Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Slayers: Alive ❯ Chapter 5

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Slayers: Alive - Episode 013: Beautiful! Princess Parade

The first dress Amelia tried on was yellow, with the skirt arranged in a way that made it look like curtains. The top part was cut similarly to Lina's dress, without the line of pearls. Amelia looked cute in the dress, but with a lack of a point of comparison it felt too soon to decide. "What do you think?"

"Not many people can pull off yellow like that," Lina nodded in approval.

"That's true, it looks good, but it would be nice to see the others too." Filia had a feeling that the choice might be a closer race in this case than how it was for Lina, who ended up with two not so great dresses and a gorgeous one, making the choice obvious.

"Okay! Here comes the next one!" Amelia cheerfully went to change into the next dress. The second dress was light blue with a different cut, small semi-puffy thin sleeves around the shoulders and decorative fabric over the skirt on the sides in a lighter blue than the dress. Sure, the first skirt looked like curtains, but it looked better than this one with the two round pieces of puffed up fabric on the sides.

"I think this color brings out your eyes more," Filia truthfully declared.

"Yeah, but I liked the style of the other one better," Lina finished.

Filia nodded, "I guess they both have their positive points. Maybe the style of the other dress with this one's color," Filia suggested.

"I wonder if they have it," Amelia mused, "before I go ask about it, I'll try on the last one from the three I picked out." Amelia repeated the changing process swiftly. Being a princess, she had more experience with gowns then Lina, thus she didn't get into any fights with any stubborn zippers. "Here's the third one, it's mostly light blue too, what do you think?"

The judges' silent faces adorned with awed expressions spoke volumes. The dress had a simple and classic heart shaped cut on top with a heart shaped pale sapphire in the middle. It started out almost cerulean, quickly fading into a shade of sky blue until the end of the skirt finished in white. A thin see-through layer of fabric was over the dress with abundant silver glitters, parting at the sapphire heart like a thing cape around the dress, falling over the figure hugging skirt that turned flowing past the hips. Amelia looked even more beautiful than a princess was expected to look in a ball gown, she looked like an angel.

"How beautiful, I think this is the one!" Filia finally spoke, voicing her approval.

"Definitely!" Lina immediately agreed, "Forget asking about that other dress in a different color, you should get this one! Zel won't be able to keep his eyes off you!" She teased.

Amelia blushed, "I hope he likes it," she whispered shyly.

With Amelia's dress chosen, Filia was the last one who needed to pick a gown to attend the ball. "Okay, it's my turn," she drew in a deep breath. She hoped that one of her chosen dresses made her look a stunning as the effect the proper gowns had on Lina and Amelia. When that annoying Xellos saw her he would be speechless and his expression would be absolutely priceless. Then she could tease him about it and throw it in his face over and over. Wait a minute, why was she even thinking of Xellos? She was supposed to be thinking about impressing her date, that golden dragon guy... Phythan, yes, Phythan, she was dressing up all pretty for him, not for Xellos!

Filia emerged from the dressing room in a pink dress with round sleeves and an oval shaped sapphire brooch on the chest. The skirt faded into a deeper shade of pink at the bottom. Filia liked pink and it did look nice on her, but the truth was that during their travels, everyone had gotten used to seeing Filia in pink, so the color didn't present much in the way of novelty.

"It's pretty," Amelia sincerely commented with a smile, "it fits you nicely."

"But it doesn't stand out," Lina finished for her with more directness. "It's definitely your style and maybe that's just it. You need something different. Something that Xellos isn't expecting you to wear."

"Xellos?" Filia's glare landed dangerously on Lina and she growled in a warning tone. "I'm not going to the ball with Xellos. I have a date, there's no reason for me to get stuck hanging out with him. Besides, Phythan hasn't really seen me in pink, so it will be new to him. I'm trying on the other dresses anyway, but not because I want to impress Xellos!"

Before Filia could retreat into the changing room, Lina stopped her with an interrogation. "Phythan? Who is this Phythan? Your new boyfriend?" Lina realized sourly that if Amelia was with Zelgadis, Gourry was with Medusa and Filia was with that Phythan guy, then she would be the one to get stuck with Xellos.

"He's not my boyfriend!" Filia blushed. "He's my date," she corrected. "I met him at the resort and he gave me ice-cream. He's very nice and he's a golden dragon too."

"How wonderful, Miss Filia," Amelia congratulated. "I'm happy that you found a nice date for the ball. Introduce him to us later, okay?"

"Sure," Filia's agreement came up somewhat nervous. She appreciated her friends, she really did, they were just a little eccentric. She finally retreated into the dressing room, leaving Lina to contemplate her woes. Filia emerged a few minutes later with a new dress on. This one was yellow in a style very similar to the first. It also had a brooch, this time an emerald, with its frame shaped like a flower. It had orange puffy oval shaped decorations on the sides and an orange line at the end of the long yellow skirt. "What do you think of this one? Is yellow enough of a novelty for you?" As in not for Xellos?

Amelia and Lina looked thoughtful, "this one is pretty too," Amelia finally said, "but I think I liked the first one better," she admitted.

"Yeah," Lina agreed, "we're used to seeing you in pink, but I guess it does bring out your hair."

"I knew pink was the right choice," Filia nodded to herself. She was still a little disappointed because her impression on the judges didn't measure up to the judges' impressions on her. Maybe she was simply one of those people who didn't look all that different than usual in a dress. Both Amelia and Lina could be tomboys, Filia rationalized, so even if Amelia was a princess, given that the group wasn't used to seeing her in full princess gear all the time, they both looked very different in dresses. Plus they usually wore pants and the group was used to seeing Filia in a long skirt, so the long skirts of the dresses, though much fancier and puffier, didn't seem all that different. It wasn't that she looked bad; Amelia and Lina had assured her she looked good, she simply wasn't a novelty, she wasn't impressive...

