Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Slayers: Alive ❯ Chapter 7

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Slayers: Alive - Episode 019: Avoidance! Dancing Around The Issues

Filia, Lina and Amelia retreated to their room and Zelgadis and Gourry to theirs. Gourry slept soundly as he was too dense to worry about anything. Zelgadis stared at the dark ceiling for a while, but soon allowed sleep to overtake him while listening to the sounds of Gourry's snoring. It was business as usual, Zelgadis mused, when was he not in the middle of something troublesome? There was no need to make a fuss over such an almost common occurrence.

Amelia stayed positive and allowed sleep to fall upon her, attracting pleasant dreams with the power of positive thinking. Lina was too tired to have any encounters with insomnia, thus she was out like a light as soon as her head hit the pillow. Filia was the first to have changed out of her ruined dress, gotten cleaned up and into her comfy night gown, but she was by far the last to fall asleep. She tossed and turned in worry, until finally, exhaustion led to a restless slumber.

The sun came up, morning invading the resort lacking its usual brightness. Heavy rain fell upon the land even if the streets were just as busy with a rainbow of umbrellas all around. The rain made the atmosphere cold and further zapped away the motivation from those who were already lacking the desire to get up.

It wasn't until mid-day when Amelia got out of bed and started singing loudly and cheerfully to balance out the gloomy mood in the air. The action woke Lina, who was positively starving, and Filia, who was plagued by tiredness and bloodshot eyes. With Amelia ready to face a new day with the power of justice on her side, Lina rushed to get ready and hurried downstairs for brunch, a meal that would combined the breakfast she missed with the lunch which was about time to eat, no way was she skipping on either one.

Filia was the last of the women to drag herself out of bed like a zombie and get herself somewhat ready to face a new day. She peeked into Phythan's room and found that he was still fast asleep, then headed downstairs. She hoped some food would give her a little much needed energy.

As usual, Lina and Gourry were stuffing their faces at their own table that no one dared to invade for fear of losing a limb. That left Amelia and Zelgadis at the next table beside them, with Amelia giving a cheerful speech to lighten the mood, while Zelgadis and Filia half listened.

After the rather normal and uneventful brunch, during the entirety of which Xellos didn't show up, the group went to check on Phythan again, with an extra set of footsteps joining them as they went up the stairs. They turned to see a familiar purple haired man, who returned their gazes with a squinty eyes smile.

There was a collective pause until Lina, who was walking at the front of the group, turned her head forward and continued towards Phythan's room without a word. It would be a waste of time to try to get information out of Xellos anyway. Once the group was back at Phythan's room with a collective silence upon them, they stood around him and peeked over him as if he were a very strange sight.

A few seconds passed and the group ceased their collective staring with Lina adopting a pose that hinted that she was about to explain her plan of action to the group, or rather remind them about the plan of inaction that she had suggested the previous night. However, before she could say anything, Phythan's eyes opened and he looked curiously at the people around him with chocolate brown eyes.

"Phythan?" Filia stared at his face perplexed, she noticed now the change in his eye color, but couldn't explain it. He was the same person, she had no doubts. Maybe she had been distracted before, maybe it had been a trick of the light.

"You know my name," his voice was the same but his words made no sense. "Who are you? What happened to me? This room..." He sat up slowly on the bed and tried to look beyond the group at the room he was in. "Where am I?"

Another collective pause passed until Lina loudly declared in a voice full of frustration, "you have got to be kidding me!" Her palm met her face, running down from her forehead to her chin. "So he finally wakes up and now he has amnesia?"

"How inconvenient," Xellos chirped, hiding any hint of annoyance very well. "I was curious about what happened too."

"You're going to tell us you don't know?" Zelgadis stated a rhetorical question. It didn't matter what Xellos answered to it, a conclusion about that had already been reached.

"It is the truth this time," Xellos' smile never faltered even if he knew they didn't believe him. It wouldn't actually make a difference if they did.

Phythan examined each person's face with curiosity; he looked at Filia who lacked her hat. Her ears were clearly visible, but for a golden dragon, she could not be mixed up with an elf, for they could recognize their own kind. "You're a golden dragon," he stated simply, as if grasping the obvious facts would help him understand what was going on. "You know my name," he continued, making a pause and watching for any reactions from the golden dragon lady.

Filia nodded, "I found you injured last night. Amelia, Zelgadis and I healed you," she motioned towards each person as she spoke their names. "Then we brought you here, Lina and Gourry are also part of our group." Lina clearing her throat interrupted Filia's introductions. "Lina is the leader," she clarified, which seemed to satisfy the redhead. She skipped over Xellos' introduction on purpose. "Before you passed out last night you said my name, Filia."

"I did?" Phythan looked confused. He didn't want to question his saviors, but he didn't recognize Filia or any of the others. "I'm sorry, I don't remember you. I apologize for that and I thank you for helping me."

"Do you remember anything at all about how you got injured?" Lina tried one more time. Maybe his amnesia wasn't total, maybe he could remember a tiny image of the events that took place which would serve as a clue.

"Yes," the certainty in Phythan's voice took everyone by surprise. "A monster snuck into the temple to steal the treasure we were tasked with guarding. I fought the monster and..." Phythan tried hard to focus but all he got for his efforts was a headache. "That's all I remember." He took a look around the room again. "This place doesn't look like a golden dragon temple. Is this in one of the nearby towns close to the Fire Dragon temple?"

"The Fire Dragon temple?" Filia repeated in confusion. The followers of the fire Dragon had been exterminated some time ago. Furthermore, she didn't know what that treasure he mentioned was. He was clearly confused, his words made no sense. "I think... I think your memories might be a bit jumbled up." Filia tried to explain it as gently as she could.

Phythan looked genuinely confused. "What do you mean?"

Xellos chose that moment to speak up and deliver a direct explanation, decorated with a cheerful tone. "The dragons of that temple were mass murdered some time ago."

