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

Episode Thirty-Seven

by Mikari 0 reviews

Category: Slayers - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Published: 2012-06-25 - Updated: 2012-06-26 - 10291 words - Complete

Slayers: Alive - Episode 109: Strain! Worries and Concerns

A dreadful silence hung in the air of Amelia's room at Seyruun castle as Sylphiel revealed her diagnosis. If Amelia didn't get over the terrible sorrow that had taken over her heart, she would die. The gentle Sylphiel dared not speak such words so directly, but everyone knew what she meant by saying that Amelia's energy was escaping her.

"That means Amelia is going to..." Xellos was about to deliver a more direct rephrasing of Sylphiel's verdict in his usual mockingly cheerful tone that he used to speak of bad news, but a warning glare from Filia was enough to make him reevaluate his words. It was not in his best interest right now to seriously offend Zelgadis, Philionel, Naga or any combination of them and the others present. Xellos had a feeling that in their full wrath he would be overpowered in his human state and this time Filia wouldn't step in to save him from their punishment.

Yet he had already opened his mouth and let a few words escape. As a result, everyone was looking at him, or rather glaring murderously at him. Xellos knew they were waiting for him to say something inconsiderate so they could hurl the nearest blunt object at his face, or a spell, or a not very pacifistic pacifist crush. "Be okay because she's an overly cheerful justice freak who's the bane of any monster's existence?" Xellos finished unsure.

Unanimously, all those present nodded, save for the unconscious Amelia of course, releasing Xellos from their deadly glares. They might have to put up with his mocking sarcasm when he was a monster, but until he recovered his power, they wouldn't allow him to misbehave too much. The unwilling hopeful encouragement gave way to a justice speech from Philionel, with Naga adding her own twisted version of justice to it and it all spiraled into randomness from there. Thus all those who witnessed the event were further convinced that the Seyruun royal family was a little bit insane... or maybe more than just a bit.

xoxox xox xoxox

Far from Seyruun, in the mountains where Milgazia's group of golden dragons lived, he had just finished sharing the abundant chocolaty treats with his friends, not revealing where they came from. He just told them someone sent them as a gift, but didn't specify what kind of gift. The chocolates were safe, so it was okay to share them, all except Zelas' special cannibalistic treats of course. "Justice, no!" Milgazia pulled the box of chocolates away from the canine that was trying to eat them. "Chocolate is bad for dogs, I'll give you some food that's good for you."

Milgazia didn't really keep the pale yellow husky as much as the dog stayed on his own. He showed up one day in front of the mountain cabin, surprisingly unafraid of the many fully transformed dragons in the area. Milgazia felt sorry for him and fed him, from that point on, the dog would hang around and follow him as much as he could. When Milgazia flew to places that the dog could not reach, he would simply return to the cabin and wait there. Since he kept staying, Milgazia kept feeding him and before he knew it, he had a pet. He named the pale yellow husky 'Justice' after a dog that appeared in the Fluffy and Ice-cream comics that resembled him.

Milgazia placed a dish of food on the floor for his pet. It was true that food was scarce, but he couldn't let his little friend starve, he felt responsible for his well being. Besides, while Justice could not eat the chocolate, Milgazia could, so Justice could consume the food Milgazia would have otherwise had. Then again, Milgazia was on a diet anyway, so as to not appear appetizing to the murderous culinary inclinations of a certain monster lord.

xoxox xox xoxox

Jillas, Elena, Palou and Val had returned to the town of the Vases and Maces shop. Filia thought it was best that way, so that they wouldn't be so close to that dangerous being known as the Void. Amelia was still unconscious. Philionel was called over by the royal council to address the threat upon their kingdom and had to take care of his royal duties. Naga claimed she had a plan and occupied herself searching for something in the castle vaults with some help from Gravos. No one really knew what her plan was.

In the mean time, Zelgadis remained at Amelia's bed side, watching her and giving her words of encouragement, hoping that she would wake up soon. Lina was restlessly assaulting the castle's food supplies with Gourry, continuously stating her frustration with the situation. The enemy had taken way longer to beat than any past one and she was at the end of her patience, especially with the whole famine situation to pressure her.

Filia and Xellos were in their new shared room at the castle. It was a mix of purple and pink, as some of the furniture from Filia's old room at Seyruun was moved to a larger room for them to share. The worried golden dragon paced around impatiently, while her husband watched her walk and rant, from his position on the purple couch among the pink heart shaped cushions. Xellos made a mental note to get rid of those ridiculous cushions later, when Filia wasn't looking. "Are you even listening to me, Xellos?" Filia stopped her pacing abruptly and Fili walked into her, as the cub had been following her, walking in circles.

Fili shook her head to clear it, then walked over to Xellos, standing on her hind legs, her front paws on his legs in an obvious indication of wanting to be picked up. "You worry too much, stupid dragon. It's obvious Beast Master has a plan." Xellos picked up Fili, letting her sit on his lap. Her reaction before the Void showed up was interesting; she somehow sensed that being was coming even if no one else did. Maybe it was a beast's instincts, Zelas must have that too and so would Xellos if he wasn't stuck as a human.

"You may be able to trust her without knowing what you're getting into, but I can't." Filia sat down next to Xellos, joining him in the activity of petting Fili's soft pale yellow fur.

"We don't have a choice," Xellos reminded with his characteristic mocking grin.

Filia huffed, "I know." She leaned back on the couch and looked at the wolf cub, that didn't look entirely like a wolf. "Fili's pretty dog-like for a wolf, isn't she?"

"That's because she's a mix breed mutt, she doesn't even look like her mother, though most of her siblings do. She was the ugly runt of the litter. I guess she reminded me of you because she's a pitiful, pathetic and hideous creature." Xellos smiled with the same cheer he always used to insult Filia. Little Fili whimpered, licked Xellos and wagged her tail. "See what I mean? She's hideous and pathetic."

