Episode 004: Deception! Misleading Intentions
Episode 004: Deception! Misleading Intentions
On the night of the crescent moon, when Amelia had disappeared... "What can I do for you?" The justice loving Seyruun princess asked after Zelas had teleported them away so they could speak privately.
Beast Master grinned mischievously. "I want you to keep a legend alive."
The request took Amelia by surprise. It was, to say the least, rather odd. "To keep a legend alive?" She echoed in puzzlement.
"Yes," Zelas elaborated. "You see, legends are part of people's culture. Because of the terrible depression that overtook the planet during the second phase of the near apocalypse last year, people became full of apathy and forgot even their legends. It would help restore some life and energy to the world if people remembered such an aspect of their precious culture." That was all true, but the kinds of legends Zelas liked were the kind that brought fear and discomfort.
Amelia innocently nodded eagerly. "That makes a lot of sense and I'm really happy you would suggest it!" In her eyes, Zelas was changing for the better.
"That's not all; I also want you to remind people about the importance of giving and about living in harmony with nature. All of this can be done simultaneously if you take on the identity of the moonlight maiden. The legend would be remembered and you would motivate those terribly greedy merchants to become kinder, sharing with the other living creatures that reside in the area. I have been doing this myself," Zelas revealed. All that she said was true, but while such an effect could be achieved, the main effect was fear and discomfort, food for her monster minions and stolen goods, food for her wolves. "However, I am quite busy and would like for you to continue my labor."
Amelia beamed in joy, "I would be all too happy to continue your noble efforts!"
Zelas grinned, "oh, I'm so grateful. There is a catch though; it would ruin the legend's air of mystery if anyone knew so you must keep it a secret, even from Zelgadis... especially from Zelgadis."
"I don't want to worry him..." Amelia frowned unsure.
"You won't," Zelas encouraged. "The two of you share a deep bond, he will know in his heart that you're alright the second he sees you. Besides, he's not exactly the greatest of actors and might give away too much if he knows too much. Plus legends are supposed to be mysterious, don't make him miss out, let him enjoy this fine aspect of human culture too." A fine aspect indeed, sometimes humans found more fictitious ways to scare themselves than what actual monsters did, with their many legends of lurking evil.
Amelia thought about it for a moment longer before finally nodding in agreement, "no one has to know."
xoxox xox xoxox
Present time, at village near the Coastal States... "I loathe slugs!" Xellos chirped. In the final moments of the dreadful, yet hilarious, effects of the serum of truth, he felt compelled to speak all sorts of random truths. Albeit he still had just enough control not to say anything too vital, which was what Zelas wanted to test. "I love cake!" He cheered loudly, making passer-bys down the street stare at him oddly as the group walked.
Said group consisted of Xellos, Filia, Lina, Gourry and Zelgadis. "We get it!" Lina snapped. She was sick and tired of listening to the same random facts over and over again. "If you're not going to tell us something we don't already know, then shut up!"
"I can't!" Xellos truthfully replied. "Filia is cute," he giggled like an idiot. Sure, he had said his fair amount of silly things, but misery loves company and miserable company is delicious for a monster. As long as the others were more annoyed than him, Xellos wasn't so annoyed after all. "Filia and Lina both have bad tempers."
Filia was used to worse critiques from her endearingly annoying husband, but Lina wasn't going to take that without protest. "I do not!" The redhead shouted, pausing her walk down the street as soon as she had moved to stomp her feet in front of Xellos, blocking his path. "Just who do you think you are, accusing this sweet and innocent maiden of having a bad temper? I'm perfectly lady-like!"
"More like barbaric," Xellos argued before he could stop himself. He was immediately put in a headlock, one of Lina's arms tightly around his neck, the other petite fist constantly hammering at his skull.
"Lina, that's a bit harsh," Gourry tried to reason with his fiance. In a rare moment of enlightenment he realized, "aren't you just proving him right by doing this?" His voice was lost to those who were occupied in other thoughts and no one acknowledged his uncommon bout of common knowledge and logical thought.
"I can't save Amelia..." Zelgadis sighed in depression.
Filia placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't give up, we'll find a way to save her."
"Right," suddenly full of determination, Zelgadis was willing to do something crazy for Amelia's sake. "I'll find Zelas and negotiate with her personally... even at the cost of my life! I won't let her get away with this!"
"Wait a minute," Filia paused in worry and concern. Zelgadis had the look of a desperate madman in his eyes, of one who would do anything no matter how risky, dangerous or illogical it was. "What are you planning to do?"
"Annoyance," Zelgadis spoke the word in a low threatening tone, as if it was the forbidden name of an ancient secret weapon of ultimate doom. "No one is immune to it, not even a monster lord. I'll annoy Zelas until she sets Amelia free!"
"She'll kill you for that!" Filia warned. The whole time, Xellos was still sprouting random truths and Lina was still hitting him, while Gourry watched on in deep thought.
"I don't care, I can't live without Amelia!" Zelgadis desperately declared, while Filia tried to console him.
Finally, Gourry stepped forward. "It's okay, Zel, I'll talk to Zelas about freeing Amelia. You can leave everything to me."
