Episode 011: Go! Don't Trip Over The Starting Line
Episode 011: Go! Don't Trip Over The Starting Line
As Lina, Xellos and Filia turned a corner behind a rock formation on their way down from Dragon's Peak, Lina didn't notice that there was someone following the group. Gourry peeked out from behind the rocks. So Lina was on a new mission, it seemed. Surely the journey would get dangerous and maybe she would find herself in need of a swordsman in battle, to watch her back while she chanted her spells. He was glad Fang secretly dropped him off at Dragon's Peak, though the monster fox was only following Zelas' orders to add Gourry to the group for the sake of causing additional chaos. Even if Xellos and Filia were planned to be the main sources, the more the better. Quietly and imperceptibly, Gourry followed them.
As Lina, Xellos and Filia went on their way; a little golden dragon boy curiously approached them. He looked at the purple haired lady who very much resembled Val's mother, save for the hair color. Unsure, he asked, "is Val here, Miss Filia?"
"Val?" Filia questioned with more curiosity than she, in retrospect, thought a monster was expected to have. The name sounded very familiar, Val... Val... Valgaav... Val... That Val? The dragon monster, the one who was reborn. "That is a question for Xellos," she tried not to show her curiosity. This was information that she should already know and it should not concern her anyway. She didn't want to hint at her missing memories; the general priestess of Beast Master shouldn't show any weakness. Yet she couldn't help it but to wonder what that dragon did with the egg when he took it to... Where had he taken it again? To his shop? What was it that he did? Did he make maces? No, that was her own hobby; she made weapons for fun like a monster should. What did he do then? Determined not to think of it more than it was needed, Filia decided to conclude somewhat logically, that Xellos must have handed the egg over to Milgazia or something. As for what he did with his time, she shouldn't care.
Xellos shrugged, his memories about Val were also fuzzy and he too was trying to remember what ever happened to him. He had not seen the egg while he was there and Milgazia had not brought up the subject. The egg should have hatched by now, but he didn't see a little ancient dragon running around either. Maybe the clan felt uneasy about it and Milgazia sent the hatchling elsewhere? "Milgazia sent him somewhere I guess..."
"Oh," the little dragon boy was disappointed that his playmate wasn't there. His parents always seemed worried when they played, but never had a word of complaint. Besides, Milgazia seemed to be fond of Val, so he had to be a good dragon, even if his father was a monster. Though the boy didn't understand the details, he assumed there was some kind of diplomatic truce going on with Beast Master and that, as a child, he had no reason to worry himself with trying to understand grownup business anyway. "Are you going to play with us, Xellos?" Milgazia looked angry last time Xellos was playing with Val's friends from Dragon's Peak, but he was fun and taught them tricks. Maybe the clan elder just felt left out because he was busy and didn't have time to play with them. "Filia, Lina, you two?"
Lina was about to reply, but her instinct told her to look in Filia's direction. Filia's face held a smile that was much too kind to fit the ferocious monster she was trying to be. She started to bend down to the boy's eye level, but as soon as she noticed what she was doing, she quickly straightened and forced her face to look serious. 'Sorry sweetie, but we're on a mission and must be on our way.' Filia was certainly glad that such preposterous words had not actually left her mouth. She was a monster, how could she be talking to a dragon child, let alone so sweetly? "Be gone little boy!" She exclaimed dramatically, with the flare of a theatre villain. "Be gone least you wish to forfeit your miserable existence!"
The little boy only looked confused, but Xellos couldn't resist the opportunity to tease Filia. There was just something about her that begged him to annoy her. "Ooh! The big bad monster is going to kill us, this is so scary!" Xellos mocked.
The boy only laughed. He didn't know why Filia dyed her hair purple. He didn't know why Xellos bleached his hair blond and had a dragon tail, the little boy had one too, but he was a dragon child so it wasn't odd for him. Yet now he realized that they must be playing some kind of game of pretend. "Oh no, who will save us?" The boy laughed as he futile tried to act out the role of someone who was supposed to be frightened.
Filia fumed and seeing as her face became red in an involuntary reaction she couldn't help it but to express as she clenched her teeth, Lina let out a foreboding "oh, oh..."
"You dare to mock me, dragon child?" Filia shouted. "Do you not know who I am, you ignorant fool? I am the dragon slayer!" Purple lightning surrounded her and she was starting to look really scary.
"No... no... no..." Lina chanted under her breath. Dealing with a trickster monster was easier than dealing with a prideful monster that constantly obsessed about doing what was expected of her. Seeing that her race was capable of making mistakes made Filia awaken to reality before, but how could that be accomplished now? "Listen, Filia, I don't think you have to..." No one was listening to Lina, especially not Filia.
The little dragon boy had become so frightened by the dark energy and purple lightning that surrounded Filia, poisoning the atmosphere with negative emotions, that he hurried to hide behind Xellos. Filia was supposed to be the dragon and Xellos the monster, but Xellos didn't act that way, at least not on Dragon's Peak on the time of little boy's lifetime.
"Stand aside, Xellos!" Filia commanded with a murderous glare.