"Don't listen to him Fili, come here." Filia picked up the little cub and cuddled her. "You're the cutest puppy I've ever seen."

"You have terrible taste." Xellos shook his head in mocking disapproval. "I'm not surprised though, you are a golden dragon and Fili looks a lot like Milgazia's ugly pet dog. All golden dragons have terrible taste."

"Really? In that case, I'm sure Milgazia's pet is adorable!" Filia adamantly assured. She paused going over the notion in her head again. "Wait, how do you even know Milgazia has a pet dog?"

"A yellow husky with blue eyes named Justice, nothing like Zelas black wolf with golden eyes, Chaos," Xellos revealed. "It shouldn't surprise you that I know this, Beast Master has monsters keeping an eye on all the happenings of the world, especially lately. It's only a matter of time before she sees it fit to share some information. Whenever the time comes for my true mission, she'll give me all the detailed specifics then." Going back to the topic of Fili, Xellos remembered just why he decided to keep her as a pet. Sure she looked harmless, but she had a highly volatile fighting spirit that violently came out when she was provoked, even if she was a total sweetie the rest of the time. "Her siblings don't really like Fili very much. It was kind of funny watching them gang up and pick on her, but then she fought back and gave them worse bites and scratches than they did to her. She can be such a temperamental sadistic little mutt."

"Fili's a sweetheart, I'm sure she only fought back in self defense, didn't you, honey?" Filia hugged the puppy that was named after her, then a thought finally clicked in her head. "Is Fili the daughter of Chaos and Justice?"

"It took you that long to figure it out?" Xellos mocked.

"I never would have guessed Milgazia and Zelas' pets knew each other." Filia defended, still in deep surprise over the revelation.

"A monster who was walking Chaos lost track of her while trying to get two chores done at once, walking her and spying on the golden dragons. She was eventually found, but she had already gotten into mischief by then. Milgazia's dog is the only one in that area, plus the color and mix of races fits the description, so they must be his cubs. I don't think Milgazia even knows and Zelas isn't about to tell him. Even if they're mutts she said she was keeping all the cubs to herself. Fili's the only really ugly one that looks like Justice, the others look mostly like Chaos," Xellos explained.

"That's not fair," Filia pouted. "They're Milgazia's puppies too, they're his dog's children after all. He should get to keep some."

"Nah, Milgazia would train them to be wimpy. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are better off growing up with Zelas' other wolves," Xellos reasoned. "Then they can learn to terrorize humans like proper wolves should."

Filia pouted, but knew any further arguments would be in vain. Even so, she at least had to express her surprise at the names. "Clyde I can understand, but Blinky, Pinky and Inky don't exactly sound like ferocious names."

"When you have thousands of pets, you start running out of name ideas," Xellos defended. "Besides, you have to give Beast Master credit for actually remembering them all."

"I'll admit to that much; it's quite a feat if she actually remembers all their names." Filia cuddled closer to Xellos. She couldn't precise when during their peculiar conversation she shifted positions, but she was cuddling close to him now, resting her head on his shoulder while Fili napped on her lap. Now that Filia's head was a little clearer, she brought up the previous subject again. "What kind of vision did you get from the Void?"

"That was random," Xellos teased. "I thought you had forgotten what we were talking about before. It's quite unexpected for your tiny brain to be working overtime like this. Be careful, that single brain cell of yours might overheat and cause you to combust."

"Xellos," Filia insisted for her question to be answered. She was going somewhere important with all of this. It was something that she needed to discuss with Xellos sooner or later, so it might as well be now.

"It was nothing important," he nibbled on her neck, creating a momentary distraction. Though Xellos no longer had his empathic abilities, he still knew by the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes when Filia was going to jump into a serious topic that made her worried and emotional.

"Don't distract me," Filia's tone and actions didn't match her words as she gently placed the sleeping puppy on a cushion on the couch next to her and shifted to face Xellos, already half on his lap. "I relived the whole Darkstar incident and the most difficult parts of our recent journey. I saw it all in my memories and I also saw memories that weren't mine, a vision meant for Val that I'm glad didn't reach him. What did you see?"

"The destruction of the golden dragons, the plot to turn them against the ancient dragons and what happened when we met Beast Master at the spa... All of that in a short instant," Xellos confessed, seeing that Filia wasn't simply going to drop the subject. "I could tell the visions were altered though, a series of what ifs that would have significantly changed the present if they had occurred that way." Filia didn't press the matter further, but nodded in understanding. "What's eating you, stupid dragon?"

Though the question had nothing to do with it, the phrasing reminded Filia of the dragon cuisine from her wedding party and she shuddered involuntarily. Focusing on the matter at hand again she shared the worries that had been floating in the back of her mind since she saw the vision from the Void. "Val was reborn and he's an innocent child without any bitterness or malice right now. Even so, who is to say his past memories are not locked deep inside him? What if those memories surface when he's all grown up? Even if we try our best to raise him properly," she paused and rephrased. "Even if I try my best to raise him properly while you teach him to get into mischief, he might be upset that his past was hidden. But then, if we do sit down to talk about it when he's old enough to understand, before his memories resurface, it might bring unnecessary bitterness if his memories turn out to be forever gone."

"Then don't tell him," Xellos simply suggested.

"What if his memories do come out and take him by surprise?" Filia questioned urgently. "Worse yet," she shared one of her deepest worries concerning Val. "What if his memories partially come out while he's still a child, he'll be confused and in pain. Then if his memories come out completely when he's still young, the progress that he's made living a peaceful life might be too little."

"You do realize that you're stressing out over something that's not even happened and might not happen, don't you, stupid dragon?" Xellos disregarded the worries, or at least he tried to, but it didn't quite work on Filia.

Filia wasn't about to drop the subject so easily. "This is important! Val is my son and I love him. If he's sad I'll be sad too."

"You certainly get attached fast, not that I'm surprised," Xellos mocked, much to Filia's annoyance. "There's nothing that can be done about such things. What happens, happens and that's all there is to it. You've already thought about the possibilities, so in a sense you've already mentally prepared. That's all that can be done."

