Episode 009: Impulse! A Step Forward and Ten Back
Episode 009: Impulse! A Step Forward and Ten Back
Wolves howled as the sea washed against the shores of Wolf Pack Island. Xellos led Lina inside the hidden palace underground, towards Zelas' throne room. "You really are a stubborn one," Zelas' voice was heard, coming from down the hall. "At least you are named correctly." As she emerged from another hallway and into their view, Lina and Xellos realized that there was something peculiar attached to the bottom of her white dress. It was a young wolf-dog with yellow fur and blue eyes. The female was a little over a year old and she was playfully chewing on the ivory fabric in an attempt to get her master's master to play with her.
"Fili," As soon as Xellos spoke the name, the wolf-dog released the fabric of Zelas' dress and ran to Xellos, trying to jump on him. Xellos caught her, but he set her down again. "You're too big to jump into my arms like that."
"Fili has visited her kind long enough, go drop off your pet in Seyruun." Zelas dismissed.
Xellos knew it was his cue to leave Lina alone with Beast Master. "I'll be back in a little while." He teleported away, taking the wolf-dog with him, Val and Palou would be glad to have her back. Zelas never liked her much, though she had a level of tolerance for Fili that amazed even Xellos. The wolf-dog hybrid was the daughter of one of her favorite wolves, Chaos, and Milgazia's dog, Justice, needless to say, Zelas was not pleased with this, but let Fili and her siblings live. While Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde, who took more after their mother with black fur, lived at Wolf Pack Island with the other wolves, the runt of the litter was adopted by Xellos and named Fili Algar Metallium. Her middle name was composed of the forth letters of the names Zelas, Amelia, Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry possibly because Xellos was Lina's useful and sometimes useless, item number four, though that was somewhat of an unconscious choice in his part.
With Xellos gone, Zelas led Lina into the elegant yet somewhat rustic looking throne room that was occasionally remodeled. Gold and fur seemed to be the theme at the moment. Zelas' golden throne had thick black fur draped over it with a few fur rugs scattered about in a seemingly random pattern that was both chaotic, yet strangely balanced. The walls were decorated in swirls of white, black and gray as if painted with distant galaxies and the golden throne stood out, though it wasn't blindingly bright due to the contrast of the black fur details on it. Zelas took a seat on the throne as Lina stood before her.
The red haired sorceress chuckled, as if trying to force herself out of the numb state she was left in. Her eyes were still red and puffy, making it obvious she had been crying. The taste of her unpleasant feelings must be clear to Zelas. However, Lina Inverse had her pride and she wasn't about to be looked down on by a monster lord, or by anyone. "I see you've remodeled the place." Lina didn't visit Wolf Pack Island often, but she had been there before during a series of chaotic events that she didn't have the energy to think about at the time.
"Do you like it? I'm remodeling the sitting room that precedes my personal chambers too, but you had not seen that one before." Zelas spoke casually. "That's a pity because it was quite stunning if I do say so myself. But alas, the decorations are lost. Sweet little Val let the wolves into my chambers last time he was here for a visit and he got them so hyper and playful that they chewed up my precious dissected dragons. Of course, Val thought they were just statues, amusing little mischief maker that boy," she chuckled.
"Dissected dragons..." Lina couldn't help it but to wonder what Filia would say to the story of that event.
"I sent the torn up remains to Milgazia as a prank gift and he sent me a rather displeased sounding letter in return, but it was so proper and diplomatic that I couldn't take it seriously. I would laugh my head off the day someone made that oh so controlled and patient dragon blow his temper a la Lina," Zelas grinned.
Lina didn't like being used as a temperamental example, but in her current mood, she didn't really care. "What is it that you wanted to ask of me?" She decided to cut the small talk, speaking sharply.
"Not in a good mood, are you?" Zelas stated what had been obvious to her from the start. Seeing that Lina was refusing to humor her with a response to her comment, Beast Master continued. "For a reason that does not concern you, as it is an internal business of the monster race, I must gather chaotic energy from the beings of this world. I plan to gather it from Xellos and Filia; however, I you need to serve as the leader as they go on a journey. Concerning the specifics of the journey, I will entrust those choices to you as chaos seems to follow you wherever you go. There is another role you must perform too, Xellos and Filia will have their memories temporarily locked and it will be as if this was their first meeting."
"No!" Lina adamantly refused. "I'm not going to deal with that again! Xellos being extra annoying because, I didn't see it at the time but, it's his strange way to flirt. Filia getting angry at him and rampaging through towns, stomping around in dragon form. Not happening!"
"Withhold the tantrum, dear Lina, of course you will be a fine source of chaotic energy as well, so you must not feel left out." Zelas continued speaking calmly to the fuming sorceress before her. "I assure you, Filia will not be stumping around in dragon form, though Xellos might, if he is pushed to it."
That took Lina by surprise. "What?" Even if she tried not to look interested, the curiosity was written all over her face.
"It's only a temporary switch," Zelas grinned, amused by Lina's futile attempt to hide her curiosity. "I have heard Xellos spent a little time as a dragon before, but that was due to an accidental wish granted by the wandering spirit of a mermaid trapped in a magical pearl. He might be stuck that way for longer now, not that he would know and neither will she."
