Categories > Anime/Manga > Slayers > Slayers: Alive (Part 2)

Episode Twenty-Six

by Mikari 0 reviews

Xellos has a deadly curse that can be broken by the kiss of a golden dragon. A tricky conspiracy lurks in the shadows... XellosxFilia, ZelgadisxAmelia, GourryxLina

Category: Slayers - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Published: 2012-06-25 - Updated: 2012-06-26 - 10238 words - Complete

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Slayers: Alive - Episode 076: Extras! More Side Quests

It was a brand new day in Seyruun, where Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan and Onyx were, mostly, hanging around outside idly enjoying the nice weather. Onyx was reading comics inside the castle sitting next to the window, as she had stated that she disliked being outdoors. At least the window was close enough to the area where the others were, so that she was somewhat 'hanging out' with them, for the sake of humoring Amelia. Phythan was sitting outside leaning his back against the wall next to the same window, sketching on a drawing pad.

Lina and Gourry were happily devouring the contents of a picnic basket, though not with their usual rush, they were savoring the treats. Amelia was showing Zelgadis a family album and explaining who was who among her relatives. Filia was sitting under the comfortable shade of a tree with Xellos laying down with his head on her lap. They seemed to be locked in some kind of petty debate about if the current season could be more properly referred to as autumn or fall. Their arguments consisted mostly of insulting each other, which had little to do with the topic at hand. Even so, they weren't particularly loud this time, as there was a lazy and amused tone to their quarrel.

Kally arrived on the scene with an oversize backpack upon her shoulders. "Miss Amelia and guests, I have come to bid you farewell."

"The same for me," Kalio joined in as well, carrying similar luggage.

"You're leaving?" Amelia inquired in surprise. "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to a far away place called Amor Resort to work as the local doctor!" Kally revealed with excitement. "It's always good to have a doctor in those big amusement parks, just in case. Plus the place gets so many different visitors from all across the land; I'm sure it'll be a very interesting and inspiring experience."

"I have decided to accompany my sister on her journey and hopefully become a better swordsman to serve Seyruun upon my return," Kalio added his purpose to the explanation.

"I wish you both the best of luck on your journey and quests!" Amelia happily declared. Thanking her for the words of encouragement, the siblings Kally and Kalio Kalamari went on their way.

"Amor Resort," Xellos mused aloud. "Maybe I should have a word with Celo about this curse." Said and done, Xellos summoned Jarde and sent him away with a letter to Celo. Several minutes passed as the group continued their previous activities, until Jarde returned with a reply letter. "Honorable general Xellos: If you have the time let us discuss the matters concerning your curse in person. Respectfully, Celo Metallium - Amor Resort Manager." Xellos crumpled up the paper and tossed it away.

"Don't litter, raw garbage!" Filia scolded him.

Xellos gave her an exasperated look from his position resting his head on her lap. "I don't want to go all the way back to Amor Resort."

"Too bad, because you're going!" Filia got up, which forced Xellos to get up as well. "Our progress has been lazy lately. There were no clues waiting for us here, we need to go out and find clues! We need to stop the Green Alchemist's evil plans and break the curse before Zelas loses her patience!" Filia determinately declared, her speech being received with groans from everyone else except Amelia. "I know you're all tired after all our adventuring and usually we get to take a break after fighting two major antagonists, but the big boss still eludes us. We need to settle this matter. For that purpose we must return to the place where our adventure began, Amor Resort!"

The speech at least had an effect on Amelia, "Yes, let us journey for justice!" The princess cheered loudly. "We should leave right away!" Thus it was decided and another journey began.

xoxox xox xoxox

After giving their farewells to Philionel, Filia and Amelia led the way out of Seyruun. Xellos and Zelgadis were following them, then Lina and Gourry and finally Phythan and Onyx. That was until Lina realized that as the leader, she should be the one walking first and hurried past Amelia and Filia. They passed through a park full of children that were playing and were joined by Fang, who abandoned his game of fetch to follow them in fox form. "Mr. Fang... I didn't expect to find you here, but if you want to travel with us, you're welcome to." Amelia petted his head, while Zelgadis pouted, but said nothing.

"Bye Mr. Fang! Bye Princess Amelia! Bye Miss Dragon Spooker! Bye everyone!" The kids gathered around to wave goodbye as the travelers continued making their way out of the city, with Lina twitching slightly in annoyance.

"I dislike children," Onyx muttered under her breath, which seemed to be a normal monster-like thing to say, except for the fact that she wasn't a monster.

Remembering that he was supposed to be figuring out what was sealed in her memories and if it was of any use, Xellos made a mental note to keep a discrete eye on Onyx and observe the details of her behavior. This was especially necessary with Fang around, as he would most likely be reporting to Beast Master. Xellos knew that his presence in Seyruun was no coincidence. In fact, the whole group seemed to be silently aware that Fang had to be there for a reason, though they didn't directly address the issue, instead allowing him to simply join their little traveling group. If he had any intentions of sharing information, he would do it of his own accord and if he didn't, then asking would serve no purpose.

"You don't?" Phythan asked somehow surprised. "I don't mind them at all," he smiled cheerfully. Ah yes, the dragon was useful after all, maybe he could bring out a little more of Onyx's past self.

"Children need but cannot give, for they are helpless to do so until they are old enough to be capable. I despise sacrifice without reward; it is unfair that they to whom one owes nothing dare to ask for something. Helplessness is not inspiring of true kindness but only pity and I hold no pity to give. Those who need are not more precious than those who have, simply because they need. Helplessness and misfortune are not crimes, nor are they achieved on purpose by any sane person, but they are not virtues to be rewarded." Those were probably the longest sentences Onyx had so far spoken outside the topic of comic books. "It is best to depart from such a place, to abandon the situation that can yield nothing." Depart from such a place? Was she almost remembering the place where she came from?

"What do you mean?" Phythan inquired in innocent confusion. "I suppose it's okay to wish for a fifty-fifty, give and take, but doesn't the satisfaction of kindness balance things out?"

