Episode 003: Misleading! Paraphrasing Honesty
Episode 003: Misleading! Paraphrasing Honesty
Xellos and Zelgadis were at the chimera's inn room drinking and talking. The drink was quite peculiar; it tasted almost like the substance known as astral wine, which was also called radioactive rum by some. It was a potion so strong that it could even make a monster drunk. Xellos paused, looking at the few drops of bronze liquid in his glass. He set it down in front of him and looked at Zelgadis. "What is this drink?"
Zelgadis filled Xellos' glass again, "radioactive rum," the chimera admitted.
"Not quite..." Xellos took a smaller sip this time, taking a moment to taste the substance. "Radioactive rum, or as some call it, astral wine, has a very strong burning sensation, but it's also surprisingly sweet. This stuff is mixed with something that makes it bitter. It gives it a more alcoholic taste, but the substance of it is watered down."
"True," Zelgadis admitted before finally finishing his first glass. "It's still good though, isn't it?"
"It is," Xellos admitted. "But offering me a drink won't get you any information."
"I suppose not... Not with a common drink at least." Zelgadis gave Xellos a victorious grin. "You know what they say..."
The alarms in Xellos head went off full force. Had he walked into a trap? What could Zelgadis possibly do with a drink? The radioactive rum was watered down, it wasn't enough to get him drunk, not yet at least and he would certainly stop before that happened. "What do they say?"
"Only truths you shall speak, not a lie you shall breathe, until the time is through, because you drank the witch's brew." That wasn't a real saying, it was a spell that Zelgadis had chanted.
Xellos felt an odd warmth inside of him, but just as quickly as it came, it was gone. He gave Zelgadis a smug mocking look. "It didn't work. Although I see now what this is. It's a truth serum activated by a spell. You must have already taken the antidote before you called me over so that you could drink without being affected. You probably also temporarily immunized yourself to the effects of drunkenness as an extra precaution, didn't you?"
"Yes," Zelgadis admitted. "It is true that you're an astral being, but this truth serum doesn't aim for the physical body because it's not a real potion. This is a liquefied spell; it can be used against purely astral beings."
Xellos' look was still victorious and superior. "It's true that this may work from the astral side, but it doesn't work on monsters. You could use it on non-physical beings like ghosts, the spell I mean. Liquefying this particular spell to get a monster to drink it is useless because of the way monsters are made."
"This spell makes telling the truth irresistible. A lie would feel painful, like an astral attack and you'll instinctually avoid it subconsciously," Zelgadis explained. "Normally, I should be able to ask questions and order you to answer them, but I'm not expecting this to be fully effective on you."
"I'm not expecting it to be effective at all," Xellos confidently picked up the bottle and took a long drink. He set it down on the table defiantly.
"It'll work," Zelgadis insisted, "It just takes a little while to work." He held on to that hope. "Even if you are under Beast Master's orders to remain silent, it's not your fault if you had no choice, right?"
"It would be my fault if I placed myself in such a situation, not that I would," Xellos replied.
Zelgadis frowned, "it's not like I'm planning to tell Zelas you told me anything. I just want to save Amelia."
"How considerate of you not to incriminate me and here I thought you hated me," Xellos' voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Last year you were temporarily transformed into a human," Zelgadis reminded.
"So?" Xellos inquired, truly curious as to what that had to do with the current situation.
"You're not as vulnerable to positive emotions as you used to be before that experience. That is because when you were human such elements of human nature became integrated into your very being. When you turned back into a monster, though you once again became a purely astral creature, the emotions that you were able to have as a human were not lost," Zelgadis reminded.
Xellos poured himself another drink, the bottle was almost empty, "another cheer for captain obvious!" He drank. "I thought the whole group was aware of that since last year, even Gourry. So I have added defenses against Amelia's wonderful life songs. I could even feed off them though the taste is so sweet it would still make me cringe. Anyway, I'm stronger because of what happened last year. How does that benefit you now?"
"The smallest hint of a positive emotion can be used to make this spell work. That emotion will be transformed into overwhelming honesty. You're still a monster; you still feed primarily on annoyance and negative emotions, though you can also feed on other emotions now. It's not completely effective, but it should have some limited effect, because you're not composed of pure negativity anymore. It'll be enough..." Zelgadis took a deep breath and asked. "What is Amelia doing for Zelas?"
"Amelia is..." Xellos clamped his mouth shut, he almost answered the question. Oh no... Zelgadis had a point; the liquid spell did have an effect on him, albeit limited. He could still resist it since he had a strong mind. "That is a secret." Xellos grinned victoriously at Zelgadis. "I'm not in the habit of lying anyway," he reminded.
"Why did Zelas take Amelia and don't say it's a secret!" Zelgadis insisted.
"That is..." Xellos paused; his words weren't coming out right. "That is..." he had to fight it! "That is... a..." He was being truthful with his words, but he was also technically hiding the truth, so it wasn't full honesty. "I think Filia is very pretty." He blurted out before he could stop himself. At least his irresistible urge to tell the truth was gone with the revelation of a different kind of guarded truth.
