Episode 013: War! Tails (And Tales) Of Enemies
Episode 013: War! Tails (And Tales) Of Enemies
Xellos yelled in pain as his tail was suddenly assaulted without a warning. He had to be more careful, Filia was more violent than his fuzzy scattered memories revealed. Wasn't he supposed to be the violent one throwing temper tantrums in dragon form and leaving random towns in ruins? There was no time to try to sort through his blurry shifting memories now, as the only thing that occupied his mind was pain. A barrage of lasers was released from his mouth point blank at Filia. Acting on instinct, she teleported away and some of the lasers caught Xellos' own tail.
Filia looked smug, noticing that Xellos' tail was still bleeding and his expression was very pained. Maybe she wouldn't have to pull his tail off after all. Yet when she looked at him for a second longer, a painful rush of guilt overtook her. This made no sense, he was a dragon and she was a monster, she was supposed to be enjoying this, but she suddenly felt awful. She told herself that she was simply disgusted by how pathetic the dragon was and unable to look at him any longer, she hurried to find Lina.
"You'll pay for this, monster." Xellos' purple eyes glared intensely at Filia's back as she hurried away to catch up to Lina. If she thought that dragons were weak, she would have to learn the hard way how lethal they could be.
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, far from the Kataart Mountains, Milgazia had just arrived at Wolf Pack Island, having been teleported by Fang, who was only too amused to run around, or rather teleport around, playing messenger boy for Beast Master. It was like playing fetch, a game that he adored, except instead of fetching a stick or ball, he had to fetch a dragon, not in his mouth fortunately for Milgazia. The dragon elder, who was already wearing his brass rackets uniform, busied himself with setting things up for a game, one on one, at Zelas' court while the monster lord appeared to be talking to herself.
Zelas had her alternate sporty look with shorter hair orange in color in a wing shaped hairstyle. She wore a brass rackets uniform as she converse with her little messenger monster bird, Jarde. The cute but tricky tiny creature gave a whole new meaning to the phrase 'a little bird told me...' "She did that, really?"
Jarde chirped softly into Zelas' ear sitting on her shoulder. Although, even if Milgazia heard the monster bird, he wouldn't be able to understand him anyway. He was telling Zelas about when Filia bit Xellos' tail, wondering if a tail injury was particularly serious for a dragon, as there had been a lot of blood before Xellos managed to patch up the wound with healing magic.
"I don't think it's fatal," Zelas replied, noting that Milgazia was giving her an odd look.
"What is?" He wasn't particularly fond of these meetings, but the odd occasional games of brass rackets, though they had no official partnership anymore, served as a way for them to spy on each other. In a way it was mutually beneficial and there were certain details that Milgazia wanted to discuss that he wouldn't otherwise get the chance to inquire about. That didn't mean he actually expected a straight answer from Zelas, because he didn't, but an expression, a reaction, a hint, something, anything, was better than nothing.
Jarde chirped again with the suggestion to test the theory and Milgazia took note of the bird, concluding that Zelas must have been talking to her tiny minion the whole time. She gave him a hungry look that reminded him of when she threatened to turn him into dragon cuisine and replied. "If I try to test the theory I won't be able to stop. He would die, but not due to the injury, but rather, because he would be completely consumed."
Milgazia looked displeased as Zelas went back to talking to the bird and ignored his indignation. "Go now Jarde, keep me informed and don't worry so much about a minor scratch. A sadistic monster is a terribly dangerous thing; I expected this much at least. I'll have to make Xellos a dragon cuisine banquet when he comes back to make up for all the terrible peril I'm putting him through for the sake of chaos." Jarde chirped cutely despite being a monster and flew away, fading to the astral side soon after.
After Jarde was gone, Milgazia address Zelas. "You've told me so much already, so you might as well tell me the reason why."
Zelas feigned ignorance, "what ever do you mean?"
Milgazia was not in the mood to go around in circles, so he was direct. He began with a review, "in the past year you would call me to play brass rackets when there were important meeting concerning the dragon race as a whole. You used threatening my clan to presume to go, thus forcing me to send a representative to the meeting rather than going myself. Following such occasions you arranged it for my usual representatives to be busied elsewhere on the next meeting, making me send someone else."
"No matter how much they pay attention and take notes, the information will still be out of context after the previous meetings have been summarized and retold." Milgazia continued. "Plus my representatives wouldn't be able to vote on certain aspects unless they have my signature, which I wouldn't be there to give in the name of the clan. Even if I try to catch up later I'll get behind in important political matters, look irresponsible and overall be judged for putting my clan's safety above formal procedures."
"Of course everyone knows you put your clan first, just like in the past." Zelas smiled as if the tragedy of the past was unrelated to her, but it was very closely related to her and to Xellos.