Phythan stared in shock for a few seconds as if an invisible time bomb was ticking, as his face became red with anger. "You're lying," he stated flatly with a glare that some would call worthy of the biggest righteous fury and others would describe as the look of murderous intent. It was all in the contrast of perspectives really.

Xellos smiled, his expression screaming 'you poor ignorant dragon' as he shook his head lightly. "Filia, would you care to accept or deny my claim? Maybe this poor fool will understand if he hears it from a member of his own flawed hypocritical species."

Filia couldn't say anything. The errors of her people were being thrown in her face in the middle of her confusion. Phythan wasn't from the Fire Dragon temple; Filia had never met him before he ran into her at the resort. Was he lying or just confused? She was already too worried, disturbed and lost to articulate a single word before Xellos added old guilt and bitterness into the mix. She just froze, expressionless, like a statue.

"Nothing to say?" Xellos prodded with the raise of an eyebrow, one eye open, the other remaining in its usual squinting fashion.

"Who are you?" Phythan demanded with an angry glare.

"Oh, that's right, rude Filia didn't introduce me before." Xellos criticized her in hopes of getting some form of reaction out of her. Her temperamental side was familiar and enjoyable, but her frozen state bothered him for reasons he could not explain. "My name is Xellos, I'm a monster allied to the great Beast Master Zelas, pleased to meet you." He stuck out his hand in a business-like manner, knowing full well that his words didn't exactly set the mood for a friendly handshake.

Phythan looked positively horrified as he predictably slapped Xellos' hand away. "You're a monster!" He loudly declared, standing on the bed and pointing at Xellos. "I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but I know it's your fault you fiend!"

"Spoken like a true golden dragon," Xellos rolled his eyes dismissively. This was much more fun when Filia did it. "Are you a relative of Filia or something?"

He wasn't, but Phythan's automatic response was, "there's no reason why I should reveal that to you!" He didn't stop pointing at Xellos the whole time. "Terrible fiend, justice will prevail over you by my hand, in the name of the Water Dragon!" Those who, unlike Filia, were not in a catatonic state, noticed a bit of a contradiction in relation to the fire and water dragons, which one did he serve anyway? Additionally, Amelia was smiling with admiration, inspired by the declaration of justice. "Vile creature, you will be defeated!" With that final declaration of war against Xellos, Phythan was surrounded by a golden glow and began his transformation into dragon form.

Amelia's jaw dropped, her face red in embarrassment. She had been so transfixed by the justice speech that she had no time to respectfully look away. Zelgadis covered her eyes while scolding Phythan. "You can't transform like that when there are people watching!" But the angry golden dragon was not listening.

Lina opened her mouth to say something along the lines of pointing out the trouble that had just started full force, but her throat produced no sound waves. "Um... Lina, maybe we should look away." Gourry pointed out while tapping her on the shoulder with continual insistence.

"Maybe we should run away!" Lina screamed, regaining her ability to move.

The catatonic Filia seemed to wake up, looking in every direction frantically before resolving to join the others in levitating out the window. Phythan grew to his full size, which was smaller than Filia's dragon form, but still too large to fit in the room, thus he effectively destroyed a good portion of the hotel. Guests ran around like ants in the streets below, pointing at the commotion atop the remains of the structure. Some were slightly alarmed, but most thought it was part of the show. In that strange resort everything was part of the show, unless otherwise stated and no one had specified that this was real danger yet.

"Oh my, if I didn't know any better, I would think you were picking a fight." Xellos grinned maliciously, both eyes open now. "I'm sure that's a silly thought, after all, I am Xellos, as in the one who massacred countless of your race and you can never hope to defeat. Ah well, what's one more?"

Phythan looked very much like he was pouting and Xellos half expected him to shout, 'meanie-head' or 'you big dumb-dumb' at him or some other such playground remark. His pouting continued for several seconds as Xellos curiously waited for his last words that never came, unless the sound he made counted as a word which was along the lines of 'chomp!' Xellos was now in his mouth.

Zelgadis' eyes were open wide, Amelia didn't know if she should cheer or not, Lina pointed in disbelief and Gourry was confused, but that was nothing new. Filia's reaction was the loudest as she screamed an agonized, "no!" and transformed into her own dragon form, ramming into Phythan from behind, causing him to spit out the purple haired monster, who looked none too pleased.

"I have to say, that was original," Xellos felt his eye twitch in annoyance as he faded into the astral side covered in dragon spit and reappeared perfectly clean. "Creative, but terribly unpleasant, basic, yet classic, I was waiting for the laser breath after the insult, but you weren't opening your mouth to negotiate, so typical of a senseless violent creature." Xellos had his teeth clenched, his eyes glaring, he was pissed off and that meant big trouble. "I guess I should show you the same discourtesy with a painful annihilation." Xellos paused dramatically, then realized that no one was actually listening to him.

Phythan was coughing up a storm and making what could only be described as a combination between gagging noises and growls. Filia was patting him on the back with concern, "what is it? Don't tell me you're going to spit out a purple hair ball!"

Phythan coughed some more, "no, it's just that it was really gross."

"Well, that's what you get for trying to eat a monster." Filia raised her index claw and waved it back and forth. "You can't go around putting such filthy things in your mouth; they have germs and can make you sick."

"I know, but I was angry," Phythan pouted yet again and gave Filia a sad look.

"I know you were," Filia patted him on the shoulder gently. "I was angry too, I still am in fact."

"So am I," Phythan agreed.

Xellos felt his eye twitching violently some more. "What part of certain doom don't you understand, you stupid dragon? Filia, get out of the way so I can decimate that idiot! Why are you babying him anyway? He's not a toddler!"

"Don't try to boss me around you piece of raw garbage!" Filia shot back. "I'm not letting you hurt Phythan, if you want to lay one of your filthy monster fingers on him, you'll have to get through me first!"

Phythan looked at Filia curiously before loudly declaring, "comrade!" and raising his claw into a fist in mid air. "My honorable golden dragon compatriot, let us fight for justice together!"

At that point Amelia's eyes began to shine dreamily and she floated closer to the golden dragon. "Justice!" She blissfully declared, happy to have found someone who shared her passion for justice.

