Episode 026: Sadness! Facing Sorrow
Episode 026: Sadness! Facing Sorrow
Zelas walked to the next cave chamber. Xellos found himself staring at her curiously the second he saw her. Her energy... she was a monster, no, not a mere monster, she was a monster lord. "Lord Beast Master, Zelas Metallium." He voiced, as all the others were too surprised by her presence to say anything or even move.
"The child?" Pokota inquired with a tone of worry.
"Is an answer even required?" Zelas stated rhetorically. Pokota looked sorrowful then paused and stared into the monster lord's eyes boldly. She narrowed her gaze ever so slightly, sending shivers all over the young prince's body. He didn't want to, but he had to look away as a deep terror overtook him. Her eyes... there was something every so cunning and malicious about the way she looked at everyone. Yet in this occasion, for this particular catastrophe, she was guiltless. His theory that the lost life was because of her was quickly banished and Pokota wondered if it was in truth because of the chimera genetics. He knew that it was very likely.
Gourry seemed to be the only one who didn't know what the sudden silence meant. Normally, the mother's voice would only cease when the child's cries stated, but Amelia had quieted leaving nothing but silence in the atmosphere. "Is it over?" He looked at Zelas with puzzlement. He wasn't sure when she got there, but she came from the next cave chamber, so she must know what was happening in there.
"Yes, Gourry, it's over," Zelas replied in a nonchalant matter of fact tone.
Gourry innocently smiled, "the baby is born?" He looked at Xellos, who seemed to be fascinated by Zelas' visit, and at Pokota who looked terribly sad. "Why isn't everyone excited? Don't people usually get all excited about this sort of thing?"
"Ignorance is bliss... Yet it cannot last forever," Zelas chuckled before disappearing. Her presence was gone; Xellos was no longer able to sense her. She seemed ever so familiar and he didn't understand why.
A dejected Lina approached the waiting men. She stood in a corner leaning against the wall and sniffling. "Lina?" Gourry inquired in confusion. "What's wrong?"
"Don't talk to me now." Lina's request was spoken in a whisper, but it was so fierce that it silenced Gourry immediately.
The confused swordsman looked at Sylphiel and Filia, who soon walked into the area they were at, leaving Zelgadis and Amelia to have a moment alone. "What's wrong?" Gourry asked again.
No one was in the mood to explain it, but Sylphiel knew that he wouldn't understand until it was spoken directly. "The child was..." still born, he wouldn't understand that concept and she didn't want to speak of the event more than needed. "The child passed away."
Gourry frowned, "oh..." Suddenly the sadness around him made sense and he too was sad over the tragedy.
Filia's eyes were fixated on the ground. When she finally looked up, she caught Xellos staring at her. Her eyes were teary and she knew it. The reaction happened and it would take a lot of concentration to make her projected form look nonchalant. Yet she didn't want to do it. She didn't want to look like a monster should, she wanted to express the things she felt and didn't understand; she wanted to let it all out. Beast Master had not scolded her; in fact, the monster lord had not acknowledged her at all. Filia didn't want to think about what that meant now, she had too much on her mind as it was. It was too much to add Xellos to it too, thus she teleported away.
Xellos quietly exited the area of Flagoon and focused. He could sense Filia's presence not too far away. He followed the feel of her energy to the area outside, behind the growing Flagoon and the leftover ruins. The rain had stopped, though the rain clouds were still up in the sky covering the sun with lighter shades of gray than before. The heavens' tears were not yet empty and it might rain again at any moment. Xellos walked towards were Filia sat alone on the ground in the shadow of the Flagoon and ruins structure behind her.
He was a dragon, but he couldn't sense her emotions like the time when he was temporarily a human last year, the time he couldn't currently remember. He had no sense of empathy. His monster ability to taste emotions didn't translate to anything this time, because it wasn't a case of Xellos becoming a golden dragon, but rather Xellos switching with Filia. She could taste emotions, as any monster could and he could not, as any normal golden dragon could not. None the less it didn't take a genius to know she was devastated.