"Those who are dissatisfied cannot satisfy others. It is what prevents them from achieving such a rare form of selfless satisfaction." Onyx frowned for several seconds before regaining her blank expression and saying nothing more.

'For someone without memories she speaks in an almost philosophical tone, when she does speak at all about something other than comics.' Filia mused while she gave Xellos a concerned look. Onyx had ran away from somewhere, but where and why? A soft breeze blew and Onyx automatically tugged a strand of wavy black hair behind her ear, before putting up the hood of her cloak over her head. She had white wing earrings that Filia had not noticed before. They looked like angel wings, but they were probably supposed to be crafted after Zelas' true form wings. Filia wondered what the Lord of Nightmares gave this girl, who she was before losing her memories and how she ended up in such a broken state as she was when they first saw her?

Just outside of Seyruun, Lina's group caught up to Kally and Kalio. Xellos took the opportunity to say the word 'octopus', which caused Kally to take off in a mad dash, screaming at the top of her lungs. "You shouldn't have said that! Wait up, sis, don't be scared, it'll be alright!" Kalio ran after her, while Xellos snickered and Filia gave him a nasty glare. Aside from that, the journey towards the port, then to Amor Resort. went by relatively uneventful.

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Onyx, Phythan, Kally, Kalio and Fang all arrived at Amor Resort in a seemingly peaceful day. They made their way to the main street where they would journey to find Celo. Kally needed to report to him about her job and Xellos had a clue to his cure to inquire about. It was true that when Celo first offered to reveal the cure, Xellos threatened to kill him, but now it seemed pretty obvious that he should ask about it.

The monster turned human let out an exasperated breath. Where did that sense of pride that pushed him to figure this out on his own disappear to? Since when was he willing to accept assistance, as opposed to manipulating others to fulfill his purposes? Maybe he had remained in human form for far too long, it was all the more reason to make haste and change back to his normal monster self.

The group made their way to the area where Celo's clock tower used to be, which was reduced to practically nothing after the battle against the Green Alchemist's minions when they were last at Amor Resort. The place had been seemingly restored to how it used to be, with a thick dark forest and a rickety clock tower in its center. However, upon closer inspection, it became evident that the trees were plastic.

Before they reached the clock tower, the group was interrupted by the arrival of a familiar jellyfish woman who attempted to tackle Phythan in an amorous hug. "My precious dragon has returned to me!"

"Oh no!" Phythan moved out of the way quickly and ran in circles around the rest of the group with Medusa chasing after him. "Stop chasing me!"

"Never! You are my destined one, I know it!" Medusa adamantly insisted. "Just give me a chance!"

"Maybe you should give her a chance, Mr. Phythan, it's only fair." Amelia suggested, though she wasn't sure herself if she was entirely serious about it.

"Fair?" Phythan came to a sudden halt, which caused Medusa to run into his back. The jellyfish quickly jumped to her feet and wrapped her tentacles around Phythan in a tight embrace. Yet strangely, he didn't seem to notice as he was in deep thought. "I don't want to be unfair, but I just don't like jellyfish people that way. Am I vain?"

Sensing an opportunity, Medusa feigned crying. "Oh, you're so terribly vain! How dare you call yourself an agent of justice? You're too cruel, superficial and absolutely unjust!" Never mind that her interest in Phythan was only based on the fact that he was handsome.

Phythan gasped in horror, "unjust?" He looked like he was having some sort of emotional breakdown. "I'm unjust? I thought that I was being fair and free of prejudice when I took on this internship to better understand monsters before judging them, but I've been deceiving myself all along. How can I uphold justice if I cannot look past species in the personal matters of my life? Alright, I've decided!"

Medusa's eyes turned into metaphorical hearts, while the group watched the strange twist take place with perplexed expressions. "Does that mean you'll become my husband?"

"Husband?" Phythan's look of horror returned to his face, overshadowing his determination.

"Yes, my husband, a good defender of justice needs a loyal ally," Medusa tried to explain as a matter of fact. "How can you defend justice without a suitable wife by your side to help you accomplish your dreams?"

"My dreams..." Phythan gave it some thought. "I dream to one day become a famous comic artist and inspire people to pursue noble adventures to spread goodwill and justice, just like my father did with his stories about Fluffy and Ice-cream. I can draw the comics, but I'm not good at coming up with interesting plotlines. Taking that into consideration, a suitable wife that will help me accomplish my dreams would be someone who's very good at coming up with interesting plots. If I choose a fiance based on talent rather than species, then no one can say I'm being vain, because intellect, creativity and imagination are not superficial traits. That's it! I'll become the fiance of the one who can come up with the best plot outline!"

"Good idea," Phythan jumped in surprise at the sudden voice from right next to him. Everyone else had seen Celo and Tiffany's arrival except Phythan who was so focused on his speech. "We can have a contest to broaden your options and people can buy tickets to listen to the contestants sharing their stories."

"You're a businessman to the end," Lina commented. "Speaking of business, how about giving me a raise in my bodyguard salary?"

"Let's go inside and have some nice tea and cookies as we get reacquainted with each other." Celo invited them in, immediately going on his way back to the wooden clock tower.

"Hey! Didn't you hear me?" Lina hurried after him, determined not to be ignored.

xoxox xox xoxox

Once inside the rickety clock tower, Lina was distracted by the yummy snacks that were waiting for them and occupied herself in eating, along with Gourry. Celo seemed all too happy to arrange things for the plot writing contest to take place as it meant an economical benefit for himself. Among the random pleasantries and unimportant small talk, Xellos brought up the subject of his curse and its cure with a simple and direct, "what do you know about the cure to my curse?"

"I know that I must remain silent or you'll kill me." Celo recited with an almost mocking amount of respectfulness in his voice.

"I changed my mind about that," Xellos grinned cheerfully, his eyes in his familiar squinting expression. "If you don't tell me, I'll kill you."

"I see..." Celo turned his attention to Tiffany for a long moment before speaking his words of parting, "farewell my beloved."

Tiffany responded with a dramatic, "you'll always be in my heart."

Celo looked at Xellos again, taking a deep breath. "You may ask me about the cure now."

