To Live Another Day
Episode Eighteen: Going In Circles
Filia hurried down the stairs outside of the north dome. In her haste, she tripped over her own feet, her eyes catching sight of something or someone at the base of the stairs before her attention went to the arm that was suddenly around her waist. She looked back at Xellos, who was standing behind her, stopping her from falling head first down the stairs. "You tripped me," she accused with little energy.
The once crowded area in front of the north dome was deserted. All those who wished to go to the ball were inside and those who wished to leave early were gone. The ones that stayed until the end would not leave in the middle of the fireworks display, thus Xellos and Filia were alone, except for that suspicious person on the bottom of the stairs slowly making his way up leaving a rather nasty trail of blood on each step. It didn't look like he had fallen down the stairs though.
"No I didn't," Xellos stated simply as a delayed response to Filia's accusation. His eyes trailed from the suspicious person back to Filia, his arm still around her waist. "I saved you from falling down the stairs and cracking your skull like a clumsy dragon," he added an extra dose of cheer into the part about cracking her skull.
"You can let go now," Filia took his arm, roughly removing it from her waist. She couldn't wait for the disastrous night to end. Amelia and Zelgadis were having a great time, Lina and Gourry got married, she was the only miserable one and Xellos must be really enjoying her misery. She faced forward and saw a most disturbing yet oddly reassuring sight. "It's him..." She let out a breath that could almost be described as dreamy, relieved and guilty all at once. Then she tore herself away from her momentarily frozen position and dashed down the stairs kneeling beside the man that Xellos identified as suspicious. "Phythan!"
He didn't say anything, he didn't even look up, he was trying to drag himself up the stairs as if in a trance. Filia wrapped her arms around the injured golden dragon. His eyes landed on her for a second and there was the shadow of recognition, he looked past her at the dome and the fireworks, then back at her. His eyes were clouded, "Fi... lia..." then he passed out from his injuries.
Xellos was standing beside Filia before she even knew it. "Who's that?" He peeked curiously over her shoulder. "Is he an old friend from your previous occupation, maybe? He looks like he was beaten quite badly. He's bleeding all over your dress too, how rude, not that I'm surprised that a golden dragon would have so little consideration."
"You monster!" As Phythan lost consciousness, Filia sat on the stairs with Phythan half on her lap and desperately casted a healing spell. "You did this!" Tears flowed freely from her eyes as she pushed all her healing energy out.
"How could I have done this if I was with you the whole time?" Xellos innocently pointed out, showing a noticeable amount of nonchalance towards the dilemma.
"You did it when you left; it's all your fault!" Filia continued pushing her healing powers to the limit. Something was off, Phythan was absorbing the healing energy, but at the same time becoming weaker as he did. The physical wounds were closing, but his life energy was diminishing with each pulsation of healing energy. At the same time, his life force wasn't completely giving up, it was clinging to something to stay alive, but it wasn't the spell.
"If I wanted to kill a golden dragon, I would be far neater than this," Xellos pointed out with a smile. "I'm not such a mediocre killer," he chirped.
"Get Amelia!" Filia felt her anger for Xellos becoming deeper. He was the one who killed many of her race during the war of the monster's fall. Even so, she somehow knew that he was telling the truth about not being responsible for this particular incidence. She was mostly accusing him out of frustration, worry, and because it felt natural to throw the blame at Xellos.
"Why should I?" Xellos was annoyingly unresponsive to the urgency of the matter, instead savoring the desperation. He focused on Filia, mostly ignoring the dying golden dragon.
"Get Amelia now!" Filia insisted, she couldn't move from her position and she couldn't finish the healing process alone, not with such a deep bleeding wound. "Please Xellos, just get her."
Filia's attention was focused on the injured golden dragon even when she was yelling at him. Feeling somewhat ignored, Xellos disappeared with a huff, "get her yourself."
xoxox xox xoxox
Amelia and Zelgadis stood next to each other at the dome. They watched the sparks of multicolor lights through the glass ceiling and enjoyed the show. Amelia linked her arm with Zelgadis, her head lightly resting on his shoulder. He noticed of course, and dared not move an inch, though he very much enjoyed the moment. Then that annoying voice interrupted, "excuse me, Miss Amelia."
