Episode 040: Cunning! Underhanded Trickery
Episode 040: Cunning! Underhanded Trickery
"I don't think that's a good idea." Fang protested after Filia had Jarde get him. He arrived at Seyruun via teleportation. He was currently in his nearly human form which resembled a human fox chimera.
"What do you mean it's not a good idea?" Filia argued in alarm. She had no time for this. She had to tell Xellos what happened with Erosnum.
"I'll give him the message, but even if you're his wife, I'm sure Xellos doesn't want a golden dragon interrupting him now," Fang tried to explain. "He's busy and-"
"Take me to Xellos now!" Filia grabbed Fang by the spiky leather collar he wore around his neck. "I must see Xellos, I must tell him. Sending the message isn't enough, I want to see him! If I can't make you teleport me I'll fly to Wolf Pack Island. Do not make me do that," she warned.
Fang whimpered. Filia could be scary when she wanted to be, even for a high ranking monster like himself. "Okay, okay, I'll take you to Wolf Pack Island, but you have to tell Xellos it's not my fault!"
"Fine, I'll tell him I forced you to teleport me, just take me to him, fast!" Filia urged.
xoxox xox xoxox
Fang teleported Filia and himself to Wolf Pack Island, reappearing in Xellos' room. Since Xellos was not there, Filia rushed out, quickly making her way through the maze of elegant hallways of Zelas' palace under Wolf Pack Island, with a worried Fang rushing after her. She tried to sense Xellos' energy, telling it apart from the energy of the other monsters that inhabited Zelas' stronghold.
Finally, her senses picked up on his trail and he followed it to the surface of the island just as he was done talking to Zenki and Neuro, who had surprisingly popped up for a quick report, thus slightly delaying Xellos' departure to regroup with Lina and the others. Several other monsters of relatively high ranks stood behind the two lieutenants.
"Xellos!" Filia rushed over to him and in her haste, she didn't notice that he stiffened visibly.
"I had nothing to do with this!" Fang defended before Filia had the chance to continue.
"Yes, yes, I made him teleport me here, it's not Fang's fault," Filia admitted with disregard. She didn't understand why Fang was so strongly set in establishing that seemingly unimportant detail. "Erosnum is a traitor! He showed up at Seyruun and killed Topaz Ebony, a black dragon involved in tricking the dragon council into aiding Darkstar. He said he disagreed with Beast Master and that he was letting me go so I could tell you all this. He said-"
"Filia," Xellos' tone was cold and sharp, his eyes open in a deadly glare directed right at Filia. Zenki and Neuro made no comments and no motions, though some of the beast-like monsters standing behind them shifted uneasily, looking to their allies left and right with eyes full of disapproval. "Shut up."
Filia's mouth hung open with no sounds coming out of it. Xellos had never been so harsh with her, so cold and disapproving, hateful even. He wasn't even like that back when they were enemies. She closed her mouth unable to breathe another word. Xellos gave Fang a disapproving glare that made the monster fox whimper and take refuge behind the lieutenants.
"We will continue in a moment," Xellos decided. "Zenki and Neuro will review the strategies for their assigned territories." Xellos grabbed Filia by the arm, catching her off guard and teleporting her away.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos and Filia reappeared in his room, away from prying eyes and ears. "Ow, raw garbage, that hurt," Filia complained, rubbing her arm when he let her go.
"Idiot," Xellos growled.
"I was just trying to warn you that there was a traitor among you!" Filia argued defensively.
"You stupid dragon!" Xellos took Filia by the shoulders, shaking her harshly. "You said yourself that Eros told you to come to me. Couldn't you have stopped to think of why? Couldn't you have stopped to think of why Fang was reluctant to bring you to me? Couldn't you have used your brain for a change instead of getting caught up in the rush of the moment like the idiot you are? This doesn't make me look good, having a dragon have to tell me that. I was already suspicious of Eros and had someone keeping an eye on him." Xellos let go of Filia and paced around the room. "The incompetent fool will have to answer for this. Galathia!"
