To Live Another Day
Episode Twenty-Two: Legacy Of The Golden Dragons
Xellos and Filia went further away from the resort, flying at an amazing speed. Any passing boats in the ocean below would just see a golden blur and wouldn't even notice the other blur next to it. "Getting tired?" Xellos teased as he watched Filia flap her wings, her blond hair blowing in the wind.
"Not a chance!" Filia gasped prideful. She pushed herself to go faster. The world around her was a complete blur, but at least she wasn't feeling sick anymore, she couldn't spare the energy to feel sick. The pink bow on her tail came undone and the ribbon fell off.
Xellos disappeared from in front of Filia, reappearing soon after with the ribbon in his hand. "You dropped this." He held out the accessory. "Want me to tie it on your tail for you?"
Filia allowed herself to slow down, coming to a soft glide. "I don't want you touching my tail," she snatched away the ribbon. "Or any part of me," she specified as an afterthought, then tied the ribbon securely back on her tail. She gasped for breath, "where are we going anyway?"
Knowing that it would annoy her to no end, Xellos smiled raising his index finger and moving it left and right lightly. "That is a secret."
Filia growled in vexation. "I should have known you'd say that, but I'll know where the place is when we get there anyway, so why not just tell me?"
With his smile intact Xellos repeated, "it's a secret."
Filia frowned, "you just like being difficult," she concluded what she had already been aware of for a long time.
"We can try teleporting a little more, but the greater the distance the more affected you will be," Xellos warned with clear amusement.
Filia considered her options. She didn't know how far the place Xellos wanted to investigate was, but she knew that she would get motion sickness from his teleportation. Even so, she was gasping for breath from flying for so long as it was and that wasn't exactly a pleasant feeling either. "Okay," she finally agreed. Even if she regretted it, she could at least catch her breath a little.
Xellos hopped on Filia's back much to her annoyance and in a somewhat cowboy-like tone he loudly declared. "Giddy up, Filia!" Then they disappeared.
When they reappeared, Filia pushed the sick sensation of her stomach aside and began making wild motions in mid air, "I'm not a horse!"
Xellos kept one hand on Filia as if holding on to imaginary reins and raised his other arm. "No, you're a rodeo dragon."
"You're infuriating!" Filia done into the cloud banks below, at least it wasn't raining, just cloudy in that area. Behind the cover of the clouds, she changed into her human form in hopes of making Xellos fall off, then suddenly felt like she was being choked. "Let go of my cloak, you're choking me!"
"You're the one who put us in this situation," Xellos pointed out with amusement. He was caught under Filia's cloak, his neck and hers tied to each other by the cloak's jeweled bow.
"Ugh!" Filia untied the cloak and let the fabric fall gently to the approaching ground below, only to realize that she was falling none too gently towards the same brown rocky terrain of a little island. She couldn't transform in mid air, she had no cover, but she didn't want to go splat on the ground either. Her first automatic and definitely irrational instinct was to hold on to the closest thing to her, which happened to be Xellos.
Xellos turned over in mid air so that Filia was laying on top of him and slowed his fall to gently land on his back on the ground. Filia's cloak, which was lighter and falling at a slower pace held up by the wind, landed on top of them blanketing the pair. "Comfortable?"
Filia fought to get the cloak off herself and finally tossed it out of the way. She sat up on her knees, her hands in front of her to push herself up. "What..?" She couldn't finish voicing her half coherent question as she looked down and saw him.
Xellos grinned seductively, "do you want me that bad?"
Filia then realized that her hands were on his chest and she was sitting on top of him. She scrambled off him, tripping and falling backwards in the process, then drew herself to her feet, picking up her cloak angrily. "You!" She pointed at him with a scarlet face. Xellos merely winked which sent Filia into a bigger rage than any words could have. She expressed her whole repertoire of remarks, out of which, raw garbage was by far the nicest.