Amelia looked at the grinning Xellos, while Zelgadis, in contrast, glared at the grinning Xellos. "Yes?" Amelia wondered what this was about and where Filia had gone off to, since she and Xellos were together when Amelia last saw them.
"It seems Filia has run into an old compatriot of hers who happens to be mortally wounded." Xellos smiled brightly, his voice coated with delight. "He's doing a fine job of ruining her pretty dress with his blood; I must say that's quite rude of him. But alas, Filia insist on saving his worthless life and is asking for your assistance in healing him. Of course, I'm sure you'd rather not go. The fireworks are so lovely to look at from here."
The size of Amelia's wide eyed gaze grew with every word Xellos spoke. "Where are they?" She demanded, close to taking Xellos by the shoulders and shaking him for information.
"Just outside on the stairs, but I don't think it's worth your time." Before Xellos had finished his sentence, Amelia was already dashing past him, pushing her way through the crowd, ignoring the complaints of those she hurriedly shoved aside.
"If you're lying..." Zelgadis didn't bother finishing his threat, his glare said it all. He followed Amelia through the crowd.
"Why is everyone having such rotten luck today?" Xellos stated more so to himself than anyone else, as Zelgadis disappeared through the crowd in the same way Amelia did seconds prior. He hated to admit it, but he had to include himself in that statement.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Miss Filia!" Amelia hurried down the stairs, nearly falling, "levitation!" She went the rest of the way to meet Filia in the middle of the stairs and wasted no time in joining the recovery spell.
"Amelia, I'm so glad you're here, it works but it doesn't. The wound is too deep, even recovery spells are too harsh, I don't understand," Filia cried.
"We can do this, don't give up! Think positive!" Amelia tried to remain optimistic.
Phythan's eyes opened for a moment, they were blood red, almost glowing, "helplessness... desperation... sorrow..." He gasped as if being choked, closing his eyes tightly. When he opened them again they were brown. He looked at Filia and Amelia, staring at each of them for a long moment. There wasn't even the smallest hint of recognition in his eyes before they closed.
Filia didn't know what to make of Phythan's words, she was so focused that she didn't even notice the change in his eyes and neither did Amelia. The two could only feel their own energy flowing out of their bodies.
"Amelia! Filia!" Zelgadis caught up to them, kneeling beside the group. He casted a healing spell, just as Amelia had explained it to him during their travels.
"We're making progress!" Amelia noticed. She attributed it to the combined strength of their healing spells.
Finally, a few excruciatingly long seconds later, the wounds were completely healed and Phythan's breathing and heart rate stabilized considerably. "You're going to be okay." Filia breathed, she didn't know if Phythan could hear her or not, as he was left in a deep slumber after recovering, but she was in part saying those things to assure herself.
"Of course he will," Amelia caught the hint of doubt in Filia's voice, hiding behind the heavy curtain of exhaustion. "He's alright now," she emphasized, "everything will be alright."
Zelgadis felt the need to interrupt the talk of positivism in order to ask a very valid and important question. "Who is he and who did this to him?"
Filia brushed Phythan's golden hair with her tired fingers. "His name is Phythan; he's a golden dragon like myself, though he comes from a different temple. I met him at the resort."
Realization donned on Amelia as she took a closer look at Filia's date. She thought that if she ever came across him she would have to give him a piece of her mind for leaving poor Filia waiting for him at the ball. Yet sustaining a mortal wound and being dragged back to life after falling in inch from death was a relatively good excuse for missing a date. "Mr. Phythan..." Amelia examined his now still expression, wondering what kind of person he was.
Zelgadis simply looked confused. "Who exactly is Phythan? I mean aside from being a golden dragon."
