To Live Another Day
Episode Forty-Nine: The Scent Of Passion
The monsters ahead of Xellos and Filia in the outskirts of Seyruun were varied in size, similar to minotaurs. They came mostly in dark colors such as black, gray and brown, except for the fuchsia one, who appeared to be their leader. Seriously, who would listen to a fuchsia minotaur? The brightly colored monster pointed an accusing troll-like finger at Filia. "There she is! She's the golden dragon who's been protecting Xellos. Look, she's got another dragon with her. That must mean it's true! Xellos somehow obtained the protection of the golden dragons, that disgusting traitor!"
"Xellos doesn't need any protection from the golden dragons, I mean, us, he doesn't need any protection from us." Xellos was at least grateful that the stupid monster didn't recognize him. What he couldn't' accept was their accusations. Maybe Filia had protected him, but she was an exception, the golden dragons, as in the stubborn ones who were the monster race's enemies, were a whole other story. Xellos was sure he would never seek or accept their help, not that they would ever offer it.
"Lies!" The fuchsia minotaur accused. "Attack, destroy the golden dragons that protect Xellos!"
That was it, Xellos was pissed off. There were about a dozen of those monsters, but he didn't care. He would Dragon Slave them into nothingness... and hopefully not slay himself in the process. Then again, maybe the Dragon Slave was over kill, after all, the monsters were so small. They were in fact a lot smaller than they were a second ago and so was Filia.
"For goodness' sake Xellos! Don't transform like that without a warning, I didn't need to see that again!" Filia yelled with a scarlet face.
Great, just great, now he was really a golden dragon, a fully transformed nemesis of the monsters. He might as well play the part and start getting rid of the minotaur monsters. He stomped on some, batted others away with his tail and fried quite a few with his laser breath. He wasn't thinking, he was just angry and decided to take his frustrations out on those monsters. By the time he was done with his hissy fit, the monsters were long gone from the world of the living.
"It's about time you calmed down!" The relatively small Filia levitated in front of Xellos with an angry expression and her hands resting on her hips. "That was very uncivilized."
"You're right; it was just like the temper tantrums you throw. How terrible of me to follow your wild example," Xellos retorted.
Filia growled, her temper was always lost with Xellos. No matter how prepared she thought she was, he always managed to find new ways to frustrate her. "Just stay here and don't cause any trouble while I go get you some clothes. Unlike me, you weren't carrying a jewel that stores your clothes when you transformed," she pointed at the torn shreds of fabrics that were the unwearable remains of Xellos' clothes.
"Fine," Xellos sat on the ground, crossing his clawed scaly golden arms in indignation.
xoxox xox xoxox
It didn't take long for Filia to return to Xellos' location on the path just outside of Seyruun with some clothes for him. He took the garments which looked quite small held by his large golden paw, then focused on changing back. It was a slower process to change back into a human-like form, or rather elf-like given the pointy ears, but he managed.
"Couldn't you have gone behind those bushes on the side of the road?" Filia complained. "What if someone was coming?"
"I checked, no one was coming," Xellos assured as he got dressed. He still couldn't get his tail to go away and thus ended up with a hole in his pants to accommodate his anatomy.
"I'm here!" Filia emphasized.
"So?" Xellos tried to get back into the habit of playfully teasing Filia and embarrassing her, but it just wasn't working. Her scent was too distracting. "It's your fault for stalking me. Now I'm going back to my room in the castle and sleeping until this," how could he describe being a golden dragon? "Horrible illness wares off."
"I'll see to that," Filia warned and the pair returned to the Seyruun castle.
xoxox xox xoxox
Once at the Seyruun castle, Xellos headed straight for his room with Filia still following him. In the room they found Fang and Phythan sleeping on the large purple sheet covered bed. "What are you two doing here?" Xellos inquired in annoyance, his patience was already all used up for the day.
Phythan woke up with a big yawn. "Hi, Xellos, Filia." He blinked away the remaining sleep from his eyes. "Xellos, that really is you, isn't it? You're a... a golden dragon?"
