Episode 031: Combined! To Be As One
Episode 031: Combined! To Be As One
Amelia walked inside Zelas' palace following the torches of blue lights that lit up down the elegant hallways, arm in arm with the two Zelgadis'. She entered the throne room, the large heavy doors opening for them by themselves. A heavy aura floated around the throne where Zelas sat on the royal chair with Celo and Vrumugun standing left and right of her. This was the original Vrumugun, who had been present at Zangulus and Martina's wedding and remained with them to rebuild Zoana afterwards. He was usually at Zoana, but had journeyed to Wolf Pack Island at Zelas' summoning, as he was told she had a job for him to perform that would require the knowledge he had gained from working with Eris years prior.
Amelia tried not to show her surprise at finding Vrumugun there, it shouldn't be surprising given his connections with Zoana. She let go of the two Zelgadis and stepped forward towards the monster lord. The merman levitated attentively and the beast was strangely calm. "Lord Beast Master," Amelia spoke bravely and daringly, yet with diplomatic respect. "I, Amelia Will Tesla Seyruun, humbly ask you to return Zelgadis' mind to normal and if possible, cleanse him as much as you can of his chimera condition, as I know that is his wish."
"Very well," Zelas agreed easily, which left Amelia dumbstruck. "Believe it or not this result was not intentional. I thought that having Dolphin assist me would make things easier, but tearing a chimera apart is still quite difficult. Magic and its branch of alchemy requires understanding. Talismans, spells and rituals can be used to bypass such an understanding to an extent and the same can be said for raw power. However, it is only a cheap shortcut in the end and when the intended result is particularly complex, the process might not give the wanted outcome. We're reaching into the darkness, trying to grab something that we know as a whole concept, but we know not what its components may be."
Zelas continued thoughtfully. "If there was a way to record accurate knowledge of every tiny piece that composes the body, down to a level that is so small that the naked eye of a human cannot perceive it, perhaps separating a chimera into its original components wouldn't be such a hassle. It is the use of magical shortcuts to make up for that lack of super advanced understanding that involves the subject's mind and causes side effects, such as this, with the extra energy needed to compensate the process."
"Oh..." Amelia quietly voiced. "Then you really had no ill will towards Zelgadis, this outcome was an accident? Separating a chimera, knowing how the body works down to the last detail... Not even the best alchemists and physicians of our time have that kind of knowledge; it remains as if yet to be discovered. The monsters have no physical bodies, so they would have little reasons or means to do research of their own. This knowledge, the knowledge needed to conduct this alchemic process without those shortcuts, it hasn't been developed yet." Even so, after hearing such an explanation, Amelia was filled with hope. "But it could be," she asserted. "Decades ago the use of herbs to heal was something that was still being developed. What we know as the present day medicine was a far away dream back then. Maybe some day we'll advance enough to understand the workings of the body down to the last detail. We'll know why blood flows and all the twists and turns air takes within our bodies every time we breathe."
"Yet it will take a long time. It may be something I will see but you won't." Zelas pointed out, glad to communicate the pessimistic news.
"Yes," Amelia admitted with a frown. "We'll just have to make due with what we have for the time being. Parting the pieces of a chimera is hard because all the elements that make up a living being are jumbled together and difficult to identify, but putting the pieces together without having to worry about the small elements, simply uniting everything, isn't so hard, right?"
"It's like mixing sand and water," Zelas compared. "Anyone can make a muddy mess, but it would take a lot to separate the sand from the water all over again. Zelgadis can be made the way he was. In fact, my power isn't even needed for the union, thus a gentler approach by Celo and Vrumugun would be preferable. Not that my or Dolphin's power was directly involved. There is no monster energy in Zelgadis, the pieces took on those forms because some of the talismans incrusted into the jar functioned strangely and took to interpreting Dolphin and I as we would be if we were physical beings. Then somehow, they rewrote Zelgadis' into that. Albeit that rewrite; it is far too unstable to experiment with and very likely a direct attempt would be too harsh. Another separation attempt is out of the question, Zelgadis composition is frailer than I had initially thought and we wouldn't want his soul to be damaged. It would be similar to a monster's demise then, being ruined in a sense."
