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

Episode Twenty-Nine

by Mikari 0 reviews

Category: Slayers - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Published: 2012-06-25 - Updated: 2012-06-26 - 10054 words - Complete

Slayers: Alive - Episode 085: Antidote! A Classic Fairytale Legend

To say Xellos was very enraged would be an understatement. No one bossed him around... except maybe Beast Master, but that was a whole different story.

"That's it, dragon, eat it all up," one of the Dragon Slayers was giving Phythan some strange gummy things that Xellos knew were not regular candy.

Phythan wasn't in any conditions to tell the difference though. "Hee hee, yummy candy!" Before he knew it, he was sound asleep.

"Knock that horn clean off with Flare Arrows!" The Dragon Slayer leader commanded, still holding Filia hostage.

"Hey Xellos," Filia was starting to get impatient with the situation. "How come yer not rescuing me like like like a damsel from those romance novels?"

"Maybe because the villains in those novels are polite enough to tie the damsel over a boiling pit of lava instead of inconveniently holding her hostage with a poisonous dagger to her neck?" Dire situation or not, Xellos was still Xellos and he had plenty of sarcasm to show for it. "It's rather uncomfortable for the protagonist to do battle in these conditions; it won't do for the co-star to get beheaded."

Just as the Dragon Slayers were about to shoot their concentrated Flare Arrows at the sleeping Phythan, the earth shook violently, causing the near by wooden clock tower to become lopsided and many of the resort's buildings to get cracks crawling up their walls. The crowds ran around like little ants after someone poured water on their ant-hill all over the resort. Most importantly, the Dragon Slayer leader was taken by surprise enough for Filia to slip away. Unfortunately, the Dragon Slayer leader swung his dagger at her as she ran, the blade making a small but dangerously poisonous slash on her exposed tail. Further action from the enemy leader was prevented by Xellos' Freeze Arrow being shot directly at him, which encased him in a block of ice.

"He hurt me!" Filia complained loudly, with a waterfall of exaggerated tears that dried up just as quickly as they came. "I'll get my revenge!" She took in a big breath and shot out a powerful laser from her mouth right at the frozen leader. Another of the Dragon Slayers jumped in front of him, holding an enchanted glass bottle as a shield. The laser entered the bottle and spun around inside it like a miniature thunderstorm without an end.

"No worries, I'll get revenge for you," Xellos offered, his expression becoming even more dangerously enraged.

Before Xellos could cast any spells, a familiar voice was heard near by, "Zelas Brid!" A line of light invaded the battle zone, striking the surprised Dragon Slayers, who had been focused on defending against Xellos. Onyx revealed herself beyond the plastic vegetation, keeping up the spell until her amulet shattered.

"That was an ambitious spell," Xellos commented. "But an incomplete one at best, you can't expect to cast a spell like that with just an amulet. You'd need to have some power of your own too."

"My apologies for taking so long, brother," Onyx excused herself. "I was thrown further away than intended. Fortunately, the amulet allowed me to levitate to safety, but it's broken now. I no longer have any power..."

Xellos smiled mockingly, "don't be too disappointed, you never had any power to begin with." He glanced at the Dragon Slayers that were injured on the ground but still alive. "Like I said, that spell wasn't as powerful as it should have been. If not because the amulet was made by Beast Master herself, it wouldn't have worked at all. It looks like I'll have to finish them off."

Again Xellos was interrupted by the arrival of a new person. "Filia, Phythan! Take a deep breath now!" Kally arrived on the scene and threw what appeared to be some kind of smoke bomb that released a golden mist.

When the mist cleared out, both Filia and Phythan were awake and sober. "What just happened? Was I acting like a stupid damsel in distress or was it a dream?" Filia looked at the cut on her tail. "Oh no, it was real, wasn't it?"

"Every bit of it," Xellos mocked. "You're a very troublesome stupid dragon."

"I have a headache!" Phythan complained. He transformed back into an elf so that his large horn would disappear. As usual, he didn't really bother finding a private place for the transformation, never mind that there were plenty of nearby plastic bushes to hide behind.

"Kally, you traitor!" The injured leader of the Dragon Slayers accused.

"Father..." Kally recognized him, surprising all those present. "The ways of our people are wrong, we must not hunt the dragons, they're not our enemies!"

"I will not hear another word from a traitor!" The stubborn leader growled.

Kally turned her back on him. "Filia, Phythan, please allow me to conduct a medical examination on you both to make sure everything is alright. If you were poisoned, I'll make an antidote. I'll be waiting at the clock tower, or what's left of it. As for him," she looked at the man she would never again call father with angry bitterness. "Do as you please with these evildoers." Kally stormed off, disappearing between the fake vegetation in the direction of the lopsided wooden clock tower.

"Now without further ado, you'll finally get what you deserve!" Xellos cheerfully announced. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..."

"Stop!" Filia intervened.

"How many times is someone going to stopped me from disintegrating these idiots?" Xellos glared in annoyance. "What is it? Do you think the Dragon Slave is too messy? How about some Fireballs instead?"

Filia shook her head, "that's not it." She glared at the Dragon Slayers with absolute anger. "I don't want any of you to go after another dragon ever again."

"I was about to make certain of that," Xellos pointed out with a cheerful grin. Their destruction had been delayed for far too long and he was impatient to get it over with.

"Don't," Filia insisted.

"Are you going to lecture them first?" Xellos rolled his eyes.

"No, I'm going to let them go," Filia surprisingly revealed, receiving a puzzled and disapproving look from Xellos. "Dragons are not evil, cruel or merciless; I want to show that with facts. Please Xellos, spare them, do it for me." He seemed unconvinced so she added, "I'll put up a fight if I have to, either you do what I say or you go through me."

"Stupid stubborn dragon!" Xellos growled in absolute frustration. "Next time they attack-"

"I'm not going to protect them anymore," Filia interrupted. She glanced at the Dragon Slayers, "one chance is all you get, just so you know dragons are not evil. Now go, leave this island!"