Filia cringed and covered her ears. It was as if Xellos was yelling through the astral side, so that he could be heard all over Wolf Pack Island. The voice wasn't as physical as it was made of energy, but the vibrations of energy still made Filia's head pound. When no one came and it looked like Xellos would yell again, she covered her ears tightly, but it was useless. His unusually loud and angry voice still rung out clearly in her head. He ignored her pain and called for Fang instead.
"I'm sorry!" Fang shouted, albeit in a normal non-astral energy voice, as he appeared before Xellos.
"Never mind that now," Xellos hurried along with more important matters. "Sniff out Galathia."
"Yes sir!" Though astral beings didn't have a scent in the typical sense that physical beings did, Fang still perceived a sort of astral scent from them and was a good tracker. He changed into his monster fox form and sniffed the air, taking a few moments longer than usual to locate his target, though she was relatively close within Wolf Pack Island. "I found her... She's weak..."
"Bring her here," Xellos commanded. Fang teleported, returning with a spirit, a point of light like a ghost. Filia gasped in surprise, but didn't say anything. "Looks like Eros did a number on you, got anything to report?"
The spirit that was Galathia shone weakly. "Traitor... Insulted Beast Master... He said she... was dead... That she... was ruined... Liar... Liar..."
"He will pay for that, but there's no time for me to hunt him personally and Zenki and Neuro have their hands full with territorial issues. Fang, stay here and guard Wolf Pack Island, keep everyone in line." Fang wasn't the most eloquent monster, but he was loyal. "Thundra!" The echoing voice happened again as Xellos summoned another monster to his presence. This time Filia cringed but didn't bother covering her ears, as it was useless.
A green parrot with many other colors at the end of her feathers appeared. "You called?" She knew the general priest wasn't in the mood for any sort of delay in following his orders lately. Everyone was very uneasy.
"See if you can get a necromancer to restore Galathia and continue your duties guarding Wolf Pack Island," Xellos ordered. "Dismissed," all the monsters teleported away, with Galathia doing so with Thundra's assistance as she didn't have the power to do much currently.
Filia shifted uncomfortably, wondering if she should break the icy silence between her and Xellos. "I didn't know Galathia was a spirit..."
"She's a creature who fell to this world when a sort of inter-dimensional rip opened between here and the over-world. She was petrified at the time, but Beast Master brought her back as a monster." She had changed since then, but her essence still remained. She was a gorgon with a strong attraction for handsome men of any species.
"Oh..." Filia didn't meet Xellos' eyes. His tone was still clipped and hard, so unlike his usual playful self. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to make your job harder. I should have thought of the consequences. I thought I could help and... I made a mess."
"You did indeed," Xellos huffed. "Zenki and Neuro have human companions they are often with, but not this time. They left the humans in a safe place and didn't involve them in this. At least Chiaki and Yako are smart enough not to poke their noses where they don't belong and if they hear about anything useful, they simply have Jarde deliver the messages."
Filia frowned, she hated having him angry at her like this, truly angry. "I know... I was stupid, good intentions don't always excuse stupid actions."
Xellos pushed up Filia's chin, making her look at him instead of the floor. "Good intentions never excuse stupid actions."
"You're right..." Filia admitted. "Is there any way at all that I can fix this?"
"Hopefully Zenki and Neuro already calmed any possible doubts the others could have come up with about me," Xellos decided. "Now, since you're already here, tell me in detail about what happened."
Filia explained the whole scene that took place with Topaz, what they talked about and Erosnum's unwelcome arrival. She revealed the things he said about Beast Master and his treachery.
Xellos took in the narration and finally voiced. "That should all be punished, but he was right to think I would delegate the task. I have no time to chase after Eros and in the end he is inconsequential to the grander scheme of things. Have Val and everyone move into the Seyruun castle until this is over as a precaution. Take Solex's egg there too."
Filia shuddered with pain when she heard Solex's name but fought to try to compose herself. In a barely audible voice she whispered, "I already did that."
Filia's reaction did not go unnoticed by Xellos, who gave her a suspicious look. "And?"