"Yes, justice! You may also join our noble cause if you wish, my honorable human friend," Phythan gladly welcomed Amelia into the group.

"What in the world?" Zelgadis wasn't even sure of how to voice his confusion.

"No, no, no!" Filia shouted, her voice rising in volume with each syllable. Phythan was acting completely different from before, something was definitely amiss. "What we need to do is calm down and discuss things in an orderly fashion. People are staring at us and..." she stopped as horror crept into her face in slow motion. She looked at the ever growing crowd below. "People are staring," Filia repeated in a panic, "people are staring, people were staring, people have been staring all along!"

Phythan looked confused as to why people staring would be a bad thing. "It's good that they are here to witness justice in action. This is a fine opportunity to inspire the masses to pursue the wonderful path of justice!" He cheered.

"Mr. Phythan is right!" Amelia joyfully declared.

"Ah!" Filia screamed at the top of her lungs, a blast of laser energy escaping her and tearing through the cloud filled skies, barely diminished by the falling rain. "They saw me transform!"

"So?" Phythan tilted his head to the side in confusion, with an expression that was disturbingly similar to Gourry's. Witnessing this, Xellos twitched some more. Phythan yelled at him like Filia, gave justice speeches like Amelia and missed the point like Gourry. If he started acting like Lina too, that would be the last drop on the already overflowing glass of vexation.

"Have you no decency?" Filia screeched, before flying away in tears that mixed with the falling rain.

"Miss Filia!" Worried about her, Amelia flew off after the distressed dragon.

Zelgadis looked around at a loss and finally flew off after Amelia, "wait for me!" He had no clue of how in the world things had gotten to this point, as if the level of unexpected weirdness had just hit an all time high.

Xellos felt a vein began to protuberate on his forehead and considered killing off Phythan there and then. He clenched his teeth and glared, before flying away in the direction Filia, Amelia and Zelgadis had taken.

Phythan watched them disappear in the distance and blinked in confusion, "Miss Lina, was it?" He looked at the red-haired levitating human girl. "Would you mind explaining to me what just happen? Did the monster retreat or something?"

Once again, Lina's hand met her forehead and slid down her face to her chin. She looked at Phythan, she looked at Gourry and she looked at the cheering people below, most of which had discarded their multicolored umbrellas to get a better view of the show above. Finalizing her assessment of the situation, Lina concluded beyond the shadow of a doubt, "I'm surrounded by idiots." After a moment's pause, during which the two idiots in mid air, one of which, namely Gourry, was holding on to her leg to stay in mid air, Lina floated towards Phythan. She deposited Gourry on his back, then saddled in herself and pointed in the direction the others had gone in, dramatically declaring with more flare than necessary, "after them!"

Happy to have been given direction in his confusion, Phythan gladly accepted the command, "yes, ma'am!" He flew after the group, which had faded away in the distance with the rain relentlessly beating down on him and his passengers.

Lina glared forward. Trouble tended to come with plenty of company behind it. She had heard people say that married life is tough and though she had settled for just being engaged and this had nothing to do with her marriage, she never imagine things would be this tough. She looked to the skies that didn't appear to have the slightest intension of ceasing their downpour. Strange things were happening, their only possible clue made no sense and Xellos appeared to be rather upset, which could only mean more bad news, perhaps the worse of news. "When it rains, it pours!" Lina crossed her arms begrudgingly, shifting a little too suddenly for someone sitting atop a fast flying dragon with slippery wet scales. As a result she almost slipped off, albeit Gourry stopped her from falling.

"We better hang on so we don't fall off," Gourry advised what was to him a genius suggestion, though it should have been common sense to anyone else. He wrapped one arm around Lina's waist, keeping the other on Phythan's back for balance. She blushed, but didn't say anything, merely hoping that the rain somehow miraculously covered her red face.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 020: Unstoppable! Allies of Justice

In the distance past the north dome, there was a dark misty forest with a small cave in the middle of it. Filia had transformed back into her human form and was huddled up in that little cave protected from the rain but not from her own conscience. Her life was a mess, a very embarrassing mess.

It wasn't too long before Amelia caught up to Filia and landed in the spot where the golden glow had faded. She looked around, spotting a figure in the dimness of the small cave, which was not deep enough to be pitch-black, though the entire forest was a little dark due to the weather and thick trees. The princess hurried to the cave, kneeling beside the ball of self pity that was her friend. "Aw, don't cry Miss Filia," she hugged her gently and rubbed a soothing hand on her back like a mother consoling a crying child. "There, there, it's going to be alright."

"No it's not," Filia sobbed. "There's some kind of evil plot going on and I've already embarrassed myself more during my stay in this resort than I have over the course of my whole life!"

"It's not so bad," Amelia tried to comfort Filia, though in retrospect her chosen words might not have been the most reassuring. "It's not like this is the first time you've transformed in public. Besides, look at Phythan," Amelia blushed at the memory, "he transformed in front of all of us and didn't seem to be bothered by it."

Filia huffed in indignation, "he has no modesty!" Having transformed in front of people wasn't her only humiliation during the time spent at the resort. At least her friends didn't know about all the incidents that had occurred concerning Xellos. He had not thrown them at her face in a public way yet, but he might be waiting for the right time, or rather, the worse time, to do so. She sighed, going back to the topic of Phythan, "he's acting so different, this isn't the Phythan I met that day, even though I'm sure it's the same person." It wasn't a long lost twin or look alike, his energy held the same essence and his scent remained unchanged, it was just something that another golden dragon could perceive beyond how a human would see it.

"I'm sure he'll recover and be the same as ever," Amelia continued trying to stay positive.

"There you are," Xellos' voice came from the small cave entrance as he walked in out of the rain. "Are you having a moment of bonding between girls? Should I come back later?" He teased.

"Xellos!" Filia dried her tears so that her glare could glow in its full fury. "What in the world is going on? What are the monsters planning? What did they do to Phythan? Answer me!" She demanded.