Lina pushed herself to think rationally and consider the very serious risks of Zelas' plans. "Xellos as a dragon is one thing, but Filia as a monster? I thought you wanted to torture the world, not destroy it! What if, due to her missing memories, she goes back to her old temper tantrums with a power like Xellos' at her disposal? I also really don't want to see her pre-reality check with monster views." Zelas only smiled and Lina realized something, "you anticipate all that, even look forward to it."
"Correct," Zelas' grin grew. "I will instruct Filia not to kill you or Xellos. That way Xellos will be free to throw a hissy fit if his dragon form, or Filia, gets to him, and you'll be able to better exercise your authority as the leader. How about it, Lina?"
Lina sighed; she knew she had no choice. It would be worse if Xellos and Filia were left in such a state unsupervised. Besides, she really needed the distraction and another chaotic adventure could be like therapy to her wounded heart. It was decided, "I'll do it..." and in true Lina fashion she added, "but it'll cost you."
Zelas laughed, she wouldn't expect anything different from Lina Inverse. "How about I take care of your travel expenses, including food. That way you can stuff your face in a vain attempt to heal your broken heart."
Lina frowned; Zelas just had to bring up her heartbreak. Well, it would only be worse for her wallet now. "No budget limits," the redhead demanded sternly.
"Feel free to eat the world, so long as you keep the journey and the chaos flowing," Zelas agreed. She materialized something out of thin air and handed the item to Lina.
The item was small, taking up only the space on her palm. It was a sort of royal crest similar to the one Amelia carried to represent Seyruun, except of course the symbol on it was quite different. There was the silhouette of a winged wolf... "You updated this too," Lina noted, having seen Xellos with the older version of the crest before. With that symbol of Zelas' bank account backing up her expenses, Lina intended to eat like a queen... or like a dozen queens.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at Wolf Pack Island, Lina had been sent off to prepare, having been teleported off the island by Fang. Xellos and Filia were both present in a specially designated chamber in the center of the underground palace. The chamber was very tall and elaborate, with marble pillars that reached up to the tall ceiling. The marble became glass mixed with marble pebbles that became less until even the glass ended. It gave the impression of pillars that reached for the infinity of space until they disintegrated into the endless Sea of Chaos. The ceiling was about a hundred feet above, painted black with large diamonds encrusted into it, powered with some minor light spells contained in the jewels, which made them shine like stars.
Yet the beauty of the chamber was not enough to calm Filia as she shifted, standing on the diamond encrusted marble floor. It looked as if stars had fallen in a sort of temple dedicated to chaos, yet the image was also peaceful, balanced, it was Filia's mind that was in a turmoil. She knew that she could entrust Val to Jillas, Gravos and Elena, she knew that he would be taken care of, but it wasn't leaving her child which worried her. She was more so worried about her own actions. What would she do as a monster? Would she have something terrible to regret when she changed back to normal and got her memories back? She glanced at Xellos who stood a few feed away next to her. He was calm, yet anticipating, curious.
Zelas began to chant and circles of light surrounded Xellos and Filia. She held up a necklace with a violet gem, a valuable amethyst and so much more. The jewel was the conductor to absorb the chaotic energy and the source of the temporary change was Beast Master's own power, thus she could undo it at will. Symbols appeared around the borders of the circles that glowed in every color humans had ever come up with a name for. The violet jewel became a multicolored light along with the circles and magic resonated through the chamber in sharp continuous waves.
Filia felt something take a hold of her, as if it was gripping her very soul and injecting power into her being. She looked at Xellos and bit back the need to cry out. It was somewhat painful, but not excruciatingly so, nonetheless she was frightened. Xellos on the other hand was calm despite the unpleasant look on his face that came from having his power drained to be temporarily lent to her. Filia closed her eyes and opposed no resistance as she knew it was fruitless.
The magic continued to flow and the glow of many colors slowly settled into a dark purple. The amethyst's light faded until it looked like a normal, albeit exceptionally beautiful, jewel. Both Xellos and Filia were now unconscious on the floor of the chamber, his hair was a golden blond and hers was purple, though their eyes, Zelas mused, were probably their usual color for each of them. She looked over their sleeping forms and smiled with approval. "Celo," she summoned.
Celo entered the chamber at once. He was a monster human chimera, an actual combination rather than a pledged human. His long black hair was tied in a low ponytail. Purple eyes very similar to Xellos' examined the area attentively and sharp fangs could be seen when he smiled giving him a somewhat vampire-like appearance, though he wasn't one. "Lord Beast Master..."
"Take her to Xellos' room and let her rest for a while," Zelas commanded.
"Yes, Lord Beast Master," Celo picked up Filia's unconscious form. She reminded him of his late wife, Tiffany, who had been a golden dragon and Filia's childhood friend. Her sacrifice had been vital to winning the battle last year and averting the end of the world. He left with Filia and took her to Xellos' room as instructed.