Filia searched for something to say, a counter argument to throw out that would make Xellos understand, but she came up empty. Of course, this was Xellos, carefree detached tricky Xellos. He cared about her, she knew, and she dared to think he was quite fond of Val too, but he knew that worrying didn't help any situation and was quite capable of taking each day as it came when that was the choice placed before him. He was tricky and plotting, but he didn't overanalyze things. Her face was red with frustrated anger, her eyes glaring fiercely. "You're very inconsiderate sometimes, you know that?"

Xellos smiled proudly as if he had just been complimented. "I do hope you're not expecting me to console you and say that everything will be okay. As odd as it may sound coming from a monster," because he originally was and fully expected to recover that status when the time was right. "I prefer not to lie if it can be helped. Things might turn out well, or horrible, who knows." He smiled cheerfully as if the uncertainty was a good thing.

Filia huffed at his response, she would probably die of shock if he suddenly started acting all fluffy, it didn't fit him and that was okay really... She was probably really weird for admitting this even in the privacy of her own mind, but his vexation was sort of charming in a very annoying way, an oddly endearing annoying way. "I'm going to keep my hopes up no matter what you say. I'll raise Val well and give him a good childhood, so that even if his past memories still exist and eventually come out, he'll be able to let go of past bitterness."

Any further conversation, or other non-conversational activities between Xellos and Filia, had to be postponed due to the insistent knocking on the door. Filia, who was concerned that it might be an emergency, hurried to open the door to find Fang in his almost human form with the fox ears and tail. "Did something happen?" Filia urgently inquired.

"Lots of things happened," Fang happily informed. "I'm here to get Xellos; Lord Beast Master wants to talk to him!"

It didn't take more than a split second for Xellos to curiously appear at the door. "Let's not keep her waiting then." He stepped around Filia, standing next to Fang. Before they faded into the astral side, Xellos gave Filia one last glance and reminded her, "don't forget you still owe me." The last thing he saw as he was transported away from Seyruun castle was the blush that began to form on her face, replacing the puzzled look that momentarily crossed her features, when she realized he was referring to the promised honeymoon she still owed him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Fang transported Xellos back to Wolf Pack Island where he headed over to the throne room where Zelas liked to sit to receive reports. The fox monster chimera left him when they reached the location, thus the monster general priest turned human and the monster lord found themselves alone like in those many occasions when Xellos came to give her confidential reports. This time the tables were turned in the informative sense. Xellos was not there to give Beast Master any vital piece of information, but rather, he was there to receive information.

"The second phase has clearly begun, it is time that you understood the whole story," Zelas spoke in a serious tone that pierced the sound waves around her. Xellos nodded quietly and paid attention as Zelas continued. "The interpretation of the situation has been vague from the beginning. Continuous studies have been taking place while at the same time you underwent this training, which is indeed vital. To give you the summary from the beginning, the Lord of Nightmares expelled something from herself that kept her as an unchanging eternal being. That something was known as the Stillness. As a result of the Lord of Nightmares turning into a dynamic being capable of changing, she thus became the Mother of All Things and the worlds emerged from her."

With the introduction out of the way, Zelas moved on to more closely address the problem. "The Stillness was broken into three parts that compose a cycle with an order that should not be altered. The first part, Lamentation, affects the physical body. That part was kept out of the world by the semi-dormant presence of the Lord of Nightmares that formed a sort of shield around the world, while a portion of the Lord of Nightmares was able to, though rarely did, interact with the world. When Lina Inverse called upon the power of the Lord of Nightmares against Fibrizo, the Lord of Nightmares momentarily awoke fully and came close to reabsorbing the worlds. That possibility, as proven by the fact that we are still here, did not happen as the Lord of Nightmares released Lina instead. Even so, that event was not without consequences."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 110: Information! Theories and Alternatives

At Wolf Pack Island, Zelas continued her explanation for Xellos. "When Lina fought Fibrizo, the shield from the Lord of Nightmares around the world was momentarily brought down and Lamentation entered the world. It fused itself with the remains of the Green Alchemist and set a series of events in motion, which are as you witnessed. As for the other remaining pieces of the Stillness, they are the Void and the End. Where is the End and what exactly is the End still remains unknown to me, but it is likely that Lamentation was the only fragment that was kept out of the world until recently. The others most likely entered the world during its creation and remained dormant in their hosts, waiting for the missing piece. As for the Void, it was dormant inside an elf girl, the nature of her condition unknown to those around her. We misunderstood her too, but it has all been revealed. The Void was inside Yuuyami, or Onyx as she is now called."

"That Void is the same being that attacked at Seyruun?" Xellos concluded.

"Yes," Zelas confirmed. "Lamentation comes first to weaken the body, then the Void to weaken the mind. This problem is worse than I expected, even us monsters will suffer losses if this goes too far. We are relatively unaffected by the famine of Lamentation, if anything we benefit from the despair. Enough negative energy has been accumulated faster than monsters can consume it. In a sense we delayed this without knowing it, but the Void is free now, thanks in part to the cycle of despair and in part to the Lord of Nightmares herself. That was the purpose of the spell casted on Onyx, to weaken the seal."

"All of this happened because of Lina going overboard with the Giga Slave. It's just as it has been forewarned," Xellos recalled with a strangely amused grin.

"Maybe even in larger proportions, hearing about the end of the world is always different from witnessing it." There was no worry in Zelas' voice, instead there was excitement. Even if she did choose to torture the world in eternal chaos and not to let it end, she still enjoyed the despair. She just had to make sure the world didn't break to pieces completely or the despair would cease to exist along with everything else. "This is the second phase; the Void will try to push people into such a deep depression that they'll denounce their emotions in apathy and hopelessness."

"From negative emotions to a lack of emotions," this was the dangerous part, Xellos realized. "Monsters would have nothing to feed on."

