Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Slayers: Alive ❯ Chapter 16

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Slayers: Alive - Episode 046: Virus! No One Is Immune

Time passed and Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos, Filia and Fang journeyed all the way to Seyruun, making steady progress. They fought a few monsters on the way, but it was nothing particularly note worthy. When they finally reached the territories in the outskirts of Seyruun, the group found themselves running as fast as their legs could carry them. It wasn't due to being pursued by dangerous foes, but rather because of the massive downpour that caught them on the road. They ran and ran, longing for the shelter of Amelia's nice warm castle home.

When they finally arrived at the castle gates after rushing through the streets, a pair of guards in bright yellow rain coats let them through. Albeit the guards eyed Fang suspiciously for a second, they soon disregarded any mental alarms and assumed the being was another of the princess' unusual friends. Once the group was indoors, they squeezed the water out of their capes and shuffled towards their usual frequent visitor guest rooms, leaving little puddles of water in their path with every step. They already had dry clothes identical to their usual traveling outfits waiting for them. It was all thanks to their repeated visits to Seyruun, which had become expected, and Philionel's generosity.

Once the group was dry and changed, they went to see Philionel, who was all too happy with their arrival. "Welcome, welcome!" His loud voice echoed across the banquet hall where the castle cooks were busily bringing over dish after dish to satisfy, or attempt to satisfy, Lina's and Gourry's nearly insatiable appetites. "Amelia, I'm so happy that you've returned, my dear daughter!"

"Daddy, I'm happy to see you too and I have news!" Father and daughter shared a loving hug, while Amelia cheerfully threw a hint at Zelgadis that completely flew over his head.

Zelgadis and Amelia were already used to being in each other's company and very much enjoyed it. Other than the occasional blushing, everything flowed very naturally between them. With all that had been going on and after spending some more time together as an official couple, Zelgadis had relaxed to the point where he forgot his fears about facing Phil.

"What's this news you've brought me?" The Seyruun prince curiously asked with an overjoyed tone. If his dear daughter was so happy, then it had to be good news.

Amelia glanced at Zelgadis, who seemed to be merrily enjoying the chocolate covered strawberry that sat atop his chocolate chip vanilla cake, oblivious to the rest of the world. Of course, his table matters were proper, unlike the lack of table manners displayed by Lina and Gourry. Seeing that Zelgadis wasn't exactly in attention, Amelia decided to deliver her news last and first shared a different set of events. "Actually it's more than one news. When we were at Filia's home town, we ran into Naga."

"You did?" Contrary to what some believed, Naga did occasionally write letters to her father. She made it clear she wished to continue traveling and had no intentions of claiming the throne. Phil respected that and they remained in communication. "How is she? What did she say?"

"She's as well as ever. She hasn't changed at all," Amelia smiled. "She mentioned staying at the town for a little while. I think she was having a lot of fun helping out at Filia's shop with Gravos and Jillas." Naga was especially fond of Gravos, but like a good sister, Amelia kept her mouth shut about that to their father, until Naga decided to mention it.

"That's good to hear," Philionel had a bittersweet expression, that was finally filled with accepting joy. "As long as she's happy, I am happy for her."

Amelia gave her father an understanding look before moving on to the next piece of information. "This other news will come as a surprise," she paused to glance at Zelgadis to see if he was getting the hint. He gave her a fond smile when he noticed her gaze, then took a sip of tea, with too much calm to be aware of the situation. "Miss Lina and Mr. Gourry are engaged."

Lina paused in her eating, her face turning bright scarlet. "They are?" Philionel was surprised in a happy way. "Congratulations!"

Lina chuckled a little nervously, "thanks." Then in true Lina fashion she ceased the opportunity, "is there any chance of a congratulatory dinner?"

"Of course!" Philionel laughed heartily, while the cooks that were delivering additional food cringed. "I never would have guessed I would receive such wonderful news. Today is a happy day!"

"That's not all," Amelia continued, "there is one more thing I wanted to tell you about." She blushed and looked at Zelgadis just as his fork caught another portion of cake and his expression showed how delicious it was. "It's more like Zelgadis and I both want to tell you."

Upon hearing Amelia's words, Zelgadis put his fork down and looked at her curiously. Then the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. They fit in so naturally together, it was as if they were meant to be since forever. In truth it had been a long process of getting to know each other and developing a growing admiration and appreciation that eventually turned into love. Then it dawned on him that Amelia's father was still unaware of their status as a dating couple. The scarlet glow on his face and the sudden fit of nervous fidgeting were clear hints that Zelgadis was no longer unaware of the coming revelation.

Amelia took Zelgadis' hand under the table to help put him at ease as she revealed, "Zelgadis and I are now a couple."

"A couple!?" Philionel jumped from his seat, his chair falling to the floor behind him at the sudden motion.

The sight of the crown prince towering before him at the head of the table, made Zelgadis automatically jump to his feet blabbering incoherently. "A-amelia... lo-love... ve-very much... yes... sir... p-please..."

Philionel approached Zelgadis in a way that made him fear his head would soon end up laying by his feet completely detached from his neck. Then the tall gruff prince wrapped his massive arms around the chimera, nearly crushing his bones in the process. "Welcome to the family, my son!"

Zelgadis once again found himself in one of those special occasions when he was glad to be a chimera, because a fragile human would have surely been crushed to death by Phil's mighty hug. "Thank you," Zelgadis managed to choke out with what small traces of air he managed to keep in his compressed lungs.

"My little Amelia is all grown up," Phil sniffled a little before all out crying tears of joy. "I'm so happy! We must have a party to celebrate all these joyous occasions tonight. We'll have a double banquet for the royal engagement of my Amelia and Zelgadis and for the engagement of our dear friends Lina and Gourry!"

"A double banquet?" Gourry's eyes shone dreamily along with Lina's.