"And what?" Filia quietly inquired.
"There is something you're not telling me," Xellos insisted, though his anger had slightly faded by now. Or rather he wasn't so openly directing it towards Filia. "Say it."
Filia bit her lip and shook her head. "It's okay; you don't have to deal with everything. It doesn't change the main situation anyway..."
"I have no time for guessing games." Xellos scolded impatiently with some of the anger returning to his features.
Filia knew that Xellos would somehow get the truth out of her, so trying to distract him and change the subject was only a waste of time. She held back her tears and admitted it. "The shockwave of energy that caused everyone pain after Lord Beast Master and the other monster lords were summoned to the over-world made Solex's egg crack. He's... no longer there."
For a moment, Xellos said nothing as his expression darkened further. Then he muttered an incomprehensible segment of words that sounded somewhat like a stream of insulting profanities directed at Darkstar. Then a look of determination overtook his face. "I will get my revenge on him."
xoxox xox xoxox
Later, at the dragon council meeting room, senator Orion Ilumina had just finished delivering his speech after a few others had spoken. Several more dragons of various clans, golden, dimos, white and black, spoke as well. The process went on until the supreme elder who was the council's chancellor took the podium in the center of the circular structure. Seeing as all the ranking leaders and politicians had already spoken, he announced that it was time to cast their votes.
Surprisingly, the dragons voted to keep Luna's body safe, though they decided to redouble the precautions around it. They knew that with their exhausted power they didn't stand a chance against Darkstar either way and a last minute recovery from the Knight of Ceifeed could be what turned the tides in their favor. Every ounce of power they could have on their side counted.
After the meeting ended, Phythan snuck away from the crowds of curious dragons who wanted to speak to him, wondering why Milgazia had decided to send someone so young as his representative. He sent Milgazia a quick message with Jarde, letting him know about the good news of the result of the voting. However, the sneaky courier monster bird changed the message and delivered a note that simply said, "get Luna out of there!"
xoxox xox xoxox
While a monster talented in necromancy attempted to get Galathia's spirit to respond to the monster energy Zelas infused into her and begin its own astral recovery process, the gorgon had a peculiar request. "Thundra, I must ask you to do something important for me. I received a message a little earlier and I fear I am being terribly manipulated. Even so, I admit I'm enjoying the trill of it, though Xellos would probably kill me if he knew. None the less, I'm sure this will be harmless to Zelas. There is something I must ask you to do for me so that I may not lose the opportunity to claim a mysterious, but most certainly very enjoyable reward."
After Galathia revealed her request, Thundra refused absolutely. "I'm not going to help you with that. What if it's a trap? I mean, if what he said about his plans is true, then it makes sense. We're all opposing Darkstar after all, so such unsavory alliances could be inevitable. But what if it's a lie?"
"I can't miss out on this opportunity to receive the reward!" Galathia insisted desperately, while the necromancer monster finished his job and left. The two female monsters paid him no mind and faded to the astral side completely. Galathia recovered enough to appear as a gorgon, in the astral side at least.
Galathia wasn't wearing her usual veil over her face, but Thundra was a strong enough monster not to be affected. "If you're so desperate, get Fang to do it. I can give him your message, but that's it."
"Brilliant idea," Galathia approved. "The darling Fang will surely accomplish my request. Then I'll be free to claim the mysterious reward later!"
xoxox xox xoxox
Assuming that they had lost the voting, Milgazia set out to perform a rescue mission that was in every way an unnecessary risk. In truth the monsters had no reason to try to attack Luna, or rather her vessel, at the time. They were all focused on Darkstar. Yet Jarde was stressed and feeling ignored and insignificant due to the fact that he didn't have much in the way of combat power. The monster courier bird decided to cause some mischief for no reason other than to be troublesome and let out some tensions.