"Aren't you going to try on another one?" Lina inquired. It was true that the past two dresses both looked nice on Filia. Sure, the pink one was appropriate and pretty, but it wasn't her ideal dress.

"What for?" Filia inquired as she emerged from the changing room in her vacation clothes. "I already picked the pink one. We don't have that much time anyway and we still need shoes, accessories and masks. Not to mention that we need to do our hair and makeup." If the dress alone didn't make her look amazing, she would go all out with every other aspect of the outfit.

"You might find a dress that you like even more," Amelia scanned the boutique, her eyes landing on emerald fabric. "What about that one?"

Lina joined in the effort to find the perfect dress for Filia, pointing at a black dress, "or that one."

Before Filia could protest, Lina and Amelia had bolted towards the dresses and were bringing them over for Filia to try on. The golden dragon shook her head, "I don't think this is really necessary," Filia insisted, though a part of her wanted to keep trying to find the right dress to impress Xe... Phythan.

Lina and Amelia held the dresses out to Filia. "Come on, try these on, you might like them." Lina insisted as she took Filia's pink dress out of her hands and gave her the black one.

"Okay..." Filia finally agreed and once again retreated into the changing room with the black dress on hand. She emerged soon after wearing the black dress Lina suggested and looking embarrassed. The dress was certainly form fitting, but the part that bothered Filia the most was how it opened in the middle of the chest in a long diamond shape. The two pieces of black fabric were held at the neck by a silver choker, and at the waist by a matching belt, the back left bare. Filia adjusted the dress on her chest, knowing that she wouldn't be able to take her hands off it, for fear that it might slip out of place, leaving her in a very embarrassing situation. "I can't wear this," she definitely decided.

Lina tilted her head to the side and considered the matter. "I guess you're right, the black does make you look a little pale. Maybe if they had this same style in a different color..."

"No," Filia insisted, her tone of voice leaving no further room for doubts. At this point, Filia had given up and only took the green dress Amelia was offering her for the sake of humoring her, since she had already humored Lina. She didn't expect to like the dress, but after she put it on, her mind changed. Filia emerged from the dressing room receiving the approving looks of her insistent advisers. The dress was a vibrant emerald green accentuated with golden lines. The heart shape cut of the top wasn't too prominent, with gold lines swirling from the chest to the waste, fading as if they were drops of water on the flowing green skirt. The end of the skirt had a few drops of gold for an artistic and elegant look.

"You look beautiful, Miss Filia!" Amelia gave her approval and Filia knew that she wasn't saying it just to be nice or simply because this was the dress she suggested.

"Amelia's right, it looks like you've found the perfect dress for the ball!" Lina completely agreed, never mind that it wasn't her own suggestion that was picked. She couldn't deny that the green dress suited Filia better than all the others she had tried on so far.

Filia smile triumphantly, yes, this was exactly the kind of dress she was looking for. She couldn't wait for the ball; she couldn't wait to see the look on Xe- er... Phythan's face when he saw her in that dress. Then her world fell apart on her head as her jaw dropped and she pointed at a figure behind Lina and Amelia whom the other two couldn't see before.

Lina and Amelia turned around to see a woman who looked very much like Filia, wearing the exact same dress as Filia. They had to look back and forth between the two women for a moment before it sunk in that they weren't seeing double. The other woman had, not only the same dress, but also long blond hair that was almost the exact same style as Filia's. There were some differences in their facial features, mostly the color and shape of their eyes, but they had the same style of pointed ears. "Your long lost twin sister?" Lina couldn't help it but to ask.

"No," Filia managed to push the word out with disappointment.

It looked like the woman was too focused on modeling the dress for her boyfriend, a brown haired human with a knightly look to him, to even notice that she was in the presence of a look alike wearing the same dress as her. The man was in turn too focused on his girlfriend to notice either. All in all, only Filia, Lina and Amelia seemed to be aware of the predicament that Filia and the woman were facing.

"She's not even a dragon," Filia observed, focusing in sensing her energy, looking for answers. Sure, energy could be hidden, but in this case, the woman wasn't trying to. If she had been a dragon, even if Filia had never met her, she would consider going over to talk to her not about the dress, but about the possibility of them being relatives and having been unaware of it their whole lives, but the woman wasn't a golden dragon. "She's an elf," Filia informed, catching a trace of their rare but unmistakable energy.

Elves were rare in today's world, few were left alive and even fewer decided to live among humans. Yet the elf woman seemed quite happy as she emerged from the changing room in her normal clothes with the dress in hand and, linking her arm with her boyfriend, they merrily strode over to pay for the dress. The happy couple was saying something about the masquerade ball from what they could hear. Filia thought she overheard their names as being Deedlit and Parn.

"She's buying it? The nerve of her!" Lina was ready to defend Filia's dress, but Filia's hand on her shoulder stopped her.

"It's okay," Filia insisted, trying to make Lina calm down. "She didn't even see us, it's not her fault. Besides, she already bought the dress and look how happy they are about the ball. Let's not bother them."

Lina pouted, "you can't show up in the same dress as your look alike! If not for the difference in species, I would seriously suspect that she's your twin, or at least your sister."

"I'll pick another dress," Filia concluded. She could have simply settled for the pink dress that she had intended to choose at first, but it didn't feel good enough anymore. Letting out a deep breath, she changed back into her vacation clothes, discarded all the dresses she had tried on so far and went in search of a new one.

