Episode 022: Charming! Like A Fairytale Prince
Episode 022: Charming! Like A Fairytale Prince
The atmosphere stood still as, for another moment longer, Lina, Gourry, Xellos and Filia, waited for Pokota's human body to move.
"Was his soul..." destroyed? Lina dared not finish her question.
"I don't think it was destroyed," Xellos replied, understanding the end of the inquiry that Lina had refused to voice. "It was thrown somewhere and it's probably still near by," he theorized.
"Then I have to..." Lina tried to get on her feet with difficulty. Her life was no longer in danger, but she was exhausted. "We have to..." They had to hurry; Pokota's soul was at the risk of passing on or becoming a lost spirit if it was not quickly placed in a proper vessel. Lina's legs gave out and she stumbled to be caught by Gourry. The swordsman picked her up and though she verbally protested with a loud, "put me down, I can walk by myself!" She simply didn't have the energy to kick and flail.
"I'll take you back to your guest room, Lina," Gourry announced with no room for argument. "Filia, Xellos, please find Pokota's ghost quickly before he spooks someone or is exercised."
"I think you mean exorcised," Xellos corrected.
"Yes, that too!" Gourry ran off with the weakly protesting Lina, leaving the unlikely pair to their task.
"Hurry up dragon, bring the body, it'll be faster if we have it on hand when we find Pokota," Filia commanded.
Xellos considered teasing her about what a good little monster she was, showing concern for Pokota, but then he might get stuck with doing this on his own. Then again, how did he get stuck with this at all? "Goody-goody monster."
Filia stiffened when she heard Xellos, teeth and fists clenched, "I'm not!" She growled in exasperation. "I just think it might be useful to have someone else on the team. It'll be someone else that can serve Lord Beast Master," she quickly excused herself.
"I suppose your reasoning does have a hint of logic." Xellos picked up the pink haired young man, piggy back style and followed the impatient Filia outside. "So, does Beast Master resort to good deeds often to fuel her own selfish plans? She might ruin her reputation if she does that."
In a split second, Filia's mace was inches away from Xellos' face. "Don't you dare criticize Lord Beast Master! Teasing me is bad enough, but you must respect Lord Beast Master!"
Xellos chuckled, ignoring the deadly weapon that was so dangerously close to him. "Relax, stupid monster, I have nothing against your master. Although I admit I'm curious about her." He couldn't really explain it, but for some reason, he wanted to know more about Beast Master.
"Keep your filthy curiosity to yourself, raw garbage!" Filia snapped.
A glowing small sphere of light approached them floating tiredly. It moved around in odd patterns around them as if scolding them for something, then took refuge inside the pink haired body of the young man. The prince opened his eyes and tried to balance himself on his feet unsteadily, still holding on to Xellos for support. "I would have evaporated if I had to wait for you two to find me." Though it was supposed to be a complaint, the Taforashia prince was smiling.
xoxox xox xoxox
After a good rest, both Lina and Pokota were well enough to go back on the road the next day. "What? No luxury carriage loaded with food?" Lina protested as Pokota joined them carrying only what fitted inside his cape, much like the rest of them traveled.
"I'm not going to Sairaag as an ambassador of Taforashia or anything, so there's no need to make a fancy fuss," Pokota explained. He seemed to be enjoying his new body, making it a point to tilt his head forward to grin at Lina, who was smaller than him now.
Lina pointed her accusing right index finger at Pokota poking his nose as she did. "Don't get cocky, stuffed animal, or I'll be the first one to give your new face a black eye!" She was feeling a tad cranky that day due to the storm of emotion that Gourry taking care of her produced. But instead of taking the opportunity to talk to him about her feelings, it made her feel uneasy and insecure, as if he was only taking care of her out of pity, which was not true at all.