"Worse yet, even monsters will begin to question their existence after being surrounded with such emptiness. Emotions play an important role for a monster, as does identity and a sense of self. Monsters are astral beings, thus cannot be affected by Lamentation, but the Void can seriously affect monsters," Zelas warned. "That means we'll lose our precious fun and chaos and we can't allow that."

"This really is the end of the world. The Stillness wipes out the physical part and even the mental part leaving nothing. Not even chaos, especially not chaos. So it's my mission to stop all this and ensure that the world continues to exist in chaos." Even so, Xellos still had a very important question that he needed to clarify. Since Zelas was feeling so generous in sharing information, he thought he might as well get the full story now. "Why was it really necessary for me to become human?"

"So that you may have a shield," Zelas explained. "Though Lamentation is tainted with the remains of the Green Alchemist, the Void is almost pure and will most likely eventually unite with Lamentation. The being that comes of that fusion will be much more powerful, especially in the astral sense, as that is the original nature of the Stillness. A purely astral being, such as a monster, would be in terrible danger getting too close to the main components of the Stillness. So far you've fought minions, but have not faced the boss. Attempting to fight as a pure astral being would only place you in danger of being absorbed. Your physical body will serve as a shield to guard your astral body, keeping it anchored to the material world. This is not without consequence, as your human body is mortal, however, this is a needed danger given the situation. In the end, it is the only effective strategy."

That clarified a lot for Xellos. By those terms, it meant that Zelas would not be personally joining the fight. "Am I to go to battle now?"

"That is not possible at the moment. Our research indicates that one part of the Stillness can restore the others. Right now, the End is hidden, thus there is no known method of winning. Furthermore, Lamentation is hiding deep underground behind a shield of astral energy that my monster chimeras could not enter. I have a plan to get through that shield that will be set in motion soon." Zelas left it at that, not specifying what exactly her plan was. "In the mean time, your mission is to fight the Void and weaken it as much as possible. It is likely that it will retreat and unite with Lamentation if it is weakened. That is alright; let the Stillness further become impure with the remains of the Green Alchemist; perhaps that is the true meaning of the Gaia prophecy."

"Another prophecy about Gaia? The one where Gaia saves the world from an invader from beyond the stars?" Xellos inquired.

"Yes, though the Gaia theory is flawed, if we place the Green Alchemist in its position, then the fact that the Stillness fused with the remains of a once dynamic being will weaken it. It will connect with the planet and try to use that in its advantage, stealing the planet's energy for power, but it will also become further impure, being exposed to a thing of change. The Stillness is nothing, in its pure form, it is possible that it cannot exist for long." Zelas revealed. "Even the so called pure fragments such as the Void are also slightly tainted to a lesser extent, due to the time spent sealed away inside a living being of change, of chaos. Maybe they kept Lamentation in existence in the place we call Sea of Chaos from a distance after slipping into the Lord of Nightmare's shield before it completely surrounded the world, appearing sealed in different people through the generations."

"It's all very complicated, like some sort of legendary mythology," and Xellos didn't really like to make things overly complicated, he liked to make them fun.

"These are all different theories, but maybe in an alternate timeline somewhere, if such a thing exists, the Stillness remained whole and pure. It disintegrated soon after it came out of the Lord of Nightmares, to be forever forgotten, or rather, never known," Zelas mused aloud. "In such a place, none of these events would have happened. Yet I would imagine that certain key things would sooner or later fall into place in their own way, even if it is with different specifics and different timing." Tired of too much seriousness she added. "Maybe in a place like that I actually have time to dedicate myself to sports and become a world class brass rackets player, without any unfair aid from my monster power, as that would make it far too easy. I suppose it is up to me as the future brass rackets champion of the world to make sure there is still a world, unlike those incompetent golden dragons."

"That sounds like a fun timeline," Xellos considered the possibility. He wouldn't be cursed, he wouldn't be temporarily human and he wouldn't have to suffer from all the hardships of that condition. But he knew that he would still pop over to the Vases and Maces shop on occasion to annoy Filia. Those visits would amuse him and he would end up making them more frequent, until one way or another he and Filia would stand in a similar situation to how they were now, even if it took some time longer. Xellos surprised himself in thinking that, because he never would have guessed when this all started. He didn't expect it to become so long term, so close, but now somehow he knew that it was simply who they were, regardless of if there was a situation to give them a push or not. "What about the golden dragons' incompetence? Wasn't that already a well known fact?" Xellos joked, the serious discussions were over and now they were just chatting.

"I have received reports that the golden dragons have been playing brass rackets a lot lately, well, that was mostly just Milgazia," Zelas explained. "He's on a diet and exercise plan or something, it's a pity since I was hoping to cook him, but even with all the food I've so kindly sent him, he'll never be meaty enough on time for the dinner of ingratitude. As for the golden dragons in general, they're overseeing the gathering of supplies, they've decided to cut all ties with the Green Alchemist and they've reevaluated their previous plans to allow the Green Alchemist to take out as many monsters as possible before doing something about it. It seems they finally became sufficiently concerned with the famine. When the Stillness is defeated, the monster race will have such a feast during the harsh recovery process the world will have to go through. Speaking of brass rackets and golden dragons, I want to play brass rackets with your pet dragon again, for real this time. I held back and humored some silly rules last time, but when this is all over, I want a real brass rackets match."

"If you're going with the classic brass rackets rules all the way, then you can't make the match one on one," Xellos reminded. "My master or my pet, who shall I partner up with?"

Zelas chuckled, truly amused by her general. "Partner up with your pet and I'll take you both on. Unless I find an amusing partner, which I doubt."

"If you don't eat Milgazia, you could invite him to play," Xellos suggested as a joke. "I didn't have the chance to properly annoy him last time I saw him and would like to make up for that."

Zelas rolled her eyes at the idea of Milgazia as her brass rackets partner. "I don't play with my food."

