Episode 027: Depression! The Choice Of A Desperate Fool
Episode 027: Depression! The Choice Of A Desperate Fool
"He's gone?!" The disbelieving echoes invaded Sylphiel's house as Amelia replied to the hostess' innocently concerned question about Zelgadis' whereabouts.
"Yes," Amelia confirmed, "he said he would be back soon, so I'll wait for him here a little longer if that's alright."
"Of course," Sylphiel insisted. "You're all welcome to stay for as long as you want."
"Thank you," Amelia gratefully replied. The last thing she wanted right now was to wait for Zelgadis alone. But she knew her friends wouldn't leave her, and he knew that as well when he left her in their care at Sairaag, even if he didn't directly say it.
Lina half expected Filia to point out that they should be moving on with their journey, but she didn't breathe a word. The redhead had heard the townspeople talking about the purple haired lady's outbursts and the way she would chase the blond dragon around town, but no notable injuries came out of it other than a bump on Xellos' head. The citizens of Sairaag didn't seem to realize that Filia was a monster, but the fact that Xellos was a dragon was obvious to them, since his golden scaly tail was always out.
Xellos and Filia had once again established a connection with each other and she could see Filia awakening into her true self. Lina could see it and she wondered if any of the others could see it too. She no longer worried so much about what a proper monster should do and acted according to her own judgment rather than the expectations that hung over her head, or that she thought were there. At least the journey would be easier in terms of those two from that point on. Lina didn't think they would seriously try to kill each other again and if left to their own devices, maybe they would rediscover what they had and be overall, a little easier to deal with as a pair.
Yet that wasn't the only issue hanging in the air. When something improved, something else went horribly wrong. Amelia didn't speak of Zelgadis' destination, she only stated that she would trust him and hope for the best. That was what worried Lina the most, the look of resignation in Amelia's eyes, as if the Seyruun princess knew that stopping whatever actions Zelgadis was intend on taking was impossible and her only available course of action was to support him through them. What did Zelgadis intend to do? Amelia wouldn't say, but Lina had a feeling that she would find out eventually, and if her recent luck continued, she would find out in a not so convenient manner.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at Wolf Pack Island, Zelgadis found himself at Zelas' throne room, the same place where she had spoken to Filia before and to Xellos even earlier. Fang had teleported him there after Zelgadis summoned Jarde with the courier bird spell and had him fetch the fox monster, who had sufficient energy to teleport him to his master's home base. The imposing yet elegant monster lord, Beast Master Zelas Metallium, sat regally upon her throne, with a mocking smirk upon her face reminiscent of Xellos. Her expression made Zelgadis feel uneasy, as if he was making a mistake, yet he already knew that, so his concern didn't increase too much beyond what it already was.
"Zelgadis Graywords," Zelas' strong voice pierced the silence that previously clung to her throne room. After Fang delivered Zelgadis there, he left the chimera alone with the monster lord, left them to their conversation, their negotiations, her manipulation. "Your visit here is closely linked to the recent happenings concerning your son," she stated, rather than asked, as the matter was obvious.
"Yes," Zelgadis admitted, trying to keep his voice steady, firm and devoid of a hint of anything aside from the outmost serious neutrality. He knew that it was a useless facade. She was a monster lord; she could clearly taste the turmoil that was unfolding in his heart. Yet if he didn't show it outwardly, he could make-believe that he was in control.
"There are several options," Zelas stated. Unknown to her, she was addressing a request that Zelgadis had no intentions of making. "Let me share a story with you. During the time when Lina summoned the Lord of Nightmares, as you know, many things were set lose and the consequences of that were dealt with during the past year. However, there were other smaller occurrences that seemed insignificant at the time. One of those such occurrences was a rupture in the dimensional fabric that divides the worlds. Our world and the over-world became connected. However, only those whose astral bodies were not too large, humans for example, and a peculiar type of monster found in the over-world similar to mutated animals wielding elemental magic, were able to pass through. The portal closed very soon, leaving a group stranded, but they managed to make a new live for themselves here. Recently though, another portal opened and the band of humans from the over world jumped through."
