate of Kirei and the issue of the Stillness..." He trailed into silence in frustration. He didn't expect Kirei to give up her very will to exist for revenge when it looked like she was finally becoming accustomed to living in Dragon's Peak.
"No," Xellos interrupted. "I'm not here to talk about that at all. I came to warn you."
Milgazia wasn't expecting that and he wasn't about to so easily believe it. "About what?"
"You've angered Beast Master and because of that, the golden dragon race is doomed." Xellos' violet eyes opened for a second, showing that he was serious, before closing again. "You need to fix it."
Since Filia never got around to telling Xellos what was it that she was supposed to be doing for Beast Master, instead continuously stealing his trademark phrase teasingly, he decided to ask Zelas directly. The monster lord's reply was simple and to the point, truthful, yet deceiving. "I offered to kill her."
Xellos took it all with a calm demeanor. Zelas didn't sound particularly angry or bitter, but even so, her threats were not to be disregarded or taken lightly. He reasoned that she must be upset at the golden dragon race as a whole because of Milgazia. That meant that there was still a chance to repair the damage and for Filia to be spared. Xellos certainly didn't want Zelas to get back together with Milgazia, but if they could tone down the bitterness, then maybe she could get revenge on him only and not on all the golden dragons.
Milgazia remembered that Zelas had slapped him, but he still didn't understand why she did. "I don't even know what she's angry about."
"And you think I do?" Xellos pouted. He had learned and reaffirmed the knowledge that all females, be them monsters, dragons, humans or otherwise, were temperamental sadists, it was simply in their nature. "Either way, the least you could do is go talk to her."
As much as Milgazia disliked the monster lord, he would like to discuss a few things with her, especially concerning the Stillness. "Very well, I will go to Wolf Pack Island then."
"She's not there," Xellos pointed out. "In the place where she is now, if you are to reach her you must go in disguise. There's no time to waste, so let's get ready."
xoxox xox xoxox
A few minutes later, at Milgazia's house... "I'm not wearing this!" The golden dragon elder's voice echoed through Dragon's Peak.
"Are you going to let your race be destroyed just because you're picky with colors?" Xellos argued.
"It's not about the color!" Milgazia snapped.
Just outside of the house, Memphis, Phythan and Onyx were listening. They couldn't see what was going on, but they found the argument to be very peculiar. "I always knew it was only a matter of time before someone made uncle Milgazia lose his patience and snap. He's always so serious, even though he tells great jokes."
Phythan nodded in agreement, he was still sad about Kirei, she was his friend. But at least he had his other friends still with him, including his best friend Onyx, who had started to give him more attention lately and that made him feel better. Onyx on the other hand didn't quite agree with Memphis' affirmation about Milgazia's jokes, which she found to be rather dull.
Memphis, Phythan and Onyx went around the house to the backdoor as the argument continued. Then suddenly, the door burst open and Xellos and Milgazia rolled down the hill behind the dragon elder's house, mixed up in a fight as if they were trying to strangle each other. The struggling pair landed in a mud puddle at the bottom of the hill as the three spectators rushed to see the results of the battle.
Covered in mud, Milgazia stood up and pulled his pants up, he was hoping that no one had seen the ordeal, but he had no such luck. Honestly he preferred Xellos' thinly veiled threats instead of this. "Um... Xellos, did you just pull down Milgazia's pants? I think that's cheating." Phythan pointed out.
Xellos was also covered in mud. "Don't think badly of it. I was only trying to get him to wear a skirt." Xellos explained with a cheerful painted grin as if it was the most logical and reasonable thing in the world.
"Oh, right," Phythan nodded. "You were only trying to... what?"
"I'll handle this," Milgazia voiced sternly. Concluding that it was in their best interest to leave, Phythan, Onyx and Memphis swiftly retreated up the hill, disappearing behind Milgazia's house and leaving the golden dragon elder to deal with the tricky mischievous purple haired monster. "I don't see how this is absolutely necessary." Milgazia tried to reason with Xellos. "Why must we infiltrate the tournament just so I can talk to Zelas?"
"I already told you," Xellos insisted. "This is the only way you can talk to her right now and you can't afford to wait. Quit complaining, I'm infiltrating along with you."
"That's different," Milgazia growled as he forgot about his self imposed rules of diplomacy. "It's okay for you because you have no dignity."
Xellos wasn't sure if he should be angry, offended or simply shocked. "You kind of sounded like Filia just now." He noted, not sure if he really wanted to make such an observation.
Milgazia mentally counted to ten, Filia was a good person, but she wasn't exactly the best diplomat and he was supposed to be. "Somehow, it appears that sooner or later, you're capable of making any dragon throw diplomacy out the window."
"I'll take that as a compliment." Xellos voiced and pushing aside his annoyance, he grinned. "Would you stop being stubborn if I find you a blue skirt instead of pink? Or would you prefer purple?"
Milgazia let out a groan of exasperation. Somehow, he had become a part of that very strange group that Lina Inverse claimed to be the leader of and he knew there was no way out. Although, as straining as it could be at times, perhaps it was for the best. At the very least he could say his life would always be interesting, becoming closer to its essence, closer to chaos.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the stadium where the brass rackets tournament was taking place. All the contestants, including the mysterious late entries, were gathered in a room where a random drawing would determine which teams would participate in the next match. Filia was surprised to see Lina and Amelia were there in a team. Gourry and Zelgadis were spared the trouble of using disguises since Lina and Amelia were partnered with each other. Instead, the swordsman and the chimera would be watching from the audience.
"Miss Filia, Miss Lina told me you recovered your memories and about the dramatic battle against the Void. In light of that, have you and Mr. Xellos reconciled?" Amelia inquired with a hopeful look in her eyes.
Filia blushed, "yes." Although they had actually reconciled before her memories returned.
"How wonderful!" Amelia happily exclaimed, making random people give her odd looks at her outbursts. "I've been keeping this safe for you." The princess revealed the amethyst ring she kept in her pocket. "I knew you would want it back later."
"My ring!" Filia was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't lost after all. Val had chewed up the wedding bands so many times during his first few weeks of life, that Filia had eventually given up on fixing them. "I thought it was lost, thank you."
"You're welcome!" Amelia cheered.
"Um..." Lina lightly tapped Amelia and Filia on their shoulders and when she got their attention, she pointed. The redhead's expression looked like she was making a huge effort not to burst out in a very loud fit of laughter.
Filia and Amelia followed the direction of Lina's pointing finger to find Xellos in a girly brass rackets uniform. Given the fact that this was Xellos and Zelas was participating, they weren't too shocked to see him like that, nor were they particularly shocked at how believable the outfit was, Xellos was a tricky master of disguise. What shocked them beyond belief was the one standing next to Xellos who shrunk into the crowd, leaving their line of sight as fast, quietly and inconspicuously as he could. "Milgazia!?" Filia and Amelia chorused, while Lina's laughter exploded loudly, prompting the same reaction from Amelia and Filia.
"Oh, no, no," Xellos shook his finger, speaking in a feminine voice. "That's my brass rackets partner, Mimi, and I am Xexe, nice to meet you." He added a cute little giggle at the end of his sentence which just made everything even weirder. As for Zelas, she was standing near the front of the crowd, away from the group, not really paying attention to them and had not yet seen Milgazia.
As soon as Lina managed to get her laughter under control, she placed her hands on her hips and pouted. "Where's my food? You owe me!" She demanded.
"Alright, alright, come over here for a minute," Xellos and Lina left the room, while Filia and Amelia discussed what could have possibly come over Milgazia to make him parade around in a blue and white brass rackets uniform, short skirt included, with a big blue bow on his head.
To be Continued