Without another word, the Dragon Slayers healed themselves as best they could, picked up their frozen leader and went on the retreat. They didn't obtain the horn, but those golden scales stuck to the dagger used to attack Filia and her laser which was still in the enchanted bottle might be useful for something...

xoxox xox xoxox

After the battle had ended, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan, Onyx, Celo, Tiffany and Kally gathered at the wooden clock tower. Fang, Martina, Zangulus and Sylphiel were left to clean up after the banquet rehearsal while Pokota entertained Val.

"It sounded like you were affected by a special alchemical mix that clouds a dragon's senses. With this vaccine you'll be immune to it from now on, so you won't have to worry about being sent into an almost instant drunken state anymore." Kally explained, presenting the results of her alchemic medicine. "It's magic and medicine mixed together. The proper herbs are needed along with an incantation." That was one problem out of the way, but there were more.

"As for the poison..." Kally continued. "Phythan was made to consume it in the shape of candy and it entered Filia's blood stream through the wound on her tail." The injury was healed, but it was too late to stop the poison, now only the antidote could help, which brought Kally to her most bitter revelation. "This poison is extremely dangerous; it can kill a dragon in a day. However, after you've been cured of it once, your body will become immune. Most of the substances the Dragon Slayers use are like that, super effective, but only once. Dragons have a very strong immunity system after all."

"Kally," Amelia spoke up, looking for an answer that she knew she wouldn't like, but needed to hear anyway. "If everything will be okay, why do you look so sad?"

Kally let out a frustrated breath, "I'm sorry, I was only able to make enough antidote for one. I don't have the proper ingredients for more and they're not in season. It would be virtually impossible to find the needed rare herbs to make more antidote on time before the poison's fatal effects come to pass."

A tense silence passed, until it was broken by Phythan. "It's okay, Miss Kally, at least you tried to help. I have nothing to look forward to in this world but the pain of constant migraines, frequent obsessed stalkers and occasional rejections. It's a pity I didn't get to accomplish my dream of finishing and publishing my own comic, but alas, my time has come to an end."

"Well, you heard him," Xellos picked up the little vial with the antidote. "Drink up, stupid dragon."

"No," Filia adamantly refused. "I can't drink the only available antidote knowing that someone else will die if I do!"

"It's okay, Miss Filia, you don't have to feel guilty," Phythan insisted. "You have a loving fiance with whom to share a happy life with, so you should be the one to survive. Besides, Mr. Xellos might get all depressed if you're gone and throw away all the progress he has made in leaving behind his evil ways to walk down the path of justice."

"I don't walk down the path of justice!" Xellos defended, sounding offended.

"All the more reason why Miss Filia needs to stay and help you reform!" Phythan argued.

"I have no intentions of reforming, but you're welcome to uselessly try, Filia... especially with bribery," he winked and Filia blushed. Everyone except Phythan caught the hint. "Now quit being a stubborn stupid dragon and drink your medicine," Xellos insisted.

"I refuse!" Filia maintained her position, even if Xellos looked like he was dangerously close to forcing the antidote down her throat.

"What about the enchanted kiss of healing?" Tiffany suggested.

"The what?" Gourry asked in confusion, he wasn't actually following any of the important details so far, but this sounded like something out of a children's fairytale, so it might be easy enough to understand.

"I've heard about it," Amelia elaborated. "The enchanted kiss of healing can cleanse the body of most illnesses and curses."

"How come you never mention that before?" Xellos inquired in annoyance. By now everyone was aware of the specifics of his curse dilemma and Amelia had not said anything about that enchanted kiss of healing when she first found out about it.

"Because it's only a legend, possibly even a myth," Amelia explained. "Besides, a curse that's strong enough to take away your monster powers and already has a specifically assigned cure, even if it's some kind of puzzle, probably wouldn't be broken by alternative means."

"Indeed," Celo agreed. "In fact, I am ninety-nine percent certain that the enchanted kiss of healing will not be able to break your curse. It is quite unfortunate, General Xellos. However, I am also ninety-nine percent certain that it can cure Filia's poison."

"Then it's real?" Amelia gasped. "Wow, I thought it really was a myth."

"Not at all," Celo elaborated. "The book containing the proper spell is kept right here on this island. It is the very spell that inspired many fairytales such as Sleeping Beauty and many others."

"Could it...?" Zelgadis began to ask.

"Chimeraism isn't a curse or an illness," Celo guessed what his question would be and replied before Zelgadis was even done asking. "It's supposed to be a beneficial combination of different aspects so no, this method wouldn't work on you."

"Well, it's settled, Phythan can have the antidote and I'll be healed with that spell," Filia concluded. Before Xellos could protest that a ninety-nine percent of a survival probability wasn't good enough, Filia snatched away the vial and forced Phythan to drink the antidote.

Phythan made choking noises until he finally fell into a suspenseful silence that culminated in very a whiny, "it's so bitter!"

"Filia!" Xellos scolded, "your stupidity never ceases to amaze me."

"Quit complaining!" Filia retorted, "it'll be okay. Let's just get the spell book."

"Alright, let us journey to the entrance of the caverns." Celo led the way down some stairs that conducted to a hidden basement under the lopsided wooden clock tower...

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia, Xellos, Phythan, Onyx, Celo, Tiffany and Kally found themselves face to face with four caves in a rustic basement under the clock tower. "The vault containing the spell book is through the tunnel in the far right. However," he revealed three keys. "These keys must be inserted into the slots at the end of each of the three first tunnels in order for the vault to be opened. Forcing it open will result in its defense mechanism destroying its contents. That terrible miracle cure is not a good thing from a monster's perspective, so making sure the book was locked up was important. It was fortunate that it wasn't destroyed instead. You never know when you might be glad to have something that you might have wanted to destroy in the past. It's like the mirror of truth, but that's not even dangerous enough to be kept in the vault."

"Filia and I will go through the tunnel in the far right, of course, the rest of you grab a key and get going," Xellos ordered.

"Wait a minute!" Lina protested. "I'm the leader around here!"

"Then by all means, lead us," Xellos had his usual cheerful mocking grin.

