Episode 047: Partners! Pick Your Team, The Race Begins
Episode 047: Partners! Pick Your Team, The Race Begins
Filia slowly opened her eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling. Her head hurt, her whole body was sore and she was very hungry. "Ugh, where am I?" She sat up slowly, wondering if everything had been a bad dream. The room she was at looked rather plain and simple, the room of a humble seaside inn at the Coastal States at the peninsula. Yet all that Filia knew was that she wasn't at the temple and that was all she would know for now.
"You're at an inn, miss. Are you quite alright?" A voice inquired from next to her.
Filia turned her head to see a man sitting on a chair next to her bed. After her negative experiences with humans, she was weary of them. Her memories flooded back into her mind and she realized the last thing she remembered was swimming endlessly after that monster sunk the ship she was on. The strong sent of the sea and a quick glance out the window confirmed that the inn where she was, was located close to the ocean. Logically, she concluded that she must have washed up on the shore and brought there. Yet one apparent act of kindness would not make her trust a stranger again. She backed away against the bed's headboard, clinging to the blanket as if it were a protective shield. "Get away!" She screeched at the stranger.
Xellos was doing mostly the opposite of what he usually did. Milgazia would probably be attentive to rumors of anyone with purple hair going through towns, or any peculiarly harmless looking strangers. Thus the general priest decided to blend in with the crowd of bounty hunters and mercenaries that were out and about following rumors about the Zanaffar, treating it like a massive treasure hunt. His black and violet clothes denoted him to be a sorcerer specializing in black magic if one was to follow the stereotypes. His hair was now long and black, though just as silky soft as ever. His eyes lacked the hue of purple he was so attached to and were instead a brilliant red. His outward appearance screamed, 'sorcerer not to be messed with,' which was how most of those who were searching for the Zanaffar made themselves look.
"Calm down miss, I've done nothing to hurt you." He smiled, though he tried to keep his eyes open. This girl, a human as far as he knew, most likely had no idea who Xellos the monster was, thus he didn't have to put up much of an act for her, but he did anyway, just to get into the habit of not being his spontaneous, deceiving and tricky self. Well, he would still be deceiving and tricky, but in a different style. This girl's emotions were very intense and tasty, he was glad Beast Master sent him this snack.
Filia reluctantly lowered the blanket, not that it could serve as a shield for any sort of attack anyway. "Did I wash up on shore? Did you bring me here?"
"Yes," Xellos replied with a deceiving truth. She was sort of washed up on the shore of Wolf Pack Island, or at least as close to it as the barrier allowed. Then Fang had delivered her to Xellos along with Zelas' message and Xellos took her to the inn.
"Thank you..." Filia was still uneasy as she shakily got up from the bed. She was feeling distrustful of all humans. "I must be going now," her stomach growled loudly and she stumbled weakly.
"It doesn't look like you're well enough to go anywhere beyond the restaurant downstairs," Xellos observed.
Filia bit her lip, "I don't have any money," and trying to earn some only got her into bigger trouble than she was already in.
"I'll pay," Xellos offered.
Filia gave him a distrusting glare. "No," she firmly voiced. "I've had enough of strangers trying to trick me!"
The girl was rather amusing, there was something very peculiar about her too, but Xellos couldn't quite place his finger on it. One thing caught his attention though; he didn't expect any damsel to address her savior in such a way. Did he look that much like a trickster? "I assure you, I'm not trying to trick you. You may go and order any meal you wish." After all, she had to eat in order to live and produce monster food for him with her stress.
Filia wasn't sure of what to do, but she knew one thing for sure, if she was going to get out of this, she might have to stoop to the human's level and be tricky. That was it, she was determined. She would eat to her heart's content and afterwards run off. That way, if this stranger intended to abandon her with the bill, she would give him a taste of his own medicine. "Alright, I guess I could use a meal."
xoxox xox xoxox
Some time later, at the restaurant in the inn's first floor, Xellos was surprised at how much this girl ate for a human, but he reasoned she must have gone days without food. "Would you like anything else?"
"No thanks," Filia replied, finishing her dessert. The cake wasn't as good as what dragons usually ate, but it was alright for it originating in a modest human establishment. Xellos signaled for the waitress and paid the bill. Filia paused remembering her plans and realized they were not needed after all. She finished her cake while unknown to her, Xellos contemplated how to make her follow him willingly and be a part of his cover. "Um..." Filia spoke, waking him from his thoughts. Now that she was fed, she was in much better spirits than earlier. "I'm sorry I was rude before. I really am grateful for your help, sir." She was about to inquire his name, but decided that she should give him hers first. "My name is... Juliet." Cautiously, she gave him her fake identity.
Xellos had heard the name before in some silly human story, although it had a nice ending at least, from a monster's perspective anyway. As a joke he decided to tell her his name was, "Romeo Wolf, pleased to meet you miss Juliet." Wolf was his treasure hunter alias that he was going by while blending in with the crowds, Romeo was just a joke.
"Oh..." Filia remembered the name from the story, but didn't comment on it as she assumed that names such as Romeo and Juliet were very common among humans. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Wolf."