"Phil, you rock!" The redhead cheered.

Zelgadis noticed that Philionel immediately assumed that he and Amelia were engaged, not just dating, but neither half of the royal couple made an effort to correct him. Zelgadis thought that maybe this was the way it worked for a princess. She could be married, engaged, or not involved at all. Royals did tend to marry off quickly, thus perhaps their dating stage was particularly short, or they skipped it altogether.

The table overall was filled with joy, except for Xellos. The events and the happiness they caused didn't bother him. It was his human body which was bringing him misery. He had his head resting on his arms on the table face down in despair. His snack remained ignored; he wasn't in the mood to eat. His head hurt, his throat burned, his whole body ached and his brain felt slow as if he was in a constant daze. His eyes were watering and he had used up all the napkins on the table trying to keep his nose under control. He produced a pitiful groan while Filia, who had scooted her chair close to his, continued tracing circular patterns on his back in a futile effort to console him.

"Excuse me," Filia finally spoke. "I think Xellos and I must retire. It looks like he's sick with a cold, so I'll go tend to him."

Philionel gave the agonizing man on the table a curious look. He had learned from Amelia's stories that Xellos was a high level monster, thus strong enough to enter Seyruun without a problem. His nature aside, he was in more or less acceptable terms with the group most of the time. He seemed similar enough to a human, he smiled, told the occasional sarcastic joke and apparently was even interested in the very human activity of caring for his appearance, as he had dyed his hair, Phil assumed. Thus the kind prince ultimately accepted Xellos with the same hospitality he had for his daughter's other traveling companions.

"Monsters can catch colds?" Without waiting for a reply to the rhetorical question, Philionel continued, "you know what they say; no one is safe from falling in love or catching a cold. I'll send for Kally, she's been studying to become a doctor and is very good at mixing remedies. Just make sure you do not say the word octopus around her. The poor girl is terribly allergic to them and suffers from a bit of a trauma."

"I understand," Filia spoke for herself as she led Xellos away. He would probably shout out 'octopus' the second he saw the girl. Or if he was smart, he would wait until after she was done preparing a remedy for his cold and then shout out the O word. It would be ungrateful and cruel. At least he wasn't protesting to having Filia help him, humiliation or not, he was too sick to care.

After Filia and Xellos left, Lina and Gourry continued pigging out. Fang also had a place on the table, because pets were people too, according to Phil. The monster fox was enjoying a nice juicy steak, which he closely guarded from Lina. After informing one of the castle attendants to send Kally to tend to the ill guest, Philionel continued the cheerful conversation. "Looking forward to the crusade?"

"Oh yes! I mean eventually," was Amelia's blushing reply.

"Ah, you have more plans right now?" The crown prince asked, not really needing an answer. "Maybe you could even count it as part of the crusade, even if it is early."

Zelgadis gave his future father-in-law a curious look. "Crusade?"

"Oh yes, it's tradition," Philionel looked like he was taking a quick detour down memory lane, before becoming once again focused on the present. "When a Seyruun royal is married, he or she must venture in a crusade around the world to learn about Seyruun's position in it, experience different cultures and witness varying points of view. That would help when it comes to the eventual ruling of the kingdom, especially now that the barrier is gone and the outer world is open to us." Seeing Amelia's worried face, Phil quickly added, "don't worry, you can take your time with the crusade, I'll hold the fort here until you're ready. Of course that's after you're married, but the tradition can be bent a little. You could go on an engagement crusade instead of a marriage one. "

"Or both," Amelia cheerfully suggested.

"Or both," Philionel agreed.

So even if he married Amelia, the thought of which made Zelgadis blush bright red, he didn't have to stick around the castle right away? He could continue traveling around the world with Amelia and still be somehow fulfilling his new royal duties by doing so? Oh yes, life was good, all the trouble he had endured in his existence was well worth it for what was to come and for what was transpiring in the present.

xoxox xox xoxox

It didn't take long for Kally to arrive at Xellos' room, where Filia was taking care of him. She wasn't wearing her cloak, which had been tossed in a corner of the room in disgust. Xellos had caught her off guard when she was helping him to his room and blew his nose on it. Even so, constantly watching over Xellos wasn't going to make it easier for Filia to eradicate any possible feelings she knew she had for him, but she couldn't help it if she was a merciful creature. Maybe she could hammer it, metaphorically, into her own skull that Xellos was an annoying problem and that she was better off without him in her life. She thought that he reminded her of that constantly with his words and actions, yet it refused to sink in.

Some quick introductions were exchanged with Kally. The shrine maiden, now an apprentice doctor, had mid-back lenght reddish-brown hair, big green eyes and a freckled face. She chattered away about the biological aspects of the common cold and why it was so common. While she was giving her lecture, which no one had requested in the first place, she also occupied herself in laying out her tools and supplies on the table and mixing herbs. Once the mixture was done, she handed Xellos a most unappetizing green goop in an oddly shaped cup.

Xellos gave the medicine a disgusted look, then gave Filia a mischievous glance. "Octagon..." Filia was ready to pounce on the unsuspecting Kally and cover her ears, but she stopped last minute in an odd position behind the girl with her hands left and right of her head.

Kally blinked as Filia pretended to stretch and scooted away. She then addressed Xellos' comment. "It's a superstition really, there's nothing scientific about serving medicine in an octagon shaped cup rather than a circular one. The herb mixture is a product of research though, but I thought, even if the octagon might not help, it certainly won't hurt."

"I see," Xellos sniffed the odd concoction and even more disgust invaded his features as he wrinkled his nose and stuck out his tongue in a facial sign that anyone would understand.

"It's as bitter as it smells, but it works wonders against the common cold, even if it'll make you a bit sleepy at first," Kally insisted. "These herbs grow exclusively in the fall. It's summer now, so last year's supply is running low. It's okay though, we should have just enough to last until this fall."