"You're really a big bully, aren't you?" Xellos' voice was joking and mocking, cheerful and sarcastic all at once.
It could only infuriate Filia further, yet she remembered that Beast Master had forbidden her from killing Xellos. Did he know? No, he had always been this infuriating, she half knew and half recalled, so it wouldn't make much of a difference if he knew. "Stand aside I said!" Filia shouted louder, the dark energy around her increasing as she ignored Lina's attempts to calm her down.
"Wah!" The little dragon boy wailed. "Filia's scary! Wah! Filia's really scary! Wah! Waah!" his cries were terribly loud and annoying, they made the atmosphere stand still for a long moment.
Xellos wasn't sure what to make of the situation, but he thought the boy was a wimp. Lina hoped that the boy's fright was enough to convince Filia to let him go unharmed. As for Filia, something snapped in her and she was horrified. The boy's cries were bothering her and she held no joy or satisfaction in them. His fear empowered her, but she was displeased. "Stop it..." She spoke in a growl under her breath at first, then in a louder more commanding tone, "stop it, child!"
Scared beyond reason, the little boy ceased his cried and stared up at Filia with tearful eyes and a terrified expression. He was too afraid to speak any words beyond a soft shuttered "sorry."
Filia kneeled to the boy's eye level and patted his head gently. "Hush child, I will forgive your life." The boy nodded, but still looked scared. She pulled him into a hug before she had the chance to think. "Shh... I said I would let you go, so don't cry. Go now, little boy, return to your home."
When the boy parted from Filia, she was smiling at him and he smiled back, assuming that all the scary stuff was just an act. He had heard that it took real skill to play the villain in a dramatic performance, so Filia must be a very talented actress. He waves at the group and ran off towards the center of Dragon's Peak where the majority of the dragons were.
Lina let out a breath of relief, glad that the little unexpected interruption to the start of their journey had gone by without any major incidents or fatal casualties. However, her relief was very short lived, as Xellos had to go and open his big mouth to tease Filia. "That was kind of sweet of you, but monsters aren't supposed to be sweet. You make a pretty cheap monster I guess."
Lina slapped her forehead as she noticed Filia's glare. Then the redhead joined in the glaring, albeit for a slightly different yet related reason. "What about you?" Filia retorted angrily. "Shouldn't a noble dragon defend the young of his clan? Didn't Milgazia take you into his clan after yours was pathetically destroyed?"
"I see no reason to defend every little coward that crosses my path, child or not." Xellos crossed his arms and pouted stubbornly. "Besides, who says I have to be a certain way? I'll do whatever I want!"
"You're a failure as a dragon!" Filia argued.
"And you're a failure as a monster!" Xellos countered.
"Xellos..." Filia's voice was dangerously low and threatening. She grabbed him by the shirt collar and materialized her mace in her other hand with her monster energy.
Seeing that Filia was ready to pound Xellos into a bloody puddle, Lina was quick to interfere. "Wait! Don't forget what Beast Master said!" She desperately reminded. Bitterly, the redhead mused that the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach was not alone; it was accompanied by deja vu. This situation reminded her of the time when Xellos was stuck as a human last year and she had to play bodyguard until he got used to fighting in such a state.
Xellos was a fast learner and the best Dragon Slave caster Lina had ever seen, after herself of course, but he still needed some back up now and then, as any human would in his situation. He was a dragon now, but the imminent danger wielded his own true powers against him and that was a lot of power. Knowing Filia's temper, she could lose it and kill Xellos if Lina didn't keep an eye on things. This was different from last year's situation, the sorceress mused, so he probably wouldn't actually die, but she had a feeling that if Xellos was killed in dragon form someone would die, most likely Filia.
Closing her eyes and counting to ten in her mind, Filia realized Xellos and made her mace disappear into thin air, causing the energy that formed it to return to herself. "Fine," she relented at last, "let's go."
The exchange between Lina and Filia made Xellos very curious. Beast Master was Filia's boss, what did she say that would cause her to let him go? What was the monster race planning? It was his mission to report that to Milgazia and he would not fail that mission. Yet before he could uncover the monster's plot, he had something else to point out. "It's this way."
Filia glared, "no, it's this way!" She pointed in another direction.
"This is a shortcut!" Xellos insisted.
Lina groaned as her feeling of deja vu increased to unprecedented proportions. Already her mission was turning out to be a headache. She looked at the path suggested by Filia, full of jagged rocks on the way down, she was probably trying to be a monster by choosing the most sinister looking path. Xellos' suggestion was a very stiff mountain path, but it didn't look as bad. "Filia," Lina spoke with caution. "Since I'm only human," she attributed the suggestion to her own human necessity, making it clear that she wasn't simply choosing to agree with Xellos. "It would be hard for me to go down the mountain that way."
"You must!" Filia insisted. "I must go with you, as Beast Master commanded, and I cannot go through the other path, so you must use this path!" She pointed at the jagged rocks and long fall below. "Surely you can get through it just fine with a levitation spell."