Xellos didn't understand why Celo sounded like he was soon to die if he had not refused to reveal the secret. He felt like he was walking straight into a trap, but asked anyway. "What is the cure to my curse?"

Celo smiled with a seemingly infinite joy as he wagged his right index finger and voiced an amused, "that is a secret." The world stood still for several minutes in absolute silence as Xellos blinked in disbelief that his quote was used against him. Then Celo burst out in a fit of joy, "I did it! I said it! General Xellos, I have always admired how cool you sound when you say that and wanted to one day say it myself. I set things up to say it to you, the master of the phrase, when we had that conversation before on the night of the ball. Yet you threatened my life and refused to ask the question, so I did not have the chance to say it. But now that I have finally spoken the words that I longed to speak for so long, I can die a happy man. Go ahead, General Xellos, end my life if that is your wish. I will not resist, for I am eternally grateful to you for granting me the chance to speak your amazing words."

Xellos felt his eye twitch as he glared at Celo. "The willing kiss of a golden dragon... You know that the clue to the curse's cure is a puzzle, but you have no idea what the answer to that puzzle is!" Xellos concluded.

"That is correct, you truly are a genius, general Xellos," Celo smiled with admiration.

"I really should kill you for making me go through all the trouble of coming here." Xellos twitched in anger.

"Xellos," Filia frowned, speaking in a warning tone.

"I'll spare your life in one condition, an all expenses paid vacation for as long as we're here, no questions asked!" Xellos declared with an air of cruelty worthy of a monster. He needed to get back at Celo for all the expenses that he allowed Lina and the others to throw into his account during their previous vacation there.

"You want to vacation in my resort for free?" Celo cried out in agony. "My profits, my precious profits! General Xellos, you are far too cruel, it's no wonder you're Lord Beast Master's favorite monster!"

xoxox xox xoxox

With all the expenses taken care of for the duration of their stay, Lina and Gourry went to raid the restaurants and devour everything they could. Zelgadis and Amelia decided to take the opportunity to go on a romantic get away, while Fang ran off to play. Kally settled into her new position as the local doctor and Kalio decided to hang around to check out the various rides in the resort. Meanwhile, the plot writing contest was swiftly organized with Xellos and Filia being dragged into becoming the so called neutral judges.

Filia thought that if Phythan had such a deep appreciation for writing talent, then maybe being fair and neutral would be the best way to find a good fiance for him. Even so, she still thought he was being far too hasty about becoming engaged. Xellos on the other hand, was determined to vote for the least eligible bachelorette just so he could enjoy the amusement of watching Phythan being miserable.

Then again, maybe Phythan was already miserable. Medusa was seated at one of many desks in the large classic round arena where the contest would take place. Next to her desk, there were many others, occupied by all sorts of living creatures, humans, beast people, fish people, trolls, young and old, female and male. Watching on from a balcony reserved for important guests, there sat Celo, Tiffany, Filia, Xellos and Phythan. "Um... Mr. Celo, why are there so many different people here?" Phythan asked nervously.

"You want to be fair, don't you?" Celo spoke in his usual overly respectful tone that added to his mockery. "If you're going to be completely fair and neutral without a hint of vanity or prejudice, then you can't be swayed by your own personal preferences. That is why there are so many different people here, both females and males, of many different species and ages."

Phythan looked very much afraid as he sunk into his chair. "It's all for the sake of justice; I only need to keep reminding myself of that."

Filia felt truly sorry for him. She placed a comforting hand on her fellow golden dragon's shoulder. "Don't worry; I'll make sure to choose a good bride for you."

"Or groom," Xellos added just to annoy Phythan. "Like that one over there." He pointed at a particularly big and hairy wolfman that looked like he had not groomed his mud colored fur in years.

Filia glared at Xellos, "stop scaring him!" She continued trying to calm Phythan, who was scared out of his mind, but felt unable to go back on his word. "Look," she pointed at a figure in a black hooded cloak among the contestants. "I managed to convince Onyx to enter, just as you asked me to."

"Really?" Phythan leaned over the railing of the balcony to have a better look. He seemed to have cheered up considerably. "Maybe Miss Onyx will win. She's always so insightful about the stories and characters and often talks about situations that she would have liked to see happening in comics. I enjoy our discussions very much and she's so smart, even if she's kind of cold sometimes. But that's okay, I'm sure that she'll conquer whatever is bothering her and be the best she can be!"

"So you like Onyx?" Xellos asked in a mocking tone. "I'll make sure not to vote for her."

Phythan pouted and once again sunk into his seat while Filia reproached Xellos with a glare. "It's alright, don't listen to my bias, just vote for whoever you think is best," he sighed tragically.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 077: Random! Unforeseen Events

After an hour had passed, during which the writers got no silence to concentrate in, due to the crowd noisily yelling about the kind of stories they wanted to hear, it was time to put the pencils down. One by one, each person read their stories which ranged from alright, to pretty good, to copyright infringement. As a big fan of literature, Tiffany identified the rip-off stories and disqualified the contestants. When it came down to it, it seemed that Medusa was ahead in terms of what the audience thought, as they continuously cheered her name.

"Do you hear that, Filia?" Xellos teased Filia, who was starting to look as nervous as Phythan thinking she wouldn't be able to help him. "The crowd has already decided the victor. Who are we to argue?"

"It's not over yet! Onyx still hasn't read her story; she was a late entry so they left her for last. Look, Tiffany is approaching her in the arena right now," Filia held on to a thin shred of hope.

Phythan on the other hand, already looked half-dead. "It's okay, it's not so bad, given the proper time I'm sure we'll fall in love and live happily ever after... Miss Medusa and me... We'll be... happy... eventually... I hope..."

"What kind of story can an amnesiac girl come up with?" Xellos laughed, "I think I'll take a nap," he leaned back on his cushy chair and closed his eyes. "Wake me when the boredom fest is over."

At the arena, Tiffany was looking over Onyx' notes. "This story is..."

"It is a plotline, that is what the contest required, a plotline rather than a story, in other words, a list of events rather than a novel. I can narrate it in detailed prose using these productions notes as a guide, but writing it down will be time consuming, as it is made of many chapters," Onyx explained.