"October," at the well pronounced beginning of the word Filia almost tackled Xellos to cover his mouth, once again stopping at the last moment, frozen in a peculiar posture. "Is one of my favorite months of the year," Xellos finished with a smirk, while Filia continued to pretend she was stretching.

"Mine too!" Kally cheerfully agreed. "By the way, Miss Filia, you seem to be rather stiff. I could brew you a remedy that will help your muscles relax."

"Don't worry about me, I'm just fine," Filia laughed awkwardly. She knew Xellos was throwing false alarms around on purpose to embarrass her.

"If you say so..." Kally noticed that Xellos still had not consumed his medicine. "Come now Mr. Xellos, you don't even need to drink it all. Just one or two drinks will make you feel all better. Make an effort for your health."

A long moment passed, during which Xellos didn't do anything. "Oh for crying out loud!" Losing her patience, Filia snatched away the octagon shaped cup from Xellos. "It's not so bad, watch." She took a swig of the green goop and her face soon turned the same color, but she swallowed it anyway. "See? I'm braver than you!"

Feeling challenged, even if he knew it was obviously a trick, Xellos snatched the octagon shaped cup back and drank. He needed the medicine anyway to help heal his current body, so it was in his best interest to endure the foul taste. Just as Kally was looking rather pleased that her patient drank his medicine as he should, Xellos voiced a peculiar word, "pulpo." The word caused Filia's eyes to open as wide as moons as Kally let out an earsplitting shriek and ran out of the room in a frantic panic.

Filia twitched in frustration as she noted, "you're bilingual."

Xellos grinned in amusement and added, "apparently so is Kally."

Filia frowned deeply, "you cruel piece of raw garbage!"

"Sweet dreams to you too, Filia," Xellos shifted positions on his bed and got comfortable. Those herbs were making him more than just a little sleepy. He better be cured by the time he woke up or he would chase Kally all over Seyruun singing Amelia's octopus song. 'Octopus, oh my, oh my, when you got two it's an octopi!' He patted the empty space on the bed next to him in an obvious invitation for Filia to join him. "My evil plot to give you my cold was foiled when you greedily drank some of my much needed medicine. That's okay; I'll forgive your terrible lack of consideration for my health and still kindly offer you a place on my bed."

"I have a bed of my own to sleep on." The golden dragon responded with a glare and tried to firmly maintain it no matter how strangely amusing Xellos' overly cheerful grin was. She used to hate that painted grin. When did she stop hating it? She gritted her teeth to stop herself from stupidly grinning back and initiating a pillow fight that she knew she would win. She was feeling a little sleepy because of the herbs, but it was evident that Xellos' human body would succumb to the side effects first; he could barely keep his eyes open.

Filia's assumption was proven to be true as Xellos helplessly fell into a deep slumber, while Filia was still glaring at him. She could leave him to his rest and retreat to her own room. Yet she did take that nasty remedy, so she should be protected against the possibility of catching his cold. She could take a nap next to him and it wouldn't be harmful to her health, only to her sanity, but hadn't she already lost that anyway? She grumbled a few incoherent insults directed at Xellos' sleeping form and finally gave in. She wasn't accepting her feelings, not by a long shot.

She was just taking a nap and guarding Xellos at the same time because he was evil and needed to be guarded. If she left him alone he might miraculously recover from the remedy's sleepy side effects, find himself completely cured of his cold and go on a Dragon Slave rampage through Seyruun. Filia was bravely guarding a horrible criminal for the sake of protecting the fair kingdom. She was making a noble sacrifice by sleeping next to Xellos.

Filia repeated the notion in her head a few times until she realized that it was futile to try to trick herself. It was a pity because she used to be so good at it, but not anymore. Maybe Xellos cunning rubbed off on her and she became harder to trick, even by herself. Then in a very uncharacteristic burst she thought, 'forget excuses' and laid down next to Xellos just because she felt like it. She even allowed herself to wrap her arms around him and cuddle close. The only thing she didn't allow herself to do was accept that her feelings were more than just a passing phase of extreme idiocy.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 047: Good and Bad! Rain and Sunshine

The rain that fell over Seyruun had stopped and the skies became sunny and clear. It was as if the weather was mocking the travelers it soaked by turning nice shortly after they finally reached shelter. Weather sarcasm aside, Zelgadis and Amelia were in a good mood as they took to the streets of the fair kingdom with Fang by their side. The monster fox had curiously followed them out and Amelia, who was rather fond of animals, took it upon herself to show him around. Zelgadis didn't like the idea as this was Zelas' pet that Xellos was supposed to walk. Yet not even the chore could ruin his overall good mood as he walked through town next to Amelia.

"Can we stop here a moment? I need to get something." Zelgadis pointed at a large warehouse. It was mostly a place where merchants left their goods, though it could also be used as a storage room for personal property. "I'll be right back."

"Sure," it didn't look like Zelgadis wanted Amelia to tag along inside, so she waited for him on the street, rocking back and forth on her feet. A few noises were heard from inside the storage as if an avalanche of things fell over. Fortunately, Zelgadis emerged unharmed soon after. "This is where you keep the things you've picked up on the road, right?"

"Yeah, I sometimes did a little treasure hunting on the side while looking for a cure," Zelgadis revealed.

"What did you need to get?" Amelia curiously inquired.

"This," Zelgadis showed her a map. "It's only a standard map of the continent, but it's good to have it on hand, just in case."

"You've always been a great navigator," Amelia recalled how Zelgadis would study their surroundings when they journeyed outside of the barrier for the first time.

The pair happily continued on their way until they reached the Seyruun main park. Zelgadis was a bit uneasy, but Amelia seemed to trust Fang to behave well enough. The kingdom's children recognized the princess and immediately surrounded her in hopes of hearing another of her adventure stories and more so hoping they could play with the big animal that accompanied her. The near by parents were a little anxious, but trusted Amelia's judgment.

