Episode 028: Mutation! Half Cured And Half Worse
Episode 028: Mutation! Half Cured And Half Worse
"Everything is ready," Celo announced with a tone of reluctance in his voice that Zelgadis didn't like. If even Celo was hesitating, there had to be a very good reason.
"Good, let us begin then," Zelas' piercing eyes were on Zelgadis, who was still as a statue. The room was dimly lit with energy crystals round about. What could only be described as a giant jar, lay in the middle with fusion energy swirling within it.
Zelgadis swallowed the lump in his throat. He glanced at Phythan, who gave him a thumbs up. He expected no less from the optimistic and innocent golden dragon. Automatically putting one foot in front of the other, Zelgadis stepped in front of the large jar, which stood around ten feet tall. He levitated and positioned himself on the edge. He doubted and wondered if he really should jump in, then froze in place as a red monster parrot materialized.
"Lord Beast Master!" The red bird called in alarm.
"Yes," Zelas nodded calmly, though her eyes held a somewhat serious look that made Zelgadis wonder about the cause. "I can sense her, let her in."
"Here?" Iago, the red monster parrot, inquired in surprise.
"Yes," Zelas confirmed and once again, Iago was gone, off to deliver the message.
"Who is she?" Zelgadis inquired with a growing feeling of foreboding that increased just when he thought it couldn't get worse. It could, he reminded himself, it always could.
Zelas perched herself on the edge of the jar next to Zelgadis with a quick short range teleportation. "It is not your concern," and she pushed him in. Zelgadis yelped as he fell, but had no time to muster the focus needed for a levitation spell before he sunk into the swirls of magic within the large jar.
Moisture mysteriously clung to the atmosphere as a woman in a blue dress entered the chamber. "What are you plotting, Zelas?" Deep Sea Dolphin demanded to know. "I've had enough of your games, I know you're gathering chaotic energy and strange things have been happening. The last time you made such unusual use of your general priest, the world was nearly erased, as in not returned to chaos, but erased."
"I am aware of last year's happenings," Zelas stated calmly in spite of Dolphin's indignation. "I am also away of the fact you have been collecting chaotic energy."
"I have not!" Dolphin denied. "Some thing, I don't know who or what, has been stealing the chaotic energy that gathered at the bottom of the sea. I was merely trying to keep it where it was. The thing, the disturbance, rumors tell that it fought with the Knight of Ceifeed recently and afterwards Luna ran off to plot with the dragons. It's all too suspicious and now you are added to the list."
"This disturbance you speak of," it didn't sound like Dolphin knew what it was anymore than Zelas did. "It has nothing to do with me."
Dolphin crossed her arms and huffed. "If you're not behind it, then why not uncover the thing?"
"As a team you mean?" Zelas inquired though she already knew that Dolphin was indeed suggesting an alliance between them. "Very well."
"Fine," Dolphin agreed. She let her eyes wander to the large jar. "What's that? A secret weapon of yours?"
"Not exactly," albeit anything could be a weapon if properly used. "It's a pet project, would you like to participate?" Zelas offered.
No, Dolphin did not want to participate, but she couldn't very well ignore this suspicious invitation from Zelas. "Yes," she decided.
xoxox xox xoxox
The days went by and Zelgadis whereabouts were unheard of. After some time in Sairaag, Filia grew impatient and insisted that they should continue their journey one day after breakfast. "I agree," Amelia had voiced. "I don't know why Zelgadis hasn't written to me, but I fear that maybe it's because he can't. If we travel, we might hear something about him." She was worried, but also determined to find him, she shouldn't have let him go off on his own in the first place.
"Alright," Lina agreed. "We'll get ready to leave right away. Thanks for your hospitality, Sylphiel."
"You're welcome..." Sylphiel was too polite to sigh in relief at Lina's announcement as the redhead nearly ate her out of house and home.
"I'll stay here," Pokota decided.