Xellos' eyes flickered into something akin to frustration for only a tiny moment, before he put on his painted smile and lifted his right index finger. "That is a secret," the tone of mockery was lacking the usual smugness lightly.

Filia's eyes went wide in horror, "you don't know," her voice was a whisper of fear before her tone reached an all out panic. "You don't know!"

Xellos frowned, he didn't want to, but his face moved on its own. "I will find out," he declared with the outmost certainty.

Amelia looked back and forth between Xellos and Filia. If Xellos was in the dark about whatever secret plot was at hand, then things must be really complicated. She weighed her words in her mind, wondering what she could say to defuse the tension in the air. Yet she remained speechless until a thud was heard outside the cave.

"We finally found them," Lina hopped off Phythan's back, accompanied by Gourry. It was then that Amelia noticed Zelgadis standing to the side of the cave and realized she had not seen his quiet arrival before. "Alright, I want some explanations and I want them now!" Lina stomped her way into the cave, where the entire group minus the dragon form Phythan barely fit.

Phythan and Xellos were automatically caught in a staring contest that Filia hurried to end. "Listen up you two; I will have none of this!" She stood between them with her arms outstretched left and right, palms facing the two men, or the dragon and monster. "Phythan, I know Xellos is a horrible monster, but we don't have the strength to kill him." Filia's face was adorned with a sour look as she admitted it. "Xellos," she paused, searching for a proper excuse as to why he shouldn't kill Phythan. Finding none, she simply finished with, "just let it go."

"No," Xellos firmly declared, his eyes open, expression predatory.

Filia was unfazed in the fear department, though in terms of anger, she returned the glare full force, her dragon fangs peeking out of her mouth as she insisted, "let it go." A moment of silence passed while Filia and Xellos glared at each other until she stomped her feet firmly on the ground and asserted, "if you want to harm Phythan you'll have to get through me, I already told you that before and I meant it."

Another moment of tense silence passed by until Xellos huffed and broke eye contact with Filia. "Stupid dragon, I really don't understand why you're so set on defending him, just because he's another golden dragon." The tension lessened considerably after that apparent acceptance of a truce.

Another moment of silence passed as everyone tried to calm down a little from their guarded states. Then Phythan transformed back into his human appearance, once again changing without a warning. This time Zelgadis couldn't get to Amelia on time to cover her eyes. "For crying out loud, I told you not to do that!" The chimera snapped.

Phythan gave him a confused look, "I honestly don't understand why it bothers you so much." Without giving Zelgadis or even Filia the chance to explain what the problem was, Phythan went on with his speech in a very Amelia-like tone. "My golden dragon comrade, I admire your amazing courage that even a monster dares not to challenge!"

"What?" Xellos glared in indignation, "you really have a death wish, don't you?"

Phythan ignored him and went on praising Filia. "I must say, I was very impressed by how you managed to make that monster stand down. It was almost as if you've tamed it."

"Tamed?" Xellos questioned, that annoying little vein appearing on his forehead again as his eye twitched.

"I have a long way to train if I am ever to become such a noble protector of justice as you are," Phythan bowed, showing his respect to Filia.

"I... um... that was..." Filia laughed nervously. "Think nothing of it." She cleared her throat indicating a transition in topics, but was unable to bring up the next one.

Instead a very impatient Lina stomped her feet. "Didn't anyone hear me before?" She demanded in an enraged growl. "I said I wanted answers!"

"About that, Miss Lina," Amelia tried to calm her down before the all out confrontation they were avoiding really took place. "It seems that Mr. Xellos is truly unaware of what's going on. Given Mr. Phythan's current memory problems, we really have no reliable clues as to what's happening."

Lina groaned, "that's just great," she sarcastically declared. She looked outside the little cave, noting that the rain was still pouring. "To top it all up, it won't stop raining. Well, I guess we'll have to follow plan B, inaction can be the best course of action sometimes, let the pieces fall by their own weight. Listen up everyone, here's the deal! We're all going back to the hotel, getting dried up and changed, then we'll grab some umbrellas and check out some indoor attractions. Since we're here, we might as well keep enjoying the resort." She then directed her commanding look towards Phythan, she looked like she was going to punch him in the face or worse yet, slay him. Despite being a dragon who was almost as tall as Gourry in his human form pitted against a petite human, Phythan instinctively took a step back without noticing. Then Lina's expression made a drastic change and she smiled sweetly. "You're more than welcome to come along with us, in fact, I insist that you do."

Phythan nodded eagerly, "I would be happy to join your group of crusaders of justice!"

Lina could have corrected him on the part about crusaders of justice, but chose to simply accept his reply and move on. Amelia on the other hand had her dreamy eyed expression back on her face, with a wide happy smile. "Yes, we have a new ally in the quest for justice!" She cheered.

"Anyway," Lina felt the need to move along. "Let's head on back to the-" she paused realizing something. "Oh, that's right, the hotel was destroyed. Maybe we should just flee while we can."

Phythan gasped and loudly declared, "an ally of justice never runs away!" He pointed at what he thought was the direction of the hotel, which was hard to determine in the thick forest. "I will personally return to the scene of the accident-"

"You mean temper tantrum," Xellos suddenly interrupted with his correction. If Phythan annoyed him with his very existence, he had the right to annoy him back.

"Tantrum," Phythan repeated, he paused and gave it some thought, then smiled in a disturbingly similar fashion to Xellos. "How mature of you to admit your mistake, Mr. Monster... No, Mr. Xellos, I will call you by your name acknowledging you as an individual rather than a worthless monster, because I can see your desire to change!"

"What?" Was all Xellos could mutter, thrown for a loop.

"You've been looking to Miss Filia for ways to change your evil nature, haven't you?" Phythan's eyes shone with support. "Don't worry Mr. Xellos, though the path of righteousness will be especially difficult for you to walk, we will help you get through it! The first step is accepting the facts! Oh, and I forgive you for your temper tantrum back there."