"Really? I hadn't noticed," Xellos replied sarcastically. "Did you come all this way just to point that out?"
"Actually, I'm here to pick up Fang, I just didn't want to leave without tell you, in case you needed Fang around for some reason. Lord Beast Master needs him for a pet show and I'm her assistant." Which meant that he got to follow Zelas around carrying her oversized purse and making a fool out of the dragon race, but he didn't see it that way.
"Assistant?" Xellos and Filia questioned in unison.
"Yeah, it's all part of the internship I'm doing. I hope to better understand monsters so that I may be a better defender of justice in the future!" Phythan cheered. Apparently, by some twisted logic, serving a monster lord was somehow a loop hole shortcut to justice.
"You're her intern?" Xellos couldn't believe it. He recalled Galathia's description of Zelas' intern; he was a strange one alright.
"Do you have any idea what this could be doing to the reputation of the dragon race?" Filia dramatized.
"Showing that the golden dragons are open minded beings willing to look beyond the superficial differences of race and ready to learn about a different culture." Phythan recited as if he was repeating something that someone else told him.
"It's good to know that the golden dragons are improving themselves. This is an example to follow, don't you think so Filia?" Xellos teased while Filia's face fell into distress and Phythan, who thought he was being sincerely complimented, smiled proudly.
"Well, I won't intrude anymore. C'mon Fang, Zelas is waiting for us to return." Before leaving, Phythan grinned cheerfully and voiced a happy, "congratulations, Filia."
Filia blinked in confusion, "congratulations for what?"
Ignoring the seemingly random congratulation, Xellos interrupted. "Before you leave, I need to have a word with you." He glanced at Filia, then looked back at Phythan, "out in the hall."
Filia crossed her arms and pouted, "what are you plotting Xellos?"
"Don't meddle this is a man to man, or dragon man to dragon man conversation." With that ambiguous excuse hanging in the air, Xellos was about to exit the room when Filia interrupted.
The female golden dragon pouted deeply and sharply declared, "you can talk here. Fang and I are going to my room. C'mon Fang, only dragon men are allowed to stay here." Throwing her head back in indignation, Filia marched out of the room, followed by Fang.
Once Filia was gone, Xellos asked the question that had been bothering him since he saw Phythan. "Do you, by any chance, perceive that peculiar scent coming from Filia?"
"Yes, that's why I congratulated her," Phythan answered as if that alone was enough to explain everything.
"What is that smell? Doesn't it bother you?" Xellos insisted. Phythan was a male golden dragon, so if this was some crazy mating season scent, shouldn't it drive him crazy too?
"Why would it?" Phythan looked confused. "It's the scent of a woman in love, it's a happy scent. It smells nice." There was a long pause during which Xellos tried to come up with another way to phrase his interrogations that wasn't mortifyingly embarrassing, but specific enough to get some useful information out of Phythan. Before such an idea came, Phythan realized something. "Oh, I get it, no wonder you're so twitchy, it's you. Don't hold back, go to her! Although you weren't a golden dragon before, so I guess you're not used to being one."
"I won't be a golden dragon forever, just for... a few more hours, or days." Xellos didn't know and the uncertainty bothered him more with each passing second. "Either way, what did you mean to say just now?" Xellos was visibly annoyed and not happy with having to have this conversation. Yet the need to understand what was happening plagued him.
Phythan paused as if to gather his thoughts, then began the explanation. "When a boy dragon and a girl dragon like each other and the girl dragon falls in love, her scent changes. All the dragons can notice the change, so they know the girl dragon is in love, but only the boy dragon that she fell in love with can perceive the scent of her love to its full potential and that's only if he returns her feelings. The two dragons in love are in a sense linked to each other you could say, they share a special connection, it's like magic. Anyway, when the boy dragon notices the scent of love that means that the girl dragon is ready to become his bride. The boy dragon should go to the girl dragon and declare his feelings for her. Then they can get married and live happily ever after. That's how it works, it's just like with birds and bees and other species."