Lina nodded, not questioning his reasons, though the way Sylphiel smiled shyly at the announcement spoke volumes. "Okay, see you around then." Thus the group was on the road again. Lina, Gourry, Xellos, Filia and Amelia, left the town of Sairaag with no set destination. Instead they would figure things out as they went along and hopefully find some clues about Zelgadis.
xoxox xox xoxox
Going from one town to another, Lina and her companions took the time to listen to the chatter in the streets and pay attention to the rumors. The grave vine told of the Knight of Ceifeed having gone off to meet with the higher ups of dragon society and Lina was curious about it, but didn't pursue any further information. Luna was just fine, exactly as she assumed, or so she thought. Another peculiar rumor in a random little town told of a strange creature in a lake. The definition of 'strange creature' was rather broad, but they decided to check it out anyway.
It was a calm and beautiful day with clear blue skies and a soft breeze blowing. "It's a picnic kind of day," Lina remarked as she observed the peaceful lake among grassy valleys. It was a very large lake, big enough to sail a ship in it.
Amelia sighed as she watched the majesty before her. She took off her boots, then levitated and flew on the lake's surface, dipping her toes in the water. "Um... Isn't there supposed to be some kind of strange creature in there?" Gourry pointed out to Lina, who was next to him, as Amelia was already several feet away.
Lina shrugged, "it looks pretty calm to me. Let's not forget that all the rumors we heard before this one were also duds."
"Duds?" Gourry asked in confusion.
"Fake," Lina clarified. "It looks like there's nothing here after all, but..." She observed how peaceful Amelia looked. The Seyruun princess could certainly use a break. "Let's rest here for a while before continuing on. In fact, let's spend the rest of the afternoon and evening here and camp out tonight. We can go fishing for dinner."
The word 'dinner' made Gourry's face light up. "Alright!" As he got ready to go fishing, he mentioned, "hey Lina, do you remember when we camped and went fishing for the first time? It was before we met Amelia, remember?"
"Yeah," Lina smiled at the fond memories, she had many of those with Gourry.
xoxox xox xoxox
While Amelia took some time to relax, and Lina and Gourry went fishing, Filia sat under a tree at the lake's side contemplating it. "What's on your mind?" Xellos curiously sat down beside her."
"A lot of things," surprisingly, she didn't snap. "I've been thinking about why I know healing magic, about why I would feel in a way a monster shouldn't, about..." She caught herself and stopped. "It's none of your business, raw garbage!"
"Monsters really are rude," Xellos mocked.
"They're supposed to be... I think," Filia sounded unsure.
"Wouldn't that make it too obvious?" Xellos suggested.
"I suppose," Filia thought about it for a moment. "I guess a more effective monster could be polite, but still infuriating, like it's obvious it's a farce but at the same time no one will really notice because the acting would be so good." She wasn't sure where that description came from. Had she heard it in a story at some point in time? "Of course, someone able to sense energy would still notice."
"You really are a strange monster." Filia wanted to hit Xellos for that, even if she had no choice but to agree with him. "I mean, shouldn't you be trying to make me lower my guard or something. Smile a lot and confuse people, something like that."
"No," Filia pouted. "Because you smile practically all the time and I'm nothing like you."
"I never accused you of that," Xellos pointed out calmly. Then he mused on it and said something that he knew would make Filia angry, yet the words left him anyway. "You are kind of dragon-like though; maybe not like me, but somehow dragon-like."
Filia gasped, shocked at the offense. Now she really wanted to hit Xellos, but she was too appalled to do so. Instead she inquired, "how am I dragon-like?"
"You fuss about other people's business when you're supposed to be indifferent," Xellos began to list off reasons. "You know how to heal and-"
"Watch out!" The next thing Xellos knew he was being tackled by Filia.
Fang had teleported suddenly and was ready to pounce on Xellos for his usual greeting of licking his face. He was in full monster fox form, prominent fangs sticking out of his mouth, covered in black fur with two large fox tails. Thinking that it was a game, Fang hopped on Filia.