Xellos felt his entire body shake with anger. After sprouting all that ridiculous nonsense, which Amelia was now agreeing with wholeheartedly, the foolish golden dragon had the audacity to give Xellos a comforting pat on the shoulder, which was far more infuriating than it could ever be comforting. Then he turned away and focused on chatting about justice and second chances with Amelia. "I'm going to kill him," Xellos spoke slowly, emphasizing every word in the most sinister tone anyone had heard him use up to date.

Filia stepped forward and gently placed her hand on Xellos' shoulder, leaving it there. "Just let it go," there was pity mixed with confusion in her voice as she sighed hopelessly. "Poor Phythan's injuries really got to him, he wasn't this crazy before. He's not himself and I don't think it's fair to murder the clinically insane without even giving them a chance to recover." She paused and corrected herself, "actually, it's not right to murder anyone at all, not that I can easily convince a monster of that."

Xellos huffed and crossed his arms in a rare angry posture for him. He didn't make the slightest attempt to remove Filia's hand from his shoulder, which remained there. "He really pisses me off," realizing that he was letting a golden dragon get to him far more than he should, Xellos tried to regain his composure. "It doesn't matter." His false smile returned to his face, his eyes looking far less sinister once they were squinting again and in Filia's secret thoughts, a little less alluring with the amethyst irises hidden. "He's insignificant anyway. So, how do you know him? What dragon temple is he really from?"

A few feet ahead of Filia and Xellos, Lina looked back at them before waving her hand dismissively as if saying with her body language that those two could catch up at their own pace. Then Phythan offered to give them a ride. "That sounds fun." Gourry agreed in the name of the group though convenience was more so their motivation instead of fun, since riding on a dragon was a lot less fun in the rain than it was in nice weather.

At that point Zelgadis calmly took Amelia's shoulders, causing her to blush, and gently turned her over so that her back was to Phythan, then he let her go. Lina stared to the side awkwardly, keeping her eyes on a random bush until the golden glow was gone and in place of the human form of Phythan, there stood the dragon version of him. "You know, Mr. Zelgadis, I was ready to close my eyes this time." Amelia softly pointed out.

Zelgadis scratched his chin and looked slightly upward, "just making sure," he half muttered, half replied.

The group minus Filia and Xellos, who were left several feet behind, climbed onto Phythan's back and he took off. Meanwhile, Filia was trying to figure out Phythan while talking to Xellos. "I honestly don't know. He claimed to be from the fire and water temples, but that makes no sense. I mean, the temples generally get along, so having visitors from one temple go to another isn't rare. Even so, there are too many contradictions. Maybe he's a follower of the Water Dragon and is just confused."

"Yet the Water Dragon has already passed away," Xellos pointed out with the cheer of delivering good news, while communicating bad, albeit old, news for Filia.

Filia was so used to it by now that she chose not to react to his tone and instead continued normally. "Yes, but there are still some golden dragons left that pledge their alliance to the Water Dragon." She let out a breath and massaged her temples. "Unless whoever is behind all the strange things that have been happening makes a move or Phythan recovers, we're in the dark."

"Have you considered the possibility that maybe all of this is an act and that Phythan is the villain of the situation?" Xellos suggested.

Filia shook her head, "in any case, you would be the bigger villain of the situation." She pointed out with just a little bit of relaxation starting to make its way into her voice. She was unwinding even if she shouldn't be.

"True," Xellos accepted the claim sounding somewhat flattered. "Still, you know what I mean."

Filia frowned and gave the possibility some real thought. "I suppose I can't discard that possibility, yet it makes no sense. If Phythan wanted to weasel his way into the group his first style of acting was much more effective than his current one. Now he's just odd."

"His first style of acting?" Xellos questioned curiously, his voice carrying the faint scent of disapproval.

"Yes," Filia nodded, recalling when she met Phythan and blushing, which was met with a suspicious raise of the eyebrow from Xellos, one eye open and the other still squinting at her questioningly. "He was nice and... not suspicious," charming... almost seductive, but Filia decided not to voice the last parts; she didn't know what brought about such charm anyway. Was it the wine colored eyes? His confidence? The way he looked as if he hid a dark secret? How she was reminded of Xellos? She shook her head frantically. "Anyway, let's just keep an eye on him just in case, but if he's just a poor confused dragon suffering from temporary insanity due to his previous injuries, I don't want you hurting him."

"What makes you think I'll listen to you?" Xellos inquired in a tone that was surprisingly more teasing than mocking.

"You will grant me this request," Filia had no idea on what she could base her certainty; there was nothing to base it on. She closed her eyes for a moment as she slowly walked next to Xellos through the misty forest. The trees served as a sort of makeshift umbrella so the rain was lighter in the forest, though the thin drops were still falling on them. She opened her eyes, her face rosy from her idea.

"Filia?" Xellos looked at her flustered face in curiosity. "Are you catching a cold or something?" He asked hopefully.

Filia shook her head, her blush deepening, "I'll kiss you," she finally offered, unable to explain why she would even try to entertain the notion that such a plan would work. It was absurd.

Xellos was taken aback, his painted silly grin fading into real surprise and reemerging as a true mischievous grin. "Is the private atmosphere of the forest getting to you? I heard that there are some who enjoy kissing in the rain."

He began to wrap his arms around her, but she stopped him and backed away. "Not now," she couldn't believe she was offering this, but it was for a noble cause. "When we find out about Phythan I'll kiss you once and only once, of my own free will, in private and no one must know. That's what you wanted wasn't it? In exchange you have to let him go." She remembered the Phythan that gave her ice-cream, the charming version of him. It wasn't technically cheating because they were not an official couple and it was for his sake anyway.

Xellos frowned, "I'm afraid that won't work," he realized with disappointment. "Kissing me for the sake of someone else counts as a sort of blackmail or threat. My request is for you to kiss me completely out of your free will with no outside pressures or motivations. It has to be done on the sole reason that you want to do it."

