To Live Another Day
Episode Twenty-Six: Hidden Potential
Zangulus dramatically approached Martina as she threw boulders of debris at him in her wild state. He sliced through the projectiles, jumping from one to the other. "Martina!" He reached out to her, almost touching her, but he was thrown back by a great invisible force that sent him crashing to the ground below.
Martina lowered her levitation, landing near Zangulus. "Thou who tries to align fate and destiny. Wilt thou strike down thine companion now that she has become ye who wish for prosperity while pursuing ruin?"
Zangulus stood up with difficulty, holding his sword shakily in front of him. Then he lowered the blade. "No, it was never my intention to harm Martina. I only have this sword with me for self defense against the force possessing her. Release my Martina!"
"She who asks for ruin shall receive it," Martina rose her hand and brought it down in a swift motion. Blades of golden light appeared tracing the path of her fingers and colliding with Zangulus' upper body, reducing his bellhop uniform shirt to shreds.
At a distance that was close enough to comfortably watch and far enough to b relatively safe, there stood Celo, Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis, with the unconscious Phythan on his back. Celo rubbed his chin with his right hand, in a classic thinking pose producing a soft "hmm" sound.
"Hmm?" Lina echoed, "what does that mean?"
"The hero has lost his shirt, that means that the end of the battle is near." Celo nodded as if his assertion was based on nothing but the truest of science.
"What?" Lina screeched. "Ripped articles of clothing don't mean anything in real battles, this isn't that manga about the seven orange gems and the wish granting dragon I used to collect back home." Lina took a moment to muse that she hoped her collection was still safely hidden under her bed.
"If you don't believe me, just watch," Celo appeared to be fully confident about his conclusion.
Zangulus was clutching some sort of talisman that he was wearing around his neck, though it had been hidden under his shirt before. He removed the necklace and held up the talisman. "Look, Martina! This is lord Zoamelgustar's talisman; it's your most prized possession. You gave this to me in hopes that it would protect me. Don't you remember?" Zangulus dropped his sword and approached Martina holding up the talisman.
Martina's eyes were transfixed on the talisman, "Zoamelgustar?" She repeated unsure. "I know not such a name!" She prepared to launch the same attack as before with blades of yellow light flying towards Zangulus.
"Lord Zoamelgustar, protect me and help me save Martina!" A pale blue light emanated from the talisman forming a bubble around Zangulus as a protective shield.
Martina ceased her attack, "ye who eternally push and pull until it all falls into place. Ye to whom fate is a slaves. Ye who live believing you are slaves of destiny and thus become so. Ye who defy chance. Ye for whom innumerable destinies are reachable. If thou believest, thou shall achieve..." Just as Zangulus reached Martina, her eyes closed and she collapsed into his arms.
"Martina..." Zangulus held her protectively and gently caressed her face. "You're safe now..."
"See?" Celo sounded rather triumphant as he approached the couple. "I told you that the battle was about to end. I'm sure those two will be fine on their own for now. Let us give them some time to rest and discuss other matters."
"You just don't want to face Martina when she wakes up," Lina theorized, her assessment being met with nothing but a suspicious cough from Celo, who quickened his pace.
As the group walked through the resort towards wherever Celo was leading them to talk, they passed a festival style stand with many soft stuffed animals that could be won by knocking over a stack of bottles with a ball. The trick to it was that one of the bottles in each pile was glued to the table so it wouldn't fall. Just as they walked next to the stand, Lina glanced at it, screamed at the top of her lungs and jumped into Gourry's arms burying her face in his chest and trembling terrified. "Slug! A slug, it's a slug!"
The group glanced at the slug plush toy on the display among other such toys. "It's only a toy slug," Amelia gently pointed out.
"I don't care if it's alive or not, it's horrible!" Lina's voice was a bit muffled since she was still hiding her face against Gourry's chest, unable to even look at the terrible sight before her.
"It's okay Lina, it can't get you," Gourry tried her best to console her, gently petting her hair and hugging her close.
"What's all the screaming about?" Phythan started to wake up. "Where am I?"
"You're awake, good," Zelgadis dropped him and stretched.
