Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Slayers: Alive ❯ Chapter 9

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Slayers: Alive - Episode 025: Risky! Ye Who Ask For Ruin

Martina froze at the sight of her boss, Celo, the resort's owner and manager, hoping that he wasn't going to fire her for taking so long to defeat the White Rabbit. "The two of you have great skills in empowering your luck. Martina, when we met you could only tap into your abilities occasionally through your faith in Zoamelgustar, but your power of chance has been further released since then. However, this young man also possesses the ability to bend chance in his favor. You are both only empowering yourselves, merely defending. In creasing your good luck won't be enough to win, you must wield the opposing power. Martina, the power of bad luck, you also possess it, but in this young man I sense only the power of good luck. You have the advantage Red Queen, it is time!"

Martina gasped in shock, "Master Celo... you don't mean..." when Celo trained her as the Red Queen he told her never to use the dark side of her chance bending abilities, least the horrible luck fall upon her. Was she truly prepared to control such a dangerous power?

"Yes!" Celo threw his head back, his voice louder as he went on in a somewhat mad scientist tone. "Ye who wields both fortune and misfortune, ye who carries the unique power to shape fate!"

"Yes!" Martina cheered determinately. "She who walks between chaos and order, she who decides the path beyond borders, she who knows no master, she will become the caster. I am she who unites fate and destiny by chance; I am she for whom all the world will dance... Lady Luck!" The atmosphere around the casino became darker as the enchanted lamps flickered, then it all returned to normal. Martina had her eyes closed, face downcast. She slowly lifted her head and opened her now golden eyes. "Doest thou challenge ye who movest fate?" Martina's speech was odd in more ways than one. She spoke in words long lost in seemingly incorrect tenses, albeit Celo understood the logic behind them.

Phythan cringed in pain as he felt his spell being shattered, its effect gone. "May I cast my luck spell again?"

"Thou mayst, yet thou shallt not prevail, for I am ye who movest fate." Martina's voice carried an unnatural echo to it that gave her an anonymous tone.

Focus on the task at hand, Phythan chanted his spell again, with a few differences. "Ye who flies and never lands, ye who knows and understands, aligning fate, destiny, chance. Eternal clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed mine will, mine stance, deliver triumph to mine hand! Fortune Lock!" A tremendous strain overtook Phythan again, as his brown eyes once more flashed violet and returned to brown, only to become violet again a second later and remain that way. Phythan felt his energy being drained as his newly casted spell fought to stay active. He refused to let it break, pushing his energy to the limit.

"The showdown is now," Celo grinned. "It's time to take back what has been stolen from the monster race, the Green Alchemist will regret his thievery!"

Phythan's eyes went from violet to red as his countenance changed to a sinister expression, then it all went away. His eyes were brown once more as he lost consciousness.

"Hmm..."Celo looked thoughtful. "Could it be that you do not want to be released?" He mused aloud.

"The fate of mine challenger who lies before me doest not align with mine destiny that I walk." Martina's ominous voice echoed. "Mine fate is that of ye who seekst order within chaos. Ye shalt run towards the destiny of harmonious discord. Present thou thine challenger of mine infinity."

"Oh-oh..." Celo whispered as the gathered audience looked at him for answers. "The Red Queen issues a challenge to all of you and you cannot refuse!" The gamblers gasped. The Red Queen's challenge was reserved for extreme cases, this was very unusual. "Rise to the challenge of the Red Queen or face great peril!"

The gamblers knew they had no choice, thus one by one they challenged Martina and lost miserably. Celo took the distraction as an opportunity to gather more challengers for Martina. She was supposed to push the dragon boy to the limit and extract that which was contained inside of him. Yet the boy had shut himself and the creature inside of his own body without realizing it. Until another opportunity presented itself, the force possessing Martina had to be kept entertained, least it grow bored and she lost control of it completely.

xoxox xox xoxox

"C'mon lucky seven!" The ball spun around the roulette ignoring Zelgadis' pleas as all inanimate objects tend to do. It stopped on the eight as if mocking him. "So close! Forget lucky seven, it's not lucky anymore." As the past bets were cleared, Zelgadis gave up several more chips, "Black," he simply stated.

"Mr. Zelgadis," Amelia tugged on his arm looking quite concerned. "You've already lost all that you won before and you've lost most of your savings. I think it's time to quit."

"Not until I recover," Zelgadis' eyes were glue to the roulette. "Just a few more bets and I'll have it all back!" The roulette landed on red, which meant another loss for Zelgadis. "Forget roulette, how about some dice? Now that's real gambling. There's a table for throwing dice over there." He made his way out of the crowd gathered around the roulette table and started walking towards the dice table.

Amelia hurried to block his path. "I think you've had enough, Mr. Zelgadis. It's time to stop!" She insisted adamantly.

"I know when to stop and the time is not now," Zelgadis argued. "Just one more bet, one more try," he went on almost feverishly. He tried to side-step around Amelia, but she kept moving along his path in an odd sort of dance. "Amelia stop it, you need to trust me!"

"I trust you Mr. Zelgadis, but not everything can be entrusted to chance!" Amelia tried to reason with him. "Let's take a break, alright? We can go back upstairs, order some room service and relax."

"We can do that after this one bet, just one more." Zelgadis continued his blockade dance with Amelia. "It's my money and I know what I'm doing!" He snapped in a harsher tone than he meant and pushed past her in a hurry.