"The Roketto mafia," Zelgadis realized. It had to be them, it was the only explanation for their mysterious disappearance and the overall eccentric collection of unusual devices the gang had possessed. They had machines, Zelgadis had heard, very strange machines that surpassed even dragon technology, the most peculiar of them being those monster capture capsules. They were gone now, so Zelgadis had to wonder where Zelas was going with all this. "What about that?"
"That was not the only occurrence of such a portal," Zelas revealed. "Though I admit I am unaware of how many such occasions took place, I will tell you of another. It connected to a different part of the over-world, far from the place where the Roketto mafia came from and returned to. There was nothing there but a petrified body. Not dead really, albeit after petrification one has little to do but waste away and eventually die when the stone crumbles, as the cure is so rare. None the less, it is curable, and in such cases the petrification is in a sense like a frozen coma. Monster energy, the creation of a chimera; that is what reanimated that stony body and turned her into one of my minions. A strange, flirty creature she is, but alive none the less, I speak of the gorgon who used to collect statues of petrified men in another life, albeit now what she seems to want from them is-"
"How is any of this relevant?" Zelgadis snapped.
Zelas smiled in amusement, "it is relevant, albeit I don't care to explain it. I was only doing so to make you snap."
Zelgadis gritted his teeth, Zelas could be very infuriating when she wanted to be, and unfortunately for those around her, more often than not, she wanted to be. "Can we get to the point?" His sense of logic was returned as the anger held a small spot within the sorrow and he knew he was a fool to be there.
"If the child is petrified via a spell and then mixed with monster energy, it might become re-animated. Albeit because the flesh was technically not truly alive at the time, it will be more so a monster than a true monster and human chimera," Zelas offered.
"No," Zelgadis firmly stated.
He tried to organize his thoughts to explain his business, but Zelas continued before he could. "The other option is far more straight forward, get a necromancer involved and turn the boy into a zombie. I believed you've witnessed an example of that in Saramina. With the proper potions and spells, the boy will even grow to adulthood eventually, though he'll still be prone to literally fall apart every now and then, as zombies, regardless of how well kept, are never too sturdy. It would be quite ironic given how rock hard his father is," she chuckled mockingly.
Frowning, Zelgadis tried to keep his temper in check, reminding himself that the woman before him could very easily kill him without effort if she so wished it. "I am not here to ask for anything on behalf of my son," he firmly clarified.
"Oh?" Zelas raised an elegant silver eyebrow in curiosity. "Giving up on the boy, are you?"
"Let my child rest in piece, I won't, I can't," the pain was evident on his face as Zelgadis spoke those words. "I could never turn him into an experiment. Even if it was a well intentioned experiment, it would be an experiment none the less; I can't do that to him. I came here on behalf of myself. One child cannot replace another, but Amelia is..." He couldn't help it but to smile bitterly, yet with a deep love. The emotion was so strong that it made Zelas frown in disgust. "Amelia is very stubborn. I can't make her stop waiting for me. I know she wants a child of her own, I want to be able to give her that without endangering her health or the child's chances at living a normal life."
Zelas laughed, "a normal life? You and your little friends are anything but normal. No child of yours or of any of them will know what an ordinary existence is."
"Fine," Zelgadis had to recognize that she had a point there. "A good life then. Even if it is only temporary, I want to be human again."
"Just enough to last out the honey moon, eh?" Zelas' statement made Zelgadis blush in embarrassment. "Such methods do exist, but they are only visual illusions. Your genetics would remain the same and thus your human appearance would have no effect on any descendants you might produce, or I should say, reproduce."
Zelgadis' face turned fully scarlet, the color was so strong it wasn't even the usual purplish blush of his blue skin. He felt like all his blood was currently residing in his face. "Then it's useless," he muttered uneasy.