Xellos could almost feel himself twitch. He could not believe that Phythan had just given him the dragon version of the birds and bees talk. "To summarize, it's an overload of bottled up lust." Mutual lust, but he didn't need to point that out aloud.
Phythan frowned in indignation, "golden dragons do not feel lust. Golden dragons fall in love and it's nice and pure and good," he emphasized.
"Right," Xellos decided not to dwell on the story too much. He would never understand golden dragons and their extreme obsession with pretending to be the purest creatures in the world, even if they were in the end, living beings with their own, often repressed due to their peculiar culture, needs, wants and desires. "That's all I needed to know." The conversation was over and Xellos wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm glad to be of help," Phythan smiled with the smallest hint of teasing in his eyes.
Xellos and Phythan went to Filia's room, where she and Fang were. Upon entering the room, the monster turned dragon and the innocent dragon were left in shock. Fang whimpered and bolted towards the new arrivals, hiding behind them. "Filia, what have you done, you cruel dragon?" Xellos was half teasing and half sincerely horrified.
"Don't you think Fang looks cute like this?" Filia smiled proud of her work. A pink bow sat atop Fang's head, tied around a tuff of fur. His once white claws were a metallic silver color and each of his two tails had a big pink bow on it. "If he's getting ready for a pet show, I thought I could help. Zelas liked her manicure and pedicure when I painted her nails golden, so she might like Fang with silver claws. They match his pretty, expressive eyes. I thought the bows were a nice touch too."
"If you're trying to get on Lord Beast Master's good side, you're doing a fine job of sabotaging yourself," Xellos commented. He wasn't supposed to feel compassion, but how could he not feel sorry for Fang?
"Men don't understand fashion," Filia stubbornly held her ground. "I'm sure Zelas will appreciate my help."
"I guess we'll see..." Phythan patted Fang on the back with the silent promise that he could take off the pink bows as soon as they were away from Filia. Though he could be ferocious, Fang was mostly a spoiled show pet and was trained not to put up a fight when he was being groomed. The golden dragon intern and the monster fox faded to the astral side and were gone.
Xellos and Filia stood in silence for a few eternal seconds until Xellos determinedly announced, "I'm going to take my nap now." He left Filia's room and headed for his own. As expected, Filia followed him suspiciously.
In his room, Xellos kicked off his shoes and laid down on the bed. Maybe if Filia saw him fall asleep she would go away. Except sleeping with her around would prove to be very difficult. He closed his eyes and remained as still as a statue, wishing that sleep would come.
Filia watched Xellos with an unblinking expression. He was laying there with his eyes closed, but he didn't look or feel relaxed. He was too tense; he couldn't be actually trying to fall asleep for real. She stared at him some more, which seemed to put him more on edge. She was right; he had to be plotting something. No doubt about it, the second she left him alone, he would run off to cause trouble in the name of the golden dragons. She remained in the same position, glaring at Xellos for a while, until she got tired of it and shifted. More minutes ticked away and Filia shifted some more. It looked like stubborn Xellos was still not sleeping.
She sat down next to him and he tensed further. She waited until he moved, until he admitted that he had no intentions of falling asleep, but he didn't. Filia was getting impatient; she laid down next to Xellos, wrapped her arms around him and closed her eyes. "What are you doing?" He asked in a low tense whisper.
"Taking a nap," Filia replied as if it was the most natural thing. Taking a nap might have been natural, but taking a nap hugging a monster, even if he was currently a golden dragon, shouldn't be. "I'm tired of waiting for you to try to sneak away. This way if you move, I'll notice. I'm guarding you for the sake of the golden dragons!"
"How noble," Xellos grumbled sarcastically. He wondered for how long a golden dragon could go without oxygen. If he held his breath until his face turned blue, than maybe he wouldn't have to breathe in that vexing scent that was too close for comfort.