Amelia's face fell, Zelgadis never spoke to her and she never could imagine him shoving her aside. "Mr. Zelgadis... I've never seen you like this." She felt as if she stood in the middle of an icy field, miles away from Zelgadis as he walked into the distance.

xoxox xox xoxox

Martina had run out of challengers and Phythan was still out cold. Celo didn't like the looks of this. He could continue to bring in more challengers, but they would eventually run out, plus Martina, or rather the force inside her, could get tired of them and refuse them. "I am ye who walk between chaos and order!" Martina's voice echoed as the entire casino trembled. "I am ye who decide the path beyond borders!" It felt as if a massive earthquake was demolishing the casino, causing most of those in it to run for their lives. The tremors lessened for a moment and the atmosphere was filled only with the sounds of the last few fleeing footsteps. Then in a silent pause, Martina spoke once more, "I am ye who knows no true master!" Her voice turned agonized as she screamed at the top of her lungs, she was losing control.

xoxox xox xoxox

In another area of the casino, Zelgadis held on to the edge of the table to avoid falling. His eyes were transfixed on the dice as he willed them to land on six. "C'mon... be lucky..." Most of the other gamblers had already fled.

The dice finally stopped as the tremors lessened and the pieces of roof stopped raining upon them. "Snake eyes," the casino employee in charge of that particular table announced. "You lose, game over, I'm out of here!" The employee fled, leaving a frustrated Zelgadis behind.

"Get back here!" Zelgadis loudly demanded as he slammed his fist into the table and broke it, that is broke the table obviously. "I'm not done betting! The house can't quit, only the gambler can!" Never mind that he couldn't. "Take my next bet!" He frantically searched for chips, but his chip bag was empty. "A bet... A bet... I need to make a bet. Amelia, let me borrow a coin, I'll pay you back tenfold as soon as I win!"

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia glared defiantly. "You're out of control; don't you see that all the other gamblers have left? Even the employees ran away! This building is about to collapse, we have to get out of here!" The final tremor came so harsh that the ceiling above their heads was no longer shedding pieces, instead fully collapsing. Amelia fell back, her leg getting stuck under a pile of debris.

"Amelia!" Zelgadis rushed to get her free, but it was too late. The falling ceiling landed upon both of them, burying them alive.

xoxox xox xoxox

Simultaneously, Gourry and Lina's banquet had been interrupted by the same cause of the sudden evacuation of the casino building. It seemed that Gourry's defenses had put up a fight against the cold that a fool shouldn't have been able to catch in the first place and he was feeling much better after eating. "Lina, why is it shaking so much?"

"How should I know?" The floor began to fall apart and the table was overturned, the dishes spilling the food all over the broken floor to the debris below. "My food! Whoever is causing this will be in big trouble!" Lina momentarily put aside the fact that she was wearing a ridiculous bunny outfit and rushed in, jumping into the opening on the floor, determined to find the one to blame for the tremors.

"Wait for me!" Gourry jumped in after her, with no clue about what was going on, but following Lina into the center of it anyway, just as usual.

xoxox xox xoxox

Martina was surrounded by a golden glow. She slowly raised her right hand, index finger outstretched and gently pointed upward. The debris started to float along with those unfortunate enough to have missed their chance to run away. "I am ye who controls the dance of fate and destiny."

Zelgadis became free from the clutter of debris with Amelia still mostly intact in his arms. He wasn't sure what was up with the floating fragments of the once elegant construction, but his attention was more focused on Amelia. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm alright, I just scratched my leg, but I can heal it," Amelia confirmed. She began to cast the recovery spell so that she could be on her feet and ready for whatever this was as soon as possible.

Zelgadis looked towards the source of a golden glow. The rain had finally stopped, but the black clouds were still present forming an odd swirling tunnel above them. It was a bad sign made worse by the fact that Martina was the source of the golden glow. "What is she up to?"

"Zel!" Lina's voice called out as the redhead spotted the chimera. She saw Amelia getting up from next to Zelgadis after having healed her leg. "Amelia!" She hurried towards them while her eyes automatically went to the source of light floating near by. "Martina?!"

"Hey guys," Gourry's greeting was rather cheerful and carefree given the situation. He noticed the glowing Martina and with a face that hinted that he was particularly unaware of the dangers that the circumstances foretold, he asked, "what's up with Martina? What's she doing?"

"Causing trouble!" Lina assumed before anyone else could come up with a possible answer. They didn't know what was going on anyway and silently agreed with Lina.

Amelia gasped and pointed as she noticed another significant detail. "Isn't that Mr. Phythan over there?" She referred to the still form under a pile of debris. "He's hurt!" She rushed into the impending danger in hopes of rescuing her comrade of justice.

"Amelia, be careful!" Zelgadis went after her, leaving Lina and Gourry standing there, unsure of what to do. Gourry was leaning towards standing around with a blank look and Lina was inclined to Dragon Slave the already ruined casino.

"Martina!" Zangulus' voice echoed beyond all other sounds as he dramatically entered the scene, still in his bellhop uniform. His wife didn't appear to recognize him as she threw a bolder of debris at him. Zangulus narrowly dodged it wishing he could cut through those kinds of obstacles instead. "I wish I had my sword!"

"Granted," Celo held out Zangulus sword to him.

Zangulus reluctantly received the blade. "How did you...? When did you...?"

Celo smiled as if they weren't in the middle of a major crisis. "When one questions luck, it turns sour," he spoke in a sagely manner, with the wisdom of many years and long time observations.

"Fine, there's no time to ask questions about my sword anyway." Zangulus moved on to another topic. "Instead I'll ask what's going on with Martina? What's wrong with her?"

"It seems her spell has failed her," Celo kept the appearance of composed calm. "She is being plagued by the constant push and pull of humanity's subconscious. If you appeal to her own conscious strongly enough, she should be able to regain control." All the while Martina had started floating away, off to decimate the other nearby buildings. "I would prefer that you accomplish that task before Martina destroys my resort. I can overlook two or three buildings, but if this keeps up, I'm afraid I'll have to charge the Kingdom of Zoana for the damages."

"No way!" Zangulus was about to argue, but he realized he was better off taking action to stop Martina from further burying them in debt. He dashed forward once more, calling out dramatically, "Martina!"

