To Live Another Day
Episode Thirty-Five: Relatively Strange Relatives
Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos and Filia were well on their way to Filia's home town. The rest of the trip had gone relatively well, with no further allergic reactions from Xellos or accidental fan service being received by Filia, or anyone for that matter. "If we keep going at this rate, we should be getting there tonight," Filia stated with a hint of homesickness in her voice. She would be glad to feel the comforting familiarity of her shop, make sure that Gravos and Jillas were doing alright in her absence and gently hold little Val's egg in her arms once more.
After Filia's statement, the group made small talk about what they would do when they reached the town. Lina and Gourry were, as expected, looking forward to getting some food. They talked about times past and their adventure during the battle against Darkstar, until the chat was interrupted. Straight ahead in the middle of the road there was a strange being, obviously a monster by the looks of him.
The creature had the lower body of a horse with eight spider limbs sticking out from his back. A muscular troll-like torso emerged from the horse with a pair of thick arms ending in hoofs. The being was completely covered in black fur and had a face that looked like a combination of a spider and a bull. Three glowing red eyes glared at the approaching pedestrians with a pair of long fangs sticking out of the bull's spider-style snout.
"Will you look at that," Lina returned the creature's menacing glare with a confident glare of her own. "It's the welcoming committee!"
"Quite the ugly welcoming committee I would say," Xellos commented as if this was none of his business.
The monster's three red eyes landed on him as he spoke the name in a gruff yet screeching voice that was very unpleasant to the ears. "Xellos! I see it's true, the curse took you out earlier than expected. It goes to show that you weren't as strong as they said you were." The being laughed obnoxiously, vibrating as he did. A small crystal skull that hung from a golden chain bounced around his throat with the vibrations.
Just as Xellos was getting ready to retaliate to the insult and sent his bodyguard on a physical offense alongside his verbal assault, another voice pierced the air. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" The annoyance level of the voice matched that of the monster. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" The voice insistently repeated in the distance, but as of yet its owner remained unseen. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Every time the laughter was heard, it was closer to the group's location. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Even the monster had to pause and wonder what in the world that was. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Finally, the voice sounded very close by. Harsh breathing was heard and one final bout of laughter came. "Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!"
The monster stepped aside to reveal the woman who had ran over from the opposite side of the path and was catching her breath. She had come up behind the large monster, thus was unseen by Lina and company until that moment. "You again?" The monster sounded very much exasperated. "Now listen here lady, I'm getting really tired of having you follow me around trying to steal this," he pointed at the glass skull necklace. "I don't know how you survived our last encounter, but this time I'll have to make extra sure you don't make it out alive!" The monster paused with an undignified expression, if expressions were even noticeable on such a strange face. "Hey lady, are you even listening to me?"
The woman in question was not listening to the monster whose treasure she was pursuing. She was instead staring straight ahead at the group of travelers, while the travelers stared at her. Lina and Amelia's faces were especially shocked. Gourry was confused, but there was nothing new there and Zelgadis looked like he was thinking 'where did this weirdo come from?' Xellos appeared to have some amount of recognition about who the scandalously clad woman was and waited for the revelation to be spoken.
"Naga!" If Lina was deeply surprise at that point, her shock was about to double.
Simultaneous to Lina's voice, Amelia also expressed her recognition of the woman in the black leather bikini. "Sister?"
Both Lina and Zelgadis stared at Amelia in shock, or in shock and dread in Zelgadis' case. "What?" They unanimously chorused with Zelgadis hoping and wishing with all his might that he heard Amelia wrong. Then again, her family was anything but normal.
"Amelia, Lina!" Naga ran past the vexed monster and towards the familiar people. "What a grand day it is to be reunited with my sister and my rival at the same time!" She wrapped one arm around each girl, pulling them into an excessively tight hug against her abundant chest.
When Lina and Amelia managed to get free of Naga's affectionate grip, explanations were swiftly demanded, though Lina and Amelia's questions came out as a jumble of stuttered syllables. Finally, Lina lost her temper and shouted, "what's going on around here?"
"Miss Lina... Everyone..." Amelia faced the group, signaling to Naga. "This is my older sister, Gracia Ul Naga Seyruun."