"Uff!" Filia's breath was knocked out of her as her physical projection reacted to the sudden weight on her back. She lifted her head, her face inches away from Xellos and she blushed in an involuntary reaction as she stammered. "Please get off, Fang." A part of her wanted to fade into the astral side and another part wanted to stay exactly where she was. Fang got off Filia and sat down to wait for the monster and the dragon to get to their feet. Shifting awkwardly, Filia inquired. "Why were you attacking Xellos?" Worry sunk into her as she considered a possibility. "Did Lord Beast Master order you to kill him?"
Fang tilted his head to the side in curiosity then shook it. He stood on his hind legs, placed his front paws on Xellos' shoulders and licked his face. "Hey!" Xellos laughed. "For a monster, you sure are friendly. Oddballs, all of you!"
"I'll take that as a no," Filia concluded with relief. "Why are you here then?"
"Maybe he's just checking things out for Beast Master," Xellos guessed.
Fang released him from the puppy-like greeting and nodded, then he faded away back into the astral side. "I guess he went back to report," Filia concluded.
"Well, that was random," Xellos observed. "How kind of you to jump in my defense."
"That is... I wasn't..." Filia wasn't sure what kind of argument she was suppose to put up against that. There was simply no way she could deny something so obvious, so she resorted to simply shouting, "raw garbage!"
"Funny," Xellos chuckled mockingly. "Instead of an insult, I'm starting to take that as a term of endearment."
That was it, another mace wielding chase ensured. Yet not Lina, nor Gourry, nor Amelia tried to stop it. The odd monster and dragon pair were not fighting anymore, they reasoned. That was just their odd way of flirting.
xoxox xox xoxox
After a while, Lina and Gourry had caught some fish. Amelia was helping them cook them. "I'll see if I can get some more near the center of the lake, that's where the big ones should be," Lina announced. She took off her cape where she stored all sorts of things and left it in the shore. She also removed her boots so she could dip her feet into the lake water for a while. With her makeshift fishing rod in hand, consisting of a long string tied to a stick, Lina levitated off to the center of the lake.
Lina soon became impatient as the fish weren't biting and resolved to stir the waters a little to get their attention. However, she over did it and a whirlpool of water soon formed in the center of the lake. "Oops!" It wasn't strong enough to pull her in, but it was enough to tangle the fishing rod's string on something. Lina felt a strong pull and ended up under water. She gave her levitation spell more strength and surfaced. "Amelia! Levitate over here and give me a hand!"
"I'm coming!" Amelia hurried towards Lina and grabbed hold of the stick.
The thin wood broke, but Lina quickly grabbed hold of the string. "No you don't! That might have been just a regular stick, but this string is enchanted to be extra strong!" It was used to fish for sea dragons, but she decided that she didn't need to say that aloud, least it reached inappropriate ears. She couldn't picture Xellos making a fuss of dragon cuisine even if he was a dragon now. But if Filia heard and remembered it when she recovered her original species, she might have a thing or two to say.
"In the name of justice, you won't get away from us!" Amelia valiantly declared; this was apparently a very big and strong fish. Suddenly, the unknown fish pulled them half underwater, where the abundant bubbles that formed with the struggle clouded their vision. Only their legs were still above the water.
Gourry wanted to help, but he couldn't levitate and swimming over might not be very useful. But wait, didn't Lina keep all sorts of useful items in her cape? Maybe she had some rope. He rummaged through her belongings, hoping that Lina would forgive him since it was for a good reason. Among Lina's things, he found a cat plush toy. It was a white cat with a red bow on her ear and blue overalls. He remembered having given that cat plush to Lina over a year ago. With no time to think about it too much now, he quickly found the item he was looking for, a rope.
While Filia chased Xellos round about the large lake, swinging her mace at him almost playfully, Gourry made a lasso with the rope and threw it at Lina's foot that was still visible above the water. He pulled with all his might, with the levitating Lina and Amelia pulling as well once they surfaced.
Shards of ice suddenly flew from under the water, as if someone casted a Freeze Arrow aimed at the two floating women. "What kind of fish can use magic?" Amelia gasped.