As Lina, Amelia and Filia browsed around the boutique, a few suggestions came up on Filia's possible dresses, but none of them seemed right to Filia. "Maybe this one..." it was kind of flashy, not in an elaborate sense, but in the sense that the fabric was golden and very shiny, the light bouncing off every inch of the dress. Filia went to try it on while Amelia and Lina looked around some more. "What do you think?"

The judges shook their heads almost instantly with Amelia focusing on finding a polite way to express her disapproval and Lina holding her hand over her eyes. "You're blinding us with that, it's too shiny!" Lina found an eloquent way to express their mutual concern and Amelia was left to nod in inevitable agreement.

Sighing at her prolonged dress dilemma, Filia changed back into her vacation clothes and continued browsing. She spotted some pretty purple fabric and reached out to have a better look at the dress. She instantly withdrew her hand as if it had been burned. It was the same color as Xellos' hair and that made it automatically hideous. She glared at the dress as if it had personally offended her, then examined the one next to it. It had that same deep shade of violet found on Xellos' hair, but that was only on the details, as the majority of the fabric was instead a softer shade of lilac. Filia's hand tentatively reached out for the dress, wondering if she should excuse those bits of Xellos purple on it... not that 'Xellos purple' was a real color name.

The lilac dress with the Xellos purple, I mean purple, details, was snatched away by the hands of Lina Inverse, who eyed it critically before holding it up for Filia to take, "what about this one?"

Filia paused uncertain until Amelia suggested, "you should try it on, Miss Filia." That's when Filia noticed she was being silly. She took the dress with determination and more courage than the activity of trying on a dress should normally require. It's not like Xellos owned the color purple anyway.

After a few minutes in the changing room, Filia emerged in the suggested dress. Thin straps of fabric surrounded her shoulders culminating in a V shaped cut on the top of the dress. The gown hugged her waist with an elegant fold of fabric accentuated with a small amethyst flower brooch over the right hip, the thin folds of the lilac skirt showing hints of the purple layer underneath. This time Filia didn't look like a beautiful elf from a magical forest, she looked like the princess of all beautiful elves; except of course for the fact that she was in reality a dragon, not that anyone could tell just by looking, unless they knew what to look for.

"This is it, Miss Filia!" Amelia cheered, clapping her hands together in admiration. "This dress looks even better than the other one!"

"Amelia's right, this one's more elegant. You should definitely wear it." Lina proudly declared, since it was she who found the dress, never mind that Filia was already eyeing it when she picked it up.

Filia smiled in satisfaction, "alright, it's been decided." With that said, the girls took a moment to examine the price tags on the dresses.

Amelia might have been the best accustomed to having a closet full of expensive gowns, even if she preferred not to wear them if she could help it, and even she thought the dresses were pricey. "They're of very fine quality though, so it's not all that surprising and they all have jewels as part of the dress so that really adds to their value."

"Let's not forget, Amelia's actually a princess," Lina reminded as if it was easy to forget about that detail, which it was, though they were clearly reminded a short while ago when Amelia was all dressed up. "That means that she knows about dresses, so if she says these are high quality products, that's because they are. Besides," Lina grinned greedily, "we're charging all of this to Xellos' reservation, remember?" Never mind that she might still have some store credit left, it was her store credit for her souvenirs, which would consist mostly of overpriced gourmet candy.

Amelia was the only one that looked a bit doubtful at Lina's suggested plan, with just a hint of guilt, but she was quickly persuaded into partaking of it by the determined and satisfied looks that Lina and Filia had on their faces. Sure, she could attempt to use the Seyruun royal family crest and allow the bill to be forwarded to her father, but he probably wouldn't appreciate the gesture as much as he would appreciate a nice little souvenir when she got back from her vacation. So it was settled, they would just charge everything to Xellos.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 014: Charmed! Enchanted and Mesmerized

"It's getting dark," Zelgadis observed. He and Gourry were passing the time looking around the resort until it was time to go to the ball. They had gotten a few looks, some of scorn and some of understanding, that Gourry didn't understand and Zelgadis decided he didn't want to understand. A girls' night out in a somewhat romantic place was fine, because people expected normal girl bonding to occur in such a place, as they played make over and plotted against man kind, but a guys night out in the same place? Zelgadis wasn't sure if people were assuming they had been dumped or... Or maybe it was time to stop thinking at all. "We should head back and get changed, then go to the north dome for the ball."

"Right, the girls won't like it if we're late," a few curious eavesdroppers gained a look of realization upon the mention of girls that were apparently waiting for them. The two men walking down the street in a resort crowded with couples were suddenly a whole lot less interesting. "We walked a lot," Gourry absentmindedly commented, his flip-flops making the continual flip-flopping sound that characterized such a type of comfortable footwear when dragged with equal amounts of laziness and energy along the street.

Flip... flop... flip... flop... "Shoes!" Zelgadis suddenly exclaimed, "Gourry, we completely forgot about the shoes! We got the suits, the masks and even the corsets," cue the odd looks. "I mean corsages," un-cue the odd looks. "But we didn't get shoes. We can't show up in these," he gestured towards their feet, "and our traveling shoes are too worn out for this sort of thing."

Gourry blinked, clearly not understanding the predicament. "So.... we should get new shoes!" He felt rather smart for figuring that out.

