Episode 039: Traitor! Never Give Up, Never Surrender
Episode 039: Traitor! Never Give Up, Never Surrender
"Traitorous?" Filia questioned Erosnum. She understood if he was angry at all those from the dragon race who participated in the summoning of the monster lords by donating their energy to the cause. They were trying to do what they thought was best for the world and years ago, before the Darkstar prophecy, Filia would have been standing beside them doing the very same thing. But why was Erosnum apparently angry at Topaz specifically? What made him different from the other dragons?
"The fool was tricked you see," Erosnum revealed. "He wanted to sacrifice the over-world and live peacefully in our world. Of course, this world will become the target of Darkstar once the over-world is finished."
Filia gasped, "you were aware of that? You knew the over-world was to be sacrificed and you allowed it?" Her anger towards Topaz rose. Being tricked was certainly not the same as sacrificing innocent people. "What about the others?"
"The dragon council you mean?" Erosnum interjected, even if Filia's question had been directed at Topaz, who seemed to be too afraid to speak anyway. "Ignorant fools, the lot of them. They had no idea what would happened to the over-world. They honestly thought Luna had managed to establish communications with Vorfeed, who intended to repay this world for defeating Darkstar during the prophecy by getting rid of the monster lords."
Filia let out a breath she didn't even realize she was holding. "Then their intentions were not bad."
"What does it matter?" Erosnum huffed. "The result was the same anyway.
"Of course it matters!" Filia argued. "I wouldn't want to think that the dragon council would actually sacrifice the over-world. I thought they had learned from past mistakes and were doing better now. They were tricked, but being tricked is very different from being selfish enough to sacrifice a whole different world."
"Even if that's what the dwellers of the over-world wanted for us," Erosnum reminded.
Filia frowned, "maybe not all of them. We only encountered a small group during the prophecy after all," she reasoned.
"Either way, it makes no difference to me. I will end this useless banter now," Erosnum decided. "I did not come here to speak with you. If you'll excuse me, I have an execution to carry out."
"Wait!" As angry as she was at Topaz, Filia managed to hold on to her use of reason and her mercy. She gave up on explaining mercy to Erosnum and went straight for the logical uses of keeping Topaz alive. "Shouldn't we interrogate him?"
Erosnum chuckled mockingly. "We? You speak as if we were on the same side."
"Well..." Filia shook her head and tried to guide the argument back into the main topic. She was with Xellos, but more often than not, she didn't like the way Zelas did things. She was in-between in a sense not fully allied to the light or darkness, she was looking for a balance, but that would take too long to try to explain. Furthermore, Erosnum wouldn't understand if he was unwilling to do so. "Never mind that, if Topaz is interrogated, useful information can be gained. Besides, he is not to be solely blamed for what happened to Lord Beast Master." She spoke carefully concerning the topic of the monster lord, addressing her in a respectful tone so as to not anger Erosnum.
The monster accountant laughed. "You still don't get it, do you? This isn't about Topaz at all; it is about you, my messenger."
Filia's eyes went wide with alarm and confusion. "Me?" What could Erosnum want with her? "What do you mean by messenger?"
"It is merely convenient that Topaz is here, I never liked the fool," Erosnum admitted. "However, a random person from this city would suffice; Seyruun and its inconvenient shape cannot stop a monster of my rank after all. To put it simply, my messenger, I wanted to rattle you before I sent you on your way."
"What?" Filia gripped her mace with both hands and held it in front of her in a defensive position. "What do you intend to do? Xellos... Does he know you're here?"
"He doesn't, but you'll tell him, won't you?" Erosnum grinned evilly, then faded away. Filia could feel him moving in close proximity through the astral side and shot her laser breath at him. Yet the monster moved too fast and dodged it, reappearing behind her and lifting Topaz by the throat.
Filia couldn't risk hitting Topaz with her laser breath point blank. "Let him go!"