"Hey, old man!" Lina marched over to Celo glaring fiercely. "I saw you! Don't pretend like you have no idea what I'm talking about because I saw you!" She pointed at him accusingly. "Zangulus was distracted by that bolder and Gourry was distracted by being Gourry, but I was looking and I saw you! You disappeared, then reappeared with Zangulus sword. Only monsters can move through the astral plane like that!"

"Indeed," Celo calmly nodded. "However, I am not lying when I say I'm also human." By that point, Amelia and Zelgadis had recovered the unconscious Phythan and were rejoining Lina and Gourry. Amelia heard something about a monster, which meant she should probably start preparing a speech. She scouted for a place to climb up to, but it looked like none of the ruins and piles of debris were appropriate.

The argument continued, along with Lina's pointing. "That's impossible!"

"Is it?" Celo looked at Zelgadis, who was stuck with the task of carrying the unconscious Phythan. He had very bad luck, he was certain of it, as if his losing streak didn't make it obvious enough. The chimera cringed upon remembering how he treated Amelia. Apologies were certainly not his forte. It looked like she had already forgiven him, but he still felt bad about it. "What about your friend?" Celo decided that he was not going to point at Zelgadis, because Lina was clearly hogging the pointing spot light. Instead, Celo merely gave the chimera a glance and that was enough of an indication about who he meant.

Zelgadis looked offended and hurt, "I'm not a monster!" He would have ran away dramatically if not for the fact that he was carrying Phythan and no one can properly run away dramatically while carrying another person, regardless of how inspired to do so they are.

"I never said you were," Celo continued calmly. "I was merely expressing that you are a combination of human and something else. If that is possible, then why not a combination of monster and something else, with that something else being human?"

"Are you trying to tell me that you're a monster and human chimera?" Lina continued her relentless pointing, which by that point was becoming downright rude.

"Precisely," Celo's tone was ever so respectful and serene it was starting to get on everyone's nerves. It still wasn't as annoying as Xellos' constant cheer though. "Either way, I mean you no harm; after all you are allies of general Xellos, who is my superior."

"Xellos!" Lina spat out the name like poison, and yes, she was still pointing at Celo. "I knew there had to be something going on! Alright, what's the mission that Xellos' boss sent him to trick me into doing for him?"

"I believe that general Xellos is here to tend to some business of his own," Celo explained in partial revelations that left out the most important details. It was annoying. "However, he glanced in the general direction of Zelgadis and Phythan. "It seems that you have gotten mixed up in some business that I intended to clean up myself, so perhaps you wouldn't mind assisting me?"

"We don't make deals with monsters!" Amelia suddenly shouted with dramatic flare. She too was pointing at Celo along with the still pointing Lina.

"Unless they're rich monsters," Lina corrected, finally ceasing her pointing to instead cross her arms and nod her head.

Amelia stopped pointing as well because she nearly fell over, though she knew she should have expected something like that from Lina. "Miss Lina!"

Before Amelia could finish scolding Lina, Zelgadis interjected with an important inquiry of his own. "Since you're a chimera, and probably a very rare kind of chimera since I've never heard of a monster human chimera before," humans becoming monsters by a contract was something else entirely. "Can I assume that you're fairly knowledgeable about chimeras?"

"You may..." Celo remembered what Xellos had mentioned about someone being interested in a way to take chimeras apart. Celo wasn't well informed in that particular area of chimeraism, as it wasn't his main interest, but he wasn't about to point that out.

Zelgadis' eyes shone at the prospect of a new clue that could lead him to his cure. "Why don't you tell me all about your problem, I might be able to help."

That time Amelia really did fall over, albeit once again, she thought she should have known. "Mr. Zelgadis!"

Amelia's scolding was interrupted anew, this time by Celo. "I have gold coins, I have information and it seems I have an open door towards negotiation. That's good to know, but right now I need to tend to the possibility of my resort being reduced to nothing. Let us further discuss our prospective deals after Miss Martina subsides from her rampage. Mr. Zangulus should be able to bring her back to her senses."

"Should be?" Amelia didn't really like the sound of that.

Lina looked determined, "if he doesn't, I'll gladly knock some sense into her!" Amelia decided that she liked the sound of that even less. As if Martina wasn't causing enough destruction already, she didn't need Lina to add to it.

"Let us observe," Celo proposed, as he calmly made his way towards Martina, who seemed entertained by hurling pieces of scrap that were once part of elegant buildings at Zangulus.

Lina shrugged, Gourry looked clueless, Amelia let out a foreboding breath, Zelgadis readjusted Phythan's weight on his back and Phythan did nothing since he was still unconscious. Thus the entire group joined Celo in his calm walk towards Martina and Zangulus.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 026: Powerful! Hidden Potential

Zangulus dramatically approached Martina as she threw boulders of debris at him in her wild state. He sliced through the projectiles, jumping from one to the other. "Martina!" He reached out to her, almost touching her, but he was thrown back by a great invisible force that sent him crashing to the ground below.

Martina lowered her levitation, landing near Zangulus. "Thou who tries to align fate and destiny. Wilt thou strike down thine companion now that she has become ye who wish for prosperity while pursuing ruin?"

Zangulus stood up with difficulty, holding his sword shakily in front of him. Then he lowered the blade. "No, it was never my intention to harm Martina. I only have this sword with me for self defense against the force possessing her. Release my Martina!"

"She who asks for ruin shall receive it," Martina rose her hand and brought it down in a swift motion. Blades of golden light appeared tracing the path of her fingers and colliding with Zangulus' upper body, reducing his bellhop uniform shirt to shreds.

At a distance that was close enough to comfortably watch and far enough to b relatively safe, there stood Celo, Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis, with the unconscious Phythan on his back. Celo rubbed his chin with his right hand, in a classic thinking pose producing a soft "hmm" sound.

"Hmm?" Lina echoed, "what does that mean?"

"The hero has lost his shirt, that means that the end of the battle is near." Celo nodded as if his assertion was based on nothing but the truest of science.