A moment of silence passed as Zelgadis and Filia stared at Gourry. Finally, the chimera spoke, "let's not be so rash." Because the notion of Gourry of all people, conducting negotiations with someone as cunning and tricky as Zelas was ever so silly and ridiculous, Zelgadis finally found it in himself to get a grip on logic and reason. "There has to be a way to get Amelia back, a way that doesn't involve any of us getting killed..."
"It's okay," Gourry assured again with a brotherly smile. "Like I said, you can leave it all to me. I'll talk to Zelas, I'm sure she's a reasonable lady if we just ask nicely."
Filia and Zelgadis exchanged concerned looks. They didn't want Gourry to do anything dangerous and potentially suicidal without even knowing what he was getting himself into. Annoying Zelas was a fatal risk indeed, one that would almost certainly result in death. "No, really, it's fine, I'll take care of everything" Zelgadis insisted.
Gourry simply nodded and both the chimera and the golden dragon assumed that meant he understood that it was best to allow them to handle the situation. The truth was far from that, as Gourry had simply assumed that Zelgadis was feeling shy about asking for help as this was a matter concerning his lady love. But Amelia was Gourry's friend, as was Zelgadis, so he was all too willing to help. Thus the blond swordsman quietly decided that he would confront Zelas about the situation, preferably in secret, so that he wouldn't worry the others.
While Zelgadis, Filia and Lina tried to come up with a sensible plan to rescue Amelia from Zelas, Xellos sprouted random truthful nonsense and Gourry was busily thinking about his own plan. He intended to serve as the diplomatic negotiator that would convince Zelas to free Amelia. The group visited the local library and occupied themselves in researching various tales and legends in hopes of finding some kind of clue.
They assumed that Zelas must have a special reason to have chosen to take Amelia away to be possessed, as they still mistakenly thought she had been overtaken by a spirit, and task her with the haunting of that area. Maybe there was something hidden there, maybe there was something about that village near the Coastal States that they didn't know, which was the key to solving the whole mystery. Thus they researched the town's literature, history and folklore.
As for Xellos, he spent most of his time flipping through volume number fifteen of the Adventures of Fluffy and Ice-cream, a comic book about a traveling pair consisting of a human sorcerer and a golden dragon, which were in many ways, very much like Xellos and Filia. Gourry appeared to be absorbed in a random book, though he seldom turned the pages, as if he was stuck reading the same page over and over in a futile attempt to understand it. The others just let him be. Research was obviously not his forte, but at least he was quiet as he gave it his finest effort.
Gourry sighed and closed his diplomacy book. The complex text about the many rules of diplomacy and the importance of recognizing the differences between what is proper and what is not in various cultures was overwhelming. Besides, it didn't say anything about monster diplomacy anyway.
Pushing his brain to work even harder, Gourry tried to think of another way to figure out the proper method to address Zelas without angering her and getting himself, and possibly his friends, killed. He couldn't really come up with anything. He just thought that he should be friendly and nice, but that felt far too simple.
The distressed blond swordsman got up from his seat and placed the diplomacy book on a shelf. He looked through the other books there. Maybe he would find a more beginner friendly version of that text. Then his eyes landed on the spine of a deep red book that, judging by it's worn cover, looked like it had been read many times. He didn't remember who said it, but he had once heard long ago that good books are always worn because so many people read them.
Gourry carefully traced his fingers over the faded title of the book engraved on its spine, 'How to Impress a Woman,' it read. He carefully took the book out of the shelf, treating it gently as if he worried that it would turn to dust at any moment, before he could obtain its secrets. With a hopeful grin, Gourry returned to his seat and began to read through the first few introductory paragraphs of the book.
The text claimed that if its advice was followed, any woman would act favorably towards the one conducting the strategy. The book was very subtle in its words, making Gourry think that it was for general purposes rather than for romance. Since it was placed, unknown to him misplaced, among many books about diplomacy and politics, he assumed that it must be good for such purposes. Thus he began to study the text with great attention and even got a pencil and paper to take notes.
If he did what the book said, Zelas would listen to his reasoning and free Amelia. Then he would have helped not only the princess, but Zelgadis as well, since he was so stressed without her. Actually, they were all worried about Amelia, so Gourry would be doing something good for the whole group. He smiled thinking about the good deed he was doing, Lina would be so proud.
Time passed slowly and quietly at the library. Zelgadis and his not so merry band of worriers were running out of options. "I just don't get it!" Lina exclaimed loudly, her voice echoing through the library.
The librarian, a stereotypical old woman with gray hair in a little bun atop her head, a large nose, tiny glasses and bony hands, called out "shh!" Holding her long a thin index finger over her lips.
Lina ignored her completely and instead settled for sinking into her chair and crossing her arms in frustration. "Just what is Zelas planning anyway?" The question was not loud enough to catch the librarian's attention again as all eyes landed on Xellos. All except Gourry, who had disappeared from their line of vision a little while ago.
"That is a secret," Xellos grinned. At least the brew wore off and he wasn't reciting random truths all the time now.
Filia glared, "we can't count on him for anything."