Zelgadis gave Xellos a curious look, then grinned. "You really love Filia, don't you?" He leaned forward on the table, his face in his hands, elbows on the wooden surface.
Xellos remained completely silent for several seconds. He clenched his teeth, he wanted to say something, he needed to say something. Then he glared at Zelgadis, still keeping his silence. A ball of black energy with purple lightning around it formed in his hand as he motioned threateningly.
"You want the antidote, don't you?" Zelgadis remained defiant. "I don't have it and I don't intend to give it to you. Please understand that I need to do this for Amelia's sake and I'm not backing down no matter what."
Xellos pointed at the ball of energy in his right hand with his left, then pointed at Zelgadis with a full open eyed glare.
"Are you trying to say you'll kill me? I don't think Zelas has ordered that." Zelgadis maintained his resolve. "Filia would be very upset."
The ball of dark energy Xellos held dissipated. He huffed and turned away, exiting the room and Zelgadis was quick to follow.
xoxox xox xoxox
Downstairs at the inn's restaurant, Zelgadis kept annoying Xellos so he would say something. The monster general priest could still keep a secret, but he found that though he could resist the spell of truth, he had to bargain with another truth to calm his impulses of honesty. "Just say it," Zelgadis teased, "you love her, admit it, shout it at the top of your lungs. You only said it once didn't you? It was only that one time when you two thought you were going to die. That was more than a year ago."
Xellos paused, glared at Zelgadis and making questioning motions with his hands. "I know because Filia told Amelia and Amelia told me." Zelgadis admitted. Xellos made a very grumble-like gesture, but refused to voice anything. "I bet Filia wants to hear it again," Zelgadis continued trying to torture Xellos into releasing some useful information. Xellos crossed his arms and stumped his feet in a sign of stubbornness. "Do you love Filia?" Zelgadis insisted. "Do you? Do you? Do you?"
Xellos felt his eye twitch. Zelgadis was easier to put up with back when he hated him, back when he was less annoying and gloomier, before he became Amelia's fiance and her cheer started to rub off on him. "I lo..." Xellos clenched his teeth. "I lo..." He had to say something, but not that. "I loathe slugs!" The purple haired monster finally shouted.
From across the room at the table where Filia had remained, there was a shrill scream. "Slugs!" A petite redhead that had arrived and joined the golden dragon's table while Xellos and Zelgadis were upstairs leapt into her swordsman companion's arms. She wrapped her arms around him in a panic and buried her frightened face in his chest. Fortunately, Gourry was able to calm the panicked Lina after a few minutes and the group settled back into the table. Lina was tempted to remain sitting on Gourry's lap, where she felt protected with his strong arms around her, but she didn't want to look like a coward.
The petite red haired sorceress glared at Xellos from across the table. "I'm still waiting for an explanation and an apology meal!" She growled angrily. "Slug false alarms are not something to throw around like it's nothing!" She waved her right index finger back and forth accusingly at Xellos. "If you keep crying slug, one of these days you'll find a real slug and when you call for help no one will believe you!"
"I'm not afraid of slugs," Xellos clarified. "I merely think they are disgusting, that's different."
Lina pouted and continued glaring and shouting. "I completely agree on that they're disgusting and beyond disgusting, but it's no excuse! What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Too much, probably," Xellos truthfully replied.
"Too much indeed," Zelgadis agreed with a challenging look.
"Before any unwelcome interrogations take place," Xellos opened his eyes momentarily, giving Zelgadis a serious look. "I would like to inquire how you were able to mix that brew..."
Zelgadis' expression turned solemn, "I had some help..."
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelgadis' memories took him to the events of the previous night. He had run into none other than Amelia in the outskirts of the village. The recent attempt at an exorcism had apparently failed, but perhaps not completely. Amelia looked into his eyes then set a scroll on the ground. She walked away a few steps towards Zelas who faded out of the darkness, then they both disappeared.
Zelgadis thought that Amelia's eyes were too focused for someone who was possessed, yet Zelas was right there, witnessing everything. He didn't understand what this was about, but he had to read that scroll. The chimera picked it up and stretched it, finding a peculiar recipe that took ten odd steps to prepare. He didn't know what to think of it, it felt like a trap, but he couldn't ignore this.
The first step was simple enough; it consisted of gathering a list of ingredients. The market was closed at night, but Zelgadis thought of this as enough of an emergency to put his lock picking skills to the test. The second step was to meticulously measure the assortment of fruits, berries and herbs. Then the third step was to boil them in a pot. The mix of the concoction was strange and it smelled foul at first, but as the ingredients were further cooked, the foul scent went away.
The forth step consisted of putting the mix in a wooden vessel and dancing an odd ritual around it. The fifth step involved passing the mix into a ceramic container and singing a ridiculous song to it until the concoction changed colors. The six step required putting the mix into three round completely sealed containers that would not spill and juggling them without dropping them for a at least a full minute. Zelgadis had some trouble with that step, but he managed to do it.