"What?" Lina screeched. "Ripped articles of clothing don't mean anything in real battles, this isn't that manga about the seven orange gems and the wish granting dragon I used to collect back home." Lina took a moment to muse that she hoped her collection was still safely hidden under her bed.

"If you don't believe me, just watch," Celo appeared to be fully confident about his conclusion.

Zangulus was clutching some sort of talisman that he was wearing around his neck, though it had been hidden under his shirt before. He removed the necklace and held up the talisman. "Look, Martina! This is lord Zoamelgustar's talisman; it's your most prized possession. You gave this to me in hopes that it would protect me. Don't you remember?" Zangulus dropped his sword and approached Martina holding up the talisman.

Martina's eyes were transfixed on the talisman, "Zoamelgustar?" She repeated unsure. "I know not such a name!" She prepared to launch the same attack as before with blades of yellow light flying towards Zangulus.

"Lord Zoamelgustar, protect me and help me save Martina!" A pale blue light emanated from the talisman forming a bubble around Zangulus as a protective shield.

Martina ceased her attack, "ye who eternally push and pull until it all falls into place. Ye to whom fate is a slave. Ye who live believing you are slaves of destiny and thus become so. Ye who defy chance. Ye for whom innumerable destinies are reachable. If thou believest, thou shall achieve..." Just as Zangulus reached Martina, her eyes closed and she collapsed into his arms.

"Martina..." Zangulus held her protectively and gently caressed her face. "You're safe now..."

"See?" Celo sounded rather triumphant as he approached the couple. "I told you that the battle was about to end. I'm sure those two will be fine on their own for now. Let us give them some time to rest and discuss other matters."

"You just don't want to face Martina when she wakes up," Lina theorized, her assessment being met with nothing but a suspicious cough from Celo, who quickened his pace.

As the group walked through the resort towards wherever Celo was leading them to talk, they passed a festival style stand with many soft stuffed animals that could be won by knocking over a stack of bottles with a ball. The trick to it was that one of the bottles in each pile was glued to the table so it wouldn't fall. Just as they walked next to the stand, Lina glanced at it, screamed at the top of her lungs and jumped into Gourry's arms burying her face in his chest and trembling terrified. "Slug! A slug, it's a slug!"

The group glanced at the slug plush toy on the display among other such toys. "It's only a toy slug," Amelia gently pointed out.

"I don't care if it's alive or not, it's horrible!" Lina's voice was a bit muffled since she was still hiding her face against Gourry's chest, unable to even look at the terrible sight before her.

"It's okay Lina, it can't get you," Gourry tried her best to console her, gently petting her hair and hugging her close.

"What's all the screaming about?" Phythan started to wake up. "Where am I?"

"You're awake, good," Zelgadis dropped him and stretched.

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia scolded as she hurried to help the dazed dragon to his feet. "You were unconscious for a while, Mr. Phythan." It was probably related to something Martina did when she lost control of whatever power it was she wielded back there.

"I was casting a luck spell, then I felt overwhelmed and..." his eyes, one of which was brown and the other violet, grew wide and fearful. "Spider!" He rushed to hide behind Amelia, who was noticeably shorter than him, thus not an appropriate person to hide behind. "Comrade of justice, I beg of you, please assist me in ridding the world of this evil!" He glanced at the toy spider once more. "On second thought, just get rid of it without me!"

"You have a phobia of spiders?" Zelgadis spoke in his most 'you're pathetic' voice.

Phythan nodded slowly, "the golden dragons didn't like me, they said I came from a bad family and would put me on clean up duty. The underground storage rooms were dark and had spiders."

"Aw," Amelia tried to console Phythan. "It's okay Mr. Phythan, you have new friends now, we'll keep you safe." All the while Zelgadis crossed his arms and looked annoyed, or perhaps more so jealous.

"I know what will make you feel better," Gourry continued his attempt to calm Lina. "I'll win you a prize. Give me three tries." He handed the employee in charge of the stand the appropriate coins.

Zelgadis gave up some coins as well, "two tries," it was the last bit of money he had left after his unlucky betting spree, but it would be worth it. He would win the toy spider for Amelia and she wouldn't refuse it since it was a gift. Then if Amelia had the spider in her arms, Phythan wouldn't get anywhere near her. Gourry prepared to throw the first ball, "wait," Zelgadis stopped him. "Try throwing a curve ball that hits all four targets."

"I can do that, but I don't think it'll work to knock them all down in one throw," Gourry mused. He held a yellow ball in his right hand, his left arm securely around Lina's waist.

"Trust me," Zelgadis kept his eyes attentively on the targets.

"Okay," Gourry threw a curve ball just as Zelgadis suggested. It flew in a semi-circular motion, hitting each of the four targets and knocking down several bottles.

None of the targets were knocked down completely, so no prizes had been won yet, but Zelgadis saw what he needed to see. "It's just as I thought. The hit should have at least lightly rattled all the bottles in each pyramid, but for each one there was a bottle that didn't move in the slightest. "For the first pyramid, aim at the bottle in the middle of the base; hit it hard enough to break it."

"Alright!" Gourry wasn't sure what this was about, but Zelgadis usually had good advice when he decided to express his opinion on something. Gourry threw the next ball just as Zelgadis said and shattered the bottle that was glued to the table, the aftershock of the movement causing the other remaining bottles to fall. "I won, and I still have one more try left!"

"For the second pyramid aim for the bottle on the right," Zelgadis advised.

Meanwhile the employee was looking nervous and annoyed. "It's not fair..." He muttered, but he dared not say anything else because the group looked strong and they appeared to be friends with the boss. He hoped he didn't get fired over this, though Celo merely looked amused.

The second pyramid of bottles was knocked down just the same as the first. "Alright, another victory!"

"My turn," aiming for the proper bottle, Zelgadis knocked down the two remaining pyramids in the same way. "You owe us two prizes each," he informed the frightened employee.

"Con-congratu-lations..." The worried employee stuttered. "What prizes would you like?"