Filia gave Xellos a confused look and recalled their conversation on the bench that time. "Why?" Her voice lacked her usual anger towards Xellos and was instead filled with puzzlement, curiosity and an inexplicably strong need to know.

"I can't really explain it," because it might endanger the cure. If Filia knew that he was in danger of turning into a human and being swiftly killed off soon after by forces that not even Lina could save him from should she actually choose to try, Filia, being Filia, might feel somewhat guilty and try to save him. She would declare he deserved a punishment worse than death and throw a number of angry remarks at him, but she would try to save him anyway. Somehow he knew it and it bothered him. Mercy felt like too much of an outside motivation. It wouldn't be Filia's free will; it would be her desire to run away from the possibility of a guilty conscience if she didn't help. Then the cure would be useless.

"Xellos," Filia stopped walking and looked boldly into his eyes with a pleading gaze. "Please, just tell me. Are you making fun of me? Are you just trying to mock me?" Things wouldn't work out as long as Filia had those fears to hold her back.

"There's a very good reason why I can't explain myself in full." Xellos revealed with more sincerity than Filia had ever witness him have. "It's not a trick and I can at least assure you that I will be able to tell you once it's done," able to tell her, albeit not obligated to. "I just can't tell you now. It's a secret and there's a good reason why it needs to stay that way, not necessarily forever, but at least for now."

Filia nodded as a flurry of crazy theories flew through her mind. She should have known this was as close to a straight answer as she could get from Xellos. Yet his reply was far more perplexing than she ever imagined it would be. She sighed in defeat. "Alright then, instead of offering you the kiss, I will instead offer to keep an open mind and let things flow naturally," she couldn't believe what she was saying, but the words had already come out. It wasn't the first time she offered to keep an open mind, but this time, she felt compelled to keep her word more strongly than she could explain.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 021: Lucky! Follow The White Rabbit

"Don't get too close," Lina instructed as Phythan arrived in sight of the hotel, or what was left of it. Despite the rain, repairs were already being made, by... trolls? The green creatures appeared to be being bossed around by a human man with a big mustache, which reminded Lina of Philionel, and a yellow construction helmet. The man looked at the dragon in the distance and waived.

"It looks like he wants us to go over there," Phythan interpreted and did so without a second thought.

"What are you doing? Stop, this is a bad idea!" Lina protested adamantly, though her complaints fell on deaf ears.

Phythan landed as gently as he could on the under construction surface atop the hotel building. At least the lower floors were okay. "About the mess..." he began with an apologetic tone.

"Ah, yes, about that," the construction boss seemed rather cheerful despite the situation. "Guests are charged for the shows available to them at the resort. Since they assumed that this was all part of the show and stayed to watch, we charged all the spectators for the show. The money will be enough for the repairs and more. By the way boy, how would you like an official job at the resort?"

Phythan seemed to be debating the situation. He wasn't sure he liked the idea about the spectators being charged, but if by chance they thought the show was actually worth it, then maybe it wasn't so bad. "I'm not really looking for a job right now, but thanks anyway," he finally answered.

"Wait a minute!" Lina pointed at the construction boss almost accusingly. "While you and your trolls are rebuilding this place, where are we supposed to stay?"

"Shh, Miss Lina!" Amelia uncomfortably whispered. "We're really in no position to ask for much."

The construction supervisor appeared to consider the words and finally pulled a whistle from his pants pocket and blew it. A man in a bellhop uniform swiftly stood next to the construction boss, "sir?"

"Take these guests to the special casino suite," the man in the yellow helmet ordered. He then turned his attention back to the trolls and started yelling at them to hurry.

"Yes, sir!" Taking a moment to examine the guests, the bellhop exchanged a look of recognition with them.

"It's Zangulus," Gourry smiled, "you have a lot of jobs around here, don't you?"

Zangulus chuckled, "indeed I do." He eyed the dragon, "so, should I join you to show you to your new rooms?"

"Sure, I can carry you too," Phythan wrapped his long golden tail around Zangulus' waist and placed him on his back. "Here we go, take off!"

"Having a dragon to give you a ride is pretty convenient," Zangulus commented, admiring the view from above. "The casino suite is right over there," he pointed towards a colorfully decorated building with magically powered multicolor lights.

Zelgadis frowned, "I don't like casinos," he commented hopelessly.

"I'm sure it's not so bad," Amelia smiled gently as they headed towards the roof of the casino. "Casinos are supposed to be a lot of fun."

"Until you lose all your money," Zelgadis grumbled.

"But we're broke anyway," Amelia somehow tried to look at the positive light in that. She wasn't exactly broke really, Seyruun still had a healthy treasury, but Amelia's spending money for the trip was running low.

Zelgadis let out a breath, "there's that." Not being able to lose a lot of money due to not having a lot of money wasn't exactly the best consolation in his opinion.

Once Phythan had landed on the roof of the brightly lit building, everyone hopped off his back. When all his passengers had disembarked, he once again changed into his human form without warning. A soft "oops..." escaped Amelia. She knew Zelgadis didn't want her to watch Phythan transform, but it's not like she was doing it on purpose.

Zelgadis clenched his teeth. 'Idiot dragon with his stupid soft skin, annoying perfectly proportioned body and infuriating well toned muscles and... and...' Zelgadis marched over to Phythan and smacked him on the head.

"Ow!" The dragon's hands flew to the back of his head were the chimera had struck him.

Amelia gasped and gave Zelgadis a look of disapproval with a scolding "Mr. Zelgadis!" That hurt more than Zelgadis thought it would. Pouting profusely, Amelia turned her back on Zelgadis purposefully and gently patted the affected area of Phythan's head. "It's okay, Mr. Phythan, I'm sure Mr. Zelgadis is sorry. Although, you should... ehem... cover up a bit more when you're transforming, it unnerves Mr. Zelgadis."

"But he's a guy," Phythan pointed out the obvious, the aspect of jealousy completely flying over his head.

"Yes," Amelia nodded, "but Lina and I are girls," she pointed out with the patient tone that was needed when explaining something utterly simple to Gourry. Honestly, it was downright strange how Phythan was displaying a variety of characteristics found in their group.