After the previous water clan leader was killed early during the War of the Monster's Fall, the clan was left in disarray. Official decrees were terribly slowed because of the war and because they were cut off from the other temples, thus the inhabitants of the Kataart Mountains had to fend for themselves and decide for themselves. Without any official confirmations, the dragons that had lost their leader turned to a young golden dragon with wisdom beyond his years and a courageous determination. Many would later ascertain that despite the results of the massacre, there wouldn't be a single dragon left in the Kataart Mountains if not for Milgazia's leadership. He was known as pleasant Milgazia, always smart, always a perfect gentleman, always good company, friendly and loyal he even became close to the elves and formed a closer alliance to them than any other dragon leader previously had.
Even after the war when things needed to be made official and procedures properly carried out, no one questioned that Milgazia should remain as the leader of the water clan. His views were more open-minded than other dragons and he even spent some time traveling with a human female warrior. Rumors flew for a time that he had been in love with her, but the woman eventually married a human and those who spoke of such things were looked down upon for daring to think that pleasant Milgazia was anything less than what a proper dragon should be, even if he was far less strict than other leaders when it came to tradition.
Milgazia's clan was always exceptional. They were not extinguished when the odds were against them and guarded the knowledge of the Aqualord through the passing of time. They were also recalled as being one of the clans that did not participate in fighting the Ancient Dragons despite being under the leadership of a golden dragon. Some elders, who had been a part of the battle back then, thought that Milgazia had no choice but to hold back his forces to ensure his home's survival after being targeted by Xellos. Others ascertained that he knew the golden dragons were making a mistake and did not want to be a part of it. Both were right, Milgazia didn't want to participate in an unfair battle, but he was also thinking of his clan's safety, putting them first, as they were in his immediate care.
Returning to the present, Milgazia continued his review of the most prominent details of his intrigue. "The barrier is gone, but it's like you want to separate my clan from the others, or at least, that's the way it was."
Zelas nodded, with no intentions of denying it. "To put it simply, I didn't want them to have you as an asset. The other dragons are stricter with how they move, predictable. They are not as adaptable as your clan has grown to be."
It was the classic strategy of 'divide and conquer' and Milgazia had already figured as much. Yet things had changed recently and that was the part that confused him. "There is no meeting now and yet here I am being summoned to play brass rackets, you must have a purpose for calling me here. Also, there have been some events in the dragon race recently that I have found out about by unexpected means. I've received anonymous invitations, which seem very suspicious, but every time they turned out to be true. My presence at the events was informative, beneficial. Coincidentally, Filia had planned to take Val and Palou to Dragon's Peak recently, but it had to be cancelled due to Xellos insisting on taking her and the children elsewhere. Ironically, there was another event that I had not heard about until the anonymous letter came on that very day. Naturally, I wouldn't leave Dragon's Peak with Xellos around, even if Filia is keeping an eye on him."
"How convenient that your schedule was cleared up." Zelas took her position on the brass rackets court, eager to start the game, though she made no attempt to end the conversation.
Milgazia took his stance on the opposite side of the court. "How convenient that you cleared it for me. This makes no sense. Why did you push me away from the other dragons, only to push me back towards them? Why did you bring Xellos to me? Why did you give me the opportunity to have him send me reports? Even if he bends the truth, any information is a clue. I would at least know what you want me to think. Besides, he seemed genuinely confused, I'm not so easily tricked, but he might just actually send me the reports I asked for truthfully."
"He would tell the truth." Zelas served, officially starting their brass rackets combat. "I'm giving you information on a silver platter and supporting your attempts to get closer to the other dragon race leaders."
"Why?" Milgazia returned the ball.
"That," Zelas hit the ball back, "is..."
"Don't say secret!" Milgazia countered, sending the ball back to Zelas' side of the court.
"Actually," she returned the ball. "I was going to say it's because you're delicious."
"Be serious!" Milgazia scolded, he had come to hate Zelas' dragon cuisine jokes. "If you're expecting to get any information I might learn think again."
"I'm not so naive," Zelas hit the ball more harshly, sending it back at Milgazia with a great force. "I don't expect you to tell me anything, but I'll tell you this, even though I suspect Dolphin is plotting, I don't think she's the only one. There might be something going on with the dragon race that you would disagree with."
Milgazia focused his energy on his brass racket as he returned the ball. "You mean something that we may both disagree with?" The thought of such a possibility worried Milgazia. If Dolphin went against Zelas and the dragon race decided to take the opportunity to attack, a war would follow just when things were finally calming down. The casualties would be high. "I see..." He would have to look further into that, but it wouldn't be so easy with how the other elders had taken to excluding him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Lina had managed to make her way down from the Kataart Mountains and was once again on the road to Seyruun. She wasn't even sure if Amelia and Zelgadis were actually there, as they had been traveling around a lot and had no set schedule to drop by Seyruun. It would be easier to summon a courier monster bird with a spell to instantly deliver a letter to them and learn of their location, but Lina would not do that. She purposely took the longer approach, intending to stop and rest at Seyruun until Amelia and Zelgadis showed up, so that they could then continue their journey. Val and Palou's pranks during their martial arts lessons with Phil should be enough to satisfy Filia's need to go on an interesting and chaotic journey, so hopefully Lina could hang around the kingdom of white magic for a while.