Soft knocking was heard on the throne room door. First Fang peeked in, unsure of if he should be interrupting or not. "Um... Lord Beast Master, Tiffany says she needs to talk to you."

Celo soon peeked in as well from the opposite site in the middle of the two doors. "If you're not too busy that is." He excused his wife, the look on his face hinting that she had been driving him crazy with her insistence to speak with his very busy boss.

"Let me through," Tiffany squeezed in through the small opening between the door in the middle of Fang and Celo.

"Golden dragons are so rude," Zelas criticized, which unlike how it sounded was actually a good sign, since she was throwing taunts at the golden dragon race rather than throwing an attack at Tiffany for the interruption. "You may go now, Xellos. I will contact you with further details as they become available."

"As you wish, Lord Beast Master," Xellos left, along with Fang, back to Seyruun castle via the astral side. The general priest was pleased with the progress despite the seriousness of the situation. At least he found some comforting familiarity in being given a mission by Beast Master and discussing information with her, though this time she was the one providing the news.

After Fang and Xellos had left, Zelas gave Tiffany a serious look. The golden dragon had been joined by Celo standing before the monster lord, the throne room doors closed behind them. "I do hope you have a good reason for your insistence," Zelas warned.

"I do," Tiffany assured with a conflicted and somewhat sorrowful look upon her face. "Celo, darling, please leave me alone with Lord Beast Master now." Celo looked utterly surprised. He had no idea what Tiffany could possibly need to talk to Zelas about that she couldn't share with him. Zelas raised a curious eyebrow as Celo opened his mouth to speak. With the most reassuring expression she could muster, Tiffany cut him off, speaking first. "Go on now, honey, Zelas and I can't have ourselves some girl talk if there's a man present."

"Right..." Girl talk? That was obviously an attempt to lighten the situation. Whether the coming conversation could be classified as girl talk was doubtful. Celo would guess it would be closer to fitting into the category of serious secretive talk that he would rather be informed about. But alas, Tiffany refused to tell him. He wondered if this was her way of getting back at him for not sharing certain aspects of his job despite their marriage. He had thought, and she had assured, that she understood that there were things a monster simply could not talk about to anyone, things that had to remain between master and minion. "I'll wait outside then..." Dejected and worried, yet still putting up a commendably believable respectful and calm front, Celo exited the throne room.

As soon as the doors were shut and Beast Master nodded, indicating that they were indeed in the liberty to speak in full privacy, Tiffany began her seemingly unrelated, but vastly significant story. "A long time ago when I still lived with the golden dragons, I had odd dreams like prophecies that frightened me, thus I did not share them with anyone. I would spend my seemingly peaceful days building rock dolls with Filia and having little tea parties. Then one day what I was, what was sealed in me became evident. I thought that if I died the end of the world would be adverted. I ran away and foolishly tried to take my own life, that day I will always remember..."

xoxox xox xoxox

A young golden dragon maiden ran through a field of flowers a considerable distance away from the Fire Temple. She stopped, out of breath, and took a dagger in her hands. The sheath and handle were adorned with jewels indicating that the blade was meant as a decoration rather than a real weapon. Nonetheless, it was sharp enough to serve its purpose. She should be fragile enough in elf form so that piercing her heart would bring forth her death; or at least her eventual death by leaving the wound untreated. She would twist the dagger in her chest and make certain that the crimson liquid kept on flowing out continuously until her life faded away.

She put her plan into action, plunging the dagger into her heart and allowing herself to fall to the ground covered in flowers. Blood flowed as her heart continued to beat against the metal blade, showing the hidden strength of a dragon despite being in her most vulnerable form. She gripped the handle, intent on twisting the blade until her heart became so torn that it stopped beating.

A shadow obstructed her view of the peaceful clear skies of a beautiful sunny day. "I thought the golden dragons discouraged suicide." The shadow that obstructed her view was a man with amethyst eyes and black hair. He was smiling at her with a meticulously respectful tone of voice, slightly elongated fangs visible in his current expression.

Tiffany loosened her grip on the dagger, instead merely holding it in place, her heart still fighting to keep beating. "What manner of creature are you? A human who has made a pact with a monster? I have no interest in associating with a being such as you before my death."

"Would you associate with a being such as me in life then?" The man respectfully inquired, his question seemingly ignored. "Forgive my rudeness, miss. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Celo Metallium, a monster who has been united with a human to become a chimera. My human side was a scientist, a mad scientist according to some. I have been driven to build trinkets and machines by the instinct to create that came from him. May I show them to you and have your opinion, miss?"

"Be gone, wretched creature!" Tiffany weakly scolded, her senses fading from the lack of blood, as her heart became weaker against its wound that could not be closed.

"To be called a wretched creature by one who throws her life away does not feel fitting." Celo gently removed Tiffany's hand from the dagger, the blood being absorbed by his white gloves, staining them red. He pulled out the dagger slowly, her pulsating heart seemingly thankful for the release. Her head felt light as he casted a Resurrection spell on her wound. It was healing magic that she did not expect a monster chimera or any being related to the monster race to know, let alone be willing to use.

"To be saved by one who claims to be a part of the monster race is not fitting." Tiffany argued, though she did so without much energy, still laying in a pool of blood that was being absorbed into the ground among the white and yellow flowers that had been stained in red.

"This chimera state is a troublesome and interesting thing," Celo admitted. "Although, truthfully I admit it is not as simple or insignificant as compassion. It is not something so short and passing. What I find in you is something deeper, it is puzzling curiosity." He sat on the ground next to her, watching as she rested among the blood tainted flowers. It would take her body a while to regenerate all the lost blood as she came dangerously close to dying. "What is it that you wish to run away from?"

Tiffany remained silent. Her sacrifice was not guaranteed to help anyone. Her fright at realizing what she carried had made her act rash and foolish. If anything, the thing sealed in her would be passed on to someone else. Perhaps it would turn out to be someone who misused it and caused pain to those who were dear to her. At least this way she knew where it was. She had figured out the truth beyond vague dreams and feelings, the truth within her secret fascination with death. "Myself..." she finally replied in a quiet whisper.