A short silence passed between them until Xellos broke it. "May I ask where you're headed, miss Juliet?"
Filia touched the chocker around her neck and felt bad with her coming lies. She thought she had no choice though, she couldn't tell this human she was a dragon and as long as she had the choker on, she wouldn't be able to sense he wasn't a human. "This is a good luck charm, but I am quite tired of wearing it. Unfortunately, it is cursed and I cannot remove it. I suppose I should find someone who can take it off and then head home." She reasoned that she must be far from the town where she met Venus, but she didn't really know where she was.
Xellos saw his opportunity and made an offer. "I don't know of anyone who could remove that," he lied. "But maybe you'll find someone if you travel around. I'm on a journey myself. I'm looking for a valuable magical armor called the Zanaffar."
"The Zanaffar?" Filia gasped.
"You've heard of it?" Xellos wasn't really surprised, as the rumors were all over the place.
"That's a dangerous thing," Filia frowned. She had to investigate this; it was her duty even if she was on vacation. Maybe this way she could make up for her past mistakes. She would take away the Zanaffar armor from the inexperienced hands of the humans and get rid of that troublesome choker in the process. But she couldn't do much without her strength and magic. She would need help for this.
"Oh, don't worry, I'm a skilled sorcerer, I can take care of myself and you if you need an escort," Xellos assured.
That was it, Filia had to go with him and get the situation under control. She couldn't fight at the moment, so she would have to rely on him. "Mr. Wolf..." He was only human, so she didn't imagine him to be too strong, but it would have to be enough. "Please allow me to travel with you."
'That was easy,' Xellos mused. The girl tasted stressed and worried, she would be a good snack indeed. "As you wish, miss Juliet."
"Thank you," Filia smiled and a part of her thought that maybe there really were good humans out there, though another part of her was still reluctant to trust him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, Milgazia was walking across the marketplace of Seyruun. Xellos was in disguise, but Milgazia could still sense him, so he made sure to keep his distance. The dragon elder was following a human woman with a sword strapped to her waist and a confident stride in her step. "You still insist on following me, Milgazia?"
"I am only here to oversee your journey, I will not be a bother, I assure you, Lady Gabriev." Milgazia repeated his previous explanation.
The woman chuckled, "you're so formal, I told you to call me Flagoon." She stopped to examine the goods in a booth, while Milgazia hovered about feeling quite out of place.
"I do not wish to be disrespectful, Lady Gabriev," the stubborn yet serene golden dragon replied.
Flagoon Gabriev shook her head. "More like you don't want to be friendly, Mr. Dragon."
"Lady Gabriev, please!" Milgazia urged her to be silent about his true nature, cautiously looking at the multitude on the streets. Fortunately, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them.
"Lighten up!" Flagoon purchased a couple of apples, tossing one towards Milgazia and taking a bite of the other. "Call me Flagoon and I'll call you Milgazia, if not, then you're Mr. Dragon."
Milgazia sighed as he looked at the fruit he had caught. "Very well, if you insist. He wasn't sure why the human was so insistent on such details. Where are you headed next, miss Flagoon?"
"Just around town, Dragon," Flagoon replied.
Milgazia was annoyed by her stubbornness but decided to humor her at the cost of proper speech. "Are you planning to stay in Seyruun tonight, Flagoon?"
"Possibly," Flagoon smiled; at last she was making progress with him. "If a certain stubborn man by the name of Milgazia would join me for dinner, that would be nice. These appetizers are far from filling me up." She threw the apple's core in a trash bin on the side of the street. "Speaking of which, finish your apple Milgazia, we must be done with the appetizers before we get started on the main course." Milgazia looked at the apple and back at Flagoon. He didn't eat while walking. She let out an exasperated sigh as if catching what he meant. "Keep acting so royal and you'll raise suspicion in no time."
"My apologies, it was not my intention to belittle your race in any way." Milgazia wasn't sure if he had offended her or not. If he did, it was accidental, but that's what he concluded he did, given the tone of disapproval in her voice, mixed with annoyance.
"Of course not, you've allowed me to fend for myself alright, standing around while I do everything," Flagoon chuckled.
"I apologize for that too, but I cannot interfere." Milgazia repeated, though he still kept his reasons to himself, Flagoon didn't question him. In truth, he wanted to show humans not to mess with things like the Zanaffar, while at the same time not allowing the lesson to become so severe it would result in tragedy. At the same time he noticed that the human race was going through a bit of a tough time. After the War of the Monster's Fall ended, they recovered and flourished in unity over time. Now the humans were doing well enough, but the unity among them was lost and battles between villages and even kingdoms became more frequent. Hopefully, if the humans were inspired by a hero of their own kind, they would recover that sense of unity again. That hero was the traveling swordsman, er swordswoman, of light. Milgazia was just there as an observer who would interfere only if absolutely necessary. This would be Flagoon's time in the spotlight and besides, he didn't want to attract too much attention from the monsters by making a direct move. He was technically going out of his way to do what he thought was convenient for the humans, but he felt it was the right thing to do.