Lina felt like she was losing somehow, maybe because she was technically doing free work, but she was too stubborn to back down now. "Gourry and I will go through the first tunnel. Which key needs to be used there?"

"The golden one," Celo explained as he gave Lina all three keys. "The silver key is for the second tunnel from the left and the bronze key is for the third one. The last tunnel in the far right only has the magic vault."

"Alright, listen up everyone; we'll be dividing ourselves into teams of two. That should be more than enough to accomplish the simple task of using some keys," Lina commanded in her 'I'm the leader' tone of voice. "Naturally, Xellos and Filia will go through the forth tunnel since they're the ones who will be using the spell book. Gourry and I will take the golden key through the first tunnel. Amelia and Zelgadis will journey through the second tunnel with the silver key."

Lina gave Amelia the key and the princess saluted in response. "I will accomplish this mission of love and justice!" She bravely declared.

"As for the bronze key that must be taken through the third tunnel..." Lina paused, considering her options.

"Onyx and Phythan can go," Filia suggested with a grin that revealed her matchmaking intentions.

"Alright, then it's settled," Lina gave Onyx the bronze key. "Onyx and Phythan will journey through the third tunnel. Everyone move out!" All the assigned pairs marched through their respective tunnels aiding themselves with light spells to see where they were going.

"I guess I'll return to my duties as a doctor now," Kally announced, making her way up the stairs and out of the basement area.

A quiet moment passed with Tiffany and Celo alone in the basement. Tiffany gave Celo a peculiar look, "didn't you forget something, dear?"

"Did I, my beloved?" Celo innocently inquired with a clear hint of mischief in his eyes.

"Yes you did, lover," Tiffany returned the expression. "You didn't tell them anything about the guards."

"You're right, sweetheart, it must have slipped my mind," Celo grinned in a way that made him look similar to Xellos. "I suppose they'll figure that out soon enough."

Tiffany nodded, "I'm sure they will, honey."

xoxox xox xoxox

Lina and Gourry quietly made their way through the first tunnel. It had been a while since their trek started, showing that the tunnel was far longer than they had anticipated. The passageway became narrower as they went along, until Lina had to squeeze in first with the taller Gourry making his uncomfortable progress with more difficulty than the petite redhead.

At long last the pair arrived at a larger chamber where Gourry was all too happy to stretch. "It was sure cramped back there! I feel stiff after all that. Lina, would you mind giving me a shoulder massage? I kept bumping on the cave's sides and ceiling, an ice pack for my head would be nice too."

Lina's face instantly turned red at the request. "You can get your ice pack when we get back to the tower," she replied in a hurry.

"And the massage?" Gourry innocently inquired. He thought it was a reasonable enough request to ask of his fiance. He wouldn't complain if Lina didn't want to do it, but he was certainly hoping she would agree.

"Yeah... that too," Lina agreed. "Let's just get our mission done and over with for now. I'll give you a massage after I'm done giving Celo an earful for not warning us about how long this tunnel was. He could have given us a snack basket for the way." Never mind that Lina had a feast not too long ago during the banquet rehearsal, she never turned down food.

The large chamber was as rustic as the rest of the pathway with plain brown cavern walls and a rocky dirt ground. There were torches round about, which suddenly became lit. Lina dispelled the orb of light that she was holding, seeing as it was no longer needed, though the torches lighting up by themselves were certainly suspicious. The redhead sorceress spotted a keyhole on the opposite wall of the chamber upon a golden tile. In front of it there was a large black jar with red drawings of octopus silhouettes. "There's the keyhole."

Lina approached a few steps, but stopped when the jar in front of her intended path began to shake as smoke came from it. In a matter of seconds the smoke became the shape of an octopus that towered in front of Lina and Gourry, occupying most of the spacious chamber with its colossal size. Just as the two humans prepared for battle, the strange octopus began to sing and dance, waving its tentacles around. "Octo, octo, octopus! Octo octo octopus! Octo, octo, octopus!" It bellowed in a terribly off-key voice surrounded by a strange glow.

Tired of the terrible singing, Lina shouted, "dance like a lobster!" She immediately covered her mouth in horror. She had been trying to say 'shut up already' and she certainly didn't want to encourage more dancing like an octopus, lobster or otherwise. That strange song and dance was a spell that made her speak in octopice. Perhaps getting rid of the octopus would get rid of the language problem, but how could Lina even begin to test that theory if she couldn't cast her spells? "My cookies are happy!" Lina cried out in frustration.

"I saw a pie flying through the sky?" Gourry attempted to ask something, albeit it was impossible to figure out what it was in his current condition.

"The sunflowers are coming!" Lina shouted in reply.

Seeing that he couldn't understand Lina and Lina couldn't understand him, Gourry sighed, "flat-chested." The remark earned him a slap from Lina, who was, understandably, in a very bad mood with the entire situation.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 086: Annoying! Tricky Treasure Guards

After the Dragon Slayers poisoned Filia and Phythan, Filia made Phythan take the only antidote and thus a new mission began to find a spell book that could heal Filia of her fatal poisoning. The needed book was in a vault underground beneath the wooden clock tower that required three keys to open it, which needed to be inserted into locations far from the vault itself. Looking to speed things up, the team took four separate paths with Xellos and Filia heading towards the vault. Lina and Gourry had the first key, Amelia and Zelgadis the second, Onyx and Phythan the third. Unfortunately, Celo and Tiffany failed to warn them that the paths were guarded.

Lina and Gourry found an unpleasant surprise in the shape of a giant octopus that used an incantation to curse them into speaking octopice, rendering Lina unable to cast any spells. "Octo, octo, octopus!" The giant octopus attacked Lina and Gourry, who jumped left and right of it to dodge the coming hits. "Octo, octo, octopus!" The beast swung its tentacles around, impacting the walls as Gourry and Lina jumped out of the way, and causing rubble to fall everywhere.

"Let's sit here and play cards for all eternity!" Lina warned, although it made no sense what so ever in her current condition. What she meant to say was 'that thing's going to bring this place down!'