"Yes, but the shops that sell formal shoes are all the way in the other side of the resort, we'll have to run." Without further ado, Zelgadis wrapped his arms securely around the bag containing the parcels with the suit, mask and corsage, and broke into a run. Gourry followed him, both men nearly falling and actually falling on several occasions along the way, enforcing the theory that men are incapable of running in flip-flops.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Hurry, we're late!" Filia urged as she made a mad dash towards the north dome, with her skirt bunched up to her knees, clutched in her hands, her high heels making fast tap-tap noises on the street.

"Wait for me!" Lina tripped for what felt like the millionth time. As it had happened in several occasions before, kind Amelia tried to catch her, but this time both girls toppled to the ground.

"Miss Lina," Amelia complained from under Lina. "Why do you wear high heels if you know you can't walk in them?" Let alone run.

Amelia's lack of her usual characteristic encouragement was not helping Lina feel any better about her choice in shoes. It didn't help that she had purchased a dress that was too long for her height thinking that the flowing skirt that touched the floor was pretty. It was indeed pretty, but not convenient. She had decided to correct the miscalculation at the last minute by wearing high heels, but it wasn't working out. "That's it! Levitation!" Floating in the air only a foot or two above the ground, Lina discarded her uncomfortable white pearl decorated heels and resolved to simply levitate for the rest of the night. There should be enough food at the ball to keep her energy sufficiently replenished.

"Great idea," Filia had trailed back to her fallen companions, extending a helping hand towards Amelia, who was finally able to get up after Lina got off her. Filia took both girls' hands and shouted, "levitation!" springing forward in mid air with all her might. She slowed down as she reached the top of the long staircase were two familiar people seemed to be engrossed in the task of catching their breath.

"Do you think we made it on time?" Gourry breathed, he and Zelgadis had gone back to the shoe store, bought some appropriate shoes, went to the hotel for some quick showering and changing and hurried to the north dome.

"At least we're not too late," at least Zelgadis hoped they weren't. He adjusted his mask on his face, though the half of his face that was visible made his identity easy to guess for anyone who knew him. He looked up and saw a most awe inspiring sight. Three girls floated up the stairs like gorgeous angels, drawing quite a few spectators to look at them.

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia's mask looked more like a tiara than a mask. After she found such a nice dress that matched her eyes, Filia and Lina insisted that she should not hide them. The main part of the mask was on her forehead in the shape of an eagle of pale blue feathers with royal blue accents and silver glitters. The tiara-like mask had two lines of feathers framing the face giving it a more mask-like appearance, without getting in the way of Zelgadis staring into Amelia's eyes and blushing like a ripe tomato.

The Seyruun princess had blue eye shadow with a silvery outline that matched her dress perfectly, her long eyelashes standing out elegantly. Her lips were a slightly more vibrant shade of natural pink than usual with a noticeable gloss to them, that a romance novel might describe as irresistibly kissable. Though such thoughts did fly through Zelgadis' brain, he seemed over all too paralyzed to say or do anything. She had sapphire heart earrings that matched the heart shaped sapphire brooch on her dress and a single bracelet with small heart shaped sapphires on her left wrist. Her hair was more relaxed than usual, giving the impression that it was longer, touching her shoulders in glossy dark strands.

"A..." Zelgadis opened his mouth with a great deal of effort as the girls landed. "Me..." He continued trying to articulate the name which seemed to consume all the strength he had in him. "Amelia..."

Amelia smiled brightly, that encouraging smile that he so loved, and took a few steps forward towards Zelgadis. Deciding that she should be the one to break the ice and ease the atmosphere she blushed and complimented sincerely, "you look very handsome Mr. Zelgadis."

If it was at all possible, Zelgadis blushed even more as he made a bigger effort to recover the capability of speech. "You're beautiful," he finally stated. Remembering the corsage, he held it towards Amelia. It was less match-anything than he had initially hoped for, as it held a lovely blue flower. He thought that regardless of what Amelia was wearing it would at least match her eyes and that had been close enough to match-anything for him when he got it. Now it turned out that it matched the blue of her accessories perfectly. "I... um... for you..."

Amelia's eyes lit up with pure joy. "Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis!" With all the happiness her voice carried anyone would think she had just been given the entire world as a gift. Yet any gift from Zelgadis meant the world to her. She extended her right hand happily, her smile making her glow with joy. "Help me put it on?" Her nails were sky blue with sapphire glitters at the tips.

Zelgadis nodded and after several hand trembling failed attempts, he relaxed sufficiently to manage the task of putting the corsage around Amelia's wrist, not letting go of her hand after the task was done. Amelia in turn linked arms with Zelgadis, her fingers laced with his as they entered the large dome in their own fantasy world.

It was clear that Amelia and Zelgadis were not about to notice the rest of the universe any time soon. Filia stepped aside and wondered if she would witness a similar scene from Gourry and Lina.

Lina floated at the top of the stairs, her long white skirt flowing in the light breeze, more so since she was levitating. Her hair was pulled into a half ponytail held together with pearls that matched the dress and earrings, the rest flowing down her back. Pearls also went from the side of her head, the line of precious jewels reaching the half-ponytail in a decorative hairstyle. She wore a bracelet that consisted of three lines of pearls and light flattering makeup that gave her eyes a silvery pink glow with her lips standing out in a nice shade of glossy pink. The renowned bandit killer reached out a hand to innocently stroke her hair, secretly trying her best to be irresistible. Her nails were pink with a pearly glow that made them appear both white and pink depending on how the light reached them.

Gourry was looking at her, he seemed interested. Lina was burning with rage at the jellyfish mask he was wearing, but she was willing to let it go if he sincerely begged for her forgiveness. He took a step forward, he was about to speak. Lina waited, she wouldn't say anything first, let him be the one to realize his grave error in ignoring her over some flirty jellyfish girl. Then the interruption came...