It turned out that Fang was rather easily amused. He seemed to be pleased enough playing fetch with the kids and was seemingly strong enough not to be too bothered by their constant squeals of joy, despite being a monster fox. Who knows, maybe he wasn't even pure monster, but some kind of monster and fox chimera or something. Amelia and Zelgadis were too focused on each other to question Fang's nature as long as he didn't attack anyone.

xoxox xox xoxox

Amelia and Zelgadis spent a nice afternoon at the park while Lina and Gourry continued pigging out. As for Xellos and Filia, the side effects of the medicinal herb remedy they drank were already wearing off. Xellos has felt irresistibly sleepy, but his need for rest was satisfied after a short time. He was feeling much better when he woke up, his cold was gone. Unfortunately, that didn't mean he wasn't in pain, for it was precisely a jolt of pain which had woken him up. "Filia, wake up, lover..."

Filia opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was Xellos' face very close to hers. "Lo-lover? Liar!" She jumped out of the bed, no such terrible things had transpired, she had to reassure herself of it.

"It looks like I'm cured from my cold, but I need to ask a small favor of you." Xellos had the same tone of voice he used when he was pretending to be somewhat nice right before embarrassing Filia.

The golden dragon knew it was coming, Xellos was surely about to say something that would make her blood boil. "What?" She snapped angrily.

"Could you take care of this?" Lacking a proper explanation from Filia's point of view, Xellos began to take off his shirt.

"Take care of what? What are you doing?" Filia frantically questioned in a panic.

"This," Xellos pointed to his back where there were several fresh cuts.

"Oh," Filia examined the cuts in perplexity. "How did you get those? They almost look like claw marks." She reached out to gently touch the affected area and froze when she saw her hands. Her gloves were torn at the fingers. She must have slipped her hands into his shirt when she was hugging him in her sleep. Then she must have undergone a partial transformation, which was further emphasized by the fact that her tail was still out, though her dragon claws and fangs had shrunk into human nails and teeth. Filia felt her face turned even redder than it already was. She felt like all her blood had rushed to her cheeks.

"I think you know how this happened," Xellos teased. "Don't worry, when I recover my monster powers you won't have to hold back. Look forward to it," he winked.

With gritted teeth and a growing amount of mortification, Filia considered running away and finding a deep hole to hide in for the next decade or so. Yet she didn't, instead she forced herself to remain rooted to the spot and heal Xellos.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Where are you going, Filia?" Xellos inquired as he followed her like a second shadow.

Fed up with him and in desperate need of some breathing room, Filia quickened her pace across the Seyruun gardens until she came to stand in the shade next to a storage room. "Stop following me! Go away raw garbage, you're so annoying!"

"I know you don't mean that," Xellos gave her an infuriatingly flirty look, which made Filia growl loudly. "C'mon Filia, you know you want me."

A murderous glare with clenched teeth and fists was Filia's reply accompanying her threatening growl. Some time ago in the era of her grandparents' youth, some of the golden dragons made a movement that eventually banned human cuisine. Filia herself had never tried the delicacy, but she was sure some dragons were skilled in preparing it in secret. Right now, she was tempted to try. Since Xellos was fully human at the moment, she wouldn't even have to worry about him being a poisonous monster if she devoured him.

"You must really have a lot of bottled up passion," Xellos curiously observed. "You look like you want to literally bite my head off and your fangs are showing." He winked again, then kept his eyes open afterwards in an unblinking direct amethyst gaze that seemed to draw her in. "If you've truly fallen desperately in love with me, I might be willing to do you the honor of accepting your affections."

"I wish I knew exactly what you're feeling when you lie like that, you cold hearted trickster." Filia snapped, near the point of frustrated tears of anger. A pulsation of energy filled the air, ignored by both halves of the argument.

Filia was making even less sense than usual as of late and it was getting to Xellos. Her emotions were ever changing, a wild roller coaster that he couldn't keep up with. His empathy was making him dizzy. "I wish I knew what it's like to be a golden dragon, because then I might actually understand your nonsensical randomness. I'm offering to give you what you want, so why don't you just take it? Are you so obsessed with your golden dragon ideals that you can't even realize your own lust, even if it's so obvious." Another pulsation of energy occurred, making the storage room next to them tremble.

"It's not lust!" Filia yelled, lust was impure and unworthy of a dragon. Then again, to say she lusted for a used to be monster, might be less horrible than to say she felt an unacceptable love towards a used to be monster. Especially when sooner or later the human would become a monster again, and a high ranking one at that, with a long list of crimes against the dragon race. Both possibilities were terribly wrong by themselves, thus both possibilities occurring simultaneously were certainly too much to bear.

"Are you in love with me then?" Xellos argued back. His careful tone was gone as he got into the heat of the disagreement. Another pulsation of energy occurred, followed by a bright light coming from the windows of the storage room next to them. The light invaded their senses along with a strange kind of resonance that made them lose consciousness.

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"C'mon Xellos, if you die now, I won't get paid!" The upset greedy voice of Lina Inverse brought Xellos back from his short coma.

Xellos' eyes focused on the redhead hovering over his still form. "I'm alive," he stated the obvious.

"What happened? Did the bleach fumes make you pass out or something?" Lina curiously inquired, her question making no real sense to Xellos. "Filia was out like a light too."

"Where am I?" Filia started waking up, feeling rather disoriented. She was arguing with Xellos, the atmosphere felt heavy, there was a bright light from the storage room and that's all she remembered. The next thing she knew, she was waking up and Lina and Gourry were already there.

"Lina and I saw a light, so we came to see what it was," Gourry explained. "Was the light from a spell? I didn't know there was a bleach spell."