The sorceress looked at Filia, who was quietly walking next to her with a kicked puppy expression upon her face that reminded her of Gourry and Lina did not want to be reminded of Gourry. "Cheer up Filia!" She didn't know what afflicted the dragon turned monster and she wasn't in the mood to listen to another's troubles when she had her own. None the less, if Lina didn't cheer her up, she would end up depressed too.
"Cheer up?" Filia gave Lina an incredulous look, then took a surreptitious glance over her shoulder at Xellos, who was walking a few feet away from them at a slower pace. It was clear he didn't want to be near Filia and for that she should be glad, but she wasn't. She had injured him and though crushing his skull with her mace seemed ever so appealing before, now the image of his injured tail seemed terribly cruel. She couldn't think of the blood and pain without her stomach turning upside down, metaphorically speaking of course. "I am happy when the world is miserable, I'm a monster!"
Lina frowned, "I guess you must be really happy then, but you sure do have a weird way of showing it!" She was miserable and, though Lina had mostly been ignoring Xellos, she was vaguely aware of him quietly following them. He wasn't being talkative, obnoxious, or overloaded with cheer, so he must be pretty miserable too.
"Oh... right... hee hee..." Filia forced herself to laugh, but the attempt was pathetic. They crossed a river and the thought occurred to her that she should carry on her earlier plans to get rid of Xellos by accidentally pushing him in to drown him, but she couldn't, it only filled her with more guilt. Maybe she should hire assassins to do her dirty work for her. But how would that look? A monster relying on human assassins, what a joke!
She wondered how in the world she had managed to destroy so many dragons during the War of the Monsters' Fall without falling apart. Though it was an accomplishment she should be proud of, she suddenly found herself loathing the title of dragon slayer. Why did that golden dragon called Xellos affect her so much? It made no sense! In her mental quest for some semblance of logic, Filia concluded that her guilt couldn't be linked to Xellos, because she didn't care about him. Far from it, she hated him, really, she did. Then the only explanation that was left to attribute her guilt to was Beast Master herself. She had ordered for Xellos not to be killed and Filia had been bending the rules to try to get rid of him against her master's wishes.
"Filia!" Lina had to raise her voice, as Filia was too caught up in her own thoughts to hear her. While Filia was analyzing the situation, Lina had lagged behind to check on Xellos, noting the scar on his tail.
The arrow shape at the end was no longer pointy, but instead ended up in a crescent moon shape. When Lina had asked about it, Xellos grumbled something about living dragon cuisine and gave Filia an open eyed glared, which was not something he did often. Lina found it worrisome and it was even more worrisome that Filia actually took a bite out of Xellos. Well, if it was only a bite mark, Lina could pass it off as a weird dragon hickey, but there was actually a piece of tail missing and, even if she was not an expert on dragon hickeys, she was pretty sure that's not how it was supposed to go. Even for a sadist like Filia, this was going too far and Xellos was most displeased.
"What is it, Lina?" Filia finally responded, not too enthusiastically.
"I was saying that maybe you shouldn't be so rough on Xellos." Lina repeated, lowering her voice so that Xellos wouldn't hear her from a few paces behind. "I know that Beast Master only asked you to keep him alive, but I think it might be best to also keep him whole."
"I guess so..." Filia agreed without putting up an argument, which surprised Lina.
Then the redhead put two and two together realizing that the real Filia was surfacing beyond the version of her that was tricked into thinking she was a monster and compelled by her old ways to try a little too hard to behave like one. There was hope yet! If Filia recovered enough to act somewhat like herself, the journey would be a lot easier. Lina mentally gave the thought a bitter laugh. Xellos and Filia in their normal states were not the calmest pair around, all the opposite, they were the most chaotic, but they were still easier to deal with than Xellos and Filia with switched species. "I don't think Xellos is injured that badly, other than maybe his pride."
Filia gave Xellos another clandestine glance as a phrase came into her mind. 'The Sea of Chaos has no fury like a dragon scorned.' Was she the one who said that? She couldn't remember, she felt as if someone had said it about her, except she wasn't a dragon. Perhaps she was just confusing it with the human saying 'the Sea of Chaos has no fury like a woman scorned,' which fit Lina Inverse like a glove. She wouldn't worry about it though, so what if Xellos wanted to get back at her for taking a bite off his tail? Filia was a powerful monster, so it wouldn't matter what he did. He couldn't hurt her, right? No dragon could hurt her...
To be Continued
Jarde is from Valkyria Chronicles 2.