"I do apologize for being so blunt, but is that not foolishly over emotional? Even I who has little experience in handling such matters would find a better reasoning than this. Or is it because I am inexperienced that my resistance has not yet been consumed as yours has?" Celo inquired. "I cannot picture myself wanting death, even after a long time of living with the vexing hardships of not being a pure monster."

Tiffany slowly sat up next to him, her pale peach dress ruined with blood. She couldn't go back home like that. "I've changed my mind." She glared at Celo with challenging eyes. "For you to be so open and so smug with false respect, you think you're in no danger, you think I'm very weak." She chuckled mockingly as she got on her feet. "Wretched being, I'll kill you!" If she fought a monster, or something that was close enough to a monster, she would have a good excuse for her bloodied state. Besides, she couldn't let him go spreading rumors about her attempted suicide. Plus slaying a monster was by most dragon standards a noble cause.

Celo got on his feet, jumping back to put some distance between himself and his foe, taking a defensive stance. "Pardon me if I have offended you miss, but I'm afraid I must offend again and point out that you are quite ungrateful." It was ironic how he could maintain such a respectful tone all through the exchange. "I must inquire again, even if I admit it is not my place or business. What was it that drove you to this? What kind of tragedy could make a golden dragon wish to exterminate herself?"

"The kind of burden that you could not reproduce for other golden dragons to bear, even if I told you exactly what it is." Tiffany bitterly challenged. She said nothing more before triggering a transformation that turned out to be a fatal mistake. She had lost too much blood. Her body had not finished becoming a dragon before it reverted back to her elf form and she fell unconscious.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 111: Survive! Hope Is Hard To Kill

It was night time in the kingdom of Seyruun and all was quiet. Zelgadis looked at Amelia's still sleeping form. "Amelia..." He gently caressed her face. "Naga said that you were sad because of your mother. You can tell me about what happened if that will help, but of course you need to be awake for that. I'm sure your mother was a very kind person. I know you must have heard this a lot, but I'm sure she would have wanted you to be happy. I wonder if I should really be encouraging you to tell me, if I deserve that trust. I haven't told you much about my family and past. I do trust you; I guess it's about time I told you..."

xoxox xox xoxox

"Rise and shine! It's a new day and life is wonderful!" Philionel's loud voice echoed all over Seyruun castle as he made his way to Amelia's room.

Zelgadis jumped awake and fell out of the chair he occupied next to Amelia's bed. He picked himself off the floor and yawned as Philionel led a parade of people into Amelia's room. The prince was carrying a large box full of things that had been stored for years, following him was Naga, who was carrying another box while laughing loudly. After Naga came in Gravos, Lina, Gourry, Filia and Xellos, all of them looking quite sleepy. Phil stopped, as did Naga, with Lina continuing with her automatic zombie march along with the rest of the parade behind her. Xellos bumped into Filia, who bumped into Gourry, who bumped into Lina, who bumped into Gravos, who bumped into Naga. The eldest Seyruun princess lost her grip on the box she was holding, spilling its contents all over Phil, who in turn dropped his box and spilled its contents all over Zelgadis.

Thankfully, the contents of the boxes were not particularly heavy, save for a few of the books, other than that the collection of scarves and hats were light. "What is this about?" Zelgadis inquired as he tried to untangle himself from a peculiarly long shiny pink scarf, seeking to free up his hands enough from the entrapment of fabric so that he would be able to remove the large aquamarine hat with purple feathers from his head.

"Amelia and I would play dress up with mom's clothes when we were little and pretend we were all grown up as princesses who would soon be visited by our princes," Naga explained. "It was all such good fun, ah, ha ha ho ha ha! Mom wouldn't want Amelia to be sad, so we'll remind her of that. Then when she wakes up, we can work on some more of mom's special sweets recipes."

The mention of sweets made Lina and Gourry wake up instantly. "Hurry up and wake up Amelia, we have sweets to make and eat!" The gluttonous redhead loudly declared.

"Five more minutes, stupid dragon," Xellos muttered. He was between awake and asleep, slightly waking up whenever someone was particularly loud and starting to fall asleep on his feet again soon after.

Naga dug around the mountain of things they brought over and pulled out a feathery pink scarf and a big red hat with a golden bow. "I remember that you really liked these." Naga placed the items on Amelia who was... staring right back at her.

"She's awake!" Naga, Phil, Lina, Gourry, Gravos and Filia chorused. Xellos woke up momentarily again at the loudness of the combined exclamations. He soon fell asleep again seconds later, leaning on Filia.

"My little Amelia, I'm so happy you're awake!" Phil exclaimed with fatherly pride. "I've cleared my schedule for the whole day to spend time with my lovely daughters and wonderful friends. Join us in making all sorts of delicious treats, just like your mother used to make. She would not want you to be sad. We'll honor the memory of her cheerful light that always brought a smile to us all!"

"Amelia, when did you wake up?" Zelgadis stared at her in relief and surprise.

"It was sometime last night," Amelia confessed. "I was... I guess the best way to describe it was to say I was trapped in a nightmare. Zelgadis opened up to me and gave me encouragement. I remembered that mom used to say that one day I would meet my prince and he would make me very happy, so I should try to give him that happiness too. Mom was brave and kind; she wouldn't want me to live in regret and sorrow. After I realized that, I woke up. It was very late and Zelgadis fell asleep before I could say anything, so I let him rest." Amelia's eyes held the silent promise of a long personal conversation with Zelgadis later. "Sorry I didn't say something sooner, with all this I could only stare." Amelia jumped off her bed with the endless energy she was known for. "Let's spend the whole day playing dress up and making delicious treats to enjoy!"

"I second that motion!" Lina cheered.

"And I third it!" Gourry added.