"Bleach spell?" Filia blinked in confusion.

"What's all this about bleach?" Xellos inquired, he couldn't find a way to link something like bleach to the current situation.

Filia stared at him, "your hair," she reached over to pet his hair with her gloveless hands. "You're blond now."

"Blond?" Xellos allowed a strand of hair to fall over his face, looking a little cross-eyed as he attempted to examine it. Now the bleach comments made sense, except he held no memories about bleaching his hair. "I don't know how this happened. Filia?"

"Don't look at me, I was unconscious too ever since that light came from the storage," Filia reminded. Her confusion had a companion in the shape of more confusion. She blinked, that was odd; aside from her own feelings it was as if she felt someone else's. It was as she imagined empathy to be, except there was only one extra set of feelings, even though there were three people in the immediate area next to Filia.

"Maybe the light had something to do with it," Lina theorized. "Let's go ask Phil what he's keeping in the storage."

Xellos and Filia got to their feet and walked off with Lina and Gourry, off to find Philionel. They had only taken a few steps when a ripping sound was heard like torn fabric. All eyes landed on Xellos who shook his head, though he was well aware of the fact that the sound came from behind him. Everyone was staring with slacked jaws and wide eyes. He could barely find a way to discretely confirm if his pants had a hole in them or not, though at that point he was pretty sure they did. It wouldn't make any sense; the pants fit him just fine a few minutes ago. Even if Filia turned out to be right in her warning about the eventual consequences of his growing sweet tooth and recent pie addiction, his pants were baggy to begin with, so there was no reason for them to stop fitting all of a sudden.

"Tail?" Xellos grabbed the appendage, feeling his own grasp, confirming that it was indeed a real tail attached to him in the area where tails are usually attached. The tail was long enough to touch the ground if he let it down. It was a dragon tail very similar to Filia's tail covered in golden scales, minus the pink bow of course. "Why in the world do I have a tail?" Xellos looked rather comical running in circles trying to get a better view of the tail's origin. "Where did it come from?"

"Your behind, apparently," Lina pointed out the obvious with a very Gourry-like tone of voice.

"I know that," Xellos snapped, "but why is it there?"

Filia placed her hand on Xellos' shoulder, her expression still frozen in shock. She took a deep breath and looked into his eyes. "Listen carefully," he nodded; she sounded serious, as if she had a theory about what was going on after all. "Take a deep breath, like this," she demonstrated the breathing exercise which Xellos copied. Filia then placed a hand on his chest. "Do you feel that warmth in your diaphragm?" Again Xellos nodded. "Focus your energy there, then look straight up to the sky and exhale strongly."

Xellos followed the instructions exactly as he was told, with Lina and Gourry watching the scene unfold with curiosity. A beam of laser was shot straight up into the sky from Xellos' mouth. "Was that a laser breath?" Now it was Filia's turn to nod silently. This couldn't be happening. Being turned into a human was one thing, but this was too much. If Lord Beast Master heard about it, she might be angry, probably, most likely furious. "I'm a..." Did he even dare to say it? "I'm a golden dragon? How is this even possible?" The curse was supposed to turn him into a human. He could still feel the curse, but it was being suppressed by another magical force. It was a powerful force that kept him as a member of the golden dragon race.

"Wow, can you give us rides like Filia?" Gourry's well intended question was met with a piercing glare from Xellos and not further dignified with a verbal response.

"This is some twist," Lina observed. "We better hurry up and find Phil. He should be able to tell us what's in that storage that could have caused this, assuming the timing of the light wasn't just a coincidence... Nah, it would be too convenient to be just that." The group hurried away to pull the monarch away from his duties and seek a much needed explanation to this new development.

xoxox xox xoxox

"In conclusion, it is Seyruun's duty to help the outer world towns that are suffering as a result of this year's spring and summer harvest, or lack thereof." Philionel was just finishing off an inspiring speech to his royal council, at the head of a long meeting table.

"You can't go in there!" The voice of the guard at the door was heard.

"It's an emergency!" Xellos pushed past the guard with ease, literally pushing him into the opposite wall of the hallway.

"Control your strength!" Filia scolded, as she, Lina and Gourry followed Xellos into the meeting room.

"Believe it or not, that wasn't on purpose," Xellos had become used to needing to put extra effort into everything to get his human body to respond and the additional strength of a dragon came too suddenly for him to be immediately adjusted to it. He didn't even want to think about what it would be like during his first few days as a monster again, because he was still determined to return to his original species.

Would he go around clumsily breaking things until he relearned to control his massive monster power? If he broke one of Zelas' favorite bases she would have his head... Then again, if that happened, maybe he could teleport over to Filia's shop, as he would once again have easy access to the astral side, and get her to fix the vase or make a replica. Then he could replace it before Zelas even noticed... Albeit she would probably notice anyway, but maybe she would forgive him since it was already fixed. Okay, now he was getting way ahead of himself.

The meeting room was filled with urgent and alarmed murmurs as all those present wondered about the emergency. "What happened?" Philionel urgently asked. He blinked as he did a double take on just who had arrived. "You're Xellos, aren't you? I almost didn't recognize you with your new hair color; I wasn't even completely used to picturing you with black instead of purple yet. You have a tail too, is that the latest fashion among monsters lately?" The crown prince spoke very casually for someone who was addressing a monster general, whom he thought was still a monster. He seemed to realize he was getting off topic and quickly returned to the discussion of the apparently urgent matter on hand. "You said there was an emergency?"

"Yes," Xellos replied with emphasis, "I'm a golden dragon."

Philionel blinked in confusion, mimicking Gourry's expression. "You're not Xellos? You look just like him, except for the hair and tail."

"I am Xellos!" His fangs and claws started peeking out as he became exasperated.