"Go... away... raw... garbage..." Filia gasped between sobs.
"Out of breath, are you? A monster should have better control," Xellos observed. "If you simply will your tears to stop, they should."
"I don't have to listen to you, raw garbage! I can cry if I want to!" Filia snapped. "I can show how I feel, I have the right to!" She yelled.
"Show how you feel?" Xellos stepped closer to her, which prompted her to stand and take a challenging stance as if trying to be threatening. "Monsters feel?" Somehow, he thought they did, but they didn't normally admit it.
Filia wasn't sure how to answer to that. She clenched her teeth and tried to push herself to insult him, but he had a point. She wasn't supposed to be like this. She was not only a monster, but Lord Beast Master's general priestess. Was Zelas angry with her? Was that why she didn't even speak to her? Without realizing it, Filia had lowered her head to stare at the ground beneath her feet.
She suddenly felt a hand on her chin, gently lifting her face to look up. "So they do," Xellos concluded, wiping a tear from her eye with his thumb. Then he made a request that took even him by surprise. "Filia... When things calm down, when this journey is over... Will you take me to see Beast Master?"
"What?" Filia stared at Xellos as if he grew a second head. "Are you serious? You want me to take you to Beast Master?"
His eyes opened for just a moment and Filia found herself staring into the deep amethyst with curiosity and fascination. "Yes," there was no doubt in his voice as he closed his eyes again.
"That's crazy!" Filia exclaimed, taking a step back, causing Xellos to release her face. "You're a golden dragon, what do you want with Beast Master? She'll kill you if I take you to Wolf Pack Island! Are you suicidal?"
"She won't kill me." The certainty in Xellos' voice confused Filia further. How could he be so sure of that? He grinned, "at least, she won't kill me as long as I don't anger her."
"She would kill any random dragon that went into her territory." Filia logically argued.
"Yes," Xellos agreed without question. "But I'm not a random dragon. She won't kill me as long as I don't defy her. If I'm respectful, Zelas won't harm me."
"Why are you so certain?" Filia huffed, anger starting to rise at his apparent arrogance.
"I don't know," Xellos admitted. "Or I suppose I could say that is a secret, a secret even to me. It's hard to explain, but somehow I sense it. I can't say why, but I have a feeling that I can trust her."
"A monster lord?!" Filia sounded both offended and horrified. "You're a golden dragon! How can you trust a monster lord?"
"I really don't know," Xellos reiterated. "Look, it's no loss to you, right? You can just take me to Beast Master after things quiet down and if she decides to kill me that's not your problem. You can excuse yourself and say you brought me as an ingredient for her dragon cuisine or something."
'I suppose," Filia sighed, giving up on the seemingly nonsensical argument. "You're a strange dragon," she observed again.
"And you're a strange monster," he added.
Filia didn't argue with his claim, instead frowning and looking at her hands. She was remembering when healing energy flowed out of those very same astral hands, monster hands. "I am," she admitted.
Xellos raised an eyebrow curiously and even momentarily opened one eye. "And you're okay with that?"
Filia's frown deepened, "no."
"Why not?" Xellos curiously inquired.
"Who wants to be a freak?" Her frankness made him chuckled. "Shut up raw garbage, don't make fun of me, you're an even bigger freak!" Filia huffed and crossed her arms. "What kind of a monster can heal, what monster mourns a dead child? I should be jumping for joy because an innocent baby is dead."
"Or more so because you're getting nutrients out of the sorrow," Xellos mused. "It's odd, but I always thought that's what it's about. It's about getting a good meal, rather than the tragedy itself; about the benefit to you, more so than the loss to others, that part would be insignificant. Physical creatures die after all, it happens. They are set free from their cages of flesh and returned to the Sea of Chaos to be reborn." He wasn't sure how he knew that, how he learned it.