"Hey Lina, what prize do you want?" Lina was unresponsive to Gourry's question, she didn't want to look towards the stuffed animals on the stand because if she did, she would see the toy slug among them and she didn't want to look at it.

"Let's give her some time to think," Zelgadis suggested, to which Gourry nodded, the plotting look on Zelgadis' face missed by him completely. But it wasn't missed by Amelia, who gave him a curious glance. "That," he pointed at the plush spider, which the employee handed over. "Amelia," Zelgadis grinned in a combination of mischief and sweetness. "It's for you."

Amelia paused as Phythan backed away from her and hurried to hide behind Gourry and Lina, the blond swordsman being tall enough to actually hide him fairly well. Amelia accepted the toy spider and looked at it for a confused moment before her features lit up. "I understand, thank you Mr. Zelgadis, it was very kind of you to help."

"You're welcome," Zelgadis didn't quite understand Amelia's response, but he basked in his victory, yet it was short lived.

Amelia approached Phythan with the plush spider in her arms. "Mr. Phythan, this is your chance to vanquish your fears!" She threw the plush spider into the air.

Phythan let out a scared squeak, not worthy of a dragon, then shot his laser breath at the falling toy. It disintegrated into ashes that were carried away by the gentle breeze. The golden dragon looked relieved. "I'm so glad that spider is gone. Thank you, Miss Amelia and Mr. Zelgadis; I am in your debt."

"It was nothing," Amelia smiled happily, while Zelgadis just stood there in frozen shock. At least Amelia was happy, thinking winning the spider was all a noble deed to help Phythan.

Curious at the commotion, Lina had peeked over to Phythan and witnessed the spider incident, without looking at the terrible slug looming near by. Her features turned wicked, "I'll show that slug who's boss!" She started to form a fireball in her hand. Fearing for the safety of his merchandise and most of all his life, the employee quickly threw the plush slug into the air, away from other flammable materials. Lina hit the slug dead on with a fireball, leaving nothing but ashes in the breeze and she punctuated her victory with a villainous laugh. "Mwahahahaha!"

The employee looked displeased. Those terrible sadists were destroying his cute little plush toys. Such adorable stuffed animals were made to be hugged, cuddled and loved, not burned to ashes! "Are you bullies going to keep abusing my soft little plushies?"

"Slugs are evil; they're a waste of material that could be used to make something cute like... Like that kitty over there!" Lina pointed at another plush toy. It was a white cat with a red bow on her ear and blue overalls.

"You like that one best?" Personally, Gourry was leaning towards the pretty jellyfish plush next to it, but the cat was cute too. "Alright then, it's yours."

The employee sighed and handed over the cat plush sadly. He thought they were going to destroy the poor dear. Lina received the stuffed animal with a slight blush on her face and a shy, "thanks Gourry..." holding it gently.

"You're welcome," Gourry smiled. The employee appeared to be relieved. That's how plushies were supposed to be treated, with love.

"Choose a prize, Amelia," Zelgadis shyly suggested. His spider plan didn't work, but at least he could still get a plush toy for Amelia.

Amelia's face lit up with so much joy that Zelgadis could barely believe it. "Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis!" She was almost jumping with happiness as she examined the remaining selection of stuffed toys. "That one!" The employee handed the selected toy over to the young woman, hoping that she too had seen the errors of her ways in participating in the destruction of cute and cuddly innocent little soft plushies. She seemed to have learned her lesson as she was blissfully hugging her prize with the love and respect it deserved.

Zelgadis blinked in surprise. "Really, Amelia? A rock golem? I thought you would pick the one in blue with the red cape and the yellow S."

"It's cute, but I like this one best." Amelia smiled hugging her plushie. Needless to say, the representation of the golem of yellow-brown stone was much softer than one of those could be in real life.

"If you say so..." this was Amelia, Zelgadis realized, one had to expect the unexpected.

"If our little detour is over, please follow me," Celo intervened. Night had already fallen between one thing and the other.

The group followed Celo for a short while, until they crossed paths walking down the street with some familiar faces. "There they are!" Filia hurried towards the group with Xellos close behind. She paused as she took in their appearances. "Those outfits and the bunny ears..." she tried her best not to laugh, but burst out in a fit of giggles anyway.

"Stop laughing!" Lina yelled with embarrass frustration. She hid her face with her cat doll; she had found a practical use for it pretty quickly.

"Really Filia, you're so rude," Xellos teased with a mocking grin.

"You should talk, you're laughing in silence!" Filia snapped, secretly thankful that the awkward silence that had formed between them was replaced with the comforting familiarity of petty arguments.

"At least I'm not being so obvious," Xellos defended. He then eyed Celo suspiciously. "May I ask what inspired you to tag along with Lina's little group?"

"He's hiring us," Lina piped in, all too glad to change the subject and steer the conversation away from matters concerning what she was wearing.

"Is he?" Xellos raised an eyebrow, one eye now open.

"Indeed," Celo nodded calmly.

Xellos felt Zelgadis' glare burning a hole in the back of his head and wondered what that was about. Then he remembered what was mentioned about chimeras in his earlier conversation with Celo. Zelgadis must have been thinking about how to stop Xellos from interfering. "I do hope you're not planning to play any tricks on them," Xellos warned.

Suddenly, the atmosphere appeared to be far tenser than before. "Of course not," Celo smiled, "I would never overstep your territory, general Xellos. I merely ask to borrow their services for a short while. Alas, not all monsters have your level of power. Some of us need to get by in different ways and it seems I'll need some help if I am to recover what was stolen from our master."

"Monster!" Filia gasped. She pointed at Celo; it seemed a lot of people had taken to pointing at him lately. "You're a monster?"

"Since we are revealing things, I might as well tell the truth. I'm a monster human chimera. It is good to see you again Miss Filia, it seems you've left your past life with the golden dragons behind. I commend you for that." There was that something again, the mysterious something that made Celo's super respectful tone incredibly infuriating.