"Calm down or you'll transform!" Filia warned. She had a feeling that Philionel might want to keep the ceiling of his meeting room exactly where it was. The royal council members didn't look too eager to become close witnesses of a fully transformed golden dragon throwing a hissy fit over his current species.

Xellos took a deep breath and paused before exhaling. Maybe it was too much of a deep breath. He could feel the same warmth as before crawling up his throat. He raised his hand in a sign of 'just a moment' and approached the nearest window. He opened it, released an accidentally charged laser breath into the sky and returned to his previous position addressing Phil. "I suspect a light that came from the storage room near the garden is responsible for turning me into a golden dragon," Xellos half growled and half spoke. He tried to force himself to appear cool, calm and collected but something was bothering him. It was Filia; she had a rather peculiar scent to her that he had not noticed before. It invaded his senses and was driving him crazy. "I would appreciate it if you could explain what's in there that could have caused this." Xellos finished with forced politeness.

"What about the emergency?" Philionel questioned with fading alarm.

"That's the emergency," Xellos confirmed.

"I see," Philionel looked at one of the guards, who was standing around idly in a corner. "Kalio, please fetch me the key to the storage in the garden and bring it to me there."

Kalio, a young man with light brown hair, blue eyes and a rather silent personality, nodded quietly. Unlike his sister, Kally, he wasn't allergic to octopus or afraid of them. He did have a deep hatred for the sea creatures because of the pain his dear sister had to endure. The mere mention of an octopus made him feel angry and on edge. He became a vicious berserk swordsman if he ever saw an octopus and would stop at nothing to slay it. He ran off to accomplish his assigned task swiftly.

"Let's go, I'll show you what's in the storage," Philionel offered.

"Your majesty, what about the meeting?" One of the royal council members seated near Phil's place on the table inquired.

"We will continue it once I return, I won't be gone long. Let's take a fifteen minute break everyone!" Once the crown prince announced the break, the royal council members were all too eager to shuffle out of the meeting room and get themselves some coffee refills for their cups and perhaps donuts.

To be Continued

Slayers: Alive - Episode 048: Dragon! A Golden Opportunity

Xellos kept annoyingly wagging his dragon tail with every step he took alongside Filia, Lina, Gourry and Philionel. The group was almost to the storage at the Seyruun royal garden when Filia finally stopped and grabbed Xellos' tail. "Would you stop that already? Why are you so fidgety? Even if this is unexpected, I can't imagine the," cue heavy sarcasm, "great Xellos getting nervous."

Xellos cringed at the sudden contact and gave Filia a rather predatory look that instantly made her let go of his tail. As soon as he was free from her grip, he went over to the opposite side of the group, which put Lina and Gourry between him and Filia, while Phil continued to lead the way. He stopped the wild tail movements, but the appendage still twitched now and then.

Filia couldn't help it but to stare. She felt as if he was fighting against something he kept well hidden. Why she had such a feeling, she didn't know. It couldn't be simply because Xellos was a golden dragon, Filia had been around plenty of golden dragons before and they didn't give off such a clear aura that resonated with her own.

"Here we are," Philionel announced as he stopped in front of the storage. Kalio was already there, ready to hand the monarch the requested item, the storage key. "Thank you Kalio, that will be all for now." Kalio nodded and went on his way to do his castle guarding rounds. Phil held the small key to the lock on the storage door. Though the keyhole was appropriately small, the lock itself was rather large, making the lock and key seem mismatched. His large hands grasped the key too strongly and it snapped in half. "Oops..." Phil examined the smaller half which belonged inside the lock. He wouldn't be able to push that end of the key far enough into the lock to make it work now that it was broken. It would probably make things worse if a piece of key got stuck in the lock.

"Forget the key, I'll break down the door!" Xellos snapped, stepping forward to do the offered deed.

"Stop it!" Filia slipped his arms under Xellos' from behind, holding him back. "You're giving golden dragons a bad name!"

"The golden dragons have done enough of a good job giving themselves a bad name!" Xellos retorted. Filia's closeness bothered him for some reason. It was a sensation that was not alien to him, but felt amplified and out of control. Then there was that scent, was it some kind of perfume he never noticed? It was all over Filia and it was pushing him to the edge of insanity. It's not that it was unpleasant. The problem was that it was too pleasant, too attractive. He was supposed to make Filia go to him, he wasn't supposed to... Wait a minute, was that lust? Well it wasn't a virtue, not that a monster would care, but Xellos was collected enough to keep such things under absolute control. He simply had no time for distractions in his line of work. This was different, it was instinct, he realized. His face turned scarlet against his will.

"What's wrong with you?" Filia released Xellos as she realized he had stopped struggling against her grip. "Do you have a fever?" She touched his forehead with one hand and her own with the other to compare the temperatures. "You're warm, but that's normal for a dragon. Are you in any pain?"

Yes, not that Xellos would ever admit to it, plus it wasn't pain in the usual sense. "Hands off," Xellos growled.

"Hmp!" Filia made an exasperated sound and threw her head back in indignation, hands on her hips.

This dragon instinct or whatever it was, it was terribly annoying. Sure, Xellos was a monster. Who cares about being proper? But that wasn't the point. A conscious decision to throw all restraint out the window, while retaining the ability to summon it back at a moment's notice was one thing. Giving into some wild uncontrollable animal instinct was a very different thing. It was... it was... degrading. 'No wonder golden dragons are so repressed,' Xellos mused. 'It's their means to retain some dignity and be civil. Who wouldn't be temperamental like this?'

"Hi, what's everyone doing?" Amelia approached with a friendly smile, Zelgadis and Fang next to her. After letting Fang play for a while, they returned to the castle. Her eyes landed on the blond Xellos with the dragon tail and she blinked in confusion. "Mr. Xellos?"