"Sure," Topaz didn't have the strength to scream in pain, especially with Erosnum gripping his throat ever tighter. The monster's grip closed with inhuman strength as Filia desperately dashed towards them. But there was nothing she could do. The sickening sound of a broken bone rung in her ears as Erosnum gripped Topaz's neck so tightly that it broke. Filia froze as Erosnum, dropped Topaz's limp body to the ground. His head was twisted grotesquely at in impossible angle, attached to the body only by the skin. "There, I let him go." He mocked Filia's distraught form as the golden dragon fell to her knees in horror.
"You..." Filia sobbed, "you're terrible..."
"Listen to me, little dragon," Erosnum's expression was the image of cruel evil. "I was tired of Beast Master's playful ways. I was sick of how she toyed with the world instead of destroying it. She might have been amused by it, but I wasn't. I'm glad that Darkstar will finally destroy the world. I can't wait for it to happen. I am little more than an observer in the grander scheme of things, so I've decided to have a little fun while I can. I won't kill you; I wouldn't want Xellos to come after me. Even if he's in a hurry to leave, he'll hunt me down to avenge you. But if I spare you, he'll delegate the task of my punishment to someone else, I'm sure." Erosnum knew he couldn't handle Xellos in a fight, or manage to hide from him for too long. But he was confident he could avoid any others."
"I know how everything works, Xellos will take you, Lina and her little friends and run off to save Beast Master only to find that she has already been destroyed by Darkstar; then they'll be destroyed as well. I'm still an observer though, but I can at least pledge my alliance to the stronger side and be proud of my rebellion even if it doesn't change anything in reality. Run, little dragon, allow me to get back at Zelas for the disappointment, even if it is just a little. Run and tell your monster lover about all I've said and done here." With those final instructions that he knew Filia would inevitably follow, Erosnum disappeared.
For a long moment, Filia could only shake and sob uncontrollably. At least the whole dreadful event wasn't too loud or destructive of the surrounding area. She didn't want to cause more unease to the people of Seyruun. Shaking in fear and frustration, Filia dashed out of the alley and towards her home. "Everyone!" She shouted, "go to the castle, now!"
Jillas came rushing over, alarmed, "boss, what's happening?"
"I'll explain soon," Filia urged, "wake the kids and go, hurry!" She would leave her family in the safety of the castle with guards and mages at the ready. She would tell Amelia about what happened and the princess would send guards to have Topaz's body removed from the alley before an unsuspecting civilian found it. Filia would ask Amelia to send word to Milgazia about Topaz and very swiftly, she would go to Wolf Pack Island. She would summon Jarde, have him get Fang and she would teleport there. She had to tell Xellos about what happened. She didn't understand why Erosnum actually wanted her to tell him, but she had to tell him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, at Dragon's Peak, Milgazia had gone to oversee a few things concerning his clan. He was about to leave to meet with Lina and was already in Dragon form, ready to speedily fly to Seyruun. However, another golden dragon older than him approached and landed near by. "Lord Milgazia!"
"Senator Ilumina," Milgazia acknowledged him.
"Has word reached you about what happened with the Knight of Ceifeed? About the tragedy?" Orion Ilumina inquired urgently. His scales were of a paler gold than Milgazia, hinting at his golden and white dragon mixed heritage, though he was mostly golden dragon.
"Yes," Milgazia confirmed. That was the reason why he rushed back to his clan, postponing his intentions to meet with Lina and her allies.
"The way you refused to cooperate, how could you have known that it would end in disaster?" Mr. Ilumina held a hint of reproach in his voice. He too had given up his energy for what he thought was a noble cause.
"I didn't really know, I just felt uneasy about the whole thing, but no one would have listened to me anyway." Milgazia pointed out truthfully. Though protocol demanded that he paid attention to the senator, he was in a bit of a hurry and wanted to keep their conversation short.