"How much do you know about her?" Xellos growled before Filia could find her voice and respond. Just what did he mean by seeing her again?

"Only what I have heard," Celo responded vaguely. "Not nearly as much as the great general Xellos, I'm sure." Xellos glared in response to the thinly veiled implication, but made no effort to deny it. It seemed Filia had not noticed what Celo was playing at and assumed he was only referring to how Xellos always knew too much about things that shouldn't be any of his business.

"Monster!" Amelia exclaimed, pointing her accusing finger at Celo, who sighed helplessly. Would the pointing ever cease? "What kind of evil traps have you concocted against us?"

"I will reveal all once we are at a suitable place to talk," Celo smiled, keeping up with his respectful act. "If you do not wish to walk, I'm sure general Xellos can take you to the clock tower in the middle of the north forest where I shall be waiting, if he so approves of your attendance." Celo faded away into the astral side, teleporting back to the clock tower.

"We don't need Xellos' permission to go anywhere!" Lina yelled angrily. "And I can get there myself!"

"So many strange things are happening... monsters and that constant dark presence. It feels as if this entire place is surrounded in dark miasma, but then again, it's been like that all along, even if I don't see it." Phythan finally spoke after his long silence.

"Dark miasma?" Filia repeated, "I don't feel anything from the atmosphere, but..." She placed her hand on Phythan's forehead. "Why have your eyes changed color again?"

"What do you mean?" Phythan sounded as if he really didn't know what Filia was talking about.

"There's something there, some kind of presence in you, that must be what you're sensing that feels like miasma. It's... inside." Filia focused her senses on Phythan. "Maybe a curse? No, this is different from a curse." She slowly withdrew her hand, "what happened to you?"

Phythan shook his head, eyes downcast. "I don't know. A few more memories have come back to me, but I still don't know. I remember a little more about the battle with that monster, the monster that tried to steal the treasure I was guarding. I remember being attacked by golden dragons, then both the monster and I were left for dead. A figure in a black cloak approached us and..." A sharp pain coursed through his head and he was unable to continue. "That's all, I can't remember anything else, it just gives me a headache."

Filia knew that the information on Phythan's profile scroll was questionable and that the rumors she had heard probably had plenty of holes too. Maybe there wasn't a battle for the lamp, maybe it was all just a cover up to kill Phythan and the lamp just happened to be there. "Your family; what can you tell me about them?"

Phythan shook his head, "they all died long ago, fallen during missions, but that's classified information so I was never told about the specifics. I was led to think it was all because of the monster race, but somehow, I doubt that's completely true."

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 027: Mythical! Magic Lessons

Filia felt her heart break for a fellow golden dragon who had suffered the erroneous ways of her people. "I promise I'll help you find out what happened. I'll help you figure out what's happening to you now and if you're in danger," which he almost certainly was, "then I'll help you overcome it!"

Phythan smiled gratefully, "you're very kind Miss Filia, thank you."

"Count me in!" Amelia enthusiastically declared. "I'll help Mr. Phythan too!"

"Thank you Miss Amelia, you both have infinite beauty not only outside, but also in your hearts." The two girls blushed at Phythan's compliment while Xellos and Zelgadis glared fiercely.

Feeling left out, Lina decided it was about time to shift the spotlight back to herself. She wasn't about to offer any free help, so instead she pushed the group forward with her words. "There's no time to waste, we have a whole pile of mysteries to solve and it keeps on growing. I think our best bet right now is to take the invitation we were given and head to the clock tower at the north forest. But first, we'll take a quick detour at the nearby shops so we can get some decent clothes and change out of these ridiculous outfits!" The leader had spoken and all quarrels aside, the group followed.

xoxox xox xoxox

A short while later, the group found themselves at a costume shop. "It figures that the costume shops would be the only clothing stores around here with semi-normal outfits." Lina commented as she examined herself in the mirror. Her outfit looked more like a one piece leather bathing suit, than an actual outfit, but it still fit the sorceress image. She was wearing long matching boots that covered most of her legs, reaching above the knees, fingerless black gloves that reached her elbows and some light armor with a short white cape attached.

"I hardly call this normal," Zelgadis pouted as he examined his outfit, which consisted of white tight pants and a long green shirt with brown gloves and boots. The outfit also came with a little green hat that looked more like a tiny sack, but he didn't want to wear it. The clothes weren't so bad, except that green wasn't really his color and... and... oh, who cares? At least it was better than what he was wearing before.

"These clothes are pretty cool." Amelia placed her hands on her hips and looked at the mirror victoriously. She was wearing tight blue shorts, which were particularly short, Zelgadis observed, a red top with golden details and matching boots. On her wrists she had golden armlets and a matching tiara on her head. She also carried a lasso around her waist, which was apparently part of the heroic apparel.

"Not bad, these clothes are pretty comfortable after all," Gourry seemed satisfied with his outfit that consisted of black pants, boots and long coat with a big brown belt around the waist and two thinner belts crossed in the shape of an X over his chest, along with metal armor on the shoulders.

"I have no idea what the red R stands for, but this is comfy." Phythan was wearing white pants and a white shirt with a red R on it, dark gray gloves and boots.

"What I don't understand is why I need to wear this," Filia protested. "I was just fine with the clothes I had on before!"

Lina gave Filia a firm look, "if we're wearing these outfits, you need to wear a costume too."

"That's right Filia, you're so selfish, be a team player." Xellos' teasing voice just had to add something.

Filia growled at him, "why this?" She pointed at her outfit consisting of a short sailor suit with an orange skirt and a blue bow over her chest, orange heels and a red bow on her head. "Can't I wear something that's... not so short?" She tugged on the mini-skirt uncomfortably, but the fabric refused to grant her impossible wish of magically becoming longer.

Xellos gave her a detailed look up and down, his eyes pausing on her legs for longer than was needed for a quick examination. "I see nothing wrong with your outfit.