"There you are, Gourry! I was waiting for you!" Miss Medusa emerged from the white marble walls of the dome and latched onto Gourry's arm immediately. She was wearing a white dress or more so a skirt since those sea creature people were more like a head with limbs than anything resembling a torso. Her white skirt became semi-transparent just above the knees and down, showing off her shapely legs. Her heels were white, adorned with pearls, very similar to the ones that Lina decided she wasn't willing to put up with. On each tentacle Miss Medusa wore a lovely pearl bracelet and her mask was a butterfly.

That was crossing the line. Medusa had stolen Gourry, she had stolen the general concept of her outfit being white and pearls and she was wearing a mask quite similar to hers too. Lina glared behind the beautiful white butterfly that hid half her face with a few pink glitters adorning its wings. Medusa had a larger version of that same mask on her face.

"Hi, Miss Medusa," Gourry greeted with a friendly smile. "I just got here and-"

"And you couldn't wait to dance with me? How sweet!" Medusa cut him off and dragged him away by the arm. "I love your mask!"

Gourry smiled sheepishly, "thanks, I'm glad you like it." He glanced back at Lina as he was dragged off inside. "Lina, Filia, do you want to come hang out with us?"

"No!" Lina snapped angrily. She floated past Gourry eradiating hot anger into the atmosphere around her. Inside the dome, she didn't even take a moment to notice anything or anyone and made a bee line for the biggest buffet table.

"Oh, okay, I guess we'll hang out later, Lina." Gourry looked disappointed, but accepted the event with his usual patience for Lina. He glanced at Filia, who seemed to want to glare a hole through his skull, and concluded that perhaps she didn't want to hang out with him and Miss Medusa either. Seriously, girls were so confusing sometimes. "Um... see you later," he went inside the white marble dome, finally allowing Medusa to completely drag him away.

Filia was left standing on top of the long marble stairs at the northern end of the main street, muttering something about men. For a fleeting moment she wondered if Xellos, rather than teleporting, would walk up those stairs and find her standing there. She had found some nice lilac heels with amethyst decorations. Her earrings were small but exquisitely detailed amethyst flowers. A portion of her hair was braded on the sides of her face, the braids twirling around her head like a golden crown, the rest falling down the back of her head, held in place by another amethyst flower. Tiny amethysts like miniscule flower petals adorned her hair, making its beauty truly stand out.

Her eyes were adorned in purple eye shadow that faded into lilac, her lips a pink-ish shade of lilac with shiny gloss. Her mask was small with thin wings extending over the eyes originating from a round amethyst in the lower middle of her forehead. It was a fairy, a representation of an orb of light with wings originating from the barely perceptible silhouette in the center of the light.

The flowers and chosen mask made Filia look more so like a magical elf, a mythical creature whose beauty could only be born of legends. But she was real and she was waiting, yet no one was coming for her. Filia caught herself thinking of Xellos again and pushed the thoughts away. She would be fine as soon as she was with Phythan, she would be able to focus on him then. Maybe he was already inside waiting for her. She entered the dome to find him.

The rounded structure of the north dome with its impeccable white marble walls and long dramatic, though tiring, stairs, looked far more impressive and beautiful from the outside than Filia had imagined. The look was accentuated by the fact that it was on a hill, holding it above the rest of the resort on a backdrop of clear starry skies.

Yet the inside of the dome was far more amazing. Everything was made of white marble, with several decorative paintings hanging from the walls, depicting a variety of romantic scenes. Sunrises, sunsets, fields of flowers, ocean views, her eyes traveled from one painting to another as if she was in a museum filled with precious art. Tables with appetizing abundant food were scattered about all around the circular structure of the dome with lovely carved columns forming an inner circle at the center within which the dance floor was. Smaller column-like stands adorned the area with beautifully crafted flower vases holding red and white roses.

She paused and looked up; admiring the crystal chandeliers, then realized that the round ceiling of the elegant dome was made of glass. The chandeliers were literally floating, their gems infused with a long lasting levitation spell. The night sky was amazing, the stars shining like diamonds. Forget having balls in a castle, this place was so much better! The entire ambiance was further enhanced by the music played by a live orchestra, completing the magical feel of the location.

While Filia was admiring the atmosphere and decorations, one of the vases caught her eye, filled with white roses. She approached the vase and gently touched it with her fingers, nails delicately painted with lilac and purple water marble lines. Feeling the smooth surface of the vase, Filia realized that her thought was unmistakable. This was her vase, one she had crafted from scratch with her own hands and painted with care... Or at least that's how her fluttering heart re-colored the picture in her memories at first, albeit the truth resurfaced as she remembered.

xoxox xox xoxox

It had been a rough day for Filia. She attempted to craft a vase to relax, then Xellos snuck up on her and caused her to ruin the almost finished product. As a result the vase had an asymmetrical diagonally lopsided look to it.

After an argument with Xellos and the creative use of art supplies as tools of attempted, yet failed, murder, Filia decided not to throw away the vase after all. It wasn't perfect, but its accidental deformation had a certain rare artistic quality to it. She was trying to paint the vase when Xellos returned far too soon for her liking, though she would assure that if he never returned it would have been too soon anyway. He made a mess of things again, the paint splashing all over her workspace, clothes and the work in progress of the vase. She was using purple and white, colors that she had subconsciously picked without giving them much thought.