Zelas picked up Xellos' unconscious form. He shifted slightly in her arms and there was a ripping noise which she realized was due to his tail making its first appearance so soon after the transformation to dragon. He would just have to deal with keeping it out or deal with having a hole in his pants every time it came out without permission. She assumed he would most likely opt for the former. Without further ado, she teleported away, taking the unconscious Xellos with her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Zelas reappeared at Dragon's Peak in the Kataart Mountains, specifically in front of Milgazia's house. "Delivery!" She called out in a cheerful mocking tone.
Milgazia opened the door and an unconscious dragon who very much resembled a blond Xellos was shoved into his arms. "What is the meaning of this?"
"How rude, aren't you going to invite me in and offer me a cup of tea?" Zelas feigned offense. "Even Filia had enough manners to do at least that."
Milgazia frowned, but knew when not to be stubborn. "Would you like to come in and have a cup of tea?" He asked without any enthusiasm.
"No thanks," cue the sarcasm, "darling," it sounded more like and insult than a term of endearment. "I'm in a hurry." Milgazia opened his mouth to speak again, but Zelas cut him off as she shoved past him into the house. "But if you insist I might just honor you with my presence." She made her way to the kitchen and started sorting through his cabinets as if they were her own.
Milgazia set the unconscious dragon, who looked like Xellos, down on the couch at the living room and quickly followed Zelas. "That unconscious dragon, who is he? Xellos per chance?"
Zelas paid Milgazia's disapproving look no mind as she examined a dark blue tea cup with golden details. She tossed the tea cup over her shoulder carelessly, though it was fortunately caught by Milgazia. "Xellos Ul Copt, as his temporary identity goes." She moved her attention away from the cabinets that were not hers to ravish and finally looked at Milgazia in the eyes. "Here's the story, Xellos Ul Copt was a dragon from the Flare Lord's clan whose clan was destroyed during the Darkstar incident. He later joined your clan and has been living here since. Unfortunately, he was injured in a battle against Beast Master's monsters and suffered a partial amnesia because of it. The general notions of the story are already in his head, all you need to do is enforce it."
Milgazia was taken by surprise and for an instant longer than he would have liked, it showed clearly on his face. "Why all this?" He had to ask.
"That is a secret..." Zelas shook her finger at him in a very Xellos-like expression. "You need not worry though," she added before he could protest. "Lina Inverse will be here to take Xellos off your hands very soon. Of course, I can still do this without you and if you don't cooperate I'll eat you."
Milgazia frowned, he didn't want to become dragon cuisine, but there was something else about the statement that caught his attention. "If my participation in this charade is not vital, or even truly necessary, then why bother threatening me?"
"Because it's amusing," Zelas stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Besides, you're so terribly dull, I want to see you lose your cool one day, it would be entertaining, I imagine."
"Dull?" Well now, there was no need to throw around petty insults, was there? "The last time I tried to tell a joke in your presence, you slapped me as if I had terribly offended you," which left her burning red hand print on his face for quite a while.
Zelas almost shuddered when she recalled his dull joke. It was so dull it hurt like a high level astral attack. It actually caused her pain, her, Beast Master Zelas Metallium. "We will not speak of that."
It made Milgazia wonder if his innocent joke was indeed somehow offensive to her. Wisely, he decided to drop the subject. He already knew what came next, so before she spoke he did, "now I'll refuse to cooperate and you'll threaten my clan to push me into it."
"Correct," Zelas nodded. "It's odd how the thought of being cooked and eaten doesn't concern you as much as the safety of others. You're a stupidly selfless creature, you know? Maybe that's why you're so dull, you have no personal desires."
What ever happened to being called pleasant Milgazia? "There is really no need to stand here insulting each other."
"I don't remember being insulted," Zelas pointed out. "You don't have the guts."
"I have no liking for unnecessary rudeness," Milgazia argued. After making a small pause he inquired. "Was there something more you wished to discuss?"
"No," Zelas confirmed, then she disappeared. That was it, she was gone.
Milgazia heard a tired groan from the living room and left the kitchen, placing the tea cup he had caught on the counter as he exited. He noted with a touch of physically invisible but very much present annoyance that his unwanted guest, Xellos, was awake. He wanted to get rid of him before any further trouble arose, but he decided to investigate just what state of mind the monster turned dragon was in. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I got run over by an army of monsters," Xellos replied rubbing his head. He focused on the dragon who had spoken to him. Milgazia, his name came into his mind. "I'm at Dragon's Peak?" He asked a little unsure.
"Yes, there was a battle and you were injured, but you're okay now..." Milgazia played along. He didn't catch any hints of deception in Xellos' still purple eyes. Perhaps Zelas was telling the truth about his state of mind after all.
"I see..." Xellos closed his eyes and tried to organize his thoughts. He couldn't clearly remember anything at all and he attributed the partial amnesia to being dazed after the battle, which he couldn't remember either. He did have vague bits and pieces of memories of a false past, though it appeared more so as information in his head rather than images, because unknown to him, such images did not exist.
To be Continued
Finally, the main plot of the story is well on its way. :D