"You're right, the contest did ask for a plotline and it was explained that the contestants had to read it. Some people didn't even bother writing and just made a story on the spot while others didn't finish writing and continued without reading. The writing part was only for convenience anyway," Tiffany reasoned as she handed Onyx her notes back. "Okay, tell us your story and I will give you this! She took a book out of her cloak. Under the proper spell, this blank book will record your words so that you can write a novel in as little time as it would take you to speak the words, plus your hands won't get tired and you won't have to worry about grammar, which isn't your strong point, judging by the notes."

Thus Onyx began to narrate her tale. It started out with an introduction of a few characters and the presentation of a conflict with a few peculiar questions cunningly weaved into the plot that presented a scenario to generate curiosity. Several plotlines came and went as more characters were introduced, with the main plot and cast present through the whole tale. The key to it was that the hints of the next plot line began before the previous was finished, but the information of unsolved mysteries was balanced so that the story wouldn't be confusing with too many questions, but had enough questions to make people wonder about it. From drama, to humor, to unexpected plot twists, the tale presented well developed characters and an interesting plot with lots of adventure and just enough romance. Overall Onyx seemed disinterested in romance, but used it well as a tool of suspense, creating issues that would remain present through the story, developing as the adventure unfolded.

When the story finally reached its end, the crowd cheered and Xellos was no longer pretending to sleep. "She has more of an imagination than I thought. Not bad," he had to give her credit.

"Miss Onyx, she did it!" Phythan cheered happily. "This proves it, justice will bring good things to those who put their trust in it!"

"That was too much of a gamble!" Filia scolded. It might have been a happy occasion in the end, but she didn't want Phythan to get into trouble in the future for taking unnecessary risks. "Don't take risks like this again. Trusting justice is one thing and leaving things to chance is another. You have to be careful and work towards what you want to achieve instead of becoming a victim of circumstance!"

"I understand, Miss Filia," he didn't really, but at least he was trying to. From Phythan's confused interpretation, he assumed that Filia was somehow telling him to be a good husband, though he did not feel exactly ready to be a husband at all. Maybe Onyx would be okay with having a long engagement.

The judges casted their votes, which pleased the crowd. Xellos knew there was no use in arguing because if he voted against Onyx while Filia voted for her, the crowd would have to break the tie between their two selected candidates. Given that Onyx would win anyway, Xellos decided to join the winning team.

The losers were not pleased. They couldn't believe that this girl could weave such a wondrous tale out of her short notes with so little planning. They seemed to be just about ready to attack, but stopped when they were taken by surprise by Onyx's announcement. "My prize will be auctioned to the highest bidder!"

"What?" Phythan and Filia exclaimed in a shocked chorus.

Xellos laughed with real amusement. "She is a master of plot twists, so we should have expected the unexpected."

"She can't do that!" Filia adamantly declared, then she whipped her head around so fast that Xellos who was next to her, got a slap from her hair. She glared at Celo who had remained up on the balcony with them while Tiffany was on the arena with Onyx and the other contestants. "Can she do that?"

"Phythan's engagement is her prize to do with as she pleases. This is Onyx business," Celo approved. "Besides, it wouldn't' be fair to force Onyx into marriage, she wasn't the one to bet her freedom, Phythan was the fool."

Phythan looked like he was about to cry, "I'm doomed, aren't I? Oh what a fool I was to leave things to luck, my luck is usually decently good," which was a very subjective observation, "but it had to run out some time."

"This wasn't a battle of luck, it was a battle of talent," Celo corrected. "However, it wasn't your own talent that was being tested, so you never stood a chance. You left this in the hands of someone else."

"I think I understand what Miss Filia was trying to say. This really was a foolish risk. I should have simply escaped the situation by saying something neutral and ambiguous like 'I reserve judgment' or 'no comment' but it's too late for that now!" Phythan agonized.

"I bid a thousand gold coins!" Medusa called out.

"Two thousand!" The mud colored wolfman shouted.

"Two thousand and one!" A young human girl bid.

"What kind of a way to outbid is that, girly?" An old woman criticized, "I bid three thousand, five hundred and seventy two gold coins!"

"Four thousand!" The wolfman argued.

"Rats, those were all my savings," the old woman went away grumbling under her breath.

"Bid five thousand!" A voice shouted from the audience near the balcony.

A young woman with glasses far larger than what was needed to cover her eyes, in turn shouted, "five thousand gold coins!" Her hair was purple and she wore a helmet.

"Hmm..." Phythan looked thoughtful for a moment. "That purple haired girl is kind of cute. I do like intellectuals best."

"Whatever happened to not being vain? I suppose I should expect nothing less of a golden dragon," Xellos teased.

Phythan slapped both hands over his mouth, trying to pretend he had not said anything. He considered arguing that you couldn't see intellect, so it couldn't be classified as vanity, but then Xellos would probably just point out his comment about the woman being cute. Feeling that he had hopelessly lost the argument already, the distressed golden dragon decided to remain silent.

"Don't get your hopes up for her." The same voice from the audience near the balcony spoke again, this time directly addressing Phythan.

Phythan, Celo, Xellos and Filia recognized the owner of the voice, or at least they recognized her from the neck down as they couldn't see her face. It was a good thing they couldn't see it, or else they might have been turned to stone. "Galathia! Why are you here?" Phythan asked, already fearing the worse.

"I'm here to compete for you, of course. If I win you fair and square, I'm sure Beast Master will allow us to be together. She allows Celo and Xellos to have golden dragon lovers after all." Galathia revealed, speaking from behind her thick veil. "I'm not very good at coming up with stories myself, so I hired a representative. I didn't expect for her talents to be surpassed, though I'm sure we can all agree that she deserves at least third place after Onyx and Medusa."

"Seven thousand!" Medusa defiantly shouted at the arena below.

"Miss pretty nerd is your representative?" It seemed that Phythan couldn't catch a break. He would be kicking himself for his hasty action of giving his future over to justice probably for the rest of his life. "Isn't that cheating?"