Subsequent to chasing Xellos out of her home once again, Filia looked at the mess that was the vase. The paint had splashed all over it, dying it in shades of purple and white, the two colors mixing together in several patches of lilac and lavender. Filia wasn't in the mood to clean the mess; she was too tired and left it for the next day. When she got around to cleaning up on the following morning, she begrudgingly noticed that the vase really didn't look so bad. The splashes of paint looked somewhat elegant, with unique artistic passion. The thought was roughly pushed away as soon as it was formed and Filia set out to rid herself of the offending vase.

As the trashcans in her work space were full, Filia angrily carried the vase to the front of the shop seeking to dump it in the smaller trashcan next to the front counter of the store. It was there just in case clients came in with half finished sodas and candy bars that they finished while still browsing the store. Then they would have no excuse to stuff the wrappers and containers in random vases because they didn't have the patience to wait until they came across a trashcan, there would be one readily available and clearly visible right there.

"What a beautiful vase!" An old lady whom Filia didn't recognize exclaimed as soon as she saw the vase. The lady had the appearance of an old tourist who had all the time in the world to roam all over creation and the economical resources to back it up.

"Ah, you like this one, my dear?" The old gentleman standing next to the lady smiled. "Then we shall purchase it for our collection."

"This?" Filia voiced in disbelief. She couldn't let such a vase exist in the world and be linked to her. Some may see it as elegant and original and with a little polishing it could be, but it was a product of Xellos causing trouble and that made it a terrible artifact. "Oh, you don't want this old thing, I'm sure there are far better vases to choose from at the shop. This one is all crooked; I was just about to throw it away."

"Don't," the lady strode forward, her aged hands taking the vase away from Filia and cradling it. "It's smoothly curved, asymmetrical but elegant. Uneven in an artistic way, yet perfectly balanced." She demonstrated the fact by setting the vase down gently on the front counter. "It takes a lot of skill to make original shapes like this, more skill than what it takes to make the classic styles of the others. Please, sell me this vase; I must have it for our collection!"

Before Filia could find her voice in the face of such a strong yet pleading argument, the lady's husband stepped forward and set a large bag of golden coins on the counter. Jillas, who had been minding the store standing behind the counter throughout the entire scene was left in shock as the elderly man inquired, "will this be enough to purchase the vase?"

"Sold!" Jillas cheered and happily wrapped the newly purchased item for the generous happy customers. Filia would give him an earful about it later.

xoxox xox xoxox

The truth about the vase's origin resurfaced in Filia's mind and she withdrew her hand away from it before she got the irresistible urge to break it. She didn't know how the vase got there, but she was certain it was the same one; artists knew their own work. Filia walked away from the vase not pleased that she kept finding reminders about Xellos all around. She needed to find Phythan and the sooner the better.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 015: Bells! At The Stroke of Midnight

Filia made her way through the spacious setting of the masquerade ball. She had not set a specific time to meet with Phythan, but there was a possibility that he was already there. The ball was going on full force at the height of the party with music, dancing and a lot of food that was constantly replenished, only to have to be replenished again, because the redhead in the white dress kept devouring everything.

Filia sighed, what if Phythan wasn't coming? The place was big, but they couldn't have missed each other all this time. She had tried walking around, she had tried staying still, she had tried standing by the main entrance, she had tried hanging out by the buffet table, that is one that Lina wasn't assaulting, but nothing worked. She had been there for over two hours and there was no sign of her date. Maybe he only intended to be there for the later part of the ball near the end or maybe he just forgot.

Filia contemplated the floor for several minutes until she felt someone approaching. He was wearing a tuxedo like all the men there were, and a rather large mask in comparison to her small one. His mask was in the shape of a golden dragon, but instead of scales it had feathers like a phoenix, a combination of fire bird and dragon. The mask covered the entire area above his nose, his eyes unseen behind it, the feathers cascading to his shoulders. He took her hand, the light bouncing off her delicate petal shaped amethyst bracelets, he kissed her hand and examined her expression.

All the pent up frustration Filia was feeling melted away. So what if her date was late? He was there and he was even more charming than she remembered, though he was certainly on the quiet side. He seemed to be leading her towards the dance floor and she happily went along. He still had not said a single word and neither had she. They could talk later, for the time being just enjoying each other's presence as they moved to the sound of the music was enough.

xoxox xox xoxox

While Filia's mood improved, Lina's got worse. She ate and ate not only for the sake of replenishing the energy she used up from constantly levitating, but also to calm her temper and stop herself from Dragon Slaving the entire dome, leaving nothing but a crater on the ground.

"How could you!" Miss Medusa's shrill voice pierced the air as Lina finished all the food on one of the tables and moved to the next. The noise caught her attention and she watched as Gourry placed a hand behind his head in confusion, with an expression that clearly showed he had no idea what he had done wrong. "I hate you!" Miss Medusa ran away with tears in her eyes. Gourry initially followed Medusa, but she screamed, "don't follow me!"

Gourry stopped running and replied, "okay," with abundantly present confusion. If Medusa said she didn't want to be followed, it would just make her angrier for her request to be ignored, right? Such was Gourry's literal line of thinking in his effort to understand the female species. He spotted Lina looking in his direction, though the redhead quickly turned her attention back to the food. He approached her with a friendly smile and picked up a sandwich casually, "hey Lina, having fun?"

Lina snatched away the sandwich and swallowed it in one gulp. "This is my table," she declared with the fury of a territorial wild beast. "I see Miss Medusa left you alone, well you had it coming!"

"I did?" Gourry sighed in confusion. "I really don't understand girls. "I mean it was simple enough when we were just friends, but this dating thing is complicated and the confusion spreads to everyone around. I guess this is what my grandmother meant when she used to tell me that things change when you start dating someone."