"I'll have an explanation just as soon as your father decides to share it." Xellos gave Philionel an impatient look.

"I would, but the key is broken," Philionel showed the tiny remains of the small broken key in his massive hands.

"That's no problem," Amelia removed a hairclip that was unnoticeable on her hair and began to work on picking the lock. She twisted the clip this way and that, until a click was heard and the lock was open. "There," the princess happily announced.

"That was unexpected," Lina commented.

"Just like you sharing your cheesecake." Gourry added something to the list of unexpected events.

"What's this I hear about Lina sharing?" Zelgadis made a surprised expression. "You're joking, right?"

Lina pouted, "what's that supposed to mean? I'll have you know I'm a very generous person!"

Gourry nodded in agreement, "she's usually very selfish, but today she improved. She let me have a slice of cheesecake. It was a small slice and she ate the rest, but that's more than she would normally share with anyone."

"He kept giving me the most pitiful look!" Lina pointed at Gourry while reenacting his expression with big sad eyes.

"The greedy Lina shared food, the justice obsessed Amelia picked a lock, the gloomy Zelgadis is cheerful, the virtuous Filia is bursting with lustful desires." At that point Filia interrupted Xellos' speech to protest, but he ignored her and continued. "And Lord Beast Master's general is a golden dragon. The world has been turned upside-down and it makes no sense what so ever. What can I say? Gourry, you're a genius!"

As expected, the obvious sarcasm flew over Gourry's head, at least that much still made sense. Gourry didn't know why Xellos was giving him a compliment, but like a polite person would do, he said "thanks," with a smile.

"How did you learn to pick locks, Amelia?" Philionel curiously asked.

"Zelgadis taught me," the princess smiled and blushed.

Zelgadis wondered if he should start coming up with an excuse for teaching Phil's daughter skills that were usually associated with thieves, but it didn't look like it would be needed as Phil laughed in good humor. "You must teach me that trick one day, my son. It would be quite useful since I'm always accidentally breaking these fragile little keys or losing them and I wish I didn't have to trouble the local locksmith so often." Not that it was any trouble at all for the locksmith to get hired for a relatively simple job and earn some extra coins ever so often.

"Sure," the world was definitely smiling on Zelgadis at long last.

After the, in Xellos' opinion, unnecessary suspense, Philionel finally opened the door to the storage to reveal a world of crates and dust. "Amelia, do you happen to remember where that glowing pearl-like jewel was?"

"The fickle wish granter?" Amelia inquired, wondering why her father needed such a thing. She soon connected the dots when she took into consideration Xellos' appearance. "It's way in the back. Did something happen with it?"

"Maybe," Philionel began to move large crates around with impressive strength. "The story goes that there was a light coming from the storage when Mr. Xellos over there got his makeover. I thought it might be related to the jewel. To think it would still perceive the wishes of people outside the storage room even if it's buried under all these crates. Maybe we should move it to the deepest castle basement and put it under a magical barrier."

"If it's still causing trouble, I think that would be best," Amelia agreed.

Philionel managed to reach the proper crate containing the jewel. It was easy to tell apart from the other wooden brown crates due to the word 'danger' being written all over the crate in red paint. "Ah, here it is," though the crate was nailed shut, Phil easily opened it. Inside there were ribbons of paper and a massive amount of cotton.

"Be careful, daddy," Amelia cautioned.

Philionel took a deep breath, rolled up his sleeve and reached into the box. He retrieved a glowing pearl-like jewel about the size of a marble.

"That's it?" Lina frowned in disappointment at the anti-climatic device. Sure, it was glowing and it looked pretty, but bigger more valuable jewels could be made to glow like that by embedding a light spell into them. Jewels made excellent containers for spells.

"This is it," Philionel announced ominously. "Amelia, would you like to tell the story?"

"Of course," Amelia cleared her throat and began the legendary tale. "As you might already know, pearls are formed by clams as a defense mechanism against an irritation. There is a legend that a mermaid once cried a bitter tear and it fell into a clam. The clam defended itself against it, but the mermaid tear was so pure despite its sorrow that instead of a white pearl, a crystal clear pearl was produced. The mermaid wished that no one had to suffer as she did, that tear, was the last tear she cried before she died of broken hearted sadness. The tear carried her will and her spirit before she banished in the bottom of the ocean. The tear became a wish granting pearl. However, the pearl which held the mermaid's spirit would only grant the wishes that she believed were necessary. The legendary clam holding the magical pearl had been sought out after for a long time, until one of Seyruun's fishing boats finally found it."

Filia sighed deeply, she was reminded of the mermaid story that she read back at the aquarium. "What a tragic story."

"What a stupid story," Xellos just had to ruin the moment for Filia, who gave him an intense glare. "So the mermaid cried, her tear fell inside a clam and somehow this all happened under water? If the mermaid was under water, what difference would it make if she cried or not? She would already be wet. Besides, wouldn't the tear dissolve as it mixed with the sea water around her? Plus tears are just salty water anyway, why would it irritate the clam?"

"It's magical!" Filia argued. "It's hard to explain, that's why it's a legend, but the pearl jewel is real enough if it did this. It granted your wish when you said you wanted to know what it's like to be a golden dragon."

"That was sarcasm!" Xellos almost yelled. "Stupid mermaid spirit, I wish I was a monster again!" The pearl maintained its relatively dim glow and ignored Xellos' wish.

"It doesn't work that way Mr. Xellos, the mermaid spirit will only grant the wishes she feels like granting," Amelia pointed out.

"I want to try it," Zelgadis saw it as an opportunity to be cured of his chimera condition and wondered why Amelia had not mentioned this to him before. "I wish I was human! I wish I wasn't a chimera! I wish you would grant my wish!" It figured, the pearl completely ignored him.