"Sister! She's really your sister!" Lina's brain was being forced to assimilate an idea that simply made no sense what so ever, no matter how she looked at it. She had seen her fair share of strange things during her travels, but this took the cake by far.
Filia eloquently summed up the situation with an expressive, "oh my!" She didn't know what to say. For one thing, she didn't approve of Miss Gracia's attire, or lack of attire rather. But she didn't want to sound offensive and this was only their first meeting. Needless to say she simply didn't see the resemblance between Amelia and Gracia, or Naga as Lina had referred to her.
"Yes, Miss Lina," Amelia confirmed, "Naga, as she prefers to be called, is my sister."
"That's Naga the White Serpent," the eldest Seyruun princess corrected. "But you can all just call me Naga since you're friends with both my little sister and my main rival."
"Sisters... They're sisters..." Lina muttered in disbelief, suffering from what a later more advance society where computers exist would call a mental blue screen. She took a deep breath and tried to get over the shock, concluding that there are things in life that simply cannot be explained with anything resembling sense or logic, or cannot be explained at all. Besides, Lina wouldn't call her own sister normal either.
"Hi!" Naga cheerfully waved with a big smile, "nice to meet everyone!"
"You already know Miss Lina," Amelia continued with the introductions, making the verbal annotation with a tone that hinted she would require further information about how they met. "Have you met Mr. Gourry Gabriev? He's Miss Lina's fiance."
Naga made an exaggerated gasp, "her fiance? Really?" She gave Gourry a critical look, leaning in close to his face with an analytical "hmm..." She placed her right index finger under his chin and further examined his face with another, "hmm..." her nose almost touching his.
"What's the big idea, Naga?" Lina was positively fuming at the invasion of personal space Gourry was too stupid to realize he was suffering.
"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga laughed as she finally gave Gourry some breathing room. Her fit of loud laughter went on for several seconds until a full minute passed. Finally, Naga made a dramatic pause and declared, "I approve."
Gourry blinked in slight confusion. He wasn't sure how, but apparently this lady had just given him her approval. Approval was generally a good thing, so he concluded that he should thank her, thus he did. "Thank you," and he smiled.
"What are you thanking her for?" Lina screeched in exasperation. It was just like the old days; Naga could drive her insane in seconds. The difference was that this time the whole gang was along for the ride.
"Shall we continue the introductions?" Amelia prompted awkwardly, hoping to diffuse the situation. "This is Zelgadis Graywords, he's..." she blushed. She didn't think she would be introducing Zelgadis as her boyfriend to a member of her family so soon.
"He's blue," Naga stated with curiosity. She removed her right glove and took his face in her hand, once again invading someone's personal space.
Zelgadis wasn't sure if he should pull away or not. What if she didn't like chimeras? If this was anyone else, it wouldn't matter, but Naga was Amelia's big sister. Zelgadis didn't want to cause a discord between the siblings, even though before that day he had no idea Amelia had a sister like that. He did know that she had an older sister who was traveling around the world, but Amelia had not spoken too much about her and Zelgadis didn't press the matter. Needless to say, the picture of Amelia's sister in Zelgadis imagination was very different from Naga. With the limited information about her he possessed, he could only imagine an older Amelia. He remained still, quiet and uncomfortable, hoping that he could pass Naga's scrutiny like Gourry had and fearing that he would fail in her eyes.
Naga's bare hand traveled to Zelgadis' hair, which she carefully petted, then she lowered the hand to his face again, running her index finger down his cheek, to his neck. That's when Amelia had enough and decided to interfere with as much anger as Lina had before. "Sister!"
Just as Amelia was ready to Ra Tilt her own sibling, Naga was finally satisfied. She backed off and put her glove back on with a challenging serious look. "So you're my sister's lover," she bluntly stated critically.
"Her lover?" Zelgadis stuttered in disbelief, his face as red as Amelia's. "I'm not... we don't... we haven't..." He tried to explain the difference between lover and boyfriend but he was simply too embarrassed to do so.
"He's my boyfriend!" Amelia corrected, putting as much volume in her voice as her mortification allowed her to produce. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to be heard.