"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia scolded as she hurried to help the dazed dragon to his feet. "You were unconscious for a while, Mr. Phythan." It was probably related to something Martina did when she lost control of whatever power it was she wielded back there.
"I was casting a luck spell, then I felt overwhelmed and..." his eyes, one of which was brown and the other violet, grew wide and fearful. "Spider!" He rushed to hide behind Amelia, who was noticeably shorter than him, thus not an appropriate person to hide behind. "Comrade of justice, I beg of you, please assist me in ridding the world of this evil!" He glanced at the toy spider once more. "On second thought, just get rid of it without me!"
"You have a phobia of spiders?" Zelgadis spoke in his most 'you're pathetic' voice.
Phythan nodded slowly, "the golden dragons didn't like me, they said I came from a bad family and would put me on clean up duty. The underground storage rooms were dark and had spiders."
"Aw," Amelia tried to console Phythan. "It's okay Mr. Phythan, you have new friends now, we'll keep you safe." All the while Zelgadis crossed his arms and looked annoyed, or perhaps more so jealous.
"I know what will make you feel better," Gourry continued his attempt to calm Lina. "I'll win you a prize. Give me three tries." He handed the employee in charge of the stand the appropriate coins.
Zelgadis gave up some coins as well, "two tries," it was the last bit of money he had left after his unlucky betting spree, but it would be worth it. He would win the toy spider for Amelia and she wouldn't refuse it since it was a gift. Then if Amelia had the spider in her arms, Phythan wouldn't get anywhere near her. Gourry prepared to throw the first ball, "wait," Zelgadis stopped him. "Try throwing a curve ball that hits all four targets."
"I can do that, but I don't think it'll work to knock them all down in one throw," Gourry mused. He held a yellow ball in his right hand, his left arm securely around Lina's waist.
"Trust me," Zelgadis kept his eyes attentively on the targets.
"Okay," Gourry threw a curve ball just as Zelgadis suggested. It flew in a semi-circular motion, hitting each of the four targets and knocking down several bottles.
None of the targets were knocked down completely, so no prizes had been won yet, but Zelgadis saw what he needed to see. "It's just as I thought. The hit should have at least lightly rattled all the bottles in each pyramid, but for each one there was a bottle that didn't move in the slightest. "For the first pyramid, aim at the bottle in the middle of the base; hit it hard enough to break it."
"Alright!" Gourry wasn't sure what this was about, but Zelgadis usually had good advice when he decided to express his opinion on something. Gourry threw the next ball just as Zelgadis said and shattered the bottle that was glued to the table, the aftershock of the movement causing the other remaining bottles to fall. "I won, and I still have one more try left!"
"For the second pyramid aim for the bottle on the right," Zelgadis advised.
Meanwhile the employee was looking nervous and annoyed. "It's not fair..." He muttered, but he dared not say anything else because the group looked strong and they appeared to be friends with the boss. He hoped he didn't get fired over this, though Celo merely looked amused.
The second pyramid of bottles was knocked down just the same as the first. "Alright, another victory!"
"My turn," aiming for the proper bottle, Zelgadis knocked down the two remaining pyramids in the same way. "You owe us two prizes each," he informed the frightened employee.
"Con-congratu-lations..." The worried employee stuttered. "What prizes would you like?"
"Hey Lina, what prize do you want?" Lina's was unresponsive to Gourry's question, she didn't want to look towards the stuffed animals on the stand because if she did, she would see the toy slug among them and she didn't want to look at it.
"Let's give her some time to think," Zelgadis suggested, to which Gourry nodded, the plotting look on Zelgadis' face missed by him completely. But it wasn't missed by Amelia, who gave him a curious glance. "That," he pointed at the plush spider, which the employee handed over. "Amelia," Zelgadis grinned in a combination of mischief and sweetness. "It's for you."
Amelia paused as Phythan backed away from her and hurried to hide behind Gourry and Lina, the blond swordsman being tall enough to actually hide him fairly well. Amelia accepted the toy spider and looked at it for a confused moment before her features lit up. "I understand, thank you Mr. Zelgadis, it was very kind of you to help."
"You're welcome," Zelgadis didn't quite understand Amelia's response, but he basked in his victory, yet it was short lived.
