Episode 020: Startling! Another Dragon In Distress
Episode 020: Startling! Another Dragon In Distress
On their way to Taforashia, Lina, Gourry, Xellos and Filia stopped at a town. It was the same as always, Lina and Gourry cleaned up all the supplies of the local restaurant and after spending the night at the town's inn, the group would once again be on their way. The suspicious occurrences that had taken place lately had Filia wondering what would happen next. She strayed from the group and wandered around town for a while, blending in surprisingly well.
The street merchants called out various phrases to advertise their products, but one specific merchant stood out to Filia above all the others. He wasn't any louder than the rest of them, but her pointy ears picked out his words above the shouts and murmurs of the busy streets. "Berries, get your berries. Just make sure you don't give them to dragons or they'll go crazy!"
Driven by curiosity and mischievous intentions, Filia approached the man behind the booth. His hair was black, about mid-back length tied in a low ponytail. She looked at his peculiar violet eyes that reminded her of Xellos eyes, except this man seemed to b a human. There was something in the back of her mind that told her she had seen him before, but she couldn't remember. She looked at the berries he sold; they were red and somewhat heart-shaped. "Will these berries really drive a dragon crazy?"
"Oh yes, very crazy!" The mysterious man smiled, showing that his fangs were slightly longer than those of an average human, but his energy was still like that of a human. There might have been a hint of something else in his aura, but it was very well hidden.
"I'll buy a box!" Filia's interpretation of the merchant's warning was that a dragon who consumed the berries would act stupidly insane. She didn't ask any further questions so he didn't give her any further specifications.
As Filia ran off with her purchase in her hands, the mysterious merchant grinned, his expression similar to that of Xellos. "Increment the chaos around Xellos, that was the order I received from Lord Beast Master," he mused aloud. "The methodology was of my own device, you can thank me later, dear brother." The man, or rather the human and monster chimera, faded into the astral side, returning to his duties at Amor Resort, a very peculiar secret monster training facility.
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Later at the inn, Lina, Gourry and Xellos were hanging around idly, since there was no way they could make it to the next town before sundown and Lina wasn't in the mood to camp out tonight. Filia wasn't sure which room Xellos was staying at, but she had a very simple plan to figure it out. She walked right up to him and asked. "What room are you in, raw garbage? I want to know so I can stay in the room furthest away from you."
"I'm in room number five in the second floor," Xellos replied rather nonchalantly.
"Then I'll be in the opposite end of the inn." With that announcement made, Filia teleported away.
Meanwhile, Lina had been sitting at the opposite end of the inn's common room and was unable to hear the exchange between the monster and the dragon. She was trying to make some kind of friendly conversation with Gourry, but wasn't sure what to say. She was supposed to be charming him, but she didn't know how. All she ever did around him was be herself, but she was convinced that alone wouldn't work. Deciding that perhaps she should wait until she ran into Amelia and ask for a little help with her situation, Lina delayed her plans for the time being and decided to head upstairs to her room.
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Meanwhile, Filia had teleported to the hallway of the inn's second floor. She looked at the numbers carved on the brown wooden doors. The inn had nothing peculiar about it, with an ordinary appearance and ordinary rooms filled with common wooden furniture and plain white sheets and pillows. One of the doors, the first one in the hallway was labeled 2-1, she continued walking down the hall past doors 2-2, 2-3 and 2-4. Finally she found herself in front of door 2-5. Without a second thought, she phased through the door and entered the room.
The room was just as generic and boring as all the other rooms at the inn. There was a bundle of something tossed in a corner in what appeared to be a black cape. Albeit Filia didn't examine it closely enough to realize that it was Lina's and not Xellos' cape. She set the box of berries on the little wooden table's surface and left it there. Her aim was that Xellos assumed it was room service or something and ate the berries. Then he would go crazy and embarrass himself. She couldn't wait to see what he would do. With a mischievous expression and a gleeful giggle, Filia teleported away and waited, hoping to hear the sounds of a commotion soon from room 3-5, which was directly above room 2-5.
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Soon after Filia had left room 2-5, Lina retired to her inn room, finding a mysterious box upon the table. She curiously opened it and was delighted to find that its contents were edible. She picked up one of the red heart-shaped berries from inside the box and put it in her mouth. The berry was delicious and though it had a dark history and peculiar side effects for dragons, it was harmless to human consumption. Thus Lina began to happily devour the berries.
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Meanwhile, from his position in room 2-3, Xellos waited eagerly to hear the sounds of a commotion when whatever Filia was planning to trouble him with was unleashed upon the lethal Lina Inverse. However, all that he could hear were the sounds of Gourry snoring from room 2-4 next door. Curious about what was taking so long, Xellos cautiously exited his room and made his way down the hall towards room 2-5. He placed his ear against the door, but didn't hear anything particularly suspicious though he did hear some loud chewing noises.