"Tsk, tsk..." Xellos shook his head, waiving his index finger back and forth. "I thought a golden dragon would have more decorum than that. How many times did the dragon elders have to wash your mouth with soap when you were at the temple?"
"Never," Filia growled, then her countenanced changed drastically as her eyes became teary. "What have I become?" She looked positively miserable.
"Less naive?" Xellos offered.
Filia sniffled, "what have I become?" She dramatically screamed, raising her arms to the skies. "I'm hanging out with a monster, helping him investigate and I'm using vocabulary that I shouldn't even know! Where in the world did I pick up those words anyway? It's all your fault!" She pointed angrily at Xellos.
Calmly, Xellos pointed out with an amused smile, "I don't think I've ever called you a-"
In a lightning fast motion, Filia slapped her hands over his mouth, "don't repeat it!" She exclaimed in embarrassment. "Maybe I heard that one in town," she realized, releasing Xellos after a few seconds to make sure he would remain silent. "Maybe I should think about moving to a new town, if people there have language like that, it can't be a good place for Val to grow up."
"You'll find language like that everywhere," Xellos rolled his eyes at her paranoia. "Unless of course, you manage to track down a town full of mutes and move there," he paused then added with a cheerful smile, "but you'd still see writing like that."
Filia sighed hopelessly, "is there not a single decent place left in the world?"
"You mean a place full of uptight extremists?" It was obvious what Xellos was referring to before he even spoke the next part. "I thought you said you wouldn't go back there."
Filia glared and placed her hands on her hips. "The golden dragons are not all uptight extremists and no I'm not thinking about going back to one of the temples."
"Then you can't expect to shelter Val, maybe you shouldn't," Xellos suggested. "Even you had to wake up from your dream at some point and it didn't look like you were having a grant time doing it. Do you want Val to go through life thinking it's perfect only to harshly realize it's not, or would you rather him be prepared?"
Filia opened her mouth to deliver a comeback, an insult, something, preferably a semi-civilized insult, if there was such a thing, that didn't involved vocabulary that was too sinister. She stopped, realizing that she had no negative comebacks to throat at Xellos, negative comments yes, but those were not retorts. What he said actually made sense. "I guess it's best if he's prepared. Maybe moving won't benefit us after all and when it comes down to it, the town is overall a nice place, a lot nicer than other towns I've been to."
"Isn't life easier when you just agree with me?" Xellos grinned that infuriating grin of his.
Filia was determined not to let him get to her and instead walked past Xellos. "Are we close to the place you wanted to investigate?" She returned the subject of conversation to the more pressing matter at hand.
"We're here," Xellos pointed towards a rocky mountain in the center of the little island, which was severely lacking in the vegetation department.
"There's nothing here," it was just some little island with nothing but rocks, rocks and more rocks. The place didn't even have grass.
"Appearances can be deceiving," with a merry mocking tone, Xellos approached the mountain and pushed a loose stone in. A sliding door of stone perfectly camouflaged on the mountain side was revealed. A dark tunnel lay behind it, with no visible end to it.
Filia looked into the dark tunnel with perplexity. "What is this place?"
"I was hoping you would know," Xellos voiced, though his tone made it clear he wasn't. "Alas, it's too bad my possible guide failed me," he pretended to be disappointed, albeit his act didn't fool Filia for a second. "I guess the golden dragons really do work in a need to know basis after all."
Filia raised a suspicious eyebrow. "The golden dragons?" She looked back and forth from Xellos to the dark tunnel. "Are you saying this place belonged to the golden dragons?" She knew not of the existence of such a place, whatever it was. But then again, there were many things that for most of her life she was ignorant of about her race. "It looks deserted," she pointed out, hoping that it was. If there were any dragons in there, they wouldn't take kindly to Xellos or to her, given that she arrived with Xellos.
"It is," Xellos agreed, much to Filia's visible relief. "This place was managed by the golden dragons of the fire temple. It used to have a lot of spells to protect it, so keeping guards here wasn't a necessity. However, when the casters of those spells died, the spells were broken. There might still be traps left in there, but it's nothing we can't handle."