"A gentleman, is he?" Naga inquired with the same critical look that was making Zelgadis seriously nervous. If facing Amelia's sister was this nerve wrecking, how difficult would it be to face her father eventually?
"Very much so," Amelia assured, hoping that the detailed inspection would end. She was feeling terribly uncomfortable and her dear Zelgadis looked like he was being tortured.
"I see," Naga nodded and paused as if in deep contemplation. Her critical eyes landed on Zelgadis once again. "His skin is stony and cool to the touch," she stated judgmentally. "It is..." As Naga made a suspenseful pause, Zelgadis felt the whole world crumble around him. This was it, Amelia's sister would express her absolute disapproval of him and forbid her younger sibling from seeing him. He didn't think Amelia would just abandon him; she had a lot more loyalty than that. Yet he didn't want to be the cause of her fighting with her family. "It's..." By the time Naga finally found the word she was looking for, Zelgadis had braced himself for everything from grotesque to preposterous. "So cute!" Naga squealed in absolute joy.
Zelgadis' jaw hung open as everyone shared in the surprise. No one was expecting Naga to react like that, except maybe Amelia who muttered, "you did always like suspense."
Lina followed up with a comment of her own, "I should have known all that serious business stuff was fake!"
With another round of annoying laughter, "ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga reaffirmed her unmistakable consent, "I approve. It's good to meet you, dear brother. Please make me an aunt as soon as possible! I want to have lots of cute blue golem-like pointy eared nieces and nephews!"
Far from being happy, Zelgadis looked seriously worried. When he decided to date Amelia, he wasn't thinking about having kids. Naturally, it would be far too soon to be thinking of children, as he was still at the stage where he worried about meeting her family. "Mutant children..." he felt his countenance becoming deeply depressed, but he couldn't stop it. What if any future descendants of his inherited his looks? He wouldn't be able to give Amelia any normal children. Then again, sometimes chimeras had normal kids, didn't they? Or perhaps the child would be a mix of all their attributes, which brought a hopeful prospect at the thought of being more than half human.
"Yes!" Naga cheered happily, not realizing how she was traumatizing her future brother-in-law.
"I'm sure any kids we have will be perfectly fine, mutant or not, and everyone will love them." Amelia was trying to console Zelgadis, though she seemed to make him blush even more.
"Um... ah... yeah... you're right... no use worrying so soon..." Okay, so the chimera thing wasn't a big deal to Amelia. Naga already approved of him and Philionel had never appeared to be the superficial type. Besides, there were some who claimed that Philionel kind of looked like an ogre. Not to be mean or anything, but there was a certain resemblance, if only physical. He was thankfully, nothing like an ogre in terms of personality... as long as he wasn't angry. Given the fact that Amelia's family was so varied, so as to not say weird, the eventual addition of a chimera wouldn't really be much of a shock after Zelgadis took some time to think about it.
To save herself from further awkwardness, Amelia continued the introductions. "This is Miss Filia Ul Copt, she's a golden dragon."
"A dragon, really?" Naga was quite excited about the news. "I always wanted a pet dragon; let me borrow her Amelia, please! I want a ride! Transform Quicksilver and take to the skies!"
"I'm not a pet!" Filia yelled in indignation. Her first impression of Naga was not a pleasant one. Yet after seeing her express her support for Amelia and Zelgadis' relationship, Filia thought that maybe it was too soon to judge. Right now, she was back to her bad first impression.
"Why would you name a golden dragon Quicksilver?" Gourry inquired as if it was a very important detail. "Shouldn't it be Quickgolden?" He suggested.
"I suppose so," Naga mused. "You snagged yourself a smart one Lina!" The worse part about Naga's compliment was that it was not sarcastic at all, she was being completely sincere. "Either way, now that I think about it, I just remembered that Quicksilver is a boy name and this dragon is a girl. I think it was the name of some super fast running chimera guy, or was it a mutant? I forget. Anyway, Quickgolden doesn't have the right ring to it. What to name my ride..."
"How about Epona?" Gourry oh so helpfully suggested with a cheerful smile. At least his intentions were good. "One of the best swordsmen from my village who is also a good childhood friend of mine, named his horse that."