"I suppose..." Filia conceded. "For a dragon you act like you know a lot about monsters. But I don't even have that; the meal doesn't cheer me up."
"For a monster, you act like you know a lot about dragons," Xellos retorted. "I can understand I guess. This band of travelers is pretty amusing and too much gloom can ruin that. The meal doesn't make up for the lack of fun, the lack of delicious chaos. It'll be too quiet if the gloom isn't lifted, too quiet for Lina's wrath to flare about every little detail, to quiet for Gourry to say dumb things that annoy her. Too quiet for Zelgadis' occasional gloomy chimera mood swings to even be noticeable. Too quiet for Amelia to bring out the fear in bandits with her justice obsession paired with Lina's hunt for their treasure. It'll just be too quiet, not chaotic enough. And ultimately, not beneficial. It's okay to miss a good meal; the sin of gluttony is a virtue when it is in a monster. Besides, even monster like to have fun, don't they? Even monsters can get a little attached to their," 'friends,' he didn't voice, instead finishing with, "toys."
"Really?" Filia spoke unsure. Then she calmed down, not because what Xellos said made much sense to her, but because it sounded as if he was trying to cheer her up. She shouldn't accept such a gesture from a dragon, but she really needed it at the time.
Realizing that he had unknowingly consoled her, Xellos decided to try to fix his apparent mistake. "Or maybe you're just a failure as a monster!" He laughed at her.
Filia's temper flared. "You filthy piece of raw garbage!" She called forth her mace that materialized in her hand. "I'll make you pay for mocking me!"
"Oh, oh! She's mad, I better run!" Xellos spoke to no one in particular as he stuck out his tongue at Filia. In the past, she would have killed him, but not anymore, he amused her too much beneath her anger and he knew it. Curiosity was a monster's greatest weakness and he incited her curiosity.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days passed with a silent gloom hanging in the air. It was rainy, dark and gloomy to the point where the residents of Sairaag wondered if the sun would even shine again. There was much crying during that time, a lot of morning for what could not be changed. The small tomb was constructed there, in the outskirts of town near the old Flagoon. One would think that it would be built in Seyruun, but no, Flagoon, the tree that revived to once again cleanse the air of any impurities, was a comforting symbol. Seyruun was too, it was Amelia's beloved home after all, but the cemetery where her uncle and cousin's bodies eternally rested brought too many bitter memories, tainted memories, for her. So the child was buried at Sairaag. She would tell her father and sister of this, but not now, not when the mere mention of the boy's name would make her cry before she could even explain who he was. She would tell them when she could console them. It was ironic, they would console her, but she wanted to be able to do the same thing back.
Amelia's hand brushed against the tombstone. The color in her face returned to its usual health, she was no longer white as a sheet as she had been during her pregnancy. With a combination of herbal medicine and healing spells she was alright, physically at least. With her nutrients no longer being drained away by a being that her body couldn't support, she had recovered her stamina. Her appetite rivaled Lina's during the first few days when she was able to eat again without being plague by nausea. Afterwards, she slowed into her usual pace and fell into a routine.
One morning, after sleeping in, as a result of having spent the whole night awake battling with his conscience, Zelgadis was surprised to find Amelia sparring with Lina. It was at the princess' insistence as she wanted to test how far her strength and spell casting abilities had recovered. She was well enough to go back on the road. She was even well enough to bring justice upon bandits if she felt like it. After the mock battle ended and Amelia saw Zelgadis watching them from the sidelines, she simply stated, "I'm ready to go now." She tried to smile, but it was obvious it wasn't sincere.
She tried so hard, too hard, more than he deserved, Zelgadis thought. She expected what was to come next, yet she didn't want it, she so badly wanted her guess to be wrong. "Amelia... Could you come for a walk with me for a while?" It was the first day when the sun shone after a long series of dark rainy days.