"That look on your face, the emotions within you..." Zelas grinned, in a very Xellos-like fashion, or perhaps, as she existed first, it would be more accurate to say that Xellos' trademark expression is in a sense Zelas-like. "You have fully realized, beyond the sorrow that numbs your intellectual capabilities, that you are a fool. What did you hope to hear? Do you want me to call upon Rezo's spirit from the Sea of Chaos?"
"No," Zelgadis refused. "Rezo is resting in peace, let him. I understand that my condition was something Shabranigdu drove him to do, I have already forgiven him and I will not revisit those dark thoughts again. I do not wish to make him suffer, even after death, with the guilt of all this."
"You and him are very much alike, always carrying heavy burdens, made heavier by your own wants," Zelas commented in a matter of fact neutral tone.
"What do you mean?" Zelgadis inquired, musing that he might not like the answer. Yet Zelas sounded more so philosophical than mocking and it made him curious, even if he knew her tone could change drastically to suit her fancy.
"Rezo wanted to see and he went mad, you want a child and it's driving you to this," Zelas stated. "Without those desires you would be enjoying what you have instead of pining after what you don't have. Yet that is how all creatures are, always wanting more."
"Even you?" Zelgadis dared to half state and half ask.
Zelas smile in mild amusement and nodded. "Even me. Although, naturally, my desires are different from those you and your friends may have, I too want more, more power, more amusement, more chaos, more adventures, more..." She paused as if searching for the right word, a word that would encompass all the things she mentioned.
"More happiness?" Zelgadis offered.
Zelas considered the term. It felt ironic given the fact that she was a monster lord. "By my definition of it, yes. Albeit my happiness means sorrow and perhaps more so wrath for others. I suppose it is still happiness to me and that above all is what life is all about. Maybe that's the essence of motion, of evolution, of chaos," she mused aloud. "We always want and yet we never have enough so we carry the constant necessity to move forward and obtain, only to want more a second later. The never ending cycle of needs and wants that are impossible to satiate, we were made to remain in motion, all of us." After a silent pause, Zelas continued, readdressing the topic at hand. "There is another method, alchemy."
The method seemed too obvious, too simple to be the answer. Chimeras were created by a sort of alchemic process after all. Yet combining elements was far more difficult than tearing them apart. It was easier to say, let everything in this space be one, because 'everything in this space' was relatively easy to define. But to say, let the parts regain their original separate forms was near impossible. Who could say exactly what each part was? Who could accurately define them, point them out, set their boundaries? And if the union turned those parts into something else by being so closely exposed to each other, how could the process be reverted so that they could then be somehow separated? "What's the catch?" Zelgadis asked, distrusting.
"I can split you into three parts, as you were made from three parts... but I cannot guarantee what those three will be composed of," Zelas truthfully stated. "It is possible however, that one of those three pieces is closer to being human than the others. You would still be a chimera then, but your human side would be more dominant and that would reflect in your genetics. With some proper medicines and spells, I would think, it would be possible to make things work out."
"What's the catch?" Zelgadis repeated his question. Though Zelas was offering no guarantees, her proposed method still sounded too good to be true.
"All that I have spoken is true," and it was. But as always, it was also deceivingly phrased. "As for the true catch, that is up to you to determine. I have told you what I can offer you. Now tell me, what can you offer me?"
Zelgadis was caught off guard by the questions. He didn't expect Zelas to be so open. He was ready to try to look past a request full of trickery. He was prepared to hear her ask for too much, something too great, too precious. He was ready, or at least he thought it was ready, to refuse demands that he knew he would later regret. But this was no demand, yet, it was still a willing an offer. Yet he wasn't expecting this. He wasn't expecting her to ask him to suggest her payment, to make an offer. That was when with great pain of the truth hit him in the face like a ton of bricks, "nothing." He voiced barely above a whisper, "I have nothing."
"Nothing?" Zelas laughed. "What you have is nothing?"
Zelgadis shook his head and clarified, "I have nothing that I can think to offer you, nothing that I wouldn't mind parting with. What do you want from me?"