"Of course, we must be careful..." Amelia nodded with concern, trying not to show she was bothered by Zelas' uncaring and nonchalant tone as she spoke of Zelgadis. None the less, even if Zelas didn't seem to care, she was showing caution about Zelgadis life.
The detail was something that the more aware Zelgadis, the merman, noticed and inquired about, unable to hold back his question. "Why would you care if I live or die?" He boldly asked.
Zelas grinned, "I have my reasons, I always do. Right now it is in my best interest to keep you alive. Shall I fix this failed attempt at your cure? Do not forget, I haven't truly lied to you. The remnant memories that you left behind in the jar will attest to the fact that I warned you."
There was a silent pause while Zelgadis mulled over his options. He didn't want to stay as a merman, but he didn't want to be a bigger freak. Finally, Amelia answered for him. "Those memories you speak of, they can't be contain intact for long, can they?"
"No, even with a top quality container, they will eventually deteriorate as it occurred to Rezo's memories during his time in a similar jar, albeit at least his soul was basically whole, while Zelgadis' mind is split. We must put him together swiftly," Zelas declared.
Amelia nodded sad and worried. "What if I hadn't come here? What if...?" She didn't know how to phrase her feelings and she knew it would be useless to try to explain them to a monster lord. The loss of a life made her realize just how fragile and precious life was.
"I would have sent for you." Zelas assured and when Amelia looked into her piercing eyes, she knew it to be true.
"Miss Zelas," Amelia's eyes shone with innocent hope again. "Could it be that you really are trying to be good?"
"No," Zelas immediately denied the ridiculous notion. "I have dealt with relative kindness towards Zelgadis, or as kindly as a monster lord can. Return the favor; cause your friends to join you if you need their assistance. I know you are the right person to whom to entrust this request. If Xellos is ever in dire need of assistance, provide him with it."
The silver of Zelas' piercing and cunning gaze was reflected in Amelia's big blue eyes. The monster lord knew something. She knew of something perilous and was preparing for it. "Miss Zelas...?"
"Is my request unacceptable to you?" Anyone would be a suicidal idiot to refuse the occasion of a rare mercy from Beast Master and a seemingly generous mercy apparently.
"I will return the favor." Amelia finally agreed, even though she didn't exactly know what she was agreeing to and wanted to be cautious about that. "What I am promising to do," she carefully specified. "Is to offer the support of a friend should it be needed, by my own standards of what such a promise would justly represent."
"Splendid," sarcasm and truth had never mixed so well before as when the time when Beast Master spoke that word. Why such support was important to Zelas and what she was trying to prepare for, Amelia didn't know. As for Zelas, after she had stopped focusing on the possibility of Dolphin as her would-be enemy, she teamed up with her and soon after with Dynast and they put their minds and resources together to figure out what was going on.
Though the situation was still unclear, one thing was for sure, the attack was set to go off soon and they were helpless against the massive power that loomed in the shadows. The dragons couldn't have come up with such a power out of nowhere, so Zelas reasoned that there were several likely explanations. Either they broke a few dozen rules of the principals of their society and struck a deal, or most likely, they were tricked into cooperating, perhaps even threatened. Beast Master would fall, they would all fall. Right now, all she could do was to survive and come back from behind. Her monsters were not her only resources; she had Xellos' pet dragon, Lina Inverse and her friends. They were not willing allies, but they would suffice. Amelia would give them a push with her innocent mercy and hope if need be.
"Shall we begin?" Celo smiled in a very similar way to Xellos, they were related after all. "Let us go over to the laboratory. I believe you've met Mr. Vrumugun before? He and I will be overseeing this process."