The two continued dodging the tentacles, meeting in the middle of the chamber, where Gourry looked at Lina and stated with a stupid look of confusion. "Bare my children." Lina turned bright red, although Gourry's intended comment was a simple and innocent 'I don't understand,' in reaction to her random gibberish.

Lina flailed around, trying to communicate something that wasn't random. She pointed at the octopus and made a motion as if wielding a sword. Gourry finally got the message, nodded and went on the attack, chopping off the tentacle that was heading towards him. Two more tentacles followed from the left and right. The skilled swordsman jumped, leaving the two appendages to grab each other instead of him. He chopped another as he fell, then hurried to cut the next with an upward slash.

'Three down, five more to go!' Lina cheered, though in octopice it came out as "I will never be a memory!" She quickly dodged another tentacle that was heading towards her and attacked it with her dagger, stabbing at it repeatedly until she managed to cut it off. Half the tentacles had been cut off, leaving only four more to threaten them.

"Ogres are like onions!" Gourry exclaimed with confidence as he went on the attack again. He was trying to express 'we're going to win this!' He ran around the octopus causing the creatures remaining four tentacles to become tangled under it as it spun around trying to follow Gourry's fast motions. With the four appendages in a knot, Gourry leapt into the air and brought down his sword, chopping them all off in one final attack. "May the force be with you!" Gourry smiled at Lina, declaring 'looks like it's finally beaten' in octopiece.

The tentacle-less torso and the severed appendages glowed suspiciously, cutting the victorious feeling short. All the pieces turned to smoke and gathered together in a cloud. The cloud of smoke separated into four pieces that turned into smaller octopus in four different colors, blue, yellow, red and green. "Octo!" The yellow one screeched. "Octo!" The blue one squealed. "Octo, octo!" The green one shrieked. The four creatures surrounded Lina and Gourry, spinning around them in a circle and chanting "Octo, octo, octopus! Octo, octo, octopus!"

The ground beneath their feet began to glow within the circle created by the four colorful octopi. "They've got more fur than any turtle ever had." Lina urgently pointed out, which should have been 'I don't like what they're doing, let's attack!' She was really fed up with the octopice curse, octopus didn't have fur and neither did turtles, all that gibberish was getting on her nerves. Without further ado, Lina went on the attack, stabbing the yellow octopus with her dagger. The creature dissolved into smoke on contact as the other three began to spin around faster with the glow from the floor becoming brighter.

Following Lina's lead, Gourry attacked the green octopus with his sword, but instead of having the same reaction as the yellow one had with Lina, it split into two with the extra one becoming yellow so that there were four once more. "Octopus!" All four creatures shouted, raising their tentacles as the floor glowed brighter and threw Lina and Gourry into the air like with a Dill Brand spell. Unable to levitate, the pair fell painfully on the ground and the octopi's strange behavior continued. The previous scene was repeated again. "Octo!" The yellow one screeched, "Octo!" The blue one squealed. "Octo, octo!" The green one shrieked. The four creatures spun around Lina and Gourry, chanting "Octo, octo, octopus! Octo, octo, octopus!"

Gourry was about to go on the attack again, but Lina stopped him and shook her head. Knowing that her words would serve no purpose in effective communication, she pointed at the yellow octopus, which Gourry attacked. The creature disappeared into smoke just as it had before, causing the three remaining beings to spin around faster. Lina pointed at the blue octopus and Gourry attacked it. Just as with the yellow one, the blue one also dissolved into smoke and disappeared. Lina's theory was correct; they needed to be attacked following a specific pattern.

Unfortunately, the two remaining octopi sped up their spinning so much that Lina and Gourry could only see a mixed blur of red and green. Gourry looked at Lina awaiting her instructions. She tried to point at the green octopus and signaled a number two by holding up two fingers in her hand. Gourry looked at the blur around them and shrugged in confusion. Lina tried to point again, but at that speed it was impossible to see what she was pointing at. To top it all up, the ground glowed brighter and Lina had a feeling that they were soon to run out of time before the entire process reset itself and they had to start all over again. That, plus the inconvenience of being thrown harshly and painfully.

Trying desperately to convey a message Gourry could understand, Lina pointed at her hair and shook her head, trying to say 'not the red one.' Then she held up two fingers again indicating that he needed to attack the green octopus twice. Gourry looked at her clueless and Lina considered going on the attack herself, but as a magic user though she had some practice with a sword, she knew she wasn't as fast as Gourry in that area and thought she would probably miss. Lina tried to communicate again, pointing at her hair, shaking her head and holding up two fingers.

Gourry finally nodded with a smile and went on the attack, slashing at the green octopus twice. The creature disappeared into a dissolving cloud of smoke and the red octopus stopped spinning. The being declared, "octo, octo, octopus!" Before retreating into the jar from where it came.

"Oops, I missed... twice..." Gourry frowned, though his facial expression became more positive when he realized he was saying what he actually meant to say. "I can talk normally again!"

"Me too, I think," Lina tested, "yeah, I'm cured, finally!" She let out a breath of relief, though she had to ask. "What do you mean you missed? You hit that thing dead on even if it was spinning so fast, that was pretty amazing."

"Thanks, but I still missed, it doesn't look like it mattered too much though. Things worked out anyway," Gourry smiled.

"I still say you didn't miss," Lina insisted in confusion. "I was telling you not to hit the red one and to hit the green one twice," she explained.

"Really?" Gourry blinked in realization. "I thought you were telling me not to miss the red one and making a victory sign because if I managed to hit the red one we would win."

Lina considered getting annoyed at the misunderstanding, but decided not to. "Never mind, things did work out in the end," at least Gourry made an effort to interpret something from her signals. She walked past the jar with the golden key on hand and inserted it into the keyhole in the tile on the wall. She turned the key with a clicking sound and headed back towards the narrow passage that led to the large cave chamber. "That's it for our mission," if Celo wanted to lock the vault again, he could make his way over and retrieve the key himself. "Let's go back to the clock tower and have a snack, plus I did promise you a massage." Quite happy with the arrangements, Gourry followed Lina back through the tunnel from where they came.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Amelia and Zelgadis had also gone through an annoyingly long journey in a very lengthy and narrow tunnel. The tunnel led them to an underground river with a small boat on its side. On one end, the river flowed from below a wall of rocks and on the other end, towards which the soft current was moving, it flowed into a narrow tunnel. "I guess we're supposed to go that way," Amelia concluded, since there was no where else to go.