For a moment Xellos wondered if he should be concerned. Maybe Filia had left food there to poison him and now Lina was eating it. If the poison Filia had managed to get was indeed strong enough to knock out, and perhaps even kill, a golden dragon, then a human didn't stand a chance against it. He knocked on the door least he risked angering Lina for the terrible crime of 'entering a lovely maiden's room without permission,' as it sounded like something she would say, most likely after throwing a blunt object at him.
"Come in," there came Lina's eager voice from the room and Xellos had to wonder if she thought her visitor was someone else, perhaps Gourry. Xellos opened the door to room 2-5 and let himself in. The disappointment was evident on Lina's face as her previously smiling expression fell. "Oh, it's you. What do you want this late?"
Xellos eyed the nearly empty box on the table. There were a few heart-shaped red berries left in it. "I just came to visit." He moved closer to look at the box's contents with suspicious eyes. "Looks like you're having a nice snack. Out of curiosity, where did these berries come from?"
Lina smiled at the thought of the berries. She didn't really know where they came from, but she had come up with her own wishful thinking theory. "They're a gift from Gourry, just for me."
Lina answered with such certainty that Xellos couldn't help it but to believe her. "I see..." He looked around the room as if searching for a hidden trap. "Have you noticed anything suspicious around your room?"
"Not really," Lina mused, her gaze becoming suspicious. "Why do you ask?" Her tone was growing serious as she considered the possibility of the town being attacked. "Have you noticed anything?"
"Not really," there was no way Xellos was going to admit he tried to trick Filia into aiming whatever plans she might have had at the wrong target. Thinking back on it, maybe the reason for her question really was as simple as wanting to be as far away as possible from him as the inn's structure would allow. "I just had a bad feeling, that's all."
"I see..." Even if Xellos had sounded disregarding of his supposed bad feeling, Lina decided to take a small precaution. She approached the window and looked outside, finding nothing really suspicious about the now quiet street below. Just in case, she closed the window and made up her mind to get an early start tomorrow moving on with their journey. "We need to be on our way early tomorrow, so I'm going to get some sleep now," as soon as she ate the rest of her berries.
"Right, then I bid you good night," Xellos left Lina's room and headed back to his own.
After Xellos was gone, Lina turned her attention back to the nearly empty box of berries on the table. "Hmm..." There was something definitely out of place about it. She could have sworn there was one more berry left in there, though only Lina Inverse would be so attentive to details about food and their quantity. Did Xellos steal one of her berries? Her, Lina Inverse, the sorceress who was known to wield the Dragon Slave spell with such power and frequency? Lina shook her head, "nah!" She was probably just tired and didn't properly perceive the amount of berries before. There was no way Xellos could be suicidal enough to mess with her food.
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While Xellos' visit to Lina was taking place, Filia was getting impatient up in room 3-5. She considered interfering to speed things along, but that would most likely alert Xellos about her trap and ruin the plan. She was growing tired of listening to Gourry's loud echoing snores, so she teleported outside of the inn and took in the fresh air of the night. A man in dark clothing walked down the street and looked towards the inn. He didn't go inside, but instead turned away and faded.
Filia recognized the man as the same merchant that had sold her the berries. He reappeared again only a few feet away from her and she could finally sense his aura clearly. He was a human, but also a monster. Then she knew, she wasn't sure how she had forgotten the detail before, but she now knew who he was. "Celo," she voiced his name. He was a human monster chimera under the command of Lord Beast Master. Did he purposely place the berries in her reach to assist her in getting back at that annoying golden dragon?
"Greetings Filia," Celo spoke with his usual extreme tone of respectfulness. "It is a lovely night, is it not? Yet I would think that you have more pressing matters to tend to at this time. Pardon me for daring to ask, but why are you out here at a time like this?"
"So I was right," Filia expressed her conclusion rather than answering his question. "You did set me up to find the berries so that I would take revenge on Xellos." She wasn't particularly bothered by it. He was her ally serving Lord Beast Master after all. "I left the berries for Xellos, but I don't hear the sounds of a commotion. Maybe he has not had any yet. How loud are they supposed to make him anyway?"
"My lady, I assure you I don't know," Celo ascertained. 'Albeit for certain your most deeply buried memories would have the answer to that and more,' he wisely decided not to voice.
That wasn't very useful. "I just assumed that crazy also meant loud," Filia voiced. "I mean, he'll be acting all random, right? He'll probably yell, or sing, or do a stupid silly dance or something, right?"
Perceiving that Filia had no idea the kind of craze that the berries provoked, Celo elaborated. "Those berries are called dragon lust berries. They are often sold among humans as an aphrodisiac. Albeit they have no effect what so ever on humans, they do affect dragons in such a way."
Filia's jaw dropped and her face turned crimson. "What?" She shouted loud enough for her voice to echo down the street, piercing the still quiet of the night. "You didn't warn me about that! What if that stupid raw garbage dragon is flirting with some random girl right now?" Not that she should care who he flirted with anyway, but she would feel sorry for the poor girl, she tried to convince herself. After all, she was a monster and she was evil, but no one, not even Shabranigdu himself could be evil enough to wish Xellos as a romantic possibility upon anyone. With such determination in mind, Filia decided that she had to stop any possible passionate disasters from occurring.