Among cheers and chatter, the group went off to the kitchen to work on the recipes that were the late queen's legacy. Filia paused on her way and tried to wake Xellos, who didn't look like he would be done sleeping any time soon, it was very early in the morning. She hugged him close and whispered in his ear, "chocolate ice-cream pie."

Xellos jumped awake, looking in every direction, "chocolate ice-cream pie? Where is it?" Seeing Filia giggling in amusement, he pouted. "You're a terrible person, I mean a terrible dragon, lying about sweets."

"Oh come on, there will be plenty of sweets soon, if Lina doesn't eat them all," Filia smiled. "I want to learn some of those recipes the queen left too."

Now that he was awake, Xellos was once again back to his mocking and teasing self. "With your poor cooking skills, it would be an offense to Seyruun."

"Look who's talking," Filia argued back as they hurried to catch up to the group at the Seyruun castle kitchen. "You shouldn't even be allowed in kitchens, you ruin any meal you try to prepare. You even managed to mess up preparing a bowl of cereal. Remember when you put salt in it instead of sugar? You're a disaster as a chef, raw garbage!"

"That was you and your sabotage, stupid dragon!" Xellos argued. Their bickering continued as it was usual for them, strangely contributing to the sense of normalcy and the fragile notion that everything would be okay that the group was trying so hard to hold on to.

xoxox xox xoxox

Zelas Metallium, known by the title of Lord Beast Master, faded into existence out of the astral side in the mountains where she expected to find a lively gathering of healthy dragons waiting for her to hunt them down. Instead she found that the skies were clear, devoid of any large golden flying reptiles, and boy did they hate being called reptiles. With growing disappointment, Zelas slowly walked deeper into the mountainous valley and turned the corner behind a tall rock formation. She made no effort to hide her arrival since the dragons were no match for her power. Her multiple golden bangles and anklets jiggled together clashing against each other as she proceeded with her rather noisy, but none the less very elegant, model walk. She was wearing a sleeveless white dress, with a long skirt slit up to the thighs on both sides, the pale fabric contrasting with her bronze skin.

Lying on the ground there was a dragon in elf form, wearing sports attire. Not too far from that one, there was another similarly dressed dragon also laying on the ground motionless, but still alive. As she gazed, forward she found another dragon in the same state as the others, and another and another. There was also an elf girl among them, who she recognized as being Milgazia's friend from the wedding party. She was on the ground in exhaustion just as the others were. "I must admit that for the longest time I've been wishing that the dragon race would just fall over and die, but I never thought my wish would actually be granted, especially so suddenly and for no apparent reason." That was a sarcastic lie as Zelas would very much prefer to hunt the dragons herself. She didn't want them to become extinct though, not if that meant not being able to prepare her favorite dragon cuisine dishes ever again.

Footsteps were heard approaching the area in a hurry. Milgazia arrived on the scene, though instead of his usual formal dragon robes, he was wearing shorts, a shirt and sneakers that, similar to his comrades attires, looked like something worn by people while playing sports. "Beast Master," he would have sounded confident and challenging, ready to defend his comrades any way he could, yet at the same time calm and diplomatic, if not for the fact that he was so terribly out of breath, so he could only manage to sound very tired.

"Who nearly exterminated your clan without inviting me to join the party?" Zelas tried to look appalled that someone had done something so terrible and it wasn't her.

"No one," Milgazia made a valiant effort not to look exhausted, but it was simply impossible at the moment. "They are only resting after the tournament."

"Ow, uncle... It's going to be your fault..." Memphis seemed to finally muster the strength to speak. "It'll be your fault if Beast Master kills us all because we don't have the strength to fight after what you put us through." The elf growled tiredly, followed by the groans and whines of agreement from the fallen golden dragons around her.

"Betraying your clan and torturing them to death?" Zelas gasped in exaggerated surprise. "How shocking, I never would have guessed. Allow me to congratulate you on losing your status as a goody-goody. I would give you a congratulatory pat on the back, but you're all sweaty and icky, so I really don't want to touch you."

"I didn't kill or torture anyone, we just played brass rackets," Milgazia quickly explained, not that it was any of Zelas' business anyway. "Why have you come here?" A part of him already knew the reason. Zelas might be there to fight him to the death in hopes of turning him into the main ingredient of her next batch of dragon cuisine.

"I'm grocery shopping, or maybe I should say grocery hunting," Zelas gave him a wolf-like grin. She walked in a circle around Milgazia, shaking her head in disapproval. By the looks of it he went for a jog after his stream of brass rackets victories and it didn't look like this exercise regiment was something he had only started today. "You've lost weight, how unappetizing. What ever happened to those lovely calorie-filled gifts I know were delivered to you? Didn't you eat them? You're a terribly ungrateful dragon!"

Milgazia held a small victory in Zelas' disapproval, which was interrupted by the growling of his stomach. That in turn made him pause in awkward silence before he could voice any sort of comeback.

Zelas put on an expression of obviously fake concern, with no intentions of even pretending it was real. "Listen Milgazia, I know you're hideous, but starving yourself won't fix it. All golden dragons are terribly ugly and there's nothing they can do about it. That's just the cruelty of nature. Nonetheless, a chubby dragon can be kind of cute from a chef's perspective. If you want to look better, you need to stuff your face until you weight at least twenty tons." That was saying plenty since his normal weight in dragon form was around seven tons.

"I would prefer to stay as I am," that was a lie. Milgazia would very much prefer to change a certain detail about his current state, he wanted a full stomach instead of a starving one. Alas, this painful diet was all for the necessary cause of not becoming part of the monster lords' diet.

"Nonsense, you're too thin." Zelas argued with an annoying amount of politeness, as if she was simply too superior to get angry and argue on equal terms. "That aside, I am curious about your mention of the fine sport of brass rackets. Have you truly played against your whole clan, not that Xellos left all that many alive, until they became this exhausted?" Of course, Beast Master wouldn't be Beast Master if she didn't add some sort of cruel remark to the mix, accentuating it with a cheerful tone.