Amelia sighed and soon revealed the reason why she had not bothered telling Zelgadis about the fickle magical artifact. "I already tried that. I thought it would make you happy if I could cure you with a wish and spent a whole week wishing day and night, but the pearl ignored me."

"I see," Zelgadis let out a breath of resignation. "It's okay, I appreciate that you were trying to help."

"Does this mean I'm stuck like this?" Xellos complained.

"Being a golden dragon isn't a bad thing. You might get to like it," Filia teased.

"Lord Beast Master would not agree," Xellos reminded. It was the main reason why it was necessary for him to return to his monster form as soon as possible. He wasn't just in danger of being killed by other monsters, but also by Zelas herself when her patience ran out. Xellos knew that she didn't have much of that left.

"Right, she might kill you for this," Filia realized, feeling Xellos' frustration pour into her. She decided not to point it out aloud, but her wish was apparently granted as well. It wasn't granted to the whole specifics of her words, but it was more or less granted in the fickle style of the mermaid spirit. She was a Xellos exclusive empath. This would be both interesting and insightful. Maybe if she saw how much he didn't care, how he was cruelly using her, then she would successfully rid herself of her unacceptable feelings for him.

"You shouldn't worry too much," Philionel assured, "the effects are only temporary, or at least they have been so far."

"That's right, when I was sitting in the garden with the pearl in my hand, wishing and wishing, a few people came by," Amelia recalled. "I remember Kalio passing by, saying he wished he had a bigger sword and his sword turned huge. He couldn't even lift it. Then just as suddenly it turned back to normal. Then Kally wished that a tree near by would grow plums and it grew a lot of plums for the next four days, which is odd, since it was actually a young oak tree. In other words, the effect of the granted wish can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days."

"Then I just have to wait it out," Xellos concluded. He could live with that... hopefully. "This was a most informative chat. I guess I'll be on my way now." With those parting words, Xellos walked away from the group.

"I'm coming with you!" Filia was quick to follow. "I know what you're planning to do." There was a certain edge to the way Xellos felt. Maybe he was plotting something. Once that theory formed, a theory about what he was plotting was easy to come up with. "You're going to use this change of species as a disguise to cause all sorts of mischief and give the golden dragons a bad name. I will not allow that!"

Xellos felt his eye twitch in annoyance, his dragon tail swishing from side to side. "No, really, I just want to be alone right now, as in away from smelly dragons like you."

"I don't smell!" Filia glared. "And I won't be tricked," she added adamantly. "Like it or not, I'm sticking to you like glue." With her determination firm in place, Filia followed Xellos as he walked away.

Xellos quickened his pace across the Seyruun garden and Filia matched it. He moved faster and so did she. He finally broke into a run, as did Filia, and they stubbornly ran out the castle gates and into the city.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Xellos and Filia were gone, Philionel went to see to it that the pearl jewel aka the fickle wish granter, was locked away as planned. He had a meeting to go back to after that, as it had been more than fifteen minutes already. Lina and Gourry went their own way, off to pester the castle kitchen staff into giving them more food. Fang found a comfortable spot under the shade of the young oak tree that once produced plums and lay down for a nap.

Zelgadis and Amelia took a walk around the Seyruun royal gardens and hung out together for a while. She noticed that he was kind of uneasy and nervous, even if she had thought he was over that. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine," Zelgadis blushed. "Your father thinks we're engaged," he brought up a subject that he knew they would have to discuss eventually.

"He does..." Amelia asserted with a blush of her own. "Is that okay?"

"Yes," Zelgadis immediately nodded, his blush deepening. "I mean, if it's okay with you, to be engaged to me."

"Of course it is!" Amelia exclaimed all too eager. "Um... but... you know... it's not like I'm trying to rush you or anything. I mean, I'm happy with dating, and daddy isn't going to rush us into getting married. We could go on the crusade anyway and get... you know, engaged for real later down the line."

"Or sooner..." Zelgadis' hint was barely audible.

"Yes..." Amelia nodded lightly, "sooner or later or sooner..." Zelgadis said something that Amelia didn't quite understand. "Excuse me?"

"Right now?" Though his tone was still barely audible, Zelgadis' words reached Amelia that time.

"Really?" Amelia gasped in joyous surprise.

"If you want to," Zelgadis offered, finally gaining the courage to stop staring at his feet and look at Amelia's loving eyes.

"I do," Amelia smiled, her eyes never leaving his.

"Then I should do this properly," Zelgadis went down on one knee, taking Amelia's hand in his and slipping a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring into her finger. He had that ring for a while, secretly fantasizing about giving it to Amelia one day. When he left it along with a few other belongings at the Seyruun storage he didn't think the thought would ever be anything other than a distant fantasy. "Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, will you marry me?"

Amelia let out a happy squeal of absolute joy, "I will!" As Zelgadis stood, she tackled him in a hug with such a force that they both fell down. Deciding that they were comfortable enough, they stayed there, laying on the ground at the royal gardens in each other's arms.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Xellos and Filia had prolonged their stubborn race to the edge of the city and beyond. Xellos exited Seyruun territory with Filia still chasing after him. The citizens would speak of the speedy golden tailed blurs that passed through the streets without stopping for anything until they had left the city.

There was a group of monsters waiting in the outskirts of the city. Xellos came to a full stop when he saw them, which caused Filia to stumble as she tried to halt her own advance. She collided harshly with his back, causing them both to fall in a heap on the path. They got to their feet as quickly as possible, with Xellos looking especially irritated and somewhat twitchy.

A considerable amount of frustration was emerging from Xellos, there was something he was strongly holding back, something that he wanted to hide even from himself. Filia was determined to find out what it was, she just had to get the hang of her newly granted emphatic abilities, learn to interpret them and read between the lines. A lot of reading between the lines was needed with Xellos. However, for the time being, it looked like they had some more murderous monsters to deal with.

To be Continued