Zelgadis pushed the boat into the river, the moist soil of the riverside making it easy to move the small vessel in. "This trip turned out a lot longer than I thought."

"That's true, but it's not so bad," Amelia joined Zelgadis on the boat. They both sat there as the vessel was carried by the gentle current. There were no paddles anywhere to be found, but at least they were moving.

Giving it some further thought, Zelgadis concluded, "I guess not." Being alone in a dark tunnel with Amelia? That certainly didn't sound like a bad thing, plus he got to hold her hand the whole way.

The following river tunnel had many glowing crystals on the walls, though they were small enough so that the light was still dim. Amelia dispelled the orb of light she had been holding through their trek on foot in the previous area of the tunnel. "This place is beautiful," she leaned close to Zelgadis.

The chimera wrapped his arms around his beloved princess, "you're much more beautiful." They looked into each other's eyes in the dim romantic light until their lips met in a tender loving kiss. They were so focused on each other that they didn't even notice the river current speeding up considerably as they moved along downstream.

It wasn't until their new speed became so obvious that it was impossible to miss that the loving couple finally took note of it, but it was already too late. The small boat rocked wildly as it was carried through the narrow passage with the speed of a roller coaster. Amelia and Zelgadis held on to each other to avoid falling overboard. The crystals in the walls became less until the gray cave walls became bare and the tunnel was left in total darkness.

Suddenly, the small boat crashed into a rock that protuberated from the bottom of the thinning river. The old wood of the boat gave in and the vessel fell apart on impact, tossing its occupants into the merciless rapids. The tunnel became narrower with the water pressure increasing. Zelgadis and Amelia fought to stay afloat against all odds.

"Zelgadis!" Amelia called out, feeling that the harsh currents were pulling her away from him.

"Amelia, don't let go!" Zelgadis tried to hold on to her, but her small hand eventually slipped out of his and they were thrown around in opposite directions in the dark merciless river.

The currents pushed them underwater, taking each of them to separate subterrain tunnels that spat them out harshly into individual underground ponds of immeasurable depth. It was especially difficult for Zelgadis to try to get to the surface due to his added weight, being part rock golem. He casted an emergency Aqua Breathe spell and pushed himself up with a Diem claw spell. Zelgadis reached out his hand to grab hold of the edge of the deep pond. Just as he was about to reach it, he felt a hand holding on to his and pulling him out of the water, then he came face to face with Amelia.

"Are you alright?" She asked with a smile.

"Taking a deep breath, Zelgadis replied, "Yeah, I'm fine, are you okay too?" He looked her over for any signs of injury, but fortunately found none.

"Never been better!" She smiled brightly.

Zelgadis examined the area they were in, hoping that they were somehow still going the right way. He also hoped that there was another exit to the cave because it would be extremely difficult to go back the way they came. "It looks like we have no choice but to keep going."

Amelia nodded and they continued walking, their way once again illuminated by the glowing crystals on the walls, until they arrived at a point where the tunnel split into two. The left side seemed to lead to a new cave chamber, while the right hand tunnel twisted in a U turn back in the opposite direction behind the cave wall of that area. Assuming that it was more logical to keep going in one direction, Zelgadis picked the tunnel to the left, with Amelia quietly following him.

Zelgadis walked towards the chamber ahead and saw a silver tile on the opposite wall with a keyhole on it. Several feet away leaning against the gray cave wall next to the silver keyhole tile, there was a large mirror about eight feet tall and five feet wide, though its reflection was hard to see from afar in the very dim light of the cavern. "We finally found the keyhole," at least that was one problem out of the way. The chimera looked at the princess again, waiting for her to produce the key and when she didn't he inquired. "Do you still have the key?"

Amelia shook her head. "I'm sorry, I must have dropped it."

"In the water?" If the key had fallen on the ground, which was unlikely, then it wouldn't be so hard to find, but if it fell out of Amelia's pocket when they were being tossed in every direction, it would be practically impossible to find, especially if it fell into that seemingly bottomless pond.

"Probably," Amelia frowned apologetically.

"Maybe Celo has a spare," Zelgadis mused. Monsters were calculating, right? Celo was one of Beast Master's monsters; they were supposed to be cunning tricksters if Xellos was any indication.

"Maybe," Amelia agreed.

Perhaps that other U turn tunnel would lead them outside. Then they could have a word with Celo about this whole situation, throwing in a few complaints and possibly a few Fireballs while they were at it. As Zelgadis stood there looking expectantly at Amelia, she approached him and wrapped her arms around him. He returned the embrace somewhat unsure, "it's okay, we'll find another key," he reassured.

"It's not that," Amelia spoke softly; "I love you."

Zelgadis blushed at the sudden show of affection. "I love you too."

Amelia leaned closer whispering sweetly, "kiss me," she closed her eyes and tried to close the distance between them, but Zelgadis abruptly stepped back.

"Who are you?" He demanded to know.

"I'm your beloved," Amelia smiled.

"What's the name of my beloved?" Zelgadis asked suspiciously.

"Don't you remember my name?" Amelia looked sad.

"You're not her!" Zelgadis accused. He wasn't sure about it before, but suddenly everything made sense. "Why are your clothes dry?"

"I dried them with a wind spell," Amelia or rather, someone who looked like her tried to reason.

"When I surfaced in the water you helped me out of the pond as if I didn't weight more than a feather." Zelgadis knew Amelia was very strong and she had a mighty Pacifist Crush to show for it, but it would take a lot of bulging muscle to lift him so easily. "The real Amelia would be upset about losing the key; she would be worrying about Filia right now."