"This place belonged to the golden dragons who served the Fire Dragon..." Even if she was no longer one of those servants, Filia couldn't help it but to be curious. She realized with the entire Darkstar and Val incident that she knew very little about her people and a part of her wanted to know more, even if she didn't like what she found out. "It doesn't look like a temple."
"It was an archive," Xellos revealed. "If the golden dragons who were followers of the Fire Dragon knew anything about Phythan, then they would have recorded it here."
Filia's eyes shone with curiosity. Technically this was trespassing. Theoretically this was a terrible unlawful act that could be classified as espionage. But she didn't care. She didn't care if she could be considered to be corrupt for her actions; she wanted to know more truths. She wanted to see history for what it really was. "Let's go."
"You're very eager to commit an act of trespassing." Xellos grinned teasingly as he stood next to Filia, who was focusing on a light spell. "Maybe I am corrupting you."
Filia didn't even flinch at a comment that would normally severely disturb her. "I'm trespassing, I intend to look at information I wasn't meant to know existed and I will not regret it," she was determined. "I want to know more truths even if they hurt. It's for Val, in order to protect him. If worse comes to worse, I need to have a clear idea of what I could be up against."
"You really took my comment about naivete to heart, did you?" Filia didn't reply to Xellos' remark and they both walked on in silence through the cave tunnels.
Eventually, the brown cavern floors faded into dark yellow bricks that formed a deep tunnel sloped downward. The slope became spiraling stairs with the bricks presenting various carvings on the walls. They appeared to be spells that were no longer active as they were linked to the life of the caster. It was a double-edged sword so to speak. Linking a spell to the caster's life would make them nearly impossible to break unless the caster was killed, but if the caster died, that would be the end of the spell.
"There should be traps around here," Filia brought up an important point that Xellos had already mentioned before. She was prompting him for information. He knew about the location of the archives, so he might know more about them.
"There could be," Xellos nodded nonchalant. "I might have missed a few when I first came to explore this place, but I doubt they'll give us any trouble as long as we're careful. I got rid of all the important traps anyway."
"So you've been here before," there was an accusing edge to Filia's voice, yet it also lacked surprise. "That means you have an idea of what's down there."
"Profiles," Xellos answered simply instead of letting the suspense hang. Before Filia could ask him, or rather order him, to elaborate, they reached the bottom of the spiraling stairs. There they found themselves in a large chamber with shelves containing scrolls as far as the eye could see.
"Profiles?" Filia repeated as soon as she recovered the power of speech.
"There are no war records or big secrets here," Xellos confirmed. "I doubt any of this would be all that interesting to you or to anyone for that matter. The golden dragons of the Fire Temple wrote what they thought was worth remembering. Of course, they stopped writing when they were all wiped out. I think the most recent entry in your profile was when you were sent on your mission to find Lina, or Luna as it originally was."
"My profile..." Filia looked at the vast collection of scrolls on the tall wooden shelves. The ceiling of the chamber was quite high and levitation would be needed to reach the top of the full shelves.
"It was boring," Xellos commented dismissively. "Of course, I didn't read all of these. I soon realized how useless this archive was and left. But we can still find a small clue about Phythan here. His profile should be around here somewhere. We can at least find out what temple he came from and a little about his past, if that's even his real name. If not, then that pretty much serves as proof that he's lying, so the search won't be in vain."
Filia frowned as she looked at the mountains of scrolls, "this will be exceptionally tedious."
Xellos shrugged as if he was used to it, "it has to be done. You can't expect information to just fall on your head, you lazy dragon."
Instead of coming up with a counter argument to Xellos' jab about her laziness, albeit she was certain she was not slothful thank you very much, Filia's train of thought went towards another detail. "You must do a lot of reading and spying to get all your information," she noted. "Maybe more reading than I thought."