Filia's face turned red in a mixture of anger and embarrassment. She resorted to insulting his outfit as a comeback. "What about you? Are you obsessed with the color purple?"

Xellos took a moment to glance at his own reflection in the plentiful mirrors set out through the costume shop. "It's a nice color; I am rather fond of it." His outfit consisted of wizard style purple armor, pointy helmet included, and longer purple fabric falling over the pants.

"It looks like a stupid purple armored dress," Filia insisted.

Before Xellos could answer, because he always had some form of answer to everything, Lina interrupted. "Alright, we're done here. Let's get going!" She led the march through the door after having charged all the expenses to Xellos. He didn't really notice since he was too busy giving all his visual attention to Filia.

xoxox xox xoxox

Even though Lina did not bring up the possibility of being teleported and neither did Xellos, the group made good time after their little detour and arrived at the door of the clock tower in the middle of the dark forest to the north. Once there, the door was opened by Celo before the group made any indication of their arrival, thus proving he had been waiting and watching. "Welcome to my humbled abode, please come in, I already have some tea and cookies ready for my honored guests." He wisely made no comments on their outfits.

The group entered the old structure, with the ancient wood creaking in protest to their every step. The atmosphere gave the wooden tower an eerie feel, which seemed to fit with the residence of a monster, or partial monster. Once they were seated in a bigger tabled which was placed in the same room where Celo and Xellos had their discussion before, the questions began to flow. "First up let's drop the disguises. I hope you don't expect me to believe that this is your true appearance. Even if a part of you is human, I somehow doubt someone who's part monster would age so obviously."

"Very well," in the blink of an eye, Celo's form faded into something else. He still had eyes similar to Xellos, though his hair was black and he had fangs. "This is what I look like without a disguise."

Filia gave Celo a long look. It wasn't that she was surprised by the transformation. A lot of monsters resembled vampires even if they weren't of the vampire variety. It's just that something about him seemed familiar. Seeing his younger face and long black hair brought forward a memory that she couldn't fully grasp. The fangs were out of place though, they didn't match the image in her deeply buried recollection and that threw her off.

"Not very original," Lina commented dismissively. "Okay, now for some explanations," she half requested and half ordered. "Let's begin with what happened back there. Tell us about Martina."

"Ah yes, Miss Martina, or perhaps I should say Queen Martina," Celo began his explanation. "First of all, you should understand the principals of fate, destiny and chance, if you are to understand what happened to Martina. I'll put this in basic terms. A fate is an individual and destiny is a path that the individual takes. There are many paths in life that one can walk, leading one's fate towards a destiny. Chance is the force that pushes and pulls fate until it aligns with destiny. This is not the only force that moves it as fate itself has the power to move towards a certain destiny, even against the flow of chance. Of course, if chance is on your side, you'll have to spend less time and energy pushing your fate into alignment with the desired destiny." Celo paused and observed the expressions of his audience.

Everyone seemed to be paying attention except Gourry, who was staring off into space and Xellos, who looked bored. In Xellos' case he probably already knew the explanation so far, though Celo had a feeling that a certain detail which he was yet to speak would be a surprise to him, or perhaps not so much the detail but the interpretation of it. Lina nodded in acknowledgement, "I get it so far, continue."

Celo proceeded with his explanation. "Chance itself is a force generated by all living things. All of it together, the side effects of our actions and reactions however small, even the effects of our inaction and even our very thoughts. Monsters, dragons, humans, beastmen, animals, plants, everything, that is the force of chance. As a part of this force, we are capable of influencing it even beyond natural cause and effect. We can bend probability so to speak, it is the mysterious power of the mind. Monsters have the skill to bring misfortune, though they can bring fortune if they so wish it, it must be done by the movement of their fate, rather than the side effects upon chance. Dragons on the other hand tend to influence chance in favorable ways. For example, if a monster attacks a human village, the humans are likely to lose hope, blame one another for somehow drawing the monster there, and get mixed up in all sorts of disputes about what should be done. If a dragon attacks a human village, the humans are more likely to put their differences aside and work together to defend against the dragon, ending up with a more organized and unified community than before. Similar actions, different reactions."

At this point Filia was fiercely glaring at Celo, "it's not the same." She stated firmly.

"Certainly not," Celo agreed. "But you understand the basic idea. Beastmen can influence chance in both good and bad ways, though they tend to bring good luck towards those similar to them and bad luck towards those who are different. This is only chance and the will of fate can completely negate and even contradict such an effect in any possible case. That is to say, no one has to be lucky or unlucky, fate is stronger than chance, unless one surrenders their fate to chance. This makes chance seem a whole lot less important, since fate can negate it, except in the case of humans. They have the ability to move chance in any direction, good bad and in-between. They have a special alignment with chance, their fate rules it all for they rule over their fate. Even when one of another kind tries to guide their fate, the fate itself will try to throw them towards a certain destiny. Human fate is completely uncertain and at the mercy of the individual, strongly defying chance. With that said, it seems that chance is unimportant, but it should never be underestimated, because even a small chance can take down a powerful fate if one is not careful. To put it simply, if humans learned to control their ability to influence chance in both good and bad ways as needed, aligning their fates with the destiny they desire would be an easy task. Yet they think of themselves as fragile for the lack the superficial powers that monsters, dragons and beastmen possess."

Xellos chuckled in mock amusement, "are you saying that humans control it all? Not even chance can save the human race. The only real destiny is for the world to return to chaos."

"Maybe it is so, but not by our hands, it will be many millennia from now, by their own hands. I fear there might be a time when monsters, dragons and beastmen become extinct and with them the power of sorcery that the humans borrow." There was a long pause in which Celo looked resigned, Filia clenched her teeth and switched glaring between Celo and Xellos, going back and forth, Gourry looked just as clueless as always and the others continued to pay attention. "Ah, but there is no need to think of such far away apocalyptic times now."

"Especially since it's not going to happen." Though Celo expected another correction from Xellos, it was Filia who contributed her disagreement.