"He's a special someone to Miss Filia!" Amelia answered for her with a dreamy expression suddenly invading her face despite the morbid state of affairs they appeared to be in.
"I see..." Zelgadis wisely decided not to further inquire about that line of thought.
Filia blushed and didn't confirm or deny anything, instead following Zelgadis' visual prompt to provide more information, specifically in relation to his second question. "I don't know who hurt him, but strange things have been going on in this resort. I've ran into a few monsters and I mean other than Xellos."
"I do think it's strange that Xellos would invite us on vacation. I was suspicious from the start," Zelgadis adamantly pointed out.
Amelia looked disappointed, "then Mr. Xellos isn't trying to be friendly? There's another plot from the monster race going on?"
"Most likely," Zelgadis agreed. "I mean, why would Xellos bring us here? There must be something he needs us to do. There might be an enemy hiding here, someone that he needs Lina to help him exterminate. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happens."
"I guess you're right," Amelia sighed, accepting the likely theory. "Let's be on our guard. For now, we should take Mr. Phythan somewhere to rest. We still have that extra room they gave us at the hotel and he'll be next door to us just in case."
"Yes..." Filia accepted the suggestion. "I suppose that's all we can do for now. When Phythan wakes up, he should be able to tell us something."
Thus Filia, Amelia, Zelgadis and the unconscious Phythan, whom Zelgadis ended up having to carry, made their way back to the hotel. They would have to inform Lina and Gourry about the recent happenings and their suspicions, even if it was a pity to interrupt their honeymoon.
xoxox xox xoxox
The night time hotel receptionist looked up from her desk at the sound of footsteps. She was very bored since people hardly came and went after a certain hour, though there were many attractions at the resort that were available twenty-four hours a day, such as the casino. Unlike most nights, one semi-interesting thing had happened tonight. A rather handsome blond man was carrying a red haired woman who kept throwing a hissy fit. It was a funny scene, as usually when a bride is carried away by her very attractive husband, she doesn't complain like that.
Now another highlight was added to her shift as her eyes glanced curiously at the quartet of guests. The hotel receptionist blinked, wondering if the dress the blond lady was wearing was supposed to have such a big red stain on it or not. Either way, the most amusing part was the man who was carrying that other man on his back. Maybe they were drunken buddies. They didn't say anything to her and she didn't say anything to them. After they were gone, she let out a bored breath and continued waiting out her shift.
Once they had gotten up the stairs, Filia, Amelia, Zelgadis and his unconscious passenger, Phythan, stopped in front of the door to the apparently unoccupied room. "Wait..." Amelia started unsure, her face taking a rosy red tint. "What if Miss Lina and Mr. Gourry have decided to move out of their current rooms and use this one instead? I mean, they're married so there's no reason for them to do the girls in one room and guys in another thing... right?"
A moment of silence paused as Zelgadis blushed. He couldn't imagine it and he didn't want to. "Do you... hear anything?" He finally inquired doubtfully.
Another moment of silence passed until Filia drew in a deep breath of courage and placed her pointy ear against the door. "I don't hear anything..."
Then the sound of an amused conversation was heard, but it wasn't coming from the vacant room. Lina and Gourry made their way through the hall, coming from the stairs that let to the roof. Amidst the occasional yawn, they were talking about how much the fireworks reminded them of kompeito. They stopped and looked at their friends. Lina shifted uncomfortably because she thought they were going to say something about her unexpected wedding. "Um... hey, everyone!" She tried to act natural and failed miserably. "Nice party, huh? Good food..."
"Miss Lina," Amelia began as gently as possible, "I'm afraid there's a most pressing matter that might cause you the need to postpone your honeymoon with Mr. Gourry."
Lina's face turned scarlet, "honeymoon..." was all she could say. Even if she expected this to be difficult and even if she had a plan, Lina was simply too restless to pull through with it. She took a deep breath and tried to focus on the plan. "Fireball... fireball..." she chanted under her breath as if giving herself a pep talk. Then she took a deep breath and decided to give her traveling companions a clear warning. "If anyone decides to tease me about my marriage I'm going to throw a fireball in their face no matter who it is!" She shouted at the top of her lungs, making Filia, Amelia and Zelgadis back away cautiously.