"Spying needs to be conveniently timed," Xellos made no attempt to deny it. "As for reading, looking at records that I'm not supposed to be looking at can be done at just about any moment."
Filia thought about criticizing Xellos for it, but she was doing the same thing at the moment and she didn't want him to throw a comeback at her about hypocrisy. "It looks like the scrolls are arranged in order of rank and the shelves are labeled according to each temple. You can start searching in the Water Dragon section and I'll start with the Fire Dragon section."
"Looking to take a peek into your own record?" Xellos opened one eye, keeping it glued to Filia's face. "I bet you used to sneak into the teacher's office and look up test answers too."
Filia stomped her feet, pouting profusely as she placed her hands on her hips. "I did no such thing!"
"Sure you didn't," Xellos turned around dismissively, with a tone that made it clear he didn't believe her, though he actually did.
"I didn't!" Filia screamed, her voice echoing in the large chamber. Then suddenly the many shelves sunk into the floor leaving the surface flat and empty. "What just happened?"
Xellos looked smugly amused, "it looks like your loud voice activated one of the leftover traps."
"Why didn't you disable it?" Filia shouted angrily while the wall on the far end of the large chamber parted to reveal a dragon statue with glowing golden eyes and a jar held in its front claws.
"Why would I bother with a trap that only activates when one is rudely loud?" Xellos gave Filia a look of false innocence. "I'm never rudely loud; you're the one that's always yelling at me. You have terrible manners."
"Shut up!" Filia yelled. Sure, it was true that yelling was what got them into that mess, but they were already in trouble so there was no reason to hold back anymore.
The dragon statue looked like it would launch some sort of attack, then a voice echoed loudly, "quiet in the archives!" The roar of the recorded voice from the statue left Filia's ears ringing. The statue then made mechanical noises as the metal joins that held the stone limbs together demonstrated that they had not been properly oiled for far too long. "You must deposit a coin into the loud jar." That sentence was delivered with less malice then the request for silence, though still with a very commanding tone.
Filia and Xellos paused, looking at the odd contraction. "Loud jar?" Xellos tilted his head curious to the side.
Filia was surprise to find such a thing in a secret archive, but she seemed to know what it was as she fished around her pockets for a coin. "It's like a swear jar, but it's for when people yell, regardless of what they say. Of course if one were to yell a bad word, both penalties would apply." She tossed a coin into the jar and detecting it somehow, the statue went upright again and the wall slid back into place covering it, followed by the shelves reemerging from the floor.
Xellos looked like he was laughing behind his hand, somehow trying not to be too loud because he would rather blow up the mechanical librarian then to toss a coin into the jar it held. He finally composed himself under Filia's disapproving glare. "You golden dragons have stupid rules and regulations for every thing."
Filia was tempted to blow up at Xellos again, but she didn't want to lose another coin. Instead she used a moderated but harsh tone of voice, "it's not stupid." She crossed her arms and pouted as Xellos prompted her to continue with his eyes as if waiting for her to explain why it wasn't stupid. "A monster wouldn't understand," Filia left it at that and approached the Fire section of the archives.
"Just so you know," Xellos voiced as he headed over to the water section. "Your profile isn't here."
Filia froze and turned around to glare at Xellos. "You stole it," she correctly concluded, pointing her accusing right index finger at him."
"Oh, don't worry, there are plenty of other profiles left for you to steal my delinquent friend," Xellos grinned like he always did.
Filia huffed in indignation. "I'm not a delinquent!" She turned around determined to ignore any further comments from Xellos and focused on the task of sorting through the scrolls on the shelves of the fire section.
Xellos watched Filia go about her work and gave her just a few more seconds in case she had something more to add. When ten seconds passed and she didn't say anything, he shrugged and began his own search for Phythan's scroll in the shelves pertaining to the water section.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. There you have it, just a tiny bit more progress from Filia. Trespassing is a good bonding experience... I think.