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, in the surface of Wolf Pack Island, "Xellos!" Filia called out as she saw a pack of wolves grouped together over their apparent pray, whose tail, the only visible part of him beyond the wolves, was being chewed on by a cub. "Don't hurt him!" She was about to attack the wolves to save Xellos, hoping he was still alive and thinking he was an idiot for not transforming to escape, when she heard laughter. "Xellos?"
"Ha ha ha, okay, okay, get off, he he he, you got me, quit it, ha ha ha!" The wolves finally moved aside with the cubs playing with Xellos' tail and the larger wolves laying next to him. He finally had the chance to sit up on the ground and other than some wolf spit from being licked affectionately, that he wiped off with his cloak, he was unharmed. His clothes were a bit dirty from being on the ground and his staff had been turned into a chew toy, but he had no real injuries. Noticing Filia standing there with her mouth agape, he waved her over.
As if in a trance, Filia approached Xellos and sat next to him. A wolf soon occupied her lap, just as they were doing with Xellos, wanting to be petted. "They like you?" Filia had no choice but to admit her stunned realization.
"So it would seem," Xellos agreed with a grin. "I'm not too surprised though, you like me too."
"What?" Filia stammered and blushed, why wasn't her astral form doing what she told it to do? "I don't like you." Were her feelings truly so strong that she couldn't hide them?
"Really?" Xellos opened one eye in a strange sort of wink.
Filia pouted, blushing still and looked away. "Maybe just a little bit," she conceded. "I've realized that the world's a big an interesting place, humans are intense and capable creatures even if they are not often given much credit by non-humans. I've also concluded that not all dragons are repulsive." She had awakened to the world and no longer locked herself in a set mind frame. "That doesn't mean I like you a lot," she defended, though she knew she was lying. "I only like you a little bit, in a purely platonic way."
"Platonic?" Xellos questioned curious and teasing. "How is it platonic if I'm sitting here right next to you?"
"It's forbidden," Filia tried to explain, but her excuse felt weak.
"Don't monsters break the rules?" Xellos reminded. "Besides, I don't see you falling over in pain. It doesn't seem that your liking for me is having much of an adverse effect on you."
"I suppose there are exceptions and I am a powerful monster. Maybe I've just reached a higher evolution or something," Filia mused. She didn't care much about the explanation, which may or may not be in her missing memories. She had not thought about her missing memories much lately. All that she could focus on was the present and the glaringly obvious fact that she enjoyed Xellos' company and that maybe, in his own way, he enjoyed her company too.
"Isn't that the reason for the rules though?" Xellos pointed out.
"Maybe... in my case anyway." She brought up another point. "What about you? You're a golden dragon and you don't seem to have much of an acknowledgement of rules. What if your elder is disappointed in you?"
Xellos shrugged, "I get the impression that Milgazia is pretty lax under his diplomatic surface. I don't think he'll do anything too extreme. He'll give me a speech about being careful with monsters maybe, but I'm sure he'll respect my choices after the lecture."
"I see," Filia blushed as she considered that perhaps there was nothing to stand in their way should they choose to pursue a relationship after all.
Then Xellos brought up a very important point. "All that's left is Beast Master."
"Oh," Filia frowned. "She'll be angry at me if I show any favor to a dragon."
"Have you asked her?" Xellos inquired, guessing correctly that the answer would be a negative one.
"Of course not!" Filia exclaimed. "Why would I ask her such a thing? It's not like I, the dragon slayer," her voice failed her for a moment, why did that name sound so wrong to her all of a sudden? "Was expecting this..."
"But you haven't slain any dragons recently," Xellos pointed out.
"I almost slew you," Filia laughed bitterly. She didn't want to think about missing all of this if she had. Her feelings, the feelings that she shouldn't even have as a monster, were so confusing, yet so intense, so precious. They were complicated and sometimes painful, but they made her feel so alive. "I'm glad I didn't," she admitted. "Could you overlook my actions from the War of the Monsters Fall?"