"Not really," Celo smiled assuring, as if it was supposed to be good news.

"Eight thousand!" Galathia yelled, with her representative relaying the message. "I can't wait for us to get married, how I long for your kiss and so much more my sexy dragon!" The gorgon monster declared at the top of her lungs.

"Wouldn't that turn me to stone?" Phythan stuttered, though perhaps being turned to stone would be a mercy, given the circumstances.

"Not if you close your eyes, lover," Galathia winked though no one could actually see it. She tried to speak in her most seductive voice, which just sounded snake-like and creepy.

"Nine thousand and that's my final offer!" The mud colored wolfman declared.

"If you're not willing to go all the way, then move over, hairball!" Medusa challenged. "I bid ten thousand gold coins!"

"I grow tired of this," Galathia grinned confidently behind her veil. "Fifteen thousand!" The large bid was repeated and made official by her representative.

"I... I don't want to get married!" Phythan started crying an exaggerated waterfall of tears all of a sudden.

"You can't escape your fate, let's not forget you allowed me to place you under a magical oath as part of the final arrangements of the competition," Celo reminded. "If you break your word, there will be dire consequences." He revealed the scroll with Phythan's signature. "Even death..." Celo warned ominously, which only made Phythan despair even more.

"Twenty thousand!" Medusa shouted. Getting angry, Galathia made her way from the audience benches into the arena. "What are you doing?" The jellyfish woman gave the gorgon an accusing look.

"This girl is my representative, so I have the right to be here!" Galathia defended. "I'll take it from here; I left your payment with that handsome blue haired man that was with you."

"You gave him my money?" The purple haired girl didn't seem at all pleased. "I better catch up to him before he spends it all buying cat toys for Alfador!" She ran off in a hurry.

Continuing with her business, Galathia made her next bid, "thirty thousand gold coins!"

Medusa rose to the challenge with great determination. "Fifty thousand!"

"One hundred thousand!" Galathia retorted confidently.

"Two hundred thousand!" Medusa doubled the offer.

"Five hundred thousand!" Galathia challenged. It finally looked like Medusa was unable to fight back.

The suspense hung in the air as Medusa gave the wailing Phythan a dramatic look and finally spoke, "one million, five hundred thousand gold coins!" Medusa tripled the offer and the crowd went wild.

"I refuse to lose, that yummy dragon is mine!" Galathia was ready to be buried in debt for the rest of her life all for the sake of catching a handsome husband that would be otherwise virtually impossible to obtain. "Two million!"

"Three million!" Medusa countered.

Galathia glared under her veil. "Fine, you win. That clumsy dragon probably would have opened his eyes at the wrong moment and gotten himself turned to stone anyway. I can get handsome statues for far less than this sum." Defeated, the monster faded to the astral side.

Unknown to his previous traveling companions, Kalio had made his way into the arena stadium to watch the show. 'Amazing, I have never seen a woman show such fiery determination for the sake of the man she loves,' he thought as he witnessed the events from the audience. 'Phythan doesn't know how fortunate he is to have such a devoted woman after his heart...'

"Three million going once!" Onyx announced, making a small pause before continuing, "three million going twice!"

"Ten million gold coins!" Filia shouted out from the VIP balcony.

"You can't bid! You didn't enter the contest and you don't have a representative!" Medusa argued defensively.

"The contest is over! Onyx has already won the prize and decided to auction it to the highest bidder. The auction has nothing to do with the competition, it's a separate business deal and I can bid if I want to!" Filia defended her point fiercely. She couldn't stand to see poor Phythan be forced to marry someone he didn't love. She intended to give him back his freedom. "In the same sense, once I win this auction I can do what I please with the prize, including returning his freedom. Phythan, the choice of who to marry and when to marry is yours, please don't risk it so foolishly again."

"Miss Filia, you're so kind, thank you so much!" Phythan cheered.

"Twenty million!" Medusa shouted back, refusing to give up.

"You don't have that much money!" Filia argued.

"You don't have enough money to back up your bid of ten million!" Medusa threw back the argument.

"Yes I do!" Filia presented a seal with the silhouette of a wolf's head with angry eyes and wings in the background. "This seal is proof of the Metallium family fortune!"

"Hey! That's my seal!" Xellos argued. "When did you steal that from me?"

"A few minutes ago," Filia confessed. "Don't tell me you didn't notice me sticking my hand into your pants pocket.

Xellos pouted in annoyance, with a hint of disappointment. "I did notice, but I never would have guessed you had such inappropriate intentions. Or rather, I thought you had inappropriate intentions of a different nature."

"Shut up raw garbage, you're the one who's always getting too grabby!" Filia accused.

"I really don't want to hear this!" Phythan protested.

"Honestly, neither do I," Celo agreed.

Blushing bright red, Filia tried to get back into topic. "Anyway, the point is that this seal serves as proof of my-"

"Lover's" Xellos inserted the word.

"Financial status," Filia finished with a glare. "What will it be, Onyx? Will you accept my offer, or waste the auction on a bankrupt false bidder?"

"Security is important in finances," Onyx determined. "Can you present proof of your economical standing?"

"I..." Medusa looked fearful and defeated as a few bitter tears escaped her. "I cannot..." The jellyfish woman gave Phythan one last glance before dramatically declaring. "I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you, Phythan, but even if I'm a poor insignificant jellyfish girl, I'll always love you!" Then she ran out of the arena crying loudly and abundantly.

"Ten million gold coins going once!" After Medusa's theatrical exit, Onyx continued the auction. "Ten million gold coins going twice!" There was a dramatic pause during which no one dared to speak. "Sold, to Filia Ul Copt!" Once again the crowd cheered wildly.

"Filia, do you have any idea how long it's going to take me to pay up the debt you just acquired in my name?" Xellos reproached in annoyance.

"I'm sorry, but I had to do something!" Filia kept her determination strong, though she still managed to look apologetic. "I'll pay you back if you give me a reasonable payment plan," she offered.

Xellos gave it some thought, "there are other ways for you to compensate me," he grinned mischievously with a wink.