The false Amelia smirked darkly. "You could have made this so much easier on yourself, dying while kissing your beloved!" Her arms stretched out, becoming like water as her entire countenance melted into a watery monster. Zelgadis jumped back trying to dodge the incoming attack, his back a few feet away from the mirror. But the watery tentacles rapidly stretched and wrapped themselves around Zelgadis, instantly paralyzing him.

"Zelgadis!" Amelia's voice called out as the real princess arrived in the cave chamber. "Elmekia Lance!" The bright light of the spell collided with the attacking monster disintegrating it on impact. "What was that?"

"I think it was an illusionist water sprite," another voice very much like that of Zelgadis explained. It seemed that Amelia also had a companion with her that looked identical to Zelgadis. "I've heard about them. Touching them causes the victim to become paralyzed until they are released. They can cast an incantation to take on the shape of the one a person loves, even if they have never seen them before. Then every person would see the water sprite with the face of their beloved, until the sprite reveals its true form to attack. Be careful, this is clearly a trap." The false Zelgadis accused the real one. "They're setting us up to doubt each other!"

The illusionist water sprites were another of those creatures that were exceptionally tricky, but did not possess much of a defensive power against astral attacks. Thus they were hard to discover, but easy to destroy. Unfortunately, most people were unable to unveil their true nature until it was too late. "Don't worry, I won't be tricked!" Amelia pointed accusingly at the real Zelgadis. "Terrible creature, how dare you try to use my love for Zelgadis to trick me? You shall feel the rightful punishment of justice!"

"No, Amelia, I'm the real one!" Zelgadis tried to reason with her. "Just ask me something only I would know!"

Amelia wasn't about to stop her attack, holding out her hands towards the real Zelgadis she called out, "Elmekia Lance!" She turned at the last second and fired the attack at the false Zelgadis who became like water and disintegrated much like the other illusionist water sprite had. "Are you alright?"

Zelgadis nodded in relief. "Yes, I'm fine now. How did you know I was the real one without even asking me anything?"

"It's that mirror behind you, Celo said he had the mirror of truth and that it wasn't in the vault. I think that's the one," Amelia explained.

"I get it; the creature appeared in its true form in the mirror," Zelgadis concluded, not yet turning around to see the mirror.

"Actually, he was too far and it was too dark to see him clearly, but I saw your reflection." Amelia created a light spell so that Zelgadis could see himself on the mirror clearly. "Take a look."

Zelgadis curiously turned around not really expecting to see anything but his usual reflection, but he soon found himself staring into the mirror in shock. Amelia approached, standing next to him; her reflection was identical to the original one. Yet Zelgadis reflection didn't match his physical form. "This is," he looked at his chimera hand then reached out to touch the smooth surface of the mirror, a human hand mimicking the motion. "It's me... the human me..."

"It's like I've told you before," Amelia smiled as she lovingly hugged Zelgadis. "You're human on the inside and that's all that matters."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 087: Forward! Moving Step By Step

After taking a few more seconds to look into the mirror of truth, Amelia broke the long silence that hung between her and Zelgadis. "Time to use the key," she retrieved it from her pocket, thankful that it had not been lost in the water. She approached the silver tile on the wall. "I'm going to use the key now, Zelgadis."

"Yes..." Zelgadis continued staring into his reflection with bitter longing. This was who he could be, his human self.

"Let's be on our guard just in case," Amelia looked at Zelgadis for a long moment. He nodded in response to her warning, indicating that he had heard her, but didn't move an inch from his position staring into the mirror. Taking a deep somewhat concerned breath, Amelia inserted the silver key into the matching keyhole on the silver tile on the wall and turned it. The response was a soft click and nothing more. A few seconds passed and Amelia was about to conclude that there were no further obstacles in their mission, except making their way out of the cavern. Then a sudden earthquake shook the land, loosening a boulder above Amelia.

"Amelia!" Zelgadis rushed to her aid, though the princess had already gotten herself out of harm's way. The shaking stopped as did the falling rocks, to the sound of shattering glass as the culmination to the tremor.

Amelia glanced at the silver tile on the wall. "I hope the vault doesn't get stuck or something, that would be bad for Miss Filia."

Zelgadis nodded, wondering if the other keyholes were also this hard to reach. "Maybe this was the furthest key and the vault is opening right now. Anyway, since the key is already in, there's nothing more for us to do here. Let's just leave the key there and find a way out." He glanced back in the direction of the mirror, when the ground shook he focused on Amelia and the shattering sound was only a distant echo to him. Zelgadis approached the shattered mirror and picked up one of its pieces, hoping to keep it as a reminder of his human form, yet only a blue skinned chimera stared back at him reflected in the broken shard. "The incantation was lost; this is nothing but a normal mirror now." He bitterly tossed the piece away into the broken pile with frustration, looking at the pieces with disappointment.

Amelia wrapped her arms around Zelgadis lovingly; she knew he didn't want to give up on his cure even if he had accepted his current form. The urge to be fully human still emerged now and then. "It was just a mirror, there are plenty of mirrors in the world and you look handsome on all of them. Our mission is done; let's go back, there should be good news waiting for us."

Zelgadis returned the embrace as gently as he usually did, though Amelia held him tighter, so tight that a normal man would have been suffocated. He hugged her closer allowing himself to stop holding back; he understood that she was telling him to stop fearing hurting her, to hold her tightly. She smiled, her eyes shining like stars and once again, he was alright, he held all he wanted in his arms.

xoxox xox xoxox

Simultaneously, Lina and Gourry felt the tremor as they made their way back through the narrow tunnel. The rocks on their chosen path were rather loose and rained down upon them, though they were fortunately small enough not to cause any serious damage. The pair sped up their retreat, making a mad dash as fast as the enclose space allowed. "Celo's really going to get it!" Lina growled.

xoxox xox xoxox

The earthquake was of course also felt on the surface, with the lopsided wooden clock tower shaking and threatening to fall. The wood creaked in protest, but the tower somehow held together. The cups of an expensive teas set shook against the cup holders alongside the rhythm of a tiny silver spoon touching the edges of the cup as Tiffany stirred her tea. The shaking stopped as she placed the little spoon on the side of the cup plate and lifted the cup to her lips. After taking a sip, she placed the cup back down, savoring her warm tea. "Do you think Phythan and Onyx will be alright? He has only recently recovered and her amulet was broken, leaving her with no means of defense. Phythan will have to protect her and himself. Is that not too much?"