Amelia approached Phythan with the plush spider in her arms. "Mr. Phythan, this is your chance to vanquish your fears!" She threw the plush spider into the air.
Phythan let out a scared squeak, not worthy of a dragon, then shot his laser breath at the falling toy. It disintegrated into ashes that were carried away by the gentle breeze. The golden dragon looked relieved. "I'm so glad that spider is gone. Thank you, Miss Amelia and Mr. Zelgadis; I am in your debt."
"It was nothing," Amelia smiled happily, while Zelgadis just stood there in frozen shock. At least Amelia was happy, thinking winning the spider was all a noble deed to help Phythan.
Curious at the commotion, Lina had peeked over to Phythan and witnessed the spider incident, without looking at the terrible slug looming near by. Her features turned wicked, "I'll show that slug who's boss!" She started to form a fireball in her hand. Fearing for the safety of his merchandise and most of all his life, the employee quickly threw the plush slug into the air, away from other flammable materials. Lina hit the slug dead on with a fireball, leaving nothing but ashes in the breeze and she punctuated her victory with a villainous laugh. "Mwahahahaha!"
The employee looked displeased. Those terrible sadists were destroying his cute little plush toys. Such adorable stuffed animals were made to be hugged, cuddled and loved, not burned to ashes! "Are you bullies going to keep abusing my soft little plushies?"
"Slugs are evil; they're a waste of material that could be used to make something cute like... Like that kitty over there!" Lina pointed at another plush toy. It was a white cat with a red bow on her ear and blue overalls.
"You like that one best?" Personally, Gourry was leaning towards the pretty jellyfish plush next to it, but the cat was cute too. "Alright then, it's yours."
The employee sighed and handed over the cat plush sadly. He thought they were going to destroy the poor dear. Lina received the stuffed animal with a slight blush on her face and a shy, "thanks Gourry..." holding it gently.
"You're welcome," Gourry smiled. The employee appeared to be relieved. That's how plushies were supposed to be treated, with love.
"Choose a prize, Amelia," Zelgadis shyly suggested. His spider plan didn't work, but at least he could still get a plush toy for Amelia.
Amelia's face lit up with so much joy that Zelgadis could barely believe it. "Thank you, Mr. Zelgadis!" She was almost jumping with happiness as she examined the remaining selection of stuffed toys. "That one!" The employee handed the selected toy over to the young woman, hoping that she too had seen the errors of her ways in participating in the destruction of cute and cuddly innocent little soft plushies. She seemed to have learned her lesson as she was blissfully hugging her prize with the love and respect it deserved.
Zelgadis blinked in surprise. "Really, Amelia? A rock golem? I thought you would pick the one in blue with the red cape and the yellow S."
"It's cute, but I like this one, best." Amelia smiled hugging her plushie. Needless to say, the representation of the golem of yellow-brown stone was much softer than one of those could be in real life.
"If you say so..." this was Amelia, Zelgadis realized, one had to expect the unexpected.
"If our little detour is over, please follow me," Celo intervened. Night had already fallen between one thing and the other.
The group followed Celo for a short while, until they crossed paths walking down the street with some familiar faces. "There they are!" Filia hurried towards the group with Xellos close behind. She paused as she took in their appearances. "Those outfits and the bunny ears..." she tried her best not to laugh, but burst out in a fit of giggles anyway.
"Stop laughing!" Lina yelled with embarrass frustration. She hid her face with her cat doll; she had found a practical use for it pretty quickly.
"Really Filia, you're so rude," Xellos teased with a mocking grin.
"You should talk, you're laughing in silence!" Filia snapped, secretly thankful that the awkward silence that had formed between them was replaced with the comforting familiarity of petty arguments.
"At least I'm not being so obvious," Xellos defended. He then eyed Celo suspiciously. "May I ask what inspired you to tag along with Lina's little group?"
"He's hiring us," Lina piped in, all too glad to change the subject and steer the conversation away from matters concerning what she was wearing.
"Is he?" Xellos raised an eyebrow, one eye now open.
"Indeed," Celo nodded calmly.