"I suppose you're right," Orion accepted. He never liked monsters and especially hated them after his daughter, Celestina, was killed by Fibrizo. Though she somehow returned after his defeat, she distanced herself from everyone and Orion knew that wasn't Celestina, but rather, someone taking on her form. It was a mystery that Lina and her companions had solved last year when they discovered that the false Celestina was just another of the many disguises of the Lord of Nightmares. "You were inside the monster barrier for so long and sometimes your ways seem radical to the more traditional dragons of the outer continents. However, your instinct, though hard to understand at times, has not failed yet. That is why I wish to ask for your opinion on the matter of Luna."
"Her body is being kept in suspended animation until we are certain that she is herself, isn't it?" Milgazia inquired, that was how things were the last he heard of her. "Has she sown any hint of a flow of energy within her?"
"No, her body is empty of a soul it seems. It is alive as in with a beating heart, but there is nothing to animate it," Mr. Ilumina confirmed. "The council is discussing what to do with it. Some say that the Knight of Ceifeed has fallen, that she is in truth inevitably dead, and keeping an empty vessel alive like that will only provide the remnants of the monster race with the opportunity to possess her body and find a way to use it against us. They want to destroy the body."
"They cant!" Milgazia argued. "The fact that her body is still alive could mean that her soul was only removed. It wouldn't be the first time a soul is moved away from its original body. What if Luna's soul is being contained somewhere? If it is found, then it can be restored to her body. Darkstar will eventually come here and the dragon race barely has any energy left to stand. We need the Knight of Ceifeed as our ally."
Orion nodded, deciding to accept what Milgazia thought was best. "The council is frightened though. A meeting will take place soon. Even if you, me, and a few others vote in favor of preserving Luna's body, it is likely that we will be outvoted. We'll have to prove that the possibility of Luna's recovery is real, but I can't think of how to accomplish that."
Milgazia held a look of determination. He couldn't let the dragons make any more mistakes, even if they were well intended. "We'll just have to protect her then."
Mr. Ilumina continued sharing his worries. "What if we can't find Luna's soul, or if it really has been destroyed? Perhaps the monsters allied to Beast Master, Dolphin and Dynast will be bitter towards Darkstar because of the death of their leader at his hand to absorb their power, but the monsters formerly under the command of Fibrizo and Gaav may join him. In fact, the more cowardly monsters formerly allied to Zelas, Dolphin and Dynast might join him too. I imagine they must be rattled by the lost of their leaders, but it's only a matter of time before they realize the dragons are sitting ducks and go on the attack. What Darkstar wants is what the monster race as a whole wants, isn't it?"
"For some of them yes, maybe even for most," Milgazia agreed. "But not all of them though. My understanding is that Zelas wanted ongoing battles rather than total destruction. I'm not certain where Dolphin and Dynast stood on the matter, but Zelas might have influence them into adopting her views, or was trying to. Some of the monsters might be out to get revenge on Darkstar if given the opportunity. However, I don't think they would ally with us, they will likely fight alone, joining forces only with other monsters."
Orion gasped in shock. "Not that we would ally with monsters anyway, right?"
"That's how it was during the Darkstar prophecy," Milgazia reminded.
"What do you mean?" The perplexed senator inquired.
"Filia and Xellos, along with Amelia, Zelgadis and Gourry fought alongside Lina Inverse that time and their fusion magic was vital," Milgazia explained. "However, even for a common goal, neither the monsters nor the dragons as a whole will form an alliance, unless someone ordered groups to do so, but even if by some miracle we sway the council in such a way, there is no one to give the order to the monsters with the lords gone. They wouldn't take that kind of order from anyone else, it would be too much."
"So forming an alliance with the monsters against Darkstar checks out." Though it meant fewer resources in the long run, less ways to fight back, Orion was actually relieved that he didn't have to think about dealing with that. "What can we do then?"
Milgazia paused for a long moment until finally he spoke words that didn't exactly reassure Mr. Ilumina. "We will consult Lina Inverse."