"I suggest you hurry," Celo smiled ever so respectfully, with his tone remaining friendly and formal without the slightest hint of mockery. Yet somehow, all those details made it all the more infuriating. Given that she had no time to waste, Filia decided to let Celo's masked impertinence pass and teleported back to the inn.
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Filia reappeared at room 2-5, which she thought was Xellos' room. Her sudden materialization out of the astral side caught Lina by surprise and the gluttonous petite redhead almost choked on the last berry. "Sheesh, Filia, don't pop out of nowhere like that!" Lina scolded in annoyance. Then she reasoned that maybe Filia's little visit was not a random annoyance, but an action that had a reasonable and important explanation. "Did something happen?"
Filia looked at the empty box of berries and at the lack of Xellos in the premises. "Those berries, did you eat them all?"
"Yup," Lina smiled proudly, more so because of what she thought was the source of the gift than at the relatively small feat of eating the whole box full of berries by herself. Such a snack was nothing for Lina Inverse. "I found them in my room; they must have been a gift from Gourry."
"Your room?" Filia realized that she had been tricked and for a moment her temper flared. But she was soon overcome by the relief of knowing that she wouldn't have to deal with a flirty Xellos. "Stupid piece of raw garbage," she grumbled.
Lina gave Filia a suspicious look. "Xellos was here earlier and he said something about having a bad feeling. Is something going on that I don't know about?"
"It's nothing," Filia pouted and in her upset state she confessed most of what was going on. "Those berries were part of a prank for Xellos, but you don't need to worry, they are harmless to human consumption."
Lina frowned in disappointment. "So you were the one who left the box here?" To that, Filia nodded in confirmation. Before Lina could further dwell on her disappointment about not having received a gift from Gourry after all, she realized that Xellos had basically used her as a scapegoat and her temper flared. "Xellos!" She growled, "how dare he use me as a scapegoat?!"
Eager to contribute to the topic of Xellos bashing, Filia added her own little comment. "Causing trouble, that's the only thing raw garbage is good for."
Then another thought occurred to Lina, though she wasn't sure about it. She should probably mention it just in case, so she would know what the situation could be at its worse. "I suspect Xellos might have stolen one of the berries before he left, but I'm not sure. Are they poisonous to dragons?" Lina was sure she had seen the berries before and even heard tales to go with them, but she was so excited about supposedly receiving a gift from Gourry that she wasn't thinking about that. Then her memories finally clicked as Filia's face turn red in alarm. "Aren't these dragon lust berries? I didn't think I would ever see them outside of Amor Resort."
"You know what these are?" Filia exploded. "Why didn't you warm me? I thought they made dragons stupid crazy not flirty crazy! Xellos better not have stolen that berry and if he did, he better not have eaten it!" Without further ado, Filia disappeared.
"Warn you?" Lina argued back, though Filia was no longer there to hear her. "How was I supposed to warn you if I didn't even know what you were planning?" She huffed with her hands on her hips.
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At room 2-3, Xellos was absorbed in the task of examining the odd red berry heart-shaped that he had a peculiar foreboding feeling about, and yet there were also obscure pleasant memories attached to it. He smelled the berry then licked it to perceive its taste. At the same time, Filia rapidly teleported from one room to another until she arrived at room 2-3 where Xellos was. Her sudden appearance startled him into taking and consecutively swallowing a small bite of the berry, though the rest remained held between his right thumb and index finger.
"Don't eat that!" Filia slapped the berry out of his hand, sending the remaining portion flying out the window. "You haven't had any of those berries, right? That was the only one you got your hands on, right?" Her questions were suspiciously desperate and insistent.
"Yes," Xellos admitted. He wondered if the berries were poisonous and Filia was feeling guilty over her attempted murder, she was a strange enough monster to exhibit a conscious from time to time, he mused. "I only had a little piece of the one you threw away and I believe Lina ate all the others by herself. Are they lethal?"
"Not to humans," Filia breathed. Her mind wrapped around the little detail revealing the fact that Xellos had indeed consumed a small piece of the berry. "I suppose such a tiny piece wouldn't do much to you. You'll probably be alright. Just don't allow yourself to have any strange thoughts." If Filia intended to say anything else, she was unable to, as soon Xellos' mouth was on hers, preventing further words from being spoken. Her face turned scarlet and after a moment's hesitation, which Filia mentally scolded herself for having, she pushed him away.
It dawned on Xellos what he had done, driven by a strange irresistible impulse and he struggled to find something to say. "Strange thoughts like that?" Filia could only nod in embarrassment. Dragon lust berries, that's what those things were. Xellos couldn't believe he had forgotten all about them and even now he wasn't sure how the information had surfaced in his mind. He couldn't recall the event that let to such knowledge at all.
To be Continued