Milgazia decided not to fuel Zelas' mocking victorious moment by acknowledging her comment about his clan and instead simply answered her question. "We played brass rackets one on one and I won all the matches. Though I don't see why any of that would be of any consequence to you."

"Of course you don't," Zelas mocked, "golden dragons have such little insight after all. For your information, I happen to like brass rackets. I can't cook you in your current state, you don't have enough meat in you and none of the other dragons here seem high quality enough for my level of culinary genius. Nonetheless, I do want to kill you for ruining the amazing dish I planned to turn you into. However, I'll give you a chance to live. I don't expect you to win, as that would be far too much to ask for. Albeit if you actually managed to put up a fight in the brass rackets court, I'll let you live as a potential sports rival, not that anyone could ever be worthy of being my true brass rackets rival."

That was certainly a very unexpected turn of events. Milgazia knew that he had no choice but to agree, but that wasn't such a bad thing, he was confident in brass rackets. "I accept your challenge."

"Then let's go," Zelas faded into the astral side, reappearing moments later in a brass rackets outfit with her alternate sporty look that she used when playing her favorite game. She carried an official brass racket as she made her way deeper into the valley, following Milgazia to the court that had been set up earlier. "One on one, other than that the classic brass rackets rules apply. Broken rackets mean we get a new one. The ball going out of bounds won't stop the game either. Our duel will end when you fall."

"Or you," Milgazia added as he took his position on the court opposite to Zelas.

"Keep up those impossible dreams, they might give your attitude the illusion of confidence and make you last a little longer in brass rackets combat!" Zelas mocked with more energy and enthusiasm than anyone would imagine her to have over a brass rackets match. This was different from her playtime with Filia; this would be a real duel.

The tired dragons and Memphis made their way to the area around the court and sat at a hopefully safe distance from it to watch the match unfold. "Are you sure about this?" Memphis called out with distrust from the sidelines.

Milgazia took a moment to examine his opponent as if trying to read something in her eyes. "Yes, this fight will be fair." He would most certainly expect a monster, more so a monster lord, especially one with a trickster reputation, to use all sorts of dirty tactics to get what she wanted. But he could tell that brass rackets was a special exception for Zelas, it was something, possibly the only thing, in which she would fight fair. Besides, if Zelas really wanted to commit mass murder and eat all the dragons in his clan, she could do so without granting him this opportunity. Milgazia could already sense her suppressing her own monster super strength and regulating her physical prowess so that it would not interfere with the real essence of brass rackets, the power of the attitude, the very soul. "I am curious, tell me Zelas, what makes you respect this fine sport so much?"

"I am an astral being," Zelas stated simply, yet meaningfully. "As such I have little interest in most sports. I can shape my body anyway I want and sports are, in most cases, about physical abilities, they're about breaking the boundaries of the body's limitations and training it to be the best it can be. Such limitations do not apply to astral beings, thus I cannot identify with most sports. Brass rackets is different. It doesn't matter how weak or strong the body is, all that matters is the power of the soul, the astral form, the essence. This is a real competition. Have you seen a true brass rackets tournament? A real master doesn't even need to run around the court, but rather attracts the ball towards the racket with their own intense aura. A true brass rackets master has no use for the abilities of the body, only the skill of the mind. Yet true masters are extremely rare, even in the big leagues."

"I see, so this is one of the few sports that a monster can truly compete in," Milgazia understood. "Then let this duel begin, would you care to serve?"

"Gladly," Zelas set the match in motion with an appropriately aggressive serve.

The magical glowing sphere rocketed towards Milgazia, who held strong to his determination and sent it spiraling right back to the monster lord. Zelas returned it with a curve, sending the ball to spin behind Milgazia. However, he saw the play and called forth all his power surrounded in a golden aura. The ball altered its course and flew straight towards his racket as if being called by an irresistible magnetism. Milgazia returned the sphere to the opposite side of the court, the magical ball glowing golden.

Zelas' own black aura appeared around her, exuding power into the atmosphere as she called the sphere to collide with her racket and sent it flying back at her opponent. The ball kept getting bigger with each blow it received; the energy waves around the area were massive.

The spectators watched in awe. This was nothing like any other brass rackets match they had ever witnessed. They had thought Milgazia was merciless in the court for the sake of training them for the battles that may be soon to come, but now his comrades realized that he had been holding back. This was the true power of the dragon lord; this was his impressive unbreakable will.

The golden glow around Milgazia intensified as some of his more dragon-like features began to slightly show, albeit he managed to keep his elf form for the most part. His tail was out, he usually had complete control over it, but this time it just slipped out as he focused on the duel of brass rackets. It would be a pity when he noticed he just ruined his favorite brass rackets shorts. Aside from the tail he also had pronounced fangs and claws.

The look in Zelas' eyes was predatory and wolf-like. Her fangs were showing and the short, wing-shaped pale orange hair of her alternate form was changing into a spiky gold mane. Golden wolf ears replaced her human ears and a wolf tail was peeking out of her brass rackets skirt. The partial transformation was completed with the glowing silhouette of ivory wings on her back, her true form was a golden winged wolf. Some might say that the wings made her look unfittingly angelic, but a single glance at the hunter's face with that terrifying glare would make them take it back. The wings were only an irony, that aside, she was the image of a ferocious beast, the image of a frightening predator.

The powerful duel continued, making the mountains around them tremble from the high energy vibrations. Then finally, Milgazia's racket cracked and the top part broke off, leaving him with only the handle as he sent the ball back at Zelas.

Zelas' racket was just about to break apart too, being exposed to her constant aura. The monster lord tried to return the sphere, but the cracks on her racket were already too deep and it was reduced to nearly dust as the ball flew past its remains and disintegrated a mountain behind Zelas. "As stated in the beginning," Zelas' voice was echoing and ominous, yet strangely alluring. "A broken racket does not signify the end of the battle."

To be Continued
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