To Live Another Day
Episode Twenty-Five: Ye Who Ask For Ruin
Martina froze at the sight of her boss, Celo, the resort's owner and manager, hoping that he wasn't going to fire her for taking so long to defeat the White Rabbit. "The two of you have great skills in empowering your luck. Martina, when we met you could only tap into your abilities occasionally through your faith in Zoamelgustar, but your power of chance has been further released since then. However, this young man also possesses the ability to bend chance in his favor. You are both only empowering yourselves, merely defending. In creasing your good luck won't be enough to win, you must wield the opposing power. Martina, the power of bad luck, you also possess it, but in this young man I sense only the power of good luck. You have the advantage Red Queen, it is time!"
Martina gasped in shock, "Master Celo... you don't mean..." when Celo trained her as the Red Queen he told her never to use the dark side of her chance bending abilities, least the horrible luck fall upon her. Was she truly prepared to control such a dangerous power?
"Yes!" Celo threw his head back, his voice louder as he went on in a somewhat mad scientist tone. "Ye who wields both fortune and misfortune, ye who carries the unique power to shape fate!"
"Yes!" Martina cheered determinately. "She who walks between chaos and order, she who decides the path beyond borders, she who knows no master, she will become the caster. I am she who unites fate and destiny by chance; I am she for whom all the world will dance... Lady Luck!" The atmosphere around the casino became darker as the enchanted lamps flickered, then it all returned to normal. Martina had her eyes closed, face downcast. She slowly lifted her head and opened her now golden eyes. "Doest thou challenge ye who movest fate?" Martina's speech was odd in more ways than one. She spoke in words long lost in seemingly incorrect tenses, albeit Celo understood the logic behind them.
Phythan cringed in pain as he felt his spell being shattered, its effect gone. "May I cast my luck spell again?"
"Thou mayst, yet thou shallt not prevail, for I am ye who movest fate." Martina's voice carried an unnatural echo to it that gave her an anonymous tone.
Focus on the task at hand, Phythan chanted his spell again, with a few differences. "Ye who flies and never lands, ye who knows and understands, aligning fate, destiny, chance. Eternal clock of shifting sand, commanding time's advance, heed mine will, mine stance, deliver triumph to mine hand! Fortune Lock!" A tremendous strain overtook Phythan again, as his brown eyes once more flashed violet and returned to brown, only to become violet again a second later and remain that way. Phythan felt his energy being drained as his newly casted spell fought to stay active. He refused to let it break, pushing his energy to the limit.
"The showdown is now," Celo grinned. "It's time to take back what has been stolen from the monster race, the Green Alchemist will regret his thievery!"
Phythan's eyes went from violet to red as his countenance changed to a sinister expression, then it all went away. His eyes were brown once more as he lost consciousness.
"Hmm..."Celo looked thoughtful. "Could it be that you do not want to be released?" He mused aloud.
"The fate of mine challenger who lies before me doest not align with mine destiny that I walk." Martina's ominous voice echoed. "Mine fate is that of ye who seekst order within chaos. Ye shalt run towards the destiny of harmonious discord. Present thou thine challenger of mine infinity."
"Oh-oh..." Celo whispered as the gathered audience looked at him for answers. "The Red Queen issues a challenge to all of you and you cannot refuse!" The gamblers gasped. The Red Queen's challenge was reserved for extreme cases, this was very unusual. "Rise to the challenge of the Red Queen or face great peril!"
The gamblers knew they had no choice, thus one by one they challenged Martina and lost miserably. Celo took the distraction as an opportunity to gather more challengers for Martina. She was supposed to push the dragon boy to the limit and extract that which was contained inside of him. Yet the boy had shut himself and the creature inside of his own body without realizing it. Until another opportunity presented itself, the force possessing Martina had to be kept entertained, least it grow bored and she lost control of it completely.
xoxox xox xoxox
"C'mon lucky seven!" The ball spun around the roulette ignoring Zelgadis' pleas as all inanimate objects tend to do. It stopped on the eight as if mocking him. "So close! Forget lucky seven, it's not lucky anymore." As the past bets were cleared, Zelgadis gave up several more chips, "Black," he simply stated.