"Aw, that was mean, my sweet Filia," Xellos feigned hurt.
Not in the mood for his antics, Lina turned her gaze away from the purple haired monster and towards the chimera. "Find anything, Zel?"
"Nothing that we didn't already know," Zelgadis replied with a frown. He looked up from the book he was examining, realizing that there was one less at the table. "Where's Gourry?" He wasn't sure why he felt compelled to ask.
Lina shrugged, "I don't know. He probably got bored and went for a walk around town or something." She never imagined the kind of thoughts that were going through his head of silly plans to befriend a certain monster lord. "I'm sure he'll come back when he gets hungry." Her beloved fiance always came back to her; that was something that Lina could always count on.
At that very moment, Gourry returned to the library with a bouquet of red roses that looked and smelled lovely. Peculiarly, there was not a single thorn to be found among them as if they had all been removed. Lina's eyes were immediately trained on him, as a pink blush invaded her cheeks. Gourry knew by now that the best gift for her was food, but she didn't mind this random sweet gesture. "Aw Gourry, for me?"
"Actually, no," Gourry replied casually, which made Lina's blood run cold.
"What?" The redhead snapped, but quickly composed herself. "Then who are they for?"
Gourry shifted uncomfortably. He couldn't tell Lina about his plan until it was done. What if she worried that it wouldn't work and stopped him? He had to show her he was reliable. "I'm just doing a good deed," it was true. As far as he could interpret, the advice from the book consisted of performing a series of good deeds directed towards the woman he wanted to diplomatically negotiate with, meaning Zelas.
"Oh?" Lina blinked in confusion. She didn't understand what was up with Gourry's answer at all.
Without any further elaboration, Gourry glanced at Xellos. "Could I talk to you in private for a moment?"
Curious about what Gourry could have in mind, Xellos agreed right away, "of course you can." He grinned cheerfully, eyes closed as usual. "Let's go," thus he teleported Gourry away.
As soon as Gourry and Xellos were gone, Lina snickered teasingly. "I see what's going on here." She glanced at Filia with a knowing look in her eyes, to which the golden dragon looked back with true confusion. "Gourry is no romance expert, but he's very sweet. Whatever advice he gives Xellos, although it might be rather simple, it will be good."
"What?" Filia shook her head. "You think Xellos is looking for romantic advice from Gourry? That piece of raw garbage would never do that!"
"And that's exactly what I mean," Lina leaned back on her chair, the knowing look still plastered on her face as she continued the quiet conversation with Filia, hopefully quietly enough for the librarian not to interrupt. "Been giving Xellos the cold shoulder, have you?"
Filia felt her face burn scarlet because Lina was very wrong in her assumption. "That's not... I haven't..." The golden dragon stumbled with her words, unable to form a coherent sentence.
"Well yeah, that's what I said; you haven't... well... you know." Lina paused, her head rotating slowly from Filia to Zelgadis. The chimera had lifted his attention from his book and was staring at her with mild curiosity and a slight blush. The sorceress cleared her throat and casually mentioned. "I think I saw a book about how to cure chimeras way on the other side of the library." She pointed.
A small awkward silence passed. Zelgadis didn't believe it, but he knew how to take a very obvious hint. "Okay, I get it, girl talk. I'll do a good deed for myself and spare my ears." Thus he got up and left, yet he couldn't help it but to gravitate towards the area where Lina pointed, even if he didn't actually expect to find his cure there.
A moment of awkward silence passed until Filia finally spoke. "I really don't think Xellos is thinking about romantic advice. Besides, you and Gourry aren't even married yet, wouldn't that technically make us more experienced?"
"I'm certain you two are very... experienced... with each other..." There was something about Lina's teasing tone that didn't quite sit well with Filia, but the golden dragon decided not to point it out. "But that's not the point. I'm not talking about lemons like the ones on the novels Amelia secretly keeps under her bed." Lina paused to make sure Zelgadis had not heard her, as she wasn't sure if Amelia had shown him the books or not. He seemed to be occupied in looking through the books on the shelves on the other side of the library, good. "I'm talking about the sweet and innocent fluffy stuff."
Filia decided not to comment about Amelia's novels and instead admitted. "I honestly can't imagine Xellos being sweet, innocent and fluffy."
Pausing to give it some thought, Lina chuckled, "neither can I, but if Gourry actually teaches him that, it'll be a really big good deed."
xoxox xox xoxox
The days passed with Zelgadis growing more stressed, Filia becoming more worried and Lina's patience chipping away until it was nothing. While Xellos watched the whole process unfold with a smile, Gourry was busy preparing all sorts of gifts for Beast Master. At first, Xellos assumed it was harmless enough. Gourry was trying to butter her up so to speak, to give her many presents then ask for Amelia's freedom in return.
Yet the gifts followed very peculiar patterns that Xellos actually took a moment to notice. This was Gourry after all, innocent, naive and loyal Gourry. Reading too deeply into his actions was usually not needed or even possible, since his actions and intentions were simple enough to be as clear as day... usually... Yet Xellos had learned that there were exceptions to practically everything.
To be Continued