While Lina and Pokota were still having their glaring contest just outside of the Taforashia castle's gates, Jarde came around with an envelope and looked at Xellos and Filia, unsure of who to give it to. The letter was for Lina, but she appeared to be busy at the moment, so he might as well take the liberty of leaving it with one of her traveling companions. The little bird finally decided to give the correspondence to Xellos, who curiously opened the letter and read it. "Dear Lina: If you know where Milgazia has disappeared to, please write back to me at Dragon's Peak. The clan is worried and they're getting restless. -Memphis"
Upon hearing her name, Lina turned her attention to the letter and Xellos relinquished it without protest, while throwing suspicious glances in Filia's direction. "What's up with people going missing from where they're supposed to be?" Lina grumbled in exasperation.
Milgazia was his leader, Xellos mused, though that didn't feel entirely accurate. Even so, he had to do something about this, right? "I have to investigate," he finally decided.
Jarde was still flying around near by. He landed on Xellos' shoulder and chirped. "Ha! It's so fitting of a dragon!" Filia mocked when she heard the bird.
"You little liar," Xellos grumbled.
Gourry and Pokota both blinked dumbly with peculiarly similar expressions, while Lina inquired. "You can understand him?"
"Of course I can," Filia looked proud. "Jarde is one of Lord Beast Master's monster courier birds and I'm her general priestess."
"I can understand him too," Xellos stated, a bit surprised at himself.
Filia frowned, not sure if that was supposed to be possible. "Weird," she finally voiced.
"Let's get back to the main point," Lina prompted. "What did Jarde say? Does he know where Milgazia is?"
"Yes," Xellos confirmed. "Milgazia has tried to communicate with his clan, but the letters were intercepted. He is currently trying to find a way to break a curse Beast Master has inflicted upon him."
"If you ask me," Filia declared with monster pride. "All dragons are already victims of the worse curse possible, being dragons."
"There's definitely something serious going on with the monster race," Pokota silently observed.
"We should help Milgazia," Gourry suggested. Then, as if it was a conclusion that required a vast amount of thought and analysis, he added, "we should help him by breaking his curse." Because helping someone by any other means aside from slaying whatever was attacking them and carrying them to safety was rather complicated.
Lina groaned, just when she thought she could finally track down Amelia and Zelgadis and throw her problems at them, she found herself in yet another situation in which someone else's problems were thrown at her. "That's it! I'm running out of patience! Jarde, go get Fang!" The bird chirped mockingly and though Lina didn't understand what he said, she was quick to snatch him away from Xellos' shoulder and shake him. "I know you don't have enough power to teleport us, you puny monster bird. And you also don't have enough power to survive a Ra-Tilt point blank, which you will be getting if you don't get Fang right now!"
Chirping in fright, Jarde disappeared into the astral side. The second his chirps were silenced by his departure, Filia's complaining reminders began. "Lina, didn't I tell you before that we can't just teleport from one place to another? This is a journey of chaos; if we don't actually travel we won't be able to-"
"I got all the chaos you need right here!" Lina roared, pointing at her face, which was red with anger and held the expression of a ferocious beast.
Before their argument could progress, Fang appeared in his fox form, his twin tails wagging playfully. Yet he stopped cold when he saw the redhead's expression and whimpered, moving closer to Xellos who petted him almost automatically. Filia pouted but didn't say anything. She still found it odd that Fang seemed to seek comfort from a golden dragon more so than from her. Of course she didn't remember that Fang had been a little afraid of her since the incident in which she put a pink bow on him a little over a year ago.
"Fang, teleport us to where Milgazia is and don't you dare tell me you don't know!" Lina commanded. The group gathered around her and Fang teleported them away.
xoxox xox xoxox
When the group emerged out of the astral side after Fang's teleportation, their location was, ironically, the destination that they had intended to head to, Sairaag. Or to be specific, they were at the outskirts of Sairaag, very close to the town. Milgazia was absorbed in prayer in front of a young tree of the same kind as Flagoon, his back was to the group and he didn't look particularly cursed. Yet Lina couldn't help it but to get an odd feeling about the situation. She picked up a leaf and blew it towards Milgazia with some minor wind magic. The leaf touched an invisible electric magical shield and was reduced to dust.