"It's fine, it's fine," Flagoon waved off the apology. She had received too many of those from Milgazia even if she was very light hearted and never showed him signs of true anger. "You can be my, um..." She paused in deep thought. "What do you call it? I mean, every hero in stories has one to protect, but what would it be called in this situation?"
Milgazia tilted his head in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Gentleman? No, that goes with lady," Flagoon mused aloud then finally explained. "I was going to say you can be my damsel in distress, but instead of a damsel, a man, whatever you call a male damsel. A lad? No, that goes with lass. What's the male word for damsel anyway?"
Milgazia sighed. "I don't think-"
"Squire!" Flagoon interrupted. "Since I can't think of a damsel word to call you that doesn't sound girly, I'll call you my squire in distress."
Milgazia sighed for the millionth time that day, "very well." He wasn't a squire and certainly not a damsel, but he was definitely getting to be in distress.
"Ah, here we are, this restaurant looks good, follow me, my noble squire." Flagoon entered the establishment, followed by Milgazia. Finding a table and ordering food was a simple process that went by uneventfully. As they ate, Flagoon started up a conversation, throwing out a question seemingly out of the blue. "Is it because I'll live less than you?"
"Pardon?" Milgazia looked up from his meal in confusion.
"Is that why you're so distant? Because you'll miss me when I'm gone if we're friends?" Flagoon inquired, adding her musings as she continued. "You said you didn't look down on humans and you've proven you're not one of those stupid guys who just gets in the way when I'm trying to cut down some villains. You know how to sit back and watch like a gentleman, allowing the lady to lead the first beat down and I commend you for that."
Milgazia let out an unsure "...thanks?" He doubted that the rules of human chivalry dictated that when in the presence of bandits a gentleman should step back and allow the lady to beat them up first, not stepping in until she was satisfied. He doubted ladies and gentlemen were expected to beat up bandits anyway.
"Milgazia, you're a good man, I can tell." Flagoon paused to gulp down her drink, setting her mug down in an unladylike manner. She was what humans called a tomboy. "But you're so secluded in yourself. You always have your duties on your mind, don't you? Always taking care of the whole world and not allowing anyone to take care of you. I know that you're here to take care of me too, without getting in my way, and I appreciate the sentiment, but sometimes you should let someone take care of you too. I'm sure you're a good protector, but let someone wash your back now and then too."
"You mean watch my back?" Milgazia offered.
"Yeah, that too. I was just remembering my childhood when the kids would jump into a pond together and wash each other's backs because they were friends," Flagoon smiled fondly.
Milgazia raised an eyebrow at her reply, but decided not to inquire about it any further. He had no intentions of allowing her to wash his back though. He was perfectly capable of cleaning himself thank-you-very-much.
Flagoon took a big bite of roasted chicken and leaned back on her chair as she swallowed it. "It must have been hard and I'm no one to speak. After the War of the Monster's Fall, after the tragedies, because you're alive and a leader you feel that you must protect everyone. That's fine, but don't seclude yourself. Open your heart for someone who wants to stand by your side and protect you too. Dare to trust, dare to fall in love."
Milgazia's eyes widened and if not for his ever present diplomacy, his jaw would have been hanging open. "How... how do you know about the war and my position of leadership?"
"I've read a lot of history books looking for information about my sword, but it's been a fruitless search," Flagoon explained. "At least I learned a lot of other stuff; stuff about the war and other things. I figure anyone of," she lowered her voice to a whisper, "your race." Then she continued speaking at a normal volume again, "who lives inside the barrier must have been in it somehow. As for your leadership, I didn't know, I just guessed you were a leader because of how you act. It's like you've gotten used to calling the shots and following another seems a bit odd. But because you're able to follow another, I know you're a good leader. You listen to those who follow you and take them into consideration."
"That's kind of you to say..." Milgazia voiced quietly. Compliment or not, this woman was much more perceptive than she first appeared. She was well traveled, within the territories that the barrier allowed her to explore at least, and well informed, even if her behavior was a bit odd. She was very observant and knew how to draw conclusions from the smallest behavioral patterns, such as when guessing he was in a position that involved leading others.
"Like I said," Flagoon emphasized with a smile. "You're a good man, but you keep everything bottled up. Just you wait, Milgazia. Even if it takes over a hundred years, which might not be so long for you after all, one day you'll run into a woman who's just as stubborn as you, if not more. Then she's going to persist until you let all your emotions out and since you've been keeping them bottled up for so long, it'll all be one big explosion!"
Milgazia couldn't help it but to smile a little at her dramatics. "I doubt that," he voiced honestly.
"Oh trust me, she's out there," Flagoon chuckled.
To be Continued
Very little is known about the swordsman of light, aside from the fact that the swordsman was actually a woman, she defeated the Zanaffar at Sairaag, then planting the Flagoon tree and that she traveled in the company of a male dragon. The identity of the dragon is unknown, but rumored among fans to be Milgazia, which I accepted as this story's fanon. Flagoon, as I dubbed the nameless warrior, is an ancestor of Rowdy, who is an ancestor of Gourry.