Amelia nodded and swallowed the lump in her throat. "Of course..." They walked away, leaving Lina to shudder as a foreboding cold chill ran down her spine.
xoxox xox xoxox
Before they knew it, Amelia and Zelgadis were back in the outskirts of Sairaag. She picked wildflowers on the way and had a bunch in her hands by the time she reached the child's resting place, his name engraved on the stone. She set the flowers in front of the tombstone and went on her knees to pray. Wordlessly, Zelgadis mimicked her posture beside her. Amelia imagined that he was apologizing for something that wasn't his fault. She had told him that, but he still felt guilty. That was how he was, always wanting to be better because he didn't think he was good enough. She thought she had cured him, but this tragedy threw him back there again.
When the prayers had ended, they stood and looked at each other as if seeing each other for the first time. "Amelia... I... you..."
"I'll go with you," Amelia offered before he even had the chance to explain himself.
"What?" Did she know what he was going to say? Yes, she saw it in her eyes; that determined sapphire sparkle. "Please no..."
"I will," Amelia insisted, "I want to."
He sighed, he knew this would be hard, but now it felt so impossible. She had guessed it; he wanted to search for his cure again. "Please, let me do this. You should go home and rest." Before she could argue that she had already recovered her strength he added, "don't wait for me. You should..." this was so hard to say, he felt like he was dying. "You should find someone better."
Amelia pouted and shook her head. "Zelgadis Graywords, the one I want is you and I can be pretty stubborn when I want to be."
Zelgadis smiled a little, just a little, because love was that strong in spite of everything. "There is something I need to do..." Before she could protest again with her insistence to go with him, he added, "I'll be back. I can't say if it'll be a week, or two or three... A month at most and if it is more, I will write and explain the details. There's just something I need to check out, alone."
"Why can't I go with you?" Amelia argued. "Is it something I would disapprove of?"
"Possibly," Zelgadis admitted, "but I will not allow it to cause you sorrow. Please, trust me. I simply don't want you to be pushed to become... part of the bargain."
Amelia furrowed her brow and frowned. "What monster do you intent to negotiate with?"
This was his Amelia; she had become so good at reading him like a book. Zelgadis wasn't sure if it made him feel loved, or uneasy, or both. "Zelas."
Amelia sighed, "I thought as much. Very well, miss Zelas isn't so bad, she wants chaos rather than death and we are used to chaos anyway. But even if she's not completely bad, she's certainly not good either." Her face adopted a thoughtful expression as she mused aloud. "Life was simple when things, situations and people were either good or bad, but that's not how it is in reality."
Taking a deep breath, Amelia continued. "Miss Zelas will help only if it is of a benefit to her, just as when she helped Seyruun and now we must call ourselves her allies. If the other monsters were to ever betray her, she'll have an allied city that specializes in white magic, an ideal weapon to defend against her own kind should the need arise. She uses Seyruun to establish herself as the superior monster lord who commands both the darkness and a portion of the light. I can only pray that she never grows bored with this world, that her amusement stays relatively tame, somewhat balanced."
Zelgadis nodded, "I will keep all of that in mind." Sometimes Amelia surprised him with her insight.
She made herself smile, "right, even if the world is not all black and white, we'll make the shades of grey shine as bright as they can. I still hope that one day miss Zelas will answer to the call of justice deep in her heart!" There she was again, the same optimistic Amelia that everyone was used to.
"Right..." Zelgadis nodded, smiling a little as he did only for her. He didn't want to go off with a sad face; that would only make her more uneasy.
"One more thing Zel..." Amelia's tone turned serious again. "You are in no conditions to properly judge right now and honestly, neither am I," she spoke sternly and seriously, so much unlike herself. "Don't give into desperation, don't make a sacrifice that can only bring sorrow in the long run, don't be tricked."
"I promise," Zelgadis assured, though deep down he wasn't sure if, even if he tried his best, it was even possible to keep such a promise.
To be Continued