Celo considered the question while he took a sip of his tea, placing the cup down seconds after. "If all goes as planned, we will know what was sealed inside her. Survival instinct is a powerful force after all. If it does not work for Onyx, there is no need to worry, for the same reason Phythan should be able to muster the strength to keep them both safe. The guards are not too strong, not for a group like them."

"I do not believe that Onyx is powerless, with or without the mysterious something that was sealed in her," Tiffany pointed out calmly. "Perhaps there is another reason for her body's adversity to magic, such as it not being an adversity at all, but rather an overload."

"I agree," Celo stated with a smile. "I believe that her condition is different from the initial theory. If we are to use the pool and bucket analogy, where the pool is one's total magical power and the bucket is the portion that can be used at once, then maybe it is not that she is allergic to magic or that her pool capacity is microscopic. Perhaps her problem is that her pool capacity is too great, but her bucket capacity is nearly nothing. She has power, yet she is completely unable to use it. Hence when she is exposed to magic, her own pool of energy reacts wanting to manifest itself and being unable to do so is suffocating, that's why it hurts her."

"Interesting..." Tiffany voiced. "Yet forcing her bucket capacity to act beyond its limits would mean certain death..."

"Unless the something sealed inside her prevents it," Celo agreed. "I must say, it is quite an honor to be able to assist General Xellos in his mission concerning Onyx, even if he is unaware of my assistance. Seeing the opportunity, I simply had to take it, or rather, I was all too happy that it was taken for me. The chance to assist the amazing General Xellos was handed to me on a silver platter!"

Tiffany giggled, "you're such a fan boy. At least you didn't have to come up with a cheap excuse to send them on a hunt for the book, since they actually need it."

"Yes," Celo grinned victoriously, "they also couldn't have chosen better routes to take."

"Of course, dear Filia is in no real danger; the book should be one hundred percent effective against her poison, should it not?" Tiffany inquired, though she didn't really need an answer.

"You know how it works, beloved; the enchanted kiss of healing is only as powerful as the love itself. If the taste from their emotions is any indication and it is indeed, I would have to agree that it should for certain be one hundred percent effective," Celo confirmed. "I just hope the others never find out that the keys were not really needed to open the vault and that they don't actually do anything. None the less, this is an amusement park and it is my duty to entertain my guests."

"I'm sure they're enjoying themselves in their own way," Tiffany agreed with a smile. "Even if they might not admit it."

xoxox xox xoxox

The tunnel that Onyx and Phythan were going through felt annoyingly endless. The ground suddenly began to shake and the fact was ignored by Onyx, who continued walking as if she didn't notice. "Miss Onyx, we need to... um..." Phythan remembered what he was told to do during an earthquake for the sake of security, but he knew they wouldn't make it back to the surface before the shaking stopped. Besides, they needed to get the key to the proper place as soon as possible, Filia was counting on them. Plus there were no solid columns to stand next to or desks to crawl under. "Never mind, it's over. We should hurry." It was a pity that the space was too small for him to transform and fly.

"Quiet," Onyx growled; she had been rather moody lately. Then again, it was understandable since such a long walk through a tunnel without an end in sight could put just about anyone in a bad mood. The scenery was plain, lacking the pretty glowing crystals that could be found in certain areas of the tunnel that Amelia and Zelgadis traversed. The cavern was lit only by the orb of light that Phythan held.

xoxox xox xoxox

Xellos and Filia had their own annoyingly long tunnel to journey through on their way to the vault. The trek was made more difficult by the fact that Filia was starting to feel feverish. The sudden earthquake made her stumble to be caught by Xellos. He, as expected, had a thing or two to say about how she was such a "stupid clumsy dragon."

Sadly, Filia didn't have the energy to reply in a clearly audible voice. She could only mutter something about "raw garbage."

The tunnel that Xellos and Filia were traveling through was a particularly annoying one in the sense that it was covered in sand, the ground, the walls, the ceiling, it was a wonder it even held together, especially through the recent earthquake. It had started out as soft porous beige rock that turned softer as they went along until they were surrounded by sand. The sand drifted from the walls and ceiling with many particles falling on Xellos and Filia. The tunnel held a spiral gentle current that guided the sand as if being pushed into place by an invisible drill, making the tunnel, with the travelers walking straight through it.

The tremor had loosened more sand that fell of Xellos and Filia in a very unpleasant and annoying shower. Xellos brushed the sand off his hair and shoulders with a disgusted look upon his face. The particles fell to the sandy ground and continued their spiraling motions clock-wise, up the left wall and down the right one. Xellos lifted his feet, noting that the motions, although much less dangerous than quicksand would sink them if they didn't keep moving. He dragged the feverish Filia along with him, who seemed too out of it to know the difference between up and down.

Xellos brushed some of the sand off her hair as he went along; knowing that in a few more seconds it would coat her again. "We probably have enough sand on our hair and shoes to make our own private beach, we just need the water." Xellos sarcastically declared, adding with a little less exaggeration. "Or maybe just enough sand to make a sand box for Val to play in."

Filia looked at Xellos for a long moment as if giving some serious consideration to his words. Taking note of that, Xellos gave his own idea some further thought as well. Then they both agreed, "no way." After this annoyingly sandy experience, Filia wasn't in the mood to clean sand off her floor in the future whenever Val ran inside the house after playing in the sand box. As for Xellos, he hated getting sand on his hair, so he rather generally stay away from it in the future if it was at all possible. Besides, even if the beach had a lot more sand than a sand box, somehow a sand box always managed to be messier.

xoxox xox xoxox

Following their perilous journey, Amelia and Zelgadis took the U turn tunnel and walked along the cavern until they reached another pond. It was the place where Amelia had fallen, behind a stone wall on the other side of which was the pond where Zelgadis fell. There was another small tunnel connected to that cavity, which they explored. The tiny tunnel began with a few crystals on its walls, but they soon became less until there were none. A simple light spell was enough to solve the issue of not seeing where they were going as they continued their arduous journey.