"Mr. Zelgadis," Amelia tugged on his arm looking quite concerned. "You've already lost all that you won before and you've lost most of your savings. I think it's time to quit."
"Not until I recover," Zelgadis' eyes were glue to the roulette. "Just a few more bets and I'll have it all back!" The roulette landed on red, which meant another loss for Zelgadis. "Forget roulette, how about some dice? Now that's real gambling. There's a table for throwing dice over there." He made his way out of the crowd gathered around the roulette table and started walking towards the dice table.
Amelia hurried to block his path. "I think you've had enough, Mr. Zelgadis. It's time to stop!" She insisted adamantly.
"I know when to stop and the time is not now," Zelgadis argued. "Just one more bet, one more try," he went on almost feverishly. He tried to side-step around Amelia, but she kept moving along his path in an odd sort of dance. "Amelia stop it, you need to trust me!"
"I trust you Mr. Zelgadis, but not everything can be entrusted to chance!" Amelia tried to reason with him. "Let's take a break, alright? We can go back upstairs, order some room service and relax."
"We can do that after this one bet, just one more." Zelgadis continued his blockade dance with Amelia. "It's my money and I know what I'm doing!" He snapped in a harsher tone than he meant and pushed past her in a hurry.
Amelia's face fell, Zelgadis never spoke to her and she never could imagine him shoving her aside. "Mr. Zelgadis... I've never seen you like this." She felt as if she stood in the middle of an icy field, miles away from Zelgadis as he walked into the distance.
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Martina had run out of challengers and Phythan was still out cold. Celo didn't like the looks of this. He could continue to bring in more challengers, but they would eventually run out, plus Martina, or rather the force inside her, could get tired of them and refuse them. "I am ye who walk between chaos and order!" Martina's voice echoed as the entire casino trembled. "I am ye who decide the path beyond borders!" It felt as if a massive earthquake was demolishing the casino, causing most of those in it to run for their lives. The tremors lessened for a moment and the atmosphere was filled only with the sounds of the last few fleeing footsteps. Then in a silent pause, Martina spoke once more, "I am ye who knows no true master!" Her voice turned agonized as she screamed at the top of her lungs, she was losing control.
xoxox xox xoxox
In another area of the casino, Zelgadis held on to the edge of the table to avoid falling. His eyes were transfixed on the dice as he willed them to land on six. "C'mon... be lucky..." Most of the other gamblers had already fled.
The dice finally stopped as the tremors lessened and the pieces of roof stopped raining upon them. "Snake eyes," the casino employee in charge of that particular table announced. "You lose, game over, I'm out of here!" The employee fled, leaving a frustrated Zelgadis behind.
"Get back here!" Zelgadis loudly demanded as he slammed his fist into the table and broke it, that is broke the table obviously. "I'm not done betting! The house can't quit, only the gambler can!" Never mind that he couldn't. "Take my next bet!" He frantically searched for chips, but his chip bag was empty. "A bet... A bet... I need to make a bet. Amelia, let me borrow a coin, I'll pay you back tenfold as soon as I win!"
"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia glared defiantly. "You're out of control; don't you see that all the other gamblers have left? Even the employees ran away! This building is about to collapse, we have to get out of here!" The final tremor came so harsh that the ceiling above their heads was no longer shedding pieces, instead fully collapsing. Amelia fell back, her leg getting stuck under a pile of debris.
"Amelia!" Zelgadis rushed to get her free, but it was too late. The falling ceiling landed upon both of them, burring them alive.
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Simultaneously, Gourry and Lina's banquet had been interrupted by the same cause of the sudden evacuation of the casino building. It seemed that Gourry's defenses had put up a fight against the cold that a fool shouldn't have been able to catch in the first place and he was feeling much better after eating. "Lina, why is it shaking so much?"
"How should I know?" The floor began to fall apart and the table was overturned, the dishes spilling the food all over the broken floor to the debris below. "My food! Whoever is causing this will be in big trouble!" Lina momentarily put aside the fact that she was wearing a ridiculous bunny outfit and rushed in, jumping into the opening on the floor, determined to find the one to blame for the tremors.