"So what does all this talk about fate, destiny and chance have to do with Martina?" Lina inquired. "I gather you were trying to harness her power to control chance, she's a human and as much as I hate to admit it has a strong will when it comes to Zoamelgustar, who doesn't even exist. That barrier Zangulus made is also something to consider. He's not supposed to be a sorcerer."

"He is not," Celo confirmed. "The talisman of Zoamelgustar carries Martina's spell. Her will, that is what Zoamelgustar is. It is even apparent in the name. Her full name is Martina Zoana Mel Navratilova, Zoamel comes from her name and gustar roughly translates into 'to favor' or 'to like'. Zoamelgustar's energy is the energy of Martina's wishes, the force of her fate and her ability to interact with chance. I taught her to tilt the odds in her favor in gambling and helped her to train her instinct so she could fulfill her role as the Red Queen of the casino. However, she was only able to wield good and bad fortune separately and sometimes lost control of the bad fortune during her training. Of course, there was someone to watch over her exercises and make sure nothing went wrong." The way Celo said it hinted that the someone was another person, rather than himself.

"So that's what Zoamelgustar really is..." Amelia mused. "If the mind is so powerful, then the potential of positive thinking is immeasurable!"

"You, young lady, are a frightening person." Celo observed with respectful distaste, even though that may sound as a contradiction, he somehow pulled it off.

"Thank you," Amelia smiled victoriously, "allies of justice are proud to be frightening to monsters!"

Before they got further out of topic, and most importantly because she was running out of cookies, Lina guided the conversation back on track. "So that spell that Martina performed was related to chance?"

"Yes," Celo took the hint and continued his explanation. "Chance is a collective conscious of sorts. Martina targeted a deeper connection with the human side of it, the most powerful bearers of chance. Humans are fragile, but they are adaptable and can achieve what others might have never guessed they could. The original spell called Master of Chance goes like this: 'I who walks between chaos and order, I who decides the path beyond borders, ye who knows no master, ye will become the caster. Ye am I who unites fate and destiny by chance, ye am I for whom all the world will dance.' The first part identifies the caster as a capable wielder of chance and chance itself tests the caster to see if it is true. Then, if the caster's will is strong enough, the power of chance becomes deeply connected to the caster, who becomes as chance itself."

"That spell," Phythan finally spoke up after his long silence. "That's not the spell Martina casted, but it is similar. Was that on purpose?"

"Indeed," Celo confirmed. "Over time people have attributed a form to chance, although it is a shapeless force with no physical attributes. People have come to picture chance as a beautiful but fickle woman. They call her Lady Luck. This Lady Luck is but a portion of chance, the portion that is closest to the fate of the caster. By controlling a smaller portion of chance with this less effective version of the spell, it should be easier to control. This spell called Lady Luck can be focused with these words: 'She who walks between chaos and order, she who decides the path beyond borders, she who knows no master, she will become the caster. I am she who unites fate and destiny by chance; I am she for whom all the world will dance.' It is not rare for a spell to be corrupted over time, such as it happened with the Dragon Slave. In this case the focus of the spell itself changes to concentrate in a smaller portion of fate, so the change is significant."

"So it's like a sub-spell in a sense," Lina surmised. "Lady Luck is a less powerful but easier to control version of the Master of Chance spell."

"Yes," Celo approved of Lina's interpretation once more. "All the gamblers at the Red Queen's table are allowed to use their own luck spells and amulets, thus I don't consider it cheating, given that they all get the opportunity to use what skill they have."

"Luck spells for gambling..." Zelgadis repeated with a tone of careful consideration.

"Mr. Zelgadis..." Amelia's voice carried a gentle but clear warning.

"Anyway, moving on to the important part." Zelgadis disregarded the possibility of working on his gambling skills. His luck made him a very bad candidate to risk trying to cast such spells. "I don't think that things are all that simple, this wasn't just about gambling. There's clearly more to it than that."

"Indeed," Celo nodded with no intentions of hiding it any longer. "With the help of Martina I hoped to draw out that which was stolen and kept in the boy." He motioned towards Phythan. "But alas, the lad passed out and was unable to face Martina's duel of chance. I know of his talent for good luck and thought that if his spells of fortune were pushed to the limit then his true self would have to emerge to support them and push out the invader, that which was stolen."

Phythan gained an expression that was almost identical to Gourry's. "I don't understand."

Gourry gave him a friendly pat on the back, "don't worry about it, I don't get it either, but the tea and cookies are good."

At that point of the conversation Xellos appeared to be truly interested but didn't produce any voiced prompts to get Celo to elaborate. Predictably, it was Lina who demanded more information. "Stop going in circles old man!" Never mind that his current appearance resembled a man in his late twenties, thus he was not really an old man in the literal sense, albeit he had been disguised as one before.

"Your good fortune draws power from your dragon energy," Celo addressed Phythan.

"Yes," Phythan nodded. "The spell I usually use is a shortened version of the original Fortune Lock spell, with it's name having been corrupted as Fortune Luck. It basically works by causing fate to lock on to a specific destiny, making that destiny much more likely to occur by boosting the power of fate to move towards it making use of favorable chance. The words for the short version are: 'fate, destiny, chance, clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed my will, my stance, deliver triumph to my hand.' It's similar to the spell Miss Martina casted in the sense that the original has a wider range. Having it go out of control isn't really a big concern, since it's just positive energy anyway, maintaining it is the real catch, because the more powerful the spell, the more energy it will require." Like with holy magic, dragons tended to have a natural talent for it. "The words for the original Fortune Lock spell are: 'ye who flies and never lands, ye who knows and understands, aligning fate, destiny, chance, eternal clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed mine will, mine stance, deliver triumph to mine hand.'

"The collective conscious again," Lina mused aloud. "I take it the ye that Martina and Phythan's spells refer to is the same thing, it's chance."

To be Continued