The seventh step required placing the mix in blue bowl and stirring it with the hair of a chimera, without actually adding the hair. For that Zelgadis used his own hair. The eight step required a righteous speech to be given directed towards the mix, which would have to be transferred to a yellow bowl. Zelgadis quote Amelia a lot for that step.
The ninth step required a confession of ten secrets. Zelgadis was not pleased with this but if it was to save Amelia, he would speak of what he hid the most. Albeit this turned out even more difficult than he thought because he didn't even have that many secrets anymore. He felt like he was being watched even if it was supposed to be just the concoction and him. He figured Zelas must be somewhere in the shadows. Finally, the tenth step was to mix the concoction with radioactive rum. The substance appeared in an unmarked bottle out of the shadows and somehow the chimera simply knew that had to be it.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos' face was invaded with disbelief for a split second until his features became thoughtful. Apparently, Zelas had actually assisted Zelgadis in preparing that terrible concoction that Xellos certainly didn't feel any better about drinking after he found out how it was made. He knew about Amelia and about why Zelas had her under custody, but he didn't know what this was about.
Zelgadis crossed his arms and gave Xellos a direct look. "Now I will ask a question."
"What about my meal?" Lina pouted. She wasn't entirely sure what was going on and she would require a full explanation from the beginning rather than an out of context update to understand, but there were more pressing matters to tend to before she could ask about that.
No one supplied Lina with an answer, instead Zelgadis continued. "What can I do to save Amelia?"
Peculiarly, Xellos didn't resist the urge to speak, "nothing."
The atmosphere grew cold and Zelgadis hoped that the reply was simply due to the effects of the brew wearing off. He hoped and wished with all his heart that it wasn't true. He had to save Amelia, he simply had to. "You're lying..."
"I'm not lying," Xellos grinned.
Zelgadis decided to test that claim. "Do you love Filia?"
Xellos placed his hands over his ears, "la la la, I can't hear you!"
Zelgadis continued the odd barrage of questions while Filia, Lina and Gourry watched on in confusion. "Do you simply adore every aspect of her? Why don't you just say it?"
"Life is wonderful!" Xellos sang in desperation.
Zelgadis relentlessly insisted. "Say it for all of us to hear!"
Unable to resist the urge of honesty any longer Xellos blurted out, "I love Milgazia's cookies!" His hands immediately covered his mouth as his violet eyes opened in shock, annoyance and mortification. Then he glared at Zelgadis. "I really want to kill you right now!"
The chimera slumped in his seat, his expression heartbroken. "You're still affected by the brew... You were telling the truth before. There's nothing I can do to save Amelia..." Even so, Zelgadis wasn't giving up; he would keep trying for as long as there was life left in him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Several days earlier at Wolf Pack Island... It was a moonless night, though the crescent moon was well on its way and it would be seen in a few days. Beast Master Zelas Metallium was feeling rather bored. It had been a year ago that a series of peculiar events resulted in the marriage of her general priest Xellos to a golden dragon, Filia. Zelas stretched in her throne and yawned. She didn't actually need to stretch or yawn or even breathe, but it was all part of the realism of her physical form, they were details that she had become accustomed to emulate.
She considered what to do. The world had made remarkable progress recovering from the near apocalypse, but she had leveled the playing field with some dragon hunting so the monster race wasn't in any trouble. With the passing of time and the achievement of a balance that was tipped in her favor ever so slightly, yet ever so significantly, Zelas eased her hunts and decided to take a little vacation. She would pop over to Seyruun, the new location of Filia's shop and home, and annoy the golden dragon for a while when she was particularly unoccupied. Val was a fine little mischief maker, Xellos had taught him well.
The monster lord considered annoying Filia for entertainment, but decided against it. This was their anniversary and Xellos probably wanted Filia's wrath all to himself, not to mention other emotions that quite frankly, Zelas did not wish to dwell on. She would wait a few days and than she would go annoy Filia. Or perhaps she should pick on someone else for a while. Lina maybe? Her explosive temper was certainly entertaining and like Filia, she was so easy to rile. How about Milgazia? He was so serious and diplomatic; he would certainly present a challenge to be angered, maybe too much of a challenge. Sometimes Zelas found that she consumed more energy trying to annoy Mr. Polite and Proper than what she got as nutrients when he finally started to show his misery.
Who else could she bother? Little miss princess of justice? Or perhaps her chimera fiance? He might be fun to pick on. A smile spread over Zelas' alluring features. "Zelgadis..." she considered the idea, "Zelgadis..." she gave it further thought and her eyes glinted with mischief. "Zelgadis..." it was decided. Thus the queen trickery chose a new target, Zelas' next victim would be Zelgadis Graywords.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers... and this applies to all the chapters. I claim only the plot minus the Slayers and Lost Universe concepts and the background characters I specify as being mine.