"You are rather useless," Zelas stated dismissively. "I was hoping you could give me an idea as to what to ask of you, but you truly are useless, even for that." She paused, taking in the taste of Zelgadis' anger, frustration and sadness. "How about espionage?"
"Espionage?" Zelgadis inquired. Why couldn't Zelas just send one of her monsters to spy on whoever she wanted to spy on? One would think that a monster, with free access to the astral side, would be a much more effective spy then a physical being. If it was a matter of the spy having a high possibility of being discovered for whatever reason, then it still wouldn't make sense to send him. Everyone knew about the connection that Lina and her friends had with Beast Master. If he was caught as a spy, they would immediately think of Zelas.
"Yes," Zelas elaborated. "It was something we attempted to do last year with Xellos, albeit there was interference during the split and Solex was the result of that. This time it will be different since you're not a monster, but I can still arrange it so that the other parts can communicate with me after I gift one of them to Dolphin and another to Dynast."
"I see; it's about the three pieces. I'll keep the one that's mostly human and you'll give the other two to Dolphin and Dynast as freakish gifts that they'll hopefully be curious enough to accept and you'll have spies in place. I suppose that wouldn't really have a negative effect on me." Zelgadis looked serious and suspicious. "It still feels too easy."
"That is only because your expectations are too high," Zelas carelessly stated with a touch of indifference. "Didn't I tell you that the results will not necessarily include a fully human body? I can decide where to put your soul, but what if this experiment yields three bodies almost exactly like the one you have? There is a possibility that the human side is dominant enough to make a difference, but there is also a possibility that the small extra percentage of human is so tiny that it doesn't do a thing. You'll be back to square one and I'll have no consolation price waiting for you. Moreover, the process cannot be continuously repeated, as your soul would not be able to take the strain. Perhaps another try in a few years would be safe enough, but the success rate would be just as uncertain as the first attempt."
"Furthermore, I am a monster lord, not an alchemist," Zelas continued, deciding uncharacteristically to drop the deception completely. "Fusion magic will be needed to ensure you don't die during the process, so a human alchemist wouldn't be able to do this. I'll have to do it myself, with some cooperation from a dragon. I have knowledge about alchemy, but I'm not a scholar in the subject. In fact, it might even be best to get three dragons and three monsters involved, then each of us can focus in preserving one of the three pieces and have a higher rate of success. Yet I don't think such eager participants will just waltz through the door any time soon, so I might have to do this on my own with a dragon."
"In other words, you'll be conducting a difficult experiment with uncertain results in an area that is not your expertise," Zelgadis summarized.
"Exactly," Zelas confirmed. Her piercing silver eyes and long pupils were searching his face just as intensely as her taste examined his emotions.
"But you'll try your best," Zelgadis continued. "You'll truly and honestly try your very best to make this work, because it's in your best interest. My death will not sit well with Amelia or with any of our friends. Lina will be angry and in her fit she'll be very difficult to use as a strategic piece, even for the most skilled of players. You'll do this as best you can because it is in your best interest."
"Yes," Zelas smiled, they had reached an understanding. He knew that the process was risky, but he also knew that for once, she would be trying to do things exactly as she revealed she would. The deception had been dropped. There was no need for it, because Zelgadis knew enough to be willing to face the truth. She didn't need to paint a pretty picture for him; he knew that would be asking for too much. "In the worse case scenario, you end up as a bigger freak who is also part monster, but I have no intentions of letting you die this early in the game. Is my word good enough for you?"
His throat was dry, his heart was pounding, his palms were sweaty and his whole body felt stiff. Finally, he pushed his voice to function speaking the unthinkable and wondering if this constituted as a broken promise. "It's good enough."
To be Continued
The explanation about the Roketto links Slayers: Chaos with the brief appearances in Slayers: Alive of Pokemon characters and explains how they got there in relation to Don't Give Me Diamonds (Pokemon), which all fits into the same continuity. This episode also has a reference to Galathia's story, which is further explained in the one-shot Minions (Atomic Betty).