"Dating?" Lina growled, "so this was an official date with that jellyfish girl!" It had been her assumption from the start, but to hear the sour truth being so casually declared made Lina's anger rise to unprecedented intensities.

"No, I mean with you," Gourry laughed as if it was no big deal.

Lina's face suddenly turned as red as her hair, her anger unexpectedly disarmed. "What?"

"I mean, Amelia and Zelgadis looked like they were on a date. Who can tell with Filia and Xellos?" Gourry began his explanation. "I thought that since the others were doing it, then you wouldn't be shy about it. That's why I got you candy, my grandmother said that candy was a good thing to give a girl on a first date."

"That was a date?" Lina realized that Gourry was talking about the candy he gave her after they went to the aquarium. "What about Medusa?"

"She's my friend," Gourry stated as if it were obvious. "I thought we could all hang out together and have fun. I danced with her because she really wanted to and well... that's what friends are for, right? Doing stuff that their friends want to do so that they have fun. Then I told her that I was getting hungry, plus I haven't danced with my date yet or given her the corset."

"Corset?" Lina questioned with a weirded out expression.

Gourry continued as if the interruption had never occurred. "She asked what I meant and I said that I haven't danced with you yet, then she got all mad. I guess I didn't follow my grandmother's advice as well as I thought. She said that if I didn't treat my date properly then I would be in trouble. But you looked like you needed some space, so I thought I was doing the right thing by giving it to you." He reached into his pocket where a square shape was protuberant in the fabric. Miss Medusa thought it was an engagement bracelet for her, as she had no real fingers to put on a ring, since she had tentacles. She hinted that she would say yes as they danced, but Gourry didn't catch any of the allusions. The square space was actually a box containing a white lily corsage with a light pink tint to it. "This is the corset I got for you."

Lina looked at the item that was obviously not a corset. "It's called a corsage!" She corrected, then the reality finally sunk in that Gourry was only spending time with Medusa as a friend and that, though he failed to properly inform either of them, he viewed this as a date with Lina. Lina's face turned an even brighter shade of red than her hair and she nervously extended her hand for Gourry to put on the corsage, an activity that he accomplished with a good amount of ease. Then the romantic moment was ruined by Gourry's loud stomach. "I guess you're hungry," it should come as no surprise since he spent the entire time he was there dancing with Miss Medusa, unlike Lina, who was eating. "Let's clean out all the tables in this place, it's not every day that we can feast on fancy food like this!"

"Alright!" Gourry cheered. The awkwardness of the situation melted away into the familiarity of each others appetites as the gluttonous couple bonded lovingly in their own special way.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Filia had been led away from the crowd approaching the small, ignored, back door of the dome. They went out through there finding themselves in a dark garden consisting of natural flowers, not particularly arranged in any shape. The hill that was smooth and grassy on the opposite side where the main entrance was, turned rocky and treacherous on that side. On the edge of a small forest that one may assume would eventually fall to the expansion of the already large resort. But for the time being, it was dark and thick.

The place wasn't as well groomed as what was clearly visible for the tourists, but it had a certain wild romantic charm to it. Filia sighed contently, allowing her date to wrap his arms around her, tilting her face towards his, closer... closer... then she stopped and looked towards the skies. "It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" Filia mentally kicked herself for the interruption, Phythan wanted to kiss her and she wanted to kiss him, so what was stopping her? Maybe it was too soon or perhaps it was his silence that had her on edge. "How come you're so quiet today?"

He shrugged and finally spoke, "you're always telling me to shut up, so I thought I would humor you, just this once. I must say it's been terribly boring. I bet you missed our quarrels, even if you deny it, you admire my cunning intellect to prove you wrong on every argument." That unmistakable mocking smugness...

"Xellos!" She didn't have to see him without the mask he still wore to know it was him. No wonder something felt off. The illusion of a wonderful romantic ball was nothing but wishful thinking on her part. She had not seen Phythan anywhere. Either he stood her up, which filled Filia with anger, or he saw her dancing with another man, felt cheated and left, which filled Filia with dread. Then again, she was sure she would rather be dumped than seen with Xellos.

"Yes?" Xellos grinned with false innocence and real amused cheer.

Clenching her fists on her sides and mentally threatening the tears forming in her eyes not to dare to come out, Filia strongly wished she had her mace. "You tricked me," she stated with venom in her voice.

"And you made it oh so difficult," Xellos sarcastically teased with a satisfied grin that Filia desperately wanted to forcefully wipe off his face. Although, he knew that her accusation meant she thought he was someone else, he didn't realize that the someone else had a specific expected identity.

Filia was furious. Xellos tricked her and he almost weaseled another kiss out of her. What was wrong with him? It's not that he liked her, because monsters couldn't like anyone, he was just trying to annoy her. This was crossing the line, it was going too far. Filia raised her hands and curled them into fists for a physical attack, her lips slightly parted to accompany the onslaught with a verbal assault, but she was interrupted. Every hour on the hour, the sound of bells echoed from outside near the dome, reminding the guests of what time it was.

The sound could be heard in the area outside louder than inside as it echoed in the northern border of the resort. Yet it didn't originate from any of the tourist attractions in the resort. Instead it came from a clock tower shrouded in mist in the center of the thick dark forest behind the dome. The terrain was undeveloped and looked abandoned, so why the clock tower still function with such precise accuracy was anyone's guess. This time there was no music as it barely filtered out of the dome and there were no noisy crowds as no one thought to go back there. There was nothing but the forest between Xellos, Filia and the clock tower that stretched out high above the trees. The bells were easy to miss in other parts of the resort, nothing but a faint distant echo, but from their current location they were loud, as if demanding attention.