"Wait for me!" Gourry jumped in after her, with no clue about what was going on, but following Lina into the center of it anyway, just as usual.
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Martina was surrounded by a golden glow. She slowly raised her right hand, index finger outstretched and gently pointed upward. The debris started to float along with those unfortunate enough to have missed their chance to run away. "I am ye who controls the dance of fate and destiny."
Zelgadis became free from the clutter of debris with Amelia still mostly intact in his arms. He wasn't sure what was up with the floating fragments of the once elegant construction, but his attention was more focused on Amelia. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm alright, I just scratched my leg, but I can heal it," Amelia confirmed. She began to cast the recovery spell so that she could be on her feet and ready for whatever this was as soon as possible.
Zelgadis looked towards the source of a golden glow. The rain had finally stopped, but the black clouds were still present forming an odd swirling tunnel above them. It was a bad sign made worse by the fact that Martina was the source of the golden glow. "What is she up to?"
"Zel!" Lina's voice called out as the redhead spotted the chimera. She saw Amelia getting up from next to Zelgadis after having healed her leg. "Amelia!" She hurried towards them while her eyes automatically went to the source of light floating near by. "Martina?!"
"Hey guys," Gourry's greeting was rather cheerful and carefree given the situation. He noticed the glowing Martina and with a face that hinted that he was particularly unaware of the dangers that the circumstances foretold, he asked, "what's up with Martina? What's she doing?"
"Causing trouble!" Lina assumed before anyone else could come up with a possible answer. They didn't know what was going on anyway and silently agreed with Lina.
Amelia gasped and pointed as she noticed another significant detail. "Isn't that Mr. Phythan over there?" She referred to the still form under a pile of debris. "He's hurt!" She rushed into the impending danger in hopes of rescuing her comrade of justice.
"Amelia, be careful!" Zelgadis went after her, leaving Lina and Gourry standing there, unsure of what to do. Gourry was leaning towards standing around with a blank look and Lina was inclined to Dragon Slave the already ruined casino.
"Martina!" Zangulus' voice echoed beyond all other sounds as he dramatically entered the scene, still in his bellhop uniform. His wife didn't appear to recognize him as she threw a bolder of debris at him. Zangulus narrowly dodged it wishing he could cut through those kinds of obstacles instead. "I wish I had my sword!"
"Granted," Celo held out Zangulus sword to him.
Zangulus reluctantly received the blade. "How did you...? When did you...?"
Celo smiled as if they weren't in the middle of a major crisis. "When one questions luck, it turns sour," he spoke in a sagely manner, with the wisdom of many years and long time observations.
"Fine, there's no time to ask questions about my sword anyway." Zangulus moved on to another topic. "Instead I'll ask what's going on with Martina? What's wrong with her?"
"It seems her spell has failed her," Celo kept the appearance of composed calm. "She is being plagued by the constant push and pull of humanity's subconscious. If you appeal to her own conscious strongly enough, she should be able to regain control." All the while Martina had started floating away, off to decimate the other nearby buildings. "I would prefer that you accomplish that task before Martina destroys my resort. I can overlook two or three buildings, but if this keeps up, I'm afraid I'll have to charge the Kingdom of Zoana for the damages."
"No way!" Zangulus was about to argue, but he realized he was better off taking action to stop Martina from further burying them in debt. He dashed forward once more, calling out dramatically, "Martina!"
"Hey, old man!" Lina marched over to Celo glaring fiercely. "I saw you! Don't pretend like you have no idea what I'm talking about because I saw you!" She pointed at him accusingly. "Zangulus was distracted by that bolder and Gourry was distracted by being Gourry, but I was looking and I saw you! You disappeared, then reappeared with Zangulus sword. Only monsters can move through the astral plane like that!"
"Indeed," Celo calmly nodded. "However, I am not lying when I say I'm also human." By that point, Amelia and Zelgadis had recovered the unconscious Phythan and were rejoining Lina and Gourry. Amelia heard something about a monster, which meant she should probably start preparing a speech. She scouted for a place to climb up to, but it looked like none of the ruins and piles of debris were appropriate.
The argument continued, along with Lina's pointing. "That's impossible!"