Filia blushed, remembering that they had an audience, "let's talk about this later." Taking a deep breath to calm herself after the suspenseful auction, Filia tried to clear her head of the implications of Xellos' suggestion and addressed Phythan. "You're free now Phythan, you can follow your heart and fall in love naturally with no pressure. Just make sure you're careful in the future. As the new owner of your magical oath, I hereby free you from it!" On Filia's command, the contract Celo still held turned to dust and Phythan was freed from his promise.

"Kind Miss Filia, I'll make sure to pay you back for what you've done, even if it's little by little," Phythan assured. "Then if one day I become a famous artist and sell lots of comics I'll pay you the rest of the debt in one go with interest!"

"It's okay, you don't have to do that," Filia ruffled his hair like an older sister to her baby brother, never mind that he was taller than her.

"This isn't over yet!" Medusa suddenly levitated towards the balcony with a slingshot in hand armed with a very suspicious looking berry. "My beloved, give into the embrace of absolute passion!" Medusa shot the berry straight at Phythan with great speed.

"No!" Filia jumped in front of him, trying to save the innocent Phythan from falling pray to the lustful effect that those specific berries had on dragons. Unfortunately, other then jumping in front of Phythan, Filia didn't actually have time to raise her hand to catch the berry projectile and it flew right into her mouth. With an expression of horror, Filia gravely declared, "I swallowed it..."

"Was that what I think it was?" Tiffany levitated over to the balcony and seized Celo by the ear. "I told you to stop selling those dangerous berries at the resort!"

"Ow! Ow! I thought it would be safe enough as long as I kept them away from you!" Celo tried to excuse himself, but Tiffany kept angrily pulling his ear.

"Such underhanded tactics..." Tiffany growled menacingly, "guards, get her!" A group of guards dressed in classic gladiator armor levitated to try to arrest Medusa.

"You haven't seen the last of me! The flame of love still burns in my heart! Ray Wing!" Medusa made a speedy get away, with the gladiator guards chasing after her and disappearing in the distant sky.

"This is terrible!" Phythan grimaced. "I feel guilty about hurting Miss Medusa's feelings and I feel awful about you taking a poisonous berry for me."

"Don't worry about me," Filia forced herself to smile as serenely as possible. "I have an antidote."

"I guess you mean me," Xellos gladly volunteered.

"Don't complain, you were far worse as a golden dragon and that was without berries!" Filia retorted.

"As I recall, you weren't even kind enough to properly assist me with the problem until later, you inconsiderate stupid dragon. Besides, I'm not complaining," Xellos grinned mischievously. "I'm not complaining at all... Let's go find a private place to... heal you. Ray Wing!"

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 078: Vengeful! The Dragon Slayers' Secret

As Xellos and Filia flew away, Phythan couldn't help it but to innocently wonder. "Why can't Xellos give Filia the antidote here? Maybe it's some kind of complicated spell that requires a lot of concentration and that's why they need to go somewhere without any distractions." He theorized.

Celo laughed nervously, while Tiffany was still abusing his ear. "I just hope she doesn't kill him, dragons can be so sadistic sometimes..." he muttered under his breath.

"What did you say, Mr. Celo?" Phythan inquired as he did not quite catch the remark.

"I said my ear's about to come off!" Celo complained.

Phythan had finally learned his lesson when it came to letting his mouth run away with too many words. He didn't want Tiffany's anger to somehow extend to him if he pleaded for mercy on Celo. Thus he wisely declared, "no comment. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find Miss Medusa and properly apologize or this guilt won't let me live in peace." He transformed, once again paying no mind to the many witnesses, then flew off. At least most of the crowd appreciated the show.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, far away, for the purpose of furthering her training, a white dragon girl visited Celestina's villa one day. She was received by the girls who studied under her guidance and was granted an audience with the mysterious lady. The beautiful white dragon, who went by the name of Kirei Ivory, approached Celestina in her garden. "My lady, I have come to request your instruction." Her voice was clear, melodious and very formal.

"You think you have chosen power over reputation, but in reality you merely render a service. By forcing upon yourself discipline and artificial determination, you are killing the desires of your heart. Far from leading to balance, such mechanical pursuits lead to emptiness. A pity as you could, should you permit such a thing of yourself, have a very strong heart. Should you persist in acting rather than living, you are destined to be consumed." Celestina spoke calmly yet with great authority. "Go..."

Never had Kirei been so shaken in her life. She left the villa in disappointment and judged herself unworthy. Far from properly heeding the warning as it was meant, she returned to her secluded home with her clan and intensified her training.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Amor Resort, the day after the auction started out as a relatively peaceful one. Filia and Xellos were nowhere to be found. Those who knew nothing of the previous day's occurrences assumed they were somewhere around the resort and would turn up soon enough. Those who knew of the previous day's occurrences concluded that it was best not to bother them. Onyx had started working on some edits for her novel, while Tiffany dragged Celo around, making him get rid of all the dangerous dragon lust berries. With Amelia and Zelgadis still off on their romantic vacation and Fang taking a long nap after spending the whole previous night eating pet treats, that left Lina and Gourry as the most suitable candidates for a certain mission that Tiffany gave them before she went off with Celo.

The gluttonous duo had been assigned the task of finding Phythan and making sure he didn't stupidly get himself into more trouble than he could handle. Despite being good with luck spells, he was ironically, also good at getting into trouble. Perhaps he didn't cast those spells often enough. With a generous payment being offered half in advance and another half still waiting to be claimed, of course Lina was more than willing to help out. Thus she set out to track down the dragon that had apparently gone off to find the jellyfish that he was trying to get away from the previous day. It made no sense, there was something about apologizing to her, but since when would someone need to apologize to a stalker? Who cares, Lina got paid and that was all that mattered.

After levitating all around above the resort looking for clues, Lina was starting to get tired and of course hungry. She landed on one of a series of protuberant cliffs on the edge of the shores of the Amor Resort island. Taking in a breath of salty beach air, she loudly called out, "Phythan! Where are you?"