"I don't know, but I hope it's the tasty kind!" Lina exclaimed. They kept on pulling and defending themselves with Flare Arrows, until they reached the shore.
Amelia and Lina, touched down on dry land and Gourry let go of the rope, instead grabbing hold of the enchanted string along with them. Xellos and Filia noticed there was some sort of commotion going on and curiously approached, just in time to see the others pull a creature out of the lake, the string tangled around its tail.
The strange creature had light blue fish scales with bits of stone in a few places, at least from the waist down. The most shocking part was that from the waist up he looked like a human man with lavender hair and a very familiar face. "Zelgadis!" Amelia exclaimed upon seeing him and threw herself into his arms. "I was so worried about you!"
Zelgadis blushed brightly. "Who... who are you? And what did you call me just now?"
Amelia looked into his eyes. "It's me, Amelia, your fiance! Your name is Zelgadis, don't you remember?"
Zelgadis looked shocked, "I'm Zelgadis... and I have a fiance?"
"Um... Lina," Gourry whispered to her discretely. "I don't think we should eat this one." Lina only elbowed him in response.
"That's right," Amelia looked him over once more. Half of him was human with soft skin and hair, but his fish tail was rock hard. "What in the world happened to you, Zel?"
"I'm not sure," Zelgadis admitted. "I only remember waking up in the sea. Deep Sea Dolphin was there, she said I was an accursed human that would be her pet. Then something odd happened. There was some kind of energy accumulated at the bottom of the sea. It was strange, like purely chaotic energy. A sort of force as if from another world was calling the energy away, stealing it. When Dolphin was focused on preventing that, I took the opportunity to escape. I reached dry land and moved with levitation, staying away from any settlements. I couldn't be seen like this... I finally stopped here to rest in this lake."
At least they could conclude that he was able to breath in the water and out of it. "You really have lost your memories, but it's you, it's really you." Amelia hugged him again.
"Please... stop..." Zelgadis muttered almost inaudibly.
"Oh, sorry, it must be strange for you to have me hugging you even if you don't even remember me," Amelia apologized.
Zelgadis shook his head. "I... you..." He looked at the young woman's face, trying to find a sense of recognition, but there was nothing. "Why would you still want to be with me? Even if I was your fiance before," he blushed at the thought. "Look at me now."
Zelgadis was supposed to be going to see Zelas, so Amelia wasn't sure how Dolphin ended up getting involved, but when it came to the monster lords, things could get complicated and unpredictable. "It's okay, I'm just happy to have you back alive. You'll come with us, right?"
Zelgadis considered it for a moment and finally replied, "no."
"Why not?" Amelia questioned. "Don't you believe me?"
He examined her honest face again and assured, "I do believe you, that's why I can't go with you. If you really were my fiance-"
"Are," Amelia corrected.
"Right..." Zelgadis continued, "if you were, and more so if you still are, my fiance, then I can't do this to you. I can't remember, but I do get a good feeling from you. I can't put you in danger. Dolphin was distracted by the chaotic energy being stolen, but she might still come after me. If you're with me, you'll be in danger."
"It's okay, I'm not afraid of facing peril!" Amelia declared with endless courage. "No matter what, justice will always triumph!"
"Amelia..." Zelgadis wondered if she was always this stubborn. He wondered about what kind of adventures they got into before he was 'cursed'.
"You're not going to change my mind," Amelia insisted with a reassuring smile.
Zelgadis let out a breath a nodded. "I guess I have no choice but to agree. I get the feeling that you won't let me get away even if I try to leave for your own good."
"That's right," Amelia ascertained.
"I guess this means some re-introductions are in order," Lina began. "I'm the beautiful sorceress Lina Inverse, the leader of this band of travelers."
"I'm Gourry, I'm a swordsman," the blond added simply.
"Xellos, golden dragon," Xellos grinned in amusement.
"I am Filia, the general priestess of Lord Beast Master," Filia finished.
To be Continued
Iago is from Aladdin. Lina's cat plush is Hello Kitty.