Phythan nodded in apparent understanding, yet the concept that Amelia was trying to portray once again flew over his head. "But you're both tomboys!"

Amelia and Lina simultaneously smacked Phythan on the head, making him fall forward at Zelgadis feet. The chimera looked pleased with the results. Zangulus decided that the safest course of action for him would be to quietly watch the scene until the shenanigans were done.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Gourry placed his hand on Lina's shoulder, speaking a soft, "Lina..." She turned to face him and observed his half-lidded gaze and the rosy tint on his cheeks along with a rather warm atmosphere coming from him. She felt her own face start to become flustered as he took her hand in his, causing her heartbeat to speed up. Then he placed her hand on his forehead and sniffled. "I think I caught a cold..."

Lina's countenance went from flustered to angry in a split second as she smacked Gourry on the head. "It's not like I can do anything about that!" She turned to Zangulus who had wisely remained quiet the entire time. "Show us our rooms so we can change out of our wet clothes before things get worse," she demanded.

"Yes, right this way!" Zangulus hurried towards the stairs that led to the floor below, where the casino's suite was. "This suite is normally reserved for the very best gamblers, so it's pretty lucky that you were sent here." The group arrived at a large room with walls decorated with cards and a poker table in the middle. There were twelve doors in the circular room, one of them being the one that led to the rooftop, which seemed to be a private area for the occupants of the suite. "That door," Zangulus motioned to the door at the opposite side of the room, "leads to the stairs that will take you to the casino facilities below. My Martina works there, so make sure you drop by and say hello. As for the other ten doors, they each lead to a separate room with its own bathroom. You may distribute the ten available rooms among your group as you see fit. The traditional outfits worn by the best gamblers have already been supplied into the rooms in various sizes," Zangulus finished. "Well, I guess that's everything." He stood unmoving with a smile plastered on his face.

Lina stepped past the group, giving Phythan a rather harsh pat on the back as she did, "give the man a tip," she commanded.

"Yes, Miss Lina," resigned to obeying, least his poor head receive another harsh blow, Phythan gave Zangulus some gold coins.

"Thank you very much!" Satisfied with the venture, Zangulus went off, disappearing behind the door that led to the public area downstairs.

The group then went their separate ways, each into their chosen room. Lina took the first door right next to the stairs that led to the roof, with Gourry choosing the room next to hers. Amelia took the first door to the left next to the rooftop stairs and Zelgadis predictably chose the room next to hers. Phythan decided to take a room that was further away and settled into the one right from the door that led down to the casino.

A few minutes later, Amelia peeked out from behind her door, "Um... everyone?" She timidly called.

Zelgadis opened his door just enough to stick out his head and look at Amelia, of whom he too could only see the head. "Yes?"

"About the gambler outfits..." Amelia continued shyly, but trailed into silence.

"Yes... about that..." Zelgadis wasn't sure how to word it, then Phythan's door opened and interrupted.

The golden dragon emerged wearing black pants and shiny matching shoes, no shirt, a black bowtie around his neck, cufflinks on his wrists and white bunny ears on his head. "Is this how humans dress when they go to a casino?" He poked at the rabbit ears.

"I suppose we might as well get the full casino experience even if it is a bit embarrassing," Amelia concluded. Her door was closed for a moment as she adjusted her own bunny ears on her head, then she emerged wearing what looked like a black strapless one piece bathing suit, black stockings, matching high heels, a red bowtie and cufflinks and white bunny ears.

While Zelgadis stared at Amelia and blushed, a furious Lina emerged from her room in an outfit that was the same as Amelia's. "What's the meaning of this?"

Amelia laughed unsure, "part of the casino experience?"

Lina crossed her arms in embarrassment. "This reminds me of when we sang that stupid song that didn't do anything useful after all." She glanced at Phythan, "at least everyone will have to suffer all the same unless they want to get pneumonia from staying in wet clothes." However, Phythan seemed amused by the bunny ears and not at all annoyed. Groaning in exasperation, Lina looked to Zelgadis for a source of consolation. "Zel..." she gave him a wolfish grin.

Zelgadis turned an even deeper shade of scarlet and gulped, then shook his head. "C'mon Mr. Zelgadis, it'll be fun if we all wear the same style of outfits." Amelia sounded more like she was trying to convince herself more so than Zelgadis.

Zelgadis sighed hopelessly. He knew that Amelia would eventually convince him to come out in that silly fan service rabbit outfit so he had no business in fighting it. She had more power over him that he would care to admit. "Alright..." He exited the room in an outfit that was the same as Phythan's, feeling completely mortified to be showing more skin to Amelia than what he ever wanted to show without a cure. He kept his eyes glued to the dark red carpet on the floor and didn't notice Amelia's rather interested flustered look as he fidgeted with the rabbit ears in his hands.

Lina noticed and was giving Amelia a sly grin. Hoping that Lina would simply remain quiet, Amelia hurried to occupy herself. "Here, let me help you with that, Mr. Zelgadis." She took the rabbit ears from his fidgeting hands and raised her arms to reach up to Zelgadis head. Realizing she couldn't properly see how to correctly adjust the ears from that angle, Amelia placed a gentle hand on Zelgadis' bare shoulder. "Could you bend down a little?" Wordlessly, Zelgadis bent over so that Amelia could easily reach the top of his head, where she placed the fluffy white bunny ears, "there."

A moment of silence invaded the atmosphere as Lina continued to smile slyly. Then Gourry emerged from his room, dressed the same as Phythan and Zelgadis, but with a sharply contrasting facial expression. He looked like a zombie. "Lina..." he whined, "I don't feel good," he sneezed.