Kally and Kalio landed near Lina and Gourry unexpectedly, after having spotted them from the ground and followed them. Before they could explain why they were there, another voice replied. "Miss Lina?"

Those above the cliff searched around for the source of the voice, which seemed to be originating from below. They levitated under the beach-side cliff to find a cavity hidden under the shade of the long cliff with the calm ocean waves reaching into it. "Phythan, this is where you were all along? Why are you in this place?"

"I was flying around looking for Miss Medusa to apologize about hurting her feelings, then I felt dizzy and fell in the ocean. I would have drowned if not because a few friendly sea creatures help me reach this place," Phythan explained.

"Well, I found you, so that means my job is done! Tiffany's worried about you. She probably thinks that Medusa girl kidnapped you or something." When it was all said and done, Lina was glad to have gotten an easy job out of the equation after all.

"Actually, I wasn't able to find Miss Medusa at all," Phythan, who was looking feverish with a tint of red on his face, tried to get up but fell back into a sitting position. "I'm sorry, Miss Lina, could you tell Tifa I'm okay, I think I might have to stay here for a while. I have a really bad headache and the ocean waves help me relax."

Kally and Kalio had matching sour looks on their faces. "Sister, are you certain?" Kalio inquired about something that only the Kalamari siblings seemed to be aware of.

"There's no doubt about it, this is the will of Ceifeed, it is the guidance I requested as a shrine maiden. Brother, this is our answer, we must do this," Kally insisted strongly.

"Right, then I will fight with everything I have!" Kalio bravely declared.

Gourry blinked in his usual clueless fashion. "I'm confused," he informed with a smile. He was confused all the time anyway, so it was nothing to make a fuss about.

"Me too," Phythan added.

"Me three," Lina agreed, "which means the situation actually is confusing. It would be nothing if it was just these two getting lost, but if the brilliant Lina Inverse is puzzled, something strange is going on."

Kally and Kalio both looked unsure, as if they held a dark secret that was about to be revealed. "I'll tell them if you're certain," Kalio offered.

"I was the one who asked for Ceifeed's guidance and received it, I will tell them," Kally insisted.

"I don't care which one of you tells us whatever it is you're going to tell us, as long as you tell us fast!" Lina impatiently rushed, her face showing that it was not a good idea to make her wait any longer.

Kally took a deep breath and began to reveal the story that was a heavy burden for her and her brother. "A long time ago, around nine hundred years ago, there was a town in the world outside the barrier where a group of golden dragons kept humans as slaves, even when the majority of their race frowned upon it. Through a series of events that have received varied interpretations over the years, the town was freed by a pair of travelers, a dragon and a human. The town then became a symbol of peace between the dragons and the humans. However, there were some humans who wished for vengeance and were not willing to forgive the golden dragons. They unfairly judged their whole race as being as evil as the monsters and set out to form a clan of dragon slayers."

Though he had left the task of telling the story to his sister, Kalio couldn't resist but to add to it too. "The dragon slayer clan continued to exist through the generations, living up to its name. At some point, the clan was split into two. There were some who wished to make the dragons their servants and went to extremes with cruel methods. The other half of the clan only slew the dragons that got too close to human villages. The extremists were eventually found and punished by the golden dragons."

"Even so, some of their poisonous recipes were left behind," Kally continued. "That included some peculiar berries which I saw in this resort. They can be in a sense, rather dangerous if ingested by a golden dragon, but the effects are not deadly or permanent." She didn't think it was really necessary to elaborate beyond that. There were no more vital historical explanations for the time being, thus Kally moved on to the main point. "My brother and I are descendants of the Dragon Slayer clan." Rightfully so, both Lina and Phythan's surprise became visible in their facial expressions. As expected, Gourry was just as confused as ever, smiling dumbly.

"We disagreed with their ways," Kalio assured. "That is why we left as soon as the barrier fell and journeyed to the land that was within it before. We realized that the golden dragon race as a whole wasn't bad. The dragons that had been cruel to humans nine hundred ears ago were a minority. Plus in more recent years the golden dragon race has become more receptive to building peaceful relationships with humans."

Kally nodded in agreement as a specific event came to mind. "Prince Philionel sent out people to try to contact the golden dragons and ask for their assistance in helping the lands that were affected by the famine. They responded more readily than anyone expected and have been working alongside Seyruun, Taforashia and other kingdoms. After Princess Amelia's report was received, soldiers from Seyruun were dispatched and were told to be on the lookout for situations in which the land's nutrients were being drained away. They found lesser manifestations of the symptoms, but no culprits were identified."

"I see, then the Green Alchemist's minions are still out there collecting energy from the land. The only difference is that they're being sneakier about it, taking only a little from here and there," Lina concluded. "It might not seem like much right now, but the strain will pile up eventually and future harvests will steadily decrease. Plus the farm lands that were most severely affected were left in such a barren state that they'll be dependant on supplies from other lands for a while."

"Yes, they'll have to rely on a different form of commerce that's not based on the products of the land if they are to recover," Kalio agreed. "Not even the golden dragons can restore the health of the land fast enough for it to be possible to harvest any time soon. At least it has been reported that the magic of the golden dragons that blessed other lands less severely affected has proven to be beneficial."

"I confess we tried to run away," Kally revealed, going back into the topic they had started. "I wished for guidance and felt that my brother and I were destined to face our past. We were happy living in Seyruun, then Nai shows up, calling herself Onyx, with seemingly no memories about our clan. She's so different but I'm sure she's the same person!"

"Wait a minute!" The mention of Onyx caught Phythan's attention. "You know Miss Onyx, you knew her from before? Please tell us about her!"

Once again deviating from the warning Kally intended to give, she took a moment to elaborate upon the inquiry. "Nai was born in the dragon slayer clan; however, she cannot use magic. She also reacts negatively to it. Despite living in what is known as the outer world, the dragon slayers trained in magic, making us a rare group in a land were most people don't have knowledge of magic. Our ancestors originally gained the knowledge by observing the golden dragons while in captivity and developed it further from that basis. I believe the reason Nai cannot use magic is because of a genetic condition. As such, she would be at a disadvantage as a dragon slayer, a liability many would say, thus she was never trained to be one."