Gourry laughed nervously and decided to rescue Lina. She was shy sometimes, but he was okay with that and could be more perceptive on certain occasions than he was given credit for. "What Lina means is that we're not married, we're engaged and we're going to keep living as usual until an un-this-closed thing..."
Trying to keep her temper in check and the flow of her blood visiting parts of her besides her face, Lina did a super fast mental count to ten. "What he means is that everything is normal and nothing is out of the ordinary. In other words there's nothing to discuss and no reason why we should discuss it."
Amelia opened her mouth to point out that an engagement, even if it wasn't a marriage, was something to discuss in itself, but thought better of it and promptly closed her mouth before any sounds escaped. Instead she nodded quietly along with Zelgadis and Filia.
"Good," Lina nodded back, "well, it's been a busy day, so I'm going to get some rest." She paused noticing the fact that Zelgadis was carrying a man on his back. "Who's your friend, Zel?"
"Filia's boyfriend," Zelgadis replied on automatic, his brain not having yet recovered from the notion of danger in the face of a furious Lina, to the realization of relief in the knowledge that as long as she wasn't teased, she wouldn't get violent, or at least not more so than usual.
Filia blushed and slightly shook her head, "not quite," she corrected with relative calm. "This is Phythan, we were supposed to go to the masquerade ball together, but he couldn't attend because he was mortally wounded. Amelia and Zelgadis helped me heal him. Now we need a place for him to rest. We can ask him about what happened after he wakes up."
"So this is Phythan," Lina curiously went over to have a better look. She was at least glad that the topic of their conversation had shifted away from her, but she was already dreading the interruption to her vacation. It sounded like trouble was near.
"Can I put him down in the spare room?" Zelgadis inquired. Honestly, he just wanted to put his slumbering cargo down anywhere.
"Sure," Lina shrugged and watched as Amelia opened the door and Zelgadis carried the unconscious golden dragon inside.
Once Phythan was on the bed, Filia fluffed up his pillow and placed the covers over him. "Xellos might know what's going on. In fact, it's almost a given that he knows. Strange things have been happening around here and Xellos keeps coming and going." She frowned, glaring at the walls as if she was glaring at Xellos.
Lina nodded in agreement with the theory. "We'll have to ask Xellos about it tomorrow," then she shook her head. "What am I saying? All that we can possibly get out of asking Xellos for information is a lame 'that's a secret' excuse. I suppose if Phythan has some useful information for us, we can use that to figure out what's going on and maybe we'll even be able to help him with his problem and get a reward." It was expected of Lina to want a reward, so the statement was met with no surprise from anyone. "On the other hand, if Phythan doesn't have enough information for us, our best option would be to carry on as if this never happened."
"We can't do that!" Filia exclaimed with frustrated indignation. She couldn't pull the Luna card on Lina anymore as this wasn't an official mission.
"Mr. Phythan is in need of our help to defend against the forces of evil. Any agent of justice would be happy to assist him!" Amelia valiantly declared, with the particular heroic tone of her justice speeches, raising her fist into the air.
"I'm not saying we should abandon him," Lina defended. "I'm just saying that if we have no leads, then we'll be wasting our time going in circles about what we should do. If there really is a plot at hand, it will be revealed in due time and whoever is behind it will learn the hard way not to mess with Lina Inverse!"
Lina's declaration didn't leave any room for argument from the rest of the group as they exchanged glances and nods. Somehow, their adventures always began as a series of inevitable incidents that they tried to ignore as they went about their business, only to eventually be sucked into some kind of secret conspiracy, a plot for vengeance, world domination or something to that effect. For the time being, they retired to their respective rooms to get some much needed sleep. They would give the situation some further thought the next day.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. What do you think of this plot twist? More surprises are to come! Kompeito is a type of sugar candy from Japan.