"Brilliant!" Naga joyfully declared. "I shall borrow the name for my dragon steed if you think your friend won't mind. You shall be known as Epona!"
"I'm not a horse!" Filia screamed at the top of her lungs as Naga attempted to jump on her back to try to get her to transform into dragon form.
"Naga, please stop!" Amelia pleaded in shame. "I thought you knew how to behave better than this!"
Naga ceased her antics and patted Amelia on the head. "Aw, don't worry little sister. I'm just kidding around; I'm not going to try to steal your friends... as long as you're kind enough to share them with me." She then turned to face the fuming Filia again and with the grace of a princess, she extended her cape in a light curtsy. "It is my pleasure to meet you, Filia Ul Copt is indeed a lovely name. What a coincidence that we both share a part of our names since I am called Gracia Ul Naga Seyruun. I hope that we can be good friends and I extend the same wish to all of you."
"That's much better," Amelia commended.
Lina was suffering from another huge shock. "Where did that come from?"
As he watched the scene unfold, Xellos felt that tickle again signifying that a fit of laughter was trying to come out against his will. He pushed it back; he didn't want to make any noise now. As mocking as he could be, he was only mocking when he had calculated that it was the right time. Laughter was a willing and controlled reaction, as were most, though he would mistakenly claim all, his reactions as a monster. Yet being human was different, his body didn't always do what he told it to.
Filia looked at Xellos curiously after she managed to tare her shocked expression away from Naga. Her reaction to Amelia's plea was behaving like a perfect lady. How in the world did she switch between the two personas so easily? That mystery would have to wait, because another more pressing matter was at hand. While the rest of the group was still focused on Naga, Filia noticed Xellos' discomfort. He had both hands over his mouth and was making muffled noises. "Are you choking?"
Choking on what, Filia couldn't possibly imagine. There was nothing but clear air to choke on around them, and people rarely choked on that. Xellos appeared to have mastered the art of breathing as a human easily enough, so what was his problem all of a sudden? Did he have asthma? Given his earlier unexpected octopus allergy, the possibility of being asthmatic could not be carelessly discarded.
Then Filia's theory went out the window when the source of Xellos' discomfort was revealed to be accumulated laughter that needed to be released from his throat. He couldn't help it, the laughter simply exploded and forced its way out in the sound waves around him uncontrollably. Everyone was staring at him in a instant, but even with their puzzled gazes on him, Xellos simply couldn't get himself to stop for several minutes. Finally taking a deep breath, he got all the laughs out of his system and calmed down.
Naga smiled blissfully, "you're quite a cheerful one, aren't you? Let's finish our introductions, Amelia?"
Still confused over the sudden laugh attack displayed by Xellos, Amelia woke up from her puzzled daze and completed the introductions. "This is Xellos, he's..." The younger princess was at a loss for words on how to describe one of their most unusual traveling companions, though they were all a little unusual in their own right.
"If I didn't know not to judge by appearances, I would say you're some kind of evil wizard," Naga interrupted in a joking tone. "Or maybe you're a monster in disguise!" She took his face in both hands, examining his eyes. "You have such amazing eyes and your hair looks so silky and soft," she rubbed her face against his hair.
"Stop it! Don't you know anything about personal space or modesty?" Filia blew up before she could stop herself or even think about the consequences of her outburst.
"Ah! Ha ha ho ha ha!" Naga laughed loudly, it was really getting on Filia's nerves. "You get stressed out too easily, Miss Epona."
"Filia!" The enraged golden dragon screeched, "my name is Filia!"
"Please forgive her, she has no manners, golden dragons are such rude creatures." Xellos patted Filia's shoulder. It was easier to deal with his own unwilling reactions such as the intense laughter he went through, when Filia was blowing up right next to him. At least he would say he wasn't the only one who had lost control. Then again, Lina had her temper tantrums too and Amelia had her justice speeches. Maybe losing control wasn't so rare in their group after all.
All the while, the evil spider-bull monster stood around shocked and appalled that he had been forgotten so easily.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. The mutant Quicksilver Naga mentions is a reference to Pietro Maximoff from X-Men: Evolution. The swordsman with the horse named Epona, mentioned by Gourry is Link from Legend of Zelda.