Xellos felt Zelgadis' glare burning a hole in the back of his head and wondered what that was about. Then he remembered what was mentioned about chimeras in his earlier conversation with Celo. Zelgadis must have been thinking about how to stop Xellos from interfering. "I do hope you're not planning to play any tricks on them," Xellos warned.
Suddenly, the atmosphere appeared to be far tenser than before. "Of course not," Celo smiled, "I would never overstep your territory, general Xellos. I merely ask to borrow their services for a short while. Alas, not all monsters have your level of power. Some of us need to get by in different ways and it seems I'll need some help if I am to recover what was stolen from our master."
"Monster!" Filia gasped. She pointed at Celo; it seemed a lot of people had taken to pointing at him lately. "You're a monster?"
"Since we are revealing things, I might as well tell the truth. I'm a monster human chimera. It is good to see you again Miss Filia, it seems you've left your past life with the golden dragons behind. I commend you for that." There was that something again, the mysterious something that made Celo's super respectful tone incredibly infuriating.
"How much do you know about her?" Xellos growled before Filia could find her voice and respond. Just what did he mean by seeing her again?
"Only what I have heard," Celo responded vaguely. "Not nearly as much as the great general Xellos, I'm sure." Xellos glared in response to the thinly veiled implication, but made no effort to deny it. It seemed Filia had not noticed what Celo was playing at and assumed he was only referring to how Xellos always knew too much about things that shouldn't be any of his business.
"Monster!" Amelia exclaimed, pointing her accusing finger at Celo, who sighed helplessly. Would the pointing ever cease? "What kind of evil traps have you concocted against us?"
"I will reveal all once we are at a suitable place to talk," Celo smiled, keeping up with his respectful act. "If you do not wish to walk, I'm sure general Xellos can take you to the clock tower in the middle of the north forest where I shall be waiting, if he so approves of your attendance." Celo faded away into the astral side, teleporting back to the clock tower.
"We don't need Xellos' permission to go anywhere!" Lina yelled angrily. "And I can get there myself!"
"So many strange things are happening... monsters and that constant dark presence. It feels as if this entire place is surrounded in dark miasma, but then again, it's been like that all along, even if I don't see it." Phythan finally spoke after his long silence.
"Dark miasma?" Filia repeated, "I don't feel anything from the atmosphere, but..." She placed her hand on Phythan's forehead. "Why have your eyes changed color again?"
"What do you mean?" Phythan sounded as if he really didn't know what Filia was talking about.
"There's something there, some kind of presence in you, that must be what you're sensing that feels like miasma. It's... inside." Filia focused her senses on Phythan. "Maybe a curse? No, this is different from a curse." She slowly withdrew her hand, "what happened to you?"
Phythan shook his head, eyes downcast. "I don't know. A few more memories have come back to me, but I still don't know. I remember a little more about the battle with that monster, the monster that tried to steal the treasure I was guarding. I remember being attacked by golden dragons, then both the monster and I were left for dead. A figure in a black cloak approached us and..." A sharp pain coursed through his head and he was unable to continue. "That's all, I can't remember anything else, it just gives me a headache."
Filia knew that the information on Phythan's profile scroll was questionable and that the rumors she had heard probably had plenty of holes too. Maybe there wasn't a battle for the lamp, maybe it was all just a cover up to kill Phythan and the lamp just happened to be there. "Your family; what can you tell me about them?"
Phythan shook his head, "they all died long ago, fallen during missions, but that's classified information so I was never told about the specifics. I was led to think it was all because of the monster race, but somehow, I doubt that's completely true."
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. The manga collection Lina mentions is Dragon Ball Z. The plushie prizes are based on Hello Kitty, Fantastic Four (the Thing) and Superman. I don't own the copyright to any of those either. Only Celo, Phythan and any other minor original characters (the characters themselves minus the Slayers concepts) are mine. Congratulations if you caught all the references. There are still a lot of mysteries to solve, Martina, Celo, Phythan and let's not forget the mysterious Green Alchemist. More surprises are to come!
This story reached 100 reviews, so here's a new chapter to celebrate! The 100th review was sent by errieberrie. Hearing from my readers is what keeps this story alive, so send me your thoughts everyone! Even if it's a short 'I read it' I still appreciate it.