Milgazia had managed to acquire an amulet that disguised his dragon energy and made him very hard to sense. It was a semi-rare amulet, but certainly not the only one of its kind in the world. Even so, his human form was already known to other dragons, so he would still have to cover his face to truly hide his identity, just in case. Since the monster lords were gone, he couldn't use any black magic that drew power from them if the necessity to fight came up. Thus spells such as Zelas Phalanx were out of the question. He had to admit he would make an odd ninja, dressed in white rather than black. The temple where Luna was being kept was brightly lit with walls of pure ivory that would make the classic black attire of a ninja cause him to stand out more so than blend in. He was like a ninja of light, rather than a ninja of darkness.
The temple which held Luna had a guard on the ceiling. Very quietly, Milgazia made his way to the back of the building where there was a window when the guard was looking away. He opened and jumped through it, or at least tried to. The window was far too small and Milgazia soon found himself stuck. After some uncomfortable pushing, he managed to slip in. He heard approaching footsteps and dashed to hide behind one of the pillars that lines the hallway. The guard, a dimos dragon wearing armor, walked by with a long axe on one hand and a shield in the other in an overall look that in another world might be described as a Roman warrior.
The guard stopped at the end of the hallway. Something was off. He checked the first pillar on the opposite side and when his back was turned, Milgazia moved to the next pillar on his side of the hallway. The guard looked in his direction but saw nothing as the fabric of his light ninja clothes was enchanted not to cast a shadow. The guard stopped, wondering if it was just his imagination due to uneasiness. It didn't hurt to be careful though. He started checking behind the pillars one by one.
Every time the guard was busy looking behind one of the pillars, Milgazia would move on to the next. He stopped when another guard, a golden dragon in similar attire to the dimos, came from the other side of the square hallway. "What's wrong?" Their patrols were not supposed to overlap, as one of the guard would be marching on the opposite side of the hallway when the other was there, if they kept up a steady pace.
"Nothing..." The dimos replied with slight doubt. I just felt as if there was someone here. "Besides the other guards I mean."
"An intruder?" The golden dragon looked around, but Milgazia had already made it past the corner. "I haven't seen anything."
"I guess I was just a bit paranoid," the dimos let it go. "I better get back into step with the patrol." He hurried on ahead.
The temple was square in shape with hallways that went all around an inner room which had no windows, only a locked door. Two guards patrolled the hallways, a dimos and a golden dragon. That was in addition to the dimos dragon guard on the roof and the pair of white and black dragons standing by the main doors. The black dragon was outside and the white dragon behind him next to the inner door. They were part of a reserve that didn't give their energy to Darkstar as a contingency plan just in case something went wrong. The dragon race didn't feel there were enough dragons like that though, as the majority had given up their energy. That meant a very significant decrease in their power until they could recover.
Milgazia shook his head in disapproval. Surely they could come up with better surveillance than this. Perhaps the guards weren't the main part of the security system. He quietly snuck behind the white dragon as the guard yawned in boredom and released enchanted sleeping dust into the air, which the white dragon inhaled. It didn't take much for him to succumb to slumber as that particular sleeping dust was strengthened to work even on dragons. It wasn't harmful for him and the white dragon would wake up in little while. However, the super strong sleeping dust could be deadly for humans, sending them into an eternal slumber.
White dragons were more often healers than fighters, so for a golden dragon to overpower one physically was easy. White dragons did have superior healing magic though and could be an invaluable support in battle. Black dragons were talented with attack magic and dimos where physically stronger than all the other dragons. Golden dragons, known to many as the dragon lords, had a balance of abilities that made them particularly formidable opponents.
It wouldn't be long before the dimos on patrol made it to that side of the hallway and realize that his comrade was sleeping on his feet. Hopefully it would be attributed to boredom and nothing more. Milgazia hurried into the inner chamber and observed the many runes and charms that surrounded Luna as she floated within a crystal in the center of the room. All of these spells were aimed at stopping monsters. Though they might not be enough to kill a particularly strong monster, they would illicit a very painful reaction from even someone like Xellos. The shift of energy would then be enough to alert the guards.
To be Continued
Milgazia dressing up as a 'light ninja' is a reference to the Samurai Jack episode "Samurai vs Ninja."