"Either he really didn't want anyone breaking his concentration, or he's expecting an attempt on his life." Xellos commented, albeit it was pretty obvious that the most likely scenario was the latter.
A particularly charred looking gorgon monster with a veil covering her face to prevent the accidental petrification of those around her, her turquoise scales singed, approached. She was an astral being, but at the time her body couldn't help it but to visually reflect the injury upon her astral form. "That holy barrier he put around himself is something else," Galathia huffed. "I was going to rest in the astral side for a while longer, but now that you're here, maybe you can do something about it."
"First things first," Lina voiced, still at the edge of a Dragon Slave rampage. "Let's hear the explanations."
"Lord Beast Master did something to Milgazia's face. I cannot tell you exactly what it was, but she did something. You have to see it to understand it. I've been following him ever since," Galathia vaguely explained.
Lina's group looked at each other's faces in curiosity, then resolved to walk around the invisible magical dome that protected Milgazia and look at his face. They look at him from the side, he was facing towards the tree, but they could still see his profile. Though they expected to see some hideous scar, or something that seemed appropriate for a curse, they did not find any such blemish. In fact, it was all the opposite. "He definitely looks... different..." Lina admitted with a slightly red tint to her face.
Filia couldn't help it but to nod in agreement, forgetting that a proper monster general priestess of her high rank shouldn't be saying such things. "I thought all golden dragons were hideous," except Xellos, her subconscious silently added. "But this one seems almost," she cleared her throat as if trying to sound very nonchalant, "passable."
"What did Zelas do to him?" Lina wondered. He seemed perfectly fine, and there was something about him that made him look... What was the proper term? Like a fairytale prince. "Maybe if we look at him from a different angle?"
Filia nodded and she and Lina walked around again to look at Milgazia's profile from the opposite side. "He looks the same from here," Filia observed.
"Yeah," Lina agreed. "I know!" A theory, though unlikely due to how easy it was, came into her mind. "Maybe Milgazia's prayers are part of his cure. Maybe he broke the curse just before we got here."
"Probably, I don't sense any monster energy on him." Filia paused to think about what that could imply. "What should I do now? Should I challenge him to a fight because he dared to break Lord Beast Master's curse?" Though she certainly didn't want a repeat performance of what happened the last time she tried to fight a golden dragon, she mused that it might have been a unique occasion due to the additional energy from the Knight of Ceifeed that was involved.
"Curse?" Galathia questioned. "Who said anything about a real curse? Milgazia only thinks he's got some kind of curse, though he cannot sense it. That's because it's not really there. Zelas didn't curse him, she just did something to his face, but no one really knows what it was."
"For what purpose did she do whatever she did?" An annoyed Xellos asked. He, Gourry and even Pokota were feeling ignored and frowning at how the girls kept staring at Milgazia.
"To annoy him, I suppose..." Galathia theorized. "Although," she unwisely mused aloud. "She might have been trying to give him a better chance of influencing the dragon council in hopes of making him suggested what is mutually beneficial for his clan and the monster race, in case the dragons are tricked into..." She realized that she had said too much, though it was only speculation at the time. "Never mind, I don't know. I would like to think she's rewarding me with fan service for being so evil."
Finally, Milgazia finished his prayer and got up, dissipating the shield around him. Galathia dashed towards him, but Milgazia was expecting it and a barrage of laser breath sent her on the retreat. "One of these days I'm going to fight you for real, no matter how hot you are. When I stop holding back you'll witness my true power!" As if remembering she had something to do, and she did, she gave her farewell. "I have to go now, but I'll come stalk you, I mean, keep you company later." With those final words of parting, Galathia faded into the astral side and returned to Wolf Pack Island. She was to report it to Beast Master as soon as Lina's group reached Sairaag, where chaos reigned supreme around Amelia and Zelgadis, who were dealing with a very stressful situation.