"It makes me think about how resourceful humans really are. So short lived, so fragile, and yet they manage to shine brighter in less than a century than any other race would in many millennia. Lina this, Lina that, that human woman is everyone's wild card these days," Orion frowned.
"I can only hope she doesn't mind too much." Milgazia's tone made it clear that the discussion was over because of the more urgent mattered that needed to be attended. "Now, let us go free Luna."
"What?" Orion gasped. "You're not serious, are you?"
"If the council rules her case as hopeless, they will destroy her and Lina would be most displeased when she finds out," Milgazia argued. "The council is afraid and also many may argue about preventing further dishonor from happening upon the vessel of the Knight of Ceifeed if she is again overtaken by a spirit not her own. But I don't think we should give up on her just yet." Of course, Milgazia didn't really expect senator Ilumina to join him in this risky venture. "Go cast your vote and insist upon delivering your most eloquent speech in favor of preserving Luna. If we lose the votes, I will be at the ready to transport her to a safe location."
"But! That's!" Orion stumbled over his words, not even sure how to present his argument. "You'll be regarded as a criminal! I mean, if it works out, you'll certainly be forgiven and you'll even be a hero in the council's eyes. But what if it doesn't? The council cannot keep overlooking the radical things you do!"
"I'm not asking you to take any risks," Milgazia insisted. "This conversation never happened."
"I can understand and appreciate that much," Mr. Ilumina quieted slightly. "But..."
"Speak, express your concerns, the council will respect your right to do so. Leave the rest to me," Milgazia further reassured him.
"The place where Luna is kept isn't even close to the main meeting room of the dragon council," Orion emphasized. "You won't have time to fly there and break in before reinforcements arrive to stop you."
"I'll have plenty of time if I don't attend the voting." Luna's rescue was too risky to leave it in someone else's hands, so Milgazia intended to go personally. "The council won't accept my vote being delivered by someone else, but in the unlikely possibility that my vote makes the difference in saving Luna, I will send a representative to insist upon my right to cast it and you can provide backup in that. I'll rush back and vote in that situation. If not, as soon as I know we've lost, I'll commence the rescue mission. By the time the council gets there to share their verdict, I'll be gone."
Orion dared not argue with the risky plan as Milgazia seemed very determined. "I understand; I will try my best to convince the council to preserve Luna in hopes that the situation doesn't reach the need for such extreme measures."
"I would be most grateful for your efforts," Milgazia sincerely voiced. He looked towards the shadow that slightly peeked out from behind the corner of his mountain home where he knew Phythan was hiding. "Phythan, come here."
With a small squeak of surprise, Phythan stepped out of his hiding place in elf form. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop or anything!" He quickly excused himself, which only sounded self accusing. "I was just... um... concerned, yes, I am concerned! Memphis has gone back home to help protect and reassure the elves and Onyx went with her. If you go, who will keep an eye on things here?"
"My clan is capable of functioning without me for a while," Milgazia assured. He had managed to convince the majority of them not to give up their energy, thus making them the strongest dragon clan in the current situation. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time he had to take a leave of absence. "As for you, since you've heard it all and I assume you agree with me?"
"Of course I do!" Phythan strongly assured.
"Than you'll be my representative at the council this time. Sneak out of the meeting room and send me a message via courier monster bird with the results of the votes. Even after the votes are casted, if we lose, try to stall as much as you can," Milgazia instructed.
"Yes, sir!" Phythan saluted, glad to be of help in some way.
"A courier monster bird?" Orion frowned in distaste. "Surely a messenger dove would-"
"Not be fast enough," Milgazia ended the argument. "Now let's go. You should not be late to the meeting."
Phythan changed to his dragon form with his usual disregard for who was watching. They were all male dragons, so no one made a big fuss about it, other than Orion muttering something about vulgar youths under his breath. The three golden dragons took off flying speedily in the same direction for the time being. Later along the trek, Phythan and Orion would part ways with Milgazia as they all took their positions for what was to come.
To be Continued