"I can, especially given the fact that I didn't even exist back then." Xellos' reply was inaccurate, but to the best of his knowledge he was a golden dragon who had just barely entered the first stage of young adulthood, so he must be over five hundred, but not yet a thousand years old.
"What about my future missions? Beast Master might order me to do things you don't like." It was strange, but Filia felt a heavy sense of deja vu. It made no sense, yet she strongly felt that she had this conversation before, except the roles were reversed.
"I can understand that." How odd, the sense of deja vu that Xellos felt kept growing in intensity by the second. Yet at the same time, this was different, it was someone else in his shoes, like a reversal of roles. Filia sighed, frowning suddenly. "What's wrong now, stupid monster?"
"I don't think I'll get Beast Master's permission, raw garbage," Filia grimaced. "I can't sneak around behind her back, she notices everything. What explanation will I give her then? If she orders me to cut communications with you, I must obey. If I don't she might even order me to kill you."
"I don't think having an unhappy minion is good for any monster lord," Xellos stated. "Lesser monsters switch sides sometimes. The turn over is pretty bad, they go back and forth aiding what causes they think suits them best. They go to Beast Master for some action where they get to strategize and train. They go to Dynast for some rest where the humans are manipulated into wars and do most of the work themselves. They go to Dolphin for some middle ground between the two others. As long as they don't do anything too traitorous, deserters are received because it would be terribly inconvenient to refuse them and wasteful to exterminate them if their crime was not too significant. Plus they are serving the monster race as a whole anyway. The higher positions that command more power, like you, are expected to be loyal of course."
Xellos continued, "Beast Master has invested in many forces, not only the forces of darkness; she has a varied and versatile army, even though the forces of darkness are still the main part of it, naturally. Some may not like it, but the benefits outweigh the complaints of the doubtful. A few monsters may come and go in the lower ranks, but in the grander scheme of things, for the most part they are not a threat when they leave and may be somewhat useful, if only a little, when they return, so it's okay to be a tad lenient in such cases. As for you, I don't think Beast Master wants a general priestess that's miserable and listens to her only out of fear. The stress and the self doubt would be bad for you. It would diminish your power, make you less effective and ultimately be bad for Zelas too. A monster's identity, their sense of self, is the most precious thing they have, without it, a monster would vanish. Any creature, astral or physical, that has a sense of self has likes and dislikes, goals and desires; I think Beast Master understands that. I think that if you prove it won't interfere with your work, she can allow you certain indulgences as long as you wisely practice moderation."
Filia was in shock. What Xellos said made sense, she knew he could be rather insightful and it was one of the qualities she liked about him when he wasn't being too much of a smart-aleck about it. Even so, this was too much. "How do you know all that?"
It wasn't doubt that she was expressing, Xellos realized. Filia was simply surprised by his assessment of Zelas. It was as if he knew her much better than she and somehow he felt like he did, even if that would make no sense. He grinned and replied, "that is a secret." As Filia's face started to be overtaken by exasperation, he elaborated. "It is part of the secret that I would like to solve. I feel that I know Beast Master even if I shouldn't. I want to see her, I want to hear what she will say to me, I want to know why she seemed so familiar during our short meeting that time at Sairaag."
"It's like your closer to her than I am," Filia mused. "It's like she's your mother instead of mine... But how would monsters interpret such concepts anyway? Minion and master, it's different from child and parent, yet there is something there, something unique." She looked at Xellos' face and he momentarily opened both eyes. "We're a strange pair, aren't we? I feel that I know more about dragons than you and you obviously know more about monsters than me. How could that be?"
"Perhaps Beast Master holds the answer to that," Xellos suggested and closed his eyes again. "As soon as possible, when Zelas is done with her audience with Amelia and Zelgadis, I want to see her."
Filia nodded, accepting the plan, "I'll take you to her, we'll speak to her together." Filia's worries evaporated. Xellos was a dragon, but he was special. If he was there with her, everything would work out somehow.
To be Continued
Foreboding and fluff all in one chapter. XD