A few more minutes passed and Filia was getting a little two comfortable, yet she could still feel Xellos on edge. What was it that had him like that? Suddenly, she found herself pinned to the bed with Xellos giving her a peculiar look of... desire? "What are you doing?"
"Didn't I tell you?" Xellos half growled. "You smell, your scent is... is... it's driving me crazy!"
Filia opened her mouth to speak and promptly closed it again. She was given Xellos exclusive empathy, but not understanding, not the power to interpret what she sensed. Furthermore, she had no previous experience in tasting emotions like Xellos did, thus she was having trouble discerning Xellos' feelings from her own. Maybe that unbearably strong attraction wasn't only hers, maybe it was his too. Yet he didn't have as much control over the strong instincts of a dragon because he wasn't used to being a dragon. She blushed scarlet. She couldn't deny that she was attracted to him when, due to his current form, he could perceive her telltale natural scent. She couldn't blame it all on him when she felt the same way.
"Just calm down." Filia's heart was pounding fast. A male golden dragon shouldn't be able to perceive a female's scent so strongly unless he returned her feelings. After she realized that the golden dragons were not as noble as they claimed to be, Filia questioned all their teachings one by one. She wondered if that story about the scent of love was nothing but a sugar coated version of the natural processes of life. Yet she had recently spoken to Phythan and he was just fine, he even congratulated her. He must have been able to notice her scent, but it didn't bother him. Xellos on the other hand had been all twitchy and tense from the start. That couldn't be only a coincidence, could it? Maybe there was some truth to that story about dragons and love after all. But then that would mean that Xellos had feelings for her, feelings that maybe he wasn't fully aware of himself.
"Easier said than done," Xellos admitted.
Filia could feel Xellos' warmth breath on her lips. She wanted to kiss him, but she couldn't. Xellos had told her before that monsters were not meant to resist temptations, he made it clear that he had no intentions of resisting. She had to be the one to keep a cool head and diffuse the situation, even if she didn't really want to, she simply had to. "Hold your breath, close your eyes and don't move." Slowly, excruciatingly slowly, Filia manage to slip away. "I... I'll leave you alone now. Just try to sleep it off," she advised with a crimson face, then swiftly exited Xellos' room, closing the door behind her.
The second Filia was out of sight, Xellos felt the irresistible need to go after her, but he resisted it anyway. Why was he resisting again? She was just about to give in and both of them knew it! There was a reason why nothing had happened and he needed to make sure he didn't push things. What was that reason? The reason he was in this whole situation to begin with. Oh yes, the curse, how could he forget about that? Once his temporary dragon form was gone, he would be a human again. He needed to earn Filia's love, as in not just her lust, in order to be a powerful monster again or he would surely be killed, probably sooner rather than later. He couldn't make her angry, or rather angrier.
Filia would harbor regrets, blame the whole incident on him and hate him with a passion, but passionate or not, hate was still a step away from love and it was evident that it wouldn't be enough to break his curse. Xellos buried his face on his purple pillow in frustration, screaming into it. The pillow smelled like Filia, it was most vexing. Then he felt something odd. Unlike before, he wasn't knocked out this time, but he felt himself change. His golden scaly dragon tail was gone, though the hole in his pants where it used to be still remained. He examined his hair and it was black, he was a human again!
Xellos knew he shouldn't be able to perceive that infuriating scent of Filia's anymore. He smelled his pillow. The acute scent of a female dragon in love was gone, but Filia's sweet scent was still there. It was okay, this was a normal scent, it was how she had always smelled to him. Then why wasn't he calming down already? Maybe it took time. He would take a nap and feel better when he woke up. He closed his eyes and stayed still, hoping for sleep to overtake him, but it refused to come.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. Xellos and Filia are two of the most stubborn characters in existence. It took forty-nine chapters to get them to breaking point. XD Many thanks to Sevichan for the awesome fanart based on Chapter 47. You can find it in my Deviant Art favorites, there's a link in my profile.