Lina sighed, convincing Filia was not easy back then and this past version of Filia turned monster was even harder to deal with. Yet she knew by the way she reacted to the boy that the nice Filia who was her dear friend was still in there, she just had to be gently coaxed to come out. "Why don't you just teleport us down?"
Filia thought about it, but disregarded the suggestion. Teleporting would be too easy and this was supposed to be a chaotic journey. "No, that's too simple. We're not only trying to make our way out of the Kataart Mountains here; we must go on a note worthy journey."
Lina looked at the path Xellos had suggested, "and that steep path over there isn't note worthy enough because?"
"The path isn't even the real issue." Filia pouted as she glared at Xellos, then she started speaking in a very proud and self righteous tone. "I am Lord Beast Master's general priestess; I cannot lower myself to agree with this..." She tried to find the right word to describe Xellos, pointing at him with disgust. "This... this piece of raw garbage!"
"Raw..." Xellos twitched, "garbage?"
'Not this again!' Lina had enough; she had to put a stop to this. "That's it! I'm taking control of this operation. I'm the leader, so you two will answer to me!"
It was true that Beast Master had appointed Lina Inverse as the leader of their group, but how could she be so disrespectful? Filia couldn't tolerate it, "wait just a minute..." She threatened.
"No I won't!" Pissed off and with a pounding headache, Lina tried to resolve the argument in the most effective way she knew how. "Darkness beyond twilight..."
Filia blinked, "she blew her temper..." She should have seen this coming given Lina's volatile emotions.
"Crimson beyond blood that flows," Lina continued her signature spell's chant.
"No kidding, captain obvious..." Xellos sarcastically replied.
"Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows..."
"Aren't you worried about the safety of your clan? This spell is called the Dragon Slave for a reason, you know," Filia pointed out. Her fierce anger was strangely replaced by curiosity towards that oddball of a golden dragon Xellos.
"I pledge myself to conquer, all the foes who stand..."
"I suppose I could go tell them to clear the area," Xellos considered.
"Before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands..."
"You're not even scared," Filia noted with disappointment.
"I still have time to fly away," Xellos reasoned. "Besides, panicking never helped anyone anyway. If anything it might make Lina angrier."
"Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed..."
The sorceress was almost done with her spell and Xellos could feel the rush of power gathered in her hands. "Now Lina, I think that's quite enough," he tried to calm her down, but she wasn't listening. Maybe he shouldn't have waited that long before trying to talk her out of this. There was only one thing to do now; he gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
Lina's face turned scarlet and her focus was completely lost. The power she had gathered from Shabranigdu dissipated into nothingness as the spell's effect disintegrated before it could be used to do any real damage. "You! You!" Lina pointed at Xellos accusingly, "you cheat!"
Xellos gave her a smug look of victory. He took her accusation of being a cheat with a different meaning than how Lina spoke it and didn't further inquire about it. Filia seemed particularly angry, though Xellos assumed she was simply disgusted by the kiss, innocent as it was, because monsters were supposed to hate stuff like that. He did not expect her to stomp on his tail. The painful yelp came out along with a beam of laser that pierced a rock formation near by.
Xellos picked up his sore tail while Filia continued to glare at him. She didn't know why she was so annoyed seeing Xellos kiss Lina, but felt strangely relieved that she was. The feeling was certainly unpleasant, but at lease she was acting like a proper monster should. There were so many improper monsters these days, it was quite unfortunate.
Brushing pebbles and dust out of his hair and clothing, a blond human swordsman crawled out from under the stones that fell on him when Xellos' laser breath destroyed the rock formation. His hair, Xellos noted through the dull ache on his tail, was similar to the hair of that female warrior in the portrait at Milgazia's house and the reason why she looked familiar became clearer. How could he have half forgotten Gourry?
Seeing her ex fiance again all of a sudden was not something Lina took very well, especially in her current both temperamental and embarrassed state. She didn't want to see him now, she couldn't see him now. She couldn't let him follow her and protect her without loving her; it was too painful to be around him like that. She had to get away. With such thoughts running through her head, Lina ran away as fast as she could in the opposite direction, deeper into the Kataart Mountains.
"Wait, Lina!" Gourry called after her and started running too.
"He's remarkably good at hiding his presence," Filia mused aloud before she could stop herself. Xellos looked at her with a slightly mocking expression, which made her quickly add, "of course, I knew he was there all along."
"Sure you did," Xellos replied with sarcasm.
Filia glared, wishing strongly that she could destroy the annoyance named Xellos and get it over with, but she couldn't go against Lord Beast Master's orders. Instead she looked in the direction Lina had gone in and realized she was already out of sight. She was supposed to be the leader of the journey, so Filia couldn't lose her. The redhead had not gone in the direction previously suggested by Xellos, so she wouldn't be agreeing with him if she followed her through a different route. Without another word, Filia hurried to chase after Lina. Xellos wasn't just going to stand around, so he went off to find Lina too.
To be Continued
They're off to a rocky start... XD Amelia and Zelgadis will be on the journey too, they'll come along with a plot twist a little later.