Lina frowned and analyzed the situation. She didn't feel like running into Martina and having to hear one of her flat-chested comments. She quickly devised a plan that would hopefully benefit everyone. "Amelia, Zelgadis, you two should go downstairs and enjoy the casino together," she emphasized the last word wiggling her eyebrows as she did. "Phythan, since you' have only recently joined our crusade of justice," Lina decided to play on his easily excitable side just as she might have done with Amelia in times past when she insisted to be trained by her. "You should meet our dear friend Martina," 'and drive her mad while you're at it,' Lina mentally added. She suspected that Phythan might have a natural talent for annoying people, or at least he did in his current state. "You should hang out with Martina while Amelia and Zelgadis go about their business, they can point her out to you." That would also serve to get Martina out of Zel and Amelia's hair, a fact for which Lina expected them to thank her with a meal later. "I'll stay here and nurse the sick Gourry back to health," 'while pigging out on room service.'

Now it was Amelia's turn to give Lina a sly smile. "That sounds like a plan," she winked.

"Right, a plan, a non-suspicious plan!" Lina insisted embarrassed.

"Of course," Amelia nodded as she took Zelgadis' hand. "Let's go then."

"Affirmative!" Phythan saluted and followed Amelia and Zelgadis out of the circular common room.

"Uff," Lina let out a breath of relief once they were gone and stretched in relaxation. "I hope room service has a really great menu!"

"Lina..." she looked at Gourry that had that same blushing look with his eyes half closed that made him look almost sensual. Almost, just almost, Lina's brightly blushing face didn't mean a thing... really. Then he moved forward, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, drawing himself very close to her and said, "I feel dizzy..." then promptly passed out, leaving Lina to drag his full weight back to bed where he could rest. She was tempted, very tempted... to abandon him laying on the floor. Yet she dragged him to bed anyway and somehow managed to set him down, pulling the covers over him.

"Get some rest, Gourry..." Lina voiced sweetly, "and while you're fast asleep," she smiled, "I'll eat all the food!" Then she triumphantly marched out of Gourry's room. Lina approached the door leading downstairs, opened it and called out, "room service!" After a short while, a waitress dressed like a playing card showed up, her outfit making her limbs appear to be uncomfortably short. It was too bad for her, because she would have a lot of food to carry up those stairs.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, downstairs in the casino area Amelia and Zelgadis spotted Martina wearing a dress, or what was supposed to be a dress with a revealing heart shaped bra and a big skirt adorned with cards. Her obnoxious laughter echoed as she sat on a throne at the head of an exclusive looking poker table. "Who dares to challenge the poker queen?" She loudly called out as her previous table companions dragged themselves away broke. Apparently her job was something along the lines of making sure the customers lost all their money in the casino's favor.

"That's Miss Martina," Amelia pointed out unsure. It was Martina alright, but what Amelia wasn't certain about was the prospect of abandoning Phythan with her.

"I'll go say hi," having no idea of the dangers that awaited him, Phythan approached Martina's table and sat down before Amelia could change her mind and stop him.

Seeing Amelia's regretful expression, Zelgadis tried to encourage her, "he'll be fine. We should get out of here before Martina sees us."

"It would be mean not to at least say hello." Though she was pointing that out, Amelia was swiftly making her escape along with Zelgadis. "Of course, we could just talk to her a little later."

xoxox xox xoxox

Some distance away from the casino, Xellos and Filia had made their way out of the misty forest in relative peace and quiet. Xellos paused with a focused look on his face. "You're thinking about leaving now, aren't you?" Filia inquired. This was the typical Xellos, coming and going as he pleased, nothing new there.

"I need to check up on some things," Xellos grin, his usual expression was back in place perfectly. "I know you'll miss me terribly, but try not to let your repressed passion torture you too much." He winked; the nerve of him.

Filia glared, tempted to throw her open mind promise out the window and go back to permanently labeling Xellos as a jerk. He deserved it for being so infuriating. "I don't care what kind of stupid teasing you come up with, I'm not going to let that distract me!" Filia firmly declared, raising her voice more than necessary to communicate her message. "If you're leaving, you're taking me along."

"Forward, aren't we," Xellos grinned annoyingly.

Filia ignored the blush on her cheeks as she clenched her teeth and fists. "I know you're going out to investigate and not share any information like the sneaky piece of raw garbage you are! Well I'm not going to let you do that," she crossed her arms and stomped her feet defiantly. "I want to know what's going on too, so I'll investigate along with you!"

"What if I teleport away?" Xellos demonstrated the motion by fading away and reappearing right behind Filia. "What are you going to do about it then?"

Filia jumped at the sudden voice from behind her and more so at the closeness of its owner, as Xellos whispered in her ear, his warm breath tickling her neck. She mentally scolded herself for being surprised. She should have known he would do something like this. "I'll find you," she tried to sound firm and angry, but failed to do so.

"You seem pretty determined..." Xellos observed. What was the harm? He was only going to investigate Phythan and in the location that he planned to visit she might know her way around far better than him. Then again, there was also a good chance she had never been to that place, but that wouldn't exactly be of any harm either. He wrapped one arm around her waist, cupping her chin with the other, making her look to the side, where his head rested on her shoulder from behind. "I'll take you with me."

There was something... peculiar about the way he spoke those words that Filia didn't want to dwell upon. She thought she should push him away. Being open minded about him didn't mean letting him hang all over her. Yet her limbs refused to respond to her rationale's call. He tightened his grip around her wais and they both faded away.

Filia gasped as the world around her changed. She wasn't expecting Xellos to teleport when he did. After a brief view of the astral side, they reappeared at the port, the place where they had arrived at the island. "We'll have to leave the resort for a little while to conduct this investigation. We can come back once we have a look at a certain place I have in mind. Of course, making the whole trip via the astral side with a passenger won't be easy."

With a harsh wave of motion sickness hitting her full force, Filia stumbled out of Xellos' arms. She never got sick from flying or from boats, but teleportation made her feel ill. "Ugh, forget that. Let's just fly." She looked around and found a private spot behind a mountain of crates. There she changed into her dragon form and emerged flying. "Let's go."

"Follow me," Xellos began to levitate as he gave Filia another teasing grin. "Do try to keep up."

"Hmp!" Filia threw her head back and retorted, "don't slow me down."

To be Continued