Gourry, in a rare moment for him, did something that was actually pretty smart, albeit totally simple. "Fang, could you tell me what happened with Zelas and Milgazia?"
Since this was the ever amusing Gourry asking about it, the swordsman who never plotted and only ever noticed the obvious, Fang was not on guard about his reply. The monster fox chimera morphed into his semi-human form, with only one smaller fox tail and fox ears, the rest of his features looking very much human, though he did have an unusual eye color, silver. "Zelas ripped his hair out. She joked that it was to see if hair was the secret of the Rolly-Rolly champs, like that strong human from the legend... What was his name, the strong human?"
"Hercules?" Pokota suggested, not really knowing where the odd fox monster creature was going with all this.
"No, not that one, the other one, the one that was defeated," Fang continued trying to remember.
"Aquiles?" Lina suggested.
"Not that one," Fang repeated. "I mean the one with the hair."
"Samson?" Xellos guessed.
"Yes, that one!" Fang recalled. "Zelas wanted to see if Milgazia still kept his strength after having his hair pulled off."
Curious, Lina shyly reached over to the confused Milgazia's head and pulled his hair. "Ow! Miss Lina!" The water clan dragon elder scolded. "Please don't do that."
"It's real," Lina concluded. "Wasn't it supposed to be a wig?"
Fang shook his head. "No, no, she didn't pull off all his hair, only a little of it."
"I get it... It's his eyebrows," Filia concluded. "They don't look like a blond version of Philionel's anymore."
"You're right!" Lina exclaimed as if it was a great discovery. "I thought there was something different about his face. I guess Galathia is even more attracted to him than before, she always had a thing for Milgazia since last year," Lina recalled.
"Is that it?" Milgazia seemed to be coming to the realization himself also. "Well it was painful, but I suppose the effect will go away on its own. With Galathia chasing me more adamantly than ever, I thought Zelas had cursed me with a spell that attracted monsters or something."
"Your clan is worried about you, Milgazia." Xellos insisted, wanting to get rid of him.
"That's right," Pokota affirmed. "You should go home and reassure them." He was the one who just got a new body; it wasn't fair that he had his spotlight stolen away from him so soon.
"I was sure I sent correspondence..." Milgazia mused aloud. He was quick to logically conclude that it must have been intercepted. Well, he would resolve that by returning home, he could really use some time to himself right now. Though he knew he would have to cut his rest short, as there would surely be more council meetings to attend soon, he could almost feel it. "Have I met you before?" He curiously addressed Pokota.
"Yeah, we met at the wed-" Pokota hastily stopped himself before he said wedding, as the subject of Xellos and Filia's marriage was currently set to be left in secrecy. "At that weird resort last year, I'm Pokota."
"Ah yes, I remember," quite the chaotic party that was. "It's good to see you have recovered your human form. Well, I must return to my duties now. I wish you all luck on your journey." Milgazia glanced to Lina, whom he correctly assumed must be dealing with a lot of stress as the leader of this chaotic band of travelers. After the goodbyes were exchanged, Milgazia walked around the tree, and with a bright golden light, he took off in dragon form, flying in the direction of the Kataart Mountains.
"I'm going home now too," Fang announced and he promptly disappeared into the astral side again.
"That's one mystery out of the way, now on to the next." Lina announced in her leader voice, as she looked at the rebuilt town.
Pokota nodded in agreement, he was eager to know what had happened with Amelia and Sylphiel. "Sylphiel and Amelia are there..." and so would be the answers he needed to hear.
Thus without further ado, Lina, Gourry, Xellos, Filia and Pokota walked into town. The streets had a normal level of activity with a few people talking about the golden dragon that the just saw fly by next to their town. There wasn't anything in the calm yet active streets that hinted that the town was in any way in peril. It was all very puzzling, plus Milgazia didn't seem to be aware of there being any danger in Sairaag, he was just confused over his own supposed curse and visiting the new holy tree.
To be Continued
Amelia, Zelgadis and Sylphiel will finally make their appearance in the next chapter!