Zelgadis had insisted on leading the way, just in case something aggressive and potentially dangerous tried to leap at them, but it didn't look like anything was coming. Finally, the narrow tunnel came to an end that Zelgadis hoped wasn't a dead end, though he feared it was. There was indeed a wall in front of him, though a ray of hope, thin and fragile but very much present, still existed in the form of an oddly protuberant square on the stone wall in front of him. Fearing the worse and hoping for the best, Zelgadis pushed the block in and the wall lifted itself up.

The chimera and the princess stepped through, finding themselves behind a row of plastic mint green leaf bushes with hot pink roses on them. The stone wall behind them went down again and it didn't look like there was any mechanism to reopen the passage from that side. The pair made their way past the row of bushes to find a calm little stream with couples riding on tiny white boats adorned with red and pink hearts. There were hearts and flowers all over the cave walls, decorating the surrounding surfaces with cupid statues here and there.

"The tunnel of love," Amelia concluded, which was indeed good news. "If this is one of the resort's rides, then that means making our way out from here will be easy!"

"Great, I've had more than enough of caves for a life time." Zelgadis would be all too happy to see the surface again. Sure, walking through a tunnel hand in hand with Amelia was nice, but walking through the surface hand in hand with Amelia felt even nicer right now.

xoxox xox xoxox

Onyx and Phythan finally reached a large cave chamber that seemed to be the end of their tunnel. A large stone statue of a golem stood in front of them, ominous yet motionless. The tired golden dragon, who was feeling the effects of not resting after recovering from his poisoning, and the moody human girl, who was generally upset with life, walked around the golem and caught sight of a bronze tile on the opposite cave wall with a matching keyhole on it. Without a word, Phythan inserted the bronze key into the keyhole and turned the key with a soft click.

Phythan had been quiet since Onyx ordered him to. He gave a thumbs up sign and smiled, signaling that their mission was done, albeit Onyx was already walking away past the golem and towards the tunnel from where they came. It looked as if they could make it back without incident; as Onyx was already within the narrow tunnel that led back to the clock tower basement. Phythan hurried to join her, until a peculiar sight made him freeze in his tracks.

The insect was tiny, it was black and it had many legs. The tiny thing scurried across the cave chamber a few feet in front of Phythan, paying him no mind what so ever. His face paled, his body trembled and he screamed at the top of his lungs, "spider!" His loud voice echoed all over the cave chamber and through the narrow tunnel. The small bug was startled and hurried away to hide between the cracks on the rocks.

The damage was already done. The stone golem's eyes glowed in an orange light as it came to life, its black stone body stepping forward. To top it all up, it looked like many spiders had made the motionless golem their home, thinking that it was only part of the cave's structure. The panicked bugs abandoned the giant in a multitude that scared Phythan out of his mind, leaving him to scream like an insane idiot.

Onyx looked back with a deadly glare in her dark eyes. "I'm not going back to get you, stupid," she growled in a bad mood. "You're a dragon, you have power, you're not a weakling, so quit acting like you have no strength of your own and get over here!"

"Miss Onyx, the spiders, they're all over! Levitation!" Phythan levitated above the spiders that coated the cave floor allowing his orb of light to float above him and adding more to it. "Light! Light! Light!" He couldn't risk one of those terrible tiny creatures sneaking up on him because he didn't see it in the darkness. "Miss Onyx, I'm scared!" The stone golem batted Phythan away with its large solid hand, sending him to crash against the opposing wall.

"Idiot!" Onyx growled, not moving from her position in the safety of the narrow tunnel where the golem was too large to fit. "It was your cowardly loud mouth that woke that golem. We could have left without incident if not for you!"

"I'm sorry, Miss Onyx!" Phythan cried. "Be careful, the spiders are heading towards the tunnel, they're going your way!" Onyx nonchalantly lifted her boot, squishing the first of many spiders under it. She continued with an odd little dance, crushing as many spiders as she could as they came. "You're so brave, Miss Onyx!" Phythan's admiration was cut short by the rock golem delivering a solid punch that once again threw him against another wall. The guardian beast was tired of being ignored in favor of a few measly insects.

"Hey idiot, can you at least beat that golem?" Onyx called out at the end of her already limited patience.

"Oh... yeah..." Phythan took in a deep breath and shot out a massive laser breath that collided with the center of the golem, shattering it into tiny pebbles with ease. Unfortunately, the golem was full of spiders that rained upon Phythan, who scream in a panicked terror, "fireball!" The frightened golden dragon stupidly set himself on fire in an effort to get rid of the spiders that were crawling on him.

To make matters worse, the pebbles that formed the golem dissolved into black sand that began to reform itself into the shape of a big black spider. Two of the spider's legs wrapped themselves around Phythan as soon as he put out the fire, before he could push out the last bit of his energy to finish healing his burnt skin. Terrified beyond words and unable to do as much as scream like a pathetic idiot, Phythan awaited his demise, suffocated painfully by a spider of black sand after suffering terrible burns.

Onyx clenched her fists and glared. She was a failed experiment, she was powerless, helpless. Such feelings were supposed to be relatively new to her as the world itself should be for a monster who was supposedly so recently created. Yet the feelings felt old, as if she had been withstanding them for so long that she was ready to snap... and she did. If she was so worthless then she had nothing to lose by attacking. When she failed to survive the battle, Beast Master would probably be happy that the failure was disposed of.

Onyx recklessly charged forward towards the black sand monster, not caring if she didn't make it out alive. She didn't understand why she wanted to help Phythan. She didn't understand why his mere existence began to infuriate her more and more with each passing day. All that Onyx knew was that she never felt so determined before and there was a certain bittersweet quality to it.

To be Continued
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