"Is it?" Celo looked at Zelgadis, who was stuck with the task of carrying the unconscious Phythan. He had very bad luck, he was certain of it, as if his losing streak didn't make it obvious enough. The chimera cringed upon remembering how he treated Amelia. Apologies were certainly not his forte. It looked like she had already forgiven him, but he still felt bad about it. "What about your friend?" Celo decided that he was not going to point at Zelgadis, because Lina was clearly hogging the pointing spot light. Instead, Celo merely gave the chimera a glance and that was enough of an indication about who he meant.
Zelgadis looked offended and hurt, "I'm not a monster!" He would have ran away dramatically if not for the fact that he was carrying Phythan and no one can properly run away dramatically while carrying another person, regardless of how inspired to do so they are.
"I never said you were," Celo continued calmly. "I was merely expressing that you are a combination of human and something else. If that is possible, then why not a combination of monster and something else, with that something else being human?"
"Are you trying to tell me that you're a monster and human chimera?" Lina continued her relentless pointing, which by that point was becoming downright rude.
"Precisely," Celo's tone was ever so respectful and serene it was starting to get on everyone's nerves. It still wasn't as annoying as Xellos' constant cheer though. "Either way, I mean you no harm; after all you are allies of general Xellos, who is my superior."
"Xellos!" Lina spat out the name like poison, and yes, she was still pointing at Celo. "I knew there had to be something going on! Alright, what's the mission that Xellos' boss sent him to trick me into doing for him?"
"I believe that general Xellos is here to tend to some business of his own," Celo explained in partial revelations that left out the most important details. It was annoying. "However, he glanced in the general direction of Zelgadis and Phythan. "It seems that you have gotten mixed up in some business that I intended to clean up myself, so perhaps you wouldn't mind assisting me?"
"We don't make deals with monsters!" Amelia suddenly shouted with dramatic flare. She too was pointing at Celo along with the still pointing Lina.
"Unless they're rich monsters," Lina corrected, finally ceasing her pointing to instead cross her arms and nod her head.
Amelia stopped pointing as well because she nearly fell over, though she knew she should have expected something like that from Lina. "Miss Lina!"
Before Amelia could finish scolding Lina, Zelgadis interjected with an important inquiry of his own. "Since you're a chimera, and probably a very rare kind of chimera since I've never heard of a monster human chimera before," humans becoming monsters by a contract was something else entirely. "Can I assume that you're fairly knowledgeable about chimeras?"
"You may..." Celo remembered what Xellos had mentioned about someone being interested in a way to take chimeras apart. Celo wasn't well informed in that particular area of chimeraish, as it wasn't his main interest, but he wasn't about to point that out.
Zelgadis' eyes shone at the prospect of a new clue that could lead him to his cure. "Why don't you tell me all about your problem, I might be able to help."
That time Amelia really did fall over, albeit once again, she thought she should have known. "Mr. Zelgadis!"
Amelia's scolding was interrupted anew, this time by Celo. "I have gold coins, I have information and it seems I have an open door towards negotiation. That's good to know, but right now I need to tend to the possibility of my resort being reduced to nothing. Let us further discuss our prospective deals after Miss Martina subsides from her rampage. Mr. Zangulus should be able to bring her back to her senses."
"Should be?" Amelia didn't really like the sound of that.
Lina looked determined, "if he doesn't, I'll gladly knock some sense into her!" Amelia decided that she liked the sound of that even less. As if Martina wasn't causing enough destruction already, she didn't need Lina to add to it.
"Let us observe," Celo proposed, as he calmly made his way towards Martina, who seemed entertained by hurling pieces of scrap that were once part of elegant buildings at Zangulus.
Lina shrugged, Gourry looked clueless, Amelia let out a foreboding breath, Zelgadis readjusted Phythan's weight on his back and Phythan did nothing since he was still unconscious. Thus the entire group joined Celo in his calm walk towards Martina and Zangulus.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. Martina's olde lines were a bit annoying, since I had to Google the words to make sure they existed (note the past tense) because according to the spell checker they don't. But overall, I'm happy with the effect that the speech gives the situation. Martina's odd use of "ye" and the variations in Phythan's luck spell will be explained within the plot. Happy New Year!