When the first bell rung out, Filia was startled. The second bell was expected and she tried to ignore it. When the third bell came, she wondered why she even paused. The forth bell echoed and Filia had not yet punched or insulted Xellos. With the fifth bell Filia began to relax her clenched fists. The sixth bell made her lower her hands slightly and the seventh made her lower her hands all the way. With the eight bell her mouth closed, insults unspoken. With the ninth bell she drew in a big breath of fresh air and with the tenth bell she exhaled her tensions. It was like counting to ten to ease her anger, except the clock was doing it for her.

With the echo of the eleventh bell hanging in the air, Xellos grinned and approached the edge of the cliff. He jumped with the twelfth bell and before the echo was done fading away, he was gone, he disappeared before he hit the ground below, teleporting in mid air. A golden feather that had fallen off his mask as he vanished was carried towards Filia by the gentle breeze. She caught the feather and examined it, noticing that a purple hair had gotten caught on it.

Filia looked towards the mist covered shadow of the clock tower in the center of the forest, then approached the cliff and looked down, even if she knew she would not find any signs of Xellos. Then she held up her open palm and let the breeze carry away the golden feather with the purple hair. Filia turned around and entered the dome, she was hungry. If she was lucky maybe Lina had left a little food for the other ball attendees.

xoxox xox xoxox

Xellos discarded his mask, carelessly throwing it in the forest. While he was out looking for a mask before the ball and pondering the general situation, Zangulus had approached him. "There you are," he voiced upon seeing Xellos at the mask shop.

"Why hello, Zangulus," Xellos smiled, following his usual friendly act. "Have they assigned you another task to perform instead of taking care of the restaurant?"

"Yes," Zangulus revealed, "I'm actually supposed to be on break right now, but the boss asked me to do something else and is paying me extra for the service, so I don't mind." Now wearing his normal clothes instead of his waiter uniform, Zangulus retrieved an envelope from under his hat. "I was asked to deliver this letter to you. It's from Mr. Metallium himself."

The name caught Xellos' interest right away; though he didn't think there was actually a connection between the mysterious boss of Amor Resort and his own boss and mother, Zelas Metallium. Humans sometimes adopt the names of powerful creatures in hopes of giving out the illusion that they are powerful themselves. Nevertheless, Xellos was curious as to why the resort's boss wanted to send him correspondence. "Interesting," Xellos accepted the enveloped curiously. "Might you have an idea of what this is about?" He pried for any additional information that was not written in the letter.

Zangulus shrugged, "I have no idea," he sounded sincere. "Did you send in a job application or something?"

"Not that I recall," Xellos realized that Zangulus had no significant information about this letter. He was only the delivery boy and he had done his part. "I thank you for bringing me this message," he smiled putting on a nice act, despite all past deeds that Zangulus might be aware of. Even if Xellos was a monster, even if people learned that truth, even with all that, his nature was easy to ignore for most, he made it that way for his convenience. "Take this for your time," he handed Zangulus a few coins for him to add to the Zoana Kingdom restoration fund.

"Thanks!" Zangulus went merrily on his way, glad with the lucrative results of his overtime venture.

Xellos wasted no time in fading away to a more private area to read the letter. Inside the enveloped addressed simply to 'Mr. Xellos' there was a single white sheet of ordinary paper carrying a message consisting of ordinary letters, written with ordinary black ink. Yet those ordinary letters with their ordinary yet neat penmanship, arranged in such a way, held a message that was anything but ordinary.

The rarity of the latter began with the very first line where the receiver was greeted as "General Xellos Metallium," a line and an indentation later there was a simple request. "Should you find yourself with the time and in the mood to do so, I would be honored if you could meet me in the clock tower in the center of the forest behind the north dome tonight at midnight." The short request was the entirety of the message, with nothing more than a parting word and a signature below it. "Respectfully, Celo Metallium."

Xellos' purple eyes had opened completely automatically, as he scanned the letter with growing curiosity. He considered showing up at the appointed location immediately, but decided to wait, just to see what would happen if he followed the letter's request. Besides, the sender addressing him as general meant that he knew who Xellos was and he had been careful to sound respectful when writing the letter. Xellos folded the letter and placed it back in its ordinary envelope. The surprise was fading fast and so was Xellos' curiosity as he came up with likely theories that could explain the message.

So what if that so called Mr. Metallium knew that Xellos was a monster general? There was a number of ways about how the knowledge could have reached him. Maybe it had only been a rumor that the man was stupid enough to believe though it turned out to b true in the end. Celo was probably another foolish human who wanted to gain the power of the monsters. Maybe he was a worshiper of Zelas and was hoping that Xellos would introduce him to her, as if that would ever happen. This Celo person was probably insignificant, he had to be. He couldn't be related to the murderous force after Xellos' life because that powered rivaled that of the monster lords and a mere human, especially one so desperately seeking power, couldn't already possess such a power.

Yet the fact remained that the strange occurrences were taking place in Celo's resort, in the place that he administrated and by the looks of it also owned. Maybe he knew something after all, though Xellos thought it was highly unlikely that the man he assumed to be a human would know anything if he who was a monster general had not been able to find any significant information. Nonetheless, his curiosity was just enough to attend to the requested meeting at midnight.

Thus there he stood hours later, in front of the clock tower, still in his suit from the ball, minus the mask that had been carelessly tossed away. Xellos could simply teleport inside, but he chose not to, instead pulling the old rope that was attached to a bell that hung from a small pole on the wall beside the door. The bells' sound seemed louder in the absolute silence of the dark misty forest than its size dictated it should have been.

To be Continued