"I see," Lina allowed the information to sink in. She tried to understand Onyx, who was originally called Nai, to try to figure out what the Lord of Nightmares could possibly want with her. "It must have been hard for her then. Was she rejected by her clan?"

"Not exactly, though in a sense yes..." Kally elaborated, "she could never reach the rank of the magic users, the rank of a true dragon slayers. But she could help in other ways, working around the village, preparing the slayers equipment, meals and so on. Although, her father was a prominent dragon slayer, so she never had to do much. Her older sister who was capable of using magic, albeit she was only an average dragon slayer in terms of skill, was always praised for her hard work and dedication. Nai on the other hand was a daddy's girl whom her father always sheltered, perhaps he thought she needed more support from him because of her lack of magic and rank."

"Everyone knew that Nai didn't really get along with her sister," Kalio added. "I guess no one can blame Nai, she didn't choose to be born with her condition and it was her father who deprived her of the chance to become self sufficient with his well intended care. Even so, I think she was content to hang around her father's house and read comics all day."

"Until her niece and nephew were born," Kally followed up. "Kalio and I had already left by then, but Nai was my friend and I was secretly exchanging correspondence with her. With her father retiring to a peaceful old age and her sister and brother-in-law busy with work, Nai often got stuck babysitting. The twins were spoiled brats and Nai hated having to baby-sit, she always said she disliked children, but I think it was just those two hyper brats that she disliked."

After a bitter paused, Kally continued, "one day, a dragon attacked the village and Nai's house was burned down. They managed to slay the dragon, but Nai's father gave his life to make sure she and her sister's children were safe. Nai was never close with her mother, who always compared her with her sister, so with her father gone and all her possessions burned to ashes, she had no reason to stay with the clan. She said she was going on a journey to find a new life and that was the last I heard of her. She used to be such a dreamer, always hoping that her prince charming would take her away from the clan, although her luck with men was pretty bad."

Lina was perplexed. Onyx held no power or rank in her past and she didn't appear to be someone who could be used as a hostage for ransom either. What could the Lord of Nightmares want with her? Was it all random? Was Nai simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? What magic did the Lord of Nightmares seal in her? Was it only done because Lina and the others were near by, to play with their heads? If the magic was sealed into her memories, then it was evident that she would have to fully recover her memories to release it, but was it a trap? "Pandora's box..." Lina muttered in uncertainty.

Not understanding, Kally inquired, "what do you mean? What has happened to Nai?" Lina shook her head; there was no need to involve more people in the lord of Nightmares' business. Kally paused, thinking about insisting, but then let things be. Kally had chosen not to speak to Nai until Nai, or rather Onyx, spoke to her, so she shouldn't go asking someone else. "About what we were getting to before," at long last, she finally revealed what needed to be said. "After the attack on the dragon slayer village, we heard that the clan decided to adopt their ancestors' ways and once again become nomads."

"We kept in contact with the blacksmiths and suppliers that assisted the clan on occasion, as their numbers have decreased over time. More people kept getting tired of their senseless battles and abandoned the dragon slayers," Kalio revealed, adding with some bitterness. "But of course, anyone is willing to help their cause if the proper number of coins is given." Lina made no comment on the subject of monetary rewards, instead remaining silent to allow Kalio to continue. "Since dealings with people from outside the clan have increased out of the necessity of the smaller clan, rumors always run faster and money can also buy information."

"Even if they are wrong, what's left of the clan were once our comrades," Kally sadly declared. "There are certain golden dragons that grow a horn similar to a unicorn's horn. This doesn't happen to all golden dragons; it is a rare genetic trait of only a few golden dragons with mixed dimos dragon ancestry. This particular horn is different from the horns other golden dragons have and can be identified by its glow. If the horn is removed, a very sharp blade can be crafted from it."

Lina connected the dots and looked at Phythan, "the horn you have when you transform. It glows, but it's kind of small. Lately it's been glowing brighter though."

"Horn?" Gourry curiously voiced. "That thing on Phythan's forehead is a horn? Wasn't that just a zit?"

Pouting deeply Phythan argued, "how can anyone have such a big and pointy zit that glows? Although I'll admit it is small for a horn. Now that I think about it, I got a headache like the one I have now when that horn first started to grow out a few years ago."

"Since you've been giving us rides now and then, it stands to reason that someone could have seen it," Lina added.

"Exactly," Kalio confirmed. "The dragon slayer clan will come after Phythan. My sister and I did not wish to fight our past comrades and reasoned that everyone would be safe enough in Seyruun, so we both came up with reasons to leave. Then we met up on the road and ended up traveling here together. Maybe it is an inescapable sign that the time has come for us to face the past. The dragon slayer clan has surely followed Phythan here. It is only a matter of time before they seize the opportunity to attack."

"Than we have an upcoming battle on our hands," Lina concluded.

"I was still living with the golden dragons at the time when this horn first started to grow out and went to see a doctor about it. He said I shouldn't expect my horn to grow out completely until I was five hundred and that's still almost a hundred years away. I wonder why it grew out so soon..." Phythan mused aloud. Giving it some further thought, he added as a voiced personal musing more so than a piece of information, "maybe those vitamins Zelas gave me were better than I thought. Monsters have a good side to them after all."

"Vitamins..." Lina noted. Maybe the fact that Zelas decided to accept Phythan as her intern was no coincidence after all. Those vitamins couldn't have been something she gave him merely for his health either. No doubt about it, Zelas must have been trying to make that horn come out sooner, but why? Could she be interested in the weapon that could possibly be crafted from Phythan's horn if it were to be removed? Each new clue brought a group of questions along with it. One step forward and two steps back... "Let's be ready," Lina finally spoke. "When the dragon slayers attack, we can't let them slay Phythan and steal his horn. Gourry and I will help out too." Everything was connected somehow, Lina knew it was, she just wasn't sure how. 'The plans of the Lord of Nightmares...' the redhead sorceress mused, 'Zelas, how much do you know about it that you're not telling us?'

To be Continued
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